“They Will Be Certain to Fight Against You”
1. What reaction might we feel at the unfaithfulness of a marriage mate?
HOW would any of us feel as married persons if our legally wedded mate turned unfaithful to us and flagrantly committed adultery? Say a wife, wedded to us from her youth, broke her vows, left us and went selling herself to men of loose moral conduct. If a faithful husband, would we not feel hurt at heart? After hopes of reconciliation had been blasted, we might send her away with a bill of divorcement. In our predicament, we might never want her back!
2. What case of infidelity on a national scale is set out in Jeremiah 3:1, 2?
2 Twenty-six centuries ago, in the days of the prophet Jeremiah, a case like that had developed, but on a national scale. It has a modern-day parallel, and so it concerns us today. It deserves our examination, to see how we may be involved. In the record of the case as set out by Jeremiah, we read this: “There is a saying: ‘If a man should send away his wife and she should actually go away from him and become another man’s, should he return to her anymore? . . . And you yourself have committed prostitution with many companions; and should there be a returning to me?’ is the utterance of Jehovah. ‘Raise your eyes to the beaten paths and see. Where is it that you have not been raped? Alongside the ways you have sat for them, like an Arabian in the wilderness; and you keep polluting the land with your acts of prostitution and with your badness.’”—Jer. 3:1, 2.
3. What does Jehovah tell the renegade here addressed to do, and why?
3 The nation of Israel is the one here addressed. Accordingly we read: “‘Do return, O renegade Israel,’ is the utterance of Jehovah. ‘I shall not have my face drop angrily upon you people, for I am loyal,’ is the utterance of Jehovah.” “‘I shall not stay resentful to time indefinite. Only take note of your error, for it is against Jehovah your God that you have transgressed.’” “‘Return, O you renegade sons,’ is the utterance of Jehovah. ‘For I myself have become the husbandly owner of you people; and I will take you . . . and I will bring you to Zion.’”—Jer. 3:12-14.
4. Who today is like renegade Israel, and what question arises about husbandly ownership?
4 The one today who is like renegade Israel is Christendom. There are more than 900,000,000 persons who are yet tied in with Christendom, for they are enrolled church members in her many sects and denominations. Has Jehovah God ever been the “husbandly owner” of Christendom? Today she plays down the name of Jehovah and puts the name of Jehovah’s Son Jesus almost exclusively to the fore. More than 18 centuries before Christendom began to exist, Jehovah did become a “husbandly owner.” To whom? To the nation of Israel. He gained ownership of them especially by liberating them from slavery in ancient Egypt and then by bringing them into a legal contract with himself at Mount Sinai, the prophet Moses being used as the mediator between God and man. (Ex. 19:1 through 24:8) But what now about Christendom?
5. (a) In what did Christendom have its roots? (b) In 33 C.E., with whom did Jehovah enter into a husbandly relationship, and how?
5 Here is something that the anointed Jeremiah class of today must point out to Christendom, and this modern Jeremiah is doing so. Christendom had its roots in the Christianity of the first century C.E. The true Christian congregation came into being on the festival day of Pentecost in the year 33 of that century. It became “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for special possession,” to Jehovah God. (1 Pet. 2:9) This meant that his marriage relationship with natural circumcised Israel was annulled, abolished. She became divorced! Jehovah now entered into the position of “husbandly owner” toward the newly born “holy nation,” spiritual Israel. This “holy nation” he had bought with the precious blood of his Son Jesus Christ, the Greater Moses. He brought this “nation” into the “new covenant” that Jeremiah had foretold. (Jer. 31:31-34) Jesus was the Mediator of that new covenant. In autumn of the year 36 C.E. believing non-Jews were admitted to baptism and became part of spiritual Israel.
6. To what did religious apostasy among professed Christians lead in the forth century C.E.?
6 Then what? After the death of Christ’s chosen apostles by the end of the first century, religious rebellion began to take root in the congregation of spiritual Israel against its “husbandly owner,” Jehovah God. (Matt. 13:24-28, 36-39) This apostasy among professed Christians grew, until early in the fourth century Emperor Constantine of the Roman Empire was influenced to take advantage of the situation. Although he was not baptized and was still Pontifex Maximus of the Roman pagan religion, he declared the nominal Christianity of his day to be the State religion for the Roman Empire. From this a marriage of apostate Christianity with the political State resulted.
7. According to Jeremiah 2:20, 21, what degeneration must Jehovah’s Christian witnesses call to Christendom’s attention?
7 To present-day Christendom Jehovah’s Christian witnesses have the duty to speak just as Jeremiah spoke to the apostate nation of Israel of the seventh century before our Common Era. With what words from Jehovah God? These: “Upon every high hill and under every luxuriant tree you were lying sprawled out, prostituting yourself. And as for me, I had planted you as a choice red vine, all of it a true seed. So how have you been changed toward me into the degenerate shoots of a foreign vine?”—Jer. 2:20, 21.
8. How does Jeremiah 2:2, 3 show a fall on Israel’s part from an honorable spiritual state?
8 Jehovah further described the spiritual state from which his covenant people Israel and, modernly, nominal Christianity had fallen when He also said by Jeremiah: “I well remember, on your part, the loving-kindness of your youth, the love during your being engaged to marry, your walking after me in the wilderness, in a land not sown with seed. Israel was something holy to Jehovah, the first yield [the firstfruits] to Him.” (Jer. 2:2, 3) The sacredness of that covenant relationship with Jehovah as God was lost sight of by natural Israel, except for a faithful remnant that included Jeremiah. A similar failure to appreciate the fitness of exclusive devotion to Jehovah God was shown by Christendom. She has not lived by the new covenant.
9, 10. Why does Christendom ask questions about the fitness of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses to act like Jeremiah?
9 Who, though, are Jehovah’s Christian witnesses of today that they should take it upon themselves to act like Jeremiah and charge Christendom with falling short of God’s requirements for spiritual Israelites in the new covenant? Who are they that they should be accusing Christendom of being guilty of spiritual adultery toward the God of the new covenant? (Jas. 4:4) That is how Christendom views the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Measured from the time of Constantine the Great, Christendom is more than 1,600 years old and has millions of congregations!
10 In contrast, Jehovah’s Christian witnesses of today are but a century old, measured from the founding of the Allegheny (Pennsylvania) congregation of unsectarian Bible students. Christendom views them as just a young upstart congregation without the Biblical scholarship of which she can boast. What, though, of Jeremiah’s age when Jehovah commissioned him to be a prophet?
11. According to Jeremiah 1:4-6, did Jeremiah’s youth matter with Jehovah?
11 Jeremiah’s youth did not matter with Jehovah. Godly devotion and willingness to serve under unpleasant circumstances were the qualities that counted with Jehovah. This is evident from the Bible record: “And the word of Jehovah began to occur to me, saying: ‘Before I was forming you in the belly I knew you, and before you proceeded to come forth from the womb I sanctified you. Prophet to the nations I made you.’ But I said: ‘Alas, O Sovereign Lord Jehovah! Here I actually do not know how to speak, for I am but a boy.’”—Jer. 1:4-6.
“BUT A BOY”
12. Why was Jeremiah not too young in 647 B.C.E. for Jehovah to select him to be “prophet to the nations”?
12 However, was this son of Hilkiah the priest too young in 647 B.C.E. for Jehovah to select him as “prophet to the nations”? No, for even before Jeremiah was conceived in his mother’s womb, hence long before his birth, Jehovah saw that a son from Hilkiah would be suitable for this responsible office—just at the right time, too. Also, if Jehovah could sanctify such a son before Hilkiah begot him, certainly this Almighty God could introduce that son into the sacred office, say about 20 years after his birth, or, better still, 25 years after his birth, when he would be qualified to enter the first phases of priestly service at the temple in Jerusalem. So Jeremiah’s birth was well timed, for Jehovah wanted the desired prophet-priest to be a young man at the beginning of his career.
13. During whose reign did Jehovah’s word come to Jeremiah, and why did he feel too young to speak as prophet?
13 Jehovah purposed for Jeremiah to serve as prophet for a long time, for more than 40 years, or till old age. So it was not accidental that Jehovah’s prophetic word began to come to Jeremiah in the thirteenth year of the reign of King Josiah of Jerusalem. (Jer. 1:1, 2) But Jeremiah himself felt too young to undertake prophetic work that required speaking, publicly. Also, since this would involve speaking to the elders of the nation, men of advanced age, Jeremiah felt himself to be “but a boy.”
14. How did Jehovah’s attitude toward Jeremiah’s youth contrast with that of the prominent people of the land?
14 The kings, princes, priests and people of the land looked down upon Jeremiah’s youth, this reminding us of how the Christian apostle Paul told his missionary companion Timothy not to let anyone look down upon his youth when he was carrying out Paul’s orders to him. (1 Tim. 4:12) Jehovah did not do so. He did not speak to Jeremiah in a boyish way, and he did not inspire Jeremiah’s first prophecy to be couched in boy’s talk. It was addressed to adults and in their dignified language.
15. How has Christendom all along looked upon the Jeremiah class, and how has the courage of this class been like that of David?
15 All along, Christendom’s much older religious systems have looked upon Jehovah’s Christian witnesses as “but a boy,” in comparison with themselves. It is true that C. T. Russell was just 27 years old when he founded and started editing Zion’s Watch Tower, but he kept on editing it for 37 years, till he died when 64 years old. He served as president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society for almost 32 years (1884-1916). As that Society was incorporated in December of 1884, the work carried on in conjunction with it by those now organized as Jehovah’s Christian witnesses has been for only about 100 years. Yes, youthful they were when stepping into the arena of modern religious controversy, yet they went out onto the field with courage. It was like the teenage shepherd boy David, when he challenged the heavily armed Philistine giant Goliath. (1 Sam. 17:23-54) Like David, they knew that they were going forth in Jehovah’s name and that “to Jehovah belongs the battle.”—1 Sam. 17:47.
16. In spite of Jeremiah’s objection as to his being “but a boy,” what did Jehovah then do?
16 Regardless of their age, Jehovah is able to qualify those whom he chooses for his service. The experience of Jeremiah as a pre-Christian witness of Jehovah proves that to be true, for our encouragement today. Jeremiah’s own biography says: “And Jehovah went on to say to me: ‘Do not say, “I am but a boy.” But to all those to whom I shall send you, you should go; and everything that I shall command you, you should speak. Do not be afraid because of their faces, for “I am with you to deliver you,” is the utterance of Jehovah.’ At that Jehovah thrust his hand out and caused it to touch my mouth. Then Jehovah said to me: ‘Here I have put my words in your mouth. See, I have commissioned you this day to be over the nations and over the kingdoms, in order to uproot and to pull down and to destroy and to tear down, to build and to plant.’”—Jer. 1:7-10.
17. What does Jehovah’s commission to the Jeremiah class not authorize the members of it to do?
17 The Jeremiah class of our time understand their commission from Jehovah. They know that this commission does not authorize them to indulge in worldly politics, to promote or take active part in political revolutions or to engage in nihilistic, anarchistic movements. That is not God’s way for them “to uproot and to pull down and to destroy and to tear down.” Their being “over the nations and over the kingdoms” is not that they may dictate to the nations and kingdoms or take over full control of them. In Jeremiah’s day he did not carry out his commission from the Most High God in that way. Neither do those of the anointed Jeremiah class of today do such a thing. They are peaceful, orderly, law-abiding citizens of the land of their residence.
18. In what sense is the Jeremiah class over nations and kingdoms, and in what sense does this class act as commissioned toward such nations and kingdoms?
18 In what sense, then, are they “over the nations and over the kingdoms”? How do they carry out their supranational commission from Jehovah, in whose name they have been sent? Well, they are given a position or office that comes from a source higher than the worldly nations and kingdoms. For this reason they are duly authorized to make pronouncements world wide that these nations and kingdoms would not commission the Jeremiah class to pronounce without worldly diplomacy. With authority from the Most High God and in the language of his Bible, they merely declare that these nations and kingdoms will be uprooted from their entrenched places, pulled down, torn down and destroyed at God’s due time and by his chosen means. (Compare Ezekiel 43:3; Genesis 41:11-13.) It is as if the Jeremiah class were doing the uprooting, pulling down, tearing down and destroying, for what God’s Word tells this class to declare He himself will fulfill.—Jer. 18:7-10.
19. What does Jehovah thus prove himself to be to the nations, relatively speaking?
19 In that way God shows himself to be “King of the nations,” showing himself to be superior to them all. None of their kings and rulers can equal him.—Jer. 10:7; Rev. 15:3, margin; The Jerusalem Bible; The New American Bible.
20. Because of what international reactions does it take courage for the Jeremiah class to carry out its commission from God?
20 It takes courage for those of the Jeremiah class to fulfill this commission, for their message is unpopular world wide. Like Jeremiah of old they have to declare the destruction of all worldly nations. (Jer. 25:15-30) So they cannot share in the fanatical patriotism of these doomed nations. They cannot imbibe the nationalistic spirit of modern times. Kings and rulers of today consider the message of the Jeremiah class to be seditious, disloyal, damaging to the morale of their subjects and weakening to the defense forces of their lands. So they threaten these proclaimers of Jehovah’s prophetic message to the modern world. In many cases they back up their threats with suppression of the Jeremiah class and with various forms of punishment to try to deter this class. So it becomes necessary to imitate Jeremiah and obey Jehovah as “King of the nations” rather than men. That is what Christ’s apostles of the first century did.—Acts 4:19, 20; 5:29.
[Picture on page 756]
The young Jeremiah class (as pictured in an early Watch Tower Society calendar) is “over the nations” in having a God-given position and work