Final Woes to Enemies of Peace with God
“The second woe is past. Look! The third woe is coming quickly.”—Rev. 11:14.
1. Science is obliged to recognize what concerning man’s peace?
MODERN science is more and more being forced to recognize a certain critical disturbing fact. What is that? That man is at peace neither with the works of creation nor with the forces that are in operation throughout creation.
2. (a) What have scientists made out of “nature,” and how? (b) Accordingly, how is man acting toward it?
2 This fact means that man is really at war with what the scientists call “nature.” By the term “nature” they mean “the material world, especially as surrounding man and existing independently of his activities”; also, “the sum total of the forces at work throughout the universe.” (The American College Dictionary) For a long time the scientists have made a deity out of “nature.” When speaking of it they use the feminine pronouns “she” and “her,” and even call it “Mother Nature.” Thus they make a goddess out of “nature,” inasmuch as they claim that she is responsible for man and his environment. She is supposed to provide these things and to operate the vital laws that govern them. Viewed from such standpoint of the scientists, man is not at peace with this goddess, but, as the only alternative, man is at war with this goddess.
3. (a) This way of science resembles what ancient pagan practice? (b) What questions does this raise concerning “nature,” and what is the Scriptural answer?
3 How much this resembles the way that the ancient pagans worshiped the various forces and operations of “nature” as gods and goddesses, even deifying the sun, the moon, the stars and the earth! When modern scientists make a goddess out of what they call “nature,” it causes thoughtful persons to ask, “Did Nature always exist? Or, Did Nature create itself?” But how impossible that is! The universal design and harmony and movements in so-called “nature” argue for, yes, call for, an intelligent, sight-possessing Creator, a lone Designer and Controller of the whole creation. This one Creator is God. Starting with the beginning of things, the opening words of The Holy Bible show a good sense of orderliness and say: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”—Gen. 1:1.
4. With whom therefore is man not at peace?
4 From this fact it reasonably follows, then, that, through not being at peace with “nature,” modern man is not at peace with God, for God is the Creator of “nature.” This fact makes it serious.
5. (a) Because of ruining his environment and moral climate, man must be in what relationship with the Creator? (b) Because of turning to modern “science,” man has put himself out of peace with God in what other respect?
5 How can man be at peace with his Creator when he is ruining the natural environment, the earthly surroundings, in which he lives, and is thus hastening his own destruction? He is also ruining the moral climate in which mankind should live, and is reaping an increase in crime and moral looseness. It is quite proper for man to turn away from false religious teachings, but at the same time he mistakenly turns to a type of modern-day thinking and teaching that is falsely called “science,” for “science” basically means “knowledge,” that is, a true knowledge. (1 Tim. 6:20, 21) He is thus ruining his understanding of the truth and is destroying his appreciation of the Book of Truth, The Holy Bible, the Sacred Scriptures. He is putting himself at odds with Jesus Christ, for this Son of God said with respect to the Word of God: “Your word is truth.” (John 17:17) In these respects also, and not alone in connection with his natural environment, man finds himself not to be at peace with God, for the living and true God is a God of good morals and of truth.—Ps. 31:5; 117:2.
6. What does God desire regarding estranged mankind, and so what has he done in this behalf?
6 Very evidently, then, the eternal salvation of mankind lies in their getting back into peace with God. This is, in fact, the very thing that man’s Creator desires, for he knows that war carried on against him by mankind spells the utter destruction of mankind. Because he knows that mankind needs to be reconciled with him through his intermediary Jesus Christ, he has sent forth faithful followers of Christ to appeal to estranged mankind, saying: “As substitutes for Christ we beg: ‘Become reconciled to God.’”—2 Cor. 5:20.
7. Strangely, who today are the most bitter enemies of man’s peace with God, like whom in apostolic days?
7 But, just as nineteen centuries ago in the days of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ there were enemies of man’s gaining peace with God through Christ, even so there are such today. Strangely, the most strenuous enemies of peace with God today are hypocritical followers of Jesus Christ, so-called Christians, particularly their religious clergy, Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant, who take the lead in this hostility to peace with God on a proper basis. And yet, back in the days of Christ’s apostles, it was his own people who, although claiming to be still the chosen people of Jehovah God, were most bitter enemies of peace with God.
8. (a) Roughly, Christendom makes up what part of the world population? (b) What controversial questions have arisen as regards Christendom and Jehovah’s witnesses, and how or by what rule can the matter be settled?
8 The so-called Christian world, or Christendom, is the most populous religious system on earth today. Roughly, it makes up a third of the world, for the world population today is estimated as being 3,420,000,000, whereas Christendom is made up of 977,383,000 professed Christians. Because Jehovah’s Christian witnesses hold strictly aloof from Christendom, the religious clergy of all denominations have branded them as not being Christians. It irks these clergymen that those who make up this minority group of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses have come out mainly from the religious sects of Christendom rather than principally out of pagandom. Hence for decades the controversy has been, Who are the real Christians ordained of God? Who are preaching the true kingdom of God? Jehovah’s witnesses or the religious sectarians of Christendom? By what rule can the controversy be settled? By the rule laid down by Jesus Christ, when he warned against false and hypocritical Christians, saying: “Really, then, by their fruits you will recognize those men.”—Matt. 7:20.
9. What foretold activity of Jehovah’s witnesses has been specially objectionable, to which elements, and why?
9 Jehovah’s witnesses have laid great stress upon Jesus’ prophecy concerning the sign of the end of this system of things. namely: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matt. 24:14) In addition to using sound-equipment horns or loudspeakers, they have used all the modern means of publicity, by printed page and by sound of voice, to spread the Kingdom message world wide. That preaching of the good news of God’s kingdom has included the declaring of the “day of vengeance on the part of our God,” the divine vengeance with which the end comes upon the enemies of the good news. (Isa. 61:1, 2) Contrary to what we might expect of people who profess to be Christians, that preaching of God’s kingdom has been very objectionable to Christendom, and not just to the radical elements who believe in godless materialistic governments like those of socialism and communism. Both to Christendom and to radical elements the preaching of God’s vengeance has been devastating and painful like the effects produced by heavenly angels sounding loud trumpets, as described in Revelation, chapters eight through eleven.
10, 11. Like what were the effects produced by developments after the first angel sounded his trumpet?
10 What would you think if a third of the earth’s surface were burned over, and a third of the trees were burned, together with all the green vegetation? You would expect that to produce a great unbalancing of conditions in man’s natural environment, would you not? Well, that is what seemed to occur following the blowing of the trumpet by the first of God’s seven angelic trumpeters; yes, according to the religious sensibilities of Christendom, the membership of which is about a third of the world. What Jehovah’s witnesses began proclaiming by word of mouth and by printed publications of the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society after World War I was like “hail and fire mingled with blood” hurled down from on high to the earth.—Rev. 8:2, 6, 7.
11 To the high ones, like “trees,” and to the low ones, like the “green vegetation” or grass, the message preached was inflammatory and consuming, hard-hitting and death-dealing.
12. How did the message preached have effects (a) like hail, (b) like fire, and (c) like blood?
12 The message preached contained the heavenly truth of God’s written Word, all right, but these truths were not like refreshing drops of rain. They were, rather, like hard cold hail that beat down upon both clergy and their church members, stunning them with Bible truth forcefully presented, unsparingly. They were fiery, consuming the sham of Christianity that the treelike clergy and the vegetation-like laity wore, burning them up as Christians, as it were, proving that Christendom was not Christian, either in doctrine or in practice. World War I had made her religious hypocrisy stand out glaringly. The shedding of blood during that world war was death-dealing to the poor victims; and, similarly, the postwar preaching of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses was death-dealing in that it showed how Christendom was doomed to eventual death and that those sticking with her till the time of her destruction would die with her. Spiritual life was not to be gained even now by means of Christendom. (Rev. 8:7) Further exposing her own lack of true Christianity, Christendom struck back by persecuting these preachers of God’s Kingdom.
RADICALISM UNDER DIVINE JUDGMENT
13, 14. (a) To whose religious failure is the rise and spread of communism charged? (b) What scenic effects went following the second angel’s blowing his trumpet?
13 Even according to the frank statements of a number of religious clergymen, godless communism was largely due to the religious hypocrisy of Christendom and its favoritism toward the materially rich and politically powerful as against the oppressed poor people. Christendom’s failure to live up to the image of Jesus Christ left a vacuum that materialistic communism tried to fill, both by persuasive means and by violent compulsion. Thus through the rise and spread of international communism a great flaming political issue was hurled in among the disturbed, restless, aspiring peoples of the earth.
14 How would it affect you emotionally if you saw a motion picture showing a flaming earth-mass like a great mountain being hurled into the sea, and a third of the sea becoming blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea being killed, and a third of the seagoing vessels being wrecked? You would shudder and say it was a horror picture! Well, those were the scenic effects that followed the blowing of the trumpet by the second of God’s seven angelic trumpeters. Do you grasp the meaning of those scenic effects?—Rev. 8:8, 9.
15. How was the issue of radical communism thrown to the symbolic “sea,” and what did it claim to be and promise?
15 Small to begin with, in once-czarist Russia, international communism has seized other countries and has aggressively extended itself to take in a third of the world’s population. Like a large-looming mountain, which the Bible uses to symbolize a national government, this issue of radical communism as a desirable form of rulership for mankind was thrown abruptly to the sea of agitated mankind near the close of World War I, or in November of 1917. It claimed to be the liberator of the downtrodden peoples, promising to bring to them a more abundant materialistic life with the equality of comradeship, free of political and religious despotism. It needed the coming of no Messiah from God to bring in a paradise on earth for the people.
16. (a) What stand did Jehovah’s witnesses at once take toward the issue? (b) How has the impact of communism been productive of symbolic “blood” and shipwreck?
16 Jehovah’s witnesses did not wait for the arrival of the year 1969 to let history first show us what international communism would bring to the sea of mankind, which was so restless because of not having the peace of God or peace with Him. (Isa. 57:20, 21) As ambassadors for God’s Messiah or Christ, they at once spoke out for the symbolic mountain of God’s Messianic kingdom. In stark contrast with it, godless communism was like a burnt-out mountain, destroying itself in its own flames. Its impact upon the sea of surging humanity was not to be life-giving. It would result in death as symbolized by shed blood. Not to speak of premature violent death to many persons, it brought spiritual death to its adherents. It deadened any hope of a person’s resurrection from the dead and of gaining life everlasting in an earthly paradise under God’s kingdom. It doomed those that would be found adhering to international communism at Har–Magedon to death and destruction. According to what godless communism brought to the people, every creature soul died in that bloody Communist element; every boatlike organization must suffer wreckage.
BITTER WATER FROM RELIGIOUS STARS
17. After the third angel blew his trumpet, John saw fresh waters turned to wormwood in what way, and by what?
17 Turning seawater into blood is one thing, and turning fresh water into bitter water is another thing, and both are due to different factors. Would you think, though, that a “star” could turn fresh water to bitter? Such a star could do so, if it lived up to its name Wormwood or Absinthe, a bitter plant of which several varieties are found in the Mideast. The apostle John saw this happen in a tableau scene after the third one of God’s angelic trumpeters blew his trumpet. John saw a “star burning as a lamp” fall from heaven and down into a third of the rivers and water fountains, thus making a third of the fresh waters bitter like wormwood, so much so that “many of the men” died from drinking them. (Rev. 8:10, 11) Such a star named Wormwood or Absinthe fell from its high position where it could serve as a guide to men and steer them to refreshing waters of life.
18. Whom does that burning fallen “star” picture, and why appropriately so?
18 Figuratively speaking, a “star” should shed heavenly light upon men, like those seven figurative stars that John saw being held in the right hand of the glorified Jesus Christ and that symbolized the spiritual overseers of the Christian congregations. (Rev. 1:16, 20; 3:1) In its being a fallen “star” and being able to affect the drinking water of possibly a third of the men disastrously, this “star” named Wormwood pictured the religious clergy of Christendom, whose population embraces “many of the men,” about a third of earth’s population. Claiming to be a Christian clergy ordained by God as ministers, they are apostate religious leaders, produced by apostate religious systems. Their fall from their high position of Christian opportunity brings about their own destruction, like that of a “star burning as a lamp” but being consumed in its own blaze. Like a star in the sky it should have beamed down heavenly or spiritual light upon the people of Christendom, guiding them to the refreshing waters of Christian truth found in the Bible, and to a course in life in harmony with those Bible truths.
19. Figuratively speaking, how has that “star” Wormwood embittered the fresh waters, fatally for many?
19 Today, in this year 1969, we can see more clearly than ever before how the clergy of Christendom have miserably failed in their professed Christian mission. They have taught their church people religious doctrines that have been bitter to their spiritual taste, adulterating God’s Word with pagan doctrines or exalting the traditions of uninspired men above the Bible. They have led Christendom in a course of active association with this wicked world that has made church people the enemies of God and that has brought spiritual death to them now and that leads on to literal physical death during the approaching “day of vengeance on the part of our God.” It has been a bitter potion that the clergy have given their church people to drink thus far, but the greatest bitterness of this clergy-given potion will be tasted by them at Har–Magedon. There a destruction awaits them at God’s hand because of swallowing and following the religious doctrine and counsel of this fallen “star” named Wormwood!—Jas. 4:4; Isa. 61:1, 2; Rev. 16:14, 16.
DARKNESS WHERE THERE OUGHT TO BE LIGHT
20. What did John see happen after the fourth angel blew his trumpet?
20 Now imagine the blacking out of a third of the daytime, and then the blacking out of a third of the night, with no light from the moon and the innumerable stars! Such a phenomenon the apostle John next saw. He writes: “And the fourth angel blew his trumpet. And a third of the sun was smitten and a third of the moon and a third of the stars, in order that a third of them might be darkened and the day might not have illumination for a third of it, and the night likewise.”—Rev. 8:12.
21. In what Age of human history has the fulfillment of this occurred, and upon what third of mankind?
21 The fulfillment of this prophetic tableau has come at a time in human history that modern men call the Age of Enlightenment. Amid this human boasting, Christendom claims to be the most enlightened part of the world, and she estimates herself to comprehend about a third of the world of mankind by her program of world conversion. Enlightened, yes, in a scientific sense to a large extent. But what about being enlightened religiously?
22. Where does this type of darkness exist, but, according to the claims made, what should be the state of enlightenment there?
22 In the segment of the world’s population where there should be the greatest enlightenment in a religious way, there exists the greatest religious darkness. That large segment is Christendom! As she has viewed the religious situation, heathendom, as she calls it, has been groping in the dense darkness of false worship, but she, on the other hand, has been basking in the light of God’s truth and favor. If she were living up to the claim of being the realm of true Christianity, that ought to be the case. For centuries she has enjoyed the circulation of the one Book of Light, The Holy Bible, to the circulation by now of two billion copies, in more than thirteen hundred languages. Her clergy have been ordained to preach that Bible, and have been assigned the time and been paid the money to teach the Bible as full-time preachers for life. Reasonably, this should have resulted in making Christendom the most intelligent in regard to the Holy Bible and the most deserving of the light of God’s favor and blessing. But the apostle John presented the picture otherwise!
23. (a) What have Jehovah’s witnesses long pointed out regarding the condition of Christendom as to the true light? (b) How have they answered the question as regards Christianity and Christendom?
23 Like the apostle John, Jehovah’s Christian witnesses of today have long pointed out that the religious situation is otherwise with Christendom. Not that “heathendom” is not in gross religious darkness, but that the contrary should have been expected of Christendom on the basis of her claims. By day and by night she should have enjoyed the light of God’s truth and favor. With her it is now as Jesus Christ said: “If in reality the light that is in you is darkness, how great that darkness is!” (Matt. 6:23) Christendom’s imagined religious enlightenment is in reality religious darkness, to her own great deception. Jehovah’s Christian witnesses have rightly raised the challenging question, “Christianity or Christendom—which is the ‘light of the world’?” To this question they have straightforwardly answered, Not Christendom, but Christianity! Christendom has proved false to her name. Her not having the Bible truth is an evidence that she does not have the light of God’s favor and blessing. His light has been cut off from her, day and night. Her future is just as dark as that of the rest of the world of mankind.
24, 25. (a) Under whose guidance were Jehovah’s witnesses evidently acting, and how had Christendom been affected by the part these Witnesses played in connection with those four trumpets? (b) What did John now see and hear?
24 As those foregoing prophetic scenes were shown following the blowing of the trumpets by the first four angels of God, doubtless those whom God has used to point out the fulfilled facts to earth’s inhabitants have been under angelic guidance. (Heb. 1:14; Matt. 24:31) To the people, especially to Christendom, it was already painful enough for Jehovah’s Christian witnesses to make public, as if by widely sounding trumpet blasts, the modern realization of those four prophetic tableaux. It would do no good for Christendom to yell out, “Enough!” There were yet three prophetic tableaux that the people must be made to see, yes, be made to feel. The fulfillment of these final tableaux would outstandingly be woes to people dwelling on the earth. The interruption of events after the sounding of the fourth trumpet allowed for a warning of this special woe to be widely announced with eagle-like foresight. Before the blowing of the fifth trumpet the apostle John writes:
25 “And I saw, and I heard an eagle flying in midheaven say with a loud voice: ‘Woe, woe, woe to those dwelling on the earth because of the rest of the trumpet blasts of the three angels who are about to blow their trumpets!’”—Rev. 8:13.
26. From where do those further woes come, and who have nothing to fear therefrom?
26 Those woes are, not for the angels of heaven, but for human creatures, “those dwelling on the earth.” Those woes came from God, who authorizes and appoints his angels to blow the attention-arousing trumpets. Those at peace with God have nothing to fear from those woes; only the enemies of peace with God.
THE TORMENTING LOCUST PLAGUE
27. What were the desire and effort of Christendom’s clergy as to the Kingdom witnesses during World War I, and how far did they realize their aim?
27 Already as early as in the midst of the first world war (of 1914-1918 C.E.) the clergy of Christendom, together with their political and military allies, had decided that they had experienced enough religious trouble with the Christian witnesses for Jehovah God and his kingdom by Christ. They took advantage of the war conditions and of wartime laws to put to death the public activities carried on by these witnesses. They did not like to be notified that the “times of the Gentiles” had run out in the year 1914 and that these witnesses had been vindicated by world events in pointing forward for decades to that year as the time for God’s kingdom by Christ to come into full control in the heavens, with authority to oust the Gentile nations from the earth. The cry of the clergy was, “Kill the witnesses!” That is to say, Cause these International Bible Students to cease from being witnesses in public to God’s kingdom of his Messiah or Christ. With the aid of the political and military powers they succeeded in technically ‘killing the witnesses’ by the middle of the year 1918, just some months before World War I ended.
28. How did this affect the activity and organization of the “witnesses,” and into what low condition did they come figuratively?
28 Thus the extensive public witnessing work ended, even those who were foremost in the witnessing work being put behind prison bars under long-term sentences, also the witnessing organization being badly disrupted, limited. The “witnesses” were as if in the “pit of the abyss.” Being figuratively in such a low location, they were like out of sight and as dead, dead as to being courageous, organized, well-equipped witnesses to God’s established Messianic kingdom. But not for long. Who loosed them?
29. After the fifth trumpet peal, the symbolic “star” that John sees proves to be whom according to its mission and its name?
29 With a loud trumpet peal the fifth angel announced the loosing of the abyssed “witnesses” and their work that followed. Was this to be a “woe” to “those dwelling on the earth”? With prophetic vision the apostle John watched to see. Look! A “star” had fallen, not into the sea or into the fresh waters, but to the earth. But its fall was not disastrous to it. Rather, this “star” comes as a Freedom-giver, a Liberator of others, for “the key of the pit of the abyss was given him.” He is also a King, for he is “the angel of the abyss” and is the King of those whom he releases from the abyss; in harmony with which fact those whom he releases wear what, to John, “seemed to be crowns like gold.” This symbolic “star” also has a name for this occasion. In Greek its name is Apollyon, which means Destroyer. In Hebrew it is Abaddon, which means Destruction. All these features about this symbolic “star” reveal him to be the glorified Jesus Christ. When, as a man on earth, nineteen centuries ago, he died as a martyr for God’s kingdom, he went into the abyss. On the third day God released him and seated him at His right hand.
30. What key was given to this symbolic “star,” and whom did he release, and when?
30 To this resurrected, glorified Jesus Christ, God has given the “keys of death and of Haʹdes,” that he might act as a liberator therewith. Crowned as reigning King in the heavens at the end of the “times of the Gentiles” in the year 1914, he comes to release certain ones from their restrained condition as in the ‘pit of an abyss.’ Whom? The remnant of his followers on earth who are called to be kings with him in heaven. (Rev. 1:6, 17, 18; 20:4-6) In the year 1919 he used the “key of the pit of the abyss” and opened the pit and let his repentant, faithful remnant of Kingdom joint heirs out.
31. What appearance did those of this released remnant take on, according to John’s description of them?
31 But what an appearance they take on as John sees them in prophetic vision! Coming out of a great smoke that ascends from the abyss and bedarkens both the sun and the air, they look like a strange species of locust. John says: “And the likenesses of the locusts resembled horses prepared for battle; and upon their heads were what seemed to be crowns like gold, and their faces were as men’s faces, but they had hair as women’s hair. And their teeth were as those of lions; and they had breastplates like iron breastplates. And the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running into battle. Also, they have tails and stings like scorpions; and in their tails is their authority to hurt the men five months. They have over them a king, the angel of the abyss.”—Rev. 9:1-11.
32. If not vegetation, what do the symbolic locusts go after, and how do they stand out in contrast with such target?
32 Under command of their heavenly King Jesus Christ, the remnant of anointed witnesses of Jehovah swarmed forth in 1919 from their abysmal condition of restraint, heated up with godly zeal as if emerging from a furnace. These symbolic locusts did not try to eat up all the greenery of the earth; their target was men. Which men? “Only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.” But they were not authorized to kill those particular men; they should only torment them for five months, which is the lifetime, the summertime of activity, for insect locusts. These symbolic locusts were really the ones that were sealed with the “seal of God on their foreheads,” for they were the remnant of those spiritual Israelites, 144,000 of them, whom John saw undergo this sealing, according to his description in Revelation 7:1-8. As long-haired women are obedient to their husbands, so these symbolic locusts are subject and submissive to their King, Jesus Christ, their Bridegroom to be.
33. Whom do “those men” without the seal of God picture today?
33 Who, then, are “those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads”? All unsealed men, including the “great crowd” at God’s temple whom the apostle John saw and described in Revelation 7:9-17? No! Only those men whom we would expect to have the “seal of God on their foreheads” according to their religious professions in Christendom. Those who outstandingly claim to be spiritual Israelites in the new covenant with God through Christ the Mediator are the religious clergy of Christendom, together with professional politicians, commercial profiteers and big militarists, who are church members and who are given the greatest prominence and consideration by the religious clergy. The conduct of “those men” proves that they are not producing the fruitage of God’s spirit, by means of which spirit the identifying seal of God’s ownership is put, as it were, upon one’s forehead for all to see.—Gal. 5:19-23; 2 Cor. 1:22.
34. (a) In what particular regard are those unsealed men tormented by the symbolic locusts? (b) How long are those men obliged to endure the torment?
34 These are the ones whom the symbolic locusts are tormenting, stinging them with the judgment message from God’s inspired Word, very painfully as if striking them with the venomous scorpion’s tail. This judgment message has to do specially with the international organization for world peace and security, which the clergy have claimed to be the “political expression of the Kingdom of God on earth,” but which the symbolic locusts tormentingly proclaim is a mere man-made substitute for God’s Messianic kingdom and is therefore doomed to fail and be destroyed by God’s true kingdom. Those unsealed men of Christendom would like to get away from this religious torment by these symbolic locusts. They would like to die rather than to endure longer. But the “locusts” are not authorized to “kill” those unsealed men; so those men keep living. Also, the symbolic locusts keep living and keep up the torment, for they are authorized to do this tormenting work “five months,” which, being the literal lifetime of an insect locust, symbolize all the lifetime of the symbolic locusts down till the war of Har–Magedon.
35. Was what the “eagle” called this locust plague any overstatement?
35 It was no overstatement for the “eagle” flying in midheaven to announce that this would be a “woe” to those directly affected by this locust plague. What, then, could the second “woe” be?
“THE SECOND WOE”
36. How is the next of the series a “second woe”?
36 The “second woe” does not necessarily start after the first one is all over. It is really another woe, an additional woe, and runs concurrently with the first woe. It helps to make the first woe even more distressing, and that over a wider area.
37. The “second woe” as announced by the sixth angel follows what liberation work, and in whose behalf?
37 The “second woe” is loudly heralded by the sixth angel of God to blow the trumpet. This “woe,” also, is pictured as following a liberation work. This liberation is a release or loosing from Babylon the Great, the world empire of false Babylonish religion. This Greater Babylon was prefigured by the ancient imperial Babylon situated on the Euphrates River. To this ancient Babylon the natural Israelites were taken into exile in the seventh century before our Common Era. Likewise the anointed remnant of the spiritual Israelites were taken into exile in Babylon the Great during World War I. In answer to sincere prayers that ascended like incense smoke to him Jehovah God released the Israelites from exile in ancient Babylon after her fall. Likewise, the same God answered prayer and released his anointed remnant from modern Babylon the Great in the first postwar year of 1919. The apostle John saw this in vision and described it, saying:
38. How does John describe the vision of this liberation work?
38 “And the sixth angel blew his trumpet. And I heard one voice out of the horns of the golden altar that is before God say to the sixth angel, who had the trumpet: ‘Untie the four angels that are bound at the great river Euphrates.’ And the four angels were untied, who have been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, to kill a third of the men.”—Rev. 9:13-15.
39. (a) To whom do the “four angels” correspond, and why is the designation “angels” fitting? (b) At what time are they disposed to serve, and what is their mission?
39 The remnant of anointed Christian witnesses that were loosed from Babylonish bondage in 1919 correspond to those so-called “four angels” in that the designation “angels” literally means “messengers,” and does not in all cases mean heavenly spirit persons. Messengers—ah, that is what the untied remnant were to be, messengers of God to bear his special message for after the end of the Gentile Times and after the wrong conduct of Christendom during World War I. Rejoicing in being restored to freedom to serve once again as God’s messengers, the anointed remnant felt disposed to serve at God’s orders at any “hour and day and month and year” that he appointed. They prepared themselves to be ready at all times and for all features of his Kingdom service. What was their mission for which they must be “prepared” as the four released “angels” or messengers? This: “To kill a third of the men.” But with what instruments?
40, 41. (a) Would this work be a “woe,” and how does the location change for the next scene? (b) What description does John give of the cavalry?
40 Killing a “third of the men” would certainly be a “woe,” and to show how this was done toward Christendom, the picture instantly changes from beside the Euphrates to a tremendous battle charge of cavalry. Describing the charge, John says:
41 “And the number of the armies of cavalry was two myriads of myriads: I heard the number of them. And this is how I saw the horses in the vision, and those seated on them: they had fire-red and hyacinth-blue and sulphur-yellow breastplates; and the heads of the horses were as heads of lions, and out of their mouths fire and smoke and sulphur issued forth. By these three plagues a third of the men were killed, from the fire and the smoke and the sulphur which issued forth from their mouths. For the authority of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails; for their tails are like serpents and have heads, and with these they do harm.”—Rev. 9:16-19.
42. What feature gets the greater description, and what do the “horses” symbolize?
42 Nothing is said of the horsemen except that they had to the fore of them breastplates that suggested fire, smoke and sulphur capable of causing a consuming destruction. The horses under these riders are given the most description, and these horses are the ones that do the killing with the plagues that issue from their mouths and with their serpentlike tails. Hence these “two myriads of myriads” or 200,000,000 “horses” are the instrumentalities by means of which the four untied “angels” do the killing of the “third of the men,” Christendom’s membership. Since the horses have riders on them, it means that they are humanly guided.
43. (a) What further do those strange “horses” symbolize? (b) How have those vehicles been provided, and to be managed by whom?
43 What, then, do the two hundred million horses symbolize? They symbolize the instrumentalities or vehicles that the anointed remnant use in declaring the “day of vengeance on the part of our God.” What are these vehicles? The Bibles, Bible-study-aid books, booklets, magazines and tracts, that tell of the fiery utter destruction to come upon hypocritical Christendom in the day of God’s vengeance, also leaving a serpentlike sting with “men” whose religious sensibilities were hurt and showing them to be dead spiritually. (Isa. 61:1, 2) Up-to-date Bible literature began to be produced in enormous quantities. To produce these symbolic “horses” independently of worldly book-printing companies, the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society set up its own printing plants and enlarged them as time went on. Distribution of all literature was assigned, not to commercial bookshops, but to the anointed remnant.
44. Have 200,000,000 symbolic “horses” been provided, and what human guidance of them has been provided?
44 Since the establishment of its first small printing plant in 1920, the Watch Tower Society has, by its larger printing facilities since then, turned out and let loose far more than two hundred million symbolic “horses.” The anointed remnant took the responsibility for these “horses,” individual members each putting out hundreds and thousands of pieces of the Bible literature by going from house to house. Thus each symbolic “horse” was humanly, intellectually guided and directed. Particularly since the year 1935 the anointed remnant have been joined by the dedicated, baptized “great crowd” in this Bible distribution work that has proved to be such a “woe” to the “third of the men,” Christendom’s flock.
“THE THIRD WOE”
45. What worldly reaction to the “second woe” made it fitting for John to announce the “third woe”?
45 Nineteen centuries ago the apostle John saw that the “second woe” did not turn the “rest of the men” from their sinful worldly ways. Neither has the infliction of the “second woe” in these modern days made such an impression on mankind as to turn either Christendom or the rest of the people from the course that leads to destruction in the day of God’s vengeance. They refuse to come to peace with God. (Rev. 9:20) The apostle John saw the need of a third woe to deal with all these unrepentant people. At the right moment he reported: “The second woe is past. Look! The third woe is coming quickly.” (Rev. 11:14) What would this third woe be? It would be seen after the seventh angel heralded it.
46. What does John describe as immediately following the blowing of the seventh trumpet?
46 John writes: “And the seventh angel blew his trumpet. And loud voices occurred in heaven, saying: ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will rule as king forever and ever.’ And the twenty-four older persons who were seated before God upon their thrones fell upon their faces and worshiped God, saying: ‘We thank you, Jehovah God, the Almighty, the one who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and begun ruling as king. But the nations became wrathful, and your own wrath came, and the appointed time for the dead to be judged, and to give their reward to your slaves the prophets and to the holy ones and to those fearing your name, the small and the great, and to bring to ruin those ruining the earth.’”—Rev. 11:15-18.
47. (a) What is thus seen to be the “third woe”? (b) When did the Lord God take his power and begin reigning, and how?
47 What is here seen to be the “third woe”? It is the “kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ.” It is the joint kingship of the Lord God Jehovah and of his Messiah or Christ. It is the Messianic kingdom of God over all the world of mankind. Jehovah God the Almighty has himself taken his great power and begun to reign, and rightly so, because all the earth is his and he made both it and its inhabitants. He waited till the lease of rulership that he had granted to the non-Jewish or Gentile nations had run out in the year 1914 C.E. At that time the Gentile nations refused to recognize the end of the “times of the Gentiles,” and refused to seat Jehovah’s Messiah or Christ as a king over them. Did Jehovah God leave it to the Gentile nations to decide matters with regard to the earth? No, but he in his almightiness took his great power and exercised it. How? By enthroning his own Son, Jesus, as the Messiah or Christ, in the heavens. By this governmental stroke he established his Messianic kingdom.—Luke 21:24.
48. (a) What questions arise as to whether this Messianic kingdom is a “woe”? (b) How did the earthly nations prove themselves to be enemies of peace with God?
48 How, though, is God’s Messianic kingdom a “woe,” the most emphatic woe? Is not this kingdom appointed to bless all the world of mankind? Do not Christ’s followers offer the prayer that he taught them: “Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified. Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth”? (Matt. 6:9, 10) Yes, all this is true. But at the end of the Gentile Times in 1914 the worldly nations did not see their rulers imitate the course of the “twenty-four older persons who were seated before God.” The worldly kings did not fall down from their thrones and worship God and say: “We thank you, Jehovah God, the Almighty, the one who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and begun ruling as king.” (Rev. 11:16, 17) Just to the contrary: “the nations became wrathful,” and they expressed their wrath by persecuting the anointed “ambassadors substituting for Christ,” who were preaching the good news of God’s Messianic kingdom. Being wrathful toward God’s Messianic kingdom, those nations proved themselves to be enemies of peace with God.
49. (a) What therefore must God’s Messianic kingdom become to the nations? (b) For what course alone do those nations deserve to be ruined?
49 On that basis, the “kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ” must become Woe to the nations. God’s wrath must come upon the hostile nations. They are the ones who really are “ruining the earth.” In a very real sense they are ruining the literal earth by the way they are exploiting the earth and making it uninhabitable for mankind and threatening to ruin it still more by their nuclear, bacteriological and radiological warfare in a third world conflict. For this ruinous work alone they deserve to be ruined themselves, even if God the Almighty did not take into account their wrathfully persecuting the anointed ambassadors of his Messianic kingdom.
50. What will be the grand climax of this “third woe” upon the nations?
50 Let the ruinous nations make no mistake about the matter: They will have to settle accounts with Jehovah God the Almighty against whom they are wrathful for taking over the “kingdom of the world.” He will bring them to ruin in the war of all wars, namely, “the war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon. (Rev. 16:14-16) This will be the grand climax of this third and last woe. God’s kingdom of his Messiah is his means by which he visits this woe upon the wrathful nations. After it another woe will not be needed.
51. (a) For whom will that Messianic kingdom be a joy? (b) Why will the nations be unable to charge God with failing to give them advance notice and warning?
51 What is a woe to the worldly nations and to their invisible ruler and god, Satan the Devil, will be a boundless joy to all those in heaven and on earth who thank Jehovah God the Almighty that he took his great power at the end of the Gentile Times in 1914 and began ruling as King forever by means of his Messiah who was then enthroned. That Kingdom’s taking on the nature of a disastrous woe to the wrathful, ruinous nations at Har–Magedon is what these thankful ones pray for in the prayer taught by Jesus Christ: “Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified. Let your kingdom come.” (Matt. 6:9, 10) The nations have been notified. God cannot be accused of having failed to be fair in giving them advance notice and warning. His seven heavenly angels have sounded their trumpets in this “time of the end.” The events announced and introduced by those trumpet blasts have come to pass in fulfillment of the things seen in vision by the apostle John almost nineteen centuries ago. The effect of those things will shortly reach its culmination in the “day of vengeance on the part of our God” upon all enemies of peace with God.
52. (a) When will it be the due time for the prophecy to be true concerning God, “Your own wrath came”? (b) How will God thus bring peace to earth, and in keeping with the earnest desire of whom?
52 When that day breaks, the nations will express their wrath to the limit. It will then become the fitting time for the long-patient Jehovah God to give them their recompense. As Revelation 11:18 puts it, “Your own wrath came.” He will not forever hold back his wrath, but will express it in his due time against the nations who challenge his right to kingship of the world. Since the end of the Gentile Times in 1914 those nations have been squatters on the earth. Since then Jehovah God the rightful King has had the legal right to oust them. Now will have come his time to do so. His having to do this in wrath will signify their destruction. Only by thus annihilating these enemies of peace with God will he bring peace to this earth, the lasting peace that people who are reconciled to God desire so earnestly. Only such peace lovers who are reconciled to Him through his Messiah or Christ will be spared alive during that time of catastrophic woe to the wrathful nations.
53. (a) Therefore with whom will God start the new peaceful system of things? (b) How will the greatest peace disturbers be dealt with, and what will all earthly creation then do?
53 God’s wrath is not against those who have peacefully sought reconciliation with him. Such reconciled ones will be the earthly subjects with whom he will start his peaceful new system of things for all redeemed mankind. Satan the Devil and his demons, the greatest peace disturbers, will be enchained in the completely shut abyss of isolation and restraint, no longer being a wicked “heavens” over the world of mankind. The “new heavens” of God’s kingdom of his Messiah will rule. All earthly creation, no longer being ruined or polluted, will rejoice in peace and brotherly love and give praise and thanks to God.
[Picture on page 714]
The proclamations of heavenly truth from God’s Word have been like “hail and fire,” consuming the sham of Christianity worn by the treelike clergy and vegetation-like laity
[Picture on page 716]
Like a flaming mountain the issue of godless communism was thrown to the sea of agitated mankind, with death-dealing effects
[Picture on page 720]
The symbolic locusts resembling horses with stings like scorpions are the remnant of spiritual Israel who deliver God’s judgment message, which brings torment to all false Christians
[Picture on page 723]
The myriads of lion-headed horses breathing out fire are symbolic “horses” of Kingdom publicity—the Bible literature used in declaring God’s judgment message