Not Remaining Silent on the World’s Doom
1. What prophecy of Jeremiah was due for a minor fulfillment upon ancient Babylon in the days of Daniel?
TURNING to the book of Daniel we find additional words of comfort and strength, showing how Jehovah’s hand is over those whom He uses to declare His testimony before the visible creation. In Da chapter 5 we read the prophetic drama of Belshazzar’s feast. Jehovah’s appointed time had come for the fulfillment of the prophecy in the 51st chapter of Jeremiah, part of which said: “The days come, that I will execute judgment upon the graven images of Babylon; and her whole land shall be confounded; and all her slain shall fall in the midst of her. Then the heavens and the earth, and all that is therein, shall sing for joy over Babylon; for the destroyers shall come unto her from the north, saith Jehovah.” (Jer. 51:47, 48, AS) Belshazzar, king of Babylon, doubtless knew nothing of this prophecy, which would have a minor fulfillment in ancient Babylon, but a complete fulfillment in all its meaning upon the Babylon of today, Satan’s earthly organization, together with all its idolatry and devil religion.
2. (a) What was the setting for the prophecy of King Belshazzar’s feast? (b) How did the king directly involve Jehovah’s name in the occasion?
2 Belshazzar must have ordered many feasts during his kingship, but the one mentioned in Daniel, chapter 5, was the outstanding feast of all. He called together a thousand of the lords of Babylon, also his wives and concubines, and together they drank much wine, while praising their gods of gold, silver, brass, iron, wood, and stone, thus reproaching the living God, Jehovah. It was a time of war with the Medes and Persians, but the Babylonians felt secure inside their walled city. Any distress of wartime they sought to drive away with the drinking of much wine; the feasters were quite full of wine, feeling reckless and gay. “Inflamed by the taste of the wine, Belshazzar gave orders to bring in the vessels of gold and silver, which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken away from the temple at Jerusalem, that the king and his lords, his consorts and his concubines, might drink out of them.” (Dan. 5:2, AT) These were consecrated vessels Jehovah had caused to be made exclusively for service in the temple, but now they were being misused by a drunken crowd, with insult to Jehovah. Would Jehovah permit this desecration of his vessels of temple service? Would the Most High allow his vessels to be defiled and knocked about roughly by carousing Babylonian drunkards for their own pleasure?
3. How did Jehovah take action, and with what results?
3 Jehovah gave Belshazzar and the feasters a sudden jolt. The king was sobered up a bit. “The king’s face changed color, as his thoughts upset him; the joints of his loins relaxed, and his knees knocked against each other.” (Dan. 5:6, AT) What was it that caused this? Miraculous handwriting appeared on the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace. The king could see the fingers of a hand doing the writing. The handwriting on the wall was in a foreign language, a language not known to Belshazzar. He wanted an explanation, so he called in his “brain trust”, all the learned wise men. They pondered over it, but they could not read it and they could not make known to the king the interpretation of it. The king had offered the reward of purple robes and a gold chain and a third of the kingdom to anyone who would interpret the writing; so when his wise men failed, “then was King Belshazzar greatly upset, and he changed color; his lords also were thrown into consternation.” (Dan. 5:9, AT) There must have been plentiful talk and confusion among the rulers at Belshazzar’s feast when the wise men failed to interpret the sign words written on the wall of their banquet hall. Their heightened conversation and jabbering carried throughout the palace, and probably through the city. Babylon was indeed disturbed.
4. What maneuvering by Jehovah made the way open to give the complete witness?
4 Jehovah had by this small act thrown the palace into an uproar and brought untold worry and fear into the feasters. But he was not going to leave it at that. There was a message from Jehovah that was to be given and Jehovah maneuvered everything to suit his purpose. The queen mother heard what was going on and she came into the banquet hall. She called Belshazzar’s attention to someone who was filled with wisdom from God and who could tell the meaning of the inscription, Daniel. So the king said: “Let Daniel be called in, then, and he will give the interpretation.” (Dan. 5:12, AT) Thus the way was opened up for Daniel to give a message before the king and the principal rulers of Babylon. Jehovah had given no other person qualifications to be his witness; only Daniel was in position to tell of Jehovah’s purposes toward Babylon.
DANIEL, PROTOTYPE OF MODERN WITNESSES
5, 6. What were Daniel’s circumstances in the palace, and what did he say before the feasters?
5 Daniel saw the writing and knew the import of the message. It was not something that was going to please the king and the chief rulers at the banquet. There was Daniel in the midst of all those Babylonians, with the royal guards in the palace and, no doubt, many military leaders on hand. Daniel stood all alone and unarmed. Did all the regal splendor and pomp overawe him? Did the fact that he was so outnumbered throw fear into Daniel and make him modify or soften Jehovah’s message or make him lose sight of the point at issue?
6 First of all Daniel turned down all offers of reward by the king; he did not want what Babylon had to offer. Then he proceeded to show how Jehovah had in the past humbled Nebuchadnezzar, the father of Belshazzar, because of his obstinacy and pride. But Belshazzar had failed to learn from what Jehovah did to Nebuchadnezzar; he took a course similar to his father’s. And besides that, Belshazzar had desecrated the temple vessels that belonged to the Lord and while misusing them had praised the demon gods. He had caused over a thousand others to join in this effrontery. Daniel told of the high position God occupied above Belshazzar and then read the words inscribed in the plaster wall. “And this is the interpretation of the matter: Mene—God has numbered your kingdom, and brought it to an end; Tekel—you have been weighed in the scales, and found wanting; Peres—your kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.”—Dan. 5:26-28, AT.
7. How did Daniel show his complete trust in Jehovah, and what resulted to him for his integrity?
7 No, Daniel was neither backward nor fearful amid the feasters or in the presence of the king. He was there as one of Jehovah’s witnesses and he relied upon the Powerful One who had sent him. With clear, dignified, measured speech he gave the declaration of Jehovah’s judgments so all could hear. It was God’s truth and Daniel knew he was there to tell it. Yes, the Babylonians thought theirs was an impregnable city, but Jehovah’s prophets had foretold its overthrow. Daniel knew Jehovah’s words would come true no matter what kind of fortifications the city had, and Daniel was given the privilege of having his life saved during the capture of Babylon, by Jehovah’s protection. That very night with his own eyes he saw come to pass the acts he was used to speak of in advance as one of Jehovah’s witnesses, when Belshazzar was slain and the kingdom taken over by Darius the Mede. Following that, Darius highly exalted Daniel in the new government, to complete the prophetic drama.
8. (a) Who or what were pictured by Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar and Babylon? (b) When does the prophecy have fulfillment?
8 What does this show us today? What were pictured by Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar? When does the fulfillment take place? Babylon was built by Nebuchadnezzar into a mighty empire, and it pictures the visible organization of Satan in which demon religion is prominent. Nebuchadnezzar therefore pictured Satan; while Belshazzar represented the “seed of the serpent”, the visible religious, commercial and political offspring of Satan today. (Gen. 3:15; John 8:44) In 1914 the war against Satan and his wicked organization began in the heavens, and now Jehovah’s hosts under Christ stand poised for the final blow against that entire system of things. These last days of this old world—now in our day—that is when the prophecy is being completely fulfilled. (Luke 21:26; Rev. 12:7-12) Satan’s organization is divided and in great trouble now, and foolishly trying to forget the multitudinous troubles by gulping down Babylon’s wine.—Jer. 51:7; Rev. 18:3.
9. Whom did the misused temple vessels foreshadow?
9 What of the temple vessels? These were used in the typical temple of Jehovah in Jerusalem; they were actually a part of it. To Christians the inspired apostle Paul says, at 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17, NW: “Do you not know that you people are God’s temple and that the spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him; for the temple of God is holy, which temple you people are.” Jehovah’s anointed witnesses make up his temple organization and he sanctifies each of them as a vessel “for an honorable purpose, . . . useful to his owner, prepared for every good work”. (2 Tim. 2:21, NW) In fulfillment of the prophecy it is Jehovah’s visible servants that are abused and persecuted and made sport of to the hilarity of those now drunken on Babylon’s wine. Everyone on earth today must admit that Jehovah’s witnesses are hated and ridiculed by the world because they bear Jehovah’s name and endeavor to live according to His commandments. (Matt. 24:9) It is as though they, the modern-day Babylonians, did those things to Christ himself, bringing judgment upon them from above.—Matt. 25:31-46.
10. In fulfillment of the prophecy, what is the handwriting on the wall, and how do the rulers of modern Babylon react toward it?
10 Jehovah’s due time is here for the delivering of the final judgment message against modern Babylon. Just as no one could prevent Jehovah from writing on the palace walls in Babylon, likewise today the clergy, politicians and commercial oppressors are forced by Jehovah to hear the judgment message; they cannot escape it, even if they try through dictators and framing mischief by laws and decrees to gag the ones proclaiming it. Their spokesmen may say, because they cannot understand Jehovah’s Word nor explain it, that there is nothing to it. But all of them know there has never been such distress and shaking and instability of Satan’s divided world as now. The message from Jehovah disturbs and troubles them. They do not like to believe it, and yet, by their fighting against those who tell it out, they show they realize it is true. Any other small minority group would be ignored by them. Even Babylon’s religious wine does not comfort them; it fails them. Drunken though they may be, the forceful “handwriting on the wall” message from Jehovah sobers them up a bit and their knees knock with fear.
11. (a) Whom did Daniel picture? (b) What is the fulfillment of the action taken by the queen mother?
11 Daniel, of course, pictured Jehovah’s anointed witnesses, the body of people Jehovah now uses to make his message plain. Of themselves Jehovah’s witnesses could not get very far with world-wide announcing of a message such as Jehovah has given against this old world, but Jehovah is backing them up and He sees to it that they are heard now throughout the world. In the prophecy it was the queen mother who was used by Jehovah to make the way open for the hearing of Daniel. She was not in on the feast, but she did occupy a position of minor rulership in the land; she was closely associated with the king, a member of the official family. This shows how there are some men and women of good will in public office, under the chief ruling powers, who have a kindly feeling toward Jehovah’s witnesses and believe that such witnesses represent the Lord and have a right to and should be heard. In their work of witnessing, Jehovah’s servants have used many laws to keep the way of preaching open; they have gone to the highest courts of the land to protect their rights to speak. Often they have found sympathetic officials in governments who have helped them to benefit by freedom of speech and worship, these sometimes opening up the way for Jehovah’s witnesses to testify before higher rulers of the earthly governments. They would let Jehovah’s witnesses be heard.
12. (a) What kind of message do the modern Babylonians want to hear? (b) Why? (c) But what attitude do Jehovah’s witnesses now take toward them?
12 Today the visible “seed of the serpent” crowd who stand in opposition to the rule of Jehovah’s kingdom, which began in 1914, find Jehovah’s witnesses in their presence. That crowd would like to hear a pleasant message, that is, that this old world will endure indefinitely. They love to have this system of things in operation, because they delight to lord it over the people through their deception and they grow wealthy and fat. (Jer. 5:28-31) But will Jehovah’s witnesses soften the judgment message from Jehovah? Will they try to please the ears of Satan’s “seed”? By Jehovah’s mercy they boldly declare the full import of the message with ever-increasing volume and finality, as did Daniel. They know that Jehovah’s hosts of execution are on the move and that Jehovah will shortly take over the complete rule of earth through Christ Jesus. It is true. It is right. They cannot hold back. Just as Daniel stood alone and unarmed, so Jehovah’s witnesses do not carry carnal weapons. They do not try to accomplish the overthrow of the wicked world through their own power, but they stand as Jehovah’s announcers and impress all the people by their boldness and complete trust in Jehovah. Daniel never spoke with more boldness than just before Belshazzar’s end, and today Jehovah’s witnesses do likewise, for the end of this old system of things is at hand.
WHO BENEFIT FROM GIVING THE MESSAGE
13. Who benefit from the delivering of the warning message, and how?
13 The message meant something to Daniel personally too; it meant his deliverance from that city which brought so much reproach against Jehovah and oppressed the people. So in modern times it is a message of their own deliverance from a wicked world that Jehovah’s witnesses give out and the words spread to all parts of the earth. There are found in subjection to the “seed of the serpent” class many who hear and are helped by the ministry of Jehovah’s witnesses; they appreciate the opportunity to take their stand with Jehovah God and Christ Jesus and gain life. The majority will stay drunken on Babylon’s religious wine, but a minority will heed and be saved. Up to this time Jehovah’s witnesses have seen that hundreds of thousands of persons of good will have joined with them in telling out Jehovah’s message, which is for their salvation. (Rev. 22:17) This brings comfort, gladness and joy to Jehovah’s servants. It is in fulfillment of Jehovah’s prophecies, which they study carefully, equipping themselves to preach and making themselves strong in faith.
14, 15. (a) What is foretold in the preserving of Daniel, Jeremiah and other faithful witnesses of Jehovah through the destructive acts? (b) By faith what do we now see?
14 Daniel, Jeremiah, Moses, Noah, and others of God’s witnesses were carried right through times of destruction, and this illustrates how Jehovah will carry some of the anointed “remnant” class through the battle of Armageddon into the new world. Furthermore, the prophecies show that numberless others survived as well, picturing how many of the “other sheep” of the Lord will be carried through the time of destruction of this old world and keep on living in the new world of righteousness under Jehovah’s rule. What a privilege, unmatched and glorious, to be here in the middle of the witness work right down to the end of this old world! By faithfulness we shall see all that Jehovah caused us to preach come to pass. “Then the haughtiness of man will be humbled, and the pride of man will be brought low; and the LORD alone will be exalted on that day.” “And it will be said on that day, ‘Lo! this is our God, for whom we waited that he might save us; this is the LORD for whom we waited; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation!’”—Isa. 2:17; 25:9, AT.
15 That will be something to behold. Then will be the untold blessings of the new world. That is Jehovah’s salvation for those who love him. Even now, by faith we see these things. Our hearts rejoice! Already we see that Christ Jesus reigns since 1914. Accompanying that rule, just as foretold, confusion, disease, wars and distress rip through the ranks of the crumbling old world; its end is near.
16. (a) Will the stones now have to cry out instead of living witnesses to announce the Kingdom? (b) Why do you answer thus? (c) With the assurance we have from the Scriptures fixed in our minds, what should we do now?
16 Seeing these things clearly, can we now hold back from giving the witness? Can we remain silent when our invisible King Christ Jesus reigns? Will we quit witnessing for Jehovah on account of fear, threats, hardships, persecution, reproach, or anything else? Will the stones now have to cry out instead of living witnesses to announce the Kingdom? All of the prophecies answer, No! In ancient times Jehovah kept his visible servants witnessing faithfully to the end, preserving them through the destruction of organizations foreshadowing the destruction of the present evil system of things at Armageddon. Therefore in the last days of this old world Jehovah, whose prophecies never fail, will likewise preserve his own fearless, visible servant body and their companions through the battle of Armageddon as a testimony to his own supremacy. Such assurance from the Scriptures brings us further strength and great joy. We see there are so many different ways to publish the message now; indeed all who desire are enabled to join in the world-wide shout of praise to Jehovah. So then let us, as individuals, wherever we may be, do all within our power to personally have a part in the wonderful victorious completion of the witness work by now standing active and unafraid as Jehovah’s witnesses right down to the end.—Matt. 24:13.
[Picture on page 537]
Mene, Tekel, Peres