Jerusalem was not considered a great city such as ancient Babylon or Rome. It was not an important commercial center like Tyre once was. Jerusalem, though, had a long and rich history as the administrative capital of Israel and Judah and the religious center for all the Jews, no matter where on earth they may have resided.
Since David captured the Jebusite stronghold about a thousand years before Christ appeared and shortly afterward had the sacred ark of the covenant moved there, Jerusalem became the city where Jehovah chose to place his holy name. In fact, Isaiah 60:14 refers to Jerusalem as “the city of Jehovah.”
Significantly, Jerusalem was the birthplace of Christianity too; for it was on the day of Pentecost in the year 33 C.E. that holy spirit was poured out upon the small group of Jesus’ Jewish followers in an upper room of a dwelling in Jerusalem – thus inaugurating the Christian era. Afterward, the apostles and newly anointed Jews and proselytes preached regularly in the environs of the temple of the city of Jehovah. Also, Jerusalem was for a time the unofficial headquarters and base of operations for the apostles and older men who were directing the congregations. For that reason, Jerusalem is an appropriate symbol in prophecy for various aspects of Christ’s congregation and kingdom, particularly in relation to the Second Coming of the Messiah and the concluding harvest.
Although millions of people have been duped into believing that the modern state of Israel is the very centerpiece of Bible prophecy, Jehovah’s Witnesses realize that nuclear-armed Israel and the present-day city of Jerusalem, with its Islamic Dome of the Rock situated on, or near, the site of the demolished Jewish temple, does not factor into prophecy at all.
In actuality, the state of Israel was largely a creation and strategic asset of the British Empire. After the Treaty of Versailles brought an end to the First World War and the Ottoman Empire was dissolved, London stated their intentions to create a Palestinian state, in what is known as the Balfour Declaration. Then, after the Second World War, the modern state of Israel was established in 1947. Not to be overlooked, the ultra-wealthy Rothschild family – the banker of the bankers and monarchies of Europe – was also instrumental in the creation of the modern state of Israel.
In recent years an assortment of Elmer Gantry-type Bible hucksters – mostly associated with the so-called fundamentalist/evangelical movement – have become ardent advocates of what is known as Zionism. They espouse that it is the duty of every Christian to support the political state of Israel, whatever the cost – even if it leads to another world war.
(It would certainly suit the Devil’s purpose to stage an all-out war in the Middle East. And it is quite likely that Israel will detonate nuclear war in a preemptive attack on Iran, with the blessing and support of sorely misguided right-wing religious fanatics, who imagine they are hastening the day of their rapture.)
But the truth is, the ancient Jewish system of worship fulfilled God’s purpose in connection with it long ago: When it produced the Messiah to an expectant faithful few. Upon his final sojourn and entry into the holy city Jesus prophesied that the kingdom of God was going to be removed from the Jews and given to a nation producing its fruitage. That “nation” to which the kingdom was given is what Paul referred to as “the Israel of God” – the Christian congregation, which will ultimately be revealed from heaven as the New Jerusalem.
That the earthly city of Jerusalem was no longer the place where Jehovah’s name was to reside was unequivocally confirmed in the year 70 C.E. That is when the Roman armies under the command of General Titus utterly demolished the holy city and Herod’s temple. In that manner, the Jewish system of things concluded, as both Jesus and Paul had forewarned.
But just as the Jewish nation and Jerusalem had fulfilled God’s purpose and were subsequently made obsolete and were violently discarded, so too Christianity. It is also destined to fulfill God’s purpose in connection with it and come to an end.
“YOUNG CHILDREN, IT IS THE LAST HOUR”
In a noteworthy way Christianity did end shortly after the apostles died off; not suddenly, but gradually. Toward the end of his ministry the apostle John wrote of this future development, stating at I John 2:18-20: “Young children, it is the last hour, and, just as you have heard that antichrist is coming, even now there have come to be many antichrists; from which fact we gain the knowledge that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of our sort; for if they had been of our sort, they would have remained with us. But they went out that it might be shown up that not all are of our sort. And you have an anointing from the holy one; all of you have knowledge. I write you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie originates with the truth.”
Some ignorant persons imagine that John meant the world had entered its last hour some 2,000 years ago and have foolishly concluded that John was a false prophet. But the context of the apostle’s brief letter reveals otherwise. John was foretelling the coming of an antichrist. It was the “last hour” before his arrival. While the apostles were alive the many antichrists that had already infiltrated could not gain a lasting foothold in the congregations and so they were forced to go out from among them. For example, the original antichrist was Judas. He went out from among the apostles on the night of the last Passover when Christ dismissed him with the words: “What you are doing get done more quickly.”
Although we do not know how the situation resolved, Paul similarly, boldly exposed the prominent leaders of the Corinthian congregation as being false apostles and deceitful workers. Paul also named Hymenaeus and Philetus as apostates and handed them over to Satan to be disciplined.
But history shows that as the protective influence of the apostles and other older stalwarts began to wane in the second century wicked imposters began to dominate the congregations, and the truth was gradually supplanted by lies. The apostasy became complete in the fourth century when the Roman Emperor, Constantine, inserted himself as the ecclesiastical head of the corrupted Christian bishops. Christendom supplanted Christ. Thereafter the emperor of the dissolving Roman Empire became the Pontifex Maximus —the highest priest and king. The antichrist had come.
Over the centuries, up until the Protestant Reformation and the invention of the printing press, the Vatican fiercely opposed translating the Bible into the common languages spoken by Europeans, making it virtually impossible for anyone other than the privileged, Latin-literate hierarchy, to study the Scriptures.
Because “no lie originates with the truth” and all of God’s anointed sons must know the truth, as John stated above, the gradual introduction of what has become a massive body of doctrinal falsehoods and outright paganism into the place of Christ effectively brought an end to the anointing of the bride class that began in 33 C.E. So, the last hour was in reference to the anointing.
Down through the centuries apostate Christianity principally became centered in Constantinople (named after Constantine) and in Rome. The Roman branch, in particular, because it was associated with the seat of the Empire, became fabulously wealthy and powerful. It is understandable why the Watchtower Society applies the portion of Isaiah’s prophecy (below) to Christendom.
WHO ARE GOD’S PEOPLE NOW?
“For you have forsaken your people, the house of Jacob. For they have become full of what is from the East, and they are practicers of magic like the Philistines, and with the children of foreigners they abound. And their land is filled with silver and gold, and there is no limit to their treasures. And their land is filled with horses, and there is no limit to their chariots. And their land is filled with valueless gods. To the work of one’s hands they bow down, to that which one’s fingers have made. And earthling man bows down, and man becomes low, and you cannot possibly pardon them.” – Isaiah 2:6-9
Doctrinally the great church systems and sects that have come into existence since the time of the great apostasy are full of what is from the East; that is to say, with what is from Babylon. (The Two Babylons) Institutions like the Vatican are fabulously wealthy, controlling billions of dollars; possessing priceless treasures of art, great cathedrals with impressive stained glass that took centuries to construct, as well as countless tracts of real estate around the globe. Still, since the onset of the apostasy brought an end to the anointing, in what sense are the parishioners of Christendom God’s people? At what point has/will God forsake his erring people and the “house of Jacob, as Isaiah declares?
What is more, the prophecy of Isaiah indicates that Jehovah does not completely forsake his people. There is to be a remnant of holy ones who will survive the destruction of “Jerusalem.” Isaiah 4:2-3states: “In that day what Jehovah makes sprout will come to be for decoration and for glory, and the fruitage of the land will be something to be proud of and something beautiful for those of Israel who have escaped. And it must occur that the ones remaining in Zion and the ones left over in Jerusalem will be said to be holy to him, everyone written down for life in Jerusalem.”
When Nebuchadnezzar razed Jerusalem to the ground and slaughtered the Jewish royal families and led the rest off in chains, he left behind a miserable few to tend the valuable vineyards of Judah. But they could hardly be said to have been holy to Jehovah. According to Jeremiah – who himself was left behind – the remnant of survivors were just as faithless and rebellious as the Jews who were killed or dragged off in chains to Babylon. That was demonstrated by their disobeying Jehovah’s explicit command through Jeremiah not to flee down to Egypt. (Jeremiah 43) As a result of their continued disobedience, Jehovah maneuvered Nebuchadnezzar to turn his sword against Egypt in order to annihilate the remnant of faithless Jews who had fled there.
In reality, the prophecy of Isaiah could not have been fulfilled in connection with the literal destruction of Jerusalem. Besides, the second chapter of Isaiah points forward to “the final part of the days” for the ultimate fulfillment of Jehovah’s denunciation and restoration of the holy remnant of “Jerusalem.”
Since, as has already been considered, the modern state of Israel has nothing to do with the realization of prophecy, and Christendom could not possibly produce anything considered holy to Jehovah, how might the prophecy of Isaiah be fulfilled during “the final part of the days”?
Even though the great apostasy had snuffed out the light of truth and suspended the anointing, “the final part of the days” or “the conclusion of the system,” as it is alternatively termed, is characterized by the harvest of the chosen ones.
Although there may have been a few scattered anointed individuals during the long night of spiritual darkness, prior to the late 1800’s none were successful in completely breaking free from Christendom’s spiritual shackles.
During the period of the Inquisitions, the clergy often burned at the stake any who dared. Even in the New World, originally settled by people seeking relief from religious oppression, the clergy still wielded great power and political influence.
That situation began to change though when Charles Taze Russell and the Bible Students came on the scene in the 1870s. After a few years of intensive Bible study to determine the basic doctrines contained in the Scriptures, C.T. Russell established Zion’s Watchtower and launched the most intensive preaching campaign the world has ever seen. Russell almost single-handedly demolished centuries of accumulated church dogma that prevented people from comprehending the precious truth. Although at the beginning of the 20th century there were only a few thousand preachers distributing Zion’s Watchtower, nonetheless, Russell’s weekly sermons were read by millions of people around the world, due to the fact that they also appeared in hundreds of newspapers. By the time the First World War erupted it was said that Russell had a larger readership than all of Christendom’s writers combined!
After centuries of domination by Satan’s counterfeit Christianity, as a result of the work of Pastor Russell, as he was then called, a recognizable form of primitive Christianity reemerged. And honest hearted people responded.
The Bible Students regularly met in private homes, just like the original Christians.
Also, they all engaged in a public ministry and boldly exposed the hypocrisy of the religious leaders of the day, just like the original Christians did.
They also clearly knew the distinction between Jehovah and Jesus, just like the original Christians.
They also began to observe the annual memorial of Jesus’ death, just like the original Christians.
Jehovah’s spirit was obviously invigorating and anointing that vibrant little band of Bible Students, just as it had the original Christians.
And as proof of their anointing, the Bible Students began to be viciously persecuted by those who professed to reverence God, just as the original anointed Christians had been.
A PEOPLE FOR THE NAME OF JEHOVAH
In 1931 the International Bible Students adopted the distinctive name of Jehovah’s Witnesses. This was extremely significant in view of the fact that those associated with the religions of Christendom generally do not accept the name of Jehovah and want nothing to do with it. Churchgoers have been deluded into imagining that there is no name greater than the name of Jesus.
To fully appreciate that momentous development in 1931 it must be remembered that Satan has waged a centuries-long campaign to have the name of God removed from the Bible and wiped from the minds of men.
Before the time of Christ the Devil successfully induced the Jews to stop speaking the Name on grounds that it was too holy to be uttered: This in spite of the fact that the Hebrew prophets liberally spoke the name of God, often prefacing their inspired pronouncements with the phrase: “This is what Yehowah has said…”
There is good reason to believe that the early copyists of the Greek manuscripts also were induced to remove the distinctive name of God from their copies of the so-called New Testament. It is simply unthinkable that Jesus would have followed the custom of the faithless Jews in refusing to utter his Father’s holy name. After all, Jesus said in prayer that he had made God’s name known to his followers. And he taught his followers to pray, foremost, that God’s name might be sanctified – made holy. Not only that, but Jesus frequently quoted passages directly from the Hebrew Scriptures where the YHWH appears. For example, in responding to Satan’s three temptations, each time Jesus said: “It is written…” and each time he then quoted, verbatim, passages that contained the Name. Yet the Name does not appear in any copies of the Greek. Given the ongoing demonic conspiracy to prevent people from calling upon God’s name there is little doubt that it was omitted from the Greek text when later copies replaced the originals.
After the Reformation wrested control of the Bible away from the Vatican the name of Jehovah began to appear in a few early English Bibles. But more recent translators of the Scriptures have resorted to the practice of expunging the name of Jehovah from the book he inspired. For example, in the original King James Version (1611) the name Jehovah appeared four times. But in the latest edition of the KJV the name Jehovah has been removed.
The latest fraud being perpetrated on the ignorant is that Jehovah changed his name to Jesus. What utter nonsense!
So, in 1931 when J.F. Rutherford boldly declared that those associated with the Watchtower Society wished from then on to be known as Jehovah’s Witnesses, it meant that the International Bible Students had indeed become a people for God’s name, just like the original Christians had also been. (See Acts 15) Who can deny that Jehovah’s Witnesses are inseparably associated with the name of Jehovah?
That change confirmed that the congregation of Christ had emerged from the time of darkness and is presently manifested to the world through Jehovah’s Witnesses. The work of Jehovah’s Witnesses has resulted in the name of God being declared to the ends of the earth, in hundreds of languages and dialects. The stage is now set for the nations to be made to know that he is Jehovah, as it foretells in Ezekiel in many places, as well as other prophecies. (Jehovah’s Witnesses themselves must also be made to know that he is Jehovah – the God of judgment.)
Furthermore, the Watchtower Society may be properly identified as the prophetic “Jerusalem,” the place where Jehovah has caused his name to reside in the modern world – the earthly city of Jehovah. It is this “Jerusalem” – the Watchtower Society – not Christendom, which is destined to come under Jehovah’s judgment “in the final part of the days.”
The prophecy of Isaiah is in full harmony with the scriptural precept that judgment starts first with the spiritual house of God; specifically, with the leadership of God’s people. That is what Isaiah 3:13-14 states in connection with the fall of Jerusalem: “Jehovah is stationing himself to contend and is standing up to pass sentence upon peoples. Jehovah himself will enter into judgment with the elderly ones of his people and its princes.”
Returning to the verse previously cited, regarding the remnant that escapes the destruction of Jerusalem being considered as something holy to Jehovah, Jesus also foretold that Jerusalem would be trampled upon by a disgusting thing during the conclusion of the system, but in the aftermath of that astonishing event, the angels will be dispatched to gather God’s chosen ones from the four corners of the earth.
Now consider Isaiah 43:5-7: “Do not be afraid, for I am with you. From the sunrising I shall bring your seed, and from the sunset I shall collect you together. I shall say to the north, ‘Give up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not keep back. Bring my sons from far off, and my daughters from the extremity of the earth, everyone that is called by my name and that I have created for my own glory, that I have formed, yes, that I have made.’”
Those sons and daughters of God who are destined to be gathered to heavenly Jerusalem in the aftermath of the destruction of earthly Jerusalem are said to be “called by my name” – by the name of Jehovah that is. Notice, please, that the verse above does not state that they merely call on the name, but that they are called by his name. And they are called by his name before they are scattered. They can be none other than anointed Jehovah’s Witnesses.
But if the Watchtower Society is the antitypical “Jerusalem,” in what way has it stumbled, as Isaiah has said? How could Jehovah’s Witnesses ever speak against Jehovah or behave rebelliously, as Isaiah 3:8 says? – “For Jerusalem has stumbled, and Judah itself has fallen, because their tongue and their dealings are against Jehovah, in behaving rebelliously in the eyes of his glory.”
Those questions will be considered in the next installment of this ongoing series on the prophecy of Isaiah.