Some among the early Christians turned apostate and gained followers. (Acts 20:29, 30) While Jesus’ apostles were living, they acted as “a restraint” against such apostasy, but after they died, many false Christian sects developed. Today, there are hundreds of conflicting religions in the realm of Christendom.
The Bible pointed to the rise of Christendom’s clergy, describing them collectively as “the man of lawlessness” and “the son of destruction . . . whom the Lord Jesus will do away with . . . and bring to nothing by the manifestation of his presence.”—2 Thess. 2:3, 6-8.
Christendom’s clergy are lawless in that they have misled millions by promoting teachings, holidays, and behavior contrary to the Bible. Like the religious leaders whom Jesus condemned, the modern-day worshippers who are part of “the son of destruction” face destruction with no hope of a resurrection. (2 Thess. 1:6-9)
What, though, awaits people who have been misled by Christendom’s clergy and by clerics of other forms of false religion? To answer this question, let us consider events that followed an earlier destruction of Jerusalem, in 607 B.C.E.
The prophet Jeremiah foretold the destruction of Jerusalem that occurred in 607 B.C.E. He said that God’s people would be carried into captivity but would be restored to their homeland after “seventy years.” (Jer. 29:4, 10) For Jews captive in Babylon, Jeremiah had an important message; they were to stay uncontaminated by the false religion that was practiced in Babylon.
Thus they would be ready to return to Jerusalem and restore pure worship when the set time arrived. This happened soon after the Medes and the Persians conquered Babylon in 539 B.C.E. Persian King Cyrus II issued a decree for the Jews to return and rebuild Jehovah’s temple in Jerusalem.—Ezra 1:1-4.
Thousands of Jews seized this opportunity and returned. (Ezra 2:64-67) In doing so, they fulfilled Jeremiah’s prophetic command that in their case involved fleeing in one sense, getting away to another location. (Read Jeremiah 51:6, 45, 50.)
Circumstances did not permit all the Jews to make the long trip back to Jerusalem and Judah. Those remaining in Babylon, such as the aged prophet Daniel, could have God’s blessing, provided they wholeheartedly supported pure worship centered in Jerusalem and remained separate from Babylonian false worship.
Today, billions of humans are involved in various forms of false religion that can be traced back to ancient Babylon. (Gen. 11:6-9) Collectively, those religions are designated as “Babylon the Great, the mother of the harlots and of the disgusting things of the earth.” (Rev. 17:5)
False religion has a long history of supporting the political rulers of this world. Among “the disgusting things” that she bears responsibility for are the many wars that have resulted in hundreds of millions being “slaughtered on the earth.” (Rev. 18:24)
Additional “disgusting things” include acts of pedophilia and other forms of sexual immorality committed by clergymen and tolerated by the church authorities. Is it any wonder that Jehovah God will soon rid this earth of false religion?—Rev. 18:8.