Deliverance to a Righteous World
“God is unto us a God of deliverances; and unto Jehovah the Lord belongeth escape from death.”—Ps. 68:20, AS.
1. Fear induces what action on the part of men and nations, and with what result?
PERILOUS times, filled with anxiety and fear of the possible near end of civilization, prod men to seek alliances of strength. Not strange, this, for a great prophet of God predicted for the time of the end “anguish of nations, not knowing the way out . . . while men become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth”. (Luke 21:25, 26, NW) A guarantee of survival and deliverance against any eventuality is what men today seek. Fear of death, possibly premature death in atomic warfare between nations, binds the people in its iron grip and makes them slaves to systems and arrangements they hope will guarantee survival.—Heb. 2:15, NW.
2. What failure has produced disappointment? and with what measures do nations seek to compensate for this failure?
2 Fond hopes of welding the nations of the world into one happy family are rapidly fading into oblivion. The keystone arrangement for peaceably resolving differences has brought disappointment. The United Nations, which was to have provided a workable system for holding together the family of nations in unity and harmony, has thus far shown itself to be little more than a forum for debate and the sounding of national propagandas. (Isa. 8:9, 10) Having no trust in a manifestly weak U. N., the big powers have resorted once again to a build-up of military strength to ensure their continuance in a hostile world, even as the first world power of ancient Egypt assembled thousands of war horses and chariots to ensure its safety. Ignored is the Bible’s pronouncement of woe to those who resort to such measures for deliverance: “Woe to them that . . . rely on horses, and trust in chariots because they are many, and in horsemen because they are very strong.”—Isa. 31:1, AS.
3. Ignoring Jehovah’s counsel, what line of reasoning is followed? What is the lot of the people?
3 No effort is spared nor money withheld in the race to develop the most efficient means of wreaking “defensive” destruction. East and West maintain large military forces, each side hoping (1) to preclude disaster by discouraging enemy attack and (2) be in position to successfully meet and survive an attack should it come. Other smaller nations join in pacts and alliances with the big powers, endeavoring thereby to increase their own chances of survival. The great majority of peoples of the world, by choice or by compulsion, cast their lot with one side or the other. Everyone has the same idea in mind, namely, deliverance by means of alliance with the strongest possible force.
4. History provides what record with regard to reliance on the military?
4 But this philosophy of survival is nothing new. It has been tried before by great powers, and the results have not been encouraging in the least. Secular history demonstrates that every world power from the time of ancient Egypt has depended on military strength to effect its deliverance in time of trouble, and yet such powers were not able to sustain themselves indefinitely. Sooner or later in a time of great test they fell. The record of wars preserved in the Bible adds proof that military strength does not guarantee security and deliverance. Often great military powers, although apparently overwhelmingly strong and seemingly able to endure any test of arms, met defeat at the hands of those comparatively unarmed. Noteworthy, too, is the fact that such defeated nations in all their defensive measures chose to ignore Jehovah.—Isa. 60:12.
5, 6. Cite examples where armed might failed as a saving power.
5 Egypt of the Pharaohs mustered all the war equipment of the realm, six hundred chariots strong, and pursued an unarmed people considered a threat to its existence. All six hundred chariots were destroyed, and drowned in the Red sea were the hardened troops that accompanied them. (Exodus 14) A mighty Philistine army of 30,000 chariots and 6,000 horsemen, seemingly invincible, moved against Israel. There was a demonstration of military strength comparable in that day to the strength of the great powers today. And that strength seemed the more overwhelming because there was not so much as a sword in all Israel at the time, nor even a smith in the land. Nevertheless the mighty Philistine hosts were scattered and their military forces were unable to deliver them.—1 Sam. 13:5, 19, 22; 14:22, 23.
6 Jabin, king of Canaan, saw 900 of his best chariots wiped out by what were considered defenseless people. (Judg. 4:13-17) Assyrian King Sennacherib witnessed the decimation of his mighty military power in one night, 185,000 of his best troops being found “dead bodies”. (Isa. 37:35, 36, AS) Nowhere in the history of modern warfare has there been an equal to the destruction of 100,000 Syrian footmen in one day.—1 Ki. 20:29.
7. What should the nations have learned by now, as demonstrated by recent experience?
7 Nations ought to have learned from the lessons of history that security and deliverance are not synonymous with military strength. There is not one example of history where reliance upon the military has indefinitely preserved a nation. Nor has military strength been a certain deliverer in all great crises. The successive rise and fall of nations gives proof of that fact. Now the greatest crisis of all time is upon the world. Quite naturally men are anxious for a guarantee of deliverance. Will they now continue to rely on methods that have always proved inadequate? Moreover, though deliverance by military means was to be sure in any crisis, the survivors would still be faced with subsequent troubles and succeeding crises brought on by still other circumstances. The terrible aftermath of World War II illustrates this point well. Military might cannot deliver nations or peoples from the troubles and anxieties of this world. Something more than that is needed.
8. As against human schemes for deliverance, what does the Bible reveal?
8 A candid view of history, ancient and modern, reveals the ineffectiveness of armies, alliances, pacts, agreements, weapons of destruction, etc., in really bringing about a genuine deliverance. It is not the part of wisdom to keep repeating mistakes of the past. Wise men listen to counsel and profit thereby. (Prov. 12:15; 9:9) “They that seek Jehovah understand all things,” because he is the great Counselor. (Prov. 28:5, AS) Jehovah’s Word reveals him as a mighty Deliverer. He has promised for these last days a deliverance without precedent in human history—a deliverance of people from the oppressions and terrors of this old system of things to a righteous new world free for all time and resplendent with the vigor, freshness and confidence that come with genuine security. This new world is specially prepared by Jehovah, for he says of himself, “For behold me! creating new heavens and a new earth, and the former shall not be mentioned, neither shall they come into mind.” (Isa. 65:17, Ro, mar.) No conceivable arrangement of men today could possibly achieve such deliverance of humankind from its afflictions.
9. Foreknowing the critical times that have now come upon the world, Jesus recommended what course?
9 Christ Jesus appreciated the troubles of mankind and their need for a deliverer. But he did not instruct them to devise methods to effect their own deliverance. Rather he taught the people to pray to God for deliverance, and thus he pointed them to the correct source of deliverance. This meant that men were to rely upon Jehovah God to deliver, not upon Imperial Rome’s legions, nor upon any succeeding power that might gain the ascendancy, subjugate Caesar’s armies and dominate the world. Bear in mind that Jesus foreknew and foretold the turbulent times that have now come upon the world. He predicted that nation would rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, precipitating distress of the most critical kind. Yet he did not advocate reliance upon any human scheme or organization for deliverance, but he instructed men to direct their prayers to Jehovah God for deliverance. That God’s will might be done on earth, as in heaven, was to be their prayer. They were to thus look for deliverance in a manner and from a source much higher than things earthly.—Matt. 6:9-13; 24:1-14; 2 Tim. 3:1.
10. Jehovah delivers whom and by what means? What sustains those trusting in his deliverance?
10 Jehovah is the great Deliverer; of this there is no doubt. But he does not provide deliverance indiscriminately. He delivers only those who are worthy of deliverance, and abandons to destruction those not worth saving. “Jehovah knows how to deliver people of godly devotion out of trial, but to reserve unrighteous people for the day of judgment to be cut off.” (2 Pet. 2:9, NW) He proclaims himself the only Deliverer and Savior of mankind, through his Son Jesus Christ. Peter testifies to this, saying: “Furthermore, there is no salvation in anyone else, for there is not another name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must get saved.” (Acts 4:12, NW) Jehovah’s Word is actually a great song of deliverance that fosters courage, strength and confidence in him. He never lets those who love him forget his power for deliverance, though they go through difficult times. He compasses them about with songs of deliverance, all of which show him as the One sure to deliver.—Ps. 32:7.
11. How does Jehovah’s deliverance differ from the efforts of men at self-deliverance?
11 God’s way of deliverance is so wonderfully different from the ways of the world as to be incomprehensible to men who lack faith. Just so, too, it is infinitely more effective than any worldly deliverance could ever hope to be. God does not need to rely on armed might nor upon clever military stratagems for power of deliverance. With complete confidence in his own ability, he says, “I will have mercy . . . and will save them by Jehovah their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen.” (Hos. 1:7, AS) It would be a confession of weakness for him to take military measures in the ways of men. Why, his very name is a strong tower to which the righteous can run for safety. (Prov. 18:10) Jesus appreciated that God’s deliverance of men did not depend on the sword. Therefore, “return your sword to its place, for all those who take the sword will perish by the sword,” said Jesus to a well-meaning companion who wished to deliver him from the hands of his enemies.—Matt. 26:52, NW.
NEED OF KNOWLEDGE
12. What belief does it take to qualify for God’s deliverance, and how did Jesus proclaim coming deliverance?
12 Christ Jesus is Jehovah’s Chief Agent for deliverance. It takes belief in him to qualify for deliverance at God’s hand, for God sent Jesus forth “that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life”. (John 3:16, NW) Jesus proclaimed Jehovah’s deliverance by spreading knowledge—knowledge of God as the one who is determined to deliver mankind from their troubles; and knowledge of himself as God’s anointed one to effect such deliverance. There would be no deliverance to life without knowledge of God and his Son. Consequently Jesus stated: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.”—John 17:3, NW.
13. Knowledge of what qualifies one, backed up by what kind of life course?
13 Knowledge is therefore the key to deliverance, for “through knowledge shall the righteous be delivered”. (Prov. 11:9, AS) This can have no reference to superior knowledge of military stratagems, nor to knowledge of nuclear forces, the utilization of which might be used as a delivering power. No, but it refers to knowledge of God’s purposes. Backing up this knowledge must be a life pattern molded in conformity to God’s requirements as set forth in his Word. The required knowledge is an understanding of Jehovah as “God of gods, and Lord of lords, the great God, the mighty, and the terrible, who regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward”. (Deut. 10:17, AS) It means knowledge of him as the Builder of a righteous new world that will provide permanent deliverance for those who love him, and of his intention to save righteous men out of this old world into that new system of things.
14. To the fulfillment of what purpose of Jehovah did Peter look for deliverance?
14 From the very time of rebellion in Eden Jehovah has purposed to have a world that is wholly righteous, and that purpose shall be accomplished. That world will consist of the “heavens”, invisible to human eyes, and the “earth”, which is visible. Everything in that righteous new world must be righteous and do that which is right, to the praise of Jehovah. The apostle Peter looked for deliverance to this new system of things, saying concerning himself and his fellow early Christians: “But, according to his promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (2 Pet. 3:13, AS) Peter wanted to be delivered from the troubles of the old world and its anxieties, yet he knew only God could accomplish that, according to his promises. Peter did not side with Rome and get behind her armies for deliverance.
15. Of what will the righteous world consist?
15 The “new heavens” part of that new world consists of Christ Jesus, together with his joint heirs of heavenly glory, supported by the angels of heaven, all being righteous and fully loyal to God and faithful in their devotion to him. The “new earth” will consist of righteous men demonstrating themselves before and after Armageddon to be other sheep of the Lord Jesus, “the Right Shepherd.” (John 10:16 and Heb. 2:5, 6, NW) And the “new earth” will include the offspring of such other sheep in the post-Armageddon world. Every creature dwelling in the “new earth” must be righteous, and the righteous will never die.—Matt. 25:46.
16. Why is the right kind of knowledge so desirable?
16 Undeniably, one thing that distinguishes delivered ones from those who perish is knowledge. Knowledge is desirable above everything else, for the value of knowledge lies in the ability it gives its possessor to now act in harmony with God’s purposes. Applying true knowledge with a pure motive, men can gain wisdom and understanding far beyond anything this world has to offer, notwithstanding its great educational institutions. That is why the wise man of Proverbs places such great value on gaining an understanding of God’s Word. “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding. For the gaining of it is better than the gaining of silver, and the profit thereof than fine gold. She is more precious than rubies: and none of the things thou canst desire are to be compared unto her. Length of days is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.”—Prov. 3:13-18, AS.
THEOCRATIC ORGANIZATION NECESSARY
17. By what means does one gain knowledge leading to deliverance, but how may this view appear to many?
17 Knowledge and understanding that guarantee deliverance are, however, not individually granted apart from God’s Word and his organization. The same order and organization are apparent in his work of deliverance as were manifest in his creation. While the light of truth concerning his deliverance shines brighter and brighter, it does so through his theocratic organization, first the heavenly part and then the earthly. Personal individual Bible reading, necessary, laudable and commendable though it is, will not in itself bring a person to full appreciation of Jehovah’s arrangement for deliverance; just as attendance at a church regularly for years will not necessarily equip one to serve God and thus put him in position to receive his deliverance. Jehovah uses his organization to effect deliverance, and one’s being delivered depends on his relationship to God and to God’s organization. To many this may seem a narrow view of matters, yet we cannot condemn as unthinkably narrow what Jehovah provides for our deliverance. (Matt. 7:13, 14) We must seek deliverance on God’s terms. Consider the Bible record in point.
18, 19. What examples are there to illustrate that understanding and favor are not gained apart from God’s visible organization?
18 An Ethiopian eunuch was diligent in reading the Word of God, yet that was not sufficient to put him in position to receive God’s deliverance. Philip heard him reading aloud Isaiah the prophet, and he said: “Do you really know what you are reading aloud?” The eunuch replied, “Really how could I ever do so, unless someone guided me?” Philip “guided” him by telling him the good news of coming deliverance, and the eunuch requested baptism, signifying his desire to avail himself of that deliverance by conforming to God’s narrow way. Philip represented the visible organization of God then, having been sent out from Jerusalem to preach.—Acts 8:26-39, NW.
19 Cornelius, the Italian army officer and first Gentile to accept Christianity, though for years a devout man, exercising mercy, kindness and charity toward others, needed God’s visible organization to help him. After Peter, representing the congregation at Jerusalem, was sent to Cornelius and instructed him and those who had assembled with him, they all received the holy spirit, signifying favor of the great Deliverer, Jehovah, and they were then baptized. (Acts 10) Even Saul of Tarsus did not receive favor nor were his eyes opened, nor did he receive baptism, until he had made contact with Ananias, representing God’s visible organization. (Acts 9) Without adherence to the visible organization that God uses there can be no deliverance, now or at any future time.
20. How do still earlier dealings of God with men demonstrate the same principle?
20 Has it not always been the same? There was no deliverance apart from Noah and his God-approved family organization for constructing the ark of deliverance. (2 Pet. 2:5) There was no deliverance of Israelite first-born in Egypt apart from the visible organization arrangement through Moses. Nor was there any deliverance out of Egypt apart from God’s visible arrangement. The righteous man Lot received deliverance from Sodom only after having been contacted by angels who materialized as God’s visible representatives to warn him. (2 Pet. 2:7, 8) Rahab’s deliverance from Jericho’s destruction depended on her agreement with the Israelite spies who represented Jehovah’s approved organization then.—Joshua 6.
21. What about God’s arrangement for this time of the end? What vital part would the visible organization play, as shown by Paul?
21 It is the same at this consummation of the system of things, the destruction of a world now near at hand. The good news of the Kingdom arrangement for deliverance is being preached by Jehovah’s visible organization, and through the organization has come a wonderfully full understanding of Jehovah’s arrangement for deliverance. It includes the understanding of the opportunity for serving Jehovah in this time of the end, the making by each individual of a continual confession of public praise of God which leads to salvation or deliverance. That this would be necessary to deliverance is shown by the apostle Paul, who quotes in part from Joel’s prophecy of deliverance: “For ‘anyone that calls upon the name of Jehovah will be saved’. However, how will they call upon him in whom they have not put faith? How, in turn, will they put faith in him of whom they have not heard? How, in turn, will they hear without someone to preach? How, in turn, will they preach unless they have been sent forth?” This is organization just as surely as Jesus organized to send forth preachers; and association with this organization that calls upon the name of Jehovah is the way of deliverance.—Rom. 10:13-15, NW; Joel 2:32.
22. What characteristic of Jehovah argues for the same deliverance requirements now?
22 Jehovah says: “I, Jehovah, change not.” (Mal. 3:6, AS) He has always had certain rules governing his creatures. In times past there were requirements for them to meet to gain deliverance, as, for example, their conforming to minute instructions relative to the handling of the unblemished lamb and its blood on the night the death angel passed through Egypt. Inasmuch as “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” to make way for the righteous new world, only the faithful following of Jehovah’s rules will guarantee deliverance at the present world’s end. What rule of God is unchangeable and must apply to the other sheep and all now seeking deliverance? What will be required of every person who wishes deliverance into Jehovah’s new world?
23. How does one learn obedience? And what striking contrast is made in Bible record?
23 Obedience is required. The law of Almighty God demands, without exception, that every creature given life eternal in the heavens or in the earth shall learn obedience to the Most High. This makes necessary a knowledge of what God requires, which can be had only by a careful study of the Scriptures. The Scriptures were long ago written “for a warning to us upon whom the accomplished ends of the systems of things have arrived”. (1 Cor. 10:11, NW) In the Bible the obedient ones are strongly contrasted with the disobedient ones, and a record preserved of the results to each, thus aiding those who now seek deliverance. It is noteworthy that deliverance came, never to disobedient ones, but only to those who sought Jehovah and heeded his Word, and who conformed to his organization.
24. To be obedient means what? Show examples from Hebrews 11.
24 To be obedient means to have knowledge of the will of God and then to diligently do his will. Following the fall of man Jehovah announced his purpose to bring forth a “seed”, the Messiah, who by providing a redemptive price and then setting up a government of righteousness would open the way for deliverance of righteously disposed men. The Devil denied God’s ability to accomplish such a deliverance, and to this day Satan attempts to prevent the deliverance of any men. But the man who believes that God is the Supreme One and can accomplish his purpose of deliverance according to his will begins to have faith. (Heb. 11:6) At the eleventh chapter of Hebrews appear the names of faithful men of old who had unshakable trust in God’s power for deliverance and in his ability to carry out his announced purpose; and they were diligent to obey his commandments. By faith they looked down to this day when God would set up his kingdom, thus creating a righteous world, and they desired to live under that perfect government. They looked for the “new heavens” as their governing power. They would not by compromise accept any temporary deliverance by the Devil’s hand from the things they suffered for righteousness’ sake.—Heb. 11:14-16, 35-38.
25, 26. (a) What question might be raised regarding faithful men of old? (b) What marvelous fact is brought into view regarding Jehovah?
25 What will be the final result to such faithful men? They maintained their integrity and obedience toward God and they had his approval, yet many of them died by violence and sealed their testimony to God’s supremacy with their own blood. Did Jehovah’s deliverance fail them? Does not the fact that they perished show that God cannot deliver and that even those who are his devoted servants are not certain of salvation? Certainly not!
ANOTHER ASPECT OF DELIVERANCE
26 Rather, this brings into view another aspect of deliverance that marks Jehovah as a great Deliverer second to none. Yes, even death itself cannot prevent Jehovah from exercising his deliverance in favor of his people. Any human deliverance would be cut short and frustrated by intervention of death, but not so with God’s deliverance. “The righteous hath hope in his death,” says the unfailing Word. Why so? “Because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life.” (John 5:28, 29, NW) Held within the memory of God and destined for an early resurrection are these men of old. Theirs will be a deliverance from the grave to everlasting life on earth, just as surely as the Son of God himself was delivered from the tomb after three days. Thus is emphasized the unchangeable rule that faithful obedient ones who have God’s approval shall receive deliverance. Even death cannot thwart deliverance for them.
27. Does guaranteed deliverance obviate the possibility of suffering or death? Why?
27 Sure deliverance at God’s hand therefore does not mean there will be no suffering, nor even death on the part of those ultimately delivered. (2 Tim. 3:12; 4:5) Only through patiently bearing reproach and persecution in faithful continuance can anyone show his unqualified love for what is right and thus demonstrate his worthiness for deliverance by God. Christ Jesus demonstrated his worthiness to be delivered from the tomb by patient, faithful, obedient preaching, often under very adverse circumstances. He suffered bodily pain and mental distress, for he was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief”. (Isa. 53:3, AS) Yet he was always kind and generous. He did no harm to anyone, but always did that which was good, and spoke words of kindness toward those who had a hearing ear. (1 Pet. 2:23, NW) Under suffering he learned obedience and thus “became responsible for everlasting salvation to all those obeying him”. (Heb. 5:8, 9, NW; Rom. 8:17) He stood firmly for Jehovah’s name, and for the honor of his own name Jehovah delivered his Son.
28. Through following what course did Jesus gain the position as Jehovah’s Chief Agent for deliverance?
28 Jesus by the things he experienced and observed was able to more fully appreciate the great need of deliverance on the part of humankind. Having traveled the course of humans himself, he well knows how to sustain and succor those looking for an early deliverance at God’s hand. Moreover, he proved himself qualified to serve as God’s great servant for delivering humankind, showing himself willing to pay the price required to effect that deliverance, according to Jehovah’s equal law. (Deut. 19:21) Out of love for God and man Jesus desired greatly to fulfill the role of deliverer God marked out for him. So he obediently proceeded in the manner described at Philippians 2:7-11, NW: “He emptied himself and took a slave’s form and came to be in the likeness of men. More than that, when he found himself in fashion as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient as far as death, yes, death on a torture stake. For this very reason also God exalted him to a superior position and kindly gave him the name that is above every other name, so that in the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven and those on earth and those under the ground, and every tongue should openly confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” Deliverance therefore requires subjection to the exalted Jesus. To despise his name is to ensure destruction of oneself.