What Makes a Government Real to You?
THERE are now 150 countries that belong to the United Nations. Likely you live in one of these countries, since over 4,000,000,000 people do—practically the whole world population! Each of these countries has some form of government. Do you know what kind is the most common?
Republics are. The United States, Egypt, the Soviet Union and China are among the more than 100 nations of the United Nations that are republics. According to Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, a republic is: “A government characterized by having a chief of state who is not a monarch and who in modern times is [usually] a president.” Contrary to what some persons may think, no nation today is a true democracy, which is “a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly.”
Are these governments—these republics—real to you? ‘Of course,’ you may answer. But why are they? For one thing, is it not because the leaders of these nations are real persons? Such men as President Carter, President Sadat, and President Brezhnev have become household names. Also, the places from which such men govern are real—Washington, Cairo and Moscow. The effects of their decisions are felt, not only by their own citizens, but by people earth wide.
KINGDOMS OF THE WORLD
Kingdoms are another common form of government. According to The World Almanac, some 15 nations of the United Nations are kingdoms. A kingdom is a government in which a king is the ruler. Among the kingdoms in the United Nations are Lesotho, Nepal, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Morocco.
True, many kings or queens today are only figureheads, as, for example, in Denmark, Sweden and Norway. The monarchs in such places exercise little, if any, real power. But in some countries this is not the case. Consider Jordan, Morocco and Saudi Arabia. The rulers in these countries are King Hussein, King Hassan and King Khalid. They exercise real authority, although recently King Khalid’s activities have been limited by a serious illness.
Are the kingdoms belonging to the United Nations real to you? ‘Yes,’ you may say. What makes them real? It is not only that the kings are real persons, but also that they have real subjects—Jordanians, Moroccans and Saudi Arabians. These subjects are governed by a set of laws, as the World Book Encyclopedia notes: “Every group of people—from a family to a nation—has rules of conduct to govern the lives of its members.” These laws, as well as a nation’s language, customs and culture, often make a people of one government distinctive from another.
The kingdoms belonging to the United Nations are not the only ones. The most significant kingdom of all is no part of that world body of nations. What makes this kingdom so important?
It is not the number of its subjects, although they are quite numerous. In comparison with the 150 nations of the United Nations, this kingdom now has more people than 42 individual nations of that world organization. Yes, it has over 2,100,000 loyal subjects! However, in a recent year these subjects, along with their friends, totaling all together 5,095,831, assembled on one day in meetings world wide to review what their king has done for them. And that is a significant number! Only 77 nations of the United Nations—about half of them—have, individually, a greater population.
Many governments of the world have fine educational systems. But this kingdom has a superior one. Its principal textbook has a greater distribution in more languages than any other book in the world. And several of the books that it prints to help people to understand the Bible are among the world’s top 10 most widely distributed books. Additionally, each year its subjects print and distribute hundreds of millions of such educational books, booklets and magazines. They hold five classes each week, in over 40,000 groups around the world, where they study the laws of this government and encourage one another in allegiance to it.
What kingdom government is this?
In an ancient prophecy concerning the one who would become its ruler, the Bible says: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end.”—Isa. 9:6, 7, American Standard Version.
You may recognize the above as a prophecy about Jesus Christ. Prior to his birth, the angel Gabriel told his mother Mary: “Jehovah God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule as king . . . and there will be no end of his kingdom.” (Luke 1:32, 33) When Jesus grew to manhood he devoted his life to the interests of that government.
On one occasion Jesus explained: “To other cities I must declare the good news of the kingdom of God, because for this I was sent forth.” (Luke 4:43) Jesus even taught his followers to pray regarding this government: “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”—Matt. 6:9, 10, Authorized Version.
Is this kingdom of God a real government to you?
Jesus Christ spoke of it as a government that was to have loyal subjects. When the Roman governor Pontius Pilate asked him if he was a king, Jesus answered: “My kingdom is no part of this world. If my kingdom were part of this world, my attendants would have fought that I should not be delivered up to the Jews. But, as it is, my kingdom is not from this source.”—John 18:36.
Shortly before his death, Jesus told the Jewish religious leaders: “From henceforth you will see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matt. 26:64) What did Jesus mean by this?
He was referring to the Bible prophecy of Daniel about the promised “son of man” who was brought before “the Ancient of Days,” Jehovah God. “To him there were given rulership and dignity and kingdom,” the prophecy says, “that the peoples, national groups and languages should all serve even him.” (Dan. 7:13, 14) This shows that the resurrected Jesus Christ would rule in heaven, and that the whole earth will be the territory over which he exercises authority as king.
But since God’s kingdom is heavenly—its ruler Jesus Christ now being invisible—many persons do not consider it to be a real government. Yet, as we have seen, there is sound reason to believe that it is.
EARMARKS OF A REAL GOVERNMENT
As already mentioned, one outstanding evidence of a real government is that it has subjects. “In the multitude of people there is an adornment of a king,” the Bible says. (Prov. 14:28) It also has laws that are enforced, as well as some kind of educational system. Does God’s kingdom have such earmarks of a real government?
Yes, we have seen that it does. An entire society of more than two million people world wide have adopted the laws in the Bible as their constitution, as the rules to govern their lives. These people have taken the name of the Great Lawmaker, calling themselves Jehovah’s Witnesses. (Isa. 33:22; 43:12) In the Christian congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses earth wide, the laws of God’s kingdom are loyally obeyed.
Although living in many countries throughout the world, speaking different languages and having different cultural backgrounds, these Kingdom subjects are marvelously united. They speak the unifying “pure language” of Bible truth. (Zeph. 3:9) In obedience to their King’s instructions, they take no part in the political affairs or conflicts of the nations of the world. (John 17:16; 18:36) In this, they also adhere to their King’s commandment to “love one another,” and are thus identified as his disciples.—John 13:34, 35; 1 John 4:20, 21.
When you consider the factors that make a real government, it becomes clear that God’s kingdom has all the earmarks of such a government. It is vital that we not only recognize this fact but also become active supporters of that heavenly government.