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Religion

CHAPTER VII

UNITED SERVANTS

Joel 2:8-18

IN THIS day the issue is sharply drawn because it is the time when Jehovah is doing his "strange work", which work consists of informing the people that religion is of the Devil and that religion is doomed to early and complete destruction. That is the reason why so many persons of good will now are appearing upon the scene and declaring themselves against religion and for the kingdom of God under Christ. They clearly see that Jehovah's witnesses are not engaged in any fight against human creatures, but that they are carrying on and carrying forward a good work by proclaiming the message of God according to his commandments; and for this reason those persons of good will hasten to join the anointed remnant in that "strange work". All who are on the side of Jehovah and his King must of necessity stand firmly together and work faithfully and harmoniously together. The Devil and all his agencies, and particularly religion and religionists, oppose God and oppose Jehovah's witnesses and their companions.

Long ago Jehovah by his prophet Joel emphasized the harmonious and forward action of his faithful people on the earth. He shows that his anointed ones and their companions would stand shoulder to shoulder, working for the

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kingdom. He likens his faithful anointed ones unto locusts (Joel 1:4; 2:25) and calls them "his army", who have no earthly king but who are under the leadership of Christ, the heavenly King. God's faithful and loyal ones now on the earth do not need an earthly or visible king, head or ruler. They are all at unity; meaning they are all at one, and that Christ is their Leader and Head. Christ Jesus denounced religion as of the Devil, and they must follow their Head and Leader. Note now the prophecy of Joel, which discloses the harmonious movement of Jehovah's faithful servants, who follow their King whithersoever he leads: "Neither shall one thrust another [nor against each other shall they strike (Rotherham)], they shall walk every one in his path; and when they fall upon the sword, they shall not be wounded." — Joel 2: 8.

ACTION

They have no occasion to fight one another. If they are found fighting with one another, that would be proof conclusive that they are not serving God and his King. They march forward in unity. They do not get out of line with one another. They do not try to mind the other fellow's business, nor to interfere with another in the discharge of his assigned duty. Each one knows his assigned position and duty and is diligent to faithfully serve where he is put. All keep themselves in the peace of God and maintain their full peace and harmony amongst themselves, just as God foretold his faithful ones must do. (Psalm 122) The Authorized Version does not give the clearest understanding here

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of Joel's prophecy, which, according to the Revised Version, reads: "They burst through the weapons, and break not off their course." According to Rotherham: "Though in among the weapons they fall, they shall not stop." Note here the indisputable facts in harmony with and in fulfillment of the prophecy, as stated. The legislative bodies enact laws to stop the activity of God's people. The courts construe those laws to try to stop the work of Jehovah's witnesses. The strong-arm squad, acting at the behest of the religious leaders, inflict punishment upon Jehovah's witnesses, assault them, beat them, throw them into filthy prisons, falsely accuse them of crime, and otherwise ill-treat them. The religious leaders incite mobs of violent persons to assault Jehovah's witnesses, and, as Jesus foretold, Jehovah's witnesses are 'hated of all nations of the world for his name's sake'. (Matthew 24:9) None of these things stop the onward march of Jehovah's faithful servants. They realize that their commission and authority is from Almighty God, and so they are determined to obey God regardless of what men may say or do.

Some of Jehovah's witnesses are cruelly subjected to bodily punishment, and some have actually been murdered by the religious representatives of Satan. Such things, however, do not deter others from going forward in their work. The surviving ones do not cry and weep because one of their fellow witnesses is killed by the enemy, for the reason that they know that such as die faithful are immediately changed into the glorious likeness of the Lord Jesus

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Christ. No human power or Devil power can stay the onward march of Jehovah's army, whom he likens unto locusts. They are for the King and his kingdom. They know that the King will be victorious. They are determined by His favor and the grace of Almighty God to be faithful in the full performance of their duty.

Further describing the activities of the faithful witnesses of the Lord, his prophet records: "They shall run to and fro in the city [(R.V.) They leap upon the city]; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief."  — Joel 2: 9.

The faithful and zealous witnesses of Jehovah invade the places held by Satan's agents, that is, in the organizations called "churches" or religious institutions, where the "prisoners" are held. The religionists, by coercion and threats, put fear into the minds of many of their parishioners and hold them in restraint. Jehovah's witnesses hasten to carry the message of the kingdom to such prisoners, that they may learn of God's provision for their escape to freedom and find a place of safety. Not only are the witnesses of Jehovah proclaiming his name and his kingdom, but they are doing a good work toward those who sigh and cry because of the restraint that is put upon them and the abominations that are practiced in the religious organizations. — Ezekiel 9:4.

The combined elements, which constitute the visible rulers of the "present evil world", erect what they call "legal walls" by enacting laws to prevent anyone from speaking against religion.

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They enact laws or ordinances forbidding the advertising of the truth by banners or other means, thus discriminating against Jehovah's witnesses. These so-called "legal walls" do not cause Jehovah's witnesses to stop their work, nor are they frightened at the sight of such walls. Knowing that God has commanded his work to be done, and he having promised that the enemy shall not prevail against his faithful ones, those witnesses of Jehovah go straight ahead, trusting implicitly in the Lord and doing with their might what he has given them to do.

"They shall climb up upon the houses." God's faithful servants go from house to house to bring the message of the kingdom to those who reside there, omitting none, not even the houses of the Roman Catholic Hierarchy, and there they give witness to the kingdom because they are commanded by the Most High to do so. "They shall enter in at the windows like a thief." They do not loot nor break into the houses, but they set up their phonographs before the doors and windows and send the message of the kingdom right into the houses into the ears of those who might wish to hear; and while those desiring to hear are hearing, some of the "sour-pusses" are compelled to hear. Locusts invade the homes of the people and even eat the varnish off the wood and eat the wood to some extent. Likewise God's faithful witnesses, likened unto locusts, get the kingdom message right into the house and they take the veneer off the religious things that are in that house, including candles and "holy water", remove the superstition from the minds of the people, and show them that the

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doctrines that have been taught to them are wood, hay and stubble, destructible by fire, and they cannot withstand the heat. The people are enabled to learn that "purgatory" is a bogeyman, set up by the agents of Satan to frighten the people into the religious organizations, where they may be fleeced of their hard-earned money. Thus the kingdom message plagues the religionists, and the clergy find that they are unable to prevent it. Therefore, as described by the prophet, the message comes to them like a thief that enters in at the windows, and this message is a warning to those who are on the inside that Jesus Christ has come, and they remember his warning words, to wit: "Behold, I come as a thief." (Revelation 16:15) The day of Armaged-

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don is very close, and that day comes upon the world in general like a thief in the night. (1 Thessalonians 5:2) To be sure, the Lord sees the efforts on the part of religionists to prevent his message from reaching the people, and he laughs at them and has such opponents in derision. The work that is now being done is God's work, his "strange work", and no power can stop it. God will finish it in his own due time.

Satan, having been cast out of heaven and down to earth, where he now operates in defiance of God and his kingdom, is desperately fighting against those who serve Jehovah, and he brings into action all his wicked spirits, attempting in every possible way and by every possible means to thwart the proclamation of the kingdom. Here at the earth the battle of truth is being fought and is carried on against the errors of religion, and it is shaking the religious institutions to the foundation. "The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble; the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining." — Joel 2:10.

Satan's visible organization, religious, political and commercial, is now in a state of fear and trepidation, and the organization is quaking and trembling. The leaders thereof are enraged and are shaken at the sound of the message of God's kingdom, and in their desperation they resort to every possible means to stop it. The enemy tried to destroy the Lord's work during the World War, but after the war the witness work was revived and soon thereafter the "strange work" began in earnest. — Revelation 11:11-13. See Light, Book One, page 210.

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The Lord is now in command of his faithful witnesses, and the earthly governments are giving evidence of how they are quaking by enacting laws and making orders in council to prevent the activities of Jehovah's witnesses. In some of the more benighted places they are preventing the importation of the kingdom message in the form of books, phonographs, records and magazines; yet the witnesses go straight on telling the people about it, and the efforts of the enemy cause the honest and sincere people to search out the reason for the opposition, and thus they are enabled to find the way of escape. Towns and states enact ordinances specifically directed against Jehovah's witnesses, and judges and magistrates of some of the courts have exploded in anger from the judicial bench in words like these: "These Jehovah people come in here like a swarm of locusts, showing no respect for our ordinances nor for our churches." Certain towns in Connecticut and New Jersey are striking examples of this.

Seeing the inability of the police to stop the witness work, the ecclesiastics tremble in rage and fear. Then the Devil and his host of wicked angels tremble and are viciously moved in their efforts to stop the work by Jehovah's witnesses. Satan and his host of wicked spirits in high places constitute the "heavens", meaning the invisible part now operating at the earth against God's kingdom and his people. It is Satan and his angels that carry on the war against Jehovah's witnesses and their companions: "And the dragon [Satan] was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed,

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which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." — Revelation 12:17.

These scriptures and facts are exactly in harmony with the words of the apostle Paul at Ephesians 6:12, which show conclusively that the warfare of God's faithful witnesses on earth is against the Devil and his host of wicked angels and that the Devil and those wicked angels use human creatures as visible agents to carry on their vicious work of opposition. This ought to convince any reasonable person, and certainly anyone who has the truth, that the kingdom of God under Christ is the most important of all things, because that kingdom will wipe out Satan's organization and will vindicate the name of Jehovah and provide means for salvation for those who love righteousness. So understanding, those who love the Lord should be so enthused that they would want to increase their energies in looking after the kingdom interests and doing all within their power to make known the kingdom to others.

"The sun and the moon shall be dark[ened], and the stars shall withdraw their shining." (Joel 2:10) When the plague of locusts was upon Egypt (Exodus 10:15), "they covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees." That pictured the plague that is now upon "Christendom". The big clergymen, and the principal ones of their flocks, are the ones symbolically represented as "the sun and the moon" and the shining "stars", and their ardent parishioners re-

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gard them as "the lights of the world"; but now their light is being very much obscured by the message of Jehovah's kingdom proclaimed by his army of antitypical locusts. God's message of truth is now informing the honest people that their hope is not in religious leaders, nor in the principal ones of their flock, but that their only hope is in Christ Jesus and his kingdom; and that truth shuts off the light from the big moguls of "Christendom". To the honest and sincere people of today the words of Jehovah concerning Christ Jesus sound out with great encouragement, to wit: "In his name shall the nations hope." (Matthew 12:21, A.R.V., margin) The worldly bright-lights are overshadowed and their shining grows less as the message of the kingdom is carried forward. Even the political leaders that have been shining lights amongst men for some time have, because of fear, turned to religion, calling out loudly for "more religion", and their former bright shining as political leaders is disappearing. Jehovah's army of "locusts" move steadfastly onward, and while the darkness increases upon the worldly-wise the light upon the Lord's people continues to increase to their joy.

Is the campaign now carried on for the glory of Jehovah's witnesses? Not by any means. It is the message of God, and he only should and does receive the honor and glory. "And the Lord shall utter his voice before his army [before his host (Roth.) ]; for his camp is very great; for he is strong that executeth his word; for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?" — Joel 2:11.

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By Christ Jesus his King and through his theocratic organization Jehovah roars forth his message proclaiming to all creation that the day of final reckoning is at hand. This is not for the purpose of exalting or praising the "locusts", his witnesses, but for the express purpose of informing the people that the Almighty God is Jehovah. The "locusts" have no earthly king, but they are under their heavenly King, Christ Jesus, who commands them. He is invisible to human eyes, and he commands and leads the host of the Most High. It is the "voice" of Jehovah uttered by his duly authorized and commissioned Executive Officer, Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 4:16,17) "His camp is very great"; that is, very numerous as respects the volume of the message that the Lord sends forth and that his camp puts out. It is the utterance of Jehovah, and it is his "strange work", and he is very strong and he uses his campers to carry on his work regardless of opposition. Soon he will finish that work and will prove that he has found men on earth who will maintain their integrity toward him under pressure from the enemy. This is Jehovah's day, and "the day of the Lord is great and very terrible". The first part of the day of Jehovah is occupied with his "strange work" of proclaiming the message of his vengeance against religion and hypocrisy and announcing that his kingdom is the only hope of mankind. The judgment of the world has begun and is progressing, and the nations are now being separated, and all this must be done prior to Armageddon, and with Armageddon

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Satan's organization shall cease. — Matthew 25:31-46.

The question is then propounded by the prophet: "And who can abide it?" that is, Who can maintain his integrity and abide as a member of God's organization, whether said to be of the remnant or of the Lord's "other sheep"? It is a time of great test upon each and every one who has undertaken to do the will of God. Those who do abide in this day and prove their integrity are the ones who have full faith and confidence in God and in his King and who march forward in obedience to his commandments, regardless of the opposition on the part of the foe. These faithful ones now fully appreciate the fact that their fight is not against human creatures, not against men because such men are Catholics or Protestants or Jews, or non-believers in anything (they are not fighting against human power or human governments), but that they are being assaulted and opposed by the Devil and his host of wicked angels, and that such invisible ones are using men to carry out their wicked works, and that men thus used are the ones who have yielded to religion and thereby have been seduced by Satan. The work of Jehovah's witnesses and "his camp" is to obey God and magnify his name that the people may learn their only means of salvation.

WARNING HIS PEOPLE

Many centuries ago, and in the days of his typical people Israel, Jehovah caused the prophecy of Joel to be uttered. Up to this point in the prophecy God tells of hypocritical religion, and

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of his purpose to destroy religion. He knew the end from the beginning, and in due time God informs his covenant people as to the meaning of the prophecy and what their duty is at this time. By his prophet Jehovah now addresses those who have made a covenant to do his will and to follow in the footsteps of Christ Jesus. The warning from Jehovah to his covenant people is that they must put away now everything pertaining to religion and give themselves wholly and without reservation to his service. "Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning." — Joel 2:12.

This part of the prophecy appears to have the beginning of its fulfillment in completeness shortly before the beginning of God's "strange work", that is, between the years A.D. 1918 and 1922. Long before that time God had caused his prophets to utter his judgment against religion and to foretell his "strange work" and what would be the effect on religion. His covenant people during the "Elijah period" of the church from 1878 to 1918, and prior thereto, were walking with the religionists and had imbibed many religious formalisms and practices. It was difficult for them to get away from something that they did not understand was against God. The time came for them, however, to separate themselves completely from the religious institutions. While walking with religionists the condition of God's covenant people was such that, figuratively speaking, they were clothed with filthy garments, which filth they had gathered

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upon them by association with the Babylonish religious systems and giving honor to high dignitaries in such organizations. The time came when they must be cleansed, and the Lord said to them: "And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment." — Zechariah 3:4.

The "Refiner's fire" and "Fuller's soap" did the cleansing work when the Lord came to his temple and began judgment. (Malachi 3:1-3) All those who stood before the Lord at the temple judgment are of necessity included in the foregoing admonition to forsake everything pertaining to the world and turn wholly to the Lord. Therefore Jehovah through his prophet says: "Turn ye even to me with all your heart."

Prior to that God's covenant people were trying to develop character, and that in such perfect form that Jehovah could approve them; that is to say, they were trying to grow up to perfection by their own efforts. They had been taught and believed that a Christian must so deport himself that he would have the approval of worldly people who looked upon him; that he must recognize the state as the "higher powers"; and that he must be careful to cause no offense to religionists, and particularly to the high dignitaries in the religious organization. The vindication of Jehovah's name was unknown to those of the Elijah period, and the kingdom was a secondary matter to be looked forward to. Most of those of the Elijah period were looking

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forward to their resurrection change, when they would be taken to heaven to 'help rule mankind and restore them'. In due time God revealed to his covenant people that such a course of action is not the proper one; that they must not bestow honor upon men; that it is impossible for these to bring themselves to perfection, but that their sufficiency before him is in Christ Jesus, their Head and perfect guide; and that each and every one must wholly turn himself to and obey the Lord's commandments in support of the kingdom. (Isaiah 6:1-9) These truths began to be revealed to his people after the coming of Christ Jesus to the temple.

His witnesses must be equipped, and therefore they must forsake religion. They must recognize God and Christ Jesus as the only "Higher Powers". They must put away the fear of men and really fear God. The filth upon their garments of identification, received while in Babylon, must be put away, and this they would do by separating themselves entirely from the Babylonish systems and devoting themselves exclusively to God's kingdom; and, thus cleansing their garments, they would be identified as for God and for his kingdom. Because of Babylonish practices the covenant people of Jehovah had been brought into a snare and, in a measure, made captives and prisoners by the enemy. God's word addressed to typical Israel now became appropriately applied to spiritual Israel, to wit: "O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Take with you words, and turn to the Lord: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us gracious-

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ly; so will we render the calves of our lips." — Hosea 14:1, 2.

Those gathered at the temple and who receive the Lord's approval must show their love exclusively for God and for his kingdom. (Deuteronomy 6: 5, 6; 1 John 5: 3) They must turn to God "with all your heart [devotion], and with fasting, and with weeping", because of the iniquity received in Babylon, and henceforth they must abstain from indulging the flesh according to religion, in order that proper service and worship might be rendered unto Jehovah God. 'Fasting and weeping' would mean refraining from everything religious, because religion dishonors God's holy name and is a reproach to his people. Mourning because of their past iniquity shows that his servants are in a right attitude toward Jehovah God and in a position to receive his blessings and approval. "Blessed are they that mourn; for they shall be comforted." (Matthew 5:4) The Lord does comfort and has comforted all of Zion who have turned entirely, wholly and completely to him, who have turned away from religion, and who have unhesitatingly exposed religion and declared themselves unequivocally and without compromise for Jehovah and his kingdom.

Such turning to the Lord must not be a formal matter, but must be done sincerely and truly, and in order to receive God's approval his servants must see and appreciate that the issue that is now to be settled is the vindication of Jehovah's name and that it is the most important thing; that therefore the kingdom is the most

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important doctrine because the means by which Jehovah vindicates his name.

The Lord does not command that his people shall go about in grief and sorrow before the world, nor even before one another. Note he says through his prophet: "And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God; for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil." — Joel 2:13.

Outward signs of grief would count for nothing and could not be pleasing to God when indulged in that others might look upon such action. True sorrow of heart because of failure to do God's will is manifested by the creature towards Jehovah, and not for the purpose of being seen by men. There must be a truly contrite spirit, that is, a genuine heart-sorrow because of failure in the past to show complete devotion to God and his kingdom. (Psalm 51:17,18) There must be a true inward sorrow, which the Lord alone sees; for he is the one whose approval must be had and enjoyed. The snare into which God's sincere people had fallen was due to the religious influence about them and because of their own negligence and fear of creatures. When God revealed to them the plight in which they were, the sincere ones were truly sorrowful and ashamed. They turned to the Lord, and his mercy was shown unto them. "For he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness." The Lord must have a cleansed people, who would offer unto him an offering in righteousness, and those who were truly devoted to God when being judged at the

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temple received his mercy: "Therefore thus saith the Lord, I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies; my house shall be built in it, saith the Lord of hosts, and a line [of constructive work] shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem [Jehovah's visible organization, which had been desolated in 1918 by the efforts of the enemy]." — Zechariah 1:16.

It is not the will of God that his sincere servants shall perish, but that they should turn to him when they see the right way, and, doing so readily, receive his blessings: "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." — 2 Peter 3: 9.

God was angry with the erring ones during 1918, but when the faithful ones saw their condition they speedily sought the face of Jehovah, and that with true and sincere sorrow of heart. Then the Lord showed his mercy to such and filled their mouth with praise for him, and this he foretold by his prophet Isaiah (12:1,2): "And in that day thou shalt say, O Lord, I will praise thee; though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me. Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid; for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation." Instead of destroying the sincere yet erring ones when the Lord came to his temple, he cleansed them, and then Jehovah "shortened" the day of tribulation for their sake, affording them an opportunity to prove their love for him. (Matthew 24:21,22) The

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destruction of "Christendom" was postponed or delayed that the "elect" might have full opportunity to bear testimony to the name of Jehovah before "Christendom" and might therefore have a part in doing God's "strange work".

God could not approve these sincere hearing ones unless such hearing ones, when informed of their mistake, would be diligent to repent and seek his face with prayer and fasting and sincere heart-sorrow: "Who knoweth if he will return [(R.V.) whether he will not turn] and repent, and leave a blessing behind him; even a meat offering, and a drink offering, unto the Lord your God?"  — Joel 2:14.

The faithful remnant did obey God's admonition to turn to him wholly and to avoid religion and shun it, and now they have the proof from the Lord that their course was right and they know that God did turn away from them destruction and hence did change his course of action and cleanse and purify the remnant and reinstated them in his service and did make them his witnesses. Those who held to religion and religious practice could not have God's blessing, and such fell into the "evil servant" class. Jehovah's "strange work", as pictured by the locust plague, could not be stopped and set aside, but its coming did not do evil to the faithful remnant, but afforded great blessings to them by giving them a part in Jehovah's "strange work". "Christendom" did not repent, and therefore God sends upon "Christendom" his army of "locusts" that engage in his "strange work", which results in destroying the food and the pasture of the religionists. God having given

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his witnesses, the "locusts", a part in his "strange work" as stated in the prophecy, he has 'left behind him blessings' since 1922, and such blessings as had not been enjoyed by his people before. "A meat [meal] offering, and a drink offering, unto the Lord your God," have been graciously provided by Jehovah for his faithful servants that they might serve him in verity and offer to him an offering in righteousness. (Malachi 3: 3) No one else has received such blessings from the Lord. As Jehovah's witnesses go forward in the strength of the Lord, having a part in his "strange work", their blessings continue to increase and their joy is greatly enlarged.

CALL TO ACTION

The "Elijah work" came to an end in 1918 (2 Kings 2: 9-12), and the consecrated throughout the earth reached a state of inactivity for some time. In the year 1919, and shortly after the removal of their restraint and their release from captivity, God's consecrated people began to awaken to the necessity of busying themselves, and this without doubt was due to the fact that the Lord was directing them; and this is shown by the words of his prophet: "Blow the trumpet in Zion, sanctify a fast, call a solemn assembly." (Joel 2:15) Zion (referring to God's organization, and including the visible part thereof on earth) awakened. That blowing of the trumpet in Zion was for the good of God's released and restored spiritual Israelites, his "remnant" on the earth, and did not call at that time for the activity concerning the "great mul-

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titude". The time had arrived for God's people to become active, and the call went forth for immediate action. The Society sounded the alarm from the columns of The Watchtower, and a solemn assembly was called. That call was to renewed activity in Jehovah's service with that fearlessness that had been pictured long ago by the prophet Elisha. In the face of great opposition and much reproach the faithful witnesses of Jehovah responded with joy and zeal to that call, and in 1922 the witness work began in a really organized, systematic and increased manner.

MINUTE INSTRUCTION

Among the strongest proofs that Jehovah is guiding his people in the way they should go is that shown when Jehovah uses them to fulfill his prophecy and then afterwards gives them an understanding of the prophecy, and reveals to his people that they have been so used. During the World War God's servants on the earth were broken up and scattered by the enemy, particularly the religious element thereof. They must be regathered and enter the service of Jehovah, and the prophecy of Joel shows God's guiding hand in this matter. (Joel 2:16) In the year 1919 the servant class began to be gathered together and to prepare to devote themselves with renewed zeal to the service of the Lord, and therefore to be a sanctified company, set aside for the exclusive service of Jehovah. "Assemble the old men." (R.V.) That instruction could not refer to the "elective elders", but manifestly refers to those more mature ones amongst the

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Lord's people, and who elsewhere are pictured by Mordecai and Naomi and who remained faithful under the test imposed upon them during the World War. "Gather the children," says the prophecy; and that seems to apply to the younger ones coming into the servant class and who were pictured by Esther and Ruth, and who were added to the "faithful servant" class from and after 1922. Incidentally this instruction shows the will of God concerning minor children, that they should be brought along to the meeting or assembly place with the older ones and there hear and learn about God's kingdom.

The admonition or instruction of the Lord applies to every one of the consecrated, regardless of position in the organization. Note that the prophecy says "the bridegroom" and "the bride" must go forth. Symbolically this means all those who have entered into the marriage relationship then must not permit that to be any excuse for inactivity in the service. The fact that one is the husband and the other is the wife is no justification or excuse to remain out of the service. When a person makes a covenant to do the will of God, that covenant takes precedence over all other covenants, whether made before or after consecration. The marital relationship will not excuse one from fulfilling his or her covenant to serve Jehovah, because the covenant with Jehovah is of paramount importance. The kingdom has come; and to announce the King, who will vindicate Jehovah's name, is the privilege and duty of everyone who has taken the vow of consecration. To those who have agreed to follow Jesus he says: "If any man come to me, and

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hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." — Luke 14:26.

With stronger force those words apply today to those who are in a covenant to do God's will. To beseech the brethren, who have made a consecration, to make good that covenant by entering into the service and to zealously engage in the work of the Lord, is the privilege of each one of the remnant. The apostle Paul did that very thing: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."  —Romans 12:1.

Some amongst the consecrated were inclined to think that because of their position and standing in the congregation they should not engage in the house-to-house witness work, but that their part was chiefly to make speeches and to serve at meetings. But note the instruction of the Lord through his prophet concerning such: "Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare thy people, 0 Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God?"  — Joel 2:17.

The priests and ministers here mentioned picture all in line for the royal priesthood; and all of these, having been brought into the temple, must now offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness, to wit, "the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips,

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giving thanks to his name." (Hebrews 13:15) Regardless of the position occupied, no consecrated one could be excused from the guilt and fault of God's people, nor from sorrow from reproach upon His name, nor from praying for the vindication of His name. All were guilty who had been thus negligent, and all were admonished to weep and to show real sorrow and a contrite heart for the neglect or lack of zeal in making known the name of the Most High. Not that they should magnify themselves, but that they should show a real and genuine desire to magnify the name of Jehovah and make known that his kingdom is here.

Then says the prophet: "Spare thy people, O Lord." They were instructed to cry thus openly and admitting guilt, negligence, or failure to perform service under adverse conditions. The keenest interest of the consecrated must be in the kingdom and for the vindication of Jehovah's name. God had taken out from the nations a "people for his name", which consecrated people constituted the heritage of the Lord; and so these were instructed to pray to God: "Give not thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen [religionists who do not serve God] should use a by-word against them" (margin); "should mock them" (Rotherham). If God should send a plague upon his people the religionists would mock. They mock God by denying his existence and by saying: "God is not all-powerful; hence his people suffer." It was necessary for the "faithful servant" class to be shown mercy and to be recovered from the erring way, and particularly from religion and religious practice, that they

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might avoid the plague that was coming, which has now come upon "Christendom", and that they might be servants to the honor and praise of Jehovah. In harmony with this God put in the mouth of his consecrated people this prayer, which they pray:

"Help us, 0 God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name; and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name's sake. Wherefore should the heathen say, Where is their God? let him be known among the heathen in our sight, by the revenging of the blood of thy servants which is shed. Let the sighing of the prisoner come before thee; according to the greatness of thy power preserve thou those that are appointed to die: and render unto our neighbours sevenfold into their bosom their reproach, wherewith they have reproached thee, O Lord." — Psalm 79:9-12.

The admonition and instruction from the Lord, set out in the prophecy, is not for any selfish reason, but for the well-being of God's covenant people, that they may be in a proper condition of mind and heart to serve Jehovah as they have agreed to do. If the servant class would follow the course marked out for them and would repent and reform and get busy to carry out their covenant, Jehovah would safeguard the interests of his people and prosper them; and such was the promise of the Lord: "Then will the Lord be jealous for his land, and pity his people." — Joel 2:18.

Those who were approved at the temple judgment and taken into God's organization, forming the remnant of his anointed, did repent and

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reform, and then Jehovah did show, and continues to show, his loving-kindness for them, and these are represented in the last-quoted prophecy as "his land". God delivered them from being prisoners of Satan's crowd and took away from them the fear of man. He opened the way for the remnant to enter fully into his service and to thereafter proclaim fearlessly his kingdom message.

Since 1922 the Lord has clearly revealed to his people that their fight is not against the weaknesses of the flesh, nor against flesh-and-blood creatures, but that their fight is against Satan and the host of wicked ones, invisible to human eyes, that have overreached men and used men to set up and operate religious institutions, by and through which they have made war against God's covenant people. His faithful ones have learned that, in order to withstand the enemy, they cannot rely upon their own ability, but that each one must be fully equipped with the armor of the Lord and rely upon him. The covenant people of God have learned that the time is here for a complete showdown with the Devil's crowd and that therefore this is "the evil day". The time arrived, therefore, for specific instruction as to what course the anointed should take, and the Lord, through his Word, says to them: "Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand." (Ephesians 6:13) No time now to ask yourself, What will the people think about me if I go out in the service? No reason now to say, Shall I be able to demonstrate that I have

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developed a beautiful character and can always be sweet under all conditions? What creatures think of the remnant is not material. How God regards them is of all-importance.

Mark well the equipment which the Lord has provided and which he instructs the remnant now to put on: "Having your loins girt about with [the] truth"; that is to say, show that you are a real servant of the truth who is not abashed or ashamed, but who boldly serves God and his King at all times. Put on the "breastplate of righteousness"; that is to say, demonstrate that your heart motive is wholly, entirely and without compromise for Jehovah and his kingdom and that you are pursuing a singleness of purpose to serve God and his kingdom. Have "your feet shod with . . . the gospel of peace"; that is to say, fully equipped to enter upon and go over rough and rocky roads, made so by the enemy, and at all times and under all circumstances of adversity proclaim the good news of 'peace to those of good will toward God'. Note the fight is not against your fellow creatures. You are not fighting against some earthly institution or men of earth, but contending at all times for the kingdom under Christ, and your only hope is in God and in Christ, and you are warring against the enemies of God and the enemies of his kingdom. Then the admonition is given: "Above all, [take] the shield of faith," against which the darts of the enemy avail nothing. Faith consists of a knowledge of Jehovah's expressed purpose and a full and complete reliance upon his Word; and, having that shield, the darts of the enemy cannot deter the faithful

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servant in performance of duty. The Devil and all his angels cannot convince the remnant that their cause is hopeless. Their confidence and trust is implicitly in God and Christ his King. Furthermore, "Take the helmet of salvation"; that is to say, have an intellectual appreciation of the proper relationship between the remnant and Jehovah God and his kingdom and rely upon God's Word, knowing that salvation belongeth to Jehovah and that there is no other means of salvation and victory. 'Take the sword of the spirit, the word of God,' and use it as the Lord has directed it shall be used. (Vss. 14-17) That means to completely expose the religion of the Devil and his angels, and to do so by pointing out to the people from the Word of God that religion is a snare and a racket, and against God and against his kingdom. Thus equipped with the armor which the Lord has provided for his covenant people, they could not be dismayed by Satan and his agents. Some of the consecrated, when brought before the temple for judgment, failed to obey and to meet the test, but leaned to their own understanding; while some were fully obedient. And now mark what has been the result upon each class.



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