When the Israelites were set free from their hard slavery in Egypt, in accord with God’s solemn promise to his friend, Abraham, Jehovah then established his covenant with them. No other people were in such a blessed relationship with Jehovah God. But the blessing was conditional. Only as long as the people listened to God would they be blessed. God would cause the rain to fall in due season and no enemy could make exactions upon them – if they obeyed. But the terms of the covenant between God and Israel also stipulated that if the people did not strictly obey the voice of Jehovah God there would be dire consequences. Instead of the blessings there would be the maledictions. Jehovah would become their enemy. It was unavoidable if they rebelled. The curses were written into the Law covenant. The 28th chapter of Deuteronomy lays it out in explicit detail.
Of course, Jehovah knew in advance that the nation would not keep his covenant. And so God actually foretold Israel’s desolation even before ever they entered into the Promised Land. For example, Deuteronomy 28:63 states: “And it must occur that just as Jehovah exulted over you to do you good and to multiply you, so Jehovah will exult over you to destroy you and to annihilate you; and you will simply be torn away from off the soil to which you are going to take possession of it.”
That is why portions of Isaiah’s prophecy, written approximately 800 years after the Israelites entered into the bond of the covenant, echoes part of the curse contained in the Law. As an example, below is the curse of the Law directed towards the “delicate and dainty woman,” which stated: “As for the delicate and dainty woman among you who never attempted to set the sole of her foot upon the earth for being of dainty habit and for delicateness, her eye will be evil-inclined toward her cherished husband and her son and her daughter, even toward her afterbirth that comes out from between her legs and toward her sons whom she proceeded to bear, because she will eat them in secrecy for the want of everything because of the tightness and stress with which your enemy will hem you in within your gates.” – Deuteronomy 28:56-57
Now consider Isaiah 3:16-25: “For the reason that the daughters of Zion have become haughty and they walk with their throats stretched forth and ogling with their eyes, they go walking with tripping steps, and with their feet they make a tinkling sound, Jehovah also will actually make the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion scabby, and Jehovah himself will lay their very forehead bare. In that day Jehovah will take away the beauty of the bangles and the headbands and the moon-shaped ornaments, the eardrops and the bracelets and the veils, the headdresses and the step chains and the breastbands and the ‘houses of the soul’ and the ornamental humming shells, the finger rings and the nose rings, the robes of state and the overtunics and the cloaks and the purses, and the hand mirrors and the undergarments and the turbans and the large veils. And it must occur that instead of balsam oil there will come to be merely a musty smell; and instead of a belt, a rope; and instead of an artistic hair arrangement, baldness; and instead of a rich garment, a girding of sackcloth; a brand mark instead of prettiness. By the sword your own men will fall, and your mightiness by war. And her entrances will have to mourn and express sorrow, and she will certainly be cleaned out. She will sit down on the very earth.”
As is apparent, this aspect of the prophecy of Isaiah is an enlargement of the curse in Deuteronomy. But even more profoundly significant, just as the Law and the prophets were actually preliminary to the advent of the Christ, it is also evident that the very same Law covenant and the prophets cast shadows of divine pronouncements against the people of Christ – the Israel of God, according to Paul – the product of the new covenant and the law of the Christ.
Consider more closely the details of the curse of the covenant and the overlapping features of prophecy: “Jehovah will raise up against you a nation far away, from the end of the earth, just as an eagle pounces, a nation whose tongue you will not understand, a nation fierce in countenance, who will not be partial to an old man or show favor to a young man.” – Deuteronomy 28:49-50
Written almost a millennium before Babylon destroyed the kingdom of Judah, before even Jerusalem became the famed “city of Jehovah,” the opening pronouncements of the prophecy of Habakkuk uses the exact same imagery as the curse contained in the Law – likening the ruthless Chaldean to an eagle speeding to snatch the prey. But any knowledgeable reader of Habakkuk is aware that the prophecy is actually a vision yet for the time appointed, that is to say: for the time of the end, also termed the conclusion of the (global) system. The Chaldean foreshadows the eighth king. (See chapter – Habakkuk)
Not only that, but the description of the executioner of Jehovah’s judgments – he being “a nation fierce in countenance” – is also the precise language found in the prophecy of Daniel regarding a “king fierce in countenance.” The significance is that the prophecy of Daniel is also earmarked to undergo fulfillment in connection with the holy ones of the kingdom in “final part of the denunciation” – during the “time of the end.” (See chapter – Daniel)
In recognition of the patterns cast in prophecy and the interconnectivity of the new and old covenants, the haughty daughters of Zion – whom Jehovah ultimately purifies and humbles through affliction – must foreshadow the individual members of the bride of Christ during the parousia. Not to be overlooked, the purpose of God’s withering punishment is, as stated above, so that “she will certainly be cleaned out.”
Did not Jesus similarly clean out the moneychangers from God’s earthly temple as a last act in his earthly ministry, which serves as a portent of his work as the messenger of the (new) covenant and the appointed laundryman destined to carry out the ultimate, fiery cleansing of the spiritual temple, as related in the third chapter of Malachi? Reasonably, then, the cleansing of the spiritual temple takes place immediately before the beginning of the new world.
The denunciation becomes even more graphic at Isaiah 4:4-5, where we read: “When Jehovah will have washed away the excrement of the daughters of Zion and he will rinse away even the bloodshed of Jerusalem from within her by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning down, Jehovah will also certainly create over every established place of Mount Zion and over her convention place a cloud by day and a smoke, and the brightness of a flaming fire by night; because over all the glory there will be a shelter. And there will come to be a booth for a shade by day from the dry heat, and for a refuge and for a hiding place from the rainstorm and from the precipitation.”
The Watchtower Society recognizes that the prophecy of Isaiah is a pattern for the judgment of Christ’s congregation. But as with their interpretation of virtually all prophecy, the Watchtower goes to great lengths to convince Jehovah’s Witnesses that God’s judgments have already been carried out back in the 1914-1919 time-frame, against Rutherford and company; or, that they apply to Christendom. Here is what the Isaiah’s Prophecy I commentary states on pages 71-72 regarding the span of verses above:
When faced with the scorching heat of persecution and the storms of opposition, the cleansed remnant will find Jehovah to be their Source of protection, security, and refuge. A beautiful prospect is thus set before them: If they leave behind the unclean beliefs and practices of Babylon, submit to the cleansing of Jehovah’s judgment, and endeavor to remain holy, they will remain safe, as if in “a booth” of divine protection.Notice that first comes the cleansing, then the blessings. This has proved true in our day. Back in 1919 the anointed remnant humbly submitted to being refined, and Jehovah “washed away” their uncleanness. Since then, “a great crowd” of other sheep have also allowed themselves to be cleansed by Jehovah. Thus cleansed, the remnant and their companions have been blessed—Jehovah has taken them into his protective care.
It is a serious thing to declare oneself to be righteous and clean in the eyes of God. That is essentially what the Pharisees did. However, Jesus denounced them as mere whitewashed graves; outwardly beautiful and decorated, but inside full of dead men’s bones and all manner of uncleanness.
The leadership of the Watchtower Society has unwisely followed the path of the self-righteous and hypocritical Pharisees. They imagine that simply because they have discarded the doctrinal errors of Christendom that God has already declared them to be righteous. In actuality they have merely declared themselves to be clean and righteous. As an example of that mindset, at the 2010 annual meeting of the Watchtower elite one speaker immodestly boasted that the Governing Body was very close to being just like Christ himself.
According to Watchtower lore supposedly God was displeased with the leadership of the Society because they bowed to government pressure and censored the Finished Mystery of God in 1916 (The entire book was basically a work of fiction and a source of embarrassment to the Watchtower to this day) and that is why God allowed J.F. Rutherford and seven other directors of the Society to be briefly imprisoned. But did God really rinse away the bloodstains and excrement of the daughters of Zion back then? If that was the case, why then, for example, did the International Bible Students continue on celebrating Christmas and using the cross as a sacred symbol of Christianity for several years after the time that Jehovah supposedly rinsed away all of their religious uncleanness?
Unfortunately, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not possess the spiritual wherewithal to discern that the Society’s interpretation is sheer nonsense. And besides, if any of Jehovah’s Witnesses were to openly question the Watchtower’s 1914 doctrine they would be swiftly dealt with by the elders charged with enforcing the dictates of the “dictators of Sodom.”
The falsity of the accepted interpretation is evident in the way the Society plays fast and loose with the prophecy in question. To illustrate the point, from the very same context of scripture the Society has simultaneously divined two opposed interpretations; for example, on the one hand the judgment of apostate Jerusalem is said to foreshadow Christendom and her destruction, and at the same time it is alternatively construed to represent the Society, depending on how Bethel’s “prophets” spin it. In the verse under consideration that “Jerusalem” is said to symbolize the congregation of anointed Bible Students back during the First World War. But in what way did God enter into judgment with “the spirit of burning down”? By the Society’s own account Bethel’s presses never stopped rolling during the war and brief period of persecution and upheaval.
And the question ought to be asked: In what way was Jehovah, alone, put on high in that day, as Isaiah 2:18 states? Obviously, he was not.
The context of the prophecy is Jehovah entering into judgment with his elderly men and princes of his people. “The spirit of burning down” has to do with the abject desolation of the city of Jehovah during a time of unprecedented tyranny. That is certainly what is conveyed in the opening words of the third chapter of Isaiah: “For, look! the true Lord, Jehovah of armies, is removing from Jerusalem and from Judah support and stay, the whole support of bread and the whole support of water, mighty man and warrior, judge and prophet, and practicer of divination and elderly man, chief of fifty and highly respected man and counselor and expert in magical arts, and the skilled charmer. And I shall certainly make boys their princes, and mere arbitrary power will rule over them.”
No doubt this is why Isaiah 3:12 states: “As for my people, its task assigners are dealing severely, and mere women actually rule over it. O my people, those leading you on are causing you to wander, and the way of your paths they have confused.”
As a glaring example of the sort of fraud practiced by the Watchtower Society on Jehovah’s Witnesses, commenting on the following verse from the third chapter of Isaiah – “You yourselves have burned down the vineyard. What was taken by robbery from the afflicted one is in your houses. What do you men mean in that you crush my people, and that you grind the very faces of the afflicted ones?” – the Watchtower states:
Instead of working for the welfare of the people, leaders engage in deceitful practices. They misuse their authority by enriching themselves and depriving the poor and needy. But these leaders must answer to Jehovah of armies for their oppression of the afflicted. What a warning this is to those in positions of responsibility today! May they be ever careful not to misuse their authority.
Yes, indeed, it is a sober warning to those in positions of responsibility today! But has the leadership heeded their own warning? Have the men behind the Watchtower similarly engaged in “deceitful practices,” as they accuse the clergy of doing? Jehovah knows they have. But as grievous as it is, the 1914 hoax is not the only instance wherein Bethel has misused their authority. As the “dictators of Sodom,” one way in which the Watchtower routinely misuses its authority is by wielding the threat of disfellowshipping against any who dare to take its leadership to task for their misdoings.
One of the most outrageous acts of deception the Watchtower has ever perpetrated against Jehovah’s Witnesses has undoubtedly been their secret 10-year partnership with the United Nations. And to this day the Governing Body and their apologists continue to lie about the extent of the Watchtower’s political involvement. That partnership required the Watchtower to hoodwink Jehovah’s Witnesses into unknowingly disseminating literature that had been slyly crafted to contain positive information regarding the United Nations, in order to fulfill the Society’s contractual obligation as an officially approved NGO in association with the United Nations. (See chapter: Strange Bedfellows)
The damage done by the Society’s treachery is incalculable. Although it is impossible to quantify, it is safe to assume that tens of thousands have been stumbled.
Considering the countless stumbling blocks the Watchtower has strewn in the path over the years, such as the 1975 fiasco, and many other things, not the least of which has been the deplorable way the Watchtower’s lawyers have denied any responsibility for the many children who have been sexually abused by the thousands of known sexual predators lurking among Jehovah’s Witnesses – the numbers of the stumbled – including those merely studying with Jehovah’s Witnesses – amount to millions.
(In this connection the 36th chapter of Ezekiel refers to entire “nations” being stumbled by God’s representatives.)
Even if only one precious soul has been stumbled by the Watchtower’s hypocrisy and double-dealing, that is one too many from Jehovah’s standpoint. Stumbling others amounts to killing them. Jesus spoke of the dire consequences for those who stumble his sheep, saying it would be better for them if a millstone were hung around their necks and they were tossed into the heart of the open sea.
The Watchtower Society is unquestionably blood guilty in the eyes of God for causing so many to stumble. And according to his declaration to Moses, although Jehovah is merciful and gracious and slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness, he cannot possibly give exemption from punishment. Or as Jehovah states at Isaiah 2:9 in connection with Jerusalem: “And you cannot possibly pardon them.”
First must come the punishment – then the pardon and restoration for those whom Jehovah redeems. That is why Isaiah 4:4 speaks of Jehovah rinsing away, not merely the “excrement,” but also the bloodshed of Jerusalem – the “bloodshed” by causing others to stumble. Truly, only Jehovah’s scathing rebuke in – “the spirit of burning down” – could possibly humble the haughty leadership of the Watchtower Society.
How might Jehovah’s judgments be realized in the future?