Why Exult in Spite of Personal Hardships?
1, 2. (a) Those able to exult at Har–Magedon are called what? (b) What display of superhuman power with waters on the part of Jehovah does Habakkuk now describe?
BLESSED are those who will be able to exult at Har–Magedon in spite of the personal hardships that will then befall them. Habakkuk finally sets forth the reason for such exultation as he carries forward his prophetic prayer. Still describing the exploits of Jehovah God as He enters into the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon, the prophet says:
2 “Is it against the rivers, O Jehovah, is it against the rivers that your anger has become hot, or is your fury against the sea? For you went riding upon your horses; your chariots were salvation. In its nakedness your bow comes to be uncovered. The sworn oaths of the tribes are the thing said. Selah. With rivers you proceeded to split the earth. Mountains saw you; they got to be in severe pains. A thunderstorm of waters passed through. The watery deep gave forth its sound. On high its hands it lifted up. Sun—moon—stood still, in the lofty abode thereof. Like light your own arrows kept going. The lightning of your spear served for brightness.”—Hab. 3:8-11.
3. How did Jehovah, in the years 1513 and 1473 B.C.E., demonstrate that things like a sea and river are no obstacle to Him?
3 Not only do mountainlike obstacles fail to halt Jehovah in his march, but also seemingly uncrossable things like rivers and seas do. In the year 1513 B.C.E. the Red Sea learned that fact, when Jehovah divided its waters from east to west in order to bring his liberated people through to safety on the shores of the Sinai Peninsula. In the year 1473 B.C.E. the flooding Jordan River was taught the same fact when God the Almighty cut off its flood tide from the north and dried up the riverbed for his people under General Joshua to cross over and set foot at length upon the Promised Land. At such treatment of obstructing waters, the prophet could well ask whether wrath and fury were against rivers and sea. Whereas Egypt’s Pharaoh and his horsemen and chariots were swallowed up in the attempted Red Sea crossing, Jehovah and his heavenly armies, riding as it were on war horses, plunge right in and churn their way through anything like rivers and sea seemingly blocking passage. His symbolic chariots, instead of conveying their drivers to a watery grave, bear the riders to salvation, to victory!
4. How can God split the earth with rivers and cause the watery deep to raise up it “hands” on high?
4 How faith-strengthening this is to Jehovah’s anointed remnant of spiritual Israelites today, who, like the tribes of ancient Israel, are under sworn oaths to Him, through the new covenant with Him as mediated through his Son Jesus Christ! They know that flash floods are at the disposal of the Creator to split the earth and engulf the enemies, as in the days of Judge Barak and the prophetess Deborah. Waters from the skies above can pour down in a thunderstorm. In contrast to waters dropping from above, the waters of the deep under the earth can be made to geyser or spout up, as if the deep were lifting up its hands on high to play a part in the destruction of the enemies.—Hab. 3:9, 10.
5. How does Habakkuk 3:11 picture Jehovah’s brilliant weapons of warfare?
5 While mountains writhe as if in severe pains, Jehovah displays himself as a warrior with superhuman weapons of war. His winged darts of death and his means of propelling them are no mere man-made arrows and bow. They will not be left covered, concealed, as if in a bow cover and a quiver. Roaring thunderbolts and crackling lightnings are in his divine armory. At the flashing of God’s means of death to his enemies the light will be so intense by day and night, that the natural sun and moon will, as it were, feel themselves not needed for illumination. It will be as if they “stood still,” not functioning as light bearers, but letting Jehovah’s radiant missiles put on a display of illuminating power. To add to the awe-inspiring spectacle of speedy flashing missiles of destruction, Jehovah’s larger weapon, like a spear, will be sent streaking through the air and add to the brightness by its lightnings. Imagine the mental effect of such war action upon the foes of Jehovah and of his people!
FOR WHOSE SALVATION THE WAR IS WAGED
6. What warning should the nations take as regards those to be saved at Har–Magedon?
6 Let the nations of the earth take warning. The very ones whom they have now for decades made the “objects of hatred by all the nations” are the ones whom Jehovah will save at Har–Magedon, whereas the nations themselves suffer for hating those whom He loves. Under inspiration, the prophet Habakkuk makes this plain, as he goes on to say: “With denunciation you went marching through the earth. In anger you went threshing the nations. And you went forth for the salvation of your people, to save your anointed one. You broke to pieces the head one out of the house of the wicked one. There was a laying of the foundation bare, clear up to the neck. Selah.”—Hab. 3:12, 13; Matt. 24:9.
7, 8. (a) After what great religious event will this salvation take place? (b) To preserve what on earth will Jehovah perform this salvation, and how will he treat the nations?
7 Thus the worshipers of Jehovah God may have confidence that He will come to their aid at Har–Magedon. They are the ones that will be under attack by all the worldly nations. As the book of Revelation, chapters seventeen through nineteen, shows, this will be after the surprising destruction of that international prostitute, Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion, including Christendom. Jehovah’s worshipers who have come out from bondage in that Babylonish religious empire, will be preserved clear through the destruction of Christendom and all the rest of Babylon the Great.
8 The irreligious nations who will have brought about this destruction will then concentrate on trying to wipe out from the earth the pure worship of the one living and true God, Jehovah. In order not to let the godless nations succeed in this, Jehovah will have to go forth for the salvation of ‘his people.’ So in “denunciation” of the evil-intentioned nations He will march through the earth and angrily thresh the nations, pounding them underfoot like grain on a threshing floor.
9, 10. Who is the “anointed one” whom Jehovah goes forth to save?
9 The “anointed one” whom Jehovah goes forth to save is not his glorified Son, Jesus the Messiah or Anointed One. Revelation 17:14 and Re 19:11-16 reveal that Jesus Christ needs no salvation from the earthly nations, but, rather, leads the armies of heavenly angels against the nations that are attacking Jehovah’s “people” at Har–Magedon. This “people” is composed of the remnant of spirit-anointed disciples of Jesus Christ, and, together, these spirit-begotten anointed members of spiritual Israel make up Jehovah’s “anointed one” at Har–Magedon. As it is written in Psalm 28:8, 9, prophetically, concerning spiritual Israel:
10 “Jehovah is a strength to his people, and he is a stronghold of the grand salvation of his anointed one. Do save your people, and bless your inheritance; and shepherd them and carry them to time indefinite.”—See also 1 John 2:20, 27; 2 Corinthians 1:21.
11. Who else on earth will be saved along with the “anointed one” at Har–Magedon?
11 Along with Jehovah’s “anointed one” there will be a “great crowd” of fellow worshipers that will be saved at Har–Magedon. These also will have fled from the Babylonish world empire of false religion before the destruction of Babylon the Great. Although not being of the spiritual Israelites who make up Jehovah’s “anointed one,” they will join the “anointed one” in worshiping and serving Jehovah at his spiritual temple. Revelation 7:9-15 assures us that they will survive the “great tribulation.”
12. What, however, will happen then to the “house of the wicked one”?
12 In dramatic contrast with the salvation of the “anointed one” and the “great crowd” there will be the complete desolation of the “house of the wicked one.” Like a house that is laid bare and destroyed from the roof to the foundation, the wicked system of things that they established under the unseen influence of Satan the Devil will be knocked to pieces. The head ones of this international “house” will be crushed in, broken to pieces, and those making up the underpart of the worldwide structure will be demolished clear to the base, not even the “foundation” being left covered in the ground as a base for a new building thereon. The foundation will be laid bare, exposed in a wrecked condition. The “house of the wicked one” will be no more on earth.
13, 14. (a) When speaking of the nations moving tempestuously to scatter “me,” of whom is Habakkuk speaking? (b) Who is the “afflicted one” whom the nations expect to devour gleefully in a place of concealment?
13 At the battlefield of Har–Magedon the nationalistic enemies of Jehovah’s “anointed one” will be thrown into suicidal confusion. In a prophetic vision of this, the prophet Habakkuk says in his prayer to Jehovah as a Warrior: “With his own rods you pierced the head of his warriors when they moved tempestuously to scatter me. Their high glee was as of those bent on devouring an afflicted one in a place of concealment. Through the sea you trod with your horses, through the heap of vast waters.”—Hab. 3:14, 15.
14 When speaking of the international attempt to “scatter me” with tempestuous force, Habakkuk is speaking of himself as representing or standing for Jehovah’s “anointed one,” His people in need of salvation from the attackers. Like marauders who lie in wait in a concealed place for a victim, the nations assembled in full array at Har–Magedon will leap out upon Jehovah’s “anointed one” and the “great crowd” of fellow worshipers to destroy all these as they destroyed religious Babylon the Great. The “afflicted one” whom they expect to devour in high glee at their “place of concealment” is Jehovah’s “anointed one,” whom the worldly nations have always afflicted in their hatred of Jehovah’s worshipers. But their concealed place is not hid from Jehovah God.
15. (a) How is it that the heads of the warriors of the wicked one are pierced “with his own rods” by Jehovah? (b) How is the destruction of the enemy forces brought to a completion by Jehovah?
15 Jehovah will not be taken by any surprise. He will not lead his afflicted “anointed one” and their loyal companions into any ambush of the enemy. When the anti-God nations storm out tempestuously to scatter the practicers of the true, pure religion, Almighty God will turn the weapons of the attacking nations against themselves to fight among and against themselves. (Zech. 14:13; 2 Chron. 20:22-24) However, Almighty God will do more than just cause the international enemies to use their own military rods to pierce the heads of their own warriors. He will also himself use superhuman forces at His command to carry the destruction to a completion. With the “horses” of his heavenly armies under Jesus Christ, he will push onward victoriously through the “sea” and the “heap of vast waters” of the surging, roaring enemies. Thus His own people will not be overwhelmed in destruction at Har–Magedon. They will be eyewitnesses of Jehovah’s sublime victory!
QUIETLY WAITING FOR THE “DAY OF DISTRESS”
16. How are we affected by the prospect of what Har–Magedon will mean for people, as indicated by the effects of the “report” on Habakkuk himself?
16 As we today look ahead to the coming “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon, we do not leave out of mind what it will mean as respects the physical living conditions of people, especially of those under attack by the desperate nations. Hence, the certain prospect of hardships grows upon us more and more and makes us very serious. Look at how the prophet Habakkuk was affected by merely the prophetic vision of that solemn time. He says: “I heard, and my belly began to be agitated; at the sound my lips quivered; rottenness began to enter into my bones; and in my situation I was agitated, that I should quietly wait for the day of distress, for his coming up to the people, that he may raid them.”—Hab. 3:16.
17. (a) Habakkuk’s agitation over the “report” moved him to do what, and why? (b) How should the remnant and the “great crowd” react today to the “report”?
17 At just contemplating the report on the coming “day of distress” in all its sobering significance, as set out in Habakkuk 3:2-15, the prophet felt as if he were about to collapse. His bones seemed to melt in decay, providing no strong frame to hold his body erect on his feet; his whole body underwent agitation; his lips could utter no words, but merely quiver. His situation was indeed one of agitation even before the actual arrival of the terrifying “day of distress.” But did his agitation drive him to suicide as a way of escape, or to the use of drugs to deaden his senses to reality? No! His agitation was induced by God through the inspired report given to him as a prophet. So his agitation affected him in the right way, in the right direction, namely, “that I should quietly wait for the day of distress.” This is the way that the remnant of spiritual Israelites today, and also the “great crowd” of faithful companions, should react as they see the evidences that the frightening “day of distress” is getting closer within this generation. They should keep calm and wait.
18, 19. (a) For whom is the “day of distress” meant? (b) How is this day of distress personified, with what result to the “people”?
18 They should note that Habakkuk does not say that the “day of distress” is for Jehovah’s people, His “anointed one.” Habakkuk said that he himself would quietly wait for the “day of distress” to come from Jehovah “up to the people,” or, literally, “up to a people.” In the Hebrew Scriptures the term “people” is often applied to an army, as in the prophecy of Daniel 9:26. So the “people” for whom the “day of distress” is prepared is the hostile army of the nations that attack Jehovah’s “anointed one” at Har–Magedon. That “day of distress” will dawn for such “people” or anti-God army.
19 Whereas that hostile “people” aims at raiding Jehovah’s “anointed one” at Har–Magedon, the “day of distress” from Jehovah will be like a raider that will raid the armed “people.” Thus the “day of distress” is personified as a man who comes up to the people or army of the enemies “that he may raid them.” (Hab. 3:16) As the Jewish Publication Society Version puts it: “That I should wait for the day of trouble, when he cometh up against the people that he invadeth.” This will mean destruction for the enemy “people.”
20. (a) What kind of conditions does war always bring, and particularly for whom? (b) So what bad economic condition does Habakkuk describe, and this as merely possible or as likely?
20 War always brings disagreeable conditions for those involved, especially for those under attack. The “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon can be expected to bring hardships for those who are then under attack by the combined enemies of Jehovah’s worshipers. It was not as a mere possibility of such hardships that the prophet Habakkuk spoke of such a thing, saying: “Although the fig tree itself may not blossom, and there may be no yield on the vines; the work of the olive tree may actually turn out a failure, and the terraces themselves may actually produce no food; the flock may actually be severed from the pen, and there may be no herd in the enclosures; yet, as for me, I will exult in Jehovah himself; I will be joyful in the God of my salvation.” (Hab. 3:17, 18) Habakkuk speaks of this as a very real likelihood.
21. For whom did Habakkuk envision such extreme economic conditions, and because of what?
21 Habakkuk prophetically envisioned extreme economic hardship for Jehovah’s “anointed one” because of the international attempt to scatter the worshipers of Jehovah. It would seem as if there was nothing for these to live on. Their survival was in doubt!
22. (a) According to His prophecies, with what will Jehovah take action against his enemies during the “great tribulation”? (b) Why can His worshipers not expect preferential treatment and exemption from the worldwide discomfort?
22 Even today, in this “time of the end,” when the famines, pestilences, earthquakes and international warfare are taking their toll of the inhabitants of the earth even before the outbreak of the “great tribulation,” the economic and other living conditions of all mankind are working hardship for more and more people. Even during the “great tribulation” itself, according to His own prophecies, Jehovah God will take action against his earthly enemies with plague, earthquakes and other elemental forces against which His enemies cannot fight with their nuclear bombs and economic and medical programs. Who can escape from being affected to some extent? It is true that the spirit-anointed remnant of spiritual Israelites and the associated “great crowd” are, like Jesus, “no part of the world,” yet they are “in the world” and cannot help but feel effects due to world conditions. Moreover, as “objects of hatred” by all nations and peoples, they cannot expect to be given favored treatment and exemptions from worldwide discomfort.—John 15:19; 17:11.
23. From being God’s ministers for good, what will the “superior authorities” become, and how will this affect Jehovah’s witnesses?
23 What, though, when the nations, having wreaked their vengeance on Babylon the Great, mass together in total warfare against Jehovah’s surviving worshipers to scatter and devour them? No longer will the governmental “superior authorities” of this world serve as ‘God’s ministers’ to Jehovah’s Christian witnesses for their good. (Rom. 13:1-4) Their means of serving the public in general will break down or be disrupted. Besides now failing as ‘God’s ministers’ in this respect, they will now turn themselves into fighters against Jehovah God by unitedly attacking his people, thus provoking the war of Har–Magedon. Naturally, the economic and living conditions and personal freedoms of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses should be reduced to a very low subsistence level. Extermination will stare them in the face! O the hardships then!
24. What questions arise as to the conduct of Jehovah’s witnesses at that time, but how does Habakkuk prophetically answer for them?
24 Will they panic with fear? Will they yield to the attacking enemies and renounce their faith and cease to be Jehovah’s Christian witnesses? Or, will they lose hope and sink into the slough of despondency and die spiritually? No! answers back Habakkuk in speaking prophetically for them. Despite all these hardships brought upon them for their faithfulness to the one living and true God, Jehovah’s Christian witnesses will cry out: “Yet, as for me, I will exult in Jehovah himself; I will be joyful in the God of my salvation.”—Hab. 3:18.
25. How will Jehovah then vindicate himself as a Savior, and who on earth will be eyewitnesses of his vindicating his sovereignty?
25 Their God, Jehovah, is a God of salvation, and he will save them. Jehovah will vindicate himself as their Savior and Deliverer. When they seem to be in their worst extremity and certain extermination threatens, the “day of distress” will break forth upon their persecutors and attackers. It will swiftly invade them like a raider, for then Jehovah will go forth with his heavenly angels under Jesus Christ and will save his faithful witnesses on earth. They will become witnesses of Jehovah in a further regard, when they behold him destroy all the enemies on earth and vindicate his universal sovereignty.
26. (a) In view of Habakkuk’s closing words, what is this not the time for, as respects Jehovah’s witnesses? (b) How will they act as if having hinds’ feet from Jehovah?
26 This is not the time for Jehovah’s Christian witnesses to weaken as they discern the hardships incidental to Har–Magedon shaping up and getting closer. Instead, let their voices ring out with the triumphant closing words of the prophet Habakkuk: “Jehovah the Sovereign Lord is my vital energy; and he will make my feet like those of the hinds, and upon my high places he will cause me to tread.” (Hab. 3:19) Strengthened in their spiritual limbs by their exultation and joy in Jehovah God, they will dash up to the safe heights of undefeated integrity toward the Sovereign Lord Jehovah. There they will continue treading surefootedly as followers of the reigning King Jesus Christ. Like bounding hinds they will leap into the blessings of God’s righteous new order, as survivors of all the hardships of Har–Magedon.