This article has been updated from the original version published in January, 2012
Jehovah’s counsel against Tyre in the 23rd chapter of Isaiah is immediately followed by the execution of his judgments against his own people and the very city where Jehovah had placed his holy name. The prophecy of Ezekiel follows the very same pattern, in that, Jehovah’s appointed watchman first decrees the downfall of Tyre and Egypt and then he is commanded to speak God’s judgments against the shepherds of Israel. And in that setting the prophet also situates the coming of “David” – a prophetic reference to the Christ.
As has been already been detailed in Jehovah Himself Has Become King, Tyre and Egypt foreshadow the London-centered global empire and the United States of America, respectively. What, though, does the doomed city of Jerusalem foreshadow in the grand fulfillment? And to be certain, the prophecy in the 24th chapter of Isaiah speaks to a much grander event than merely the fall of Jerusalem 2,500 centuries ago. That is apparent from the obvious cryptic, pre-Revelation reference to the judgment of the demonic kings and their earthly counterparts, and their being locked in a prison for 1,000 years and the ultimate fulfillment of God’s purpose to rule in the midst of 144,000 kings upon heavenly Mount Zion.
The last span of verses in Isaiah 24 read: “And it must occur in that day that Jehovah will turn his attention upon the army of the height in the height, and upon the kings of the ground upon the ground. And they will certainly be gathered with a gathering as of prisoners into the pit, and be shut up in the dungeon; and after an abundance of days they will be given attention. And the full moon has become abashed, and the glowing sun has become ashamed, for Jehovah of armies has become king in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem and in front of his elderly men with glory.”
But first, before considering the meaning of the fall of Jerusalem, What importance does the Watchtower Society attach to this prophecy? Evidently very little, considering the fact that Bethel does not ascribe any modern counterpart to “Jerusalem” in their commentary on this portion of Isaiah. Instead, they focus merely on the historical fulfillment. Yet, they do acknowledge that the “army of the height in the height” may refer to the army of demons.
But it is worth noting that the Bethel “prophet class” makes the following statement in the concluding paragraphs of the 20th chapter:
This part of Isaiah’s prophecy thus left the Jews with a wonderful assurance. In Jehovah’s due time, he would bring about the fall of ancient Babylon and restore the Jews to their homeland. In 537 B.C.E., when he demonstrates his power and sovereignty in this way in behalf of his people, it could truly be said to them: “Your God has become king!” In modern times, Jehovah ‘became king’ in 1914 when he installed Jesus Christ as King in His heavenly Kingdom. He also ‘became king’ in 1919 when he demonstrated the power of his kingship by liberating spiritual Israel from bondage to Babylon the Great. Jehovah will again “become king” when he brings an end to Babylon the Great and the rest of this wicked system of things.
It ought to be evident to any reasonable person with a working knowledge of biblical history that the leadership of the Watchtower is hopelessly lost when it comes to prophetic interpretation. They claim that the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon prefigures the destruction of Christendom and all of Babylon the Great during the great tribulation; but the release of the Jews from captivity to Babylon, which obviously comes after the desolation, found a modern fulfillment back in 1919 when eight Watchtower officials got out of prison on bail and held a convention. That is clearly a contrived interpretation.
Worse, the Watchtower trivializes the grand act of Jehovah becoming King by making it commonplace. How many times does Jehovah become King? At least three according to the Watchtower. The great irony is —when Jehovah ultimately asserts his kingship through “the kingdom of the Son of his love,” those “stupid prophets” in the midst of Jehovah’s people presently will be abashed and shamed for having published a lying vision in the name of Jehovah.
Now the prophecy: “Look! Jehovah is emptying the land and laying it waste, and he has twisted the face of it and scattered its inhabitants. And it must come to be the same for the people as for the priest; the same for the servant as for his master; the same for the maidservant as for her mistress; the same for the buyer as for the seller; the same for the lender as for the borrower; the same for the interest taker as for the one paying the interest. Without fail the land will be emptied, and without fail it will be plundered, for Jehovah himself has spoken this word. The land has gone to mourning, has faded away. The productive land has withered, has faded away. The high ones of the people of the land have withered. And the very land has been polluted under its inhabitants, for they have bypassed the laws, changed the regulation, broken the indefinitely lasting covenant. That is why the curse itself has eaten up the land, and those inhabiting it are held guilty. That is why the inhabitants of the land have decreased in number, and very few mortal men have remained over.”
It has been a long time in coming —the great financial crash, that is. It was staved off in 2008 by a massive, multi-trillion-dollar bailout of the Wall Street banks. As of September 2019, the collapse began anew and was met by the Federal Reserve with hundreds of billions in overnight repo loans. Then came the Covid crises and trillions more were injected to forestall the inevitable.
The inevitability of that crash is driving the financial oligarchy to orchestrate the conditions to detonate world war so as to prevent Russia and China from stepping into the vacuum created by the intended collapse of London/Wall Street, Trans-Atlantic system.
We may anticipate that they will ultimately be “successful” in destroying the last vestiges of national sovereignty and imposing upon mankind a totalitarian world government –an Orwellian nightmare to be sure. In that setting, in the heat of war, martial law brought on in the wake of economic collapse, inevitable food shortages, and more manmade pestilences, Jehovah will enter into judgment with his covenant-breaking people.
The “land” that is destined to be emptied and laid waste is the spiritual estate of Jehovah’s Witnesses —their presumed, unassailable, inviolable “spiritual paradise.”
In confirmation of that interpretation is Jesus’ own prophecy: “Therefore, when you catch sight of the disgusting thing that causes desolation, as spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in a holy place, (let the reader use discernment,) then let those in Judea begin fleeing to the mountains. Let the man on the housetop not come down to take the goods out of his house; and let the man in the field not return to the house to pick up his outer garment. Woe to the pregnant women and those suckling a baby in those days! Keep praying that your flight may not occur in wintertime, nor on the sabbath day; for then there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again. In fact, unless those days were cut short, no flesh would be saved; but on account of the chosen ones those days will be cut short.”
Jesus gave explicit instructions to “those in Judea.” Jesus was himself a Judean. And Jerusalem was located in the territory of Judah. And, of course, the holy temple was in Jerusalem too. But since Jesus was ultimately prophesying regarding the conclusion of the entire system of things and a great tribulation unlike any previous cataclysmic event, it is evident that Judea and the holy place represent that which is in connection with Christ’s congregation; otherwise designated as “Jehovah’s visible organization.”
Contrary to the Watchtower’s insistence that the holy place symbolizes the vast conglomeration of denominations, sects and cults making up Christendom, Jesus indicated that the chosen ones would be directly impacted by the desolation of the holy place. Since Jehovah’s Witnesses pride themselves on being no part of Christendom, why would it be necessary for them to “flee to the mountains” in advance of the desolation of the holy place? Why did Christ exhort his followers to pray that their flight would not occur in wintertime or on the sabbath?
Jesus himself offered a hint to help us discern the meaning of his prophecy by directing the discerning reader to the prophecy of Daniel. These matters have been presented at length on this website. Let the Reader Use Discernment and What is the Great Tribulation and the Holy Place?
Here is an excerpt from one of the above articles:
Tragically, few of Jehovah’s Witnesses realize just how convoluted the Society’s prophetic interpretations are. For example, the Watchtower teaches that the king of the north profaned the sanctuary and removed the constant feature when Adolf Hitler and the Fascists persecuted Jehovah’s Witnesses. Contradictorily, the Watchtower also teaches that the king of fierce countenance profaned the sanctuary and removed the constant feature when the Anglo-American king persecuted Jehovah’s Witnesses during the Second World War. Furthermore, the 12th chapter of Daniel also refers to the putting in place of the disgusting thing and the removal of the constant feature, which the Society applies to 1918 and the creation of the League of Nations.
So, three prophecies that essentially foretell the exact same thing are interpreted to have been fulfilled in three different ways —all in the past! And yet in spite of applying the prophecies of Daniel regarding the holy place to the persecutions of the International Bible Students and Jehovah’s Witnesses, albeit in three different ways, the Watchtower steadfastly insists that the holy place Jesus referred to, which is destined to be desolated by the disgusting thing of Daniel’s prophecy, represents Christendom! Incredible! No wonder Jesus advised the reader to use discernment. Could the Watchtower be any less discerning in these vital matters?
In view of the Watchtower’s tortured interpretation of prophecy, it is actually an act of discernment on their part to have refrained from interpreting the portion of Isaiah under consideration here. But their blindness and dishonesty are what necessitates God’s intervention. So it is, “it must come to be the same for the people as for the priest” – meaning that both the chosen ones and the other sheep will suffer. “The same for the servant as for his master” – Governing Body members and zone, branch, district and circuit overseers, along with pioneers and publishers will come under Jehovah’s withering denunciation – none will be exempt! Those looked upon as towering pillars of spiritual strength and self-proclaimed “big trees of righteousness,” will wilt –“The high ones of the people of the land have withered.”
The prophecy of Isaiah and Joel bear remarkable similarities. For example, as quoted above, Isaiah states: “The land has gone to mourning, has faded away. The productive land has withered, has faded away.” Joel likewise foretold: “Grain offering and drink offering have been cut off from the house of Jehovah; the priests, the ministers of Jehovah, have mourned. The field has been despoiled, the ground has gone to mourning; for the grain has been despoiled, the new wine has been dried up, the oil has faded away. Farmers have felt shame; vinedressers have howled, on account of wheat and on account of barley; for the harvest of the field has perished. The vine itself has shown dryness, and even the fig tree has faded away. As for the pomegranate tree, also the palm tree and the apple tree, all the trees of the field, they have dried up; for exultation has gone ashamed away from the sons of mankind.”
Until quite recently the Watchtower had made the absurd claim that the priests and ministers of the house of Jehovah “your God” were the Jehovah-hating clergy of Christendom, who were supposedly howling in agony, begging God for relief from the tormenting denunciation by Jehovah’s Witnesses and the despoiling of their “fertile fields of operation”! Now, though, the Watchtower claims the locust onslaught has no modern fulfillment.
Isaiah reveals that those inhabiting the “land” are held guilty. Joel similarly states: “Also, the droves of the sheep have been the ones made to bear guilt.”
As the Watchtower is aware, God deals with one organization. That is why God speaks to a singular individual, such as “Israel,” or “Jacob,” or “my servant” – singular. And as Jehovah’s Witnesses are also aware, an entire nation can suffer God’s displeasure for the sins of the few, particularly their leaders. As an example, when King David was over-reached by Satan and ordered a census to be taken God punished the entire nation —striking it with a plague.
“THEY HAVE BYPASSED THE LAWS”
The reason God holds his nation guilty is as stated above: “And the very land has been polluted under its inhabitants, for they have bypassed the laws, changed the regulation, broken the indefinitely lasting covenant.”
The laws, regulations and covenant are not those handed down from Moses. Paul explained how the Law covenant had become obsolete after Christ fulfilled it and it was near to vanishing away entirely, which of course, it did when the temple and priesthood were destroyed by the “disgusting thing.” How then could the now-obsolete Mosaic covenant be considered “the indefinitely lasting covenant”? It could not. The everlasting covenant is the new covenant Christ instituted. And when Christ comes to his Father’s temple he will find that those who have been entrusted as keepers of the covenant will have “bypassed the laws, changed the regulation” and broken the covenant.
Consider one instance: One of the regulations of the new covenant is that Christians, especially elders, look out for the welfare of the weak and vulnerable – the proverbial “orphans and widows.” It is considered the only form of true worship, that, and keeping unspotted by the world. But, what accounting shall the leadership of the Watchtower make before Christ when called to answer for the thousands of children who have been sexually abused by predators within the congregations – predators that in many cases were shielded from punishment and exposure? Will the Society’s lawyers be able to bamboozle Jehovah or make an out of court settlement with the heavenly Judge to compensate for the rape of the innocents?
The everlasting covenant requires the holy nation to declare abroad the excellencies of God. Now, though, the Governing Body has declared it to be reckless and foolhardy to make any sort of public declaration. Although Jesus sacrificed his life in God’s service Jehovah’s Witnesses have been ordered to avoid all face-to-face contact even though the risk of death from Covid is minimal. Truly, they have by-passed the regulation.
“ALL REJOICING HAS PASSED AWAY”
Jehovah’s Witnesses have often declared themselves to be the “happiest people on earth.” If that is true then the contrast shall be all the greater. Again, echoing the prophecy of Joel, Isaiah 24:7-12 states: “The new wine has gone to mourning, the vine has withered, all those glad at heart have gone to sighing. The exultation of the tambourines has ceased, the noise of the highly elated ones has discontinued, the exultation of the harp has ceased. It is with no song that they drink wine; the intoxicating liquor becomes bitter to those drinking it. The deserted town has been broken down; every house has been shut up from entering. There is an outcry in the streets for want of wine. All rejoicing has passed away; the exultation of the land has departed. In the city an astonishing condition has been left behind; the gate has been crushed to a mere rubble heap.”
Isaiah’s prophecy harmonizes with what Jesus stated, namely: “Woe to you rich persons, because you are having your consolation in full. Woe to you who are filled up now, because you will go hungry. Woe, you who are laughing now, because you will mourn and weep.”
Besides being the happiest people on earth, the Watchtower regularly reminds Jehovah’s Witnesses that they are the best-fed people in the world, spiritually; receiving nothing but the finest, most nutritious spiritual food, served up regularly by a faithful and discreet chef. Since God made wine to make the heart of mortal man rejoice, the cutting off of wine in a spiritual sense means that the formal aspect of the worship of Jehovah’s Witnesses will be shut down. The sound of the kingdom melodies will cease. Since the Watchtower has already shut down virtually every kingdom hall and even sold off a substantial number as well, it is as if Jehovah will apply the old axiom: Use ’em or lose ’em.
The leadership of the organization has assumed that their vast building projects around the world will survive intact through the coming storm. Because of that assumption Jehovah’s Witnesses will be absolutely astonished when the very city-like headquarters of Jehovah’s visible organization is “left behind” – its protective gates “crushed to a mere rubble heap.”
“IN THE REGION OF LIGHT THEY MUST GLORIFY JEHOVAH”
“For thus it will become in the midst of the land, in among the peoples, like the beating off of the olive tree, like the gleaning when the grape gathering has come to an end. They themselves will raise their voice, they will cry out joyfully. In the superiority of Jehovah they will certainly cry out shrilly from the sea. That is why in the region of light they must glorify Jehovah, in the islands of the sea the name of Jehovah, the God of Israel. From the extremity of the land there are melodies that we have heard: ‘Decoration to the Righteous One!’”
At the time the city is left behind in an astonishing condition the harvest takes place. This is in complete harmony with what Christ foretold; namely, that in the context of abandoning the doomed city and holy place Christ will dispatch his angels who will gather the chosen ones from the four corners of the earth – or as Isaiah says, from the islands of the sea and “the extremity of the land.” The angels do not need any visible organization to assist them in their gathering work, nor does God need a publishing corporation to declare his message. “The region of light” is descriptive of those chosen ones who will see the glorious manifestation of Christ in his visible parousia. That is when the revealing of the sons of light will take place.
But the prophecy continues: “And it must occur that anyone fleeing from the sound of the dreaded thing will fall into the hollow, and anyone coming up from inside the hollow will be caught in the trap. For the very floodgates on high will actually be opened, and the foundations of the land will rock. The land has absolutely burst apart, the land has absolutely been shaken up, the land has absolutely been sent staggering. The land absolutely moves unsteadily like a drunken man, and it has swayed to and fro like a lookout hut. And its transgression has become heavy upon it, and it must fall, so that it will not rise up again.”
Further on in the prophecy of Isaiah God speaks of the “flood” that will wash away the refuge of a lie that the leaders of his people have foolishly tried to conceal themselves in, which will be considered in greater detail in forthcoming articles. Suffice to say, though, the Second Coming will wash away, once and for all, the artfully contrived false story that Jesus returned in 1914. And the publishing society that has peddled that lie for over a century now will absolutely be shaken up and burst apart, “so that it will not rise up again.”