Fixing Destinies in This Judgment Period
1. What has been the progress of the present judgment period?
WE unquestionably enter a judgment period upon the second presence of Christ. Judgment began at the house of God, cleansed the anointed remnant of Babylonish filth, released them from Babylonish bondage, enabled them to flee greater Babylon to escape sharing in her plagues. They were freed to preach, to herald the establishment of the heavenly kingdom, to sound a warning of the impending “accomplished end”: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for the purpose of a witness to all the nations, and then the accomplished end will come.” (Matt. 24:14, 21, 22; 1 Pet. 4:17, NW) This enlightenment brought responsibility and laid a foundation for judgment: “Now this is the basis for judgment, that the light has come into the world.” (John 3:19-21, NW) Hence the judgment that started at the house of God spread to take in all peoples of all nations, as Jesus had said it would at his second presence: “When the Son of man arrives in his glory and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will put the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.” The sheep who showed kindness to Christ’s brothers inherit new world blessings, but the goats who refused kindness to them go off “into the everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels”. Christ’s judgment is: “These will depart into everlasting cutting-off, but the righteous ones into everlasting life.” The goats remain in greater Babylon and share her plagues; the sheep belong to God and live by heeding the command: “Get out of her, my people.”—Matt. 25:31-46, NW.
2. What speculation is advanced, and on what grounds?
2 This judgment period will be completed during this generation, and when the execution of judgment starts at Armageddon the destinies of all persons then living will have been fixed. Some become perturbed over this, and speculate on the existence of a third class not separated into sheep and goat categories, and which will be resurrected in the millennium for its judgment period. Into this third class they would put all babes and children, and any adults not reached by the Kingdom message by the time Armageddon strikes. Such speculators can produce no solid Scriptural support for their theory. It seems to be spawned either by human sentiment over creature salvation or by a negative, defeatist attitude toward a successful completion of the preaching work. Or by both.
3, 4. Why is the theory of a third class unsound?
3 Jehovah’s Word states that the Kingdom message “will be preached in all the inhabited earth for the purpose of a witness to all the nations”. Will his word return void? his purpose unfulfilled? No; even the stones would cry out to prevent that! (Isa. 46:11; 55:11; Luke 19:40) To all nations, throughout the inhabited earth, the witness given will be sufficient to meet Jehovah’s purpose, and it will be completed before the “accomplished end” or Armageddon comes. This witness will provide the basis for the judgment wherein the people of all nations are separated into sheep and goat classes, by Christ Jesus. Will Christ the Judge do a halfway job? Will he fail to complete the job outlined for him, and have an unforetold third class left over that he failed to separate? Or will he complete the dividing work Jehovah committed to him, and separate the people of all nations into just the two foretold classes, and thereby accomplish the divine purpose and fulfill the divine word?
4 This judgment period from 1914 to Armageddon is set aside for this separation work and is a part of the sign that we are in “the time of the end”. Will Christ loiter at the separation work, so that he will have to finish it in a future judgment day, and fail to fully provide this part of the sign? Some argue that the parable of the sheep and goats applies on into the millennium. They ignore the fact that the separation is complete before the sheep inherit the new world blessings of the millennial reign, that this separation takes place when he arrives, not centuries thereafter. Nations exist; there will be no such divisions along national lines in the new world. The judgment work assigned to this period must be completed before execution starts at Armageddon. Judgment at the house of God was completed, not left half done; so will it be with the judgment of the nations during the same judgment period.
5. How do Ezekiel’s prophecy and Jesus’ words leave no room for a third class?
5 In harmony with the illustration of the sheep and goats, Ezekiel 9:4-6 (AT) shows but two classes, those marked for preservation and the unmarked ones appointed to destruction. And in this prophetic picture of Armageddon’s slaughter note that the executional forces do not spare individuals on the grounds of age or sex: “Slay without mercy or pity. Old men, young men and maidens, little children and women—strike them all dead! But touch no one on whom is the mark.” Note that in this picture the ones preserved are those who did “sigh and cry for all the abominations” done in the land in reproach of Jehovah’s true worship. In the parable of sheep and goats the ones preserved showed favor toward Christ’s brothers. In both cases the ones destroyed were those who remained indifferent or neutral as well as opposers. Christ Jesus, during the judgment period when he was on earth, laid down the principle for such times: “He that is not on my side is against me, and he that does not gather with me scatters.” (Matt. 12:30, NW) No room remains for a third class.
6. What principle operates for the classifying of small children?
6 Since Ezekiel 9:4-6 shows that some “little children” are in the class eternally destroyed at Armageddon, on what basis are they put in that class in view of the fact that they are too young to be held accountable for themselves? The Scriptures indicate a family responsibility or a family merit under which the destiny of unresponsible children is determined. Scriptural examples of this principle will help meek and teachable ones mold their minds to fit in with God’s view on this matter, will help them get God’s thoughts on it rather than stubbornly clinging to their own. Theirs are not only fallible but also immaterial, since Jehovah’s are the ones that fix the principles that determine the outcome of the matter.
7, 8. What Scriptural examples establish the principle?
7 When Dathan and Abiram rebelled against Jehovah’s theocratic arrangement in the wilderness the earth swallowed them up. But not them alone, for the record shows that along with them perished “their wives, and their sons, and their little children”. (Num. 16:23-33; Deut. 11:6) Did not Achan by his greed bring death not only to himself but to his sons and daughters as well, his entire household and possessions being destroyed with him? (Josh. 7:24-26) Did not David’s sin result in his offspring’s death? (2 Sam. 12:15-18) Ham’s trespass brought a curse upon his son Canaan. (Gen. 9:22-27) King Saul’s descendants suffered for his sins. (2 Sam. 21:1-9) Also, the Mosaic Law stated that the iniquities of the parents should be visited upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.
8 At a time of judgment Jesus said: “If, then, a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” (Matt. 15:14, NW) That means not only clergy and laity but also parent and child. If a parent chooses to sin against the holy spirit despite the eternal interests of his offspring, that then becomes the responsibility of the parent. We have seen how the destructions at the time of the Flood and at the time of the fiery downpour on Sodom and Gomorrah were final. No small children were preserved in the ark; they must have been slain by Jehovah. Many babes and youngsters must have been in Sodom and Gomorrah, but their youthful innocence did not cause Jehovah to count them righteous. The presence of ten righteous ones would have saved the cities. There were certainly more than ten unresponsible children. Along with their unrighteous parents they were slain by Jehovah.—Gen. 18:20-33; 19:1-26.
9. How does this principle work for the salvation of children?
9 This principle of family responsibility also works in reverse, in what we might call family merit. Israelite firstborns were spared in the tenth plague because the family heads obeyed Jehovah’s command to spatter the Passover lamb’s blood on the doorposts. (Ex. 12:7, 13) Mephibosheth was spared because he was the son of Jonathan. (2 Sam. 21:7) Rahab’s wise course resulted in the preservation of her family. (Josh. 2:12-14) It was partly out of regard for Abraham that his nephew Lot was favored, and the angels that visited Sodom were, for Lot’s sake, going to allow him to take his relatives to safety with him. Their refusal and subsequent destruction shows that there must be co-operation with the family head if family merit is to be realized. (Gen. 19:12-14, 29) Of special interest to parents in these last days are Paul’s words: “The unbelieving husband is sanctified in relation to his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified in relation to the brother; otherwise, your children would really be unclean, but now they are holy.” (1 Cor. 7:14, NW) “Jehovah knows those who belong to him,” and that also means little children at Armageddon whose parents belong to Jehovah and who try to rear them according to God’s Word.—Deut. 6:6, 7; Eph. 6:4; 2 Tim. 2:19, NW.
10. Why is proper parental training of children so vital?
10 These facts should make those of Jehovah’s witnesses who are parents soberly reflect on the theocratic training they now give their children. Parents are commanded to instruct their children in God’s ways, and if in these last days parents fail to heed the divine instructions they may bring destruction not only upon themselves but upon their small children at Armageddon. And if these small children become grown and responsible on their own before Armageddon strikes, the parental training may determine whether they choose the course of life or death. (Prov. 22:6) There comes a time when the maturing children shoulder the responsibility for themselves, having reached an age of accountability and responsibly choosing the course they will follow. They then come out from under family responsibility or merit and under the principle of personal responsibility: “The person who sins shall die. A son is not to suffer for his father’s iniquity, nor a father for his son’s iniquity; the good man shall be credited with his own goodness, and the wicked man with his own wickedness.”—Ezek. 18:20, Mo.
11. Why is Ezekiel 18:20 inapplicable to children? What does it show?
11 Some will argue that this text disproves the belief that small children will perish with their wicked parents at the end of judgment periods. But this text is not applicable to youngsters. The setting clearly shows that the son being discussed is grown, and not a small child. The preceding verses say that if a man is doing what is lawful and right he will live. If he begets a son that is violent, sexually depraved, oppressive of the poor and needy, a robber and an idolater, that wicked son will die for his iniquity. If the son shuns all these sins and does right, helps the poor, commits no crime, keeps God’s law, that son will live, whether his father be good or wicked. Each is on his own, being of the age of personal responsibility. Then all this is summed up in Eze 18 verse 20, above quoted. The verses that follow show that if the wicked son or father forsakes his evildoing and does right he will live, and that if the good son or father turns evil he dies for it. Now, what infant or small child could commit the sexual depravities or crimes or religious idolatries mentioned, or do the good works cited, or be able to weigh his course of action and decide to change it? The setting rules out any application of Ezekiel 18:20 to small children. So when of necessity young children come in for classification during a judgment period it is done on the basis of parental responsibility, and not personal responsibility.
12. Why does the text link father and son the way it does?
12 Ezekiel 18:20 links father and son the way it does because in those olden days fully grown sons often remained in their father’s household and under his headship; and this sometimes even after they were married. As long as they remained in their father’s household they acknowledged his headship, but they did not stand or fall in God’s sight on the basis of their father’s conduct, in the way they once did when small. Though still in his household, they were accountable for themselves. They chose their own course relative to right and wrong. Recall that in the wilderness rebellion the offspring of Dathan and Abiram perished with their fathers, but that the sons of Korah did not die with him. (Num. 26:9-11) Apparently Korah’s sons had reached the age of responsibility and did not follow their father in rebellion.
13. What examples establish the principle of community responsibility?
13 In view of the eternalness of the destruction of those slain by Jehovah at Armageddon, some will ask about those who may not personally hear the message, especially in some lands that prohibit the witness work. In addition to family responsibility the Bible shows a communal or community responsibility, where a community upholds or goes along with rulers that persecute Jehovah’s people or are otherwise wicked. Did not the Egyptians suffer plagues because of Pharaoh’s hardness? (Ex. 5:1, 2; 9:13-16) Did not the Amalekites suffer for generations afterward because of Amalek’s opposition to Israel in the wilderness? (Ex. 17:8, 14, 16) King Saul brought trouble on Israel years after his death. (2 Sam. 21:1) David’s sins brought punishment upon the people. (2 Sam. 12:10-23; 24:10-17) Some relate some of this to ruler punishment rather than community responsibility, but it does show how the sins of one can affect many. It was unquestionably community responsibility when Achan trespassed and brought a military defeat on Israel. (Josh. 7:5, 13-21) Wicked men brought destruction upon the entire city of Gibeah, and those who supported Gibeah or merely refrained from helping punish her suffered with her. (Judg. 19:22-30; 20:40; 21:9, 10) Because King Jehoram of Judah deflected from God the nation went wrong and was punished. (2 Chron. 21:11-15) If idolatry started in a city in Israel and corrupted the inhabitants the city was destroyed. And other examples could be given. (Gen. 12:17; 20:9, 17; 26:10; Deut. 13:12-18) Matthew 10:14, 15, 23 shows households or cities that are unreceptive to the message will find judgment day unendurable. The principle applies on a national scale also.
14. Why can peoples of nations not complain if God operates on the principle of community responsibility?
14 The people must accept responsibility for the nation’s acts. If the government becomes too oppressive against them they oust it, by either ballots or bullets. But wickedness against God they placidly tolerate. To them personal convenience and liberty are more precious than godliness. They revolt from harsh rulers, but support godless ones. They lack the burning love for righteousness and the devouring hate for wickedness that would consume the corruption and immorality now rampant in all human governments. Rulers and ruled wallow in the trough of an international moral breakdown. (2 Tim. 3:1-5) Nations operate according to the principle of community responsibility. Rulers may start wars, but the people fight them. It is upon the people generally, young and old, male and female, that the enemy nation rains destruction, and not upon the wicked rulers. The nations in their wars sow death on the basis of community responsibility. Will it not be just for them to reap it on the same basis at Armageddon? Can they rightly complain if they reap as they sow, are judged as they judged, are shown the same mercy they showed? If the people either actively or passively support what is corrupt and immoral and murderous, do they not bear some responsibility therefor?—Matt. 5:7; 7:1, 2; Gal. 6:7; Jas. 2:13.
15. Why must the people accept responsibility for their rulers’ acts?
15 When the Israelites wanted a human king they were warned of the oppressions it would bring upon them. (1 Sam. 8:4-22) But they insisted on having human government, and rightly bore responsibility for the evil-doing of the human king, since they were responsible for his being put in a position where his flagrant sins were possible on a national scale. Today people vote into office politicians known to be corrupt, and thus empower them to capitalize on evil-doing. That the people must bear the responsibility before God is shown not only in Israel’s case above mentioned but by Paul’s counsel to Timothy about appointments in the Christian congregation: “Never lay your hands hastily upon any man; neither be a sharer in the sins of others; preserve yourself pure.” In addition to being warned against hasty appointments, Timothy was told what qualities to require of appointees to service positions. (1 Tim. 3:1-13; 5:22; 2 John 10, 11, NW) Why all this precaution? So that he might avoid being “a sharer in the sins of others”. If he made improper appointments he would become responsible for the sins of such appointees, since he put them in position to commit their sins that hurt the congregation in God’s sight. So the people who either vote wicked rulers into office or allow them to remain in power must accept responsibility for such rulers’ official acts and sins against God and man.
16. What is lacking in the majority of people today?
16 Actually, the majority of the people today lack a love for right and hate for wrong. They know the world is corrupt to the core. Yet they are apparently satisfied with it. At least they stick with it, and scoff when Jehovah’s witnesses expose it. They seem to “love to have it so”. (Jer. 5:31; 6:13) The corruption around them gives license to their own lusts, deadens any feeble protests of anemic consciences, scuttles any remaining scruples. They fear only punishment, not evil-doing: “Because the sentence upon an evil deed is not quickly executed, therefore the minds of the sons of men are fully determined to do evil.” (Eccl. 8:11, AT) They do not zealously “seek righteousness”, nor do they “sigh and cry” because of any offended sense of righteousness, but only when wrongs curb or halt their pursuit of selfish ends. (Ezek. 9:4; Zeph. 2:3) They are repelled by Jehovah’s message because it demands a separation from this corrupt, immoral, pleasure-mad world.
17. Who are they unlike? What will honest ones do even without a specific message from God?
17 They are not like Noah was, for he was repelled by his fellow man whose “whole bent of his thinking was never anything but evil”. They are not like Lot was, for “that righteous man by what he saw and heard while dwelling among them from day to day was tormenting his righteous soul by reason of their lawless deeds”. They are not like those who are marked for preservation at Armageddon, who “sigh and cry for all the abominations that are done”. They are not like men of good will toward God today who gladly separate from the world because they have nothing in common with its corruption. (Gen. 6:5; Ezek. 9:4, AT; Jas. 1:27; 4:4; 2 Pet. 2:8, NW) They do not have to hear a specific message from God to be repelled by this world’s wickedness; not if they love right and hate wrong. Even without God’s Word men by nature and by conscience can note right and wrong. (Rom. 2:12-16) Those with honest hearts will sicken of this world, and more so as we advance toward Armageddon, for right up to that time “wicked men and impostors will advance from bad to worse, misleading and being misled”.—2 Tim. 3:13, NW.
18. How do some argue concerning ignorance, and why wrongly so?
18 Some argue that ignorance is an excuse that will gain a resurrection for many of Armageddon’s slain, such as those perishing because of community responsibility. They will cite Paul’s case. That former persecutor said: “I was shown mercy, because I was ignorant and acted with a lack of faith.” But he was shown this mercy during a judgment period, and did not spurn it. He used it to eliminate his ignorance and build up his faith. This show of mercy was also for another reason, to demonstrate divine long-suffering. (1 Tim. 1:12-16, NW) So to say Paul was saved because of his ignorance is wrong. Because he acted in ignorance repentance was possible for him, he had not unforgivably sinned against knowledge or the manifestation of the holy spirit. The world is full of Bibles, in more than 1,125 languages, and a glance at its pages is sufficient to convict the world’s conduct. But the masses of people remain ignorant “according to their wish”. (2 Pet. 3:5, NW) In some past times ignorance was overlooked by God, but it is not so during a judgment period, whether it be the one in Noah’s day, or Lot’s day, or Jesus’ day, or our day, or during the millennium. That is the point Paul was making when he said: “True, God has overlooked the times of such ignorance, yet now he is telling mankind that they should all everywhere repent.” Why? “Because he has set a day in which he purposes to judge the inhabited earth.” (Acts 17:30, 31, NW) As previously stated, that day for most men will be the millennial reign; but others have had or are having their judgment period earlier. Such periods are no time for ignorance, but for repentance.
WHY WE WITNESS NOW
19. Why is the view that ignorance will excuse many of Armageddon’s slain not conducive to zealous witnessing now?
19 If ignorance during this present judgment period is an excuse and is going to mean a resurrection for ignorant ones in the millennial reign, would it not be advantageous to let all remain ignorant now? If all those not personally preached to now and who are slain by Jehovah at Armageddon are going to return in the resurrection of mankind, why preach now at all? Even those who oppose the view that all Armageddon’s slain are forever dead will admit that those hearing but not accepting the witness now will perish eternally at Armageddon. Just for the sake of reasoning together, adopt their view for a moment. We preach to one thousand persons now, and perhaps one accepts the truth, while all the others reject it and die forever at Armageddon. But if we refrained from preaching to this one thousand, all would die at Armageddon but all would return in a resurrection, not having heard the message. Surely when they returned in that new world far advanced toward perfect paradise, with no corrupting humans around and demonic influence gone, so our opposers would incline to think and say, many more than one of that thousand would conform to new world requirements. Maybe only one would refuse. So why preach now and save one out of a thousand? Why not be silent now and save 999 out of a thousand?
20, 21. (a) Why would that course be folly? (b) How do John 5:28, 29 and Jeremiah 25:33 confirm the view that Armageddon’s slain remain dead?
20 That, of course, would be folly. It would mean eternal destruction for the witness who remained silent. It means the stones would cry out the warning, if the watchman class failed to do so. (Ezek. 33:7-9; Luke 19:40) The gospel-preaching is going to be done earth-wide, for Jehovah says so. And whether it is done on the basis of personal or family or community responsibility, the peoples of all nations are going to be separated into “sheep” and “goat” classes, for Jehovah says so. Those whom he slays at Armageddon will remain forever dead, for his prophetic pictures made at the time of the Flood and at the time of Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction say so, along with the parable of the sheep and goats. This view is corroborated by John 5:28, 29 (NW): “The hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out.”
21 Note that John 5:28, 29 limits resurrections to those “in the memorial tombs”. This means that only those whose existence Jehovah retains in his memory will be resurrected, which remembrance is indicated or symbolized by the expression “memorial tombs”. That is why criminals considered unworthy of a resurrection were unceremoniously tossed into the Valley of Hinnom, or Gehenna, where their bodies were consumed, unlamented, unburied, without any tomb to remind of or memorialize their former existence. So those not “in the memorial tombs”, or not thus symbolized as being in God’s memory, will not be remembered at resurrection time. What this means to us today is that those now living in this time of judgment and who fail for one reason or another to take a stand for Jehovah, and are therefore slain by him at the battle of Armageddon, will not be retained in his memory for a resurrection. That this group will include the majority of humans now living on earth is shown by Jeremiah 25:33: “The slain of the LORD shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the ground.” These vast numbers slain by Jehovah and likened to dung strewn over the earth could hardly be considered as being “in the memorial tombs” for Christ to remember and call forth during the Millennium. He does not remember dung.
22. What baptism awaits this world?
22 At Armageddon Jehovah will baptize this world with destructive fire: “The heavens and the earth that are now are stored up for fire and are being reserved to the day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men. . . . Jehovah’s day will come as a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a hissing noise, but the elements being intensely hot will be dissolved, and earth and the works in it will be discovered. . . . the heavens being on fire will be dissolved and the elements being intensely hot will melt.” (2 Pet. 3:3-13, NW) Notice that this period of last days climaxed by Armageddon is called a “day of judgment and of destruction”, after which comes the promised new world of righteousness, the millennial reign.
23. What other fire baptisms does the Bible mention?
23 This baptism of fire was foreshadowed by an ancient one, when upon “Sodom it rained fire and sulphur from heaven and destroyed them all”. Later Jehovah “burned up Jacob like a flaming fire” and “poured out his wrath like fire” and “kindled a fire in Zion”, when in 607 B.C. he used Nebuchadnezzar to immerse Jerusalem and Judah in a fiery baptism because of their gross sins. (Lam. 2:3, 4; 4:11, AS) When Christ came to earth John the Baptist spoke of the nearness of a baptism of fire upon the nation of unbelieving natural Jews, when they would be as a tree “cut down and thrown into the fire” and as “chaff he [Christ] will burn [them] up with fire that cannot be put out [by man]”. (Matt. 3:10-12, NW) This baptism of fire came A.D. 70, when Rome’s imperial legions destroyed Jerusalem and killed 1,100,000 Jews and took 97,000 into captivity. A final baptism of fire will come upon those siding with Satan at the end of the thousand-year reign: “Fire came down out of heaven and devoured them.” (Rev. 20:9, NW) Like other fiery baptisms, this one comes at the end of a judgment period, a thousand-year one. There is certainly no resurrection from that baptism of fire, for it is tied in with second death, the lake of fire and sulphur. So fire is unquestionably the symbol for destruction that is final, whether used in connection with Armageddon or with the end of the millennial reign.
24. What points should disturbed ones remember?
24 Those who are disturbed by this view of matters should remember several points. First, if Jehovah destroyed everyone there would be no injustice involved, since none has any inherent right to life. Second, the witness work will be done to the extent he deems necessary for separating all peoples and he will make no mistake. Did he not know before Noah ever preached or built that no others would join Noah and his household in the ark? Did he not know before Lot preached or angels performed miracles in Sodom that there were not even ten righteous ones there? Long before we can determine the bent of man’s mind toward sheeplikeness or goatlikeness Jehovah and Christ can judge and divide without making mistakes. And they are the Judges, not we. Third, the division is not completed yet, the judgment period not over. It is not the unfinished division now existing that counts, but the finished one that obtains at Armageddon’s start. Though we are in a judgment period, we need not view as finally destroyed all who die from various causes prior to the execution of judgment at Armageddon. Some in the preflood world who died before the deluge may be resurrected; some Sodomites who died before fire and brimstone rained down may return; some Jews of Jesus and the apostles’ day not destroyed by the Roman executional forces may live again. But not those slain by the Lord in the Flood, or in the fiery rain on Sodom, or in the judgments executed A.D. 70, or during Armageddon. Some may die during Armageddon who are not slain by Jehovah, such as some of his people whose physical organisms may not be able to endure the ordeal; but the vast majority will be “the slain of the LORD” who litter the earth like dung. They remain dead forever.
25. What do Bible prophecies indicate lies ahead?
25 Also remember that Bible prophecies indicate that men and nations will intensify their assaults against Jehovah’s people and the work they are doing. Ezekiel chapters 38 and 39 speak of demon-inspired forces coming against Jehovah’s restored theocratic organization: “You shall advance like a storm, you shall come like a cloud covering the land, you and all your hordes, and many a people with you. . . . It shall come to pass in the end of the days that I will bring you against my land, so that the nations may know me.” When this vicious assault occurs, Jehovah says: “My fury shall rise in my nostrils.” His indignation and fiery wrath is so awesome and terrible that every living thing will tremble, mountains topple down and cliffs tumble to the ground. Peoples are thrown into confused self-slaughter and Jehovah adds his destructive forces to annihilate this wicked world. (AT) Intense persecutions and conspiracies will doubtless come against Jehovah’s witnesses before Jehovah’s fury rises to the point of launching his Armageddon destruction.
26. How will a further and sharper division yet be effected, with what added responsibility upon the people?
26 What an unprecedented opportunity faithful endurance of all this by Jehovah’s witnesses will give for sheeplike ones to show favor and goatlike ones to manifest their indifference! Just as now many see our huge assemblies and marvel at the wonderful unity made possible by God’s spirit, so then they will see more than ever the unflinching integrity displayed by us with the help of Jehovah’s spirit. The preaching work yet to be done, the increases yet to come, the persecutions yet to be endured—all of this will be a further manifestation of Jehovah’s spirit working upon his people and will effect a further, sharper division of mankind before Armageddon strikes. It is not by our own power and might that we will work and increase and endure, but by God’s spirit. Those who fight Jehovah’s visible organization, upon which his spirit is manifest, sin against the holy spirit, unforgivably so. Those not participating in this opposition but condoning it or indifferent to it fit those the parable pictures as goats. Whether actively or passively or indifferently going along with the world in its assaults against Jehovah’s witnesses, individuals come under either personal or community responsibility therefor.—Zech. 4:6.
27. What should we now know?
27 So let all know that this time of judgment of the nations is not a mere dress rehearsal for a future and decisive second judgment to come, thereby making the destruction of individuals at Armageddon not count for eternity. Know that all living at Armageddon will be baptized, either with fire for destruction with the wicked or with salvation for life with the theocratic organization. Know that off-focus sentimentality for creature salvation will not alter God’s Word or sway him from his purpose. Know that those really concerned in a practical way for their fellow man will not waste time fretting over the eternalness of Armageddon’s destruction, but will zealously preach to save both themselves and others. (1 Tim. 4:16) In short, know that God meant what he said when he warned: “Get out of her, my people.”