Christendom’s Days Are Numbered!
SINCE the fourth century C.E., or for 1,600 years, the section of nations known as Christendom has dominated the earth. But in recent times Christendom has been thrown into fear by the rise of Communism. This godless ideology has gained strength as a serious threat to Christendom’s continued existence.
Additionally, right in Christendom’s own realm she is disintegrating. Church membership has decreased, and in some instances attendance has fallen so low that church buildings have been closed. Men are leaving the priesthood and the ministry. Faced with these and other significant evidences, the pastor of the largest church in Denver, Colorado, said:
“The truth is, in spite of the heritage and goodwill of the church, it is currently in a state of decline.”
A minister in Ontario remarked: “The times are tough and will no doubt get tougher for the men who wear round collars and preach sermons.”
Nevertheless, some may say, ‘Yes, but the churches will ride out the storm. Look at Christendom’s antiquity. True, it is a test on the church, but God will pull it through.’ Roman Catholic Archbishop James V. Casey looks for an early recovery: “I can’t help but feel,” he says, “the church will come out stronger in the 1970s than it was before.” And the Ontario minister who saw tough times ahead for the clergy added: “But they are exciting and challenging too.”
Is the rather halfhearted optimism expressed by such clergymen justified? If the final outcome were left in the hands of men, they might possibly see some ray of hope for Christendom’s survival. But it is really to God that Christendom has to account. The apostle Paul writes to those professing Christianity, pointing out to them that it is God “with whom we have an accounting.” (Heb. 4:13) Has Christendom come to her time to face God in an accounting?
Yes, the signs indicate that the days of Christendom’s churches are numbered, and the Bible points to that fact even more definitely. How does the Bible reveal this shocking truth?
AN ACCURATE PICTORIAL EXAMPLE
Well, besides saying much in the Christian Scriptures about the destruction of hypocritical false religion, the Bible tells us that things that occurred during Jerusalem’s ancient history were typical, and were recorded as a warning. They correspond with the things that would take place near the end of the present system of things. (Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11) This God-inspired record sets before us as a parallel of Christendom the case of Jerusalem. Jerusalem, as Christendom, professed to serve God, and her religious leaders also prophesied survival for her.
We go back to a time only about six years before Jerusalem was destroyed—very close to its end. Certainly a warning to Jerusalem’s inhabitants then would be timely and extremely urgent. God kindly provided it. In Jerusalem, God’s prophet Jeremiah was busy warning the people, while among the exiled Jews in Babylon Ezekiel was given a vision actually numbering the greatly shortened days of Jerusalem’s existence. In the vision, Ezekiel was shown that Jerusalem would face its accounting with God exactly three hundred and ninety years from the time that the division of Israel into two kingdoms had occurred. Alarming! Why? Because already three hundred and eighty-four years of that time had passed (997-613 B.C.E.). In 607 B.C.E. Jerusalem’s end would come!
What is there about Jerusalem’s position that should concern us now? This: that Christendom has come to the same corrupt condition that Jerusalem had then reached. Moreover, the same Ezekiel-like warning has been given to Christendom for more than fifty years now. By whom? Who acts as a modern-day “Ezekiel”? It is the association composed of true Christians, Christ’s spiritual brothers who are on earth today. In this work they have been assisted by thousands of others who have taken up the warning message and are carrying it to the people. These anointed spiritual brothers of Christ, as a body, serve as a “prophet” for God, and are witnesses for Jehovah.
The Ezekiel-like warning they give emphasizes the nearness of Christendom’s end. And it consists of information, not only from Ezekiel’s prophecy, but also from other parts of God’s Word the Bible. Bible chronology and the things fulfilling prophecy before our eyes make certain the early destruction of Christendom. Briefly the Bible gives us the following picture:
In the fall of 1914 C.E. the “Gentile Times” ended. These “times” embraced the period from the fall of God’s typical kingdom in 607 B.C.E. until 1914 C.E. (2,520 years). During this period the Gentile nations ruled as they pleased without interference from any kingdom representing God, either on earth or in heaven. But 1914 marked the time of the enthronement of Christ on the heavenly throne.* Christendom has been on judgment, especially since then, and since 1914 her record has been more bloodstained than in all her past history. She is responsible for two world wars, fought within her own realm, and nothing seems to deter her from preparing for a third one. Her sins of bloodshed, immorality, crime, delinquency, revolution, idolatry and spiritism are so great that, like Jerusalem, there is no longer any justification for her existence. She has proved to be a fighter against God and his Messianic kingdom.
When you read what God said about Jerusalem, notice how accurately it describes Christendom’s condition. God said to Ezekiel:
“This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said, ‘This is Jerusalem. In the midst of the nations I have set her, with lands all around her. And she proceeded to behave rebelliously against my judicial decisions in wickedness more than the nations, and against my statutes more than the lands that are all around her, for my judicial decisions they rejected and, as for my statutes, they did not walk in them.’
“Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said, ‘For the reason that you people were more turbulent than the nations that are all around you, in my statutes you did not walk and my judicial decisions you did not perform; but according to the judicial decisions of the nations that are all around you, you performed, did you not? Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said: “Here I am against you, O city, even I, and I will execute in the midst of you judicial decisions in the eyes of the nations. And I will do in you that which I have not done and the like of which I shall not do anymore by reason of all your detestable things.”’”—Ezek. 5:5-9.
BAD FOOD AND HEALTH CONDITIONS
Now, with Christendom more than fifty years in her “time of the end,” and in view of her internal state of affairs, it is evident that Christendom’s days must indeed be numbered. When these days end, then what? Jehovah told Ezekiel what would occur in the typical pattern, Jerusalem:
“And as for you, take for yourself wheat and barley and broad beans and lentils and millet and spelt, and you must put them in one utensil and make them into bread for you [such mixture of ingredients would be unclean to a law-abiding Jew. (Compare Leviticus 19:19.)], for the number of the days that you are lying upon your side; three hundred and ninety days you will eat it. And your food that you will eat will be by weight [as in a famine]—twenty shekels a day [slightly over eight ounces]. From time to time you will eat it. And water you will drink merely by measure, the sixth part of a hin [about a pint]. From time to time you will drink.”—Ezek. 4:9-11.
A starvation shortage that would bring on pestilence! But even more horrible things would occur:
“‘Therefore fathers themselves will eat sons in the midst of you, and sons themselves will eat their fathers, and I will execute in you acts of judgment and scatter all the remainder of you to every wind. Therefore as I am alive,’ is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, ‘surely for the reason that it was my sanctuary that you defiled with all your disgusting things and with all your detestable things, I myself also am the One that will diminish you and my eye will not feel sorry and I myself also will not show compassion. A third of you—by the pestilence they will die, and by famine they will come to their end in the midst of you.”’—Ezek. 5:10-12.
Then Jehovah showed Ezekiel that conditions in Jerusalem would get so bad that food would be almost nonexistent, and that they might even have to use dung as fuel. When Jehovah, in order to emphasize the extreme hardships that would develop, told Ezekiel to use human excrement as fuel, as the son of a priest he was horrified. The thought was revolting; so God allowed him to use cattle manure. Just as horrified as Ezekiel was about this, so the Jews would be at the conditions they would experience during Jerusalem’s siege by the Babylonians. Jehovah said:
“Son of man, here I am breaking the rods around which ring-shaped loaves are suspended, in Jerusalem, and they will have to eat bread by weight and in anxious care, and it will be by measure and in horror that they will drink water itself, to the intent that they may be lacking bread and water and they may look astonished at one another and rot away in their error.”—Ezek. 4:16, 17.
What about the survivors of the famine and pestilence? To show what would happen to them, Ezekiel was told to shave off his hair and his beard and to weigh it out in three portions. A third was to be burned with fire, another part struck with the sword and the last portion scattered to the wind.—Ezek. 5:1-4.
The third to be burned in the midst of the city would stand for those dying by famine and pestilence.—Ezek. 5:12.
The third of the hair struck with the sword would represent the portion of the people not dying by pestilence, but who would be killed with the sword of warfare.
The last third would symbolize the survivors of Jerusalem’s fall, who would suffer dispersal among the Gentile nations, as the hair that was scattered to the wind. They were scattered, not for a peaceful life in exile, but, as Jehovah said: “I shall draw out a sword itself after them.”—Ezek. 5:2.
Ezekiel evidently was to take a part of this last third of his hair and use it in two ways. God commanded him: “And you must take therefrom a few in number and wrap them up in your skirts. And others of them you will take and you must pitch them into the midst of the fire and incinerate them in the fire.”—Ezek. 5:3, 4.
By God’s undeserved kindness, the situation was therefore not absolutely hopeless for all Jerusalem’s inhabitants. The few hairs bound up in Ezekiel’s skirts would represent a remnant from among those taken captive. These would go into exile also, but they (or their offspring) would come back from the dispersion to take up a purified worship of Jehovah after the land of Judah had lain desolate for seventy years.
Nonetheless, for the captives in general, it would be a very hard, sad experience. The consuming fire of Jehovah’s anger would be against them, for God said of those represented by the hairs from the last third pitched into the fire: “From one a fire will go forth to all the house of Israel.” Like human hair, they would be very combustible and would not enjoy Jehovah’s protection.—Ezek. 5:4.
NO SURVIVAL TO BETTER TIMES FOR CHRISTENDOM
Are such terrible things coming upon Christendom? Well, already we see that declining church attendance is causing churches and related seminaries and other institutions to begin to suffer and perish from lack of contributions and patronage. This is because the clergy have not fed the people true spiritual food from God’s Word. Many have not read the Bible and an increasing number are losing all belief in it and even in God. Like Israel, “the whole head is in a sick condition, and the whole heart is feeble.” (Isa. 1:5) Those who do not bother themselves to discern this fact now will find it too late when Christendom’s days run out. All the signs show this time is dangerously near.
Consequently, just as Jerusalem was turned over to the full fury of the Babylonian armies, so Christendom will not escape devastation at the hands of disgusted worldly elements. God will not pull her through, for it is God himself that is directing her execution. Any associated with Christendom who survive the destruction of false religion in the “great tribulation” will not come through to any improved, long-lived future. They will experience only the fire of Jehovah’s anger and his symbolic “sword” of judicial execution in the final part of the “great tribulation,” the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at the world situation called Har–Magedon.—Rev. 16:14-16; 19:11-21.
What is the value of considering all these things? It is of the greatest value to you. For there is a way to escape Christendom’s execution. Recall the few hairs that Ezekiel wrapped up in his skirts. It is not yet too late for those associated with Christendom’s churches to listen to the Ezekiel-like warning now being proclaimed by Jehovah’s Christian witnesses, and find the place that He has kindly provided for refuge from his burning anger. How can we be assured that there is such a place of refuge?
We can be sure because God has stated his purpose to have a “new earth,” a righteous human society upon this earth. He does not purpose to leave a religious vacuum. To the contrary, his very purpose in destroying false religion is to have pure worship unrivaled and undisputed in the earth.—Gen. 1:28; 2 Pet. 3:13.
Therefore the people who will survive the “great tribulation” are those who will not let themselves continue to be deceived and fooled by the hypocritical, lying claims of religious clergymen. They must also be people who care about what is happening, not only to themselves, but also to others. They must think and reason. They must realize that there is TRUTH in the earth, and that Jehovah is the God of truth. They must recognize, as did a few in ancient Jerusalem, the life-or-death need to “set matters straight” with Jehovah to avoid being ‘eaten up’ by the sword of execution.—Isa. 1:18-20; compare John 8:32.
Since Christendom’s days are fast running out, it means that immediate, definite, decisive action must be taken by all who want to live. The coming “great tribulation” will not be easy for anyone, for, as the apostle Peter wrote: “If the righteous man is being saved with difficulty, where will the ungodly man and the sinner make a showing?” But he also said: “Jehovah knows how to deliver people of godly devotion out of trial.”—1 Pet. 4:18; 2 Pet. 2:9; Matt. 24:21, 22.
See the book The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life, chapter 10, published by Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, Brooklyn, New York.