Fortified to Speak Jehovah’s Words
“This is what Jehovah has said, ‘. . . you must speak . . . all the words that I will command you to speak to them. Do not take away a word.’”—Jer. 26:2.
1. What kind of prophet was Jeremiah, and how did Jehovah fortify him?
JEREMIAH was faithful as a prophet. Because he was zealous in proclaiming Jehovah’s “words,” the entire nation called down evil upon him. But when he cried to Jehovah for relief, his God reassured him, saying: “I have made you to this people a fortified copper wall; and they will certainly fight against you, but they will not prevail over you. For I am with you, to save you and to deliver you.” That “utterance of Jehovah” gave him strength to endure.—Jer. 15:10, 15, 20.
2. What desirable qualities did Jeremiah show? (Heb. 13:6)
2 Jeremiah was obedient in declaring “all the words” of the powerful judgment message that Jehovah gave him to speak. He ‘did not take away a word.’ (Jer. 26:2) He minced no words in exposing the wickedness of the Jewish nation, its rulers and its people. This called for courage on Jeremiah’s part, and for explicit faith in Jehovah’s power to sustain His prophet.
3. Who serve as a modern “Jeremiah,” and into what covenant have these been brought?
3 Correspondingly, in modern times, Jehovah has raised up the small remnant of his anointed witnesses to serve as a Jeremiah class, particularly in the realm of hypocritical Christendom. They, too, ‘must speak all the words that Jehovah commands.’ These words contain a message, not only of doom for Christendom and all other nations, but also of encouragement and hope for the true Christian congregation. These spiritual Israelites have been brought into the “new covenant” described by the prophet in the glowing words of Jeremiah 31:33, 34:
“‘For this is the covenant that I shall conclude with the house of Israel after those days,’ is the utterance of Jehovah. ‘I will put my law within them, and in their heart I shall write it. And I will become their God, and they themselves will become my people. And they will no more teach each one his companion and each one his brother, saying, “Know Jehovah!” for they will all of them know me, from the least one of them even to the greatest one of them,’ is the utterance of Jehovah. ‘For I shall forgive their error, and their sin I shall remember no more.’”
4. Like Abraham, to what hope do God’s people look forward? (Heb. 13:12-15)
4 For this spiritual “seed of Israel” Jehovah builds a heavenly city, one that will not be uprooted, neither will it be torn down anymore to time indefinite. (Compare Hebrews 9:13-15.) This prospect reminds us of how Jehovah strengthened faithful Abraham by holding before him the hope of “the city having real foundations, the builder and maker of which city is God.” (Heb. 11:10) And now we are living in the day when Christ’s bride, the “holy city, New Jerusalem,” is nearing its completion in the heavens, whence figuratively it will ‘come down’ to bestow everlasting blessings on mankind.—Rev. 21:2-5, 9.
5. (a) What “words” should we eagerly make known to others? (b) what twofold message must the Jeremiah class proclaim? (Compare Isaiah 61:1, 2.)
5 This city is the heavenly kingdom toward which Jehovah, through Jesus Christ, shepherds the remnant of his sheep. At present the elders among these serve as faithful undershepherds to his congregated people on earth. (Jer. 23:3, 4) They are ambassadors for the kingdom of the “righteous sprout,” the Greater David, Jesus Christ, of whom the prophecy says:
“A king will certainly reign and act with discretion and execute justice and righteousness in the land. . . . And this is his name with which he will be called, Jehovah Is Our Righteousness.” (Jer. 23:5, 6; compare Isaiah 32:1, 2; 2 Corinthians 5:20.)
How eager we should be to make known to others Jehovah’s “words” concerning that righteous kingdom! But Jehovah also commissions the modern-day Jeremiah class to proclaim a message of doom!
6. How do Jeremiah’s “words” fit Christendom’s clergy?
6 The clergy of Christendom claim to be Christian. But do their teachings and actions support this claim? Or, rather, do they fall into the same class as the religious leaders of Jeremiah’s day? Of these, Jeremiah said:
“It is men that they catch. As a cage is full of flying creatures, so their houses are full of deception. That is why they have become great and they gain riches.” (Jer. 5:26, 27)
They have coveted men, either attracting them with an outward display of piety or converting them at swordpoint, as in the days of imperial colonization. But their religion is founded on ancient Babylonian mysteries, not on God’s Word. (Rev. 17:5) Their god is a mystifying “trinity.” Falsely teaching that the soul is immortal, they have instilled in many the fear of “hellfire,” and have enriched themselves financially by praying in behalf of those supposedly suffering in a mythical purgatory. They worship the cross, as the Egyptians did long before Christ. They deck the images and icons of their saints with halos and rosaries, after the pattern of Oriental religions.
“They have grown fat; they have become shiny. They have also overflowed with bad things.”—Jer. 5:28.
7. In what ways do many in Christendom compare with those in the Jerusalem of Jeremiah’s day?
7 In Jeremiah’s time, the majority of the people chose to remain with the doomed system. They loved its dishonesty, its corruption, its immorality. Is it not the same with many persons in Christendom today? Jehovah expresses his judgment:
“‘Should I not hold an accounting because of these very things,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘or on a nation that is like this should not my soul avenge itself? An astonishing situation, even a horrible thing, has been brought to be in the land: The prophets themselves actually prophesy in falsehood; and as for the priests, they go subduing according to their powers. And my own people have loved it that way.’” (Jer. 5:29-31)
Let the clergy continue to preach Babylonian falsehoods. Let them make themselves prominent in support of corrupt politicians. Let them wink at, or even come out in support of, permissive sex, homosexuality, gambling and other practices condemned by God’s Word. This may be popular, appealing to the masses. Many people may ‘love to have it that way.’ But God declares that he will execute judgment on all such religious hypocrisy in the very near future.
8. Of what is Shiloh’s doom prophetic? (Jer. 7:12)
8 In the time of Israel’s early judges, the tabernacle and ark of Jehovah were located at Shiloh. But the priesthood became so permissive, corrupt and immoral that Jehovah ‘held an accounting.’ Israel suffered crushing defeat by the Philistines, the ark was captured and high priest Eli and his immoral sons died. (1 Sam. 2:12-29; 4:2-18; 3:10-14) According to Jehovah’s words, Jerusalem of Jeremiah’s time was doomed to suffer as Shiloh suffered:
“‘And now for the reason that you kept doing all these works,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘and I kept speaking to you, getting up early and speaking, but you did not listen, and I kept calling you, but you did not answer, I will do also to the house upon which my name has been called, in which you are trusting, and to the place that I gave to you and to your forefathers, just as I did to Shiloh.’” (Jer. 7:13, 14)
The religions of Christendom, which claim a relationship to God through Christ Jesus, would do well to heed these words.
9, 10. (a) How do Christendom’s “works” contrast with those of true Christians? (b) As prophesied, how do Christendom’s religious leaders regard the moral breakdown and efforts for peace? (c) How will true peace come?
9 Christendom’s “works” have included her giving support to man-made schemes for peace, whereas Jesus taught true Christians to pray for God’s kingdom as the instrument for bringing peace to this earth. (Matt. 6:10) Catholic and Protestant leaders alike have hailed the United Nations as ‘man’s last hope for peace.’ At the same time they seek political favors by giving blessing and support to U.N. member nations that are arming for disaster at the staggering rate of $350 billion a year. Jeremiah’s words aptly apply to religious leaders in the modern “Jerusalem,” the realm of Christendom:
“From the least one of them even to the greatest one of them, every one is making for himself unjust gain; and from the prophet even to the priest, each one is acting falsely. And they try to heal the breakdown of my people lightly, saying, ‘There is peace! There is peace!’ when there is no peace.”—Jer. 6:13, 14; see also Jer 8:11; 14:13-16; 23:17-20.
10 Christendom’s religious leaders pass off the moral breakdown of their flocks lightly, saying that all is well when in reality the situation is deplorable and deserving of divine retribution. And where will their cries of ‘Peace! Peace!’ lead them? The apostle Paul answers: “Whenever it is that they are saying: ‘Peace and security!’ then sudden destruction is to be instantly upon them just as the pang of distress upon a pregnant woman; and they will by no means escape.” (1 Thess. 5:3) For peace comes, not by the schemes of nations that are frantically arming for nuclear warfare, but through God’s kingdom after it destroys the warmongering nations.—Dan. 2:44.
11. Compare Christendom’s bloodguilt with that of apostate Jerusalem.
11 Since the “appointed times of the nations” came to the full in 1914, these nations have angrily sacrificed 69 million lives in two world wars, as well as many other lives in smaller conflicts. (Luke 21:24) The religious clergy have blessed these conflicts, serving often as army chaplains on both sides. In approving the sacrifice of human lives they have been like apostate Jerusalem, which Jehovah condemned, saying:
“In your skirts there have been found the blood marks of the souls of the innocent poor ones.”
“This is what Jehovah of armies, the God of Israel, has said: ‘Here I am bringing a calamity upon this place, of which when anyone hears, his ears will tingle; for the reason that they have left me . . . and they have filled this place with the blood of the innocent ones.”
Jehovah severely punished Judah’s inhabitants for sacrificing “their sons and their daughters in the fire.” The people of Christendom are in line for a like punishment.—Jer. 2:34; 19:3-5; see also Jer 7:31.
12. What kind of festivals in Christendom are condemned by God’s Word, and how do these compare with those of ancient Jerusalem?
12 However, Christendom’s false religions have done even more than incur bloodguilt. They have embraced the doctrines and formalisms of ancient Babylon, the cradle of the vast world empire of false religion. Their Christmas, their Easter and many other of their festivals find their origin in religions of pre-Christian times. Why, Easter is even named after Astarte, the Phoenician goddess of fertility and sexual love! Concerning similar festivals in Jeremiah’s day, “the utterance of Jehovah” was as follows:
“The sons are picking up sticks of wood, and the fathers are lighting the fire, and the wives are kneading flour dough in order to make sacrificial cakes to the ‘queen of the heavens’; and there is a pouring out of drink offerings to other gods for the purpose of offending me. . . . Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said, ‘Look! My anger and my rage are being poured forth upon this place.’”—Jer. 7:18-20.
‘BUILDING AND PLANTING’
13. In what dual work is the Jeremiah class now engaged?
13 The Jeremiah class of modern times have been proclaiming God’s judgments on Christendom now for some 60 years. The time draws near for the execution of those judgments. So this foretells a work of ‘uprooting, pulling down, destroying and tearing down’ the error of false religion. It also foretells a ‘building and planting, by making known to honest persons the “good news” that God’s kingdom will replace the corrupt rule on earth today. It involves building in their hearts an appreciation of Jehovah, of his goodness and the opportunity for everlasting life under paradisaic conditions, made possible through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.—Rev. 7:9-17.
14. How is the illustration in Jeremiah chapter 24 fulfilled?
14 According to Jeremiah chapter 24, Jehovah made the prophet to see two baskets of figs, placed before the temple of Jehovah. The one basket contained bad figs, representing those who do not act in faith on Jehovah’s promises, so that they suffer loss. The good figs were “very good,” and pictured, in the first instance, those Jews who would act in faith in returning from Babylonian exile after 70 years to restore Jehovah’s worship in Jerusalem. In modern-day fulfillment, they represent the faithful remnant who have returned from captivity in Babylon the Great, particularly from Christendom’s religions, from 1919 onward. Concerning these restored ones, and others who would join them later, Jehovah says through his prophet:
“I will set my eye upon them in a good way, and I shall certainly cause them to return to this land. And I will build them up, and I shall not tear down; and I will plant them, and I shall not uproot. And I will give them a heart to know me, that I am Jehovah; and they must become my people, and I myself shall become their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.” (Jer. 24:6, 7)
JUDGMENT OF THE NATIONS
15. Who, all together, are embraced in the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s utterance of doom?
15 Jeremiah was a true prophet. He spoke in the name of Jehovah, directed the people to Jehovah’s worship, and every word that he uttered concerning Jerusalem, Judah and the other nations came true. Likewise, the major fulfillment of his prophecy is certain today. And note, in its modern-day fulfillment, this utterance of doom embraces, not only the nations of Christendom, but all the nations of the entire earth. Jehovah instructed Jeremiah:
“Take this cup of the wine of rage out of my hand, and you must make all the nations to whom I am sending you drink it. And they must drink and shake back and forth and act like crazed men because of the sword that I am sending among them.” (Jer. 25:15, 16)
After the destruction of all the nations that oppose God’s righteous will, the “ruler of this world,” Satan the Devil, will be abyssed. (John 12:31; Rev. 19:11-16, 19, 21; 20:1-3) This will prepare the way for lasting peace and happiness here on earth.—Rev. 21:3-5.
16. (a) Why should we not be afraid? (b) What fine example have Jehovah’s prophets set for us?
16 Should we be fearful that we now stand face to face with this final execution of judgment? Should we fear what the enemy may do to us as we boldly proclaim this message of doom? Jeremiah was not afraid. He feared only Jehovah. (Jer. 10:2-7) In obedience to Jehovah, he stationed himself conspicuously at the gates of Jehovah’s house and called the people’s attention to the detestable things that were being done in God’s name. As Jehovah kept “getting up early and speaking” to that people by means of his prophets in earlier times, so his prophet Jeremiah was also up early to be about his work. What a fine example for us today, that we should never slack the hand or “sleep in” when the work of Jehovah is to be done!—Jer. 7:1, 2, 13, 14; 25:3, 4.
17. How extensive will be the extermination from Jehovah?
17 While we declare the ‘tearing down’ of the nations and kingdoms and their replacement by God’s kingdom, we look forward confidently to Jehovah’s settling his controversy with the nations. At his due time he will act! None of the wicked will escape. It will be a complete extermination:
“And those slain by Jehovah will certainly come to be in that day from one end of the earth clear to the other end of the earth. They will not be bewailed, neither will they be gathered up or be buried. As manure on the surface of the ground they will become.”
As the tempest of destruction sweeps over the earth, the national “shepherds” and the “majestic ones” of their flock will howl and wallow about, and “fall like a desirable vessel.” There will be consternation like that in a household when a priceless vase crashes to the floor. They will be “rendered lifeless because of the burning anger of Jehovah.”—Jer. 25:31-37.
18. (a) How may honest-hearted persons find deliverance? (b) From what assurance will we continue to draw strength?
18 Happily, honest-hearted persons out of all nations who learn of Jehovah’s goodness are joining themselves to the Jeremiah class. They will find deliverance when God’s burning anger breaks forth, to “make all the nations” drink the bitter potion of destruction. (Jer. 25:17) The execution of that judgment hastens on! For a short time longer God’s enemies may fight against the Jeremiah class and their companions. But as “a fortified copper wall” we will continue to resist enemy pressure against speaking “all the words” commanded by Jehovah. Always, we draw strength from his promise: “‘They will not prevail over you. For I am with you, to save you and to deliver you,’ is the utterance of Jehovah.”—Jer. 15:20.