The Central Feature of the Good News—The Kingdom of God
“Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”—Matt. 6:33, “Authorized Version.”
1. Around what does the good news center, and why?
THE good news from the Bible centers around the kingdom of God. Why? Because all of God’s purposes toward humankind find their focus in the Kingdom. What man needs today is good government—a government that provides proper guidance but does not take away freedom, liberty and incentive, initiative or individuality.
2. Why is government by the Creator better than that of men?
2 Government by God is essential to the life and happiness of the human race. Man has amply demonstrated that he cannot govern himself successfully by any form of rule that he can devise. The inspired prophet wrote: “I well know, O Jehovah, that to earthling man his way does not belong. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.” (Jer. 10:23) But the Creator knows exactly what men, his creation, need. He knows their feelings, their wants, their loves, their desires. (Matt. 6:7, 8, 32) Only He can bring real satisfaction into their lives. “You [God] are opening your hand and satisfying the desire of every living thing,” the Bible says. He will do this by the instrumentality of his kingdom.—Ps. 145:16.
3. (a) What relationship does the Kingdom have to God’s sovereignty? (b) Describe the selection and composition of the Kingdom.
3 The Messianic kingdom of God is a government arranged and established by Jehovah God, who alone is the Universal Sovereign. The Kingdom is subsidiary to his sovereignty and acts in subjection to it. (1 Cor. 15:27, 28) It is the instrument for expressing God’s sovereign authority and rulership over the earth. At the head of this kingdom is God’s Son, Jesus Christ, the Messiah, now an immortal heavenly spirit person. He is “the reflection of [God’s] glory and the exact representation of his very being.” (Heb. 1:3) Under him as Head there are to be 144,000 associate kings “bought” from among mankind, carefully selected over a period of 1,900 years. (Rev. 14:1-5) Of Christ, it is said: “With your blood you bought persons for God out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and you made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God, and they are to rule as kings over the earth.” (Rev. 5:9, 10) This kingdom is to rule the earth for a thousand years to bring the inhabitants of earth into proper relationship with God.—Rev. 20:4-6.
WHAT GOD’S KINGDOM WILL DO FOR PEOPLE
4. How will the Kingdom help the people under it?
4 God’s prophet declares: “When there are judgments from you [Jehovah] for the earth, righteousness is what the inhabitants of the productive land will certainly learn.” (Isa. 26:9) Through the Kingdom’s arrangement, provision will be made for every individual on earth to have personal, special attention and help to learn the proper way of living. All obedient ones the King ‘will guide to fountains of waters of life.’—Rev. 7:17.
5. In what ways do governments fail to give people this needed help now?
5 Do the people in general have this care and guidance now? No, people receive very little personal help from their governments. There are laws for protection and guidance, made by men and enforced by men. But obedience from the heart, because a law is right, is not cultivated. Failure to dispense justice, along with inequity and corruption practiced by men in high places, breeds disrespect for government and results in moral breakdown on the part of the people.
6. What other vital need does the Kingdom supply?
6 Also, a vital need today is hope, hope that has a foundation. The apostle Paul spoke of his “hope toward God,” which hope the Jews also entertained, that “there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Acts 24:15) Hope is a joyful anticipation with the prospect of realizing what is hoped for. The world offers little hope to the living, and none at all for those who have died. The resurrection is the only real hope for the dead. It is the provision of an opportunity for even those who have misused their lives to make changes and to gain everlasting life. Millions will be resurrected under the rule of the kingdom of God, to learn righteousness and live. Jesus said: “The hour is coming . . . when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.”—John 5:25, Authorized Version; Rev. 20:11-13.
7. How will Jesus’ words about Paradise be fulfilled?
7 As one of such persons, the evildoer who died alongside Jesus was promised: “You will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43) “Paradise” means “garden” or “park,” as was the beautiful area that God made as a fitting home for Adam, the perfect man. (Gen. 2:8, 9) Under Kingdom rule the entire earth will be a ‘glorious footstool’ for God and a delight for man. (Isa. 66:1; 60:13) Furthermore, in ruling his own earth by means of the Kingdom, God will see that it again becomes ecologically balanced, erasing the effects of about 6,000 years of man’s misguided efforts and misuse. Earth and its weather, its vegetation, its animal life, and man, will be coordinated for enjoyable living—all reflecting credit and praise to the Creator.—Ps. 148.
PHYSICAL, MORAL AND EMOTIONAL HELP
8. (a) Besides kingly administration, what other service will the 144,000 associates of Christ perform? (b) What kind of priest will they be? (Heb. 4:15)
8 By this we can see that there is much more to God’s kingdom than we usually expect from a government. The kingdom of God will accomplish these marvelous results because its kings will also constitute a heavenly priesthood—not a hierarchy of priests on earth to whom confessions are made and who rule with rigor and through superstition, at a great burden of expense to the people. These kings, numbering 144,000, are therefore called a “royal priesthood,” under their High Priest, Jesus Christ. (1 Pet. 2:9) This priesthood will not be looking out for their own interests or for material riches, for they will be heavenly priests and imitators of their great, merciful High Priest. They will be responsible to administer the spiritual education of the people. There will then be no deceptive false religions on earth, no political organizations to bring pressure on people, no commercial exploitation. Such ruinous organizations will themselves have been brought to ruin.—Rev. 11:18.
9. What will be the result of the activities of the “royal priesthood”?
9 As people progress in a spiritual way, applying right principles in their everyday lives, they will be lifted up by the power of the heavenly body of king-priests to perfection. Thereafter, no more will a man have to say, “the good that I wish I do not do, but the bad that I do not wish is what I practice.” (Rom. 7:19) Each man, in perfection, will have full control of all his powers and faculties and will be truly in the ‘image and likeness of God,’ reflecting his glory.—Gen. 1:26, 27; Rom. 3:23.
10. Will this “royal priesthood” be subject to deterioration, as have past priesthoods? Why?
10 How can we be sure that we can put trust in this kingdom of priests? Will it be subject to eventual deterioration, just as have past governments and priesthoods? No. God does not do anything without first having proper basis in justice. “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of thy throne,” wrote the psalmist. (Ps. 89:14, American Standard Version; Ex. 34:6, 7) Accordingly, in arranging for his “royal priesthood,” he took centuries to select, train, prove and perfect its individual members.
GOD’S HEAVENLY SON BECOMES FLESH
11. Describe the life of the King of the Kingdom down to the time of his becoming a perfect, full-grown man.
11 First and foremost is the King, the Head of the “royal priesthood.” He is God’s first creation, the “only-begotten Son” of God. (1 John 4:9; Rev. 3:14) Nowhere does the Bible say that he is part of a so-called “Trinity,” or that he is on an equal level with Jehovah God. He called Jehovah ‘my Father and my God.’ (John 20:17) This Son, Jesus Christ, when on earth, acknowledged that he had enjoyed a prehuman existence in heaven with his Father. (John 8:56-58) It had been no problem for the Creator Jehovah God to transfer the life of his Son to the womb of a virgin girl named Mary. Consequently, though Jesus had a heavenly Father, he was born of a woman as a perfect human child, no longer a heavenly spirit person as he had been. (Gal. 4:4; Luke 1:35) He grew to full, perfect manhood—an equivalent of the perfect Adam, who later sinned and became the father of all mankind.—John 1:14; 1 Cor. 15:45.
12. How were the humility of Christ and the love of Jehovah demonstrated in Jesus’ course?
12 Of the stepping down of God’s Son from the higher, spirit life to human nature out of humble obedience to his Father and out of love for humankind, the Bible says: “He emptied himself and took a slave’s form and came to be in the likeness of men. More than that, when he found himself in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient as far as death, yes, death on a torture stake.” (Phil. 2:7, 8) The Father’s love was great in thus sacrificing his Son. Wrote the apostle John: “God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.”—John 3:16.
HOW JESUS’ SUFFERING HELPED MANKIND
13. Why was there a need for Christ to undergo suffering and death?
13 Why was there a need for God’s Son to undergo all these trials, including death? First, God’s purpose to have a righteous Kingdom government to express his sovereignty required it. At the same time, Jesus’ death was essential for the salvation and life of all humankind. How?
14. (a) What did Jesus’ earthly course guarantee for us? (b) How does the apostle Paul describe Jesus’ life course and its outcome?
14 For one thing, the course that Jesus Christ took, according to God’s will, magnifies God’s justice and thoroughness and guarantees an unshakable, incorruptible government for the earth. It provides a firm basis for our faith. For in order to qualify as heavenly King and High Priest, Jesus had to undergo the severest, most searching test. About this, the apostle Paul said:
“In the days of his flesh Christ offered up supplications and also petitions to the One who was able to save him out of death, with strong outcries and tears, and he was favorably heard for his godly fear. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered; and after he had been made perfect he became responsible for everlasting salvation to all those obeying him, because he has been specifically called by God a high priest according to the manner of Melchizedek [a priest in Abraham’s time, before the Law covenant was made, and who received his appointment directly from God].”—Heb. 5:7-10.
15. (a) For what was Christ supplicating God with strong outcries and tears? (b) How did he learn obedience, and with what outcome?
15 Jesus maintained his integrity in a perfect way. His ‘crying out to God’ was to avoid, not his death as a sacrifice for humankind, but death due to God’s displeasure for any unfaithfulness or failure on his own part. He wanted his course to be crowned with success. He “learned obedience.” He had been obedient in heaven under entirely favorable conditions. But on earth obedience to God brought persecution and suffering, even crushing circumstances. Jesus was perfect and righteous, without flaw from birth, but at the end of his course he was perfected in a greatly magnified way as the fully qualified, tried and true King-Priest.
16. How did Jesus’ earthly test and suffering work toward the saving of mankind?
16 How did Jesus’ earthly testing, suffering and death work toward the saving of humankind? Again, the apostle answers:
“He was obliged to become like his ‘brothers’ in all respects, that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, in order to offer propitiatory sacrifice for the sins of the people. For in that he himself has suffered when being put to the test, he is able to come to the aid of those who are being put to the test.”—Heb. 2:17, 18.
HUMAN RACE BOUGHT BY CHRIST
17 When Adam rebelled against God he became God’s enemy, thereby forfeiting his life and causing his offspring to be born sinful—sold into slavery to sin and death. (Gen. 3:17-19; Ps. 51:5) Therefore, the children were not deliberate sinners. They could be redeemed. (Rom. 8:20) Jesus Christ, as Priest, had to offer a sacrifice of the value and quality required to atone for sin. No man of Adam’s descent could do this with money, or even with the sacrifice of his life—the price was too high, for what was demanded was the equivalent of Adam, a perfect human life. Christ provided the necessary “corresponding ransom for all.” (1 Tim. 2:5, 6) He came to supply what the Law had foreshadowed with its inferior sacrifices of animals.
18 Of Jesus’ approach to God at the time of his baptism, the record portrays Jesus as saying: “‘Sacrifice and offering you did not want, but you prepared a body [a perfect human body] for me. You did not approve of whole burnt offerings and sin offering.’ Then I said, ‘Look! I am come (in the roll of the book [the scroll of the Law, especially toward kings, as in Deuteronomy 17:19, 20] it is written about me) to do your will, O God.’”—Heb. 10:5-7; Ps. 40:7, 8.
19 So, God has made everything that we will receive—all our hopes—dependent on Jesus Christ. What this great King has done and will do for our good is further discussed in the following article.