Questions From Readers
● At Revelation 3:15, 16 hot and cold are mentioned. Yet, Christ indicated that he would vomit out only the persons who were lukewarm. Why?—M. S., U.S.A.
Jesus Christ was expressing dissatisfaction when to “the angel of the congregation in Laodicea” he said: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were cold or else hot. So, because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of my mouth.” (Rev. 3:14-16) Members of the Christian congregation in Laodicea were not refreshingly spiritual in attitude. They were lukewarm, indifferent or apathetic. They thought they were rich spiritually and needed nothing. However, in the Lord’s estimation they were “miserable and pitiable and poor and blind and naked.” Fittingly, then, he urged them to repentance.—Rev. 3:17-19.
At first one might assume that the hot condition mentioned at Revelation 3:15, 16 refers to being hot with zeal or love, whereas the cold state refers to a lack of such qualities, indicating that they had grown cold. But Christ said: “Because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of my mouth.” Neither the cold nor the hot would be spewed out. If the cold mentioned had reference to coldness in love or zeal, surely such would have been vomited out. To the Lord, the cold was just as acceptable as the hot; he would vomit out only what was lukewarm. So, at Revelation 3:15, 16 “cold” does not stand in opposition to “hot.”
Apparently in this case a figure of speech was selected that was intended to strike a blow at the indifference manifested by the Laodiceans. And they surely could comprehend the statement of “the faithful and true witness.” Near Laodicea there were hot and cold springs. Also, it was customary to serve cold and hot drinks at feasts, not beverages that were lukewarm.
On a cold day a hot liquid, such as hot soup, is welcome and stimulating. When temperatures soar, a cold beverage, such as cold lemonade, is refreshing. A lukewarm liquid would not be very pleasing in either case.
Quite apparently, by his words recorded at Revelation 3:14-19, the Lord Jesus Christ was indicating that the lukewarm spiritual state of the Christians in Laodicea was grossly unacceptable to him. They needed to take positive steps, acting to dispel apathy and increase their spirituality.
● From what is said at Isaiah 14:22 are we to understand that each individual Babylonian was finally destroyed?—E. K., U.S.A.
Isaiah 14:22 reads: “‘And I will rise up against them,’ is the utterance of Jehovah of armies. ‘And I will cut off from Babylon name and remnant and progeny and posterity,’ is the utterance of Jehovah.” This surely meant annihilation for Babylon. But we need not take the view that this called for the actual personal destruction of each individual Babylonian.
The Babylonian dynasty, symbolized in the Bible by the “king of Babylon,” rules no more. (Isa. 14:4) It perished centuries ago. And as a people the Chaldeans and Babylonians are no longer in existence. By some means, which could include intermarriage and the loss of genealogical records, they have been wiped out. Of course, undoubtedly many Babylonians and Chaldeans were killed when the Medes and Persians overthrew Babylon in 539 B.C.E. However, after the period of Medo-Persian domination, Greek armies under Alexander the Great occupied Babylon, such control lasting until 323 B.C.E. Then came the Seleucidae, the Parthians, the Sassanian Dynasty and the Moslem Arabs, in succession. Hence, the land of ancient Babylonia was subjected to the effects of foreign domination, and those residing in it were subjected to the possibility of assimilation by other peoples. In any event, no one now living can say with certainty that he is a pure Babylonian or Chaldean.
Today Babylon itself is but a place of ruins, visited by tourists, but without native inhabitants. That great city, its kings and all the Chaldeans and Babylonians who once resided in it have faded away with the passing of time. Jehovah has indeed “cut off from Babylon name and remnant and progeny and posterity.” His pronouncement recorded at Isaiah 14:22 has truly found fulfillment. This is but one of the many evidences proving that Jehovah’s “holy spirit . . . spoke through Isaiah the prophet” and that Jehovah God does not lie.—Acts 28:25; Heb. 6:18.
● A careful comparison of Matthew 1:1-16 with Luke 3:23-38 shows that Matthew gave the lineage of Jesus Christ through Solomon, whereas Luke gave it through Nathan, another son of David. Why, then, do both genealogies list Shealtiel and Zerubbabel?—M. K., Alaska.
It was evidently through a marriage that the family line leading to Jesus from King David through his son Nathan merged with the line through Solomon after many generations.
First Chronicles 3:16-18 shows that Shealtiel was the fleshly son of Jeconiah (King Jehoiachin). With this Matthew agrees, in stating: “After the deportation to Babylon Jeconiah became father to Shealtiel.” (Matt. 1:12) However, Luke did not err in indicating that Shealtiel was “the son of Neri.” (Luke 3:27) Apparently this was true, because Neri gave his daughter to Shealtiel in marriage. Since it was not uncommon for the Hebrews to refer to a son-in-law as a son, and especially so in genealogical listings, Luke could properly refer to Shealtiel as the son of Neri, just as he had already referred to Joseph as the son of Heli, who was actually the father of Joseph’s wife, Mary.—Luke 3:23.
Hence, it was through such a marital union that the family line of David through Nathan merged with the line through Solomon. This would also account for the fact that both Matthew and Luke mention Shealtiel’s son Zerubbabel. Eventually, through different descendants of Zerubbabel, the two family lines again took separate courses in leading to Jesus Christ.
With good reason, then, the book “Things in Which It Is Impossible for God to Lie” states on page 71: “Most of the Jews surviving the fall and destruction of Jerusalem were carried into exile into Babylon. Among the captive Jews there during the next seventy years was one named Neri, who had descended from King David through his son Nathan. This family line now became interrelated with Solomon’s family through Shealtiel and his son Zerubbabel.” The interrelating of these lines of descent is also shown on pages 112 and 113 of this publication.
For additional information on the genealogies of Jesus Christ as presented by Matthew and Luke, please see The Watchtower of March 1, 1962, pages 158 and 159.