Loyally Remembering Jehovah’s Organization
1. We should be thinking about loyalty to whom, and what did King David say in this regard?
MUCH is said today about loyalty to one’s country. But how much do the rulers and peoples of this world say about loyalty to God, who is the Creator of the land occupied by one’s country? In ancient times, King David of Israel was a loyal worshiper of the Creator, Jehovah God. Addressing this loyal God, David said these words to him: “With someone loyal you will act in loyalty.” (2 Samuel 22:26; Psalm 18:25) Do those words express your attitude toward God?
2. How do we know that Jehovah has remained loyal to the human family?
2 The general attitude of mankind today is not one of great concern about loyalty to God. But regardless of this, Jehovah is loyal to the human family. He has not cast it away. His loyal Son said: “God loved the world so much that he gave his only-begotten Son, in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) God did not abandon the world of mankind to its greatest adversary, Satan, who had induced our first parents to turn disloyal to God. God also showed his loyalty to the human family in 2370 B.C.E. by preserving Noah and his family through the worldwide deluge that wiped out all the rest of mankind. (2 Peter 2:5) In this way the Creator gave a new start to the human family.
3. (a) What can be said about violence today, and what has God purposed to do about it? (b) What is the reward for loyalty to Jehovah?
3 Today the violence earth wide outrivals that of Noah’s time over 4,000 years ago. (Genesis 6:11) So there is justification for the same God to wipe out of existence the present worldly system of things. This he has purposed to do, but when doing so, he will not destroy his loyal ones on earth. He will then live up to Psalm 37:28: “Jehovah is a lover of justice, and he will not leave his loyal ones.” As in Noah’s day, he will give a righteous introduction to the new system of things composed of “new heavens and a new earth.” (2 Peter 3:13) The reward for loyalty is great. It is life giving!
4. How do we know that the nation of Israel was Jehovah’s visible organization of that time?
4 During the reign of King David, the nation of Israel proved to be loyal to Jehovah. David set the pattern for the whole nation. That nation was Jehovah’s visible organization. They were an organized people that were peculiarly his own. No doubt that is what is meant by God’s reminder, as set out in Amos 3:1, 2: “Hear this word that Jehovah has spoken concerning you, O sons of Israel, concerning the whole family that I brought up out of the land of Egypt, saying, ‘You people only have I known out of all the families of the ground.’”—Compare 1 Kings 8:41-43.
5. (a) During the days of the apostles of Jesus Christ, were efforts made to introduce errors into the Christian congregation? (b) What was foretold to happen after the death of the apostles?
5 In parallel with this fact of Bible history, this same God, Jehovah, has an organized people, a visible organization, on earth today. It is an organization that is exclusively his own. However, attempts were made to introduce errors into God’s organization even at its beginning during the days of the apostles of Jesus Christ, who were stout defenders of the integrity of the Christian congregation. (1 Corinthians 15:12; 2 Timothy 2:16-18) Following the death of the apostle John, evidently not long after 98 C.E., the predicted falling away set in.—Acts 20:30; 2 Peter 2:1, 3; 1 Timothy 4:1.
6. (a) How long did the apostasy dominate, and with what result? (b) Into what captivity did Christendom’s religious organizations come, and what questions arise?
6 This apostasy dominated for more than 17 centuries, into the latter half of the 19th century. By then Christendom had become fragmented into hundreds of religious sects. The identification of the true people of God was blurred. Christendom was a babel of religious organizations, large and small, speaking a hodgepodge of religious languages not solidly based on the religious language of the inspired Scriptures. Such religious organizations had really been taken captive by an empire that was far greater than the Babylonian Empire that destroyed Jerusalem. But what was ancient Babylon like, and what must have been the attitude of faithful Jews held captive?
Captives in Babylon Loyally Remembered Zion
7. (a) Religiously speaking, what was the land of ancient Babylon like? (b) What effect must this have had on the Jewish captives?
7 Ancient Babylon was the land of false gods, the idols of which abounded. (Daniel 5:4) We can imagine the effect that this worship of many false gods had upon the hearts of the faithful Jews who had worshiped only the one true God without any kind of image. Instead of beholding the temple of Jehovah in all its beauty in Jerusalem, they beheld the temples of these false gods and their idols throughout the land of Babylon.a How the worshipers of the one and only true God must have suffered a feeling of revulsion by all of this!
8. (a) How long would the Jews have to put up with their captivity, and what longing would loyal Jews have? (b) How does Psalm 137:1-4 describe the heartbroken condition of the loyal Jewish captives?
8 According to the prophecy of Jeremiah, they would have to put up with this for 70 years before restoration would come. (2 Chronicles 36:18-21; Jeremiah 25:11, 12) The heartbroken condition of the Jewish captives who loved Jehovah and desired to worship him at a temple dedicated to him at his chosen city is described for us in Psalm 137:1-4: “By the rivers of Babylon—there we sat down. We also wept when we remembered Zion. Upon the poplar trees in the midst of her we hung our harps. For there those holding us captive asked us for the words of a song, and those mocking us—for rejoicing: ‘Sing for us one of the songs of Zion.’ How can we sing the song of Jehovah upon foreign ground?”
9. How would the Babylonians regard the singing of “the song of Jehovah,” but what was due to happen at the end of the 70 years?
9 “The song of Jehovah” should be the song of a free people worshiping him at his holy temple. To those Babylonians, the singing of “the song of Jehovah” by these Jews in the land of their captivity would be an occasion for the captors to jeer at the name of Jehovah as the name of a god inferior to the gods of Babylon. His holy name had already come under tremendous reproach by his letting his people be taken off their God-given homeland and marched away to a land with a multiplicity of gods. But the time for those Babylonians to jeer at him and to belittle his name people was to be for only a limited period—70 years. Then down with the false gods of Babylon and up with the true God, Jehovah!
Heart Attachment to Jehovah’s Organization
10. What question arises with regard to Jehovah’s people of this 20th century who were brought into captivity to Babylon the Great?
10 Today there is a religious organization called Babylon the Great that is not confined to the land of the original Babylon but that is worldwide. Does the heart attitude of the Jews in ancient Babylon set a correct pattern for Jehovah’s people of this 20th century who were forcibly brought into captivity to Babylon the Great as a discipline from the God of ancient Israel?
11. (a) Did the loyal Jews let their homeland fade out of memory? (b) How did the captive psalmist express the feelings of his fellow captives?
11 Although they could have settled down in ancient Babylon and made themselves at home, since the exile would be about a generation long, did they let their homeland fade out of memory? The captive psalmist expresses it beautifully when he voices the feelings of his fellow captives: “If I should forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand be forgetful. Let my tongue stick to my palate, if I were not to remember you, if I were not to make Jerusalem ascend above my chief cause for rejoicing.”—Psalm 137:5, 6.
12. What did the heart attitude of the captive psalmist express?
12 What did that heart attitude of the captive Israelite express? This: loyalty to Jehovah’s visible organization of that time while he saw the land that God had given to His chosen people lying desolate for 70 years. Yes, the visible organization of Jehovah lived on in the hearts of those Israelites.
13. How was loyalty to Jehovah’s visible organization rewarded?
13 Such loyalty to the ancient visible organization of God was duly rewarded. This was when Babylon, the third world power of Bible history, was overturned, and Medo-Persia, the fourth world power, carried out the will of the God of Israel. How? By restoring the captive Jews to the land of the visible organization of Jehovah, with instructions to rebuild the temple of their God as the hub of the capital city, Jerusalem. (2 Chronicles 36:22, 23) Not only was the temple of true worship rebuilt but the walled city of Jerusalem was also reconstructed, to become the city from which Jehovah reigned as King over his people.
14. (a) Centuries later, what did the Messiah say about Jehovah’s visible organization? (b) In what sense did Jehovah reign from Jerusalem?
14 More than six centuries later, the promised Messiah said to fellow Jews: “Do not swear at all, neither by heaven, because it is God’s throne; nor by earth, because it is the footstool of his feet; nor by Jerusalem, because it is the city of the great King.” (Matthew 5:34, 35) When the Messiah was on earth, a rebuilt temple of Jehovah stood in Jerusalem, and, symbolically speaking, Jehovah God reigned in the Most Holy of that temple. So from Jerusalem as the capital city of his people, Jehovah reigned over his visible organization.
Jehovah Remains Loyal to His Organization
15. Was Jesus rejecting the visible part of Jehovah’s organization when he exposed the unfaithful religious leaders of Israel? Explain.
15 Well, now, did Jesus cast out God’s visible organization when he exposed the unfaithful religious leaders of Israel and denounced them? Yes, for he said: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the killer of the prophets and stoner of those sent forth to her,—how often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks together under her wings! But you people did not want it. Look! Your house is abandoned to you.” (Matthew 23:37, 38) When Jesus rejected Jerusalem and her “children,” was he thereby leaving his heavenly Father without an earthly organization? No! For Jesus himself was the foundation of the new visible organization that the Creator of the universe was going to build up.
16. At the time of Jesus’ death on the torture stake, how was the rejection of natural Israel indicated?
16 The rejection of natural Israel was certainly indicated when, at the death of Jesus on the torture stake, the thick curtain that separated the Most Holy from the Holy in the temple of Jerusalem was ripped in two “from top to bottom.” At the same time, “the earth quaked, and the rock-masses were split.” These were miraculous acts on the part of the God who used to reign there in a typical way, indicating his rejection of the nation of Israel and her religion.—Matthew 27:51.
17. How did Jesus and Jehovah show loyalty to prospective members of the new visible organization of God?
17 Prospective members of the new visible organization that Jehovah God was shortly to build up were left there in the domain of Jerusalem. Jesus commended them to the care of God, who was abandoning the earthly city in favor of something superior. (John 17:9-15) Thus Jehovah remained loyal to his organization, showing special consideration for their faithful forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the 12 sons of Jacob. (Daniel 12:1) The next chapter will pursue further our discussion of loyalty, based on Psalm 137.
a A cuneiform inscription from ancient Babylon reports: “Altogether there are in Babylon 53 temples of the chief gods, 55 chapels of Marduk, 300 chapels for the earthly deities, 600 for the heavenly deities, 180 altars for the goddess Ishtar, 180 for the gods Nergal and Adad and 12 other altars for different gods.”