This article renews the Isaiah commentary series.
The history of Israel and Judah during the days of the kings is a saddening chronicle of the back and forth struggle between unfaithful, apostate, baal worshipping kings and the reformers. No sooner would the righteous kings have cleared out the idolators the next generation of regents would apostatize again. Back and forth it went for nearly four centuries. Ostensibly, the Devil-worshippers won out —bringing ruination, ultimately provoking Jehovah to utterly destroy both Israel and later Judah and the temple in Jerusalem where Jehovah caused his name to reside. Of course, the destruction of Israel and Jerusalem did not mean Jehovah had been defeated.
Isaiah the prophet lived in Israel prior to and after the overthrow of the 10- tribe northern kingdom of Israel. The prophet was at the service of the Judean king, Hezekiah, when the Assyrian army under king Sennacherib laid siege to Judah with the intent of sacking Jerusalem. Having already laid waste to numerous nations, including Israel eight years earlier, and then many fortified cities in Judah, there was no apparent reason to doubt that Jerusalem would fall too. (JW Broadcast video portraying king Hezekiah’s response to the siege.)
The king of Assyria sent his spokesmen to Jerusalem to demand that the city surrender. It was on that occasion that King Hezekiah pleaded with Jehovah to respond to Sennacherib’s taunts and save Jerusalem. The king also inquired of Isaiah, who was inspired to respond with the following: “Therefore this is what Jehovah says about the king of Assyria: ‘He will not come into this city or shoot an arrow there or confront it with a shield or cast up a siege rampart against it. By the way he came he will return; he will not come into this city,’ declares Jehovah. ‘I will defend this city and save it for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.’” —Isaiah 33
But sadly, less than 150 years after the angel slew the Assyrian army God maneuvered Babylon to not only lay siege to Jerusalem, but to utterly destroy it. Both instances —God saving the city and the destruction of it —have profound prophetic significance, as revealed in the book of Isaiah and virtually all other Hebrew books of the prophets.
No other city on earth has ever had the honor of being the place of Jehovah’s symbolic residency. Conversely, because God chose Jerusalem as his city he was not only obligated to defend it from Satan’s attacks, but because of the unfaithfulness of its inhabitants —especially it kings, princes and priests —at times God was also forced to deal harshly with his special city.
While the Zionist-evangelical crowd supposes that the modern state of Israel and the rebuilt city of Jerusalem, with its Islamic Dome of the Rock, have some special role in God’s plan, surely the nuclear-armed secular nation does not need heaven’s protection and therefore cannot possibly fulfill Jehovah’s purpose. On the other hand, the Watchtower’s interpretation of “Jerusalem” in prophecy is also badly flawed.
To demonstrate the matter, according to the Watchtower the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians symbolizes the fiery end of Christendom in the future when the iniquitous harlot of Babylon is devoured by the eighth king. However, the rebuilding and restoration of Jerusalem, which obviously comes after the destruction, is said to have already undergone fulfillment with the development of the Watchtower Society since 1919. But if the things in prophecy are a pattern for greater spiritual realities —as they surely are —how is it that according to the Governing Body the restoration occurs before the desolation? Most alarming, though, Jehovah’s Witnesses apparently do not even notice the absurdity of the Watchtower’s teaching.
For example, the 30th chapter of Isaiah exhorts the residents of Jerusalem to stay in expectation of God’s coming. (Jesus also exhorted his disciples to stay on the watch for his coming.) Specifically addressing the residents of “Jerusalem,” the prophecy says: “When the people dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem, you will by no means weep. He will surely show you favor at the sound of your cry for help; he will answer you as soon as he hears it. Though Jehovah will give you bread in the form of distress and water in the form of oppression, your Grand Instructor will no longer hide himself, and you will see your Grand Instructor with your own eyes. And your own ears will hear a word behind you saying, “This is the way. Walk in it,” in case you should go to the right or in case you should go to the left.”
The “Jerusalem” about which the prophets speak relates to Christ’s congregation –not to a literal nation or city. It is entirely appropriate in view of the fact that Christ died in Jerusalem –or at least just outside its city wall. Furthermore, the holy spirit came down upon the 120 as they congregated in an upper room in the heart of Jerusalem; hence, Christianity originated in the holy city. Finally, Jerusalem was the unofficial headquarters of the apostles of Christ and was assumed to be the place where Christ would return. Not to be overlooked, the central feature of Christ’s extensive prophecy of the conclusion concerns the desolation of Jerusalem.
As regards the verses quoted above, embarrassingly the Watchtower’s would-be interpreters of Isaiah claim that we hear a word behind us by merely reading the Bible. Supposedly God’s word emanates as if from behind us simply because the Bible was written back in time. Not surprisingly the Isaiah commentary completely ignores the significance of the fact a word comes from behind at a specific moment in time —in the future —when the people who dwell in Zion are in distress and oppressed. That is when God will no longer conceal himself. That is when “you will see your Grand Instructor with your own eyes.”
What does it mean: “you will see your Grand Instructor with your own eyes”? Apparently, the seers of Bethel regard it as being so insignificant so as to not even warrant a comment. Perhaps they consider the expression hyperbole, since no man may literally see God and survive the encounter.
But is not Christ coming in the glory of his Father? And does not Isaiah indicate that when he comes he will be called, among other things, “Wonderful Counselor” —similar to the title the Father takes to himself —Grand Instructor? And do not the Christian Scriptures speak of our seeing Christ? Please be reminded that although the term is freely bandied about, nowhere in the Scriptures do we find the expression “invisible parousia.” It is a wholly contrived, artificial term.
Furthermore, although the Watchtower has divorced the parousia from the manifestation and revelation of Jesus Christ, in the Christian letters all three terms are used virtually interchangeably. (These matters have been presented in the book Jehovah Himself Has Become King in the chapter entitled – The Parousia.)
Why ought we suppose that the revelation and manifestation of Jesus Christ is some sort of invisible phenomenon? Did not the apostle say regarding his manifestation: “Beloved ones, now we are children of God, but as yet it has not been made manifest what we shall be. We do know that whenever he is made manifest we shall be like him, because we shall see him just as he is. And everyone who has this hope set upon him purifies himself just as that one is pure.”
The chosen ones will undoubtedly see Jesus in heaven —that is a given fact. Surely, though, Jesus is not hidden from the angels in heaven, nor has he ever been. Therefore, logically the manifestation and revelation of Christ is in relation to those on earth; specifically, the chosen ones prior to their entry into the spirit realm. And if you want to accept it, the manifestation of Jesus is what will transform the chosen ones so that they shine as brightly as the sun in the Kingdom of the Father –even while they are upon the earth.
Just as Isaiah speaks of Jehovah no longer hiding, no man has seen Jesus either. (Saul is the only exception, he being the only human to see Jesus after his ascension.) That being the case, can it not be said that Jesus is hiding too? And his no longer hiding himself must surely be the result of his manifestation –the long-awaited revealing of the Son of man. His Second Coming will bring about the situation, whereby God’s authoritative voice emanates as if from behind —indicating that those who assume they are enlightened are made to realize they are heading in the wrong direction.
As the prophecy goes on to reveal, when the wayward hear a word behind them it will result in their discarding their idol. Isaiah foretells: “And you people must defile the overlaying of your graven images of silver and the close-fitting covering of your molten statue of gold. You will scatter them. Like a menstruating woman, you will say to it: ‘Mere dirt!'” –Isaiah 30:22
There is every reason to believe that the molten statue of gold corresponds to the Watchtower. And with the coming of Christ, its teachings will be regarded with abhorrence.
No wonder the prophecy of Isaiah has so much to say about the blindness and spiritually inebriated condition of the leading men of God’s “city.” For example, in the 29th chapter of Isaiah God addresses the boastful rulers of his people in Jerusalem, saying of them: “Be stunned and amazed; blind yourselves and be blinded. They are drunk, but not with wine; they are staggering, but not from alcohol. For Jehovah has poured a spirit of deep sleep on you; He has closed your eyes, the prophets, and he has covered your heads, the visionaries.”
The anointed priests and visionaries of Bethel are surely intoxicated with their own power and knowledge. They are blind. In their inebriated state they are not even aware that their pronouncements are sheer nonsense. And because of their misinterpretation of the visions of the prophets —they have gone astray. They are staggering. All the while deceiving themselves regarding the Kingdom having already come; pronouncing themselves righteous as a result of their drunken state —assuming their blindness and wicked deeds are acceptable to God.
Thus, from the 40th chapter on Jehovah speaks to his people after the crash of “Jerusalem.” So we read: “‘Comfort, comfort my people,’ says your God. Speak to the heart of Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her compulsory service has been fulfilled, that her guilt has been paid off. From the hand of Jehovah she has received a full amount for all her sins.” —Isaiah 40:1-2
To further amplify the blindness of the leadership of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the prophecy of Isaiah goes on to say: “The glory of Jehovah will be revealed, and all flesh will see it together, for the mouth of Jehovah has spoken.” —Isaiah 40:5
Because of their confusion the drunkards of Ephraim have confidently asserted that the prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled in 1919, their being no need to elaborate here on that —except to say, that the Watchtower’s continual regurgitation of all things 1914 is undoubtedly the fulfillment of Isaiah regarding the drunken priests who are serving up tables of filthy vomit. “Their alcoholic beverages make them stagger. Priest and prophet go astray because of alcohol; the wine confuses them, and they stagger from their alcohol; their vision makes them go astray, and they stumble in judgment. For their tables are full of filthy vomit —There is no place without it.” –Isaiah 28:7-8
Let the drunkards —the exalted dictators of Sodom —explain how the glory of Jehovah has been revealed in them since 1919. Indeed, let them serve up their vomit to the full! And let those being served their nauseating rations praise the kitchen staff for serving up the finest spiritual food that can be had!
To be continued…