When Christendom and Judaism Are No More!
1. (a) In the first century C.E., were the adherents to Judaism and the Edomites in agreement on their attitude toward Christianity? (b) Why are the Bible prophecies concerning Edom of interest to us today?
THE ancient nation of Edom (Idumea) was against the faithful worshipers of Jehovah God. Even in the days of the apostles of Jesus Christ, in the first century C.E., the staunch adherents to Judaism were one with the Edomites (Idumeans) in fighting against the newly begun Christianity. (Acts 4:25-28; 12:1-6) In the course of time the nation of Edom disappeared from the pages of history, but, for the major and complete fulfillment of Bible prophecy, that notorious nation has her modern counterpart. It is Christendom. So the Bible prophecies concerning Edom must today be understood from the standpoint of what befalls this modern-day counterpart.
2 In the outstanding prophecy against Edom as contained in Isaiah, chapter thirty-four, we read this ominous statement: “For Jehovah has a day of vengeance, a year of retributions for the legal case over Zion.” (Isaiah 34:8) Jehovah’s “day of vengeance,” his “year of retributions,” is at hand with reference to the modern-day counterpart of ancient Edom. So, as we consider the further part of this prophecy of Isaiah, we can have Christendom of today in mind. Foretelling the “retributions” that were to come for the hateful misconduct of Edom against ancient Zion or Jerusalem, the prophet Isaiah proceeds to say:
3 “And her torrents must be changed into pitch, and her dust into sulphur; and her land must become as burning pitch. By night or by day it will not be extinguished; to time indefinite its smoke will keep ascending. From generation to generation she will be parched; forever and ever no one will be passing across her. And the pelican and the porcupine must take possession of her, and long-eared owls and ravens themselves will reside in her; and he must stretch out over her the measuring line of emptiness and the stones [the plumb stones] of wasteness. Her nobles—there are none there whom they will call to the kingship itself, and her very princes will all become nothing. On her dwelling towers thorns must come up, nettles and thorny weeds in her fortified places; and she must become an abiding place of jackals, the courtyard for the ostriches. And haunters of waterless regions must meet up with howling animals, and even the goat-shaped demon will call to its companion. Yes, there the nightjar will certainly take its ease and find for itself a resting-place. There the arrow snake has made its nest and lays eggs, and it must hatch them and gather them together under its shadow. Yes, there the gledes must collect themselves together, each one with her mate.”—Isaiah 34:9-15.
4. (a) In brief, what is the condition there described? (b) For how long was this condition to continue?
4 That is anything but a description of a “garden of Eden” or “paradise of pleasure.” Rather, it is nothing less than a picture of utter desolation and ruin, a region unfit for humans to live in, but a well-suited haunt for wild animals and birds. The land of Edom is thus portrayed as becoming so parched that it appears as if its torrent valleys were running with pitch, and its dust were sulphur and then these combustible substances were set afire. This parched state of the land of Edom was to continue “forever and ever,” and there was to be no restoration of its former residents or their descendants. The “smoke” ascending from the symbolic burning of the land of Edom will be like the “smoke” from the fiery destruction of Babylon the Great, concerning which it is written: “The smoke from her goes on ascending forever and ever.”—Revelation 19:3; 18:18.
5. How does Obadiah 18 indicate what the spiritual Israelite remnant of today are to do with this fiery message against modern-day Edom?
5 In an application of this prophecy to Christendom’s coming destruction, the restored remnant of spiritual Israelites have the commission from God to declare this divine “vengeance” upon Christendom, as indicated in Obadiah’s corresponding prophecy, which reads: “And the house of Jacob [Israel] must become a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau as stubble; and they must set them ablaze and devour them. And there will prove to be no survivor to the house of Esau; for Jehovah himself has spoken it.” (Obadiah 18) For declaring such a fiery message against modern-day Edom, Christendom, the spiritual Israelite remnant of today incur her hatred all the more.
6. What assurance is embodied in the language of Isaiah 34:16, 17?
6 After painting a prophetic picture of how the “land of Edom” was to become a wild wasteland with only wild beasts and birds and snakes in it, the prophet Isaiah assures us that there will be no failure on Jehovah’s part in having this prophecy come true. He says to the students of Bible prophecies: “Search for yourselves in the book of Jehovah and read out loud: not one has been missing of them; they actually do not fail to have each one her mate, for it is the mouth of Jehovah that has given the command, and it is his spirit that has collected them together. And it is He that has cast for them the lot, and his own hand has apportioned the place to them by the measuring line. To time indefinite they will take possession of it; for generation after generation they will reside in it.”—Isaiah 34:16, 17.
7. In detail, what is the meaning of the language of Isaiah 34:16, 17?
7 Thus, instead of male and female Edomites pairing up again in their former land and producing one generation of Edomites after another, the wild beasts and birds will pair up. The females will not fail to have their mates. Jehovah God is the One who makes the once-populous land of Edom now an ideal place for such wild creature life. His hand of active power is the one that appointed this place for them and brought them together there. It is as if He were an architect and had stretched out the measuring line and dropped down the plumb line to measure off and guide straight the construction of the situation in the “land of Edom.” According to his measuring and guiding of things, it was to be a land of “emptiness” as far as humans are concerned and an area of “wasteness” as far as new human structures of any height are concerned. There was to be no rebirth of that land as the homeland of the Edomites, “the people devoted by me to destruction in justice.”—Isaiah 34:5, 11.
8. (a) What does that portend for Christendom? (b) How certain is it that this will happen to Christendom?
8 What an awe-striking end that prophecy portends for the modern-day “land of Edom,” namely, Christendom! It may strike the religionists with horror to think that Christendom, with her tremendous church population, her wealth and her religious buildings and institutions should come to such an end, with no hope of reconstruction. But just as certainly as the prophecy had its miniature fulfillment upon that now extinct people of Edom, just so surely will prophecy have a final and complete major fulfillment upon Edomitish Christendom. For, just as it is said with respect to the destruction of Babylon the Great, “Jehovah God, who judged her, is strong.”—Revelation 18:8.
9, 10. At the close of the prophecy, what outlook for the restored remnant of spiritual Israel is foretold by Obadiah?
9 How different in outlook is the situation for the restored remnant of spiritual Israelites! The prophecy of Obadiah regarding the “mountainous region of Esau” follows the pattern of Isaiah’s prophecy in contrasting the outcome of things for the Edomites and for the Israelites whom the Edomites rejoiced to see deported to Babylon. Turning from his description of the divine punishment to come upon the unbrotherly, malicious Edomites, the prophet Obadiah proceeds on to the close of his prophecy, saying:
10 “And in Mount Zion is where those escaping will prove to be, and it must become something holy; and the house of Jacob [Israel] must take possession of the things for them to possess. . . . And saviors will certainly come up onto Mount Zion, in order to judge the mountainous region of Esau; and the kingship must become Jehovah’s.”—Obadiah 17-21.
11. (a) What is the “Mount Zion” onto which “saviors will certainly come up”? (b) How does the contrast of spiritual conditions emphasize the beauty of the spiritual paradise?
11 It is upon the heavenly Mount Zion that Jehovah, in fulfillment of Psalm 2:5, 6, installs his Messianic King of the royal house of David, namely, Jesus Christ. It is upon the heavenly Mount Zion that the Savior, the Lamb of God, assembles to him the 144,000 spiritual Israelites, to reign with him for a thousand years. (Revelation 14:1-3; 7:4-8) It is the anointed remnant yet on earth of the 144,000 spiritual Israelites that now declares the judgment message of Jehovah against the modern-day “mountainous region of Esau,” the “land of Edom,” namely, Christendom. As these proclaimers of Jehovah’s judgments that foretell his vengeance and retributions to be executed upon the antitypical Edomites, they appreciate all the more fully the beauteous spiritual paradise into which He has ushered them since 1919 C.E.—Isaiah 35:1-10.
THE END OF CHRISTENDOM AND JUDAISM
12. Where does the Bible describe how the end of Christendom and Judaism will occur?
12 Understandably when Christendom, who is boasting today of nearly a thousand million church members, is reduced to the desolated estate once predicted for the land of Edom, it will cause great wonderment. How could such an almost unbelievable thing occur? Especially within this generation that experienced the end of the Gentile Times more than sixty years ago—in 1914 C.E. Also, how will the end of Christendom and of its close religious associate, Judaism, occur? Jehovah God, who inspired the prophecies of Isaiah and of Obadiah against Edom, has inspired the prophecy that tells us how. That prophecy is specifically recorded for us in the last book of the Holy Bible, Revelation, chapter seventeen.
13. Why was Christendom not mentioned by name in Revelation, chapter 17, but, significantly, what is there named?
13 In objection to such an idea, a defender of Christendom might argue that Christendom is not mentioned at all in Revelation, chapter seventeen. That is true, for Christendom was not in existence at the time that the apostle John wrote the book called Revelation. Instead of trying to create a fusion religion by bringing about a compromise between Rome’s pagan religion, and Christianity, and thus providing a suitable State religion, the Roman Empire was in the apostle John’s time trying to stamp out Christianity by cruel persecution. That was why the apostle John was an exile on the penal island of Patmos. (Revelation 1:9) So Christendom was not established until more than two centuries later, by Emperor Constantine the Great. However, something already existing is made the chief figure in Revelation, chapter seventeen, and that is Babylon the Great.
14. In the book of Revelation, what two symbolic women are set in contrast with each other, and what do they represent?
14 In the book of Revelation two symbolic women are set in contrast with each other. The one is this Babylon the Great, and the other is the “wife” of the Lamb of God. (Revelation 19:1-8) The one, Babylon the Great, is branded as a “harlot.” The other, “the bride, the Lamb’s wife,” is a virgin. (Revelation 17:1-5; 21:9) Both are religious organizations, the one unclean, the other clean. The “bride, the Lamb’s wife,” is the congregation of the 144,000 virginlike faithful followers of the Lamb Jesus Christ, all of them being spiritual Israelites. (Revelation 7:4-8; 14:1-5) Babylon the Great is composed of those who practice religions in opposition to true Christianity as practiced by the 144,000 spiritual Israelites. That is why the apostle John “saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the holy ones and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus.” (Revelation 17:6) The religion of the members of Babylon the Great is, therefore, not Christian, but Babylonish, hence false.—Isaiah 47:1, 12-15.
15. Who are the “kings of the earth” over whom Babylon the Great has exercised kingship?
15 Concerning Babylon the Great, it was explained to the apostle John: “The woman whom you saw means the great city that has a kingdom over the kings of the earth.” (Revelation 17:18) Because she thus sits as a “queen” over the kings of the earth, Babylon the Great stands for the world empire of false religion. (Revelation 18:7) She has exercised such imperial kingship, not merely over the earth’s kings during any given period or century, but also over a series of world powers (symbolic “kings”) down through millenniums of time. Down till the end of the Gentile Times in 1914 C.E., there was a succession of seven such world powers, namely, (1) the ancient Egyptian Empire, (2) the Assyrian Empire, (3) the neo-Babylonian Empire, (4) the Medo-Persian Empire, (5) the Grecian Empire, (6) the Roman Empire, and (7) the Anglo-American Dual World Power. This is portrayed by the fact that the beast ridden by the “harlot” has seven “heads.”
16. When saying, with regard to the heads of the “scarlet-colored wild beast” ridden by the “harlot,” that “one is,” what did the angel mean?
16 Telling the meaning of the various parts of this “scarlet-colored wild beast,” the angel said to John: “The seven heads mean seven mountains, where the woman sits on top. And there are seven kings: five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet arrived, but when he does arrive he must remain a short while.” (Revelation 17:9, 10) By the expression “one is,” the angel meant the sixth world power, the Roman Empire, that was holding the Christian apostle John a prisoner on the isle of Patmos.
17, 18. How was Christendom, right from her beginning, a part of Babylon the Great?
17 In the fourth century of our Common Era this sixth world power, by means of Emperor Constantine the Great as its Pontifex Maximus, brought about a fusion of the Roman pagan religion and the apostate Christian religion of some hundreds of “bishops” of religious congregations. By imperial decree, Constantine made the fusion religion the State religion. Thus nominal Christianity, which was Christian in name only, became the established religion of the Roman Empire. In this manner Christendom was brought to birth. By becoming the dominant religious organization of the Roman World Power, over which world power Babylon the Great had her kingdom, Christendom was made a part of Babylon the Great. Christendom was thus, in effect, a daughter organization of Babylon the Great, of whom it is said:
18 “Upon her forehead was written a name, a mystery: ‘Babylon the Great, the mother of the harlots and of the disgusting things of the earth.’”—Revelation 17:5.
19. (a) From what source do the outstanding doctrines and practices of Christendom come? (b) How, in imitating her religious mother, has Christendom shown herself to be a “harlot”?
19 It is no wonder, therefore, that the outstanding doctrines of the religious sects of Christendom and also her practices are pagan, Babylonish, stemming from ancient Babylon on the river Euphrates of Mesopotamia. Neither is it any wonder that Christendom imitates her religious mother, of whom it is said: “With whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, whereas those who inhabit the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.” (Revelation 17:1, 2) Spiritually speaking, Christendom is a “harlot,” for she has intimate friendship with this wicked world, concerning which unclean friendship James 4:4 says: “Adulteresses, do you not know that the friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever, therefore, wants to be a friend of the world is constituting himself an enemy of God.” The State churches of Christendom, her unions of Church and State, do not stand to her credit. They brand her as a spiritual fornicatrix, a meddler in world politics.
20. (a) So why is Christendom, though not named, to be understood as included in Revelation, chapter 17? (b) What does the future hold for her?
20 Can there be any question that Christendom is a part of Babylon the Great, with a church membership that makes her the dominant part of that world empire of false religion? None! Hence, even though Christendom is not mentioned by name in Revelation, chapter seventeen, she is included, and is to be understood, in that chapter. Consequently, what is there pictured as happening to the “great harlot,” Babylon the Great, must happen also to Christendom. Revelation, chapter seventeen, does show, then, how Christendom is to be destroyed. This must be so, because no part of Babylon the Great will escape destruction. The religious “harlots” that she has mothered must perish with her. So, then, as we now consider the divine “judgment upon the great harlot who sits on many waters,” we must keep Christendom in mind as being inseparably involved, included.—Revelation 17:1, 5.
THE ROLE OF THE EIGHTH WORLD POWER
21. What did God’s angel tell the apostle John about “an eighth king”?
21 To the wondering apostle John, God’s angel said: “I will tell you the mystery of the woman and of the wild beast that is carrying her and that has the seven heads and the ten horns: The wild beast that you saw was, but is not, and yet is about to ascend out of the abyss, and it is to go off into destruction. And when they see how the wild beast was, but is not, and yet will be present, those who dwell on the earth will wonder admiringly, but their names have not been written upon the scroll of life from the founding of the world. . . . And the wild beast that was but is not, it is also itself an eighth king, but springs from the seven, and it goes off into destruction.”—Revelation 17:7-11.
22. What is that “eighth king,” and how did it ‘spring from the seven’?
22 The symbolic wild beast with seven heads and ten horns pictures “an eighth king,” that is to say, an eighth world power. This world power came into existence after the end of the Gentile Times in 1914 C.E. and after World War I. Modern history identifies this Eighth World Power as being the international organization for world peace and security. This was formed in 1919 and went into operation early in 1920. The Seventh World Power, namely, the Anglo-American World Power, was largely responsible for the formation of that organization for world peace and security. (Revelation 13:11-15) It began under the name “The League of Nations.” It sprang from the preceding seven world powers in that it combined in itself the Seventh World Power and all the relics of the preceding six world powers.
23. (a) When did that “wild beast . . . ascend out of the abyss,” and with what name? (b) What part do Christendom and Judaism have in the United Nations?
23 In 1939 C.E. the League of Nations went into the abyss of deathlike impotency because of the outbreak of World War II. After the close of World War II in the summer of 1945, this Eighth World Power that was assigned to safeguarding world peace and security ascended out of the wartime abyss, especially by the aid of the Seventh World Power, the dual world power of Britain and America. It took on a new name, United Nations. Beginning with fifty-one member nations, it today has one hundred and thirty-eight member nations. Christendom has a large representation in the United Nations by its many nations that are members of that world organization. Judaism, with its worldwide membership of 14,443,925 Orthodox and Reform Jews, has its representation in the United Nations by means of the Republic of Israel since the year 1949. So Babylon the Great dominates Judaism.
24. How did Babylon the Great get on the back of the “scarlet-colored wild beast,” and how does she view her position there?
24 When the scarlet-colored wild beast with seven heads and ten horns ascended out of the abyss in the form of the United Nations, Babylon the Great immediately got on its back again as a “queen” with a “kingdom over the kings of the earth.” She took this action by putting her faith in that man-made organization for world peace and security rather than in the Messianic kingdom of God that was being proclaimed world wide by Jehovah’s Christian witnesses. She put her dependence upon this antichrist organization for her preservation from annihilation in the postwar period. Confidently, riding that symbolic wild beast, Babylon the Great “keeps saying, ‘I sit a queen, and I am no widow, and I shall never see mourning.’” (Revelation 18:7) But she has miscalculated!
25. By what means, as God’s angel told the apostle John, would the harlotrous world empire of false religion come to its end?
25 The “ten horns” of that symbolic scarlet-colored wild beast are destined to turn upon the harlotrous world empire of false religion. Said God’s angel to the apostle John as he watched the prophetic vision: “And the ten horns that you saw mean ten kings, who have not yet [in John’s day] received a kingdom, but they do receive authority as kings one hour with the wild beast [by joining the modern world organization for peace and security]. These have one thought, and so they give their power and authority to the wild beast [now the United Nations]. . . . The waters that you saw, where the harlot is sitting, mean peoples and crowds and nations and tongues. And the ten horns that you saw, and the wild beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her devastated and naked, and will eat up her fleshy parts and will completely burn her with fire. . . . And the woman whom you saw means the great city [Babylon the Great] that has a kingdom over the kings of the earth.”—Revelation 17:12-18.
26, 27. (a) What change in attitude on the part of the political rulers will evidently lead up to this violent action? (b) Why is their ‘burning her with fire’ appropriate?
26 The symbolic “ten horns’ (the member nations of the world organization for peace and security) will lose their passionate attraction to the harlotrous world empire of false religion and will gore her to death. In fact, the whole symbolic wild beast (now the United Nations) will cease to find satisfaction in their lustful relationship with the “great harlot,” Babylon the Great, and the mouths of the “seven heads” of the scarlet-colored “wild beast” will “eat up her fleshy parts.” To the whole “wild beast” organization, “ten horns” and all, she will become as a worn-out old harlot, no longer desirable for greedy, selfish use. Realistically, under stress of the global crisis, the political rulers, whose nations are members in the United Nations, will become hardheaded in the light of the worsening world conditions. Ignoring all sentimentality, they will be forced to take drastic, heartless action for the preservation of their political institutions and social, economic structure. They will see that the world empire of false religion is an international nuisance and a hindrance to their emergency operations because of the Babylonish religious beliefs, practices and customs.
27 The many gods and goddesses that Babylon the Great has worshiped will not come to the aid of the world empire of false religion, to save her from action by her former lustful paramours. Her former lovers, the political and military elements, will realize that those deities of Babylon the Great are helpless and have been of no saving powers to them when prayed to by the priests, chaplains, clergymen and religious potentates of the world empire of false religion. Those political and military elements will feel deceived, tricked, fooled and will lose respect for worldly religion. They will not have to turn Communist in order to “hate the harlot,” but will simply turn radical and thus be able to cooperate with “godless Communism” in doing away with the hypocritical religious organization. They will give her the treatment that was meted out to some harlots in ancient times, “completely burn her with fire.”—Genesis 38:24.
28. When all of Babylon the Great is brought to desolation, why will Christendom not be exempt?
28 We can imagine what this will mean to the Vatican and its Basilica of Saint Peter, to the religious cathedrals, churches, mosques, temples, synagogues, shrines, and to other religious structures! We can imagine what is in store for those who officiate in impressive vestments in those religious buildings. Let not Christendom imagine that she will escape because she parades before the world in the name of Christ. She, too, has played the religious “harlot” like her mother, Babylon the Great. The friendship that she has cultivated and maintained with the political and military elements of this world will fail her. She will be shocked at finding that adulterous friendship with this world made her an “enemy of God” and of his Christ. (James 4:4) Even the celebrating of the Holy Year of 1975 does not alter her status before Jehovah God. She must be reduced to the state of emptiness and wasteness like that foretold for ancient Edom.—Isaiah 34:11-13; compare Revelation 18:2, 8.
29. (a) In what way has Judaism identified itself with Babylon the Great? (b) Are there any who have come out of Judaism, so as to avoid its fate?
29 As respects Judaism, it has taken its stand with Babylon the Great. The Republic of Israel, as one of the 138 Jewish, Arab, Moslem, Hindu, Buddhist, so-called “Christian,” Communist members of the United Nations, has been under the rider of that Eighth World Power, namely, Babylon the Great. (Revelation 17:3-6) In the first century of our Common Era the Jewish Pharisee named Saul of Tarsus came out of Judaism and became the Christian apostle surnamed Paul. (Galatians 1:1, 13-17; Philippians 3:3-6) Dissimilar to this Saul of Tarsus, the vast majority of the natural, circumcised Jews have clung to the traditional Judaism.
30. What lies ahead for both Christendom and Judaism, and how do events of the first century indicate that?
30 In the year of 70 C.E., their stronghold of Judaism, Jerusalem, was destroyed by the pagan Romans, just as Jesus Christ foretold. (Matthew 24:1-3, 15-22; Luke 21:20-24) That destruction of Jerusalem and its temple and the desolation of the land of Judah by the Romans became a prophetic type of the destruction and desolation now due to come upon Christendom in the “great tribulation” ahead. Since Judaism holds to the stand that it took in the first century C.E., and that brought disaster on it in 70 C.E., it will suffer the same fate as its antitype, Christendom, will suffer.
31. Who are the people that stand out as separate and distinct from Christendom and Judaism, and what conditions do they enjoy even now?
31 So, the time is approaching when Babylon the Great is no more! This means that the time must come when Christendom and Judaism are no more! But what about the proclaimers of the established Messianic kingdom of God, namely, Jehovah’s Christian witnesses? What about the spiritual paradise in which they are now residing? The inspired prophetic Scriptures reveal to them what to expect.—Amos 3:7; Revelation 1:1-3.