Reading the Meaning of the Signs and Wonders
1. For one to be what kind of sign is it a privilege, and how did Isaiah describe such a sign?
IT IS a joyful privilege for anyone to be a sign of something that is lastingly good. To people who have a right set of values, a person who serves as such a sign is someone handsome, someone welcome and worthy of a hearty reception. So, then, a messenger who brings good news about the true worship of Jehovah God and about the re-establishment of his theocratic organization in the earth would be a handsome sign. Through his prophet Isaiah Jehovah God described such a messenger as due to appear shortly after World War I ended, while his witnesses were yet lying in captivity to the war-mad nations of this world. He said: “‘For that reason my people will know my name, even for that reason in that day, because I am the One that is speaking. Look! It is I.’ How handsome upon the mountains are the feet of the one bringing good news, the one making peace to be heard, the one bringing good news of something better, the one making salvation to be heard, the one saying to Zion: ‘Your God has become king!’ Listen! your own watchmen have raised their voice. In unison they keep crying out joyfully, for it will be face to face that they will see when Jehovah comes back to Zion. Become cheerful, cry out joyfully in unison, you devastated places of Jerusalem, for Jehovah has comforted his people; he has repurchased Jerusalem.”—Isa. 52:6-9.
2. Who saw this messenger upon the heights, and how was it that they saw Jehovah as it were “face to face”?
2 Those who were on the watch for the interests of God’s organization Zion saw the messenger as he came up upon the heights. They rejoiced to hear him call out to God’s organization, Zion: “Your God has become king!” His kingdom is established in the heavens in the hands of Immanuel, Jesus Christ. That is the reason why he has now brought deliverance to us. That is the reason why he has returned to us with favor. At the abundant evidence of Jehovah’s returning favor it is as if the watchmen saw him face to face in his coming back to Zion, to his organization upon which he has placed his holy name. They have reason to cry out for all men to hear.
3, 4. (a) With what was that messenger equipped, and who was it that sent him? (b) With what argument did the apostle Paul identify this messenger at Romans 10:12-15?
3 Now, somebody equipped that messenger with the good news that made him appear so handsome. Somebody sent that messenger to make peace to be heard and to bring good news of something better and to make salvation to be heard by men who love God and who want him to be king. The Sender is Jehovah himself, who bares his holy arm before all the nations and who wants all the ends of the earth to see the salvation that he performs. The messenger that he sends is a company of people who are willing to go on foot to bring the good news. By inspiration the apostle Paul declared that they are the saintly dedicated Christians. To them he quoted the foregoing words of Isaiah 52:7 as he climaxed his argument with the following words:
4 “There is the same Lord over all, who is rich to all those calling upon him. For ‘anyone that calls upon the name of Jehovah* will be saved’. However, how will they call upon him in whom they have not put faith? How, in turn, will they put faith in him of whom they have not heard? How, in turn, will they hear without someone to preach? How, in turn, will they preach unless they have been sent forth? Just as it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who declare good news of good things!’”—Rom. 10:12-15.
5. How did Isaiah in his vision at the temple exemplify the fact that it is Jehovah who does the sending?
5 The great Source of the “good news of good things,” Jehovah God, is the One that sends his messengers on foot to declare his message. The prophet Isaiah himself exemplified that fact. This was at the time that he had a miraculous vision of Jehovah of armies enthroned in his temple. When Isaiah heard the seraphs declaring the holiness of Jehovah he felt so unholy and unclean that he feared for his life. At his outcry one of the seraphs cleansed him, saying: “Look! This has touched your lips, and your error has departed and your sin itself is atoned for.” After Isaiah was in this cleansed condition he heard a voice asking for someone to be sent and to go on a mission. Whose voice was it? Jehovah’s; and it was saying: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Isaiah looked upon it as a high honor to be sent by Jehovah God and to go for him on a mission. The offer was open to a clean person that would willingly offer himself. Isaiah leaped at the rare privilege. “Here I am! Send me,” he cried out. His offer of himself was accepted, and he was told: “Go, and you must say to this people: ‘Hear again and again, O men.’” (Isa. 6:1-9) Isaiah’s being sent forth equipped with a special message meant that he was ordained, appointed by God. By Isaiah people could now hear of God’s name. They could put faith in God’s name and call upon it, in order to be saved.
6. True to Isaiah’s example, what did Jesus do, and what evidence did Jesus receive that he was accepted for service?
6 True to the example of Isaiah, who was a sign for ancient Israel, Jesus dedicated himself to the service of God’s kingdom that he too might be sent. He left his carpenter shop at Nazareth and went to see his forerunner John the Baptist. He got baptized, not to symbolize any repentance over sins, for he had none, but in order to be sent out in the service of God’s kingdom that John was preaching. His coming to be baptized fulfilled the words of Psalm 40:6-8, for the apostle applied those prophetic words to Jesus, saying: “When he comes into the world he says: ‘“You did not desire sacrifice and offering, but you prepared a body for me. You did not approve of whole burnt-offerings and sin offering.” Then I [Jesus] said, “Look! I am come (in the roll of the book it is written about me) to do your will, O God.”’” (Heb. 10:5-7) After his baptism by John in the Jordan River Jesus received the evidence from heaven that he was accepted. The Bible record states: “As he was praying, the heaven was opened up and the holy spirit in bodily shape like a dove came down upon him, and a voice came out of heaven: ‘You are my Son, the beloved; I have approved you.’ Furthermore, Jesus himself, when he commenced his work, was about thirty years old.”—Luke 3:21-23; Matt. 3:16, 17.
7. How did Jesus’ words show that he was not self-appointed, and when could Jesus make an application of Isaiah 8:18?
7 Ah yes, then, after offering himself and being baptized and receiving heavenly approval, Jesus commenced his work, not carpenter work, but Kingdom work. That he did not go of his own self-appointment, but that he was sent, he repeatedly stated in words like these: “God loved the world so much . . . God sent forth his Son into the world . . . for the world to be saved through him.” “I have come down from heaven to do, not my will, but the will of him that sent me.” “The living Father sent me forth and I live because of the Father.” (John 3:16, 17; 6:38, 57) Like Isaiah, Jesus the anointed One did go, and he honestly applied to himself the very same service commission that Isaiah received at his temple vision. (Matt. 13:13-15; John 12:36-41) After Jesus began gathering his disciples whom Jehovah of armies gave him, Jesus could call these children of God his brothers. Then, too, he could apply to himself and to them the words of Isaiah 8:18:“Look! I and the children whom Jehovah has given me are as signs and as wonders in Israel from Jehovah of armies, who is residing in Mount Zion.” Happy were the sheeplike people in Israel who correctly read the meaning of those signs and wonders, not despising those human signs and wonders because they were few in number, a little flock. Such happy readers became followers of Jesus, the true Immanuel, the Greater Isaiah.
8. By whom were Jesus and his disciples not sent forth, and so, in imitation, by whom do we want to be sent, and why?
8 One fact we should not overlook here. Jesus and his twelve apostles and his other disciples were not sent by John the Baptist, nor by the apostle Peter, nor by the Roman Catholic Church, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Church of England, the Protestant Episcopal Church, the Lutheran Church, the Methodist Church, the Baptist Church, the Presbyterian Church or any of the other more than a thousand religious sects of Christendom. Jesus and his disciples were, one and all, sent by Jehovah of armies. They were signs and wonders from Him! That is the One by whom all who come to do God’s will today want to be sent. Of what power and authority is it for us to be sent by any one of those religious sects or even by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America or even by the World Council of Churches, if we are not sent by Jehovah of armies as Isaiah and Jesus and his twelve apostles were? It is to Jehovah of armies through his Sign, Immanuel, the Lord Jesus Christ, that we have come, to do Jehovah’s will, just as Immanuel himself came to do it when he was baptized. Come we must, and offer ourselves we must, willing to be sent and to go anywhere we are sent, if we want to be accepted and be sent by Jehovah of armies. In this course we want to imitate Isaiah and Jesus Christ. Otherwise we should be doing the will of religious organizations of Christendom. In this time of the end we want to do the divine will, the will of Jehovah of armies.
9. How in the synagogue did Jesus show from the Scriptures that he was sent by Jehovah, and of what things did he become a sign and portent or wonder?
9 To prove by the Bible that he was sent by Jehovah of armies and therefore was ordained or appointed by him, Jesus on a Saturday went into the synagogue of the city of Nazareth, where his fellow citizens had known him only as a carpenter, the son of a carpenter. Mounting the speaker’s stand he called for the book scroll of Isaiah to be given him. Unrolling it, he found the words of Isaiah 61:1, 2. According to the account of Luke 4:16-21, this is what Jesus read: “Jehovah’s spirit is upon me, because he anointed me to declare good news to the poor, he sent me forth to preach a release to the captives and a recovery of sight to the blind, to send the crushed ones away with a release, to preach Jehovah’s* acceptable year.” When Jesus had rolled up the scroll and sat down to preach, he said: “Today this scripture that you just heard is fulfilled.” In this way he became a living, speaking sign to them that the Messiah, the Christ, Jehovah’s Sent and Anointed One, was present. He became a wonder or portent indicating that deliverance was at hand, for Jehovah’s acceptable year was now come. He became a wonderful portent indicating that, in him the King, God’s kingdom was in the midst of the Jews.—Luke 17:21.
10. When did the “kingdom of God” leave the midst of the Jews, and what happened to their nation not long afterward?
10 That kingdom of God left the midst of the Jews after their religious leaders had had Jesus killed on a torture stake and God raised him from the dead and he ascended back to his Father in heaven. In the year 70 (A.D.) the Jewish nation was destroyed, their holy city and temple were burned and razed to the ground. What unhappy survivors there were, were carried away captive into all nations, having no government of their own and with no king of David’s royal family line.
11. Who today on earth are the signs and wonders?
11 However, today, what do the signs and wonders that Jehovah of armies has provided in this time of the end mean and indicate? How should men read them in the light of God’s Word? Today’s signs and wonders are the remnant of the anointed spiritual brothers of Jesus.
12. Because of what facts about them were they foreshadowed by Shear-jashub? Also, by what other remnant were they foreshadowed?
12 This remnant was foreshadowed by Isaiah’s son Shear-jashub, whose name means “A mere remnant will return.” This mention of a remnant points up the fact that Christendom, with its more than 820 million professed Christians, has not returned to Jehovah God since 1918. That year was when Jehovah came to his spiritual temple to judge all those who claimed to be the spiritual “house of God.” To the remnant of Jehovah’s anointed witnesses who did return to Jehovah he revealed his presence at the temple, just as he did to Isaiah. When the remnant volunteered themselves at his asking whom to send, Jehovah sent them as his witnesses with his message. Then with this modern Shear-jashub on hand Immanuel, Jesus Christ, the Greater Isaiah, could furnish the sign that the remnant had returned to Jehovah’s theocratic organization. As the apostle Paul could say in his day, it can now be said: “At the present season also a remnant has turned up according to a choosing due to [God’s] undeserved kindness.” This remnant was like the remnant that Jehovah God found in the northern kingdom of Israel, the capital of which was Samaria, in the days of Elijah the prophet.—Rom. 11:2-5.
13. Of what was Isaiah’s other son a wonder or portent, and how was the meaning of his name fulfilled upon those involved?
13 Isaiah had not only a son named Shear-jashub but also a son named Maʹher-shalʹal-hash-baz. This name means “Hasten, O spoil! He has come quickly to the plunder.” Being so named, this son was a wonder or portent to indicate that disaster was speedily coming by means of the armies of the Assyrian world power. Upon whom? Not only upon the kingdom of Syria, but also upon the kingdom of Israel and its capital city Samaria. In the days of the then king of Samaria, Pekah the son of Remaliah, the Assyrian king did invade the kingdom of Israel. He took many cities, plundered the land and took many inhabitants away captive. Later Pekah himself was murdered. Then the king of Assyria captured Damascus, the capital of Syria, took its people into exile and put King Rezin to death. Thus both kings who had conspired to overthrow the “throne of Jehovah” in the kingdom of Judah were executed. This was a prelude to the overthrow of the kingdom of Israel in 740 B.C. and the removal of the apostate Israelites from Samaria and from the rest of Israel’s domain.—Isa. 7:16; 2 Ki. 15:29, 30; 18:9; Amos 1:3-5; 2:6-16.
14. Of what were Israel and its capital Samaria a type, and when and how will judgment sentence be speedily executed upon this antitype?
14 By falling away from Jehovah God, by conspiring with non-Jewish Syria against Jehovah’s typical kingdom in the land of Judah, Israel and its capital Samaria were a prophetic type of Christendom today in its conspiratorial union with worldly nations against Jehovah’s enthroned King, Jesus Christ, Immanuel. Upon these nations, and especially upon Christendom, which pretends to be the religious “house of God,” divine judgment is now being pronounced by Jehovah of armies at his spiritual temple. The judgment sentence will speedily be executed upon them in the approaching day of God’s vengeance at Armageddon by means of someone mightier than the ancient king of Assyria, namely, by means of Jehovah’s executional officer, Jesus Christ. Then Christendom and all political nations conspiring with it against Immanuel’s kingdom will be deprived of their religious and political rulers. They will be spoiled and plundered of all the things on which they set their proud hearts.
15. What does Christendom fail to see in God’s Word and so what visible sign is there to do the indicating to her?
15 Christendom has its hundreds of millions of copies of the Holy Bible in many languages. Yet since it reads the Bible from the standpoint of its creeds, it fails to see the judgment of God written down long in advance against it and against its friend, this world. What visible sign is there, then, to portend or indicate what Christendom fails to see, namely, that divine judgment will speedily be executed on it and its friendly world? There is the remnant, Immanuel’s spiritual brothers, the anointed “young children” whom Jehovah has given to Jesus Christ. Like him, their head brother, they have been anointed with Jehovah’s spirit to preach. By Jehovah they have been sent, according to the prophecy of Isaiah 61:1, 2. They have been anointed, not only to “call out the year of good will on the part of Jehovah,” which symbolic year has now almost ended, but also to call out the “day of vengeance on the part of our God,” which day is getting ever closer. This vengeance will be poured out when Jesus executes the judgment of our God upon both Christendom and heathendom, both anti-Kingdom.
16. The sign features of whom have the remnant class thus taken on, and how is an increased spread being given of the message?
16 In proclaiming the speedy coming of this day of God’s vengeance with its spoiling and plundering of the whole world by his King Jesus Christ, the anointed spiritual remnant have taken on the sign features of Isaiah’s son Maʹher-shalʹal-hash-baz. They are proclaiming, “Hasten, O spoil! He has come quickly to the plunder.” Multitudes of sheeplike meek people have seen and heard this sign and wonder, this Maʹher-shalʹal-hash-baz class, and have read the meaning of it correctly. In the fullness of their belief and conviction, they have taken their stand alongside this remnant of Jehovah’s modern-day “signs” and “wonders.” More than that, they have taken up the message of God’s vengeance and have given it an increased spread to all the nations of the earth.
OUT IN FRONT! TO THE VIEW!
17. To be of value and guidance, where do signs and wonders have to be, and so who now must be in such a position?
17 To be of any value and guidance, signs and wonders have to be seen, that they may be studied, that their meaning may be read and understood with God’s key of understanding. “As signs and as wonders,” the anointed remnant of Christ’s spiritual brothers must be out in front to the view of the people. Then the Greater Isaiah, Jesus Christ, can say: “Look! I and the children whom Jehovah has given me are as signs and as wonders in [Christendom] from Jehovah of armies, who is residing in Mount Zion.” (Isa. 8:18) In order to back up those signs and wonders the great crowd of the remnant’s dedicated companions of good will must be out front with them. To the anointed remnant of spiritual Israelites Isaiah 43:10 says: “‘You are my witnesses,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘even my servant whom I have chosen.’” This servant class has to be seen; it has to let itself be heard in order to be witnesses of Jehovah. And in order to join with the anointed servant class in the world-wide witness work, the great flock of dedicated sheeplike persons has to be seen in union with them and let themselves be heard in unison with them. We must all be out in the open, conspicuous, to be seen, observed, heard. This is no time to hole up because of the anguish, distress, fears and threats of the nations of this world.
18, 19. In harmony with Isaiah 40:9, how did Jesus put himself in the proper position for a sign from God, and in copying him what big sign do we provide to excite the world’s attention?
18 Said the great Sign, Immanuel, to his followers: “You are the light of the world. A city cannot be hid when situated upon a mountain.” (Matt. 5:14) Said Isaiah of old: “Make your way up even onto a high mountain, you woman bringing good news for Zion. Raise your voice even with power, you woman bringing good news for Jerusalem. Raise it. Do not be afraid. Say to the cities of Judah: ‘Here is your God.’” (Isa. 40:9) As a minister Jesus was not out of sight and inconspicuous as when he was a carpenter in Nazareth. As the great Sign from Jehovah he was seen in all parts of his territory by preaching, going from city to city and from village to village, preaching publicly in synagogues and in the open and also in the homes of the people. Copying him, we also can be prominent, not to show off, but to call attention to Jehovah’s signs and wonders in this time of the end. Most effectively can we do this by preaching not only publicly but mainly from house to house. In this way Jesus’ prophetic words must be fulfilled: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for the purpose of a witness to all the nations, and then the accomplished end will come.” (Matt. 24:14) This preaching of the good news everywhere publicly and from house to house by the remnant and their sheeplike associates is in itself a most eloquent sign, a wonder that excites the attention of all the world.
19 It is indubitable evidence that God’s kingdom in the hands of his heavenly Immanuel has been set up as the capital of the universe. It is a sign that portends that the nations of this world now face their end and will meet it just as soon as our preaching is finished according to the divine will. Let them read the sign!
20. To what may our giving warning expose us, but because of what backing do we not need to fear men or devils?
20 The people and the nations must know that we have been among them to give solemn warning of their end. This may expose us to their abuse and persecution. Yet, like the apostles of Immanuel, we must “become a theatrical spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men.” (1 Cor. 4:9) Concerning Immanuel, even when a forty-day-old baby, Simeon prophesied: “This one is laid for the fall and the rising again of many in Israel and for a sign to be talked against.” (Luke 2:34) What, then, if we are talked against and opposed as a sign or are challenged because of our preaching the straight truths of the Bible? We know whom we have backing us up. It is “Jehovah of armies, who is residing in Mount Zion.” It is from him that we have the remnant of signs and wonders today, and there are thousands of them here at this international assembly. Hence he will see to it that what these signs and wonders mean and indicate is truly fulfilled. Jehovah of armies is the One who has sent us and who has equipped us with the good news of his inaugurated kingdom. His angelic armies, which exceed the combined armies of the Communist Eastern bloc and the democratic Western bloc, surround us. They are fully organized and armed and lined up at the field of Armageddon for the “war of the great day of God the Almighty.” (Rev. 16:14) Let us not, then, fear men or devils.
21. How is the name of our reigning King, Immanuel, fulfilled toward us, and so what are we certain to finish successfully?
21 God, whose fear-inspiring name is Jehovah of armies, is with us. The very name of his reigning King, Immanuel, means “With us is God.” Since Immanuel is with us because we are following and obeying him in preaching the good news of the Kingdom for a final witness to all the nations, we know that God is also with us. That means that God is for us. With such divine help and according to the divine will, we are certain to finish successfully the wonderful and significant work that Jehovah of armies has sent us to do.
Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you. And, look! I am with you.—Matt. 28:19, 20.
Here nine printed Hebrew translations of the epistle to the Romans use the name “Jehovah” or “Yahweh,” for the reason that Joel 2:32 here quoted also has this divine name in the Hebrew text.
Nine printed Hebrew translations of the book of Luke read “Jehovah” or Yahweh” here, to correspond with the Hebrew text of Isaiah 61:1.