Who Should Rule Mankind?
Will it be men of the East or of the West? Or does God have some other purpose?
IN THE Communist East and in freedom-hating dictatorships among Western countries autocratic rulers force their will on more than a billion people, over a third of the earth’s population. Ruthlessly they oppress their subjects, brutally mistreating anyone expressing a desire for liberty. Those who abhor despotic rulers agree that such men should not rule, but, on the other hand, do they agree among themselves on the one who should rule mankind?
The constant jostling of political factions in liberal lands to oust those who are in office and replace them with other men shows dissatisfaction even with these rulers. Although they are elected by the people, it is a common thing to read of the exposure of such officials as corrupt, self-seeking and woefully indifferent to the needs of the ones who elected them. For that reason in many lands the law limits the time that any one man may hold office. None of the political governments of earth are in position to produce a ruler who is of such unimpeachable integrity and who is so completely devoted to the welfare of the people, regardless of their race or economic status, that his rule would be a real and lasting blessing to all mankind. The best they are able to produce is a government that may offer limited benefits to all and greater benefits for a privileged few and that for only a short period of time. Why?
The written Word of Jehovah God reveals why man’s efforts to govern himself have been such a frustrating experience. It says: “The kings of earth take their stand and high officials themselves have massed together as one against Jehovah and against his anointed one, saying: ‘Let us tear their bands apart and cast their cords away from us!’” (Ps. 2:2, 3) Rulers of Christendom may protest that they are not against God, that they do not reject his anointed Son, but God says they do. The history of man rule shows why.
It was the first man, Adam, who rejected the law of God, deciding for himself what was good and what was bad. But particularly since the time of dictator Nimrod, who, following the flood of Noah’s day, set himself up as a mighty one, a ruler of his fellow men, have men tried to establish governments that would not be controlled by God. They have foolishly rejected the Supreme Sovereign from being the invisible Ruler over them and have refused to obey his laws. The difficulties to which this can lead are well illustrated in the nation of Israel.
“GIVE US A KING”
For four centuries after their escape from Egypt, the nation of Israel was unique among the nations of the world. It had no visible king but was ruled by Jehovah God. His laws governed them, tying them closely to his sovereignty. Faithful men served as overseers to see that his will was carried out for the good of the people. As long as they obeyed their invisible Ruler they prospered. But instead of being content with this righteous King, they pleaded for a human ruler.
“Give us a king”! they cried to the prophet Samuel. (1 Sam. 8:6) They wanted to be like the nations around them, having a human king that would go out before them in war, one whose pomp and splendor they could see. It was not that they had no ruler; they did—Jehovah God himself. He was their King. Jehovah even gave them visible governmental representatives, the judges, faithful men whom he raised up to serve his people. But there was no hereditary line of rulers; there was none of the showiness that characterized the royalty of the nations around them. Foolishly they rejected Jehovah as their King. Despite Samuel’s warning of how a human king would oppress them, they kept insisting on having things their own way. To Samuel, who was grieved by their stubbornness, Jehovah said: “It is not you whom they have rejected, but it is I whom they have rejected from being king over them.” (1 Sam. 8:7) Yet, in granting them their request for a human king, Jehovah did not relinquish his authority over them.
The government in Israel continued to be a theocratic one. The king was anointed at Jehovah’s command and the laws of the land were the laws of God. But it was not long until the king himself failed to submit to the One over whose people he ruled. The laws of God were flouted; His worship was forsaken. When the nation thus turned its back on God, calamity followed.
Out of forty-three kings in a period of 510 years only six had such sufficiently good relations with God that it could be said that they did what was right in the eyes of Jehovah. These were David, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Jotham, Hezekiah and Josiah. The other thirty-seven were guilty of failures that marred their reign so that they did not deserve such a favorable comment.
Their very first king developed an inflated opinion of himself and set them a bad example by being disobedient to God. Their third king, Solomon, also turned bad, leading them into pagan idolatry. He was responsible for their practicing the loathsome rite of burning their sons and daughters as sacrifices to grotesque idols. This abominable worship of false gods brought Jehovah’s righteous indignation against the nation as a whole, causing it to be split into two kingdoms during the reign of Solomon’s son Rehoboam.
The ten tribes that broke away formed a northern kingdom. Although Jehovah admonished them through his prophets, not one of the twenty monarchs that ruled them during the existence of the Northern Kingdom led the people in the way of obedience to Jehovah and of clean worship. Not one had entirely good relations with him. This could lead to but one thing.
Incensed at the Northern Kingdom of Israel because of its persistence in doing what is bad, Jehovah brought it to a violent end after an existence of 257 years. “Jehovah got very incensed against Israel, so that he removed them from his sight.” (2 Ki. 17:18) The last king, Hoshea, was overthrown in a three-year siege begun by the Assyrian king Shalmaneser, and the ten tribes of Israel were thereafter taken captive, probably at the order of Sargon II. This national disaster for the Northern Kingdom was a harbinger of what was due to come on the Southern Kingdom for the same reason—unfaithfulness to God.—2 Ki. 18:9-12.
After the fall of the Northern Kingdom the Southern Kingdom continued for 133 years. Although good king Josiah ruled for thirty-one of these years, he was unable to reverse the national trend. After his death the people continued in the way of idolatry and general disobedience to Jehovah as before his reign. Finally God brought the Southern Kingdom and its dynasty of Judean kings to an end by giving them into the hands of the Babylonians. Its cities were destroyed, its surviving people were mostly taken away captive to Babylon and the land became a desolate waste.
Despite repeated warnings from Jehovah’s prophets, the people of both kingdoms followed the disgusting example of their many bad kings. “They continued to serve dungy idols, concerning which Jehovah had said to them: ‘You must not do this thing’; and Jehovah kept warning Israel and Judah by means of all his prophets and every visionary, saying: ‘Turn back from your bad ways and keep my commandments, my statutes, according to all the law that I commanded your forefathers and that I have sent to you by means of my servants the prophets.’”—2 Ki. 17:12, 13.
The grave mistake these people made in rejecting God as their King and failing to obey his commandments led to national disaster. Their experience well illustrates the point that mankind must listen to God and submit to his arrangements if they are to prosper.
Does God have among the governments now on earth one that represents him? Is there a human king, dictator, premier or president who rules by divine appointment? No! There has been no such divinely approved government among men since God permitted the Babylonian hordes to overthrow Jerusalem in the seventh century before Christ. To Jerusalem’s last king, Zedekiah, Jehovah said: “Remove the turban, and lift off the crown. This will not be the same. Put on high even what is low, and bring low even the high one. A ruin, a ruin, a ruin I shall make it. As for this also, it will certainly become no one’s until he comes who has the legal right, and I must give it to him.”—Ezek. 21:26, 27.
At that time Satan the Devil became in the fullest sense “the god of this system of things.” (2 Cor. 4:4) All the governments of mankind were under his control. For that reason the apostle John declared: “We know we originate with God, but the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (1 John 5:19) Therefore, whether the idea personally appeals to one or not, if he believes the Bible he must accept the fact that all the rulers of the governments of the earth, no matter how well meaning some of them may be, are under the control of Satan the Devil. Jesus said of his followers: “You are no part of the world.” (John 15:19) But the rulers of this world very definitely are part of this world. They are devoted friends of it and work for its perpetuation. They may be devout church members and profess to worship and serve the God of the Bible, but the Bible sets matters straight when it says: “Do you not know that the friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever, therefore, wants to be a friend of the world is constituting himself an enemy of God.” (Jas. 4:4) Severe disillusionment awaits those who put their confidence in them. Now as never before it is urgent to look to the One approved by God and to submit to his rule.
THE RIGHTFUL RULER
The one “who has the legal right” and who has received the authority to rule from God is not a power-hungry atheistic dictator of the East, nor is he a democratically elected ruler of the West. The one empowered by God is his own Son Jesus Christ. Already he thrones as king in the heavens. To him God has given “rulership and dignity and kingdom, that the peoples, national groups and languages should all serve even him.” (Dan. 7:14) Kings of the earth and high officials who continue to struggle for world control do so in defiance of the kingdom of God. They do not want to submit to God’s enthroned king; they want to be the ones in power. After commenting on their defiant attitude, the second Psalm goes on to say: “The very One sitting in the heavens will laugh; Jehovah himself will hold them in derision. At that time he will speak to them in his anger and in his hot displeasure he will disturb them, saying: ‘I, even I, have installed my king upon Zion, my holy mountain.’” To his king he says: “You will break them with an iron scepter, as though a potter’s vessel you will dash them to pieces.”—Ps. 2:4-6, 9.
Yes, Christ the King will bring to an end all these men who turn the attention of mankind away from the kingdom of God, which is mankind’s only hope. The time is now near when Christ will go into action against the wicked elements both visible and invisible and destroy them in the “war of the great day of God the Almighty.”—Rev. 16:14.
Under his Kingdom rule righteousness will prevail in every part of the earth. Greedy, self-seeking officials will be a thing of the past. Concerning this New World king it is said: “The scepter of your kingdom is the scepter of uprightness. You loved righteousness, and you hated lawlessness. That is why God, your God, anointed you with the oil of exultation more than your partners.” “In his days the righteous one will sprout, and the abundance of peace until the moon is no more. And he will have subjects from sea to sea and from the [Euphrates] River to the ends of the earth.” What a joy it will be to have as the one ruler for all mankind one who really loves righteousness! What a blessing to be ruled by one who is approved of God and whose rulership God will crown with sure success!—Heb. 1:8, 9; Ps 72:7, 8; Isa. 9:7
By means of this rightful ruler for all mankind the earth will be brought to a state of paradisaic loveliness, free from war and calamity, even free from sickness and death. He is the ruler who will lead mankind in united worship and obedience to Jehovah God, to the glory of his Father and to the blessing of all his subjects.—1 Cor. 15:26; Isa. 66:23.
And what assurance is there that these things will come about? The assurance of God himself who has promised them. These are not the vain hopes of men, but the purposes of God set out in his Word the Bible. Jehovah God, the Creator of heaven and earth, is almighty; nothing can make his purposes return to him without fulfillment. The question of world rulership has already been decided by him. Soon all who fail to submit to Jehovah’s ruling King will be destroyed forever. Now, therefore, is the time to prove that we are his disciples by maintaining separateness from the world, its power-grabbing political systems and the God-dishonoring religions that set aside God’s Word. Now is the time to dedicate ourselves to God and to become public advocates of his kingdom in the hands of Jesus Christ. So doing, we will be numbered among those whom he will preserve alive through this world’s end to be his happy subjects in the enduring new world.