It has been quite a few weeks, but I finally had another opportunity to visit with a pair of Jehovah’s witnesses again. Once again, our conversation revolved around the nature of the kingdom of God.
It is clear that we have a fundamentally different understanding of the kingdom. For example, they brought me to Daniel 2:44. They used this to argue that God’s kingdom couldn’t come until all human kingdoms are destroyed. The problem with this is that Daniel doesn’t talk about all future kingdoms, but about specific kingdoms that came after Babylon. The final kingdom in Daniel seems to be the Greek kingdoms that emerged from the remains of Alexander the Great’s empire.
However, the Jehovah’s Witnesses see the kingdom of God very much in terms of human kingdoms. As long as there is a human kingdom, God’s kingdom cannot be here. It is either human kingdoms or God’s kingdoms, you cannot have both at the same time.
That is why they reject my assertion that God’s kingdom began with the coming of Jesus, although it has not come in its fullness. But more on that in a moment.
They then brought me to Matthew 6:10, from the Lord’s Prayer. Their point is that we are to pray for the coming of the kingdom, of which I agree. However, in addition to not believing the kingdom has appeared on earth, they don’t believe the kingdom was established in heaven until 1914.
However, Jesus seems to be saying that we should be praying for the kingdom to be real on earth just as it is real in heaven. Their response was that it was a prophecy that hadn’t been fulfilled in that moment but with God, it was as good as fulfilled. I was not convinced.
This brought us to the nature of Jesus and his kingship. They pointed me to Revelation 11:15 and argued that Jesus didn’t become king until then. That surprised me, as it seemed that Jesus was already king during his earthly ministry, even if people didn’t recognize him.
That is when I took them to John 18. Let me quote it here.
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” (John 18:36-37, NASB)
Pilate, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, misunderstood the nature of the kingdom and Jesus’ kingship. There was not a human army that was going to come and rescue Jesus. That was the way things are at that stage of the kingdom.
The Messiah, in the sense of a Son of David, always had kingly qualities. What people were looking for a was someone like David but greater. What people wanted from that was a great king. If Jesus was the Christ/Messiah, then he was a king. Not in the far future but always.
That is it until next time.