The Road to Recuperation Opened by God
Before going through the following three articles the reader would do well first to familiarize himself with the material on which the articles are based, namely, the prophecy of Isaiah, chapters 58 and 59
“Speedily would recuperation spring up for you.”—Isa. 58:8.
1. Why does humanity need recuperation in its general state of health?
DOES all humanity need recuperation—healing? People who keep informed by all the modern means for gathering information from far and near will hardly hesitate to answer Yes! The question is, Who of us humans can bring about the sorely needed recuperation? Humanitarian persons hopefully keep on trying, but all their sincere efforts have failed to halt the worsening of humanity’s state of health socially, morally, economically, domestically. The cry of complaint from ailing mankind grows louder!
2, 3. (a) Who has more reason to complain over how far mankind has fallen than humanity itself? (b) How, in Romans 3:9-18, is the fallen state of humanity described?
2 If we ordinary creatures find plenty of room for complaint, how much more should the superhuman Creator of the universe find cause for complaint! He certainly did not discredit his creative ability by starting off his human creation in such a mess as we find ourselves in today. He candidly states that the entry of sin caused it all. Nineteen centuries ago he pointed out how far mankind had fallen from original perfection by inspiring one of the writers of the books of the Bible to pen these words of explanation:
3 “What then? Are we in a better position? Not at all! For above we have made the charge that Jews as well as Greeks are all under sin; just as it is written: ‘There is not a righteous man, not even one; there is no one that has any insight, there is no one that seeks for God. All men have deflected, all of them together have become worthless; there is no one that does kindness, there is not so much as one.’ ‘Their throat is an open grave, they have used deceit with their tongues.’ ‘Poison of asps is behind their lips.’ ‘And their mouth is full of cursing and bitter expression.’ ‘Their feet are speedy to shed blood.’ ‘Ruin and misery are in their ways, and they have not known the way of peace.’ ‘There is no fear of God before their eyes.’”—Rom. 3:9-18.
4. (a) In those words, from what was Paul quoting? (b) What, then, do we find the state of affairs to be today, 19 centuries later?
4 In the above portion of his letter that was written to the Christian congregation in ancient Rome, the apostle Paul was making quotations from the Hebrew Scriptures that were all written under inspiration more than 450 years before the writing of his letter about the year 56 C.E. For example, Paul quotes from Isaiah 59:7-20. This indicates that the situation was already quite bad away back there in his day, not only with reference to mankind in general, but especially with regard to those who claimed to be the people of Jehovah God, namely, the Jews, or Israelites. Well, then, today, more than 19 centuries after Paul wrote such things to the Christian congregation in the imperial capital of Rome, what ought we to expect the moral and religious condition of the world to be, not leaving out the section that is called Christendom? What the plain-speaking newspapers and magazines galore reveal to us about it is quite shocking, yes, terrifying.
5, 6. (a) According to the source of the name Christendom, how ought the nations making up her realm to be conducting themselves? (b) When reading Isaiah’s prophecies addressed to Israel, what larger application of them should we have in mind?
5 According to the source of its name. Christendom ought to be imitating Christ Jesus and living up to his teachings. The nations that make up Christendom ought to know how to do this. Among such so-called Christian nations Bibles, and particularly copies of the “New Testament,” circulate by the hundreds of millions of copies in all the known languages of their realm. Most of their inhabitants know how to read those inspired Scriptures so as to learn how to be a Christian. Since Christendom identifies herself with Christ and claims to be his congregation, her failure to follow the example of Christ brands her as a hypocrite. Her social, moral, religious state is like that of the once “chosen people” of Jehovah God in the days of the prophet Isaiah 800 years before Christianity came upon the earthly scene.
6 Really, Christendom’s sorry state parallels that of Israel in Isaiah’s day, for she claims to have replaced Israel as the chosen people of God. So, as we read certain chapters of Isaiah’s prophecy, we can have in mind their larger application to Christendom. Did Isaiah’s God look upon Israel of the prophet’s time as being hypocritical and needing spiritual recuperation? Let Jehovah God state his findings!
Divine Findings on Religious Hypocrisy
7. According to Isaiah 58:1, what findings of Jehovah was the prophet to proclaim to his chosen people?
7 Comes God’s command to Isaiah: “Call out full-throated; do not hold back. Raise your voice just like a horn, and tell my people their revolt, and the house of Jacob their sins.”—Isa. 58:1.
8. With what audibleness was Isaiah’s proclamation of Jehovah’s findings to be made, and why should he have felt the urge to prophesy?
8 According to that command, Jehovah God had found Israel guilty of “revolt,” or rebelliousness, and other unspecified “sins.” He used Isaiah as his mouthpiece to announce His findings, and this prophet was told to blare out God’s charges with the loudness of a “horn” or trumpet. At being told, “Do not hold back,” Isaiah may have felt like Amos, when that earlier prophet said: “There is a lion that has roared! Who will not be afraid? The Sovereign Lord Jehovah himself has spoken! Who will not prophesy?”—Amos 3:8.
9. To what extent should Jehovah’s hard message be heralded today, and what should it help the hearers to do?
9 The dedicated, baptized people of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah today should feel the same way about it. They should be moved to take up the divine message for today and blast it out over a far-reaching area. As Jehovah’s Witnesses, let them tell out that there is worldwide rebelliousness against the Sovereign Lord of the universe, who requires his people to be loyal and to avoid worldly sins. That explains why this hard message is being heralded earth wide. By heeding it the hearers can be helped to find recuperation.
10, 11. At the same time that the Israelites were making a show of delight in Jehovah by fasting and self-affliction, what else were they doing without self-control?
10 In what Isaiah was ordered to sound out loudly to “the house of Jacob,” he stripped its hypocrisy bare by saying:
11 “Yet day after day it was I whom they kept seeking, and it was in the knowledge of my ways that they would express delight, like a nation that carried on righteousness itself and that had not left the very justice of their God, in that they kept asking me for righteous judgments, drawing near to God in whom they had delight, [saying:] ‘For what reason did we fast and you did not see, and did we afflict our soul and you would take no note?’ Indeed you people were finding delight in the very day of your fasting, when there were all your toilers that you kept driving to work. Indeed for quarreling and struggle you would fast, and for striking with the fist of wickedness.
12. Was Jehovah’s acceptable kind of fast day to be a time for making a showy display of piety and self-affliction?
12 “Did you not keep fasting as in the day for making your voice to be heard in the height? Should the fast that I choose become like this, as a day for earthling man to afflict his soul? For bowing down his head just like a rush, and that he should spread out mere sackcloth and ashes as his couch? Is it this that you call a fast and a day acceptable to Jehovah?”—Isa. 58:2-5.
13. In his Sermon on the Mount, what did Jesus, without being hypocritical, say about fasting on the part of God’s people?
13 True, Jesus Christ, after he was anointed with Jehovah’s spirit, fasted for 40 days, but this was unobserved by men, and in the wilderness of Judea. And so later on in his Sermon on the Mount he could say without hypocrisy: “When you are fasting, stop becoming sad-faced like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Truly I say to you, They are having their reward in full. But you, when fasting, grease your head and wash your face, that you may appear to be fasting, not to men, but to your Father who is in secrecy; then your Father who is looking on in secrecy will repay you.”—Matt. 6:16-18.
14. (a) In Christendom, religious fastings are what kind of arrangement, and why? (b) In ancient Israel, formal fastings and self-affliction could not serve as a cover-up for what else?
14 No days of fasting were imposed upon Christ’s disciples; fasting is voluntary, optional. Christendom has its mandatory fasts, but these are merely man-made arrangements. In the prophet Isaiah’s day, if the self-chosen fasts of “the house of Jacob” had had the right idea and motivation behind them, there might have been no objection to them. But let us keep in mind what was going on in “the house of Jacob” at the same time as the fasting or before and after the days of fasting, the quarreling, the struggling, the yelling at one another on the highest pitches of the voice, the striking of others with the “fist of wickedness.” The formal fasting and self-affliction could never serve as a cover-up for all this badness before the penetrating eyes of Jehovah God. Little surprise that he seemed not to see their fasting or to take any notice!
15. (a) In Israel, the outward display of piety and self-abstinence was offset by what treatment of the toiling class? (b) With whom is the case similar today, and why is it improper?
15 For making an outward show of piety the formalistic Jews would let their heads droop like the top of a bulrush or would spread out sackcloth and ashes under them as if in deep mourning. But such demonstrations were no sincere sign of heartfelt repentance over their sins and revolt, or rebelliousness, against God and their disorderliness and irregularities. If their fasting was of a real kind, an abstention from ordinarily rightful things, why were they at the same time heartlessly driving their “toilers,” their own brothers, to work, thus heaping oppressive affliction upon them? Formal abstinence on fast days on the part of employers who acted as slave drivers to those toiling for them was truly hypocritical. It gained no favor or approval from God, nor did it give him any pleasure. The case is the same with Christendom, the observer of fasts, today, for she claims to worship the very God who inspired Isaiah to make public the revolt and sins of God’s chosen people.
16. What relief measures, if taken by the Israelites, would impress God more favorably than their holding formal fasts?
16 What kind of fast, what course of abstinence, is acceptable to Isaiah’s God, the God whom Christendom makes a show of worshiping? We can read Jehovah’s words as recorded by Isaiah in order to find out. For the benefit of those who feel the need of spiritual recuperation or who want to improve their relationship with the God of the Holy Bible, he says: “Is not this the fast that I choose? To loosen the fetters of wickedness, to release the bands of the yoke bar, and to send away the crushed ones free, and that you people should tear in two every yoke bar? Is it not the dividing of your bread out to the hungry one, and that you should bring the afflicted, homeless people into your house? That, in case you should see someone naked, you must cover him, and that you should not hide yourself from your own flesh?”—Isa. 58:6, 7.
17. Those words of Isaiah 58:6, 7 indicate that what things were going on in Israel, and so from what was there need of recuperation?
17 In an indirect way those descriptive words of Jehovah reveal that Israelites were being put in fetters unjustly, wickedly. Others were made to bear a yoke bar as if they were beasts of burden. Still others were being crushed by the work load that was being saddled upon them. Unfortunate Israelites were being allowed to go hungry or without proper shelter. Those having the means to furnish relief pretended not to be aware of the miserable state of fellow Israelites. Ah, yes, they dutifully carried out the formalities of a national fast, but they did not have enough brotherly love to lift the injustices and oppressions from off their own flesh and blood. The mere holding of fasts did not remove such heartless practices, nor comply with God’s commandment: “You must love your fellow as yourself. I am Jehovah.” (Lev. 19:18) If anything, those Israelites needed a recuperation from a spiritual ailment that meant certain death to their relationship with God!
18. Why is it no overstatement to say that Israel’s religious ailment, if left unchecked, meant death to their relationship with Jehovah?
18 This is not overstating matters, for in the century following Isaiah’s prophecy the nation of Israel lost its homeland and was buried out of sight in Babylonia, from 607 to 537 B.C.E. (Ezek. 37:1-11) Although reinstated in its own home territory by Jehovah’s undeserved kindness, the nation lost its covenant relationship with Jehovah God 569 years later, in the year 33 C.E. In 70 C.E. the Romans under General Titus destroyed rebellious Jerusalem, and the Jewish people were scattered world wide as objects of reproach. All of this stands as a warning to mortally sick Christendom.
Those Who Have Taken the Road to Recuperation
19. Was Isaiah himself sick with the spiritual ailment of his fellow Israelites, and what do words quoted from him in the book of Hebrews indicate?
19 Let no one imagine that the prophet Isaiah was spiritually sick with the religious hypocrisy that afflicted his nation. The man whom Jehovah God would use to expose such hypocrisy needed to have a healthy relationship with Him. Isaiah indicated the spiritual health of himself and his family, when he said: “Look! I and the children whom Jehovah has given me are as signs and as miracles in Israel from Jehovah of armies, who is residing in Mount Zion.” (Isa. 8:18) The Christian apostle Paul quotes this in his letter to the Hebrews and applies it to Jesus Christ and his anointed spirit-begotten disciples in these words: “He says: ‘I will declare your name to my brothers; in the middle of the congregation I will praise you with song.’ And again: ‘I will have my trust in him.’ And again: ‘Look! I and the young children, whom Jehovah gave me.’”—Heb. 2:12, 13.
20. Who at first were the “children” whom Jehovah gave to the Greater Isaiah, Jesus Christ?
20 The “young children” of Jehovah God whom he gave to Jesus Christ at Pentecost of 33 C.E. were men and women who belonged to the Jewish organization that had its capital at Jerusalem. Hence, before being anointed with God’s spirit at Pentecost, they had been associated with that spiritually sick system of things that embraced those whom Jesus Christ called “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matt. 10:6; 15:24) But from Pentecost onward they no longer belonged to the religious organization to which the prophet Isaiah was commanded to declare Jehovah’s words of criticism. Under the guidance of Jesus Christ they had taken the road to the recuperation promised by Jehovah in Isaiah 58:8. They left the organization that had among its members the self-righteous Pharisee who, in prayer at the temple, boastfully said: “I fast twice a week.”—Luke 18:11, 12.
21. For breaking away from the modern counterpart of unfaithful Israel, what benefits were prophetically promised in Isaiah 58:8 to Christ’s disciples?
21 Similarly, the dedicated, baptized witnesses of Jehovah of today have, for the most part, come out of the sects and denominations of Christendom, the modern counterpart of the Israelite nation of Isaiah’s day and of Christ’s day. As a reward for breaking away from spiritually sick, bedarkened Christendom, the prophetic promise of Isaiah 58:8 has been fulfilled upon them, as stated: “In that case your light would break forth just like the dawn; and speedily would recuperation spring up for you. And before you your righteousness would certainly walk; the very glory of Jehovah would be your rear guard.”
22. When did the promised “recuperation” begin to spring up for the disciples who made the breakaway?
22 Promptly, in the postwar year of 1919 C.E., that prophecy began undergoing fulfillment for the Christian witnesses of Jehovah who then made a complete breakaway from creed-bound, tradition-bound, clergy-ruled Christendom. For these liberated ones the enlightenment on Bible truth and prophecy began breaking forth “just like the dawn.” Their “recuperation” to good spiritual health in relationship with Jehovah God through Christ sprang up with rapid improvement. Like Isaiah at the temple, they have been cleansed to serve as Jehovah’s Witnesses.—Isa. 6:1-10; 43:10-12.
23. What kind of advance guard and “rear guard” have they had, even during World War II?
23 “Righteousness,” not Christendom’s crookedness, has gone ahead of them to lead them in ways right in Jehovah’s eyes. For their protection he has got behind them as a “rear guard” till now. Because of this they have kept under his approval and have been preserved from the extermination with which their enemies threatened them during World War II of 1939-1945.—Matt. 24:9-14.