Why Will Christendom Not Survive?
“Look! They have rejected the very word of Jehovah, and what wisdom do they have? . . . from the prophet even to the priest, each one is acting falsely.”—Jer. 8:9, 10.
1. Why is it not strange that Jerusalem should prove to be disappointing as a peace factor?
JERUSALEM of today, the city prized by three of this world’s major religions, seems again to be playing a world role. Will she yet prove to be the city of the Prince of Peace? Will she yet prove to be the essential factor for the establishment of world peace? In these respects she will prove to be disappointing to those who attach high religious value to her. This need not seem strange to us, for even ancient Jerusalem itself failed the very God whose glorious temple crowned the height of Mount Moriah, one of her famous hills.
2. (a) What can we miss out on by listening to Christendom’s mouthpieces? (b) What has Jehovah raised up to warn Christendom?
2 Let us not be among those who today take the course that leads to inevitable disappointment. Christendom, who places high hopes in modern Jerusalem, has long had a commanding voice in affairs religious and political. In spite of her prestige, we can fail to get the everlasting life that we desire if we listen to what her mouthpieces have to say in this most critical time of all human history. According to the infallible Word of the God whom Christendom professes to worship, that system of nominal, professed Christianity is doomed, even as Jerusalem of the prophet Jeremiah’s day was. (Jer. 6:1-8) By means of persons fully dedicated to God as Jeremiah was, Christendom has been duly warned of the sure destruction in store for her. Yes, just like during the final days of Jerusalem in Jeremiah’s days, Jehovah God has raised up his anointed witnesses to be a modern Jeremiah class. (2 Chron. 36:15, 16) Regularly, to the church members of Christendom, Jehovah has sent these Christian witnesses of his, he, as it were, “daily getting up early and sending them.” (Jer. 7:25, 13) But all in vain!
3. What pattern of reaction to such warning have Christendom’s “prophets” and “priests” followed?
3 However, Christendom’s “prophets” and “priests” have refused to take heed. They do not like to have their “flocks” disturbed. So they give them false assurances that belie God’s prophecies. It was like that in Jeremiah’s day. It was like that in the days of Christ’s apostles. (Jer. 5:20, 21; Matt. 13:13-15; Acts 28:25-27) Do we want to be like those misled people and refuse to take heed? No!
MISPLACED TRUST IN A RELIGIOUS CHARM
4, 5. (a) In what kind of structure are people of Christendom putting trust today? (b) How does Jeremiah describe people who made a like mistake in his day?
4 Millions today put their trust in a doomed religious structure. The clergy of Christendom induce their church members to do so. The people of Jerusalem and of the land of Judah made a like mistake in the days of Jeremiah. We do not desire to imitate them. Jeremiah was commanded by Jehovah to stand in the gate of the temple of Jerusalem and publicly say to those coming in there:
5 “‘Do not put your trust in fallacious words, saying, “The temple of Jehovah, the temple of Jehovah, the temple of Jehovah they are!” . . . Here you are putting your trust in fallacious words—it will certainly be of no benefit at all. Can there be stealing, murdering and committing adultery and swearing falsely and making sacrificial smoke to Baal and walking after other gods whom you had not known, and must you come and stand before me in this house upon which my name has been called, and must you say, “We shall certainly be delivered,” in the face of doing all these detestable things? Has this house upon which my name has been called become a mere cave of robbers in your eyes? Here I myself also have seen it,’ is the utterance of Jehovah.”—Jer. 7:4-11.
6. During what action did Jesus use Jeremiah’s figures of speech regarding the temple of Jerusalem?
6 Jeremiah was not authorized to clean out the temple of all the defiling things put there by those who would carry out a fusion of Jehovah’s worship with pagan idol worship. (Jer. 7:30, 31) But more than 630 years after the destruction of that temple Jesus Christ, as the Son of God, cleansed the rebuilt temple of Jerusalem on two occasions. When doing so, Jesus used Jeremiah’s figures of speech. We read: “Jesus entered into the temple and threw out all those selling and buying in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. And he said to them: ‘It is written, “My house will be called a house of prayer,” but you are making it a cave of robbers.’” (Matt. 21:12, 13; see also John 2:15, 16.) That defiled temple was destroyed in 70 C.E.
7. (a) At the same time that religionists of Christendom carry on their worship, into what do they convert their religious structure? (b) What do they call Jesus Christ, and yet what will he call them?
7 Particularly since 1919 C.E. the modern Jeremiah class has been calling the world’s notice to the defiled state of Christendom. At the same time that church members carry on their worship in this professed Christian system of things, they take part in “stealing, murdering and committing adultery and swearing falsely.” They religiously sacrifice to other gods (Baals, Lords) in addition to the Lord Jesus Christ. Materialistically they convert their religious structure into a “mere cave of robbers.” (Jer. 7:9-11) In spite of all these things detestable to Jehovah, the religionists of Christendom pay lip service to Jesus Christ and call him “Lord.” They think that because of doing this everything is all right and that their worship is acceptable to God and Christ. But Jesus Christ will surprise them by calling them “workers of lawlessness,” because of their not doing his Father’s will.—Matt. 7:21-23.
8. Why do the religionists of Christendom think that their religious structure has a charmed life?
8 Like the Israelites to whom Jeremiah delivered Jehovah’s message, the religionists of Christendom view their “temple,” upon which they call the name of Christ, as if it were a charm against calamity at God’s hands. They point to their nominally Christian structure of things and say: “The temple of Jehovah they are!” (Jer. 7:4) The Roman Catholic Church claims to be apostolic by building up a line of apostolic successors going all the way back to Christ’s twelve apostles. The Anglican Church of Great Britain does something similar with regard to its “bishops” (episcopal clergy). The patriarchates of the Eastern Orthodox Churches depend upon an imagined unbroken succession of their bishops back to the twelve apostles, who, they argue, had apostolic successors. The papacy of Rome maintains that it is built upon the apostle Peter as “this rock” and so the “gates of hell” cannot prevail against it. (Matt. 16:18, 19, Douay) Because of such claimed continuity of things from Christ’s own day, they consider Christendom to have a charmed life, safe from extermination.
9, 10. (a) What question arises about worshipers who put trust in the ‘charmed life’ of Christendom? (b) What did Jehovah tell Jeremiah to say about the Jews who trusted in their temple?
9 However, if a person puts his trust in Christendom’s ‘charmed life,’ does this guarantee his safety from calamity and destruction with her? The apostle Paul warns that in the “last days” people would be “having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power; and,” he added, “from these turn away.” (2 Tim. 3:1-5) So, then, when a person goes through outward formalities in a house or institution professedly dedicated to God but at the same time defiled by mixture with false worship and worldliness, does this ensure his being protected from God’s expression of righteous displeasure? Well, what did Jehovah tell Jeremiah to say to the Israelites who trusted in their “temple”? Listen:
10 “‘Go, now, to my place that was in Shiloh [about 20 miles (32 km) north of Jerusalem], where I caused my name to reside at first, and see what I did to it because of the badness of my people Israel. 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. And I will throw you out from before my face, just as I threw out all your brothers, the whole offspring of Ephraim.’”—Jer. 7:12-15.
11. In Samuel’s days, what happened at Shiloh that shocked the religious susceptibilities of the Israelites?
11 What happened to Shiloh in the days of the young prophet Samuel shocked the religious susceptibilities of the Israelites. They trusted in the sacred ark of the covenant to save them from defeat at the hands of the Philistines. So it was taken out of the Most Holy of the tabernacle that was in Shiloh, and lawbreaking priests, the sons of high priest Eli, carried it into the battle. But the Ark did not protect them from the consequences of their violations of Jehovah’s law. Alas, the Ark fell into the hands of the pagan Philistines, Eli’s priestly sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were killed, and, on receiving the sad news, fat high priest Eli swooned backward, broke his neck and died. The Israelites continued under oppression by the Philistines, and never again did the Ark, the symbol of Jehovah’s presence, return to its place in the sacred tabernacle in Shiloh, even though it was sent back by the plagued idolatrous Philistines.—1 Sam. 3:1 through 7:2.
12. How did Jehovah treat Jerusalem and the land of Judah as he had treated once-favored Shiloh?
12 By Jeremiah, Jehovah warned that he would do the same to Jerusalem as he did to once-favored Shiloh. So he let the Babylonians destroy Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E. Even the temple that King Solomon had built and that housed the ark of the covenant was demolished. The Ark itself disappeared from all record, its whereabouts not being known today. After the calamity upon Shiloh, the Philistines let the Israelites stay there. But after the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and its temple, they deported most of the surviving Jews to faraway Babylon. The few Jews left behind finally forsook the land in terror and fled to Egypt. This left the whole land of Judah uninhabited. Thus Jehovah threw those covenant-breaking Jews out from before his face!
13. What lesson should we learn from that case of misplaced trust?
13 Let us today learn a lesson from this. Let us not put our trust in what the clergy of Christendom think will serve as a religious charm to save her from obliteration. The “great tribulation” that is shortly coming upon her will be worse than that which overtook Jerusalem and its temple 37 years after Jesus cleansed what had been turned into a “mere cave of robbers,” the defiled temple of Jerusalem.—Matt. 24:1, 2, 21, 22.
FROM RELIGIOUS SANCTITY TO POLLUTION
14. Why should we not pray to God for Christendom”s preservation?
14 No true lover of the God of the Bible will pray that such a strange thing may never befall Christendom. Jehovah ordered his prophet Jeremiah not to pray for Jerusalem and its profaned temple to be spared from the execution of His righteous indignation. Jerusalem’s modern counterpart, Christendom, has proved unreformable. After all these years that Jehovah has sent his Christian witnesses to warn the people of Christendom, she keeps on in her badness to where she is unpardonable.—Jer. 7:18-26; 5:7-9.
15, 16. (a) In view of what course of conduct does Christendom not deserve pity? (b) In giving an illustration of this, what did Jehovah say in Jeremiah 7:30, 31?
15 We should not pity Christendom because her destruction will affect so many human lives. Her course has brought great reproach upon God. Why should we not, first of all, think about him? He is more important than all human creatures. Think of how Christendom with her hundreds of millions of church members has brought shame upon his name and has persecuted his faithful witnesses who proclaimed his warnings and his lifesaving counsels. Do we have more compassion for unheeding, disobedient humans than for the name of the Most High God? True, their perishing with Christendom is lamentable, but their present course of shameful religious conduct is no less lamentable. In illustration of this, Jehovah said:
16 “‘The sons of Judah have done what is bad in my eyes,’ is the utterance of Jehovah. ‘They have set their disgusting things in the house upon which my name has been called, in order to defile it. And they have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom [outside the south wall of Jerusalem], in order to burn [what?] their sons and their daughters in the fire, a thing that I had not commanded and that had not come up into my heart.’”—Jer. 7:30, 31; note Leviticus 18:21; 20:2-5.
17. (a) What question comes up about pity toward the human sacrifices and the parents who offered them? (b) Who originated the idea of such human sacrifices?
17 So, now, when it comes to pity, for whom do we have more pity? For the idolatrous parents who faced an accounting with Jehovah? Or for the sons and daughters screaming as they were being offered as human sacrifices to the false god Molech (King), on a high altar at Topheth in the valley of the son of Hinnom? (Jer. 32:35) How could those heartless parents associate such worship of the fiendish idol-god Molech with worship at the holy temple just to the north of the valley? It was not at Jehovah’s command that they offered up such live human sacrifices to a false god. The idea of such human sacrifices came into the heart of the religious apostates back there, but never into the heart of Jehovah God. What do men who try to blend such worship with Jehovah’s worship deserve?
18. Numerically, how do such sacrifices of old compare with those offered up by Christendom in less than a century now?
18 Back there, the sacrifices of children by the renegade “sons of Judah” pale into insignificance as to number when compared with the human sacrifices that Christendom has offered up to her unchristian gods during the centuries. Though pretending to be the visible kingdom of the Prince of Peace, she has offered up countless sons and daughters to the god of war, her Molech or “King.” In now less than a century, she has sacrificed scores of millions of her finest young church members in the two most sanguinary wars of all human history, and in many minor wars. Blasphemously Christendom calls this Christianity. Such sacrifices she counts as “the supreme sacrifice” that gains for the sacrificed ones an immediate passport into Christ’s presence up in heaven!
THE SACRIFICES PLEASING TO JEHOVAH GOD
19. Well, then, what does a Christian’s presenting his body as a “sacrifice living, holy” to God mean for him?
19 Such sacrifices are not the kind that Jehovah God recommends to the followers of his Son Jesus Christ. Rather, at Romans 12:1, 2 he inspired the apostle Paul to write: “I entreat you by the compassions of God, brothers, to present your bodies a sacrifice living, holy, acceptable to God, a sacred service with your power of reason. And quit being fashioned after this system of things, but be transformed by making your mind over, that you may prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” The Christian’s presenting of his body as “a sacrifice living, holy,” does not mean his committing suicide or his having a religious priest kill him and offer him on an altar. That would not be a “sacred service with your power of reason.” Rather, it means the Christian’s leading a self-sacrificing life in behalf of God’s service, not his deliberately making a martyr of himself for show.
20. By living in such a way “acceptable to God,” what sacrifices can a live Christian offer to God?
20 By continuing to live in a way “acceptable to God,” the true Christian can offer to God the sacrifices mentioned in Hebrews 13:15, 16: “Through him [Christ, God’s High Priest] let us always offer to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips which make public declaration to his name. Moreover, do not forget the doing of good and the sharing of things with others, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”
21. For his chosen people, what did Jehovah put ahead of their offering of animal victims, and so what about human sacrifices?
21 The sacrifices thus described do not admit of our blending Jehovah’s worship with the offering of human or animal victims to the false gods of this world. (Isa. 42:8) The primary thing that God wants of his people is obedience, our obeying “the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” When Jehovah rescued his chosen people from death-dealing oppression in ancient Egypt, he did not put to the fore, as of first importance, the offering of animal sacrifices to him: “But this word I did express in command upon them, saying: ‘Obey my voice, and I will become your God, and you yourselves will become my people; and you must walk in all the way that I shall command you, in order that it may go well with you.’” (Jer. 7:22, 23; 1 Sam. 15:22) So if Jehovah did not demand animal sacrifices of his chosen people, much less would he ask human sacrifices of them. The idea of human sacrifices, such as those to Baal or Molech, did not even “come up into [his] heart.”—Jer. 7:31.
22, 23. (a) How has Christendom, with all her record of shedding human blood, failed to offer sacrifices acceptable to God? (b) What was to happen to her ancient prototype to show whether she would go unpunished?
22 Christendom, despite all her gory record of shedding human blood, has not offered to God the sacrifices pleasing to him. Obedience to the Bible’s God has been missing on her part. (Mic. 6:6-8) To this day she has not repented of her disobedient course, so as to offer to God the appropriate sacrifice: “The sacrifices to God are a broken spirit; a heart broken and crushed, O God, you will not despise.” (Ps. 51:17) Does she deserve to go unpunished? Will she go unpunished? Her ancient prototype, Jerusalem, underwent due punishment, just as Jehovah said:
23 “‘Therefore, look! days are coming,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘when it will no more be said to be Topheth and the valley of the son of Hinnom, but the valley of the killing; and they will have to bury in Topheth without there being enough place. And the dead bodies of this people must become food for the flying creatures of the heavens and for the beasts of the earth, with nobody to make them tremble. And I will cause to cease from the cities of Judah and from the streets of Jerusalem the voice of exultation and the voice of rejoicing, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride; for the land will become nothing but a devastated place.’”—Jer. 7:32-34; 19:6-9.
24. When did the typical fulfillment of that solemn prophecy occur?
24 The carrying out of this solemn prophecy did not occur during the reign of King Josiah, who did an idol-smashing work and defiled the places that had been devoted to the worship of Molech and other demon gods. (2 Ki. 23:3-20) The turning of Topheth and the valley of Hinnom into a valley of the killing, strewn with the Judean corpses, with no graves to keep flesh-eating birds and beasts from devouring them, occurred in 607 B.C.E., when long-besieged Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians and the miserable survivors were deported and the city was left a devastated place. For 70 years Jerusalem and Judah lay desolate.—2 Chron. 36:17-21.
25. In view of the foregoing, Christendom will not escape the fulfillment of what prophecy of Jeremiah?
25 Bloodguilty Christendom of today, with her pagan customs, man-made traditions, and mixture of heathen philosophies with Bible teachings, will fare no better than her ancient prototype. She will not escape sharing in the fulfillment of Jehovah’s prophecy: “A great tempest itself will be roused up from the remotest parts of the earth. 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.” (Jer. 25:32, 33) No! Christendom will not survive the impending “great tribulation.” (Matt. 24:1, 2, 21, 22) Moreover, all the rest of the world empire of false religion will closely follow her into destruction!
[Box on page 9]
The Bible prophecy of Jeremiah points lovers of righteousness to “the way of life.” It describes also Jehovah God’s execution of judgment on false religion and on the nations that oppose his will. That hour is at hand! It is timely, therefore, for “The Watchtower,” in this issue, and in succeeding ones, to discuss the modern-day fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy.
[Picture on page 13]