The Promise of a Spiritual Paradise
1. (a) What shows that, even when he was facing death, Jesus had Paradise in mind for mankind? (b) Years later, to the Ephesus congregation, what did Jesus say about Paradise? (c) Were both of these references to the same paradise?
THE Messianic Servant of Jehovah God plays a very important role in our gaining a paradise. Even on that sad day nineteen hundred years ago, when Jesus Christ was being counted in with the transgressors in fulfillment of Isaiah 53:12, he had Paradise in mind for mankind. When one of the two robbers, who were impaled on each side of him, said to him, “Jesus, remember me when you get into your kingdom,” he answered: “Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43; Mark 15:25-27) Sixty-three years later, when speaking to the Christian congregation in Ephesus, Asia Minor, the resurrected Jesus said: “To him that conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” (Revelation 2:7) Since these promises were made to different kinds of persons, the first to a non-Christian and the second to a victorious Christian, two different paradises must here be meant, the first an earthly one, the second a heavenly one. Jehovah’s “Servant” has to do with both.
2. What kind of paradise, foretold by Isaiah, can be enjoyed today, without one’s experiencing physical death and resurrection?
2 Each of those paradises was future at the time of Jesus’ mention of them. Also, they were to be enjoyed only after the death of the individual and his resurrection from the dead in God’s due time. But there is a paradise that is being enjoyed by those who are now living on the earth. Since mankind’s earthly environment is more and more being polluted and the surface of the earth is no paradise today, the paradise at present being enjoyed on earth by true Christian worshipers of Jehovah must be a figurative one, a spiritual paradise. The prophecy of Isaiah with reference to Jehovah’s Messianic Servant foretold the establishment of this spiritual paradise for faithful worshipers of Jehovah.
3. (a) Who that was foretold by Isaiah was to have an important role in producing the spiritual paradise on earth? (b) As a ‘son of God,’ what was his relationship to the heavenly organization as a whole?
3 According to Isaiah’s prophecy, the Messianic Servant has to do with the bringing of the spiritual paradise on earth. Before performing his role on earth as prophesied in the fifty-third chapter of Isaiah, he was a member of Jehovah’s heavenly organization of faithful “sons of God.” (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; Daniel 3:25) That heavenly spirit organization acts the role of a “wife” who is married to Jehovah the Creator, just as the ancient nation of Israel, when taken into the Law covenant with him through the mediator Moses, was as married to Jehovah and was pictured as an earthly wife of His. So He plays the role of Husband in this heavenly union. (Isaiah 54:5; 50:1; Jeremiah 31:31-34) Since the heavenly “sons of God” were looked upon as being the children of God’s heavenly organization because of being members of it, the heavenly organization was viewed as their mother, the wife of their heavenly Father. So the Servant mentioned in Isaiah 53:11 is one of her sons.
4. (a) How did Jehovah’s motherly organization in heaven bring forth the promised Messiah? (b) What must have been the reaction in heaven when Jesus was anointed, and later when he was raised from the dead?
4 Jehovah selected his principal heavenly son to serve as the Messianic Servant on earth. (Isaiah 52:13; 53:11) So Jehovah’s motherly organization in heaven furnished this one to be the prime vindicator of her Husband’s universal sovereignty. After this one when on earth was baptized in the Jordan River at the hands of John the Baptist, her Husband, Jehovah, poured out His holy spirit upon the baptized Jesus, making him the anointed one, the Christ. In this manner the promised Messiah or Christ was brought forth. What an unspeakable joy that must have been to the heavenly Mother as well as to her Husband! If the angelic sons of God rejoiced at the birth of the babe Jesus in Bethlehem-Judah, they must have had still more joy when he thus became the promised Christ, the Messianic Servant of their God Jehovah. (Luke 2:10, 13, 14; Matthew 3:13-17; John 16:21) When his life was taken away from the earth and he was resurrected from the dead, the motherly organization in heaven received him back as the “firstborn from the dead” and rejoiced to have him once again among her heavenly sons. (Colossians 1:18; Revelation 1:5, 17, 18) Her joy was foretold!
5, 6. (a) At Isaiah 54:1, what reason was given for joy on the part of this heavenly “woman”? (b) Of how many “sons” was she to become the spiritual mother?
5 “‘Cry out joyfully,’” says Isaiah 54:1, “‘you barren woman that did not give birth! Become cheerful with a joyful outcry and cry shrilly, you that had no childbirth pains, for the sons of the desolated one are more numerous than the sons of the woman with a husbandly owner,’ Jehovah has said.”
6 This inspired scripture is applied by the Christian apostle Paul, not to the Jewish nation after its exile in Babylon, but to Jehovah’s wifely organization in heaven. According to Isaiah’s prophecy, God’s heavenly organization was to have more children than the Messiah Jesus, for whom she had long waited as if in barrenness. She was therefore to become the spiritual mother of the 144,000 associates of the Messiah Jesus. He was to be the Firstborn among these further spiritual sons of hers. Her joy would start when she brought forth or produced the firstborn, the Messiah Jesus, but she would continue on bringing forth all the Kingdom joint heirs of the Messiah Jesus. The apostle Paul was one of these prospective joint heirs of Christ, and he is the one that made the application of Isaiah 54:1 under inspiration.
7-9. In contrasting the Jewish nation with God’s heavenly organization, what application does the apostle Paul make of Isaiah 54:1?
7 Contrasting the Jewish nation that had been married to Jehovah God by the Mosaic Law covenant (but that had rejected Jesus Christ) with God’s heavenly wifely organization, the apostle Paul writes: “For example, it is written that Abraham acquired two sons, one by the servant girl [Hagar the Egyptian] and one by the free woman [Sarah his wife]; but the one [named Ishmael] by the servant girl was actually born in the manner of flesh [before Abraham had become impotent], the other [named Isaac] by the free woman through a promise [from God]. These things stand as a symbolic drama; for these women [Hagar and Sarah] mean two covenants, the one from Mount Sinai [through Moses], which brings forth children for slavery, and which is Hagar [the slave girl]. Now this Hagar means Sinai, a mountain in Arabia, and she corresponds with the Jerusalem today, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.
8 “For it is written [in Isaiah 54:1]: ‘Be glad, you barren woman [the Jerusalem above] who does not give birth; break out and cry aloud, you woman who does not have childbirth pains; for the children of the desolate woman are more numerous than those of her who has the husband.’ Now we, brothers, are children belonging to the promise the same as Isaac was. But just as then the one [Ishmael] born in the manner of flesh began persecuting the one [Isaac] born in the manner of spirit, so also now. Nevertheless, what does the Scripture say? ‘Drive out the servant girl and her son, for by no means shall the son of the servant girl be an heir with the son of the free woman.’ Wherefore, brothers, we are children, not of a servant girl, but of the free woman.
9 “For such freedom Christ set us free.”—Galatians 4:22 through 5:1.
10, 11. (a) How does Isaiah 54:13 show that the “Jerusalem above” would have more spiritual children than just Jesus? (b) To whom did Jesus Christ apply that scripture?
10 That the “Jerusalem above,” of which her Grand Maker Jehovah is the “husbandly owner,” was to have many more spiritual children than the Messiah Jesus, her firstborn, is why in Isaiah 54:13 it is said to her: “And all your sons will be persons taught by Jehovah, and the peace of your sons will be abundant.”
11 Jesus Christ applied that scripture to his own disciples, when he said to the Jews: “It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by Jehovah.’ Everyone that has heard from the Father and has learned comes to me.” (John 6:45) It was the Father’s purpose that Jesus should become “the firstborn among many brothers.” (Romans 8:29) The “Jerusalem above” is the heavenly mother also of all these spiritual brothers of Jesus Christ. With good reason, then, her “husbandly owner,” Jehovah, calls out to her, rather than to the earthly Jerusalem that rejected the Messiah, to “cry out joyfully” and “become cheerful with a joyful outcry” because of finally becoming mother to so many spiritual sons together with the Messiah Jesus.—Isaiah 54:1.
12. With what strong encouragement to these spiritual sons does Isaiah chapter 54 conclude?
12 To these spiritual sons the assurance of divine protection and preservation belongs as expressed in these words to the “Jerusalem above”: “‘Any weapon whatever that will be formed against you will have no success, and any tongue at all that will rise up against you in the judgment you will condemn. This is the hereditary possession of the servants of Jehovah, and their righteousness is from me,’ is the utterance of Jehovah.” With such a strong encouragement the fifty-fourth chapter of Isaiah, addressed to “Jerusalem above,” closes.—Isaiah 54:17.
AN INVITATION TO DRINK AND EAT WHAT IS WORTH WHILE
13. With what appealing invitation does the next chapter of Isaiah begin?
13 In the light of all the good things that are to follow from the fulfillment of that beautiful prophecy, a fitting invitation is called out for all to hear: “Hey there, all you thirsty ones! Come to the water. And the ones that have no money! Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk even without money and without price. Why do you people keep paying out money for what is not bread, and why is your toil for what results in no satisfaction? Listen intently to me, and eat what is good, and let your soul find its exquisite delight in fatness itself. Incline your ear and come to me. Listen, and your soul will keep alive, and I shall readily conclude with you people an indefinitely lasting covenant respecting the loving-kindnesses to David that are faithful. Look! As a witness to the national groups I have given him, as a leader and commander to the national groups.”—Isaiah 55:1-4.
14. (a) From whom does that invitation come? (b) To whom is it directed, and why?
14 Who alone but Jehovah God the Source of all life could issue such a marvelous invitation and promise? It involves his Messianic Servant, whom he gives as a “leader and commander to the national groups.” Those national groups should become interested in the divine invitation. But, first of all, the invitation is directed to Jehovah’s people who are in a covenant with him but who find themselves in unsatisfying circumstances. Why? Because they are toiling and buying and eating and drinking, but continuing to die hopeless. We get the clue to the situation when we recall that the prophet Isaiah foretold the destruction of Jerusalem, the desolating of the land of Judah, and the exile of the Jews in the pagan land of Babylon. The desolation of the land while its native inhabitants were in exile was to last for seventy years, from 607 to 537 before our Common Era.
15. Jehovah had foretold that he would provide release for the Jewish people by means of whom, and why is his role of special interest to us?
15 Babylon, with its false gods and worship, its imperialism and commercialism, offered the exiled Jews nothing. It offered no hope of release with an opportunity to resume the worship of the true and living God in their homeland: “Is this the man [the king of Babylon] that . . . did not open the way homeward even for his prisoners?” (Isaiah 14:16, 17) Who could break the grip of this World Power, Babylon, and let its Jewish prisoners go free, to return to their homeland and the renewed worship of Jehovah at a rebuilt temple in a restored Jerusalem? This God himself could do so, and he had a servant whom he could use to that end. That earthly servant was Cyrus the Persian, whose very name Jehovah foretold long before his birth. (Isaiah 44:28 through 45:6) This ancient Persian conqueror of Babylon was not merely a historic figure but also a prophetic type of Jehovah’s Messianic Servant, whom He would use to overthrow and destroy modern Babylon the Great, namely, the world empire of false religion.
16. Anciently, what were the things that, in a spiritual sense, were like food and drink for the exiled Jews?
16 Water, bread, wine and milk are available on which to feed and refresh oneself, even for those who do not have the money with which to pay for what they eat and drink! So says Jehovah God. Of course, he is not speaking about such things in a literal way. He speaks of what corresponds to these things, to keep a person spiritually alive with that which will result in real life, everlasting life with a real zest for living and a purpose for living. Anciently, the vital thing was the provisions made by Jehovah God for the deliverance of his exiled people from Babylon and for their restoration to their God-given homeland. First in order, there was the message of liberation on which to feed an exile’s hope. Then there was the decree of Jehovah God by means of his earthly servant, upon which decree of liberation action must be taken. Then when the action was taken there would be the return to the homeland and the realization of the glorious divine prophecies in their reoccupied beloved land. The joy to be experienced would be like that from drinking the best of wines.—Psalm 104:15.
17. Who are, in effect, modern-day Babylonians, and on what do they feed?
17 Today, billions of earth’s inhabitants find themselves under religious, moral, intellectual and social oppressions of Babylon the Great, not just in so-called pagandom but equally as much in Christendom. They are paying money for their religion, according to the commercializing of religion by their many sects and cults. Their religions have not separated them from this world, but have encouraged and approved of their being an active part of this world. Their religions have not turned them away from putting their reliance upon men and man-made institutions. Even the people of Christendom have no outlook except to depend further upon men to work out world problems and bring relief. They are, in effect, modern-day Babylonians, and what they feed upon religiously does not really satisfy or bring true relief.
18. (a) By means of what covenant does Jehovah have a people in relationship with him today? (b) Who are the people that stick faithfully to this new covenant?
18 Back in the sixth century B.C.E. those who should not have been the “prisoners” of ancient Babylon were those who were in the Mosaic Law covenant with Jehovah God. If they had lovingly carried out their covenant obligations to Him, they would not have been exiles in heathen Babylonia, far away from their desolated homeland. Today, Jehovah still has a people in relationship with Him by a national covenant. Of this covenant, Jehovah’s Messianic Servant is the Mediator, one greater than the prophet Moses. Theirs is the covenant that replaced the Mosaic Law covenant in the year 33 C.E. It is the new covenant, as foretold in Jeremiah 31:31-34. When setting up the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of his sacrificial death, Jesus Christ spoke of his blood as providing the means to seal and validate that new covenant. (Matthew 26:26-30; Luke 22:19, 20; 1 Corinthians 11:20-26) Obediently Jehovah’s Christian witnesses celebrate this Lord’s Supper each year on its anniversary date. They stick faithfully to Jehovah’s new covenant.
19. By what means did Babylon the Great get Jehovah’s Christian witnesses in her power during the course of World War I, and how did the prospects for them appear?
19 All of Babylon the Great as a world empire of false religion has unceasingly opposed Jehovah’s Christian witnesses. During the course of World War I in 1914-1918 C.E., she really got them in her power by means of her worldly, secular paramours. By means of political, military and judicial authorities Babylon the Great brought upon these worshipers of Jehovah all manner of persecution, including bans upon their religious literature by means of which they studied the Holy Bible. Their organization for openly spreading the good news of the Bible was badly crippled, particularly when members of the governing body of Jehovah’s visible organization were imprisoned under charges that, after the war, were reversed and thrown out of court. The prospects for a change in the situation were very dim, and the worst was awaited with feelings of resignation and submission to Jehovah’s will. Providentially, the official magazine, The Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence, continued to be published semimonthly, for the spiritual upbuilding of those to whom it was available, despite wartime conditions.
20, 21. How did the circumstances of Jehovah’s worshipers on earth make the time after World War I an appropriate one for a modern-day application of Isaiah 55:1, 2?
20 However, suddenly, there came an end to World War I. It did not lead on, as Bible students expected, into world revolution and anarchy or the battle of Armageddon. And the sincere worshipers of Jehovah, who were in the new covenant with him through his Mediator Jesus Christ, found themselves still in the flesh on the earth. But still in captivity to Babylon the Great and her political, military, judicial paramours! An unexpected postwar period opened before them, with possibilities for renewing and carrying forward the proclamation of the good news of God’s Word. Here, now, was a most appropriate time for the God whom they worshiped in spite of all the opposition and oppression by Babylon the Great to do something in their behalf and for His own name’s sake. Here was the due time for the modern equivalent of Isaiah’s life-renewing message to be sent forth:
21 “Hey there, all you thirsty ones! Come to the water. And the ones that have no money! Come, buy [grain] and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk even without money and without price. Why do you people keep paying out money for what is not bread, and why is your toil for what results in no satisfaction? Listen intently to me, and eat what is good, and let your soul find its exquisite delight in fatness itself.”—Isaiah 55:1, 2.
22. What was it that then proved to be like water, bread, wine and milk to Jehovah’s modern-day people?
22 Such a message did come from Jehovah God, through his Messianic Servant, Jesus Christ. It was meant to lift His people out of their depressed, negative state of mind and to infuse life and hope into them. What, then, would be like water, to quench their raging thirst for truth and righteousness? Like bread, to feed and strengthen their heartfelt devotion to God? Like wine, to make their hearts rejoice with health-giving joy? Like milk, to fatten and enrich their state of well-being in relationship with the one living and true God? (Psalm 104:15) It was the Scriptural message of deliverance from Babylon the Great by means of the established Messianic kingdom of God! It was the message of their liberation from the slavish bondage to this world, which is the “friend” of Babylon the Great, in order for them to fight for freedom of worship and to proclaim world wide the good news of God’s kingdom for the blessing of all distressed humanity.
23. How did it prove true that this provision was made available “without money and without price”?
23 The oppressed worshipers of Jehovah God did not have to pay for this message of liberation! They did not have to buy their way out of captivity and bondage to Babylon the Great! The message was offered to them freely to accept, and they must act upon it with courage and conviction! Then it would be like refreshing water, strengthening bread, joy-giving wine and fattening milk. “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”—John 8:32.
24. In the spring of 1919, what evidence of the liberation was there?
24 A concrete symbol of this liberation came in the spring of 1919, the first postwar year, with the release of the members of the governing body of Jehovah’s Christian worshipers from imprisonment in the federal penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A. Shortly afterward the federal charges against these accused Christians were reversed, and later thrown out of court. Thus the members of the governing body of Jehovah’s Christian worshipers were relieved of the false charges of being lawless citizens, dangerous to the security of the country. Now, in appreciation of Christian freedom that comes from Jehovah through Jesus Christ his Servant, a more advanced study of His Holy Scriptures was made to ascertain what was the divine will for His people in this unexpected postwar period.
25. (a) To infuse God’s servants with courage, what was done in 1919? (b) Of what was announcement of the release of the magazine The Golden Age a sign?
25 Bible study left no uncertainty regarding the divine will. It pointed unerringly to the Kingdom work that was ahead for the worshipers of Jehovah that had survived the persecutions and hard times of World War I. So, in order to infuse courage into their hearts, the leading article entitled “Blessed Are the Fearless,” in two parts, appeared in the issues of August 1 and 15, 1919, of The Watch Tower. This theme was the keynote of the General Convention of these worshipers for eight days, September 1-8, at Cedar Point, Ohio. As a sign that there was more spiritual food in store for them and also more and greater work ahead, a thrilling announcement was made to the 6,000 conventioners by the president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society on September 5, 1919. To what effect? That the Society was going to publish another magazine besides The Watch Tower. This new biweekly magazine was to be called “The Golden Age” and would be complementary to the official magazine of Jehovah’s Christian worshipers. It too was meant to announce God’s kingdom.
26. As stated in its first issue, for what reason was The Golden Age published?
26 Showing the then-existing background in front of which this new magazine made its debut on October 1, 1919, the salutation in the opening issue said, in part:
Its purpose is to explain in the light of Divine wisdom the true meaning of the great phenomena of the present day and to prove to thinking minds by evidence incontrovertible and convincing that the time of a greater blessing of mankind is now at hand. Like a voice in the wilderness of confusion, its mission is to announce the incoming of the Golden Age.
There are more sad hearts in the world to-day than at any time of its history. A devastating war has afflicted the nations until they are torn and bleeding to death. Accompanying the war came the great pestilential influenza, claiming double the number of victims that fell as a result of the war. In the past few years, millions have gone down into death and other millions bemoan the loss of their loved ones.
Everywhere the cost of living mounts higher and higher and conditions of real want and famine stare many people in the face. In practically all the trades of the world the laborers are on strike or threatening to strike and thereby stop the wheels of commerce. There is a general unrest everywhere.
The financiers are no less in perplexity. . . .
THE GOLDEN AGE will carry into the homes of the people the desired message which will tend to restore calmness to the disturbed minds and comfort to the saddened hearts. We do not expect to accomplish this by human wisdom, because that has been tried and failed and such wisdom is foolishness in the sight of Jehovah. But we will point the people to the clear and indisputable evidence in the light of present-day events, disclosing the divinely expressed remedy for the reconstruction of human affairs that will bring the desire of all nations, assuring to the people life, liberty and happiness. We invite all order-loving, law-abiding, God-fearing persons to aid in passing this message of comfort on to those who desire to be comforted.
27, 28. To what grand hope did this magazine point, but what must come first?
27 Here, then, was a brand-new magazine pointing fearlessly forward to the restoration of paradise to this earth and the making of it earth wide for the enjoyment of all people of whatever race, color or national extraction. However, before this literal earthly paradise is introduced to mankind by God’s Messianic kingdom, there must be established a spiritual paradise among Jehovah’s Christian worshipers now restored to his favor. This was why, after extending the invitation to partake of God’s life-giving provisions, the fifty-fifth chapter of Isaiah said:
28 “Incline your ear and come to me. Listen, and your soul will keep alive, and I shall readily conclude with you people an indefinitely lasting covenant respecting the loving-kindnesses to David that are faithful. Look! As a witness to the national groups I have given him, as a leader and commander to the national groups.”—Isaiah 55:3, 4.
THE EVERLASTING KINGDOM COVENANT
29. (a) What would be the effect on those who inclined their ear and came to Jehovah, in response to the invitation found at Isaiah 55:3, 4? (b) What connection is there between these blessings and “the loving-kindnesses to David that are faithful”?
29 Those who inclined their ear and came to Jehovah in the postwar year of 1919 C.E. would have their spiritual life renewed and sustained by the spiritual provisions that Jehovah now invited his people to partake of and enjoy. Their soul would keep alive with spiritual health. The channel for all these restoration blessings for his faithful Christian worshipers would be the Messianic kingdom that had been born in the heavens in the year 1914 at the close of the “times of the Gentiles.” (Luke 21:24, AV; Daniel 4:16, 23, 25, 32; Revelation 12:1-10) This was what was meant by Jehovah’s promise to conclude with the Kingdom proclaimers the indefinitely lasting covenant “respecting the loving-kindnesses to David that are faithful.” Those divine loving-kindnesses meant that the right to the kingdom would continue in the family line of King David of Jerusalem down to his most illustrious Descendant, the promised Messiah, and then the Messianic kingdom would belong to this One forever.
30, 31. (a) How did those loving-kindnesses as promised to David prove to be “faithful”? (b) What application of the promise at Isaiah 55:3 did the apostle Paul make when speaking in Antioch of Pisidia?
30 In being “faithful” those loving-kindnesses to David were lasting, firmly established. (2 Samuel 7:11-16) In confirmation of this, it was said, in Psalm 89:28, 29: “To time indefinite I shall preserve my loving-kindness toward him, and my covenant will be faithful to him. And I shall certainly set up his seed forever and his throne as the days of heaven.” (Also, Jeremiah 33:19-21) Those divine loving-kindnesses as promised to King David did prove to be faithful, for they came to their culmination upon one who was to be an everlasting King, the Messiah. There is no room for question as to who this was, for the apostle Paul applied to Jesus Christ the promise of Isaiah 55:3.
31 Speaking in the Jewish synagogue in Antioch of Pisidia, Asia Minor, the apostle Paul said to his audience: “We are declaring to you the good news about the promise made to the forefathers, that God has entirely fulfilled it to us their children in that he resurrected Jesus; even as it is written in the second psalm, ‘You are my son, I have become your Father this day.’ And that fact that he resurrected him from the dead destined no more to return to corruption, he has stated in this way, ‘I will give you people the loving-kindnesses to David that are faithful.’ Hence he also says in another psalm, ‘You will not allow your loyal one to see corruption.’ For David, on the one hand, served the express will of God in his own generation and fell asleep in death and was laid with his forefathers and did see corruption. On the other hand, he whom God raised up did not see corruption.”—Acts 13:32-37.
32. In whom does Isaiah 55:4 find its fulfillment?
32 So that Messianic kingdom which was established in the heavens in 1914 in the hands of the resurrected, incorruptible Jesus Christ has continued in operation down till now and will carry on for a thousand years to come for the blessing of mankind in an earthly paradise. Consequently, Jehovah God was not referring to the still-dead David when he went on to say, in Isaiah 55:4: “Look! As a witness to the national groups I have given him, as a leader and commander to the national groups.” No, but Jehovah is there referring to David’s promised Descendant, Jesus Christ, in whom the covenant with David for an everlasting kingdom comes to rest.
33. In behalf of whom is he a “witness to the national groups”?
33 This one is given as a “witness to the national groups” in behalf of whom? In behalf of the Giver himself, Jehovah. Jesus Christ was His witness on earth, Jehovah’s witness. In Isaiah 43:9, Jehovah challenges all the gods of the nations to prove that they are really living gods who can correctly predict the things ahead of us. Let these false gods produce their witnesses so that the people can hear from these witnesses about what their gods have said in prophesying and then say, “It is the truth!” Those false gods could not do this. But Jehovah as the living and truthful God can produce witnesses for his side, and His greatest witness ever on earth was his only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. He was a fleshly member of the nation to whom Isaiah 43:10 is directed, saying: “‘You are my witnesses,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘even my servant whom I have chosen.’”
34. (a) To whom first, when a man on earth, was Jesus a witness? (b) As foretold, who else would hear his witness, and how has this been accomplished?
34 As a perfect man on earth, Jesus Christ repeatedly said that he was bearing witness to his heavenly Father, Jehovah God. At that time, this witness was particularly to the Jewish nation. In Revelation 1:5 the apostle John speaks of him as “Jesus Christ, ‘the Faithful Witness,’ ‘The firstborn from the dead,’ and ‘The Ruler of the kings of the earth.’” Also, in Revelation 3:14, the resurrected, glorified Jesus Christ introduces himself to the congregation in Laodicea, Asia Minor, saying: “These are the things that the Amen says, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation by God.” But Jehovah was to give the Messiah Jesus as a witness, not just to the Jewish nation alone, but also “to the national groups.” His witness concerning the God of whom he is the Messianic Servant is for all mankind regardless of nationality, color or race. By means of his faithful fellow witnesses on earth today he is giving this vital witness. Today, Jehovah’s Christian witnesses are very pleased to give the same witness that Jesus Christ did, in more than two hundred lands and island groups, “to the national groups.”
35, 36. (a) The faithfulness that Jesus has demonstrated as a witness gives assurance of what? (b) As to Jesus’ being a “leader and commander,” what parallels do we observe in the case of David?
35 A true and reliable witness needs to be given first before action is taken toward those to whom the witness has been given. (Matthew 24:14) Jesus Christ was faithful on earth as a witness to divine truth. (John 18:37) He died for the cause of such truth.
36 We can be sure that he will be just as faithful in the executive capacities that are bestowed upon him in the heavens. His God gives him as more than a “witness to the national groups.” He gives him thereafter as a “leader and commander to the national groups.” Jehovah raised up David from being a mere shepherd boy at Bethlehem-Judah to be a “leader” to God’s people. (2 Samuel 7:8) As he was a member of the tribe of Judah, then, when David became king over all Israel, the “commander’s staff” came to be placed between the feet of a descendant of Judah as he sat upon his royal throne. (Genesis 49:10) It was then never to turn aside from the possession of the tribe of Judah until the Messiah came, the Shiloh, or, “the one whose it is.”
37. What kind of “leader and commander” does Jesus Christ prove to be?
37 Although being a descendant of King David, the promised Messiah or Shiloh was to be greater than King David. He was to be the Lord even of King David. (Psalm 110:1, 2) This would call for the Messiah to be nothing less also than a “leader and commander,” as David had been to his nation, and this, not only to Israel, but also “to the national groups.” This is what the people of all the nations need, a “leader and commander” who has been given by Jehovah God to be a true Representative of Him. Then the people can be certain that this Messianic “leader and commander” will lead and direct them in a way in harmony with God’s will, for their everlasting good. This is what they will have in the resurrected, glorified Jesus Christ, who sat down at God’s right hand in the heavens. This is why he is now called in heaven a lionlike Ruler, for it is said up there: “The Lion that is of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has conquered.”—Revelation 5:5.
38. How is it possible for us to receive the lasting benefits that were covenanted for Messiah’s subjects?
38 Those who accept the witness that the Messiah Jesus gives and who follow his leadership and obey his commands are blessed. For this reason the “indefinitely lasting covenant” that Jehovah made with King David for an everlasting kingdom takes effect toward those who willingly become the subjects of the Messiah Jesus. This Messianic government is established over them. So they get the lasting benefits from the fact that Jehovah has faithfully stuck to his promised “loving-kindnesses to David” down to the coming of the promised Messiah, yes, down to the end of the Gentile Times in the autumn of the year 1914 C.E. In such a way these loving-kindnesses were covenanted for Messiah’s subjects. These obedient subjects get the grand blessings of the Messianic kingdom that God’s loving-kindnesses have brought about, especially in the case of those spiritual Israelites who will become joint heirs with Christ in the heavenly kingdom.
39. (a) Who received the benefits first, and in what way? (b) Who else are now joining in the spiritual feast?
39 Those who first get the benefits of this kingdom that was brought to birth in the heavens in 1914 C.E. are those who, in 1919 C.E., acted upon the divine invitation to come and partake of the water, the bread, the milk and the wine that Jehovah had provided for them in a spiritual way. (Revelation 12:1-6, 14) Their subjecting themselves to the newly born kingdom of the Messiah meant liberation for them from Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion. The remnant of spiritual Israelites on earth, who had become captives of Babylon the Great during World War I, were the first to respond to Jehovah’s cordial invitation to the spiritual feast of Kingdom blessings in freedom. Since the spring of the year 1935 a “great crowd” of people of all nationalities, who were seeking to get free from Babylon the Great and worship the true God, have joined the remnant of spiritual Israelites in enjoying the grand spiritual feast. (Revelation 7:9-17) From this fact we can discern how the invitation to the soul-satisfying feast is linked with the established Messianic kingdom.
THE SEARCH FOR JEHOVAH AS GOD
40. How do the Scriptures foretell an increase of worshipers of Jehovah who do not belong to spiritual Israel?
40 An increase of worshipers of Jehovah as the God of the Bible was predicted, an increase that would take in a “great crowd” from people not belonging to spiritual Israel. (Revelation 7:1-8) “Look!” Isaiah 55:5 continues on to say, “A nation that you do not know you will call, and those of a nation who have not known you will run even to you, for the sake of Jehovah your God, and for the Holy One of Israel, because he will have beautified you.”
41. (a) During the time of their Babylonish captivity, did the spiritual Israelites know about the ingathering of these other worshipers? (b) To whom would these worshipers from outside spiritual Israel come?
41 What delightful surprises this promise indicates! During the Babylonish captivity of the remnant of spiritual Israel, they had no idea that they would call a “nation” outside of themselves. Such a nation they did not know according to their understanding of the Scriptures at that time. During their captivity such a thing seemed out of the question and not within the purpose of God. Yet in His due time they would “call” or invite a “nation,” any nation outside of spiritual Israel. Their issuing such a call would require that they themselves first be liberated from bondage to Babylon the Great! But would there be a response to such a call to indiscriminate nations? Particularly in the case of people of a “nation who have not known you,” people who have not hitherto given any due recognition to the remnant of spiritual Israel? Yes, says Isaiah 55:5 to spiritual Israel, they “will run even to you.” Ah, yes, they will hasten to come to the remnant of spiritual Israel that survived World War I.
42. Who really would be the attraction, though, as stated in the prophecy?
42 How, though, could this come about? This in the face of the fact that the remnant of spiritual Israel would be “objects of hatred by all the nations”? (Matthew 24:9) It would take place “for the sake of Jehovah your God.” Not the hated remnant of spiritual Israel in itself, but “Jehovah your God” would be the attraction. He was going to do something for them because they had not adopted the false gods of Babylon the Great but had stuck to Him as the true Deity to worship. What, then, would He do for them? This is specified in the further words, “and for the Holy One of Israel, because he will have beautified you.”
43. (a) How has Jehovah “beautified” his spiritual Israelites, thus making them attractive to honest-hearted ones? (b) Into what condition did God thus usher his earthly worshipers, and why?
43 Instead of having any longer the appearance of downcast, ill-fed, ill-clothed captives of Babylon the Great, they would now have an attractive beauty about them as spiritual Israelites. This did not mean that they would cease to be “objects of hatred by all the nations.” It meant that they would become a spiritually free people in Christ. The Holy One of Israel would clothe them with a spiritual beauty, by their being well fed on the spiritual feast that he was now spreading for them. He would clothe them with spiritual beauty by making them His representatives for the newly born kingdom of his Messiah. They would be recognized by honest-hearted ones as being the people who have the true God for worship, and that this God is among them. They would have His truth and be the bearers of the good news of the Kingdom to all the nations for a witness. Because of no longer being under divine disfavor on account of their recent failure, now that they had shown their repentance toward God, they would be ushered into a spiritual paradise, which would stand out in stark contrast to the religious condition of Babylon the Great. Thus these internationally hated ones would be graced with a spiritual attractiveness, to Jehovah’s praise.
44. (a) In what way has the remnant of spiritual Israel ‘called’ the “nation” that they at first did not know about? (b) In doing so, how did they give due prominence to the name of their God? (c) What moved others to run to the remnant of spiritual Israel and to become Jehovah’s Christian witnesses?
44 So from 1919 C.E. forward, the remnant of spiritual Israel began calling the “nation” that they at first did not know about by preaching “this good news of the kingdom” to more and more nations. (Matthew 24:14) They did not fear that they would be shunned because of having God’s name called upon them, but, after years of witnessing to Him world wide, they embraced the fitting name for themselves, Jehovah’s witnesses, his Christian witnesses. This began on Sunday, July 26, 1931, at the international convention that they held in Columbus, Ohio. Despite the prejudice against the divine name, even in Christendom, many searchers for God began running to the remnant of spiritual Israel. They saw in the remnant of spiritual Israelites a spiritual beauty that Christendom and pagandom did not discern or recognize. They came running by the hundreds from the spring of 1935 onward. They desired to enjoy the spiritual paradise that the members of the remnant were enjoying since their restoration to the favor of Jehovah. Without fear of reproach, they too accepted the designation Jehovah’s Christian witnesses.
45, 46. (a) Despite world conflict, to what extent has there been increase in the number of worshipers of Jehovah? (b) What present blessing and future prospect is theirs?
45 The running of all nationalities to the remnant has continued throughout the years since then. Not even the greater world conflict, World War II, stopped the running of those searching for the right God to adore and serve. With the help that these have given to the remnant, the “call” has widened out to more and more lands and territories, and increasing thousands have had their attention called to the spiritual feast in the spiritual paradise by the commanding call: “Hey there, all you thirsty ones! Come.”
46 Those who have come running have increased to a “great crowd,” the final number of which is not now known. (Revelation 7:9, 10) They have become spiritually alive, just as Isaiah 55:3 urges: “Listen, and your soul will keep alive.” This may include their being preserved alive in the flesh through the coming “great tribulation” in which Babylon the Great and the whole worldly system of things will pass out of existence. The spiritual paradise and its happy inhabiters will survive, to Jehovah’s praise and to the honor of his Messianic kingdom.—Matthew 24:21, 22; Revelation 7:14.