Facing the “Great Tribulation” with Confidence
“Jehovah himself will prove to be, in effect, your confidence.”—Prov. 3:26.
1, 2. What interest do all people have, and how do many display it?
ALL mankind are very much interested in the future. To be concerned about what has not yet occurred is a natural, human trait. People may be working hard in their day-to-day activity, but so often it is with the future in view. They are constantly laying plans for the future. Their longings and desires, their expectations and hopes are in large measure based on what they believe the future will bring with it. To be happy, they need to have confidence about the future.
2 This human desire to know about coming events before they occur causes many people to consult those claiming to know the future—the spirit mediums, soothsayers and astrologers. More and more persons are consulting their horoscopes and Ouija boards in an effort to learn what the demon-inspired oracles say will happen.
3. In respect to the future, how do Jehovah’s Witnesses differ from other people? (Deut. 18:10-12)
3 There is one very great difference, however, between those who serve Jehovah and those who do not, when it comes to this inborn desire to know the future. Never do God’s people go to the fortunetellers, stargazers or spiritistic prognosticators to learn of coming events. Neither do they consult other demonic sources in an effort to know the future. There is a very good reason why they do not.
4. What is the basis for the great confidence Jehovah’s people have when viewing the future?
4 It was in the ninth century before this Common Era that the following truth was recorded in the Bible by the prophet Amos, in Am chapter 3, verse 7: “The Sovereign Lord Jehovah will not do a thing unless he has revealed his confidential matter to his servants the prophets.” These prophets, in turn, relate to Jehovah’s people in general what to expect in the future, and this is the basis for the confidence of Jehovah’s people.
5, 6. (a) Describe the situation in Jerusalem in the first century C.E. (b) But why did Christians of that time not entertain the same viewpoint as that of others?
5 Consider the situation in the city of Jerusalem in the first century of our Common Era. The people in general and their leaders acknowledged that conditions were far from satisfactory. Yet, what were the wise men and leaders of the people predicting about the future? Some were quite satisfied with the status quo and would be happy for it to continue, with little change. Others advocated revolt and revolution against the rule of Rome and its taxations, claiming that such a road would lead to greater freedom, peace and prosperity. None, however, of that city’s wise men, advisers and counselors were foretelling that Jerusalem would be completely destroyed in a great tribulation—and within that generation. Any such eventuality was farthest from their thoughts!—Acts 5:36 37.
6 Did first-century Christians put their trust and confidence in those worldly-wise men and their predictions? No, not at all. Jehovah had revealed ahead of time to his Great Prophet, the Lord Jesus Christ, something altogether different, something that He had determined would shortly occur within that generation. That true prophet of God sounded the warning, saying: “The days will come upon you [Jerusalem] when your enemies will build around you a fortification with pointed stakes and will encircle you and distress you from every side, . . . and they will not leave a stone upon a stone in you.” Indeed, “there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.”—Luke 19:41-44; Matt. 23:36-38; 24:2, 21.
7. How were Christians living in the vicinity of Jerusalem able to face the future with confidence?
7 In the face of such a coming tribulation, did Christians living in and around Jerusalem have any reason to face that foretold disaster with confidence? They certainly did. For God’s true Prophet also told them how they would know when it was about to occur and what action they should take to ensure their safety. He said. “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by encamped armies, then . . . let those in Judea begin fleeing.”—Luke 21:20, 21.
PARALLEL SITUATION TODAY
8. What parallel conditions exist in Christendom today?
8 Today there is a parallel situation in Christendom’s religions—forming a hypocritical organization that corresponds to the unfaithful city of Jerusalem. People of the modern world consult their political soothsayers, economic advisers, religious prophets, as well as their wise men of science, and they get back in answer all kinds of predictions as to what the future will bring with it. While these advisers are generally quick to acknowledge that the present state of affairs is deplorable, at the same time they predict that some day, somehow, in some way “better times are coming.”
9. Do you put your confidence in the predictions of world leaders?
9 However, do you put your faith and confidence in the speculations of these human advisers? Not if you are a firm believer in the Bible and its prophecies. And why not? Because these opinions of men are not what Jehovah has revealed by the mouth of his prophets concerning the near future.
10. How have Jehovah’s Witnesses shown their confidence in the Bible’s predicted future?
10 For years Jehovah’s Christian witnesses have been most active in telling others what the Bible says about inescapable coming events. From the “house-tops,” so to speak, God’s people have proclaimed to all the world what Jehovah has revealed concerning the coming “great tribulation,” which climaxes in the “war of the great day of God the Almighty,” at the place “called in Hebrew Har–Magedon.”—Matt. 10:26, 27; Rev. 7:14; 16:14, 16.
11. What erroneous opinion of the future catastrophic destruction do many have?
11 Make no mistake about this war at the place called Har–Magedon. This will not be an all-out nuclear war among the nations in which they attempt to deploy their present stockpile of nuclear bombs—said to be large enough to kill off the world’s population of around 4,000,000,000 many times over! Such a nuclear war is not the “great tribulation” of the future that Jehovah warns us about.
12, 13. How does the popular opinion of most people contrast with that of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and why?
12 Well, does this fact reduce the danger threatening mankind in general? As in any war, this depends entirely on which side we stand, the winning side or the losing side. To be sure, the world of mankind, alienated as they are from Jehovah, have every reason to fear the war at Har–Magedon. This is because they have willingly or unwillingly aligned themselves with “the kings of the entire inhabited earth” and are therefore being gathered along with such kings to the “war of the great day of God the Almighty.”
13 But not so Jehovah’s faithful people! As individuals they have taken their stand solidly, uncompromisingly on the winning side, God’s side. They are therefore able to face the foretold “great tribulation” with full confidence and trust in Jehovah.
THE GREATEST OF ALL TRIBULATIONS
14. According to Matthew 24:21, how great is the “tribulation” that is coming upon the world in the near future?
14 How great will this coming unparalleled tribulation of the future be? Using the tribulation upon Jerusalem in the year 70 C.E. as a prophetic illustration, Jesus said it would be one “such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now,” and then, lest we minimize it, he added for emphasis, “nor will occur again.” Well, that means a tribulation greater than World Wars I and II in which tens of millions of people lost their lives. Yes, greater than the globe-enveloping deluge of Noah’s day that wiped out an entire world system!
15. What is a particular shocking aspect of the “great tribulation,” and why so?
15 What magnitude, then, will this coming “great tribulation” have that will make it surpass all other tribulations of human history? First of all, it will have the capability of destroying the whole world empire of false religion, both Christendom’s and heathendom’s religious organizations, called in the Bible mystic “Babylon the Great”! (Rev. 17:5) This certainly will be shocking beyond comprehension to earth’s inhabitants who have supported this “mother of the harlots,” Babylon the Great.
16. What other feature of the coming “tribulation” does Revelation 19:19-21 foretell?
16 But that humiliation and destruction of the world empire of false religion is only Part I of the “great tribulation.” As Part II, the “kings of the earth who committed fornication with [Babylon the Great] and lived [with her] in shameless luxury” will be dealt with next, and they shall not escape destruction. (Rev. 18:9; 16:14) Further, the prophecy of Revelation chapter 19, verses 19-21, says: “The wild beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage the war with the one seated on the horse [the glorified Lord Jesus Christ] and with his army. . . . While still alive, they . . . were hurled into the fiery lake that burns with sulphur.” Re Chapter 20, verse 14, explains that “this means the second death, the lake of fire.”
17. How does Jeremiah 25:31-33 give a sample idea of what will come in this greatest of all tribulations?
17 Yes, it will be on a scale even vaster than that described by another prophet of Jehovah, Jeremiah, who wrote of a tribulation then approaching: “Those slain by Jehovah will certainly come to be in that day from one end of the earth clear to the other end of the earth. They will not be bewailed, neither will they be gathered up or be buried. As manure on the surface of the ground they will become.”—Jer. 25:33.
18. What will follow this “tribulation,” making it far different from any of the past?
18 But there is still something else to follow that “great tribulation,” something that did not even occur after the first world, ‘the world of Noah’s day,’ was destroyed. This will be the seizing and binding of Satan and his demons with a “great chain,” and the hurling of them into an abyss.—Rev. 20:1-3.
19, 20. (a) How are you facing the greatest of all tribulations? (b) In what way may you really show a confident attitude?
19 Well, now, do you believe Jehovah and what he has said by the mouth of these, prophets concerning this “great tribulation” that all mankind is facing? If so, do you face this inescapable tribulation with strong assurance and a complete confidence? It is one thing to say that you do; it is quite another matter to prove it by your actions.
20 Consider briefly some of the examples of those who had complete trust in Jehovah in the past, and notice particularly how these individuals demonstrated their confidence.
PAST DISPLAYS OF CONFIDENCE
21. Describe how Noah and his family demonstrated confidence in Jehovah’s word.
21 Noah proved that he had complete reliance on Jehovah’s warning by the way he lived day by day. He did not physically isolate himself, although he remained politically and socially separate from the system. At the same time he worked hard at his God-given assignment of constructing the ark, and in preaching to others and warning them of impending destruction. And all the time he demonstrated that he had absolute trust and confidence in the ability of his God, Jehovah, to protect and deliver him during this greatest time of trouble ever experienced until then.—Gen. 6:9; Heb. 11:7; 2 Pet. 2:5.
22. What important lessons can we learn from those who left wicked Sodom before it was destroyed?
22 There was also Lot. Warned ahead of time to leave Sodom, and at the urging of angelic forces, four of that household left the city, but only three of them lived to tell about it. Why only three instead of four? Jesus answered: “Remember the wife of Lot.” Contrary to instructions, when in flight out of Sodom she looked back, evidently for some selfish reason.—Gen. 19:1-26; Luke 17:32; 2 Pet. 2:7, 8.
23. What was necessary on the part of the Israelites and their companions at the Red Sea and that resulted in their deliverance?
23 In those instances only a few persons survived. But Jehovah can just as easily deliver a great multitude of persons to a place of safety. This was demonstrated in the case of the nation of Israel, and their companions, at the Red Sea. “By faith they passed through the Red Sea as on dry land,” the apostle Paul says. Their faith and confidence were demonstrated by their obedience, as we read: “So all the sons of Israel did just as Jehovah had commanded Moses and Aaron. They did just so.”—Heb. 11:29; Ex. 12:37, 38, 50.
SOME ESCAPED “TRIBULATION” ON JERUSALEM
24-26. (a) What was required of Christians living in Jerusalem in the sixties of the first century C.E.? (b) Relate the succession of events showing that those whose confidence was in the divine warning were not disappointed.
24 Faithful Christians in the sixties of the first century had to have similar confidence in Jehovah and his prophet, the Greater Moses, the Lord Jesus Christ. They had to act also on faith and show that they really believed what they had been told ahead of time about the coming destruction of Jerusalem. The warning was that, when they saw a “disgusting thing that causes desolation standing where it ought not,” then they were to waste no time in getting out of Jerusalem and the surrounding province of Judea.—Mark 13:14.
25 In time, this “sign” became so plain to the discerning ones! There it was, the “disgusting” Roman army under General Cestius Gallus surrounding the holy city of Jerusalem, “standing where it ought not,” and it even began to undermine the very walls of the temple area itself!—Matt. 24:15.
26 So as soon as those Roman forces temporarily withdrew from their siege—suddenly, unexpectedly and with no apparent military reason—believing Christians made haste to get out before the Romans returned. Those without faith and confidence in Jesus’ prophetic warning hung on until the invading armies under General Titus again laid siege to the city, bringing death to the great majority, and slavery to the few that survived.
27, 28. In a parallel situation today, how are followers of the King, Christ Jesus, exercising complete confidence in Jehovah?
27 Faith no less than that of first-century Christians is shown today by those having implicit confidence in the written Word of God. They saw how the churches of Christendom hailed the League of Nations as “the political expression of the kingdom of God on earth,” and now they see the United Nations being idolized as man’s ‘last hope of peace.’ They see radical elements of the U.N. teaming up in readiness to invade Christendom’s realm of operation and supposed rights, her “holy place.” There it is, the United Nations, acting in defiance of the Prince of Peace, earth’s rightful Ruler, the Lord Jesus Christ, and poised also to stand in the place that Christendom considers “holy”! (Rev. 11:15; 12:10) Yes, indeed, the United Nations is the modern-day “disgusting thing that causes desolation” to Christendom in the coming “great tribulation.”—Matt. 24:15, 21.
28 Seeing this persistent obvious “sign,” those with confidence in Jehovah’s Word have gotten out of Babylon the Great, the principal part of which is Christendom.—Rev. 18:4, 5.
29. With deliverance from impending destruction in mind, what steps have more than 2,000,000 persons taken?
29 If you are one of the more than 2,000,000 who have already fled Babylon the Great before her destruction and have become one of Jehovah’s clean worshipers, then you are in a position similar to that of Noah’s family who entered the ark, like that of Lot and his two daughters who fled Sodom, like that of the Israelites who left Egypt under the command of Moses. Yes, you are like the first-century Christians who escaped from Jerusalem before its destruction.
30. What questions is it appropriate to ask yourself?
30 But finding yourself in such a favorable position at present, how will you face the future? Will you remain in the ark-like spiritual paradise into which you have entered? Having left the world empire of false religion, do you look forward to the destruction of Babylon the Great in the coming “great tribulation” with eager anticipation and with total confidence? As you ponder these questions, please consider the following article.
[Box on page 42]
THE BIBLE’S SCHEDULE OF COMING EVENTS
1. Destruction of “Babylon the Great,” the world empire of false religion.—Rev. 18:4-8.
2. ‘Crushing of all human kingdoms.’—Dan. 2:44.
3. Binding and abyssing of Satan and his demons.—Rev. 20:1, 2.
4. Incoming of God’s new order, with true happiness for mankind.—Rev. 21:4, 5.
[Pictures on page 40]
Should you consult a fortune-teller to learn the future . . .
. . . or should you study the Bible, the Word of God?
[Picture on page 44]
Christians made haste to get out of Jerusalem, confident in Jesus’ warning