In ancient Israel, the nation was to gather “in order that they may listen and in order that they may learn.” Jews in the first century had the custom of going to the synagogues to read from the Scriptures. This emphasis on meeting together continued with the formation of the Christian congregation, and it is still a major part of our worship. One important way in which we encourage one another is by having a share in our meetings. We can make a public expression of our faith by answering a printed question, by giving an application of a scripture, by relating a brief experience that illustrates the wisdom of following Bible principles, or in other ways. Surely you will agree that no matter how many years we have been attending meetings, it remains a source of encouragement to listen to the heartfelt comments made by our brothers and sisters—old and young.
Meeting with fellow believers has always been the central feature of the worship of Jehovah. Even though it was not part of the original arrangement, after the Jews returned to their homeland from exile in Babylon over the ensuing centuries synagogues sprang up throughout Palestine, so that when Jesus Christ walked the earth he regularly attended meetings in various synagogues. In fact, he even performed miracles during meetings at the synagogue.
With the aforementioned in mind, now consider the 74th Psalm, which states in part: “The enemy has devastated everything in the holy place. Your foes roared inside your meeting place. They have set up their own banners as signs there. They were like men wielding axes against a thick forest. They broke up all its engravings with axes and iron bars. They set your sanctuary on fire. They profaned the tabernacle bearing your name, casting it to the ground. They and their offspring have said in their hearts: ‘All the meeting places of God in the land must be burned.’”
The 74th Psalm was written before Babylon destroyed the sanctuary where Jehovah had placed his name. So, in that respect it is prophetic. But in view of the fact that other meeting places (synagogues) did not exist prior to the period of Jewish exile it is evident that the Psalm actually speaks to another occasion when the enemy will devastate a place holy to God.
Jesus, of course, spoke about the desolation of the holy place during the conclusion. And not only that, but Christ referred the reader specifically to the prophecy of Daniel for discernment. The 8th chapter of Daniel foretells that the holy place will be profaned and the sanctuary thrown down during the time of the end.
During the dark days ahead —after the demons are hurled down from heaven — we may expect kingdom halls to be ransacked, looted and burned down, likely led by mobs of demonized ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses seeking revenge.
The prayer of Asaph will aptly apply then: “Remember the enemy’s taunts, O Jehovah, how a foolish people treats your name with disrespect. Do not surrender the life of your turtledove to the wild beasts. Do not forget the life of your afflicted people forever.
Remember the covenant, for the dark places of the earth have become full of the haunts of violence. May the crushed one not turn away disappointed.
May the lowly and the poor praise your name. Rise up, O God, and plead your legal case. Remember how the foolish taunt you all day long. Do not forget what your foes are saying. The uproar of those who defy you is ascending constantly.” – Psalms 74