Why Trust in God?
THE Supreme One, the Sovereign of the universe, Jehovah God, wants as his servants only those who trust him fully. Any claiming to be his people but proving false to him in attitude, word and action cannot expect to receive his approval and blessing. God’s Word says: “Cursed is the able-bodied man who puts his trust in earthling man and actually makes flesh his arm, and whose heart turns away from Jehovah himself.”—Jer. 17:5.
Surely we do not want to be among the cursed ones. Since Jehovah God does not change, whatever led to people’s being blessed or cursed in the past will lead to the same consequences today. (Mal. 3:6) It is therefore wisdom on our part to take to heart the lessons of the ancient past as found in the Bible.
AN ANCIENT ALLEGORY
One such lesson is presented as an allegory in Ezekiel chapter 23. The allegory involves two sisters who failed to trust in God and looked elsewhere for blessing and protection. The older sister was Oholah and the younger one, Oholibah. Oholah is identified as representing Samaria, the final capital of the northern or ten-tribe kingdom of Israel, and Oholibah as representing Jerusalem, the capital of the southern kingdom of Judah. The capitals being representative of kingdoms, the sisters stand for two kingdoms. So their “mother” is the one national organization of Israel fathered by Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Jacob’s twelve sons.—Ezek. 23:2, 4.
From the start the record of the two sisters was not the best. “They began to prostitute themselves in Egypt. In their youth they committed prostitution.” (Ezek. 23:3) How was this? The descendants of Jacob, once settled in Egypt, failed to resist the snare of the idolatrous worship carried on in that land. Apparently they began to believe that something was to be gained by venerating the Egyptian deities. They ceased looking to Jehovah as the Source of real blessing and protection, and so became guilty of committing spiritual prostitution.
Of course, at the time the older sister Oholah and the younger sister Oholibah began prostituting themselves in Egypt, the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah had not come into existence. But the tribes of Israel that eventually made up those kingdoms did exist. The tribes that formed the northern kingdom, or Oholah, included those that descended from Jacob’s two oldest sons, Reuben and Simeon, and also from Jacob’s firstborn son by Rachel, namely, Joseph, whose two sons Ephraim and Manasseh became two distinct tribes. Hence Oholah could rightly be called the “older” sister.
“They came to be mine,” said Jehovah after describing the Egyptian experience of the two symbolic women. This occurred in 1513 B.C.E., when Jehovah delivered the Israelites and brought them formally into a covenant at Mount Sinai. Having entered into a covenant with Jehovah, the nation was “married” to him like a wife to a husband. The individual members of the nation became Jehovah’s organizational children and therefore Oholah and Oholibah could be spoken of as beginning to “give birth to sons and daughters” from that time onward.—Ezek. 23:4.
OHOLAH’S FAILURE TO TRUST IN JEHOVAH
It was not until 997 B.C.E., however, that the symbolic Oholah and Oholibah took definite form. In that year ten tribes of Israel refused further allegiance to the royal house of David and set up their own kingdom. This revolt did not cancel the covenant the entire nation had entered into with Jehovah at Mount Sinai. Both of the new kingdoms were still in this covenant and were therefore still subject to Jehovah as to a spiritual Husband. (1 Ki. 11:29-39) But the ten-tribe kingdom, Oholah, refused wifelike subjection to Jehovah and became idolatrous. Oholah (meaning “Her Tent”) set up her own tent for carrying on religious worship. She forgot Jehovah, for the northern kingdom went over to the worship of the golden calf and later adopted Baal worship. Oholah also lost her trust in Jehovah as her Protector and played politics with pagan nations, especially Assyria.—2 Ki. 15:17-22; Ezek. 23:5-8; Hos. 5:13; 12:1.
Oholah’s failure to trust in Jehovah and to remain faithful to him proved to be calamitous. Ezekiel 23:9, 10 states: “[Jehovah] gave her into the hand of those passionately loving her, into the hand of the sons of Assyria, toward whom she had lusted. They were the ones that uncovered her nakedness. Her sons and her daughters they took, and her they killed even with sword. And she came to be infamy to women, and acts of judgment were what they executed upon her.” Yes, Jehovah abandoned the northern kingdom to the brutal Assyrians who had passionately loved to force a worldly alliance upon it. The Assyrians acted as executioners of divine judgment, giving symbolic Oholah the treatment that an adulterous wife deserved. They “uncovered her nakedness” by stripping the land of her Israelite children, deporting them far off. And with the sword of war they killed her as a political nation, destroying her national capital Samaria, in 740 B.C.E. Oholah indeed became “infamy to women,” that is, to pagan kingdoms of that time. They looked down upon her as a nation that had gained shameful infamy for herself and they shuddered at her fate.
OHOLIBAH DOES NOT PROFIT FROM OHOLAH’S WARNING EXAMPLE
Oholibah, symbolizing the kingdom of Judah, had good reason to contemplate the fate of her sister kingdom. In keeping with the meaning of her name (“My Tent Is in Her”), Oholibah was favored in having Jehovah’s tent or temple in her capital city Jerusalem. But she failed to appreciate this. She defied the warning example of Oholah and carried on her spiritual prostitution in an even more extreme fashion.—Ezek. 23:11-17.
Forgetting Jehovah and her marriage-like covenant with him, Oholibah, the southern kingdom, also played politics with Assyria. This was notoriously so in the days of Judean king Ahaz. Contrary to the counsel of Jehovah by the prophet Isaiah, Ahaz called the Assyrian conqueror Tiglath-pileser to his aid against the allied kingdoms of Syria and Israel. (Isa. 7:1-20; 2 Ki. 16:5-10, 17, 18) King Hezekiah, successor to Ahaz, saw how disastrously Oholah’s courting the political favor of Assyria ended in the year 740 B.C.E., with the destruction of Samaria and its kingdom. Yet he, though delivered from the Assyrian king Sennacherib, entertained the friendly advances made by the Babylonians.—Isa. 37:36–39:7; 2 Ki. 19:35–20:18.
It was particularly toward the close of the seventh century B.C.E., when Jehoiakim and Zedekiah ruled as kings tributary to Babylon, that Oholibah “exercised her sensual desire more ruinously” than did her sister Oholah by courting the political favor of the Babylonian World Power. (Ezek. 23:11-16) This international intercourse kept up during the reigns of both kings until Oholibah tired of the domination of Babylon. So “her soul began to turn away disgusted” from the Babylonians by rebelling against the king of Babylon. (Ezek. 23:17) At that time Oholibah began “calling to mind the days of her youth, when she prostituted herself in the land of Egypt,” that is, she began looking southward to Egypt for military aid to support her rebellion.—Ezek. 23:19.
Oholibah’s course, like that of her sister, was bound to lead to calamity. Jehovah was disgusted with the kingdom of Judah. This meant that, as in the case of the northern kingdom, Jehovah would abandon the symbolic Oholibah into the hands of her passionate lovers. (Ezek. 23:18-23) So wicked was Oholibah that Jehovah could speak of her former lover, the Babylonians, as “righteous men,” that is, comparatively “righteous men.” They were also “righteous men” in the sense that they would execute Jehovah’s righteous judgment. (Ezek. 23:43-49) Through his prophet Ezekiel, Jehovah foretold what these lovers would do to Oholibah:
“They will set themselves against you all around, and I will give judgment over to them, and they must judge you with their judgments. And I will express my ardor against you, and they must take action against you in rage. Your nose and your ears they will remove, and the remainder of you will fall even by the sword. Your sons and your daughters they themselves will take, and the remainder of you will be devoured by the fire. And they will certainly strip off you your garments and take away your beautiful articles. And I shall actually cause your loose conduct to cease from you, and your prostitution carried from the land of Egypt; and you will not raise your eyes to them, and Egypt you will remember no more.”—Ezek. 23:24-27.
Accordingly, Jehovah God would allow Oholibah’s lovers to apply his judicial decisions according to their own cruel way. They would ruin Oholibah’s beautiful face or national appearance. Her anointed king and other prominent officials, who were like the “very breath of [her] nostrils,” would be taken away. (Lam. 4:20) Her priests, judges and literary men, who were like ears to listen and give balance to the headship of the nation, would also be removed violently. What was remaining of adulterous Oholibah would fall by the executional sword of the victorious Babylonians. Those of her sons and daughters surviving would be taken captive and enslaved. The remainder of her, in the way of nonportable material properties, would be “devoured by the fire.” Oholibah would thus be stripped of her garments and beautiful articles with which she practiced her allurements as a nation.
Oholibah may have thought that she could escape this calamity by regretting her association with Babylon and turning away in disgust. The Babylonians, however, would not forget her engagements with them. And her turning away from the Babylonians and coming to hate them did not clear her record with Jehovah God. Oholibah was not repenting over her spiritual adultery. She was still inclined to violate her covenant with Jehovah and adulterously enter alliances with pagan nations, such as Egypt, to ensure her safety. Hence Jehovah would expose her nakedness by laying bare her record as a shameless prostitute. Like her sister Oholah, she would be forced to drink a cupful of national destruction and deportation from her land. Oholibah would be forced to pay to the full the divine penalty for her unfaithfulness to God, as if having to gnaw and crunch the “earthenware fragments” of her cup in order to imbibe every last drop of moisture that had soaked into them. To the maliciously minded nations round about, Oholibah would become an “object of laughter and derision.” All these things came upon her in 607 B.C.E. when Jerusalem was destroyed in fulfillment of Jehovah’s judgment.—Ezek. 23:28-35.
Manifestly Oholah and Oholibah, the northern and southern Israelite kingdoms, paid a terrible price for failing to trust in God and proving unfaithful to their covenant relationship with him. This should serve as a warning example to Christendom and all her adherents. Why? Because, like Oholah and Oholibah, Christendom claims to be in a covenant relationship with God. But does Christendom really trust in God? Has she not, rather, allied herself with the political systems of this world and does she not trust in military might for protection? Surely! Hence Christendom is guilty of spiritual prostitution. God’s Word declares: “Adulteresses, do you not know that the friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever, therefore, wants to be a friend of the world is constituting himself an enemy of God.” (Jas. 4:4) There is a tremendous record of guilt against Christendom. It is a record that parallels the bad records of Oholah and Oholibah, concerning whom the following indictment was made:
“They have committed adultery and there is blood on their hands, and with their dungy idols they have committed adultery. And, besides that, their sons whom they had borne to me they made pass through the fire to them as food. What is more, this is what they have done to me: They have defiled my sanctuary in that day, and my sabbaths they have profaned. And when they had slaughtered their sons to their dungy idols they even proceeded to come into my sanctuary on that day to profane it, and, look! that is what they have done in the midst of my house.”—Ezek. 23:37-39.
The spiritual adultery of which Christendom has made herself guilty cannot be denied. Her perpetual friendliness with politicians, military forces and big business profiteers is a public scandal. The religious sects of Christendom have committed spiritual adultery also with “dungy idols.” Instead of pointing mankind to God’s kingdom as the only hope for earth’s inhabitants, Christendom today idolizes the United Nations as man’s best and only hope for peace. Christendom has sacrificed her sons and daughters to the god of war. Her hands are stained with blood. She has shed blood in religious crusades, in wars between Catholics and Protestants, in inquisitions and in two horrible world wars in this century, during which Catholics fought Catholics and Protestants fought Protestants. Though having blood-drenched hands, Christendom’s adherents enter what they call God’s sanctuary on their so-called “sabbath day.”
The description of Oholah’s and Oholibah’s acting like professional harlots also fits Christendom. This description reads:
“When they began to send to the men coming from far away, to whom there was sent a messenger, then, look! they came, for whom you had washed yourself, painted your eyes and decked yourself with ornaments. And you sat down upon a glorious couch, with a table set in order before it, and my incense and my oil you put upon it. And the sound of a crowd at ease was in her, and to the men out of the mass of mankind there were drunkards being brought in . . . and they proceeded to put bracelets on the hands of the women and beautiful crowns upon their heads.”—Ezek. 23:40-42.
Like a professional harlot, Christendom has tried to make herself as attractive as possible to the world, in fact, even to the most debased persons, like ‘drunkards from the wilderness.’ Her sects have made religion easy for such worldlings. They can join her as church members and at the same time continue to be a part of this selfish, idolatrous, bloodstained world. As payment for whatever religious favors that bring them sensual pleasure, they glorify Christendom. As it were, to beautify her blood-reddened hands they put bracelets on her wrists, and set crowns upon the heads of her sects, giving the clergy religious headship over them.
The record of Christendom being like that of ancient Oholah and Oholibah, she cannot escape calamity. Just as the former lovers of Oholah and Oholibah brought them to ruin, Christendom will likewise suffer destruction at the hands of her former lovers. Jehovah God will see to that. This is confirmed in the last book of the Bible, where the world empire of false religion, “Babylon the Great,” is portrayed as a prostitute. (Rev. 17:3-6) Regarding what former political lovers will do to “Babylon the Great,” Revelation 17:16 states: “These will hate the harlot and will make her devastated and naked, and will eat up her fleshy parts and will completely burn her with fire.”
If you desire to escape suffering with “Babylon the Great,” trust in Jehovah God and render him exclusive devotion. You cannot do this by remaining in any of the religious organizations of Christendom, which form a dominant part of “Babylon the Great.” God’s Word commands: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues.” (Rev. 18:4) After separating yourself from her, associate with those who truly trust in God and remain faithful to him.