Jerusalem—“A Burdensome Stone to All the Peoples”
“And it must occur in that day that I shall make Jerusalem a burdensome stone to all the peoples.”—Zech. 12:3.
1. Why has ancient Jerusalem been outstanding on the international scene recently?
OUTSTANDING on the international scene today is the ancient city of Jerusalem. It is of burning interest to three of the largest religious organizations of the world of mankind, namely, to Mohammedanism, to Christendom and to Jewry. Events of historical importance to all these religious organizations have taken place at this city. Many spots inside and close by the city are considered sacred and are marked by a religious building or otherwise. That is why the city is divided today, the older but smaller part belonging to the Mohammedan nation of Jordan, and the newer but larger part belonging to the Jewish Republic of Israel.
2. In view of the difficulty about the ancient city, what question may someone ask?
2 Since World War II there has been much dangerous international and interreligious difficulty over Jerusalem. Having all this in mind, someone may ask: ‘Is this a modern fulfillment of what Zechariah, an Israelite prophet, wrote in the sixth century before our Common Era regarding this city?’
3. What did the prophet Zechariah write, as referred to by the questioner?
3 Here is what Zechariah the son of Berechiah the son of Iddo wrote at a time when the holy city was an entirely Jewish city: “‘The word of Jehovah concerning Israel,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, the One who is stretching out the heavens and laying the foundation of the earth and forming the spirit of man inside him. ‘Here I am making Jerusalem a bowl causing reeling to all the peoples round about; and also against Judah he will come to be in the siege, even against Jerusalem. And it must occur in that day that I shall make Jerusalem a burdensome stone to all the peoples. All those lifting it will without fail get severe scratches for themselves; and against her all the nations of the earth will certainly be gathered.’”—Zech. 12:1-3.
4. What is the right answer to the question, and what is the basis for such an answer?
4 The answer to the question is No! The earthly Jerusalem with which Bible prophecy has to do passed out of existence in the year 70 of our Common Era. In that year the Roman legions under General Titus destroyed the city after a horrible slaughter of the Jews. For sixty years the city lay desolate. After that, when a city was built on that once holy spot, it was built, not by Jews or Israelites, but by pagan Romans. It was in the year 130 that the Roman Emperor Hadrian visited the ruins and ordered a city to be built there. It came to be called Aelia Capitolina, and on the former temple area a sanctuary was built to the pagan god Jupiter.
5. What changes of aspect and ownership did Jerusalem experience from the days of Emperor Constantine the Great down till now?
5 In the early part of the fourth century Emperor Constantine put on an appearance of becoming a Christian. So Jerusalem, then under Roman control, was given a Christian status. But in 637 C.E. this Jerusalem fell before the Moslems. Later, in 1099 C.E. the Crusaders of Christendom took over the city. On the matter of how the Jews fared in this, The New Jewish Encyclopedia of 1962 (page 237) says: “After the Moslem conquest, Jews were permitted to settle in Jerusalem, but the entire Jewish community was wiped out during the expeditions of the Crusaders.” In the year 1187 Jerusalem fell again before the Moslems, who held the city until the armies of Great Britain took it away in 1917 during World War I. It was in 1948 that the Old City of Jerusalem was cleared of all Jews, after the Jewish garrison in the Old City surrendered to the Moslems on May 28.
6, 7. (a) Jerusalem’s destruction in 70 C.E. fulfilled God’s prophecy by whom, and why could God let earthly Jerusalem be destroyed then? (b) What comparison does the apostle Paul make of the two Jerusalems?
6 Now, as regards the prophecy of Zechariah 12:1-3, back in the year 70, when the Roman legions surrounded the rebellious city of Jerusalem and wiped it out of existence, that prophecy certainly was not fulfilled. Such destruction of ancient Jerusalem by the Roman armies had been foretold by another prophet of Jehovah God, namely, Jesus Christ. According to Jesus’ own statement Jehovah God had abandoned Jerusalem’s house of worship, its temple, and so God did not defend the antichristian city in that year 70. He let it be razed to the ground. God had another Jerusalem in existence at that time, and no Roman armies could destroy it. The Christian apostle Paul called attention to this other Jerusalem even before the earthly Jerusalem was wiped out. When writing to Christians in Asia Minor, Paul spoke of Sarah the true wife of the patriarch Abraham and Hagar his Egyptian concubine, and made this comparison:
7 “Now this Hagar means Sinai, a mountain in Arabia [where the Ten Commandments were given], and she corresponds with the Jerusalem today, for she is in slavery with her children [her Jewish citizens]. But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. Wherefore, brothers, we are children, not of a servant girl, but of the free woman.”—Gal. 4:25, 26, 31.
8. How was this other Jerusalem referred to in the letter written to the Christianized Hebrews?
8 This other Jerusalem, this “Jerusalem above,” was referred to in another letter written years before the Romans destroyed earthly Jerusalem in 70 C.E. This letter was addressed to Hebrews who had become Christians and said to them: “You have not approached that [Mount Sinai] which can be felt and which has been set aflame with fire, and a dark cloud and thick darkness and a tempest [when the Ten Commandments were given there], . . . But you have approached a Mount Zion and a city of the living God, heavenly Jerusalem, and myriads of angels, . . . and God the Judge of all, . . . and Jesus the mediator of a new covenant.”—Heb. 12:18-24.
9. On what did the apostle John in vision see Jesus Christ and his followers standing, and what kept existing there after 70 C.E.?
9 Later on, in a miraculous vision, the Christian apostle John saw the sacrificial Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, standing on the heavenly Mount Zion, and with him there were the 144,000 faithful followers who follow him even to their death. (Rev. 14:1-5; 7:4-8) So, then, the Christians were approaching something heavenly, something that the Romans could never destroy. Consequently, when the Roman legions did destroy the rebellious, antichristian Jerusalem on earth, God’s heavenly Jerusalem on the heavenly Mount Zion kept on existing and serving as the faithful organization of God.
10. Why, then, can we not regard the earthly Jerusalem of today as our religious capital?
10 Well, then, if the apostle Paul and the apostle John did not concern themselves about any earthly city named Jerusalem and its politics, why should we do so today, if we are true Christians? Why should we join Emperor Constantine the Great in considering the pagan city built on the site of the destroyed Jerusalem as a place of sacred Christian history and as something to be cherished religiously? Why should we regard the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which Constantine built in the city, as a holy place or a shrine for Christians? We should not do so. Like Paul and John, we keep in mind the heavenly Jerusalem and the heavenly Zion, to which we are approaching. Hence we cannot regard the earthly Jerusalem of today as our religious capital, nor can we follow the religious theory that, after the year 70 C.E., the religious capital was transferred from earthly Jerusalem to Rome, the destroyer of Jerusalem.
THE JERUSALEM OF THE FULFILLMENT
11. In what ways will earthly Jerusalem of today not fulfill the prophecy of Zechariah 12:2, 3, and will it be spared from destruction?
11 In harmony with the above, intelligent Christians of today cannot view Jerusalem in the Middle East as the city upon which the prophecy of Zechariah 12:2, 3 is to be fulfilled. She is not the city that Jehovah causes to be a bowl from which all the peoples round about go drinking and reeling. She is not the Jerusalem that Jehovah makes “a burdensome stone to all the peoples,” so that, if they try to lift it out of the way, they get scratched very badly. Earthly Jerusalem today does not represent anything divine, deserving to be spared destruction. God did not spare the Jerusalem of Jesus’ day from destruction. Why, then, should the present-day walled city of Jerusalem and the unwalled Jerusalem be spared from destruction in the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Armageddon? (Rev. 16:14-16) It will not be spared. It is not the city that Jehovah God means when he speaks, in Zechariah 12:8, about being a “defense around the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” Who inhabit earthly Jerusalem today?
12 In the prophecy of Isaiah 28:16 Jehovah God made this promise: “Here I am laying as a foundation in Zion a stone, a tried stone, the precious corner of a sure foundation. No one exercising faith will get panicky.” Was the earthly Jerusalem the city in which Jehovah God fulfilled that promise? Not at all!
13 This prophecy of Isaiah 28:16 is quoted by the apostle Paul in his letter to the Roman Christians, and in his argument he does not apply it to the doomed earthly Jerusalem of his day. Right ahead of quoting Isaiah’s prophecy Paul says: “Israel, although pursuing a law of righteousness, did not attain to the law. For what reason? Because he pursued it, not by faith, but as by works. They stumbled on the ‘stone of stumbling.’” Then Paul quotes from Isaiah, saying: “As it is written: ‘Look! I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock-mass of offense, but he that rests his faith on it will not come to disappointment.’”—Rom. 9:31-33.
14, 15. (a) To whom, then, was the apostle Paul applying Isaiah 28:16, and why? (b) How did God lay the symbolic precious cornerstone there?
14 The Jews of Israel did not exercise faith in Jesus Christ as being God’s Son and the promised Messiah. They stumbled over him as over a stone. So they handed him over to the Romans to be nailed to a stake. Rejecting him, they were disappointed in all their hopes. It is evident, therefore, that the apostle Paul was applying the prophecy of Isaiah 28:16 to the heavenly Jerusalem.
15 In the heavenly Zion or Jerusalem Almighty God Jehovah laid his martyred Son Jesus Christ by raising him from the dead on the third day and by exalting him to heaven to be the Chief One in God’s heavenly organization, that is, in the heavenly Zion or Jerusalem. There the resurrected Jesus Christ was seated at God’s right hand.—Ps. 110:1, 2; Acts 2:22-36; Heb. 10:12, 13.
16. According to the apostle Peter, what happened to the Jews who rejected the Stone, but what happened to the believers in the Stone?
16 To those who then believed in Jesus Christ as being the prophetic Stone of Isaiah 28:16 the apostle Peter wrote: “It is to you, therefore, that he is precious, because you are believers; but to those not believing, ‘the identical stone that the builders rejected has become the head of the corner,’ and ‘a stone of stumbling and a rock-mass of offense.’ These are stumbling because they are disobedient to the word. To this very end they were also appointed. But 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. For you were once not a people, but are now God’s people.” (1 Pet. 2:7-10) Thus the Jewish disbelievers were cast away, and the believers in that Stone became God’s people. Hence God let earthly Jerusalem be destroyed in 70 C.E. The heavenly Zion or Jerusalem in which he had laid the Stone remained.
17. (a) Till when did Jesus Christ wait in the heavenly Jerusalem, and what command was then given to him? (b) To whom are the earthly nations enemies?
17 The resurrected Jesus Christ was that royal Stone that Jehovah God laid in the heavenly city as a sure Foundation, in the year 33 C.E. There, at God’s right hand, Jesus Christ had to wait until, as Jehovah God said in Psalm 110:1, 2, “I place your enemies as a stool for your feet.” The time of waiting at God’s right hand would end with the end of the Gentile Times in the year 1914 C.E., at which time Jehovah God would send the rod of Christ’s strength out of the heavenly Zion or Jerusalem, saying: “Go subduing in the midst of your enemies.” Who would those enemies be? All the earthly nations who oppose God’s heavenly kingdom as exercised through his enthroned Son Jesus Christ. As they are the enemies of the royal Stone laid in the heavenly Zion or Jerusalem, they are also the enemies of that heavenly city. The royal Stone Jesus Christ and the heavenly Jerusalem are inseparably linked with each other. In this connection the term Jerusalem has reference more to the capital part of God’s universal organization and hence includes no angels.
18, 19. When does Jehovah make the heavenly Jerusalem a bowl causing reeling and a burdensome stone, and to whom?
18 Not all nations of today are hostile to earthly Jerusalem, but all are hostile to the heavenly Jerusalem. How, then, does God make the invisible heavenly Jerusalem a bowl causing reeling and a burdensome stone causing lacerations to the peoples of all these earthly nations? When does he do this? And why?
19 He would do it after the year 1914 of our Common Era, a year of universal importance. It was in that year that the time for the royal Stone Jesus Christ to wait at God’s right hand ended. Why? Because in the seventh Jewish lunar month of that year, or about October 1, 1914, the “times of the Gentiles” ended.—Luke 21:24, AV.
20. Down to the year 1914, how had God not interfered with the nations, but how did he begin to do so in 1914?
20 Long previous, in the year 607 B.C.E., the Gentile world power of Babylon had overturned God’s kingdom at earthly Jerusalem, and a succession of world powers followed Babylon in exercising political control of all the earth. During all those 2,520 years Jehovah God did not interfere with those nations by setting up again a kingdom in the hands of a royal descendant of King David. But in 1914 the time came for God to do so, at the end of the Gentile Times for domination of all the earth. Then he put in power the royal Stone that had been laid in the heavenly Zion or Jerusalem in the year 33 C.E., namely, Jesus Christ the Son of David.
21. Where was God’s kingdom thus reborn, and what was the big question at that time?
21 Thus God’s kingdom in the royal line of David was reborn, not in earthly Jerusalem, which was then under Turkish control, but in heavenly Jerusalem. At that time the big question was, Were the nations, both those inside Christendom and those outside, willing to submit to God’s newborn kingdom in which Jesus Christ the “Son of David” sat ruling at the heavenly Zion or Jerusalem?
22. How did earthly Jerusalem become involved in World War I, and how did control of the Old City shift down till 1948?
22 In the year 1914 earthly Jerusalem in the Middle East became involved in an international war over world domination, for Jerusalem was then a part of the Turkish Empire. On October 30, 1914, the Allied nations began declaring war on Turkey, as it was then siding with the German Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. On November 5, 1914, Great Britain declared war on Turkey. Thus it came about that on December 9, 1917, the British armies under General Allenby captured earthly Jerusalem, thereby bringing this city under the control of Christendom. Later the British were given the mandate over Palestine by the League of Nations, and the British held this till it ended at 12:01 a.m. of May 15, 1948. After that the Arabs and Jews fought for possession of the Old City. The Arabs won out and the Jews were expelled. All this time none of those nations had heavenly Jerusalem and its King in mind.
23. How did the nations who engaged in World War I really prove to be against the heavenly Jerusalem?
23 Well, then, were the nations that engaged in World War I really against the heavenly Zion and the kingdom of God’s Son Jesus Christ now reigning in her? Yes! They fought to determine which political bloc of nations should hold the leading place in the Gentile domination of all the earth. They ignored and trampled upon the right of heavenly Jerusalem’s King to rule all the earth. Our preaching such a thing angered those nations. (Rev. 11:15-18) In this way they revealed their opposition to God’s kingdom and its King Jesus Christ. They betrayed their anger by becoming angry with true Christians who recognized the beginning of the heavenly kingdom of Jesus Christ and who submitted themselves to its right to rule all the earth. Who were such true Christians?
24. Who were such true Christians against whom the nations became angry?
24 They were the earthly ambassadors of the heavenly kingdom. These were imitating the apostle Paul, who said: “God was by means of Christ reconciling a world to himself, not reckoning to them their trespasses, and he committed the word of the reconciliation to us. We are therefore ambassadors substituting for Christ, as though God were making entreaty through us. As substitutes for Christ we beg: ‘Become reconciled to God.’”—2 Cor. 5:19, 20.
25. During World War I, what were those Kingdom ambassadors proclaiming, and what were they calling upon the people to do?
25 The Kingdom ambassadors were proclaiming that the Gentile Times had ended in 1914 and that the outbreak of World War I with all the horrible things accompanying it was the foretold proof that those “appointed times of the nations” had ended then. They were proclaiming that the nations not submitting to God’s established kingdom would be destroyed in the approaching battle of Armageddon. They called upon the people to turn peacefully to God’s kingdom through Christ, for the people doing so would escape from being destroyed by God’s King now enthroned in the heavenly Jerusalem.
26. Who was then foremost among those Christian ambassadors, and why did they become objects of hatred among all the nations?
26 Recorded history informs us that foremost among those Christians who were thus acting as ambassadors for God’s established kingdom during the years 1914-1916 was a fully dedicated, baptized Christian named Charles Taze Russell. He was then president of the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society with its headquarters in Brooklyn, New York. Christians who associated with this Mr. Russell in proclaiming the end of the Gentile Times and the full establishment of God’s kingdom in the heavens were reproachfully called “Russellites” by their enemies. They continued to be called such even after Russell died on October 31, 1916, after which Joseph F. Rutherford became president of the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society and the foremost spokesman for these international Christian Bible students. At that time the religious clergymen of Christendom actively joined in supporting both sides in World War I in the enormous spilling of blood. However, the Kingdom ambassadors conscientiously refused to be combatants in the international war over political world domination. For this they became objects of hatred among all the nations, as Matthew 24:9 had foretold.
27. What notable book was published in 1917, what notable lecture first given in 1918, and what legal matters developed in 1918 regarding eight prominent men of the Bible Society?
27 In the World War year of 1917 the Watchtower Bible & Tract Society under President Rutherford published The Finished Mystery, a book giving an explanation of the Bible prophecies of Ezekiel and Revelation. The following year, on February 24, at Los Angeles, California, President Rutherford first delivered his famous speech on the electrifying subject “The World Has Ended—Millions Now Living May Never Die.” Not many months later, on June 21, 1918, Rutherford and seven of his Christian associates in the Bible Society were sentenced in Federal Court, under the law against espionage and sedition, to twenty years of imprisonment on each of four counts, these four terms to run concurrently. On Independence Day, July 4, 1918, these eight sentenced representatives of the Bible Society were transferred from Long Island City prison, New York, to the Federal penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia.
28-30. (a) Against what was this treatment of Christian men really an attack? (b) According to the book Preachers Present Arms, who was behind this attack?
28 This proved to be an attack on Christian men. But it was more than that. It was an attack upon the heavenly kingdom of God for which these men were ambassadors. Who was behind this attack? Was it Moslems? Or Hindus? Or Buddhists? Or Confucianists? For our answer we go to a book published in 1933 by a degreed Doctor of Philosophy* of the Department of Sociology of the University of Pennsylvania. The book is entitled “Preachers Present Arms.” In its chapter 10 on “Groups of Irreconcilables” it says, pages 183-185:
29 “An analysis of the whole case leads to the conclusion that the churches and the clergy were originally behind the movement to stamp out the Russellites. In Canada, in February, 1918, the ministers began a systematic campaign against them and their publications, particularly The Finished Mystery. According to the Winnipeg Tribune, the attention of the attorney general had been called to the Russellites, and the suppression of their book was believed to have been directly brought about by the ‘representations of the clergy.’
30 “In Worcester, Massachusetts, B. F. Wayland called upon the authorities to arrest the International Bible Students and prevent them from meeting in their halls. Following this and similar pleas by the hierarchy of the orthodox churches, the Russellites began to be arrested in various centers.
31. How did the religious clergy react to the sentencing of these Christians to prison, and what had the government apparently accomplished for the clergy?
31 “When the news of the twenty-year sentences reached the editors of the religious press, practically every one of those publications great and small, rejoiced over the event. I have been unable to discover any words of sympathy in any of the orthodox religious journals. ‘There can be no question,’ concluded Upton Sinclair, that ‘the persecution . . . sprang in part from the fact that they had won the hatred of “orthodox” religious bodies.’ What the combined efforts of the churches had failed to do the government now seemed to have succeeded in accomplishing for them—the crushing of these ‘prophets of Baal’ forever. . . .
32. How did the clergy react to the later release of those Christians?
32 “One year later, after the condemned men had spent the twelve months in the Federal Penitentiary at Atlanta, the Court of Appeals reversed the decision and the men were free. This verdict was greeted with silence in the churches. . . .
33. Under spell of wartime hysteria, what matters did legal courts see good to take up?
33 “ . . . Long-lived religious quarrels and hatreds, which did not receive any consideration in the courts in time of peace, now found their way into the courtroom under the spell of war-time hysteria.”
A “BOWL CAUSING REELING”
34. What did such a climax to the religious persecution affect, and what prophecy in Revelation about God’s witnesses was thus realized?
34 The persecution against those dedicated Christians during World War I apparently reached a climax in the above-mentioned imprisonment of topmost representatives of the Kingdom ambassadors. It affected very much the witnessing to God’s established kingdom by those Christian Bible Students. Here apparently the prophecy of Revelation 11:7-19 was realized, that the symbolic “two witnesses” of God were killed by the political “wild beast” that had ascended out of the abyss. Truly at the death of the “two witnesses” the people dwelling on the earth rejoiced and celebrated and left what was left of the “two witnesses” lying exposed to public shame.
35. Whom, really, were men persecuting by persecuting the Kingdom ambassadors during World War I, and according to what rule laid down by Jesus Christ?
35 In the prophetic parable of the sheep and the goats Jesus Christ as King lays down the rule: “To the extent that you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” (Matt. 25:40) When the Jewish Pharisee, Saul of Tarsus, was persecuting the Jewish Christians, the resurrected Jesus Christ miraculously appeared to him and applied this rule of judging and said: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4; Phil. 3:4-6) Similarly, during World War I, when men persecuted and opposed the Christian ambassadors of God’s kingdom, they were persecuting and opposing Jesus Christ, the royal Stone who had been laid in the heavenly Zion or Jerusalem. This violent opposition, however, was not to be without its consequences for the persecutors.
36. Against what course of action had Jehovah God warned the nations in Zechariah 12:2, 3?
36 Long ago, in Zechariah 12:1-3, Jehovah God had warned the peoples of the nations not to tamper with his heavenly Jerusalem and its King of the royal house of David and of the tribe of Judah. If they did such tampering, they would do so with hurt to themselves. Jehovah the Creator said: “Here I am making Jerusalem a bowl causing reeling to all the peoples round about; and also against Judah he will come to be in the siege, even against Jerusalem. And it must occur in that day that I shall make Jerusalem a burdensome stone to all the peoples. All those lifting it will without fail get severe scratches for themselves; and against her all the nations of the earth will certainly be gathered.”
37, 38. (a) According to Zechariah’s prophecy, against whom was the siege to be? (b) In our day who are the Judeans meant in Zechariah’s prophecy?
37 Against whom did this prophecy say the siege would be? Not just against the capital city Jerusalem, but also against Judah. In the days of the prophet Zechariah Judah was the land over which the rebuilt Jerusalem ruled. The people of Judah were the subjects of Jerusalem and its royal house of David’s family line.
38 In our day the land of Judah against which the siege foretold by Zechariah 12:2 is carried on is held by the spiritual Judeans, the spiritual ambassadors of the heavenly Jerusalem. A remnant of these spiritual Jews, some thousands of them, still remains in the earth. Remember that, in Romans 2:28, 29, the apostle Paul says that a person is not a Jew or Judean who is one outwardly in his circumcised flesh. The real Jew or Judean is the person who is such on the inside, with a circumcised heart. Each one of the remnant is such.
39. With whom will this remnant at last be joined, and so a siege against them is in effect a siege against whom?
39 As Hebrews 12:22 states it, the remnant have approached a Mount Zion more exalted than the earthly one, on which is the “city of the living God, heavenly Jerusalem.” When those in this remnant finish their earthly career as ambassadors substituting for Christ, they will be joined with the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, now reigning in heavenly glory on Mount Zion. (Rev. 14:1-3) So by besieging this remnant, the enemy peoples are also in effect besieging the heavenly Jerusalem or Mount Zion. They are trying to block Christ’s rule over all the earth and its inhabitants.
40, 41. (a) In Revelation, chapter twelve, this devilish activity against Kingdom ambassadors is seen in connection with what birth and what war? (b) What other offspring does the heavenly Jerusalem have, and what does the ousted Satan the Devil do toward them?
40 This devilish activity against the peaceful ambassadors of God’s kingdom was foreshown in prophetic picture in chapter twelve of the Revelation to the apostle John. Re Chapter twelve pictures the heavenly Jerusalem, God’s organization, as a woman made radiant with heavenly light. As God’s woman or wife, she gives birth to a son. The son is snatched from the jaws of the fiery Dragon, Satan the Devil, and is caught away to the woman’s husband, God, and is seated on God’s throne. This foils the Dragon’s scheme. A war in heaven follows this birth and enthronement of God’s kingdom with Christ in royal authority. The Dragon and his demon angels are whipped and cast out of heaven and down to our earth. A triumphant cry rings through heaven, saying: “Now have come to pass the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ, because the accuser of our brothers has been hurled down, who accuses them day and night before our God!” (Rev. 12:1-10) Thus the son of the heavenly Jerusalem is shown to be God’s kingdom with Jesus Christ as acting King.
41 The heavenly Jerusalem has other offspring or seed. These are yet down on the earth. So what does the Dragon, Satan the Devil, do, now that he has been cast down to the earth? Up in heaven he could not devour heavenly Jerusalem’s son who was caught away to God’s throne. So at the earth he tries to devour the rest of her offspring or seed. By persecuting them and fighting against their Christian work he persecutes their mother, God’s woman, the heavenly Jerusalem. Revelation 12:17 describes this, saying: “The dragon grew wrathful at the woman, and went off to wage war with the remaining ones of her seed, who observe the commandments of God and have the work of bearing witness to Jesus.” Such remaining ones of the offspring of the heavenly Jerusalem must today bear witness to Jesus as being the reigning King whom God enthroned.
42. By what means does the invisible Dragon wage war upon these Kingdom ambassadors on earth?
42 How, though, does the invisible, spiritual Dragon, Satan the Devil, wage war upon these ambassadors of the newborn Kingdom? By using the earthly, visible kingdoms of this world, of which he is the god. (2 Cor. 4:4) The Dragon can use these worldly kingdoms to pass laws against the Kingdom ambassadors in order to stop them.
43, 44. (a) How did the reappearance of the Kingdom ambassadors in 1919 affect their enemies? (b) How was this pictured in the Revelation to John?
43 During World War I these Kingdom ambassadors had a temporary setback. But in the spring of 1919 they reappeared on the earthly scene of activity, after the president of the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society and his seven fellow prisoners were released from the Federal penitentiary of Atlanta, Georgia, never to return there. Ever since then the abased Dragon has waged war upon them. He has been the unseen instigator behind the persecution carried on by the worldly nations. These Kingdom witnesses were under Christ’s command recorded in Matthew 24:14 to preach this good news of the kingdom of God in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations. When they arose to this work, their reappearance was frustrating to the Dragon, yes, and to all the worldly nations lying under the power of that wicked one. It was like their resurrection from the dead, like a rising from international disgrace to heavenly honors. This is exactly how it was pictured in the Revelation to John. He tells us this about the “two witnesses”:
44 “And after the three and a half days spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet, and great fear fell upon those beholding them. And they heard a loud voice out of heaven say to them: ‘Come on up here.’ And they went up into heaven in the cloud, and their enemies beheld them.”—Rev. 11:11, 12. Compare with this Revelation 9:1-6.
JUST HURTING THEMSELVES
45. In what condition with relation to the heavenly Jerusalem are the spiritual Judeans pictured in Zechariah 12:7?
45 The spiritual resurrected Kingdom ambassadors are really spiritual Jews or Judeans, who have not yet entered into the heavenly kingdom, in the heavenly Jerusalem. As they are yet on earth and are exposed to the Devil’s warfare by means of his earthly governments, they are outside the heavenly Jerusalem and thus are tenting in the field outside her walls. From this standpoint Zechariah 12:7 prophetically says: “And Jehovah will certainly save the tents of Judah first, to the end that the beauty of the house of David and the beauty of the inhabitants of Jerusalem may not become too great over Judah.”—Compare 2 Samuel 11:11.
46. Why are those spiritual “tents of Judah” saved first, and what is the enemy made to realize thereby?
46 Naturally, those tenting out in the open fields of the territory of Judah are the first ones whom the enemy can reach. Hence they need salvation first. The beauty of salvation by Jehovah needs to be seen to be upon these tenters also, and this first. The spiritual nation as a whole is involved, and not just the capital city and the royal family there. Jehovah’s salvation of the tents of the spiritual Judeans first makes the enemy realize that the Judean remnant of Kingdom ambassadors are of value in God’s estimation, more so than the scornful enemy had thought. Thus the enemy is forced to appreciate that the remnant are just as precious to Jehovah God and just as deserving of his salvation as are the other members of the spiritual Israel who are already glorified with the reigning King Jesus Christ in the heavenly kingdom.
47. What is the “beauty” that must be also upon the remnant of spiritual Judeans yet on earth, and why may they not be left out of account?
47 The remnant yet on earth will share in the beauty of salvation along with the heavenly Jerusalem and with her King of the “house of David” and all his joint heirs. The Kingdom will not leave out of account this faithful remnant yet on earth. They too must be made joint heirs in the Kingdom in order for the Kingdom’s royal family to be complete according to the purpose of Jehovah God. Thus, although Jesus Christ is God’s appointed Head of the heavenly royal family, he shares his heavenly glory with joint heirs. (John 17:22-24) The final glory of the whole royal family will be rightly balanced or adjusted for all its members. In this way the beauty of the house of the Greater David and the beauty of the inhabitants of the heavenly Jerusalem (his joint heirs) will not be too great over that of the remnant of spiritual Judeans yet on earth under siege.
48. By laying siege against God’s royal interests, how do the enemies affect themselves, and why?
48 The nations of this earth besiege the heavenly Jerusalem and her royal “house of David” in that they lay siege to the remnant of her Kingdom ambassadors. By doing this they only hurt themselves. They get an experience that sends them reeling. Yes, they come away all cut up. They have to settle with God whenever, in their malice, they touch the interests of God’s kingdom and the interests of God’s Kingdom ambassadors. Even now before the battle of Armageddon breaks out, they are made to know this in a preliminary sense.
49. How do the enemies gather as around a community drinking cup, and how does what they drink affect them?
49 The nations have much glee at the time that they persecute the Kingdom ambassadors and despoil them. But this brings them no lasting satisfaction and no final triumph. In the heavenly Zion or Jerusalem the royal Stone Jesus Christ has been firmly laid, and so when they gather around the Kingdom ambassadors as around a community drinking cup and expect to drink the tastiest wine, they do drink something. But what a drink! It gives them no lasting pleasure and no sense of complacency. Instead, they are sent reeling with a dizziness that deprives them of their knowing what to do next or where to go. This reaction makes their fall certain.
50. What warning illustration of the boomeranging of matters was given in the days of Mordecai the Jew?
50 Here are a number of warning illustrations of backfire and boomeranging of matters taken from true life. The prophet Zechariah completed his book of prophecy in 519 B.C.E. About forty-five years after this the Amalekite Haman was prime minister of the Persian Empire. He caused an unchangeable law to be enacted against Jehovah’s people throughout the empire’s one hundred and twenty-seven provinces, including Jerusalem rebuilt. According to this law all of Jehovah’s people were to be massacred on the thirteenth day of the month Adar in the year 474 B.C.E. For a time Haman gloried in his spite work against Jehovah’s people, and then reverses began to come. His wife forewarned him: “If it is from the seed of the Jews that Mordecai is before whom you have started to fall, you will not prevail against him, but you will without fail fall before him.” (Esther 6:13) Haman had gloried over his political and legal triumph over Jehovah’s people, including Jerusalem. Suddenly his joy was turned to chagrin when he himself was hanged on the very gallows that he had prepared for the Jew Mordecai. Later, on the fatal day, Jehovah’s people defended themselves with imperial authority and slaughtered their enemies who dared to act on Haman’s law. As a climax Haman’s ten sons were hanged on the scaffold that their own father had built to hang one of Jehovah’s hated people.
51. What warning illustration was given at the time that King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon set up his golden image?
51 Years before that, some Babylonian soldiers threw the faithful Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego into the fiery furnace for refusing to bow down in worship before the idolatrous golden image set up by King Nebuchadnezzar. But the Babylonian soldiers were themselves burned to death by the furnace flames, whereas the three faithful worshipers of Jehovah God came out alive.—Dan. 3:21-27.
52. What illustration was given at the time that the prophet Daniel refused to stop praying to his God?
52 Years later, their close friend, Daniel the prophet, was thrown into the lions’ den for refusing to stop praying daily to Jehovah God. Political schemers had forced through a law to make Daniel a criminal for keeping up his worship of Jehovah. Next day Daniel was taken out alive, unhurt, but the schemers themselves were thrown to the lions and were devoured.—Dan. 6:1-24.
53. What illustration was given at the end of Jesus’ first presence on earth in 33 C.E.?
53 In the year 33 of our Common Era Jesus Christ was put to death at the urging of Jerusalem’s religious leaders, who cried out: “We have no king but Caesar.” By accomplishing his death at Roman hands the enemies thought they had forever silenced the preaching work of Jesus’ devoted followers. But on the third day after Jesus’ death God raised him from the dead. Then Jesus commanded his followers to take up preaching again, not only in Jerusalem and Judea but in all the inhabited earth, everywhere making disciples for Jesus from people of all the nations.—Matt. 28:19, 20; 24:14.
54. What illustration was given in the days of the twelve apostles down till Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 C.E.?
54 Because the apostles of the resurrected Jesus obeyed him and preached openly in the temple, the religious authorities of Jerusalem objected. They jailed the apostles, but God’s angel let them out by night and told them to go back and resume preaching in the temple. Arrested and brought before the religious Supreme Court, they explained their not stopping preaching by saying: “We must obey God as ruler rather than men. . . . And we are witnesses of these matters, and so is the holy spirit, which God has given to those obeying him as ruler.” Reeling back at this insuperable defense, the Court judges took counsel and then followed Gamaliel’s advice: “Do not meddle with these men, but let them alone; (because, if this scheme or this work is from men, it will be overthrown; but if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them;) otherwise, you may perhaps be found fighters actually against God.” (Acts 5:17-39) Despite persecution, the Christian congregation continued in Jerusalem. Only when Jerusalem’s destruction by the Romans in the year 70 approached did the Christian congregation flee from the city beforehand. The fighters against God again lost, badly cut up!
55. How do the religious systems of Christendom refer to Jehovah’s Christian witnesses, and how did Hitler lose in his fight against their God?
55 However, let us come down now to our own days. The Dragon, Satan the Devil, has egged on the peoples of the nations to war against the anointed ambassadors of God’s established kingdom. In 1931 these Kingdom ambassadors began identifying themselves by the name “Jehovah’s witnesses.” The religious systems of Christendom have despised this name and continue calling us the “false witnesses of Jehovah.” After World War I Satan the Devil raised up political dictators to stamp out the witnesses in various nations. In 1934 there was worldwide protest made against Hitler’s diabolical persecution of Jehovah’s witnesses. In Berlin, Germany, Dr. Wilhelm Frick, the Minister of the Interior, in irritation at the protest, said to the dictator: “If the Bible Students do not immediately get in line we will act against them using the strongest means.” Thereupon Hitler screamed: “This brood will be exterminated in Germany.” But Hitler just made trouble for himself. He lost his fight against God. Today Jehovah’s witnesses continue openly meeting and preaching in West Germany. Even in Communist East Germany Jehovah’s witnesses faithfully carry on, but underground.
56. How has Communist Russia been served with notice and how are they losing in their fight against the God of the Witnesses?
56 In Communist Russia dictator after dictator has taken control. Jehovah’s witnesses, being declared outlaws in Russia and its Communist satellites, have gone underground. At the risk of life and freedom they choose to obey God rather than men. In 1956-1957, by Resolutions adopted at large district assemblies in free countries around the globe, they related to the prime minister instances of Communist Russia’s persecution. They asked for the situation of Jehovah’s witnesses to be reconsidered on the basis of freedom of religion. What was Dictator Khrushchev’s answer? A stepping up of the persecution.* Yet reports successfully get out of Russia to prove that Jehovah’s witnesses are very much alive underground, to the great concern of the Communist fighters against God. In this fight they are the ones to get hurt, not God nor Jerusalem above.
57, 58. (a) How have Jehovah’s witnesses been besieged in lands called democratic? (b) How did the American Supreme Court indicate it had got scratched in connection with its decision regarding schoolchildren of Jehovah’s witnesses?
57 Even in lands called democratic, governments and peoples have besieged Jehovah’s witnesses to break down their Christian integrity. Communities have framed mischief against them by law, causing them to be haled before courts of law and jailed, with the aim of stopping our preaching of God’s kingdom from house to house.
58 Such attempts at misapplying the law have failed. Because we decline to break our Christian neutrality toward the mortal conflicts of this world, our meeting places and public assemblies have been mobbed. In 1940 the United States Supreme Court by a vote of 8 to 1 decided that children of Jehovah’s witnesses attending public school must obey school ordinances to ascribe their protection and salvation to a national emblem and give it religious devotion. The wave of mobbings that followed throughout the land became a national scandal. The Supreme Court felt severely scratched or lacerated. On June 14, 1943, by a vote of 6 to 3, the high court reversed itself on this same issue and declared in favor of freedom of religious worship according to one’s conscience, handing down this courageous decision while World War II was still raging.
59, 60. (a) How have the enemies created legal fights for themselves, and with what results? (b) What spirit since World War II is causing further difficulties for the Witnesses?
59 Repeatedly Jehovah’s witnesses have fought back legally as in Queen Esther’s day and have carried the fight even up to the American Supreme Court. They have won 36 out of 50 cases reaching this highest court. In Canada similar legal fights have been waged by Jehovah’s witnesses and victories have been won in its courts.
60 Other national governments have tampered with the religious rights of Jehovah’s witnesses, but with distasteful results to themselves. (Prov. 6:27, 28) But the spirit of nationalism is getting stronger in all the earth during these years since World War II, and this is creating further difficulties for Jehovah’s witnesses.
61. What has been the effect of the Dragon’s warfare against the remnant upon many observers, and what have they done?
61 For forty-six years now the abased Dragon, Satan the Devil, has led earthly nations in warring against the remaining ones of the offspring of heavenly Jerusalem, the anointed ambassadors of God’s heavenly kingdom of the “house of David.” What, however, has been the effect of this warfare? Hundreds of thousands of observers have discerned that these religious and political systems of this world are actually fighting against God, fighting against heavenly Jerusalem and its enthroned royal family of the “house of David.” These observers have gratefully accepted the witness given by the Kingdom ambassadors and have aligned themselves on the side of the Kingdom ambassadors, on the side of the heavenly Jerusalem and its recently born kingdom of the “house of David.” They forsake the ranks of those who are laying siege to the heavenly Jerusalem and its Davidic kingdom. They join the anointed Kingdom ambassadors in preaching the Kingdom message all around the globe. They give their full dedicated support to the “tents of Judah” out in the field of action, whose tents Jehovah has promised to save first.
ANNIHILATION FOR BESIEGERS
62. Such experiences resulting to the nations from tampering with Kingdom representatives are preliminary to what final fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy about the burdensome stone?
62 Thus far the peoples and nations have been sent reeling and been given severe lacerations for tampering with the visible representatives on earth of the heavenly Jerusalem and its King of the house of David. But this is only the preliminary to the grand final fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy. Not yet have nations learned enough to quit meddling, to lift their siege. Under unseen demonic influence they are being gathered to a situation that calls for a final, all-decisive war with God the Almighty, an Armageddon battle. (Rev. 16:14-16) In their last attempt to move God’s kingdom of the heavenly Jerusalem out of the way like a big obstructing stone, by trying to have us Kingdom preachers moved out of the way, they will be lacerated to shreds. The royal Stone laid in Zion (or Jerusalem) will smash them, as the stone smashed the metallic image seen in the king of Babylon’s dream. Jesus Christ, the royal Stone, said to his opposers: “The person falling upon this stone will be shattered. As for anyone upon whom it falls, it will pulverize him.”—Matt. 21:44; Dan. 2:34, 36, 44, 45.
63. As the enemies tighten their siege, why need we not give way to panicky fear?
63 Consequently, as the earthly enemies strengthen and broaden their siege against us preachers and upholders of God’s kingdom as the only rightful government for all the earth, we need not give way to panicky fear. Almighty God will give us courage to meet the final situation. “‘In that day,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘I shall strike every horse with bewilderment and its rider with madness; and upon the house of Judah I shall open my eyes, and every horse of the peoples I shall strike with loss of sight. And the sheiks of Judah will have to say in their heart, “The inhabitants of Jerusalem are a strength to me by Jehovah of armies their God.” In that day I shall make the sheiks of Judah like a fire pot among trees and like a fiery torch in a row of newly cut grain, and they must devour on the right hand and on the left all the peoples round about; and Jerusalem must yet be inhabited in her own place, in Jerusalem.’” (Zech. 12:4-6) So we can be courageous.
64. What will Jehovah do to the enemy war machine, and what will the spiritual “sheiks of Judah” have to admit?
64 Our God Jehovah promises us to take care of the attacking horse and its rider, the visible war machine of Satan the Devil. Jehovah will blind it and throw it into bewilderment, but he will keep his own eyes open on his spiritual Judeans on earth and their loyal companions, to preserve them and look out for their welfare as His people. The spiritual sheiks of the royal tribe of Judah will have to admit that the strength to keep on upholding the heavenly Jerusalem and its royal house is not their own strength. It results, rather, from the invisible backing that they get from the royal inhabitants of the heavenly Jerusalem, mainly Jesus Christ.
65. How do those “sheiks” and those serving under them fight against the enemy, and to what is the effect thereof likened?
65 The spiritual sheiks of Judah and, of course, those who serve under them will not fight the foe with mortal fleshly weapons. Our only weapons are spiritual ones, the written Word of God and its messages. By publishing God’s Word so as to make the besiegers and attackers feel the consuming heat of Jehovah’s indignation the spiritual sheiks of Judah will, figuratively, cause a conflagration. Even now, under angelic guidance, they are being used to pour out the ‘seven last plagues of the anger of God’ on all peoples alienated from Him. (Rev. 15:1 to 16:21) O how this pains our besiegers!
66, 67. (a) As respects the enemy nations, what will Jehovah then be seeking? (b) As respects the spiritual Judeans and their loyal helpers, what will Jehovah find?
66 At the time for the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” he will not have to look far to find a just cause for annihilating those who attack the spiritual Judeans and their dedicated companions. But he will find much for which to protect his Kingdom ambassadors and their loyal helpers. Hence by his prophet he says:
67 “And Jehovah will certainly save the tents of Judah first, to the end that the beauty of the house of David and the beauty of the inhabitants of Jerusalem may not become too great over Judah. In that day Jehovah will be a defense around the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and the one that is stumbling among them must become in that day like David, and the house of David like God, like Jehovah’s angel before them. And it must occur in that day that I shall seek to annihilate all the nations that are coming against Jerusalem.”—Zech. 12:7-9.
68. “In that day” with what will the besiegers really be tampering?
68 “In that day” the heavenly Jerusalem will in the fullest way be made a drinking bowl causing reeling and a burdensome stone causing severe scratches to those who think they are strong enough to lift God’s kingdom out of the way. Their malicious tampering with the Kingdom interests of the heavenly Jerusalem will backfire and hurt the tamperers. They tamper with their own annihilation at the hands of Jehovah God, who can destroy both body and soul in the Gehenna of everlasting destruction. (Matt. 10:28) Let them beware!
69. What is our obligation toward God’s angel who goes before us, and what is reserved for those who do this?
69 As for us, when we consider the enemies to be faced on earth, we may feel weak, like stumblers, like those unable to keep walking erect. But the heavenly kingdom is strong, mighty enough to smash all the enemies into nonexistence. Her reigning King, Jesus Christ of the “house of David,” will live up to his God-given name “Mighty God.” He will be Jehovah’s angel to go before us. We must continue following him, the Greater David. Hence there is every reason for us to trust in Jehovah God and to draw strength to endure till the utter annihilation of the enemy besiegers. For the spiritual “tents of Judah” and for the “great multitude” of their loyal companions on earth there will be final salvation from Jehovah our God by his invincible King of kings, Jesus Christ.—Isa. 9:6; Rev. 7:9-17, AV.
Ray H. Abrams, Ph.D., his publisher being the Round Table Press, Inc., New York, N.Y.
On page 52 of the Sunday News as of February 2, 1964, appeared the article entitled “Anti-Religious Drive Appears Near in Soviet,” with the dateline “Moscow, Feb. 1 (AP).” In its eighth paragraph under the subheading “Aimed at Small Groups” this article said:
“In recent years, much of the anti-religious propaganda has been aimed especially at the small groups, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who actively promote non-obedience to the state.”