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"Babylon The Great Has Fallen!"
God's Kingdom Rules!



PART TWO

Chapter 19

Messiah Comes to Zion


"SAY, you people, to the daughter of Zion, 'Look! Your salvation is coming. Look! The reward he gives is with him, and the wages he pays are before him.'" Who gave this command? The introductory part of Isaiah 62:11 answers, saying: "Look! Jehovah himself has caused it to be heard to the farthest part of the earth." Jehovah gave this command after he had told Zion (Jerusalem) that she would have a change of designation. This would describe her change of condition after she had been destroyed by Babylon in 607 B.C. and had lain desolate for seventy years. To her he said: "No more will you be said to be a woman left entirely; and your own land will no more be said to be desolate; but you yourself will be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Owned as a Wife. For Jehovah will have taken delight in you, and your own land will be owned as a wife." — Isaiah 62:4.

Some years after Zion began to be rebuilt in 537 B.C., Jehovah inspired his prophet Zechariah to say something similar to Isaiah 62:11, in these words: "Be very joyful, O daughter of Zion. Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem. Look! Your king himself comes to you. He is righteous, yes, saved; humble, and riding

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upon an ass, even upon a full-grown animal the son of a she-ass." (Zechariah 9:9) This meant that Zion was to be favored with a visit by the foretold Messiah, the One whom Jehovah would anoint with holy spirit to be the King in the kingdom that Jehovah would set up.

Long before the Messiah came, Greek-speaking Jews of Alexandria, Egypt, made a translation of the inspired Hebrew Scriptures. In this translation known as the Greek Septuagint Version, the Messiah is given the Greek title "Christ," which, like Messiah, means Anointed One. The Messiah or Christ had to have a certain line of descent. He had to be a descendant of the patriarch Abraham, hence a son of Abraham. But in his descent from Abraham he had to be a descendant of King David, hence a son of David. Thus he had to have a natural claim on the kingship of Zion and, as such, be the promised Seed of Abraham for blessing all the families and nations of the earth. (2 Samuel 7:8-17; Genesis 12:3; 22:18) Hence his lineage was very important. If the one hailed as Messiah or Christ did not have this line of descent, he could not be the promised King of Zion.

The Messiah's line of descent is faithfully and satisfactorily given to us in the writings made by footstep followers of the Messiah or Christ. It is interesting to note that, in the Messianic lineage briefly traced for us by the Christian apostle Matthew Levi, he uses the deportation of the Israelites to Babylon as well as the kingship of David of Bethlehem as dividing points.

Matthew begins the Messianic genealogy with Abraham, who left the city of Ur of the Chaldeans, below Babylon, and runs it down through Isaac and Jacob to David; then from David down to King Jeconiah (or, Jehoiachin), saying: "Josiah became father to Jeconiah and to his brothers at the time of the deportation to Babylon. After the deportation to Babylon Jeconiah became father to Shealtiel; Shealtiel became father to Zerubbabel." From there he runs the line of descent to

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its end, saying: "Jacob became father to Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ. All the generations, then, from Abraham until David were fourteen generations, and from David until the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon until the Christ fourteen generations." — Matthew 1:1-17.

Matthew does not say that Joseph the carpenter was the natural father of this Jesus "who is called Christ." Matthew proceeds to prove this by showing that Jesus' birth did not follow the natural way of procreation but was different, miraculous. Hence Matthew says: "But the birth of Jesus Christ was in this way." In what way? In that Mary of Bethlehem, while still a virgin and so before Joseph married her, had become pregnant by means of God's holy spirit; and this miracle was performed in order to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14. Mary's miraculous son would therefore have the right to the name Immanuel, which means "With Us Is God." However, God's angel, who told Joseph to go ahead and marry the pregnant Mary, said that the boy's name must be called Jesus, this shortened name meaning "Jehovah Is Salvation." The boy was going to live up to the meaning of this name, "for he will save his people from their sins." — Matthew 1:18-23.

Properly, Joseph adopted Jesus, as Jesus was actually the firstborn natural son of Mary. However, Mary was a natural descendant of King David, for which reason Jesus was a natural descendant of David and thus had a claim on the kingship of Zion. (Luke 3:23-31;_2:7) In support of this the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians at Rome: "Paul, a slave of Jesus Christ and called to be an apostle, separated to God's good news, which he promised aforetime through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who sprang from the seed of David according to the flesh, but who with power was declared God's Son according to the spirit

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of holiness by means of resurrection from the dead —  yes, Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 1:1-4) By birth Jesus was not the son of Joseph but was the Son of God by means of the Jewish virgin, Mary. This was brought about through God's invisible operation of his holy spirit. Jesus thus met all the genealogical requirements.

Although the virgin Jewess Mary became pregnant up in Nazareth of Galilee, she gave birth to Jesus in Bethlehem of Judah, in order to fulfill the prophecy of Micah 5:2. (Matthew 2:4-6: John 7:42) Judah was then a province in the Roman Empire, and Jesus was born at Bethlehem in early autumn of 2 B.C., or in the latter half of the reign of Caesar Augustus of Rome. By then Augustus had been the pagan religious Pontifex Maximus for ten years.* — Luke 2:1-7.

Tiberius succeeded Caesar Augustus as emperor and Pontifex Maximus. During Tiberius' reign Jehovah God declared audibly to human ears that Jesus the son of David, the son of Abraham, was His son. This was when Jesus was thirty years old, or in the year 29 (A.D.). This date is fixed on a correct calculation, because it is the end of the sixty-nine weeks of years foretold in Daniel 9:25, in these words: "From the going forth of the word to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Leader, there will be seven weeks, also sixty-two weeks [7+62 = 69]. She will return and be actually rebuilt, with a public square" and moat, but in the straits of the times."† At his due time Jehovah God poured down his holy spirit on Jesus and anointed him thus to be the Messiah (or, Christ) the Leader. Then he audibly declared Jesus to be His Son.

The man who heard this declaration from heaven tells us about it. This was the man called John the


* After Julius Caesar died, Augustus became a member of a Roman triumvirate with Antony and Lepidus. In 44 B.C. Lepidus was appointed to the office of Pontifex Maximus and held it for the rest of his life. After he died, in 12 B.C., the office of Pontifex Maximus was taken up by the Roman Emperor Augustus, who passed it on to his successor in the office of emperor. — See Br1, Volume 16, page 479a.
† See pages 385, paragraph 2, to 388, paragraph 2, of this book.
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Baptist, the son of priest Zechariah. Some days after baptizing Jesus in water John said to a number of his disciples: "This is the one about whom I said, Behind me there comes a man who has advanced in front of me, because he existed before me. Even I did not know him, but the reason why I came baptizing in water was that he might be made manifest to Israel." "John also bore witness, saying: 'I viewed the spirit coming down as a dove out of heaven, and it remained upon him. Even I did not know him, but the very One who sent me to baptize in water said to me, "Whoever it is upon whom you see the spirit coming down and remaining, this is the one that baptizes in holy spirit." And I have seen it, and I have borne witness that this one is the Son of God.' " (John 1:30-34) This Son of God existed before John the Baptist because he had existed in heaven as a spirit son of God. His life was transferred from heaven to the womb of the Jewish virgin that he might be born as a human son named Jesus.

The declaration that Jesus was God's Son came after he was anointed with holy spirit to be "Messiah the Leader." On this fact we have the testimony of the apostle Matthew Levi, who writes:

"Then Jesus came from Galilee [in which Nazareth was located] to the Jordan [River] to John, in order to be baptized by him. But the latter tried to prevent him, saying: 'I am the one needing to be baptized by you, and are you coming to me?' In reply Jesus said to him: 'Let it be, this time, for in that way it is suitable for us to carry out all that is righteous.' Then he quit preventing him. After being baptized Jesus immediately came up from the water; and, look! the heavens were opened up, and he saw descending like a dove God's spirit coming upon him. Look! Also, there was a voice from the heavens that said: "This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved.' "  — Matthew 3:13-17; 2:22, 23.

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This record is backed up as genuine by similar testimony of two other Christian disciples, Mark and Luke. (Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-23) On such testimony we accept Jesus as God's Son and the Christ.

John the Baptist said he came to fulfill an important prophecy of Isaiah. As to how he applied Isaiah's prophecy we read:

"Now this is the witness of John when the Jews sent forth priests and Levites from Jerusalem to him to ask him: 'Who are you?' And he confessed and did not deny, but confessed: 'I am not the Christ.' And they asked him: 'What, then? Are you Elijah?' And he said: 'I am not.' 'Are you The Prophet?' And he answered: 'No!' Therefore they said to him: 'Who are you? that we may give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?' He said: 'I am a voice of someone crying out in the wilderness, "Make the way of Jehovah straight," just as Isaiah the prophet said.' Now those sent forth were from the Pharisees."  — John 1:19-24.

John applied the prophecy of Isaiah 40:3 under inspiration of God's holy spirit. His application is accepted by the apostle Matthew, who writes: "In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying: 'Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.' This, in fact, is the one spoken of through Isaiah the prophet in these words: 'Listen! Someone is crying out in the wilderness, "Prepare the way of Jehovah, you people! Make his roads straight." ' " (Matthew 3:1-3) Also, Mark and Luke accept the way that John the Baptist applied the prophecy of Isaiah 40: 3 in the year 29 (A.D.) . — Mark 1:1-4; Luke 3:1-6.

COMING OUT OF RELIGIOUS EXILE

Luke 3:1-6 plainly fixes the date as A.D. 29 by stating that this began in the "fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor

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of Judea, and Herod was district ruler of Galilee, . . . in the days of chief priest Annas and of Caiaphas." This did not mean that the Jewish chief priest Annas was Pontifex Maximus in the Roman Province of Judea, or that his son-in-law Caiaphas was a member of the college of pontifices or pontiffs. The pagan Roman emperor, Tiberius, was the Pontifex Maximus. The college of sixteen pontiffs consisted of all pagans.*

Annas and Caiaphas and John the Baptist the son of priest Zechariah were no Pontiffs or Pontifices. They were each a cohén (Hebrew) or a hiereús (Greek) or a sacérdos (Latin Vulgate Bible). (Luke 1:5; 3:2) Tiberius became Caesar and Pontifex Maximus after Caesar Augustus died on August 19, A.D. 14. So the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar ran from August 19, A.D. 28, to August 18, A.D. 29. Before this fifteenth year ran out, John the Baptist became the foretold one "crying out in the wilderness, 'Prepare the way of Jehovah, you people, make his roads straight.' "


* Pontifex Maximus Julius Caesar increased the number of the pontiffs in the college to sixteen. Says Br1, Volume 22, page 66b, under PONTIFEX: "The name is clearly derived from pons [bridge] and facere [to make] but whether this should be taken as indicating any special connection with the sacred bridge over the Tiber (Pons Sublicius), or what the original meaning may have been, cannot now be determined. The college existed under the monarchy [of Rome], when its members were probably three in number; they may safely be considered as legal advisers of the rex [king] in all matters of religion. Under the republic [of Rome] they emerged into prominence under a pontifex maximus [greatest bridgemaker], who took over the king's duties as chief administrator of religious law, . . . They all held office for life. The immense authority of the college centered in the pontifex maximus, the other pontifices forming his consilium or advising body. His functions were partly sacrificial or ritualistic, but these were the least Important; the real power lay in the administration of the jus divinum [divine right], ... It is obvious that a priesthood having such functions as these, and holding office for life, must have been a great power in the state, and for the first three centuries of the republic it is possible that the pontifex maximus was in fact the most powerful member. . . . Julius Caesar held it for the last twenty years of his life, and Augustus took it after the death of Lepidus in 12 B.C., after which it became inseparable from the office of the reigning emperor. With the decay of the [Roman] empire the title very naturally fell to the popes, whose functions as administrators of religious law closely resembled those of the ancient Roman priesthood, hence the modern use of 'pontiff' and 'pontifical.' " See page 404.
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In fact, John became this one in the spring of A.D. 29, or about six months before he baptized Jesus in autumn of that year.

It is important to notice that the prophecy that John the Baptist thus fulfilled really had a relationship to the return of the faithful Jewish remnant from their exile in Babylon back to Zion. This is plain from the context of Isaiah's prophecy. Immediately after telling, in chapter thirty-nine, how the things that King Hezekiah had stored up in his palace at Jerusalem would be carried to Babylon and that some of Hezekiah's descendants would be made court officials in the palace of the king of Babylon, Isaiah opens up chapter forty, saying, in verses 1-5:

" 'Comfort, comfort my people,' says the God of you men. 'Speak to the heart of Jerusalem and call out to her that her military service has been fulfilled, that her error has been paid off. For from the hand of Jehovah she has received a full amount for all her sins.' Listen! Someone is calling out in the wilderness: 'Clear up the way of Jehovah, you people! Make the highway for our God through the desert plain straight. Let every valley be raised up, and every mountain and hill be made low. And the knobby ground must become level land, and the rugged ground a valley plain. And the glory of Jehovah will certainly be revealed, and all flesh must see it together, for the very mouth of Jehovah has spoken it.' "

This prophecy foretold how, by means of King Cyrus the Persian, the way would be smoothed out for the Jews to leave their long exile in Babylon and return to their beloved homeland to rebuild their holy city and its temple. All this, of course, brought great comfort to Jerusalem and glory to her God Jehovah. The "glory of Jehovah" was thus revealed, for all human flesh to see. Isaiah 52:12 foretold that Jehovah would be going before the returning exiles and that he would be their rear guard. For that reason the preparing of the way

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for the exiles to return could be spoken of as preparing or clearing up the way of Jehovah and making the highway for their God straight. However, Jehovah did not visibly go before them. History of the prophecy's fulfillment shows that Governor Zerubbabel, who was a descendant of King David and an ancestor of Jesus Christ, led the faithful remnant out of Babylon under Jehovah's unseen guidance and protection, in 537 B.C.

Hence, in fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 40:3, which had the Babylonian exile as its background, John the Baptist was carrying forward an extension of the return of the Israelites from exile. What exile? A religious exile like that in ancient Babylon, even though they were already back in Jerusalem and the land of Judah.

In John's day Babylon on the Euphrates River was still in existence, unconquered by the Romans; but it did not have its ancient splendor and was no longer a world power.* Rome was then the world power, the sixth in Bible history.

Prophecies that had a Babylonian background were fulfilled in John's day. This proves that there was then, so to speak, a religious coming out of Babylon and a returning to Jehovah's worship. In a religious way John cleared up Jehovah's way and straightened the highway through the desert plain for God, but not that Jehovah God might literally go over that way, any more than such a thing occurred in the days of Zerubbabel in 537 B.C. In actuality John expected and prepared for the coming of Jehovah's Messiah or Christ. He was to baptize this representative of Jehovah in water. Afterward he testified that this one was, not Jehovah, but his Son.

Directly after Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River he went into the wilderness of Judea for forty days to


* See the preceding chapter, pages 395, paragraph 2, and 396, paragraph 1, of this book.
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himself. There he overcame the heart-searching temptations that Satan the Devil put before him. (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13) Jesus knew that John the Baptist was appointed to fulfill prophecy and prepare a people for Jehovah. (Luke 1:13-17) Accordingly Jesus went back to John, who was then "in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing." Priests and Levites from Jerusalem had just been there to ask John what part he played in fulfillment of prophecy. "The next day he beheld Jesus coming toward him, and he said: 'See, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world!' " — John 1:28. 29.

John's words meant that Jesus was to be sacrificed like a lamb provided by God himself. The using of a lamb as a picture may refer to the male sheep that Abraham offered up instead of his son Isaac on Mount Moriah nineteen centuries previously; or to the passover lamb that was slain down in Egypt for the deliverance of the enslaved Israelites; or to the male lamb that was offered up on God's altar at Jerusalem each morning and evening. (Genesis 22:9-14; Exodus 12:1-28; 29:38-42; Numbers 28:1-10) The Christian apostle Paul was likening Jesus Christ to a lamb when he wrote: "Christ our passover has been sacrificed."  — 1 Corinthians 5:7.

For the lamblike Jesus to "take away the sin of the world," it meant that his human blood would have to be shed. He would have to become like a slaughtered lamb. (Isaiah 53:7; Revelation 5:6-9) This had to be according to the rule stated in Hebrews 9:22: "Nearly all things are cleansed with blood according to the Law, and unless blood is poured out no forgiveness takes place."

There is no record that, at the first announcement of Jesus as the Lamb of God, some of the disciples of John the Baptist began to follow Jesus as God's Son anointed with holy spirit. But what about the next day? "Again the next day John was standing with two of his

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disciples, and as he looked at Jesus walking he said: 'See, the Lamb of God!' And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned and, getting a view of them following, he said to them: 'What are you looking for?' They said to him: 'Rabbi, (which means, when translated, Teacher,) where are you staying?' He said to them: 'Come, and you will see.' Accordingly they went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day; it was about the tenth hour [4 p.m.]. Andrew the brother of Simon Peter was one of the two that heard what John said and followed Jesus. First this one found his own brother, Simon, and said to him: 'We have found the Messiah' (which means, when translated, Christ). He led him to Jesus. When Jesus looked upon him he said: 'You are Simon the son of John; you will be called Cephas' (which is translated Peter)." Peter and Andrew his brother did not then leave everything to follow Jesus continually. That came later, in Galilee. — John 1:35-42; Matthew 4:18-23.

The following spring, in the year 30 (A.D.), Jesus attended the Passover celebration in Jerusalem and cleansed the temple of those who were trying to make a commercial business out of God's worship. "And he said to those selling the doves: 'Take these things away from here! Stop making the house of my Father a house of merchandise!' " Disciples of Jesus were then with him. (John 2:13-17) It was after this that John the Baptist was arrested and put in prison by Herod the district ruler. For that reason Jesus left Judea and went north through Samaria. "Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee." (Matthew 4:12; 14:1-5; John 4:1-4, 43-45; Luke 4:14, 15) He had been raised to manhood in Galilee, at the town of Nazareth. The Nazarenes had known him as a carpenter the son of Joseph the carpenter. Jesus knew that in his own land a prophet of Jehovah God has no honor. Yet Jesus purposed to visit Nazareth and pre-

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sent himself as a prophet of God anointed with holy spirit. Where and how did he present himself?

"He came to Nazareth, where he had been reared; and, according to his custom on the sabbath day, he entered into the synagogue, and he stood up to read. So the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed him, and he opened the scroll and found the place where it was written: 'Jehovah's spirit is upon me, because he anointed me to declare good news to the poor, he sent me forth to preach a release to the captives and a recovery of sight to the blind, to send the crushed ones away with a release, to preach Jehovah's acceptable year.' With that he rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were intently fixed upon him. Then he started to say to them: 'Today this scripture that you just heard is fulfilled.' "

Fulfilled in what way? In that Jesus had been anointed with Jehovah's spirit at the Jordan River after his water baptism and now he was preaching good news to Jehovah's oppressed people. However, the Nazarenes did not attribute to Jehovah's holy spirit the ability of the former carpenter Jesus to preach. As he talked on, they took offense at what he said. Finally, in anger, "they rose up and hurried him outside the city, and they led him to the brow of the mountain upon which their city had been built, in order to throw him down headlong. But he went through the midst of them and continued on his way," to another city, Capernaum. — Luke 4:16-31.

The prophecy that Jesus read to the Nazarenes from Isaiah's scroll is something worth noting. What he quoted from it is found in chapter sixty-one, verses one and two, and reads: "The spirit of the Lord Jehovah is upon me, for the reason that Jehovah has anointed me to tell good news to the meek ones. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to those taken captive and the wide opening of

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the eyes even to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of good will on the part of Jehovah and the day of vengeance on the part of our God; to comfort all the mourning ones." Which mourning ones? The next verse (three) indicates by saying: "To assign to those mourning over Zion, to give them a headdress instead of ashes, the oil of exultation instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of the downhearted spirit; and they must be called big trees of righteousness, the planting of Jehovah, for him to be beautified." — Isaiah 61:1-3.

According to what it says, and according to the chapter immediately preceding, this prophecy that Jesus applied to himself bears a reference to the seventy-year desolation of Zion or Jerusalem and the exile of the Israelites in Babylon. The preceding chapter, verse one, addresses itself, in the first instance, to Zion and calls out: "Arise, O woman, shed forth light, for your light has come and upon you the very glory of Jehovah has shone forth." (Isaiah 60:1) After that the chapter tells how her sons will be regathered and how she will grow as a city, and then it closes with the assurance: "I myself, Jehovah, shall speed it up in its own time."

That was good news to Zion or Jerusalem. It was very fitting, then, that right after those words the person who would be anointed by Jehovah to tell this good news to Zion should speak up and should describe how this work is one of liberation for the sake of comforting the ones "mourning over Zion." During their exile in Babylon they had been mourning over the desolated condition of Zion and God's temple. When Jesus preached throughout the Roman provinces in Palestine, he was, in effect, inviting the Israelites in religious exile to come out of a religious Babylon, even though the Israelites were then back in the land of Judah since 537 B.C.

We can appreciate how much need for religious liberation of those Israelites there was when conditions

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were so bad that John the Baptist felt constrained to say to Pharisees and Sadducees who came to him for baptism: "You offspring of vipers, who has shown you how to flee from the coming wrath? ... I, for my part, baptize you with water because of your repentance; but the one coming after me is stronger than I am, whose sandals I am not fit to take off. That one will baptize you people with holy spirit and with fire. His winnowing shovel is in his hand, and he will completely clean up his threshing floor, and will gather his wheat into the storehouse, but the chaff he will burn up with fire [in a baptism of fire] that cannot be put out." — Matthew 3:7-12; Luke 3:7-17.

Jesus was not less severe than John the Baptist was with the religious leaders in the land of Judah. These accused Jesus and his disciples of breaking the traditions of men of former times, but Jesus, in turn, told them that all their religious formality was worthless and was even against God, by saying: "You have made the word of God invalid because of your tradition. You hypocrites, Isaiah aptly prophesied about you, when he said, 'This people honors me with their lips, yet their heart is far removed from me. It is in vain that they keep worshiping me, because they teach commands of men as doctrines.' " Afterward he said to his disciples about these traditionalists: "Let them be. Blind guides is what they are. If, then, a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit." — Matthew 15:1-9, 14; Isaiah 29:13,14.

Finally, three days before the chief priests Annas and Caiaphas and other religious leaders had him put to death on a torture stake, Jesus publicly exposed the religious oppressors still more frankly. Among other things he said of them: "They bind up heavy loads and put them upon the shoulders of men, but they themselves are not willing to budge them with their finger. All the works they do they do to be viewed by men; . . . Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!

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because you shut up the kingdom of the heavens before men; for you yourselves do not go in, neither do you permit those on their way in to go in. ... you resemble whitewashed graves, which outwardly indeed appear beautiful but inside are full of dead men's bones and of every sort of uncleanness. In that way you also, outwardly indeed, appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. . . . you are bearing witness against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Well, then, fill up the measure of your forefathers.

"Serpents, offspring of vipers, how are you to flee from the judgment of Gehenna? For this reason, here I am sending forth to you prophets and wise men and public instructors. Some of them you will kill and impale, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city; that there may come upon you all the righteous blood spilled on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. Truly I say to you, All these things will come upon this generation."

Then, to show that their house of worship would be abandoned by Jehovah God just as the former temple built by Solomon had been abandoned to the Babylonians, Jesus said to their holy city:

"Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the killer of the prophets and stoner of those sent forth to her, — how often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks together under her wings! But you people did not want it. Look! Your house is abandoned to you. For I say to you, You will by no means see me from henceforth until you say, 'Blessed is he that comes in Jehovah's name!'" — Matthew 23:1-39; Psalm 118:26.

Since there was such a religious condition in the land of Judah among the Israelites whose forefathers had come out of the literal ancient Babylon, a work of lib-

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eration for the Israelites needed to be done by someone greater than King Cyrus the Persian, whom Jehovah had called "My shepherd." (Isaiah 44:28) That greater one was Jesus the Messiah or Christ, the Son of God. He was the Fine Shepherd, who lays down his human life for the sheep of his flock. (John 10:11, 14-18) He was miraculously born as an Israelite and came to his own people in order to free them, not only of false religion and its bondage, but also of the power of sin and of its penalty death. He said to them: "If you remain in my word, you are really my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. . . . Most truly I say to you, Every doer of sin is a slave of sin. Moreover, the slave does not remain in the household forever; the son remains forever. Therefore if the Son sets you free, you will be actually free."  — .John 8: 31-36.

There were those who answered that they were natural descendants of the patriarch Abraham and so did not need to be set free. To these Jesus said: "Now you are seeking to kill me, a man that has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. You do the works of your father. . . . You are from your father the Devil, and you wish to do the desires of your father. That one was a manslayer when he began, and he did not stand fast in the truth, because truth is not in him. When he speaks the lie, he speaks according to his own disposition, because he is a liar and the father of the lie. Because I, on the other hand, tell the truth, you do not believe me. Who of you convicts me of sin [as if I were a slave of sin]? If I speak truth, why is it you do not believe me? He that is from God listens to the sayings of God [by. means of me, His Messiah]. This is why you do not listen, because you are not from God" — but from the Devil.  — John 8:37-47.

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JEHOVAH'S CHIEF WITNESS

The majority of the Israelite descendants of the faithful remnant that returned from ancient Babylon did not care to be set free. Yet Jesus went ahead with his liberation work. He knew that he had been anointed to "proclaim liberty to those taken captive and the wide opening of the eyes even to the prisoners." So, after his own townspeople tried to kill him at Nazareth, he went right ahead doing what he was anointed to do. His life history tells us:

"After leaving Nazareth, he came and took up residence in Capernaum beside the sea . .. From that time on Jesus commenced preaching and saying: 'Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.' " At this time he called Peter and Andrew his brother and James and John his brother away from their joint fishing business, to be his followers continually as fishers of men. "Then he went around throughout the whole of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the good news of the kingdom and curing every sort of disease and every sort of infirmity among the people." — Matthew 4:12-23.

Shortly before Passover of A.D. 32 John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus, was beheaded by the district ruler Herod Antipas. But Jesus kept at his ministry of the truth that sets men free. (Matthew 14: 1-14) Jesus knew that he had been born into the nation of Israel (or Jacob), to which the prophet Isaiah had said: "This is what Jehovah has said, your Creator, O Jacob, and your Former, O Israel: ...' "You are my witnesses," is the utterance of Jehovah, "even my servant whom I have chosen, ... So you are my witnesses," is the utterance of Jehovah, "and I am God." ' " (Isaiah 43:1, 10-12) More than any other Israelite, Jesus knew and appreciated that he had to be a witness of Jehovah. Besides being born under this obligation, Jesus had been anointed with God's spirit to "proclaim the year of good will on the part of Jehovah and the

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day of vengeance on the part of our God." In compliance with this, Jesus became Jehovah's greatest witness ever on earth. — Isaiah 61:1, 2; Luke 4:19.

To the day of his human death Jesus kept aware of his obligation to be a witness of Jehovah. On that day, when standing on trial for his human life before the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, Jesus said to him: "You yourself are saying that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth." (John 18:37) Because of this declaration before that Roman authority, the apostle Paul writes of him as "Christ Jesus, who as a witness made the fine public declaration before Pontius Pilate." — 1 Timothy 6:13.

The apostle John, who stood near Jesus at his death on the stake, writes of him as "Jesus Christ, 'the Faithful Witness,' 'The first-born from the dead,' and 'The Ruler of the kings of the earth.' " (Revelation 1:5) With every right, then, the resurrected Jesus spoke of himself as "the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation by God." (Revelation 3:14) In every way he was an example for his followers, Jehovah's witnesses of today.

Jehovah had promised to reward Jesus Christ his Son for his faithful witness to a painful death before the public's unsympathetic eye. One of the rewards promised to Jesus was that of having a bride, not an earthly woman as a wife, but a spiritual bride, a choice group of faithful followers who would, like him, be faithful witnesses to a sacrificial death. In keeping with this picture, Jesus Christ was compared to a bridegroom.

John the Baptist claimed to be the friend of this Bridegroom, when he said to some of his disciples: "You yourselves bear me witness that I said, I am not the Christ, but, I have been sent forth in advance of that one. He that has the bride is the bridegroom. However, the friend of the bridegroom, when he stands

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and hears him, has a great deal of joy on account of the voice of the bridegroom. Therefore this joy of mine has been made full. That one must go on increasing, but I must go on decreasing." — John 3:28-30.

John was finally beheaded and thus lost all his disciples. Jesus Christ the Bridegroom kept increasing in disciples. The faithful ones among these would prove themselves worthy of being part of his heavenly Bride in the resurrection. So in some of his prophetic illustrations Jesus likened himself to a bridegroom. (Matthew 9:15; 22:1-14; 25:1-13) Correspondingly, the apostle Paul wrote to disciples whom he had gained for Jesus: "I personally promised you in marriage to one husband that I might present you as a chaste virgin to the Christ." — 2 Corinthians 11:2.

Out of all the disciples of his day Jesus selected twelve to be apostles. These he specially trained and sent forth to preach, saying: "The kingdom of the heavens has drawn near." (Matthew 10:1-7; Mark 3:14-19; Luke 6:13-16) His twelve apostles corresponded with the twelve sons of the patriarch Jacob, from which sons the twelve tribes of Israel descended. (Genesis 49:28) In like manner the new Christian congregation as a spiritual Israel was to rest on the twelve apostles of the Lamb Jesus Christ as foundation stones, but all twelve apostolic foundation stones rested on the chief foundation stone, the Messiah, Jesus Christ.  — Ephesians 2:20.

ZION'S KING COMES

As the passover celebration of A.D. 33 got closer, the middle of the seventieth week of years, as foretold in Daniel 9:26, 27, also approached. The time approached for Messiah to "be cut off" as a human sacrifice to God and for the animal sacrifices and gift offerings at the temple in Jerusalem to cease to be of real value. It was the due time for the "Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world" to be sacrificed, not on Jeru-

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salem's altar, but on God's great altar arrangement. (Hebrews 13:10; 1 Peter 1:19) As a faithful Jew, Jesus had to attend the passover celebration in Jerusalem, and he had also said: "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) A great crowd already at Jerusalem for the celebration heard that Jesus was coming, and a remarkable event took place to fulfill the prophecy that Messiah must visit Zion.

When Jesus was a babe forty days old he was taken to Jerusalem and into its temple at the time of the ceremonial purification of his mother Mary. (Luke 2: 21-38; Leviticus 12:1-4) Since then he had made many visits to Jerusalem, but never before now had he offered himself to her as her king. For instance, he had gone up to Jerusalem to the festival of tabernacles prior to this, "not openly but as in secret," because even then the Jews were "seeking to kill him" when his time for dying had not yet come. (John 7:1-13) According to the prophecies, his death was due to occur on Passover day, Nisan 14, A.D. 33. But first, according to the prophecies of Isaiah 62:11 and Zechariah 9:9, Jesus had to offer himself as King of the line of David to the city of Zion.

The apostle Matthew, who took part in the demonstration, says: "When they got close to Jerusalem and arrived at Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent forth two disciples, saying to them: 'Be on your way into the village that is within sight of you, and you will at once find an ass tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. And if someone says anything to you, you must say, "The Lord needs them." At that he will immediately send them forth.' This actually took place that there might be fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet [Zechariah 9:9], saying: Tell the daughter of Zion, "Look! Your King is coming to you, mild-tempered, and mounted upon an

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ass, yes, upon a colt, the offspring of a beast of burden." ' So the disciples got on their way and did just as Jesus ordered them. And they brought the ass and its colt, and they put upon these their outer garments, and he seated himself upon them.

"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. 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!' Now when he entered into Jerusalem, the whole city was set in commotion, saying: 'Who is this?' The crowds kept telling: This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee!' "  — Matthew 21:1-11.

According to John 12:12-16. "the great crowd that had come to the festival, on hearing that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took the branches of palm trees and went out to meet him. And they began to shout: 'Save, we pray you! Blessed is he that comes in Jehovah's name, even the king of Israel!' But when Jesus had found a young ass, he sat on it, just as it is written: 'Have no fear, daughter of Zion. Look! Your king is coming, seated upon an ass's colt.' These things his disciples took no note of at first, but when Jesus became glorified, then they called to mind that these things were written respecting him and that they did these things to him."

Mark 11:11 adds: "And he entered into Jerusalem, into the temple; and he looked around upon all things, and, as the hour was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve."

On that occasion earthly Zion had an opportunity to accept her rightful king but refused to do so. The religious leaders were responsible for this. Matthew 21:15, 16 informs us: "When the chief priests and the scribes saw the marvelous things he did and the boys

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that were crying out in the temple and saying: 'Save, we pray, the Son of David!' they became indignant and said to him: 'Do you hear what these are saying?' Jesus said to them: 'Yes. Did you never read this, "Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings you have furnished praise?" ' " (Psalm 8:2) Sometime before this the chief priests and Pharisees had decided that they absolutely had to kill Jesus, for fear that, otherwise, "the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation." — John 11:47-57.

It had been a triumphal entry into Jerusalem for Jesus, but it was not followed up by his being made king. The next day he returned to Jerusalem and went again into the temple, to cleanse it of the religious commercialism practiced there. "There he entered into the temple and started to throw out those selling and buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the benches of those selling doves; and he would not let anyone carry a utensil through the temple, but he kept teaching and saying: 'Is it not written, "My house will be called a house of prayer for all the nations"? But you have made it a cave of robbers.' And the chief priests and the scribes heard it, and they began to seek how to destroy him; for they were in fear of him, for all the crowd was continually being astounded at his teaching." (Mark 11:12-18) Their opportunity came on Passover night.

Led by the traitorous apostle, Judas Iscariot, they seized Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. In a night session the Jewish Sanhedrin or Supreme Court in Jerusalem condemned him to death. In the morning the Sanhedrin turned him over to Pontius Pilate the Roman governor, who proceeded to examine him to see whether there was any ground for the death sentence.  — Matthew 26:47 to 27:14.

According to the custom at Passover time Pilate was free to release one man from his death sentence. The Jewish religious authorities demanded that this

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man be, not Jesus, but the murderous robber Barabbas. (Acts 3:13-15; 13:28) They cried out for Jesus to be hung on a stake. Whereas Pilate wanted to stay innocent of Jesus' blood, they cried out: "His blood come upon us and upon our children." (Matthew 27:15-26) They argued that Jesus was against Tiberius Caesar then reigning. But Pilate tried to appeal to their Jewish nationalism by displaying Jesus and saying: "See! Your king!" and, "Shall I impale your king?" To this how did they react?

"The chief priests answered: 'We have no king but Caesar.' "

Thus those religious leaders who claimed to be priests (cohaním) of Jehovah God said they had no king but the Pontifex Maximus of pagan religion, for that is what Tiberius Caesar then was. In spite of their objection Governor Pilate insisted on posting over the head of Jesus on the torture stake the sign reading: "Jesus the Nazarene the King of the Jews." — John 19:12-22.

With Jesus dead and buried, the chief priests and other religious leaders doubtless enjoyed their formal Passover festival more fully. He was dead, this "Lamb of God," whom his disciples later spoke of as "Christ our passover." The Jewish leaders had Pilate seal the door of the rock-hewn memorial tomb in which Jesus had been laid, to prevent any stealing of the body by his disciples.

Came the third day, Nisan 16, which was the day when the high priest offered the barley-harvest first-fruits to Jehovah at his temple. On that same day Almighty God brought forth a grander firstfruits by raising his faithful Son Jesus Christ from the dead. The soldiers posted as a security guard at the tomb did not see Jesus raised from the dead. Why not? Because, as the apostle Peter writes, in 1 Peter 3:18, "Christ died once for all time concerning sins, a righteous person for unrighteous ones, that he might lead

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you to God, he being put to death in the flesh, but being made alive in the spirit." Of course, the Roman soldiers could not see a spirit person; but they did see God's angel who materialized in glory and broke Pilate's seal and rolled the stone away from the tomb's doorway. — Matthew 27:57 to 28:4, 11-15.

On the fiftieth day afterward, or on the festival day of Pentecost, when the firstfruits of the wheat harvest were offered to Jehovah at his temple, the apostle Peter publicly declared to thousands of inquisitive Israelites that Jesus' resurrection was a fulfillment of Psalm 16: 10, written by King David. This inspired verse says to God: "You will not leave my soul in Sheol. You will not allow your loyal one to see the pit." After Peter quoted these words, he went on to say: "David . . . saw beforehand and spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was he forsaken in Hades [Greek translation for the Hebrew Sheol] nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God resurrected, of which fact we are all witnesses." (Acts 2:29-33) Peter and the other faithful apostles had seen Jesus after his resurrection. By means of his miraculous power of materializing human bodies Jesus appeared, not again to earthly Zion, but to his faithful disciples, on a number of occasions. Thus he proved that he was alive from the dead and that he was the same Jesus Christ, but now a spirit.

NOT A PRIEST LIKE PONTIFEX MAXIMUS

At the end of forty days of miraculous appearances to his disciples Jesus ascended to heaven. He returned to the presence of his heavenly Father, Jehovah God, who is spirit. (Acts 1:1-11: John 4:23. 24) There he presented to God the value of his sacrifice as the "Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world." This fact proves that he did not take back his sacrificed humanity. (Hebrews 9:23-26) In this way he was true to what he had said: "I am the living bread that came

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down from heaven; if anyone eats of this bread he will live forever; and, for a fact, the bread that I shall give is my flesh in behalf of the life of the world." (John 6:51) So now he could not be enjoying his earthly, fleshly, material human body in heaven, for he forever left it as a sacrifice in behalf of the sinful, dying race of mankind.

In serving in this sacrificial way the resurrected Jesus was acting as Jehovah's High Priest. He was not a priest because of any family relationship to Moses' brother, Aaron the Levite. In Jerusalem the Aaronic high priests like Annas and Caiaphas entered only into the Most Holy of a temple on earth, because they were just men of blood, flesh and bones. Jesus, however, was born in the tribe of Judah and in the family line of King David. As such he had a natural right to kingship. But Jehovah God also made him a high priest. How? By an oath, and by this oath Jesus Christ became Jehovah's High Priest like King Melchizedek of Salem. In Psalm 110:1. 4 David had said: "The utterance of Jehovah to my Lord is: 'Sit at my right hand until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet.' Jehovah has sworn (and he will feel no regret): 'You are a priest to time indefinite according to the manner of Melchizedek!' "

By his oath here, Jehovah did not swear that the Messiah or Christ would be a priest like the pagan Pontifex Maximus of Rome. Rome had not even been founded nor the college of Pontifices been established by its king Numa Pompilius when David prophetically told of Jehovah's oath concerning his future High Priest, for King David died in 1037 B.C. On the day of Pentecost A.D. 33 the apostle Peter applied David's prophecy to the resurrected Jesus and said: "Actually David did not ascend to the heavens, but he himself says [in Psalm 110], 'Jehovah said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand, until I place your enemies as a stool for your feet." ' Therefore let all the house of Israel

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know for a certainty that God made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you impaled." (Acts 2: 34-36) Hence, we today know for a certainty that Jesus Christ is now at God's right hand in heaven and is serving as High Priest, not like the Roman Pontifex Maximus, but like Melchizedek.

Jesus gave his flesh as a sacrifice in behalf of the life of the world of mankind and then presented the value of his blood to God in heaven. Therefore God gave him control over the life of all mankind and also over Sheol (or Hades), which is the common grave where the dead billions of mankind lie. Will these ever get out? Who has the means to let them out of Sheol or Hades? Not the Pontifex Maximus of Rome, but Jesus Christ in the heavenly Zion. Thirty years after his apostle Peter died, the resurrected Jesus said to his apostle John on the penal isle of Patmos: "I am the First and the Last, and the living one; and I became dead, and, look! I am living forever and ever, and I have the keys of death and of Ha'des [inferni, Latin Vulgate; hell, Dy; AV]." These words of Jesus in Revelation 1:17, 18 are in full agreement with what he said when he was still a man on earth. At that time Jesus said:

"Just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted also to the Son to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to do judging, because Son of man he is. Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment." "He that feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has everlasting life, and I shall resurrect him at the last day." — John 5:26-29; 6:54.

Jesus came into possession of the "keys of death and of Ha'des." Hence Jesus was correct when he told the apostle Peter that, even though Peter and the rest of

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the congregation of believers would go down into death and into Ha'des or Sheol, yet the gates of Ha'des would not be able to keep shut over the congregation for all time. Why not? Because Jesus, after his resurrection, would have the "keys of death and of Ha'des" to open the doors and let his congregation out by means of a resurrection from the dead. At the time that Jesus said this, he had just asked them whom they believed him to be. What followed we read in Matthew 16:16-19:

"In answer Simon Peter said: 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' In response Jesus said to him: 'Happy you are, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal it to you, but my Father who is in the heavens did. Also, I say to you, You are Peter, and on this rock-mass I will build my congregation, and the gates of Ha'des will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of [what? Ha'des? No, but of] the kingdom of the heavens, and whatever you may bind on earth will be the thing bound in the heavens, and whatever you may loose on earth will be the thing loosed in the heavens.' " — See also Mark 8:27-30 and Luke 9:18-21.

The above words in Matthew 16:18 form a highly disputed text. Hence, below, we print the original Greek text. Then underneath we print the English transliteration of the Greek. Under that we next print the word-for-word English translation of the Greek as given in the book entitled "The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament - the Nestle Greek text with a new Literal English Translation by the Rev. A. Marshall D. Litt," as printed in 1960 by Samuel Bagster and Sons Limited, London, England.



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Any reader can see that there is a difference between Peter (Pétros) and rock (pétrai). The difference is due to the fact that in the Greek text Pétros is masculine in gender whereas pétrai is feminine. The same difference is also seen in the Latin Vulgate version. Even the Aramaic (Syriac) version shows the difference in gender by means of a particle that goes with each of these two words Peter and rock.*

Jesus did not say to Peter, 'You are Peter, and upon YOU I will build my church.' From the above Greek text it is plain that Jesus was not saying that Peter was the petra ("rock") and that on Peter (Pétros) he was building his church or congregation. Jesus was saying that he would build his church or congregation upon himself as the Foundation. Even the apostle Paul identifies Jesus Christ with the Rock, in 1 Corinthians 10:4, which reads: "All drank the same spiritual drink. For they used to drink from the spiritual rock-mass [pétra] that followed them, and that rock-mass [pétra] meant the Christ."

Jesus was well acquainted with the prophecies in Isaiah 8:14 and 28:16. which read: "He must become as a sacred place; but as a stone to strike against and as a rock over which to stumble to both the houses of Israel, as a trap and as a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem." "Therefore this is what the Lord Jehovah has said: 'Here I am laying as a foundation in Zion a stone, a tried stone, the precious corner of a sure foundation. No one exercising faith will get panicky.' " Who, then, became the "rock over which to stumble to both the houses of Israel"? Not Peter, but Jesus.


* The Syriac text has kipha for both "Peter" and "rock," but "Peter" is preceded by the masculine verbal pronoun (hu) to show that kipha meaning "Peter" is masculine, whereas "rock" is preceded by the feminine demonstrative adjective (ha'de). So this second kipha meaning "rock" is feminine. Thus the Syriac Version agrees with the original Greek text; and so the argument that, because, in the Aramaic (Syriac) Version, the same word kipha is applied to both Peter and the rock, they mean the same person is proved to be false. — Light on the Four Gospels from the Sinai Palimpsest, by Dr. Agnes Smith Lewis, pages 54, 55, of the 1913 Edition.
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Hence the apostle Paul says, in Romans 9:32, 33: "They stumbled on the 'stone of stumbling'; as it is written: 'Look! I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock-mass [pétra] of offense, but he that rests his faith on it will not come to disappointment.' "

With those words Peter himself agrees, saying: "The Lord is kind. Coming to him as to a living stone, rejected, it is true, by men, but chosen, precious, with God, you yourselves also as living stones are being built up a spiritual house for the purpose of a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it is contained in Scripture: 'Look! I am laying in Zion a stone, chosen, a foundation cornerstone, precious; and no one exercising faith in it will by any means come to disappointment.' It is to you, therefore, that he is precious, because you are believers; but to those not believing, 'the identical stone that the builders rejected has become the head of the corner,' and 'a stone of stumbling and a rock-mass [pétra] of offense.' These are stumbling because they are disobedient to the word." (1 Peter 2:3-8) Consequently, let us be careful not to be "disobedient to the word" by not accepting these words written by the apostle Peter. We do not want to stumble into destruction.

It is on Jesus Christ as the spiritual rock-mass [petra] that the congregation of his disciples is built. For this reason the gates of Ha'des will not prevail against his congregation, because he, not Peter, has the "keys of death and of Ha'des."

Nineteen centuries ago the earthly Zion refused to accept Jesus when he rode triumphantly into her a few days before Passover and he was killed outside her walls. So it must be in spiritual Zion, heavenly Zion, that God lays Jesus as the "tried stone, the precious corner of a sure foundation," in fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 28:16. To this Zion all persons of faith must come.



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