Be Thankful—Jehovah’s Messianic Kingdom Rules
“We thank you, Jehovah God, the Almighty, . . . because you have taken your great power and begun ruling as king.”—REVELATION 11:17.
1. What did the president of the Watch Tower Society state after his tour of Europe in 1911?
EARLY in 1911, the president of the Watch Tower Society, C. T. Russell, gave a series of Bible lectures in major cities of Europe. Commenting on that tour, Russell wrote the following in The Watch Tower, May 15, 1911: “We were surprised to find so many evidences of prosperity everywhere . . . Our readers know that for some years we have been expecting this Age to close with an awful time of trouble, and we expect it to break out with suddenness and force not long after October, 1914, which, so far as we can understand the Scriptures, is the date at which the Times of the Gentiles—the lease of earth’s dominions to the Gentiles—will expire; the time, therefore, when Messiah’s kingdom will be due to begin its exercise of power.” Was this expectation fulfilled?
2. How was peace shattered in 1914, and with what sad consequences?
2 During the first half of 1914, the world seemed secure and safe from war. But peace was suddenly shattered with the assassination of the heir to the Austrian throne by a Serb on June 28, 1914. Austria-Hungary soon declared war against Serbia. Russia took sides with Serbia, so Germany declared war against Russia on August 1. Then Germany declared war against France on August 3; Great Britain against Germany on August 4; Montenegro against Austria-Hungary on August 7; Japan against Germany on August 23; Austria-Hungary against Belgium on August 28. Many believed that the war would soon be over. Instead, it escalated into the worst war of history up till that time, with 19 more countries taking sides in an international bloodbath that cost over 13,000,000 military and civilian lives, with over 21,000,000 maimed and wounded.
3, 4. What happened at the Society’s headquarters on Friday morning, October 2, 1914?
3 On Friday morning, October 2, 1914, Russell announced to the headquarters staff of the Watch Tower Society in Brooklyn, New York: “The Gentile times have ended; their kings have had their day.” This was greeted with enthusiastic applause by the family at Bethel, “the house of God.”
4 What justification did C. T. Russell and his associates have for being so joyful on that October morning? Where does the expression “Gentile Times” originate? What evidence is there that the Gentile Times ended in October 1914? And how should that affect you?
Jerusalem and the Gentile Times
5. Where does the expression “Gentile Times” originate?
5 The expression “Gentile Times,” or “appointed times of the nations,” comes from Jesus’ great prophecy concerning the destruction of Jerusalem. (Luke 21:5-36, King James Version) Two days prior to giving it, Jesus presented himself to the inhabitants of Jerusalem as their Messiah. While he humbly rode upon an ass toward the city, crowds of Jews shouted in triumph, just as Zechariah 9:9 foretold. “Blessed is the One coming as the King in Jehovah’s name,” they cried aloud.—Luke 19:28-40.
6, 7. What terrible bloodguilt did first-century Judeans bring upon themselves, and with what consequences?
6 But Jesus knew that public opinion would soon be swayed against him because of the murderous hatred by Jerusalem’s religious leaders under the influence of their father, the Devil. (Genesis 3:15; John 8:44) Shortly thereafter, on Nisan 14, a crowd of Jews clamored for Jesus’ death. “His blood come upon us and upon our children,” they cried to the reluctant Roman governor. (Matthew 27:24, 25) Instead of accepting Jesus as Messianic King, the chief priests declared: “We have no king but Caesar.” (John 19:15) The true Messiah was then nailed to a torture stake to die, having been falsely charged as a seditionist against Rome and a blasphemer against the God of the Jews.—Mark 14:61-64; Luke 23:2; John 18:36; 19:7.
7 Divine wrath was certain to come upon the inhabitants of Judea because of their terrible bloodguilt. Jerusalem, with its magnificent temple, could no longer be called “the city of the great King,” Jehovah. (Matthew 5:35; Luke 13:33-35) Some days before Jesus’ death, his disciples spoke admiringly of that city’s temple buildings. In response, Jesus predicted: “As for these things that you are beholding, the days will come in which not a stone upon a stone will be left here and not be thrown down.”—Luke 21:5, 6.
8. When Jesus gave “the sign” of events leading up to Jerusalem’s destruction, what else was involved?
8 Jesus’ disciples asked in surprise: “Teacher, when will these things actually be, and what will be the sign when these things are destined to occur?” (Luke 21:7) In reply Jesus accurately predicted the events that led up to Jerusalem’s destruction, and he added this significant phrase: “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” (Luke 21:8-24, KJ) Jesus thus pointed ahead to something beyond Jerusalem’s destruction—something that had to wait “until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” With reference to “the sign,” Jesus said: “When you see these things occurring, know that the kingdom of God is near.” (Luke 21:31) Therefore, the sign was to have a dual fulfillment. The first, or small-scale, fulfillment would indicate that ‘the desolating of Jerusalem had drawn near.’ (Luke 21:20) The second, and larger, fulfillment would come when the Gentile Times had ended, and it would indicate that “the kingdom of God is near.”—Compare Matthew 24:3.
Earthly Jerusalem Replaced by a Superior City
9. When did earthly Jerusalem lose its favored status, and by what has it been replaced?
9 By saying “Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations, until the appointed times of the nations are fulfilled,” was Jesus suggesting that the earthly city would eventually be restored to divine favor? No. After the murder of God’s beloved Son, earthly Jerusalem lost its special status forever and has been replaced by a far superior “city of the living God, heavenly Jerusalem.”—Hebrews 12:22; Matthew 23:37, 38; 27:50, 51.
10. What is meant by the expression “heavenly Jerusalem”?
10 The expression “heavenly Jerusalem” is used in the Bible to describe the indestructible heavenly Kingdom to which anointed Christians have been called.a (Hebrews 11:10; 12:22, 28) When the apostle Paul wrote this, the earthly city with its temple was still very much admired by Jews. Thus, Paul reminded Hebrew Christians that “we do not have here a city that continues, but we are earnestly seeking the one to come.”—Hebrews 13:14.
Why Called Heavenly Jerusalem
11. Until earthly Jerusalem lost Jehovah’s favor, what did it represent?
11 Jerusalem was long the capital of the nation of Israel, whose kings were said to “sit upon Jehovah’s throne.” (1 Chronicles 29:23) Also, Jehovah made a covenant with David that the kingship would remain in his family forever. Just as modern-day capitals, such as Washington, Moscow, Canberra, and Pretoria, are used to identify their respective governments, so Jerusalem is used in the Bible to represent the Davidic kingdom.—2 Samuel 7:16; Luke 1:32.
12. How is the term “Gentile Times” to be applied?
12 David’s kingdom had a limited domain, extending only to the God-defined boundaries of ancient Israel. Earthly Jerusalem was therefore only a type of the real Messianic Kingdom that would rule from heaven and have the whole earth as its domain. (Psalm 2:2, 7, 8; Daniel 7:13, 14; 2 Timothy 4:18) Thus, the book The Time Is At Hand, published by the Watch Tower Society in 1889, clearly stated: “The term ‘Times of the Gentiles’ was applied by our Lord to that interval of earth’s history between the removal of the typical Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Israel (Ezek. 21:25-27), and the introduction and establishment of its antitype, the true Kingdom of God.”
Gentile Times—How Long?
13. When did the Gentile Times begin, and why do you so answer?
13 The typical kingdom of God was overthrown by Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar in 607 B.C.E. By the seventh Jewish month, about the middle of October, the land lay desolate.b (2 Kings 25:8, 9, 22, 25, 26) In proof that this happened by divine permission, Jehovah God gave Nebuchadnezzar a dream. It involved a tree that was chopped down and allowed to grow again after a period of “seven times.” The dream had an initial fulfillment when Nebuchadnezzar was restored to his throne after a temporary state of madness.—Daniel 4:10-17, 28-36.
14. What was the main point of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream?
14 However, the theme of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream showed that its main fulfillment involved God’s typical kingdom, which that Gentile king had been permitted to ‘chop down.’ The dream concluded with this statement of purpose: “That people living may know that the Most High is Ruler in the kingdom of mankind and that to the one whom he wants to, he gives it and he sets up over it even the lowliest one of mankind.”—Daniel 4:17.
15. How did Jesus Christ qualify as “the lowliest one of mankind”? (Matthew 11:29)
15 Only one person came to be qualified in all respects to be called “the lowliest one of mankind.” The only-begotten Son of God proved himself to be such by willingly leaving his heavenly glory to be born as a human, as Jesus, who suffered the most humiliating and cruel death at Satan’s hand. (Philippians 2:3, 5-11) After his resurrection back to heavenly glory, Jesus had to wait until the period of seven times of Gentile rule ended before being enthroned as the Messianic King over mankind.—Hebrews 10:12, 13.
16. How does the book of Revelation help Christians to calculate when the seven times ended?
16 But how did Jehovah’s Witnesses come to understand the length of the seven times? The Bible reveals that “a time and times and half a time,” or three and a half times, equals 1,260 days. (Revelation 12:6, 14) Therefore, double that number, or seven times, would amount to 2,520 days. On the basis of the prophetic guide of “a day for a year,” the seven times would equal 2,520 years. (Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:6) By this calculation, the Gentile Times, which started in October 607 B.C.E., ended 2,520 years later in October 1914.
17. What happy announcement was due to be made known in 1914?
17 In October 1914, Jehovah God set his beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, on the throne in the heavenly Kingdom. At last, the Revelation vision of the Christian apostle John started to become a reality, and the announcement could be made: “The kingdom of the world did become the kingdom of our Lord [Jehovah] and of his Christ, and he [Jehovah] will rule as king forever and ever.” (Revelation 1:10; 4:1; 11:15) What glorious news this is and what reason for the greatest happiness on the part of all joint heirs and subjects of that Kingdom!—Revelation 11:17.
18. Why have sorrowful conditions afflicted mankind since 1914?
18 True, for most of mankind, there has not been much happiness on earth since 1914. But the woeful conditions on earth are proof that Satan’s rule is about to end. How do we know this? The book of Revelation indicated that the establishment of God’s Kingdom would result in a war in heaven. Satan and his demons were to be cast out of heaven and limited to the vicinity of our earth. After seeing this victory in a prophetic vision, John heard a loud voice say: “Be glad, you heavens and you who reside in them! 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 12:1-12.
19. Why are true Christians so grateful to be alive at this time?
19 Worsening world conditions since 1914 are proof that John’s vision has become a reality and that the end of all humans who refuse to submit to God’s sovereignty is drawing perilously near. (Luke 21:10, 11, 25-32) How thrilling it is to be alive at this wonderful time when Jehovah God, the Almighty, will settle the great issue of his sovereignty over the earth! Then, earth will be transformed into a beautiful paradise, and righteous human survivors will be uplifted to perfection. Even the dead will be raised and given the opportunity to qualify for everlasting life.—Revelation 20:1-3, 12, 13; 21:3-5.
A Modern Need for Adjustment
20. (a) On earth, who proved to be Jehovah’s true servants before 1914? (b) What adjustments were faithful anointed Christians willing to make?
20 For 38 years prior to 1914, the Bible Students, as Jehovah’s Witnesses were then called, pointed to that date as the year when the Gentile Times would end.c What outstanding proof that is that they were true servants of Jehovah! Yet, like first-century servants of God, they also had some wrong expectations. For example, they expected that the full number of anointed Christians would be raised to heaven by October 1914. They also thought that the war that started in 1914 would lead directly on to the end of Satan’s world.
21. What discipline did true Christians experience during World War I?
21 In time, though, anointed Christians realized that there was much work for them to do on earth. Because of their persistence in public witnessing during World War I, they experienced vicious persecution from the political authorities, urged on by Christendom’s clergy. (Psalm 2:1-6) The activity of true Christians was dealt a severe blow on June 21, 1918, when leading officials of the Watch Tower Society in the United States were sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment under false charges.
22, 23. (a) What have faithful anointed Christians done since 1919, and with what twofold response? (b) What is antitypical unfaithful Jerusalem?
22 World War I came to a sudden end in November 1918. Then, on March 25, 1919, the officials of the Watch Tower Society were released from prison. They were later fully exonerated. An unexpected period of peace opened up for those faithful anointed Christians, similar to the opportunities that presented themselves to Christ’s early disciples after they were empowered by holy spirit in 33 C.E.—Acts 2:17-21, 41.
23 Ever since 1919, faithful anointed Christians as a group have zealously obeyed the command involved in Jesus’ words at Matthew 24:14: “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.” As a result, nearly four million of Christ’s “other sheep” have devoted their lives to serving Jehovah in unity with the anointed remnant. (John 10:16) Christendom, under the influence of its clergy, continues to reject the Kingdom message. Its preference for human political schemes and its persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses parallel the shocking treatment of Christ by the first-century inhabitants of Judea. Just as Jehovah executed his judgment upon Jerusalem, so he will do to antitypical unfaithful Jerusalem, namely, Christendom. And as the generation that heard Christ’s judgment message lived to experience the destruction he foretold, so the present generation since 1914 “will by no means pass away” before the foretold “great tribulation” comes.—Matthew 24:21, 22, 34.
24. To survive into God’s new world, what must we do?
24 What must we do to survive the great tribulation and live on into God’s new world? Regardless of wrong expectations any of us may have had, we must guard against falling asleep as to our Christian duties. (Habakkuk 2:3; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6) Those able to recall events from 1914 are becoming ever fewer. Thus, we need to be alert; there is no time to lose. (Matthew 24:42) All who want to survive the end of Satan’s wicked world must act now in a way that shows agreement with the inspired words: “We thank you, Jehovah God, the Almighty, . . . because you have taken your great power and begun ruling as king.”—Revelation 11:17.
b For more information as to why this marks the start of the Gentile Times, see “Let Your Kingdom Come,” chapter 14, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
c C. T. Russell wrote an article entitled “Gentile Times: When Do They End?,” which was published in the magazine Bible Examiner, October 1876. On page 27, the article said: “The seven times will end in A.D. 1914.”
How Would You Answer?
◻ What did ancient Jerusalem represent, but how did it lose its honored status?
◻ When did the Gentile Times begin and end, and with what foretold result?
◻ What did the destruction of unfaithful Jerusalem prefigure?
◻ How do we know that the great tribulation is close, and what must we do to survive it?
[Picture on page 16]
Jerusalem and its temple lost their honored status, but God continued to bless his Son, the Messiah, even speaking to him directly from heaven