The Calamity Facing All Religionists of the World
1. What is the religious population estimated to be, and what impact will the fall of that religious empire have upon nations?
THE religious population of the world is enormous. The 1980 World Almanac puts it as high as 2,511,417,750. It numbers among these those who claim to be Christians, Jews, Moslems, Buddhists, Hindus, and others. When that internally divided religious empire goes down, it will astonish the most of surviving mankind. The disconcerting impact of this is foretold in these words: “At the sound when Babylon has been seized, the earth will certainly be set rocking, and among the nations an outcry itself be heard.” “Listen! There is an outcry from Babylon, and a great crash from the land of the Chaldeans, for Jehovah is despoiling Babylon, and he will certainly destroy out of her the great voice, and their waves will actually be boisterous like many waters. The noise of their voice will certainly be given out. For there must come upon her, upon Babylon, the despoiler, and her mighty men will certainly be captured. Their bows must be shattered, for Jehovah is a God of recompenses. Without fail he will repay.”—Jer. 50:46; 51:54-56.
2. (a) With what kind of “voice” did ancient Babylon speak toward the nations, but how was her “voice” drowned out? (b) What does Revelation picture her modern counterpart as riding, and what will it do to her?
2 The fulfillment of this will be a world-changing event, the like of which was never heard of before. (Jer. 51:2, 60, 64) As the Third World Power of ancient history, Babylon spoke with the “great voice” of authority. But in 539 B.C.E. her “voice” was drowned out by the boisterous waves of conquering invaders. Her modern-day counterpart, Babylon the Great, has spoken with an even more domineering “voice.” The whole world has listened. The Bible book of Revelation, chapter 17, pictures her as wantonly perched on top of a seven-headed wild beast, this scarlet-colored beast symbolizing a world organization. Its seven heads picture the seven world powers in their succession down to the Anglo-American World Power of today. (Rev. 17:1-6) The beast’s 10 horns “mean ten kings.” (Rev. 17:12) The third of the seven heads pictured the Babylonian Empire and the fourth pictured the Medo-Persian Empire. Religious Babylon the Great has played the harlot with all seven world powers. She has tried to ride them all as their mistress. They have drunk the religious mixture contained in her golden cup. Tiring of her, they will finally hate her and dump her off their backs.
3. (a) What did Jehovah declare he would bring against the ancient prototype of Babylon the Great, and from where? (b) Why was it that the Medes were presented so outstandingly?
3 Adding to the argument in favor of our getting out of Babylon the Great promptly, Jehovah declares his purpose to bring up against her ancient prototype “a congregation of great nations from the land of the north” to attack it. Because the “congregation” was to be a combined military force under one command, it could be termed also a “nation . . . from the north.” (Jer. 50:3, 8, 9) The prophecy was correct in predicting that “the kings of the Medes” would be outstandingly among that “congregation” of nations. (Jer. 51:11) Persians were not mentioned as being among the congregation. This was not an accidental oversight, for Cyrus the Great, who assumed supreme command of the “congregation,” did have some Median blood in him. After he conquered the kingdom of the Medes, he incorporated mainly Median soldiers in his army. Cyrus came to power after Jeremiah’s day.
4. After Babylon’s fall, who first began reigning in that city, and how was Daniel correct as to who would come to the top in the Medo-Persian Empire?
4 At Babylon’s fall in 539 B.C.E., Darius the Mede who began to reign there was 62 years old. (Dan. 5:30, 31) With regard to the Medo-Persian Empire, Daniel 8:3 was correct in showing that the Persian part would come to the top afterward. It was Cyrus the Persian who decreed the return of exiled Jews to their homeland.—Ezra 1:1-4.
5. (a) With what direction is Jehovah associated with reference to deeds of destruction? (b) Whom did he declare he would use as her club in dashing nations and kingdoms to pieces?
5 As in the case of Jerusalem’s destruction earlier in 607 B.C.E., destruction was to come upon Babylon from out of the “north.” (Ezek. 1:4; 9:2; Jer. 50:41; 51:48) As respects direction, Psalm 75:6, 7 apparently associates God with the north when saying: “Neither from the east nor from the west, nor from the south is there an exalting. For God is the judge. This one he abases, and that one he exalts.” By way of the northern route, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came in 609 B.C.E. against Jerusalem and her rebellious king, Zedekiah. Two years later “the inhabitress of Zion” could exclaim: “Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon . . . has swallowed me down like a big snake [or, dragon].” (Jer. 51:34, 35) As to Jehovah God’s connection with Jerusalem’s destruction, Jeremiah quotes him as saying back in 614 B.C.E. the following words regarding Nebuchadnezzar as his executional tool: “You are a club for me, as weapons of war, and by you I shall certainly dash nations [Judah, Egypt, Moab, Ammon, Edom, and others] to pieces, and by you I will bring kingdoms to ruin. . . . and by you I will dash governors and deputy rulers to pieces.”—Jer. 51:20-23.
6. After the foregoing words, what did Jehovah declare he would pay back to Chaldea’s inhabitants?
6 After that, what, O Jehovah? “I will pay back to Babylon [not to Nebuchadnezzar] and to all the inhabitants of Chaldea all their badness that they have committed in Zion [or, Jerusalem] before the eyes of you people.”—Jer. 51:24, 59, 60.
7. What war cry did Jehovah raise against Babylon in 614 B.C.E., and who responded?
7 In the days of Nebuchadnezzar and his successors, the Median Empire lay beyond the Tigris River and to the east and north of the Babylonian Empire. To fulfill prophecy, Cyrus the Great, accompanied by Median King Darius, came from the north against the land of the Chaldeans and its capital, Babylon. These spoilers of Babylon responded to Jehovah’s war cry already issued in 614 B.C.E.:
“Lift up a signal in the land, O men. Blow a horn among the nations. Sanctify against her the nations. Summon against her the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni and Ashkenaz [to the north]. Commission against her a recruiting officer. Make the horses come up like bristly locusts. Sanctify against her the nations, the kings of Media, its governors and all its deputy rulers and all the land of each one’s dominion. And let the earth rock and be in severe pain, for against Babylon the thoughts of Jehovah have risen up to make the land of Babylon an object of astonishment, without an inhabitant.”—Jer. 51:27-29.
8. Whom does Jehovah sanctify for service against Babylon the Great, and when does her destruction come? After whose release?
8 Jehovah proceeded to “sanctify” the Persian Cyrus the Great for His military service against ancient Babylon. Jehovah’s words at Isaiah 44:28 through 45:7 speak of Cyrus by his personal name as “my shepherd” and as an “anointed one.” He pictured Jehovah’s Greater “Shepherd,” Jesus Christ, by means of whom Jehovah destroys what ancient Babylon pictured, namely, Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion. Already by means of his Greater Cyrus, Jehovah has released his dedicated people from bondage to imperial Babylon the Great, from the year 1919 onward. Her utter destruction will come by means of this same Greater Cyrus in the coming “great tribulation” foretold in Revelation 7:13, 14.
THE FAILURE OF THE “GODS” AND “GODDESSES”
9. What deities did ancient Babylon have, and the way in which they met the calamity upon her foreshadows what with regard to Babylon the Great in the “great tribulation”?
9 Ancient Babylon had its deities, such as Bel, Merodach (Marduk), Succoth-benoth, Nebo, the goddess Ishtar (Ashtoreth), and others, besides the magic-practicing priests. (Jer. 50:2; 51:44; 2 Ki. 17:30; Isa. 46:1, 2) Why did they not come to the rescue of old Babylon? The answer is that those idolatrous deities were no gods. (1 Cor. 8:5, 6) Their failure foreshadows the inability of all the deities of Babylon the Great to save her from the calamity that is scheduled to befall her in the “great tribulation.” She has no lack of gods and goddesses. In the case of Hinduism, there are reported to be 330,000,000 deities, including the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Siva. (The Americana, page 196, edition of 1929) Then there are the gods of the African tribes and voodooists, the deities of the Buddhists and Confucianists, not to be overlooked being the “trinity God” of Christendom. They have no power of salvation.
10. In the coming display of godship, who will prove to be the real possessor of it?
10 In the coming display of Godship, it will be a case of the Almighty God Jehovah against all those gods and goddesses of the world empire of Babylonish false religion. Satan the Devil, the invisible god of this system of things, will not be able to prove all the deities of Babylon the Great to be the deities to look to for salvation. (Eph. 2:2; 2 Cor. 4:4) Jehovah alone will remain victorious in the field of contest as the one living and true God, the Savior.
11. Whom does Jehovah use visibly in the destruction of Babylon the Great, and what does Revelation 17:11 say about that agency?
11 At the coming ‘contest of the gods,’ Jehovah will not use his Greater Cyrus, Jesus Christ, visibly for overthrowing Babylon the Great. He will let the visible representatives of the Eighth World Power of Bible history act aggressively against Babylon the Great. That latest world power is the agency that worldly nations have devised and used since 1919 in trying to preserve world peace and security, now the United Nations. This man-made institution has at present behind it a “congregation” of 152 nations. It is caricatured as a scarlet-colored wild beast with seven heads and 10 horns atop, concerning which Revelation 17:11 says: “It is also itself an eighth king, but springs from the seven [heads], and it goes off into destruction.” Before its destruction in “the war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon, he lets this Eighth World Power chalk up a stunning victory for itself, but not against him.—Rev. 16:14, 16.
12. Since being voted into existence in 1919, the “wild beast” had whom steer it, but according to Revelation 17:15-17, what will the “beast” do to its rider?
12 Since the symbolic scarlet-colored beast was voted into existence in the postwar year of 1919, it has let the religious “harlot,” Babylon the Great, ride on its back like a queen to steer it. (Rev. 17:18) During the “great tribulation” and when God’s hour for it strikes, a go-ahead signal may be drawn from his words at Revelation 17:15-17: “The waters that you [John] saw, where the harlot is sitting, mean peoples and crowds and nations and tongues. And the ten horns that you saw, and the wild beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her devastated and naked, and will eat up her fleshy parts and will completely burn her with fire. For God put it into their hearts to carry out his thought, even to carry out their one thought by giving their kingdom to the wild beast, until the words of God will have been accomplished.”
13, 14. (a) What does Jehovah, according to his foreknowledge, let the political elements do to the “harlot”? (b) Right afterward, what will those victors over her do about Jehovah’s Witnesses, and what will be the outcome of their course?
13 As thus predicted, the nations that joined it gave first to the League of Nations and then to its successor, the United Nations, a deterring power in behalf of preserving world peace and security. Jehovah did not move them to do so, but, thinking ahead, he expressed his foreknowledge in his written Word. He has further foretold that those nations, in combine like a “congregation,” would tire of the burden of that international meddler in political affairs, the harlot Babylon the Great. When she is dumped off the back of that international peace-keeping body and finally burned with fire, the Christian witnesses of Jehovah will not be frightened by that “calamity” to her. From God’s Word they know that, on earth, they represent the heavenly “Lord of lords and King of kings,” Jesus Christ, and that, for this very reason, the victory-flushed conquerors of Babylon the Great will turn upon them as the last remaining obstacle to their exercising earth-wide domination. Jehovah’s Witnesses are given advance notice of that in this prophecy of Revelation 17:13, 14:
14 “These [political elements represented in the United Nations] have one thought, and so they give their power and authority to the wild beast. These will battle with the Lamb, but, because he is Lord of lords and King of kings, the Lamb will conquer them. Also, those called and chosen and faithful with him will do so.”
15, 16. (a) That final clash over world domination means, in effect, what? (b) What preview does the apostle John give us of this event, with what outcome?
15 This military engagement means the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at the world situation called Har–Magedon. (Rev. 16:13-16) Under Jehovah’s protection his witnesses on earth will witness the “war” as described in Revelation 19:11-21. In a preview of this final clash over the issues of world domination, the Christian apostle John describes the outcome of the war, writing:
16 “I saw the wild beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage the war with the one seated on the horse [Jehovah’s field marshal, Jesus Christ] and with his army [of heavenly angels]. And the wild beast was caught, and along with it the false prophet [the Anglo-American World Power] that performed in front of it the signs with which he misled those who received the mark of the wild beast and those who render worship to its image [the United Nations]. While still alive, they both were hurled into the fiery lake that burns with sulphur. But the rest were killed off with the long sword of the one seated on the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth. And all the birds [mentioned in Re 19 verses 17, 18] were filled from the fleshy parts of them.”
17. What does this calamity upon the atheistic political elements terminate, and then what takes place toward unseen elements?
17 That destruction of all the atheistic elements of this Devil-controlled system of things will terminate the “great tribulation” mentioned in Revelation 7:14. This will be followed by the binding and abyssing of the invisible world ruler, Satan the Devil, and all his demon angels for the next 1,000 years.—Rev. 20:1-3.
18. What does God’s Word show as to whether that war of all wars will leave our earth entirely depopulated?
18 Will that war of all wars at Har–Magedon leave an earth totally bereft of all human life? The end of the ancient world of Noah’s day by the deluge did not depopulate the earth, for eight human survivors rode out the earth-wide flood. (2 Pet. 2:5) Noah’s God, Jehovah, formed the earth “even to be inhabited.” (Isa. 45:18) Through the prophet Isaiah, Jehovah foretold the Persian conqueror, Cyrus the Great, by his personal name, and this liberator of the exiled Jews was raised up to picture the Greater Liberator, Jesus Christ. In the coming “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon, Jesus Christ will gain the victory over all the earthly enemies of Jehovah and of his people, killing off those enemies of God’s kingdom. Jesus Christ will not do this executional work at the expense of every member of the remnant of his spirit-begotten, anointed followers yet on earth, for in that case there would be no complete victory for the side of God’s kingdom. Furthermore, what about the “great crowd” of faithful associates of that anointed remnant? Revelation 7:9-15 plainly states that this “great crowd” will survive the “great tribulation” climaxing at Har–Magedon.
NOTICE OF THE COMING “CALAMITY” SERVED
19, 20. (a) Before the world calamity, upon whom must notice be served? (b) How did Jehovah illustrate this serving of notice in Jeremiah’s day?
19 World calamity is just ahead! Notice of this has to be served upon that world-dominating figure, Babylon the Great. This serving of notice upon her was illustrated away back in the prophet Jeremiah’s day, yes, back in 614 B.C.E. Of this, he tells us:
20 “The word that Jeremiah the prophet commanded Seraiah the son of Neriah the son of Mahseiah when he went with Zedekiah the king of Judah to Babylon in the fourth year of his being king; and Seraiah was the quartermaster. And Jeremiah proceeded to write in one book all the calamity that would come upon Babylon, even all these words written against Babylon. Furthermore, Jeremiah said to Seraiah: ‘As soon as you come to Babylon and actually see her, you must also read aloud all these words. And you must say, “O Jehovah, you yourself have spoken against this place, in order to cut it off so that there may come to be in it no inhabitant, either man or even domestic animal, but that she may become mere desolate wastes to time indefinite.” And it must occur that when you will have completed reading this book, you will tie to it a stone, and you must pitch it into the midst of the Euphrates. And you must say, “This is how Babylon must sink down and never rise up because of the calamity that I am bringing in upon her; and they will certainly tire themselves out.”’”—Jer. 51:59-64.
21, 22. How was that action of Seraiah imitated prophetically in the book of Revelation, and with what accompanying words?
21 What Seraiah, the brother of Baruch, the son of Neriah, was commanded to do in order to illustrate the overthrow of ancient Babylon was copied in the book of Revelation. The writer, the Christian apostle John, first describes the destruction of the international religious “harlot,” Babylon the Great, and then he goes on to say:
22 “And a strong angel lifted up a stone like a great millstone and hurled it into the sea, saying: ‘Thus with a swift pitch will Babylon the great city be hurled down, and she will never be found again. . . . no voice of a bridegroom and of a bride will ever be heard in you again; because your traveling merchants were the top-ranking men of the earth, for by your spiritistic practice all the nations were misled. Yes, in her was found the blood of prophets and of holy ones and of all those who have been slaughtered on the earth.’”—Rev. 18:21-24.
23. (a) Why will the rejoicing of the atheistic conquerors of Babylon the Great be short-lived? (b) So what will those atheists then attempt, and with what consequences?
23 The rejoicing to which the atheistic “kings” or political rulers will give way after plunging Babylon the Great into the sea of destruction will be short-lived. Still confronting them will be many surviving worshipers of the living God Jehovah, these being the anointed remnant of the Jeremiah class and also their loyal companions, the “great crowd” foreseen by the apostle John. These will have to be dealt with. When those political rulers try to obliterate all worship from the earth by touching the remnant and their companions, it will be the same as touching their heavenly Master, Jesus Christ, the Greater Cyrus. This will spell war with him at Har–Magedon. The war that will then erupt will surpass the radiological warfare that the nations are now trying to prevent among themselves, for from the invisible realm Jesus Christ and his army of heavenly angels will deal out destruction to these presumptuous assailants of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
24. Who will have the privilege of being eyewitnesses of that “war of the great day,” and without having to take part in it, but with what reaction?
24 What a great privilege it will be to be an eyewitness of that “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon! Under his protection and without having to take part in the fighting, the remnant of the Jeremiah class and their devoted companions will enjoy that privilege right here on earth, the battleground. Thus their having proclaimed “the day of vengeance on the part of our God” will be amply rewarded; it will not have been in vain. (Isa. 61:2) Who can now measure the extent of their jubilation then, along with that of all the holy angels of heaven under Christ?
25. (a) Into what opportunity will the “great crowd” of survivors be ushered after the “war”? (b) The prospect of such grand things should give what incentive now to Jehovah’s people?
25 Radiant with joy, these living examples of Jehovah’s preserving power will move forward into his new system of things on a cleansed earth. The opportunity to start the rebuilding of a global paradise will then open up, this to be enjoyed by the faithful “great crowd” forever and ever. What incentive should the prospect of all these grand things give to all those who desire now to be numbered among “my people,” Jehovah’s people? The incentive to obey his ringing command to “get out” of presumptuous Babylon the Great without further delay, and then to hold fast to Christian neutrality toward all her political paramours, uncompromisingly upholding Jehovah’s kingdom by Christ to the glorious day of victory!
(This concludes the series of studies on Jeremiah’s prophecy.)
[Picture on page 24]
The religious harlot, Babylon the Great, will soon be dumped off the back of the wild beast