How Majestic Is Jehovah’s Name!
1. Why did Jehovah have the land ‘vomit out’ the Canaanites?
AT LAST, in 1473 B.C.E., Israel stood in the land of promise. But some years of theocratic warfare lay ahead, for they must purge the land of its depraved inhabitants. Were those Canaanites really that bad? Indeed they were! Their idolatry and immoral way of life were detestable in Jehovah’s sight and a danger to God’s people. Hence, God had Moses announce that He would use His holy nation, Israel, as His executioner. Thus, Jehovah would have the land ‛vomit out’ those unclean nations.—Leviticus 18:1-30; Deuteronomy 12:29-32.
2. What “fruits” have the world’s religious systems been bringing forth?
2 Today, also, we might ask the question, Is this world so bad as to deserve destruction? Well, what of the world’s religious systems? Sadly, these fail to honor the Creator, Jehovah God. People in Christendom have left him, “the source of living water, in order to hew out for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that cannot contain the water.” (Jeremiah 2:13) Their sectarian beliefs contain no “water” of truth. They have shown themselves to be part of the world by supporting its wars and politics and by countenancing its sexual mores. As Jesus said, they are to be recognized “by their fruits.”—Matthew 7:16, 17; compare Galatians 6:7, 8.
3. What has been the result of the world’s violating God’s law?
3 What of the world’s morals? In recent years, there has been global escalation of abortions, teenage pregnancies, and broken families, notably in so-called Christian lands. In some countries, as many as 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce. The “sexual revolution” of the 1960’s has had other disastrous consequences. One of these was cited in The New York Times of June 13, 1986, under the front-page headline: “TENFOLD INCREASE IN AIDS DEATH TOLL IS EXPECTED BY ’91.” The article indicated that by 1991, the number of AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) patients in the United States alone could be more than 100,000, with a yearly medical cost of up to 16 billion dollars. This fatal disease is transmitted mainly by homosexual activity, drug abuse, and blood transfusions—all of which are in violation of God’s law.—1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; Galatians 5:19-21; Acts 15:19, 20.
4. (a) How does our warfare differ from that of Israel in Joshua’s day? (b) To what extent should we associate with worldly people, and why?
4 In Joshua’s day, Jehovah sent His holy nation to cleanse the Promised Land through literal warfare. Today, our warfare is spiritual. (2 Corinthians 10:3, 4) We Witnesses do not take violent action to remove those who ignore God’s Word. Jehovah will remove them in his own due time and in his own way. (Deuteronomy 32:41, 43) We do not take unprincipled people into our intimate association, though we can show genuine love by making known to them the good news of the Kingdom. (1 Corinthians 15:33) We can study God’s Word with them and encourage them to ‘repent, and turn around, so as to get their sins blotted out.’—Acts 3:19; Matthew 21:31, 32; Luke 5:27-32.
Rahab and Her Household
5, 6. (a) Why did the spies go to Jericho and to Rahab’s house? (b) Today, how has Jehovah often answered cries for help? (c) How did Rahab show herself to be “a friend of peace”?
5 Even before Israel crossed the Jordan River, Jehovah directed attention to the city of Jericho. Joshua dispatched two spies, representing all Israel, and told them: “Go, take a look at the land and Jericho.” Why spy on Jericho? Though the city was small and was no match for the army of Israel, it commanded the approaches to Canaan. As things worked out, the presence there of the spies afforded some opportunity for those in Jericho to identify themselves clearly as being for or against Jehovah. “So [the spies] went and came to the house of a prostitute woman whose name was Rahab, and they took up lodging there.” (Joshua 2:1-7) No doubt divine guidance led those spies to Rahab’s house, just as angelic guidance today often leads Jehovah’s Witnesses to persons praying for spiritual help! “The eyes of Jehovah are toward the righteous ones, and his ears are toward their cry for help.”—Psalm 34:15; see also 2 Chronicles 16:9.
6 Why would those spies enter the house of a prostitute? Not for immoral purposes but likely to mislead Canaanite observers. Rahab’s words to the spies indicated that she had no immoral interest in them. Knowing that they were servants of Jehovah, she could tell them of her keen desire to become a worshiper of Jehovah. She even risked her life by hiding them on her roof. She was like the “sheep” of Jesus’ parable, who show kindness to the Lord’s “brothers.” (Matthew 25:31-46) While acting discreetly, Jehovah’s Witnesses today do not hesitate to visit and study the Bible with such interested ‘friends of peace.’—Luke 10:5-7.
7. (a) How did Rahab express her faith in Jehovah? (b) What attitude should new ones show today, and how should they act?
7 Rahab had learned of the mighty acts of Jehovah. To the concealed spies she could express faith, saying: “I do know that Jehovah will certainly give you the land, and that the fright of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have become disheartened because of you.” After telling of the report she had heard about Jehovah’s mighty acts, Rahab continued: “Jehovah your God is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. And now, please, swear to me by Jehovah that, because I have exercised loving-kindness toward you, you also will certainly exercise loving-kindness toward the household of my father, and you must give me a trustworthy sign.” (Joshua 2:9-13) Like Rahab, new ones learning God’s truth today need no longer feel afraid because of the judgment due to be executed in “the day of Jehovah.” (Zephaniah 1:14-18) Rather, they turn from worldly ways and seek the help of Jehovah’s Witnesses toward gaining salvation.—Psalm 3:6-8; Proverbs 18:10.
8. (a) What today corresponds to Rahab’s displaying a “cord of scarlet thread” in her window? (b) Why was Rahab declared righteous, and with what result?
8 The sign that the spies gave Rahab was in the form of a “cord of scarlet thread” that she was to tie in the window by which the spies made their escape. (Joshua 2:17-21) Because of Rahab’s displaying this sign, her house would be spared when Jericho was destroyed. Similarly today, those who display faith like Rahab’s are identified for deliverance as dedicated, baptized worshipers of Jehovah. Revelation 7:9, 10, 14 describes them as “a great crowd” who have “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” They exercise faith in Jesus’ sacrificial blood and back this up with Christian works. (Romans 10:9, 10) We read at James 2:24, 25: “You see that a man is to be declared righteous by works, and not by faith alone. In the same manner was not also Rahab the harlot declared righteous by works, after she had received the messengers hospitably and sent them out by another way?”
9. (a) Of what did Rahab’s “works” consist? (b) What has resulted from fearless witnessing today?
9 Rahab’s “works” included protecting the two spies and gathering others to her house for salvation. In the same way, the “great crowd” of modern times busy themselves in loyal support of the anointed “faithful and discreet slave” as this group provides spiritual “food at the proper time” and supervises the global Kingdom-preaching activity. (Matthew 24:45-47) For her part, Rahab was fearless in witnessing to her father’s household—an activity that was fraught with danger, for she could have been betrayed. (Compare Matthew 10:32-36.) Similarly, in many lands where there is opposition today, Jehovah’s Witnesses must be fearless in giving the witness. This has resulted in a grand ingathering, and often entire families have come out of Babylon the Great to take their stand for the pure worship of Jehovah.—Psalm 73:28; 107:21, 22.
Jericho—Then and Now
10. What special attention was to be given to Jericho?
10 Let us look at these dramatic events from a different angle. “Jericho was tightly shut up because of the sons of Israel, no one going out and no one entering.” This was the first Canaanite city to come under Jehovah’s sword of execution. For that reason, as firstfruits devoted to God, it was to receive special attention. Joshua explained: “The city must become a thing devoted to destruction; it with everything that is in it belongs to Jehovah.”—Joshua 6:1, 17; compare Exodus 22:29; Leviticus 27:26.
11. (a) What striking parallel do we note today? (b) Cite an example of the “fright” of Babylon the Great.
11 How well this corresponds to Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion that has reached the zenith of its iniquity in this bloodstained 20th century! It has tried to shut its gates against intrusion by Jehovah’s Witnesses. In Rahab’s words, “the fright” of God’s people has fallen upon it. For example, the Italian newspaper La Repubblica of November 12, 1985, carried the headline “CRY OF ALARM FROM THE CHURCH AGAINST JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES.” The article reported on a meeting, shared in by a Roman Catholic cardinal, that was convened in Bologna to counteract the “menace” of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The pope sent a telegram of encouragement and support. The cry was sounded forth: “Already they are swarming all over the world,” and it was declared that “now the church will mobilize itself” to meet this “danger.” But will it prevail?—Jeremiah 1:17-19.
12. (a) How does Babylon the Great’s idea of “god” contrast with the truth? (b) Why will Jehovah fight for his witnesses?
12 Babylon the Great embraces a confusing multitude of gods, ranging from Christendom’s mystic Trinity to the millions of gods of Eastern religions. Before commissioning Joshua, Moses had declared: “Listen, O Israel: Jehovah our God is one Jehovah.” Today, Jehovah’s Witnesses stand alone in exalting this “one God and Father.” (Deuteronomy 6:4; Ephesians 4:6) Jehovah will fight for us as he did in the days of Joshua and other loyal leaders in Israel.—2 Chronicles 20:15, 17; 32:7, 8; Isaiah 54:17.
Execution of Judgment
13. (a) What happenings led up to the siege of Jericho? (b) What parallels do we note today?
13 Joshua made thorough preparation for Jericho’s siege. The men who had grown up in the wilderness were circumcised. This symbolized their putting away everything that might hinder wholehearted devotion to Jehovah. (Deuteronomy 10:16; 30:5, 6) Observance of the Passover was resumed. The people began to be nourished by the produce of the land as the miraculously provided manna ceased. Moreover, the “prince of the army of Jehovah,” no doubt the prehuman Logos, appeared to Joshua, reassuring him. And Joshua humbly acknowledged that One’s presence. In all of this, we can note parallels in the experience of the modern-day witnesses of Jehovah as they have devoted themselves to the work at hand. Our spiritual food has become more varied and richer in content as “the faithful and discreet slave” has moved progressively forward under the leadership of the Lord Jesus Christ.—Joshua 5:1-15.
14. What strange tactics does Jehovah order for the siege of Jericho?
14 Look now at the scene of battle. Jehovah has called for strange tactics indeed! Once each day for six days, priests of Israel march around Jericho, carrying the Ark, which represents the presence of Jehovah. They are preceded by seven priests blowing on rams’ horns, with soldiers of Israel marching ahead of and behind them. But on the seventh day they get up ‘early, as soon as the dawn ascends,’ and march around the city seven times. How those Jerichoites must shudder!—Joshua 6:2-15.
15. What parallel is seen in the activity of Jehovah’s Witnesses today?
15 We find a remarkable parallel to this in what Jehovah’s Witnesses are doing today earth wide. Recently, there has been a notable expansion of our Kingdom activity. In the five years up to 1985, pioneer ranks increased 134 percent. The army of pioneers and other faithful Kingdom publishers get up “early,” often in a literal sense, and share zealously in proclaiming Jehovah’s judgments. To the leaders of Christendom’s religions, these Witnesses appear to be “a people numerous and mighty.” The clergy are in “severe pains” as they note how the proclamation of the truth is causing many honest ones to leave them and take their stand for Jehovah.—Joel 2:1-3, 6.
16. (a) What miracles mark the fall of Jericho? (b) How is Rahab’s faith rewarded?
16 At last Joshua commands the people: “Shout; for Jehovah has given you the city.” A great war cry thunders forth. The earth shakes and—miracle of miracles—Jericho’s walls fall down flat. The Israelites obediently rush forward to destroy every living thing in the city. They burn it with fire. But look! One small section of the outer wall is still standing, and in its window is a scarlet cord. Rahab and her father’s family are led out unharmed. In time, Rahab’s faith is further rewarded in that she becomes wife to the Israelite Salmon and an ancestress of Jesus Christ.—Joshua 6:16-26; Matthew 1:5.
17. What do these miracles foreshadow?
17 “So Jehovah proved to be with Joshua, and his fame came to be in all the earth.” In like manner, Jehovah’s majestic name will be vindicated when Babylon the Great is devastated and stripped of her wealth and glory at the onset of the “great tribulation.”—Joshua 6:27; Revelation 17:16; 18:9, 10, 15-17; Matthew 24:21, 22.
An Apostate Fails
18. (a) Why did ‘the heart of the people begin to melt’? (b) How did Joshua react to that crisis?
18 Shortly after the resounding victory at Jericho, an amazing thing happened. The attack force that Joshua sent to strike down the neighboring city of Ai was routed! “Consequently the heart of the people began to melt and became as water.” The distraught Joshua cried out in prayer: “Alas, Sovereign Lord Jehovah, . . . what will you do for your great name?”—Joshua 7:2-9.
19, 20. (a) How did Jehovah dispose of Achan’s folly, and with what assurance to Joshua? (b) What modern-day parallel may be noted?
19 Jehovah then revealed to Joshua that “a disgraceful folly” had been committed in Israel. Achan of the tribe of Judah was identified as the offender. From the spoil of Jericho he had stolen a “good-looking” Babylonian garment, as well as gold and silver. Jehovah ‘brought ostracism’ on Achan, and he and his family were pelted with stones. Then they and their possessions were burned with fire. As a lasting testimony to that execution of Jehovah’s judgment, a big pile of stones was raised up over Achan himself, and the location was called “Low Plain of Achor,” which name means “Ostracism; Trouble.” Again, Jehovah said to Joshua: “Do not be afraid or be terrified.” Jehovah’s name was exalted in that Joshua never again failed in battle.—Joshua 7:10–8:1.
20 Is there a modern-day parallel to Achan’s sin? Yes, there is. The apostle Paul warned of “oppressive wolves” who would ignore theocratic order and pursue their own selfish way. Since 1919, from time to time such greedy ones have appeared among God’s people. For a recent example, during the mid-1970’s some prominent elders became disgruntled. It was below their “dignity” to witness from house to house, proclaiming the Kingdom message after the pattern of Jesus’ apostles. (Acts 5:42; 20:20, 21, 29, 30) It looked good to them to go back to Babylonish teachings. Slyly they tried to raise doubts about “the last days” and to slow down the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses. (2 Peter 3:3, 4) Finally, they had to be disfellowshipped.—2 John 10, 11; compare Philippians 1:15-17; Hebrews 6:4-8.
21. (a) What appears to have been one reason for a slowdown in the late 1970’s? (b) What may have helped in ‘speeding up’ the work since that time?
21 The Watchtower of July 15, 1979, came out forthrightly in showing the Scriptural basis for our house-to-house ministry and the importance thereof. Loyal Witnesses moved forward vigorously into the 1980’s! Likely the presence of a small number of apostates had contributed to the slowing down of Jehovah’s work during the last half of the 1970’s—when the average yearly increase in the active ranks of Jehovah’s Witnesses fell to less than 1 percent. However, the annual increase in the last five years has averaged more than 6 percent. Kingdom publishers reached a worldwide peak of 3,024,131 in 1985, compared with 2,179,256 in 1975. Jehovah continues to ‛speed up’ his work!—Isaiah 54:2, 3; 60:22.
22. As we look further into the book of Joshua, what must we appreciate about Jehovah’s name?
22 Truly, Jehovah’s name has become majestic in all the earth! But he ‘tells’ us much more through the book of Joshua, as we shall now see.—Isaiah 42:8, 9.
In the Book of Joshua—
◻ What pattern do we find of the world today?
◻ What do we learn from the account about Rahab?
◻ What do we find that parallels our stepped-up activity?
◻ What is foreshadowed by the fall of Jericho?
◻ What is indicated by the handling of Achan’s sin?