Disturbance in Symbolic Sun Distresses Earth
IN THE search for sources of energy to bolster up the earth’s diminishing reserves, the sun is acknowledged to be far greater than any other energy source yet found. From this stupendous nuclear furnace, the sun, the portion of the sunlight that falls on the United States alone in just two days supplies energy equal to all our remaining fossil fuel reserves. The problem is to find a way to harness it. Many methods have been tried to utilize the sun’s energy economically, with only fair success.
Not only is sunlight the greatest source of energy but its many forms of radiation affect our lives tremendously. When there is sunspot activity, for example, radio communication is greatly disrupted and scientists believe that sunspots may also have a great effect upon our lives physically and psychologically.
GOD’S ANGER BRINGS DISTURBANCE
Among the ancient Babylonians the sun was worshiped as a god, the judge of heaven, under the name of Shamash. He was the second god in one of the Babylonian triads of gods. Apostate Israelites imitated the Babylonians in taking up the worship of the sun, as indicated in Ezekiel 8:15, 16 and Deuteronomy 4:19. Today some of the backward people of the earth still worship the sun. These people look upon the sun as more than a source of energy; they also look and pray to it as if it were an intelligent provider. Of course, in this modern time intellectual, educated people of the earth do not worship the sun directly, though they do understand its importance to mankind.
This tremendous orb in space around which our small planet revolves was not made for man to worship. It is, rather, another evidence of the might and loving-kindness of our great Creator Jehovah God, who placed it there. Without it all life would quickly disappear from the earth. We should be thankful to him for it. Due to its importance to man, it is logical that the Creator would use the sun as a symbol or “sign” in the Bible to illustrate something to which man looks for life, light and direction. Sometimes he uses the symbol with a good and beneficial significance, such as when he speaks of the sun of righteousness, and sometimes with a bad connotation, when he speaks of pouring out a plague upon the sun, as he does in Revelation 16:8.
It is in the latter sense that he uses the term in connection with the fourth plague of the seven plagues of the book of Revelation. The angel handling this plague poured out his bowl of God’s anger upon the symbolic sun, causing disturbances in it, with results to men on earth that we wish to discuss here. After describing the first three plagues, John says: “And the fourth one poured out his bowl upon the sun; and to the sun it was granted to scorch the men with fire.”—Rev. 16:8.
To get an understanding of what this plague is it is helpful first to turn to Jesus’ prophetic illustration of the wheat and the weeds at Matthew 13:38, 39, 43. He said to his disciples: “As for the fine seed, these are the sons of the kingdom; . . . The harvest is a conclusion of a system of things, . . . At that time the righteous ones will shine as brightly as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” He was speaking of those who proclaim the message of the kingdom under Christ the Messiah, who is the light of the world, and in doing so they shine like the sun in blessing the people who hear. (John 1:4, 9; Matt. 5:14) They receive their energy from God and his Word. There are others with a sun-like brilliance, however, but they shine in the kingdoms of this world and they certainly impart no such blessing to mankind. Their shining is to make a name for themselves in world history and to be idolized.
DECLARING THE PLAGUE
It follows that there would be enmity on the part of the ones who shine as the sun of this world toward those who shine as the sun in the Kingdom. This is because the sons of the Kingdom are commanded by God, not only to declare the good news of the Kingdom, but also to expose the motives of the “sun” of this world and the results of its rays beating down upon the people. This declaration constitutes an announcement of the fourth of the seven plagues that are poured out by the angelic servants of God. Accordingly, on August 29, 1925, at a convention of the International Bible Students in Indianapolis, Indiana, a resolution entitled “Message of Hope” was adopted. In part it said:
“World powers, science and philosophy, commerce and religion, have each in turn offered their respective remedies for man’s relief. In the name and under the guise of democracy, these combine in offering their joint and several powers to meet the requirements of man. Together they claim to be the sunlight of the world, holding forth all the light that shines to enlighten and guide the human race.”
The resolution gave no glory or praise to the name of men shining in the worldly firmament, as it went on to say a few paragraphs later:
“Therefore, in the name and in the spirit of the Lord, the standard of God’s truth and righteousness is here lifted up against the enemy and for the benefit of the peoples, which standard is, to wit:
“That Jehovah is the only true God, the Most High, the Almighty, the author and finisher of the great purpose for the salvation of man, and is the rewarder of all that diligently seek and obey him; that the Bible is his revealed Word of truth; that his beloved Son Christ Jesus is the Redeemer and Deliverer of man and, true to his promise, has come to rule and bless the peoples . . . ”
A SCORCHING SUN
The effects of pouring out this bowl were: “To the sun it was granted to scorch the men with fire. And the men were scorched with great heat.” (Rev. 16:8, 9) How did this come about? Well, by this time, 1925, Benito Mussolini had established himself as dictator of Italy. Stalin was manipulating things so as to be the absolute master of the Communist Russian giant by the end of 1927. Adolf Hitler was fanatically working his way toward becoming the National Socialist dictator over Germany. Japan was molding plans to extend its imperialism on the mainland of Asia, while the rest of the world was still trying to readjust itself from the holocaust of World War I. Yet all these adjustments and changes were not bringing any light of freedom and warmth of blessings to the people. Rather, the symbolic worldly “sun” was oppressively becoming scorchingly hot, and the people were suffering under the greater pressures, just as Jehovah’s witnesses had foretold. The people looking to the “sun” of this world to bring recovery and blessings after World War I certainly were disappointed, for it proved to be no “sun of righteousness” with “healing in its wings.”—Mal. 4:2.
Jehovah’s witnesses were telling the people that the Gentile Times had ended in 1914 and that at this time God’s kingdom was established in the heavens. Giving men a warning before his kingdom would crush and put an end to the kingdoms of the world, God permitted the governments of this world to exist for a while longer as the “superior authorities.” (Rom. 13:1) Men grasped at this fact as an excuse to blame God for the troubles that were taking place and to increase their hostility toward Jehovah’s witnesses, who ascribed the scorching heat to the worldly “sun.” As Revelation 16:9 foretold: “They blasphemed the name of God, who has the authority over these plagues, and they did not repent so as to give glory to him.”
Now with the Kingdom established in the heavens and the enlightenment that God’s people had on this, they began to see more than ever before the importance of God’s personal name Jehovah, and that he would make his name great before all the earth by means of his kingdom. They circulated the resolution adopted at the Indianapolis convention throughout the earth in many millions of copies in many languages. Additionally, the Watch Tower issue of December 15, 1925, had the following to say under the heading “His Name”:
The world, particularly the governing factors of the nations, have pushed the name of God aside. Now the time is come when God will make for himself a name in the earth. . . .
Now Satan and his evil allies are gathering all their forces for the great and final conflict. . . . In that fight the Lord God will make for himself a name, that the peoples and nations of earth may know that he is God.—Page 375.
Therefore, while the “sun” of this world began to be more oppressive and scorchingly hot, at the same time defaming Jehovah’s name, Jesus’ prophecy came true that his people would shine forth “as the sun in the kingdom of their father.” In the very next issue of The Watch Tower, that of January 1, 1926, the feature article was “Who Will Honor Jehovah?” In its opening paragraph it said:
These [“Blessed be the Lord out of Zion.”—Ps. 135:21a] are the words for our text for the year 1926. Blessed or bless, as used in this text, means to venerate, to adore, to worship, to honor and to glorify. Who will come within the class that thus honors Jehovah God? They that abide in Zion will do so with gladness.
GOD’S ILLUSTRIOUS NAME SHINES ON HIS PEOPLE
The plague and its effects began to be more distinct as the worldly governments stepped up their oppressiveness, while at the same time Jehovah’s people were more determined to honor God. Correspondingly, from then on the Watch Tower publications quoted and directed these Christians to the words of Isaiah 43:10-12, in which Jehovah tells his dedicated people that they are his witnesses. More and more they came to appreciate their relationship and responsibility toward God. Finally, on Sunday, July 26, 1931, at their international assembly in Columbus, Ohio, they adopted the resolution in favor of the Scripturally backed name for themselves, “Jehovah’s witnesses.”
They did not invent the name Jehovah’s witnesses or take it upon themselves. It was a Scripturally given name, God-given, proving that they were getting their light from the true source of all light and blessings. At the same time they have increased the publicizing of God’s name and now, especially with the name being called upon his people, the “sun” of the world has beamed its anger directly against God’s personal name and has blasphemed it. God’s name Jehovah is hated so badly that the clergy of Christendom, who have looked to the worldly “sun,” have denied it as being the Creator’s name, have removed it from their modern translations of the Bible, have said it is not the name of the God of Christians and thereby have left Jehovah’s witnesses alone to bear the distinguished divine Name. Little do they know that this is a maneuvering of God, for he respects his sacred name, and has arranged it so that only those devoted to him may bear it.
A LIGHT THAT FAILED
That the plague was truly on, and the fact that the “sun” of this world would not bring help to the people, it was the privilege of Jehovah’s witnesses to declare on the occasion of the so-called Holy Year of 1933. Pope Pius XI of Vatican City, who was a Concordat partner of dictators Mussolini and Hitler, proclaimed 1933 to be a holy year. At its inauguration on April 2, the pope held out hopes of peace and prosperity as a result of observing that year as holy. But President J. F. Rutherford of the Watch Tower Society, only three weeks later, namely, on April 23, 1933, broadcast an hour’s address on the subject “Effect of Holy Year on Peace and Prosperity.” WBBR, Staten Island, New York, was the key station linked with more than 54 other radio stations. This exposé of the Holy Year was transcribed on phonograph records and a broadcast of these was made the following June 25 over 158 radio stations. An excerpt from the president’s speech stated:
“ . . . With all kindness and sincerity I remind you who listened to the ‘Holy Hour Service’ held in New York on the 2d of April that the name of man was there exalted by frequently using and applying to men such terms as ‘Holy Father,’ ‘Your Eminence,’ and ‘Your Excellency’; whereas the name of Jehovah God, His King and His kingdom were not mentioned at all. No reference was made to God’s expressed purpose of dealing with the human race by and through His kingdom. . . .
“The act of declaring this a ‘holy year’ for the bringing in of peace and prosperity is a presumptuous sin before Almighty God. No man or company of men are running Jehovah’s business so as to enable them to ‘change times and laws,’ and it is so stated in Daniel 7:25. . . .
“ . . . Peace and prosperity cannot be brought to the earth by men, but will come by God’s kingdom under Christ. . . . ”—The Golden Age, as of May 10, 1933, pages 483-490.
The symbolic “sun” of this world has not let up since then in its scorching of the people. To the contrary, it has grown worse. The terrible persecution of Jehovah’s witnesses by Hitler, worse than that he inflicted on the Jews, took place. Then came World War II, which proved to be many times more destructive than World War I. This was climaxed by the exploding of atomic bombs on Japan. Now the Communist scourge and the fear that it brings, with the possibility of nuclear war, which scientists fear could wipe mankind off the earth, makes many wonder how long anyone will last under the scorching heat of the world’s “sun.”
Jehovah’s witnesses, on the other hand, continue to increase both in peace and in numbers, for many persons see that they have the true light of God’s Word, which the psalmist called “a lamp to my foot, and a light to my roadway.” (Ps. 119:105) Just as Jehovah God in his undeserved kindness and love for humankind created for them all things for their comfort, including the sun, which provides the energy for man’s life as well as light for his guidance, so he has provided the symbolic “sun of righteousness” for mankind’s everlasting enlightenment, life and blessing. Hundreds of thousands hope to realize the truth of God’s promise: “To you who are in fear of my name the sun of righteousness will certainly shine forth, with healing in its wings.” (Mal. 4:2) Contrariwise, the men who continue to look to the “sun” of this world, who are getting horribly scorched, become more and more blasphemous and angry against the name of God. They do not repent so as to give glory to him. The plague will continue on them until they are removed along with the world’s “sun” at the battle of Armageddon.
For a discussion of the remaining three plagues of Revelation, chapter 16, see succeeding issues of The Watchtower, or the book “Babylon the Great Has Fallen!” God’s Kingdom Rules! by Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Brooklyn, New York.