The Happiness of the “Nation Whose God Is Jehovah”
“Happy is the nation whose God is Jehovah, the people whom he has chosen as his inheritance.”—Ps. 33:12.
1. (a) What might older people think of the world before 1914? (b) What has been the state of affairs since that year?
HAPPINESS today? Is there any nation on earth that is happy today? Really, what nation could be happy with the world in the situation in which it finds itself today? Older people might look back to earthly conditions before the outbreak of world war in the summer of 1914 and exclaim: “Those were the happy days!” And, indeed, back there before that first world conflict there were some nations that were as a whole disposed to be happy, or at least gay. But not so today. For since 1914 C.E. the nations have continually been in a state of unsettlement, unrest, insecurity, suspicion and fear, and mounting distress, with the political rulers and the religious leaders not knowing the way out of the international mess and humanly unsolvable problems. For the younger generation of today, whose hopes should be bound up with the future, the outlook is becoming more and more hopeless. What pleasure may be got out of life, they feel they need to get out of the present, and so now is the time for them to have a fling!
2-4. (a) Despite world problems, is there indeed a happy nation today, and who may some have thought that nation to be? (b) What problems have faced that particular nation since the inauguration of its thirty-fourth president?
2 Despite all of this, unbelievable as it may seem, there is a happy nation to be found, and its happiness and joy increase as the world situation moves to its unavoidable climax. People now attaching themselves to that favored nation find happiness now. What is that nation, and what is the reason for its happiness?
3 No, it is not the most powerful and prosperous nation on earth today. However, that it was a happy nation and would be such may have been suggested by what took place on an inauguration day of one of its presidents at the national capital, Washington, D.C., January 20, 1957. The nation’s thirty-fourth president was being inaugurated for his second term in office. Following the custom, he was being sworn in with his right hand resting upon an open Bible. This Bible was not the British King James or Authorized Version Bible, but was the American Standard Version of the Bible as published in the year 1901 C.E. This particular copy had been given him by his God-fearing mother when he was about to graduate from the national Military Academy at West Point, New York, in 1915, the second year of World War I. His hand purposely rested at Psalm 33:12, which, in the American Standard Version, reads as follows: “Blessed is the nation whose God is Jehovah, the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.” In the later published version, An American Translation, of 1939, this Ps 33 verse 12 opens up saying: “How happy is the nation . . . ”—See the New York Times of January 21, 1957.a
4 By this gesture the reinaugurated president may have been suggesting that the United States of America was that blessed or happy nation or that he would serve in the presidency to make it such. But during his two terms in the presidency did he lead his nation into the blessedness or happiness spoken of in Psalm 33:12? Well, during his first term in office his nation became involved in the political struggles of North Vietnam and South Vietnam. (See The Americana Annual, 1956, page 356, about Indochina and under the subheading “Principal Events, 1955.”) Nor did difficulties with North Korea cease. Other troubles of the nation, both internal and external, domestic and foreign, have multiplied since. Why, then, has the blessedness, the happiness, for which the president hoped on his second inauguration in 1957, not been realized since? Why has the nation not proved itself entitled to such happiness?
5. (a) What is the secret to the nation whose happiness is spoken about in Psalm 33:12, and so what pertinent questions are asked? (b) Does any other earthly government qualify as God’s happy nation?
5 Some basic requirement has been overlooked, ignored. If we reexamine Psalm 33:12 we can easily see what is the real key to happiness for a nation. The secret is its God and its being his chosen possession. The verse plainly says, not, ‘Happy is the most prosperous and most militarily powerful nation,’ but: “Blessed [or, Happy] is the nation whose God is Jehovah, the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.” (AS; AT) So, quite properly, we ask: Did the nation’s thirty-fourth president lead his nation into choosing Jehovah as its God? By the Supreme Court of the United States of America this nation has been designated as a “Christian nation,” but has it worshiped Jehovah as its God and has it proved itself to be “the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance”? Where are the facts in favor of the answer Yes! even though the United States of America is the leading nation in Christendom? Such facts cannot be found. Nor can they be found for any other of the 197 nations among whom the name of Jehovah has been proclaimed by his witnesses for many years, not even for the Republic of Israel.
6 If we examine the neighboring verses of Psalm 33:12, we note these further striking details about the happy nation: “Jehovah himself has broken up the counsel of the nations; he has thwarted the thoughts of the peoples. There is no king saved by the abundance of military forces; a mighty man himself is not delivered by the abundance of power. The horse is a deception for salvation, and by the abundance of its vital energy it does not afford escape.” (Ps. 33:10, 16, 17) That is to say, the “happy” nation did not depend upon the military forces of this world, but its deliverance from the hostile counsel of the nations and the malicious thoughts of the peoples was by its God Jehovah, not by mighty men of war and energetic war horses. Such features do not distinguish the nations and peoples of this world in this most heavily armed period in all human history. The nations and peoples groan under the burden loaded upon them because of the expenses and demands of their military, naval and air force departments. Regardless of the prayers of their popes, priests, and other religious clergymen and orders, they do not find that without militarism Jehovah God delivers them.
7. How can we be helped in determining who the happy nation of Psalm 33:12 is, and what do we find the Bible tells us on the matter?
7 In these days when nationalism and patriotic pride are sweeping all over the earth, what nation can point to itself as the nation and people in whom Psalm 33:12 is fulfilled today? Who, indeed, is the “happy” nation, the “chosen” people? It will help us to find out if we look back at the nation of whom the inspired writer of Psalm 33 was a member, for he wrote concerning his own nation. From the beginning of its national history it had been favored with miraculous deliverances by this God who alone bears the name Jehovah. What a dramatic deliverance that was at the very birth of the nation, when it was delivered from captivity and slavery in Egypt after its celebration of the Passover in the year 1513 B.C.E., followed not many days later by that astounding deliverance across the dried-up bed of the Red Sea to the Sinai Peninsula, whereas the militarized forces of the Egyptians were drowned like rodents in the returning waters of the sea! No other nation in ancient or modern history can point to such a deliverance or anything like such in its national history. The eastern bank of the Red Sea was the scene of great happiness for the miraculously rescued nation. Truly Jehovah God had chosen them!—Ex. 12:1 to 15:21.
8. When were the people under Moses organized as a nation, and what was the first command given them by God?
8 In the third month after their deliverance from Egypt, this people under the leadership of the prophet Moses were gathered to the foot of Mount Sinai in the Arabian peninsula. There they were really organized into a nation, separate and distinct from all the other nations of the earth. There they were favored by hearing a voice from God declaring the famous Ten Commandments and afterward given those Ten Commandments in written form on stone tablets, the writing of these being done, not by the prophet Moses, but by the “finger of God.” These Ten Commandments were the first laws of the legal contract or covenant that was made between the nation and its heavenly Deliverer. The First of these Ten Commandments insisted that He must be their God. It read: “I am Jehovah your God, who have brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slaves. You must not have any other gods against my face.” No other god had shared in their deliverance and so Jehovah had a right to demand their exclusive devotion.—Ex. 19:1 to 20:18.
DEATH AND REBIRTH OF A NATION
9. How was this nation able to continue in a happy state, and how did Jehovah help them?
9 As long as the nation held to Jehovah as its God they were made happy. As long as they carried out their national contract or covenant as mediated by the prophet Moses they prospered in the land flowing with milk and honey into which their God brought them, in 1473 B.C.E. It was when they broke the laws and commandments of their national covenant and turned to worshiping the false gods of the nations roundabout that they got into difficulty. Faithful to his covenant, Jehovah God raised up special judges to deliver them out of the hand of their enemies. He raised up his fearless, plain-speaking prophets to warn them of the foolishness of a wrong course and of the terrible consequences to come from it. Because of wavering between the worship of the one living and true God and the false demon gods, the nation had its ups and downs. Because of the goodness of God to the nation, their second king, namely, David the son of Jesse of Bethlehem, wrote: “Happy is the people whose God is Jehovah!”—Ps. 144:15.
10. When did the happiness of this nation reach its peak, but what events led to the nation’s fall as God’s “happy” nation?
10 This happiness of God’s chosen people reached its peak during the reign of David’s son and successor, King Solomon of Jerusalem. (1 Ki. 4:20-25) This happiness of the nation was lost by the surrender of the rulers and people to the worship of idols and demons. Short-lived recoveries from such relapses into false worship did not prove to be thorough enough to save the nation from the disaster of which Jehovah God had forewarned them in the terms of his solemn covenant with the nation. At his own stated time he himself maneuvered the overthrow of its chosen line of kings, the destruction of the capital city Jerusalem and desolation of its national territory, the destruction of its renowned temple built by King Solomon at Jerusalem, and the deporting of a remnant of survivors to the faraway land of Babylonia.
11. What efforts did Jehovah make to save his people, but what attitude did they take?
11 Jehovah cannot be mocked for time without limit, even by the nation and people that professes to have him as its God. This fact is emphasized in 2 Chronicles 36:15-21, which describes the last days of the free, independent nation. There we read: “And Jehovah the God of their forefathers kept sending against them by means of his messengers, sending again and again, because he felt compassion for his people and for his dwelling [the temple]. But they were continually making jest at the messengers of the true God and despising his words and mocking at his prophets, until the rage of Jehovah came up against his people, until there was no healing.
12. Describe the end of that nation that had God’s blessing.
12 “So he brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans, who proceeded to kill their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, neither did he feel compassion for young man or virgin, old or decrepit. Everything He gave into his hand. And all the utensils, great and small, of the house of the true God and the treasures of the house of Jehovah and the treasures of the king [Zedekiah] and of his princes, everything he brought to Babylon. And he proceeded to burn the house of the true God and pull down the wall of Jerusalem; and all its dwelling towers they burned with fire and also all its desirable articles, so as to cause ruin. Furthermore, he carried off those remaining from the sword captive to Babylon, and they came to be servants to him and his sons until the royalty of Persia began to reign; to fulfill Jehovah’s word by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land [of Judah] had paid off its sabbaths. All the days of lying desolated it kept sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.”—Compare with 2 Kings 24:20 to 25:26.
13. What effect did the destruction of Jerusalem have on Jehovah’s name and upon the people of God?
13 With that overthrow of their kingdom, the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple of worship, the desolation of all the land of Judah, and the carrying of the remnant of survivors into exile in Babylon, the nation died. Because its God had been internationally known to be Jehovah, the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob, this national disaster brought great reproach upon the name and reputation of Jehovah. As far as the exiles in Babylon were concerned, their hopes became like a valley filled with dry, disassembled skeletons, with no human power for a resurrection. (Ezek. 37:1-12) Their national homeland in Judah and Jerusalem was no longer the “land” of a people with nationhood and accordingly bearing the name of “the land of Judah.” It became a land under a taboo, shunned by superstitious outsiders, the haunt of wild animals and birds, a wilderness and a jungle. This had been foretold in the warning messages of the prophets Jeremiah and Micah.—Jer. 32:43; 33:10, 12; Mic. 3:9-12; Jer. 26:18.
14. What questions are now asked about this nation, and what did Bible prophecy say?
14 Would this reproach against the name of Jehovah as a national God ever be lifted and his name as the Universal Sovereign be again clothed with glory? Would the nation that was associated with his name and rulership ever be reborn? Would the tabooed, shunned, jungle-overgrown land ever be brought forth again from its state of ruin and desolation and be internationally known as the land of Judah? Well-nigh impossible as it may have seemed to the pagan nations, especially to Babylon, this rebirth of land, nation and Jehovah’s temple worship was within the purposes of Jehovah God! It was written down in the Bible prophecies of Jehovah God!
15, 16. What was Isaiah moved to foretell about Jerusalem, and what promise did Jehovah make regarding his people?
15 The prophet Isaiah was one who was inspired to foretell in express terms the miraculous rebirth. For the consolation of the small remnant that stuck to the pure worship of Jehovah God, the prophet Isaiah was moved to foretell how God sitting as Judge in 607 B.C.E. would cause the uproar of invasion and destruction to fill Jerusalem and her temple and thus repay to all Israelite enemies of his worship what they deserved, but thereafter, in a remarkable way, the destroyed nation and land would be reborn. Said Isaiah:
16 “Hear the word of Jehovah, you men who are trembling at his word: ‘Your brothers that are hating you, that are excluding you by reason of my name, said, “May Jehovah be glorified!” He must also appear with rejoicing on your part, and they are the ones that will be put to shame.’ There is a sound of uproar out of the city, a sound out of the temple! It is the sound of Jehovah repaying what is deserved to his enemies. Before she began to come into labor pains she gave birth. Before birth pangs could come to her, she even gave deliverance to a male child. Who has heard of a thing like this? Who has seen things like these? Will a land be brought forth with labor pains in one day? Or will a nation be born at one time? For Zion [Jerusalem] has come into labor pains as well as given birth to her sons.”—Isa. 66:5-8.
17, 18. When did the “rebirth” take place, and how was it like the miracle of giving birth before birth pangs?
17 To the surprise of all the pagan nations who despised Zion or Jerusalem, this marvelous “rebirth” took place in the year 537 B.C.E., or seventy years exactly after the desolation of the land of Judah and of Jerusalem or Zion. The rebirth came very quickly as if not preceded by any birth pains, as if occurring before birth pangs had time to rack the body of the mother. How?
18 Babylon, which refused to release the Judeans from exile, held on to its world domination until the night of Tishri 16 (or October 5-6) of the year 539, the sixty-ninth year of the foretold seventy years of desolation upon Judah and Jerusalem or Zion. In the first half of the seventieth year, about springtime, Cyrus the Great, the Persian conqueror of Babylon, issued his decree permitting and encouraging the Judean exiles to return to their former homeland to rebuild the temple of Jehovah in a rebuilt city of Jerusalem or Zion. By the end of that seventieth year in early autumn of 537 B.C.E. [Tishri 1, 537 = Sept. 28-29, 537 B.C.E.] the faithful remnant were back and settled upon their beloved homeland, settling at the sites of many former cities.—Ezra 1:1 to 3:6.
19. What happened to Jerusalem after just a few months of liberation?
19 Thus there was no long period of birth pains in the form of any painful uprising on the part of the “children” of Zion (or Jerusalem) to break loose from Babylonian exile and fight their way back to their desolated land and reestablish themselves as a nation. Within a few months after the liberation decree of Cyrus the Great a remnant of true worshipers of Jehovah God were back in the land, which was no longer under Jehovah’s taboo. It became the land of a people with a local government, having a descendant of the Judean king David as its governor, and with a high priest authorized by Jehovah God. In this way, with its own territory and its own territorial government, the nation of the worshipers of the one living and true God was reborn. There was again a Zion or Jerusalem as a national government, and this Zion had its “children” or inhabitants and subjects clearing and recultivating her territory, the land of Judah. Worship of her God was restored there.
JEHOVAH GOD NOT FRUSTRATED
20, 21. “In one day” and “at one time,” what had Jehovah accomplished, and in vindication of what?
20 Who had ever heard of a thing like that? Who had ever seen things like those national, religious developments? It all occurred so suddenly, so unexpectedly, and without precedent. Why, without the trouble of birth pangs, Jehovah’s earthly organization Zion delivered into the realm of actuality the “male child” in the form of a national body of people. Quickly, as “in one day,” a land with a national designation was brought forth from desolation. “At one time” Almighty God Jehovah caused an organized nation of people in a covenant with him to be born, yes, reborn. As at the very time for labor pains to start Jehovah’s organization Zion gave birth to “her sons,” those who made up the “male child” nation. What else was this but the fulfillment of Jehovah’s prophecy, in vindication of his never failing word? He was responsible for this birth on the part of his earthly organization Zion. It had to come, without any miscarriage or stillbirth, just as he had foretold, saying in the next Isa 66 verse 9:
21 “‘As for me, shall I cause the breaking through and not cause the giving birth?’ says Jehovah. ‘Or am I causing a giving birth and do I actually cause a shutting up?’ your God has said.”
22. Who actually appeared on the scene at this astounding event, and to be the blessing of whom?
22 In harmony with those words of Isaiah 66:9 there was to be no frustrating of Almighty God Jehovah at the last and critical moment. And recorded history proves that there was not. At this astounding event no one else but Jehovah appeared on the scene of international affairs for rejoicing on the part of those “who are trembling at his word.” Whereas their religious haters and persecutors were put to shame, what true cause for unspeakable happiness there was on the part of the reborn nation “whose God is Jehovah”! The “joy of Jehovah” came to be their fortress.—Neh. 8:10.
a See the booklet published in 1957 entitled “Healing of the Nations Has Drawn Near,” page 5, paragraph 4.