World Rulership Changing
IF YOU were able to choose, what kind of government would you want to live under? Most of us would likely choose a stable government that gave a reasonable amount of personal freedom. We would like a government that could control crime, promote peace, foster social justice, and develop material prosperity. Certainly, we would prefer a government that was not oppressive or corrupt.
Sadly, most governments have not been like this. When we consider the world as it is in the latter half of this 20th century, what do we see? Poverty, corruption, inefficiency, oppression, social injustice, crime, and international tension. This is the end result of thousands of years of human government.
It is true, of course, that some individual rulers have been fair-minded and capable. And some governmental systems have been relatively stable and effective for a time. But the failure of human government as a whole to do what we instinctively feel it should do for mankind proves the truth of the Bible’s statement: “To earthling man his way does not belong. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.” (Jeremiah 10:23) In other words, man was not made to govern himself without outside help.
That is why it is good to know that world rulership is changing. What do we mean by this expression? We mean that the day-to-day governing of the lives of humankind will soon be in the hands of an entirely new form of government that will be completely successful. This radical change of government was foretold by God. Indeed, it is the very theme of the Bible.
God’s Concern About Government
God has always been concerned about the governing of mankind. He watches closely to what degree human governments fulfill their responsibility, and sometimes he calls them to account. Indeed, the histories of some of the outstanding governmental systems of the past 2,500 years of history were foretold in the Bible. In the book of Daniel, written more than 500 years before the birth of Christ, prophecies were recorded that foretold the downfall of ancient Babylon, as well as the rise and fall of Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. The prophecies even foretold the development of the Anglo-American World Power of our own day. A brief consideration of some of these prophecies will help us to understand what is meant by the statement that world rulership is changing.
The first of these amazing prophecies was an inspired dream in which the political world powers from Daniel’s day down through our time were represented by a huge image. Then, a stone cut out, not by hands, struck and crushed this image. The stone ground these world powers to dust, “like the chaff from the summer threshing floor, and the wind carried them away so that no trace at all was found of them.”—Daniel 2:31-43.
The very same chapter of Daniel explains what this meant. It shows that failing human governments would be replaced by something infinitely superior. It tells us: “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 [human] kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite . . . And the dream is reliable, and the interpretation of it is trustworthy.”—Daniel 2:44, 45.
But that was not the end of the matter. In a second vision, the successive world powers were represented by huge beasts having the characteristics of the power represented. Daniel was then allowed to see all the way up to the awe-inspiring heavenly throne of “the Ancient of Days,” and he was shown something that would happen, not in his day but during the reign of the Anglo-American World Power of our time. He saw Jehovah’s majestic heavenly Court sit in judgment on these world powers. (Daniel 7:2-12) As the following verses show, the divine decree was issued for a change in rulership. To whom would this rulership be given?
Someone Like a Son of Man
Daniel gives the thrilling answer:
“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.”—Daniel 7:13, 14.
Thus Daniel was used to foretell that “the Ancient of Days,” Jehovah God himself, will do away with misrule by oppressive human governments. He will replace this with rule by a government finer than humankind could ever imagine—an invisible Kingdom exercising power and authority from heaven. But who is this “someone like a son of man” who will receive the Kingdom?
We are not left in doubt. Jesus identified himself as “the Son of man.” He described his presence as the time when “the Son of man arrives in his glory, and all the angels with him.” (Matthew 25:31) When the Jewish high priest demanded that Jesus tell the court whether he was “the Christ the Son of God,” Jesus answered: “You yourself said it. Yet I say to you men, From henceforth you will see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”*—Matthew 26:63, 64.
The Last Human World Power
Some 600 years after Daniel’s time, the apostle John wrote the Bible book of Revelation under divine inspiration. That book refers to these world powers as mighty “kings,” saying: “And there are seven kings: five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet arrived, but when he does arrive he must remain a short while.”—Revelation 17:10.
The five that had already fallen when John wrote this were Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece. The Roman Empire still ‘was.’ Obviously, the seventh, the Anglo-American World Power of our time, had not yet arrived. According to Revelation, no world power survives the seventh—the one that exists today. This is the last one. There will be no more.
However, that should not be a frightening thought—it is a thrilling one! It means that unjust, warring human rulership is near its end. The prophecies unite in telling of a momentous change in the way earth is ruled—a change from selfish human government to a righteous heavenly one, God’s Kingdom.
The Kingdom Government
But what is that Kingdom? It is far more than just an influence for good in people’s hearts and lives. It is also much more than the life of the so-called Christian church. God’s Kingdom is a real government. It has a king, associate rulers, a territory, and subjects. And it will produce the marvelous blessings mentioned earlier.
Jesus is identified as King of the Kingdom. He likened himself to a man of noble birth who “traveled to a distant land to secure kingly power for himself and to return.” Of that future time, he said: “When the Son of man arrives in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne.”—Luke 19:12; Matthew 25:31.
When would “the Son of man” arrive? We do not have to guess at the answer. Jesus’ words here are part of his answer to the question: “What will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?” (Matthew 24:3, 30) As has often been shown in the columns of this magazine, that “presence” began invisibly in the heavens at the end of “the appointed times of the nations” in 1914.*—Luke 21:24.
Just as Revelation chapter 12 said would happen, Jesus then took his power and hurled Satan from heaven down to the vicinity of the earth. A voice in heaven proclaimed: “Now have come to pass the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ, because the accuser of our brothers has been hurled down.” This explains the worsening of world conditions since that time. Thus, the voice in heaven continued: “Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.”—Revelation 12:9-12.
That short time will soon expire. A few chapters later, the glorified Jesus is seen on a white horse. He is called “The Word of God,” and he will “strike the nations” and “shepherd them with a rod of iron”—just as Daniel had shown that the nations would be crushed by God’s stonelike Kingdom that would grow to fill the whole earth.—Revelation 19:11-16; Daniel 2:34, 35, 44, 45.
Never again will beastlike human political powers oppress mankind!
But there is more. Daniel was inspired to say that the Kingdom would be given not just to “someone like a son of man” but also “to the people who are the holy ones of the Supreme One.”—Daniel 7:27.
Who are these? Revelation says of the Lamb, Christ Jesus: “You bought persons for God out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and you made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God, and they are to rule as kings over the earth.” It further says that they will become “priests of God and of the Christ, and will rule as kings with him for the thousand years.” Their number is given as 144,000.—Revelation 5:9, 10; 14:1; 20:6.
These are the ones whom the Most High God chooses for a share in world government with his Son, Jesus Christ. Could our future be in safer hands than in these God chooses? No, this Kingdom will be the best possible government—far superior to anything man has ever known. Under its rule all the earth will be transformed to the Paradise originally purposed by God.
Read the following article and see whether this is the kind of government you would choose to live under.
Regarding Daniel’s vision, the New Catholic Encyclopedia says: “There can be little doubt that Daniel is here speaking of an event that is of eternal significance at the end of time.” It adds: “The profession of Jesus before the Sanhedrin gives us indisputable evidence of His identification with the Son of Man and clear reference to His coming in power.”
See The Watchtower issues of May 1, 1982 and April 1, 1984.
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“The Central Theme of Jesus’ Teaching”
“The theme of the kingdom of God occupies a central place in the preaching of Jesus.”—New Catholic Encyclopedia.
“[The Kingdom of God] is generally considered to be the central theme of Jesus’ teaching.”—Encyclopædia Britannica.
But when was the last time you heard that “central theme of Jesus’ teaching” discussed in a church?
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Confusion About the Kingdom of God
Some people have thought that “the church on earth” is the Kingdom of God, while others have believed that the present world “will develop under Christian influence until it becomes the Kingdom.” Still others say that the Kingdom of God is the “reign of God in the heart and life of the individual.”
But is this all there is to God’s Kingdom—a religious system, gradual political change, or some spiritual condition in people’s hearts?