What Price Government?
IN ORDER to get rulership or power in government, men have been ready to stoop very low. World history is filled with the names of rulers who have used bribery, lies, intrigue and murder to gain power. Men have murdered their wives, and wives their husbands; sons, daughters, mothers and close relatives have been imprisoned, enslaved, poisoned, beheaded and slaughtered in a lust for governmental power. Some have been willing to betray their country to an enemy nation—a terrible price to pay.
The Bible tells us that there have been seven great world powers that have succeeded one another in ruling over humankind in the world’s political field, namely, Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome and finally the Anglo-American Empire system. The world’s system of political government is pictured in the Bible as a “wild beast” having “seven heads.” How did this “wild beast” and the “seven heads” thereof get their authority in government and what price did the beast and its component governments have to pay for this authority?
WHAT THE THRONE IS
The Bible speaks of the “throne” or “seat” of the “wild beast.” (Rev. 13:1, 2; AV) Would this mean the capital city of the world power that happened to rule at any period of history? We know that during the rule of the seven world powers the capital city representing the dominant world power has changed with the change of political control. From the seventeenth century up until World War II, England dominated as the world power and in the latter part of this period was joined by the United States; but during that time the British Empire was the stronger member, its capital being London, England. After World War II the United States became the stronger one of the dual world power, its capital being located in Washington, D.C. Would this be what could be called now the seat or “throne of the wild beast,” since it is the stronger one of the present Seventh World Power?
A throne stands for the seat of rulership or of kingdom. The throne would be the office or dignity of the government as a sovereign. Its location would have reference to the basis of its authority or that on which rests the grant of the power and authority to act in a sovereign way.
For example, the first prophecy uttered, at Genesis 3:15, gave the promise of a seed to crush the serpent’s head. This promise was directed toward Abraham when God told him that his seed would take possession of the gate of his enemies, indicating that the seed would rule. The seed would bear the scepter of rulership and was to be known as Shiloh, meaning “the one whose it is.” These promises reveal that the seed to come would have his rulership by authority from Jehovah God.—Gen. 22:17; 49:10.
David, who as king foreshadowed Jesus Christ the King of the kingdom of God, was said to sit upon “Jehovah’s throne.” (1 Chron. 29:23) Jehovah was therefore the Source and Foundation of David’s power and authority as ruler. Of Jesus, it was prophetically said in the Psalms: “God is your throne to time indefinite, even forever; the scepter of your kingship is a scepter of uprightness.” The apostle Paul actually applied this text to Jesus where he said: “But with reference to the Son: ‘God is your throne forever, and the scepter of your kingdom is the scepter of uprightness.’” (Ps. 45:6; Heb. 1:8) From these things we see that Jesus’ throne, which means his office or authority as sovereign, has its source in Jehovah. Jehovah is the Originator and Giver of his throne. Christ’s kingdom would therefore carry out the purposes of Jehovah and bring honor to him.
Certainly the basis for the throne of the “wild beast” is not in Jehovah God’s promise of the Messiah, the Seed of his heavenly woman. It is not a throne “by the grace of God.” Revelation says: “The dragon gave the beast its power and its throne and great authority.” (Rev. 13:2) The “throne of the wild beast” was given by the Dragon, Satan the Devil. The “throne” functions within the allowance of activity and time that Jehovah God granted to Satan the Devil to carry out his enmity against the Seed of the woman and to bruise the heel of the Messianic Seed. (Gen. 3:15) God did not give the Dragon or the beast its authority. He did, however, permit the Dragon, Satan the Devil, to exist because of the issue that was raised in the universe regarding the rightfulness and righteousness of Jehovah God’s sovereignty, God allowing a time for all creatures in the universe to be able to take a stand on the issue.
THE PRICE PAID
But what price did the “wild beast” pay for this grant of authority from the Dragon? We can be sure that it was not a free grant to the “wild beast.” The “wild beast” must have had to give the Dragon something in repayment. What? We can see what the Dragon required of the “wild beast” when we see what the Devil required of Jesus Christ when trying to tempt him with the gift of the kingdoms of earth. “The Devil said to him: ‘I will give you all this authority and the glory of them, because it has been delivered to me, and to whomever I wish I give it. You, therefore, if you do an act of worship before me, it will all be yours.’”—Luke 4:5-7.
So the “throne” of the “wild beast” rests upon the worship that the “wild beast” gives to the Dragon. There is its location, its resting-place. From this standpoint we can see that the location of the “throne” of the symbolic “wild beast” has never changed. It has not been a literal location, such as a capital city. It has always been based or made to stand upon the worship and subjection the “beast” pays to Satan the Dragon.
With this Scriptural explanation it is easy to see why all the governments of the world have been against God and his people and why oppression, wars and destruction have always been their stock in trade. Such no doubt prompted the man-made proverb: “Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne” (see also Job 21:7, 17); also, it is easy to understand with this point of view why the false religions of Babylon the Great have always dominated the kingdoms of earth and why those who followed the true religion have been hated and persecuted.—Rev. 17:5, 18.
The only earthly government that ever had its power and authority from God was the government of Israel, which was merely typical of the government of the kingdom of God, which will rule from the heavens under the rulership of Jesus Christ. Being only typical and not the kingdom of the real Seed, it was overreached by the false religion of Babylon the Great and became false to Jehovah God, because of which he allowed it to be overturned in 607 B.C.E. Since that time the Gentile governments dominated the field exclusively during the period of the Gentile Times until 1914 C.E., when the kingdom of the heavens was established in the hands of Jesus Christ.—Ezek. 21:27; Dan. 4:23.
What a price the governments constituting the beast have paid to the Dragon! What a detestable thing to do! It constitutes a traitorous act toward the real Sovereign of the universe, Jehovah God, and it dedicates world powers to the service of the one who is the embodiment of all wickedness and opposition to God.
It is understandable why God’s anger would burn against the “wild beast,” and it is to be expected that one of the seven plagues* of Revelation would be poured out against it. It is the fifth plague, concerning which we read: “And the fifth [angel] poured out his bowl upon the throne of the wild beast. And its kingdom became darkened, and they began to gnaw their tongues for their pain, but they blasphemed the God of heaven for their pains and for their ulcers, and they did not repent of their works.”—Rev. 16:10, 11.
A KINGDOM OF DARKNESS
The fifth plague would therefore be the public exposure of the fact that the “throne of the wild beast” was rulership from the Dragon, Satan the Devil, and was gained at his price; and that, consequently, the kingdom over which the beastly political system of this world ruled from such a throne was a kingdom of darkness. Satan the Dragon was, as Jesus termed him, the “ruler of this world.” (John 16:11) Satan the Dragon was the “god of this system of things,” which system worshiped him. (2 Cor. 4:4) The approach to the worship of Satan by these governments has been through the false religion of Babylon the Great. Great Babylon’s priests and clergymen have given demonic instruction and guidance just as they did to the kings of ancient Babylon. They have always been against the kingdom of the Seed, which directs worship to God, and against those who seek and support this kingdom.
God condemned the demons to destruction and degraded and debased them. They are in chains of darkness, chains which will not be broken, meaning that they are scheduled for eternal destruction. (2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6) Likewise, God condemned this worldly political system to the darkness of eternal destruction. (Rev. 19:20) Its failure to have any light from him for the solution of the world’s problems resulted in much pain to men, especially the politicians, statesmen, world rulers and their commercial and religious allies. The plague afflicted them. Added to this reason for pain was the fact that, after God’s Messianic kingdom was born in the heavens in 1914, “war broke out in heaven” and the Dragon, Satan the Devil, and his demon angels were cast out and down to our earth’s vicinity. Correctly a loud voice from heaven then said: “Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.”—Rev. 12:5-12.
Christians know that they are not to overthrow the “beast,” the powers of this world. They do not worship the “wild beast” or the Dragon, to whom the governments of this world have rendered worship as payment for the authority they have. But Christians are not fighting against men of flesh and blood. Christians even respect the office that these governmental authorities hold for the reason that they are permitted by Jehovah, and God has told Christians to be in subjection to them as long as his time allowance stands for them to exist. (Rom. 13:1, 2) Christians know that men are not the ones primarily responsible for the distresses brought by governments, but that it is Satan and the demons. Their fight is not with the kings of the “wild beast,” but they “put on the complete suit of armor from God” and fight “against the world rulers of this darkness, against the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places.” The kingdom of this “wild beast,” which includes the governments of Christendom, is full of the “unfruitful works that belong to the darkness.” (Eph. 6:11, 12; 5:8-11) Jehovah God favors that worldly kingdom with no light.
While Christians take no action to interfere with the governments of this world, they do, however, announce the fifth plague that God is pouring out, for it is their commission from God to do so. On top of the pain from the difficulties the political leaders are having, well, to have Jehovah’s witnesses expose this world as being Satan the Devil’s—how it increases the pain!
THE FIFTH PLAGUE ANNOUNCED
In its issue of March 1, 1925, The Watch Tower published the leading article entitled “The Birth of The Nation,” which was the first announcement that there had been war in heaven after the Gentile Times ended in 1914 and that the Devil and his angels had been cast down to our earth. This was further called attention to later in the article “The King in Action” in the issue of September 15, 1925. This ousting of the Devil and his angels from heaven had its effect upon the “wild beast” and its kingdom here on earth. All this was forcefully presented in the book entitled “Deliverance,” which was released on Friday, May 28, 1926, at the international convention in London, England, after the conventioners adopted a resolution entitled “A Testimony to the Rulers of the World.” The sixth proposition of this resolution stated that “by reason of the blinding influence of Satan the minds of the rulers and the ruled are turned away from the true God.”
The following Sunday night, May 30, this resolution was also presented to the many thousands that packed out the Royal Albert Hall of London. Its seven propositions were then publicly supported by the address given by President J. F. Rutherford on the subject “Why World Powers Are Tottering—The Remedy.” In this public address Rutherford reviewed the seven successive world powers pictured by the seven heads of the “wild beast,” culminating in the English-speaking world power of today. Talking from the viewpoint then held that the throne or seat of the beast was where the capital of the then-dominant political power was located, Rutherford said:
“Because she is the greatest of all world powers, because she together with her allies [America] claims to be ‘Christendom’ and to be ruling by divine right and authority, there rests upon the British Empire a grave responsibility which cannot be evaded. Because the British World Power is the very center and bulwark of the world’s civilization, and which the Lord symbolized as a ‘Beast,’ and because London is the seat of government, and these governing factors claim to rule by divine right, here is the very ‘seat of the beast.’”
The League of Nations, though promoted and backed by Christendom, was forthrightly declared to be of the great Dragon, Satan the Devil:
“But who is really responsible for the League of Nations compact? Is it formed and does it exist by divine right and authority? I answer, No. The Devil is its father, the British Empire is its mother, and the other nations which support it are its wet nurses. . . .
“The Devil caused the governing factors of Christendom so-called to enter into this compact against Jehovah and his anointed King.”—The Watch Tower, as of July 15, 1926, pages 211-217. Also The Golden Age, as of September 8, 1926, pages 780-791.
This speech and the resolution that it supported were given worldwide publicity by the millions of copies. World rulers did not follow the advice of this speech and resolution to acknowledge Jehovah as God, but, as Revelation 16:11 had foretold, “they blasphemed the God of heaven for their pains and for their ulcers, and they did not repent of their works.” The League of Nations died in the midst of World War II, increasing their pains. The United Nations has been formed by Christendom and pagandom to succeed the League; but what was said of the League’s real authorship remains true also of today’s United Nations.
PAIN AND RELIEF
It is understandable why announcement of this plague brings such pain to those who support and share in the “throne” of the “wild beast,” the political rulership that rests upon the bargain made with Satan the Dragon, their god. What a shameful thing it is to be exposed as worshiping the Devil, the source of all evil and wickedness against God and the cause of all the corruption, degradation, strife, murders and wars upon this earth! But the world rulers continue to gnaw their tongues for pain today, not because of the darkness and degradation into which they have led themselves by this worship of Satan but because of their pains in being exposed and because of the failure of their schemes. They are ulcerous also, for they are religiously diseased, unclean, because they support and share in the “throne” of the “wild beast,” the political rulership that rests upon the worship of the Dragon, their god. Despite all their pains, the Bible says “they did not repent of their works.” They show themselves deliberate and deserving of the plague of God’s judicial anger. They fear but do not heed the announcement that Jehovah’s witnesses make. They are too busy with their schemes, and they let the religionists of Babylon the Great influence them to remain in the worldly darkness in which they grope.
The darkness in which these world governments grope and the ulcerous condition of those who support them presage their destruction. God sees all this from his throne in the heavens. He has the plagues poured out against those who hate him. But this does not mean that God does not love the individual who may not have known the facts and may have ignorantly supported the “wild beast” in its fight against God at the instance of the Dragon, Satan the Devil. The announcement of the fifth plague gives opportunity for people to get a proper viewpoint of the true state of affairs, look into the Bible and see the contrast between the “wild beast” and the kingdom of Christ, which brings due worship to the Creator. He has a loving, unselfish interest in his creation. The light of Kingdom truth brings a hope some persons have thought was impossible—that of everlasting life under conditions of justice for all. Do not despair, neither trust in imperfect men who come to disappointment, but look to the secure and certain Fountainhead of all government and the Source of life.—Ps. 146:3-5.
For a consideration of the other six plagues, see the book “Babylon the Great Has Fallen!” God’s Kingdom Rules! by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, Brooklyn, New York, and The Watchtower, preceding and succeeding issues.