Questions From Readers
● Is it unscriptural for one of Jehovah’s witnesses to marry someone that is not in the truth?—L. H., Ohio.
Jehovah’s consecrated people, being in the world but no part of it, are in a position similar to that of Abraham sojourning in the land of Canaan. (John 17:14-16; 15:19) Abraham safeguarded his family circle from the invasion of demon worship through marriage ties with the Canaanites, sending to his homeland instead for a wife for his son Isaac. (Gen. 24:3, 4) Isaac’s son Jacob was similarly protected from heathen women. (Gen. 28:1, 2) Centuries later the Israelites, while en route to the Promised Land, were commanded to avoid marriages with the nonbelievers in Canaan: “You must not intermarry with them, neither giving your daughters in marriage to their sons, nor receiving their daughters for your sons; for they would turn your sons from following me to serving alien gods.” (Deut. 7:3, 4, AT) So important was this principle that Jehovah incorporated it into his divine Law: “Lest you make a compact with the nations, deserting to their gods, sacrificing to their gods, agreeing to partake of their sacrificial meals, marrying your sons to their daughters, who will desert to their gods and make your sons desert also.” (Ex. 34:15, 16, Mo) Close social relationships of any kind were forbidden as dangerous. After Israel entered Canaan and gained many victories over the enemies, it was still essential to warn the Israelites away from entangling relations with the heathen, including the matrimonial relation.—Josh. 23:6-8, 12, 13.
But there were always Israelites who thought they were strong enough spiritually to wed heathen women, enjoy the marriage ties, and at the same time resist the ensnaring effects of their wives’ demon religions. Yet God’s good counsel and command could not be ignored with impunity, not even by the wisest man in those olden times, King Solomon. Of him it is written that he loved many foreign women, and took wives from among the heathen nations round about, and “his wives turned away his heart after other gods; and his heart was not perfect with Jehovah his God”. This deliberate disobedience came after God had warned Solomon, after Jehovah had “commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which Jehovah commanded”.—1 Ki. 11, AS; Ezra 9:1, 2.
Similar warnings of separateness from this old world are found also in the Christian Greek Scriptures. For example: “Do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers. . . . what portion does a faithful person have with an unbeliever?” (2 Cor. 6:14, 15, NW) Marriage of one of Jehovah’s witnesses to an unbeliever results in an unequal yoke and cannot help but produce unequal pulling and stress and friction. All should remember that marriage ties are liable to prove long-term bonds, because in God’s judicial court they cannot be lightly snapped, severed for anything short of adultery by one of the marriage partners. (Matt. 19:9; Mark 10:11, 12) These bonds may add responsibility and restrictions to one’s liberty that will last a lifetime. For this reason not only a first marriage but also a remarriage after death of one partner should be carefully weighed. The apostle Paul counsels: “A wife is bound during all the time her husband is alive. But if her husband should fall asleep in death, she is free to be married to whom she wants, ONLY IN THE LORD.”—1 Cor. 7:39, NW.
The restriction here given concerning Christian widows desiring to remarry applies with equal force to any servant of God seeking a husband or wife, namely, to marry “only in the Lord”. That means to marry only a person dedicated to Jehovah, like oneself. For a Christian to unequally yoke himself up with an unbeliever is not conducive to Christian welfare and is controlled more by passion. Such deliberate and willful endangerment of one’s Christian welfare and spiritual interests is not pleasing to God or Christ, is a flouting of Jehovah’s counsel and command.
● Isaiah 7:14 foretells that Messiah was to be called “Immanuel”, yet Jesus was not so called. Why not?—J.W., California.
That this prophecy was adequately fulfilled by Christ Jesus is made clear in Matthew’s Gospel. If it had not had its proper fulfillment then Matthew would not have had the grounds to call specific notice to it, as he did in Mt chapter 1 verses 22, 23 (NW): “All this actually came about for that to be fulfilled which was spoken by Jehovah through his prophet, saying, ‘Look! the virgin will become pregnant and will give birth to a son, and they will call his name “Immanuel”,’ which means, when translated, ‘With us is God.’” The important thing is that this name had meaning, and Jesus fulfilled that meaning. He was Jehovah’s Representative, Jehovah’s Anointed One, the Christ or Messiah. In sending the Messiah to the Jews God showed that he was with them, not against them. He continued with the faithful Jewish remnant that accepted Jesus the Messiah, and he is with those who accept Christ the enthroned King at this time.
Other names were foretold for the Messiah. For example, Isaiah 9:6 states concerning him: “His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” Yet all of these names were not used toward Jesus as personal names by which to call him. He lived up to the meaning of these names, and that is the sense in which they were prophetically given, to show his qualities and the good offices he would perform for the obedient ones. So with the name Immanuel. He measured up to its meaning and thus fulfilled the prophecy assigning it to the Messiah, even though Jesus and not Immanuel was used as his personal name, which also was very meaningful.—Matt. 1:21.
● What do Jesus’ words at Matthew 12:43-45 mean?—R. D., California.
“When an unclean spirit comes out of a man, it passes through parched places in search of refreshment, and finds none. Then it says: ‘I will go back to my house out of which I moved’; and on arriving it finds it unoccupied but swept clean and adorned. Then it goes its way and takes along with it seven different spirits more wicked than itself, and, after getting inside, they dwell there; and the final circumstances of that man become worse than the first. That is how it will be also with this wicked generation.”—Matt. 12:43-45; Luke 11:24-26, NW.
A man who has been possessed with a demon and gets rid of it has a vacuum left. This vacuum or emptiness left by the evacuation of the demon is to be filled with the Lord’s spirit, with a faith backed up by works in harmony with God’s Word. Then when the demon returns he would not find the person, likened unto the demon’s house, “unoccupied but swept clean and adorned.” Instead, he would find the place he had vacated filled with a stronger spirit, Jehovah’s active force, and the demon spirit would not be able to reoccupy this person. Apparently in the case Jesus was discussing the person freed of a demon left the vacuum unfilled, not taking up Jehovah’s service and making room for Jehovah’s spirit in his life, but merely cleaning himself up and adorning himself in a visible show of piety. Such a person will not be able to prevent the return of the demon spirit, and in his relapse his plight worsens, more demon spirits than before occupying him.
Applying the principle in a general way, a person may be a part of the world under condemnation, alienated from God. Then he gets a knowledge of the truth, ousts from his life the evil spirit of this world and of Satan, but then he fails to continue in God’s way. He does not receive God’s spirit and make room for it in his life, allowing it to direct him in good works and fill his life. He quenches the spirit of God in his life, leaving his existence empty, nothing but a shell of outward piety cleansed of some of his former worldly filth. His lack of appreciation and service and good works inspired by God’s spirit leaves him open for reoccupation by Satan’s defiling influences, and demon spirits control his life more completely, if more subtly, than ever before.—Heb. 6:4-8; 10:26, 27; 2 Pet. 2:20-22, NW.
So it was also with the Israelite nation. It had been cleansed and set apart from heathendom and Satan’s rulership, but it soon left undone the weighty matters of Jehovah’s law and covenant, and rather than occupying and filling its national history with service directed by Jehovah’s spirit it fussed with minor matters and human traditions and an outward show of piety and ceremonial purity. By the time Jesus came the wicked generation of religious Jews were under Satan’s control to such a complete degree that they rejected the Messiah. The end of this nation made responsible with divine knowledge was worse than its beginning.
Incidentally, King Saul’s case shows that if one’s life is not filled with Jehovah’s spirit it is likely to be taken over by a demon spirit. David had been anointed king in wicked King Saul’s stead, and the spirit of Jehovah came upon David; but note what occurred in Saul’s case: “Now the spirit of Jehovah departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from Jehovah troubled him.” (1 Sam. 16:13, 14, AS) Not that Jehovah actually sent an evil spirit to trouble Saul, but by Jehovah’s removing his spirit it left a vacancy, and that vacancy was now filled by a demon spirit. Since Jehovah made this demon possession possible by removing his spirit, Jehovah is referred to as the source of the evil spirit.
It is comparable to the statement that Jehovah hardened Pharaoh’s heart; Jehovah did not do so, but the message from Jehovah caused Pharaoh to harden his own heart. Jehovah’s message and Jehovah’s dealings with the Egyptians caused Pharaoh to react in hard stubbornness and anger; and since the message and dealings were from Jehovah he may be said to have indirectly hardened Pharaoh’s heart. (Ex. 7:3; 8:15, 32) Another illustration of this principle is where Jehovah told Isaiah to “make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes”; he, Isaiah, was not to do this literally, but the message he declared made these rebellious ones unreceptive because it did not please them. (Isa. 6:10) So when Jehovah’s spirit was removed from Saul, a demon spirit entered Saul, for Saul was like an unoccupied house.