“Jehovah Is in His Holy Temple”
“But Jehovah is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.”—Hab. 2:20, AS.
1. Since the end of the first world war how has religion been affected by Jehovah’s presence at his temple?
HAVE you ever wondered why it is that religion has had such a hard time of it since World War I closed in 1918? It is because “Jehovah is in his holy temple” and all the earth has not kept silence before him. In the face of his presence at his temple the most sweeping religious purge is on and religion cannot carry on as before without swift, disastrous consequences. (Ps. 11:4-6, AS) Where, then, is Jehovah’s temple and how may we see his presence there, that we may respectfully keep silence before him?
2. What responsibility concerning his pictorial temple service did Jehovah entrust to members of the ancient tribe of Levi?
2 Jehovah God has only one temple in the universe. Once he had his one temple on earth, and for hundreds of years this was at the holy city of Jerusalem in the land of Judah. There all the Israelites brought their personal sacrifices to be offered on the one altar at the hands of God’s ordained priesthood, consisting of a high priest and his many underpriests, all these being of the family of Aaron, the son of Levi. The priests had their temple assistants, the Levites, all of whom were of the tribe of Levi. The priests and Levites were under the obligation to keep the worship of Jehovah God pure and undefiled. They were under command not only to serve at the temple in connection with the sacrifices and the festivals but also to teach the people God’s law and inform the tribes of Israel concerning his will.
3, 4. What was Jehovah’s covenant with Levi? By whom and how was it corrupted?
3 God made a covenant or expression of his will toward the tribe of Levi, that the temple service should be their exclusive privilege and that he should be their inheritance, since they remained landless in Israel. This covenant with Levi received pointed expression in Jehovah’s words of approval toward Phinehas, the grandson of high priest Aaron, because he took bold action against the infiltration of idolatry and moral looseness into Israel: “Phinʹe·has the son of E·le·aʹzar the son of Aaron the priest has turned back my wrath from upon the sons of Israel by his tolerating no rivalry at all toward me in the midst of them, so that I have not exterminated the sons of Israel in my insistence on exclusive devotion. For that reason say, ‘Here I am giving him my covenant of peace. And it must serve as the covenant of a priesthood to time indefinite for him and his offspring after him, due to the fact that he tolerated no rivalry toward his God and proceeded to make atonement for the sons of Israel.’”—Num. 25:10-13, NW.
4 In further describing the covenant of Levi, Jehovah said to priests neglectful of their duty: “And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you. And ye shall know that I have sent this commandment unto you, that my covenant may be with Levi, saith Jehovah of hosts. My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave [life and peace] to him that he might fear; and he feared me, and stood in awe of my name. The law of truth was in his mouth, and unrighteousness was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many away from iniquity. For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth; for he is the messenger [or, angel] of Jehovah of hosts. But ye are turned aside out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble in the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith Jehovah of hosts.”—Mal. 2:1, 4-8, AS; Da, margin.
5, 6. (a) When and how was Jehovah’s presence at his temple first symbolized? (b) How was it symbolized after Israel’s entry into the Promised Land?
5 The first builder of a temple for Jehovah was the Levite prophet Moses, the brother of Aaron. When Moses completed the construction of the temple or tabernacle and set it up in the wilderness in 1512 B.C., a meaningful event took place. The record says: “So Moses finished the work. And the cloud began to cover the tent of meeting and Jehovah’s glory filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to go into the tent of meeting, because the cloud tented over it and Jehovah’s glory filled the tabernacle.” (Ex. 40:33-35, NW; 1 Sam. 1:9; 3:3; 2 Sam. 22:7) That miracle symbolized that the Lord Jehovah had come to his temple and was now in his holy temple. Eight days later, or the first day after the full consecration of high priest Aaron and his underpriest sons, they themselves performed their first sacrifices for themselves and for the nation of Israel. At the climax another sign from heaven occurred: “Aaron raised his hands toward the people and blessed them and came down from rendering the sin offering and the burnt offering and the communion offerings. Finally Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting and came out and blessed the people. Then Jehovah’s glory appeared to all the people, and fire came out from before Jehovah and began consuming the burnt offering and the fatty pieces upon the altar. When all the people got to see it, they broke out into shouting and went falling upon their faces.” That divine acceptance of the sacrifices offered by Aaron and his sons was a proof that Jehovah had accepted their consecration to the priesthood according to his covenant with Levi. The cloud that rested above the tabernacle served as a sign that Jehovah was in his holy temple.—Lev. 9:22-24, 1, NW; Ex. 40:1, 12-17, 31, 32, 36, 38.
6 Thirty-nine years afterward, when the nation of Israel crossed the Jordan River and took up residence in the Promised Land, it was no longer necessary for the tabernacle to be moved about with a wandering people, and the pillar of cloud disappeared from over the tabernacle. However, Jehovah’s presence in his holy temple was symbolized by he ark of his covenant, the sacred chest that had two golden cherubs on top and that contained holy articles inside. This ark was put in the innermost room or Most Holy of the tabernacle, and above the cover of the chest there appeared a miraculous light. “In a cloud I shall appear over the cover,” said Jehovah. (Lev. 16:2, NW) Hence “whenever Moses went into the tent of meeting to speak with him, then he would hear the voice conversing with him from above the cover which was upon the Ark of the testimony, from between the two cherubs [upon the cover].” (Num. 7:89, NW) Every year on Atonement Day the high priest would go in and sprinkle atonement blood before the Ark, thus appearing before Jehovah’s presence in the Most Holy.—Heb. 9:7.
7, 8. Upon completion of the temple built by Solomon how was Jehovah’s presence there visibly indicated?
7 After 446 years of service in the Promised Land, the tabernacle or tent of meeting was replaced by a temple of wood, stone and precious metals and gems upon Mount Moriah in Jerusalem. King Solomon, the son of David, took over seven years to build it. On the day of inaugurating the glorious new temple, the time came to bring the symbol of Jehovah’s presence into the innermost room of this gorgeous building. Of this we read: “Then the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of Jehovah to its place, to the innermost room of the house, the Most Holy.” Then what happened? “And it came about that when the priests came out from the holy place the cloud itself filled the house of Jehovah. And the priests were unable to stand to do their ministering because of the cloud, for the glory of Jehovah filled the house of Jehovah.” More so than the depositing of the ark of the covenant in the innermost room, that miraculous cloud betokened that Jehovah had come and was in his holy temple. Still, by both tokens, by the Ark in the innermost room and by the glory cloud that filled the sacred palace, Jehovah’s presence was visibly symbolized.—1 Ki. 8:6, 7, 9-11, NW.
8 Then King Solomon acknowledged Jehovah’s faithfulness and blessed all the people present there at the temple. Standing now before the great altar upon which were laid animal sacrifices to God, Solomon offered a long prayer, making petitions in behalf of Jehovah’s chosen people and also future worshipers from foreign lands. Jehovah then gave evidence that he had heard Solomon’s prayer. “Now as soon as Solʹo·mon finished praying, the fire itself came down from the heavens and proceeded to consume the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and Jehovah’s glory itself filled the house. And the priests were unable to enter into the house of Jehovah because Jehovah’s glory had filled the house of Jehovah. And all the sons of Israel were spectators when the fire came down and the glory of Jehovah was upon the house, and they immediately bowed low with their faces to the earth upon the pavement and prostrated themselves and thanked Jehovah, ‘for he is good, for his loving-kindness is forever.’” (2 Chron. 7:1-3, NW) The fire from heaven that kindled the wood in the new altar and that consumed the sacrifices on it showed that Jehovah had accepted the temple and its altar. It showed he approved of the transfer of his worship from the old tabernacle to this sacred palace on Mount Moriah. He was now present in this temple as he had been in the tabernacle.
9. In what other ways was Jehovah’s presence at Solomon’s temple manifested?
9 Not that Jehovah was literally present in that material temple, any more than he was bodily present in the less pretentious tabernacle built by Moses. Neither that temple nor that tabernacle could contain the great God of the universe. Solomon himself confessed that fact at the temple’s inauguration, saying in his prayer: “But will God truly dwell with mankind upon the earth? Look! heaven, yes, the heaven of the heavens themselves, cannot contain you; how much less, then, this house that I have built?” (2 Chron. 6:18, NW) Jehovah was present in that holy temple on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem only by sending forth his power from his heavenly throne and making its operation visible at the temple by the glory cloud and by the fire from the sky. He was also present in that temple by keeping his attention fixed upon it and by answering prayers that were offered there or that were directed there by believers who prayed with their faces toward it. As Solomon himself said in his inauguration prayer: “You must turn toward the prayer of your servant and to his request for favor, O Jehovah my God, by listening to the cry of joy and to the prayer with which your servant is praying before you, that your eyes may prove to be opened toward this house day and night, toward the place where you said you would put your name, by listening to the prayer with which your servant prays toward this place.” (2 Chron. 6:19, 20, NW) And as Jehovah himself said to Solomon later at Gibeon: “I have sanctified this house that you have built by putting my name there to time indefinite, and my eyes and my heart will certainly prove to be there always.”—1 Ki. 9:3, NW.
THE LORD (HA-A·DONʹ) COMES TO HIS TEMPLE
10. When and why was Jehovah’s presence withdrawn from the temple built by Solomon, and with what result?
10 The time came when Jehovah withdrew his presence from that temple of Solomon because the priests and Levites willfully kept on polluting the “covenant of Levi” and the nation of Israel broke all the laws of Jehovah’s covenant with them. With his presence gone that temple became subject to destruction by the Babylonian armies in 607 B.C. and some survivors of the temple-polluting nation were carried off captive to Babylon. Seventy years later, because a faithful remnant prayed toward the location of the former temple at Jerusalem and showed a heartfelt desire to renew the pure worship there, Jehovah delivered them from captivity to Babylon. He brought them back to Judah and Jerusalem to rebuild the temple and restore divine worship there in its purity. Under governor Zerubbabel and high priest Jeshua the temple and its altar were rebuilt and Jehovah’s worship was renewed on its old site. That temple built by the repentant and restored remnant proved to be not nearly so glorious outwardly as Solomon’s temple. Nevertheless, it was in connection with this rebuilt temple of the restored remnant that Jehovah God caused the last prophecy before the Christian era to be uttered by Malachi, including this remarkable statement: “Behold I send my messenger [or, angel], and he shall prepare the way before me; and the Lord whom ye seek will suddenly come to his temple, and the Angel of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he cometh, saith Jehovah of hosts.”—Mal. 3:1, Da.
11. In what respects did the temple rebuilt at Jerusalem by Zerubbabel differ from Solomon’s temple?
11 That temple rebuilt by the remnant under governor Zerubbabel did not have in its innermost room or Most Holy the ark of Jehovah’s covenant. At its inauguration in 516 B.C. no glory cloud had filled it; no fire came down from heaven and devoured the sacrifices on the altar. Yet God’s presence had been resumed at that temple and his pure worship had been restored as in Moses’ days.
12-14. Why was sudden coming of Jehovah to his temple predicted, and when did it occur?
12 Why, then, did Malachi, about seventy years later, say that “the Lord [ha-A·dōnʹ] whom ye seek will suddenly come to his temple, and the Angel of the covenant, whom ye delight in”? It was because in the meantime the temple priesthood had become disrespectful of Jehovah’s altar and service and had polluted his covenant with Levi. Moreover, because the priests failed in their God-given duties, the people had grown materialistic. They questioned whether it was worthwhile to worship and serve Jehovah and whether he was really present at his temple paying attention to what was going on under the cloak of religious hypocrisy. They were making God feel tired at their saying over and over again: “Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of Jehovah, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?” (Mal. 2:17, Da) If he got tired of hearing such disrespectful, defiant talk, ought he not at last to do something about it, acting with suddenness? Yes. Were they asking: “Where is the God of judgment?” Well, then, let them know where he is when he suddenly comes to his temple for judgment work.
13 The Lord, whom they pretended to seek and who suddenly comes to his temple, is Jehovah God himself. He is The A·dōnʹ (Hebrew) or the Master to whom the temple belongs and whose name is on it and who comes to the place where he is supposed to be worshiped. But when he comes this time he comes, not alone, but accompanied by “the Angel of the covenant.” Because of the severity of the judgment that would take place after he came with his Angel of the covenant, Jehovah promised that he would mercifully send his messenger and this one would prepare the way before him. If conditions were not prepared among his temple worshipers before his arrival at the temple, then the entire nation would be in danger of being wiped out like Sodom and Gomorrah, baptized by fire from heaven.
14 This prophecy of the Lord Jehovah’s coming to his temple with his Angel of the covenant was not fulfilled upon Zerubbabel’s temple. However, Zerubbabel’s temple was replaced by a grander temple built by the Edomite Herod the Great when he became king over Judah and Jerusalem by Rome’s decree. Upon this temple a fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy did come, and that with a special foreshadowing of events of our own day in this twentieth century.
15, 16. (a) How did the temple’s Lord, Jehovah, suddenly come to it after the preparatory work by John the Baptist? (b) By whom and when was Jehovah’s judgment at the temple expressed?
15 Jesus Christ himself pointed out who the preparatory messenger was in his time, namely, John the Baptist, who had finished his work and who was then in prison soon to be beheaded: “This is he concerning whom it is written, ‘Here I am, sending forth my messenger before you, to prepare your way ahead of you!’” (Matt. 11:10, NW) John began his preaching, and baptizing about six months in advance of Jesus and prepared a small remnant of Israelites to receive him. That fact did not mean that Jesus was the Lord who suddenly comes to his temple. Jesus is not Jehovah the Lord of the temple. He is Jehovah’s “Angel of the covenant” who accompanies him to the temple; and that covenant is the covenant that Jehovah made with faithful Abraham, saying: “By means of your seed [or, offspring] all nations of the earth will certainly bless themselves.” (Gen. 22:18, NW) Since the preparatory messenger had come, it was therefore in Jesus’ day that the Lord Jehovah was to come suddenly to the temple to show where the God of judgment is. Not that the Lord Jehovah had to come personally and visibly to the temple, any more so than he came visibly to the tabernacle in the wilderness of Mount Sinai or visibly to Solomon’s temple at Jerusalem. But Jesus Christ his Angel of the covenant of blessing did come visibly to Jehovah’s temple back there. He came as the visible representative of the Lord Jehovah, and by putting his spirit on Jesus Jehovah was with him in coming to that temple at Jerusalem in 33 (A.D.).
16 After his baptism by John in the Jordan River Jesus received a spiritual begetting when Jehovah’s voice came from heaven, saying: “This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved,” and he was anointed to be king by the descending of Jehovah’s spirit upon him as symbolized by a descending dove. (Matt. 3:13-17, NW) Three and a half years afterward Jesus rode like a king on coronation day into the royal city of Jerusalem. To the temple he went, but he was not received by the high priest and anointed to be king of the Jews and then hailed by all the priests and Levites. No, they were polluters of the covenant of Levi; they did not accept Jehovah’s great sacrificial Lamb for the sins of mankind and the law of truth was not in their mouths. They objected indignantly to many boys in the temple hailing Jesus and crying out: “Save, we pray, the Son of David!” (Matt. 21:15, 16, NW) Since they did not do so, it took Jesus, not those priests and Levites, to drive the money changers and the bird and animal sellers out of the temple and to say: “Is it not written [at Isaiah 56:7], ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a cave of robbers.” (Mark 11:15-17, NW) Those were Jehovah’s words that Jesus there quoted, and Jehovah was thus with his Angel of the covenant in this expression of judgment at the temple, cleansing it at least of this religious commercialism.
17, 18. How, within days afterward, were more expressions of Jehovah’s judgment given at Jerusalem’s temple?
17 One day later Jesus declared that Jehovah was abandoning or withdrawing his presence from the temple, saying to the scribes and Pharisees and people of Jerusalem: “Look! your house is abandoned to you.” Leaving no mistake about it that this meant a destruction of Herod’s temple like the destruction of Solomon’s temple by the Babylonians in 607 B.C., Jesus said to his disciples while sight-seeing through the temple: “Do you not behold all these things? Truly I say to you, By no means will a stone be left here upon a stone and not be thrown down.” (Matt. 23:38; 24:1, 2, NW) Two days later the priestly polluters of the covenant of Levi, in effect, said, “Where is the God of judgment?’” and they handed over God’s Angel of the covenant to the uncircumcised Romans to be executed in public disgrace on a tree like a criminal slave.
18 The God of judgment saw that when these priests and Levites would go back to their duties at the temple it would be with their hands reddened with the blood of his Angel of the covenant. So when his dying Angel of the covenant gasped out his last words, “It has been accomplished!” “Father, into your hands I entrust my spirit,” then Jehovah himself came to the temple, by his power aimed directly at its Most Holy. No, not by a glory cloud filling the house, not by fire from heaven miraculously consuming the animal sacrifices on the temple altar, no, but by causing the earth under the temple city to quake and the rock-masses to be split and by hiding the sun from shining on the temple and by ripping the curtain of the sanctuary down the middle, rending it like tissue paper from its thirty-foot-high top down to its bottom, although it was a double curtain and inches thick, exposing the innermost room as being bare of the ark of the covenant.—Matt. 27:50, 51; John 19:30; Luke 23:45, 46, NW.
THE REAL TEMPLE OF HIS PRESENCE
19. When and how was Jehovah’s total and final abandonment of the typical temple manifested?
19 Thirty-seven years more and not only the innermost room but also the whole temple of Jerusalem was invaded, by fire kindled by the conquering Romans, and the building was razed to the ground, not a stone being left upon a stone, in fulfillment of Jesus’ words. The 97,000 Jewish survivors of the four-month siege of Jerusalem “were led captive into all the nations,” the city was demolished, the family records of the priests and Levites and royal family were destroyed or lost, and the natural Jews throughout the earth were left without a temple and an acting, identifiable priesthood. In truth their sacred house had been abandoned to them by Jehovah.
20. With what was Jerusalem’s razed material temple replaced?
20 But was Jehovah left without a temple? Could he nevermore be present in his holy temple? No, for he had replaced the perishable material temple on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem with an enduring, spiritual temple. On the third day after he ripped the sanctuary curtain from top to bottom Jehovah God raised up the “foundation cornerstone” of his spiritual temple. How? God Almighty did this by resurrecting his Son, his Angel of the covenant, from the dead to life in the heavens. In accord with his sworn oath Jehovah raised him up as a royal priest like Melchizedek but having the divine nature. Because of the human sacrifice that he had laid down as such a priest, Jesus Christ was now Jehovah’s royal High Priest, possessing the merit of a sacrifice by means of which he could make atonement for mankind’s sins and act as a Mediator between God and men. By means of holy spirit Jehovah God dwelt in Jesus the living “foundation cornerstone” of the spiritual temple and God no longer needed the dead-stone material temple at Jerusalem.
21, 22. Who are the spiritual temple’s Foundation Cornerstone and “living stones”?
21 Forty days from then Jesus Christ ascended to his Father’s heavenly throne, taking along the life value of his human sacrifice. Jehovah God accepted it and also laid his High Priest on the heavenly Mount Moriah or Mount Zion as the “precious” “foundation cornerstone.” Since the glorified Jesus was merely the foundation cornerstone, it is manifest that Jehovah God did not purpose to use Jesus alone as his living spiritual temple. So on the day of Pentecost, just ten days afterward, Jehovah began to rear his spiritual temple upon Jesus the living Foundation Cornerstone. He used Jesus the High Priest to do the building of this spiritual house as an antitypical Solomon. Hence at Pentecost Jehovah God begot Jesus’ faithful apostles and other disciples on earth with the holy spirit to make them his spiritual sons. Then through Jesus he poured out his holy spirit upon them to anoint them as members of a “royal priesthood” under Jesus Christ the High Priest. He made them “living stones” to be laid upon Jesus the Foundation Cornerstone.
22 Hence the apostle Peter says to all anointed Christians: “Coming to him as to a living stone, rejected, it is true, by men, but chosen, precious, with God, you yourselves also as living stones are being built up a spiritual house for the purpose of a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it is contained in Scripture: ‘Look! I am laying in Zion a stone, chosen, a foundation cornerstone, precious’ . . . you are ‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for special possession, that you should declare abroad the excellencies’ of the one that called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”—1 Pet. 2:4-6, 9, NW; Acts 2:1-36.
23. For what purpose is the spiritual temple built?
23 So from the day of Pentecost forward Jehovah has been dwelling in his holy spiritual temple of “living stones.” Through the apostle Paul he says to these priestly Christians: “Do you not know that you people are God’s temple and that the spirit of God dwells in you?” “Christ Jesus himself is the foundation cornerstone. In union with him the whole building, being harmoniously joined together, is growing into a holy temple for Jehovah. In union with him you, too, are being built up together into a place for God to inhabit by spirit.”—1 Cor. 3:16 and Eph. 2:20-22, NW.
24. (a) After the apostles’ death why was progressing building of the spiritual temple no longer seen among humans? (b) During the past century what change has occurred as to the temple’s “living stones”?
24 By the end of the first century Christ’s twelve apostles had died. Soon the building and growth of that spiritual temple was lost to view because of a falling away from the pure temple faith. It came to be as when the Jews were captive in Babylon while Jerusalem was in ruins and Jehovah had no temple on earth in which to dwell by his spirit. Of course, Jehovah has always dwelt in the temple’s Foundation Cornerstone, Jesus Christ, in heaven by means of his spirit; but the “living stones” on earth were long lost to view and practically unidentifiable. But shortly after 1870, or some eighty years ago, they began to come to view again, for these truths of the spiritual temple began to be recovered and applied and God’s spirit was seen in action for producing the final remnant of 144,000 “living stones” of the “spiritual house.” The “Modern History of Jehovah’s Witnesses,” published in the columns of The Watchtower since the beginning of 1955, gives the details on this.
25, 26. How, for finally fulfilling Malachi’s prophecy, has Jehovah suddenly come to his spiritual temple?
25 But alongside this remnant of spiritual “living stones” the worldly religious systems of Christendom have claimed to be the house of God, his true temple, although they have still continued fallen away from the temple faith and have no evidence of Jehovah’s dwelling in them by his spirit. They were tiring or wearying Jehovah God by their religious talk, saying that evildoers were good and delightsome in God’s sight. So the question was forced to the front, “Where is the God of judgment?” More and more the circumstances were calling for an event of world-wide religious importance to take place in fulfillment of prophecy. What was it? This: the sudden coming of the Lord Jehovah lo his true, spiritual temple accompanied by his Angel of the covenant, in a final fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy, closing it.
26 Has the Lord Jehovah now come to his spiritual temple with his Angel of the covenant? Christendom says No! But that is because he has come suddenly and has caught Christendom red-handed in her unchristian acts. She no more appreciates Jehovah’s coming with his covenant Angel than the temple-polluting priests and Levites appreciated the meaning of Jesus’ coming to the temple and cleansing the religious courts of thievish exploiters of religion. Back there Jesus came and did that three and a half years after his baptism, spirit-begetting and anointing at the Jordan. Down here Jesus came and began the cleansing in the spring of 1918 three and a half years after the birth of God’s kingdom in 1914 and the heavenly enthronement of Jesus Christ as reigning King then.
27. Despite Christendom’s claims, what his perceptibly become her attitude since 1914 toward Jehovah’s enthroned Christ?
27 Let Christendom deny that 1918 is the date of the Lord Jehovah’s sudden coming to his spiritual temple as the God of judgment, accompanied by his Angel of the covenant Jesus Christ. Nonetheless, the time of judgment is here upon all who claim to be God’s house, whether truthfully so or falsely, and judgment has been in progress since the spring of 1918 onward. So it is proper to ask the questions of Malachi’s prophecy: “But who shall endure the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth?” Today, after these thirty-seven years since 1918, Christendom shows that she will not endure and stand as the professed house of God, for Jehovah’s Angel of the covenant is like a “refiner’s fire” and like “fullers’ lye.” (Mal. 3:2, Da) Christendom cannot accept the real Christ in his kingly, priestly role today since the Kingdom’s birth in 1914. He is too hot for her, too much of a cleanser for her. There is no precious metal in her; she is all burnable stuff. There is no good fabric in her; she is all dirt to be cleared away with alkali. At Armageddon the execution of the Lord Jehovah’s judgment from his true spiritual temple will bring that to light.
28, 29. (a) Who now willingly subject themselves to Jehovah’s fiery judgments, and for what purpose? (b) Spiritual sacrifices by such cleansed ones include what?
28 But who is it that has been able to face this day of his coming to the temple with his covenant Angel and to endure it? It is those who have sincerely been seeking Jehovah; it is those who truly delight in his Angel of the covenant and love his appearing. It is those who have been the only ones to call attention to the fact of his coming and presence at the temple with his Angel of the covenant. It is Jehovah’s witnesses. These are the ones that have shown a willingness to subject themselves to Jehovah’s judgments through Christ, no matter how fiery, no matter how bleaching, and to endure a cleaning up in their doctrine, organization and activity.
29 Says Jehovah through Malachi (3:3, AS): “And he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi, and refine them as gold and silver; and they shall offer unto Jehovah offerings in righteousness.” The ancient sons of Levi were temple servants and guardians and offerers of the sacrifices. So the antitypical “sons of Levi” of today are the remnant of the “living stones” of the spiritual temple. They are the remnant of the “royal priesthood” under the High Priest Jesus Christ who must offer “spiritual sacrifices” of praise and good works toward God and who must notify others of Christ’s sacrifice for sins. Until the Lord’s coming with his covenant Angel to the temple in 1918 there was considerable faultiness about their “spiritual sacrifices” that was not worthy of God’s altar, and their organization was not altogether clean. But after World War I closed in 1918, they underwent a fiery purification in order to “offer unto Jehovah offerings in righteousness.” All the world has now become aware of their offering “spiritual sacrifices” in righteousness since 1918, for the greatest offering by this remnant of antitypical “sons of Levi” has been their preaching in obedience to the prophetic command of Matthew 24:14 (NW), the preaching of “this good news” of God’s kingdom established in 1914. To all the inhabited earth they have endeavored to extend this preaching for a witness to all the nations before Satan’s kingdom ends completely at Armageddon. Within thirty years’ time since 1918 the Angel Refiner at the temple has fierily refined the preaching organization to make it theocratic in its structure and way of operation. As a result the remnant has returned to the apostolic way of “days of old,” “as in ancient years,” all of which is “pleasant unto Jehovah.”—Mal. 3:4, AS.
30. (a) In our time what blameworthy conduct of spiritual “sons of Levi” provoked Jehovah’s anger? (b) On the turning away of his anger from them, what good effects followed?
30 Sad to relate, during World War I the priestly remnant, the antitypical “sons of Levi,” were guilty of corrupting the “covenant of Levi” by a defiling compromise with this world, so that Jehovah was “angry” with them. (Isa. 12:1) But since 1919 the Angel Refiner at the temple has purified them to be like precious metals. He has delivered them from worldly Babylon and ordered them as ‘bearers of the vessels of Jehovah’ no more to touch the unclean things of Babylon. (Isa. 52:11) They have since realized that the “covenant of Levi” calls for them to be the “messenger of Jehovah of hosts,” to keep knowledge upon their lips, to hold the law of truth in their mouth, to walk with God in peace and uprightness and to turn many away from iniquity. To do this they realized that they had to be witnesses of Jehovah and to proclaim the Kingdom truths. In recognition of that fact, they courageously embraced in 1931 the name “Jehovah’s witnesses.” They know now that the “covenant of Levi” calls for a clean priesthood, one that approves of no fornication or adultery either spiritual or physical, a priesthood rendering exclusive devotion to God and proving this by keeping his worship at the temple pure and clean and unhypocritical. Like the landless Levites of old, they know that Jehovah is their inheritance and that their hope is the heavenly kingdom and so they must keep their minds fixed on the things above. (Col. 3:1, 2, NW) Hence with all conscientiousness they now try to keep the “covenant of Levi.” They insist on maintaining right worship in the New World society.
A “SWIFT WITNESS”
31, 32. For what benevolent end has Jehovah up to now become “a swift witness” against wrong practices among spiritual “sons of Jacob”?
31 To purify his people Jehovah God tells us the things that he will be against when he comes and is present in his holy temple for judgment and for a purge of religion. “And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against the false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the sojourner [the resident alien] from his right, and fear not me, saith Jehovah of hosts. For I, Jehovah, change not; therefore ye, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.”—Mal. 3:5, 6, AS; AT.
32 From his coming to his temple until Armageddon only a “short period of time” is allowed and hence, to save his spiritual Israel or spiritual “sons of Jacob” from being consumed in that universal war, Jehovah has had to be a swift witness in exposing wrongdoing and in purifying the repentant wrongdoers. In being a swift witness against the sorcerers he has in 1920, in 1934 and in 1955 given us three powerful booklets exposing spiritism. He has also unmasked the so-called “wise men from the east” who came to visit the babe Jesus as being mere astrologers, unwitting tools used by the ruler of the demons to incite King Herod to try to kill Jesus. He has also exposed the great Pyramid of Giza as being, not “God’s stone witness” or “the Bible in stone,” but a monument of demonism to glorify belief in immortality of the soul or “survival after death.”
33. How has Jehovah’s becoming “a swift witness” affected the unclean and those who dedicated themselves and then failed to live up to such dedication?
33 With swiftness Jehovah at his temple has also witnessed against those guilty of adultery or moral uncleanness bodily or spiritually and unscriptural divorces. He has taught his people to take an unadulterous position of neutrality toward all the political and military conflicts of this world. He has witnessed against the perjurers, or those who have sworn falsely, especially the “evil slave” class, those who have sworn to God and have confirmed it, “that I will observe thy righteous ordinances,” and yet have proved false by not carrying out their dedication to God to do his will. Since false swearers are like hypocrites, Jehovah by his covenant Angel has cast the “evil slave” class out of his organization and has withheld further spiritual light from them.—Ps. 119:106, AS; Matt. 24:48-51, NW.
34, 35. By what several means has Jehovah satisfied both bodily and spiritual needs of what numerous kinds of dependent ones?
34 By unfolding his Word and rearranging his organization to take merciful consideration of all the lowly, Jehovah has testified against those who oppress the dependent classes, the hired person who rightly looks for his wage, and the widow, especially the childless one, and the orphan or fatherless boy who is responsible for keeping alive the family name. Jehovah now sees to it that these are helped according to their bodily needs and especially their spiritual needs, that they may enjoy a full spiritual life, participating in all the spiritual provisions of his people. He has taught the strong to bear the burdens of the dependent weak.
35 Besides that, Jehovah has thought of more persons than just his spiritual Israel, his spiritual “sons of Jacob.” He has also thought of the far larger multitude of sheeplike people not spiritual Israelites. With the execution of fiery judgment at the appalling battle of Armageddon rapidly approaching, Jehovah the Great Shepherd feels for these sheeplike ones. Just because they are not spiritual Israelites is no reason for letting them perish. His own spiritual Israel were once like them, needing mercy. So Jehovah allows or concedes to these other sheeplike ones the right to an opportunity to gain life in his new world. They were pictured by the sojourners, the temporary residents or alien residents in Israel whom Jehovah loved. “For Jehovah your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, mighty and fear-inspiring God, who treats none with partiality nor accepts a bribe, executing judgment for the fatherless boy and the widow and loving the temporary resident so as to give him bread and clothing. You, too, must love the temporary resident.”—Deut. 10:17-19, NW.
36. From 1918 onward, by what several other distinct provisions has Jehovah kept on bringing refreshment and understanding to millions “who sigh and groan” because of the city Christendom’s abominations?
36 Indignant against any wrongdoing toward these, Jehovah at his temple has been a swift witness against persons “that turn aside the sojourner [or, temporary resident] from his right.” (Mal. 3:5, AS) Stirring up increasing interest in them, Jehovah caused to be preached from 1918 onward the startling public message “Millions Now Living Will Never Die,” and in 1923 he provided the interpretation of “the parable of the sheep and the goats.” (Matt. 25:31-46) He showed the righteous earthly ones to be “other sheep” whom his Right Shepherd must gather into the fold to make them “one flock” with spiritual Israelite sheep under “one Shepherd.” (The Watch Tower, Oct. 15, 1923, page 310) Then in his due time Jehovah showed his gathered remnant that they must give full attention to this other sheeplike class, for in 1931 he revealed that the remnant must act like the prophetic man “clothed in linen, with a writer’s inkhorn by his side.” They must mark these depressed sheeplike ones in their foreheads that these might be spared by Jehovah’s executioners at Armageddon. Since now Jehovah has ordered that these be marked in the forehead, then if we refuse to do marking work, we are turning aside the antitypical sojourner or temporary resident from his right. If we do so, then woe to us! Jehovah is still in his holy temple to act as a swift witness and show up the lovelessness of any who refuse to concern themselves about these sheep and get busy in the witness work of marking their foreheads.—Ezek. 9:1-4.
“A HOUSE OF PRAYER FOR ALL PEOPLES”
37, 38. (a) Acting judicially, how since 1918 has Jehovah diffused earth-wide his teaching about genuine worship, among those willing to cease to “learn war any more”? (b) In what rank have the ‘purified sons of Levi’ continuingly kept their offering of “spiritual sacrifices”?
37 Since Jehovah is now in his holy spiritual temple for judgment work, Isaiah’s prophecy has been undergoing fulfillment: “And it shall come to pass in the latter days, that the mountain of Jehovah’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many peoples shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem. And he will judge [from his temple] between the nations, and will decide concerning many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.” (Isa. 2:2-4, AS) In ancient times it was a custom to worship on high places. Jehovah was worshiped on a notably high place, on his “holy mountain,” Mount Moriah, over 2,400 feet above the Mediterranean Sea and 3,800 feet above the level of the Dead Sea. There his “house” or temple stood, exalted.
38 By putting his name upon his remnant of the spiritual temple and by sending them forth to be his witnesses Jehovah has caused his name to be most highly exalted in all the earth in these “latter days.” Because of keeping the “covenant of Levi” and rendering exclusive devotion to Jehovah the temple remnant have put his purified worship supreme over everything else, specializing upon it as being of first importance according to their priestly obligations. No nation, no government, has a right to interfere with it, and in a conflict between worshiping Jehovah and obeying human rulers who oppose him the temple remnant put Jehovah’s worship on top and firmly keep their service places in his temple, giving first to God what belongs to God. (Matt. 22:21) They have refused to quit offering their “spiritual sacrifices” of praising God and preaching the good news of his established, triumphant kingdom.
39. (a) By whom and why have such noble acts of Jehovah’s genuine worshipers been resented? (b) High requirements of Jehovah’s worship were how comparably symbolized in ancient time?
39 This faithfulness to Jehovah’s worship before all the world has exalted the “house of Jehovah,” the house of his worship, before all the nations. The patriotic worldlings have resented this putting Jehovah’s worship, his house, above all worldly governments and allegiances and other religions. But the sheeplike people of all the nations appreciated this illustration of the supremacy of Jehovah’s worship. From the temple remnant they learn to put his worship topmost in their lives and let it dominate even over all the mountainlike systems of Satan’s world. As Solomon’s temple on Mount Moriah, more than 2,400 feet above the Mediterranean, was higher than the pagan temples of the capital cities of Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome, so Jehovah’s worship is higher than all the Devil’s visible organization. That is the lofty elevation that the sheeplike ones of all nations assign to it in their lives. Therefore they accept Jehovah’s judgments and decisions from his supreme temple. They leave the Devil’s world and its religio-political mountains and their wars and weapons of war, and they ascend the “mountain of Jehovah’s house” to worship him there on this ‘beautiful elevation’ above this debased world and its demon worship. (Ps. 48:1, 2) They try to measure up to the high requirements of his worship. They dedicate themselves to him through his High Priest Jesus Christ. They recognize that their obligation to worship him at his house is higher than all allegiances to the mountainlike powers of this doomed old world.
40. Why rightly are good listening habits formed now by many who now reside temporarily among remaining members of the spiritual “Israel of God”?
40 Getting to see that Jehovah is in his holy temple, these sheeplike ones reverently keep silent, for their expectation in coming up to the “house of the God of Jacob” is that “he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths.” So they listen to hear his law that goes forth out of his heavenly Zion and his word that goes forth from his capital organization Heavenly Jerusalem. Then they walk in his paths, becoming members of his New World society. They become “temporary residents” among spiritual Israelites.
41. (a) What unique ‘right of the stranger’ must all genuine worshipers of Jehovah now recognize and maintain? (b) What today is the deep import of Jesus’ quoting from Isaiah (56:7) upon his coming to and cleansing Jerusalem’s last pictorial temple?
41 Today it is the hope of these other sheeplike ones to survive Armageddon into God’s new world. In this short remaining time till Armageddon it is the due right of the non-Israelite sheep from all nations to come up to the exalted “house of the God of Jacob” to worship Jehovah there and gain salvation. Instead of doing anything to ‘turn them aside from their right,’ let us do everything in obedience to God to direct and help them to their right. When Jesus as the Angel of the covenant came to the temple in 33 (A.D.) and cleansed it of being a “cave of robbers” he said to those robbers: “Is it not written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all the nations’?” (Mark 11:17, NW) Today, this same Angel of the covenant at the spiritual temple asks the same question, “Is it not written?” Yes; and because it is so written for our time, it is now the decree of Jehovah God that his holy temple shall be a house of prayer for all peoples, for all the nations At the temple inauguration on Mount Moriah and after Jehovah came to the temple and filled it with the glory cloud of his presence, King Solomon prayed that it might be such a house of international prayer, for in his seven petitions Solomon included one for the foreigner that comes from a distant land by reason of Jehovah’s name.—1 Ki. 8:41-43.
42. Why now is unity among all genuine worshipers of Jehovah of prime importance?
42 Are you a member of the remnant? Then do not think that since these other sheep are not spiritual Israelites with a heavenly inheritance they have no right to enter the court of the spiritual temple to worship Jehovah through his High Priest Jesus. Or, are you an antitypical foreigner from a distant country? Then do not think that because you are not of the remnant you must be separated from Jehovah’s witnesses and cannot be given recognition among the New World society, even if you join yourself to Jehovah in dedication. That is not Jehovah’s line of thinking at all now when his salvation by his established kingdom is very near. Says Jehovah concerning all the other sheeplike ones today who come from all the nations foreign to spiritual Israel: “Neither let the foreigner, that hath joined himself to Jehovah, speak, saying, Jehovah will surely separate me from his people; . . . Also the foreigners that join themselves to Jehovah, to minister unto him, and to love the name of Jehovah, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from profaning it, and holdeth fast my covenant; even them will I bring to my holy mountain [on top of which the temple is], and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt-offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples. The Lord Jehovah, who gathereth the outcasts of Israel, saith, Yet will I gather others to him, besides his own that are gathered.”—Isa. 56:3, 6-8, AS.
43, 44. (a) Since 1919, persistently attempted hindrances by whom have failed utterly to prevent what worldwide gathering work by Jehovah? (b) What divinely foretold sounds and sights today keep on synchronizing with that progressively increasing gathering work?
43 From 1919 on down to particularly 1931 Jehovah gathered the remnant of spiritual Israelites who were outcasts in bondage to the Babylonish world. Since then he has been gathering others to himself at his temple besides his own Israelite remnant that has been gathered. He has been doing the gathering of these others. Who has up till now been able to hinder him? The “evil slave” class? Christendom’s clergy and their flocks? Political dictators, radical governments, totalitarian governments or other political powers of this world? Satan the Devil and his demons? No, but today the active membership of the New World society at Jehovah’s temple has swelled to 608,000 witnesses around 17,000 of the temple remnant. It is Jehovah’s happy pleasure in this day to make these antitypical “foreigners,” these other sheep, “joyful in my house of prayer.” Has he made them happy in his worship? Ah yes! The holy “mountain of Jehovah’s house” rings with their outcries of happiness as they offer through his High Priest their spiritual “burnt offerings” and “sacrifices” upon his altar and as he evidences acceptance of these by blessing them in his service, his witness work.
44 Nineteen centuries ago the High Priest Jesus Christ gave a vision to the apostle John, in which John beheld that “great crowd” of “foreigners” from all nations, in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, gathered at the temple, there hailing Jehovah and his self-sacrificing Son and ascribing their own salvation to these and serving Jehovah day and night in his temple. What an ecstatic experience for John to see that in vision! Yes, but what a soul-stirring experience for us here today to see it in glorious actuality!—Rev. 7:9-15.
45. Unified genuine worship of Jehovah at his spiritual house of prayer now is being shared by whom, how, and with what happy prospects, in fulfillment of God-given predictions?
45 Still exercising divine patience for salvation of sheeplike people, Jehovah is not yet through gathering them to his house of prayer for all the nations. Shall we, then, be one with him and his Right Shepherd in this work? Yes, by “working together with him,” by keeping on preaching the good news of the triumphant Kingdom and carrying on all the educational work by which the sheep-gathering is done. Let us aid the sheeplike foreigners to see the vital need and opportunity now to “join themselves to Jehovah, to minister unto him, and to love the name of Jehovah, to be his servants,” to keep his antitypical sabbath by not profaning it with egotistical works of self-righteousness trying to save themselves their own way, but to hold fast Jehovah’s new covenant by accepting its temple, its priesthood, its mediatorship, its sacrifices for forgiveness of sins, and its education in the knowledge of Jehovah for the least as well as the greatest. (Jer. 31:31-34) If we do this, then we shall be found, not ‘turning aside the sojourner or foreigner from his right,’ but loving him as ourselves. Hence at Armageddon Jehovah in his holy temple will not be a swift witness against us with an execution of fiery judgment but will approve of us and spare us to carry on his joyful worship through Armageddon and on into his own new world.