Are You Prepared for Survival?
“Go, you and all your household, into the ark, because you are the one I have seen to be righteous before me among this generation.”—GENESIS 7:1.
JEHOVAH “brought a deluge upon a world of ungodly people” in the days of Noah, but He also made provision for survival. (2 Peter 2:5) The true God gave righteous Noah explicit instructions on how to build an ark for the preservation of life through a global flood. (Genesis 6:14-16) As we would expect of a conscientious servant of Jehovah, “Noah proceeded to do according to all that God had commanded him.” Indeed, “he did just so.” Partly because of Noah’s obedience, we are alive today.—Genesis 6:22.
2 Building the ark was no small task. Very likely, many people were amazed at what Noah and his family were accomplishing. Yet, that was not enough to convince them that salvation depended upon their entering the ark. Finally, God’s patience with that wicked world ran out.—Genesis 6:3; 1 Peter 3:20.
3 After decades of strenuous work on the part of Noah and his family, Jehovah told Noah: “Go, you and all your household, into the ark, because you are the one I have seen to be righteous before me among this generation.” With faith and confidence in Jehovah’s word, “Noah went in, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him.” Jehovah shut the door in order to protect his worshippers. When the Deluge came upon the earth, the ark proved to be God’s dependable provision for survival.—Genesis 7:1, 7, 10, 16.
Modern Parallels to Noah’s Day
4 “Just as the days of Noah were, so the presence of the Son of man will be.” (Matthew 24:37) With these words, Jesus indicated that the time of his invisible presence would be similar to the days of Noah, and that has truly been so. Particularly since 1919, a warning message similar to the one given by Noah has been declared to people of all nations. In general, their reaction has been similar to that of people in Noah’s days.
5 By means of the Flood, Jehovah took action against a world “full of violence.” (Genesis 6:13) That Noah and his family refrained from taking part in such violence and instead peacefully went about the work of building an ark was obvious to all who saw them. Here, too, we see a parallel to our day. Sincere people can now “see the distinction between a righteous one and a wicked one, between one serving God and one who has not served him.” (Malachi 3:18) The honesty, kindness, peacefulness, and diligence displayed by Jehovah’s Witnesses are admired by unprejudiced onlookers, and these qualities distinguish God’s people from the world in general. The Witnesses reject violence in all its forms and let themselves be motivated by Jehovah’s spirit. That is why they are blessed with peace and why they pursue a righteous course.—Isaiah 60:17.
6 Noah’s contemporaries failed to appreciate that Noah had divine backing and was acting at God’s direction. So they did not take his preaching seriously and act on his warning message. What about today? Although many are impressed by the work and conduct of Jehovah’s Witnesses, most do not take the good news and the Bible’s warnings seriously. Neighbors, employers, or relatives may speak highly of the fine qualities of true Christians but then lament, “If only they were not Jehovah’s Witnesses!” What these observers overlook is that the Witnesses manifest such qualities as love, peace, kindness, goodness, mildness, and self-control because they are led by God’s holy spirit. (Galatians 5:22-25) This should add credibility to their message.
7 In Russia, for instance, Jehovah’s Witnesses were building a Kingdom Hall. A man who stopped to talk to one of the workers remarked: “What a strange construction site—no smoking, no rough speech, and everyone is sober! Are you by any chance one of Jehovah’s Witnesses?” The worker asked him, “If I said no, would you believe me?” The man quickly replied, “Not really.” In another Russian city, the mayor was greatly impressed when he saw the Witnesses build their new Kingdom Hall. He said that although he had once viewed all religious groups as being the same, after seeing the sincere unselfishness of Jehovah’s Witnesses in action, he no longer did so. These are just two examples showing that Jehovah’s people differ from those who do not adhere to Bible standards.
8 During the final period of the “ancient world” that perished in the Flood, Noah was a faithful “preacher of righteousness.” (2 Peter 2:5) In these last days of the present system of things, Jehovah’s people are making known God’s righteous standards and are declaring good news about the possibility of surviving into the new world. (2 Peter 3:9-13) Just as Noah and his God-fearing family were preserved in the ark, survival of individuals today depends on their faith and their loyal association with the earthly part of Jehovah’s universal organization.
Faith Required for Survival
9 What must a person do in order to survive the imminent destruction of this world that is lying in Satan’s power? (1 John 5:19) He must first recognize the need for protection. Then he must avail himself of such protection. The people of Noah’s day went about their daily life in their usual way and saw no need for protection from impending calamity. They lacked something else—faith in God.
10 On the other hand, Noah and his family recognized their need for protection and deliverance. They also exercised faith in the Universal Sovereign, Jehovah God. “Without faith it is impossible to please [Jehovah] well,” wrote the apostle Paul, “for he that approaches God must believe that he is and that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.” Paul added: “By faith Noah, after being given divine warning of things not yet beheld, showed godly fear and constructed an ark for the saving of his household; and through this faith he condemned the world, and he became an heir of the righteousness that is according to faith.”—Hebrews 11:6, 7.
11 To survive the end of the present wicked system of things, we must do more than believe that it will be destroyed. We must exercise faith, taking full advantage of God’s provisions for survival. Of course, we need to exercise faith in the ransom sacrifice of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. (John 3:16, 36) However, we do well to remember that only those actually inside Noah’s ark survived the Flood. Similarly, the cities of refuge in ancient Israel provided protection for the unintentional manslayer only if he first fled to such a city and then remained inside it until the death of the high priest. (Numbers 35:11-32) In the tenth plague upon Egypt in Moses’ day, the firstborn of the Egyptians were killed, but those of the Israelites were spared. Why? Jehovah had instructed Moses: “They [the Israelites] must take some of the blood [of the Passover lamb] and splash it upon the two doorposts and the upper part of the doorway belonging to the houses in which they will eat it. . . . And none of you should go out of the entrance of his house until morning.” (Exodus 12:7, 22) Which firstborn among the Israelites would have dared to ignore such God-given instructions by going outside a house marked with the blood splashed on the two doorposts and the upper part of the doorway?
12 We therefore have reason to think carefully about our personal situation. Are we actually inside Jehovah’s arrangement of spiritual protection? When the great tribulation strikes, tears of joy and thankfulness will stream down the faces of those who have sought such protection. For others, there will be only tears of sorrow and regret.
Progressive Adjustments Prepare Us
13 Jehovah has brought about progressive adjustments in the earthly part of his organization. These have served to beautify, stabilize, and strengthen his arrangement for our spiritual protection. From the 1870’s to 1932, elders and deacons were voted into office by members of the congregation. In 1932 the elective elders were replaced with a service committee elected by the congregation to assist an appointed service director. During 1938, arrangements were made for the theocratic appointment of all servants in the congregation. Under the direction of the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses, since 1972, recommendations are made and if these are approved, the congregations receive letters theocratically appointing overseers and ministerial servants. Over the years, the role played by the Governing Body has intensified and changes have been made to facilitate its work.
14 Back in 1950, careful consideration of Psalm 45:16 gave rise to an ongoing training program. That text reads: “In place of your forefathers there will come to be your sons, whom you will appoint as princes in all the earth.” Elders now taking the lead in the congregation are being trained for present and post-Armageddon theocratic duties. (Revelation 16:14, 16) The Kingdom Ministry School was started in 1959. At that time, a month-long course of instruction was provided primarily for congregation servants, as presiding overseers were then called. This school has now been extended to offer instruction to all overseers and ministerial servants. These brothers, in turn, take the lead in training individual Witnesses of Jehovah in their respective congregations. Thus, all are assisted spiritually and are helped to increase the effectiveness of their ministry as proclaimers of the good news of the Kingdom.—Mark 13:10.
15 Individuals wanting to become part of the Christian congregation must meet certain requirements. Logically, modern-day ridiculers are kept out, even as such ones found no place in Noah’s ark. (2 Peter 3:3-7) Particularly since 1952, Jehovah’s Witnesses have given increased support to an arrangement that helps to protect the congregation—that is, the disfellowshipping of unrepentant sinners. Of course, truly repentant wrongdoers are lovingly helped to ‘make straight paths for their feet.’—Hebrews 12:12, 13; Proverbs 28:13; Galatians 6:1.
16 The spiritually prosperous condition of Jehovah’s people is neither a surprise nor an accident. Through the prophet Isaiah, Jehovah said: “Look! My own servants will eat, but you yourselves will go hungry. Look! My own servants will drink, but you yourselves will go thirsty. Look! My own servants will rejoice, but you yourselves will suffer shame. Look! My own servants will cry out joyfully because of the good condition of the heart, but you yourselves will make outcries because of the pain of heart and you will howl because of sheer breakdown of spirit.” (Isaiah 65:13, 14) Jehovah continues to provide us with an abundant supply of timely and healthful spiritual food that keeps us spiritually strong.—Matthew 24:45.
Be Prepared for Survival
17 As never before, now is the time to “consider one another to incite to love and fine works, not forsaking the gathering of ourselves together, as some have the custom, but encouraging one another.” (Hebrews 10:23-25) Sticking close to and staying active with one of the over 98,000 congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses will help us to prepare ourselves for survival. We will have the support of fellow believers as we strive to manifest “the new personality” and put forth wholehearted efforts to help others learn of Jehovah’s provision for salvation.—Ephesians 4:22-24; Colossians 3:9, 10; 1 Timothy 4:16.
18 Satan and his evil world are keenly desirous of luring us away from the Christian congregation. However, we can remain a part of it and can survive the end of the present wicked system of things. May love for Jehovah and gratitude for his loving provisions move us to be more determined than ever to thwart Satan’s efforts. Meditating on our present-day blessings will strengthen our resolve. Some of these blessings will be discussed in the next article.
What Are Your Answers?
• How do our times parallel Noah’s day?
• What quality is essential for survival?
• What progressive adjustments have strengthened Jehovah’s arrangement for our protection?
• How can we personally prepare for survival?
1. What provision for survival did Jehovah make in the days of Noah?
2, 3. (a) How did Noah’s contemporaries react to Noah’s activity? (b) With what confidence did Noah enter the ark?
4, 5. (a) To what did Jesus compare the time of his presence? (b) What parallels exist between Noah’s day and our time?
6, 7. (a) What did people in Noah’s day fail to appreciate, and how is it similar today? (b) What examples show that Jehovah’s Witnesses are generally recognized as being different?
8. Our surviving the end of this wicked world depends on what?
9, 10. Why is faith essential if we are to survive the end of Satan’s system of things?
11. What can we learn from how Jehovah provided protection in times past?
12. What question should each of us ask himself, and why?
13. (a) What purpose have organizational adjustments served? (b) Explain some of the progressive refinements.
14. What training program began in 1959?
15. What are two ways in which the purity of the Christian congregation is preserved?
16. What is the spiritual condition of Jehovah’s people?
17. What will help us to prepare for survival?
18. Why are you determined to stay close to the Christian congregation?
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Noah’s contemporaries did not take Noah seriously
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It pays to take God’s warning messages seriously
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What purpose does the Kingdom Ministry School serve?
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Now is the time to stay close to the Christian congregation