Questions From Readers
● In Isaiah 66:8 it is written: “Who has heard of a thing like this? Who has seen things like these? Will a land be brought forth with labor pains in one day? Or will a nation be born at one stroke? For Zion has come into labor pains as well as given birth to her sons.” What is the difference between the “land” and the “nation,” and how is this related to the foundation of the “new earth” in 1919?
Foundations are laid for what is to be built upon them, for something new in the way of a superstructure. In Isaiah 51:16 God tells what he will do regarding new heavens that are to be planted and a new earth that is to be founded. He says to his people: “I shall put my words in your mouth, and with the shadow of my hand I shall certainly cover you, in order to plant the heavens and lay the foundation of the earth and say to Zion: ‘You are my people.’” Those words to Zion show that God recognizes a people at a certain time, that he brings to birth a nation, a people under a government. Zion, when on earth, used to be the mountain where the “throne of Jehovah” was, on which the king of Jehovah’s nation sat.
In the year 1914 Jehovah God brought forth the heavenly government of his anointed Son, Jesus Christ, the Kingdom Heir. However, during World War I, which began in that year, Jehovah’s anointed witnesses on earth came into Babylonish captivity to the nations at war, through fear and misunderstanding. Their organization was invaded and quite broken up. They did not function as a nation with an independent government, in this case the established kingdom of God in the heavens. They became like the Jews in the land of Babylon during the seventy years when their capital city Zion or Jerusalem and its temple lay desolate and they had no reigning king.
In 1919, shortly after the close of World War I, Jehovah mercifully began to regather his scattered, disorganized people from all quarters of the earth and to increase their number. He got his anointed remnant into a well-organized arrangement and set them to functioning again. He deepened their appreciation of the fact that the Kingdom had been set up and put in operation in the heavens. Since there was still a remnant of Kingdom heirs on earth, not all those who were to be joint heirs with Jesus Christ in it were with him in the heavens, reigning with him as new heavenly powers over the earth, amidst Christ’s enemies. However, by bringing the Kingdom to birth through enthroning and crowning his Son Jesus Christ, Jehovah God planted the symbolic heavens of the promised new order.
Into the mouths of his delivered, liberated people on earth Jehovah put his words concerning the planting of the new heavens. Hence his people took up the preaching of the good news of the established heavenly government to which they owe supreme allegiance, God’s kingdom. By such dealings with his people at that time, Jehovah caused a nation, the remnant of his spiritual Israel, to be “born at one stroke.” To this spiritual nation a “great crowd” of sheeplike persons have come and united themselves.
Now, what is the difference between this recently born “nation” and the “land” that is “brought forth with labor pains in one day”? For a nation to exist it has to have a land of its own. For example, as long as the ancient Israelites were exiles on foreign soil, in the land of Babylon, they were not a nation having a recognized standing among the nations of the earth. As regards their homeland, the territory of Judah and Jerusalem, was it a land? No! It lay desolate without man and domestic beast. Passers-by shunned it in fear because of all the plagues that had come upon it from Jehovah. It had no capital; it had no cities teeming with people. These were all ruins haunted by creatures of desolateness. It was a wilderness, with jungle growths. But when the released remnant of faithful Jews reached this desolate place in the summer of 537 B.C. and re-established themselves on the locations of their former cities, cultivated the ground and rebuilt Jehovah’s altar on Mount Moriah, ah, then a land was brought forth, being occupied by a newborn nation, “in one day,” or in a short period of time, with a suddenness that surprised the enemies. That reconstruction of their land pictured how a “new order” land would be brought forth in 1919 (A.D.).
This land of the restored remnant of spiritual Israel is the earthly position they occupy on earth, in a renewed and approved standing before Jehovah as his witnesses. Said The Watch Tower as of October 15, 1919: “The Gentile times have ended. The old world is gone and is in process of disintegration. It can never return, and no one who has any conception of the grandeur which Christ’s incoming kingdom will bring to mankind and to his dwelling place, earth, can have any desire to see the old order reinstated as it was.” (Page 308, column 2) In September the first Cedar Point (Ohio) general convention was held, and with respect to it The Watch Tower as of December 15, 1919, said: “When the attendance was at high tide there were fully 7,000 persons present. Never had such a convention been witnessed by any in present truth; never such a harmonious spirit and keen desire to be a blessing one to another. . . . Indeed, it was good to be there, suggesting to one that such fellowship is a foretaste of the homecoming of the Lord’s people, for which they are longing and waiting.”
At that convention the publication of a new magazine The Golden Age was announced, to great applause, subscriptions were at once taken for it and it came forth in October of that year. The revived Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society sent out eighty-six traveling speakers (or “pilgrims”) during the year. These regular traveling representatives visited the congregations; they visited 6,330 towns and cities, traveling a total of 506,860 miles. They addressed 687 public meetings, the total attendance at which was 107,893. They also held 10,398 class or parlor meetings, with a total attendance of 479,311. (Page 373) At the world-wide celebration of the Lord’s evening meal on April 13, 1919, more than 17,961 celebrated.
As a further symbol that the remnant of Jehovah’s witnesses had been restored and reinstated in the “land” of spiritual Israel, as witnesses of God’s established kingdom, the Bethel home was restored at 124 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn, New York, and it was refurnished and the offices were moved into it. There the international headquarters of Jehovah’s witnesses have continued to this glorious day in 1959. The present group of factory buildings is but the successor of the Society’s first factory, a small one, established at 35 Myrtle Avenue, Brooklyn, in 1920. Today all the world knows that a spiritual nation has been born and is flourishing in its God-given land so quickly brought forth in this day of Jehovah.
That reinstatement of the anointed remnant was the laying of the foundation of a new earth, as foretold in Isaiah 51:16. It is under Jehovah’s Right Shepherd-King, Jesus Christ. Markedly since 1931 he has gathered his “other sheep” to it, to make them “one flock” with the anointed remnant of Kingdom heirs under the “one Shepherd.” In this way the restoration of the anointed remnant to their God-given symbolic “land” on earth furnished the foundation for these hundreds of thousands of “other sheep” to be built on.
In this symbolic “land” of the spiritual Israelites these “other sheep” are as alien residents now. Already they outnumber the remnant of spiritual Israelites more than fifty times to one. This symbolic “land,” this earthly fold of the Right Shepherd-King, will not be desolated by the battle of Armageddon. It will continue on like a firm foundation into the coming order of the “new heavens and a new earth.” When the last of the surviving spiritual remnant has finished his earthly course and is taken into the heavenly government, then the symbolic “land” that was founded in 1919 will be completely occupied by these “alien residents,” the other sheep.
From this we can see the relationship between the birth of the restored nation of Zion’s sons, spiritual Israel, in 1919, and the laying of the “foundation of the earth,” a new earth, for the eternal occupancy of the ransomed and perfected “other sheep.”