Why Highest Hopes Were Disappointed
1. Off what do all of us live, but what disappointing situation might develop with regard to this?
WE ALL live off the land. We are all dependent on what grows out of the ground. Suppose, now, all of us were gardeners or farmers. What if you sowed a lot of seed, and you looked for much, but you got very little from it? You pruned your grapevines and cultivated them, but you collected little fruit. You planted your flax and took good care of it, but there was little that you brought in with which to have linen made for clothing. Your olive trees were given all due attention, but there were few olives to send to the press to make oil. You came to your storehouse and wanted to collect twenty measures of grain, but, look! there proved to be only ten measures there actually. You came to your winepress vat after crushing all the available grapes, and in order to entertain or to sell you needed to carry away fifty measures, and, see there! all you could draw off was twenty measures. Suppose this kept up for year after year! What would you think?
2. What other bad agricultural conditions might there be, and social conditions, and where should we look to place the blame?
2 Oh, you might blame it upon the continual dry seasons—the drought. In the rainless season there was not even the fall of dew to moisten things up to save the growth from the ground. The earth became scorched. Besides, the grains were blasted with mildew. Not only that, there was the hail that beat down fruit from the trees and smashed the vegetation to the earth. Then, too, if you tried to get a job off the land and earn some extra money to make ends meet, there were no jobs available, or what was paid for services was very small. On top of that, social conditions were very disturbed, and there was no peace for anyone going out or coming in. Yes, it would seem reasonable to look at matters from a natural, materialistic viewpoint and blame it on the weather and the lack of security. Weather, yes! But what is behind the weather? Who is responsible for the weather? Might the real reason for crop failure lie there? If so, why?
3. Is the case just presented imaginative, and why can we today learn a lesson from the distant past?
3 Seemingly, we are here just imagining a disastrous case for an agricultural community. But really we are presenting the features of an actual historical case. It was specially recorded in the sacred history to serve as a useful, practical lesson to us today who have come into a far worse state of affairs than existed back there in the illustrative case. (Haggai 1:6, 9-11; 2:15-17; Zechariah 8:9, 10, 13) The lesson is not out of date for us who live in these “advanced times,” just because the historical case presented itself about two thousand five hundred years ago. Principles, that is, rules of operation with respect to the affairs of nations and with respect to cause and effect, do not change.
4. Though the people in that case are now long gone, who remains, and so what should we endeavor to learn and apply?
4 More than that, although those people involved away back there are now long off the world stage, the Immortal Theocrat, the Creator who is behind the weather, is still on hand to reckon with as the Restorer of Paradise to mankind. He does not change as to his manner of dealing with his human creatures. We cannot afford to ignore him without unpleasant consequences for ourselves. Wisely, then, in a teachable frame of mind, let us examine this actual case history and apply the beneficial lesson of it to ourselves.
BACK TO THE YEAR 520/519 BEFORE OUR COMMON ERA
5. When and by whom had ancient Babylon been put down, and how did Jerusalem come to be reoccupied?
5 Time of our historical setting is back in the sixth century before our Common Era. For more than eighty years the destruction of the internationally known city of Jerusalem by the powerful armies of Babylon is in the past. As a well-deserved retribution Babylon itself has had the humiliation of bowing to a conqueror, Cyrus, and ceasing to be the Third World Power of Bible history. That was in the world-shaking year of 539 B.C.E. The Persian Empire is now the dominant world power, the fourth in succession in Bible history. However, Greece is beginning to assert itself strongly and threatening in due time to seize the dominant world position. Some years before this it was even predicted to become the next succeeding world power. (Daniel, chapters 7, 8, 11; Zechariah 9:13) Never did the city of Jerusalem become a world power, but it proved to be the city where the most important events of all human history took place. It began to be rebuilt and reoccupied by the exiles whom the Persian conqueror, Cyrus the Great, released from captivity in Babylon in the year 537 B.C.E.—Ezra 1:1 to 3:2.
6. How were the highest hopes of the returned exiles from Babylon disappointed, and when was it decided that there had been enough of this, and by whom?
6 Thus the sacred city of Jerusalem was reestablished and the province of Judah was formed as one of the many jurisdictional districts of the expanding Persian Empire. An ancestor of Jesus Christ, namely, Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, was the governor of the province, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak the son of Seraiah was the high priest of the national religion. Shortly after the returned exiles got settled in the land and tried to fulfill the real purpose of their return, they ran into difficulties with their pagan neighbors on their borders. Their major project came to a standstill and was finally banned by the central Persian government. The prosperity of the province of Judah ceased. The highest hopes of the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem, with which they had left Babylon, were disappointed. Time wore on for about seventeen years of this. Then the Main One involved in this situation, which appeared to be a cursed one, decided that there had been enough of this. That One was the Great Theocrat, the invisible God Ruler of the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.
7, 8. What was the year of this theocratic intervention, and by the raising up of what mouthpiece of Jehovah was it marked?
7 The year of theocratic intervention in the affairs of Judah and Jerusalem is definitely dated. It is the year that the Great Theocrat raised up his visible human spokesman, the prophet named Haggai. He was one of the exiles that had returned from Babylon, if not in the year 537 B.C.E., then in a later year. His name means “Festive, or, Festal”; or, if the final “i” of his name is an abbreviation for “Yah,” then his name means “Festival [Hhag] of Yah,” this “Yah” being the abbreviation for Jehovah. He is traditionally thought to have been an old man by this time. To make for historical accuracy, he dates his prophecies. His book of prophecies bearing his name Haggai is the third last book of the Twelve Minor Prophets, or the third last book of the inspired Hebrew Scriptures as listed in the Authorized Version of the Bible. In the opening verse of his dated book he writes:
8 “In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of Jehovah occurred by means of Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, the governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak the high priest, saying.”—Haggai 1:1.
9. (a) How do we differentiate between this Darius the king of Persia and “Darius the Mede”? (b) So, when did Haggai begin to prophesy?
9 This Darius the king is different from “Darius the Mede,” who was associated with King Cyrus the Persian in the overthrow of Babylon in the year 539 B.C.E., he being then sixty-two years old. (Daniel 5:30, 31; 6:1-28) After Darius the Mede the throne of the fallen Babylon was taken over solely by King Cyrus the Persian. He was succeeded by his son Cambyses. After him a reputed usurper, the Magian Gaumata, seized the throne of the Persian Empire. He was overthrown by Darius the Persian, who thus became the Persian Darius I. He is generally given the surname Hystaspis. As the regnal year of the Persian kings began in the spring of the year, the second year of this Persian Darius the king would continue to the following spring, and so it would correspond with 520/519 B.C.E., according to our dating. The sixth month of that year would be reckoned from the spring of 520 B.C.E., and would be Haggai’s lunar month known as Elul. (Nehemiah 6:15) That lunar month would correspond with our August-September. Since the day on which the word of Jehovah occurred to the prophet Haggai was the first day of that lunar month, it was the day of the new moon.
10. Why was that day of Elul 1, 520 B.C.E., a time for Haggai to reach with his message a larger crowd of Jews than usual?
10 According to the theocratic law given through the prophet Moses, that day of the new moon was a day for blowing the sacred trumpets over sacrifices offered to Jehovah God on that day. (Numbers 10:10) Also, special offerings by fire were made to Jehovah. (Numbers 28:11-15) The custom also arose of making religious visits on that day to where Jehovah’s altar was located. (2 Kings 4:23) This would draw many devout persons to Jerusalem. Hence the prophet Haggai should have had a larger crowd than usual to which to address the “word of Jehovah” on that day of Elul 1, 520 B.C.E. Haggai was doubtless at Jerusalem on that day, for his prophetic word was addressed to Governor Zerubbabel and High Priest Joshua who officiated at Jerusalem. Haggai’s message affected the whole nation and deserved to be heard.
THE NATIONAL HOUSE OF WORSHIP INVOLVED
11. That word of Jehovah by Haggai opened up by saying what?
11 What, now, did the word that occurred by means of the prophet Haggai say? Haggai 1:2 tells us: “This is what Jehovah of armies has said, ‘As regards this people, they have said: “The time has not come, the time of the house of Jehovah, for it to be built.”’” The people whom Haggai addressed had to admit this fact.
12. With what designation did God refer to himself, and of what value should this have been to those Jews?
12 Who, though, told “Jehovah of armies” what “this people” had been saying? Why, Jehovah of armies himself had heard it with his marvelous means of hearing from heaven. It was a striking way in which he referred to himself, namely, as “Jehovah of armies” (Yeho·wahʹ Tseba·othʹ, in Hebrew). Throughout the inspired Hebrew Scriptures, from Genesis to Malachi, this designation “Jehovah of armies” occurs 281 times, the prophet Samuel being the first to use it in writing, (1 Samuel 1:3) Even the inspired Christian writers, Paul and James, used it. (Romans 9:29; James 5:4) Was this reminder of Jehovah as being a Commander in Chief of heavenly armies a consolation to the then inhabitants of Jerusalem and the province of Judah?
13. Why should this have been of encouragement to the Jews under the circumstances of that time?
13 It should have been. At that time they had no standing army, such as the mightily armed nations of the world have today. When they left the Babylonish land of exile to return to their homeland, they had no army to accompany them for protection against marauders along the way. Even in the year 468 B.C.E., the scribe-priest Ezra refused to have a military force and horsemen from King Artaxerxes of Persia to accompany him to Jerusalem.—Ezra 8:22, 23.
14. What expressed personal opinion of those unarmed Jews excited Jehovah so greatly, and what was objectionable about it?
14 Now, what was it that this unarmed “people,” the inhabitants of Jerusalem and of Judah, had been saying that excited Jehovah of armies so greatly? This personal opinion of theirs: “The time has not come, the time of the house of Jehovah, for it to be built.” Such a “house” would be a building for the worship of Jehovah of armies at Jerusalem, where the high priest Joshua the son of Jehozadak could officiate along with all the other priests of the ancient family of Aaron. It would be a temple. Properly, such a house of worship or temple would be of interest to Jehovah of armies. “This people” of Jerusalem and Judah were worshipers of Jehovah. Why, then, were they saying, “The time has not come, the time of the house of Jehovah, for it to be built”? What was objectionable about that? At least, it showed a lack of interest in the fullest worship of their God. It also betrayed a lack of faith in the unconquerable “Jehovah of armies.” Consequently, “this people” was missing out on its prime purpose in being back there in Jerusalem and Judah. What was that?
DELINQUENCY TOWARD THE HOUSE OF DIVINE WORSHIP
15. (a) When were the Jewish exiles released from Babylon, and how? (b) What was the real purpose of releasing them to go back to their homeland?
15 Seventeen years before this, in the spring of the year of 537 B.C.E., these now residents of Jerusalem and Judah had been released from exile in Babylon. It was really Jehovah of armies who was repurchasing them and ransoming them that they might come over the Way of Holiness and return to Zion, as Jerusalem is also called. (Isaiah 35:8-10) Was the repurchasing of “this people” just to give these exiles a place to live away from idolatrous Babylon, preferably the beloved land of their forefathers? Or what really was the principal purpose of returning to this land that had lain desolate without man or domestic beast for seventy years, from the destruction of Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E. onward? (2 Chronicles 36:17-21) This is plainly stated in the imperial decree issued in 537 B.C.E. by Cyrus the Great, the Persian conqueror of Babylon on the Euphrates River. (2 Chronicles 36:22, 23) This decree is fully set out by the scribe-priest Ezra, in these words:
“And in the first year of Cyrus the king of Persia, that Jehovah’s word from 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 realm, 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, may his God prove to be with him. 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.”’ . . .
“Also, King Cyrus himself brought forth the utensils of the house of Jehovah, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought out from Jerusalem and then put in the house of his god. And Cyrus the king of Persia proceeded to bring them forth under the control of Mithredath the treasurer and to number them out to Sheshbazzar the chieftain of Judah. . . . All the utensils of gold and of silver were five thousand four hundred. Everything Sheshbazzar brought up, along with the bringing up of the exiled people out of Babylon to Jerusalem.”—Ezra 1:1-11.
16. (a) Who was “Sheshbazzar the chieftain of Judah”? (b) That the restored exiles realized what the real mission of their return to their homeland was is shown by what historical fact?
16 This “Sheshbazzar the chieftain of Judah” is apparently the same one as Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel the governor of Judah. (Ezra 2:1, 2; 5:1, 2, 14-16; Haggai 1:1, 14; 2:2, 21) Zerubbabel the governor of Judah and the rest of the returned exiles realized that their main mission in returning to their homeland was to rebuild the temple at Jerusalem for Jehovah’s worship. This is shown by a historical fact: At the end of the seventy years of desolation of Jerusalem and of Judah these repurchased exiles built an altar to Jehovah on the same location as that of the former temple altar, and later laid the foundation for building a new temple. We read:
“When the seventh month [Tishri] arrived the sons of Israel were in their cities. And the people began to gather themselves as one man to Jerusalem. And Jeshua the son of Jehozadak and his brothers the priests and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and his brothers proceeded to rise up and build the altar of the God of Israel, to offer up burnt sacrifices upon it, according to what is written in the law of Moses the man of the true God. So they established the altar firmly upon its own site, for fright came upon them because of the peoples of the lands, and they began offering up burnt sacrifices to Jehovah upon it, the burnt sacrifices of the morning and of the evening. Then they held the festival of booths [Tishri 15-22] according to what is written, with the burnt sacrifices day by day in number according to the rule of what was due each day. . . . From the first day of the seventh month [Tishri] on they started to offer up burnt sacrifices to Jehovah, when the foundation of Jehovah’s temple itself had not yet been laid. . . .
“And in the second year [536 B.C.E.] of their coming to the house of the true God at Jerusalem, in the second month [Ziv, or Iyyar; April/May], Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jehozadak and the rest of their brothers, the priests and the Levites, and all those who had come out of the captivity to Jerusalem started; and they now put in positions the Levites from twenty years of age upward to act as supervisors over the work of the house of Jehovah. . . . When the builders laid the foundation of the temple of Jehovah, then the priests in official clothing, with the trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph, with the cymbals, stood up to praise Jehovah according to the direction of David the king of Israel. And they began to respond by praising and giving thanks to Jehovah, ‘for he is good, for his loving-kindness toward Israel is to time indefinite.’ As for all the people, they shouted with a loud shout in praising Jehovah over the laying of the foundation of the house of Jehovah.
“And many of the priests and the Levites and the heads of the paternal houses, the old men that had seen the former house, were weeping with a loud voice at the laying of the foundation of this house before their eyes, while many others were raising the voice in shouting for joy. Hence the people were not distinguishing the sound of the shout of rejoicing from the sound of the weeping of the people, for the people were shouting with a loud shout, and the sound itself was heard even to a great distance.”—Ezra 3:1-13.
17, 18. When and why did the building activities on the temple stop?
17 At that time those repatriated Israelites were not saying: “The time has not come, the time of the house of Jehovah, for it to be built.” (Haggai 1:2) But soon there came opposition from the outside to those “sons of the Exile.” This was because the religiously purified Israelites would not let the outside pretending worshipers of Jehovah join with them in building the temple to the God of Israel. So these resentful rebuffed neighbors became adversaries and kept interfering with the temple rebuilding during all the rest of the reign of King Cyrus and the reigns of the succeeding kings of the Persian Empire down into the reign of King Darius Hystaspis the Persian. Before the reign of this Persian Darius I, those Palestinian adversaries succeeded in having the imperial ruler ban the work of rebuilding the temple of Jehovah by accusing the repatriated “sons of the Exile” of being seditionists.—Ezra 4:1-22.
18 The Bible calls the Persian emperor who issued the ban by the name of Artaxerxes, and says: “Now after the copy of the official document of Artaxerxes the king had been read before Rehum and Shimshai the scribe and their colleagues, they went in a hurry to Jerusalem to the Jews and stopped them by force of arms. It was then that the work on the house of God, which was in Jerusalem, stopped; and it continued stopped until the second year of the reign of Darius the king of Persia.”—Ezra 4:23, 24.
19. (a) About how many years did the temple work continue stopped? (b) Why did the ban put the temple builders in a quandary, but who finally pushed the case in the right direction?
19 The second year of the reign of King Darius I coincided with 520/519 B.C.E., and this meant that the stoppage of the work of building a new temple of Jehovah at Jerusalem lasted for about sixteen years, from the time that the foundation of this temple had been laid by Governor Zerubbabel and High Priest Joshua (or, Jeshua; Jesus, in the Greek Septuagint Version). This ban imposed by the Persian emperor, Artaxerxes, must have left the Jews in Jerusalem and Judah quite confused, in a quandary. They may have wondered how the ban of this later emperor could countermand the decree of King Cyrus the Great that was issued in 537 B.C.E. as part of the “law of the Medes and the Persians, which is not annulled.” (Daniel 6:8, 12) They did not think to put the matter to a test in the law courts of the Persian Empire, carrying the case even to the Supreme Court of the empire, to the court of last instance, which was with the emperor himself. The coming in of a new emperor, a successor to Artaxerxes, would allow for that. But who, now, would push the case? No one else but “Jehovah of armies” Himself.
20. Because of what previous prophecy by Isaiah was Jehovah unwilling to have the building decree by King Cyrus annulled?
20 Two centuries previously, by means of his prophet Isaiah, the Great Theocrat Jehovah had spoken of himself as “the One saying of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd, and all that I delight in he will completely carry out’; even in my saying of Jerusalem, ‘She will be rebuilt,’ and of the temple, ‘You will have your foundation laid.’ This is what Jehovah has said to his anointed one, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have taken hold of, to subdue before him nations.” (Isaiah 44:28–45:1) Consequently, it was not the will of Jehovah of armies that the decree of Cyrus concerning the house of Jehovah at Jerusalem should be annulled. Jehovah is not the kind of God that has the foundation of a building laid and then finds himself unable to complete the building, so that all the onlookers should “start to ridicule him, saying, “This [God] started to build but was not able to finish.’” (Luke 14:29, 30) No, Jehovah completes what he begins; his word never returns to him unfulfilled, “without results.”—Isaiah 55:11.
POPULAR OPINION AND IMPERIAL BAN CHALLENGED
21. How and in what year did Jehovah begin to correct the long-expressed misimpression of the Jews about temple building?
21 So now the time had come for Jehovah of armies to correct the long-expressed misimpression of the Jews in Jerusalem and Judah that the time had not yet come for the house of Jehovah to be rebuilt. What, then, did he do? He raised up prophets who were not afraid to speak out contrary to popular opinion. Ezra 5:1 tells us who these prophets were, saying: “And Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the grandson of Iddo the prophet prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and in Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel who was over them.” The opening verses of the recorded prophecies of Haggai 1:1 and Zechariah 1:1 give us the year when they started prophesying, namely, “in the second year of Darius the king” of Persia. But Haggai started off before Zechariah by having the word of Jehovah occur by means of him on the first day of the lunar month Elul, the day of the new moon when Jerusalem might have many pilgrims from the cities of Judah outside.
22. Of what did Haggai at the start need to notify the people, and as a challenge to popular opinion, what did they need to be shown?
22 First of all, the prophet Haggai notified the people there at Jerusalem that Jehovah of armies knows what they are saying about the time for building His house of worship, the building of which was authorized by the Persian emperor, Cyrus the Great. Divine patience had been exercised long enough with the Jews who were of that frame of mind. Now, when the situation seemed to be at its worst, when the steady opposition of the pagan religious adversaries had been reinforced by an imperial ban, even now was the time for the popular opinion of this repurchased people to be challenged. They needed to be shown what they were guilty of and the reason why things had been going so badly with them.
23. How did the challenge presented show a connection between the condition of Jehovah’s house then and their economic condition?
23 Now comes the challenge! “And the word of Jehovah continued to come by means of Haggai the prophet, saying: ‘Is it the time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house is waste? And now this is what Jehovah of armies has said, “Set your heart upon your ways. You have sown much seed, but there is a bringing of little in. There is an eating, but it is not to satisfaction. There is a drinking, but not to the point of getting intoxicated. There is a putting on of clothes, but it is not with anyone’s getting warm; and he that is hiring himself out is hiring himself out for a bag having holes [and the wage-earner earning into a pocket with a hole in it].”’”—Haggai 1:3-6, NW; By.
24. What unbalanced state of affairs was there between their personal houses and Jehovah’s house, and what questions did this raise?
24 There was a vital reason for their faring so poorly in a material way. Those repatriated Jews were saying that it was not the time for them to build the temple of Jehovah, and so “this house” of divine worship was lying “waste,” with just a foundation laid back in 536 B.C.E., but with no superstructure thereon. At the same time they themselves were living in their well-roofed houses with a ceiling and with their walls nicely paneled with fine woods. What a marked contrast there was between their private homes for fleshly comforts and the sacred house of Jehovah for the spiritual interests of the whole nation! Was this not an unbalanced state of affairs? Did this not betray that they were putting more emphasis on material things, comforts of their own flesh, than on their spiritual needs and their obligations to the Great Theocrat, Jehovah? Was this without consequences to them, not only to them in a spiritual way but also in a material way? Were they hurting themselves, not only religiously, but also economically? Yes!
25. What was the vital reason for it that they hurt themselves, not just religiously, but economically, in a material way?
25 Why also economically, in a material way? Because theirs was a God-given land. Jehovah had also repurchased them from Babylon and brought them back as his ransomed people to that land. “So,” as He had long ago told their forefathers, “the land should not be sold in perpetuity, because the land is mine. For you are alien residents and settlers from my standpoint.” (Leviticus 25:23) As the land was His, he could make the land prosper and he could hold back his blessing from the land. He thus became responsible for its productivity. If he was displeased with his ransomed people, would he not logically withhold his blessing? And through his prophet Haggai did He not indicate divine displeasure because his house, the most important house in the whole land of Judah, was lying waste, and that for so many years?
26. The connection between Jehovah’s house being waste and their bad economic condition was due to what things?
26 Under the circumstances, there must have been some connection between the “waste” condition of Jehovah’s house of worship and the fact that these ransomed Jews were sowing much seed on the God-given land and yet they were bringing in little in the way of crops. They were reaping something to eat, indeed, but it was not enough to satisfy their desires or needs. They were drinking wine made from the juice of their vineyards, but they did not have a large enough vintage so as to make sufficient wine that they could go as far as getting themselves intoxicated thereon. They were able to manufacture something to put on the outside of their bodies, but not enough, or not of such quality, as to keep them warm during cold weather. And if any needy ones hired themselves out to earn a living or to help in meeting expenses, it seemed as if the money they earned was put into a money bag full of holes to let the coins drop out and be lost with no benefit to the wage earners. In view of the relationship of these occupants of the land to the heavenly Owner of the land and their religious obligations to Him, there must have been some vital connection between his “waste” house and their economic depression.
27. How did Jehovah’s earlier prophecy at Ezekiel 36:33-36 indicate that there was such a connection?
27 This connection must have been real in view of what Jehovah their God had promised by means of his prophet Ezekiel shortly after the destruction of Jerusalem and the desolating of the land of Judah more than seventy years ago: “This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said, ‘In the day of my cleansing you from all your errors I will also cause the cities to be inhabited, and the devastated places must be rebuilt. And the desolated land itself will be cultivated, whereas it had become a desolate waste before the eyes of every passerby. And people will certainly say: “That land yonder which was laid desolate has become like the garden of Eden, and the cities that were a waste and that were laid desolate and that were torn down are fortified; they have become inhabited.” And the nations that will be left remaining round about you will have to know that I myself, Jehovah, have built the things torn down, I have planted what has been laid desolate. I myself, Jehovah, have spoken and I have done it.’”—Ezekiel 36:33-36.
28. Why was it that by the year 520 B.C.E. that prophecy through Ezekiel had not been fulfilled upon the Jews, and why should we today apply the point of this to ourselves?
28 When the ransomed remnant of God-fearing Jews returned to the desolated land in 537 B.C.E., they had the highest hopes of having such a glowing prophecy fulfilled. But now, by the year 520 B.C.E., their highest hopes had been disappointed. Why? Yes, why were not the pagan peoples round about saying: “That land yonder which was laid desolate has become like the garden of Eden”? The reason why is obvious: The ransomed remnant of Jews were neglecting the worship of the One who had made such a grand promise through the prophet Ezekiel. Is there not a point in this that we today, who hope in the transformation of the whole earth into a Paradise, should take to heart? Yes. But what was the remedy that needed to be applied back there? It should be an advisory example for us now.