“May Your Hands Not Drop Down”
“May your hands not drop down. Jehovah your God is in the midst of you. As a mighty One, he will save.”—ZEPHANIAH 3:16, 17.
1. What did a Bible scholar state concerning the prophecy of Zephaniah?
ZEPHANIAH’S prophecy pointed far beyond its first fulfillment in the seventh and sixth centuries B.C.E. In his commentary on Zephaniah, Professor C. F. Keil wrote: “Zephaniah’s prophecy . . . not only commences with the announcement of a universal judgment upon the whole world, out of which the judgment rises that will fall upon Judah on account of its sins, and upon the world of nations on account of its hostility to the people of Jehovah; but it treats throughout of the great and terrible day of Jehovah.”
2. What similarities exist between conditions in Zephaniah’s day and the situation within Christendom today?
2 Today, Jehovah’s judicial decision is to gather the nations for destruction on a far wider scale than in Zephaniah’s day. (Zephaniah 3:8) Those nations that claim to be Christian are particularly reprehensible in God’s sight. Just as Jerusalem paid a terrible price for its unfaithfulness to Jehovah, so Christendom must answer to God for its profligate ways. The divine judgments pronounced against Judah and Jerusalem in Zephaniah’s day apply with even greater force to the churches and sects of Christendom. They also have sullied pure worship by their God-dishonoring doctrines, many of pagan origin. They have sacrificed millions of their healthy sons on the modern altar of war. Furthermore, the inhabitants of antitypical Jerusalem mix so-called Christianity with astrology, spiritistic practices, and degrading sexual immorality, reminiscent of Baal worship.—Zephaniah 1:4, 5.
3. What can be said of many secular leaders and political governments today, and what did Zephaniah prophesy?
3 Many of Christendom’s political leaders love to be seen in church. But like Judah’s “princes,” a number of them exploit the people like “roaring lions” and ravenous “wolves.” (Zephaniah 3:1-3) The political lackeys of such ones “are filling the house of their masters with violence and deception.” (Zephaniah 1:9) Bribery and corruption are rife. As for political governments inside and outside Christendom, an increasing number of them ‘put on great airs’ against the people of Jehovah of armies, his Witnesses, treating them as a despised “sect.” (Zephaniah 2:8; Acts 24:5, 14) Concerning all such political leaders and their followers, Zephaniah prophesied: “Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them in the day of Jehovah’s fury; but by the fire of his zeal the whole earth will be devoured, because he will make an extermination, indeed a terrible one, of all the inhabitants of the earth.”—Zephaniah 1:18.
“Concealed in the Day of Jehovah’s Anger”
4. What shows that there will be survivors of Jehovah’s great day, but what must they do?
4 Not all of the inhabitants of Judah were exterminated in the seventh century B.C.E. Similarly, there will be survivors of Jehovah’s great day. To such ones Jehovah stated by means of his prophet Zephaniah: “Before the statute gives birth to anything, before the day has passed by just like chaff, before there comes upon you people the burning anger of Jehovah, before there comes upon you the day of Jehovah’s anger, seek Jehovah, all you meek ones of the earth, who have practiced His own judicial decision. Seek righteousness, seek meekness. Probably you may be concealed in the day of Jehovah’s anger.”—Zephaniah 2:2, 3.
5. In this time of the end, who were the first to heed Zephaniah’s warning, and how has Jehovah used them?
5 In this world’s time of the end, the first to heed the prophetic invitation were the remnant of spiritual Israelites, anointed Christians. (Romans 2:28, 29; 9:6; Galatians 6:16) Having sought righteousness and meekness and having shown respect for Jehovah’s judicial decisions, they were delivered from Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion, and restored to divine favor in 1919. Since then, and particularly since 1922, this faithful remnant have been fearlessly proclaiming Jehovah’s judgments against the churches and sects of Christendom and against the political nations.
6. (a) What did Zephaniah prophesy concerning the faithful remnant? (b) How has this prophecy been fulfilled?
6 Of this faithful remnant, Zephaniah prophesied: “I shall certainly let remain in the midst of you a people humble and lowly, and they will actually take refuge in the name of Jehovah. As regards the remaining ones of Israel, they will do no unrighteousness, nor speak a lie, nor will there be found in their mouths a tricky tongue; for they themselves will feed and actually lie stretched out, and there will be no one making them tremble.” (Zephaniah 3:12, 13) These anointed Christians have always kept Jehovah’s name to the fore, but especially so since 1931, when they adopted the name Jehovah’s Witnesses. (Isaiah 43:10-12) By highlighting the issue of Jehovah’s sovereignty, they have honored the divine name, and this has proved to be a refuge for them. (Proverbs 18:10) Jehovah has fed them spiritually in abundance, and they dwell without fear in a spiritual paradise.—Zephaniah 3:16, 17.
“A Name and a Praise Among All the Peoples”
7, 8. (a) What further prophecy has been fulfilled upon the remnant of spiritual Israel? (b) What have millions of people come to recognize, and what are your own feelings in this regard?
7 The remnant’s deep attachment to Jehovah’s name and to the righteous principles of his Word has not gone unnoticed. Sincere people have come to see the difference between the conduct of the remnant and the corruption and hypocrisy of this world’s political and religious leadership. Jehovah has blessed “the remaining ones of [spiritual] Israel.” He has honored them with the privilege of bearing his name, and he has caused them to have a fine reputation among the peoples of the earth. This is as prophesied by Zephaniah: “‘At that time I shall bring you people in, even in the time of my collecting you together. For I shall make you people to be a name and a praise among all the peoples of the earth, when I gather back your captive ones before your eyes,’ Jehovah has said.”—Zephaniah 3:20.
8 Since 1935, literally millions of people have come to recognize that Jehovah’s blessing is upon the remnant. They gladly follow these spiritual Jews, or Israelites, saying: “We will go with you people, for we have heard that God is with you.” (Zechariah 8:23) These “other sheep” see in the anointed remnant “the faithful and discreet slave,” appointed by Christ “over all his [earthly] belongings.” They thankfully partake of the spiritual food prepared by the slave class “at the proper time.”—John 10:16; Matthew 24:45-47.
9. What “language” have millions of people learned to speak, and in what great work are the other sheep serving “shoulder to shoulder” with the anointed remnant?
9 Alongside the remnant, these millions of other sheep are learning to live and speak in harmony with the “pure language.”* Jehovah prophesied through Zephaniah: “Then I shall give to peoples the change to a pure language, in order for them all to call upon the name of Jehovah, in order to serve him shoulder to shoulder.” (Zephaniah 3:9) Yes, the other sheep unitedly serve Jehovah “shoulder to shoulder” with the anointed members of the “little flock” in the urgent work of preaching “this good news of the kingdom . . . for a witness to all the nations.”—Luke 12:32; Matthew 24:14.
“Jehovah’s Day Will Come”
10. Of what have the anointed remnant always been convinced, and what, as a class, will they live to see?
10 The anointed remnant have constantly kept in mind the apostle Peter’s inspired statement: “Jehovah is not slow respecting his promise, as some people consider slowness, but he is patient with you because he does not desire any to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance. Yet Jehovah’s day will come as a thief.” (2 Peter 3:9, 10) Members of the faithful slave class have never entertained any doubts about the coming of Jehovah’s day in our time. That great day will begin with the execution of God’s judgments against Christendom, antitypical Jerusalem, and the remainder of Babylon the Great.—Zephaniah 1:2-4; Revelation 17:1, 5; 19:1, 2.
11, 12. (a) What other part of Zephaniah’s prophecy has been fulfilled upon the remnant? (b) How have the anointed remnant heeded the call, “May your hands not drop down”?
11 The faithful remnant rejoice to have been delivered in 1919 from spiritual captivity to Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion. They have experienced the fulfillment of Zephaniah’s prophecy: “Joyfully cry out, O daughter of Zion! Break out in cheers, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! Jehovah has removed the judgments upon you. He has turned away your enemy. The king of Israel, Jehovah, is in the midst of you. You will fear calamity no more. In that day it will be said to Jerusalem: ‘Do not be afraid, O Zion. May your hands not drop down. Jehovah your God is in the midst of you. As a mighty One, he will save.’”—Zephaniah 3:14-17.
12 With the conviction and abundant proof that Jehovah is in their midst, the anointed remnant have fearlessly gone forward in fulfilling their divine commission. They have preached the good news of the Kingdom and have made known Jehovah’s judgments against Christendom, the rest of Babylon the Great, and Satan’s entire wicked system of things. Through thick and thin, over the decades since 1919, they have obeyed the divine command: “Do not be afraid, O Zion. May your hands not drop down.” They have not slacked their hand in distributing billions of tracts, magazines, books, and booklets announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom. They have been a faith-inspiring example to the other sheep who, since 1935, have flocked to their side.
“May Your Hands Not Drop Down”
13, 14. (a) Why did some Jews draw back from serving Jehovah, and how did this become manifest? (b) What would it be unwise for us to do, and in what work should we not let our hands drop down?
13 While we ‘keep ourselves in expectation’ of Jehovah’s great day, how can we draw practical help from the prophecy of Zephaniah? First, we should beware of becoming like the Jews in Zephaniah’s day who drew back from following Jehovah because they entertained doubts about the nearness of Jehovah’s day. Such Jews did not necessarily express their doubts openly, but their course of action revealed that they did not really believe that Jehovah’s great day was near. They concentrated on amassing wealth instead of keeping themselves in expectation of Jehovah.—Zephaniah 1:12, 13; 3:8.
14 Today is no time to allow doubts to take root in our hearts. It would be very unwise to put off in our minds or hearts the coming of Jehovah’s day. (2 Peter 3:1-4, 10) We should avoid drawing back from following Jehovah or ‘letting our hands drop down’ in his service. This includes not “working with a slack hand” in our preaching “the good news.”—Proverbs 10:4; Mark 13:10.
15. What could cause us to slack our hand in Jehovah’s service, and how was this problem foretold in the prophecy of Zephaniah?
15 Second, we should be on guard against the debilitating effects of indifference. In many Western countries, unconcern about spiritual matters can become a cause for discouragement among some preachers of the good news. Such indifference existed in Zephaniah’s day. Jehovah stated through his prophet: “I will give attention to the men who are . . . saying in their heart, ‘Jehovah will not do good, and he will not do bad.’” (Zephaniah 1:12) Writing on this passage in the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, A. B. Davidson stated that it refers to people who have “sunk down into unfeeling indifference or even into incredulity regarding any interference of a higher power in the affairs of mankind.”
16. What state of mind exists among many members of Christendom’s churches, but what encouragement does Jehovah give us?
16 Indifference is the prevalent attitude today in many parts of the earth, particularly in the more affluent nations. Even members of Christendom’s churches simply do not believe that Jehovah God will intervene in human affairs in our day. They brush off our efforts to reach them with the good news of the Kingdom either with a skeptical smile or with a curt “I’m not interested!” Under these conditions, perseverance in the witnessing work can be a real challenge. It tests our endurance. But by means of Zephaniah’s prophecy, Jehovah invigorates his faithful people, saying: “May your hands not drop down. Jehovah your God is in the midst of you. As a mighty One, he will save. He will exult over you with rejoicing. He will become silent in his love. He will be joyful over you with happy cries.”—Zephaniah 3:16, 17.
17. What fine example should newer ones among the other sheep follow, and how?
17 It is a fact in the modern-day history of Jehovah’s people that the remnant, as well as older ones among the other sheep, have accomplished a tremendous ingathering work in these last days. All these faithful Christians have shown endurance over the decades. They have not allowed indifference on the part of the majority in Christendom to discourage them. So may the newer ones among the other sheep not let themselves be disheartened by the indifference toward spiritual matters that is so prevalent today in many lands. May they not allow their ‘hands to drop down,’ or fall limp. May they use every opportunity to present The Watchtower, Awake!, and other fine publications specially designed to help sheeplike people learn the truth about Jehovah’s day and the blessings to follow.
Forward While Awaiting the Great Day!
18 Jesus stated: “He that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved.” (Matthew 24:13) So, no “weak hands” or ‘wobbly knees’ as we await Jehovah’s great day! (Isaiah 35:3, 4) Zephaniah’s prophecy reassuringly states concerning Jehovah: “As a mighty One, he will save.” (Zephaniah 3:17) Yes, Jehovah will save the “great crowd” through the final phase of “the great tribulation,” when he orders his Son to dash to pieces the political nations who keep “putting on great airs” against his people.—Revelation 7:9, 14; Zephaniah 2:10, 11; Psalm 2:7-9.
19 As the great day of Jehovah approaches, may we go forward zealously, serving him “shoulder to shoulder”! (Zephaniah 3:9) So doing, we ourselves and countless others will be put in line to be “concealed in the day of Jehovah’s anger” and witness the sanctification of his holy name.
□ In what respects does the religious situation within Christendom correspond to that of Zephaniah’s day?
□ How do many political leaders today resemble the secular “princes” at the time of Zephaniah?
□ What promises in Zephaniah have been fulfilled upon the remnant?
□ What have millions of people come to recognize?
□ Why should we not let our hands drop down in Jehovah’s service?
[Pictures on page 15]
Like Zephaniah, the faithful remnant of anointed Christians have been fearlessly proclaiming Jehovah’s judgments
[Pictures on page 18]
The “other sheep” have not allowed people’s indifference to discourage them