What Is Required to Survive Armageddon?
There is only one way to find concealment during God’s war. His Holy Word makes clear this way of survival.
THIS world is face to face with its worst calamity. Not because of a third world war is this the case but because of the certainty of the universal war of Armageddon. This will be the “war of the great day of God the Almighty”; hence, not a single nation of this world can escape the coming wrath of the Almighty God, as the prophet Jeremiah’s words so emphatically declare:
“‘A noise will certainly come clear to the farthest part of the earth, for there is a controversy that Jehovah has with the nations. He must personally put himself in judgment with all flesh. As regards the wicked ones, he must give them to the sword,’ is the utterance of Jehovah. This is what Jehovah of armies has said, ‘Look! A calamity is going forth from nation to nation, and a great tempest itself will be roused up from the remotest parts of the earth. And those slain by Jehovah will certainly come to be in that day from one end of the earth clear to the other end of the earth.’”—Jer. 25:31-33.
This earth-wide slaughter of the wicked will in nowise violate God’s righteousness, as Jeremiah himself states: “Jehovah of armies is judging with righteousness.” Thus Armageddon will be an expression of God’s righteousness, since “his judgments are true and righteous.”—Jer. 11:20; Rev. 19:2.
Seeing this is the case, we can expect the righteous God to provide some way for lovers of righteousness to survive the coming destruction of the nations. Indeed, the Almighty has marked out a way of escape. This is found in the Bible. The prophet Zephaniah spells out the course of action one must take to find concealment during the time of divine anger:
“Gather yourselves together, yes, do the gathering, O nation not paling in shame. Before the statute gives birth to anything, before the day has passed by just like chaff, before there comes upon you people the burning anger of Jehovah, before there comes upon you the day of Jehovah’s anger, seek Jehovah, all you meek ones of the earth, who have practiced His own judicial decision. Seek righteousness, seek meekness. Probably you may be concealed in the day of Jehovah’s anger.”—Zeph. 2:1-3.
CHRISTENDOM NO PLACE OF CONCEALMENT
Zephaniah’s prophecy is having its grand fulfillment in our day, as we behold Christendom not paling in shame at her hypocritical, unrighteous ways, her unchristian course that resulted in two world wars. Christendom is like the ancient nation of Judah, with its capital in Jerusalem. The Bible tells us that the inhabitants of Judah were proud and haughty; they went after false gods, not even “paling in shame” at their unrighteous ways. Jehovah sent his prophets such as Zephaniah and Jeremiah to warn the people, but most of them refused to heed the warning: “I kept sending to you all my servants the prophets, daily getting up early and sending them. But they did not listen to me, and they did not incline their ear, but they kept hardening their neck.” (Jer. 7:25, 26) God told the Israelites through Zephaniah that if they would repent, turn around and seek Jehovah, seek righteousness and seek meekness, instead of being arrogant and self-opinionated, there was an opportunity to survive the coming destruction; not for the city of Jerusalem, but there was hope for some individuals to survive. Because the Israelites as a nation did not pale in shame but continued in their way of false religion and faithlessness, God determined to bring destruction on Jerusalem and eventually upon the surrounding heathen nations.
Today Christendom does not pale in shame, but there are individuals in Christendom, just as there were in Jerusalem, who try to live by God’s righteous laws. Though these cannot avert God’s declared purpose to destroy Christendom at Armageddon, along with all the nations of the earth, yet these individuals can take a course of action that will result in their survival. Such individual seekers of Jehovah in ancient Judah were concealed through the destructive judgment God brought upon Jerusalem. Zephaniah’s words about how to find concealment are today addressed to those professed Christians in the modern counterpart of ancient Judah, namely Christendom.
Each informed person is thus faced with the need to make a decision; the right one means survival, the wrong one destruction. He cannot look to Christendom for help; not even all its gold and silver will save her, for “neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them in the day of Jehovah’s fury.” (Zeph. 1:18) Do not, then, try to hide in Christendom; she is no safe place of concealment. Rather, take to heart the words of Zephaniah, whose name means “concealed by Jehovah” and whose inspired words point out the way to be concealed by Jehovah during the day of his fury.
Listed first among the things to do to find the way of escape is to search for the God with power to save: “Seek Jehovah, all you meek ones of the earth.” Why? Because there is no help from Christendom, which refuses to pale in shame. But individuals can pale in shame. So God addresses the meek ones of the earth and tells them that if they do not want to suffer destruction at Armageddon, then they must seek Jehovah and be humble, and they will gain by it, since “the result of humility and the fear of Jehovah is riches and glory and life.” (Prov. 22:4) It is the meek ones who will seek Jehovah.
What does it mean to “seek Jehovah”? It means to take in knowledge of Jehovah God, who himself says through his prophet: “I have taken delight . . . in the knowledge of God rather than in whole burnt offerings.” One must learn about Jehovah, then, studying his marvelous qualities and his laws. To seek Jehovah one must also put faith in him, since “without faith it is impossible to please him well, for he that approaches God must believe that he is and that he becomes the rewarder of those earnestly seeking him.” Those earnestly seeking Jehovah put faith in him and come to love him, in harmony with what the Lord Jesus said in answer to the question as to what was the greatest commandment: “‘You must love Jehovah your God with your whole heart and with your whole soul and with your whole mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment.”—Hos. 6:6; Heb. 11:6; Matt. 22:36-38.
The one earnestly seeking Jehovah must keep on loving Jehovah, putting that love foremost in his life so that neither his enemies nor “friends” can turn him aside from his love for God. It is this kind of love that brings the reward, as the inspired writer James says: “Happy is the man that keeps on enduring trial, because on becoming approved he will receive the crown of life, which Jehovah promised to those who continue loving him.”—Jas. 1:12.
Seeking Jehovah today means more than it did in Zephaniah’s day, for the sincere worshiper must take steps to come into harmony with God’s Son, Jesus Christ, who is now the enthroned King. Hence the seeker of Jehovah must take in knowledge of Jesus Christ, must learn what he taught and obey his commandments. He will also pray as Jesus directed: “Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified. Let your kingdom come.” The one who earnestly seeks Jehovah, then, will not only pray for that kingdom but do as Jesus said: “Seek continually his kingdom.” He will always recognize the need to sanctify the divine name Jehovah.—Matt. 6:9; Luke 12:31.
Sanctifying the divine name requires that one make it known to others, for if persons do not know his name, how can they call upon it? Thus the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome: “‘Everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.’ However, how will they call on 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?” (Rom. 10:13, 14) This shows that those who seek Jehovah must do so unselfishly, being willing to make God’s name known to others, that they, too, may call upon it “before the coming of the great and fear-inspiring day of Jehovah.”—Joel 2:31.
Right after speaking about the coming of the “fear-inspiring day of Jehovah,” the prophet Joel said: “It must occur that everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will get away safe; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will prove to be the escaped ones, just as Jehovah has said, and in among the survivors, whom Jehovah is calling.” (Joel 2:32) God would hardly make this statement about getting away safe by calling on his name and then cause his name to be concealed to men. Therefore, in the days of Jesus and his apostles, God caused his name to be made known by preaching, even from house to house. So today God is having his name proclaimed throughout the earth, that the meek of the earth might call on it through Jesus Christ. This is not an isolated calling but a united calling, because Joel foretold that all the “escaped ones” will come to Mount Zion and Jerusalem, symbols for God’s kingdom, and that “the survivors” will go there in unity. Hence, to seek Jehovah today one must gather around the kingdom of God, doing it unitedly with all his Kingdom witnesses.
What does Zephaniah’s stressing of the need for seeking Jehovah indicate, then? That only by doing so can one find concealment during Armageddon. It also indicates that living a clean life, living by the “golden rule,” is not in itself enough. Mere moral living does not meet the first requirement for survival—seeking Jehovah.
Not that a righteous way of life is not required; it is, but it must accompany this matter of first of all seeking Jehovah. Said Zephaniah: “Seek righteousness.” The true worshiper of Jehovah must do that, living in harmony with God’s standard of righteousness. No longer can he go on practicing his own version of what is right, since “there exists a way that is upright before a man, but the ways of death are the end of it afterward.” (Prov. 16:25) Thus trying to live righteously by our own ideas could lead us to disaster and away from Jehovah, just as in the case of those Jews of whom the apostle Paul wrote: “Because of not knowing the righteousness of God but seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God.”—Rom. 10:3.
So it is God’s righteousness that we have to seek, just as Jesus Christ expressed it: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness.” (Matt. 6:33) This indicates we cannot merely seek Jehovah and his kingdom, all the while ignoring his righteousness. No, but we must familiarize ourselves with the Standard Jehovah has given us by which to judge all our actions and conduct—that is, the Holy Bible. We must do this because “all Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness.” Let God through his Word discipline you in the way of divine righteousness.—2 Tim. 3:16.
The need to seek meekness is listed third by Zephaniah, but not because it is unimportant. Indeed, so necessary is this quality that Zephaniah coupled it with the need to seek Jehovah: “Seek Jehovah, all you meek ones of the earth.” The fact that the prophet brings it up again and says, “Seek meekness,” stresses the need for it, showing that we must give continued attention to meekness. If we are seeking meekness, we will have the right mental disposition; we will be mild-tempered and willing to be disciplined by God, we will be willing to tell others the requirements for surviving Armageddon.
One shows meekness today, then, by becoming a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, who himself set the example in meekness: “Take my yoke upon you and become my disciples, for I am mild-tempered and lowly in heart, and you will find refreshment for your souls.” (Matt. 11:29) Let Jesus be your Example. Imitate him in all things, for he set the perfect example in how to seek Jehovah, to seek righteousness and to seek meekness. Jesus himself humbly did the work given him by God, making known Jehovah’s judgments to men. So the meek ones of the earth, following his example, will warn others of the coming execution of God’s judgments by the King Jesus Christ, at Armageddon.
If we do these things, really seeking Jehovah through knowledge, faith and love and calling on his name through Jesus Christ; and if we truly seek righteousness, along with God’s kingdom, doing so with meekness, then, Zephaniah says, “probably you may be concealed in the day of Jehovah’s anger.”—Zeph. 2:3.
Though Armageddon is to come upon this generation, some, because of age or illness, may die before that time; yet they may be hid by dying in God’s favor: “Precious in the eyes of Jehovah is the death of his loyal ones.” (Ps. 116:15) Such loyal ones will be assured of a resurrection to life. And for all those of this generation who are alive when the great fear-inspiring day of Jehovah breaks out, there is every probability of being concealed by God if they have earnestly followed the requirements for survival that Zephaniah made so clear. The “probability” does not lie with God but with us. Jehovah will prove faithful, but will we? Jehovah, who searches men’s hearts, knows whether we are truly seeking him and his righteousness and showing meekness. Prove loyal to God and he will prove his faithfulness by concealing you through the world-shaking calamity just ahead.