“Thine Eyes Shall See the King in His Beauty”
—Isaiah 33:17

THROUGHOUT the Old Testament we find many prophecies and promises concerning the coming of a great one whom the Creator would send to be the Redeemer, Savior, and king of all people. One of the prophecies concerning Jesus is that very familiar one, Isaiah 9:6,7: “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.” Here is the portrait of a ruler such as the fallen human race had never seen, and whose rulership has never been experienced.

The end of another year since the birth of Jesus finds the world still floundering in a hopeless state of chaos and confusion. The only thing which it seems can now save the world and the human race itself is some sort of superman, an unselfish one who would be wise enough to map out a new and better course for the people, order his plans put into effect, and have power to enforce his edicts. Convince the world that a ruler like this is on hand to assume authority and he would probably be universally acclaimed.

But this is a great deal to expect, for such a king would, of necessity, have to break with tradition all along the line. He would have to be a king capable of establishing his authority without the necessity of leading millions of the world’s youth into battle to be killed. He would be little different from all the imperfect rulers of the past and present, if he attempted to enforce his decrees under threat of destruction by nuclear bombs. He would have to be a king who would take as much interest in the poor as in the rich, and who would respect the rights of the black man equally with those of the white man.

A king qualified to lead the world out of its present chaos could not be an advocate of one race over another. He would have to be a promoter of the interests of just one race—the human race. Because all people are members of this one race, he would need to be just as interested in the bad as in the good, the uneducated as in the scholars, and—yes—the dead as in the living!

Moreover, such a ruler would have to be very wise—a counselor as well as a judge. He would have to possess the qualities which one of God’s prophets ascribes to the foretold great Messiah of promise. Of this one we read, “The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; and he shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears; but with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.”—Isa. 11:2-5

This is one of the prophetic descriptions of Jesus, whose birth is once more commemorated by millions. No king, no ruler, no government possessing less wisdom and justice and power could hope successfully to assume the rulership of the world today and bring peace and satisfaction to all the people.

Jesus is capable of fulfilling still another prophetic picture. It reads, “Give the king thy judgments, O God, and thy righteousness unto the king’s son. He shall judge thy people with righteousness, and thy poor with judgment The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness. He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor. … In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth. He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.”—Ps. 72:1-8

Not Appreciated

Jesus’ disciples believed that he was the one foretold in this and many other prophecies of the Old Testament. But Jesus did not have an army. He never tried to exalt himself at the expense of others. He was noted for his kindness. He loved all, and was sympathetic even toward the erring. One of the most revealing observations concerning him states that he “went about doing good.”—Acts 10:38

But the world was too evil to appreciate so noble a character. He was hated by the rulers of his day, and the charges brought against him aimed at his life. His own people said that he claimed to be a king, and they brought him before a Roman governor for trial. He was asked by Pilate, “Art thou along then?” To this Jesus replied, “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world.” (John 18:37) In stating this, Jesus knew that in effect he was sentencing himself to death, because such a claim would be considered treason against Caesar.

This kindly, sympathetic, understanding and self-sacrificing servant of the people whose birth the world again commemorates, was a Jew, and when Pilate realized he could do nothing more to save his life, he permitted his soldiers to place a crown of thorns upon his head. Showing Jesus to the people, Pilate exclaimed, “Behold your king!” But in reply the people shouted, “Away with him, crucify him.”

The angel who announced the birth of Jesus declared that he would be a Savior, one who would save the people from their sin. To do this it was necessary that he give his life in sacrifice. Jesus knew this, so he did not resist, and he died the cruel death of the cross. His disciples were perplexed. They believed that Jesus was born to be a great worldwide ruler, but now he was dead. The angelic announcement of his birth, his many miracles, the gracious words which he had spoken, now seemed meaningless.

Later their hopes were revived. Jesus was raised from the dead and the resurrected one explained to two of his disciples on the road to Emmaus that it was necessary for the Messiah to suffer and die before entering into his glory. (Luke 24:25-27) Yes, Jesus’ true disciples at that time soon learned that all the promises of kingdom glory and blessings which they believed Jesus had come to fulfill were not to be realized immediately.

Jesus appeared to his disciples a few times after his resurrection, and at his last appearance they made bold to ask him, “Wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” To this Jesus replied, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”—Acts 1:6-8

The account continues: “When he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”—Acts 1:6-11

Work to Be Done

Much truth is revealed in this incident. First the disciples learned they were not at that time to be given a great deal of information concerning the time elements of God’s great plan of salvation as centered in Christ. Instead of being concerned about time, they were to go forth, after the Holy Spirit came upon them, to be witnesses for Jesus. This witness work was to be worldwide “unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

Jesus had left them. They saw him taken up into heaven, but then two angels appeared and assured them that he would come again. Putting these thoughts together it would not be difficult for them to realize that the work of proclaiming the Gospel of the kingdom worldwide was to be their part in the divine plan during the time Jesus was away. Since it was to be a worldwide proclamation of the Gospel they would know that his coming was not to be soon.

When the Holy Spirit came upon the waiting disciples they embarked on the mission which Jesus had assigned to them. They learned through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit that just as it was necessary for Jesus to suffer and die in order that the world might be blessed through his kingdom, they and all dedicated believers of the present age had the privilege of suffering and dying with him. Indeed, they realized that unless they followed faithfully in his footsteps of suffering even unto death, they could not hope to be associated with him as rulers in his future kingdom.


But as time went on, a spirit of impatience manifested itself among some of Jesus’ followers. They wondered why his kingdom was so long delayed, and seemingly concluded that although he had not returned to them as promised, his kingdom must in some way already be functioning, and that they were sharing that kingdom with him. The Apostle Paul addresses some of these, saying: “Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you.”—I Cor. 4:8

If the time had come for the followers of Jesus to reign with him, Paul knew that he would be reigning—not continuing to suffer and die in the Master’s service. But Paul knew the truth of the divine plan. He knew that the present age is a time of sacrifice and suffering on the part of Jesus’ followers. He knew that the kingdom age of glory was still future. However, the spirit of impatience, and perhaps also of ambition, continued to creep in among the disciples. It resulted in a great falling away from the faith, and the development of a great church/state system which claimed to be reigning with Christ.

By this time, the real significance of the birth of Jesus had been lost to the vast majority of his professed followers. While with their lips they continued to praise him as the promised Prince of Peace, they helped to plunge Europe into its bloodiest period of war in history. For centuries, so-called Christian armies were pitted against one another in deadly combat, with ‘Christian soldiers’ mercilessly killing one another, all in the name of the Prince of Peace.

Not even the angels who announced the birth of Jesus knew all that would be involved before his kingdom of peace would become manifest throughout the world. (I Pet. 1:12) Nearly two thousand years have passed since the Prince of Peace was born, and still the angry factions of earth continue to war against one another, and each year indicate diminishing faith in the divine plan to establish a worldwide government through the one whose birth is commemorated by so many millions.

We Need Patience

Even the Lord’s people, enlightened by present truth, find that they need patience in waiting for the fruition of the divine plan. Of the fact that we are in the “harvest” which is the end of the age (Matt. 13:39), there is no doubt. This calls for faithfulness in continuing to make known the Gospel of the kingdom. This is the harvest message; the glorious message that the kingdom of Messiah is at hand. This glorious theme song of the Bible has now been proclaimed throughout the earth for over a century, and still the harvest work is not finished. This means that not yet are the righteous shining forth “as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”—Matt. 13:43

We can appreciate more fully today than in the past the feelings of the disciples when they asked Jesus, “Wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom again to Israel?” (Acts 1:6) We, also, would like to know when our glorious hope will be consummated in kingdom glory, and when the long-promised blessing of all the families of the earth will commence. The question, “How long, O Lord, how long?” (Rev. 6:10) has no doubt been asked by the Lord’s people throughout the age, and it is now close to our hearts, even though we know that the kingdom is at the door.

How timely is the admonition, “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” (Heb. 10:35-37) Let us indeed maintain our confidence. But to do so we need patience—patient continuance in well-doing—in order to receive the promise; that is, the fulfillment of all God’s gracious promises of joint-heirship with the Prince of Peace in that kingdom which will bring peace, health, and life to all the families of the earth.

A “Little While”

Paul associates his admonition to patient endurance with the return of Christ, saying, “Yet a little while and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” (vs. 37) This is interesting; the entire age from Paul’s time to the return of the Lord is spoken of as “a little while.” And now that he has come, and we are in the harvest with which the age ends, how much more evident it is that only “a little while” intervenes between our harvest labors of today and the kingdom glories of tomorrow!

We do not know how much longer the harvest will continue; the Lord does, and if we are to be with Jesus in the kingdom it is essential that we be faithful to our commission now to proclaim the Gospel of the kingdom, for kingdom honors and kingdom authority are bestowed only upon those who are faithful unto death.

So what should the birth of the Prince of Peace mean to us today? Its commemoration should be a signal to redouble our efforts in doing the Father’s will. It should mean an increased rejoicing in our hope; a rejoicing that will enable us to remain firm unto the end of the way of sacrifice and service. It should remind us afresh of how much mankind really needs the kingdom, and of the blessed privilege we have of telling the whole world the blessed tidings that the kingdom is at hand!

The coming of Jesus was God’s great gift to man. Our appreciation of that gift can be manifested by the giving of our all in the great messianic cause which Jesus came to implement. The angels proclaimed the good tidings that Jesus was born; and now we, as messengers—or angels—have the privilege of continuing that proclamation. Let us be faithful in this while we patiently and actively wait for the glorious consummation of our hope!

Dawn Bible Students Association
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