Coming Blessings of God’s Kingdom

FROM the standpoint of human wisdom, the future of the human race looks both dreadful and promising. This paradoxical situation is due to man’s inability properly to use the many potential advantages made available through science and invention. Human selfishness has now been implemented to the point where most of the human race might well be destroyed. On the other hand, it is the dim hope of the world’s well-meaning statesmen and diplomats that this terrible catastrophe can be averted. And if it can be averted, we are told, the products of science and invention will provide the human race with the highest standard of living ever experienced, with ample time for leisure, recreation, and all the legitimate pleasures humans are capable of enjoying.

However, the brightness of this happy prospect is dimmed by the ‘if’ upon which it is predicated, for there is no assurance that the human race will escape the holocaust of an all-out nuclear war. If it does not escape the horrendous eventuality, the whole world most certainly will be reduced to a state of prostration from which, by mere human effort, it would require generations to recover. Such is the uncertainty with which worldly wisdom views the future.

The Bible alone presents us with an accurate and certain preview of the shape of things to come. But even so, the Bible does not give us a day-by-day, or even a year-by-year, forecast of national and international events. The Bible foretold the present “distress of nations, with perplexity.” (Luke 21:24-26) In its forecasts of our day the Bible explained that the distress upon nations would be a “time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation.” (Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:21,22) But the prophecies do not supply many of the details of this trouble.

However, the Bible does present us with a preview of the ultimate outcome of present world distress, and this prophetic view is most encouraging. The Bible’s forecasts include the establishment of the long-promised kingdom of Christ to rule throughout all the earth; and they tell us of the blessings of peace, and joy, and everlasting life that will be vouchsafed to all those who obey the laws of that kingdom. The writers of both the Old and New Testaments contribute to the outline of this glorious future time of peace and happiness. One of the Bible’s comprehensive descriptions of the coming blessings of God’s kingdom is found in the Book of Micah. We quote:

“In the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the Law shall go forth of Zion, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it.”—Mic. 4:1-4

The Last Days

This marvelous description of a world at peace, and enjoying security and prosperity, is introduced with the explanation that this new and righteous social order was to be established in the last days. From the standpoint of traditional theology this would be an incongruity, for the last days were considered to be the end of ail human experience, a time when even the earth itself would be destroyed by fire rained down from the sky.

True, the Bible does speak of much trouble taking place in the last days, the ending phase of this present evil world. It is in this period that the foretold time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, occurs. In the various prophecies this trouble is figuratively described as fire, as a great shaking, as an earthquake, as a flood, as a whirlwind, and as a storm. In some respects the foretold distress of nations is like all these upheavals of nature. We fail properly to understand the significance of the prophecies if we single out the one symbol of fire, and insist that it must be literal.

Preparation for the Kingdom

The divine purpose in permitting this great time of trouble is that by it the people and nations of earth might be made to realize their own inability to cope with the problems of human sin and selfishness. Only the collapse of practically all security and order throughout the earth will accomplish this. The prophetic details of how this will be accomplished are expressed in symbol isms, and are not clearly understood.

Man might well be permitted to use nuclear bombs, and certainly this would mean much fire from the skies. And other factors might be involved, which together could lead to horrible destruction. But the destruction of buildings, and even of human life, are not the featured considerations. The vital factor forecast in the prophecies is the breakdown of humanly constituted authority in the earth which results from man’s inhumanity to man. It is this that will precede and prepare the way for the subsequent time of Micah’s prophecy which speaks of universal peace.

The LORD’s Mountain

The mountain of the Lord referred to in Micah’s prophecy is in reality the messianic kingdom—that mountain referred to by Daniel, which is to fill the whole earth. (Dan. 2:44) It will be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills, meaning that the people of all nations, great and small; will be subservient to it. Christ will reign “from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.”—Ps. 72:8

With the establishment of this kingdom, the people will say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain [kingdom] of the Lord, and to the house of the God of Jacob.” (vs. 2) It will then be recognized that the messianic kingdom has been established in fulfillment of the promises made by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and, indeed, of all Israel. Actually it will be the antitype of the kingdom which the Lord established in ancient Israel, the kingdom over which David was made the titular head.

That typical kingdom came to an end when its last king, Zedekiah, was overthrown, and the people taken captive to Babylon. But this did not imply the failure of God’s promises, for the typical kingdom was to be overturned only until “he come whose right” it was. (Ezek. 21:25-27) The right to the antitypical kingdom of promise belonged to Jesus.

Antitypically, Jesus was the one destined to reestablish the throne of David. Concerning this we read, “Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it, with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”—Isa. 9:7

It was in keeping with this that the angel, Gabriel, announced to Mary, the mother of Jesus, “Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”—Luke 1:30-33

David’s Throne

The throne of David, which is given to Jesus, is not literal. Rather, David’s throne, or rulership, was typical of divine authority as it will be exercised throughout the earth by Jesus during the thousand years of his kingdom. David’s rulership was centered on Mount Zion in ancient Jerusalem, and this fact also is utilized in the messianic kingdom symbolisms. Referring to Jesus, Jehovah said, “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.”—Ps. 2:6

And on this symbolic holy hill of Zion there will be associate kings, those who will live and reign with Christ. The Prophet Obadiah refers to these as “saviors [who] shall come up on Mount Zion” at the time when the kingdom shall be the Lord’s. (Obad. 21) And in Revelation 14:1 we read, “A lamb [Jesus] stood on Mount Zion, and with him an hundred and forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads.” Verse four identifies these as those who “follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.”

That these who are with the Lamb on Mount Zion have his Father’s name written in their foreheads indicates they are sons of God. Jesus said concerning those of Israel who believed on him at his first advent that they were given power, right, or privilege to be sons of God. (John 1:11,12) But in the divine plan a fixed number had been predestinated for this high position, and the believers of Israel came short of this number, so God turned to, or “did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name,” a people to be associated with believing Israelites in having the Heavenly Father’s name written in their foreheads.—Acts 15:14

The Law from Zion

We see, then, that the antitypical Mount Zion is in reality Christ Jesus and his footstep followers, exalted to kingdom authority and power, to constitute the spiritual rulers in the messianic kingdom. In the Prophet Micah’s preview of the future, he said, “The law shall go forth of [or, from] Zion.” Thus we might think of Zion as the authoritative and executive phase of that government which will be on the shoulder of the Christ.—Isa. 9:6,7

Micah also wrote that while the Law, the authority of the new kingdom, shall go forth from Zion, the Word of the Lord will go out from Jerusalem. This is a very revealing addition to the kingdom symbolisms. The meaning of symbols must always be taken from the literal circumstances upon which they are based. Mount Zion, was, of course, a part of the city of Jerusalem, and the entire city was considered to be the capital of Israel. Thus the city as a whole would be a general symbol of the kingdom.

While David’s rulership was centered in Mount Zion, doubtless those who participated in the functions of the government lived and served in various parts of the city. Thus we have a symbolic basis for the further truth concerning the kingdom of Christ which is clearly taught in the Scriptures. It is that there will be human representatives of that kingdom, those who will constitute the channel of the Word of the Lord and who will enforce the law that goes forth from Zion. We may, therefore, think of Jerusalem, in contrast with the restricted symbolism of Zion, as referring to the earthly phase of the messianic kingdom.

The work of the earthly phase of the kingdom of God will be confined to the earth and to humanity. Those so highly honored as to have a share in it will be the most exalted and honored of God among men. Those who will constitute this class proved their worthiness for such an exalted position prior to the Gospel Age. Having already been tried and found faithful, when awakened from the sleep of death they will at once receive the reward of their faithfulness. This is the class referred to by Paul as those who endured so much, that they might receive a better resurrection, and who, in the resurrection, will instantly be made perfect as humans.—Heb. 11:35,40

Efficient Service

These Ancient Worthies will minister among and be seen of men, while the glory of their perfection will be a constant example and incentive to other men to strive to attain the same perfection. (Isa. 49:22) That these Ancient Worthies will be in the human phase of the kingdom is fully attested by Jesus’ words to the unbelieving Jews who were rejecting him. He said, “Ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out.”—Luke 13:28

The work of the earthly phase of the kingdom of God will necessitate the establishment of a perfect government among men, with perfect men in positions of control, that they might rightly order the affairs of state. It will necessitate the appointment of proper educational facilities of every character, as well as philanthropic measures of various kinds.

And this noble work of elevating the race by sure and steady steps (under the direction of the unseen spiritual members of the same kingdom) is the high honor to which the Ancient Worthies are appointed, and for which they will come forth prepared, soon after the final wreck of the kingdoms of this world and the binding of Satan, their prince. And as the divinely honored representatives of the heavenly kingdom, they will soon receive the honor and cooperation of all men.

In referring to those who will be seen in the kingdom, Jesus mentions only the outstanding ones of previous ages—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the prophets. In the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, Paul presents a list which includes others, and explains that time would fail him to mention all of those faithful ones of the past. (Heb. 11:32) We learn from Romans 11:4 that in the generation of Israelites served by the Prophet Elijah there were “seven thousand men [who had] not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.” There seems no reason to suppose there would not be a general average of this many faithful ones among Israel throughout that entire age. We mention this point merely to emphasize that the human representatives of Christ and his church will, when raised from the dead, probably number many thousands, and will be abundantly able to direct the affairs of the new government on a worldwide basis.

Besides, as the world of mankind accept this new rulership, and conform their hearts and lives to its perfect standard of righteousness, they also will have the privilege of cooperating in its work. This opportunity will first go to those of the natural seed of Abraham who believe and obey, but will ultimately embrace the people of all nationalities. Isaiah wrote that “all nations shall flow” into the mountain of the Lord.—Isa. 2:2

But to be recognized as in any manner being associated with that new government, the people of all nations and races will have to conform to its ways and walk in the Lord’s paths. (Mic. 4:2) To do this will necessitate, among other things, the beating of swords into plowshares, and spears into pruning-hooks. No such implements of destruction will be needed to enforce respect for, and obedience to, the law that goes forth from Zion.

To gain a place in the earthly phase of the kingdom of God will be to find the gratification of every desire and ambition of the perfect human heart. It will be a glorious and satisfying portion from the first entrance into it, and yet the glory will accumulate as time progresses. And when, at the end of a thousand years, the great work of restitution is accomplished by Christ (in great measure through the agency of those noble human co-workers), those who were instrumental in the work will shine forth among their fellowmen and before God and Christ and the angels, as “the stars forever and ever.” (Dan. 12:3) Their work and labor of love will never be forgotten by their fellowmen. They will be held in everlasting remembrance.—Ps. 112:6

But as great as will be the accumulating glory of these perfect men who will constitute the executive branch of the earthly phase of the kingdom, the glory of the heavenly will be the glory that excelleth. (II Cor. 3:10) While the former will shine as stars forever, the latter will shine as the brightness of the firmament—as the sun. (Dan. 12:3) The honors of heaven as well as of earth shall be laid at the feet of the Christ. The human mind can approximate, but cannot clearly conceive, the glory to be revealed in the Christ through the countless ages of eternity.—Rom. 8:18; Eph. 2:7-13

It is because the authority and power of the divine Christ, exercised through the earthly representatives of the kingdom, will protect and bless the righteous and punish the wicked, that it will then be possible for every man to dwell under his vine and under his fig tree. None will then be permitted by threats of violence, or otherwise, to make afraid. This is what the Lord has promised, and upon his promises we can depend.—Mic. 4:4

Death Destroyed

Even death will be destroyed in the mountain of the Lord. (Isa. 25:6-9) In I Corinthians 15:25,26, the Apostle Paul confirms this. Concerning that future day of the kingdom we also read, “The inhabitant shall not say, I am sick.” (Isa. 33:24) They will not say, I am sick, because the obedient of that time will not be sick, for the “people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity,” provision for this forgiveness having previously been assured through the redemptive work of the Lamb.

The destruction of death implies also the resurrection of those who have died. Paul said that there “shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust.” (Acts 24:15) The just are those who make up the elect classes and are resurrected to immediate perfection—some to the spiritual plane and some on the earthly plane—to serve in the two phases of the kingdom. But all the non-elect, the unjust, are also to be awakened from the sleep of death.

These, Jesus explained, will come forth to a resurrection of judgment, of which the awakening from the sleep of death will be but the first step. (John 5:28,29, RSV) These come forth to judgment (Greek, krisis). If, in facing this crisis they decide to accept the provisions of Jehovah’s grace through Christ, and obey the laws of the messianic kingdom, they will be restored to perfection of human nature, and live forever. If they decide willfully to disobey, they will die.—Acts 3:23

Thus we see that when viewed from the standpoint of the promises of God, the blessings of the coming kingdom of Christ are most encouraging. They are, indeed, the answer to every Christian’s prayer, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” (Matt. 6:10) Let us continue to offer this prayer, and let us also endeavor to be faithful in telling the whole world these good tidings of the kingdom!

Dawn Bible Students Association
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