God’s Judgments Must Be Declared
“You must rise up and speak to them everything that I myself command you. Do not be struck with any terror because of them.”—JEREMIAH 1:17.
1. How did Jehovah’s Witnesses ‘let their light shine’ in Nazi Germany?
“THE persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Holocaust Kingdom [Nazi Germany] has taken its place among other times of trial in their history.” (Holocaust Studies Annual, Volume II—The Churches’ Response to the Holocaust) The South African Daily News of July 15, 1939, also stated about the German Witnesses: “Like a light that never flickers, this little body of Christian men and women stand steadfast in their faith, a thorn in the side of the Monarch of Munich [Adolf Hitler] and a living testimony to his mortality.” These words remind us that Jesus said his followers would be “the light of the world” and would have to let their light shine before the world, regardless of the cost.—Matthew 5:11, 12, 14-16.
2, 3. What example of fearless preaching took place in Sri Lanka?
2 Another report, from terrorist-torn Sri Lanka, tells of a young Tamil Witness, David Gunaratnam, who, in true Jeremiah style, fearlessly preached to the military authorities. He had been rounded up with other young men for questioning. The report states: “The officers and the men were most impressed by the man’s erudition, and more than that, by his obvious sincerity, particularly when he said, ‘And if I were to meet any so-called terrorists, I would preach this same thing to them too.’”
3 That same night he was abducted from his home by terrorists, who accused him of collaborating with the army. He insisted on his neutrality and said that he was only preaching the message of God’s Kingdom. “I am doing God’s work and shall continue to do it. I preach indiscriminately to anyone who will listen.” This bold Witness was shot and killed by the terrorists, leaving behind a young widow and a baby boy.—Compare Acts 7:51-60.
4. What clergy-approved persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses took place in a Latin American country?
4 From a Latin American country, where the persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses has been approved and condoned by some Catholic and Presbyterian clergy, comes this report: “There were five Jehovah’s Witnesses in the garrison . . . They were frequently beaten and placed in isolation without food. The political officer in charge of indoctrination in our unit punished them because they preached to the other soldiers. He said that of all the religious dissidents, the Jehovah’s Witnesses were the most dangerous.”
Motivation and Reaction
5. As in Jeremiah’s case, what is often behind the persecution of the Witnesses?
5 Yes, just as Jeremiah was persecuted by the religious and political rulers of his day, so Jehovah’s Witnesses face opposition worldwide from these same elements. What motivates these actions? Even though the Witnesses are the most peaceable and law-abiding segment of any community, their enemies consider the Word of God dangerous, for they resent and reject its message about the Kingdom of God. Their uncompromising preaching and principles expose the selfishness and duplicity of the political, commercial, and religious elements of Satan’s system.—John 15:18, 19; 1 John 5:19.
6. How have Jehovah’s Witnesses reacted to persecution?
6 Yet, in spite of imprisonment, beatings, and even death, Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide have reacted like Jeremiah of old. While showing love and tact, they continue to preach God’s unpopular judgments to the nations. (2 Timothy 2:23-26) They know they must obey God as Ruler rather than men. (Acts 4:19, 20; 5:29) They are conscious of Paul’s counsel to the Hebrew Christians, namely, to endure in doing God’s will. Then they will see the fulfillment of the promise, everlasting life. So, like Paul and Jeremiah, we should be able to say: “Now we are not the sort that shrink back to destruction, but the sort that have faith to the preserving alive of the soul.”—Hebrews 10:35-39.
The Modern Jeremiah Exposes Christendom
7. How have the Witnesses in the 20th century followed the example of Jehovah’s faithful prophets sent to Israel and Judah?
7 Just as Jehovah kept sending his prophets to Israel and Judah, he has sent his witnesses to hammer away at the message of his coming judgment. (Jeremiah 7:25, 26; 25:4, 8, 9) Especially since the spiritually invigorating year 1919, the anointed remnant of Christ’s brothers fearlessly presented God’s judgments, powerful messages of calamity, to Christendom. (Compare Jeremiah 11:9-13.) In that year the magazine The Golden Age was launched. Over the years and with its changed titles, Consolation (1937) and Awake! (1946), it has served to expose Christendom’s religious lies and its pseudo-Christianity.
8, 9. (a) Why were the churches denounced in 1922? (b) What calamity was predicted for them?
8 For example, the Golden Age of October 11, 1922, denounced false religion in these terms: “All efforts of the denominational church organizations, their clergy, their leaders and their allies, to save and re-establish the order of things in the earth . . . must of necessity fail, because they do not constitute any part of the kingdom of Messiah. That on the contrary, during the World War [I] the clergy of these various church denominations were disloyal to the Lord Jesus Christ in this, that they wrongfully united with big business and big politicians to further the World War.”
9 The denunciation continued: “They further repudiated the Lord and his kingdom and showed their disloyalty by voluntarily uniting themselves with Satan’s organization and boldly announcing to the world that the League of Nations is the political expression of God’s kingdom on earth.” Finally came the message of “calamity,” or judgment: “There is now impending and about to fall upon the nations of the earth, according to the words of Christ Jesus, a great time of ‘tribulation such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor shall ever be again.’”
10. What denouncement was made in 1926?
10 The Jeremiah role was expanded through the use of other publications, such as the Watchtower magazine, booklets, and books. For example, in 1926 the book Deliverance included a powerful exposé of Christendom’s misleading teachings. On page 203 it states: “False doctrines were freely introduced [into apostate Christendom] and substituted for the truth. Amongst these were and are the doctrines of the trinity, immortality of all souls, eternal torture of the wicked, the divine right of the clergy and the divine right of kings to rule. In the course of time Mary, the mother of the child Jesus, was deified; and the people called upon to worship her as the mother of God.”
Divisive Christendom Warned
11, 12. (a) How was the clergy’s nonneutral stance exposed? (b) What warning was given by the Jeremiah class?
11 The same publication exposed the clergy’s complicity in wars, saying: “The clergy of these various ecclesiastical systems bless the armies which are sent out by the commercial and political wings, and their blessing is extended regardless of which side these armies are fighting on. The clergy all pretend to pray to the same God for a blessing upon the warring armies of both sides.” (Compare Jeremiah 7:31.) Then an imminent judgment was implied: “All these elements that go to make up the visible part of Satan’s organization are being gathered together and assembled for the great battle of Armageddon.”—Revelation 16:14-16.
12 Just as in Jeremiah’s day, when the leaders said they were safe and at peace with God, “so these ecclesiastical leaders confess to themselves that they are safe, that they need only to be called by the name of Christ, while they continue to play with the Devil’s fire. They blind themselves to the real situation by putting sand into their own eyes as well as into the eyes of their fellow men.” (Deliverance, page 270) Their self-deception was exposed by those zealous Bible Students, as Jehovah’s Witnesses were then known.—Matthew 7:21-23.
13. What event took place in 1931, and why was it appropriate?
13 As time passed, the Bible Students became even more closely identified with Jeremiah when, in 1931, at a convention in Columbus, Ohio, U.S.A., it was announced that the Biblical name for this courageous group of Christians should be “Jehovah’s Witnesses.” (Isaiah 43:10-12) That name had been brought to the fore in the eighth century B.C.E. when Jehovah applied it to Israel. Hence, about a hundred years later, when Jeremiah served as a prophet, he was also a witness for Jehovah. (Jeremiah 16:21) Likewise Jesus, when he came to the earth as a Jew, was a witness for his Father, Jehovah. (John 17:25, 26; Revelation 1:5; 3:14) Therefore, it was appropriate that at God’s due time, his people should finally qualify for this divinely appointed name—“Jehovah’s Witnesses.”—John 17:6, 11, 12.
14. How has Christendom been exposed over the last 70 years?
14 Over the last seven decades, in conjunction with proclaiming the glorious hope of Jehovah’s incoming Kingdom, Jehovah’s Witnesses have spread around the world a veritable flood of denunciation and judgment. In hundreds of millions of frank, hard-hitting Bible-based publications, they have exposed Christendom as the most powerful force in the religious whore, “Babylon the Great,” denounced in Revelation chapters 17 and 18. (See “Babylon the Great Has Fallen!” God’s Kingdom Rules!, pages 576-615, published in 1963 by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.)
15. How was Christendom exposed in 1955?
15 In 1955 Jehovah’s Witnesses distributed millions of copies of the booklet Christendom or Christianity—Which One Is “the Light of the World”? Thousands were delivered directly to the clergy of Christendom. And what did that booklet tell them? In true Jeremiah fashion, it stated: “Despite all her advantages that have pushed her ahead economically, mentally and militarily, Christendom has not proved herself ‘the light of the world.’ Why not? . . . She does not preach or practice [the Bible’s] Christianity.” Then it raised the question: “Is the exposing of false religions a persecution of their adherents? Is it un-Christian bigotry?”
16. Was it bigotry for the Witnesses to expose Christendom? Explain.
16 The answer was: “No; otherwise Jesus Christ was a bigoted persecutor of the Jews, . . . and all of Jehovah’s prophets of ancient times [including Jeremiah] before Jesus were persecutors and bigots, for they all exposed the false religion of apostate Jews and of the heathen nations.” Certainly, if true Christians are to be “the light of the world,” then spiritual “darkness” must be exposed. (2 Corinthians 6:14-17) This does not mean that individuals are attacked but, rather, the system that enslaves them. Thus, Jehovah gave the command to Jeremiah: “You should gird up your hips, and you must rise up and speak to them everything that I myself command you. Do not be struck with any terror because of them . . . And they will be certain to fight against you, but they will not prevail against you, for ‘I am with you,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘to deliver you.’”—Jeremiah 1:17, 19.
The Jeremiah Work Coming to Completion
17, 18. (a) How have Jehovah’s Witnesses continued their Jeremiah work in recent years? (b) What counsel has been offered to honest-hearted ones?
17 Have Jehovah’s Witnesses toned down God’s judgment? True, we live in an age when criticizing another religion is not considered the thing to do. Nevertheless, Jehovah’s Witnesses’ publications are spelling out the same message of judgment for Christendom as always. For example, in the last four years Jehovah’s Witnesses have printed 32 million copies of the book You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, in 76 languages. This publication presents the answers to many current questions, such as “What Happens at Death?” “Why Has God Permitted Wickedness?” and “Identifying the True Religion.” But it also gives a clear warning regarding the world empire of false religion.
18 In chapter 25, entitled “For Satan’s World, or for God’s New System?” it states: “In the Bible false religion is represented as a ‘great harlot,’ or prostitute, with the name ‘Babylon the Great.’ . . . And it is a fact that throughout history religion has been mixed up with politics, often telling governments what to do.” Therefore, what course of action does the book recommend? It asks: “Do you want to be part of Satan’s world? Or are you for God’s new system? If you are for God’s new system, you will be separate from the world, including its false religion. You will heed the command: ‘Get out of her [Babylon the Great], my people.’ (Revelation 18:4)”
19. How can you show that the voice of the modern Jeremiah is not muted at this late date?
19 This same powerful message of separation and judgment rings clear in the book Worldwide Security Under the “Prince of Peace,” published in 1986 (six million copies in 25 languages). It exposes the clergy of Christendom for ‘preaching the young men into the battlefields’ of World War I. It continues: “Christendom carries on as an enemy of the Most High God down to this very time. Certainly she does not have divine protection, and for this vital reason her very existence remains insecure.” (See pages 30-2.) The voice of the modern Jeremiah is not muted! While efforts are made by clergy and politicians to stifle the preaching of God’s judgments, his faithful witnesses press on, determined to complete the warning work.—Jeremiah 18:18.
20. Why will Jehovah’s Witnesses continue to announce Jehovah’s judgments to the nations?
20 And why must this work be completed? Because Jehovah, the living Sovereign Lord of the universe, has an accounting with the nations and their religions. Even as Jehovah asked deceptive Judah and Jerusalem, so the question applies equally to Christendom today: “‘Should I not take an accounting because of these very things?’ is the utterance of Jehovah. ‘Or upon a nation that is like this should not my soul avenge itself?’” Therefore, Jehovah’s Witnesses will continue to visit the people of the nations with a message that stings the majority as an unpopular judgment but is happifying good news for a minority—the good news of God’s Kingdom.—Jeremiah 5:9, 29; 9:9; Acts 8:4, 12.
21 While Jeremiah has often been called a calamity howler, it is also true that his message introduced rays of hope to the Jews. (Jeremiah 23:5, 6; 31:16, 17) In a similar way, while Jehovah’s Witnesses are announcing the imminent “great tribulation,” with God’s Armageddon judgment, they are also proclaiming the blessings of the “new heavens and a new earth” that will result in the restoration of justice and Paradise to this planet, along with everlasting life. (Matthew 24:21, 22; Revelation 16:16; 21:1-4) Therefore, now is the time to heed Jehovah’s judgment message and to lend support to the completing of the great Jeremiah work.—Compare Jeremiah 38:7-13.
Do You Recall?
□ Like Jeremiah, how are Jehovah’s Witnesses being persecuted?
□ Why do the Witnesses persist in preaching?
□ How has the Jeremiah work been expanded?
□ What recent examples show that the denunciation has not changed?
□ In spite of the message of calamity, what hope is also held out?
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In time, Mary was idolized and people were called upon to adore her as the “Mother of God”
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In 1931 the Bible Students accepted the name “Jehovah’s Witnesses” at their convention in Columbus, Ohio
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Jehovah’s Witnesses worldwide are following Jeremiah’s example