“The Israel of God” and the End of the Gentile Times
1, 2. (a) What situation inside the walled Jerusalem of today shows that Jehovah has not resumed world domination through that city? (b) But what other city of that name is now to be taken into account?
DECEMBER of the mid-war year of 1917 marked the taking of earthly Jerusalem away from the Muhammadan Turks by the British troops under General Allenby. Throughout the earth natural Jews hailed this event. But down to this very day the continued presence of the Muhammadan shrine on Mount Moriah inside walled Jerusalem debars the building of any temple for Jewish worship on that former site of King Solomon’s temple. Admittedly, the God to whom that temple was built by the royal son of David is not exercising world domination by his Messianic Kingdom through earthly Jerusalem, now that “the times of the Gentiles” have ended. But what about the other Jerusalem? Which Jerusalem? The one spoken of in the inspired letter written to the disciples of the Messiah Jesus in the Roman province of Galatia, some years after he foretold the destruction of the rebuilt city of Jerusalem, which occurred in 70 C.E. There in Galatians chapter 4, verses 25, 26, we read:
2 “Now this Hagar [slave girl of the Hebrew patriarch Abraham] means Sinai, a mountain in Arabia, and she corresponds with the Jerusalem today, for she is in slavery with her children [her citizens and subjects]. But the Jerusalem above is free [like Abraham’s free wife, Sarah], and she is our mother.”
3, 4. (a) Whom did Paul, along with the Galatian Christians, acknowledge to be his spiritual “mother”? (b) In what way had the nation of Israel been part of God’s universal organization?
3 The writer of those words was the converted Jew Saul of Tarsus who became a chosen apostle of the Messiah Jesus. “The Jerusalem today” of which he wrote was dismissed from God’s organization, just as Hagar was dismissed from Abraham’s household, and it was destroyed in 70 C.E. Paul no longer recognized that earthly Jerusalem as his spiritual mother. He acknowledged “the Jerusalem above,” that is, the celestial Jerusalem, as his spiritual mother. Along with those Galatian Christians, Paul was one of “her children.”
4 When, at Mount Sinai, God brought the people of Israel into relationship with him by means of the Law covenant mediated by Moses, that nation of Israel became the visible part of Jehovah’s universal organization. It belonged to that organization just like the slave girl Hagar belonged to Sarah, the original wife of Abraham. Sarah typified the free “Jerusalem above.” It produces the promised offspring.
5. So in what place would Jehovah take up the exercising of world domination at the end of the Gentile Times, and what question would it be time for him to answer, answering it in what way?
5 In the face of that, it would be in relationship to this “Jerusalem above” that Jehovah God would take up the exercise of his world domination at the end of the Gentile Times in the war-torn year of 1914. Then it came to be the time for him to answer with action the question raised by the inspired writer King David, in Psalm 2:1-6:
“Why have the nations been in tumult and the national groups themselves kept muttering an empty thing? The kings of earth take their stand and high officials themselves have massed together as one against Jehovah and against his anointed one [his Messiah], saying: ‘Let us tear their bands apart and cast their cords away from us!’ The very One sitting in the heavens will laugh; Jehovah himself will hold them in derision. At that time he will speak to them in his anger and in his hot displeasure he will disturb them, saying: ‘I, even I, have installed my king upon Zion, my holy mountain.’”—See also Acts 4:24-26.
6. (a) Why was the installation of the Messianic King at the end of the Gentile Times unseen to earthly rulers? (b) In spite of notification for decades in advance, the worldly rulers kept on preparing to do what at the critical time?
6 Yes, at the end of the Gentile Times in 1914 it was fitting for Jehovah to fulfill these prophetic words written by King David in Psalm 110:1, 2: “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.’” The installation of the Messianic King was upon the heavenly Mount Zion and, hence, was unseen to kings and high officials in government on earth. Although the end of the Gentile Times had been announced in publications by the Watch Tower Society for decades as due to fall in 1914, those earthly rulers were determined to resist the heavenly Messiah in taking over world domination. They kept making the most advanced preparations for international war. Yet, outwardly, 1914 started off peacefully. Then, on July 28 the nations plunged into war.
7. The installation of the Messiah as King at the end of the Gentile Times in 1914 marked the beginning of what relationship on his part to the earth, and how so?
7 The installation of the Messiah as King at Jehovah’s right hand in that selfsame year marked the start of his invisible presence with respect to our earth. Why so? Because as the newly installed King over the earth it was proper for him to turn his attention to his earthly domain, then occupied by his enemies, aspirants for imperial world domination. ‘The rod of his strength’ was sent out of “the Jerusalem above,” toward our earth. At Jehovah’s command he began to ‘rule in the midst of his enemies’ down at the earth. It was also to the earth that he hurled down the Devil and his demons out of heaven.—Revelation 12:7-17.
8. For “the sign” of what did Jesus’ apostles ask him, and, according to Psalm 2:1, in what state would the nations then be?
8 “The sign” that the Messiah Jesus described as evidence of his invisible “presence” came into visibility at the end of the Gentile Times in 1914. Shortly before his martyr’s death the apostles asked Jesus: “Tell us when these things shall be,—and what the sign of thy presence and the conclusion of the age.” (Matthew 24:3, The Emphasised Bible, by J. Rotherham; The Emphatic Diaglott, by Benjamin Wilson; Young’s Literal Translation; New World Translation) According to Psalm 2:1, the nations would be tumultuous at the time for God to install the Messiah Jesus as King in the celestial Jerusalem, or Zion.
9. (a) During the first century, did the inquiring apostles witness a tribulation so great as to be forever without equal? (b) So their witnessing things mentioned by Jesus in Matthew 24:7-15 served as what kind of fulfillment?
9 Whether Jesus when giving his answer had Psalm 2:1 in mind, and also Psalm 110:1-4, we do not know. At any rate, his answer corresponds with those prophecies made by King David, far more impressively so since 1914 than during the 37 years from when the apostles asked the question and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman legions in 70 C.E. Certainly that appalling Jewish calamity did not remain without equal. It was not worse, for example, than the massacre of the reported 6,000,000 Jews under the Nazi Hitler regime before and during World War II. Jerusalem’s destruction was not a “great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.” (Matthew 24:21) What the inquiring apostles witnessed down to the end of the first century C.E. was a miniature fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy, in the way of famines, earthquakes, pestilences, wars and persecutions, as well as the wiping out of “the Jerusalem today.” They did not need to howl over this, because the celestial Jerusalem kept standing.
10. The major fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy leads us to what conclusion?
10 Those things happening away back there did not make up a composite “sign” denoting his “presence” and “the conclusion of the age.” So in order for the truthfulness of Jesus’ prophecy to be upheld, there had to be a major fulfillment of his words later on, during the days of the last members of his “little flock” of Kingdom heirs. (Luke 12:32) That would be from the end of the Gentile Times forward till now. As we look at world history since that date, in the light of Bible prophecy, we cannot but come to the conviction that we are living in “the conclusion of the system of things.” (Matthew 24:3; Mark 13:4) This conviction is borne up by the fulfillment of Revelation 6:3-17, written more than a quarter of a century after Jerusalem’s destruction and telling about the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, as people call them.
11. What can surviving members of “the congregation of the firstborn” recall about World War I times, and how do fulfillments of Jesus’ prophecy during the first century compare with these latter events?
11 Some of the remnant of “the congregation of the firstborn who have been enrolled in the heavens” are still alive today, and they well remember the Spanish influenza. (Hebrews 12:23) This terrible plague swept the earth toward the close of World War I, as one of the foretold pestilences, and it killed off more millions of mankind than were slain during the more than four years of World War I. Members of the remnant still living recall also the persecution of the Christian Bible students who were endeavoring to keep free from the bloodguilt of the world. They remember how this persecution climaxed in the imprisonment of the president (48 years old), the secretary-treasurer (54 years old), and six other members of the headquarters staff of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, on charges that were thrown out of court in 1919. In that connection pieces of literature of the Society came under ban in Canada and the United States of America, to be released only after World War I. All things considered, what happened in apostolic times during the first century in fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy pales in significance when compared with similar events on a worldwide scale during 1914-1918 C.E.
Obedient Action by “the Israel of God”
12. (a) In answering the question regarding “the sign” of his presence, the persecution of whom did he mention, and of what race were the first ones of these? (b) What has replaced “that which is Israel in a fleshly way”?
12 In answering the question concerning “the sign” of his unseen “presence,” Jesus did not mention any persecution upon “that which is Israel in a fleshly way.” (1 Corinthians 10:18) He foretold the persecution of his disciples, the first ones of whom were, of course, natural, circumcised Jews and proselytes. But by the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel 2:28, 29 from the day of Pentecost of 33 C.E. onward, his disciples became a new Israel, a spiritual Israel. (Acts 1:6–2:42) About the middle of the first century the converted Jew, the apostle Paul, wrote to the Christians in Galatia and went on to tell them: “But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother.” (Galatians 4:26) And near the close of his letter he remarked: “For neither is circumcision anything nor is uncircumcision, but a new creation is something. And all those who will walk orderly by this rule of conduct, upon them be peace and mercy, even upon the Israel of God.”—Galatians 6:15, 16.
13. In what outstanding feature of “the sign” of “the conclusion of the system of things” do the remnant and their companions seek to have a personal part, and with what results to date?
13 Now, since the remnant of that “Israel of God” are seeing the unfolding “sign” of “the conclusion of the system of things,” what course of action should they obediently take? That course by which they will have a share in the fulfillment of that outstanding feature of “the sign” that Jesus foretold, saying: “But he that has endured [the persecution] to the end [Greek: telos] is the one that will be saved. And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations [the goyim]; and then the end [telos] will come.” (Matthew 24:13, 14; Mark 13:9, 10) In the year following the end of World War I, the surviving remnant of “the Israel of God” began obediently carrying out that prophetic command. As a result, today, in 205 lands and in some 190 languages, “this good news of the kingdom” is being preached by the remnant of spiritual Israelites and their companion witnesses of Jehovah. All of this despite persecution and World War II.
14. By giving this witness they are letting it be known that what “times” have ended for the nations, and how has this really been the case?
14 By this irrepressible witness to the established Kingdom, the Gentiles, the goyim, “the nations,” are being given to understand that their “times,” their “seven times,” for trampling upon Jerusalem ended in the autumn of 1914. (Luke 21:24) The Jerusalem here involved is, not the earthly Jerusalem in the Middle East, but the celestial Jerusalem, for there, in heaven, is where Jehovah God enthroned his Messiah, his anointed Son Jesus, when the Gentile Times ran out in 1914. Accordingly, “the holy city” that the nations, the Gentiles, were to trample “underfoot for forty-two months,” according to Revelation 11:1, 2, was not “the heavenly Jerusalem” in which the Messiah Jesus has been reigning since 1914. (Hebrews 12:22) Rather, the trampling was upon the remnant of “the Israel of God” for 42 lunar months, or three and a half lunar years, by the persecution during World War I. But by the time of the second convention of the Bible students at Cedar Point, Ohio, U.S.A., in the summer of 1922, they had fully recovered spiritually. So the persecution of the remnant during World War I was part of “the sign” that would mark the fact that Jesus was present in his Kingdom from 1914 onward in Jerusalem above, free of all trampling.—Matthew 24:3, 9-13.
15. Then it was that the remnant and their companions began to do what as never before, and in this respect have they let themselves be trampled upon?
15 Then it was that the remnant of “the Israel of God” launched out as never before to “advertise the King and the Kingdom.” Spiritually speaking, they have not lain down to be trampled upon by the Gentiles any more.—Revelation 11:7-15.
16. Since 1914, what king goes riding and subduing in the midst of enemies, and in what way will there shortly be a reversal of things in the matter of trampling?
16 In a glorious reversal of things, since the close of the Gentile Times in 1914 the enthroned King Jesus Christ has reigned in the celestial Jerusalem, and he goes subduing in the midst of his earthly enemies. Shortly, after the Kingdom witness is given internationally, the end of “the conclusion of the system of things” will come. Those enemy Gentiles, or “nations,” will be cut down like a fruit-laden vine. Then he will hurl them into “the great winepress of the anger of God,” and there he will give them a deserved trampling, crushing out their very lifeblood. (Revelation 14:18-20) “He will shepherd [the nations] with a rod of iron. He treads too the winepress of the anger of the wrath of God the Almighty.”—Revelation 19:15.
17. What is the final parable in Jesus’ prophecy on “the sign,” and how is good being done to the spiritual “brothers” of the ruler?
17 The fulfillment of Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goats was to be part of “the sign” betokening his invisible “presence” and “the conclusion of the system of things.” (Matthew 24:3; 25:31-46) True to the prediction, millions have by now accepted the Kingdom witness given by the remnant of “the Israel of God.” They have reacted properly, appreciatively. These parabolic “sheep” do good to even the least of the spiritual “brothers” of the reigning King Jesus Christ. In cooperation with these “brothers” of his, the “sheep” are doing the overwhelming part of the foretold preaching of “this good news of the kingdom” earth wide for a final witness.
18. What “kingdom” do the symbolic sheep want to inherit, and how will they be given the invitation to do so?
18 These parabolic “sheep” want to inherit “the kingdom prepared for [them] from the founding of the world.” (Matthew 25:34) The invitation to do this they will receive from the reigning “Son of man” as they enter the “great tribulation,” with the prospect of surviving it under divine protection. This will be in fulfillment of Jesus’ closing words of the parable: “And these [the symbolic goats who fail to do good to Christ’s “brothers”] will depart into everlasting cutting-off [in death], but the righteous ones [the symbolic sheep] into everlasting life.” (Matthew 25:46) They will be the “flesh” that will be saved clear through the “great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.” For the sake of God’s “chosen ones” (the remnant of “the Israel of God”) the days of that greatest of all earthly tribulations will be cut short.—Matthew 24:21, 22.
19. Out of what will the “great crowd” come, and what will they do with the “Kingdom” domain into which they are ushered?
19 Thus the “great crowd” of sheeplike ones will “come out of the great tribulation” and enter into the cleansed earthly domain of the King Jesus Christ. (Revelation 7:9-14) From the start of the new system of things they will have a part in converting this Kingdom domain into the earthly Paradise worldwide that the Creator purposed it to be when he gave the divine mandate to the parents of the whole world of mankind, Adam and Eve.—Genesis 1:27-31; 2:5-9.
20. Meanwhile, what do those sheeplike ones do along with the remnant, and what meaning of “the sign” do they hold onto, down to “the end”?
20 In the meantime, until they hear the invitation of the reigning “Son of man” in heavenly glory: “Come, you who have been blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world,” these righteous sheeplike ones continue working shoulder to shoulder with the remnant of “the Israel of God.” (Matthew 25:34) Like these spiritual Israelites they do not lose faith in the meaning of the end of the Gentile Times in 1914. So, not blinding their eyes to the brightening “sign” of the “presence” of the Messiah Jesus as King, they glorify their ministry as his earthly subjects and joyfully forge ahead, preaching “this good news of the kingdom” earth wide in the face of the fast approaching “end.”—Matthew 24:14.
Can You Answer?
□ What does the fulfillment of all the features of the foretold “sign” prove?
□ In what activity are “the Israel of God” and their companions sharing?
□ What is “the holy city” that was trampled “underfoot for forty-two months,” and what “Jerusalem” was not trampled upon?
□ When the dividing of the symbolic sheep and goats is completed, what will happen to each group?
[Picture on page 24]
What visible evidences did Jesus foretell so his followers would know that the Gentile Times had ended?