Chapter 6:

"Let Your Kingdom Come"

Government! What is it for? Today, it seems, governments are more part of the problem than the solution. Corruption, injustice, bureaucracy, incompetence, partisan gridlock, incomprehensible regulations and byzantine tax codes have caused many to sigh and yearn for a complete overhaul of governance on earth.

The reasons for which governments are established by men is well expressed in the widely respected Constitution of the United States: "to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty." Unfortunately, these have remained goals and not accomplishments. Mankind has proven himself inadequate in power and wisdom to bring about a world (or even a nation) of peace, justice, health and prosperity. To think that any government can do that seems almost ludicrous today.

Yet the Bible promises such a government! Where? Look at Isaiah 9:6,7 (AV): "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be on his shoulder...of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever." Of this same ruler the promise is made (at Isa 11:2-9): " The spirit of Jehovah will settle upon him, the spirit of wisdom and of understanding, ...he will not judge by what merely appears to his eyes, nor reprove simply according to what his ears hear. With righteousness he will judge... he will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the spirit of his lips he will put the wicked one to death... And the wolf will reside with the lamb, and with the young goat the leopard will lie down, the calf and the young lion... together; and a little boy will lead them. The cow and the bear... together their young ones will lie down. Even the lion will eat straw just like the bull... They will not do any harm or cause any ruin in all my holy mountain; because the earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah, as the waters cover the sea." An artist once painted the scene described in this scripture and named his work "The Peaceable Kingdom."

From this we can learn much about the promised Kingdom. It will bring justice by eliminating wicked people, not merely imprisoning them at great cost to taxpayers. The peace to follow will benefit the natural world as well as humankind. And its rule will be earthwide. These same promises are made again and again in the Bible; for example, compare Psalms 72:1-19; 37.9-11, 29; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; Revelation 19:11-21, 21.1-4.

The Kingdom Promise Unfolds

At the very time Jehovah condemned Adam and Eve for their rebellion, He spoke of a purpose to undo what they had done. At Genesis 3:15 he said: "I shall put enmity between you [Satan] and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will crush your head, and you will strike him in the heel." In other words, there would be a man who would destroy Satan just as one crushes the head of a snake. Satan would only be able to injure him slightly, as a snake strikes at the heel of a man. Who would this special man be?

Centuries later, Abraham found favor in the eyes of God due to his unswerving faithfulness and obedience. So God swore to him: "I shall surely bless you and multiply your offspring like the stars of the heavens and like the grains of sand on the seashore, and your offspring will take possession of the gate of his enemies. By means of your offspring all nations of the earth will obtain a blessing for themselves, because you have listened to my voice." So there would be a descendant* of Abraham who would prevail over all his enemies, have innumerable children, and bring blessings to all nations on earth. This is the same person who would crush Satan. —Gen 22:17, 18.

Abraham’s grandson Jacob had 12 sons, from whom arose the nation of Israel. They came to be in slavery in Egypt, the mightiest empire the world had known up until that time. Then in the days of Moses Jehovah struck the Egyptians and led the Israelites out of Egypt with great power. This proved his ability to defeat any mighty nation on earth.

The Israelites were brought to the foot of a mountain in Sinai. The mountain smoked and roared as Jehovah came down on it. Then he made an extraordinary promise to the assembled people: "If you will strictly obey my voice and keep my covenant, you will certainly become my special property out of all other peoples, for the whole earth belongs to me. You will become to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." —Ex 19:5, 6 (for the complete account read Exodus 3-19.)

This was a very important promise. The Israelites were chosen to be special, to eventually serve as a "kingdom of priests." And what are priests for? To assist people in their approach to God, to teach and instruct and intercede for them. So these chosen people were to lovingly serve for the blessing of all other nations. At the same time, they would be a "kingdom", which implies rulership. Evidently this special nation would be involved in crushing Satan and blessing all nations.

Centuries passed, and the Israelites kept disappointing Jehovah by turning to worship false gods and carrying on much wickedness. But when distressed by adversity, they would turn back and appeal to Jehovah for help, and he would mercifully come to their rescue. Finally Jehovah’s patience came to an end, and he had the nation conquered by a foreign power, Babylon, the cities burned and the people removed into exile and slavery. Did this mean the Kingdom promise was abandoned? —see 2 Chron 36:12-21.

No, this turn of events was in fact anticipated; Jehovah saw it coming from the time of Moses (see Deut 31:16-21, 24-29). For the sake of his own honor as one who keeps his word, he had them released from exile after 70 years and re-established them on their land, albeit not as a free nation. (seeEzek 36:16-32.)

During all this time there were a few who proved faithful to God and were blessed by him. David proved to be a man agreeable to God’s heart (Acts 13:22), and God made him king of Israel. For David’s faithfulness, God swore that his kingdom would be everlasting. (see Psalms 89:35-37.) But his dynasty only reigned until the destruction by Babylon. How, then, would God’s promise come true?

It would be through the Offspring promised to Abraham. It would be an individual, not the whole nation of Israel, as some thought. This Chosen One, or Christ, would be a natural descendant of David, and inherit the right to his throne. Then when God raised him up to be King forever, His promise to David would be fulfilled.

What about the holy nation, the royal priesthood, that Israel should have become? Remember, that covenant depended on their obedience; God had said, "If you will strictly obey my voice and keep my covenant, then you will certainly become my special property." So it would not apply to anyone who proved disobedient, regardless of their pedigree. As it turned out, when Christ came, the majority of the Jews did not accept him as Messiah. This too was anticipated and foretold. [Isa 53; compare Acts 8:32-35; see also Acts 2:22, 23, 13:27, 28] For this reason Jesus said: "This is why I say to you [the natural Jews], the Kingdom of God will be taken from you and be given to a nation producing its fruits." (Matt 21:43) Today some believe that we should look to the modern state of Israel for the fulfillment of Kingdom prophecies in our time. But according to Jesus, the Kingdom covenant was taken from them long ago. Who, then, is that "nation producing its fruits"?

Identifying God’s Holy Nation

We find the answer at 1 Pet 2:4-10 (please read). Peter speaks of people being like "living stones being built up into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood...You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a special possession." Then he says: "For you were once not a people, but are now God’s people." What did that mean? Well, his letter was addressed to Christians scattered in various non-Israelite lands (1 Pet 1:1). Those who were Gentiles were at one time "not a people", or special nation of God, but were now "called out of darkness." Paul puts it even more plainly at Ephesians 2:11-22, 3:5, 6. There we read that non-Jews were joined into that covenant that produces a holy nation, a royal priesthood. —see also Romans 9:23-26.

Some argue that all Jews, regardless of their behavior, will be blessed as a holy nation, because Paul says at Romans 11:26 that "all Israel will be saved." But Paul also says they must repent if they would be restored (verse 23). And he notes that only a remnant would repent (Rom 9:27-29). So although the Jews were favored with first opportunity to be chosen for this royal priesthood, most of them turned it down (see Acts 13:45-47.) This made Paul very sad (Romans 9:1-5) but as he then says, "Not all who descend from Israel are really ‘Israel’." (verses 6-8; see also 2:28, 29.) So the "all Israel" that will be saved must mean those who prove to be truly "Israelites" by faith and God’s calling, not due to birth. This true Israel, then, is the nation to whom the Kingdom was given. —2 Pet 1:10, 11.

It is in this true Israel that the prophecy of a new covenant is fulfilled. Jeremiah 31:31-33 reads: “‘Look! There are days coming,’ declares Jehovah, ‘when I will make with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah a new covenant. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their forefathers in the day I took hold of their hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke. . . For this is the covenant that I shall make with the house of Israel after those days: I will put my law within them, and in their heart I shall write it. And I will become their God, and they will become my people. And they will no more teach each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, “Know Jehovah!” for they will all know me, from the least to the greatest of them. For I shall forgive their error, and I shall no longer remember their sin.’” —see also Heb 8:6-13.

How large would this chosen nation be? Is there any limit on its size? For all nations to be blessed, must they become "Israelites" themselves?

That is not what the Bible says. Throughout, the nations that benefit from the rule of this chosen nation are shown as separate from, and submitting to, the royal priesthood. Notice how clear this is in Daniel’s vision at Daniel 7:13, 14, 18, 27. There we see first the Christ receiving his rulership over all nations. Then "holy ones" (note plural) receive the everlasting Kingdom, and all lesser authorities "under the heavens" (that is, on earth) "will serve and obey them." —see also Isaiah 61.5, 6; see also 1 Cor 6:1, 2.

So it is clear that the special nation would be a select and limited group. Evidently God had a "design" or architectural plan, if you will, for this "house", as it is sometimes called. The exact number of "stones" was kept a sacred secret until the Revelation given to John. Then we finally read: "I saw, and, look! the Lamb standing upon Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 having his name and the name of his Father written on their foreheads...And they are singing what seems to be a new song before the throne one was able to master that song but the 144,000, who have been bought from the earth." —Rev 14:1, 3.*

By no means is that the whole number of people to be blessed by God; the very next verses (6, 7) describe the invitation to worship God being proclaimed to "every nation and people." Yes, everyone can benefit from the reign of this Kingdom, if they will only "fear God and give him glory" before it is too late.

Where is the Kingdom?

The coming of this glorious Kingdom was anticipated from the days of the ancient prophets (Isaiah and Daniel particularly had much to say about it), but there was one detail revealed by Jesus Christ that came as a complete surprise. It was so new, so unexpected, that the disciples had difficulty grasping it at first: the Chosen One and those who would reign with him would not reign as men on earth but as spirits in heavenly glory.

On the night he was to be betrayed, Jesus told his disciples to be strong, to keep faithful, because he would be leaving them for a while. But "I am going my way to prepare a place for you, and I am coming again and will receive you home to myself, that where I am you also may be." How touching! How did the disciples react? "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How do we know the way?" (John 14:1-5) They did not understand what he was talking about! They had it fixed in their minds, not that he would die, but that he would at any moment reveal his glorious might and sweep away all oppressive world powers, leading the Jewish nation to victory and world dominance. Even after he had been raised up from the dead (and they knew he was no longer flesh and blood) they asked: "Lord, are you restoring the Kingdom to Israel at this time?" (Acts 1:6) As you have no doubt experienced yourself, old preconceptions die hard. But they finally learned: they were chosen to go to heaven! They would take on spirit bodies! They would see God face to face! How these new ideas must have overwhelmed and thrilled them! From then on they regarded their fleshly bodies as merely a temporary "house" or "tent" from which they would someday move. (2 Cor 4:16-5.8)

This new understanding is woven into everything the apostles wrote about the Christian congregation. Because of this, many Bible readers since then have assumed that everyone who is saved will go to heaven. You may have believed that all your life. Almost every church in Christendom teaches that life on earth has no future; if you are saved, you will surely go to heaven when you die.

Yet the Bible is quite clear that the earth will also be blessed. Jesus promised: "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." (Matt 5:3 [AV], which relates to Ps 37:11.) Jesus had not changed his mind about that promise when he later spoke about taking his select disciples away to heaven. He didn’t say, "Oh, forget that, I’ve changed my mind, I’ll just take you away and blow this God-forsaken place up." No, not at all. Those who will reign with him in heaven will inherit this earth as the realm needing the benefit of their reign. We will provide further details about the coming paradise on earth in Chapter 9, "Making Earth a Paradise."

Will You Go to Heaven?

The question then naturally arises, Will I go to heaven, or stay on earth? Well, who do you think makes that choice? Do we tell God where we want to be, or does he decide for us? As you might expect, it is God who chooses those who will be kings in his Kingdom. From among the millions who have served him faithfully, only the "144,000" are called and anointed by holy spirit to the royal priesthood. Jehovah makes this choice according to his own vision and wisdom, and we should not complain. —see Romans 9:11, 16, 2 Tim 1:9, 2 Cor 1:21, 22; compare Heb 5:1, 4.

It is clear that the faithful 11 apostles were "called." And the letters to the early Christian congregations strongly imply that all who were drawn to Christ in those days (and remained faithful to the end) were also selected for this heavenly calling. That being the case, we could reasonably expect that the full number would by now be complete, or very nearly so. —see 1 Pet 1:1-4, 2 Pet 1:10.

But how does a person know if he is chosen? Jehovah would use his holy spirit to make it unmistakably clear to each one. The Bible says: "For all who are led by God’s spirit, these are God’s sons." (Rom 8:14) Of course, we must all be led by God’s spirit; being led by any other spirit brings death (verse 6). Then Paul says: "The spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are God’s children." (Rom 8:16) So we should sense deeply within ourselves that God has accepted us as his "children," once we have truly accepted him as Father. In the same way that the spirit "bears witness" within us that we are saved, it bears witness within those who are specially called to heavenly kingship, telling them of that calling— unmistakably, beyond a shadow of a doubt. Paul was, of course, particularly writing to people with that calling, and so verses 17 and 18 have special meaning to them. —Romans 8:6-18.

Those who do not receive this special calling should not feel unloved or humiliated. In a way, we are all called by God— to life everlasting. Jesus said: "No man can come to me unless the Father, who sent me, draws him; and I will resurrect him in the last day." (John 6:44) So all who come to faith are drawn by God, and loved by him. And he gives holy spirit to all who obey him (Acts 5:32; see also 1 John 3:19-24.) Nor should we regard a paradise earth as a second-class inheritance. For one thing, it sure beats death. And with an endless future, there are many intriguing possibilities. Who in their right mind would turn it down?

The Israel of God Today

Should we think that the full number of 144,000 was selected many years ago, so that no one alive today has that calling? No. Bible prophecy plainly says that some of these would be here at the time of Christ’s return. At that time, he said he would reward them with authority. (Luke 19:11-19, Matt 24:45-47; see also 1 Thess 4:13-17.) How should this affect us? We should find them and associate ourselves with them. When we do that, we will be fulfilling a prophecy ourselves: Zechariah 8:20-23.

How can we identify the true Israel today? There are many who claim to be God’s chosen people. Some of them fight viciously to establish their claim. That in itself tells us they cannot be God’s people. (2 Tim 2:24, 25) True Christians would be separate from the world’s fights. Often they would be despised, persecuted, dismissed as blasphemers. Yet they would have love among themselves. They would be united, not divided up into denominations. Their unity would not be gained by allowing room for all kind of beliefs and being tolerant of things contrary to the word of God, rather, they would have deep respect for all of the Bible, study it carefully, and live by it. Nor would they hide away in a corner and be hard to find. They would be out in the streets and knocking on doors, obeying to the very end Jesus’ command, "Go...make disciples of people of all the nations... teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you [including the command to be preachers]." They would, like Christ, be known as witnesses of Jehovah, making sure that everyone knows that Jehovah is the Most High. —read John 13:34, 35, 15:17-20, 17:14-23, 26, 1 Cor 1:10, Eph 4:1-6, Matt 28:19-20, Isa 43:10, Ps 83:18, Rev 1:5, 6.

Who today fits this Bible description? The traditional churches of Christendom are often deeply involved with the political divisions of this world, even egging on opposing sides in wars at times. The recent ecumenical movements are weak attempts at unity by sweeping differences under the rug. That is no way to clean house. Jesus said, "Your word is truth." Yet some prominent clergy dare to say that parts of the Bible are myth, and what it says is bad (such as homosexuality) is really good "if they love one another." Amazingly, most of these remain respected spokesmen in their church! As for God’s personal name, they have even removed it from their Bibles, worshipping Jesus as God instead. Do you think Jesus wanted them to do that? —John 7:16-18, 8:49, 50.

In contrast, the people known as Jehovah’s Witnesses are united as a loving brotherhood. We have a well-earned reputation for refusing to be drawn into worldly conflicts, even dying at the hands of hot-headed patriots for our refusal. We are often ridiculed and avoided. Yet we also have a well-earned reputation as Bible students. You have no doubt noticed how thoroughly this book supports what it says with solid, easily understandable Bible references. And we are renowned for our persistent door-to-door preaching. All of us are active, young and old, strong and infirm. No, we’re not hard to find; we’re hard to hide from!

Are all of Jehovah’s Witnesses called to heavenly glory? That is not possible, because there are now over 8,500,000 of us, while the number given for that special calling is much less, and many of those lived long ago. Only a few, a remnant, of these anointed ones remain today. They lead Jehovah's people in publishing the word of God to all who are ready to receive it. This book is just a tiny part of that effort. Do you appreciate the help it has given you?

The principle message for our time is the same one Jesus preached almost 2000 years ago, yet it has greater meaning than ever before. Do you know what it is? Our next chapter will take that up.

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Review for Chapter 6