Divine Backing Removes Fear
HOW would you feel if you had been directed by Almighty God to do a work, but were forbidden by human official decree to do so? And what if the decree came from the World Power of your time? Would you shake with fear, especially if that work had to be done in the open, where all could see? Would you stop your work, or would you boldly go on with it?
Christians declaring the good news of God’s kingdom have experienced such a situation many times and in many places. They know that their commission to preach is a divine one. Their Leader Jesus Christ, who spoke what he had heard from God, said: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” Also: “Make disciples of people of all the nations, . . . teaching them.” (Matt. 24:14; 28:19, 20; John 8:28, 29) But rulers in some countries have issued commands that such preaching be stopped, and laws have been designed, even by major world powers, to ban this work. Nevertheless, true Christians have gone ahead fearlessly in the face of such opposition. How could they do it with real confidence?
A PROPHETIC ILLUSTRATION
Centuries ago this was prophetically illustrated. It was during Persia’s rule as the Fourth World Power of Bible history. God, by means of Cyrus, king of Persia, had broken Babylon’s power and had liberated Israel from its slavery. All who desired to return to Jerusalem to rebuild Jehovah’s temple and to restore true worship were allowed to do so. Under their appointed governor, Zerubbabel, a crowd of about 50,000 people demonstrated the faith and zeal to make the long journey. On arriving, they erected an altar and later laid the temple foundation. But opposition from the neighboring peoples was fierce. A new ruler had come into power in Persia, and these enemies were able to get a royal order to see to it that the temple building was stopped immediately.—Ezra 3:8-10; 4:17-22.
In fear, the temple builders stopped. For about sixteen years no work went on. But the command to build had been given, not by the order of a mere earthly power, but by the Sovereign of the universe, Jehovah God himself. Would he let fear on the part of his servants make his command of no effect? Or would he strengthen them and back them up with divine power?
God was patient with his people, for he recognized the powerful opposition they faced. However, they should not have been cowed into neglecting their divine commission. To carry out his own purpose and in mercy to them, he sent his prophets Haggai and Zechariah to correct, encourage and stir them to activity. Governor Zerubbabel responded, taking a bold step, apparently in defiance of the mighty Persian Empire. This was a good and right step in obedience to Jehovah God. Through Haggai, Jehovah comfortingly assured Zerubbabel:
“I am rocking the heavens and the earth. And I shall certainly overthrow the throne of kingdoms and annihilate the strength of the kingdoms of the nations; and I will overthrow the chariot and its riders, and the horses and their riders will certainly come down, each one by the sword of his brother.”—Hag. 2:21, 22.
Zerubbabel, through his obedient action, had been assured that the power of Jehovah of armies was on his side. So what did the disapproval or objections of men matter? This God as divine Ruler was to be obeyed rather than man-made rulers. Why, he could rock both the heavens and the earth! What, then, could anyone do to thwart or successfully oppose his declared purposes? Nothing!
Furthermore, Jehovah said to Zerubbabel: “I shall take you, O Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, my servant, . . . and I shall certainly set you as a seal ring, because you are the one whom I have chosen.”—Hag. 2:23.
Zerubbabel became something very precious to Jehovah, like a seal ring on the right hand of Jehovah of armies. Because of his keeping Jehovah’s commandments and displaying courageous devotion to Jehovah’s clean worship at his temple, he was like a living seal ring, serving Jehovah of armies in an official way, for the glory and praise of His holy name. Zerubbabel did not need to fear that he would be deposed by the king of Persia. God would certainly not rock Zerubbabel from an honored position of service to Him, even though the entire Persian Empire should be shaken from its stability, as it actually was years later. Zerubbabel would receive full divine backing. This proved to be true. About five years later the temple was finally completed amid great rejoicing.—Ezra 6:14, 15, 22.
DIVINE BACKING TODAY
Zerubbabel’s position over God’s people back there, and the work that he did, foreshadowed the activity of Jesus Christ as heavenly Governor of spiritual Israel. He is the leading Promoter of the work in connection with Jehovah’s great spiritual temple. Despite the opposition of this world, Jesus, when on earth, fearlessly preached the good news of the Kingdom. Now, exalted in heaven as the Governor of spiritual Israel today, he has the same spirit. He leads and directs true Christians, enabling them to preach and to gather people together to the pure worship of God, to Jehovah’s spiritual temple, as foretold at Isaiah 2:2, 3:
“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 all the nations must stream. And many peoples will certainly go and say: ‘Come, you people, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will instruct us about his ways, and we will walk in his paths.’”
This heavenly Governor like Zerubbabel is most precious to Jehovah God, like a seal ring on his right hand, one that bears the divine name. An ancient seal ring was used to affix the name of its owner to a document, thus to prove that it genuinely originated with him and that it expressed his will, purpose or instructions. Similarly, Jesus Christ is used to fulfill the divine prophecies and promises and thereby to prove that those recorded pronouncements really originated from the divine, infallible Source and are divine truth.
An official would back up what was written in a document bearing his seal. Just so, Jehovah of armies backs up Jesus Christ. Through Jesus, God’s name and purposes are vindicated, and we can be absolutely sure of divine backing if we follow the commands and example of Jesus Christ. He is the truth, that is, he is the One in whom all God’s purposes toward his people find their culmination. (John 14:6) The apostle Paul said of him: “For no matter how many the promises of God are, they have become Yes by means of him. Therefore also through him is the ‘Amen’ said to God for glory through us [Christian disciples].”—2 Cor. 1:20.
Christ is therefore the central or key figure in the outworking of all Jehovah’s purposes. When we pray to God in Jesus’ name, we can say “Amen,” being assured that we will have divine backing in answer to the things requested according to God’s will. (Rev. 3:14) Even in the face of violent opposition, we can be confident, because, even if we should die, we have a sure hope of a resurrection from the dead. This is because God has “furnished a guarantee to all men in that he has resurrected him [Christ] from the dead.” (Acts 17:31) It is as if God had given us a document to this effect, bearing his seal. In fact, the Bible is just such a document. “The bearing witness to Jesus is what inspires prophesying,” because Jesus is the truth.—Rev. 19:10.
Since the close of the Gentile Times in 1914 C.E., the nations of the world of mankind are rocking because Jehovah has asserted his sovereignty by means of his Messianic Kingdom and has notified the nations of this by the preaching of the Kingdom message. It is Jehovah of armies, therefore, who is doing the rocking, just as he told Governor Zerubbabel of olden times. The rocking, humanly uncontrollable, will reach its peak of agitation in the “great tribulation” that now appears to be very near. (Matt. 24:21, 22) But the greater Zerubbabel, Jesus Christ, has nothing to fear from the rocking. His position of heavenly governorship is unshakably fixed. His is “a kingdom that cannot be shaken.” (Heb. 12:28) It will not be moved. After it removes all false religion and the world powers of today, it will bless all the surviving worshipers of Jehovah God at his spiritual temple with good rulership forever.
Consequently, though it is natural to fear a power greater than our own, true Christians have the backing of the Source of all power in the universe. He is the Creator of the tremendous heavenly bodies, some a million times as large as our sun, and also is the Commander of the mighty invisible hosts of the heavens, before whom the kingdoms of this world are as nothing. With such divine backing Christians should have no morbid, paralyzing fear or dread and should certainly not let fear of what man can do cause them to slack up or stop in their obedience to God’s commands. (Prov. 29:25) With such backing they are perfectly safe and secure in ordering every step of their lives according to his commands.
Having this backing, they are of great confidence and are unstoppable by any power as they carry on the Kingdom preaching. Jehovah’s backing has been demonstrated in his deliverance of them through opposition and hatred in all the nations, as Jesus foretold. (Matt. 24:9) Moreover, Jehovah has actually assigned angelic forces to direct the Kingdom declaration and the gathering of sincere persons to His spiritual temple. (Rev. 14:6) Knowing, observing and experiencing these things, how can true Christians be intimidated to slacken up or to stop their divinely backed lifesaving work?