Resurrection to Unity in a “Garden of Eden”
1. Resurrection to life of a dead nation to its estate precedes what other resurrection?
THE resurrection of a dead nation to life on its own estate precedes the resurrection of the thousands of millions of the human dead to life on a Paradise earth.
2. In relation to the one who can miraculously revive a nation, what did Elijah and Elisha do, what did Hannah say, and what did Abraham believe?
2 Who can perform such a miraculous reviving of a nation? There is One who can do so, the One who used the ancient prophet Elijah and his successor Elisha to raise the dead to life. (1 Kings 17:8-24; 2 Kings 4:11-37; 8:4, 5; Hebrews 11:35) That was in the tenth century before our Common Era, and so hundreds of years before the city of Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians in 607 B.C.E. To the Divine Being who cured her of barrenness, Hannah the mother of the prophet Samuel said under inspiration: “Jehovah is a Killer and a Preserver of life, a Bringer down to Sheol, and He brings up.” (1 Samuel 2:1, 6) Centuries prior to Hannah, her forefather Abraham believed in Jehovah’s power to make dead things live, and concerning this faith of his we read: “This was in the sight of the One in whom he had faith, even of God, who makes the dead alive and calls the things that are not as though they were.” (Romans 4:17) He can resurrect a nation as easily as one man.
3. In what state were the hopes of the Jewish exiles, what did the land of Babylon appear to be for their nation, and what, though, did Jehovah have in mind?
3 When, after the destruction of Jerusalem, the surviving Jews were dragged off to Babylon for an exile of seventy years, they were practically a dead nation. Because of their not putting faith in the prophecies of God’s Word, their hopes of living again as a united nation on their God-given homeland were dead, for the majority of exiled Jews. The land of Babylon appeared to be the burial place of their nation. Babylon may have thought so too. But Jehovah, who had foretold the repeopling of the mountains and hills and valleys of the then desolated land of Israel, had in mind a miracle. The prophet Ezekiel had a vision of it, and he amazes us as he tells us about it in these words:
4. In vision, where did Jehovah set Ezekiel down, and what did he ask Ezekiel about what he saw there?
4 “The hand of Jehovah proved to be upon me, so that he brought me forth in the spirit of Jehovah and set me down in the midst of the valley plain, and it was full of bones. And he had me pass along by them all round about, and, look! there were very many on the surface of the valley plain and, look! they were very dry. And he began to say to me: ‘Son of man, can these bones come to life?’ To that I said: ‘Sovereign Lord Jehovah, you yourself well know.’ And he went on to say to me: ‘Prophesy over these bones, and you must say to them, “O you dry bones, hear the word of Jehovah.”’”—Ezekiel 37:1-4.
5. At such a command, what might a person today think?
5 A person of today might think, What good would it do to prophesy over a valley plain full of scattered dry bones? How could they respond to prophesying by a mere man?
6. But whose word was Ezekiel to speak in prophesying, and what dynamic power had that word long previously shown?
6 But let us not jump to conclusions in this modern scientific age. It is the word of Jehovah that is to be spoken in prophesying, and his word has superhuman, supernatural power. Six thousand years ago he spoke for the creation of all forms of life on our earth, and he can speak for the re-creation of life on a desolated land. (Genesis 1:11-25) Hear how his dynamic words:
7. Through Ezekiel, what did Jehovah say to those dry bones?
7 “This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said to these bones: ‘Here I am bringing into you breath, and you must come to life. And I will put upon you sinews and cause to come upon you flesh, and I will overlay upon you skin and put in you breath, and you must come to life; and you will have to know that I am Jehovah.’”—Ezekiel 37:5, 6.
8. Such clothing of bones with bodies and breathing into them to make them live reminds us of what steps in the creation of the first man and woman?
8 This makes us wonder how the Creator went about it when he created a wife for the first man in the garden of Eden, concerning which we read: “Hence Jehovah God had a deep sleep fall upon the man and, while he was sleeping, he took one of his ribs and then closed up the flesh over its place. And Jehovah God proceeded to build the rib that he had taken from the man into a woman and to bring her to the man.” (Genesis 2:21, 22) But even for a fully formed body to live it must have breath from Jehovah breathed into it. The account of man’s creation stresses that essential, saying: “Jehovah God proceeded to form the man out of dust from the ground and to blow into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man came to be a living soul. Further, Jehovah God planted a garden in Eden, toward the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.” (Genesis 2:7, 8) So, too, when this same Creator put breath into those bodies that he had built up from the valley plain full of dry bones, they came to life.
9. When those dry bones were reclothed and life was restored, what did they come to know?
9 When those dry bones became reclothed with sinew, flesh and skin and got the breath of life, they were bound to know something. They knew that they had not created or re-created themselves. They experienced what their Creator and Reviver had foretold: “And you will have to know that I am Jehovah.”—Ezekiel 37:6.
10. When Ezekiel prophesied at God’s command, what happened to those dry bones, and what did Jehovah do that scientists cannot do?
10 Jehovah is the Almighty God because he can do what to us humans in this twentieth century is impossible. So may we not think that we are looking at an impossible vision, as Ezekiel now tells us what followed his obeying Almighty God in faith: “And I prophesied just as I had been commanded. And a sound began to occur as soon as I prophesied, and here there was a rattling, and bones began to approach, bone to its bone. And I saw, and, look! upon them sinews themselves and flesh itself came up and skin began to be overlaid upon them above. But as regards breath, there was none in them.” (Ezekiel 37:7, 8) Scientists today know how to put human skeletons together, but they cannot put sinews and flesh upon those reconstructed bones and then vital organs inside. But Jehovah here pictures himself as being able to do the impossible!
11. What was Ezekiel told to say in prophesying to the wind?
11 “And,” says Ezekiel, “he went on saying to me: ‘Prophesy to the wind. Prophesy, O son of man, and you must say to the wind, “This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said: ‘From the four winds come in, O wind, and blow upon these killed people, that they may come to life.’”’”—Ezekiel 37:9.
12. When Ezekiel thus prophesied to the wind, what happened?
12 It was no pollution-laden wind that Ezekiel called to blow upon those reconstructed human bodies and to start their lungs functioning, in order that they might live. Jehovah waited upon Ezekiel’s prophesying before he reactivated those miraculously formed bodies, for we read: “And I prophesied just as he had commanded me, and the breath proceeded to come into them, and they began to live and stand upon their feet, a very, very great military force.”—Ezekiel 37:10.
THOSE WHOM THE REVIVIFIED ONES PICTURED
13. What is indicated by the designating of those revivified bodies a “very great military force”?
13 Inasmuch as all those animated bodies are spoken of as a “military force” or army, it denotes that these were no weaklings; they were able-bodied persons qualified for military service. But whom did all those “killed people” whom Ezekiel saw revitalized in the vision picture? Ezekiel tells us God’s own explanation by saying:
14. Whom did Jehovah identify those “killed people” as being, and what did he say that he would do for them?
14 “And he went on to say to me: ‘Son of man, as regards these bones, they are the whole house of Israel. Here they are saying, “Our bones have become dry, and our hope has perished. We have been severed off to ourselves.” Therefore prophesy, and you must say to them, “This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said: ‘Here I am opening your burial places, and I will bring you up out of your burial places, O my people, and bring you in upon the soil of Israel. And you will have to know that I am Jehovah when I open your burial places and when I bring you up out of your burial places, O my people.’ And I will put my spirit in you, and you must come to life, and I will settle you upon your soil; and you will have to know that I myself, Jehovah, have spoken and I have done it,” is the utterance of Jehovah.’”—Ezekiel 37:11-14.
15. What was Ezekiel’s part toward reanimating those hopeless Jews, but what was Jehovah’s part toward getting them back to the “soil of Israel”?
15 Thus the exiled Jews, then inclined to hopelessness, were to become reanimated with new hope based upon the unbreakable word of Jehovah. As Jehovah’s mouthpiece, Ezekiel by his prophesying was to have a part in the enlivening of those depressed Israelites with hope of restoration to their beloved homeland, hundreds of miles away. But Jehovah was the One who by putting his holy spirit in the repentant Israelites would really reorganize them and make them alive with eagerness and willingness to be restored to their own soil, at Jehovah’s due time. He was the One that would miraculously open the way for them to leave their “burial places” in the land of Babylon and go back to the “soil of Israel.”
16. How many were to share in that opportunity for repatriation, and how does this prove the claim of British Israelites to be baseless?
16 The “whole house of Israel” was to share in this opportunity for repatriation. Since this meant all the tribes of Israel, including those ten tribes that established the Northern Kingdom of Israel, this takes away the basis for the claim of the British Israelite religionists who think those “ten tribes” were lost in the Assyrian territories to which they were deported and that these British Israelites are really those tribes who have come to light again.
17. Did those Israelites later have reason to know that what Jehovah had spoken he had done, and in his decree in behalf of them to whom did King Cyrus give the responsibility for action?
17 Jehovah had spoken this by his prophets, including Ezekiel. Did the Israelites later have to know that Jehovah had actually done it, true to his spoken word? Recorded history answers Yes! It was the foretold Cyrus the Persian whom He used to bring about the surprise fall of Babylon to the Medes and Persians one night in the autumn of 539 B.C.E. In the second year after that, namely, in 537 B.C.E., King Cyrus the Conqueror issued his decree freeing the Israelites to leave their exile in Babylon and return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple of their God. Now let us notice to whom Cyrus gave the responsibility for this, in this account:
“To fulfill Jehovah’s word by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had paid off its sabbaths. All the days of lying desolated it kept sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.
“And in the first year of Cyrus the king of Persia, that Jehovah’s word by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, Jehovah roused the spirit of Cyrus the king of Persia, so that he caused a cry to pass through all his kingdom, and also in writing, saying: ‘This is what Cyrus the king of Persia has said, “All the kingdoms of the earth Jehovah the God of the heavens has given me, and he himself has commissioned me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all his people, Jehovah his God be with him. So let him go up.”’”
Those words of 2 Chronicles 36:21-23 do not say why he should go up. But the words of Ezra 1:1-4 fill out Cyrus’ decree, saying:
“So let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of Jehovah the God of Israel—he is the true God—which was in Jerusalem. As for anyone that is left from all the places where he is residing as an alien, let the men of his place assist him with silver and with gold and with goods and with domestic animals along with the voluntary offering for the house of the true God, which was in Jerusalem.”
18. From the wording of Cyrus’ decree, what did the Israelites know concerning their God, and how many responded to this opportunity to repeople the desolated homeland?
18 When Cyrus the Great, the king of Persia, thus associated Jehovah with this unexpected, unusual event, how could the Israelites fail to know that it was Jehovah who was opening their burial places in Babylon and bringing them out alive for further activity in his service and worship in their desolated homeland! Assisted by sympathetic Israelites who could not then conveniently leave Babylon, 42,360 Israelites responded to Jehovah’s outpoured spirit and became alive to the opportunity to repeople the hills, mountains and valleys of the soil of Israel, rebuild Jerusalem and its temple and restore Jehovah’s worship there, to the glory of his name internationally. More than 7,500 non-Israelite slaves and professional singers accepted the privilege to go with them for the united service of Jehovah. (Ezra 2:64-67) This was indeed like a “very, very great military force.”—Ezekiel 37:10.
19. Besides the vision itself, what else in connection therewith was prophetic, and how was this pictured in the Bible’s last book?
19 The historic fulfillment of Ezekiel’s vision of the valley plain full of dry bones was as prophetic as the vision itself. It has had its further fulfillment in our twentieth century. This fulfillment is pointed forward to as being due to occur, in the last Bible book that was written about 96 C.E., or more than seven centuries after Ezekiel’s vision. Let us note how the reviving of the spiritual Israelites is pictured therein:
“And when they have finished their witnessing, the wild beast that ascends out of the abyss [the third head of this seven-headed beast picturing the Babylonian World Power] will make war with them and conquer them and kill them. And their corpses will be on the broad way of the great city which is in a spiritual sense called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was also impaled. And those of the peoples and tribes and tongues and nations will look at their corpses for three and a half days, and they do not let their corpses be laid in a tomb. And those dwelling on the earth rejoice over them and enjoy themselves, and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those dwelling on the earth.
“And after the three and a half days spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet, and great fear fell upon those beholding them. And they heard a loud voice out of heaven say to them: ‘Come on up here.’ And they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies beheld them.”—Revelation 11:7-12.
20. How was this Revelation picture fulfilled, and in what period of time, and with what ascension of the “two witnesses” as it were to heaven?
20 In the modern outworking of this prophetic picture the remnant of Christian spiritual Israelites were killed, as far as their prophetic and witnessing work freely and publicly was concerned, at the climax of the international persecution against them in the last year of World War I. They came into a spiritual condition just like that of the dry bones seen by Ezekiel in the valley plain, in Babylon. (Genesis 11:2-9) Their continuing in this condition was not as long as the seventy years of exile of the ancient Israelites in Babylon, but was pictured as being for three and a half days, long enough for rigor mortis to take hold of a corpse. So it was that, as early as in the spring of the following year (1919 C.E.), “spirit of life from God” entered and resurrected them to vigorous public activity again in preaching “this good news of the kingdom” internationally. (Matthew 24:14) The ‘going up to heaven in the cloud’ certainly indicated that they were religiously separated from the “great city which is in a spiritual sense called Sodom and Egypt,” and which is antitypical Jerusalem or Christendom, the predominant religious member of Babylon the Great. They left that world empire of false religion.
21. Whom did the remnant of spiritual Israel come to recognize as the one who brought them out of their graves in Babylon the Great, and how did they have to imitate the ancient Israelites to being their estate to a spiritual Paradise?
21 The liberated remnant of spiritual Israelites came to know very definitely that it was Jehovah who opened their “burial places” in Babylon the Great and brought them out spiritually alive in order to restore them to their proper spiritual estate on this war-torn earth. In the case of their ancient prototypes, the restored Israelites had to work hard at cultivating the long-desolated soil of Israel to the state that would cause observing people to say: “That land yonder which was laid desolate has become like the garden of Eden.” (Ezekiel 36:35) Just so, too, the restored remnant of spiritual Israelites had to work hard at cultivating the “fruitage of the spirit” and producing the “fruits” of God’s kingdom in order to have their postwar estate “become like the garden of Eden,” a spiritual Paradise. (Galatians 5:22, 23; Matthew 21:43) This called for united effort on their part. That there would be such internal organizational unity Jehovah instructed Ezekiel to picture by a fine illustration, as follows:
22. What illustration was Ezekiel told to enact to show the unifying of the Israelite remnant, and what explanation thereof did Jehovah give?
22 “And the word of Jehovah continued to occur to me, saying: ‘And as for you, O son of man, take for yourself a stick and write upon it, “For Judah and for the sons of Israel his partners.” And take another stick and write upon it, “For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and all the house of Israel his partners.” And cause them to approach each other into one stick for yourself, and they will actually become just one in your hand. And when the sons of your people begin to say to you, “Will you not tell us what these things mean to you?” speak to them, “This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said: ‘Here I am taking the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his partners, and I will put them upon it, that is, the stick of Judah, and I shall actually make them one stick, and they must become one in my hand.’” And the sticks upon which you write must prove to be in your hand before their eyes.’”—Ezekiel 37:15-20.
RESTORING INTERNAL ORGANIZATIONAL UNITY
23. Why were the markings on the two sticks appropriate, in accord with history?
23 The tribe of Ephraim descended from Joseph the son of Jacob (Israel). The ten tribes that revolted from the royal house of David after the death of King Solomon included this tribe of Ephraim, as its most powerful tribe. The first king of the new ten-tribe Kingdom of Israel was of this tribe, namely, “Jeroboam the son of Nebat an Ephraimite.” (1 Kings 11:26 to 12:25) Fittingly, then, one stick was written upon by Ezekiel to stand for exiles of that fallen kingdom. The tribe of Judah along with the tribe of Benjamin and the priests and Levites remained loyal to the royal family of David. Appropriately the other stick was written on by Ezekiel to stand for the exiles of this recently fallen Kingdom of Judah. Prophetically the two sticks were brought together in Ezekiel’s hand, either being merely held together in his hand or miraculously merging together. What did it foretell?
24. How did Jehovah explain the meaning of the bringing together of the sticks in Ezekiel’s hand?
24 What Jehovah had in mind by this he tells Ezekiel, saying: “And speak to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said: “Here I am taking the sons of Israel from among the nations to which they have gone, and I will collect them together from round about and bring them onto their soil. And I shall actually make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel, and one king is what all of them will come to have as king, and they will no longer continue to be two nations, nor will they be divided any longer into two kingdoms. And they will no longer defile themselves with their dungy idols and with their disgusting things and with all their transgressions; and I shall certainly save them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and I will cleanse them, and they must become my people, and I myself shall become their God.”’”—Ezekiel 37:21-23.
25. What evidence cropped up in 2 B.C.E. to show that there were no “lost ten tribes of Israel,” and who was there identified as being the future “one king” over all Israel?
25 Hence there were no “lost ten tribes of Israel” that remained behind in the territories of fallen Babylon. Members of all the original twelve tribes of Israel returned to the soil of Israel after King Cyrus’ decree of liberation of 537 B.C.E. Consequently, in the year 2 B.C.E., when the forty-day-old baby Jesus was brought into the rebuilt temple at Jerusalem, there was a member of the once rebellious tribe of Asher there, and God was pleased to use even her as a prophetess. Who was she? Anna, the daughter of Phanuel. (Luke 2:36-38) The one about whom Anna prophesied then, namely, Jesus, was the one who was to become the “one king” whom all the reunited twelve tribes of Israel were to have over them.
26. On the day of Pentecost, who did the apostle Peter say should know that God had made Jesus “both Lord and Christ”?
26 Quite rightly, then, on the day of Pentecost, thirty-three and a half years later, the Christian apostle Simon Peter said to a crowd of thousands of Israelites at Jerusalem, concerning the resurrected Jesus who had ascended to heaven: “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for a certainty that God made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you impaled.” (Acts 2:36) Through him they could be reconciled to Jehovah as their God.
27. When did Jehovah install this one as king with the “legal right”?
27 At the end of the “appointed times of the nations” in the year 1914 C.E., Jehovah installed Jesus Christ as king in the heavens, to reign as David’s descendant who had the “legal right” to the royal crown.—Ezekiel 21:25-27; Luke 21:24.
28. What efforts were made to break up the unity of the remnant of spiritual Israel, and in 1919 C.E. under whom did they unite as their “one king” appointed by Jehovah?
28 The anointed remnant of spiritual Israel had to unite under him as their “one king” by Jehovah’s appointment. During World War I, after the death of the first president of the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society on October 31, 1916, efforts were made by certain ambitious ones among the International Bible Students Association to break up the unity of the remnant into several religious sects. But the faithful members of the remnant resisted the various pressures toward disunity and sectarianism such as prevails in Christendom. Then in the liberation year of 1919 the faithful survivors of World War I reunited with the one objective, namely, to be loyal to Jehovah’s reigning King, Jesus Christ, and to preach world wide “this good news of the kingdom.” Jehovah forgave their transgressions and cleansed them of the “dungy idols” of worldly nationalism and other religiously disgusting things.
29. Before his death, how did Jesus pray with his apostles for the unity of spiritual Israel, and has this now been achieved?
29 Before Jesus Christ suffered his sacrificial death, he prayed with his faithful apostles in behalf of this unity among all true spiritual Israelites, saying: “I make request, not concerning these only, but also concerning those putting faith in me through their word; in order that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in union with me and I am in union with you, that they also may be in union with us, in order that the world may believe that you sent me forth. Also, I have given them the glory that you have given me, in order that they may be one just as we are one.” (John 17:20-22) What Jesus thus prayed for has now been achieved among spiritual Israel.
30. Since 1935 C.E., who have united with the anointed remnant under the “one king,” and what have they all become together?
30 Not only that, but since 1935 C.E. the “great crowd” of those “other sheep” mentioned by Jesus have overcome racial, national, tribal and language bars and distinctions and, like the more than 7,500 non-Israelites that left Babylon with the homeward-bound remnant, they have united with the anointed remnant of spiritual Israel to serve Jehovah’s “one king,” Jesus Christ. Today all of them, the remnant and the “other sheep,” have become “one flock” under the “one shepherd.”—Revelation 7:9-17; Ezra 2:64, 65; John 10:11-16.
31. Whom did Jehovah say that he would give to be king over his restored people, and where were they to dwell?
31 That this unified condition under the “one king” and the “one shepherd” would result in peace inside the spiritual “garden of Eden” since the year 1919 C.E., Jehovah foretold, as he went on to say to his prophet Ezekiel: “And my servant David will be king over them, and one shepherd is what they will all come to have; and in my judicial decisions they will walk, and my statutes they will keep, and they will certainly carry them out. And they will actually dwell upon the land that I gave to my servant, to Jacob, in which your forefathers dwelt, and they will actually dwell upon it, they and their sons and their sons’ sons to time indefinite, and David my servant will be their chieftain to time indefinite.
32. What kind of covenant was Jehovah to conclude with his restored people, and by placing what among them were the nations to know that he was sanctifying his restored people?
32 “And I will conclude with them a covenant of peace; an indefinitely lasting covenant is what there will come to be with them. And I will place them and multiply them and place my sanctuary in the midst of them to time indefinite. And my tabernacle will actually prove to be over them, and I shall certainly become their God, and they themselves will become my people. And the nations will have to know that I, Jehovah, am sanctifying Israel when my sanctuary comes to be in the midst of them to time indefinite.”—Ezekiel 37:24-28.
33. How has the peace of Jehovah’s covenant been brought about among his restored people, what is the evidence that his sanctuary was placed among them, and in what way is his tabernacle over them?
33 Jehovah has given his reigning King Jesus Christ as a “covenant” or solemn promissory guarantee for the peace of all his obedient subjects. By His spirit, which produces the fruitage of love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness and self-control, Jehovah has removed all beastly viciousness of personality from his restored people. His sanctuary, as picturing pure Christian worship, is among these staunch adherents to his written Word, the Holy Bible. His tabernacle of divine protection and family relationship is over them. It is very manifest to all honest observers that those dedicated, baptized subjects of the reigning King have become the people of Jehovah, for they have really abandoned all worldly forms of idolatry and have made Jehovah the only God whom they worship.—Isaiah 42:6; 49:8; Hosea 2:18-20; Micah 4:1-5.
34. Because Jehovah’s tabernacle proves to be in the midst of these subjects of His reigning King, what are the nations coming to know about these Christian witnesses of Jehovah?
34 Although these devoted subjects of Jehovah’s reigning King are no part of this unpeaceful world, yet they are physically still in it. (John 17:14-16; 15:19) For that reason the worldly nations of today are observing something; they are coming to know something about these Christian witnesses of Jehovah. What? That their God is a living God superior to all the nations of mankind and that he must be tabernacling or dwelling in the midst of them inasmuch as he does for them what His Bible foretold. Yes, and that He is noticeably sanctifying them, making them holy, clean, morally and religiously different from the rest of mankind. The only One who could do this is the living and true God, and he is the One who calls himself Jehovah.—Psalm 83:18.