Trust in Jehovah—Not in “a Conspiracy!”
1. What was the state of Jehovah’s visible organization during World War I?
DURING World War I, the ranks of Jehovah’s people had been considerably reduced by outright apostasies. Persecution incited by religious enemies also raged against them. Their Brooklyn, New York, headquarters was shut down. Furthermore, they were without the assistance of the Society’s president, the secretary-treasurer, the office manager, an editorial staff writer, and four other representatives of the Society—all of whom were imprisoned in the federal penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia. It appeared as if the end had come for the spirit-begotten Bible Students and that their heavenly glorification was at hand. But not so!
2. What prophecy of Isaiah had a modern application in 1919?
2 In fact, in the spring of 1919 the questions posed by the prophet Isaiah could be voiced again in a modern application of Isaiah 66:6-8: “There is a sound of uproar out of the city, a sound out of the temple! It is the sound of Jehovah repaying what is deserved to his enemies. Before she began to come into labor pains she gave birth. Before birth pangs could come to her, she even gave deliverance to a male child. Who has heard of a thing like this? Who has seen things like these? Will a land [condition of glorious spiritual prosperity] be brought forth with labor pains in one day? Or will a nation be born at one time? For Zion has come into labor pains as well as given birth to her sons.”
3. What evidence was there in 1919 that Zion had brought forth her sons and that a new “nation” had been born “at one time”?
3 As if resurrected from the dead, the International Bible Students held their first postwar convention at Cedar Point, Ohio, on September 1-8, 1919. The Society’s president, the secretary-treasurer, the office manager, and the other former prisoners, exonerated from all charges, were present for this gladsome occasion. To the joy of the conventioners, President Rutherford announced the publication of a new magazine, The Golden Age—known today as Awake! Also, a baptism of over 200 newly dedicated persons was performed. Jehovah’s theocratic organization brought forth her sons to an active life in the postwar era. That called for new, yes, daring, pioneering procedures on the part of the “nation” born, as it were, at one stroke and settled down on “a land” brought forth at once.
4. (a) What effect was all of this to have on “Babylon the Great”? (b) Exposure of the real status of “Babylon the Great” with superhuman heavenly powers is the precursor of what?
4 The situation was a challenging one. It caught “Babylon the Great,” the world empire of false religion, by surprise. Her membership, particularly Christendom, became highly disturbed. She felt that her peace was being trespassed upon. Her security as an incontestable claimant to the field of religious activity was now put in jeopardy. She was going to be exposed as to her real relationship with superhuman heavenly powers, not with the God of the Holy Bible, but with “the god of this system of things”—Satan, the promoter of the Antichrist foretold in Bible prophecy. (2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 John 2:18) This exposure was merely the precursor of her death throes. Then the Supreme Judge of the universe will take her directly in hand and execute her, granting her no escape from the now highly incensed former lovers of hers, her political paramours.
5. (a) Why will Christendom be caught off guard, and how is she viewed by the God of the Bible? (b) What does “Babylon the Great” not see?
5 Even Christendom, which possesses the Bible that foretells all of this, will be caught off guard. She will trust in the coming cry of “peace and security” as devised by the nations in which she has carried on her religious formalism. At the same time, her churches pass the collection plate, enriching themselves by the contributions deposited therein. To the God of the Holy Scriptures, however, she is “poor and blind and naked.” She does not trust in Jehovah, nor does she avail herself of the real spiritual values that he provides. (Revelation 3:17, 18) She does not see the handwriting on the wall. What do we mean by this?
Handwriting on the Wall Appears
6. What ancient world power now comes to mind, and how were Jehovah’s typical people then faring?
6 To understand, we must look back at the last hours of the third world power of Bible history, Babylon, on the banks of the Euphrates River. Belshazzar was the last ruler over Babylon, which included the site of the Tower of Babel, where almighty God confused the one language of the builders, scattering them. (Genesis 11:1-9) At the time of Babylon’s last hours, Jehovah’s typical people, the Jews, were captive exiles in that pagan land. But their 70 years of captivity were about to come to a close.
7. (a) Why did King Belshazzar hold a feast for his grandees with full confidence? (b) What took place during the feast, and with what effect on the king?
7 The united Medes and Persians, who were to make up the fourth world power of Bible history, came against the highly fortified, seemingly impregnable, walled city of Babylon. The Euphrates River flowed through the midst of the city, with quays along its banks onto which two-leaved copper doors of the city walls opened. With full confidence in the security of the city, King Belshazzar held “a big feast for a thousand of his grandees”—a feast that proved to be his last one. Suddenly, within Belshazzar’s line of vision, there appeared at the wall a moving hand. And it wrote upon the wall the fateful words “MENE, MENE, TEKEL and PARSIN.” (Daniel 5:1, 5, 25) That was on the night of October 5, 539 B.C.E. The words had a stunning impact. King Belshazzar shook with fear. Wait now! Get the wise men—the magicians and astrologers who had a reputation for being able to explain signs and omens. But the deciphering of the miraculous words, which they were not even able to read, was beyond them. What now was to be done?
8, 9. (a) As a last resort, what course of action was recommended to the king? (b) How did Daniel interpret the handwriting on the wall? (c) Why did King Belshazzar’s big feast result in such a dire prophecy?
8 Send for a Jew. What? A Jew? Yes, one of those princes and nobles who had been taken away from Jerusalem in his native land and brought by Emperor Nebuchadnezzar to Babylon to be trained for governmental service. Well, as a last resort, that was the best thing that could be done. Daniel was recommended by the queen mother as being a man of wisdom—a man who was able to decipher things and to interpret them. (Daniel 5:10-12) We can feel the hush that permeated the banqueting room as Daniel, in compliance with the request of King Belshazzar, proceeded to interpret those mystifying words to the emperor of the third world power of Bible history and his grandees.
9 Daniel proceeds to say: “Consequently from before him there was being sent the back of a hand, and this very writing was inscribed. And this is the writing that was inscribed: MENE, MENE, TEKEL and PARSIN. This is the interpretation of the word: MENE, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and has finished it. TEKEL, you have been weighed in the balances and have been found deficient. PERES,* your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and the Persians.” (Daniel 5:24-28) King Belshazzar and his grandees and their women companions had been showing deliberate, profane contempt for the worship of Daniel’s God. How? By drinking wine from the gold vessels that had been taken from the temple of Jehovah in Jerusalem at the time of the destruction of that holy city in the year 607 B.C.E. That was like adding contemptuous insult to injury.—Daniel 5:3, 4, 23.
The Foretold Cyrus Takes Over
10, 11. (a) Whom had Jehovah foretold to be the conqueror of Babylon, and how did Isaiah describe the coming conquest? (b) How did Jehovah fulfill this prophecy and bring about condign punishment for King Belshazzar and his grandees?
10 At Isaiah 45:1-3 the Most High God had foretold: “This is what Jehovah has said to his anointed one, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have taken hold of, to subdue before him nations, so that I may ungird even the hips of kings; to open before him the two-leaved doors, so that even the gates will not be shut: ‘Before you I myself shall go, and the swells of land I shall straighten out. The copper doors I shall break in pieces, and the iron bars I shall cut down. And I will give you the treasures in the darkness and the hidden treasures in the concealment places, in order that you may know that I am Jehovah, the One calling you by your name.’”
11 To fulfill this prophecy, Jehovah put it into the mind of Cyrus the Persian to turn aside the waters of the Euphrates River and divert them into a local lake. Then, after the riverbed had been emptied, under cover of night, Cyrus’ troops marched down the bed of the river and right on into the middle of the city. Since the two-leaved doors along the waterfront had been left open, they climbed up the riverbank and entered into the banqueting chamber, overpowering the guards. So the feast of King Belshazzar came to a tragic end as a condign punishment for him and his grandees—because of their holding up “the Lord of the heavens” to shame, contempt, and indignity by misuse of the temple vessels stolen from Jehovah’s sacred dwelling place in Jerusalem.
12. (a) Since Isaiah had foretold that Cyrus would conquer Babylon, why does Daniel attribute Babylon’s capture to Darius the Mede? (b) Whom did Darius and his associate, Cyrus the Persian, prefigure?
12 The last verse 31 of Daniel chapter 5 says that after the putting of King Belshazzar to death, Darius the Mede “received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old.” Since Darius was the elder of Cyrus the Persian, Daniel attributed the capture of Babylon to this Median king. He reigned from 539 to 537 B.C.E. as the royal ruler over the Medo-Persian empire. He well pictures Jehovah God. Darius’ associate, Cyrus the Persian, prefigured Jesus Christ, who will be most prominently used by Jehovah to overthrow and destroy “Babylon the Great,” the world empire of false religion.
13, 14. What did Daniel doubtless point out to Cyrus the Persian, and how does the postexilic book of Ezra open up?
13 On the accession of Cyrus to the throne over Medo-Persia in 537 B.C.E., doubtless the prophet Daniel pointed out to him Jehovah’s prophecy concerning him as found at Isaiah 45. The postexilic book of Ezra opens up with these words:
14 “And in the first year of Cyrus the king of Persia, that Jehovah’s word from the mouth of Jeremiah [regarding the exile’s being 70 years in length (Jeremiah 25:12; 29:10, 14)] might be accomplished, Jehovah roused the spirit of Cyrus the king of Persia so that he caused a cry to pass through all his realm, and also in writing, saying: ‘This is what Cyrus the king of Persia has said, “All the kingdoms of the earth Jehovah the God of the heavens has given me, and he himself has commissioned me to build him a house in Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever there is among you of all his people, may his God prove to be with him. So let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of Jehovah the God of Israel—he is the true God—which was in Jerusalem.”’”—Ezra 1:1-3.
The Greater Cyrus Conquers “Babylon the Great”
15. (a) When did the antitypical Cyrus begin to reign? (b) What immovable position do Jehovah’s Witnesses take regarding a conspiracy with the United Nations, and why?
15 The present-day antitypical Cyrus the Great began to reign in 1914 at the end of “the appointed times of the nations,” as foretold by Jesus himself at Luke 21:24. In total disregard of this world-important fact, the nations inside the United Nations settled upon the year 1986 as their International Year of Peace. But Jehovah’s Witnesses are by no means caught off guard in this connection. When the foretold proclamation of “peace and security” is finally made, they will not join political adherents and friendly associates of “Babylon the Great” in the feasting over such a phenomenal feat at this late date in the history of the worldly nations. They advocate no conspiracy with the United Nations or other peace media. (Isaiah 8:12) As a countermeasure, they say in the words of Isaiah 8:20: “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.” (New International Version) And giving the reason for their immovable position, they say: “For God is with us!” (Isaiah 8:10) Bluntly, that means that Jehovah God is taking no part in the political measures adopted by the nations in behalf of “peace and security” but, rather, is unequivocally against them.
16. How will the prophetic word at Revelation 17:16, 17 be vindicated to the full, and with what effect on Jehovah’s people?
16 By adroit maneuvering, Jehovah, by means of his Greater Cyrus, will put it into the heart and mind of the political leaders of the world to turn against “Babylon the Great,” the world empire of false religion. As with the horns of a vicious wild beast, they will gore her to death. The prophetic word at Revelation 17 will be vindicated to the full, and over this Jehovah’s Witnesses on earth will jubilate.—Revelation 17:16, 17; 19:1-3.
Keeping Up Our Proper Association With Jehovah
17. Though Jehovah’s Witnesses are no part of “Babylon the Great,” what will the world’s rulers do?
17 Then, although Jehovah’s Witnesses are no part of “Babylon the Great” but are her avowed exposers, and although they have taken no part in the political affairs of this world, those irreligious political elements will turn against the surviving Witnesses. Determined to be dictators with totalitarian control over all segments of human society on earth, they will make a full-scale lunge at the integrity-keeping Witnesses of the Supreme One, who is the Source of all righteous government.
18. What awe-inspiring feat will Jehovah perform, eclipsing the Flood of Noah’s day?
18 Here now is where the Almighty Sovereign of heaven and earth must step in and must make those destroyers of “Babylon the Great” know and understand that the One of whom there have been 20th-century Witnesses is a real God, an almighty God—a God entitled to wholehearted, undivided worship by creatures down here on his footstool, the earth. He will do this in an awe-inspiring manner that will simply make the lower jaw of the mouths of his observing Witnesses on the sidelines drop for sheer amazement. He will perform his unprecedented, glorious maneuvers of warfare to divine victory. (Revelation 16:14, 16; 19:19-21) That will spell the end of this wicked, Devil-controlled system of things with a flourish that will outdo the world-destroying Flood of Noah’s day.
19. What witnesses will Jehovah have as to his vindicating of himself as the Universal Sovereign, and what will this demonstrate?
19 Just as Jehovah had witnesses to testify to the end of the old world in a Flood that drowned all humankind outside the ark, he will, on a far grander scale, have witnesses right down here on earth regarding his unrepeatable act of vindicating himself as the Universal Sovereign. (2 Peter 3:6, 7, 13, 14) These will be those who trust in him for peace and security amid this doomed world. Happy will you be at being counted among those miraculously favored Witnesses. Your peace and security will have been demonstrated as coming from Jehovah God and not from any confederacy, or conspiracy, with political powers of this Devil-controlled system of things.
20. How will Jehovah emerge, and what are we determined to do?
20 Jehovah God will emerge gloriously as the rightful One to be worshiped and served as the supreme Divine Being—the God of gods, the exclusive One to whom the words of the inspired psalmist were directed: “Even from time indefinite to time indefinite you are God.” (Psalm 90:2) With ever-growing appreciation, let us keep up our trust in Jehovah God and our association with him through the Greater Cyrus, Jesus Christ.
“Parsin” is the plural number of the word “Peres” and means “divisions.”
Do You Recall?
□ What does “Babylon the Great” not see?
□ What does the tragic outcome of Belshazzar’s feast prefigure?
□ Who will conquer “Babylon the Great”?
□ What stand do Jehovah’s Witnesses take regarding a conspiracy with the United Nations?
□ Why will all who put their trust in Jehovah for peace and security be happy?
[Picture on page 25]
Daniel interprets the mysterious writing as a message of doom for the Babylonian empire