This article is part two of a response to a question regarding the meaning of the 14th chapter of Zechariah. Please read part one before preceding.
Because of its important role in the outworking of God’s purpose Jerusalem and Zion are used as symbols. Jehovah’s Witnesses are blessed to understand this important truth. However, the Watchtower Society has perverted the actual message of prophecy associated with the symbol of Jerusalem. Consider Zechariah 14:1. It states: “Look! There is a day coming, belonging to Jehovah, and the spoil of you will certainly be apportioned out in the midst of you. And I shall certainly gather all the nations against Jerusalem for the war; and the city will actually be captured and the houses be pillaged, and the women themselves will be raped. And half of the city must go forth into the exile; but as for the remaining ones of the people, they will not be cut off from the city.”
It may come as a shock to some but the Watchtower’s commentary on Zechariah, published over 40-years ago, actually states that the “day belonging to Jehovah” began in 1914. In the publication Paradise Regained the Society’s prophet, Fredrick Franz, wrote:
That spectacular day, the day of Jehovah, has already come. Zechariah 14:3 foretells that Jehovah’s day is to be marked by his fighting, his warring; and so this remarkable day in which Jehovah will once again display himself to all the nations as a Warrior must be the one marked by the “war of the great day of God the Almighty.” The issue over which that war is to be fought is to be settled at the compelling world situation “that is called in Hebrew Har–Magedon.” Already we can see all the political nations being gathered by diabolical leadings to that location for the unavoidable confrontation. Consequently, that ‘day, belonging to Jehovah,’ began in the year 1914 C.E., at the end of the “appointed times of the[Gentile] nations” about October 4/5 of that year.
While on the one hand the Watchtower claims that the great day of Jehovah began in 1914, in recent years they have contradicted the position that “the “spectacular day” has already come and instead now point to the future coming of that great day – usually. But as is characteristic of the Society, they also still teach that the day of Jehovah began in 1914! It is a case of “double-faced divination” – as described in Ezekiel.
As a case in point, as recently as 2013 the February 15th, Watchtower carried an article entitled “Stay in Jehovah’s Valley of Protection,” which stated:
The 14th chapter of Zechariah opens with a reference to ‘a day belonging to Jehovah.’ What is this day? It is “the Lord’s day,” which began when “the kingdom of the world” became “the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ.” That day started in 1914 with the birth of the Messianic Kingdom in the heavens.
In the article cited the Watchtower implies that it is the valley of protection. That poses a direct affront to the actual kingdom of Christ.
Consider, now, as the foremost case of the Watchtower’s sophistry the fact, that, in Jesus’ own prophecy concerning his presence and the culmination of events is the desolation of Jerusalem by a disgusting thing. According to Jesus the end of Jerusalem will result in great hardship for true Christians – bringing woe upon pregnant women and those nursing a babe – “Keep praying that your flight may not occur in wintertime, nor on the sabbath day.”
Yet, as all of Jehovah’s Witnesses know, the Watchtower claims that that “Jerusalem” symbolizes Christendom. If that were true, though, why would it be vital for Christ’s followers to abruptly flee from the doomed city? Whether or not it will be necessary to physically flee is not the point. An honest assessment of Jesus’ words indicates that the “Jerusalem” destined for desolation represents that with which Christ’s followers are associated at the moment the disgusting thing begins standing where it ought not.
Interesting, too, as regards the man of lawlessness, Paul specifically warned Christians not to give heed to official sounding announcements that the parousia had begun and that the day of Jehovah is here. Paul wrote: “However, brothers, respecting the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we request of you not to be quickly shaken from your reason nor to be excited either through an inspired expression or through a verbal message or through a letter as though from us, to the effect that the day of Jehovah is here.”
Ironically, although the New World Translation committee has been heavily criticized for having inserted the name of Jehovah into the New Testament more than likely the expression “day of Jehovah” was the original expression used by the apostle due to the fact that the expression appears in numerous places throughout the Hebrew prophecies. And as demonstrated by their commentary on Zechariah regarding the day of Jehovah having begun in 1914, the Watchtower Society is unquestionably fulfilling Paul’s prophecy as the unique source of the “inspired expression” and verbal messages (convention talks) and letters (Watchtower articles) announcing “that the day of Jehovah is here.”
As the previous article noted God intends to set matters straight with those who are prophesying falsely in his name. But how is it that half of the symbolic city is destined for exile, while the remaining ones of the people will not be cut off from it?
This question goes to the very heart of what it means to be born again and the nature of the new creation. Presently Jehovah’s Witnesses have no comprehension of what the parousia and manifestation of Christ is really all about – including those who are part of the new creation. But, in a nutshell, the coming of Christ will result in a fiery purge of the faithless and wicked from Christ’s kingdom, which is called the harvest.
That event will bring a conclusion to God’s dealings with the Watchtower Society. It will have accomplished an important phase of God’s purpose, as did Jerusalem of old, and will subsequently be destroyed. The “half the city” that is destined to go into exile is the earthly part. But those who are born again and citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem will be welcomed into that organization. That is when the chosen ones will shine as brightly as the sun in the kingdom – even immediately prior to their resurrection into the heavens.
Hence, the “remaining ones” are not cutoff from the city – the heavenly city that is. At that point all of the 144,000 holy ones will be joined with Christ upon heavenly Mount Zion, as depicted in Revelation. And Zechariah confirms, saying: “And Jehovah my God will certainly come, all the holy ones being with him.”
The symbolism of God coming down to the Mount of Olives at Zechariah 14:4 is significant because Jesus ascended back to heaven from the Mount of Olives 40 days after he was resurrected. At that moment two angels told the astonished disciples that Jesus would return in like manner. So, the events outlined in Zechariah are depicting the return of Christ to defend God’s people.