Their Refuge—A Lie!
“We have made a lie our refuge and in falsehood we have concealed ourselves.”—ISAIAH 28:15.
1, 2. (a) Which organization today should take note of what happened to the ancient kingdom of Judah? (b) What misplaced confidence did Judah have?
DO THOSE words apply to Christendom today as they did to the ancient two-tribe kingdom of Judah? Surely, they do! And that parallel bodes ill for modern-day Christendom. It means that catastrophe will soon overtake that apostate religious organization.
2 To the north of Judah was the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel. When Israel proved faithless, Jehovah allowed her to be conquered by Assyria in 740 B.C.E. Her sister kingdom, Judah, witnessed this tragic event but clearly felt that such a thing would never happen to her. ‘Why,’ her leaders boasted, ‘is not Jehovah’s temple in Jerusalem? Are we not God’s favored people? Do not our priests and prophets speak in Jehovah’s name?’ (Compare Jeremiah 7:4, 8-11.) Those religious leaders were confident that they were safe. But they were wrong! They were just as faithless as their northern kinsmen. So, what happened to Samaria would also happen to Jerusalem.
3. Why does Christendom feel confident as to the future, but is there good reason for her confidence?
3 In a similar way, Christendom claims to have a special relationship with God. ‘Why,’ she boasts, ‘we have tens of thousands of churches and a professional clergy, as well as hundreds of millions of adherents. We also possess the Bible, and we use the name of Jesus in our worship. Surely, we are favored by God!’ But what happened to ancient Jerusalem stands as a stern warning. Despite recent extraordinary political developments, we know that Jehovah will soon act decisively against Christendom and all other false religions.
“A Covenant With Death”
4. What covenant did Judah think she had made?
4 In ancient times, unfaithful Jerusalem received many warnings through God’s true prophets, but she did not believe them. Instead, she bragged that death would never take her down into Sheol, the grave, as it had taken the northern kingdom of Israel down. Isaiah the prophet was inspired to say to Judah: “Therefore hear the word of Jehovah, you braggarts, you rulers of this people who are in Jerusalem: Because you men have said: ‘We have concluded a covenant with Death; and with Sheol we have effected a vision; the overflowing flash flood, in case it should pass through, will not come to us, for we have made a lie our refuge and in falsehood we have concealed ourselves.’”—Isaiah 28:14, 15.
5. (a) What was Judah’s supposed covenant with death? (b) What warning given to King Asa had Judah forgotten?
5 Yes, Jerusalem’s leaders thought they had an agreement, as it were, with death and Sheol so that their city would be preserved. But did Jerusalem’s supposed covenant with death mean that she had repented of her sins and now trusted in Jehovah for salvation? (Jeremiah 8:6, 7) Not at all! Rather, she turned to human political rulers for help. But her reliance on worldly allies was a delusion, a lie. The worldlings she trusted could not save her. And since she abandoned Jehovah, Jehovah abandoned Jerusalem. It happened just as the prophet Azariah had warned King Asa: “Jehovah is with you as long as you prove to be with him; and if you search for him, he will let himself be found by you, but if you leave him he will leave you.”—2 Chronicles 15:2.
6, 7. What steps did Judah take to ensure her security, but with what final result?
6 Confident in their political alliances, Jerusalem’s leaders were sure that no “overflowing flash flood” of invading armies would come near them to disturb their peace and security. When threatened by an alliance of Israel and Syria, Judah turned to Assyria for help. (2 Kings 16:5-9) Later, when menaced by the military forces of Babylon, she appealed to Egypt for support and Pharaoh responded, sending an army to help.—Jeremiah 37:5-8; Ezekiel 17:11-15.
7 But Babylon’s armies were too powerful, and Egypt’s troops had to withdraw. Jerusalem’s placing confidence in Egypt proved to be a mistake, and in 607 B.C.E., Jehovah abandoned her to the destruction he had foretold. So Jerusalem’s rulers and priests were wrong! Their trust in worldly alliances for peace and security was “a lie” that was swept away by the flash flood of Babylon’s armies.
Rejecting the “Tried Stone”
8. How has Christendom taken a position very much like that of ancient Judah?
8 Is there a parallel situation today? Yes, there is. The clergy of Christendom also feel that no calamity will overtake them. In effect, they say as Isaiah foretold: “We have concluded a covenant with Death; and with Sheol we have effected a vision; the overflowing flash flood, in case it should pass through, will not come to us, for we have made a lie our refuge and in falsehood we have concealed ourselves.” (Isaiah 28:15) Like ancient Jerusalem, Christendom looks to worldly alliances for security, and her clergy refuse to take refuge in Jehovah. Why, they do not even use his name, and they mock and persecute those who do honor that name. Christendom’s clergy have done just what the Jewish chief priests in the first century did when they rejected Christ. They have said, in effect, “We have no king but Caesar.”—John 19:15.
9. (a) Who is warning Christendom today in the same way that Isaiah warned Judah? (b) To whom should Christendom turn?
9 Today, Jehovah’s Witnesses warn that a flood of executional armies will soon sweep over Christendom. Moreover, they point to the true place of refuge from that flood. They quote Isaiah 28:16, which says: “This is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah has said: ‘Here I am laying as a foundation in Zion a stone, a tried stone, the precious corner of a sure foundation. No one exercising faith will get panicky.’” Who is this ‘precious cornerstone’? The apostle Peter quoted these words and applied them to Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:6) If Christendom had sought peace with Jehovah’s King, Jesus Christ, then she would have avoided the coming flash flood.—Compare Luke 19:42-44.
10. What involvements has Christendom cultivated?
10 However, she has not done so. Instead, in her quest for peace and security, she insinuates herself into the favor of the political leaders of the nations—this despite the Bible’s warning that friendship with the world is enmity with God. (James 4:4) Moreover, in 1919 she strongly advocated the League of Nations as man’s best hope for peace. Since 1945 she has put her hope in the United Nations. (Compare Revelation 17:3, 11.) How extensive is her involvement with this organization?
11. What representation does religion have at the UN?
11 A recent book gives an idea when it states: “No less than twenty-four Catholic organizations are represented at the UN. Several of the world’s religious leaders have visited the international organization. Most memorable were the visits of His Holiness Pope Paul VI during the General Assembly in 1965 and of Pope John Paul II in 1979. Many religions have special invocations, prayers, hymns and services for the United Nations. The most important examples are those of the Catholic, the Unitarian-Universalist, the Baptist and the Bahai faiths.”
Vain Hopes for Peace
12, 13. Despite widespread hopes that peace is on the horizon, why are Jehovah’s Witnesses confident that their warnings are true?
12 One of the world’s most powerful political leaders echoed the hopes of many when he said: “This generation of people on earth may witness the advent of an irreversible period of peace in the history of civilization.” Was he right? Do recent developments mean that the warnings Jehovah’s Witnesses have issued concerning Jehovah’s execution of judgment on the nations will not come true? Are Jehovah’s Witnesses wrong?
13 No, they are not wrong. They know they are telling the truth because they put their trust in Jehovah and in the Bible, which is God’s own Word of truth. Titus 1:2 says: “God . . . cannot lie.” So they have full confidence that when a Bible prophecy says that a certain thing will happen, it will without fail come to pass. Jehovah himself states: “So my word that goes forth from my mouth will prove to be. It will not return to me without results, but it will certainly do that in which I have delighted.”—Isaiah 55:11.
14, 15. (a) What were the leaders of Judah proclaiming shortly before Jerusalem’s destruction in 607 B.C.E.? (b) What did Paul foretell would be proclaimed before sudden destruction would come upon this world? (c) What can we expect at the climax of the proclamation prophesied at 1 Thessalonians 5:3?
14 In the years before the destruction of Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E., Jeremiah reported that the leaders were crying, “There is peace! There is peace!” (Jeremiah 8:11) However, that was a lie. Jerusalem was destroyed in fulfillment of the inspired warnings of Jehovah’s true prophets. The apostle Paul warned that something similar would happen in our day. He said that men would be crying “Peace and security!” But then, he said, “sudden destruction” would be “instantly upon them.”—1 Thessalonians 5:3.
15 As we entered the 1990’s, newspapers and magazines everywhere were saying that the Cold War is over and that world peace is at last in sight. But then a shooting war broke out in the Middle East. However, sooner or later the world situation will develop to the point where the cry of “Peace and security!” prophesied at 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 3 will increase to a climax. With our hopes firmly anchored in God’s Word, we know that, as that climax is reached, God’s judgments will be executed swiftly and unerringly. No patched-up peace and security pronouncements should make us think that destruction foretold by God will not come. Jehovah’s judgments are unchangeably recorded in his Word the Bible. Christendom, along with all other false religion, will be destroyed. And then Jehovah’s destructive judgments will be expressed against the rest of Satan’s world. (2 Thessalonians 1:6-8; 2:8; Revelation 18:21; 19:19-21) Since Jehovah’s Witnesses are confident that Jehovah will fulfill his word, they continue to keep on the watch under the guidance of the faithful and discreet slave class and carefully observe how world events unfold. (Matthew 24:45-47) Certainly, no peacemaking efforts of man should make us think that Jehovah has abandoned his purpose to bring a flash flood of destruction on sin-laden Christendom.
‘God Is Our Refuge’
16, 17. How do Jehovah’s Witnesses respond if some take offense at the frankness of their message?
16 Some may take offense at the frankness of Jehovah’s Witnesses in proclaiming this. However, when they say that Christendom’s religious rulers have taken refuge in a lying arrangement, they merely relate what the Bible says. When they say that Christendom deserves punishment because she has become a part of the world, they merely report what God himself says in the Bible. (Philippians 3:18, 19) Moreover, because Christendom puts her confidence in the schemes proposed by this world, she actually supports the god of this world, Satan the Devil, who Jesus said is the father of the lie.—John 8:44; 2 Corinthians 4:4.
17 Therefore, Jehovah’s Witnesses declare: As for us, we do not encourage false hopes of world peace because of the changing political scene. Instead, we echo the words of the psalmist: “God is a refuge for us. . . . The sons of earthling man are an exhalation, the sons of mankind are a lie. When laid upon the scales they are all together lighter than an exhalation.” (Psalm 62:8, 9) Human schemes to promote and preserve Christendom and the rest of this system of things are a falsehood, a lie! All of them put together have no more power to forestall Jehovah’s purposes than does a mouthful of hot air!
18. What warning of the psalmist is appropriate today?
18 Jehovah’s Witnesses also quote Psalm 33, verses 17 to 19, which declares: “The horse [of Egypt, symbolizing warfare] is a deception for salvation, and by the abundance of its vital energy it does not afford escape. Look! The eye of Jehovah is toward those fearing him, to those waiting for his loving-kindness, to deliver their soul from death itself, and to preserve them alive in famine.” Today, true Christians trust in Jehovah and in his heavenly Kingdom, the only arrangement that can bring permanent peace.
Christendom “a Trampling Place”
19. Why is reliance on political organizations to bring world peace an illusion?
19 To trust any man-made substitute for God’s Kingdom makes that substitute an image, an object of worship. (Revelation 13:14, 15) Thus, encouraging reliance on political institutions, such as the United Nations, for peace and security is an illusion, a lie. Concerning such objects of false hopes, Jeremiah says: “His molten image is a falsehood, and there is no spirit in them. They are vanity, a work of mockery. In the time of their being given attention they will perish.” (Jeremiah 10:14, 15) Therefore, the war-horses of antitypical Egypt, that is, the military-political might of the nations today, will not protect the religious realm of Christendom in her day of crisis. The alliance of Christendom’s religions with this world will surely fail to protect them.
20, 21. (a) What happened to the League of Nations, and why will the United Nations fare no better? (b) How did Isaiah show that Christendom’s alliances with the world will not save her?
20 Christendom rested her hopes in the League of Nations, but it was overturned even without the coming of Armageddon. Now she has transferred her allegiance to the United Nations. But it will soon have to face “the war of the great day of God the Almighty,” and it will not survive. (Revelation 16:14) Even a revived UN can never bring peace and security. God’s prophetic Word shows that the United Nations organization with its member nations “will battle with the Lamb [Christ in Kingdom power], but, because he is Lord of lords and King of kings, the Lamb will conquer them.”—Revelation 17:14.
21 Jehovah’s Witnesses confidently say that there is no salvation for Christendom in her alliances with Satan’s world. And when they say this, they are merely pointing out what the Bible itself says. Isaiah 28:17, 18 quotes Jehovah as saying: “I will make justice the measuring line and righteousness the leveling instrument; and the hail must sweep away the refuge of a lie, and the waters themselves will flood out the very place of concealment. And your covenant with Death will certainly be dissolved, and that vision of yours with Sheol will not stand. The overflowing flash flood, when it passes through—you must also become for it a trampling place.”
22. When perfect justice is applied to Christendom, what will result?
22 When Jehovah’s judicial decision is carried out, it will be according to perfect justice. And Christendom’s basis for confidence, her “covenant with Death,” will be completely swept away as if by a flash flood. Isaiah goes on to say: “Morning by morning it will pass through, during the day and during the night; and it must become nothing but a reason for quaking to make others understand what has been heard.” (Isaiah 28:19) How terrifying it will be for onlookers to witness the full power of Jehovah’s judgment! How awful for Christendom’s clergy and their followers to find out, too late, that they have trusted in a lie!
Jehovah’s Name “a Strong Tower”
23, 24. Rather than seeking security in this world, what will Jehovah’s Witnesses do?
23 But what of Jehovah’s Witnesses? Even in the face of international hatred and persecution, they persist in keeping separate from the world. They never forget that Jesus said of his followers: “They are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world.” (John 17:16) Throughout these last days, they have put their trust in Jehovah’s Kingdom, not in human schemes. Therefore, Christendom’s calamity will not cause Jehovah’s Witnesses to be terrified. As Isaiah foretold: “No one exercising faith will get panicky.”—Isaiah 28:16.
24 Proverbs 18:10 says: “The name of Jehovah is a strong tower. Into it the righteous runs and is given protection.” We therefore invite all sheeplike persons to take refuge in Jehovah and in his Kingdom by Christ. As a concealment place, Jehovah is no falsehood! His Kingdom by Christ is no lie! Christendom’s refuge is a lie, but the refuge of true Christians is the truth.
Can You Explain?
□ How did ancient Judah take refuge in a lie?
□ In what way has Christendom tried to conceal herself in falsehood?
□ How did Isaiah warn Judah, and how do Jehovah’s Witnesses utter a similar warning today?
□ How will Christendom find that her confidence is misplaced?
□ In contrast with Christendom, what stand do Jehovah’s Witnesses maintain?
[Box on page 17]
HIGH HOPES VOICED FOR THE UNITED NATIONS
“For the first time since World War II the international community is united. The leadership of the United Nations, once only a hoped-for ideal, is now confirming its founders’ vision. . . . The world can therefore seize this opportunity to fulfill the long-held promise of a new world order.”—President Bush of the United States in his State of the Union message to that nation, January 29, 1991