Salvation for Those Who Choose the Light
“Jehovah is my light and my salvation. Of whom shall I be in fear?”—PSALM 27:1.
1. What life-giving provisions does Jehovah make?
JEHOVAH is the Source of the sunlight that makes life possible on earth. (Genesis 1:2, 14) He is also the Creator of spiritual light, which dispels the death-dealing darkness of Satan’s world. (Isaiah 60:2; 2 Corinthians 4:6; Ephesians 5:8-11; 6:12) Those who choose the light can say with the psalmist: “Jehovah is my light and my salvation. Of whom shall I be in fear?” (Psalm 27:1a) However, as happened in Jesus’ time, those who prefer the darkness can only expect an unfavorable judgment.—John 1:9-11; 3:19-21, 36.
2. In ancient times, what happened to those who rejected Jehovah’s light and to those who listened to his word?
2 In the days of Isaiah, most of Jehovah’s covenant people rejected the light. As a result, Isaiah saw the destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel as a nation. And in 607 B.C.E., Jerusalem and its temple were destroyed and the inhabitants of Judah carried off into exile. However, those who listened to Jehovah’s word were strengthened to resist the apostasy of those days. Regarding 607 B.C.E., Jehovah promised that those who listened to him would survive. (Jeremiah 21:8, 9) Today, we who love the light can learn much from what happened back then.—Ephesians 5:5.
The Happiness of Those in the Light
3. Today, what confidence can we have, what “righteous nation” do we love, and what “strong city” does that “nation” have?
3 “We have a strong city. [God] sets salvation itself for walls and rampart. Open the gates, you men, that the righteous nation that is keeping faithful conduct may enter.” (Isaiah 26:1, 2) These are the exultant words of people who trusted in Jehovah. Faithful Jews in Isaiah’s day looked to Jehovah, not to the false gods of their fellow countrymen, as the only real Source of security. Today, we have the same confidence. Moreover, we love Jehovah’s “righteous nation”—“the Israel of God.” (Galatians 6:16; Matthew 21:43) Jehovah too loves this nation because of its faithful conduct. With his blessing, the Israel of God has “a strong city,” a citylike organization that supports and protects it.
4. What mental attitude do we do well to cultivate?
4 Those within this “city” are well aware that “the inclination that is well supported [Jehovah] will safeguard in continuous peace, because it is in [Jehovah] that one is made to trust.” Jehovah supports those mentally inclined to trust in him and comply with his righteous principles. Thus, the faithful ones in Judah heeded Isaiah’s exhortation: “Trust in Jehovah, you people, for all times, for in Jah Jehovah is the Rock of times indefinite.” (Isaiah 26:3, 4; Psalm 9:10; 37:3; Proverbs 3:5) Those with that mind-set look to “Jah Jehovah” as the only secure Rock. They enjoy “continuous peace” with him.—Philippians 1:2; 4:6, 7.
Humiliation for God’s Enemies
5, 6. (a) How was ancient Babylon humiliated? (b) In what way was “Babylon the Great” humiliated?
5 What if those who trust in Jehovah suffer tribulation? They need not fear. Jehovah allows such things for a time, but eventually he brings relief, and those causing the tribulation face his judgment. (2 Thessalonians 1:4-7; 2 Timothy 1:8-10) Consider the case of a certain “elevated town.” Isaiah says: “[Jehovah] has laid low those inhabiting the height, the elevated town. He abases it, he abases it to the earth; he brings it in touch with the dust. The foot will trample it down, the feet of the afflicted one, the steps of the lowly ones.” (Isaiah 26:5, 6) The elevated town here mentioned may be Babylon. That city certainly afflicted God’s people. But what happened to Babylon? In 539 B.C.E., it fell to the Medes and the Persians. What an abasement!
6 In our day Isaiah’s prophetic words well describe what has happened to “Babylon the Great” since 1919. That elevated town suffered a humiliating fall in that year when it was forced to release Jehovah’s people from spiritual captivity. (Revelation 14:8) What occurred next was even more humiliating. That small band of Christians turned to ‘trampling down’ their old captor. In 1922 they began to announce the coming end of Christendom, publicizing the four angelic trumpet blasts of Revelation 8:7-12 and the three woes foretold at Revelation 9:1–11:15.
“The Path of the Righteous One Is Uprightness”
7. What guidance do those who turn to Jehovah’s light receive, in whom do they hope, and what do they cherish?
7 Jehovah provides salvation for those who turn to his light, and he guides their path, as Isaiah next shows: “The path of the righteous one is uprightness. You being upright, you will smooth out the very course of a righteous one. Yes, for the path of your judgments, O Jehovah, we have hoped in you. For your name and for your memorial the desire of the soul has been.” (Isaiah 26:7, 8) Jehovah is a righteous God, and those who worship him must observe his righteous standards. When they do, Jehovah guides them, smoothing their course. By heeding his guidance, these meek ones show that they hope in Jehovah and wholeheartedly cherish his name—his “memorial.”—Exodus 3:15.
8. What exemplary attitude did Isaiah display?
8 Isaiah cherished Jehovah’s name. That is evident from his next words: “With my soul I have desired you in the night; yes, with my spirit within me I keep looking for you; because, when there are judgments from you for the earth, righteousness is what the inhabitants of the productive land will certainly learn.” (Isaiah 26:9) Isaiah desired Jehovah ‘with his soul’—with his whole being. Picture the prophet using the quiet times of the night to pray to Jehovah, expressing his deepest thoughts and ardently seeking Jehovah’s guidance. What a fine example! Moreover, Isaiah learned righteousness from Jehovah’s judgment acts. In this, he reminds us of the need for constant vigilance, keeping alert to discern Jehovah’s will.
Some Choose the Darkness
9, 10. What acts of kindness did Jehovah perform toward his unfaithful nation, but how did they respond?
9 Jehovah showed great loving-kindness to Judah, but unhappily not all responded. Frequently, the majority chose rebellion and apostasy rather than the light of Jehovah’s truth. Isaiah said: “Though the wicked one should be shown favor, he simply will not learn righteousness. In the land of straightforwardness he will act unjustly and will not see the eminence of Jehovah.”—Isaiah 26:10.
10 In Isaiah’s day when Jehovah’s hand protected Judah against her enemies, the majority refused to recognize this. When he blessed them with his peace, the nation showed no gratitude. Hence, Jehovah abandoned them to serve “other masters,” finally letting the Jews be taken off to captivity in Babylon in 607 B.C.E. (Isaiah 26:11-13) Still, eventually a remnant of the nation returned, chastened, to their homeland.
11, 12. (a) What future did Judah’s captors have? (b) In 1919 what future did the former captor of Jehovah’s anointed servants have?
11 What about Judah’s captors? Isaiah prophetically answers: “They are dead; they will not live. Impotent in death, they will not rise up. Therefore you have turned your attention that you might annihilate them and destroy all mention of them.” (Isaiah 26:14) Yes, after her fall in 539 B.C.E., Babylon had no future. In time, the city would be no more. She would be “impotent in death,” and her huge empire consigned to the history books. What a warning for those who hope in the powerful ones of this world!
12 Aspects of this prophecy had a fulfillment when God allowed his anointed servants to go into spiritual captivity in 1918 and then liberated them in 1919. From that point on, the future of their former captor, principally Christendom, was bleak. But the blessings in store for Jehovah’s people were rich indeed.
“You Have Added to the Nation”
13, 14. What rich blessings have Jehovah’s anointed servants enjoyed since 1919?
13 God blessed the repentant spirit of his anointed servants in 1919 and gave them increase. First, attention was given to gathering the final members of the Israel of God, and then “a great crowd” of “other sheep” began to be gathered. (Revelation 7:9; John 10:16) These blessings were foretold in Isaiah’s prophecy: “You have added to the nation; O Jehovah, you have added to the nation; you have glorified yourself. You have extended afar all the borders of the land. O Jehovah, during distress they have turned their attention to you; they have poured out a whisper of prayer when they had your disciplining.”—Isaiah 26:15, 16.
14 Today, the borders of the Israel of God have spread around the earth, and the great crowd that has been added now numbers some six million enthusiastic sharers in the work of preaching the good news. (Matthew 24:14) What a blessing from Jehovah! And what glory this brings to his name! That name is heard today in 235 lands—a wonderful fulfillment of his promise.
15. What symbolic resurrection occurred in 1919?
15 Judah needed Jehovah’s help to escape from captivity in Babylon. They could not have done it on their own. (Isaiah 26:17, 18) Similarly, the liberation of the Israel of God in 1919 was proof of Jehovah’s support. It could not have happened without him. And so startling was the change in their condition that Isaiah likens it to a resurrection: “Your dead ones will live. A corpse of mine—they will rise up. Awake and cry out joyfully, you residents in the dust! For your dew is as the dew of mallows, and the earth itself will let even those impotent in death drop in birth.” (Isaiah 26:19; Revelation 11:7-11) Yes, those impotent in death would, as it were, be reborn for renewed activity!
Protection in Dangerous Times
16, 17. (a) In 539 B.C.E., what did the Jews need to do in order to survive the fall of Babylon? (b) Likely, what are the “interior rooms” today, and how do they benefit us?
16 Jehovah’s servants always need his protection. Soon, though, he will stretch out his hand for the last time against Satan’s world, and his worshipers will need his help as never before. (1 John 5:19) Regarding that dangerous time, Jehovah warns us: “Go, my people, enter into your interior rooms, and shut your doors behind you. Hide yourself for but a moment until the denunciation passes over. For, look! Jehovah is coming forth from his place to call to account the error of the inhabitant of the land against him, and the land will certainly expose her bloodshed and will no longer cover over her killed ones.” (Isaiah 26:20, 21; Zephaniah 1:14) This warning showed the Jews how to survive the fall of Babylon in 539 B.C.E. Those who heeded it would have stayed in their houses, safe from the conquering soldiers out in the streets.
17 Today, the “interior rooms” of the prophecy likely have to do with the tens of thousands of congregations of Jehovah’s people around the world. Such congregations are a protection even now, a place where Christians find safety among their brothers, under the loving care of the elders. (Isaiah 32:1, 2; Hebrews 10:24, 25) This is especially true in view of the nearness of the end of this system of things when survival will depend on obedience.—Zephaniah 2:3.
18. How will Jehovah soon “kill the sea monster”?
18 Regarding that time, Isaiah prophesies: “In that day Jehovah, with his hard and great and strong sword, will turn his attention to Leviathan, the gliding serpent, even to Leviathan, the crooked serpent, and he will certainly kill the sea monster that is in the sea.” (Isaiah 27:1) What is the modern-day “Leviathan”? Apparently, it is “the original serpent,” Satan himself, along with his wicked system of things, which he uses to wage war against the Israel of God. (Revelation 12:9, 10, 17; 13:14, 16, 17) In 1919, Leviathan lost its hold on God’s people. In time, it will disappear altogether. (Revelation 19:19-21; 20:1-3, 10) Thus, Jehovah will “kill the sea monster.” Meantime, nothing that Leviathan may try against Jehovah’s people will have lasting success. (Isaiah 54:17) How comforting to be assured of that!
“A Vineyard of Foaming Wine”
19. What is the condition of the remnant today?
19 In view of all this light from Jehovah, do we not have every reason to rejoice? Yes, indeed! Isaiah beautifully describes the joy of Jehovah’s people when he writes: “In that day sing to her, you people: ‘A vineyard of foaming wine! I, Jehovah, am safeguarding her. Every moment I shall water her. In order that no one may turn his attention against her, I shall safeguard her even night and day.’” (Isaiah 27:2, 3) Jehovah has cared for his “vineyard,” the remnant of the Israel of God, and for their hardworking associates. (John 15:1-8) The result has been fruitage that brings glory to his name and causes great rejoicing among his servants on earth.
20. How does Jehovah protect the Christian congregation?
20 We can be thrilled that Jehovah’s earlier anger against his anointed servants—because of which he allowed them to go into spiritual captivity in 1918—has ceased. Jehovah himself says: “There is no rage that I have. Who will give me thornbushes and weeds in the battle? I will step on such. I will set such on fire at the same time. Otherwise let him take hold of my stronghold, let him make peace with me; peace let him make with me.” (Isaiah 27:4, 5) To ensure that his vines continue to produce an abundance of “foaming wine,” Jehovah crushes and consumes any weedlike influence that could corrupt them. Hence, let no one endanger the welfare of the Christian congregation! Let all ‘take hold of Jehovah’s stronghold,’ seeking his favor and protection. In so doing, we make peace with God—something of such importance that Isaiah mentions it twice.—Psalm 85:1, 2, 8; Romans 5:1.
21. In what way has the productive land been filled with “produce”?
21 The blessings continue: “In the coming days Jacob will take root, Israel will put forth blossoms and actually sprout; and they will simply fill the surface of the productive land with produce.” (Isaiah 27:6) This verse has been fulfilled since 1919, providing wonderful evidence of Jehovah’s power. Anointed Christians have filled the earth with “produce,” nourishing spiritual food. In the midst of a corrupt world, they joyfully preserve God’s elevated standards. And Jehovah continues to bless them with increase. As a result, their millions of companions, the other sheep, “are rendering [God] sacred service day and night.” (Revelation 7:15) May we never lose sight of the grand privilege of partaking of “produce” and sharing it with others!
22. What blessings come to those who accept the light?
22 In these critical times, when darkness covers the earth and gross darkness the national groups, are we not thankful that Jehovah sheds spiritual light upon his people? (Isaiah 60:2; Romans 2:19; 13:12) For all who accept it, such light means peace of mind and joy now and nothing less than everlasting life in the future. With good reason, then, we who love the light lift up our hearts in praise to Jehovah and say with the psalmist: “Jehovah is the stronghold of my life. Of whom shall I be in dread? Hope in Jehovah; be courageous and let your heart be strong. Yes, hope in Jehovah.”—Psalm 27:1b, 14.
Do You Recall?
• What future is there for those who oppress Jehovah’s people?
• What increase is prophesied in Isaiah?
• Within what “interior rooms” should we remain, and why?
• Why does the condition of Jehovah’s people bring praise to him?
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Most of the information discussed in these two study articles was presented as a talk on the district convention program for 2000/2001. At the end of the talk, a new publication was released, entitled Isaiah’s Prophecy—Light for All Mankind I. This 416-page book contains a verse-by-verse discussion of the first 40 chapters of the book of Isaiah.
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Only the righteous are allowed in Jehovah’s “strong city,” his organization
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Isaiah sought Jehovah “in the night”
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Jehovah protects his “vineyard” and makes it fruitful