A continuation of the consideration of Jeremiah.
In the 13th chapter of Jeremiah God instructed his prophet to tie a linen belt around his waist. Then he was to trek north to the Euphrates River and bury the belt in a cleft along the banks of the river. Sometime later Jeremiah was ordered to go retrieve the linen belt he had buried and it was ruined. The lesson: God’s people were like that belt. Jehovah intended to wear them, as it were. His people were supposed to be an attractive and useful accessory. Instead, they became worthless because they refused to honor God.
As is the commonality of nearly all the ancient Hebrew prophetic books, Jehovah announced His intention to destroy Jerusalem, saying to Jeremiah: “In the same way I will destroy the pride of Judah and the immense pride of Jerusalem. These evil people who refuse to obey my words, who stubbornly follow their own heart, and who are following other gods, serving and bowing down to them, will become just like this belt that is completely useless.” — Jeremiah 13:8-10
Notice the adjective connected to “pride.” It is not simply that the people of Jerusalem were proud. Their pride was abundant—“immense”—like the latest version of the NWT renders it. No doubt because Jerusalem was the earthly center of pure worship back then, being the capital city of David’s everlasting kingdom and home to Solomon’s magnificent temple on the pinnacle of Mount Zion, the Jews felt immense pride. Of all the cities on earth, Jerusalem was the place where Jehovah caused his grand name to reside.
When Judah was invaded by the unstoppable Assyrian juggernaut in the days of King Hezekiah Jerusalem faced certain doom—except Jehovah intervened to save His city, sending an angel who wiped out Sennacherib’s army. That is why when the king of Babylon began laying siege to Jerusalem the Jews who had previously persecuted Jeremiah summoned him and requested that he inquire of Jehovah. Here is what they said to the prophet: “Please inquire of Jehovah in our behalf, because King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon is waging war against us. Perhaps Jehovah will perform one of his wonderful works in our behalf, so that he will withdraw from us.” — Jeremiah 21:2
Of course, Jehovah could have easily dispatched the Chaldean invaders just as He had the Assyrians, but this time was different. Jehovah would not be performing any wonderful work on their behalf. Jerusalem was doomed because God had turned against it. Jeremiah related Jehovah’s chilling response to their inquiry: “This is what Jehovah the God of Israel says: ‘Here I am turning around against you the weapons of war that are in your own hands, with which you are fighting the king of Babylon and the Chaldeans who are outside the wall besieging you. And I will gather them into the middle of this city. And I myself will fight against you with an outstretched hand and a mighty arm, with anger and wrath and great indignation. I will strike the inhabitants of this city, both man and beast. By a great pestilence they will die.”’ — Jeremiah 21:4-6
It is a terrible thing when God becomes your enemy and fights against you in anger and indignation. There is nothing anyone can do to alter God’s judgment once it has been determined. That is why God stated the following: “Then Jehovah said to me: ‘Even if Moses and Samuel were standing before me, I would show no favor toward this people. Drive them out from before me. Let them go. And if they say to you, ‘Where should we go?’ you must say to them, ‘This is what Jehovah says: “Whoever is for deadly plague, to deadly plague! Whoever is for the sword, to the sword! Whoever is for the famine, to the famine! And whoever is for the captivity, to the captivity!”’ — Jeremiah 15:1-2
After the exodus from Egypt Moses stood before Jehovah as the mediator of the Law covenant. Once when Jehovah expressed his determination to exterminate the entire Israelite camp Moses intervened and pleaded on the basis that it would bring reproach on God’s name among the nations. What would people say who knew that Jehovah had rescued the Hebrews from Egypt only to exterminate them in the wilderness? But even if Moses were alive during the days of Jeremiah Jehovah would not allow himself to be swayed. The Jews had kindled a fire in God’s anger and there would be no extinguishing it, as God expressed: “For a fire has been ignited by my anger, and it is burning against you.” — Jeremiah 15:14
Throughout the book of Jeremiah, as well as Ezekiel, Jehovah God revealed that His judgments were going to be expressed by means of the sword, famine, and pestilence. Jehovah’s Witnesses should immediately recognize the pattern. That is because Jesus foretold that the desolation of “Jerusalem” would be immediately preceded by kingdom warring against kingdom, food shortages, and pestilences. The horses of the Apocalypse signify the same thing—the sword, famine, and pestilence.
Needless to say, the First World War did not in any way commence God’s judgment phase. The reason that it did not is because 1914 was not the beginning pangs of distress. It is coming.
It should be noted too, although the NWT Reference Bible makes no reference to it, the expression quoted above “whoever is for the captivity, to the captivity,” appears nearly verbatim in the 13th chapter of Revelation, where we read: “If anyone has an ear, let him hear. If anyone is meant for captivity, he will go into captivity. If anyone will kill with the sword, he must be killed with the sword. This is where it calls for endurance and faith on the part of the holy ones.”
So, the judgment contained in Jeremiah relates expressly to the holy ones. Indeed, as Jesus often said: “If anyone has an ear, let him hear!”
To be sure, when foretelling the second desolation of Jerusalem Jesus was not merely speaking in terms of a localized calamity or something confined to the first century. No, Christ foretold that these calamities would engulf the entire earth in what is destined to culminate in a great tribulation such as has never occurred before nor will ever occur again.
The prophecy of Jeremiah, ostensibly relating to pre-Christian Jerusalem and nations of the ancient past, in reality, likewise, foreshadows the expression of Jehovah’s anger on a global scale.
After denouncing the Jews for their stubborn refusal to obey Jehovah Jeremiah was ordered to pronounce God’s judgments on all the nations surrounding Jerusalem. It is doubtful if Jeremiah literally communicated with the kings of those many nations back then. Again, though, this is merely a pattern for what is to come since the global nature of the judgments expressed is evident by the following passage: “And you are to prophesy all these words to them and say to them, ‘From on high Jehovah will roar, and from his holy dwelling he will make his voice heard. He will roar loudly against his abiding place. Shouting like those treading the winepress, He will sing triumphantly against all the inhabitants of the earth. A noise will resound to the ends of the earth, for Jehovah has a controversy with the nations. He will personally pass judgment on all humans. And he will put the wicked to the sword,’ declares Jehovah. This is what Jehovah of armies says: ‘Look! A calamity is spreading from nation to nation, and a great tempest will be unleashed from the remotest parts of the earth.” — Jeremiah 25:30-32
Since Jeremiah was written five centuries before the Christian era began we have since come to know that Jehovah has entrusted Jesus with all authority and power. It is Christ who will war against the nations and put the wicked to death with the long sword of his mouth when he comes in the name of Jehovah.
What does it mean that Jehovah “will roar loudly against his abiding place”? His representative abiding place was the temple, which the Babylonians plundered and then burned. What about when Christ comes to conquer all of Jehovah’s enemies? From the first century onward God has abided in a spiritual temple. What exactly is the spiritual temple? Simply put, it is Christ’s congregation.
It matters not what people think it is, or what they claim they are. Christ knows who and what belongs to him and what does not. That is why when the masses of pseudo believers announce their allegiance to Jesus, calling him “Lord, Lord,” Jesus will respond: “I never knew you.” In other words, Jesus does not recognize the vast majority of nominal Christians as actually being his followers.
But even those within God’s holy abiding place, the congregation what Jesus recognizes, what about them? The apostle Peter explained that even those who have been called will have to walk through the fire, as it were. The apostle stated: “For it is the appointed time for the judgment to start with the house of God. Now if it starts first with us, what will the outcome be for those who are not obedient to the good news of God? “And if the righteous man is being saved with difficulty, what will happen to the ungodly man and the sinner?”” — 1 Peter 4:17-18
Although anointed Christians have always been under God’s judgment since it must be determined during their lifetime if each will be faithful to their heavenly calling, there is, however, a final judgment when all living will be judged together. As stated in the 25th chapter of Jeremiah, “He will personally pass judgment on all humans.” So, the judgment of all humanity commences with the house of God, which is to say—Christ’s congregation.
This same ordering of events is verified in the 25th chapter of Jeremiah where God spoke to the nations, posing the question to them: “For look! if I am bringing calamity first on the city that bears my name, should you go unpunished?” (vs 29)
Again, human opinions do not factor in. The fact is, the Watchtower and Jehovah’s Witnesses are—for good or bad—inseparably linked with the personal name of God.
Just as the first-century followers of Jesus by divine providence eventually became known as Christians, there should be no question that William Tyndale’s final prayer before he was executed—“Lord, open the King of England’s eyes”— was answered in the form of the King James Authorized Version of the Bible, the first English Bible approved for distribution.
Although the translators neglected to translate YHWH as the unique personal name of God in most of the nearly 7,000 thousand places it appeared in the Hebrew, evidently, it was by divine providence that “Jehovah” was used in four places in the king’s authorized Bible. That was enough for honest-hearted seekers to accept.
Since its introduction into English four centuries ago other translations have used the name Jehovah throughout. But in 1931 the International Bible Students officially became known as Jehovah’s Witnesses. Again, we may assume it was by divine providence since it is Jehovah’s stated will to have His name declared throughout the earth.
When the Watchtower began publishing the New World Translation some 70 years ago the name Jehovah was even used in the so-called New Testament where it seemed appropriate. Now the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society releases on average three new translations every month, publishing the New World Translation in nearly 200 languages with God’s name expressed in the appropriate vernacular.
In view of the facts, only the most truth adverse persons would deny that the Watchtower organization bears God’s name in the modern world, just as did Jerusalem in the time of Jeremiah. That means the judgment must begin on the “city”—or organization—that bears God’s name. My purpose has always been to publicize this truth. It does not matter if they do not listen. The Jews refused to listen to Jeremiah.
Just as Ezekiel and the apostle John were said to have eaten God’s words, at Jeremiah 15:16 the prophet stated the following: “Your words were found, and I ate them; and your word became to me the exultation and the rejoicing of my heart, for your name has been called on me, O Jehovah God of armies.”
Exactly 25 years ago I became obsessed with reading the Hebrew prophecies. It is as if I have consumed God’s words over the course of many months so that it has become part of me. Even if at times it seems pointless to keep going with publishing Jehovah’s judgments, it is as if a fire burns within me. Jeremiah experienced this and wrote: “‘I am not going to make mention of him, and I will speak no more in his name.’ But in my heart it became like a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was tired of holding it in; I could no longer endure it.” — Jeremiah 20:9
Like Jeremiah, God’s name has been called upon me, as I have willingly embraced the name despite having been disfellowshipped from the organization. From the standpoint of the leaders of the Watchtower, I am one of the most despicable and dangerous apostates. Ask any circuit overseer what they think about e-watchman and chances are they will denounce me as an apostate. In that respect no doubt they would rejoice if I were to give up and denounce Jehovah or go off and start a new religion or in some other way deny the truth. As Jeremiah experienced, I also have become the enemy of God’s people. Jeremiah wrote: “For I heard many evil rumors; terror surrounded me. ‘Denounce him; let us denounce him!’ Every man wishing me peace was watching for my downfall: “Perhaps he will make a foolish mistake, and we can prevail and take our revenge against him.” — Jeremiah 20:10
To be sure, I have made some foolish mistakes and have many personal shortcomings, but so far God has not abandoned me to my enemies. I can relate to what Jeremiah said next: “But Jehovah was with me like a fearsome warrior. That is why those persecuting me will stumble and will not prevail. They will be put to great shame, for they will not succeed. Their everlasting humiliation will not be forgotten.” — Jeremiah 20:11
To be continued…