“Take Refuge in the Name of Jehovah”
“I shall certainly let remain . . . a people humble and lowly, and they will actually take refuge in the name of Jehovah.”—ZEPH. 3:12.
1, 2. What figurative storm will soon strike mankind?
HAVE you ever had to take refuge from a rainstorm or a hailstorm by seeking cover under a bridge? A bridge might well offer you adequate shelter from a rainstorm or a hailstorm, but it would probably provide little protection from a tornado or a hurricane.
2 A different type of storm is approaching—one that threatens the very existence of the human race. It is a figurative “day of storm.” This “great day of Jehovah” will affect all mankind. However, we can find the refuge we need. (Read Zephaniah 1:14-18.) How can we do so during “the day of Jehovah’s fury” that is soon to begin?
Days of Storm in Bible Times
3. What “thunderous storm” came upon the ten-tribe kingdom of Israel?
3 The day of Jehovah will break out with the destruction of all false religious systems on earth. As to how to find refuge, we can look for the answer in the history of God’s ancient people. Isaiah, who lived in the eighth century B.C.E., likened Jehovah’s judgment on the apostate ten-tribe kingdom of Israel to a “thunderous storm” that people would not be able to prevent. (Read Isaiah 28:1, 2.) That prophecy found fulfillment in 740 B.C.E. when Assyria invaded the land of those tribes, Ephraim being the most prominent of the ten.
4. How did a “great day of Jehovah” strike Jerusalem in 607 B.C.E.?
4 The judgment against unfaithful Israel was followed in 607 B.C.E. by a “great day of Jehovah” against Jerusalem and the kingdom of Judah. That event occurred because the people of Judah had also turned apostate. The Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar threatened Judah and its capital, Jerusalem. The Judeans had turned for help to “the refuge of a lie,” that is, to their political alliance with Egypt. Nevertheless, like a destructive hailstorm, the Babylonians swept away that “refuge.”—Isa. 28:14, 17.
5. How will God’s people as a group fare during the destruction of all false religion?
5 The great day of Jehovah that struck Jerusalem was an indication of the judgment to come upon apostate Christendom in our time. Furthermore, the rest of “Babylon the Great,” the world empire of false religion, will be destroyed. Thereafter, the remaining parts of Satan’s wicked system of things will be annihilated. Yet, God’s people as a group will survive because they are taking refuge in Jehovah.—Rev. 7:14; 18:2, 8; 19:19-21.
Spiritual and Physical Refuge
6. How can Jehovah’s people find refuge?
6 How can God’s people find refuge even now during this time of the end? We find spiritual refuge by prayerfully “thinking upon [God’s] name” and by serving him zealously. (Read Malachi 3:16-18.) We can appreciate, though, that we need to do more than just think upon his name. We read: “Everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.” (Rom. 10:13) There is a connection between calling on Jehovah’s name and the resulting salvation by him. And many honesthearted people can see the difference between true Christians, who are reverently “thinking upon his name” and serving as his Witnesses, and those of mankind who are not serving him.
7, 8. In what way did first-century Christians experience physical salvation, with what parallel today?
7 Still, the salvation available to us is not limited to finding spiritual refuge. Physical salvation is promised for God’s people. We see indication of this in what happened in 66 C.E. after a Roman army under Cestius Gallus attacked Jerusalem. Jesus had foretold that the days of that tribulation would be “cut short.” (Matt. 24:15, 16, 21, 22) That happened when the Roman forces unexpectedly abandoned the siege of the city, which allowed some “flesh,” namely true Christians, to be “saved.” They were able to flee the city and the surrounding area. Some crossed the Jordan and found refuge in the mountains on the eastern side of that river.
8 We can draw a parallel between those Christians and God’s people today. In the past, first-century Christians sought refuge, and God’s servants today will do likewise. However, this time it will not involve an actual flight to a single geographic spot, for true Christians are located all around the globe. Still, as a people, “the chosen ones” and their loyal companions will physically survive the end of apostate Christendom by taking refuge in Jehovah and his mountainlike organization.
9. Who have tried to cause Jehovah’s name to be forgotten? Give an example.
9 On the other hand, Christendom deserves the coming destruction for contributing to the spiritual illiteracy common among churchgoers and for its manifest hatred of God’s name. In the Middle Ages, God’s personal name was rather widely known in Europe. That name, represented by four Hebrew letters called the Tetragrammaton and commonly transliterated YHWH (or JHVH), appeared on coins, on facades of houses, in many books and Bibles, and even in some Catholic and Protestant churches. However, the trend in recent times is to eliminate the name of God from Bible translations and from other uses. One indication of this is the Letter to the Bishops’ Conferences on ‘the Name of God,’ dated June 29, 2008, issued by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments. In it the Roman Catholic Church advised that the Tetragrammaton in its various renderings should be replaced by “Lord.” The Vatican instructed that God’s personal name should not be used or pronounced in hymns and prayers during Catholic religious services. And the leaders of other religions inside and outside of Christendom have also hidden the identity of the true God from millions upon millions of worshippers.
Protection for Those Sanctifying God’s Name
10. How is God’s name being honored today?
10 In stark contrast with what other religions are doing, Jehovah’s Witnesses honor and glorify the divine name. They sanctify it by using it in a dignified way. Jehovah takes pleasure in those who trust in him, and he becomes whatever is necessary to bless and protect his people. “He is cognizant of those seeking refuge in him.”—Nah. 1:7; Acts 15:14.
11, 12. Who upheld Jehovah’s name in ancient Judah, and who have done so in modern times?
11 Although the majority in ancient Judah had become apostate, there were some who took “refuge in the name of Jehovah.” (Read Zephaniah 3:12, 13.) Yes, when God punished faithless Judah by allowing the Babylonians to conquer the land and take her people captive, some individuals, such as Jeremiah, Baruch, and Ebed-melech, were spared. They had lived “in the midst” of an apostate nation. Others stayed faithful while in captivity. In 539 B.C.E., the Medes and Persians under Cyrus conquered Babylon. Cyrus soon issued a decree allowing a Jewish remnant to return to their homeland.
12 Regarding those who would enjoy that restoration of true worship, Zephaniah foretold that Jehovah would save them and rejoice over them. (Read Zephaniah 3:14-17.) This has proved true in our time too. After God’s Kingdom was set up in heaven, Jehovah delivered the faithful remnant of anointed ones from spiritual captivity to Babylon the Great. And he rejoices over them down to this day.
13. What liberation are people of all nations experiencing?
13 Those with the hope of living forever on earth have also got out of Babylon the Great and enjoy spiritual liberation from false religious teachings. (Rev. 18:4) Thus, Zephaniah 2:3 finds its major fulfillment in our time: “Seek Jehovah, all you meek ones of the earth.” Meek ones of all nations, whether they cherish the heavenly or the earthly hope, are now taking refuge in Jehovah’s name.
God’s Name Is Not a Talisman
14, 15. (a) What have some used as talismans? (b) What should not be used as a charm?
14 Some Israelites viewed the temple as a talisman that would protect them from enemies. (Jer. 7:1-4) Earlier, Israelites viewed the ark of the covenant as a charm that would protect them in battle. (1 Sam. 4:3, 10, 11) Constantine the Great painted the Greek letters khi and rho, the first two letters of the title “Christ” in Greek, on his soldiers’ shields in hopes of protecting his soldiers in battle. And King Gustav Adolph II of Sweden, who fought in the Thirty Years’ War, is thought to have worn the armor shown on page 7. Note that the name Iehova is featured prominently on the collar.
15 Some of God’s people who have been attacked by demons have found refuge in Jehovah by calling his name out loud. Still, an object that features God’s name should not be considered a talisman or used as a charm in everyday life as if it had some magical power of protection. This is not what it means to take refuge in the name of Jehovah.
Taking Refuge Today
16. Spiritually, how can we take refuge today?
16 We find refuge today in the spiritual security enjoyed by God’s people as a whole. (Ps. 91:1) Through “the faithful and discreet slave” and elders in the congregation, we are alerted to trends in the world that could endanger that security. (Matt. 24:45-47; Isa. 32:1, 2) Think of how often we have been warned about materialism, and consider how such warnings have protected us from spiritual calamity. And what about the danger of developing an easygoing attitude, which could lead to our becoming inactive in Jehovah’s service? God’s Word says: “The easygoingness of the stupid is what will destroy them. As for the one listening to me, he will reside in security and be undisturbed from dread of calamity.” (Prov. 1:32, 33) Striving to keep morally clean also helps us to maintain our spiritual security.
17, 18. What is helping millions to take refuge in the name of Jehovah today?
17 Think, too, of the encouragement from the faithful slave to follow Jesus’ command to preach the good news of the Kingdom in all the inhabited earth. (Matt. 24:14; 28:19, 20) Zephaniah mentioned a change that would help people to take refuge in God’s name. We read: “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.”—Zeph. 3:9.
18 What is this pure language? The pure language is the truth about Jehovah God and his purposes as found in his inspired Word. You are in a sense using that language when you share with others the correct understanding of God’s Kingdom and how it will sanctify his name, when you stress the vindication of God’s sovereignty, and when you happily talk about the everlasting blessings faithful humans will enjoy. As a result of so many speaking this figurative language, a growing number are ‘calling upon the name of Jehovah’ and ‘serving him shoulder to shoulder.’ Yes, millions around the world are now finding refuge in Jehovah.—Ps. 1:1, 3.
19, 20. How did trusting in a “refuge of a lie” fail in Bible times?
19 People in the world have to deal with seemingly insurmountable problems. Desperate to solve their problems, many look to imperfect men. Or they hope for solutions from political institutions, even as ancient Israel at times looked to neighboring nations for support, making alliances with them. Yet, you know that doing so did not help Israel. And no political state today, nor the United Nations organization, will fully solve mankind’s problems. So why should one regard political institutions and alliances as a refuge? The Bible prophetically calls them a “refuge of a lie.” You can rightly view them as such because all individuals who hope in them will be sorely disappointed.—Read Isaiah 28:15, 17.
20 Soon the figurative hailstorm of Jehovah’s day will strike the earth. Human schemes will not be able to provide protection; neither will nuclear shelters nor wealth. Isaiah 28:17 points out: “The hail must sweep away the refuge of a lie, and the waters themselves will flood out the very place of concealment.”
21. What benefit can we enjoy by following the yeartext for 2011?
21 Both now and during that future development, God’s people will find real security in their God, Jehovah. Zephaniah’s name, meaning “Jehovah Has Concealed,” points to this true source of concealment. Fittingly, we have as the yeartext for 2011 the wise advice: “Take refuge in the name of Jehovah.” (Zeph. 3:12) Even now we can and should take refuge in the name of Jehovah, trusting in him implicitly. (Ps. 9:10) Let us daily keep in mind this inspired assurance: “The name of Jehovah is a strong tower. Into it the righteous runs and is given protection.”—Prov. 18:10.
Do You Recall?
• How can we take refuge in Jehovah’s name now?
• Why should we not trust in “the refuge of a lie”?
• What refuge is assured us for the future?
[Blurb on page 6]
The yeartext for 2011 is: “Take refuge in the name of Jehovah.”—Zephaniah 3:12.
[Picture Credit Line on page 7]
Thüringer Landesmuseum Heidecksburg Rudolstadt, Waffensammlung “Schwarzburger Zeughaus”