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Jehovah’s Witnesses

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THE WATCHTOWER (STUDY EDITION) JULY 2006

God’s Kingdom—Superior in Every Way

God’s Kingdom—Superior in Every Way

JESUS CHRIST taught his followers: “You must pray, then, this way: ‘Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified. Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.’” (Matthew 6:9, 10) This prayer, known to many as the Our Father, or the Lord’s Prayer, explains the purpose of God’s Kingdom.

By means of the Kingdom, God’s name will be sanctified. It will be cleared of all the dishonor that has been heaped upon it as a result of the rebellion of Satan and man. This is vital. The happiness of all intelligent creatures depends on their holding God’s name sacred and willingly accepting his right to rule.Revelation 4:11.

In addition, the Kingdom is set up to “let [God’s] will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.” And what is that will? It is to restore the relationship between God and humankind, which Adam lost. The Kingdom will also serve the purpose of the Universal Sovereign, Jehovah, to establish a paradise on earth where good people can enjoy life forever. Yes, God’s Kingdom will undo all the damage done by original sin and will make God’s loving purpose for the earth a reality. (1 John 3:8) This Kingdom and what it will accomplish is, in fact, the main message of the Bible.

Superior in What Ways?

God’s Kingdom is a real government having great power. The prophet Daniel gave us a glimpse of just how powerful it is. Long ago, he foretold: “The God of heaven will set up a kingdom that . . . will crush and put an end to all [human] kingdoms.” Moreover, in contrast with human governments, which come and go over the course of history, God’s Kingdom “will never be brought to ruin.” (Daniel 2:44) That is not all. In every respect, this Kingdom is far superior to any human government.

God’s Kingdom has a superior King.

Consider who that King is. In “a dream and visions” given to him, Daniel beheld the Ruler of God’s Kingdom as “someone like a son of man” brought before Almighty God and given lasting “rulership and dignity and kingdom.” (Daniel 7:1, 13, 14) That Son of man is none other than Jesus Christ—the Messiah. (Matthew 16:13-17) Jehovah God designated his own Son, Jesus, to be King of His Kingdom. When on earth, Jesus said to the wicked Pharisees: “The kingdom of God is in your midst,” meaning that he, the future King of that Kingdom, was among them.Luke 17:21.

Who from among mankind can match Jesus’ credentials as a Ruler? Jesus has already proved to be a thoroughly righteous, reliable, and compassionate Leader. The Gospels portray him as a man of action as well as one of tender warmth and deep feelings. (Matthew  4:23; Mark 1:40, 41; 6:31-34; Luke 7:11-17) Furthermore, the resurrected Jesus is not subject to death or other human limitations.Isaiah 9:6, 7.

Jehovah has designated Jesus Christ to be King of His Kingdom

Jesus and his associates rule from a superior position.

In his dream-vision, Daniel also saw that “the kingdom and the rulership . . . were given to the people who are the holy ones.” (Daniel 7:27) Jesus does not rule alone. He has others with him who are to rule as kings and serve as priests. (Revelation 5:9, 10; 20:6) Concerning them, the apostle John wrote: “I saw, and, look! the Lamb standing upon the Mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand . . . who have been bought from the earth.”Revelation 14:1-3.

The Lamb is Jesus Christ in his Kingdom position. (John 1:29; Revelation 22:3) This Mount Zion refers to heaven. * (Hebrews 12:22) Jesus and his 144,000 associates are ruling from heaven. What a lofty position from which to rule! Being in heaven, they have a broader perspective. Since heaven is its seat, “the kingdom of God” is also called “the kingdom of the heavens.” (Luke 8:10; Matthew 13:11) No weapons, not even nuclear attacks, can reach and topple that heavenly government. It is unconquerable and will fulfill Jehovah’s purpose for it.Hebrews 12:28.

God’s Kingdom has trustworthy representatives on earth.

How do we know this? Psalm 45:16 states: “You will appoint . . . princes in all the earth.” “You” in this prophecy is the Son of God. (Psalm 45:6, 7; Hebrews 1:7, 8) Hence, Jesus Christ himself will appoint the princely representatives. We can be sure that they will be faithful in carrying out his direction. Even today, qualified men who serve as elders in the Christian congregation are taught, not to “lord it over” their fellow believers, but to protect, refresh, and comfort them.Matthew 20:25-28; Isaiah 32:2.

The Kingdom has righteous subjects.

They are blameless and upright in God’s eyes. (Proverbs 2:21, 22) “The meek ones themselves will possess the earth,” says the Bible, “and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.” (Psalm 37:11) The subjects of the Kingdom are meek—teachable and humble, mild and gentle. Their primary interests are spiritual matters. (Matthew 5:3) They want to do what is right and are responsive to divine direction.

God’s Kingdom is governed by superior laws.

The laws and principles governing the Kingdom come from Jehovah God himself. Rather than unfairly restrict us, they benefit us. (Psalm 19:7-11) Many people are already benefiting from living by Jehovah’s righteous requirements. For example, heeding the Bible’s counsel to husbands, wives, and children improves our family life. (Ephesians 5:33–6:3) When we obey the command to ‘clothe ourselves with love,’ our relationship with others improves. (Colossians 3:13, 14) As we live by Scriptural principles, we also cultivate good work habits and a balanced view of money. (Proverbs 13:4; 1 Timothy 6:9, 10) Avoiding drunkenness, sexual immorality, tobacco, and addictive drugs helps us to safeguard our health.Proverbs 7:21-23; 23:29, 30; 2 Corinthians 7:1.

The Kingdom of God is a government ordained by God. Its King—the Messiah, Jesus Christ—and all his associate rulers are responsible to God to uphold His just laws and loving principles. The subjects of the Kingdom, including its earthly representatives,  take delight in living by God’s laws. God is thus at the center of the lives of the rulers and the subjects of the Kingdom. Therefore, the Kingdom is a true theocracy—rule by God. It is bound to succeed in accomplishing the purpose for which it has been set up. But when does God’s Kingdom, also known as the Messianic Kingdom, begin its rule?

Kingdom Rule Begins

A key to understanding when Kingdom rule begins is found in the words of Jesus. “Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations,” he said, “until the appointed times of the nations are fulfilled.” (Luke 21:24) Jerusalem was the only city in all the earth that was directly associated with God’s name. (1 Kings 11:36; Matthew 5:35) It was the capital of a God-approved earthly kingdom. That city was to be trampled on by the nations in that the rule by God over his people was to be interrupted by worldly governments. When would this begin?

The last king to sit on Jehovah’s throne in Jerusalem was told: “Remove the turban, and lift off the crown. . . . It will certainly become no one’s until he comes who has the legal right, and I must give it to him.” (Ezekiel 21:25-27) The crown was to be lifted off the head of that king, and God’s rulership over His people was to be interrupted. This happened in 607 B.C.E. when the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem. During “the appointed times” that were to follow, God would not have a government on the earth to represent his rulership. Only at the end of those times would Jehovah give the power to rule to the one “who has the legal right”—Jesus Christ. How long would that period be?

A prophecy in the Bible book of Daniel states: “Chop the tree down, and ruin it. However, leave its rootstock itself in the earth, but with a banding of iron and of copper . . . until seven times themselves pass over it.” (Daniel 4:23) As we will see, the “seven times” mentioned here are equal in length to “the appointed times of the nations.”

In the Bible, individuals, rulers, and kingdoms are at times represented by trees. (Psalm 1:3; Jeremiah 17:7, 8; Ezekiel, chapter 31) The symbolic tree “was visible to the extremity of the whole earth.” (Daniel 4:11) Thus, the rulership represented by the tree that was to be chopped down and banded extended “to the extremity of the earth,” involving the whole kingdom of mankind. (Daniel 4:17, 20, 22) The tree therefore represents the supreme rulership of God, particularly in its relationship to the earth. This rulership was expressed for a time through the kingdom that Jehovah set up over the nation of Israel. The symbolic tree was cut down, and bands of iron and copper were placed upon the stump in order to prevent its  growth. This indicated that God’s representative rulership on earth was to cease its operation, as happened in 607 B.C.E.—but not indefinitely. The tree would remain banded until “seven times” had passed. At the end of that period, Jehovah would give rulership to the legal heir, Jesus Christ. Clearly, the “seven times” and “the appointed times of the nations” refer to the same time period.

The Bible helps us to determine the length of the “seven times.” It equates 1,260 days with “a time [one time] and times [two times, plural] and half a time”—a total of three and a half “times.” (Revelation 12:6, 14) This means that twice that number, or seven times, is 2,520 days.

When we count 2,520 literal days from 607 B.C.E., we come to 600 B.C.E. However, the seven times lasted much longer than that. They were still in progress when Jesus spoke of “the appointed times of the nations.” The seven times, therefore, are prophetic. Hence, we must apply the Scriptural rule: “A day for a year.” (Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:6) In that case, the seven times of earth’s domination by worldly powers without divine interference amount to 2,520 years. Counting 2,520 years from 607 B.C.E. brings us to 1914 C.E. That is the year when “the appointed times of the nations,” or seven times, ended. This means that Jesus Christ began to rule as King of God’s Kingdom in 1914.

“Let Your Kingdom Come”

Since the Messianic Kingdom has already been established in heaven, should we continue to pray for it to come, as taught by Jesus in the model prayer? (Matthew 6:9, 10) Yes. That petition is proper and still full of meaning. God’s Kingdom will yet assert its full power toward this earth.

What blessings faithful mankind will experience when that happens! “God himself will be with them,” says the Bible, “and he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3, 4) At that time, “no resident will say: ‘I am sick.’” (Isaiah 33:24) Everlasting life will be enjoyed by those who please God. (John 17:3) As we await the fulfillment of these and other wonderful Bible prophecies, let us “keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and [God’s] righteousness.”Matthew 6:33.

Earthly subjects of God’s Kingdom will enjoy many blessings

^ par. 10 King David of ancient Israel wrested the stronghold of the earthly Mount Zion from the Jebusites and made it his capital. (2 Samuel 5:6, 7, 9) He also transferred the sacred Ark to that location. (2 Samuel 6:17) Since the Ark was associated with Jehovah’s presence, Zion was referred to as the place of God’s dwelling, making it a fitting symbol for heaven.Exodus 25:22; Leviticus 16:2; Psalm 9:11; Revelation 11:19.

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