Bearers of the Fear-inspiring Name
“All the peoples of the earth will have to see that Jehovah’s name has been called upon you, and they will indeed be afraid of you.”—Deut. 28:10.
1, 2. (a) What questions arise as to whether fear of a name is justified? (b) When is fear of a name called upon a certain people justified, and to what does this fear lead?
FEAR of a name because it is called upon a people or is associated with a people! Is it a justified fear? This depends upon what the name is famed or noted for. Also, do the bearers of the name make it famous or give a favorable impression of it, making the name capture respectful attention? Do the bearers give value or take away value from the name? What weight does the name carry in itself?
2 There may be great prejudice against the name, but does the people called by the name both honor and impart honor to it? Does the owner of the name deal with this people in a way that heightens respect and creates a feeling of awe toward the name? If the people upon whom it is called uphold the dignity of the name, and if the owner of it uses this people to magnify his name and keep it above reproach, then, indeed, the fear of the name by the nations that observe this name people is justified. Such a fear by the nations leads to certain results.
3, 4. (a) Up till nineteen centuries ago who was the people bearing the fear-inspiring name? (b) Into what covenant did Moses there bring this people, and what did he say would follow if they walked in God’s way?
3 Who is this people called by a name that the nations of the world are induced to fear? It is a people upon whom is called the name of the Creator of heaven and earth, that is to say, the name of God. Is there such a people today? We know that from very ancient times up until nineteen centuries ago there was such a people on earth. Forty years after becoming a nation they were found camped on the plains of Moab, in what is now called the country of Jordan. At that time a lawgiver who is still highly respected all around the world was their visible leader. This was the prophet Moses, through whom the famous Ten Commandments were given by God to Moses’ people. These people were soon to move westward across the Jordan River into their Promised Land and occupy it with the help of their God. For their prosperity they would have to keep obeying the Ten Commandments and all the other laws of God based upon the Ten Commandments. Moses, who was about to die, delivered a number of farewell speeches in which he reminded them of their obligation to do this. So Moses brought them into a covenant in which this people bearing God’s name promised to be faithful to him in their new land.
4 In the course of the speech introducing this covenant or solemn contract with God, the prophet Moses said:
“Keep silent and listen, O Israel. This day you have become the people of Jehovah your God. And it must occur that if you will without fail listen to the voice of Jehovah your God by being careful to do all his commandments that I am commanding you today, Jehovah your God also will certainly put you high above all other nations of the earth. . . . Jehovah will establish you as a holy people to himself, just as he swore to you, because you continue to keep the commandments of Jehovah your God, and you have walked in his ways. And all the peoples of the earth will have to see that Jehovah’s name has been called upon you, and they will indeed be afraid of you.”—Deut. 27:9; 28:1-10.
5. (a) Of what did Moses warn Israel, and what do the past nineteen centuries of history make plain concerning Israel? (b) When did they have their greatest opportunity as a nation, and why?
5 That was a great opportunity and privilege set before the people of Israel thirty-four centuries ago; but there is no denying that they did not live up to it. In the same farewell speech Moses told them of the divine curses that would come upon them if they did not listen to Jehovah’s voice and obey his commandments. (Deut. 28:16-68) The history of the people of Israel for the past nineteen centuries of our Common Era makes it plain that they have been undergoing the curses of Jehovah God for their disobedience. They have not been a credit to him. They have not exalted his name, and they are no longer his name people. At the beginning of our Common Era they had their greatest opportunity as a nation, but only a small remnant of the Israelites availed themselves of it. This was when a great Teacher, Prophet and Miracle Worker greater than Moses came to them in the name of Jehovah. He came with the anointing of God’s holy spirit upon him. Hence he was called Christ, but his personal name was Jesus, which means “Jehovah Is Salvation.”
6. At passover time what action did the religious leaders and the people take toward Jesus, and what befell the nation from and after A.D. 66?
6 Several days before the Jewish passover of A.D. 33, as he rode an ass into Jerusalem, a multitude of Jews hailed him as king, as the royal heir of the famous King David of Jerusalem. But on the passover day itself the Jewish religious leaders turned Jesus over to the Roman governor of Judea, refused to own him as God’s promised King and shouted to the Roman governor: “His blood come upon us and upon our children.” (Matt. 27:24, 25) “We have no king but Caesar.” (John 19:15) That same passover day Jesus Christ was impaled outside of Jerusalem by Roman soldiers. There he died in disgrace and was buried in a nearby tomb. Thirty-three years later the Jews rebelled against their chosen king, Caesar. So in the year 70 their capital city Jerusalem and its temple of worship were destroyed, and the Jews were scattered to the ends of the earth. It is evident that they have since been suffering curses foretold by the prophet Moses.
7. What experiences did Jesus’ disciples have at the time of his arrest and for the next forty-two days?
7 The disciples of Jesus Christ had been scattered when he was betrayed and arrested. However, on the third day from his death and burial they were brought together and united again around their Master Jesus Christ. For on that day Almighty God, Jehovah, resurrected his heavenly Son from the dead. Jesus Christ, now alive from the dead, made a number of appearances to his disciples out of the invisible realm, as he had been raised to life as a spirit. So now and again during the next forty days the resurrected Jesus Christ had private meetings with these witnesses of his resurrection. Finally they saw him depart for heaven and disappear from them, but that he might appear in the presence of his heavenly Father.
8, 9. (a) For the next ten days what did the disciples do, and then what happened? (b) What did Peter say had been fulfilled?
8 For ten days they kept together in Jerusalem, waiting for the promise of God’s holy spirit to be fulfilled toward them according to the words of Jesus before he ascended to heaven. Then what the Jews call Shabúoth or the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost, came. The holy spirit did descend upon the little congregation of 120 disciples of Jesus. Miraculously they began talking with unlearned foreign languages and prophesying or openly telling about the magnificent things of God. None of the rest of the Jews at the temple in Jerusalem or throughout the country got this outpouring of holy spirit from Jehovah God at the hand of the Lord Jesus Christ. Thousands of those Jews gathered to witness this miraculous spectacle and to listen to what these disciples of Jesus Christ had to say in all these foreign languages. What had happened? Simon Peter, one of the disciples, got up first to tell them. The prophecy of Joel 2:28-32 had begun to be fulfilled. Hence Peter said:
9 “This is what was said through the prophet Joel, ‘“And in the last days,” God says, “I shall pour out some of my spirit upon every sort of flesh, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy and your young men will see visions and your old men will dream dreams; and even upon my men slaves and upon my women slaves I will pour out some of my spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. . . . And everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.”’”
10. (a) What explanation did Peter make concerning the outpouring of the spirit on Jesus’ disciples? (b) What did he exhort them to do?
10 Then Peter explained to them that Jesus Christ, who had been impaled and buried on passover day, just fifty-two days previous, had also been resurrected from the dead and exalted to God’s right hand in heaven in fulfillment of the prophecies of King David. This Lord Jesus Christ, as God’s channel, had poured out this holy spirit upon his faithful followers on earth. Thousands of conscience-stricken listeners asked what they should do. So Peter said: “Repent, and let each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the free gift of the holy spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children and to all those afar off, just as many as Jehovah our God may call to him.” In further exhorting them what to do Peter said: “Get saved from this crooked generation.”—Acts 2:16-40.
11, 12. (a) What did Peter’s expression “this crooked generation” indicate as to salvation and as to nationhood? (b) In proof of the new nation what did Peter later write to believers?
11 Under inspiration of God’s spirit through Christ the apostle Peter called that generation of Jews who had rejected Jesus Christ a “crooked generation.” To escape destruction the guilty Jews had to be “saved from” that crooked generation, to get out of it. It was no longer God’s chosen people, the people for his name, the people upon whom his name was called. The persons who were now his approved people, his men slaves and his women slaves, were those whom he had marked by the outpouring of his spirit, the dedicated, baptized followers of God’s Son, Jesus Christ the Lord. These had become God’s new nation, a spiritual nation. How? By all of them partaking of God’s one holy spirit. These believing Jews had been members of God’s former people for his name. By faith in Jesus as Christ they continued to be people for His name, but now as members of his new spiritual nation, “the Israel of God.” (Gal. 6:16) In proof of that Peter wrote them some time later and said:
12 “You are ‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for special possession, that you should declare abroad the excellencies’ of the one that called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. For you were once not a people, but are now God’s people.”—1 Pet. 2:9, 10; 1:1, 2.
13. What evidence in Scripture do we have that the outpouring of the spirit continued on and came upon non-Jews?
13 Fulfillment of Jehovah’s prophecy through Joel about pouring out his holy spirit did not stop there on that day of Pentecost. It continued on. About three and a half years later, under direction of God’s angel, Peter entered his first Gentile (non-Jewish) home, in Caesarea, about fifty miles northwest of Jerusalem, and preached to the uncircumcised Italian centurion, Cornelius, and his family and friends. These accepted the message about the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Then the holy spirit was poured out upon them and they also prophesied in foreign tongues. So they got baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. (Acts 10:1-48) From then on many uncircumcised non-Jews or Gentiles were given the message of salvation.
14, 15. (a) What did these believing, baptized non-Jews become, and as what were they recognized by the apostles and older men at Jerusalem? (b) In prophetic proof of the correctness of this, what did James say?
14 Upon believing and getting baptized in symbol of their belief, these also received the holy spirit, even though they did not get circumcised like natural Jews. They became spiritual Jews and did not need it, for their circumcision was of their hearts by the purifying power of faith. These, too, became part of God’s chosen race, his holy nation, his people for special possession, his “people for his name.” There is no disputing this point; it is the truth. About A.D. 49 a special conference of Peter and other apostles and other older Christian men at Jerusalem recognized these uncircumcised non-Jewish baptized believers as members of God’s people for his name. Listen to what James said there:
15 “Brothers, hear me. Symeon [Peter] has related thoroughly how God for the first time turned his attention to the [uncircumcised] nations to take out of them [what?] a people for his name. And with this the words of the Prophets agree, just as it is written, ‘After these things I shall return and rebuild the booth of David that is fallen down; and I shall rebuild its ruins and erect it again, [why?] in order that those who remain of the men [the believing Jewish remnant] may earnestly seek Jehovah, together with [whom?] people of all the nations, people who are called by my name, says Jehovah, who is doing these things.’”—Acts 15:13-17.
16. (a) By whose name did those believing non-Jews become called? (b) Hence what do they and the believing Jews constitute?
16 Those believing “people of all the nations” as well as the believing Jews became a people for whose name? Not for Jesus’ name, but for God’s name, the name of Jehovah. The prophecy of Amos 9:11, 12, as quoted by the disciple James, says: “‘All the nations upon whom my name has been called,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, who is doing this.” Hence this spiritual nation of Jewish and non-Jewish believers, baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, is the people upon whom the name of Jehovah is called. The unbelieving natural Jews or Israelites are not the people for Jehovah’s name and have not been such for the past nineteen centuries. Jehovah does not have two peoples, two nations. He has only one people, one spiritual nation, namely, the believing, baptized, spirit-anointed followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Eph. 2:11-22) They are Jehovah’s people, his anointed witnesses, the same as Jesus Christ was on earth.
THE NAME WRITTEN ON FOREHEADS
17. (a) How long has Joel 2:28, 29 undergone fulfillment? (b) If Jehovah has on earth today a “people for his name,” who are they?
17 However, the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy concerning the pouring out of the holy spirit and Amos’ prophecy concerning the seeking of Jehovah by people of all the nations has continued down into this twentieth century, to our own generation. All the true Christian congregation of dedicated, baptized followers of Jesus Christ, from the first of them in the apostles’ days to the last of them in these days of ours, all of them have received the outpouring or anointing of the spirit. As long as there are any members being brought into the spiritual “Israel of God,” Joel’s prophecy about the outpouring of the spirit will go on being fulfilled. The effects of this will also be seen and heard. Therefore Jehovah God has on earth today a people upon whom his name is called, a “people for his name,” anointed with his spirit. They are a mere remnant of his anointed “holy nation,” which has been in formation for the past nineteen centuries.
18. How did Jesus indicate, in Revelation 14:1 whether the Christian congregation was to have God’s name called upon it?
18 That the Christian congregation was to have God’s name called upon it, even Jesus Christ himself indicated. In the last book of the Bible Jesus repeatedly called attention to that fact. In Revelation 14:1 he pictured himself and his congregation of 144,000 anointed followers standing upon the heavenly Mount Zion. The apostle John describes the vision for us, saying: “And I saw, and, look! the Lamb standing upon the Mount Zion, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand having his name and the name of his Father written on their foreheads.” The name of Jesus’ Father is Jehovah. This name appears written, as it were, upon the foreheads of his redeemed followers to show to whom they belong, whose people they are, whose servants they are, the people for whose special possession they are, namely, Jehovah’s. Jesus Christ said that his Father had given him these 144,000, and so they have, in addition, Christ’s name written on their foreheads, the symbolic place for identification marks.—John 17:9-12.
19. According to Revelation 3:12, whose name were they to have written upon them?
19 In Revelation 3:12 the glorified Jesus Christ says: “The one that conquers—I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will by no means go out from it any more, and I will write upon him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem which descends out of heaven from my God, and that new name of mine.” Accordingly, the faithful overcoming followers become part of the spiritual temple of God of which Jesus Christ is the foundation cornerstone. They have the name of Jesus’ God written upon them, which is Jehovah. By name they are also shown to belong to the New Jerusalem, which is in heaven, and also to Jesus Christ in his new relationship with his God and Father.—Eph. 2:20-22.
20. What is said regarding them in Revelation 22:3-5, and thus how are they identified as forever God’s?
20 In the very last chapter of the Bible, in Revelation 22:1-5, the apostle John first describes the river of the water of life and the fruit trees lining the river banks, and then says: “And no more will there be any curse. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his slaves will render him sacred service; and they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. Also, night will be no more, and they have no need of lamplight nor do they have sunlight, because Jehovah God will shed light upon them, and they will rule as kings forever and ever.” Upon these faithful heirs of the kingdom of God there rests no curse from God such as rests upon the unfaithful or imitation Christians. As dedicated slaves of Jehovah God they unswervingly render sacred service to him and remain a “people for his name.” For this reason they see his face of approval, and his holy name appears on their foreheads to identify them as forever His.
21. What fact, then, do we have to admit as to the true Christians, regarding how they are called?
21 If we are honest we will admit this fact: It is a right and proper thing for the true Christians, the true followers of Jesus Christ, to be called by Jehovah’s name. They are a people taken out, not for Christ’s name, but for the name of his God and Father, Jehovah. Any so-called Christians throughout the realms of Christendom who refuse to have the name of Jehovah called upon them and who refuse to be a “people for his name” are really not Christians.
22. (a) How was Jesus himself part of God’s “people for his name”? (b) In this regard how do so-called Christians show themselves to be counterfeits?
22 Even Jesus Christ the Leader of true Christianity was one of the “people for his name” by being born as a natural Jew and being circumcised. He had God’s name combined in his own personal name, as “Jesus” is an abbreviated name meaning “Jehovah Is Salvation.” Hence the hundreds of millions of so-called Christians in Christendom who refuse to have Jehovah’s name written, as it were, upon their foreheads prove by this that they are counterfeits, sham Christians. They have never been taken out from the nations of this world and were never separated from this world to be what the disciple James said, “a people for his name.”
CONFESSING THE NAME
23. (a) Before embracing the name “Jehovah’s witnesses,” what did the remnant have to do? (b) What did they see that it was time for God to do, and so what confession did they make?
23 It was back in 1931 that a faithful remnant of dedicated, baptized Christians who did not belong to the sects of Christendom embraced the name “Jehovah’s witnesses” to identify themselves. In doing this they were not out of line with the Scriptures nor with Christian truth. But before being worthy to take to themselves such an honorable designation they had to prove that they were really public witnesses of Jehovah in imitation of Jesus Christ. Did they do this? Yes, in co-operation with the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society, particularly since 1926. That year the official magazine of this Society, namely, The Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence, published in its issue of January 1, 1926, the challenging chief article entitled “Who Will Honor Jehovah?” They then appreciated that it was the time for Jehovah to make a name for himself as he had done in the days of the ancient prophets. So they determined to honor the name of Jehovah as never before and to make it known. They openly confessed, as if they had his name written on their foreheads, that they belonged to Jehovah in full dedication through Christ and that they were therefore His witnesses.
24. What particular scripture did God call to their attention?
24 Under these circumstances and by his holy spirit upon them God called their attention to his own prophecy in Isaiah 43:10-12, which reads: “‘You are my witnesses,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘even my servant whom I have chosen, in order that you may know and have faith in me, and that you may understand that I am the same One. Before me there was no God formed, and after me there continued to be none. I—I am Jehovah, and besides me there is no savior.’ ‘I myself have told forth and have saved and have caused it to be heard, when there was among you no strange god. So you are my witnesses,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘and I am God.’”
25. When did they embrace the name, and what did they thus acknowledge to God?
25 Accordingly, in 1931, after years of service in that capacity, this remnant of dedicated, baptized, anointed Christians declared their responsibility before the whole world by embracing the name provided in the Scriptures, that is, Jehovah’s witnesses. They acknowledged to God that he was saying to them by the afore-quoted prophecy: “You are my witnesses,” “my servant.”
26, 27. (a) Were the believers always called Christians, and how often does this designation appear in the Bible? (b) How did the designation once distinguish them, but what has happened to the name since?
26 In this way they distinguished themselves from all the religious sectarians in Christendom who call themselves Christians. Let us take note that the name “Christian” is not a distinctive name today as it was nineteen centuries ago. Back there, according to Acts 11:26, “it was first in Antioch [in Syria] that the disciples were by divine providence called Christians.” That occurred about the year 50. So that from A.D. 33 to 50, or for seventeen years, the disciples of Jesus Christ had not been called Christians or Messianists. Besides this fact, the word “Christian” occurs only three times in the entire Bible.—Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Pet. 4:16.
27 Why were they called Christians (Greek) or Messianists (Hebrew)? In order to distinguish them from the natural Jews or Israelites who had rejected the Lord Jesus as the Messiah or Christ. And yet Rome confused Christians with Jews, because the Christians also used the Jewish Bible and their Leader Jesus Christ was a native-born Jew, Israelite or Hebrew. So away back there the name Christian did serve somewhat to distinguish the true followers of Christ. But today, nineteen centuries later, there are hundreds of millions of religious people who have taken the name Christian. But they have made the name Christian stink among the heathen or pagans, including the atheists found inside the realm of Christendom.
28. How did Peter say Christians were not to suffer but what about the people of Christendom today?
28 Nineteen centuries ago, when Christianity was in its innocent state, the apostle Peter could write to Christ’s followers: “Let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a busybody in other people’s matters. But if he suffers as a Christian, let him not feel shame, but let him keep on glorifying God in this name.” (1 Pet. 4:15, 16) But today the jails and prisons of Christendom are loaded with professed Christians who are guilty of the very things Peter said not to be guilty of, as murderers, as thieves, as evildoers and as busybodies in other people’s matters.
29. What kind of record has Christendom made in history, and with what effect upon the name Christian?
29 The record that Christendom has made in history since the days of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great is disgraceful for both Protestants and Catholics. Hence the mere name Christian has bad associations today among the informed pagans. Christians are known as those who dropped two atomic bombs on the unchristian cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, for diplomatic, political reasons, thus killing 156,000 Japanese civilians in a matter of seconds.
30. What question arises as to nations calling themselves Christian, and what did a newspaper columnist say recently under “What’s in a Name”?
30 Christendom is made up of nations that are supposed to be Christian. But according to the Holy Bible, has any political nation of this world the Scriptural right to call itself Christian? In the Victoria Times of Canada under date of January 11, 1960, newspaper columnist B. A. Tobin said under “What’s in a Name?” this:
. . . our religions, our reason for being on the earth at all—the labels which we have always conveniently pasted on these things are being looked at pretty critically to see if they describe the contents accurately. Some uncomfortable thoughts are being produced as a result.
People are asking, for instance, if we should call a country a “Christian country” if only a small fraction of its inhabitants really believe the doctrines of that religion.
H. L. Mencken [an American author, critic and editor of the magazine American Mercury] once wrote that “Christendom is that part of the world in which, if a man stand up and say he is a Christian, all his auditors will laugh.”
That was thirty years ago. Today, they aren’t even interested enough to laugh.
31. What factors joined in inducing the remnant to embrace the name, and even where is the name now found in print?
31 Standing before the judgment seat of Jehovah God, Christendom can be condemned for having brought the greatest reproach upon the name of his Son Jesus Christ. This fact in itself is enough to make true, dedicated Christians want to differentiate themselves from the nominal Christians. How? By the name of Christ’s Father. So they confess before Christendom and all the world that His name Jehovah is called upon them and that they, as Jesus Christ himself was, are Jehovah’s witnesses. Prior to embracing that Scriptural name in 1931 Jehovah’s modern witnesses were called all sorts of reproachful, contemptuous names by their religious enemies in Christendom, Protestant and Catholic. This was a strong factor in inducing them to take a Bible designation of which they did not need to be ashamed and by which they could be distinguished from sham Christians. So the name is now in dictionaries and encyclopedias!