Facing Up to Our Urgent Times
IT WAS Sunday morning in Brooklyn, late in March, and a steady drizzle of rain was falling. In the Fort Greene Housing Project, not far from the main post office, a witness of Jehovah entered an apartment house. Upon knocking at the door of an apartment he was greeted by a housewife who became indignant as soon as she saw who it was. “No! Not you people again! Why, you were here just two weeks ago! Why do you have to come around so often?”
“Do you really want to know?” the Witness countered, with a warm friendly smile. “Your question is one I frequently meet. If you will but give me a few minutes of your time I shall be glad to answer your question.” The friendly smile did it, for the housewife replied, “O.K.” What follows here is the gist of his remarks.
END OF OLD WORLD AT HAND
The witnesses of Jehovah are Christian ministers. They love Jehovah God and have dedicated themselves to do God’s will and to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. To love God means to keep his commandments, among which are: “Preach the word, be at it urgently in favorable season, in troublesome season.” Note, there is an urgency about the Christian ministry; there ever was, but especially is there an urgency today.—2 Tim. 4:2.
Bible prophecy shows that we are living at the end of this old system of things. In particular does the fulfillment of Jesus’ great prophecy, recorded at Matthew chapter 24, pinpoint this. It shows that the generation that witnessed the events that have occurred since 1914—world wars, famines, pestilences, earthquakes, increase of lawlessness and the preaching of this good news of God’s kingdom—will also see the end of all wickedness. Armageddon, the battle of the great day of God the Almighty, is at the door. It will be the greatest catastrophe that has ever struck this earth, greater than even the flood of Noah’s day. This worldly generation, therefore, has not much longer to live, and the less time it has the more urgent it is that the Witnesses sound the warning and point men to the way of escape.—Rev. 16:14, 16.
Jesus also likened these days to those of Lot: “They were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building. But on the day that Lot came out of Sodom it rained fire and sulphur from heaven and destroyed them all.” Lot was urgent in warning his sons-in-law, and the angels of God were urgent in hurrying out Lot and his family. They had no time to lose; delay would have cost them their lives. These days are every bit as urgent.—Luke 17:28, 29; Gen. 19:12-22.
This old world or system of things, not the earth itself, is doomed because of its wickedness. No question about the present being the time meant by the prophetic words of the apostle Paul: “Know this, that in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, self-assuming, haughty, . . . without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness,” and so forth. Because these are critical “last days” the Witnesses call repeatedly at the homes of the people, sounding the warning: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues.”—2 Tim. 3:1-5; Rev. 18:4.
Jesus indicated a similar urgency in his great prophecy when he said: “When you catch sight of the disgusting thing that causes desolation, as spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in a holy place, . . . then let those in Judea begin fleeing to the mountains. Let the man on the housetop not come down to take the goods out of his house; and let the man in the field not return to the house to pick up his outer garment.” What is that disgusting thing? Jesus gave us the clue when he said: “What is lofty among men is a disgusting thing in God’s sight.” The United Nations is such a lofty thing among men today; and in that it is held out to be man’s only hope when in fact God’s kingdom is the only hope, it may be said to be standing where it ought not to stand, in the holy place, and so appears disgusting to God. So the urgent words of Jesus above apply to our day.—Matt. 24:15-18; Luke 16:15; Mark 13:14.
Yes, just as human governments today send out urgent storm warnings, so the government of God, his kingdom, by means of its earthly representatives, the Christian witnesses of Jehovah, is sending out urgent warnings regarding the great storm of Armageddon that is rapidly approaching. By calling on people time and time again the Witnesses are facing up to our urgent times.
DOING SO FULLY
This warning work not only requires urgency because of the time in which we are living but it also requires thoroughness because of its importance; lives are involved. (2 Tim. 4:5) That means making repeated calls. For one thing, circumstances keep changing. Today a man may not be at home, next time he may be. Today he may be too busy to listen, but the next time he may not be. Today one member of the family answers the door, the next time another member does; and the Witnesses are concerned with reaching not only every home in their assignments but also, if possible, each mature person in each home. Often families are divided as to religion, so it is not always possible for one member to speak for the entire family. Besides, people keep moving and so the Witnesses never can be certain as to just whom they will meet at a certain door.
Not only do the circumstances change, but the people themselves change. This also must be taken into consideration if the Witnesses are to face up to our urgent times and fully accomplish their ministry. For just some trifle a man may have been out of sorts and not at all willing to discuss religion or anything else no matter who came to his door, but it does not at all follow that he will be of that mental attitude at another time. Or, just because a man was not at all interested in discussing religion last month does not mean he might not be this month. Since the last time a Witness called this man may have had a soul-harrowing experience or in some other way learned something that made him humble instead of proud, hungry and conscious of his spiritual need instead of self-satisfied. Now may be just the time for him to hear the Kingdom message.—Eccl. 3:1; Matt. 5:3.
Then too, each time a Witness calls he endeavors to leave a few grains of truth, a few drops of spiritual water, as it were. Time and again these have a cumulative effect, eventually bearing fruit. Besides, the message the Witnesses bring sounds strange to many persons and they fail to grasp its urgency. Only by hearing it again and again do they gradually get the point.
Nor is that all. So as to awaken all latent interest and achieve the most effectiveness, the Witnesses vary their doorstep sermons as well as their literature offers. To some persons one Biblical theme will appeal and arouse interest, to others, another; some are interested in books, others in magazines. And the literature continually carries new information as well as new approaches to information previously published, all of which furnishes added reasons for the Witnesses’ calling so frequently. This is in keeping with the principle enunciated by one of the foremost Christian ministers, the apostle Paul: “I have become all things to people of all sorts, that I might by all means save some.”—1 Cor. 9:19-23.
Surely all this variety in circumstances, in people themselves, and in the message being presented is sound reason for the Witnesses to face up to our urgent times by repeatedly calling upon the people at their homes.
WHAT IS ACCOMPLISHED
Reinforcing the validity of all the foregoing reasons for the Witnesses to call so often at the homes of the people are the four basic things they accomplish. First of all they make known, honor and exalt the name of Jehovah, in keeping with the prophetic command: “Give thanks to Jehovah, you people! Call upon his name. Make known among the peoples his dealings. Make mention that his name is to be put on high.”—Isa. 12:4.
Secondly, by the Witnesses’ frequent calls the wicked receive ample warning. Jehovah God always warns the wicked before executing his judgments upon them. As in ancient times God kept sending his messengers to his people Israel, warning them, so today he is having his Witnesses sound the warning. When Armageddon strikes, all the wicked will know why they are being destroyed.—2 Chron. 36:15; Ezek. 35:9.
A third basic result from this repeated calling upon the people at their homes is that a great crowd, close to a million thus far, of persons of goodwill from all nations have taken their stand for Jehovah and may look forward to being hidden in the day of God’s anger. Having sown bountifully, the Witnesses are reaping bountifully.—Zeph. 2:3; 2 Cor. 9:6; Rev. 7:9.
And fourthly, by faithfully and repeatedly calling upon the people the Witnesses assure their own salvation, for “with the mouth one makes public declaration for salvation.” Yes, thereby they save both themselves and their hearers.—Rom. 10:10; 1 Tim. 4:16.
So who is there that can say otherwise than that the Christian witnesses of Jehovah have compelling reasons for calling so often at the homes of the people?