Triumph for the “Eternal Purpose”
1. Who have been spirit opposers of God’s “eternal purpose,” and since when?
GOD’S “eternal purpose” has its opposers in heaven and on earth. They have fought and still keep on fighting to prevent the ultimate triumph of that “eternal purpose.” When at the Garden of Eden God announced his “eternal purpose” in the hearing of the Great Serpent and of the sinful Adam and Eve, God said to the Serpent: “And I shall put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He will bruise you in the head and you will bruise him in the heel.” (Genesis 3:15) Since then Satan the Devil and those disobedient angels who have become demons have unitedly fought against God’s stated purpose.
2. (a) By what means were devilish attempts made to destroy the newly created “chosen race”? (b) What did Peter write in warning against the invasion by corruptive elements?
2 After the spiritual “Israel of God” was founded on its twelve apostolic foundations on the festival day of Pentecost of 33 C.E., there were devilish attempts made on earth to destroy this newly created “chosen race,” this “royal priesthood,” this “holy nation.” (1 Peter 2:9) First, violent persecution was used, but failed. (Acts 7:59 through 8:4; 9:1-5, 21; 11:19) Then the corrupting of spiritual Israel in its teachings and way of life was attempted, and it wrought great havoc. The apostle Peter, writing to upholders of the Christian faith about the year 64 C.E., forewarned the first-century Christians of this coming invasion of spiritual corruption, saying:
“Prophecy was at no time brought by man’s will, but men spoke from God as they were borne along by holy spirit. However, there also came to be false prophets among the people, as there will also be false teachers among you. These very ones will quietly bring in destructive sects and will disown even the owner that bought them, bringing speedy destruction upon themselves. Furthermore, many will follow their acts of loose conduct, and on account of these the way of the truth will be spoken of abusively. Also, with covetousness they will exploit you with counterfeit words. But as for them, the judgment from of old is not moving slowly, and the destruction of them is not slumbering.”—2 Peter 1:21 through 2:3; see also Jude 4.
3. (a) How did Paul warn against corrupters of the congregation? (b) Who is the “man of lawlessness,” and when was this one revealed?
3 Likewise, the apostle Paul, when on his last journey to Jerusalem, warned the elders of the Christian congregation: “I know that after my going away oppressive wolves will enter in among you and will not treat the flock with tenderness, and from among you yourselves men will rise and speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves.” (Acts 20:29, 30) Also, in a letter written earlier to the congregation in Thessalonica, Macedonia, he gave a warning of the breaking out of a religious rebellion in the congregation and of the revealing of the “man of lawlessness,” “the son of destruction.” Paul warned that “the mystery of this lawlessness is already at work.” This “lawless one” was to be a composite person, the clergy class of Christendom. (2 Thessalonians 2:3-9) This composite “man of lawlessness” was revealed in the fourth century C.E., when the Roman emperor, Constantine the Great, dealt with corrupt “bishops” and made their religion the state religion for the Roman Empire. Constantine set up an official clergy class. Thus Christendom came to be.
4. During the centuries since her founding, what record has Christendom’s clergy made for itself, and yet what does Christendom claim to be?
4 For the next sixteen centuries, down into this twentieth century, what kind of record has Christendom made for herself? A record of her clergymen involving themselves in politics, introducing more and more pagan teachings into their religious faith, accumulating wealth and power for themselves, oppressing their religious flocks, fomenting religious wars, cruel crusades and persecutions, establishing hundreds of confusing sects, blessing the armies of so-called “Christian” nations that were at war with one another, corrupting the morals of their church members, hiding God’s “eternal purpose” and really working against it, just like the earthly, visible “seed” of the Great Serpent. There was no real Christian unity within her. There were enormous stains of bloodguilt on her religious skirts. No cultivating of the fruits of God’s holy spirit within her, especially brotherly love! Rather, the “works of the flesh” abounded in her. (John 13:34, 35; Galatians 5:19-24) And yet, in spite of the condemning Bible evidence against her, she claimed to be the “Israel of God.”
5. Despite misrepresentation by Christendom, what has God been doing according to his “eternal purpose”?
5 Did all this misrepresenting of God and of his spiritual Israel block Him from successfully carrying out His “eternal purpose”? Not for a minute! He had foreseen all of this and had foretold it in his written Word, the Holy Bible. His new covenant with spiritual Israel continued in force, and, without doubt, he kept on selecting and preparing spiritual Israelites for a share with the Messiah Jesus in the promised heavenly kingdom.
6. Into what condition would the last ones of the 144,000 on earth be brought?
6 Since the number of spiritual Israelites who are sealed for joint heirship with the Messiah in the heavenly kingdom is limited to 144,000, according to Revelation 7:4-8; 14:1-3, the time must come when the last ones needed to complete the full number of the Kingdom class would be found here on earth. Instead of being religiously divided like the religious sects of Christendom, they would be gathered together into a spiritual unity in spite of race, color, nationality or tribal ties. As they are no part of this world, they would be harvested out from this world.—John 17:14-23.
7. To what did Jesus liken that gathering work, and where did he locate it?
7 The Lord Jesus, when explaining to his apostles the mysteries or “sacred secrets of the kingdom,” spoke of this final gathering of these “sons of the kingdom” as being a “harvest.” He indicated when this spiritual “harvest” would take place, when he said:
“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. Let him that has ears listen.”—Matthew 13:11, 39-43.
8. Was this spiritual “harvest” the only thing to happen during the “conclusion of the system of things,” and in reply to what question did Jesus furnish the answer?
8 At that “conclusion of the system of things” other things were foretold to happen besides this harvesting of the “sons of the kingdom.” (Matthew 24:31) All these other things together with the spiritual harvest would be earmarks to identify the time in which we are living, that it is the foretold “conclusion of the system of things.” The Messiah Jesus, the prophet like Moses, enumerated these things in answer to the question of his apostles directly after he had foretold the destruction of the temple of Jerusalem. They asked him: “When will these things be, and what will be the sign of your presence [Greek: parousia] and of the conclusion of the system of things?”—Matthew 23:37 through 24:3.
9. What did Jesus predict for then, and when did Jerusalem’s “time of the end” begin and conclude?
9 In the account in Matthew 24:4-22 we can read how, in answer, Jesus predicted again the destruction of Jerusalem, also the wars, famines, earthquakes, persecution upon his faithful disciples, increasing lawlessness and cooling off of love, preaching activity by his disciples, and their flight from Judea and Jerusalem after seeing the holy place desecrated by the “disgusting thing that causes desolation.” This was to occur within “this generation” of which he and his apostles were a part. This meant that Jerusalem and the system of things based upon it as a national religious center were in their “time of the end.” That “time of the end” began in the year 29 C.E., when John the Baptizer began preaching, “Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near,” and then baptized Jesus, and it ended in the year 70 C.E. with the desolating of Jerusalem and its temple and the disappearance of the Aaronic priesthood. Jewry and Judaism have never been the same since.
THE SIGN OF THE “TIME OF THE END”
10. In his prophecy, how did Jesus use first-century Jerusalem, so that his prophecy applies today?
10 However, Jesus spoke of many things to happen after Jerusalem was destroyed, adding: “And Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations, until the appointed times of the nations are fulfilled.” (Luke 21:20-24) It is evident, after careful study of Jesus’ complete prophecy, as found in Matthew, chapters twenty-four and twenty-five, Mark, chapter thirteen, and Luke, chapter twenty-one, that Jesus was also using first-century Jerusalem as a prophetic picture of its modern-day counterpart, Christendom, and the system of things that obtained among the Jews scattered world wide as a picture of the present-day worldwide system of things, dominated by Christendom. So Jesus’ prophecy on the “conclusion of the system of things” applies also today, for its complete fulfillment. Why do we say “today”? Do we mean that we today are living in the foretold “conclusion of the system of things”? Yes!
11. In what period of time does this world find itself, this corresponding with what previous similar periods?
11 The world today is living in its “time of the end.” Let us remember how, when that “ancient world,” the “world of ungodly people,” “the world of that time,” of Noah’s time, was deluged with a global flood, its “time of the end” began one hundred and twenty years before the watery cataclysm of 2370 B.C.E. (2 Peter 2:5; 3:6; Genesis 6:1-3; Matthew 24:37-39) Before the destruction of Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E. by the Babylonians, God spoke to the last Davidic king on the throne of Jerusalem, Zedekiah, and referred to the “time of the error of the end.” Jerusalem’s “time of the end” was then forty years long, beginning when God raised up Jeremiah to be his prophet in the thirteenth year of the reign of Josiah. (Ezekiel 21:25; Jeremiah 1:1, 2; Ezekiel 4:6, 7) Jerusalem of the first century C.E. also had its “time of the end,” of forty-one years (29-70 C.E.)—Luke 19:41-44; 1 Thessalonians 2:16.
12. Jehovah used what prophet to mention the “time of the end,” and what, since 1914 C.E., shows we are in that period?
12 Many years after the first destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, God’s angel spoke to the prophet Daniel about the “time of the end” that was to come upon the worldwide system of things. (Daniel 11:35 through 12:4) We have been in that “time of the end” since the year 1914 C.E. We say this, not just because in that year World War I burst forth and introduced an age of violence and war potential that threatens the wiping out of the entire human race. It is true also that since that momentous year Jesus’ prophecy concerning the “sign” of the conclusion of the system of things has been undergoing a complete fulfillment. And since this “conclusion of the system of things” will culminate in what Jesus called “great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again,” it means that we are nearing the complete end of this system of things, and with it the destruction of a “world of ungodly people.”—Matthew 24:21.
13. (a) How does Matthew 24:14 show that Christ’s “presence” was to be in connection with God’s kingdom? (b) Since Christ gave no date, what problem arises?
13 Yet, the reason why the year 1914 C.E. is to be fixed upon is that in that year the “presence” (parousia) of the Lord Jesus in Messianic kingdom authority began. That his invisible “presence” was true in this respect is indicated by a particular thing that he said in answering the apostles’ question about the “sign of your presence.” It was this, as recorded in Matthew 24:14: “And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” In answering his apostles, Jesus gave no date, and yet the unfolding of the “sign” from the year 1914 forward till now seals that year as the time of the birth of God’s Messianic kingdom in the hands of his Son Jesus Christ in the heavens. But there is another way of arriving at that date to verify that it is the foreordained time for the Kingdom’s birth with Christ’s “presence” in it. What is that other way of verifying 1914?
14. When did the Gentile Times mentioned by Jesus begin, and past what event were they to continue?
14 In his prophecy as to “When will these things be?” he foretold the impending destruction of Jerusalem and added: “And Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations, until the appointed times of the nations are fulfilled.” (Luke 21:20-24) Those “appointed times of the [non-Jewish, Gentile] nations” began back in 607 B.C.E. when the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and overthrew the reigning descendant of King David, the heir of the divine covenant for an everlasting kingdom. These Gentile Times, as they are often called, continued on down to Jesus’ day and were to continue on after the second destruction of the holy city. It is a fact that after seventy years of desolation of Jerusalem and the land of Judah a faithful remnant of the Jews returned from exile in the land of Babylon and rebuilt Jerusalem and other cities in the long-desolated land. But that did not mean that Jerusalem had ceased to be trampled on by the Gentile nations, first by the Babylonians and next by the Medo-Persians who conquered Babylon.
15. (a) Why did the Gentile Times continue on after Jerusalem was rebuilt in 537 B.C.E.? (b) Why did those Times continue on after Jesus’ trial before Pontius Pilate?
15 Why not? Because, with the rebuilding of Jerusalem from 537 B.C.E. forward, the throne and Messianic kingdom of the royal line of David were not restored to Jerusalem. Jerusalem was now in a province of the Medo-Persian Empire and was under the domination of Darius the Mede and Cyrus the Great, the Persian. So what Jerusalem had stood for since its capture by King David in the year 1070 B.C.E. was still trampled on, namely, Jerusalem’s rank as capital of the Messianic kingdom of the sons and successors of King David. The Maccabean kingdom of Levite rulers (104-63 and 40-37 B.C.E.) did not alter that fact. Then, when Jesus the “son of David” came and presented himself as the one anointed with God’s spirit, the majority of the Jewish religious leaders and their followers did not want him as their Messiah and King. They cried out to the Roman Governor Pontius Pilate: “We have no king but Caesar.” (John 19:15) So onward the Gentile Times marched, and the right to Messianic kingship was trampled on still further.
16, 17. (a) Because of fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy, we say that the Gentile Times were fulfilled when? (b) To what ancient king did God reveal the time length, and how had God used this king?
16 However, Jesus said: “Until the appointed times of the nations are fulfilled.” How long after Babylon overturned the throne of King David at Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E. were those times of Gentile interference with God’s Messianic kingdom to continue?
17 Now, of course, after seeing what has happened in fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy since World War I broke out, we can confidently answer, Until the fulfillment of the Gentile Times in 1914 C.E. Yes, but, more than that, in the days of King Nebuchadnezzar, who destroyed Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E., God revealed that he had marked off how long those Gentile Times as then beginning would run without interference from the Messianic kingdom of God. God indicated that it would be for seven symbolic “times.” The dream in which God revealed this time period to Nebuchadnezzar was interpreted by the prophet Daniel. (Daniel 4:16, 23, 25, 32) God used Nebuchadnezzar like a woodcutter to chop down the earthly expression of God’s kingdom at Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E. The stump of that symbolic “tree” was to be banded and not allowed to sprout and produce a new tree until after the end of “seven times.”
18. (a) During those Gentile Times the kingdom rule that should have been exercised by David’s royal house was exercised by whom, and in what kind of way? (b) How was restoration of Messianic rule pictured?
18 In the meantime, during those “seven times,” the Gentile world rulers would exercise the rulership that really belonged to the royal line of King David due to God’s covenant with him for an everlasting kingdom. But those Gentile rulers wielded that power of rulership in a very untheocratic way, in an anti-Messianic way, as with an unreasonableness like that displayed by Nebuchadnezzar during his seven years of madness. But just as a sane Nebuchadnezzar was restored to rulership at the end of those seven years, so the Messianic feature of God’s kingdom was to be restored at the close of the “seven times” of Gentile world domination. Then the royal stump was to be unbanded, and from its roots a new tree of rulership was to grow up.—Daniel 4:1-37.
19. (a) The Gentile Times numbering seven, what would be the length of each “time”? (b) About what time of the year did those Times begin, and about what time of year end?
19 Now if we measure back from 1914 C.E. to 607 B.C.E., it amounts to 2,520 years. If, next, we take the number of the “times,” seven, and divide it into 2,520 years, it results in 360 years. That is the length of a prophetic “time” in the Holy Scriptures. (Revelation 12:6, 14; compare Revelation 11:2, 3.) The seven literal years of Nebuchadnezzar’s madness illustrated those “seven times” of 2,520 years, a year being represented by each day of a prophetic “time” of 360 days. (Ezekiel 4:6; Numbers 14:34) The symbolic “seven times” began when the armies of Babylon left Jerusalem and the land of Judah a desolation, with no governor to replace the murdered Governor Gedaliah in the land, about the middle of the lunar month of Tishri. So they would end about that time of the year in 1914 C.E., or about October 4/5, 1914.
20. What would be meant when the reverse took place in 1914 C.E. of what occurred in 607 B.C.E.?
20 At this latter time the reverse was to occur of what occurred in Tishri of 607 B.C.E., when the Gentile Times started. The land of Judah was left a desolate waste without a temple at Jerusalem, without “Jehovah’s throne” there with an anointed descendant of King David seated thereon. (1 Chronicles 29:23) This meant that in early autumn of 1914 C.E. the trampling by the Gentile nations on the Messianic kingship was to cease and the Messianic kingdom was to be born, not at earthly Jerusalem, but up in heaven where the Son and Lord of King David now sat at the right hand of Jehovah God. (Psalm 110:1, 2) Then it was that the anointed one came “who has the legal right” and Jehovah God gave it to him.—Ezekiel 21:25-27; Daniel 7:13, 14.
21. How was the birth of God’s Messianic kingdom in heaven pictured, and what immediately followed?
21 World War I was already more than two months in progress when that marvelous event took place in the invisible heavens. In Revelation 12:1-5 that newborn Messianic kingdom is pictured as a male child to which God’s heavenly “woman” gave birth and which was caught up to God’s throne to share rulership with Him. So this majestic feature of God’s “eternal purpose” triumphed, but against superhuman opposition. On this we read:
“And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels battled with the dragon, and the dragon and its angels battled but it did not prevail, neither was a place found for them any longer in heaven. So down the great dragon was hurled, the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth; he was hurled down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“‘Now have come to pass the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ, because the accuser of our brothers has been hurled down, who accuses them day and night before our God! And they conquered him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their witnessing, and they did not love their souls even in the face of death. On this account be glad, you heavens and you who reside in them! Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.’
“Now when the dragon saw that it was hurled down to the earth, it persecuted the woman that gave birth to the male child. . . . And the dragon grew wrathful at the woman, and went off to wage war with the remaining ones of her seed, who observe the commandments of God and have the work of bearing witness to Jesus.”—Revelation 12:7-17.
22. (a) Michael’s hurling of Satan and his demons out of heaven indicates what as to his identity? (b) How did Jesus foretell the persecutions that come upon the “remaining ones of [the woman’s seed”?
22 Yes, the archangel Michael makes his appearance again in heaven, and, as the “seed” of God’s “woman” who is destined to bruise the Serpent in the head, he wins the battle and hurls the original Serpent and his demon angels down to the earth. In his anger the Great Serpent persecutes the “woman” by persecuting the “remaining ones of her seed” who found themselves on earth during and since World War I. In his prophecy Jesus foretold such persecution of his anointed followers as due to occur during the “conclusion of the system of things.” He said to his disciples:
“Then people will deliver you up to tribulation and will kill you, and you will be objects of hatred by all the nations on account of my name. . . . But he that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved.”—Matthew 24:9-13.
23. (a) The anointed remnant have identified themselves by obeying what command given through Jesus? (b) As early as when were they publishing the year for the Gentile Times to end?
23 So the proof is at hand, from the Bible and from world history, that the “time of the end” began in early autumn of 1914. In full harmony with this fact, the persecution goes on of the anointed remnant, who “observe the commandments of God and have the work of bearing witness to Jesus.” These are the ones who observe God’s commandment given in Jesus’ prophecy: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations.” (Matthew 24:14) This remnant of anointed ones have identified themselves on the pages of history since 1914 C.E. Before this year members of this anointed remnant had been earnestly studying God’s Word apart from Christendom. They put the Holy Bible ahead of man-made religious traditions. As early as 1876 they were publishing that the Gentile Times of 2,520 years would terminate in the year 1914. Events that have taken place from that year onward prove they were not wrong.
24. (a) During World War I, why did the remnant become an object of international hatred? (b) What postwar work did they undertake, and what name did they seek to publicize?
24 During World War I they became an object of hatred by all the nations and suffered severe persecution because they favored God’s Messianic kingdom and tried to keep free from bloodguilt with which Christendom was staining herself. In 1919, the first postwar year, they discerned their Christian obligation to proclaim as never before God’s Messianic kingdom, that had been set up in the heavens at the close of the Gentile Times in 1914. (Matthew 24:14) In the year 1925 their eyes of spiritual understanding were opened to see that the time had come for God to make a name for himself. (2 Samuel 7:23; Jeremiah 32:20; Isaiah 63:14; see The Watch Tower under date of August 1, 1925, page 226, column 2, paragraph 4; also September 15, 1925, page 280, paragraphs 41-43.) So now they bent themselves to the work of making known world wide the Bible name of the one living and true God and also His “eternal purpose that he formed in connection with the Christ, Jesus our Lord.”—Ephesians 3:11.
25. From what did the anointed remnant need to distinguish themselves, and so what did they embrace in 1931 C.E.?
25 So in the year 1931, without presumptuousness but with full justification for the step now taken, they embraced a name that would distinguish them from Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion, out of which they had come in obedience to God’s command in Revelation 18:4. Yes, a name that would distinguish them even from Christendom with her hundreds of disunited sects and her worldliness and enormous bloodguilt. Indeed, a name that was based on Scripture (Isaiah 43:10, 12) and that would set their Christian work clearly before them. It was the name that has since become known world wide, a name both respected and hated, that is, Jehovah’s witnesses. To this name they live up!
A “GREAT CROWD” TO SURVIVE HAR–MAGEDON
26. From how long ago has God been taking out a “people for his name,” and is He lacking such a people today?
26 Was all of this a mere short-lived burst of religious fervor? Was it a mere irrelevant accident? Or was this according to the progressive purpose of God? Look at the outcome! Something purposely started back there at Jerusalem on that historic day of Pentecost of 33 C.E. when God poured out his holy spirit and the spirit-filled apostle Peter stood up and quoted the prophecy of Joel 2:28-32 and said to thousands of Jews: “And everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.” There God began forming a “people for his name,” a spiritual Israel. (Acts 2:1-21; 15:14) A further step was taken at the end of the ‘seventieth week of years’ in 36 C.E., when God sent the apostle Peter to preach to uncircumcised Gentiles and poured out his holy spirit upon these believing non-Jews. Thus God enlarged the “people for his name” by baptizing and anointing Gentiles with holy spirit and adding them to his spiritual Israel. (Acts 10:1 through 11:18; 15:7-11) That occurred back there in the first century. And what about today, in this twentieth century? The facts of unassailable history prove that God has succeeded in still having a “people for his name”!
27. So what evidence have we today that God has stuck to his purpose in this regard, and blessings from this are now going to whom?
27 The presence today on earth of the final remnant of the spiritual “seed” of Abraham testifies that God is completing the full number of 144,000 spiritual Israelites under their Head, Jesus Christ. This despite all opposition from devils and men! His “eternal purpose that he formed in connection with the Christ” is triumphing—now! He is as unchangeably determined as ever to see his purpose through to its victorious realization in full in the near future. O what good this will mean for man! A “great crowd” of people who appreciate this fact is increasing world wide. Already they are receiving blessings through God’s remnant of the spiritual “seed” of Abraham.
28. Who is principally the “seed” of Abraham, but what shows whether the blessing is limited to only those who are members of the “seed”?
28 The ancient patriarch Abraham pictured Jehovah God. Jehovah himself is the Greater Abraham. His “seed” is principally his once-sacrificed Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Through his Principal One of the “seed” even all the members of spiritual Israel have been blessed. But does the blessing stop with them? No! God’s sworn promise to ancient Abraham was: “By means of your seed all nations of the earth will certainly bless themselves.” (Genesis 22:18; Acts 3:22-26) This “seed” includes more than Jesus Christ, for Abraham’s seed was to be like the stars and the sands of the seashore—innumerable. Hence, the “seed” includes all spiritual Israel. By means of this entire “seed” others will procure a blessing, yes, “all nations of the earth” outside the “seed,” outside spiritual Israel. So all mankind will be blessed by the “seed” of the Greater Abraham, Jehovah God, the heavenly Father of the spiritual “seed.” With this end in view there will be a resurrection of the dead under the Messianic kingdom of the “seed.”—Acts 24:15.
29, 30. (a) By whom were those now receiving blessings through the remnant of the “seed” foreshadowed in pre-Christian times? (b) How did Jesus refer to survivors of the coming “great tribulation”?
29 And who today of all nations are the ones who are receiving blessings through or in association with the “remnant” of the Abrahamic “seed”? According to God’s loving purpose, these were foreshadowed in olden time. By whom?
30 When, back in 1513 B.C.E., the liberated Israelites left Egypt after the first Passover night and thereafter passed through the Red Sea to safety on the shores of the Sinaitic Peninsula, there was a “vast mixed company” of non-Israelites that went along with them. (Exodus 12:38; Numbers 11:4) When, in 607 B.C.E., the Babylonian armies destroyed Jerusalem for the first time, there were the Ethiopian eunuch, Ebed-melech, and the non-Israelite Rechabites who survived the destruction of the holy city and its temple. (Jeremiah 35:1-19; 38:7-12; 39:16-18) And, on Nisan 11 of 33 C.E., when Jesus foretold the destruction that was to come upon Jerusalem in the year 70 C.E. and that was a prophetic type of the destruction of Christendom in our generation, he said:
“Then there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again. In fact, unless those days were cut short, no flesh would be saved; but on account of the chosen ones those days will be cut short.”—Matthew 24:21, 22; Mark 13:19, 20.
31. What vision was the apostle John given of the “great crowd” that survives the “tribulation” with the spiritual remnant?
31 Besides the remnant of spiritual Israel, or “chosen ones,” there will be survivors of that approaching “great tribulation.” About the year 96 C.E., the aged apostle John was given a vision of these who go through the “great tribulation” in company with the “remnant” of spiritual Israel. Immediately after having a vision of the spiritual sealing of the 144,000 faithful members of spiritual Israel, John proceeds to say:
“After these things I saw, and, look! a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes; and there were palm branches in their hands. And they keep on crying with a loud voice, saying: ‘Salvation we owe to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb.’
“And in response one of the elders said to me: ‘These who are dressed in the white robes, who are they and where did they come from?’ So right away I said to him: ‘My lord, you are the one that knows.’ And he said to me: ‘These are the ones that come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. That is why they are before the throne of God; and they are rendering him sacred service day and night in his temple; and the One seated on the throne will spread his tent over them. They will hunger no more nor thirst anymore, neither will the sun beat down upon them nor any scorching heat, because the Lamb, who is in the midst of the throne, will shepherd them, and will guide them to fountains of waters of life. And God will wipe out every tear from their eyes.”—Revelation 7:9, 10, 13-17.
32. (a) When was the explanation that fits the facts of our day first published regarding this vision? (b) Why is it to be expected that those of this “great crowd” will not go to heaven and reign with the Lamb of God?
32 The explanation of the meaning of this vision that fits the facts of the day was published first in the year 1935 C.E., beginning with the Washington (D.C.) assembly of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses on May 31, 1935. The “great crowd” seen in the vision do not expect to go to heaven and to reign on the heavenly Mount Zion with the 144,000 spiritual Israelites. For example, in Revelation 14:1-3 we read that the only ones that stand with the Lamb of God upon the heavenly Mount Zion are the 144,000 spiritual Israelites. The “great crowd” are not seen standing there, and for a good reason. Only of the 144,000 is it said: “These were bought from among mankind as firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.” (Revelation 14:4, 5; James 1:18) Regarding the 144,000 who are “bought from among mankind,” we read these words addressed to the Lamb of God:
“You were slaughtered and with your blood you bought persons for God out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and you made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God, and they are to rule as kings over the earth.”—Revelation 5:9, 10.
33. In whom, then, is the purpose of God’s new covenant realized?
33 So the purpose of God’s “new covenant” with spiritual Israel is realized in those 144,000, because the new covenant was meant to produce a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation,” a thing that the old Mosaic Law covenant did not produce. (Exodus 19:5, 6) The “great crowd” of Revelation 7:9-17 are not taken into that new covenant, but today they do associate with the “remnant” of spiritual Israelites who are in the new covenant.
34. Where do those of the “great crowd” expect to enjoy everlasting life, and what acknowledgment do they make of God and of his Lamb?
34 So the “great crowd” does not expect to go to heaven even after surviving the “great tribulation.” Those of the “great crowd” expect the Lamb of God to shepherd them here on earth after the “great tribulation” and guide them to everlasting life in a Paradise earth. They acknowledge the enthroned God of heaven as the Universal Sovereign over all creation. They acknowledge the Messiah Jesus as “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world” and admit that they owe their salvation to God through his once “slaughtered” Lamb and, by faith and obedience, “they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
35. (a) Where in God’s “temple” do they serve Him continually, and why? (b) How do they express loyalty to God’s High Priest, and how did Jesus picture them in a parable?
35 They acknowledge only the Sovereign Lord Jehovah as their God. This explains why they are seen “rendering him sacred service day and night in his temple,” in the earthly courtyards of his spiritual temple, the Most Holy of which temple is in the holy heavens. (Hebrews 9:24) So the “great crowd” is now in contact with the remnant of the 144,000 spiritual Israelites who are prospective royal priests produced by the new covenant. In expression of their loyalty to the royal High Priest Jesus Christ, those of the “great crowd” are loyal to his spiritual brothers who are yet on earth. They do all the good that they can to Christ’s spiritual brothers, even joining them in preaching “this good news of the kingdom” world wide. These loyal ones are the “sheep” class whom Jesus described in his parable, saying:
“Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who have been blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world. For I became hungry and you gave me something to eat; I got thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you received me hospitably; naked, and you clothed me. I fell sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous ones will answer him with the words, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty, and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and receive you hospitably, or naked, and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to you?’ And in reply the king will say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, To the extent that you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
36. When will the goat class of the parable be ‘cut off,’ and why?
36 Those who do not act like the “sheep” toward the spiritual brothers of the now reigning King Jesus Christ will be cut off in the oncoming “great tribulation,” for they are not in favor of the “seed” of God’s heavenly “woman” but are in favor of the “seed” of the “original serpent,” Satan the Devil. (Genesis 3:15; Revelation 12:9, 17) They yield to the influence and guidance of the “original serpent, . . . who is misleading the entire inhabited earth,” and so they will be found on the side of the “seed” of the Serpent when the “great tribulation” breaks out shortly.
37. In what period is this worldly system now since 1914, and so what is this generation facing, according to Daniel 12:1?
37 Since the birth of God’s Messianic kingdom in the heavens in the year 1914, this worldly system of things has been in its “time of the end.” This “time of the end” will soon culminate in the “great tribulation,” as foretold by Jesus Christ. This unparalleled tribulation was foretold by the prophet Daniel long before Jehovah God sent his firstborn heavenly Son to earth to be called Jesus. Hence, God’s angel worded the prophecy to Daniel in this way:
“And during that time Michael will stand up, the great prince who is standing in behalf of the sons of your people. And there will certainly occur a time of distress such as has not been made to occur since there came to be a nation until that time.”—Daniel 12:1; compare Matthew 24:21.
This generation of mankind is now facing that “time of distress.”
38. (a) What practicers of religion will survive destruction of Babylon the Great? (b) To settle what issue must the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” be fought?
38 During that “time of distress,” that “great tribulation,” antireligious political forces will destroy modern Babylon the Great, that is to say, the world empire of false religion that began with ancient Babylon. (Genesis 10:8-12; Revelation 17:1 through 18:24) Under God’s protection members of the “remnant” of spiritual Israel and of the “great crowd” will survive that destruction as practicers of the true religion. (James 1:27) Immediately after that failure on the part of the antireligious forces to wipe out the clean and undefiled “form of worship,” the pure religion, from the earth, there will come the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at the place that is symbolically called Har–Magedon. (Revelation 16:14, 16) Why? Because the universal issue of Jehovah’s creation-wide sovereignty, which the remnant and the “great crowd” uphold, must yet be settled. This settling of the issue is all part of God’s “eternal purpose that he formed in connection with the Christ, Jesus our Lord,” who is the principal one in God’s promised “seed.”
39, 40. (a) Where will military confrontation over the issue take place, and whom do we see gathering there? (b) Who will prove to be superior there by victory?
39 The national sovereignties, upon which political governments of today insist, clash with the Creator’s Universal Sovereignty. The military confrontation over this paramount issue draws closer as this “time of the end” runs out. Do we, in the light of the Revelation’s foreviews of coming events, see the earthly kings and political rulers and their armies and backers being gathered to the Har–Magedon battlefield for fighting it out to a finish? Yes.
40 However, we also see by faith the heavenly King of kings, Jesus Christ, and his angelic armies speeding to that same battlefield, as if riding on white war horses. We can take God’s word for it; the war at Har–Magedon will culminate in victory for the forces of God the Almighty, and with destruction for all the man-made political systems and their officeholders, armies and patriotic supporters. The once Lamblike Jesus Christ will prove himself to be the King of kings, for Jehovah God will be at his right hand as a Fighter beside his King-Priest who is like Melchizedek.—Revelation 17:12-14; 19:11-21; Psalm 110:4, 5.
41. (a) After Har–Magedon, why will the “original serpent” be unable to war further against the remnant and the “great crowd”? (b) In what sense will now come the supreme moment for the “seed” of God’s “woman”?
41 That is the grand climax of the “woe for the earth and for the sea” into which the “original serpent” and his demon angels, since their being ousted from heaven, lead all deceived mankind! (Revelation 12:7-12) With all his earthly “seed” destroyed at Har–Magedon, the “original serpent” will be unable to wage further war against the “remaining ones of [the woman’s] seed” and the “great crowd” of fellow worshipers of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah. (Revelation 12:13, 17) Are the “original serpent” and his invisible demonic “seed” to be left on the loose in the vicinity of our earth down to which they have been ousted from heaven? No! For now comes the supreme moment for Jesus Christ the heavenly “seed” of God’s “woman,” who once was bruised at the heel by that murder-minded Serpent! The tables are turned, and now the “seed” of God’s heavenly “woman” must bruise the Serpent “in the head,” rendering him and his demonic “seed” as if they had not ever been! How?
42. (a) How, then, are the Serpent and his “seed” bruised? (b) What change then takes place as to heavenly ruling powers and earthly society?
42 By removing the Serpent and his demons from the neighborhood of the earth and hurling them into the “abyss” and sealing them up there, bound as with chains, for the next thousand years. Revelation 20:1-3 pictures this, not as a part of the war at Har–Magedon, but as a follow-up of that war. (Genesis 3:15; Romans 16:20; Luke 10:18-20) Thus the age-old Satanic “heavens” over earthly human society will be forever wiped out, and God’s Messianic “new heavens” will spread themselves in blessing over the new earthly human society. O the triumphant realization then of the words of the apostle Peter, who, after describing the destruction of the old symbolic heavens and earth, encourages all true worshipers of Jehovah God by saying: “There are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.”—2 Peter 3:7-13; Revelation 20:11; 21:1; Isaiah 65:17.