The Christian Warrior
THE wars of the faithful witnesses of pre-Christian days were holy, because they were theocratic and were fought in the name of Jehovah of hosts and at his direction and command. The warfare of the true Christians today, who are likewise witnesses of Jehovah, is no less holy, sacred, for it too is theocratic. In many cases the valiant witnesses of Jehovah in those ancient days fought with material weapons inflicting bodily death. May the Christian witnesses of today likewise fight with such material, death-dealing weapons? It is for Jehovah to answer and instruct our consciences.
2In ancient times the faithful witnesses of Jehovah often fought against heavy concentrations of the enemy, but now the Christian witnesses of Jehovah have the greatest fight of history on their hands. The ancient witnesses battling for Jehovah faced human foes and armed themselves with man-made weapons. The present-day Christian witnesses of Jehovah face and grapple with a superhuman foe. It is an unseen foe, but, just the same, the warfare with him is very real. It is therefore a conflict requiring constant vigilance and steady alertness, a perpetual warfare, a lifelong conflict, from which there is no furlough granted us, in which there is no truce, no armistice. In it there is continual need of divine exhortation to keep one in fighting trim, ever courageous. The conflict reaches its intensity in what is called "the wicked day." There is no more any question about it: that "wicked day" is here, for Satan the Devil and his invisible demons have been cast out of heaven down to the earth and the "ruler of the demons" has great anger because he knows he has but a short period of time until the greatest war of all time, the universal war of Armageddon.—Rev. 12:7-13, 17; 16:14-16; Matt. 12:24, NW.
3That is why this warfare is different from that of worldly armies. It is with a different foe. Worldly armies fight for the god of this system of things of which they are a part; the Christian witnesses of Jehovah fight against the "god of this system of things." (2 Cor. 4:4, NW) That is why they need different weapons, a fighting equipment that none of the armament makers of this system of things can turn out. They know their enemy, and they know the only fighting equipment with which they can fight him and win. It is a fighting equipment from the greatest Fighter of them all, Jehovah God. In words pointing out this needed equipment and exposing the enemy, Jehovah’s Word says: "Finally, go on acquiring power in the Lord and in the mightiness of his strength. Put on the complete suit of armor from God that you may be able to stand firm against the machinations of the Devil; because we have a fight, not against blood and flesh, but against the [non-blood-and-flesh] governments, against the authorities, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places. On this account take up the complete suit of armor from God, that you may be able to resist in the wicked day and, after you have done all things thoroughly, to stand firm."—Eph. 6:10-13, NW.
4The fact that our enemy is spiritual, superhuman, alters altogether the nature of our warfare and the nature of our weapons of war. True, the witnesses of ancient times did in many cases fight with the various weapons of ancient warfare, and those witnesses furnished a prophetic picture or type of the Christian witnesses of Jehovah today, in their theocratic warfare against Satan the Devil and his superhuman hosts, the demons that are higher and more powerful than blood and flesh.
5Another thing: The priests of the family of Aaron and also all the rest of the men of the tribe of Levi were exempted from the secular duties of other Israelite men. The great Theocrat’s command to Moses on this was clear-cut: "Only the tribe of Levi you must not register and the sum of them you must not take in among the sons of Israel. And you yourself appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of the Testimony and over all its utensils and over everything that belongs to it. They themselves will carry the tabernacle and all its utensils and they themselves will minister at it, and around the tabernacle they are to camp." The record of the registration of the other Israelites for theocratic activities against the enemies of Israel says: "These were the registered ones of the sons of Israel according to the house of their fathers; all the registered ones of the camps in their armies were six hundred and three thousand five hundred and fifty. But the Levites did not get registered in among the sons of Israel, just as Jehovah had commanded Moses." (Num. 1:1-50; 2:32, 33, NW) Thus those doing sacred service at the tabernacle or temple, namely, the men of the tribe of Levi, including the priests, were exempted from this general registration and its obligations. All those natural Israelites, the registered men and the Levites and all the rest of the tribes of the nation, pictured spiritual Israel, the one, true Christian congregation of which Jesus Christ is the Head. But in this picture there is the following difference today:
6In spiritual Israel there is no such division of members into secular registrants, priests and Levites and other nonregistered ones. Spiritual Israel, the one true church built upon Jesus Christ the Rock, are all of them priests, all consecrated by God and to his sacred service. (Matt. 16:18) The apostle Peter himself put this fact beyond dispute, when he addressed himself to the Christians sanctified by God’s spirit and said: "Coming to him as to a living stone, rejected, it is true, by men, but chosen, precious, with God, you yourselves also as living stones are being built up a spiritual house for the purpose of a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. . . . you are ‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for special possession, that you should declare abroad the excellencies’ of the one that called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. For you were once not a people, but are now God’s people; you were those who had not been shown mercy, but are now those who have been shown mercy."—1 Pet. 1:1, 2; 2:4-10, NW.
7The 144,000 members of the true church or Christian congregation are a priesthood, every one a spiritual priest, and Jesus Christ is their High Priest. In their holy service to God and in their attitudes toward this world these Christian underpriests imitate him. (Heb. 3:1; 1 Cor. 11:1) They form a spiritual house for the indwelling of God by his spirit, and Jesus is the chief cornerstone of this spiritual temple, and they may not be profaned and desecrated by wrong use by this world. (Eph. 2:19-22; 1 Cor. 3:16, 17; Matt. 26:51-56) It is for this powerful reason that Jehovah God has exempted ALL of them, the entire church or congregation, from taking part with carnal weapons in the oncoming battle of Armageddon. Hence, being no part of this world which will be destroyed at Armageddon, these underpriests of Jesus Christ must keep a strict neutrality toward the present-day conflicts of the nations and must apply themselves to their priestly duties toward the people of all nations alike, without partiality or discrimination.
8The Christian congregation under their High Priest Jesus being all a "holy nation," "a royal priesthood," it is Jehovah God himself who objects to their adulterously meddling and taking an active part in the affairs of this world. He commands them: "Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; cleanse yourselves, ye that bear the vessels of Jehovah." (Isa. 52:11, AS) Thus Jehovah states his objection for the guidance of the Christian conscience, and His objection is determinative.
9The Christian witnesses of Jehovah do not go around in the religious toggery of Christendom’s clergy, but dress simply in ordinary clothes of the everyday man or woman. We even work part-time at secular occupation, and we were doing this before ever the "worker priests" of France were authorized to do some honest work in the shops to try to stop the advance of communism. Most of the Christian witnesses of Jehovah work at honest occupations part-time as the apostle Paul did, in order to be apostolic and provide for our natural needs decently and honorably and not financially burden the congregations with which we are associated. Because we do not differentiate ourselves from the rest of the people by wearing high-sounding titles or unusual religious garments or living a life of ease as a clergyman, the authorities of this world may not look on us as consecrated priests of God, but look on us according to what we appear to be in the flesh. Because they do not have the Bible viewpoint they may do as the apostle Paul said, "appraise us as if we walked according to what we are in the flesh." But for a warning against such a wrong appraisal of us the inspired apostle adds: "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not wage warfare according to what we are in the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but powerful by God for overturning strongly entrenched things. For we are overturning reasonings and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are bringing every thought into captivity to make it obedient to the Christ, and we are holding ourselves in readiness to inflict punishment for every disobedience [but not with death-inflicting carnal weapons], as soon as your own obedience has been fully carried out. You look at things according to their face value." (2 Cor. 10:2-7, NW) So we must disabuse the minds of those who take us at face value and so do not appraise us as ministers of Jehovah God, consecrated priests of the Most High God, members of a "holy nation," not of this world.
10Under inspiration the apostle tells us as Christ’s followers that we do not fight against flesh and blood and that our weapons are not carnal. We are consecrated priests not subject to militarization to take a violent part in the battle of Armageddon. But carrying on our priestly duties even into the midst of that "war of the great day of God the Almighty," we shall be harmless bystanders, joyful spectators of how Jehovah God and his angelic hosts under Jesus Christ will fight the victorious battle against the Devil’s organization, visible and invisible. The sum of that argument means that we are engaged in a spiritual fight. It is a spiritual warfare to which we are sanctified. We are enlisted in a spiritual army in a theocratic war, and our Commander is the Son of God, Jesus Christ, and he is the one we have to please by obedience and imitation. The same apostle Paul, writing the young man Timothy, made that point clear by telling him: "As a right kind of soldier of Christ Jesus take your part in suffering evil. No man serving as a soldier involves himself in the commercial businesses of life, in order that he may meet the approval of the one who enrolled him as a soldier." (2 Tim. 2:3, 4, NW) It is the approval of Christ Jesus that we are obliged to meet, for he has enrolled us in the theocratic army and we are ‘soldiers of Christ Jesus’ and we must show ourselves the right kind by suffering evil for his sake.
11Jesus Christ our Commander said: "No one can be a slave to two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will stick to the one and despise the other." (Matt. 6:24, NW) As soldiers of Jesus Christ we are engaged in a sacred warfare "against the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places" and we must continue to preach the good news of God’s kingdom that the light of the good news may put to rout the forces of darkness. The efforts of Christendom’s rulers to religionize their wars, calling them "crusades" and other such catchy names, does not alter the case for Jehovah’s priesthood. By thus trying to religionize their combats the rulers are setting up an establishment of religion. They are dictating religiously to those who should have the freedom of conscience to choose their own religion or the freedom to choose to follow Jehovah’s Word and guide their conscience by his Word. Respecting an establishing of one religion and prohibiting the practice of another the apostle Peter and his fellow apostles said to the Jewish High Court: "We must obey God as ruler rather than men."—Acts 5:29, NW.
MENOF GOOD WILL IN THE WARFARE
12Engaged in the wars of ancient Israel there were not only the natural Israelites of the theocratic nation but also valiant foreigners of good will. Enlisted in the armies of King David there were such foreigners as Uriah the Hittite who refused to sleep at home when God’s ark and his theocratic army were tenting in the field, because he wanted to remain sanctified constantly for the fight and be ready for duty at a moment’s notice, undisqualified. Then, too, there was Zelek the Ammonite; Ithmah the Moabite; also Ittai the Gittite, a Philistine of Gath, together with six hundred other Gittites; and also King David’s special bodyguard known as the Cherethites and the Pelethites, who are understood to have been foreigners.—2 Sam. 11:6-17; 23:37-39; 1 Chron. 11:26, 46; 2 Sam. 15:18, 19; 8:18; 20:7, 23; 1 Ki. 1:38, 44; 1 Chron. 18:17.
13Whom do these foreign fellow warriors of David in his battles for Jehovah picture? They picture the men of good will of all nations today, the loyal companions of the remnant of the "royal priesthood" under Christ Jesus the High Priest. But though not spiritual priests they are not authorized by Jehovah God to take part in the unclean affairs of this world any more than the remnant of spiritual Israel are. They have come under the same Commander as the remnant of spiritual priests; the warfare that they wage can be only the spiritual warfare, theocratic warfare, so they cannot and will not wield any carnal weapon at the battle of Armageddon or turn any hand toward violence in that war. "Other sheep" of the Right Shepherd of God these may be, but they have been gathered to the Shepherd’s one fold in company with the spiritual sheep of the "little flock" and they must follow the one Shepherd together with these. (John 10:14-16; Luke 12:32) The warfare of both groups in the one fold is the one warfare, the spiritual, the theocratic, the holy warfare. For this warfare both have been sanctified, for both have listened to the voice of the Right Shepherd, Christ Jesus, who is the Greater David, and then both have dedicated themselves to Jehovah God to follow faithfully in the Shepherd’s footsteps. They may not follow any other commander, paying attention to other voices that may call.
14These "other sheep" from all nations already form a "great crowd" in company with the spiritual remnant, but they keep on coming into the fold and will continue to do so until the outbreak of the universal conflict at Armageddon. The prophecy foretelling their coming describes them as standing before God’s throne and rendering him sacred service day and night in his temple. (Rev. 7:9-15, NW) How could these "other sheep" of good will be doing this and at the same time become embroiled in all the "works of the flesh" of unsanctified men? They could not do so and at the same time inherit earthly blessings under God’s kingdom in the new world. The prophecies of Isaiah and of Micah describe them as coming up to the house of Jehovah and tell us what he teaches them and what he requires of them in these last days of this old world. We read: "And it shall come to pass in the latter days, that the mountain of Jehovah’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many peoples shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem. And he will judge between the nations, and will decide concerning many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." (Isa. 2:2-4, AS) Micah’s prophecy (4:1-3) gives a double emphasis to that prophecy of Isaiah.
15As both prophecies apply right now at the coming of "other sheep," men of good will of all nations, to Jehovah’s temple, it is now that the worldly nations marvel because they do not see these "sheep" at God’s temple taking up the weapons that Isaiah and Micah mention or learning any longer the arts of modern untheocratic warfare. They act like inoffensive "sheep" of the heavenly Shepherd. (John 10:16; Rev. 7:15-17) These have learned of Jehovah’s judgment and decision and have come to know that his law and word from the heavenly Zion forbid them to carry on the "works of the flesh" as before, but now they must turn to the arts of peace which they will practice in the new world just ahead. These "other sheep" are the desired things, the things precious to God out of all nations, and they have come to his house or temple, filling it with glory. There they must recognize and obey the will of God which the prophecy of Haggai 2:9 tells us is: "And in this place will I give peace, saith Jehovah of hosts." So they must keep the peace and not be disturbing elements among the spiritual priesthood, the spiritual temple class. This spiritual priesthood may not sanction their engaging in violent combats among themselves at the temple of Jehovah God or engaging in violent combat with outsiders at the battle of Armageddon.—Hag. 2:7-9, AS; Jas. 4:1-4.
16Our joint warfare must accordingly be a spiritual warfare. And for this both flocks of us must take up the same God-given suit of armor in obedience to the command: "Stand firm, therefore, with your loins girded about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness, and with your feet shod with the equipment of the good news of peace. Above all things, take up the large shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the wicked one’s burning missiles. Also accept the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, that is, God’s word, while with every form of prayer and supplication you carry on prayer on every occasion in spirit. And to that end keep awake with all constancy and with supplication in behalf of all the holy ones, also for me, that ability to speak may be given me with the opening of my mouth, with all freeness of speech to make known the sacred secret of the good news, for which I am acting as an ambassador in chains, that I may speak in connection with it with boldness as I ought to speak."—Eph. 6:14-20, NW.
17With this suit of armor you can now be a peaceful resident of earth, harming no blood and flesh, and at the same time carry on a theocratic spiritual fight against the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places that use their earthly human dupes to try to stop freeness of speech in preaching the good news with boldness. The "sword of the spirit," or spiritual sword, is God’s Word. With it you can do no bodily violence to anyone, but, instead, immense spiritual good. A Korean War general recently said, "The pen is mightier than the sword," meaning the literal sword. In turn the Word of God is mightier than the pen of worldly men, and hence is mightier than the literal sword. The apostle Paul also said that the alive Word of God "exerts power and is sharper than any two-edged sword." (Heb. 4:12, NW) Why, then, should we who are sanctified to the sacred, theocratic warfare lift up a less mighty, an inferior weapon against one another any more? Why should we not use the mightier sword, the superior weapon, the spiritual sword, the Word of God, against our common enemy, the "wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places"? Our mightiness in war lies in weapons from God, and these only we may use.
18Let us not overlook, either, that prayer is an essential part of our warfare, a necessary addition to our defensive armor. Prayer in the thick of theocratic battle is very vital. Long ago it brought victory to King Asa of Judah. Realizing that his army of five hundred and eighty thousand sanctified warriors was no physical match for the army of a million Ethiopians with three hundred chariots under Zerah the Ethiopian, Asa prayed fervently: "Jehovah, there is none besides thee to help, between the mighty and him that hath no strength: help us, O Jehovah our God; for we rely on thee, and in thy name are we come against this multitude. O Jehovah, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee." In answer to that supplication man did not prevail, not even a million men. As it is written: "So Jehovah smote the Ethiopians before Asa, and before Judah; and the Ethiopians fled. And . . . there fell of the Ethiopians so many that they could not recover themselves; for they were destroyed before Jehovah, and before his host." (2 Chron. 14:9-14, AS) This record was written aforetime for our learning; and what a grand illustration it is of how prayer aids to victory! Let us offer it now, always.
19Here, then, we stand in the wicked day, clad in theocratic armor, sanctified for the sacred warfare in Jehovah’s cause. We are facing the universal war of Armageddon. That will be the most violent and disastrous fight of all human experience. But we shall not need to take part in the violence of that time. From the ancient prophetic pictures of Armageddon come the words of Jehovah to us: "The battle is not yours, but God’s." "Stand firm and see the salvation of Jehovah, which he will perform for you today. . . . Jehovah will himself fight for you." (2 Chron. 20:15; Ex. 14:13, 14, NW) Those words are a prohibition against our then dropping our spiritual armor and taking up carnal weapons and relying upon their use for or against anyone on earth at the battle of Armageddon. We must keep our sanctification for our sacred warfare down to the all-out attack upon our New World society by Gog the sovereign prince of Magog and the outbreak of Armageddon by Jehovah’s countermove against him in our defense. (Ezek. 38:1 to 39:22, AS, margin) Our High Priest Christ Jesus has offered his human sacrifice for us by which we gain a sanctified condition before God for our spiritual conflict. We have consulted the will of God by means of him and have learned that we must "contend for victory in the right contest of the faith." (1 Tim. 6:12, NW) We know we must each prove to be a "right kind of soldier of Christ Jesus." He as our High Priest is with us in the camp to counsel us and to encourage us not to fear the enemy but to move forward doing God’s will as theocratic soldiers. Our warfare for Jehovah’s glory and vindication is a holy warfare, a sacred obligation, a sanctified duty, and our Christian conscience finds no objection to engaging in this theocratic warfare in holy armor, but we eagerly enlist in this service as loyal volunteers.—Ps. 110:3, AT.
20Our camp we must keep clean by living holily, committing no fornication with this enemy world, that Jehovah may see nothing indecent among us and turn away from accompanying us. Clad in the spiritual armor of God, we must continually fight now against the "wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places," valiantly wielding the "sword of the spirit, that is, God’s word," by preaching in all the inhabited earth the good news of God’s established kingdom. Then as the decisive battle nears, yes, even as we enter the "war of the great day of God the Almighty," we as a "holy nation" and "royal priesthood," together with all our companion warriors of good will from all nations, will be worthy to sing Jehovah’s praises and to blow the trumpets for a courageous advance against the foe with full confidence that Jehovah will give us the victory. And as we fight on in support of the preaching of the good news we will pray fervently in faith for one another and for the success of the divine cause. Then our theocratic warfare will not be in vain. No, but it will be garlanded with God’s own victory by Christ Jesus and with eternal life in the righteous new world for us as sharers in His victory! (1 Cor. 15:57, 58, NW) "The battle is not yours, but God’s."—2 Chron. 20:15, AS.