Up with the True, Down with the False!
“And Hezekiah . . . continued to do what was good and right and faithful before Jehovah his God.”—2 Chron. 31:20.
1. (a) What did the year 1513 B.C.E. mark? (b) Why was it important for Israel to observe the pattern of the Passover?
THE year 1513 B.C.E. had signaled Israel’s deliverance from nationalistic oppression by the first world power, Egypt. It also marked the first Passover. On this occasion the Israelites obeyed implicitly Jehovah’s instructions given through Moses. “They did just so.” The pattern of the Passover became a memorial to be observed in Israel from year to year. “With regard to Jehovah this night is one for observance on the part of all the sons of Israel throughout their generations.” (Ex. 12:50, 42) It was important that they do so, for in this way natural Israel stayed in line to become the “congregation of the firstborn . . . enrolled in the heavens,” who keep God’s great antitypical Passover by exercising faith in “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.”—Heb. 12:23; John 1:29.
2. How did Israel show itself unthankful, but what splendid example of true worship was seen from 745 B.C.E.?
2 In the course of the centuries, Israel turned to doing bad, and became unthankful to its Deliverer, Jehovah God. Even in Judah and Jerusalem, where Jehovah’s temple beckoned to true worship, the Judeans fell away to paganism. However, when Hezekiah ascended to Jehovah’s throne in Jerusalem, in 745 B.C.E., he shone forth like a bright star in the line of Davidic kings. “And in every work that he started in the service of the house of the true God and in the law and in the commandment to search for his God, it was with all his heart that he acted, and he proved successful.” (2 Chron. 31:21) What a splendid example for all who worship Jehovah today!
3, 4. (a) What was next in line after the reopening of the temple? (b) However, what preliminary work was necessary, both in the type and in the fulfillment?
3 Hezekiah gave due heed to Jehovah’s command through Moses concerning the Passover. Its restoration was planned next in order after the reopening of the temple, and even before the Assyrian made his final, crushing assault on Israel to the north. “And Hezekiah proceeded to send to all Israel and Judah, and even letters he wrote to Ephraim and Manasseh [in Israel], to come to the house of Jehovah in Jerusalem to hold the passover to Jehovah the God of Israel. However, the king and his princes and all the congregation in Jerusalem resolved to hold the passover in the second month; for they had not been able to hold it at that time, because not enough priests, on the one hand, had sanctified themselves and the people, on the other hand, had not gathered themselves to Jerusalem.”—2 Chron. 30:1-3.
4 In the fulfillment, also, a preliminary work had to take place. Especially in the spring of 1918 C.E., there came a fiery testing and purging of all of God’s people on earth. The anointed priestly class were cleansed of a fearful heart. Repenting of the measure of compromise they had shown during World War I, they were again gathered to Jehovah’s worship. Now, as expressed in the Watchtower articles entitled “Blessed Are the Fearless,” published in 1919, they were “ready, willing and anxious at all times” to obey fearlessly the directions of their Lord, Jesus Christ. Conditions were right for renewing their sacrifice of praise to Jehovah, on the basis of the sacrifice of “the Lamb of God.”
THE CALL TO ASSEMBLE
5, 6. (a) What kind of couriers did Hezekiah send forth, and with what message? (b) What like pattern have Christian couriers followed today?
5 The invitation to share in Jehovah’s worship must be sounded abroad. Did Jehovah startle the earth by a miraculous proclamation through an angel from heaven? No. Jehovah used human couriers. “Accordingly the runners with the letters from the hand of the king and of his princes went throughout all Israel and Judah, even according to the commandment of the king, saying: ‘You sons of Israel, return to Jehovah the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, that he may return to the escaped ones that are left of you out of the palm of the kings of Assyria.’”—2 Chron. 30:6.
6 Since the year 1919, couriers from the modern-day Christian congregation have gone forth throughout the realm of Christendom, with a joyous call to assemble to Jehovah’s worship. After the pattern of Jesus and his apostles, who “went journeying from city to city and from village to village, preaching and declaring the good news of the kingdom of God,” and telling things profitable “from house to house,” these have appealed to the consciences of honesthearted persons still captive in Christendom’s religious organizations, that they may “return to Jehovah,” for salvation.—Luke 8:1; Acts 20:20.
7. What invitation has been extended, then and now, and with what response?
7 Who will support Jehovah’s true worship? Today, as in Hezekiah’s day, that is the vital question. Let all who truly love righteousness turn from divisive nationalism, and from pagan religion and philosophy. Let them un-stiffen their necks, and honor Jehovah, their Creator. “Now do not stiffen your neck as your forefathers did. Give place to Jehovah and come to his sanctuary that he has sanctified to time indefinite and serve Jehovah your God, that his burning anger may turn back from you. . . . for Jehovah your God is gracious and merciful, and he will not turn away the face from you if you return to him.” (2 Chron. 30:8, 9) Ah, but who will humble themselves before Jehovah? The Jews of the ten-tribe kingdom clung to their Baal worship. And today, the invitation to the unified worship of Jehovah at his temple has met only with mocking contempt by the clergy of Christendom.
8. What has been required of those heeding the call, but what “one heart” have they shown?
8 “So the runners continued on, passing along from city to city throughout the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, even to Zebulun; but they were continually speaking in mockery of them and deriding them.” It was left for a small remnant, a few individuals only from the northern tribes, to heed Jehovah’s call. “Only individuals from Asher and Manasseh and from Zebulun humbled themselves so that they came to Jerusalem.” (2 Chron. 30:10, 11) So, since 1919, only a small number of those professing Christianity have come out for Jehovah’s worship at his cleansed temple. The great religious systems of Christendom have proudly maintained their idolatrous stand as part of the world empire of false religion. But among the energetic praisers of Jehovah there has been “one heart to perform the commandment of the king and the princes in the matter of Jehovah.”—2 Chron. 31:12.
9. How does the ancient record point to the only way of salvation?
9 More than two hundred years before Hezekiah’s day, priests, Levites and others had abandoned the idolatrous northern kingdom at its founding, and had come up to worship Jehovah in Jerusalem. (2 Chron. 11:13-16) And now, those who came up out of Asher, Manasseh and Zebulun also placed themselves in the way of salvation. No doubt many of these continued their worship at the place he had chosen, his temple at Jerusalem, until Assyrian nationalism swallowed up Israel. Thus they found salvation with Jehovah’s true worshipers when “Israel went off its own soil into exile in Assyria.” (2 Ki. 17:23) In this day when nationalism is again on the rampage, may we also cling to true worship for salvation!
10. What cleansing work still remained in Jerusalem, and what does this indicate today?
10 Purification from deep-seated practices of false worship is not accomplished in an instant. Thus, as those Judeans and Israelites celebrated the Passover and the seven-day feast of unfermented cakes that followed, they had to give attention also to cleaning out from Jerusalem the remnants of demon worship. “Then they rose up and removed the altars that were in Jerusalem, and all the incense altars they removed and then threw them into the torrent valley of Kidron.” (2 Chron. 30:14) Onto the rubbish dump with them! Only with this cleansing work accomplished were they in fit condition to celebrate the Passover. This brings clearly home to us today that Jehovah’s true worshipers must free themselves of every last vestige of paganism. Images, religious emblems, altars, pictures depicting religious error—all of these must be gotten out of our affections, out of our homes, out of the New World society of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses!
11, 12. (a) What did the seven-day feast picture? (b) How should Jehovah’s witnesses regard the modern-day extension of the feast?
11 And what is pictured by the seven-day feast of unleavened bread? In this we see the continual spiritual feast that God’s worshipers enjoy as they ‘listen and perform,’ exercising faith in the sacrifice of “the Lamb of God.” Now in an approved relationship with Jehovah, they offer up spiritual sacrifices of praise, “the fruit of lips” devoted to him, witnessing to his name and kingdom.—Heb. 13:15.
12 In the face of bodily persecutions by nationalistic governments, spurred on by derisive clergymen, Jehovah’s witnesses continue to ‘preach the good news of God’s established kingdom in all the inhabited earth,’ and the witness keeps gathering momentum, down into these 1960’s. (Matt. 24:14) And what if the feast of service has been extended for a season, beyond the time we had expected? In Hezekiah’s day “all the congregation decided to hold it for seven more days, and so they held it for seven days with rejoicing.” (2 Chron. 30:23) Rejoice that you are privileged to praise Jehovah in all the earth, down to this year 1968!
13. What merciful provision has Jehovah made for those soiled with pagan religion, but with what final result?
13 Those who came from the northern tribes did not have time to cleanse themselves for Hezekiah’s Passover. So the king prayed in their behalf: “‘May the good Jehovah himself make allowance for every one that has prepared his heart to search for the true God, Jehovah, the God of his forefathers, though without the purification for what is holy.’ Accordingly Jehovah listened to Hezekiah and healed the people.” (2 Chron. 30:18-20) In modern fulfillment, many have come to Jehovah’s organization with soils of pagan religion. It has taken time for them to make over their minds to pure doctrine and worship, but Jehovah has seen their heart condition and made merciful allowance, encouraging them to share in the feast of praise. With the progressive revelation of truth from Jehovah’s temple, all have finally been “fitly united in the same mind and in the same line of thought,” so as to work shoulder to shoulder in the service of the grand King, Jehovah God.—1 Cor. 1:10.
14, 15. (a) Who shared in the joyful feast, and did Jehovah approve? (b) Of what modern-day assembly are we reminded?
14 There were others who joined the Israelites in their worship back there. These were aliens from inside and from outside Judah, who exercised faith in Judah’s God, Jehovah. They would include the temple slaves, the nethinim. “And all the congregation of Judah and the priests and the Levites and all the congregation that came from Israel and the alien residents that came from the land of Israel and those dwelling in Judah continued rejoicing. And there came to be great rejoicing in Jerusalem . . . Finally the priests, the Levites, stood up and blessed the people; and a hearing was granted to their voice. so that their prayer came to his holy dwelling, the heavens.”—2 Chron. 30:25-27.
15 All this reminds of another assembly for worship described at Revelation chapter 7. First, there come to view the 144,000 members of the spiritual Israel of God. Then, the vision describes “a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne [of Jehovah] and before the Lamb.” And why are they before the throne of Jehovah? “They are rendering him sacred service day and night in his temple.” So today, and especially from the year 1935, a “great crowd” of “alien residents”—close associates of spiritual Israel—are being gathered to Jehovah’s worship out of all nations on earth. Jehovah makes blessed provision for them, and the Lamb, Christ Jesus, guides them “to fountains of waters of life.” And finally, “God will wipe out every tear from their eyes.”—Rev. 7:9, 10, 15, 17; 21:4.
16. How may the “great crowd” gain life?
16 Is it your expectation to be of this “great crowd” that survive the modern-day threat of nationalism to gain everlasting life in the paradise earth? Then hold fast to Jehovah in true worship!
DOWN WITH THE FALSE!
17, 18. (a) To what did the Passover stimulate the people? (b) In the fulfillment, how does this fit in with the work of Jehovah’s witnesses today?
17 To what did the grand Passover celebration, the greatest since Solomon’s day, stimulate the people? “And as soon as they finished all this, all the Israelites that were found there went out to the cities of Judah, and they proceeded to break up the sacred pillars and cut down the sacred poles and pull down the high places and the altars out of all Judah and Benjamin and in Ephraim and Manasseh until they had finished; after which all the sons of Israel returned to their cities, each one to his own possession.” (2 Chron. 31:1) It was a clean sweep of false religion in the kingdom of Judah.
18 This well fits the polemic aspect of the work that Jehovah’s witnesses have carried on throughout the earth since 1919. There has been “toleration of no rivalry toward Jehovah”—no compromise with idolatry, whether Catholic, Protestant, Jewish or outright pagan. (2 Ki. 10:16) The plain truth from God’s Word, the Bible, has been proclaimed throughout Christendom, and to the other nations, exposing the war-mongering, nationalistic, idol-worshiping false religionists as rejected by Jehovah, the true God.
19. (a) In what has this polemic work resulted? (b) How was idolatry regarded by Hezekiah, and how should we regard it today?
19 This campaign of declaring “the day of vengeance on the part of our God” has freed many from the shackles of demon religion, so as to gain “good will” from Jehovah. (Isa. 61:2) It has been “right in Jehovah’s eyes,” no matter what the apostate clergy may think or say. Jehovah approves, just as he approved Hezekiah’s action: “He it was that removed the high places and broke the sacred pillars to pieces and cut down the sacred pole and crushed to pieces the copper serpent that Moses had made.” (2 Ki. 18:4) For this serpent, pictorial of Christ and his sacrifice, had come to be idolized, in much the same manner as the “sacred cross” is worshiped by many today in Christendom. Idolatry has no place with God’s true people, ancient or modern.—Ps. 106:35-40; 1 Cor. 10:6, 11, 14.
20. What was foreshadowed by Hezekiah’s rebelling against the king of Assyria?
20 Refusing to enslave himself to Assyrian nationalism, Hezekiah next took issue with Sennacherib himself. “And he proceeded to rebel against the king of Assyria and did not serve him.” (2 Ki. 18:7) So, after gathering the anointed remnant at the spiritual temple of worship, Christ led them out of slavery to nationalism and pagan religion, and on a campaign to proclaim the doom of Satan and all of his organization, with its unrighteous “heavens” and “earth.” In the year 1922, and for seven successive years, assemblies of Jehovah’s witnesses took up judgment messages that had first been proclaimed in Jehovah’s “heavens,” and sounded these forth throughout the earth. Notably, these proclamations, outlined in Revelation chapters 8 to 11, have pronounced Jehovah’s righteous decrees against the mighty organization, demonic, religious and nationalistic, that Satan has built up over the millenniums.
21. How was Satan put on notice at the Detroit assembly in 1928?
21 In climax, and as a high point of the eight-day assembly held in Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A., July 30-August 6, 1928, twelve thousand persons enthusiastically adopted a “Declaration Against Satan and for Jehovah.” This made known that “the great battle of Armageddon soon to begin will result in the full restraint of Satan and the complete overthrow of his evil organization, and that Jehovah will establish righteousness in the earth by and through Christ the new ruler and will emancipate mankind from evil.”a Thus the harsh ruler of the nationalistic governments that have dominated earth through the ages was put on notice that his opposition to God’s kingdom and its representatives on earth is doomed to certain failure.
WAR ON THE PHILISTINES
22, 23. (a) What action did Hezekiah take against the Phillistines? (b) What characterized this traditional enemy?
22 Hezekiah struck, too, at a traditional enemy that was entrenched in fortresses deep in the territory of Judah, to the southwest of Jerusalem. “It was he that struck down the Philistines clear to Gaza and also its territories, from the tower of the watchmen clear to the fortified city.” (2 Ki. 18:8) Does this have a modern-day parallel?
23 God’s Word shows that the Philistines carried on constant warfare against Israel from the time of Israel’s first entering the Promised Land. They were a proud people, and had utmost disrespect for the righteous laws that Jehovah made for Israel, such as the laws on blood. (Zech. 9:6, 7; Lev. 17:14) They were continually sending crusading armies or guerrilla bands against God’s people. Amos 1:6-8 mentions their revolts against Israel, and their taking many into captivity and selling them to Edom. Their religion was cruel and pagan, and featured a fish-god, Dagon, images of which were topped by an upright fish head, resembling the mitres worn by patriarchs and bishops of Christendom’s religious systems.
24. What long-time enemy especially do the Phillistines appear to foreshadow?
24 The Philistines appear to foreshadow long-time enemies of true worship on earth. One such enemy is especially the Roman Catholic Hierarchy, whose religious system is saturated with pagan Babylonish doctrine and ceremony. Throughout its career, the Hierarchy has fought tooth and nail against all who have taken a courageous stand for true worship. It has bitterly opposed the preaching of “this good news of the kingdom” in all the earth since 1919.
25. What present-day campaign by Jehovah’s witnesses parallels that by Hezekiah against the Phillistines?
25 Hezekiah’s campaign against ancient Philistia reminds of a campaign that Christ’s followers carried out in the earth, particularly in the 1930’s. At that time the Roman Catholic Hierarchy, as the principal religion of Christendom, had long been entrenched in the domain of worship rightly belonging to “praisers” of Jehovah. And just as the degraded Philistines of old dickered with the Assyrian World Power for political advantage, so the Roman Catholic Hierarchy of modern history had formed alliances with nationalistic dictators, such as that of the Lateran Treaty with Benito Mussolini in 1929 and the Concordat with Adolf Hitler in 1933. Not with carnal weapons, but with a power-packed Bible message, Jehovah’s witnesses took action to expose this political philandering on the part of Christ’s professed “church,” with its goal of world domination.
26. How did the modern Phillistines fight back, but with what success?
26 And the Roman Catholic Hierarchy fought back! As the “sword of the church,” the Nazi fuehrer took the lead in a campaign to annihilate Jehovah’s witnesses in Catholic-dominated lands. A Catholic priest of Berlin testified to this in an article in The German Way of May 29, 1938: “When Adolph Hitler had come to power and the German Episcopate repeated their request, Hitler said: ‘These so-called “Earnest Bible Students” [Jehovah’s witnesses] are trouble-makers. . . . I do not tolerate that the German Catholics be besmirched in such a manner. . . . I dissolve [Jehovah’s witnesses] in Germany.’” To which the priest added, “Bravo!” But Jehovah’s witnesses were not effectually dissolved in Germany or anywhere else. Hitler and his partner in signing the Concordat, Cardinal Pacelli (Pope Pius XII), are now dead, but the 8,000 Jehovah’s witnesses that survived the Nazi-Catholic Action concentration camps have now increased to over 80,000 in Western Germany and Berlin, together with many more thousands in East Germany.
27-30. How do Jehovah’s witnesses continue to wage spiritual warfare against “the Phillistines”?
27 Catholic-controlled governments and priest-inspired mobocracy have continued the fight to silence Jehovah’s witnesses. But by using publicity channels, the law courts and other legal means, Jehovah’s witnesses have waged a persistent spiritual warfare against the Catholic Hierarchy’s infringements on freedom of worship. This Christian warfare has been the means of opening the eyes of many honest Catholics and others, helping them to take their stand on the side of true worship. And what if some still have to endure persecutions at the hands of modern Philistines?
28 Consider Malawi! On September 17, 1967, President Banda of Malawi said: “The people in any area will have the right to say—‘Jehovah’s Witnesses, pack up.’ And if the Jehovah’s Witnesses do not pack up, well the Government comes in, arrests them and takes them to prison.” According to the Malawi News, printed in the Cinyanja language, of November 10, Mr. J. D. Gunda, a member of the Malawi Parliament, warned “people who belong to the Jehovah’s Witness religion which was banned by the government, that if any of them continued to be a Christian of this religion he will be severely punished by the government.” He explained “the government’s aim to end this religion and went on to tell them that if they were really repentant they should buy Malawi (political) party cards.” The Watch Tower Society’s missionaries have been thrown out of the country and thousands of Jehovah’s witnesses have now been arrested. In one area alone twenty-three houses of Jehovah’s witnesses were burned.
29 Then, too, look at Egypt (U.A.R.) where Jehovah’s witnesses were arrested at the time of the 1967 Memorial celebration. They were kept in prison for months because they were preaching the good news about God’s kingdom. The Watch Tower missionaries were expelled from Egypt too, and many local Witnesses were subjected to extreme torture. The Society’s printery in Greece has been closed by Government decree, the preaching of the kingdom of God has been hindered in a number of the Arab states, and all the Watch Tower missionaries were expelled from Burma.
30 Will such action on the part of nationalistic governments stop Jehovah’s Christian witnesses from preaching the good news? No! But they will be strengthened in the knowledge that Jehovah has passed final judgment and will shortly execute these, along with the rest of the world empire of paganistic religion. Jehovah’s decree is, Up with true worship, down with the false!—Jer. 1:10; Ezek. 25:15-17.
31, 32. (a) Why is Hezekiah a noble example for us? (b) How may we now follow in the foorsteps of the Greater-than-Hezekiah?
31 Jehovah’s witnesses have succeeded in their spiritual warfare, in the same way that Hezekiah was successful in putting down the troublesome Philistines. And how splendidly did the righteous stand of Hezekiah, on behalf of true worship, contrast with the apostasy of his predecessors and the paganism of his neighbors! “In Jehovah the God of Israel he trusted; and after him there proved to be no one like him among all the kings of Judah, even those who had happened to be prior to him. And he kept sticking to Jehovah. He did not turn aside from following him, but he continued keeping his commandments that Jehovah had commanded Moses. And Jehovah proved to be with him. Wherever he would go out, he would act prudently.”—2 Ki. 18:5-7.
32 May we, too, continue to act prudently, as we follow in the footsteps of the Greater-than-Hezekiah, Christ Jesus. May we be fearless in the face of threats by false religion and nationalistic governments, unflinchingly declaring God’s vengeance against this present Satanic system of things and comforting those who mourn at its unrighteousness. (Isa. 61:1, 2) Yes, may we keep ‘sticking to Jehovah,’ confident that he will ‘prove to be with us’ in our zealous worship and as we share in the eternal vindication of His name. But more concerning true worship’s triumph over nationalism in a future article.
a See The Watchtower, September 15, 1928, page 278.
[Pictures on page 151]
Israelites destroying sacred pillars of false worship
Modern-day Witnesses use Bible to expose idol worship