Make Up Your Mind Now as to Whom You Will Serve
WE ARE living at a time when men are becoming more and more definite as to how they stand on issues. Issues are more clearly drawn and men are quicker to express themselves, often violently, in supporting their cause. Pressure is applied to induce or force others to manifest themselves as to the position they take.
This situation is especially noticeable in the field of worship. The issue is becoming sharper. In the past people were reluctant to challenge God or religion, but now they are bold in proclaiming their atheistic and evolutionary theories. This puts a special responsibility on those who do believe in God. But there are many, especially in the churches of Christendom, who have a vacillating, weak-kneed or apathetic attitude. Their faith is practically gone.
In view of how the state of affairs stands today, if there is any love of righteousness in a person’s heart, he cannot continue to stay in the churches of Christendom or in any of the non-Christian religious organizations. Why not? Because the leaders thereof are declaring that “God is dead,” they are approving homosexuality, free love, lawlessness and disrespect of authority. If one claims to be a servant of God and does not get out and declare himself against these practices and the organizations that condone and even approve them, then he is no servant of God at all. He may as well go the whole way with the crowd that is against God, for he will die with them soon when the living God and Universal Sovereign violently manifests his stand on the issue.
God is letting affairs develop to the point where those not serving him are becoming wholly corrupt and deserving of nothing but destruction. God tells us that they become “empty-headed in their reasonings,” given up to uncleanness, “that their bodies might be dishonored among them.” They have “exchanged the truth of God for the lie and venerated and rendered sacred service to the creation rather than the One who created . . . That is why God gave them up to disgraceful sexual appetites, . . . working what is obscene and receiving in themselves the full recompense, which was due for their error.” Yes, they are reaping the fruits of loathsome diseases, mental breakdown and violence, leaving only their execution at God’s hands to clear the earth of them.—Rom. 1:18-32.
“DO NOT TREAT PROPHESYINGS WITH CONTEMPT”
One who claims to be a Christian, a dedicated servant of Almighty God, and who then goes along with the world and its corrupt, godless course is not only partaking of its corruption but, adding to such sins, he is treating prophesyings with contempt. (1 Thess. 5:20) He is ignoring all the words that God has caused to be uttered through the mouths of His prophets and spokesmen. Such a professed Christian has these words from the God he claims to serve; he has the Bible, but ignores it in favor of men’s ideas, which appeal to his selfish desires. To do this is to insult God, to be a hypocrite and more reprehensible than the unbelievers. It is a suicidal course, doubly incurring the burning anger of God.
Some may say, But what can I do? Where can I go to serve God? First, you should get out without delay from the false religious system of Babylon the Great, that is, Babylonlike false religious organizations that defame God’s name. (Rev. 18:4) If you wait you will eventually suffer complete loss of faith in God. Furthermore, the prophecies state that God is going to execute judgment. The final opportunity is here for those who wish to save their lives.
WHERE TO SERVE GOD
There is a place to which to flee. There is a body of people who really serve God and who observe his prophecies. Jesus foretold them when he said he would appoint a “faithful and discreet slave” to give his people spiritual food at the proper time and that he would appoint this “slave” over all his belongings. You can find this “slave” class in the organization of the modern-day Christian witnesses of Jehovah.—Matt. 24:45-47.
In the last chapter 22 of the book of Revelation, the command is given: “Worship God.” And then the apostle John, the writer of the Revelation, evidently refers to Jesus Christ himself, saying: “He [Jesus] also tells me: ‘Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this scroll, for the appointed time is near.”’ (Rev. 22:9, 10) The prophecy of Revelation is powerful and most important to listen to now. (Rev. 1:1-3) God’s servants are commanded not to seal up the words of the prophecy of this scroll. This command has been obeyed by Jehovah’s witnesses.
In the very first issue of their official magazine, which began publication July 1879, and was then known as Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence, a goodly number of comments were made on this last book of the Bible in the article “Why Will There Be a Second Advent?” Since that time, in all their publications they have quoted copiously and freely from the book of Revelation and have offered an explanation of it. The Finished Mystery, published in 1917 by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, was a running commentary on the entire Revelation to John. In 1930, two volumes entitled “Light” were published, which brought a more up-to-date explanation of the Revelation, and very recently, in 1963, the book “Babylon the Great Has Fallen!” God’s Kingdom Rules!, a book of 704 pages. This provides an extensive and detailed commentary on Revelation, chapters 14 to 22 particularly.
All these publications have received worldwide distribution and have not been revised or altered to please the religious beliefs nor the customs and practices of different peoples of earth. No, the unadulterated truth of the prophecy has been proclaimed to all.
A SHARP DIVISION
Christ Jesus next shows that two groups emerge in the judgment: “He that is doing unrighteousness, let him do unrighteousness still; and let the filthy one be made filthy still; but let the righteous one do righteousness still, and let the holy one be made holy still.” (Rev. 22:11) These commands are not urgent appeals to those practicing unrighteousness to repent and to clean up. Rather, the thought is, let them go ahead in the course that they have pursued, if that is what they want. If a bad course, let them know that they will get their due recompense for this course, at the latest when the Lord Jesus comes to fight “the war of the great day of God the Almighty.”—Rev. 16:14.
Jehovah considers holy those who have made a dedication to him through Jesus Christ and who are practicing righteousness. His name is upon them. If one of these makes a practice of unrighteousness, he is therefore bringing reproach on Jehovah’s name. Consequently, he is of no value to Jehovah or to his fellowman and will lose all the credit that he has built up in previous righteousness and holiness. (Ezek. 18:24) On the other hand, if a man has practiced corrupt things, but turns from these to become a dedicated servant of God, if he keeps on in righteousness and holiness, he will at last have an accumulated credit with God. “He will positively keep living,” is the utterance of the Lord Jehovah.—Ezek. 18:5-9, 21, 22.
Jehovah God himself next speaks to John, revealing the critical situation, the extreme danger if any one of God’s anointed ones becomes lax in the least way toward righteousness. Jehovah says: “Look! I am coming quickly, and the reward I give is with me, to render to each one as his work is.”—Rev. 22:12.
So now is no time for one who is in the way of holiness to be walking uncertainly or seeing how close he can come to the borderline of righteousness, toying with or even contemplating the idea of immorality or wrongdoing. He is like a man walking on the crumbling edge of a cliff. Jehovah God, sitting in judgment, accompanied by his Son Jesus Christ, is a God who cannot tolerate unrighteousness in his presence. There is no appeal from his judicial decisions, for he is the last resort, the Alpha and the Omega, figuratively speaking. (Hab. 1:13; Rev. 1:8; compare Deuteronomy 23:14.) Jesus Christ as Judge merely executes the judgments of Jehovah “the Judge of all.” (Heb. 12:23) He spares only those who are unswervingly determined to hold on unswervingly to their course of righteousness.
God the Almighty has taken his power and begun ruling as King, and the time is here for him to reward his slaves the prophets and the holy ones and those bearing his name and to bring to ruin those ruining the earth. (Rev. 11:17, 18) Jehovah’s “coming” for execution of judgment upon his foes is very quick in the sense that it is only a few short years ahead, and it will seem exceedingly short to those who are caught wandering off the way of righteousness as in the dark, as if they were asleep. If they should die while practicing filthy things, the judgment will have caught up with them then, for they will receive no resurrection.
KEEP PROVING WHAT YOU ARE
Let no one think that he is an exception. Everyone must watch what he is doing, because God is absolutely just and thoroughly impartial and renders to each one only according to what his work is. Even if we do not knowingly carry on any bad practices, we should nonetheless carefully examine what our works are, to be sure that we are not approving ourselves by claiming or professing to be what we are not. (1 Cor. 4:4) Remember, “the word of God is alive and exerts power and is sharper than any two-edged sword and pierces even to the dividing of soul and spirit, and of joints and their marrow, and is able to discern thoughts and intentions of the heart.”—Heb. 4:12.
We should keep checking up on ourselves by his Word. (2 Cor. 13:5) We may feel that we have the right spirit or mental inclination, but is our soul, that is, the life we live, measuring up to God’s standard and are we really guided by Jehovah’s spirit? Are our works those that will endure? (1 Cor. 3:12-15) What we are will be clearly brought into the open, for “there is not a creation that is not manifest to his sight, but all things are naked and openly exposed to the eyes of him with whom we have an accounting,” (Heb. 4:13) We should keep in mind that “Jehovah knows those who belong to him,” and: “Let everyone naming the name of Jehovah renounce unrighteousness.” (2 Tim. 2:19) We cannot deceive Jehovah, and he lets our works actually show what we really are so that there is no excuse for us, and so that all others can see it. We may deceive ourselves, but we cannot fool God as the final Judge.
JEHOVAH PROVED TO BE THE ONLY TRUE GOD
Jehovah goes on to say: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (Rev. 22:13) Those who have studied the Bible along with world history know that this fact was proved beyond doubt centuries ago. No God has existed before him and none have been able to establish themselves as God Almighty after him. Neither is he a God that is invented by his worshipers. He is the Creator, the God of Israel and of Jesus Christ and the God of Christians. (John 20:17; Rom. 3:29) If we do not treat prophesyings with contempt, we will appreciate reading what Jehovah said over 2,600 years ago, over 800 years before the book of Revelation was written: “This is what Jehovah has said, . . . ‘I am the first and I am the last, and besides me there is no God.’” (Isa. 44:6, 7) “To no one else shall I give my own glory. Listen to me, O Jacob, and you Israel my called one. I am the same One. I am the first. Moreover, I am the last.”—Isa. 48:11, 12; 41:4.
In the past Jehovah has fought against other gods and shown his superiority, and what gods have ever been able to stand or remain before him? He showed the gods of Egypt, Assyria, Babylon and of all the other nations to be impotent. And where are those gods today? They are remembered only as relics of the dim past. Only a few know of them at all. But Jehovah’s name lives to be more prominent than ever today. Jehovah will soon exercise power to show that he is the beginning and the end in the controversy over godship. The present-day gods, science, evolution, Communism and nationalism, he will bring to an end, proving them all to be false gods. He will also humiliate the worshipers of such gods and will reveal Jehovah’s witnesses to be truthful in representing Him as the only true God.
ADMISSION TO THE HOLY CITY
Jehovah now focuses attention on the faithful 144,000 followers of Christ who have heavenly hopes and who have accepted the sacrifice of Jesus Christ and have by faith been loosed from their sins by means of his blood so that they may appear free from sin in God’s sight. (Rev. 1:5; 1 John 1:7) He says: “Happy are those who wash their robes, that the authority to go to the trees of life may be theirs and that they may gain entrance into the city by its gates.” (Rev. 22:14) This is a heavenly city. These who have remained faithful to the end, becoming conquerors, have been baptized into Christ and into his death and have completed that baptism, dying a death of integrity like his and being resurrected in the spirit. The paradise here spoken of is, of course, not literal, but symbolic. The faithful overcomers are granted to eat of the “trees of life.” This denotes their being given the right and title to enjoy immortal life forever in the heavenly paradise of God.—1 Cor. 15:44, 52-54.
The city into which they enter, the holy city New Jerusalem, has twelve angels on guard at its twelve gates of pearl. These angelic guards recognize who these 144,000 faithful spiritual Israelites are and let them enter into the golden city. But for those in whom any form of unrighteousness is found entry is impossible, just as Adam and Eve could by no means get past the flaming sword of the angelic guards stationed at the east of the earthly garden of Eden to reach the tree of life in the middle of the garden.—Rev. 21:12, 13, 18; Gen. 2:9; 3:24.
THE UNDESIRABLES WHO ARE KEPT OUT
Take notice, please, who are the ones against whom Jehovah the Almighty God’s anger burns and who in his sight are detestable and filthy. Their end will be in the symbolic lake that burns with fire and sulphur, that is, the second death. (Rev. 21:8) The kind of persons described are even today receiving the approval of the clergy of Christendom, many of the clergy being themselves such ones. Revelation names them, saying: “Outside are the dogs and those who practice spiritism and the fornicators and the murderers and the idolaters and everyone liking and carrying on a lie.”—Rev. 22:15.
Outside the city, like scavenger dogs of the streets, are those who practice homosexuality, sodomy, Lesbianism, viciousness and cruelty. (Deut. 23:18; Ps. 22:16, 20; Matt. 7:6; Phil. 3:2) Spiritists, who get in touch with the demons, are excluded from the city. This would include astrologers, fortune-tellers and necromancers. Mentioned also right along with such are the adulteresses, the harlots and the men who commit sexual immorality with them, the murderers and haters, whose hatred is equivalent to actual murder.—1 John 3:15; Deut. 19:4.
Kept outside also are the idolaters, who give their allegiance to or attribute their salvation to either a literal idol or a symbolic one such as the “wild beast” and its image or who use religious statues in a form of so-called “relative worship.” Materialists and those who degrade their bodies and minds in the cult of hallucinatory drugs such as LSD are left to wallow in the corruption they prefer. Magazines and newspapers that give favorable publicity to such persons, making them appear respectable, are “carrying on a lie.” Those who look to personalities or to nationalism for salvation or who support a system built on lies find themselves barred from Jehovah’s clean governmental “city.”
ROOT OF DAVID AND MORNING STAR
Frequently it is those who consider themselves wise in this system of things who uphold and practice the things described above and who even advocate such practice by others. Why, then, should we believe what Revelation says? For the reason that its source of information is the highest. John is told next: “I, Jesus, sent my angel to bear witness to you people of these things for the congregations. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright morning star.” (Rev. 22:16) He is “the faithful and true witness” and the One whom the Almighty God of the universe has set as the Leader and Commander of the peoples.—Rev. 1:5; 3:14; Isa. 55:3, 4; Gen. 49:10.
Jesus Christ was an earthly offspring of ancient King David of Jerusalem. He is called “the root of David” because he is the important descendant of King David in whom the genealogy from Abraham through David really ends. (Rev. 5:5) No Jew today can prove descent from David. Jesus Christ was designated by God as the One whom he approved as David’s heir to take the throne of the Kingdom. (Ezek. 21:27; Matt. 3:17; Acts 2:29, 30, 36) In fact, the underlying reason for bringing the house of David into existence was to produce the Messiah. That has been accomplished. Jesus being the permanent heir, the One who possesses the throne forever, the line of David is really rooted in him.
He is also the “star” foretold at Numbers 24:17. In ancient Judah the kings of Judah were looked upon as “stars of God,” for they sat on “Jehovah’s throne.” (1 Chron. 29:23) The king of Babylon felt that he had permanently lifted his own material throne up above the royal “stars of God” when he took Zedekiah of the line of David off the throne in 607 B.C.E. Neither ancient Babylon nor its modern counterpart Babylon the Great prevented God, in his due time, from causing this “bright morning star,” Jesus Christ, to rise out of the house of David and sit on a throne infinitely higher than that of mighty King Nebuchadnezzar of ancient Babylon. (Isa. 14:4, 12, 13) Babylon the Great has sat as a queen on a throne, but she is to be overthrown completely and Jesus Christ must reign forever, not on an earthly throne as did David, but on a heavenly throne as King like Melchizedek forever. The 144,000, by sticking to their faithfulness, receive the reward of being associated with him, the “morning star,” in the heavenly Kingdom. In this way he will “give” such ones “the morning star.”—Rev. 18:7; 2:26-28.
God’s requirements for his heavenly kingdom government emphasize the cleanness and respectability of that government. The requirements for those who will get life under that government can be no less righteous and lofty. Therefore, everyone who serves Jehovah God, whether it be with heavenly hopes as one of God’s 144,000 spiritual Israelites or as a member of the “great crowd” of “other sheep,” with hopes of living in a new order on a paradise earth under the Kingdom, must keep the determination made at his dedication to follow a course of strict righteousness. There is no time to waste. There is no time to dabble in unrighteousness or to strain our relations with Jehovah God by even so much as thinking of an unrighteous course. The judgment is on and the Great Judge is determining eternal outcomes on the basis of our works. Therefore, every one of God’s people must say, with the firm determination of ancient Judge Joshua: “As for me and my household, we shall serve Jehovah.” They must reply like the people answered Joshua: “Jehovah our God we shall serve, and to his voice we shall listen!”—Josh. 24:15, 24.