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The kingdom of God is in the midst of you. Or is it?

The coming of the kingdom of God in the Synoptic Gospels is, in my view, entirely a cataclysmic future public event. This event would not happen very soon, from Jesus’ point of view, but some of his followers would certainly live to witness it. It is closely linked, in Jesus’ apocalyptic story-telling, with the coming of the Son of Man. I am not trying to push any particular theological position here. I am recommending a historical judgment: this language, in this context, under these conditions, could only have pointed to decisive political events within a realistic historical timeframe, in a foreseeable future.

But what about Jesus’ response to the Pharisees in Luke 17:21: “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you”? Doesn’t this mean that Jesus thought that the kingdom was both present and future, both now and not yet?

The exegetical difficulties presented by this verse are considerable. Does entos humōn mean “within you” or “in your midst” or perhaps “within your reach”? How does it contrast with meta paratērēseōs (“with observation”) in the preceding verse? Is the verb estin a proper present or a futuristic present like erchetai (“is coming”) in verse 20?

I suggest, however, that the key to understanding what Jesus is saying here lies in the relation between this response to the Pharisees and what, according to Luke’s telling of the story, Jesus then goes on to say to the disciples:

The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. And they will say to you, ‘Look, there!’ or ‘Look, here!’ Do not go out or follow them. For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. (Lk. 17:22–24)

A time of tribulation is coming when the disciples will desire to see the time of the Son of Man. But before they will see “one of the days of the Son of Man”, he “must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation”; and divine judgment will come upon this unsuspecting generation, just as catastrophic judgment came upon humanity “in the days of Noah” or on Sodom “in the days of Lot”. Only then will the Son of Man be revealed (Lk. 17:25-30).

It seems to me that whatever Jesus means by his words to the Pharisees in response to their question about the coming of the kingdom of God, it must anticipate in some way this warning to the disciples that the Son of Man will not be vindicated until this period of tribulation has worked itself out.

I wonder, therefore, whether we should not understand the statement as a word of condemnation against the Pharisees. The kingdom of God is not something that the Pharisees will watch with detachment when it comes—as they have been watching (paratēreō) Jesus in the hope of catching him out (Lk. 6:7; 14:1; 20:20). The kingdom of God has to do with them. They will be on the receiving end, so to speak. The Pharisees represent the wrong-headed generation of Jews which will suffer a disaster comparable to the flood or the destruction of Sodom.

This is close to Bultmann’s argument: “when the kingdom comes, no-one will ask and search for it any more, but it will be there on a sudden in the midst of the foolish ones who will still want to calculate its arrival” (R. Bultmann, The History of the Synoptic Tradition, 121-22). Nolland also thinks that the reference is to a “sudden arrival of the kingdom of God”, though he does not make the historical connection. He sees no objection to taking estin futuristically, and treats entos humōn ‘idiomatically as conveying the idea of the kingdom of God being “right there” ’. The interpretation is not without its problems, but it does best justice to Luke’s “evident concern” to link the words to the Pharisees with the words to the disciples (J. Nolland, Luke 9:21-18:34, 853-54).

Having said all this, I do think it’s important to recognize that things that happen in the ministry of Jesus and of his followers constitute important pointers to what is to come. The exorcisms and healings are tangible, life-giving signs of the transformation that is to come; the embrace of lepers and tax collectors and other undesirables is a sign of a reconciliation to come; and so. To that extent, in that particular sense, the “now and not yet” formula remains viable. But the event itself is firmly in the future.

Comments

Thanks Andrew. The “suddeness”of the arrival of the Kingdom is apparrent, when read in light of the Lot and Noah references ( while “eating/drinking” then…BOOM). I can see how Jesus could have made the connection vis-a-vis his sparring with the Pharisees

But the exegetical cobwebs are daunting indeed. And ones’ hermeneutical goggle of choice pretty much dicatates what you come away with, especially with confounding passages such as these. I remember chatting about Mark 9:1 ( “some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power…”) with a reformed “big-dog”. Without blinking, he systematized and teleported that reference to the goings on in the upper room in Acts !

I was reading Matthew today and I’m curious how you interpret 11:11-15. What is this violence and what is the time period? “From John til now” seems like a very short period of time, but then Jesus goes on to talk about the prophets, all in the context of the kingdom.

That the coming kingdom of God preached by Jesus in the gospels would be invisible (i.e., spiritual or heavenly and not visible, of the flesh, or earthly) is clearly evidenced in the Luke 17:20-21 exchange. The “now” is the kingdom in Him; the “not yet” is the kingdom to come in his followers deemed worthy. His fundamental point to the Pharisees was, “If you don’t recognize it in me, how will you recognize it when it comes in others?”

The kingdom cannot be recognized by its opponents. They are blind to it. However, for its adherents, the very opposition they receive is a sign of its presence in them.

Mike, I really don’t see what you’re getting at with this distinction between a visible and an invisible kingdom. What are you trying to say here? I directly addressed the popular dichotomy between a spiritual and a physical kingdom in this post, but you have not taken that into account.

How does this comment relate to what I wrote about Luke 17:20-21 in the post? Are you agreeing with me or disagreeing? And how on earth do you establish this distinction between the kingdom come in Jesus and the kingdom to come in his disciples?

Mike, I really don’t see what you’re getting at with this distinction between a visible and an invisible kingdom. What are you trying to say here?

Andrew, I thought I was quite straightforward. I don’t see the passage as the exegetical conundrum that you do. I will paraphrase: Jesus was telling the Pharisees, “You guys are asking me when the kingdom of God is coming and you don’t recognize it when it’s right in front of your eyes.” The kingdom of God comes to be obeyed, not observed.

I directly addressed the popular dichotomy between a spiritual and a physical kingdom in this post, but you have not taken that into account.

I have read that post, Andrew, but I don’t see how “ditching the physical/spiritual distinction” is helpful…or even biblical, for that matter. The question is whether Jesus comes visibly (physically) or invisibly (spiritually). Either way, it should have “real world impact.”

How does this comment relate to what I wrote about Luke 17:20-21 in the post?

I thought you were making the passage more complicated than it needed to be, so I offered a simpler explanation.

Are you agreeing with me or disagreeing?

I agree with many things you say and I like the way you bring a fresh perspective to the reading of the Scriptures. However, your writing about the coming of the kingdom of God seems fuzzy to me and so I’m trying to sharpen either my understanding or your expression, or both.

And how on earth do you establish this distinction between the kingdom come in Jesus and the kingdom to come in his disciples?

This doesn’t seem obvious to you? Are we not to be like Him? Is not the whole purpose of the kingdom of God for us to imitate Him and reflect His glory? As He obeyed the Father so we should obey Him (John 20:21).

P.S. For clarity’s sake let me add that I believe the coming of the kingdom of God occurred exactly when Jesus said it would - that is, within the generation of His contempories. This would make it what we today call the late first century C.E. I believe that His coming was spiritual (i.e. invisible) but that it had, and continues to have, “real world impact” as you call it.

The essential theme of my belief is that God is faithful - He kept His promises.

When the diciples asked Jesus in Acts chapter one “Lord is now the time you will restore your kingdom?” He did not say “haven’t you been paying attention? The kingdom is set up in the hearts of believers!” he instead said “no man knoweth the day or the hour”. I think the <a href=”http://bibliocentric.com/” title=”Biblical Worldview”>Biblical Worldview</a> is clear, the kingdomis a literal yet future event.

Josh

Josh,

Acts 1:7 (like 1 Thess 5:1) is an admonition to avoid the sort of detached observation of which the Luke 17 Pharisees were guilty. Spectating the political landscape and seeking the kingdom of God were, and still are, mutually exclusive occupations.

Nothing in this admonition could possibly be at odds with the timeframe for the coming of the kingdom given by Jesus and consistently affirmed by all the New Testament writers. If you don’t think the first-century disciples of Jesus expected the coming of the kingdom in that century then you’ve been reading too little of the New Testament and too many books about the New Testament.

Mike,

Thanks for your response but i have to respectfully disagree. The context of the first seven verses of Acts Ch. 1 is Jesus talking to his diciples about the kingdom for not one, not two but forty days! At the end of that disertation the Diciples ask a very good question; “Jesus when is this kingdom going to come to fruition?” and Jesus tells them that no man knoweth the hour. Your point about the apostles looking for the kingdom in the very century is spot on and in light of the abundance of new testiment evidance to substantiate that claim I wouldn’t argue that point, nor would i want to! The apostles were waiting for the return of the messiah (Acts 1:11). Thus in the pauline epistles we have Paul telling the various churches to be on the look out for the return (1 Thess. 4:16). Furthermore the idea that the kingdom was fufilled by first century events is abstract to say the least, Jesus was not reigning on the throne of David, the nations were not coming to zion for healing, satan was not bound, the list goes on. The point is the clear teaching of scripture about all the things that would mark the kingdom certainly did not take place in the first century, ergo we still await the return of the king to inagurate his kingdom.

Now i say all that to say this. Im not one for losing firends or picking fights over eschatalogical issues, (only soteriological ones right?). I hope this is simply food for thought.

Your brother in Christ

[email protected] Bibliocentric.com

Josh,

Thanks for your gracious spirit, and for your food for thought.

Allow me to reciprocate:

Jesus was not reigning on the throne of David, the nations were not coming to zion for healing, satan was not bound, the list goes on.

The throne of David is precisely what Jesus was occupying in New Testament days. Thus the apostolic reference to Amos in Acts 15 which spoke of the restored Davidic dynasty.

The nations were indeed streaming to Zion. Thus Heb 12 is the writer’s affirmation that he and his contemporaries believed they were living in fulfillment of Is 2 (Mic 4). And though 1 Cor 12-14 does not explicitly reference Zion, the similarity of imagery and purpose of gathering is undeniable.

Satan indeed was bound for a time. Thus Paul in 1 Cor 5 equates being put outside the church as being put back into his power.

The NT church was spiritual Israel (Gal 6:16). At His coming, Jesus surrendered this kingdom of Israel (1 Cor 15:24) that He might receive the kingdom of God. In other words, Jesus went from being King of Israel to being King of the Universe.

Should you reject this perspective, consider that we can remain united in our belief that Jesus is Lord and worthy of all devotion. May we all become more like Him in thought, word, and deed.

Mike,

I’m just not seeing it my firend. 1 Cor. 5 is in the context of church dicipline and talks about turning one over to the power of Satan, it has nothing to do with a “periodic limitation of authoirity”. Furthermore it is a bit of a stetch to say that Acts 15 is an anouncement of the reestablishment of the throne of David, rather, if you look at the context James quotes that verse to prove that gentiles were actually in God’s plan of Salvation. In addition, one more aspect of the kingdom to tak into consideration is that Israel was suppossed to be at peace during this time as per Isaiah 2:4. If your saying that the kingdom was reestablished in the first century, but then Jerusalem was leveled in 70 AD, that was a short reign indeed! The kingdom was suppossed to last for a thousand years was it not? Furthermore Revelation 20:2 taks about satan being bound for a thousand years aswell, we are not saying that he didn;t get out untill the middle ages are we (a bit tongue and cheek I know but i laughed when i wrote it lol)?!

We must not allegorize or spiritualize these things, this would do the word of God a great diservice! The only way to interpret scripture is the literal/historical approach. Genesis one means six days, Isaih 2 means ational corporate peace, Revelation 20:2 means literally bound for a thousand years, and Amos9:11,and 12 means the true throne of David in literal Jerusalem (not in our hearts). Of course I realize we may be at an impass, and I realize we may both be entirly mistaken. To quote Paul Washer “Maybe the post-milenialists got it right after all” (I rather doubt it though).

Your friend

Josh

Andrew,

But what about Jesus’ response to the Pharisees in Luke 17:21: “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you”? Doesn’t this mean that Jesus thought that the kingdom was both present and future, both now and not yet?”

Yes. The Kingdom came with Jesus but it was consummated in AD 70. This was the transition period of the Covenants, the Kingdom, the ending of “age” and the establishment of the “age to come”, etc etc. This was Israel’s 40 years in the wilderness. This 40 years was the time Ishmeal (fleshly Israel) and Issac (spiritual Israel) lived together ending with Ishmael being “cast out” (AD 70) so Issac could recieve the inhertance ( Gal. 4:21:-31). “The exegetical difficulties presented by this verse are considerable”, not really. It’s pretty clear to many, one merely has to have willing ears to listen. Try Max King’s book The Spirit of Prophecy, which containes a really good chapter on the Kingdom of God.

Rich,

If you will read Matt 24 carefully you will see that Jesus described the destruction of Jerusalem not as the coming of the kingdom itself but as a sign that the coming of the kingdom was quite near. In fact, it was the apostasy that would be concurrent with and subsequent to Jerusalem’s demise that would be the final preparatory sign of the coming kingdom. This was affirmed prophetically by Paul in 2 Thess 2:2 and confirmed as having arrived by John in 1 John 2:18.

For some reason, many who rightly believe that the kingdom came in the first century wrongly tie it immediately and completely to the destruction of Jerusalem. That doesn’t do justice to Jesus’ more nuanced timetable.

Mike,

Daniel foretold the time when God would establish the eternal Kingdom.

Dan. 2:44-45
44 And in the days of those kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall the sovereignty thereof be left to another people; but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. 45 Forasmuch as thou sawest that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure.

“In the days of those kings” is a direct reference to the forth kingdom, which was the Rome Empire.

That narrows it down a bit.

Mark 9:1, “And He said to them, ‘Assuredly I say to you, that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power” (see also Matt. 16:27-28, Lk. 9:26-27).

That puts it in the generation of those in the first century.

Narrows it down futher.

Matthew 24:30
and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

Matthew is clear Christ’s coming was to be in that generation (24:34), in the destruction of Jerusalem (24:1-3); the judgment – surely you see the judgment in Matthew 24.

Paul in 2 Tim. 4:1 states,

“I charge thee in the sight of God, and of Christ Jesus, who shall judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom

Paul makes the concrete connection between:

1) the coming of the kingdom
2) the judgment
3) Christ’s appearing (coming).

This is further confirmed in Revelation 2:25-28 when the promise of the saints reigning with Christ was predicated upon their overcoming and remaining faithful until Christ came. They would then be given power over the nations which fulfills Daniel’s prophecy of the saint’s possessing the Kingdom at Christ second coming. See Daniel 7:21-22 & 27.

In addition Rev. 11:15-18 states:
15 Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.”16 And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God,17 saying, “We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was, for you have taken your great power and begun to reign.18 The nations raged, but your wrath came, and the time for the dead to be judged, and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints, and those who fear your name, both small and great, and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.”

Here we are told the coming of Christ was his coming in His Kingdom & Judgment. Of course this agrees with Paul’s statement in 2 Tim. 4:1 as we would expect.

Again, the Kingdom came in Jesus (30’s). Its consummation was established in AD 70 in the destruction of Jerusalem. This was the time of transition (Gal. 4:21-31).

Rich,

There is much you say here with which I can agree. However, the parts on which we disagree are not likely to be resolved here.

I would only leave you with what I hope would elicit your “amen,” which is that Jesus is Lord and the more we obey Him, the better.

Jesus deciples asked him about his coming…. Jesus gave them physical signs to watch out for of ” his presence” why give physical signs if everyone will see him?

We are witnessing these signs today, they are like a fingerprint that distinguishes the time period we have seen since the last 100 yrs or so. Jesus did not take up his Kingship when he returned to heaven …for he sat down ….waiting till his enemies be made a footstool. When he was to take up the Kingship the first thing that was done, Satan was to be ousted to earth from heaven ….woe to the earth ….for he is like a roaring lion waiting to devour someone. We can see Satan is at work now! We know Jesus is King! We see the signs he gave! He has returned as King, turned his attention to the earth to see out these last days, to destroy the wicked and establish Peace and security to the earth. His return is witnessed by signs. He said be careful dont believe those who say here is the Christ or there is the Christ, why? because he gave his life as a ransom for us, a price he paid which can never be taken back. He said ” seek first the Kingdom” and “preach the good news of the Kingdom” The kingdom is Gods righteous government by which he will sanctify his name and vindicate his sovereignty. It is established now in the heavens with Jesus as King. It will destroy all earthly goverments and establish peace. The last days are here, time is running out, the generation witnessing the signs will by no means pass away till ALL these things ocurr and that means Armageddon …. Gods war. There will be survivors though through that time! Ones who will live through the events of the end of this system.

food for thought! if Adam had not sinned he would still have been alive today would he not! Gen2v17 Thats what God intended for all humans….to have life! not death on EARTH Gen1v28 . He intended humans to live for ever on EARTH where he made them. Ps 37v9,11,29. Mat 6v6 The actions of the first human pair could not in any way influence his intentions, God was and is the Master planner. What a plan! to ransom back the world by means of his son, so that all could gain what Adam lost. Life everlasting on earth! and yes some have been invited to live in heaven, they are a “little flock”. See Rev.

Paul,

wow, you have so much in error that compounds on itself as one progresses through what you wrote I certainly can’t even begin to address it all outside writing a book. We’ll just have to leave it at that. My only word of encourgement to you would be to run as far away from furturism and dispensationalism as you can get. You might start with the book Beyond Creation Science by Tim Martin. In the least you’ll expand your mind abit. You can always disagree, but at least you’ll get food for thought. Heck, you might also start with Andrew’s book The Coming of the Son of Man. He has much that is right in it.

Peace.

See Dan 4 concerning the kingdom. it tells when it was going to be established. Gods last installed King was overthrown in 607 bce. the beginning of the apointed times of the nations. ” the tree was cut down and banded till the rightful king would return and be installed” ,that King was Jesus Christ. Daniel says let 7 times rule over the banded tree so if we knew when 7times was then we would know when the Kingdom was established. see Rev 12v6,14 1260 days represented 3 1/2 times so 7 times was 2520 days … these are days of years so from 607 BCE 2520 years will bring you till 1914 , remember there is no year 0. Daniel tells us that the Kingdom was set up in heaven that year, evidence of the signs witnessed since proves it, Jesus gave physical signs to his deciples of his presence , the exact ones we see today,satan was ousted from heaven when Jesus was made King, we can see that is so since the turn of the 20th century. Dan 2v44 has come true ” in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a Kingdom”. The Kingdom is Gods government established in the heavens where it will never be overthrown, installed to bring peace to the earth as God intended. Ps37v29.isiah 45v18.

Jesus said ” the world will see me no more” and he will come as you see me go “ Jesus went back to heaven disappeared in a CLOUD he will “return” in the same way… invisible presence “seen” by physical events.

Paul,

“Jesus said ” the world will see me no more” and he will come as you see me go “ Jesus went back to heaven disappeared in a CLOUD he will “return” in the same way… invisible presence “seen” by physical events.”

We agree 100% on this part. However, the “seen” events for me were clearly in the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, just as the Prophets foretold and just as Jesus stated (Matthew 24). The “cloud” language he employed was the exact same “coming on the clouds” language employed in the OT when God said he was “coming on the clouds” when he judged other nations. ie. Babylon, Assyria, Egypt. People who take it literally merely show their complete ignorance in Hebraic thought and understanding of their literature (which is full of hyperbole, among other forms of literary communication), which is the biggest problem in the Church today. On that note, the most blatant example of that is reading Genesis’ record of “creation” in such a manner. It’s account has nothing to do with the creation of the physical world/universe. It has everything to do with the creation of covenant; Israel’s covenantal “heaven and earth” referred to throughout the Scriptures which ended in AD 70 and replaced with a new H&E. Many scholars are finally starting to see this, for example, see John Walton in The Lost World of Genesis One. However, even Walton still tried to apply it to the physical universe. If he had a proper eschatology he would probably finally make the connection, but, he stated to me he has no interest in eschatology. What a shame. He’s so close

Concerning Daniel, you are way off. The phrase “in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a Kingdom” clearly limits it to within a standing Roman empire, and that ended in the 400’s, 476 I believe, a bit fuzzy in my memory. There are other Daniel passages though that narrow it down even further, such as Dan. 12:7, which puts it at AD 70, but that is beyond what can be presented here. Really, all one needs to do is listen to Jesus. He stated “this generation will not pass away until all these things take place” (Matthew 24:34). Part of Matthew 24’s “all” is Daniel’s prophecies (Matthew 24:15). It’s all very clear. One just needs to accept what the passages say.

Anyway, peace to you.

according to what Submitted by Rich
I have considered you post, and your arguments are good , where has Paul’s arguments have few thing like year 607 that have no solid ground with history. His argument sound like docrine of Jw.

There is a large weight of evidence that can be used to prove 607 B.C. wrong.
There are numerous ways used to determine that Jerusalem fell in 587 B.C. there are Tens of thousands of detailed Economic-administrative and legal documents have been unearthed outlining daily, monthly and yearly occurrences during the reign of the Babylonian kings.
We need to have a open minded, to make research on dates of events. than to have a narrow mind.
Point 2 : when jesus use term like “sheeps, goats, fruits, grass, trees, vigne, virgins, slaves, maters, bread, wine, and kingdom (as well kingdom comparation) etc…” He was not take these expressions has there were.
Many people believe that God’s kingdom is a gouvernement. Well is that what the bible really tell us. if Is a gouvenement why will it have many kings ? where as the OT tell us that there is only one GOD, and he will not and ever give his golry to no body.
“I am the LORD; that is my name. I will not give my glory to anyone else or the praise I deserve to idols.”
Question : how many kings with jesus will be ruling over the earth (think) since there is only 195 country on the earth with at less 1 ruler.
I recall some door knockers tell me 144000. Well that a lot of kings so then God will have to share his glory. Why? also Then that means to have 740 kings ruler in heaven over one country.
Would you like to have 740 heavenly kings ruling over you or would you prefered one king Isaiah 42:8?
Want do you think ?

Ok. So much to give feedback on. Let’s do this in depth. 607 0r 587 the fall of Jerusalem?
When Was Ancient Jerusalem Destroyed?​—Part One

Why It Matters; What the Evidence Shows

This is the first of two articles in consecutive issues of The Watchtower that discuss scholarly questions surrounding the date of the destruction of ancient Jerusalem. This two-part series presents thoroughly researched and Bible-based answers to questions that have puzzled some readers.

“According to historians and archaeologists, 586 or 587 B.C.E. is generally accepted as the year of Jerusalem’s destruction.* Why do Jehovah’s Witnesses say that it was 607 B.C.E.? What is your basis for this date?”

SO WROTE one of our readers. But why be interested in the actual date when Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II razed the city of Jerusalem? First, because the event marked an important turning point in the history of God’s people. One historian said that it led to “a catastrophe, indeed the ultimate catastrophe.” The date marked the end of a temple that had been at the heart of the worship of Almighty God for more than 400 years. “O God,” lamented a Bible psalmist, “they have dishonored your holy temple. They have left Jerusalem in ruins.”​—Psalm 79:1, God’s Word Bible.*

Second, because knowing the actual year when this “ultimate catastrophe” began and understanding how the restoration of true worship in Jerusalem fulfilled a precise Bible prophecy will build your confidence in the reliability of God’s Word. So why do Jehovah’s Witnesses hold to a date that differs from widely accepted chronology by 20 years? In short, because of evidence within the Bible itself.

“Seventy Years” for Whom?

Years before the destruction, the Jewish prophet Jeremiah provided an essential clue to the time frame given in the Bible. He warned “all those living in Jerusalem,” saying: “This whole country will become a desolate wasteland, and these nations will serve the king of Babylon seventy years.” (Jeremiah 25:1, 2, 11, New International Version) The prophet later added: “This is what Jehovah has said, ‘In accord with the fulfilling of seventy years at Babylon I shall turn my attention to you people, and I will establish toward you my good word in bringing you back to this place.’” (Jeremiah 29:10) What is the significance of the “seventy years”? And how does this time period help us to determine the date of Jerusalem’s destruction?

Instead of saying 70 years “at Babylon,” many translations read “for Babylon.” (NIV) Some historians therefore claim that this 70-year period applies to the Babylonian Empire. According to secular chronology, the Babylonians dominated the land of ancient Judah and Jerusalem for some 70 years, from about 609 B.C.E. until 539 B.C.E. when the capital city of Babylon was captured.

The Bible, however, shows that the 70 years were to be a period of severe punishment from God​—aimed specifically at the people of Judah and Jerusalem, who were in a covenant to obey him. (Exodus 19:3-6) When they refused to turn from their bad ways, God said: “I will summon … Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon … against this land and its inhabitants and against all the surrounding nations.” (Jeremiah 25:4, 5, 8, 9, NIV) While nearby nations would also suffer Babylon’s wrath, the destruction of Jerusalem and the 70-year exile to follow were called by Jeremiah “the punishment of my people,” for Jerusalem had “sinned greatly.”​—Lamentations 1:8; 3:42; 4:6, NIV.

So according to the Bible, the 70 years was a period of bitter punishment for Judah, and God used the Babylonians as the instrument for inflicting this severe chastisement. Yet, God told the Jews: “When seventy years are completed, … I will … bring you back to this place”​—the land of Judah and Jerusalem.​—Jeremiah 29:10, NIV.

When Did “the Seventy Years” Start?

The inspired historian Ezra, who lived after the 70 years of Jeremiah’s prophecy were fulfilled, wrote of King Nebuchadnezzar: “He carried into exile to Babylon the remnant, who escaped from the sword, and they became servants to him and his sons until the kingdom of Persia came to power. The land enjoyed its sabbath rests; all the time of its desolation it rested, until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah.”​—2 Chronicles 36:20, 21, NIV.

Thus, the 70 years were to be a period when the land of Judah and Jerusalem would enjoy “sabbath rests.” This meant that the land would not be cultivated​—there would be no sowing of seed or pruning of vineyards. (Leviticus 25:1-5, NIV) Because of the disobedience of God’s people, whose sins may have included a failure to observe all the Sabbath years, the punishment was that their land would remain unworked and deserted for 70 years.​—Leviticus 26:27, 32-35, 42, 43.

When did the land of Judah become desolated and unworked? Actually, the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar attacked Jerusalem twice, years apart. When did the 70 years commence? Certainly not following the first time that Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem. Why not? Although at that time Nebuchadnezzar took many captives from Jerusalem to Babylon, he left others behind in the land. He also left the city itself standing. For years after this initial deportation, those left remaining in Judah, “the lowly class of the people,” lived off their land. (2 Kings 24:8-17) But then things drastically changed.

A Jewish revolt brought the Babylonians back to Jerusalem. (2 Kings 24:20; 25:8-10) They razed the city, including its sacred temple, and they took many of its inhabitants captive to Babylon. Within two months, “all the people [who had been left behind in the land] from the least to the greatest, together with the army officers, fled to Egypt for fear of the Babylonians.” (2 Kings 25:25, 26, NIV) Only then, in the seventh Jewish month, Tishri (September/​October), of that year could it be said that the land, now desolate and unworked, began to enjoy its Sabbath rest. To the Jewish refugees in Egypt, God said through Jeremiah: “You have seen all the disaster that I brought upon Jerusalem and upon all the cities of Judah. Behold, this day they are a desolation, and no one dwells in them.” (Jeremiah 44:1, 2, English Standard Version) So this event evidently marked the starting point of the 70 years. And what year was that? To answer, we need to see when that period ended.

When Did “the Seventy Years” End?

The prophet Daniel, who lived until “the kingdom of Persia came to power,” was on the scene in Babylon, and he calculated when the 70 years were due to end. He wrote: “I, Daniel, perceived in the books the number of years that, according to the word of the LORD to Jeremiah the prophet, must pass before the end of the desolations of Jerusalem, namely, seventy years.”​—Daniel 9:1, 2, ESV.

Ezra reflected on the prophecies of Jeremiah and linked the end of “the seventy years” to the time when “the LORD moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation.” (2 Chronicles 36:21, 22, NIV) When were the Jews released? The decree ending their exile was issued in “the first year of Cyrus the king of Persia.” (See the box “A Pivotal Date in History.”) Thus, by the fall of 537 B.C.E., the Jews had returned to Jerusalem to restore true worship.​—Ezra 1:1-5; 2:1; 3:1-5.

According to Bible chronology, then, the 70 years was a literal period of time that ended in 537 B.C.E. Counting back 70 years, the start date of the period would be 607 B.C.E.

But if the evidence from the inspired Scriptures clearly points to 607 B.C.E. for Jerusalem’s destruction, why do many authorities hold to the date 587 B.C.E.? They lean on two sources of information​—the writings of classical historians and the canon of Ptolemy. Are these sources more reliable than the Scriptures? Let us see.

Classical Historians​—How Accurate?

Historians who lived close to the time when Jerusalem was destroyed give mixed information about the Neo-Babylonian kings.* (See the box “Neo-Babylonian Kings.”) The time line based on their chronological information disagrees with that of the Bible. But just how reliable are their writings?

One of the historians who lived closest to the Neo-Babylonian period was Berossus, a Babylonian “priest of Bel.” His original work, the Babyloniaca, written about 281 B.C.E., has been lost, and only fragments are preserved in the works of other historians. Berossus claimed that he used “books which had been preserved with great care at Babylon.”1 Was Berossus really an accurate historian? Consider one example.

Berossus wrote that Assyrian King Sennacherib followed “the reign of [his] brother”; and “after him his son [Esarhaddon ruled for] 8 years; and thereafter Sammuges [Shamash-shuma-ukin] 21 years.” (III, 2.1, 4) However, Babylonian historical documents written long before Berossus’ time say that Sennacherib followed his father, Sargon II, not his brother, to the throne; Esarhaddon ruled for 12 years, not 8; and Shamash-shuma-ukin ruled for 20 years, not 21. Scholar R. J. van der Spek, while acknowledging that Berossus consulted the Babylonian chronicles, wrote: “This did not prevent him from making his own additions and interpretations.”2

How do other scholars view Berossus? “In the past Berossus has usually been viewed as a historian,” states S. M. Burstein, who made a thorough study of Berossus’ works. Yet, he concluded: “Considered as such his performance must be pronounced inadequate. Even in its present fragmentary state the Babyloniaca contains a number of surprising errors of simple fact … In a historian such flaws would be damning, but then Berossus’ purpose was not historical.”3

In view of the foregoing, what do you think? Should Berossus’ calculations really be viewed as consistently accurate? And what about the other classical historians who, for the most part, based their chronology on the writings of Berossus? Can their historical conclusions really be called reliable?

The Canon of Ptolemy

The Royal Canon of Claudius Ptolemy, a second-century C.E. astronomer, is also used to support the traditional date 587 B.C.E. Ptolemy’s list of kings is considered the backbone of the chronology of ancient history, including the Neo-Babylonian period.

Ptolemy compiled his list some 600 years after the Neo-Babylonian period ended. So how did he determine the date when the first king on his list began to reign? Ptolemy explained that by using astronomical calculations based in part on eclipses, “we have derived to compute back to the beginning of the reign of Nabonassar,” the first king on his list.4 Thus, Christopher Walker of the British Museum says that Ptolemy’s canon was “an artificial scheme designed to provide astronomers with a consistent chronology” and was “not to provide historians with a precise record of the accession and death of kings.”5

“It has long been known that the Canon is astronomically reliable,” writes Leo Depuydt, one of Ptolemy’s most enthusiastic defenders, “but this does not automatically mean that it is historically dependable.” Regarding this list of kings, Professor Depuydt adds: “As regards the earlier rulers [who included the Neo-Babylonian kings], the Canon would need to be compared with the cuneiform record on a reign by reign basis.”6

What is this “cuneiform record” that enables us to measure the historical accuracy of Ptolemy’s canon? It includes the Babylonian chronicles, lists of kings, and economic tablets​—cuneiform documents written by scribes who lived during, or near, Neo-Babylonian times.7

How does Ptolemy’s list compare with that cuneiform record? The box “How Does Ptolemy’s Canon Compare With Ancient Tablets?” (see below) shows a portion of the canon and compares this with an ancient cuneiform document. Notice that Ptolemy lists only four kings between the Babylonian rulers Kandalanu and Nabonidus. However, the Uruk King List​—a part of the cuneiform record—​reveals that seven kings ruled in between. Were their reigns brief and negligible? One of them, according to cuneiform economic tablets, ruled for seven years.8

There is also strong evidence from cuneiform documents that prior to the reign of Nabopolassar (the first king of the Neo-Babylonian period), another king (Ashur-etel-ilani) ruled for four years in Babylonia. Also, for more than a year, there was no king in the land.9 Yet, all of this is left out of Ptolemy’s canon.

Why did Ptolemy omit some rulers? Evidently, he did not consider them to be legitimate rulers of Babylon.10 For example, he excluded Labashi-Marduk, a Neo-Babylonian king. But according to cuneiform documents, the kings whom Ptolemy omitted actually ruled over Babylonia.

In general, Ptolemy’s canon is regarded as accurate. But in view of its omissions, should it really be used to provide a definite historical chronology?

The Conclusion Based on This Evidence

To sum up: The Bible clearly states that there was an exile of 70 years. There is strong evidence​—and most scholars agree—​that the Jewish exiles were back in their homeland by 537 B.C.E. Counting back from that year would place Jerusalem’s destruction in 607 B.C.E. Though the classical historians and the canon of Ptolemy disagree with this date, valid questions can be raised about the accuracy of their writings. Really, those two lines of evidence hardly provide enough proof to overturn the Bible’s chronology.

However, further questions remain. Is there really no historical evidence to support the Bible-based date of 607 B.C.E.? What evidence is revealed by datable cuneiform documents, many of which were written by ancient eyewitnesses? We will consider these questions in our next issue.

[Footnotes]

Both years are mentioned in secular sources. For simplicity, we will refer to 587 B.C.E. in this series. B.C.E. means “Before the Common Era.”

Jehovah’s Witnesses produce a reliable Bible translation known as the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures. However, if you are not one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, you may prefer to use other translations when considering Bible subjects. This article quotes from a number of widely accepted Bible translations.

The Neo-Babylonian Empire began with the reign of Nebuchadnezzar’s father, Nabopolassar, and ended with the reign of Nabonidus. This time period is of interest to scholars because it covers most of the 70 years of desolation.

[Box/​Pictures on page 28]

A PIVOTAL DATE IN HISTORY

The date 539 B.C.E. when Cyrus II conquered Babylon is calculated using the testimony of:

▪ Ancient historical sources and cuneiform tablets: Diodorus of Sicily (c. 80-20 B.C.E.) wrote that Cyrus became king of Persia in “the opening year of the Fifty-fifth Olympiad.” (Historical Library, Book IX, 21) That year was 560 B.C.E. The Greek historian Herodotus (c. 485-425 B.C.E.) stated that Cyrus was killed “after he had reigned twenty-nine years,” which would put his death during his 30th year, in 530 B.C.E. (Histories, Book I, Clio, 214) Cuneiform tablets show that Cyrus ruled Babylon for nine years before his death. Thus, nine years prior to his death in 530 B.C.E. takes us back to 539 B.C.E. as the year Cyrus conquered Babylon.

Confirmation by a cuneiform tablet: A Babylonian astronomical clay tablet (BM 33066) confirms the date of Cyrus’ death in 530 B.C.E. Though this tablet contains some errors regarding the astronomical positions, it contains the descriptions of two lunar eclipses that the tablet says occurred in the seventh year of Cambyses II, the son and successor of Cyrus. These are identified with lunar eclipses visible at Babylon on July 16, 523 B.C.E., and on January 10, 522 B.C.E., thus pointing to the spring of 523 B.C.E. as the beginning of Cambyses’ seventh year. That would make his first regnal year 529 B.C.E. So Cyrus’ last year would have been 530 B.C.E., making 539 B.C.E. his first year of ruling Babylon.

When Was Ancient Jerusalem Destroyed?​—Part Two

What the Clay Documents Really Show

This is the second of two articles in consecutive issues of The Watchtower that discuss scholarly questions surrounding the date of the first destruction of ancient Jerusalem. This two-part series presents thoroughly researched and Bible-based answers to questions that have puzzled some readers.

Part One Established the Following Points:

▪ Secular historians say that Jerusalem was destroyed in 587 B.C.E.*

▪ Bible chronology indicates that the destruction occurred in 607 B.C.E.

▪ Secular historians base their conclusions on the writings of classical historians and on the canon of Ptolemy.

▪ Some writings of classical historians contain significant errors and are not always consistent with the records on clay tablets.*

THE Bible says that the Jewish captives were to be exiled in Babylon “until the seventy years were completed in fulfillment of the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah.” When were they released? In “the first [regnal] year of Cyrus king of Persia.” (2 Chronicles 36:21, 22, New International Version) Biblical and secular history agree that this exile in Babylon ended after Cyrus conquered Babylon and freed the Jews, who returned to Jerusalem in 537 B.C.E. Since the Bible explicitly says that the exile lasted for 70 years, it must have begun in 607 B.C.E.

However, most scholars date the destruction of Jerusalem at 587 B.C.E. This allows for only a 50-year exile. Why do they conclude that? They base their calculations on ancient cuneiform documents that provide details about Nebuchadnezzar II and his successors.1 Many of these documents were written by men who lived during or close to the time of Jerusalem’s destruction. But just how sound are the calculations that point to the date 587 B.C.E.? What do these documents really show?

To answer those questions, consider three types of documents that scholars often rely on: (1) The Babylonian chronicles, (2) business tablets, and (3) astronomical tablets.

● The Babylonian chronicles.

What are they? The Babylonian chronicles are a series of tablets recording major events in Babylonian history.2

What have experts said? R. H. Sack, a leading authority on cuneiform documents, states that the chronicles provide an incomplete record of important events.* He wrote that historians must probe “secondary sources … in the hope of determining what actually happened.”

What do the documents show? There are gaps in the history recorded in the Babylonian chronicles.3 (See the box below.) Logically, then, the question arises, How reliable are deductions based on such an incomplete record?

● Business tablets.

What are they? Most business tablets from the Neo-Babylonian period are legal receipts. The tablets were dated to the day, month, and year of the reigning king. For example, one tablet states that a transaction took place on “Nisan, the 27th day, the 11th year of Nebuchadrezzar [also known as Nebuchadnezzar II], king of Babylon.”4

When the king died or was removed and a new king came to the throne, the remaining months of that regnal year were considered the accession year of the new ruler.*5 In other words, the transition of one king to the next took place in the same Babylonian calendar year. Accordingly, tablets of the new ruler’s accession year should logically be dated during months after the last month of the former king.

What have experts said? R. H. Sack examined numerous business tablets from the Neo-Babylonian period. In 1972, Sack wrote that new unpublished British Museum texts placed at his disposal “completely upset” previous conclusions regarding the transition of rule from Nebuchadnezzar II to his son Amel-Marduk (also known as Evil-merodach).6 How so? Sack knew that tablets showed Nebuchadnezzar II to be still ruling in the sixth month of his last (43rd) year. But these newly deciphered tablets from the accession year of the following king, Amel-Marduk, were dated to the fourth and fifth months of what had been assumed to be the same year.7 Clearly, there was a discrepancy.

What do the documents show? There are further discrepancies in the transition of one king to another. For example, the documents show that Nebuchadnezzar II was still ruling in his tenth month​—six months after his successor is assumed to have begun reigning.8 A similar discrepancy exists with the transition between Amel-Marduk and his successor, Neriglissar.9

Why are these discrepancies significant? As mentioned earlier, gaps in the history documented by the Babylonian chronicles suggest that we may not have a continuous chronological record.10 Could others have ruled between the reigns of these kings? If so, additional years would have to be added to the Neo-Babylonian period. Therefore, neither the Babylonian chronicles nor the business tablets provide a basis to establish with certainty that Jerusalem was destroyed in 587 B.C.E.*

● Astronomical tablets.

What are they? Cuneiform tablets that contain descriptions of the positions of the sun, moon, planets, and stars, coupled with such historical information as the regnal year of a particular king. For instance, the astronomical diary shown below records a lunar eclipse that occurred in the first month of the first year of King Mukin-zeri’s reign.11

What have experts said? Experts agree that the Babylonians had developed extensive charts and schemes to predict when eclipses would most likely occur.12

But could the Babylonians project backward to calculate when eclipses had occurred in the past? “It is possible,” states Professor John Steele, “that some of the earliest predictions could have been made by projecting the scheme backwards when the text was compiled.” (Italics ours.)13 Professor David Brown, who believes that the astronomical charts included predictions made shortly before the recorded events, acknowledges that it is conceivable that some of these were “retrocalculations undertaken by scribes in the 4th and later centuries BC.”14 If these are retrocalculations, could they really be considered absolutely reliable unless corroborated by other evidence?

Even if an eclipse did occur on a certain date, does this mean that the historical information the writer of the tablet assigns to that date is accurate? Not necessarily. Scholar R. J. van der Spek explains: “The compilers were astrologers, not historians.” He describes sections of the tablets that contain historical records as “more or less casual,” and he warns that such historical information must “be used with caution.”15

What do the documents show? Consider the example of VAT 4956. The opening line of this tablet reads: “Year 37 of Nebukadnezar, king of Babylon.”16 Thereafter, it contains detailed descriptions of the position of the moon and planets in relation to different stars and constellations. Also included is one lunar eclipse. Scholars say that all these positions occurred in 568/567 B.C.E., which would make the 18th year of Nebuchadnezzar II, when he destroyed Jerusalem, 587 B.C.E. But do these astronomical references irrefutably point only to the year 568/567 B.C.E.?

The tablet mentions a lunar eclipse that was calculated as occurring on the 15th day of the third Babylonian month, Simanu. It is a fact that a lunar eclipse occurred on July 4 (Julian calendar) of this month during 568 B.C.E. However, there was also an eclipse 20 years earlier, on July 15, 588 B.C.E.17

If 588 B.C.E. marked the 37th year of Nebuchadnezzar II, then his 18th year would be 607 B.C.E.​—the very year indicated by the Bible’s chronology for the destruction of Jerusalem! (See the time line below.) But does VAT 4956 provide further corroborating evidence for the year 607 B.C.E.?

In addition to the aforementioned eclipse, there are 13 sets of lunar observations on the tablet and 15 planetary observations. These describe the position of the moon or planets in relation to certain stars or constellations.18 There are also eight time intervals between the risings and settings of the sun and the moon.18a

Because of the superior reliability of the lunar positions, researchers have carefully analyzed these 13 sets of lunar positions on VAT 4956. They analyzed the data with the aid of a computer program capable of showing the location of celestial bodies on a certain date in the past.19 What did their analysis reveal? While not all of these sets of lunar positions match the year 568/567 B.C.E., all 13 sets match calculated positions for 20 years earlier, for the year 588/587 B.C.E.

One of the places where the lunar observations fit 588 B.C.E. even better than 568 B.C.E. is shown in the tablet reproduced on these pages. On line 3 of that tablet, we read that the moon was in a certain position on the “night of the 9th [of Nisanu].” However, the scholars who first dated the event to 568 B.C.E. (astronomical -567) acknowledged that in 568 B.C.E., the moon was in that position on “the 8th of Nisanu and not on the 9th.” To support dating the tablet to 568 B.C.E., they postulated that the scribe erroneously wrote “9” instead of “8.”20 But the lunar position in line 3 finds an exact match on Nisanu 9 of 588 B.C.E.21

Clearly, much of the astronomical data in VAT 4956 fits the year 588 B.C.E. as the 37th year of Nebuchadnezzar II. This, therefore, supports the date of 607 B.C.E. for Jerusalem’s destruction​—just as the Bible indicates.

Why Trust the Bible?

At present, the majority of secular historians believe that Jerusalem was destroyed in 587 B.C.E. However, the Bible writers Jeremiah and Daniel clearly state that the Jews were in exile for 70 years, not 50 years. (Jeremiah 25:1, 2, 11; 29:10; Daniel 9:2) Those statements strongly indicate that Jerusalem was destroyed in 607 B.C.E. As the above evidence shows, that conclusion has some secular support.

Secular experts have repeatedly questioned the Bible’s accuracy. Yet, when more evidence is uncovered, the Bible record has time and again been vindicated.* Those who trust the Bible have good reason to do so. They base their opinion on proof that the Bible is historically, scientifically, and prophetically accurate. That evidence leads them to believe the Bible’s claim that it is the inspired Word of God. (2 Timothy 3:16) Why not investigate the evidence for yourself? You may well come to the same conclusion.

Rich, food for thought.

Is God’s Kingdom a real government?

Or is it, instead, a condition in the hearts of men?

Luke 17:21, KJ: “Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you [also TEV, Dy; but “among you,” KJ margin, NE, JB; “in the midst of you,” RS; “in your midst,” NW].” (Notice that, as shown by verse 20, Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees, whom he also denounced as hypocrites, so he could not have meant that the Kingdom was in their hearts. But the Kingdom as represented by Christ was in their midst. Thus The Emphatic Diaglott reads: “God’s royal majesty is among you.”)

Does the Bible actually speak of God’s Kingdom as being a government?

Isa. 9:6, 7, RS: “To us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government [also KJ, AT, Dy; “dominion,” JB, NE; “princely rule,” NW] will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called ‘Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’ Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end.”

Who are the rulers in the Kingdom?

Rev. 15:3: “Great and wonderful are your works, Jehovah God, the Almighty. Righteous and true are your ways, King of eternity.”

Dan. 7:13, 14: “With the clouds of the heavens someone like a son of man [Jesus Christ; see Mark 14:61, 62] happened to be coming; and to the Ancient of Days [Jehovah God] he gained access, and they brought him up close even before that One. And to him [to Jesus Christ] there were given rulership and dignity and kingdom, that the peoples, national groups and languages should all serve even him.”

Rev. 5:9, 10: “You [Jesus Christ] were slaughtered and with your blood you bought persons for God out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and you made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God, and they are to rule as kings over the earth.” (At Revelation 14:1-3 these “bought from the earth” to be rulers with the Lamb on heavenly Mount Zion are said to number 144,000.)

What effect will this Kingdom have on human governments?

Dan. 2:44: “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite.”

Ps. 2:8, 9: “Ask of me, that I may give nations as your inheritance and the ends of the earth as your own possession. You will break them with an iron scepter, as though a potter’s vessel you will dash them to pieces.”

What will God’s Kingdom accomplish?

Sanctify Jehovah’s name and uphold his sovereignty

Matt. 6:9, 10: “You must pray, then, this way: ‘Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified. Let your kingdom come.’” (Here the sanctifying of God’s name is closely associated with the coming of his Kingdom.)

Ezek. 38:23: “I shall certainly magnify myself and sanctify myself and make myself known before the eyes of many nations; and they will have to know that I am Jehovah.” (God’s name will be cleansed of all reproach; it will be treated as holy and deserving of respect, and all who live will be persons who willingly uphold Jehovah’s sovereignty, delighting to do his will. Upon such sanctification of Jehovah’s name the peace and well-being of all the universe depend.)

Put an end to Satan’s tolerated rulership over the world

Rev. 20:2, 3: “He [the heavenly King, Jesus Christ] seized the dragon, the original serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. And he hurled him into the abyss and shut it and sealed it over him, that he might not mislead the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After these things he must be let loose for a little while.” (Thus mankind will be freed from the satanic influence that has made life very difficult for people who want to do what is right. Gone will be the diabolic influence that has caused acts of extreme inhumanity and the demonic influence that has filled the lives of many with fear.)

Unify all creation in worship of the one true God

Rev. 5:13; 15:3, 4: “And every creature that is in heaven and on earth and underneath the earth and on the sea, and all the things in them, I heard saying: ‘To the One sitting on the throne [Jehovah God] and to the Lamb [Jesus Christ] be the blessing and the honor and the glory and the might forever and ever.’” “Great and wonderful are your works, Jehovah God, the Almighty. Righteous and true are your ways, King of eternity. Who will not really fear you, Jehovah, and glorify your name, because you alone are loyal? For all the nations will come and worship before you, because your righteous decrees have been made manifest.”

Bring mankind back into harmonious relationship with God

Rom. 8:19-21: “The eager expectation of the creation [humankind] is waiting for the revealing of the sons of God [the evidence that those raised to heavenly life with Jesus Christ have gone into action as rulers]. For the creation was subjected to futility, not by its own will but through him that subjected it, on the basis of hope that the creation itself [mankind in general] also will be set free from enslavement to corruption and have the glorious freedom of the children of God.”

Free mankind from all threat of war

Ps. 46:8, 9: “Come, you people, behold the activities of Jehovah, how he has set astonishing events on the earth. He is making wars to cease to the extremity of the earth.”

Isa. 2:4: “They will have to beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war anymore.”

Rid the earth of corrupt rulers and oppression

Ps. 110:5: “Jehovah himself at your right hand will certainly break kings to pieces on the day of his anger.”

Ps. 72:12-14: “He [Jehovah’s Messianic King] will deliver the poor one crying for help, also the afflicted one and whoever has no helper. He will feel sorry for the lowly one and the poor one, and the souls of the poor ones he will save. From oppression and from violence he will redeem their soul, and their blood will be precious in his eyes.”

Provide an abundance of food for all mankind

Ps. 72:16: “There will come to be plenty of grain on the earth; on the top of the mountains there will be an overflow.”

Isa. 25:6: “Jehovah of armies will certainly make for all the peoples, in this mountain [in heavenly Mount Zion, the seat of God’s Kingdom, provision for its earthly subjects will be made], a banquet of well-oiled dishes, a banquet of wine kept on the dregs, of well-oiled dishes filled with marrow, of wine kept on the dregs, filtered.”

Remove sickness and disabilities of all kinds

Luke 7:22; 9:11: “Go your way, report to John what you saw and heard: the blind are receiving sight, the lame are walking, the lepers are being cleansed and the deaf are hearing, the dead are being raised up, the poor are being told the good news.” “He [Jesus Christ] received them kindly and began to speak to them about the kingdom of God, and he healed those needing a cure.” (Thus Jesus demonstrated what he as heavenly King will do for mankind.)

Provide suitable homes for everyone

Isa. 65:21, 22: “They will certainly build houses and have occupancy; and they will certainly plant vineyards and eat their fruitage. They will not build and someone else have occupancy; they will not plant and someone else do the eating.”

Assure satisfying employment for all

Isa. 65:23: “They will not toil for nothing, nor will they bring to birth for disturbance; because they are the offspring made up of the blessed ones of Jehovah, and their descendants with them.”

Guarantee security, freedom from danger to one’s person or property

Mic. 4:4: “They will actually sit, each one under his vine and under his fig tree, and there will be no one making them tremble; for the very mouth of Jehovah of armies has spoken it.”

Ps. 37:10, 11: “Just a little while longer, and the wicked one will be no more; and you will certainly give attention to his place, and he will not be. But the meek ones themselves will possess the earth, and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.”

Cause righteousness and justice to prevail

2 Pet. 3:13: “There are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.”

Isa. 11:3-5: “He [the Messianic King] will not judge by any mere appearance to his eyes, nor reprove simply according to the thing heard by his ears. And with righteousness he must judge the lowly ones, and with uprightness he must give reproof in behalf of the meek ones of the earth… . And righteousness must prove to be the belt of his hips, and faithfulness the belt of his loins.”

Safeguard mankind from any injury due to natural forces

Mark 4:37-41: “Now a great violent windstorm broke out, and the waves kept dashing into the boat, so that the boat was close to being swamped… . With that he [Jesus] roused himself and rebuked the wind and said to the sea: ‘Hush! Be quiet!’ And the wind abated, and a great calm set in… . But they felt an unusual fear, and they would say to one another: ‘Who really is this, because even the wind and the sea obey him?’” (Thus Christ demonstrated the power that he as heavenly King will exercise over such natural elements.)

Resurrect the dead

John 5:28, 29: “Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice [the voice of Christ the King] and come out.”

Rev. 20:12: “I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened. But another scroll was opened; it is the scroll of life. And the dead were judged out of those things written in the scrolls according to their deeds [those done following their resurrection; compare Romans 6:7].”

Remove all death due to inheritance of Adamic sin

Isa. 25:8: “He will actually swallow up death forever, and the Sovereign Lord Jehovah will certainly wipe the tears from all faces.”

Rev. 21:4: “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.”

Provide a world in which people genuinely love one another

John 13:35: “By this all will know that you are my disciples [hence, in line to be Jesus’ associates in the heavenly Kingdom or earthly subjects of that Kingdom], if you have love among yourselves.”

Bring animals and humans into harmonious relationship with one another

Isa. 11:6-9: “The wolf will actually reside for a while with the male lamb, and with the kid the leopard itself will lie down, and the calf and the maned young lion and the well-fed animal all together; and a mere little boy will be leader over them. And the cow and the bear themselves will feed; together their young ones will lie down. And even the lion will eat straw just like the bull. And the sucking child will certainly play upon the hole of the cobra; and upon the light aperture of a poisonous snake will a weaned child actually put his own hand. They will not do any harm or cause any ruin in all my holy mountain.” (Also Isaiah 65:25)

Hos. 2:18: “For them I shall certainly conclude a covenant in that day in connection with the wild beast of the field and with the flying creature of the heavens and the creeping thing of the ground, … and I will make them lie down in security.”

Make the earth a paradise

Luke 23:43: “Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise.”

Ps. 98:7-9: “Let the sea thunder and that which fills it, the productive land and those dwelling in it. Let the rivers themselves clap their hands; all together let the very mountains cry out joyfully before Jehovah, for he has come to judge the earth. He will judge the productive land with righteousness and the peoples with uprightness.”

Compare Genesis 1:28; 2:15; Isaiah 55:11.

When was God’s Kingdom to begin to rule?

Was it in the first century?

Col. 1:1, 2, 13: “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through God’s will, and Timothy our brother to the holy ones [those who were heirs of the heavenly Kingdom] … He [God] delivered us from the authority of the darkness and transferred us [the holy ones, members of the Christian congregation] into the kingdom of the Son of his love.” (So Christ had, indeed, begun to rule over the Christian congregation in the first century, before this was written, but the establishment of the Kingdom to rule over all the earth was yet future.)

1 Cor. 4:8: “You men already have your fill, do you? You are rich already, are you? You have begun ruling as kings without us, have you? And I wish indeed that you had begun ruling as kings, that we also might rule with you as kings.” (It is obvious that the apostle Paul is reproving them for having the wrong viewpoint.)

Rev. 12:10, 12: “Now have come to pass the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ, because the accuser of our brothers has been hurled down, who accuses them day and night before our God! On this account be glad, you heavens and you who reside in them! Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.” (The establishment of God’s Kingdom is here associated with the hurling of Satan out of heaven. This had not occurred at the time of the rebellion in Eden, as is shown in Job chapters 1, 2. Revelation was recorded in 96 C.E., and Revelation 1:1 shows that it deals with events then future.)

Must the coming to power of God’s Kingdom await the conversion of the world?

Ps. 110:1, 2: “The utterance of Jehovah to my Lord [Jesus Christ] is: ‘Sit at my right hand until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet.’ The rod of your strength Jehovah will send out of Zion, saying: ‘Go subduing in the midst of your enemies.’” (So there would be enemies for him to subdue; not all would submit to his rule.)

Matt. 25:31-46: “When the Son of man [Jesus Christ] arrives in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats… . And these [who showed no love for his anointed brothers] will depart into everlasting cutting-off, but the righteous ones into everlasting life.” (Obviously, not all mankind were to be converted before Christ would take his throne; not all would prove to be righteous ones.)