The Coming Universal Religion

“Then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve him with one consent.”
—Zephaniah 3:9

MAN WAS CREATED IN the image of God, and by nature he desires to worship his Creator. Before man’s fall into sin and death his devotional qualities were in perfect balance with all the other aspects of his being, enabling him to enjoy blessed and rewarding communion with God. One of the immediate results of disobedience to Divine law was the entrance of fear into man’s relationship with the Creator. “I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself,” said Adam to the Lord, after partaking of the forbidden fruit.—Gen. 3:10


Fallen man ever since that tragic experience in Eden has, like Adam, instinctively been afraid of God, seeming to realize his nakedness, shame, and unworthiness of being in the presence of his Maker. This spirit of fear has been a fertile soil in which Satan, the Devil, has sown seeds of confusing errors of worship and practice, which through the ages have germinated and matured into myriads of false and distorted conceptions of deity. Today, despite the enlightenment of the world along many lines, the people are more confused and divided in their religious concepts than ever before.

Fundamental to all false religious beliefs is Satan’s lie to mother Eve when, in contradicting God who had warned that death would be the penalty for sin, he said to her, “Ye shall not surely die.” (Gen. 3:4) The almost universal belief that there is no death stems from this lie which was perpetrated by the one whom Jesus referred to as “a liar, and the father of it”—that is, the father of all lies and errors pertaining to God and the worship of God.—John 8:44


One of Satan’s favorite methods of deception has been the outright substitution of false gods for the people to worship instead of the true and living God. He has induced the people to worship the sun, the moon, the stars, beasts, and fish. Paul writes, they “changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.”—Rom. 1:23

Early in the Biblical record we find evidence of Satan’s work causing the people to worship false gods. Laban, the father of Jacob’s wife Rachel, possessed “gods,” and was quite perturbed when they were stolen by Rachel at the time Jacob and his family left Padanaram to return to Canaan. (Gen. 31:30-32) Devoted as Rachel was to Jacob, she still cherished the family gods, and thought it necessary to take them along to Canaan. Later, Jacob took this matter in hand and ordered his family to put away the “strange gods” which were among them.—Gen. 35:2

This ‘trail of the serpent’ appears over and over again among the chosen people of God in ancient times. One of the Ten Commandments was designed to safeguard the Israelites against the Devil’s efforts to corrupt their religious worship. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” (Exod. 20:3) This commandment, however, was only a partial protection to Israel against the encroachments of the Adversary. Even when Moses was in the mountain receiving God’s law, the people erected a golden calf and began to worship it.

The worship of false gods did not originate with the descendants of Abraham, but was copied by them. Baal was the supreme male deity of the Canaanitish nations, while Ashtoreth was their supreme female divinity. The sun was evidently a symbol of Baal, and the moon a symbol of Ashtoreth. These were their sun and moon gods. The people also had a fire god named Moloch.

Time and again the worship of these heathen gods was introduced among the Israelites. It prevailed at the time Gideon was raised up by the Lord to deliver the Israelites from their enemies, and one of his first acts was to destroy this false worship within the nation. Later, Samuel had to contend with it. Solomon’s fall from Divine favor was due to his yielding to the worship of false gods, being led into it through the influence of his many heathen wives.


Upon Solomon’s death, when the ten tribes of Israel revolted against the rulership of his son, Rehoboam, the worship of false gods was officially established among them by Jeroboam, whom they acclaimed king. This was one instance of those early times when religion was used for political purposes. Jeroboam, king of the ten tribes of Israel located in the north of Palestine, realized the strong urge the people would have to make their annual pilgrimages to Jerusalem to worship the God of Israel. He feared that as a result of mingling with the two tribes in religious worship they would be weaned away from their loyalty to him; so he set up the worship of Baal at Bethel as a substitute arrangement. It worked, and the ten-tribe kingdom never did return to the worship of the true God.

Even the two-tribe kingdom intermittently adopted the worship of heathen gods as the official religion of the nation. This was true to such an extent that the Prophet Jeremiah wrote, “The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is graven upon the table of their heart, and upon the horns of your altars; Whilst their children remember their altars and their groves by the green trees upon the high hills.” (Jer. 17:1,2) The worship of Baal and Ashtoreth was conducted in ‘groves’ on hilltops dedicated to that purpose.

God made no attempt to change the religious practices of the heathen nations down through the ages. During the Jewish Age his only concern was the protection of his chosen people against the powers of darkness, that they might not be entirely engulfed prior to the coming of the promised Messiah—the “seed” of Abraham which was to bless all the families of the earth.—Gen. 22:18


Jesus became the ‘Light of the world,’ and eventually will be that true Light which will enlighten every man who has come, or will come, into the world. (John 1:9) He commissioned his followers, who would be his “ambassadors,” to be the “light of the world.” (II Cor. 5:20; Matt. 5:14) The Divine purpose through these ambassadors of Christ has not been to convert the whole world to Christ during the present age, but to serve merely as a witness, and that the power of the Gospel might call from the world a “people for his name.”—Acts 15:14-17

Meanwhile Satan has fostered and promoted false religions. New versions of heathen darkness have arisen and flourished. Besides, the great mass of professed believers in Christianity have been turned aside from the Truth, and like the Israelites of the past, they have brought into their midst various viewpoints, rites, and practices of other religions. Today, worshipers both in the non-Christian and professed Christian world, are divided into many groups. They all, however, hold Satan’s original lie in common—they all believe that ‘there is no death.’

Instead of expecting that the world would be converted during the present age to worship and serve the true God, Jesus raised the question as to whether or not there would be any faith on the earth when he returned. (Luke 18:8) Jesus did not question whether or not there would be religious fervor, or the spirit of religious devotion. The “faith” to which he referred was the faith of the true Gospel, which was “preached before … unto Abraham” (Gal. 3:8) —the glad tidings that God, in his own due time and way, through the promised seed of Abraham would bless all the families of the earth.

Except in the hearts and minds of the Lord’s own people, which is but a little flock, that ‘faith’ does not now exist in the earth. Religiously speaking, the world today is in a greater state of chaos than ever before. Outside of those groups which rigidly hold to their creeds, it has become praiseworthy, from the worldly standpoint, to hold one’s religious views so loosely as to constitute no definite belief at all.


The trend in the Christian world has been in the direction of atheism. When communism dominated a large part of the world, they tried to foster atheism, saying, “Religion is the opiate of the people.” Since the demise of communism in Russia and other of its satellites, religious interest has increased in those countries. Sporadically there is a revival of religious interest in the Christian world. This is manifested by mounting sales of religious literature, and particularly of Bibles.

Among scientists who have been known to be atheists, there are more who are expressing their belief in a higher power, but they are not willing to accept the Bible as a revelation from that higher power. They are very much as Dr. Einstein, who was once an avowed unbeliever in a higher power and who was quoted as saying in later life:

“My religion consists of an humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble minds. That deeply emotional conviction of the presence of superior reasoning power which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my conception of God.”

The situation is quite different in the non-Christian world. The phenomenal growth of Islam worldwide has brought with it a desire and fervor of its adherents to convert all the world to Islam. Certain fanatical groups within Islam are responsible for the escalation of terrorism, aimed particularly at the United States as the great Satan. They have been teaching young men at the age of twelve how to become suicide bombers, teaching them that they will go to heaven where they are promised sensual pleasures. This type of teaching has led to recent events such as the destruction of the World Trade Center twin towers in New York. At present the United States of America has declared war on such terrorism.


A general review of religious convictions and practices through the ages, together with religious conditions as we see them in the world today, helps one to understand Paul’s feelings when he stood on Mars’ Hill and preached to the Athenian philosophers. He said, “Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.”—Acts 17:22,23

The Athenians are to be commended for the open manner in which they confessed their belief in a god whom they did not know. Actually, regardless of the many religious distortions Satan has foisted upon the people’s minds in all ages, deep down in their hearts they have longed to know and come under the loving care of a God who has been unknown to them. Most of the millions who have tried to worship the grotesque god of torment have probably often wished for a kindlier god whom they could serve, and the praises of whom they could sound forth to the people. Einstein, and other scientists, may bow in reverence before a god of superior intelligence and power; but, from the material things of the universe alone, cannot visualize him as being motivated by love, although they probably all hope that he is.

So far as we know, among the wooden, stone, and metal idols throughout the non-Christian world today, there is none ascribed to the ‘unknown god’ as was the case in ancient Athens; but we can be safe in saying that in the hearts of untold millions there is an image of a god whom the people would like to believe exists, a god who is loving and kind, and withal able and willing to take hold of this present evil world (Gal. 1:4) and bring order out of chaos, peace out of turmoil and war, understanding and cooperation out of the bitter strife of words and conflict of ideologies.

It is this unknown god which the people are thinking about when they raise the oft repeated question, “Where is God in the suffering world of today?” None of the non-Christian religions say anything about it. Nor do Christians offer any explanation. But there is that God who, throughout the ages, has been unknown to the people; and, in our text, we have the promise that ‘then’ he will turn to the people ‘a pure language,’ which will enable them all to serve him with ‘one consent.’

The time identification contained in the word then in this wonderful promise is immediately after the whole symbolic “earth” has been devoured by the “fire of God’s jealousy,” as prophesied in the preceding verse. It reads, “Wait ye upon me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.”—Zeph. 3:8


‘Wait ye upon me, saith the Lord.’ The God-fearing people of all ages have been encouraged to wait on the Lord. In every generation there have been those who have wondered why God continued to permit evil. To Habakkuk the Lord said, “The vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” (Hab. 2:3) Paul quotes from this prophecy and applies it to the Second Presence of Christ.—Heb. 10:37

There is, therefore, no mistaking the time of its application. It is at this end of the Gospel Age, in the time of our Lord’s Second Presence. The vision ‘speaks’ giving the Lord’s people an understanding of the times in which they are living. Among other things, the meaning of the great “time of trouble” (Dan. 12:1) now upon the world is the assurance that the waiting time is about over. The time is at hand when the Lord will put down iniquity and exalt righteousness in the earth.

Because the ‘vision’ has spoken, we now see that the nations are already being gathered, that the ‘fire’ of God’s jealousy is already upon them, and that when this aspect of Divine intervention shall have accomplished its purpose, the pure language will be turned to the people. Then the unknown God will be revealed to them, and with hearts rejoicing they will unitedly serve him, their songs of praise filling the earth with his glory.

Paul explained to the Athenians some of the characteristics of the unknown God. He “made the world and all things therein.” He dwells “not in temples made with hands,” Paul said, evidently basing this remark on the fact that towering above him to the right was a magnificent heathen temple of worship. It was a polite way of telling the Athenians that the unknown God did not need such a temple.—Acts 17:24

The unknown God, Paul further explained, “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being.”—Acts 17:26-28

Paul further explains that since we are the offspring of God, his Creation, “We ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.” (vs. 29) How wonderfully Paul thus contrasts the true God with all other gods, and then reveals the quality of mercy possessed by him ‘in whom we live, and move, and have our being.’ “The times of this ignorance God winked at;” he explains. (vs. 30) That is, he will not hold their ignorant worship of false gods against them, and mete out severe punishments.


“Now [God] commandeth all men every where to repent,” Paul continues, “Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30,31) The command to repentance has gone out to the world through the Gospel, and while it has not been limited to any one nation or race, but has been universal in its application to all people, the number thus far who have heard the message in an understandable manner has been very small. As for those who have not heard, God is still ‘winking’ at their ignorance as he continues to prepare for their future blessing.

That blessing will be brought to them through enlightenment. Notice how Paul contrasts the ‘times of this ignorance’ with the fact that God has appointed a future judgment day. Paul knew this to be in harmony with the Divine plan, for the Prophet Isaiah had written, “When thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” (Isa. 26:9) Again we read, “He shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.” (Ps. 96:13) In the judgment day scene pictured for us in Revelation the “books” are “opened,” a symbol of revealed knowledge and understanding.—Rev. 20:12

Isaiah tells us that the people will learn righteousness in the judgment day and he speaks of other “lords,” or ‘gods,’ which he says have had dominion over us. (Isa. 26:13) These will all be dead then, and through the enlightenment of the judgment day, Satan will be unable to deceive the people concerning them, for he will be bound. (Rev. 20:2) Even the memory of these gods of silver, of stone, of wood, of gold, of fire and torment, the three-headed god, and all the rest of them, will perish from the minds of the people.

Paul explains that this future work of enlightenment and judgment will be in the hands of Jesus, and that God has given assurance to all men in that he hath raised him from the dead. An outline of the qualifications of this future judge of mankind is presented to us by the Prophet Isaiah. He is identified in this prophecy as “a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch” which was to grow out of his “roots.” (Isa. 11:1) Concerning him Isaiah writes:

“The spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear [reverence] of the Lord; And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked [those who willfully oppose earth’s new King and Judge]. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.”—vss. 2-5

The result of this righteous rulership and judgment of Christ is then symbolically described by Isaiah:

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain [kingdom]: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”—vss. 6-9


The earth will then be filled with the ‘knowledge of the Lord’ because he will have turned to the people a pure language—a language, or message, which will sweep away the refuge of lies, misrepresentations, and distortions which have confused the minds of the fallen and dying race—and will enlighten them concerning the true and living God.

Then they will serve him with ‘one consent,’ that is, all in the same way. They will not be forced to do so, but they will have learned to love their Creator, because they will have been taught concerning his wisdom, justice, love, and power. They will learn how his love was manifested and his justice satisfied through his beloved Son who “gave himself a ransom for all.” (I Tim. 2:6) They will see his wisdom in the permission of evil, and in the loving plan for the recovery of the fallen race. They will see his power manifested in the resurrection.

Paul explains that it is the will of God that all shall be saved and come to a knowledge of the Truth, the basic feature of which is the fact that Jesus gave himself a ransom for all. (I Tim. 2:3-6) A knowledge of this great Truth will be testified to all in God’s due time, that due time being the ‘day’ which as been appointed in which the world is to be judged by the righteous Judge, Christ Jesus.

Concerning that day the Prophet Micah wrote, “The law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.” (Micah 4:2) ‘Zion’ is here used as a symbol of the spiritual phase of Christ’s kingdom. “I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion,” the Lord said. (Ps. 2:6) With him in Mount Zion will be the little flock who have followed him in suffering unto death.—Rev. 14:1

‘Jerusalem,’ as used in Micah’s prophecy, symbolizes the earthly phase of the kingdom—the resurrected Ancient Worthies, who will then be made “princes in all the earth.” (Ps. 45:16) From these pretrained and disciplined earthly representatives of the Divine Christ will go out the words of instruction, that ‘pure language,’ which, before the end of the thousand years of earth’s coming glory, will enlighten all mankind, and thus provide a full opportunity for everyone to turn to the Lord.

We are assured “there shall be no more death.” (Rev. 21:4) The people, raised from the dead, will have been convinced that God told the truth when he said, “Thou shalt surely die.” (Gen. 2:17) They will know then that death is the wages of sin. (Rom. 6:23) But they will rejoice also to learn that by accepting the provision of life made for them through the redemptive work of Christ, and obeying the laws of his kingdom, they may live forever. It will then be true of the obedient that there is no death, not in the sense of the lie perpetrated by Satan, but because the people will have the opportunity of partaking of the trees of life, and the water of life, which will then flow from the throne of God and of the Lamb.—Rev. 22:1-3,17

There will indeed be a worldwide, universal religion then—the true religion. The laws of God will not only be learned, but applied, written in the hearts of the people, the Lord assures us. (Jer. 31:31-34) No one will then need to say to his neighbor, “Know the Lord,” for all shall know him, from the least to the greatest.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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