Saying “Peace” When There Is None
1. Where does the Jeremiah class of today find itself with regard to the proclaimers of “Peace!” when there is none?
THE prophet Jeremiah was not among those of his day who were saying “Peace!” when there was none. Likewise, the Jeremiah class of today is not among those mouthpieces of Christendom who imitate those men who persisted in saying “Peace!” in Jeremiah’s day. Who finally will prove to be the truth-tellers, those proclaimers of “Peace!” or the so-called “calamity howlers”?
2, 3. (a) To what are men feeling obliged to look as the source for a stable, lasting peace? (b) To illustrate the helplessness of such source of peace, what was Jeremiah next told to say?
2 For a peaceful outcome of worldly matters men are feeling obliged to look upward for supernatural help. But it is not to the God of the ancient prophet Jeremiah that they look as the Source of a stable, lasting peace. The supernatural forces for peace to which they look will prove to be false gods, absolutely helpless! Warning all of us of the blasting of the foundationless dreams of peace on the part of kings, princes, priests, prophets and the concerned populace when their false gods of peace fail them, the inspired prophet Jeremiah was told to say of that time:
3 “‘At that time [as foretold in Jeremiah 7:32-34],’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘people [the Babylonian conquerors] will also bring forth the bones of the kings of Judah and the bones of its princes and the bones of the priests and the bones of the prophets and the bones of the inhabitants of Jerusalem from their graves. And they will actually spread them out to the sun and to the moon and to all the [starry] army of the heavens that they have loved [as objects of worship] and that they have served and that they have walked after and that they have sought and that they have bowed down to. They [the bones] will not be gathered, nor will they be buried. As manure upon the face of the ground they will become.’”—Jer. 8:1, 2.*
4. So the desecration of graves manifests what for the worshipers of false gods, and what do they not deserve to experience?
4 Ah, yes, the heavenly bodies that had beamed down so promisingly upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the land of Judah would then look down so helplessly during that calamitous time when the question would be settled, Who is the God of truth? The desecration of graves of persons prominent in religion and politics would show the contempt felt toward those who worshiped false gods in violation of Jehovah’s Ten Commandments. Even the peace with which they slept in death would be broken. (Job 3:13-19) In Jehovah’s eyes, devout worshipers of false gods do not earn for themselves protective sanctity or holiness, especially not when they claim to be in Christian relationship with the God of the Bible and yet break his plainly stated commandments. (Ex. 20:1-6; 1 John 5:21; 2 Cor. 6:16) Respect for the dead they do not deserve to experience!
5. How will persecutors of Jehovah’s Witnesses find that their taunts respecting Jehovah apply as to their own gods?
5 So the day of reckoning will come for those who have persecuted the Christian witnesses of Jehovah, taunting them with the defiant words, ‘Where is your God Jehovah? Let him come and save you now!’ (Ps. 22:7, 8) In the approaching “great tribulation” in which Christendom will go down, the persecutors who pleased her by their acts will find out whether their false gods can help them. Then they will learn that their gods will be unable to save them from judgment by the God whom they ridiculed.
6, 7. (a) What would the deportees to Babylon have preferred, and why? (b) In spite of Jehovah’s appeals for a returning to him, how has the response been like that in Jeremiah’s day?
6 In Jeremiah’s day there were to be survivors of Jerusalem’s destruction. What about them? They were to be deported to the land of Babylon. There, as far as they were concerned, “death will certainly be chosen rather than life.” (Jer. 8:3) Even though Jehovah appealed to the covenant-breaking Israelites to return to peaceful relationship with him, they took the “popular course” of this world down till 607 B.C.E. So they laid no secure foundation for a peaceful future under Jehovah’s blessing. In modern times also, Christendom has taken the popular course. For decades now since 1919 C.E., the Jeremiah class as made up of anointed witnesses of Jehovah has made known the way to come back into peaceful relations with the God of the Bible. But most church members of Christendom have refused to take heed. It is just like what Jeremiah said:
7 “Why is it that this people, Jerusalem, is unfaithful with an enduring unfaithfulness? They have taken hold of trickiness; they have refused to turn back. . . . There was not a man repenting over his badness, saying, ‘What have I done?’ Each one is going back into the popular course.”—Jer. 8:4-6.
8. The trouble back there consisted of what failure of discernment, as is also true now?
8 What was the trouble back there in Jeremiah’s day during the time for Jehovah’s inspecting of his covenant people? Also, what is the trouble today with the people of Christendom? It was and is their not using their powers of discernment such as those that migratory birds have to discern the time for the arrival of springtime. Birds from the north that had taken haven in warm southern areas during the northern winter like that in Palestine promptly return to their roosting and mating places up north. “But,” says Jehovah by way of contrast, “as for my people, they have not come to know the judgment of Jehovah.” (Jer. 8:7) It was the same in the days of Jesus and his apostles, before the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 C.E. (Matt. 16:2-4; Luke 19:44) It has proved to be the same with Christendom in these days of the Jeremiah class.
BREAKDOWN NOT HEALED
9, 10. (a) On what basis do Christendom’s clergy claim to be wise and versed in law? (b) In disproof of their claim, what foreview does Jehovah give us of the consequences of their dealings?
9 The clergy of Christendom claim to be wise, not basically due to having the Bible but because of having theological seminary training. They insist that they are informed on the law of the Bible’s God and know how to interpret it and apply it. But the God of the Bible knows differently. He looks ahead to the near future, when the consequences of their handling of Christendom’s affairs will actually face them. With such a foreview Jehovah says:
10 “How can you men say: ‘We are wise, and the law of Jehovah is with us’? Surely, now [at the outbreak of the final trouble], the false stylus of the secretaries has worked in sheer falsehood. The wise ones have become ashamed. They have become terrified and will be caught. Look! They have rejected the very word of Jehovah, and what wisdom do they have? Therefore [at the invasion of the enemy forces] I shall give their wives to other men, their fields to those taking possession; for, from the least one even to the greatest one, each one is making unjust gain; from the prophet even to the priest, each one is acting falsely.”—Jer. 8:8-10.
11, 12. (a) How has the “stylus of the secretaries” of Christendom “worked in sheer falsehood”? (b) According to Jeremiah 8:9, what is the reason for the pen of Christendom’s writers to set out false things?
11 In writing things contrary to what Jehovah has foretold, the “stylus of the secretaries” of modern-day Christendom will shortly prove to have been a “false” pen. It has not written the truth. Consequently, in this “time of the end,” when so much has been written in behalf of Christendom, that religious pen or “stylus” has certainly “worked in sheer falsehood.” (Dan. 12:9) Why has that been so?
12 “Look!” said Jehovah in Jeremiah 8:9, “They [the reputed wise men] have rejected the very word of Jehovah, and what wisdom do they have?” O yes, Christendom’s clergy may quote a theme text from the Bible, but in their sermon that follows they will depart from what the Bible says. They will teach man-made traditions that invalidate God’s written Word. They will discuss politics or a popular program of social reform. They pose as being divinely “wise,” but put Grecian philosophy and the “wisdom of this world” ahead of what the Bible says about the human soul, about the state of the dead, about God’s personality, and so forth. (1 Cor. 3:19) However, they are walking into a trap. They will at last be “caught” by the failure of their own worldly-wise policies. They are put to shame and subjected to terrifying consequences.
13. Who are largely responsible for Christendom’s church members making “unjust gain,” from the least to the greatest of them? And how so?
13 The clergy have encouraged their “flocks” in worldly pursuits that hold promise of fame or material rewards. They have favored the rich to the hurt of the poor. They have demanded financial compensation for their religious services. Setting such an example, they bear much responsibility for the fact that their church members, the least as well as the greatest, put spiritual interests last and “unjust gain” or “dishonest gain” first. (1 Pet. 5:1, 2) How fitting, then, that Jehovah does not prevent such professed Christians from losing all their “unjust gain” in the approaching “great tribulation” upon Christendom! Jehovah’s prophetic Word will thus come true upon them.
14. To what extent have the clergy healed the spiritual breakdown of Christendom?
14 The clergy of Christendom are still looked to as spiritual physicians. But since the end of World War I in 1918, have they succeeded in healing the spiritual wound, “the breakdown [Hebrew: shéber],” that Christendom has suffered? The record of now 60 years since then furnishes the facts about the clergy and their associate religious leaders. It shows that they have failed to get at the root cause of what ails her and why she will not survive the “great tribulation” but will experience destruction under God’s adverse judgment. They merely keep treating the symptoms but do not treat the real cause of Christendom’s doomed position before God. They have healed her breakdown superficially, slightly, skin-deep, “lightly,” as if it were a light matter with Jehovah God.
15. How do the clergy feel about the religious remedies that they have applied, and with what words do they assure their flocks?
15 Since the end of World War I Christendom has grown tremendously in church membership, but what about the spiritual condition of these members and their relationship with Jehovah God? The religious remedies that the clergy have applied have not improved matters, have not prevented rank worldliness from invading the churches. We do not need to detail this for our readers. The clergy feel quite confident about the remedies that they have applied. With words that throw their ailing flocks off guard, the modern-day “priests” and “prophets” keep assuring Christendom with the words: “There is peace! There is peace!” or, “All is well, all is well.”—Jer. 8:11; An American Translation; see also The New English Bible.
16. How do the clergy speak contrary to what the Jeremiah class says?
16 Thus these religious leaders act falsely. They make their flocks feel that there is nothing basically wrong with Christendom. They assert that her relationship with God is good, and hence there is no tribulation to be expected at his hands. So, do not pay attention to predictions that the Jeremiah class makes about early destruction for Christendom in a “great tribulation.”—Jer. 6:14.
17. Why is there actually no peace between Jehovah and Christendom?
17 The threatening situation is thus falsified by Christendom’s mouthpieces in their giving such assurances of peace, “when there is no peace.” There is no peaceful relationship between Jehovah God and Christendom. Her sins are not covered by the atoning blood of Christ. Her sky-high mass of sins is unpardonable. So God is not at peace with her. Destruction, not “peace” or spiritual prosperity, awaits her, because her clergy and church members have shamelessly ‘done even what is detestable’ to Jehovah.—Jer. 8:12.
18. The destruction will befall Christendom how, and to what extent will the destruction go?
18 With the clergy and their flocks in such an off-guard attitude destruction will befall them “suddenly,” yes, as if “in a moment.” (Jer. 4:20; 6:25, 26) Since the close of World War I in 1918 a thorough inspection of Christendom has been made by Jehovah, and shortly, at his appointed time, he must give her due attention, just as he did to ancient Jerusalem. Then her self-confident religionists will stumble to their fall into destruction. Jehovah will make a clean sweep; there will be nothing to glean like leftovers. Whatever material things Jehovah has permitted them to acquire “will pass by them” and on into enemy hands.—Jer. 8:12, 13.
19. (a) What did Jesus tell his disciples to do when early destruction of Jerusalem was indicated? (b) What did those in the open country in Jeremiah’s day do, at the disappointment of their expectations?
19 Back in the year 33 C.E., when Christ foretold the destruction that was to come upon Jerusalem in 70 C.E., what did he tell the Jews to do? To get out of Jerusalem and all the province of Judea when the nearness of impending destruction was indicated. The person in the field or rural areas was not to go into Jerusalem but at once was to get out of all Judea, for security and survival. (Matt. 24:15-18; Luke 21:20, 21) But in Jeremiah’s day, at the approach of the Babylonian destroyers, the people felt it to be better to leave the open country and take refuge in Jerusalem and other fortified cities. There, in such possible holdouts during siege, they preferred to come to silence in death, if need be. But aid from Jehovah, the God of their temple, did not come. Instead, he let them drink a bitter potion, death-dealing “poisoned water.” Due to the assurances of their false “prophets,” “there was a hoping for peace,” but what? “But no good came; for a time of healing, but, look! terror!” The sounds or reports of the invading forces of destruction were in their ears.—Jer. 8:14-16.
20. According to Jeremiah 8:17, who was responsible for the sending of death-dealing forces, and how was this prophecy fulfilled?
20 In Jeremiah’s day Jehovah was the One who sent his agents of destruction against the covenant-breaking Israelites. They had done detestable things before him, polluting his temple and his land. “‘For here I am sending in among you serpents, poisonous snakes, for which there is no charming, and they will certainly bite you,’ is the utterance of Jehovah.” (Jer. 8:17) There was then no Moses in Israel to hoist a copper snake upon a pole for Israelites to get healed from snakebite by merely looking at the copper snake in faith. (Num. 21:4-9; John 3:14, 15) The Babylonian destroyers and desolators meant business; back there in 609 B.C.E. nothing done by the besieged Israelites could charm these away from their God-given task. “Fortified cities,” in which the Israelites had taken refuge, could not shield them from Jehovah’s judgment.
21. How, in Jeremiah 8:18, 19, did Jehovah show that he had no heartfelt pleasure in bringing the national calamity?
21 Jehovah had no heartfelt pleasure in bringing this national calamity. So he gave due warning, foretelling the depopulating of the land of Judah and the deporting of most of the survivors to faraway Babylon. There the miserable deportees, surprised at Jehovah’s ‘strange work,’ would cry out to him for help. So he said: “A grief that is beyond curing has come up into me. My heart is ill. Here there is the sound of the cry for help of the daughter of my people from a land [Babylon] far away: ‘Is Jehovah not in Zion? Or is her king not in her?’”—Jer. 8:18, 19.
22. Why did that work of God seem to be strange, and what did Jehovah say was the reason for it?
22 The Jewish exiles would not be able to bring themselves to think that Jehovah would leave Jerusalem (Zion) so abased with no temple as the house of their God and with no royal throne on which a descendant of King David sat as Jehovah’s anointed king. What a reproach to His name, for the time being! Strange as that was back there, Christendom’s impending destruction will seem even stranger. Why it comes Jehovah shows in his answer to the cry of the Jewish exiles for help: “Why is it that they have offended me with their graven images, with their vain foreign gods?”—Jer. 8:19b; Isa. 28:21.
23. According to Jeremiah 8:20, what is to happen to the hopes of Christendom’s adherents for salvation by their works?
23 Christendom’s hopes for salvation are unscriptural; they must perish! The time is due to come when the adherents of Christendom must say: “The harvest has passed, the summer [for producing means of salvation] has come to an end; but as for us, we have not been saved!” (Jer. 8:20) Let us not be among those saying this!
24. Grief at such a calamitous message as ours was reflected by what exclamation in Jeremiah 8:21, 22?
24 Persons who today adhere to Christendom may feel grieved at such a message as ours. Long ago Jeremiah felt grieved at the prospect of destruction to the temple at which he served as priest and because the nation of which he was a member was to suffer slaughter and dispersion. In despair of the spiritual recovery of his own people and in all sincerity and with no vindictive feelings, he could exclaim: “Over the breakdown [shéber, or shattering] of the daughter of my people I have become shattered [shabár]. I have grown sad. Outright astonishment has seized hold of me. Is there no balsam in Gilead? Or is there no healer there? Why is it, then, that the recuperation of the daughter of my people has not come up?”—Jer. 8:21, 22.
25. Is any healing remedy available for Christendom today, and what should lovers of lasting peace now do?
25 The shattered spiritual condition of ancient Jerusalem and the land of Judah was unhealable. They were therefore really shattered by the Babylonians in 607 B.C.E. Today, at this late date, no spiritual ‘balsam of Gilead’ exists, able to heal Christendom. So now, before destruction strikes her “suddenly,” let all lovers of true and lasting peace with Jehovah God flee from her.
(This series of articles on Jeremiah’s prophecy to be continued.)
Note Baruch 2:24, 25, Douay Version.