Stability Even Though Nations Shake
THIS century has been remarkable in that it has seen the dissolution of the great colonial empires. A strong upsurge of independence on the people’s part, with a weakening of the colonial powers, has ripped the colonies away from their “mother” governments. Today the giant powers such as the United States and Russia use a different method. Instead of the colonial style of control, they endeavor to keep the smaller states tied to them in economic and political ways.
This practice, known as “neocolonialism,” has brought problems. And, even though many of the smaller states generally have more political independence, the living conditions of the people under their independent governments are, in many cases, about the same as before. Even these nations are shaken.
NATIONS ‘ROCKED’ OVER ISSUE OF SOVEREIGNTY
The big issue with the nations is sovereignty: Who will dominate either the local country or a large part of the earth, even all of it?
Therefore, the thing that shakes the nations most severely is any challenge to their sovereignty. They jealously guard it against other men and nations, and even against God. They do not want to acknowledge God’s sovereign right to rule the earth, because they do not want to conform to the principles set down in the Bible.
Consequently, the proclamation that it is time for the kingdom of God to rule shakes the nations. This may sound like an unfounded statement. But consider a few comparisons of Bible prophecies with actual world events.
In the year 1914 the “appointed times of the nations” ran out. That is, the time ended for man-made governments to rule without any challenge or interference from a government by God. God had no representative government ruling in his name from the time that the last king of the line of David was taken off the throne in Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E. (Luke 21:24; Ezek. 21:26, 27) But he had foretold a kingdom to rule from the heavens in the person of the heir of David, Jesus Christ. (Isa. 11:1, 2; Dan. 7:13, 14) In 1914 the time came for Christ to accept invisible Kingdom power over the world. (Dan. 4:32)a This fact was widely announced by Christians at that time. This notice of interference with men’s sovereign rule of earth by God’s heavenly kingdom ‘rocked’ the nations.—Hag. 2:6.
Someone may say, How could a mere announcement like that, though it was and still is being widely proclaimed, “rock” the nations? Well, we are acquainted with the fact that World War I started in midsummer of that year, a war for world domination. We cannot see all that goes on in high worldly circles, but the Bible gives us insight into some of these things. It tells us of the announcement due to be made when the “appointed times of the nations” ended. It prophetically depicts those in the heavens seeing what is going on, and observing how the nations are affected, saying: “We thank you, Jehovah God, the Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and begun ruling as king.” What do those heavenly voices say was the result on earth of this action on God’s part in heaven? “But the nations became wrathful.” They expressed this wrath by using wartime conditions to suppress those making announcement of God’s kingdom. (Rev. 11:17, 18) In many nations, the Kingdom announcers were falsely charged with sedition, with trying to overthrow existing governments.
But there is a “behind the scenes” reason as to why the nations were shaken. The nations themselves do not see it. The vision in Revelation goes on to explain. It describes the ‘birth’ of God’s Messianic kingdom in the hands of his Son Jesus Christ. It shows that war in heaven followed and that the Devil, who has all along been the chief challenger of God’s sovereignty, was hurled out. As a consequence, says the account: “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.
The Devil, who is called “the ruler of this world” and “the god of this system of things,” stirred up the nations to go into global warfare. (John 12:31; 2 Cor. 4:4) If he could get rid of the proclamation on earth, and the proclaimers, his domination would be unchallenged (as he calculated) by any earthly proclamation. And if Satan could be successful in this effort, then, when the kingdom of God would finally take complete control at the end of Satan’s “short period of time” at the earth, it would have no earthly subjects, no persons standing firm for God’s sovereignty.
NATIONS TO BE THOROUGHLY SHAKEN
So Jehovah God ‘rocks’ the nations, and he will continue to make the ‘rocking’ more severe. The proclamation about the Kingdom is constantly increasing in volume and expanding to wider areas. The more dictatorial nations manifest drastic reaction to the ‘rocking’ by their taking strong action to silence the proclamation about the Kingdom.
How far will the ‘rocking’ or ‘shaking’ of the nations go? And, in the meantime, will those opposed to the Kingdom proclamation get the proclaimers stopped? It may appear that, with all their power and political machinery, the nations could do it. But even with the tight control exercised by Communist governments the good news of the Kingdom is still heard in their domain. What will be the outcome?
THE SERIOUSNESS OF THE CHRISTIAN’S POSITION
The writer of the letter to the Hebrew Christians, generally thought to be the apostle Paul, answers the question for us, showing that the shaking and the continued announcement of the Kingdom will not stop. But first he points out to Christians the seriousness of their situation, saying:
“You have approached a Mount Zion and a city of the living God, heavenly Jerusalem, and myriads of angels, in general assembly, and the congregation of the firstborn who have been enrolled in the heavens, and God the Judge of all, and the spiritual lives of righteous ones who have been made perfect, and Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and the blood of sprinkling, which speaks in a better way than Abel’s blood.”—Heb. 12:22-24.
Paul had just commented on the awe-inspiring experience of the Israelites at Mount Sinai when the Law covenant was made. (Heb. 12:18-21) The mountain shook and smoked, causing even Moses to tremble. But Christians now stand, not only before an assembly of tens of thousands of angels, but also before Jehovah God and, at his right hand, Jesus Christ, whose sacrifice validated the new covenant. He having been a perfect man and giving his life as the atonement sacrifice, his blood is more valuable than that of any imperfect man, including righteous men such as Abel. Besides this, the spiritual brothers of Jesus Christ on earth are not condemned sinners, as were those ancient Hebrews at Mount Sinai, but are those who have been cleansed and declared righteous. Indeed, a more awesome position and responsibility. Will these Christians be able to continue standing before God? (Luke 21:36) The apostle next says to them:
“See that you do not beg off from him who is speaking. . . . At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, saying: ‘Yet once more I will set in commotion not only the earth but also the heaven.’ Now the expression ‘Yet once more’ signifies the removal of the things being shaken as things that have been made, in order that the things not being shaken may remain. Wherefore, seeing that we are to receive a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us continue to have undeserved kindness, through which we may acceptably render God sacred service with godly fear and awe. For our God is also a consuming fire.”—Heb. 12:25-29.
The “things that have been made,” by hands other than God’s—this system of things with its false religion that has misled millions, its selfish commercialism and its governments, symbolized in the Bible as beasts—will not be able to withstand the shaking. Even the wicked “heavens” will vanish. What will stand? The apostle tells us: God’s kingdom.—Dan. 8:20-25.
Since the Messianic kingdom of God will remain, its adherents and proclaimers also will remain, and the proclamation will never be stopped before this present system of things is shaken completely out of existence.—Dan. 2:44.
Since only those who adhere to the Kingdom during all this shaking will remain alive, the apostle warned Christians as to what their course of action should be, saying: “Pursue peace with all people, and the sanctification without which no man will see the Lord, carefully watching that no one may be deprived of the undeserved kindness of God; that no poisonous root may spring up and cause trouble and that many may not be defiled by it; that there may be no fornicator nor anyone not appreciating sacred things.”—Heb. 12:14-16.
True Christians, accordingly, must truly represent Jehovah’s name before all the people. Not only must they announce the Kingdom, but they must also live by its high principles. They receive favor and blessings, their godly devotion holding fine things for them in “the life now” and the promise of “that which is to come.” (1 Tim. 4:8) What a serious thing it would be to do anything unclean, disgraceful, and to fall into condemnatory judgment by the living God, who burns up all uncleanness as by fire!
So Christians certainly do not want to “beg off” from “him who speaks from the heavens.” (Heb. 12:25) And those who are not now true Christians, giving God their devotion, should listen to the good news, because it can also offer them great happiness in the life now and that which is to come for faithful persons.
a See the book True Peace and Security—From What Source?, pp. 72-85 (1973), also “Your Will Be Done on Earth,” pp. 94-103 (1958), by Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, Brooklyn, New York.