How God’s Kingdom Can Benefit You
“Jehovah is guarding the inexperienced ones. . . . What shall I repay to Jehovah for all his benefits to me?”—Ps. 116:6, 12.
1. (a) What ought to be the purpose of government? (b) Why is government necessary?
REALLY, should it not be the purpose of a government to work for the benefit of its subjects? The well-known American George Washington said that “the happiness of society,” that is, of the people, “is, or ought to be, the end [the objective] of all government.” Over the centuries mankind has lived under hundreds of governments. None have truly satisfied the needs of all the people. Whatever the complaints made, however, the fact remains that some sort of government is clearly better than no government at all. Without government there would be no order; it would be no less than mob rule. And if you have ever seen a mob in action you know what that would mean—for in a mob people take the opportunity to vent hatred, greed and viciousness, feeling that no one will identify them for punishment.
2. (a) To what extent have human governments benefited mankind? (b) What provisions from God have aided man with regard to government?
2 The God of heaven knows this. And because government by man is far better than anarchy, God has permitted earthly governments to operate for thousands of years. For the most part, this has benefited people with a measure of security, protection and order and an opportunity to earn a livelihood. God made man with a desire for order and with a conscience to distinguish right from wrong. He has also made known his own righteous principles through the Bible, and, as a result of this, most of the nations of earth have embodied some of these principles in their constitutions. In the Bible book of Romans, chapter two, verses 14 and 15, we read: “Whenever people of the nations that do not have law [that is, a law direct from God] do by nature the things of the law, these people, although not having law, are a law to themselves. They . . . demonstrate the matter of the law to be written in their hearts, while their conscience is bearing witness with them.”
3. (a) How have most governments shown good intent? (b) But what does the Bible say about the real hope for security? (Matt. 6:10)
3 That is why most governments have generally set out with good intent. They have tried to serve for the benefit of the people. They have written constitutions containing fine ideals and principles. And yet, whatever their measure of success, governments everywhere today recognize that the human race is far from enjoying a world of security and peace. Why? God’s Word, the Bible, gives the answer and, far better, it gives the promise that the joyful living conditions of a united world are certain to come, by means of God’s own kingdom, his government for all mankind.
Men Not Created to Dominate Men
4. Why do we not see a happy world today? (Prov. 20:24)
4 After thousands of years of human existence, why do we not see the peaceful, prosperous and happy world that people everywhere long for? Not just humility, but reality and honesty oblige us to admit that it is because all men are imperfect. The fault lies, not just with those who rule, but also with those who are ruled. That is why human efforts to make this earth a joyful home for all mankind fall so far short of what God promises by means of his own rulership. The Bible, in the prophecy of Jeremiah, chapter 10, verse 23, says about this: “To earthling man his way does not belong. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.”
5. What change in rulership brought problems to Israel?
5 Right in the Bible itself we find proof of this statement in the history that it gives of the government of the ancient nation of Israel. That nation had a perfect law, given by God himself. (Rom. 7:12) At first it had God alone for its invisible King, with prophets and judges representing him to the people. But the people came to want a human king, one whom they could see and who would give them prestige in the eyes of other nations. God made it clear to them that this would lead to many problems, including the loss of much freedom. That proved to be exactly the case. (1 Sam. 8:9-18) Even one of Israel’s own kings, a man who seriously studied life and its problems, spoke of ‘man dominating man to his injury.’—Eccl. 8:9.
6. What rulership did God purpose humans to exercise, and what has resulted from man’s going beyond this?
6 Why does it work out this way? The Bible shows that it is because, in the beginning, God did not purpose for humans to rule over other humans. In the first book of the Bible, Genesis, chapter one and Ge 1 verse 28, God told the first human pair to “be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it, and have in subjection the fish of the sea and the flying creatures of the heavens and every living creature that is moving upon the earth.” Only over the animal creation was man to exercise dominion. But men went beyond this and assumed domination over other men. Friction, violence and wars have resulted, with contending sides struggling for domination.
7, 8. How does Israel serve as a pattern showing what results from man-rule? (Mic. 7:2, 3)
7 The ancient nation of Israel serves as a pattern to teach mankind the lesson that human rule can never bring the kind of life that people everywhere seek. In that nation the rulers often did well for a while. But as time went on and difficult problems arose, these rulers began to look to sources other than God for wisdom, ignoring the law that he had given them to solve their problems. They began to rely on their own wisdom and to listen to men, who had only human wisdom. Often these men were seeking their own selfish interests, and they wrongly advised and misled the ruler. They failed to bring the true situation to his attention. Some, through a desire to gain his favor or because of fear, became worthless “yes-men.” Others even conspired against their ruler.—Compare 1 Kings 12:8-19.
8 So rulership over other men proved to be too much for any man or body of men, even though those men had God’s perfect law. The people’s interests began to be forgotten. A few honest rulers tried to bring in sweeping reforms. But they found that they could only partially correct the situation.
9. What changes have taken place in the world, and how does Ecclesiastes 1:15 apply today?
9 Today, what do we find? Instant communication and fast transportation have “shrunk” the size of the world, so that there is an interlocking of interests, and no nation can be an isolated, totally independent unit. What happens in one place affects people everywhere else. Governments can make some minor moves to adjust matters and make conditions a little better for the people. But such help proves to be only superficial and temporary. One of the wisest rulers that ever lived, King Solomon, said, as recorded at Ecclesiastes 1:15: “That which is made crooked cannot be made straight, and that which is wanting cannot possibly be counted.” It is true that there is such a twisted maze of problems, conflicting factions and interests, and unknown quantities that no human agency, however sincere, can straighten out the world’s entanglement.
Requirements for a World Ruler
10. What is required for an altogether good government? (Prov. 29:2)
10 What hope, then, is there of seeing a truly just and altogether good government? What would it require? First of all, the ruler would have to possess absolute authority, not being obliged to reconcile the conflicting opinions of a body of imperfect men. He would need a perfect law to follow, one that is just and fair in every respect. Wisdom and love would be needed in order to follow and apply the law for everyone’s benefit. What human today could fill such requirements?
11. What knowledge and interest would a successful ruler need to have?
11 A successful ruler would also need a complete knowledge of every detail, not only of human nature, along with all the situations and problems of the people, but also of the whole creation. Why? Because some of the biggest and most vexing problems today involve the earth’s food production, pollution and the ecology. The good ruler would have to be concerned with every individual and be interested in the personal welfare of everyone.
12. Why is it so important for the ruler to know the minds and hearts of the people? (Prov. 3:3, 4)
12 Furthermore, for his administration to be one of happiness, accomplishment and productivity, the ruler would need to know what is in the minds and hearts of people, because he would have to reach their hearts to bring about their full cooperation. For individual interests also become community interests, and a government cannot bring contentment and happiness unless the people as a whole act in harmony. (Prov. 14:28) For the state to have peace, there must be a condition of peace and unity among individuals. Is it not obvious that no human can possess all the knowledge and ability needed to accomplish this?
13. (a) Who only can bring about desirable government and why? (Ps. 127:1) (b) What shows that God is concerned and interested in each one of mankind? (Matt. 6:26)
13 Truthfully, then, only an all-powerful One, namely, the Creator, Jehovah God, can bring about the government that mankind needs. As to God’s knowledge of the human makeup, the psalmist wrote at Psalm 139:3, 4, 16: “You have become familiar even with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but, look! O Jehovah, you already know it all. Your eyes saw even the embryo of me, and in your book all its parts were down in writing, as regards the days when they were formed and there was not yet one among them.” Only the Creator knows the minds and hearts of men. “As for Jehovah, he sees what the heart is.” (1 Sam. 16:7) God is concerned and interested in every one of us. “The eyes of Jehovah are in every place, keeping watch upon the bad ones and the good ones,” says the inspired proverb. (Prov. 15:3) Just how much does he care about people? Jesus Christ said: “Do not two sparrows sell for a coin of small value? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s knowledge. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Therefore have no fear: you are worth more than many sparrows.”—Matt. 10:29-31.
14. How does God show interest in earth’s affairs? (Acts 17:26, 27)
14 Someone, however, may say, ‘But by what means could God, running this immense universe of which the earth is only a speck, be close enough and interested enough to correct all problems and bring the things every human needs?’ The answer is, He can do this by the Kingdom under his Messiah, Jesus Christ. How? The Bible helps us to understand.
15. (a) In the beginning, how did God govern? (b) By what means will God restore proper government over humankind? (Dan. 4:17)
15 In the beginning, God was Ruler directly over mankind. Adam worshiped God in a Father-son relationship. (Luke 3:38) Adam needed no temple located on earth in order to worship God. Neither did he need an intermediary through whom to make an approach to God. As a son of God he had intimacy with Him, evidently receiving daily communication. (Gen. 3:8) But this man rebelled and became unclean and unfit to stay a member of God’s family and was expelled from his garden home as a rebel. This alienated mankind from God. God, however, was not limited in his means to correct this. He chose to set up a special Kingdom arrangement to act for him. That kingdom would reestablish his relations with humankind and bring them back into proper orbit in his universal government, as they were at the first.
God’s Kingdom—Why So Long in Coming?
16. (a) What questions are involved in the Kingdom’s having been a long time in coming? (b) Why does not God impose his kingdom by a lightninglike coup d’etat? (2 Pet. 3:9)
16 Do any of us impatiently ask: ‘But why has God’s purpose been so long in developing?’ In answer we need to raise related questions: How long would it take to establish a government that would rule the earth in righteousness and full justice? How long would it take to select and train the rulers of such a government? Further, how would that kingdom be made identifiable as a government of righteousness from God? How could men be given enough evidence to have faith in such a government—to see that it was beneficial in all its structure and principles—something to which they would be willing to entrust their lives? The Bible shows that God does not suddenly impose his kingdom upon people by use of devastating power as in a lightninglike coup d’etat. Instead God has regard for the feelings and rights of those he governs, and so he first educates them in his way, building up their faith in his righteous rulership.
17. In line with Genesis 3:15, why can it not be said that God is idle?
17 That is why the bringing in of God’s kingdom has taken time. Rather than being idle or merely waiting, as some suppose, Jehovah God has been making progressive moves toward the complete establishment of this kingdom ever since mankind rebelled at the first. (Gen. 3:15) He is now nearing the complete end of these progressive preparations. Consider these facts:
18. Why is much time involved in God’s bringing in peace?
18 Jehovah has promised that he will govern the entire earth, bringing in peace and unity. But he is not going to rule simply by force. His purpose is to have people enlightened and educated to know him and to submit willingly to his administration. With this in view, it has taken time to establish a foundation for the entire world of mankind that will live under his Kingdom rule. God graciously provides a knowledge of the standards and principles of his righteous administration and how it operates.—John 17:3.
19. How has the invisible God revealed himself to men? (Ps. 145:3-5)
19 But Jehovah is an invisible God. (1 Tim. 1:17) So, how would he make men of flesh and blood understand? Not by a mere display of power, speaking in awe-inspiring tones from heaven. No, God would take the time to reveal his principles and qualities by having dealings with people. How much more instructive, convincing and moving, not only to hear and read God’s declarations, but, additionally, to see in the Bible’s historical record the proof that what he says he also carries out in righteousness and justice.
Laying a Solid Foundation
20. (a) Jehovah has given us the benefit of what necessary things? (b) After thousands of years of man-rule, what has been clearly proved?
20 Thus, in laying the foundation for his government over the earth, Jehovah has first given us the benefit of these necessary things: (1) a firm basis for faith in the administration that he would provide, (2) a knowledge of the principles of his government, (3) a demonstration of his qualities as universal Ruler and (4) a sure and unmistakable identification of the Messiah, the One who would be mankind’s Deliverer and the King ruling in Jehovah’s name. (Gal. 3:24) At the same time a comparison with man’s rule and its results over thousands of years has clearly demonstrated the superiority, deservedness and rightness of God’s rulership.
21. In laying a foundation, for what purpose did God use Israel?
21 What means did God use in laying such a foundation? First, he selected one people, the offspring of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—the nation of ancient Israel. Jehovah revealed himself in his marvelous qualities of justice and wisdom when he chastised Israel for their sins. (Rom. 10:21) But he also exhibited his qualities of love, mercy and long-suffering toward them whenever they repented.
22. (a) What did Jehovah accomplish by dealing closely with Israel? (b) How would even opposing nations benefit?
22 Bible history tells us that God dealt exclusively with the nation of Israel for centuries. They had his law; they had the principles of true worship of Jehovah. By dealing closely with Israel he held them together and preserved his truth in the earth, while the other nations went their own way, following all kinds of false beliefs and superstitions. God also provided a living demonstration of the right principles of his government and laid a foundation for the King of that government to appear, namely, the Messiah. During this time He did not deal with the other nations unless they in some way touched upon the affairs of his chosen nation. Many of these nations bitterly opposed God’s worship and the Israelite nation. They did not realize that God was working through Israel for their own eventual welfare and that in due time he would turn to dealing with them also.
23. How did the coming of the Messiah prove that God had not wasted time?
23 Then came the Messiah, the one whom God would use to head the Kingdom rulership. This one did not appear on earth on his own, or, as it were, ‘out of the blue,’ declaring himself to be the Messiah. No, rather, God’s Son had the unmistakable credentials of the Hebrew Scriptures identifying him clearly as the one that was to come as the great Prophet of Jehovah and as the King. Since faith on the part of men was required, these credentials had to be provided, based on God’s dealings with men from his first prophecy in Eden, and on through 1,500 years of Israelite history. Therefore God had not wasted time. Jesus’ earthly life proved that he was from God. His resurrection proved that he was raised to power in the heavens, to take over Kingdom authority in due time.
24. Why has it taken much time to select Christ’s associate kings?
24 But God purposed to have more than one person as ruler in the Kingdom. Christ would possess full, complete power, but the Bible shows, as stated at Revelation 14:1-3, that God purposed to have 144,000 others with Christ as associate kings and administrators. Just as any ruler, before going into office, is concerned about those whom he will associate with in his rule, Jesus was selective in choosing his apostles, those who would become secondary foundations of the new government. Using these men, he caused the kingdom of God to be preached throughout all Israel, and later, after his death and resurrection, to all nations. In the long period of time until now God has been selecting the 144,000 persons who will be associate kings. These have to meet the highest qualifications, as Revelation 14:4, 5 states: “These are the ones that keep following the Lamb [Jesus Christ] no matter where he goes. These were bought from among mankind as firstfruits to God and to the Lamb, and no falsehood was found in their mouths; they are without blemish.”
25. (a) What do we see as a result of God’s patience? (b) What benefits are enjoyed by the millions of the “great crowd”?
25 What do we see as a result? Today, we observe the good news of the Kingdom proclaimed in virtually every corner of the earth, and we see many more than 144,000 persons, in fact, over two million persons, gathering together in peace and unity in true worship of God. These are proclaiming the “good news” to still others. Where do these fit into God’s purpose? The Bible tells us that they are a “great crowd” who will survive the crushing of the governments of the earth by the Kingdom “stone” mentioned by Daniel, to become the foundation for the “new earth.” (Dan. 2:34, 35, 44) They will be the first to enjoy the rulership of the Kingdom over earth, and they will be on hand during Christ’s 1,000-year reign to welcome back millions of dead persons by a resurrection and to help them to learn and practice the true worship of God.—Rev. 7:9-17.
26. How does the foregoing résumé benefit us with regard to faith? (Jude 20, 21)
26 Even this brief résumé of God’s progressive preparations for righteous rule of earth demonstrates that God has not idly let time pass, but has built his government upon sure foundations and has given sufficient evidence so that men can identify that government and place faith in it. But this becomes even clearer as we examine the Bible more fully. What benefits motivate people to become willing subjects of this government, God’s kingdom under Jesus Christ?
The Law of the Kingdom
27. What questions arise regarding the law of the Kingdom?
27 Like all governments, the heavenly kingdom operates according to law. However, the law of that kingdom is far different from the oppressive laws that have been enforced in many man-made kingdoms down through history. Uninformed persons might fear that the law of the Kingdom would be restrictive, that it would deprive them of certain freedoms. But will the Kingdom legislate to rob its subjects of the joys of life? Will it place burdensome restrictions on them, or, rather, will they find genuine happiness in submitting to its rule?
28. (a) How did Jesus show this to be a law of love? (b) What commandments did Jesus give God’s people, and are they restrictive?
28 When the King, Christ Jesus, was here on earth, he showed by his words and his actions that the law of the Kingdom would be a law of love. He proved that he had, in perfect and complete measure, the qualities needed for one who could be entrusted with full authority. Jesus made it plain that it was because “God loved the world [of mankind] so much” that he sent “his only-begotten Son,” to this earth. (John 3:16) And Jesus, speaking of his own sacrifice on behalf of mankind, said: “No one has love greater than this, that someone should surrender his soul in behalf of his friends.” (John 15:13) He encouraged his disciples to cultivate the same quality of self-sacrificing love. (John 13:34, 35) To an inquirer, Jesus said: “‘You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. The second, like it, is this: ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments the whole Law hangs.” (Matt. 22:37-40) Are these commandments restrictive? Surely, they could restrict God’s people only from doing harm or suffering harm from others. What heartwarming benefits are to be derived from obeying this law of the Kingdom!
29. In contrast with the nations, why does not the Kingdom provide a low code with many rules? (Compare Romans 6:14.)
29 This spirit of self-sacrificing love already abounds among true Christians, marking them as Jesus’ disciples. It makes unnecessary a law code with a long list of rules to nudge them into line. The law of love is upbuilding and beneficial. Contrast it with the thousands of restrictive statutes in the law books of the nations, many of which are used to police unwilling citizens. These raise the question as featured on the cover of Newsweek magazine last year: Is there “Too Much Law?”
Displaying the Spirit’s Fruitage
30. (a) Why are true Christians described as ‘most law-abiding’ citizens? (b) What does Micah show with regard to Jehovah’s requirements?
30 Already, today, Jehovah’s Witnesses are making diligent efforts to apply the law of love as best they can in their imperfection. This does not mean that they fail to obey the laws of the nations in which they live. Not at all! In fact, in many places they have been described as the ‘most law-abiding’ citizens. And why is this? It is because the law of the Kingdom, the law of love, is written on their hearts. For conscience’ sake they respect and obey the “superior authorities” of the nations and their laws, but their highest allegiance they give to the supreme authority of Jehovah God and his kingdom by Christ Jesus. No, God’s kingdom does not load them down with oppressive rules and restrictions, for the prophet Micah writes appreciatively concerning the Sovereign Lord Jehovah: “He has told you, O earthling man, what is good. And what is Jehovah asking back from you but to exercise justice and to love kindness and to be modest in walking with your God?”—Mic. 1:2; 6:8.
31. (a) Why did the patriarchs not need a code of written laws? (b) Will their position be different in the resurrection?
31 These words remind us of faithful men who ‘walked with the true God’ in ancient times—Abel, Enoch and Noah. (Heb. 11:4-7; Gen. 4:4; 5:22; 6:9) Hebrews chapter eleven shows that they pleased God well by their faith. Later, the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had laws on the sanctity of blood and on circumcision. (Gen. 9:4; 17:9-14) But it was their faith manifested by obedience to the commands of God that showed them to be worthy of a place as subjects of the Kingdom. (Gen. 18:18, 19) The apostle Paul tells us: “By faith Abraham . . . obeyed . . . and dwelt in tents with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the very same promise. For he was awaiting the city having real foundations, the builder and maker of which city is God.” (Heb. 11:8-10) No more than when they first lived on this earth, over 3,500 years ago, will these patriarchs need a host of restrictive laws for proving their faith when they are resurrected to serve as “princes” in a paradise earth.—Ps. 45:16.
32. In what ways is God-rule more beneficial than man-rule?
32 From all of this we can appreciate a fundamental difference between God-rule and man-rule. The rule of God’s kingdom is based on a moral appeal, and those who respond obey that rule because of their love for God and neighbor. This is a unifying rulership. It really works among those who give allegiance to that heavenly kingdom. It is beneficial. You can see this in the loving harmony so apparent at assemblies of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses. On the other hand, man-rule is based on codes of restrictive laws, which in themselves may have some good, but which are obeyed, very often not out of love, but grudgingly or out of fear of punishment. If they can ‘get away with it,’ many persons will flout the law, and in recent years these lawbreakers have at times included high government officials—the very ones who should be first to obey the laws.
33. How has the world taken note of benefits derived by God’s people from their obeying the law of God’s kingdom? Cite any examples.
33 People of the world have often been deeply impressed by the benefits accruing to Jehovah’s Witnesses because of their obeying the law of God’s kingdom. For example, an article in the Des Moines Register, Iowa, in describing the “Sacred Service” Assembly of Jehovah’s Witnesses in that city during the summer of 1976, had this to say:
“An observer who had been conditioned by a lifetime of negative comments about [Jehovah’s Witnesses] attended the recent gathering of some 8,000 Witnesses at the formerly out-of-bounds Veterans Auditorium.
“He was impressed by such happenings as:
“● The total racial equality and deep sense of communion among people from all walks of life.
“● The friendliness and warmth of Witnesses who, though convinced they had the truth and the only truth, sought lovingly to convince rather than condemn.
“● The efficiency and organization of the enterprise, with some 2,200 volunteers signed up for tasks ranging from a complete scrubdown of the building to the cooking of meals. . . . A favorite phrase, ‘We always try to leave a building in better condition than we found it.’
“● The presence of hundreds of children of all ages sitting quietly through the long, long meetings while parents—with Bibles and notebooks in hand—soak up the . . . lectures.”
34. Why are Jehovah’s Witnesses enjoying a remarkable unity, and of what is this a foretaste?
34 This remarkable unity, distinctively observed among Jehovah’s Witnesses throughout the earth today, is one of the rewarding benefits that they enjoy due to giving prior allegiance to God’s kingdom and following its law of love. It is a foretaste of the harmony and the love that will flourish among the entire world of mankind under the rule of the heavenly kingdom.
35. How will all creation come to depend directly on Jehovah’s sovereign rule? (Rev. 4:11)
35 When that thousand-year Messianic kingdom has accomplished its purpose in raising mankind to perfection in the global paradise, then these words concerning the Christ will be fulfilled: “Next, the end, when he hands over the kingdom to his God and Father . . . that God may be all things to everyone.” (1 Cor. 15:24-28) For continued existence, all creation will then depend on obedience to the Sovereign Rule of the King of eternity.
Enjoying Kingdom Benefits Today
36. How has the power of God’s kingdom to unite people in love been demonstrated? (Rom. 13:10)
36 Even now, in advance of its thousand-year rule over earth, the heavenly kingdom is providing innumerable benefits for its loyal supporters, who acknowledge Jesus as their King. No longer are these divided by nationalistic pride or hatred. Tribal feuds and racial prejudices are things of the past. Just how the law of the Kingdom works is illustrated by what happened in two villages in Mexico. Some years ago the villagers were armed with pistols and rifles for use during feuds, and there were frequent slayings. The police could do nothing about it. Then one family accepted a Bible study with a visiting minister of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Eventually, practically everyone in the village began studying and embraced the Bible truths. Hostile attitudes were soon replaced with friendly ones. The villagers sold their weapons and used the money to purchase Bibles. Thus they became lovingly united under God’s kingdom.
37. Especially in this century, how have the benefits of Christian unity been demonstrated?
37 True Christian unity and its benefits are made to stand out when the nations of earth become locked in fratricidal war. In the clergy-blessed conflicts of this twentieth century, Catholic has often slain his fellow Catholic, Protestant his fellow Protestant, and Buddhist his fellow Buddhist. But this has not happened among Jehovah’s Witnesses. Their unity has been real, and has testified to the reality of God’s kingdom as the only government that can unite peoples of all nations and races into a harmonious whole.—Isa. 2:2-4.
38. How has the Kingdom benefited those formerly enslaved to Babylon the Great?
38 The Kingdom has also freed multitudes of honest-hearted persons from slavery to Babylonish religion and its teachings. By Babylonish religion we mean all religion on earth that finds its origin in the doctrines and formalisms of ancient Babylon, the cradle of all false religion. From Babylon came the mysteries and superstitions that characterize most of sectarian religion today, including that of apostate Christendom. But now “Babylon the Great,” the modern-day worldwide empire of false religion, faces destruction. God commands those who love him: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues.” (Rev. 18:2, 4) The heavenly kingdom benefits us in helping us to abandon false religion before God executes judgment on the entire Babylonish system.
39. What goal did Jesus advocate for Christians, and how will following his advice keep us free from materialism?
39 The Kingdom also helps us to keep free from the snare of materialism. How does it do this? In his famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus referred to “the things the nations are eagerly pursuing.” He said the questions constantly on their minds are “‘What are we to eat?’ or, ‘What are we to drink?’ or, ‘What are we to put on?’” But are these the all-important things? No, for Jesus added: “Keep on . . . seeking first the kingdom and [God’s] righteousness, and all these other things will be added to you.” (Matt. 6:31-33) Therefore, if we make it our goal to keep on seeking the Kingdom—by finding out about it, by giving our allegiance to it and by serving its interests—the heavenly Father will see to it that we are provided with our material necessities.—1 Tim. 6:6-8.
40. What protection does the Kingdom teaching provide with regard to morals and health?
40 Moral and physical protection are other benefits that the Kingdom can bring us. Those who live according to the “good news” are careful to keep clean morally. Otherwise they could not “inherit God’s kingdom.” (1 Cor. 6:9-11) Thus they are protected against the dissipation and dreadful venereal diseases that accompany promiscuous living, and they avoid the heartaches and pangs of conscience that result from breaking God’s law. By following the apostolic command “to keep abstaining . . . from blood,” they keep a good conscience toward the great Life-Giver, and are prevented from contracting hepatitis and other diseases that are so often transmitted through transfused blood.—Acts 15:20, 28, 29.
41. How does the operation of the Kingdom’s principles in family life help in a practical way?
41 By letting the Kingdom’s principles operate in their family lives, Jehovah’s servants are spared many of the sorrows that accompany the breakdown of the family in this modern world. The Bible encourages families to stay together, to communicate together, to enjoy life as a family, to serve God as a family. (Col. 3:14, 18-21) It shows them in a practical way just how they may do this. While the United States alone was registering a record one million divorces in 1976, and while child delinquency and other family problems were mushrooming, families of Jehovah’s Witnesses, by and large, were able to keep clear of these problems. And why? Because they apply the law of the Kingdom in their lives.
42. Cite any examples to show how the Kingdom message helps with life’s problems.
42 New ones coming to a knowledge of Kingdom truths have often been benefited, too, in finding proper guidance on how to solve life’s problems. A person who had obtained a divorce before learning of God’s kingdom, and who had then been faced with the hard task of raising two young boys in a cruel world, writes as follows on how the Kingdom message benefited her:
“I just wanted you to know how grateful I am to be in Jehovah’s congregation. I only wish other divorcees in the world would come to know Jehovah and realize there’s someone who will return your love a thousand times over, who gives you a reason to want to go on living. There’s nowhere else in the world where you find such wonderful loving people as at a Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses. And the sister who came to my door seven years ago, I thank Jehovah every day for guiding her there, for allowing the preaching work to continue, for not bringing the great tribulation sooner. How do you thank someone for saving your life?”
43. How can togetherness as a family or as a congregation bring benefits?
43 Keeping together as a family and as a Christian congregation can bring benefits in many ways. Back in the days before the flood, did Noah work all on his own? No, it was a family project. They worked together as a family, they survived as a family and as a family they gave thanks to Jehovah. (Gen. 8:18, 20) When Moses parted the waters of the Red Sea, did he then pass through alone? No, the entire congregation of Israel was journeying with him, and as a congregation they passed through under Jehovah’s protection. (Ex. 14:29-31) Similar benefits may be enjoyed today as families and congregations keep together in the loving association that God’s Word encourages.—Compare Acts 2:46, 47.
44. What special benefits may we enjoy by continuing to assemble together in time of crisis?
44 In time of crisis or persecution, such togetherness brings special benefits. Here is an example: During the civil war in Lebanon, Jehovah’s Witnesses in that land kept together, and they had remarkable experiences. During a district assembly, 117 of the Witnesses assembled in a private home. Just after the last sister had entered, a rocket exploded right outside the door. But everyone within was safe. Throughout the meeting, rockets and mortar fire fell around them like rain, shaving off lampposts and peppering the surrounding buildings with shrapnel, but not a single thing hit the apartment where they were gathered. On another occasion, the homes of two families of Jehovah’s Witnesses were in an area that was undergoing shelling. They debated whether they should risk going out to the meeting, but decided not to ‘forsake the assembling of themselves together.’ (Heb. 10:25) When they returned home it was to find that one house had been completely destroyed by a bomb, and the other house had been so sprayed with shrapnel that no one could have survived in it. They had lost all their material possessions, but—most important—they themselves were still alive!
45. How may we benefit by association now and during the “great tribulation”?
45 Does this mean that Jehovah’s Witnesses will always have physical protection, under all circumstances? Not necessarily so. At least two of Jehovah’s Witnesses were killed by sniper fire in Lebanon, and there have been times, too, when they have died in disasters such as earthquakes. But, in general, their prayerful reliance on Jehovah, their togetherness as a congregation and their calmness under pressure have worked to their benefit. (Phil. 4:5-7) Often this has served as a foretaste of the protection that God promises his people during the “great tribulation,” when the Kingdom goes into action to destroy the opposing nations.—Matt. 24:21, 22; Dan. 2:44.
46. What protection may God’s congregated people expect when Jehovah executes judgment, and why? (Zeph. 2:3; 3:8)
46 How the Kingdom will perform that miracle of protection, we do not yet know. But God’s prophets assure his obedient people that their complete trust in Jehovah will be to their everlasting benefit. Thus, through his prophet Isaiah, Jehovah extends the invitation: “Go, my people, enter into your interior rooms, and shut your doors behind you. Hide yourself for but a moment until the denunciation passes over. For, look! Jehovah is coming forth from his place to call to account the error of the inhabitant of the land against him, and the land will certainly expose her bloodshed and will no longer cover over her killed ones.” (Isa. 26:20, 21) Jehovah’s righteous judgments are certain of execution, and his salvation is sure.—Ps. 119:155, 156.
Lasting Kingdom Benefits
47. In line with Isaiah 48:17, what promised benefits do God’s people now enjoy?
47 Now a “great crowd” of people recognize Jesus Christ as their King. He has shown them how to live clean lives and how to be joyful workers in the interests of his Father’s kingdom. He has led them into a most precious relationship with his Father, who says to them: “I, Jehovah, am your God, the One teaching you to benefit yourself, the One causing you to tread in the way in which you should walk.” (Isa. 48:17) Through his prophetic Word Jehovah shows his people how they may walk safely during these days just preceding the “great tribulation.”
48. (a) What is urgently necessary for all of God’s people today? (b) What warning of Jesus should we now take to heart, and why?
48 There is an urgent need for all who seek God to flee out of today’s wicked “system of things,” and to stay out of it! Though we cannot yet get out of it bodily, we can show our separateness by avoiding its selfish, materialistic ways of life. This is vital to our survival. In concluding his great prophecy, according to Luke’s account, Jesus warns us: “Pay attention to yourselves that your hearts never become weighed down with overeating and heavy drinking and anxieties of life, and suddenly that day be instantly upon you as a snare. For it will come in upon all those dwelling upon the face of all the earth. Keep awake, then, all the time making supplication that you may succeed in escaping all these things that are destined to occur, and in standing before the Son of man.”—Luke 21:34-36.
49. How do the accounts of Mark and Matthew add force to Jesus’ warning?
49 Mark’s account of Jesus’ prophecy gives these concluding words: “Keep on the watch, . . . in order that when he arrives suddenly, he does not find you sleeping. But what I say to you I say to all, Keep on the watch.” (Mark 13:35-37) And Matthew’s report adds this: “Prove yourselves ready, because at an hour that you do not think to be it, the Son of man is coming.”—Matt. 24:44.
50. Why should we ‘lift our heads up’ even in fearful times?
50 The “Son of man,” Christ Jesus, says that, in a time when the nations are in great fear and anguish, they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. He tells us: “As these things start to occur, raise yourselves erect and lift your heads up, because your deliverance is getting near.” (Luke 21:28) Yes, deliverance by God’s kingdom out of the wicked “system of things”! Deliverance by God’s kingdom into a paradise earth—where the Kingdom will shower blessings on mankind for a thousand years! And the benefits of those Kingdom blessings will endure into all eternity.
51. What original relationship between God and man is to be restored?
51 But the Bible states that God’s purpose is to restore his original direct rule over humankind. It shows that the Kingdom “stone” mentioned by Daniel was “cut out” of the “mountain” of God’s sovereignty for the express purpose of vindicating his universal sovereignty and reestablishing this original close relationship over the earth. How, then, will this come about? How will all men be again like Adam—sons of God, with direct approach to him?
52. What prospects are held forth for God’s people as indicated by 1 Corinthians 15:24-28?
52 God’s Word at 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 reveals that when the Kingdom has vindicated God’s sovereignty over the earth and all the universe as righteous and just, Christ then turns this Kingdom back to Jehovah, that “God may be all things to everyone.” Jehovah then has further service in store for Jesus and his 144,000 associates. Those on earth who thereafter pass the decisive test of their loyalty to Jehovah’s Universal Sovereignty will forever honor Jesus as God’s chief agent in restoring the earth to its proper place in the universe, as they serve Jehovah in pure, clean worship.—Rev. 20:7-15.
53. (a) What must we conclude as to the benefits that God’s kingdom will provide? (b) What stand are we encouraged to take, and with what glorious prospect in view?
53 In view of all these grand accomplishments, could anything benefit you more than God’s kingdom? Surely there is every reason to thank Jehovah for this most loving provision. May you take your stand now firmly and loyally on the side of God’s kingdom by Jesus Christ and enjoy its benefits to all eternity!
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In Japan, in Germany, in Nigeria—in fact, all around this earth—God’s kingdom is being proclaimed
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Besides present Kingdom benefits, there is the hope of a tranquil life in God’s new order