Jehovah’s Controversy With the Nations
“A noise will certainly come clear to the farthest part of the earth, for there is a controversy that Jehovah has with the nations.”—JEREMIAH 25:31.
1, 2. (a) What happened in Judah after the death of King Josiah? (b) Who was the last king of Judah, and how did he suffer for his unfaithfulness?
THE land of Judah was confronted with critical times hard to deal with. One good king, Josiah, had temporarily stayed Jehovah’s burning anger. But what followed when Josiah was killed in 629 B.C.E.? The kings that succeeded him dishonored Jehovah.
2 The last king of Judah, Zedekiah, fourth son of Josiah, continued, as 2 Kings 24:19 states, “to do what was bad in Jehovah’s eyes, according to all that [his older brother] Jehoiakim had done.” The result? Nebuchadnezzar came against Jerusalem, captured Zedekiah, slaughtered his sons before his eyes, blinded him, and took him to Babylon. Moreover, the Babylonians seized as plunder the vessels used in Jehovah’s worship, putting the temple and the city to the flames. The survivors became exiles in Babylon.
3. What period began with the destruction of Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E., and what was due to happen at the end of that period?
3 That year, 607 B.C.E., marked not only a final desolating of Jerusalem but also the start of “the appointed times of the nations,” referred to at Luke 21:24. This 2,520-year period ended in our century, in the year 1914. By then the time had come for Jehovah, by his enthroned Son, Jesus Christ, who is greater than Nebuchadnezzar, to pronounce and execute judgment on the corrupt world. This judging starts with the modern-day equivalent of Judah, an equivalent that claims to represent God and Christ on earth.
4. What questions are now raised in connection with Jeremiah’s prophecy?
4 Do we see a parallel between the turmoil during the twilight years of Judah under her kings—with ruinous events spilling over into neighbor nations—and the turmoil in Christendom today? Certainly we do! What, then, does Jeremiah’s prophecy indicate as to how Jehovah will handle matters today? Let us see.
5, 6. (a) Since 1914, how has the situation in Christendom resembled that in Judah just before its destruction? (b) What message has the modern Jeremiah carried to Christendom?
5 British mathematician and philosopher Bertrand Russell commented some 40 years ago: “Ever since 1914, everybody conscious of trends in the world has been deeply troubled by what has seemed like a fated and pre-determined march toward ever greater disaster.” And German statesman Konrad Adenauer stated: “Security and quiet have disappeared from the lives of men since 1914.”
6 Today, as in Jeremiah’s day, the approach to the end of a system of things is marked by the shedding of oceans of innocent blood, notably in the two world wars of this century. For the most part, these wars were fought by nations of Christendom, which claim to worship the God of the Bible. What hypocrisy! It is no wonder that Jehovah has sent his Witnesses to them, saying, in the words of Jeremiah 25:5, 6: “Turn back, please, every one from his bad way and from the badness of your dealings . . . And do not walk after other gods in order to serve them and to bow down to them, that you may not offend me with the work of your hands, and that I may not cause calamity to you.”
7. What evidence is there that Christendom has ignored Jehovah’s warnings?
7 However, the nations of Christendom have failed to turn back. This has been demonstrated in their making further sacrifices to the god of war in Korea and Vietnam. And they continue to finance the merchants of death, the armaments manufacturers. The lands of Christendom provided the greater part of almost one trillion dollars spent on armaments each year during the 1980’s. From 1951 to 1991, the military outlay of the United States alone exceeded the net profits of all American corporations combined. Since the loudly proclaimed end of the Cold War, cuts have been made in outdated nuclear weapons, but huge arsenals of other deadly weapons remain and continue to be developed. Someday these may be used.
Judgment Against the Permissive Realm of Christendom
8. How will the words of Jeremiah 25:8, 9 be fulfilled on Christendom?
8 Jehovah’s further words, found at Jeremiah 25:8, 9, now apply specifically to Christendom, which has failed to live up to Christian standards of righteousness: “Therefore this is what Jehovah of armies has said, ‘For the reason that you did not obey my words, here I am sending and I will take all the families of the north,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘even sending to Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon, my servant, and I will bring them against this land and against its inhabitants and against all these nations round about; and I will devote them to destruction and make them an object of astonishment and something to whistle at and places devastated to time indefinite.’” Thus, starting with God’s professed people, Christendom, the great tribulation will get under way, finally extending earth wide, to ‘all the nations round about.’
9. In what ways has Christendom’s spiritual condition become worse in our time?
9 There was a time in Christendom when the Bible was respected, when marriage and family life were almost universally viewed as a source of happiness, when people rose early and found fulfillment in their daily work. Many refreshed themselves by reading and studying God’s Word by evening lamplight. But today, sexual promiscuity, divorce, drug abuse and drunkenness, delinquency, greed, lazy work habits, TV addiction, and other vices have corrupted life to an alarming degree. This is preliminary to the devastation that Jehovah God is about to execute on the permissive realm of Christendom.
10. Describe the condition of Christendom after the execution of Jehovah’s judgments.
10 Jehovah declares, as we read at Jeremiah chapter 25, verses 10 and 11: “I will destroy out of them the sound of exultation and the sound of rejoicing, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the sound of the hand mill and the light of the lamp. And all this land must become a devastated place, an object of astonishment.” It will indeed be astonishing when the mighty temples and luxurious palaces of Christendom come crashing to their ruin. How extensive will this destruction be? In Jeremiah’s time, the devastation of Judah and neighbor nations lasted through 70 years, which Psalm 90:10 describes as a typical lifetime. Jehovah’s execution of judgment today will be complete, everlasting.
Judgment Against Babylon the Great
11. Who will be instrumental in destroying Christendom? Why?
11 As foretold at Revelation 17:12-17, the time will come when Jehovah starts his strange act by putting it into the hearts of “the ten horns”—militarized members of the United Nations—“to carry out his thought” of devastating the world empire of false religion. How will this come about? There are numerous ways that “the ten horns” of Revelation chapter 17 may, in the words of Re 17 verse 16, come to “hate the harlot and . . . completely burn her with fire.” True, nuclear arms have proliferated and are still proliferating in many danger spots on earth. But we must wait and see how Jehovah will put it into the hearts of political rulers to execute his vengeance.
12. (a) What happened to Babylon after she destroyed Jerusalem? (b) What will happen to the nations after the destruction of Christendom?
12 In ancient times it became Babylon’s turn to experience Jehovah’s burning anger. Accordingly, beginning with Jeremiah chapter 25, verse 12, the prophecy views matters from a later, changed standpoint. No longer in the role of Jehovah’s Executioner, Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon are now included among all the worldly nations. This is similar to the situation today. “The ten horns” of Revelation chapter 17 will desolate false religion, but later they themselves will suffer destruction along with all other “kings of the earth,” as described in Revelation chapter 19. Jeremiah 25:13, 14 describes how Babylon, along with “all the nations” that have exploited Jehovah’s people, comes into judgment. Jehovah had used Nebuchadnezzar as executioner in punishing Judah. Yet both he and Babylon’s later kings proudly came to exalt themselves against Jehovah himself, as demonstrated, for example, by the desecration of the vessels of Jehovah’s temple. (Daniel 5:22, 23) And when the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem, Judah’s neighbor nations—Moab, Ammon, Tyre, Edom, and others—exulted and mocked God’s people. They too must reap due recompense from Jehovah.
Judgment Against “All the Nations”
13. What is meant by “this cup of the wine of rage,” and what happens to those who drink the cup?
13 Hence, Jeremiah declares, as recorded at Jer chapter 25, verses 15 and 16: “This is what Jehovah the God of Israel said to me: ‘Take this cup of the wine of rage out of my hand, and you must make all the nations to whom I am sending you drink it. And they must drink and shake back and forth and act like crazed men because of the sword that I am sending among them.’” Why is it a ‘cup of the wine of Jehovah’s rage’? At Matthew 26:39, 42 and John 18:11, Jesus spoke of a “cup” as symbolizing God’s will for him. Similarly, a cup is used to symbolize Jehovah’s will for the nations to drink of his divine vengeance. Jeremiah 25:17-26 lists these national groups that foreshadow the nations today.
14. According to Jeremiah’s prophecy, who get to drink from the cup of the wine of Jehovah’s rage, and what does this symbolize for our day?
14 After Christendom, like Judah, is made “a devastated place, an object of astonishment, something to whistle at and a malediction,” destruction is in store for the rest of the world empire of false religion. Next, the entire world, as symbolized by Egypt, must drink from the cup of the wine of Jehovah’s rage! Yes, “all the kings of the north who are near and far away, one after the other, and all the other kingdoms of the earth that are on the surface of the ground” must drink. Finally, “the king of Sheshach himself will drink after them.” And who is this “king of Sheshach”? Sheshach is a symbolic name, a cryptogram, or code, for Babylon. Just as Satan was the invisible king over Babylon, so he is “the ruler of the world” to this day, as indicated by Jesus. (John 14:30) Thus, Jeremiah 25:17-26 parallels Revelation chapters 18 through 20 in clarifying the sequence of events as the cup of Jehovah’s rage is passed around. First, the world empire of false religion must go down, next the political powers, and then Satan himself is to be abyssed.—Revelation 18:8; 19:19-21; 20:1-3.
15. What will happen when the cry of “peace and security” is heard?
15 There has been much talk of peace and security since the Cold War supposedly ended, with only one superpower remaining. As stated at Revelation 17:10, that superpower, the seventh head of the wild beast, must “remain a short while.” But that “short while” is approaching its end. Soon, all cries of political “peace and security” will give way to “sudden destruction [that will] be instantly upon them.” So states the apostle Paul.—1 Thessalonians 5:2, 3.
16, 17. (a) If any try to escape Jehovah’s judgment, what will result? (b) In what destructive way will Jehovah’s will soon take place on earth?
16 Satan’s entire world system, starting with Christendom, must drink from Jehovah’s cup of vengeance. His further command to Jeremiah, recorded at Jer chapter 25, verses 27 to 29, bears this out: “You must say to them, ‘This is what Jehovah of armies, the God of Israel, has said: “Drink and get drunk and puke and fall so that you cannot get up because of the sword that I am sending among you.”’ And it must occur that in case they refuse to take the cup out of your hand to drink, you must also say to them, ‘This is what Jehovah of armies has said: “You will drink without fail. For, look! it is upon the city upon which my name is called that I am starting off in bringing calamity, and should you yourselves in any way go free of punishment?”’ ‘You will not go free of punishment, for there is a sword that I am calling against all the inhabitants of the earth,’ is the utterance of Jehovah of armies.”
17 Those are strong words—indeed, fear-inspiring words, for they are spoken by the Sovereign Lord of all the universe, Jehovah God. During millenniums of time, he has patiently endured the blasphemies, the reproaches, and the hatred that have been heaped upon his holy name. The time has at last arrived, though, for him to answer the prayer that his beloved Son, Jesus Christ, taught his disciples while here on earth: “You must pray, then, this way: ‘Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified. Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.’” (Matthew 6:9, 10) It is Jehovah’s will that Jesus act as His sword in executing vengeance.
18, 19. (a) Who rides forth to conquer in Jehovah’s name, and for what does he wait before completing his conquest? (b) When the angels release the storm wind of Jehovah’s rage, what fearsome events will occur on earth?
18 In Revelation chapter 6, we read first of Jesus’ riding forth on a white horse ‘to conquer and to complete his conquest.’ (Re 6 Verse 2) This began with his enthronement as heavenly King in 1914. Other horses and riders follow him, depicting the total warfare, famine, and pestilence that have since plagued our earth. But when will all this turmoil end? Revelation chapter 7 informs us that four angels are holding tight “the four winds of the earth” until spiritual Israel and a great crowd out of all nations have been gathered for salvation. (Re 7 Verse 1) Then what?
19 Jeremiah chapter 25, in Jer 25 verses 30 and 31, continues: “‘From on high Jehovah himself will roar, and from his holy dwelling he will give forth his voice. Without fail he will roar upon his abiding place. A shout like that of those treading the winepress he will sing out against all the inhabitants of the earth. A noise will certainly come clear to the farthest part of the earth, for there is a controversy that Jehovah has with the nations. He must personally put himself in judgment with all flesh. As regards the wicked ones, he must give them to the sword,’ is the utterance of Jehovah.” No nation will escape from thus drinking of the cup of Jehovah’s rage. It is high time, therefore, that all righthearted people separate themselves from the wickedness of the nations before the four angels release the tempestuous storm wind of Jehovah’s rage. Tempestuous indeed, for Jeremiah’s prophecy continues at Jer 25 verses 32 and 33:
20. What scenario underscores the severity of Jehovah’s judgment, but why is this action necessary?
20 “This is what Jehovah of armies has said, ‘Look! A calamity is going forth from nation to nation, and a great tempest itself will be roused up from the remotest parts of the earth. And those slain by Jehovah will certainly come to be in that day from one end of the earth clear to the other end of the earth. They will not be bewailed, neither will they be gathered up or be buried. As manure on the surface of the ground they will become.’” Truly a gruesome scenario, but this action is necessary in order to cleanse the earth of all wickedness before bringing in the Paradise of God’s promise.
Shepherds to Howl and Cry Out
21, 22. (a) At Jeremiah 25:34-36, who were the “shepherds” of Israel, and why were they forced to howl? (b) Which modern shepherds deserve Jehovah’s anger, and why richly so?
21 Jer 25 Verses 34 to 36 speak further of Jehovah’s judgment, saying: “Howl, you shepherds, and cry out! And wallow about, you majestic ones of the flock, because your days for slaughtering and for your scatterings have been fulfilled, and you must fall like a desirable vessel! And a place to flee to has perished from the shepherds, and a means of escape from the majestic ones of the flock. Listen! The outcry of the shepherds, and the howling of the majestic ones of the flock, for Jehovah is despoiling their pasturage.”
22 Who are these shepherds? They are not the religious leaders, who have already drunk of Jehovah’s anger. They are the militaristic shepherds, described also at Jeremiah 6:3, who assemble their armies in droves in defiance of Jehovah. They are the political rulers, who have grown rich at the expense of the ruled. Many of these are wheeler-dealers, masters of corruption. They have been slow to assuage the famines that have decimated entire peoples in disadvantaged lands. They enrich “the majestic ones of the flock,” such as armaments barons and greedy destroyers of the environment, while declining to provide the medical help and nourishing food that could at so little cost save tens of millions of dying children.
23. Describe the condition of Satan’s domain after Jehovah’s destructive acts.
23 It is no wonder that Jeremiah chapter 25 concludes, in Jer 25 verses 37 and 38, by saying of these who selfishly sought peace for themselves alone: “The peaceful abiding places have been rendered lifeless because of the burning anger of Jehovah. He has left his covert just like a maned young lion, for their land has become an object of astonishment because of the maltreating sword and because of his burning anger.” Astonishment indeed! Yet, Jehovah’s burning anger will assuredly be expressed through the One described at Revelation 19:15, 16 as the “King of kings and Lord of lords,” who shepherds the nations with a rod of iron. And what follows?
24. What blessings will the destruction of false religion and the rest of Satan’s world bring to righteous mankind?
24 Have you ever lived through a hurricane or a typhoon? It can be a horrifying experience. But on the following morning, though you may see wreckage all around, the air is usually so clear and the calm so refreshing that you can thank Jehovah for an unusually lovely day. Likewise, as the storm winds of the great tribulation abate, you may look forth upon the earth with thankfulness that you are alive and ready to share in Jehovah’s further work of making a cleansed earth into a glorious paradise. Jehovah’s controversy with the nations will have been brought to its grand conclusion, sanctifying his name and clearing the way for his will to take place on earth under the Millennial Rule of the Messianic Kingdom. May that Kingdom come soon!
Reviewing paragraphs 5-24 of this article
□ What hypocritical ways of Christendom have now come into judgment?
□ What expanded view of the judgment is taken at Jeremiah 25:12-38?
□ What cup of vengeance is passed to all the nations?
□ Who are the shepherds that howl and cry out, and why are they disturbed?
[Picture on page 18]
Jehovah has chosen the instrument of Christendom’s destruction
[Picture on page 23]
After the storm winds of the great tribulation, a cleansed earth will appear