A “Third Part” Preserved in a Purged Land
1. Has Christendom failed in producing the kind of land that honest-hearted people want, and upon whose promise to produce the desired Paradise must we depend today?
WHAT decent, honest-hearted, righteously disposed people want today is a land in which the inhabitants live clean lives and there is no religious hypocrisy or fraud and deception. Christendom, after trying out her hundreds of varieties of so-called Christian religions, has failed to produce such a land. All hope has now been lost that she will ever be able to do so. Not one land can she set forth as her showpiece to prove that she can purge out wickedness and religious uncleanness. She has nowhere brought about a spiritual paradise among her hundreds of millions of church members. If the Creator of heaven and earth were to depend upon her to bring about a purged earth with pure, undefiled religion, it would never come about. But the Almighty God will yet bring this about, in his way, by means of his own theocratic organization. His promise to do so still stands sure, for all right-minded people to trust in today.
2. After telling of the wailing over the one “pierced through,” what does Jehovah tell of being opened up for sin and for an abhorrent thing?
2 It is most interesting to examine how God illustrates his purpose to do this remarkable thing. In his “pronouncement” he has just finished speaking about the wailing and bitter lamentation in his land over the piercing through of the Messiah to whom the inhabitants of the land had pinned their hopes. (Zechariah 12:1, 10-14) Immediately following upon this, he proceeds to say: “In that day there will come to be a well opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for an abhorrent thing.”—Zechariah 13:1.
3. What proves whether Christendom has availed herself of that “well” that was opened up for sin and for an abhorrent thing?
3 Do we today see ‘sin and an abhorrent thing’ prevailing throughout the earth, even in Christendom? If we do, then it is evident that Christendom has not availed herself of that “well” that was to be opened “in that day.” We are in “that day” now, are we not? Here the word “day” does not refer to a twenty-four-hour day. How can we determine whether we are in that favored “day”? This we can do by considering all the circumstances involved.
4. (a) Who opens that “well,” to provide water for what purpose? (b) According to the Scriptures, what are some of the abhorrent things that do not belong in God’s temple?
4 That “day” is prominently marked by a “well.” This well was opened by Jehovah, for he himself is the One that digs it by means of his loving provisions. He sees to it that it is filled with pure water. What is the stated purpose of this water? Not that of drinking in order to quench thirst, but that of purification. The “well” with its water is opened “for sin and for an abhorrent thing.” Among things abhorrent to God is the one described in Leviticus 20:21: “And where a man takes his brother’s wife, it is something abhorrent. It is the nakedness of his brother that he has laid bare. They should become childless.” An abhorrent or impure thing has no place in God’s temple. (2 Chronicles 29:3-5) An abhorrent thing is to be thrown away, even if it involves silver and gold. (Ezekiel 7:19) By acting outrageously before God, one can make oneself an “abhorrent thing.” (Lamentations 1:8) The Israelite who defiled himself by touching a dead corpse was considered as something abhorrent and as not to be touched until after he had been cleansed with the water mixed with the ashes of a sacrificed red cow.—Numbers 19:2-22.
5. How had the inhabitants of the land made it before the Israelites took possession of it, and why did Jehovah open up a “well for sin and for an abhorrent thing” in behalf of the remnant that had been restored there?
5 Before the Israelites had taken possession of the land of Canaan, the land had been made abhorrent, filthy, impure, “because of the impurity of the peoples of the lands, because of their detestable things with which they have filled it from end to end by their uncleanness.” (Ezra 9:11) But after the Israelites themselves had occupied the land for some time, they too made the land abhorrent, filthy, impure, so that Jehovah could say: “The house of Israel were dwelling upon their soil, and they kept making it unclean with their way and with their dealings. Like the uncleanness of menstruation their way has become before me.” (Ezekiel 36:16, 17; Leviticus 15:19-33) Rightly, then, Jehovah did not want the land of his restored remnant to become again an abhorrent land or to continue to be such. That is why he opened up this “well” to cleanse away sin or an abhorrent thing.
6. As this was after the restoration from Babylon, why did the “house of David” and the “inhabitants of Jerusalem” need such a well for cleansing? (b) For how many, really, was the “well” meant, and how could these avail themselves of it?
6 So the “well” was opened “to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” But let us not lose from sight that these were of the remnant of Israelites who were liberated from Babylon and who returned to the land of Judah to rebuild the temple of their God at Jerusalem. Consequently, although there was among them a “house of David,” they did not have a king of the lineage of King David sitting on a royal throne at Jerusalem. Zerubbabel, who had come from Babylon, was of the “house of David” but was merely appointed by King Cyrus of Persia to be governor of Judah. (Zechariah 4:6-10; Matthew 1:6-13) The Messiah had yet to come for them to get a king of the “house of David.” Naturally, then, as here meant, the “house of David” and the “inhabitants of Jerusalem” needed cleansing from “sin” and any “abhorrent thing.” They needed that “well” to be opened. In fact, the “house of David” and the “inhabitants of Jerusalem” represented their whole nation. The whole nation needed that “well” with its cleansing water, and they could avail themselves of this divine provision when they came up to Jerusalem for their annual festivals.
7. When was that “well” opened up to the “house of David” and the “inhabitants of Jerusalem,” and with what results at the start?
7 When was that “well” opened to the “house of David” and the “inhabitants of Jerusalem” and to the nation whom these represented? This was after the One whom they “pierced through” to the death on the impalement stake outside the walls of Jerusalem on Passover Day of 33 C.E. was resurrected from the dead. This enabled him to ascend to heaven and enter into the presence of Jehovah God and present to him the sin-atoning value of his shed blood. Thereafter on the festival day of Pentecost, Sivan 6 of 33 C.E., Jehovah God used the sin-atoning Messiah, Jesus Christ, to pour out the holy spirit upon his faithful disciples in Jerusalem, about 120 of them, to begin with. Later, that same day, about three thousand Jews confessed their guilt at having shared in the killing of the Messiah, Jesus, and they got baptized in water to become his disciples and they, too, were baptized with the holy spirit.—Acts 1:2-5, 15; 2:1-36.
8, 9. (a) What did Peter’s counsel to those thousands of conscience-stricken Jews on the day of Pentecost mean, as respects the “well”? (b) What assurance of this did Peter give later to Jews at the temple?
8 When, now, the Christian apostle Peter said to those thousands of conscience-stricken Jews, “Repent, and let each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the free gift of the holy spirit,” what did that mean? (Acts 2:37, 38) It meant that it was “that day” foretold in Zechariah 13:1. It meant that the “well” had been opened “to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for an abhorrent thing.” Could there have been an “abhorrent thing” greater than that of instigating and sharing in the violent death of the Messiah, Jesus? Likely quite a number of Jews among those thousands of Jews had looked upon the impaled body of Jesus Christ when it was “pierced through” by the spear of the Roman soldier guard. (John 19:37) But even such an “abhorrent thing” the water from that opened “well” could cleanse away. Peter gave assurance of this when he later said to Jews at the temple in Jerusalem:
9 “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers also did. But in this way God has fulfilled the things he announced beforehand through the mouth of all the prophets [including Zechariah 12:10], that his Christ would suffer. Repent, therefore, and turn around so as to get your sins blotted out, that seasons of refreshing may come from the person of Jehovah and that he may send forth the Christ appointed for you, Jesus.”—Acts 3:17-20.
10. According to Paul, how many natural Jews availed themselves of that “well,” and how long was Jerusalem with her “house of David” seemingly the literal location of that “well”?
10 That was in the year 33 C.E., but even down to the year 56 C.E. the apostle Paul under inspiration pointed out that only a remnant of the natural, circumcised Jews looked to the “pierced through” Messiah, Jesus, in faith and availed themselves of the “well” of cleansing waters: “At the present season also a remnant has turned up according to a choosing due to undeserved kindness.” (Romans 11:5; 9:27, 28) In the year 70 C.E. Jewish Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman legions and she ceased to be available for an application of Zechariah 13:1 to her literally, and her “house of David” became lost to identification by means of genealogical records, for these became lost.
11. Parallelwise, when did a remnant of spiritual Israelites come upon the scene, and what did they appreciate as respects God’s anger toward them (Isaiah 12:1, 2)?
11 However, there is a parallel fulfillment of Zechariah 13:1 to the remnant of spiritual Israelites, who have to do with the “heavenly Jerusalem,” the “city of the living God.” During the first world war of 1914-1918 C.E., the remnant of spiritual Israelites came under Babylonish bondage and proved to be guilty of spiritual shortcomings and uncleanness. In the year 1919 there came a liberation of them from the organization of Babylon the Great and her political, military paramours. Then they began to appreciate and discern the application of the words of Isaiah 12:1, 2: “And in that day you will be sure to say: ‘I shall thank you, O Jehovah, for although you got incensed at me, your anger gradually turned back, and you proceeded to comfort me. Look! God is my salvation. I shall trust and be in no dread; for Jah Jehovah is my strength and my might, and he came to be the salvation of me.’”a So now, as in Zechariah’s time, there was a restored remnant, liberated from Babylon the Great and devoting themselves to the building up of Jehovah’s pure worship at his spiritual temple.
12. (a) When was a “well” of purifying waters opened up to them, and why? (b) How was the prophecy of Ezekiel 36:24, 25 thus fulfilled?
12 This restored anointed remnant of spiritual Israelites needed to be cleansed from all “sin” and any “abhorrent thing” that had attached to them during their bondage under Babylon the Great and her worldly paramours. As something suited to their spiritual needs then, the “well” of purifying water was opened up to them by the merciful Jehovah, in that liberation year of 1919 C.E. At once they began to avail themselves of the cleansing water of that “well.” Then, in a spiritual way, was fulfilled the divine promise in Ezekiel 36:24, 25: “And I will take you out of the nations and collect you together out of all the lands and bring you in upon your soil. And I will sprinkle upon you clean water, and you will become clean; from all your impurities and from all your dungy idols I shall cleanse you.” During their spiritual bondage in Babylon the Great, the remnant had touched the dead things of the war-mad world; and now it was as if Jehovah through Christ were sprinkling the repentant remnant with the “water for cleansing,” mixed with the ashes of the slaughtered red cow.—Numbers 19:1-13.
13. Among those restored spiritual Israelites, who among them needed to be cleansed, to correspond with the “house of David” and the “inhabitants of Jerusalem,” and why so?
13 This was required in the case of all the repentant, restored members of the remnant of spiritual Israel. There were none too high in importance or responsibility, resembling the “house of David,” nor any too ordinary or commonplace and numerous, resembling the “inhabitants of Jerusalem,” to be excused from this cleansing by means of the water from the “well” of Jehovah’s provision. The general governing body of the remnant of spiritual Israel, and also the official elders as overseers of the local congregations of these spiritual Israelites needed to be cleansed just the same as did the dedicated, baptized members of their congregations. (Acts 20:17-28; 14:23; Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; 4:14; Titus 1:5-9) There was a community uncleanness among them. In preaching, teaching and daily living they were obliged to be clean in their restored spiritual estate. In line with keeping themselves unspotted from this world, they were brought to the position of maintaining strict Christian neutrality toward the violent conflicts of the nations that heaped up dead corpses.—James 1:27; John 15:18, 19; 17:14.
LOYALTY TO GOD TRANSCENDS FAMILY TIES
14, 15. (a) “That day” must be a time also for testing what quality toward Jehovah? (b) In Zechariah 13:2, 3, what guiding illustration of this did Jehovah give?
14 “That day” in which the “well” is opened up “for sin and for an abhorrent thing” is also a day for testing the degree of one’s loyalty to God. The remnant that was restored from Babylon in 537 B.C.E. was forewarned of this. In describing how loyal to Him his worshipers must be and would even be, the Sovereign Lord God proceeded to say further to his prophet Zechariah:
15 “‘And it must occur in that day,’ is the utterance of Jehovah of armies, ‘that I shall cut off the names of the idols out of the land, and they will no more be remembered; and also the prophets and the spirit of uncleanness I shall cause to pass out of the land. And it must occur that in case a man should prophesy anymore, his father and his mother, the ones who caused his birth, must also say to him, “You will not live, because falsehood is what you have spoken in the name of Jehovah.” And his father and his mother, the ones who caused his birth, must pierce him through because of his prophesying.’”—Zechariah 13:2, 3.
16. What is the “land” out of which Jehovah has cut off the “names of the idols,” and what has this resulted in among the spiritual Israelites of today?
16 As regards our time since the year 1919 C.E., Jehovah of armies is here speaking about the spiritual estate of his restored remnant of spiritual Israelites. Because this God, who requires exclusive devotion to himself, has caused the “names of the idols” to pass out of the “land” of their relationship with Him, they now refuse to worship the “wild beast” out of the sea and also the “image” of that wild beast. Or, if we say it plainly without the use of those Bible symbols of political institutions, the spiritual Israelites refuse to worship the political state as a whole on a world scale and also the League of Nations and its successor, the United Nations. In this way they avoid suffering the divine penalty for carrying the “mark” of the “wild beast.” (Revelation 13:1-18; 14:9, 10) Because they have “approached a Mount Zion and a city of the living God, heavenly Jerusalem” and they are “enrolled in the heavens,” their “citizenship exists in the heavens.” (Hebrews 12:2, 23; Philippians 3:20) So they do not yield themselves to the delirium of earthly nationalism. They do not render any worshipful gestures or attitudes to nationalistic idols. Idol names are not remembered. The loyal spiritual Israelites praise the name of Jehovah as the true God, in heartfelt, full allegiance to Him.
17. In view of what warnings of Jesus Christ and the apostle John was it timely for Jehovah to cause false prophets to pass out of the “land”?
17 Jehovah has also caused the false prophets and “spirit of uncleanness” to pass out of the spiritual estate of his restored remnant. Jesus Christ forewarned us concerning this “conclusion of the system of things” that “false Christs and false prophets will arise and will give great signs and wonders so as to mislead, if possible, even the chosen ones.” (Matthew 24:3, 4, 24, 25) The apostle John warned: “Beloved ones, do not believe every inspired expression [or, every spirit], but test the inspired expressions to see whether they originate with God, because many false prophets have gone forth into the world.” (1 John 4:1) Accordingly, there would be need among the restored remnant of spiritual Israelites to guard against false prophets invading or rising up in the midst of their spiritual estate on earth.
18, 19. (a) What did Jehovah’s causing the false prophet to pass out of the land require the reinstated remnant of spiritual Israel to do? (b) What counsel of the apostle Peter concerning prophecy did they heed?
18 How, then, did Jehovah keep their “land” or spiritual estate pure in worship by fulfilling his promise: “Also the prophets and the spirit of uncleanness I shall cause to pass out of the land.”? (Zechariah 13:2) It was by causing any wrong understandings of the Bible prophecies that had been entertained before the remnant’s reinstatement in their “land” in 1919 C.E. to be corrected. The “time of the end,” the “conclusion of the system of things,” that began in 1914 at the end of the Gentile Times was God’s appointed time for the fulfillment of many prophecies. These could not be understood until they were just about to be fulfilled or after they had been fulfilled. So in the light of all that was taking place since 1914 the reinstated remnant looked anew into the prophecies that God had reserved for the “time of the end” for their fulfillment. (Daniel 12:4; Revelation 10:6, 7) This included a restudy of the books of Ezekiel and Revelation, an explanation of which had been attempted and published in July of 1917 in the book entitled “The Finished Mystery.” Thus the restored remnant heeded the words:
19 “We have the prophetic word made more sure; and you are doing well in paying attention to it as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and a daystar rises, in your hearts. For you know this first, that no prophecy of Scripture springs from any private interpretation. For prophecy was at no time brought by man’s will, but men spoke from God as they were borne along by holy spirit.”—2 Peter 1:19-21.
20. How, figuratively speaking, did fleshly parents pierce their son through for prophesying falsely?
20 Any attempted interpretation of prophecy, if it proved to be incorrect in the light of historic events and the clearer understanding of the Bible, was corrected, regardless of who had offered the interpretation. Loyalty to God and to his inspired Word was the issue here to be met. So, as an illustration of the loyalty required, even if a fleshly son should offer a wrong interpretation of divine prophecy and should persist in it, like a false prophet, then his own fleshly parents in their loyalty to God would have nothing further to do with him on a religious basis. Christian parents could not do as under the Mosaic Law covenant, namely, have him put to death; but they could pronounce him spiritually dead to themselves in spite of their parenthood of him physically. In this way, figuratively speaking, they “must pierce him through because of his prophesying.” (Zechariah 13:3; compare Deuteronomy 13:1-5.) With their full consent, such a false prophet would be expelled, disfellowshiped, from the Christian congregation. By such loyalty on the part of all members of the restored remnant, the “prophet” of falsehood would be made to pass out of their “land.”
21. How, too, was the “spirit of uncleanness” made to pass out of their spiritual “land”?
21 Yes, too, the “spirit of uncleanness” would thus be made to pass out of their spiritual “land.” If that spirit were an inspired expression of uncleanness by a would-be prophet or was any tendency, trend, or inclination to uncleanness, it would be disapproved and resisted by the loyal ones. As a consequence any uncleanness as to religious teaching or as to moral behavior would be forced to pass out, under the driving force of God’s holy spirit. The God-given spiritual estate must be maintained as a “land” where clean, Scriptural living is carried on. Persons spiritually and morally unclean must be disfellowshiped therefrom.—2 Corinthians 6:14 to 7:1; compare Deuteronomy 13:6-18.
RELIGIOUS HYPOCRISY EXPOSED
22, 23. (a) How does Jehovah put the false prophets to shame? (b) How does Jehovah describe the false prophets trying to hide their reason for feeling shame?
22 Jehovah, the God of the true prophets, will put all false prophets to shame either by not fulfilling the false prediction of such self-assuming prophets or by having His own prophecies fulfilled in a way opposite to that predicted by the false prophets. False prophets will try to hide their reason for feeling shame by denying who they really are. They will try to avoid being killed or being pronounced spiritually dead by Jehovah’s loyal worshipers. He foretold this by having his true prophet Zechariah continue on to say:
23 “And it must occur in that day that the prophets will become ashamed, each one of his vision when he prophesies; and they will not wear an official garment of hair for the purpose of deceiving. And he will certainly say, ‘I am no prophet. I am a man cultivating the soil, because an earthling man himself acquired me from my youth on.’ And one must say to him, ‘What are these wounds on your person between your hands?’ And he will have to say, ‘Those with which I was struck in the house of my intense lovers.’”—Zechariah 13:4-6, NW; JB; NE; NAB; contrast Amos 7:14-17.
24. The scar-producing wounds on the deceptive prophet were admitted by him to be inflicted by whom, and what would this indicate as to loyalty to God in comparison with attachment to fleshly loved ones?
24 Thus Jehovah foretold that his people, in their “land” of restoration, would be so well instructed with his Word and would be so loyal to Him and His true prophecies that they would refuse to be friends and intense lovers of any false prophet. If they did not kill him, then they would discipline him and strike him so hard in their indignation that visible wounds and scars would result. Such marks on his person, yes, on his breast which would be partly exposed, would betray his identity in spite of the fact that he had discarded official garments that he had assumed to wear as a bona fide prophet of Jehovah God. From whom had he got such scar-producing wounds? From his intense lovers, whether these were his own fleshly parents or his intimate associates. However, their intense loyalty to Jehovah as the God of true prophecy would be stronger than their till-then intense love for a deceptive prophet. They would place love of God and his inspired Word above personal friendships with fleshly relatives or associates. Such a course would cause “the prophets and the spirit of uncleanness” to pass out of the “land” of Jehovah’s repatriated people.
25. This course of supreme loyalty to Jehovah has been adopted by whom and since when, and how has this affected their spiritual “land”?
25 This course of supreme loyalty to the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has been the one adopted by the anointed remnant since 1919 C.E. This has resulted in the disfellowshiping or excommunicating of religious apostates or rebels from the theocratic organization that Jehovah the heavenly Theocrat has established among his obedient remnant. The loyal remnant have found out that it is not the mere “official garment of hair,” not a professional uniform or type of dress, that makes a true prophet of the one living and true God. That is why they have left Babylon the Great, including Christendom, with its distinctively garbed religious priests, preachers, monks and nuns. What makes a true prophet of Jehovah today is his true Christian personality as his identification and his loyal adherence to Jehovah’s Word and its prophecies. It is no wonder, then, that Jehovah’s witnesses while acting as ministers of God’s Word wear plain business suits or the regular attire of the common people. So the loyal remnant are willing to brush aside intense love for close associates and to inflict spiritual “wounds” upon these in disapproval and rejection of apostates. This has kept their theocratic “land” a spiritual realm of clean godly living.
STRIKING THE SHEPHERD CAUSES A SCATTERING
26. (a) As a prophet, Jesus Christ was struck and wounded for what reason? (b) How did Jehovah foretell this through the prophet Zechariah?
26 Jehovah’s greatest prophet on earth was struck and wounded to the death, but this was for his proving to be a true prophet of the Most High God down to the end. (Deuteronomy 18:15-22; Acts 3:13-23) His violent death caused a short-time scattering of his disciples who were loyal to him. The true prophet Zechariah was used to foretell this, for God went on to say to him: “‘O sword, awake against my shepherd, even against the able-bodied man who is my associate,’ is the utterance of Jehovah of armies. ‘Strike the shepherd, and let those of the flock be scattered; and I shall certainly turn my hand back upon those who are insignificant.’”—Zechariah 13:7.
27, 28. To avoid the mistake made by some modern Bible translators, whose application of Zechariah 13:7 will we correctly accept, and according to what record thereof?
27 Certain modern Bible translators would apply those words to the “useless shepherd,” the “valueless shepherd,” by transferring the words of Zechariah 13:7-9 and attaching them to Zechariah 11:17. (See translation by Moffatt, An American Translation, The New English Bible.) But we shall make no mistake if we take the application of the words of Zechariah 13:7 as made by Jehovah’s greatest Prophet on earth, Jesus Christ. It was on the night of the Jewish Passover at Jerusalem, Nisan 14 of 33 C.E. Jesus had just celebrated the Passover supper and thereafter had inaugurated the Lord’s Supper (or, Evening Meal), and was now on his way with his eleven faithful apostles to the Garden of Gethsemane at the foot of the Mount of Olives. At this point we read the record:
28 “Then Jesus said to them: ‘All of you will be stumbled in connection with me on this night, for it is written, “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered about.” But after I have been raised up, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.’”—Matthew 26:31, 32; Mark 14:27, 28.
29. (a) In awaking against Jesus Christ, how was it that the sword was awaking against Jehovah’s Shepherd as “the able-bodied man who is my associate”? (b) Why could Jehovah have confidence in Jesus Christ when calling for the sword to awake against him?
29 Did the Great Prophet Jesus make a true application of the words taken from Zechariah 13:7? Shortly afterward that same Passover night the “sword” of warfare did awake against Jehovah’s true Shepherd, even against the able-bodied man who was His earliest and closest associate, Jesus Christ his Son. This was his only-begotten Son, “the firstborn of all creation,” “the beginning of the creation by God.” (John 3:16; Colossians 1:15; Revelation 3:14) Before his birth as a human creature, he had enjoyed spiritual life with Jehovah God in heaven and had associated with his heavenly Father when He created all other things, Jehovah using his only-begotten Son as his agent in doing so. (John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16-18) Therefore, Jehovah had the fullest confidence in his Son, even when he was a perfect, able-bodied man on earth. He was convinced that his Son would keep his integrity under warfare by the enemy. In this assurance he called for the martial “sword” of the enemies to “awake” against his Son.
30. Why did Jesus quote Zechariah 13:7 as if Jehovah were doing the striking, and why did Jesus not resist being struck?
30 Since it was Jehovah who prophetically issued the command to “strike the shepherd,” it was as if He himself were striking the shepherd. Hence Jesus could quote the prophetic words of Zechariah 13:7 as if his heavenly Father were saying: “I will strike the shepherd.” (See the Greek Septuagint translation in The Septuagint Bible, by Charles Thomson.) The crowd that came that Passover night under the guidance of the betrayer Judas Iscariot did come with literal swords and clubs. Jesus did not try to resist the fulfillment of the prophecy. If his heavenly Father had given the command for Jesus now to be struck, then he would submit to it.
31. What question did Jesus ask after telling Peter to sheathe his sword that had been drawn in defense, and what further part of Zechariah 13:7 now came true?
31 So, when the apostle Peter tried to defend Jesus with a sword, Jesus told him to return the sword to its sheath and commented: “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father to supply me at this moment more than twelve legions of angels? In that case, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that it must take place this way?” Then after Jesus had asked the crowd why they had come out against him, a peaceful, public preacher, “with swords and clubs as against a robber,” he added: “But all this has taken place for the scriptures of the prophets to be fulfilled.” At this point the scripture of Zechariah was not all fulfilled. A further part came true, when, as the record states: “Then all the disciples abandoned him and fled.” In that way “those of the flock” were scattered.—Matthew 26:51-56; Mark 14:47-50; John 18:1-9.
32. Who were “those who are insignificant,” and how did Jehovah turn his hand back upon them, according to Zechariah 13:7?
32 Jesus had correctly applied the prophecy. That night when he as the Fine Shepherd was struck with the “sword,” his sheep did become scattered, thus being stumbled in connection with him. But how was the further part of Zechariah 13:7 fulfilled: “And I shall certainly turn my hand back upon those who are insignificant.”? This proved to be a merciful and favorable turning back of Jehovah’s hand, as in the case of Isaiah 1:25, 26. With his “hand” of applied power Jehovah of armies protected the scattered sheep. These fearful apostles were “insignificant” in comparison with their Fine Shepherd Jesus Christ. Also, from the standpoint of the Jewish world of that day they were “insignificant,” not important enough to be taken into custody on that night of Jesus’ arrest. Yet not in Jehovah’s estimation were they “insignificant,” and he turned his compassionate attention to them and protected and preserved them. On the third day therefrom, on Nisan 16, he brought them together again to have the resurrected Jesus appear to them and resume shepherding them.—Luke 24:33-43; John 20:1-29.
33. How did the enemies strike at Jehovah’s Shepherd with their “sword” during World War I, with what intent, and how did Jehovah turn his hand back upon the “insignificant” ones?
33 At the climax of World War I in 1918 C.E., there was a similar scattering of the sheep of the governmental Shepherd Jesus Christ, whom Jehovah had enthroned in the heavens, in order to “go subduing in the midst of your enemies.” (Psalm 110:1, 2) Those earthly enemies had really declared war against the heavenly Shepherd whom Jehovah had appointed to shepherd the world of mankind. Unable to use the “sword” of war directly against Jehovah’s governmental Shepherd, they struck at “those of the flock” on earth by using their war powers and measures and arrangements against these “sheep,” to scatter them in the hope of separating them permanently, unable to be reorganized. But, as in the first century, Jehovah of armies turned his hand back upon these “insignificant” ones of the remnant of spiritual Israel. Marvelously he protected and preserved them, and in the first postwar year of 1919 C.E. he brought them together again in an organized fashion. At this reviving and exalting of them in His service, their seemingly triumphant enemies were astounded and became fearful.—Revelation 11:7-13.
“TWO PARTS” ARE CUT OFF
34. From what is a tremendous part of the world population being cut off, and why so?
34 The striking of Jehovah’s Shepherd and Associate led to consequences that have affected all mankind, even to this day. A modern-day parallel of it in our twentieth century has had marked effects upon this generation that has been living in this “time of the end,” this “conclusion of the system of things.” A tremendous part of the world population are being “cut off” from any share in the God-given spiritual estate or “land” of divine favor and blessing. Because of their preoccupation with the material and political and social things of this present system of things, they are indifferent or ignorant as regards the far-reaching prophecy of Zechariah 13:8, 9 that is being fulfilled toward them. Note what it says:
35. How many “parts” does Zechariah 13:8, 9 say will be “cut off”?
35 “‘And it must occur in all the land,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘that two parts in it are what will be cut off and expire; and as for the third part, it will be left remaining in it. And I shall certainly bring the third part through the fire; and I shall actually refine them as in the refining of silver, and examine them as in the examining of gold. It, for its part, will call upon my name, and I, for my part, will answer it.’”
36. Did the fact that the spiritual remnant were liberated and reinstated in their “land” in 1919 C.E. mean that Jehovah was through refining and examining them, and what typical picture shows whether or not?
36 Let us remind ourselves that these words were spoken, through the prophet Zechariah, to the repatriated remnant of Israel in the “land” of Judah. That ancient Israelite remnant would typify or prophetically prefigure the anointed remnant of spiritual Israelites in this “time of the end,” this “conclusion of the system of things” that began when the Gentile Times ended in 1914 C.E. After the severe trials and bondage experienced during World War I, the surviving remnant of spiritual Israelites were liberated and reinstated in their God-given spiritual estate or “land” in 1919, in the spring of that meaningful year. The fact that those of this surviving remnant had come through the persecution and afflictions of that first world conflict did not mean that they were now finished with their being tried and examined by the heavenly Refiner Jehovah God. It was not so in the case of the Israelite remnant (including Zechariah) who were liberated from fallen Babylon in 537 B.C.E. They had quite a time getting the second temple of Jehovah completed at Jerusalem, first by the year 515 B.C.E. It has been correspondingly so with the remnant of spiritual Israel since 1919.
37. What did Malachi prophesy about sixty years later concerning Jehovah’s refining work and the restoring of pure worship at His temple?
37 The prophet Malachi, who prophesied in the land of Judah about sixty years after Zechariah lived, foretold that Jehovah, accompanied by his “messenger of the covenant,” would come to his temple. There He would sit “as a refiner and cleanser of silver” and he would “cleanse the sons of Levi.” Why? So as to bring about a restoration of the pure worship of the true God at his temple. Then, just as predicted by Malachi, “They will certainly become to Jehovah people presenting a gift offering in righteousness. And the gift offering of Judah and of Jerusalem will actually be gratifying to Jehovah, as in the days of long ago and as in the years of antiquity.”—Malachi 3:1-4; written about 443 B.C.E.
38. What more would there be to it besides the cleansing of the sons of Levi, in order to cleanse the land?
38 There would be more to it than the cleansing of the sons of Levi as temple functionaries, in order to make the “land” of his restored people a land of clean, godly living. Jehovah also said: “‘And I will come near to you people for the judgment, and I will become a speedy witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against those swearing falsely, and against those acting fraudulently with the wages of a wage worker, with the widow and with the fatherless boy, and those turning away the alien resident, while they have not feared me,’ Jehovah of armies has said. ‘For I am Jehovah; I have not changed. And you are sons of Jacob [Israel]; you have not come to your finish. . . . Return to me, and I will return to you,’ Jehovah of armies has said.”—Malachi 3:5-7.
39. Was there a fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy in the first century C.E., and what indicates whether there should be any fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy since 1914 C.E.?
39 There was a first-century fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy at the time that the Messiah Jesus was present in the flesh among the nation of Israel. (Matthew 11:7-10; Mark 1:1, 2; Luke 7:24-27) There should likewise be a further fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy after Jesus Christ was enthroned in the heavens in the year 1914 C.E. and thus became present in his kingdom. At the due time thereafter Jehovah God, accompanied by him as “the messenger of the covenant,” must have come to his spiritual temple for the judgment of all his worshipers there, including those who were merely professing to worship Him. Certainly Jehovah must have been at his spiritual temple as the Supreme Judge by the year 1919, when he liberated the spiritual Israelites from Babylon the Great and restored them to their “land” or God-given spiritual estate on earth.
40. How did Jehovah act like a Refiner of precious metal, and who were due to be “cut off” from 1919 C.E. onward?
40 In harmony with the prophetic picture, Jehovah would act as a refiner of his professed people. He would clear away those who were like dross. He would treasure and keep those who were like pure precious metal, like clarified silver and gold. So from 1919 C.E. onward it would be the time for certain ones to be cut off from the “land” that was to be inhabited by his restored people. Spiritually speaking, such “cut off” ones must “expire” as far as vital relationship with Jehovah is concerned.
41. In his parable of the sower, what did Jesus say about the cutting off of some?
41 Who, then, are the “two parts in it” that are “cut off and expire”? (Zechariah 13:8) This is something for the reigning King Jesus Christ as the “messenger of the covenant” to indicate for us. This has to do with the “conclusion of the system of things,” the “time of the end” in which we have been living since 1914. (Daniel 12:4; Matthew 24:3-14; 28:20) What did Jesus say about this critical period? In explaining the parable of the sower he said:
“The sower of the fine seed is the Son of man; the field is the world; as for the fine seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; but the weeds are the sons of the wicked one, and the enemy that sowed them is the Devil. The harvest is a conclusion of a system of things, and the reapers are angels. Therefore, just as the weeds are collected and burned with fire, so it will be in the conclusion of the system of things. The Son of man will send forth his angels, and they will collect out from his kingdom all things that cause stumbling and persons who are doing lawlessness, and they will pitch them into the fiery furnace. There is where their weeping and the gnashing of their teeth will be. At that time the righteous ones will shine as brightly as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”—Matthew 13:37-43.
42. Who specifically are those symbolic “weeds,” and from what are they cut off, and by whom?
42 That parabolic illustration foretold a cutting off of a large part in the conclusion of the system of things, where we are now living since 1914 C.E. The part cut off during this time is the symbolic weeds, who picture the “sons of the wicked one,” Satan the Devil, the “enemy” who sowed such weeds. They were for a long time mistaken for being symbolic wheat, mistaken for being the “sons of the kingdom,” that is to say, anointed Christians with a call to the heavenly kingdom. They pretended to be Christians, and so they were confused with the true anointed Christians who are heirs of the Kingdom. But their development to what they really are in this time of the “harvest” has proved them to be “weeds,” imitation Christians, who, like the Devil their sower, are enemies of the Kingdom. Rightly, they are “cut off” from association with the “wheat” class. The heavenly angels, as “reapers,” are the ones used to cut them off. These pitch the “weeds” into the “fire” and such weeds will not come through that “fire.” Their false identity is destroyed, and finally they themselves also.
43. In his prophecy on the “sign” of the conclusion of the system of things, how did Jesus describe the harvest of the chosen ones, and thereafter whose cutting off did he foretell?
43 However, there is another “part” or class that is “cut off” in this “conclusion of the system of things.” Jesus Christ foretold this “part” or class in his marvelous prophecy regarding the “sign” of his presence and of the conclusion of the system of things. (Matthew 24:3) In this prophecy he tells of the “harvest,” which history shows began in the year 1919 C.E., and he said: “He will send forth his angels with a great trumpet sound, and they will gather his chosen ones together from the four winds, from one extremity of the heavens to their other extremity.” (Matthew 24:31) Then, toward the middle of this prophecy, he said:
“On this account you too prove yourselves ready, because at an hour that you do not think to be it, the Son of man is coming.
“Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics, to give them their food at the proper time? Happy is that slave if his master on arriving finds him doing so. Truly I say to you, He will appoint him over all his belongings.
“But if ever that evil slave should say in his heart, ‘My master is delaying,’ and should start to beat his fellow slaves and should eat and drink with the confirmed drunkards, the master of that slave will come on a day that he does not expect and in an hour that he does not know, and will punish him with the greatest severity and will assign him his part with the hypocrites. There is where his weeping and the gnashing of his teeth will be.”—Matthew 24:44-51; compare with this Luke 12:42-46 with its similar parable.
44. What class, then, does that “evil slave” picture, and why is that class cut off, and from what?
44 Here it is the “evil slave” who is “cut off,” he being assigned his part, not with the fellow slaves of his master, but with the hypocrites, with the unfaithful ones, after he has been punished with the greatest severity. Just as the “faithful and discreet slave” pictures a class of anointed Christians who are actually in the household of the Master Jesus Christ as his “domestics,” so that “evil slave” pictures a class. This class of Christians, unlike the “weeds,” was anointed with God’s spirit and was a part of the Master’s household, he being a fellow slave therein. However, this class turns unfaithful, becomes self-seeking, loses self-control over its appetites, mistreats fellow slaves in an abuse of power and authority, and becomes careless and indifferent toward the matter of having to account with its Master at his coming. Therefore, during this “conclusion of the system of things,” this time of his second and invisible “presence,” as King, he cuts this “evil slave” class off. He disfellowships them to the religious hypocrites and to the unfaithful ones. There they expire.
45. Thus how many “parts” have been “cut off,” and who have been brought through the “fire,” and why have they called upon God’s name?
45 Thus “two parts” or the majority of those professing to be Christians at this time are cut off from the “land” or God-given spiritual estate of Jehovah’s restored remnant. But the Sovereign Lord God has brought a “third part,” a minority of those professing to be heirs of God’s heavenly kingdom, through the “fire” of testing and examining as to their faith, personality and works. These have humbly submitted to the refining process as applied by the great Refiner, although it has been trialsome. To endure the figurative heat, they have had to call upon Jehovah’s name, and he has answered them according to the sincerity of their hearts.
46. What has Jehovah said to this “third part,” and how, and what has this “part” said in response?
46 In fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah 13:9, the heavenly Supervisor of his “land” has not cut off this “third part” from the God-given spiritual estate of his restored remnant. He has said, by his evident favor toward them and by his marvelous dealings with them as His witnesses: “It is my people.” In turn, the faithful anointed remnant has said: “Jehovah is my God.” Outstandingly so since July 26, 1931, when those of this anointed remnant embraced the name “Jehovah’s witnesses.” They have remained active on their spiritual “land” to this day, praising their God.
47. Who is it out of all the nations that attach themselves to the “third part” to join in worship at Jehovah’s temple?
47 It is to this “third part” that has been left remaining in this spiritual “land” that the “ten men out of all the languages of the nations” attach themselves, taking hold of the skirt of these faithful spiritual Jews or Israelites. To these the international “great crowd” as pictured by the “ten men” are saying: “We will go with you people, for we have heard that God is with you people.” (Zechariah 8:20-23) In increasing numbers, by the tens of thousands in a year, these associate themselves with the anointed remnant on their “land” and worship Jehovah at his temple.—Revelation 7:9-15.