From World Distress into a Peaceful “New Earth”
1. Why were Noah and his family preserved when the “world of ungodly people” of that time ended, and why is their survival important to us?
ONCE before in human history a “world of ungodly people” ended! The common forefather of us all survived that end of such a “world.” This ancestral forefather of ours was Noah the son of Lamech. Because of taking his stand on the right side, Noah survived, and along with him his wife and three sons and three daughters-in-law. This makes all of us today the descendants of those eight survivors of a world’s end. The world’s end came in a global deluge, the like of which mankind will never see again. Noah came to be called “a preacher of righteousness.” The Bible record says: “Noah walked with the true God.” This was the One on whose side Noah took his stand in the world crisis of his day. That is why he and his family were preserved in the massive ark that he built in obedience to God’s command for the preservation of himself and his household.—2 Peter 2:5; Genesis 6:9; Hebrews 11:7.
2. (a) Who will survive the end of the “world of ungodly people” that now faces mankind, and what basis is there for such assurance? (b) What are the “heavens” that they will see destroyed as by fire?
2 Now, once again, mankind faces the end of a “world of ungodly people.” Regardless of those who ridicule such a tremendous idea, there are many individuals who are taking their stand on the right side, just as Noah did before the global deluge of 2370 B.C.E. Noah was one of Jehovah’s early witnesses. That fact is significant for our critical day. In what way? In this: Like Noah under divine protection, Jehovah’s Christian witnesses of today will survive the coming end of the “world of ungodly people.” On earth they will personally see demonstrated that, as 2 Peter 2:9 says, “Jehovah knows how to deliver people of godly devotion out of trial, but to reserve unrighteous people for the day of judgment to be cut off.” As a class they will be preserved through the “presence of the day of Jehovah, through which the heavens being on fire will be dissolved and the elements being intensely hot will melt!” “And earth and the works in it will be discovered [for burning].” (2 Peter 3:12, 10) They will see the visible governmental “heavens” set aflame by the fiery means that the miracle-working God will then use. They will hear the hissing noise with which those flaming “heavens” will pass away for all time. The “elements” that go along with this worldly system of things will be dissolved, “will melt,” because of the unendurable heat to which they are exposed.
3. Identify the “elements” that “will melt” at that time, according to 2 Peter 3:12.
3 “Elements,” which make up the figurative atmosphere of this transitory system of things, will not be able to hold together and endure under the fire of test. The worldly attitude that man is able to rule the earth independently of God will not stand the fiery test. The desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the showy display of one’s means of life, as dominant selfish features of this system of things, will prove as short-lived as this “world of ungodly people.” They go up in smoke in the fiery testing of the judgment day of Jehovah. The “weak and beggarly elements,” that is, the impotent theories, philosophies, practices and rites by which men have sought to gain their own salvation and prove themselves to be self-righteous, all such “elements” will melt in the fiery-hot crucible of test. They will prove to be without strength, impractical, ineffective, having no worth, as worthless as beggars. (1 John 2:15-17; Galatians 4:9, AV) Those “elements” will have to disappear as being no climate, no atmosphere, no natural expanse or vault under which worshipers of God on earth should live.
4. What are the “earth and the works in it” that will perish in the fiery “day of Jehovah”?
4 Fire-resistant materials will be found to be missing in the “earth and the works in it” during that super-heated “day of Jehovah.” They will show themselves to be just as combustible as the accompanying “heavens” and the “elements.” Human society as a living base for the system of things of which Satan the Devil has been the god will perish by the execution of God’s righteous judgments. In this way a whole world will end, the “world of ungodly people” that corresponds with such a world in the Noachian deluge. The works that this ungodly earthly human society has built up will not save it, will not serve as any haven of safety for it. The fiery expression of God’s anger, indignation and denunciation will reduce all these things to ashes.
5, 6. (a) During that time of destruction, how may the situation appear to Jehovah’s own worshipers on earth? (b) Only by what means will any come through that time of distress, and what encouragement can they find in the forty-sixth Psalm?
5 With the figurative “heavens” and “elements” and “earth and the works in it” undergoing destruction, it might appear to Jehovah’s worshipers who are caught within this world distress without equal that the whole universe is crashing about them. Yes, as though the very ground were moving out from beneath their feet. To the earthly spectators the course of events may take on a frightful aspect. It will become manifest that only by a miracle of the Almighty God can anyone in the flesh on earth possibly survive. Only by reposing full trust in the Universal Sovereign Jehovah will earthly beholders keep from letting terror grip their hearts. Reserved for such an unsettling experience as that is the temple psalm of the sons of Korah, who survived the fiery destruction of their rebellious father and his presumptuous fellow Levites:
6 “God is for us a refuge and strength, a help that is readily to be found during distresses. That is why we shall not fear, though the earth undergo change and though the mountains totter into the heart of the vast sea; though its waters be boisterous, foam over, though the mountains rock at its uproar. . . . There is a river the streams of which make the city of God rejoice, the holiest grand tabernacle of the Most High. God is in the midst of the city; it will not be made to totter. God will help it at the appearance of morning. The nations became boisterous, the kingdoms tottered; He sounded with his voice, the earth proceeded to melt. Jehovah of armies is with us; the God of Jacob is a secure height for us.”—Psalm 46:1-7 and superscription.
7, 8. In the further verses of the psalm, what assurance do you find that there will be survivors of that world upheaval?
7 That there could and would be survivors of such an awe-inspiring upheaval in the natural world, the psalm writers (sons of Korah) immediately go on to indicate, by their next words:
8 “Come, you people, behold the activities of Jehovah, how he has set astonishing events on the earth. He is making wars to cease to the extremity of the earth. The bow he breaks apart and does cut the spear in pieces; the [war] wagons he burns in the fire. ‘Give in [Let be then,], you people, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’ Jehovah of armies is with us; the God of Jacob is a secure height for us.”—Psalm 46:8-11, NW; NE; Numbers 16:1-35; 26:10, 11; 27:2, 3; Jude 11.
9. (a) What must we do now if Jehovah is to be a refuge for us then? (b) To what historic occurrence does Hebrews 12:26-29 point as a reminder when it speaks of the destruction of “heaven” and “earth”?
9 Being found in Jehovah God as a refuge then during such world-shaking commotion requires our taking refuge in Him in advance, even now. His power for the shaking of “heaven” and “earth” to destruction was demonstrated in 1513 B.C.E., at his making Mount Sinai quake on the occasion of giving his Ten Commandments to the ancient sons of Israel. (Exodus 20:1-18) “At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, saying: ‘Yet once more I will set in commotion not only the earth but also the heaven.’ Now the expression ‘Yet once more’ signifies the removal of the things being shaken as things that have been made, in order that the things not being shaken may remain. Wherefore, seeing that we [of spiritual Israel] are to receive a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us continue to have undeserved kindness, through which we may acceptably render God sacred service with godly fear and awe. For our God is also a consuming fire.”—Hebrews 12:26-29; Haggai 2:6, 7.
10. (a) At that time of intense shaking, what will remain standing, and as an expression of what? (b) Is there anything that Satan and his demons will be able to do to prevent the destruction of the “heaven” and “earth” of the present wicked system of things?
10 Let the artificial “heaven” and “earth” be shaken to their complete removal in fiery destruction during the “presence of the day of Jehovah,” yet the Messianic kingdom of God in the hands of his Son victorious in battle will remain standing. As an expression of his unshakable Universal Sovereignty, it will stay standing to the eternal vindication of Him as the Sovereign Lord of all. Satan the Devil, “the ruler of this world,” and all his demon angels have long dominated this artificial “heaven” and “earth” of the present wicked system of things. But, despite all their superhuman might, they will be unable to keep the doomed “heaven” and “earth” from being shaken to pieces and being wiped out from the universe. The “short period of time” during which these “wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places” have been restrained here at the neighborhood of the earth will be ended. Immediately after the eternal victory of Jehovah God by Jesus Christ has been won in the “great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon, Satan the Devil and his demon angels will be seized, chained and hurled into the abyss away from the vicinity of this earth.—Revelation 20:1-3.
11. Will the surviving witnesses of Jehovah be aware that the chaining and abyssing of Satan and his demons has taken place?
11 Although that chaining and abyssing of Satan and his demon angels will be invisible to the eyes of the surviving witnesses of Jehovah, and likely noiseless to their natural ears, they will feel the liberating effects of it. No longer will it be true that “Satan cut across our path,” as we may seek to carry on Jehovah’s reconstruction work on the cleansed earth after the abysmal imprisonment of those spirit forces with whom we now have to wrestle and to fight with spiritual weapons. (1 Thessalonians 2:18; Ephesians 6:12-18) Such wrestling and spiritual fighting will be a thing of the past for them during the thousand-year reign of Christ.—Revelation 20:1-6; Romans 16:20.
“NEW HEAVENS AND A NEW EARTH”
12. At that time, what things foretold by Daniel and by Jesus Christ will be fulfilled prophecy?
12 Oh, that blessed day, the day that we are so eagerly awaiting! Then it will be all fulfilled prophecy—that which the prophet Daniel foretold when he said: “And during that time Michael [the glorified Christ] will stand up, the great prince who is standing in behalf of the sons of your people. And there will certainly occur a time of distress such as has not been made to occur since there came to be a nation until that time.” And Jesus Christ, in quoting from those words of Daniel, when giving his prophecy on the “conclusion of the system of things,” added the words: “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.”—Daniel 12:1; Matthew 24:3, 21, 22; Mark 13:19, 20.
13. What thrilling realization, what rare privilege, will the remnant and their fellow worshipers have after going through that world’s distress?
13 The physical and environmental condition in which the faithful remnant of spiritual Israel and the “great crowd” of loyal fellow worshipers will emerge from that worst world distress of all human experience remains yet to be seen and appreciated. But, oh, the thrilling realization then that at last God’s New Order of righteousness has begun! Oh, the rare privilege of seeing in actuality what the aged apostle John saw long ago only in vision! “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea is no more.” (Revelation 21:1) Fulfilled is Jehovah’s prophecy holding out hope of such a thing even back in the ancient days of the prophet Isaiah: “Here I am creating new heavens and a new earth; and the former things will not be called to mind, neither will they come up into the heart. But exult, you people, and be joyful forever in what I am creating.”—Isaiah 65:17, 18.
14. (a) In the first century, how were Christians affected by the promise of “new heavens and a new earth”? (b) Why is it that the expectations of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses concerning that promise are running high now?
14 That promise of the God who does not lie was called to the attention of even the first-century Christians. Having the standpoint of spiritual Israelites, they strengthened themselves in their Christian endurance by awaiting God’s carrying out of his precious promise. In contrast to the sobering description of the fiery dissolution of the existing “heavens,” “elements,” and “earth and the works in it” that he has just written for the recipients of his letter, the apostle Peter adds the cheering words: “But there are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.” (2 Peter 3:13) Today Jehovah’s Christian witnesses of this twentieth century are also awaiting those same new heavens and new earth. But they know that they are living in the last days of the “heavens and the earth that are now.” The generation that was not to pass away until “all these things” foretold by Jesus Christ had occurred has survived since the end of the Gentile Times in 1914 and has seen practically all “these things” occur. (Matthew 24:3, 34) So now their expectations run high!
15. With what activity should all of us be fully occupied?
15 More inducement than ever before exists for Jehovah’s Christian witnesses of “this generation” to be fully occupied in “holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion” and to be particularly earnest about “keeping close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah” in which the old unrighteous order will be dissolved in destruction. (2 Peter 3:11, 12) That day is unavoidable. It must come in order to clear the way for the fulfillment of God’s golden promise of “new heavens and a new earth,” in which righteousness is to dwell. The day approaches when those promised new creations will beautify the realm that has so long been marred by the presence of unrighteous heavens and earth of the Devil’s making. What a lovely time in which to be living on earth then!
16. (a) What will that heavenly Messianic kingdom mean for earth’s inhabitants? (b) Of what will it be an expression on Jehovah’s part for mankind?
16 The reign of the Lord Jesus Christ with his glorified congregational “bride” will usher in an uninterrupted era of righteous rule and peace and happiness for earth’s inhabitants. That heavenly Messianic kingdom will replace the heartless misrule of mankind by devils and men for these past six thousand years. That Messianic government will occupy the place of the wicked old “heavens.” It will be an expression of the infinite love of Jehovah God for man who was created as a “son of God,” in God’s own image and likeness. (Genesis 1:26-28; Luke 3:38) Jehovah God loved the world of mankind so much that he, at great cost to himself, provided his beloved only-begotten Son to be the King in that Messianic government.—John 3:16.
17. Ahead of the survivors of Har–Magedon will rise what prospect, and, in fact, they are already enjoying what condition?
17 With the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon in the past and with the imprisoning of the “wicked spirit forces” of Satan and his demons in the abyss accomplished, the favored survivors on earth will fill up with heartfelt elation at realizing that the long-awaited “new heavens” of God’s creation are truly reigning over them. As they look out over the cleansed land that stretches out before them, they will be filled with a pioneer spirit. There is a millennium of work to do throughout the land! The prospect of a global paradise rises before their eyes. They are already enjoying a spiritual paradise by God’s spirit and favor. As in an ark of survival they were preserved in this spiritual paradise during the great cataclysm that dissolved the old system in destruction. That is why God’s promised “new earth” begins with them. O joy, they themselves are the nucleus of the “new earth,” the new human society, the new world of godly people!
18. That is the time for fulfillment of what precious promise recorded at Revelation 21:3, 4?
18 Here starts the coming true of what the apostle John heard announced from heaven: “Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples.And God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”—Revelation 21:3, 4.
MARRIAGE OF THE BRIDAL REMNANT WITH THE BRIDEGROOM
19. (a) Why will the surviving remnant of spiritual Israelites not remain indefinitely here on earth? (b) What will their gaining of heavenly life mean for them?
19 At beholding such a happy start of things on the cleansed earth, the surviving remnant of spiritual Israelites will exult and rejoice to overflowing. They will be instrumental in God’s hands in getting the “new earth” off functioning in harmony with the “new heavens” government. But their ultimate hopes are not earthward; rather, they are heavenward. The spirit-begotten remnant expect that, in the due time, the heavenly Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, will take them to his heavenly Father’s home to complete his bridal congregation and thus form the final part of the “holy city, New Jerusalem.” (Revelation 21:2, 9, 10; 20:4, 6; John 14:2, 3; 17:24) Then their departure from association personally with the “new earth” will take place, and they will be united in heavenly wedlock with their beloved Bridegroom along with the others of his bridal congregation. Thereby they will be part of the “new heavens” in its proper location.—Ephesians 5:25-27.
20. (a) Ever since the year 1935, the “great crowd” have been giving loving aid to the prospective bride class for what reason? (b) Where in his royal realm will the “great crowd” have a place?
20 The “great crowd” of fellow worshipers at God’s spiritual temple will be glad for the marital union of the anointed remnant of spiritual Israel, with whom they have survived the “presence of the day of Jehovah.” All along, during this time of personal association with the bridal remnant since 1935 C.E., they have attended upon the prospective bride class just like bridesmaids. They have done so in loving loyalty to the Bridegroom King. Not being members of his bride class, they will not be taken to heaven. However, they are taken into the Bridegroom King’s realm, to enjoy his reign of a thousand years. They are preserved along with the remnant of the bride class through the “great tribulation” and come out of it into the earthly part of his royal realm, this earthly part necessarily including the territory of ancient Israel where the King’s famous ancestor, King David, used to reign.—Psalm 72:6, 7; Luke 1:31-33.
21 When the Bridegroom King fulfills the parable of the sheep and the goats, it will be the earthly part of his kingly realm that he has in mind when he says to the sheeplike ones at his right hand: “Come, you who have been blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world.” (Matthew 25:31-34) His warmly welcoming these sheeplike doers of good, who have been like attentive bridesmaids to his bride class, will correspond with what is said about the virgin bridesmaids in Psalm 45:14, 15: “The virgins in her train as her companions are being brought in to you [the Bridegroom King]. They will be brought with rejoicing and joyfulness; they will enter into the palace of the king.” Not in vain will they have been like attentive bridesmaids to the bride class of Christ. Their reward of being assigned to the earthly paradise of his royal realm will be a most happifying one. There, in loving unselfishness, they will rejoice over the celestial marriage of their heavenly King to his bridal congregation, the final remnant of which they knew personally and to whom they did good for the Bridegroom’s sake.
22. As indicated at Psalm 45:16, what privileges will be open to earthly subjects of the King Jesus Christ?
22 Adding to their joyfulness on earth will be the special privileges of service accorded to the “great crowd” of sheeplike subjects of the Bridegroom King Jesus Christ. Such outstanding privileges of earthly service are alluded to in the next verse of Psalm 45, which is addressed to the Bridegroom King into whose palace the bridesmaids are brought. To him this verse (16) says: “In place of your forefathers there will come to be your sons, whom you will appoint as princes in all the earth.”
23. Although the association of the name of Jesus with those of his illustrious forefathers does reflect some glory upon him, in order for them to make a living contribution to his reign, what must they become?
23 In order to impart great respectableness and dignity to his active role as Messianic King, the wedded Lord Jesus Christ will not have to appeal strictly to his illustrious forefathers in his earthly ancestry. (Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3:23-38) His being called “the Son of David” does reflect glory upon him. His being called “the son of Abraham,” the patriarch out of whose loins God promised that kings would come, this also imparted fame to the name of the Bridegroom King. (Genesis 17:6, 15, 16) But these widely known forefathers, like other men of faith and devotion to Jehovah God, have long been dead, and, in that condition, they cannot make any living contribution to the glory of his Millennial reign. Those who will be able to do so will therefore be living sons, even his sons in the earthly realm.
24. (a) How will Jesus live up to his title “Eternal Father”? (b) Who will be the first to become his earthly sons and daughters?
24 Earthly sons? Yes! For, among the grand titles that were foretold for him in Isaiah 9:6 the title Eternal Father is not a mere honorary one, a title given merely for honor but not assigning the duties of such an office. He will really live up to this title by becoming father to children who will live eternally. The first to become his earthly sons and daughters will be the members of the “great crowd” of those who will say after coming out of the “great tribulation”: “Salvation we owe to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9, 10, 14) They will ascribe their salvation to Jehovah God through his Lamb, Jesus Christ.
“PRINCES IN ALL THE EARTH”
25. Among the survivors of Har–Magedon will be what qualified men from among whom the King could select “princes in all the earth,” and what experience will they have had?
25 Being the survivors on earth of the world distress in which the “world of ungodly people” will be destroyed, they will be right on hand, immediately available, for the reigning Eternal Father to select from among them the qualified men, his “sons,” to be appointed as “princes in all the earth.” Even among the tens of thousands of congregations of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses today there are thousands of dedicated, baptized men who have been theocratically appointed to the position of official elders. They serve as “overseers” and do pastoral work among the congregations of which they are members. (Acts 20:17-28; Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Peter 5:1-4) They are also taking the lead in the work foretold by Jesus Christ for this “conclusion of the system of things,” namely: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations.” (Matthew 24:14) In this manner they endeavor to fulfill their responsibility to the heavenly Messianic kingdom that was established when the Gentile Times ended in 1914.
26. Already, what role are these congregational elders filling, as foretold in Isaiah 32:1, 2?
26 These congregational elders or overseers are faithfully fulfilling the prophetic picture of the “princes” described in Isaiah 32:1, 2: “Look! A king will reign for righteousness itself; and as respects princes, they will rule as princes for justice itself. And each one must prove to be like a hiding place from the wind and a place of concealment from the rainstorm, like streams of water in a waterless country, like the shadow of a heavy crag in an exhausted land.” Thus they are not oppressive religious “princes,” like those in the religious sects of Christendom who are called “Princes of the Church.” Rather, each one of these congregational elders seeks to be a relief giver, a refreshment, to the members of his congregation. He is careful to serve just as princely elders in ancient Israel would serve, “for justice itself.” Thus he copies his heavenly King, who reigns “for righteousness itself.”—Luke 22:25-27.
27, 28. (a) Will elders be discharged from their theocratic position by the “great tribulation”? (b) So, subject to the will of the heavenly King Jesus Christ, for what service will they be available?
27 As the “new earth,” human society organized under the “new heavens” kingdom, gets under way, there will be need for overseers, superintendents, supervisors of communities and operations. Elders who survive the “great tribulation” and form part of the “new earth” will have gained much experience by their services rendered now in the congregations of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses. The “great tribulation” will not have discharged or dismissed them from the theocratic position of elders and overseers among the members of the congregations that survive with them into God’s righteous New Order. They can carry right on in this capacity, if the will of the heavenly King Jesus Christ is in favor of that.
28 At any rate, the experienced elders and overseers will be available for the Messianic King to appoint as “princes in all the earth,” from the very start of his thousand-year reign onward. What a privilege that will be for them to be the visible princely representatives on earth of the millennial Kingdom!
29, 30. (a) When they return from the dead by means of resurrection, who else will no doubt be included among the “princes in all the earth”? (b) Why is it not to be expected that they will have any great difficulty in adjusting themselves to the new circumstances on earth?
29 All the survivors of the “great tribulation” will look ahead eagerly to the beginning of the resurrection of the ransomed human dead. They will look ahead to that “hour” in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear the voice of the glorified Son of man, Jesus, and all these hearing will come forth to a resurrection of life-affording opportunities under the millennial Kingdom. (John 5:28, 29; 11:25, 26; Acts 24:15; 1 Timothy 2:5, 6) They will particularly look forward to the resurrection of the faithful “forefathers” of the Bridegroom King. Oh, how they will hail the restoring to life on earth of Enoch, Noah, Shem, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Boaz, David, Hezekiah and Josiah! Excellent material these will be for the appointed service of “princes in all the earth.” Being once again in the land of the living and now in princely service, they will add further honor to the Messianic King whose earthly ancestors they were privileged to be.
30 What, also, about all the other prophets and exemplars of faith, such as Abel, Job, Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and others, all the way down to John the Baptist, the earthly forerunner and “friend of the Bridegroom,” Jesus Christ? In the light of the favorable Bible testimony regarding these men, they have proved themselves worthy of appointment as “princes in all the earth” by the one to whose coming as Messiah they looked, many of them even foretelling it. Without great difficulty, and with assistance of God’s holy spirit, these capable men should be able to fit themselves to the new circumstances on earth during the seventh millennium of man’s existence on earth. The Bible credentials are all in favor of their being honored with the service of “princes in all the earth.” The congregational elders and overseers who survive the “great tribulation” can be of up-to-date help to all of these.
31. (a) Of whom will those “princes” be representatives as they carry out their work? (b) Why will there be a huge educational work carried out then?
31 The having of “princes in all the earth” who will rule “for justice itself” gives assurance that in the “new earth” righteousness will indeed dwell, come to stay forever. With the Messianic “new heavens” above, and with “princes” such as these serving as visible representatives of those “new heavens,” the work of beautification of the earth will go forward for mankind’s everlasting paradise home. The thousands of millions of resurrected dead will participate in thus robing all the earth with the glory of Paradise. (Luke 23:43) Ever expanding will the worldwide educational work prove to be as generation after generation of the human dead return from the memorial tombs. They will have to be shown how the Holy Bible is a true history of God’s dealings with mankind and how all the Bible prophecies have come true and are still coming true. They will have to be informed of what is contained in the “scrolls” of divine instruction that will then be opened.—Revelation 20:12.
32. (a) What happy prospects are there before witnesses of Jehovah who zealously share in the work of Bible education now? (b) In what ways will the Eternal Father Jesus Christ prove to be “a life-giving spirit”?
32 Happy, indeed, are the prospects for all dedicated, baptized witnesses of Jehovah who today are zealously engaged in Bible educational work in all the inhabited earth. It is a life-imparting work that will enable countless persons to escape the destructive execution of God’s judgments in the oncoming “great tribulation.” It is a work that is preparing and fitting them for the far vaster educational work in behalf of all the ransomed human dead whom the reigning King Jesus Christ will call forth to become their Eternal Father. He is the one to whom 1 Corinthians 15:45 applies: “The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” As such, he will impart life to them, not just by giving them a new start in life by their resurrection, but by rearing them for life during his millennial reign.
33. (a) When will all obedient ones on earth be rewarded with life eternal? (b) How will Jehovah’s “administration,” referred to in Ephesians 1:9, 10, then successfully have accomplished his grand purpose?
33 By the end of his life-giving reign all the responsive and obedient ones will attain the glorious estate of human perfection such as the first Adam had in the original paradise, the Garden of Eden. If, then, in the decisive test, they prove loyal to his Heavenly Father as Universal Sovereign, their reward will be life eternal. Earth, then everywhere arrayed in Paradise beauty, will again be at unity with the holy heavens. Jehovah’s program of “administration” will have been carried out to the successful accomplishment of his grand purpose. “All things” without exception, “the things in the heavens and the things on the earth,” will have been gathered together again “in the Christ,” in the one whom Jehovah God has made the Head of his capital organization, his Son Jesus Christ. Man on earth, enjoying both a spiritual paradise and an Edenic paradise, will again be part of Jehovah’s universal organization. Unity and peace will reign among all his creatures in heaven and on earth. (Ephesians 1:9, 10) Earthly animals will be subject to man.
WHAT SHALL WE DO NOW?
34. On what do we need to keep our eyes of faith firmly fixed, and why can we be confident of its realization?
34 The view of the future that the sure Word of God presents to our eyes of faith is magnificent! The thing to do now is not to lose sight of it. Never may we let our eyes be distracted from it. It is no hallucination, no mirage, no pipe dream. Over the endorsement of God’s own name the grand things to come—soon—stand fully guaranteed in prophecies of his indestructible Word. As certainly as time moves on, we are moving forward to them. They are the goal set before us by the God who is “the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.” (Hebrews 11:6) If we hold onto our faith and live and act in harmony with it, nothing is going to obstruct us from gaining the prize that God holds out and promises to us.
35. Will the destruction of Babylon the Great clear all obstructions out of our way, or what will be the situation?
35 Would-be obstructors are sure to present themselves in our pathway that lies ahead of us. Notwithstanding that the day and the hour of the outbreak of the “great tribulation” has not been revealed to us, it is timed by God and will not delay. (Habakkuk 2:3) The “great tribulation” is in the declared purpose of God and it is bound to come. Let us keep in mind that the destruction of religious Babylon the Great in the forepart of the tribulation will not completely clear the way for us. It merely frees the hand of the final remaining obstructors to give undivided attention to interference with our reaching our God-ordained goal. What shall we then do?
36. The crucial situation that will then exist reminds us of what historical situation?
36 The crucial situation that is then to shape itself before us stirs up the memory of the apparently trapped Israelites on the Egyptian side of the Red Sea shortly after Passover of 1513 B.C.E. Before them the sea blocks their direct passage to the Mountain of God, Mount Sinai, on the Arabian peninsula. Their encampment at the sea is menaced from the rear. The Egyptians are coming! Under leadership of the royal Pharaoh of Egypt the war chariots and the cavalrymen are bearing down upon the Israelite camp. How long will it be before the military forces of Pharaoh are upon them? The look of things is most alarming indeed! What shall they do? Under the circumstances cries go up to God, whose leading of them into this perilous situation they cannot understand.
37. Faced with this alarming situation, what seemingly impossible thing did God command them to do?
37 What is the command that they now hear? It is unbelievable, impossible, according to the appearance of things! The divine command is to break camp, not in a panicky stampede before the onrushing enemy, but to march away from them. That meant—into the sea! That is right, Forward march! “The Eternal said to Moses, ‘Why cry to me? Tell the Israelites to march forward. And as for you, raise your stick and stretch your hand over the sea; part it in two, that the Israelites may march on dry ground through the sea. I am going to make the Egyptians so stubborn that they will pass in after them, and I will gain honour out of the Pharaoh and all his army, his chariots and cavalry—to teach the Egyptians that I am the Eternal, when I gain honour out of the Pharaoh and his chariots and his cavalry.’”—Exodus 14:15-18, Moffatt; Byington; Jerusalem Bible; An American Translation; Revised Standard Version.
38. (a) How was the enemy caught in the trap and completely destroyed? (b) What did the Israelites then have good reason to do?
38 Through the corridor that the Almighty God miraculously cut through the Red Sea his threatened people march forward after striking camp. Clear across they march to the shores of the Sinaitic peninsula. Enticingly the escape corridor is left open. The Egyptians, temporarily blocked from charging into the camp of the Israelites, now resume their furious charge. Into the water-walled corridor they roll and gallop in hot pursuit. They are at last all inside the corridor. Then chariot troubles impede progress. So—beat a retreat before the God of the Israelites who fights for them! But it is too late. At the signal from Moses with his prophet’s stick, the trap is sprung. The waters of the parted sea rush together. Pharaoh’s entire military forces are engulfed. Dead bodies of them are washed up upon the shores of the Sinaitic peninsula. Sing and dance now, you Israelites, over your deliverance by Jehovah’s hand.—Exodus 14:19 through 15:21.
39. (a) For whose instruction were those things recorded in the Bible? (b) When confronted with the all-out attack by Satan the Devil and his international hordes, to what determination must we stick?
39 Those things, put on record aforetime, were written for our instruction at the most critical time. (Romans 15:4) The future attack of the symbolic ten horns and the then-riderless scarlet-colored wild beast will pose a great threat to our existence and our spiritual paradise, after they have hatefully disposed of the Babylonish world empire of false religion. (Revelation 17:14) The all-out attack by the symbolic Gog of the land of Magog (Satan the Devil) and his international hordes will be aimed at our restored relations with Jehovah God and our intransigent stand for his universal sovereignty and his Messianic kingdom. (Ezekiel 38:10-17) Hatred of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses by all nonreligious nations will be at its highest intensity. What is there then for us to do—lose hope? Under no circumstances! Our determination, already now formed for that extreme situation, is to stick to the course that will lead to the vindication of Jehovah as the Universal Sovereign!
40. In our case, what will the command to march unitedly forward mean?
40 Though it may appear to call for the impossible, the command from the Sovereign Lord Jehovah through his Greater Moses, Jesus Christ, will ring out sharp and clear in our ears, ‘Go forward! March unitedly forward!’ That means, Keep on doing the will of Jehovah God as ruler rather than obey men. Keep on being a disciple of the one whom He has anointed to be the Messianic King over mankind for a thousand years to come! So, then, forward, with eyes still fixed on the goal. It is still ahead. Moving forward undeviatingly will bring us triumphantly to it. (Hebrews 10:39) Try all that the enemy might to drag us back into slavery to this ungodly world, he will fail. The Almighty God will open up for us the corridor to the shores of freedom. The enemy, persisting in the vengeful pursuit of the forward-marching worshipers of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, will enter a trap of destruction.
41. What unrepeatable privilege will be the portion of those who are then alive?
41 Glorious it will then be when we can imitate the prophet Moses and the Israelites after their deliverance at the Red Sea and sing our own song recounting the exploits of the “manly person of war,” Jehovah, at Har–Magedon and climaxing the celebration song by saying: “Jehovah will rule as king to time indefinite, even forever.” (Exodus 15:1-18) Doubtless heaven as well as the surviving spectators on earth of Jehovah’s all-crowning victory will unitedly sing the praises of the now undisputed King of all the universe. What an unrepeatable privilege it will be to find ourselves among those victory singers!
42, 43. (a) How do the words of Psalm 66:10-12 fit the experiences of those who, as Jehovah’s Christian witnesses, have lived through the events since 1914 C.E.? (b) Regardless of what difficult circumstances may lie ahead for the remnant of spiritual Israel, what grand reassurance do they have in Isaiah 43?
42 Unequaled world distress lies just ahead of us, but let us face it undaunted. We oldsters of “this generation” who have passed through two world wars since 1914 C.E. and also experienced the religious persecution of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses that has marked all the years since 1914, we indeed can say with the Bible psalmist of old: “You have examined us, O God; you have refined us as when refining silver. You have brought us into a hunting net; you have put pressure on our hips. You have made mortal man to ride over our head; we have come through fire and through water, and you proceeded to bring us forth to relief.” (Psalm 66:10-12) We may still have to go “through fire and through water” amid the severest world distress just ahead. But the anointed remnant of spiritual Israel have this grand reassurance from Jehovah God:
43 “And now this is what Jehovah has said, your Creator, O Jacob, and your Former, O Israel: ‘Do not be afraid, for I have repurchased you. I have called you by your name. You are mine. In case you should pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not flood over you. In case you should walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, neither will the flame itself singe you. For I am Jehovah your God, the Holy One of Israel your Savior. . . .’ ‘You are my witnesses,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘even my servant whom I have chosen, in order that you may know and have faith in me, and that you may understand that I am the same One.’”—Isaiah 43:1-3, 10.
44. Despite what the future may hold, what does Zephaniah 3:16, 17 urge Jehovah’s servants to do, and with what confidence?
44 Be it, then, that Jehovah’s Christian witnesses still have to pass through what corresponds with fire and water, he will be with them. He will prove himself to be the same God of deliverance. There is no basis for now slacking our hand and our pace in service as his Kingdom witnesses. Fear of the immediate future on earth should not chill us with fear and stiffen us into inaction. He is happy over what we have done in his Kingdom service until now, for which reason he has marvelously blessed us. For our sakes the prophetic words were written and now have an application to us: “In that day it will be said to Jerusalem: ‘Do not be afraid, O Zion. May your hands not drop down. Jehovah your God is in the midst of you. As a mighty One, he will save. He will exult over you with rejoicing. He will become silent [quiet; at ease; satisfied] in his love. He will be joyful over you with happy cries.’”—Zephaniah 3:16, 17.
45. So, to what work should we courageously apply our hands?
45 May we continue to give the living God of the “heavenly Jerusalem” great cause for being happy and rejoicing over us. So may these hands of ours that have been so active till now in ministering to Jehovah God at his spiritual temple—may they not now drop down, be slack. Let us courageously apply them to lifesaving work that yet remains to be done before the current world distress reaches its culmination in the “great tribulation.”
46. (a) How long is “this good news of the kingdom” to be preached? (b) To whom will all thanks be given for salvation of obedient mankind from world distress?
46 “This good news of the kingdom” was foretold by Jesus Christ to be preached till the end of this system of things comes. (Matthew 24:14) For us, as his faithful and obedient disciples, there offers itself no other right course but to keep preaching world wide until the “new heavens” kingdom is no longer mere “good news” but, O joy! a glorious reality along with a “new earth,” the new human society that will fill Paradise restored with righteousness. Then all thanks will be offered to the tender-hearted God, Jehovah, who saves obedient mankind out of world distress into his peaceful “new earth.”