The “Way of Holiness” to the Spiritual Paradise
1. What grand prospect lay ahead of the Jewish exiles when they left Babylon in 537 B.C.E.?
A LAND like a paradise in a literal sense! This is what the Jewish exiles hoped to make out of their long-desolate homeland, as they departed from Babylon in the year 537 B.C.E. Before them lay the prospect of realizing the fulfillment of the glowing words that the prophet Isaiah had spoken regarding their homeland: “The wilderness and the waterless region will exult, and the desert plain will be joyful and blossom as the saffron. Without fail it will blossom, and it will really be joyful with joyousness and with glad crying out. The glory of Lebanon itself must be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and of Sharon. There will be those who will see the glory of Jehovah, the splendor of our God.”—Isaiah 35:1, 2.
2. How had God given them assurance of a safe, successful return to their homeland?
2 With such a grand prospect before them, how heart-satisfying it must have felt to the liberated Jewish remnant and their loyal companions when they got on the march out of Babylon and were really homeward bound! Comfortingly, they were assured from God that he would make a special way for them for a safe, successful return to their longed-for homeland. To this effect were his words by his prophet Isaiah: “And there will certainly come to be a highway there, even a way; and the Way of Holiness it will be called. The unclean one will not pass over it. And it will be for the one walking on the way, and no foolish ones will wander about on it. No lion will prove to be there, and the rapacious sort of wild beasts will not come up on it. None will be found there; and the repurchased ones must walk there.”—Isaiah 35:8, 9.
3. (a) What made Babylon, from which the Jews were departing, religiously unclean? (b) How was the way back to the land of Judah to be, in fact, a “Way of Holiness”?
3 Pagan Babylon, to which the surviving Jews had been deported after Jerusalem’s destruction in 607 B.C.E., was religiously unclean, unholy. Its land was filled with idols and temples of false worship. The homeland to which the liberated Jews were to return was to be a religiously clean ground, a holy land, for there the temple of Jehovah God was to be rebuilt on its original site and the repeopled province of Judah was to be a land where the pure worship of the one living and true God flourished. Certainly, then, the way back had to be a “Way of Holiness” in fact, and not in name only. The returnees using this God-provided way had to have a holy motivation, that of restoring to their long-desolate homeland the clean worship of the God of Holiness. That was the main reason why they had been released from Babylon.—Ezra 1:1-4.
4. (a) In what way would it prove true that, as foretold, “the unclean one will not pass over it”? (b) What special obligation did Governor Zerubbabel and High Priest Joshua have in this regard?
4 “The unclean one will not pass over it.” An Israelite unclean with Babylonian religious contamination would have no rightful passage on the Sacred Way back to Judah and Jerusalem. Nothing of a Babylonish religious nature was to be carried back with him to be transplanted on the holy soil where exclusive devotion to Jehovah God was to prevail. The divine command to those who were carrying back the holy utensils for restoration to Jehovah’s temple that was to be rebuilt in Jerusalem was: “Turn away, turn away, get out of there, touch nothing unclean; get out from the midst of her [Babylon], keep yourselves clean, you who are carrying the utensils of Jehovah.” (Isaiah 52:11) The worship of Jehovah does not mix agreeably with Babylonian false religion. So the Way of Holiness must not be defiled by an apostate Israelite who would scheme to introduce Babylonish idolatrous religion into the restored homeland. And the Jewish governor, Zerubbabel, and the Aaronic high priest, Joshua (or, Jeshua), who would be in charge of the march back to the province of Judah, were obliged to see to it that no apostate, evil-designing Israelite should accompany the truly repentant, clean-hearted remnant back to Jerusalem.
5. Who is spoken of in Isaiah 35:8 as “the one walking on the way”?
5 “And it will be for the one walking on the way.” Who could that be? It could never prove to be an unclean person, who is excluded from passing over the way. Since the way in which this one must walk is the Way of Holiness, it must be the individual who is living up to Jehovah’s holiness, who is seeking to be holy just as He is holy. (Leviticus 11:44, 45) Of course, Jehovah himself was the One who was going ahead of the liberated Israelites whose faces were set toward the holy mountain of worship at Jerusalem, and He outstandingly would be The One walking on the way; never would He walk on an unholy way or lead His people on an unholy way. (Isaiah 52:12) Necessarily, those following on the way after him need to be holy like Him, not touching the unclean things pertaining to false Babylonish religion.
6, 7. Who are the “foolish ones” who were not to be permitted to wander on the Way of Holiness?
6 This fact is further proved by the next sentence identifying the one who is debarred from the Way of Holiness: “And no foolish ones will wander about on it.” (Isaiah 35:8) By the designation “foolish” here is not meant one who is just silly, inexperienced, ignorantly doing what is unwise. He is, rather, the perverse fool, the one who is stubbornly committed to the course of unwisdom.
7 Jehovah gave a true description of this kind of foolish person, when He said to the prophet Jeremiah: “My people is foolish. Of me they have not taken note. They are unwise sons; and they are not those having understanding. Wise they are for doing bad, but for doing good they actually have no knowledge.” (Jeremiah 4:22) Because of their ingrained, persistent foolishness they suffered the desolating of Judah and Jerusalem and their deportation to the pagan land of Babylon. So now, on the return of the faithful remnant to their desolated homeland, such “foolish” ones were not to be permitted to wander about freely on the Highway of Holiness, nor to stray in upon it.
8. As shown in Isaiah 35:9, from what else were the Jews promised freedom en route back to their homeland?
8 Not only would there be freedom from contact with such undesirable elements on the road back to their homeland far off from religiously polluted Babylon, but no wild, flesh-eating beasts would lie in wait alongside the road to prey upon the ones using that way back to Jehovah’s favor. The divine promise was: “No lion will prove to be there, and the rapacious sort of wild beasts will not come up on it. None will be found there; and the repurchased ones must walk there.”—Isaiah 35:9.
9. Was this a promise of safety only against animal attack, or what?
9 Thus no man-eating wild beasts would infest the Way of Holiness. If no such dangerous animals add terror to the way back to Jehovah’s worship in His chosen land, then no beastlike men or packs of men would be allowed to leap out suddenly and raid the line of marchers, to plunder and to kill. So there should be no fear in the hearts of the liberated remnant of Jehovah’s people about setting out on the return journey over the way that He provided. Courageously, and with full trust in Almighty God, there was a remnant that volunteered to pioneer the way. As it was written: “And the repurchased ones must walk there.”
10. Why had these people been “sold” to the Babylonians, and on what basis were they being “repurchased”?
10 These were the ones repurchased, redeemed, by Jehovah God. Because of disobedience to Him and rebellion against his pure worship, the people of the kingdom of Judah had been “sold” to the Babylonians for deportation to the land of their captors. Long before their deportation to Babylon, Jehovah had said to them: “Which one of my creditors is it to whom I have sold you people? Look! Because of your own errors you have been sold, and because of your own transgressions your mother has been sent away.” Also: “For this is what Jehovah has said: ‘It was for nothing that you people were sold, and it will be without money that you will be repurchased.’” (Isaiah 50:1; 52:3) That is to say, Jehovah did not get any personal benefit from selling them to the Babylonians, nor does he receive any material benefit from repurchasing them from the land of their captors, their Babylonian masters.
A LIBERATION NOT PAID FOR
11. Were the Babylonians paid in some way when God took possession of his chosen people again?
11 The deported Jews did not pay Jehovah any money for him to repurchase them, neither did they pay money to the Babylonians to buy back their own freedom. It was Jehovah that unselfishly bought them back from the consequences of their own errors and transgressions. He did not owe the Babylonians anything for having taken captive his people and removing them from their God-given land. So He did not have to pay the Babylonians to take possession of His chosen people once again, except to pay vengeance to the Babylonians for their depredations against his holy city Jerusalem and its temple and its throne of the kingdom of David.—Jeremiah 51:11, 36, 37; 1 Chronicles 29:23.
12. How was it “without money” that the modern-day remnant of spiritual Israel was “repurchased”?
12 In modern likeness, Jehovah God owed nothing to Babylon the Great and her worldly accomplices for liberating the remnant of spiritual Israel from their control in the year 1919 C.E. Neither did the anointed remnant pay any money to Babylon the Great or to the kings and rulers of the world with whom she commits spiritual fornication, to purchase their own liberation. The credit for their liberation in 1919 was to Jehovah alone, for he “repurchased” them from the consequences of their shortcomings by the satisfaction of his own justice through his Anointed Servant, Jesus Christ.
13. Following their liberation from Babylon the Great, the discernment of the remnant as to what became ever keener, and what did this involve?
13 Thus it was that, as a repurchased people, the remnant of spiritual Israel turned their backs upon Babylon the Great and entered upon the Highway of Holiness. Theirs was an attitude of repentance as they came more and more to appreciate their past faults, failings and delinquencies, especially during World War I. Ever keener became their discernment that they must render holiness to their divine Liberator, that to Him they must render exclusive devotion. This entailed upon them their keeping separate from this world, the Devil’s visible organization. To His sovereignty, as represented now in the Messianic kingdom newly born in the heavens in 1914 C.E., they must give their fullest allegiance. Accordingly, they must preach the Kingdom, advertise it, world wide.
14. (a) What taints of uncleanness did God’s people need to clear out of their lives? (b) To what should those who desire to serve God conform their conduct and their attitude?
14 Since the Highway of Holiness was for only the clean ones, they needed to clean up from any and all contaminations and soils that they had suffered from captivity and bondage to Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion. So—out with her religious festivals! Out with the nationalistic festivals of this world, of which Babylon the Great is a friend! (James 4:4) Out with any kind of conformity with her and her traditions! God’s Holy Word, the Bible, is the thing to which to conform. Its teachings are the things with which to make our minds over so as to discern God’s will and have the right attitude of mind and heart.
15. (a) If they personally conducted themselves properly, would it make any difference if they tolerated in their midst any persistently “foolish ones”? (b) Why would beastlike men not menace the Highway of Holiness?
15 By such a course alone could the remnant of spiritual Israel come into the full favor of the God of the Holy Bible and enter into the spiritual paradise that he had in reserve for them. Let the so-called Christian realm, Christendom, and all the rest of Babylon the Great go on in their “foolish” way during the postwar period, but, as for the anointed remnant, they would have nothing to do with such “foolish ones.” They would not tolerate any “foolish ones” in their midst, inasmuch as God’s Word had specified that “no foolish ones will wander about on it [on the Highway of Holiness].” (Isaiah 35:8) Furthermore, they would not allow men or man-made organizations to menace the Highway of Holiness like lions or like any rapacious sort of wild beasts. Fear of such terrifying men and organizations would not frighten off the repentant seekers of God’s favor from entering and passing over his Highway of Holiness. Fear of Him would minimize or nullify the fear of ferocious men, especially since Jehovah himself was the main one, the leading one, “walking on the way.”
16. (a) In what year did the anointed remnant start out over the Highway of Holiness? (b) Were they aware that they were leaving Babylon the Great behind?
16 With an increasing appreciation of God’s requirements for them in this postwar period of restoration and reconstruction, Jehovah’s “repurchased ones” started off in 1919 C.E. in their walk over his Highway of Holiness. They definitely knew that they were parting from any company with or bondage to that religious harlot, Babylon the Great, for, after their bad treatment at the hands of her and her worldly paramours during World War I, they had all the more reason to hate her and to be opposed to her. They recognized her as bloodguilty and unclean, and they did not want to touch her in any religious fraternizing way. They were familiar with the divine command in Isaiah 52:11: “Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the LORD.” (King James Authorized Version) (See the Watch Tower issue of November 1, 1918, page 333, under the title “Purity a Qualification of the Royal Priesthood”—“Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord.”—Isaiah 52:11.) So the anointed remnant carried out that command.
17. (a) To whom did the apostle Paul apply that divine command at Isaiah 52:11? (b) So what action must be taken before a person can become a true Christian?
17 Back in the year 537 B.C.E., that command applied to the exiled Jews, captive in ancient Babylon. But after the year 33 of our Common Era, when the natural, circumcised Jews were cast off by Jehovah God for their rejection of his Messiah, the Christian apostle Paul applied that divine command to the spiritual Israelites, the Christian Israel. Quoting from Isaiah 52:11, Paul wrote to the Christian congregation in Corinth, Achaia (Greece), and said: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? . . . Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18, AV) Accordingly, back there in the first century of our Common Era, before they could become true Christians, the believers had to leave Babylon the Great. So, too, in this twentieth century C.E.
18, 19. In a resolution adopted at a Christian assembly in 1923 C.E., what action were God-fearing persons in Babylon the Great urged to take?
18 The divine requirement of this kind for one to become a true Christian was pointedly set out in the year 1923 C.E. On August 18-26 of that year one of a number of regional assemblies of the International Bible Students Association was held in Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. On Saturday afternoon of this convention, J. F. Rutherford as president of the I.B.S.A. addressed the gathering (approximately 2,500 attending this convention), and he spoke on the subject “Sheep and Goats,” this being based on Jesus’ parable recorded in Matthew 25:31-46. At the close of this discourse, the speaker read a pertinent resolution and moved its adoption by his audience. Except for a couple of abstainers, the audience stood up in adoption of this timely resolution. The last two paragraphs of the resolution are of special interest at this time. The two paragraphs read:
We, therefore, in the spirit of love sound the warning to all such peace and order loving and God-fearing ones who are associated with the denominational churches, and point them to the fact that they can have no part in nor fellowship with that class of pretending Christians who repudiate the Word of God and deny the Lord Jesus Christ and his kingdom; and we call upon them to heed the Word of God and separate themselves from the unclean thing (2 Corinthians 6:17), to withdraw themselves from the unrighteous ecclesiastical systems designated by the Lord as “Babylon”, and to “come out from her, lest they be partakers of her sins and receive of her plagues” (Revelation 18:4); and
We appeal to all such to recognize Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords, and that his kingdom now at hand is the hope and salvation of the peoples; and that they individually and collectively declare themselves on the side of the Lord and in sympathy with his cause, and be ready to receive the blessings of God’s kingdom which he has prepared for them from the foundation of the world.
19 Thereafter this Resolution was published in tract form, in a number of principal languages, and circulated throughout the earth by the tens of millions of copies.—See The Watch Tower under date of November 1, 1923, pages 326, 327.
20. (a) In 1934, what further step was taken to aid the sheeplike ones to get on the Highway of Holiness with the anointed remnant? (b) To what group that left Babylon with the Jewish exiles do the sheeplike ones correspond?
20 This Resolution did not instruct these sheeplike people to make a full dedication of themselves to God through Christ and to get baptized in symbol of that dedication. That came later, first in the year 1934. (See The Watchtower under date of August 15, 1934, page 250, paragraph 34.) Nevertheless, the Resolution of 1923 was one of the progressive steps in preparing this sheeplike class to take the course that would in due time put them on the Highway of Holiness with the remnant of spiritual Israel. These sheeplike well-doers toward the anointed remnant were like the Nethinim (Given Ones) that left the land of Babylon in 537 B.C.E. and returned with the faithful remnant of natural Israel to the desolated land of Judah and to the former location of Jerusalem (or, Zion). Those ancient Nethinim not only had some menial service in connection with the temple of Jerusalem but also had a share in the reconstruction of that holy city. (1 Chronicles 9:2; Ezra 2:43-54, 58, 70; 7:24; 8:17-20; Nehemiah 3:26, 31; 7:46-56, 60, 73) Like those of old, the sheeplike Nethinim of today have been very helpful to the anointed remnant of Christ’s spiritual brothers.
THE JOYFUL RETURN
21. With what attitude of mind did the Israelite remnant return to Zion in 537 B.C.E., and why appropriately so?
21 Release from a pagan religious organization and the resumption of pure religious worship under the renewed favor and blessing of the one true and living God ought to be a joy-inspiring event for any seeker of the right religion. This is exactly what such a thing was for the Israelite remnant back there in the year 537 B.C.E. The prophet Isaiah was inspired to foretell the joy of the occasion, saying: “And the very ones redeemed by Jehovah will return and certainly come to Zion with a joyful cry; and rejoicing to time indefinite will be upon their head. To exultation and rejoicing they will attain, and grief and sighing must flee away.”—Isaiah 35:10.
22. Whom did Jehovah use to bring about the deliverance (a) of the Jewish remnant in 537 B.C.E.? (b) of the remnant of spiritual Israel in this twentieth century?
22 For the ancient Israelites the miniature fulfillment of this gladdening prophecy began in the year 537 B.C.E., in the first year of the reign of the Persian king, Cyrus the Great. (2 Chronicles 36:20-23; Ezra 1:1-4; Isaiah 44:26 through 45:7) Just as back there Jehovah God used his foretold anointed servant, King Cyrus, to bring about the deliverance and release of the Jewish remnant from Babylon, so, in this twentieth century, this same God has used the Greater Cyrus, the reigning King Jesus Christ, in effecting the deliverance and release of the remnant of spiritual Israel from Babylon the Great.—Revelation 14:1-8.
23, 24. (a) What is the price for the “repurchased ones” that is referred to in Isaiah 43:1-4? (b) So what did Cyrus the Great receive in place of the natural Israelites whom he restored to their homeland? (c) How is it that the remnant of spiritual Israel since 1919 C.E. are “repurchased ones”?
23 Those who returned over the Highway of Holiness to Zion (or, Jerusalem) were called “the repurchased ones,” “the very ones redeemed by Jehovah.” (Isaiah 35:9, 10) The repurchase price, the redemption price, in this case was prophetically referred to in Isaiah 43:1-4, in these words: “And now this is what Jehovah has said, your Creator, O Jacob, and your Former, O Israel: ‘Do not be afraid, for I have repurchased you. I have called you by your name. You are mine. In case you should pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not flood over you. In case you should walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, neither will the flame itself singe you. For I am Jehovah your God, the Holy One of Israel your Savior. I have given Egypt as a ransom for you, Ethiopia and Seba in place of you. Owing to the fact that you have been precious in my eyes, you have been considered honorable, and I myself have loved you. And I shall give men in place of you, and national groups in place of your soul.’”
24 In place of the remnant of natural Israel whom Cyrus the Great restored to their homeland, the God of Justice gave to him and his descendants African territories and their peoples and national groups, by conquest. These constituted the repurchase price, the redemption value, the ransom. (Esther 1:1-4) In this twentieth century of ours, in behalf of the remnant of spiritual Israel and the “great crowd” of sheeplike ones who resemble the ancient Nethinim, Jehovah says to his Greater Cyrus, Jesus Christ: “Ask of me, that I may give nations as your inheritance and the ends of the earth as your own possession. You will break them with an iron scepter, as though a potter’s vessel you will dash them to pieces.” (Psalm 2:8, 9) Accordingly, the repentant remnant of spiritual Israel, who have been released from Babylon the Great since 1919 C.E., may Scripturally be spoken of as the “repurchased ones,” “the very ones redeemed by Jehovah.” In a particular sense, then, they belong to Jehovah God through Christ.
25. (a) Did the exiled Israelites all return from Babylon to Jerusalem at the same time? (b) In modern times, did all those who came to make up the remnant of spiritual Israel leave Babylon the Great in the year 1919?
25 The first group of exiles that left Babylon and headed for Zion in 537 B.C.E. comprised, at most, 49,942 persons, of which 42,360 were Israelites. The rest were slaves and professional singers. (Nehemiah 7:66, 67; Ezra 2:64, 65) Sixty-nine years later, or in 468 B.C.E., about 1,500 men and their families joined the faithful Aaronic priest Ezra in returning to Jerusalem with the permission of the Persian king, Artaxerxes (Longimanus). This must have been of great encouragement to the first contingent of returned Jewish exiles who were endeavoring to cultivate and beautify the beloved homeland to which they had been restored. (Ezra 7:1 through 8:15) In our twentieth century, it was from 1919 C.E. onward that the anointed remnant of spiritual Israel began departing from bondage to Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion. During the years following World War I and particularly down to 1935 C.E., the number of the anointed remnant increased as more left Babylon the Great to make up the remnant. So, not all the members of today’s remnant left Babylon the Great and got restored to Jehovah’s favor and service in 1919. Continually throughout the years after 1919, individuals were breaking loose from Babylon the Great to enter into the paradise-like spiritual estate of Jehovah’s restored remnant.
26. (a) How has the modern-day remnant traveled on the Highway of Holiness away from Babylon the Great and to the spiritual paradise? (b) Where was their joy over their changed situation evident at an early date, and how long-lived did that joy prove to be?
26 Different from the case of the Jewish exiles in 537 B.C.E., the modern-day remnant of spiritual Israel did not have to travel from one geographical location on earth to another. They traversed the Highway of Holiness from Babylon the Great to the spiritual paradise by obeying God’s command to cast off bondage to unholy Babylon the Great and by taking their stand in the free spiritual estate of Jehovah’s restored remnant. An observer simply had to attend the international convention at Cedar Point, Ohio, U.S.A., September 1-8, 1919, to appreciate that it was “with a joyful cry” that the remnant of spiritual Israelites had set out over the Highway of Holiness and had returned to God’s favor and had “come to Zion.” The joy and renewed zeal of that first postwar general convention of Jehovah’s worshipers spread to the congregations of His dedicated people in all parts of the earth. The joy at religious freedom from Babylon the Great and at reinstatement in their God-given spiritual estate was not fleeting, short-lived. As Isaiah 35:10 foretold, “rejoicing to time indefinite will be upon their head.” As they intensified their efforts in preaching world wide “this good news of the kingdom” and as they discerned more and more the spiritual paradise that was being cultivated in their spiritual estate, they lifted up their heads with augmented rejoicing.
27, 28. In 537 B.C.E., what happened in fulfillment of the latter part of Isaiah 35:10?
27 The words of divine prophecy had to be fulfilled: “To exultation and rejoicing they will attain, and grief and sighing must flee away.” (Isaiah 35:10) In the year 537 B.C.E., at the beginning of the seventh lunar month (Tishri), the repatriated Jews gathered to Jerusalem and rebuilt the altar to Jehovah at the temple site, to renew the offering of sacrifices to him there. Then, on the fifteenth day of Tishri, they began celebrating the seven-day festival of the booths, which was regularly the most joyful festival of the year in all the Jewish calendar of annual events. (Ezra 3:1-6) In the second year of their return from exile, in the second lunar month of the sacred calendar, their joy was heightened still more, when the foundation of the temple of Jehovah was laid at its original site on Mount Moriah. The emotions of some stirred them to tears, but others rejoiced:
28 “Hence the people were not distinguishing the sound of the shout of rejoicing from the sound of the weeping of the people, for the people were shouting with a loud shout, and the sound itself was heard even to a great distance.”—Ezra 3:8-13.
29. In the case of the remnant of spiritual Israel, how did “grief and sighing” flee away?
29 All of that was a miniature pattern of the unspeakable exultation and rejoicing to which the restored remnant of spiritual Israel attained after their liberation from Babylon the Great. Grief over what they had suffered at the hands of Babylon the Great and her worldly paramours during World War I was swallowed up in joy at the blessings of their transformed spiritual estate. The sighing to which they had given way because of religious bondage and restraints fled away. The hardships of the world’s postwar era, including even the horrors and persecutions of World War II, could not stifle their exultation and rejoicing in Jehovah and his reigning Messianic kingdom. They did not grieve over these mundane things, and never again did they submit to religious bondage to Babylon the Great, so as to cause them to sigh at further oppressions by her.
30, 31. (a) Starting in 1935 C.E., who joined the remnant on the Highway of Holiness? (b) What reasons for joy have they experienced as foretold in Revelation 7:16, 17?
30 To the contrary, their joy was enhanced by the flocking to their side of an increasing “great crowd” of sheeplike worshipers of Jehovah God. This “great crowd” of “other sheep,” like the Nethinim of ancient Israel, began following the anointed remnant over the Highway of Holiness from the year 1935 C.E. forward. (Revelation 7:9-17; John 10:16; Matthew 25:31-46) In loyalty to Jehovah God and his heavenly kingdom by his Son Jesus Christ, these sheeplike escapees from Babylon the Great gave active aid and comfort to the remnant of spiritual Israelites, their spiritual “brothers” of the King Jesus Christ. Their joy abounds at their own religious freedom, and they share fully in the rejoicing of the anointed remnant in their transformed spiritual estate. As it is written concerning the “great crowd” in Revelation 7:16, 17:
31 “They will hunger [spiritually] no more nor thirst [spiritually] anymore, neither will the sun beat down upon them [in divine disapproval] 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.”
32. What further reasons for “rejoicing to time indefinite” are there ahead of the “great crowd” and the remnant of spiritual Israel?
32 To this “great crowd” of sheeplike followers of the Lamb Jesus Christ there is extended the hope of surviving the oncoming “great tribulation” in which this worldly system of things will be brought to an eternal end. (Revelation 7:14) With the faithful anointed remnant of spiritual Israel they expect to survive into the promised new system of things under God’s Messianic kingdom. To have this experience, will it not be a joy for them? Truly it may be said concerning both the anointed remnant and the “great crowd” that “rejoicing to time indefinite will be upon their head.” (Isaiah 35:10) As the earth becomes more and more polluted by the ruinous things of selfish mankind today, the spiritual paradise enjoyed by the divinely blessed remnant and the “great crowd” of loving companions flourishes with exhilarating healthiness.