“Stand Firm and See the Salvation of Jehovah”
“Jehovah is on my side; I shall not fear. What can earthling man do to me?”—PSALM 118:6.
TODAY, mankind faces events of a magnitude never previously experienced. Foretelling this about our day, Jesus warned his followers: “There will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again. In fact, unless those days were cut short, no flesh would be saved; but on account of the chosen ones those days will be cut short.”—Matthew 24:21, 22.
2 Unseen to human eyes, heavenly forces are now holding back that great tribulation. The apostle John was privileged to see the reason for this restraint in a revelation given to him by Jesus. Here is how the aged apostle described it: “I saw four angels standing upon the four corners of the earth, holding tight the four winds of the earth . . . And I saw another angel ascending from the sunrising, having a seal of the living God; and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels . . . ‘Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until after we have sealed the slaves of our God in their foreheads.’”—Revelation 7:1-3.
3 The final sealing of the anointed “slaves of our God” is approaching completion. The four angels are ready to release those destructive winds. When they do, what will happen first? An angel answers that question: “With a swift pitch will Babylon the great city be hurled down, and she will never be found again.” (Revelation 18:21) What heavenly rejoicing there will be when this happens, when the world empire of false religion is destroyed!—Revelation 19:1, 2.
4 All the nations of the earth will have aligned themselves against Jehovah’s people. Will the nations succeed in wiping out those faithful Christians? It may seem as if they could. But look! Heavenly armies following Christ Jesus will see to it that these human forces are destroyed. (Revelation 19:19-21) Finally, the Devil and his angels will be cast into an abyss of inactivity. They will no longer be able to mislead man because they will be bound for a thousand years. Oh, what a relief that will be to the great multitude of survivors!—Revelation 7:9, 10, 14; 20:1-3.
5 We are about to experience these wonderful and awe-inspiring events. They all have to do with vindicating Jehovah’s right to rule, his universal sovereignty. And think of this: If we remain loyal to Jehovah and if we stand firm for his sovereignty, we shall have the opportunity of sharing in the sanctification of Jehovah’s name and the fulfillment of his purpose. What an inestimable joy that will be!
6 Are we prepared for those momentous events? Do we have faith in Jehovah’s saving power? Are we confident that he will come to our aid at the right time and in the best way? In answering such personal questions, we can keep in mind what the apostle Paul told his fellow Christians in Rome: “All the things that were written aforetime were written for our instruction, that through our endurance and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4) Among the things written for our instruction, giving us comfort and hope, is the record of the occasion when Jehovah delivered the Israelites from the iron grip of their Egyptian oppressors. A close examination of those exciting events when Jehovah maneuvered the salvation of the sons of Israel should be of great encouragement to us as we look forward to the fast-approaching great tribulation.
Jehovah Rescues His People
7 The year is 1513 B.C.E. Jehovah has already brought nine blows against the Egyptians. After the last of those, Pharaoh summarily dismisses Moses with the words: “Get out from me! Watch yourself! Do not try to see my face again, because on the day of your seeing my face you will die.” Moses replies: “That is the way you have spoken. I shall not try to see your face anymore.”—Exodus 10:28, 29.
8 Jehovah now reveals to Moses that there will be one more blow against Pharaoh and all the Egyptians, a final one. On the 14th of Abib (Nisan), the firstborn of every Egyptian man and of every animal is going to die. But Israelite households can be spared by carefully following God’s instructions given to Moses. They are to splash some of the blood of a male lamb upon the two doorposts and the upper part of the doorway of their houses and to stay indoors. What happens that night? Let Moses himself tell us: “It came about that at midnight Jehovah struck every firstborn in the land of Egypt.” Pharaoh’s reaction is immediate. Calling Moses and Aaron to him, he tells them: “Get up, get out from the midst of my people, . . . and go, serve Jehovah, just as you have stated.” And go the Israelites do, possibly more than three million of them along with an unnumbered “vast mixed company” of non-Israelites.—Exodus 12:1-7, 29, 31, 37, 38.
9 The nearest route for the Israelites to take is by the Mediterranean Sea and through the land of the Philistines. But that is enemy territory. Hence, likely to save his people from having to engage in warfare, Jehovah leads them by way of the wilderness of the Red Sea. Although there are millions of people on the march, this is no disorderly crowd. The Bible record says: “It was in battle formation that the sons of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt.”—Exodus 13:17, 18.
“See the Salvation of Jehovah”
10 Next, there is an amazing turn of events. Jehovah tells Moses: “Speak to the sons of Israel, that they should turn back and encamp before Pihahiroth between Migdol and the sea in view of Baal-zephon.” As they follow these instructions, this great multitude find themselves hemmed in between the mountains and an arm of the Red Sea. There seems to be no way out. However, Jehovah knows what he is doing. He tells Moses: “I shall indeed let Pharaoh’s heart become obstinate, and he will certainly chase after them and I shall get glory for myself by means of Pharaoh and all his military forces; and the Egyptians will certainly know that I am Jehovah.”—Exodus 14:1-4.
11 Pharaoh, feeling that he has made a mistake in allowing the Israelites to leave Egypt, sets off in hot pursuit with 600 chosen war chariots. As the Egyptian army comes into sight, the Israelites become terrified and cry out to Moses: “Is it because there are no burial places at all in Egypt that you have taken us here to die in the wilderness?” Confident in Jehovah’s salvation, Moses replies: “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and see the salvation of Jehovah, which he will perform for you today. . . . Jehovah will himself fight for you, and you yourselves will be silent.”—Exodus 14:5-14.
12 True to Moses’ words that Jehovah himself would fight for the Israelites, superhuman forces now take over. Jehovah’s angel miraculously moves to their rear the pillar of cloud that has been leading the camp of Israel. While it becomes a source of darkness to the Egyptians, that same pillar gives light to the Israelites. (Exodus 13:21, 22; 14:19, 20) In obedience to God’s command, Moses now stretches his hand out. The account continues: “Jehovah began making the sea go back by a strong east wind all night long . . . At length the sons of Israel went through the midst of the sea on dry land, while the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.” The Egyptians take up the pursuit, but Jehovah is on the side of his people. He throws the camp of the Egyptians into confusion, and then he tells Moses: “Stretch your hand out over the sea, that the waters may come back over the Egyptians, their war chariots and their cavalrymen.” So complete is the destruction of Pharaoh’s armies that not a single soldier is left alive!—Exodus 14:21-28; Psalm 136:15.
Learn From Israel’s Salvation
13 What effect did this miraculous deliverance have on the survivors? Why, Moses and the sons of Israel spontaneously burst into song, praising Jehovah! They sang: “Let me sing to Jehovah, for he has become highly exalted. . . . Jehovah will rule as king to time indefinite, even forever.” (Exodus 15:1, 18) Yes, their first thought was to exalt God. In that situation, Jehovah’s sovereignty had been demonstrated.
14 What instruction, comfort, and hope do we gain from these thrilling events? Surely we can see that Jehovah is ready for any trial that his people have to go through. He is equal to any situation that may confront them. The Red Sea was no barrier to Israel when Jehovah caused that strong east wind to blow. And he was able to cause that same Red Sea to become a watery grave for Pharaoh’s armies. Contemplating this, we can echo the words of the psalmist who said: “Jehovah is on my side; I shall not fear. What can earthling man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6) We can also find comfort in Paul’s words recorded at Romans 8:31: “If God is for us, who will be against us?” What confidence these inspired sayings give us! They quiet any fears and doubts that we may have and fill us with hope. How appropriate, then, is our yeartext for 2008: “Stand firm and see the salvation of Jehovah”!—Exodus 14:13.
15 What else can we learn from Israel’s Exodus from Egypt? That we must obey Jehovah no matter what he asks us to do. The Israelites were obedient in carrying out the detailed preparations for the Passover. They obediently stayed indoors during the night of Nisan 14. When they finally left Egypt, they had to go “in battle formation.” (Exodus 13:18) Today, it is so important that we follow the guidance that comes to us through “the faithful and discreet slave”! (Matthew 24:45) We have to listen very carefully to God’s word behind us, saying: “‘This is the way. Walk in it, you people,’ in case you people should go to the right or in case you should go to the left.” (Isaiah 30:21) As we get nearer to the outbreak of the great tribulation, we may well receive some detailed instructions. Our safe journey through those troublesome days will depend on our keeping in step with other loyal servants of Jehovah.
16 Remember, too, that Jehovah diverted the Israelites into a position where they appeared to be trapped between the mountains on the one side and the Red Sea on the other. It just did not seem to be the right move. But Jehovah had everything in hand, and all worked out to his praise and to the salvation of his people. Today, we may not clearly see why some organizational matters are handled in a certain way, but we have every reason to trust in Jehovah’s guidance through his faithful channel of communication. At times, our enemies may seem to be getting the upper hand. From our limited perspective, we may not be able to see the whole picture. Still, Jehovah is capable of maneuvering matters at the right moment, just as he did back there for the sons of Israel.—Proverbs 3:5.
Have Confidence in Jehovah
17 Can you imagine the feeling of confidence that the Israelites must have had as they thought back on that pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night? It was evidence that “the angel of the true God” was guiding their journey. (Exodus 13:21, 22; 14:19) Today, we can have confidence that Jehovah is with his people to guide, protect, and deliver them. We can take to heart the promise: “[Jehovah] will not leave his loyal ones. To time indefinite they will certainly be guarded.” (Psalm 37:28) Never let us forget those mighty angelic forces that are backing God’s servants today. With their support, we can “stand firm and see the salvation of Jehovah.”—Exodus 14:13.
18 What will enable all of us to “stand firm” in the way of the truth? Wearing the spiritual armor described by Paul in his letter to the Ephesians. Notice that the apostle admonishes us to “put on the complete suit of armor from God.” Are we wearing all the parts of this spiritual armor? In the coming calendar year, it would be well for each one to take stock of himself to make sure that every part of that armor is in place and fits well. Our enemy, Satan the Devil, knows our weaknesses, and he tries to catch us off guard or to attack a vulnerable spot. We have “a wrestling” with wicked spirit forces. Still, in Jehovah’s strength, we can come off the winner!—Ephesians 6:11-18; Proverbs 27:11.
19 Jesus said to his followers: “By endurance on your part you will acquire your souls.” (Luke 21:19) May we be among those who faithfully endure any hardships that they may encounter and so be privileged by God’s undeserved kindness to “stand firm and see the salvation of Jehovah.”
How Would You Answer?
• What thrilling events lie just ahead?
• How did Jehovah demonstrate his saving power in 1513 B.C.E.?
• What are you determined to do in the future?
1. What future crucial events does mankind face?
2. What is holding back the start of the great tribulation?
3. What will be the first aspect of the great tribulation?
4. What developments are yet ahead?
5. What joy awaits those remaining loyal to Jehovah?
6. In view of impending events, what will we consider?
7. In 1513 B.C.E., what tense situation develops in Egypt?
8. What instructions for survival are given to the Israelites, and with what result?
9. By what route does God lead Israel out of Egypt, and why?
10. Why does God tell Israel to encamp before Pihahiroth?
11. (a) What move does Pharaoh make, and how do the Israelites react? (b) How does Moses respond to Israel’s complaints?
12. How does Jehovah come to the rescue of his people?
13. How did the sons of Israel react to their deliverance?
14. (a) What can we learn about Jehovah from the experience of Israel? (b) What is the yeartext for 2008?
15. How important was obedience in the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, and how important is it today?
16. What can we learn from the way God maneuvered matters in delivering the Israelites?
17. Why can we have absolute confidence in God’s guidance?
18. Why do we need to “put on the complete suit of armor from God”?
19. If we endure, what may we be privileged to do?
[Blurb on page 20]
The yeartext for 2008 will be: “Stand firm and see the salvation of Jehovah.”—Exodus 14:13.
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“All the things that were written aforetime were written for our instruction”
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Pharaoh’s obstinacy brought disaster upon Egypt
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Israel survived when they did everything that Jehovah commanded