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Religion

CHAPTER V

FAMINE IN "CHRISTENDOM"

Joel 1:7-20

JEHOVAH tells of a coming famine among the people for the hearing of the truth. "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land; not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord." (Amos 8:11) This prophecy is now fulfilled upon "Christendom".

The provender which the religious leaders have dished up and handed out to the people is without any food value whatsoever, and, instead of ministering life, peace and happiness to the people, that provender ministers unto them grief, spiritual sickness and death. There is an abundance of truth in God's organization, and this declared by Jehovah's witnesses is a marked contrast to the famine conditions that exist amongst the religionists. Seeing the result upon their pastures by reason of the proclamation of the truth, and that that result is the burning up of their pastures, the religionists howl and attempt to destroy the faithful men and women who, as God's servants and under God's command, bring to the attention of the people the truth and point them to the real, life-giving and life-sustaining food which the Lord has provided for those that love him.

God's chosen and holy nation, selected and equipped by the Lord to make known his name,

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and now used for that purpose, appears upon the scene at his command. They come without any desire or reason to use carnal weapons against anyone. They do not use carnal weapons, but that nation does work depredation and destruction upon the hypocritical religion and religious systems, and concerning this God's prophet says: "He hath laid my vine waste, and barked my fig tree; he hath made it clean bare, and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white." — Joel 1: 7.

The land of "Christendom", speaking by its religious leaders, claims to be God's "vine", that is, the visible expression of his kingdom on earth, and even the head of the religious system claims to be "the vicegerent of Christ". The claim is entirely false and hypocritical to the last degree, but God permits them to make such claim and to go the full limit and then foretells the doom of religion and of religious practices. God sends forth his servants, the anointed remnant and their companions, his "other sheep", to deliver his message against religion. That message discloses that religion is a fraud and a snare and a racket and is a fraudulent representation of Christ. The truth declared shows that Christianity is true and that Christians are the ones who faithfully serve Jehovah God and Christ Jesus his King. Religion is shown as a waste and fruitless toward God, because it is against his King and kingdom. The truth discloses that "Christendom" has no cause for joy but is empty and void, having none of the "joy of the Lord" and no part in the kingdom of God, which shall vindicate his holy name. "Christen-

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dom," which practices the so-called "Christian religion", brings no joy or good cheer to God or man. (Judges 9:13) That is a great calamity to those "drinkers of wine" of Babylon and who become "drunkards" upon such wine and who are commanded by the Lord to wake up and to view their deplorable condition. (Joel 1:5) Hearing that alarm at the mouth of the Lord repeated by his faithful witnesses on earth makes the religionists exceedingly mad, and they froth at the mouth and threaten all manner of violence against Jehovah's witnesses and commit violence upon Jehovah's servants.

As Jerusalem was the original planting of the Lord and became unfaithful, so "Christendom" for centuries has claimed to be the "vine" of God, and, it being in an implied covenant to perform accordingly, God speaks of the same now as "my vine", "my fig tree."

Christ Jesus and the members of his body are "trees of righteousness, the planting of Jehovah", that bring glory to Jehovah's name. (Isaiah 61:3, A.R.V.) "Christendom" loudly claims to be that tree of God's planting, but the claim is false and, instead of bringing joy to the Lord, they bring great reproach to his name. "Christendom" has long claimed to be God's "fig tree", but she has brought forth no fruit whatsoever to the glory of the Lord. The Lord's message now sent forth by him through his faithful witnesses discloses that "Christendom" is totally barren of fruit and worthless because she has abandoned God and his kingdom and has sought promotion from Satan and hence is now a tree stripped even of its bark, dried up and

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dead. Therefore says the Lord: "He hath . . . barked my fig tree [(according to Rotherham) hath turned . . . my figtree to splinters]." "Christendom," being one of the trees of Satan, has sought to have the name of Christ attached to her, and hence, as stated in the parable, has said to God's true fig tree: "Come . . . and reign over us," but let us pursue our own selfish course. The scripture of the parable gives the answer: "But the fig tree [the true one] said unto them [Satan's trees], Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees [of the Devil's organization]?" (Judges 9:11) God's true fig tree avoids the Devil's organization, knowing that it is a deadly thing.

The "fig tree" is a symbol of God's "holy nation" or kingdom. Jehovah selected Israel as his typical people, picturing his kingdom, and before that people were set the prospects of the kingdom; and when Christ Jesus came to that nation he pronounced his Father's curse upon it because that nation had been unfaithful and had brought forth no fruit. (Matthew 21:19,20) Christ Jesus, with his apostles, set up the Christian organization, which organization is God's and must be wholly obedient to God's commandments. Soon thereafter ambitious men associated themselves with God's organization, and those selfish and ambitious men soon substituted religion and religious practices for the true service of God. This they did, of course, because they were overreached by Satan the Devil. To be sure, God knew this from the beginning and for that reason foretold it by his holy prophets.

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He foretold that "Christendom" would fail and that the kingdom prospects would be entirely removed from her.

Now God sends forth his faithful remnant who have been gathered by Christ Jesus to the temple and these faithful witnesses are commanded to deliver God's message, and the truth declared by them exposes "Christendom" as a false fig tree; and concerning it the prophet Joel says: "He hath made it clean bare." This shows, together with the undisputed facts, that the kingdom has been taken away from unfaithful "Christendom" and given to the nation (God's holy nation) bringing forth the fruits thereof, even as the Lord foretold. (Matthew 21:43) This strips "Christendom" clean bare of the kingdom fruit in the eyes of all his people of good will. In the parable the Lord foretold this result: "He spake also this parable: A certain [one, Jehovah] had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser [Christ Jesus] of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree [the Jewish nation], and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: and if it bear fruit, well; and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down." — Luke 13: 6-9.

As Jehovah permitted Israel to go on for eighteen centuries, so he has suffered "Christendom" to continue falsely claiming to represent Jehovah until the coming of Christ Jesus to his kingdom, particularly until his coming to the

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temple in 1918, at which time every hope and prospect has been taken away from "Christendom", pictured by the barking and cutting down of that fig tree. The result is that "Christendom" is now a castaway and God has "cast it down". Jehovah sends his witnesses declaring his truth, thus casting down the religion which is called "the Christian religion", and shows that the same is an abomination to him and that he has completely disowned "Christendom" and that it is entirely cast away from him. The branches of that unfaithful tree are bleached and made like ashes, and "Christendom" is a disreputable and forlorn sight. The publication of the book Enemies, in 1937, brought these facts prominently to the attention of honest people.

The message of God's truth, which exposes "Christendom" and her so-called "Christian religion", shows that religion to be a fraud and a snare completely separate and distinct from Christianity and in opposition to Christianity, and hence separates "Christendom" from Christ Jesus, the Bridegroom; and so the Lord says to "Christendom": "Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband [(Rotherham) the owner] of her youth." (Joel 1: 8) The prospect of becoming the bride of Christ was once set before "Christendom", and because of unfaithfulness that prospect has been entirely removed and now she is bereft of that prospect entirely and, like a cast-off and disowned virgin, "Christendom" is shown as being in deep grief and anguish. Jehovah tells her to weep and howl, and she does. Jehovah's witnesses come with God's message of truth informing "Christen-

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dom" that she has lost the one, Christ Jesus, to whom she supposed that she was espoused.

"Christendom," and particularly the leaders of her religious system, howl and declare that this "strange work" now carried on in the earth is Communistic and seditious, and that Jehovah's witnesses are Communists and seditionists. They call upon their political allies to enforce the laws of the land against Jehovah's witnesses on the theory that such witnesses are Communists and seditionists. The papa of the Vatican City is exposed by the truth and is shown not to be the vicegerent of Christ, the Bridegroom, and hence the claim made for that high dignitary is false and fraudulent. Hearing the sound of the message delivered by Jehovah's witnesses from God's Word the clergy or religious leaders become hysterical and rush about seeking the restraint and destruction of Jehovah's witnesses. God's "strange work" hurts them and fills them with great rage, but this is nothing as to how they will feel when Jehovah performs "his act, his strange act", at Armageddon. Let it be understood that what is here said is not directed against individuals nor prompted by hate, but against a system, the offices of which are filled by men, and it is the religion and religious system that have brought great reproach upon Jehovah's name, and such fraud he now exposes by his Word of truth.

A calamity has come upon "Christendom", of which the Lord long ago foretold through his prophet: "The meat offering [(R.V.) The meal offering] and the drink offering is cut off from the house of the Lord; the priests, the Lord's

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ministers, mourn." (Joel 1:9) "Christendom's" grain fields and vineyards are smitten so that there is no corn produced to offer to the Lord as the first-fruits or to make a meal offering, nor are there any grapes to make wine to pour it as a drink offering unto the Lord. Jehovah's locust plague has consumed the crops of "Christendom" so that there is no fruit or drink, and hence their religion cannot be carried on as in the past. There is no real wine of the Lord amongst them to make glad the heart, and no bread from heaven to strengthen them. (Psalm 104:15) Because of this calamity the priests of "Christendom" mourn and howl.

As the prophecy was fulfilled in miniature upon Jerusalem, so now it is fulfilled in completeness upon "Christendom". God, foreknowing what would come upon "Christendom", used his typical people to foretell the calamity that is now upon the religious practices. The Lord's message today makes known that he has cut off all such religious offerings through his true sanctuary, and that includes the "elective elder" crowd. The sanctuary has been cleansed, and now the true worshipers of God must "offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness". (Malachi 3:1-3) The Lord does not ask for nor will he receive religious offerings, because the same are a reproach to his name. It means that such offerings God regards as an abomination, and the one who offers them is described in these words: "He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog's neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine's blood; he that burneth in-

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cense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations." — Isaiah 66: 3.

The sleepers who have had too much of Babylon's wine from "the vine of the earth" wake up and find themselves out of jobs and their pastures well stripped and burned. They have been hoodwinking the people for a long season, but now the message of Jehovah exposes their religious racket and the people of good will toward God forsake the religious systems and flee to Christ for refuge. The clergy have thought more of a job than of the Lord, and now they mourn because they are in a dreadful dilemma. The Lord by his prophet (Joel 2:17) advised the preachers and the clergy and other religionists what to do, but they refuse to give heed to such advice. Jehovah's witnesses make known by proclaiming the truth of God's Word that the Hierarchy clergy are not the servants of Jehovah; and that message of truth makes the clergy class very mad, and they make a loud howl, because they know their racket is found out and that they have come far short of God's requirements, and have failed. Likewise the "evil servant" class resent the publication of the Lord's judgment against them, and are cut asunder from God's organization, and their portion is appointed with the other hypocrites and they howl and gnash their teeth. — Matthew 24: 48-51.

Jehovah's "strange work", which has now progressed for several years, has uncovered "the refuge of lies" (Isaiah 28:15-17) and the practice of hypocrisy; and the wide devastation that has come upon "Christendom" is further de-

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scribed by the prophet in these words: "The field is wasted, the land mourneth; for the corn is wasted; the new wine is dried up, the oil languisheth." — Joel 1:10.

Jehovah's "strange work" makes the religious fields a miserable sight like a field the vegetation of which has been destroyed by pests. The land shows no sign of fertility, and the beauty of growing crops and fruits has entirely disappeared. Such is the present state of "Christendom", in which there is a famine for the hearing of the Word of God. "Christendom" now becomes a by-word and a stench, and the Lord describes it in this language: "The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled: for the Lord hath spoken this word. The earth mourneth, and fadeth away; the world languisheth, and fadeth away; the haughty people of the earth do languish. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof, because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant." —Isaiah24:3-5.

The clergy and religious leaders of "Christendom", instead of giving heed to the counsel of the Lord, grow indignant, and they cry out to the people: "What we need is more religion." The Lord laughs at them in derision, and the honest people know that religion is a snare and fake and a racket. Hence the true ones are earnestly seeking Jehovah God and his King, Christ Jesus, and rendering service unto the Most High. In "Christendom" three elements control, namely, religion, politics and commercial traffickers, and these have been fully linked up together and been trying to hold each other

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up, and the politicians, with the clergy, shout: "Give us more religion." Jehovah describes the situation in these words: "For the land is full of adulterers; for because of swearing [cursing] the land mourneth; the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up, and their course [violence] is evil, and their force is not right. For both prophet and priest are profane; yea, in my house have I found their wickedness, saith the Lord. Wherefore their way shall be unto them as slippery ways in the darkness; they shall be driven on, and fall therein; for I will bring evil upon them, even the year of their visitation, saith the Lord." — Jeremiah 23:10-12, margin.

In "Christendom" there is no substantial, basic food available: "For the corn is wasted: the new wine is dried up, the [olive] oil languisheth." Such is the present-day condition of "Christendom". She is without spiritual nourishment, and hence the religionists look to the politicians and the money-changers to hold "Christendom's" organization together. There is no more "joy of the Lord" amongst the religionists, because now they are against Jehovah God and against his King and kingdom and have gone entirely away to Satan and his world and have become a part of it. The Lord is revealing these truths today for the special aid and benefit of the people of good will, the Jonadabs, and, this information coming to them, they discern the miserable situation of religion and religionists, and they are fleeing to God's kingdom that they might there find protection and refuge before and during Armageddon. Many sincere people have been under the influence and control

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of religious systems of "Christendom", and now those of good will are quickly separating themselves from the unrighteous and unholy thing.

The message of Jehovah's kingdom proclaimed within the hearing of the religionists is a torment to them, but they do not give heed thereto and seek the way of reformation and forgiveness; and so the Lord says to "Christendom", and particularly to the religious leaders, who have planted the religious seed: "Be ye ashamed, 0 ye husbandmen; howl, 0 ye vinedressers, for the wheat and for the barley; because the harvest of the field is perished." — Joel 1:11.

The clergy, instead of sowing the seed of God's kingdom and pointing to it as the only hope of the world, have planted the seed of the wicked one Satan, and their present day of calamity is now upon them and is due to their unfaithfulness to God. Not willing to be honest with themselves and openly confess their wrongful course, they go on hypocritically scattering religious seed, indulging in politics and all other worldly schemes, and that without shame. God's published message has brought to the attention of "Christendom" the miserable condition in which she finds herself, but it does not cause them to repent. The clergy angrily denounce Jehovah's witnesses, who at God's command bring this message within their reach, and thus they fight against God and against his kingdom. The clergy claim to be the "vinedressers" and "husbandmen" of the Lord on the earth, but such is only a pretense. They serve God with their mouths, but, as Jesus said of them, their

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hearts are removed far from him. (Matthew 15:6-9) They drink deep of the wine of "the vine of the earth" and openly commit fornication with the Devil's organization. (Revelation 14:18-20; 17:1,2; James 4:4) "Christendom" and her religious leaders, in particular, spurn God's kingdom, continue to indulge in religious practices, and hence have no "feast of weeks" or of harvest. The Lord does not show any more favor to such practitioners of hypocrisy. The time is here to feed the "great multitude", the Lord's "other sheep", and, instead of having some part in doing that work to the glory of the Lord, the religionists put forth their strongest endeavors to deprive the "great multitude" of the opportunity of learning of God and of his King and kingdom. Thus, as did the Pharisees, they refuse to enter into or support the kingdom, and do all they can to keep others from receiving the blessings thereof . —Matthew 23:13.

Religion has been the chief means of bringing reproach to the name of Jehovah; and since "Christendom" has become entirely religious and anti-Christian and hence against the kingdom of God under Christ, Jehovah has taken away from her all favors; and concerning which he foretold through his prophet the following: "The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, even all the trees of the field, are withered; because joy is withered away from the sons of men." (Joel 1:12) God has made it hot for religionists by "turning on the heat" since the coming of Christ Jesus to the temple. This is the effect of the expression of

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his indignation against hypocrisy. The scorching, dry season is upon "Christendom", and her clays of grief are here. God foretold the present-day conditions also through his prophet in the following words: "And now, go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down; and I will lay it waste; it shall not be pruned nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns; I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant; and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry." — Isaiah 5:5-7.

By the words of his prophet aforesaid the Lord specifically described the devastation of "Christendom" and of all the religious systems. Thus it is seen, as Jesus foretold, the kingdom interests are completely removed from "Christendom" and God has turned on the heat and dried her up. (Matthew 21:19,20) Furthermore, says the prophet, "even all the trees of the field are withered." All are barren and have no sign of the kingdom of God. Why? "Because joy is withered away from the sons of men." There is in "Christendom" no joy of the Lord, because none of the religionists and religious leaders of "Christendom" rejoice in the coming of the kingdom of God under Christ. They have no interest in the vindication of Jehovah's name, but, on the contrary, they cast in their lot with Satan, the god of this world of wickedness. (2 Corinthians

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4:4; James 4:4) Since the coming of Christ Jesus to the temple, in 1918, the joy of the true lovers of God and his King and kingdom continues to increase, but the hatred and bitter opposition to that kingdom and its supporters increase with the religionists. Both the ultrareligionists and the "evil servant" class are totally without joy of the Lord. Therefore with them, as with all who hold to Satan's organization, it is a time of great woe. (Revelation 12:12) By another of his prophets Jehovah describes "Christendom's" miserable state in these words: "There is a crying for wine in the streets; all joy is darkened, the mirth of the land is gone."  — Isaiah 24:11.

While the woes upon the world increase and the religionists, particularly the clergy, continue their ever-increasing bitter persecution of Jehovah's witnesses, the faithful remnant and companions rejoice, and so these words are put in the mouth of such by the Lord and they sing: "Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls; yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation." — Habakkuk 3:17,18.

HOWL

As is well known by all, and admitted by themselves, the leaders in the practice of religion are those who compose the Roman Catholic Hierarchy, and the other clergy; and these, together with the "evil servant" class, forming 'the man

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of sin, the son of perdition' crowd, although professing no alliance with each other, work together. Jehovah having entered final judgment against them and made known that judgment, he tells that crowd to listen to what he has to say to them and then howl: "Gird yourselves [with sackcloth (R.V.)], and lament, ye priests; howl, ye ministers of the altar; come, lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God: for the meat offering and the drink offering is withholden from the house of your God." — Joel 1:13.

In the miniature fulfillment of this prophecy the priestly company served at the altar, but the non-priestly Levites were not permitted in the inner court where the altar was situated. Now in the complete fulfillment of the prophecy upon "Christendom" the priestly class, the clergy and the "evil servant" class, have assumed to serve at God's altar, all of such claiming to be the priests and representatives of God on earth. Such priests see and hear the spread of the proclamation of Jehovah's judgment against religion, and particularly against the Roman Catholic Hierarchy, which is the highest expression of religion. These priests grow frantic and tear their hair and pound their breast with vexation and rage at the devastating effect of the message. They see their many parishioners slipping away from them and their pastures denuded.

Foreknowing this, God in derision says to them: 'Howl, ye ministers of the altar, ye have assumed to be the ministers of God and still claim to be such; therefore come lie all night in sackcloth and ashes, ye ministers of my God, which ye claim to be.' It is truly the nighttime,

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because now darkness covers the earth, particularly concerning religion. The facts now well known show that the very thing the prophecy of Joel foretold is now taking place amongst those "ministers" who have been feeding upon the things offered at the altar, and so these privileges are now taken away from them. And why should they not howl? Their income is being cut down and their pastures dried up or burned up, and they are out of a job and their days are about finished. So God tells them to mourn all night because Armageddon is near.

Jehovah continues to send forth his servants to proclaim the message of truth, and this they do "day and night", meaning all the time, and that fact intensifies the anger of the clergy and they continue to howl. Being wrapped in sack-



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cloth does not permit them to have a very peaceful sleep. Their official garments serve no good purpose to alleviate their miseries. Their newspapers now being published throughout the earth rant and fume, and indulge in all manner of lies against Jehovah's witnesses because of the proclamation of God's truth, and thus they by spite and ill will advertise God's messengers and his message of the kingdom. The Catholic publications have much to say against Jehovah's witnesses, and in doing so their publications arouse the interest among honest subjects, the "Catholic population", and these honest ones are induced to investigate. Thus they find the truth and flee from the religious organizations, that they may find refuge under Christ. Of course, this brings about further devastating effect upon the Hierarchy, causing the honest seekers who have been amongst the religionists to withhold their patronage and financial support.

The people are getting no spiritual food from the religious leaders, and the honest ones see that there is no further occasion for them to bring any financial support to the religionists to keep them going. The famine is on in "Christendom" for the hearing of the spiritual truth. The religionists have no spiritual food but, they being constantly angered, their howl constantly increases. Frantically the religious leaders demand of their political allies that something be done to stop those "pestiferous" Jehovah's witnesses. As a result, in the legislative assemblies laws are proposed which, if enacted and enforced, would deprive the sincere Christians of hearing the truth of God's Word. The effort to

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enact such laws advertises the miseries of the religionists, and also advertises the truth of God's Word, so that the truth concerning the kingdom is preached under all circumstances; and this makes the religionists howl more and more with ever-increasing anger.

Who is responsible for this state of famine in the land of "Christendom"? The religious clergy declare that Jehovah's witnesses, whom they call "Communists", are the responsible ones. In this they are very wrong again. The faithful Christians who are proclaiming the message of God's kingdom are not Communists. They are entirely separate from all political parties or companies, and their devotion and service is to Jehovah God and his kingdom under Christ, and to none other. Who, then, has brought about the famine in "Christendom"? The correct answer is given by God's prophet in these words, to wit: "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land; not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord; and they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east; they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it." — Amos 8:11,12.

Mark this: that Jehovah says, "I will send a famine in the land." He makes it clear that he is the one that has brought about this condition of devastation upon "Christendom", and this because of the unfaithfulness of those who have assumed to represent him but who have shown themselves to be out-and-out hypocrites, and he declares that "the hypocrite's hope shall perish". (Job 8:13) The clergy have claimed to be the

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chief ones on the earth of God's organization. Having turned entirely unto religion, they are sinners, and to them Jehovah says: "The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites; Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?" (Isaiah 33:14) Those religionists now hear the sounding of the doom of religion, and they are frightened and continue to howl.

There is a possible remedy that might be applied by the individuals of "Christendom", but the religious leaders make no effort to avail themselves of such remedy. God knows that they will not avail themselves of the remedy, but he tells them about it, that they may have no excuse to say that they did not know. Therefore the Lord says to the religionists, who claim to represent him: "Sanctify ye a fast, call a solemn assembly; gather the elders, and all the inhabitants of the land, into the house of the Lord your God, and cry unto the Lord." — Joel 1:14.

If the clergy should obey God's command and indulge in the fast commanded, of necessity they must cease their religious practices and observances in which they have been indulging in order to appear respectable to the world. The real fasting which God has commanded would bring upon the clergy the reproach of Satan and his agents. The Roman Catholic Hierarchy never indulge in the fast commanded by the Lord, because they make up the chief ones of Satan's representatives on the earth. They do indulge in an outward show of fasts, and they do lament and howl for the effect they hope the same will

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have upon the public, but such is not the fast which God calls upon them to sanctify. The fast in which the religionists indulge is hypocritical, because they make an outward show hoping to influence the people; and concerning such the Lord says: "Behold, ye fast for strife and debate, and to smite with the fist of wickedness; ye shall not fast as ye do this day, to make your voice to be heard on high. Is it such a fast that I have chosen? a day for a man to afflict his soul? is it to bow down his head as a bulrush, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast, and an acceptable day to the Lord?" — Isaiah 58:4, 5.

The religious leaders in the days when Jesus was first on earth indulged in such hypocritical fasts, and, addressing his disciples, Jesus said: "Moreover, when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance; for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; that thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly." — Matthew 6:16-18.

The Lord is telling the religionists to fast or refrain from the food they have been using to hoodwink the people, namely, religious doctrines and practices. They have had nothing to feed upon but religious food, and such food they have served to the supporters of religion, which is of no value; and God's command is that their ministers and the people refrain from such religious food. Their fast should be similar to that

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in which the people of good will at Nineveh indulged upon hearing of God's judgment. (Jonah 3:5) No one is commanded to fast from the truth. It is the truth of God's Word that he brings to the people and invites them to feed upon it and live. Religionists do not have the truth, but they have substituted for truth the doctrines of men. Now the Lord tells them to cease from such and turn to the truth and feed upon what God has provided. Those who are amongst the religionists who would find relief must obey this command and fast from what the religious leaders have been serving them. To obey that command of Jehovah would put such in the class with Christ Jesus, and upon them would fall reproach like that which fell upon the Lord. (Romans 15: 3) The clergy steer clear of all things of that kind. The honest ones amongst the religionists are anxious to obey the Lord, and they do so, and they find relief, protection and blessings under the Lord's organization.

Further instructing them, Jehovah says: "Call a solemn assembly [a day of restraint (margin)]." On the day following the end of the "feast of tabernacles" the faithful Israelites did call a solemn assembly. (Numbers 29: 35) It was then a time of restraint from doing servile work, serving creatures, or indulging in activities for self-gain. Instead of seeking and serving selfish things, they must assemble and seek God at his temple. Today the kingdom interests must be uppermost in the mind and heart of those who attend such solemn assemblies, otherwise called the "day of restraint". "Christendom" would not call such assembly, the "day of restraint", be-

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cause to do so they would have to abandon all their religious ceremonies and political affiliations and activities, all of which things are selfish and used for self-gain. It would mean that all "Catholic Action" would have to cease and be completely abandoned; and the Hierarchy would never agree to that.

Further admonishing the religionists, Jehovah says to them: "Gather the elders [the old men (R.V.); that is to say, the dreamers mentioned in Joel 2: 28]." They too need to engage in such a fast or day of restraint. They must cease their religious dreams and speculations and guesses and turn wholly to the truth of God's kingdom. They have much responsibility as examples to the younger ones. This applies to the "elective elder" class of the present day. Let all who continue to hold to religious practices cease from the same, turn away therefrom and give full attention to the service and the interest of the kingdom of God. This admonition includes "all the inhabitants of the land", that is, all who have made a covenant to do the will of God. Religionists, if they would heed the admonition, must cease from making the professed house of God a "den" of commercial grafters (Jeremiah 7:11), and must face about and "serve God and his King".

There is a two-fold purpose in God's placing upon the religionists the responsibility to call a day of fasting or restraint, to wit: (1) To give warning to all who indulge in religion, and (2) to disclose the only means of escape from Satan's organization, which God provides for those who are of good will toward him. There are those

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amongst the religious leaders and under their influence who sigh and cry because of the abominations done in "Christendom", and such persons must have an opportunity to hear and learn what is the way of escape and where they may find safety. Therefore God commands that "all the inhabitants" assemble at the house of the Lord and "cry unto the Lord". (Joel 1:14) By so doing they acknowledge their guilt in having followed and practiced religion and its traditions rather than hearing and obeying the Word of God and worshiping him in spirit and in truth. They must recognize that the judgment now proclaimed is not the judgment of Joel the prophet nor of any man nor of the witnesses of the Lord, but that it is God's judgment and his expression of condemnation of religious practices. They must call upon the name of the Lord for mercy and express their determination to serve him and keep his commandments to promote the interests of the kingdom. They must seek righteousness and meekness and become obedient. (Zephaniah 2:3) When must this be done? Now, at the present time, before Armageddon begins. It will be too late to cry unto the Lord when Armageddon begins. When the battle of Armageddon is on, "then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me; for that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord: they would none of my counsel; they despised all my reproof; therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices." —Proverbs 1: 28-31.

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For several centuries Satan has carried on his religious and other operations without interruption; but the end of such time must come, and did come when Jehovah enthroned Christ Jesus and sent him forth to rule while the enemy Satan is still active. (Psalm 110:2) Therefore the Lord by his prophet says: "Alas for the day! for the day of the Lord is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come." (Joel 1:15) The day of Jehovah began in A.D. 1914. Satan has had his day, and he must now get out. The war in heaven was fought, and Satan was cast down to the earth. (Revelation 12:1-9) Then in 1918 judgment began at the house of God. (1 Peter 4:17) The day of tribulation God then stopped for a season in order that the witness work might be done. This he did for the benefit of those who loved God and his kingdom and that the Lord's "other sheep" might be gathered. (Matthew 24: 22) Since that day is the time in which God is doing his "strange work". This is the time when God causes his adverse judgment against Satan's organization to be made known, serving warning upon all and disclosing to those of good will the only means of escape from destruction which soon shall follow.

In this day of his "strange work" Jehovah sends his army of "locusts", which constitutes a plague upon "Christendom", and the heat is turned on against religion. (Joel 1:4,10,12) This is a warning that the battle of the great day of God Almighty is close by. The wrath of God does not stop with the locust plague and the rainless season of famine in "Christendom", but

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reaches a climax at Armageddon. Now is the time of the 'destroying pests' upon "Christendom" or religion. Hence the plague is not from men. It is not another religious campaign of men or a propaganda movement such as the atheists, Bolsheviks and Communists, and other godless radicals, carry on. It is from Almighty God, who now sends forth his servants and messengers to declare his name and his purpose, and which he commands must be done immediately preceding the battle of Armageddon. —Exodus 9:16, Leeser.

There is no scarcity of spiritual food in God's storehouse, but the famine is all on "Christendom", and that famine is for the hearing of the Word of God and is due to the fact that God has closed the door to "Christendom". "Is not the meat cut off before our eyes, yea, joy and gladness from the house of our God? (Joel 1:16) The religious leaders know that God has forsaken them. This text, according to Rotherham, makes it clear and shows the religious leaders as saying: "Is it not before our eyes that food hath been cut off?" There is an abundance of spiritual food being scattered throughout the earth by Jehovah's witnesses, and it comes from God's storehouse, but "Christendom" has no part in the distribution thereof. None of them are for the vindication of Jehovah's name, and hence they are against the kingdom. All food from the Lord's storehouse that is carried to the people is being carried by Jehovah's witnesses and their companions, the Jonadabs, and all of these together are acting through the Theocratic organization. The religionists of "Christendom" see this fact and desperately attempt to prevent

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Jehovah's servants from carrying the spiritual food to the common and hungry people.

In recent months God has clearly revealed to his faithful servants the distinction between the so-called "Christian religion" and Christianity, the truth of and concerning which exposes to plain view the emptiness of the religious systems, showing the people that they can get from religion nothing that is helpful, but only that which is detrimental, and that their only help comes from following and obeying Christ Jesus, hence being real Christians. The book Enemies contains the truth concerning religion and Christianity, and within a short time after it was released the circulation thereof reached more than two million volumes, and the booklet Cure, which contains a succinct statement of the falsity of religion and what is Christianity, within a few months actually had a circulation of more than twelve million amongst the people. This work the Lord fitly illustrates by the plague of the locusts eating up what little had been left in "Christendom". The "purgatory" racket, which has for a long time been a source of much revenue to the Hierarchy, is now completely exposed as the greatest money-making racket that has ever operated; and this greatly frightens and makes mad the clergy. Their own publications give forth more evidence of this fact.

The "strange work" of Jehovah, which he has done and is doing by his faithful servants, by his army of "locusts", has taken the joy and gladness from the Roman Catholic Hierarchy, whose god is Satan. Hence they say: "Yea, joy

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and gladness [are cut off] from the house of our God." That house which once loudly claimed to be distributing spiritual provender has now become the house of commercial and political robbers. Such well describes Catholic Action, and therefore says a one-time Jesuit clergyman in his book Rome Stoops to Conquer: 'Catholicism now is something that partakes of clannishness and that is constituted in a large part by social and political club affiliation. Catholic Action in practice is the Catholic group fighting their way to control America'; politically and financially, of course. No religious leader believes, and hence none teaches, that Christ Jesus has come to the temple of God, and they therefore have no understanding or appreciation that the kingdom of Christ is here. As it was with the religious Jews, so it is now with "Christendom", to whom the Lord says: "Your house [of religion] is left unto you desolate." — Matthew 23: 38.

The spiritual crops of "Christendom" have completely failed: "The seed is rotten [(R.V.) The seeds rot] under their clods, the garners are laid desolate, the barns are broken down; for the corn is withered." (Joel 1:17) There is a complete absence of any prospect for a new crop. God has now made it clearly to appear that nothing good can spring from religion. The seeds of religion now rot because sown at the instance of the Devil, and his day is done. The people can gain nothing from religion. All the people of good will toward God now realize this fact and flee from the religious systems and seek protection in Christ. The great heat from the truth turned on by the Lord, and the complete

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absence of the rain of truth upon "Christendom", have turned her barns into useless things, and there is no food supply to put in them, and none to take from them, for the people. The religionists do not appreciate the true state of affairs. Those who are honest among them do appreciate the true situation, and they sigh and cry because of the abominations which are done in "Christendom", and the Lord hears their cry and sends them spiritual food through his faithful servants. — Ezekiel 9:1-10.

The credulous common people have been the beasts of burden for the clergy and other religious leaders, political and commercial, and these now seeing the desolate condition are much perplexed and in distress. "How do the beasts groan! the herds of cattle are perplexed, because they have no pasture; yea, the flocks of sheep are made desolate." (Joel 1:18) The entire system of religion is doomed and headed for early destruction. The very opposite state or condition exists amongst the people of God, who are described by the Lord in these words: "Jerusalem [those who are of God's organization and who follow peace and serve God and his King] shall be inhabited as towns without walls [needing no protection] for the multitude of men and cattle therein." — Zechariah 2:4.

By his prophet Jehovah tells the people what they should do, but the religious leaders refuse to hear. Those who are of good will, and who are getting their eyes opened to the truth, are shown by the prophet as using these words: "O Lord, to thee will I cry; for the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame hath

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burned all the trees of the field." (Joel 1:19) Instead of the religions clergy leaders' joining with the common people of good will in this crying unto the Lord, they continue to call down God's blessing upon the political and commercial schemes of the world and at the same time try to destroy those who do bring God's message of good cheer to the hungry ones. The man recently elevated to the post of pope of the Hierarchy calls for His blessing upon the United States, and, of course, this is done for political effect. The pope's blessing has already been bestowed upon the murderer who has destroyed Spain and Abyssinia and wrecked many other people's homes in different parts of the land.

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Continuing to disclose the miserable condition that has been brought about amongst the people of the religious agents of Satan, God, through his prophet, says: "The beasts of the field cry also unto thee; for the rivers of waters are dried up, and the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness." — Joel 1: 20.

The religious leaders have made life miserable for the common people, who are really the 'beasts of burden', and whom the Hierarchy calls "the children of the church". Jehovah now makes it clearly to appear that religion is responsible for the famine conditions in "Christendom" for the hearing of the Word of God. Organized religion is the enemy of God, and the destructive foe of the people. Upon the religious systems and religious practice God sends no more rain, that is, no more blessings. Religious systems are marked and branded for destruction, which only waits until the witness work, God's "strange work", is finished. The alarm of warning must be sounded now, to the end that none of the religious practitioners may say that they did not hear about the kingdom, and, furthermore, that those amongst the religious systems that are of good will may find a way to flee. This is the work which God long ago foretold, and which is a "strange work" to all who do not have the spirit of the Lord. It is the work of Jehovah, in which he uses the remnant of his people and their companions, and both of these must now give close attention to God's commandments and strictly obey.



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