“Everlasting Good News” for the “Time of the End”
“And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, and he had everlasting good news to declare as glad tidings to those who dwell on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people.”—Rev. 14:6.
1. While flight through the air by modern man is not unusual, what would cause us great excitement to see and what would we undoubtedly want to do?
TODAY it is nothing for us to see airplanes with one or more than a hundred persons aboard flying through the air at great speed, or even rockets with a man in its capsule being hurled into outer space and safely returning. But what if we were to look up and see an angel, not in an open airplane nor with artificial mechanically operated or glider wings, flying with an announcement through midheaven where the birds fly? Would this not stir up excitement among us? Would we not strain our ears to hear the announcement that this angel was making without the aid of a megaphone or other modern electrical sound equipment? We surely would.
2, 3. What startling announcement was made by an angel almost 2,000 years ago?
2 As we think of an angel with an announcement, we turn our minds back almost two thousand years into the past and to a religiously famous spot in the Middle East. It is an autumn night and certain shepherds, whose national history is linked with angels, are watching over their flocks in the fields near the little town of Bethlehem, King David’s birthplace. Suddenly a brightness burst around them and there, in glory, was an angel standing by them. Though they were God-fearing men, they got very fearful. But the angel said:
3 “Have no fear, for, look! I am declaring to you good news of a great joy that all the people will have, because there was born to you today a Savior, who is Christ the Lord, in David’s city. And this is a sign for you: you will find an infant bound in cloth bands and lying in a manger.”
4. Who besides man rejoiced at this announcement?
4 This event was something not merely for “all the people” on earth to be joyful about, but also for heaven to rejoice about, for look what then happened. “Suddenly there came to be with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying: ‘Glory in the heights above to God, and upon earth peace among men of good will.’”—Luke 2:8-14; Zech. 1:7-9.
5, 6. Though angelic appearances in the past have been events of great importance, what can be said for our day and the power of unseen spirit creatures?
5 We might think that it would have been wonderful to be with those shepherds back there and have this vision of angels and hear their voices and then go to the manger in Bethlehem and become an eyewitness to the birth of the babe who was to become the “Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:15-20) Nevertheless, we today are having much to do with the heavenly angels, even though they remain invisible to us and we do not hear their voices.
6 We have every reason to believe that there is a lot of demon activity going on in these days. The march of all the worldly nations to the greatest and most destructive war in all human history is unquestionably being conducted under demon control. That is the meaning that the last book of the Bible (Rev. 16:13-16) places upon the irresistible movement that the militarized nations are making to the situation that is prophetically called Har–Magedon or Armageddon. That last book of the Bible shows that at the same time there would also be activity and movement on the part of God’s holy angels, not, however, to resist the action of the demons in driving the nations to Har–Magedon, but for other reasons.
7, 8. (a) When did the last appearance of angels take place, and yet how are the holy angels used by Jehovah in our day? (b) How does John in Revelation assure us of this service by angels?
7 Since the apostle John received the Revelation at the end of the first century of our Common Era, appearances of angels have ceased to occur. Yet the holy angels of the Most High God have been actively serving in behalf of the faithful followers of “Christ the Lord,” who are to inherit immortal life with him in the heavenly kingdom. This is what the words of Hebrews 1:14 have in view when the question is asked concerning the holy angels: “Are they not all spirits for public service, sent forth to minister for those who are going to inherit salvation?” All these angels are subject to Christ the Lord, the Son of God, and they have faithfully served him throughout the past nineteen centuries, for the sake of his followers. But today there is a foretold work that has to be done in this “time of the end” that comes to a climax at Har–Magedon. So those angels are being given special assignments of service, and they serve in ways unseen to us humans. This must be true in order for what John saw in miraculous vision to be realized, a vision that he described in these words of Revelation 14:6, 7:
8 “And I saw another angel flying in midheaven, and he had everlasting good news to declare as glad tidings to those who dwell on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people, saying in a loud voice: ‘Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of the judgment by him has arrived, and so worship the One who made the heaven and the earth and sea and fountains of waters.’”
THE FIRST ANGEL SEEN IN FLIGHT
9. Despite our not seeing any angelic appearances in this day how do we know the message of Revelation 14:6, 7 comes through an angel of Jehovah?
9 We have not literally seen the flying angel whom John saw in vision, seeing him either from a ground location or from a seat by the window of an airplane speeding through midheaven. Neither have the astronauts who have been put in orbit around the earth, much higher than the altitude attained by our jet or rocket airplanes, reported seeing such an angel. Yet, despite all that, we can attribute to no one other than an angel or body of angels under command of Christ the Lord what we have seen and heard at the earth since the close of World War I in November of 1918, and its Peace Conference in 1919. What we have seen and heard since then in connection with the God “who made the heaven and the earth and sea and fountains of waters” could certainly not be of human origin, not of some man, say, for instance, of J. F. Rutherford, the memory of whom Christendom despises.
10, 11. (a) Why is the news we have heard even more grand than the announcement made to the shepherds concerning the birth of Jesus? (b) How does John show this to be true in Revelation 12:10-12?
10 What, though, have we heard since 1919? We have unmistakably heard the declaring of “glad tidings” such as those who dwell on the earth have never heard before. These glad tidings have to do with the “good news of a great joy that all the people will have,” which the glorious angel declared to those shepherds out in the fields near Bethlehem nineteen hundred years ago. The announcement of the birth of a baby boy ought to be good news, especially when that boy’s birth was waited for for thousands of years because God the Creator had assigned him to perform a great work for the rescue of mankind from all the evils that afflict it. (Jer. 20:15) How much grander, then, should be the good news of the birth of the Kingdom, the Government in which this foretold child actually serves as “Christ the Lord” and as “Savior”! Angels chanted together at the human birth of the future Ruler, but when God’s kingdom was born in the heavens and gained its victory over Satan and his demons, the fulfillment of the words of Revelation 12:10-12 took place. In those verses John says:
11 “And I heard a loud voice in heaven say: ‘Now have come to pass the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ, because the accuser of our brothers has been hurled down, who accuses them day and night before our God! . . . On this account be glad, you heavens and you who reside in them!’”
12. What timely questions are now posed for answer?
12 However, was this heavenly event to be left unannounced on earth? Was the less important birth of the babe Jesus worthy to be announced on earth, even by angels, but the far grander event, namely, the birth of God’s kingdom with Christ as Lord in the heavens, unworthy of announcement on earth with similar dignity? Such a thing would be unreasonable. It would be out of harmony with God’s way of treating matters of world importance.
13. What evidence have we that God’s kingdom was born in 1914?
13 In world history since the year 1914 we have the overwhelming evidence that the birth of God’s kingdom took place in the heavens that year. The many items of evidence that we were to look for in our visible world Jesus foretold as he sat on the Mount of Olives overlooking Jerusalem two days after he rode into the holy city, offering himself to her as God’s anointed king. By the year 1919 enough of this evidence had piled up to prove that in 1914 the “appointed times of the [Gentile] nations” had ended and that God’s Messianic kingdom had been established in the heavens and that immediately thereafter Satan the Devil, the unseen god of the Gentile nations, had been cast out of heaven and down to earth where these Gentile nations are located.—Matt. 24:1-13; Luke 21:24.
14. How did Jesus show his followers would respond to the news of the Kingdom’s birth?
14 What did Jesus say that his faithful followers should do after seeing the meaning of all this evidence? Keep it to themselves like a secret society? Be afraid to tell it out for fear that the Gentile nations might not like it and might oppose and persecute? No; but after Jesus had foretold the preliminary evidence by which to prove that the kingdoms of this world had entered into their “time of the end” and that God’s kingdom for a righteous new world had been born in the heavens, Jesus said to his inquiring disciples: “And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matt. 24:14; Dan. 12:4) Here, then, was the way in which a royal heavenly birth far grander than that of the human birth of Jesus nineteen centuries ago was to be given the announcement that it deserved on earth in our day.
15. (a) Did Jesus intend to have angels preach about the Kingdom’s birth? (b) What was to be the purpose of making proclamation of the Kingdom’s birth?
15 Jesus did not say or indicate that this preaching of the good news of the Kingdom’s birth would be done by the heavenly angels. His prophecy to his disciples was instructions for them at the time that the evidence turned up. They were the ones appointed to do the preaching in all the inhabited earth, to all the nations. This preaching of a new government born, of a government with sovereignty over all the earth, was not intended to start a political revolution among all nations, as if Jesus’ disciples were revolutionaries. The preaching was to be merely “for a witness to all the nations” before God in heaven brought such unresponsive nations to their calamitous end.
16. Nevertheless, what part would angels have in this most important work?
16 However, although the audible preaching on earth was to be done by Jesus’ peaceful disciples in this modern twentieth century, this does not mean that invisible angels of heaven would not perform some part unseen, in close cooperation with the preaching work or even supervising it. For the gathering together of the Kingdom preachers Jesus, in his prophecy on the world’s end, said that the angels would be used. He said: “And they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send forth his angels with a great trumpet sound, and they will gather his chosen ones together from the four winds, from one extremity of the heavens to their other extremity.” Finally, he said: “When the Son of man arrives in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another.”—Matt. 24:30, 31; 25:31, 32; Mark 13:26, 27.
17, 18. (a) How should God’s servants on earth feel about this angelic assistance? (b) Of what significance is it that the angel is seen flying in midheaven just after the apostle John saw Jesus and his 144,000 victorious disciples?
17 It should be of great comfort, encouragement and strength to us Kingdom witnesses to have this inspired assurance that the angels under the reigning King, Christ the Lord, are helping, guiding, protecting and backing up our preaching work in all the inhabited earth. This angelic participation unseen in the preaching work, yes, this angelic responsibility for the declaring of the glad tidings of the established kingdom to all of earth’s dwellers, all this is doubtless what is symbolized by John’s vision of the angel flying with everlasting good news in midheaven. And the connection of the flying angel as news bringer with God’s kingdom is made very plain to us. How so? In that he is seen flying in midheaven immediately after John saw Jesus Christ the Lamb of God standing with his 144,000 victorious disciples upon a mountain called Mount Zion, the name of the very mountain on which his forefather, King David, sat on his throne, “Jehovah’s throne,” in Jerusalem.—Rev. 14:1-6.
18 According to this follow-up of interrelated events, this must mean that after the Lamb Jesus Christ stands up in kingly power on the heavenly Mount Zion in 1914 the “everlasting good news” of the Messianic kingdom must be declared to earth’s dwellers, who have unknowingly come under the sovereignty of a superhuman government, a heavenly kingdom. World history since A.D. 1914 proves that this is just the way events have happened in their order.
19. (a) What is the advantage of the angel’s flying in midheaven? (b) How important is his message?
19 Because the angel was flying in midheaven, he would be able to be heard by earth’s dwellers over a large area. His announcement made with his superhuman voice would be heard over a wide radius from that height, as he orbited the earth. He was sent to declare the glad tidings to every nation and tribe and tongue and people, and he would have to fly around the earth. It was good news deserving to be heard by everybody dwelling on earth. It was good news, coming, not from earthly politicians, but from heaven, and it affected every person dwelling on earth, man, woman and child. By God’s own decree it has to be given the widest publication, for it is the most important news to mankind; and there is no quietus or soft pedal to be applied to the publishing of it, either by men afraid to speak out or by men opposed to its publication.
20. Why would it be useless for anyone to try to stop the message declared by this angel of God?
20 Let men on earth, kings, judges, generals, priests, pontiffs or clergymen, try to stop the flying angel from declaring the glad tidings, if they dare. Over two thousand six hundred years ago the boastful king of the Assyrian World Power threatened to overturn God’s typical kingdom that ruled from Zion or Jerusalem. But in one night one angel of Jehovah, according to the record in 2 Kings 18:13 to 19:36, struck dead 185,000 of the invader’s troops, to force him to retreat with what he had left back to where he came from.
21. (a) What attitude should Kingdom preachers take in telling out the good news? (b) Why is fast action by God’s servants necessary in this most important work?
21 Accordingly, the Kingdom preachers on earth must not be afraid. They must speak out boldly, as under divine commission, everywhere. It is not convenient for them to go up in helicopters or airplanes or rockets in order to make their declaration of the good news, but Jesus said they must get up on a prominent place and without fear preach to the people. When he sent his twelve apostles out to preach, “The kingdom of the heavens has drawn near,” he told them not to be afraid of men, although being “cautious as serpents.” He said: “Therefore do not fear them; for there is nothing covered over that will not become uncovered, and secret that will not become known. What I tell you in the darkness, say in the light; and what you hear whispered, preach from the house-tops.” (Matt. 10:7, 16, 26, 27) From a housetop a speaker could have his voice carry far and reach a multitude of hearers below. The idea is to let the message be heard far and wide and as quickly as possible. The angel whom the apostle John saw in vision was flying in midheaven, flying as in posthaste as in the case of the Persian “couriers on horses, riding post horses used in the royal service, sons of speedy mares,” in order to advise Jehovah’s people of their right to defend themselves against their enemies. (Esther 8:10) The “time of the end” is comparatively short and many human lives are involved. Hence the need for speedy action. It is to be noted that the flying angel spoke “in a loud voice.” He wants to be heard. Far be it from us to tone down what he has to say.
22. Is the field to be reached a small one, and what is the responsibility of the angel flying in midheaven?
22 The field to be reached with the “glad tidings” is a large one, embracing every nation and tribe and tongue and people. The flying angel in midheaven was expected to cover his territory and let all those for whom the message was meant hear it. Since the year 1919 he, or the angelic organization that he symbolizes, has been seeing to it that this territory and its population are being reached with the glad tidings.
23, 24. (a) Since the field is large, what expansion by Jehovah’s witnesses has been necessary since 1919? (b) To what extent is the printed message of the good news distributed today as compared to 1922, and how far-reaching is it?
23 This accounts for it that, whereas Jehovah’s witnesses were proclaiming the Kingdom message on only a limited scale in 1919 in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, the islands of the sea and the Americas under supervision of fourteen branches of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, now in this year 1963 they are declaring the glad tidings in 194 lands and island groups, with more than 22,000 congregations, and under the supervision of ninety branches of the Watch Tower Society.
24 Further, as regards the going of the tidings to “every . . . tongue,” by April of 1922 the public lecture “Millions Now Living Will Never Die” was being proclaimed by speakers in thirty-three leading languages of the world, but today the Kingdom message is being published on printed page and by word of mouth in 162 languages, the Watchtower magazine alone being now printed in 66 languages each month, including Russian. Yes, the glad tidings from the “angel flying in midheaven” is being heard even behind the penetrable Russian Iron Curtain, through thousands of Jehovah’s witnesses. The Communist rockets are unable to shoot down Jehovah’s flying angel.
25. What is the message of the flying angel?
25 But what does the angelic bearer of “everlasting good news” have to say as he flies in midheaven? What the apostle John heard him say “in a loud voice” was: “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of the judgment by him has arrived, and so worship the One who made the heaven and the earth and sea and fountains of waters.” (Rev. 14:7) His appeal is for all nations, tribes, tongues and peoples to fear, glorify and worship God.
26. Does it matter if any nation is predominantly of a certain religious conviction? Why?
26 He is not embarrassed by the well-known fact that the people in one nation are already predominantly Roman Catholic; the people in another land are Greek Catholic; the people in another country are Protestant; the people in another region are Moslems or Mohammedan; the people in that vast territory are Hindu; the people in that large area are Confucianist; the people in those islands are Buddhist. What does it matter that their religions up to this crucial time have been those here mentioned and many others not here mentioned? The heavenly angel’s advice is for all to fear the one God.
27. Why can there be no mistaking that the God referred to by the flying angel is Jehovah alone?
27 It is true of the religious situation of the world today just as it was true in the apostle Paul’s day, in which day he said: “There are those who are called ‘gods,’ whether in heaven or on earth, just as there are many ‘gods’ and many ‘lords.’” (1 Cor. 8:5) But there is no mistaking whom the angel flying in midheaven means when he calls on everybody to fear God. He does not mention his name, but he describes who this God is in such a way that we can identify him. He is the Judge of the whole world and he is the Creator of heaven, earth, sea and fountains of waters. There is only one such divine Judge and Creator, and we can know what his personal name is. In the opening verse of the Holy Bible we read Ge 1:1: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” And in chapter two, verse four, the American Standard Version Bible of 1901 reads: “These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that Jehovah God made earth and heaven.” And verses seven and eight read: “And Jehovah God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. And Jehovah God planted a garden eastward, in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.” (Gen. 1:1; 2:4, 7, 8, AS) Any reader can thus see that from the start of the Holy Bible the name of God the Creator is established as being Jehovah.
28. What further evidence have we that Jehovah is the universal Judge referred to?
28 As for his being the universal Judge, more than three thousand eight hundred years ago, when the existence of Sodom and Gomorrah and other nearby cities was at stake, the Middle Eastern patriarch Abraham addressed himself to Jehovah God and said: “That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked, that so the righteous should be as the wicked; that be far from thee: shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” The Holy Bible gives us the Judge’s answer to this argument, saying: “And Jehovah said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sake.” Despite Abraham’s pleadings, however, Jehovah the Judge of all the earth found it right to rain down fire and brimstone from heaven upon Sodom and the other cities in that area. (Gen. 18:25-33; 19:24-29, AS) Because of this exhibition of the execution of judgment by the Judge of all the earth nineteen centuries before the apostle John’s day, was not the angel whom he saw flying in midheaven rendering all mankind a distinct service by calling on everybody to fear this God the Creator, Jehovah? This angelic service would specially be urgently necessary when the time of his judgment had arrived.
29. Show what proper fear of the Supreme Judge Jehovah means.
29 How can men everywhere of all the many tongues fear this God the Judge and Creator? What does it mean for his human creatures on earth to fear Him as the Supreme Judge and as the only living and true God? We are definitely told in his written Word. One inspired Bible writer, Solomon, the wisest king of ancient time who reigned in Jerusalem centuries before the Buddhist Era began, was a worshiper of God the Creator and said: “The fear of Jehovah means the hating of bad. Self-exaltation and pride and the bad way and the perverse mouth I have hated.” “The fear of Jehovah is the start of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Most Holy One is what understanding is.” “Do not become wise in your own eyes. Fear Jehovah and turn away from bad.” “Fear the true God and keep his commandments. For this is the whole obligation of man. For the true God himself will bring every sort of work into the judgment in relation to every hidden thing, as to whether it is good or bad.”—Prov. 8:13; 9:10; 3:7; 16:6; Eccl. 12:13, 14.
30, 31. How does one learn the proper fear of Jehovah God?
30 The ancient religions of this old world may boast of their wisdom, but it proves to be nothing more than worldly wisdom, which will perish when this bad world passes away in the greatest time of trouble ever in human history. Those ancient religions do not fear Jehovah God the Grand Creator, the Supreme Judge. In order for anyone to be wise in a true sense that leads to his surviving this old world and his gaining eternal life in a righteous new world, he must fear Jehovah God the Most High. To learn to fear him, one must learn about him; and one can do this only by reading, hearing and studying his written Word, the Holy Bible. Then we cease to be wise in our own eyes and we see that God is all-wise and that his prophecies concerning the future never have failed and never will.
31 By learning of Him we come to know what his purpose is and what his commandments are. With this knowledge we are able to show our fear of God by turning away from bad and by keeping his commandments. If we wisely keep his commandments, then we never need fear when his judgment time comes, for we shall receive his judicial approval.
32, 33. (a) What is the benefit of having knowledge of Jehovah and proper fear of him? (b) Why is Lot a good example to remember in this regard?
32 If we desire to have a correct understanding of all creation and the purpose in our being live, intelligent creatures, we have to take into consideration at all times Jehovah God the Creator and Judge. Remember: “the knowledge of the Most Holy One is what understanding is.” Such intelligent understanding should go along with wisdom and with our fear of Him. The benefit from this will be eternal. Regarding this, wise King Solomon also wrote: “The fear of Jehovah tends toward life, and one will spend the night satisfied; one will not be visited with what is bad.” “The fear of Jehovah is a well of life, to turn away from the snares of death.” “The result of humility and the fear of Jehovah is riches and glory and life.”—Prov. 19:23; 14:27; 22:4.
33 For the nephew of the patriarch Abraham, the fear of Jehovah tended to his life and salvation. When Lot and his daughters obeyed God’s command through his angels and abandoned the city of Sodom, they escaped the destruction that suddenly came upon Sodom and the neighboring cities by fire and sulphur from heaven. Regarding the benefit of Lot’s fear of Jehovah, it is written: “He delivered righteous Lot, who was greatly distressed by the indulgence of the law-defying people in loose conduct—for that righteous man by what he saw and heard while dwelling among them from day to day was tormenting his righteous soul by reason of their lawless deeds—Jehovah knows how to deliver people of godly devotion out of trial, but to reserve unrighteous people for the day of judgment to be cut off.”—2 Pet. 2:6-9; Gen. 19:15-29.
34. How is the declaration that the “hour of the judgment by him has arrived” “glad tidings”?
34 To those who obey the command to “fear God and give him glory, . . . and so worship the One” who is the Creator, the flying angel’s declaration is “everlasting good news” and his declaration is welcome; it is “glad tidings.” How is this so? How can the declaration that the “hour of the judgment by him has arrived” be good news? It is because the “judgment by him” means the setting of things right, in favor of righteousness and goodness and justice. The “judgment by him” means liberation forever for those who fear, glorify and worship the Creator and Supreme Judge as the one living and true God. For them it means deliverance from the mighty world organization that has long oppressed them. “Judgment by him” means such a setting of them free because it brings the downfall of their oppressor; it means the breaking of the power of the oppressor, this to occur as an expression of judgment by Jehovah God against the enemy organization. That this is true is shown by the series of angels whom the angel flying in midheaven introduces. Note what the next angel has to announce. We read:
THE SECOND ANGEL WITH GOOD NEWS
35, 36. (a) What was the message of the second angel? (b) Why was the fall of ancient Babylon in the days of Israel a time of rejoicing?
35 “And another, a second angel, followed, saying: ‘She has fallen! Babylon the great has fallen, she who made all the nations drink of the passion-arousing wine of her fornication!’”
36 What did that announcement in Revelation 14:8 mean for those who choose to fear, glorify and worship Jehovah God the Creator? Twenty-five centuries ago the city of Babylon on the Euphrates was a terror among the nations of the Middle East. Even the city of Jerusalem, where the temple of Jehovah God was located, did not escape drinking from the cup of the “passion-arousing wine of her fornication.” Babylon crushed Jerusalem to the earth and took her people, Jehovah’s professed people, into distant exile on enemy territory. When oppressive ancient Babylon fell, it made heaven and earth rejoice. It meant that liberation for Jehovah God’s people from the land of the enemy was at hand! So, then, was not such news, though sad to the Babylonians, gladdening to the fearers and worshipers of God the Creator?
37. What does Babylon’s fall today mean?
37 No less so is it with the angelic announcement of the downfall of Babylon the Great. For oppressed fearers and worshipers today of Jehovah God her downfall must mean the same thing—liberation! It is a vindication of their God, for it proves that he is supreme, almighty, completely devoted to truth and righteousness! It proves that he is the Judge who delivers the righteous and that the downfall of the enemy organization is a judgment from Him!
A THIRD ANGEL
38, 39. What is the announcement by the third angel?
38 As a further expression of the “judgment by him,” let us take note of what happens to those who refuse to fear, glorify and worship God the Creator of heaven and earth and the waters. Let us read what followed the announcements by the foregoing two angels:
39 “And another angel, a third, followed them, saying in a loud voice: ‘If anyone worships the wild beast and its image, and receives a mark on his forehead or upon his hand, he will also drink of the wine of the anger of God that is poured out undiluted into the cup of his wrath, and he shall be tormented with fire and sulphur in the sight of the holy angels and in the sight of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever, and day and night they have no rest, those who worship the wild beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.’”—Rev. 14:9-11.
40. Give evidence that people today do worship animals and images of them as well as human governments.
40 Throughout the earth today there are numberless religious persons who worship literal animals, dumb brute beasts, as if these were superior to intelligent, speaking, upright-walking man. There are great nations that use wild animal creatures as symbols of their nations, such as the British lion, the American eagle and the Russian bear. There are millions who bow down to images or to objects in the sky or in the earth. Many persons even mark themselves or have themselves branded as belonging to a certain god and as worshiping such god. Such persons do not find it hard to idolize and worship a great man-made organization that has the characteristics of a wild beast, or to worship, so to speak, an auxiliary organization that images or duplicates the original beastlike organization. So, by worshiping such human organizations, they add to the gods that they worship. On close examination and study it will be found that all these gods are made by creature man and are not God the Creator of the universe. So, instead of helping, they actually take away, turn attention away from the worship of the one Creator God.
41. (a) Is it reasonable to believe that God would be pleased with all this false worship? (b) Whose approval does the “wild beast” organization have?
41 Could we, then, expect that, when the “hour of the judgment by him” arrives suddenly upon such worshipers of creations, the Judge who is the Creator himself will be pleased with all these false worshipers because of all their religiousness and because of their seeming sincerity in their form of worship? No! Not according to what this third angel announced. The preceding chapter (Rev. 13:1, 2) makes it plain that the “wild beast” organization has the approval and backing of the Dragon, Satan the Devil; and so its “image” must have the same devilish approval because of imaging, mimicking what the Devil approves of.
42. What will be the fate of false worship and its worshipers?
42 But the worshiping of what the Devil likes and supports has the disapproval of God the Creator, and such worship means disobedience to his commandment loudly called out by his angel flying in midheaven. Such false worship, therefore, deserves the expression of the Creator’s anger, and the worshipers of created things will have to drink the undiluted wine of God’s anger, which wine is contained in the “cup of his wrath.” They will drink one draught of expression of his wrath after another, until finally they get so stupefyingly drunk that they will never wake up from their drunkenness. They will feel like Sodom and Gomorrah and the other cities of the District in the days of Lot and Abraham, when fire and brimstone or sulphur rained down upon them from heaven.
43. What evidently is meant by the symbolic fire and sulphur that comes upon modern day false worshipers, and what is their reaction to the message preached by Jehovah’s witnesses?
43 The rain of fire and sulphur meant a painful destruction to the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah. The fire and sulphur that will come in expression of God’s wrath upon the modern-day false worshipers in a symbolic way are evidently heaven-sent messages of utter destruction for all these false worshipers who refuse to obey and turn from creature worship to Creator worship. As these burning forerunners of coming destruction fall upon them, they feel great torment. Their religious sensibilities are very much hurt and they take great offense at what Jehovah’s Christian witnesses preach and teach. They undergo this religious torment before the eyes of the holy angels and the eyes of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. These heavenly ones do not interfere with the torment, because the false worshipers deserve it, now that the hour of God’s judgment has arrived and he must hand down his judicial decisions.
44, 45. (a) When will the torment of false religions end? (b) Who will not interfere in the tormenting work against false religion?
44 The religious torment of these false worshipers will have no end until they are overwhelmed in destruction corresponding with that which came upon the law-defying, immoral, loosely living cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. The Lamb Jesus Christ and the holy angels will not interfere for the relief of the false worshipers; and Jehovah God will not call off his Christian witnesses on earth whom he uses to rain down these fiery, sulphurous messages of divine judgment upon the worshipers of man-made creations, modern and ancient. That is what Revelation 14:11 means when it says that “the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever, and day and night they have no rest.” And the history of the religious world since 1919, as published in newspapers, magazines, court records and other publications, proves that this has been true.
45 The torment and restlessness of false worshipers will continue on without interruption until they are destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrah, and the smokelike evidence of this utter destruction that was preceded by such continual torment will ascend forever.
46. Since the hour of judgment is a short period of time, what will those worshiping Jehovah not do?
46 In view of this we can appreciate why the bearer of “everlasting good news” whom the apostle John saw flying in midheaven called upon all nations, tribes, tongues and peoples to fear, glorify and worship only the one Creator of heaven and earth as the true God. The hour of his judgment, a comparatively short period of time, is no hour in which to be glorifying, idolizing and worshiping the organizations of men, organizations that have a cruel, beastly record in history and that interfere with the worship of Jehovah God. If we desire to avoid drinking the undiluted wine of God’s anger in the cup of his wrath, if we want to escape from the tormenting fire and sulphur that result at last in destruction forever, we must turn to the worship of God the Creator. The third angel seen in John’s vision declared that the worshipers of false gods must now be punished in this way during this “hour” of God’s judgment against this old world. Hence it simply has to be and continue to be just as the third angel declared. Declaration of judgment is under angelic control.
NEED FOR ENDURANCE BY TRUE WORSHIPERS
47. How do we know this judgment period will not be an easy time for true witnesses of Jehovah, and how does Revelation 14:12 show this to be true?
47 Because the true worshipers have the favor and approval of God the Creator, we should not think that this judgment period is to be an easy time for them. The false worshipers, by means of their organizations, the symbolic “wild beast” and its “image,” are not in any good humor toward the Creator’s Christian witnesses and worshipers. They make their mighty organizations act like a wild beast toward Jehovah’s witnesses who declare his judgments, his judicial decisions concerning this old world. They try by all means, legal and illegal, to force the witnesses to turn from Jehovah’s worship and to join them in worshiping man-made organizations and systems. That is why, immediately after telling about the worshipers of the wild beast and its image and the torments upon such worshipers, Revelation 14:12 adds: “Here is where it means endurance for the holy ones, those who observe the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” The situation today calls for endurance by God’s witnesses.
48. What, then, will Christian witnesses of Jehovah do?
48 What, then, shall we witnesses of the Most High God the Creator do? By his unfailing help we have endured till now, but the proving of our endurance is not over as yet. We are still living and, for the remainder of this “hour” of God’s judgment, we shall continue living in this world surrounded by the false worshipers and their false gods and idols. We cannot turn aside from observing the “commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” We must keep on observing God’s commandments and holding fast our faith in Jesus regardless of how much this course will call upon us yet to endure.
49. Whose lead should we follow in this time of judgment, and how serious is our commission?
49 Accordingly, we will continue to follow the lead of the angel flying in midheaven and will take up and relay to “every nation and tribe and tongue and people” the “everlasting good news” that this angel or angelic band introduces “in a loud voice.” We cannot help it that what is “good news” or “glad tidings” to us true worshipers is not good news to everybody else, not good news to false worshipers who are the foes of Jehovah God the Creator. The good news includes the information about the vengeance of God the Creator, and those who are commissioned by God to preach are under orders to proclaim His vengeance.
50. Who else had this obligation, and how did he show he accepted the commission when on a visit to Nazareth?
50 This obligation was true also of the loving Lord Jesus, whom Jehovah God anointed with his holy spirit immediately after he was baptized in the Jordan River. In the Jewish meeting place in his boyhood town of Nazareth, Jesus read from the prophecy of Isaiah and applied to himself these words: “The spirit of the Lord Jehovah is upon me, for the reason that Jehovah has anointed me to tell good news to the meek ones. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to those taken captive and the wide opening of the eyes even to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of good will on the part of Jehovah and the day of vengeance on the part of our God; to comfort all the mourning ones.” (Isa. 61:1, 2; Luke 4:16-21) Even he had to preach God’s “day of vengeance.” At the same time he preached the “year of good will on the part of Jehovah.” His sheeplike followers today have to do the same.
REJOICING OVER HIS VENGEANCE
51, 52. (a) Why is even the declaration of Jehovah’s vengeance a cause for rejoicing? (b) Like Moses, how will righteous servants of Jehovah feel?
51 Even the day of vengeance on the part of our God Jehovah is good news for the meek ones on the earth who have been downtrodden by the powerful; for the brokenhearted ones who have seen the visible organization of God’s true worship broken up by the enemies of the pure and undefiled religion; for those taken captive and restricted in their religious liberty by that organization of the Devil, Babylon the Great; and for the religious prisoners whose eyes have closed, made sightless by the darkness of the religious prison in which they have been unwillingly chained.
52 Not for persons who rejoice over the badness of this world of false worship, but for those who mourn over the damage done to the congregation of true worship the proclaiming of the “day of vengeance on the part of our God” is a comfort. When that day finally arrives and they see his righteous vengeance executed on their enemies, who are also God’s enemies, they will enjoy their greatest comfort. They will sing for joy, as Moses did after seeing Pharaoh’s military forces of pursuers drowned in the Red Sea: “Let me sing to Jehovah, for he has become highly exalted. The horse and its rider he has pitched into the sea. My strength and my might is Jah, since he serves for my salvation. This is my God, and I shall laud him; my father’s God, and I shall raise him on high. Jehovah is a manly person of war. Jehovah is his name. Jehovah will rule as king to time indefinite, even forever.”—Ex. 15:1-3, 18; Rev. 15:3, 4.
53. What is our obligation in this still-continuing “year of good will on the part of Jehovah”?
53 It is our obligation, laid upon us by God the Creator, to help persons of every nation, tribe, tongue and people to know about and take advantage of the still-continuing “year of good will on the part of Jehovah.” Thus they may escape in that fast-approaching “day of vengeance on the part of our God.” They must be helped to know who God the Creator is, that they may learn to love him and worship and glorify him with the right kind of fear.
54. (a) For whom was this earth not meant? (b) Therefore, who will clear the world of all false worshipers, and what part do those loving righteousness play in this matter?
54 This earth was never meant by the Creator to be a place for false worshipers. It is no rightful place for religious worshipers who worship the created things and not the Creator himself. It is not our business or obligation to clear these thousands of millions of false worshipers off the face of this earth. That is the Creator’s business, for he has the right to uncreate what he has created if the creature departs from God’s way. It is his business and stated purpose to rid the earth of all the false worshipers in his “day of vengeance,” but it is our business to tell them about it in advance. We cannot help it if they do not like it. These false worshipers would be pleased to receive all the physical and material benefits that the “everlasting good news” foretells, but these false religionists are not pleased or willing to accept these everlasting physical and material benefits on God’s terms. They are unwilling to give up the false worship and broad license that their religion allows them, in order to receive the gift of everlasting life in human perfection on a glorious Paradise earth under God’s kingdom.
55. Who is the One we should want to please?
55 We can never expect to please them and have their approval for preaching the “everlasting good news” during this brief “hour” of judgment by God the Creator. It is this God the Judge whom we must please and serve, and it is his message that we must declare to those who are teachable and eager to worship the God who is real. He is the One to whom we must give glory.
56. How do the heavens and productive land declare God’s glory, and is this praise alone sufficient? Why?
56 Psalm 19:1-4 meaningfully says: “The heavens are declaring the glory of God; and of the work of his hands the expanse is telling. One day after another day causes speech to bubble forth, and one night after another night shows forth knowledge. There is no speech, and there are no words; no voice on their part is being heard. Into all the earth their measuring line has gone out, and to the extremity of the productive land their utterances.” But it is not our proper part to leave to just the speechless visible heavens and to just the glories of day and night the business of declaring God’s glory and telling of the work of his hands.
57. (a) Why do the common people today need help to appreciate God’s good news? (b) What, then, must we do when we appreciate and rejoice in the “everlasting good news”?
57 The common people of today have had their religious perceptions distorted by false religion, higher criticism of the Bible and science that is falsely called science, and so we cannot leave it to such people to look at the heavens and observe the things in the great expanse day and night and understand them correctly. We cannot expect them to read the glory of God there and call it the work of his hands. From those inanimate heavens and from the vast expanse beautified by sun, moon, stars and clouds they cannot learn God’s loving purpose for doing away with all badness and for transforming our now misused earth into an indescribably beautiful Paradise and giving the rescued worshipers of God the Creator an everlasting home there under His kingdom. God has created his written Word, the Holy Bible, to tell us and them that “everlasting good news.” We must give them God’s Word. We must help them to “obey the good news.”—Rom. 10:16, 17.
58. In this “time of the end” what is our surpassing privilege?
58 Our privilege today surpasses by far that of the shepherds on the fields of Bethlehem who long ago saw the glorious angel and heard him declare “good news of a great joy” for all the people who seek God and his goodwill. Nineteen centuries ago the apostle John saw in vision the angel flying in midheaven to declare gladly all around the earth the “everlasting good news.” Today, by God’s priceless favor, it is our privilege to take up this angel’s declaration of glad tidings and proclaim it speedily all around the earth. Obediently, lovingly, boldly doing this, we shall rejoice to see countless others from “every nation and tribe and tongue and people” turn from false religion to fear God and to give him glory. We shall rejoice to have them unite with us to worship Him our Creator for his endless vindication and for our everlasting salvation.