Your Final Decision Being Forced Today
1. What observations are made on nationalism by Arnold Toynbee?
NATIONALISM today shows its authority too and can be very cruel to Christian worshipers of the true God Jehovah. The historian Arnold J. Toynbee, on page sixty-nine of his book Christianity Among the Religions of the World, said: “The collective power of Athens was worshipped by the Athenians in the form of the goddess Athena. . . . In the renaissance of Hellenism in the modern Western World in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, this Greek idolatrous attitude towards one’s own country, one’s own fatherland, was imported from the Ancient Greek past back into our modern Western life. Only, unlike the Greeks, we have flinched from openly admitting that we are practicing this form of idolatry; and consequently we are even more at the mercy of this idolatrous type of Nationalism than the Greeks were at the mercy of their more frankly avowed idolatrous worship of their local states.”
2, 3. (a) How were Jehovah’s witnesses in Germany treated for refusing to hell Hitler, and how is this borne out in the book entitled “My Story”? (b) How, as in the case of the three Hebrews, were these Christians offered a second chance to “bow down,” and with what results?
2 Some persons may say, ‘Well, that is not so bad.’ But are not these persons rather shortsighted? Just go back thirty years to the days of Hitler’s Germany. Remember how he demanded that everyone worship the State? Anyone who would not heil Hitler with his arm raised to the swastika was sent off to a concentration camp, there to die. He had his own fiery furnaces, his gas chambers, his starvation program. In the book entitled “My Story,” written by Gemma La Guardia Gluck, she says this, in chapter eight: “Now I shall describe briefly the Bible Students [Jehovah’s witnesses] in the camp. They belonged to a religious sect that believes in the words of the Bible as literal truth. I did not know of the existence of this sect before I came to Ravensbruck. . . . Most of the Bible Students in Ravensbruck were simple, honest wives and mothers, a very hardworking lot. In this camp they were generally employed as servants, doing the heaviest labor. They told me they had been among the first prisoners at Ravensbruck and have been used for all kinds of construction jobs when the Nazis began to build the camp. I admired these women for their strength of character. They had a stanch will and faith. They had been in prison for eight, ten, or twelve years, right from the beginning of Hitler’s regime in 1933, when members of their sect refused to answer or acknowledge the official Nazi greeting, ‘Heil Hitler.’ Bible Students insisted on the right to remain neutral in political matters and not to be forced to salute a power that had been created by man, not God. ‘Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are His’ was their credo. The authoritarian Nazi regime could not stand for such disobedience, and thousands of Bible Students were arrested and sent to the camps. At one point the Gestapo had announced that any Bible Student who renounced his beliefs and signed a statement to that effect would be given his freedom and be persecuted no longer. It is difficult to believe, but it is true, that not one of them signed such a statement. They preferred to go on suffering and patiently waiting for the day of liberation.”
3 Gemma La Guardia Gluck, the elder sister of the late Fiorello La Guardia, former mayor of New York City, wrote her story in 1961, telling what she and others lived through in the concentration camps of Hitler. She thus adds to the testimony that the Christian witnesses of Jehovah in Germany, some of whom are still living today, were offered a second chance to change their minds and bow down, just as the three Hebrew friends of Daniel were. All they had to do was sign a statement and heil Hitler and they would be free from further persecution. Like the three Hebrew men, they refused “to bow.” They obeyed God as ruler rather than men. They were not fearful of those who could kill the body but cannot kill the soul.
FEARLESSNESS TOWARD MEN
4, 5. What experience in present-day East Germany shows the fearlessness of God’s people in the face of a strong nationalistic spirit?
4 True, the days of Hitler are gone. But how about the nationalistic spirit engendered worldwide? East Germany, now under communistic influence, has its strong nationalistic spirit opposed to the right worship of Jehovah God. Recently a young schoolgirl, a witness of Jehovah, had done very well in her examinations at school in East Germany. She was assigned to write on the subject “Why Is the Worker’s Class the Only One Entitled to Lead the Nation?”
5 Believing that God’s kingdom, for which she prayed, was the one to rule all nations, she could not think of any reasons to support a nationalistic answer. So she wrote an article showing that God’s kingdom is the only hope for mankind and that Christ Jesus is its righteous Ruler, and that the laboring class through its dictators was not meant to take Jehovah God’s place in government. After her paper was read, she was immediately called before three persons who strongly disagreed with her article and ridiculed her faith in God and told her that she would have to expect a very low grade unless she did the paper over. She explained that this was what she believed and she was not going to compromise. They asked the question. She gave her honest answer from God’s Word. Before school ended, the board finally mentioned that she distinguished herself in honesty.
6. How does Revelation 14:7 help a servant of God in his worship of Jehovah?
6 It takes courage for a young Christian to stand for Bible principle. The three Hebrews also took that stand. They trained their minds from childhood by studying the truth. Setting the right example in true worship must be done before all mankind, since every nation and tribe and tongue must “fear God and give him glory, because the hour of the judgment by him has arrived, and so worship the One who made the heaven and the earth and sea and fountains of waters.” (Rev. 14:7) This is the day for decision. What will you do?
7. What modern-day example of faith is now brought to our attention?
7 Behind the Iron Curtain the disseminating of Bible truths in printed form or by word of mouth by Jehovah’s witnesses is forbidden. Over the years thousands of Jehovah’s witnesses have been imprisoned for talking about the Bible. Recently three of Jehovah’s witnesses who had received life terms in prison for preaching the good news of God’s kingdom were released by the Communists from prison after fifteen years of confinement. One of the three is seventy-four years old. He had been imprisoned for nine years under the Hitler regime and for fifteen years under Communist rule. Think of it! This man spent twenty-four years of his life, nearly a third of his lifetime, in prison because he dared to preach the Bible. He refused to heil Hitler and his Nazism or nationalism. He refused to deny his God for the Communists. Truly there are still those who say, “Your gods are not the ones we are serving”!—Dan. 3:18.
8. How did Catholic Spain treat two young servants of Jehovah God, and for what reason?
8 “On June 10, 1964, there were two young girls, Jehovah’s witnesses, who had traveled from their village to the capital city of Madrid, Spain, to do some shopping. As opportunity afforded they talked about the good news of God’s kingdom to persons that they would meet. Did not Jesus say: “Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations”? (Matt. 28:19) After having talked to quite a few people and having bought the things they needed, they started home on the bus. Police agents got on the bus and ordered them off and told them to go with them to the police headquarters. These two young girls were interrogated from eight o’clock in the evening of June 10 until eleven o’clock on the morning of June 11; fifteen hours. Is this Catholic state afraid some persons in Spain will find out what the Catholic Bible used by these girls says about God’s kingdom? The father of the girls is an overseer in a congregation of Jehovah’s witnesses in a small town outside of Madrid. So they were taught the truth and were not afraid to tell it out. What satisfaction the father must have had to see his girls fearlessly standing on God’s side even though arrested and fined; and for what reason? “Because of belonging to the sect of Jehovah’s witnesses and making trips to the capital to carry on proselyting activities for the Jehovah’s witnesses sect.”
9. Have the dictatorial, nationalistic methods of Spain stopped God’s people from worshiping him, and how is that shown?
9 The dictatorial, nationalistic country of Spain says, ‘You may not worship your God, you may not express your views about God’s Word in this country!’ But arrests and fines and a jail record will not stop genuine Christians. Their worship of Jehovah comes first. In 1950, in Spain, there were only 93 persons talking to those that had ears to hear, and today, in 1965, there are 3,502 witnesses of Jehovah still preaching, including these two young girls. Persecution has not dampened the zeal of Jehovah’s servants in Spain, has it? And persecution has not dampened it in other countries either. What are you doing to bring the message of salvation to those of mankind in your community?
10. What other example of opposition by the Spanish government is cited?
10 These experiences are not isolated cases. Much information has been published in the Watchtower and Awake! magazines about the persecution of Jehovah’s witnesses in Spain and Portugal, both strongly Catholic dictatorial countries. But to give you another incident, on April 2, 1964, police agents forced their way into a home in Spain. There they took Bibles and Bible literature and the keys of the house and arrested a twenty-seven-year-old minister of Jehovah’s witnesses. He had been arrested previously, in June 1963, and on that occasion spent thirty days in jail for “proselytism,” preaching from the Bible. While the police were making their search another young minister called at the house. He was seventeen years old, and he also was arrested. Both were thrown into prison, held twenty days and then released. Such harassment has not stopped the preaching of the good news of God’s kingdom in Spain. Young men and women and the older folks who are witnesses of Jehovah in Spain will continue preaching. While the Catholic clergy tell the people to give all to Caesar, Jehovah’s witnesses will continue to give Caesar only what is his, but God’s things to God.
11. How have the servants of Jehovah in Cuba been treated because of loyalty first to Almighty God?
11 In Cuba nationalism is sung from the house-tops through television, radio and the press. Loyalty to the nation comes first, say its rulers. So to be a Christian there takes courage. Two of Jehovah’s witnesses were going from house to house preaching God’s kingdom as taught in the Bible. For doing this they were sentenced to four months in jail. Two circuit servants, traveling ministers, spent a month in jail for preaching God’s kingdom. In another part of Cuba six congregation servants were taken to jail, some for three months, some for four months. So it goes if one freely speaks the truth about God and what he has done and will do. Jehovah’s witnesses were all told to stop what they were doing and get in line with the State’s teaching on communism. But how can a Christian do that when God’s Word says: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come”? (Matt. 24:14) Whom would you obey?
12, 13. (a) Why have some political parties in Africa persecuted Jehovah’s witnesses, and to what extent has this persecution gone? (b) What spirit do world rulers have?
12 In Africa much violence has been brought to bear against Jehovah’s witnesses because political parties are trying to force them to sign up with their nationalistic groups. If a witness of Jehovah refuses to buy a political card from a certain political group, then his house is stoned or broken up and often the occupants are brutally beaten. It takes real faith to stand for Jehovah God and his kingdom against such political violence. An overseer and several Kingdom publishers in Africa were so badly beaten that they had to go to the hospital. Their crops were burned too. In another place Jehovah’s witnesses had their houses, Kingdom Halls and grain storage places all burned to the ground. They were driven from the community and some who were caught were severely beaten by the political party. The cause for such persecution is that Jehovah’s witnesses refuse to engage in politics and worship the State. On the other hand, the false religious organizations, all of which belong to the world empire of false religion, Babylon the Great, do not hesitate for a minute to ride along with the nationalistic trend and “fall down and worship the image of gold. “
13 Rulers today do not like this information to be publicized, but really the world of mankind is no better off than it was in the days of Nebuchadnezzar, king of ancient Babylon. They have the same spirit and say: ‘If you do not bow down and worship the nationalistic image I have made and do as directed you will be thrown into the burning, fiery furnaces by the mob.’
14. Why must true Christians endure these hardships, and what wise decision should be made now?
14 These hardships true Christians endure. These few examples show what is going on in all parts of the world today, and they should be a warning to us. The Christian witness of Jehovah cannot compromise. In Communist countries they must preach underground. This means that for Jehovah’s witnesses to meet as a congregation of God they have to do it secretly. Most people say, ‘Jehovah’s witnesses are foolish to go to such extremes. They just bring trouble on themselves.’ But it is not that they want to be persecuted. It is a clear matter of whom do you worship—the State, “Caesar,” or God, Jehovah? You will have to make the decision someday if you want everlasting life under God’s kingdom. Better it is to do it now than to put it off. “Before there comes upon you the day of Jehovah’s anger, seek Jehovah, all you meek ones of the earth.” (Zeph. 2:2, 3) May your decision be to serve Him now.