Things That Must Shortly Take Place
1. How can you escape God’s execution of judgment upon this world?
YOU should be deeply concerned about world events today. Why so? Because this world cannot escape God’s execution of judgment. But you can escape. You can do this by making yourself “no part of the world” that is doomed to destruction. This does not mean adopting an austere, monastic way of life. It means that while enjoying a wholesome, meaningful life, you separate yourself from political corruption, from greedy commercialism, and from God-dishonoring religion, as well as from violent and immoral behavior. At the same time, you must follow God’s high standards of conduct and seek to do his will. (John 17:14-16; Zephaniah 2:2, 3; Revelation 21:8) The Bible book of Revelation shows how important it is for you to apply yourself in these respects, making changes as necessary in your way of life.
2. How does the apostle John introduce the grand prophecy of Revelation, and to whom did God give this weighty message?
2 The apostle John introduces this grand prophecy with the words: “A revelation by Jesus Christ, which God gave him, to show his slaves the things that must shortly take place.” (Revelation 1:1a) So it was the resurrected Jesus Christ who received this weighty message from God. Far from being part of a mystic Trinity, Jesus is here shown to be subject to his Father. In the same way, the “slaves” making up the Christian congregation are subject to Jesus Christ, so that they ‘keep following him wherever he goes.’ (Revelation 14:4; Ephesians 5:24) But who today are truly “slaves” of God, and how does Revelation benefit them?
3. (a) Who are the “slaves” that are subject to Jesus Christ? (b) What work are the faithful “slaves” doing under angelic direction?
3 The apostle John, who wrote down Revelation, describes himself as such a slave. He was the last surviving apostle and one of the select spirit-anointed group of “slaves” that inherit immortal life in the heavens. Today, there are just a few thousand of these remaining on earth. God has other servants, too, a great crowd of them, men, women, and children, numbering now into the millions. Under angelic direction, these are sharing with the anointed “slaves” in declaring everlasting good news to all mankind. Oh, how all these “slaves” are expending themselves in order to help the meek ones of the earth to find salvation! (Matthew 24:14; Revelation 7:9, 14; 14:6) Revelation indicates what you must do to benefit from the happifying good news.
4. (a) Since it is more than 1,900 years ago that John wrote Revelation, how could he speak of “things that must shortly take place”? (b) What does the evidence now indicate about the things foretold?
4 How could John say, though, that these “slaves” would be shown “things that must shortly take place”? Were not those words spoken more than 1,900 years ago? From the viewpoint of Jehovah, in whose eyes a thousand years are but “as yesterday,” 1,900 years is a short time when compared with the aeons of time that he spent in creating and preparing the earth for human habitation. (Psalm 90:4) The apostle Paul wrote of his own “eager expectation and hope,” for no doubt the reality of his reward seemed close at hand to him. (Philippians 1:20) Today, however, the evidence abounds that all the things foretold will take place on schedule. Never before in history has the very survival of mankind been at stake. Only God has the solution!—Isaiah 45:21.
Channel of Communication
5. How was Revelation communicated to the apostle John and then to the congregations?
5 Revelation 1:1b, 2 continues: “And he [Jesus] sent forth his angel and presented it [Revelation] in signs through him to his slave John, who bore witness to the word God gave and to the witness Jesus Christ gave, even to all the things he saw.” Thus, John received the inspired record through an angelic messenger. He wrote it in a scroll, transmitting it to the congregations of his time. Happily for us, God has preserved it for the encouragement of the almost 100,000 congregations of his united servants on earth today.
6. How did Jesus identify the channel that he would use to provide spiritual food for his ‘slaves’ today?
6 God had a channel for communicating Revelation in John’s day, and John was the earthly part of that channel. Likewise, God has a channel for giving spiritual nourishment to his ‘slaves’ today. In his great prophecy concerning the conclusion of the system of things, Jesus identified the earthly part of this channel as “the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics, to give them their food at the proper time.” (Matthew 24:3, 45-47) He uses this John class in unlocking the meaning of the prophecy.
7. (a) How should the signs found in Revelation affect us? (b) For how long have some of the John class shared in the fulfillment of the visions of Revelation?
7 The apostle John writes that Jesus presented Revelation “in signs,” or symbols. These are vivid and thrilling to examine. They depict dynamic activity and should, in turn, stir us to zealous efforts in making known to others the prophecy and its meaning. Revelation presents for us a number of electrifying visions, in each of which John participated either actively or as an observer. Those of the John class, some of whom have shared for many decades in the fulfillment of these visions, are happy that God’s spirit has unlocked the meaning so that they can explain it to others.
8. (a) What is distinct about each of the visions of Revelation? (b) How does Daniel’s prophecy help us to understand the identity of the beasts of Revelation?
8 These visions in Revelation are not presented in chronological order. Each has its own time period of fulfillment. Many of the visions echo words of earlier prophecies that provide clues as to their interpretation. For example, Daniel’s prophecy described four fearsome beasts, explaining that these portrayed ruling powers on earth. Hence, we are helped to understand that the beasts of Revelation represent political entities, including those now existing.—Daniel 7:1-8, 17; Revelation 13:2, 11-13; 17:3.
9. (a) Like John, what attitude has the John class shown? (b) How does John show the way for us to become happy?
9 John was faithful in bearing witness to the message that God through Jesus Christ gave to him. He described in detail “all the things he saw.” The John class has earnestly sought guidance from God and Jesus Christ in order to understand the prophecy fully and make known its fine points to God’s people. For the benefit of the anointed congregation (and also of the international great crowd that God will preserve alive through the great tribulation), John writes: “Happy is he who reads aloud and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and who observe the things written in it; for the appointed time is near.”—Revelation 1:3.
10. What must we do with regard to Revelation to attain to happiness?
10 You will benefit greatly by reading Revelation and even more so by observing the things written in it. John explained in one of his letters: “This is what the love of God means, that we observe his commandments; and yet his commandments are not burdensome, because everything that has been born from God conquers the world. And this is the conquest that has conquered the world, our faith.” (1 John 5:3, 4) You can become supremely happy by building such a faith!
11. (a) Why is it urgent that we observe the words of the prophecy? (b) What time must now be perilously close?
11 It is urgent that we observe the words of the prophecy, “for the appointed time is near.” The appointed time for what? For the fulfillment of the prophecies of Revelation, including God’s judgments. The time is near for God and Jesus Christ to execute final judgment on Satan’s world system. When Jesus was here on earth, he stated that only his Father knew “that day or the hour.” Looking ahead to the troubles that have multiplied on earth in our day, Jesus also said: “This generation will by no means pass away until all these things happen.” So the appointed time for executing God’s decision must be drawing perilously close. (Mark 13:8, 30-32) As Habakkuk 2:3 states: “The vision is yet for the appointed time, and it keeps panting on to the end, and it will not tell a lie. Even if it should delay, keep in expectation of it; for it will without fail come true. It will not be late.” Our salvation through the great tribulation depends on our observing God’s prophetic Word.—Matthew 24:20-22.
[Box on page 15]
To understand the book of Revelation we need
● To receive the help of Jehovah’s spirit
● To discern when the Lord’s day began
● To recognize the faithful and discreet slave today