Down with the Old—Up with the New!
“See, I have commissioned you this day to be over the nations and over the kingdoms, in order to uproot and to pull down and to destroy and to tear down, to build and to plant.”—Jer. 1:10.
1. Who were the ones foretold to be hated by all nations on account of Jesus’ name?
“THEN people will deliver you up to tribulation and will kill you, and you will be hated by all the nations on account of my name. . . . And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for the purpose of a witness to all the nations, and then the accomplished end will come.” (Matt. 24:9-14) The speaker of these words, on account of whose name they would be hated by all the nations, was Jesus Christ. Those who would be hated by all the nations were his disciples, followers who were associated with his name and who preached in his name. They were Christians, of the real sort, not afraid to endure hatred on account of his name. When was this hatred to burn against them?
2. When was this hatred to burn against them?
2 The time adverb then locates it at the time when Jesus’ prophecy was fulfilled: “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be food shortages and earthquakes in one place after another. All these things are a beginning of pangs of distress.” This beginning of pangs of distress, with more pangs and severer pangs due to come, was to mark the beginning of the consummation of the system of things.—Matt. 24:7, 8, 3.
3. When did the international pangs of distress begin, and what movement of things started taking place?
3 Our well-known modern history supplies us with the proof that that beginning of pangs of distress, that beginning of the consummation of the system of things, was forty-four years ago, in the year 1914. On July 28 of that year the kingdom of Austria declared war on the kingdom of Serbia. World War I followed, accompanied by the many other things that Jesus foretold. At that momentous time something began to go down, and something else began to come up.
4. What is it that Jesus’ followers have to do with the nations?
4 According to the words of Jesus just quoted, his real and true followers must have something to do with the nations. Of course, they may have nothing to do with national politics; yet they do find themselves living among all nations of the earth, there to suffer being hated by all the nations and there to preach this good news of the Kingdom everywhere for the purpose of a witness to all the nations, which means also those nations in Europe and in North, Central and South America.
5. What is the reason that Jesus’ followers are hated by all nations—merely the bearing of his name, or what?
5 Why should they be hated by all nations? It cannot be just on account of Christ’s name. In Europe and in the Americas as well as in the rest of Christendom there are hundreds of millions of people who are called Christians, and they are by no means hated. Rather, they are loved by the nations of this world. Still, anyone can take a name. So, besides the mere name, there must be another reason that causes this hatred by one and all the nations. This other thing must be that which Christ’s truly named followers do in fulfillment of his own prophecy. It must be their preaching “this good news of the kingdom” for the purpose of a witness. What kingdom? Well, which kingdom or which political government on earth today is a source of good news? None! Jesus did not prophetically refer to any of these. There was just one kingdom that he always talked about—just one, so that there is no mistaking. This was the kingdom of God. It is the only source for good news today. Jesus’ followers today mark themselves as genuine Christians by preaching just this kingdom and by being willing to be hated by all nations for preaching this kingdom.
6. According to Jesus’ prophecy concerning them, his followers would be very much like whom, and why so?
6 Nothing, therefore, is plainer than this, that Jesus Christ foretold that his followers who would bear witness to all nations would have startling things to say or preach about the ending of the old and the beginning of the new. For this reason they would raise a storm of international protest and would suffer hatred by all the old nations. In this regard they are very much like the ancient prophet Jeremiah, who lived and preached more than six hundred years before Jesus Christ. When Jesus was on earth, many Jews mistook him for Jeremiah the prophet. (Matt. 16:13, 14) Jesus quoted things from the prophecy of Jeremiah. In turn, Jeremiah foretold things concerning Jesus Christ. Jeremiah also foretold important things concerning the followers of Jesus. In fact, Jeremiah prophetically prefigured the remnant or remaining ones of Jesus’ consecrated, anointed followers on earth in this time of the outgoing of the old and the incoming of the new.
7. When Jeremiah began preaching, what was about to happen in the religious realm, and so why is it now necessary to listen to the remnant prefigured by Jeremiah?
7 The time of Jeremiah’s living greatly determined this prefigurement and its fulfillment today. He began prophesying at a time when a most heart-rending thing was about to happen, a thing almost unbelievable. This was the destruction of the holy city of Jerusalem and the plundering and burning down of its temple dedicated to the worship of Jehovah God. Just forty years from when Jeremiah began to prophesy in witness of Jehovah, that tremendous religious shock took place; from 647 B.C., which was the thirteenth year of the reign of good King Josiah in Jerusalem, to 607 B.C., the year that the Babylonian armies under the conquering King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the temple built by Solomon the wise. Today fear is more and more being expressed for the organized religion of Christendom. What is to come of it? For an answer, people should listen to the plain preaching by the remnant prefigured by Jeremiah, for these preach to men the present-day fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecies.
8, 9. (a) How and by whom did Jeremiah become a prophet? (b) When was it timely for Jeremiah to take on God’s work, and why was he not to be afraid of the faces of older men?
8 Who made them a prophet to speak with the authority that they claim? Well, who made Jeremiah a prophet? Jeremiah was a son of a Jewish priest in the city of Anathoth to the north of Jerusalem. That fact did not automatically make him a prophet. He did not make himself a prophet. He could not have done so, especially since he was set apart to be a prophet before he was born. Still he could of his own accord agree to and submit to serving as a prophet when told of the vocation for which he was marked out. Jeremiah tells us how and by whom he became a prophet: “The word of Jehovah began to occur to me, saying: ‘Before I proceeded to form you in the belly I knew you, and before you began to come forth from the womb I sanctified you. Prophet to the nations I made you.’ But I said: ‘Alas, O Lord Jehovah! Here I actually do not know how to speak, for I am but a boy.’ And Jehovah went on to say to me: ‘Do not say, “I am but a boy.” But to all those to whom I shall send you, you should go; and everything that I shall command you, you should speak. Do not be afraid because of their faces, for “I am with you to deliver you,” is the utterance of Jehovah.’” (Jer. 1:4-8) It is evident that Jeremiah was born for a work. The question was, Would he fit himself to the work? Would he be willing to undertake it? His feeling unequal to the assignment did not decide matters.
9 Jeremiah did not resist or rebel because work was cut out for him. Showing still further how God made him a prophet, he tells us: “Jehovah proceeded to thrust his hand out and cause it to touch my mouth. Then Jehovah said to me: ‘Here I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have commissioned you this day to be over the nations and over the kingdoms, in order to uproot and to pull down and to destroy and to tear down, to build and to plant.’” (Jer. 1:9, 10) Jeremiah’s being a boy, either in years or in his own estimation, was no real obstacle. When one is young is when one should make it one’s purpose to take on God’s work. Besides, in Jeremiah’s case it was to be no short-term job. In his case it was to be a responsible work of forty years in length, and then some. For him to carry it out in its fullness, it was timely for him to begin when young, in boyhood, when he had the larger part of his life yet ahead of him. So Jehovah brushed aside Jeremiah’s fear of being too young and said: “Do not say, ‘I am but a boy.’” Since it was the rule for young persons to show respect toward the old, it would require something unusual for a boy to speak sternly to older men. But Jehovah was older than any of Israel’s elders. So he said to the “boy” Jeremiah: “Do not be afraid because of their faces, for ‘I am with you to deliver you,’ is the utterance of Jehovah.” The whole question, then, was this: Was Jeremiah willing?
10, 11. (a) The consummation of the system of things was the time for what work? (b) In 1919 what was the question of highest importance that faced all professed Christians?
10 In the year 1914 the prophecy of Jesus began fulfillment. The “consummation of the system of things” began for this world. There were hundreds of millions that claimed to be Jesus’ disciples, the vast majority of these being found in Christendom. The consummation of the system of things was the time for a great work to be done, a work that would run from the beginning of that period of consummation until the accomplished end of it. It was a work toward all the inhabited earth, toward all the nations, a work of being witnesses to all these nations concerning God’s kingdom of good news. For more than four years World War I occupied the time and attention of over thirty nations, till near the close of 1918; and the religious systems of Christendom threw themselves into the war on the sides of their respective nations. Certainly they had no time for preaching God’s kingdom of good news then. As regards Jehovah’s witnesses, the religious systems of Christendom stirred up the political, military and judicial authorities to cut down or almost stop the public preaching that Jehovah’s witnesses were trying to do concerning the meaning of world conditions and the times and events. Came the year 1919, and the work of witnessing to the nations in fulfillment of Jesus’ words was still there to do. It faced all men who claimed to follow and obey Jesus. In that opening year for postwar decisions and work the question of highest importance to Christendom and to all who called themselves Christians was, not, Should all nations get together in a peace league? but, Who will be Jehovah’s prophet to the nations, to speak to them everything that He should command? Who will be the modern Jeremiah?
11 Jeremiah prophesied forty years in the time of the end of the kingdom of Judah. So who will prophesy with his message in this time of the end of the nations of this world?
12. (a) How can we find the answer to the question? (b) What must the combined answer be on the part of all the things consulted?
12 Back there, about forty years ago, that was the question. Today we may ask, How was the question answered? There are facts to show. We should not appeal to religious pride or boasting or self-made claims. We should appeal to the facts. Let facts speak for themselves. Consult the factual record of Christendom’s religious systems, Catholic and Protestant, not to speak of Jewry. More than that, examine also what those religious systems are doing today. Then consult the record of the one religious organization that all Christendom’s religious organizations and Jewry strenuously opposed during World War I and have opposed since. Everybody knows that this opposed organization of Christians is Jehovah’s witnesses. Consult the newspaper reports or magazine articles, the police and judicial court records, yes, consult the homes of the millions of people who have been visited by these witnesses of Jehovah, apart from their own annual reports and the Yearbooks of Jehovah’s witnesses. Ask all these what the witnesses have been doing since 1919 till this very hour. The combined answer will be that they have been preaching by all the means and channels of publicity. They have specialized on preaching just one thing, and that is, God’s kingdom of good news. This they have preached, as Jesus commanded, “for the purpose of a witness to all the nations,” including the nations behind the Iron Curtain.
13, 14. (a) What fact decides the answer to the question? (b) As regards the answer why are Jehovah’s witnesses grateful today and why have they become happy?
13 The fact that decides the answer to the question is, not, Do all the clergy of Roman Catholicism and of Protestantism agree that Jehovah’s witnesses have been and are God’s prophet to the nations? but, Who discerned the divine will for Christians in this time of the world’s end and offered themselves to do it? Who have undertaken God’s foreordained work for this day of judgment of the nations? Who have answered the call to the work and have done it down till this year 1958? Whom has God actually used as his prophet?
14 By the historical facts of the case Christendom is beaten back in defeat. Jehovah’s witnesses are deeply grateful today that the plain facts show that God has been pleased to use them. All the preaching and all the Bible educational work that they have done till now in 175 countries and islands of the sea they confess has been, not by help of a military army, nor by human power, but by God’s spirit, his invisible active force. (Zech. 4:6, AV) It has been because Jehovah thrust out his hand of power and touched their lips and put his words in their mouths. It has evidently been because he commissioned them to be over the nations and over the kingdoms. Happy are all those who have seen what the work of Jehovah God for now is and who have volunteered to do it.
TWO KINDS OF DIVINE WORK
15. (a) What was it that was foreordained? (b) How, then, must Christians live up to their claims, and which “Christians” have done so?
15 Individuals have not been foreordained for God’s work, as in Jeremiah’s case. The work was the thing foreordained. Christendom may fail to do the foreordained work, but it will be done just the same. We must harmonize with the work, not decide for ourselves what God’s work should be at this time and then ask his divine blessing on what we decide. This latter course is one of lawlessness against God, no matter how loudly and insistently one claims to be a Christian. God offers the foreordained work to Christians, as these claim to have given themselves to him through Christ to do the divine will. Thus God lets Christians live up to their claims, if they want to, by accepting the work he foreordained for Christians in this day. Regardless of the names of the individuals, a remnant of consecrated, anointed witnesses of Jehovah rejoiced to be freed from their captivity during World War I and to carry out their dedication to God by taking up the foreordained work. Hundreds of thousands have since seen the opportunities of the work and have joyfully joined the anointed Jeremiah class in doing the work.
16. Despite their fewness, why is the work of Jehovah’s witnesses of world importance, and what are they, as pictured by Jeremiah, commissioned to do?
16 Jehovah’s witnesses may be comparatively few in number. They do not have any political ties or influence. Nonetheless, their work is of world importance, because it was foreordained by God. It was foreshadowed and outlined by Jeremiah’s own work, which was of world importance. Jehovah’s witnesses are absolutely neutral toward the political, ideological and military conflicts of this world, and yet they are under divine command to declare Jehovah’s message concerning the nations and kingdoms of this world. As pictured by Jeremiah, they are commissioned “to uproot and to pull down and to destroy and to tear down, to build and to plant.”
17. In what they have done during the past forty years, how have Jehovah’s witnesses fulfilled His commission to them?
17 That is the work that Jehovah’s witnesses have been doing during these past forty years. In all that work they have not meddled in politics, subverted any governments or raised a violent hand against any of the institutions or political structures of any nation of the world. How, then, have they fulfilled Jehovah’s commission to them? Our guide to the right answer is found in the answer to the question, How did our pattern, Jeremiah, fulfill his commission to do such things? He did this by declaring the judgments, the judicial decisions and the purposes of Jehovah God, which, when pronounced over Jehovah’s own name, are as good as accomplished. Thus he “calls the things that are not as though they were.” (Rom. 4:17) Not one of his judgments and purposes has gone unfulfilled.
18. By comparing himself with whom does Jehovah show that he is unchallengeable, and so what decisions can he make or reverse concerning the nations?
18 Jehovah God formed man of the dust of the ground. Quite rightly, then, Jehovah compares himself to a great Potter or Fashioner of vessels, in supreme control of the products of his hands. As such Fashioner, he is unchallengeable. It does not do a bit of good to challenge him on what he is doing or how he expresses his will. He said: “As the clay in the hand of the potter, so you are in my hand, O house of Israel. At any moment that I may speak against a nation and against a kingdom to uproot it and to pull it down and to destroy it, and that nation actually turns back from its badness against which I spoke, I will also feel sorry over the calamity that I had thought to execute upon it. But at any moment that I may speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom to build it up and to plant it, and it actually does what is bad in my eyes by not obeying my voice, I will also feel sorry over the good that I said to myself to do for its good.”—Jer. 18:5-10.
19. How and with what nations did Jehovah anciently illustrate his power as a world Potter, and so why should nations today not despise Jehovah’s Word, even through his modern witnesses?
19 Long ago Jehovah God illustrated his power as a world Potter to make and break nations. The ruins of ancient world powers and kingdoms, those of Israel and of Judah, of Babylon, of Edom, of Moab, of Ammon and of other ancient political powers stand as warning examples of how he uproots, pulls down, destroys and tears down mighty governments, great cities and powerwielding populations and their institutions. In each case he poured out his judgments upon the nation or the world power that offended against him and fought against him. He always had his chosen executioner to carry out the divine word and make it live toward the offenders and fighters against Him. “‘Is not my word correspondingly like a fire,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘and like a forge hammer that smashes the crag?’” (Jer. 23:29) Let the nations of today not despise the Word of Jehovah God, come though it may through the internationally hated body of Christians known as Jehovah’s witnesses. What they are saying and preaching to the nations is not their own word; it is taken from God’s written Word. “So, then,” says Paul, “the man that shows disregard is disregarding, not man, but God, who put his holy spirit in you.”—1 Thess. 4:8.
20, 21. (a) What significance were Jehovah’s witnesses attaching to 1914 (A.D.), and since when? (b) What was that “something new” and “something old,” and what are Jehovah’s witnesses declaring about the United Nations?
20 As early as 1877 Jehovah’s witnesses, who are associated with the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society of Pennsylvania, came out in print to the effect that 1914 was the date marked in God’s Bible for the Gentile Times, “the appointed times of the nations,” to end. This meant that something new was due to begin during 1914 and something old was to end or enter into the time of its end.
21 That something new was God’s kingdom of the heavens, prayer for the establishment of which had gone up for near onto nineteen hundred years. The something old was this world; not this earth, which sixty nations scientifically studied during their International Geophysical Year, but the bedeviled man-made system of things on the surface of this earth. Since 1914, the year to which Jehovah’s witnesses pointed long in advance, this old world has never been the same. The distress and perplexity have continued and increased upon it. In 1919 the victorious nations of World War I established an international league to hold the world together and to promote and maintain international peace. Jehovah’s witnesses identified it as something abominable in God’s sight and said that God’s Word doomed the League of Nations to go down. Down it went in 1939, not because Jehovah’s witnesses pulled it down—the Nazi leader Hitler and the Axis Powers behind him did that—but because Jehovah’s infallible Word said so. His Word through his witnesses on earth did not fail. As regards the successor of the League, the United Nations, Jehovah’s witnesses are boldly declaring his Word concerning that international peace organization, just as he has commanded. Jehovah’s Word says, Down with it! Hence it is doomed to join the League of Nations.
22. For members of the United Nations to have to listen to what Jehovah’s witnesses declare is like doing what, but what is His command to his witnesses concerning this?
22 The eighty-one members in the United Nations will not relish this pronouncement from the Word of Jehovah God. To listen to it, especially at the mouth and by the publications of the witnesses of Jehovah, may seem to them like having to drink drugged wine. Yet the Jeremiah class of today are commanded to make the nations hear this warning message from Jehovah’s inspired Word. ‘Uproot, pull down, destroy and tear down,’ said Jehovah to Jeremiah. And so we today, as long as this old world stands, must keep on preaching this bitter message and make the nations drink this warning until God himself makes them drink the real thing. Says he: “You must say to them, ‘This is what Jehovah of armies, the God of Israel, has said: “Drink and get drunk and puke and fall so that you cannot get up because of the sword that I am sending among you.”’ And it must occur that in case they refuse to take the cup out of your hand to drink, you must also say to them, ‘This is what Jehovah of armies has said: “You will drink without fail. For, look! it is upon the city upon which my name is called that I am starting off in bringing calamity, and should you yourselves in any way go free of punishment?’” ‘You will not go free of punishment, for there is a sword that I am calling against all the inhabitants of the earth,’ is the utterance of Jehovah of armies.”—Jer. 25:27-29.
23. For what claim will Jehovah hold Christendom accountable, and why will the Communist bloc and the nations outside not escape punishment by Jehovah’s executional sword?
23 Copying the unfaithful nation of Israel in Jeremiah’s day, unchristian Christendom of this twentieth century claims to be called by God’s name and to represent him. Jehovah God will hold Christendom accountable for not living up to the divine name. At the universal war of Armageddon, which draws near, Jehovah will tell his Executional Officer Jesus Christ to swing down the sword of destruction upon the hypocritical religious organization. Let not the Communist Eastern bloc of nations, neither the non-Christian nations outside, gloat because of the coming destruction of the so-called Christian Western bloc, or, more particularly, Christendom. If Jehovah considers Christendom, which pretends to bear his name and to stand for God to the world, to be punishable, do Communist Russia and its satellites, and the non-Christian nations of the world, think that they are unpunishable? Have they loved Jehovah God more than Christendom has? Have they refrained from opposing and fighting against Jehovah God and his witnesses? Have they been guiltless as to doing filthy things and sinning against Him? No; and Jehovah says that they will not go free of punishment, but his executional sword will be upon all the inhabitants of the earth. Consequently they have not gone unwarned by Jehovah’s witnesses.
24. What was Jehovah’s message through Jeremiah concerning the calamity and its effects, and of what was Nebuchadnezzar’s conquering sweep through the Middle East and into Egypt an illustration?
24 Hear this: “This is what Jehovah of armies has said, ‘Look! A calamity is going forth from nation to nation, and a great tempest itself will be roused up from the remotest parts of the earth. And those slain by Jehovah will certainly come to be in that day from one end of the earth clear to the other end of the earth. They will not be bewailed, neither will they be gathered up or be buried. As manure on the surface of the ground they will become.’” Then, addressing himself to the political rulers, backed by the religious leaders and the commercial, industrial and financial princes, he says: “Howl, you shepherds, and cry out! And wallow about, you majestic ones of the flock! For your days for slaughtering and for your acts of scattering have been fulfilled, and you must fall like a desirable vessel. And a place to flee to has perished from the shepherds, and a means of escape from the majestic ones of the flock. Listen! The outcry of the shepherds, and the howling of the majestic ones of the flock, for Jehovah is despoiling their pasturage.” (Jer. 25:32-36) What took place long ago when Nebuchadnezzar, king of the Babylonian world power, swept through the Middle East and down into Egypt is a small, human-scale illustration of what Jehovah’s mightier Executional Servant, Jesus Christ, will do when he sweeps round the entire globe from nation to nation and destroys the old worldly system of things.—Jer. 25:8-11.