The Name in Which All Nations Are Choosing to Walk
“All the peoples, for their part, will walk each one in the name of its god; but we, for our part, shall walk in the name of Jehovah our God to time indefinite, even forever.”—Mic. 4:5.
1. Though divided religiously, the people of a nation will idolize and worship what unifying god?
THE United Nations, as an organization for world peace and security, has as of now 132 member nations. There are other nations outside. Each one of the political nations has an ideal that holds its people together under one government. So it walks or goes in the name of that ideal; that is to say, it goes as an adherent or follower of that common ideal. Before long the people start idolizing that ideal. To them it becomes a god that they adore and consider to be above all private, personal interests. Thus the people may be divided religiously, and yet they will worship that national ideal as a unifying god.
2. How do millions of people who claim to be godless contradict themselves in reality?
2 Millions of people claim to be godless, atheistic, not committed to any god. But they contradict themselves by worshiping a national god. Since the American Revolution (1775-1783) we have heard much of “the goddess of Liberty.” Or, the god or goddess may be this thing called democracy, people rule. Or, it may be the bitter foe of democracy, namely, international Communism. People will adhere to these political principles with a tenacity that amounts to fanatical religious devotion. Besides, each of the nations guards jealously what it views as its “national sovereignty,” just as though it were a god that must not be violated or lost. In some nations many people idolize a strong military establishment that will give the nation a position of strength from which to deal with other nations. Concerning the modern-day “king of the north,” it was long ago foretold: “To the god of fortresses, in his position he will give glory.”—Dan. 11:38.
3 The inspired writer of ancient times correctly sized up the course of modern nations in saying: “All the peoples, for their part, will walk each one in the name of its god.” (Mic. 4:5) Each of these gods is very popular in its own locality. That is why, if an individual who really knows what it is all about refuses to go along with the crowd, there is great offense taken toward that individual. Indignation is felt almost to the point of taking violent action toward the offender. But the question is, Of what value are those idolatrous “gods”? To what are they leading the peoples of the nations? To these questions the present world situation ought to give the most convincing answer, especially in view of the unchanging current of world affairs and conditions. We are obliged to agree that the ancient writer made a proper estimate of popular deities when he said: “All the gods of the peoples are valueless gods.”—Ps. 96:5.
4. The choice of individuals today is between what courses, and who today are making the choice that brings safety?
4 It is high time that the peoples woke up as regards the value of their popular gods. The “gods” that have got them into the present muddle are unable to get them out of it and cannot be depended on to get them out of it. If “the peoples” do not wake up, then, at least, individuals should do so, before the whirlpool of rapidly happening world events drags, sucks them down into destruction. Our being pulled out of this disastrous vortex to safety can result only from choosing the right God and walking in the name of that God. Either we continue to go in the name of some popular god, or we choose to go in another direction, walking in the name of a God better than all the popular gods of the peoples of the nations. The choice of this latter course, the right course, is yet possible for lovers of life and happiness. In recent years hundreds of thousands all around the globe have been awakened to the meaning of world events and have made the happy choice. It is not yet too late for others to do likewise.
5. Did sincerity alone have a part in their taking this courageous course, and why is it the correct course?
5 Courageous such a course? Yes, indeed! Taking such a courageous course must certainly call for sincerity. Their sincerity in taking this course is not questioned for a moment, but does the mere sincerity as evidenced in their taking of this course make it the right course? No! Hence, the courageous course is being adopted not in sincerity alone, but on the basis of reliable information, correct knowledge. And this under trustworthy guidance, better than the guidance of “valueless gods.” The correctness of the course is proved by the fact that it was foretold in a prophecy that has turned out to be no lie but the truth. All the features of this prophecy are true, because it comes from a God whom no one can accuse of having told a lie, for he does not lie. After more than four thousand years of his dealing with mankind it could still be written of Him: “It is impossible for God to lie.” (Heb. 6:18; Titus 1:2) This is the God in whose name more and more persons are choosing to walk today.
6. This prophecy comes from what kind of locality, and when was it delivered by the prophet?
6 So the prophecy that correctly foretold this striking event of our day came from no mythical place of origin. This place is historical—a land that is known world wide today, it being much in the news—Israel. The God-inspired speaker of the prophecy was a man named Micah, who identified himself with the town of Moresheth in the territory of the tribe of Judah and about twenty-two miles southwest of Jerusalem. He lived during the reign of three historical kings, namely, “Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah, kings of Judah.” (Mic. 1:1) That locates Micah in the eighth century before our Common Era, and so his prophesying must have ended before 716 B.C.E.
7. What about Micah strengthens our confidence in his prophecy, and what later prophet refers to this?
7 However, what should strengthen our confidence that Micah was a true prophet of a true, living God, is not just his historicalness, but also his courage to tell his message even though he risked his life by doing so. In his day kings had practically absolute power, power over the life or death of their subjects. (Prov. 16:14) This caliber of the prophet Micah is called to our attention on the later occasion of where the prophet Jeremiah in Jerusalem was threatened with death by Jewish leaders who took exception to speech that seemed unpatriotic and subversive to them. Let us read Jeremiah’s own account of this:
8. How does Jeremiah 25:16-19 bring in this reference to Micah’s courageous prophecy?
8 “Then the princes and all the people said to the priests and to the prophets: ‘There is no judgment of death belonging to this man, for it was in the name of Jehovah our God that he spoke to us.’ Furthermore, certain ones of the older men of the land rose up and began saying to all the congregation of the people: ‘Micah of Moresheth himself happened to be prophesying in the days of Hezekiah the king of Judah and went on to say to all the people of Judah, “This is what Jehovah of armies has said: ‘Zion herself will be plowed up as a mere field, and Jerusalem herself will become mere heaps of ruins, and the mountain of the House will be for high places of a forest.’” Did Hezekiah the king of Judah and all those of Judah by any means put him to death? Did he not fear Jehovah and proceed to soften the face of Jehovah, so that Jehovah got to feeling regret for the calamity that he had spoken against them? So we are working up a great calamity against our souls.’”—Jer. 26:16-19.
9. (a) How did Micah meet the three basic requirements of a true prophet? (b) What does the name Micah mean, and what does Isaiah 26:4 say is the proper way to react to that challenging question?
9 Without question, Micah proved to be a true prophet of the one true God, meeting the three basic requirements. That is to say: (1) He spoke in the name of the true God. (2) His prophecies came true. (3) His prophecies tended and worked to turn honest persons to the one true God. (Deut. 13:1-5; 18:20-22) Beyond all question of doubt, Micah walked in the name of his God. His very name is a challenge to all of us to compare his God with all the “valueless gods” that the peoples of the nations are worshiping, for his Hebrew name, Micah, means “Who Is Like Jah?” The proper way for us to react to that challenging question was advised by a prophet who was a contemporary of Micah, namely, Isaiah, when he wrote: “Trust in Jehovah, you people, for all times, for in Jah Jehovah is the Rock of times indefinite.”—Isa. 26:4; 12:2.
A TURNING POINT IN HISTORY
10. (a) Factually, what must be our answer to the question raised in Micah’s name? (b) What question comes up about our answering this way, and to what turning point in history did Micah refer for our guidance in this matter?
10 If we want to answer the challenging question set forth in Micah’s name, the facts would oblige us to answer: “There is no one like Jah Jehovah!” This being the case, the question that now confronts us is, What are we going to do about this? Our doing the right thing about it would mark a turning point in our life, even in the lives of many persons who claim to be Christians. This change would be in line with what the prophet Micah foretold. In his prophecies he pointed forward to the turning point in human history. No, we do not here mean Micah’s prophecy that the promised Messiah or Christ would be born as a man in the little town of Bethlehem in the land of Judah. (Mic. 5:2) The time of the fulfillment of that prophecy is used as the beginning of what Christendom calls “the Christian era,” even though she is not exactly sure of the precise date of Christ’s birth. (Matt. 2:1-6; Luke 2:4-17) That was not quite two thousand years ago. But the turning point in all human history to which we refer is the one that was reached within our own generation. The prophet Micah pointed forward to this!
11. By referring to what did Micah introduce this glorious prophecy, and why should we look to see its fulfillment in our own generation?
11 Micah foretold what would take place at this turn of events. Are we today seeing this take place? We should be seeing it, since we are in the right period of history. When Micah prophetically described what we can see taking place today, he introduced it by foretelling what proved to be a turning point in the history of his own nation. This prophecy had its fulfillment in the century after Micah, and so he did not live to see what he foretold come true. In that way he escaped a national calamity. But this calamity upon his own nation has had a parallel within our modern generation, for which reason it deserves our consideration. So let us read what Micah wrote and see how well it introduces a glorious prophecy that finds fulfillment in this very twentieth century:
12. In Micah 3:9–4:1, what bad religious condition did the prophet describe, and what changes did he foretell about “the mountain of the house of Jehovah”?
12 “Hear, please, this, you head ones of the house of Jacob and you commanders of the house of Israel, the ones detesting justice and the ones who make even everything that is straight crooked; building Zion with acts of bloodshed and Jerusalem with unrighteousness. Her own head ones judge merely for a bribe, and her own priests instruct just for a price, and her own prophets practice divination simply for money; yet upon Jehovah they keep supporting themselves, saying: ‘Is not Jehovah in the midst of us? There will come upon us no calamity.’ Therefore on account of you men Zion will be plowed up as a mere field, and Jerusalem herself will become mere heaps of ruins, and the mountain of the house will be as the high places of a forest. And it must occur in the final part of the days that the mountain of the house of Jehovah will become firmly established above the top of the mountains, and it will certainly be lifted up above the hills; and to it peoples must stream.”—Mic. 3:9 through 4:1.
13. When did that turn of events take place in ancient times?
13 Does that quotation from Micah sound like a sharp turn in the events of a nation? There can be no question of doubt that the grand final part of this prophecy must come true, for the words of prophecy introducing it most certainly came true. Recorded history is there to show it. In the year 607 B.C.E., near the beginning of what would be our month of October, the city over there in the Middle East that is poetically called “Zion” did lie like a mere field that had been plowed up. Yes, the national capital Jerusalem was left lying as mere heaps of ruins.
14. (a) What did “the mountain of the house of Jehovah” then begin to look like? (b) Because of what judicial and religious practices had Jehovah willed that this take place?
14 And what about the 2,500-foot-high mountain upon which Jehovah’s house of worship that had been built by King Solomon used to stand in awe-striking beauty? That sacred mountain began to look like “the high places of a forest.” It was deserted like a forested hilltop. Was that a disgrace for Jehovah God? Seemingly so. And yet he had willed it to be so, for he inspired his prophet Micah to be the first one to foretell such a religious calamity. He had all the reason in the world for doing so, especially since Jerusalem was being filled with unrighteousness and defiled by unjustified acts of bloodshed. What else could be expected for a city when her headmen let their eyes be blinded to justice by accepting bribes, when the temple priests carried on religious instruction for a fixed price and when imitation prophets carried on demonistic divination to make money off the gullible people? And yet those religious hypocrites felt that they were walking in the name of Jehovah, or that Jehovah would continue to be in their midst at his temple, to protect them against calamity! No wonder that Micah’s prophecy, although so shocking, came true.
15. (a) What means did Jehovah use to bring the foretold national calamity, and when? (b) What happened to governmental and religious things at Jerusalem, and what happened to Jehovah’s rating as a god?
15 Religion is no defense for hypocrites. The religious hypocrites were disappointed in what they wrongly expected of Jehovah, in spite of what Micah was used to foretell. By what means, then, did Jehovah bring a national calamity upon them in 607 B.C.E.? It was by means of the Babylonians under King Nebuchadnezzar. After about eighteen months of besieging Jerusalem, the Babylonian army broke into the city, plundered it and its temple, led off the miserable survivors captive, and burned down the holy city. The royal throne, “Jehovah’s throne,” as it was called, upon which the line of kings of the royal family of David sat, vanished, as well as Jehovah’s “ark of the covenant” that had been located in the innermost compartment, “the Most Holy,” of the temple. Thus the kingdom of David, then 463 years old at Jerusalem, was broken down. Also, the full-scale worship of Jehovah at his temple was interrupted. Jehovah’s rating as a god dropped sharply among the pagan nations. The worship of Him nosedived to a deep low in the estimation of the world nations. His holy name seemed profaned.
16. What were observing pagan nations led to believe about the rising of Jehovah’s worship again at Jerusalem, and why?
16 Would Jehovah’s worship ever rise again? That was doubtless the question in the minds of many interested pagans. If they had known and believed the prophecies of Micah and Isaiah and Jeremiah and other prophets of Jehovah they would have known the answer to be Yes! But the unbelieving pagans and those who despised the worship of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob thought not. Year after year wore on, up to the seventieth year, and there was no restoration of Jehovah’s worship at the holy city. Jerusalem continued to be a heap of ruins; Zion continued to be like a mere field all roughed up as if by plowing. The temple mountain was like a deserted mound in a jungle. Instead of temple instrumental music and songs, the harsh, untuneful calls of birds and wild animals rose up therefrom. The observing pagans round about seemed to have reason to believe that, with Jehovah’s people in exile largely in Babylon, His worship would die out.
17. What turn of events happened regarding Babylon, and how did another branch of the human family assume world power?
17 Yet, never let anyone think that worship of the true God can be wiped out! Little did those who drew satisfaction from the calamitous decline in the worship of Jehovah realize that a turn of events was at hand. In a startling way it came. At the end of sixty-eight years of Jerusalem’s lying desolate without man or domestic beast, the mighty Third World Power of Bible history fell. As foretold by the prophets of the God who never lies, Jehovah, the empire of Babylon fell. Babylon by her terrifying armies had destroyed Jehovah’s temple at Jerusalem by his permission, but she did not get away unpunished with that presumptuous act of insult to the one living and true God. World power by Semitic rulers ceased. By a turn of events, world power by Aryan or Japhetic rulers began, to continue on down till our own day. The Persian conqueror, Cyrus the Great, became king of Babylon and of the Fourth World Power of Bible history. Babylonian religion now took a tumble. Her chief god, Merodach or Marduk, crashed in disgrace.
18. (a) What prophecy of Jeremiah regarding Babylon’s god and her land was then due to begin fulfillment? (b) How has Babylon’s desolation compared with that which she caused to Jerusalem?
18 It became the time for the prophet Jeremiah’s words to be carried out: “Tell it among the nations and publish it. And lift up a signal; publish it. Hide nothing, O men. Say, ‘Babylon has been captured. Bel [The Lord] has been put to shame. Merodach has become terrified. . . . For against her a nation has come up from the north. It is the one that makes her land an object of astonishment, so that there proves to be no one dwelling in her. Both man and domestic animal have taken flight. They have gone away.”’ (Jer. 50:2, 3) This prophecy has meaning for us today. Where, we can ask, is Babylon on the Euphrates River in what is today the land of Iraq? It is nothing but a desolate ruin, suffering a fate like that which she had inflicted upon ancient Jerusalem, only her desolation has continued for centuries more than a thousand years, whereas Jerusalem’s desolation lasted just seventy years.
JEHOVAH TAKES ASCENDANCY AS GOD
19. After Persia’s conquest of Babylon, which god took the ascendancy, and whom did this god use for the restoring of his temple?
19 At Babylon’s surprising comedown in 539 B.C.E., which god ascended to international importance? The national god of the victorious Persians or the god of the exiles in Babylon, Jehovah? The prophecy of Micah, together with prophecies of other men inspired of God, indicated that Jehovah would take the ascendancy. He did, in proof that his prophecies are infallible. Said Micah under inspiration: “And in the future days the mountain of Jehovah’s house shall be set at the head of the mountains, lifted above hills, and peoples shall stream to it.” (Mic. 4:1, Byington’s translation) In order to bring about a primary or typical fulfillment of that challenging prophecy, Jehovah God used as an instrument King Cyrus the Great, a worshiper of the chief god of victorious Persia. Jehovah, in His superiority, made the worshiper of a false god work for Him toward restoring Jerusalem’s temple.
20. In fulfillment of what prophecy concerning the Persian conquerer did this take place, and when and how?
20 How so? Well, Jehovah spoke of himself as “the One saying of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd, and all that I delight in he will completely carry out’; even in my saying of Jerusalem, ‘She will be rebuilt,’ and of the temple, ‘You will have your foundation laid.’” (Isa. 44:27, 28) King Cyrus did completely carry out the thing in which Jehovah delighted, though this was contrary to what the national god of Persia delighted to have done. In the year 537 B.C.E., the seventieth year of the desolation of Jerusalem and its temple, Jehovah stirred up the spirit of Cyrus to decree that the temple should be rebuilt at Jerusalem. To that end Cyrus decreed that the exiles in Babylon who would volunteer for this temple work should be released from Babylon and go back to “the mountain of the house of Jehovah.” (2 Chron. 36:20-23; Ezra 1:1-4) By the end of that seventieth year of Jerusalem’s desolation a faithful remnant of temple-work volunteers were back in the land of Judah, bringing to an end its desolation. In the spring of the next year (536 B.C.E.) the foundation of the second temple of Jerusalem was laid.—Ezra 3:8-12.
21. Despite what was Jehovah’s second temple completed, and when?
21 This was not to the liking of the pagan opposers of the worship of Jehovah. But their opposition could not win out over the Almighty God. So, after years of active opposition by these defiant pagans, Jehovah’s second temple at Jerusalem was completed by his faithful remnant in wintertime, on the third day of the lunar month of Adar in the year 515 B.C.E.—Ezra 6:15.
22. How was “the mountain of the house of Jehovah” “firmly established above the top of the mountains,” both as to the restored remnant and as to pagan nations and peoples?
22 In order to be used in doing this, the restored remnant had to elevate Jehovah’s worship above all other things in their lives, and put down the worship of the false gods that their forefathers had unfaithfully adopted. Jehovah’s worship, as represented by “the mountain of the house of Jehovah,” rose above the lofty elevation that pagan nations gave to their demon gods, these being worshiped in many cases on natural high places such as hilltops and mountaintops. In a figurative sense, the mountain of Jehovah’s house of worship was “firmly established above the top of the mountains” and was “lifted up above the hills.” Respect for Jehovah’s worship assumed the supreme position, not only among his chosen people but also among many individuals of pagan nations and peoples. Doubtless many of suchlike individuals came up to Jerusalem to worship the true God, just as those religious proselytes did in the days of the Christian apostles and just as that royal eunuch of Ethiopia did, whom the evangelizer Philip was delegated to convert to Christianity.—Acts 2:5-10; 8:26-39; John 12:20, 21.
23. (a) In whose name did those individuals from the nations and people begin walking? (b) What kind of fulfillment of the prophecy was that, and, since the Messiah’s coming, what question arises as to walking in the name?
23 Instead of walking in the name of their former gods, those individuals from all the various nations and peoples walked in the name of the God whose worship was most highly exalted, Jehovah. Truly that was a fulfillment of the prophecy of Micah. But only a partial fulfillment, a miniature or typical one. The full, complete fulfillment did not take place back there before Jehovah God sent his Messiah into the earth. The final, culminating fulfillment of Micah’s glorious prophecy was timed to come in our twentieth century. How is it occurring? Is it because we are living in the century when Christendom has grown to its greatest extent, or to an estimated nine hundred million members and more among nations all around the globe? And has this not caused a change to come about? Since the coming of the Messiah or Christ, is it not the right thing for us to walk in the name of the Messiah, Jesus, instead of in the name of Jehovah? Are the churches of Christendom the fulfillment of Micah’s prophecy? This deserves examination—here!