The God of Justice Will Act
DOES it trouble you when you see or hear about injustices and oppression? Are you grieved that lawless persons, by means of bribery, are able to escape being brought to justice? Do you feel sick at heart that millions of persons are starving, largely because of the world’s present economic system? In view of the spread of loathsome venereal disease and the increase in sexual assaults, abortions and illegitimate births, are you incensed at clergymen who, instead of upholding the Bible’s standards, condone sexual immorality?
Manifestly honest-hearted persons throughout the earth have reason to be grieved about what is happening today. If they had the wisdom and power to bring about a beneficial change, they would doubtless do so. Is it not reasonable, therefore, that a loving God who has both the wisdom and power will act in behalf of those who want to do what is right? Indeed, we can have confidence that he will do so, for he has promised to make “all things new,” to remove all causes for mourning, pain and outcry. (Rev. 21:4, 5) His word of promise is dependable. It is backed by a long record of faithful performance in the past.
Consider the situation that came to prevail in ancient Jerusalem and the land of Judah and how Jehovah God dealt with it:
The corruption that came to exist among the Israelites was much like that existing today in the political, commercial and religious systems of the world, especially those of Christendom. Rulers were oppressive. Violence and bloodshed increased. The poor and afflicted simply could not get justice. Religious leaders ceased to be a force for righteousness, and idolatrous practices abounded.—2 Ki. 21:11-16; Jer. 18:18; 22:13-16; Hab. 1:4.
While Jehovah God for a time put up with the unfaithfulness of his covenant people, he sent prophets to warn them that in due course his exercise of forbearance would end. One of these prophets was raised up from among the Israelites who had been taken into Babylonian exile in 617 B.C.E. Less than two and a half years before the start of the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem in expression of divine judgment, Ezekiel was given this command:
“Son of man, set your face toward Jerusalem and drip words toward the holy places, and prophesy against the soil of Israel. And you must say to the soil of Israel, ‘This is what Jehovah has said: “Here I am against you, and I will bring forth my sword out of its sheath and cut off from you righteous one and wicked one. In order that I may actually cut off from you righteous one and wicked one, therefore my sword will go forth from its sheath against all flesh from south to north.”’”—Ezek. 21:2-4.
Thus Jehovah depicted himself as a warrior who would act against the “wicked” and the “righteous,” evidently meaning those who imagined themselves to be righteous. The “sword” that Jehovah would use was apparently the earthly agency for executing judgment, though it may also have included his unseen heavenly organization of mighty spirit creatures. The earthly agency proved to be Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar and his armies. As a symbolic “sword,” the Babylonians moved against the Kingdom of Judah, which lay southwest of Babylon and south of the territory once occupied by the ten-tribe Kingdom of Israel. But the executional work of the symbolic “sword” did not confine itself to the “south.” The “sword” moved “from south to north” against “all flesh,” against surrounding non-Israelite nations. Why?
Through his prophet Ezekiel, Jehovah provided the answer: “All those of flesh will have to know that I myself, Jehovah, have brought forth my sword from its sheath. No more will it go back.” (Ezek. 21:5) Those on the “soil of Israel” and in Jerusalem were not the only sinners against him. Surrounding peoples, “all flesh,” were also sinners against him and deserved to be punished. They were not to get the idea that, because of not being Israelite flesh, they had escaped Jehovah’s attention. They were not to imagine that they were more righteous than Israel. All those nations who had ill will against Jehovah’s people were to be struck by the symbolic “sword.” Since Jehovah had announced this beforehand, “all those of flesh” would be made to know that He was battling against them.
A LESSON FOR TODAY
Jehovah God has not changed his view of people who persist in wrongdoing. Bible prophecy establishes that within this generation God’s “sword” will strike the nations and people who oppose him. (Matt. 24:34) Just as the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the land of Judah experienced calamity before the surrounding nations did, so Christendom will be the first to feel the painful effects of that “sword.” Why so? This is because Christendom is the antitype of unfaithful Jerusalem of ancient times. Christendom claims to be the “house of God,” enjoying a special standing and relationship with God by means of his “new covenant.” Hence judgment must begin with her, as evident from the principle set forth at 1 Peter 4:17, 18: “It is the appointed time for the judgment to start with the house of God. Now if it starts first with us, what will the end be of those who are not obedient to the good news of God? ‘And if the righteous man is being saved with difficulty, where will the ungodly man and the sinner make a showing?’”
The “sword” of Jehovah, however, will not stop its activity with the destruction of Christendom, the antitype of ancient Jerusalem that lay southward from Babylon as a “southern quarter.” That “sword” in modern times will likewise be brandished against “all flesh from south to north.” All the other false, hypocritical religious systems must also be devoted to destruction.
No one should think that Christendom will somehow be able to escape Jehovah’s executional “sword.” Evidently many inhabitants of Jerusalem thought they would be left unpunished because of their assumed favored position with God. This may be inferred from the fact that, when allowing for the activity of the symbolic “sword,” Ezekiel introduced the question, “Shall we exult?” (Ezek. 21:10) The unfaithful inhabitants of Jerusalem were apparently exulting because of thinking themselves to be God’s people and having the temple or house of God in their midst. Then, too, their king was a descendant of David, with whom God had made a covenant for an everlasting kingdom. Being anointed with oil into his office, that king was the “anointed one of Jehovah.” And, as a descendant of David, he was said to sit upon “Jehovah’s throne.” (2 Sam. 7:4-16; 1 Chron. 29:23; Lam. 4:20) All exulting over such favored circumstances, though, was in vain. Through Ezekiel Jehovah plainly stated:
“Say, ‘A sword, a sword! It has been sharpened, and it is also polished. For the purpose of organizing a slaughter it has been sharpened; for the purpose of its getting a glitter it has been polished.’ . . . ‘Is it rejecting the scepter of my own son, as it does every tree? And one gives it to be polished, in order to wield it with the hand. It—a sword has been sharpened, and it—it has been polished, in order to give it into the hand of a killer. . . . it itself has come to be against my people; it is against all the chieftains of Israel. The very ones hurled to the sword have come to be with my people. . . . an extermination has been made, and what of it if it is rejecting also the scepter? This will not continue existing,’ is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah.”—Ezek. 21:9-13.
Jehovah’s “sword” would reject even the royal scepter of the Kingdom of Judah just like any other national scepter or “tree.” One persisting in stubborn rebellion would not be spared because of being like a “son” to Jehovah on the royal throne at Jerusalem. Jehovah was against all unfaithful ones and would therefore give the “sword” into the hand of the “killer,” his agency for executing judgment. In fulfillment of Jehovah’s word, the highest earthly chieftain of Israel, King Zedekiah, was not spared. Royal rule in the house of David ceased. Thus the scepter or the emblem of royal power in an active sense did not “continue existing.”
The frightful movements of the symbolic “sword” were enough to make an Israelite cry out and howl and, instead of beating his bosom like a woman, to slap his right thigh. It was enough to make him slap his hands together in astonishment, if not in fear. As Jehovah instructed Ezekiel:
“Cry out and howl, O son of man, . . . make a slap on the thigh. . . . And you, O son of man—prophesy, and strike palm against palm, and ‘A sword!’ should be repeated for three times. The sword of the slain ones it is. It is the sword of someone slain who is great, which is making an encirclement of them. In order for the heart to melt and in order to multiply those who are overthrown at all their gates, I will make a slaughter by the sword. Alas, it is made for a glittering, polished for a slaughter! Show yourself [Sword personified] sharp; go to the right! Set your position; go to the left! To wherever your face is directed! And I myself also shall strike my one palm against my other palm, and I will bring my rage to its rest. I myself, Jehovah, have spoken.”—Ezek. 21:12-17.
In agreement with this ancient pattern of action, the unchangeable God Jehovah will not permit any who are not his approved servants in our day to escape his encircling executional “sword.” Once it goes into operation that symbolic “sword” will not come to rest until it has annihilated all practicers of wickedness, including those who boast in their self-righteousness. Even Christendom’s kings will not be spared. The fact that the religious clergy have anointed kings to reign “By the Grace of God” means nothing to the Supreme Sovereign. The claims of such rulers to exemption from execution will be rejected by the agency that Jehovah will use as his executional “sword.” That executional agency will consist primarily of God’s Son Jesus Christ and hosts of mighty spirit creatures, angels. (Rev. 19:11-21) So protection can be had only by knowing God’s will and living in harmony with it. This is in keeping with the inspired advice: “Seek Jehovah, all you meek ones of the earth, who have practiced His own judicial decision. Seek righteousness, seek meekness. Probably you may be concealed in the day of Jehovah’s anger.”—Zeph. 2:3.
SOUNDING A WARNING
The fact that the destruction of Christendom and all the rest of this system of things is certain makes it imperative that a warning be issued. That is why Jehovah’s Christian witnesses, the anointed remnant and their goodwill companions, spare no effort to sound this warning. In view of the destructive fury to be unleashed by the symbolic “sword,” their feelings are the same as those the prophet Ezekiel was told to express visibly:
“O son of man, sigh with shaking hips. Even with bitterness you should sigh before their eyes. And it must occur that, in case they say to you, ‘On account of what are you sighing?’ you must say, ‘At a report.’ For it will certainly come, and every heart must melt and all hands must drop down and every spirit must become dejected and all knees themselves will drip with water. ‘Look! It will certainly come and be brought to occur,’ is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah.”—Ezek. 21:6, 7.
The prophetic report of the frightful destruction to come upon Jerusalem was reason enough for Ezekiel to sigh and shake. When that report was fulfilled and news of Jerusalem’s destruction reached Babylon, the hitherto unbelieving Jewish exiles there must have given way to horrified excitement. Their knees likely dripped with more than mere sweat. Doubtless they were so weakened in spirit that the sphincter muscles of their bladders released, causing their knees to drip with urine.
The destruction to come upon Christendom soon will be even more frightening. The prophetic “report” of that calamity contained in God’s Word deeply stirs the inward feelings of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses. Their concern about the safety of fellow humans then is now motivating Jehovah’s witnesses to be diligent in proclaiming this “report” so that others might take steps to escape destruction. How are you responding to that “report”? Is it causing you to take positive action to seek God’s righteousness before he acts?