A Bridegroom Goes to War
“ALL the world loves a lover,” is a common saying. When a young man newly married is called off to war, he usually has the sympathy of the whole community. Governments give consideration and often deferment to newly married men. In ancient Israel a man who; had first married was exempt from military service for a year out of consideration for his wife and that he might have an opportunity to have and to see an offspring and heir, for in Israel each man had his inheritance of land and if called into battle he might be killed and then there Would be no sons to carry on his family name and to inherit his property. Warfare was not so important that it superseded the rights of family continuance.—Deut. 24:5.
The bridegroom we are speaking of here is not some ordinary soldier. He is a commander. The duty to answer the call to war devolves upon him because the war is not an ordinary war. He is the only commander with the necessary qualifications to fight it. It involves the honor of the family name as well. Who is the commander who has such qualities and can turn from his very wedding ceremony, yes, voluntarily and gladly so? and how can he consider a war so important?
REASONS FOR GOING TO WAR
The Commander we speak of is none other than Jesus Christ. Yes, it is true that the religions of Christendom like to picture him as a mere infant in his crib or as a weak, effeminate, sorrowful, pathetic creature. But their picture is a gross distortion of the facts, for even as the religionists of Christendom will have to admit, if they read the Bible, Jesus Christ is no longer even a man. He is a mighty, glorified, immortal spirit person in the heavens. (1 Tim. 6:16; Phil. 2:9-11) He does not have to fear that he will not return from the warfare. There is no danger or possibility of his being killed and not returning to his Bride. The warfare is important to him primarily because it involves the name of his Father, Jehovah God, and, secondarily, because it is necessary for the protection of his Bride. The war is not just another war, for it is the final war against all earthly foes of God and man and therefore requires the finest Commander. Let us consider his qualifications as such:
In the Bible book of Revelation, chapter 19, immediately after the announcement of the “evening meal of the Lamb’s marriage” it describes Jesus Christ as going forth to war. God has just destroyed Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion, by the instrumentality of the kings represented in the “ten horns” of the scarlet-colored wild beast. (Rev. 17:16) The fight that Jesus Christ Wages is against the enemies of God still on the earth, the political governments that oppose God’s kingdom and that are trying to destroy the remaining members of the Bride, the ones invited to the “evening meal of the Lamb’s marriage.”
The scene opens with the Commander sitting on a white horse. “And I saw the heaven opened, and, look! a white horse. And the one seated upon it is called Faithful and True, and he judges and carries on war in righteousness.” (Rev. 19:11) A horse implies warfare, for long ago God said: “Can you give to the horse mightiness? . . . from far off it smells the battle.” (Job 39:19, 25) The Bible also uses the illustration of a horse that is dashing into the battle. (Jer. 8:6) Whiteness symbolizes cleanness, purity. Jehovah is clean and that which is in harmony with his will must be clean. This means that the warfare that Jesus Christ fights is righteous, holy and in harmony with God’s will, necessary and beneficial to humankind. He is the Faithful and True Witness. On earth he proved his integrity to God. He said before Pontius Pilate: “Everyone that is on the side of the truth listens to my voice.” He spoke of himself to the apostles as “the way and the truth and the life,” and his loyalty was firm to his Father and his God to his very death. The war he prosecutes is a judgment against God’s enemies and, in view of their past record, the fight against them is certainly in righteousness.—John 18:37; 14:6.
He is swift to ride against the enemy: “His eyes are a fiery flame, and upon his head are many diadems. He has a name written that no one knows but he himself.” (Rev. 19:12) Of course, the kings of earth do not see him with their natural eyes, for John says that he saw this vision in heaven. But they could see him, if they desired, through their spiritual eyesight, for much warning has been given. Nevertheless, they refuse to see. His eyes flash with “fiery flame,” looking to the fiery destruction of his foes. On his head the “many diadems” indicate that he has far greater authority than the wild beast that came up out of the sea, picturing Satan’s entire political organization on earth, which is shown with ten diadems. His rulership is greater than all of theirs together, being received from the rightful Source of all power and authority, Jehovah.—Rev. 13:1, 2; 2:26, 27; 12:5, 10.
The kings who fight against Jesus Christ try to ignore the information being proclaimed that he took his kingship in heaven when the Gentile Times ended in 1914. It is a fight over Sovereignty and the rulers do not want to give it up. They fight the Kingdom by fighting its announcers on earth. They try to legalize their fight against God’s Christian witnesses on earth, for they cannot meet Jesus Christ directly. They use various laws and try to twist them to apply to the preaching work of Jehovah’s witnesses. A case in point is the recent trial of forty-nine of Jehovah’s witnesses in Portugal who were arrested while peacefully studying the Bible in a private home in a suburb Of Lisbon. Under the guise that religious freedom is enjoyed in Portugal, Presiding Judge Antonio de Almeda Mora told one of the defendants: “You are not accused of illicit association. You are not being judged for worshiping Jehovah,” then went on to say: “There is no liberty for anyone who invents a religion and does what he wants in the name of God or whatever it might be. He has to be subordinate to men who rule the things on earth. . . . The principle of which you are accused is disobedience of a general kind and to the laws of the nation.” Finally, revealing whom he really was fighting, the judge asserted: “We have to adjust divine law to earthly laws. We have to interpret matters with logic. At times divine laws are aberrant.”
Portugal is a solidly Catholic country and the judges have the backing of the religious clergy. But at the time Jesus Christ goes forth to the war herein discussed, Babylon the Great will have been destroyed and the politicians will no longer have the Pontifex Maximus of Christendom and the priests and the religious clergymen and the military chaplains to pray to their religious gods for victory. They fight for a lost cause.
WEAPONS NOT DREAMED OF BY NATIONS
The Bridegroom-Warrior has “a name written that no one knows but he himself.” A name often has reference to reputation or qualities. For example, one having a name as a fighter would have the qualities necessary for a good fighter, such as fearlessness, alertness, strength, determination, endurance, and so forth. The rulers’ being ignorant of the “name” of their opponent Jesus Christ is partly because in the past the religious leaders misrepresented him to them. ‘They do not even dream of the powers and qualities he has. They do not appreciate that with the least, most simple of his Weapons he could render them completely powerless. For example, how easily a great military operation can be bogged down by a mere snowstorm. Or a change in the weather, a hurricane, an earthquake, a tidal wave, or any of a hundred other natural forces can render an entire military machine completely powerless in a few short hours or minutes of time. These are only the simplest of the ways by which the great Warrior for Jehovah can fight them. They should read Job 37:3-13; 38:22, 23; 12:17-25, and after considering these things they will find that these are but the fringes of his ways and a whisper of the power that Jehovah God has and which he has put into the hands of his Warrior Son.—Job 26:14.
“He is arrayed with an outer garment sprinkled with blood, and the name he is called is The Word of God.” (Rev. 19:13) What makes him the ideal commander and the one whose armies follow him with unbreakable loyalty and unswerving devotion? The fact is that when on earth as a man he did not swerve an inch from the pathway of sacrifice, giving his own blood in the interests of God’s kingdom and for the benefit of his followers. The outer garment with which he is arrayed testifies to this fact: it is sprinkled with blood. His official namea “The Word of God” designates him as the universal spokesman or mouthpiece of God the Almighty, therefore when he speaks it is with full authority.
“Also, the armies that were in heaven were following him on white horses, and they were clothed in white, clean, fine linen.” (Rev. 19:14) Notice that these are not earthly armies, for they are in heaven with their commander on symbolic white war mounts, and their clothing identifies them as righteous warriors. These angelic forces, all or many of them, have already engaged in a warfare in heaven against Satan and his demons and have hurled them down to the earth. As the Revelation vision shows, the demons since then have been unusually active in stirring up the nations against God.—Rev. 12:3-13.
This Bridegroom-Warrior is the mouthpiece or spokesman of God. What is the thing he speaks or commands at this point? It is a command or sentence of execution—annihilation—against his enemies. He is able to order their execution and see that it is carried out. That is why he is shown with a long sword protruding out of his mouth. (Rev. 1:16; 2:12, 16) Just as a sword represents the authority to execute to death, which authority has been wielded by rulers of the earth (Rom. 13:4), so Jesus Christ has this authority, higher than theirs. The nations with their kings and judges, such as those in Portugal, have had their opportunity to hear and are warned to “kiss the son, that He [Jehovah] may not become incensed and you may not perish from the way.” Stubbornly they have not listened. Therefore, he must violently destroy them as an iron rod smashes a vase, along with their national political systems, boundaries, flags, banners, customs unions, international alliances and every vestige of their organizations as well as those who continue to support them in their war against him. Ps. 2:12, 8, 9; Rev. 2:27; 12:5.
DO NOT COMFORT THE BRIDE’S ENEMY
None of Jehovah’s witnesses or those who listen to the message they proclaim will have anything to do with the fight, since it is far beyond their power to execute. It is entirely up to the heavenly forces under Jesus Christ to carry out. Yet Jehovah’s witnesses show their allegiance to the King. How? By standing firm in their recognition and declaration of his superior qualities, refusing to give aid and comfort to the enemy as the clergy of the religious organizations of Babylon the Great now do by promoting and supporting schemes for maintaining man-made sovereignty of the earth as against Jehovah’s sovereignty. They try to make the rulers feel that they can win. Oppositely, Jehovah’s witnesses on earth urge all who will to sue for peace with the victorious Warrior-Bridegroom while there is yet time. Persons who desire can comfort and assist the Bride class on earth, who are directing the preaching of the good news of the Kingdom, by sharing with them in this work.
There is no use for rulers and nations to go against God’s appointed and enthroned king, for “upon his outer garment, even upon his thigh, he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.” He is superior to them all. On his thigh, where the sword of authority is usually worn, his name is very clearly announced in writing. The kings of the earth have refused to read it, especially since 1914. The kings and rulers have thought themselves, or at least their form or system of government, immortal. But all of them are mortal. Only He will survive the battle and He will be the only king left on the field.—Rev. 19:16; 1 Tim. 6:14-16.
What a fine thing for the Bridegroom to be able to act on behalf of his Bride, sparing those members of the Bride who are still invited to attend the marriage and are in anticipation of it! He is privileged to fight a war that will vindicate the name of his Father Jehovah, clearing the illustrious name and the family of that illustrious one from reproach. But there is yet more to say about the fight. We often read of historical battles and victories. We rarely get a close picture of the actual forces involved and a close-up view of the fight itself. By reading the few remaining verses of Revelation chapter 19 now, you will find even more enjoyable the article in our next issue discussing these verses.
a Notice that he is not called “God the Word,” for he is not God but is the son of God. The apostle John wrote his Gospel after he had written the book of Revelation, and his words at John 1:1, 2 agree.
See pages 53-62, paragraphs 61-83, of the 64-page booklet “The Word—Who Is He? According to John, published in June of 1962 and free copies of which were mailed to all the available priests and clergymen of Christendom on November 19, 1962, for their information.
Said the Britannica Book of the Year 1963, on page 489, under the heading “Jehovah’s Witnesses”: “A further attempt to establish from the words of the apostle John that Jesus Christ was not a part of the Trinity was contained in the booklet “The Word—Who Is He,’ According to John. The first printing numbered more than 2,500,000 copies. Immediately following the assemblies a special world campaign was begun to distribute a free copy to every Protestant, Catholic and Jewish clergyman.
According to the reaction on the part of the clergy, the booklet was like a plague to them.