The Truth About God’s Kingdom
What is the Kingdom? What will it do for mankind?
“OUR Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come.”
These wordsa must be among the most well known by men. Quite possibly you were taught to memorize them at your mother’s knee. Perhaps even now whenever you hear them spoken they evoke in you the kind of response that is natural to familiar and well-loved things. It may even be that you are among those who, even in this materialistic age, still use those very words in prayer or teach them to your children. If so, it indicates your interest in the things of God, including his kingdom.
But have you ever seriously pondered the significance of the words in that model prayer? What does the word “kingdom” mean to you? A government with a king ruling over specific territory? This is what the word “kingdom” usually means, does it not?
It is vital that you give thought to this matter, for only accurate knowledge concerning God’s kingdom will enable you to conform to God’s will and have his blessing when his kingdom has “come,” and his will is done on earth. Indeed, how can one submit to the rule of a kingdom, cooperate with its policies and so experience the benefits of its administration if one has no conception of what that kingdom is, where it is located and for what purpose it functions?
But, you may ask, should not my church supply the answers to these questions? Surely, if knowledge of God’s kingdom is so essential to a Christian’s welfare, one might expect that the clergy would have something to say on the matter. Surprisingly to many, the coming of God’s kingdom is not a subject on which much is being said by the clergy of our day. And this may indeed seem strange, since Jesus foretold that in our time “this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness.”—Matt. 24:14.
THE CLERGY’S VIEW OF GOD’S KINGDOM
Why is this so? For one thing, as you may be well aware from comments in the public press, more and more of the clergy are rejecting the belief that the Bible is wholly inspired by God. They tend to view the Bible as a book of moral precepts or as a philosophy of life. Hence they view its prophecies, including those about God’s kingdom, as expressing only human aspirations rather than being inspired expressions of God’s purpose. Obviously, those who fail to appreciate what the Kingdom is cannot provide the guidance or vital encouragement to ‘seek first the kingdom.’—Matt. 6:33.
You have perhaps heard clergymen speak of the Kingdom as “something personal and spiritual, an experience of the heart.” (The Encyclopaedia of Religion and Religions, under entry “Jesus Christ,” by Royston Pike, 1951 edition) But is that all there is to God’s kingdom—some spiritual condition within the hearts of people?
The words of Jesus at Luke 17:21 according to the King James Version of the Bible, namely, “the kingdom of God is within you,” have been cited to support this view. But logically, this could not be what Jesus meant. The context shows that Jesus addressed those words to his enemies, the Pharisees. It could hardly be said to them that they were undergoing a fine “experience of the heart,” “something personal and spiritual.” Indeed, they directly rejected God’s kingdom and its king Jesus Christ, saying, “We have no king but Caesar.”—John 19:15.
While the kingdom of God was certainly not within them, it could be said to be among them or in their midst. Why? Because the appointed King of the Kingdom was present there. Correctly, then, modern translations of the Bible render this passage: “The kingdom of God is in your midst,” or “is among you.”—NW, New English Bible, Jerusalem Bible.
A GOVERNMENT TO BRING AN END TO THIS WICKED SYSTEM
With Christ as appointed King present on earth, the message could go forth: “The kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.” (Matt. 10:7) This message the Pharisaic religious leaders rejected and they tried to prevent others from accepting Jesus and putting faith in the Kingdom. As Jesus told them: “You shut up the kingdom of the heavens before men; for you yourselves do not go in, neither do you permit those on their way in to go in.”—Matt. 23:13.
Notice, though, that it is a heavenly kingdom—“the kingdom of the heavens.” Jesus promised his anointed followers that they would share in this heavenly government in its rule over the earth. As a “little flock” they would be taken from earth to heaven to be “priests of God and of the Christ, and will rule as kings with him.” (Luke 12:32; Rev. 20:6) Under the blessed administration of that heavenly government a great crowd of believers from “all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues” are to enjoy life and blessings in the earthly territory or domain of the Kingdom.—Rev. 7:9; Matt. 25:34.
Yes, the kingdom of God means a government in heaven with a heavenly king, Christ Jesus. Its rule will extend to this earth to transform it into a paradise of peace and happiness, that the words of the psalmist might be fulfilled: “The meek ones themselves will possess the earth, and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.”—Ps. 37:11.
That will be quite a change from the present troubled state of the world! How will such a change come about? Simply and effectively by God’s kingdom, backed by Jehovah God’s almighty power, destroying this present system with its conflicting political and national governments. Does the Bible truly foretell such a thing? Clearly and forcefully it does: “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite.”—Dan. 2:44.
SUPPORTERS OF KINGDOM NO PART OF THIS WORLD
Did the thought occur to you as you read the foregoing: “I’ve never heard that preached in the churches I’ve attended”? Why not? Because of the two points already mentioned: the clergy’s lack of faith in the Bible as being God’s Word, and a misconception of what the Kingdom is.
There is still another potent reason for the present attitude of the clergy toward the Bible teaching about the Kingdom. Do you recall those words of the Jewish religious leaders quoted earlier: “We have no king but Caesar”? This simply meant that the Pharisees and others cast in their lot with Caesar, the human political government of the day. They preferred its visible and immediate protection and approval to the hazards of following Jesus as King and pinning their hopes on a future, coming heavenly kingdom. In this way those religious leaders made themselves part of that world system.
On the other hand, of those who followed him and really put faith in the kingdom for which he taught them to pray, Jesus said: “They are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world.”—John 17:16.
As the history of the first few centuries of our Common Era shows, those early Christians were no part of the world and kept separate from its political disputes. Their separateness was not just in their mental outlook, but could be seen and observed by others, since they applied the above words of Jesus in a practical way in their lives.
This separateness of the early Christians was not out of some obstinate desire to be different, but because to them God’s promised kingdom was a reality. They believed in it and served it as the only government that could bring lasting life and blessings. As Eugene A. Colligan and Maxwell F. Littwin in their book Old World to the New put it: “They preferred the Kingdom of God to any kingdom that they might serve on earth. The early Christians were ready to die for their faith.”
Do you find that attitude toward God’s kingdom reflected today by the religious leaders of Christendom? Do they show the same attitude toward involvement in this world’s political activities as did the Christians of the first few centuries after Christ? Do they manifest in a clear way by what they say and do that they prefer God’s kingdom to the kingdoms of men?
Rather, is there not a willingness on the part of the clergy to get involved in political matters, in other words, to be part of the world? How, then, can we expect to hear from these professed teachers of Christianity a clear, uncompromising preaching about God’s kingdom, which, as we have seen, is to bring this system of things to its end?
The present state of faithlessness on the part of Christendom’s clergy toward the Bible’s teachings stems from the apostasy that set in following the death of the apostles of Jesus. This apostasy was not only in matters of doctrine, but was manifest also in the apostate Christians’ attitude toward the world. Commenting on the situation of the church when “Christianity” became the established religion of the Roman state and following the “conversion” of Constantine, The Theological Dictionary by Henderson and Buck states:
“The simplicity of the Gospel was corrupted, pompous rites and ceremonies were introduced, worldly honours and emoluments were conferred on the teachers of Christianity, and the Kingdom of Christ in good measure converted into a kingdom of this world.”
In all honesty, would you not agree that these words still aptly apply to the teachers of Christendom today?
KINGDOM BLESSINGS SURE FOR MANKIND
‘God’s kingdom come’ will mean the most joyful of blessings for believing mankind. As noted above, it first brings to an end this wicked system of things. That will mean the removal from the earth of wickedness, hatred, discrimination, injustice, violence and war—all the things that threaten the peace and safety of man and rob him of his happiness.
God’s kingdom will bring in global peace and security. (Isa. 9:6, 7; Ps. 46:8-11) Security means the safety of your person, property and family from attack by thieves or hoodlums, and even from accidental injury caused by the foolishness or selfishness of others. Do you not long for such peace and security? They can be yours in the not-distant future if you bring your life into harmony with God’s will and put faith in his kingdom as the only hope for mankind. This means your giving heed to Jesus’ admonition in the Sermon on the Mount to “keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and [God’s] righteousness.”—Matt. 6:33.
PEOPLE WHO SEEK FIRST GOD’S KINGDOM
Really, it is this seeking first God’s kingdom that particularly identifies Jehovah’s witnesses as being different from other religions. When you think of it, do you have any other regular callers at your door who have as their purpose the declaring of the “good news of the kingdom”? Noting this, Charles S. Braden in his book These Also Believe stated: “It may truly be said that no single religious group in the world displayed more zeal and persistence in the attempt to spread the good news of the kingdom than the Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
Jehovah’s witnesses accept the Bible as the Word of God. They offer no apologies for doing so. They have studied the Bible and are confident of its truthfulness despite the growing materialistic attitude of the majority of people today and despite the lack of faith in the Bible demonstrated by so many leaders of Christendom.
Jehovah’s witnesses accept what the Bible says about God’s kingdom. They refuse to water down the Bible’s teachings just to tickle the ears of selfish men. Instead, they appeal to those who still believe in a Supreme God and in his Son Jesus Christ to study the Bible and learn God’s will and thus establish their faith firmly on the Bible’s promises.
What, then, will you do? That is a matter for your personal decision. But to help you decide wisely, consider these timely questions: Has the religion with which you are now associated educated you in a knowledge of the Bible? Has it given you a strong faith in God’s kingdom, a faith that provides you with a positive, optimistic view of the future? Does it preach, as the Bible does, that the only hope for man is the kingdom of God? Does it teach that Bible prophecy indicates that the blessings of God’s kingdom are to be realized on earth soon?
If not, is it not time seriously to consider a change in your pattern of religious association? Would it not be the course of wisdom to seek out those who do have faith in God’s kingdom and who will help you to learn what the Bible teaches about the Kingdom? Be assured that Jehovah’s witnesses will be glad to help you to do just that. Indeed, they warmly invite you to associate with them, to study the Bible with them, to share with them the confident, happy hope that they have in God’s everlasting kingdom.
a Quoted from Matthew 6:9, 10 according to the King James Version of the Bible.
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God’s kingdom will transform this earth into a paradise of peace and happiness
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The Pope at the UN
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Clergy involvement in politics is well known. Might it be that this involvement explains why they do not stress belief in God’s kingdom as the hope for mankind?