“To the King of eternity . . . be honor and glory forever.”—1 TIM. 1:17.
1, 2. (a) Who is “the King of eternity,” and why is that title appropriate? (See opening image.) (b) What is it about Jehovah’s kingship that draws us to him?
KING SOBHUZA II of Swaziland ruled for nearly 61 years. That was quite a record for a modern-day monarch. As impressive as the length of King Sobhuza’s rule may be, there is a king whose reign is not limited by the short life span of humans. In fact, the Bible refers to him as “the King of eternity.” (1 Tim. 1:17) A psalmist identified this Sovereign by name, proclaiming: “Jehovah is King forever and ever.”—Ps. 10:16.
2 The length of God’s reign makes his rule unlike that of any human. However, it is Jehovah’s way of ruling that draws us to him. A king who ruled over ancient Israel for 40 years praised God with these words: “Jehovah is merciful and compassionate, slow to anger and abundant in loyal love. Jehovah has firmly established his throne in the heavens; and his kingship rules over everything.” (Ps. 103:8, 19) Not only is Jehovah our King but he is also our Father—our loving, heavenly Father. This raises two questions: In what way has Jehovah acted as a Father? How has Jehovah exercised his kingship since the rebellion in Eden? The answers to these questions will move us to draw closer to Jehovah and worship him with all our heart.
THE KING OF ETERNITY PRODUCES A UNIVERSAL FAMILY
3. Who was the first member of Jehovah’s universal family, and who else were created as God’s “sons”?
3 What pleasure Jehovah must have had when he brought forth his only-begotten Son! God did not treat his firstborn as a lowly subject. Rather, he loved him as a Son and invited him to share in the joy of creating other perfect subjects. (Col. 1:15-17) These came to include myriads of angels. Described as “his ministers who do his will,” the angels serve God with joy, and he dignifies them by calling them his “sons.” They are part of Jehovah’s universal family.—Ps. 103:20-22; Job 38:7.
4. How did God’s universal family come to include humans?
4 Once he had created the physical heavens and earth, Jehovah expanded his universal family. After preparing the earth as a beautiful, self-sustaining home, Jehovah put the crowning touch on his earthly works by creating the first man, Adam, in His own image. (Gen. 1:26-28) As Creator, Jehovah could rightly expect Adam to be obedient. As Father, Jehovah conveyed all of his instructions with love and kindness. In no way did those directives unduly restrict man’s freedom.—Read Genesis 2:15-17.
5. What arrangement did God make to fill the earth with his human children?
5 Unlike many human monarchs, Jehovah is pleased to delegate responsibility to his subjects, treating them as trusted members of his family. For example, he gave Adam authority over other living creatures, even assigning him the enjoyable and challenging task of naming the animals. (Gen. 1:26; 2:19, 20) God did not create millions of individual perfect humans to populate the earth. Rather, he chose to create a perfect complement for Adam—the woman Eve. (Gen. 2:21, 22) Then he gave this couple the opportunity to fill the earth with their children. Under flawless conditions, humans could progressively extend the boundaries of Paradise until it covered the globe. United with the angels in heaven, they could worship Jehovah forever as part of his universal family. What a wonderful prospect! And what an expression of Jehovah’s fatherly love!
REBELLIOUS SONS REJECT GOD’S KINGSHIP
6. (a) In what way did rebellion in God’s family begin? (b) Why did rebellion not mean that Jehovah had lost control?
6 Sadly, Adam and Eve were not content to have Jehovah as their Sovereign. Instead, they chose to follow a rebellious spirit son of God, Satan. (Gen. 3:1-6) Life apart from God’s rule brought pain, suffering, and death to them and their offspring. (Gen. 3:16-19; Rom. 5:12) God no longer had obedient subjects on the earth. Did this mean that he had lost control, that he had relinquished sovereignty over the earth and its inhabitants? Absolutely not! He exercised his authority by driving the man and woman out of the garden of Eden, and to prevent their return, he assigned cherubs to stand guard at the entrance. (Gen. 3:23, 24) At the same time, God showed his fatherly love by confirming that his purpose to have a universal family of devoted spirit sons as well as human sons would be accomplished. He promised an “offspring” who would bring an end to Satan and undo the effects of Adam’s sin.—Read Genesis 3:15.
7, 8. (a) How bad had conditions become by the time of Noah? (b) What arrangements did Jehovah make to cleanse the earth and to preserve the human family?
7 In the centuries that followed, some men chose to be loyal to Jehovah. Among them were Abel and Enoch. However, the majority of humans rejected Jehovah as their Father and King. By the time of Noah, the earth had become “filled with violence.” (Gen. 6:11) Did this mean that Jehovah no longer had control of earth’s affairs? What does the historical record reveal?
8 Consider the account of Noah. Jehovah gave him detailed architectural plans and instructions to build a massive ark that would save Noah and his immediate family. God also showed great love for his entire human family when he commissioned Noah to be “a preacher of righteousness.” (2 Pet. 2:5) Noah’s message no doubt included a call for repentance and warnings of impending destruction, but it fell on deaf ears. For decades, Noah and his family lived amid a violent and grossly immoral world. Jehovah, as a caring Father, protected and blessed those eight loyal souls. By bringing a global Flood, Jehovah exercised dominion over the rebellious humans and wicked angels. Yes, Jehovah was definitely in control.—Gen. 7:17-24.
JEHOVAH’S KINGSHIP AFTER THE FLOOD
9. What opportunity did Jehovah give mankind after the Flood?
9 As Noah and his family took their first steps on the cleansed earth and inhaled the fresh air, their hearts were certainly filled with gratitude to Jehovah for his care and protection. Immediately, Noah built an altar and offered sacrifices to worship Jehovah. God blessed Noah and his family and gave them instructions to “be fruitful and become many and fill the earth.” (Gen. 8:20–9:1) Once again, mankind had the opportunity to unite in worship and to fill the earth.
10. (a) Where and how did rebellion against Jehovah flare up after the Flood? (b) What action did Jehovah take to ensure that his will was done?
10 The Flood, however, did not wash away imperfection, and humans still had to cope with the invisible influence of Satan and the rebellious angels. It was not long before rebellion against Jehovah’s benevolent rule again flared up. For example, Noah’s great-grandson Nimrod took opposition to Jehovah’s rule to new heights. Nimrod is described as being “a mighty hunter in opposition to Jehovah.” He built great cities, such as Babel, and set himself up as a king “in the land of Shinar.” (Gen. 10:8-12) What action would the King of eternity take toward this rebel king and his efforts to thwart God’s purpose to “fill the earth”? God confused the people’s language, causing Nimrod’s frustrated subjects to be scattered “over the entire face of the earth.” They took their false worship and pattern of human rulership with them.—Gen. 11:1-9.
11. How did Jehovah show loyalty to his friend Abraham?
11 Even though many worshipped false gods after the Flood, some faithful men continued to honor Jehovah. One was Abraham, who obediently left the comforts of his home city of Ur and dwelled in tents for years. (Gen. 11:31; Heb. 11:8, 9) During the time of Abraham’s nomadic life, he was often surrounded by human kings, many of whom lived in walled cities. But Jehovah safeguarded Abraham and his family. Regarding Jehovah’s fatherly protection, the psalmist declared: “[God] did not allow any man to oppress them, but on their account he reproved kings.” (Ps. 105:13, 14) Out of loyalty to his friend, Jehovah promised Abraham: “Kings will come from you.”—Gen. 17:6; Jas. 2:23.
12. How did Jehovah express his sovereignty over Egypt, and how did this affect his chosen people?
12 God repeated to Abraham’s son Isaac and grandson Jacob his promise to bless them, which would include producing kings from their descendants. (Gen. 26:3-5; 35:11) However, prior to producing kings, Jacob’s descendants became slaves in Egypt. Did this mean that Jehovah would not fulfill his promise or that he had relinquished his sovereignty over the earth? Not at all! In his due time, Jehovah demonstrated his divine power and expressed his sovereignty over stubborn Pharaoh. The enslaved Israelites put their faith in Jehovah, who delivered them in a grand way through the Red Sea. Obviously, Jehovah was still the Universal Sovereign, and as a caring Father, he used his great power to protect his people.—Read Exodus 14:13, 14.
JEHOVAH BECOMES KING TO ISRAEL
13, 14. (a) In song, what did the Israelites proclaim about Jehovah’s kingship? (b) What promise regarding kingship did God make to David?
13 Immediately following their miraculous deliverance from Egypt, the Israelites sang a victory song of praise to Jehovah. That song, recorded in Exodus chapter 15, includes this declaration in verse 18: “Jehovah will rule as king forever and ever.” Indeed, Jehovah became King over the new nation. (Deut. 33:5) However, the people were not content to have Jehovah as their invisible Ruler. About 400 years after leaving Egypt, they asked God to set up a human king, such as their pagan neighbors had. (1 Sam. 8:5) In spite of this, Jehovah was still King, a fact that was manifest during the reign of David, Israel’s second human king.
14 David brought the sacred ark of the covenant to Jerusalem. During this joyous occasion, the Levites sang a song of praise that contained a noteworthy statement, recorded at 1 Chronicles 16:31: “Declare among the nations: ‘Jehovah has become King!’” One might wonder, ‘Since Jehovah is the King of eternity, how is it that he became King at that time?’ Jehovah becomes King when he expresses his rulership or establishes an agency to represent him at a certain time or to deal with a specific situation. This aspect of Jehovah’s kingship has far-reaching significance. Before David died, Jehovah promised him that his kingship would continue indefinitely: “I will raise up your offspring after you, your own son, and I will firmly establish his kingdom.” (2 Sam. 7:12, 13) In the final outworking of matters, this “offspring” of David appeared more than 1,000 years later. Whom did this prove to be, and when would he become King?
JEHOVAH APPOINTS A NEW KING
15, 16. When was Jesus anointed as the future King, and while on earth, what arrangements did Jesus make for his rule?
15 In the year 29 C.E., John the Baptizer began preaching that “the Kingdom of the heavens [had] drawn near.” (Matt. 3:2) When Jesus was baptized by John, Jehovah anointed Jesus as the promised Messiah and the future King of God’s Kingdom. Jehovah expressed fatherly affection for Jesus with the words: “This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved.”—Matt. 3:17.
16 Throughout his ministry, Jesus glorified his Father. (John 17:4) He did this by preaching about the Kingdom of God. (Luke 4:43) He even taught his followers to pray for that Kingdom to come. (Matt. 6:10) As King-Designate, Jesus could declare to his opposers: “The Kingdom of God is in your midst.” (Luke 17:21) Later, on the evening before his death, Jesus concluded ‘a covenant for a kingdom’ with his followers. He thereby gave some of his faithful disciples the prospect of joining him as kings in God’s Kingdom.—Read Luke 22:28-30.
17. In what limited way did Jesus begin to exercise his kingship in the first century, but for what would he have to wait?
17 When would Jesus begin to rule as King of God’s Kingdom? He could not do so immediately. The very next afternoon, Jesus was executed and his followers scattered. (John 16:32) However, as in times past, Jehovah remained in control. On the third day, he resurrected his Son, and on the day of Pentecost 33 C.E., Jesus established a spiritual kingdom over the Christian congregation of his anointed brothers. (Col. 1:13) Still, Jesus would have to wait to take up full kingly power over the earth as the promised “offspring.” Jehovah told his Son: “Sit at my right hand until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet.”—Ps. 110:1.
WORSHIP THE KING OF ETERNITY
18, 19. What are we moved to do, and what will we learn in the next article?
18 For millenniums Jehovah’s kingship was challenged in heaven and on earth. Jehovah never relinquished his sovereignty; he remained in control. As a loving Father, he protected and cared for such loyal subjects as Noah, Abraham, and David. Does this not move us to submit to our King and to draw closer to him?
19 But now we may ask: How has Jehovah become King in our day? How can we prove to be loyal subjects of Jehovah’s Kingdom and become perfect sons in his universal family? What does it mean when we pray for God’s Kingdom to come? These questions will be answered in the next article.