Let All Glorify Jehovah!
“In the region of light they must glorify Jehovah.”—ISAIAH 24:15.
1. How was Jehovah’s name regarded by his prophets, contrasting with what attitude in Christendom today?
JEHOVAH—the illustrious name of God! How the faithful prophets of old rejoiced to speak in that name! With exultation they glorified their Sovereign Lord, Jehovah, whose name identifies him as the Great Purposer. (Isaiah 40:5; Jeremiah 10:6, 10; Ezekiel 36:23) Even the so-called minor prophets were most vocal in giving glory to Jehovah. One of these was Haggai. In the book of Haggai, made up of just 38 verses, God’s name is used 35 times. Such prophecy sounds lifeless when the precious name Jehovah is replaced by the title “Lord,” as the superfine apostles of Christendom render it in their Bible translations.—Compare 2 Corinthians 11:5.
2, 3. (a) How was one remarkable prophecy concerning Israel’s restoration fulfilled? (b) In what joy did the Jewish remnant and their companions share?
2 At Isaiah 12:2, a double form of the name is used.a The prophet declares: “Look! God is my salvation. I shall trust and be in no dread; for Jah Jehovah is my strength and my might, and he came to be the salvation of me.” (See also Isaiah 26:4.) Thus, some 200 years before Israel’s release from Babylonish captivity, Jah Jehovah through his prophet Isaiah was giving assurance that he was their mighty Savior. That captivity was to last from 607 to 537 B.C.E. Isaiah also wrote: “I, Jehovah, am doing everything, . . . the One saying of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd, and all that I delight in he will completely carry out’; even in my saying of Jerusalem, ‘She will be rebuilt,’ and of the temple, ‘You will have your foundation laid.’” Who was this Cyrus? Remarkably, he proved to be King Cyrus of Persia, who conquered Babylon in 539 B.C.E.—Isaiah 44:24, 28.
3 True to Jehovah’s words recorded by Isaiah, Cyrus issued to captive Israel the decree: “Whoever there is among you of all his people, may his God prove to be with him. So let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of Jehovah the God of Israel—he is the true God—which was in Jerusalem.” A supremely happy Jewish remnant along with the non-Israelite Nethinim and the sons of the servants of Solomon returned to Jerusalem. They arrived in time to celebrate the Festival of Booths in 537 B.C.E. and make sacrifices to Jehovah at his altar. The next year, in the second month, they laid the foundation of the second temple, amid loud shouts of joy and praise to Jehovah.—Ezra 1:1-4; 2:1, 2, 43, 55; 3:1-6, 8, 10-13.
4 Jehovah’s restoration prophecy was to be gloriously fulfilled in Israel: “The wilderness and the waterless region will exult, and the desert plain will be joyful and blossom as the saffron. . . . There will be those who will see the glory of Jehovah, the splendor of our God.” “With rejoicing you people will go forth, and with peace you will be brought in. The mountains and the hills themselves will become cheerful before you with a joyful outcry . . . And it must become for Jehovah something famous, a sign to time indefinite that will not be cut off.”—Isaiah 35:1, 2; 55:12, 13.
5. Why was Israel’s joy short-lived?
5 However, that joy was short-lived. Neighboring peoples sought an interfaith alliance for building the temple. The Jews at first stood their ground, declaring: “You have nothing to do with us in building a house to our God, for we ourselves shall together build to Jehovah the God of Israel, just as King Cyrus the king of Persia has commanded us.” Those neighbors now became bitter opposers. They “were continually weakening the hands of the people of Judah and disheartening them from building.” They also misrepresented the situation to Cyrus’ successor, Artaxerxes, who issued a ban on the temple building. (Ezra 4:1-24) For 17 years the work lapsed. Unhappily, the Jews fell into a materialistic way of life during that time.
“Jehovah of Armies” Speaks
6. (a) How did Jehovah respond to the situation in Israel? (b) Why is the apparent meaning of Haggai’s name appropriate?
6 Even so, Jehovah displayed ‘his strength and his might’ in Israel’s behalf by sending prophets, notably Haggai and Zechariah, to awaken the Jews to their responsibilities. Haggai’s name has a festal connection, for it appears to mean “Born on a Festival.” Appropriately, he began to prophesy on the first day of the month of the Festival of Booths, at which time the Jews were required to “become nothing but joyful.” (Deuteronomy 16:15) Through Haggai, Jehovah delivered four messages over a period of 112 days.—Haggai 1:1; 2:1, 10, 20.
7. How should Haggai’s opening words encourage us?
7 Introducing his prophecy, Haggai said: “This is what Jehovah of armies has said.” (Haggai 1:2a) Who might those “armies” be? They are Jehovah’s angelic hosts, sometimes referred to in the Bible as military forces. (Job 1:6; 2:1; Psalm 103:20, 21; Matthew 26:53) Does it not encourage us today that the Sovereign Lord Jehovah himself is using these invincible celestial forces to direct our work of restoring true worship in the earth?—Compare 2 Kings 6:15-17.
8. What outlook had affected Israel, and with what result?
8 What was the content of Haggai’s first message? The people had said: “The time has not come, the time of the house of Jehovah, for it to be built.” No longer was temple construction, representing the restoration of divine worship, their first concern. They had turned to building palatial homes for themselves. A materialistic outlook had diminished their enthusiasm for Jehovah’s worship. As a result, his blessing had been removed. Their fields were no longer fruitful, and they lacked clothing for the harsh wintertime. Their income had become meager, and it was as though they were putting money in a bag full of holes.—Haggai 1:2b-6.
9. What strong, upbuilding admonition did Jehovah provide?
9 Twice, Jehovah gave the strong admonition: “Set your heart upon your ways.” Evidently, Zerubbabel, the governor of Jerusalem, and high priest Joshuab responded and valiantly encouraged all the people “to listen to the voice of Jehovah their God, and to the words of Haggai the prophet, as Jehovah their God had sent him; and the people began to fear because of Jehovah.” Moreover, “Haggai the messenger of Jehovah went on to say to the people according to the messenger’s commission from Jehovah, saying: ‘“I am with you people,” is the utterance of Jehovah.’”—Haggai 1:5, 7-14.
10. How did Jehovah use his power in Israel’s behalf?
10 Some old-timers in Jerusalem might have reckoned that the glory of the rebuilt temple would be “nothing” in comparison with that of the former temple. However, about 51 days later, Jehovah moved Haggai to declare a second message. He proclaimed: “‘Be strong, O Zerubbabel,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘and be strong, O Joshua the son of Jehozadak the high priest. And be strong, all you people of the land,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘and work. For I am with you people,’ is the utterance of Jehovah of armies. . . . ‘Do not be afraid.’” Jehovah, who in due course would use his almighty power to ‘rock heaven and earth,’ saw to it that all opposition, even an imperial ban, was overcome. Within five years the temple building was brought to grand success.—Haggai 2:3-6.
11. How did God fill the second temple with ‘greater glory’?
11 A remarkable promise was then fulfilled: “‘The desirable things of all the nations must come in; and I will fill this house with glory,’ Jehovah of armies has said.” (Haggai 2:7) Those “desirable things” proved to be non-Israelites who came to worship at that temple, as it reflected the glory of his majestic presence. How did this rebuilt temple compare with that constructed in Solomon’s day? God’s prophet declared: “‘Greater will the glory of this later house become than that of the former,’ Jehovah of armies has said.” (Haggai 2:9) In the initial fulfillment of the prophecy, the rebuilt temple remained longer than the first house. It was still standing when Messiah appeared in 29 C.E. Further, before his apostate enemies had him murdered in 33 C.E., Messiah himself brought it glory when he preached truth there.
12. What purpose did the first two temples serve?
12 The first and second temples in Jerusalem served a vital purpose in foreshadowing important features of Messiah’s priestly service and in keeping Jehovah’s pure worship alive in the earth until Messiah’s actual appearance.—Hebrews 10:1.
The Glorious Spiritual Temple
13. (a) What events with regard to the spiritual temple took place from 29 to 33 C.E.? (b) What essential role did Jesus’ ransom sacrifice play in these developments?
13 Does Haggai’s restoration prophecy have special meaning for later times? It certainly does! The rebuilt temple in Jerusalem became the focus of all true worship on earth. But it prefigured a far more glorious spiritual temple. This began to function in 29 C.E. when, at Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River, Jehovah anointed Jesus as High Priest, holy spirit descending upon him like a dove. (Matthew 3:16) After Jesus had completed his earthly ministry in sacrificial death, he was resurrected to heaven, pictured by the Most Holy of the temple, and there he presented to Jehovah the merit of his sacrifice. This served as a ransom, covering the sins of his disciples, and opened the way for anointing them, on the day of Pentecost 33 C.E., as underpriests in Jehovah’s spiritual temple. Their faithful ministry to the death in the temple courtyard on earth would lead to a future heavenly resurrection, for continued priestly service.
14. (a) What joy accompanied the zealous activity of the early Christian congregation? (b) Why was this rejoicing short-lived?
14 Thousands of repentant Jews—and later Gentiles—flocked to that Christian congregation and shared in declaring the good news of God’s coming Kingdom rule over earth. After some 30 years, the apostle Paul could state that the good news had been preached “in all creation that is under heaven.” (Colossians 1:23) But following the death of the apostles, a great apostasy set in, and the light of truth began to flicker. Genuine Christianity was overshadowed by Christendom’s sectarianism, based on pagan teachings and philosophies.—Acts 20:29, 30.
15, 16. (a) How was prophecy fulfilled in 1914? (b) What ingathering marked the late 19th and early 20th centuries?
15 Centuries passed. Then in the 1870’s, a group of sincere Christians began to engage in a penetrating study of the Bible. From Scripture, they were able to pinpoint the year 1914 as marking the conclusion of “the appointed times of the nations.” It was then that seven symbolic “times” (2,520 years of beastlike human rule) ended with the heavenly enthronement of Christ Jesus—the One having “the legal right” as earth’s Messianic King. (Luke 21:24; Daniel 4:25; Ezekiel 21:26, 27) Particularly from 1919 onward, these Bible Students, known today as Jehovah’s Witnesses, have been engaged in vigorously spreading throughout the earth the good news of the incoming Kingdom. It was in 1919 that a few thousand of these answered the call to action that was issued at the convention in Cedar Point, Ohio, U.S.A. They increased in number down to the year 1935 when 56,153 reported field service. In that year, 52,465 had partaken of the emblems of bread and wine at the annual Memorial of Jesus’ death, thus symbolizing their hope of becoming priests with Christ Jesus in the heavenly part of Jehovah’s great spiritual temple. They are to serve with him also as associate kings in his Messianic Kingdom.—Luke 22:29, 30; Romans 8:15-17.
16 However, Revelation 7:4-8 and Re 14:1-4 show that the total number of these anointed Christians is limited to 144,000, many of whom were gathered in during the first century before the great apostasy set in. From the end of the 19th century and on into the 20th, Jehovah has been completing the gathering of this group who are cleansed by the water of his Word, declared righteous through faith in Jesus’ atoning sacrifice, and finally sealed as anointed Christians to make up the full number of 144,000.
17 What follows when the entire number of anointed ones has been chosen? In 1935, at a landmark convention in Washington, D.C., U.S.A., it was made known that the “great crowd” of Revelation 7:9-17 was a group to be recognized “after” the 144,000 and whose destiny is everlasting life in a paradise earth. After clearly identifying the anointed Jesus, John the Baptizer, whose resurrection will be on earth as one of the “other sheep,” said of Messiah: “That one must go on increasing, but I must go on decreasing.” (John 1:29; 3:30; 10:16; Matthew 11:11) John the Baptizer’s work of preparing disciples for Messiah was ending as Jesus then took over the selection of an increasing number who would be among the 144,000. In the 1930’s the reverse took place. A decreasing number were “called and chosen” to be among the 144,000 whereas a tremendous increase began in the number of the “great crowd” of “other sheep.” This great crowd continues to multiply as the world’s wicked system nears its end at Armageddon.—Revelation 17:14b.
18. (a) Why can we confidently expect that “millions now living will never die”? (b) Why should we zealously heed Haggai 2:4?
18 In the early 1920’s, a featured public talk presented by Jehovah’s Witnesses was entitled “Millions Now Living Will Never Die.” This may have reflected overoptimism at that time. But today that statement can be made with full confidence. Both the increasing light on Bible prophecy and the anarchy of this dying world cry out that the end of Satan’s system is very, very near! The Memorial report for 1996 shows that 12,921,933 attended, of whom only 8,757 (.068 percent) indicated their heavenly hope by partaking of the emblems. The restoration of true worship nears completion. But let us never slack the hand in that work. Yes, Haggai 2:4 states: “‘Be strong, all you people of the land,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘and work. For I am with you people,’ is the utterance of Jehovah of armies.” May we be determined that no strains of materialism or worldliness will ever dampen our zeal for Jehovah’s work!—1 John 2:15-17.
19. How may we share in the fulfillment of Haggai 2:6, 7?
19 Joyous is our privilege of sharing in the modern-day fulfillment of Haggai 2:6, 7: “This is what Jehovah of armies has said, ‘Yet once—it is a little while—and I am rocking the heavens and the earth and the sea and the dry ground. And I will rock all the nations, and the desirable things of all the nations must come in; and I will fill this house with glory,’ Jehovah of armies has said.” Greed, corruption, and hatred are running rampant throughout this 20th-century world. It is indeed in its last days, and Jehovah has already begun to “rock” it by having his Witnesses ‘proclaim his day of vengeance.’ (Isaiah 61:2) This preliminary rocking will climax with the world’s destruction at Armageddon, but before that time, Jehovah is drawing out for his service “the desirable things of all the nations”—the meek, sheeplike people of earth. (John 6:44) This “great crowd” now ‘renders sacred service’ in the earthly courtyard of his house of worship.—Revelation 7:9, 15.
20. Where is the most precious treasure to be found?
20 Service in Jehovah’s spiritual temple brings gain more precious than any material treasure. (Proverbs 2:1-6; 3:13, 14; Matthew 6:19-21) Moreover, Haggai 2:9 states: “‘Greater will the glory of this later house become than that of the former,’ Jehovah of armies has said. ‘And in this place I shall give peace,’ is the utterance of Jehovah of armies.” What do these words mean for us today? Our next article will tell.
b Jeshua in Ezra and other Bible books.
Questions for Review
◻ What example of the prophets should we follow with regard to Jehovah’s name?
◻ What encouragement do we gather from Jehovah’s powerful message to restored Israel?
◻ What glorious spiritual temple operates today?
◻ What ingatherings have proceeded in order during the 19th and 20th centuries, with what grand prospect in view?
[Pictures on page 7]
Heavenly armies of Jehovah direct and sustain his Witnesses on earth