Confidently Facing the End
1, 2. Why cannot Jehovah’s witnesses be overlooked today, and what complaint is made against them, falsely?
INSTEAD of crawling into a hole like cave men in fear of the world’s end, the witnesses of Jehovah have come right out into the open and are most outstanding among the people of all nations. Everywhere because of their fearless witness the men of this system of things are unable to overlook and ignore their activity. Irritated by this activity, they complain that Jehovah’s witnesses are active, all right, but they withdraw their active support from the systems of this world, and have no encouraging word of hope to say for them. On this account they complain that Jehovah’s witnesses hate mankind.
2 That is a silly conclusion. It is identical with the charge that people of the Roman Empire made against Christians of the first century for refusing to take part in the political, social, recreational and military affairs of this world.
3. Why do they withdraw support from this world, and like whom?
3 Scripturally, Jehovah’s witnesses are the only ones working for the lasting welfare of mankind on a permanent basis. Why should we support a wicked failure that is threatened now with early collapse? God’s infallible Word, the books of which were completed in the first century, predicted that this world would be a disastrous failure. The present-day results of many centuries of operation prove that this world is a hopeless failure, so vindicating God’s Word upon this subject. We today have as much good judgment and common sense as the man Noah did in a former world. Where, we ask, would this race of humanity be today if it had not been for this one man Noah, if he and his family had not withdrawn their support from the antediluvian world and prepared for its end by building a great chest or ark for man and beast to survive in? To this day science has never been able to disprove the global flood of Noah’s day, and it cannot explain how mankind came through that cataclysm alive. Only the Bible can explain it satisfactorily, and archaeological findings and widespread legends which show a common origin bear it out.
4. What was to be a means of escape from the Flood—Eden or what?
4 Years after man was expelled from the garden of Eden for rebelling against God’s law, Adam’s first son Cain built a city and called it after the name of his son Enoch. (Gen. 3:1 to 4:17) But in the flood of Noah’s day that city and other antediluvian cities (the remains of which have recently been uncovered) passed out of existence, and so did the unoccupied garden of Eden. When Jehovah God warned Noah of the end that faced the world by the global flood, he did not tell Noah and his family to go into the garden of Eden for safety during the Flood. God did not reverse himself and reopen Paradise then, even to these godly descendants from Adam. By God’s decree the garden of Eden was forbidden territory to man then. Its entrance was guarded by glorious cherubim and by the revolving sword of fire. It was no “refuge farm” for even God’s servants. So when the Flood came, it overswept Eden also, and the paradise garden ceased to exist without leaving a trace by which its location can be identified today. Noah and his family were not told to become cave people for their safety. Neither was Noah told to build an interplanetary rocket ship to get away from the earth and to populate some heavenly body. No; but he must stay on earth. Therefore God, knowing that even the garden of Eden would not be a haven of refuge, instructed Noah to build an ark and gave him its dimensions and features. There was not to be any return of man to the paradise of Eden yet.
5. What is the only way of walking to be optimistic about now? Why?
5 Before the flood Noah and his family went in a course different from that of the world. The record at Genesis 6:9 says: “Noah walked with God.” Let the people who exist on earth today thank him for that, for they are one and all the descendants of Noah. Let those persons who are informed on the world’s end and who are wise imitate their ancient forefather. Like him let them withdraw support from this doomed world and walk with God. It is the only way of walking about which to be optimistic, for it leads to surviving this world’s end as it did in Noah’s day.
6. Unlike Christendom, for what are we working, and why will God back us up?
6 The politicians, the military heroes, the scientists, the commercial leaders and the sectarian clergy are working for failure when they work for this world. We, who take God’s word as Noah did, are working for success. Christendom is a failure, but not Christianity which she has failed to apply. Christendom’s theology has failed, but not the Bible. We take the Bible as our guide and strive to follow the Christianity it teaches. It is therefore up to us to prove to mankind that the Bible and Christianity have not failed but are alive today and powerful for leading men to real success, to life in perpetual happiness in a safe and sane new world. Almighty God also is interested in proving that his Word the Bible and the faithful imitating of his Son Jesus Christ have not failed and will not fail. So if we are sincerely dedicated to him and his service according to his good purposes, he will back us up in our endeavors to vindicate him and his Word.
7. How does Peter show we should not mind being thought queer?
7 Do not mind being thought queer. The apostle Peter, whose words we use as the subject of our discussion, says that sincere Christians back there in apostolic times were looked on as funny. Yes, and they were talked against, because they simply would not join in with the world then dominated by the Roman Empire. Here are Peter’s own written words: “Therefore since Christ suffered in the flesh, you, too, arm yourselves with the same mental disposition, because the person that has suffered in the flesh has desisted from sins, to the end that he may live the remainder of his time in the flesh, no more for the desires of men, but for God’s will. For the time that has passed by is sufficient for you to have worked out the will of the nations when you proceeded in deeds of loose conduct, lusts, excesses with wine, revelries, drinking matches, and idolatries that are without legal restraint. Because you do not continue running with them in this course to the same low sink of debauchery, they are puzzled and go on speaking abusively of you. But these people will render an account to the one ready to judge those living and those dead.”—1 Pet. 4:1-5, NW.
8. How did Jesus say we should feel about it, and how does Noah’s outcome agree with that?
8 This being thought eccentric and queer by this world is nothing over which to feel embarrassed. This being talked about with scorn and reproach is nothing over which to feel bad or to feel condemned. It is something over which to feel grateful to God, because we have the privilege of suffering reproach with Him and his Son. As his Son Jesus said: “Happy are you when people reproach you and persecute you and lyingly say every kind of wicked thing against you for my sake. Rejoice and leap for joy, since your reward is great in the heavens; for in that way they persecuted the prophets prior to you.” (Matt. 5:11, 12, NW) We can imagine the way the people must have talked about the prophet Noah and his family for not indulging in the violence, the fleshly corruption, and the evil imaginations, schemes and hypocritical religion of that final century before the Flood. It was because Noah’s course condemned the world. But their evilspeaking and condemning of Noah and his household did not prove these in the wrong, for these survived the flood, but the evilspeakers were flooded out of existence.
WHERE JUDGMENT STRIKES FIRST
9. As being what did Peter address the Christians, and why was a long time till the world’s end no excuse for worldliness?
9 The apostle Peter addressed the Christians to whom he wrote, not as fixtures or parts of this temporary world, but as “temporary residents scattered about”. (1 Pet. 1:1, NW) Informed Christians are temporary residents in this world because they know that it is doomed to pass away. Therefore they do not try to settle down in this world and become an integral part of it and share thus in its sins and become condemned with it and share in its destruction. That was the way those Christians of Peter’s time felt about it. They were looking for this world to pass away. For this reason they abstained from it and kept themselves without spot from it. Were they foolish in this respect? Can we judge them foolish, seeing as we do the world developments of today? Absolutely not. But, someone will say, the end of the world was then nineteen centuries off. Well, what of that? The big point is that they were not wrong about its going to end, and so they did not want to make themselves part of a condemned world. Even if they had known it was yet nineteen hundred years off, would they have said: “Well, this old world is going to last for nineteen centuries yet, and so, since it will not end in my day, I still have lots of chance to enjoy it, and I’ll do so until it comes near time for me to die. Then I’ll break off connections with this world and prepare for a death in harmony with God”? No; they knew that to be a friend of this world meant to be a foe of God, and that if anyone loves the world the love of the heavenly Father is not in him.
10. How did the early Christians set us a proper example, and in view of coming judgment what must we do now?
10 Those Christians saw things in their true light, and so they were able to judge whether things were truly valuable or worthless. They saw they had spent enough time in the past on the foolish, unprofitable vanities of this old world. They saw that an endless new world of righteousness was coming and they must henceforward prove themselves worthy of living in it, no matter how far off the establishment of it might be. In this way they were setting a proper example for us today. Like them we should not selfishly think we might as well enjoy the world as long as it stands and take a chance of turning to the standards of the new world just before we die or before this world passes out. Like them we must be wise and realize that we are making a record now for our judgment before God. In order for that judgment to be one which awards us eternal life in the new world, we must live and act accordingly from now on. Let us not fool ourselves. Our responsibility counts from now on. Only by withdrawing our love and support now from this world can we escape from being condemned and executed with it. Let us face the unjust criticism of the world for doing so.
11, 12. Why is this a more critical time than in Peter’s day as to judgment, and so why do we avoid continuing longer in sin?
11 It is time to be serious. Peter says: “For it is the appointed time for the judgment to start with the house of God. Now if it starts first with us, what will the complete end be of those who are not obedient to the good news of God?”—1 Pet. 4:17, NW.
12 Nineteen centuries ago, in Peter’s time, it was individual Christians who were on judgment, that is to say, making a record on which their future judgment was to be based. But today, in the “time of the end” of this world, not only individual Christians, but also entire religious systems which claim to be the “house of God” are on judgment. It is a more critical time. If judgment deals first with God’s house of which we claim to be a part, then we cannot escape the decisions of the divine Judge any more than Christendom can which claims to be the “house of God”. If we are not obediently living in harmony with the good news of God’s kingdom, what kind of judgment can we expect from God, who is the Judge “able to save and to destroy”? It is hard enough for a righteously inclined Christian to hold onto his integrity in this debased world in order to work out his salvation, and so how about those who offer no Christian resistance but yield to this world and its loose ways just for the pleasures of sin? Peter asks: “If the righteous man is being saved with difficulty, where will the ungodly man and the sinner make a showing?” Yes, where will they? They will find themselves more tightly enslaved by this world through their longer indulgence in sin and hence unable to make a desperate break for liberty at the last moment and to stage a successful comeback before divine judgment is executed.
13, 14. How can we suffer as murderers, thieves, evildoers and busybodies, and is such suffering with credit to us?
13 Peter’s advice, therefore, is given from the right and safe viewpoint when he says: “Let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a busybody in other people’s matters. But if he suffers as a Christian, let him not feel shame, but let him keep on glorifying God in this name.” (1 Pet. 4:15, 16, NW) Oh, you think, I would never have a fear of suffering as a murderer. Oh, no? Well, are you a brother-hater and do you act mean like one? This brings you no happiness but only suffering and hurt. So how are you suffering and how will God judge you? The way God says at 1 John 3:15: “Everyone who hates his brother is a manslayer, and you know that no manslayer has everlasting life remaining in him.”—NW.
14 Maybe you say you do not indulge in stealing other people’s material goods and so would never suffer for stealing. But are you stealing a fellow Christian’s good name by slander? Or, by your ambitions to shine and be worshiped by your brothers, are you stealing the worship and praise that belong to God, the same as the Serpent did in Eden? Are you always seeking the welfare of your brothers and of God’s lost and scattered “other sheep”, or are you selfishly, jealously or resentfully and unforgivingly seeking for the injury of your brothers? Are you curious and interesting yourself in other people’s matters more than is right and trying like a busybody to boss and regulate them rather than to manage your own affairs properly and stay by the work God has assigned you to do? Suffering for doing these things will not win you sympathy and approval with God. All such suffering is not Christlike, but shames you.
15. If we suffer as a Christian, how must we defeat the purpose of those making us suffer, and why?
15 If, though, you suffer as a Christian, for the sake of Christ’s name, then you have nothing to be ashamed of. The suffering Peter talked about above is something meant to make us quit indulging in those unrighteous things. When we suffer as a Christian, however, we must not yield to the purpose of the enemy. We must not quit glorifying God but we must show that those who bear the name Christian are loyal to God and unbreakably committed to serving and praising him. “So, then, also,” says Peter, “let those who are suffering in harmony with the will of God keep on commending their souls to a faithful Creator while they are doing good.” (1 Pet. 4:19, NW) Your suffering as a faithful Christian is no mark of God’s disapproval but is in harmony with his will. It is part of the cup that the heavenly Father has poured for his children and that they must drink.
16. While doing good, why can we commend our souls to God, and what does this mean for us?
16 Not feeling condemned by God, the suffering Christians can have confidence that he will not shove them away but that they can commend their souls to him for safekeeping. He is the Creator of all souls. If he judges you worth saving to eternal life in the new world, he can re-create you as a soul in the resurrection from the dead. He can thus preserve your right to life as a soul for the new world. He does not forget your record of faithful service to him, and he will never deny you what it deserves. “For God is not unrighteous so as to forget your work and the love you showed for his name, in that you have ministered to the holy ones and continue ministering.” (Heb. 6:10, NW) Hence God protects your right to the promised life in the new world. All the while, then, that you are doing good, you can confidently commend your souls to him, knowing that they are in safe hands, and whatever men may do to you they cannot really harm the eternal interests of your souls. How wonderful it will be, when Armageddon strikes for the execution of divine judgment, to be found doing God’s will and with our souls fully commended to our faithful Creator! Only in that way may we expect to survive Armageddon.
17. Why are we confident the end of this world will come early?
17 We can, then, confidently face the early end of this world. We are sure of its ending, just as Noah was sure of the early ending of the ancient world of the ungodly, because Jehovah God had told him so. Yet there is someone to object and say: “Ah, but when Peter said, ‘The complete end of all things has drawn close,’ the end was nineteen hundred years away, and how can you be sure that the complete end is not another nineteen centuries away?” Well, Peter’s letter, because it was written about seven years before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 (A.D.), may have induced him somewhat to write that way, but today Christendom is the modern counterpart of unfaithful Jerusalem, and today Christendom is in even worse anguish than Jerusalem was before its end. Because we see fulfilled since 1914 all the features of the sign of the complete end which Jesus described for us in his prophecy, we have every confidence that Peter’s words now have their final and complete application. (Matt. 24:3-14) The complete end of all things of this world has drawn close, and the time remaining is most precious now.
18. How can we give proof of our early expectation, and why do we give such proof?
18 If this is our confidence, then we must prove we expect the complete end shortly. How can we? By the way we live and act. The proof of our early expectation we are determined to give, in order to show our faith in God and to inspire confidence in others and so induce them to right action.