Presentation of the King Brings Release to Prisoners
1. What kind of application does Zechariah’s prophecy, when speaking of lands and cities in the news today, have now, and what helps us to determine a fulfillment today?
TODAY the countries of Syria and Lebanon and the Gaza Strip figure prominently in the news. Cities that are associated with these lands are named in the ninth chapter of Zechariah’s prophecy. However, what the prophet Zechariah said away back there in the sixth century before our Common Era has no application to these lands today in their relations with the Republic of Israel. Aside from any initial fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy in the first century of our Common Era, and in a literal way, the prophecy has its final fulfillment today, in this twentieth century C.E., in only a spiritual or figurative way. By acquainting ourselves with the first fulfillment nineteen centuries ago, we can discern its spiritual fulfillment today.
2. At a map of what period of time do we look, and are the places mentioned in connection with the “land of Hadrach” Jewish?
2 If we turn to our map of the Land of Palestine during the Reign of the Persian Kings, we note Damascus, the capital of Syria, also the city of Hamath about 120 miles (193 kilometers) to the north of Damascus; also the ancient Phoenician (now Lebanese) cities of Tyre and Sidon on the Mediterranean seacoast; also the Philistine cities of Gaza, Ashkelon, Ekron, Ashdod and Gath; also the cities of Jerusalem and Samaria. The “land of Hadrach” does not appear on all maps because its location and precise limits are not exactly known, but the prophecy associates this once mentioned land with Damascus. The Atlas of the Biblical World by Baly and Tushingham (copyrighted 1971), page 199, calls the “land of Hadrach” simply “a region in Syria near Damascus.” The Revised Edition (1956) of The Westminster Historical Atlas to the Bible, page 124, speaks of the Land of Hadrach as a “district of Syria north of Hamath,” hence north of Damascus. Whether the expression “the land of Hadrach” is a symbolic one to mean the collective territory in which all the above-mentioned Syrian, Phoenician, Philistine cities are located matters little. They were all non-Israelite, non-Jewish.
3. How do the closing verses of Zechariah, chapter eight, stand in contrast with the opening verses of chapter nine?
3 The closing verses (Zec 8:20-23) of the eighth chapter of Zechariah’s prophecy tell of how people of all the languages of the nations and from many cities will go up to Jerusalem to worship Jehovah, even taking hold of the skirt of a Jew to go along with him to worship his God. What happens to people who do not do so? Very nicely the opening eight verses of the succeeding chapter (nine) informs us of some of the consequences for not doing so. So let us now read that section, Zechariah 9:1-8:
4. According to Zechariah 9:1-8, who is it that takes a hand in the affairs of those mentioned, and in behalf of whom?
4 “A pronouncement: ‘The word of Jehovah is against the land of Hadrach, and Damascus is where it rests; for Jehovah has an eye on earthling man and on all the tribes of Israel. And Hamath itself will also border upon her; Tyre and Sidon, for she is very wise. And Tyre proceeded to build a rampart for herself, and to pile up silver like dust and gold like the mire of the streets. Look! Jehovah himself will dispossess her, and into the sea he will certainly strike down her military force; and in the fire she herself will be devoured. Ashkelon will see and get afraid; and as for Gaza, she will also feel very severe pains; Ekron also, because her looked-for hope will have to experience shame. And a king will certainly perish from Gaza, and Ashkelon herself will not be inhabited. And an illegitimate son will actually seat himself in Ashdod, and I shall certainly cut off the pride of the Philistine. And I will remove his bloodstained things from his mouth and his disgusting things from between his teeth, and he himself also will certainly be left remaining for our God; and he must become like a sheik in Judah, and Ekron like the Jebusite. And I will encamp as an outpost for my house, so that there will be no one passing through and no one returning; and there will no more pass through them a taskmaster, for now I have seen it with my eyes.’”
5. Why did Jehovah’s disfavor rest upon Damascus, the “land of Hadrach” and Hamath?
5 Ancient Syria of the sixth century B.C.E. worshiped false gods and kept up its enmity toward the restored land of Judah. It refused to worship Jehovah at his rebuilt temple in Jerusalem. Good reason there was, then, for Jehovah’s word to be, not favorable, but against the “land of Hadrach” as a part of Syria. His unfavorable word would rest upon the capital of the whole country, namely, Damascus; and as the territory of Hamath bordered upon Damascus, Hamath would also have Jehovah’s unfavorable word pronounced against her. So all of Syria was under divine disfavor.
6. Why was Jehovah’s word against cities of Phoenicia?
6 The country of Phoenicia borders on Syria, and it too had turned against the land of Judah in its time of direst distress. Psalm 83:5-8 includes the Phoenician cities of Gebal and Tyre in the international conspiracy against Jehovah’s people, saying: “Against you they proceeded to conclude even a covenant, the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites, Moab and the Hagrites, Gebal and Ammon and Amalek, Philistia together with the inhabitants of Tyre. Also, Assyria itself has become joined with them; they have become an arm to the sons of Lot [Moab and Ammon].” Tyre was really a colony of Sidon; and Zechariah 9:2-4 mentions them, saying:
7. With whom does Zechariah 9:2-4 link Tyre, and what is foretold to happen to Tyre?
7 “Tyre and Sidon, for she is very wise. And Tyre proceeded to build a rampart for herself, and to pile up silver like dust and gold like the mire of the streets. Look! Jehovah himself will dispossess her, and into the sea he will certainly strike down her military force; and in the fire she herself will be devoured.”
8. Which Tyre was the one mentioned by Zechariah, and why was this so?
8 From those words it is certain that the “word of Jehovah” was pronounced also against all of Phoenicia as represented by her world-famous cities of Tyre and Sidon. The city of Tyre here named is the island city, for King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon destroyed the mainland city in his Palestinian campaign. (Ezekiel 29:17-20) The Tyrian survivors fled to their offshore island and built up a powerful city thereon. According to Ezekiel 28:1-19, Tyre had devilishly turned traitor toward its former friend, Israel, and Sidon became associated with Tyre in this course. (Ezekiel 28:20-26) Following the restoration of the land of Judah in 537 B.C.E. after seventy years of lying desolate, Tyre and Sidon did not change their heart attitude toward Jerusalem with her second temple. How unwise!
9. How did Tyre enrich and fortify herself, but how did Jehovah’s prophecy concerning her work out?
9 Tyre, as well as Sidon, continued to follow the wisdom of this world, increasing her wisdom for the amassing of wealth, piling up gold and silver here on earth where marauders can despoil. The mighty rampart that Tyre built for her protection as a seafaring, commercial power did not withstand the strategy of the Grecian conqueror, Alexander the Great, in 332 B.C.E. Her land-based military forces as well as those aboard her many ships failed her then. Jehovah, by means of his earthly instrument of execution, struck down Tyre’s military force into the sea, where she had established her stronghold. Jehovah dispossessed her by turning over her possessions of tremendous wealth to the conqueror. Her then being devoured in the fire brought about her complete ruin.
10. What interest did people from Tyre and Sidon display in Jesus Christ, and what was reported as established in Tyre?
10 Years later Tyre was rebuilt, but neither she nor Sidon regained the strong commercial position that she had held before the “word of Jehovah” pronounced against her was fulfilled. In the first century of our Common Era many individuals came from Tyre and Sidon to hear and observe Jesus and get cured by him. (Mark 3:7, 8; Luke 6:17; Matthew 15:21-29) According to Jesus’ own words in Matthew 11:20-22 and Luke 10:13, 14, there should have been many persons in Tyre and Sidon disposed to listen to and act upon the message of God’s kingdom. There was a Christian congregation in Tyre at the time of the third missionary tour of the apostle Paul. (Acts 21:2-7) These Tyrians were not trusting in military forces, nor storing up treasures on earth, but storing them up in heaven.
PRIDE OF THE PAGAN ENEMY CUT OFF
11, 12. (a) What intercity alliance anciently dominated Philistia? (b) Whose pride would Jehovah cut off, and how?
11 What, now, is the “word of Jehovah” as pronounced against Philistia? Anciently, the five-city league of Ashdod, Ashkelon, Ekron, Gath and Gaza dominated the land of Philistia. For some reason Gath fails to be mentioned in Jehovah’s word here against the Philistines. Zechariah 9:5-7 continues the prophecy and says:
12 “Ashkelon will see and get afraid; and as for Gaza, she will also feel very severe pains; Ekron also, because her looked-for hope will have to experience shame. And a king will certainly perish from Gaza, and Ashkelon herself will not be inhabited. And an illegitimate son will actually seat himself in Ashdod, and I shall certainly cut off the pride of the Philistine. And I will remove his bloodstained things from his mouth and his disgusting things from between his teeth, and he himself also will certainly be left remaining for our God; and he must become like a sheik in Judah, and Ekron like the Jebusite.”
13. (a) How was Tyre’s destruction in 332 B.C.E. to affect Ashkelon, Gaza and Ekron? (b) What change was Ashdod to experience?
13 So the city of Ashkelon was to see the destruction of Tyre, and get afraid and then finally become uninhabited. As for Gaza, she felt very severe pains evidently for the same reason; and because of that painful event and its consequences, she experienced a change of rulership and her native king perished from her. The city of Ekron evidently looked to Tyre as her hope for protection and relief against an invading enemy. Hence, when Tyre was reduced to ruins after a seven-month siege by Alexander the Great in 332 B.C.E., Ekron also writhed with very severe pains, because her hope had been disappointed, shamed. But what about the fourth city mentioned, Ashdod? Apparently a change of population was to take place in her, for Jehovah said: “an illegitimate son will actually seat himself in Ashdod.” The legitimate native population was not to remain in it. Strangers, foreigners, were to take over the city, not only in the rulership but also in the population.
14. Of what attitude toward Israel had Philistia been guilty, and how would Jehovah cut this off?
14 Admittedly, then, the “word of Jehovah” was against Philistia. The Philistines had been very proud, arrogant, especially toward Jehovah’s people, even after the restoration of these to their homeland. However, their pride preceded their crash. By doing the above-stated things to the four leading cities of Philistia, Jehovah would “cut off the pride of the Philistine.” No Philistine could boast any longer when comparing himself with Jehovah’s people. Jehovah would also cut off their false religious worship.
15. (a) What will be done with the “bloodstained things” and the “disgusting things” of the Philistines? (b) What course will be taken by a remnant of the Philistines?
15 In their worship to their false gods, they ate sacrifices that were disgusting to Jehovah and to his people. Also, the animal victims from which they ate in their sacrificial meals were not drained of their blood. A halt was to be called to such loathsome worship of idolatrous gods, for the “word of Jehovah” went on to say: “And I will remove his [the Philistine’s] bloodstained things from his mouth and his disgusting things from between his teeth, and he himself also will certainly be left remaining for our God.” How such bloodstained and disgusting things will be removed from the mouth and teeth of the Philistine is not explained. But from among all those Philistines who will refuse to observe God’s commandment and break off from idolatry with its abominable sacrifices and rites, there will be left a remnant that will do so voluntarily, in obedience. That remnant will be “for our God,” for Jehovah of armies. What a lifesaving transformation this! But Zechariah 9:7 continues on further to say regarding this remnant: “And he must become like a sheik in Judah, and Ekron like the Jebusite.”
16. (a) How would the remnant of the Philistines become “like a sheik in Judah”? (b) Becoming “like the Jebusite” indicated what level of society for those of Ekron?
16 Of course, the Philistines in being Hamites could not become sheiks in the tribe of Judah, which was Shemite and Hebrew. (Genesis 10:6, 13, 14, 21-25) But the obedient remnant that were proselyted to the worship of “our God,” Jehovah, could become “like a sheik in Judah.” Thus the remnant would have a distinguished position in association with Jehovah’s chosen people and would not be considered as of little or no importance. Like a sheik of a clan, they would be given responsibilities. However, these responsibilities will be subservient to those of the Judeans themselves. This is indicated by the statement that Ekron will become “like the Jebusite.” Like the Philistines, the Jebusites were Hamites, not through Ham’s son Mizraim but through his son Canaan, and so were Canaanites. (Genesis 10:6, 15, 16) The Jebusites were early occupants of Jerusalem, which therefore used to be called Jebus.
17. Why in becoming “like the Jebusite” was a favored position indicated for those of Ekron?
17 In 1070 B.C.E. King David captured the city from the Jebusites and called it Jerusalem. (Judges 1:21; 2 Samuel 5:4-9) Later the subjugated Jebusites were used as slave labor by David’s son, King Solomon, in various public works of construction, including the magnificent temple at Jerusalem. (1 Kings 9:15-23; 2 Chronicles 8:1-10) What a privilege it was for those Jebusites to have a share in the building of Jehovah’s temple at Jerusalem and also building fine facilities for the typical Messianic kingdom of God in ancient Israel! So, in becoming “like the Jebusite,” Ekron and its inhabitants who turned to the worship of “our God,” Jehovah, were brought into a favored position, though subservient.
18. What experience with Christianity did the Philistines have in the first century C.E.?
18 In the first century of our Common Era the good news of God’s Messianic kingdom was preached to the Philistines. We recall how the evangelizer Philip preached to an Ethiopian eunuch as they were riding in his chariot on the “road that runs down from Jerusalem to Gaza” in Philistia. After baptizing this Ethiopian convert to Christianity, Philip left him and was found up at Ashdod (Greek, Azotos; modern Isdud), around thirty-four miles north of Gaza. Doubtless many Philistines responded to Philip’s evangelizing. (Acts 8:26-40) After the conversion of the Italian centurion Cornelius in 36 C.E., Philistines could be converted, and then could receive the holy spirit of God through Christ.
19. How is the prophetic picture of ‘an illegitimate son actually seating himself in Ashdod’ fulfilled in the case of modern antitypical Philistines?
19 In our own modern twentieth century many religionists have been like the ancient Philistines in worshiping false gods and in fighting against Jehovah’s people. As ancient Ashdod, the chief city in the five-city confederation of the Philistines, underwent a change of population as if by illegitimate sons, so these antitypical Philistines of today have undergone a change of personality. By dedicating themselves to God through Jesus Christ and getting baptized in water, they cease to be a part of this Philistine world and become ‘strangers,’ unnatural, to it and out of place. They do not go after selfish commercialism as ancient Tyre did, nor do they depend upon it and hope in it in the way that Ekron looked to Tyre; nor do they trust in a military force, as ancient Syria did. They abstain from the worship and service of the bloodlusting gods of this modern world. They devotedly take their stand for “our God,” Jehovah of armies.
20. These transformed Philistines of today are given what share with the remnant of spiritual Israelites?
20 In consideration of this course, these transformed modern Philistines are given a share with the anointed remnant of spiritual Israelites or Jews in promoting the worship of Jehovah at his spiritual temple. Just “like a sheik in Judah,” they are given assignments and responsibilities in connection with that temple activity. The crowd of these dedicated, baptized servants of Jehovah God has already grown “great,” and it is still increasing. This unnumbered “great crowd” who become associated with the spirit-anointed remnant was foretold in Revelation 7:9-17.
21, 22. (a) Of what benefit was it to his people for Jehovah to be an outpost for them, and why would no taskmaster pass through them? (b) How has Jehovah fulfilled this prophecy toward his remnant of spiritual Israel today?
21 Ancient Philistia, Phoenicia and Syria were violent enemies of the restored remnant of former Jewish exiles. To mark a contrast between his dealings with those enemies and his dealings with his chosen people, the house of Israel, Jehovah of armies continued on to say: “And I will encamp as an outpost for my house, so that there will be no one passing through and no one returning; and there will no more pass through them a taskmaster, for now I have seen it with my eyes.”—Zechariah 9:8.
22 Encamping as an outpost, Jehovah of armies could prevent the attacking enemies from getting near His “house” and from invading them and then retiring. As an “outpost” he would prevent a slave-driving “taskmaster” from passing through their midst anymore and enslaving them. Similarly to this, the same Jehovah of armies has protected his “house” of spiritual Israelites in this “time of the end,” when the enemies have massed together as never before in opposition to Jehovah’s worship at his spiritual temple. Strengthened by his mighty spirit, Jehovah’s “house” of spiritual Israel successfully resist all efforts of worldly “taskmasters” to pass through their spiritual estate and become their religious taskmaster. In imitation of Christ’s apostles, they obey God as ruler rather than men.—Acts 5:29.
23. (a) What does Jehovah’s expression, “Now I have seen it with my eyes,” mean as regards the situation of his people amid all mankind? (b) How is this true today with respect to the spiritual remnant and the “great crowd” of fellow worshipers?
23 Jehovah of armies is aware of the threats and efforts of the enemies against his worshipers at his temple. As he says, “Now I have seen it with my eyes.” This corresponds with what he said earlier in his “pronouncement,” in these words: “The word of Jehovah is against the land of Hadrach, and Damascus is where it rests; for Jehovah has an eye on earthling man and on all the tribes of Israel.” (Zechariah 9:1) He has his observing eye not only on “all the tribes of Israel” but also on earthling man. That is to say, on all humankind aside from his chosen people. That is why he made his pronouncement against the traditional enemies like Syria, Phoenicia and Philistia who had abused the twelve tribes of Israel. This “pronouncement” is prophetic and has its spiritual application today to the enemies of Jehovah’s spiritual Israel and the “great crowd” of fellow worshipers. The difference between how Jehovah of armies treats all these worshipers of His and how he treats the modern-day counterparts of Syria, Phoenicia and Philistia can already be seen. The full difference will be observable during the approaching time of “great tribulation” when he frees his loyal worshipers completely of all their ungodly enemies.—Matthew 24:21, 22; Revelation 7:14, 15; 19:11-21.
“LOOK! YOUR KING HIMSELF COMES”
24. (a) In view of Gaza’s experience, what questions are asked about the object of her hostility, Jerusalem? (b) Why will Jerusalem’s crying out differ from that of Gaza?
24 A king was to perish from the Philistine city of Gaza, but what was to take place with regard to the object of Philistine hostility, Jerusalem, poetically called Zion? Is she, like Gaza, to “feel very severe pains” because of seeing the overthrow of the stronghold of greedy commercialism and untheocratic military force? Is she to cry out in extreme pain and terrifying fear? Cry out she will, but not in harmony with Gaza! For, after making his pronouncement against Syria, Phoenicia and Philistia, Jehovah proceeds to say: “Be very joyful, O daughter of Zion. Shout in triumph,* O daughter of Jerusalem. Look! Your king himself comes to you. He is righteous, yes, saved; humble, and riding upon an ass, even upon a full-grown animal the son of a she-ass. And I shall certainly cut off the war chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem. And the battle bow must be cut off. And he will actually speak peace to the nations; and his rulership will be from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.”—Zechariah 9:9, 10.
25. Why has the “daughter of Jerusalem” every reason to shout in triumph and be very joyful at the approach of the king?
25 At the fulfillment of that glorious promise, why would not Jerusalem have all good reason in the world to be very joyful and to “shout in triumph”? For at the time that this divine promise was given through the prophet Zechariah, Jerusalem was without a king of her own. She merely had a provincial governor whom the emperor of Persia, Darius I, had appointed, namely, Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel of the royal family line of David. The kingdom of David had been overturned by the Babylonians about ninety years earlier, in 607 B.C.E., at the total destruction of Jerusalem and the deportation of her king Zedekiah to Babylon. Although Jerusalem’s seventy years of lying utterly desolate had now passed, yet the Gentile Times of 2,520 years for the non-Jewish nations to trample upon Jerusalem’s right to a Davidic kingship had to continue on until the year 1914 C.E. So in Zechariah’s day the “daughter of Jerusalem” was longingly looking forward to the coming of the true Messiah King in the line of David, a Messiah prefigured by Governor Zerubbabel.—Haggai 2:23.
26. Why do we not have to guess uncertainly as to the initial fulfillment of this prophecy of Zechariah?
26 We today, who are interested in the true Messiah, not in a false Christ, do not have to guess uncertainly as to the initial fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy. It is recorded and described for us by at least three eyewitnesses thereof, namely, Matthew Levi a tax collector, John Mark an inhabitant of Jerusalem, and John the son of Zebedee, besides a first-century historian who investigated the facts of the case, the physician Luke of Asia Minor. It occurred on Sunday, Nisan 9, 33 C.E. Matthew Levi tells us:
Well, when they got close to Jerusalem and arrived at Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent forth two disciples, saying to them: “Be on your way into the village that is within sight of you, and you will at once find an ass tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. And if someone says anything to you, you must say, ‘The Lord needs them.’ At that he will immediately send them forth.”
This actually took place that there might be fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet, saying: “Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Look! Your King is coming to you, mild-tempered, and mounted upon an ass, yes, upon a colt, the offspring of a beast of burden.’”
So the disciples got on their way and did just as Jesus ordered them. And they brought the ass and its colt, and they put upon these their outer garments, and he seated himself upon them. Most of the crowd spread their outer garments on the road, while others began cutting down branches from the trees and spreading them on the road. As for the crowds, those going ahead of him and those following kept crying out: “Save, we pray, the Son of David! Blessed is he that comes in Jehovah’s name! Save him, we pray, in the heights above!”
Now when he entered into Jerusalem, the whole city was set in commotion, saying: “Who is this?” The crowds kept telling: “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee!”
And Jesus entered into the temple and threw out all those selling and buying in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. And he said to them: “It is written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it a cave of robbers.” Also, blind and lame persons came up to him in the temple, and he cured them.
When the chief priests and the scribes saw the marvelous things he did and the boys that were crying out in the temple and saying: “Save, we pray, the Son of David!” they became indignant and said to him: “Do you hear what these are saying?” Jesus said to them: “Yes. Did you never read this, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings you have furnished praise’?”—Matthew 21:1-16.
27. If the disciples had not cried out, how would the prophecy have been fulfilled?
27 And the Jewish physician Luke adds this detail:
However, some of the Pharisees from the crowd said to him: “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” But in reply he said: “I tell you, If these remained silent, the stones would cry out.”—Luke 19:39, 40; see also Mark 11:1-18; John 12:12-19.
28. How, on his triumphal ride into Jerusalem, was Jesus peaceful, “humble,” “righteous,” and “saved”?
28 Thus, instead of on a war-horse, Jesus Christ peacefully rode an ass into Jerusalem, unlike Herod the Great, who, after three months of besieging Jerusalem in the year 37 B.C.E., took Jerusalem by storm and dethroned Hasmonaean (Maccabean) king, Antigonus of the tribe of Levi. Jesus was indeed “humble,” as Zechariah 9:9 had foretold. He was no false Christ or false Messiah, but was “righteous,” the Messiah vindicated by his heavenly Father Jehovah. He was in fact “righteous” by being perfect in the flesh, sinless, unblemished, and therefore able to offer himself as a perfect human sacrifice for taking away the sin of the whole unrighteous world of mankind. (Acts 7:52; Hebrews 7:26; 1 John 2:1) He was indeed “saved,” just as his ancient ancestor King David was saved by being given the victory over his enemies. (2 Samuel 22:1-4; 8:6, 14) Not in vain did the great crowd cry out as Jesus rode triumphantly into Jerusalem: “Hosanna to the Son of David,” or, “Save, we pray, the Son of David!” Seven days later Almighty God saved Jesus out of death by resurrecting him to immortal life in heaven.—Hebrews 5:7-10.
29. (a) As regards his spiritual disciples, how did Jesus Christ “speak peace to the nations”? (b) How does he destroy all war equipment inside and outside of Christendom, and what will be the result of his speaking peace to the “great crowd” of today?
29 He is the one who was to be called “Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6, 7) The Jewish disciples of him came from all the tribes of Israel, including Ephraim and Judah, and he united them in peaceful Christian brotherhood; among his disciples he even broke down the enmity between those who were natural circumcised Jews and those who were Gentiles. (Ephesians 2:11-20) In this way he has already spoken “peace to the nations.” But Christendom has refused to listen to his speech and continues warring within herself to this day. In the oncoming “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon, Jehovah God will use his Messianic King to destroy war chariots and bows and all violent war equipment found today inside and outside of Christendom. (Revelation 16:14-16; 19:11-21) He will destroy all promoters of violent warfare among mankind, in all nations. But to the “great crowd” of peace-loving worshipers at Jehovah’s spiritual temple, who have come out of all nations, the victorious King Jesus Christ will speak peace and in peace, and they will be preserved.—Revelation 7:14.
30. How, after the end of the Gentile Times in 1914 C.E., was Jesus Christ formally presented to antitypical Jerusalem as King, but what question arises as to his reception?
30 When in 1914 C.E. the 2,520 years of the Gentile Times ended for the Gentile nations to trample on Jerusalem’s right to a Messianic kingship in the royal line of David, the Most High God Jehovah installed the Messiah Jesus on the heavenly throne in order to reign and go subduing among his enemies. (Psalm 110:1-6; Acts 2:34-36; Hebrews 10:12, 13) During World War I (1914-1918 C.E.) the dedicated, baptized remnant of spiritual Israelites publicly proclaimed that the Gentile Times had ended and that the Most High God had made his Son Jesus Christ reigning King in the heavens. Thus Jehovah’s Messianic King was being presented especially to Christendom, which was prefigured by Jerusalem of the first century C.E. But did Christendom, who professed to be made up of disciples of Christ, receive him as King, whose “rulership” was to be “from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth”?
31. Down to December of 1918, what proves whether Christendom received Jehovah’s Messiah as her King?
31 Not according to what Christendom did to the anointed remnant of his spiritual “brothers,” which was the same as doing it to Jesus the Messiah himself. (Matthew 25:40, 45; Mark 9:37) Three and a half years after the end of the Gentile Times, war-embattled Christendom brought her persecution and suppression of the remnant of Christ’s spiritual brothers to a grand climax, in the spring of 1918 C.E. (Revelation 11:2-10) First after doing that did Christendom bring her first world war to an end, on November 11, 1918. In imitation of Jerusalem of the first century C.E. Christendom refused to receive Jehovah’s Messianic King. In the following month (December, 1918), Christendom went on public record as favoring the proposed League of Nations as being “the political expression of the Kingdom of God on earth.”
32. In view of Christendom’s course, were there none to receive Jehovah’s Messianic King, and what would they have to do, according to prophecy?
32 Were there, however, none to receive the Messianic King whom Jehovah of armies presented? Yes, there were! Just as on Sunday, Nisan 9 of 33 C.E. there was a remnant of the Jews, namely, the disciples of Jesus Christ, that hailed him and welcomed him on his kingly ride into Jerusalem, so there was a remnant of spiritual Israelites that did likewise after the close of the Gentile Times in 1914 C.E. By the persecution and repressive measures of Gentile governments of Christendom, these were scattered and broken up, just as Jesus’ disciples were after his betrayal and arrest, on the fifth day after his triumphant ride into Jerusalem. But in the first postwar year of 1919 C.E. when they were revived by God’s life-giving spirit and reinstated actively in his service, they rejected the League of Nations, which was adopted and put into effect that year. Instead of accepting such a counterfeit Christ’s kingdom, they caught up the spirit of Zechariah 9:9 and became “very joyful” and began to “shout in triumph,” because their King, the true Messiah-Christ, had come to them.
33. (a) How, since 1919 C.E., have these receivers of the King let their joy be known and their shouting be heard? (b) When and how will the Messiah-Christ cease to ride the peaceful ass and on his ride whereto?
33 They let their joy be known world wide. They let their shouting be heard world wide. How? By initiating in 1919 C.E. the greatest campaign for proclaiming God’s Messianic kingdom that the world of mankind has ever known. (Matthew 24:14; Revelation 14:6) They have let the proclamation of the good news of God’s Messianic kingdom be heard as far as Messiah’s “rulership” is foretold to extend: “from sea to sea and from the River [Euphrates] to the ends of the earth.” (Zechariah 9:10; Psalm 72:8) Already 207 countries and island groups have heard, and this in 165 languages. In God’s unchangeable due time—soon now—all Christendom and all other elements of this worldly system of things must be cleared off all this territory in the fast-nearing “great tribulation” such as the world of mankind has never before known. In Revelation 19:11-21 the Messiah-Christ is pictured, no longer as riding on a peaceful ass, but on a white war-horse, charging into battle to clear off all opposers who have been squatting on his earthly domain since 1914 C.E.
THE TURNING OF PRISONERS TO THE STRONGHOLD
34. (a) Did Jesus the Messiah merely proclaim liberation for the prisoners? (b) Jehovah’s announcement to the “woman” in Zechariah 9:11, 12 raises what questions?
34 Jesus the Messiah, when on earth as a perfect human being, was sent to “proclaim liberty to those taken captive.” (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:16-21) He not only proclaims this, but after his proclamation thereof he bestows it upon the captive ones. Jehovah’s pronouncement through Zechariah foretells this, as it goes on to say: “Also, you, O woman, by the blood of your covenant I will send your prisoners out of the pit in which there is no water. Return to the stronghold, you prisoners of the hope.” (Zechariah 9:11, 12) Who is the one here addressed as a woman, who are the “prisoners” and what is the “stronghold”?
35. The “woman” here addressed is in a covenant the blood of which was shed on what occasion?
35 The one addressed as if a woman is the organization that is in a covenant with Jehovah God by the precious blood of life. No, it is not earthly Jerusalem nor the earthly nation of natural circumcised Israel. True, the ancient nation of Israel was in a national covenant with Jehovah through the blood of the animal victims sacrificed by the mediator Moses at Mount Sinai in Arabia. (Exodus, chapter 24) According to that national compact validated with such animal blood, the remnant of Israelites had been released from their prison of exile in Babylon in 537 B.C.E. But what Jehovah was now speaking of through Zechariah was a liberation in the distant future, long after that release from Babylonian exile. It is a freeing from the waterless pit that follows the presentation of Jehovah’s Messianic King. It follows Jesus’ triumphant ride into Jerusalem five days before the Jewish Passover of 33 C.E. On that Passover Day sacrificial blood was shed.
36. Whose blood is here meant, and with whom is the covenant by blood made, and who is the one addressed as “woman” in Zechariah 9:11?
36 Whose blood? Messiah’s blood, whose blood had been typified by the blood of all the Passover lambs sacrificed annually by the Jews since that first Passover down in Egypt in 1513 B.C.E. (1 Corinthians 5:7; John 1:29, 36; 1 Peter 1:18, 19) By virtue of Messiah’s blood, more precious than that of all the animal victims sacrificed by Israel, a new covenant was put into force. With whom? Not with earthly Jerusalem or with natural Israel, who rejected the Messianic King and brought about his death. But with spiritual Israel, circumcised in heart, Jewish in an inward sense. (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:7 to 9:15) The Mediator of this new covenant between Jehovah and spiritual Israel is the Messiah Jesus. So it is spiritual Israel that is addressed as a woman in a covenant by blood at Zechariah 9:11.
37, 38. (a) Who are the woman’s “prisoners,” and what is the waterless pit in this twentieth century? (b) What larger meaning might be given to the waterless pit, and what covenant does the blood put in force?
37 Where, then, were those “prisoners” of this symbolic woman? Down here in this twentieth century and in this “conclusion of the system of things” these “prisoners” are the anointed remnant of spiritual Israelites. The history of this century records that during World War I these did come into the bondage of religious Babylon the Great and her political and military patronizers. In that condition they were as in a “pit in which there is no water.” No spiritual refreshment therein, no hope of their getting out! But by the shed blood of Christ as a ransom sacrifice their sins in this condition were forgiven them and they were restored to Jehovah’s favor and to their rightful spiritual estate on earth, as no longer exiles from Him. But the waterless pit may also picture that larger unfavorable condition of being under the general condemnation of sin and under its penalty of death, as inherited from our sinful first human parents, Adam and Eve. It did really require Christ’s redemptive blood to get those who make up this spiritual remnant out of that condition. His blood was that which was applied to put the new covenant into effect. Jesus said:
38 “This means my ‘blood of the covenant,’ which is to be poured out in behalf of many for forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:28) “This cup means the new covenant by virtue of my blood, which is to be poured out in your behalf.”—Luke 22:20; Hebrews 13:20.
39. Only hope from what source could those “prisoners” in the waterless pit entertain, and what call did Jehovah issue to them in 1919 C.E.?
39 Thus by the application of the blood of the new covenant made with spiritual Israel Jehovah of armies sent forth the imprisoned remnant out of the waterless “pit” of the condemnation of sin and death. (Hebrews 12:24) Religious Babylon the Great did not offer these “prisoners” any hope; they could entertain “hope” only as they trusted in the loving promises of Jehovah God and his Messiah. To these in spiritual exile under Babylon the Great, Jehovah of armies issued the call in 1919 C.E.: “Return to the stronghold, you prisoners of the hope.”—Zechariah 9:12.
40. (a) What did that divine call mean for the “prisoners” to do? (b) What is the “stronghold” to which the prisoners must return?
40 That divine call meant for those “prisoners of the hope” to get out of Babylon the Great! (Revelation 18:1-4) The word “stronghold” reminds us of the words of 2 Samuel 5:7-9: “David proceeded to capture the stronghold of Zion, that is, the city of David. . . . And David took up dwelling in the stronghold, and it came to be called the city of David.” But King David’s capital became enlarged to include more than Mount Zion, and it came to be called Jerusalem. So Jerusalem is the “stronghold,” not so much in itself as a strongly fortified city, but in what it represented. What did it represent? The Messianic kingdom of God, for its human king was anointed with holy oil to be ruler and this anointed ruler sat on “Jehovah’s throne.”—2 Samuel 5:1-3; 1 Chronicles 29:23.
41. (a) This return of the “prisoners” was typified by what in 537 B.C.E.? (b) Why was it to the kingdom that the “prisoners” were able to return in 1919 C.E.?
41 In 537 B.C.E. the remnant of exiles in Babylon returned to the land of Judah and rebuilt the city of Jerusalem, thus returning to the earthly stronghold. Their course of action was typical of the course of the modern remnant of spiritual Israel. In obedience to Jehovah’s call, the anointed remnant got out of Babylon the Great in 1919 C.E. and returned to the spiritual “stronghold.” What could be a more impregnable stronghold than the unshakable Messianic kingdom of God? As the earthly stronghold of Jerusalem stood for Jehovah’s Messianic kingdom, likewise the spiritual stronghold pictures what ancient Jerusalem had the divine right to, namely, Jehovah’s kingdom of the true Messiah seated at the right hand of God in heaven. The Gentile Times for the nations to trample on that divine right to Kingdom ended in 1914 C.E., and immediately the Messianic kingdom was born in the heavens. (Revelation 12:1-9) So the anointed remnant, on being released in 1919 C.E., could “return” to that stronghold-like Kingdom, which they had been proclaiming since 1914 C.E. They showed that they did so by renewing their Kingdom preaching as never before.
42. What can the remnant of spiritual Israel say today as to fulfillment of Jehovah’s promise to the “woman”: “Today I am telling you, ‘I shall repay to you, O woman, a double portion’”?
42 There was excellent reason for the anointed remnant to “return to the stronghold,” for Jehovah of armies went on to say to spiritual Israel as to a woman: “Also, today I am telling you, ‘I shall repay to you, O woman, a double portion.’” (Zechariah 9:12) And has not Jehovah of armies done so? Yes. As the anointed remnant of liberated spiritual Israelites today look back, they are obliged to admit that what they had to endure during World War I at the hands of Babylon the Great and her world paramours was nothing in comparison with the spiritual blessings that they are enjoying now in their rightful spiritual estate. Especially so since the end of World War II! It has been more than they expected at the hands of their Liberator, Jehovah of armies. It has been like a “double portion.” What blessings they enjoy!
SPIRITUAL WAR AGAINST THE SEVENTH WORLD POWER
43. In Zechariah 9:13-15, how did Jehovah say he would use his people in a spiritual offensive warfare?
43 Jehovah of armies foresaw the future assailants against his people, his worshipers. What action would he take? Both offensive and defensive. As to his offensive action, he said: “‘For I will tread as my bow Judah. The bow I will fill with Ephraim, and I will awaken your sons, O Zion, against your sons, O Greece, and I will make you [that is to say, Zion] as the sword of a mighty man.’ And over them Jehovah himself will be seen, and his arrow will certainly go forth just like lightning. And on the horn the Sovereign Lord Jehovah himself will blow, and he will certainly go with the windstorms of the south. Jehovah of armies himself will defend them, and they will actually devour and subdue the slingstones. And they will certainly drink—be boisterous—as if there were wine; and they will actually become filled like the bowl, like the corners of the altar.”—Zechariah 9:13-15.
44. The joy of God’s victorious people was to be as joy occasioned by what means, and so what coming world power did they not need to fear?
44 In that figurative warfare, Jehovah’s worshipers are to be victorious, for they will be boisterous with joy, just as if their hearts had been made to rejoice with wine. (Psalm 104:15) So, in Zechariah’s day, the restored Israelites had nothing to fear from the ‘sons of Greece,’ when Alexander the Great led these to the position of world domination as the Fifth World Power. Babylon the destroyer of Jerusalem had now fallen as the Third World Power. Medo-Persia was then dominating the earth as the Fourth World Power. And in 332 B.C.E. Greece was to take her place as the Fifth World Power and to govern the land of Judah.
45. (a) With what indirect outgrowth of the Grecian World Power has the anointed remnant had to carry on spiritual warfare, and over what issue? (b) How have the ‘sons of Zion’ prevailed?
45 However, according to Daniel 8:8-25, there was to be an outgrowth from the Grecian Empire into the Roman Empire as the Sixth World Power and then on into the symbolic ‘small horn,’ the Anglo-American dual world power as the Seventh World Power. With this reputedly Christian Seventh World Power the anointed remnant of spiritual Israel has had to contend, especially during World Wars I and II. It is a spiritual warfare that they have had to wage in an effort to keep neutral toward the controversies of the worldly political powers and to obey God as ruler rather than nationalistic men. (Acts 5:29-32) The spiritual ‘sons of Zion’ have prevailed by faith in God’s Word and by their faithfulness to Jehovah’s Messianic kingdom. This has not been true of the Zionist Movement of the natural, circumcised Jews up till now.
46. How does Jehovah use his anointed remnant on earth like bow and arrow, how speedily does his arrow go, how does he blow his symbolic “horn,” and what does he use as the “sword of a mighty man”?
46 When the Seventh World Power proposed and worked for the League of Nations in 1918-1919 as the “political expression of the Kingdom of God on earth,” Jehovah’s Messianic kingdom as established in the heavens in 1914 C.E. and as pictured by ancient Zion stood in opposition to the man-made counterfeit. Jehovah will use his kingdom as the “sword of a mighty man.” The “sons of the kingdom” (Zion’s spiritual sons) proclaim world wide the Kingdom message, which also is as a spiritual sword. (Matthew 13:38, 43; Ephesians 6:17) Like ancient Judah (the bow) and like Ephraim (the arrow), Jehovah uses the older surviving part of the anointed remnant to propel the newer part like an arrow in declaring the judgment message of the Sovereign Lord God against the enemies of the Messianic kingdom. Jehovah’s symbolic “arrow” speeds “just like lightning” to the Kingdom proclamation, the declaring of the “day of vengeance on the part of our God.” (Isaiah 61:1, 2) Through the present-day explanations of his Holy Word the Bible, Jehovah sounds the spiritual “horn” to call his anointed remnant to the spiritual warfare.
47. (a) Especially since when has Jehovah been seen over his people, and in what respects has he defended them? (b) How have they subdued the figurative “slingstones,” and at what are they filled with joy as with wine?
47 He himself is seen over them, for since 1931 C.E. they have specifically been called by his name, Jehovah’s Christian witnesses. Against the enemies of his Messianic kingdom he will go as “with the windstorms of the south,” which are notably violent in the Middle East. But his faithful remnant of spiritual Israelites he will defend, preserving their faith and spirituality and their God-given spiritual estate. The enemies hurl many stunning deterrents against the restored remnant, but such symbolic “slingstones” the remnant show a capacity to receive without being stunned out of action and they really subdue such “slingstones,” nullifying their effect. Just as the temple bowls were filled with the blood of animal victims and splashed against the side of the copper altar of sacrifice, drenching its corners, so Jehovah’s pouring out of the lifeblood of his enemies in destruction will fill the defended remnant with joy, as if the blood of the enemies were wine that was lawful to drink, to make their hearts rejoice.
48. With what kind of tenderness did Jehovah promise to treat his dedicated people, and like what kind of stones have they glittered?
48 Instead of being like an assailing warrior against his remnant of spiritual Israelites, Jehovah will be tender toward them like a peaceful shepherd. So he brings his “pronouncement” to a high point, saying: “And Jehovah their God will certainly save them in that day like the flock of his people; for they will be as the stones of a diadem glittering over his soil. For O how great his goodness is, and how great his handsomeness is! Grain is what will make the young men thrive, and new wine the virgins.”—Zechariah 9:16, 17.
49, 50. (a) Since when did Jehovah honor those honoring his name? (b) How does Jehovah act as a Savior of his flock, and how precious are these to Him?
49 In the days of Zechariah, that was a heart-strengthening prophecy. Today, this late in the “time of the end” of the Seventh World Power and all the rest of this militarized system of things, the prophecy has become an experience that now nears a grand climax.
50 Since the publication of the leading article, “Who Will Honor Jehovah?” in the January 1, 1926, issue of The Watch Tower, Jehovah has outstandingly been declared world wide to be the God of the anointed remnant of spiritual Israelites. Just as He had long ago said by a prophetic “man of God,” “Those honoring me I shall honor,” he did honor that Jehovah-honoring remnant. (1 Samuel 2:30) He saved them through the persecutions and perils of the worst war of all human history, World War II (1939-1945 C.E.), because these honorable spiritual Israelites were dear to him, just as a flock of sheep is to its Middle Eastern shepherd. How precious the stones of a royal diadem are to its wearer, whose appearance is made awesome by their glitter! Just as precious as those glittering stones in a royal headdress are the faithful ones of the spiritual “flock of his people.” He will yet save them from the enemy’s final assault.
51. How has the mental picture of Jehovah become to the remnant, and as with what provisions has he caused them to thrive spiritually?
51 How great Jehovah’s goodness to them has proved to be! How handsome their mental picture of Him has become to them! As with abundant harvests of grain he has fed them with spiritual food from his revealed Holy Word. As with new wine, their hearts have been gladdened. All this has caused them to thrive spiritually.
[Map on page 260]
(For fully formatted text, see publication)
LAND OF PALESTINE
DURING THE REIGN OF THE PERSIAN KINGS
LAND OF HADRACH (?)