Fearless at the World’s End
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear.”—Ps. 46:1, 2.
1. Who are today in fear, and who are not so, and why?
JEHOVAH caused the record to be made that in the closing days of this old world there would be many tribulations, great evils committed, increased oppressions, sorrows multiplied, and an all-pervading sense of uncertainty and insecurity would rest on the people. Trouble upon trouble has come upon this generation, until many wonder just what will come next. Great fear has overtaken the earth’s inhabitants. They know some great catastrophe is impending and that they are powerless to stop it. Terrible disasters have already taken place and more are yet to follow. Amid all this the faithful Christians are the objects of intense universal hatred, and yet they are counseled not to be discouraged or frightened. Concerning the “time of the end” of this world, in which we have been since A.D. 1914, their Master said: “And when you hear of wars and disturbances, do not be scared; these have to come first, but the end is not at once.” (Luke 21:9, Moffatt) And previous to that prophecy he had said to them: “Fear not, you little flock, for your Father’s delight is to give you the Realm,” that is, the Kingdom.—Luke 12:32, Moff.
2. Who now bear the light? Why is it attempted to frighten them?
2 This present evil world is in opposition to Almighty Jehovah, and always has been, and there is no hope of its ever coming into harmony with God’s perfect will. Ignorance of the Most High God is everywhere; a dense, mental darkness blankets humankind, obscuring the knowledge of Jehovah. Only the faithful footstep followers of Jesus Christ know Jehovah. Truly “darkness covereth the earth, and deep gloom the peoples, but on thee beameth [Jehovah], and his glory on thee is seen”. (Isa. 60:2, Rotherham) Into the darkness of this world the light must penetrate to open the blind eyes, revealing the knowledge of the glory of God and of his beloved King-Son to earth’s millions, showing the pathway to life and offering comfort and peace. Darkness is the antithesis of light. It is no wonder, then, that all manner of evil things are said about the light-bearers for their discouragement. Threats are made by the workers of darkness against the children of light to try to intimidate and if possible bring fear so that they will desist from spreading light. Such conduct by those of this world often causes much surprise to the peaceful servants of the only light. They find it hard to understand until they call to mind what Jesus said concerning such experiences: “Happy are ye, whensoever they may reproach you and persecute you and say every evil thing against you falsely for my sake: rejoice and exult, because your reward is great in the heavens; for so persecuted they the prophets who were before you.”—Matt. 5:11, Roth.
3, 4. However, what is this a time for? and why that with confidence?
3 The thousands of good-will persons now receiving the light have not been accustomed to ill-treatment. Sometimes they question the advisability of continuing if such treatment is to be meted out to them, for it is one thing to learn the good things of Jehovah’s holy Word and the marvelous blessings in the future through the new world, but an entirely different thing to meet up with the world’s disapproval, scorn, ridicule and persecution. Nevertheless, the displeasure of the Most High God will be made manifest if we shirk responsibilities because of fear. “The fear of man bringeth a snare; but whoso putteth his trust in Jehovah shall be safe. Many seek the ruler’s favor; but a man’s judgment cometh from Jehovah.” (Prov. 29:25, 26, Am. Stan. Ver.) A mighty work has to be performed before this old world is destroyed. No time is this for hesitation, timidity or fearfulness, but a time for going forward. This is a time for courageous action and marvelous expansion on the part of all true servants of God. The whole world and the invisible evil powers are exerting every effort to prevent this prosperity. Every expression of hatred is being and will be raised to create barriers, but such obstacles will not succeed. “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn.” (Isa. 54:17, Am. Stan. Ver.) Such promises are for the heritage of diligent, fearless servants of Jehovah God.
4 Today his mouthpieces have to speak God’s Word to rebellious Christendom, a stiff-necked generation, a hardhearted people, and no words must be diminished from the divine commands. No; but the whole counsel of God must be declared, even though Satan, the god of this evil world, will try to make us forget the truth and God’s instructions. Those who are overcome by the evil one or by his agents will incur the displeasure of Jehovah.
5. With what are we at enmity? Whose strength do we need? Why?
5 The fearless servants of God are at enmity with this world: “The friendship of the world is enmity to God. Whosoever, therefore, is minded to be a friend of the world an enemy of God doth constitute himself.” (Jas. 4:4, Roth.) This enmity is not for different political opinions, ideologies, religious views, or racial animosity. No, our enmity is far more embracing, for it is opposition to the whole world, visible and invisible. No individual, group or world organization could continue in such a state of alienation from this present evil world in its own strength. Human endurance can go only so far. No person of flesh and blood can stand against the whole world and serve with an unpopular, despised organization for very long, unless he obtains strength from the highest source, the Almighty Jehovah. In such service there are no praises from men, no plaudits, no thanks nor honors from the world, no monetary nor commercial gain. Indeed the more service rendered, the more zeal, energy and devotion put into the work, the greater the hatred and disesteem from those of this world. Therefore, is it not of vital importance to know how this much-needed strength and support may be obtained?
6. How may such needed strength and support be obtained?
6 His Word abounds with assurances: “Come now! Do you not understand, have you not heard, that the Eternal is an everlasting God, the maker of the world from end to end? He never faints, never is weary, his insight is unsearchable; into the weary he puts power, and adds new strength to the weak. Young men may faint and weary, the strong youths may give way, but those who wait for the Eternal shall renew their strength, they put out wings like eagles, they run and never weary, they walk and never faint.” (Isa. 40:28-31, Moff.) The apostle Paul comforted us with these words: “In conclusion, strengthen yourselves in the Lord and in the power which His supreme might imparts.” (Eph. 6:10, Weymouth) An American Translation expresses it, “You must grow strong through union with the Lord.” Stress is laid on the words “must grow strong”. Quite evidently, then, the power of God will not just fall on us like a coat, equipping us to do mighty works, but rather something has to be done by each individual to strengthen himself in the Lord. Much time in study has to be spent that one may learn the source of strength, who has already obtained it, and how he did so. Every Christian surely wants to be a valiant warrior of the Lord, do his holy work without fear and withstand the fiery darts of the wicked one, having complete confidence in Jehovah and in his glorious King-Son Christ Jesus.
CAUSES FOR FEAR; HOW TO BE MET
7. What are some of the causes of fear?
7 What are some of the causes for fear? Probably all will concede that fear is the expression of selfishness. Where there is complete unselfishness there is love. “There is no fear in love: but perfect love casteth out fear, because fear hath punishment; and he that feareth is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18, Am. Stan. Ver.) This slavish fear certainly would be absent if all selfishness were eliminated. However, is it not true that when we are requested to perform some special service for Jehovah, which may be in direct opposition to this world, may in fact even be a message against it, thoughts like these enter the mind: Can I do this work? Will I fail? What will be the result? What will the people think and say? Is there possibility of hurt or danger to me or to my family? Will it be mental or physical? Can the pain be endured? Many doubts come upon the fearful. Hesitation sets in and the fear of man takes hold. Immediately excuses come to mind; perhaps there is something more important to do, something demanding attention has been forgotten, or maybe one’s health is not so good. Timid and fearful ones are satisfied they have good reasons for not going forward with the work in hand. “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
8, 9. What assurances have we to fortify us against such fears?
8 Is it really possible for a creature to build up his courage so there would not be all these fears? Can he be fortified against all these fleshly limitations and weaknesses? The answer in the affirmative is supplied from Jehovah’s Word. “And my God shall supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:19, Am. Stan. Ver.) The Most High assures us: “Fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.” And again, “Jehovah of hosts, him shall ye sanctify; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.” (Isa. 41:10 and Isa 8:13, Am. Stan. Ver.) He who knows so well the weakness of human flesh commands us not to fear.
9 Then how can we depend on him? Is it possible to stake one’s life on the promise of Jehovah? The Scriptures supply the answer: “All such words were written of old for our instruction, that by remaining stedfast and drawing encouragement from the scriptures we may cherish hope.” (Rom. 15:4, Moff.) There is no need to fear that our hope will be in vain or that we shall be disappointed, for the apostle says: “Tribulation worketh stedfastness; and stedfastness, approvedness; and approvedness, hope: and hope putteth not to shame; because the love of God hath been shed abroad in our hearts.” Rom. 5:3-5, Am. Stan. Ver.
10. Therefore from what study must we draw strength, and why?
10 Our strength must therefore be drawn from a study of the Scriptures, for here we learn who is the source of strength. Did not the Almighty make strength? He created it. The more we learn of Jehovah, and how he supplies his power, the better enabled we shall be to become recipients of it. To know Jehovah is to trust him. Our Lord Jesus is the perfect example of complete confidence, knowing no fear of man, of the world, or of the Devil. The truth gives freedom of mind, of speech and of self. “Jesus therefore said to those Jews that had believed him, If ye abide in my word, then are ye truly my disciples; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”—John 8:31, 32, Am. Stan. Ver.
11. How must truth be received, and why?
11 Truth must be received in meekness. “Wherefore putting away all filthiness and overflowing of wickedness, receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.” (Jas. 1:21, Am. Stan. Ver.) The Lord Jesus was meek. Likewise “the man Moses was very meek, above all the men that were upon the face of the earth”. (Num. 12:3, Am. Stan. Ver.) Meekness and fear of the Lord are essential qualities of the Christian, and Jehovah has graciously provided for our private and collective study so that we may attain growth in these qualifications. By meekness will instruction come, and the faithful disciple will always be found waiting on the Lord and seeking His will. Then at all times the conscience will be void of offense toward the Lord when supplicating him for help and strength to do his work. Lack of meekness will often result in one’s going ahead and trying to accomplish something in his own strength.
12, 13. How can we encourage and aid one another in the faith?
12 By our associating for fellowship, study and service, we are able to encourage and aid each other in the faith. “Then they that feared the Lord spoke every one with his neighbour: and the Lord gave ear, and heard it: and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that fear the Lord, and think on his name. And they shall be my special possession, saith the Lord of hosts, in the day that I do judgment: and I will spare them, as a man spareth his son that serveth him.” (Mal. 3:16, 17, Douay) Speaking every one with his neighbor cannot be accomplished by remaining at home or by only reading the Scriptures. To accomplish this it must of necessity mean meeting one with another and discussing the Lord’s Word and those works which pertain to the honor of his holy name. It means talking to one’s neighbors, and telling them the truth. With such actions the Lord is so well pleased that he commanded a record to be made: “But meanwhile those who worshipped the Eternal talked to each other, and the Eternal heeded them and heard them; before him lies a record of his worshippers who adhere to him. ‘And I will claim them,’ the Lord of hosts declares, ‘as my own prized possession, on the day when I take action; I will spare them, as a man spares the son who works in his service.’”—Mal. 3:16, 17, Moff.
13 Then the apostle Paul declared: “By observing one another, let us arouse ourselves to rival one another’s love and good deeds. Let us not neglect meeting together as some do, but let us encourage one another, all the more as you can see that the great Day is coming nearer.” Jesus said, “For wherever two or three are gathered as my followers, I am there among them.” (Heb. 10:24, 25; Matt. 18:20, An Amer. Trans.) It is so that we can understand the good purposes of the great Jehovah, and grasp for ourselves an understanding of the righteous new world and its King, for there must be a personal acceptance and conviction of these truths. To have complete trust and implicit confidence we must make these truths our own, a part of ourselves, so to speak, and then we shall be able to obey the injunction, “Stand your ground, then, with the belt of truth around your waist.” The truth is truly our armor from God to enable us to withstand the onslaughts of the evil one and his demons in these last days.—Eph. 6:11-14, An Amer. Trans.