On the Watch During “the Conclusion of the System of Things”
1. Why do we need to keep on the watch?
WE ARE deep into “the conclusion of the system of things,” but we “know neither the day nor the hour” when time for life-saving enlightenment will end. That is why Jesus said: “Keep on the watch, therefore, because you know neither the day nor the hour.”—Matthew 24:3; 25:13.
2. What disappointing experience is to be avoided?
2 It would indeed be disappointing to a person if he belatedly arrived at the place for a marriage feast and found the door shut. Yet that is what is destined to befall the vast majority of professed Christians in the near future. The “Prince of Peace” illustrated this by these words: “Afterwards the rest of the virgins also came, saying, ‘Sir, sir, open to us!’ In answer he said, ‘I tell you the truth, I do not know you.’”—Matthew 25:11, 12.
3. (a) The year 1919 proved to be a time for what? (b) Have Christendom’s religionists been able to supply the needed spiritual oil?
3 Since 1919 spiritual enlightenment by discreet ones with the aid of the “oil” of Jehovah’s Word and holy spirit has been available, but foolish ones try to buy spiritual oil from those in Christendom who claim to sell it. (Matthew 25:9) The religionists of Christendom, however, do not have the right kind of oil. They have not been able to supply illumination about the presence of Jesus Christ as the heavenly Bridegroom. They expect that when they die they will go to heaven immediately and meet him, without having shared in the work of enlightenment during this “conclusion of the system of things.”
4. To this date, what have those pictured by the foolish virgins failed to do, and why?
4 On the other hand, there have been those who, like spiritual virgins, have proved to have a reserve of the “oil” of the holy spirit and God’s Word for the postwar work of worldwide enlightenment regarding “the kingdom.” (Matthew 24:14) Those pictured in Jesus’ parable as foolish virgins are not sharing in it by letting the light shine on this good news of international importance. They did not have the “oil” of God’s enlightening Word and his holy spirit, and the Bridegroom Judge at the spiritual temple discerned this failing on their part. Their hearts proved not to be with the postwar work that was promptly taken up in 1919 by the Christian virgins who were discreet in discerning both time and work.
5. In what do the foolish virgins fail to have a part that is essential to their being united with the Bridegroom King?
5 In parting company from those who supported Jehovah’s visible organization, the foolish ones were failing to participate in the worldwide Kingdom witness. They finally acquired “oil” of religious enlightenment, but it was not the right kind of oil. It would not provide illumination for the right event at the right time. So they are not preaching the Kingdom message and “the day of vengeance on the part of our God.” (Isaiah 61:1-3) They are not hailing the Bridegroom King as the anointed remnant of the virgins class is doing.
Effect of the Lamplight at Midnight
6, 7. (a) What occurred in the mid-1930’s that suggested that there were enough virgins to complete the membership of the bride class? (b) Attention was called to what class that now needed to be gathered?
6 In the mid-1930’s, something significant took place. What occurred suggested that the membership of the spiritual bride of Christ had been filled, that there were on earth enough spirit-begotten disciples of the Bridegroom to make up the full number of his heavenly bride.
7 At that time, in 1935, attention began to be called to another class of sheeplike disciples of Jesus. This was the class that had been called to public attention during the first world war. It was on February 24, 1918, that a lecture on the subject “Millions Now Living May Never Die” was delivered to a curious, possibly doubt-filled, audience. At the 1935 convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Washington, D.C., something positive was introduced about gathering these millions of Christ’s “other sheep” into a unified “flock” under Jesus Christ as the “one shepherd.” (John 10:16) The identity of this segment of “other sheep” as foretold in Revelation 7:9-17 was pointed out.
8. Under what obligation did the discreet virgins come in 1935, unanticipated by them?
8 The remnant of the “little flock” now came under the obligation of starting off the gathering of this “great crowd” of the “other sheep.” (Luke 12:32) This was because the number of discreet virgins needed to complete Jesus’ bride had now been filled. But such virgins were not taken at once to heaven. They are yet to be admitted into that heavenly festal chamber when they finish their earthly course as integrity-keeping witnesses of their God, Jehovah. Because of their faithful work of enlightenment up to 1935, they were ushered into a special privilege that they had never anticipated before the mid-1930’s.
9. Into what number has the remaining ones of the discreet virgins changed to date?
9 Over a half century has passed since 1935, and during these years the number of the discreet ones of the virgins class has been decreasing. On the other hand, the witness work has expanded to worldwide proportions, yes, to include more than 200 distinct lands. Currently, the virgins class has dropped to about 9,000 in number.
Helpful Companions of the Light Bearers
10. In view of the immensity of the work, is the remnant of the discreet virgins able to measure up to the need for workers?
10 The anointed remnant of figurative virgins are almost crowded out of the picture by the more than three million Kingdom publishers in over 49,000 congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses all around the globe. How could the tiny number of the anointed remnant take care of the witnessing work in the more than 200 lands where those thousands of congregations are located? They could not.
11. (a) The identification of “the faithful and discreet slave” caused what to take place among those professing to be virgins? (b) What are those of the “evil slave” class unable to discern because of lack of sufficient spiritual illumination?
11 They do, of course, Scripturally serve in the foretold position of “the faithful and discreet slave” whom the Bridegroom Master found faithful on his coming to the temple for judgment. Then it was that the division started to take place between the discreet virgins and the foolish virgins of the figurative virgins class. Those counted as “that evil slave” class do not have the oil of God’s enlightening Word and his holy spirit in their receptacles to light up their lamps. Thus they did not have sufficient spiritual illumination to discern the “great crowd” of the “other sheep,” already being gathered since 1935 as part of the “one flock.”—Matthew 24:45-51.
12. Who have become inseparable companions of the remnant of the bride class?
12 Since World War II, the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy for “the conclusion of the system of things” is largely due to the role that the “great crowd” of “other sheep” carry out. The illumination from the lighted lamps of the remnant has brightened the eyes of their hearts, and they have been helped to reflect the light to others yet remaining in the darkness of this world. (Compare Ephesians 1:18.) They have helped millions of inhabitants of this earth to discern the presence of the Bridegroom King as the day of his marriage to the complete bride class nears. They have come to be inseparable companions of the remnant of the bride class.
13, 14. (a) What delightful situation with respect to the companions of the remnant is figuratively set out in Revelation 7:9, 10? (b) What was the immediate response to the explanation of that prophecy?
13 Since 1935 the lot of these companions of the remnant of the bride class has been a joyful one. They rejoice not only over the grand privileges into which the remnant has already entered but also over the blessed privileges into which they themselves have been conducted by means of the remnant of the bride class.
14 A wonderful text was opened to the understanding of Jehovah’s people at the Washington, D.C., convention in 1935, and it foretold a delightful situation for the “great crowd,” the companions of the anointed. See them there, “standing before the throne [of Jehovah God] and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes; and there [are] palm branches in their hands”! Listen to what they are loudly crying out for all the public to hear: “Salvation we owe to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb”! (Revelation 7:9, 10) They have already exercised faith in “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world,” and through him they have dedicated themselves to Jehovah God and have got baptized in symbol of that dedication. (John 1:29) Why, 840 of them got baptized the day after hearing the explanation of Revelation 7:9-17 on Friday, May 31, 1935.
15. Since then, how many have been baptized, and how are they pictured in Revelation 7:14-17?
15 More than three million have done the same since that Washington convention in 1935. Thus they are pictured as clothed with white robes due to having washed them in the cleansing blood of the Lamb. And they have the prospect of coming out of the great tribulation that is ahead for all the world of mankind, having divine protection clear through that tribulation. (Matthew 24:21, 22) Therefore, they are dramatized as being at the spiritual temple of Jehovah and there worshiping him with the remnant of the virgins class.—Revelation 7:14-17.
16. To whom, then, are profuse thanks offered for their part in connection with fulfilling Matthew 24:14?
16 Profuse thanks, therefore, to the international, multilingual “great crowd” for the overwhelming part that they have played in the fulfilling of the Bridegroom’s prophecy at Matthew 24:14!
“And the Door Was Shut”
17. (a) When will the door to the marriage festivities be closed? (b) What is it necessary for the remnant of the virgins class and the “great crowd” of their companions to do now?
17 Exactly when the remnant of the virgins class will have entered into the festal marriage ceremonies, and the door then is shut, is not known. But it is unquestionably nearer than ever before, and time is running out! Appropriately, then, Jesus concluded the parable of the virgins with the cautionary words: “Keep on the watch, therefore, because you know neither the day nor the hour.”—Matthew 25:13.
18. (a) With whom have the foolish virgins now identified themselves? (b) What part of Jesus’ parable are they due to experience shortly?
18 For this reason the foolish virgins will be taken off guard. By their parting company with the discreet virgins, they have become part of this doomed world and classify themselves with all the other religionists out there in the deepening earth-wide darkness. Thus they are destined to experience what the Bridegroom Jesus Christ portrayed in these words of the parable: “Afterwards the rest of the virgins also came, saying, ‘Sir, sir, open to us!’ In answer he said, ‘I tell you the truth, I do not know you.’”—Matthew 25:10-12.
19. Whom do the foolish virgins therefore picture, and why are they to be classified with Babylon the Great?
19 So the door to the feast is not to be opened to those foolish virgins. They well pictured those who during “the conclusion of the system of things” fail to make it into “the kingdom of the heavens.” (Matthew 24:3; 25:1) Because of holding on to their chosen form of religion, as indicated by their going to the market to buy other oil, they are classified with Babylon the Great.
20. (a) When the foolish virgins see the “ten horns” of the “wild beast” begin to turn against Babylon the Great, to whom will they appeal and on what claim? (b) Why will they nevertheless experience destruction?
20 Consequently, when the symbolic “wild beast,” which the religious harlot rides, turns against her with its “ten horns,” they will have to share her fate. (Revelation 17:16) When such religionists, pictured by the five foolish virgins, see this beginning of the rejection of Babylonish religion by the powerful forces of the political element, they will turn to the Bridegroom King, claiming that they are of “the kingdom of the heavens” class and deserve to be let into the spiritual marriage festivities with the discreet virgins. Shockingly, the one whom they address as “Sir,” the Bridegroom Jesus Christ, will refuse to recognize them as deserving of admittance into the heavenly Kingdom. And they have not shared any hope of eternal life on earth along with the “great crowd.” So nothing remains for these foolish religionists but destruction with the world empire of false religion, Babylon the Great!
21. (a) In view of that frightful prospect, what course do the discreet virgins and their companions pursue? (b) What privileges of service do members of the “great crowd” hope to enjoy?
21 What a frightful prospect for them! Being aware of this, the remnant and the multitude of their companions will constantly heed Jesus’ advice to “keep on the watch.” They will always be filled with God’s holy spirit and let the light shine fearlessly to the glory of Jehovah God and Jesus Christ. Rewardingly, joyfulness is their assured portion! And princely positions in the “new earth” await members of the “great crowd,” as designated by the wedded Bridegroom King.—Isaiah 32:1; compare Psalm 45:16.
22. (a) Fulfillment of the parable of the virgins serves as a confirmation of what fact? (b) Who will rejoice over this marriage of the Bridegroom King and his virgin bride?
22 So this extended fulfillment of the parable of the ten virgins serves as a confirmation of the fact that we are living in “the conclusion of the system of things.” How grateful we can be that we have been enlightened to behold this evidence of the nearness of the marriage of Jesus Christ with his complete bride class! Over this celestial marriage, both heaven and the righteous “new earth” will rejoice with unspeakable joy.—Revelation 19:6-9.