Who Sees the New World’s King at the Temple?
“And the temple sanctuary of God that is in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen in his temple sanctuary. And there occurred lightnings and voices and thunders and an earthquake and a great hail.”—Rev. 11:19, NW.
1. Where is Jehovah King? Why is this comforting?
JEHOVAH is King in his temple. He is immortal and will reign forever and ever. What a comforting fact that is, since Christendom’s attempt to rule as king has miserably failed and that religious system is now dead in God’s sight! All further dependence upon Christendom for good, stable government of the earth is foolish and vain.
2. According to Revelation 11, what follows his beginning to reign?
2 The source of all rightful government is the Universal Ruler, Jehovah God. Jesus Christ taught his disciples to pray for His government. At the time of its setting up there must come a vision of the Supreme Universal Ruler at his temple. This is made plain to us in The Revelation. It points to the year 1914 and says: “Loud voices occurred in heaven [where the government is established] saying: ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will rule as king for ever and ever.’” Faithful Christians are pictured as responding to this all-important event with the words: “We thank you, Jehovah God, the Almighty, the one who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and begun ruling as king. But the nations became wrathful [so they did in 1914], and your own wrath came, and the appointed time . . . to bring to ruin those ruining the earth.” It is at his temple that he reigns. In ancient days he reigned over his chosen people Israel, and then his presence at the temple was symbolized by the ark of his covenant. So now that he has taken his power to reign over earth as well as heaven, the vision of him at his temple must follow. “And the temple sanctuary of God that is in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen in his temple sanctuary. And there occurred lightnings and voices and thunders and an earthquake and a great hail.”—Rev. 11:15-19, NW; Ps. 99:1-3.
3. Who sees the temple vision, and how do we know this?
3 Who now sees the temple vision? Isaiah’s prophecy, Isa chapter 6, answers the question for us. In 774 B.C. the prophet had a vision and he pictured the class within our generation who have had the temple vision since A.D. 1914. It was Isaiah who uttered the words to God’s faithful people: “Ye are my witnesses, saith Jehovah, and my servant whom I have chosen.” Isaiah himself was one of the witnesses of the Most High God. He therefore prefigured Jehovah’s anointed witnesses in this day. (Isa. 43:10, AS) So let us examine the facts concerning Isaiah’s temple vision and compare the facts of today with them.
TIME AND CIRCUMSTANCES
4. What marked the year when Isaiah saw the vision?
4 “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the LORD sitting upon a throne, high and uplifted, with the skirts of his robe filling the temple.” (Isa. 6:1, AT) Uzziah’s death marks the year of the vision as 774 B.C. Israel’s human king who once sat on the “throne of Jehovah” at Jerusalem dies for lawlessly invading the temple, but the real King is seen enthroned in his temple. Uzziah died in a house separate from the temple and royal palace, as a man cursed by God with the fatal disease of leprosy, while his son Jotham ruled for him inside Jerusalem. (2 Chron. 26:21-23) Thus the reign of Jehovah the true King at the temple counterbalances the death of the presumptuous king under divine curse.
5. Was that the year Isaiah was consecrated to the prophetic office? What are the indications on this?
5 That year was not the year Isaiah was called or consecrated to the prophetic service. The five preceding chapters of his prophecy show he was active as prophet before that memorable year. The “days of Uzziah” in which Isaiah prophesied must have been days before, possibly years before his death, for Isaiah wrote records on the reign of Uzziah. (2 Chron. 26:22) This is likewise true of the modern Isaiah class of whom a remnant exists today. The apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Hebrews about 61 (A.D.) and already then he speaks of the Isaiah class, at Hebrews 2:13, 14. There he quotes Isaiah’s words at Isaiah 8:18, where the prophet says: “Look! I and the young children whom Jehovah gave me.” (NW) Paul then shows that Jesus became the head of this Isaiah class by descending from heaven and becoming flesh and blood the same as these God-given children, his followers, were. In fact, the Christian Greek Scriptures apply to Jesus and to his disciples of the first century the commission which Isaiah received at the temple and which he recorded at Isaiah 6:9, 10. This proves that the Isaiah class existed in the first century and that it partly fulfilled the prophecy already nineteen centuries before our day.
6. On whom does the final fulfillment of the vision occur? When?
6 But the final fulfillment of Isaiah’s vision takes place upon the remnant of Jehovah’s anointed witnesses, the Isaiah class of our time. It takes place after Jehovah began to reign in 1914 by enthroning his Son Jesus Christ as King with an iron rod to dash the nations of this world to pieces at the coming battle of Armageddon. Later, in 1918, Jehovah appeared at the temple by sending his King, the promised “messenger of the covenant”, there to judge all those who profess to be of the house of God. (Mal. 3:1; 1 Pet. 4:17) So the facts show that the temple vision occurred in 1919.
7. How did Uzziah come to be smitten with the plague that killed him?
7 What, then, in 1919 compares with King Uzziah’s death? Uzziah was a king of David’s line and built up great prosperity in Israel during a long reign. God had inspired King David to say He would raise up a ruler like ancient Melchizedek, the king of Salem. Like Melchizedek, this ruler of David’s line would be a priest as well as a king seated upon the “throne of Jehovah”. He would be the Messiah or Christ, through whom all people of the earth would be blessed with a perfect government. Uzziah, inflated with pride after long prosperity, presumed now to add to his regal office the duties of the high priest of Israel, as if he were of Melchizedek’s line. He presumed to be the Messiah or Christ, to whom Jehovah had sworn with an oath in David’s prophecy, at Psalm 110:4: “Jehovah hath sworn, and will not repent: Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.” (AS) Uzziah was thus worse than Korah and his 250 fellow rebels who challenged Moses and Aaron and presumed to burn incense to Jehovah like the high priest and his sons, for Korah and his men were of the tribe of Levi, the same as Moses and Aaron. (Num. 16:1-40; Ex. 30:1-10, 34-38; Jude 11, 12; Num. 18:7) So Jehovah struck Uzziah with leprosy, and he could no longer attend the temple or sit on the throne. The prophecies mention an earthquake in Uzziah’s days, but whether this occurred at the time of his sacrilegious act we cannot be sure.—Amos 1:1; Zech. 14:5; also Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews, book 9, chapter 10, ¶4.
8. What class once prospered like Uzziah, and till when?
8 In like manner the religious clergy of Christendom appeared to prosper in divine favor up till A.D. 1914. That year the times appointed for worldly nations to dominate the earth ended. Then Jehovah God took over his power to rule the earth as King and installed his Son in the throne. So the question arose, Who is the Messiah to govern the earth? Who will fulfill the blessed predictions concerning the Messiah? The clergy of Christendom assumed to play the Messiah’s role, for they rejected the Kingdom message which the remnant of Jehovah’s witnesses proclaimed.
9, 10. (a) How did Protestantism assume to play the Messiah? (b) How did Catholicism?
9 Catholicism and Protestantism claimed to be in line for God’s kingdom. Their clergy acted as religious rulers and claimed to be the ones to establish the Kingdom and to fulfill the prayer, “Thy kingdom come,” by trying to convert the world to Christ. In 1914 the nations of Christendom engaged in global war for world domination. Christendom’s clergy sided in with them. They made themselves the handmaids of the political rulers of this world and not of the Christ enthroned in the heavens. So they blessed the armies which were really fighting against Messiah’s rule of the earth. Toward the end of that first world war the League of Nations was proposed and early in 1919 the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America issued this statement: “The time has come to organize the world for truth, right, justice and humanity. To this end as Christians we urge the establishment of a League of Free Nations at the coming Peace Conference. Such a League is not merely a peace expedient; it is rather the political expression of the kingdom of God on earth. The League of Nations is rooted in the gospel. Like the gospel, its objective is ‘Peace on earth, good will toward men.’ Like the gospel, its appeal is universal. The heroic dead will have died in vain unless out of victory shall come a new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.—2 Peter 3:13. The church can give a spirit of goodwill, without which no League of Nations can endure.”
10 On Catholicism’s side, the then pope of Rome tried to use the German emperor and his military machine as the “sword of the church” to pave the way for restoring the Holy Roman Empire. In furtherance of his own Messianic ambitions, the pope in 1929 closed a deal with the Fascist dictator Mussolini whereby temporal power on earth was restored to the pope and Vatican City was created as a political state. Had the pope appreciated that Jehovah God was now reigning by his true Messiah since 1914, he would not have gone in for temporal power. He would have linked himself up with the reigning Messiah instead of with worldly political rulers. In view of the pope’s leaning to the Teutonic Allies in World War I the Treaty of London was signed by Great Britain, France, Russia and Italy in 1915, debarring the pope from any diplomatic action in regard to peace or questions arising from the war.
11, 12. So what did the clergy now assume to offer to God, and how?
11 Having reached the height of her prosperity in 1914, for she has never been prosperous since, Christendom’s clergy presumed to offer up incense to God at his temple. Jehovah’s witnesses then acted like high priest Azariah and his eighty priests who resisted King Uzziah’s blasphemous act and who drove him out of the temple after he was smitten. So Jehovah’s witnesses pointed to God’s kingdom by his true Messiah and protested against the course of the clergy and showed from the Scriptures that it was spiritual harlotry. The clergy conspired to kill this remnant of God’s “royal priesthood” and to assume the functions of such a priesthood themselves. (1 Pet. 2:9) By using world war to suppress the witness which was being given to the Kingdom by the remnant, the clergy killed Jehovah’s “two witnesses” in fulfillment of Revelation 11:3-10. They used the war beast, not a peace beast, to try to clear the Kingdom witnesses out of the way. (Rev. 11:7; 13:1-3) Like the rich man in Jesus’ parable, the clergy class wore royal purple and now they tried to display their priestly linen of self-righteousness, amid all their worldly prosperity. (Luke 16:19-31) But in assuming to offer incense to God at his temple, they were not like the apostle Paul who offered the true incense properly.
12 Paul wrote: “God . . . always leads us in a triumphal procession in company with the Christ and makes the odor of the knowledge of him perceptible through us in every place! For to God we are a sweet odor of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the latter ones an odor issuing from death to death, to the former ones an odor issuing from life to life. And who is adequately qualified for these things? We are; for we are not peddlers of the word of God as many men are, but as out of sincerity, yes, as sent from God, under God’s view, in company with Christ, we are speaking.” (2 Cor. 2:14-17, NW) The clergy offered incense, not of the knowledge of Jehovah and his kingdom by Christ, but of propaganda filled with worldly politics and promising Messianic blessings through an alliance of nations.
13. Since when have they been smitten and tormented like Uzziah? How?
13 For this the plague of God has come upon them. They are shown to be cursed and doomed to a disgraceful death. In Israel leprous King Uzziah was driven out of the temple by faithful Azariah and his eighty priests. Like the rich man in Jesus’ parable he died to his privileges and was subjected to torments. Like the great chasm barring the rich man from Abraham’s bosom, King Uzziah’s plague barred him from the holy temple and the royal “throne of Jehovah”.a In 1918 the clergy of Christendom succeeded in killing Jehovah’s “two witnesses” at the climax of World War I. Because of such a flagrant act of contempt for God’s kingdom by Christ they were smitten with a death-dealing spiritual plague from God. They betrayed themselves to be unclean in his sight, spiritual adulteresses with this world, and hence enemies of God. They have ever since stayed in this accursed state. They have been rejected from God’s service at his temple and have no sound hopes of a place in the heavenly kingdom with Christ Jesus.—Jas. 4:4; 2 Cor. 6:14-18.
EFFECT OF THE VISION
14. When and how did they die? But how were the remnant then favored?
14 Just as foretold in Revelation 11:11, 12, the anointed remnant of Jehovah’s witnesses were revived from the death state into which the enemy had forced them. God did not let them be destroyed during World War I. He revived them by his spirit in 1919. But the religious clergy died as to God’s true service, like the rich man in Haʹdes. It was then that the remnant caught the vision of the postwar service for God at his temple. Isaiah, picturing them, said: “I saw the Lordb sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple.” (Isa. 6:1, AS) As a comparison of Bible prophecy with historical facts shows, Jehovah God as represented by his Messenger of the covenant, his King, came to the temple in 1918. That was therefore “the appointed time for the judgment to start with the house of God”. (1 Pet. 4:17, NW) Hence the remnant as well as Christendom which professes to be God’s house were brought to the temple. But Christendom did not get the vision; she was disclosed to be leprous because of her sin of rebellion against the Kingdom. As for the anointed remnant, they discerned with greater appreciation that Jehovah God was now reigning by his enthroned King Jesus Christ. The wrath of the nations which they vented in waging World War I and in persecuting the witnesses of God’s kingdom was proof of that fact. So they appreciated it was now a time of judgment for them. “Jehovah is in his holy temple; Jehovah, his throne is in heaven; his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.” (Ps. 11:4, AS) His high and uplifted throne indicates that he is the Supreme Authority of the universe, the rightful Sovereign and Judge of all creatures.
15. By whom was he attended at the temple? How was this most fitting?
15 Isaiah describes the vision of Jehovah throning at his temple: “Over him stood seraphim, each having six wings, with two of which he covered his face, with two he covered his loins, and with two he hovered in flight.” (Isa. 6:2, AT) It being a time of judgment, it was very fitting that Jehovah should be attended by seraphim, for the name of these spirit creatures means “fiery ones; burning ones”. This quality about them reflects that “Jehovah thy God is a devouring fire, a jealous God”, that is, toward his enemies. (Deut. 4:24, AS; De 9:3; Heb. 12:29) Execution of his judgment as by fire as well as the cleansing of his faithful remnant as by fire was at hand. The seraphim were most respectful of Jehovah’s person. Keenly sensing his holiness, they covered their faces and lower limbs with their wings, just as officials in the most dignified Oriental court in ancient times would do in the king’s presence. Because of their closeness to the Sovereign of the universe they were all the more self-effacing in order not to distract from his personal glory. But here Isaiah, a creature lower than the angels, was beholding with wide-open eyes the sight of the Most High God. It is now a solemn thought for us to reflect that Jehovah God is at his temple of judgment attended by these fiery seraphim. It is a most dignified, solemn, awesome circumstance.
16. What is the import of what the seraphim are saying?
16 “And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is Jehovah of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.” (Isa. 6:3, AS) In thus continually crying out this refrain on God’s holiness, these seraphim match the four living creatures whom John saw in his vision of Jehovah on the celestial throne. “And as for these four living creatures, each one of them respectively has six wings; round about and underneath they are full of eyes. And they have no rest day and night as they say: ‘Holy, holy, holy is Jehovah God, the Almighty, who was and who is and who is coming.’” (Rev. 4:1-8, NW) Their saying “holy” three times makes this quality very emphatic. It shows that the Almighty God is inherently devoted to righteousness, incapable of doing anything wrong. This holy quality vindicates him against all the false charges that Satan the Devil has leveled at Jehovah God. For this reason his temple must be a clean, holy place and those who want to serve him there must also be holy in a godlike devotion to what is right, pure and good. That is why, too, the earth over which He has taken his great power to reign by Christ must be made a holy place. The earth is his footstool, and it will be made glorious, for it was with prophetic import that the seraphim kept calling to one another, “The whole earth is full of his glory.”
17. How will earth be filled with his glory? With what result?
17 That refrain is what the seraphim are now saying at the temple. So this unholy world cannot go on forever. Jehovah is of purer eyes than to view with approval the hypocritical religiousness of Christendom. His holiness distinguishes him from the false gods of the worldly nations. The worldliness of Satan’s dominion cannot touch and soil him. For more than 230 times in Scripture he is called “Jehovah of hosts”. His mighty hosts are like him in their heartfelt devotion to righteousness, so that he can well use them in executing his judgments against all unrighteousness of this world. Not yet is our earth full of his glory, but it will be full of it as a result of the oncoming “war of the great day of God the Almighty”. As he said to Moses: “All the earth shall be filled with the glory of Jehovah.” (Rev. 16:14-16, NW; Num. 14:21, AS) His majestic splendor will be everywhere throughout the earth, and all the living will know he is King. “For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of Jehovah, as the waters cover the sea. But Jehovah is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.” (Hab. 2:14, 20, AS) One of the grand results of this knowledge will be that earth’s inhabitants will not hurt or destroy one another, as they do now in this unholy world. (Isa. 11:9, AS) Already amid the gloom of this world Jehovah’s witnesses are catching up his glory light from the temple and are reflecting the glorious knowledge of God to the people who are sitting in darkness and longing for light.—2 Cor. 3:18; 4:6, NW.
CLEANSING OF LIP
18. What effect does proclaiming God’s holiness have?
18 The proclamation of the holiness of the God of the righteous new world is very powerful. It causes a shaking, disturbing the self-complacency of creatures who trust in their own righteousness. With the proclamation of the seraphim intoning in his ears the prophet Isaiah says: “And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.” (Isa. 6:4, AS) This would unsettle any who stepped over the threshold to approach God. It would make them concerned about their heart condition. Happily for us, we have a forerunner who has entered into the great temple of God for us, namely, Christ Jesus, the great Priest-King after the likeness of Melchizedek. (Heb. 6:19, 20) The righteousness of his sacrifice makes up for our inborn imperfections and sinfulness. Yet we must search our hearts, to see that they are holy in their devotion to truth and righteousness. Those of the house of God must especially do so.
19. What does the filling of the house with smoke denote?
19 The filling of the house or temple with smoke denotes the presence of the living God there with a glory to which human creatures cannot approach. It is as when Moses set up the tabernacle of worship in the wilderness at Mount Sinai: “then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of Jehovah filled the tabernacle.” Centuries afterward when King Solomon dedicated the temple at Jerusalem and the priests brought the ark of the covenant into the Most Holy, “the cloud filled the house of Jehovah, so that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud; for the glory of Jehovah filled the house of Jehovah.” (Ex. 40:34, 35, AS; 1 Ki. 8:10, 11, AS) Later the apostle John got a foreview of our own time and saw the temple sanctuary in heaven and seven angels come out with seven plagues of judgment to be poured out upon mankind after 1918 (A.D.). He tells what happened: “And the sanctuary became filled with smoke because of the glory of God and because of his power, and no one was able to enter into the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.” (Rev. 15:5-8, NW) Assuredly this is a God who will shortly make even the scientists of this electronic age with all their atomic release of power stand in awe of his glorious judgments. Let us never forget that he is at the temple for judgment proceedings.
20. What was the purpose of letting Isaiah see this? What was its effect?
20 For Isaiah of old, it was as if he were Israel’s high priest and seeing past the inner curtain of the temple and beholding the glory of God. Isaiah was privileged to see this that it might impress him and make him feel his lowly condition in God’s sight. So the opening of the eyes of understanding of the remnant of the Isaiah class in this generation to behold corresponding things was likewise meant to impress them with how far short they come of the divine glory. But for gazing with his eyes on such a glorious sight in the Most Holy of God’s temple was Isaiah smitten with a lethal plague as Uzziah was? No; even though he was not a priest of the tribe of Levi. He had come upon this vision, not by presumptuousness, but because of a faithful heart. The effect of it he tells us: “Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone [or, dumb; lost; destroyed]; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of hosts.”—Isa. 6:5, AS.
21, 22. (a) What did Isaiah feel in danger of and why? (b) Correspondingly, how did the remnant feel? Why were they in danger?
21 A realization of his natural condition swept over Isaiah. He felt he was now to be destroyed for his unworthy condition. In the case of the remnant in 1919, they did not feel now too sure of their saved condition, of having ‘made the calling and choosing of them firm’. They were not yet ready to “go home” to heavenly glory, but yet had a work to do in which to prove their faithfulness. They might have been destroyed in that crucial year, if Jehovah had not shortened the days of world tribulation for the sake of his chosen ones but had carried the war begun in heaven against Satan’s organization straight through to its complete destruction.
22 Isaiah 12:1 indicates Jehovah was angry with the remnant of his witnesses for their fear and failure during World War I. So had he acted on his displeasure it might have been disastrous for them. They were of “unclean lips” like Isaiah. “The fear of Jehovah is clean” (Ps. 19:9, AS); but they had let fear of man and of human organizations affect their lips and silence their message to a large extent. They were not exalting the holiness of Jehovah or filling the whole earth with the knowledge of his glory, as the seraphim were doing. The remnant dwelt mainly in Christendom, which, though professing to be God’s house, was of unclean, hypocritical lips. Through contact with her the remnant had many soils and were infected with many of her traditions and practices even yet. On this basis the remnant of God’s chosen ones might have been destroyed with the world at that time when judgment began at God’s house. But his shortening of the days of tribulation upon Satan’s organization made for their being spared and also for all the other sheep to be spared who have since then been gathered to the fold of the Right Shepherd.—Matt. 24:21, 22; John 10:16, NW.
23. What issue was meant to be impressed upon the beholder of the vision? Because the vision is at the temple, what does it indicate?
23 The fact that Jehovah’s kingdom is set up is what makes the situation so serious for the Isaiah class. The fact of its establishment had to be impressed upon them and then their obligations be made forcefully clear to them. This is indicated by Isaiah’s cry of dismay: “For mine eyes have seen the King, Jehovah of hosts.” The leprous king of Israel died, but here the holy, living King of all the earth was on his throne at his temple of judgment. So it is not a time to mourn over the dead King Uzziah or his modern counterpart. It is a time to worship, serve and announce the real, living King, attended by his hosts of seraphim, cherubim and angels. It is a time to say: “Praise Jah, you people, because Jehovah our God, the Almighty, has begun to rule as king.” (Rev. 19:6, NW) The government of earth belongs, not to man, but to Jehovah God, and he reigns in holiness. Earth’s domination is a part of the issue of universal sovereignty. This issue now faces all mankind, and the remnant were made to see that this was the paramount issue. Since it is at the temple that Jehovah makes his appearance as King, it shows that he is concerned about pure worship of the true God. The King is God, and God is the King. Hence his is a theocratic kingdom and is the only rightful government for all man. His government must enforce true worship on the earth.
MEANS OF CLEANSING
24. What body members needed cleansing? Why was stress laid on them?
24 Gratefully we acknowledge today how the cleansing of the modern Isaiah class was performed by Jehovah’s undeserved kindness. “Then flew one of the seraphim unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: and he touched my mouth with it, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin forgiven.” (Isa. 6:6, 7, AS) For the Isaiah class to be restored to the favor of the King their lips had to be cleansed. “He that loveth pureness of heart, for the grace of his lips the king will be his friend.” (Prov. 22:11, AS) The message those lips spoke must be pure, uncompromising, free from fear of men and religious traditions and human philosophies and selfish eulogies of men. It was necessary for God to fulfill his promise to “turn to the peoples a pure language [literally, a pure lip], that they may all call upon the name of Jehovah, to serve him with one consent”. (Zeph. 3:9, AS) They were to be witnesses of Jehovah as Universal Sovereign and so must offer to him the “sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips which make public declaration to his name”. (Heb. 13:15, NW) The need of preachers, ambassadors, prophets, proclaimers was involved here. That is why stress was laid on the condition of the lips. At that time most of the remnant were volunteering to distribute free Bible tracts, several hundred were full-time pioneer publishers, the elective elders of congregations were mainly the public speakers, and many were mere meeting attenders. But now all must be active witnesses with their lips clean from fear.
25. How was the cleansing effected, and why with appropriate means?
25 Isaiah’s vision shows that our cleansing was not by human means, but was by seraphic or superhuman means. Humans, themselves unclean, could not accomplish the needed cleansing. Jehovah’s use of the seraph reminds us of how, when Lazarus in the parable died to his beggar condition, the angels carried him to the bosom position of Abraham. The golden tongs which the seraph used to pick up the red-hot stone or live coal were from the golden lampstand in the holy compartment of the temple. (1 Ki. 7:49; 2 Chron. 4:21; Ex. 25:38; 37:23; Num. 4:9) So they were part of the equipment of illumination. To cleanse our lips concerning what they say and how they say it there must be spiritual enlightenment, as symbolized by the golden lampstand. The live coal which was applied to the lips was from no ordinary fire, but was from the fire under the altar of sacrifice in the temple court, which fire was not to be let go out. (Lev. 6:12, 13) The altar represents Christ’s sacrifice. So the live coal came from the right place to purge the lips as by fire. It pictured the cleansing message, which destroys the traditions and precepts of men and imparts fearlessness, zeal, so that the Kingdom message becomes a burning fire within one’s bones. Said Jesus: “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.” (John 15:3, NW) It is in harmony with this that, when Jehovah commissioned Jeremiah as his prophet, he put out his hand and touched Jeremiah’s lips and said to him: “Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.”—Jer. 1:9, AS; Isa. 51:16.
26. What was the remnant’s sin, how was it covered and for what purpose was their cleansing?
26 Any uncleanness of lip in these days following 1914 when Jehovah began to rule as King is wrong and is a sin. Hence when the seraph touched Isaiah’s lips with the red-hot coal he said: “Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin forgiven.” (AS) Or, as Rotherham’s translation brings out more fully the sense of the seraph’s words, “And thy sin [shall] by propitiation be covered.” The sin of the remnant was covered by the propitiatory sacrifice of Jesus, represented by the altar from which the seraph took the red-hot coal. So instead of being struck with a death-dealing curse like presumptuous King Uzziah, the remnant were graciously forgiven through Christ because of their repentance and were not destroyed. The cleansing of their lips was not a preparation of them to go home at once to heaven. It was a preparation of them for earthly service at a most critical time in human history. So they were preserved to use their cleansed lips with freeness of speech in this day of judgment.—1 John 4:17, 18, NW.
27. So what must be the remnant’s course henceforth?
27 How grateful we can be for this cleansing! It has made us different from all of Christendom, which grows worse and worse in uncleanness of lip. We must never suffer a relapse, by yielding to fear of creatures again, but must go on to perfection of knowledge, faith, ability for service. Our one-time “iniquity” or wrongness has been taken away by God’s royal message for this “time of the end”, for it has acted as a corrective of what we think and say. This is the blessed effect of our vision of him at his temple and of our humbling ourselves before his glorious face.
Know this, that in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, self-assuming, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, without gratitude, with no loving-kindness, having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with self-esteem, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power; and from these turn away.—2 Tim. 3:1-5, NW.
a See the articles on the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in The Watchtower of February 15 and March 1, 1951.
b Some 105 Hebrew manuscripts read Jehovah at this verse Isa 6:1 instead of Adonaiʹ. This is one of the 134 places where the Hebrew Sopherim changed the name Jehovah in the primitive text to read Adonaiʹ, My Lord, lest Isaiah should be said to have seen Jehovah God.