The Herald of Jehovah's Kingdom
The Herald of Jehovah's Kingdom
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth.
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Themes Archive

 
Jerusalem Prophetic in Rise and Fall
 
    It was of significance that faithful Abraham built the altar on which to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac upon a mountain that Jehovah God designated in the land of Moriah. Nineteen centuries later in that same region Jehovah let his only begotten Son be sacrificed, for it was on Mount Moriah that King Solomon built the first temple of Jerusalem. (Gen. 22:1, 2; 2 Chron. 3:1; 1 Chron. 21:18 to 22:19) So it was the locality marked out for the greatest sacrifice in the universe, a fact that was emphasized by Jesus when he said: "I must journey on today and tomorrow and the following day, because it is not admissible for a prophet to be destroyed outside of Jerusalem. Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the killer of the prophets and stoner of those sent forth to her!" (Luke 13:33, 34, NW) His death outside her gates and within sight of her temple on Mount Moriah made her fall for the second and final time unavoidable. Jerusalem was moved out of the way, that the greater city for which Abraham was looking might be seen more clearly with the eye of faith. "For he was awaiting the city having real foundations and the builder and creator of which is God." —Heb. 11:10, NW.
    In Abraham's day the city that later became Jerusalem was known as Salem, this name meaning "Peace". It was the city of Jehovah's only king and priest on earth then, Melchizedek, who is thought to have been no other than Shem, Noah's blessed son, whose God was to be Jehovah. However, for the effect of it, God's Word leaves us without the name of his father and mother and without information about the beginning and the end of his life, that it might be shown that he did not receive his priesthood from any human and that this priesthood was without end, as it were. His name "Melchizedek" meant "king of righteousness", and he was king of the city of peace. In these respects he was meant to prefigure Jehovah's everlasting High Priest of the righteous world of new heavens and a new earth. (Heb. 7:1-17) Melchizedek was in position to bless Abraham. He did so when Abraham was returning triumphant from his defeat of the pagan aggressors from the land of Shinar, the region of Babylon. "And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine, and he was priest of the Most High God. Then he blessed him and said: 'Blessed be Abram of the Most High God, Producer of heaven and earth, and blessed be the Most High God, who has delivered your oppressors into your hand!' At that Abram gave him a tenth of everything." (Gen. 14:18-20, NW) This blessing predicted a glorious victory for Abraham's promised Seed, who was to be sacrificed like Abraham's son Isaac, for the vindication of Jehovah as the Most High God and for the blessing of all mankind.
    More than 850 years passed before Melchizedek's city became the Salem of which the inspired psalmist sang: "In Judah is God known: his name is great in Israel. In Salem also is his tabernacle, and his dwelling place in Zion." (Ps. 76:1, 2) During that long interim Salem receded into the background of events. When we next hear of it it is in the hands of the descendants of the accursed Canaan, the Jebusites, and is known as Jebusi. Jehovah made a covenant with Abraham to give him all the land of Canaan, including that of the Jebusites and their city of Jebusi, or Jerusalem. But before that, Abraham's descendants must pass through a period of great trial, for, when making this covenant, Jehovah said to Abraham: "You may know for sure that your seed will become a temporary resident in a land not theirs, and they will have to serve them and these will certainly afflict them for four hundred years. But the nation that they will serve I am judging, and after that they will go out with much property. As for you, you will go to your forefathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age. But in the fourth generation they will return here, because the iniquity of the Amorites has not yet come to completion." (Gen. 15:13-16, NW) The hereunnamed "land not theirs" in which Abraham's descendants would be enslaved proved to be Egypt, the first world power having to do with them, the first head of the Dragon's beastly organization after the Flood.
    Partnership in Jehovah's covenant with Abraham for blessing all the families and nations of the earth was inherited by his son Isaac and then by Isaac's son Jacob. Jacob became the father of twelve sons. Through the jealousy of most of his half brothers Jacob's beloved son Joseph was sold into Egypt as a slave. For his integrity to Jehovah God through the severest of trials Joseph miraculously came to be the ruler of Egypt, next to Pharaoh the king. During the seven year famine that then struck the world Joseph invited his father Jacob and his eleven brothers to take up temporary residence near him in Egypt, in the land of Goshen. Two hundred and fifteen years after their forefather Abraham had crossed the Euphrates river into the Promised Land, Jacob and his household entered Egypt. It was here that they became a populous race of twelve tribes according to the twelve sons of Jacob and were called the "twelve tribes of Israel".—Gen. 49:28.
    Some time after Joseph's death a Pharaoh arose in Egypt who did not regard with any gratitude Joseph's valued services to the land of the Nile during the famine years and afterward. Doubtless egged on by the invisible power behind his throne, that is, by the spirit prince maneuvered by the first head of the great Dragon, this demon worshiping Pharaoh tried to stamp out the people who had now inherited God's covenant with Abraham, the twelve tribes of Israel. Along with other oppressive measures, he enslaved them, just as Jehovah had foretold to Abraham. But while the great Dragon had a spirit prince for the oppressor Egypt, Jehovah too had a guardian angel for his people Israel. To raise up a visible deliverer for Israel from enslavement inham for blessing all the families and nations of the earth was inherited by his son Isaac and then by Isaac's son Jacob. Jacob became the father of twelve sons. Through the jealousy of most of his half brothers Jacob's beloved son Joseph was sold into Egypt as a slave. For his integrity to Jehovah God through the severest of trials Joseph miraculously came to be the ruler of Egypt, next to Pharaoh the king. During the seven year famine that then struck the world Joseph invited his father Jacob and his eleven brothers to take up temporary residence near him in Egypt, in the land of Goshen. Two hundred and fifteen years after their forefather Abraham had crossed the Euphrates river into the Promised Land, Jacob and his household entered Egypt. It was here that they became a populous race of twelve tribes according to the twelve sons of Jacob and were called the "twelve tribes of Israel".—Gen. 49:28.
    Some time after Joseph's death a Pharaoh arose in Egypt who did not regard with any gratitude Joseph's valued services to the land of the Nile during the famine years and afterward. Doubtless egged on by the invisible power behind his throne, that is, by the spirit prince maneuvered by the first head of the great Dragon, this demon worshiping Pharaoh tried to stamp out the people who had now inherited God's covenant with Abraham, the twelve tribes of Israel. Along with other oppressive measures, he enslaved them, just as Jehovah had foretold to Abraham. But while the great Dragon had a spirit prince for the oppressor Egypt, Jehovah too had a guardian angel for his people Israel. To raise up a visible deliverer for Israel from enslavement in Egypt Jehovah's angel appeared to the shepherd Moses, at the burning bush in the Arabian wilderness near Mount Sinai, or Horeb, the mountain of God. At Jehovah's command Moses returned to Egypt and appeared before Pharaoh and demanded the release of the Israelites in the name of Jehovah.
    Pharaoh defied Jehovah and hardheartedly refused to let his people go. Rather, he increased his oppressions upon them. Then Jehovah executed his judgments upon Egypt and its false gods and its spirit prince by bringing ten devastating plagues upon Pharaoh and his land. The tenth plague, the death of all the first born of Egypt on the fourteenth day of the month Nisan, broke the hardened heart of Pharaoh and he thrust the Israelites out of the land. In this tenth and last plague the Israelites did not lose a single firstborn, because they obediently celebrated the passover supper, which Jehovah now introduced among the Israelites.
    Thus four hundred and thirty years to the day after Abraham had crossed the Euphrates and the great covenant of blessing went into force, the Israelites began their march out of Egypt. (Ex. 12:40, 41) Some days later Pharaoh, hearing that the escape route of the Israelites was blocked by the Red sea, ordered out his charioteers and horsemen and went in pursuit to drag them back to slavery. Jehovah, by his angel guide, then opened for his people a dry path through the sea to the Arabian shores opposite. Seeing his prey slipping from his fingertips, Pharaoh with his speedy host dashed in madly between the watery walls of the sea. Could the spirit prince of Egypt hold those walls up and prevent them from collapsing upon the Egyptians? Moses, on dry Arabian ground, turned, raised the rod with which Jehovah had used him to perform miracles, and down tumbled the walls of water upon the pursuers.
    "Let me sing to Jehovah, for he has become highly exalted. The horse and its rider he has pitched into the sea. My strength and my might is Jah, since he serves for my salvation." So sang Moses at this divine exploit. (Ex. 15:1, 2, NW) In this way the living and true God made a name for himself that could never be blotted out. His act of deliverance made Israel his people by every right. No wonder King David could exclaim: "And who is like thy people, like Israel, the one nation in the earth that God went to redeem to be a people to himself, and to make himself a name, and to do for them great things and terrible, for thy land, before thy people, which thou redeemedst to thyself from Egypt, from the nations and their gods? And thou hast established to thyself thy people Israel to be a people unto thee for ever; and thou, Jehovah, art become their God."—2 Sam. 7:23, 24.
    The miraculous pillar of cloud then led the Israelites to Mount Sinai or Horeb. There Jehovah made Israel a real nation, a people with a theocratic government over them. He established this government by making with them there a covenant in addition to his covenant with Abraham. (Gal. 3:17-19) It was a covenant of law, with the Ten Commandments as the set of fundamental laws, and the Israelites agreed to keep it for the divine blessing upon their nation. Forty years later, when they were at the banks of the Jordan river and about to cross over into the land promised to Abraham's seed, Moses said to them: "Jehovah our God concluded a covenant with us in Horeb. It was not with our forefathers that Jehovah concluded this covenant, but with us, all those of us alive here today. Face to face Jehovah spoke with you in the mountain out of the middle of the fire." (Deut. 5:1-4; 29:1, NW; Ex. 19:1 to 24:8) They were now his covenant people, those who had voluntarily agreed to be his slaves whom he had redeemed. They were eyewitnesses of what Jehovah had done for them in Egypt, at the Red sea and during the forty years of their wandering in the wilderness preparatory to entering the Promised Land. They were a nation of witnesses of Jehovah, a nation that he had brought into existence and shaped under the Law covenant. He could rightly say to them prophetically: "Now thus saith Jehovah that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed thee; I have called thee by thy name, thou art mine. Ye are my witnesses, saith Jehovah, and my servant whom I have chosen; that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am Jehovah; and besides me there is no saviour."—Isa. 43:1,10,11, AS.
    Israel was a national creation of God. His name was upon them, and they must bear that name in an honorable way, not in a worthless way. Assuring them of divine blessing if they did so, Moses said: "All the peoples of the earth will have to see that Jehovah's name has been called upon you and they will indeed be afraid of you." (Deut. 28:10, NW) God must now give his own created theocratic nation a territory in which to live and be a national witness of the universal sovereignty of their God Jehovah. By a miracle like that at the Red sea he brought them across the flooded river Jordan under the leadership of Moses' successor, Joshua. Jehovah did not make the land an outright handout to the Israelites. That would have been too easy for them; it would not have proved their faith and obedience to the God with whom they had entered into a solemn covenant. In the terms of this covenant they had been instructed what to do when they entered the Promised Land. The then occupants were descendants of accursed Canaan and were condemned to death for their wickedness and unclean worship of false gods, demons. In taking possession of the land by a fight in which Jehovah God would help them the Israelites must act as his executioners and destroy the filthy demon worshipers who opposed the establishment of theocratic rule in the God given land.
    By thus cleansing the land they would uphold the sovereignty of Jehovah over all the earth and would safeguard themselves against getting infected with idolatrous worship in the future. When they showed their faith and proceeded with clearing out the accursed idolaters from the land, then "Jehovah the God of Israel it was who was fighting for Israel".—Josh. 10:14, 42; 23:3, 10, NW. After six years of partially subduing the Promised Land the Israelites entered upon a period of rule by human judges as the visible representatives of God. God was actually their invisible Ruler, their King. "Jehovah is the one who will rule over you," said Judge Gideon. (Judg. 8:23, NW) And Judge Samuel reminded them: "Jehovah your God was your king." (1 Sam. 12:12, AS; Deut. 33:5) Samuel said that, because now, near the end of his life, they had requested a visible, mortal king to be set up over them, like those of the pagan nations all around them. Samuel, Jehovah's prophet, anointed Saul as their first king. Thus the king of Israel was spoken of as "the anointed of Jehovah". Saul, after forsaking Jehovah his God and seeking advice from the spirit medium of Endor, died in battle after a forty year reign. Because of his unfaithfulness to God, Jehovah did not let Saul start a royal dynasty in Israel, but had David of Bethlehem judah anointed as king at the Judean city of Hebron. With him Jehovah God began an important dynasty.
    "King David proceeded to subdue all the remaining unconquered portions of the Promised Land. He assaulted the citadel of Jerusalem that was still held by the pagan Jebusites. (Josh. 15:63; Judg. 19:10-12) "And David and all Israel went to Jerusalem (the same is Jebus); and the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, were there. And the inhabitants of Jebus said to David, Thou shalt not come in hither. Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion; the same is the city of David And David dwelt in the stronghold; therefore they called it the city of David." (1 Chron. 11:4-7, AS) So it was that Jerusalem, which was a polluted pagan city to begin with, became the capital of the kingdom of Israel. The city's stronghold or citadel was called Zion, a name that came to be applied later to the whole city as it was enlarged.
    By his prophet Moses Jehovah had repeatedly spoken to the Israelites about choosing a special place in the Promised Land for the location of his name; it was to become the center of worship for the entire nation. "To the place that Jehovah your God will choose out of all your tribes to place his name there, to have it reside, you will seek and there you must come." (Deut. 12:4, 5, 11, 21; 26:2, NW) Jerusalem, or Zion, proved to be the place Jehovah selected, for in due time King David had the sacred ark of the covenant, which represented Jehovah's presence in Israel, brought up and located near his palace in the city of David, Zion. At this event David composed a psalm and sang out: "Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; and let them say among the nations, Jehovah reigneth." (1 Chron. 16:31, AS) Later Jehovah chose a location just to the north of Zion as a place for the temple that God had told King David that his son and successor Solomon would build, and it became part of the city. There in seven and a half years' time wise King Solomon built a magnificent temple. To Solomon God said: "I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever." (1 Ki. 9:1-3, AS) Concerning Solomon's successor, his son Rehoboam, it is written: "He reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city which Jehovah had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, to put his name there." (1 Ki. 14:21, AS) It became the holy city, identified with God's own name.
    At a height of about 2,550 feet above the Mediterranean sea level, Jerusalem was higher than almost any other great capital in human history, it being also at the head of a slope that fell about 3,300 feet to the plain of the Jordan river at Jericho, or about 3,800 feet above the Dead sea level. How well the situation and the significance of the holy city were to symbolize the facts of something far higher and grander than the mere earthly city! How appropriately the psalmist could use Jerusalem as a prophetic type and sing: "Great is Jehovah, and greatly to be praised, in the city of our God, in his holy mountain. Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King." (Ps. 48:1, 2, AS) Jehovah was the real King of Jerusalem during the days of his theocratic government over Israel. The human king of the line of David was merely his visible earthly representative on a material throne on Mount Zion. The throne was really Jehovah's. Hence it was written of David's successor: "Then Solomon sat on the throne of Jehovah as king instead of David his father, and prospered; and all Israel obeyed him." (1 Chron. 29:23, AS) Thus Salem, the capital of ancient King Melchizedek, priest of the Most High God, became again the seat of a theocratic king and the center of His high priest.
    In Hebrew a city is feminine in gender and is spoken of as a woman. The city's residents or citizens are spoken of as its children. For example: "Praise Jehovah, O Jerusalem; praise thy God, O Zion. For he hath strengthened the bars of thy gates; he hath blessed thy children within thee." "Let Israel rejoice in him that made him: let the children of Zion be joyful in their King." (Ps. 147:12, 13; 149:2, AS; Isa. 54:1, 13; Joel 2:23; 3:6) From this standpoint faithful, theocratic Jerusalem was used to typify or picture Jehovah's holy invisible organization, his theocratic universal organization, his woman or wife who mothers the Seed that he promised in Eden after man's fall into sin. To this organization, which was long reserved as the one to bring forth the woman's seed for bruising the Serpent in the head, were really addressed the prophetic words: "Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith Jehovah. For thy Maker is thy husband; Jehovah of hosts is his name: ... For Jehovah hath called thee as a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, even a wife of youth, when she is cast off, saith thy God. For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. And all thy children shall be taught of Jehovah; and great shall be the peace of thy children."—Isa. 54:1,5-7,13, AS.
    Jehovah's wifely heavenly organization corresponds, not only with faithful, theocratic Jerusalem that accepted Jehovah's anointed King, but also with Abraham's free wife, Sarah, the mother of Isaac. This is not the private interpretation of the witnesses of Jehovah. It is the inspired interpretation by God's spirit. For the apostle Paul turns from the unfaithful, untheocratic Jerusalem of his day that had rejected Jehovah's anointed King and he says to his Christian brothers: "But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother." After saying this, he quotes Isaiah 54:1, quoted in our preceding paragraph, and makes this comment: "Now we, brothers, are children belonging to the promise the same as Isaac was." Next Paul quotes the words of Abraham's free woman, Sarah, directed against her slave girl, and then he comments: "Wherefore, brothers, we are children, not of a servant girl, but of the free woman." (Gal. 4:21-31, NW) Hereby is proved that there is a "Jerusalem above", a heavenly Jerusalem, and that it is the mother of the promised seed pictured by Isaac for blessing all the families of the earth. The woman that Jehovah God designated in Eden, at Genesis 3:15, to be the mother of the Serpent bruiser is the heavenly Jerusalem, his invisible, spiritual theocratic organization.
    At Eden God promised to put enmity between his woman and the great Serpent, and between her seed and that of the Serpent. By his law covenant with the nation of Israel he set Israel against the demon worship of the pagan nations and against any alliances with the nations of the Serpent's visible organization. The Serpent and his seed returned this hostility and worked persistently at corrupting Israel and subjugating it. King Solomon, builder of Jehovah's temple, became corrupted with idolatrous demon worship and died unfaithful to God. But the ruling dynasty was not taken from his line, for by a special kingdom covenant with faithful King David God had given his word that the royal line would remain in David's household till the arrival of the Seed of God's woman. (2 Sam. 7:1-17) So in the reign of Solomon's successor the kingdom was divided. Ten tribes of Israel seceded and formed a northerly kingdom of their own. Only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin and the sacred tribe of Levi with its priesthood remained faithful to the royal house of David and its capital Jerusalem, the seat of Jehovah's worship. In course of time the spirit prince over Assyria, represented by the second head of the Dragon's wild beast, became dominant and began attacking the northerly ten tribe kingdom of Israel. In 740 B.C. Assyria subjugated it, destroyed its capital and deported the unfaithful Israelites to Assyria.
    Then the second head of the great Dragon tried striking at the kingdom of Judah and its capital Jerusalem. The Assyrian capital Nineveh became the great rival of the holy city. But when, in the days of faithful King Hezekiah, the Assyrian aggressor Sennacherib threatened Jerusalem and reproached her God, Jehovah's angel (doubtless the archangel Michael) sent the Assyrian seed of the Serpent back to Nineveh minus 185,000 of his soldiers, slain all in one night, in a vindication of Jehovah's universal sovereignty. After that the third head of the Dragon, which controlled the spirit prince over Babylon, became dominant, and Babylon became the great rival of Jerusalem. As represented by these two typical cities on earth, Satan's woman, who figuratively bore the name Babylon, and Jehovah's woman, the heavenly Jerusalem, now faced each other in open hostility. None of the kings who sat on the throne of Jehovah in earthly Jerusalem proved to be the seed of God's woman. In spite of the earnest efforts of some godly kings to save the situation, the reigning line of David's dynasty carried its corruption so far that Jehovah saw good to overturn that miniature theocratic kingdom. To do so, he let Satan's woman Babylon score an apparent triumph. In 607 B.C. her royal seed Nebuchadnezzar, king of earthly Babylon, succeeded in taking Jerusalem and its noble palaces and, to the shock of the Jews, their polluted temple. He carried off most of the surviving Jews, including King Zedekiah, captive to the province of Babylon. Shortly afterward the poor of the land who had been left there fled in fear down to Egypt, leaving behind Jerusalem a scene of ruins and the land of Judah a desolation without man or domestic beast.
    Although the prophet Jeremiah had foretold all this, he wept at its realization and uttered this lamentation: "How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! She is become as a widow, that was great among the nations! She that was a princess among the provinces is become tributary! ... Her adversaries are become the head, her enemies prosper; for Jehovah hath afflicted her for the multitude of her transgressions: her young children are gone into captivity before the adversary. And from the daughter of Zion all her majesty is departed: ... Jerusalem hath grievously sinned; therefore she is become as an unclean thing; all that honored her despise her, because they have seen her nakedness: yea, she sigheth, and turneth backward. Her filthiness was in her skirts; she remembered not her latter end; therefore is she come down wonderfully; she hath no comforter: ... The breath of our nostrils, the anointed of Jehovah, was taken in their pits; of whom we said, Under his shadow we shall live among the nations.... Thou, O Jehovah, abidest for ever; thy throne is from generation to generation. Wherefore dost thou forget us for ever, and forsake us so long time? Turn thou us unto thee, O Jehovah, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old."—Lam. 1:1-9; 4:20; 5:1-21, AS.