Christian Neutrality as God’s War Approaches
“As regards the prophet that prophesies of peace, when the word of the prophet comes true the prophet whom Jehovah has sent in truth will become known.”—Jer. 28:9.
1. Why do the words of Jeremiah 27:9 against occultism fit right in with the world situation today?
“AND AS for you men, do not listen to your prophets and to your practicers of divination and to your dreamers and to your practicers of magic and to your sorcerers, who are saying to you: ‘You men will not serve the king of Babylon.’” Such words of long ago during the days of the Babylonian Empire fit right in with the world situation today. Why so? Because the world still abounds with dreamers, magicians, diviners and sorcerers. (Jer. 27:9) World capitals, like Washington, D.C., are notorious for their spiritists, and these are eagerly consulted by perplexed politicians. Because such fortune-tellers, clairvoyants, spirit mediums, interpreters of dreams and predictors of future events give advice and counsel to government officials, those dealers with the occult can have an important effect upon the politics of the world. Yet these occultists are not directly meddling in politics.
2. Is the Bible, because of predicting world developments, meddling in politics, and what answer does 1 John 2:15-17 provide for that question?
2 There is an ancient book that advises its readers against all forms of occultism but it contains many predictions about world developments in our own 20th century. It has much to say about the political affairs of our times. But, because of this, is this book meddling in the politics of our day? Is this book encouraging its readers to dabble in human politics so as to interfere with political rulers? To politicians who want to accuse the Holy Bible of being such a book, we answer, No! In one of the last books of the Bible the Christian apostle John writes:
“Do not be loving either the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him; because everything in the world—the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the showy display of one’s means of life—does not originate with the Father, but originates with the world. Furthermore, the world is passing away and so is its desire, but he that does the will of God remains forever.”—1 John 2:15-17.
The very last book of the Bible, also written by this same apostle John, describes how this world and its politics will pass away.
3. What attitude toward politics do religious leaders urge upon Christians, and to whom do they point as Bible examples in support?
3 However, there are religious leaders, even popes, patriarchs and archbishops, that argue against Christian neutrality and say that it is the bounden duty of each and every Christian to take an active part in the political affairs of this world. For Bible examples to support their stand, they will point to ancient Hebrew prophets, like Jeremiah the son of priest Hilkiah of the seventh century before our Common Era. In fact, the words of Jeremiah 27:9, quoted at the start of this article, were part of what Jehovah God told Jeremiah to say to the diplomatic representatives from the kingdoms of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre and Sidon. (Jer. 27:1-4) So, then, since the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon is now rapidly approaching, let us examine God’s use of Jeremiah at that ancient time. Does the example of Jeremiah allow for true Christians of today to violate Christlike neutrality and to dabble in worldly politics of any kind? Let us find out.
4. In the first year of Jehoiakim’s reign, what did Jehovah by means of Jeremiah say he would do to the temple and Jerusalem under certain circumstances?
4 We pick up our story in the year 628 B.C.E., or 21 years before the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem. This was the first year of the reign of Jehoiakim, the third last king of Jerusalem. In the fourth year after that Jeremiah gave his prophecy concerning King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon and the “cup” of Jehovah that was to be served on more than 20 kings and kingdoms, including Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre and Sidon. (Jer. 25:1-3) The prophet dates the matter for us, saying:
“In the beginning of the royal rule of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, the king of Judah, this word occurred from Jehovah, saying: ‘This is what Jehovah has said, “Stand in the courtyard of the house of Jehovah, and you must speak concerning all the cities of Judah that are coming in to bow down at the house of Jehovah all the words that I will command you to speak to them. Do not take away a word. Perhaps they will listen and return, each one from his bad way, and I shall have to feel regret for the calamity that I am thinking to execute upon them because of the badness of their dealings. And you must say to them: ‘This is what Jehovah has said, “If you will not listen to me by walking in my law that I have put before you, by listening to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I am sending to you, even rising up early and sending them, whom you have not listened to, I will, in turn, make this house like that in Shiloh, and this city I shall make a malediction to all the nations of the earth.”’”’”—Jer. 26:1-6.
5. By delivering the foregoing message, why was Jeremiah not mixing priestcraft with politics?
5 Jeremiah was a priest, and yet, by obeying this divine command, he was not attempting to mix priesthood and statecraft. He was just giving a warning from Jehovah for the benefit of the nation. He left it up to the governmental rulers and the people to heed that divine warning. Jehovah had a right and an obligation to warn the Kingdom of Judah because its people were in a national covenant with him as their God. In his Law given to them through Moses he warned the nation of what would result if they broke this covenant between God and man. So God’s prophet Jeremiah was not trying to mix priestcraft with statecraft, but was merely giving the people a warning from the God with whom they had a covenant. If they broke this covenant still further, their temple at Jerusalem would lose Jehovah’s ark of the covenant just as Shiloh’s tabernacle had lost it.
6. The absence of what commission from Jehovah bars the Jeremiah class from meddling in the politics of Christendom, and respecting her, what words of Jesus does this class heed?
6 Jeremiah was not there setting an example for the clergymen of modern-day Christendom to meddle in national politics. Today those of the Jeremiah class realize that they have no right to butt in on politics in any nation or bloc of nations, not even nations of Christendom. They know that, despite her claims, Christendom is not in a covenant with Jehovah. She may claim to be in the new covenant that was mediated by the One who is greater than Moses, Jesus Christ, but the facts belie that claim. Hence, those of the Jeremiah class know full well that they have no commission from Jehovah God to dictate to the nations of Christendom or to take an active part in the politics of such nations. Their faithfully declaring Jehovah’s warning to Christendom as well as to the non-Christian nations is no taking part in worldly politics. They do not love “either the world or the things in the world,” but stay true to Jesus’ words: “They are no part of the world.” (John 17:14, 16; 1 John 2:15) In strict neutrality they abstain from political matters of all kinds.
THE RELIGIOUS REACTION
7. In closing his defense before the Jerusalem court, what, according to Jeremiah 26:12-15, did Jeremiah say?
7 The other priests and the so-called “prophets” haled Jeremiah before a judicial session of the princes and before the people at an entrance to the temple. They accused him of seditious talk. “To this man the judgment of death belongs,” they said, “because he has prophesied concerning this city just as you have heard with your own ears.” (Jer. 26:7-11) In closing his defense, Jeremiah said to the Jerusalem court: “Only you should by all means know that, if you are putting me to death, it is innocent blood that you are putting upon yourselves and upon this city and upon her inhabitants, for in truth Jehovah did send me to you to speak in your ears all these words.”—Jer. 26:12-15.
8. How have the clergy of Christendom acted similarly to Jerusalem’s “patriots” toward the Jeremiah class?
8 What a spirit of nationalism these seekers for Jeremiah’s blood exhibited! It should have swept the court off its feet, just as similar patriotic pleas in other courtrooms have recently done. The plea of Jehovah for their reformation was overlooked. Their guiltiness before Him they passed over, stilling their conscience. Similar have been the cases involving the anointed Jeremiah class of modern times. The religious leaders of Christendom have put forth the same demand for drastic action. They have taken the lead in the clamor for putting the Jeremiah class to death, thus to be freed from the pricks of their own bad consciences.
9. In Jeremiah’s case did the princely judges yield to religious pressure, and how did they want to avoid calamity?
9 Among the princes who worked for the deliverance of Jeremiah from the death sentence was Ahikam the son of Shaphan. The princes did not yield to the religious pressure. They recognized Jeremiah as really being Jehovah’s mouthpiece. They did not want Jehovah to charge them with the innocent blood of his faithful servant. They decided in favor of Jeremiah: not guilty! His defense put them in the mood to recall historical examples. For instance, they were nearly 100 years closer to what Micah had prophesied against Judah and Jerusalem. King Hezekiah kept himself from bloodguilt by not having Micah put to death for supposedly seditious language, harmful to the State. “So,” said the elders in arguing for cautious handling of Jeremiah’s case, “we are working up a great calamity against our souls.”—Jer. 26:16-19, 24; Mic. 3:9-12.
10. How did the conduct of King Jehoiakim toward prophet Urijah contrast with that of King Hezekiah?
10 As a contrast to King Hezekiah who took to heart Jehovah’s warning by Micah, there was Hezekiah’s great-great-grandson then in his first year on the throne of Jerusalem, Jehoiakim himself! He bloodied up the very first year of his reign by having Urijah the son of Shemaiah put to death. To escape the wrath of King Jehoiakim, the prophet Urijah had fled to Egypt. But, without any reported arrangement with Egypt for extraditing Urijah, the vengeful king sent men to hunt down Urijah and forcibly drag him back to the land of Judah to suffer a martyr’s death. (Jer. 26:20-23) Thus later on in that same opening year of the new king, Jeremiah had additional ground for prophesying what he did, at Jehovah’s command. In this connection it should be noted that Pharaoh Nechoh had made Jehoiakim king over Judah. (2 Ki. 23:34, 35) So Pharaoh Nechoh may have cooperated with King Jehoiakim in crime.
11. What calamity did Jehoiakim thus procure for himself?
11 Jehoiakim did procure calamity for himself. In his eighth year of rule, King Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem and made Jehoiakim a vassal king to the new world power of Babylon. Three years later Jehoiakim met an apparently untimely death. His corpse was pitched outside Jerusalem’s wall to have the “burial of a he-ass.” It was just as Jeremiah had prophesied. (Jer. 22:18, 19; 2 Chron. 36:5-8; 2 Ki. 24:1-6) How terrible!
12. Like Jeremiah of old, how has the Jeremiah class of today been delivered from death at the hand of the religious element?
12 Like Jeremiah the son of Hilkiah, the Jeremiah class of our 20th century has been spared from death. Not in all cases, and not in all lands, have the judicial courts yielded to the malicious desire of the powerful religious elements of Christendom. There have been judges who have recognized the religious rights and freedom of the Jeremiah class, who, here on earth, represent the wifelike organization of Jehovah God. So what happened was quite like what was pictured in Revelation 12:15, 16. Popular, democratic elements of the “earth” came to the aid of the representatives of God’s “woman” and counteracted the efforts of Satan the Devil’s religious henchmen to engulf the Jeremiah class in lasting ruin.
13. What do those of the Jeremiah class continue to declare, while not compromising on what issue?
13 Those of the Jeremiah class continue to declare all that God commands them to declare against the modern counterpart of Judah and Jerusalem, as well as against all other political parts of this system of things. Even though they are driven “underground” in some areas, they do not work to subvert established governments in order to force what they declare to come true. They resist all pressure to make them compromise with this or that political party. They refuse to abandon Christian neutrality.
14. The Jeremiah class recognizes that the fight belongs to whom, and, after the fight, what kind of place will the earth be for living?
14 Thus, intransigent, they keep themselves “no part of the world.” They well know that Jehovah God the Almighty can take care of himself. The war is his! It is not theirs to fight! They stand firm in Christian integrity, confident that “the war of the great day of God the Almighty” has approached, inasmuch as unseen demon forces with their occult powers are gathering earthly rulers to the world situation that is symbolically called Har–Magedon. (Rev. 16:13-16) So the Jeremiah class rejoices that its unflinching Christian neutrality is in support of Jehovah’s universal sovereignty. What a grand place our earth will be for the Jeremiah class and their fellow Christian neutrals after they witness the triumph of Jehovah’s sovereignty at Har–Magedon!
THE PLOT AGAINST JEHOVAH’S SERVANT-KING
15. Why is this the time of the greatest international plot in all human history, and what does Revelation 14:12 say this will mean for God-fearing Christians?
15 However, the present is the time for Christians of the real Bible kind to be specially tested as to their neutrality and integrity. It is the time of the greatest international plot in all human history, for now it is the time of the United Nations, which today has 151 members. Why call the U.N. an international plot or conspiracy? Because it is a man-made organization for counteracting and holding off, as long as possible, the rightful rule of Jehovah’s kingdom by means of his Christ. Which will prevail, Jehovah’s Messianic kingdom or the United Nations? The security and peace of all peoples are implicated. Foretelling how trialsome the period of the United Nations as an agency for world protection would be, Revelation 14:12 says: “Here is where it means endurance for the holy ones, those who observe the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.”—Compare Isaiah 8:12, 13.
16. What international conspiracy was there 19 centuries ago, and to what did its partial fulfillment of Psalm 2:1-4 point forward?
16 Nineteen centuries ago there was an international plot or concerting of efforts against Christ himself, God permitting this to bring about the martyrdom of Jesus. (Acts 3:13; 4:27; 13:28, 29; 1 Tim. 6:13) This was foretold in Psalm 2:1-4. Both this psalm and its partial fulfillment 19 centuries ago pointed forward to the international conspiracy against Jehovah and his Christ at this time when the full right to the “kingdom of the world” belongs to them both.—Rev. 11:15-18.
17. The witnesses of Jehovah recognize the present world organization to be operating against whom, and to what stand, taken in 1919, do they stick today?
17 True Christians will recognize the present international plot as in operation against Jehovah and his Christ. So they will continue to endure in their Christlike neutrality, holding fast to the position that they took back in 1919 at the Cedar Point (Ohio) convention of the International Bible Students Association, advocating Jehovah’s kingdom by Christ as against the proposed League of Nations for world peace and safety, such League being now succeeded by the United Nations. Their position is the one that the prophet Jeremiah himself would take today, for he gave inspired warning about a like plot against the rule of Jehovah’s royal “servant.”
18. In the first year of Jehoiakim’s rule, what was Jeremiah told to make, and to whom was he to send them along with a message?
18 Consequently, the prophecy of Jeremiah, chapter 27, has up-to-date meaning for us. There the prophet’s record says:
“In the beginning of the kingdom of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, the king of Judah [in 628 B.C.E.], this word occurred to Jeremiah from Jehovah, saying: ‘This is what Jehovah has said to me, “Make for yourself bands and yoke bars, and you must put them upon your neck. And you must send them to the king of Edom and to the king of Moab and to the king of the sons of Ammon and to the king of Tyre and to the king of Sidon by the hand of the messengers who are coming to Jerusalem to Zedekiah the king of Judah. And you must give them a command for their masters, saying: ‘This is what Jehovah of armies, the God of Israel, has said; this is what you should say to your masters.’”’”—Jer. 27:1-4.
19. According to the regular Hebrew text, when did Jeremiah get Jehovah’s message, and on what occasion did he act upon it?
19 We note that here two kings are named as reigning over Judah and Jerusalem, first Jehoiakim, and then his brother Zedekiah, who reigned after Jehoiakim and his son Jehoiachin. If the name Jehoiakim is correct in Jeremiah 27:1, then Jeremiah got this prophecy in 628 B.C.E. and kept it in reserve for 11 years before acting upon it. But three Hebrew manuscripts and the Syriac and Arabic versions of Jeremiah 27:1 say “Zedekiah” instead of “Jehoiakim,” and this is how many modern Bible translations state the matter.* At any rate, Jeremiah’s taking action in obedience to Jehovah’s command is laid in the reign of King Zedekiah and on the occasion when the envoys from five neighboring lands, Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre and Sidon, came to Jerusalem to deal with King Zedekiah. By this time Nebuchadnezzar had been emperor of Babylon at least eight years and had deported King Jehoiachin to Babylon and had put his uncle Zedekiah on the throne of Jerusalem. As a vassal king, Zedekiah owed allegiance to Babylon.
20. What kind of movement did the coming of those five envoys represent, and why were they told not to listen to the words of the occultists?
20 The coming of envoys from five neighboring lands was a concerted action. It represented a concerted movement. From what Jeremiah was told to say to these envoys, it is evident that a plot was afoot to stir up a combined revolt against Emperor Nebuchadnezzar. The predictors and the practicers of occult arts favored the revolt. That is why Jeremiah was told to say to the envoys: “And as for you men, do not listen to your prophets and to your practicers of divination and to your dreamers and to your practicers of magic and to your sorcerers, who are saying to you: ‘You men will not serve the king of Babylon.’ For falsehood is what they are prophesying to you, for the purpose of having you taken far away from off your ground; and I shall have to disperse you, and you will have to perish.”—Jer. 27:9, 10.
21. Back there, what were the demons urging the nations concerned to do?
21 Just as today the demons are leading the political rulers to Har–Magedon, to “the war of the great day of God the Almighty,” so back there the same demons were urging the political rulers of the lands from which the envoys came to hatch a united revolt against Jehovah’s “servant,” Nebuchadnezzar. (Rev. 16:13-16) Logically, those nations did not object when King Zedekiah of Judah did revolt in the ninth year of his reign.
22. When Jeremiah delivered the message from Jehovah to those envoys, why was he not meddling in politics, and how did Jehovah emphasize his sovereignty in the message?
22 When Jeremiah delivered messages from Jehovah to the envoys from the five-nation coalition, he was not meddling in politics, for his God, Jehovah, was “King of the nations” and was doing the five nations a favor by giving them a warning of national importance. Emphasizing his own universal sovereignty, Jehovah told Jeremiah to say to them:
“I myself have made the earth, mankind and the beasts that are upon the surface of the earth by my great power and by my stretched-out arm; and I have given it to whom it has proved right in my eyes. And now I myself have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, my servant; and even the wild beasts of the field I have given him to serve him. And all the nations must serve even him and his son [Evil-merodach] and his grandson [Belshazzar] until the time even of his own land comes, and many nations and great kings must exploit him as a servant.”—Jer. 27:5-7; 2 Ki. 25:27; Dan. 5:1, 11, 18, 22.
23. How long was the servitude to Babylon to be, and what would befall the nation resisting Jehovah’s decree?
23 So, by Jehovah’s decree, it was to be a long time—in fact, 70 years—that the nations swallowed up by the Babylonian Empire were to bear the yoke of servitude. Such servitude was symbolized by the bands and yoke bars that Jehovah told Jeremiah to make and give to the foreign envoys who visited King Zedekiah. Revolt by those nations could not break God’s decree.
“‘And it must occur that the nation and the kingdom that will not serve him, even Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon; . . . with the sword and with the famine and with the pestilence I shall turn my attention upon that nation,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘until I shall have finished them off by his hand.’”—Jer. 27:8.
24. Why must Jehovah’s Servant-King, Jesus Christ, now rule amidst his enemies?
24 Today, in the time of the Jeremiah class, as well as back there in King Zedekiah’s day, it would be better to heed the counsel of the Sovereign Lord of the universe than to heed the demons. (Jer. 27:9-11) We certainly do not want to get enmeshed with an international conspiracy against Jehovah’s Servant-King, Jesus Christ. The political rulers, particularly those of Christendom, have been notified by numerous proclamations made by the anointed Jeremiah class, but the rulers prefer to stay in the United Nations. (Jer. 27:12-15; Rev. 17:12, 13) They tightly hold onto their national sovereignties and flatly refuse to bring their necks under the royal yoke of Jehovah’s Servant-King. Not taking seriously the end of the Gentile Times in 1914, the political rulers do not acknowledge that they are in a global conspiracy against the global rulership of Jehovah’s Servant-King. But, just as Zedekiah was allowed to be king of Judah by Jehovah’s “servant,” Nebuchadnezzar, so now with the political rulers, including those of Christendom. They have been allowed to keep on running political matters since 1914. Consequently Jehovah’s Servant-King must now rule amidst his enemies, the conspirators against him.
25. (a) Because of the refusal of the rulers to take heed, to whom must the Jeremiah class turn with the message? (b) If the prophets of early relief were from Jehovah, what were they told to pray about the yet remaining utensils?
25 Since political rulers demonstrate that they will not bring their necks under the “yoke” of Jehovah’s Servant, his enthroned Son in heaven, what must the Jeremiah class do? Turn to the people, to individuals. To the people the Jeremiah class must expose the promoters of conspiracy.
“This is what Jehovah has said, ‘Do not listen to the words of your prophets that are prophesying to you, saying: “Look! The utensils of the house of Jehovah are being brought back from Babylon soon now!” For falsehood is what they are prophesying to you. Do not listen to them. Serve the king of Babylon and keep on living. Why should this city become a devastated place? But if they are prophets and if the word of Jehovah does exist with them, let them, please, beseech Jehovah of armies, that the utensils that are remaining over in the house of Jehovah and the house of the king of Judah and in Jerusalem may not come into Babylon.’”—Jer. 27:16-18.
26. Instead of utensils being returned soon, what was to happen to the remaining utensils, according to Jehovah’s utterance?
26 In Jerusalem the temple with its pillars was still standing. In its courtyard there was still the big washbasin called “the sea” and the carriages for smaller movable basins and many other utensils for use by the priests and Levites. What about all these temple appurtenances?
“This is what Jehovah of armies, the God of Israel, has said concerning the utensils that are remaining over at the house of Jehovah and the house of the king of Judah and Jerusalem, ‘“To Babylon is where they will be brought and there they will continue to be until the day of my turning my attention to them,” is the utterance of Jehovah. “And I will bring them up and restore them to this place.”’”—Jer. 27:19-22.
27. (a) What did Jehovah’s utterance mean as respects the international plot? (b) So what course will lead to our sharing in the fruits of victory by Jehovah’s field marshal in the New Order?
27 What did this utterance of Jehovah mean? This: That the international plot against the rule of Jehovah’s “servant” would fail. The religious prophets and occultists who foretold events must prove to be false, misleading the credulous people to destruction. It is for our safety not to listen to them. Our trust must be not in the United Nations or any other international organization but in Jehovah’s kingdom by his own Servant-King, Jesus Christ. In Christian neutrality toward the political affairs and conflicts of this world, we will submit our necks to the yoke of the one whom Jehovah designated, the one whom he backs up as his field marshal in the oncoming “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon. This will lead to our sharing in the fruits of his glorious victory in Jehovah’s righteous new order.
See The Bible in Living English (Byington); The Jerusalem Bible; The New English Bible; The New American Bible, which puts the opening words of the verse in brackets and has a footnote reading “Zedekiah”; Revised Standard Version; An American Translation; Moffatt; and the Good News Bible.