Are You Irritated by the Message of Jehovah’s Witnesses?
IN THESE times of stress and rising tensions there are a good many things that irritate. The news you get from newspapers and radio is unsettling and, added to your many problems of daily life, sometimes makes you “on edge.” Then, perhaps, when one of Jehovah’s witnesses knocks on your door and takes a little time to give you a personal message telling you that God is angry with the world and that you may be personally affected by it, you may be annoyed. You may wonder where he gets the temerity to say such a thing to you, as if he could tell you, who are equally intelligent, something about guiding your life.
Now, you read the newspapers about the many injustices in this world, the rising crime rate, the danger of being out on the streets after dusk, the threat of nuclear war, the moral breakdown and corruption in high government circles and all the other disturbing things, but you do not become angry at the newspaper for reporting these facts to you. The news is not something of the news channel’s making. You are appreciative that the newspaper keeps you informed. It may enable you to act wisely to avoid trouble. But as to some of the things that take place in the news, you may be alarmed and indignant; then, again, you are glad when you read of instances where right wins out and where justice triumphs.
Why, then, take a different view of the news brought by Jehovah’s witnesses? They are really only reporting to you news that they have heard. It is true that the message they bring is different from that reported by the newspaper, but nonetheless it is news. It is good that it is different, for it is news from the highest source. It is information that explains the news that we read in the papers every day. It gives the meaning of it, the causes, as well as counsel from a higher source that shows you what to do. It dwells much more on good things and prospects than on the bad news you generally hear. Jehovah’s witnesses, therefore, are really only reporting news that they themselves have proved is from a true source, is the truth and is a safe guide. They call on you in love, feeling that you are a person who wants to see good things in harmony with the good news they bring and one who wants to see justice done in connection with the things you would like to correct but cannot. As to their saying that God is angry at the world, it may naturally be a little irritating to hear, but if he is truly angry it would be good to know why they make such a statement and why God is angry. Would you be fair enough to look into only four verses of the Bible to see? Then have a brief glance with us at a field of information that no source other than the Bible can give.
A GLIMPSE OF A HEAVENLY SCENE
The apostle John is the original reporter of the news we will consider, as it was first given to him and he was told that it applied in the last days. He was shown that God would not forever be angry with the world but would get his anger expressed and over with and bring it to a finish. (Rev. 15:1) The glimpse that we want to take consists of the four verses of Revelation 15:5-8, and it helps us get the answers to the above questions:
“And after these things I saw, and the sanctuary of the tent of the witness was opened in heaven, and the seven angels with the seven plagues emerged from the sanctuary, clothed with clean, bright linen and girded about their breasts with golden girdles. And one of the four living creatures gave the seven angels seven golden bowls that were full of the anger of God, who lives forever and ever. And the sanctuary became filled with smoke because of the glory of God and because of his power, and no one was able to enter into the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.”
It is important to get this glimpse into the heavenly realm, for heaven is a realm more powerful than the earth, and we can profit much from a view of what God and the holy angels think and are doing about things on the earth. Let us, then, analyze what is said here very carefully and see what news God has for us. Let us also see whether we may be involved or not and whether there is anything we can do about it or not.
John looked into the sanctuary of the tent of the witness opened up in heaven. A sanctuary is a holy place; it is a place where God dwells actually or representatively by spirit. In the days of Israel the tent of worship or tabernacle in the wilderness was called a sanctuary. It had a compartment called the Most Holy, in which was the sacred ark of the covenant representing the presence of Jehovah himself. The high priest used to go into the Most Holy, as if into heaven itself, to sprinkle the blood of animals before the ark in the Most Holy on the Day of Atonement. What this meant was fulfilled after Jesus Christ’s resurrection when he as the real, permanent High Priest for all mankind appeared before God in heaven to present the value of his human sacrifice.
We now see seven angels admitted into this sanctuary, into the temple of God’s presence. As they emerge it is observed that they are clothed with clean, white linen. Linen symbolizes cleanness and righteousness. (Rev. 19:8) This is in keeping with the fact that they are granted admittance into the presence of God, who is holy and clean in the superlative degree. (Isa. 6:1-4; Rev. 1:12-17) The angels are girded about their breasts with girdles. Wearing girdles marks them as servants of God. The Scriptures use that symbolism. Jesus spoke of rendering a service to his followers at his return, and said that then he would gird himself. (Luke 12:37) Jesus girded himself with a towel, acting as servant to his apostles when he washed their feet. (John 13:4, 5) The high priest as well as the underpriests and Levites who served God in the tent of meeting in Israel wore sashes or girdles.—Lev. 8:7, 13; 1 Sam. 2:18.
The girdles seen on these seven angelic servants are of gold. Gold was used in Israel’s tent of meeting to represent heavenly, divine things. (Ex. 25:10, 11, 17, 23, 24, 29, 31) So the angels represented by the “seven angels” are charged with a most precious, divine service. Consequently, the service these angels render is bound to be clean, righteous, in harmony with God’s will. We can be sure they will get the plagues completely poured out according to the divine will.
PLAGUES IN FULL HARMONY WITH JUSTICE
If you are interested in seeing wrong matters set straight you will enjoy the action that now takes place: “One of the four living creatures gave the seven angels seven golden bowls that were full of the anger of God, who lives forever and ever.” Of what are the four living creatures symbolic? and which one gave the angels the bowls? Revelation 4:6, 7 describes the four living creatures as being in the midst of the throne and around the throne of God. These symbolize an organization of God’s creatures having the four prominent qualities or attributes that are found first in the Creator himself and that he put in creatures whom he made in his image and likeness. The Bible describes four principal qualities or attributes of God—justice, power, love and wisdom. These are live or living qualities embodied in God himself in perfect balance and harmony. They are likewise embodied in all his godlike creatures.
The understanding of what these living creatures represent is found in the Bible itself. The four creatures are respectively (1) like a lion, (2) like a young bull, (3) possessed with a face like a man and (4) like an eagle. The lion symbolizes justice. (1 Ki. 10:18-20; 2 Chron. 9:17-19) The young bull is used as a picture of strength or power. (Prov. 14:4) Man was made in God’s image, and of man’s Maker the Bible says: “God is love.” (1 John 4:16) So the one with the face like a man would represent the attribute of love. The eagle represents or symbolizes heavenly wisdom.—Job 39:27-29.
The service the angels are to perform has to do with pouring out the anger of God in vindication of him and to prove his righteousness. It follows, therefore, that it is the first living creature who hands the bowls to the angels. The pouring out of the plagues is done by the angels at the command of Jehovah’s Crowned King, “the Lion that is of the tribe of Judah,” the Root of David. (Rev. 5:5) It is good to know that the anger of God thus expressed will be under the control of perfect justice. We can be confident that none of the plagues works any injustice whatsoever.
GOD PERSONALLY CONCERNED WITH THE MESSAGE
A compelling reason for you to hear the news of this angelic activity is emphasized by the awesome thing that next occurs: “The sanctuary became filled with smoke because of the glory of God and because of his power.” The smoke betokens God’s presence in the sanctuary. It is like the glorious event that took place at the inauguration of the temple built by Solomon. So overwhelming is the demonstration of God’s glory that “no one was able to enter into the sanctuary.” This too is similar to the inauguration of Solomon’s temple, for when the cloud filled the house of Jehovah, “the priests were not able to stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of Jehovah filled the house of the true God.” (2 Chron. 5:13, 14) This assures us that Jehovah is there in his judicial presence in power and glory at his heavenly temple backing up the pouring out of his anger upon the world.
How concerned is the Creator with the matter? “No one was able to enter into the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.” This indicates that Jehovah is determined to remain in his sanctuary to see to it personally that the seven last plagues are poured out in completion. Report has to be made to him at the sanctuary that all the bowls have been obediently poured out. Then should you, one of God’s creatures, not give most earnest attention to learn what is reported?
Pouring out each one of the seven golden bowls filled with the anger of God symbolizes a revealing of information from God, a judicial decision rendered by him regarding men who are on judgment before him and who are awaiting the execution of his judgment. As we look later into the sixteenth chapter of Revelation we will see that the bowls are now being emptied out. We will see that it is really the angels who are pouring out the bowls and who are revealing the situation and enforcing the judgments expressed in connection with the plagues. True, there are human agents used in connection with the plagues, that is, in telling the people what the plagues mean—only that. But they have nothing to do with bringing about the conditions described, in executing God’s anger upon those who are affected.
If you really hear the news God is having proclaimed about the plagues and see what each plague means you will readily understand why there is such anger on the part of God. When you see what the plagues accomplish you will know that it is for the good of those who really want to see justice done on the earth. It is true that they plague wicked men under the control of Satan who themselves have brought many plaguing things and distresses on this earth, and the situation is growing worse. If a person is irritated at hearing the news about the plagues that God tells us about in his Word, then he should examine himself to see whether he is in harmony with the things against which God has anger or not. It may be that he is wrong in his viewpoint. It may be he loves this world and its wicked ways. But we do not want to be found disagreeing with God our Creator in opinion, do we? If the state of affairs among men calls for a show of God’s anger, there is something radically wrong; and if God is plaguing human society, then there is something wrong with this system of things and its practices.
AVOID BEING HURT BY THE PLAGUES
God has given men ample opportunity to try to remedy the world situation, but they have failed. They have made it worse. Now he is expressing his attitude, bringing his anger to a finish so he can bring justice to those of mankind who really want to see the right things done. Jehovah’s witnesses are glad to know this, to have this news, and as reporters of the news they must go to the people to help them know God’s attitude and enable them to take the position that will protect them from the plagues. That is the very reason why God is having the work done. It is part of the declaration of this good news of the Kingdom in all the inhabited earth for the purpose of a witness, which includes the declaration of the day of vengeance of our God and the comforting of those who are mourning because of the detestable things they see going on in the earth. If Jehovah’s witnesses did not do it, then the very stones would cry out, according to God’s Word. (Luke 19:40) If it is that important, certainly rather than being irritated we should hear. Then we can make a decision as to what we think our position should be. It is no light matter.
Jehovah’s witnesses are very serious about their commission and that is why they do the work even though some become irritated at it. They are not trying to irritate anyone but they do not soften down what God says, for it would be an unclear news report, censored or “slanted,” as is the case with many reports we get through the secular news agencies and would be wrong and misleading. Jehovah’s witnesses know the importance of God’s warning and they want people to hear the truth. There is no need for anyone to let himself be hurt by the plagues. He can act on God’s warning. Jehovah’s witnesses are ready to help honest persons who want true, reliable news. Their preaching is not out of malice or faultfinding nor to get notoriety, but they love their neighbors. Hence, their diligence in calling personally on you.