Part 9—“Your Will Be Done on Earth”
As stated earlier in this Chapter 3 of the book “Your Will Be Done on Earth,” Man’s Creator started off the human family in an earthly sanctuary, the holy garden of Eden or Paradise of Eden, where he held communion with his innocent creatures, Adam and Eve. Because of losing their innocence by breaking their heavenly Father’s commandment, Adam and Eve lost the earthly sanctuary of Eden for their offspring, the human family. During the global flood of Noah’s day that garden sanctuary was destroyed. Centuries later Jehovah God instructed his prophet Moses to have the Israelites in the wilderness of Mount Sinai erect a portable sanctuary for carrying on His worship. This was finally carried by the Israelites into the Promised Land of Palestine. When Solomon became king of Israel, he replaced this tent sanctuary with a glorious stationary temple built on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem. In course of time the Jews profaned this temple to such an extent that Jehovah God decreed and permitted its destruction by the pagan Babylonians in 607 B.C.
EARTHLY SANCTUARY RESTORED
38, 39. (a) How long did Jehovah time it for the temple site to lie desolate? (b) According to Isaiah’s prophecy, whom did Jehovah raise up, and what decree did this one issue?
38 Just as Jeremiah had prophesied, the site of Solomon’s temple lay desolate for seventy years. Meanwhile those thousands of Jews who had survived the overthrow of Jerusalem and her temple were mostly captive in Babylon, prisoners whom heartless Babylon gave no other hope than that of dying far from home. But Jehovah was in his heavenly sanctuary. He was watching what was going on, with full consideration for his name and his worship. “For he has looked down from his holy height, from the very heavens Jehovah himself has looked even at the earth, to hear the sighing of the prisoner, to loosen those appointed to death.” (Ps. 102:19, 20) He was timing all his movements toward his own people and their oppressors. He raised up the very conqueror whom he had foretold through Isaiah, King Cyrus of Persia: “I, Jehovah, am doing everything, . . . the One saying of Cyrus: ‘He is my shepherd, and all that I delight in he will completely carry out’; even in my saying of Jerusalem: ‘She will be rebuilt,’ and of the temple: ‘You will have your foundation laid.’” (Isa. 44:24, 28; 45:1-5, 11-13) In 539 B.C., to the surprise of all the nations, mighty Babylon fell before the Medes and Persians, drinking the cup of shame that she had made the nation of Jehovah’s people drink. In the seventieth year of Jerusalem’s desolation, in 537 B.C., the king of the Persian Empire issued the decree for the rebuilding of Jehovah’s sanctuary.
39 Said Cyrus’ decree: “All the kingdoms of the earth Jehovah the God of the heavens has given me and he himself has commissioned me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all his people, may his God prove to be with him. So let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of Jehovah the God of Israel—he is The true God—which was in Jerusalem.”—Ezra 1:2, 3; 2 Chron. 36:22, 23.
40, 41. (a) How were the sacrifices to Jehovah renewed at the right place? (b) When was the temple foundation laid, to make whose word come true?
40 A remnant of about 50,000 faithful Israelites and slaves responded to the decree and eagerly journeyed back to Jerusalem. By the end of that seventieth year of Jerusalem’s desolation they were back on the sites of their former cities, reestablishing themselves. This was in absolute fulfillment of Jehovah’s prophecy through Jeremiah. On the first day of their seventh month, Ethanim, the month in which they were to celebrate the day of atonement and the festival of booths, they assembled with their Jewish governor, Zerubbabel, and they joined with their high priest, Jeshua, in rebuilding the altar of Jehovah in the courtyard space on Mount Moriah. “So they established the altar firmly upon its own site.” Then the sacrifices to Jehovah were renewed, according to what was due each day. They even held their week-long festival of booths, the first in seventy years. Besides this there was the “constant burnt offering,” or the “continual burnt offering,” the burnt offering that was made daily, morning and evening. (Ezra 3:1-5; Ex. 29:38-42; Num. 28:3-10) Thus a start was made in the renewing of the worship of Jehovah at the very place where he had put his name. What a joyous time that was for the liberated remnant of his people! The temple foundation had not yet been laid, but that followed seven months later, in 536 B.C., during the reign of Cyrus the Great.
41 Again Jehovah’s word had marvelously come true. About 185 years after Isaiah’s prophecy concerning, Cyrus, the temple of Jehovah was having its foundation laid, and the sanctuary of the God of ancient Israel was being rebuilt. Yet even more wonderful fulfillments of Jehovah’s prophecies are we beholding today!
42. What effect did enemy interference have upon temple building, and how did Jehovah take hold of the situation that resulted?
42 Jehovah’s sanctuary is a key target of attack, down to our own day. In the days of the Jewish rebuilders of his temple according to Cyrus’ decree, the people of the lands round about resented the restoration of this remnant of Jehovah’s people and the re-establishment of his temple and worship. They did everything they could, locally and at the court of the Persian rulers, to hinder the rebuilding of Jehovah’s sanctuary, to “frustrate their purpose all the days of Cyrus the king of Persia down till the reign of Darius the king of Persia.” (Ezra 4:1-5) The work on this second temple to Jehovah had actually been stopped under decree of a misinformed Persian king and by force of arms of the heathen opposers of Jehovah’s sanctuary. During this stoppage of temple building the Jews grew materialistic and Jehovah withheld his blessings. Then, to urge on his remnant of worshipers to carry through the main purpose for which he had brought about their release from Babylon, Jehovah raised up his prophets Haggai and Zechariah to point out their neglect and to build up their faith in Almighty God. Courageously, in the second year of Darius I, they resumed building Jehovah’s sanctuary. They refused to stop because of the objections of the enemy, and referred them to Jehovah’s decree through King Cyrus the Great. The sanctuary enemies appealed to King Darius I. The Persian king made investigation, proved the actuality of Cyrus’ decree for the Jews to rebuild Jehovah’s temple, and loyally ordered Cyrus’ decree to be enforced. So lay off from interfering, you foes of Jehovah’s house, or else be impaled on a stake and have your houses turned into public privies! In fact, lend Jehovah’s temple builders supplies in order to complete his house!—Ezra 6:6-12.
43. (a) When were the rebuilt temple inaugurated and the temple services renewed? (b) What was the purpose of Ezra’s visit to this temple, and what distinguished visitor was there in 332 B.C.?
43 Thus with Jehovah’s power and spirit, with even the imperial backing of Persia’s ruler, the temple building went forward. In a little more than four years it was completed. “They completed this house by the third day of the lunar month Adar [February-March], that is, in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king.” (Ezra 6:15) That was in the year 516 B.C. With joy Jehovah’s worshipers inaugurated his completed sanctuary. The next month, Nisan 14, they held the Passover. Temple services went forward in this sanctuary constructed by Governor Zerubbabel, as they had gone forward in the temple built by Solomon. Once again the daily sacrifice, or the “constant [continual] burnt offering,” was rendered up to Jehovah mornings and evenings. In 468 B.C., which was the seventh year of the Persian King Artaxerxes, the Jewish priest named Ezra, who was also a copyist of the law of God, went up from Babylon at the order of the king to this temple at Jerusalem for the purpose of bringing a large contribution that was made to the support of Jehovah’s sanctuary. (Ezra 7:1 to 8:36) In the following century, according to report, there was a visit of another historical character to this sanctuary at Jerusalem. This was the visit of the Macedonian or Grecian king, Alexander the Great, in 332 B.C., as he was on his expedition of conquest over Persia,* in fulfillment of prophecy.
44. How did this temple come to be rededicated in 165 B.C., and what festival did Jesus attend in celebration of this?
44 About two centuries later this second temple experienced a rededication. The Syrian king, Antíochus IV Epíphanes, made a vicious attempt to stamp out the worship of Jehovah. In the year 168 B.C., he profaned Jehovah’s sanctuary by building an altar over the great altar of Jehovah and offering upon this an abominable sacrifice to the false god whom he worshiped, the Olympian Zeus (or Jupiter). This was on the 25th day of the Jewish month Chislev (November-December). He put a stop to the daily sacrifice or constant burnt offering at the temple. He ferociously persecuted the uncompromising worshipers of Jehovah. (1 Maccabees 1:20-64) This was what started the uprising of the Maccabees, the sons of the faithful priest Mattathias. Judas, the third son, being chosen leader, led his small forces to the defeat of the enemy, recaptured Jerusalem, and rededicated the temple on Chislev 25, 165 B.C., on the same day on which it had been desecrated by the Syrian king. Ever since then Jews have celebrated the feast of dedication, Hanukkah, on its anniversary. (1 Maccabees 4:36-59; 2 Maccabees 10:1-9; Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews, Book 12, Chapter 7, paragraph 7) This is referred to in John 10:22: “At that time the feast of dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was wintertime, and Jesus was walking in the temple in the colonnade of Solomon.” In Jesus’ days the Jews themselves were profaning this temple by their practices.
45. Who is reported to have invaded the Most Holy of this sanctuary, and what did Judea become in 63 B.C.?
45 The world scene changed, and Rome became the world power. In the year 63 B.C. the Roman General Pompey captured the hill upon which Jehovah’s temple stood and made bold to enter the Most Holy of this sanctuary. He saw no sacred ark of Jehovah’s covenant there, for it had not been restored to the Most Holy.* General Pompey did not touch any of the temple treasures.* So he took possession of the city of Jerusalem, and Judea became a Roman province.
46. How did Herod the Great become king of Judea, and what did he try to do to Jesus?
46 Years later, General Crassus carried off everything of value that he could find in the temple.* Now the Jews rose in rebellion, but Rome came off victorious. The year 40 B.C. saw the Roman Senate nominating the Edomite or Idumean, Herod the Great, to be the king of Judea. It was first in 37 B.C. that he stormed and took possession of Jerusalem and became king de facto. It is from this year that Herod’s kingship should be dated and counted. It is then found to overlap the birth of Jesus at Bethlehem about October 1, in 2 B.C. This wicked King Herod was the one that tried to murder the babe Jesus to prevent his growing up and becoming king.—Matt. 2:1-19.
47. To please the Jews, what did King Herod proceed to do, but how was all this brought to nothing in fulfillment of Jesus’ words?
47 Herod, who came to be called Great, reigned for thirty-seven years. Toward the middle of his reign he laid plans to rebuild the temple that had stood from the time of Governor Zerubbabel. To please the Jews he wanted to rebuild it on a much grander scale. In 17 B.C. he got the building work started, and the work continued without interrupting the regular temple service. In a year and a half the temple sanctuary or náos was finished. It took eight years to finish the temple courts and the covered walks round about. The complete reconstruction of the temple took much longer. In fact, this was not realized by Herod the Great. At the Passover feast of 30 (A.D.) the Jews told Jesus that the temple work had been going on forty-six years; and so could he raise it up in three days of time? (John 2:13-22) Actually the temple was not completed in its reconstruction till A.D. 64. This was just six years before the Roman army under General Titus destroyed both temple and city, in fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy spoken in the spring of 33 (A.D.). (Matt. 24:1, 2) Those who had worshiped there were scattered to the ends of the earth.
48. What has made out of order the rebuilding of that earthly sanctuary, and with what promised government is this associated?
48 The earthly sanctuary of Jehovah has never been rebuilt. This has been in full harmony with his will. The day for such a lifeless material sanctuary has long passed. Jehovah has turned his attention to a far more important sanctuary, a living sanctuary, and to it he has transferred his name and his holy spirit. When completed in the near future, it will stand to his everlasting universal glory. Through this unusual sanctuary he will pour out his blessings upon people out of all families and nations of mankind who do his will on earth. As the sanctuary on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem was associated with his kingdom over the nation of Israel, so his everlasting spiritual sanctuary is inseparably linked with his promised government, the kingdom of the heavens. It is built by One Greater than King Solomon and Governor Zerubbabel, not to mention King Herod.
FOREGLEAMS OF GOD’S KINGDOM
1. Why did Jehovah God hold court in the sanctuary of Eden, and whose bruising in the head did he decree?
UNTIL sin made its outbreak, Jehovah God was the accepted Ruler over man in the sanctuary of Eden. When man broke the law of his rightful Ruler and man thus chose to have a new ruler and lawgiver, Jehovah God held court. He pronounced sentence upon man’s newly chosen ruler, Satan the Devil, who had now become a rival god symbolized by the serpent of deception. Judge Jehovah said: “I shall put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He will bruise you in the head and you will bruise him in the heel.” (Gen. 3:15) Many men have been bitten in the heel by a literal serpent, and many men have crushed the head of a serpent under the heel; but the brood of serpents has continued on down to this day. This has been no fulfillment of the divine judgment in Eden, for in his judgment God had really decreed that the “original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan,” should be bruised in the head.—Rev. 12:9.
2. What questions did God’s prophetic judgment there raise?
2 The deadly wound was to be inflicted upon the Serpent by the promised “seed” or offspring of God’s woman, that is to say, his holy universal organization. It is as a wife to him and is able to provide children for his service. His prophetic judgment in Eden at once raised the question, not merely, Who will the Seed of God’s woman be? but, further, When will this Seed bruise the hated Serpent in the head and destroy him and his brood? When will this great act of deliverance come for mankind, the victims of the Serpent’s lie? Even the angels of heaven who make up the wifely organization which is God’s woman were interested to know.—1 Pet. 1:12.
3. What did that bruising call for, and why was this not accomplished at the Flood?
3 The bruising of the old Serpent in the head meant a battle of rulers. Satan the Devil had established himself as ruler over man by maneuvering man into obeying him rather than Jehovah God. It would require another mighty ruler to defeat and destroy Satan as a ruler. The flood of Noah’s day did not put Satan out of his rulership. It did wipe out the “ancient world,” the “world of ungodly people,” but it left Satan still in control over his demonic seed, the invisible spirits or fallen angels.—2 Pet. 2:5.
4, 5. (a) Where did rebellion begin after the Flood? (b) What had Noah not made himself toward his descendants, but how did Nimrod not follow his example?
4 In the postflood world Satan the Devil soon lured the greater number of Noah’s descendants into outright rebellion against Jehovah God, who had saved their ancestors, Noah’s family, through that world-destroying flood. This first flare-up of rebellion took place notably at the ancient city of Babylon on the banks of the Euphrates River, in the Mesopotamian land now known as Iraq. “Noah continued to live three hundred and fifty years after the deluge.” (Gen. 9:28) Yet in all that time he did not claim to be the promised Seed of God’s woman just because he had built the ark of salvation; neither did he set himself up as a king over his descendants, all mankind. Had he done so, he would have set up a world government, with himself as ruler of all humankind. But Noah’s great-grandson Nimrod did not follow his godly forefather’s example. Nimrod parted company with Noah. Though Noah still lived, Nimrod broke the rainbow covenant made by God with Noah to safeguard the sanctity of animal blood. Nimrod became a sports and military hunter and set himself up as king in opposition to Jehovah. We read:
5 “This is the history of Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth. And the sons of Ham were Cush and Mizraim and Put and Canaan. And Cush became father to Nimrod. He made the start in becoming a mighty one in the earth. He displayed himself a mighty hunter in opposition to Jehovah. That is why there is a saying, ‘Just like Nimrod a mighty hunter in opposition to Jehovah.’ And the beginning of his kingdom came to be Babel and Erech and Accad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. Out of that land he went forth into Assyria and set himself to building Nineveh and Rehoboth-Ir and Calah and Resen between Nineveh and Calah.”—Gen. 10:1, 6, 8-12.
(To be continued)
Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews, Book 11, Chapter 8, paragraphs 3-6.
The Jewish Mishnah (Yoma 21, 2) says that the temple built by Governor Zerubbabel lacked five things that marked Solomon’s temple, namely, (1) the ark of the covenant, (2) the sacred fire that had been started from heaven, (3) the Shekinah light in the Most Holy, (4) the holy spirit of Jehovah, and (5) the high priest’s Urim and Thummim, the equipment for learning divine decisions.
Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews, Book 14, Chapter 4, paragraph 4.
Ibidem, Book 14, Chapter 7, paragraph 1.