Where Do You Stand on the Kingdom Issue?
WHAT does the word “issue” here mean? It means a point that is under dispute between two or three people or groups and that needs to be settled by some authoritative decision or by some convincing demonstration. The issue now is one that is worldwide. It has to do with the Kingdom of God by means of his appointed ruler, Jesus Christ. Since the postwar year of 1919, 63 years ago, the prophecy uttered by that appointed ruler has been carried out by Jehovah’s Witnesses in 205 lands, or countries, namely: “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.”—Matthew 24:14.
What has resulted? This: All the rulerships of the earth have been obliged to face the issue whether they have relished it or not. By now it is clearly evident that they have not liked it. We are now living, as it were, in the twilight of the kingdoms of the earth. As the outcome of two world wars, many earthly kingdoms have been overturned and replaced by other forms of rulership—by republics or by socialistic dictatorships or other sorts of authoritarian governments. Today there are at least 15 kingdoms still functioning, such as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the kingdom of Jordan, the kingdom of Nepal in Asia, the kingdom of Tonga in the South Pacific and the kingdom of Swaziland in Africa.
Removal of Human Kingdoms
Total blackout faces all human kingdoms not just because kingdoms as a style of government are in the minority but because all forms of human government are faced with being removed to make way for a worldwide government not of man-made construction. Says the prophecy of Daniel 2:44 of more than 2,580 years ago: “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.” World War I that began in 1914 did not spell out the fulfillment of that encouraging prophecy of Daniel, but it did signify that the God of heaven had installed his chosen King on a heavenly throne with power for the early carrying out of that prophecy.
Today all earthly governments are facing destruction even at their own hands by highly developed scientific means of warfare. Well-informed commentators on world affairs are themselves warning all of us of the threatening eventuality. They see that we are living in what the Bible calls “the time of the end,” or “the last days.” (Daniel 12:4; 2 Timothy 3:1) The nations are very hesitant about starting a third world war, in view of what it will mean for all of them—mutual annihilation. They would like to bring matters to a state of affairs where they can self-confidently cry out, “Peace and security!” (1 Thessalonians 5:3) When, shortly, they do make such a public proclamation, it will not mean peace with the God of heaven. No, for since 1914 the nations have been at war with him. They are acting contrary to his good purpose for mankind. By God’s permission they have demonstrated throughout human history that they are unable to govern the earth with lasting benefit to mankind, let alone with glory to God.
The Almighty God has his own due time for bringing the unsatisfactory system of things to a permanent end. Precisely at his own time he will usher out this system of things. By means of Jehovah’s Witnesses the nations have been notified of this. They are without excuse.
Man-Rule or God-Rule?
The nations, that is to say, their governing powers, have decidedly shown where they stand on the issue of God’s Kingdom by Christ. They have come out in favor of continued man-rule and against God-rule. The position that they have persisted in taking is a stand against the government of Jehovah God and his Christ. It is in favor of Satan the Devil, the unseen “prince of this world,” according to Jesus’ words to his apostles: “The ruler [or, “the prince,” Authorized Version] of the world is coming. And he has no hold on me.”—John 14:30; see also Matthew 4:8-11; 2 Corinthians 4:4.
Inasmuch as the nations have made their decision and hold to it, each individual must answer for himself the crucial question, Where do I stand on the Kingdom issue? We cannot escape having to make a decision regarding this outstanding world issue. Not paying attention to it will not excuse any of us from suffering the consequences. There is no room for neutrality. We are obliged to be either for the Kingdom of God or against it.
The vast majority of the people alive today may not have been living in that war-struck year of 1914; so they cannot recall all the notable events that have occurred since, by actual experience and observation. All the same, the “sign” marking “the conclusion of the system of things” as foretold by Jesus Christ has become visible and remains visible to all the nations and peoples. They are all feeling the effects of that “sign.” We simply have to read what Jesus Christ foretold, according to the record set out in Matthew chapters 24 and 25, Mark chapter 13 and Luke chapter 21, to learn that he predicted wars, famines, pestilences, earthquakes, the persecution of his followers, persistent distress of nations with perplexity and the courageous preaching of the “good news” of the Kingdom “in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations” right down to the end of this agonizing system of things.
Of course, during the first century of our Common Era the true Christians did considerable preaching, in Asia, Africa and Europe, of the good news of the coming Kingdom. This was long before Europeans discovered the continents of North and South America and Australia and many islands of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, from the 15th century onward. Religious missionaries were sent out to the newly discovered areas. In more recent times Bible societies have been established and have spread the Bible far and wide in many languages. But the message of the Kingdom was not being preached by the missionaries and clergymen of Christendom, no, not in such a form that the Kingdom of Jehovah God by Jesus Christ would be made a worldwide issue. It was not the kind of preaching that would make the Kingdom proclamation a part of “the sign” that was to mark “the conclusion of the system of things.”