By C. T. Russell Pastor New York, Washington and Cleveland Temples and the Brooklyn and London Tabernacles
"For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet."—#1Co 15:25.
MANY of us have learned to appreciate a republican form of government as the very highest type of civil administration. I trust that I am not one whit behind the most patriotic of you in my appreciation of the great government of these United States, which many of us believe is the noblest that has yet risen amongst men. Nevertheless, the Bible teaches that Messiah’s Reign will be that of a monarchy; and that it will be very exclusive and aristocratic. Additionally, it will be most autocratic-theocratic; for the will of its subjects will not be consulted in the slightest.
At first, in alarm, we are ready to say, Would not that be a most dangerous condition of things? Could any royal family, however noble and generous, be entrusted with such autocratic power without fear of its being misused for the enslavement of the people, for the aggrandizement of he rulers? Have we not learned this in the history of the past six thousand years? Do we not see the necessity for curtailing and controlling the power of kings and governors? Are we not more and more brought to realize the necessity that the people shall rule, whether in Congress or in Parliament, in Doumas or Chambers of Deputies?
Yes, my dear friends, I heartily accede to all this; but when I describe the nature of its Kingdom and its personnel, all fears will assuredly flee, and you will rejoice exceedingly that the Divine arrangement is what it is in respect to the theocratic Kingdom shortly to be established and to take over the government of the world.
Scripturally it is described as the Fifth Universal Empire of earth. I remind you of King Nebuchadnezzar’s Divinely inspired dream, as interpreted by the Prophet Daniel.
It was of an image majestic, grand. The head of the image was Nebuchadnezzar’s own Kingdom of Babylon, the first to rule the earth. Next, represented in the breast and the arms of silver, came Medo-Persia, the second Universal Empire of earth, conqueror of Babylon. Next, represented in the belly and thighs of the image, came Grecia, the third Universal Empire of earth, which conquered Medo-Persia. Next, represented in the legs of iron, came Rome, the fourth Universal Empire, conqueror of Greece. There are to be no more until Messiah’s Kingdom; it will be the fifth.
Meantime, we have had two attempts at a fifth monarchy, both unsuccessful. One was by the Papacy; the other was that of Napoleon I. During this time the present divisions, which resulted from the breaking up of the Roman Empire, are represented by the feet of the image, with their ten toes.
Smiting the Image’s Feet.
The prophecy declares (#Da 2:44) that in the days of these kings, represented by the toes of the image, the God of Heaven will set up a Kingdom, which shall subdue all the kingdoms and which shall never be overthrown. It shall "be given to the people, saints, of the Most High God,
OV341 and they shall take the Kingdom and possess it forever." (#Da 7:18,27.) In the picture of God’s Kingdom is symbolically represented as a great stone, hewn from the mountain without hands—supernaturally. It shall smite the image in its feet; and forthwith "the iron, the brass, the silver, and the gold shall become like the chaff of a summer threshing floor, and the wind shall carry it away," but the mountain shall increase until "it shall fill the whole earth."
Thus God pictures things now shortly to come to pass. This crushing of the feet of the image was to come in the end of the age, preparatory to the establishment of Messiah’s Kingdom. So long as these governments would be here, they and Messiah’s Kingdom could not co-operate. The Gentile governments are based on selfishness and coercion; Christ’s Kingdom will be based on justice, love, mercy, under the Prince of Peace. The two could not rule at the same time.
The present terrible war is not the great Time of Trouble in the fullest sense of the word, but merely its forerunner. The great Time of Trouble of the Scriptures will be brought on by anarchy—the general uprising of the people: "Every man’s hand against his neighbor, no peace to him that goeth out or to him that cometh in." (#Zech 8:10; 14:13.) Our thought is that this great war will weaken the nations, cripple the world financially, and discredit the rulers in the eyes of their peoples, and thus open the way for anarchy.
Rome and Constantinople represent the two legs of the image which King Nebuchadnezzar saw; for each in turn was the Roman capital and representative of the image. We are certainly justified in watching with considerable interest the present war and what it may lead to in the way of involving all the ten kingdoms represented in this prophecy.
But that is not the special point of interest in my subject; rather, I am discussing the character of Messiah’s Kingdom, which is to rule the world, overthrow Sin and Death, and uplift humanity from ignorance, superstition, sin, weakness and death.
The declaration is that Messiah shall reign until He shall have put down all insubordination, and that the last enemy to be destroyed will be death.—#1Co 15:25,26.
This is the Kingdom for which the Master Himself taught His followers to pray.
Nothing insignificant will be the outcome of that glorious Reign of a thousand years.
At its very beginning Satan will be bound, with all that this signifies—the repression of evil and darkness. For a thousand years the Sun of Righteousness shall pour forth the light of truth and grace upon our poor, fallen race until the knowledge of God’s glory shall fill the whole earth as the waters cover the great deep.—#Hab 2:14.
Eventually, all willful opponents of that Kingdom will die the Second Death, from which there will be no redemption, no recovery. Meantime, all the willing and obedient will be rising, not only from the tomb, but also out of all the weaknesses and frailties of the present time to perfection of life, although they will not live again in this perfect sense until the thousand years shall be finished. After that Reign of Righteousness shall have accomplished its work of delivering the groaning creation from the bondage of corruption, sin and death, Messiah will abdicate the Throne. As it is written, "He will deliver up the Kingdom to God, even the Father, that He may be all in all."
No More Sighing, Crying, Dying.
What a glorious condition will then obtain when there shall be no more crying, no more dying, for all the former things of sin and death shall have passed away! Glad are we that our great Messiah is about to overthrow sin and evil, about to establish righteousness on a permanent and everlasting foundation, which will insure that to all eternity God’s will shall be done as perfectly in this earth as it is now done in Heaven.
OV342 I ask you to consider candidly—you need not reply—Is there a kingdom in the world to-day that in your judgment represents a Divine government amongst men? Is there a perfect government, where God’s will is done as it is done in Heaven? You are conversant with history. You know the bloody record which marks its pages. You know that so-called Christian Europe has been drenched with blood more than any other part of the world. You know that the cause of wrong has triumphed oftener than the cause of right. You know that to-day these kingdoms of Europe, styled kingdoms of God, are destroying one another. You know that great guns, great battleships and monster torpedoes have been prepared by these various nations for use against one another while they all claim to be Christ’s kingdoms. Is this logical? Is this rational?
Most assuredly not!
We must go to the Bible for true information on this subject. It tells us that these kingdoms are not the kingdoms of God, but "Kingdoms of this world." It tells us that Satan is the Prince of this world (#Joh 14:30; #Eph 2:2), that he is "the god of this world," "that now worketh in the hearts of the children of disobedience" —so much more numerous than the children of obedience that he, through them, holds the world’s control. But with equal clearness the Bible declares that he and his reign of Sin and Death are permitted of God for a limited time and a special purpose; and that when the due time comes Messiah will take His great power and reign—then Satan shall be bound, and all the forces of sin and darkness be restrained.
The Election Hath Obtained It.
Come with me and take a cursory view of God’s great work thus far accomplished. For more than two thousand years God gave no clear intimation of His purposes toward the fallen race. Then He made a statement to Abraham, so explicit that St. Paul declares it a statement of the Gospel in advance. God said to Abraham, I shall bless the world.
This could only mean, I shall relieve them of the curse of death which came upon them through Adam’s sin. God added, This blessing I will bring to all mankind through your posterity—"In thy Seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed."
God’s due time for bringing this blessing was not until Messiah should come.
Meantime God gave Abraham’s natural seed the Law Covenant, which offered them eternal life and an inheritance in the Kingdom if they could keep the Law. Of course, they could not do so; for the Law was the measure of a perfect man’s ability, and like the remainder of mankind the Israelites were sinners. Nevertheless their attempt to keep the Law brought them great uplift of heart, so that when Jesus came a considerable number of them were ready to receive Him. They became sons of God, through the begetting of the Holy Spirit, at Pentecost and afterward. These were the Spiritual Seed of Abraham, Jesus being the Head, or first.
Israel had hoped for a share in Messiah’s Kingdom. St. Paul explains, "Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh, but the Election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded." The blinded Israelites are still cast aside, but not forever. The Divine blessing shall come to Natural Israel just as soon as Spiritual Israel shall be completed.—See #Ro 11:7,25.
The Kingdom Suffereth Violence.
What did the "Election" obtain? We answer, They became identified with Messiah’s Kingdom and heirs of the Abrahamic Promise. Note that not a sufficient number of Jews were found worthy to complete the Kingdom class. God had foreseen this, and through the Prophet had promised that some would be gathered from the Gentiles to complete this class. The entire work of the Gospel Age has been the calling of this "elect" company. If we have rightly viewed the matter, the foreordained number will soon have
OV343 been found, and Messiah’s reign begin.
Throughout the Gospel Age, the Kingdom class have been suffering with Christ. Jesus explained this: they are indeed of the Royal Family, because begotten of the Holy Spirit; but they have not yet entered into their glory. They will do so only by the power of the First Resurrection. Thus it is written, "We must all be changed," because "flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God." Partly for their testing, their development takes place in a time when Satan is the Prince of this world, when his power is permitted to be exercised against them as it was against our Lord. The message to these is: "The Kingdom suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." (#Mt 11:12.)
As our Lord suffered violence from the Prince of this world, so will His followers; for "the disciple is not above his Lord." His promise to His followers is, "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life."
"BLESSED ARE THEY WHO HAVE NOT SEEN AND YET HAVE BELIEVED."
CHILD of Mine, I love thee, listen now to Me, And make answer truly while I question thee.
For I see that shadows do thy soul oppress, And thy faith so weakens, that I cannot bless.
Thou hast craved My power and presence in thy soul.
Wilt thou yield thee truly unto My control?
Wilt thou let Me ever with thee have My way, Yield thyself in all things simply to obey?
Though My presence ofttimes seem to be withdrawn, Of Mine inward workings not a trace be shown, Wilt thou count Me present notwithstanding all, Still believe I’m working ever in thy soul?
When I give to others what I thee deny, Flood them with My sunshine, wholly pass thee by, Wilt thou still believe in My strong love for thee, Yield thee to My purpose whatsoe’er it be?
When I to thy pleadings seem no heed to pay, And thy foes grow bolder, claim thee as their prey, Though toward thee I’m silent, wilt thou stand the test, On My Word of promise lay thee down to rest?
If to these My questions thou canst answer "Yes," Thou shalt be forever one I love the best.
To the inner circle of My favored few, Thou shalt be admitted, and My glory view.