Jehovah’s Sovereignty and the Kingdom of God
“Yours, O Jehovah, are the greatness and the mightiness and the beauty and the excellency and the dignity . . . Yours is the kingdom, O Jehovah.”—1 CHRONICLES 29:11.
1. Why is Jehovah the rightful Sovereign of the universe?
“JEHOVAH himself has firmly established his throne in the very heavens; and over everything his own kingship has held domination.” (Psalm 103:19) With those words, the psalmist pointed to the fundamental concept of rulership. Jehovah God, being the Creator, is rightfully the Sovereign Ruler of the universe.
2. How did Daniel describe Jehovah’s spirit domain?
2 Of course, for a ruler to exercise his sovereignty, there need to be subjects. To begin with, Jehovah exercised his dominion over spirit creatures whom he brought into existence—first his only-begotten Son and then the angelic hosts. (Colossians 1:15-17) Far down the stream of time, the prophet Daniel was given a glimpse of the heavenly scene. He reported: “I kept on beholding until there were thrones placed and the Ancient of Days sat down. . . . There were a thousand thousands that kept ministering to him, and ten thousand times ten thousand that kept standing right before him.” (Daniel 7:9, 10) For aeons Jehovah, “the Ancient of Days,” presided as Sovereign over his immense and orderly family of spirit sons, who served as “ministers” doing his will.—Psalm 103:20, 21.
3. How did Jehovah’s sovereignty extend over the physical universe?
3 Eventually, Jehovah extended his rulership by bringing into existence the vast and intricate physical universe, including the earth. (Job 38:4, 7) To an observer on earth, the heavenly bodies operate with such order and precision that they seem to need no one to guide or govern them. Yet, the psalmist declared: “[Jehovah] himself commanded, and they were created. And he keeps them standing forever, to time indefinite. A regulation he has given, and it will not pass away.” (Psalm 148:5, 6) All along, Jehovah has been exercising his sovereignty in directing, regulating, and governing the operations of the spirit realm and the physical universe.—Nehemiah 9:6.
4. How does Jehovah exercise his sovereignty over humans?
4 With the creation of the first human pair, God exercised his sovereignty in yet another way. Besides providing humans with everything they needed to live a purposeful and satisfying life, Jehovah granted them dominion over the lower creatures of the earth—a delegation of authority. (Genesis 1:26-28; 2:8, 9) Thus, it is clear that not only is God’s rulership benevolent and kind but it also accords its subjects honor and dignity. As long as Adam and Eve submitted themselves to Jehovah’s sovereignty, they had the prospect of living forever in an earthly paradise home.—Genesis 2:15-17.
5. What can we say about Jehovah’s exercise of sovereignty?
5 What can we conclude from all of this? First, Jehovah has always been exercising his sovereignty over all his creation. Second, God’s rulership is benevolent and dignifying. Finally, our obeying and supporting God’s rulership will result in eternal blessings. It is no wonder that King David of ancient Israel was moved to say: “Yours, O Jehovah, are the greatness and the mightiness and the beauty and the excellency and the dignity; for everything in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Jehovah, the One also lifting yourself up as head over all.”—1 Chronicles 29:11.
Why a Kingdom of God?
6. What is the relationship between God’s sovereignty and his Kingdom?
6 Since Jehovah, the Universal Sovereign, has always been exercising his power and mightiness, why is there a need for the Kingdom of God? A sovereign generally exercises his authority through an agency that is placed over his subjects. The Kingdom of God, therefore, is an expression or exercise of God’s universal sovereignty toward his creatures, a means or an agency used by him to carry out his rulership.
7. Why did Jehovah institute a new expression of his sovereignty?
7 Jehovah has expressed his sovereignty in different ways at different times. He instituted a new expression of his sovereignty in response to a new development. This was when a renegade spirit son of God, Satan, succeeded in influencing Adam and Eve to rebel against Jehovah’s rulership. That rebellion constituted a challenge to God’s sovereignty. In what way? By telling Eve that she ‘positively would not die’ if she ate the forbidden fruit, Satan insinuated that Jehovah was untruthful, thus untrustworthy. Satan further told Eve: “God knows that in the very day of your eating from it your eyes are bound to be opened and you are bound to be like God, knowing good and bad.” Satan was suggesting that Adam and Eve could do better by ignoring God’s command and going their independent way. (Genesis 3:1-6) That was a direct challenge to the rightfulness of God’s rule. What would Jehovah do?
8, 9. (a) How would a human sovereign deal with rebellion in his realm? (b) What did Jehovah do in response to the Edenic rebellion?
8 What do we expect that a ruler would do when there was an outright rebellion in his realm? Those who are familiar with history can recall some such instances. Rather than ignoring the matter, usually a sovereign—even a benevolent ruler—would render judgment against the rebels, declaring them guilty of treason. Then the ruler might empower someone to subdue the rebel forces and restore peace. Similarly, Jehovah showed that he was in full control of the situation when he took immediate action and pronounced judgment upon the rebels. He pronounced Adam and Eve unworthy of the gift of everlasting life, and He drove them out of the garden of Eden.—Genesis 3:16-19, 22-24.
9 In pronouncing his judgment against Satan, Jehovah revealed a new expression of his sovereignty, a means by which he would restore peace and order to all his realm. To Satan, God said: “I shall put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He will bruise you in the head and you will bruise him in the heel.” (Genesis 3:15) Thus Jehovah revealed that it was his purpose to empower a “seed” to crush Satan and his forces and to prove the rightfulness of His sovereignty.—Psalm 2:7-9; 110:1, 2.
10. (a) Who did the “seed” turn out to be? (b) What did Paul say about the outworking of the first prophecy?
10 That “seed” turned out to be Jesus Christ, along with a distinct group of associate rulers. Together they form God’s Messianic Kingdom. (Daniel 7:13, 14, 27; Matthew 19:28; Luke 12:32; 22:28-30) All of this, however, was not revealed immediately. In fact, the outworking of the first prophecy remained a “sacred secret which [had] been kept in silence for long-lasting times.” (Romans 16:25) For centuries, men of faith longed for the time when “the sacred secret” would be revealed and the first prophecy fulfilled to the vindication of Jehovah’s sovereignty.—Romans 8:19-21.
“The Sacred Secret” Progressively Revealed
11. What did Jehovah make known to Abraham?
11 As time went on, Jehovah progressively made known aspects of “the sacred secret of the kingdom of God.” (Mark 4:11) Among those to whom Jehovah did so was the man Abraham, who was called “Jehovah’s friend.” (James 2:23) Jehovah promised Abraham that He would “make a great nation” out of him. Later, God further made known to Abraham: “Kings will come out of you,” and “by means of your seed all nations of the earth will certainly bless themselves.”—Genesis 12:2, 3; 17:6; 22:17, 18.
12. How did Satan’s seed manifest itself after the Flood?
12 By Abraham’s time, there had already been human attempts at rulership and domination. For example, concerning Nimrod, the great-grandson of Noah, the Bible says: “He made the start in becoming a mighty one in the earth. He displayed himself a mighty hunter in opposition to Jehovah.” (Genesis 10:8, 9) Clearly, Nimrod and other self-appointed rulers were puppets in Satan’s hands. They and their supporters became part of Satan’s seed.—1 John 5:19.
13. What did Jehovah point forward to through Jacob?
13 In spite of Satan’s efforts to produce human rulers, Jehovah’s purpose moves forward. Through Abraham’s grandson Jacob, Jehovah revealed: “The scepter will not turn aside from Judah, neither the commander’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to him the obedience of the peoples will belong.” (Genesis 49:10) The term “Shiloh” means “He Whose It Is; He to Whom It Belongs.” Thus, these prophetic words indicated that there would come one who had the legal right to receive “the scepter,” or sovereignty, and “the commander’s staff,” or rulership, over “the peoples,” or all mankind. Who would this One be?
“Until Shiloh Comes”
14. What covenant did Jehovah make with David?
14 Of the descendants of Judah, the first one to be chosen by Jehovah to be king over his people was the shepherd David, son of Jesse.* (1 Samuel 16:1-13) In spite of his sins and errors, David found favor with Jehovah because of his loyalty to Jehovah’s sovereignty. Shedding more light on the Edenic prophecy, Jehovah made a covenant with David, saying: “I shall certainly raise up your seed after you, which will come out of your inward parts; and I shall indeed firmly establish his kingdom.” That would involve more than David’s son and successor, Solomon, for the covenant stated: “I shall certainly establish the throne of his kingdom firmly to time indefinite.” That Davidic covenant made clear that the promised Kingdom “seed” would in time come through the family line of David.—2 Samuel 7:12, 13.
15. Why could the kingdom of Judah be viewed as a pattern of God’s Kingdom?
15 With David was started a dynasty of kings who were anointed with holy oil by the high priest. These kings could thus be called anointed ones, or messiahs. (1 Samuel 16:13; 2 Samuel 2:4; 5:3; 1 Kings 1:39) They were said to sit on Jehovah’s throne and rule as kings for Jehovah in Jerusalem. (2 Chronicles 9:8) In that sense, the kingdom of Judah represented God’s Kingdom, an expression of Jehovah’s sovereignty.
16. What were the results of the reign of the Judean kings?
16 When the king and the people submitted to Jehovah’s sovereignty, they enjoyed His protection and blessing. The reign of Solomon was in particular a time of peace and prosperity beyond compare, providing a prophetic glimpse of the rule of God’s Kingdom when Satan’s influence will be completely removed and Jehovah’s sovereignty vindicated. (1 Kings 4:20, 25) Sadly, most of the kings in the Davidic line failed to measure up to Jehovah’s requirements, and the people fell into idolatry and immorality. Finally, Jehovah allowed the kingdom to be destroyed by the Babylonians in 607 B.C.E. Satan appeared to have gained the upper hand in his attempt to discredit Jehovah’s sovereignty.
17. What shows that Jehovah was still in full control in spite of the overthrow of the Davidic kingdom?
17 The overthrow of the Davidic kingdom—and the earlier overthrow of the northern kingdom of Israel—furnished proof, not of any deficiency or failure of Jehovah’s sovereignty, but of the sorry consequences of Satan’s influence and man’s independence from God. (Proverbs 16:25; Jeremiah 10:23) To show that he was still exercising his sovereignty, Jehovah declared through the prophet Ezekiel: “Remove the turban, and lift off the crown. . . . A ruin, a ruin, a ruin I shall make it. As for this also, it will certainly become no one’s until he comes who has the legal right, and I must give it to him.” (Ezekiel 21:26, 27) Those words indicate that the promised “seed,” the One “who [had] the legal right,” was yet to come.
18. What proclamation did the angel Gabriel make to Mary?
18 Let us move forward to about the year 2 B.C.E. The angel Gabriel was sent to Mary, a virgin girl in Nazareth, a city of Galilee in northern Palestine. He declared: “Look! you will conceive in your womb and give birth to a son, and you are to call his name Jesus. This one will be great and will be called Son of the Most High; and Jehovah God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule as king over the house of Jacob forever, and there will be no end of his kingdom.”—Luke 1:31-33.
19. The time for what exciting events had drawn near?
19 At last, the time for revealing “the sacred secret” had drawn near. The principal One of the promised “seed” was soon to appear. (Galatians 4:4; 1 Timothy 3:16) He would be bruised in the heel by Satan. But that “seed,” in turn, will bruise Satan’s head, putting him and all his cohorts out of action. He would also bear witness that by means of the Kingdom of God, all the damage done by Satan will be undone and Jehovah’s sovereignty vindicated. (Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 3:8) How would Jesus accomplish this? What example did he leave for us to imitate? We will find the answers in the following article.
Can You Explain?
• What makes Jehovah the rightful Sovereign of the universe?
• Why did Jehovah purpose to institute the Kingdom?
• How did Jehovah progressively make known “the sacred secret”?
• What shows that Jehovah was in full control in spite of the overthrow of the Davidic kingdom?
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What did Jehovah point forward to through Abraham?
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Why is the overthrow of the Davidic kingdom no proof of any failure of Jehovah’s sovereignty?