The Kingdom Issue to the Fore!
“Sing to Jehovah a new song. . . . Say among the nations: ‘Jehovah himself has become king.’”—PSALM 96:1, 10.
1. (a) What song could first rightly be sung in 1914, and why? (b) To what treading down did Jesus refer at Luke 21:24?
IT WAS not until the year 1914 that the words of the song could first be rightly sung and applied, “The ‘Gentile Times’ have ended, for their kings have had their day.”a By the date of October 1 of 1914 World War I had been raging for more than two months. Those words about the Gentile Times were a reference to the prophecy of Jesus Christ as to when first-century Jerusalem and its temple would be destroyed. That destruction occurred in 70 C.E. At Luke 21:24 Jesus is quoted as saying: “And they [the Jews] shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” (Authorized Version) Back in the days of King David of Israel the city of Jerusalem was made the capital city of the typical kingdom of God. Thus Jerusalem became the symbol of the typical kingdom of Jehovah God by his anointed king over the independent nation of Israel. So, in harmony with this, Jesus’ words at Luke 21:24 referred to the treading or trampling down of the typical kingdom of God.
2. (a) When did the treading down first begin, and how? (b) Why was the Messianic Kingdom not set up following Jerusalem’s destruction in 70 C.E.?
2 When did that treading down first begin? Not in the year 70 C.E., 37 years after Jesus gave his prophecy. In that year the rebuilt city of Jerusalem was destroyed, this time by the Roman armies. But the treading down of which Jesus prophesied was a continuation of the treading down that had begun at the first destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in the year 607 before our Common Era. When, centuries later, the Romans destroyed the rebuilt Jerusalem in 70 C.E., the full length of “the times of the Gentiles” had not been reached. Jesus knew that fact in advance, and so he did not say that the coming destruction of rebuilt Jerusalem by the Romans would be at once followed by the setting up of the real or antitypical Kingdom of God in the hands of the Messiah, the Christ. Rather, the typical kingdom of God as represented by the Jerusalem of his day was to keep on being trodden down by the uncircumcised nations until the appointed “times of the Gentiles” ran out according to God’s own timing.
3. (a) How may we calculate the length and ending of the Gentile Times? (b) What issue of highest importance then came to the fore in 1914?
3 Here we turn to Daniel’s prophecy, chapter 4, and find that the number of “the times” would be seven. The years contained in each time would amount to the number of days in a prophetic lunar year, namely, 360 days. Each day would stand for a year, according to the way in which Gentile nations reckon time. Thus calculated, the “seven times” would total up to 2,520 years. (Compare Daniel 4:16, 23, 25, 32.) Since they began when the Babylonians overturned the typical kingdom of God at Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E., in the latter half of that year, they were due to end in the year 1914 of our Common Era, in the latter half of that year. During that marked period of time World War I began. Though that is very interesting, the most important meaning to attach to the ending of the “times of the Gentiles,” or the “appointed times of the nations” (New World Translation), in that war-stricken year is this: The antitypical spiritual Kingdom of God in the hands of his anointed Son, Jesus Christ, started there in the heavens. The fact that this is disputed by the religious leaders of Christendom and others makes it an “issue” of the highest importance. And we must face it!
Vindicated on the Issue
4. Who have been vindicated by world events?
4 So, first of all, we will ask: Who were the ones that, many years beforehand, pointed out to the whole world that “the times of the Gentiles” would end in the latter half of 1914? It was the International Bible Students, using the columns of the Watch Tower magazine and other publications of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society. Today they are known worldwide as Jehovah’s Witnesses. Have world events vindicated them? Yes!
5. (a) What answer has been given those disputing the setting up of God’s Kingdom? (b) How does the fulfillment of Luke 21:25-27 support historically the ending of the Gentile Times in 1914?
5 Since most of mankind today pay no attention to that calculation of God’s time, and since Christendom with its hundreds of sects and denominations dispute its correctness, have those opposers who far outnumber Jehovah’s Witnesses won the hot dispute concerning the setting up of God’s Kingdom by Christ in the heavens in 1914 C.E.? The fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy concerning what would mark “the end of the world” (AV), or “the conclusion of the system of things” (NW), thunders back to us the answer No! Sixty-eight years after 1914 we see in existence the state of affairs foretold by Jesus in Luke 21:25-27, in the following words: “There will be . . . on the earth anguish of nations, not knowing the way out because of the roaring of the sea and its agitation, while men become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” Properly, then, the ending of the Gentile Times in the latter half of 1914 still stands on a historical basis as one of the fundamental Kingdom truths to which we must hold today.
6. Why do Jesus’ modern-day disciples rejoice rather than share the nations’ anguish?
6 Does everybody have to feel faint out of fear because of the things seen coming on the earth? Did Jesus himself say that everybody would feel that way about it? Not at all! For Jesus himself made an exception of his faithful disciples, saying to them afterward: “But as these things start to occur, raise yourselves erect and lift your heads up, because your deliverance is getting near.” (Luke 21:28) According to Matthew 24:32, 33, Jesus also said: “Now learn from the fig tree as an illustration this point: Just as soon as its young branch grows tender and it puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. Likewise also you, when you see all these things, know that he is near at the doors.” (See also Mark 13:28, 29.) Since they have the visible proof in world conditions and events that their deliverance is near, at their very door, as it were, they rejoice and do not share the anguish of the Gentile nations.
Loyal Supporters of the Kingdom
7, 8. (a) Where have the spiritual “brothers” of Christ taken their stand, and why? (b) What obligation have these shouldered?
7 Where do these today take their stand on the Kingdom issue? The present-day remnant, or remaining ones of Christ’s disciples, whom he calls his spiritual “brothers” and who hope to share with him in his heavenly Kingdom, take their stand in loyal support of Jehovah’s Kingdom by his Christ. (Matthew 25:40) They read the signs of the times correctly, to the effect that the long-prayed-for Kingdom was set up and started operations at the end of the Gentile Times in 1914. They recognize that the time is here for them to proclaim to everybody that since 1914 that superhuman, heavenly government rules and that it will bring this worldly system of things to its complete end and thereby accomplish the glorious vindication of the universal sovereignty of the Most High God. Upon them falls the obligation to carry out Jesus’ prophecy:
8 “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; Mark 13:10.
Where the “Sheep” Station Themselves
9. How have Christ’s “brothers” fulfilled the prophetic command, and with what result?
9 That prophecy of Jesus serves as a command to the spirit-anointed disciples of the King of kings, Jesus Christ, who now reigns. In obedience they have already pushed the preaching of the Kingdom message into 205 lands and islands of the seas. Also, the glorious message is being conveyed to mankind in 174 languages, not including the sign languages. No doubt, many other inhabitants of earth are yet to be reached by all the modern means of communication, so that before “the end” virtually “all the inhabited earth” gets “a witness.”
10, 11. (a) How has Kingdom preaching brought the issue to the fore? (b) What does Jesus say in introducing the final feature of the “sign”?
10 However, what has already been the response to the Kingdom preaching worldwide—yes, in spite of all the opposition and persecution that Jesus said would occur as part of “the sign” of his “presence” in the heavenly Kingdom and of “the conclusion of the system of things”? There has been a sharp division of the inhabitants of the earth for and against the Kingdom. Jesus foretold this division in his prophecy on “the sign,” and it is the culminating feature of his prophecy as recorded by the apostle Matthew. Jesus introduced this final parable of his prophecy by saying:
11 “When the Son of man arrives in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will put the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who have been blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world.’”—Matthew 25:31-34.
12. From what prophecy does Jesus borrow the expression the “Son of man,” and what does this tell us about the Kingdom?
12 We notice that, when introducing that prophetic illustration, Jesus borrowed the expression the “Son of man” from Daniel 7:13, 14, where we read: “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.”
13. (a) From his vantage point in the heavens, what survey does the King make of our earth? (b) What proves that the League of Nations was no expression of God’s Kingdom?
13 The peoples and national groups have been gathered before this reigning King since the close of the Gentile Times in 1914. From his heavenly position the King can survey all of them as our earthly globe spins around on its axis. He knows that World War I was not fought for the sake of his Kingdom rule. No! For after that ghastly war was over the League of Nations was set up at The Hague in Holland, and the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ in America referred to it as “the political expression of the Kingdom of God on earth.” But if that had been the case, why was the League of Nations knocked out of commission by World War II, and why has it been succeeded by the United Nations?
14. (a) What personal question now confronts each one of us? (b) How may one gain the King’s favor? (c) In what positive ways do the “sheep” give support to the King’s “brothers”?
14 That is how the nations as political entities have shown where they have taken their stand on the Kingdom issue, with which they have been confronted since 1914. But the personal question confronting each one of us is, ‘Where do I, myself, stand on the Kingdom issue?’ Is your stand the same as that of the symbolic “sheep” gathered at the right hand of the reigning King, Jesus Christ? This pastoral King tells us how a person may be considered fit to be separated to the side of divine favor in contrast to the goatlike people. It is by doing good to those yet remaining on earth of the spiritual “brothers” of the reigning King, who are in line for a seat with him on his heavenly throne. The doing of such good things means that they approve of the Kingdom witnessing done by the spiritual “brothers” of the King. They give support to it in every way that they can, not being ashamed of these proclaimers of the good news of the Kingdom even when these are imprisoned, but trying to help them to get out of such confinement, as was the case back in the postwar year of 1919. More positively than that, they directly share with the anointed remnant in preaching “this good news of the kingdom,” just as Jesus foretold at Matthew 24:14. They do this publicly and from house to house.
15. (a) How does the reward of the “sheep” differ from that of Jesus’ “brothers”? (b) How does this tie in with God’s original purpose? (c) Why is a celestial Kingdom needed to accomplish this purpose?
15 Those sheeplike individuals will be rewarded by being invited by the King to “inherit the kingdom prepared for [them] from the founding of the world.” (Matthew 25:34) This does not signify that they are to die and have a resurrection to life in heaven with the spiritual “brothers” of the King. He does not call them his “brothers.” They are persons separated from the nations that are gathered before his throne. They look forward to being blessed by the Kingdom of Jesus Christ and his spiritual “brothers.” So what they inherit is the earthly realm of the Kingdom, where Paradise is to be restored all around the globe. When Jehovah God made our earth he purposed for it to become a paradise everywhere, and he put man and woman on earth to make it that way, starting with the garden of Eden, or Paradise of Pleasure. The fall of Adam and Eve into sin and death did not deal out a defeat to God’s purpose. (Isaiah 55:11) He at once made preparation for bringing about the earth-wide Paradise by means of a heavenly Kingdom, in which his loyal Son would be the Ruler, or King. It had to be a celestial government if it is yet to crush out of existence the originator of sin and deception, Satan the Devil, a mighty spirit creature.—Genesis 3:15.
16. (a) In what way will the sheeplike ones be especially favored? (b) When do the “goats” go into “everlasting cutting-off”?
16 The sheeplike ones will inherit this Paradise realm of the heavenly Kingdom. A “great crowd” of them will do so without ever dying off the face of the earth and needing a resurrection from the dead back to life on earth. (Revelation 7:9; 21:4) What a wonderful way for them to be ushered as “righteous” ones “into everlasting life”! They will witness it when all the goatlike ones on earth are told to “depart into everlasting cutting-off.” (Matthew 25:41-46) This will be during the “great tribulation,” which will reach its peak of intensity in “the war of the great day of God the Almighty” on the battlefield of Har–Magedon. (Revelation 7:14; 16:14-16) There the last of the cursed “goats” will be cut off from earthly life for all eternity.
17. (a) What urgent question do you now face? (b) Your wholehearted support of the Kingdom will mean your sharing in what privileges?
17 With such alternative prospects set before the inhabitants of earth, the question is a most urgent one, ‘Where do you stand on the Kingdom issue?’ With whom do you want to be classified—with the approved “sheep” or with the cursed “goats”? Those who unqualifiedly take their stand in support of the Kingdom will not merely inherit its earthly Paradise but have a most exhilarating part in vindicating the universal sovereignty of Jehovah, the God of gods and the King of kings.—Psalm 136:2; Daniel 2:47.
a See the song entitled “Our King is Marching On,” pages 162, 163, of the songbook Hymns of the Millennial Dawn, copyright 1905.
With regard to the Kingdom issue, how would you answer the following:
□ What period is covered by the Gentile Times of Luke 21:24?
□ According to Luke 21:25-27, what events mark the end of the Gentile Times?
□ In harmony with Luke 21:28, how have Jehovah’s Witnesses reacted to the present world crisis?
□ In what connection is the “Son of man” described in the prophecies, and what positive action is required at his arrival?
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These words of Hymns of the Millennial Dawn have applied since 1914