How good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in
The congregation arrangement with its meetings, where fellow believers associate for mutual encouragement, is from Jehovah—like "every good gift and every perfect present that is from above." (James 1:17) Our heavenly Father knows that we need each other "to incite to love and fine works". (Heb. 10:23-25) Whereas we are persecuted in the world, the congregation should "prove to be like a hiding place from the wind and a concealment from the rainstorm, like streams of water in a waterless country." (John 16:33; Isa. 32:1,2; 4:5,6) We ought to find refreshment and encouragement among our fellow believers, and by our love for one another prove that we are indeed "a people for [God's] name". (John 13:34,35; Acts 15:14, 17)
the souls were four thousand and six hundred."
What do you picture in your mind, when you consider the number of Jews that went into exile in Babylon in Jeremiah's day? Do you visualize hundreds, or thousands; or perhaps hundreds of thousands? Maybe even millions? Did you know that exiles were taken to Babylon on three separate occasions; and that the greatest number were taken to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar when he came against Jerusalem the first time, during the reign of King Jehoiachin who was among the first exiles along with his royal family, besides many others?
Regarding the total number of Jews who came into Babylon, Jeremiah writes: "These are the people whom Nebuchadrez′zar took into exile: in the seventh year, three thousand and twenty-three Jews (3,023). In the eighteenth year of Nebuchadrez′zar, from Jerusalem there were eight hundred and thirty-two souls (832). In the twenty-third year of Nebuchadrez′zar, Nebu′zarad′an the chief of the bodyguard took Jews into exile, seven hundred and forty-five souls (745). All the souls were four thousand and six hundred (4,600)." Indeed, just a remnant. (Jer. 52:28-30)
Who were among these early ones to be taken into captivity in Babylon? Jeremiah describes them and the circumstances surrounding the first exiles:
"Eighteen years old was Jehoi′achin when he began to reign, and for three months he reigned in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Nehush′ta the daughter of Elna′than of Jerusalem.9 And he continued to do what was bad in Jehovah’s eyes, according to all that his father had done. 10 During that time the servants of Nebuchadnez′zar the king of Babylon came up to Jerusalem, so that the city came under siege. 11 And Nebuchadnez′zar the king of Babylon proceeded to come against the city, while his servants were laying siege against it. 12 At length Jehoi′achin the king of Judah went out to the king of Babylon, he with his mother and his servants and his princes and his court officials; and the king of Babylon got to take him in the eighth year of his being king. 13 Then he brought out from there all the treasures of the house of Jehovah and the treasures of the king’s house . . . 14 And he took into exile all Jerusalem and all the princes and all the valiant, mighty men—ten thousand (10,000) he was taking into exile—and also every craftsman and builder of bulwarks. No one had been left behind except the lowly class of the people of the land. 15 Thus he took Jehoi′achin into exile to Babylon; and the king’s mother and the king’s wives and his court officials and the foremost men of the land he led away as exiled people from Jerusalem to Babylon. 16 As for all the valiant men, seven thousand (7,000), and the craftsmen and the builders of bulwarks, a thousand (1,000), all the mighty men carrying on war, the king of Babylon proceeded to bring them as exiled people to Babylon." (2 Kings 24:8-16)
Why does there seem to be a discrepancy in the number of exiles taken to
Babylon between the account in Jeremiah 52:28-30 and that of 2 Kings
24:8-16, seeing that both were written by Jeremiah? In the first
instance, Jeremiah emphasizes the number of Jews that were
taken into exile; whereas the account in 2 Kings includes the
great number of non-Jews, alien residents, that resided in Jerusalem and
Judah. (Exodus 12:48,49; 23:9; Ezek. 14:7,8)
Jerusalem was "the city that was abundant with people", yet a mere "remnant" survived her destruction. (Lam. 1:1; Jer. 44:14) Jehovah referred to the early exiles as a basket of "good figs", who would be blessed in the land of their captivity and return after 70 years. But the latter exiles, who had ignored Jehovah's instruction for them to go voluntarily over to the Babylonians, he likened to a basket of "bad figs", and they would suffer the consequence: "And like the bad figs that cannot be eaten for badness, this in fact is what Jehovah has said: 'So I shall give Zedeki′ah the king of Judah and his princes and the remnant of Jerusalem who are remaining over in this land and those who are dwelling in the land of Egypt— I will also give them over for quaking, for calamity, in all the kingdoms of the earth, for reproach and for a proverbial saying, for a taunt and for a malediction, in all the places to which I shall disperse them. And I will send against them the sword, the famine and the pestilence, until they come to their finish off the ground that I gave to them and to their forefathers.'" (Jer. 24:8-10; 21:7-10; 27:12-14)
The 3,023 Jews, who were taken into exile during Nebuchadnezzar's first campaign against Jerusalem, were blessed by Jehovah and increased in numbers so that 42,360 Jews made the long journey back to Jerusalem at the end of the seventy years, not counting the many non-Jews that accompanied them. (Ezra 2:64,65) In view of all this, we might be inclined to wonder: After Jehovah has cleansed his people in "the last days" ― having removed all the wicked ones from their midst ― just how many will be left remaining? Although they are called "a great crowd" who "come out of the great tribulation", Jesus also said that "many, I tell you, will seek to get in but will not be able." (Matt. 7:21-23; 13:40-43, 49; Luke 13:23-27; 2 Tim. 3:1-7; 1 Peter 4:17-19; Rev. 7:9,10, 13-17)
accord with the fulfilling of seventy years at Babylon..."
For over a hundred years, the Watchtower has dogmatically maintained their claim that Jerusalem, with God's temple, was destroyed by the Babylonians in 607 B.C.E., in spite of scriptural evidence to the contrary. Why is this date so important to the Society? Because it is pivotal to their claim that Jesus appointed the Society's president (and later also the board of directors as a governing body) as his "faithful and discrete slave" over God's household, shortly after he is said to have been enthroned as king of God's kingdom in 1914. (See the book Reasoning from the Scriptures, pages 95-98, under the heading "Why do Jehovah’s Witnesses say that God’s Kingdom was established in 1914?"―published by the Watchtower Society.)
Why does the Society claim that Jerusalem was destroyed in 607 B.C.E.? Because the exile of God's people in Babylon was to last seventy years, which, according to the Society began with the destruction of Jerusalem. After the seventy years, God would restore his people to their homeland to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. A Watchtower article, entitled, "Things From Which We Must Flee", stated: "The prophet Jeremiah foretold the destruction of Jerusalem that occurred in 607 B.C.E. He said that God’s people would be carried into captivity but would be restored to their homeland after 'seventy years.' (Jer. 29:4, 10)" (w08 6/15 p. 8 par. 8) Since it is widely accepted that the Babylonian empire fell to the Medes and Persians in 539 B.C.E., and since the Jews were released from exile about 537 B.C.E., the Society simply counts back seventy years from 537 B.C.E., to arrive at 607 B.C.E., the year they claim Jerusalem fell. Sounds logical? But the question is: Did the foretold "seventy years" of exile in Babylon begin with the destruction of Jerusalem?
It was to his prophet Jeremiah that Jehovah revealed the time period of seventy years of exile in Babylon, as Jeremiah wrote: "For this is what Jehovah has said, ‘In accord with the fulfilling of seventy years at Babylon I shall turn my attention to you people, and I will establish toward you my good word in bringing you back to this place.’" (Jer. 29:10) Please note carefully to whom Jeremiah addressed those words. He says: "And these are the words of the letter that Jeremiah the prophet sent from Jerusalem to the remainder of the older men of the exiled people and to the priests and to the prophets and to all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, after Jeconiah the king and the lady and the court officials, the princes of Judah and Jerusalem, and the craftsmen and the builders of bulwarks had gone forth from Jerusalem." Jeremiah wrote regarding the number of seventy years in exile to the exiles who were already in Babylon a full decade before Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians. Interestingly, this is what Insight on the Scriptures says regarding these exiles: "In 617 B.C.E., King Nebuchadnezzar took the royal court and the foremost men of Judah into exile at Babylon. (2Ki 24:11-16) About ten years later, in 607 B.C.E., at the fall of Jerusalem to Babylon, Nebuzaradan, the chief of the Babylonian bodyguard, took most of the remaining ones and deserters of the Jews with him to Babylon, from which exile only a mere remnant returned 70 years later."―it-1 p. 775 Exile.
Have you noticed the discrepancy? If indeed the early, first exiles, which included King Jehoiachin (also called Jeconiah), and his "royal court and the foremost men of Judah" (among them Daniel the prophet and his three faithful Hebrew companions, and also the prophet Ezekiel), were taken by King Nebuchadnezzar into exile in Babylon in 617 B.C.E., and only a mere remnant of them returned 70 years later, would that not place their release from captivity in 547 B.C.E., rather than 537 B.C.E. as is taught? With those dates in mind, if their release indeed took place in 537 B.C.E., as stated elsewhere, then would those early exiles not have been in Babylon for 80 years rather than God's foretold 70 years? (See 2 Kings 24:8-17; Daniel 1:1-7; 9:1,2)
What was Jeremiah's purpose in the first place in writing to those early exiles in Babylon regarding the duration of 70 years? Well, Jehovah had told them to "build houses and inhabit them, and plant gardens and eat their fruitage. Take wives and become father to sons and to daughters; and take wives for your own sons and give your own daughters to husbands, that they may give birth to sons and to daughters; and become many there, and do not become few. Also, seek the peace of the city to which I have caused you to go into exile, and pray in its behalf to Jehovah, for in its peace there will prove to be peace for you yourselves." In other words, Jehovah was telling the exiles that they would reside in Babylon a long time, namely seventy years. This was contrary to what the false prophets among the exiles were preaching, saying that God would within a short time procure their release and have them return to their homeland. That is why Jehovah told his people: "Let not your prophets who are in among you and your practicers of divination deceive you, and do not you listen to their dreams that they are dreaming. For ‘it is in falsehood that they are prophesying to you in my name. I have not sent them,’ is the utterance of Jehovah.'" (Jer. 29:1-10; 28:1-17)
Seeing that Jehovah decreed that the exile of his people in Babylon would last a full seventy years; and if indeed their release came in 537 B.C.E., two years after Babylon fell to the Medes and Persians, then, counting back seventy years would bring us to 607 B.C.E., not as the year of Jerusalem's destruction, but rather the year when the first exiles were taken into Babylon. The fall of Jerusalem came over eleven years later, or in 596 B.C.E., "in the twelfth year, in the tenth month of our exile," as recorded by the prophet Ezekiel. (Ezek. 33:21; 1:1,2) Since the date of Jerusalem's destruction clearly is not 607 B.C.E. but 596 B.C.E., the Society's teaching of Jesus' return in 1914 in kingdom power (as explained in the book Reasoning from the Scriptures) is invalid. It is based on a lie. In fact, the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians has nothing at all to do with the timing of Christ's return. There is simply no way of calculating that date from the Scriptures. Jesus told his disciples that no one can know that day and hour, neither the angels nor Jesus himself, for the Father has not revealed that information anywhere. That should not surprise us for Jesus also said that it does not belong to us "to get knowledge of the times or seasons which the Father has placed in his own jurisdiction." (Matt. 24:23-25, 36; Acts 1:7) Indeed, for anyone to reach out for something that God tells us does not belong to us makes the person guilty of "outright revolt against Jehovah"; such as was the case of the false prophet Shemaiah of Nehelam in Jeremiah's day, who was preaching falsehood in God's name. (Jer. 29:24-32)
We do not need to be told in advance the day or the hour, or even the year, of Jesus' return in kingdom glory. Jesus gave us signs that would indicate the nearness of his presence. (Matt. 24:32,33; 42-44) If you were living during the time of Jeremiah, would you have been able to distinguish between a true prophet and a false prophet―between God's words and the lies taught by men? We today face a similar situation, with similar consequence. (Deut. 18:20-22; 1 Cor. 10:11,12; 2 Thess. 2:9-12; 2 Peter 2:1-3)
in the Translation
How many languages are there in the world? According to Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Twentieth edition, there are 7,099 languages spoken today. It says: "That number is constantly in flux, because we're learning more about the world's languages every day. And beyond that, the languages themselves are in flux. They’re living and dynamic, spoken by communities whose lives are shaped by our rapidly changing world. This is a fragile time: Roughly a third of languages are now endangered, often with less than 1,000 speakers remaining. Meanwhile, just 23 languages account for more than half the world’s population." (Bold added)
Mankind's many divers languages did not originate from simple grunts and other primitive vocalization uttered by prehistoric cavemen; for the study of the structure of languages (Linguistics) indicates that the most ancient languages were indeed very complex. In fact, in the beginning there was only one language―Hebrew. It was shortly after the flood of Noah's day when God confused the language of the men who set about to build a city with a tower "with its top in the heavens," in order to unite themselves under false worship. God put an end to their ambitious project by confusing their language, so that they were no longer able to communicate with one another; and thus they not only left off building their tower, but also they were scattered from there over all the earth according to their language. (Gen. 11:1-9)
Throughout history, the language barrier has effectively divided mankind into national and ethnic groups, separated into distinct territories with their borders; which has often resulted in wars of conquests, and given birth to unique and diverse customs and traditions. But, above all, it has contributed to the greatest divisive factor of all, namely, mankind's approximate 4,200 religions today, of which there are 11 basic religions. And although the world's conflicting religions continue to divide earth's population, yet, the rapid progress in modern technology is starting to overcome the language barrier. This greatly facilitates the preaching of the "good news of the kingdom" that Jesus said would be preached "in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come." (Matt. 24:14)
In order to have a meaningful share in the preaching of the good news of the kingdom "in all the inhabited earth", you no longer need to learn another language, or many diverse languages, such as in the case of Powell Alexander Janulus (born in 1939, Vancouver Canada), who was entered into the Guinness World Records in 1985 for spoken fluency in 42 languages. ("Powell states that he considers himself skilled in 64 languages and says that he has studied at least 80 languages.") With Google Translate anyone can instantly translate words, phrases, and web pages between English and over 100 other languages.
Since we are greatly concerned with loyally upholding the accuracy of God's word of truth, how dependable is "Google Translate" when it comes to translating one Scripture into another language? Does the message get lost in the translation? I decided to test this by translating John 3:16-17 into 22 different languages, from English to French; and then from French to Greek; and then from Greek to German; and then from German to Albanian; etc. etc., ending with Latin; with each progressive translation showing in English if and where and how the message changed. Although "Google Translate" was surprisingly accurate in translating the message from English to a second language, it did not fare so well when it comes to successive translations.
John 3:16-17 reads: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him." (New American Standard Bible) And after 22 translations, the message has changed to: "God, loses life in Stranglehold is not a decrease. God into the world to condemn the world, who sent his son was not beloved country of his son into the world. It can not be saved." (To see the separate results for all 22 translations, click HERE.)
In the near future, there will no more be any need for computer translating programs to communicate with one another, for under God's kingdom all "will be persons taught by Jehovah", speaking the same language; "in order to serve him shoulder to shoulder." (Isa. 54:13; Zeph. 3:9)
yourself faithful even to death, and I will give you the crown of life."
The Scriptures prophesied that "in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here." (2 Tim. 3:1-7) The contents of Paul's words indicate that he is describing the situation that would exist during the last days (which Jesus called "the conclusion of the system of things") to God's people, within our own congregations; and not the world in general as many believe. (Matt. 24:3)
We are now experiencing the foretold time of testing and sifting of God's household. (Matt. 13:40-43; Dan. 12:3, 10; Mal. 3:14-18; 1 Peter 4:17-19) It is therefore necessary that all of us need to demonstrate, even under suffering, the sort of person we are at heart; to prove the genuineness of our love for Jehovah and his word of truth; and that we have faith in all his promises, so much so that it affects our attitude in everything we do. (John 4:23,24; 17:17)
This point is illustrated by Jesus in his parable of the seed sown upon four types of soil; the seed being the "word of God", and the soil upon which the seed falls representing the heart. Regarding the seed that falls upon the rock-mass, Jesus said: "Those upon the rock-mass are the ones who, when they hear it, receive the word with joy, but these have no root; they believe for a season, but in a season of testing they fall away. As for that which fell among the thorns, these are the ones that have heard, but, by being carried away by anxieties and riches and pleasures of this life, they are completely choked and bring nothing to perfection. As for that on the fine soil, these are the ones that, after hearing the word with a fine and good heart, retain it and bear fruit with endurance." (Luke 8:11-15)
As we can see from Jesus' words, Jehovah must allow us to be tested under trial. That applies to all of God's people. (Luke 22:31,32) But, rather than letting your unjust suffering separate you from Jehovah, perhaps even causing you to stumble and fall away in the mistaken belief that Jehovah no longer cares for you, you can at such times actually draw closer to Him with the assurance that your suffering matters to him. He sees your pain and affliction, and he hears your pleadings for help. He invites you to "throw your burden upon Jehovah himself, and he himself will sustain you. Never will he allow the righteous one to totter." (Psalms 55:22) With the help and comfort of his holy spirit, you will be able to endure, even "with joy". (Dan. 11:35; Matt. 10:21,22; James 1:2-4)
Perhaps, such Scriptures as the following may provide needed encouragement when you are in need of God's help:
(Psalm 9:9-10) And Jehovah
will become a secure height for anyone crushed, A secure height in times
10 And those knowing your
name will trust in you, For you will certainly not leave those looking
for you, O Jehovah.
(Psalm 27:9-10, 14) Do not conceal your face from me. Do not in anger turn your servant away. My assistance you must become. Do not forsake me and do not leave me, O my God of salvation. 10 In case my own father and my own mother did leave me, Even Jehovah himself would take me up. 14 Hope in Jehovah; be courageous and let your heart be strong. Yes, hope in Jehovah.
(Psalm 28:6-9) Blessed be Jehovah, for he has heard the voice of my entreaties. 7 Jehovah is my strength and my shield. In him my heart has trusted, And I have been helped, so that my heart exults, And with my song I shall laud him. 8 Jehovah is a strength to his people, And he is a stronghold of the grand salvation of his anointed one. 9 Do save your people, and bless your inheritance; And shepherd them and carry them to time indefinite.
(Psalm 34:18-19) Jehovah is near to those that are broken at heart; And those who are crushed in spirit he saves. 19 Many are the calamities of the righteous one, But out of them all Jehovah delivers him.
We cannot make our problems go away at this time, and neither can we expect to live in peace while still living under Satan's rule; but we have Jehovah's assurance that he is loyal and sustains us in our time of need and distress. He expects his loyal servants to be a source of encouragement to their fellow brothers and sisters in times of need. For that very reason we need each other, and our association. That is the point the apostle Paul is highlighting regarding the need for us to meet together. It is our love for one another that identifies us as genuine disciples of Jesus, and worshipers of the only true God, Jehovah. If a fellow brother or sister, even an elder, becomes a stumbling block to anyone, Jehovah himself will hold him accountable. (Heb. 10:24,25; John 13:34,35; Matt. 5:44-48; 18:6,7)
(8/7/17 ― )
Additional pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11