Image Worship Brings Incurable Disease
WHICH is more important, your physical or your spiritual health? Many have gone to the shrine at Lourdes to get rid of their physical diseases, and in thousands of places prayers for healing are offered up to the image of Mary. Pagans also pray to their images for physical cures. When they do this, what are they doing to themselves spiritually? God’s command to Christians is: “Little children, guard yourselves from idols.” (1 John 5:21) The nation of Israel suffered terrible spiritual sickness by turning away from the commandments of God and violating his command not to make an image of anything in heaven or that is in the earth. But they used images in worship. (Isa. 1:4-6; Ezek. 8:3, 10; 1 Ki. 12:28-30) This eventually resulted in terrible physical diseases upon the nation, as God had forewarned.—Deut. 28:15, 27, 58-61; Ezek. 6:5.
It would follow that worship of an image today would bring spiritual sickness that would eventually result in literal death. One should not think that it makes no difference as to what one’s spiritual health is, for it is really spiritual sickness that has resulted in the woes and distresses that are on humankind today. God looks upon one as to what he is spiritually. He may be a physically healthy person but a spiritual skeleton. On the other hand, he may be very weak and sickly physically but healthy in a spiritual way. If God looks upon you as spiritually healthy, you are on the way to living forever. If you are in a spiritually diseased condition and remain that way, you are in real danger of lasting death.
A TIME OF EXAMINATION
The reason these things are stated here is that everyone is in peril—peril from an incurable disease because of being drawn into image worship, which he may not even realize that he is committing. In previous articles this magazine has pointed out that God is angry with this world and that he is expressing his anger in the form of the plagues described in Revelation, chapter 16. These plagues are symbolic and point out the various world conditions as viewed from God’s judicial standpoint and portend what is to result to the world from his judicial opinion as to the peoples of the world. Ours is a time when the situation described at Psalm 11:4-7 exists: “Jehovah is in his holy temple. Jehovah—in the heavens is his throne. His own eyes behold, his own beaming eyes examine the sons of men. Jehovah himself examines the righteous one as well as the wicked one, and anyone loving violence His soul certainly hates. He will rain down upon the wicked ones traps, fire and sulphur and a scorching wind, as the portion of their cup. For Jehovah is righteous; he does love righteous acts. The upright are the ones that will behold his face.” By carrying out such a procedure, which includes the seven plagues of Revelation, Jehovah makes it evident to men that he is in his holy temple.
As John watches the scene against the temple as a background, he hears a voice. John says: “And I heard a loud voice out of the sanctuary say to the seven angels: ‘Go and pour out the seven bowls of the anger of God into the earth.’” (Rev. 16:1) The last verse 8 of Revelation, chapter 15, shows that Jehovah God is in his temple sanctuary in the heavens, with no one else able to enter it for the time being. Jehovah’s being in his temple would mark the time for these plagues to be poured out, for it is the time that he judges and tests his people and executes judgment against those falsely and hypocritically claiming to serve him, according to the prophecy at Malachi 3:1-5. It would be after Babylon the Great suffered a fall, which God caused to take place in 1919 for “the vengeance for his temple.” (Jer. 50:28; 51:11) Great Babylon, the world empire of false religion, would have to be exposed as false and lose the power to hold her unwilling captives. Then those desiring to escape the plagues could do so, for Babylon herself will suffer destructive plagues to her complete annihilation.
FIRST BOWL POURED OUT INTO “EARTH”
The first angel carries out his divinely given service: “And the first one went off and poured out his bowl into the earth. And a hurtful and malignant ulcer came to be upon the men that had the mark of the wild beast and that were worshiping its image.” (Rev. 16:2) So the bowl is poured out toward the earth in which image-worshiping men live.
By “the earth,” our planet is not meant, but, rather, the people who live upon it. (Gen. 11:1; Rev. 13:3) More specifically, just as on the third creative day the earth, dry land, appeared, projecting out of the surging waters upon the face of the earth, so the term is used here to describe the more stable part of human society as contrasted with the restless, turbulent elements of the human race. The plague affects men who have the mark of the wild beast and who worship its image. The wild beast with the name-number 666 represents Satan’s visible political organization that rules this world.* But what is its image?—Rev. 13:1-18.
The image of the beast at first was the League of Nations, now called the United Nations, for this arrangement was established to perpetuate the visible, political organization and its control over the earth. It is made up of the governments of the earth, now being composed of 117 member nations, and is spoken of as an eighth world power in the Bible. (Rev. 17:11) So it is not a government in its own right but merely an image of the visible political organization, reflecting the features of the seven world powers that have preceded it. The League of Nations was proposed during the time of World War I, but was especially debated and advocated during 1919. In January of that year the Federal Council of Churches of Christ of America officially offered its support in writing to setting up the League of Nations and called it “the political expression of the Kingdom of God on earth.” The League really went into effect when the Versailles (Paris) Peace Treaty went into effect on January 10, 1920. The League went out of active life in 1939 when the nations were embroiled in World War II, but has since come up with a new name, the United Nations.
THE IMAGE WORSHIPERS
So the more stable governments of the earth have really advocated and supported the League. It is significant that Revelation 13:11 says that the beast with two horns like a lamb ascended out of the earth. The seventh world power is a dual one, the Anglo-American World Power, well represented by a two-horned beast. Britain, America’s joint partner in the Anglo-American World Power, was the foremost member of the League. It is true that the United States Senate voted against America’s joining the League of Nations. Nevertheless, the United States supported the image of the wild beast through its partnership with Britain and also because its then president was a strong advocate of the League. Since that time the United States has become a leading member as well as the home of the United Nations. Throughout this period of time since 1919 the United States has also given much talk to the self-determination of peoples, and to the reconstitution of nations that have been swallowed up by aggressive empires, such as Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Thus national aspirations have been stirred up among subject peoples. The United States promotes the ideologies of the League of Nations.
A hurtful and malignant ulcer such as cancer or leprosy, when it gets a good hold, is incurable by man. How is it that the men implicated in these political maneuvers in connection with the wild beast or in worshiping its image, or both, are so reprehensible as to deserve (symbolically) an incurable disease? Of course, if these political men are guilty of image worship, even more so are the clergy of Christendom, Jewry and pagandom who have supported the League and the United Nations and whose religious flocks have taken part in World Wars I and II.
The political rulers wanted to perpetuate human sovereignty instead of acknowledging God’s sovereignty. They listened to their associates the clergy. The clergy, especially of Christendom, claimed to believe the Bible and to represent it and to be for God’s kingdom but they completely repudiated it and went against Bible principles. They condoned and approved the political intrigue of the rulers even though some of them knew that the Biblical “Gentile Times” were at their end. Even though they knew that it was time for change in the administration of world affairs, they still stuck to man-rule for this world. Accordingly, the world rulers refused to recognize the end of the Gentile Times in 1914 and refused to yield their sovereignty on earth over to God’s established heavenly kingdom. They continue in this course of action, while the clergy of Christendom get farther and farther away from the Bible during the very time that the worldwide proclamation of the established Kingdom is being prominently heralded by Jehovah’s witnesses. All these, both clergymen and politicians, know of the political corruption and intrigue that is taking place. Yet they choose selfishly to keep the people looking to their governments rather than acknowledge God’s sovereignty and turn the people in that direction. God has given them opportunity to acknowledge him but they have refused, and he now uses stronger measures toward them.
IMAGE WORSHIPERS WARNED
That God has not acted unjustly toward these men but has given them notice and warning is shown by the following facts: At Cedar Point, Ohio, on September 7, 1919, the president of the Watch Tower Society in his public address said:
“The Lord’s displeasure is certain to be visited upon the League, however, because the clergy—Catholic and Protestant—claiming to be God’s representatives, have abandoned his plan and endorsed the League of Nations, hailing it as a political expression of Christ’s kingdom on earth.”—The Watch Tower as of October 1, 1919, pages 292b, 298a.
Then The Watch Tower, on pages 10-15 of its issue of January 1, 1921, contained an explanation of the beasts and the image of the wild beast as foretold in Revelation, chapter thirteen. Whereas heretofore the beasts and the image had been understood to be religious, ecclesiastical systems, they were now seen to picture political organizations, and the League of Nations was identified as being the foretold “image of the wild beast.” To climax the warning, on September 8, 1922, during the second Cedar Point convention of Jehovah’s people, the president of the Watch Tower Society spoke on the text “The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17, AV), and also dealt with Isaiah, chapter six. This speech recounted how King Uzziah of Jerusalem overstepped the authority God had given him and illegally tried to usurp and assume the position of priest by offering up incense inside the temple to Jehovah. For this he was smitten with incurable leprosy and remained in this condition until the time of his death in 774 B.C.E. In this talk the Society’s president, J. F. Rutherford, called attention to Uzziah’s becoming a leper and pointed out that Uzziah was a prototype of Christendom. Then, referring to Christendom’s endorsement of the League of Nations instead of God’s kingdom, he said:
“Thus they denied the coming of the Lord and his kingdom to bless mankind, and openly allied themselves with the devil’s scheme, and then blasphemously attempted to offer this before the Lord. Like their prototype Uzziah, the leprosy immediately appeared upon the nominal systems [of Christendom]. Thus we are enabled to locate the time of the fulfillment of Isaiah’s vision.”—The Watch Tower, as of November 1, 1922, page 335.
In this speech Rutherford also called attention to Isaiah 43:8-12, to show that true Christians are Jehovah’s witnesses. On Sunday, September 12, he addressed the convention on the subject, “Millions Now Living Will Never Die.” Afterward a resolution entitled “A Challenge to World Leaders” was adopted by those there assembled. It called upon all peoples to recognize and accept God’s kingdom and it exposed the unfaithfulness of Christendom in endorsing a substitute, the League of Nations. So Jehovah’s servants now knew they must certainly be witnesses and must carry this message to the people. They felt impelled to do so.
RESULTS OF FIRST PLAGUE
By directing the understanding on the part of Jehovah’s dedicated people as to their commission to declare the Kingdom to the widest possible extent and by directing the proclamations made by them, the first of the seven angels in heaven made it evident that he was pouring out the first bowl into the earth. (It is interesting to note, however, that the earthly Kingdom proclaimers did not at that time understand that they were having a share in fulfilling Revelation’s prophecy of the plagues.) God has given the world leaders warning, which they have ignored, and now is expressing his anger toward them; the bowls have to be poured out. The first plague reveals his viewpoint of them as spiritually afflicted with a hurtful and malignant ulcer that is incurable. In God’s sight they are lepers.
When the message is proclaimed world wide revealing God’s anger rather than his blessing upon their political efforts, it pains these leaders and makes them suffer. The clergymen, especially those of Christendom, have cried out and howled because of the proclamation and have tried up to this very moment to stop it. In many instances they have induced the rulers to act. So the plague hurts them symbolically just as much as the plague hurt King Uzziah physically. It also has literal effects on their position of control; the angel sees to it that God’s anger is enforced with effects. (Ex. 9:9-11; Lev. 13:18-27, LXX) The results of this plague upon the earth, that is, upon the more stable, political elements, are that they are being hurt and are continuing to be hurt to this day when colonial empires like the British, the Dutch, the French and the Portuguese Empires are being broken up and the spirit of nationalism and of state worship sweeps the earth and the United Nations membership grows to 117 nations.
The first plague of Revelation continues to increase in intensity, and more and more of Jehovah’s witnesses spread this information exposing the ulcerous situation of world leaders to the peoples of earth. In 1958 a resolution was adopted at twenty-four assemblies of Jehovah’s witnesses around the world by a grand total of 454,977 conventioners. Afterward the resolution was printed in the Watchtower magazine, which at that time enjoyed a circulation of 4,200,000. By this and much wider proclamation since then the spiritually unclean, leprous condition of the symbolic “earth” is being exposed to sincere truth-seeking persons.
Of course, an incurable malignant ulcer finally results in one’s death. If one happens to be among the men stricken with malignant ulcers, the only way he can get a cure is by individually turning to God and to his kingdom and receiving God’s spiritual healing benefits. As for the people in general, they too can individually avoid becoming contaminated with this ulcerous condition by turning their attention to God’s Word, by looking to and supporting his kingdom and proclaiming it to others. God will view such persons as spiritually healthy and they may be among the many now living who will never die, entering into God’s righteous new order after his kingdom has done away with all those who, from God’s viewpoint, are spiritually ulcerous and leprous. The image of the beast will be gone, and physical health will then accompany spiritual health for all obedient mankind.
The next six plagues of Revelation, chapter 16, will be considered in succeeding issues of The Watchtower. Also, see “Babylon the Great Has Fallen!” God’s Kingdom Rules!, 702 pages, published by Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Brooklyn, New York.
See the book “Babylon the Great Has Fallen!” God’s Kingdom Rules! published by Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, Brooklyn, N.Y., pages 506-511; also The Watchtower, June 1, 1966.
[Pictures on page 499]
League of Nations