Blessings and Good Rulership as the World Rocks
1. In the month following his opening prophecy, what did Zechariah see take place, and what did this move Jehovah to do?
THE OPENING prophecy of Zechariah in the eighth lunar month (Heshvan) in the second year of the reign of King Darius I of the Persian Empire was short, yet timely and pointed. (Zechariah 1:1-6) In the very next month the prophet Zechariah saw take place at Jerusalem significant action upon which the future welfare of the Jewish nation was hinged. On the twenty-fourth day of the ninth lunar month (Chislev) “the foundation of the temple of Jehovah was laid”! Zechariah’s companion prophet, Haggai, records that momentous fact. (Haggai 2:18) That action taken in the face of an imperial ban against the rebuilding of the temple at Jerusalem was of such religious importance that it moved Jehovah of armies to inspire Haggai to prophesy again.
2, 3. (a) To whom was Haggai’s first prophecy on Chislev 24, 520 B.C.E., addressed? (b) What start of a dialogue does Haggai 2:10-12 record?
2 The first one of Haggai’s prophecies on that historical day was addressed to the Levite priests who were hoping to serve in Jehovah’s temple when completed. Those priests of the family of Aaron the Levite included the high priest, Joshua the son of Jehozadak. It impressed upon all those priests a lesson that is important for us in this late day. So let us read Haggai’s record of it and follow the dialogue that took place:
3 “In the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of Jehovah occurred to Haggai the prophet, saying: ‘This is what Jehovah of armies has said, “Ask, please, the priests as to the law, saying: ‘If a man carries holy flesh in the skirt of his garment, and he actually touches with his skirt bread or stew or wine or oil or any sort of food, will it become holy?’”’”—Haggai 2:10-12.
4. According to Malachi 2:7, why should those priests have been able to answer that test question, and yet what may have affected them?
4 The “law” here spoken of is the divine law given through the prophet Moses and has reference to ceremonial matters and to the priests who would be the ones that carried “holy flesh.” Of course, the priests should have been familiar with the Mosaic law, for it is said by the later prophet Malachi: “The lips of a priest are the ones that should keep knowledge, and the law is what people should seek from his mouth; for he is the messenger of Jehovah of armies.” (Malachi 2:7) Reasonably, then, the priests should have been able to answer correctly the test question put to them by means of Haggai. Or had their familiarity with the law been affected by seventy years of desolation of the land of Judah during which the Jews had been exiles in the land of Babylon, and also by the troublous seventeen years that had elapsed since the return of the faithful remnant to their homeland? So how did the priests answer?
5. What law may those priests have had in mind in giving their right answer, and so what should an unclean person not think about gaining holiness?
5 “And the priests proceeded to answer and say: ‘No!’” (Haggai 2:12) That is to say, “Holy flesh” of an animal victim that had been offered to Jehovah in sacrifice did not impart its holiness to any other foodstuff with which it might accidentally be brought in contact. For a guiding rule as to this answer, the priests may have had in mind what the Mosaic law says in Leviticus 7:19, 20: “The flesh that may touch anything unclean is not to be eaten. It is to be burned with fire. As for the flesh, everybody clean may eat the flesh. And the soul who eats the flesh of the communion sacrifice, which is for Jehovah, while his uncleanness is upon him, that soul must be cut off from his people.” According to this, an Israelite who was unclean for any reason (Leviticus 7:21) should not think that because he comes in touch with “holy flesh” by eating it he is thereby cleansed, that what he has eaten has imparted holiness to him. Wrong reasoning according to the Law!
6. What question did Haggai next propose, and with what answer?
6 The prophet Haggai did not say that the priests had reasoned wrong. So now he proposed a question that called for an opposite answer. “And Haggai went on to say: ‘If someone unclean by a deceased soul touches any of these things, will it become unclean?’ In turn the priests answered and said: ‘It will become unclean.’”—Haggai 2:13.
7. The right answer of the priests proved that they knew what law about cleansing someone defiled by a dead body?
7 This correct answer of the priests proved that they knew Jehovah’s law that was stated in connection with the “water for cleansing.” This was water with which the ashes of the sacrificed red cow had been mingled and which was sprinkled upon persons defiled by contact with dead bodies. This law said: “Anyone touching the corpse of any human soul must also be unclean seven days. . . . Everyone touching a corpse, the soul of whatever man may die, and who will not purify himself, has defiled Jehovah’s tabernacle, and that soul must be cut off from Israel. Because the water for cleansing has not been sprinkled upon him, he continues unclean. His uncleanness is still upon him. And it must serve as a statute to time indefinite for them, that the one spattering the water for cleansing should wash his garments, also the one touching the water for cleansing. He will be unclean until the evening. And anything the unclean one may touch will be unclean, and the soul who touches it will be unclean until the evening.”—Numbers 19:2-5, 11-13, 21, 22; Hebrews 9:13.
8. What did this illustrate with regard to uncleanness, and how did this apply with regard to one’s attitude toward the erection of Jehovah’s temple?
8 This illustrates how infectious an uncleanness can be—not only physically, but also spiritually. A person who is bearing something holy may not be able to pass on holiness to another person automatically or easily, without effort. But an unclean, contaminated person can easily infect another person by mere association and contact with him. As the Christian apostle Paul said: “Do you not know that a little leaven ferments the whole lump?” (1 Corinthians 5:6; Galatians 5:8, 9) That is the way it could be with a person’s unclean attitude of indifference toward how the temple of Jehovah is being neglected. Such indifference and carelessness toward the pure worship of Jehovah and its full expression through a temple could act like spiritual leaven and infect the whole nation of Israel. Even after the erecting of Jehovah’s temple it became necessary for a later governor of Judah and Jerusalem to say: “We should not neglect the house of our God.” Worship there should be fully supported.—Nehemiah 10:39.
9. What evidently had happened to the Jewish attitude since the remnant’s return seventeen years previously?
9 Undeniably the rebuilding of the temple at Jerusalem had lagged during the seventeen years since the return of the Jewish remnant to their homeland. The evidence indicated that there were indifference and unconcern on the part of many, and the original enthusiasm for the rebuilding of the temple had cooled off.
10, 11. (a) What shows that the Jewish remnant had lost the love that they first had? (b) According to Haggai 2:14, how did the nation and its works appear to Jehovah?
10 As with the Christian congregation at the close of the first century C.E. it could be said to the Jewish remnant: “You have left the love you had at first. Therefore remember from what you have fallen, and repent and do the former deeds.” (Revelation 2:4, 5) Without a question there was a need on the part of the Jewish remnant to “return” to Jehovah that he might “return” to them. (Zechariah 1:3, 4; Jeremiah 2:2, 3) At the time for the celebration of the festival of the booths (tabernacles) at Jerusalem, immediately after their return from Babylon, the Jewish remnant had erected an altar temporarily at the proper location and began offering up the proper sacrifices thereon. (Ezra 3:1-6) But was that enough? With just that and a temple foundation, how did the nation appear to their God? Listen:
11 “Accordingly Haggai answered and said: ‘That is how this people is, and that is how this nation is before me,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘and that is how all the work of their hands is, and whatever they present there. It is unclean.’”—Haggai 2:14.
12. So, how were the sacrifices that they presented at Jehovah’s altar affected, and in view of that could he bless them?
12 It was as in the case of the Israelite who became unclean by touching a dead body: everything that he touched before he was cleansed by being sprinkled with the water containing ashes of the sacrificed red heifer was made unclean. Being unclean in Jehovah’s sight because of their neglect toward His house of worship, the restored nation of Israel contaminated the sacrifices that they presented to Jehovah on their temporary altar at Jerusalem. Under such circumstances, could Jehovah bless them, not just spiritually but also materially? Consistently, No.
NEED FOR MODERN-DAY CLEANSING
13. Similar to the Jewish remnant in 520 B.C.E., how was the Christian remnant unclean?
13 Similar to that was the situation that beset the anointed remnant of Christ’s dedicated, baptized disciples after World War I. Christendom, with its hundreds of sectarian churches, had besmeared itself with the blood of the millions who were slain in that bloodiest war up till 1914 C.E. The anointed remnant of Christ’s disciples had tried to keep clean from such bloodguilt and other unchristian conduct, but did not wholly succeed and bore a measure of community responsibility. Members of the anointed remnant had also yielded to fear of men in high places, with spiritual injury to themselves. “Trembling at men is what lays a snare, but he that is trusting in Jehovah will be protected.” (Proverbs 29:25) Hence to a large extent the remnant had refrained from boldly, publicly declaring the established Kingdom of God and His day of vengeance against this war-racked, bloodguilty system of things. In the postwar year of 1919, as the anointed remnant of spiritual underpriests in the “Holy” of Jehovah’s spiritual temple, how did they feel? Like Isaiah, who said:
14. How did Isaiah voice his uncleanness at the temple?
14 “Woe to me! For I am as good as brought to silence, because a man unclean in lips I am, and in among a people unclean in lips I am dwelling; for my eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of armies, himself!”—Isaiah 6:5.
15. When was this temple vision of Isaiah called to the attention of the anointed remnant, and in what words of the keynote speech?
15 This prophetic outcry of the prophet was made when he had a miraculous vision of Jehovah at his temple. This vision was brought to the attention of the anointed remnant in the year 1922 C.E. It was on what was termed “The Day,” namely, September 8, 1922, of the second international assembly held by the International Bible Students Association at Cedar Point, Ohio, for eight days. Toward the climax of his speech on “The Day,” the key Scripture text of which was Matthew 4:17, the then president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society said:
Why, then, deliver the message to those who do not understand? Will any one hear? The Prophet of the Lord answers: “ . . . Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen; that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no savior. I have declared, and have saved, and I have showed, when there was no strange god among you; therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, that I am God.”—Isaiah 43:8-12.
Thus we see that those of the temple class are clearly designated as the Lord’s witnesses at this time, to bring a message of consolation to the people, that the kingdom of heaven is here, . . . Thus it is seen that God purposes that his name shall be magnified, that the people shall know that he is Lord. Thus we see that God purposes to have a people in the earth in this time of stress, clearly marked as separate and distinct from all others, standing as his witnesses, fearlessly crying out the message: “The kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
. . . Since 1914 the King of glory has taken his power and reigns. He has cleansed the lips of the temple class and sends them forth with the message. The importance of the message of the kingdom cannot be overstated. It is the message of all messages. It is the message of the hour. It is incumbent upon those who are the Lord’s to declare it. . . .
. . . Be faithful and true witnesses for the Lord. Go forward in the fight until every vestige of Babylon lies desolate. Herald the message far and wide. The world must know that Jehovah is God and that Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords. This is the day of all days. Behold, the King reigns! You are his publicity agents. Therefore advertise, advertise, advertise, the King and his kingdom.—The Watch Tower, as of November 1, 1922, pages 336, 337.
16. (a) What did those who accepted the cleansing of their lips desire now to do? (b) What back there shows whether all those associated with the anointed remnant were so disposed?
16 Many of the anointed remnant saw the need for their lips to be purged just as the prophet Isaiah had had his lips purged as by fire that he might declare the further message of Jehovah, who was at His temple. (Isaiah 6:6-10) They sincerely desired to have part in the further work of collecting those whom Jehovah God would make associate priests with Jesus Christ in the heavens, to bring the number of 144,000 underpriests to the full. But not all of the spiritual remnant were so disposed at that time. As an example of this, in that year 1922 and before the May 1 issue of The Watch Tower was published, one of the five men on the editorial staff of that magazine and his wife left the theocratic organization and sought other employment. There were others who took similar action at the time or later. Being a publicity agent of God’s kingdom and going from house to house as such in using one’s cleansed lips did not suit them. Other requirements of the spiritual underpriests in the Holy of Jehovah’s temple were too much for them. They became unclean because of their indifference, unconcern and return to worldly interests.
17. (a) How did such uncleanness affect the rest of Jehovah’s theocratic organization? (b) What attitude is it that He blesses?
17 Uncleanness of that kind, lack of devotion to the full worship of the true God at his spiritual temple, is a pollution to the rest of the theocratic organization. It results in Jehovah’s withholding his blessing. Wholehearted devotion to the furtherance of his pure worship brings a restoration of God’s favor and his promised blessings. This important fact was emphasized by God himself as he went on to say to the priests whom Haggai had questioned:
18. Before this day of Haggai’s prophecy, what had been the condition of the remnant economically, and why would Jehovah now bless them from this day forward?
18 “‘But now, please, set your heart on this from this day and forward, before there was the placing of a stone upon a stone in the temple of Jehovah, from when those things happened to be—one came to a heap of twenty measures, and it proved to be ten; one came to the press vat to draw off fifty measures of the wine trough, and it proved to be twenty; I struck you people with scorching and with mildew and with hail, even all the work of your hands, and there was no one with you turning to me,’ is the utterance of Jehovah—‘Set your heart, please, on this from this day and forward, from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, from the day that the foundation of the temple of Jehovah was laid; set your heart on this: Is there as yet the seed in the grain pit? And as yet, the vine and the fig tree and the pomegranate tree and the olive tree—it has not borne, has it? From this day I shall bestow blessing.’”—Haggai 2:15-19.
THE DAY OF RETURN TO PROSPERITY
19. From that twenty-fourth day of Chislev the Jewish remnant could make a test of Jehovah in what regard, and what did His law covenant allow for them to expect?
19 It was now the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month (Chislev), and by that time there should have been increasing autumn rains, even some snow appearing on the mountaintops. That day the faithful Jewish remnant had begun work anew at the temple foundation, as if they were laying the foundation all over again. (Ezra 3:8-12) From that marked day the Jewish remnant could make a test of Jehovah as to whether he would fulfill his gladsome promise. Droughts would be a thing of the past, also the mildew, and the ruinous hail, and there would be no further shortages in the basic foodstuffs. And there is nothing in Bible history to indicate that things did not turn out that way. As they courageously stuck to the temple work to its completion, Jehovah faithfully stuck to his promise. Just as he had promised in His law covenant mediated by His prophet Moses, their whole-souled commitment of themselves to His worship would be rewarded with material prosperity on their God-given land.—Deuteronomy 28:1-14.
20. What kind of prosperity was the anointed remnant entitled to expect for resuming work in behalf of Jehovah’s true worship, and how did such prosperity manifest itself?
20 That must have been true of the temple-minded Jewish remnant back there, if what happened to them back there was a foreshadowing of what has happened to the anointed remnant of spiritual underpriests from 1919 C.E. onward. The resuming of the priestly responsibilities in the Holy of Jehovah’s true spiritual temple marked the turning point for the anointed remnant of Christ’s disciples who survived the trials and afflictions of World War I of 1914-1918 C.E. Being spiritual Israelites with a heavenly inheritance in view, they were not expecting material blessings for their faithfulness as the natural Israelites back in Haggai’s days were entitled to do. What the anointed remnant of spiritual underpriests expected according to God’s promises was spiritual prosperity. They were not disappointed. Their testing of the promises of God was not in vain. In spite of mounting resistance from the world and the anguish of the worldly nations who do not know the way out of their continual distress, the work of the anointed remnant in promoting true worship at Jehovah’s spiritual temple prospered, expanded, brought increasing results.
21. Where can one find a record of such spiritual prosperity of the faithful remnant, and what does this prove about Jehovah’s promise?
21 The adversaries—religious, political, judicial and social—have taken note of this inescapable fact. For a detailed record of the spiritual prosperity of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses, one has but to read the annual reports published in the columns of the Watch Tower magazine since 1919 and in the Yearbooks since 1927, presenting reports on the worldwide growth of the work in preaching “this good news of the kingdom” in all the inhabited earth and in making disciples of people of all the nations, as commanded by the Lord Jesus Christ, Jehovah’s High Priest. (Matthew 24:14; 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; Hebrews 2:17 to 3:1) The inerasable record of modern history testifies mightily to the fact that Jehovah God, who cannot lie, has kept true to his promise of blessings. We never serve Him in vain.—Joshua 23:14; Psalm 138:2; 1 Corinthians 15:58.
REWARD OF A GOVERNING BODY’S BACKING CLEAN WORSHIP
22, 23. (a) Haggai’s final prophecy was addressed to whom, in expression of Jehovah’s appreciation of what? (b) In that prophecy, what did Jehovah promise to put out of action, and what would he do to Zerubbabel?
22 In the year 520 B.C.E., on the first day of the sixth lunar month (Elul), when the prophetic word of Jehovah first occurred to Haggai, it was directed to “Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, the governor of Judah,” as well as to “Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest.” (Haggai 1:1) Almost four months later the final inspired prophecy of Haggai is addressed exclusively to the same governor of the Persian province of Judah, Zerubbabel. He had proved obedient to Jehovah’s encouragement through the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, and now, under his governorship, the work at the foundation of Jehovah’s temple in Jerusalem had been taken up again with fine courage in defiance of a misapplied ban by a misinformed king of Persia. (Ezra 4:17-24) Was Jehovah God appreciative of this? He was, and in expression of this he sent a personal message to Governor Zerubbabel. We read:
23 “And the word of Jehovah proceeded to occur a second time to Haggai on the twenty-fourth day of the month, saying: ‘Say to Zerubbabel the governor of Judah, “I am rocking the heavens and the earth. And I shall certainly overthrow the throne of kingdoms and annihilate the strength of the kingdoms of the nations; and I will overthrow the chariot and its riders, and the horses and their riders will certainly come down, each one by the sword of his brother.”’ ‘“In that day,” is the utterance of Jehovah of armies, “I shall take you, O Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, my servant,” is the utterance of Jehovah; “and I shall certainly set you as a seal ring, because you are the one whom I have chosen,” is the utterance of Jehovah of armies.’”—Haggai 2:20-23.
24. Whose approval did Zerubbabel gain by taking his bold step on that twenty-fourth day of Chislev, and why was it this that mattered?
24 On that twenty-fourth day of the ninth lunar month (Chislev) in the second year of the reign of King Darius I of Persia, Governor Zerubbabel had taken a bold step, apparently in defiance of the mighty Persian Empire. But he had taken a good and right step in obedience to Jehovah of armies. Now through the prophet Haggai he had gained the expression of approval of Jehovah of armies. So what did the disapproval or objections of men matter? He had approval from the Highest Source of authority, the Theocratic Ruler of the nation of Israel. This God as divine Ruler is to be obeyed rather than man-made rulers. Why, Israel’s Theocratic Ruler could rock both the heavens and the earth and remove them. What, then, could spirit creatures and human creatures who make up those heavens and earth do to thwart, frustrate, successfully oppose his declared purposes? Nothing! Devils and men, all combined, cannot triumph against him. He can rock them all.
25. What goes along with such rocking of the heavens and the earth, and why are the details of this fitting for such a person as Jehovah of armies to set out?
25 What goes along with or results from this rocking of the heavens and the earth by the Universal Sovereign? Jehovah of armies explains, saying: “And I shall certainly overthrow the throne of kingdoms and annihilate the strength of the kingdoms of the nations; and I will overthrow the chariot and its riders, and the horses and their riders will certainly come down, each one by the sword of his brother.” (Haggai 2:22) How fitting it is here for the God who calls himself Jehovah of armies to speak of taking action against the military forces of the world of mankind! Such armed forces for offense and defense really constitute the “strength of the kingdoms of the nations.” The nations of this twentieth century C.E. proceed on that theory, and all the nations are arming themselves, some of them with the most fantastic weapons that modern science can devise. But such armaments and highly trained military forces are a vain hope for giving permanent stability to the throne or governmental seat of the kingdoms of the nations. Jehovah of armies can annihilate such “strength.”
26. What can be said as to whether Jehovah of armies has to put in personal appearance for his enemies to fight against him or for him to fight against them?
26 The Persian Empire, as the Fourth World Power of Bible history, proved to be stable for little more than two hundred years. Its horses and chariots and their riders, even militarized elephants, did not save it from overthrow by Alexander the Great of Greece. Horses and chariots and their riders cannot fight directly against the invisible Jehovah of armies. Neither does Jehovah of armies have to put in personal appearance to fight against military forces on earth. Out of the invisible he can exert his invincible power and make them fight among themselves, either by fright causing panic or by bitter quarrels among themselves. He can produce anarchy among all his foes. He did it in previous times, and he promises to do it again. Governor Zerubbabel knew of such previous occasions. (Judges 7:19-22; 2 Chronicles 20:22-24) He had reason to believe that Jehovah of armies could foil the enemies of His people once again by causing them to turn their weapons against themselves.
27. How would the rocking of the heavens and the earth and the nations affect Zerubbabel as a seal ring on Jehovah’s hand?
27 However, Jehovah of armies did not state it to be his purpose to rock his faithful, obedient people who devoted themselves to the rebuilding of His house of worship and to the carrying on of clean worship therein. Neither would Governor Zerubbabel be deposed by the Persian emperor for going ahead with temple building before he received official authorization from King Darius I. This could no more occur than for a seal ring to be taken off the right hand of Jehovah of armies. Let the heavens and the earth rock! Let the mightily armed nations rock! But the position of Governor Zerubbabel would be stable, unshaken. This was the force of the assurance that Jehovah now made to Zerubbabel:
28, 29. How opposite was Jehovah’s promise to Zerubbabel about the seal ring from His declaration about King Jehoiachin or Coniah?
28 “‘In that day,’ is the utterance of Jehovah of armies, ‘I shall take you, O Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, my servant,’ is the utterance of Jehovah; ‘and I shall certainly set you as a seal ring, because you are the one whom I have chosen,’ is the utterance of Jehovah of armies.”—Haggai 2:23.
29 How opposite this divine prophecy was to what the prophet Jeremiah had been inspired to say respecting Jehoiachin (or, Jeconiah, Coniah), who had reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem in 618-617 B.C.E. and who was the grandfather of Zerubbabel! (1 Chronicles 3:17-19; 2 Chronicles 36:9, 10) Speaking of Jehoiachin as Coniah, Jeremiah said: “‘As I am alive,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘even if Coniah the son of Jehoiakim, the king of Judah, happened to be the seal ring on my right hand, from there I would pull you off! And I will give you into the hand of those who are seeking for your soul and into the hand of those of whom you are scared and into the hand of Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon and into the hand of the Chaldeans. . . . O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of Jehovah. This is what Jehovah has said, ‘Write down this man as childless, as an able-bodied man who will not have any success in his days; for from his offspring not a single one will have any success, sitting upon the throne of David and ruling anymore in Judah.’”—Jeremiah 22:24-30.
30. (a) How precious was a seal ring to its owner? (b) Why was the official position of Jehoiachin to be respected, and why did Jehovah cast him away?
30 From this divine decree against the grandfather of Zerubbabel it can be discerned that a seal ring was very precious to someone of high rank. It bore the name of its owner, and was used in official business for stamping the signature of the owner on a document to authenticate it. (Genesis 38:18-26; 41:42; 1 Kings 21:8) So if Zerubbabel’s grandfather, King Jehoiachin, had been like a seal ring on Jehovah’s right hand, he would have been very precious to Jehovah. As it was, he had been anointed to be king in Jerusalem and thus became “Jehovah’s anointed” and sat upon “Jehovah’s throne” in Jerusalem, even though for just three months and ten days. (1 Samuel 24:6, 10; Lamentations 4:20; 1 Chronicles 29:23) For this reason the person of King Jehoiachin deserved and commanded special respect, from men. Yet, despite his having an official connection with Jehovah, he became repulsive to Jehovah because he continued in the wicked ways of his father, King Jehoiakim. In indignation, Jehovah pulled him off and cast him away, letting him go captive to Babylon and to prison there.
31. Why was Zerubbabel’s being made governor of Judah in 537 B.C.E. not a contradiction of what Jehovah said about Zerubbabel’s grandfather in Jeremiah 22:30?
31 What, though, is this? Eighty years later, in 537 B.C.E., Jehoiachin’s grandson, Zerubbabel, is released from exile in Babylon and is made governor of the Persian province of Judah, to govern from Jerusalem. (Ezra 1:1 to 4:3) Was that not a contradiction of what Jehovah had said to Zerubbabel’s grandfather in Jeremiah 22:30? No, the captive Jehoiachin continued “childless” as far as having any of his sons to sit upon David’s throne at Jerusalem. In fact, his uncle, Mattaniah, whose name was changed to Zedekiah, succeeded him upon David’s throne, only to lose the throne in 607 B.C.E., at Jerusalem’s destruction by the Babylonians. David’s throne was overturned, never to be set up again in literal earthly Jerusalem. (Ezekiel 21:25-27) The 2,520 years of the Gentile Times began there, in 607 B.C.E., for Jerusalem or the Messianic kingdom of God that it symbolized to be trampled upon by the Gentile nations. True to prophecy, none of Jehoiachin’s several sons sat on Jehovah’s throne in Jerusalem as David’s royal descendant. His grandson Zerubbabel sat, not on David’s royal throne, but in the seat of a governor appointed by King Cyrus.
32. How did Zerubbabel act as a living seal ring on Jehovah’s hand, and why was he precious to Jehovah whereas his kingly grandfather was not?
32 Although inferior to his grandfather in official rank from man’s standpoint, Zerubbabel became something very precious to Jehovah, like a seal ring on the right hand of Jehovah of armies. It was for a reason opposite to that for which King Jehoiachin was not too precious to be thrown away, namely, his keeping Jehovah’s commandments and displaying courageous devotion to Jehovah’s clean worship at his temple. Like a living seal ring, he served Jehovah of armies in an official way, for the glory and praise of Jehovah’s holy name. Whereas the heavenly Commander in Chief of armies had rejected King Jehoiachin, he had “chosen” his faithful grandson Zerubbabel. The theocratic Sovereign of the universe might rock the heavens and the earth and all the worldly militarized nations, but he would not rock Governor Zerubbabel and remove him from an honored position of service in the visible theocratic organization. What he said later about Zerubbabel through the prophet Zechariah (4:6-10) confirmed this.
WIDER MEANING OF THE PROPHECY
33. (a) Why did the complete fulfillment of Haggai’s prophecy not end with Governor Zerubbabel in the sixth century B.C.E.? (b) Of whom is the antitypical Zerubbabel the Governor?
33 Does the complete fulfillment of this prophecy end with Governor Zerubbabel of the Persian province of Judah in the sixth century before our Common Era? Evidently not! He was a type of someone greater. Of whom? Of the one of whom he became an honored ancestor, the one with whom his genealogical line in the Bible record ends, namely, Jesus Christ. (Matthew 1:1-16; Luke 3:23-27) This antitypical Zerubbabel is now the heavenly Governor in Jehovah’s visible theocratic organization on earth, namely, the anointed remnant of spiritual Israel. (Galatians 6:16; Romans 2:28, 29; Revelation 7:4-8) These were restored from spiritual bondage to Babylon the Great, as facts show, in 1919 C.E. Like the ancient remnant of Jewish exiles, they were released from the Babylonish world empire of false religion that they might apply themselves primarily to the things having to do with the clean worship of Jehovah at his spiritual temple.
34. How is that one the leading Promoter of the work in connection with Jehovah’s temple?
34 The antitypical Zerubbabel, Jesus Christ, as heavenly Governor of spiritual Israel, is the leading Promoter of this work in connection with Jehovah’s temple. He arranges it that his anointed disciples have a place of service as spiritual underpriests in the Holy of that temple.—John 17:17-19.
35. How can the name Zerubbabel, despite its meaning, be fittingly used respecting the heavenly Governor, Jesus Christ?
35 The name Zerubbabel, which means “Seed of Babylon,” need not disturb us in being applied to the heavenly Jesus Christ as Governor. True, he himself was never in Babylon the Great. Nevertheless, the remnant of anointed disciples who survived the trials and persecutions during World War I were, during that time, brought into religious bondage to Babylon the Great and her political paramours. According to the rule that what is done to them is as if it were done to him, the greater Governor Zerubbabel (as represented in the anointed remnant) was in Babylon the Great to resemble ancient Zerubbabel, who was literally born in Babylon of old and who could therefore be called “Seed of Babylon.” He led the faithful anointed remnant of spiritual Israelites out of a Babylon greater than the ancient city on the Euphrates River, setting them free by his truth. (John 8:32) By him as Governor the visible earthly theocratic organization has good rulership.
36. How does the heavenly Governor compare with ancient Zerubbabel as to preciousness and courage, and who today on earth imitate him?
36 This Governor like Zerubbabel is most precious to Jehovah God, like the seal ring on the right hand, that bears the divine name. He is most concerned about the sanctification of his heavenly Father’s name. (Matthew 6:9, 10; John 12:28; 17:6-12) He is fearless, like ancient Zerubbabel, Governor Zerubbabel was strengthened not to be afraid of defying the Persian Empire, the Fourth World Power of Bible history. Today the heavenly Governor of spiritual Israel is not afraid of the Seventh World Power of Bible history, namely, the British-American dual world power, nor of the Eighth World Power, namely, the international organization for world peace and security, now composed of the 132 members of the United Nations. (Revelation 17:7-17) Like their heavenly Governor, the anointed remnant of spiritual Israel do not fear those world powers either. Fearlessly they work on world wide in the interests of clean worship at Jehovah’s spiritual temple.
37. How is the antitypical Zerubbabel like a seal ring on Jehovah’s hand as to usage and preciousness?
37 Was not an ancient seal ring used to affix the name of its owner to a document, thus to prove that it genuinely originated with him and that it expressed his will, purpose or instructions? Yes. In a like manner the antitypical Zerubbabel, Jesus Christ, is used by Jehovah of armies to fulfill the prophecies and promises and thereby prove that those recorded pronouncements really originated from the divine, infallible Source and are the divine truth. In this way, too, Jehovah’s name and word are vindicated through Jesus Christ, who is as precious to Jehovah as an official seal ring. “For no matter how many the promises of God are, they have become Yes by means of him. Therefore also through him is the ‘Amen’ said to God for glory through us [Christian disciples].”—2 Corinthians 1:20.
38. Why does the Greater Zerubbabel have nothing to fear from the rocking of heaven, earth and the nations today, and how will he maintain good rulership for Jehovah’s worshipers?
38 Since the close of the Gentile Times in 1914 C.E., the figurative heavens and earth have been made to rock. The nations of the world of mankind are rocking, unable to stabilize the worldly system of things. It is Jehovah of armies who is doing the rocking, just as he told Governor Zerubbabel of old time. The rocking, humanly uncontrollable, will reach its peak of agitation in the “great tribulation” that now appears to be very near, to be followed by the abyssing of Satan. (Matthew 24:21, 22) But the Greater Zerubbabel, Jesus Christ, has nothing to fear from the rocking. His position of heavenly governorship is unshakably fixed. His is “a kingdom that cannot be shaken.” (Hebrews 12:28) It will not be removed, but will be used by Jehovah of armies in removing Babylon the Great and the world powers of today, annihilating their military “strength” in the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon. (Revelation 16:13-16; 17:12-14; 19:11-21) Thereafter it will bless all the surviving worshipers of Jehovah God at his spiritual temple with good rulership forever.
39. Happy are we worshipers of Jehovah today—for what?
39 Happy are we worshipers at the true temple to be already enjoying divine blessings and the good rulership of Jehovah’s heavenly Governor as the world of false worshipers rocks.