What Kind of Ruler Does Mankind Need?
ONE of the wisest rulers of ancient times, King Solomon, observed that “man has dominated man to his injury.” (Eccl. 8:9) This is because, all too often, human rulers have been haughty, uncompassionate and oppressive. They have not reflected toward their subjects the tenderness and concern an Oriental shepherd has for his flock. In fact, they have been tyrannical.
Mankind would certainly be much better off without such tyrannical rulers or “shepherds.” That is also the way the Supreme One, the Sovereign of the universe, Jehovah God, feels about it. When, for example, the “shepherds” of ancient Israel became uncompassionate toward their subjects, Jehovah, through his prophet Ezekiel, exposed them, saying:
“Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy, and you must say to them, to the shepherds, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said: “Woe to the shepherds of Israel, who have become feeders of themselves! Is it not the flock that the shepherds ought to feed? The fat is what you eat, and with the wool you clothe your own selves. The plump animal is what you slaughter. The flock itself you do not feed. The sickened ones you have not strengthened, and the ailing one you have not healed, and the broken one you have not bandaged, and the dispersed one you have not brought back, and the lost one you have not sought to find, but with harshness you have had them in subjection, even with tyranny. And they were gradually scattered because of there being no shepherd, so that they became food for every wild beast of the field, and they continued to be scattered. My sheep kept straying on all the mountains and on every high hill; and on all the surface of the earth my sheep were scattered, with no one making a search and with no one seeking to find.”’”—Ezek. 34:2-6.
CHRISTENDOM’S RULERS ARE UNDESIRABLE
Have not the rulers of Christendom acted like the bad shepherds of Israel in dealing with their subjects who claim to be God’s “sheep”? Have these rulers not treated people as if they owned them rather than as the property of the God whom they professed to worship? Have they, as well as popes, cardinals and archbishops who have held political office, not been harsh rather than tender? Have they not fattened themselves materially off these poor “sheep” and lived in “shameless luxury”? (Rev. 18:7) We have not seen the political rulers of Christendom lay down their lives for the “sheep,” as did the Lord Jesus Christ. (John 10:9-11) But there is abundant historical evidence that the political rulers of Christendom have been oppressive.
The political “shepherds” of Christendom have fought among themselves, one professed Christian ruler against another so-called Christian ruler. They have sacrificed their sheeplike people on the altar of nationalism or religious sectarianism. Even some dictators have been outstanding favorites of the religious clergy. The Christian witnesses of Jehovah have experienced violent persecution at the hand of these dictators and extremely nationalistic, totalitarian rulers. Because of the injustices that are not corrected, many of the oppressed people have fled to various newly formed, revolutionary kinds of organizations and have fallen victim to materialistic radicalism and atheistic Communism. There is neither political, national nor religious unity in Christendom. Like bewildered sheep without a shepherd, the people are scattered as prey to “beasts.” The situation in Christendom is just like that described at Ezekiel 34:7-10, and this gives positive assurance that Jehovah God will see to it that Christendom’s rulers will lose their position. We read:
“You shepherds, hear the word of Jehovah, ‘As I am alive,’ is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, ‘surely for the reason that my sheep became something for plunder and my sheep continued to be food for every wild beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, and my shepherds did not search for my sheep, but the shepherds kept feeding themselves, and my own sheep they did not feed,’ therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of Jehovah. This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said, ‘Here I am against the shepherds, and I shall certainly ask back my sheep from their hand and make them cease from feeding my sheep, and the shepherds will no longer feed themselves; and I will deliver my sheep out of their mouth, and they will not become food for them.’”
In the case of ancient Israel of Ezekiel’s day, Jehovah delivered his “sheep” out of the mouth of the self-feeding “shepherds” in governmental places by having Jerusalem destroyed and the land of Judah desolated. The king and princes had to vacate their governmental office, being captured by the Babylonians and deported. Some were killed as a penalty for their rebellion. In Babylon the captive rulers were put in prison or subjected to restraints, being stripped of rulership.—2 Ki. 25:18-30; Jer. 52:24-34.
In harmony with that ancient example, Jehovah God will see to it that the governmental overseers of the entire worldwide system of things, including the professed Christian rulers of Christendom, are deposed. This will free Jehovah’s true “sheep” from the oppression and self-serving operations of the political “shepherds.” No more will those unfaithful “shepherds” feed themselves at the expense of Jehovah’s flock of Christian witnesses. No matter how scattered these may find themselves because of the opposition and persecution carried on by political elements, Jehovah knows where his true “sheep” have been dispersed. Like a loving Shepherd, he will search for them and regather them into one fold. His solemn promise as made through his prophet Ezekiel stands good today. The way that he fulfilled this promise toward ancient Israel in the year 537 B.C.E. and thereafter was a prophetic guarantee that he would carry out his promise in the future. We read:
“For this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said: ‘Here I am, I myself, and I will search for my sheep and care for them. According to the care of one feeding his drove in the day of his coming to be in the midst of his sheep that have been spread abroad, that is the way that I shall care for my sheep; and I will deliver them out of all the places to which they have been scattered in the day of clouds and thick gloom. And I will bring them out from the peoples and collect them together from the lands and bring them in onto their soil and feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the stream beds and by all the dwelling places of the land. In a good pasturage I shall feed them, and on Israel’s high mountains their abiding place will come to be. There they will lie down in a good abiding place, and on a fat pasturage they will feed upon the mountains of Israel.’”—Ezek. 34:11-14.
JEHOVAH’S DEEDS ASSURE THAT HE CAN PROVIDE A GOOD RULER
In 537 B.C.E., through the instrumentality of King Cyrus the Persian, Jehovah enabled a faithful Jewish remnant to return to Jerusalem and the land of Judah. Similarly in this century, Jehovah God has demonstrated his ability to gather the scattered remnant of spiritual Israel into a religiously free, spiritually nourishing relationship with Him. (1 Pet. 2:25) For them the turbulent times of World War I (1914-1918 C.E.) had been a “day of clouds and thick gloom.” (Ezek. 34:12) That day was darkened because of the religious persecution that Christendom (the dominant part of Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion) heaped on the remnant of spiritual Israel. Thereby the remnant of spiritual Israelites were scattered and came into deep bondage to Babylon the Great.
But Babylon the Great failed to maintain her oppressive hold on the remnant of spiritual Israelites. In the spring of 1919 Babylon the Great suffered a severe fall from her position of religious power over Jehovah’s people, and the shackles of their bondage to her were broken. As far as their religious rights and privileges from God were concerned, this remnant no longer let themselves become prey or “food” for the governmental “shepherds” of Christendom. In Christian fearlessness they stepped on the stage of the postwar world as witnesses of Jehovah’s Messianic kingdom.—Matt. 24:14.
This remnant has experienced the fulfillment of Ezekiel 34:15, 16:
“‘I myself shall feed my sheep, and I myself shall make them lie down,’ is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah. ‘The lost one I shall search for, and the dispersed one I shall bring back, and the broken one I shall bandage and the ailing one I shall strengthen, but the fat one and the strong one I shall annihilate. I shall feed that one with judgment.’”
Jehovah God has made an addition to the original remnant that survived faithfully the “day of clouds and thick gloom” during World War I. Thousands of persons inside and outside Christendom heard the Kingdom message as preached by Jehovah’s restored remnant and eventually became dedicated, baptized disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. Among all these “sheep” Jehovah permits no one to misuse his strength with impunity. If anyone becomes harsh and oppressive like a fat, strong sheep toward other “sheep” in the fold, Jehovah ‘annihilates’ such an unloving, selfish “sheep.” He cuts that one off from the flock as one who is spiritually dead. He ‘feeds that one with judgment,’ that is, with the judgment of disfellowshiping from the flock now and literal annihilation in the coming “great tribulation.”
Jehovah has cleared out from among his restored remnant of spiritual sheep those who are greedy and self-seeking. None are tolerated who spoil things for others and who use brute strength and horns of power to enjoy the best things for themselves to the exclusion of weak or sickened “sheep.” Jehovah has allowed no dividing of his “sheep” into a clergy class and a laity class. He has enforced the rule laid down through his Son Jesus Christ: “You, do not you be called Rabbi, for one is your teacher, whereas all you are brothers. Moreover, do not call anyone your [spiritual] father on earth, for one is your Father, the heavenly One. Neither be called ‘leaders,’ for your Leader is one, the Christ. But the greatest one among you must be your minister.” (Matt. 23:8-11) What Jehovah has done fits the prophetic description found at Ezekiel 34:17-22:
“As for you my sheep, this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said: ‘Here I am judging between a sheep and a sheep, between the rams and the he-goats. Is it such a little thing for you men that on the very best pasturage you feed but the rest of your pasturages you should trample down with your feet, and that the clear waters you drink but the ones [the waters] left over you should foul by stamping with your very feet? And as for my sheep, on the pasture ground trampled by your feet should they feed and the water befouled by the stamping of your feet should they drink?’ Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said to them: ‘Here I am, I myself, and I shall certainly judge between a plump sheep and a lean sheep, for the reason that with flank and with shoulder you kept pushing and with your horns you kept shoving all the sickened ones until you had scattered them to the outside. And I will save my sheep, and they will no longer become something for plunder; and I will judge between a sheep and a sheep.’”
JEHOVAH’S CHOSEN RULER
In view of Jehovah’s great concern for his “sheep,” we can rest assured that his choice of a ruler for mankind would indeed be a great blessing. But has Jehovah God chosen a ruler? Yes. Ezekiel 34:23, 24 tells us:
“I will raise up over them one shepherd, and he must feed them, even my servant David. He himself will feed them, and he himself will become their shepherd. And I myself, Jehovah, will become their God, and my servant David a chieftain in the midst of them.”
We are not to conclude from this promise that Jehovah will raise up the original King David from the dead in order to put him in this shepherdlike office. Rather, God’s “servant David” is one who has inherited the royal right from King David. He is the Lord Jesus Christ. The fact that the name David means “Beloved” fits nicely with Jehovah’s declaration concerning Jesus: “This is my Son, the beloved.” (Matt. 3:17; 17:5) Then, too, Jesus likened himself to a shepherd, saying: “I am the fine shepherd, . . . and I surrender my soul in behalf of the sheep.”—John 10:14, 15.
Jesus Christ did surrender his life for the “sheep.” Jehovah God, however, raised him up from the dead. That is why Hebrews 13:20 speaks of Jehovah as “the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep with the blood of an everlasting covenant, our Lord Jesus.” Resurrected back to spirit life such as he originally had, Jesus Christ is now a heavenly Shepherd. In view of this there could be only the “one shepherd” that Jehovah could raise up over the remnant of spiritual Israel, namely, this resurrected Jesus the Messiah.
When did Jehovah do so? In the year 1914 C.E. when the “appointed times of the [Gentile] nations” ended, about October 4/5. In keeping with his role as king, Jesus Christ was foretold to shepherd all the nations with an iron rod or scepter, breaking them to pieces. (Ps. 2:8, 9; Rev. 12:5) The spiritual Israelites, however, have experienced a different kind of shepherding. Jesus Christ has fed them with spiritual food. He has become their chieftain in whose footsteps they follow as “sheep.” His God, Jehovah, has become their God. In appreciation of this, the anointed remnant, in the year 1931, embraced the Scripturally based name “Jehovah’s witnesses.”—Isa. 43:10-12.
These anointed Christian witnesses of Jehovah have not been alone in benefiting from Jesus’ fine shepherding. Jesus himself said: “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; those also I must bring, and they will listen to my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd.” (John 10:16) Since 1935 particularly these “other sheep” have come into association with the remnant. And along with these spiritual Israelites, they enjoy the peace and protection that Jehovah promised through his prophet Ezekiel:
“I will conclude with them a covenant of peace, and I shall certainly cause the injurious wild beast to cease out of the land, and they will actually dwell in the wilderness in security and sleep in the forests. And I will make them and the surroundings of my hill a blessing, and I will cause the pouring rain to descend in its time. Pouring rains of blessing there will prove to be. And the tree of the field must give its fruitage, and the land itself will give its yield, and they will actually prove to be on their soil in security. And they will have to know that I am Jehovah when I break the bars of their yoke and I have delivered them out of the hand of those who had been using them as slaves. And they will no longer become something to plunder for the nations; and as regards the wild beast of the earth, it will not devour them, and they will actually dwell in security, with no one to make them tremble.”—Ezek. 34:25-28.
BLESSINGS FROM GOOD SHEPHERDING
According to Jehovah’s “covenant” for Christian peace, he has driven out and kept out all ferocious beastlike personalities dangerous to sheeplike Christians. By his holy spirit operating upon the true baptized disciples of Christ he has transformed their personalities into peaceful, harmless sheeplikeness. They lovingly seek to protect one another spiritually as well as materially amidst this hostile world. The effect of this has been as predicted: They have come to know that the God who has broken the bars of their religious yoke of bondage and delivered them from their Babylonish enslavers is Jehovah. They rejoice in the shepherding that Jehovah has provided by means of his Son Jesus Christ.
Under the shepherding of Jesus Christ, the spiritual Israelites have been enjoying a spiritual paradise. This is in fulfillment of Jehovah’s declaration at Ezekiel 34:29, 30:
“I will raise up for them a planting for a name, and they will no more become those taken away by famine in the land, and they will no longer bear the humiliation by the nations. ‘And they will have to know that I, Jehovah their God, am with them and that they are my people.’”
The “planting” that Jehovah has raised up for these restored spiritual Israelites has remained to this day and is producing more abundantly than ever previously since the year 1919. Under Jehovah’s blessings, like pouring rains, their earthly estate has brought forth superabundantly the “fruits” of the kingdom of God. (Matt. 21:43) This productive plantation has become for them “a planting for a name,” a renowned or famous plantation. Jehovah’s written Word, the Holy Bible, has been opened up to their understanding. Not only are they sharing the resulting spiritual food among themselves, but they are also making it available in printed form in as many languages as possible. Truly they are the ‘sheep of Jehovah’s pasturing’ and those being fed by his chosen king, the Lord Jesus Christ.—Ezek. 34:31.
Grand indeed have been the blessings that the anointed remnant and the “great crowd” of “other sheep” have experienced through the loving care of Jesus Christ. If they can enjoy such blessings in a hostile world, surely far grander will be the blessings when Jesus Christ will rule an earth free from the present religious, political and commercial system of things. Truly, Jesus Christ is the Ruler that mankind needs. Have you taken your stand for him by conforming your life to his example?