The Time for Choosing God as Sovereign
1. After sixteen centuries of Christendom, what does the “pagan” world see the religious state of affairs to be?
FOR more than sixteen hundred years now, or since the days of Emperor Constantine the Great, the world has observed the doings of Christendom. After all that time, what does the so-called “pagan” world observe as to the religious state of affairs? The greatest religious confusion and division of all human history! Global darkness religiously! The situation fits the Bible prophecy that said: “Look! darkness itself will cover the earth, and thick gloom the national groups.”—Isa. 60:2.
2. To whom was such darkness a challenge, and what did he do about it, as foretold in Matthew 24:14?
2 The earth-wide darkness has been a challenge to God, the Sovereign of the universe. This God, who, at the beginning of the creative week, commanded, “Let light come to be”—what was he going to do about it? He acted consistently; he acted in accord with his way of proceeding of nineteen centuries ago, concerning which the apostle Paul says: “The same God who said, ‘Out of darkness let light shine’, has caused his light to shine within us, to give the light of revelation—the revelation of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Cor. 4:6, The New English Bible; The Jerusalem Bible) Accordingly, this same God has, since the close of the darksome days of World War I, caused the greatest campaign of enlightenment of all human history to be carried forward. He foretold it in these words of his Son Jesus Christ: “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.
3, 4. What reception has been given to this light, and what has hindered more people from being enlightened?
3 We should not, however, think that this worldwide campaign has met up with any reception different from that of nineteen centuries ago. As regards the reception given to the effort at enlightenment back there, we read: “The true light that gives light to every sort of man was about to come into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into existence through him, but the world did not know [recognize, NE] him. He came to his own home, but his own people did not take him in.” (John 1:9-11) Back there, those who accepted the light endeavored to enlighten others; they did not hide the light. The reason why more were not enlightened is that there was mounting opposition to the work of enlightenment. The main one who was responsible for that opposition to the light is identified for us by the apostle Paul when he writes:
4 “If, now, the good news we declare is in fact veiled, it is veiled among those who are perishing, among whom the god of this system of things has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, that the illumination of the glorious good news about the Christ, who is the image of God, might not shine through.”—2 Cor. 4:3, 4.
5. Who is behind the opposition to the Kingdom proclamation, and of whom besides the “wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places” is he the sovereign?
5 Likewise, there is worldwide opposition to the campaign of enlightenment that is being carried forward through the proclamation of the good news about God’s established Messianic kingdom in the heavens. The one who was behind the opposition to the good news about the Messiah (Christ) nineteen centuries ago is the same one who is masterminding the opposition to the proclamation of the Kingdom message since World War I. That one is the blinder of men’s minds, the one whom the apostle Paul called “the god of this system of things.” This “god” has associated with him in his bedarkening campaign the superhuman spiritual “world rulers of this darkness,” “the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:12) Just as he is the sovereign of these “spirit forces in the heavenly places,” so he strives to continue being the sovereign of the lives of the peoples on earth. That is why he prevents, as far as possible, the light of the kingdom truth from shining through to the minds of the blinded peoples.
6, 7. How do true Christians wrestle with such spirit forces, in accord with what rules stated by Jesus and James?
6 These “wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places” under their sovereign, Satan the Devil, are the ones with whom the true Christians must wrestle as they carry on their campaign of enlightenment. How do such Christians do this? Not just by exposing the Devilish source of demonism, astrology, spiritism, occultism, fetishism, voodooism and witchcraft. Christian wrestling against such unseen, superhuman forces of wickedness is done also by steadfastly refusing to be pressured into becoming a part of this “system of things,” of which Satan is the “god.” They abide by the rule for true Christian living that Jesus Christ stated: “They [my followers] are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world.” (John 17:16) To those professed Christians who were not living in harmony with that rule, the disciple James said:
7 “Do you not know that the friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever, therefore, wants to be a friend of the world is constituting himself an enemy of God.”—Jas. 4:4.
8, 9. (a) What is the reason for separateness from the world, with what outcome to the matter? (b) So what command is given to Christians, through the apostle Paul, by their Commander in Chief?
8 The reason for Christian separateness from the world is that the world is on the side of its invisible superhuman sovereign, the one who is a Satan and a Devil to the one living and true God, Jehovah. Hence, there is no other outcome to the matter than this, that the Christian wrestling with the “wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places” will continue as long as this world stands and until Satan the Devil and his demon angels are chained and plunged into the abyss for the thousand years of Christ’s reign. (Rev. 13:1-8; 16:13-16; 19:19 through 20:3) For the purpose of resisting and standing firm in this wicked day, the friends of Jehovah God equip themselves with the various parts of the “complete suit of armor from God.” (Eph. 6:11) This does not include any weapons of flesh, any ‘carnal weapons.’—2 Cor. 10:4, Authorized Version.
9 The command from the heavenly Commander in Chief, through the apostle Paul, to his warriors is this: “Stand firm, therefore, with your loins girded about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness, and with your feet shod with the equipment of the good news of peace. Above all things, take up the large shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the wicked one’s burning missiles. Also, accept the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, that is, God’s word, while with every form of prayer and supplication you carry on prayer on every occasion in spirit.”—Eph. 6:14-18.
THE SOVEREIGN LORD JEHOVAH
10. With whom do those who make Jehovah the Sovereign of their lives stand?
10 In the case of all of those who obey this divine command, there is no question as to whom they are letting be the sovereign of their lives. It is Jehovah God, whose word is as a sword in their hand, “the sword of the spirit.” In this choice of Him as their Sovereign, they stand, not with the world and its system of things, but with Jesus Christ and his apostles, also with King David of ancient Jerusalem, with the patriarch Abraham the earthly forefather of the Messiah, yes, with all the men and women of Godly faith the record of whom is contained in the Bible.
11. By what form of address to God did Abraham show the relationship that he had with him, and how do some translators render the Hebrew expression used by Abraham?
11 Abraham acknowledged the Most High God as his Sovereign Lord. After he had returned victorious from battle with four marauder kings and had been blessed by Melchizedek the priest of the Most High God, the divine word came to Abraham, saying: “Do not fear, Abram. I am a shield for you. Your reward will be very great.” In response to this, Abraham showed who was his Supreme Master by the way in which he addressed God, saying: “Sovereign Lord Jehovah, what will you give me?” When God promised to give him the land to which God had led him, Abraham showed the relationship in which he considered himself to be by saying: “Sovereign Lord Jehovah, by what shall I know that I shall take it in possession?” (Gen. 15:1, 2, 8) In his own language, Hebrew, the patriarch Abraham used, in addressing God here, the words: A·do·nayʹ Yeho·wihʹ. Some Bible translators, in order to avoid using God’s personal name, translate this expression as “Lord God.” The Bible Concordance producer Young renders it “Lord Jehovah.” But The Jerusalem Bible translates it “My Lord Yahweh.” So does The Emphasised Bible by Rotherham.
12. What is the significance of the Hebrew word A·do·nay,ʹ as shown in the New World Translation?
12 However, the Hebrew word A·do·nayʹ does not mean “My Lord.” It is understood to be the old form of A·do·nimʹ, literally meaning “lords.” So when the word is applied to an individual it takes on the sense of excellence or grandeur; it means a lord in an excellent way, a lord of grandeur. This old Hebrew word is applied in the Bible to no one but Jehovah or Yahweh. For that reason the New World Translation renders the Hebrew title A·do·nayʹ as “Sovereign Lord.”* In agreement with this, Hebrew translations of Acts 4:24 use the word A·do·nayʹ with the significance of “Sovereign Lord.”—Acts 4:24, New World Translation.
13. Why is Jehovah rightly the Sovereign of the universe, and what challenge can he therefore issue?
13 Truly this God Jehovah is the Sovereign of the universe, for He is over all things and to none of his creatures has he imparted power equal to His. Thus he remains the Almighty One, the All-Powerful One. Rightly, as the Universal Sovereign, Jehovah said to Abraham: “I am God Almighty. Walk before me and prove yourself faultless.” (Gen. 17:1) And to the prophet Moses, Jehovah said: “I am Jehovah. And I used to appear to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as God Almighty.” (Ex. 6:2, 3) With utmost confidence he can issue the challenge: “To whom can you people liken me so that I should be made his equal?” (Isa. 40:25) Shall we today, like Abraham, make this God the Sovereign of our lives?
14. Why is now the time for us to act wisely with regard to Jehovah’s sovereignty?
14 No real sovereign can afford to wait upon his subjects, for them individually to make up their minds. A sovereign has his rulership to carry on and all the obligations of his governorship, and he must take care of his duties at his appointed time. We tiny human creatures here on earth are assuming too much if we think that the Sovereign of the universe, Jehovah God, has to wait until we personally make up our minds to have him as our Sovereign before He may proceed with his precisely timed purpose. In harmony with his sovereign right, he acts when his appointed time for action comes! On this account now is the urgent time for each one of us to act wisely with regard to His sovereignty!
CHANGE OF WORLD SOVEREIGNTY
15. Since when has the heavenly announcement concerning divine sovereignty been relayed to mankind, and why not before then?
15 Already the announcement of highest importance with reference to our earth has been sounded in the heavens, and it is being relayed to the world of mankind all around the globe: “The sovereignty of the world has passed to our Lord and his Christ, and he shall reign for ever and ever!” (Rev. 11:15, The New English Bible; An American Translation) “The sovereignty of the world now belongs to our Lord and His Christ; and He will be King until the Ages of the Ages.” (Weymouth, 3rd ed.) This fact of universal interest has been true since the year 1914 C.E. In that year “the times of the Gentiles,” or, “the appointed times of the nations,” ended about October 4/5, when counted from the desolation of Jerusalem and the land of Judah by the Babylonians in the year 607 B.C.E. For 2,520 years since then the Gentile (non-Jewish) nations have dominated human affairs without any interference on the part of God’s Messianic kingdom. During all that time the Jews have had no kingdom at Jerusalem in the hands of the royal lineage of King David.—Luke 21:24, AV, NW.
16. So, why from 1914 C.E. onward could the announcement about divine sovereignty be made?
16 Back there, in 607 B.C.E., the last reigning king of David’s line at Jerusalem was deposed, and the Gentile nations were allowed to have complete world domination and exercise their sovereignty over mankind, Jew and Gentile alike. But at the close of the Gentile Times in 1914 C.E. the time for Jesus Christ to keep waiting at his heavenly Father’s right hand ended. At that time the Sovereign Lord Jehovah installed his Son Jesus Christ on the throne in the “heavenly Jerusalem,” on the heavenly Mount Zion. In this way the royal line of David was again exalted to the throne, and the Messianic kingdom was born. At the same time the great Priest-King like ancient Melchizedek, namely, Jesus the Messiah, was installed in his heavenly kingdom. (Heb. 10:12, 13; Ps. 110:1-4) From then on it could be proclaimed to the world of mankind: “The sovereignty of the world has passed into the possession of our Lord and his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever.”—Rev. 11:15, AT.
17. Were men and nations first asked before God took action, and how was the right reaction illustrated by the twenty-four elders?
17 The world of mankind was not asked about this first. The earthly nations, with their national sovereignties, were also not asked first about this move on God’s part. The Most High God went right ahead at his appointed time and established the heavenly Messianic kingdom, in accord with his own right of universal sovereignty. (Dan. 4:35) The right response for people to make to God’s rightful expression of sovereignty was illustrated in the action of the twenty-four elders who bowed in worship before Him and said: “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.”—Rev. 11:16, 17.
18. What, though, was the reaction of the nations, and how was this foretold by the twenty-four elders?
18 How, though, about the worldly nations? Ah, they were too interested in fighting out their first world war for world domination. Because of trying to regiment all the peoples to their support in total war, they persecuted wrathfully those true Christians who took their stand for the sovereignty of the Lord God and his Christ. This was just as it had been foretold by those twenty-four elders, who went on to say: “But the nations became wrathful, and your own wrath came, and the appointed time for the dead to be judged, and to give their reward to your slaves the prophets and to the holy ones and to those fearing your name, the small and the great, and to bring to ruin those ruining the earth.”—Rev. 11:18.
19. (a) This is the appropriate time for us to ask ourselves what questions regarding sovereignty? (b) Our following the example of the nations would mean what for us?
19 To this very day the nations continue wrathful toward Jehovah’s “holy ones and to those fearing [His] name, the small and the great.” So it is the appropriate time for each one of us to ask himself, ‘What about me? Am I going to let the course of the worldly nations guide me as an example? Or, am I going to be like those twenty-four elders of Revelation 11:16, 17 and thank God for expressing his sovereignty and taking his great power to reign? Do I acknowledge that the sovereignty of the world has passed into the possession of Jehovah God? Do I, in recognition of this vital fact, choose Him as my heavenly Sovereign? Am I letting Him be the sovereign of my life?’ One way or the other, we cannot escape now having a new relationship with God the Sovereign Lord, either a favorable relationship or an unfavorable one. Anyone putting himself on the side of the wrathful nations puts himself in an unfavorable relationship with the Universal Sovereign. That spells ruin for anyone doing so, for the nations are the ones that are “ruining the earth” and they, in turn, will be ruined in the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon.—Rev. 16:14, 16.
20, 21. (a) In answering the question of becoming a witness of the One whom we make our Sovereign, to what expressions of the psalmist do we refer? (b) As in the case of our greatest Exemplar, no honor on earth could be greater than what?
20 This provokes the question, ‘If I let God be the Sovereign of my life, does that mean my becoming a witness of Jehovah?’ In answer to that question, we can refer to the inspired psalmist, who let God be the Sovereign of his life. He wrote: “But as for me, the drawing near to God is good for me. In the Sovereign Lord Jehovah I have placed my refuge, to declare all your works.” (Ps. 73:28) Also: “O my God, provide me with escape from the hand of the wicked one, from the palm of the one acting unjustly and oppressively. For you are my hope, O Sovereign Lord Jehovah, my confidence from my youth. I shall come in grand mightiness, O Sovereign Lord Jehovah; I shall mention your righteousness, yours alone.”—Ps. 71:4, 5, 16.
21 So we ask, Will the person of today who places his refuge in the Sovereign Lord Jehovah do any differently from what the ancient psalmist did, namely, “declare all [God’s] works”? Will the person of today who has been provided with escape “from the hand of the wicked one” and who has made the Sovereign Lord Jehovah his hope do otherwise than did the psalmist, namely, “come in grand mightiness” and “mention [God’s] righteousness”? Certainly he will not be ashamed of the Sovereign of his life. Jesus Christ, our greatest Exemplar, was not ashamed of his Sovereign, Jehovah God. Hence, he became a witness of Jehovah, and for this reason he is called “Jesus Christ, ‘the Faithful Witness.’” He speaks of himself as “the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation by God.” (Rev. 1:5; 3:14) Those who truly become his footstep followers must likewise become witnesses of his Father Jehovah. No honor could be greater for anyone on earth than being a witness of Jehovah.
22. Our making Jehovah the Sovereign of our lives will bring what experience upon us, but what prayer of the psalmist can we then take up?
22 Our making Jehovah God the Sovereign of our lives will bring upon us persecution from those who make Satan the Devil their sovereign by making themselves a “part of the world,” of which that wicked one is the “god” and “ruler” and sovereign. (2 Cor. 4:4; John 14:30; 15:19) But, when under persecution, the afflicted one can take up the prayer of King David: “You are Jehovah the Sovereign Lord. Deal with me for the sake of your name. Because your loving-kindness is good, deliver me.” (Ps. 109:21) “O Jehovah the Sovereign Lord, the strength of my salvation, you have screened over my head in the day of the armed force. Do not grant, O Jehovah, the cravings of the wicked one. Do not promote his plotting, that they may not be exalted.” (Ps. 140:7, 8) “My eyes are to you, O Jehovah the Sovereign Lord. In you I have taken refuge. Do not pour out my soul. Keep me from the clutches of the trap that they have laid for me and from the snares of those practicing what is hurtful.”—Ps. 141:8, 9.
SOVEREIGN OF AN ORGANIZED PEOPLE
23 If you now choose Jehovah God as your Sovereign, you will not be alone. You will be one of his people. He is not the Sovereign of just one lone individual upon the earth, but is the Sovereign of an organized people. Using the ancient nation of Israel as a typical illustration of the spiritual Israelites whom He gathers out of religious Babylon the Great in this “time of the end,” he says: “This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said, ‘This is what I shall yet let myself be searched for by the house of Israel to do for them: I shall multiply them like a flock with men. Like a flock of holy persons, like the flock of Jerusalem in her festal seasons, thus the cities that had been a waste will become full of a flock of men; and people will have to know that I am Jehovah.’”—Ezek. 36:37, 38; Rev. 18:1-4; Dan. 12:4.
24. How are those making Jehovah the Sovereign of their lives blessed, and what choice will determine our surviving to hail the New Order?
24 Blessed are those today choosing Jehovah as their God and letting Him be the Sovereign of their lives. Over them he reigns as heavenly King by his enthroned Son, Jesus the Messiah. When, in the impending “great tribulation,” the divisive national sovereignties of today are wiped out and the present invisible sovereign of the nations, Satan the Devil, is bound and abyssed, God the Almighty will keep safe and secure those lovingly upholding his universal sovereignty. (Matt. 24:21, 22; Rev. 7:14, 15) Shall we be among those blessed survivors to hail the righteous new order under the sole “sovereignty . . . of our Lord and his Christ”? Let our choice of Jehovah as the Sovereign of our lives decide this in our favor.—Rev. 11:15, AT.
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Those who choose Jehovah as their Sovereign identify themselves with such persons of Godly faith as Jesus, Abraham and David