Saved from Wrath to Come
“You turned to God from your idols to be slaves to a living and true God, and to wait for his Son from the heavens, whom he raised up from the dead, namely, Jesus who delivers us form the wrath which is coming.”—1 Thess. 1:9, 10, NW.
1. How did Jehovah move forward toward deliverance of righteously disposed humans?
MAJESTICALLY and mysteriously Jehovah moved forward to the vindication of his name, developing an organization that would accomplish this and at the same time deliver groaning mankind to a righteous new world. After a wait of centuries, which gave Satan ample opportunity to prove whether he could forestall deliverance of men, Jehovah set in motion a chain of events that ultimately will lead to Armageddon’s miraculous deliverance. Faithful to the prophetic declaration that “the deliverer will come out of Zion”, Christ Jesus took up his duties as King upon the heavenly throne, and as the “faithful and true witness” of God’s deliverance. (Ps. 14:7; Rom. 11:26, NW; Rev. 3:14) With the enthroned Jesus Jehovah began the creation of the “new heavens” and proceeds to the building up of his capital organization. The exalted Jesus is made the Head of that capital organization and is clothed with all power in heaven and earth. (Matt. 28:18) Nothing less than this would ensure his ability to perform as Jehovah’s agent for deliverance.
2. Who are now part of the “new heavens”, and by what authority did they preach coming deliverance while on earth?
2 God gave Jesus twelve faithful apostles (not counting Judas, Paul taking his place), who now are, by virtue of God’s deliverance of them, in the “first resurrection”, made part of the “new heavens”. (Rev. 20:4-6, NW) They, like Christ Jesus, were true and obedient witnesses of Jehovah’s delivering power, though they served him under great difficulty. They worked hard and preached the coming deliverance. By what authority? Peter answers: “In the name of Jesus Christ . . . whom you impaled . . . This is ‘the stone which was treated by you builders as of no account that has become chief cornerstone’. 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 4:10-12, NW.
3. What further steps of deliverance to the “new heavens” does Jehovah take?
3 Proceeding with the creation of the “new heavens” God takes out from among men all together 144,000 redeemed or delivered ones who prove their integrity toward him, and such faithful men he makes a part of Zion, his capital organization. (Rev. 14:1-4) The faithful apostles are the first of these. From the time of Pentecost until the second coming of Christ in glory and power others are taken out from the world. Every one so taken out had to be obedient and learn patience through suffering for God’s name’s sake. In this they follow their King, “because even Christ suffered for you, leaving you a model for you to follow his steps closely.” (1 Pet. 2:21, NW) As Christ Jesus is the Chief and Foundation Stone of the capital organization of the “new heavens”, so all the members thereof as “living stones” are built up into that spiritual house that they may perform an acceptable heavenly service to God and Christ. (1 Pet. 2:3-8, NW) These who are joint heirs with Christ are delivered from this world to existence in the “new heavens” part of the righteous new world. The grave has no hold on them, nor does any political, military or other earthly action affect their deliverance to the righteous world. That is guaranteed by God himself.
4. Dedicated men on earth come under what judgment, and what promise is made to them?
4 Previous issues of The Watchtower in recent months have published the evidence that in 1914 (A. D.) Christ was set upon his throne in the “new heavens” as Deliverer. (Ps. 110:1, 2) His first act was to deliver the heavens of all unrighteousness, which he accomplished by hurling the Devil out. (Rev. 12:7-9, NW) Then “the temple sanctuary of God that is in heaven was opened”. This signaled a great deliverance from the grave of those who had proved faithful till death to their calling as body members with Christ. The apostles were the first ones to form part of the temple of God under Christ Jesus. (1 Cor. 3:16; 2 Cor. 6:16) Then follows a judgment beginning at the house of God. This is a searching test to determine who is worthy of deliverance. Men on earth, dedicated to God, come under this judgment for deliverance and to them is given the injunction to persist in righteous works, in order to guarantee deliverance to themselves. “Prove yourself faithful even with the danger of death, and I will give you the crown of life.”—Rev. 2:10, NW; 2 Tim. 2:11.
5. Who yet await deliverance to the “new heavens”, and why not humankind in general?
5 The “new heavens” are now established with Christ in full control. With him are those faithful early preachers of righteousness who worked with him on earth, delivered now to everlasting life in the heavens. Yet awaiting their deliverance to these “new heavens” are those still on earth whose hopes and aspirations are for the high calling and who have the witness of the spirit that they are sons of God. (Rom. 8:16, 17, NW) Humankind in general will have no part in the deliverance to the “new heavens” of Jehovah’s righteous new world, for this belongs only to those who receive the adoption as sons of God.—Rom. 8:14; John 1:12; Gal. 4:4, 5, NW.
DELIVERANCE OF HUMANKIND
6. What deliverance awaits others of the human family?
6 What, then, is in prospect for the great majority of mankind who now reside on earth to receive a deliverance from the woes that now afflict the nations? Are they to be consigned indefinitely to misery and fear, while only a few men achieve deliverance to the “new heavens”? No, indeed! God does nothing incompletely nor imperfectly, and the deliverance he has purposed takes in all of his creation. (Isa. 45:22, AS; Rev. 12:12, NW) All other continuously faithful creatures now on earth are to be delivered to his righteous new world, too, though they will not go to heaven. Yet God’s way of deliverance is remarkably different from anything the world today attempts.
7. The deliverance of a “great crowd” to a righteous world on earth means what change must come?
7 “The earth is Jehovah’s, and the fulness thereof.” (Ps. 24:1, AS) Hence he does not yield up control of earth indefinitely to evil forces, but earth must be brought back into harmony with his great purposes and take its place as a part of his righteous world. “Behold me! creating . . . a new earth,” says Jehovah. (Isa. 65:17, Ro) That does not mean a new mundane sphere, for this present sphere will not be subjected to destruction and therefore will need no replacing. (Eccl. 1:4) But if God is going to deliver righteously disposed humans to the better conditions of a righteous world right here on earth, then affairs of earth must completely change for the better. (Ps. 115:16; Isa. 45:18) What Jehovah does create is a new society among humans, under new social arrangements, with a righteous government having its foundations in the “new heavens”. (Heb. 11:10, NW) It is to this “new earth” part of the new world of righteousness that the majority of humankind who prove faithfully obedient will gain deliverance.
8. How does this harmonize with God’s declared purpose for heaven and earth? What shows knowledge a key requirement?
8 This is in keeping with Jehovah’s declaration that he made man for the earth and the earth for man. It is in harmony with the plain Scriptural truth that only 144,000 will ever attain to deliverance to the “new heavens”, and yet that also a “great crowd” of men will receive deliverance “out of the great tribulation” and be led to “fountains of waters of life”. The “new earth” has not yet been established, but it is coming and is now near at hand. Supporting the conclusion that knowledge of God is absolutely essential to deliverance into that “new earth” is the prophetic declaration of the inspired writer, “For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of Jehovah, as the waters cover the sea.” (Hab. 2:14, AS) It is certainly not so filled now, but all those receiving the blessed deliverance into the “new earth” will make it so. It is their knowledge, coupled with good works, that guarantees their deliverance into that world.
9. Beyond release from present world difficulties, what more important deliverance does Jehovah guarantee?
9 Not alone from the distresses and tribulations and calamities this world brings upon itself in its disunity does Jehovah deliver his obedient ones. He also guarantees deliverance of them from the ‘ruin that he brings upon those ruining the earth’ at Armageddon. Wrathful though the nations now be against each other and against his people, the time is near at hand for Jehovah’s own great wrath to come upon the earth, “and the appointed time for the dead to be judged, and to give their reward to your slaves the prophets and to the holy ones and to those fearing your name, the small and the great, and to bring to ruin those ruining the earth.” (Rev. 11:18, NW) To be delivered in the time of God’s execution of judgment against this world is of greater concern than to merely escape from trouble now.
THE UNSUCCESSFUL WAY AND THE SUCCESSFUL
10. What prospect of success is there for present efforts at self-deliverance in opposition to Jehovah’s way?
10 It is not the prerogative of any persons or nations to take it upon themselves to try to change the present world for the better. Whether this attempt be by peaceful means or violence, political conspiracy or military alliances to forestall aggression, etc., matters not. God himself is the one who is going to perform deliverance for the people. He is the one to create a “new earth” and provide the way out of the present world dilemma. Any conspiracies or programs that attempt to do this job for him are beforehand doomed to failure. The atom bomb stands as no terrifying problem for him, nor does economic chaos trouble his purpose for remaking human society. Nothing unyieldingly stands in his way. His purpose moves inexorably toward its accomplishment and humans can only adapt themselves to it or profess to ignore it. They cannot supplement it, alter it, speed it up or slow it down—only conform to it or deny it.—Isa. 43:9; 2 Cor. 13:8, NW.
11. What important points are to be kept in mind regarding conduct now?
11 Let not the oppressive conditions in the world dismay you to despair. Though wickedness and evil-doing are rampant in the earth, let this not lead you to the conclusion that it is profitable to follow the same course. “Though hand join in hand, the evil man shall not be unpunished; but the seed of the righteous shall be delivered.” (Prov. 11:21, AS) Do not conclude that your best interests will be served by walking the ways of evil men of the world. That is not the way of deliverance. Remember that we are now in the day of Jehovah and his King, and “in his days shall the righteous flourish”. (Ps. 72:7, AS; 1 Pet. 3:12) Do not trust in your own heart, but endeavor to walk wisely, for “he that trusteth in his own heart is a fool; but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered”.—Prov. 28:26, AS.
12. What course now proves unwise by reason of past examples?
12 Do not think, either, that you should do nothing but wait for deliverance to come from God. Noah did not idly wait for deliverance; but the world to which he preached was content to wait and do nothing. Judge you in terms of deliverance which course was the wiser. Every person of note in Bible history in behalf of whom Jehovah showed himself strong as a Deliverer did first show his own faith in the delivering power of the Almighty. On the other hand, consider those like Pharaoh of Egypt, who despised Jehovah and thought little of his ability to rescue men who love and serve him. Pharaoh was dogged in resisting God, not even the cutting down of the flower of Egyptian manhood changing his mind. But when his life was taken from him in the face of a miraculous Israelite deliverance from the Red sea his despisings died with him. Think of Goliath, who roared his defiance of Jehovah’s saving power until David’s God-directed stone of deliverance stilled his croaking voice. (1 Sam. 17:45-52, AS) Jehovah’s power of deliverance was shown in behalf of Samson, the lowly jawbone of an ass humiliating the swords, spears and armor of the mighty Philistines.—Judges 15.
13. As at every period of divine judgment, what is now true regarding deliverance? Why preach, then?
13 Deliverance requires faith, and faith requires works to give meaning to it. The fact that there will be a deliverance for some men from this evil world at its end means also that others will not make it into the righteous new world. At every period of divine judgment it has been the same: some were delivered, others failed. Jesus’ parable of the “sheep and goats” indicates a corresponding situation would exist now at the consummation of this system of things. The “sheep” go off to everlasting life, and the “goats”, undelivered, to eternal destruction. (Matt. 25:31-46, NW) The reason then is plain for the preaching of the good news in all the inhabited earth for a witness, namely, that men may know who is the real Deliverer and know of his kingdom arrangement for deliverance. “God saw good through the foolishness of what is preached to save those believing.” (1 Cor. 1:21, NW) To ignore that message is to despise God’s ability as a Deliverer, just as surely as Pharaoh of Egypt despised it. Do not be found in Pharaoh’s class!
14. What firm stand is necessary now by those seeking deliverance?
14 Do not be abashed, either, by those who may assume to ridicule the idea of a near-at-hand great deliverance from this evil world; or at those who mock the prospect of Jehovah’s deliverance of dead ones from the tombs. Keep from slipping out of your mental grasp the words of Peter, himself a foremost advocate of deliverance from coming wrath into the righteous world. Even Peter saw the necessity to arouse one’s clear thinking faculties to keep foremost in mind, against a great tide of disbelief, the profound truths concerning God’s deliverance. Said he: “For you know this first, that in the last days there will come ridiculers with their ridicule, proceeding according to their own desires and saying: ‘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. 3:1-4, NW) That is the attitude of the world. If it were not, then there would not be such frantic efforts at self-deliverance as are seen among all nations today. But with all the efforts there is not a shred of guarantee for safety and deliverance, nor is there any real assurance in any human scheme thus far set forth. It is all a grand experiment, with total disregard as to past failures.—Ps. 20:7; 146:3.
15. Sound judgment dictates what course?
15 Do you want to experiment with your life? Are you satisfied to risk everything on the chance that human schemes will perhaps enable you to survive whatever troubles may come upon the world now or in the near future? Or are you interested in a deliverance that is sure, guaranteed beyond a shadow of doubt? Would it not be better and using sound judgment to trust in Jehovah’s deliverance to a new and righteous world? The evidence of his ability to deliver is overwhelming. The proof that he is proceeding to create a new system of things in this world to which he will deliver those who love righteousness abounds in the Scriptures. Under close examination no doubts can exist that there will shortly take place for men now living the greatest deliverance of human history, and that in the face of Jehovah’s wrath manifested in the greatest destruction ever to come upon the human race. If it is deliverance that you seek, why not go to One who knows how to deliver?
16, 17. How did David show sound judgment in the matter of deliverance?
16 King David knew that great Deliverer, Jehovah, and, although himself a mighty man of war, he did not fail to rely upon Jehovah to save. Can there be any greater tribute to Jehovah as a Deliverer than that given to him by David? Listen!
17 “I love thee, O Jehovah, my strength. Jehovah is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer. . . . The cords of Sheol were round about me; the snares of death came upon me. In my distress I called upon Jehovah, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple. . . . Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations also of the mountains quaked and were shaken, because he was wroth. There went up a smoke out of his nostrils, and fire out of his mouth devoured. . . . Jehovah also thundered in the heavens. . . . He sent from on high, he took me; he drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy. . . . He delivered me, because he delighted in me. Jehovah hath rewarded me according to my righteousness.”—Ps. 18:1-20, AS.
18. Once and for all time, Jehovah’s deliverance at Armageddon will demonstrate what?
18 In the same manner Jehovah will at the end of this world deliver those in whom he finds delight, because of their devotion to him. He will reward them according to their righteousness demonstrated by reliance in him and faithful obedience in service with his mighty organization. It is not a deliverance for the sake of deliverance alone, but a deliverance for the sake of his name’s honor and glory. It will demonstrate once and for all time to all creation that Jehovah is God supreme and that everything existing owes loyalty and allegiance and devotion to him as the great Deliverer and Sovereign of the universe. Only those who manifest that full measure of devotion will live in his righteous new world, for no others will be saved from his wrath coming upon this present world of the Devil’s domination.