God’s Government—Mankind’s Only Hope
1-3. (a) How great are the problems facing mankind? (b) How can the future be known?
LAST summer, at a conference of scientists and religious leaders at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the problems facing the world were described as ‘very nearly apocalyptic.’ There is no “blueprint for survival,” Jerome R. Ravetz, a philosophy teacher from the University of Leeds in England, warned. “The scale and complexity of the problems are so great that human reason alone will not conquer them.”
2 What, then, can we expect of the future? A United Church of Canada clergyman asserted: “No one can confidently forecast that a better day is coming. Whether civilization will disappear or whether there will finally be a new society with more abundant life for all, no one surely knows.”
3 But is that true? No! The fact is, there is Someone who knows what the future holds because he has the power and wisdom to shape it according to his will. This One is our Creator, Jehovah God. In view of the obvious inability of humans to bring good government, do you not agree that it is time to start listening to him? Of himself, God says: “The One telling from the beginning the finale, and from long ago the things that have not been done; the One saying, ‘My own counsel will stand, and everything that is my delight I shall do.’” (Isa. 46:10) And it is God’s delight to provide humans with a good government.
THE THEME OF THE BIBLE
4, 5. (a) What is the main theme of the Bible? (b) How is it being made known?
4 If someone were to ask you: “What is the main theme of the Bible?” what would you say? Interestingly, the religious journal Modern Churchman said: “The significant contribution of theologians over the past century has been to rediscover the Kingdom of God as the main theme of the New Testament.” But have theologians and clergymen been making known this important Bible teaching to the people? Notice the answer given to that question by a prominent Presbyterian layman, writing in Christianity and Crisis:
“If there has been any great debate raging recently among theologians about the meaning of the Kingdom or its relevance to our world I have not heard of it. And as far as sermons are concerned, it has certainly been more than thirty years since I have listened to a minister attempt to explain to his people the reality of the Kingdom for them. . . . As a layman I plead with our theologians and with our clergy: Tell us about the Kingdom of God; explain to us what it is and how it is to be related to the world of our time.”
5 Yet these religious leaders have not done so! When surveys have been taken, hardly a single churchgoer has been able to identify what God’s kingdom is, how it will come, or what it will do for humankind. On the other hand, the magazine in your hands has lived up to its title The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom. Its pages regularly have emphasized the Kingdom message. Actually God’s government is the Bible’s main theme.
THEME FROM BEGINNING TO END
6 The Bible begins by describing God’s preparation of earth for human habitation and his putting of the first human pair in a beautiful garden home called Eden. However, before the couple had any children, one of God’s angels used a serpent to speak to the woman, Eve, and entice her to rebel against God’s rule. The woman, in turn, spoke to her husband, Adam, and got him to join her in rejecting God’s direction. (Gen. 3:1-6; Rev. 12:9) At that, Jehovah foresaw the future need for a divinely arranged new government over mankind. So, speaking to the originator of the rebellion, the angel who made himself Satan the Devil, God said: “I shall put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He will bruise you in the head and you will bruise him in the heel.”—Gen. 3:15.
7 But you may ask: “Where does this prophecy tell about a new government?” Let us analyze it, and we shall see. The scripture says that there was to be enmity or hatred between Satan and “the woman,” and between Satan’s “seed,” or children, and the woman’s “seed,” or offspring. First of all, we need to identify “the woman.”
8 She is not an earthly woman—Satan has not had any special hatred toward any human female. Rather, this is a symbolic woman. She is spoken of in the Bible’s last book Revelation as being “adorned with the sun, standing on the moon, and with the twelve stars on her head.” To help us identify the woman, note what Revelation goes on to say about her child: “The woman brought a male child into the world, the son who was to rule all the nations with an iron sceptre, and the child was taken straight up to God and to his throne.”—Rev. 12:1-5, The Jerusalem Bible.
9 Who is this “child”—this governmental “son”—that is “to rule all the nations” as God’s representative? It is God’s kingdom by Christ Jesus, as we shall later verify. And the heavenly woman, therefore, is God’s organization of faithful angelic creatures, the Messianic kingdom being brought forth from that organization. So, then, back when Adam and Eve rebelled against God’s rulership, Jehovah took the initiative and ordained a Kingdom government that would serve as an inspiration and hope to lovers of righteousness.
LIGHT REGARDING KINGDOM GROWS
10, 11. (a) In what kingdoms did God’s ancient servants not trust, and why not? (b) What “city” did God make ready for them?
10 Jehovah God has progressively revealed information about this government to his servants, pointing to it as the only one upon which humankind can confidently rely. Since Almighty power guarantees for it sure success, faithful servants of God did not trust in man-made kingdoms. They openly confessed that they were awaiting God’s heavenly Kingdom government. The apostle Paul, for example, writes about this:
“In faith all these died [these faithful pre-Christian servants of God], although they did not get the fulfillment of the promises, but they saw them afar off and welcomed them and publicly declared that they were strangers and temporary residents in the land. . . . They are reaching out for a better place, that is, one belonging to heaven. Hence God is not ashamed of them, to be called upon as their God, for he has made a city ready for them.”—Heb. 11:13-16.
11 What is this “city” that God has made ready for these ancient servants of his? It is the heavenly kingdom of God, his government. Let us trace the preparations that were made for the establishment of that Kingdom government. As noted above in Paul’s letter to the Hebrews, God’s servants of old “did not get the fulfillment of the promises” regarding the Kingdom. What promises?
12-14. What promises regarding God’s government were made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah and David?
12 At Genesis 22:18 Jehovah promised Abraham: “By means of your seed all nations of the earth will certainly bless themselves.” The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, identified Jesus Christ as Abraham’s seed, by means of whom the nations would bless themselves. (Gal. 3:16) Similar promises about a coming “seed” of blessing were made to Abraham’s son Isaac and his grandson Jacob. (Gen. 26:3-5; 28:13, 14) Thus, as shown by these promises, the “seed” of God’s woman was to come through the lineage of Isaac and Jacob.
13 Notice the further promise made to Jacob’s son Judah: “The scepter will not turn aside from Judah, neither the commander’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to him the obedience of the peoples will belong.” (Gen. 49:10) Jesus Christ, who ‘sprang up out of Judah,’ proved to be this “Shiloh” to whom “the obedience of the peoples will belong.” And note how this is further verified in the Bible.—Heb. 7:14.
14 Nearly 700 years after the promise to Judah, Jehovah said regarding David of the tribe of Judah: “I have found David my servant; with my holy oil I have anointed him, with whom my own hand will be firm, whom my own arm also will strengthen. And I shall certainly set up his seed forever and his throne as the days of heaven.” (Ps. 89:20, 21, 29) When God speaks of the “seed” of David as being set up “forever,” and “his throne” existing as long “as the days of heaven,” he is referring to the permanence of the Kingdom government in the hands of his appointed ruler, Jesus Christ. How do we know?
KING OF GOD’S GOVERNMENT APPEARS
15, 16. (a) How do we know that Jesus Christ is the “seed” of David? (b) Why could John proclaim, “The kingdom of the heavens has drawn near”?
15 Well, consider what happened in the first century of our Common Era. Jehovah sent his angel Gabriel to tell the virgin Mary about the child that was to be born miraculously to her. “You are to call his name Jesus,” Gabriel said. “This one will be great and will be called Son of the Most High; and Jehovah God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule as king over the house of Jacob forever, and there will be no end of his kingdom.” (Luke 1:31-33) At Jesus’ birth “Jehovah’s angel” told shepherds that this one was the promised Messiah, the Savior and Lord.—Luke 2:8-12.
16 So God’s government began to take on real substance in the first century. In time, John the Baptizer started preaching: “Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.” (Matt. 3:1, 2) Why could John say this? Because the King-designate of that government was in their midst. After John baptized Jesus, God poured out his holy spirit to anoint Jesus as the One who would become king of the heavenly government. Then, during a three-and-a-half-year ministry, Christ demonstrated his qualifications to be king by his faithfulness to God unto death, when the Serpent bruised him in the heel. (Gen. 3:15) Since being resurrected to life in heaven, Christ is in position to carry out his Father’s will to “crush and put an end to all these kingdoms” of men to make way for God’s incoming world government.—Dan. 2:44; Matt. 6:9, 10.
17. What further revelations were there on the structure of God’s government?
17 A further revelation about this Government is that others from among humankind will have the privilege of reigning with Christ as kings. By his prophet Daniel, God showed that persons called “holy ones” will rule with his Son. (Dan. 7:13, 14, 27) Also, Christ made such a promise to his faithful apostles. (Luke 22:28-30) To anointed Christians, the apostle Paul explained in his letter to the Galatians: “If you belong to Christ, you are really Abraham’s seed.” Thus Paul showed that, although Christ primarily was the promised seed, God would choose others to share with him as “heirs of the kingdom.” (Gal. 3:16, 29; Jas. 2:5) In keeping with that, Paul wrote to Timothy: “If we go on enduring, we shall also rule together as kings.” (2 Tim. 2:12) Later the apostle John wrote about those who will “rule as kings over the earth” along with Christ Jesus, giving their number as 144,000.—Rev. 5:10; 14:1-3.
A HOPE SHINING THROUGH DARKNESS
18-20. (a) How did an electrician nicely sum up the theme of the Bible? (b) Who alone are preaching the Kingdom message?
18 Is it not marvelous how God has unfolded his grand purpose to establish a righteous government for the everlasting benefit of those who love and trust him? Yet how miserably the faithless clergy and theologians of Christendom have failed to make known this purpose to their flocks! Thus the people, in darkness mentally and without knowledge of the Kingdom, have put their trust in one human government after another, to their own hurt and disappointment. Do you, however, appreciate the Bible’s message? How would you answer if someone asked you, “What is the main theme of the Bible?”
19 Some years ago one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, an electrician at a department store in Dayton, Ohio, had a fine opportunity to give an answer. He was asked by the editor of the store’s paper to write a review of the most enjoyable book he had recently read. He wrote:
“I will never finish reading this book in my lifetime. It begins by having a beautiful home destroyed by rebellion. Tragedy, disaster, sorrow, murder and death follow. As the family multiplies, the plunge into despair and darkness accelerates. Centuries roll by, nations rise and fall, thousands of characters pass in review, every human emotion from stark, raw hate to a martyr’s love is encountered. Hope, beginning as a faint spark, grows to absolute assurance. A perfect government is to reestablish the beautiful home. Its ruler is the King, Christ Jesus. The government, the Kingdom of God. The family, the human race. The book is the Bible!”
20 What a fine witness the electrician gave about God’s kingdom and what it will do for humankind! Truly, God’s government is the only hope for enjoying a full life, with true happiness! This is the message that Jehovah’s Witnesses have been proclaiming throughout the world in keeping with Jesus’ prophecy: “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) Yes, soon all human governments will be brought to their end—for they have failed to satisfy the needs of the people. This will mark the beginning of a righteous new system under the direction and control of the heavenly King, Jesus Christ, and his corulers. Oh, how grand to be a subject of that government of God! Examine for a moment the blessings that the Bible says it will shower on mankind.
A RULE THAT SATISFIES HUMAN NEEDS
21, 22. (a) In contrast with human efforts, what success will the Kingdom have in dealing with war, crime and fear? (b) What will be the effect of God’s rule on animals?
21 At Psalm 46:8, 9 we are invited to examine the works of Jehovah: “Come, you people, behold the activities of Jehovah, how he has set astonishing events on the earth.” And what are some of these astonishing events? “He is making wars to cease to the extremity of the earth.” Human governments have failed miserably to end war. Yet God will not fail to bring permanent peace, for the psalmist says: “Evildoers themselves will be cut off, . . . the wicked one will be no more.” (Ps. 37:9, 10) Human society will be without jails, without police, without locks on doors, yes, without fear. Hence, God’s promise is that under his Kingdom rule those living will enjoy life, “and there will be no one making them tremble.”—Mic. 4:4.
22 Even today persons with animalistic tendencies, by applying God’s Word in their lives, are learning to live at peace with others. God’s Word indicates that, under Kingdom rule, even the animals will live in peace. “The wolf will actually reside for a while with the male lamb,” the Bible says, “and with the kid the leopard itself will lie down, and the calf and the maned young lion and the well-fed animal all together; and a mere little boy will be leader over them.” Surely no human government can even hope to accomplish such a thing!—Isa. 11:6.
23. What powers of earth’s new ruler will ensure plenty of food for all Kingdom subjects?
23 Another vital requirement for the kind of world in which we all would like to live is that there be plenty of food for all. Human governments have failed to banish food shortages and famine, but Kingdom rule will not fail. When Jesus was on earth, he showed that, by means of God’s spirit, he was able to exercise control over the wind and the sea, over vegetation and fish. (Mark 4:39; Matt. 21:19; John 21:6) Think what this will mean under the Kingdom! Throughout the earth there will be perfect climate control, which will mean no crop failures. This, in turn, will guarantee an abundance of food for everyone. The Bible says: “There will come to be plenty of grain on the earth; on the top of the mountains there will be an overflow.”—Ps. 72:16.
24-26. What will the Kingdom do for the sick, the lame, the deaf, and even for those growing old?
24 Human governments have failed to free the human family from sickness and disease, a vital requirement for enjoying a truly happy life. Yet when on earth Jesus cured every sort of disease and every sort of infirmity, demonstrating what he will do earth wide to provide health and life for all his subjects. Under Kingdom rule the Bible promise will have a literal fulfillment: “No resident will say: ‘I am sick.’” (Isa. 33:24) Yes, no more doctor and dentist bills! No more clinics, hospitals and hospital bills!
25 Even growing old can be a most distressing experience today. As one woman wrote: “I’m not the type to get depressed, but it’s happening to me right now and I know why, I’m getting old. . . . The usual aches and pains don’t bother me as much as my appearance. I was very pretty when I was young but I’m not now. I’ve got lines and wrinkles that no cosmetic surgery could correct and my hair is gray. . . . How can I get rid of the blues?”—New York Post, March 23, 1979.
26 The truth is, God’s kingdom is the only sure remedy for such problems. Under its rule aging will be reversed by God’s power, so that body and mind will be rejuvenated to perfection! People will be restored to perfect health so that ‘a man’s flesh will become fresher than in his youth.’ (Job 33:25) Conditions will be like those described at Isaiah 35:5, 6: “The eyes of the blind ones will be opened, and the very ears of the deaf ones will be unstopped. At that time the lame one will climb up just as a stag does, and the tongue of the speechless one will cry out in gladness.”
27. What evidence is there that even death will be conquered?
27 But someone may say: “If people did not get sick, or grow old, then they would not die.” He is right. That is precisely what is going to happen. Morticians, or undertakers, will have to look for a new line of work, because God promises: “Death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore.” (Rev. 21:4; Isa. 25:8) The psalmist said of Jehovah: “You are opening your hand and satisfying the desire of every living thing.” (Ps. 145:16) Think of what that means! The legitimate needs and desires of every person will be satisfied, and this will be far better than any of us imperfect humans can now imagine.
28 What joy! Under the righteous conditions of Kingdom rule children will be given an opportunity to learn and to grow up to perfection, without the insecurity of this world and the threat of its streets. No more fear of falling victim to enslaving drugs or the corrupting influence of bad associations! Every human will have opportunity to develop his capacities and talents to the full, and there will be pleasant, rewarding activity for all. The prophet Isaiah illustrated what Kingdom rule can do, saying: “They will certainly build houses and have occupancy; and they will certainly plant vineyards and eat their fruitage. . . . For like the days of a tree will the days of my people be; and the work of their own hands my chosen ones will use to the full.”—Isa. 65:17-25.
29 Here is a promise of dignity and purpose for every man, woman and child. The old life will fade from memory. Man will build, plant and reap what will remain his very own. Children will be reared in quiet, wholesome surroundings. Even the dead will be resurrected! (John 5:28, 29) Fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, uncles and aunts, friends and neighbors from the time of Abel to this very hour, all of them will be united again here on earth. What a day that will be!
30. (a) By what means will God’s original purpose for earth be accomplished? (b) What does the Kingdom hope motivate you to do?
30 No human government dares dream of such accomplishments on behalf of its subjects. Only God can guarantee the fulfillment of such promises. What is more, under Kingdom rule all mankind will be united in the worship of Jehovah. Under his heavenly supervision, the earth will gradually be transformed into a global paradise, a garden of Eden earth wide. And all who live will enjoy perfect health and everlasting life under the kingdom of God. Truly a wonderful hope! And it is based upon the most reliable source, Jehovah God himself.
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Abraham saw that kingdom “afar off.”—Heb. 11:13-16
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John, identifying Jesus as the King-designate, preached, ‘The kingdom is at hand’
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Under God’s government, “He will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore.”—Rev. 21:4