The Gathering of All Nations to One Temple to Worship
1. How did Jehovah make Jesus a spiritual priest, and what spiritual santuary then took on form?
NOW the great spiritual tabernacle sanctuary of Jehovah God took form. How so? Because now the antitypical “Holy” of God’s spiritual temple came into existence. This was because God poured out his holy spirit upon Jesus and made Jesus a spiritual priest. God begot Jesus with his spirit in order to make him a spiritual Son of God, clothed with the honor of a priesthood higher than that of the earthly Jewish high priest of the family of Aaron.
2. Into what condition did Jesus thus come to be, and into what part of Jehovah’s spiritual temple could he enter, to do what there?
2 Hence Paul writes: “A man takes this honor, not of his own accord, but only when he is called by God, just as Aaron also was. So too the Christ did not glorify himself by becoming a high priest, but was glorified by him who spoke with reference to him: ‘You are my son; I, today, I have become your father.’ Just as he says also in another place: ‘You are a priest forever according to the manner of Melchizedek.’” (Heb. 5:4-6) Jesus thus came to be in a spirit-begotten condition, even though he was still in the flesh. In this condition he could enter into the antitypical “Holy” of Jehovah’s spiritual temple. In that “Holy” he could offer up incense of prayer, praise and service to God like incense.
3. (a) What other compartment of Jehovah’s spiritual temple also took on form, and with what features within it? (b) Thus Jehovah’s spiritual temple began functioning from when onward?
3 Now, also, the Most Holy of God’s spiritual temple took form, that is to say, that definite area of heaven where Jehovah God thrones in person above the heavenly cherubs, as above a mercy seat or “propitiatory cover.” (Ps. 80:1; Num. 7:89; Heb. 9:4, 5) In this heavenly area that has now taken on the characteristics of a Most Holy compartment or innermost room, Jehovah thrones as above the propitiatory cover of the ark of the new covenant, ready and willing to be propitiated, appeased, softened by a satisfying sin offering, the perfect human sacrifice of his High Priest Jesus Christ at the climax of the great antitypical Day of Atonement. (Lev. 16:1-34) Thus now the great antitypical spiritual temple of Jehovah God had come into existence, with its antitypical Most Holy and Holy and courtyard with its altar of sacrifice. From Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River in 29 C.E. Jehovah’s real temple was functioning, with blessings in store for all mankind.
4. (a) When did Jehovah bring Jesus Christ beyond the “curtain” into the real Most Holy, and how? (b) When did the antitypical Day of Atonement end, and how?
4 Now, the only thing that separated Jesus Christ as High Priest from Jehovah’s true Most Holy was that symbolic “curtain,” that barrier of the fleshly organism. “Flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s kingdom.” (1 Cor. 15:50) For this reason Jesus Christ completed his perfect human sacrifice on God’s “altar” by dying as an innocent victim on Passover Day, Nisan 14, of the year 33 C.E. But on the third day of Jesus’ death, namely, on Nisan 16, Almighty God brought his High Priest Jesus Christ beyond that intervening “curtain,” by raising him from the dead, not as a High Priest of flesh and blood, but as a High Priest in the spirit, partaking of the “divine nature” and clothed upon with immortality. (1 Pet. 3:18; 1 Cor. 15:42-54; 2 Pet. 1:4) The temple “curtain,” illustrating the fleshly barrier, was now indeed passed for the resurrected Jesus Christ, and so on the fortieth day from his resurrection he could ascend to heaven itself and appear before the person of God with the precious value of his sin-atoning blood, to present it at God’s propitiatory throne in behalf of all mankind. With that presentation the great antitypical Day of Atonement came to an end.
THE CONGREGATION OF SPIRITUAL UNDERPRIESTS
5, 6. (a) When did Jesus Christ begin to build his congregation upon himself as the Rock? (b) How did the members of the congregation become spiritual underpriests, and how does 1 Peter 2:5, 9 speak of this?
5 In the light of all the foregoing, nothing could be clearer than that the tent constructed by Moses and the temples built by Solomon, Zerubbabel and Herod at Jerusalem did not picture the congregation of Christ’s disciples. That Christian congregation did not come into existence until the fiftieth day after Jesus’ resurrection and hence after he had ascended to heaven and appeared in “heaven itself” before the person of God in their behalf. Speaking of himself as the symbolic Rock, Jesus said to his twelve apostles: “On this rock-mass I will build my congregation, and the gates of Haʹdes will not overpower it.” (Matt. 16:18) He began to build this spiritual congregation on the festival day of Pentecost ten days after his ascension to heaven in 33 C.E. He received holy spirit from God and channeled it down upon his waiting disciples on earth at Jerusalem. In this manner they became spirit-begotten and this resulted in their becoming spiritual sons of God. By that same spirit they were anointed to become spiritual underpriests under their High Priest Jesus Christ. (Acts 2:1-36) The apostle Peter speaks of this, saying:
6 “You yourselves also as living stones are being built up a spiritual house for the purpose of a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 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.”—1 Pet. 2:5, 9.
7. As spiritual underpriests, into what antitypical area are they brought and into what compartment of the spiritual temple also, in order to do what in those locations?
7 This “spiritual house” is made up of “living stones” that are underpriests of Jesus Christ. They are told: “Consequently, holy brothers, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the apostle and high priest whom we confess—Jesus.” (Heb. 3:1) As a house of such underpriests they are “to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 2:5) This means that they have been brought into the antitypical courtyard where God’s antitypical “altar” is located, there to offer up their “spiritual sacrifices,” on the basis of God’s “will.” This means also that, in their spirit-begotten condition as spiritual sons of God, they have been brought into the antitypical first compartment or “Holy” of God’s spiritual temple. There they enjoy spiritual enlightenment as from a golden seven-branched lampstand, and eat spiritual food as from the golden table of shewbread and offer up prayer, praise and service to Jehovah God as if standing at the stationary golden incense altar that stood before the inner curtain.
8. (a) So, then, what did the Holy of the tent or temple picture? (b) What did the courtyard of the priests picture?
8 From this standpoint, the Holy of the temple pictured or typified the spirit-begotten condition of God’s spiritual priesthood even while the members of this are still in the earthly body, in the flesh. It is a special spiritual relationship to God that is screened off from outsiders as if by a curtain so that these cannot discern it or appreciate it. The priestly court where the copper altar was located pictures their special human standing with God. He looks upon them, not as imperfect, condemned sinners unfit to serve at his spiritual “altar,” but as repentant, converted, baptized disciples of Jesus Christ whom he counts righteous, sinless, because of their faith in God and through the atoning blood of the High Priest Jesus Christ. (Rom. 5:1, 9; 8:1; 3:24-26) So the temple courtyard with its copper altar pictured or typified the righteous standing of God’s spiritual underpriests as to their fleshly bodies.
9. (a) How do these spiritual underpriests get into the antitypical Most Holy, and is it with a sin-atoning sacrifice? (b) How will they serve in that Most Holy?
9 Since “flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s kingdom, neither does corruption inherit incorruption,” these spirit-begotten underpriests under Christ must also pass the fleshly barrier as pictured by that inner “curtain” of the temple. This they do by performing their spiritual priesthood on earth until human death, after which, in God’s due time, he resurrects them from the dead with Christ’s resurrection, namely, as spirit creatures of the divine nature and enriched with immortality and incorruption. As it is written: “It is sown [in death] a physical body, it is raised up a spiritual body.” (1 Cor. 15:42-44; Rom. 6:4, 5) In this way they will be ushered into the personal presence of the Most High God, but, of course, not as offering to him any sin-atoning sacrifices. That has all been accomplished by Jehovah’s High Priest, Jesus Christ, on the antitypical Day of Atonement. (Heb. 10:19-22) But, being then united with their High Priest in heaven, they will be able to serve as “priests of God and of the Christ, and will rule as kings with him for the thousand years.”—Rev. 20:4, 6.
10 While on earth, they are compared to a number of things. For instance, in 1 Corinthians 3:9, they are told by the apostle Paul: “You people are God’s field under cultivation, God’s building.” We ask, What “building”? The answer is given in 1 Co 3 verses sixteen and seventeen: “Do you not know that you people are God’s temple, and that the spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him; for the temple of God is holy, which temple you people are.” This does not say or mean that they are the temple pictured or typified by the tent built by Moses and by the temples at Jerusalem. In that temple about which Paul speaks in the book of Hebrews God dwells in person, he being personally present there. But the temple such as Paul says that the congregation is does not have the personal presence of God. Merely God’s spirit dwells in this symbolic temple. God dwells there merely by his spirit, because the members thereof are in the flesh on the earth.
11. How does the matter of a foundation show a difference between the congregation as a temple and Jehovah’s temple in the heavens?
11 God’s temple in the heavens is not built upon the foundation of the Christian apostles and prophets. But the Christian congregation as a temple is built upon the Christian apostles and prophets. In Ephesians 2:20-22 the apostle Paul writes: “You have been built up upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, while Christ Jesus himself is the foundation cornerstone. In union with him the whole building, being harmoniously joined together, is growing into a holy temple for Jehovah. In union with him you, too, are being built up together into a place for God to inhabit by spirit.”
12. (a) Because of the dwelling of what within it is the congregation on earth likened to a temple, and yet where is it in God’s great spiritual temple? (b) As a “temple” of the true God on earth, what must the congregation not admit into itself?
12 It is because God’s spirit dwells within this harmoniously organized body of spiritual underpriests of Christ that this congregation is called a “temple” of Jehovah God. His personal presence is up in the heavenly Most Holy of his great spiritual temple. In the “Holy” compartment of the great spiritual temple this temple class yet on earth find themselves. Because of being likened to a temple on earth in which Jehovah dwells by his spirit, this spirit-begotten congregation must not admit any kind of idolatry or worship of false gods within it. “What agreement does God’s temple have with idols?” asks the apostle Paul, and then adds the explanation: “For we are a temple of a living God; just as God said: ‘I shall reside among them and walk among them, and I shall be their God, and they will be my people.’”—2 Cor. 6:16.
TEMPLE COURTYARDS THRONGED WITH WORSHIPERS
13. At the passing of the spirit-begotten congregation off the earthly scene, what condition, as pictured by a compartment of the temple, will pass away?
13 This spirit-begotten congregation that is likened to a temple must be treated as holy. In due time this congregation will pass off the earthly scene. With their passing, the spirit-begotten condition of the spiritual underpriests (as pictured by the Holy compartment of the temple of Jerusalem) will pass out of existence. These spiritual underpriests will have passed beyond the fleshly barrier (pictured by the temple’s inner curtain) into the heavenly Most Holy by their death in the flesh and their resurrection in the spirit.
14. How does Revelation 21:1, 2 picture the congregation of 144,000 underpriests in the heavenly Most Holy?
14 What a holy privilege it will be for the 144,000 underpriests of Jehovah’s spiritual temple to find themselves in its Most Holy, before the very person of Jehovah God! This feature was not pictured in the case of the underpriests who served in the temple at Jerusalem, but it is beautifully pictured in the last book of the Holy Bible. There the congregation of 144,000 underpriests who serve under Jehovah’s High Priest Jesus Christ is likened to his bride on her wedding day. With lovely phraseology the Christian apostle John describes this composite bride, saying: “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea is no more. I saw also the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God and prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”—Rev. 21:1, 2.
15. How do the ancient earthly Jerusalem and the heavenly New Jerusalem compare as to having a temple building?
15 We remember that ancient earthly Jerusalem, down to the year of its destruction by the Roman armies in the year 70 C.E., had a gorgeous temple in it. But what about the heavenly New Jerusalem, which the apostle John saw in vision about twenty-six years after the destruction of old Jerusalem’s temple in 70 C.E.? As John continues his delightful description of the heavenly New Jerusalem he tells us, saying: “And I did not see a temple in it, for Jehovah God the Almighty is its temple, also the Lamb is. And the city has no need of the sun nor of the moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God lighted it up, and its lamp was the Lamb. And the nations will walk by means of its light.”—Rev. 21:22-24.
16. What about the location of the 144,000 underpriests makes unnecessary a temple building in the New Jerusalem, and how is Jehovah himself its temple?
16 Why should the heavenly New Jerusalem have a temple in it, a separate building for the 144,000 underpriests to serve in and thus render sacred service to God indirectly through an intermediate building? Why, when they are before the very person of God and “see his face”? (Rev. 22:4) Jehovah God himself is the temple of the New Jerusalem. The heavenly New Jerusalem is not the temple. No, Jehovah God the Almighty is the temple. He fills the place, takes the place, of a temple for the heavenly city. Since he is there, not by spirit, but in very person, he does away with the need of a separate building through which the inhabitants of the New Jerusalem, the 144,000 underpriests, would be worshiping and serving him indirectly. So they render sacred service to him directly under the high priesthood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ.
17. How is the Lamb also, with Jehovah God, the temple of the New Jerusalem?
17 That is why the Lamb shares with Jehovah in being the temple of the New Jerusalem. Just as Revelation 21:22 says: “Also the Lamb is.” He is there in person in the Most Holy of Jehovah’s spiritual temple. He has already offered to God directly the sin-atoning sacrifice of the antitypical Day of Atonement. As Jehovah’s High Priest like Melchizedek, he is seated at God’s right hand.
18. In what area of Jehovah’s spiritual temple will the people draw benefit from the Day of Atonement, and for whom were the Atonement Day sacrifices offered in order to indicate this?
18 In spite of there then being no more a spirit-begotten condition of the 144,000 underpriests as typified by the Holy compartment of the temple, the earthly courtyards of Jehovah’s great spiritual temple will continue. People on earth who will benefit from Jehovah’s Day of Atonement will do so in those courtyards. This fits in happily with the fact that the sin offering of the Day of Atonement was offered not merely for the priestly family but for all the rest of the people who worshiped Jehovah at his temple.
19. (a) Who did the prophet Zechariah say would join themselves to Jehovah “in that day” and entreat his favor? (b) As if a provision of such a thing, what additional courtyard did Herod’s temple at Jerusalem contain, and for what non-Israelites did Solomon pray when inaugurating the temple?
19 When God’s prophet Zechariah was prophesying in connection with the rebuilding of the temple at Jerusalem in the sixth century before our Common Era, he was inspired to say: “And many nations shall join themselves to Jehovah in that day, and shall be my people; and I will dwell in the midst of thee.” “Yea, many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek Jehovah of hosts in Jerusalem, and to entreat the favor of Jehovah.” (Zech. 2:11; 8:22, American Standard Version) In harmony with that prophecy of the coming of non-Israelites to worship Jehovah at his temple, the temple that was built by King Herod, which replaced the temple that was built in the prophet Zechariah’s day, contained, not only a priests’ courtyard with its altar, and also the courtyard of Israel and the courtyard of the women, but additionally the courtyard of the Gentiles or non-Israelites. Even centuries before this, King Solomon, when inaugurating the first temple at Jerusalem, prayed for the foreigners who would come from distant lands to worship at Jehovah’s temple.—1 Ki. 8:41-43; 2 Chron. 6:32, 33.
20. Since when, in particular, has that prophecy of Zechariah been undergoing fulfillment, and why do we see it from then on?
20 The prophecy uttered long ago by Zechariah is already undergoing fulfillment in our day, particularly since the year 1935 C.E. That means a fulfillment while there is still a remnant of the spiritual underpriests on earth, who are serving in the Holy compartment of Jehovah’s spiritual temple. For that reason the “great crowd” of foreigners that are streaming from all parts of the earth to the courtyards of Jehovah’s one spiritual temple are having contact and association with these spiritual underpriests yet on earth. The date 1935 C.E. marks the year when that “great crowd” of nonpriestly worshipers of Jehovah began to be noticed coming to the temple, because in that memorable year the prophecy of Revelation 7:9-17 concerning the “great multitude” or “great crowd” was explained according to the facts of the day. (See The Watchtower as of August 1 and 15, 1935.) As we look at the Revelation vision seen by the apostle John, it is as if we are seeing the international “great crowd” of worshipers celebrating the antitypical Festival of Booths at Jehovah’s temple.
21. How does John describe this “great crowd” in Revelation 7:9-15?
21 Telling us what he sees, John says: “Look! a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes; and there were palm branches in their hands. And they keep on crying with a loud voice, saying: ‘Salvation we owe to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb.’ . . . ‘These are the ones that come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. That is why they are before the throne of God; and they are rendering him sacred service day and night in his temple; and the One seated on the throne will spread his tent over them.”’—Rev. 7:9-15.
22. (a) With relation to God’s spiritual temple, where is that “great crowd” serving Him day and night? (b) How does John’s vision show that the spiritual temple has survived the “great tribulation,” and what benefits do the “great crowd” there accept?
22 This beautiful vision presents the international “great crowd” as serving Jehovah in his temple, that is, in the earthly courtyards reserved for those who are not spiritual Israelites, as it were in the “courtyard of the Gentiles.” Ah, yes, in the apostle John’s vision, the great spiritual temple of Jehovah God has survived the “great tribulation” of these last days, for this “great crowd” has survived the “great tribulation” and they find themselves in Jehovah’s temple, waving palm branches like the traditional festive palm branch (the lulaba) that was waved by the people during the Festival of Booths. To Jehovah God and to his sacrificial Lamb, Jesus Christ, they attribute their salvation, and now they are on the way to an endless life of happiness and divine service in God’s new order of things in a paradise earth. (Rev. 7:16, 17) They gratefully accept the benefits of the sin offering that was provided on Jehovah’s great Day of Atonement.—Lev. 16:1-34.
23. (a) Why will that “great crowd” not be the only ones to throng the earthly courtyards of the spiritual temple during the millennial High Priesthood of Christ? (b) What will these have to join in observing in order to gain eternal life on earth?
23 However, these survivors of the “great tribulation” with which this present system of things will end are not the only ones that will throng those courtyards of salvation. During the thousand-year High Priesthood of the Lamb Jesus Christ along with his 144,000 spiritual underpriests in the heavenly realm of Jehovah’s spiritual temple, there will be a “resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Acts 24:15; Rev. 20:4, 6, 11-14) All these must come to the courtyards of Jehovah’s spiritual temple and join in serving him and also joyfully celebrating the great antitypical Festival of Booths. There is no salvation to life eternal in the earthly paradise by any other way. The last six verses of Zechariah’s prophecy Zec 14:16-21 appear to indicate that. All the resurrected ones who desire eternal life on earth must come to the spiritual temple “to bow down to the King, Jehovah of armies,” and to “celebrate the festival of the booths.” What an unspeakably joyful time it will be for those who do so!—Zech. 14:17, 18.
24. (a) Which temple is it that Jehovah God recognizes, and to which temple must all come to gain life in God’s new order? (b) What news is it now the privilege of those already in the courtyards to communicate to others?
24 Blessed, too, is the outlook of all of us today who are in the courtyards of Jehovah’s spiritual temple now, whether some of us are in the inner courtyard of the priests or the greater number of us are in the courtyards of the nonpriestly worshipers of the Most High God, Jehovah of armies. This is the only temple that the God of salvation recognizes. It is the one and only temple to which people of all the nations must come in order to engage in pure worship and thereby gain eternal salvation in God’s righteous new order. That temple is now open for the ingathering of all seekers of the one living and true God. This is indeed great news that is associated with the events of our marvelous times. It is the grand privilege of all of us who are serving in the courtyards of Jehovah’s spiritual temple to communicate that lifesaving good news to all others, before the coming “great tribulation.”
a See The Mishnah, by Herbert Danby (of 1933), page 178, paragraphs 5, 6 and 7.
See The Temple, by Dr. A. Edersheim (of 1874), pages 238, 242.
See Volume 10 of Cyclopædia by M’Clintock and Strong, page 148, the last paragraph under “21st of Tishri.”
[Box/Diagram on page 721]
(For fully formatted text, see publication)
TEMPLE REBUILT BY HEROD (Ground Plan)
Court of the Gentiles
Mt. of Olives to the east
Court of Women 5
Court of Israel
Court of Priests 3, 4
Temple 1, 2
1. Most Holy
3. Altar of Burnt Offering
4. Molten Sea
5. Inner Gate of Temple
MOST HOLY: Definite area of heaven where Jehovah thrones in person
HOLY: Spirit-begotten condition of Jesus Christ and 144,000 anointed Christians while they are still in the flesh
CURTAIN: The curtain as a divider between the Holy and the Most Holy represented the fleshly barrier that separates the priesthood on earth from access to God’s presence in heaven
ALTAR: God’s will as shown by his willingness to accept Jesus’ perfect human sacrifice
COURTYARD OF PRIESTS: Righteous standing of Jesus Christ and God’s spiritual underpriests as to their fleshly bodies
COURTYARD OF THE GENTILES: Righteous standing to which all mankind must come in order to worship God acceptably
[Picture on page 716]
When Jesus was anointed with holy spirit in 29 C.E., God’s great spiritual temple came into existence