Get Out from Under That “Pretty” Tree!
1. In what way have the treelike nations envied the “cedar in Lebanon”?
LIKE the “cedar in Lebanon” that Jehovah described in Ezekiel’s prophecy, Eze chapter thirty-one, the man-made political structure of this system of things looks prettier than anything else. As Jehovah said, in Ezekiel 31:8, 9, “no other tree in the garden of God resembled it in its prettiness. Pretty is the way that I made it [the literal cedar that is used as an illustration] in the abundance of its foliage, and all the other trees of Eden that were in the garden of the true God kept envying it.” This worldwide political system of things has produced many boughs to carry its abundance of shadegiving foliage, so as to cover and protect the political needs of all worldly nations. Each treelike nation would like to be a world power to dominate all else, thus being an enviable organization.
2. How does the world of mankind show that it considers the “cedar in Lebanon” prettier than anything else?
2 All people who believe in man’s ability to rule himself independently of Jehovah God admire that symbolic “cedar in Lebanon,” thinking it to be the acme of prettiness. To appreciate this fact, a soberminded person merely has to note the worldwide rage for nationalism and national sovereignties. Coupled with this is the great power-struggle on the part of great blocs of nations for world domination. Worship of the State is what is taking place on a global scale. It is being demanded of all the inhabitants of the earth. This form of envious admiration of the symbolic “cedar in Lebanon” compares with the adoring admiration that is foretold in the last book of the Bible, at Revelation 13:3, 4, 15, where we read:
3 “All the earth followed the wild beast with admiration. And they worshiped the dragon because it gave the authority to the wild beast, and they worshiped the wild beast with the words: ‘Who is like the wild beast, and who can do battle with it?’ And there was granted it to give breath to the image of the wild beast, so that the image of the wild beast should both speak and cause to be killed all those who would not in any way worship the image of the wild beast.”
4. Why could worshipers of the one living and true God not take part in such worship?
4 In that prophetic description of the things to come, we note how widespread the enforced worship was to become, earth wide, and the extreme to which the worship would go, to mankind’s adoring, not God Jehovah, but an earthly creature and its idolatrous “image.” So, now, what about it? Could such creature worship be participated in by the worshipers of the one living and true God, the Creator, who requires exclusive devotion for himself? No! (Ex. 20:1-6) Speaking for himself, this Creator says, according to the words of the American Standard Version of the Bible: “I am Jehovah, that is my name; and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise unto graven images.”—Isa. 42:8.
5. With respect to those divine words, who is the man whose example we can safely follow today? Why?
5 In today’s nationalistically minded world, are we personally going to take those words seriously, even though they were uttered more than 2,700 years ago? In this respect there is one man whose example above all we can safely follow, and that is Jesus Christ. When Satan the Devil, the symbolic Dragon, offered him world rule in exchange for one act of Devil worship, Jesus replied: “It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.”—Matt. 4:8-10.
6. How does God view the “cedar in Lebanon” and, therefore, what courses do we have to choose between without delay?
6 Jesus’ rebuff to Satan showed that the symbolic “cedar in Lebanon” did not look “pretty” to him. Neither has that man-made political structure of this system of things looked alluringly “pretty” and worshipful to Christ’s true disciples to this day. True, Jehovah God describes the “prettiness” of the symbolic “cedar in Lebanon” from the world’s standpoint, but to Him the thing symbolized by that “cedar in Lebanon” (Pharaoh the king of Egypt and his crowd) does not look “pretty.” It is wicked; for which reason he says: “According to its wickedness I will drive it out.” (Ezek. 31:11) Do we today view the symbolic “cedar” as Jehovah God does, and do we believe that the final fulfillment of His words will shortly take place without fail? Our conviction in this matter will decide for us the question: Shall we go along with the nations and dwell under the symbolic “cedar,” or shall we get out from under it without delay?
THE FALL OF THE “TREE” CERTAIN
7, 8. Urgent action on our part is necessary because of what determination of Jehovah regarding the “cedar in Lebanon”?
7 There is real urgency about making the right decision in this matter. The crashing fall of the symbolic “cedar” (Pharaoh and his crowd’s counterpart today) is certain. It is the divine determination that this event of worldwide importance shall take place. After describing the enviable “prettiness” of the symbolic “cedar in Lebanon,” the prophecy given through Ezekiel goes on to say:
8 “This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said, ‘For the reason that you became high in stature, so that it put its treetop even among the clouds and its heart became exalted because of its height, I shall also give it into the hand of the despot of the nations. Without fail he will act against it. According to its wickedness I will drive it out. And strangers, the tyrants of the nations, will cut it down, and people will abandon it upon the mountains; and in all the valleys its foliage will certainly fall, and its branches will be broken among all the stream beds of the earth. And out from its shade all the peoples of the earth will come down [from the mountain] and abandon it. Upon its fallen trunk all the flying creatures of the heavens will reside, and upon its branches there will certainly come to be all the wild beasts of the field; to the end that none of the watered trees may become high in their stature, or put their treetops even among the clouds, and that none drinking water may stand up against them in their height, for they will certainly all of them be given to death, to the land down below, in the midst of the sons of mankind, to those going down into the pit.’”—Ezek. 31:10-14.
9. How does Jehovah designate those who will cut down the “cedar in Lebanon,” and should mention of them have affected nations sheltered under it?
9 The skyscraping “cedar in Lebanon” high up on the mountainside was to be cut down by a team of woodchoppers. ‘Impossible!’ the “populous nations” dwelling under its shade might say, but Jehovah God would see to it that his words are carried out. He would send against this symbolical “tree” what he calls “the despot of the nations.” This composite “despot” would be made up of foreign nations not dwelling under the symbolic “cedar,” namely, “strangers, the tyrants of the nations.” All the “populous nations” dwelling under the “cedar” would not be able to prevent these international terrors from cutting down the sheltering structure over them. Since those tree fellers are said to be “the despot of the nations,” “the tyrants of the nations,” the bare mention of them should have struck terror into the hearts of those dwelling under the tall, long-branched “cedar.”
10. Who was the “despot of the nations” used by Jehovah as his executional ax, and finally what threat did the “cedar” cease to offer?
10 God Almighty, who does not lie, fulfilled his prophecy upon that symbolic cedar of ancient times. He sent against “Pharaoh the king of Egypt and . . . his crowd” the newly risen world power, the Babylonian Empire. This “despot of the nations” was no friend of Pharaoh and his crowd, but was made up of “strangers” to them. Such hostile ones acted toward the Egyptian “cedar” like “the tyrants of the nations.” These were out to dominate the world, tyrannically, and Jehovah used them as the executional ax in His hand. When Pharaoh the king of Egypt and his military crowd tried to come to the aid of beleaguered Jerusalem at the appeal of King Zedekiah, they were beaten back by the tyrannical Babylonians. So, in the year 607 B.C.E. Pharaoh and his forces witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem and its sacred temple. Some sixteen years later Jehovah gave the land of Egypt to King Nebuchadnezzar as a compensation for his service as an executioner in divine hands. (Ezek. 29:17-20) Then, indeed, the strong arms of Pharaoh were broken beyond repair and never again offered the threat of world domination.—Ezek. 30:20-26.
11, 12. What fear-inspiring bloc of nations comes to mind, but why is it not the modern “despot of the nations” used by God?
11 However, that is all history of more than two and a half millenniums ago. What interests us today is, Who is the modern “despot of the nations,” and who are the “strangers, the tyrants of the nations”? They are the fear-inspiring Communist bloc of nations, are they not?
12 To this we flatly answer, No! For the Communist nations dwell under the spreading boughs of the symbolic “cedar in Lebanon” as much as the liberal, democratic nations do. They are a part of this world and operate according to the man-made political structure of this system of things. They are nationalistic and worship the political State and are bent on dominating all the earth with their political ideology and methods. Hence, we could not expect them to cut down the symbolic “cedar in Lebanon,” the modern counterpart of ancient Pharaoh of Egypt and his crowd. They will never put themselves out of business! Daniel 11:40 through 12:1 indicates that they will be caught with all others in the “time of distress such as has not been made to occur since there came to be a nation until that time.”
13. Why are Jehovah’s Christian witnesses not the ones whom he will use to accomplish a work like that of the “despot,” or “tyrants,” of the nations?
13 So, then, for cutting down the symbolic “cedar in Lebanon” that still dominates the earth, who will be Jehovah’s instrument that will do a work like that of the “despot of the nations,” or the “strangers, the tyrants of the nations,” back in the prophet Ezekiel’s day? It will not be Jehovah’s Christian witnesses, who today number just some two million scattered among 210 lands around the globe. They are not despotic, not tyrannical, and strike no terror in people’s hearts, for which reason they are openly persecuted as a helpless, defenseless religious minority. Not a puny earthly instrument, but a mighty heavenly instrument is what Jehovah will use.
14, 15. Whom, then, will Jehovah use, as indicated by Jesus in Matthew 24:29-31?
14 Jehovah’s instrument is the glorified Jesus Christ and his armies of heavenly angels. Hardheaded politicians of today may laugh at such a thought. But the ancient King Sennacherib of Assyria could likewise have laughed at the idea that in one night the angel of Jehovah would kill off 185,000 of his crack troops. (2 Ki. 19:35, 36) So, in his prophecy on the “conclusion of the system of things,” Jesus Christ said:
15 “The powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in lamentation, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send forth his angels with a great trumpet sound.”—Matt. 24:29-31.
16. Into whose hands has God given the “cedar” and all those taking shelter under it, and what must we do in order not to perish with it?
16 The entire “system of things,” together with all the worldly nations that have taken refuge under it, Jehovah has given into the hands of his Son, Jesus Christ, the “Lord of lords and King of kings.” He, with his heavenly angels, will cut down the pretty-looking “cedar in Lebanon.” (Rev. 11:15; 17:14; 19:11-16) As a memento of his victory at Har–Magedon in the “war of the great day of God the Almighty,” there will lie on the ground the “fallen trunk” of the symbolic “cedar in Lebanon,” the modern counterparts of “Pharaoh the king of Egypt and . . . his crowd.” (Rev. 16:13-16) These will be like those who go down in death into “the land down below,” yes, “into the pit” of burial. (Ezek. 31:14) The question is, Do we, who live in the midst of this “system of things,” want to go down there with them? Certainly if we do not want this to happen, we shall have to get out from any place of shelter and refuge under that doomed “tree”! Let not its fall mean our destruction also!
MOURNING AT THE FALL OF THE “TREE”
17, 18. According to Ezekiel 31:15-17, why will there shortly be worldwide mourning?
17 Shortly there is going to be a day of worldwide mourning. It will be over the downfall of something more significant than a pretty “cedar in Lebanon” that has won the admiration of a world of tourists. It will be over the downfall of the worldwide system of things and its operators, the modern-day “Pharaoh the king of Egypt and . . . his crowd.” There should be no uncertainty on our part about this, for the divine prophecy goes on to say:
18 “This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said, ‘On the day of its going down to Sheʹol I shall certainly cause a mourning. On its account I will cover the watery deep [the abyss, LXX], that I may hold back its streams and that the many waters may be restrained; and on its account I shall darken Lebanon, and on its account the trees of the field will all swoon away. At the sound of its downfall I shall certainly cause nations to rock when I bring it down to Sheʹol with those going down into the pit, and in the land down below all the trees of Eden, the choicest and the best of Lebanon, all those [trees] drinking water, will be comforted. With him they themselves also have gone down to Sheʹol, to those slain by the sword, and to those who as his seed have dwelt in his shadow in the midst of nations.’”—Ezek. 31:15-17.
19. What did Jesus say that all the tribes of the earth would do at seeing the “sign” of his coming, and what fact then shocks them?
19 In the spirit of those words of Jehovah God, the Lord Jesus Christ was correct in saying that at the “sign” in heaven of his coming as Jehovah’s instrument to execute divine vengeance upon the wicked ones, all the tribes of the earth would beat themselves in lamentation. (Matt. 24:30) By indications that will speak more loudly than the worldwide preaching by Jehovah’s Christian witnesses, all the earthly tribes will discern that this system of things is doomed to early destruction. They will finally be convinced that, despite all their efforts to keep the system going, they cannot prevent its downfall. They will suffer shock at realizing that the destruction comes from the hand of the Creator of heaven and earth. They will grieve that what they have admired as so “pretty” in its majestic structure faces imminent destruction. The impending loss of it pains them sorely.
20. How has the symbolic “cedar” been a heavy ‘water drinker’?
20 The tribes, the peoples of the nations, have been like waters to the symbolic “cedar in Lebanon,” like a “watery deep” or an abyss, the waters of which have been channeled to the roots of this worldwide system of things. The roots of this system of things have drawn heavily upon what the people can contribute to keep the system flourishing. In this respect this symbolic “cedar in Lebanon” has been a heavy ‘water drinker.’ It resembles the world empire of false religion, Babylon the Great, which is said to ‘sit on many waters.’ Not literal waters, but “the waters that you [the Christian apostle John] saw, where the harlot is sitting, mean peoples and crowds and nations and tongues.” (Rev. 17:1, 15) Today the peoples, the world population, have expanded to more than four thousand million. So the symbolic “cedar in Lebanon” has a tremendous “watery deep” on which to draw for support.
21. How will Jehovah hold back the symbolic streams and restrain the many waters from the symbolic “cedar”?
21 Will the earth’s greatest population be able to keep the cedarlike “system of things” going by sheer force of numbers? By so-called “proletarian” rule, by rule on the part of the masses? Jehovah, whose sovereignty is over all heaven and earth, says, No! He says that he will “hold back its streams” and that the “many waters” will be “restrained.” (Ezek. 31:15) How will that be? By his having the symbolic “cedar in Lebanon” cut down in spite of all the popular protest.
22. Of what benefit will the “watery deep” down below be to the fallen tree trunk?
22 Nevertheless, when a tree is cut down, of what good is it to the “fallen trunk” that there is a “watery deep” below it? Its streams are held back from the prone tree trunk that is cut off from its root system. The many waters are restrained from the fallen arboreal giant. Jehovah’s will, not the people’s will, prevails! The Roman saying, Vox populi, vox Dei (The voice of the people [is] the voice of God) is not true.
23. Why will Jehovah’s cutting down of the “cedar” cause consternation to all minor structures built into the system of things?
23 The crash of this “present wicked system of things” because of its being cut down by Jehovah’s instrumentality will produce worldwide consternation, because all nations, peoples and tribes and languages will be involved. And why not? When the whole system goes down under God’s deathblow to it, how could any minor structure that has been built into the global system expect to continue on, to stand? (Gal. 1:4) If the biggest and prettiest tree of all is not allowed to keep standing and dominating all the earth, how could all the other trees count on standing, without the protection of the cedarlike system? They will “swoon,” lose their senses, experience heart failure. What may be expected of them is nicely pictured by Jehovah’s words: “On its account the trees of the field will all swoon away.”—Ezek. 31:15.
24. The rocking of the nations at the downfall of the “cedar in Lebanon” will mean what respecting them?
24 Having in mind that the “cedar in Lebanon” pictures “Pharaoh the king of Egypt and . . . his crowd,” Jehovah goes on to say: “At the sound of its downfall I shall certainly cause nations to rock when I bring it down to Sheʹol with those going down into the pit.” (Ezek. 31:16) As it were, the downfall of the symbolic “cedar in Lebanon” causes so great a thud as to make the earth quiver and the shock waves reach all the nations. The rocking of the nations that have preferred the sovereignty of the “present wicked system of things” will mean their downfall also, their being laid low in ruins and being removed. Thus territorial claims would be wiped out. National sovereignties would disappear. (Heb. 12:26, 27; Hag. 2:6, 7) In this way there will be a forced abandonment of the pretentious “cedar in Lebanon.”—Ezek. 31:12.
25. When will this abandonment of the “cedar in Lebanon” by the nations occur?
25 When will this occur? During a time of war, not a third world war with nuclear weapons between rival blocs of militarized nations, but “the war of the great day of God the Almighty” at the battlefield of Har–Magedon. Warfare is symbolized by “the sword.” The symbolic “cedar in Lebanon” will be made a bed partner with the nations and world powers that have perished by the sword. This is called to our attention by Jehovah’s statement: “And in the land down below all the trees of Eden, the choicest and the best of Lebanon, all those [trees] drinking water, will be comforted. With him [the symbolic cedar] they themselves also have gone down to Sheʹol, to those slain by the sword, and those who as his seed have dwelt in his shadow in the midst of nations.”—Ezek. 31:16, 17, NW; Greek Septuagint (LXX); Syriac Version; Rotherham.
26. In what sense can those nations who have dwelt in the shadow of the “cedar in Lebanon” be spoken of as “his seed”?
26 “His seed,” who have dwelt under the shadow of the “cedar in Lebanon” in the midst of the nations, would represent those political, military national organizations that developed from the “present wicked system of things,” as an offspring or posterity of it. Naturally they have grown or built themselves up under the sponsorship of the worldly system of things. Many of these national organizations have already perished, going down in death to the land down below, the realm of the dead, to become extinct.
27. How will the national organizations already in the land down below be comforted at the downfall of the “cedar in Lebanon”?
27 So they have ceased to be as symbolic trees, although the overall system of things continues to go on, ever drawing closer to its own destruction. When it itself is cut down and suffers its permanent downfall, this will be a great comfort to all the other symbolic trees in the land down below, the general “pit,” Sheʹol or realm of the dead. We all know that “misery loves company,” and these symbolic “trees” that have already been cut down by the “sword” of violence will be very glad to have the company of the magnificent “cedar in Lebanon” with them in the death state. They will be comforted in seeing how this world-dominating system of things proves to be just as weak as they were before Jehovah’s “sword” of execution.—Compare Isaiah 14:9-12.
28. Thus the “cedar in Lebanon” will not be allowed to overshadow what future “garden of God”?
28 So the system of things will prove to be no stronger than its supporters that take refuge under its protective shadow. Jehovah does not want this symbolic “cedar in Lebanon” to overshadow his real, literal “garden of God” that will be restored to the earth after his fight at Har–Magedon and the binding and abyssing of Satan the Devil, “the god of this system of things.”—2 Cor. 4:4.
“PRETTINESS” IN HUMAN EYES WILL NOT SAVE IT
29, 30. Where does Jehovah inform this “wicked system of things” that it will finally be, although it resembles the prettiest cedar in Lebanon?
29 Humans are prone to idolizing creatures. They have yielded to worshiping the pretty symbolic “tree,” the figurative “cedar in Lebanon.” This worldly system of things views itself as prettier and more desirable than the kingdom of God in the hands of his Messiah, Jesus the Son of God. O yes, to human eyes, this “present wicked system of things” resembles in prettiness the towering “cedar in Lebanon.” Yet, what difference does that make to the Planter of the literal cedars of Lebanon? Says he to this globe-encircling system of things:
30 “‘Whom have you come to resemble thus in glory and greatness among the trees of Eden? [In spite of that, what?] But you will certainly be brought down with the trees of Eden to the land down below. In the midst of the uncircumcised ones you will lie down with those slain by the sword. This is Pharaoh and all his crowd,’ is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah.”—Ezek. 31:18.
31. Would the self-righteousness of “Pharaoh and all his crowd” count with God, and so whose fate would they also share?
31 In ancient times “Pharaoh and all his crowd” may have practiced circumcision and therefore have thought themselves to be a clean people and righteous, as much so as the Israelites, the descendants of Abraham the Hebrew. “Pharaoh and all his crowd” may have thought that they would never share the fate and be buried with the uncircumcised nations and world powers of the earth. But their self-righteousness did not count with Jehovah God. So, in due time, the Hamitic rulership of the land of the Nile, ancient Egypt, would cease. Thus the circumcision of “Pharaoh and all his crowd” and the worldly beauty of their man-made organization would not save them from the fate of all other lesser organizations.
32. How will this “pretty” system of things undergo an experience like that of “Pharaoh and all his crowd,” and why?
32 Jehovah the Sovereign Lord decreed that “Pharaoh and all his crowd” should be executed by his instrument and should take their place with all the rest of the unclean human dead. Theirs was a bad political organization, and, said Jehovah, “according to its wickedness I will drive it out.” (Ezek. 31:11) Likewise with the “Pharaoh and all his crowd” of modern times. The system of things that Pharaoh and his crowd represented was disapproved by Jehovah God. He detects the wickedness in it regardless of how “pretty” it may seem to the adoring world of mankind. It deserved to be treated like the outstandingly pretty “cedar in Lebanon,” namely, to be cut down by the “sword” of the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon. (Rev. 16:13-16) At its downfall all the nations of the earth will rock, knowing that they cannot exist any more than the whole world “system of things” can exist. For its stubbornly standing in the way of God’s Messianic kingdom it will be cut down.
RIGHT ACTION URGENT NOW!
33. In what sense is the ax now “lying at the root” of the pretty “cedar in Lebanon”?
33 As John the Baptist said concerning the Jewish system of things of his day, “Already the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree, then, that does not produce fine fruit is to be cut down,” so it is with the symbolic “cedar in Lebanon.” (Matt. 3:10) Jehovah’s time is close at hand for the “strangers, the tyrants of the nations,” to use the ax upon the “present wicked system of things.” Its downfall draws ever closer. Despite all its “prettiness” in the eyes of this world of mankind, it is not the planting of Jehovah and it is no part of Jehovah’s organization. It is the visible part of Satan the Devil’s organization. “According to its wickedness I will drive it out,” says Jehovah.—Ezek. 31:11, 12.
34. Whose “seed” are the functionaries of this “present wicked system of things”?
34 In this wicked system of things the modern counterparts of “Pharaoh the king of Egypt and . . . his crowd” have functioned now for more than four thousand years since the founding of ancient Babylon of Nimrod’s day. These worldly governing elements have not been put in office by the Sovereign Lord Jehovah. They are not the “seed” or offspring of the heavenly Father; they are not the “seed” of God’s “woman,” about which He made a hope-inspiring promise in the original “garden of Eden.” They are, rather, the “seed” of the Great Serpent, that is to say, the Seed of Satan the Devil. (Gen. 3:15) This may sound like hard language, but it is thoroughly in line with Jesus’ words to opposing men of his day: “You are from your father the Devil, and you wish to do the desires of your father. That one was a manslayer when he began, and he did not stand fast in the truth, because truth is not in him.” (John 8:44) This modern-day “seed” of God’s great Adversary is no more serving God than ancient Pharaoh and his crowd did. As a spiritual “Egypt,” it resembles them.—Rev. 11:8.
35. In the light of the foregoing revealed facts, what should we do in this ominous time, and how can we do so?
35 In the light of these revealed facts and in the face of the impending fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecy about the “cedar in Lebanon,” what is it incumbent upon us to do? What is it in our interest to do? What should we do in this ominous time? This: Get out from under that symbolic “tree.” We do not want to suffer eternally from its crash. So we need to abandon the “present wicked system of things,” the antitypical “Pharaoh the king of Egypt and . . . his crowd.” We need to put ourselves on the side of Jehovah’s organization. We have been lifeless toward that organization as long as we have been a part of this world of sinners. We have been “dead in [our] trespasses and sins, in which [we] at one time walked according to the system of things of this world, according to the ruler [Satan the Devil] of the authority of the air.” (Eph. 2:1, 2) We should cease to walk “according to the system of things of this world.” We must discontinue dwelling under the protective shadow of what was prefigured by “Pharaoh and all his crowd.”
36. Once having got out from under Satan’s visible organization, how should we heed the counsel of Isaiah 31:1?
36 Once we have got out from under the visible organization of God’s great Adversary, we should not again resort to it for aid and protection. It is the course of common sense and of divine wisdom for us to give heed to the inspired words: “Woe to those going down to Egypt for assistance, those who rely on mere horses, and who put their trust in war chariots, because they are numerous, and in steeds, because they are very mighty, but who have not looked to the Holy One of Israel and have not searched for Jehovah himself.”—Isa. 31:1.
37, 38. What warning example of this do we have in the remnant of Jews who were left behind after Jerusalem’s desolation?
37 We have a warning example against this resorting to Egypt for help in spite of its being doomed. Ezekiel’s prophecy was given in the eleventh year of his captivity, the third month, the first day. (Ezek. 31:1) On the ninth day of the fourth month (Tamuz 9, 607 B.C.E.) the Babylonian “despot of the nations” captured Jerusalem. In the following month they destroyed it, and deported most of the survivors to Babylon. In the seventh month (Tishri, 607 B.C.E.) the governor over these left behind was assassinated.
38 In fear of what the Babylonians might now do, this remnant of Jews decided to abandon the land of Judah and flee down to Egypt for refuge under the symbolic “cedar in Lebanon.” The prophet Jeremiah counseled against this. He warned that the king of Babylon would conquer Egypt and would thus get them under his power anyhow. Heedless of Jeremiah’s warning, the Jewish remnant fled down to Egypt, taking Jehovah’s prophet with them. But Egypt failed them, for some years later the king of Babylon did add the land of Egypt to his empire. Again, as in the past, Egypt failed the faithless Jews, but God’s Word did not fail.—2 Ki. 25:1-26; Ezek. 29:17-20; Jer. 40:7 through 43:13.
39. What, then, is the hope of mankind, and why so?
39 The worldly system of things is now in its last days. Like ancient Egypt, which failed those who took shelter under the long branches of that symbolic “cedar in Lebanon,” it will fail those who keep putting their trust in it and going down to it for assistance with its military and economic resources. Its dominance of the earth’s affairs must be chopped down. Jehovah’s incoming kingdom will cut it down by means of His kingly Son Jesus Christ. The hope of mankind is in that kingdom of God, for it will bring in a new and righteous system of things that will really be “pretty.” It will reestablish the “garden of God,” a literal Edenic paradise, on the earth and robe the whole earth with its glory and beauty.
40. Why is partnership with this world not the thing for us, but what will our being like Jesus and his apostles mean for us?
40 Partnership with this doomed world of ungodly people and its system of things is not the thing for us to hold on to in this desperate state of world affairs. If we desire to share in the everlasting blessings that the King Jesus Christ has to bestow on his subjects, we must be just as he said that he and his apostles were: “They are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world.” (John 17:14, 16) Being thus apart from it, we shall not share the destruction of this “world of ungodly people.” (2 Pet. 2:5; 3:6) We shall be preserved for enjoying an everlasting dwelling beneath the righteous new system of things, in which, not Pharaoh and his crowd, but Jesus Christ and his glorified joint heirs will serve as kings and priests of God for mankind’s blessing.—Rev. 20:4, 6.