Shadows of Family Unity Hold Forth Promise
“For a certainty I perceive that God is not partial, but in every nation the man that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him.”—Acts 10:34, 35, NW.
1, 2. (a) What condition in Christendom has made her worship of God a vain thing? (b) What similar condition exists in heathendom, but what purpose of God is certain?
NO ONE who is faithfully carrying out the righteous requirements of Jehovah need ever feel inferior or out of place in the midst of God’s people. The principles of justice and impartiality that prevail in the Christian congregation were established by Christ Jesus even before the first company of Jehovah’s witnesses began to operate in Jerusalem immediately after the outpouring of God’s active force upon the one hundred and twenty assembled disciples, Pentecost, A.D. 33. The peoples of Christendom have in this regard, as in many others, made worship a vain thing by setting up a special class of educated clergy who claim a preferred place in the organization and who, by the example that they set, exalt certain others who may be influential and debase the majority until many sincere ones feel unwelcome and unwanted.
2 Nor is this condition limited to Christendom. All over the world divisive barriers have been erected that might seem to some to have forever disunited mankind. Family is set above family, clan above clan; classes are split into subclasses, and within the borders of some nations castes are erected that fatalistically determine one’s associations and order the course of his entire life from birth. But what can be done about it, some will inquire? Certainly there is no hope for relief within our generation! “Do not be misled: God is not one to be mocked.” (Gal. 6:7, NW) Jehovah’s purpose of unity and oneness of family relationship earth-wide will not fail to be carried out; and those who rely on the outworking of his purpose eagerly insist that the impartiality of recognition and equality of opportunity, which already exist within his true modern-day congregations, be guarded as zealously as they were in the early days of his people.
EARLY PROVISION IDENTIFIES PURPOSE
3. What far-reaching purpose of God was manifested in Adam’s powers of procreation?
3 Adam and Eve, in Eden, had prospects of a family that would one day fill the entire earth. The powers of procreation given them by Jehovah, their own great Parent, were indeed an evidence of the oneness that was to exist among all this vast human family. For could not this first man truthfully say that all flesh in the earth, formed in the image and likeness of his great God and Father, would spring forth from his own body? Had not his wife and partner in this far-reaching procreation project herself been fashioned from his own rib so that she was ‘bone of his bones and flesh of his flesh’? And now, the union that Jehovah God had authorized for them and for their offspring was to produce from these first parents hundreds, thousands, yes, millions of their own kind, all related to one another, all children of Adam and sons of God.—Gen. 1:28.
4. What was the result of Adam’s disregard for God’s purpose, and how did Cain aggravate the situation?
4 What a tragedy that before the first beautiful baby could be brought forth in honor of the Creator, Adam willfully threw away his legal right to this inheritance of eternal life from God and was literally ousted from God’s great family organization! And what a mockery of Jehovah’s stated purpose when Adam’s first son, spawned in his bitterness, was ambitiously called Cain by his hopeful mother, for, she said, “I have gotten a man with the help of Jehovah”! (Gen. 4:1, AS) Truly did he prove himself a son of his fleshly father, however, when he rose up after an act of faulty worship and violently ruptured what was left of Adam’s family unity by foully murdering his own brother. “And for the sake of what did he slaughter him? Because his own works were wicked, but those of his brother were righteous.”—1 John 3:12, NW.
5. How was God’s purpose to populate the earth through families then demonstrated?
5 However, that God’s purpose to populate the earth is still to be carried out through the family arrangement, he clearly demonstrated some fifteen hundred and twenty-six years later in the days of Noah. The divine record states, “Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, namely, of Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and unto them were sons born after the flood. Of these were the isles of the nations divided in their lands, every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations.” (Gen. 10:1, 5, AS) The procreation mandate restated to Noah in a typical way had a token fulfillment in the seventy families mentioned in this tenth chapter of Genesis and which were set up as a patriarchal society. Another eight hundred and fifty-seven years and the point was further emphasized when Jehovah organized the descendants of the family head Abraham into a nation and divided it into tribes and “declared their pedigrees after their families, by their fathers’ houses”. (Num. 1:18, AS) Yes, unquestionably family relationship is of God’s making and he has poured out his rich blessing upon those who recognize and properly evaluate his provision for this strong bond of unity. As the psalmist declared, “Yet setteth he the needy on high from affliction, and maketh him families like a flock.”—Ps. 107:41, AS.
6. How can it be shown that God was not putting into operation a family caste society?
6 But certainly, someone will object, does not this fact actually prove the validity of caste society, that God not only authorizes the family caste system but was in effect putting it into operation in these instances? And would not this division cause disunity and eventually class distinctions that would result in one family’s being elevated above another through an accepted or enforced superiority? Paul, thoroughly versed in the history of God’s dealings with his people, argued, No. Standing in the Areopagus with the Athenians and the many visiting foreigners before him, he tactfully but forcefully made the class-leveling observation, “And [God] made out of one man every nation of men, to dwell upon the entire surface of the earth, and he decreed the appointed seasons and the set limits of the dwelling of men, for them to seek God, if they might grope for him and really find him.” (Acts 17:26, 27, NW) Nor was Paul establishing a new principle in this regard, for some fourteen years previous Peter, in recognizing the first uncircumcised Gentile Christian to be accepted by God, said, “For a certainty I perceive that God is not partial, but in every nation the man that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him.” (Acts 10:34, 35, NW) Here again, the natural Jew, Peter, under inspiration of the active force of God, was repeating what Moses, as God’s mediator for the Jewish nation, had himself reminded the Jews in the beginning of their history: “For Jehovah your God, he is God of gods, . . . who regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward.” (Deut. 10:17, AS) It is also noted of the faithful king Jehoshaphat that when he set judges over the nation he cautioned them, “Consider what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for Jehovah; and he is with you in the judgment. . . . take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with Jehovah our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of bribes.” (2 Chron. 19:6, 7, AS) Clearly, then, regardless of the manner he has chosen to carry out his purpose, Jehovah’s principles of justice and equality, which he had established from the beginning of his dealings with mankind and which have been indelibly recorded as an integral part of his own sacred pronouncements, would not permit him to favor individuals because of family relationship, nor would they allow him to show partiality to certain elite family groups. The disunity and class distinction that afflict the world today are not the result of Jehovah’s arrangement with mankind, but rather are the result of an organized effort in direct opposition to God’s will and purpose.
7. What would enable the many family units organized by Noah to maintain a common unity, and what would certainly disrupt it?
7 The truthfulness of this conclusion is borne out by the Record in the account of the opposition to God’s arrangement of the patriarchal society after the Flood. As we have already observed, God had made provision through Noah for the peopling of the earth in a token way by the seventy family heads, descendants of Noah. Noah, astute organizer that he was and aware of the pitfalls that beset imperfect man in his ambition, refused to exalt any family above another, or to allow anyone, including himself, to be made a king and thereby rule over his brothers. He knew that man needed no other unifying force than the recognition of Jehovah as the Supreme Sovereign and acceptance of His law as man’s proper rule of action. He wisely maintained by his own course that adherence to these principles would enable all the many families and peoples that were to develop naturally from this beginning “to dwell upon the entire surface of the earth” and to do so in peace and unity. By this same token, any discriminatory class elevation would disrupt this harmonious society. What were the succeeding events that were to prove this to be true? Noah lived to see just such an attempt made in this direction.
“MASTER RACE” PROGRAMS BRING RUIN
8. What was the first organized effort to establish a caste system, and in what did it result?
8 From the line of his youngest son Ham arose another upstart like Cain with ambition to occupy a position of prominence. The notorious Nimrod, whose name is still linked with the wanton slaying of animals, set out upon a one-man world-building program in defiance of Jehovah. Rather than adhere to the then well-established and recognized principle of family unity and to Noah’s divinely instituted program of family migration to the ends of the earth, he began to work in the opposite direction and to the accomplishment of different aims. Evidently his program of exalting a centralized human government and of violent subjugation of the people was gaining momentum, for it is written of his adherents, “And they said, Come, let us build us a city, and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven, and let us make us a name; lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” To show that this was not his reason for making family divisions and to show his disfavor of such an attitude of “class superiority”, Jehovah enforced the fulfillment of his own purpose by the simple expedient of confusing their languages. “So Jehovah scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off building the city.” (Gen. 11:4, 8, AS) So ended in ignominious defeat man’s first organized effort to establish a superior “caste” system in defiance of Jehovah.
9. What similar effort was made by the first world power, and how did it fare?
9 This was by no means to be man’s final attempt. Nor was this lesson so bitterly learned as to keep another nation from further and even more violent efforts to become the “master race”. Spurred on by their Adamic heritage of willfulness and their insatiable desire to dominate their brothers, this time Egypt, the first world power, rose up as the champion of “race supremacy”. Because of fear that the Israelites, whom they had made slaves in the land, would multiply and turn on them in time of war, they organized and set into operation a program aimed at extermination of the Israelites as a nation. “And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive.” (Ex. 1:22) By exterminating the males, they reasoned, the daughters of the Israelites would eventually be forced to marry the Egyptian men and the race would gradually become absorbed, and in the meantime the danger to the Egyptians of being overthrown would be gone. However, they reckoned without the power and purpose of Jehovah or the unshakable faith of the Israelites themselves. Jehovah heard the cry of his people and raised them up a deliverer and by the strength of His own arm he brought them out in sight of all Egypt and broke the power of this first world empire. Thus Egypt’s “master race” program resulted in her ruin, condemned by God in another unmistakable demonstration of his position in this matter of class or race superiority.
10. What modern “master race” program followed the same pattern?
10 Even so in modern times Jehovah God has demonstrated his hand against those who would be exalted as a “master race”. Out of the pages of modern history comes this same spirit of egomania and intolerance in the embodiment of Hitler and his modern-day effort at genocide. The facts are incontrovertibly established as to his hatred for the chosen people of God in these times, Jehovah’s witnesses. And because the fleshly Jews were themselves at one time God’s chosen people they have always been the targets of attack by Satan and his dupes. No wonder, then, that they also felt the iron hand of oppression and were brought near to the brink of extermination in those lands controlled by the nazis. But after this madman’s abuse of Jehovah’s faithful witnesses and after his violent opposition to the Kingdom message he too was leveled to the ground and his “master race” with him. Let all such “master minds” take due notice!
11. For what reasons can it not be said that Jehovah favored race superiority in exalting Israel?
11 At this point someone might again raise an objection. Did not Jehovah show himself unopposed to this principle when he selected the Israelites as his people and exalted them above all other peoples? Could it not be said that Jehovah was favoring race superiority on the part of the Jewish nation? But again we turn to the divine oracles and find an emphatic No! Jehovah did not mislead the Israelites as to his reason for their selection. “Jehovah thy God hath chosen thee to be a people for his own possession, above all peoples that are upon the face of the earth. Jehovah did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all peoples: but because Jehovah loveth you, and because he would keep the oath which he sware unto your fathers, hath Jehovah brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” (Deut. 7:6-8, AS) Unquestionably, the superiority of this nation would depend upon their being and remaining a people to exalt the name of Jehovah, for the psalmist sang, “He saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make his mighty power to be known.”—Ps. 106:8.
12. Why would God not unalterably retain Israel as a people because of friendship with Abraham?
12 True, God himself had said that it was because of the oath that he had sworn to their fathers. But that he did not thereby unalterably bind himself to maintain the entire nation as his own is clearly shown by what occurred in the wilderness in the second year after they left Egypt. After ten of the twelve spies that were sent into Canaan to spy out the land returned with an unfavorable and fearful report, Jehovah became angry with the nation for this manifest lack of faith. “And Jehovah said unto Moses, How long will this people despise me? and how long will they not believe in me, for all the signs which I have wrought among them? I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a nation greater and mightier than they.” (Num. 14:11, 12, AS) Centuries later John the Baptist also gave testimony on this point when he condemned certain ones of the natural descendants of Abraham: “You offspring of vipers, who has shown you how to flee from the coming wrath? Therefore produce fruits that befit repentance. And do not start saying within yourselves, ‘As a father we have Abraham.’ For I say to you that God has power to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.” (Luke 3:7, 8, NW) Clearly Jehovah was not interested in a people just for their own sake or because of some supposed “superiority” that their position with him might give them. Nor was he here erecting a “master race” that could forever claim a favored standing because of God’s friendship for their forefather Abraham. Jehovah God never alters his righteous principles and has consistently maintained the position he established in Eden.
TYPICAL ISRAEL A UNITED FAMILY
13. How did Jehovah emphasize that the priesthood was not a special caste?
13 It is not strange, then, that in the organization of Israel no allowance for class distinction was made possible under the Law, neither was Jehovah erecting a caste system when he established the priesthood as an officiating body and a means of approach for the Israelites. Since Jehovah was emphasizing the sin-laden condition of the Jews, it was necessary that some provision be made whereby Jehovah would be accessible in worship. The priests, being consecrated and sanctified to this service, could provide this means of approach through the various sacrifices and oblations arranged for under the terms of the Law covenant. But even though the priests were given this peculiar privilege, Jehovah still emphasized the fact that he was God of all Israel. “At that time, saith Jehovah, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people.”—Jer. 31:1, AS.
14. How did the tribe of Levi come into this favored position?
14 Furthermore, originally it was not the Levites that had been set apart as God’s chosen ones. In Egypt, when the angel of Jehovah went throughout the land and slew all the first-born of the Egyptians, all the first-born of all the families of Israel were sanctified by Jehovah and became his own by reason of their lives’ being spared. Thus all families were represented equally in his possession. Now, according to the practice in ancient times, the eldest sons would normally in course of time serve as priests anyway, but, in establishing his national priesthood, Jehovah, by his own right of independent action, took the Levites in their place. “And Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying, And I, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of all the first-born that openeth the womb among the children of Israel; and the Levites shall be mine: for all the first-born are mine; on the day that I smote all the first-born in the land of Egypt I hallowed unto me all the first-born in Israel, both man and beast; mine they shall be: I am Jehovah.” (Num. 3:11-13, AS; see also Nu 3 verses 44-51) Thus it is that Jehovah in inaugurating the Law covenant said to all the families of Israel, “If ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be mine own possession from among all peoples: for all the earth is mine: and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation.” (Ex. 19:5, 6, AS) Certainly, then, Jehovah was not inaugurating with the Levites an elevated priesthood nor making a class distinction.
15. (a) What evidences show that families were not given undue prominence in Israel? (b) How was discrimination prevented?
15 As a further evidence that families were not given unusual prominence in Israel, marriage was permitted between members of differing tribes although it was not allowed in cases where the inheritance of land would thereby pass out of the tribe. (Num. 27:5-11; 36:1-12) Although marriage was forbidden with aliens, there were certain conditions when a marriage could even be made with a woman taken captive in war. (Deut. 21:10-13) It will be remembered that Rahab, an ancestress of Christ Jesus, was welcomed into the tribe of Judah by Salmon, who married her, as was also the case with Ruth, who became the wife of Boaz. (Matt. 1:2-5; Josh. 6:23, 25; Ruth 4:10, 13) In the matter of marriage it is remarkable too that even though a man was a servant he could marry his master’s daughter. (1 Chron. 2:34, 35) From this it is seen that servants occupied a very favored position in Israel. It is true that slavery was permitted, but was it not emphasized that all the nation of Israel was enslaved to Jehovah? (Lev. 25:55, AT) Furthermore it was not permitted that a natural son of Abraham be sold permanently into involuntary slavery to his brothers. (Ex. 21:2-8; Lev. 25:39-55; Deut. 15:12-18) In addition, servants were not to be oppressed in any way but were to be treated with consideration. Injuries resulting to them at the hands of their masters were to be recognized and punishment was to be meted out or proper remedy made even to the extent of letting the servant go free because of the loss of an eye or a tooth. (Ex. 21:20, 21, 26, 27, 32) Neither were wages to be withheld; prompt payment was required at all times. (Lev. 19:13; Deut. 24:14, 15) It becomes apparent then that although classes did appear in Israel the law did not allow for discrimination of any kind against any group or individual because of station in life. Only those who were enemies of the nation were ostracized or considered as outcasts.—Deut. 7:1-3.
16. What is pictured by the one law’s being given for homeborn and stranger alike?
16 Here again, however, we see the mercy of God manifested. Even though a positive commandment was given to completely destroy all those who were unlawfully in the land the Israelites were given to inherit, Jehovah made provision for those strangers who were favorably disposed toward the Jews. If they would be willing to submit to circumcision and would keep all the laws of Israel, they would be accepted as a part of the nation and would receive many blessings the same as the homeborn Jew. (Num. 15:14-16) Here then in every way in the nation of Israel is a beautiful picture of the unity that exists in the congregations of Jehovah’s people today, the one law for homeborn and stranger alike well picturing the one set of theocratic counsel for the “little flock” of the anointed and for the “other sheep”, dwelling together as “one flock”, a family without division.