The Right Route Needs to Be Selected Now
1, 2. (a) What kind of world does the Bible predict there will be shortly as regards worship? (b) Why is now the urgent time to make a decision as to one’s course?
ACCORDING to the published facts, the vast majority of mankind does not worship the God of the Holy Bible. Throughout all past history the overwhelming majority of earth’s inhabitants has never done so. Organized Religion of Christendom claims to do so. A few other religious systems may also claim to do so by at least holding to part of the Bible. But when all those professing a religion are destroyed or pressured into giving up their form of worship, will it make much of a difference? Or what kind of world will this be? It will be the kind of world that the Bible predicts will shortly arrive, an unreligious world of brief existence.
2 However, it will more openly than ever worship “the god of this system of things,” and the Bible that identifies this “god” says that he is Jehovah’s great adversary, Satan the Devil. (2 Cor. 4:4) Jesus Christ called him the “prince” or “ruler of this world.” (John 12:31; 16:11) When, before long, the whole world is forced over to the worship of this counterfeit “god,” what will a person who is now appalled at such an idea do? What will he have the religious strength to do? Advisedly, now is the urgent time to make a decision!
3. How long ahead of time did Jehovah make his decision before executing it upon the nations?
3 Joel 3:14 foretells: “Crowds, crowds are in the low plain of the decision, for the day of Jehovah is near in the low plain of decision.” The Living Bible has a fuller reading of Joel 3:14 and says: “Multitudes, multitudes waiting in the valley for the verdict of their doom! For the Day of the Lord is near, in the Valley of Judgment.” The Bible in Living English, by Byington, calls it “Decision Vale.” The prophet Joel completed his book about 820 B.C.E. This was more than 200 years before Jehovah executed his “decision” typically upon the nations of that ancient time.
4. (a) In this regard, how did Jehovah set us a good example? (b) How did Baruch the son of Neriah set us a good example?
4 Jehovah set us a good example. He made his decision in advance and publicly declared it. We today, in a time no less critical, each need to make a personal decision ahead of the coming world catastrophe. To have the idea that at that time a person can suddenly reverse the course persisted in and make the right decision and thus escape sharing in the calamity is a dangerous self-deception. An exemplary man who acted right 18 years in advance of the international calamity about which he was advised in 625 B.C.E. was Baruch the son of Neriah. 625 B.C.E. was the fourth year of the reign of the third last king of doomed Jerusalem. His name was Jehoiakim the son of Josiah. He came to the throne in 628 B.C.E., after his younger brother, Jehoahaz, was dethroned by Pharaoh Nechoh of Egypt and taken down to Egypt.
5, 6. (a) Why was it a critical year when Jehovah’s word came through Jeremiah for Baruch? (b) According to Jeremiah 45:1-3 how was Baruch then feeling?
5 After Jehoiakim had reigned for three years in subjection to Egypt, the prophet-priest Jeremiah received a message from Jehovah for his secretary, Baruch the son of Neriah. It was now the fourth year for King Jehoiakim. That was a critical year, for in that year (625 B.C.E.) Nebuchadnezzar the son of Nabopolassar became king of Babylon. The king of Jerusalem would now have to reckon with the ruler of the Third World Power, Babylon, the conqueror of the Assyrian Empire. Here let us read Jeremiah 45:1-3:
6 “The word that Jeremiah the prophet spoke to Baruch the son of Neriah when he wrote in a book these words from the mouth of Jeremiah in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, the king of Judah, saying: ‘This is what Jehovah the God of Israel has said concerning you, O Baruch, “You have said: ‘Woe, now, to me, for Jehovah has added grief to my pain! I have grown weary because of my sighing, and no resting-place have I found.’”’”
7. How may Baruch have felt at seeing the worsening condition of Jerusalem, and what effect may Jeremiah’s repeated messages of doom have had upon Baruch?
7 How long before this Baruch had served as Jeremiah’s secretary we do not know, but he still had at least 18 years more in which to be the prophet’s companion. What “pain” he may have felt at seeing the worsening condition of the kingdom of Judah, we cannot find out; but now, besides that, he had to record the grievous message of doom as dictated by Jeremiah. He would feel like Jeremiah when this prophet wrote the book “Lamentations” after Jerusalem was destroyed in 607 B.C.E. by the king of Babylon. Jeremiah’s persistent, repeated prophesying of doom may have wearied Baruch.
8. To Baruch, what did Jehovah now disclose to be his purpose, but what was Baruch seeking for himself?
8 Baruch had no prospect of a “resting-place” for himself. Jehovah noted the inward inclination of Baruch and told Jeremiah to say to him: “This is what Jehovah has said: ‘Look! What I have built up I am tearing down, and what I have planted I am uprooting, even all the land itself. But as for you, you keep seeking great things for yourself. Do not keep on seeking.’”—Jer. 45:4, 5.
9, 10. Why did Jehovah have reason to disapprove of Baruch’s seeking “great things” for himself at that time?
9 Baruch knew what “great things” he was seeking for himself, although Jehovah did not state them to him. Evidently Jehovah did not approve of them, and so he should stop seeking them. Why?
10 It was because of Jehovah’s immediate purpose. In that very year he had raised up Nebuchadnezzar as king of Babylon, and this was the one whom he purposed to use as his executioner against Baruch’s people. Particularly from the days of King David (1077-1037 B.C.E.), Jehovah had built up the kingdom of Israel, but now, by means of Nebuchadnezzar, he was about to tear down that royal government, to continue out of action for 2,520 years, or until 1914 of our own century. Back in 1473 B.C.E., Jehovah had planted the nation of Israel in the Promised Land, but now, after more than 800 years, he was about to uproot it. For 70 years the land of the kingdom of Judah was to lie empty of Jew and domestic animal, while its people were in exile in the land of Nebuchadnezzar. In view of such impending things, was it the appropriate time for a man who knew of Jehovah’s purpose as proclaimed by Jeremiah to be seeking “great things” of a personal kind for himself? Not at all!
11. What depended upon Baruch’s making the right decision, and that now?
11 That is why Jehovah told him to stop seeking such things. What if Baruch kept on seeking selfish things? Could he then have any heart harmony with the message that he was being used to write down and to proclaim? No! Some sort of break between him and Jehovah’s prophet Jeremiah would certainly follow. If Baruch wanted to keep in heart harmony with Jeremiah and his message, then he would have to stifle selfish ambition. There were 18 years yet to pass till the foretold calamity, and yet it was now necessary for Baruch to make a decision. His very life, his “soul,” depended upon his making the right decision, yes, sticking to it. This he had to do if he wanted to keep his ties unbroken.
12. As in Baruch’s case, why is it now advisable for us to stop any seeking of “great things” for ourselves in this world?
12 How like Baruch’s critical situation is that of us informed persons of today! Particularly so from the year 1914 onward, for since then Jehovah’s Witnesses have preached that Christendom, the modern antitype of unfaithful Jerusalem, would be destroyed by one greater than Nebuchadnezzar, the now reigning heavenly King, Jesus Christ. So it would be most inadvisable for anyone in covenant relationship with God to be seeking “great things” for himself in this crumbling system of things at such a crucial time as now. It would show a failure to appreciate that we are living in the “time of the end.” It would show a lack of faith and confidence in the correctness and timeliness of the message published by the Jeremiah class concerning the doom of this old system of things. A person’s life, his “soul,” is now at stake! Jehovah is now about to do his work of tearing down and uprooting, by means of an agent mightier than Nebuchadnezzar, Jesus Christ. Do we want to be executed with the modern-time antitype of apostate Jerusalem, Christendom? If not, then we must make our decision while there is yet time, to do what Jehovah told Jeremiah’s secretary Baruch to do, and that is to stop seeking “great things” in this world.
13. Now is the time for us to share with the Jeremiah class in doing what?
13 Let us individually live in harmony with the message proclaimed by the Jeremiah class. Let us lay off from selfish ambition, not setting our affections on transitory things of this doomed system of things. This calls for us to share courageously with the Jeremiah class in warning of Jehovah’s coming “day of vengeance.” A divided heart is not the thing for us to have now.—Isa. 61:1, 2.
14, 15. (a) As a reward for obedience, what was Baruch to have as a “spoil” for himself? (b) Did it work out that way?
14 What is the reward for doing this? It is set out in what Jeremiah was told to say to Baruch: “‘For here I am bringing in a calamity upon all flesh,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘and I will give you your soul as a spoil in all the places to which you may go.’”—Jer. 45:5b.
15 It really worked out that way for Baruch. This proves that he made the right decision without undue delay. This is verified in an earlier chapter, at Jeremiah 43:5-7, which tells of what happened after Jerusalem was destroyed in 607 B.C.E. We read: The fearful surviving Jews in their flight from the land of Judah down to Egypt took along “Jeremiah the prophet and Baruch the son of Neriah. And they finally came into the land of Egypt, for they did not obey the voice of Jehovah; and they came gradually as far as Tahpanhes,” in northern Egypt. Yet after that Jeremiah kept on prophesying to those disobedient Jews.—Jer. 43:8–44:30.
16. If Baruch survived till the king of Babylon overthrew Egypt, what could be expected from the conqueror?
16 Not for long did those self-willed Jews elude the domination of the Babylonian World Power, for in time Nebuchadnezzar added Egypt to the territory of his empire. If Jeremiah and Baruch survived to witness this takeover by Babylon, they would not become victims of Nebuchadnezzar’s wrath. He had reason to remember them kindly. Baruch would continue to have his “soul” as a spoil in vindication of Jehovah’s promise at Jeremiah 45:5. Then he could fully appreciate how wise and right-minded he had been in breaking off from the ill-timed course of seeking “great things” for himself.
17. What benefit can we draw from Baruch’s obedient action as an illustration of what to do?
17 Can we today draw real benefit from Baruch’s obedient submission to Jehovah’s corrective counsel? Yes! No matter how closely connected we may be with the Jeremiah class, we do the divinely approved thing by not grasping at “great things” for ourselves during these last days of Christendom. Our “soul,” our life, as a person, is of far more value than “great things” doomed to pass away with this wicked world, stripping everyone down to his bare “soul.” To be alive then as a “soul” under divine approval will be surpassingly more precious than now enjoying for a while any perishable things of Christendom and all Organized Religion.
AVOIDING A CURSE FOR NOT USING THE “SWORD”
18, 19. Why was Jehovah’s “day of vengeance” not over with the calamity upon Judah and Jerusalem?
18 Baruch and Jeremiah grieved over the destruction of Jerusalem and the depopulating of her land. But pagan nations nearby or roundabout felt extreme pleasure at such a calamity to the covenant people of Jehovah. (Ps. 83:6-8; 137:7) Egypt, of course, was not altogether pleased, for she was glad to have Judah and Jerusalem subject to her and in alliance with her. Besides, the kingdom of Judah had served as a buffer zone between her and the threatening world power, Babylon. Yet Egypt had made a discreditable record for herself with regard to Judah and her capital, Jerusalem, where “Jehovah’s throne” had been occupied by kings of David’s royal line. The ugly hatred of the nations toward Jehovah’s covenant people did not go unnoticed by him, for the worship of him was involved.
19 So Jehovah’s “day of vengeance” was not over when he used the king of Babylon as his instrument to overthrow the kingdom of Judah. The cup of national disaster that had been put to the lips of Judah and Jerusalem deserved to be handed on to those ill-willed nations for them to be overthrown as haters of Jehovah.
20. (a) What did Jehovah inspire Jeremiah to do with regard to those ill-willed nations? (b) With regard to whom was Jeremiah 48:10 pronounced, and did they prove deserving of the curse?
20 So Jehovah inspired Jeremiah to round out his prophesying by foretelling the violent overthrow of such evil nations as Egypt, Philistia, Moab, Ammon, Edom, Kedar and even Elam. (Jer. 46:1–49:39; 25:15-33) The Babylonians under King Nebuchadnezzar were the ones whom Jehovah purposed to use in wielding the “sword” of execution against those nations that defied the true God. It was therefore with regard to those executional forces that Jehovah inspired Jeremiah to say: “Cursed be the one that is carrying out the mission of Jehovah neglectfully; and cursed be the one that is holding back his sword from blood!” (Jer. 48:10) Neither the Babylonians nor their king Nebuchadnezzar came under that curse for failing to carry out their “mission” from God thoroughly.
21. (a) Did Jeremiah and Baruch become “cursed” for not using the metallic “sword”? (b) Will Jehovah’s Witnesses be the ones to get rid of Christendom, or who will be?
21 However, what about us today? Could we come under a like curse for neglecting our mission, for holding back with reference to the “sword”? True, we know that neither Jeremiah nor Baruch wielded a metallic sword against those enemy nations. That was not their mission. Such a mission was given to the Babylonians under their newly enthroned emperor Nebuchadnezzar. The Jeremiah class of today as Jehovah’s Witnesses will not lift up a violent hand against Christendom, the antitype of apostate Jerusalem and her realm. Christendom’s onetime political associates and other godless elements will get rid of her without any tenderness, just like the surviving nations that were glad to get rid of Jerusalem and her kingdom as their neighbors.—Rev. 17:12-18.
22. Who will not share the high hopes of the overthrowers of all Organized Religion, and what will be the attitude of these to the new ruling powers?
22 However, what will the wiping out of Christendom and all other parts of the world empire of false religion leave behind on the earthly scene? Unreligious political forces, to take over control of all human affairs! They will do so with high hopes of success and feeling relieved at being no longer dictated to by Organized Religion. (Compare Ezekiel, chapter 23.) But such God-defying hopes will not be shared by the Jeremiah class and its God-fearing companions, even though these may show relative subjection to the new ruling powers as the new “superior authorities.”—Rom. 13:1, 2.
23. What will then cause the remainder of Jehovah’s “day of vengeance” to be fulfilled?
23 Jehovah’s “day of vengeance” will then already have begun, but it will not be over at the destruction of Organized Religion, the world empire of false religion. It must continue on until full divine “vengeance” has been poured out on all opposers of Jehovah’s universal sovereignty. But first they will try to make the Jeremiah class and their loyal companions conform unreservedly to the godless system of things, just as Johanan and his followers took Jeremiah and Baruch into custody and forcibly marched them down to Egypt. Failing in this, they will make an all-out attack upon those uncompromising worshipers of Jehovah. Like the international hordes under Gog of the land of Magog, they will try to invade the spiritual paradise of Jehovah’s remnant and their inseparable companions. Thus aiming at absolute world control, they will show themselves worthy of having Jehovah’s vengeance blaze out against them.—Ezek. 38:1–39:20.
24. Who will then counterattack, and will they deservedly be “cursed” for negligence or holding back?
24 Then what? Revelation 19:11-21 shows that Jesus Christ, a conqueror greater than King Nebuchadnezzar, will ride with angelic armies to a counterattack. They will not become cursed because of carrying out their mission from Jehovah neglectfully. They will deserve no curse because of holding back the executional “sword” from enemy blood. (Jer. 48:10) They will execute Jehovah’s vengeance upon the aggressive nations. For doing this they will be blessed with glorious victory, to Jehovah’s eternal vindication.
25. How must Jehovah’s Witnesses then imitate Jeremiah after he was dragged down to the land against which he had prophesied?
25 Since the year 1914 we have been in “the time of the end.” (Dan. 12:4) So now the Jeremiah class and their dedicated companions must call the world’s attention to the threatening “sword,” the executional instrument that Jehovah will use during the oncoming “great tribulation.” (Matt. 24:21) They must imitate Jeremiah, who, after he was forcibly dragged away from the land of Judah, proclaimed the threatening “sword” of King Nebuchadnezzar against the land to which he was dragged, Egypt, also Philistia, Moab, Ammon, Edom, and other enemy lands. Even now before the outbreak of the “great tribulation” they are under divine orders to “proclaim . . . the day of vengeance on the part of our God” against Organized Religion and all worldly nations. (Jer. 46:1–49:39) Their “mission” is to sound out the warning message: “Jehovah has a day of vengeance, a year of retributions for the legal case over Zion.”—Isa. 34:8.
26, 27. What words of Jehovah to Ezekiel as a watchman must the Jeremiah class now take to heart?
26 Now Jesus’ prophetic words at Luke 21:22 apply: “These are days for meting out justice, that all the things written may be fulfilled.” Now is the time especially for the Jeremiah class to take to heart Jehovah’s words to Ezekiel, who began prophesying in Babylon in 613 B.C.E., seven years before Jeremiah was carried off unwillingly down to Egypt:
27 “‘Now as regards the watchman, in case he sees the sword coming and he actually does not blow the horn and the people itself gets no warning at all and a sword comes and takes away from them soul, for its own error it itself must be taken away, but its blood I shall ask back from the hand of the watchman himself.’ Now as regards you, O son of man, a watchman is what I have made you to the house of Israel, and at my mouth you must hear the word and give them warning from me. When I say to someone wicked, ‘O wicked one, you will positively die!’ but you actually do not speak out to warn the wicked one from his way, he himself as a wicked one will die in his own error, but his blood I shall ask back at your own hand. But as regards you, in case you actually warn someone wicked from his way for him to turn back from it but he actually does not turn back from his way, he himself will die in his own error, whereas you yourself will certainly deliver your own soul.”—Ezek. 33:6-9; compare Ezekiel 9:2-10.
28. What is the desire of the Jeremiah class and their companions in this regard, but what is possible to occur, and what would this signify for them?
28 The Jeremiah class of today and their cooperative companions have no desire to become bloodguilty in such a way. But that is possible for them. If, out of fear of man, they should hold back from warning all peoples about the “sword” of Jehovah’s “day of vengeance” and thus fail in carrying out their “mission,” they would make themselves deserving of his curse. For them, this would signify a failure to survive, because of their delinquency.
29. To avoid going in the way of the heedless people after Organized Religion is destroyed, what must life seekers now select?
29 When, in the fast approaching “great tribulation,” the “sword” of divine vengeance strikes down all Organized Religion, the people who have not heeded Jehovah’s “watchman,” the Jeremiah class, will seek refuge with the doomed political elements—this to their sure destruction in the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon. (Rev. 16:14, 16) To avoid going in that way along with them, the right route needs to be selected now while the right route is still open. In it life seekers will never need to change their course.
(The concluding article of this series on Jeremiah’s prophecy will be published later.)
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God’s “day of vengeance” is not the time to seek “great things” for oneself
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Let us never be neglectful as to “the mission of Jehovah”