A Prophetic Drama That Foreshadowed Survival
1. Why, in the second millennium of human existence, had the earth become a dangerous place in which to live?
BACK there, so long ago, in the second millennium of human existence, the earth had become a dangerous place in which to live. Yes, as in our case today, it was because violence was filling the earth. That was so, even though men back there did not have shotguns and revolvers and cannons and nuclear weapons. God had the overall viewpoint of things during that ancient period, and that is how he described the world situation. More than a century before the worst stage in human affairs was reached, he determined to take due action and set the exact time for this.
2. What time limit did God set on that long-lived generation, for it to suffer what kind of death?
2 In a statement disclosed to man, God said: “My spirit shall not act toward man indefinitely in that he is also flesh. Accordingly his days shall amount to a hundred and twenty years.” (Gen. 6:3) He was not going to act forbearingly toward that long-lived generation for an indefinite period of time, but now he set a limit for that generation to get deeper and deeper into its degradation, so far away from the image and likeness of God in which he had created the first man of flesh and blood. Twelve more decades would be allowed before there would be a worldwide “act of God.” There would not be a natural death to that generation!
3. What statement did God make as to the badness of mankind then, and what question do we ask about our generation in comparison?
3 Let us, by way of comparison, look at the present human generation with regard to its morality, as we now read how God viewed the condition of mankind, for whose creation he was responsible: “Consequently Jehovah saw that the badness of man was abundant in the earth and every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only bad all the time. And Jehovah felt regrets that he had made men in the earth, and he felt hurt at his heart. So Jehovah said: ‘I am going to wipe men whom I have created off the surface of the ground, from man to domestic animal, to moving animal and to flying creature of the heavens, because I do regret that I have made them. . . . The end of all flesh has come before me, because the earth is full of violence as a result of them; and here I am bringing them to ruin together with the earth.’” (Gen. 6:5-7, 13) Can we say that the human generation of the present time is any better than that ancient one thus described, or is there any reason for us to believe that it is even worse?
4. What question should we individually ask ourselves, and in what case would escape from God’s worldwide act be quite out of the question for us?
4 Not that we are self-righteously wanting to condemn others and overlook ourselves. We owe it to ourselves to direct the question to ourselves: Am I myself on the corrupt level of that ancient generation? We should put such a question to ourselves individually, because we are in this world and living with this present generation. What if we find ourselves to be an integral part of this world society and like to be a part of it in spite of its historical record till now? Well, if God’s constant sticking to the same set of principles and course now obliges him to take action because of the likeness of this generation to that ancient one, then we cannot expect to escape when the Creator again performs a worldwide “act of God.” Survival of it would be out of the question for us. We would be classed in with the rest.
5. What family was an exception to that world society, and what does the Bible account say of the family?
5 Of course, not everybody away back there was of that corrupt world society; otherwise, the human race would not be here today. There was a family that was an exception, and God recognized it. The exceptional family was that of Noah, the son of Lamech, the son of Methuselah. (Gen. 5:25-32) Let us notice the difference between Noah and the world society of his day, according to this Bible account: “Noah was a righteous man. He proved himself faultless among his contemporaries. Noah walked with the true God. In time Noah became father to three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth. And the earth came to be ruined in the sight of the true God and the earth became filled with violence. So God saw the earth and, look! it was ruined, because all flesh had ruined its way on the earth.” “After that Jehovah said to Noah: ‘Go, you and all your household, into the ark, because you are the one I have seen to be righteous before me among this generation.’”—Gen. 6:9-12; 7:1.
6. What class foretold by Enoch did Noah not want to be grouped with, and how did he walk with the true God?
6 Noah remembered what his great-grandfather Enoch had prophesied under divine inspiration: “Look! Jehovah came with his holy myriads, to execute judgment against all, and to convict all the ungodly concerning all their ungodly deeds that they did in an ungodly way, and concerning all the shocking things that ungodly sinners spoke against him.” (Jude 14, 15; Gen. 5:18-24) Noah did not care to be classed in with such an ungodly group of sinners and to have divine judgment executed against him. So Noah walked with the true God, Jehovah, by keeping in harmony with him. He was glad to harmonize his life course with God’s purpose by proving himself worthy to be the one through whom the human race of descendants from Adam and Eve should be preserved through the time when the worldwide “act of God” would be performed. Because of Noah’s harmonizing his life course with God’s purpose, we find ourselves here today more than four thousand three hundred years later. We today have an opportunity before us like that of Noah.
7. What was it that Noah and his household survived, by harmonizing his life course with God’s purpose in what way?
7 Do we realize what Noah and his family, all together eight human souls, survived back there? It was the end of a world! The global deluge of waters that swept all the corrupt, ungodly generation of mankind off the surface of the earth, did not, of course, destroy our earthly globe. It is still here beneath our feet. To live through that deluge Noah had to harmonize his course of action with God’s unchanged purpose by building the tremendous ark according to God’s instructions, for the preservation of his household and basic specimens of land animals and birdlife. (Gen. 6:14 through 8:22) The fact that it was the destruction of a world that Noah and his family survived is plainly stated under divine inspiration in the following descriptive scriptures:
8. How does Peter testify that it was the destruction of a world that Noah and his family survived?
8 “Certainly if God did not hold back . . . from punishing an ancient world, but kept Noah, a preacher of righteousness, safe with seven others when he brought a deluge upon a world of ungodly people; . . . 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, . . . For, according to their wish, this fact escapes their notice, that there were heavens from of old and an earth standing compactly out of water and in the midst of water by the word of God; and by those means the world of that time suffered destruction when it was deluged with water.”—2 Pet. 2:4-9; 3:5, 6.
SURVIVAL OF WORLD DESTRUCTION
9. How was the survival of Noah and his family more than an illustration of surviving a world destruction, and more than survival that most people today have in mind?
9 It is possible! Survival of world destruction is possible on earth! The survival of Noah and his family through the global deluge of 2370-2369 B.C.E. is an illustration of this. But, more than that! It is a prophecy or prophetic drama picturing survival by some here on earth of the fast-approaching world destruction, the end of today’s world of ungodly people. It means their surviving of the complete end of this wicked, polluted system of things. Most people on earth today are content to survive the present hard times and live through one world crisis after another and finally die after they have hoped for better times, which they never realize. That is the only survival they know of or think of, as they try to hang onto human life as long as they can. This does not compare with the survival foreshadowed by Noah’s passing safely through the deluge.
10. The survival that God now offers human creatures means what, and it will be by what course, as in Noah’s case?
10 The survival that God now offers to human creatures on earth is the survival of the end of this wicked system of things with the opportunity for the survivors to live forever on earth under His new system of things. Is that not something worth surviving for? But this wonderful survival will not be by using any man-made methods of self-salvation, self-rescue, nor by any evolutionistic “survival of the fittest.” Again, it will be by the harmonizing of one’s course of action with God’s purpose. In the case of Noah, he had to exercise great faith in God’s warning concerning the destruction of the “ancient world” and do what God told him to do for the preservation of himself and his family. He was given warning plenty of time in advance. It was in the sixth century of his life and when he was the father of three married sons that he was told to build a capacious, weatherproof, wooden ark in which to ride out the waters of the global deluge. He obeyed.
11, 12. Why would a waterproof wooden ark not be suitable for surviving the coming “great tribulation,” as indicated by what words of Peter?
11 A waterproof wooden ark was all right for surviving the end of the “world of that time.” Such an ark would not do for the “great tribulation” with which the present “world” or human society will end. More than just one family is involved. Those who are hoping and preparing to survive are located all around our earthly globe. Furthermore, the total destruction of this system of things will not be by water. After the Deluge, God said so. (Gen. 9:8-16; Isa. 54:9) Twenty-four centuries after that assurance from God the inspired apostle Peter wrote his last letter and said:
12 “The world of that time suffered destruction when it was deluged with water. But by the same word [of God] the heavens and the earth that are now are stored up for fire and are being reserved to the day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men. . . . Jehovah’s day will come as a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a hissing noise, but the elements being intensely hot will be dissolved, and earth and the works in it will be discovered.”—2 Pet. 3:6, 7, 10.
13. What did the global deluge do with regard to the earth, and what will the “fire” of the coming day of judgment do to it?
13 Would it harmonize with God’s original purpose concerning man and his earthly home for God to burn up this earth with literal fire and reduce it to an uninhabited charred crisp? That would signify for God to admit defeat of his purpose by his Chief Adversary, Satan the Devil. This will never occur, for Almighty God can carry out his purpose to glorious success. The watery deluge of Noah’s day did not destroy the earth, but merely swept the “world of ungodly people” off the surface of the earth and cleansed it, gave it a good bath. Likewise, the fire of Jehovah’s day, the coming day of judgment, will not destroy the earth, neither all creature life in it, but will destroy off earth’s surface the society of ungodly people and also their works that are out of harmony with God’s purpose. Our earthly planet and also our sun and the billions of other suns in our Milky Way, which are already balls of fire, will survive that day of judgment.
14. What kind of fire will it be that will be able to take care of the “heavens” as well as the “earth,” and with what result?
14 Literal fire such as is common to our earth and our solar system could never affect the invisible Satan and his spirit demons or destroy them from being an unseen, spirit heavens that has dominated mankind from the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden down till now. A profusion of Bible texts indicate that the “fire” of the coming day of world judgment is symbolic, but destructive like fire; and just how literal fire of such things as lightnings may be employed on that day by Jehovah God, we do not know now. Jehovah’s executional power will remove Satan and his demons from their heavenly position of control over mankind and will destroy the earthly society (or, “world”) of ungodly people. Thus, again the literal earth will be cleansed just as gold and silver are purified by fire. Earth will then be a fine home for survivors.
15. How does the apostle Peter assure us that there will be something worth while for which to survive?
15 That there will then be something excellent for which to survive, the apostle Peter assures us as he goes on to say: “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.”—2 Pet. 3:12, 13.
16. In the prophetic drama as being fulfilled right down here, whom did Noah, his wife and their three sons and the wives of these picture?
16 How to survive into that “new earth” under the “new heavens” of Christ’s kingdom is now the question. In order to live through the destruction of that “ancient world,” Noah built the ark as told by Jehovah God. By harmonizing his course of action with God’s purpose to preserve the human race, Noah and his family enacted a prophetic drama that has its fulfillment in our generation. Accordingly, Noah pictured Jesus Christ, and his wife pictured the “Bride” of Christ, or, more particularly, the remnant of that collective “Bride” that still finds itself on earth. The three sons of Noah and their wives picture those baptized worshipers of Jehovah God who now associate with the remnant of the “Bride” class and who expect to become the earthly children of the Eternal Father, Jesus Christ, under his millennial kingdom. (Isa. 9:6, 7) In this prophetic drama as being fulfilled just here in our day, what does Noah’s ark picture?
17. During what period of time was Noah’s ark built, and what therefore does it picture for this day?
17 Well, Noah built the ark with the help of his married sons, hence far less than a century before the deluge broke. So the ark building took place during the “time of the end” of that “ancient world.” So we must look for something special during this “time of the end,” a thing from which this present generation of mankind can benefit or take advantage of during the urgency of the times. By Scripture and fulfillment of Bible prophecy it has been well established that the “time of the end” of this present “world” began in the autumn of the year 1914, while World War I was raging. Noah’s ark would therefore picture that provision for survival that God makes through Christ for his faithful worshipers as the fiery end of this system of things draws near. That divine provision is the spiritual paradise into which God has brought his faithful worshipers since the year 1919 C.E., in which they live as his people restored to his favor and under his protection.
18. When was the repentant remnant of the “Bride” class brought into this spiritual paradise, and how?
18 This spiritual paradise of peace and security has certainly been built up on earth since the postwar year of 1919. During World War I and its hard times and persecutions for the Christian witnesses of Jehovah, they incurred a painful measure of divine disfavor due to their compromising course and other shortcomings as Christians. Jehovah God let them be brought into bondage to religious Babylon the Great and her political, military and judicial paramours. But in the postwar year of 1919 the repentant remnant determined to harmonize their united course of action with God’s revealed purpose according to the Bible knowledge that he began unfolding to them. So God graciously used his Son Jesus Christ like a modern-day Cyrus to release his repentant people from exile under Babylon the Great. (Isa. 44:28 through 45:6) After their restoration to peaceful relationship with Jehovah God in 1919, as it were to their God-given spiritual homeland, the spiritual paradise was built up, many congregations of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses being established around the earth.—Isa. 35:1-10; Ezek. 36:35.
19. What kind of beauty abounds in this spiritual paradise, and like what city of ancient Israel is it for the inhabitants?
19 Here in this spiritual paradise, in the midst of this doomed polluted “world,” is where true spiritual beauty obtains, where the fruitage of God’s spirit comes to maturity. Peace and true Christian brotherhood obtain here, and each one seeks to build up the others spiritually and to prepare them against the oncoming day of Jehovah. (2 Pet. 3:14-18) Here, as it were, is their “city of refuge,” where they are safe from the Great “Avenger of Blood” who will execute Jehovah’s vengeance against all the bloodguilty “world” in the oncoming “day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men.”—2 Pet. 3:7; Num. 35:12, 19-27.
20. Who are pictured by Noah’s three sons and their wives, and how was their survival foretold in Revelation?
20 The remnant of the “Bride” of Christ, pictured by Noah’s wife, are not the only ones now occupying this spiritual paradise, this location of restored peaceful relationship with God. Since the year 1935 there have come to this spiritual paradise those who were pictured by the sons of Noah and the wives of these sons. These are the prospective earthly children of the Eternal Father, Jesus Christ, the Greater Noah. The opportunity is set before them of surviving the world’s “great tribulation,” now so near, and so to them the prophetic picture given in Revelation 7:9-17 applies. They will be used to make up the “great crowd,” concerning which it is there said: “These are the ones that come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Rev. 7:14) They now join with the remnant of the “Bride” of Christ in worshiping at God’s spiritual temple.
21. (a) For those in the spiritual paradise to survive the “great tribulation,” what must they do? (b) What forms of creature life will survive with them?
21 For the sake of surviving the “great tribulation” all those now in the spiritual paradise must remain there, like Noah and his family in the ark, the door of which God shut behind them before the deluge burst upon the world. (Gen. 7:1) Only by remaining within God’s provided place of approval, favor and protection can they hope to survive the fiery destruction of the worldly system of things. With them there will also survive under God’s protection specimens of birds, flying creatures, land animals and fishes and other marine creatures, for the earthly survivors of the “great tribulation” will carry out the divine commission to have these lower forms of creature life in subjection for the preservation and good of these living creations of God.
22. (a) In the deluge of Noah’s day, what happened to the Garden of Eden? (b) In the coming “great tribulation,” what will happen to the spiritual paradise, and why?
22 The coming “great tribulation” will culminate in the fiery “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon. (Matt. 24:21, 22; Rev. 16:14-16) For the worshipers of Jehovah, his Christian witnesses, to get safely through that tribulation, their symbolic ark, the spiritual paradise, must remain, with them staying inside. In the deluge of Noah’s day the Garden of Eden or Paradise of Pleasure, from which Adam and Eve had been expelled, was destroyed. But what about the spiritual paradise of the remnant and the “great crowd”? Like Noah’s ark, it will survive the fiery “day of judgment.” The impending “great tribulation” from Jehovah God is not meant to destroy the spiritual paradise of His worshipers, who have striven to preserve their spirituality and Christian integrity. It is meant to destroy the unparadise-like worldly system of things. After the spiritual paradise has survived the “great tribulation,” the surviving worshipers of Noah’s God, Jehovah, will devote their efforts to restoring the literal paradise to the cleansed earth under the “new heavens” of God’s Messianic kingdom.
23. What shows that Adam and Eve were not to lead a life of idleness, and so what about those now in the spiritual paradise?
23 Life in the spiritual paradise during this “time of the end” is no life of idleness for those enjoying God’s favor and protection there. Living there has purpose according to the will of God. At the beginning of human existence, God put Adam in the original earthly paradise or “garden of Eden,” not to loaf and idle away his time lazily, but “to cultivate it and to take care of it.” God imparted purpose to the lives of Adam and Eve by giving them the commission to raise a family that would within seven thousand years of time fill the whole earth and turn the whole earth into a Paradise garden and would have all the lower forms of creature life in beneficial subjection. (Gen. 2:15; 1:26-28) So, too, in the spiritual paradise since 1919 C.E. there is worldwide work to do, before the “great tribulation.” Those dwelling there must harmonize their course with God’s purpose.
24. (a) What do those now in the spiritual paradise seek to do? (b) In harmony with that purpose, they must now participate in what activities?
24 Those whom God now admits to this spiritual paradise on earth seek not just a place of security and survival during the “great tribulation” ahead. They seek to prove worthy and to prepare themselves for everlasting life in God’s righteous era of “new heavens and a new earth.” (2 Pet. 3:13) They well know that it is God’s purpose to usher in this peaceful, righteous era by means of his Messianic kingdom in the hands of his enthroned Son, Jesus Christ. In harmony with that purpose of God, they must participate in the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy concerning the “conclusion of the system of things,” namely, “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.” Also, Christ’s direct command to them must be obeyed, to “make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them.” (Matt. 24:14; 28:19, 20) Thereby more seekers of God are brought into his safe and secure spiritual paradise for survival and life in His righteous new era.
25. If we want to survive and live in God’s new order, what must we now do?
25 Do we want to survive the “great tribulation” and live forever within the embrace of God’s promised “new heavens and a new earth”? To do this, we must harmonize now with God’s purpose.
[Picture on page 667]
Ark pictures the spiritual paradise into which God has brought his worshipers today
Noah pictures Jesus Christ
Noah’s wife pictures Christ’s “Bride”
Noah’s sons and wives picture worshipers of Jehovah today who hope to gain everlasting life on earth
[Picture on page 669]
PS Form 3526 July 1971