2 as we look intently at the Chief Agent and Perfecter of our faith, Jesus. For the joy that was set before him he endured a torture stake, despising shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
lit., “to think down upon or against anyone” (kata, “down,” phren, “the mind”), hence signifies “to think slightly of, to despise,” Matt. 6:24; 18:10; Luke 16:13; Rom. 2:4; 1 Cor. 11:22; 1 Tim. 4:12; 6:2; Heb. 12:2; 2 Pet. 2:10.
In Jesus’ case, keeping in mind “the joy that was set before him,” the high rewards awaiting him, helped him to keep walking in the truth. This “joy that was set before him” outweighed by far the temporary discouragements or distractions that he had to face.
Keeping in mind the reward can help us to endure, just as it did Jesus. (Revelation 22:12) To illustrate, think of a traveler walking along a difficult mountain path. He becomes weary and discouraged. Each step is an effort, and the path seems endless. Then he comes to the top of a rise and sees in the distance the town he is heading for. Suddenly the going seems a little easier. A clear view of his destination helps him to forget his tiredness. A Christian will similarly find it easier to keep walking in the truth if he keeps his destination clearly in mind.
What was “the joy that was set before [Jesus]” for which “he endured a torture stake”? It was the joy of seeing what his ministry would accomplish—including the sanctification of Jehovah’s name, the vindication of God’s sovereignty, and the ransoming of the human family from death. Jesus also looked ahead to the reward of ruling as King and serving as High Priest to the benefit of mankind.
In order to maintain his integrity to Jehovah, Jesus underwent the most dishonorable execution possible. “He endured a torture stake, despising shame.” (Heb. 12:2) Jesus’ enemies slapped him, spat on him, stripped him, flogged him, impaled him, and reviled him. (Mark 14:65; 15:29-32) Yet, Jesus despised the shame that they attempted to heap on him. How? He refused to shrink from such treatment. Jesus knew that he lost no dignity in Jehovah’s eyes, and he certainly sought no glory from men. Even though Jesus died the death of a slave, Jehovah dignified him by resurrecting him and giving him the most honorable place next to Him. At Philippians 2:8-11, we read: “[Christ Jesus] humbled himself and became obedient as far as death, yes, death on a torture stake. For this very reason also God exalted him to a superior position and kindly gave him the name that is above every other name, so that in the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven and those on earth and those under the ground, and every tongue should openly acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.”
Jesus was not insensitive to the feelings of disgrace that accompanied his execution. Possible dishonor to his Father resulting from Jesus’ being condemned for blasphemy was a matter of concern to God’s Son. Jesus asked Jehovah to spare him such indignity. “Remove this cup from me,” he prayed. But Jesus submitted to God’s will. (Mark 14:36) Still, Jesus withstood the pressures brought to bear on him and despised the shame. After all, such shame would be felt only by those who fully accepted the values common to his day. Jesus clearly did not.
Jesus’ disciples were also arrested and flogged. Such treatment dishonored them in the eyes of many. They were looked down upon and despised. Yet, they were not deterred. True disciples resisted the pressure of public opinion and despised shame. (Matt. 10:17; Acts 5:40; 2 Cor. 11:23-25) They knew that they were to ‘pick up their torture stakes and follow Jesus continually.’—Luke 9:23, 26.
What about us today? Things the world considers foolish, weak, and ignoble, God views as wise, powerful, and honorable. (1 Cor. 1:25-28) Would it not be foolish and shortsighted for us to be influenced entirely by public opinion?
These joys caused all rebuffs and indignities to pale into insignificance. Imitating Jesus, we will be able to face difficult situations, as well as enjoy the favorable ones, in preaching the good news. Always sustaining us is the joy of anticipating the new system of things and what Jehovah has in store for us, as we appreciate presently having a measure of health and strength that we can use in his service.
We, too, by looking ahead to the reward of eternal life with its associate blessings, can maintain faithfulness under trial. Like a prize just beyond the finish line, this reward can stimulate us to run the race for life with endurance, dismissing any wrong desires that could wreck our faith.
If we try to glorify ourselves, particularly by hiding things, or by presenting a false front, this is clearly wrong and of no value in the long run. Far better is it to be concerned with the way God views us. Jesus himself said: “Happy are you when people reproach you and persecute you and lyingly say every sort of wicked thing against you for my sake. Rejoice and leap for joy, since your reward is great in the heavens.”—Matt. 5:11, 12.
Jesus had this experience, particularly after he was arrested. The religious leaders took him for trial and tried to besmirch his reputation by means of false witnesses. Afterward he was laughed at and ridiculed. A crown of thorns was forced onto his head, and a purple robe was put on him in derision of the fact that he was a King. (Mark 14:55-65; 15:17-20) Then, while Jesus was dying, the gloating rulers stood around the torture stake mocking him. Even the way he died was viewed by the Jews as very shameful. (Luke 23:32-38; Gal. 3:13) In all of this, did Jesus try to defend his reputation or save face? No. Rather, the Scriptures tell us that he ‘despised shame.’ (Heb. 12:2) Far more important in his eyes was the glorifying of his Father’s name. (John 17:4, 11) And for this fine course of conduct, Christ’s reward was indeed great in the heavens. What an outstanding example for us today!—1 Pet. 2:21, 22.
“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”
We might need to look below the surface, considering the feelings behind our choice of words. What we say, especially when we are distressed or under pressure, may reveal a lot about what we are really like inside. Jesus said: “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34) In other words, our speech often reflects our innermost thoughts, desires, and attitudes.
Is our outlook on life realistic, optimistic, and hopeful? Then the tone and substance of our conversations will likely reflect that. Do we tend to be rigid, pessimistic, or judgmental? If so, we might discourage others either by what we say or by how we say it. We may not be aware of how negative our thinking or speech has become. We might even believe that our way of looking at things is correct. But we must beware of self-deception.
Simply put, we like to talk about the things that matter to us. We need, then, to ask ourselves: ‘What do my conversations reveal about my heart condition? When I am with my family or fellow believers, does my conversation center on spiritual matters or does it invariably gravitate to sports, clothes, movies, food, my latest purchases, or some trivialities?’ Perhaps unwittingly, our lives and our thoughts have come to revolve around secondary matters. Adjusting our priorities will improve our conversations as well as our lives.
4 Then Jesus was led by the spirit up into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. 2 After he had fasted forty days and forty nights, then he felt hungry. 3 Also, the Tempter came and said to him: “If you are a son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But in reply he said: “It is written, ‘Man must live, not on bread alone, but on every utterance coming forth through Jehovah’s mouth.’”
5 Then the Devil took him along into the holy city, and he stationed him upon the battlement of the temple 6 and said to him: “If you are a son of God, hurl yourself down; for it is written, ‘He will give his angels a charge concerning you, and they will carry you on their hands, that you may at no time strike your foot against a stone.’” 7 Jesus said to him: “Again it is written, ‘You must not put Jehovah your God to the test.’”
8 Again the Devil took him along to an unusually high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, 9 and he said to him: “All these things I will give you if you fall down and do an act of worship to me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him: “Go away, Satan! For it is written, ‘It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.’” 11 Then the Devil left him, and, look! angels came and began to minister to him.
Satan as the personal Tempter tested Jesus on (1) materialism, (2) personal fame and (3) denying the Godship of Jehovah. Jesus came off victorious on each of these basic tests.
Isn’t it pathetic how Satan continues to relentlessly revisit the same old tired lures upon the human race?
Isn’t it pathetic how effective they are against so many of us?
8 Again the Devil took him along to an unusually high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, 9 and he said to him: “All these things I will give you if you fall down and do an act of worship to me.”
13 The patriarchs had an interesting way in which they offered and transferred possession to land. The prospective buyer would be taken to a vantage point where the seller would describe the precise boundaries and the advantages of the land being offered. After lengthy bargaining back and forth, the seller would finally recite the exact four boundaries of the land for transfer. When the buyer said, “I see,” then the deal was considered closed and a contract made. The conveyance was made in this manner before witnesses without a literal “handing over” of the land by means of a written deed. However, written contracts also were used. At times the bargaining process itself involved quite a ceremony.—Gen. 23:3-16.
14 Jehovah God himself conformed to this custom when he made a legal offer to Abraham of the Promised Land. At a vantage point in Canaan, God pointed out to Abraham the precise boundaries of the territory offered. But God did not permit Abraham to say, “I see,” and thus legally accept the transfer, as it was not God’s due time to grant legal possession. (Gen. 13:14, 15) However, the legal transfer was made in the year 1473 B.C., some four hundred years later, when Jehovah caused Moses “to see” or to accept legal possession on behalf of the nation of Israel just before they crossed the Jordan to take the Promised Land. “And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto mount Nebo, . . . And Jehovah showed him all the land . . . And Jehovah said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, . . . I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes.”—Deut. 34:1-4, AS; also Deut. 3:27.
15 Notice that Satan the mimic also conformed to this method of offer when he approached Jesus in the wilderness to tempt him. “Again the Devil took him [Jesus] along to an unusually high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, and he said to him: ‘All these things I will give you if you fall down and do an act of worship to me.’” (Matt. 4:8, 9, NW) Satan here was actually making a genuine legal offer for Jesus to consider seriously of legally accepting. Even though Jesus quickly recognized it as a legal offer yet he lost no time in utterly rejecting it by saying, “Go away, Satan!”
4 “This is what Jehovah my God has said, ‘Shepherd the flock [meant] for the killing, 5 the buyers of which proceed to kill [them] although they are not held guilty. And those who are selling them say: “May Jehovah be blessed, while I shall gain riches.” And their own shepherds do not show any compassion upon them.’
6 “‘For I shall show compassion no more upon the inhabitants of the land,’ is the utterance of Jehovah. ‘So here I am causing mankind to find themselves, each one in the hand of his companion and in the hand of his king; and they will certainly crush to pieces the land, and I shall do no delivering out of their hand.’”
7 And I proceeded to shepherd the flock [meant] for the killing, in YOUR behalf, O afflicted ones of the flock. So I took for myself two staffs. The one I called Pleasantness, and the other I called Union, and I went shepherding the flock. 8 And I finally effaced three shepherds in one lunar month, as my soul gradually became impatient with them, and also their own soul felt a loathing toward me. 9 At length I said: “I shall not keep shepherding YOU. The one that is dying, let her die. And the one that is being effaced, let her be effaced. And as for the ones left remaining, let them devour, each one the flesh of her companion.” 10 So I took my staff Pleasantness and cut it to pieces, in order to break my covenant that I had concluded with all the peoples. 11 And it came to be broken in that day, and the afflicted ones of the flock who were watching me got to know in this way that it was the word of Jehovah.
12 Then I said to them: “If it is good in YOUR eyes, give [me] my wages; but if not, refrain.” And they proceeded to pay my wages, thirty pieces of silver.
13 At that, Jehovah said to me: “Throw it to the treasury—the majestic value with which I have been valued from their standpoint.” Accordingly I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw it into the treasury at the house of Jehovah.
14 Then I cut in pieces my second staff, the Union, in order to break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.
Sheeplike people were “the flock meant for the killing” in that governmental shepherds were exploiting them. With one staff called “Pleasantness” and the other “Union,” Zechariah acted like a shepherd carrying a staff to guide the flock and a rod to ward off beasts. (Psalm 23:4) He foreshadowed Jesus, who was sent to be a spiritual shepherd but was rejected by the Jews. As Zechariah broke the staff Pleasantness, God quit dealing pleasantly with the Jews, breaking his covenant with them. And as Zechariah broke the staff Union, God’s canceling of the Law covenant with Israel left the Jews without a theocratic bond of union. Their religious disunity worked out disastrously for them with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 C.E.
3 “And Jehovah will certainly go forth and war against those nations as in the day of his warring, in the day of fight. 4 And his feet will actually stand in that day upon the mountain of the olive trees, which is in front of Jerusalem, on the east; and the mountain of the olive trees must be split at its middle, from the sunrising and to the west. There will be a very great valley; and half of the mountain will actually be moved to the north, and half of it to the south.
Thus in 1914, not in 33 C.E., the symbolic “stone” seen in King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was cut out of the great mountain that pictured Jehovah’s universal sovereignty. (Dan. 2:34, 35, 44, 45) It was at that time also that Jehovah God planted his “feet” upon the symbolic “mountain of the olive trees” and it split in the middle to form two mountains, one toward the north and the other to the south. (Zech. 14:4, 9) This corresponds with the birth of the male child by God’s heavenly “woman,” as pictured in Revelation 12:1-5. In this way a new “kingdom” was brought forth, a new expression of God’s sovereignty toward our earth. God then put his King-Designate on the throne to exercise his “legal right.” The symbolic bands of copper and iron were removed from around the “rootstock” of God’s interrupted sovereignty toward our earth. The prescribed “seven times” had now passed over the rootstock.—Dan. 4:23, 26.
The divine prophecy through Zechariah concerning “that day” corresponds with the prophetic dream interpreted by Daniel. So the “mountain of the olive trees” to the east of earthly Jerusalem pictures, in its undivided state, the universal kingdom of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah. Just as the highest eminence of the Mount of Olives rises to a height of 2,963 feet and thus dominates the general level of Jerusalem by more than 400 feet, so Jehovah’s universal kingdom dominates the “heavenly Jerusalem” and uses it as a theocratic agency.—Hebrews 12:22.
27 God’s universal kingdom never becomes divided against itself. (Matthew 12:25, 26) That is not what is pictured by the splitting of the Mount of Olives “at its middle.” Jehovah does not act against his own sovereignty by establishing the Messianic kingdom of his Son. What, then, does this division of the Mount of Olives picture, and when does its division take place?
28 It does not picture a dividing of Jehovah’s supremacy, nor the dividing of his universal sovereignty. He always remains the Most High God and the Sovereign Lord of the universe. In harmony with the prophetic dream as interpreted at Daniel 2:44, 45, the splitting of the mountain that is to the east of Jerusalem pictures Jehovah’s establishing of a kingdom that is subsidiary to his own universal kingdom, because it is over an area that is really a rebel territory so that Jehovah cannot deal directly with it. It is a kingdom of one who is in the line of earthly King David, and also a kingdom after the manner of that of King-Priest Melchizedek. Hence it is a government not just over King David’s earthly domain but also over the whole earth.—Psalm 110:1-4; Hebrews 5:10 to 8:1; Acts 2:34-36.
29 This produces a kingdom of the only-begotten Son of God alongside of and subject to the kingdom of God the Father. And since this secondary kingdom has connections with the earthly kingdom of David, it must take into account the 2,520-year-long Gentile Times that were imposed upon the kingdom of David. Hence that secondary kingdom in the hands of the Messianic King, the Son of God, was first established at the end of the Gentile Times in 1914 C.E.—Luke 21:24; Daniel 4:16, 23-25; Hebrews 10:12, 13.
30 This explains why Jehovah speaks of the two mountains that result from the split of the Mount of Olives as being “my mountains.” (Zechariah 14:5) Scripturally the mountain to the north would picture Jehovah’s universal kingdom, and the mountain to the south the Messianic kingdom of his Son. (Psalm 75:6, 7) That this newly produced “mountain” kingdom is subject to and not opposed to Jehovah’s universal kingdom is stated in 1 Corinthians 15:25-28:
“For he must rule as king until God has put all enemies under his feet. As the last enemy, death is to be brought to nothing. For God ‘subjected all things under his feet.’ But when he says that ‘all things have been subjected,’ it is evident that it is with the exception of the one who subjected all things to him. But when all things will have been subjected to him, then the Son himself will also subject himself to the One who subjected all things to him, that God may be all things to everyone.”
31 That both kingdoms are, from the start, subject to the Sovereign Lord God is set out in the declaration: “And his feet will actually stand in that day upon the mountain of the olive trees, which is in front of Jerusalem, on the east.” And when the symbolic mountain splits, half to the north and half to the south, Jehovah’s feet remain set upon both mountains, “my mountains.” Since the Mount of Olives is hundreds of feet higher than ancient Jerusalem, from a vantage point like this the Most High God, Jehovah, could see what goes on with regard to the “heavenly Jerusalem” as respects its interests in the earth. When, symbolically speaking, Jehovah plants his feet upon the Mount of Olives, it means that he has come. Just as he prophetically said: “And Jehovah my God will certainly come, all the holy ones being with him.” The Chief One of his heavenly “holy ones” is, of course, his sinless Son, Jesus Christ, whom he makes king over the secondary “mountain” kingdom. (Zechariah 14:5) Such “holy ones” act as Jehovah’s executional forces.
3 At that, Jo′nah got up and went to Nin′e·veh in accord with the word of Jehovah. Now Nin′e·veh herself proved to be a city great to God, with a walking distance of three days. 4 Finally Jo′nah started to enter into the city the walking distance of one day, and he kept proclaiming and saying: “Only forty days more, and Nin′e·veh will be overthrown.”
11 And, for my part, ought I not to feel sorry for Nin′e·veh the great city, in which there exist more than one hundred and twenty thousand men who do not at all know the difference between their right hand and their left, besides many domestic animals?”
Note the size of the walled city above–prompting the question, ‘Was this the city of “three days’ walking distance” ‘?
How could that be so, since it would appear one could walk from one extremity to the other in less than an hour?
Observed André Parrot, Curator-in-Chief of the French National Museums:
“Just as today, that part of London which lies within its ancient boundary is very different from what is called ‘greater London’—a term which includes the suburbs and denotes a much larger area—so it may be that people who lived far away from Assyria understood by the word ‘Nineveh’ what is now known as ‘the Assyrian triangle’ . . . , which stretches from Khorsabad in the north to Nimrud in the south, and, with an almost unbroken string of settlements, covers a distance of some twenty-six miles. . . .
“Felix Jones estimated that the population of Nineveh might have numbered 174,000 persons, and quite recently, in his excavations at Nimrud, M. E. L. Mallowan discovered a stele of Ashurnazirpal on which it is recorded that he invited to a banquet the fabulous number of 69,574 guests. Mallowan considers that, allowing for foreigners, the population of Kalakh (Nimrud) might have been 65,000. But Nineveh is twice the area of Nimrud, and thus it may be reckoned that the figure in Jonah 4.11 is indirectly confirmed.”—Nineveh and the Old Testament, 1955, pp. 85, 86
” The ruins of Kouyunjik, Nimrud, Karamles and Khorsabad form the four corners of an irregular quadrangle. The ruins of Nineveh, with the whole area included within the parallelogram they form by lines drawn from the one to the other, are generally regarded as consisting of these four sites.”
Note in the pictures below where Khorsabad is (NE of Mosul, see green arrow) and where Nimrud is situated (South of Mosul, green arrow). The ruins of ancient Nineveh’s ‘downtown’, if you will, are directly across the Tigris from the modern city of Mosul.