United Nations—Religion’s Friend or Foe?
WHEN Jesus Christ was on earth, his disciples asked him many questions. He often answered, first, according to the immediate circumstances, and then gave a more complete, far-reaching prophetic answer that they did not grasp at the time. Later, after Pentecost, 33 C.E., they came to understand. Some things were to be clearly understood yet later. One of these has to do with the world peace and security organization that we today know as the United Nations.
A case in point is the disciples’ question asked a few days before Christ’s death: “When will these things [concerning the judgment on Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple] be, and what will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?” (Matt. 24:3) Jesus detailed Jerusalem’s coming destruction. Then he went ahead giving further information, showing that his answer also had a long-range prophetic application to the conclusion of the system of things of our day. The prophecy focused particularly on the destruction of Christendom’s false religious systems. Will the United Nations, in working for world security, view world religions as a help or a hindrance?
An outstanding feature of Jesus’ answer was his mention of Daniel’s prophecy about “the disgusting thing that causes desolation” and that would ‘stand in a holy place.’ (Matt. 24:15, 16) This prophecy had a fulfillment in the first century when the armies of pagan Rome came into Jerusalem, even undermining the temple wall. Less than four years later they finally desolated the city completely. What is the later and greater fulfillment?
CHRISTENDOM LIKE FIRST-CENTURY JERUSALEM
To perceive the modern-day fulfillment, it is necessary, first, to see the parallel between ancient Jerusalem and modern Christendom. Jerusalem made the claim of being the city of God. Indeed, the throne of David, called “Jehovah’s throne,” had been located there. (1 Chron. 29:23) Its temple was called “the house of Jehovah.” (Ps. 27:4) But Israel had been so rebellious that there was no longer a king of the line of David on the throne. And the true worship of God had been so greatly corrupted by the traditions of the scribes and Pharisees that God was about to abandon his “house” forever.—Matt. 23:38; 15:1-9.
Christendom, similarly, has held itself forth as representing God. It counts itself as “holy” and has blessed its crusades and wars as being holy, even World Wars I and II. So it stands in a position similar in many respects to that of Jerusalem, though Christendom was never acknowledged by God as his own.
Jesus, in answering his disciples’ question, said that “the love of the greater number [of professed servants of God] will cool off.” (Matt. 24:12) That was true among the Jews prior to Jerusalem’s destruction. And that condition certainly is true in the so-called “Christian” nations of this generation. Professed Christians, even clergymen, instead of proclaiming God’s kingdom, have worked vigorously in the political field. What, therefore, is a fitting destiny for Christendom’s religions?
It would be entirely fitting that the very thing in which Christendom has put trust, instead of in God, would bring her downfall. Let us see how the prophecy in the Bible book of Revelation represents this.
FALSE RELIGION’S SPIRITUAL FORNICATION
Today the world scene is dominated by the Seventh World Power of Bible history, the British-American Dual World Power. However, the Bible discloses an EIGHTH WORLD POWER. As pictorially represented at Revelation 17:9-11, a scarlet-colored wild beast was shown in vision to the apostle John. On the beast’s back was a harlotrous woman, “Babylon the Great.”
About this symbolic “wild beast” we read: “The seven heads mean seven mountains, where the woman sits on top. And there are seven kings: five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet arrived, but when he does arrive he must remain a short while. And the wild beast that was but is not, it is also itself an eighth king, but springs from the seven, and it goes off into destruction.”
At the time that this Biblical vision was given, in the first century, the Sixth World Power, Rome, held sway. The seventh had not arrived. The five preceding world powers, that ‘had fallen’ were, in turn, Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia and Greece. “Babylon the Great” has had dealings with all these world powers, meddling in politics and having a great influence therein. For this reason she is called a “harlot,” committing spiritual fornication. She is also called “the great city that has a kingdom over the kings of the earth.” (Rev. 17:18) She is, accordingly, an empire, the world empire of false religion, in which the so-called “Christian” religion has played the primary part. As the primary force in fighting and in causing the world powers to fight true Christians, she is “drunk with the blood of the holy ones and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus.”—Rev. 17:6.
This “scarlet-colored wild beast” is an eighth “king,” an eighth world power. Since it “springs from the seven,” it is not the Communistic bloc of nations. Also, unlike the Communist bloc, ‘it was (for a while), then was not; it ascends out. of the abyss (of inactivity) and goes off into destruction.’
The world peace and security organization, known first (when it “was”) as the League of Nations, was formed after World War I. It went into the abyss in 1939, when it was shown to be powerless to stop World War II (thus it ‘was not’). Then, in 1945, it ‘ascended’ under a new name, the United Nations. How is it a “disgusting thing” in God’s sight? Most noticeable is the fact that it has a symbolic harlot, an unclean woman, riding it. Also, being formed by the worldly powers and held up, especially by Christendom and its religions, in place of God’s kingdom as the hope for world peace and security, it is a “friend of the world,” making it an “enemy of God.”—Jas. 4:4; John 18:36.
Now half of the member nations of the United Nations do not even profess to be Christian.
But has not the United Nations done some good? Some say, ‘Why knock it? It’s merely an effort to keep peace.’ But was the Roman Empire “good”? It tried to keep the Pax Romana, the Roman peace, throughout the world, but it was, nevertheless, pagan, and turned out to be the desolator of religious Jerusalem with its temple. It later persecuted true Christians.
FALSE RELIGION’S DESOLATION
What does the Bible show that the United Nations accomplishes before it ‘goes off into destruction’? It turns out to become the destroyer of “Babylon the Great.”
The account describes this destruction of false religion: “The waters that you saw, where the harlot is sitting, mean peoples and crowds and nations and tongues. And the ten horns that you saw, and the wild beast, 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.”—Rev. 17:15, 16.
The Roman armies brought desolation to the holy city Jerusalem and its temple. Likewise, the armies under United Nations control become a desolator of the so-called “holy” arena of Christendom’s domain—its false “Christian” religions.
What actually brings this desolation about? Is it merely the idea of the United Nations? It is God’s judgment on the ‘harlotlike’ organizations of false religions that have long oppressed the people and have done so in religion’s name, misrepresenting God and bringing reproach upon his name. This is particularly and expressly true of Christendom’s religions. The account reveals who is really behind the destructive work against “Babylon the Great” when it says:
“For God will put it into their hearts [the hearts of earth’s rulers] to carry out his thought, even to carry out their one thought by giving their kingdom to the wild beast, until the words of God will have been accomplished.”—Rev. 17:17.
For this reason it is Jehovah God who gets the credit for doing away with false religion. Praise is given to him for this in the next chapter of Revelation, in the cry: “Be glad over her [Babylon the Great], . . . because God has judicially exacted punishment for you from her!”—Rev. 18:20.
Will the “wild beast” of scarlet hue then be the friend of true Christians? No more than the Roman Empire was. As an enemy, the “beast” must “go off into destruction” at the hands of Jesus Christ. The kings represented by the beast’s ten horns “will battle with the Lamb, but, because he is Lord of lords and King of kings, the Lamb will conquer them.” (Rev. 17:14) The “disgusting thing” will meet annihilation at that time, never to come up again.
A TIME FOR ACTION
The appearance now of the “disgusting thing” upon the world scene is a feature of the “sign” of Christ’s presence and the imminence of its attack upon the Lamb. Even nearer, therefore, is the desolation of “Babylon the Great.” What does this mean for those who may be involved with these worldly organizations?
God’s Word urges: “Get out of her [Babylon the Great], 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.
Only by a study of the Bible to see that this time of judgment is upon us, and by discerning between true and false religion, can anyone escape. But it is worth any effort that is required. For life on earth after the destruction of all unjust, God-dishonoring organizations will be a delight. Then, healing and permanent health will come to the people. Millions who have lost their lives because of “Babylon the Great’s” deceptive, blood-spilling rule will be resurrected to join those on earth in rejoicing over false religion’s desolation.—Rev. 20:11-13; 21:1-4.