Unrest—Why So Widespread?
HAVE you noticed how unrest today flares up at the most unexpected places, sometimes in the remotest places in the earth? Suddenly we find ourselves confronted with outbreaks in every quarter. In democratic countries where people can express themselves freely, demonstrations or even riots can occur at the slightest provocation. Even at pleasure resorts and other places, riotous mobs, for no reason at all, where no issue of principle is involved, damage property and injure and kill innocent people. And not only in the “free” nations, but likewise in lands where the governments are more restrictive, such as the Communist lands of Russia and China, we see the same things occurring. Moreover, no place is too far removed from “civilized” life for violent uprisings to occur, for example, in sections of Africa, where the way of life has been simple and little concern about the outside world has existed heretofore. What is the reason?
It is because there is a certain spirit permeating this world, motivating the unrest. It is so widespread because its propagation does not depend merely on human individuals or organizations. This spirit brings forth the same fruitage everywhere. It is more active because of the failure of the world’s religions and ideologies to bring spiritual health. They give their people no power to fight the world’s spirit. Religious leaders of Christendom are saying ‘God is dead,’ and their religion itself is almost dead and unable to bring what the people need. Buddhism, Shintoism, Mohammedanism—all worldly religions have failed to provide a solution; as a matter of fact, they help to fan the flames. On the other hand, atheistic communism has also failed, as a Moscow student group demonstrated recently when one of them cried: “Give us something to believe in!”
SEVENTH PLAGUE POURED UPON THE AIR
It is with this spirit that the seventh plague of the Bible book of Revelation deals when it says: “And the seventh [angel] poured out his bowl upon the air. At this a loud voice issued out of the sanctuary from the throne, saying: ‘It has come to pass!’” (Rev. 16:17) Why does the Bible say that the bowl was poured out upon the air instead of upon the spirit? The Giver of the Revelation is using air symbolically, just as he used the “sea,” “earth” and “rivers” symbolically in the preceding plagues. We know that he does not have reference to the pollution of the air by some atomic or nuclear device causing fallout and contaminating the very air we breathe, although nuclear devices have to some extent done this. Extensive pollution would cause the death of all of us, for the air we breathe means our life, our very soul. (Gen. 6:17; 7:15, 22; Job 9:18) One can do without food for a considerable time and even go for several days without water, but interference with the air supply causes almost instantaneous effects. For these reasons the seventh plague poured upon the air represents something more devastating than the previous plagues on the earth, the sea, the rivers and fountains of water.
We can see what the air symbolizes by going to the Bible and also by turning back to the beliefs of ancient religion. According to the ancient Babylonians, the air was the abode of evil spirits and devils. Of the seven evil spirits whom they feared, the first one was the South Wind, the sixth a whirlwind, and the seventh a storm (hurricane). There were also triads of devils, the demons that caused sickness seeming to form a class by themselves. But each of these devils had a name and was thought to have a monstrous form of some kind. The followers of Pythagoras believed our atmosphere to be peopled with spirits under the control of a chief who held his seat of empire in the air. Such spirits were thought to be powerful but malignant, bent on inciting men to do wickedness.
In the Bible the Greek word for “air,” in which these demon spirits were thought to dwell, is aēr, as in the word aeroplane. Air in motion becomes wind and as such exerts force, driving power. Like air, people breathe in the spirit of this world. So the spirit of this world exerts a force upon people that can be observed in their actions. Who is in control of this force against which God has such great indignation that he pours out the final bowl of his anger upon it? Let us look into the Bible to see.
WHO CONTROLS THE SPIRIT OF THE WORLD
The Bible speaks of an invisible realm in which dwell spirit persons, the angels, much more powerful than man, who are able to travel through interstellar space where there is no atmosphere such as we on earth live in and, of course, they are beyond the need of any air such as we breathe and are not under its influence or control. They are as invisible as the air and, if they exert an active force to direct the actions of men and in fact direct their lives, they can be said to have authority in the air. The Bible uses that very expression in regard to Satan the Devil, who is declared to be “the prince of the power of the air” or “the ruler of the authority of the air, the spirit that now operates in the sons of disobedience.”—Eph. 2:2, AV, NW.
It follows that the spirit of the world, which is against God, is therefore a spirit that is controlled by Satan and is also the spirit of Satan himself, who has opposed God from the beginning of his rebellion. We do not want to deceive ourselves by underrating his powers. He is a mighty angelic creature. At Hebrews 2:14 he is described as the one having the means to cause death. He gained this power after he induced Adam and Eve to sin in the garden of Eden and thus bring death upon all of their offspring. Since getting mankind under sin, he is able to work on their imperfection to bring about degradation on the part of some; also, he is able to use men under his influence to kill others, especially in warfare. He was given special permission, for the purpose of the test of integrity upon Job, to cause the death of Job’s ten children by a windstorm. The heavenly scene is described in the book of Job, where Satan is shown appearing before God. Since he said in reply to Jehovah’s question as to his activities that he came from roving about in the earth and from walking up and down in it, he most likely had been roving about within earth’s air or atmosphere, carrying on his activities to influence men against God.—Job 1:7, 18, 19; 2:2, 6.
As the book of Job shows, during the time allowed for settling the issue raised concerning God’s sovereignty and the related question of man’s integrity to God, Jehovah God has permitted Satan to have access to the earth to test His servants. So Satan, having a powerful organization of wicked demons, is called the ruler of the authority of the air. Sons of disobedience among mankind therefore breathe in, as it were, the spirit of Satan the Devil. It is this spirit that motivates them and causes them to mold their lives according to this system of things of which Satan is the god.—Eph. 2:2; 2 Cor. 4:4.
GOD’S ANGER AGAINST WORLD’S SPIRIT
From these things we can see that when the seventh angel poured his bowl out upon the air, he was actually pouring God’s anger on the sphere of influence of Satan the Devil, and on the spirit of the Devil and its fruitage among men. This indicates that God was angry with the spirit of the Devil that the disobedient men on earth displayed in their lives. Also, the plague of God’s anger being poured on it indicates the disastrous results to the realm of Satan and to those sons of disobedience, just as a disaster would result to mankind if the air in which they live was made unfit to breathe.
Whose was the loud voice that issued from the heavenly sanctuary at the outpouring of this seventh bowl? It was none other than that of Jehovah God himself. Revelation 15:8 shows that God is determined to stay in the sanctuary until the plagues are finished. Then he must receive a report from the angels with the bowls. This plague was all that was necessary to complete the expression of God’s anger. It was poured out on one of the last things necessary for man’s life, namely, the air. Now the angels could go back into the sanctuary and report on the finish of their obedient action.—Rev. 16:17.
The chief target of Satan and his wicked spirit organization is the remnant, the remaining members of Christ’s spiritual brothers on the earth. They, along with their companions, the great crowd of “other sheep” who have earthly hopes, have a fight, especially since Satan the Devil and his demon angels were hurled out of heaven in 1914 C.E., immediately after Jesus Christ was installed in Kingdom power. Since then they have been confined to the atmosphere of our earth and this has resulted in a greater test on God’s servants as well as all kinds of woes upon mankind, inasmuch as Satan knows his time is now very short. These invisible enemies of God and man can therefore stir up unrest everywhere on earth simultaneously. So the fight these true Christians have is not against any man or earthly government, but is against wicked spirit forces in the invisible heavens.—Rev. 12:5-12; Eph. 6:11, 12.
SEVENTH PLAGUE ANNOUNCED BY CHRISTIANS
In their fight against Satan and his demons these Christians, Jehovah’s witnesses, have used the Sword of the Spirit, God’s Word, to fight against the strongholds of false doctrine of Babylonish religion and the ideologies created by Satan’s spirit. Therefore, it has been granted to them to have the privilege of announcing the plagues. A marked evidence of the declaring of God’s anger in connection with the seventh bowl was manifested on Sunday morning, August 5, 1928, at an international assembly of dedicated Christian Bible Students, now known as Jehovah’s witnesses, at Detroit, Michigan. A resolution entitled “Declaration Against Satan and for Jehovah” was submitted by the then president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, J. F. Rutherford. Its third proposition stated:
Third: . . . that Satan the Devil has caused strife amongst the nations and is responsible for all the cruel wars, wicked murders, all heinous crimes and other corrupt acts that have been committed; that until now Jehovah has not restrained Satan from the exercise of power and influence over men; . . . that for many centuries Satan has been the invisible ruler of the world, constantly defaming the name of Jehovah God and working great injury to men and nations.
In the public talk that immediately followed the presentation of the resolution, the crowd of 12,000 and an unseen audience listening by means of a network of 106 radio stations heard the supporting speech entitled “Ruler for the People.” In this speech a strong exposé of the Devil’s influence on mankind was made as the speaker said:
“ . . . the Bible designates him under the title Satan, Serpent, Dragon and Devil. All the unrighteous wars that have been fought between men, and all the cruel murders committed by men, have been due to the wicked influence of Satan the Devil because he was the first murderer and the father of lies. (John 8:44) All the tears of bitterness that have flowed from those who have been dealt with unjustly and sorely oppressed must be traced to the influence of Satan because he is the great and wicked oppressor. (Ps. 72:4) All the bitterness that has existed and been exhibited between professed Christian people, all the religious intolerance and persecution of Christians, must be laid at Satan’s door. All the foul aspersions against Jehovah God and all the defamation of his holy name must be laid to the charge of Satan the Devil.
“ . . . it was Satan, the invisible ruler of this world, who caused the death of Jesus. Such wicked persecution could not have proceeded from Jehovah God against his own Son. From then till now the Christians have suffered violent persecution. . . .
“Afterwards the Romans persecuted and put to death many Christian people. . . .
“All the evidence shows that Satan, the invisible ruler of this world, is the responsible one for such wrongful acts, and the conclusion is in harmony with the words of Jesus, . . . The fight of the Christian has not been against men, but against the invisible Satan and his cohorts of evil. . . .—Eph. 6:11, 12, Weymouth.”
The speaker went on to describe in detail the wickedness of Satan in this world and in doing so quoted from various publications. He then said:
“The charge is often made that Jehovah is a cruel and bloodthirsty God. That charge is wholly false. Bear in mind that Jehovah is the only source of life. . . . Jehovah God will shortly overthrow the Devil’s established organization and will set up righteousness in the earth. . . .
“ . . . This Declaration is against the common enemy of all creation. It is against the enemy who for centuries has defamed the name of Jehovah God and brought unbounded sorrow to man. It is against Satan and his allies in darkness and evil. It is a testimony to the fact that Satan’s evil rule must shortly end and that Jehovah, for his name’s sake and the salvation of the people, will establish a righteous government that all the nations of earth shall be blessed.”
The resolution was adopted by the assembly. It and the talk “Ruler for the People” were printed in booklet form and distributed by the millions of copies in many languages world wide. At this same convention the book entitled “Government” had been released on August 3 and began to be circulated in many languages. This put men on notice that God’s anger was being poured out on the “air” of this wicked invisible ruler of the air, Satan the Devil.
MULTITUDES ACT ON ANNOUNCEMENT
Many millions of people up to this time were unaware that Satan is the god of this system of things and that he does exercise a malevolent influence on the lives of men by permeating this world with his spirit of disobedience to God. Millions also up to this time had not recognized that the increased troubles that have come upon this earth since 1914 are due to Satan’s activities now being confined to the earth and that he is trying desperately to maneuver all mankind into a position of fighting against God, to their destruction.
It is now more than thirty-eight years since that declaration was made to put men on notice and to warn them to avoid the spirit of this world and to encourage them to seek refuge under Christ’s kingdom and to be guided by the spirit of God, which is a spirit of obedience to his Word and commandments. Certainly the time is much shorter now for all men who desire life to take the same position as those adopting the declaration in 1928. That hundreds of thousands more are doing so was emphasized by 454,977 attending the series of “Everlasting Good News” assemblies in different parts of the earth in 1963. These adopted and distributed earth wide a resolution, which in its last two paragraphs stated in part:
THAT, although at present we are obliged to be in this world, we will not breathe in the spirit of this world, For it is not the spirit of God but is the spirit of the devilish “ruler of this world.” Led by the spirit of its unseen ruler, the world of mankind has for thousands of years cultivated the works of the fallen, degraded flesh. Now the world is reaping the results of breathing in the spirit of Satan the Devil and cultivating the works of their flesh, which is at enmity with God. Babylon’s modern religious counterpart has not cultivated in the people the spirit of God, that they might reap the fruitage of God’s spirit to the attainment of eternal life in His new order of things. . . .
. . . We thank Jehovah God for the ministry of his holy angels under Jesus Christ in our behalf. With their help and with the help of his holy spirit and Word we will continue to declare to all peoples without partiality the “everlasting good news” concerning God’s Messianic kingdom and concerning his judgments, which are like plagues to his enemies but which will be executed for the liberation of all persons who desire to worship God the Creator acceptably with spirit and with truth.
The contaminated “air,” the spirit of the Devil in the world, as revealed by the plague, can kill you spiritually and find you physically dead at God’s hands in the coming “war of the great day of God the Almighty.” Do not take it in and let it involve you in the death-dealing unrest and violence of the world, but breathe the fresh, pure, invigorating, life-giving spirit obtained by reading God’s Word, the Bible, and by associating with those who believe and teach its truths.
Jehovah’s angels pour out the plagues and his servants on earth are empowered by his spirit to announce the plagues. Jehovah expresses satisfaction when they do the work. But since the plagues express not only God’s anger as declared but also the actual spiritual and physical results of his anger upon the world, bringing calamity to his enemies and good to all following God’s Word, we will await the next issue of The Watchtower for a description of the world-shaking outcome of the outpouring of the seventh plague.