Is the World Bloodguilty Before God?
THERE are three ways of becoming bloodguilty before God. One of them is by committing murder, bloodshed. (Gen. 9:5, 6) Another is by drinking or eating blood, or by improper use of it. (Gen. 9:4; Acts 15:20, 29) The third way is by failing or refusing to warn those who we know are in danger of losing their lives through taking a course of action against God and his Word.—Acts 20:26, 27.
In God’s law covenant with Israel the penalty for drinking blood was death. (Lev. 17:10, 14) On the other hand, water is essential for life. If, then, the sources of drinking water were turned into blood it would mean death for the drinkers thereof.
This very thing happens, symbolically, in the third plague of Revelation, chapter 16. God uses the illustration to reveal the state of affairs as regards his principle on blood and what results to mankind from it. We read: “And the third [angel] poured out his bowl into the rivers and the fountains of the waters. And they became blood.” (Rev. 16:4) This plague reminds us of the first plague that came upon ancient Egypt by means of God’s prophet Moses. Because of it the Egyptians’ sources of water, the Nile River, the reedy pools and the impounded waters of the land became blood, which the Egyptians could not drink and in which the fish died and stank. (Ex. 7:14-25) This bowl, like the other six of Revelation, chapter 16, was poured out from the heavens and down into the earth, so it could not affect the heavens, where Jehovah, the Source of living waters, resides. Therefore, it could not affect God’s spiritual water supplies to his true worshipers. Jehovah being the source of life, the waters he provides sustain life. (Ps. 36:9; Jer. 2:13; 17:13) What then are the water fountains and rivers of this earth that are turned to blood?
WHAT THE “FOUNTAINS” AND “RIVERS” ARE
Just as servants of Jehovah, true Christians, look to Jehovah through Christ Jesus for life, and just as he supplies them with His Word, which is pure, like living waters, so the people of this old system of things have sources to which they look for life. They have bypassed the Bible to a great extent because of their religious clergy and have preferred to look to water from other sources, from worldly political, commercial and religious systems. Particularly have the people looked to religious systems because they have felt that these contained the truth and the way to life, but actually they have been greatly deceived. The religious systems, instead of teaching the Bible, have taught traditions, performed ceremonial rites and upheld many conflicting doctrines that blaspheme God. They have made these appear to contain refreshing, life-giving water. They have demanded that their flocks accept their doctrines in blind credulity instead of with intelligent faith based on inspired Scripture.
Those who claim to serve God and who at the same time go to these worldly sources for waters of life are like the apostate Israelites who preferred to drink from the Nile River along which Egypt was located and from the Euphrates River along which Assyria was situated. (Jer. 2:17-19) Those Jews “rejected the waters of the Shiloah that are going gently,” which waters correspond with the “river the streams of which make the city of God rejoice, the holiest grand tabernacle of the Most High.”—Isa. 8:6, 7; Ps. 46:4.
Besides the false doctrines and the theories and teachings of philosophy and ideas from human, earthly origins, these worldly “rivers” and “fountains” have gushed forth programs, plans and arrangements for solving mankind’s problems. By drinking from these the people have been led into an activity contrary to God’s Word and have come under the condemnation of his laws. Some have not willfully and deliberately done so, but share community responsibility for supporting the spilling of blood in wars. They have been led to use blood wrongly in other ways, some by drinking it, others by transfusions and variously misusing it. They have had and are having opportunity to know God’s requirements, for they have heard the good news of God’s kingdom established in the heavens preached since 1919 by Jehovah’s witnesses. If they listen and repent of this course they can get forgiveness and life-giving waters from God. But the clergy of Christendom, Jewry and pagandom have united in supporting and advocating misuse of blood. At the same time they have ignored Jehovah, the great Fountain of life, his provision through Christ’s ransom and his Messianic kingdom for imparting life to believing, obedient mankind. Moreover, they have rejected and opposed the good news, thereby blocking others from hearing, bringing bloodguilt upon them in this way.
WHY WATERS BECOME BLOOD
John hears the angel’s expression of gratification over the work done: “And I heard the angel over the waters say: ‘You, the One who is and who was, the loyal One, are righteous, because you have rendered these decisions, because they poured out the blood of holy ones and of prophets, and you have given them blood to drink. They deserve it.’” (Rev. 16:5, 6) So God is entirely just in dealing with them in this way. Those drinking from the contaminated worldly sources have been led into fighting against God’s holy ones and prophets, Jehovah’s Christian witnesses. Especially have they been egged on to do so by Babylon the Great, the false religious empire over the peoples of earth. (Rev. 17:6, 18) Jehovah cannot approve of their blood-spilling course of action. He is loyal to his faithful witnesses and is righteous in executing his judicial decision upon those who violently pour out the blood of his servants. God judges them this way only after they show themselves unworthy of life and fully deserving of letting their drink be blood, which means that their punishment is death.
Now an unexpected and amazing thing happens: “And I heard the altar say: ‘Yes, Jehovah God, the Almighty, true and righteous are your judicial decisions.’” (Rev. 16:7) What is the “altar”? The altar in the tent of meeting in Israel was God’s arrangement upon which sacrifices were to be offered to him. The “altar” is God’s symbolic altar-like arrangement for Jesus’ sacrifice. God provided his Son as a sacrifice, arranged for him to come to earth as a man, die here, be resurrected and appear in heaven with the value of his sacrifice to buy life rights for sinful mankind. Such arrangement was undeserved kindness on God’s part. Faithful footstep followers of Jesus Christ, his spiritual brothers, have followed closely in his steps. (1 Pet. 2:21) All of them die his kind of death, that is, as a sacrifice, not that their shed blood has any part in sin atonement, but that they might experience Jesus’ kind of resurrection. Many have been literally martyred by those who drink from the fountains and water sources of this world.
How does the altar “speak”? According to Revelation 6:9, 10, the altar has underneath it the souls or lives of those “slaughtered because of the word of God and because of the witness work that they used to have.” Their souls or lives resided in their blood, and their blood was poured out at the base of the altar. That is why their souls are pictured as being down there and crying out for divine vengeance in the way that martyred Abel’s blood cried out from the ground. (Gen. 4:8-11; Lev. 17:11-14) So the altar of sacrifice symbolically speaks or has something to say about this judgment and it fully agrees, because of the many things it has witnessed, that Jehovah is true and righteous when he gives death-dealing blood to the worldly opposers of his people.
DECLARING THE THIRD PLAGUE
The third plague is very tormenting and painful to those who have drunk from the worldly water sources, for the drink has not really been satisfying to them and it has caused much death all around them. In order that many who may feel the plague and who desire life-giving waters to drink may do so, Jehovah’s witnesses have been busy proclaiming the meaning of this third plague to the best of their ability. At Columbus, Ohio, at a convention of Jehovah’s witnesses on July 25, 1924, an outspoken declaration in this connection was made in a resolution entitled “Indictment.” Two days after the resolution was adopted, namely, on Sunday, July 27, the president of the Watch Tower Society gave the public address entitled “Civilization Doomed” to an audience of about 35,000, emphasizing these facts. In harmony with the angelic pouring out of the third bowl the speaker said:
“Jesus Christ is the great Prince of Peace. He said: ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ He taught his disciples and his followers to refrain completely from the use of carnal weapons. Yet the clergy, who claim to be teachers of his doctrines, have sanctified war and made it a holy thing. They have delighted to have their portraits and statues exhibited side by side with those of bloody warriors. They have hailed the greatest warriors as the greatest heroes of all time. [Like Constantine and Charlemagne]
“ . . . The nations are all mustering their forces for the great conflict foretold; for God purposes to overthrow Satan’s organization through his beloved Son, Christ Jesus. . . . ”
In further warning mankind that they are bloodguilty by being under the influence of the false religious system of Babylon the Great, the book entitled “Creation,” published in 1927 by the Watch Tower Society, said, on page 103, under the subheading “Everlasting Covenant”:
This covenant is the first expression of God’s will concerning the sacredness of human life. The will of God is his law. All life proceeds from Jehovah; and since no one can give life to another except by Jehovah’s arrangement, no one has a right to take away life except by Jehovah’s permission. After the terms of this covenant the law that must for ever govern the human race is that no man can take the life of another with impunity. . . .
. . . The terms of the everlasting covenant have been broken by every people and every nation of earth, and some day God will require at the hands of the responsible ones a full account thereof.
The clergy claim to be the representatives of the Lord, and assume to teach his Word; yet they have openly advocated the killing of human beings in war without just cause or excuse.
REACTION TO PROCLAMATION ABOUT PLAGUE
Not having learned the lesson not to trust in worldly sources for plans, schemes and propaganda, the world went on heedless of these warnings from Jehovah’s witnesses. Under German Nazism and Roman Fascism the blood of thousands of Jehovah’s witnesses was poured out as martyrs in the heart of Christendom. Then World War II came on with the greatest destruction of human life to date. (Rev. 12:13-16) Because so many were wounded, blood transfusions increased.
To clarify thoroughly what is God’s will on use of blood, Jehovah’s witnesses made a special Scriptural study, the results of which appeared in the July 1, 1945, issue of The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom. The leading article of this issue discussed Psalm 16. On pages 198-201 it discussed the attitude of King David toward taking the blood of others into his human system when he said, in Psalm 16:4 (AV): “Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god: their drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names into my lips.” This article quoted page 113 of Volume 4 of The Encyclopedia Americana (1929 edition), which said:
Transfusion of blood dates as far back as the time of the ancient Egyptians. The earliest reported case is that practiced on Pope Innocent VIII in 1492. The operation cost the lives of three youths and the Pontiff’s life was not saved.
Disregarding what was clearly God’s law, medical men used transfusions on a mass scale during the Korean War, and now in Vietnam, and blood is used in some foods and other products. In fact, blood, which contains the life of the creature and which belongs to God, has been misused by men as though the life belonged to them. The religions of Christendom and Jewry completely reject what Jehovah’s witnesses clearly show is God’s viewpoint on blood. They make all kinds of excuses nullifying God’s law, to give a clean appearance to those who violate it. Until now the controversy rages, many of Jehovah’s witnesses suffering great persecution because they refuse to take blood in any form. They are often denied medical and surgical help. In some cases, through court orders, transfusions have been forced on them. Jehovah takes notice of all these atrocities committed against his people.
Jehovah’s witnesses are concerned primarily with what God’s law is on blood, not the medical aspect. However, it is true that a great spread of diseases, such as hepatitis, syphilis and malaria, and many deaths have resulted from the practice of transfusions—evidence of the practical wisdom of God’s law. To help reasonable persons to give full consideration to this vital subject, Jehovah’s witnesses circulate a 64-page booklet entitled “Blood, Medicine and the Law of God,” which was released on June 22, 1961, at the international assembly of Jehovah’s witnesses in Yankee Stadium, New York city. It provides a well-documented treatment of the subject, highlighting what God’s Word says about it. If you want to avoid being bloodguilty with the world and becoming as the worldly ones are, “drunk with their own blood,” you will listen to the Source of the true waters of life and get away from the plague that is on all those drinking from the bloody, worldly fountains and rivers.—Isa. 49:26.
For a discussion of the first and second plagues of Revelation, chapter 16, see the two preceding issues of this magazine. Plagues four to seven will be discussed in succeeding issues, or see the book “Babylon the Great Has Fallen!” God’s Kingdom Rules! by Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, Brooklyn, New York.