What Birth of the Nation Has Meant for Mankind
INSTEAD of answering his own questions recorded at Isaiah 66:9 with a plain No! God moved Isaiah to express this triumphant call:
2 “Rejoice with Jerusalem and be joyful with her, all you lovers of her. Exult greatly with her, all you keeping yourselves in mourning over her; for the reason that you will suck and certainly get satisfaction from the breast of full consolation by her; for the reason that you will sip and experience exquisite delight from the teat of her glory. For this is what Jehovah has said: ‘Here I am extending to her peace just like a river and the glory of nations just like a flooding torrent, and you will certainly suck. Upon the flank you will be carried, and upon the knees you will be fondled. Like a man whom his own mother keeps comforting, so I myself shall keep comforting you people; and in the case of Jerusalem you will be comforted. And you will certainly see, and your heart will be bound to exult, and your very bones will sprout just like tender grass. And the hand of Jehovah will certainly be made known to his servants, but he will actually denounce his enemies.’”—Isaiah 66:10-14.
3. Thus the restored Jewish exiles were likened to what, with what enjoyment, and whose hand would they see in this matter?
3 Thus those restored from exile were likened to newborn babes taking nourishment. To the Jewish exiles by the rivers of Babylon the references to sucking the breast and sipping the teat denoted that there would be another Jerusalem built on the site of the destroyed capital city; also that she would mother a population of many citizens or inhabitants and the many other citizens of her realm. (Compare Luke 13:34.) Like mothers then in the Middle East, rebuilt Jerusalem would have her children straddle her left or right thigh, to carry them; and, when seated, she would fondle them lovingly on her lap. Those Jews who loved Jehovah’s visible organization back there in the sixth century BCE would rejoice over this, and they would cease from mourning over the fact that for the seventy years of their exile in a pagan land there had been no Jerusalem as the capital city of Jehovah’s chosen people. Their joy was like that described in Psalm 126, as in contrast with the sorrow expressed in Psalm 137. Jehovah’s servants saw his hand in their deliverance.
4, 5. (a) How did the remnant react to the manifestation of God’s “hand” in their behalf, and what did they appreciate more than ever? (b) The time had then arrived for what other action? (c) How does Isaiah describe this?
4 This was no less the case with the members of the spiritual “nation” that was “born” in 1919 CE. After their astonishing liberation from the restrictions imposed during World War I and the threat of their being wiped out, they rejoiced with unbounded joy. Their mourning passed away. More keenly than ever before they came to appreciate that Jehovah is their God and that he has a visible organization, just as he has an invisible organization in the heavens that is like a wife to him. This invisible organization is, for the remnant, a “mother,” the “Jerusalem above.” (Isaiah 54:1-6; Galatians 4:26) So, coming together again from their disorganized state during World War I, they rejoiced to be nursed, borne along and fondled by this spiritual “mother,” the celestial “wife” of God their Father. As “servants” dedicated to him through their older Brother, Jesus Christ, they were comforted to know that the “hand” of Jehovah was operating in their favor. Opposite to this, the time had come for him to “denounce his enemies.” This included those who are hostile to the proclaimers of his newborn kingdom, for those who are enemies of his dedicated people are also his own personal enemies. Telling how he will carry out his denunciation, Jehovah goes on to say:
5 “‘For here Jehovah himself comes as a very fire, and his chariots are like a storm wind, in order to pay back his anger with sheer rage and his rebuke with flames of fire. For as fire Jehovah himself will for a fact take up the controversy, yes, with his sword, against all flesh; and the slain of Jehovah will certainly become many. Those sanctifying themselves and cleansing themselves for the gardens behind one in the center, eating the flesh of the pig and the loathsome thing, even the jumping rodent, they will all together reach their end,’ is the utterance of Jehovah. ‘And as regards their works and their thoughts, I am coming in order to collect all the nations and tongues together; and they will have to come and see my glory.’”—Isaiah 66:15-18.
6. So how were the Israelites of Isaiah’s day breaking their covenant and befouling themselves?
6 In the days when Isaiah wrote those words, over a century before the destruction of Jerusalem in 607 BCE, the Israelites were grossly violating their national covenant with Jehovah, the law covenant mediated by the prophet Moses. They were sanctifying themselves and cleansing themselves for idolatrous worship in special gardens and were breaking God’s laws forbidding them to eat certain things. They defiled themselves and befouled themselves before the God of their covenant and did nothing for his glory.
7. (a) How did Jehovah act in line with his covenant terms to settle the controversy? (b) With whom does God have a like controversy today?
7 So he brought upon those covenant breakers his fiery, stormy judgments, in proper harmony with his covenant terms. He took up the “sword” of execution in settling the controversy that he had with all Jewish flesh. No wonder that merely a few thousand survived the merciless destruction of Jerusalem, only to be dragged off into long exile in pagan idolatrous Babylon. All the surrounding nations and language groups were obliged to witness this manifestation of the glory of Jehovah as the covenant-keeping God who does not lie. All of this solemnly reminds us that the same God has a controversy on a far larger scale with modern-day Christendom, which claims to have replaced ancient Israel as the people of Jehovah God. To his glory he will use his “sword” of vengeance to slay her utterly.
A “Sign” Set Among the Nations
8, 9. (a) To his glory Jehovah has carried out his purpose after having produced what things and after what wartime experience of his people? (b) How did he set out his purpose in Isaiah 66:19, 20?
8 To his international glory this Almighty God has carried out his unalterable purpose as to what would take place after he caused “a land” to be “brought forth with labor pains in one day” and after he caused “a nation” to be “born at one time.” As we read his words set out in Isaiah 66:19, 20, we can call to mind what he has gloriously done since the birth of the “nation” made up of the remnant of spiritual Israelites in 1919 after having ceased to be an organized people during World War I, and entertaining little hope or expectation of surviving that world conflict. Here is what he said:
9 “‘And I will set among them a sign [ōth, Hebrew; signum, Latin Vulgate], and I will send some of those who are escaped to the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, those drawing the bow, Tubal and Javan, the faraway islands, who have not heard a report about me or seen my glory; and they will for certain tell about my glory among the nations. And they will actually bring all your brothers out of all the nations as a gift to Jehovah, on horses and in chariots and in covered wagons and on mules and on swift she-camels, up to my holy mountain, Jerusalem,’ Jehovah has said, ‘just as when the sons of Israel bring the gift in a clean vessel into the house of Jehovah.’”
10. What has the “sign” that God “set” among the nations proved to be?
10 What has proved to be the “sign” that Jehovah “set” among the nations since World War I? It was a living “sign.” Earlier, in Isaiah’s prophecy, this mouthpiece of Jehovah said: “Look! I and the children whom Jehovah has given me are as signs and as miracles in Israel from Jehovah of armies, who is residing in Mount Zion.” (Isaiah 8:18) In Hebrews 2:11-13 the Christian apostle Paul quotes from those prophetic words and applies them to Jesus Christ and his spirit-begotten disciples, saying: “For both he who is sanctifying and those who are being sanctified all stem from one, and for this cause he is not ashamed to call them ‘brothers,’ as he says: . . . ‘Look! I and the young children, whom Jehovah gave me.’”
11. What have those who make up that “sign” preached worldwide since 1914, and why did they need to be gathered?
11 In agreement with that, the “sign” that Jehovah set up among the nations of earth, for whom “the times of the Gentiles” ran out in 1914, is the spiritual “nation,” the members of which have preached worldwide God’s kingdom that was born in the heavens at the close of the “appointed times of the nations” in 1914. (Luke 21:24, Authorized Version; New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures; Matthew 24:14) To that end Jehovah gathered together the remnant of spiritual Israelites who had been scattered by the fierce persecution during World War I.
12. (a) Who were to be added to the remnant that had survived World War I? (b) When, especially, did the sending forth of “those who are escaped” begin to take place?
12 Also, there were still others who were to be brought and added to those spiritual Israelites who survived World War I, so as to make up the full membership of the remnant of Christ’s spiritual “brothers” at this time. (Matthew 25:40) Notably since the holding of the first general convention of the International Bible Students in Cedar Point, Ohio, USA, in the summer of 1919, Jehovah began to send “some of those who are escaped” of the original remnant “to the nations.” More strikingly did he do so at the 1922 convention of the IBSA at the same resort offshore from Sandusky, Ohio, when the president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society climaxed his rousing discourse to the conventioners with the dramatic words: “Advertise, advertise, advertise, the King and his kingdom.” Thereafter the congregations of the remnant of spiritual Israelites geared themselves for the proclamation of God’s established kingdom, “for a witness to all the nations,” by having all members go forth into the field, “from house to house” and publicly. All were ambassadors of the kingdom!—Acts 20:20.
13. In fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, who are gathered out of all the nations, and, as it were, by what means faster than by walking?
13 In fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, all of this resulted in a grand gathering of the remnant of the spiritual brotherhood, as it were, by all means of conveyance or transportation much faster than by walking. Jehovah had said that he would send “some of those who are escaped” even to far distant lands, and this he did by sending those who had “escaped” alive from the first world war and the famines, pestilences and earthquakes that marked the death-dealing period of 1914-1918 CE, and particularly the persecution that raged against the dedicated Bible students who were cooperating zealously with the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society worldwide. The persecution in particular caused the spiritual death of some, so that they did not join in the regathering of the surviving remnant after World War I, especially when the call to united action began to be issued through the printed publications of the Society and through its traveling representatives who visited the congregations.
14. About what did the “escaped” ones who were sent forth tell, and even to places in what state of ignorance were they sent?
14 However, the faithful ones did as Jehovah had foretold, “tell about my glory among the nations.” (Isaiah 66:19) To all accessible lands and “nations” those obedient “escaped” ones went, even to “faraway islands,” telling about the glory of Jehovah’s kingdom that had now been established in the heavens in the hands of his reigning King, Jesus Christ. Many in those nations and distant islands had not even heard a report about the true God, Jehovah, and had never discerned that, according to the foretold signs of the times, his glorious kingdom had been born in the heavens.—Revelation 12:1-5, 10.
15. Those spiritual “brothers” who are brought as a “gift to Jehovah” must keep themselves in what spiritual state, and why?
15 All those whom the “escaped” ones brought as their spiritual “brothers” they brought “as a gift to Jehovah,” not to some human leader of a religious sect or to some earthly political world power that was vying for popular support. For the “gift” to be acceptable to Jehovah, it had to be clean. That is why the prophecy describes the bringing of the living “gift” as being “just as when the sons of Israel bring the gift in a clean vessel into the house of Jehovah.” (Isaiah 66:20) That is why those spiritual “brothers” who make up the “gift” must be no part of this world, yes, they must keep themselves “without spot from the world.” (James 1:27) They must keep themselves neutral toward the defiling politics of this unclean system of things. That is why Jehovah said they would be brought “up to my holy mountain, Jerusalem.” This does not signify the modern-day Jerusalem, the capital of the political State of Israel. The nation of which it is the capital is 85 percent Jewish and it is a member of the United Nations organization for maintaining world peace and security.
16. Why does Jehovah have nothing in the Middle East today that could be called his “holy mountain”?
16 Modern Jerusalem in the Middle East does not have any “holy mountain” that Jehovah could call his own in a religious sense. Why not? Because what was once his “holy mountain” over there is now crowned by a Muhammadan shrine, the Dome of the Rock. This is for worshipers, not of Jehovah, but of Allah, a deity without a personal name.
17. So what is the “holy mountain, Jerusalem,” to which those spiritual “brothers” are brought since the birth of the nation in 1919?
17 All pertinent things being honestly considered, a significant fact becomes evident: In the modern fulfillment of Isaiah 66:20 “my holy mountain” refers to a motherlike organization for spiritual Israelites, namely, “Jerusalem above,” spoken of in Galatians 4:26. It is the Zion that has “given birth to her sons,” according to Isaiah 66:8. Those “sons” make up the “nation” that was “born at one time,” in the postwar year of 1919. In view of that fact, those spiritual “brothers” that were brought by the “escaped” ones since that birth of the “nation” were brought “as a gift to Jehovah” and were put in touch with his royal organization, the “Jerusalem above,” this being typified by the rebuilt earthly Jerusalem of old. These being brought forth as her “sons,” they were brought into the visible earthly part of Jehovah’s universal organization, to be spiritual Jerusalemites.
Restoration of the Pure Worship of Jehovah
18. Since Jehovah promised to take some of the newborn “nation” also “for the priests, for the Levites,” what was the most fitting thing for the “nation” to do in their realm of activity?
18 Did that newborn “nation” take up the full worship of the one living and true God, Jehovah, in their postwar realm of spiritual activity? To do so was most appropriate, now that they had been freed from domination by Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion. And do so they did, in line with the action that Jehovah promised that he would take respecting the newborn “nation,” in Isaiah 66:21: “‘And from them also I shall take some for the priests, for the Levites,’ Jehovah has said.” We must remember that, in the case of the Israelites during the seventy years of their exile in ancient Babylon, from 607 to 537 BCE, they were without the active service of the Aaronic high priest and underpriests and of their servants, the Levites, inasmuch as the temple at which they had served was destroyed. With accuracy Jehovah had foretold this, at Hosea 3:4, 5, saying:
19. How had Jehovah foretold the restoration of his worship at Hosea 3:4, 5?
19 “It is because for many days the sons of Israel will dwell . . . without a sacrifice and without a pillar and without an ephod and teraphim. Afterwards the sons of Israel will come back and certainly look for Jehovah their God, and for David their king [the Messiah]; and they will certainly come quivering to Jehovah and to his goodness in the final part of the days.”
20. Such action by Jehovah would call for what to be built, and where, and this in behalf of what most vital needs?
20 Thus, besides acting as their Liberator from Babylon, Jehovah would take care of their most vital needs, their spiritual needs. He would reinstate a legitimate high priest along with his underpriests, and these would be assisted by a body of Levites. This would call for the rebuilding of the temple at Jerusalem, at which these could carry on their services so important to the “nation” that would be born “at one time.” This would take place in the “land” that would be “brought forth with labor pains in one day,” their beloved homeland. Yes, unlikely though this might seem.—Isaiah 66:8.
21. What similar thing took place in a spiritual sense in the case of the newborn “nation” from 1919 onward?
21 In a spiritual sense, the like thing has been true with the remnant of spiritual Israel since Jehovah God liberated them from Babylon the Great (the world empire of false religion) in the postwar year of 1919 CE. He saw to their spiritual needs first. He cleared up their understanding of the office of the Messianic King, Jesus Christ, as High Priest of God. He cleansed them from any religious defilements that still clung to them from association with Babylon the Great and bondage to her. As members of “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for special possession” with regard to the Most High God, they came to appreciate more distinctly than ever before how and why they needed to keep strict neutrality toward the political affairs of this modern world. They saw that the time had come for the one living and true God to ‘make a name for himself.’ And they awoke to their obligation to exalt God’s personal name, Jehovah, above all other names. They discerned their obligation to be witnesses to this God whose name had been overshadowed for centuries, and appropriately adopted the name “Jehovah’s witnesses” in the memorable year of 1931.—1 Peter 2:9; Isaiah 43:12; 63:12.
22. Although it involves salvation of creatures, what is the most important issue, the most important teaching of the Bible, and why?
22 Although meriting due consideration in the inspired Bible, the salvation of the human race from sin and death and bondage to Satan the Devil and his organization is not the most important thing, the most important doctrine of the Holy Bible. As the leading article, entitled “Integrity,” appearing in the issue of August 15, 1941, of the Watchtower magazine, said: “Jehovah’s purpose to have the world ruled by his righteous Government is repeatedly emphasized in the Scriptures. His Government is the Theocracy over which he has made Christ Jesus the King. . . . The primary issue raised by Satan’s defiant challenge was and is that of UNIVERSAL DOMINATION.” (Paragraphs 1, 19) Hence, the chief purpose of the Most High God is to vindicate this universal sovereignty, which he alone exercises. This he will gloriously do shortly in “the war of the great day of God the Almighty” at the battlefield of Har–Magedon. (Revelation 16:14-16) It is the duty, the privilege, the honor of the “holy nation” of spiritual Israel to maintain its integrity toward Jehovah’s universal domination or sovereignty, so proving the Devil a liar.
23. The foiling of what efforts of the enemy nations is in fulfillment of Jehovah’s words at Isaiah 66:22?
23 Down to this late date all efforts on the part of the worldly nations of Satan’s visible organization to wipe out Jehovah’s “nation” that was “born” in 1919 on its newly brought-forth “land” have failed. This is in faithful fulfillment of the assurance given by the Universal Sovereign in these words at Isaiah 66:22: “‘For just as the new heavens and the new earth that I am making are standing before me,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘so the offspring of you people and the name of you people will keep standing.’”
24. (a) The permanence of God’s new heavens and new earth is of what assurance to the remnant of spiritual Israel? (b) Of what will the remnant be made a part in due time?
24 Ah, no! Despite all that Satan the Devil and his invisible demons and his visible earthly organization may attempt to do in the near future against them, the remnant of spiritual Israel and its name will not be blotted out. The visible earthly offspring of Satan’s organization and their names will not stand much longer. But, in brilliant contrast with that, the offspring of Jehovah’s universal organization, the remnant of spiritual Israel, will keep standing in existence; nor will its name be expunged by its enemies and be forgotten. Just as surely as the new heavens and the new earth that the Universal Sovereign Jehovah makes will ever keep standing, so it will be in the case of the remnant of spiritual Israel and its worthy name. This does not mean that the remnant of spiritual Israel will stay on earth forever. No, but in due time they will be taken away and joined to their High Priest, Jesus Christ, in “the new heavens” and will serve as underpriests at the spiritual temple.
25. (a) When did Jehovah start “making” those “new heavens”? (b) Particularly since when have prospective members of the “new earth” made their appearance?
25 Jehovah God began making “the new heavens” at the close of the “appointed times of the nations” in 1914 CE, when he seated his glorified Son Jesus Christ on the heavenly throne, to rule as King of kings and Lord of lords. This is “the Son of David,” and, when he was a perfect man on earth, the Universal Sovereign Jehovah made a covenant with him for an everlasting kingdom. (Matthew 21:15) From his celestial throne the King Jesus Christ rules over our terrestrial globe. The making of “the new earth” does not mean or require the destroying of our literal earth. No, for this planet Earth will keep “standing even to time indefinite.” (Ecclesiastes 1:4) God’s kingdom by Christ will transform it into an everlasting Paradise. Not contradictory to that grand fact, the making of the “new earth” means Jehovah’s making of a new human society in full harmony with him and his righteous “new heavens.” (2 Peter 3:13) He has already alive on earth millions of prospective members of that “new earth” society. These have made their appearance particularly since the year 1935 CE.
26. (a) How had the coming of this “great crowd” into association with the remnant of spiritual Israelites been referred to in Isaiah 66:12? (b) Where does this “crowd” now serve Jehovah?
26 These have come out of all the nations, races, people and languages and have dedicated themselves to Jehovah God through Christ the High Priest and have symbolized their dedication by getting baptized in water in imitation of their Fine Shepherd, Jesus Christ. (John 10:14, 16) Earlier, in Isaiah 66:12, Jehovah had said that he would extend to the remnant of spiritual Israel, who represent the “Jerusalem above,” what he calls “the glory of nations,” and this “just like a flooding torrent.” Since 1935 this extending of “the glory of nations” to the spiritual remnant has been in progress in the form of the “great crowd” of the “other sheep” of the Fine Shepherd, the reigning King Jesus Christ. (Revelation 7:9-17) Due to their loyalty to Jehovah’s Theocratic Government by Christ, the Fine Shepherd has made them “one flock” with the remnant of spiritual Israelites. They are brought to Jehovah’s spiritual temple, which is “called even a house of prayer for all the peoples.” (Isaiah 56:7; Mark 11:17) At God’s spiritual temple for such international prayer the glorious “great crowd” are “rendering him sacred service day and night.”—Revelation 7:15.
27, 28. How frequently does the “great crowd” out of “all flesh” meet with the remnant, and what results does their joining in the witness work produce?
27 This marvelous modern development accords with what Jehovah goes on to say, in Isaiah 66:23: “‘And it will certainly occur that from new moon to new moon and from sabbath to sabbath all flesh will come in to bow down before me,’ Jehovah has said.”—Haggai 2:7-9.
28 According to reports, the “great crowd” out of “all flesh” are holding meetings with the remnant of spiritual Israel regularly, “from new moon to new moon [monthly] and from sabbath to sabbath [weekly],” as it were. They are loyally joining with the anointed remnant in the public witnessing and the house-to-house witnessing in order that Jesus’ prediction for the “conclusion of the system of things” may be fulfilled: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations.” (Matthew 24:3, 14) Those people of “all flesh” who respond to the preaching “come in to bow down” before the Sovereign Jehovah.
29, 30. (a) How does Isaiah 66:24 indicate that those worshipers out of “all flesh” will survive the “great tribulation” with which this system of things ends? (b) Of what will they form the foundation, and, afterward, whom will they lead in the worship of the Maker of things heavenly and earthly?
29 As survivors of the “great tribulation” that lies just ahead for the world, they will witness how Jehovah vindicates his universal sovereignty by destroying his own enemies and their enemies in that worldwide “tribulation.” To this effect Isaiah closes his prophecy with the words: “And they [the tribulation survivors] will actually go forth and look upon the carcasses of the men that were transgressing against me; for the very worms upon them will not die and their fire itself will not be extinguished, and they must become something repulsive to all flesh.”—Isaiah 66:24.
30 Like the cursed “goats” of Jesus’ parable that is fulfilled during this “conclusion of the system of things,” those transgressing against the Sovereign Lord Jehovah “will depart into everlasting cutting-off,” eternal destruction. (Matthew 24:3; 25:31-46) Then, as the foundation for the “new earth,” those sheeplike heirs of the paradise earth will welcome into their midst all those resurrected from the dead to life in the flesh on earth. They will lead all such resurrected flesh in unitedly worshiping the vindicated Maker of the “new heavens” and the “new earth.”—Isaiah 65:17; 2 Peter 3:13.
How would you answer the following questions based on Isaiah 66:8-20?
Isa 66 Verse 8: How did the spiritual “nation” of Jehovah come to be “born” into its spiritual “land” in 1919?
Isa 66 Verses 9-14: How did Jerusalem give nourishment and loving care to her “sons”? How does this apply to spiritual sons in our modern day?
Isa 66 Verses 15-18: What practices brought destruction to Jerusalem in 607 BCE, portending what for today?
Isa 66 Verses 19, 20: What “sign” has Jehovah set up “among the nations”? For what purpose?
How would you answer the following questions on Isaiah 66:19-24?
Isa 66 Verse 19: How have “some of those who are escaped” been sent to the “nations”? With what result?
Isa 66 Verse 20: In what way have “the sons of Israel” brought a “gift” to Jehovah’s house?
Isa 66 Verse 21: In what way were some taken to serve as “priests”?
Isa 66 Verse 22: Referring to the certainty of “the new heavens and the new earth,” what assurance does Jehovah give regarding his restored people?
Isa 66 Verse 23: In what way do we see “all flesh” bowing down before Jehovah “from new moon to new moon and from sabbath to sabbath”?
Isa 66 Verse 24: What will the survivors of the “great tribulation” witness as to the fate of transgressors against Jehovah?
[Picture on page 19]
Like a mother, Jerusalem gave her “sons” loving care
[Picture on page 25]
Having “escaped” from “Babylon the Great,” Jehovah’s Witnesses go forth with the Kingdom message