Hold Your Position
“Keep awake, then, all the time making supplication that you may succeed in escaping all these things that are destined to occur, and to hold your position before the Son of man.”—Luke 21:36.
1. In what way are present conditions unique, and how did Jesus describe them?
SURELY these are days of unequaled stress and strain when nothing appears to hold a secure position. True, human history has ever been a record of evil conditions, injustices, troubles and wars, but never has there been such a continual state of crisis, often breaking out into bitter strife and bloodshed, as has been experienced since the outbreak of World War I in 1914. This has been coupled with tremendous human efforts to establish a new and better order in a firm position, yet this same period is marked with increasing unrest and violence, besides a rising tide of crime and delinquency in almost every country. It would be shutting our eyes to hard facts and figures and a false optimism to say that history is just repeating itself. Rather, it is exactly as Jesus said it would be when giving his great prophecy concerning the time of the end, that there would be “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.
2. What bearing does God’s Word have on our day?
2 Since there is every reason to believe that the Bible as a whole is indeed “inspired of God and beneficial for teaching,” including what Jesus himself said and taught, would it not be wise to pay close attention to those things in Scripture having a direct bearing on the days in which we are living? More especially will it be wise when we find that our study will have a direct bearing on a vital matter of personal concern to every reader of this magazine. In fact, Jesus said it would heavily involve, not only his followers, but “all those dwelling upon the face of all the earth.” No exceptions anywhere.—2 Tim. 3:16; Luke 21:35.
3. (a) What climax faces this generation? (b) How did Jesus warn us respecting this?
3 What is this vital matter of personal concern? Look at the prophecy that Jesus gave and you will see. After detailing the many things making up the composite sign giving sure proof of his “presence and of the consummation of the [present] system of things,” he then said: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away.” Jesus knew that his return would eventuate in the complete removal of the present system of things. He fully appreciated the magnitude of the events due to take place. With that in mind, he then went on to give the strongly worded warning that forms the climax of the prophecy as recorded by Luke, that you should, above all things, “pay attention to yourselves” and “keep awake, then, all the time making supplication that you may succeed in escaping all these things that are destined to occur, and to hold your position before the Son of man.” Jesus knew with certainty that when “that day” comes for the final execution of Jehovah’s judgments on the present “heaven and earth,” there will be only one thing that matters as far as you are concerned, and that is, Will you prove to be among those who hold a position of favor and acceptance before the Son of man? Nothing else will count.—Matt. 24:3, 35; Luke 21:34-36.
4. On the subject of position, what questions arise?
4 With our attention now focused on the important subject of position, we shall find it a great aid if we first consider the Scriptural viewpoint on this question as far as others are concerned at this same period. What is Jehovah’s position in this day, and how does he hold it? What position does Jehovah give to Christ Jesus? What can be said of the position of “the god of this system of things,” Satan the Devil, and all who are under his control? Getting the right answer to these questions will help us to appreciate the correct viewpoint on the last question we want to consider, namely, What is the position of God’s people in this day, and how can you, as an individual, “hold your position before the Son of man”?—2 Cor. 4:4; Luke 21:36.
5. How do God’s Word and name help us to appreciate his position?
5 Jehovah is the personal name of the true God. Man did not invent or choose that name, but God chose it for himself, and what he says about it in itself indicates his position. “I am Jehovah. That is my name; and to anyone else I shall not give my own glory.” “For this is what the High and Lofty One, who is residing forever and whose name is holy, has said: ‘In the height and in the holy place is where I reside.’” (Isa. 42:8; 57:15) Jehovah is God the Creator, but that does not fully describe his unique position. In fact, it is impossible for man to give an adequate description; so we again turn to God’s Word, where we find many scriptures telling of his position as the Sovereign Ruler of the universe, including this tiny earth and man upon it. For instance, we read: “This is what Jehovah has said: ‘The heavens are my throne, and the earth is my footstool.’” He is “the King of eternity, incorruptible, invisible, the only God.” He is “Jehovah of armies—he is the glorious King.”—Isa. 66:1; 1 Tim. 1:17; Ps. 24:10.
6. Has Jehovah’s position ever been threatened by rebellion?
6 However, this does not mean that his rightful position is acknowledged by all creatures in heaven and earth. God’s Word tells of treason and rebellion, first breaking out in heaven, then on earth. (Ezek. 28:13-16) This has in actual fact never weakened or seriously threatened Jehovah’s position. Rather, we must say that he permitted it for a strictly limited period and for certain wise ends that he had in view. When that time limit is reached, as we believe is already the case, Jehovah does not need to change his position, but merely to assert the authority thereof in unmistakable terms in carrying out his purpose. Yes, Jehovah has a definite purpose as well as a definite position, and we do well to consider the more pointed question, What are Jehovah’s particular purpose and position in this our day, and how does he hold them?
7. (a) Why will man never gain the position of ultimate control? (b) What vision was given to John respecting this?
7 First, though, we may point out that man finds himself in an astonishing position today. Ignoring God to a large extent for all practical purposes, and filled with a sense of achievement in conquering outer space, as he is pleased to think, man sees the possibility of attaining what he calls the “ultimate position,” that is, the point somewhere in outer space that will give the possessor thereof control, total control, over all the earth. But have no fear. As previously explained in this journal, it is Jehovah alone who occupies the “ultimate position” as the Supreme One over the whole universe, far beyond man’s reach; and the apostle John was given a thrilling vision in symbolic terms of this “ultimate position” and the One who occupies it. Very significantly, the first thing that John sees and describes in this vision is a throne: “And, look! a throne was in its position in heaven, and there is one seated upon the throne.” This deeply impresses us with the fact that the rightful rulership of Jehovah as the Most High must be given first place above all else. It can also be said that recognition of that fact will help you above all else to “hold your position” in the day of final judgment.—Rev. 4:2; Ps. 47:2; see The Watchtower, 1958, pp. 660-662.
8. On what basis does Jehovah hold his position, and what false comparison must be avoided?
8 We can also learn something from that vision as to how Jehovah holds his position. Let no false comparison be made. The rulers of this world seek to maintain their position mainly through strength, fighting strength. Wisdom, shrewdness and diplomacy, all these things come into it, but overwhelmingly it is a question of power. True, “Jehovah of armies” is all-powerful, but we should not think that he maintains his position just by force. Notice the reason why those symbolic “living creatures offer glory and honor and thanksgiving to the one seated upon the throne” in grateful worship, together with the “twenty-four persons of advanced age,” symbolic of the entire Christian congregation. With one accord they say to Jehovah God: “You are worthy.” No coercion. They are not frightened into saying it. There is nothing terrifying in that beautiful and lofty description of the One occupying the throne, likening him to rich and exquisite gems, exceedingly pleasant and inviting, causing endless wonderment and admiration. Jehovah is a God of moral excellence, a God of love; and it is love that is the binding force uniting all God’s creatures that will live forever in his universe, ascribing to him the glory and honor due to his matchless position as the creative Center of all things. Likewise, it is love for Jehovah, that unbreakable attachment, delighting to do his will in wholehearted and unselfish devotion, that will enable you to be counted worthy of holding your position in the crucial test.—Rev. 4:3, 9-11.
9. Does the Bible speak of God assuming kingly power, and how only can this be understood?
9 Though Jehovah’s position never changes, there are many expressions in the Bible that tell of him assuming kingly power at a certain time. For example, those twenty-four persons just mentioned are heard by John, in a later vision, saying: “We thank you, Jehovah God, the Almighty, the one who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and begun ruling as king.” To get the right understanding of this we must take into account the position that Jehovah gives to his beloved Son, Jesus Christ.—Rev. 11:17; see also Ps. 93:1; 96:10; 97:1.
THE POSITION GIVEN TO JESUS CHRIST
10. How do the Scriptures aid us in defining Christ’s Present position?
10 As part of the composite sign earlier referred to, Jesus said: “And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.” This would be in fulfillment of the vision given to the prophet Daniel, where he saw coming “with the clouds of the heavens” a “son of man,” who is given “rulership and dignity and kingdom” by Jehovah, the enthroned “Ancient of Days.” As has often been shown from the Scriptures in these columns, this was fulfilled A.D. 1914, at the expiration of the “appointed times of the nations,” when Christ began to rule as king. It is in this way and through this kingdom under Christ that Jehovah can be said to assume kingly power, and it is by this means that he will assert his authority in no uncertain terms. When on earth Jesus said: “For the Father judges no one at all, but he has committed all the judging to the Son,” and shortly after his resurrection he said: “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth.” But he knew he would first have to sit and wait at his Father’s right hand until the due time to receive the rulership and kingdom before exercising that authority and executing that judgment.—Luke 21:27; Dan. 7:13, 14; John 5:22; Matt. 28:18; Ps. 110:1.
11. On what basis is Jesus counted worthy of such an excellent position?
11 What an honorable and responsible position! No wonder Jesus expressed himself so forcefully and with such great concern on the need to “hold your position before the Son of man” as God’s duly appointed judge and king. Why is he given this position? Listen again to those in close attendance at Jehovah’s throne as they see him as the Lamb take the scroll “out of the hand of the one seated on the throne.” John hears them “sing a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy.’” How proved worthy? Because in loving, unselfish devotion he delighted to do his Father’s will, even to coming to this earth to lay down his perfect human life in sacrifice as a sin bearer, thus becoming the “Lamb that was slaughtered.” As a result, among other things, he was enabled by the merit of his shed blood to purchase a people for God out of mankind who are made “joint heirs with Christ,” “a kingdom and priests to our God,” and who, with Christ, “will rule as kings over the earth.”—Rev. 5:6-12; Rom. 8:17; see also Isaiah 53:5-12.
12. (a) Need we fear that the Son of man might be a harsh judge? (b) Who else must be considered on this question?
12 Perhaps in thinking of the difficulties involved in holding your position before the Son of man you fear he might prove to be a somewhat harsh and severe judge. Not so however. Read for yourself his own description of the rich blessings and grand outcome of his judgment work as recorded at John 5:24-29, blessings of victory over death and of everlasting life. Then notice the fine foundation on which he holds his position as judge, when he says: “I cannot do a single thing of my own initiative; just as I hear, I judge, and the judgment that I render is righteous, because I seek not my own will but the will of him that sent me.” (John 5:30) No, the real reason for the difficulties involved is because of someone else, Satan, the Devil, and those also who are caused to operate under his influence and control. Let us look at this side of the picture.
SATAN’S UNENVIABLE POSITION
13. How and why did Satan lose his original position, leading to what wicked ambition?
13 What a sorry spectacle! The subject of a taunt-song! It would not be true to say Satan is a usurper, meaning one who seizes a position without authority. Rather, he betrayed the sacred trust connected with his original God-given position as “the anointed cherub that is covering,” that is, having the oversight of Jehovah’s interests, as well as man’s interests, “in Eden, the garden of God.” But, as the record says in accusing him: “You began to sin. . . . Your heart became haughty because of your beauty.” Later, in 607 B.C., when Jerusalem and her domain were completely desolated by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, when the typical or small-scale kingdom of God was made a ruin, then it was that Satan in the fullest sense became the undisputed “god of this system of things.” Then it was that he thought that at last he was really on the way to making that desperate climb up and up above all other positions—but let God’s Word itself describe that exceedingly wicked and proud ambition: “As for you, you have said in your heart: ‘To the heavens I shall go up. Above the stars of God I shall lift up my throne . . . I shall go up above the high places of the clouds; I shall make myself resemble the Most High.’”—Ezek. 28:13, 14, 16, 17; Isa. 14:13, 14; 2 Cor. 4:4.
14. (a) What debasement is foretold for Satan? (b) How and when will this be fulfilled?
14 Would Satan prove successful? Never! He might blind himself as he does the unbelievers, but in that same sure word of prophecy his terrific fall, from so high to so low and debased a position, is also vividly described at Isaiah 14:12, 15-20. This began to be fulfilled in 1914 when Christ Jesus, as Michael at the head of his heavenly forces, on behalf of the true God Jehovah, fought Satan the dragon, the mimic god, and his forces, and, as a result, “down the great dragon was hurled, . . . down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him.” When the meaning of this vision was given to God’s servants on earth, then it was that the taunt-song, or “proverbial saying,” against Satan began to be sung.—Rev. 12:9; Isa. 14:4.
ISSUE OF RULERSHIP AND WORSHIP
15. (a) What issue was raised by Satan’s ambition? (b) How can worship be Scripturally defined?
15 With these respective positions in mind we can gain a clear picture of the issue involved in the present-day situation and the reason for Jesus’ strong warning given for our benefit. Did you notice that Satan’s proud ambition was not only to scale forbidden heights himself, but also to exalt his throne? Where there is a throne there must of necessity be a kingdom with its subjects ruled over by the occupant of the throne. And, though it may not always be so, there is no doubt in this instance that worship is involved, which means the rendering of reverential homage and respect and adoration. Do not think of this as limited to one who attends a place of worship or goes through some form of religious service or exercise. If one renders obedient service to someone or some organization, whether willingly or under compulsion, looking up to such as possessing a position of superior rulership and great authority, then that one can Scripturally be said to be a worshiper.
16. What has been the policy of Satan and the organizations under his control?
16 Without stopping just now to discuss the many details, nothing stands out more plainly than the issue of rulership and worship as recorded at Revelation, chapters thirteen to fifteen. Observe, first, that all on earth are caused to worship Satan the dragon, also the “wild beast,” picturing Satan’s entire visible ruling organization. It is the avowed policy of this “wild beast” to blaspheme God, “his name and his residence.” To blaspheme means to utter grossly profane and irreverent language toward God and sacred things. Blasphemy is the antithesis of worship. (Rev. 13:4-6) Observe, next, the “image of the wild beast,” picturing man’s crowning effort to hold the present system of things in position, as seen in the United Nations (formerly the League of Nations). This organization too has the same policy of demanding enforced worship, “it puts under compulsion all persons,” making existence well-nigh impossible unless they openly identify themselves as supporters and worshipers of Satan’s organization.—Rev. 13:15-17.
17. (a) How does Jehovah’s organization stand out in contrast? (b) What is the import of the messages at Revelation 14:6-12?
17 Then, in strong contrast, at Revelation 14:1-5, is described Jehovah’s organization, with Christ the enthroned king in position as “the Lamb standing upon the mount Zion,” God’s city, and with him the true church, openly identified as worshipers of Jehovah, “the name of his Father written on their foreheads.” “No falsehood [or blasphemy] was found in their mouths.” Then follow the “glad tidings,” which form part of “this good news of the kingdom” now being proclaimed worldwide by Jehovah’s witnesses, announcing the right course, which all must pursue if they would hold their position: “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of the judgment by him has arrived, and so worship the one that made the heaven and the earth and sea and fountains of waters.” Immediately following this the judgment is announced, mentioned twice for emphasis as coming on those who worship “the wild beast and its image,” the dwellers at fallen Babylon, Satan’s city or organization. No position of favor or acceptance for them! Instead they cry out to their own tottering organizations: “Fall over us and hide us from the face of the one seated on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb, because the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”—Rev. 14:6-12; 6:16, 17.
18. Why is Jehovah worthy of the rulership and the worship?
18 As a closing scene, read the words of that grand song sung by those who “come off victorious from the wild beast and from its image,” saying: “Great and wonderful are your works, Jehovah God, the Almighty. Righteous and true are your ways, King of eternity. Who will not really fear you, Jehovah, and glorify your name, [why?] because you alone are one of loving-kindness? For all the nations will come and worship before you, because your righteous decrees have been made manifest.” Jehovah is worthy indeed to hold the rulership and receive the worship.—Rev. 15:2-4.