The Remedy for Those with Disappointed Hopes
1. It was still what date, and Jehovah raised up Haggai to help the Jews to see the connection between what two things?
IT IS still Elul 1, or the first day of the sixth lunar month, in the second year of the reign of Darius I, the king of the Persian Empire. That would be about the middle of the month of August of the year 520 B.C.E., according to our calendar of today. (Haggai 1:1) By means of his prophet Haggai, Jehovah was calling attention to the ways of his repurchased people whom he had restored to their homeland after it had lain desolate for seventy years. (2 Chronicles 36:17-21) Jehovah was urging them to give heartfelt consideration to the unusual ways in which things were happening to them. Then they would be able to see the connection between their having all their hard work on the land prove to be so unrewarding and their letting the house of Jehovah’s worship lie waste, although they were taking good care of themselves as to housing conditions.—Haggai 1:2-6.
2. Basically, what kind of issue was it for those Jews, and so who could prescribe the right remedy, and how did the prescription begin?
2 Was the reason for the Jews to fare so badly after being back on their homeland for seventeen years basically a religious one? If it was, then Jehovah was the One who could unerringly point out to them that reason and also prescribe the remedy. He was not pleased at their being so concerned about their material welfare and their neglecting his house of worship. So, after putting up with this unbalanced attitude of theirs for so long a time, he said to them by means of the prophet Haggai: “This is what Jehovah of armies has said, ‘Set your hearts upon your ways.’ ‘Go up to the mountain, and you must bring in lumber. And build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and I may be glorified,’ Jehovah has said.” Then to point out what was really responsible for their disappointing results from such hard work, he had Haggai prophesy further:
3. Who claimed to be responsible for their bad economic plight?
3 “‘There was a looking for much, but here there was just a little; and you have brought it into the house, and I blew upon it—for what reason?’ is the utterance of Jehovah of armies. ‘By reason of my house that is waste, while you are on the run, each one in behalf of his own house. Therefore over you the heavens kept back their dew, and the earth itself kept back its yield. And I kept calling for dryness upon the earth, and upon the mountains, and upon the grain, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon what the ground would bring forth, and upon earthling man, and upon domestic animal, and upon all the toil of the hands.’”—Haggai 1:7-11.
4. Despite the imperial ban, what action did Jehovah prescribe for the Jews to take, and what decisive question did this pose for the Jews?
4 When those foregoing words were declared, the unconstitutional ban that was laid by the late King Artaxerxes of Persia upon the building of Jehovah’s temple at Jerusalem was still in effect. Yet Jehovah of armies, speaking through Haggai, told the hard-faring Jews to get materials and “build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and I may be glorified.” (Haggai 1:8) The question at issue now became, Which is to be obeyed—Jehovah’s will or the imperial ban, the will of a now dead misinformed man? Whose order is to be carried out—that of the living Most High God, the Great Theocrat, or that of a dead Persian emperor? If they did as the later Christian apostles did, “obey God as ruler rather than men,” they would arouse the objections and opposition of those who favored the ban, but they would gain the approval of God. (Acts 5:29) They were already pleasing those pagan oppositionists but were displeasing God. So, now, were they willing to stir up the displeasure of their pagan adversaries and thereby win the good pleasure of Jehovah of armies?
5. What could the adversaries and opposers not control, and what could they not remove in behalf of the Jews?
5 Those pagan adversaries could not control the weather of the land of Judah. Not even the whole Persian Empire could do so. They could not cause the heavens to produce the needed dew in the dry season of the year. They could not cause the earth to render its yield, so that the Jewish tillers of the soil not only sowed much and looked for much but also brought in much. Or, conversely, those imperial Persians and the neighboring adversaries of the Jews could not remove, during the ordinarily wet season, the dryness that came upon the earth, upon the grain, upon the new wine, upon the oil, upon all other produce of the ground, nor the dryness that came upon man, domestic animal and what men toiled for with their hands. But Jehovah of armies could do so, for those adverse things were from him in expression of his displeasure.
6. For that reason, whom should the Jews fear, but how were they not showing that fear?
6 Unlike those Israelites referred to in Jeremiah 5:24, the repatriated Jews should not fear the wrath of the Persian Empire but should say: “Let us, now, fear Jehovah our God, the One who is giving the downpour and the autumn rain and the spring rain in its season, the One who guards even the prescribed weeks of the harvest for us.” (Jeremiah 10:10-13) Such fear of Jehovah they could not show by merely running to their own private houses so as to get as quickly as possible into their own cozy homes while at the same time letting the house of worship of their God lie waste. The house of so great a Personage as Jehovah of armies, the Great Theocrat, ought to be put first. Fear of man ought not to deter them from building it, that he might take pleasure in it and be glorified.
7, 8. (a) Why did Jehovah tell the Jews to bring in lumber for the house? (b) Why was such a material house not necessary, and yet fitting, for Jehovah?
7 That was the remedy for their having such disappointing conditions in a material and spiritual sense—namely, obey God as ruler rather than man and go ahead and build God’s house of worship. Let them go up to the forest-clad mountain and fell trees and bring in lumber for building the all-important house. Not that God’s temple was to be built all of wood. But the stones of the former demolished temple were lying there at the site, and wood for paneling and other needs was the material most required to be prepared. Not as though Jehovah of armies needed an earthly material house as a home in which to dwell among the well-housed Jews. He already had his dwelling place not made with human hands, in the holy heavens, and this stone and wood temple on Mount Moriah at Jerusalem was just a representation of a future spiritual temple, a true house of worship of the Most High God. It was just as Solomon the temple builder said:
8 “But will God truly dwell upon the earth? Look! The heavens, yes, the heaven of the heavens, themselves cannot contain you; how much less, then, this house that I have built!”—1 Kings 8:27.
9. (a) Hence, how would God reside in that house? (b) By worshiping at such a temple, what would the Jews renew, with what results to themselves?
9 Hence God would dwell in the rebuilt temple at Jerusalem, not personally, but only by his spirit, his holy invisible active force, and by turning his face or attention to that temple. He would sanctify it or make it a holy house, and it would be the center of religious worship for the whole nation. There sacrifices for individuals or for the whole nation would be offered on the one authorized altar, and it would be the place to which the nation would assemble during its three annual festivals and on the Day of Atonement for the whole nation. There the high priest Joshua the son of Jehozadak and all the underpriests could officiate in behalf of the people. Thus the nation of Israel could maintain renewed relationship with their Theocratic Ruler, Jehovah, and keep in good condition spiritually. Jehovah would be glorified by the rebuilding of the temple upon which His name would be placed, and he would make his good pleasure known by pouring down blessings upon them, blessings spiritual and material.
OBEYING GOD AS RULER? OR MAN?
10, 11. To whom was Haggai’s opening prophecy addressed, and the action that followed showed that what decision had been made?
10 The prophet Haggai’s opening message was directed specially “to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, the governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak the high priest.” (Haggai 1:1) This made it obligatory upon them to take the lead and set the right example for the whole nation. However, those two men, the governor and the high priest, knew what to expect from the adversaries if they resumed the building of the temple at Jerusalem. What does history show that they did—obey Jehovah of armies as Ruler or man? They put spiritual interests first and obeyed God. Haggai reports:
11 “And Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Jehozadak the high priest, and all the remaining ones of the people began to listen to the voice of Jehovah their God, and to the words of Haggai the prophet, as Jehovah their God had sent him; and the people began to fear because of Jehovah.”—Haggai 1:12.
12. The people appreciated the sender of Haggai to be whom, and what fear did they overcome?
12 By the message that the prophet proclaimed to them on that day of the sixth new moon of the year, the people knew where this courageous Haggai stood on the issue of obeying God or man. They realized that Jehovah had sent Haggai, and that is why they listened to him as the conveyor of Jehovah’s message of the hour. Openheartedly they considered what he had to say, although it was in the nature of a reproof. They got the point of God’s line of reasoning with them. They appreciated their failure, their delinquency. They had good cause for fearing before Jehovah. It was the Commander in Chief of heavenly armies who was speaking through his prophet Haggai, and their fear of this Jehovah of armies overwhelmed any fear of men or even of the Persian Empire. Still they need encouragement, and Haggai was now used to give it to them:
13. What encouraging message did Haggai then give the people?
13 “And Haggai the messenger of Jehovah went on to say to the people according to the messenger’s commission from Jehovah, saying: ‘I am with you people,’ is the utterance of Jehovah.”—Haggai 1:13.
14. In view of all the adversaries, what did this message mean to the temple builders, and what rule stated later by Jesus Christ would they be following by proceeding to build?
14 What more encouraging message could those God-fearing Jews get than that? The neighboring adversaries might have the whole Persian Empire on their side, but the repurchased Israelites, by a course of obedience, had Jehovah of armies on their side. Jehovah was not going to be displeased by their going ahead and rebuilding his temple. To paraphrase the rule laid down by Jesus Christ more than five hundred and fifty years later, the things belonging to Caesar (or the emperor) needed to be rendered to Caesar, but the things belonging to God must likewise be paid to God, and His things come first. (Matthew 22:21) For acting according to that rule, they would have Jehovah with them. That guaranteed success in building the temple.
15. Why did more than three weeks now pass before the people entered in and did work in Jehovah’s house?
15 Confident now in their Almighty God, the nation addressed itself to the main project for which they had taken the long trek back from Babylon to their sacred homeland. Three weeks and more passed, not because of any fearful postponing of operations, but for the sake of organizing matters for a proper start. They were all strongly stirred with God’s spirit or invisible active force, and it acted as a driving force inside them. Came the twenty-fourth day of that lunar month of Elul, and what? Haggai, you were there; tell us. “And Jehovah proceeded to rouse up the spirit of Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, the governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua the son of Jehozadak the high priest, and the spirit of all the remaining ones of the people; and they began to enter in and to do the work in the house of Jehovah of armies their God. It was on the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month in the second year of Darius the king.”—Haggai 1:14, 15.
16. Before Haggai began prophesying, into what attitude had the Jews slumped, but now what were they stirred up to do?
16 Before Haggai’s prophecy on the first day of the sixth month that year, Governor Zerubbabel and High Priest Joshua and the repatriated remnant of the Jewish people had lost the urge, the inclination, the sense of urgency, the zeal and enthusiasm for rebuilding Jehovah’s temple. They had succumbed to the opposition and interference of their adversaries and were saying to themselves: “The time has not come, the time of the house of Jehovah, for it to be built.” (Haggai 1:2) But now, due to Haggai’s message from their God, they began to see matters differently. So the Commander in Chief, Jehovah of armies, stirred up the spirit of them all. After necessary organizing and preparing, they got down to their most important work in the land of Judah, doing the preliminaries to all the actual construction work on the temple of their God. The time is dated: it was on Elul 24 of the second year of Darius I, the king of Persia. This was toward the middle of September of the year 520 B.C.E. It was the time of the year for the dews to begin forming on the vegetation after the midsummer dry season.
17. What did such preliminary work include, and why did the Jews not care whether the adversaries noticed their work?
17 Doubtless Jehovah of armies was pleased to see this advance work launched. There was lumber to be cut and sawed for beams and paneling; there must have been some quarrying of stone. And debris would have to be cleared off the historical location of the temple that had long ago been purchased by King David in the eleventh century before our Common Era. (2 Samuel 24:18-25; 1 Chronicles 21:18 to 22:19; 2 Chronicles 3:1) Such debris may have been the accumulation of years. Whether the neighboring pagan adversaries of the Jews took note of this preliminary activity, we do not know. But even if they did, the busy Jews did not care. They knew that they had the approval of their God and that they were doing his work, and that the invincible Jehovah of armies was on their side. Nevertheless, heavy opposition was bound to arise from the enemy quarter. How successful would it be this time? We shall see.
18. Has there been a modern-day parallel of that, and to whose writings do we here resort?
18 Is there any historical parallel of this in modern times that lifts this ancient event out of the realm of purely dead history? We have reason to believe that there is. A Jewish writer of the first century of our Common Era, a Pharisee of the tribe of Benjamin and named Saul of Tarsus in Asia Minor, took a look back at the ancient history of his people and then wrote down his observations. To whom did he write? He sent his letter to imperial Rome in Italy, but not to any so-called “Bishop of Rome, Successor to the Prince of the Apostles, Vicar of Christ.” Not at all. At that time Christendom with such a religious dignitary had not yet got started, but had to wait for Emperor Constantine the Great of the fourth century to start it. Saul of Tarsus, who had now become an apostle of Jesus Christ and was called Paul, wrote his letter to the congregation of primitive Christians in Rome and discussed much of the inspired Hebrew Scriptures.
19. What Paul wrote in Romans 15:4 includes what prophetic book?
19 In what is now listed as Romans, chapter fifteen, verse four, Paul wrote: “For all the things that were written aforetime were written for our instruction, that through our endurance and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 1:1-7) Those Scriptures included Haggai.
20. According to 1 Corinthians 10:6-11, why may we look for typical value in the record of Haggai?
20 The apostle Paul also wrote a couple of letters to the Christian congregation in Corinth in the Roman province of Achaia, and in his first letter, chapter ten, he tells about events in ancient Jewish life and says: “Now these things became our examples [types, Greek], for us not to be persons desiring injurious things, even as they desired them. . . . Now these things went on befalling them as examples [typically, Greek], and they were written for a warning to us upon whom the ends of the systems of things have arrived.” (1 Corinthians 10:6-11) It is reasonable to expect, then, that the events related by the prophet Haggai are also of a typical or exemplary value. In fact, in an inspired letter to the Hebrews the apostle Paul quotes from Haggai and makes an application of it, not to the unchristianized Hebrews, but to the natural circumcised Hebrews who had accepted Jesus Christ as the long-promised Messiah. (Haggai 2:6; Hebrews 12:25-29) So we today may look for typical values in the record of Haggai.
A SPIRITUAL ISRAEL BECOMES INVOLVED
21. In Revelation 11:1-4, how does the apostle John describe a typical temple revealed to him?
21 Haggai was used in connection with the rebuilding of the typical temple of Jehovah at Jerusalem in the days of Governor Zerubbabel and High Priest Joshua (Jesus, Greek). The last surviving Christian apostle, John the son of Zebedee of Galilee, was exiled by the Roman Empire to the penal Isle of Patmos and had a series of inspired visions there. In one of these visions he saw a typical temple, concerning which he writes: “And a reed like a rod was given me as he said: ‘Get up and measure the temple sanctuary of God and the altar and those worshiping in it. But as for the courtyard that is outside the temple sanctuary, cast it clear out and do not measure it, because it has been given to the nations, and they will trample the holy city underfoot for forty-two months. And I will cause my two witnesses to prophesy a thousand two hundred and sixty days dressed in sackcloth.’”—Revelation 11:1-4.
22. (a) What kind of witnesses were those “two witnesses”? (b) Upon what was John relying now for relationship with Jehovah?
22 In this case these symbolic “two witnesses” of the God of the temple would be Christian witnesses of the Most High God, for the apostle John was being shown things that were yet to come to pass, not things of past Jewish history. (Revelation 1:1-6) The apostle John classed himself as one of the Christian witnesses. (Revelation 1:9; 19:9, 10) At the time of this Revelation to John, the rebuilt temple at Jerusalem in the Roman province of Judea had been destroyed along with the holy city back in the year 70 of our Common Era, just as the Messiah, Jesus Christ, had predicted. (Matthew 24:1-22; Mark 13:1-20; Luke 21:5-24) Because of becoming a disciple of the Messiah, whom the Jewish nation had rejected, John had parted company with the unbelieving natural Israelites. He no longer depended on his being an Israelite by birth as a basis for relationship with Jehovah of armies. He depended on his being a spiritual Israelite, one begotten by the spirit of God, for having relationship with Jehovah of armies. John was now a ‘Jew on the inside.’ His circumcision was “that of the heart by spirit.”—Romans 2:29.
23. To what “Israel” did John now belong, and at what temple did he worship Jehovah?
23 Spiritually, therefore, the apostle John was a “new creation.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) This is the thing that counts with God, according to what the apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 6:14-16, saying: “Never may it occur that I should boast, except in the torture stake of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom the world has been impaled to me and I to the world. For neither is circumcision anything nor is uncircumcision, but a new creation is something. And all those who will walk orderly by this rule of conduct, upon them be peace and mercy, even upon the Israel of God.” The apostle John was one of that spiritual “Israel of God.” As such, he did not need to have a temple of stone and wood at Jerusalem in order to worship Jehovah of armies. As a spiritual Israelite, he worshiped Jehovah God at His great spiritual temple, the one that had been typified by the material, earthly temple that had stood in Jerusalem. (Hebrews 9:23-26; 8:1, 2) Just think if we had to have a material temple at Jerusalem in which to worship Jehovah God. Where would we be? But we can worship at the spiritual temple where John did.
24. So, who were those symbolic “two witnesses,” when were they trampled upon by the nations, and how did they prophesy in sackcloth?
24 So, in the Revelation to John, those who are spoken of by God as “my two witnesses” are spiritual Israelites, dedicated, baptized followers of the Messiah whom John followed, namely, Jesus Christ. As worshipers of Jehovah of armies, as it were, in the courtyard of his spiritual temple, they were trampled underfoot by the Gentile nations “for forty-two months.” This was during World War I of the years 1914-1918. During that time these symbolic “two witnesses” prophesied in sackcloth, in the sense that the message they publicly proclaimed was a mournful one. It foretold the coming destruction, the violent death, of all the Gentile nations now that the “times of the Gentiles” had ended in early fall of the year 1914. (Luke 21:24) Like gloomy-looking prophets, dressed in the mournful garb of sackcloth, they prophesied for one thousand two hundred and sixty days during the first world war. (Revelation 11:1-3) What happened to them then, as foreseen by the apostle John?
25. According to John’s vision, what happened to them after they had finished their testifying?
25 “And when they have finished their witnessing, the wild beast that ascends out of the abyss 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.”—Revelation 11:7, 8.
26. How was that prophetic picture fulfilled during World War I?
26 That wild beast out of the abyss is later shown to symbolize the world organization of politics now millenniums old. In the spring of the year 1918, before World War I was over, this beastly political organization took advantage of war conditions to ban literature on the Bible as used by the “two witnesses” class and imprisoned dedicated Christians who were foremost in publishing it. Thus the free public work of the symbolic “two witnesses” was killed; and as far as public witnessing for Jehovah’s theocratic government is concerned, they were like dead bodies lying in the streets of Christendom, exposed to shame and religious persecution.
27. At that time they were like the Israelites in what condition, but why did this not last long for these “witnesses”?
27 At that time those dedicated, baptized Christian worshipers at the spiritual temple of Jehovah of armies were like those natural Israelites exiled in Babylon from 607 to 537 B.C.E. But the prophetic vision in Revelation forevisioned that that condition would not last long with these symbolic “two witnesses”—as it were, only “for three and a half days.” What then? Were their corpses buried? No! They were revived. “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.” (Revelation 11:9-11) So, too, these persecuted Christian “prophets” concerning God’s newborn Messianic kingdom were not buried forever in Christendom nor in all the rest of Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion. In the spring of the year 1919 “spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet,” making a reappearance publicly as the commissioned witnesses for God’s kingdom of His Messiah. Like the Israelite remnant of Haggai’s day, who were brought back from Babylon to Jerusalem and Judah, they reoccupied their right spiritual estate.
28. Like the repatriated Jews in Haggai’s day, what was it now the time for these liberated “witnesses” to do?
28 At that time, although officers and headquarters members of the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society were released from prison, bans were still on literature published by this Society and formerly distributed internationally by the dedicated, baptized Christian Bible students. However, as in the ancient case of the Israelites repatriated to their homeland, the public worship of Jehovah of armies at his spiritual temple needed to be revived, built up. Service at his spiritual temple needed to be given first place in their liberated spiritual estate. Materialistic opportunities of the postwar period were not to be given priority ahead of God’s worship and Kingdom service. Fear of men had to be dispelled and complete trust and confidence to be reposed in the Great Theocrat, Jehovah of armies. Time of mourning over previous wartime persecutions, hardships and captivity was now past. In their restored spiritual estate of right relationship with Jehovah of armies, they had entered into a festival time for spiritual rejoicing and of praise and thanksgiving to their great Liberator, Jehovah.
29. It was the time for whom in a modern-day style, and how did the voice of such one begin to be heard, as in the Watch Tower issue of May 15, 1919?
29 It was the time for a modern-day Haggai, inasmuch as the name Haggai means “Festive; Festal,” or, if Haggai is just the shortened form for Haggiah, it means “Festival [Hhag] of Yah,” that is to say, “Festival of Jehovah.” At this appropriate time a voice like that of Haggai, “the messenger of Jehovah,” began to be heard. Let us note this message that was published on page 150 of the May 15, 1919, issue of The Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence. This message was in column 2 and under the subheading entitled “Seasons of Refreshing.” It read:
All the Lord’s apostles pointed to the second coming of the Lord and mark it as a day of blessing for mankind. St. Paul referring to that time said: “God hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness.” (Acts 17:31) The Apostle Peter describes it as a time of refreshing, when restitution blessings should be offered to all mankind, which blessings God foretold through the mouth of all his holy prophets. All the prophets from Samuel to Malachi foretold the coming of that day and St. Paul distinctly informs us that all these things were written aforetime for the benefit of those who are living in the very time in which we now find ourselves. (Romans 15:4) Jesus, in his great prophecy, foretold the falling away of the clergy and the teaching of false doctrines. He foretold the troublesome condition we now see upon the earth, and then showed that his kingdom alone would bring the desired blessings to the people. The prophet said: “He will shake all nations and [then] the desire of all nations shall come.” (Haggai 2:7) The shaking process is on now. War, revolution, etc., constitute the shaking. “Then [at that time] Michael will stand up, the great prince that standeth for the children of thy people.”—Daniel 12:1.
What a wonderful opportunity the clergy are missing by not heeding the Word of the Lord and telling the people now how they can have their desire—peace, happiness, plenty, liberty and life everlasting. Instead of doing that, many of them engage in the persecution of humbler Christians who once were members of their flock and who are striving in their feeble way to announce the incoming of Messiah’s kingdom. Jesus foretold that such would be another evidence of the setting up of the new order.—Luke 21:12, 13.
A MODERN-DAY HAGGAI
30. In the postwar period, who did give an encouraging message like that of Haggai, and why had God spared them through the experiences of World War I?
30 The religious clergy of Christendom failed to give such a stimulating message like that of ancient Haggai. But thousands of dedicated, baptized Christian readers of the Watch Tower magazine did respond, now that they had survived the trialsome period of World War I and had been reinstated in their rightful spiritual estate on earth by Jehovah of armies. They were helped to realize something very consequential. What? That, if they engrossed themselves in the opportunities that the postwar period opened up for them to attain material prosperity, they would suffer spiritually. They would bring upon themselves Jehovah’s disfavor. They began to appreciate that they had not been preserved through the trials and persecutions of the world war period just to enter into the material comforts of life and settle down with the world under the protection of the proposed League of Nations for world peace and security. To the contrary, Jehovah had mercifully spared them that they might give first attention to His worship and service at his spiritual temple. He meant for them to bear witness to the Messianic kingdom as mankind’s only hope, and not to the League of Nations.
31, 32. (a) How may there have been some uncertainty and timidity, as in Haggai’s day, as indicated in the Watch Tower issue of August 1, 1919? (b) But what special encouragement was also given therein?
31 As in the days of the prophet Haggai during the second year of the Persian king Darius I, there may have been some uncertainty and timidity about going ahead in Jehovah’s public service. Then in the Watch Tower issue of August 1, 1919, there appeared the first part of the leading article “Blessed Are the Fearless.” This article had as its theme text Luke 12:32 (Authorized Version), which reads: “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” What made the matter all the more electrifying was the appearance in that same magazine issue of the full-page article entitled “General Convention: Cedar Point, Lake Erie.” It was to be a week-long assembly. Among other things this announcement on page 235 said:
32 “It has been the custom of the Society [the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society] to hold one general convention each year. Last year  we missed this, because of conditions prevailing at that time. Notwithstanding the local conventions held during the present year, it is seemingly pleasing to the Lord that the International Bible Students Association have one general convention, affording opportunity for the friends to attend from all parts of the United States and Canada. . . . It is expected that this will be the largest and most helpful general convention that has been held for many years. It will afford opportunity for discussion and preparation for the future great work that is before us.”
33. What further encouraging message was given in the next following issue of The Watch Tower?
33 In the next following magazine issue (that of August 15, 1919) came Part II of the article “Blessed Are the Fearless.” The second last paragraph of this said:
This little band of Christians are fighting the greatest fight of all times. There will never be another like it. The great God of the universe has arranged it; the great Redeemer, the King of kings and Lord of lords, is the Captain and Leader of this little band. We know that he is absolutely certain of victory, and we therefore know that after being called and chosen to run in this race, if we continue faithful, fearless, prompted by love in our actions, serving him at every possible opportunity loyally to the end, we shall ultimately stand victors with him and hear the approval of the Father, “Well done, good and faithful servants.” Let us then fear not, for “the eternal God is our refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms.”
34. (a) What effect did that message have upon the anointed remnant? (b) How was the eight-day convention at Cedar Point, Ohio, like a “festival of Jehovah”?
34 This had the same heartening, stirring effect as if the prophet Haggai were saying to this dedicated, baptized remnant of spiritual Israelites: “‘I am with you people,’ is the utterance of Jehovah.” (Haggai 1:13) Cedar Point, Ohio, on Lake Erie, being near the border between Canada and the United States, about 6,000 of the remnant from both countries flocked to the eight-day-long convention at that recreation resort on the lake. They rejoiced together as at a “festival of Jehovah.” They eagerly listened to the many Bible talks given by able speakers. They learned of the special feature of the work ahead of them and responded to this information joyfully. On Saturday afternoon, September 6, afternoon a baptismal talk over 200 symbolized their dedication of themselves to Jehovah God by immersion in Lake Erie. On Sunday after about 7,000 heard the public lecture, “The Hope for Distressed Humanity,” as delivered by the Watch Tower Society’s president who had been released from unjust imprisonment the previous March 26, 1919. God’s Messianic kingdom was that hope, not the League of Nations.
35. How far-reaching was the effect of that first postwar general convention, and this was like what in Haggai’s day?
35 The effect of that first postwar general convention was felt around the earth by the dedicated, baptized, anointed remnant of Jehovah God. Fearless of man, they zealously addressed themselves to the spiritual work that the Great Theocrat had set before them. It was like on that twenty-fourth day of the sixth month (Elul) of the second year of Darius I of Persia, when Jehovah roused up the spirit of Governor Zerubbabel, High Priest Joshua, and the remnant of the Jewish people there in Judah. Putting earthly material interests in a secondary place, the remnant of anointed Christians applied themselves to the service of Jehovah of armies at his temple. Of course, this was all under the invisible direction of the Greater Zerubbabel and the Greater High Priest Joshua, namely, the Lord Jesus Christ who had entered upon his Messianic reign as King-Priest like the ancient Priest Melchizedek, king of Salem. (Psalm 110:1-4; Acts 2:34-36; Hebrews 5:5, 6; 7:1-22; Haggai 1:14, 15) The enemies were bound to observe this activity of the remnant.
36. How did this correspond with the experience of the “two witnesses” after they stood up alive again on their feet, and so what took place with the modern-day “two witnesses”?
36 It was just as in the case of the symbolic “two witnesses” of Jehovah, who were revived after lying dead three and a half days on the broad way of the “great city.” After those “two witnesses” stood upon their feet, to the great dismay of their enemies, what followed? “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)a Those symbolic “two witnesses” thus became heavenly witnesses of Jehovah God the Almighty. True to that vision, the faithful remnant of the anointed witnesses of Jehovah responded to his call, back there in 1919 C.E., and entered fearlessly upon his temple service. This separated them from war-guilty Christendom and her League of Nations, and elevated them heaven-high above their religious enemies so that the level of their spiritual ministry is far higher than that of Christendom’s clergy. They are ministers and witnesses of the Most High God.
a See Chapter 19, entitled “Death and Resurrection of the ‘Two Witnesses,’” on pages 259-282, of the book “Then Is Finished the Mystery of God,” published in 1969.