Sanctifying “the Holy One of Israel”
“And my holy name I shall make known in the midst of my people Israel, and I shall no more let my holy name be profaned; and the nations will have to know that I am Jehovah, the Holy One in Israel.”—Ezek. 39:7.
1. What situation now confronts mankind, and Jehovah’s witnesses in particular?
THOUGH two world wars have passed, bringing untold distress to mankind, the communistic “king of the north” and the democratic “king of the south” have again filled the earth with nationalistic propaganda. As they glare at each other over their respective nuclear stockpiles, they now ‘engage in a pushing’ through “cold” and “vest-pocket” wars. (Dan. 11:40) They croak about competitive coexistence, but each is determined that the other will cease to exist. As tensions heighten, nationalistic loyalties are whipped to a frenzy around the earth. The mastermind behind it all, the debased Satan, or “Gog of Magog,” thus maneuvers into position for his final assault upon the anointed witnesses of Jehovah, the representatives on earth of “the town of the grand King,” the heavenly Jerusalem where Jehovah resides by his spirit.—Ps. 48:2.
2. How did Sennacherib renew his threat against Jerusalem?
2 Turning to the record at 2 Kings 19:8-10, we find that the king of Assyria has moved closer to Jerusalem and is “fighting against Libnah,” only twenty-five miles distant. Now he sends threatening letters to Hezekiah, telling his messengers, “This is what you men should say to Hezekiah the king of Judah, ‘Do not let your God in whom you are trusting deceive you, saying: “Jerusalem will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.”’”
3. (a) What bullying tactics has the communistic “king of the north” adopted? (b) According to one commentator, what has resulted from the persecutions of Jehovah’s witnesses in the Soviet Union?
3 Likewise, in this post-World War II era, Satan’s boastful propagandists not only continue to gather all nations to Har–Magedon, but they also try to bully Jehovah’s faithful worshipers into compromising their stand before their God. The “king of the north,” now predominantly Communist, has been particularly bitter in his attacks on Jehovah’s witnesses. They have been subjected to a cruel propaganda. Moreover, it appears that up until April 1951 as many as 7,000 of Jehovah’s witnesses were arrested in the western republics of the Soviet Union and deported to slave labor camps in the Urals, Siberia, Vorkuta and Kazakhstan. How did they meet this threat to their Christian integrity? In his book, Religion in the Soviet Union, Walter Kolarz writes:
This was not the end of the ‘Witnesses’ in Russia, but only the beginning of a new chapter in their proselytising activities. They even tried to propagate their faith when they stopped at stations on their way into exile. In deporting them the Soviet government could have done nothing better for the dissemination of their faith. Out of their village isolation the ‘Witnesses’ were brought into a wider world, even if this was only the terrible world of the concentration and slave labor camps. There they met a large number of disillusioned and maltreated people and many were predisposed to accept their promises of a total change in the world’s political structure within the lifetime of the present generation.
With the proclamation of the Soviet amnesty in 1955, both the ‘Witnesses’ of long standing and their new converts either returned to their homes or remained as free laborers in their places of banishment. In this way the Jehovists . . . spread to many parts of the Soviet Union. They reappeared in all the Western Soviet Republics. They established new organizations in the former forced labor areas such as the Far East and the Komi Republic, where there are Jehovist branches along the ill-famed Pechora Railway line with its terminus at Vorkuta. The Jehovists also invaded Siberia and Kazakhstan, where they are particularly numerous. . . . A Jehovist organization was also established in Daghestan. . . . In short, the Russian branch of the Jehovah’s Witnesses may be regarded as one of the strongest in the world, and there is certainly no branch anywhere which receives so much adverse publicity from the secular power. . . .
Only the future will show whether Khrushchev has been more successful in fighting the ‘Jehovist’ danger than either Hitler or Stalin.
Hitler, Stalin and Khrushchev have now all had their day, but the reviled spiritual Judeans in the lands of the “king of the north” continue to expand their worship, to Jehovah’s praise.
4. (a) How did Sennacherib continue to reproach Jehovah? (b) How have the Communist propagandists followed a similar patern, and with what outcome?
4 Another account summarizes the second violent propaganda attack on Jerusalem in these words: “And [Sennacherib’s] servants spoke yet further against Jehovah the true God and against Hezekiah his servant. Even letters he wrote to reproach Jehovah the God of Israel and to talk against him, saying: ‘Like the gods of the nations of the lands who did not deliver their people out of my hand, so the God of Hezekiah will not deliver his people out of my hand.’” (2 Chron. 32:16, 17) In like fashion, the Communist propagandists have written books, including one of 159 pages entitled “Going by the Name of Jehovah God,” have published denunciations in Pravda and Trud and illustrated magazine articles, such as one in Krokodil on “The Spiders,” and have distributed derogatory films, two of these being entitled “Armageddon” and “Apostles Unmasked”—in an all-out effort to reproach Jehovah’s name and berate the preaching activities of His witnesses. But have Jehovah’s witnesses flinched in the face of the Communist assault? Reports from inside Russia say, No! The following is typical:
Being situated, as it were, at the factual heart of the “king of the north,” our brothers have sacrificed for Jehovah and his truth their entire life and all their possessions and belongings and are standing devotedly and loyally at the side of Jehovah God, the Great Sovereign and Theocrat. In this decisive and bitter fight for the faith they are battling in favor of their God Jehovah. The message of God’s kingdom is triumphing from the Carpathians to the Kuril Islands.*
5. What follies have the Communists committed, in line with the blasphemy of Sennacherib’s propagandists?
5 The blasphemous insults continued: “And they kept calling with a loud voice in the Jews’ language to the people of Jerusalem that were upon the wall, to make them afraid and to disturb them, in order that they might capture the city. And they went on speaking against the God of Jerusalem the same way as against the gods of the peoples of the earth, the work of man’s hands.” (2 Chron. 32:18, 19) Pitiable, blind propagandists! They think that our God is no stronger than the gods of clay and stone, the useless images of the nations. And though the Communists may have awakened to the hypocrisy behind the icons that their forefathers worshiped, what folly for them now to give glory to national heroes and the military “god of fortresses,” and to brag of their scientific accomplishments! (Dan. 11:38) How senseless for them to say, “There is no Jehovah,” because they have spotted no floating image of God from their tiny spaceships!—Ps. 14:1.
6. Who now joins in the propaganda campaign, and so where do Jehovah’s witnesses look for help?
6 And now, with the worsening world situation, the democratic nations of the “king of the south” are starting to churn out their own brand of nationalistic propaganda. At the height of the crisis, what will Jehovah’s witnesses do, who belong neither to the “north” nor to the “south”? Why, exactly what Hezekiah and Isaiah did! “Hezekiah the king and Isaiah the son of Amoz, the prophet, kept praying over this and crying to the heavens for aid.” (2 Chron. 32:20) What a fine example for Jehovah’s people today!
TRUST IN JEHOVAH
7, 8. (a) What plea did Hezekiah make? (b) Why would his prayer, as also that in Psalm 83, not go unheeded?
7 The account in 2 Kings (also, Isaiah chapter 37) describes the course of events in greater detail. “Then Hezekiah took the letters out of the hand of the messengers and read them, after which Hezekiah went up to the house of Jehovah and spread it out before Jehovah. And Hezekiah began to pray before Jehovah and say: ‘O Jehovah the God of Israel, sitting upon the cherubs, you alone are the true God of all the kingdoms of the earth. You yourself have made the heavens and the earth. Incline your ear, O Jehovah, and hear. Open your eyes, O Jehovah, and see, and hear the words of Sennacherib that he has sent to taunt the living God.’”—2 Ki. 19:14-16
8 In what was Hezekiah interested primarily—self-salvation, or removing the reproach cast on Jehovah’s name? Let his prayer concerning the Assyrian answer: “And now, O Jehovah our God, save us, please, out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O Jehovah, are God alone.” (2 Ki. 19:19) This reminds of another well-known prayer, which includes “also, Assyria itself”: “O may they be ashamed and be disturbed for all times, and may they become abashed and perish; that people may know that you, whose name is Jehovah, you alone are the Most High over all the earth.” (Ps. 83:8, 17, 18) These are prayers that do not go unheeded!
9, 10. (a) What answer did Jehovah give through his channel, and whom does this channel typify? (b) How do the remnant triumph against Satan’s taunts? (c) Who really is to be taunted, and why?
9 Will Jehovah prove his Godship? Will he sanctify his name before all the nations? The reply that he gave Hezekiah through his prophet Isaiah leaves no room for doubt. And this well typifies the message that Jehovah proclaims through his modern-day channel, “the faithful and discreet slave”—the remnant of his anointed witnesses on earth: “The virgin daughter of Zion has despised you, she has held you in derision. Behind you the daughter of Jerusalem has wagged her head. Whom have you taunted and spoken of abusively? And against whom have you lifted up your voice and do you raise your eyes on high? It is against the Holy One of Israel!”—2 Ki. 19:21, 22.
10 Try as they may, Satan and his dupes must learn that all their efforts to break down the integrity and worship of God’s people on earth are doomed. Taunts and abuse will avail nothing. The remnant of Jehovah’s witnesses continue to maintain Christian virginity, proving themselves worthy of espousal to Christ. (2 Cor. 11:2) It is the boastful Satan that is really to be taunted. What a fall he suffered when he essayed to exalt himself above the newborn Kingdom, only to have Christ hurl him down, with his demons, to become Gog of the land of Magog! (Rev. 12:1-9; Isa. 14:12-15; Ezek. 38:2) Gog’s schemings against “the virgin daughter of Zion” mark him for ignominious destruction. He cannot ravish her by carnal warfare. His final, vicious assault only shows he is actually fighting “against the Holy One of Israel,” Jehovah God himself.
11. What boast does the modern Assyrian make, but how does Jehovah answer him?
11 To the boastful Assyrian, nothing appeared too hard to attain, whether it be lopping down the lofty cedars of Lebanon or drying up the canals of the Nile. Likewise, the modern Gog, with his nuclear armaments of both the “north” and the “south,” considers no conquest to be beyond him. Only Jehovah has the answer for this tyrant. And it has been expressed with unswerving purpose through his prophets from times of old: “Have you not heard? From remote times it is what I will do. From bygone days I have even formed it. Now I will bring it in.” (2 Ki. 19:25) Even with the Satanic backing of Gog, no individual or organization on this earth can stand against the expression of Jehovah’s righteous judgments.
12. What fate awaits false religion and its adherents, at the hand of the armies of the “Assyrian”?
12 The “king of the north” under Gog will assuredly play his part in devastating the modern-day world empire of false religion. Revelation chapter 17 makes this plain, showing that Jehovah will use the “ten horns,” or complete number of national rulers on earth, in carrying out “his thought” or purpose, including the destroying of these religious systems. (Rev. 17:16, 17) In the same way that ancient Assyria devastated the “fortified cities” of demon-worshiping nations, so the armies of the modern “Assyrian” will share in wreaking havoc on false religion today. And as these nationalistic systems go crashing to their ruin, all who have sought refuge in them will indeed become “feeble-handed . . . terrified . . . ashamed.” They will perish as “vegetation of the field and green tender grass, grass of the roofs, when there is a scorching before the east wind.” (2 Ki. 19:25, 26) See also Revelation 18:9-19.
13, 14. (a) Wherein did the Assyrian make his big mistake? (b) What did Jehovah now declare, and what assurance do Jehovah’s witnesses thus have today?
13 But the Assyrian monarch himself has now made his big mistake! He has planted himself in the land that Jehovah gave to his true worshipers. He has closed in on Libnah, and Jerusalem—so he thinks—will be next. It has come to a showdown: Sennacherib versus “the Holy One of Israel.” Jehovah has the measure of his enemy, and he taunts the Satanic Gog: “Your sitting quiet and your going out and your coming in I well know, and your exciting yourself against me, because your exciting yourself against me and your roaring have come up into my ears.” (2 Ki. 19:27, 28) Rage as Gog may in the close confines of the land of Magog, he has met his match!
14 The kings of Assyria were accustomed to lead captive kings back to Nineveh by a hook piercing the nose. But now it is Gog’s turn! Jehovah declares: “And I shall certainly put my hook in your nose and my bridle between your lips.” The dastardly attempt to beat Jehovah’s faithful witnesses into submissive compromise fails! They have prayed to Jehovah, and made him their trust. Let the modern Assyrian mass all his forces. Let him conscript men by the hundreds of millions for the final assault on the citadel of true worship that Jehovah by Christ has built up in the earth. Jehovah’s witnesses will still hold fast to their Christian neutrality. They will not fall to nationalistic propaganda. They will remain secure in their strong tower, Jehovah, and nothing will succeed in blocking the song of praise and worship that they raise to his name. Jehovah’s word to the archenemy is final: “And I shall indeed lead you back by the way by which you have come.”—2 Ki. 19:28.
“THE SIGN FOR YOU”
15, 16. What sign did Jehovah give his people, and how must they act in harmony therewith?
15 Jehovah next says through his prophet Isaiah: “And this will be the sign for you: There will be an eating this year of the growth from spilled kernels, and in the second year grain that shoots up of itself; but in the third year sow seed, you people, and reap, and plant vineyards and eat their fruitage. And those who escape of the house of Judah, those who are left remaining, will certainly take root downward and produce fruitage upward. For out of Jerusalem a remnant will go forth and those who escape out of Mount Zion. The very zeal of Jehovah of armies will do this.”—Isa. 37:30-32; 2 Ki. 19:29-31.
16 It was already long past seedtime. Due to the Assyrian invasion, there was no possibility of a harvest that year. So Jehovah gave a “sign” in that he made a miraculous provision for his people. He caused an abundance of food to spring forth from the kernels spilled during the harvest of the previous year. But that was not all! The following year was to be a sabbath year, in which faithful Judeans must demonstrate reliance on Jehovah by letting their fields lie fallow. Would Jehovah provide? Surely faith in Him would have its reward, in a further “eating” of grain that grew of itself! And in the third year, the Judeans would again enjoy the fruitage of their own labor.
17. How has the first part of the sign been fulfilled in modern times?
17 This “sign” has had a marvelous fulfillment since 1914 C.E. At the time when the proud “Assyrian” and his mob make the holy city of Jehovah’s worship the “daughter of an invasion,” Jehovah sends forth his Son as ruler out of Bethlehem, his heavenly House of Bread, with bounteous supplies of life-sustaining spiritual food. (Mic. 5:1, 2) Gog and his hordes are powerless to stop up this miraculous provision, and it is assured, also, as long as Jehovah’s anointed people continue to keep sabbath through faith and by daily obedience to their God. This remnant of spiritual Judeans will be nourished to the end of Satan’s warfare against them here on earth, and beyond that. It will be shown that they are firmly rooted in the land of God’s true worship, and they will be established as eternal fruit bearers in the kingdom of God. Just such a remnant is to go forth in victory “out of Jerusalem,” and all of this will serve as a “sign” in connection with the sanctification of Jehovah’s name. “The very zeal of Jehovah of armies will do this.”—2 Ki. 19:31.
18, 19. What is pictured in the final part of the “sign,” and how do we see this in fulfillment today?
18 And as the final part of the “sign,” Isaiah prophesied concerning the king of Assyria: “He will not come into this city nor will he shoot an arrow there nor confront it with a shield nor cast up a siege rampart against it. By the way by which he proceeded to come, he will return, and into this city he will not come, is the utterance of Jehovah. And I shall certainly defend this city to save it for my own sake and for the sake of David my servant.” (2 Ki. 19:32-34) What comfort these words do provide for the anointed remnant and their companions today! However much Gog and his totalitarian hordes may threaten and revile, they may come only so far. It appears that, in their final approach, Sennacherib’s invading forces never got closer to Jerusalem than Libnah, some twenty-five miles distant. Oh, they howled their threats and shook their fists at distant Jerusalem, and Sennacherib sent his reproachful propagandists to browbeat and intimidate Hezekiah and his people. But in vain! Assyria was powerless to impose any real threat to the citadel of true worship.
19 As the modern Assyrian maneuvers to plant his nationalistic tents in the land devoted to Jehovah’s praise, so he, too, finds himself impotent as an opposer of the divine will. His prisons and concentration camps, whether Nazi, Soviet or Chinese Communist, have discovered no formula for “brainwashing” Jehovah’s witnesses. These have invincible faith. Individually and collectively, they stand impregnable against the enemy. Jehovah has cleansed the organization of his people from false, demonic religion and from the immoral ways of the world, and never will he permit the demon-controlled nationalistic rulers to break into and contaminate the true worship that is holy to Jehovah. For the sake of his great name, and of his Kingdom covenant which now centers in the Greater David, Christ Jesus, Jehovah defends the earthly representatives of his holy city. (Ps. 89:34-37) He prepares to lead the modern Assyrian back where he belongs.
20, 21. What dramatic reversal now took place before Libnah?
20 But look, now, at the drama that unfolds before Libnah! Sennacherib’s lackeys have returned to camp after serving final notice on Hezekiah. The ultimatum has been given! And there, sprawled out on the Shephelah, lies the flower of Assyria’s might, its grand army that knows no defeat—the sledgehammer that is raised to deliver the knockout blow on Jerusalem. The pride of Assyrian militarism is about to pluck one of its richest plums of conquest, “the town of the grand King,” Jehovah. Night settles down. All is quiet. It is like the calm before a storm.
21 But it remains quiet! With the break of dawn, an eerie stillness hovers over the camp. Nothing stirs. At last, some Judeans venture out from Libnah to investigate. Come all of you, and look! What a sight! For it happened “on that night that the angel of Jehovah proceeded to go out and strike down a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians. When people rose up early in the morning, why, there all of them were dead carcasses.”—2 Ki. 19:35.
22. How does this foreshadow Jehovah’s action at Har–Magedon?
22 It will be the same when the night of Har–Magedon settles down on the earth. Jehovah’s archangel and Executioner, Christ Jesus, will come swiftly, quietly, thieflike. There will be no escape for Gog’s mob. Their last taunting challenge against the assembled remnant of Jehovah’s anointed people will be turned back as God’s King proceeds to smash them with a rod of iron, and to mash them in the winepress of the wrath of Almighty God. (Rev. 19:15) It will be just as in Hezekiah’s day: “And Jehovah proceeded to send an angel and efface every valiant, mighty man and leader and chief in the camp of the king of Assyria, so that he went back with shame of face to his own land.”—2 Chron. 32:21.
23. What final fate befell Sennacherib, and what does this picture?
23 But is the arrogant “king of Assyria” to escape merely “with shame of face”? God’s righteous judgment decrees more than this. It is recorded concerning Sennacherib in God’s Word (and confirmed in the recently discovered prism of Esarhaddon*) that “later on he entered the house of his god and there certain ones that had come out of his own inward parts felled him with the sword. Thus Jehovah saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem out of the hand of Sennacherib the king of Assyria and out of the hand of all others and gave them rest all around.” (2 Chron. 32:21, 22) Satan, “the father of the lie,” will likewise find that his self-made religion is no protection. For Christ will surely bind him and hurl him down into the lifeless abyss, shutting and sealing it over him. (Rev. 20:2, 3) Only then will God’s true worshipers have “rest all around.”
24. As indicated in the type, how will Jehovah and Christ then be exalted in the eyes of many?
24 What an occasion to praise Jehovah! The account at 2 Chronicles ends with the words: “And there were many bringing gifts to Jehovah at Jerusalem and choice things to Hezekiah the king of Judah, and he came to be exalted in the eyes of all the nations after that.” (2 Ch 32:23) And as the morning of God’s new order dawns after Har–Magedon, we can be certain that all who survive will offer sacrifices of praise in honor of Jehovah and his victorious Christ, the Greater-than-Hezekiah. All the earth will come to enjoy the sabbath rest of Christ’s 1,000-year Kingdom reign, and—marvelous prospect!—the Redeemer Christ will be exalted also in the yes of many from the nations of mankind who will be brought back from gravedom by a resurrection.—John 5:28, 29.
25. (a) In what triumph do Jehovah’s worshipers thus share? (b) What grand privilege is now to be enjoyed, and on what should we set our hearts?
25 What a triumph for the heavenly Mount Zion! What joy to all who dwell securely behind its rampart, holding fast to true worship! “March around Zion, you people, and go about it, count its towers. Set your hearts upon its rampart, inspect its dwelling towers, in order that you may recount it to the future generation. For this God is our God to time indefinite, even forever.” (Ps. 48:12-14) How beauteous is this heavenly Zion, beloved of Jehovah! And how grand our privilege of recounting its glory to the “great crowd,” of the generation that will survive Har–Magedon and find everlasting life in an earth-wide sanctuary of praise! All together, may we set our hearts on the true worship of the one, true, eternal God, Jehovah. May the name of this “Holy One of Israel” be vindicated and sanctified forever!
See the 1961 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses, page 286.
Universal Jewish History, by Philip Biberfeld, LL. D.