domingo, 6 de maio de 2012

Jerusalem and the Kingdom of God

The principal argument used in the thesis of 1914 is to assert that the God’s rulership, as symbolized by Jerusalem, was interrupted in 607 BCE when Jerusalem was conquered by the Babylonians.

It asserts that the city of Jerusalem ceased to represent the Kingdom of God on earth after her destruction by the Babylonians in 607 BCE - remaining in this state of lack of representativeness (as a symbol of Jehovah’s rulership) for centuries, including therefore the period Jesus was on earth. (See Book: What Does the Bible Really Teach? - Appendix – 1914 A Significant Year in Bible Prophecy)

Is this really what the Bible teaches?

To understand the relationship between the arrangement of human kings and the nation of Israel, let us consider 1 Samuel 8:4-9:

4 In time all the older men of Israel collected themselves together and came to Samuel at Ra´mah 5 and said to him: “Look! You yourself have grown old, but your own sons have not walked in your ways. Now do appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” 6 But the thing was bad in the eyes of Samuel inasmuch as they had said: “Do give us a king to judge us,” and Samuel began to pray to Jehovah. 7 Then Jehovah said to Samuel: “Listen to the voice of the people as respects all that they say to you; for it is not you whom they have rejected, but it is I whom they have rejected from being king over them. 8 In accord with all their doings that they have done from the day of my bringing them up out of Egypt until this day in that they kept leaving me and serving other gods, that is the way they are doing also to you. 9 And now listen to their voice. Only this, that you should solemnly warn them, and you must tell them the rightful due of the king who will reign over them.

'it is I whom they have rejected from being king over them'

These words indicate that although there was not a human king in the same way that nations had, but there was indeed a King ruling over the nation of Israel, namely, Jehovah himself.
It would be really very harmful for Israel to have a human representing them as sovereign king, Samuel, as termed by God, declares the prerogatives of a king:

10 So Samuel said all the words of Jehovah to the people who were asking a king of him. 11 And he proceeded to say: “This will become the rightful due of the king that will reign over YOU: YOUR sons he will take and put them as his in his chariots and among his horsemen, and some will have to run before his chariots; 12 and to appoint for himself chiefs over thousands and chiefs over fifties, and [some] to do his plowing and to reap his harvest and to make his war instruments and his chariot instruments. 13 And YOUR daughters he will take for ointment mixers and cooks and bakers. 14 And YOUR fields and YOUR vineyards and YOUR olive groves, the best ones, he will take and actually give to his servants. 15 And of YOUR fields of seed and of YOUR vineyards he will take the tenth, and he will certainly give [them] to his court officials and his servants. 16 And YOUR menservants and YOUR maidservants and YOUR best herds, and YOUR asses he will take, and he will have to use them for his work. 17 Of YOUR flocks he will take the tenth, and YOU yourselves will become his as servants. 18 And YOU will certainly cry out in that day by reason of YOUR king, whom YOU have chosen for yourselves, but Jehovah will not answer YOU in that day.”

What a burden and a stumbling block to the people would be having a human king over them! Despite the warnings, that was what they wanted - to imitate the nations: a human king:

19 However, the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel and said: “No, but a king is what will come to be over us. 20 And we must become, we also, like all the nations, and our king must judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”

'No, but a king is what will come to be over us - like all the nations'

Indeed, perhaps the worst decision that the people of Israel had done in all his history was wanting to have a human king like all the nations.
That decision led them to their physical and spiritual ruin when Solomon - the third king over them - apostatized, dividing the kingdom of Israel in two and when other successors kings led Judah to idolatry, and finally into exile – what a bad decision!
A human king was totally unnecessary for those whom had Jehovah himself for King.
The problem was their lack of faith to see Jehovah as king over them – they needed something material, a human institution - human kings – like all nations.

A human king was what Satan first established by means of Nimrod (Babel) - a diabolical arrangement and ,after the deluge , each nation had its own human king.

So that the period of absence of a human ruler "sitting" on the throne of Jehovah in Jerusalem could not mean the end of the royal representative of Jehovah in Jerusalem for the simple fact that Jehovah never desired or intended to have a human king seated on His throne over the nation. It was the people who chose that.

So although Israel no longer had a human king sitting on the "throne of Jehovah" after the exile, the nation turned to be like the days of the judges and the Jews would have to see by faith Jehovah himself ruling as king over them, in Jerusalem - the city of the great King.
Thus the role of Jerusalem in relation to the true worship, representing God's rulership on earth, remained the same after the exile - the place where the name of Jehovah was invoked - in his rebuilt holy Temple. So that Jerusalem was the city whose Owner should always have been regarded as King over them, the holy city or the city of Jehovah.

When Jesus was on earth he recognized that Jerusalem represented God's rulership or Kingdom, he said about her:

Matthew 5:33-35
33 “Again YOU heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You must not swear without performing, but you must pay your vows to Jehovah.’ 34 However, I say to YOU: Do not swear at all, neither by heaven, because it is God’s throne; 35 nor by earth, because it is the footstool of his feet; nor by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King

'Jerusalem is the city of the great King'

Psalms 48:1-2
1 Jehovah is great and much to be praised
In the city of our God, [in] his holy mountain.
2 Pretty for loftiness, the exultation of the whole earth,
Is Mount Zion on the remote sides of the north,
The town of the grand King.

So in the days of Jesus it is clear that Jerusalem still represented God's rulership on earth: Jerusalem was His holy city – Matthew 27:53.

Jehovah's name is intimately connected with His Kingdom and Jerusalem continued to bear the name of God. No wonder that Jesus himself called her “the city of the great King”.

Jerusalem only ceased to represent Jehovah's rulership - the place where His name was invoked - in 70 CE, when it was destroyed by the Romans, finally fulfilling ultimately the words of Jesus:

Luke 13:35 “Look! YOUR house is abandoned to YOU”

After 607 BCE Jerusalem was by no means abandoned: the name of God - Jehovah (therefore His Kingdom) - still resided on it.

Also consider the following words of Jesus:

43 This is why I say to YOU, The kingdom of God will be taken from YOU and be given to a nation producing its fruits.

When the Kingdom of God (as symbolized in Jerusalem) was taken from the Jews? In 607 BCE?
Not at all!

In Jesus' days the Kingdom of God or God's rulership had not yet been taken off from the Jews, specifically, until then, God's Kingdom was still in the hands of Jews and was still being represented in Jerusalem.

The kingdom of God was taken from the Jews because they did not accept the Messiah – Luke 19:41
The problem was not and never was the 'vacant' of a human to sit on the physical throne in Jerusalem, but what the worship to God had become: commandment of men. It was exactly to want a human king "sitting on a throne' that led them to reject the Messiah.

Let us continue meditating in what Jesus Christ said about Jerusalem or what he felt for that city.

As we have already read:

Matthew 5:33-35
33 “Again YOU heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You must not swear without performing, but you must pay your vows to Jehovah.’ 34 However, I say to YOU: Do not swear at all, neither by heaven, because it is God’s throne; 35 nor by earth, because it is the footstool of his feet; nor by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King

Now consider also Luke 19:41
41 And when he got nearby, he viewed the city and wept over it,

In the first text we noted Jesus referring to things (heaven, earth and Jerusalem) that symbolically represented things of God (the throne, footstool, city). Jesus said that Jerusalem was the city of the Great King, that is, Jerusalem was the city of Jehovah, therefore Jerusalem symbolized God's rulership. (Psalm 48:1,2)

In the second text we read that Jesus wept over Jerusalem, why so? Anyone would be amazed to see a man like Jesus crying for something.
The Bible tells us about another occasion when Jesus wept: death of his friend Lazarus :

John 11:35-36
35 Jesus gave way to tears. 36 Therefore the Jews began to say: “See, what affection he used to have for him!”

Thus we can also conclude that Jesus had plenty of affection for Jerusalem! - what affection he used to have for her!”

To better understand why Jesus called Jerusalem "the city of Jehovah," or even wept over it, we must understand how, since ancient times, and even in the days of Jesus, a servant of Jehovah saw or should face this city where the name of Jehovah was invoked.

The Psalms help us to have a greater insight into the feelings that a servant of God should have for that place. Let us read some of them:

Psalms 135:21
21 Blessed out of Zion be Jehovah,
Who is residing in Jerusalem.
Praise Jah, YOU people!

Psalms 132:13
13 For Jehovah has chosen Zion;
He has longed for it as a dwelling for himself:

Psalms 149:1-2
1 Praise Jah, YOU people!
Sing to Jehovah a new song,
His praise in the congregation of loyal ones.
2 Let Israel rejoice in its grand Maker,
The sons of Zion—let them be joyful in their King.

12 Commend Jehovah, O Jerusalem.
Praise your God, O Zion.

Psalms 99:1-2
1 Jehovah himself has become king. Let the peoples be agitated.
He is sitting upon the cherubs. Let the earth quiver.
2 Jehovah is great in Zion,
And he is high over all the peoples.

Psalms 102:21
21 For the name of Jehovah to be declared in Zion
And his praise in Jerusalem

Psalms 50:2
2 Out of Zion, the perfection of prettiness, God himself has beamed forth.

Psalms 76:2
2 And his covert proves to be in Sa´lem itself,
And his dwelling place in Zion.

Psalms 128:5
5 Jehovah will bless you out of Zion.
See also the good of Jerusalem all the days of your life,

Psalms 125:2
2 Jerusalem—as mountains are all around it,
So Jehovah is all around his people
From now on and to time indefinite.

Thus, for sharing these same feelings toward Jerusalem, as expressed by these Psalms above, that is why Jesus said these words below about this city:

' the city of the great King' – Matthew 5:35
"...he viewed the city and wept over it”

Jesus knew very well what the city of Jerusalem represented here on earth: "The Kingdom of Jehovah God" – Theocracy – God's Rulership.

'In that case, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that it must take place this way?'

Now please consider one of the most important prophecies involving Jesus and Jerusalem:

Matthew 21:4-10
4 This actually took place that there might be fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet, saying: 5 “TELL the daughter of Zion, ‘Look! Your King is coming to you, mild-tempered, and mounted upon an ass, yes, upon a colt, the offspring of a beast of burden.’”6 So the disciples got on their way and did just as Jesus ordered them. 7 And they brought the ass and its colt, and they put upon these their outer garments, and he seated himself upon them. 8 Most of the crowd spread their outer garments on the road, while others began cutting down branches from the trees and spreading them on the road. 9 As for the crowds, those going ahead of him and those following kept crying out: “Save, we pray, the Son of David! Blessed is he that comes in Jehovah’s name! Save him, we pray, in the heights above!”10 Now when he entered into Jerusalem, the whole city was set in commotion, saying: “Who is this?”

The King coming in his kingdom:
TELL the daughter of Zion (Jerusalem personified)
Look! Your King is coming to you

This prophecy is, as described, fulfilled when Jesus – the king - comes into his kingdom - as represented by Jerusalem - the daughter of Zion.

Remember Psalms 14:7
7 O that out of Zion there were the salvation of Israel!

The fact is that if Jerusalem no longer represented God's rulership on earth since 607 BCE, either these same prophecies could be fulfilled! They would not be able to fulfill.
All words in these prophecies must necessarily retain the same information and relevance since when they were written until their fulfillment. Therefore Jerusalem should necessarily represent God's rulership on earth in Jesus' day.

In that case, how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that it must take place this way? (Matthew 26:54)
'This actually took place that there might be fulfilled what was spoken '

So it would be mandatory from prophetical's standpoint both Zion and Jerusalem retain the same information as they had since the days of the Psalms, namely, to represent Jehovah's rulership, before and after 607 BCE.

Such prophecy stated that only the Kingdom of God - as symbolized by Zion and Jerusalem - would provide the means of salvation for all. That was the whole meaning of Jesus, the designated King, come into Jerusalem - symbol of God's rulership. Or in other words: only God's rulership [Jerusalem] could provide salvation [ Jesus].

Let us consider again Matthew 21:43
This is why I say to YOU, The kingdom of God will be taken from YOU and be given to a nation producing its fruits.

These words show that the Jews enjoyed many privileges in Jesus' day:
1)They had the opportunity to be kings and priests with Jesus in the heavens – Exodus 19:6, Rev 5:10, Rev 14:1.
2)They had Jerusalem and its Temple, the holy city (Matthew 4:5, Luke 4:9, Matthew 5:35), which represented the very Kingdom of God on earth.
3)They had the Messiah, the king appointed to God's Kingdom - driving toward the symbolic Kingdom - Jerusalem

So this nation should have produced its fruits, namely the sons of the kingdom - the kings and priests.

But the religious leaders were not interested in a celestial government (without crowns, turbans, vast territories) - they wanted a political leader. So they rejected overwhelmingly the Kingdom of God - saying: "We have no king but Caesar."

That is why Jesus said to them:
The kingdom of God will be taken from YOU (all that symbolized The kingdom of God – Jerusalem included)
According to that, Jesus amazed said constantly during his ministry: “With no one in Israel have I found so great a faith”
Meaning he met people from other nations with more faith than those whose right and duty should have been the sons of the kingdom.

Read Matthew 8:10
10 Hearing that, Jesus became amazed and said to those following him: “I tell YOU the truth, With no one in Israel have I found so great a faith. 11 But I tell YOU that many from eastern parts and western parts will come and recline at the table with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of the heavens; 12 whereas the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the darkness outside. There is where [their] weeping and the gnashing of [their] teeth will be.”

the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the darkness outside”

That's exactly what happened to the Jews of that time: they lost the Kingdom -They no longer would represent the kingdom of God on earth. Jerusalem would no longer represent it as well

We comprehend then that it was not for nothing that Jesus 'beheld the city [of Jerusalem] and wept over it.'
Jerusalem, that for centuries represented God's rulership on earth, would be 'thrown into the darkness outside' - 'Look! YOUR house is abandoned to YOU.'

Therefore we have seen that even after 607 BCE, Jerusalem obligatorily - because of the Scriptures themselves - maintained its role: a symbol of God's rulership.

Some may be bothered by the fact that Jerusalem no longer had an explicit "human kingship" after 607 BCE. But it was the implementation of human kings really important?

Remember that David, who first established his throne in Jerusalem, insisted that exalted and proclaimed should be not his reign as a human, but the kingdom of Jehovah himself in Jerusalem.
At the time he brought the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem, David proclaimed and exalted:
1 Chronicles 16:31 reads:
'Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be joyful,
And let them say among the nations, ‘Jehovah himself has become king!’'

David recognized that the true king of Jerusalem was Jehovah - Jehovah did not depend on humans.
Since the city of Jerusalem itself was the symbol of the Kingdom of God, not human kings, the latter could be removed without problems once the real King of Jerusalem is Jehovah himself – Psalms 149:1-2

Jesus himself, like David, recognized this fact by calling Jerusalem as “the city of the Great King." - Matthew 5:35

Remember also that it was the people and not Jehovah who had chosen a human kingship over them, like the nations, - Jehovah was sad about that: " it is I whom they have rejected from being king over them" - 1 Samuel 8:7

Please reflect further on this question: Was the Kingdom of God, symbolized in Jerusalem, 'very best represented' on earth when it had a human-like kingship 'sitting on the throne of God' with a crown and a turban than the situation of Jerusalem as presented after 607 BCE and its reconstruction?

To answer this question please note the actions and deals of some of the human kings (from the tribe of David) who “sat on the throne of Jehovah” in Jerusalem:

1 Kings 11:5-7
5 And Sol´o·mon began going after Ash´to·reth the goddess of the Si·do´ni·ans and after Mil´com the disgusting thing of the Am´mon·ites. 6 And Sol´o·mon began to do what was bad in the eyes of Jehovah, and he did not follow Jehovah fully like David his father.7 It was then that Sol´o·mon proceeded to build a high place to Che´mosh the disgusting thing of Mo´ab on the mountain that was in front of Jerusalem, and to Mo´lech the disgusting thing of the sons of Am´mon.

2 Chronicles 28:1-4
1 Twenty years old was A´haz when he began to reign, and for sixteen years he reigned in Jerusalem, and he did not do what was right in Jehovah’s eyes like David his forefather. 2 But he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and even molten statues he made of the Ba´als. 3 And he himself made sacrificial smoke in the valley of the son of Hin´nom and proceeded to burn up his sons in the fire, according to the detestable things of the nations that Jehovah had driven out from before the sons of Israel. 4 And he regularly sacrificed and made sacrificial smoke on the high places and upon the hills and under every sort of luxuriant tree.

2 Chronicles 33:1-25
1 Twelve years old was Ma·nas´seh when he began to reign, and for fifty-five years he reigned in Jerusalem.2 And he proceeded to do what was bad in Jehovah’s eyes, according to the detestable things of the nations that Jehovah had driven out from before the sons of Israel. 3 So he built again the high places that Hez·e·ki´ah his father had pulled down, and set up altars to the Ba´als and made sacred poles, and he began to bow down to all the army of the heavens and serve them. 4 And he built altars in the house of Jehovah, respecting which Jehovah had said: “In Jerusalem my name will prove to be to time indefinite.” 5 And he went on to build altars to all the army of the heavens in two courtyards of the house of Jehovah. 6 And he himself made his own sons pass through the fire in the valley of the son of Hin´nom, and practiced magic and used divination and practiced sorcery and made spiritistic mediums and professional foretellers of events. He did on a grand scale what was bad in the eyes of Jehovah, to offend him.

Frankly, Jerusalem has come to represent much better God's rulership after the removal of human king on her - with the end of human-like kingship, the Great King of this city would be only Jehovah, after all, Jerusalem should represent God's rulership, thus nothing better than Himself reign.

Yet another point to consider is the mistaken assumption that never again came to be a human king of the dynasty of David in Jerusalem after 607 BCE. This is not in harmony with the historical reality.
Was there a king of the tribe of David, who reigned in Jerusalem after 607 BCE?
Consider the Bible:

Matthew 27:11
11 Jesus now stood before the governor; and the governor put the question to him: “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replied:You yourself say [it].”

Matthew 27:37
37 Also, they posted above his head the charge against him, in writing: “This is Jesus the King of the Jews.

Luke 23:3
3 Now Pilate asked him the question: “Are you the king of the Jews? In answer to him he said: “You yourself are saying [it].”

John 19:14
14 ... And he said to the Jews: “See! YOUR king!” 15 However, they shouted: “Take [him] away! Take [him] away! Impale him!” Pilate said to them: “Shall I impale YOUR king?” The chief priests answered: “We have no king but Caesar.”

John 19:19
19 Pilate wrote a title also and put it on the torture stake. It was written: “Jesus the Naz·a·rene´ the King of the Jews.

Let us return to the question: was there a king in Jerusalem after 607 BCE from the house of David?

If we imagine a king must be dressed in soft robes, a turban, with a crown on his head sitting on a majestic throne in a splendid palace: the response will be: Take [him] away! Take [him] away! Impale him! “We have no king but Caesar.”

However, if a real king for us is related to doing the will of Jehovah, Yes!, after 607 BCE there was the Greatest King in Jerusalem - Jesus Christ (Luke 4:17-21 ).
It is obvious that Jesus' way of exercising his rulership was very different from the human kings in general.
Jesus did not reigned as the man who has authority in this world. He was not interested in political power neither in glory of men.
He reigned in Jerusalem in the same way that he will rule the kingdom of heaven:

For, look! the kingdom of God is in YOUR midst.”

Matthew 20:25-28
25 But Jesus, calling them to him, said: “YOU know that the rulers of the nations lord it over them and the great men wield authority over them. 26 This is not the way among YOU; but whoever wants to become great among YOU must be YOUR minister, 27 and whoever wants to be first among YOU must be YOUR slave. 28 Just as the Son of man came, not to be ministered to, but to minister and to give his soul a ransom in exchange for many.”

Tell the daughter of Zion [Jerusalem], ‘Look! Your King [Jesus] is coming to you”

Granted, Jesus was the greatest king that Jerusalem ever had (this after 607 BCE)!

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