Why the Bible Is Specially Practical for Our Day
1. Why do many opposers brand as impractical the present warning that we now live in the last days?
AT THE mention of Armageddon and the fact that we are living in the last days of this present system of things, many will rise up to scoff and say that that is the most impractical part of the entire Bible, to believe that God is going to fight a battle of Armageddon to destroy the wicked and usher in a perfect kingdom that will transform earth into a global paradise. Highly impractical and unreasonable, they say, is the declared message that we are living in the last days. They will proceed to cite the fact that the same claim was being made in their father’s day and in their grandfather’s day. That may be true. We know that many false warnings have been sounded. Just as today there are many clergymen who misinterpret the Scriptures and make them ridiculous and void, so in generations past there were some who did not understand the Bible prophecies concerning the last days and hence sounded premature warnings. The mere fact that there were false alarms in the past does not prove the present alarm sounded by Jehovah’s witnesses to be false. It is folly to judge a matter before you hear it.—Prov. 18:13.
2. What is “Armageddon”, and why warn of its coming?
2 The Scriptures show that Christ Jesus does not come in a flesh-and-blood form visible to man at the time of his second presence. (John 14:19; 1 Cor. 15:45) His kingdom is in heaven. He is enthroned there. But he turns his attention toward earth, to cause warning to be given prior to Armageddon, the battle of God Almighty, wherein the wicked will be wiped from the face of the earth as thoroughly as they were in Noah’s day. Armageddon is no fight between nations, but is Jehovah’s battle, fought through Christ and his angels, against Satan and his demons and their visible representatives on earth. (Rev. 16:14-16; 19:11-21; 20:1-3) Warning is given in advance so that honest persons who love righteousness, who are willing to use their minds, who are not blinded by the tinsel and glitter of this present civilization, may discern the approach of Armageddon and take the necessary steps for survival.
3. To what time is Armageddon likened, and what scriptures show the appropriateness of so doing?
3 In the Scriptures this battle of Armageddon is pictured as a time of winter. Christ Jesus, in speaking of it as the greatest tribulation ever to come upon the earth, likened it to the rigors of winter. (Matt. 24:20, 21) Marking it as a time when the wintry elements would be used to carry out Jehovah’s will of destruction, the psalmist states: “Praise the Eternal from the earth, ye depths of ocean and ye waterspouts, lightning and hail and snow and ice, storms carrying out his will.” (Ps. 148:7, 8, Mo) Corroborating this we read: “He bids the snow fall on the earth, also the heavy rains, that keep men within doors—to let all mortals feel his power; the beasts retire into their dens, and lurk inside their lairs. Storms blow out of the south, and cold comes from the north; the ice forms at his breath, and freezes the broad water hard; he loads a heavy cloud with hail, and from the clouds his lightning scatters, darting here and darting there, turning as he directs it, doing whatsoever he bids it over all his world. Have you ever entered the stores of the snow? Have you seen the arsenals of hail—which I have reserved against the time of distress, against the day of war and battle?” (Job 37:6-12; 38:22, Mo; Job 38:23, AT) These wintry elements will be used by Jehovah at Armageddon to fulfill his will in bringing destruction upon a wicked world.
WARNING OF WINTER’S APPROACH
4. What evidences warn of winter’s approach, and how does wildlife react for preservation?
4 Did you note the statement in the above quotation that during this time of wintry wrath the beasts retire into their dens and lurk in their lairs? In this way many beasts of earth yearly pass through the hard time of winter. Also consider that visible evidences indicate the approach of literal winter. The blue skies of summer give way to the gray bleak skies of late fall. Temperatures drop, winds swing round from the south and come out of the north, with a chill that touches the bones, bringing snow flurries with them. The sap of trees retreats underground, the stream of life slows, leaves fall, the days become very short. We reach the time on the calendar that shows it is the seasonal time for winter. From instinct the animals appreciate the meaning of these changes. Birds gather in flocks for southward flight. Some land and water animals and certain insects also migrate. Other insects store food, such as the honeybee that packs honey in hives during the favorable season of summer and retires within those shelters stocked with food to live out the winter. Many other animals prepare when they see the sign of winter’s approach, not by migrating or by storing up food in dens, but by changing their eating habits to store up fat in their own bodies and by thickening furry pelts to keep out the coming cold.
5. What has Jehovah provided them for guidance? What failure on their part would be highly impractical?
5 It would not be very practical for the animals and insects and birds to refuse to play their roles in preparation for the migration or seclusion or hibernation necessary for their survival of the rigors of winter. To ignore the sign of approaching winter would mean death. These animals and birds and insects are not of such intelligence to appreciate the sign of approaching winter, but Jehovah has provided them with instinct that moves them in ways of preparation for their self-preservation. It would be highly impractical, yes, suicidal for them to ignore or fail to obey the instinctive urgings to move them to make the various preparations peculiar to their kind.
6. Rather than instinct, what faculty has God given man? In line with this discussion, how should he use it?
6 Man can read the signs of the weather, can note his calendar to see that according to seasonal chronology winter approaches. He can see the changing face of the sky, the falling leaves, the shortening days, the dropping temperatures, the shifting winds, the snow flurries, the migrating birds and the animals fattening themselves for winter hibernation. Because of his intelligence he is able to understand that winter is at the door. Because of his intelligence man does not need to rely upon instinct, and he possesses no such instinct to guide him. Jesus referred to man’s ability to read the weather signs of the sky, then added by way of rebuke that many men were not able to read the sign of the times, the sign of his presence and the end of the world. By intelligence man is aware of literal winter’s approach. By that same intelligence he should be able to note the approach of the winter of Armageddon. (Matt. 16:1-4) Just as sure a sign of its coming is provided, a sign visible to man, to be reasoned upon intelligently and not to be sensed through some instinct or intuition or hunch. What, then, is this provided sign?
7. What happenings did Jesus say would partly signify the end of this system of things?
7 The disciples of Jesus asked the same question: “Tell us, When will these things be, and what will be the sign of your presence and of the consummation of the system of things?” In answer Jesus said that nation would rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom in world war, in the wake of which would come pestilences and food shortages and earthquakes in many places. His followers would be hated by all nations, persecuted, some killed, and even among his followers many would be stumbled and these would hate and betray those standing fast. Despite the opposition these faithful ones would endure to the end, preaching the good news of the established kingdom to all the inhabited earth for a witness before the end at Armageddon would come. During these happenings there would be “anguish of nations, not knowing the way out because of the roaring of the sea and its agitation, while men become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth”. The restless seas of humanity would dash and foam against themselves, and in a vain effort to still the stormy turmoil men would establish international ruling bodies and exalt them to the holy place reserved for Christ’s kingdom, claiming these political makeshifts would bring in the peace and prosperity that the Bible foretells will come only through the Kingdom. When this is seen, Jesus said, it is high time to flee to Jehovah’s place of refuge.—Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21, NW.
8. What takes place with regard to the people generally? the scoffers? the ultrarich?
8 Christ also declared that the preaching of the Kingdom gospel would separate the peoples of earth, dividing them as a shepherd does the sheep and goats, the sheeplike ones taking a stand for the Kingdom and gaining eternal life, the goatish ones that balk being herded into destruction at Armageddon. (Matt. 25:31-46) Other prophecies show other parts of the sign of Armageddon’s nearness. Peter spoke of the scoffers that would walk after their own lusts, sneer at the warning, and demand: “Where is this promised presence of his? Why, from the day our forefathers fell asleep in death, all things are continuing exactly as from creation’s beginning.” (2 Pet. 3:3, 4, NW) James foretold that there would be the ultrarich who would pile up their wealth for the last days, that they would greedily hold back the hire of laborers, but that none of this would avail them in the days of his wrath at Armageddon. (Jas. 5:1-6) Let 2 Timothy 3:1-5, 12, 13 (NW) round out the picture of conditions in the last days:
9 “Know this, that in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, self-assuming, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, without gratitude, with no loving-kindness, having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with self-esteem, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power; and from these turn away. In fact, all those desiring to live with godly devotion in association with Christ Jesus will also be persecuted. On the other hand, wicked men and impostors will advance from bad to worse, misleading and being misled.”
10. Are physical facts in fulfillment of these prophecies now observable? What may this generation expect to see?
10 The Bible prophecies show that during this time of unprecedented woe and the preaching work and the dividing of the people Christ would be reigning in the midst of his enemies, and at the climax of this time period Armageddon would strike. (Ps. 110:1, 2; Rev. 11:15-18, NW) Then concerning this series of visible happenings Jesus concluded: “Now learn from the fig tree as an illustration this point: Just as soon as its young branch grows tender and it puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. Likewise also you, when you see all these things, know that he is near at the doors. Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.” (Matt. 24:32-34, NW) Beginning in 1914, has not our generation seen world wars, famines, pestilences, earthquakes, persecution and murder of Jehovah’s witnesses, yet their worldwide preaching of the good news that Christ is enthroned in Kingdom power in the heavens? Do we not also see distress of nations, men faint with fear over what they see coming to pass, the worsening conditions of both adult and juvenile delinquency, the millions of lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God but who don a hypocritical form of godly devotion, and finally first a League of Nations and now a United Nations that seeks to rule the world, and which religious and political world leaders have lauded as the only hope for peace and as the “political expression of the kingdom of God on earth”? Moreover, these things started happening on time, for just as our calendar tells when winter is due so Bible chronology told us that these events were due to start A.D. 1914. The Watchtower has repeatedly published this date with proof of its Scripturalness, the first time being in 1880, thirty-four years in advance. Hence our generation is the generation that will see the start and finish of these things, including Armageddon.
THE COMPOSITE SIGN
11. What vital point must not be overlooked? How is it illustrated in the case of literal winters?
11 And here is a point not to be overlooked. All of these happenings combined constitute the sign. Each one is not a sign in itself. It is only a part of the composite sign. It is like the case of literal winters. The mere fact that days are getting shorter does not prove winter’s imminence. Days are growing shorter in July. Falling leaves alone prove nothing. Some trees shed leaves the year round, and others may drop theirs because of disease or drought. Even summer skies may turn gray for a time, and unseasonal storms blow up, or cold spells may come in early fall; but none of these taken alone proves the advent of winter. But when all of the previously mentioned conditions are present in combination, then together they indicate with certainty the approach of winter.
12. What accounts for the sounding of false warnings concerning the last days in the time of our fathers or grandfathers?
12 So it is with the events of the last days. When these events are told as indicating the last days, many persons say such things happened in times past, history repeats itself, our fathers said these things happened in their day and they were told that the last days were upon them. But we know now that they were not living in the last days. The point is, men misinterpreted the events. They failed to appreciate that not just one or two or a half dozen of these things must be seen, but that all of them must be seen. The sign is not wars, or famines, or pestilences, or earthquakes, or persecutions, or gospel-preaching, or conditions of fear and perplexity and delinquency. None of these events taken singly signify that we are in the last days. But when ALL of these happenings come to pass upon one generation, in the foretold series or sequence, with none missing, then ALL OF THESE THINGS TOGETHER CONSTITUTE THE SIGN.
13. What is imperative for us when we see the composite sign?
13 When we see this composite sign, it is time to heed Jesus’ warning to flee to God’s organization for safety during Armageddon. Delay would be fatal for us, and hence Jesus said with the wintertime of Armageddon in mind: “Keep praying that your flight may not occur in wintertime nor on the sabbath day; for then there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.” (Matt. 24:20, 21, NW) Too cold to flee in that wintertime and too late to work out salvation on that sabbath period. On that occasion it is Jehovah who will work through Christ at Armageddon, to vindicate His name. If we are to do the necessary working and fleeing in preparation for surviving Armageddon, we must discern the sign now, appreciate it now, find out Jehovah’s requirements for us now, and take the essential precautions now by obeying right now his counsel on how we can weather Armageddon’s storm.
14. How practical would it be for us to now ignore the composite sign?
14 How practical would it be for the birds to refuse to fly south at winter’s approach? Just as practical as it would be for us to ignore the sign of the nearness of Armageddon. How practical would it be for the honeybees to refuse to store honey in their hives for nourishment during winter? How practical would the woodchuck be that ignored the approach of winter and refused to heed the urgings of his instinct to make preparation? Or the bear that refused to change his eating habits to fatten himself and thicken his fur in order to survive a long winter sleep? Not practical at all, but so impractical that death would follow. For us to now ignore the composite sign of Armageddon’s approach would be just as fatal for us as it would be for the swallow to refuse to fly south, or the woodchuck to hibernate, or the honeybee to store food for winter. It would happen to us as stated at Jeremiah 8:20: “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.”
15. Why would it be fatal to delay flight to God’s organization until Armageddon started?
15 Now is the favorable season of harvest and summertime wherein we study God’s Word, preach the gospel, warn others, bring forth fruits of righteousness, and store up treasures in heaven that will assure us God’s protection during Armageddon. We may have to change our eating habits now, shifting to good spiritual food for our upbuilding and strengthening in Christian work. Now, before Armageddon starts, is the time for it. When wintry destruction sets in the favorable season for work will be gone, the harvest will be past, the summer will be over, and many will see that they are not saved. Like the bird or the bee or the bear that might wait for the first blizzard to be convinced of winter’s coming, these tardy persons will be caught unawares and be swept into destruction. When winter starts it is too late for animals to prepare for survival. So it will be for persons who wait for Armageddon’s start to begin flight.
MOST PRACTICAL NOW, BEFORE ARMAGEDDON
16. So why is the Bible practical, and specially so now?
16 With Armageddon scheduled for this generation, we can appreciate why the Bible is specially practical for our day. Not only does it withstand the reckless charges hurled at it by scientist and atheist; not only does it prove God true and men liars who would make it ridiculous and void; not only would the application of its righteous principles eliminate the majority of the woes that plague the social and economic and political and military spheres of this world; not only would its precepts applied to everyday human relations erase nervous tension and put pleasant companionship in its stead; not only for all these overwhelming reasons is the Bible so practical for us now, but primarily is it so because it will chart our course through the perilous storm of Armageddon’s winter and guide us through the portals of a new world more refreshing and lasting than any literal springtime could ever be.—Isa. 2:2-4; 11:6-9; Rev. 21:1, 4.
17. What scene will Armageddon’s survivors view? What blindness will we avoid?
17 If we accept and follow the Bible as our practical guide now, after Armageddon we will look over the destruction wrought by the unleashed wrath of Jehovah God. We will see the wreckage and ruin of this so-called diesel civilization, that was too proud and conceited and sophisticated to fit itself to what it considered a camel-train philosophy. Like dung upon the ground will lie the unburied bodies of those who would not heed God. Strewn over the earth, unlamented, says Jeremiah. (Jer 25:33) There will lie the corpses of those practical people, the hardheaded realists of this world, the smart ones who thought the Bible unscientific, the godless ones who thought the Bible contradictory, the religious philosophers who thought the Bible legendary, the narrow fanatics who made His Word ridiculous and void, and the masses of blind ones who followed these blind guides and who deemed the Bible impractical for life in the old world s atomic age. All are blinded by Satan the Devil, who is himself the great blind guide of this present wicked system of things. (Matt. 15:14; 23:16-26; 2 Cor. 4:4) We do not want to reap the fruits of such blindness. We do not wish to be as blind as such ones, till white looks black and black looks white, till what is practical looks impractical and what is impractical looks practical. Let this old world scoff and call us foolish and witless. It comes as no surprise, for this too was foretold:
18. What evaluation does God’s Word make of worldly wisdom and divine wisdom? of the worldly wise and Jehovah’s witnesses?
18 The speech about the torture stake is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is God’s power. For it is written: ‘I will make the wisdom of the wise men perish, and I will shove the intelligence of the intellectual aside.’ Where is the wise man? Where the scribe? Where the debater of this system of things? Did not God make the wisdom of the world foolish? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom did not get to know God, God saw good through the foolishness of what is preached to save those believing. For both the Jews ask for signs and the Greeks look for wisdom; but we preach Christ impaled, to the Jews a cause for falling but to the nations foolishness; however, to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because a foolish thing of God is wiser than men, and a weak thing of God is stronger than men. For you behold his calling of you, brothers, that not many wise in a fleshly way were called, not many powerful, not many noble; but God chose the foolish things of the world, that he might put the wise men to shame, and God chose the weak things of the world, that he might put the strong things to shame; and God chose the ignoble things of the world and the things looked down upon, the things that are not, that he might bring to nothing the things that are, in order that no flesh might boast in the sight of God. . . . If anyone among you thinks he is wise in this system of things, let him become a fool, that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God; for it is written: ‘He catches the wise in their own craftiness.’ And again: ‘Jehovah knows that the reasonings of the wise men are futile.’ Hence let no one be boasting in men.”—1 Cor. 1:18-29; 3:18-21, NW.
19. To what should we now set ourselves, and to what conclusion do we come concerning the Bible’s worth for our day?
19 There is wisdom in God’s Word for those wise enough to heed it, though in doing so they make themselves appear as fools in the sight of this old world. Also, the unmistakable sign of the last days and the approach of Armageddon’s destructive wintertime may now be discerned. Because this is as foolishness and is impractical to this world is no reason for us to view it so, and be so impractical as to die with the world. Do not allow your Bible to collect dust. Study it. Gain its wisdom. Appreciate its practicalness. Conform yourself to its principles, obey its commands, and have the divine protection it promises obedient ones. You will have the hope of surviving the winter of Armageddon that will catch unawares and freeze in the cold grip of the grave the majority of men. Do not ignore the sign of Armageddon’s approach, no more than do the animals ignore winter’s coming. Just as they heed the instinctive urgings planted in them by God to make preparation, so you act upon your God-given intelligence as you look around you and see the composite sign of the end of this present wicked system of things, and prepare to pass through it in accord with Jehovah’s provision. Enter into everlasting life in a new world free of sin and suffering, sorrow and death. That is the only practical course now, in the midst of this dying old world. And since the Bible is the only book that makes this course clear, the Bible is The Practical Book, specially so for our day.