JW's NOT Pacifists!
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.
The Sacredness of Our Warfare
"For Jehovah your God is walking about within your camp to deliver you and to abandon your enemies to you, and your camp must prove to be holy, that he may see nothing indecent in you and certainly turn away from accompanying you."—Deut. 23:14, NW.
IF ANYONE is at warfare it is Jehovah’s witnesses. (Isa. 43:10-12; 44:8, AS) For the past six thousand years few, if any, have been the centuries that have not been disturbed by warfare between fleshly contenders and reddened by the blood of the slain. But for these witnesses of the Most High God it has been a continual warfare, a lifelong conflict, a daily battle, with no furloughs granted them by the One for whom they have fought, with no truces, no armistice, through all the sixty centuries. With heavenly aid they have been able to endure until now, so that Jehovah’s witnesses are still upon the scene of action today, and the fight goes on. They will not abandon it, for theirs is a holy warfare, a sacred conflict, in the midst of an ungodly world.
2To this day the warfare of this world has been a violent settlement of the disputes of this world with violence and blood. Always men have made the attempt to religionize the wars of this world. Thus they try to justify their course of violence and to make the one taking part in the conflicts feel conscience-free, feel it is his obligation to his god to lend himself to the fight, and feel that his future will be a favored and happy one for his having taken a violent hand in the cruelties of war. Always it has been the human practice to shove the responsibility for the war onto God and declare that it is his will and teach that a warrior is serving God and his cause. Among the nations of this world, war has been made a sacred thing, a holy duty.
3Testifying to the fact that war was considered a holy business, in ancient times the nations had their gods of war. The bellicose Greeks had their god A´res and the Romans their god Mars, with temples dedicated to these gods. When the Philistines defeated the Israelites and killed King Saul and three of his sons, "they stripped him, and took his head, and his armor, and sent into the land of the Philistines round about, to carry the tidings unto their idols, and to the people. And they put his armor in the house of their gods, and fastened his head in the house of Dagon." (1 Chron. 10:9, 10, AS) Not only did the pagan nations ascribe their victories to their gods and take the trophies of war to their temples, but they also consulted their gods or the occult powers for guidance and instruction before a military campaign. Late in the seventh century before Christ the Babylonian emperor Nebuchadnezzar found himself faced with a choice. He found himself in Palestine at the fork of a road, one of its branches leading southeast toward the Ammonite city of Rabbah and the other branch leading southwest to Jerusalem. To determine his choice he appealed to sources higher than human. "For the king of Babylon stood at the parting of the way, at the head of the two ways, to use divination: he shook the arrows to and fro, he consulted the teraphim [images], he looked in the liver. In his right hand was the divination for Jerusalem, to set battering rams, to open the mouth in the slaughter, to lift up the voice with shouting, to set battering rams against the gates, to cast up mounds, to build forts." (Ezek. 21:20-22, AS) Being thus guided to a decision not his own, Nebuchadnezzar moved confidently against Jerusalem, feeling certain that he was carrying out the will of his god Marduk and would meet with success. Jerusalem fell before him in the summer of 607 B.C., not due to Marduk, but really because Jehovah, the God whom the unfaithful city had abandoned, had entered the decree of destruction against it already forty years in advance.—Jer. 1:1-3, 13-16.
4In keeping with the sacred nature of warfare in their eyes, the warriors of the pagan nations were sanctified for their military expeditions. They went forth in the name of their gods, they swore by their gods, they prayed to them for triumph, the ensigns and standards of the army were considered sacred, yes, even reverenced and worshiped.
5Says the Encyclopædia Britannica: "It appears that several companies of the Egyptian army had their own particular standards. These were formed of such objects as, there is reason to believe, were associated in the minds of the men with feelings of awe and devotion. Sacred animals, boats, emblems or figures, a tablet bearing a king’s name, fan and feathershaped symbols, were raised on the end of a staff as standards, and the office of bearing them was looked upon as one of peculiar privilege and honour. Somewhat similar seem to have been the customs of the Assyrians . . . The Persians bore an eagle fixed to the end of a lance, and the sun, as their divinity, was also represented upon their standards, which appear to have been formed of some kind of textile, and were guarded with the greatest jealousy by the bravest men of the army. . . . The forms of standards in later times were very various; sometimes a cross piece of wood was placed at the end of a spear and surmounted by the figure of a hand in silver, below round or oval discs, with figures of Mars or Minerva, or in later times portraits of emperors or eminent generals. . . . The Roman standards were guarded with religious veneration in the temples at Rome; and the reverence of this people for their ensigns was in proportion to their superiority to other nations in all that tends to success in war. It was not unusual for a general to order a standard to be cast into the ranks of the enemy, to add zeal to the onset of his soldiers by exciting them to recover what to them was perhaps the most sacred thing the earth possessed. The Roman soldier swore by his ensign. [When Jerusalem for the second time was destroyed by the Romans in the summer of A.D. 70, they brought their standards into the court of the temple dedicated to Jehovah God and worshiped their victory-crowned standards as idols.] . . . Early flags were almost purely of a religious character. . . . in fact the aid of religion seems ever to have been sought to give sanctity to national flags, and the origin of many can be traced to a sacred banner, as is notably the case with the oriflamme of France and the Dannebrog of Denmark. . . . The banner of William the Conqueror was sent to him by the pope."—Volume 10, eleventh edition (1910), pages 454, 455.
6That such religious feelings carry over even to this late day is borne out by the statement of the Encyclopedia Americana under the subheading "Respect or Reverence for the Flag." The statement reads: "The flag, like the cross, is sacred. Many people employ the words or term ‘Etiquette of the Flag.’ This expression is too weak, too superficial and smacks of drawing-room politeness. The rules and regulations relative to human attitude toward national standards use strong, expressive words, as, ‘Service to the Flag,’ ‘Respect for the Flag,’ ‘Reverence for the Flag,’ ‘Devotion to the Flag,’ ‘Behavior Towards the Flag.’ . . . Pledges of allegiance offered to flags are of antiquity. . . . " (Volume 11, 1942 edition, page 316) Among other reasons, the early Christians refused to join Caesar’s army because of the idolatry connected with it.
7In the face of thus clothing war with a holy appearance the pagan nations literally sanctified this form of violence, and with fitness the Bible uses this expression respecting the preparation of the pagan nations for their wars of aggression. Here are the words of Jehovah’s own prophecy against the doomed city of Babylon, where military aggression had originated under Nimrod after the global flood of Noah’s day: "Sanctify the nations against her, call together against her the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni, and Ashkenaz: appoint a marshal against her; cause the horses to come up as the rough canker-worm. Sanctify against her the nations, the kings of the Medes, the governors thereof, and all the deputies thereof, and all the land of their dominion. . . . for the purposes of Jehovah against Babylon do stand, to make the land of Babylon a desolation, without an inhabitant." (Jer. 51:27-29, AS, margin) Being sanctified by preliminary religious ceremonial for the war against Babylon, the soldiers were spoken of as being consecrated, hallowed or sanctified ones. Says Jehovah by his prophet Isaiah: "The burden of Babylon, . . . I have commanded my consecrated [Hebrew, sanctified] ones, yea, I have called my mighty men for mine anger, even my proudly exulting ones. The noise of a multitude in the mountains, as of a great people! the noise of a tumult of the kingdoms of the nations gathered together! Jehovah of hosts is mustering the hosts for the battle." (Isa. 13:1-4, AS; Ro) And when challenging all the nations of our own day to come against him and his New World society on earth in the universal war of Armageddon, Jehovah again uses this special word and says: "Proclaim ye this among the nations; sanctify war; stir up the mighty men; let all the men of war draw near, let them come up." (Joel 3:9, AS, margin) The sanctifying of the war against Jehovah proceeds according to the "god of this world," the "god of this system of things," who is Satan the Devil. (2 Cor. 4:4, NW) So it is a sanctifying to a wrong cause. Invoking religion’s aid in this unholy, anti-Jehovah movement will not guarantee its success or crown it with victory.
THETRUE SANCTITY OF THEOCRATIC WAR
8The living and true God, the One alone "whose name is Jehovah," is the only One that can sanctify a course of action and make it a sacred duty and privilege. (Ps. 83:18, AS; Lev. 20:8; 21:8, 15, 23) His merely authorizing the course of action or commanding it makes it something sacred that must not be violated by disobedience to instructions. Does this hold true with regard to warfare? Yes. And King Saul, the first human king of the nation of Israel, soon found out that he was desecrating his holy task when he was commanded by Jehovah God to destroy the enemy Amalekites but he did not fully carry out the divine orders, for his own selfish reasons. His disobedience was in effect rebelliousness and a pushing ahead presumptuously; it was as if he were serving the false gods of this world and sanctifying himself to their service by divination and some uncanny power and teraphim. Said the prophet Samuel to King Saul: "Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and stubbornness is as idolatry and teraphim. Because thou hast rejected the word of Jehovah, he hath also rejected thee from being king." (1 Sam. 15:1-23, AS, margin) Jehovah has never sanctified the war of any worldly nation or Gentile nation that he has not used in the execution of his judgments. Nimrod, the founder of Babylon and the first to be reported as a "mighty hunter" or military campaigner against human prey, is branded in God’s Book as a "mighty hunter in opposition to Jehovah"; hence he was never sanctified by Jehovah God for his aggressive military hunts, and neither have any of his imitators been thus sanctified.—Gen. 10:8-11, NW; Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews, Book 1, chapter 4, paragraph 2; also the Jerusalem Targum.
9Jehovah is no pacifist, but according to his own purpose he has righteously resorted to war against the enemies who warred against him and his people. He has never lost a battle, for his warfare is holy and righteous. After his victory over the military hosts of Egypt by engulfing them in the Red Sea he inspired his prophet Moses to sing: "Jehovah is a manly person of war. Jehovah is his name." (Ex. 15:3, NW) He is the universal God-Ruler or Theocrat, and hence his wars or the wars that he authorizes his people to wage are theocratic wars. They are truly sanctified, sacred.
10Already in Moses’ day, in the fifteenth century before Christ, there was in existence what was called "the book of the Wars of Jehovah." (Num. 21:14, NW) This book may have begun with Abraham’s war against the four allied invader kings who had captured his nephew Lot together with his family. It is not said that God ordered Abraham to go in pursuit and recover these captives, but Abraham’s victory with his 318 slaves and three confederates over the mighty enemy hosts could only have been God-given. Jehovah’s royal priest Melchizedek pronounced it such. When blessing Abraham upon his return from the slaughter of those kings, Melchizedek said: "Blessed be Abram of the Most High God, Producer of heaven and earth, and blessed be the Most High God, who has delivered your oppressors into your hand!" (Gen. 14:17-20, NW; Heb. 7:1-10) The war by Abraham was theocratic; that of the four aggressor kings was not theocratic, even though sanctified by their pagan religious rites. Very appropriately, then, Abraham gave a tenth of all the spoils to Melchizedek as the representative of the Most High God, Jehovah, who had fought for his friend Abraham.
11Theocratic warfare specially became prominent in the case of Abraham’s great-grandchildren, the twelve tribes of Israel. To free these descendants of his friend Abraham from the oppressive power of Egypt, Jehovah engaged not only in a war against Pharaoh and his first-class war machine of that day but also in a war of the gods, a war against the demon gods whom the Egyptians worshiped. He said: "On all the gods of Egypt I shall execute judgments. I am Jehovah." After all the first-born of the Egyptians who were dedicated to the gods had been slain by Jehovah’s destroying angel on the first passover night, 1513 B.C., Pharaoh conceded defeat and the Israelites moved out. Respecting this it is written: "All the while the Egyptians were burying those whom Jehovah had struck among them, that is, all the first-born, and upon their gods Jehovah had executed judgments." (Ex. 12:12; Num. 33:4, NW) Then throughout the forty-year journey of his chosen people through the wilderness to the Promised Land he fought for them. After he had brought them into the Promised Land, and all during the days of their judges, whom Jehovah raised up as deliverers, and during the kingdom of Israel and of Judah, the only true God fought for his holy nation, so that the classic expression developed, "Jehovah it was who was fighting for Israel."—Josh. 10:14, 42; 23:3, 10, NW; Ex. 14:14; Deut. 1:30; Neh. 4:20.
12The Most High God was fully justified in fighting all these battles for his people, for he is righteous in all his activity. His defeating and destroying his enemies and his people’s enemies were an execution of judgment upon these death-deserving opposers. He commanded that his people take a hand in this destruction of the condemned sinners, and he made their warfare theocratic and used them as his executioners. There was no sin or moral wrong for engaging in such warfare, for it was in obedience to the will and commandment of their God. As in King Saul’s case, the sin would lie in not carrying out orders to the pleasing of God; as it is written in Jeremiah 48:10: "Cursed be he that doeth the work of Jehovah negligently; and cursed be he that keepeth back his sword from blood." (AS) Jehovah did not authorize his chosen people to set out on a course of world aggression and establish a world power, but he did command them to destroy the immoral, demon-worshiping pagans out of the land that he had promised to give them. Many were the miracles that he performed for them while obediently carrying out these orders of theocratic warfare. He backed them up in the fight.
13The Israelites suffered physically, religiously, spiritually and nationally from a lack of loving, courageous obedience in pushing this theocratic warfare until the land was completely cleansed of the contaminating demon worshipers and God’s will had been done. The Israelite that obediently took part in the fighting was said to fight Jehovah’s battles. It was no mere flattering word, but a real truth, when King Saul told David the giant-killer: "Only be thou valiant for me, and fight Jehovah’s battles." (1 Sam. 18:17, AS) It was with good understanding that Abigail, the woman of the city of Carmel, spoke to the same David, saying: "Jehovah will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my lord fighteth the battles of Jehovah." (1 Sam. 25:28, AS) To be a battler for Jehovah is a high honor and a blessing, and Jehovah is with each theocratic battler. The divine blessing is upon him. Today there are Christian battlers for Jehovah, and in a way they display greater courage than did the Israelite battlers for Jehovah, because these Christian witnesses of Jehovah do not use or resort to carnal death-dealing weapons such as the Israelite warriors did and they will not use or resort to such violent weapons or raise private military squads even at the battle of Armageddon, "the war of the great day of God the Almighty." Why is this so concerning these Christian battlers for Jehovah? We shall see.
14Theocratic warfare is a sacred thing, and those who are privileged to engage in it are sanctified for it because of its holiness. The warfare must be approached and be engaged in in a sanctified condition as a holy service. This becomes clear from David’s conversation with the high priest Ahimelech at the city of Nob, where the sacred ark of Jehovah God had been transferred. King Saul had become jealous of David because Jehovah’s blessing rested upon this young man as a battler for Jehovah. Finally David was obliged to flee from Saul’s reach in order to escape death. Accompanied by faithful young men for part of the way, he came to Nob, hungry and unarmed. He wanted food for himself and the young men whom he had left at a certain place. David went on to say to high priest Ahimelech: "‘Now then, what have you at hand? Give me five loaves of bread, or whatever is here.’ And the priest answered David, ‘I have no common bread at hand, but there is holy bread; if only the young men have kept themselves from women.’ And David answered the priest, ‘Of a truth women have been kept from us as always when I go on an expedition; the vessels of the young men are holy, even when it is a common journey; how much more today will their vessels be holy?’ So the priest gave him the holy bread; for there was no bread there but the bread of the Presence, which is removed from before the LORD [Jehovah], to be replaced by hot bread on the day it is taken away."—1 Sam. 21:1-6, RS.
15The Lord Jesus showed that holiness was something to be considered here when he verified this historic occurrence and said: "Have you not read what David did when he and the men with him got hungry? How he entered into the house of God and they ate the loaves of presentation, food it was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those with him, but for the priests only?" (Matt. 12:3, 4, NW) This was the reason why Ahimelech first asked whether David and his young men had been kept from women for at least a day and David replied that they had. But how was holiness here involved? And what was implied by David’s answer with reference to a war expedition?
16Being kept from women meant being kept from sexual intercourse with their wives or concubines. At ordinary times there was nothing wrong or disqualifying with such proper intercourse. But when an occasion or a service called for ceremonial cleanness then such relations between an Israelite and his wife were out of order. Why? Because after such intercourse both the man and his wife were ceremonially unclean until the following evening. In the theocratic law that was given through Moses to the Israelites it was written: "Now in case a man should have an emission of semen go out from him, then he must bathe all his flesh in water and be unclean until the evening. And any garment and any skin upon which the emission of semen gets to be must be washed with water and be unclean until the evening. As for a woman with whom a man may cohabit with an emission of semen, they must bathe in water and be unclean until the evening." (Lev. 15:16-18, NW) Consequently, sexual intercourse that day would have made David and his men unfit to be given the unused holy showbread to eat. Now David claimed that it was an ordinary mission on which he was in the king’s service; yet David said that he and his men were ceremonially clean from sexual contact with their wives and concubines the same as if they were going out on an "expedition," that is, a military expedition. Going out on a military expedition or war called for sanctification by ceremonial cleansing of their "vessels" or physical organisms. The theocratic nature of the warfare called for sanctity of this kind, if the divine blessing was to rest upon the army and victory was to be granted to those battling for Jehovah. It was a sacred service.
17Cleanness ceremonially, morally and physically was required of the Israelite camp engaged in theocratic warfare. Said Jehovah’s law to the Israelites: "In case you should go out into camp against your enemies, then you must keep yourself from every bad thing. In case there should happen to be in you a man who does not continue clean, because of a pollution that occurs at night, then he must go outside the camp. He may not come into the midst of the camp. And it must occur that at the falling of evening he should wash with water and at the setting of the sun he may come into the midst of the camp. And a private place should be at your service outside the camp, and you must go out there. And a peg should be at your service along with your implements, and it must occur that when you squat outside, then you must dig a hole with it and turn and cover your excrement. For Jehovah your God is walking about within your camp to deliver you and to abandon your enemies to you, and your camp must prove to be holy, that he may see nothing indecent in you and certainly turn away from accompanying you." (Deut. 23:9-14, NW) If the divine presence as represented by the angel of Jehovah was to accompany the army clear to final victory, the camp had to be kept clean according to theocratic standards.
18The camp of Jehovah’s theocratic nation, therefore, differed from that of the pagan armies. The pagans would take women along with them that the warriors might indulge themselves with them, or on capturing a place the soldiers were given free rein to seize the womenfolk and rape them. (Isa. 13:16; Lam. 5:11; Zech. 14:2) There exists something similar to this today, when we read or hear of prostitutes tagging along after the military camps and of military officers deliberately providing places of prostitution in the neighborhood for the sexual satisfaction of their soldiers. In the theocratic camp of Israel this was prohibited because the war on which they were set out was theocratic, therefore sacred, and called for sanctification by the fighters. Therefore sexual contact with women, even their own wives and concubines, was prohibited to them and they voluntarily abstained from it. This was why Uriah, a Hittite of good will, when called in from the field by King David, did not go at night to his home in Jerusalem to be with his wife. When King David, ignoring the sacred requirements of the military campaign, asked Uriah why he had not gone home that night, that loyal soldier theocratically replied: "The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in booths; and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open field; shall I then go into my house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? as thou livest, and as thy soul liveth, I will not do this thing." (2 Sam. 11:6-11, AS) Uriah wanted to remain sanctified for the fight. So for the time being he would be as without a wife. It reminds us of what the apostle Paul said to Christians: "Moreover, this I say, brothers, the time left is reduced. Henceforth let those who have wives be as though they had none." (1 Cor. 7:29, NW) At times theocratic duties will call a Christian from his wife’s side and he must respond.
19If the Israelites were commanded to capture a place and kill off the men and the women that were not virgin, they were not free to rape the girls who were preserved alive. That would have been defiling the army, for it would have been committing fornication, immorality. If any Israelite wanted any captive maid he could not have relations with her immediately on capturing her. No, but he must keep himself sanctified for theocratic warfare by following the law that said: "In case you should go out to the battle against your enemies and Jehovah your God has given them into your hand and you have carried them away captive, and you have seen among the captives a woman beautiful in form and you have gotten attached to her and taken her for your wife, then you must bring her into the midst of your house. She must now shave her head and attend to her nails, and remove the garment of her captivity from off her and dwell in your house and weep for her father and her mother a whole month, and after that you should have relations with her and you must take possession of her as your bride and she must become your wife." (Deut. 21:10-13, NW) Until the military campaign was over and its sanctity had been maintained this sexual contact could not occur with divine approval. If a man called to the army was engaged to a girl, he was relieved of his army obligations for one year that he might go home and take his betrothed one in marriage and have a child by her that he might have an offspring and keep his name alive, that thus he might not be killed in battle childless.—Deut. 20:7; 24:5.
20The vindication of Jehovah, the God of victory, was at stake. Keeping the camp above reproach in God’s sight and worthy of gaining the victory by Jehovah’s continued favor was of vaster importance than committing any ceremonial or moral uncleanness and violating the sanctity of the military expedition. This is true also of the sacred warfare of Christian battlers for Jehovah today. Of course, the legal covenant that Jehovah God made with the ancient Israelites through Moses does not apply today to the Christian, and hence the Christian battlers are not required to abstain from intercourse with their wives because they are in a sacred warfare. Nonetheless, their conduct must be clean morally and spiritually. Their keeping themselves from immorality and also from spiritual adultery by being a part of this world must befit the sacredness of this Christian warfare. (Jas. 4:4) Their part in the vindication of Jehovah is at stake, and furnishes them a cleansing influence, an impulse to purity morally and spiritually.
Christian Neutrals in a Bloodstained World
"Anyone shedding man’s blood, by man will his own blood be shed, for in God’s image he made man."—GENESIS 9:6.
OCEANS of blood, that of more than a hundred million humans, have been shed in warfare since 1914. And what is the prospect for the future? The devastation of two Japanese cities in 1945 snuffed out some 200,000 lives and led eventually to a new doctrine, spelled out by the superpowers and appropriately labeled "MAD" (Mutually Assured Destruction). This has become the basis of a balance of terror, built upon stockpiles of nuclear weapons that could demolish our earth many times over. Submarines have carried these fiendish weapons into the oceans, and recently the space-war threat has extended the danger. Even the balance of terror is now shaken to its foundations. Is there any way out of this madness?
2Yes, there is. But it will not be of the nations’ choosing. Jesus prophesied concerning their present dilemma: "There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth anguish of nations, not knowing the way out because of the roaring of the sea and its agitation, while men become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken." Jesus concluded that prophecy with the assurance that Christians who "keep awake . . . may succeed in escaping all these things that are destined to occur."—Luke 21:25, 26, 36.
PursuingPeace With God
3The nations, especially those armed with nuclear weapons, are locked in a competition for world domination, which could conceivably end in world annihilation. This serves the interests of "the god of this world." The nations "have massed together as one against Jehovah and against his [Christ]," who is now enthroned in the heavens. When Jehovah gives the command, Christ will break those nations as with an iron scepter. Then will come the fulfillment of the promise: "The God who gives peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly."—2 Corinthians 4:4, King James Version; Psalm 2:2, 6-9; Romans 16:20.
4We, for our part, should want to pursue peace with that God. How may we do so? For one thing, we should wish to have God’s viewpoint concerning the sanctity of human life and of the precious lifeblood that flows in our arteries and veins.
5Jehovah is the Creator of man and of the marvelous bloodstream that carries nourishment to the human body, thus keeping us alive. God never purposed that human blood should be shed wantonly. After Cain committed the first murder, Jehovah declared that Abel’s blood was crying out to be avenged. Later, one of Cain’s descendants, Lamech, became a killer and stated poetically that should he himself be killed, this bloodguilt should be avenged. In time, a corrupt world became filled with violence. Jehovah sent the deluge to destroy that first world of mankind. Only the family of peaceful Noah, whose name means "Rest," survived.—Genesis 4:8-12, 23, 24; 6:13; 7:1.
6Jehovah then informed Noah of His express will concerning blood. He climaxed this by saying: "Anyone shedding man’s blood, by man will his own blood be shed, for in God’s image he made man." (Genesis 9:3-6) All mankind today are descendants of Noah; hence, this divine law that emphasizes respect for life is binding on all humans who desire God’s approval. The sixth of the Ten Commandments also declared, "You must not murder." Bloodguilt calls for due action and recompense.—Exodus 20:13; 21:12; Deuteronomy 21:1-9; Hebrews 10:30.
7Since the shedding of blood was so clearly forbidden, why was it that Jehovah permitted, and even commanded, the nation of Israel to engage in warfare? We have to remember that this was a sanctified warfare by means of which Jehovah, the Judge of all the earth, had demon-worshiping nations exterminated. The Canaanites, for example, were squatters in the Promised Land and followed a demonistic, immoral life-style that would endanger God’s holy people. Jehovah had the land "vomit" those depraved humans out of their territory, using theocratic warfare to have it done. (Leviticus 18:1-30; Deuteronomy 7:1-6, 24) This justifies the spiritual warfare of the Christian today.—2 Corinthians 10:3-5; Ephesians 6:11-18.
8However, Jehovah did not approve of indiscriminate bloodshed. Thus, it is written concerning a king of Judah: "There was also innocent blood that Manasseh shed in very great quantity, until he had filled Jerusalem from end to end." Though Manasseh later repented and humbled himself before Jehovah, that bloodguilt remained on him and his dynasty. Manasseh’s God-fearing grandson, King Josiah, acted positively to cleanse the land and restore true worship. But he could not remove that bloodguilt. During the reign of Josiah’s son Jehoiakim, Jehovah moved to bring Nebuchadnezzar against Judah, to execute judgment against that nation. "It was only by the order of Jehovah that it took place against Judah, to remove it from his sight for the sins of Manasseh, according to all that he had done; and also for the innocent blood that he had shed, so that he filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and Jehovah did not consent to grant forgiveness."—2 Kings 21:16; 24:1-4; 2 Chronicles 33:10-13.
TheStandard for Christians
9We would expect that Jesus, the Founder of Christianity, would set the standard for Christians with respect to the shedding of blood. Did he? Well, shortly after he had instituted the Memorial of his death, Jesus saw to it that his disciples had two swords with them. For what purpose? To establish a vital principle, one that all Christians would need to observe. When the soldier band came to arrest Jesus in Gethsemane, impetuous Peter wielded a sword, striking off the right ear of Malchus, a slave of the Jewish high priest. Was it not a noble thing to fight thus in behalf of the Son of God? Jesus did not think so. He healed the slave’s ear and reminded Peter that His heavenly Father was able to send 12 legions of angels to Jesus’ aid. Jesus there stated the fundamental principle: "All those who take the sword will perish by the sword."—Matthew 26:51-53; Luke 22:36, 38, 49-51; John 18:10, 11.
10Christians of the first century would later recall Jesus’ fervent prayer to Jehovah, in which he said of his disciples: "They are no part of the world, just as I am no part of the world." They would remember Jesus’ explanatory answer to Pontius Pilate: "My kingdom is no part of this world. If my kingdom were part of this world, my attendants would have fought that I should not be delivered up to the Jews. But, as it is, my kingdom is not from this source." (John 17:14, 16; 18:36) In those days, Jewish factions were fighting one another, both verbally and by shedding blood. But Jesus’ disciples did not get mixed up in those revolutionary campaigns. For some 30 years they waited in Jerusalem. Then they obeyed Jesus’ prophetic sign by "fleeing to the mountains." Their neutral stance and their flight resulted in their salvation.—Matthew 24:15, 16.
11Some may ask, ‘What of Cornelius, the centurion, and Sergius Paulus, the army-backed proconsul in Cyprus? Were not these men associated with the military?’ Yes, at the time they accepted the Christian message. The Scriptures, though, do not tell us what Cornelius and others did after their conversion. No doubt Sergius Paulus, who was an intelligent man and "astounded at the teaching of Jehovah," would soon scrutinize his secular position in the light of his newfound faith and make a proper decision. Cornelius would have done likewise. (Acts 10:1, 2, 44-48; 13:7, 12) There is no record that the disciples told them what action they must take. They could see that from their own study of God’s Word.—Isaiah 2:2-4; Micah 4:3.
12Similarly, Christians today should not instruct others personally as to what stand they must take on issues related to Christian neutrality. Each one must make his own conscientious decisions in line with his understanding of Bible principles.—Galatians 6:4, 5.
13It was in 1914 that total warfare first invaded the world scene. The entire resources of nations, including their manpower, were committed to warfare. Many of the Bible Students, as Jehovah’s Witnesses were called at that time, made commendable efforts to avoid bloodguilt. They were bitterly persecuted, just as Jesus said they would be.—John 15:17-20.
14When global conflict again erupted in 1939, Jehovah provided clear guidance for his servants. Within two months of the declaration of war, this guidance came in the form of Bible study material entitled "Neutrality" in the November 1, 1939, issue of The Watchtower. It concluded with the sentence: "All who are on the Lord’s side will be neutral as to warring nations, and will be entirely and wholly for the great THEOCRAT and his King."
15What resulted? As a worldwide brotherhood, Jehovah’s Witnesses consistently refrained from shedding the blood of innocent people, including their brothers in other lands. While Catholics, Protestants, Buddhists, and others were slaughtering one another, Jesus’ true disciples were obeying his new commandment: "Just as I have loved you, . . . you also love one another."—John 13:34.
16These Christians continued to pay back Caesar’s things to Caesar. They obeyed the laws of the land as upright citizens. (Matthew 22:17-21; Romans 13:1-7) But more importantly, they paid back to God the things that belonged to him, including their dedicated lives and Christian worship. Hence, when Caesar demanded to have God’s things, they acted in harmony with the principles stated at Acts 4:19 and 5:29. Whether the issue was shedding blood, noncombatant military work, alternative service, or saluting an image such as a national flag, faithful Christians took the position that there was no middle ground. In some cases they were executed because of this stand.—Matthew 24:9; Revelation 2:10.
TheyDid Not Compromise
17A recent book entitled Of Gods and Men stated that during Hitler’s Third Reich, Jehovah’s Witnesses were the religious group that suffered "the most extreme opposition." Jehovah’s Witnesses did not compromise. Those of other religions in Germany followed their military chaplains, thus rendering religious service to the German state and receiving the "mark" of the political wild beast "in their right hand or upon their forehead." (Revelation 13:16) These gave the active right hand of support to the German political machine and made their stand clearly seen by heiling Hitler and saluting the swastika flag.
18What position did true Christians there take? The above-mentioned study states: "Only the Jehovah’s Witnesses resisted the regime. They fought tooth and nail and as a result one-half of their number was imprisoned and one-quarter executed. . . . They, in contrast to [other religions], are nonworldly in the sense that they do not seek the approbation or the rewards of the material world and do not consider themselves to be members of it. They are political ‘neutrals’ since they belong already to another world—God’s. . . . They do not seek or offer compromises. . . . To serve in the army, to vote, or to give the Hitler salute would have meant a recognition of the claims of this world as dominant over the claims of God." The pursuit of peace and nonviolence by Jehovah’s Witnesses was even recognized in the concentration camps. How so? In that "only Witnesses were allowed to shave the S.S. guards using cut-throat razors, since only they could be trusted not to kill."
19During the second world war, Jehovah’s Witnesses became an outstanding example of Christian neutrality. Consistently, around the earth they courageously followed Jesus’ example in being "no part of the world"; they conquered this bloodguilty world even as Christ had done.—John 17:16; 16:33; 1 John 5:4.
FindingRefuge From Bloodguilt
20Religious organizations have reddened the pages of history by spilling innocent blood in crusades, "holy" wars, and inquisitions. They have made concordats with bloodthirsty dictators. They consented when those dictators threw Jehovah’s Witnesses into prisons and concentration camps, where many of them died. They gave willing support to führers (leaders) who executed Witnesses by shooting and beheading. These religious systems cannot escape Jehovah’s righteous judgment. It will not delay. Nor should any lover of righteousness delay in getting out of false religion—bloodstained "Babylon the Great"—and seeking refuge in God’s organization.—Revelation 18:2, 4, 21, 24.
21Many of us, before we studied God’s Word, may have shed human blood or been members of bloodguilty religious or political organizations. In this we may be compared to the unintentional manslayer in Israel. He could flee to one of six specified cities where he could find refuge and, finally, a release at the death of Israel’s high priest. Today, that means accepting and remaining under the benefits of the active service of God’s High Priest, Jesus Christ. By remaining there in association with God’s anointed people, we may survive when the modern-day "avenger of blood," Christ Jesus, executes God’s judgment on the bloodguilty. The "great crowd" who now flee to God’s organization must stay in that refuge until Christ, in his capacity as High Priest, ‘dies’ with respect to completing his work of redemption.—Numbers 35:6-8, 15, 22-25; 1 Corinthians 15:22-26; Revelation 7:9, 14.
22On the UN plaza wall in New York, U.S.A., you may read the following words based on Isaiah 2:4 (King James Version): "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." But who acts in harmony with those words today? Not one of the members of the so-called United Nations. It is only the peace-pursuing global "nation" of three million and more witnesses of Jehovah that has clearly demonstrated how Christian neutrality can be maintained in a bloodstained world. A Record of Faith, Courage, and Integrity
The book New Religious Movements: A Perspective for Understanding Society makes these further comments on the integrity of Jehovah’s Witnesses in facing up to Nazi persecution:
"In their refusal to comply, the Jehovah’s Witnesses offered a challenge to the totalitarian concept of the new society, and this challenge, as well as the persistence of its survival, demonstrably disturbed the architects of the new order. The more the Witnesses were persecuted, the more they presented a real ideological challenge. The time-honoured methods of persecution, torture, imprisonment and ridicule were not resulting in the conversion of any Witnesses to the Nazi position and were in fact back-firing against their instigators. The Nazis panicked in the face of this unpredictable response."
"Between these two rival claimants on loyalty, the fight was bitter, even more so, since the physically stronger Nazis were in many ways less sure, less rooted in the firmness of their own conviction, less certain of the survival of their 1,000 year Reich. Witnesses did not doubt their own roots, for their faith had been evident since the time of Abel. Whilst the Nazis had to suppress opposition and convince their supporters, often borrowing language and imagery from sectarian Christianity, Witnesses were sure of the total, unbending loyalty of their members, even to death."
It will be a happy day indeed when this conquest by Christian loyalty has been completed. (Romans 8:35-39) Then, under the Kingdom rule of the "Prince of Peace," the glorified Jesus Christ, "to the abundance of the princely rule and to peace there will be no end."—Isaiah 9:6, 7.
[Boxon page 22]
The following is quoted from a diary recently published by an observer in a European country. It indicates how youthful Witnesses have faced up courageously to the issue of being "no part of the world."—John 17:14.
‘1945, March 12: There were martial law proceedings. Two young Jehovists are the accused. The charge: refusal of military service (according to the spirit of their religion). The younger one, who is not yet 20 years old, was sentenced to 15 years in a penitentiary. The older one, however, was sentenced to death, and he was immediately brought to his hometown to be executed there publicly as a deterring example. He is the 14th victim here. May he rest in peace. This case has deeply affected me. Against the Jehovists you cannot act in such a way. Of this boy, they did not make a warning example but a martyr. He was a healthy boy. I am sad for him.
‘In the afternoon, we have learned the details of the execution of this young man, which took place in front of quite a number of people in the marketplace. One of the soldiers who stood in the cordon shot himself out of shame prior to the execution. This was because a colonel wanted to have him assist the hangman. But he was not willing to do so. He rather made an end to his own life. The young man himself died with courage. He did not say a word.’
In the resurrection, how happy such youths will be that they chose to experience the sting of death rather than forfeit a place in Jehovah’s new system of things!—Compare Hosea 13:14.
*** re chap. 23 p. 150 The Second Woe—Armies of Cavalry ***
7 Apparently, this cavalry thunders forth under the guiding direction of the four angels. What a fearsome spectacle! Imagine your reaction if you were to be the target of such a cavalry charge! Its very appearance would strike terror into your heart. Did you notice, though, how similar this cavalry is to the locusts that preceded it? The locusts were like horses; in the cavalry there are horses. Both, then, are involved in theocratic warfare. (Proverbs 21:31) The locusts had teeth like lions; the horses of the cavalry have heads like lions. Both are therefore tied in with the courageous Lion of the tribe of Judah, Jesus Christ, who is their Leader, Commander, and Exemplar.—Revelation 5:5; Proverbs 28:1.
*** w98 5/1 pp. 9-10 Jehovah’s Day Is Near ***
9 Is this just a prophecy about “a nation” of locusts, a locust swarm, invading Judah? No, there is more to it than that. At both Joel 1:6 and Revelation 9:7, God’s people are represented by locusts. The modern-day locust army is none other than the military force of Jehovah’s anointed locusts, now joined by some 5,600,000 of Jesus’ “other sheep.” (John 10:16) Are you not glad to be part of this great throng of Jehovah’s worshipers?
10 At Joel 1:9-12, we read of the effects of the locust plague. One swarm after another bring about complete desolation of the land. Lacking grain, wine, and oil, the unfaithful priests cannot continue their functions. Even the ground mourns, for the locusts despoiled it of grain, and fruit trees were left without fruitage. With the grapevines ruined, there is no more wine for those Baalistic wine bibbers who were also spiritual drunkards
18 Nothing stopped the orderly, tireless locusts. They ran “like powerful men” and even scaled walls. If ‘some of them fell among the missiles, the others did not break off course.’ (Joel 2:7, 8) What a vivid prophetic portrayal of God’s present-day army of figurative locusts! Today, too, Jehovah’s locust army keeps on going straight ahead. No “wall” of opposition deters them. They do not compromise their integrity to God but are willing to face death, as did thousands of Witnesses who ‘fell among the missiles’ for refusing to heil Hitler during Germany’s Nazi regime.
20 Joel 2:10 shows that a very large swarm of locusts is like a cloud that can blot out the sun, moon, and stars. (Compare Isaiah 60:8.) Is there any doubt who is behind this military force? Above the roar of the insects, we hear these words of Joel 2:11: “Jehovah himself will certainly give forth his voice before his military force, for his camp is very numerous. For he who is carrying out his word is mighty; for the day of Jehovah is great and very fear-inspiring, and who can hold up under it?” Yes, Jehovah God is sending forth his military force of locusts now—before his great day.
What planet are you from?
I know for a fact that some do own a gun!
I have recently moved back to planet earth after a long stay at planet watchtower.
I didn't say Witnesses don't own guns. I owned guns as a Witness and I still do. I said they are not supposed to own guns. They are not to have guns for self-defense. The Society even frowned on hunting, especially for sport. They compared it to Nimrod.
How do people get off playing on prof sports teams? My husband gave up a full ride athletic scholarship for the truth? How do these football and basketball players do this?!?!?!?!?!?!
My Uncle served 2 years in prison in ElReno, OK in the Federal Pen. He objected to the war, but when asked now, he says if he had it to do over, he'd probably have gone to Canada. I know that he's never been a pacafist. In fact, he and the other dudes there did alright in taking care of themselves even amongst the career criminals that they were locked up with. Of course, he's not a JW anymore.
I don't see how serving in a non-violent hospital saving lives is contrary to a non-violence policy. Even if they were pacafists, one would think that they would see the benefits of saving lives. I think that they should get a wake up call that it's about time for them to realize that they must stop living off the scraps that they are given from the table of freedom without ever doing things that are necessary to purchase it.
I'm finding the JW CO/pacifism subject quite interesting....
Growing up as a JW, I had always thought that we were pacifists (during this time I never bothered to research WTBTS pubs about the subject...now it appears this was something that individual JWs believed and taught me, not something taught by the society...talk about not knowing my own history (!)... )
But it seems that I was not alone in this belief...
Raised in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant area, Daly fought to overcome difficult circumstances through hard work and religion. When the Vietnam War intervened, he was denied conscientious objector status, despite his strong pacifist beliefs. He then enlisted in the U.S. Army, but only after a black recruiter assured him he would receive a non-combat assignment. Instead, he was sent to fight in Vietnam, where he was denied repeated requests for reassignment. In protest, he refused to load or fire his weapon, even when sent out on patrol.
As a POW, he was still an outcast: a black "grunt" and pacifist among mostly white air force officers who considered any sort of accommodation treasonable. Such charges were eventually leveled at Daly for joining the so-called Peace Committee and signing a letter condemning American actions in the war. Although Daly's decisions were in keeping with his pacifism and he was later cleared of the charges, he remains a controversial figure for many Vietnam veterans.
What I am getting from this thread is that many JW *are* pacifists (the way I was taught as a JW kid) but the WTBT Society itself is anti-pacifist ... which leads me back to the question I have as to why so many JW CO's were denied ...
Because Jehovah's Witnesses opposed WW2 but not all wars, draft boards routinely denied their requests.
Again, JWs were rejected as CO's objectors because the WTBTS itself is anti-pacifist. Pretty sad for those brothers who believed otherwise...
Sorry for the all the repetition..I'm just trying to get a better understanding of this subject...
I bet ya the people that are anti-war and anti violence of any kind are the kind of people that don't discipline their children in any way and have nothing but screaming spoiled bratts running around the house wreaking havok.
War is like a disciplinary action on the offending country for violating world policies. This is the way we have been treating Sadam:
US: "Sadam. What did I tell you about invading Kuwait. BAD SADAM. NO INVADING KUWAIT! If you invade Kuwait you're gonna get a time out."
Sadam: "OK. Sorry."
<Then he invades again>
US: "What did I tell you about invading Kuwait? NO INVADING KUWAIT! If you do it again you'll get a spanking."
Sadam: "OK. Sorry."
<Sadam violates another world policy on warheads>
US: "No nukes, Sadam! We said no nukes. We want to see if you have any nukes so let me into your room. Let us in Sadam! If you don't let us in then you'll get a spanking."
Sadam: "Ok. Sorry."
<he makes a feigned attempt of let us in and then locks us out.>
US: "Sadam! I said let us in! Let us in. This isn't funny anymore. If you dont let us in then you'll get a spanking!"
Do you see the patern here? Sadam is like a little child and the US is like a bad parent. And we are always chastising the naughty child with threats of punishment that never come. The child sees that the parent isn't serious when they issue the threat of a punishment so the child never stops misbehaving. This does nothing but raise a spoiled brat!
What this parent needs to do is surprise the hell out of Sadam and give him one of the biggest ass whoopings that he's ever had in his life. Then he'll be like, 'Damn! I guess they're serious now! I better behave."
You asked why JW’s had to go to jail if some were pacifists even thought The WTBS is not. Here is your answer….
June 1, 1967 Watchtower p.338 -- Move Ahead with Jehovah's Organization -- Obedience
January 15, 1983 Watchtower p.27 -- Armed for the Fight Against Wicked Spirits -- Fight Against Independent ThinkingYet there are some who point out that the organization has had to make adjustments before, and so they argue: This shows that we have to make up our own mind on what to believe. This is independent thinking. Why is it so dangerous? Such thinking is an evidence of pride
Qualified To Be Ministers 1955 p.156 -- If we have love for Jehovah and for the organization of his people we shall not be suspicious, but shall, as the Bible says, 'believe all things,' all the things that The Watchtower brings out...
April 1, 1986 Watchtower p.31 -- Questions From Readers -- Obviously, a basis for approved fellowship with Jehovahs Witnesses cannot rest merely on a belief in God, in the Bible, in Jesus Christ, and so forth.Approved association with Jehovah's Witnesses requires accepting the entire range of the true teachings of the Bible, including those Scriptural beliefs that are unique to Jehovah's Witnesses.
As you can see Nilfun…no JW is aloud to be a TRUE pacifist on his/her own. They must move on to the beat of The WTBS’s Drum straight on to the marring of their Own consciences as well the damming of their souls.
You are not a JW unless you….. 'believe all things,' all the things that The Watchtower brings
Hoped this helped a little sugar.
Gotta Luvz Yaz,