What Choice Will You Make?
WE ARE all faced with a choice. We can choose to put our trust in the plans of men and political systems to avert what is today a very real possibility—world suicide. We can wait on them and rely on them to make life more peaceful and secure on earth.
Or, we can choose to put our trust in Jehovah God and his Kingdom government to bring about—not just a partial peace with many nagging and hurtful problems remaining—but a total peace. We can show confidence in his Word and in the evidence it supplies that his “Day” to set matters straight on earth is near at hand.
Which course will you choose? Which do you believe is the more realistic? Which has proved more reliable—the word, promises and predictions of political and other world leaders, or the word, promises and prophecies set forth in the Bible?
A Case in Point
A similar situation faced the people of Jerusalem and Judea in the first century of our Common Era. The results provide a vital case in point to help us to make the right decision today.
Christ Jesus foretold with marvelous precision what was due to happen to Jerusalem. The people there and throughout Judea had followed their leaders, both political and religious, and had rejected Jesus’ message about God’s kingdom. Christ Jesus then gave this warning to his followers:
“When you see Jerusalem surrounded by encamped armies, then know that the desolating of her has drawn near. Then let those in Judea begin fleeing to the mountains, and let those in the midst of her withdraw, and let those in the country places not enter into her; because these are days for meting out justice, that all the things written may be fulfilled.”—Luke 21:20-22.
For three decades after Jesus’ death Jerusalem continued on as part of the Roman Empire. Then, in the year 66 C.E., the Jews revolted against the Roman yoke. Rome sent its imperial forces under Cestius Gallus against Jerusalem, and the city seemed doomed to fall. But, inexplicably, the Roman commander “suddenly called off his men . . . and flying in the face of all reason retired from the City,” as Jewish historian Josephus testifies. (Josephus, The Jewish War, The Penguin Classics, p. 163) Those who believed Jesus’ prophecy now fled the city. But the vast majority remained.
Three years later, despite Roman advances throughout the country, Jerusalem still stood. When the spring of the year 70 C.E. rolled around with its Passover season, thousands of Jews from many places flocked into Jerusalem for the celebration—in apparent peace and security. They were confident that ‘God was with them’ as they shared in their religious festival.
Now, however, Roman troops under General Titus marched on the crowded city, quickly encircling and laying siege to it. Those inside were trapped. Within the short span of five months—during which famine, disease and fratricidal combat inflicted a terrible toll within the city—Jerusalem fell and the sword now claimed thousands more victims. Historian Josephus places the total cost in lives at 1,100,000. Sudden destruction had hit them.
A Modern Parallel
What has that to do with us? This:
Jehovah God states: “I am Jehovah; I have not changed.” (Mal. 3:6) His standards are the same today as they were in the first century. Today, Christendom has taken a course parallel to that of unfaithful Jerusalem. It has rejected the kingdom of God’s Son in favor of the political kingdoms of this earth. Christendom’s religions have cast in their lot with the world leaders and placed their trust in them, not in God. The majority of the people have followed them in this course.
Do we see this? Then we need to heed the warning Christ Jesus gave after describing the very conditions we now observe on earth. He said:
“Pay attention to yourselves that your hearts never become weighed down with overeating and heavy drinking and anxieties of life, and suddenly that day be instantly upon you as a snare. For it will come in upon all those dwelling upon the face of all the earth. Keep awake, then, all the time making supplication that you may succeed in escaping all these things that are destined to occur, and in standing before the Son of man.”—Luke 21:34-36.
This counsel is vital, lifesaving. The ‘day of Jehovah,’ his time for executing judgment, must come unexpectedly, as the inspired apostle said, like a “thief in the night.” It is true that many persons today can see the steady deterioration in the structure of human society, in the very fabric of daily life. Many see the grave crises threatening because of worldwide pollution, because of the expanding human population and because of the growing gap between the “have” and “have-not” peoples of earth. Many even discern a significant decline in the churches. Yet despite all these grim factors, when the ‘day of Jehovah’ breaks on the world scene it will not be expected. Conditions will still allow people who prefer this world’s way to be thinking that “things are going to get better now,” yes, even to express confidence that a brighter future is on its way. In fulfillment of prophecy, God’s action in expressing judgment must spring shut upon them instantly, like a snare.
Place of Safety
Where is the place of safety? Certainly it is not within Christendom’s religions. Nor is it within the other world religions. They have followed a course like that of Christendom and, with it, form the symbolic woman Babylon the Great. Like a figurative harlot they have been ‘riding high’ on the backs of the political powers, including their United Nations Organization, symbolized in the Bible by a seven-headed beast with ten horns on which Babylon the Great rides. But God’s Word foretells a sudden reversal for the world empire of false religion. It shows that the political powers, the symbolic beast with its ten horns, are going to “hate the harlot and will make her devastated and naked, and will eat up her fleshy parts and will completely burn her with fire.”—Rev. 17:16-18.
For that reason God’s call is: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues. For her sins have massed together clear up to heaven, and God has called her acts of injustice to mind.” (Rev. 18:4, 5) The destruction of the world empire of false religion will be swift, as if in “one hour.”—Rev. 18:19, 21.
Is it enough to withdraw from such doomed religious systems? No, for God’s prophetic word shows that the beastlike political systems will themselves thereafter come in for destruction in what is called God’s war of Armageddon. (Rev. 16:14, 16; 19:11-21) The only place of safety therefore is on the side of God’s kingdom by his Son. Only by firmly taking your stand there can you step out from under the huge debt of bloodguilt for which the nations must shortly be brought to an accounting.
Do you wish help in learning how to do this from God’s Word the Bible? Write the publishers of Awake! magazine and they will be happy to have a qualified minister, one of Jehovah’s witnesses, call and answer your Bible questions, even offer you a regular Bible study in the privacy of your own home. The only cost to you will be some of your time and effort, during approximately one hour a week.
Do Not Be Deceived
Do not wait until Jehovah’s judgment action comes upon this world and grips it like “the pang of distress upon a pregnant woman.” Of those who thus postpone action, the apostle’s words apply: “They will by no means escape.”—1 Thess. 5:3.
Neither let men, whether they be world statesmen or high religious officials or just the people of your neighborhood, lull you into a state of complacency with soothing expressions of confidence in this warring world’s future. The admonition of Christ Jesus and of his apostle is:
“Keep awake, then, all the time making supplication that you may succeed in escaping all these things that are destined to occur, and in standing before the Son of man.” “Let us not sleep on as the rest do, but let us stay awake and keep our senses.”—Luke 21:36; 1 Thess. 5:6.
The living God is wide awake to what is going on. His King, Christ Jesus, with his mighty armies in the heavens stand alert and ‘at the ready,’ prepared for action. “Jehovah’s day” draws near. Show that you have faith in him by your action now and you will not let deception rob you of your life. Make your choice now for life everlasting in unending peace in God’s new order!
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Those who heeded Jesus’ warning fled Jerusalem and thus avoided the sudden destruction of 70 C.E. Their example can benefit us today