Keep Close in Mind the Day of Jehovah
“The day of Jehovah is near in the low plain of the decision.”—JOEL 3:14.
1. Why will the coming holy war declared by Jehovah be different from the “holy” wars of mankind?
“PROCLAIM this, you people, among the nations, ‘Sanctify war!’” (Joel 3:9) Does this mean a holy war? Looking back on the Crusades, the religious wars, and the two world wars—in which Christendom played a leading part—we might shudder at the thought of a “holy” war. However, the holy war of Joel’s prophecy is not a war among the nations. It is not a hate-filled struggle for territory or possessions, using religion as an excuse. It is a righteous war. It is God’s war to rid the earth of greed, strife, corruption, and oppression. It will vindicate Jehovah’s rightful sovereignty over the entire realm of his creation. That war will clear the way for Christ’s Kingdom to usher mankind into the Millennium of universal peace, prosperity, and happiness foretold by God’s prophets.—Psalm 37:9-11; Isaiah 65:17, 18; Revelation 20:6.
2, 3. (a) What is “the day of Jehovah” prophesied at Joel 3:14? (b) Why do the nations deserve what they will have to face during that day?
2 What, then, is “the day of Jehovah” foretold at Joel 3:14? “Alas for the day,” Jehovah himself exclaims, “because the day of Jehovah is near, and like a despoiling from the Almighty One it will come!” How is it a despoiling? The prophet later explains: “Crowds, crowds are in the low plain of the decision, for the day of Jehovah is near in the low plain of the decision.” (Joel 1:15; 3:14) This is the day on which Jehovah executes his judicial decision on the godless crowds of humanity that reject his rightful sovereignty over heaven and earth. It is Jehovah’s decision to despoil the satanic system of things that has for so long embraced mankind in its tentacles.—Jeremiah 17:5-7; 25:31-33.
3 The corrupt system on earth must face up to that decision. But is the world system really that bad? One look at its record should suffice! Jesus stated a principle at Matthew 7:16: “By their fruits you will recognize them.” Have not the world’s great cities become cesspools of drugs, crime, terror, immorality, and pollution? In many lands newly found freedoms are being stifled by political confusion, food shortages, and poverty. More than a billion people live on starvation rations. Further, the AIDS epidemic, fueled by drugs and immoral life-styles, casts a dark cloud over a great part of the earth. Particularly since World War I exploded in 1914, there has been deterioration on a worldwide scale in every aspect of life.—Compare 2 Timothy 3:1-5.
4. What challenge does Jehovah hurl at the nations?
4 However, Jehovah has been gathering out of all the nations a people who gladly receive instruction about his ways and walk in his paths. This globe-encircling people has beaten swords into plowshares, renouncing the violent ways of the world. (Isaiah 2:2-4) Yes, swords into plowshares! But is this not the reverse of the cry that Jehovah causes to be proclaimed at Joel 3:9, 10? There we read: “Proclaim this, you people, among the nations, ‘Sanctify war! Arouse the powerful men! Let them draw near! Let them come up, all the men of war! Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning shears into lances.’” Ah, here Jehovah is challenging the world’s rulers to bring their combined armed might against him at Armageddon. But they cannot succeed! They must go down in total defeat!—Revelation 16:16.
5. What will be the result when “the vine of the earth” is harvested?
5 In defiance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, powerful rulers have built arsenals of frightful weapons—but in vain! Jehovah gives the order at Joel 3:13: “Thrust in a sickle, for harvest has grown ripe. Come, descend, for the winepress has become full. The press vats actually overflow; for their badness has become abundant.” Those words parallel Revelation 14:18-20, where an angel bearing a sharp sickle is commanded to “gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, because its grapes have become ripe.” The angel thrusts in his sickle and hurls those defiant nations “into the great winepress of the anger of God.” Figuratively, blood comes out of the winepress as high up as the bridles of the horses, for a distance of 1,600 furlongs—about 180 miles [300 km]! What a frightful prospect for nations that dishonor Jehovah!
6. How do Jehovah’s Witnesses view the nations and their rulers?
6 Does this mean that Jehovah’s Witnesses are disrespectful of the nations and their rulers? Far from it! They simply deplore the corruption that all can plainly see, and they warn of Jehovah’s rapidly approaching day for executing his decision. At the same time, they humbly obey the apostle Paul’s command at Romans 13:1: “Let every soul be in subjection to the superior authorities.” To these human rulers, they give due honor but not worship. As law-abiding citizens, they follow Bible standards of honesty, truthfulness, and cleanliness and build good morals into their own families. They help others to learn how they too can do this. They live peaceably with all men, not getting involved in demonstrations or political revolutions. Jehovah’s Witnesses seek to be exemplary in obeying the laws of the human superior authorities, while they wait upon the Supreme Authority, the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, to restore perfect peace and righteous government to this earth.
Executing His Decision
7, 8. (a) In what way will the nations be rocked and darkness descend upon them? (b) Whom does Joel portray today, and in contrast with the world in general, how are these blessed?
7 In vivid figurative language, Jehovah gives this further description of the execution of his decision: “Sun and moon themselves will certainly become dark, and the very stars will actually withdraw their brightness. And out of Zion Jehovah himself will roar, and out of Jerusalem he will give forth his voice. And heaven and earth certainly will rock; but Jehovah will be a refuge for his people, and a fortress for the sons of Israel.” (Joel 3:15, 16) The apparently bright, prosperous condition of mankind will turn gloomy, foreboding, and this fragmenting world system will be rocked out of existence, devastated as by a great earthquake!—Haggai 2:20-22.
8 Note the happy assurance that Jehovah will be a refuge and a fortress for his people! Why so? Because they are the one people—an international people—who have responded to Jehovah’s words: “You people will have to know that I am Jehovah your God.” (Joel 3:17) Since Joel’s name means “Jehovah Is God,” he fittingly portrays Jehovah’s anointed Witnesses of modern times, who serve boldly in proclaiming Jehovah’s sovereignty. (Compare Malachi 1:11.) Turning to the opening words of Joel’s prophecy, we will find how vividly he foretells the activity of God’s people today.
A Locust Band
9, 10. (a) What plague is foretold by Joel? (b) How does Revelation echo Joel’s prophecy of a plague, and what effect does this plague have on Christendom?
9 Listen now to “the word of Jehovah that occurred to Joel”: “Hear this, you older men, and give ear, all you inhabitants of the land. Has this occurred in your days, or even in the days of your forefathers? Concerning it give an account to your own sons, and your sons to their sons, and their sons to the following generation. What was left by the caterpillar, the locust has eaten; and what was left by the locust, the creeping, unwinged locust has eaten; and what the creeping, unwinged locust has left, the cockroach has eaten.”—Joel 1:1-4.
10 This is a campaign extraordinaire, one that will be memorialized for all time. Wave upon wave of insects, most prominently locusts, devastate the land. What does this mean? Revelation 9:1-12 also speaks of a plague of locusts, sent forth by Jehovah under “a king, the angel of the abyss,” who is none other than Christ Jesus. His names Abaddon (Hebrew) and Apollyon (Greek) mean “Destruction” and “Destroyer.” These locusts picture the anointed remnant of Christians who, now in the Lord’s day, go forth to devastate Christendom’s pastures by completely exposing false religion and proclaiming Jehovah’s vengeance upon it.
11. How are the modern-day locusts reinforced, and who particularly are the objects of their attacks?
11 As indicated by Revelation 9:13-21, the locust plague is succeeded by a huge plague of cavalry. How true this is today, as the few thousand remaining anointed Christians are reinforced by more than four million “other sheep” together making up an irresistible cavalry! (John 10:16) They unite in proclaiming Jehovah’s stinging judgments on Christendom’s idolaters and on those who ‘do not repent of their murders nor of their spiritistic practices nor of their fornication nor of their thefts.’ Clergy—both Catholic and Protestant—who have actively supported the murderous wars of this century, as well as pedophiliac priests and perverted TV evangelists, are among those against whom these judgment messages are directed.
12. Why do the leaders of Christendom deserve to receive judgment messages, and what will soon happen to them, along with all members of Babylon the Great?
12 To such depraved “gentlemen” of the cloth, Jehovah’s summons rings out: “Wake up, you drunkards, and weep; and howl, all you wine drinkers, on account of sweet wine, for it has been cut off from your mouths.” (Joel 1:5) In this 20th century, Christendom’s religion has substituted the world’s permissiveness for the clean moral principles of God’s Word. It has seemed sweet to false religion and its parishioners to imbibe the ways of the world, but what a harvest of spiritual and physical disease they have reaped! Soon, as described at Revelation 17:16, 17, it will be God’s “thought” for the political powers to turn on the entire world empire of false religion, Babylon the Great, and devastate her. Only then, as she sees Jehovah’s decision being carried out against her, will she “wake up” from her drunken stupor.
“A People Numerous and Mighty”
13. In what way does the locust horde seem “numerous and mighty” to Christendom?
13 Jehovah’s prophet goes on to describe the locust horde as “a people numerous and mighty,” and so it seems to Babylon the Great. (Joel 2:2) Its clergy, for instance, bewail the fact that Christendom’s religions have failed to make converts in Buddhist Japan. Yet, today, more than 160,000 Japanese Witnesses of Jehovah are swarming over that country and conducting personal Bible studies in more than 200,000 homes of the people. In Italy the 180,000 Witnesses of Jehovah are now recognized as second in number only to the Catholics. In vain did a Roman Catholic monsignor in Italy bewail the fact that Jehovah’s Witnesses are taking from the church ‘at least 10,000 faithful Catholics’ each year.* The Witnesses are glad to welcome such ones.—Isaiah 60:8, 22.
14, 15. How does Joel describe the locust horde, and in what way has this been fulfilled today?
14 Describing the locust horde of anointed Witnesses, Joel 2:7-9 states: “Like powerful men they run. Like men of war they go up a wall. And they go each one in his own ways, and they do not alter their paths. And one another they do not shove. As an able-bodied man in his course, they keep going; and should some fall even among the missiles, the others do not break off course. Into the city they rush. On the wall they run. On the houses they go up. Through the windows they go in like the thief.”
15 A vivid portrayal, indeed, of the army of anointed “locusts,” now joined by more than four million companions, the other sheep! No “wall” of religious enmity can hold these back. Boldly, they “go on walking orderly in this same routine” of public witnessing and other Christian activities. (Compare Philippians 3:16.) Rather than compromise, they have been willing to face death, as did the thousands of Witnesses who ‘fell among the missiles’ because they refused to heil Catholic Hitler of Nazi Germany. The locust horde has given a thorough witness in “the city” of Christendom, climbing over all obstacles, penetrating, as it were, like a thief into the homes as they have distributed billions of Bible publications through their house-to-house activity. It is Jehovah’s will that this witness be given, and no power in heaven or on earth can stop it.—Isaiah 55:11.
“Filled With Holy Spirit”
16, 17. (a) When did the words of Joel 2:28, 29 have an outstanding fulfillment? (b) What prophetic words of Joel were not completely fulfilled in the first century?
16 Jehovah tells his Witnesses: “You people will have to know that I am in the midst of [spiritual] Israel, and that I am Jehovah your God and there is no other.” (Joel 2:27) His people came into this precious realization when Jehovah began to fulfill his words at Joel 2:28, 29: “It must occur that I shall pour out my spirit on every sort of flesh, and your sons and your daughters will certainly prophesy.” This happened at Pentecost 33 C.E., when Jesus’ assembled disciples were anointed “and they all became filled with holy spirit.” In the power of holy spirit, they preached, and on the one day, “about three thousand souls were added.”—Acts 2:4, 16, 17, 41.
17 On that happy occasion, Peter also quoted Joel 2:30-32: “I will give portents in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun itself will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and fear-inspiring day of Jehovah. And it must occur that everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will get away safe.” Those words had a partial fulfillment when Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 C.E.
18. When did the greater fulfillment of Joel 2:28, 29 begin to take place?
18 There would, however, be a further application of Joel 2:28-32. Indeed, this prophecy has had remarkable fulfillment since September 1919. At that time a memorable convention of Jehovah’s people was held in Cedar Point, Ohio, U.S.A. God’s spirit was clearly manifest, and his anointed servants were stimulated to embark on the global witnessing campaign that extends into the present day. What grand expansion has resulted! The over 7,000 in attendance at that Cedar Point convention have grown to a total of 10,650,158 attending the Memorial of Jesus’ death on March 30, 1991. Of these, only 8,850 professed to be anointed Christians. How great the joy of all of these at seeing the global fruitage brought forth by Jehovah’s dynamic spirit!—Isaiah 40:29, 31.
19. In view of the nearness of Jehovah’s day, what should be the attitude of each one of us?
19 Just ahead lies “the coming of the great and fear-inspiring day of Jehovah” that will devastate Satan’s system of things. (Joel 2:31) Happily, “everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.” (Acts 2:21) How so? The apostle Peter tells us that “Jehovah’s day will come as a thief” and adds: “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion, awaiting and keeping close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah.” Keeping in mind that Jehovah’s day is at hand, we will rejoice also to see the fulfillment of Jehovah’s promise of righteous “new heavens and a new earth.”—2 Peter 3:10-13.
La Repubblica, Rome, Italy, November 12, 1985, and La rivista del clero italiano, May 1985.
Can You Explain?
□ What is “the day of Jehovah”?
□ How will ‘the vine of the earth’ be reaped, and why?
□ In what way has a locust plague afflicted Christendom since 1919?
□ How was Jehovah’s spirit poured out on his people in 33 C.E., and again in 1919?