Religion’s Future in the Soviet Union
THERE is no question as to what the future holds for religion in the Soviet Union. That has already been decided. By whom? By the Communists? By the religions of Christendom and heathendom?
No, none of these will be the determining factor. Humans are not going to decide the future of religion there. Why not? Because of what Christendom and heathendom, as well as Communism, have failed to consider—God and his purpose.
God is the One who has determined the future of religion in the Soviet Union. Regarding the carrying out of his purpose, his own Word assures us: “My own counsel will stand, and everything that is my delight I shall do.” (Isa. 46:10) So regardless of what Soviet Communism does, or what the traditional religions do, God’s purpose for the land area now making up the Soviet Union will be accomplished.—Isa. 14:27; 55:8-11.
When? In the immediate future! God’s Word clearly shows that His toleration of man’s wickedness is very near its end. The time that God has allowed is running out. Its end will be featured by striking changes in human society, not only in the Soviet Union, but everywhere.
And just what has God purposed for our time? To remove from all nations, including the Soviet Union, every person and every organization that is violating his laws. That means the destruction of the entire wicked system of things now dominating the earth. It will be replaced by a new order of God’s making, populated by persons who respect God’s laws. It is such kind of persons who will survive the end of this system and continue living on earth. God’s Word declares: “Jehovah is guarding all those loving him, but all the wicked ones he will annihilate.”—Ps. 145:20.
Right now, in the Soviet Union, as well as in the rest of the world, there are persons who do love Jehovah. They obey his laws and practice true Christianity. Are there large numbers of them in the Soviet Union? Should we expect that to be the case? No, for God’s Word shows that such persons would be in the minority: “Broad and spacious is the road leading off into destruction, and many are the ones going in through it; whereas narrow is the gate and cramped the road leading off into life, and few are the ones finding it.”—Matt 7:13, 14.
Regarding our time, Bible prophecy also says: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matt. 24:14) So God sends forth “this good news of the kingdom” to the world, not to convert it, but as a “witness,” a warning affording people opportunity to choose. It would attract only a small minority favorably, those who truly love what is right from God’s viewpoint.
Proclaimers of the “Good News”
Who is proclaiming the “good news” of the near end of this wicked system, and the incoming new order of God’s making? Not the religions of Christendom or heathendom. Who then? In the book These Also Believe, Charles S. Braden points to those who are when he says: “Jehovah’s witnesses have literally covered the earth with their witnessing. . . . It may be truly said that no single religious group in the world displayed more zeal and persistence in the attempt to spread the good news of the Kingdom than the Jehovah’s witnesses.”
Do the Soviets acknowledge that Jehovah’s witnesses are doing this? The Toronto Daily Star reported: “All religion is anathema, to the Soviets. . . . nothing infuriates them quite as much as do Jehovah’s witnesses. . . . Pravda reports that the Witnesses are becoming increasingly active. . . . [Their faith] is spreading, and all the mighty resources of the state seem unable to destroy it.”
The Soviet leaders do not like to hear that God is bringing this system to its end and replacing it with a righteous new order. But while Jehovah’s witnesses obey all the laws of that land that do not conflict with God’s laws, they will not compromise their faith by refusing to ‘bear witness to the good news.’
Thus, in The Kremlin’s Human Dilemma, author Maurice Hindus comments that the refusal of Jehovah’s witnesses to meddle in politics and “their irrepressible zeal for evangelizing, have made them particularly onerous to Moscow and bring them into continual clash with the Soviet police. Though they function underground, they are hunted out and given stiff jail sentences. But there is no stopping them. Suppressed in one place, they bob up in another.” He notes that ‘they appear indestructible.’
How have Jehovah’s witnesses come to be so widespread in the Soviet Union? After all, they are not recognized, and are not allowed to hold meetings, nor can they enter the country as missionaries. How then?
Keep in mind that God accomplishes his purpose no matter what any human does. In the case of the Soviet Union, God has let the Soviet’s own desires work toward accomplishing the preaching of the “good news.” In what way?
While there were a few Witnesses in Russia as early as 1904, a great impetus was given their work in 1939 and 1940. In those years the Soviet government annexed the former eastern part of Poland, in addition to the Baltic countries, and also Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina. In these areas lived many zealous Witnesses. Overnight they found themselves living in Soviet territory, coming into contact with other citizens of the Soviet Union. They preached to these and spread the message of God’s kingdom.
Another surge came during and after Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union. During that war, many Witnesses were thrown into Nazi concentration camps. Other inmates who were Soviet citizens came into contact with them. Some of these people became Jehovah’s witnesses. Returning to their homes in the Soviet Union after the war, they took with them their newly acquired faith. This they spread to their families, friends and neighbors.
Typical was what happened in the German concentration camp of Ravensbrueck. When it was emptied after the war, it was found that about 300 young Russian women had become Jehovah’s witnesses through their contact with Witness prisoners who were in the camps because of their faith.
Then, in 1950 and 1951 especially, the Soviet Union engaged in mass deportations of Jehovah’s witnesses to Siberia. But that only helped to spread their message into the farthest corners of that vast land. Thus today there are thousands of Jehovah’s witnesses in various parts of the Soviet Union. They are calling the people’s attention to the fact that this wicked world is nearing its finish, and that God’s kingdom will soon be the only government, and that it will directly rule the entire earth.
End of False Religion and Communism
When God takes action against this system, then, as the Bible shows, the first element to go will be false religion. In the Soviet Union, as elsewhere, what remains of the hypocritical religions of Christendom and heathendom will be crushed out of existence. As Bible prophecy shows, false religion, which has played the harlot with political rulers, will be made “devastated and naked, . . . completely burned with fire, because Jehovah God, who judged her, is strong.”—Rev. 17:16; 18:8.
Why this adverse judgment upon these religions and those who adhere to them? God’s Word answers: “They publicly declare they know God, but they disown him by their works.” (Titus 1:16) They have broken his laws, compromised his truths and have borne rotten fruit for centuries. And the Bible rule is: “Every tree not producing fine fruit gets cut down and thrown into the fire.” (Matt. 7:19) The fact that the traditional religions are disintegrating in the Soviet Union, and elsewhere, is evidence that God is not backing them. He has indeed abandoned them to their destruction.—Compare Matthew 21:43; 23:38.
But what about the ruling political elements? Will they fare any better? No, for they too have broken God’s laws, and have drenched the earth with innocent blood. They also come in for God’s attention. Revelation chapter 19 shows that God will annihilate “the kings of the earth and their armies,” as well as their followers. He has stated in his Word that he “will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms” existing today. All these forms of human rule, including the Soviet, will be replaced. That will mean a new order here on earth, governed from heaven by God. That heavenly government is the kingdom for which Jesus taught his followers to pray.—Rev. 19:11-21; Dan. 2:44; Matt. 6:9, 10.
Too, the destruction of all who have no respect for God and his laws will be no injustice. They want to go their own lawless way rather than conform to God’s standards of righteousness. As the Bible says: “Though the wicked one should be shown favor, he simply will not learn righteousness.” (Isa. 26:10) Therefore they will be removed,
Fighting Against God
Without doubt the Soviet Union’s fight against the religions of Christendom and heathendom has succeeded in great measure. But its fight against God’s purpose has not succeeded. Nor will it. For a certainty it will fail.
In this regard, the Soviets would have profited from the counsel given by a Law teacher who lived in the first century of our Common Era. This teacher, Gamaliel, gave the following advice to his contemporaries who were persecuting Jehovah’s Christian witnesses then: “I say to you, Do not meddle with these men, but let them alone; (because, if this scheme or this work is from men, it will be overthrown; but if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them;) otherwise, you may perhaps be found fighters actually against God.”—Acts 5:38, 39.
Soon, God will take action against those who fight against his rule and show it by fighting against his people. Such fighters against God will be cut off from the earth: “The upright are the ones that will reside in the earth, and the blameless are the ones that will be left over in it. As regards the wicked, they will be cut off from the very earth; and as for the treacherous, they will be torn away from it.”—Prov. 2:21, 22.
Yes, as a judgment from God, both hypocritical religion and atheistic Communism, with all their supporters, will be “cut off from the very earth.” Only those who now choose God as ruler and obey his laws will be “left over in it.”
Then, ultimately, in God’s new order, “the earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea.” (Isa. 11:9) As the Bible shows, that is the future of the land now called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and the rest of the earth as well.