On Whose Side Are We When World Distress Climaxes?
1. (a) Only by what means will the absolute destruction of the present wicked earthly system of things come about? (b) Why is watchfulness important for all of us?
THE world distress that has gripped the man-made system of things since the year 1914 C.E. has caused incalculable damage. But it has not brought about the dissolution of the political “superior authorities” and of human society organized under such political authorities. (Romans 13:1; Titus 3:1) Symbolically speaking, the old “heavens” and “elements” and “earth and the works in it” are still with us. The absolute dissolution or destruction of such age-old things will be brought about only by the “presence of the day of Jehovah.” Although all Biblical and historical indications are that it is at hand, yet “Jehovah’s day will come as a thief.”—2 Peter 3:10-12; 1 Thessalonians 5:2.
2. Having in mind that there would still be anointed Christians on earth when Jehovah’s day arrives, what admonition did the apostle Peter write?
2 The sure evidence from the Bible is that the final members of the congregation of the Kingdom joint heirs of Christ would still be here on earth when Jehovah’s day arrives upon this system of things. This fact the apostle Peter took into account. That is why, after describing the effect of that “day” upon the symbolic old “heavens,” “elements” and “earth,” the apostle added this admonition: “Hence, beloved ones, since you are awaiting these things, do your utmost to be found finally by him spotless and unblemished and in peace. Furthermore, consider the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul according to the wisdom given him also wrote you, speaking about these things as he does also in all his letters. In them, however, are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unsteady are twisting, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.”—2 Peter 3:14-16.
3. In line with that admonition, what have the remnant of spiritual Israel done so as to keep “spotless and unblemished and in peace”?
3 Since they are still awaiting Jehovah’s day and its destruction upon this ungodly system of things, the final members of the remnant of spiritual Israel are doing their utmost to be found spotless, unblemished and peaceful in the sight of the Supreme Judge, the Sovereign Lord Jehovah. Despite all the increasing pressures from this distressed world, they hold to the “pure religion and undefiled”; they hold to the pure “form of worship” by keeping themselves without spot from the unclean world. (James 1:27, AV; NW) They refuse to worship the political “wild beast” and its man-made “image,” the United Nations. (Revelation 13:1-15; 15:2-4) They keep from being stained with bloodguilt, for they keep strictly neutral and nonparticipating with respect to the sanguinary wars of nations and political parties of this world. They copy Jesus Christ their Leader in being no part of this world.—John 15:19; 17:14, 16.
4. How has it worked out that the “patience of our Lord” has meant “salvation”?
4 They obey the exhortation of the apostle Peter: “Consider the patience of our Lord as salvation.” (2 Peter 3:15) They recognize that the patience of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah in not bringing the “day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men” sooner has allowed for their own salvation to be worked out. (2 Peter 3:7) It has also allowed for the means of salvation to be offered to others.
5. To what work have the members of the remnant of spiritual Israel applied themselves, in harmony with the spirit of Peter’s exhortation?
5 Taking proper advantage of this time allowance for salvation, they have carried out the command of the resurrected Jesus Christ to go and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in water and teaching them to observe all the things that he commanded them. (Matthew 28:18-20) They have shown what they believe to be the only hope and the only rightful government for all mankind by acting in fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations.” (Matthew 24:14; Mark 13:10) By this course they have kept “seeking first the kingdom [of the heavenly Father] and his righteousness,” instead of butting in on worldly politics along with the clergymen of Christendom and the priests of pagandom. (Matthew 6:33) Thus they have carried out their commission to be “ambassadors substituting for Christ.”—2 Corinthians 5:20.
6. Whom have they been aiding to avail themselves of “the patience of our Lord,” and how many will yet be gathered?
6 By undeviatingly carrying forward this disciple-making activity world wide according to the patience of the Supreme Judge Jehovah, the anointed remnant of those Kingdom-seekers have been privileged to do more than gather together the last remaining ones of the Kingdom heirs. Since the year 1935 C.E. they have been directed by Jehovah’s Word into gathering together to His spiritual temple of worship the “great crowd” of sheeplike persons foretold in Revelation 7:9-17. That prophecy sets no limit on the number of such sheeplike ones that are to make up the “great crowd,” and so the work goes on of gathering into the spiritual temple as many as possible during the time allowed for by the patience of God, who “does not desire any to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) Just how many of these will be gathered before the “presence of the day of Jehovah” no man can now predict; but after this “great crowd” comes forth as survivors, out of the “great tribulation,” then it can be learned by a direct count or census just how many the “great crowd” finally includes.
7. (a) All of these, along with the anointed remnant, have accepted what name? (b) How do they endeavor to live up to that name, and in how many lands are they carrying on their activity?
7 All the dedicated, baptized sheeplike ones already gathered and also the anointed remnant of the 144,000 spiritual Israelites have declared themselves before the whole world to be Jehovah’s Christian witnesses. (Isaiah 43:10-12; 44:8) By word of mouth and by distributing printed Biblical publications they are sincerely endeavoring to live up to that name, measuring up to the responsibility of that name. The organized congregations of these Christian witnesses of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah run up into the tens of thousands around the globe, the 1975 Yearbook reporting 34,576 congregations as of August 31, 1974. As many as 207 lands and island groups are reporting preaching and discipling activities by zealous witnesses.
8. (a) Whose ownership of them do they all acknowledge, and how does this serve as a protection? (b) Obediently, what anniversary do they keep in remembrance of him, and how long will they continue to do this?
8 They heed the warning of the apostle Peter, who foretold the coming of false teachers, who profess to be Christian but who “disown even the owner that bought them, bringing speedy destruction upon themselves.” (2 Peter 2:1) The anointed remnant of Christ’s kingdom joint heirs and those of the “great crowd” who have “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” loyally acknowledge the ownership of ‘the one that bought them,’ namely, the Lamb Jesus Christ. In obedience to his command for them to act in remembrance of him, they assembled on Thursday, March 27, 1975, which was the anniversary of his death on Passover day of 33 C.E., and they observed the Lord’s Supper that he established as a memorial of his sacrificial death. (Matthew 26:20-30; Luke 22:14-20; 1 Corinthians 11:20-26) They are determined to “keep proclaiming the death of the Lord” in this prescribed manner “until he arrives” to take the remnant of his “bride” class to be with him in his heavenly Father’s home above.—Ephesians 5:23-27.
9. How do the Christian witnesses of Jehovah show that they take to heart the importance of being found “in peace” among themselves?
9 In harmony with the exhortation of the apostle Peter, all these Christian witnesses of Jehovah do their utmost to be found finally “in peace” among themselves. Hence, they do not go along with the false teachers who “quietly bring in destructive sects.” (2 Peter 3:14; 2:1, 2) Thus they avoid coming into the religious condition of Christendom, which is split up into a thousand sects or more. It is true that the anointed remnant of spiritual Israelites have the heavenly Kingdom hope and the unnumbered “great crowd” has the hope of eternal life in the Paradise earth, but still they all, of both classes, worship peacefully together in Jehovah’s spiritual temple, as “one flock” under the “one shepherd,” Jesus Christ.—John 10:11, 16; Revelation 7:17; Micah 2:12.
10, 11. (a) What is the “administration” to which the apostle Paul refers and to which both the anointed remnant and the “other sheep” submit? (b) As shown in Ephesians 1:9-14, what is the objective of that “administration”?
10 In behalf of true Christian peace, the anointed remnant with the heavenly inheritance and the “other sheep” of the “great crowd” with the earthly hope submit to God’s “administration,” which he has been carrying on since the day of Pentecost of 33 C.E. This “administration” or managerial procedure that God has carried on according to his purpose is explained to us in Ephesians 1:9-14. Let us note the objective of that “administration” or managerial procedure, as we read these words concerning Jehovah God:
11 “He made known to us the sacred secret of his will. It is according to his good pleasure which he purposed in himself for an administration at the full limit of the appointed times [or, from Pentecost of 33 C.E. onward], namely, to gather all things together again in the Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth. Yes, in him [Christ], in union with whom we were also assigned as heirs [of God], in that we were foreordained according to the purpose of him who operates all things according to the way his will counsels, that we should serve for the praise of his glory, we who have been first to hope in the Christ. But you also hoped in him after you heard the word of truth, the good news about your salvation. By means of him also, after you believed, you were sealed with the promised holy spirit, which is a token in advance of our inheritance, for the purpose of releasing by a ransom God’s own possession, to his glorious praise.”
12. (a) What is “God’s own possession,” referred to in the latter part of that scripture? (b) What are “the things in the heavens,” referred to in Ephesians 1:10, and what does their being gathered together in the Christ mean?
12 What is “God’s own possession” that is released “by a ransom”? It is the congregation of Kingdom heirs, and these have a heavenly inheritance, the gift of God’s holy spirit to them being a token in advance of this heavenly inheritance. They are “the things in the heavens” that are to be gathered together again in the Christ, lined up under Jesus Christ as the spiritual Head. They were assigned as “heirs” of God and joint heirs of Jesus Christ. The gathering together again of these under Jesus Christ as the Head is the first phase of God’s “administration” according to which he will bring about unity in all the universe.—Romans 8:16, 17.
13. (a) What further step is there to be taken toward the unification of God’s universe? (b) Is the United Nations contributing to the accomplishment of that purpose?
13 However, God’s “administration” or modus operandi does not achieve its full purpose by the gathering together again of “the things in the heavens” into the Christ. Unity throughout God’s universe is not fully accomplished by that first step. There are “the things on the earth” that also need to be gathered together again in the Christ. This earthly gathering is the second and final step toward the unification of God’s universe. Satan the Devil and his demon angels are opposed to this unification of the universe under the headship of the one whom God appointed, Jesus Christ. Likewise, the political governments of this world are opposed to that unification. Their highest conception of the unification of “the things on the earth” is the man-made United Nations, the successor to the League of Nations. Nonetheless, nothing can thwart the purpose of Almighty God, “who operates all things according to the way his will counsels.” His modus operandi or “administration” will prove successful.
14. Since when has the gathering together again of “the things on the earth” under Christ been evident, and to what extent has it proceeded?
14 It is apparent, now, that Jehovah God is proceeding with the second phase of his “administration” for universal unification. The establishment of the Messianic kingdom in the heavens at the end of the Gentile Times in 1914 C.E. came at an appointed time, following which the gathering together again of “the things on the earth” could go ahead. The gathering of the anointed remnant of Christ’s joint heirs went forward after the close of World War I and moved on toward the completion of the first phase of the “administration” for unification. Rather surprisingly, however, and to the great joy of the anointed remnant, the gathering together again of “the things on the earth” under Christ the Head began in the year 1935 C.E. In the spring of that year the identifying of the long-misunderstood “great crowd” of Revelation 7:9-17 took place according to God’s purpose and time. Even the international commotion caused by World War II did not halt the gathering of the “great crowd” with its earthly Paradise hope. Today, more than forty years later, more than two million are identifying themselves with that “great crowd” at Jehovah’s spiritual temple.
15, 16. What, then, is the ‘sacred secret of God’s will,’ as referred to at Ephesians 1:9, 10?
15 Thankful can all of us be today that Jehovah God has kindly made known to us the “sacred secret of his will,” or “his hidden purpose,” for the unification of all his created universe. Especially thankful can we be that our own eyes are seeing how his purposed way of managing things in behalf of unification has entered into its second stage by the gathering of the “great crowd” of earthlings who hope for an earthly paradise. Along with the apostle Paul, we can gratefully say with regard to God’s grace or undeserved kindness:
16 “He has made known to us his hidden purpose—such was his will and pleasure determined beforehand in Christ—to be put into effect [or, for an administration] when the time was ripe: namely, that the universe, all in heaven and on earth, might be brought into a unity in Christ.”—Ephesians 1:9, 10, The New English Bible; Luther (German); NW; Rotherham.
17. What will such unification really mean?
17 A universe unified under Jesus Christ as Head will mean unity of heaven and earth. This will mean a peaceful universe under Jehovah God the Universal Sovereign. It will therefore mean “upon earth peace among men of goodwill,” among men toward whom God has goodwill.—Luke 2:14.
UNITEDLY FACING THE ONCOMING ONSLAUGHTS
18. (a) In contrast with the world around them, what is the condition that exists among the anointed remnant and those of the “other sheep,” and why? (b) So how do they feel about the closeness of the “presence of the day of Jehovah” and what it will mean?
18 In sharp contrast with the increasing turbulence on the earth, those of the anointed remnant of spiritual Israelites and those of the “great crowd” of “other sheep” are found to be “in peace” among themselves in all lands. They are enjoying a spiritual paradise under God’s favor and blessing although the natural environment of man is being polluted more and more. They are enjoying the spiritual security that is picturesquely described in Psalm 91 of the Bible. Together, both the anointed remnant and the “great crowd” are dwelling “in the secret place of the Most High” and have procured for themselves “lodging under the very shadow of the Almighty One.” (Psalm 91:1) They trust in Jehovah their God for protection and rescue. Without fear they await the “presence of the day of Jehovah” with its execution of divine judgments and the “destruction of the ungodly men.” Dissolution of this old worldly system will then occur, but their Christian unity will not be dissolved as they keep gathered together under Christ the Head.
19. Why will the events associated with the “presence of the day of Jehovah” not come as a shock to the anointed remnant and the “great crowd”?
19 If the people, even those in Christendom, do not believe what has already been said about the matter on a worldwide scale, there is plainly given warning for them to read in the pages of the Holy Bible. Warning of what? This: That during the “presence of the day of Jehovah” will come the shock of a lifetime—first, the astonishing shock to the religious sensibilities of hundreds of millions of people around the globe! Will those shocked ones include the anointed remnant and the “great crowd” of fellow worshipers in their spiritual paradise? No, indeed! Why, they have been expecting the religiously shocking event! They are in harmony with that event, for it will be the judgment of Jehovah God. For decades they have been serving notice upon the people about it. They have not failed in their duty to forewarn the people who are directly involved about the surprisingly sudden destruction of that internationally notorious religious harlot, Babylon the Great.
20. What urgent counsel from Revelation 18:2-4 have the Christian witnesses of Jehovah broadcast to the world?
20 Jehovah’s Christian witnesses are the ones that have identified who Babylon the Great is, what she symbolizes. And so they have made plain to the people just who are the ones immediately to be hurt. They have not tried to do just a lot of “calamity howling.” It has not been merely a religious scare that they have created, when they broadcast to the world the urgent counsel of the Apocalypse: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues.”—Revelation (Apocalypse) Re 18:2-4, NW; Douay Version.
21. (a) Whom have Jehovah’s Christian witnesses identified Babylon the Great as being? (b) Against what part of Babylon the Great will the execution of divine judgment come first, and why?
21 The whole religious realm on earth is involved, for, after much study of the situation, Jehovah’s Christian witnesses have identified Babylon the Great as being, not the Roman Catholic Church, no, not organized Christendom, but the world empire of false religion. The chief component member and mouthpiece in that religious world empire is Christendom! She is the most reprehensible member thereof because she claims to be “Christian.” Her blasphemies exceed those of “pagandom”! Her persecution of religious minorities (including the true Christians) exceeds that of “heathendom”! Her bloodguilt exceeds that of all the non-Christian religious realm! Not out of line with this, Christendom will be given first attention in the execution of divine judgment upon Babylon the Great, according to what appears from the inspired Scriptures.—Jeremiah 25:13-29.
GOD’S STRANGE DEED AND UNUSUAL WORK
22. (a) Where do we find a historic parallel of modern-day Christendom? (b) How does the language of Isaiah 28:15 well describe the course of the rulers of ancient Jerusalem?
22 Christendom of today finds an ancient parallel of herself in unfaithful Judah and Jerusalem in her final years before the utter desolation of that Jewish religious center and its territory by pagan armies of Babylon in the year 607 B.C.E. As the inspired warnings of Jehovah’s prophets continued to multiply against unfaithful Jerusalem, she tried worldly methods to preserve herself and to prove the divine prophecies to be a lie. She felt that she had made a covenant with Death according to the terms of which Death would not lay her low. She kept persuading herself that she had come to a common “vision” with Sheol, according to which Sheol (the common grave of mankind) would not behold or look upon her going down into the grave like a lifeless corpse. She took refuge in a deceitful worldly arrangement that was to prove a “lie.” She concealed herself from predicted destruction in a scheme that would not prove true to claims and expectations, thus concealing herself in a “falsehood.” She did not take refuge in Jehovah as God and find concealment in Him.—Isaiah 28:14-16.
23, 24. (a) In what way has modern-day Christendom followed a similar course? (b) So what will come upon Christendom, as foretold by the prophet Isaiah?
23 Modern-day Christendom has done similarly. She has made adulterous friendly arrangements with the secular political powers for her own perpetuation. She has not put her faith and trust in the heavenly Messianic kingdom of God that Jehovah’s Christian witnesses have been proclaiming world wide since particularly the postwar year of 1919 C.E. Therefore what became true of ancient Jerusalem and Judah in miniature fulfillment of Bible prophecy will now become true in a major, complete fulfillment of the same Bible prophecy. Ancient history shows how true Jehovah’s prophecy proved to be, in which he said of unbelieving Jerusalem:
24 “And I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the leveling instrument [in framing things according to his purpose]; and the hail must sweep away the refuge of a lie, and the waters themselves will flood out the very place of concealment. And your covenant with Death will certainly be dissolved, and that vision of yours with Sheol will not stand. The overflowing flash flood, when it passes through—you must also become for it a trampling place. As often as it passes through, it will take you men away, because morning by morning it will pass through, during the day and during the night; and it must become nothing but a reason for quaking to make others understand what has been heard.”—Isaiah 28:17-19, 2, 3.
25. (a) Why, as the prophet says, will hearing the report of what is taking place be a “reason for quaking”? (b) Jehovah’s action at that time will be like what he did on what previous occasions?
25 Why will it be a reason for one to quake on merely hearing the report? Because the report will declare that all the worldly-wise schemes made by unfaithful professed worshipers of God have proved to be inadequate for covering one and for giving one a comfortable ease as in a bed with a sheet over it. “For,” the prophecy through Isaiah goes on to explain, “the couch has proved too short for stretching oneself on, and the woven sheet itself is too narrow when wrapping oneself up. For Jehovah will rise up just as at Mount Perazim [where, after making a frontal attack upon the enemy Philistines, King David said: ‘The true God has broken through my enemies by my hand like a gap made by waters’], he will be agitated just as in the low plain near Gibeon [where, before giving King David a second victory over the Philistines, Jehovah said to him: ‘The true God will have gone out before you to strike the camp of the Philistines down,’ this time from their rear], that he may do his deed—his deed is strange—and that he may work his work—his work is unusual. And now do not show yourselves scoffers, in order that your bands may not grow strong, for there is an extermination, even something decided upon, that I [Isaiah] have heard of from the Sovereign Lord, Jehovah of armies, for all the land.”—Isaiah 28:20-22; 1 Chronicles 14:8-16; 2 Samuel 5:17-25; also Joshua 10:1-14.
26. What is the ‘strange deed,’ the ‘unusual work,’ that Jehovah will soon perform, and why is it aptly described in that way?
26 What more “strange” deed could there be, what more “unusual” work could there be, on the part of Jehovah God, than His bringing about the destruction of Christendom? Nothing else could be, for a person could ask: Has Christendom not claimed to rule “by the grace of God” over her religious realm, and does she not claim to represent the Christ of God on earth? Yes! And so, should Jehovah not be expected to preserve Christendom, which, by her Bible societies, has spread the Holy Bible throughout the earth in hundreds of languages and by more than a thousand million copies? In the face of these things, the fact that the Almighty God does not preserve Christendom during the “presence of the day of Jehovah” will appear “strange” to the millions of churchgoers of Christendom! The fact that He brings about Christendom’s violent destruction at the beginning of the approaching “great tribulation” will seem to be “unusual” indeed.
DOWN WITH BABYLON THE GREAT AS WITH A SWIFT PITCH!
27. (a) For what reason does Jehovah annihilate Christendom first? (b) Why will her destruction come “as a thief”?
27 The just reason for the annihilation of Christendom first on the list of false religious organizations is that she is not “found finally by him [Jehovah] spotless and unblemished and in peace.” (2 Peter 3:14) This, in spite of all her claims to be God’s one true and only Church! She is found to be hypocritical, parading under the name of Christianity, while at the same time being Babylonish in teaching and practice. Because her fiery destruction on Jehovah’s day for the execution of divine judgment will be a “strange” deed and an “unusual” work, it will come upon her “as a thief.”—2 Peter 3:10.
28. Why is the destruction of Christendom necessary in order for Jehovah to be vindicated?
28 By His destruction of Christendom the Sovereign Lord Jehovah must absolve himself from all responsibility for her shameful course throughout the centuries of her existence. He must vindicate himself as never having had any connection with her and as never having engaged her for a spiritual wedlock with his beloved Son to be ‘the bride of Christ.’ A religious harlot she has been; and Jehovah God must show that he recognized her as an “enemy of God” because she was a “friend of the world.”—James 4:4.
29. (a) Does the divine judgment upon false religion stop with the wiping out of Christendom, or what? (b) By what means will Babylon the Great be destroyed, and why do they do it?
29 The divine judgment upon false religion does not come to a halt with the wiping out of Christendom. If the foremost member of that false religious world empire, Babylon the Great, must go, so must all the remaining component parts of her. All of her must go, without any traces of her being left. All the fleshy parts of this international harlot must be eaten up as by a wild beast. She must be made devastated, naked! The consuming of her as by fire must be complete, for so it is decreed in God’s unfailing Word: “And the ten horns that you saw, and the wild beast [the political Eighth World Power of today], 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.” (Revelation 17:16) Ironically, her former worldly friends will be the very ones to destroy her, not out of love for God and Christ, but out of disgust and contempt toward her.
30. When the political powers in the United Nations proceed to strip and destroy Babylon the Great, may Jehovah’s witnesses also feel the effects to some extent?
30 The Eighth World Power, being a globe-embracing political organization with 138 member nations today, will take action against whatever purports to be religious, spiritual, throughout the earth. Even Jehovah’s Christian witnesses cannot escape from being affected. True, the 138 members of the United Nations organization know that Jehovah’s Christian witnesses are no part of Christendom, no, no part of harlotrous Babylon the Great as a whole. They know that Jehovah’s witnesses have not messed themselves up with the dirty politics of this world and have not tried to ride the symbolic scarlet-colored “wild beast” having seven heads and ten horns. So, when getting Babylon the Great off its back and stripping and cremating her, this political “wild beast” will not aim at Jehovah’s witnesses directly when it settles accounts with the hated “mother of the harlots and of the disgusting things of the earth.” (Revelation 17:5) Nevertheless, it could hardly be otherwise than that, when the political powers represented in the United Nations of today take what they believe are needed measures against all religions, Jehovah’s witnesses will be touched to some extent. For example, by the emergency taxation of all religious property. Or, even the expropriation of all religious valuables and properties. Or the withdrawing of State charters to religious corporations, so as to accomplish their destruction.
31. As illustrated in the case of the apostle John, what position will Jehovah’s anointed witnesses occupy while Babylon the Great is being destroyed?
31 However, the prophetic Scriptures picture the Christian witnesses of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah as being spectators to the terror-striking annihilation of millenniums-old Babylon the Great. Apparently, the aged apostle John on the penal isle of Patmos was a representative of the anointed remnant of spiritual Israel today. By one of the seven angels that were charged with pouring out the “seven last plagues” upon the Devil’s visible organization, the apostle John was requested: “Come, I will show you the judgment upon the great harlot who sits on many waters [peoples, crowds, nations], 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; 21:9.
32, 33. (a) To what did John then become a spectator? (b) Whom did John not see being destroyed with Babylon the Great, but, instead, who is avenged by that act of divine justice?
32 To what did John then become a spectator? John answers: “And he carried me away in the power of the spirit into a wilderness. And I caught sight of a woman sitting upon a scarlet-colored wild beast that was full of blasphemous names [accumulated down through the existence of the Seven World Powers] and that had seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and was adorned with gold and precious stone and pearls and had in her hand a golden cup that was full of disgusting things and the unclean things of her fornication. And 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.’ And I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the holy ones and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus. . . . ‘And the woman whom you saw means the great city [Babylon] that has a kingdom over the kings of the earth.’”—Revelation 17:3-6, 18.
33 At his observation point out there in the “wilderness” the apostle John became a spectator to the “judgment upon the great harlot,” the destruction of Babylon the Great by the scarlet-colored wild beast with seven heads and ten horns. John did not see the “witnesses of Jesus” being destroyed with blood-drunk Babylon the Great. (Revelation 17:15, 16) After the apostle John next sees Babylon the Great pictured as a Big Business city laid in ruins, he hears the cry from heaven to the observers: “Be glad over her, O heaven, also you holy ones and you apostles and you prophets, because God has judicially exacted punishment for you from her!” (Revelation 18:20) Thus the God of justice avenges his faithful worshipers who have suffered at the hands of Babylon the Great. A rightful cause for gladness!
34, 35. How does the prophetic vision seen by the apostle John indicate that the destruction of Babylon the Great will not be a long-dragged-out affair?
34 Finally, the apostle John sees in prophetic vision what will be witnessed by modern-day spectators, those who have heeded the divine command to “get out” of Babylon the Great and become the people of Jehovah God the Almighty. The action-packed scene that John sees indicates that the bringing of Babylon the Great down to utter ruin will not be a long-dragged-out affair. John describes this prophetic tableau, saying:
35 “And a strong angel lifted up a stone like a great millstone and hurled it into the sea, saying: ‘Thus with a swift pitch will Babylon the great city be hurled down, and she will never be found again. And the sound of singers who accompany themselves on the harp and of musicians and of flutists and of trumpeters will never be heard in you again, and no craftsman of any trade will ever be found in you again, and no sound of a millstone will ever be heard in you again, and no light of a lamp will ever shine in you again, and no voice of a bridegroom and of a bride will ever be heard in you again; because your traveling merchants were the top-ranking men of the earth, for by your spiritistic practice all the nations were misled. Yes, in her was found the blood of prophets and of holy ones and of all those who have been slaughtered on the earth.’”—Revelation 18:21-24.
36. Why will Jehovah’s Christian witnesses themselves take no part in the violent destruction of Babylon the Great?
36 At the approaching fulfillment of that prophetic vision, Jehovah’s Christian witnesses will take no part in the violent plunging of Babylon the Great into the depths of destruction. They themselves will not be iconoclasts who enter forcibly into religious buildings and smash religious images and pictures to pieces. They will keep in mind that Jehovah God claims the executing of vengeance as his prerogative. They will let him do the avenging, and so will not vindictively try to avenge themselves. Let the Supreme Judge and God of justice use whatever other agencies he desires to use in heaven or on earth, such as the symbolic scarlet-colored “wild beast” with the seven heads and ten horns, but Jehovah’s Christian witnesses find no authorization in God’s written Word for them themselves to take violent action against Babylon the Great. With credit and praise to Jehovah let it be said: “He has executed judgment upon the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication, and he has avenged the blood of his slaves at her hand.”—Revelation 19:2.
DISSOLUTION OF HER ALIENATED LOVERS AT HAR–MAGEDON
37. (a) Only by what means will Jehovah’s Christian witnesses be able to survive the destruction of Babylon the Great? (b) Will there still be more work for them to do at that time in preaching “this good news of the kingdom” for a witness? (c) Instead, what situation will confront them?
37 Only under protection from the Almighty God will Jehovah’s Christian witnesses be able to survive the violent removal of Babylon the Great from the face of the earth. Their being preserved spectators of this world-shaking event will make them witnesses to that “strange” act of the God of pure worship, and this will obligate them to tell others about it in due time. By this time their preaching “this good news of the kingdom . . . in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations” will be ended. Their work from house to house, from door to door, from store to store, and on the streets as heralds, as commanded by the Son of God, will be finished. (Matthew 24:14; Mark 13:10) Now they must stand firm for that Messianic kingdom of God which they have persistently preached during the decades of this “conclusion of the system of things.” Why? Because now they stand face to face with the unreligionized political powers that represent “all the kingdoms of the world.”
38. To what wrong conclusions will the worldly political powers now come?
38 Challenging indeed the situation will be! The worldly political powers, now divorced from all Babylonish religion, will now dispute as never before the right of such a thing as “the kingdom of God” to take over control of the earth. They do not believe in such an invisible, heavenly government. The fact that they have been permitted to destroy the Babylonish world empire of false religion will lead them to wrong conclusions—that there is no one living and true God and that they are more powerful than whatever claims to represent him on earth and that they can assault even the proclaimers of “this good new of the kingdom” without fear of suffering divine punishment.
39. What is it reasonable to believe that the thinking of worldly political rulers will be at that time?
39 Their view will be entirely materialistic, taking into account nothing but what is material: The rule of the earth henceforth should be entirely by visible human rulers. The earth belongs to man who occupies it. The teaching that they have been under the invisible control of Satan the Devil and his demons is incredible. They do not owe their political power to the Devil as invisible ruler, and they have not ruled the earth for all these centuries merely by permission of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah. So they will not recognize any end of the Gentile Times in 1914 C.E. as a meaningful fact, and they will not surrender their political power and national sovereignty to a God in whom they do not believe. All alive on earth must conform to this their line of thinking. All nonconformists, all dissident persons, must be put out of the way, effaced from the earth. By these nonconformists the political destroyers of Babylon the Great mean the surviving witnesses of Jehovah.
40. Why will Jehovah’s witnesses not compromise their position at that time and conform to the world?
40 What will make Jehovah’s Christian witnesses not conform at that crucial time is their recognition of the Most High God Jehovah as the Universal Sovereign. To Him as the Creator belong both the earth and the heavens. As the rightful King-Maker, he has appointed his resurrected Son Jesus Christ to reign over the earth for a thousand years in behalf of mankind for whom he died as a ransom sacrifice. The time for that millennial reign of Christ has approached, and Jehovah’s witnesses are awaiting it with full faith in the Holy Scriptures. Under no circumstances will they renounce that theocratic government of which they have been the ambassadors and envoys on earth during the “time of the end.” As such they have not been any “part of the world,” and they refuse now to be forced into becoming part of a world that now stands at Har–Magedon, where the issue over Universal Sovereignty will be decided by a fight to the finish!
41. (a) In view of the position taken by Jehovah’s Christian witnesses, what will be the attitude of the materialistic political powers toward them at that time? (b) How does what is foretold concerning Gog of the land of Magog give an indication of how they will view matters?
41 Such an obstacle to an undisputed claim to human world domination the materialistic political powers will resent. Out of the way with it! will be their attitude. Furthermore, what does that small band of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses have to back up their position except the Holy Bible, a mere book written by the hand of men. Where is their military backing, where are their carnal weapons with which to fight for their God and their Messianic King? Reasoning like the Gog of the land of Magog in Ezekiel’s prophecy, they will conclude that the unarmed, politically powerless witnesses of Jehovah are defenseless, helpless. (Ezekiel 38:10-12) Apparently, according to the materialistic view of things, it will be a cinch to destroy them, to wipe out their spiritual paradise, to despoil them of their claim to represent the “kingdom of the heavens”!
42. When the members of the United Nations move in to attack Jehovah’s witnesses, against whom, in reality, will they be expressing their defiance?
42 Forward, then, to the attack, you united national members of the world organization for international peace and security! Forward, yes, but not really against the surviving witnesses of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah; rather, against their heavenly Leader, Jesus Christ, the once-sacrificed “Lamb of God”! For, respecting the political powers that gave their earthly “power and authority” to the world organization for domination of mankind, it is written: “These will battle with the Lamb, but, because he is Lord of lords and King of kings, the Lamb will conquer them. Also, those called and chosen and faithful with him will do so.”—Revelation 17:13, 14.
43, 44. (a) Confronted with that attack, what accounts will Jehovah’s servants here on earth need to call to mind? (b) How could the twenty-seventh Psalm encourage them?
43 By such prophetic words Jehovah God discloses his confidence in the faithfulness of his Christian witnesses whom he preserves for this supreme moment of their earthly experience. Whatever form the attack takes world wide, in whatever ways it comes, it will test the faith and devotion of his anointed remnant and the “great crowd” of loyal associates. They will have to recall other occasions as recorded in the Holy Bible where the Almighty God let the enemies attack en masse his seemingly helpless people but he stopped the enemy dead in their tracks. Appropriate it will be for them to remember the words of King David:
44 “Jehovah is my light and my salvation. Of whom shall I be in fear? Jehovah is the stronghold of my life. Of whom shall I be in dread? When the evildoers approached against me to eat up my flesh, they being my adversaries and my enemies personally, they themselves stumbled and fell. Though against me an encampment should pitch tent, my heart will not fear. Though against me war should rise, even then I shall be trusting. One thing I have asked from Jehovah—it is what I shall look for, that I may dwell in the house of Jehovah all the days of my life, to behold the pleasantness of Jehovah and to look with appreciation upon his temple. For he will hide me in his covert in the day of calamity; he will conceal me in the secret place of his tent; high on a rock he will put me. And now my head will be high above my enemies all around me; and I will sacrifice at his tent sacrifices of joyful shouting; I will sing and make melody to Jehovah.”—Psalm 27:1-6.
45. What reasons will the ungodly nations have given the Universal Sovereign for destroying them?
45 All the holy heavens and all the holy ones on earth are watching what now takes place! Now at last has been reached the culminating point of the brazen defiance and challenge by the nations on earth with respect to the universal sovereignty of the Most High God, the Producer of heaven and earth! Now the heavenly Claimant to Universal Sovereignty must decide as to whose position is right, that of his Christian witnesses on earth or that of the self-glorifying nations of mortal creature men. The nations have not only ‘ruined the earth’ by their pollutions and violations of the Creator’s laws but also now set themselves to destroying His “people for special possession,” the anointed remnant of spiritual Israel, along with the “great crowd” of God-fearing persons who do good to that “people for special possession.” (Revelation 11:18; 1 Peter 2:9) What further reason does the Universal Sovereign need in his seeking for a cause to destroy the ungodly nations? None!
46 Stubbornly, during all the worldwide preaching of the “good news of the kingdom” for a witness since 1914 C.E., the nations have refused to heed the inspired counsel: “And now, O kings, exercise insight; let yourselves be corrected, O judges of the earth. Serve Jehovah with fear and be joyful with trembling. Kiss the Son [the Messiah] that He [Jehovah] may not become incensed and you may not perish from the way, for his anger flares up easily.” (Psalm 2:7, 10-12) The nations have persistently held back from kissing the King whom Jehovah has universally announced to be his only-begotten Son, for the nations have done nothing to soften his face toward a reconciliation. They have refused to surrender to him their sovereignties over their claimed territories. The clock of God’s timetable strikes the hour for Him to ‘speak to the nations in his anger and disturb them in his hot displeasure.’ So now let the rule of the “iron scepter” go into operation. Let Jehovah’s installed royal Son break the nations, dash them to pieces like a potter’s earthenware vessel. (Psalm 2:5-9) At once, then, let the Son of God with the iron scepter engage the enemy forces in battle!
47. (a) Who gives the signal for the heavenly armies to go into action at Har–Magedon? (b) Like what does the Revelation account describe the battlefield as being on that day of slaughter?
47 Just as King David at the low plain of Gibeon awaited the battle signal from Jehovah, so Jehovah’s warrior King who is to “shepherd all the nations with an iron rod” has awaited the signal from his heavenly Commander in Chief. (Revelation 12:5) Look! The signal! Instantly the royal Field Marshal spurs his white war horse into action, leading his heavenly armies on white war horses in a victorious charge against all the combined enemies in battle array at the battlefield of Har–Magedon on earth. Treat those enemy kings and their armies and henchmen like grapes gathered to be crushed. Turn that battlefield of Har–Magedon into a winepress! There let the King of kings tread the “winepress of the anger of the wrath of God the Almighty.” Let the lifeblood of those “grapes” rise higher and higher in the winepress vat, yes, “as high up as the bridles of the horses.” (Revelation 19:11-16; 14:18-20) Let the long-pent-up anger of the wrath of God the Almighty now at last expend itself fully. Let there remain no need for him to bring such distress of nations a second time.—Nahum 1:6-9.
48. In what way does Isaiah 34:1-6 describe what will take place then?
48 Surely now is the time for all heaven and earth to take note! “For Jehovah has indignation against all the nations, and rage against all their army. He must devote them to destruction; he must give them to the slaughter. And their slain ones will be thrown out; and as for their carcasses, their stink will ascend; and the mountains must melt because of their blood. And all those of the army of the heavens must rot away. And the heavens must be rolled up, just like a book scroll; and their army will all shrivel away, just as the leafage shrivels off the vine and like a shriveled fig off the fig tree. ‘For in the heavens my sword will certainly be drenched. Look! Upon Edom it will descend, and upon the people devoted by me to destruction in justice. Jehovah has a sword; it must be filled with blood.’” (Isaiah 34:1-6) Not in idle jest did Jehovah inspire the writing of those prophetic words. The time nears for them to be fulfilled. The old system of things must die!
49. What urgent decision now faces each one of us?
49 Shall we die with the old system of things? Do we choose to be executed along with the political rulers, their armies and their henchmen in that “day” when Jehovah God by his warrior Son Jesus Christ wields his judicial sword for executing all his enemies on earth? Very short must be the time that remains in which we are allowed to make the personal decision that counts for life or for death when the Sovereign Lord God settles accounts with this old system of things. Our being spared alive or our being executed as condemned worldlings will depend upon the side where we now choose to stand. Now is not too soon to decide the question, On whose side shall I find myself when world distress comes to its fearful climax? In wisdom and with good sense may we all make our choice for life in God’s new system of things!