Who Holds the Right to World Government?
IN EVERY nation on earth today men realize that the world faces a final showdown in the matter of world government. There are many ideologies. One ideology submits everything and everyone to the State. In another, the individual man has a voice in government, each one having a share in sovereignty. One ideology rules out religion, substituting what amounts to another religion, atheism, seeking to convert all to its tenets. Another says that religion—any religion, the one of your choice—is necessary to the continuance of satisfactory government.
Does any one form of government have the right to rule this earth? If so, is it a right government, with power to take this rule and administer it to the benefit of the people? Does religion have any place in this government? And does your choice of government or religion have any effect on the form of government earth will have, or, rather, does it determine whether you will be allowed to live under that government or not?
The Creator of heaven and earth long ago foreknew and foretold the present dilemma, and with understanding and empathy he set the righteous standards for that government and stated who will rule. Not only this, but he used a nation to enact a complete pattern of his government for earth. In doing so he showed what relation our choice of both government and religion would have to our prospects for living under his provided government.
The key to understanding of the subject lies in the prophecy at Genesis, chapter 49, verse ten: “The scepter will not turn aside from Judah, neither the commander’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to him the obedience of the people will belong.” Shiloh is understood to mean “The One Whose It Is.” To find out who he is and what the government under his scepter means to us, we must go back to the people to whom this prophetic statement was made and see how God dealt with them to make patterns of this coming Shiloh and his government.
GOD THE INVISIBLE SOVEREIGN
An appropriate time to look in on these people is when they are about to enter upon the duties of occupying and governing a land. It is springtime, the most inauspicious time to cross the Jordan River, for it is at flood stage as the Israelites and a vast mixed company of followers approach to cross into Canaan. But this poses no problem for the Sovereign of the universe. As soon as the feet of the priests carrying the golden ark of the covenant touch the floodwaters they miraculously begin to recede and in a short while drain off into the Dead Sea, leaving the riverbed dry. While these priests stand still in the middle of the riverbed, the millions of people, with their cattle, cross over into the land of Canaan. Then the ark of God follows and the floodwaters overflow the riverbanks again.
This is being observed by pagan inhabitants of Canaan, and how it strikes terror into their hearts! Israel, under God’s perfect leadership and timing, cross on the tenth day of Nisan, the very day they must take the passover lamb into their dwellings. But before the passover meal can be celebrated a general circumcision of the males has to be carried out. Joshua, Caleb and the priests and Levites had been circumcised already, but not the others, those born during the forty years’ wilderness journey. By Nisan 14 all are fully recovered and they observe the passover on time at Gilgal, not far from the walled city of Jericho.—Josh. 5:1-10.
Now the Israelites are in the land “flowing with milk and honey.” So, exactly on time, God stops supplying the manna, on which they have fed for forty years. (Josh. 5:11, 12) In this year the count begins for celebrating the sabbath years and the liberty-bringing Jubilee years. Their faithful keeping of these determine whether they will continue in their God-given land or not. From this year, 1473 B.C.E., to the end of the reign of their last human king, Zedekiah (607 B.C.E.), they will be obliged by God’s law to celebrate 17 Jubilees and 121 intermediate sabbath years.
Under Joshua as God’s appointed judge the Israelites are kept busy for the next six years subduing the nations in the land and allotting the territory to the twelve tribes. Now their faith undergoes a real test, for the following year the land must enjoy its first year of sabbath rest. Under divine blessing the obedient Israelites survive until the harvest of the land on the eighth year.—Lev. 25:18-22; Josh. 14:1 to 17:18.
Now, more than 300 years since Abraham’s day, King Melchizedek is no longer at Salem (now Jerusalem), and pagan Jebusites, cousins of Nimrod, occupy the city. Jerusalem is in the territory of the tribe of Benjamin at the border of Judah’s territory, but it is such a strong city that the Jebusites hold it all the days of Israel’s judges.—Judg. 1:21.
The Israelites locate the Tabernacle at Shiloh, about twenty miles north of Jerusalem and ten miles south of the Levite city of Shechem. The twelve tribes go up to Shiloh to offer sacrifices and to celebrate the passover and feast of weeks or “Pentecost.” Shechem is also a “city of refuge” for the unintentional manslayer to run to for protection from the avenger of blood.—Josh. 20:7; 21:20, 21.
A CHOICE HAS TO BE MADE
At Shechem, Joshua, near the close of his life, gives his farewell speech to the nation, strongly putting before them the choice of serving either the gods of Babylon or the one living and true God, Jehovah. He says:
“Jehovah the God of Israel has said, ‘It was on the other side of the River [Euphrates] that your forefathers dwelt a long time ago, Terah the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, and they used to serve other gods. In time I took your forefather Abraham from the other side of the River . . . and made his seed many. . . . Jacob and his sons went down to Egypt. Later on . . . I went plaguing Egypt . . . and afterward I brought you out. . . . ’
“And now fear Jehovah and serve him in faultlessness and in truth, and remove the gods that your forefathers served on the other side of the River [Euphrates] and in Egypt, and serve Jehovah. Now if it is bad in your eyes to serve Jehovah, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve, whether the gods that your forefathers who were on the other side of the River served or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are dwelling. But as for me and my household, we shall serve Jehovah.”—Josh. 24:1-15.
So, looking to the coming of Shiloh, “the one whose it is,” they must choose the true religion to be able to enjoy his ruler when he does come. Joshua presents this choice between the gods of Babylonia and Jehovah while the third dynasty of kings rules in ancient Babylon, far to the east. Little do people of the world realize today that they are faced with the same choice in these the final days of Great Babylon, whose downfall is foretold in sacred Bible prophecy.
Here is an example of the right choice for us to make today. The Israelites answer: “As for us, too, we shall serve Jehovah, because he is our God.” (Josh. 24:16-22) Does this right choice in the matter of worship prove to have a good effect on their serving under the rulership of Jehovah their King? The record reads: “And the people continued to serve Jehovah all the days of Joshua and all the days of the older men who extended their days after Joshua and who had seen all of Jehovah’s great work that he did for Israel.”—Judg. 2:7.
Jehovah reigns as the real King, the heavenly King of Israel, from the time of Judge Joshua through the 356 years that his appointed judges administer justice and deliver Israel from their enemies. In the days of Samuel, the last judge and a prophet, Jehovah’s words come true: The Israelites ask to have a visible, human king. Jehovah comforts the hurt Samuel with these words: “Listen to the voice of the people . . . for it is not you whom they have rejected, but it is I whom they have rejected from being king over them.”
Showing that they must practice true worship in order to have his kingship, God tells Samuel: “In accord with all their doings that they have done from the day of my bringing them up out of Egypt until this day in that they kept leaving me and serving other gods, that is the way they are doing also to you.” Samuel then warns what it will mean not to have God exclusively as their King, but the Israelites say: “No, but a king is what will come to be over us. And we must become, we also, like all the nations [including Babylonia].”—1 Sam. 8:1-20.
A TEST OF HUMAN KINGSHIP
The tribe of Judah had taken the lead in subduing the inhabitants of the Promised Land. (Judg. 1:1-4) But Jehovah chooses Saul, of the tribe of Benjamin, as Israel’s first human king. God does not here offer the tribe of Benjamin the opportunity of providing the Messiah or Christ, the Anointed King who is to be the Seed of God’s “woman” promised in the garden of Eden. He, Shiloh, was to come through the tribe of Judah. King Saul now comes under test, however, as to whether the kingship deserves to continue in his family.—1 Sam. 9:1 to 11:15; Gen. 49:27.
After just two years of reigning Saul fails in his test by taking it on himself to perform the sacrificial service of a priest, to act as a king-priest like Melchizedek. God therefore tells him: “And now your kingdom will not last. Jehovah will certainly find for himself a man agreeable to his heart; and Jehovah will commission him as a leader over his people, because you did not keep what Jehovah commanded you.” (1 Sam. 13:1-14) Eight years later this man is born in Bethlehem of Judah, in 1107 B.C.E.
Saul goes from bad to worse, finally committing an act of rebelliousness as bad as the “sin of divination” practiced by ancient Babylon. Then Jehovah declares the royal rule to be definitely ripped away from him and his family. (1 Sam. 15:1-29) Jehovah sends Samuel to Bethlehem secretly to anoint the young shepherd David of the tribe of Judah to be future king over Israel. Later, David, with God-given courage, destroys the Philistine giant Goliath, and is taken by Saul into his army, becoming army commander.—1 Sam. 16:1-23; 17:20 to 18:5.
Eventually, because of David’s successes, Saul becomes envious, seeing in David the possible “man agreeable to [Jehovah’s] heart” to whom the kingdom is to come. (1 Sam. 18:6-9) He threatens David’s very life, makes David an outlaw, and hunts him down like a wild animal. However, David and his band never strike back against the “anointed of Jehovah.” Jehovah all this time protects David, training him for the kingship as a lion cub, as foretold at Genesis 49:9. He would prophetically picture the promised Shiloh.
CHOICE OF BABYLONISH RELIGION BRINGS DOWNFALL
In the fortieth year of his reign King Saul faces a battle with the Philistines near Mount Gilboa. Realizing that he is abandoned by Jehovah God, he turns to witchcraft,* which he had at the beginning banned from his kingdom. By night he visits a surviving witch at Endor and tries to communicate through her with dead Samuel for information. Saul thus resorts to demonism. A demon impersonates Samuel to the witch of Endor, to her mind’s eye, and transmits through her a message of doom to King Saul. Not “tomorrow,” as the demon incorrectly says, but a number of days later King Saul and three, not all, of his sons fall in battle at Mount Gilboa. King Saul, wounded by a Philistine arrow, hastens his own death by falling on his royal sword.—1 Sam. 28:4-25; 31:1-13.
Then, at the priest city of Hebron, the men of Judah come and anoint David as king over the house of Judah, in 1077 B.C.E. (Josh. 21:9-12; 2 Sam. 1:1 to 2:4) After some time the other tribes come to King David at Hebron and enter into a covenant with him before Jehovah and anoint David as king over Israel. “Thirty years old was David when he became king. For forty years he ruled as king. In Hebron he ruled as king over Judah for seven years and six months; and in [Benjaminite] Jerusalem he ruled as king for thirty-three years over all Israel and Judah.” Jerusalem at this time (1070 B.C.E.) remained a Jebusite stronghold.—2 Sam. 5:1-5.
“THE ONE WHOSE IT IS”
At this, the third anointing of David, the scepter and commander’s staff over all Israel comes to the tribe of Judah, to continue in that tribe in fulfillment of the patriarch Jacob’s prophecy: “The scepter will not turn aside from Judah, neither the commander’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to him the obedience of the people will belong.”—Gen. 49:10.
Paul the apostle showed how this prophecy proved true when he said:
“After these things he gave them judges until Samuel the prophet. But from then on they demanded a king, and God gave them Saul son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years. And after removing him, he raised up for them David as king . . . From the offspring of this man according to his promise God has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus.”—Acts 13:16-23.
King David was the son of Jesse, and the prophecy at Isaiah 11:1, 2, 10 was fulfilled in Jesus as the offspring of David: “And there must go forth a twig out of the stump of Jesse; and out of his roots a sprout will be fruitful. And upon him the spirit of Jehovah must settle down, . . . And it must occur in that day that there will be the root of Jesse that will be standing up as a signal for the peoples. To him even the nations will turn inquiringly, and his resting place must become glorious.” This Jesus, the offspring of Jesse through David, became also the “root of Jesse” from three aspects: (1) Jesus Christ has kept the genealogical line of Jesse alive by becoming the permanent heir of Jesse. (2) He becomes Lord to David and so to David’s father Jesse, as the apostle Peter explained at Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost of A.D. 33:
“Actually David did not ascend to the heavens, but he himself says, ‘Jehovah said to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet.’” Therefore let all the house of Israel know for a certainty that God made him both Lord [to King David] and Christ, this Jesus whom you impaled.”—Acts 2:14, 34-36; Ps. 110:1; Matt. 22:41-45.
There can be no question about it. The Creator and Sovereign of the universe has made this Jesus Christ “The One Whose It Is.” Not only has he shown this by his dealings with the nation of Israel and his covenants with them, but also he has tested and proved this One as the perfect One, whose integrity to Jehovah is unbreakable, who will carry out all His judgments in perfect fairness and justice, putting God’s right principles and laws into effect throughout the earth. He is a king-priest like Melchizedek forever, therefore is both God’s chief one in government and High Priest of the true worship of God. A choice of worship and government has to be made. We cannot establish the rule of Shiloh in the earth, but the choice that we make greatly affects our lives and our prospects for life under the peaceful reign of the great Shiloh, “The One Whose It Is.” This will be further graphically proved as later issues of The Watchtower consider the matter.
Regarding witchcraft in ancient Babylon, we read: “Another class of beings was greatly feared by the Babylonians, namely warlocks and witches. These were usually men and women who were deformed, or who possessed some physical peculiarity which led their neighbours to believe that they were closely associated with devils, and that they sometimes served as dwellingplaces for the powers of evil. As possessors of human intelligence, they were often considered to be more baneful than the devils themselves. They were specially masters of the Evil Eye and the Evil Spell, and they employed all the practices of the priests who exorcised devils, but with evil motives and the intent to do harm. The priests were masters of White Magic, and the warlocks and witches of Black Magic. The incantation, which in the mouth of a priest made a sick man well, in the mouth of the witch procured his death.”—Page 150 of Babylonian Life and History, edition of 1925, by Sir E. A Wallis Budge, KT.