Commercial World Experiences Cause for Mourning
IF WORLD religion should lose its hold on the people today, would you be financially affected? Think carefully. If religion went out of business, would it affect your business or livelihood? You have to take into consideration, especially if you live in Christendom, the Christmas shopping season, you have to consider Easter with its incentive for new attire for the “Easter parade,” you need to think of all the exchange and employment in the sale of candles, images, crosses, religious objects, church construction and furniture, church weddings, funerals and the like. In fact, what activity of life is there, from the cradle to the grave, where the church does not have some influence, and most of these things with a cost attached? Many people, merchants particularly, think of the great religious holidays first in terms of the commercial aspect, the shopping and gift-giving and the like, before they do the religious aspect.
But an even greater influence in a commercial way has been exercised by world religion as it has had to do with the control of business. In whole countries, states and provinces the dominant religion often holds a large share of industry and business. Religion is often the factor that determines the individual’s business opportunities and employment. There is no denying that the religion of this world has catered to those members of its churches who are most influential in business. The concern has not been ‘How did a man get his money?’ but ‘Does he have it?’ Religion of this world has always had riches. In pagan lands as well as even in some controlled by Christendom, the poor are in poverty while the temples of religion are filled with objects of gold. Many of the temples and churches have spires, domes and the like that are covered with gold, making the building the most magnificent one in the community.
The Bible describes this world’s religion, false religion, as situated on “many waters,” thriving with commercial prosperity, teeming with businessmen carrying on commercial activities. Ancient Babylon, with the Persian Gulf, the Euphrates River and her canals with the Tigris River, had a great fleet of ships of commerce and did a great business by the sea. Many ships of other lands put into port, to her enrichment. Today Great Babylon, the world empire of false religion, sitting like a great harlot on the broad waters of “peoples and crowds and nations and tongues,” does a great materialistic business by means of such waters. (Rev. 17:1, 15, 18; Isa. 43:14) This provides employment for many of her religious subjects, especially through the many “traveling merchants of the earth.” Even her missionaries have knowingly or unwittingly opened up commercial markets abroad. She has not hesitated to stoop so low as to have dealings with gangsters and racketeers, religiously soothing their bad consciences and in many instances having her priests preside over their elaborate funeral services.
AN ECONOMIC CRISIS
With these facts in mind it is more obvious that the Bible is absolutely true when it describes what the fall of this great religious empire will mean. “Also, the traveling merchants of the earth are weeping and mourning over her, because there is no one to buy their full stock any more, a full stock of gold and silver and precious stone and pearls and fine linen and purple and silk and scarlet; and everything in scented wood and every sort of ivory object and every sort of object out of most precious wood and of copper and of iron and of marble; also cinnamon and India spice and incense and perfumed oil and frankincense and wine and olive oil and fine flour and wheat and cattle and sheep, and horses and coaches and slaves and human souls. Yes, the fine fruit that your soul desired has departed from you [O Babylon], and all the dainty things and the gorgeous things have perished from you, and never again will people find them.
“The traveling merchants of these things, who became rich from her, will stand at a distance because of their fear of her torment and will weep and mourn, saying, ‘Too bad, too bad—the great city, clothed with fine linen and purple and scarlet, and richly adorned with gold ornament and precious stone and pearl, because in one hour such great riches have been devastated!’”—Rev. 18:11-17.
When the ten kings, representing political powers of this world, turn against false religion (after they see the handwriting is on the wall for her) and destroy her, they will doubtless do much looting of her riches, properties and fine things and will fill their coffers, wrecking Babylon the Great as far as they can do so. They will loudly exult over all this. But in other quarters her desolation will cause mourning, not so much because her religion has been exposed as a fraud and done away with, but because of the widespread commercial devastation to the “traveling merchants” and their employees. They will have cause to join together in weeping and wailing, just as Revelation 18:17-19 describes it: “And every ship captain and every man that voyages anywhere, and sailors and all those who make a living by the sea, stood at a distance and cried out as they looked at the smoke from the burning of her and said, ‘What city is like the great city?’ And they threw dust upon their heads and cried out, weeping and mourning, and said, ‘Too bad, too bad—the great city, in which all those having boats at sea became rich by reason of her costliness, because in one hour she has been devastated!’”
Besides the “ten horns” of the scarlet-colored wild beast, will there be any others who have reason for gladness at the devastation of Babylon the Great? Yes, there will be, but their gladness will be based on an entirely different reason. The “ten horns” in their vicious demolition of false religion may think that they have proved surely enough, as false religions are saying, “God is dead,” that there is no god at all. But that will be as far as their gladness goes. The truly glad ones will have reason for real rejoicing, first of all because they realize that it is actually God who has Babylon the Great destroyed. They have got out of Babylon the Great before she goes because they see that she is entirely corrupt and does not represent the true God at all. They have joined themselves with the earthly servants and representatives of Jehovah, the God of true worship. Their worship cannot and will not be destroyed by the “ten horns,” for these are true worshipers, no part of Babylon the Great, whose destruction Jehovah supervises. Her destruction is an expression of his judgment for her sins that have reached “clear up to heaven.” Therefore, the gladness of those serving Jehovah is a clean, right gladness caused by seeing Jehovah bring to an end the reproach that Babylon has brought upon his name, along with the corruption and suffering she has caused in this world. They rejoice with God and with his heavens when he commands them: “Be glad over her, O heaven, also you holy ones and you apostles and you prophets, because God has judicially exacted punishment for you from her!”—Rev. 18:20.
The judgment of Babylon the Great is, therefore, no unexpected thing to those who serve God. They know now that it is near. The prophecy of Jeremiah 51:58 foretold that heaven and earth would cry out joyfully over the destruction of literal Babylon. This took place, and, in turn, it served as a prophecy applying to Babylon the Great. God’s servants on earth, however, have never tried to force this prophecy to fulfillment nor to avenge themselves upon Babylon the Great. They have known that it is God’s place to avenge them and to express his wrath for her sins in his own time. Now, however, they see that this judicial punishment is hanging menacingly over her and they are informing as many as will hear so that they may not be among the mourning ones a the time of her crash.
GLAD ONES ON EARTH IN HARMONY WITH HEAVEN
The twelve faithful apostles and the early Christian prophets have, of course, long ago died. Since that time many other Christian holy ones have finished their course in death. (2 Tim. 4:7, 8) At this time of the end, while this good news of the Kingdom and of Babylon’s fall is being preached, they are in the heavens, having experienced a spiritual resurrection to life. They will be among the chief rejoicers with Jehovah God and his Son Jesus Christ and the holy angels in heaven. But on earth there is yet remaining a small number of the entire body of the 144,000 of Christ’s spiritual brothers. (Rev. 12:17) These are supervising and taking the lead in the proclamation of Babylon’s destruction. With them, especially since 1935, is a great crowd, more than a million, who have hopes of living on earth under the kingdom rule of Christ and his 144,000. (Rev. 7:9, 10) All of these together are Jehovah’s witnesses in the earth and they rejoice with the heavens in the prospect of Babylon’s devastation. Even greater will be their rejoicing when they will have survived and actually witnessed God’s execution on Great Babylon.
Faithful prophets and servants of God of ancient times suffered sorrows from the persecution of her false religion. When they are brought back to earth by Christ’s resurrecting power and they are informed of what happened to Babylon the Great they will join in the gladness. For the present time, however, Jehovah’s witnesses are not spending their time merely rejoicing over the prospects of Babylon’s devastation. No, they are busy preaching the good news of the Kingdom to help as many persons as possible to avoid the suffering that will come upon Great Babylon. They are patiently waiting for God to bring matters about for her destruction and they know that it will come quickly, as in “one hour.” So they know that it is now or never for those people holding onto false religion, if they want to survive.
The great mourning that comes is because it is such a shock to Great Babylon’s adherents. It comes so suddenly, as a great surprise. But they can know now, in advance, if they want to. God, who sees the situation from a much broader and clearer vantage point, has his angel express it more emphatically.
HOW QUICKLY DOES THE CRASH COME?
“And a strong angel lifted up a stone like a great millstone and hurled it into the sea, saying: ‘Thus with a swift pitch will Babylon the great city be hurled down, and she will never be found again. And the sound of singers who accompany themselves on the harp and of musicians and of flutists and of trumpeters will never be heard in you again, and no craftsman of any trade will ever be found in you again, and no sound of a millstone will ever be heard in you again, and no light of a lamp will ever shine in you again, and no voice of a bridegroom and of a bride will ever be heard in you again; because your traveling merchants were the top-ranking men of the earth, for by your spiritistic practice all the nations were misled. Yes, in her was found the blood of prophets and of holy ones and of all those who have been slaughtered on the earth.’”—Rev. 18:21-24.
A great millstone hurled by a strong angel into the sea would sink fast to the bottom and would stay there. It reminds us of how Seraiah, King Zedekiah’s quartermaster, stood on the bank of the Euphrates River at Babylon, read aloud Jeremiah’s prophecy against Babylon and then tied a stone to the scroll and pitched it into the midst of the river, saying: “This is how Babylon will sink down and never rise up because of the calamity that I [Jehovah] am bringing in upon her.”—Jer. 51:59-64.
The great religious system of this world that has been willing to take any avenue to enrich herself and which has been very flamboyant with her church bells and music, her showy processions and her elaborate ceremonies for births, weddings and funerals, will be turned into a place of violence and desolation. She will experience God’s judgment, for her spiritual leaders have been really materialistic merchants, top-ranking men in worldly, nonreligious circles, reaching out for wealth. They have oppressed and defrauded their religious flocks, fleecing the sheep. They represented a religious system that actually practiced demonism, sorcery, magic, religiously drugging the people and misleading all the nations of this world.
WORLD RELIGION’S RESPONSIBILITY
Of all the calamities and terrible things that have taken place in this earth from the time that Babylon began under Nimrod, there is very little of it that you cannot trace back to false religion with its misrepresentation of God, its breaking up of unity among men by means of race, national and religious divisions, alliances with politics and suchlike activities. Therefore, God is speaking very factually when he says: “Yes, in her was found the blood of prophets and of holy ones and of all those who have been slaughtered on the earth.”—Rev. 18:24.
God’s law, given to the patriarch Noah after the great flood, said: “Anyone shedding man’s blood, by man will his own blood be shed.” (Gen. 9:6) Noah was the representative of his family, from whom all the human race have sprung. Therefore, this law is binding upon all mankind. According to this law Babylon the Great deserves to be put to death. She has an enormous bloodguilt before God. On her skirts is found the blood of even Jehovah’s witnesses, besides millions of her own devotees and others. Ancient Israel as a nation of Jehovah’s witnesses was opposed by the false religions of the nations around her. Eventually, false religion even brought into captivity that nation. When Jesus was on earth, he was opposed and eventually was put to death, martyred through religious persecution. We have no trouble calling to mind the religious wars such as the Crusades, the massacres, the burnings at the stake, the plundering of nations, the slaughtering of whole communities and the forcing of entire nations to be converted to a certain brand of religion by the fear of the sword.
An example of how a difference in religion inflames to rioting, mobbing, mutilating and human butchery was displayed when Hindu India and Moslem Pakistan were partitioned in the summer of 1947 and Sikhs and Hindus and Moslems gave vent to their religious hatreds. Concerning the religious slaughter that took place The Americana Annual 1948, pages 326, 327, says:
Unhappily, the speed with which partition had been effected brought in its train immense economic dislocation and renewal of bitter communal strife. More than 4,000,000 persons were involved in an exchange of populations between the two states, and during the first two weeks more people were killed each day in the Union of India and Pakistan than in all the countries under scrutiny at that time by the Security Council of the United Nations. The separation of Moslems and non-Moslems destroyed the previous efficiency of the vital services, . . .
The 1948 Britannica Book of the Year, page 385, gives us an evidence of the hatred that is caused by false religion and a violation of God’s law on the sanctity of blood. It says regarding the partition of the Punjab:
Amritsar, the sacred city of the Sikhs, was left in their hands. It had, however, the effect of cutting the Sikh community in two, 2,000,000 being in the eastern Punjab (dominion of India), and 1,750,000 in Pakistan; moreover, many important Sikh shrines and landed estates were on the western side of the river. This led to a concerted attempt on the part of the Sikhs to eliminate the local Moslems, which in its turn provoked savage reprisals. The result was a mass migration of Sikhs and Hindus on the one hand into the dominion of India, and of Moslems into Pakistan on the other. Convoys of refugees fleeing by road and rail were violently attacked and in many cases virtually annihilated. Both dominions did their best to ensure safe transit for the refugees, but this was rendered difficult by the reluctance of troops and police to take resolute action against their coreligionists. . . .
We all are familiar with the fact that the clergy, especially those of Christendom, prayed for the fighters on both sides during World Wars I and II, aiding in inflaming hatreds there. A British officer in World War I wrote: “The Christian churches are the finest blood-lust creators which we have, and of them we made free use.” (A Brass Hat in No Man’s Land) Leaders of world politics know that these men who claim to be for peace, not only failed to stop these wars, but sanctified them. Here was Babylon’s traffic in “human souls,” lives.—Rev. 18:13.
THE WAY TO BE AMONG THE GLAD ONES
Should we face the destruction of Babylon the Great, which is due to take place, with trepidation at the commercial loss and the economic crisis that it may cause? No, rather, great haste must be taken to get away from bloodguilt with Babylon the Great by turning to Jehovah God, dedicating ourselves to him and symbolizing that dedication by water baptism as quickly as we can, thereby making a request to God for a good conscience. (1 Pet. 3:21) Then, being God’s dedicated servants, we must be very careful not to become involved in the employment of or the financial support of Babylon the Great and must flee from any participation in her religious enterprises and any traffic in her religious objects. Even if losing money or having to change occupations to make a living now, it is far better to be among those staying completely clean from her. It will be a finer happiness to be glad over Babylon’s fall because of being on Jehovah’s side, with everlasting life in view, than to have a brief time of enjoyment with Babylon and be a mourner because of the loss of material things and, far more seriously, the loss of life.—Luke 9:25; Rev. 18:4.