The Long Waiting in Hope Soon to End
EVEN after he was resurrected from the dead on the third day, Jesus continued to wait upon God’s time for the setting up of the heavenly kingdom over all mankind. With respect to this it was written to Hebrew Christians in the first century C.E.: “But this man offered one sacrifice for sins perpetually and sat down at the right hand of God, from then on awaiting until his enemies should be placed as a stool for his feet.” (Heb. 10:12, 13) This is a reference to Psalm 110:1, 2, where we read: “The utterance of Jehovah to my Lord is: ‘Sit at my right hand until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet.’ The rod of your strength Jehovah will send out of Zion, saying: ‘Go subduing in the midst of your enemies.”’ By obeying this command Jesus Christ will have the backing of Divine Rulership and all enemies on earth will be made his footstool, all being completely subdued and destroyed. (Ps. 110:5, 6) So all of us today know what to expect if we line up with his enemies, who are enemies of divine rulership.
2. (a) In the yet remaining time, what does human rulership, yes, the Devil himself, have to offer to mankind? (b) Since the ousting of Satan from heaven, mankind has been made to know the meaning of what outcry in heaven?
2 In the time that yet remains for these enemies, what do they have to offer mankind? Nothing better than what they have already presented to us. What has the invisible one who has the unseen authority over these enemies, namely, Satan the Devil, to offer mankind through the “kingdoms of the world”? Nothing but their being bruised or crushed along with Satan himself under Christ’s feet. By the fulfillment of the prophetic book of Revelation, chapter twelve, Satan the Devil and his demon angels have already been cast out of the holy heavens and down to the vicinity of our earth. All mankind has felt the effects of this restraint of the Great Serpent Satan and his demons to our earth, ever since the first world war of 1914-1918. In the more than half a century since then all mankind has been made to know in a most painful way the meaning of the outcry that was heard in heaven at the ousting of Satan and his demons: “Be glad, you heavens and you who reside in them! 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. 12:12.
3, 4. (a) Has human rulership been able to remove that “woe” from earth and sea? (b) To what extent will Satan’s “great anger” against divine rulership go, and how did Jesus describe what this will signify for mankind?
3 Human rulership, even equipped with all its modern scientific advantages and increased learning, has been unable to remove this devilish “woe” from the earth and from the sea. The “great anger” of Satan the Devil against Divine Rulership will not stop short of leading all the political establishments of human rulership into absolute ruin. If he himself cannot rule over the earth, then he is determined that none of these earthly forms of human rulership shall survive him. In a suicidal attempt, he now leads all political human rulership into destruction under the feet of God’s Promised Seed, Jesus Christ. This will signify a time of trouble the like of which the earth’s inhabitants have never experienced before. Jesus Christ, when foretelling the “conclusion of the system of things,” described this, saying:
4 “Then there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again. In fact, unless those days were cut short, no flesh would be saved; but on account of the chosen ones those days will be cut short.”—Matt. 24:3, 21, 22; Mark 13:19, 20.
5. (a) The horrible siege and destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. was a typical sample of what? (b) How surely will the world-wrecking tribulation come, and what question about it arises?
5 The horrors of the siege and destruction of the city of Jerusalem by the Romans in the year 70 C.E. were just a typical sample of the horribleness of the approaching global tribulation with which Christendom and all the rest of this human system of things will be annihilated. Just as surely as the foretold globe-encircling flood came in the days of the righteous preacher Noah, just as surely as the foretold destructions of ancient Jerusalem came in the days of Jehovah’s prophets and of the apostles of Jesus Christ, just so surely this foretold world-wrecking tribulation will come—in our own generation. For almost one hundred years now Jehovah’s Christian witnesses have been warning all mankind of this world catastrophe. Not just to prove true what they have been preaching, but, rather, to prove true Jehovah’s prophetic word that they have been preaching. None of mankind can escape it; all mankind must enter into that tribulation of tribulations. The question is, Who of mankind will survive it?
6. What human means of surviving the “great tribulation” will fail, and so the only hope for all mankind lies where?
6 Nobody on earth will be able to survive in his own strength or by means of what human protective measures that he can take. Christendom will prove to be no haven of refuge and survival just because of parading Christ’s name and having crosses on her church steeples. The United Nations, repeatedly called mankind’s “last hope,” will fail to be such a thing. The regional alliances and treaty organizations of the political nations will fail to carry either the human rulers or the human ruled safely through the unparalleled “great tribulation.” Nothing of human devising can serve as a hope. The prophecies of the Holy Scriptures forewarn of this coming desperate plight of all mankind. In the face of this utterly hopeless outlook for the entire human system of things, it becomes plain to every reasoning person that the only hope for all mankind must lie outside the human realm. Mankind’s salvation has never come and will never come from mankind itself, as if by mankind’s lifting itself up by its own bootstraps. Hence the Communistic philosophical theory of materialism, namely, that nothing exists but what is material, leads to a dead end, a cul-de-sac!
Where to Turn in Real Hope
7. (a) Our hope must be something in what realm, but who there is excluded from being such a hope? (b) To what does the Divine Ruler tell the “prisoners of the hope” to return?
7 Our hope, in order to be something that will be happily realized, must lie in something spiritual. No, not in that spiritual “god of this system of things,” the Great Serpent Satan the Devil, the wicked bringer of the present “woe” upon mankind. (2 Cor. 4:4) He is what the Christian apostle Paul calls “the spirit that now operates in the sons of disobedience,” all of whom have “walked according to the system of things of this world.” (Eph. 2:2) No, we who desperately need a true hope must turn our eyes away from that invisible “ruler of this world.” (John 12:31) We must turn our yearning eyes away from his death-dealing, woe-bringing system of things. To what of a spiritual kind and higher than man and Devil must we look? To what alone can we turn with confidence? Down through the hallways of millenniums of time come sounding the words of the Divine Ruler: “Return to the stronghold, you prisoners of the hope.”—Zech. 9:12.
8. (a) To whom were those words of Zechariah 9:12 first addressed, and what was the “stronghold” away back there? (b) From where did those “prisoners of the hope” have to return, and how was the way to freedom opened?
8 Those rousing words delivered through the prophet Zechariah nearly two thousand five hundred years ago were addressed to those who sincerely desired to be the favored people of the Great Spirit, of whom Jesus Christ said: “God is a Spirit, and those worshiping him must worship with spirit and truth.” (John 4:24) The “stronghold” to which the “prisoners of the hope” needed to “return” was the Messianic kingdom of God, which was represented away back there by the city of Jerusalem, where a king of the royal family of David of Bethlehem used to sit on a throne that was called “Jehovah’s throne.” (1 Chron. 29:23) To this earthly form of divine rulership the “prisoners of the hope” had to “return,” coming out from their long exile in pagan Babylon, the locality where organized false religion was begun in opposition to Jehovah God in the days of Nimrod the notorious hunter. (Gen. 10:8-10; 11:1-9) In the prophet Zechariah’s time this Babylon had occupied the seat of world domination, as the third world power of Bible history. In 539 B.C.E. Almighty God broke Babylon’s hold on its “prisoners” and opened the way to freedom!
9. (a) Why is that not a mere bit of ancient dead history? (b) Who are the “prisoners of the hope” today, and what do they need?
9 A thrilling bit of history that was in the dim ancient past! But it is not dead history. It is prophetic history that lives for today and finds its live parallel today, in our generation. That is why this was written and preserved among the prophecies of Zechariah, one of the last prophets of Jehovah before Jesus Christ. Well, then, can we people today be classified as “prisoners of the hope”? Yes, if we see and accept the hope that the “God of hope” holds out before us. The last book of his Holy Scriptures, the Revelation, pointed forward to the existence of, not ancient Babylon, but Babylon the Great in our day. This mightier Babylon symbolizes the world empire of false religion, which has religious connections with the political governments of this system of things, even with Communist Russia. All peoples of the world, whether practicers of the hundreds of religions or stickers to the worldly political institutions, are “prisoners” of Babylon the Great and her political associates. For their salvation, these “prisoners” need to be emancipated, liberated!
10. (a) Why is it highly urgent that this liberation take place? (b) What is the “stronghold” today to which the “prisoners” must return, and what has Jehovah sent out therefrom since 1914 C.E.?
10 It is highly urgent that this take place. Why? Because Babylon the Great and all her political paramours are doomed now to early destruction! How can men be emancipated from their spiritual prison, where there is nothing more to expect than destruction in the coming “great tribulation”? There is only one way to emancipation, and that is by turning to “the stronghold” that Jehovah God has set before all “prisoners of the hope.” That “stronghold” is the Messianic kingdom of God, which was anciently represented in the stronghold city of Jerusalem. The earthly Messianic kingdom in Middle Eastern Jerusalem long ago passed away. It has been revived in our time, not over there in earthly Jerusalem, but in the heavens, where the royal Descendant of King David sits, namely, Jesus Christ. His is not some perishable material throne in earthly Jerusalem, but it is really “Jehovah’s throne,” for he sits at the “right hand” of Jehovah God in the heavens. (Ps. 110:1, 2; Acts 2:34-36; 7:55, 56; 1 Pet. 3:22; Rev. 3:21) From there since the end of the Gentile Times in 1914 Jehovah has sent forth the ‘rod of Christ’s strength.’
11. (a) What, then, is the only hope of all mankind? (b) Since 1918 C.E. from where and to where have Jehovah’s Christian witnesses ‘returned,’ and how are they telling all other “prisoners” to turn to that “stronghold”?
11 It is under the feet of this Christ and his faithful followers that Jehovah will “crush Satan” shortly. (Rom. 16:20) The kingdom of this Messianic Emancipator is the commissioned representative of the Divine Rulership of the Most High and Almighty God, Jehovah. It is the only hope of all mankind. It is the divinely appointed stronghold to which to turn for freedom and life in endless happiness. Since the close of World War I in 1918 the Christian witnesses of Jehovah have left their spiritual imprisonment in Babylon the Great and have ‘returned to the stronghold,’ to the established Messianic kingdom of God in the heavenly Jerusalem. Despite the worsening fatal world conditions, they are now enjoying their wonderful spiritual emancipation and are rejoicing in their glorious hope for the near future. In great compassion for all mankind they cry out urgently to all the “prisoners” everywhere to ‘turn to the stronghold,’ as they fulfill Christ’s prophetic command: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.”—Matt. 24:14.