‘Keep Close in Mind the Presence of the Day of Jehovah’
“What sort of persons ought you to be . . . awaiting and keeping close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah.”—2 Pet. 3:11, 12.
1. What is the “day of Jehovah,” and why should we be giving serious thought to it now?
A TIME of accounting draws near for all mankind. It is a time when divine judgment will be executed against the wicked, also a time of deliverance for the righteous. All persons then alive will be called to account for the way they have used their lives, whether with selfish disregard for the will of God and the welfare of their fellowmen or with loving obedience to God and unselfish concern for fellow humans. Because it will be a time of settling accounts on the part of the true God, the coming time period is referred to in the Bible as the “day of Jehovah.” It deserves our serious concern.—Zeph. 2:2, 3.
2, 3. What attitude toward the “day of Jehovah” did the apostle Peter urge all Christians to have?
2 Do you have the presence of the day of Jehovah close in mind? Do you keep it there? Is it a reality to you? The apostle Peter felt that way. He encouraged all Christians to have that attitude. In the Bible, at 2 Peter 3:11-13, he wrote: “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion, awaiting and keeping close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah, through which the heavens being on fire will be dissolved and the elements being intensely hot will melt! But there are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.”
3 Are you keeping close in mind that fiery day of Jehovah? Is it so real to you that you can see it clearly, immediately ahead of you? According to The Kingdom Interlinear Translation of the Greek Scriptures, that expression “keeping close in mind” is “speeding up.” So we should not be slowing it down, that is, not looking at Jehovah’s day as a long way off and putting it off.
4. Why would it result in serious loss to us if we failed to keep Jehovah’s day close in mind?
4 This attitude is a necessary one for all Christians, at all times, regardless of when Jehovah’s “day” arrives. Why? The apostle Paul answers, “for the scene of this world is changing.” (1 Cor. 7:31) It is like the changing scene on a stage, which, though appearing glamorous, is soon succeeded by another scene, with different settings and different actors, so that there is nothing permanent. (Eccl. 1:4) Why, then, should the Christian, who has the hope of life everlasting in a permanent world of real values, spend his time and his life energies on a transitory, passing thing? As stated at 1 John 2:17, ‘this world is passing away.’ It will soon go completely out of the picture, forever. Do you believe that?
THE ATTITUDE OF THE APOSTLES
5, 6. How did the apostles by their attitude toward Christ and his kingdom set a fine example for us?
5 If we keep alert and in tune with what Jehovah is doing, we are always sharers in great blessings. On the other hand, we are in danger if we develop an attitude of skepticism toward the things pointed out to us by the “faithful and discreet slave,” that composite Christian body through which Jesus Christ provides spiritual food for his disciples. We can find ourselves in a situation where we are like stragglers in an army column, easily picked off by the enemy.—Matt. 24:45.
6 The desire not to miss out on anything that God would provide was the attitude Christ’s apostles had. When they asked Jesus, “What will be the sign of your presence?” they did not know that his future presence would be invisible. (Matt. 24:3) Even after his resurrection, they asked: “Lord, are you restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?” (Acts 1:6) They looked for a visible restoring of it. However, their inquiry showed that they were keeping in mind God’s kingdom by Christ as being close. They looked forward to having an official share in that kingdom. They were not like the unbelieving Jews who saw Jesus visibly among them in the flesh and yet did not recognize that he was the promised Messiah, that ‘the kingdom of God was in their midst.’ (Luke 17:21) Jesus had all the credentials of the Messiah. He came in the way the Scriptures foretold. But those Jews did not accept him. They stumbled over him. Why?
7, 8. Why did the scribes and Pharisees fail to accept Jesus as the promised Messiah?
7 They were proud and materialistic. They loved the praise and approval of men more than that of God. Jesus told them plainly: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you resemble whitewashed graves, which outwardly indeed appear beautiful but inside are full of dead men’s bones and of every sort of uncleanness. . . . [You] appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matt. 23:27, 28) He told his disciples that those religious leaders did all their works to be viewed by men, loving the most prominent places and wanting public adoration. They were lovers of money, but they did not love God.—Luke 16:14.
8 With this attitude it was impossible for the Jewish clergy to accept Jesus as the Messiah. Though Christ was right there before them, in the flesh, performing the most wonderful cures, their eyes were blind. Being in this state of mind and heart, they were disappointed in Jesus because their selfishness caused them to look for the wrong things, according to the standards of the world.—John 5:39-44; Isa. 8:14, 15; Matt. 13:57.
9. How would our spiritual condition be affected if, in our mind and heart, we were to put off the presence of Jehovah’s day?
9 We today must not become materialistic like them. It is extremely dangerous to allow ourselves to fall into a sleepy, apathetic condition, in our mind and heart ‘putting off’ the presence of the fiery day of Jehovah. If we do, we will fail to discern God’s leadings, his directives for us. We will fail to get to know him, appreciating his fine characteristics. A drowsy attitude will cause us not to see clearly what needs to be done in the service of God. We will not ever ‘be ready’ for or wanting the “day of Jehovah” to come. We will be off balance so that we may be caught unawares when that “day” arrives.—1 Thess. 5:2-5.
WHAT WORLD CONDITIONS INDICATE
10. (a) In what way is our time marked by Bible chronology? (b) What view do world leaders take of the critical situations facing mankind?
10 Bible chronology definitely marks the time in which we live as being of great importance. The “appointed times of the nations,” extending from 607 B.C.E. to 1914 C.E., have ended. (Luke 21:24) Six thousand years of human history are soon to end. In the light of these facts, what we see happening to the world is very significant. To what conclusion does it point? World conditions give strong testimony of the closeness of the end. For one thing, now, for the first time, even the world leaders have recognized world destruction as a real possibility. They agree that an all-out nuclear war would be so deadly that there could be no winners, only losers. However, many, particularly the scientists, say that there is even greater danger from worldwide pollution, and also from the “population explosion,” with the widespread famine, disease and unrest that it threatens to bring. A report in the Washington Post stated: “Suddenly in any number of disparate countries—the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union, India, Japan—influential men have sensed an impending danger unlike any in human experience.” These men recognize that, even though mankind might survive the impending crises one at a time, they could not survive if all, or even several of them, hit at once. In every field—war, population growth, ecology, crime, famine, disease, unrest—there is the potential for destruction, and all of them could explode simultaneously.
11. (a) Why is it unreasonable to expect technology to solve the problems? (b) Why will world destruction not come from the sources that men fear? (c) As shown in the Bible, when will the “great tribulation” strike?
11 While some say that modern technology can and will solve the problems, what is technology doing? Has it not shared responsibility for the worsening situation, particularly in the areas of war and pollution? And even if technology could solve these problems, will it do so? No, there is too much selfishness among people, too many selfish interests that block efforts to remedy the bad situation. Yet the foretold destruction will not come from the sources that men fear. The present world system will not collapse on its own. Now that its complete failure is clearly evident, Jehovah’s own time is at hand to annihilate it. And this time he clearly marked in his Word long ago. Unmistakably, the Bible pinpoints 1914 C.E. as the time when the “kingdom of the world” became the kingdom of the Lord God and of his Christ. Before the generation that was then alive passes off the scene, the “great tribulation” will strike.—Rev. 11:15; Dan. 4:10-17; Matt. 24:21, 34.
12. What developments show a decline in the influence of worldly religion in many places?
12 Events in the field of religion are also of keen interest to students of God’s Word. Many are leaving the priesthood and the ministry, and churches are closing. But it is not merely the closing of churches, the loss of members in many places, and the resigning of clergymen that portend the destruction of world religion, as if it were going to collapse on its own. There is more to it.
13. What led to the desolation of Jerusalem and its religious system in 70 C.E.?
13 Consider this: What really brought God’s anger resulting in the desolation of Jerusalem and its religious system in the year 70 C.E.? It was their rejection of God’s Word, which led to all sorts of moral corruption. Also, their spurning of God’s Son as the Messiah and their choosing instead to put their trust in Caesar. (Matt. 15:1-9; John 19:14-16) Jerusalem’s end was fully deserved. Are Christendom’s clergy today any better? No, they are counterparts of those corrupt religious leaders of ancient Jerusalem.
14. How has the clergy’s rejection of the Bible as God’s inspired Word influenced their outlook on morals?
14 They too have rejected the Bible as God’s inspired Word. In some cases they have openly labeled parts of it as “myth.” But that is not all. Listen to just a few from among the many headlines that have appeared in the public press. From Australia: “Minister Urges Church to Bless Homosexuals.” From New York city: “Is Homosexuality Wicked? Episcopal Priests Say No.” From Sweden: “Ease Sex Rule, Say Clergy.” From London: “Bishop Wants Sex Made Legal at 14.” This is what happens when people turn away from the Word of God.
15. In what ways have Christendom’s clergy demonstrated their rejection of God’s Messianic Kingdom?
15 Their rejection of God’s Messianic kingdom in the hands of his Son is also a matter of record. Like the Pharisees, Christendom’s clergy have put their trust in the governments of men. They are on hand to pray when presidents and kings take office. Chaplains bless the troops as they go to war. And they are willing and eager to point to the United Nations organization as the means by which mankind will gain the peace and security that only God’s Messianic kingdom can bring.
16. So, rather than the mere declining of church attendance, what things make certain that Christendom’s destruction is near at hand?
16 These are only a sample of the sins that the religions of Christendom have committed. They have brought the greatest blasphemy upon the names of God and Christ, and have tried to efface true worship of Jehovah God from the earth. It is these things that make certain that Christendom’s destruction is imminent.
FURTHER EVIDENCE OF THE ‘DAY’S’ NEARNESS
17-19. (a) Where else do we find evidence of the nearness of the “day of Jehovah”? (b) What are some of the developments among God’s people that show that the incoming of God’s new order is very near?
17 There is no question that world conditions indicate the nearness of the “presence of the day of Jehovah.” But that is not the only evidence. We can also find clear-cut evidence of its nearness in what is going on in God’s true Christian congregation—in what Jehovah is doing with respect to his people. From God’s dealings in recent years the new order of righteousness is seen to be so close that we can see it taking shape right before us.
18 Consider these developments: Organizationally, the congregations of Jehovah’s people have now come more fully into line with the Scriptures, with the arrangement of elders and ministerial servants. Also, they have been aided to understand Ezekiel’s vision of the citylike seat of worldwide administration on earth, called “Jehovah Himself Is There.” They realize that there will be an administrative body serving under the heavenly kingdom, a body called the “chieftain” in Ezekiel’s prophecy. (Ezek. 45:7; 48:35) Furthermore, they now understand that the “great crowd” of survivors of the “great tribulation” will be the foundation of the “new earth,” the new earthly society brought about by Christ’s thousand-year reign. Understanding of Zechariah’s prophecy has enlightened them to see that everything done by God’s people will be in holiness and exaltation of Jehovah’s sovereignty, with nothing unclean or harmful at all, so that God will have no more cause to find any fault with his people. (Zech. 14:20, 21) Additionally, they have been carefully instructed as to how persons must live now if they are to survive the “great tribulation.” All of this helps to prepare honest-hearted ones for life in God’s new order. We also see as never before the rapid, even phenomenal, influx of those who will compose the “great crowd.” Truly, the separation of the “sheep” from the “goats” is proceeding at an amazing rate. Today persons who long for righteous conditions respond very quickly to the good news.—Mark 13:10; Matt. 25:31-46; Rev. 7:9.
19 In view of these evidences, it would indeed be a person dull of hearing and slow to observe who did not realize that we are in the generation that Jesus foretold would immediately precede the incoming of God’s righteous new order. And we are very well along in that generation, according to all the evidences before our eyes.—Matt. 24:34.
FALSE RELIGION’S END TO COME SUDDENLY
20, 21. (a) What situation as to worldly religion may cause some to tend to ‘put off’ the fiery day of Jehovah? (b) But how does Revelation 17:16, 17 say that the destruction of “Babylon the Great” will come about?
20 However, there are some who, when viewing the religious picture, tend to ‘put off’ the fiery “day” of Jehovah. They may reason in the following manner: ‘It is true that we see worldly religion weakening in some areas, churches closing, less respect for the churches, and other signs of losing ground. Yet, even in these areas, do we not frequently see that the churches have strong political connections? Also, they often own much industrial property, even large blocks of residential property that they use for commercial gain. They are well established financially. Again, in other sections attendance is still strong in the churches. Many people maintain their church membership in spite of the corruption that exists. Can we not say, then, that these strengths displayed by the churches are indications that the presence of the fiery day of Jehovah is yet many years off?’
21 Do not be deceived. The end of false religion is not going to come by its simply folding up due to lack of support. Rather, it will come in the way that God said it would come, in his vision to the apostle John, at Revelation 17:16, 17. There it reads: “The ten horns that you saw, and the wild beast, these will hate the harlot and will make her devastated and naked, and will eat up her fleshy parts and will completely burn her with fire. For God put it into their hearts to carry out his thought, even to carry out their one thought by giving their kingdom to the wild beast, until the words of God will have been accomplished.” Jehovah God himself will give the command for the destruction of “Babylon the Great” at the beginning of his “day,” and that destruction will come with surprising suddenness.
22-24. (a) How do adherents of worldly religion view their religion and their clergy? (b) How does Jeremiah 25:34, 35 illustrate the suddenness with which the clergy and their false religion will meet their destruction?
22 We should not forget that Babylonish world religion is viewed by its adherents as something sacred, something beautiful. Its leaders, particularly the clergymen of Christendom, have been looked upon as men of God, holy. Even nonreligious men among politicians and businessmen address them by high-sounding titles, as Reverend, Right Reverend, Father, Holy Father and by other flattering terms. Of course, worldly religion has brought to some people things they desire. To some it gives social status; to some, political power; to others it brings financial gain. Some persons among churchgoers feel that, to worship God, they must attend or belong to a church, because Christendom claims to worship God, because it claims to represent the Bible and to be the repository of truth.
23 But what does Jeremiah 25:34, 35 say about this? Concerning what will happen to Christendom’s leaders just as concerning what was to befall the Jewish leaders shortly after Jerusalem’s fall in 607 B.C.E., it says: “Howl, you shepherds, and cry out! And wallow about, you majestic ones of the flock, because your days for slaughtering and for your scatterings have been fulfilled, and you must fall like a desirable vessel!”
24 So it is not a slow fading away by loss of members that brings the end of Christendom’s false religions and their clergy. Instead, just as a beautiful vase, a “desirable vessel,” suddenly falls from its pedestal, to the dismay of its onlookers, so the clergy and their false religion have a sudden, surprising crash to destruction.
25 Also, as to the swiftness of the fall of Babylon the Great, what does Revelation chapter 18, verse 10, say? “They [the mourners, including many commercial men] stand at a distance because of their fear of her torment and say, ‘Too bad, too bad, you great city, Babylon you strong city, because in one hour your judgment has arrived!’” And then, in Re 18 verse 21, it continues: “And a strong angel lifted up a stone like a great millstone and hurled it into the sea, saying: ‘Thus with a swift pitch will Babylon the great city be hurled down, and she will never be found again.’” Appreciation of this fact can protect us against any inclination to ‘put off’ the day of Jehovah simply because Babylonish religion still exercises considerable influence in some areas.
[Picture on page 53]
Christendom’s false religions and their clergy will have a sudden crash to destruction, just as a beautiful vase suddenly falls from its pedestal