Making Known God’s Prophetic Truths
1. What vital information does Jehovah provide his servants? Why?
JEHOVAH GOD knows the truth about the future. He says: “Surely just as I have figured, so it must occur; and just as I have counseled, that is what will come true.” (Isa. 14:24) Those who obey him as ruler Jehovah enlightens with vital information about future events: “New things I am telling out. Before they begin to spring up, I cause you people to hear them.” (Isa. 42:9) These new things are revealed progressively: “The path of the righteous ones is like the bright light that is getting lighter and lighter until the day is firmly established.” (Prov. 4:18) This knowledge about the future strengthens the faith of God’s servants. Jesus said: “I have told you before it occurs, in order that, when it does occur, you may believe.” (John 14:29) Also, Jehovah wants his servants to know these prophetic truths so that they can take them to other persons, giving these ones the opportunity for eternal life too.—John 17:3.
2. Who should have God’s prophetic truths?
2 Previously we examined some of the main identifying marks, or the fruitage, that those who know the truth about God must bear. We have seen that Jehovah’s witnesses do bear those identifying marks. Then we should expect them to have God’s prophetic truths. Does the evidence show this? Let us examine what Jehovah’s witnesses have been saying down through the years and compare it with what has been said by the political, religious and commercial leaders of this system of things. Who has told the truth? Who today deserve our confidence as they tell of events to come in the very near future?
3. What view of world conditions was widely held before World War I?
3 In the book 1914 James Cameron describes the view that prevailed before World War I in 1914 C.E. He says: “Never before had Europe presented a face so prosperous and buoyant; . . . it was an enlightened age . . . Not only was the future full of promise; the present itself was a thing of congratulation, and if a moment’s uncertainty should intervene, the record was there for all to examine—look at the motor car, look at the Marconi telegraph, look at the flying-machine . . . War was scarcely even a speculation, . . . Western Europe had known no war for close on two generations.” The political, religious and commercial elements of this world widely accepted that view.
4, 5. What view did Jehovah’s witnesses have?
4 However, Jehovah’s witnesses held a view that was just the opposite! In the July 1879 issue of their official publication, The Watchtower (at that time known as Zion’s Watch Tower) its readers were told: “God teaches in many Scriptures that a great time of trouble will come upon the nations.” In its October issue that same year The Watchtower said: “‘Great and terrible’ things are coming upon the world—overturning of all governments, law and order—utter wreck of society.” It spoke of a “time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation.” In all the years that followed, Jehovah’s witnesses (then known as “Bible Students”) consistently preached this message, that the world was headed into the worst trouble ever. They called attention to God’s prophetic Word at Daniel 12:1, which spoke of “a time of distress such as has not been made to occur since there came to be a nation until that time.” They noted Jesus’ prophecy that “then there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.”—Matt. 24:21.
5 From Bible chronology, Jehovah’s witnesses as far back as 1877 pointed to the year 1914 as one of great significance. The Watchtower as of March 1880 said: “‘The Times of the Gentiles’ extend to 1914, and the heavenly kingdom [of God] will not have full sway till then.” While they were not yet clear on just what the details would be, in the nearly four decades preceding 1914 they sounded the warning that the future for this present system would not be one of peace, security and prosperity for mankind, but that in 1914 the world would come to the greatest time of trouble ever. In 1897 the book The Battle of Armageddon, (at first entitled “The Day of Vengeance”) published by Jehovah’s witnesses, said that this trouble would be “more general and widespread, and more destructive, as the machinery of modern warfare signally suggests. Instead of being confined to one nation or province, its sweep will be over the whole world, especially the civilized world, Christendom.”
6. Whose view was proved to be the truth by the events that began in 1914?
6 The momentous year of 1914 came, and with it World War I, the most widespread upheaval in history up to that time. It brought unprecedented slaughter, famine, pestilence and overthrow of governments. The world did not expect such horrible events as took place. But Jehovah’s witnesses did expect such things, and others acknowledged that they did. On August 30, 1914, the New York World said: “The terrific war outbreak in Europe has fulfilled an extraordinary prophecy. For a quarter of a century past, through preachers and through press, the ‘International Bible Students’ . . . have been proclaiming to the world that the Day of Wrath prophesied in the Bible would dawn in 1914. ‘Look out for 1914!’ has been the cry of the . . . evangelists.”
7. How did Jehovah’s witnesses know these things?
7 How could Jehovah’s witnesses have known so far in advance what world leaders themselves did not know? Only by God’s holy spirit making such prophetic truths known to them. True, some today claim that those events were not that hard to predict, since mankind has long known various troubles. But if those events were not hard to predict, then why were not all the politicians, religious leaders and economic experts doing so? Why were they telling the people the opposite? And why did they persecute Jehovah’s witnesses for telling things that were later seen to be the truth?
PREACHING THE TRUTH AFTER WORLD WAR I
8. What view of the future prevailed after World War I?
8 World War I ended in 1918. What then? Once more the leading elements of this world began to predict a future of peace, security and prosperity. In Saturday Review of November 9, 1968, professor of history Henry Steele Commager, noting that World War I had been fought to “make the world safe for democracy,” stated: “Surely the world had a right to exult when this greatest and most terrible of wars dragged to its weary end. Militarism had been crushed, aggression frustrated, tyranny ended, injustice rectified, democracy vindicated, and peace assured; for now, after centuries of yearning and striving, men of good will had set up a league to preserve peace. No more wars, no more tyranny—mankind had at last sailed into the safe harbors of peace.” When the League of Nations was established, some of the clergy of Christendom even hailed it as the ‘political expression of God’s kingdom on earth.’
9, 10. What was the message of Jehovah’s witnesses after World War I?
9 However, what were Jehovah’s witnesses saying? Again, just the opposite! The March 1, 1919, issue of The Watch Tower declared: “Lasting relief to suffering humanity will come neither through human uplift nor through socialism nor through governmental regulation nor through any league of nations, however desirable such an arrangement might be, but only through the power of the Christ, Jesus and his church, bringing order out of chaos by the establishment of the universal kingdom of peace and righteousness. . . . As men come to realize, through troublous experiences now upon the earth, the futility of lasting happiness amidst human selfishness and depravity, the number of those who will long to welcome back the King will increase. They will come to appreciate that the eradication of selfishness from the earth is a work for the great heavenly Physician, far beyond the power of imperfect mortal man.”
10 From 1919 onward Jehovah’s witnesses began the most widespread preaching campaign in the history of the world. They warned that this wicked system of things had entered its “last days.” They preached with growing force and numbers that world conditions would continue to deteriorate until God crushed out of existence the entire wicked system of things, replacing all governments of man with one government of God, his heavenly kingdom under Christ. (Dan. 2:44) They highlighted the Bible’s teaching that God’s kingdom is man’s only sure hope for lasting peace and eternal life.—Matt. 6:10.
11, 12. Who proved to be the truth teller?
11 Now that more than a half century has passed since World War I, who has proved to be the teller of truth? Were the predictions of the political, religious and commercial elements correct? No, they were not. Professor Commager shows what actually took place, saying: “Fifty years after the armistice that was to make the world safe for democracy, men ‘who could control the great globe itself’ are unable to control themselves. . . . Rarely in history have such high hopes been dashed so low . . . Nineteen-eighteen did not usher in the millennium, it ushered in a half century of conflict—turbulence, war, revolution, desolation, and ruin on a scale never before seen or even imagined. . . . The era which was to have seen the end of war ushered in instead the most terrible of wars, which rose to a climacteric in the most terrible of weapons; the era which was to have seen the triumph of democracy saw instead the triumph of tyranny . . . How can we explain this long succession of blunders and tragedies almost without parallel in history?”
12 They could not explain it. But Jehovah’s witnesses explained it, truthfully—before it happened, while it happened, and after it happened. No, not by their own intelligence, but by being forewarned from God’s Word of truth and directed by his holy spirit they could tell truth seekers where this world was headed. In 1925 C.E. they made known that after the beginning of the “last days” in 1914 great trouble was due because, after a war in heaven, “down the great dragon was hurled, the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth . . . Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.”—Rev. 12:9-12.
TRUTH ABOUT MATERIALISM
13. What contrasting outlooks were held regarding materialism?
13 For nearly a century Jehovah’s witnesses have warned those seeking to obey God as ruler not to put their trust in material wealth but to be content with life’s necessities, for that is what the Bible says. (Matt. 6:11, 33, 34) Repeatedly they pointed out the Bible’s teaching that financial wealth was not truly satisfying or secure, and that it would go out of existence with this system of things. Yet, all during that time the world’s economic experts were promoting one scheme after another promising financial security.
14. What has actually taken place?
14 With what results? In 1929 the worst economic depression in history began. And a measure of relief came only when the nations began borrowing and spending to finance World War II. What has been the economic situation since World War II? True, there has been an apparent increase in material prosperity in several countries, but much of this has been the result of deficit financing, going into debt to buy things. How genuine and secure is such prosperity? The publication entitled The Amazing Dollar in Action, published in 1969, states: “Never, in the past 18 years, have innocent owners of currencies been subjected to such gigantic losses of monetary value as during the past twelve months. . . . There is not one case in the history of [the] past 50 years that a government or other type of loan has been redeemed in the purchasing power in which the buyer acquired it. And all interest payments by savings and commercial banks, as well as most dividends, have been wiped out during the past 28 years by taxes and loss of purchasing power.” Concerning just one of many recent economic disturbances the New York Times of November 24, 1968, reported: “The Western world struggled last week with a monetary crisis that shook the basic financial and political assumptions of the post-war period. . . . in the last year there has been a series of near-catastrophes in what is meant to be a system assuring stability. . . . It was a nightmare week for the world’s financial experts.”
15. Will the future prove to be better for this world’s materialism and its supporters?
15 None of this economic difficulty has surprised those who have been obeying God as ruler. They have expected such things. And they believed that the worst economic collapse ever would come, on the principle set out in this text: “Into the streets they will throw their very silver, and an abhorrent thing their own gold will become. Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them in the day of Jehovah’s fury.” (Ezek. 7:19) It will happen just as God’s Word says: “The one trusting in his riches—he himself will fall; but just like foliage the righteous ones will flourish.”—Prov. 11:28.
THE TRUTH ABOUT SCIENCE
16. How have events verified the view of Jehovah’s servants regarding science?
16 During this century science has been hailed as a savior. It was claimed that it would provide the technology to subdue the earth and provide plenty and comfort for all. However, Jehovah’s witnesses warned that, despite good intentions and some benefits, science was a false hope because it could not solve mankind’s problems. Has this been so? Professor Commager states: “At the end of a generation of unparalleled advance in science and technology, mankind found hunger more widespread, violence more ruthless, and life more insecure than at any time in the century. Nor was this disappointment confined to the backward peoples of the globe: Even in America, which boasted almost limitless resources and the most advanced technology, poverty was familiar in millions of households, white as well as black; cities decayed, the countryside despoiled, air and streams polluted; lawlessness, official and private, was contagious; and war and the threat of war filled the minds of men with hatred and fear.” And now, others are beginning to recognize the truth of what Jehovah’s witnesses have said, for U.S. News & World Report of February 9, 1970, noted: “Scientists, after reaping admiration for the leaps in technology that they have accomplished in recent decades, now find themselves fending off brickbats. People in growing numbers seem to feel that scientific research is creating more problems than it is solving. . . . Criticism . . . has reached a point where many of the nation’s leading scientists are profoundly worried.”
17, 18. Has medical science been able to change the truths contained in the Bible regarding sickness and death?
17 What about the accomplishments in the field of medical science? Many claimed that it would provide the answers to man’s sick and dying condition. As evidence they proudly pointed out that man’s life-span has been greatly lengthened in recent times. Has it? Scientific American of March 1968 said: “The common impression that modern medicine has lengthened the human life-span is not supported by either vital statistics or biological evidence. To be sure, the 20th-century advances in control of infectious diseases and of certain other causes of death have improved the longevity of the human population as a whole. These accomplishments in medicine and public health, however, have merely extended the average life expectancy by allowing more people to reach the upper limit, which for the general run of mankind still seems to be approximately the Biblical fourscore years. . . . The aging of such normal cell populations is apparently due to an intrinsic process, not a deficiency in growing conditions.”
18 While men are to be commended for sincere efforts to help the sick and dying, the truth is that nothing has changed: man still gets sick and dies. And his lifespan is about the same as it was when, centuries ago, God’s Word declared: “The days of our years are seventy years; and if because of special mightiness they are eighty years, yet their insistence is on trouble and hurtful things; for it must quickly pass by, and away we fly.” (Ps. 90:10) Man, by his own efforts, cannot overcome sickness and death. It is still true that “through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men.” (Rom. 5:12) Not men, but God will bring permanent healing of body and mind by means of his kingdom under Christ.—Rev. 21:3, 4.
THE RELIGIOUS SITUATION
19, 20. What have Jehovah’s servants expected regarding this world’s religions?
19 What has been the truth about the world’s religious situation, particularly that of Christendom? In November 1879 The Watch Tower stated: “Every church claiming to be a chaste virgin espoused to Christ, but in reality united to and supported by the world . . . we must condemn as being in scripture language a harlot church. . . . Yes we believe the nominal church of today to be the Babylon of our text, which falls. . . . The fall we expect will not be instantaneous; it will have a beginning and will gather momentum as it falls until it is dashed to pieces.” While it was not clear at that time just how this would come about, forewarned by God’s prophetic truths concerning false religion, Jehovah’s servants told their hearers to get out of this world’s religions, for these religions were not serving God and would receive his adverse judgments.
20 The church systems did not believe this and brought repeated persecution against Jehovah’s witnesses. Indeed, in the 1950’s they experienced what seemed to be a revival of religious interest. Then the Vatican Council in the 1960’s was hailed by religious leaders as a great step toward unifying and strengthening the churches. But all during this time Jehovah’s witnesses continued to sound the warning that these worldly religions would go out of business, and very soon.
21. What is the truth about false religion today?
21 The evidence is now very clear that what Jehovah’s witnesses were saying was the truth. They indeed had the guidance of God’s holy spirit all the time. Now, all authorities admit that the religions of this world are in deep trouble. They are being abandoned by increasing numbers of people and clergy alike, with financial support dropping. As the New York Times of March 25, 1969, noted: “Institutional religion is on the way out, a German expert on the sociology of religion said today.” This ferment in religion prompted an editorial in the New York Post of March 14, 1969, to say: “The area in which the old order seems to be reeling past us with the speed of light is religion. . . . How far this religious revolution will go nobody dares say.” But Jehovah’s witnesses have been saying it—with growing force, and for more than ninety years now!
CONFIDENTLY FACING THE FUTURE
22, 23. (a) Why is the anguish of nations today not shared by Jehovah’s servants? (b) What will those who know God’s prophetic truths continue to do?
22 So in all fields of human endeavor there are the unmistakable signs of deterioration. The nations are in the precise condition foretold by Jesus when he said of our day: “And on the earth anguish of nations, not knowing the way out because of the roaring of the sea and its agitation, while men become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth.” (Luke 21:25, 26) But this anguish of heart is not shared by Jehovah’s servants, for Jesus also said: “As these things start to occur, raise yourselves erect and lift your heads up, because your deliverance is getting near.”—Luke 21:28.
23 The hope of those who have been making known such prophetic truths from God gets brighter even while conditions deteriorate in the old system of things. Why so? Because these servants of God know that all this means that “the world is passing away and so is its desire, but he that does the will of God remains forever.” (1 John 2:17) They look ahead with growing faith and confidence to a marvelous future in God’s new order after the end of this wicked system, fortified by the knowledge that God’s prophetic truths they have been upholding have come to pass and will continue to do so. Never will they forsake God’s precious prophetic truths for the vain promises of those who promote this system of things. They heed the counsel of the apostle Paul: “Be blameless and innocent, children of God without a blemish in among a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you are shining as illuminators in the world, keeping a tight grip on the word of life.”—Phil. 2:15, 16.
24. In view of the time, what is the most rewarding thing anyone can do?
24 There are many honest-hearted persons who do not yet know the truth about God and his purposes. They are distressed at what they see taking place in the world, but do not know which way to turn. They too need the truth that comes from God. But the hour is very late for this dying system. Appreciate the urgency of the times and take the time, yes, make the time, to spread the truth to others. There is nothing you could do at this time in human history that could be more rewarding. Why so? Because God’s Word promises: “Pay constant attention to yourself and to your teaching. Stay by these things, for by doing this you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.”—1 Tim. 4:16.