Identified for Destruction or Survival?
1. What questions does this lesson encourage us to consider?
THE religious situation that exists today calls on us to show what really is in our hearts. Do we truly love Jehovah and his ways? Are we like his Son, Jesus Christ, to whom it was said: “You loved righteousness, and you hated lawlessness”? (Hebrews 1:9) Are we willing to manifest this openly so that others know where we stand? The Bible record concerning Jehu and Jehonadab the son of Reʹchab helps us to examine our position.
2. Who were Jehu and Jehonadab?
2 In the tenth century B.C.E., Jehu was anointed to be king over the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel, which had its capital at Samaria. He was commissioned to destroy all who belonged to the wicked house of King Ahab, including Queen Jezebel, who had promoted Baal worship in Israel and had endeavored to stamp out the worship of Jehovah. Jehonadab, a Kenite (hence, not an Israelite), doubtless knew of Jehu’s executional program when he went out to meet Jehu. But how strong was Jehonadab’s love for Jehovah? Would he openly identify himself as one who firmly believed that only Jehovah, the true God, should be worshiped?
“IS YOUR HEART UPRIGHT WITH ME?”
3. How did Jehonadab make known publicly his position regarding worship of Jehovah?
3 After the two men had exchanged greetings, Jehu called on Jehonadab to make clear his position. “Is your heart upright with me,” Jehu asked, “just as my own heart is with your heart?” Without hesitation Jehonadab responded: “It is.” “If it is, do give me your hand,” Jehu replied. So he took Jehonadab up into his chariot and said: “Do go along with me and look upon my toleration of no rivalry toward Jehovah.” Jehonadab did not fearfully hold back.—2 Kings 10:15, 16; see Deuteronomy 6:13-15.
4, 5. (a) By what means did Jehu make the Baal worshipers identify themselves? (b) What action did Jehu then take, and where was Jehonadab? (c) How do you react to that destruction of Baal worshipers?
4 Arriving in Samaria, Jehu took measures that would require all who worshiped Baal to identify themselves. The prophets, the priests and all worshipers of Baal were called to a grand sacrifice at the house of Baal. They were notified that any persons failing to attend would forfeit their lives. Jehu directed that garments be issued for all worshipers of Baal to wear so that they would be clearly identified. Any who claimed also to worship Jehovah were thus made to show whom they really served. It seemed to be a glorious hour for Baal and for Satan the Devil, the false god whom Baal really represented.
5 This was no place for true worshipers of Jehovah. A search was made to be sure that only the worshipers of Baal were present. Then the ceremony proceeded. Meanwhile, outside, Jehu’s men prepared, and at his signal they went into action. “Strike them down! Do not let a single one go out,” he commanded. Every worshiper of Baal was destroyed. The house of Baal was pulled down. “Thus Jehu annihilated Baal out of Israel.” Jehonadab was at Jehu’s side to witness those events. (2 Kings 10:18-28) How do you personally react to what took place? While none of us delight in the death of others, even of wicked persons, do we appreciate why it was necessary and why it is recorded in the Bible for us to read today?—Compare Ezekiel 33:11.
6. (a) How will Babylon the Great be destroyed? (b) When on earth, how did Jesus show that he tolerated no rivalry toward Jehovah?
6 The account is not authorizing us to destroy either buildings that belong to religious groups or people devoted to false worship. Jehovah has appointed, not his modern-day witnesses, but the glorified Jesus Christ, as the Greater Jehu, to execute His righteous judgments. By permitting the combined political powers to express their own hatred for Babylon the Great, the heavenly King will bring about the annihilation of the world empire of false religion. (Revelation 6:2; 17:16; 19:1, 2) When on earth, Jesus refused to perform even one act of worship that would honor the Devil. He denounced the setting aside of Jehovah’s Word for human tradition and the using of worship of God for commercial gain. He tolerated no rivalry toward Jehovah.—Luke 4:5-8; Matthew 15:3-9; 21:12, 13.
7. (a) What are some of the modern-day evidences of Baalism? (b) Why has Christ as King tolerated these things?
7 Why, then, does Christ, now ruling in the midst of his enemies, permit modern Baalism seemingly to prosper? Why does he allow people apparently to get away with honoring the god of this system of things by shoving aside Jehovah’s requirements? Why does he tolerate their acting as if God had no objection to their sexual immorality, their glorifying a materialistic way of life, their indulging in spiritistic practices while professing to be Christians, and their teaching Babylonish doctrines as if these were the word of God? The ancient drama shows that this is to put people to the test, to let them show outwardly whom they worship, and thus whether they deserve preservation or execution.
8. What serious questions do we need to ask ourselves?
8 What course have you chosen? Have you abandoned all practices that might identify you as a practicer of modern Baalism? Have you separated yourself from the world and taken your stand as a true worshiper of Jehovah?—2 Corinthians 6:17.
9. (a) If we truly are like Jehonadab, what will we be doing? (b) How do the cited scriptures emphasize the importance of these things?
9 Jehonadab, as a non-Israelite worshiper of Jehovah, foreshadowed the “other sheep” who are now being gathered with the hope of eternal life on earth. Do you reflect Jehonadab’s spirit? Are you willing to identify yourself publicly with the Greater Jehu and with his anointed followers on earth who are proclaiming the approaching “day of vengeance on the part of our God”? Are you sharing with them in that urgent work? (Isaiah 61:1, 2; Luke 9:26; Zechariah 8:23) Do you give Jehovah your exclusive devotion, allowing nothing to infringe on the place that he should hold in your heart? (Matthew 6:24; 1 John 2:15-17) Does your life demonstrate that your relationship with him is your most precious possession, that everything else is built around it?—Psalm 37:4; Proverbs 3:1-6.
DO YOU HAVE THE MARK?
10. How does the Bible show that only worshipers of Jehovah will survive?
10 It would be a serious mistake to conclude that if a person tries to lead a “good” life and if he shuns religions that are doing things clearly condemned in God’s Word, nothing more is required of him. All who hope to survive into the “new earth” must also be unmistakably identified as worshipers of Jehovah. (Revelation 14:6, 7; Psalm 37:34; Joel 2:32) This message is conveyed in a vision given to the prophet Ezekiel before Jerusalem was destroyed in 607 B.C.E.
11. (a) Describe the vision recorded at Ezekiel 9:1-11. (b) What was the key to survival?
11 Ezekiel heard Jehovah summon those appointed to bring unfaithful Jerusalem and its inhabitants to ruin. He saw six men armed with weapons for smashing, and there was also one man clothed in linen, with a secretary’s inkhorn at his hips. First to this linen-clad man Jehovah said: “Pass through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and you must put a mark on the foreheads of the men that are sighing and groaning over all the detestable things that are being done in the midst of it.” Then to the six others he said: “Pass through the city after him and strike. Let not your eye feel sorry, and do not feel any compassion. Old man, young man and virgin and little child and women you should kill off—to a ruination. But to any man upon whom there is the mark do not go near, and from my sanctuary you should start.” Ezekiel saw in vision the destruction that followed—so extensive that it seemed that all Israel still in the land was being brought to ruin. (Ezekiel 9:1-11) What was the key to survival? It was the mark placed on one’s forehead by the man with the secretary’s inkhorn.
12. (a) What were the detestable things over which the marked ones were “sighing and groaning”? (b) Why would Jehovah be disgusted with such things?
12 Only persons “sighing and groaning over all the detestable things” being done in Jerusalem were marked for survival. What were those “detestable things”? Five are listed: (1) A “symbol of jealousy” at the entrance to the inner court of Jehovah’s temple. Whatever form it took, this object was being given devotion that the Israelites owed to Jehovah. (1 Kings 14:22-24) (2) Wall carvings of creeping things and of beasts, before which incense was being offered right in the temple enclosure. (3) Women weeping over the death of the god Tammuz, which was another name for Nimrod, that rebel against Jehovah. (Genesis 10:9) (4) Men displaying outrageous disrespect by turning their backs to Jehovah’s temple and bowing to the sun. (Deuteronomy 4:15-19) (5) As a final indignity, people filling the land with violence as well as holding out a “shoot,” possibly a sex symbol, to Jehovah’s nose. Can you appreciate why Jehovah was disgusted with them?—Ezekiel 8:5-17.
13. (a) Taking one at a time, comment on the modern-day practices that are comparable to those “detestable things.” (b) How do you feel about these practices?
13 How do you personally react to the modern-day practices of Christendom that are comparable to these “detestable things”? (1) In many of her churches are images before which people bow in worship, although the Bible warns against doing so. (1 Corinthians 10:14; compare 2 Kings 17:40, 41.) (2) She goes along with the trend to put the evolution of man from animals in the place of creation by God; also she shares in displaying fervent devotion before representations of animals and birds used as national symbols. (3) In her worship she features the cross, which from antiquity was a religious symbol of Tammuz, and she joins in ceremonies to mourn those who have died in blood-spilling wars that reflect the spirit of Nimrod. (But see John 17:16, 17.) (4) She turns her back on what God says through his Word and, instead, chooses the “enlightenment” offered by modern science and human philosophy. (1 Timothy 6:20, 21; compare Jeremiah 2:13.) (5) As if that were not enough, she endorses revolution in certain places and she takes an indulgent view of sexual immorality, while professing to speak in the name of God. (2 Peter 2:1, 2) Some people view these trends as liberal. They may not agree with all of them, but they may share in others or at least condone them. How do you feel about such God-dishonoring practices that turn people away from mankind’s Creator?
14. Why does the fact that a person is disillusioned with the churches not necessarily mean that he will be a survivor?
14 Many people are disillusioned with the churches and no longer attend. They may also be greatly disturbed about the violence and dishonesty in the world. But that does not necessarily mean that they are marked for survival. They must be marked by the ‘man with the secretary’s inkhorn.’ The facts show that “the faithful and discreet slave” class is doing that marking work today.—Matthew 24:45-47.
15. (a) What is the mark? (b) How does a person get it?
15 All who want to be marked as having God’s approval must accept the instruction that Jehovah is providing through that “slave” class and become true worshipers of Jehovah. They must not be persons who honor Jehovah with their mouths but who really love the world’s ways. (Isaiah 29:13, 14; 1 John 2:15) They must love Jehovah and his standards and feel grieved at heart, “sighing and groaning,” over teachings and practices that dishonor him. No one will put a literal ink mark on their forehead. But when they have the symbolic mark it will be obvious to all that, as dedicated, baptized Christians, they have put on the “new personality” described at Ephesians 4:24. They have a living faith. Publicly and privately they endeavor to do what will honor Jehovah. Not only persons who have come out of Christendom but all, regardless of background, who hope to survive into the “new earth” as associates of the anointed class must have this mark.
16. Why is this vision particularly important for children and their parents?
16 Particularly significant is the fact that Jehovah’s executioners were told that age, sex, singleness or marriage relationship was no reason to spare an offender against Jehovah. A married person must individually have his or her mark in order to be spared. If parents resist having their children marked or if they fail to bring them up as servants of Jehovah, they must bear the responsibility for what happens to those children. Although obedient children of godly parents are viewed as “holy” by Jehovah, rebellious ones are not. (1 Corinthians 7:14; Psalm 102:28; Proverbs 20:11; 30:17) If children are old enough to become baptized Christians but do not want to live up to the requirements, whether they are baptized or not, their age will not result in their being spared. How vital, then, for each individual of responsible age to be clearly marked as a person dedicated to God and doing his will!
17. What have we learned here as to Jehovah’s compassion?
17 Jehovah has shown great compassion for mankind by sending his witnesses to warn them of impending destruction and to point the way to safety. But he well knows the record of false religion and the rotten fruitage that it has produced. When Babylon the Great is destroyed, no compassion will be shown for any who insist on clinging to it. To survive the coming execution of divine judgment, we must walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ as true worshipers of Jehovah, the Creator of heaven and earth.
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Do you really have the mark needed for survival?