Festival to Be Celebrated by Billions
1. What evidence in favor of a share by the “other sheep” in the antitypical festival of booths came to light in 1931? And in 1932?
Do the “other sheep” of the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, enter into the celebration of the antitypical festival of booths? The gladdening evidence is to the effect that they do at God’s marked time for them. Festival illumination fell in 1931 upon Ezekiel’s prophecy, Eze chapter 9. It revealed that the aggrieved people whom the man clothed with linen and with the inkhorn at his side marks in the forehead are the same as the “sheep” in Jesus’ parable at Matthew 25:31-46. Further festival illumination revealed in 1932 that this same “sheep” class had been prefigured by Jonadab the son of Rechab, who became the friend of Jehovah’s executioner, King Jehu of Israel.—2 Ki. 10:15-28; Jer. 35:1-19.
2. (a) In Jesus’ prophecy on the “conclusion of the system of things,” what other gathering was there to be during this time besides that of Matthew 24:31? (b) In 1935, what gave much impetus to this gathering work?
2 Let us remember that Jesus gave the parable at Matthew 25:31-46 as being part of the “sign” that would denote his invisible “presence” and the “conclusion of the system of things.” (Matt. 24:3) In this way Jesus foretold that there would be a gathering of others besides the “chosen ones” of Matthew 24:31 during this “conclusion of the system of things.” Such a gathering in of those doers of good to the “chosen ones” began in the spring of 1935. What gave tremendous impetus to the ingathering was the speech given on Friday, May 31, 1935, at the widely advertised convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses held in Washington, D.C., to which the so-called Jonadab class was particularly invited.
3. (a) The speech then given was on what subject, and how many got baptized afterward? (b) Fulfillment of Matthew 25:31-46 now became part of what “sign”?
3 On that day the president of the Watch Tower Society spoke on the theme “The Great Multitude” and discussed the prophecy of Revelation 7:9-14, Authorized Version. He identified the “great multitude” as being the same as the “sheep” in Jesus’ parable at Matthew 25:31-46. This explanation was hailed with joy by both those of the anointed remnant and those of the Jonadab class. The next day a baptism was held, and there were 840 that symbolized their dedication to Jehovah God by water immersion. The majority of these proved to be of the “sheep” who befriend the spiritual “brothers” of the King Jesus Christ. This now became part of the “sign” that proves the reigning Jesus Christ to be invisibly present and also that we are living in “the conclusion of the system of things.”
4. How was that information broadcast to all the “sheep,” and what gathering work now went forward?
4 This information was broadcast throughout the earth to all the sheeplike ones by its being published in the Watchtower issues of August 1 and 15, 1935. So then the ingathering of the Jonadab class went forward with authorization granted by Jehovah God.
5. (a) Since then the ingathering work has expanded on what scale? (b) But what prior ingathering work was not stopped?
5 Despite all the impediments caused by World War II of 1939 to 1945 and the terrific persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses during those fiery times, the ingathering of the “other sheep” has expanded to an activity in more than 200 lands and island groups. However, the ingathering of those of the “great crowd” did not stop the gathering of any further members of the Ruth and Esther class. No, but more “branches” worthy of becoming part of the Christ “vine” kept on being gathered. (John 15:1-8) More “branches” continued to be gathered for being “grafted” into the symbolic “garden olive tree,” as described in Romans 11:17-24.a—Deut. 16:13.
6. (a) What did Jehovah say was to be the disposition of the people during this festival of the seventh lunar month? (b) Were the festival of booths and the festival of ingathering two distinct celebrations, each beginning at a different time?
6 So from 1919 onward it has verily been an antitypical festival of ingathering, marked by a joyousness that was a special feature of the ancient festival of booths. Jehovah’s words concerning the celebrators of the festival of booths became the order of the day: “You must become nothing but joyful.” (Deut. 16:15) Here let us not forget that the festival of booths and the festival of ingathering are one festival, the one festival not starting after the other has already begun long before. The festival of ingathering ran concurrently with that of dwelling in booths. In the ancient type the festival of seven days during the seventh lunar month was given two designations simply because the dwelling in booths was to take place at the harvesttime of the seventh month, Tishri (Ethanim). Since, in the ancient type, the harvest was that of the Israelites, it was fitting for the fulfillment of the festival of ingathering to begin in 1919 with the harvesting of those who were typified by the natural Israelites, namely, a remnant of spiritual Israelites.—Compare The Watchtower, July 15, 1967, pages 441, 442.
THE FUTURE PROSPECTS FOR THE FESTIVAL
7. Why are the future prospects for the festival of booths fine?
7 What are the prospects for the antitypical festival of booths, or of ingathering into which we have already entered? Fine! Why? Because the oncoming “great tribulation” and the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon will not quiet down the joyousness of our festival. (Matt. 24:21; Rev. 16:14, 16) Bible prophecies show that the antitypical festival will continue on unbroken into the New Order that Jehovah God will introduce by means of his victorious Warrior-King, Jesus Christ. The survivors of Jehovah’s war at Har–Magedon, namely, the anointed remnant and the “great crowd” of the “other sheep,” will continue the festival in the righteous New Order.b
8, 9. How long will the surviving remnant remain on earth, and what outlook does Zechariah 14:16-19 give them on the festival of booths?
8 For how long the anointed remnant will stay on earth in the functioning New Order as “temporary residents” until their glorification in the heavenly kingdom, they do not now know. But their present joyful outlook on celebrating the festival during their further residence on earth is well based on Jehovah’s prophetic Word. For instance, in Zechariah 14:16-19 these celebrators of the antitypical festival of booths at the present time are multiplied:
9 “And it must occur that, as regards everyone who is left remaining out of all the nations that are coming against Jerusalem, they must also go up from year to year to bow down to the King, Jehovah of armies, and to celebrate the festival of the booths. And it must occur that, as regards anyone that does not come up out of the families of the earth to Jerusalem to bow down to the King, Jehovah of armies, even upon them no pouring rain will occur. And if the family of Egypt itself does not come up and does not actually enter, upon them also there shall be none. The scourge will occur with which Jehovah scourges the nations that do not come up to celebrate the festival of the booths. This itself will prove to be the punishment for the sin of Egypt and the sin of all the nations that do not come up to celebrate the festival of the booths.”
10. When all the nations make their final attack on antitypical Jerusalem, who will be left alive on earth and who will not?
10 Who, now, is the person described as “everyone who is left remaining out of all the nations that are coming against Jerusalem”? Neither the anointed remnant of spiritual Israelites, nor their associates, the “great crowd” that comes out of all the nations and takes up Jehovah’s worship before the nations make their assault upon the antitypical Jerusalem. The remnant and the “great crowd” are the very ones who come under the combined attack made by the nations because they remain loyal to the “heavenly Jerusalem.” (Heb. 12:22) The preceding verses (Zech. 14:1-15) describe how God wars against the attacking nations and how he confirms his kingship or sovereignty over our earth. Revelation 19:11-21 depicts how the nations will, without exception, attack those on earth who adhere to the “heavenly Jerusalem,” and that no one of those nations will survive the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon. Not even will those, who, so to speak, stay at home but who give their backing to their armies at the front, survive, especially with total mobilization of the people.
11. At Har–Magedon all the enemies will suffer destruction to what extent, and why?
11 From God’s war at Har–Magedon all such enemies will suffer everlasting destruction, without provision for their resurrection. (Matt. 25:31, 32, 41-46; Isa. 66:23, 24; Rom. 6:9; 1 Cor. 6:9, 10) Their corpses will be like bodies left on a battlefield as carrion food for scavenger birds to eat. (Rev. 19:17-21) After that, what?
12. Scripturally, then, who is meant by “everyone who is left remaining out of all the nations that are coming against Jerusalem”?
12 Here now comes the opportunity of the one who is meant by “everyone who is left remaining out of all the nations that are coming against Jerusalem.” (Zech. 14:16) Who now could that be? Scripturally, it would be “everyone” of the billions of human dead who died before the foretold “great tribulation” and its “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon and for whom there is hope of an earthly resurrection.c Jesus Christ spoke of a time of resurrection for “all those in the memorial tombs.” (John 5:28, 29; Rev. 20:12, 13) Unnumbered former Egyptians will be among those raised from the dead, but there will then be no land division called Egypt, nor any other national divisions of former times.
13. Under Christ’s kingdom, what proper recognition of things must those resurrected on earth make, or, otherwise, what will happen to them?
13 Under Christ’s millennial kingdom all those resurrected on earth will be taught the one true religion. Will all conform to it? For anyone to gain eternal life he will have to come to Jehovah’s spiritual temple that is associated with the “heavenly Jerusalem.” He will have to celebrate the antitypical festival of the booths in the temple’s earthly courtyard where the “great crowd” of Har–Magedon survivors already find themselves. (Rev. 7:9-15) He will have to recognize the “princes in all the earth” whom the King Jesus Christ will “appoint” to supervise earth’s affairs. (Ps. 45:16) Above all, those resurrected on earth must recognize Jehovah as God and Universal Sovereign, as “king over all the earth” by means of Jesus Christ. (Zech. 14:9) Otherwise, the Great Rainmaker Jehovah will not pour down his blessings upon them through Christ. (Zech. 10:1) For such unblessed individuals this will be like existing in a drought-stricken area, this meaning eventual death.
14. What will it mean for anyone to be scourged by Jehovah during Christ’s millennial reign?
14 There will also be at Jehovah’s disposal the “scourge” similar to that with which he smote the nations that warred against his “heavenly Jerusalem.” (Zech. 14:12-15) His smiting such stubborn opposers of true worship will spell death eternal for them, even if this occurs before the end of Christ’s 1,000-year reign. Such scourged sinners will not make it to the end of Christ’s millennial rule and thereafter have the opportunity to be justified by Jehovah God to endless life on a paradise earth. Their temporary residence under Christ’s kingdom fails of its objective.
15. Whose loyal cooperation will the surviving remnant of spiritual Israelites have during their sojourn in the New Order?
15 When the New Order sets in, the surviving remnant of spiritual Israelites will still be tenting like “temporary residents” on the earth. They will be looking forward to their transfer from the earthly scene to their heavenly inheritance, to be with Christ and his associate kings and priests. (Rev. 20:4-6) But during their post-Har–Magedon sojourn on earth they will have the loyal cooperation of the “chieftain” class, the “princes in all the earth,” in supervising the antitypical festival of the seventh month, that of the booths.d—Ezek. 45:17, 25.
16. (a) Many members of the “chieftain” class will be taken from among whom? (b) It would be a special joy for the surviving remnant to experience what privilege with them?
16 Members of the “chieftain” class will be taken from among the “great crowd” of sheeplike ones who survive the “great tribulation” with the spirit-begotten remnant. (Rev. 7:1-15) These will witness the resurrection of the billions of human dead and their gathering into the earthly courtyard of Jehovah’s spiritual temple for the celebration of the festival of booths in antitype. What a joyful experience it would be for the spiritual remnant to keep residing on earth till the beginning of that miraculous ingathering as envisioned in Zechariah 14:16-19! With unspeakable joyfulness they would join in the worldwide celebration with all of these who have been redeemed with the precious blood of the “Lamb of God,” “Christ our passover.”e—Ezek. 44:3; 45:7–46:18; 48:21, 22.
17. (a) Why will the celebration of the festival during the millennial reign of Christ not prove to be in vain? (b) What will be the situation to which the dwellers on earth, still alive, will have been traveling like tenters?
17 The celebration of the festival will not prove to be in vain, for, by the close of the 1,000-year reign of Christ, all those yet alive on earth will be bowing down to Jehovah, worshiping him in the earth-wide courtyard of his great spiritual temple that is connected with the “heavenly Jerusalem.” He will then have the “kingdom” handed over to him by his Son Jesus Christ, who will have successfully completed his reign for the allotted millennium. (1 Cor. 15:24-28) This will be the earthly situation to which all the dwellers on earth will have been traveling, like tenters.
18. What will be the portion of those passing Jehovah’s final test?
18 At this juncture comes the final, determining test of their integrity toward Jehovah as the Universal Sovereign. Those then failing under the test will be destroyed forever. Those who vindicate Jehovah by successfully passing this supreme test will gain the right to inhabit the Edenic earth eternally. No longer will they be tenters, “temporary residents,” in the land. Their residence in the paradise earth will be permanent. (Rev. 20:7-15) Their joyfulness that was experienced during their celebration of the antitypical festival of the booths will continue forever on this earthly footstool of the happy God-King, Jehovah.—1 Tim. 1:11.
a See annual Memorial reports of numbers of partakers from 1945 to 1977.
b For further information on the extension of the “festival of booths” into the time of the millennium, see the book Paradise Restored to Mankind—By Theocracy!, chapter 22, and particularly pages 400 to 402; compare also pages 53-57, 79-90 and 106-115. The Christian reality foreshadowed by this festival started to be fulfilled from the day of Pentecost, 33 C.E. The joy of the congregation was eclipsed when the great apostasy set in. However, with the release of spiritual Israel from Babylon the Great in 1919, after World War I, the ingathering, first of the anointed remnant and then of the “great crowd,” was resumed, and with it the antitypical “festival of booths.” This is an ongoing festival, celebrated “from year to year,” on through the time of the resurrection of the dead. It will end only after the final test of perfected mankind, when all who successfully meet the test become at last permanent residents on earth. See also The Watchtower, 1967, pages 440-443; 1972, pages 710-723; 1977, page 541, and Aid to Bible Understanding, pages 573 to 576.
c See Paradise Restored to Mankind—By Theocracy!, chapter 22, under subheading “Advisability for Nations to Join in the Festival,” pages 398-401.
d See the Watch Tower Society’s publication Vindication, Volume III, under the subheading “Earth’s Princes,” pages 285-293.
e See Paradise Restored to Mankind—By Theocracy!, page 401, par. 17.
[Picture on page 20]
[Picture on page 23]