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The book of Zechariah might be called the Revelation of the Hebrew Scriptures. There are many similarities between the two prophetic books. For one, both were written after Jerusalem was destroyed; yet, they point forward to God renewing “Jerusalem” and to another judgment of God’s house concurrent with the coming of Christ.
In the second chapter Zechariah sees a man with a measuring line who tells the prophet he is going to get the dimensions of Jerusalem. In contrast, the 11th chapter of Revelation depicts John measuring the temple, but he is told by the angel not to measure the holy city because it is destined to be trampled by the nations for 42 months.
Another obvious relationship is found in the same 11th chapter of Revelation in the description of the two witnesses. They are depicted as being “symbolized by the two olive trees and the two lampstands and are standing before the Lord of the earth.” The footnote takes the reader to the fourth chapter of Zechariah where the prophet envisioned a lampstand with olive trees on either side and in explanation the angel explained to the prophet: “These are the two anointed ones who are standing alongside the Lord of the whole earth.” —Zech 4:14
Jehovah’s Witnesses might call to mind that the Greek word “parousia” literally means to come alongside. So, if Jesus comes alongside his anointed brothers, they in turn can be said to stand alongside him. And that is the significance of the two anointed witnesses who are standing alongside the Lord of the whole earth.
Since the two witnesses are clearly on earth —being dressed in sackcloth and persecuted by Satan’s earthly wild beast during the 42 month period —their standing alongside the Lord does not symbolize their literally being in heaven. However, their place in heaven is assured —seeing that Zechariah depicts them as being fixtures in heaven (olive trees next to the lampstand). That exalted position can only come about after the final sealing —when the chosen ones are confirmed and approved for the Kingdom.
Another overlap of the two books is evident in the fact that both Zechariah and Revelation depict symbolic trees being consumed by fire. Zechariah 11:1-2 states: “Open your doors, O Lebanon, so that a fire may consume your cedars. Wail, you juniper, for the cedar has fallen; the majestic trees have been destroyed! Wail, you oaks of Bashan, for the dense forest has come down!” Whereas, Revelation 8:7 states: “The first one blew his trumpet. And there was hail and fire mingled with blood, and it was hurled to the earth; and a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green vegetation was burned up.”
What do the figurative trees represent? And are they the same in both prophecies? The prophecy of Zechariah holds the key to unlock the meaning. It indicates that the cedars symbolize the shepherds of Jehovah’s flock. The next verses in context reveal that. Zechariah 11:3-4 state: “Listen! The wailing of shepherds, for their majesty has been devastated. Listen! The roaring of young lions, for the dense thickets along the Jordan have been destroyed. This is what Jehovah my God says, ‘Shepherd the flock meant for the slaughter, whose buyers slaughtered them and are not held guilty. And those who sell them say, “May Jehovah be praised, for I will become rich.” And their shepherds have no compassion for them.’”
(The fulfillment of this aspect of Zechariah is discussed in greater detail in the chapter on Revelation in Jehovah Has Become King and in connection with the Man of Lawlessness.)
As already stated, Zechariah was written after Babylon had destroyed Jerusalem. In fact, the prophet was used by Jehovah to encourage the repatriated Jews to finish rebuilding the temple. Further on in the 11th chapter Zechariah acts out the part of a useless shepherd —receiving his wage of 30 pieces of silver, which he throws into the treasury of the house of Jehovah. This prophecy was realized in Judas, who betrayed Jesus for 30 silver pieces and also throw the blood money into the temple and went off and hanged himself.
There is, however, no reason to suppose the Jewish scribes and Pharisees were the shepherds who sold the flock for their own enrichment. When Jesus came as the Shepherd he began leading God’s sheep out to greener pastures so-to-speak; so the Jewish religious leaders no longer had responsibility over the sheep. Furthermore, there is no reason to suppose that the apostles and other Christian overseers came under God’s adverse judgment in the first century.
In view of the fact that all the prophets point to the coming of Christ it must be those Christian elders who are appointed to feed and protect the master’s sheep and who will answer to the master when he unexpectedly comes to inspect his slaves, who are due to be devastated by the fire of the Lord’s day. That is confirmed by the fact that the man of lawlessness is described as the son of destruction, as was Jesus’ betrayer, whom Zechariah pantomimed when he asked for his wage to be paid him. And the man of lawlessness is, indeed on hand when Christ returns, as is the evil slave —described in the same 11th chapter of Zechariah as the useless shepherd.
After seeing the vision of the two olive trees standing alongside the Lord of all the earth Zechariah next sees an enormous, flying scroll, at which point the angel explained: “This is the curse that is going out over the face of all the earth, because everyone who steals, as written on its one side, has gone unpunished; and everyone who makes a sworn oath, as written on its other side, has gone unpunished. ‘I have sent it out,’ declares Jehovah of armies, ‘and it will enter into the house of the thief and into the house of the one who makes a false oath in my name; and it will remain inside that house and consume it and its timbers and its stones.’”
Notice that the curse goes out “over the face of all the earth.” It is not a local phenomenon isolated to Israel —it is global. However, this judgment is not against all mankind. Take note of the fact that the curse comes upon those who make “a false oath in my name” —which is to say, in the name of Jehovah.
So, the flying scroll symbolizes Jehovah’s judgments, to be executed by the Lord of the whole earth, whom Zechariah was introduced to in the previous vision. Since the judgment begins with the house of God, as the apostle Peter revealed (1 Peter 4:17) and as is confirmed in the Hebrew prophecies such as Ezekiel 9:6, where the destroyer angels are commanded to commence their work starting in the very sanctuary of Jehovah God, the curse inscribed on the flying scroll represents the judgments that Christ will impose upon those who have proven false to their calling —false to their oath at baptism to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.
This should not be considered something peculiar to Zechariah. Again, consider the symbolism in Revelation, where Jesus is depicted as having a long sword extending out of his mouth. What does that picture? It represents Christ’s authority to pronounce Jehovah’s judgments upon those who prove false to their calling as anointed Christians —the same as the flying scroll. Consider what the spirit says to the symbolic Pergamum congregation in this regard: “So repent. If you do not, I am coming to you quickly, and I will war against them with the long sword of my mouth.”
When Jesus was on earth he frequently corrected, reproved and occasionally sternly rebuked his disciples. However, he did not war against them with the long sword of his mouth. While Jesus does not speak to us directly, the spirit does, as Paul said in the second chapter of Romans when he said the kindly quality of God is trying to lead us to repentance. As long as we are responsive to that leading there is hope. But when the Lord of the whole earth comes to commence the judgment those Christians who have not repented of their wickedness will face the long sword of Jesus’ mouth. He will war against them and they will not survive the war.
As regards the curse of the flying scroll entering into the house of the thief, it should be recognized that there are many forms of thievery. The Watchtower implies that God’s condemnation applies to petty pilferers, as is illustrated by the young lady shoplifting a pair of sunglasses. But it is well to keep in mind that thievery was the original sin of Adam and Eve. They took something that belonged to God. Surely, stealing from God is most egregious. This particular crime was repeated by the Israelite named Achan, when he took a bar of gold that Jehovah had decreed should be devoted to destruction. Achan’s sin against God brought defeat and humiliation upon the whole nation.
In the case of Adam and Eve and Achan it was God who declared his ownership of the coveted thing; however, what about when humans declare that something belongs to God? I am speaking specifically in regards to something dedicated to God, such as kingdom halls, assembly halls and other facilities. Does God recognize things dedicated to him in solemn ceremony? He most certainly does. When Solomon built the first temple in Jerusalem the structure was dedicated to Jehovah in an impressive ceremony. And in recognition of his acceptance of their offering to him, God’s presence was manifested in the inner sanctum of the temple when a cloud mass enveloped it —forcing the priests to temporarily vacate the premise.
In modern times Jehovah’s Witnesses have built thousands of kingdom halls and dozens of assembly halls and branch offices all around the earth, all of which were dedicated to Jehovah. Perhaps the ceremonies were not as lavish as what Solomon conducted, but does God not also accept ownership of the thing dedicated to him? If not, what is the point of dedicating something to him? Since Jehovah expects us to honor our oaths, such as marriage vows, baptismal vows, business agreements and the like, it is a serious sin against God when we break our oath. That being true, how must God view it when something dedicated to him is sold off to some secular buyer? That raises an important question. Can something dedicated to God be un-dedicated and sold as an ordinary thing? Wouldn’t God have to extend permission to repurpose something publicly devoted to him? And since God has not given any indication that he has relinquished ownership of the things dedicated to him, those selling what belongs to God are guilty of stealing from God.
In the world we frequently hear of shady dealers who sell non-existent shares of companies and other schemes to swindle and defraud. When found out usually those con men go to prison or pay some penalty for their larceny. But God does not directly punish them.
Is it such a trivial thing for the Watchtower to enlist volunteers, who themselves are personally dedicated to Jehovah via baptism, to construct a facility to be used to advance the Kingdom ministry —dedicating the property to Jehovah’s exclusive use —and then turn around and hock it off to the highest bidder? If something is devoted to God for his special use, does that not make it sacred? And ought something made sacred be parceled as common property and profited from due to the increased values in real estate?
While the men running the Watchtower have not violated human law, they most certainly have overstepped the terms of the covenant with God. Therefore, we may expect the flying scroll of Jehovah’s judgments to enter into Bethel —to lodge in the the house of God — consuming its very structure, its timbers and stones.
Since the Watchtower has made no distinction between what is holy and what is ordinary, and they have turned what they themselves declare to be Jehovah’s earthly organization into a real estate agency and profit-churning hedge fund, Jehovah’s curse will inevitably come upon the organization that treats him with such contempt. To date the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses have gone unpunished –just as stated in the flying scroll. That will not always be the case. Keep in mind, Jesus said even the faithful slave will be punished by a few lashes of the master’s whip, while the evil slave will be punished with the greatest severity.
While the Watchtower would have you believe the flying scroll of God’s denunciation applies to shoplifters whose petty crimes might bring reproach upon the name of God, the Governing Body inadvertently contradict their own teaching that Christ has already come and the judgment of God’s people is a done deal. Obviously that is not the case.
Ironically, the judgments against the houses of thieves and oath-breakers will impact the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses in a most profound way in the near future, for it is they who have reproached the name of Jehovah far more than anyone else on the face of the entire earth.