God Wisely Selects Earth’s Rulers
FOR sixteen centuries the churches of Christendom have been working feverishly at their claimed commission—the conversion of the world to Christianity. What has been their success?
They have failed miserably. Why? Because converting the world was their own idea, not God’s. If it had been God’s idea, they would have been successful. (Isa. 46:9, 10) Well, then, is God not interested in all men? He is, indeed, very much so. But during these nineteen centuries he has not been busying himself with any effort to convert mankind in general, nor has he commissioned true Christians to do so.
Do not misunderstand; God certainly purposes to bring salvation within the reach of all. And he has a time for this. (Eccl. 3:1) However, during the past nineteen hundred years he has been selective as to those whom he has saved. Why? Because, until recently, he has been choosing only those who will be rulers of mankind.
CHRIST BEGINS THE SELECTION
You will recall that when Jesus Christ was on earth he, too, was selective. He was here, it is true, to provide the ransom for the salvation of all men who will accept it. (Matt. 20:28; John 3:16) But Christ was on earth primarily to prove his integrity to God in order to qualify as King of God’s kingdom that will rule the world in righteousness. He bore witness concerning the truth of that kingdom.—John 18:36, 37.
Knowing that the Kingdom meant so much to his Father as well as to the life and peace of mankind, Jesus Christ was greatly concerned with it. And just as any ruler not yet inaugurated into office thinks first of the men he will place in important administrative positions under him, so Jesus was interested, first, in those whom he would associate with himself in the Kingdom government.—Luke 22:28, 29; John 17:12.
Accordingly Jesus, through prayer and direction of God’s spirit, selected his apostles first. (Luke 6:12-16) These were to be foundations of an administrative body to operate under his headship. In Revelation’s pictorial language this administrative organization is symbolized as a capital city, called “New Jerusalem.” It is also represented as Christ’s “bride,” that will join him in the heavens. During his thousand-year reign over earth, he, along with his “bride,” will extend attention and authority to the earth, to rule it in peace.—Rev. 21:1-4, 14.
Having this knowledge, Christ, after his death and resurrection, gathered those who had exercised faith in the good news that he and the apostles preached. He poured out holy spirit on them and commissioned them to preach to others, and to teach them. Thus Christ began preparation for the heavenly “city” or government that would rule mankind.—Acts 2:1-4; Heb. 11:10, 16.
TEST OF CHRIST’S ASSOCIATES TAKES TIME
In reading the Christian Greek Scriptures we observe that the hope held out to all those who accepted the preaching in the days of the apostles was that of sharing with Jesus Christ in his Kingdom rule in heaven. (2 Tim. 2:12; Heb. 3:1; 1 Pet. 1:1-4) It was not time for God to gather together those who would live on earth as human subjects under his heavenly kingdom. This was because the Messianic kingdom of God was not to begin active rule toward all the earth until the second presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.—2 Tim. 4:1; Heb. 10:13; Ps. 110:1-3.
So, the long time period prior to Christ’s taking of Kingdom power would be occupied in selecting, training, testing, proving and qualifying those who would reign with Christ. The requirements were very strict, many being invited but few finally chosen. (Matt. 22:14) According to the Scriptures, God limited the number of this select administrative body under Jesus Christ to 144,000 persons.—Rev. 7:4; 14:1-3.
A SACRED SECRET REVEALED
In connection with this administrative body, the apostle Paul points out that for centuries God kept hidden a “sacred secret.” This was that he would select humans both from Israel and from the Gentile nations as associates in the heavens with the promised “Seed,” Messiah the King. (Eph. 3:4-6; 1:9-11) Paul says that the administration of this sacred secret was “to the end that now to the governments and the authorities in the heavenly places there might be made known through the congregation the greatly diversified wisdom of God.” How was God’s wisdom made manifest “through the congregation”?—Eph. 3:9, 10.
It is not that the congregation on earth teaches wisdom to the heavenly authorities. Rather, it is that God, by his dealings and the working out of his purposes in connection with the Christian congregation, reveals surpassing wisdom, even to the angels.—1 Pet. 1:10-12.
First, consider God’s wisdom in his dealing with the Head Member of the congregation. Through the sacrifice of his Son for the removal of sin, Jehovah proved his own rulership to be fully just and wholly righteous. For on the basis of this sacrifice God could “declare righteous” those whom he would select to be prospective Kingdom heirs with Christ. Since these were to be heavenly rulers, God, by his spirit, brought them into family relationship with himself, making them spiritual sons. By his spirit he placed in them a knowledge and realization of their heavenly hope. (Rom. 3:23-26; 8:16) Jehovah leads, disciplines and molds them through all the tests they undergo, so that they become fitted exactly for the place he has for them in his government. (Rom. 9:21-24; Eph. 2:10) Additionally, because of his perfect wisdom in directing this training and testing he can be sure of their everlasting loyalty. He can safely give them incorruptible organisms and immortal heavenly life, as rulers over mankind. (1 Cor. 15:50-54) But let us now consider how God also had the rest of humankind in mind as he tested and approved those whom he would use as his governmental body.
Jesus Christ, the congregation’s Head, underwent a most severe test to prove his qualifications. Of him it is said: “We have as high priest, not one who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tested in all respects like ourselves, but without sin.” (Heb. 4:15) What wisdom and fairness on God’s part! For the Priest and Ruler that he puts over mankind is not one who lacks full understanding of our problems and feelings. From his previous experience in heaven, where he worked together with his Father in the creation of all things, God’s Son understands the makeup of men and women, as well as of the angels. (John 1:10; 2:25; Col. 1:15-17) But more than that, by becoming a man of blood and flesh on earth he experienced the service of God under adverse conditions. He fully understands human problems. He knows what it means to suffer. (Heb. 5:7-9) All men can have full faith in Christ’s priesthood, knowing that he has undergone the same trials successfully and knows what humans need.—Heb. 4:14-16; John 16:33.
Also, consider God’s wisdom in his manner of selecting the body of 144,000 associate kings and priests. It has not been a waste of time. During the broad scope of nineteen centuries these have been chosen from all walks of life, all races and languages and all backgrounds. There is simply no problem that some of them, in putting on the new Christian personality, have not faced and overcome. (Eph. 4:22-24; 1 Cor. 10:13) These underpriests, too, will be sympathetic and merciful priests, able to help men of all kinds.
Furthermore, God has lovingly drawn a sizable portion of these spiritual heirs with Christ from among women. As to their spiritual standing with God and Christ, there was “neither male nor female” while they were on earth, and in heaven there is no sex principle or distinction. (Gal. 3:28) Nonetheless, those among the Kingdom heirs who have been women know by experience the problems, vicissitudes and thinking of women, and they have maintained integrity under test as women. This is comforting to women who desire to be faithful to God and who seek life under that Kingdom government. How wise our Creator is!
COMPLETION OF RULER SELECTION MEANS BLESSING FOR MANKIND
Bible prophecy foretold that Christ would take Kingdom power while the worldly nations were still active. (Ps. 2:1-6; 110:1, 2) On taking Kingdom power, he would give early attention to those of the 144,000 who had died. Then he would proceed to gather together all his prospective Kingdom associates on earth, called a ‘remnant,’ for testing and final approval. (1 Thess. 4:16, 17; Rev. 12:10, 17) World conditions in fulfillment of prophecy indicate that we are in the closing days of this gathering, called the “harvest.” With its completion and the destruction of the present wicked system and its administration, Christ and his associate kings and priests will begin the thousand-year reign for the blessing of mankind.—Matt. 13:37-40; Rev. 11:18; 19:19-21; 20:1-4, 6.
What does this mean now for earth’s inhabitants? It means that it is time for all of us to decide whether we will be willing and loyal subjects of the Kingdom administration. Today the principles of that administration and of its rulers can be known by all who desire to do so. We can apply these principles in our lives now. If so, we are in line for God’s protection through the “great tribulation” that marks the end of imperfect man-made administration. Many are doing this today. (Rev. 7:9, 10, 14-17; Matt. 25:31, 32) If we are among these, we can be the first earthly subjects of that Kingdom. We can look forward to seeing the resurrection of the countless millions of the dead, whereby they will be given opportunity of life under that Kingdom.—Rev. 20:11-13.
So the Universal Sovereign, in selecting earth’s rulers, has had mankind’s interests at heart. He has not overlooked anyone. In his manner of selecting these kingly and priestly administrators he has wisely laid a solid foundation for faith, revealing his qualities and attributes so that men can intelligently love and serve him. He has created an unshakable, incorruptible administration for the earth.—Eph. 2:6, 7.
The “governments and the authorities in the heavenly places” see God’s wisdom in thus working out his purpose. (Eph. 3:10) These angelic hosts gladly put themselves under the command of his Messianic King. (Heb. 1:6) Certainly we can exclaim in unison with them: “The blessing and the glory and the wisdom and the thanksgiving and the honor and the power and the strength be to our God forever and ever.”—Rev. 7:12.