Stability and Permanence During World Change
“Seeing that we are to receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us continue to have undeserved kindness, through which we may acceptably render God sacred service with godly fear and awe.”—Hebrews 12:28, NW.
1. For what time was Psalm 46:1 written? Who must conform to it?
“GOD is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” At a time of great crisis in the typical kingdom of God the Hebrew poet gave vent to these inspiring words of Psalm 46:1, and they were written and preserved for just such a crisis as exists today in the lives of those who watch, pray and hope for the real kingdom of God. If you are one of such persons, then you must take these words to heart and must live by them, firmly convinced that God is your refuge and strength.
2. Can we afford to proceed according to worldly nations? Because of what unseen factors?
2 You cannot afford to proceed according to the nations of this world. Remember that Satan the Devil is the “god of this system of things”; that “all the gods of the peoples are idols”, and that “the things which the nations sacrifice they sacrifice to demons, and not to God”. The inspired Scriptures so inform us. (2 Cor. 4:4, NW; Ps. 96:5, AS; 1 Cor. 10:20, NW) The demons and the “ruler of the demons”, Satan the Devil, are the invisible tormentors, oppressors and troublemakers for the people. They scheme to drive the people away from God and into destruction at his hands. To rid the holy realms of heaven of their harmful influence war in heaven was necessary after God’s kingdom by Christ was set up there in 1914. The demons and their ruler have been hurled down to the earth, and what this was foretold to mean for earthlings has come true: “Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.” (Rev. 12:1-12, NW) The Devil and his demons are responsible for the woe and turmoil on land and sea. There is no protection, stability and permanence under the demons, not even for their friends, servants and worshipers. They are malicious, fiendish and unloving, and they cannot protect their worshipers and devotees from God’s righteous wrath. They could not do so at the time he loosed the global deluge against the world of violence in Noah’s day. They will not be able to offer protection to the nations, or even escape execution themselves, at the “war of the great day of God the Almighty”, at Armageddon, where their world ends.
3. In order to prove what can we not have any part with the false gods of the nations?
3 Unwittingly it is the schemes of these demonic gods of the nations that the rulers and their peoples are carrying out. If you make the living and true God your refuge, you cannot have any part with the demons, the false gods. You must serve the purpose of the true God and you must tell others what his purpose is. In this time of world opposition to him you must prove God is your refuge and strength by believing and acting in harmony with his testimony: “Ye are my witnesses, saith Jehovah, and my servant whom I have chosen; that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am Jehovah; and besides me there is no saviour. I have declared, and I have saved, and I have showed; and there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith Jehovah, and I am God. Yea, since the day was I am he; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand: I will work, and who can hinder it?”—Isa. 43:10-13, AS.
4. What kind of God has Jehovah proved himself to be toward us?
4 Again and again Jehovah has proved himself a secure refuge for his witnesses on earth. His all-seeing eyes range through the whole earth to locate those who are devoted to him that he might show his strength in their behalf. (2 Chron. 16:9) What a God he is! Before him all the false gods must shortly bow in defeat at Armageddon. “For Jehovah is a great God, and a great King above all gods.” He is to be feared, rather than the totalitarian aggressors bent on world conquest for enthroning their political gods and form of religion everywhere. “For great is Jehovah, and greatly to be praised: he is to be feared above all gods.” Those who make him their refuge and who trust in his strength credit him with godship and say: “For thou, Jehovah, art most high above all the earth: thou art exalted far above all gods.” (Pss. 95:3; 96:4; 97:9, AS) Because he supplies secret strength to his witnesses, they have been able to endure the most determined and fiendish persecution from human agents of the false gods. Greedy dictators craving world empire have punished those who would not join in idolizing them. But when these dictators went down, Jehovah’s witnesses have lived on and have found fresh strength to renew their witnessing to the “God of gods”. Today they gratefully exclaim: “Oh give thanks unto Jehovah; for he is good; for his lovingkindness endureth for ever. Oh give thanks unto the God of gods; for his lovingkindness endureth for ever.”—Ps. 136:1, 2, AS.
“A VERY PRESENT HELP”
5, 6. Because of the worsening trouble, in what prayers do the Catholic Hierarchy indulge? Why will God not answer such prayers?
5 It appears to be human nature for people, when helpless in trouble, to appeal to their gods for aid and deliverance. For instance, in spite of the 1950 Holy Year, the world’s difficulties worsened to an alarming degree. So the pope of Vatican City in his encyclical of December 6 called on the Catholic world to engage in a novena of prayer for peace. Addressing the college of cardinals five days later, the pope called for a “general accord of intentions of all human hearts which, with the aid of God, may cause all the dangers which are threatening peace to disappear throughout the world”. (N. Y. Times, Dec. 12, 1950) But prayers to God are vain the intentions of which are contrary to his will. As James 4:2, 3 (Dy) says: “You contend and war, and you have not, because you ask not. You ask, and receive not; because you ask amiss: that you may consume it on your concupiscences.” It is not God’s will at this time to establish world peace in order for the nations to return to normal. If he restored peace, the nations would only consume its benefits upon their concupiscences and selfish desires, showing they are “lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God”.
6 The timetables of God’s Word set this period down as a time marked for international troubles, when there would be “on the earth anguish of nations, not knowing the way out because of the roaring of the sea and its agitation, while men become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth”. For Christendom it was to be a time when “we looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of health [by means of holy years, etc.], and behold trouble!” (Luke 21:25, 26, NW; Jer. 8:15) This is not the time for God to make peace for the nations of this world. So the efforts of the pope and his hierarchy to try their hand and pose as a mediator between the communist bloc and the democratic bloc will prove unavailing. Neither Catholics nor Protestants need expect help from God through them.
7. What, then, does making God our refuge and strength in trouble mean?
7 Making God our refuge and relying on his strength means for us to accept the trouble his Word has forewarned us of and, while this trouble rages about us and against us, to look to him to be our “very present help”. That expression in the original Hebrew Bible is such that translators differ in the way they render it: “A well-proved help in trouble.” (AT) “We shall find him very near.” (Mo) “A help in distresses, soon found.” (Ro) “A help in distresses most willingly found.”—Ro. Pss.
8, 9. How did God prove himself to Israel a “very present help”?
8 Ah yes, to God’s true people he has let himself be found exceedingly a help in trouble. Once, in the days of King Jehoshaphat, the combined forces of the nations of Moab, Ammon and Mount Seir marched to the assault upon Jerusalem. God’s trusting people called upon him at his temple in that city. Then, for his own name’s sake, he showed himself most willing to be found their helper. Before ever the overwhelming enemy forces reached the holy city Jehovah God worked their destruction. It was not necessary for his people to fight in that battle. They merely sang his praises and looked on and saw the “salvation of Jehovah with you”. So great was the self-slaughter of the wicked aggressors that the Israelites were three days in collecting the spoil from their carcasses.—2 Chron. 20:1-30, AS.
9 King Asa, too, found Jehovah God a ready help in trouble when his forces faced an Ethiopian army, one million men strong with three hundred chariots, under Zera their commander. King Asa cried out: “Jehovah, there is none besides thee to help, between the mighty and him that hath no strength: help us, O Jehovah our God; for we rely on thee, and in thy name are we come against this multitude. O Jehovah, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee.” God answered this proper prayer with the needed help, and the outnumbered Israelites were enabled to rout the foe, not one of whom was let remain alive. The secret of this deliverance was laid bare by the prophet Azariah: “Jehovah is with you, while ye are with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you.” (2 Chron. 14:9 to 15:2, AS) Then, in the days of King Hezekiah, the forces of the Assyrian empire builder, King Sennacherib, threatened Jerusalem, railed at its God Jehovah, and demanded an unconditional surrender. From the midst of Jerusalem the prophet Isaiah hurled back an uncompromising message and King Hezekiah and all the city took refuge under Jehovah’s invisible protection and strength. That very night the boastful Assyrian’s army was knocked out of combat strength as Jehovah’s angel with one blow felled 185,000 warriors. Next morning King Sennacherib got on his way back to Assyria and to eventual assassination. At the worst of the situation how soon and how willingly Jehovah God let himself be found and proved himself to be a help in trouble!—Isa. 37:14-38.
REASON FOR FEARLESSNESS
10. Hence, facing now most trialsome years, what must we not forget?
10 The instruction these examples of divine help contain should not now be lost upon us. They were recorded for the benefit of God’s people now “upon whom the accomplished ends of the systems of things have arrived”. (1 Cor. 10:11, NW) Counting from the end of the “appointed times of the nations” in 1914, we are 37 years into the “time of the end” of this world. (Luke 21:24, NW; Dan. 12:4) During these crucial years Jehovah’s witnesses have sought shelter and strength in him, and they can confess for themselves that he is a “well-proved help in trouble”. If it were not for this, they would not be here today nor increasing in numbers. But we are entering the most serious and trialsome years of this “time of the end”. The final conflict of Armageddon draws near. So let us not forget that Jehovah God does not change any more than his Word changes. (Mal. 3:6, AS) His strength is displayed amid our weakness. No trouble can grow so severe in the future that he cannot help us through it, if we abide trustfully in him as our refuge and do not look to this world for help by a compromise with the world which is God’s enemy. Why should Jehovah’s witnesses care if the whole world is against them, disbelieves their testimony, hates and persecutes them? The whole world was also against Noah and the seven who entered the ark with him and made Jehovah their refuge and strength. Yet when God let loose the elemental forces of nature, that world of the ungodly went under into destruction, but Noah and his ark companions survived the Flood.
11. In what should we now have faith, to make Psalm 46:2, 3 our own?
11 We are strengthened by our own recent experiences as well as by the record of God’s Word. So now we should have such faith in our divine refuge as to take into our own mouths what the psalmist next says and really mean it: “Therefore will we not fear, though the earth do change, and though the mountains be shaken into the heart of the seas; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains tremble with the swelling thereof. Selah.”—Ps. 46:2, 3, AS.
12, 13. What could the psalmist, if using figurative speech, be here understood to mean?
12 Here the psalmist is not necessarily using figurative speech and speaking of the symbolic earth, mountains, seas and waters. Of course, the symbolic earth today is changing as from a political earthquake, and the land is roaring with the terrifying sounds of one earthquake shock after another accompanied by bloodcurdling howling of the people and dogs. Political governments which seemed like ancient mountains dominating and stabilizing the earth have been shaken to their roots and have toppled into the midst of the seas of peoples now in revolt against long-accepted political, commercial and religious systems and ideologies. The so-called “colored races” of the world have roused themselves and become agitated by winds of revolutionary doctrine and by earthquakes on the ocean floor. Fear of the “yellow peril”, which was already expressed in the last century, is now being revived. Especially so in the light of the tactics the yellow races are following in the Korean theater of war. Resorting to what they call jen hai or the “human sea”, they let loose tides of humans from their reservoir of hundreds of millions of people. By sheer force of numbers and brute strength they sweep along and overwhelm all military obstructions and barriers, regardless of the cheap human lives sacrificed. “Ah,” says God’s prophet, “the uproar of many peoples, that roar like the roaring of the seas; and the rushing of nations, that rush like the rushing of mighty waters! The nations shall rush like the rushing of many waters.”—Isa. 17:12, 13, AS.
13 As these human seas, lashed by fears, resentment and ancient grievances, roar and as the waters foam and bring up mire and filth, those political mountains that still remain are trembling and taking measures to guarantee their stability and permanence. Why, even the Vatican City, which claims to be founded on Peter as its rock, does not feel stable any more nor assured of its permanence. It contemplates flight, not to Jehovah God as a refuge and shelter, but to the shores of governments with the strongest arm of flesh and armed to the teeth. To worldly minds the swelling of the indignant, passion-driven waters of humanity is terrifying to observe. Seeing nothing permanent and stable any longer in human society, many are hopelessly resigning themselves to be engulfed in the rising tide.
14. Amid the world change, why should the heirs of the Kingdom not fear or be unsettled?
14 Amidst all this world upheaval and change, those who have taken refuge in Jehovah God need not fear and be unsettled. We know all this was foretold in his prophecy. It is the sign of the consummation of this system of things, yes, the sign of the unseen presence of his Son Jesus Christ in Kingdom power and authority. We know that his theocratic government is now set up in the heavens and is the only stable government in the universe and the only permanent one. Its power and influence are now exercised toward this earth, and this is what is making the “god of this world”, Satan the Devil, and his demons stir up earthly society and drive all mankind in a mad course opposed to God’s rightful rule of the earth and leading to destruction at his hand. But there are those of us who hope to share with Jesus Christ in that government of the new world with its new earth and heavens. These remember how Jehovah shook the literal earth at Mount Sinai and they now say confidently: “At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, saying: ‘Yet once more I will set not only the earth but also the heaven in commotion.’ Now the expression ‘Yet once more’ signifies the removal of the things being shaken as things that have been made, in order that the things not being shaken may remain. Wherefore, seeing that we are to receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us continue to have undeserved kindness, through which we may acceptably render God sacred service with godly fear and awe.”—Heb. 12:26-28, NW.
15. But to what does Psalm 46:2, 3 really refer to show the degree of fearlessness of the psalmist?
15 Be the above as it may, Psalm 46 seems to refer to a real earthly cataclysm. To make his point strong, the psalmist says that, even if such a literal cataclysm should take place on earth and the face of the globe should change amid the frightful commotion, yet he would not fear. Nor would he need to fear, for he is safely sheltered and is upheld by a strength that is not his own human strength but is from Almighty God. As the cataclysm of nature roared and raged at the end of the antediluvian world, how free from fear Noah and his family must have felt! Not just because they were sheltered in the ark they had built, but because they were trusting in the great God Jehovah for true shelter. He would not harm them with the deluge with which he destroyed the ungodly, scoffing world. As it was in Noah’s day, so it will be in these days of the invisible presence of the Son of man in Kingdom power.
16. Why need we not fear at such a future cataclysm?
16 As we get closer to the battle of Armageddon, “the war of the great day of God the Almighty,” we do not know what cataclysmic forces will be operated by Jehovah God to overwhelm this world and blot it out. The political, military, commercial and religious elements of this world are certain to quake with fear at the sights and sounds and to grow frantic at the sure prospect of destruction for themselves. We under God’s kingdom shelter need not fear. We may naturally be frightened, as Moses was at Mount Sinai, but we shall not share the world’s fear. (Heb. 12:21) We know God is controlling the forces of destruction and we know at whom he is directing them, not at us but at his enemies, our enemies. We have made him our refuge and shelter, and he will safely shield us, passing us over just as his destroying angel passed over all the homes in Egypt marked with the blood of the passover lamb.
17. Why shall we not pass away with this world then?
17 His act of destroying the old world is the “strange act”, the act of God, for which we have been looking, yes, praying. Our hope and trust are not misplaced in any things created by man’s ingenuity, because we know they are doomed and will pass away with this old world. We have long witnessed and suffered amid this old world and now it will pass away from us because we are not of it. But we ourselves shall not pass away with it, for we are of the new world of righteousness. We belong to God’s theocratic organization under his kingdom. His visible organization will not pass away, but is as stable and permanent as his kingdom. Therefore, come what remarkable, violent changes may in the earth’s physical appearance at the end of Satan’s world, we will not fear.