“From a Weak State . . . Made Powerful”
1. Of what is Jehovah the Source?
JEHOVAH is the true Source of life and strength, “the Creator of the heavens and the grand One stretching them out; the One laying out the earth and its produce, the One giving breath to the people on it, and spirit to those walking in it.” (Isa. 42:5) And by his spirit, or active force, Jehovah strengthens his servants on earth as they cry to him for direction and help in time of need.—Ps. 34:8, 15.
2. What is pictured by Samson’s awakening to his senses?
2 It was even so with Samson. No sooner had his enemies shorn him of his power, than he awoke to his senses. Realizing his error, he repented before his God, and prepared to serve him again in Nazirite devotion. There was no delay in this. As soon as he had been shaved, “the hair of his head started to grow luxuriantly.” As his strength returned, he was again “looking for an opportunity against the Philistines.” (Judg. 16:22; 14:4) In the same way, from 1919, God’s “slave,” fully repentant and resolved to serve Jehovah to the death, experienced a return of strength. The “spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet,” ready for vigorous activity in the “time of the end.”—Rev. 11:8-12; Dan. 12:1-4.
3. How were “a people blind” now brought forth, and for what purpose?
3 The time had come for the fulfillment of Isaiah 43:8, 10, 11: “‘Bring forth a people blind though eyes themselves exist’ . . . ‘You are my witnesses,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘even my servant whom I have chosen, in order that you may know and have faith in me, and that you may understand that I am the same One. Before me there was no God formed, and after me there continued to be none. I—I am Jehovah, and besides me there is no savior.’” Though temporarily blinded due to the influence of false religionists during World War I years, Jehovah’s people must now be brought out of captivity to serve unequivocally as His witnesses. If any blindness remained, it was that they were now blind to doing anything other than the will of Almighty God. They were resolved to ‘forget the things behind.’—Phil. 3:13, 14.
4. For what did the feasting Philistines praise their god?
4 The lords of the Philistines gathered to offer a great sacrifice to their fish god, Dagon. It was to be a religious feast, like that sponsored by Belshazzar at Babylon some 600 years later, when he made sport of the holy vessels from Jehovah’s temple. (Dan. 5:1-4, 30) But in the Philistines’ feasting, it was Jehovah’s devoted servant, Samson, who became the center of mocking and reviling. “And they kept saying: ‘Our god has given into our hand Samson our enemy!’ When the people got to see him, they at once gave way to praising their god, ‘because,’ said they, ‘our god has given into our hand our enemy and the devastator of our land and the one who multiplied our slain.’”—Judg. 16:23, 24.
5. In what did the Philistine-like clergy of today unite?
5 O the clergy of Christendom delighted in the captivity of Jehovah’s witnesses during the closing days of World War I! Thinking that they had silenced the Witnesses for all time, the clergy did just as Revelation 11:10 foretold: ‘They rejoiced over them and enjoyed themselves, and sent gifts to one another.’ They proceeded to make sport of Jehovah’s downtrodden “slave.” And since those days, while continuing to heap mockery on Jehovah’s witnesses, the clergy of Christendom, and indeed of the entire world empire of false religion, have gathered in their house of false worship, drawing closer in their interfaith movements, and identifying themselves as anti-God and against Jehovah’s established kingdom by Christ Jesus. Always they are united in their combined opposition to Jehovah’s witnesses.
6, 7. (a) Why was Samson called out of the prison house? (b) What did Jehovah arrange with regard to his modern-day “slave”?
6 As the Philistines reveled in their idolatry before Dagon, “it came about that because their heart was merry, they began to say: ‘Call Samson that he may offer us some amusement.’ So they called Samson out of the prison house that he might make sport before them.”—Judg. 16:25.
7 Jehovah was directing the course of the drama back in Samson’s day. And likewise it was by Jehovah’s arranging that his devoted “slave” was brought forth from religious bondage in 1919. The modern Philistines, though they may not have immediately realized it, had no further power over Jehovah’s witnesses. These came forth to serve and to work. With symbolic hair ‘growing luxuriantly,’ they have continued to bear the reproaches and shame heaped upon them by ecclesiastical leaders. Down to this year 1967, the “faithful and discreet slave,” the anointed remnant of Jehovah’s witnesses, has served loyally in Jehovah’s strength, and has testified to his sovereignty, while at the same time “being exposed as in a theater both to reproaches and tribulations.”—Heb. 10:33.
“BETWEEN THE PILLARS”
8, 9. What is pictured by their standing Samson between the pillars?
8 “And they proceeded to stand him between the pillars”—the main supporting pillars of the house of Dagon. These pillars must have been immense, to support so large a house, and indeed archaeological diggings at Gaza in recent years have uncovered huge stone bases, set side by side, on which the center pillars of just such a Dagon-house may have rested.—Judg. 16:25.
9 Since 1919, false religionists have continued their efforts to make sport of Jehovah’s witnesses, in connection with their keeping integrity before their God. They try to corner them between the main props upon which the world empire of false religion, and Christendom in particular, have built their hopes. But what are the pillars upon which the religious leaders rely for support of their house of false religion?
10, 11. (a) What major issue has arisen in the earth since 1914? (b) What are some examples showing this to be so?
10 Particularly from the year 1914, when Christendom launched World War I, nationalism has become a major factor in human relations. Unreasoning patriotism, a fanatical loyalty to the country in which one happened to be born, has been spawned throughout the earth. The major religions have willingly fanned the flames of nationalism, placing loyalty to the nation above loyalty to the God and Creator of all mankind. They have even blessed the guns that have been used for the wanton slaughter of their fellow religionists in other nations. In return, they have relied on the political rulers to prop up their religious house in its position of dominance over the people.
11 An example of this is to be seen in the Catholic church’s partnership with dictator Mussolini, resulting in the restoration of much power and authority to the Vatican. Also, there was Catholicism’s making of a concordat with Hitler and supporting his crusade for world domination, as when prelates at the German Bishops’ Conference in Fulda, in August 1940, expressed gratitude to Hitler for the German troops’ “victorious advance and defense of the German homeland.”* The Protestant churches, too, have gone right along with the Catholic in supporting the two world wars, and in providing chaplains to build up the morale of the fighting men on both sides.
12, 13. (a) On what other pillar does religion’s “house” seek to support itself? (b) What evidence shows that the world empire of false religion looks to this support?
12 But is nationalism the only prop in which false religionists have placed their trust? In addition thereto, and in direct opposition to God’s kingdom by Christ—His instrumentality for bringing real peace and prosperity to mankind—Satan has brought forth a supranational body. It is described in Revelation 17:8, 11 as the ‘peace beast’ that appears first between the two world wars, goes into eclipse during World War II, and is thereafter reactivated for a season. It is the now-defunct League of Nations and its successor, the United Nations.
13 At the League’s inception, Christendom’s Protestant branch of the world empire of false religion described it as “the political expression of God’s Kingdom on earth.”* And have modern-day religionists looked upon the successor United Nations as a pillar of their hopes for bringing peace and prosperity to this earth? On the occasion of the twentieth birthday celebration of the United Nations, it was reported by the Associated Press of June 27, 1965, from San Francisco:
Seven international leaders of religious faiths With more than 2,000 million worldwide members joined prayerful hands under one roof today in support of the UN quest for world peace. Pope Paul VI sent his blessings from Rome. They were conveyed by a Syrian archbishop to the convocation for Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and Eastern (Greek) Orthodox Christians. . . . Rabbi Louis Jacobs . . . described “the UN as the sole hope for lasting peace in a world whose survival depends on it.”
It is clearly apparent, therefore, that the world’s religious organizations regard the United Nations as a pillar of their hopes for human progress, and indeed for survival itself.
14. How does the pope of Rome view the U.N.?
14 This was underlined by the remarks of Pope Paul VI during his United States visit of October 4, 1965, when he described the United Nations as “that greatest of all international organizations.” He went on to declare:
The peoples of the earth turn to the United Nations as the last hope of concord and peace. . . . The edifice that you have constructed must never fail; it must be perfected.
15, 16. What does God’s Word say as to the future of nationalism and of the U.N. ‘peace beast’?
15 But how does Jehovah God view the rise of nationalism and of the supranational United Nations, which has gained such ardent praise from the religious leaders of this twentieth century? Speaking of the political “kings” that rule earth in this “time of the end,” Jehovah’s prophet declares: “And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite.” (Dan. 2:44) Thus the nationalistic governments on which the various religious systems depend so heavily for support are destined to be crushed by God’s heavenly kingdom.
16 As for the U.N. ‘peace beast,’ Revelation 17:5, 14-17 describes how it will be conquered by the Lamb, Christ Jesus, after it has thrown off the system of world religion that is at present making such ardent overtures of love to it. Yes, the prophecy indicates that radical powers from within that world body, its “ten horns,” will actually turn on the world empire of false religion, the harlotrous “Babylon the Great.” “These will hate the harlot and will make her devastated and naked, and will eat up her fleshy parts and will completely burn her with fire. For God put it into their hearts to carry out his thought.” In vain does world religion put its trust in the United Nations as a prop for its survival.
“STRENGTHEN ME . . . THIS ONCE”
17. What is foreshadowed by Samson’s taking his stand?
17 Where do Jehovah’s witnesses stand with regard to these world issues? Let us return to the prophetic drama: “Then Samson said to the boy that was holding him by his hand: ‘Do permit me to feel the pillars upon which the house is firmly established and let me lean against them.’” (Judg. 16:26) Samson was again seeking an occasion against the Philistines. Likewise, Jehovah’s witnesses of modern times have taken their stand fairly at the center of the controversy and in forthright support of God’s kingdom and His sovereignty. They have exposed the worldly religionists’ reliance upon nationalistic policies and wars, and upon the inept League and United Nations.
18. How did the modern “Samson” start to put pressure against the “pillars”?
18 As early as their international convention at Cedar Point, Ohio, in 1922, Jehovah’s “slave” proclaimed:
That all of the world’s present organization constitutes the visible part of Satan’s empire or organization, and that Satan’s empire must now fall before the forward march of the King of glory; . . . That all international conferences and all agreements or treaties resulting therefrom, including the League of Nations compact and all like compacts, must fail, because God has decreed it thus; . . . That all efforts of the denominational church organizations, their clergy, their leaders and their allies, to save and reestablish the order of things in the earth and to bring peace and prosperity must of necessity fail, because they do not constitute any part of the kingdom of Messiah. . . .
So, the modern “Samson” was in fact beginning to proclaim a polemic message, putting strong pressure against the “pillars” supporting Satan’s idolatrous house of religion.
19. What did the assembly of the Philistines picture?
19 The Bible record continues: “(Incidentally, the house was full of men and women and all the Philistine axis lords were there; and upon the roof there were about three thousand men and women who were looking on while Samson offered some amusement.)” (Judg. 16:27) It was a complete roll call, with none missing. And so, in modern times, the full complement of worldly religious leaders, with Christendom’s clergy out in front, assemble in their “house” of religion to make sport of Jehovah’s faithful “slave,” the remnant of his anointed witnesses. But how do these act in the face of mounting reproaches?
20. What prayer did Samson make, and what did this portray?
20 “Samson now called to Jehovah and said: ‘Lord Jehovah, remember me, please, and strengthen me, please, just this once, O you the true God, and let me avenge myself upon the Philistines with vengeance for one of my two eyes.’” (Judg. 16:28) Samson thus charged the loss of one of his eyes to his own lack of wakefulness in the affair with Delilah. But sincere repentance had now brought Jehovah’s forgiveness. The loss of his other eye he charged to the Philistines. And like Samson, the anointed remnant of Jehovah’s witnesses uttered fervent prayer to Jehovah on their release from prison bonds in 1919. They asked to be used mightily by Jehovah in connection with the vengeance he would bring upon the modern “Philistines” for their part in hatefully blinding the discernment of God’s slave, and the consequent reproach this brought upon Jehovah’s holy name. Did Jehovah answer that prayer? How wonderfully He has made full might abound!
21. How did Samson meet his death?
21 “With that Samson braced himself against the two middle pillars upon which the house was firmly established, and got a grasp on them, one with his right and the other with his left hand. And Samson proceeded to say: ‘Let my soul die with the Philistines.’ Then he bent himself with power, and the house went falling upon the axis lords and upon all the people that were in it, so that the dead that he put to death in his own death came to be more than those he had put to death during his lifetime.”—Judg. 16:29, 30.
22. (a) What assurance did Jehovah thus give his devoted “slave”? (b) What message does he now empower them to declare?
22 What grand assurance this gives that Jehovah will strengthen his devoted “slave” down to the end of the work, irenic and polemic, that he is having done in the earth today! While Satan’s demonic propaganda continues to go forth, rallying all peoples to support fanatical nationalism and the U.N. ‘peace beast,’ Jehovah’s spirit is upon his “slave,” in order to empower him in proclaiming “the year of good will on the part of Jehovah and the day of vengeance on the part of our God.” (Isa. 61:2) Just such a proclamation was made during the “Around-the-World” Assemblies of Jehovah’s witnesses in 1963, when a Resolution adopted by 454,977 persons in twenty-four widely scattered cities declared forthrightly that Satan’s organization “faces an earthquake of world trouble the like of which it has never known, and all its political institutions and its modern religious Babylon will be shaken to bits.”
23. How have many individuals of the remnant resembled Samson?
23 Many individuals of the anointed remnant are now finishing their earthly course in faithfulness. Like Samson of old, they are fighters for God’s righteousness to the end, sharing to the full in the vindication of Jehovah’s great name. They do not look to be pensioned off, like Christendom’s clergy. Rather, they prove themselves “faithful even to death,” and so the promise is sure to them: “Happy are the dead who die in union with the Lord from this time onward . . . for the things they did go right with them.”—Rev. 2:10; 14:13.
24. How will the “Samson” work come to its end, but with what blessing?
24 However, God’s “slave,” as a class, expects to survive the end of Satan’s system. But there will be finis to their work of proclaiming Jehovah’s judgments when the house of false religion and all other parts of Satan’s organization “actually crash in ruins.” (Isa. 6:11) As surely as Samson was vindicated in the suggested meaning of his name—“Destroyer”—just so surely will Jehovah bring upon this earth his destructive judgments as now being proclaimed by his “slave.” And as surely as Samson’s judgeship brought salvation to Israel, so the rule of God’s kingdom by Christ will be “Sun-like” in bringing total relief and everlasting blessings to obedient mankind.*
TRUST IN JEHOVAH’S SPIRIT
25. What fine encouragement do we find in the account of Samson?
25 Splendid as Samson’s physique must have been, the real source of his strength lay, not in human might, but in the all-conquering spirit of Jehovah God. Have you ever felt that the road is long, and that you might take it easy for a time, or even quit? Remember that even the most zealous of Jehovah’s servants meet up with discouragements, as Samson did when he found his hair was shorn off, and he was blinded. But has it not been true that, when we go to Jehovah in prayer, he makes new energy abound? The truth has become so much a part of us that we can never let it go! And so, year after year, we “go on acquiring power in the Lord and in the mightiness of his strength.”—Eph. 6:10.
26. What blessings result from devotion like Samson’s?
26 There is a pioneer brother, still serving in the south of New Zealand at eighty-seven years of age, and his faithful pioneer wife is even a few years older. He sold his business in 1914, so that he could enjoy at least a few months of “colporteur” pioneer service before the expected big crash came in the autumn of that year. He is fond of quoting Jeremiah 20:7: “You have fooled me, O Jehovah, so that I was fooled.” For though he had expected his pioneer service on earth to be for a brief season only, it has stretched out through more than fifty rewarding years, together with trials and reproaches. And at last reports, he is still going “strong,” like Samson. Would he have had it any different? No! Moreover, he encourages young people to have the same viewpoint that he had back there in 1914. Make the most of the golden opportunity of pioneering the good news NOW! And whether the remaining time be long or short, Jehovah’s sustaining spirit will assuredly bring untold blessings.
27. What irresistible power does Jehovah’s Word exert?
27 Like many of God’s people today, the prophet Jeremiah also had hard testings as the years stretched out, even to becoming “an object of laughter all day long.” Do you, too, sometimes find your territory unresponsive over the years? Jeremiah tried even to desist from speaking in Jehovah’s name, but then it was that the “word of Jehovah” exerted irresistible power in moving him to further bold activity. “And in my heart it proved to be like a burning fire shut up in my bones; and I got tired of holding in, and I was unable to endure it.” (Jer. 20:7-9) For Jehovah’s name and its vindication, he continued to serve zealously in integrity.
28. Will there be any further weakening of the Samson class? Why?
28 Likewise today, Jehovah’s people “have become a theatrical spectacle to the world.” (1 Cor. 4:9) Eyes, ready to reproach, are watching continually for any weakening, or “limping,” that they may find occasion against Jehovah’s “slave.” But will they ever again succeed against God’s witnesses? From 1919 on, the “faithful and discreet slave” has answered an emphatic Never! Joined now by more than a million companion worshipers, the “slave” can make the same fervent declaration as did Jeremiah: “But Jehovah was with me like a terrible mighty one. That is why the very ones persecuting me will stumble and not prevail. . . . But you, O Jehovah of armies, are examining the righteous one; you are seeing the kidneys and the heart. May I see your vengeance upon them, for to you I have revealed my case at law.” (Jer. 20:11, 12) With a confidence like that of Jeremiah, Samson and other faithful men of ancient times, Jehovah’s witnesses today rest their case with Him.
29. In what record is Samson included, and what encouragement do we find in this?
29 Samson is listed at Hebrews chapter eleven among those ancient men of faith who “effected righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, stayed the force of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from a weak state were made powerful.” (Heb 11 Vss. 32-34) He is therefore included as one of that “so great a crowd of witnesses” whose deeds of valor are recorded as encouragement for us to “run with endurance the race that is set before us.”—Heb. 12:1.
30. (a) Why should we continue to endure? (b) To what work will we show devotion?
30 Let us endure, then, in proclaiming God’s kingdom by Christ as man’s sure hope for peace, and for everlasting life. The day is fast approaching when nationalistic political powers and that supranational body, the United Nations, will be found at odds with “Philistine” religion. The supporting pillars of the “house” of false religion will fail it, just as Jehovah has caused his “slave” to declare down through the years. Satan’s great organization on earth, first its religious structure and then its political powers, will go crashing to destruction. Though we continue to be set as a reproach in the midst of this mounting crisis that involves all peoples of earth, we will bend might and main to make known Jehovah’s polemic judgments and to perform the irenic work that will result in saving ‘both ourselves and those who listen to us.’—1 Tim. 4:16.
31. What confidence and determination will we have to the end?
31 So, may we press on toward the prize of everlasting life in Jehovah’s new order, confident that his spirit will continue to sustain the “faithful and discreet slave,” along with the hundreds of thousands of the “great crowd” who are coming forward in ever-growing numbers to share in this grand work! And as we all heed the timely message of the prophetic drama of Samson, may we also be determined to follow closely Paul’s admonition: “Stay awake, stand firm in the faith, carry on as men, grow mighty.”—1 Cor. 16:13.
Philadelphia Record, August 28, 1940.
Declaration by Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America, December 12, 1918.
For further appropriate details on the drama of Samson, see the series of five leading articles thereon in the issues of The Watchtower from November 1, 1935, through January 1, 1936.