Dedication and Its Symbol
1. How can a sign of a person’s identity be a good thing, as in the case of sincere Jews before Jerusalem was destroyed in 607 B.C.E.?
A SIGN or symbol of a person’s identity or official standing can be a good thing, yes, a necessary thing. For instance, when Jerusalem was about to be destroyed in 607 B.C.E., a symbolic “man” was sent out to mark the foreheads of right-hearted Israelites in order to protect them from being slaughtered. Only those few who were outraged over ‘the detestable things being done’ in the midst of what should have been God’s holy city were marked for salvation.—Ezekiel 9:1-7.
2. What identifying factors are discussed in Revelation chapter 7, and how do these relate to salvation?
2 Today a “great tribulation” is about to strike the whole world. So Revelation 7:1-8 tells us that the “four angels” stationed at the four corners of the earth are instructed to hold back the four winds from blowing and producing a most destructive storm or “tribulation” until the fixed number of God’s chosen ones have been given a seal in their foreheads. Also, this allows time for a “great crowd” to cleanse themselves “in the blood of the Lamb” in order to be identified as worthy of surviving this “great tribulation.”—Revelation 7:9-14; Matthew 24:21, 22.
3, 4. In the case of the Jewish high priest, of what would the ‘symbol of dedication’ on his turban be a reminder?
3 In ancient Israel a priesthood was set up. Moses had carried out the specific instructions from Jehovah on making the distinctive garments for the high priest. Regarding the turban, it is written: “They made a rosette of pure gold as the symbol [sign] of their holy dedication and inscribed on it as the engraving on a seal, ‘Holy to the LORD’ [“Consecrated to Yahweh,” The Jerusalem Bible], and they fastened on it a violet braid to fix it on the turban at the top.”a—Exodus 39:30, 31; 29:6; Leviticus 8:9, The New English Bible; New World Translation.
4 This ‘symbol of dedication’ would be a reminder to the high priest and to all observers that he had been “consecrated” or dedicated by God to a sacred service in behalf of a dedicated people. He and his fellow priests would take the lead in instructing the people and offering acceptable sin-atoning sacrifices, which would help them to live up to their dedication to God. This would contribute to the holy dedicated status of the nation, for they were warned that if they left Jehovah, he would, in turn, leave them and abandon them to their enemies.—Deuteronomy 28:15, 25, 63.
5. Though today there is no Jew named Cohen who can identify himself as the Aaronic high priest, why is our case not hopeless?
5 The tragic history of the Israelites is filled with the calamities they suffered as a result of turning away from God’s commandments and their dedicated service to him. After the second destruction of Jerusalem and its temple in 70 C.E., the high priest with the symbol of dedication on his turban passed off the scene. Today no Jew with the family name of Cohen (meaning “Priest”) can prove himself to be the high priest of Israel. Is our situation, then, hopeless? No! For concerning the glorified Son of God, we read: “Such a high priest as this was suitable for us, loyal, guileless, undefiled, separated from the sinners, and become higher than the heavens. . . . he offered himself up.”—Hebrews 7:26, 27.
6, 7. Was Jesus born into the priestly tribe of Israel, and how could he become a high priest?
6 Since Jesus was the Son of God, he did not need to be a member of the tribe of Levi or of the priestly family of Aaron to become God’s priest. That could be so according to the marvelous arrangements of Jehovah God. King David was inspired by God’s spirit to prophesy concerning this illustrious descendant, who was to be higher than his royal forefathers: “The utterance of Jehovah to my Lord is: ‘Sit at my right hand until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet.’ The rod of your strength Jehovah will send out of Zion, saying: ‘Go subduing in the midst of your enemies.’ Your people will offer themselves willingly on the day of your military force. In the splendors of holiness [in holy array], from the womb of the dawn, you have your company of young men just like dewdrops. Jehovah has sworn (and he will feel no regret): ‘You are a priest to time indefinite according to the manner of Melchizedek!’”—Psalm 110:1-4, New World Translation; An American Translation.
7 So, down to our own day, the glorified Jesus Christ remains a royal High Priest, higher than the chief priests of ancient Israel with their material symbol of dedication. He is in office not because of being a Levite priest but by the sworn oath of Jehovah God.
A Symbol for Those Who “Offer Themselves Willingly”
8. Why is this the day of Christ’s “military force,” and how do those now offering themselves willingly proceed in this respect?
8 The disciples of that royal High Priest, Christ Jesus, now “offer themselves willingly” on the day of his “military force.” They dedicate themselves to Jehovah God in the name of this royal High Priest, getting baptized in water in symbol of that dedication. These are the ones the complete number of whom must be finally sealed before the outbreak of the “great tribulation.” They, along with their companions of the “great crowd,” “offer themselves willingly” just like dewdrops in bringing God’s refreshing message of salvation to the people.—Revelation 7:2-4, 9, 10, 14.
9. At Romans 12:1, 2, what counsel does Paul give to anointed Christians?
9 Writing to the disciples of 1,900 years ago, the apostle Paul said: “I entreat you by the compassions of God, brothers, to present your bodies a sacrifice living, holy, acceptable to God, a sacred service with your power of reason. And quit being fashioned after this system of things, but be transformed by making your mind over, that you may prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”—Romans 12:1, 2.
10, 11. (a) So Paul addresses his plea to the Gentile Christians in Rome as a follow-up to what discussion? (b) In what way was this arrangement an expression of great compassion on God’s part?
10 The above entreaty comes immediately after Paul’s discussion of the symbolic olive tree. Like branches in a garden olive tree, the dedicated nation of Israel was the natural offspring of God’s “friend” Abraham. As such they were first in line to become “Abraham’s seed” according to the promise made to him. (Genesis 12:3; 22:17, 18; Galatians 3:16, 29; James 2:23) But only a remnant of natural Jews accepted Jesus as the Messiah and were transferred from being the natural seed of earthly Abraham to being the spiritual seed of the Greater Abraham, Jehovah. (Romans 11:5, 7) The rest were lopped off as “branches.” To replace them, God turned to the non-Jews or, as it were, to a symbolic wild olive tree, to extract sufficient “branches” to graft into the spiritual garden olive tree that was to be composed of 144,000 branches rooted in the Greater Abraham, Jehovah God, the Source of all blessings.—Romans 11:13-33; Revelation 14:1.
11 So it was an expression of great compassion on God’s part for those Romans and all other uncircumcised non-Jews to become a part of the spiritual seed of Abraham for blessing all the families of the earth by means of God’s kingdom. (Ephesians 2:12; Galatians 3:26-29) This laid upon them the course of self-sacrifice. But this was the only privilege that God then held out to human creatures, and what a special privilege it was! Not overstepping proper bounds, the apostle Paul wrote and said to them: “Present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, also your members to God as weapons of righteousness. For sin must not be master over you, seeing that you are not under law [the law of Moses] but under undeserved kindness.”—Romans 6:13, 14.
12. What would be involved for spirit-anointed disciples of Christ when they are told, “present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead”?
12 While Paul is writing to those who were already dedicated Christians, “holy ones,” he is not overlooking what they had done at first in dedicating their lives, when he said: “Present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead.” But they must live up to this dedication, in this sacrificial course. If such were not done, then they, as replacement branches, would be lopped off, too. (Romans 1:7; 11:21, 22) Moreover, these words written under inspiration would be read by future disciples of Jesus Christ and would offer strong encouragement for them to take all the steps necessary to enter into and maintain this dedicated, baptized relationship with God. To preserve their dedicated relationship with God, once made, they would be in a continual battle to fashion their fleshly members into weapons of righteousness rather than submitting these to the mastery of sin. This would be in obedience to Jesus’ words: “If anyone wants to come after me, let him disown himself and pick up his torture stake and continually follow me.”—Matthew 16:24.
A “Great Crowd” of Symbolizers
13. Is it proper for those having an earthly hope to make a dedication to God and to symbolize this by water baptism?
13 Throughout the earth today more than 2,300,000 persons are joining in publishing the good news of the Kingdom, and the vast majority of these have presented themselves for baptism in water in symbol of their dedication. At the yearly celebration of the Lord’s Evening Meal, less than 10,000 of all of these partake of the emblematic bread and wine to confess that they are Christ’s disciples with a heavenly hope. But do all the others properly make a dedication and symbolize this by water baptism? Very definitely they do, for they, too, must come into a proper relationship with God through the Fine Shepherd, Christ Jesus, in order to survive the “great tribulation” just ahead and gain an inheritance as part of God’s “new earth.”—2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1-4.
14. What fine relationship appropriately prevails within the “one flock” of the Fine Shepherd, Christ Jesus?
14 So the overwhelming majority of Jehovah’s dedicated witnesses do not entertain any heavenly hope of joint heirship with Jesus Christ in the Kingdom above. They do not claim to be spiritual Israelites begotten by Jehovah’s spirit. Yet they inseparably associate with the remnant of spiritual Israelites as members of the “one flock” under “one shepherd,” Jesus Christ. (John 10:16) This is excellent on their part and Scripturally correct.
15. (a) Who, in addition to the natural Jews, left Egypt and finally entered the Promised Land, and as what were they rated there? (b) Whom do they picture today?
15 Let us here do what the scripture at 1 Corinthians 10:18 tells us to do, “look at that which is Israel in a fleshly way.” At its exodus from Egypt under the leadership of Moses not all who left were natural, circumcised Israelites. “A vast mixed company also went up with them, as well as flocks and herds.” (Exodus 12:38) When the Israelites entered the Promised Land, such ones became the “alien resident who is inside your gates.” (Exodus 20:10; Numbers 35:15; Leviticus 19:9, 10) That ancient vast mixed company pictured the “great crowd” of the “other sheep” of the Fine Shepherd, Jesus Christ, of today.—John 10:14, 16; Revelation 7:9-17.
16, 17. (a) In what way did the “vast mixed company” get baptized with the Israelites, figuratively speaking? (b) Who have escaped from the antitypical Egypt of today, and who will suffer destruction under circumstances like those at the Red Sea?
16 In Moses’ day the non-Israelite “vast mixed company” shared similar experiences with the circumcised Israelites, including a marvelous baptism. As regards that baptism, the apostle Paul wrote, at 1 Corinthians 10:1-4: “Our forefathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea and all got baptized into Moses by means of the cloud and of the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they used to drink from the spiritual rock-mass that followed them, and that rock-mass meant the Christ.” Thus, in a figurative way, both the Israelites and the “vast mixed company” got baptized although they did not literally get wet.
17 That miraculous baptism by Jehovah God consigned them to Moses as their God-given leader, just as if they literally had been baptized into him. But this was not a baptism into death, as in the case of the pursuing Egyptians. (Exodus 14:1–15:21) Today we are nearing a similar situation. The faithful remnant of spiritual Israelites and their “great crowd” of companions have left the antitypical Egypt. (Revelation 11:7, 8) They march to the New Order of things under Christ’s millennial kingdom. The Greater Moses, the glorified Lord Jesus Christ, leads them. Pursuing them is the enemy world, determined that they shall not make it to safety. The antitypical Egyptians are heading for the battlefield of God, Har–Magedon, where they will be baptized with fire, destruction. None of them will be left alive to tell the horrifying story. (Revelation 16:14-16; Matthew 3:11, 12) As during the Red Sea episode, the slaughter at Har–Magedon will not include any of spiritual Israel or the “great crowd” of the “other sheep” of the Greater Moses.
18. How will those of the “great crowd” fare like the “vast mixed company” after their departure from Egypt under the leadership of Moses?
18 The faithful ones of the “great crowd” are not straggling behind, half-heartedly desiring to return to the antitypical plague-smitten Egypt under its Pharaoh, Satan the Devil. With faces forward, they keep in continuous touch with the remnant of spiritual Israelites, like “one flock.” (John 10:16) Just as the “vast mixed company” survived through the Red Sea, so those of the modern-day “great crowd” will find themselves on the shores of salvation after the “war of the great day of God the Almighty.”
19. Particularly since when have those making up the “great crowd” of today been submitting to baptism in water, and how have they cleaned up their identity to offer pure worship to God?
19 Particularly since 1935 those now making up the “great crowd” have been submitting to baptism in water in symbol of the unqualified dedication of themselves to God through the Greater Moses, Jesus Christ. They have washed their robes of identification and have made them “white in the blood of the Lamb,” the Greater Moses. (Revelation 7:9-14) They offer clean worship to God.
20. Where do those of the “great crowd” worship Jehovah, and how was this foretold at Zechariah 8:20-23?
20 This “great crowd” of clean worshipers are at God’s spiritual temple day and night. (Revelation 7:15-17) They were prefigured by the ones whom the prophet Zechariah foresaw as worshiping at Jehovah’s temple after its restoration in Jerusalem following the release of the Israelites from Babylon in 537 B.C.E.—Zechariah 8:20-23.
21. In what way do the “great crowd” “take hold of the skirt of a man who is a Jew,” and because of what do they have hope of surviving the “great tribulation”?
21 The attitude of those “ten men out of all the languages of the nations” bespeaks devotion to the one living and true God, Jehovah God! Today such devotion is acceptable to Him through the greatest “Jew” ever on earth, the once-sacrificed “Lamb,” Jesus Christ. They faithfully imitate Jesus by submitting to water baptism in symbol not only of the presentation of themselves but additionally, in their case, of their wholehearted dedication to the same God. ‘Taking hold of the skirt’ of the remnant of the 144,000 spiritual Jews, they gather with that “people” to the Jerusalem above, the heavenly Jerusalem. At its spiritual temple, represented by the remnant yet on earth, they render “sacred service” to the Most High God, Jehovah, day and night. Their hope is to survive the “great tribulation,” to continue their dedicated service to God forever on earth. Their being properly identified as unreservedly dedicated and baptized servants of God puts them in line for this, being assured that “the Father is looking for suchlike ones to worship him . . . with spirit and truth.”—John 4:23, 24.
a The expression “sign of dedication” translates the Hebrew word nezer, which Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible defines as follows: “Prop[erly] something set apart, i.e. (abstr[act]) dedication (of a priest or Nazirite); hence (concr[ete]) unshorn locks; also (by impl[ication]) a chaplet (espec[ially] of royalty):—consecration, crown, hair, separation.”
ARE YOU ABLE TO ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS BY WAY OF REVIEW?
□ In what way was attention drawn to Jehovah’s dedication of the high priesthood to his sacred service?
□ How was Jesus able to become a high priest?
□ According to Romans 12:1, 2, what is to be done by those who become Christ’s disciples?
□ As regards baptism, how does the “great crowd” compare with the “vast mixed company” that accompanied the Israelites out of Egypt?
[Picture on page 22]
The glorified Jesus Christ is a royal High Priest, higher than ancient Israel’s chief priests with their material symbol of being dedicated to sacred service
[Picture on page 25]
A “great crowd” have been baptized in water in symbol of their unqualified dedication to Jehovah God through Jesus Christ. Have you similarly made and symbolized an unreserved dedication to God?