Keep on the Watch as Sons of Light
“For, look! darkness itself will cover the earth, and thick gloom the national groups; but upon you Jehovah will shine forth, and upon you his own glory will be seen.”—Isa. 60:2.
1, 2. Why is there much spiritual darkness in the earth?
MEN today are enthralled by the scientific conquest of the skies. The nations have been alerted to the prospects ahead for the nation that moves the fastest in the technology of the space age. Millions are being spent to put a man in space and bring him back alive. And this is only the start, according to the scientists.
2 Yet while scientific vistas are thus opening up, darkness covers the earth concerning God’s purposes. Like an eclipse this dense darkness has moved over the surface of the earth during the past generation, obscuring the vision of many to the real future for the universe. In Communist countries church buildings are not permitted repairs, religious instruction is discouraged and the darkness upon the people gets blacker and blacker; while in noncommunist lands the religious systems permit their people to grope along in the same doctrinal and prophetic obscurity that prevailed during the Dark Ages. It is as though the sun, moon and stars were no longer giving light to the earth.
3. What assurance do those who love the light have?
3 In contrast to this, Jehovah God is letting the light of truth shine brighter and brighter as he reveals his purposes to sincere men and women who look to his Word for enlightenment. To his organization he cries out: “Arise, O woman, shed forth light, for your light has come and upon you the very glory of Jehovah has shone forth. For, look! darkness itself will cover the earth, and thick gloom the national groups; but upon you Jehovah will shine forth, and upon you his own glory will be seen.” Just as the sun seems brighter after an eclipse, so the truth is radiant and clear to those who come out of the darkness now covering the earth.—Isa. 60:1, 2; 2 Cor. 4:4.
SIGN OF CHRIST’S PRESENCE
4. What circumstances make it important to do Jehovah’s will now?
4 Yes, it is high time to awake from the gloomy darkness that envelops the old world system, including its religious organizations, and to enjoy the refreshing light of truth. It is already over forty years since the manifold sign of Jesus’ second coming began to be observed with the outbreak of World War I in 1914. The fulfillment of Bible prophecy is now reaching its zenith. This is a day that even the angels looked forward to seeing—Jehovah’s day, when his name will be made known as the eternal God of the universe, and when his will will be done on earth as fully as in heaven. It is no longer the time to be working out the will of the nations, but rather to learn of and do Jehovah’s will.—1 Pet. 4:3.
5. What facts make clear that we are living in the time of the end?
5 This is the most important period of man’s history. The limited time God has set for this present world system is rapidly running out, in fact, we are in the time of the end. When a sleeping man hears the ring of the alarm clock he knows that it is time to awake to a new day. This is true today in a spiritual way. The warning alarm that Jesus gave in his prophetic words at Mark 13:29, 30 rings out loud and clear for us now: “Likewise also you, when you see these things happening, know that he is near, at the doors. Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things happen. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” What things had Jesus so vividly described? “For nation will rise against nation,” he said—an event that has proved true not once but twice as two world wars have ravaged the earth since 1914. “There will be earthquakes”—another evidence, and something over which man has no control, but which Jesus foresaw—and scientists have noted a marked rise in the number of earthquakes as well as in their destructiveness during this generation. “There will be food shortages”; this has already been true, with terrible famines in Asiatic countries in recent decades, and now there is a growing threat from this source with the sharp rise in population of certain countries. But this is not all. As Jesus warned, “These are a beginning of pangs of distress.” Even the close family circle would be divided, “and children will rise in revolt against parents and have them put to death,” an appalling phenomenon of our times as children have turned informer for the state and testified against their freedom-loving parents.—Mark 13:8-12.
6. To what extent is the good news being preached?
6 However, there is a good feature of the sign that must not be overlooked: “Also in all the nations the good news has to be preached first.” This is the good news regarding Jesus’ enthronement in the heavens in 1914 and the rapidly approaching end of the space-age troubles as the new heavens and new earth of God’s making take over. In 1960 over 900,000 of Jehovah’s witnesses devoted over 131 million hours in 179 countries to preaching this good news and conducting Bible studies with interested people in unmistakable fulfillment of Jesus’ words.
7. How does Jehovah’s day come?
7 In view of the detailed prophecy given in the Bible concerning these times, there is no need for any sincere person to wonder what God is going to do or what the future holds. As Paul wrote: “Now as for the times and the seasons, brothers, you need nothing to be written to you. For you yourselves know quite well that Jehovah’s day is coming exactly as a thief in the night. Whenever it is that they are saying ‘Peace and security!’ then sudden destruction is to be instantly upon them . . . So, then, let us not sleep on as the rest do, but let us stay awake and keep our senses.” (1 Thess. 5:1-6) While no one on earth knows when Christ is going to strike with destructive force against the present system of things, there can be no question about the fact that we are living in the generation of which he spoke. The nations are putting on a powerful campaign for peace. The Russians have proposed disarmament on the one side while Mr. Dwight Eisenhower, when he was president, was hailed by others as the “Prince of Peace.” This should alert us to the imminence of the destruction now coming and show us the wisdom of serving Christ Jesus, the true “Prince of Peace.” Since no one knows just when the fury of Armageddon will strike, now is the time to prepare.
8. Why is it needful to be on the watch?
8 As Jesus said: “Keep looking, keep awake, for you do not know when the appointed time is. It is like a man traveling abroad that left his house and gave the authority to his slaves, to each one his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to keep on the watch. Therefore keep on the watch, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether late in the day or at midnight or at cock-crowing or early in the morning, in order that when he arrives suddenly he does not find you sleeping. But what I say to you I say to all, Keep on the watch.” (Mark 13:33-37) In those days the people did not have trains or planes and split-second schedules so the man on a journey could tell his servants he would arrive on the evening train at 5:35. If all went well he might be home sometime in the evening, or it might be the next day or next week. The servants had to keep on the watch. So it should be with the Master’s servants in these days. It is time to be on the watch, ready for the Master’s arrival for the final inspection of this old world at Armageddon.
MAKING A CHOICE FOR LIFE
9. What choice is before each person?
9 Sincere students of the Bible looked for centuries for these times. The current unfolding of Bible prophecies is better than any stage or television drama because each one can play a part in it. And the part we play will mean life to ourselves, to our families and to men of good will. It is up to each person to determine his own course in life and the part he will share by keeping awake now and active in the service of the King, Christ Jesus. Our lives are not forced by predestination to follow a set pattern or to end on a day set by fate. As Joshua told the Israelites, it was up to them to choose whom they would serve and to decide on the course of action they would follow. “But as for me and my household, we shall serve Jehovah,” he declared.—Josh. 24:15.
10. What prophetic work is being done?
10 What way will you choose to follow? Will it be the unpopular narrow way that men of faith have followed? or the broad way of darkness of the old-world majority? Do not say, “There is nothing I can do about it; so what if we are living in the time of the end?” There is something that can be done, and those who are sons of light are not left in ignorance as to what it is; for Amos 3:7, 8 (AS) says: “Surely the Lord Jehovah will do nothing, except he reveal his secret unto his servants the prophets . . . The Lord Jehovah hath spoken; who can but prophesy?” To prophesy is to speak of the future. Even when we say the Lord’s Prayer, “Let your kingdom come. Let your will come to pass, as in heaven, also upon earth,” we are repeating a prophetic prayer. This is the good news that Jesus said his servants would be prophesying about at this time in all the inhabited earth.
11, 12. Should we depend on someone else for religious guidance?
11 Will you have a share in the work Jesus foretold? Each individual has the responsibility to make a choice. He cannot shrug it off by saying, “I let my clergyman care for religious matters.” In Jesus’ time the clergy knew more about the weather than they did about the signs that identified him as the Messiah. They refused to believe the miracles he performed. Likewise today Jesus could well say to the same class of men: “You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but the signs of the times you cannot interpret.” (Matt. 16:3) Therefore, it is well for each person to be alert to follow the right course instead of depending on someone else. Life is at stake.—John 3:9-15.
12 Some contend that because they were not educated in religious matters they must depend on those who have studied to guide them, just as they depend on a doctor for medical advice. However, this does not hold true with regard to a study of God’s Word. The Scriptures were written so they could be read and understood by all men. Jesus said: “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) He did not say that it would give you life to have someone else take in the knowledge for you; but it is up to each one to learn for himself what God requires of him. Jehovah is teaching his people through his organization. He says: “Listen intently to me . . . Incline your ear and come to me. Listen, and your soul will keep alive.” (Isa. 55:2, 3) The very fact that the limited time for the old system of things is rapidly expiring prevents us from postponing indefinitely taking in this life-giving knowledge. Now is the time to learn God’s purposes for the earth and what he requires of us.
13. Why is new-world education so important?
13 Each individual should work hard to gain a personal knowledge of Jehovah God. We have a choice with regard to the education we put first in our lives, whether old-world or new-world education. But if we put Kingdom interests first, as Jesus advised, then we will study the Scriptures and keep up with the advancing understanding of the truth as its light gets brighter and brighter. Today the nations are stressing old-world education to insure the survival of the political systems and to keep the present balance of power, but it is new-world education alone that makes possible the survival of men of faith for everlasting life.
14. How can a person progress to Christian maturity?
14 At first we may be like little children with regard to understanding the deep things of God’s Word, even though intellectually wise by the standards of old-world education. Like a child, we need to associate with those who can talk the pure language of truth to us, who can answer our Bible questions and show us how to study and find the answers for ourselves. Jehovah’s witnesses render this service for people of all faiths, last year conducting over 646,108 free Bible studies throughout the world for an hour a week. But the study of the Bible is not an end in itself, any more than sending a child to school is its goal in life. The time comes for a child to apply its education and become a productive member of society, supporting itself and its family. So with a student of the Bible who gains faith in God: he takes up the ministry as one of the New World society, teaching the things he has learned to others. He acknowledges Jehovah as his father and Jehovah’s organization as his mother. He becomes awake to the light of God’s law and finds himself on the way of life. (Prov. 6:20) He knows that a student would not advance in school if he did not attend classes regularly and study his assignments well; so if he is going to advance rapidly in Bible knowledge, he finds he must study the material to be considered in the free Bible classes of Jehovah’s witnesses and attend the meetings regularly. In this way he shows he is striving for Christian maturity. He could not do it on his own, as it would be like groping through a dark maze of religious tradition and confusion to find the light; but Jehovah shows us the way and provides those who want to be sons of light with the enlightening course of study they need through the New World society. As one grows to Christian maturity he becomes alert to use the information that he obtains to help others and to advance in his service to God. For with knowledge comes responsibility, and with responsibility comes accountability.
15. What course will give us favorable standing before Jehovah?
15 It is before Jehovah that each person stands or falls. If we are awake to our responsibilities and show keen interest in the instructions he has given us in his Word, then we will continue standing in his favor. (Rom. 14:4) Many people recognize the truth when it is presented to them but do not want to take on the responsibility that comes with it. They feel they could never do the work of talking to their neighbors about the Bible or teaching others by means of a home Bible study. Actually they show lack of faith in Jehovah as teacher and do not give themselves an opportunity. Even the ant, according to the proverb, though it has no commander, is busy preparing food in the summer. So the proverb writer asks: “How long, you lazy one, will you keep lying down? When will you rise up from your sleep?” (Prov. 6:9) Are you asleep to your privileges when you could be sharing the truth with others, lying down on the job instead of gathering the spiritual food for use in the ministry? We cannot just wait indefinitely to see what will happen. Some tried that course of action in the days before the Flood, but they lost their lives because of their lack of response to the warning and because of not sharing in the work God had given for that time.
16. How can one show himself to be a ‘son of light’?
16 After coming to an accurate knowledge of the truth, we find there is a work for us to do. Of course, we cannot do the work unless we are alert to the situation and know what is to be done. “But you, brothers, you are not in darkness . . . for you are all sons of light and sons of day.” (1 Thess. 5:4) Thus Paul showed that while men generally may be in the darkness that comes toward the close of the day for this old system, God’s servants would be reflecting the light of the new day of Christ’s kingdom rule. They would not be in darkness with regard to God’s purposes or an understanding of his Word. They would be awake and keep their senses with proper balance by putting the ministry first in their lives. Such ones recognize that their knowledge of the truth gives them a responsibility to aid others; it makes them answerable or accountable to God, under obligation to render to him an accounting for the knowledge they have received. Everyone must answer to God for the way he uses his life, whether to God’s praise, with blessings and happiness for himself and those he ministers to, or foolishly without direction, goal or purpose.