Part 8—“Your Will Be Done on Earth”
In order that his will might be done on earth as it is done in heaven. Jehovah God started off the human family in a sanctuary. This holy place was the garden of Eden or Paradise of Pleasure in which Adam and Eve had fellowship with their God and heavenly Father. It was at this Paradise sanctuary that a heavenly spirit son of God rebelled and transformed himself into Satan the Devil. Using the serpent he tempted the woman Eve into sin by eating the forbidden fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and bad. She in turn induced her husband Adam to eat and willfully break God’s law. Their presence in the Edenic Paradise sanctuary now became defiling. God came upon the guilty trio and pronounced the sentence of destruction upon the great Serpent, Satan the Devil, by means of the seed of His woman. He also pronounced the death sentence upon Adam and Eve and cleansed the Paradise sanctuary by driving the sinful couple out and barring their return in any attempt to eat of the tree of life in order to live on earth forever.
23, 24. What fact showed sin had passed on to Adam’s children born outside Eden, and in what two respects was Cain a murderer?
23 Sin, together with its condemnation to death, passed on to Adam’s children born outside the sanctuary of Paradise. This fact is plain from what happened to his very first son, Cain. This son became a cultivator of the cursed ground outside the Edenic sanctuary. His younger brother Abel became a shepherd. Cain and Abel brought offerings to God. Close to the sanctuary of Eden, to the east entrance by which the posted cherubs kept guard, was reasonably the proper place to bring the offerings. Each one brought some of the products of his own type of work. Cain offered field products. Abel sacrificed the lives of some of his sheep, firstlings, and poured their blood upon the ground and presented fatty pieces of them to God.
24 Then God indicated that there must be a sacrifice of life and that this life must be presented to him in order for sinful humankind to get back into his favor and be forgiven and redeemed from sin and the penalty of death. God looked with favor upon Abel’s animal victims; he rejected Cain’s bloodless offering. In jealousy Cain now shed blood, but it was the blood of his righteous brother Abel, who had pleased God by his sacrifice offered in faith in God. By such bloodshed Cain defiled the ground. Though not put to death at once as a murderer, Cain came under God’s special curse. (Gen. 4:1-23; Heb. 11:4) He was a murderer in two respects, by his hatred of his innocent brother and by his act of actually putting him to death. He showed that he originated with the Devil and was a child of the Devil. (1 John 3:8-12) In due time Cain died under God’s curse. All his offspring were also wiped out by the global flood of Noah’s day.—Gen. 4:16-24; 6:5-13.
25. How is it that death carried on through Noah and his family down through the flood to today, and what pattern was set by God’s acceptance of Abel’s sacrifice?
25 Down to the Noachian flood not one of Adam’s descendants proved able to invade the Edenic sanctuary and get to that tree of life there. That was not now God’s way for human creatures to gain eternal life in a Paradise on earth. In God’s due time the Flood swept away every trace of that Paradise sanctuary of Eden somewhere near the Middle East. Thus it was that death carried on in the human race even through Noah and his family, who survived the flood, all the way down to this day. All mystery about death and its cause is brushed aside in this brief statement: “Through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned.” (Rom. 5:12) Wise King Solomon said: “There is no man that does not sin.” (1 Ki. 8:46) That is why all men receive the wages that sin pays, which is death. (Rom. 6:23) God’s acceptance of Abel’s sacrifice of sheep with the shedding of blood sets a pattern. It shows the way in which humankind are to be freed from the condemnation of death and delivered from death. It must be by the sacrifice of an acceptable life here on earth. Abel was not authorized to eat any of the sacrificed firstlings of his flock in communion with God, much less to drink their blood. Why, then, did Abel’s sacrifice please God?
26. With what divine law did Abel’s sacrifice line up, and how was a sacrifice better than that of Abel’s provided for mankind?
26 He had not learned it from Adam, but he learned it by faith in God. It therefore lined up with God’s laws stated long afterward: “Only flesh with its soul—its blood—you must not eat.” (Gen. 9:4) “For the soul of the flesh is in the blood, and I myself have put it upon the altar for you to make atonement for your souls, because it is the blood that makes atonement by the soul in it.” (Lev. 17:11) “Yes, nearly all things are cleansed with blood according to the Law, and unless blood is poured out no forgiveness takes place.” (Heb. 9:22) Jehovah, who saw that justice toward dying, sinful mankind could be turned in favor of mankind only by a sacrifice of sufficient value and power, was also loving enough to provide the needed sacrifice. He did this in his heavenly Son, his first and chief creation, whom he sent from heaven to earth to become the perfect man Jesus Christ. Jesus’ sacrifice can do what the first sacrifice by man, Abel’s sacrifice, could not do. It can give us deliverance from inherited sin and condemnation and from the resulting death and the grave. For this reason the Holy Bible points us to “Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and the blood of sprinkling which speaks in a better way than Abel’s blood.” (Heb. 12:24) Abel’s blood cried out to God from the ground for vengeance against the murderous brother-hater, Cain. Jesus’ blood cries out from God’s altar for divine mercy upon men and women of faith and obedience.—Gen. 4:10; Heb. 13:10-12.
A TEMPORARY MATERIAL SANCTUARY
27. Why did men of faith, from Noah to Job, offer sacrifices, and what did Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of Isaac foreshadow?
27 From Abel onward men of faith who won God’s good pleasure offered sacrifices. This meant the shedding of blood and hence the pouring out of the life of a victim. Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Job did not think Jehovah a bloodthirsty God, but displayed their clear discernment of the need of a sacrifice. So they regularly drew near to God with a sacrifice. These men of faith were the priests of God for their families and households. Abraham was even willing to offer up the human sacrifice of his son Isaac on an altar on Mount Moriah, where today the Mohammedan mosque, the Dome of the Rock, stands, in Jerusalem. This he was willing to do with faith in God and with belief in the resurrection out of death for his sacrificed son. So he acted out a prophetic drama of how the heavenly Father would sacrifice his own Son Jesus Christ in order that the believers out of all the families and nations of the earth might bless themselves in the heavenly Father and in his sacrificed Son, the promised Seed.—Gen. 12:1-3; 22:1-18.
28. From what man did Abraham receive a blessing, and did he or the other men of faith have temple sanctuaries?
28 Abraham received a blessing from a man who was both a king and a priest, named Melchizedek. “And Melchizedek king of Salem [ancient Jerusalem] brought out bread and wine, and he was priest of the Most High God. Then he blessed him and said: ‘Blessed be Abram of the Most High God, Producer of heaven and earth, and blessed be the Most High God, who has delivered your oppressors into your hand!’” (Gen. 14:18-20) However, there is no Bible record that the king-priest Melchizedek had a temple building as a sanctuary at which he offered sacrifices to the Most High God. Consequently none of those ancient men of faith had temple sanctuaries.
29. Under what circumstances was it that Jehovah gave instructions for building him a sanctuary, and why was that original one not to be sneered at?
29 When Moses the descendant of Abraham was born in Egypt, it was a land full of temples to many gods. Still up to that time Jehovah’s own people had no temple sanctuary to him. Egypt was not the place for any temple to Jehovah. The land to which God led Abraham out of Mesopotamia and which God promised to give to his descendants was the place for such a sanctuary. When Moses and his people had left slavery in Egypt far behind and were on their way to the Promised Land, Jehovah God led them to the foot of Mount Sinai for a halt of almost a year. There he instructed Moses to have the people build him a sanctuary. As they were on the move to the Promised Land, it was to be a portable sanctuary, a tent of two compartments with a courtyard surrounding it. Said Jehovah to Moses after having given him the Ten Commandments: “And they must make a sanctuary for me, as I must tent in the midst of them. According to all that I am showing you as the pattern of the tabernacle and pattern of all its furnishings, that is the way you are to make it.” (Ex. 25:8, 9) Let no one sneer at that small tent or sanctuary in the wilderness, for it was a picture of heavenly things of tremendous value and importance to us today. So says the inspired writer, when he quotes those very instructions of Jehovah to Moses and makes remarks upon them.—Heb. 8:1-6.
30. How long did that sanctuary tent serve its purpose and how was the godly thought of building a stationary sanctuary conceived?
30 Erected in the spring of 1512 before the Christian era, that sanctuary tent continued to be Jehovah’s place of meeting with the nation of ancient Israel for centuries after he had settled them in the Promised Land, in the vital Middle East. In that bridgeland between Europe, Asia and Africa the nation of Israel became a kingdom. Their second king was faithful David. In 1069 B.C. David captured Mount Zion, the citadel of Jerusalem, and made it his capital. There near his palace he had the sacred ark of the covenant containing the tablets of the Ten Commandments lodged under a tent in charge of faithful Levites, who were assistants to the priests. It was now that King David conceived the godly thought of building to Jehovah a stationary temple of wood and stone and precious metals. He submitted the matter to God.
31. Why was David not honored with building the sanctuary proposed?
31 King David was a warrior king, whom Jehovah God had used as his executioner in shedding the blood of his enemies. So God did not favor David with the privilege of building the temple at Jerusalem. Yet God honored David with something far grander than building a sanctuary of perishable materials to his holy name.
32, 33. What covenant did Jehovah now make with David in appreciation?
32 David had been lovingly concerned with building a worldly material house to honor God; so Jehovah covenanted with David to build him a house. No, not a palace, but a royal house or line of kings, all successors of him, all descendants of him, until the everlasting King of the house of David should come. God said:
33 “Jehovah has told you that a house is what Jehovah will make for you. When your days come to the full and you must lie down with your forefathers, then I shall certainly raise up your seed after you, which will come out of your inward parts, and I shall indeed firmly establish his kingdom. He is the one that will build a house for my name, and I shall certainly establish the throne of his kingdom firmly forever. . . . And your house and your kingdom will certainly be steadfast forever before you; your very throne will become one firmly established forever.”—2 Sam. 7:1-16.
34. Why cannot this Davidic covenant pass away unfulfilled?
34 That was the covenant with David for the kingdom. Jehovah swore to that covenant. Can the sun and the moon pass away, ceasing to give light to men on this earth? No more can this Davidic covenant for the kingdom pass away. God cannot break his holy oath. He will never profane his covenant with David. To his vindication it is mightily being fulfilled in our own day.—Ps. 89:26-37.
35. To what work, therefore, did David encourage his subjects, and how did God show his acceptance of the new temple for his worship?
35 Encouraging his subjects to back up his successor Solomon in building a magnificent temple to Jehovah on Mount Moriah, David said: “Now set your heart and your soul to inquire after Jehovah your God, and rise and build the sanctuary of Jehovah The true God, to bring the ark of the covenant of Jehovah and the holy utensils of The true God to the house built to the name of Jehovah.” (1 Chron. 22:19) The materials being all prepared, King Solomon began building in the fourth year of his reign. In the eleventh year of his peaceful reign he completed this awe-inspiring temple, which, at present money values, would cost into the billions of American dollars. After the sacred ark of his covenant had been brought into the Most Holy of this temple, Jehovah manifested that he accepted this sanctuary for his worship. He filled the temple sanctuary with a miraculous cloud of glory. Then he sent down a miraculous fire from heaven to light the temple altar in the courtyard and to consume the first animal sacrifices upon it. The onlooking worshipers, awe-struck, bowed down to the temple pavement and “prostrated themselves and thanked Jehovah, ‘for he is good, for his loving-kindness is forever.’”—2 Chron. 5:4-14; 7:1-3.
36, 37. (a) What decree and what permission of pagan conduct shows whether this temple was Jehovah’s real sanctuary? (b) How did Jeremiah lament over the holy city at its desolation?
36 In prayer at this temple dedication King Solomon reminded everyone within hearing that this spacious temple so glorious was not the real sanctuary of the God of heaven: “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) Had that been his true sanctuary, why would Jehovah later have decreed for it to be destroyed because the unfaithful, renegade Israelites profaned it, filling it with their abominable, loathsome, disgusting things? Why would he, with a seeming loss of his own prestige among the nations of the world, permit the pagan worshipers of the false gods of Babylon to storm into the land like roaring lions, to show no respect for those who worshiped formally at the temple, to kill the priests, to strip the temple of everything of value, and to burn it to the ground? In 607 B.C. the armies of Babylon, under King Nebuchadnezzar, destroyed the famed holy city of Jerusalem and destroyed the temple that Jehovah had once sanctified. They carried off its treasures and sacred vessels, except the sacred ark of the covenant that had disappeared and eluded greedy pagan hands. (2 Ki. 25:8-21; 2 Chron. 36:17-21) Jeremiah, whom Jehovah had used to prophesy of all this, sat mournfully and lamented to God over the holy city, the daughter of Jerusalem (Zion):
37 “The adversary has spread out his own hand against all her desirable things. For she has seen nations that have come into her sanctuary, whom you commanded that they should not come into the congregation belonging to you. Jehovah has rejected his altar. He has spurned his sanctuary. Into the hand of the enemy he has surrendered the walls of her dwelling towers. In the house of Jehovah they have let out their own voice, as in the day of a festival. Jehovah has thought of bringing the wall of the daughter of Zion to ruin. . . . See, O Jehovah, and do look to the one to whom you have dealt severely in this manner. Should the women keep eating their own fruitage, the children born fully formed, or in the sanctuary of Jehovah should priest and prophet be killed? O how the gold that shines becomes dim, the good gold! O how the holy stones [stones of the sanctuary] are poured out at the head of all the streets!”—Lam. 1:10; 2:7, 8, 20; 4:1, margin.
(To be continued)