Have Faith in the Kingdom!
“Now as for the times and the seasons, brothers, you need nothing to be written to you. For you yourselves know quite well that Jehovah’s day is coming exactly as a thief in the night.”—1 Thessalonians 5:1, 2.
1, 2. How has Jehovah continued to use the resurrected Jesus Christ?
AS THE “Word,” or Logos, Jesus Christ was used extensively by our heavenly Father. (John 1:1-3; Col. 1:16) But Jehovah God’s use of Jesus continued even after his death and resurrection. This is well emphasized by the enlightening comments of the apostle Paul.
2 The apostle plainly declared that God has purposed to reconcile all things in heaven and on earth to him, doing so through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. (Col. 1:19, 20) This harmonizes with Paul’s statement to the effect that Jehovah has arranged for ‘gathering together again in Christ all things in heaven and on earth.’ (Eph. 1:10; Phil. 2:9-11) But climactic developments in this regard would also involve the establishment of God’s Messianic kingdom and the dramatic coming of “Jehovah’s day.” (1 Thess. 5:1, 2) The Scriptures make abundantly clear the role of Christ since his ascension to heaven over 1,900 years ago. We do well to give our rapt attention to his significant place in Jehovah’s arrangement.
3. Why was Jesus aware of the prophetic words spoken about Kingdom government?
3 Because of his role as the Logos, or “Word,” prior to coming to the earth, Jesus was very much aware of the prophetic words spoken concerning the Kingdom government. Accordingly, as a man, Jesus invited the reader to use discernment when meditating on Daniel’s words having to do with “the time of the end.” (Dan. 12:4; Matt. 24:15-22) Let us, then, turn to the book of Daniel and consider some things Jesus undoubtedly perceived as the Logos, or “Word.” For apparently he was the One used by our heavenly Father to cause the prophets of ancient times to write as they did.
4 As we look into the book of Daniel with a discerning eye, three interesting expressions particularly come to our attention. The first is found at Daniel 2:44:
“In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite.”
A related expression is found at Daniel 7:13, 14, which says:
“I kept on beholding in the visions of the night, and, see there! with the clouds of the heavens someone like a son of man happened to be coming; and to the Ancient of Days he gained access, and they brought him up close even before that One. And to him there were given rulership and dignity and kingdom, that the peoples, national groups and languages should all serve even him. His rulership is an indefinitely lasting rulership that will not pass away, and his kingdom one that will not be brought to ruin.”
Finally, Daniel 12:1 has this to say:
“During that time Michael will stand up, the great prince who is standing in behalf of the sons of your people. And there will certainly occur a time of distress such as has not been made to occur since there came to be a nation until that time.”
Here, in three passages of his prophecy, Daniel makes reference to the establishment of the Kingdom government, and this in the hands of no one else but ‘the son of man,’ or Michael. These expressions clearly refer to Christ Jesus in Kingdom power.—Rev. 12:7-10.
5. Is it Scriptural to be conscious of a time factor in connection with the taking up of power by the Kingdom government?
5 You will notice that in the foregoing expressions of Paul and Daniel a time factor is mentioned for the appearance and the taking up of power by the heavenly government. If we are conscious of the time factor, then 1 Thessalonians 5:1 most truly applies to us when it says:
“Now as for the times and the seasons, brothers you need nothing to be written to you.”
If we truly discern the full import of God’s Word, particularly as we move deeply into “the time of the end,” we will not be taken by surprise. We will surely be persons of discernment concerning events having to do with the time of the “conclusion of the system of things.” (Matt. 24:3) Let us, then, examine the background of the three expressions made by Daniel relative to the setting up of the Kingdom government.
DANIEL’S WARNING WORDS
6. At Daniel 2:40, what is said about the “fourth kingdom”?
6 Many of us are familiar with the dream image described in Daniel chapter two and know that, with the aid of Jehovah’s holy spirit, the prophet told King Nebuchadnezzar what this image meant. It represented a succession of world kingdoms, starting with Babylon. We are interested particularly in the “fourth kingdom,” concerning which Daniel said:
“As for the fourth kingdom, it will prove to be strong like iron. Forasmuch as iron is crushing and grinding everything else, so, like iron that shatters, it will crush and shatter even all these.”—Dan. 2:40.
7. What is this “fourth kingdom”?
7 Which kingdom does this ironlike one prove to be? In Bible history, the “fourth kingdom,” or world power, counting down from Babylon, is the Roman Empire, with Medo-Persia and Greece in between. In course of time the Roman Empire was subdivided, for better administrative purposes, into an eastern empire and a western empire. It was out of this western empire that there came the outgrowth of the British Empire. As a result of the revolution of the American colonies, the United States of America was established. For vital fundamental reasons these two countries found it convenient to cooperate together militarily and otherwise so as to form in effect the Anglo-American World Power.
8 However, with regard to that “fourth kingdom”—in its original identity as the Roman Empire—Daniel tells us in another of his prophecies:
“After this I kept on beholding in the visions of the night, and, see there! a fourth beast, fearsome and terrible and unusually strong. And it had teeth of iron, big ones. It was devouring and crushing, and what was left it was treading down with its feet. And it was something different from all the other beasts that were prior to it, and it had ten horns.”—Dan. 7:7.
9 In examining Daniel chapter seven, it will be noted that the prophet is outlining the same four kingdoms, or world powers, as those presented in Da chapter two. But instead of describing such powers as parts of an image, starting with the head of gold, he describes them as beasts. In the seventh chapter, he starts with a lion (Babylon) and concludes with the unusually strong fourth beast having iron teeth. It is no coincidence, then, that Daniel 7:7 corresponds very closely with Daniel 2:40. In both these texts, grinding, crushing and fearsome ironlike strength are clearly associated with this kingdom of Rome. But the question remains: How does this “fourth kingdom” come to represent two world powers?
10. The ‘small horn’ has what origin?
10 Let us read on, in Daniel 7:8:
“I kept on considering the horns, and, look! another horn, a small one, came up in among them, and there were three of the first horns that were plucked up from before it. And, look! there were eyes like the eyes of a man in this horn, and there was a mouth speaking grandiose things.”
How interesting! This fourth kingdom, the Roman World Power, starts growing another horn out of its symbolic beastlike head. And three of the existing horns are plucked up to make way for this outgrowth. What does all of this mean? Let us look at the facts of history.
HISTORY CONFIRMS DANIEL’S WARNING
11. Why is it of interest to note how the Roman Empire fulfilled in detail events described by Daniel?
11 We actually ‘need nothing more to be written to us’ because all is already written down in God’s inspired Word. Additionally, if we are truly perceptive spiritually, universal events will not overtake us as a thief might overtake the unwary. But we do need to be well informed Scripturally, and it is of interest to note how the Roman Empire fulfilled in detail the events described in Daniel’s prophetic visions.
12. To what extent did the domination of Rome affect the British Isles?
12 Rome, from its inception, was very much a military power, and it extended its influence and control widely. Britain, at that time basically under the influence of tribal kingship, became part of the Roman Empire, and throughout the British Isles there are many evidences of such domination. These include the wall Emperor Hadrian built across the northern part of England.
13, 14. (a) At first, Rome’s power was of what kind? (b) But what developed in the third and fourth centuries?
13 As Rome became more affluent and increasingly decadent because of the licentious living of its ruling class, it diminished as a military power. By the time of Nero and successive emperors, the decline of Rome’s military might was clearly evident. But the perpetuators of this empire devised a scheme to keep it going as a dominant factor in world affairs for centuries to come, even though not as a military power. How was this done?
14 Coming forward into the third and fourth centuries C.E., it appears that Rome became very much a religio-political power, in addition to being a military power. Artfully, a scheme was devised whereby the papal authority in Rome was able to maintain control far and wide over a great portion of the then known inhabited earth. This arrangement was known as the feudal system and, with the aid of it the Holy Roman Empire with Papal Rome as its focal point, dictated the course of world affairs for at least 1,000 years.
15. How did the papacy maintain control for several hundred years?
15 Under the feudal system, the vast majority of people eked out a living as peasants in abject ignorance and poverty. From their meager livelihood, they were required to support the indolent lords of the manor houses and castles throughout Europe, including the British Isles. In turn, these feudal lords were compelled to pay tribute, or tax, to the king in whose domain they found themselves. Then each of the kings, whether in England, Saxony or other parts of Europe, basically were vassal-like in their existence and were required to pay feudal dues or tribute to the papacy at Rome. Hence, the papacy grew wealthy both in riches and authority throughout that long period often called the Dark Ages.
16. How is the Holy Roman Empire well described by Daniel? (b) What is seen growing out of the head of the “fourth beast,” Rome?
16 Against this historical backdrop, how apt seems Daniel’s prophetic description of a kingdom represented by the iron legs of the “immense image”! (Dan. 2:31) And how appropriate the fearsome, crushing and devouring beast with iron teeth represented in Daniel chapter seven! First, it rampaged throughout Europe, subjecting everything in its path by military might. Then it maintained and further consolidated its power by political, religious and commercial enterprise and subterfuge. But what about this outgrowth, this ‘small horn,’ that is seen to grow out of the head of the fearsome “fourth beast” representing Rome? When does this occur?
THE ‘SMALL HORN’ APPEARS
17. How did the growth of the ‘small horn’ begin?
17 Until the year 1533 C.E., British kingship remained vassal-like in makeup, being subject to the papacy. The following year, however, King Henry VIII became the supreme head of the Catholic Church of England. He severed ties with Rome and they with him. Now the wealth of the British Isles, much of which previously had been siphoned off by the Roman Catholic Church, was being accumulated under the headship of the king of England over the English Catholic Church. (The Catholic Church of England retained the same format as the Roman Catholic Church and, to a large extent, does to this day.) The power of the Holy Roman Empire was beginning to wane, but from it a ‘small horn’ was growing.
18. In what position was Britain by the time of Queen Elizabeth I, and what did this mean for France, the Netherlands and Spain?
18 A few decades roll by and Britain finds itself under the rulership of Queen Elizabeth I. By this time the accumulated wealth of the feudal system within the British Isles is having its effect. A naval fleet of some prowess has emerged. In a short while, under the guidance of such noted men as Drake, Raleigh and Hawkins, the British fleet makes itself felt in conflict with the naval powers of Spain, the Netherlands and France (all still under Rome’s ritual domination), causing defeat to all, including the Spanish Armada. As a consequence, Britain rules the waves and boasts about it.
19 What does Daniel 7:8 say? Yes, three “horns” would be plucked up from before this outgrowth, the ‘small horn,’ and it would speak “grandiose things.” So here, with the emergence of the British World Power, later joined by America, we have the absolute fulfillment of this grand prophecy. The Anglo-American World Power is an outgrowth of the Roman Empire. It is Rome’s “baby.” Hence, it is prophetically represented as growing out of the “head” of Rome, the “fourth beast” with iron teeth. By paralleling Daniel chapters two and seven, it is easy to see how the ‘legs of iron’ represent two successive world powers and not just one.—Dan. 2:32, 33.
WHERE ARE WE IN THE STREAM OF TIME?
20. How may we trace the development of the ‘legs of iron’ down into our 20th century?
20 According to Daniel 2:41-43, we note that clearly identifiable world kingdoms would pass. Do the two ‘legs of iron,’ then, each represent a separate world power? No, not so, any more than the two ‘arms of silver’ in the upper part of the image stand for two world powers in the heyday of Medo-Persia. Those two legs and the iron of the feet develop together out of the Roman Empire, and especially from the fourth century, when Constantine leaves his western capital at Rome to establish an eastern capital at Constantinople. Out of this divided empire descend various dependent nations, with the Anglo-American World Power finally gaining dominance. During the two world wars of our century, those “legs” proved indeed to be like “iron” as the Anglo-American World Power’s military might crushed opposing armies and used nuclear armament in war for the first time.
21. What weakness appears finally at the extremity of the image?
21 Here, we come down to the extremity of this immense image. It still represents the Anglo-American World Power. But now it has a weakness. Its feet and toes have lost the full ironlike strength of the legs. For they are made “partly of iron and partly of molded clay.” Daniel interprets this, saying:
“Whereas you beheld iron mixed with moist clay, they will come to be mixed with the offspring of mankind; but they will not prove to be sticking together, this one to that one, just as iron is not mixing with molded clay.”—Dan. 2:33, 43.
22. (a) Why do not the socialistic and communistic rulers here enter into the picture? (b) Who, then is “the offspring of mankind”? (c) What has resulted with regard to the “iron” and the “clay”?
22 Does this mean that the modern socialistic and communistic rulers become a world power? No, for Bible prophecy indicates that those political elements of a popular kind will never rise to world dominance. The last part of the terrible image, as it comes to its extremity in the passage of time, is still made largely of iron. It is still the world power that grew out of the Holy Roman Empire. But this ironlike power is weakened at the end of the age by the intrusion of a soft, claylike element—a movement calling for the people to have a bigger voice in affairs, as through trade unions, protest activities and the like. “The offspring of mankind,” the so-called common man, endeavors to have his “say” in the way things are run. This we observe today, not only in those western European countries that were once part of the Holy Roman Empire but outstandingly in the realm of the Anglo-American World Power. Here it is that work slowdowns, strikes and labor unrest have greatly weakened governmental authority that once was like “iron.” As labor fights capital, “the offspring of mankind” tries to dictate how it will work and live. Has this brought about a stable condition between the workingman and the government? God’s Word simply says: “They will not prove to be sticking together.”
23. (a) What does it mean that we have now reached the “toes” of the image? (b) What may we expect next? (c) At this “time of the end,” what should we be moved to do?
23 Where are we, then, in the stream of time? At the conclusion of Da 2 verse 43 there is no more “image” left. We have come down to the very “toes”! We are living in that time when the development of man-made government reaches its sorry end. The climax of the ages is upon us! Daniel has told us what to expect. Yes, Christ’s kingdom that is to rule all peoples, the “stone” cut out of the “mountain” of Jehovah’s universal sovereignty, is about to hurl itself at the feet of the terrible image, toppling and demolishing the entire structure of oppressive man-rule. That will mark the “time of distress such as has not been made to occur since there came to be a nation until that time.” But it will be followed swiftly by the most wonderful period of all human history, Christ’s 1,000-year reign. Can any true Christian sit apathetically and placidly watch events at this “time of the end” without being moved to support the Kingdom government? Now is the time to show whose side we are on, Jehovah’s or Satan’s!—Dan. 2:44, 45; 7:14; 12:1, 4.
24. What kind of people will we continue to be, and why?
24 As 1 Thessalonians 5:1 says, we need nothing to be written to us regarding the times and seasons! It is all there in God’s Word. It is just a matter of ‘digging it out.’ So let us do as Hebrews 10:35-39 suggests: “Do not, therefore, throw away your freeness of speech, which has a great reward to be paid it. For you have need of endurance, in order that, after you have done the will of God, you may receive the fulfillment of the promise. For yet ‘a very little while,’ and ‘he who is coming will arrive and will not delay.’ ‘But my righteous one will live by reason of faith,’ and, ‘if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.’ Now we are not the sort that shrink back to destruction, but the sort that have faith to the preserving alive of the soul.” Let us have abiding, motivating faith in the Kingdom!
“The kingdom of the world did become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will rule as king forever and ever.”—Rev. 11:15.
[Chart/Pictures on page 25]
SYMBOLISMS IN DANIEL’S KINGDOM PROPHECIES
The immense image
The four huge beasts
from 625 B.C.E.
from 539 B.C.E.
from 331 B.C.E.
from 30 B.C.E.
BRITAIN & AMERICA
from 1763 C.E.
RADICAL POPULAR MOVEMENTS
The small horn appears
Emperor Constantine (312-337 C.E.) establishes eastern capital, in addition to Rome from which Anglo-Americal Power descends
Henry VIII severs ties with Rome (1534 C.E.)
From time of Elizabeth I (1558-1603 C.E.), Britain proceeds to ‘pluck out the three horns’ of Spain, Netherlands and finally France