Speak the Word of God Fearlessly in the Nuclear Age
“Speak the word of God fearlessly.”—PHILIPPIANS 1:14.
1. The Creator of the atom with its nucleus has had what fearlessly spoken during the past 48 years?
THE nuclear age is upon us. The whole world is now menaced with nuclear warfare! The Almighty Creator of the atom with its nucleus well knows that. What is his Word for our day that needs to be preached worldwide? In our time he has had a figurative ‘man clothed with linen, with a secretary’s inkhorn at his side,’ doing a marking work.
2. What marking work has progressed, and for what purpose?
2 This “man” has been marking the foreheads of the people who are crying and sighing over all the detestable things that are being done, particularly in the religious realm of Christendom, which professes to worship God. (Ezekiel, chapter 9) Recalling the course of conduct of Christendom’s clergy during World Wars I and II, these people feel distress at what they have reason to believe those religious leaders would do during a likely nuclear war on a world scale. Expecting better things of so-called Christian leaders, they are deeply disturbed at what the clergy now make allowance for in this highly immoral, violent and religiously divided world. In a system of things that is doomed to early destruction, these righthearted ones are being marked for preservation into a new and righteous system of things.
3. Grief over what is more important than grief over prospective mass extermination, and what has the doing of the marking work called for?
3 No improvement of worldly things is in sight. In the case of so many righthearted people inside and outside of Christendom, what will quiet their fears of being violently exterminated en masse shortly? Well, they may be grieved at the shape of things. But, most importantly, are they grieved because the name of the God of the Holy Bible is involved and is being made a subject of reproach owing to the way those who claim to be his people are carrying on? However, who is the figurative ‘man clothed in linen’ who is marking more and more of these grieved persons, and how is he doing so? This marking work is not appreciated by the clergy of Christendom and has been vigorously opposed by them. It has therefore called for the exercise of great fearlessness for the marking work to be done.
4. The man doing the marking was prefigured by whom, and so what qualifications are called for in those doing the marking at present?
4 Yet it has gone forward with even greater impetus since 1935. It has been done by a class of Christians dedicated to Jehovah God through Jesus Christ, and who were prefigured by the prophet Ezekiel, a priest of ancient Israel. He was the one that had the vision of the ‘man clothed with linen who had the secretary’s inkhorn at his side.’ They are dedicated to the same God as Ezekiel was and so, like him, they are witnesses of Jehovah. The modern-day Ezekiel of 1983 is a priestly class, belonging to spiritual Israel, to which the apostle Peter wrote the words found at 1 Peter 2:9: “But you are ‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for special possession, that you should declare abroad the excellencies’ of the one that called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
5. How many underpriests are there to be under the one whom Jehovah swears into the high priesthood?
5 Hence, we recognize the Ezekiel class of today to be made up of those who serve in a spiritual way as underpriests, under the High Priest, Jesus Christ, whom Jehovah God swore into the priesthood “according to the manner of Melchizedek,” who was king of ancient Salem and “priest of the Most High God.” (Psalm 110:4; Genesis 14:18; Hebrews 5:10; 6:20; 7:10, 11, 15-17) From the first century, in which the apostle Peter wrote his letter, Jehovah God has picked out the members of this “royal priesthood,” who are to number finally 144,000 under the High Priest, Jesus Christ.—Revelation 7:1-8; 14:1-4.
6. How many of that “royal priesthood” are yet in the flesh on earth, and as what figurative person do they serve?
6 Today there is only a small remnant of the members of the “royal priesthood” yet in the flesh on earth, according to the world report from the celebration of the Lord’s Evening Meal on March 29, 1983. These serve together as the figurative linen-clad man, who does the marking of worthy ones in their foreheads.
7. What do those today who were prefigured by the linen-clad man with the inkhorn have to trust Jehovah to do for them?
7 The prophet Ezekiel of old had to muster up great courage in order not to fear the Israelite opposers of his day. But Almighty God made the promise that he would make the face of Ezekiel just as hard as the faces of his antagonists, yes, even harder. So he should not be afraid of his merely human opposers. (Ezekiel 2:4; 3:8; Isaiah 51:12) Likewise, the remnant of spirit-anointed Christians that makes up the class prefigured by the man clothed with linen and with the inkhorn at his side need to trust in the God of Ezekiel to harden their faces to confront unflinchingly the hard-set countenances of opposers inside and outside Christendom.
8. What instructions appropriate for today did Jesus give?
8 Nineteen centuries ago Jehovah’s Chief Messenger, Jesus Christ, sent forth his disciples on an errand of speaking the Word of God fearlessly in their own country. Before dispatching them, he said: “Do not become fearful of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; but rather be in fear of him that can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.” (Matthew 10:28) In addition, in the last book of the Bible he tells the anointed remnant of our own time: “Do not be afraid of the things you are about to suffer. Look! The Devil will keep on throwing some of you into prison that you may be fully put to the test, and that you may have tribulation ten days. Prove yourself faithful even to death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelation 2:10) How encouraging those words are!
9. (a) The imprisonment of so many of Jehovah’s Witnesses today indicates that they are obeying what instructions given above? (b) What opposite effect is shown in Paul’s case?
9 When we call to mind that today there are witnesses of Jehovah in more than 40 lands where their work is banned or under legal restriction—doubtless more Christians now than the number imprisoned in the first and second centuries—Jehovah’s Witnesses of today are not fearful of the things they must suffer, including imprisonment. The imprisonment of Christians can have an effect upon fellow Christians opposite to what the enemy contemplated. The imprisoned apostle Paul wrote from his confinement: “Most of the brothers in the Lord, feeling confidence by reason of my prison bonds, are showing all the more courage to speak the word of God fearlessly.”—Philippians 1:14.
10. (a) Jehovah’s Witnesses today are appointed to speak out a message from what source? (b) What position like that of the apostles 19 centuries ago must they take?
10 Today, as in Paul’s day, it is not a man-made message that the witnesses of Jehovah are fearlessly speaking. It is the timely message drawn from the Holy Bible, the inspired Word of the Most High God, Jehovah. In that Word he tells his dedicated, baptized people that they must be his witnesses, testifying to his Godship and his Kingship. (Isaiah 43:10, 12) Since he tells them to speak forth his infallible Word, what creature, high or low in station, has the right or authority to order or force them to stop speaking it? The position of the Christian apostles of 1,900 years ago must be taken, when they said to officials: “We must obey God as ruler rather than men.”—Acts 5:29.
11. Have men deified themselves by inventing the nuclear bomb, and what about authority on their part to oppose the speaking forth of the Kingdom message?
11 Men have not made gods out of themselves by inventing the nuclear bomb, and they must answer to the Most High God as to how they use it. (Note Psalm 82:6, 7.) By producing the nuclear bomb as a deterrent, the governments seek to perpetuate their domination of the earth, rather than to advance the interests of the Kingdom of God by Jesus Christ. They resent and interfere with the proclaiming of that Kingdom by the true, obedient followers of Jesus Christ today. This nuclear age has not made out of date or impractical Christ’s prophetic words: “These [things] are a beginning of pangs of distress. As for you, look out for yourselves; people will deliver you up to local courts, and you will be beaten in synagogues and be put on the stand before governors and kings for my sake, for a witness to them. Also, in all the nations the good news has to be preached first. But when they are leading you along to deliver you up, do not be anxious beforehand about what to speak; but whatever is given you [to speak] in that hour, speak this, for you are not the ones speaking, but the holy spirit is.”—Mark 13:8-11.
12. Despite violent opposition, what was to be preached first, and of what was this to be a most outstanding sign?
12 World pangs of distress began in 1914. The foretold persecution of the faithful and obedient followers of Jesus Christ followed and continues down to this day. All the evidence indicates that we are living in “the conclusion of the system of things,” yes, nearing its grand climax in this nuclear age. (Matthew 24:3; Mark 13:3, 4) But before the complete end yet comes, “the good news” has to be “preached first.” So this worldwide ‘speaking the Word of God fearlessly’ in behalf of the Kingdom is one of the most outstanding proofs that we are living in “the conclusion of the system of things.”—Matthew 24:14.
Eating God’s Word and Speaking It Forth Worldwide
13. What experience like that described in Revelation chapter 10 did the anointed remnant have after World War I, and after the refreshment was taken, what command was given?
13 John, the last of the surviving disciples chosen by Jesus as an apostle, finished his earthly career near the end of the first century. During this “conclusion of the system of things” since 1914 there has been a remnant of dedicated, baptized Christians anointed with Jehovah’s spirit. This remnant was prefigured by John, the writer of the last book of the Bible canon, Revelation. In the first postwar year of 1919 this remnant had an experience like that which John describes respecting himself in Revelation chapter 10. This experience was to occur near the time when “the mystery of God,” or his “sacred secret,” was to be brought to a finish. (Revelation 10:7, Authorized Version, NW) After they got spiritual refreshment, as it were, by eating the sweet-tasting “little scroll” that was held out to them, those who made up this modern class prefigured by John were, in effect, told: “You must prophesy again with regard to peoples and nations and tongues and many kings.”—Revelation 10:10, 11.
14. By means of whom is the commission to the apostle John on Patmos fulfilled?
14 Whether the apostle John on the island of Patmos was able to fulfill his assignment of service of such a wide scope and at his old age, we have no inspired record. But what about those anointed ones today whom John prefigured? This class is what fulfills his prophetic status and sees the commission to him carried out in full. The expression, “You must prophesy again,” indicates that the free carrying out of his witness work was being interfered with by his exile on Patmos. It is evident that what was said to him there was really meant for his modern counterpart today. That being the case, we are obliged to ask: In how many lands and tongues are Jehovah’s Witnesses speaking the Word of God fearlessly as they endeavor to preach “this good news of the kingdom . . . in all the inhabited earth for a witness”?—Matthew 24:14.
15. To what extent by now is the preaching being done?
15 The 1983 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses reports 205 lands, with Bible literature being published in some 190 languages. Those lands include people black, white, yellow, red and brown, also of various tribes, clans and sects along with dialects. Since World War I the number of “kings” on thrones has been greatly reduced, but there are many other types of political rulers now in office. Regardless of their official designation or their political cast, the message of Jehovah’s Witnesses today involves and applies to all of them. The banning of Jehovah’s Witnesses in so many lands gives proof of this fact.
16. So what proclamation has gone forward irresistibly, in spite of the religious prayers of world leaders for what?
16 So in spite of the League of Nations and its successor, the United Nations, which were set up as the means for advancing and maintaining a united world, the fearless proclamation of the Kingdom of God by Christ as the only hope for mankind has gone forward irresistibly. Such “good news of the kingdom” has not seemed “good” to world leaders, as it differs so much from what they have thought to be good, yes, the best, for afflicted humankind. They feel that they themselves can take care of earthly affairs as their own business. If they feel the need of superhuman help, it is really to “the god of this world” that their religious prayers have gone and no higher. The divine Originator of “this good news of the kingdom” is not in favor of “this world,” of which Satan the Devil is the god.—2 Corinthians 4:4, AV.
17. (a) Why has the written Word of God failed to be stamped out by opposers? (b) By means of whom has that Word been made vocal since 1919?
17 The prophetic Bible boldly declares that the word of God is to time indefinite and that it will endure forever. (1 Peter 1:23-25) To this day those statements have not been disproved. The Bible, God’s inspired written Word, has not been blotted out, despite all human efforts to destroy it by religious bans and bonfires. Correspondingly, the preaching of that written Word of God needed someone to make it vocal and hearable. The fearless speaking of that Word of God has gone doggedly onward by Jehovah’s Witnesses since the postwar year of 1919 by an increasing number of mouths, despite the attempts of the infuriated opposers to stifle the fearless speakers.
18. Till when will Jehovah continue to harden the foreheads of such ones?
18 Can there be any room for doubt that the Heavenly Giver of that Word will continue to harden diamondlike the foreheads of his modern-day Ezekiel class and their courageous companions to face the hardheaded opposers till destruction suppresses their opposition? None at all! He has made the way of his witnesses successful until now. He will keep on making their way prosperous until the ‘prophesying again regarding peoples and nations and tongues and kings’ has been fearlessly completed. This he can be expected to do, to his own credit and to the vindication of his universal sovereignty.
Can You Recall?
□ What was prefigured for our day by the ‘man clothed with linen who had a secretary’s inkhorn,’ and what work is he now doing?
□ Why is fearlessness called for on the part of Jehovah’s Witnesses?
□ When the apostle John ate a “little scroll,” what was he then to do, and what parallels this in modern times?
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In this nuclear age a figurative man in linen is carrying on a fearless work. Are you involved in that work?
[Picture on page 19]
As John received a symbolic scroll and a command to “prophesy again,” so Christians today fearlessly declare God’s message