Surviving with the New
1. For their preaching, with what may Jehovah’s witnesses be charged, and how did Jeremiah himself escape execution for a like charge?
FOR preaching such a message as this to the nations Jehovah’s witnesses may be charged with being subversive. Jeremiah was charged that way. The religious leaders tried to have the political princes kill him. “Then the priests and the prophets and all the people proceeded to lay hold of him, saying: ‘You will positively die. Why is it that you have prophesied in the name of Jehovah, saying, “Like that in Shiloh is how this house [this temple] will become, and this very city will be devastated so as to be without an inhabitant”?’” Then they said to the princes of Jerusalem: “To this man the judgment of death belongs, because he has prophesied concerning this city just as you have heard with your own ears.” Jeremiah defended himself, saying: “It was Jehovah that sent me to prophesy concerning this house and concerning this city all the words that you have heard. . . . And as for me, here I am in your hand. Do to me according to what is good and according to what is right in your eyes. Only you should by all means know that, if you are putting me to death, it is innocent blood that you are putting upon yourselves and upon this city and upon her inhabitants, for in truth Jehovah did send me to you to speak in your ears all these words.” At that time the princes showed courage enough to stand up against the religious leaders and false prophets and refused to put Jehovah’s witness to death. (Jer. 26:1-24) That was twenty-two years before Jerusalem was destroyed.
2, 3. (a) In spite of Egyptian aid, how did Jeremiah keep on pulling down Jerusalem? (b) Of what was Jeremiah afterward accused, and why did he come into the miry cistern and yet escape death?
2 Later, in the ninth year of King Zedekiah, the Chaldean armies under King Nebuchadnezzar came against Jerusalem. When they heard that Pharaoh of Egypt was coming up to relieve the city, they lifted the siege and withdrew. But Jeremiah uprooted and pulled down Jerusalem by predicting that that city was doomed. Said he: “‘The Chaldeans will certainly come back and fight against this city and capture it and burn it with fire.’ This is what Jehovah has said: ‘Do not deceive your souls.’” Afterward Jeremiah was accused of deserting to the Chaldeans. On his way out through one of Jerusalem’s gates he was seized by the official guard of the gate, who said: “It is to the Chaldeans that you are falling away!”
3 Jeremiah was then put in a house of detention. Even from there Jeremiah told King Zedekiah himself that the enemy Chaldeans would come back and capture king and city. (Jer. 37:1-19) When released, Jeremiah preached the same thing. He told the people to surrender to King Nebuchadnezzar if they wanted to escape destruction inside the city by sword, famine and pestilence. The political princes did not take the message to heart in faith and act on it. They misinterpreted the message and said to the king: “Let this man, please, be put to death, for that is how he is weakening the hands of the men of war who are left remaining in this city and the hands of all the people, by speaking to them according to these words. For this man is one seeking not for the peace of this people but for calamity.” Jeremiah was now arrested and lowered into a waterless cistern with a miry bottom. There Jeremiah was left to sink into the mire. However, an Ethiopian eunuch was man enough to get him out of that death hole. Jeremiah was then kept under detention in the Courtyard of the Guard until Jerusalem fell and release came to him at the hand of the Chaldeans.—Jer. 38:1-13.
4. Despite national security measures and false clergy charges, what must we keep on doing, like Jeremiah?
4 In these days, when the political governments find it advisable to take special security measures and when it is popular for certain religious clergymen to cry “Communist!” because Jehovah’s witnesses foretell the destruction of Christendom in the universal war of Armageddon, we cannot alter our message. When under any arrest and imprisonment, we must stick to the message that Jehovah has commissioned us to preach, because it is true and is certain to be fulfilled. We must remember Jeremiah and keep on warning.
5, 6. In what way will the clergy and prophets of Christendom dispute us, but what are they forgetting that Jeremiah said about the temple?
5 The religious clergy and prophets of Christendom will dispute us. They will deny that Jehovah God will destroy Christendom and will use Jesus Christ himself as one Greater than Nebuchadnezzar to destroy the realm that takes its name after Christ. Their church system, they will argue, was founded by Jesus Christ and they can trust him to preserve and not to destroy what is his own. “God’s house is this!” they say. “God’s house is this!” Talking like that, they forget what Jesus said about the temple at Jerusalem: “Look! your house is abandoned to you. . . . By no means will a stone be left here upon a stone and not be thrown down.” (Matt. 23:38; 24:2) They forget that Jeremiah said the following about the temple:
6 “Do not put your trust in fallacious words, saying, ‘The temple of Jehovah, the temple of Jehovah, the temple of Jehovah they are!’ . . . ‘Here you are putting your trust in fallacious words—it will certainly be of no benefit at all. Can there be stealing, murdering and committing adultery and swearing falsely and making sacrificial smoke to Baal and walking after other gods whom you had not known, and must you come and stand before me in this house upon which my name has been called, and must you say, “We shall certainly be delivered,” in the face of doing all these detestable things? Has this house upon which my name has been called become a mere cave of robbers in your eyes? Here I myself also have seen it,’ is the utterance of Jehovah. ‘However, go, now, to my place that was in Shiloh, where I caused my name to reside at first, and see what I did to it because of the badness of my people Israel. . . . I will do also to the house upon which my name has been called, in which you are trusting, and to the place that I gave to you and to your forefathers, just as I did to Shiloh. And I will throw you out from before my face, just as I threw out all your brothers.’”—Jer. 7:4-15; 1 Sam. 4:3-22.
7. Why, therefore, can we not alter our message just to please people?
7 That utterance from Jehovah denies what the priests and prophets of Christendom tell the people in contradiction of Jehovah’s witnesses. That is why we cannot alter the message, just to please the people and their chosen religious leaders. Changing the message will not save anyone, not even our own selves. Like Jerusalem, Christendom is doomed to extinction and with her all the rest of this worldly system of things, in the “war of the great day of God the Almighty.” His heavenly Field Marshal, Jesus Christ, will destroy unchristian Christendom, because it has hypocritically misrepresented him before all the non-Christian peoples and nations.
8. What will befall those who stick inside Christendom, and to what do we urge and educate the people to go out?
8 Those who stick inside Christendom by adhering to its religious systems will die in the universal war of Armageddon, just as those who stayed inside Jerusalem and did not go out to the besieging king of Babylon died miserably inside the city. By our message against Christendom we do not advise or encourage people to go over to ungodly communism of any type. In harmony with Jeremiah, we urge the liberty-loving, life-loving people to go out to the conquering King Jesus Christ. From the Holy Bible we educate the people to take upon themselves the yoke of the King Jesus Christ and to serve him. We tell even the political rulers to do this, just as Jeremiah strongly urged King Zedekiah to do similarly. It means their life, their eternal life.—Jer. 38:17-20; 27:12-17.
9. What does taking the yoke of the reigning King Jesus Christ mean for one, and for what does bearing it work?
9 To take the yoke of the reigning King Jesus Christ upon one, even so late as this in the world’s time of the end, means sweet refreshment to one’s soul. Hundreds of thousands of sheeplike people all around the earth have already found that out. Jesus Christ, although now in battle dress for the universal war of Armageddon, still says: “Come to me, all you who are toiling and loaded down, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke upon you and become my disciples, for I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart, and you will find refreshment for your souls. For my yoke is kindly and my load is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30) It is like a wooden yoke or yoke bar, and he helps us to bear it, rather than to press us down and crush us with it. Bearing his yoke now works for our life in the new world!
10. How do Christendom’s priests and prophets take the position of prophet Hananiah, and how will people following their advice fare?
10 The priests and prophets of Christendom take the position of the false prophet Hananiah and other religious leaders who opposed Jeremiah. They deny that Jesus Christ, now reigning in the midst of his enemies since 1914, is against Christendom and will destroy it and that it is very urgent to desert Christendom without delay and dedicate oneself to Jehovah God and truly follow in Christ’s footsteps, bearing his yoke according to the Holy Scriptures and not according to the religious creeds of Christendom. If people follow the advice of men like Hananiah and refuse to get out of Christendom and bow their neck under the yoke of the King of kings and Lord of lords, it will go very hard with them at Armageddon.
11. How did Jehovah contradict Hananiah and sentence him, and between what yokes do the people now have to choose?
11 The prophet Hananiah broke the wooden yoke bar from off Jeremiah’s neck. He said that Jeremiah’s illustration of his prophecy was false; and that just as he (Hananiah) had broken the yoke of wood, so inside of two full years Jehovah would break Nebuchadnezzar’s yoke from off the neck of all nations. Jehovah told Jeremiah to say to Hananiah that iron yoke bars were what was in store now instead of wooden ones: “A yoke of iron I will put upon the neck of all these nations, to serve Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon; and they must serve him. And even the wild beasts of the field I will give him.” Another thing: Hananiah, who had “spoken outright revolt against Jehovah,” must die. He did die that very year. (Jer. 27:1 to 28:17) What will happen to the people who today choose to follow religious leaders like Hananiah? Jesus said: “If, then, a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” (Matt. 15:14) The choice now before all people is between a symbolic wooden yoke with life for our souls in the new world and an iron yoke with death for revolt against Jehovah and his King.
BUILDING AND PLANTING
12. Why could Jeremiah well give way to the expressions in the book of Lamentations, and yet how does that book breathe of Jehovah’s righteousness?
12 Jeremiah has been called a “prophet of gloom.” “Gloom,” yes, for the wicked, who deserve it. Because the holy name of his God, Jehovah, was implicated, Jeremiah could give way to the expressions of grief contained in his book of Lamentations. Yet Lamentations is a book of great poetic beauty; it breathes of Jehovah’s righteousness. It pours out sorrow for sin against him, it wells up with hope in merciful restoration and reconstruction by him, and it draws consolation from the divine vengeance that is coming upon those who have taken part and rejoiced in working ruin upon Jehovah’s people.—Lam. 1:18, 21, 22; 3:26-41, 55-66; 4:21, 22; 5:19-21.
13. What was it that made Jeremiah sad, and yet in fulfillment of what did that come?
13 Because the enemy gloated and bragged, because they taunted and reproached God’s name, because the symbols of Jehovah’s typical religion were wrecked and overthrown, and because Jehovah’s people grew so rebellious, unfaithful and worldly as to deserve this painful experience, it made the prophet Jeremiah sad. Still it came in fulfillment of Jeremiah’s preaching, in which Jeremiah uprooted and pulled down, destroyed and tore down with descriptive language.
14. Happily, what also was Jeremiah commissioned to do, and in harmony with this what grand prophecies was he privileged to utter?
14 Happily Jeremiah was also commissioned “to build and to plant.” It was he who foretold of a miraculous restoration of Jehovah’s people, this resulting in an overflow of joy. Jeremiah was the one who said these touching words of Jehovah to his visible organization: “With a love to time indefinite I have loved you. That is why I have drawn you with loving-kindness. Yet shall I rebuild you, and you will actually be rebuilt, O virgin of Israel. You will yet deck yourself with your tambourines and actually go forth in the dance of those who are laughing. You will yet plant vineyards in the mountains of Samaria. The planters will certainly plant and begin to use them. For there exists a day when the lookouts in the mountainous region of Ephraim will actually call out, ‘Rise up, O men, and let us go up to Zion, to Jehovah our God.’” Jeremiah dispelled gloom by foretelling that the captive ones of Jehovah’s people would “return from the land of the enemy.” Jeremiah also foretold the “new covenant” that Jesus Christ was to mediate with God for his body of followers, the nation of spiritual Israel. In this covenant Jehovah said: “I will put my law into the midst of them, and in their heart I shall write it. And I will become their God, and they themselves will become my people. . . . for they will all of them know me, from the least one of them even to the greatest one of them, . . . For I shall forgive their error, and their sin I shall remember no more.”—Jer. 31:3-6, 16, 31-34.
15. (a) What did Jeremiah see happen to Jerusalem’s king and priests, and yet what did he upbuildingly say regarding the covenants with David and with the Levite priesthood? (b) So what do we now preach?
15 Jeremiah saw how the typical “throne of Jehovah” in Jerusalem was emptied of its last king, Zedekiah. He saw how Jehovah’s chief priest of the temple, Seraiah, and the second priest, Zephaniah, were killed by the Babylonian executioner. Yet Jeremiah built and planted by joyfully declaring that Jehovah’s covenants with King David and with the Levite priesthood for a “kingdom of priests,” a “holy nation” of king-priests, “a royal priesthood,” would endure: “This is what Jehovah has said, ‘If you people could break my covenant of the day and my covenant of the night, even in order for day and night not to occur in their time, likewise could my own covenant be broken with David my servant so that he should not come to have a son ruling as king upon his throne; also with the Levites, the priests, my ministers. Just as the army of the heavens cannot be counted, neither the sand of the sea be measured, so I shall multiply the seed of David my servant and the Levites who are ministering to me.’” (Jer. 33:20-22; Ex. 19:6; Num. 25:10-13; 1 Pet. 2:9) Likewise today, Jehovah’s witnesses preach for a witness to all the nations the good news that Jehovah has planted the enduring kingdom of his King-Priest like Melchizedek, Jesus Christ. With himself in that heavenly kingdom Jesus will have the full 144,000 anointed followers, who “will be priests of God and of the Christ” and who “will rule as kings with him for the thousand years.” (Rev. 20:4-6) By that kingdom mankind will procure eternal blessings.
16. How did Jeremiah do constructive work concerning the kingdom of God’s new world, and also concerning survivors into that new world?
16 “‘Look! There are days coming,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘and I will raise up to David a righteous sprout. And a king will certainly reign and act with discretion and execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel itself will reside in security. And this is his name with which he will be called, Jehovah Is Our Righteousness.’” (Jer. 23:5, 6) In his prophetic work Jeremiah did more than build up and plant the only government of hope, the everlasting kingdom of God’s new world. He also built up and planted a great crowd of sheeplike worshipers of Jehovah, getting these into that new world without their dying. Jehovah used Jeremiah to cause persons to reveal themselves as illustrations of these “other sheep.” Who were they?
DRAMATIC ACTORS PREFIGURING SURVIVORS
17. At God’s command, what did Jeremiah do to the Rechabites, and how did they respond?
17 Jerusalem was then in its time of the end. King Jehoiakim, who cut up a scroll of Jeremiah’s prophecy and pitched it into the fire, still reigned but was undergoing pressure by the king of Babylon and his armies. Cooped up in the city with Jeremiah was a tribe of Rechabites, who were not Israelites but yet worshipers of Jehovah. God told Jeremiah to bring the Rechabite men to the temple and give them wine to drink. The Rechabites absolutely would not drink it. They explained, saying: “We keep obeying the voice of Jehonadab the son of Rechab our forefather in everything that he commanded us by drinking no wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons and our daughters, and by not building houses for us to dwell in, so that no vineyard or field or seed should become ours. And we keep dwelling in tents and obeying and doing according to all that Jonadab our forefather commanded us.”—Jer. 35:1-10.
18, 19. (a) So what was Jehovah’s message to the Rechabites, and why? (b) To whom today does Jehovah’s assurance to the Rechabites give an assurance, and why?
18 If men like those Rechabites unswervingly kept the commands of their forefather, why could not and why did not the Israelites keep the commands of their heavenly Life-giver, their God Jehovah? The faithful example of the God-fearing Rechabites condemned the God-forsaking Israelites. Therefore, let Jerusalem and its wicked inhabitants go down in destruction, but let the Rechabites live on!
19 Hence Jeremiah said to them: “This is what Jehovah of armies, the God of Israel, has said, ‘For the reason that you have obeyed the commandment of Jehonadab your forefather and continue keeping all his commandments and doing according to all that he commanded you, therefore this is what Jehovah of armies, the God of Israel, has said: “There will not be cut off from Jonadab the son of Rechab a man to stand before me always.”’” (Jer. 35:12-19) Even so! The Rechabites survived the destruction that came on Jehovah’s unfaithful people by His executioner, just as their forefather Jonadab had survived the slaughter of Baal-worshiping Israelites in their idolatrous temple. Today, in association with the anointed Jeremiah class there is a great crowd of “other sheep.” These condemn Christendom by refusing to join with her in forsaking Jehovah in order to go over to materialism and selfish idolatry. God’s promise to the Rechabites assures these other sheep that they will survive Christendom’s destruction and live on into God’s new world.
20. During Jerusalem’s final siege, how was Jeremiah mistreated for keeping up his warning, and what non-Israelite came to his rescue?
20 King Jehoiakim’s son succeeded him and reigned on Jehovah’s throne for just three months. Then Jehoiakim’s brother, Zedekiah, was made king. In the ninth year of his reign Jerusalem again came under siege by the king of Babylon and his armies. For keeping on warning that Jerusalem would be burned and torn down, Jeremiah was arrested, charged with sedition and put down in a cistern, where he sank in the mire. To his rescue, in defiance of the princes, there came, not a circumcised Israelite, but a castrated Ethiopian, a eunuch named Ebed-melech. He condemned what the princes had done to Jehovah’s prophet. At King Zedekiah’s order Ebed-melech took along thirty men for safety and for assistance and got Jeremiah out of the miry death hole. After that, thanks to Ebed-melech, “Jeremiah continued to dwell in the Courtyard of the Guard.”
21. What happened to many inhabitants during Jerusalem’s siege, but what was Jeremiah commanded to tell Ebed-melech?
21 During Jerusalem’s siege mothers boiled their own children for food against starvation, many died of pestilence, and many died by the swords of the Babylonians. But what of Ebed-melech, who was in the house of King Zedekiah? Jehovah commanded Jeremiah in the Courtyard of the Guard to tell his rescuer Ebed-melech: “‘I will deliver you in that day,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘and you will not be given into the hand of the men because of whom you yourself are in fright.’ ‘For I shall without fail furnish you an escape, and by the sword you will not fall; and you will certainly come to have your soul as a spoil, because you have trusted in me,’ is the utterance of Jehovah.”—Jer. 39:15-18.
22. Who today, like Ebed-melech, have put their trust in Jehovah, and how have they proved this trust?
22 Today, near Christendom’s destruction at Armageddon, a sheeplike class like Ebed-melech have put their trust in Jeremiah’s God. They have proved this trust by being willing to risk death at the hands of Christendom’s princes in order to come to the rescue of the antitypical Jeremiah of today. “To the extent that you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me,” said the King Jesus Christ to the “other sheep” in his parable of the sheep and goats, the last part of his prophecy on the world’s end.—Matt. 25:40.
23. What will the King’s invitation to these sheep to come and inherit the kingdom prepared for them mean and, accordingly, what promise will Jehovah then remember and apply to them?
23 In this day of the judgment of the nations, Jesus Christ the King, seated on his heavenly throne for judgment work, turns to his right and says to these sheep: “Come, you who have my Father’s blessing, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the world’s foundation. . . . I was in prison and you came to me.” Since the year 1914 that heavenly kingdom is here and this green earth is its realm. These sheeplike persons of the Ebed-melech kind do not have to die and be resurrected in order to enter into the realm of that kingdom of God’s new world. They are already living in the Kingdom’s earthly realm. This is the realm they must inherit, and so they are not going to be evicted from this earthly inheritance of theirs. Christendom is cursed, but these sheep have the blessing of the King’s Father, Jehovah God. Christendom with its goats will be destroyed, for it has no place in this earthly Kingdom realm. But the King’s Father Jehovah will remember his promise to Ebed-melech at Jerusalem’s destruction. So these blessed sheeplike Christians will not fall by the Executioner’s sword at Armageddon.
24. How will it be possible for these sheep never to die off the earth, their inheritance?
24 In that battle they will certainly come to have their soul, their life, as a victor’s spoil. This guarantees that they will live through the crash of Christendom and its religious temples and will begin to enjoy their earthly inheritance in the eternal new world. By maintaining sheeplike obedience toward their Shepherd King they will never die off the earth, their inheritance. The goats “will depart into everlasting cutting-off, but the righteous ones into everlasting life,” said Jesus the Judge.—Matt. 25:31-46.
25. Because of what work do we suffer reproach, but should we be like Jeremiah when under his reproach?
25 Just as with Jeremiah, so with the anointed remnant and their companions, those righteous sheeplike ones. Heavy is the reproach that they bear because of their work of uprooting, pulling down, destroying and tearing down the old world by means of preaching the day of Jehovah’s vengeance. But should we, on that account, stop filling ourselves with Jehovah’s Word and quit preaching his hard message? We cannot, even as Jeremiah said he could not: “Take note of my bearing reproach on account of your own self. Your words were found, and I proceeded to eat them; and your word becomes to me the exultation and the rejoicing of my heart, for your name has been called upon me, O Jehovah God of armies.”—Jer. 15:10, 15, 16.
26. By whom are we opposed and obstructed even because of our constructive work, but when it comes to stopping speaking, how are we like Jeremiah?
26 Even because we do a building and planting work in favor of God’s new world, the lovers and supporters of the old world oppose us and try to force us to stop. But fired as we are with God’s Word, how can we stop speaking? To quote Jeremiah: “The word of Jehovah became for me a cause for reproach and for jeering all day long. And I said: ‘I am not going to make mention of him, and I shall speak no more in his name.’ And in my heart it proved to be like a burning fire shut up in my bones; and I got tired of holding in, and I was unable to endure it. . . . Sing to Jehovah, you people! Praise Jehovah! For he has delivered the soul of the poor one out of the hand of evildoers.”—Jer. 20:8, 9, 13.
27. While expressing the theme of our preaching, how does Jehovah strengthen us not to fear the enemies’ faces, and, true to his deliverances when ancient Jerusalem perished, what will Jehovah do?
27 Therefore, in expression of the theme of our preaching, Down with the old world! Up with the new world! The Almighty God of the new world bids us not to be afraid of the enemies’ faces: “They will be certain to fight against you, but they will not prevail against you, for ‘I am with you,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘to deliver you.’” (Jer. 1:19) True to his promise, he delivered Jeremiah and the Rechabites and Ebed-melech when Jerusalem perished. True to that prophetic picture, Jehovah of armies will deliver us the remnant and the other sheep when, at Armageddon, he fulfills what we have preached and he brings down the old world and brings up his righteous new world.