The Triumph of True Worship Draws Near
“Jehovah must become king over all the earth.”—ZECHARIAH 14:9.
1. What was the experience of anointed Christians during World War I, and how was this foretold?
DURING the first world war, anointed Christians suffered many hardships and imprisonments at the hands of the warring nations. Their sacrifices of praise to Jehovah were severely restricted, and they fell into a spiritually captive state. All of this was foretold at Zechariah 14:2, which describes an international attack on Jerusalem. The city of this prophecy is “heavenly Jerusalem,” God’s heavenly Kingdom and the location of “the throne of God and of the Lamb.” (Hebrews 12:22, 28; 13:14; Revelation 22:3) God’s anointed ones on earth represented that city. The faithful ones among them survived the attack, refusing to allow themselves to be exiled “from the city.”*
2, 3. (a) How has the worship of Jehovah triumphed since 1919? (b) Since 1935, what development has taken place?
2 In 1919 faithful anointed ones were set free from their captive condition, and they immediately made use of the period of peace that followed the war. As ambassadors of heavenly Jerusalem, they seized the grand opportunity to preach the good news of God’s Kingdom and to assist in gathering the final members of the 144,000. (Matthew 24:14; 2 Corinthians 5:20) In 1931 they adopted the fitting Scriptural name Jehovah’s Witnesses.—Isaiah 43:10, 12.
3 Since then, God’s anointed Witnesses have never looked back. Not even Hitler with his Nazi war machine could silence them. In spite of worldwide persecution, their work has borne fruit in all the earth. Particularly from the year 1935, they have been joined by the international “great crowd,” foretold in the book of Revelation. These too are dedicated, baptized Christians and have “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb,” Jesus Christ. (Revelation 7:9, 14) However, they are not anointed ones, with the hope of heavenly life. Their hope is to inherit what Adam and Eve lost, namely, perfect human life on a paradise earth. (Psalm 37:29; Matthew 25:34) Today, the great crowd numbers more than five million souls. The true worship of Jehovah is triumphing, but its final triumph is yet to come.
Foreigners in God’s Spiritual Temple
4, 5. (a) Where do the great crowd worship Jehovah? (b) What privileges do they enjoy, and in fulfillment of what prophecy?
4 As foretold, the great crowd “are worshiping [God] day and night in his temple.” (Revelation 7:15, footnote) Since they are not spiritual, priestly Israelites, John likely saw them standing in the temple in the outer courtyard of the Gentiles. (1 Peter 2:5) How glorious Jehovah’s spiritual temple has become, its precincts being filled with this large throng who, along with the remnant of spiritual Israel, are praising him!
5 The great crowd do not serve God in the condition pictured by the inner priestly courtyard. They are not declared righteous for the purpose of being God’s adopted, spiritual sons. (Romans 8:1, 15) Nevertheless, by exercising faith in Jesus’ ransom, they have a clean standing before Jehovah. They are declared righteous with the purpose of being his friends. (Compare James 2:21, 23.) They too are privileged to present acceptable sacrifices upon God’s spiritual altar. Thus, in this large crowd, the prophecy of Isaiah 56:6, 7 is undergoing a glorious fulfillment: “The foreigners that have joined themselves to Jehovah to minister to him and to love the name of Jehovah, . . . I will also bring them to my holy mountain and make them rejoice inside my house of prayer. Their whole burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be for acceptance upon my altar. For my own house will be called even a house of prayer for all the peoples.”
6. (a) What kind of sacrifices do the foreigners offer? (b) Of what does the container of water in the priestly courtyard remind them?
6 Among the sacrifices that these foreigners offer are “the fruit of lips [like finely prepared grain offerings] which make public declaration to [God’s] name” and “the doing of good and the sharing of things with others.” (Hebrews 13:15, 16) The large container of water that the priests had to use to wash themselves is also an important reminder to these foreigners. They too must submit to spiritual and moral cleansing as God’s Word is made progressively clearer to them.
The Holy and Its Furnishings
7. (a) How do the great crowd view the privileges of the holy priesthood? (b) What additional privileges have some foreigners received?
7 Do the Holy and its furnishings have any meaning for this great crowd of foreigners? Well, they will never be in the condition pictured by the Holy. They are not born again as spiritual sons of God with heavenly citizenship. Does this make them feel envious or covetous? No. Rather, they rejoice in their privilege of supporting the remnant of the 144,000, and they show deep appreciation for God’s purpose in adopting these spiritual sons, who will share with Christ in uplifting mankind to perfection. Also, the great crowd of foreigners cherish God’s great undeserved kindness in granting them an earthly hope of everlasting life in Paradise. Some of these foreigners, like the Nethinim of old, have been given privileges of oversight in assisting the holy priesthood.* (Isaiah 61:5) From among these Jesus appoints “princes in all the earth.”—Psalm 45:16.
8, 9. What benefit do the great crowd derive from considering the furnishings of the Holy?
8 While they will never enter the antitypical Holy, the great crowd of foreigners learn valuable lessons from its furnishings. Just as the lampstand needed a constant supply of oil, so the foreigners need holy spirit to help them grasp progressive truths from God’s Word, channeled through “the faithful and discreet slave.” (Matthew 24:45-47) Further, God’s spirit helps them to respond to this invitation: “The spirit and the bride [the anointed remnant] keep on saying: ‘Come!’ And let anyone hearing say: ‘Come!’ And let anyone thirsting come; let anyone that wishes take life’s water free.” (Revelation 22:17) Thus, the lampstand is a reminder to the great crowd of their obligation to shine as Christians and to avoid anything in attitude, thought, word, or deed that would grieve God’s holy spirit.—Ephesians 4:30.
9 The table of showbread reminds the great crowd that to remain spiritually healthy, they must regularly partake of spiritual food from the Bible and from publications of “the faithful and discreet slave.” (Matthew 4:4) The altar of incense reminds them of the importance of earnestly praying to Jehovah for help so as to keep their integrity. (Luke 21:36) Their prayers should include heartfelt expressions of praise and thanksgiving. (Psalm 106:1) The incense altar also reminds them of the need to praise God in other ways, such as through their wholehearted singing of Kingdom songs at Christian meetings and by their preparing well to make effective “public declaration for salvation.”—Romans 10:10.
The Complete Triumph of True Worship
10. (a) To what grand prospect can we look forward? (b) What development must take place first?
10 Today “many peoples” out of all nations are streaming to Jehovah’s house of worship. (Isaiah 2:2, 3) Confirming this, Revelation 15:4 states: “Who will not really fear you, Jehovah, and glorify your name, because you alone are loyal? For all the nations will come and worship before you, because your righteous decrees have been made manifest.” Zechariah chapter 14 describes what follows. In the near future, the bad attitude of the majority of the people on earth will reach a climax as they gather for the last time to wage war against Jerusalem—the representatives on earth of the heavenly Jerusalem. Then Jehovah will act. As a Warrior-God, he “will certainly go forth and war against those nations” who dare to make this attack.—Zechariah 14:2, 3.
11, 12. (a) How will Jehovah respond to the coming global attack upon worshipers in his temple? (b) What will be the result of God’s war?
11 “This is what will prove to be the scourge with which Jehovah will scourge all the peoples that will actually do military service against Jerusalem: There will be a rotting away of one’s flesh, while one is standing upon one’s feet; and one’s very eyes will rot away in their sockets, and one’s very tongue will rot away in one’s mouth. And it must occur in that day that confusion from Jehovah will become widespread among them; and they will actually grab hold, each one of the hand of his companion, and his hand will actually come up against the hand of his companion.”—Zechariah 14:12, 13.
12 Whether this scourge is literal or figurative, we will have to wait and see. However, one thing is certain. While God’s enemies are moving to make their global attack on Jehovah’s servants, they will be stopped by awesome demonstrations of God’s almighty power. Their mouths will be silenced. It will be as if their tongues of defiance had rotted away. Their united goal will become blurred to their vision, as if their eyes had rotted away. Their physical powers, which emboldened them to make the attack, will waste away. In confusion, they will turn upon one another with a great slaughter. Thus all the earthly enemies of God’s worship will be wiped out. At last, all nations will have been forced to recognize Jehovah’s universal sovereignty. The prophecy will be fulfilled: “Jehovah must become king over all the earth.” (Zechariah 14:9) Thereafter, Satan and his demons will be bound as the Thousand Year Reign of Christ commences with great blessings in store for mankind.—Revelation 20:1, 2; 21:3, 4.
The Earthly Resurrection
13. Who are the ones “left remaining out of all the nations”?
13 Zechariah’s prophecy continues at Zec chapter 14, verse 16: “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.” According to the Bible, all people alive today who continue living to the end of this wicked system and who are judged to be enemies of true worship will undergo the “judicial punishment of everlasting destruction.” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; see also Matthew 25:31-33, 46.) They will not have a resurrection. Likely, then, the ones “left remaining” include the members of the nations who died before God’s final war and for whom there is a Bible-based hope of a resurrection. “The hour is coming,” Jesus promised, “in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.”—John 5:28, 29.
14. (a) What must resurrected ones do to gain everlasting life? (b) What will happen to any who refuse to dedicate themselves to Jehovah and practice true worship?
14 All these resurrected ones must do something in order for their resurrection to turn out to be one of life and not one of adverse judgment. They must come to the earthly courtyards of Jehovah’s temple and bow down in dedication to God through Jesus Christ. Any resurrected ones who refuse to do this will suffer the same scourge that befalls the present-day nations. (Zechariah 14:18) Who knows how many resurrected ones will gladly join the great crowd in celebrating the antitypical Festival of Booths? Doubtless, there will be many, and Jehovah’s great spiritual temple will become even more glorious as a result!
The Antitypical Festival of Booths
15. (a) What were some outstanding features of the ancient Israelite Festival of Booths? (b) Why were 70 bulls offered during the festival?
15 Each year, ancient Israel was required to celebrate the Festival of Booths. It lasted for one week and came at the conclusion of the gathering in of their harvest. It was a joyful time of thanksgiving. For the duration of the week, they had to live in temporary shelters covered with the leaves of trees, especially palm branches. This festival reminded Israel of how God had saved their forefathers out of Egypt and how he cared for them as they dwelt in booths while moving about for 40 years in the wilderness until they reached the Promised Land. (Leviticus 23:39-43) During the festival, 70 bulls were sacrificed upon the temple altar. Evidently, this feature of the festival was prophetic of the perfect and complete lifesaving work performed by Jesus Christ. The benefits of his ransom sacrifice will eventually flow to countless descendants of the 70 families of mankind that descended from Noah.—Genesis 10:1-29; Numbers 29:12-34; Matthew 20:28.
16, 17. (a) When did the antitypical Festival of Booths commence, and how did it proceed? (b) How do the great crowd share in the celebration?
16 Thus the ancient Festival of Booths pointed to the joyful ingathering of redeemed sinners into Jehovah’s great spiritual temple. The antitype of this festival started at Pentecost in 33 C.E. with the commencement of the joyful ingathering of spiritual Israelites into the Christian congregation. (Acts 2:41, 46, 47) These anointed ones appreciated that they were “temporary residents” in Satan’s world because their real “citizenship exists in the heavens.” (1 Peter 2:11; Philippians 3:20) The joyful festival was temporarily eclipsed by the apostasy that resulted in the formation of Christendom. (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3) However, the festival was resumed in 1919 with the joyful ingathering of the final members of the 144,000 spiritual Israelites, followed by that of the international great crowd of Revelation 7:9.
17 The great crowd are depicted as having palm branches in their hands, which shows that they too are joyful celebrators of the antitypical Festival of Booths. As dedicated Christians, they joyfully share in the work of gathering more worshipers into Jehovah’s temple. Furthermore, as sinners, they appreciate that they do not have permanent dwelling rights on earth. They, along with future resurrected ones, must keep exercising faith in Christ’s ransom sacrifice until they reach human perfection at the end of the Thousand Year Reign of Christ.—Revelation 20:5.
18. (a) What will happen at the end of the Thousand Year Reign of Jesus Christ? (b) How will the true worship of Jehovah finally triumph?
18 Then, God’s worshipers on earth will stand before him in human perfection without the need of a heavenly priesthood. The time will have come when Jesus Christ “hands over the kingdom to his God and Father.” (1 Corinthians 15:24) Satan will be let loose “for a little while” to test perfected humanity. Any unfaithful ones will be destroyed forever, along with Satan and his demons. Those who remain faithful will be granted everlasting life. They will become permanent dwellers in the earthly Paradise. Thus the antitypical Festival of Booths will have come to a glorious, successful conclusion. True worship will have triumphed to Jehovah’s everlasting glory and mankind’s eternal happiness.—Revelation 20:3, 7-10, 14, 15.
For a verse-by-verse commentary on Zechariah chapter 14, see the book Paradise Restored to Mankind—By Theocracy!, published in 1972 by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., chapters 21 and 22.
For more information on the modern-day Nethinim, see The Watchtower, April 15, 1992, page 16.
□ How was “Jerusalem” under attack during the first world war?—Zechariah 14:2.
□ What has happened to God’s people since 1919?
□ Who today share in celebrating the antitypical Festival of Booths?
□ How will true worship triumph completely?
[Picture on page 23]
Palm branches were used in celebrating the Festival of Booths