Keep Close in Mind Jehovah’s Day
1. (a) When you first learned that deliverance from the heartaches of this old system was near, how did you react? (b) What questions concerning this should we seriously consider?
NO DOUBT one of the first things you learned from study of the Bible was that deliverance from the heartaches of life in the present system of things is near. (Luke 21:28) You came to realize that God’s purpose is for all the earth to be a Paradise. Crime, war, sickness and death will be no more, and even dead loved ones will live again. What a heartwarming prospect! The nearness of it all was emphasized by evidence that Christ’s invisible presence as ruling King began in 1914 C.E. and that since then we have been in the last days of this wicked world. Has that knowledge produced changes in your life? Does your way of life really demonstrate conviction that “Jehovah’s day” is near?
2. (a) When will the “day of Jehovah” come? (b) How has the fact that Jehovah did not reveal the “day or the hour” proved beneficial?
2 The Scriptures clearly show that the “generation” that saw the beginning of Christ’s presence would also see the “great day of Jehovah” in which he executes judgment against all who practice unrighteousness. (Matt. 24:34; Zeph. 1:14–2:3) That “generation” is now well along in years. But the Bible does not pinpoint the exact date when Jesus Christ will come as Jehovah’s executioner against Satan’s earthly system of things. “Concerning that day or the hour nobody knows, neither the angels in heaven nor the Son, but the Father,” said Jesus. (Mark 13:32) This has proved to be very beneficial. In what way? It has helped to show up what is in people’s hearts. If any do not really love Jehovah, they are inclined to postpone his “day” in their minds and turn to secular pursuits toward which their hearts incline. Jehovah approves as his servants only those who truly love him and who show it by serving him whole-souled, regardless of when the end of the wicked system comes. The approval of God and of his Son is not with those who are lukewarm or of a double mind.—Rev. 3:16; Ps. 37:4; 1 John 5:3.
3. What did Jesus say as a caution for us on this matter?
3 In a word of caution to lovers of Jehovah, Jesus said: “Keep looking, keep awake, for you do not know when the appointed time is.” (Mark 13:33-37) He urges us not to allow eating and drinking or “anxieties of life” to absorb so much of our attention that we lose sight of the seriousness of the time.—Luke 21:34-36; Matt. 24:37-42.
4. As Peter explained, what will the “day of Jehovah” bring?
4 Later, the apostle Peter counseled all who have true faith to ‘await and keep close in mind 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.’ The nearness of “Jehovah’s day” is a fact that none of us should ever minimize. The visible governmental heavens and wicked human society are soon to be replaced by “new heavens and a new earth” of God’s making, and all the “elements” that go along with the present worldly system—its independent attitude, its immoral and materialistic way of life—will be brought to their end in the destructive heat of “Jehovah’s day.” (2 Pet. 3:10-13) We need to keep alert, being aware that these world-shattering events could begin at any moment.—Matt. 24:44.
Keep Alert to Events Fulfilling the Sign
5. (a) To what extent did Jesus’ reply to the question recorded at Matthew 24:3 apply to the end of the Jewish system? (b) What portions of his answer focus attention on events from 1914 C.E. forward?
5 Especially in view of the time in which we live, we should be well acquainted with the details of the composite sign identifying the “last days,” or the “conclusion of the system of things.” To read the sign correctly, we must keep in mind that when Jesus answered the question of his disciples as recorded at Matthew 24:3, some of what he said applied to the end of the Jewish system in the first century, but the main application reached far beyond that. What he described in Mt 24 verses 4 through 22 did have a small-scale fulfillment between 33 and 70 C.E. But the prophecy has its major fulfillment in our day and identifies the period since 1914 C.E. as being the time of Christ’s “presence and of the conclusion of the system of things.” (Also Mark 13:5-20 and Luke 21:8-24) Matthew 24:23-28 tells what would take place from 70 C.E. forward into the time of Christ’s presence. (Also Mark 13:21-23) As for the developments described from Matthew 24:29–25:46 to the end of chapter 25, these point to the period since 1914 C.E.—Also Mark 13:24-37 and Luke 21:25-36.
6. (a) Why should we personally be alert to how current events fulfill “the sign”? (b) Answer the questions at the end of this paragraph to show how “the sign” has been fulfilled since 1914.
6 We personally ought to be observant of current events that fulfill “the sign.” Our relating these events to Bible prophecy will help us to keep “close in mind” Jehovah’s day. It will also enable us to be persuasive when warning others of the nearness of “the day of vengeance on the part of our God.” (Isa. 61:1, 2) With these objectives in mind, review the following facets of “the sign.”
In what extraordinary way was the foretold rising of ‘nation against nation and kingdom against kingdom’ fulfilled starting in 1914 C.E.? What has happened even in recent months that adds to the fulfillment?
To what extent have food shortages affected the earth despite the scientific knowledge of the 20th century?
Has there really been any difference in the frequency of earthquakes in one place after another since 1914 C.E.?
In 1918 what pestilence claimed more lives than the world war? In spite of medical knowledge, what diseases are still of epidemic proportions?
What evidence do you see that men really are faint out of fear, as foretold at Luke 21:26?
What convinces you that the conditions described in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 are not simply the way life has always been but that they are intensifying to a shocking degree as we move toward the close of the last days?
Separating of People
7. (a) What other event, described at Matthew 13:36-43, did Jesus associate with the conclusion of the system of things? (b) What does that illustration mean?
7 There are also other significant events that Jesus prominently associated with the conclusion of the system of things. One of these is the separation of the “sons of the kingdom” from the “sons of the wicked one.” Jesus spoke of this in his parable about a wheat field that an enemy oversowed with weeds. The “wheat” in his illustration represents true anointed Christians. The “weeds” are imitation Christians. In the conclusion of the system of things the “weeds”—those who profess to be Christians but who prove themselves “sons of the wicked one” because they cling to the world of which the Devil is ruler—are separated from the “sons of [God’s] kingdom” and marked for destruction. (Matt. 13:36-43) Has this actually taken place?
8. (a) After World War I, what great separation of all claiming to be Christians took place? (b) How did the true anointed Christians give evidence that they were, indeed, “sons of the kingdom”?
8 After World War I there was, indeed, a great separating of all persons who claimed to be Christians into two classes: (1) The clergy of Christendom and their followers, who came out in strong support of the League of Nations (now the United Nations), while still holding fast to their nationalism. (2) The relatively few true anointed Christians of that postwar era, who gave their full support to God’s Messianic Kingdom. By open support of governments of the world as the means for achieving peace and security, the first class made it plain that they were not true Christians. (John 17:16) In contrast, Jehovah’s servants correctly identified the League of Nations as the modern-day “disgusting thing that causes desolation,” referred to in Matthew 24:15. Showing themselves to be true “sons of [God’s] kingdom,” they undertook the preaching of “this good news of the kingdom . . . in all the inhabited earth.” (Matt. 24:14) With what results?
9. What was the first result of this Kingdom-preaching activity?
9 First, there was a gathering of the remnant of the “chosen ones,” spirit-anointed Christians. Though widely scattered among the nations, as if to the “four winds,” under angelic direction they were brought into organizational unity.—Matt. 24:31.
10. (a) How has a further separating work been done, and in harmony with what prophecy? (b) What does fulfillment of these prophecies signify?
10 Then, as Jesus foretold, he began separating people of all nations, “just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” This work, directed by Christ from his heavenly throne, continues right down to the present, and you personally are affected by it. The majority of mankind spurn God’s Kingdom and its spirit-anointed “sons” and so will be consigned to “everlasting cutting-off” in death. However, to others the Lord extends the invitation to inherit the earthly realm of his Kingdom, with everlasting life in view. Such sheeplike ones have associated themselves with the anointed “sons of the kingdom,” even though these are objects of cruel persecution. (Matt. 25:31-46) Loyally they help them to publicize the vital message of the Kingdom. A great crowd numbering into the millions is sharing in this work. The Kingdom message is being heard to the ends of the earth. What do these events signify? That we are very near the end of the “last days” and that the “day of Jehovah” is close at hand.
What Lies Ahead?
11. Is there more preaching work to be done before “Jehovah’s day” arrives?
11 Are there still prophecies to be fulfilled before the great and fear-inspiring day of Jehovah begins? Yes! The separating of people over the Kingdom issue is not yet finished. In some areas where intense opposition was experienced for years, there is now a bumper crop of new disciples. And even where people reject the good news, Jehovah’s justice and mercy are upheld by our giving the witness. So, on with the work! Jesus assures us that, when it is done, “the end will come.”—Matt. 24:14.
12. (a) As shown at 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 3, what noteworthy event is yet to take place? (b) What will it mean to us?
12 Another highly significant Bible prophecy foretells: “Whenever it is that they are saying: ‘Peace and security!’ then sudden destruction is to be instantly upon them just as the pang of distress upon a pregnant woman; and they will by no means escape.” (1 Thess. 5:2, 3) What form that proclamation of “peace and security” will take remains to be seen. But it certainly will not mean that the world leaders have truly solved the problems of mankind. Those who are “keeping close in mind” Jehovah’s day will not be misled by that proclamation. They know that, immediately thereafter, “sudden destruction” will come.
13. What events will immediately follow the proclamation of “peace and security,” and in what order?
13 First, as the Scriptures show, the political rulers will, on a global basis, turn against Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion, and annihilate her. (Rev. 17:15, 16) It is indeed noteworthy that hostile attitudes especially toward Christendom’s religions are even now manifesting themselves. Governments with strong antireligious policies already exercise powerful influence in the United Nations, and the public themselves in traditionally religious lands are in large numbers forsaking the religions of their forefathers. What does it all mean? That the desolating of all false religion is near. Thereafter, when the nations defiantly turn, full force, against those who uphold Jehovah’s sovereignty, divine fury will be unleashed against the political governments and their supporters, resulting in total destruction for all of them. Finally, Satan himself with his demons will be hurled into the abyss, completely restrained from influencing mankind. This will indeed be “Jehovah’s day,” the day when his name will be put on high.—Ezek. 38:18, 22, 23; Rev. 19:11–20:3.
14. Why would it be unwise to reason that Jehovah’s day is yet far off?
14 It will come exactly on time, according to God’s schedule. It will not be late. (Hab. 2:3) Remember, the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. came quickly, when the Jews did not expect it, when they thought danger was past. And what of ancient Babylon? It was powerful, confident, fortified with massive walls. But it fell in one night. So, too, “sudden destruction” will come upon the present wicked system. When it does, may we be found united in true worship, having kept “close in mind” Jehovah’s day.
● Why is it vital to keep “close in mind” Jehovah’s day? How can we do that?
● How are we personally affected by the separating of people that is taking place?
● What still lies ahead before Jehovah’s day begins? So what should we personally be doing?