Whose Name Do You Respect More—Your Own or God’s?
“A name is to be chosen rather than abundant riches; favor is better than even silver and gold.”—Prov. 22:1.
1. With what proverb on a name are we asked regarding our agreement?
DO YOU agree with ancient King Solomon when he said that “a name is to be chosen rather than abundant riches”? Of course, he meant a favorable name, for in the parallel line of this proverb Solomon added: “Favor is better than even silver and gold.” (Prov. 22:1) Silver and gold are riches.
2. (a) How did King Solomon come to have both name and riches? (b) As to a choice between name and riches, what do we agree to be the wise choice, and why?
2 Many men try to gain abundant riches regardless of how it affects their name. Others try to protect their name by hiding the underhanded methods and crooked means by which they got their “abundant riches.” However, King Solomon had both name and riches, and that with honor. The God whom Solomon worshiped made him rich with silver and gold and other material possessions, just as his God promised to do, saying: “Also what you have not requested I will give you, both riches and glory, so that there will not have happened to be any among the kings like you, all your days.” (1 Ki. 3:13) When it comes to making a choice between a favorable name and abundant riches, the wise choice would be that of a favorable name. Human experience proves that to be so. Even we will agree that that is so, for the reason that we are self-respecting.
3, 4. (a) As regards our attitude toward our name, how do we image God, and why? (b) How did Solomon’s people learn the truth of what that Third Commandment says, and what does this prove to us?
3 Like almost everybody else, you respect your name. You should do so, for your name means you. Your Maker made you that way, with that quality of self-respect. In this regard we image Him, for he too has self-respect. He respects his own name. We have reason to appreciate this fact, for we remember the Ten Commandments that he gave to the people of King Solomon. In the Third Commandment thereof he said: “You must not take up the name of Jehovah your God in a worthless way, for Jehovah will not leave the one unpunished who takes up his name in a worthless way.”—Ex. 20:7.
4 It was in the year 1513 before our Common Era, in the days of the prophet Moses, that the God of King Solomon said that; and during their long history after they got that commandment, Solomon’s people learned in a hard way that God meant what he said. Their history proves that it does not do anyone good to take up God’s name “in a worthless way,” in a way that serves no good use, in a misuse of His name, in making a wrong use of His name.
5. How do we show that we respect our own name more than God’s, and why is it advisable for us to consider now the personal question about this matter of respect?
5 If we make wrong use of God’s name, using it as if it were something worthless, we make it plain that we do not respect the divine name. Then it must be that we respect our own personal name more than we respect that of God. Will our doing so work out in good for us? Will we go unpunished for this? Not according to what God stated in the Third Commandment. Although most people do not realize it, God’s name is involved with world affairs today. It is advisable for us to consider the question directed to each one of us, Do you respect your own name more than God’s? It is very urgent upon us to study over this question, for very soon now the world will pay the penalty for its disrespect toward God’s name. We would hardly want to suffer that penalty with the world.
6. (a) How did Solomon compare perfumed oil on a person and a good name? (b) How did Jacob feel about his name because of the massacre committed by Simeon and Levi?
6 When you are absent and your name is mentioned in the presence of someone else, what impression is the one using your name trying to create about you, or what image of you comes up in the mind of the hearer? You would like it to be favorable, would you not? You would not want your very name to stink, as if you were an offensive person. In ancient times perfumed oil on a person made his physical presence agreeable, sweet-smelling. Is the effect of the mention of your name like that? King Solomon thought so, for he said under inspiration from God: “A name is better than good oil.” (Eccl. 7:1) King Solomon’s ancestor, the thirteenth back, Jacob (Israel), felt that way about it. When his two sons, Simeon and Levi, carried out a massacre at the town of Shechem, Jacob rebuked them and said: “You have brought ostracism upon me in making me a stench to the inhabitants of the land.” (Gen. 34:25-30; compare 2 Samuel 10:6.) Jacob, whom the inhabitants of the land associated with his God, Jehovah, did not like to have his own name be made foul-smelling.
7. What odor have the clergy of Christendom made God’s name have, and why have they made no alteration about this?
7 No less would we like to have our name made foul-smelling among people by the way others spoke about us or acted toward us. We can realize, therefore, what God’s feelings are with regard to his own name. It has so happened that those who claim to be his closest friends on earth have brought the greatest reproach upon his name. The religious clergy of Christendom have made God’s name stink to the high heavens throughout the whole earth. They know, or should know by reason of their theological education, that the Holy Bible sets forth God’s name as being Jehovah. Over the centuries these clergymen have taught that this God of the Bible is a God who delights in eternal torture of his own creatures, that He prepared a place called “hell” filled with fire burning forever with brimstone (or sulphur), and that there he keeps alive sinful human souls after death to be tormented forever, without any relief. The clergy twist the meaning of things said in the Bible in order to teach this, and to this day they have never erased this teaching from their church creeds, thus declaring it to be absolutely false and a God-dishonoring, demon-inspired teaching. They do not want to admit to teaching lies.
8. For the sake of whose name do they let lies stand, and on the names of whom have they brought reproach?
8 For the sake of their own name the clergy prefer to let their lies against God stand. They not only bring God under reproach, but also bring reproach upon the Chief One of God’s family, his Son Jesus Christ, for they claim that Jesus Christ taught such lies in his heavenly Father’s name.
9. In what warfare do Christendom’s clergy implicate God, and how?
9 The clergy also connect up this God of the Bible with all their spilling of blood in violent wars. How? By praying to him to grant victory to their own nation as against the other nation, even putting on the belts of the soldier boys the words “God with us.” They have prayed the warriors of their nation into heaven by claiming that the soldiers dying on the battlefield for their political rulers have an immediate passport into heaven to be with God and Jesus Christ. It does not matter to the clergy whether their soldier boys prove to have fought for the losing side, and apparently the wrong side; they still go to heavenly bliss for having died under the blessing of their religious clergy who pray for them. Thus they picture Jehovah as a God that has backed up all this war and bloodshed committed by Christendom for the past sixteen centuries.
10. (a) Among whom have the clergy made God’s name to be foul-smelling, and has this been without concern on God’s part? (b) What did Jesus teach us to pray about that name, and how does violation thereof affect him?
10 No wonder that God’s name stinks in the nostrils of those who bitterly declare that “religion is the opium of the people,” yes, even in the nostrils of those hundreds of millions of people whom Christendom calls heathen or pagans in non-Christian lands! And then, are we to think that God takes no account of this, that he is dead and indifferent to this, that he has no feelings at all about this? How unrealistic for us to think so! How could so-called Christian people think so, who go to church and join with the clergyman and the congregation in the prayer that Jesus Christ taught, saying: “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name”? (Matt. 6:9, Authorized Version) Jesus Christ taught his followers to pray for the hallowing or sanctifying of his heavenly Father’s name, and not for the making of that holy name a universal stench. So, when people who profess to be his followers violate that prayer and pollute the name of his heavenly Father, are we to think that Jesus Christ has no feelings about the matter, that he has so little respect for his Father’s name as not to care? Not at all! For Jesus Christ respects his Father’s name above his own name.
THE QUESTION FOR PEOPLE WITH RELIGIOUS CONNECTIONS
11. What question should we respecters of God’s name ask about any religious denomination to which we may belong, and to escape community responsibility, what action must be taken?
11 We personally may not desire to show disrespect for God’s name, but, if we have any religious connection, the question for us to ask ourselves is: Do I belong to a religious denomination that disrespects and defames God’s name in these and other ways? Suppose that any of us do. Well, then, we should know the course for us to take if we respect God’s name. What? This, namely, to disengage ourselves from sharing in the community responsibility of such a religious denomination before the Bible God, who is jealous for his name.—Ezek. 39:25, AV.
12, 13. (a) Why are we and our personal name of little importance? (b) What does Psalm 148:11-13 tell all classes of people to do?
12 When we come to think about it, the personal name of each one of us human creatures is of comparatively little importance. We live imperfect lives for some few years, then we die and are soon forgotten by those who survive us. Or our name, even if it is preserved in memory by some means, finally fades in importance and potency. But is that the case with God’s name? Far from it! For, in Psalm one hundred and forty-eight, Ps 148 verses eleven through thirteen, the inspired songwriter addresses himself to “you kings of the earth and all you national groups, you princes and all you judges of the earth, you young men and also you virgins, you old men together with boys,” and then says:
13 “Let them praise the name of Jehovah, for his name alone is unreachably high. His dignity is above earth and heaven.”
14. (a) How have men tried to rival Jehovah in name and why with failure? (b) In whose days was a start made of calling on Jehovah’s name, and what world event reveals the true nature of that?
14 The dignity of this Bible God, Jehovah, his worthiness, his respectability, his importance—all these things tower heaven-high above the earth. Not a single human creature on earth, no matter how famous he has made himself in human history, has elevated his name and fame above that of this God or even as high as God’s name. No creature in heaven and earth can exalt his name as high as that of Jehovah, for “his name alone is unreachably high.” Yes, “his name only is supreme.” (Ps. 148:13, New World Translation; Moffatt) It is true that men have disrespectfully striven to put their name on a level with Jehovah or even above that name. For instance, just some two hundred and thirty-five years after the first man was created, his sinful descendants began to misuse the divine name. One of Adam’s grandsons was named Enosh, and concerning his days the record in Genesis 4:26 says: “At that time a start was made of calling on the name of Jehovah.” This was in a hypocritical or sacrilegious way. That was why, 1,656 years after man’s creation, the global deluge came, in Noah’s day, and destroyed them all.
15, 16. (a) How did Nimrod elevate his rank among his admirers and followers, and what about God’s viewpoint of him? (b) How did a late successor of Nimrod on Babylon’s throne express his ambitions against Jehovah?
15 Then, too, there was the thirteenth man in line of descent from Adam. This man was named Nimrod. He made himself so prominent that he was ranked as someone with whom to be compared. Genesis 10:8-10 says of this great-grandson of Noah: “He began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before Jehovah: wherefore it is said, Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before Jehovah. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel [Babylon].” (American Standard Version) Does that mean that he was a “mighty hunter” from Jehovah’s standpoint and in Jehovah’s favor? No! For his hunting was directed also against human prey and so extended itself to military campaigning that results in shedding human blood. The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures presents the matter in the right, Scriptural light, by rendering the account: “Just like Nimrod a mighty hunter in opposition to Jehovah.” Nimrod showed no respect for the name of the only living and true God; Nimrod’s name bedimmed the name of Jehovah in the minds of his admirers and followers. Fifteen centuries later a successor of Nimrod on Babylon’s throne said:
16 “To the heavens shall go up. Above the stars of God I shall lift up my throne, and I shall sit down upon the mountain of meeting, in the remotest parts of the north. I shall go up above the high places of the clouds; I shall make myself resemble the Most High.”—Isa. 14:4, 13, 14.
17, 18. (a) How did Jehovah’s name prove to be unreachably high for Nimrod and his royal successors? (b) How does Psalm 126:1-3, show how a favorable impression concerning Jehovah’s name was made among the nations?
17 However, the name of Jehovah proved to be unreachably high for the hunter-king of Babylon, Nimrod, and his successors. In the year 539 before our Common Era the line of Nimrod’s successors was overthrown when the imperial city of Babylon fell to the Medes and Persians. Less than two years later, in 537 B.C.E., the name of Jehovah went up when His spirit moved the Persian conqueror, Cyrus the Great, to issue the famous decree authorizing the exiled people of Jehovah to return to their homeland and rebuild the temple of Jehovah at Jerusalem. (2 Chron. 36:19-23; Ezra 1:1-11) Almost too good to be true, this seemed like a dream to the exiled Jews or Israelites, but it made an impression upon the Gentile nations that was favorable to Jehovah. Psalm 126:1-3 beautifully sets this forth, saying:
18 “When Jehovah gathered back the captive ones of Zion, we became like those who were dreaming. At that time our mouth came to be filled with laughter, and our tongue with a joyful cry. At that time they proceeded to say among the nations: ‘Jehovah has done a great thing in what he has done with them.’ Jehovah has done a great thing in what he has done with us. We have become joyful.”
19. By their trinity doctrine, how do the clergy not give glory to Jehovah as God, but, rather, downgrade his name?
19 Today the clergy of Christendom do not give glory to Jehovah as God. They have shoved his name into a corner. By their teaching of a trinity composed of a God the Father and God the Son and God the Holy Ghost, they have made Jehovah’s Son Jesus Christ equal with Him the Father, and also the “Holy Ghost” equal with Jehovah who pours out this holy spirit. To suit their religious purposes the clergy have put the designation Jesus Christ to the fore. Look into your copy of the King James Version of the Bible and see how many times you can find the divine name, Jehovah. Look into the Revised Standard Version of the Holy Bible, of the year 1952, and see whether you can find the name Jehovah at all. Look into The New American Bible, published by Roman Catholics in 1970, as well as into the Douay Version Bible of 1610, and see whether you can find the name Jehovah (or even Yahweh) in the Bible text. The claim is made that when the New Testament writers called Jesus Christ Lord or the Lord, this meant that he was Jehovah or Yahweh himself. Certainly all this is a downgrading of God’s name.
20. What does the apostle Paul say about the Son of God in Philippians 2:5-11?
20 What, though, does the Christian apostle Paul say? He describes the humbling of the Son of God and then the glorification of his faithful Son, saying, according to The New English Bible, of 1970: “Let your bearing towards one another arise out of your life in Christ Jesus. For the divine nature was his from the first; yet he did not think to snatch at equality with God, but made himself nothing, assuming the nature of a slave. Bearing the human likeness, revealed in human shape, he humbled himself, and in obedience accepted even death—death on a cross. Therefore God raised him to the heights and bestowed on him the name above all names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow—in heaven, on earth, and in the depths—and every tongue confess, ‘Jesus Christ is Lord’, to the glory of God the Father.”—Phil. 2:5-11.
21. (a) How does that statement show that Jehovah’s name remains unreachably high? (b) To what extent do we Christians show respect toward Jehovah’s name?
21 From this inspired statement we see that God the Father rewarded his Son Jesus Christ with a name above that of all other sons of God or creatures of God. Hence all other creatures must recognize that exalted name and bow at it. But to whose glory must they do this? To the glory of the highly exalted Jesus Christ? No! But, as the apostle Paul says, “To the glory of God the Father.” The highly exalted Jesus Christ is called “Lord,” but he is not called God nor is he called Father, for always he remains the Son of God. The rank and title of “God the Father” always remain with Jehovah. He did not give his heavenly Son a name higher than His own nor a name even equal to His own. His name remains supreme, unreachably high. Jesus Christ in heaven recognizes it as such. So in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ we Christians still pray to Jehovah God: “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” (Matt. 6:9, AV) We do not misuse that name but respect it as the highest name in all existence. We separate ourselves from all religions that defame God’s name.
WHEN HE WENT TO MAKE A NAME FOR HIMSELF
22, 23. (a) Should the divine name go out of respectful use, and why should we never take Pharaoh’s attitude toward it? (b) How did God specially claim the name when first appearing to Moses?
22 The original divine name has not passed out of fashion and it should not pass out of use in a respectful way. We should never let ourselves get like the ruler Pharaoh of ancient Egypt and oppose that name and get stubborn toward it as when he said: “Who is Jehovah, that I should hearken unto his voice to let Israel go? I know not Jehovah, and moreover I will not let Israel go.” (Ex. 5:1, 2, AS) Refusal to recognize Jehovah got Pharaoh nowhere—except into destruction in the Red Sea. The Most High God specially claimed the name when he sent his prophet Moses to appear before Pharaoh and demand that the enslaved people of Israel be let go that they might take possession of the Promised Land. By the use of an angel God manifested himself to Moses the Israelite at the foot of Mount Horeb (or Sinai) in the Arabian Peninsula. On being told to go back to Egypt, Moses inquired as to what he should announce as the name of the God who was sending him. From The New English Bible, of 1970, we now read the answer:
23 “God answered, ‘I AM; that is who I am. Tell them that I AM has sent you to them.’ And God said further, ‘You must tell the Israelites this, that it is JEHOVAH the God of their forefathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, who has sent you to them. This is my name for ever; this is my title in every generation. Go and assemble the elders of Israel and tell them that JEHOVAH the God of their forefathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, has appeared to you.’”—Ex. 3:13-16.
24. (a) Why, then, have Christians no right to change matters respecting God’s name? (b) What action was appropriate as taken by dedicated, baptized Christians met in general convention in 1931?
24 Since he said that Jehovah is his name forever and is his title in every generation, it is his name and title today, in our generation. We, even as Christians, have no right to change that. “Jehovah” is his Memorial name, according to the American Standard Version Bible, which does not use the word “title” but says: “This is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.” (Ex. 3:15, AS) It was his memorial in the very first generation of mankind, for in the second chapter of the Holy Bible and in the fourth verse we read these words: “These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that Jehovah God made earth and heaven.” (Gen. 2:4, AS) As a memorial it is his name by which to be remembered forever, in all generations. Was it out of order, therefore, when thousands of dedicated, baptized Christians, when met together in general convention in Columbus, Ohio, on Sunday, July 26, 1931, embraced the Scriptural name, Jehovah’s witnesses? No; it was most fitting.
25. (a) In 1925 these Christians began to perceive that the time had come for what action on God’s part? (b) Appropriate to this, what did the January 1, 1926, issue of The Watch Tower say in its leading article?
25 Already, back in the year 1925, the Christians embracing that designation for themselves had begun to perceive that the time had come for the one true and living God to “make him a name.” (2 Sam. 7:23, AV) Quite appropriately, then, in the Watch Tower issue of January 1, 1926, the leading article was entitled “Who Will Honor Jehovah?” On page 7, under the subheading entitled “Himself a Name,” paragraphs 37 and 38 said:
“The natural descendants of faithful Abraham were domiciled in Egypt. The name of God was then ignored, and was not in the thoughts of the people of that nation nor of any other nation of the world. David records the fact that God went down to Egypt to deliver his people and to make a name for himself. (2 Samuel 7:23) Now a like condition exists. Those who are of the faith of Abraham are domiciled in this wicked world, all the organizations of which have forsaken God and have defamed his holy name.
“The time approaches when God will make for himself a name. God will have somebody to be his witnesses in the earth. And who could we expect would have the privilege of filling that place? Surely none other than Zion, God’s organization, some members of which are on earth. To such Jehovah says: ‘Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen; that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour. I have declared, and have saved, and I have shewed, when there was no strange god among you: therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, that I am God.’—Isaiah 43:10-12.” [Authorized Version]
26, 27. The prophet Isaiah foresaw the need for what repeat performance, and so what did he write in Isaiah 63:11-14?
26 In addition to what King David of Jerusalem said regarding God’s making a name for himself at the time that he delivered his chosen people of Israel from slavery in ancient Egypt, the later prophet Isaiah foresaw the time for Jehovah to repeat this performance by delivering his chosen people from their dire straits. The same God is to be looked for in behalf of this deliverance, and so the prophet Isaiah goes on to say (in Isaiah 63:11-14):
27 “And one began to remember the days of long ago, Moses his servant: ‘Where is the One that brought them up out of the sea with the shepherds of his flock? Where is the One that put within him His own holy spirit? The One making His beautiful arm go at the right hand of Moses; the One splitting the waters from before them in order to make an indefinitely lasting name for his own self; the One making them walk through the surging waters so that, like a horse in the wilderness, they did not stumble? Just as when a beast itself goes down into the valley plain, the very spirit of Jehovah proceeded to make them rest.’ Thus you led your people in order to make a beautiful name for your own self.”
28. At the time of Israel’s deliverance, who in Egypt came to fear the divine name, and what action did they take, with what experiences resulting to them?
28 At the time of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, so many of the non-Israelite people in that land came to fear the divine name, that they took appropriate action. How? Well, when the Israelites marched out of Egypt after celebrating their first Passover, then, as the record in Exodus 12:38 says, “a vast mixed company also went up with them.” When God parted the waters of the Red Sea, this mixed company marched through with the Israelites. And when God brought the seawaters back upon the pursuing horses, chariots and horsemen of Pharaoh, and drowned these bloodthirsty pursuers, this mixed company heard the Israelites sing in safety on the shore of the Sinai Peninsula: “Jehovah is a manly person of war. Jehovah is his name. . . . Jehovah will rule as king to time indefinite, even forever.”—Ex. 14:31–15:18.
29. What has happened to the effect of the impact that Jehovah’s miracle made upon the nations then, and what did the Israelites come under the obligation to be and to do?
29 The terrific impact that that stupendous miracle made upon the nations back there in that year 1513 before our Common Era has since lost its stunning effect. The name that Jehovah made for himself back there, so long ago, has little appeal for the nations today, even for the so-called Christian nations of Christendom. They neither fear it nor respect it. Christendom has lapsed into a condition like that of ancient Egypt, the oppressor of the people of Jehovah. (Rev. 11:8) Those natural Israelites away back there were actually eyewitnesses of what Jehovah did and they were made to know and appreciate his name as their faithful forefathers never had done. (Ex. 6:2, 3) By force of circumstances they were witnesses of Jehovah, and they were therefore obligated to bear witness to future generations about Jehovah’s name and deeds. Through the prophet Isaiah Jehovah plainly told them that they were his witnesses. They should have respected the name that Jehovah made for himself and should have lived up to their obligations to be witnesses of Him as the only living and true God. A similar status holds true for Christendom today.
30. Why is Christendom today under obligation to be witnesses for the same God of ancient natural Israel?
30 Today, as well as for centuries past, Christendom claims to be a spiritual Israel, a Christian Israel. Inescapably, then, her God must be the God of ancient natural Israel. So, just as much as natural Israel of old, Christendom is under obligation to be witnesses of that same God of ancient Israel, who is at the same time the God of the Messiah, Jesus, the Son of God. Being a witness for Jesus the Messiah or Christ does not excuse one from being also a witness for Jehovah, and that primarily.—Acts 1:8; 5:27-32.
31. According to what Christendom and her churches do and say today, the time has come for God to do what, and this will bespeak what for modern-day peoples and nations?
31 But look at the nations of Christendom and their churches. Listen to what they are saying. In the light of the Holy Bible, examine what they are doing. Where do the facts show that these nations and churches of Christendom are witnesses of Jehovah? The bald facts plainly indicate that, once again, the time has come for Jehovah to make a name for himself before all nations and peoples who proudly and stubbornly refuse to acknowledge, respect and fear his divine name. The historic example of Pharaoh and his military forces at the Red Sea bespeaks disaster for such modern-day nations and peoples when Jehovah again makes a name for himself in the coming “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon!—Rev. 16:14-16; 19:11-21.
32. Do all the nations of today have good reason not to know of all this, and what is it that the antagonistic disputants in Christendom cannot wipe out regarding Jehovah’s Christian witnesses?
32 By now, in this year 1971, do all the nations have good reason not to know of all this? Due to the failure of Christendom with her more than nine hundred million enrolled church members, has Jehovah failed to have his faithful, outspoken witnesses in this twentieth century, in our very own generation? Absolutely No! The church-bound peoples of Christendom may dispute that those internationally known as Jehovah’s Christian witnesses today are really witnesses of the Most High God. They may say that these have no right to that name and are false prophets. They may accordingly oppose, misrepresent and persecute them so as to force them to stop doing the witness work all around the globe. But those antagonistic peoples of Christendom as well as those of so-called heathendom can never wipe out the record that these Christian witnesses of Jehovah of this twentieth century have made in more than two hundred lands and in some one hundred and sixty languages.
33. So what are the opposing peoples of all Christendom obliged to admit respecting the work of Jehovah’s witnesses, and why has this been so?
33 They can never disprove that God’s name as set out thousands of times in the real text of the Holy Bible has been made known to the people world wide and that hundreds of thousands of persons of all races, nationalities, tribes and social groups have been helped to know and fear and serve Jehovah, the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is something that false prophets could never accomplish. (Deut. 18:15-22) Yes, those opposing peoples of all Christendom are obliged to admit that they have failed to stop the worldwide preaching and teaching on the part of these Christian witnesses of Jehovah till now. Why is this? It is because they have refused to heed the legal counsel that the religious lawyer Gamaliel gave to the first-century opposers of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses back there, when he said: “I say to you, Do not meddle with these men, but let them alone; (because, if this scheme or this work is from men, it will be overthrown; but if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them;) otherwise, you may perhaps be found fighters actually against God.”—Acts 5:34-39.
“PEOPLE FOR HIS NAME”
34. In that first century C.E., what happened to those meddlers with apostolic Christianity, and why has that raised a question as to the existence of Jehovah?
34 What became of those who meddled with those first-century Christian apostles and fellow believers? In the year 70 of our Common Era, instead of having overthrown apostolic Christianity, their own religious system was overthrown when old walled Jerusalem and her temple were destroyed, never to be rebuilt by Jewish hands. Their priesthood ceased to exist or maintain its identity. Let the facts speak as to whether those intolerant religious meddlers were “fighters actually against God.” That tragic event of the year 70 C.E. by no means meant that Jehovah ceased to exist, as if he were a God of the Israelites only, a national God that existed only as long as his historic nation existed. The immortal Jehovah, who is God without beginning and without end, has lived on, and still lives, despite the denials of all atheists. But, because of what happened in the year 70, has he since been without a nation?
35. Why was the ancient nation of Israel a “people for his name,” and why is there a problem as to their being Jehovah’s “people for his name” today?
35 It is a fact that, in the year 1473 B.C.E., when the prophet Moses was giving his farewell instructions to the nation of Israel before they crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land, he said to them: “Jehovah will establish you as a holy people to himself, just as he swore to you, because you continue to keep the commandments of Jehovah your God, and you have walked in his ways. And all the peoples of the earth will have to see that Jehovah’s name has been called upon you, and they will indeed be afraid of you.” (Deut. 28:9, 10) As Jehovah said to them, they had “become my special property out of all other peoples.” (Ex. 19:3-5) Through having His name called upon them, they were a “people for his name.” (Jer. 14:9; Dan. 9:19) But have the people of Israel continued to be a “people for his name” to this day? Has the setting up of the independent, untheocratic Republic of Israel in 1948 C.E. confirmed them as the “people for his name,” even though they do not keep the law of Moses and have no temple at Jerusalem that is called by the name of Jehovah? It is important for us to know.
36. Was Jesus a member of Jehovah’s “people for his name,” and how did Jehovah show his decision as to whether His name should be transferred from natural Israel?
36 The first century of our Common Era was the critical time for determining this question. Certainly Jesus Christ, born in Bethlehem-Judah in the family line of King David, was by birth a member of the “people for [Jehovah’s] name.” His very name Jesus includes the divine name, for it means “Jehovah Is Salvation.” But Jesus’ own nation disowned him. As for his followers, who were a small remnant of the Israelites, they became separated from the nation of Israel, and they became a spiritual nation. Under this situation, did the nation of natural, circumcised Israel continue to be the “people for his name” (Jehovah’s name), or was Jehovah’s name transferred and called upon the spiritual nation of Jesus’ followers? God himself decided the answer to this problem. On the day of Pentecost of the year 33 C.E. he poured out his holy spirit in fulfillment of His prophecy in Joel 2:28-32. Upon whom? Not upon the non-Christian Jews at the then-standing temple in Jerusalem, but upon the twelve apostles and other disciples of Jesus. Filled with spirit, they proclaimed God’s name.—Acts 2:1-36.
37, 38. (a) How many Jews became a part of Jehovah’s new “people for his name”? (b) When did Jehovah open the door for non-Jews to be added to this “people for his name”?
37 There, more than nineteen centuries ago, Jehovah began taking out a new people upon whom his name should be called or who are called by his name. (1 Pet. 2:9) Thousands of natural, circumcised Jews accepted Jesus as Messiah and became part of this “people for [Jehovah’s] name.” Not quite three and a half years later, Jehovah. God opened up the opportunity to the non-Jewish or Gentile nations. He sent the apostle Peter to enter a Gentile home in Caesarea and to proclaim the good news about Jesus the Messiah to Cornelius and his friends. Because of their belief, Jehovah poured out his holy spirit upon them. Thereby he made these believing Gentiles a part of the “people for his name.” Thereafter membership in this spiritual “people for his name” was open to all non-Israelite or Gentile nations. (Acts 10:1 to 11:18) This is true, not because we say so, but because the inspired disciple James, the half brother of Jesus Christ, said so. This was about thirteen years after the conversion of Gentile Cornelius and his friends. Speaking before a conference in Jerusalem, James said:
38 “Symeon [Peter] has related thoroughly how God for the first time turned his attention to the nations to take out of them a people for his name. And with this the words of the Prophets agree, just as it is written, ‘After these things I shall return and rebuild the booth of David . . . in order that those who remain of the men may earnestly seek Jehovah, together with people of all the nations, people who are called by my name, says Jehovah, who is doing these things.’”—Acts 15:12-18; Amos 9:12.
39. (a) Why has Jehovah not ceased to have a “people for his name” since Jerusalem’s destruction in 70 C.E.? (b) What is Jehovah completing today that he began nineteen centuries ago, and what proof thereof do we have?
39 Consequently, Jehovah did not cease to have a “people for his name” after the destruction of old walled Jerusalem and its temple in the year 70 C.E. and the dispersion of the natural circumcised Jews. He had the newly formed Christian “people for his name.” What Jehovah began back there in the first century, he is finishing up today in this twentieth century. Now, before the outbreak of the greatest tribulation of all human history upon this system of things, he is completing this spiritual “people for his name,” and today there is still a remnant of them on earth. If this is not so, then how can we account for what is now taking place on all inhabited continents and the islands of the seven seas? What? The name Jehovah is being made known and exalted on a scale never before realized since tremendous reproach was brought upon the divine name by the destruction of Jerusalem and its famous temple in the year 70 C.E. Let there be no mistake about it: Jehovah has his “people for his name” on earth today, and they are proving themselves to be just that, even if they are only a remnant.
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Do the teachings and practices of your church glorify the name of God? Does it teach hellfire, the Trinity? Has it ever shared in blessing the wars of your nation?
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Showing respect for the Divine Name, thousands of Christians at this assembly in Columbus, Ohio, July 1931, embraced the name “Jehovah’s Witnesses”
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Just as Jehovah made a great name for himself at the Red Sea, he will again make a name for himself at the coming war of Armageddon