Are You for Jehovah’s Sovereignty?
“Say among the nations: ‘Jehovah himself has become king.’”—PSALM 96:10.
1, 2. (a) What momentous event occurred about October 29 C.E.? (b) What meaning did that event have for Jesus?
A MOMENTOUS event, one that had never before been seen on earth, occurred about October 29 C.E. The Gospel writer Matthew reports: “After being baptized Jesus immediately came up from the water; and, look! the heavens were opened up, and [John the Baptizer] saw descending like a dove God’s spirit coming upon [Jesus]. Look! Also, there was a voice from the heavens that said: ‘This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved.’” This was one of the few events that was recorded by all four Gospel writers.—Matthew 3:16, 17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21, 22; John 1:32-34.
2 The visible outpouring of holy spirit upon Jesus identified him as the Anointed One, which term means Messiah, or Christ. (John 1:33) At long last, the promised “seed” had appeared! Standing before John the Baptizer was the one whose heel was to be bruised by Satan and who was to bruise the head of that archenemy of Jehovah and His sovereignty. (Genesis 3:15) From that point on, Jesus was fully aware that he must endeavor to fulfill Jehovah’s purpose regarding His sovereignty and the Kingdom.
3. How did Jesus prepare himself for the role he was to play in upholding Jehovah’s sovereignty?
3 To be prepared for the task at hand, “Jesus, full of holy spirit, turned away from the Jordan, and he was led about by the spirit in the wilderness.” (Luke 4:1; Mark 1:12) There, for 40 days Jesus had time to meditate deeply on the issue of sovereignty raised by Satan and on the course that He had to take to uphold Jehovah’s sovereignty. That issue involves all intelligent creatures—in heaven and on earth. So we do well to consider Jesus’ faithful course and see what we must do to show that we too wish to uphold Jehovah’s sovereignty.—Job 1:6-12; 2:2-6.
Issue of Sovereignty Brought to the Fore
4. What action did Satan take that brought the issue of sovereignty to the fore?
4 Of course, none of the events just mentioned escaped Satan’s notice. Wasting no time, he launched his attack on the principal “seed” of God’s “woman.” (Genesis 3:15) Satan tempted Jesus three times, proposing that Jesus should do what seemed advantageous to him instead of what his Father wanted him to do. The third temptation in particular brought the issue of sovereignty to the fore. Showing Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world and their glory,” Satan blatantly said to Jesus: “All these things I will give you if you fall down and do an act of worship to me.” Fully aware that the Devil did indeed have control over “all the kingdoms of the world,” Jesus showed where He stood on the issue of sovereignty by replying: “Go away, Satan! For it is written, ‘It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.’”—Matthew 4:8-10.
5. What challenging mission did Jesus have to fulfill?
5 Jesus’ life course demonstrated clearly that for him, upholding Jehovah’s sovereignty was the paramount objective. Jesus well knew that he must remain faithful until death at Satan’s hand—prophetically foretold as the bruising of the heel of the woman’s “seed”—in order to prove the rightfulness of God’s sovereignty. (Matthew 16:21; 17:12) He also had to bear witness to the fact that the Kingdom of God is the instrument empowered by Jehovah to subdue the rebel Satan and to restore peace and order to all creation. (Matthew 6:9, 10) What did Jesus do to fulfill this challenging mission?
“The Kingdom of God Has Drawn Near”
6. How did Jesus make known that the Kingdom is the means that God will use to “break up the works of the Devil”?
6 To begin with, “Jesus went into Galilee, preaching the good news of God and saying: ‘The appointed time has been fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has drawn near.’” (Mark 1:14, 15) In fact, he said: “I must declare the good news of the kingdom of God, because for this I was sent forth.” (Luke 4:18-21, 43) Jesus traveled the length and breadth of the land, “preaching and declaring the good news of the kingdom of God.” (Luke 8:1) Jesus also performed many powerful works—feeding the crowds, taming the elements, curing the sick, and raising the dead. By means of these miracles, Jesus proved that God can undo all the damage and suffering that resulted from the Edenic rebellion and thus “break up the works of the Devil.”—1 John 3:8.
7. What did Jesus instruct his followers to do, and with what result?
7 To have the Kingdom good news declared to the fullest extent possible, Jesus gathered a group of faithful followers and trained them in that work. First, he commissioned his 12 apostles and “sent them forth to preach the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:1, 2) Then, he sent forth 70 others to declare the message: “The kingdom of God has come near to you.” (Luke 10:1, 8, 9) When these disciples returned and reported to Jesus the success they had had in the Kingdom-preaching work, he responded: “I began to behold Satan already fallen like lightning from heaven.”—Luke 10:17, 18.
8. What did Jesus’ life course clearly demonstrate?
8 Jesus spared no effort and passed up no opportunity to bear witness to the Kingdom. He worked incessantly, laboring day and night, even forgoing the normal comforts of life. “Foxes have dens and birds of heaven have roosts, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay down his head,” he said. (Luke 9:58; Mark 6:31; John 4:31-34) Shortly before his death, Jesus boldly stated before Pontius Pilate: “For this I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth.” (John 18:37) Jesus’ entire life course demonstrated that he came, not simply to be a great teacher or a miracle worker or even just a self-sacrificing Savior, but to uphold Jehovah’s sovereign will and to bear witness to God’s ability to fulfill that will through the Kingdom.—John 14:6.
“It Has Been Accomplished!”
9. How did Satan finally succeed in bruising the heel of the “seed” of God’s woman?
9 All that Jesus did with regard to the Kingdom did not sit well with the Adversary, Satan the Devil. Repeatedly, by means of the earthly part of his “seed”—both political and religious—Satan attempted to silence the “seed” of God’s woman. From the time of his birth to the end of his earthly life, Jesus was the target of Satan and his cohorts. Finally, in the spring of 33 C.E., the time had come for the Son of man to be delivered into the hands of the Adversary to be bruised in the heel by him. (Matthew 20:18, 19; Luke 18:31-33) The Gospel accounts clearly show how people—from Judas Iscariot to the chief priests, scribes, Pharisees, and Romans—were manipulated by Satan to condemn Jesus and subject him to a painful death on a torture stake.—Acts 2:22, 23.
10. What did Jesus primarily accomplish by his death on the torture stake?
10 What comes to your mind when you think of Jesus on the torture stake suffering a slow and agonizing death? Perhaps you remember the ransom sacrifice that Jesus unselfishly gave in behalf of sinful mankind. (Matthew 20:28; John 15:13) You may marvel at the great love that Jehovah showed in providing that sacrifice. (John 3:16) Perhaps you feel as did the Roman army officer who was moved to say: “Certainly this was God’s Son.” (Matthew 27:54) All of these surely are fitting responses. On the other hand, recall that Jesus’ last words on the torture stake were: “It has been accomplished!” (John 19:30) What had been accomplished? While Jesus achieved many things by his life and death, was it not primarily for settling the issue of Jehovah’s sovereignty that Jesus came to earth? And was it not foretold that as the “seed,” he would suffer the extreme test at Satan’s hands so as to clear Jehovah’s name of all reproach? (Isaiah 53:3-7) These were weighty responsibilities, yet Jesus fulfilled them in every respect. What an accomplishment!
11. What will Jesus do to fulfill the Edenic prophecy completely?
11 For his faithfulness and loyalty, Jesus was resurrected, not as a human, but as “a life-giving spirit.” (1 Corinthians 15:45; 1 Peter 3:18) Jehovah’s promise to his glorified Son was: “Sit at my right hand until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet.” (Psalm 110:1) The “enemies” include the chief culprit, Satan, and all those making up his “seed.” As King of Jehovah’s Messianic Kingdom, Jesus Christ will take the lead in bringing all rebels to nothing, in heaven and on earth. (Revelation 12:7-9; 19:11-16; 20:1-3, 10) Then will come the complete fulfillment of the prophecy at Genesis 3:15 as well as of the prayer that Jesus taught his followers: “Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.”—Matthew 6:10; Philippians 2:8-11.
A Model to Follow
12, 13. (a) What response to the Kingdom good news is seen today? (b) What must we consider in following Christ’s steps?
12 Today, the good news of the Kingdom is being preached in many lands, as Jesus prophesied it would be. (Matthew 24:14) As a result, millions of people have dedicated their life to God. They are excited about the blessings that the Kingdom will bring. They look forward to living forever in peace and security on a paradise earth, and they joyfully tell others about their hope. (Psalm 37:11; 2 Peter 3:13) Are you one of these Kingdom proclaimers? If so, you are to be commended. There is, however, something else that each one of us must consider.
13 The apostle Peter wrote: “Christ suffered for you, leaving you a model for you to follow his steps closely.” (1 Peter 2:21) Note that in this instance, Peter mentioned, not Jesus’ zeal in preaching or his skill in teaching, but his suffering. As an eyewitness, Peter was well-aware of the extent to which Jesus was willing to suffer in order to submit to Jehovah’s sovereignty and prove Satan to be the liar that he is. In what ways, then, can we follow Jesus’ steps? We must ask ourselves: ‘To what extent am I willing to suffer in order to support and honor Jehovah’s sovereignty? Do I show by the way I live my life and carry out my ministry that upholding Jehovah’s sovereignty is my foremost concern?’—Colossians 3:17.
14, 15. (a) How did Jesus react to misguided suggestions and offers, and why? (b) What issue must we always bear in mind? (Include comments on the box “Stand on Jehovah’s Side.”)
14 Every day, we are confronted with trials and decisions, large and small. What should be the determining factor in our response? For example, when we are face-to-face with temptation to do something that would jeopardize our Christian standing, how do we react? When Peter told Jesus to be kind to himself, what was Jesus’ reaction? “Get behind me, Satan!” Jesus exclaimed. “You think, not God’s thoughts, but those of men.” (Matthew 16:21-23) Or when we are offered opportunities for financial or career advancement at the cost of our spiritual welfare, do we react as Jesus did? When Jesus sensed that those who saw his miracles “were about to come and seize him to make him king,” he quickly withdrew from them.—John 6:15.
15 Why did Jesus react so strongly on these and other occasions? Because he saw clearly that more than his personal safety or advantage was involved. He wanted to do his Father’s will and uphold Jehovah’s sovereignty at all costs. (Matthew 26:50-54) Thus, if we do not have the real issue clearly in mind at all times, as Jesus did, there is always the danger of compromise or failure. Why so? Because we can easily fall prey to the machinations of Satan, who is a master in making what is wrong appear desirable, as he did when tempting Eve.—2 Corinthians 11:14; 1 Timothy 2:14.
16. What should ultimately be our goal in helping others?
16 In our ministry, we endeavor to speak to people regarding their concerns and to show them the Bible’s answers. This is an effective way to arouse their interest in studying the Bible. Ultimately, however, our goal is not just to help people to know what the Bible says or what blessings God’s Kingdom will bring. We must help them to come to grips with the real issue. Are they willing to become true Christians and pick up their “torture stake” and suffer for the sake of the Kingdom? (Mark 8:34) Are they ready to join the ranks of those who are for Jehovah’s sovereignty and thus prove Satan a liar and a slanderer? (Proverbs 27:11) It is our privilege to help ourselves and others to do so.—1 Timothy 4:16.
When God Becomes “All Things to Everyone”
17, 18. What glorious time can we look forward to if we show that we are for Jehovah’s sovereignty?
17 As we do our utmost now to show by our conduct and our ministry that we are for Jehovah’s sovereignty, we can look forward to the time when Jesus Christ “hands over the kingdom to his God and Father.” When will that be? The apostle Paul explains: “When he has brought to nothing all government and all authority and power. For he must rule as king until God has put all enemies under his feet. . . . Then the Son himself will also subject himself to the One who subjected all things to him, that God may be all things to everyone.”—1 Corinthians 15:24, 25, 28.
18 When God becomes “all things to everyone”—what a glorious time that will be! The Kingdom will have accomplished its mission. All opposers of Jehovah’s sovereignty will have been eliminated. Peace and order will have been restored throughout the universe. In the words of the psalmist, all creation will sing: “Ascribe to Jehovah the glory belonging to his name . . . Say among the nations: ‘Jehovah himself has become king.’”—Psalm 96:8, 10.
Can You Answer?
• How did Jesus keep the issue of God’s sovereignty to the fore?
• What did Jesus primarily accomplish by his ministry and his death?
• In what ways can we follow Jesus’ example in showing that we are for Jehovah’s sovereignty?
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STAND ON JEHOVAH’S SIDE
As many brothers in Korea and elsewhere know, when Christians are face-to-face with severe trials, it is helpful to have clearly in mind the reason why such trials come upon them.
“What helped us to endure,” said one of Jehovah’s Witnesses who was imprisoned during the former Soviet regime, “was a clear understanding of the issue raised in the garden of Eden—the issue of God’s right to rule. . . . We knew that we had an opportunity to take a stand for Jehovah’s rulership. . . . This made us strong and enabled us to keep our integrity.”
Another Witness explained what helped him and fellow Witnesses in a labor camp. “Jehovah supported us,” he said. “Despite the difficult conditions, we were spiritually awake. We always cheered one another up with the positive thought that we had taken our stand on Jehovah’s side on the issue of universal sovereignty.”
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How did Jesus uphold Jehovah’s sovereignty when tempted by Satan?
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What was accomplished by Jesus’ death?