15. For major beneficial world changes to take place, what is one vital thing that must happen?
15 However, for those changes to take place would require an enormous reversal of the state of affairs that now exists. For one thing, it would have to mean the removal of all present rulerships of the earth, since human rule has never brought about desirable conditions. But such earthshaking changes are well within the ability of Jehovah. For example, the Bible states: “He is changing times and seasons, removing kings and setting up kings.”—Daniel 2:21.
16, 17. (a) How did Jehovah deal with the Pharaoh who opposed His purpose? (b) How was Jehovah’s prophetic word confirmed?
16 Consider what Jehovah has done to powerful rulers and dynasties in the past, especially to those who have tried to interfere with his purposes. They have been broken and scattered to the winds like mere dust, as have their empires. For instance, there was the Pharaoh of Egypt who had enslaved God’s people. But Jehovah had a purpose for his servants, and he sent Moses to tell Pharaoh to free them. Instead, Pharaoh arrogantly declared: “Who is Jehovah, so that I should obey his voice?” He added: “I do not know Jehovah at all and, what is more, I am not going to send Israel away.”—Exodus 5:2.
17 Jehovah gave Pharaoh many opportunities to change his mind. Yet, time after time, as Exodus 11:10 says, Pharaoh ‘became obstinate.’ However, Jehovah has irresistible power. When his appointed time came, he drowned Pharaoh and his armies in the Red Sea. Exodus 14:28 says: “Not so much as one among them was let remain.” On the other hand, Jehovah’s servants were protected and freed. This, moreover, came at the exact time that Jehovah’s prophetic word had foretold, at the end of a 400-year period he had spoken about to faithful Abraham centuries before.
18. What did Jehovah do with Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon? Why?
18 Then there was King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. He got to boasting about his power and accomplishments, as though he were a god. But Daniel 4:31 says that “while the word was yet in the king’s mouth, there was a voice that fell from the heavens: ‘To you it is being said, O Nebuchadnezzar the king, “The kingdom itself has gone away from you.”’” Jehovah told him that he would be brought low like a beast of the field until, as verse 32 of Dan 4 says, he would know “that the Most High is Ruler in the kingdom of mankind, and that to the one whom he wants to he gives it.” That is just what happened at the exact time that Jehovah had purposed for it.
19. Why did Jehovah’s adverse judgment come against Babylon and its ruler, Belshazzar?
19 The last king to rule in Babylon was Belshazzar. It was then Jehovah’s time for that monstrous empire to fall. Why? Because the Babylonians held Jehovah’s people captive and blasphemed Jehovah. Daniel chapter 5 relates that Belshazzar made a big feast for a thousand of his officials. Then Belshazzar “said to bring in the vessels of gold and of silver that Nebuchadnezzar his father had taken away from [Jehovah’s] temple that was in Jerusalem, . . . and from them the king and his grandees, his concubines and his secondary wives drank.” (Daniel 5:2, 3) Note what they did next: “They drank wine, and they praised the gods of gold and of silver, copper, iron, wood and stone.” (Daniel 5:4) By drinking from the sacred utensils that had been used in Jehovah’s worship, they mocked and blasphemed Jehovah. By worshiping their false gods, they worshiped Satan.
20, 21. What message did Daniel deliver to Belshazzar, and how was it fulfilled?
20 However, at that moment a startling thing happened. The fingers of a hand were seen writing on the wall of the palace! It shocked the king so much that “his very complexion was changed in him, and his own thoughts began to frighten him, and his hip joints were loosening and his very knees were knocking each other.” (Daniel 5:6) None of Belshazzar’s religious advisers could understand the handwriting, so Jehovah’s servant Daniel was called in to interpret it. Daniel informed the king that the message was from Jehovah, and it was this: “God has numbered the days of your kingdom and has finished it. . . . You have been weighed in the balances and have been found deficient. . . . Your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and the Persians.”—Daniel 5:26-28.
21 That very night, Medo-Persian armies invaded the city through gates carelessly left open. As Daniel 5:30 concludes: “In that very night Belshazzar . . . was killed.” Babylon’s fall allowed for Jehovah’s people to return to their homeland exactly 70 years from the start of their captivity. That was precisely according to Jehovah’s timetable, as revealed at Jeremiah 29:10.
22, 23. How did Jehovah deal with King Herod Agrippa I, who opposed Christians in the first century?
22 In the first century, King Herod Agrippa I was the last ruler of Palestine, part of the Roman Empire. Herod had the apostle Peter imprisoned, and he persecuted other Christians. He even had the apostle James killed. (Acts 12:1, 2) Herod also arranged murderous gladiatorial combats and other pagan shows. All of this gave the lie to his claim that he was a worshiper of God.
23 But, then, Jehovah’s due time came for executing this opposer. Acts 12:21 to 23 tells us: “On a set day Herod clothed himself with royal raiment and sat down upon the judgment seat and began giving them a public address. In turn the assembled people began shouting: ‘A god’s voice, and not a man’s!’” What happened next? The Bible says: “Instantly the angel of Jehovah struck him, because he did not give the glory to God; and he became eaten up with worms and expired.” Here was another example of Jehovah’s “removing kings,” as Daniel 2:21 had stated.
What Jehovah’s Times and Seasons Mean for Our Day
“Every tree not producing fine fruit gets cut down and thrown into the fire.”—MATTHEW 7:19.
1. What can we learn from the way that Jehovah dealt with some rulers in the past?
THE record of history testifies to the fact that Jehovah can change “times and seasons, removing kings and setting up kings.” (Daniel 2:21) In previous centuries, when it suited his purpose, he removed Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Herod Agrippa I, and others. ‘However,’ some may say, ‘those events were all ancient history. What do they have to do with us?’ They have a lot to do with us because there are powerful lessons in them. What we learn from those events is that when Jehovah’s time for it comes, he brings an end to the rulership of world leaders. And when he has chosen to do so, he has put into power the ruler of his choice.
2. For what has Jehovah’s time arrived in our day?
2 In our day, Jehovah’s time has again arrived for “removing kings and setting up kings.” Having now ‘set up’ the King of his choice, God will soon remove all of this world’s rulers, as well as the entire system of things that they dominate. Why? Because they, like Belshazzar of ancient Babylon, “have been weighed in the balances and have been found deficient.” The situation today is just as it was when God’s servant Daniel told Belshazzar: “God has numbered the days of your kingdom and has finished it.” (Daniel 5:26, 27) Therefore, in our time Jehovah “will certainly break kings to pieces on the day of his anger. He will execute judgment among the nations.”—Psalm 110:5, 6.
3, 4. With regard to peace, how have world rulers been “found deficient” in this century?
3 How have earthly rulers been “found deficient” with regard to world developments? They must take a major share of the blame for what has happened to the human family in our time, a time filled with calamities unlike any other age. For instance, just since 1914 about a hundred million people have been killed in various wars! Today, nuclear weapons threaten the survival of life on earth. Right this minute, thousands of nuclear missiles, with firing crews at the ready, are pointing at population centers.
4 Regarding nuclear war, Science magazine reported this chilling analysis: ‘In any large-scale nuclear exchange, the extinction of a major portion of plant and animal life on earth is likely. The extinction of humankind cannot be excluded.’ A government official in Europe said: “Losses would not be counted in terms of cities but in terms of whole continents.” The president of a Latin American country stated as to the cost of defense: “Mankind is sailing in a fragile ship which may well founder . . . If it does go down, it could take everyone with it.” And a Japanese newspaper observed: “The world seems further from [peace] than at anytime in history.”
5, 6. What is the economic condition of many lands and peoples?
5 Yet, the nations keep spending more and more on armaments. The cost has now risen to about a trillion dollars (U.S.) a year! One source notes that the world spends about 50 times as much money on each soldier as it does on each school-age child. Consider, too, a United Nations report that shows that at least 450 million people throughout the world are hungry, and their numbers are growing. Another report states that “every year 30 to 40 million people starve to death” in underdeveloped lands. It says, too, that about half of those dying are children under the age of five.
6 A government official of one large country in South America says that “40 percent of the work force lives in absolute poverty.” In another country there, the lack of employment in its capital city affects 51 percent of the labor force. A report concludes: “A continent of 260 million people has sunk into its deepest depression in a half century.” Then notice these three headlines from different lands: “Poverty Rate Called ‘Alarming.’” “Poverty Rate Is Up.” “Poverty, Painful Experience.” Were these reports from underdeveloped lands? No, they were from government officials in Canada, the United States, and the Federal Republic of Germany. Yes, even so-called wealthy nations are mired in difficulties.
7. What observations have been made about the crime and violence so rampant in our time?
7 In many lands these problems are mirrored by an avalanche of crime, violence, and terrorism. For example, in the United States the Federal Centers for Disease Control notes that each year more than 50,000 Americans are murdered or commit suicide! Thus an editorial in The New York Times concluded: “Things are out of control.” Another editorial observed: “This is a time of international anarchy.” So, in spite of centuries of effort, experience, and technological progress, world leaders are unable to give many of their people their basic needs.
8. To what does the record of history testify?
8 Surely, the record of history, both ancient and modern, testifies that man, on his own, does not have the answers. The political, economic, and religious leadership of this world can never bring the peace, security, happiness, health, and life that we want and need. Therefore, this world must go! And it will go because that is what Jehovah has purposed for it. It is as the Bible says: “The ax is already in position at the root of the trees; every tree, therefore, not producing fine fruit is to be cut down and thrown into the fire.”—Luke 3:9.
Another Reason for Judgment
9. How do world leaders generally regard Jehovah’s purposes?
9 The bad fruitage that this world and its leaders have produced is one reason why Jehovah, having weighed the world in the balances, has found it deficient and will destroy it. But there is another reason: World leaders have left Jehovah—the Creator and Universal Sovereign—out of their considerations. They have no real interest in his purposes or times and seasons. That is why First Corinthians 2:8 accurately says of them: “This [divine] wisdom not one of the rulers of this system of things came to know.” Thus Psalm 146:3 counsels us: “Do not put your trust in nobles, nor in the son of earthling man, to whom no salvation belongs.”
10, 11. (a) What should be done by those who want to know Jehovah? (b) How are God’s servants able to know what others do not?
10 Instead, Proverbs 3:5, 6 urges: “Trust in Jehovah with all your heart and do not lean upon your own understanding. In all your ways take notice of him, and he himself will make your paths straight.” People who do this will not remain in the unenlightened hopelessness of this world. Jehovah will bless them with his spirit so that they will come to know his purposes and his times and seasons for them. As Acts 5:32 says, Jehovah gives his holy spirit “to those obeying him as ruler.”
11 So God’s servants know what this world’s rulers do not. They know Jehovah’s purposes and his seasons. First Peter 1:11 says that, in the past, God’s servants “kept on investigating what particular season or what sort of season the spirit in them was indicating.” With God’s spirit indicating this, the apostle Paul could say to true fellow worshipers: “You people know the season.” (Romans 13:11) Since Jehovah’s servants of today obey him as ruler, God’s holy spirit also reveals to them what season it is from his viewpoint. Amos 3:7 says: “The Sovereign Lord Jehovah will not do a thing unless he has revealed his confidential matter to his servants the prophets.”
Still Another Reason
12, 13. What is another strong reason why Jehovah finds this world and its leaders deficient?
12 This brings us to still another reason why Jehovah has found this world and its leaders to be deficient and will finish them. Recall what Pharaoh, Belshazzar, Herod, and other rulers in the past did to Jehovah’s servants. They opposed, persecuted, and even killed them. God held those rulers accountable for that.
13 It is similar in our day. Various world rulers have opposed, persecuted, and even killed Jehovah’s peaceful servants. Such rulers “speak even words against the Most High, and . . . harass continually the holy ones themselves of the Supreme One.” (Daniel 7:25; 11:36) But the inspired account at Isaiah 54:17 declares: “Any weapon whatever that will be formed against you will have no success . . . This is the hereditary possession of the servants of Jehovah.” Hence, all opposers will be brought low, just as were others in the past. On the other hand, Jehovah promises the survival and prosperity of his people.
Closing Time Nears
14, 15. (a) In what time period do we live, and what warnings should we heed? (b) Despite any efforts by world leaders, what comes on apace?
14 So, what time is it from God’s viewpoint? It is closing time for this world. Its sun is setting. Nighttime is fast approaching for it. Its winter is nearly upon it. All the evidence in fulfillment of Bible prophecy and Jehovah’s timetable shows that we live in “the last days,” at “the conclusion of the system of things.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5; Matthew 24:3-14) Thus we need to take to heart Jesus’ warning: “Keep praying that your flight may not occur in wintertime.” (Matthew 24:20) When this world’s nighttime, or winter, comes, it will be too late to seek Jehovah’s favor.
15 The time for bringing this god-dishonoring world to an end comes on apace. When it comes, Jehovah will forcibly remove all world rulers from office. However sincere they may be, their fruitless and hopeless plans will cease. True, the rulers may try to cheer up their people with arms treaties and various plans for peace and security, even with ‘holy years’; but the march toward the final showdown at God’s war of Armageddon continues relentlessly.—Revelation 16:13-16.
16. To whom has Jehovah given world rulership?
16 Also, recall that not only is Jehovah “removing kings” but he is also “setting up kings.” (Daniel 2:21) The heavenly armies that Jehovah will use to execute his judgments at Armageddon will be led by the Ruler that he has ‘set up’ for all the earth. That one is his faithful Son, Christ Jesus, now in heavenly power and glory. Revelation 19:16 calls him “King of kings and Lord of lords.” Daniel 7:14 says: “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.”—See also Daniel 2:44.
17, 18. (a) What does God’s Word say will happen to those who do not acknowledge him and his appointed Ruler for this earth? (b) Who else knows that there is not much time left?
17 In plain language God’s prophetic Word tells what will happen to those who do not acknowledge Jehovah and his appointed Ruler for all the earth. It states: “I saw also an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice and said to all the birds that fly in midheaven: ‘Come here, be gathered together to the great evening meal of God, that you may eat the fleshy parts of kings and the fleshy parts of military commanders and the fleshy parts of strong men and the fleshy parts of horses and of those seated upon them, and the fleshy parts of all, of freemen as well as of slaves and of small ones and great.’”—Revelation 19:17, 18.
18 Jeremiah 25:33 describes it this way: “Those slain by Jehovah will certainly come to be in that day from one end of the earth clear to the other end of the earth. They will not be bewailed, neither will they be gathered up or be buried. As manure on the surface of the ground they will become.” Yes, it is closing time for Satan’s entire corrupt system of things. And even he knows it! Revelation 12:12 states that he knows he has only “a short period of time” left.