Build Up Your Confidence Now for the Future
1, 2. (a) In what condition in general, is the world of mankind? and why? (b) But, in contrast, what confidence is displayed by many?
WE ARE now deep in the twentieth century, with every indication that the present system of things will pass away with this fading generation. Men alienated from God have suffered an increase in fear with the passing of each succeeding decade of this century. This is just as the great prophet Jesus Christ said it would be. In reply to the question: “When will these things actually be, and what will be the sign when these things are destined to occur?” he answered, saying among other things, “There will be . . . on the earth anguish of nations, not knowing the way out . . . while men become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth.”—Luke 21:7, 25, 26.
2 It is therefore not surprising that the majority of the world of mankind, who have no faith or confidence in Jehovah or his Word, the Bible, are languishing in a mental state of fear of what the future will bring. In contrast, and as pointed out in the previous article, there are more than 2,000,000 persons around the world today who are facing the future with great optimism. They are very confident that this present wicked system of things will shortly be replaced by a new and righteous order—God’s kingdom for which Jesus taught Christians to pray.—Matt. 6:9, 10.
3. What appropriate warning does the apostle Paul give?
3 At the moment you may be one of these persons, and you may feel quite confident of your position and of what you are facing in this time of the end. But the apostle’s warning is: “Let him that thinks he is standing beware that he does not fall.” (1 Cor. 10:12) If we heed this counsel, there are a number of things that we can do now to strengthen our state of confidence.
4, 5. How may we strengthen our confidence in the future?
4 First of all, we should remember what the Proverbs say, that one’s confidence in Jehovah must be based on knowledge of him and his past dealings with mankind, as well as knowledge of his present and future purposes.—Prov. 14:26; 22:19.
5 This emphasizes the importance of personal study and group study in the congregation. Learn all you can about this Grand Creator, not only from his Word, the Bible, but also by observation of the material creation around you. The apostle Paul said to the people of Lystra: “Indeed, [Jehovah] did not leave himself without witness in that he did good, giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling your hearts to the full with food and good cheer.” (Acts 14:17) And to the Roman Christians, Paul wrote: “For [God’s] invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship.”—Rom. 1:20.
6. How does study and observation of the physical universe build up one’s faith and confidence in its Creator?
6 In addition to observing the created things here on the earth, we should turn our attention toward the physical heavens. In answer to the question: “Who has created these things?” Isaiah 40:26 says: “It is the One who is bringing forth the army of them even by number, all of whom he calls even by name. Due to the abundance of dynamic energy, he also being vigorous in power, not one of them is missing.” What a vast and impressive witness the cosmic bodies of the heavens present—countless billions of stars all testifying to the eternal greatness of Jehovah! David expressed it beautifully when he said: “The heavens are declaring the glory of God; and of the work of his hands the expanse is telling.”—Ps. 19:1.
7-9. (a) What occurred in Hezekiah’s day that demonstrated the power of angelic creatures? (b) How does this strengthen our confidence in the future?
7 Then there are the invisible angelic creatures, numbering into the myriads. (Heb. 12:22; Jude 14, 15) Recall how the ancient worshiper of Jehovah, King Hezekiah, was taunted by the Assyrians: “What is this confidence in which you have trusted? . . . in whom have you put your trust, that you have rebelled against me [Sennacherib]?” But soon those pagan ridiculers were to learn why faithful King Hezekiah had put his trust and confidence in Jehovah and His angelic forces, for, as the record says, “It came about on that night that the angel of Jehovah proceeded to go out and strike down a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the camp of the Assyrians.”—2 Ki. 18:19, 20; 19:35; compare Isaiah 36:1 to 37:38.
8 Well, such a historical account as this should certainly give the one fearing Jehovah today great confidence. It is written: “The angel of Jehovah is camping all around those fearing him, and he rescues them.”—Ps. 34:7; compare Psalm 91:11, 12.
9 If a single angel of Jehovah is so powerful that he can wipe out 185,000 men, we should certainly put our complete confidence in this same Jehovah and his angelic forces under the direct command of the Lord Jesus Christ today. And let us remember—this Lord Jesus Christ is no longer the ‘babe in the Bethlehem manger.’ This is the one who is now the mighty “King of kings and Lord of lords,” the one who is able to say, “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth,” the one who is riding at the head of the armies of heaven, a force composed of no less than 100,000,000 angels!—Matt. 28:18; Rev. 5:11; 19:14-16.
MODERN EVIDENCE BUILDS UP CONFIDENCE
10. What did the anointed remnant of Christ’s followers set out to do in the year 1919, and with what backing?
10 It is with such divine encouragement and angelic backing that a small “remnant” of Christ Jesus’ anointed followers in the year 1919 set out and undertook to preach “this good news of the kingdom . . . in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations.” (Matt. 24:14) Over the intervening years since that work began, a “great crowd” of persons “out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues” have responded. They are described as “the ones that come out of the great tribulation.”—Rev. 7:9, 10, 14.
11. What has occurred in the past sixty years to give the remnant and the “great crowd” confidence in Jehovah?
11 Now today as this faithful “remnant” look back over the years they can say, as Psalm 71:5 expresses it: “For you are my hope, O Sovereign Lord Jehovah, my confidence from my youth.” One only has to read the history of Jehovah’s Witnesses for the past sixty years to see why this “remnant” and the “great crowd” have such confidence in Jehovah. It seems that Satan the Devil and his demons put every device and obstacle in the way to hinder and impede their work. They were made the special target of various political and religious organizations in many nations around the world. Dictatorships proscribed their work and banned their preaching activity. Even in the so-called “free nations” religious and patriotic zealots ‘framed trouble by decree’ and resorted to mob action and boycotts, all in an effort to silence God’s people.a (Ps. 94:20) Evolutionists, critics of the Bible and that “man of lawlessness,” the clergy of apostate Christendom, attempted to interfere with the disciple-making work of God’s faithful witnesses.
12. What assurance does Isaiah 54:17 give?
12 Such past experiences have impressed upon Jehovah’s Christian witnesses the truthfulness of Isaiah 54:17, which says: “‘Any weapon whatever that will be formed against you will have no success, and any tongue at all that will rise up against you in the judgment you will condemn. This is the hereditary possession of the servants of Jehovah, and their righteousness is from me,’ is the utterance of Jehovah.”
13. What additional facts are faith-strengthening?
13 Look, too, at the worldwide growth and spiritual prosperity enjoyed by God’s people in spite of all the demon-inspired opposition! Certainly the tremendous expansion of this preaching work could not have been accomplished except by Jehovah’s protection, blessing and spirit upon his people. This too strengthens the confidence in God’s people for the future.
WHY FREEDOM FROM FEAR IS POSSIBLE
14, 15. What distinction must we not overlook when considering possible survival of the “great tribulation”?
14 But, really, if the “great tribulation” will be as devastating and destructive as the Scriptures indicate, is it possible for those serving God to look forward to its coming without fear and trepidation? We must keep in mind that there is a vast difference between the “great tribulation” that Jehovah God himself will bring upon Satan’s beastly organization and all those clinging to it, and the tribulation that Satan now brings upon Jehovah’s faithful witnesses in the form of persecution, bans, mob action and similar overt acts of violence.
15 This latter type of trouble originates with Satan and cannot be escaped if one serves Jehovah, for it is written: “All those desiring to live with godly devotion in association with Christ Jesus will also be persecuted.” “In fact, the hour is coming when everyone that kills you will imagine he has rendered a sacred service to God.”—2 Tim. 3:12; John 16:2.
16. Examples of past Satanic persecutions are of what encouragement to God’s people today?
16 Now, such personal suffering at the hands of misinformed and deluded persons certainly is not a pleasant experience that is longed for, hoped for and enjoyed when it comes. Jehovah’s people have no desire to be victims of persecution. Even Jesus prayed three times to his Father that, if it were possible, he might be spared having to drink the “cup” of being made to appear as a blasphemer of God and a violator of his Law by being impaled on a torture stake. Yet, ‘not my will be done but God’s will,’ he said. (Matt. 26:39-44) However, when the storm of affliction has passed over and one has endured under persecution, one can rejoice because one has proved faithful like Job and other godly men and women of old when under trial. In the end, you recall, Job was richly rewarded for his suffering. (Job 42:10-17) This was also the experience of the apostles when they were severely beaten at the order of the religious court. Afterward they “went their way from before the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy to be dishonored in behalf of his name.”—Acts 5:40, 41.
17. When faced with such trials from Satan, what should we not forget?
17 So, even when facing trials and tribulations at the hand of the Devil, we should have confidence in Jehovah’s willingness and ability to bring us through completely victorious. (Rom. 8:37) Remember the encouraging words at 1 Corinthians 10:13: “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear, but along with the temptation he will also make the way out in order for you to be able to endure it.” Otherwise stated, “we are persecuted, but not left in the lurch; we are thrown down, but not destroyed. Always we endure everywhere in our body the death-dealing treatment given to Jesus.”—2 Cor. 4:8-10.
18, 19. (a) How does the “great tribulation” differ from the persecutions suffered by God’s servants? (b) So for what do God’s servants pray, and with what assurance?
18 The “great tribulation,” foretold in Matthew 24:21, 22, is, on the other hand, something altogether different from the trouble and persecution engineered and inflicted, both in the past and in the present, by the Devil upon God’s servants. The “great tribulation” is a tribulation from God that will befall the Devil’s entire crowd in vindication of Jehovah and all those on God’s side. Just as it is written at 2 Thessalonians 1:6: “It is righteous on God’s part to repay tribulation to those who make tribulation for you.”
19 For these reasons God’s people have a deeper love and appreciation for Jehovah, and this, in turn, gives them a confidence free from any weakening or morbid fear. Awesome as the “great tribulation” may prove to be, these lovers of Jehovah are looking forward with eager anticipation to being eyewitnesses at that grand execution of divine judgment. (Ps. 89:7; Hab. 3:16, 18) And so they continually pray for God’s kingdom to come and for his will and purpose to be accomplished—a prayer they offer ‘in full confidence through faith.’ “This is the confidence that we have toward him,” the apostle John says, “that, no matter what it is that we ask according to his will, he hears us.”—1 John 5:14; Eph. 3:12; Matt. 6:9, 10.
NEVER MISPLACE YOUR CONFIDENCE
20. With a buildup in confidence, what pitfall must be avoided, and how?
20 With the “great tribulation” coming on apace, now is no time to be overconfident or self-reliant. We must never lean on our own understanding or that of other men, be they political statesmen, economic adviser, social counselor or religious prophets. (Prov. 3:5, 6; Ps. 146:3) The person misplacing his confidence ‘in earthling man and actually making flesh his arm’ is “cursed” according to the book of Jeremiah. In contrast, it is written there in Jeremiah 17:5-8: “Blessed is the able-bodied man who puts his trust in Jehovah, and whose confidence Jehovah has become.”
21. How does the Bible warn against misplacing one’s confidence in material possessions?’
21 The person whose confidence is placed in Jehovah puts God’s kingdom first in his life, and thus avoids many of the anxieties caused by the economic squeeze. (Matt. 6:25-34) He does not forget what Jesus also said, that “even when a person has an abundance his life does not result from the things he possesses.” (Luke 12:15) How foolish, then, to hoard up material provisions and trust them to see one through the fury of the “great tribulation”! Says Proverbs 11:4, 28: “Valuable things will be of no benefit on the day of fury. . . . The one trusting in his riches—he himself will fall.” Faithful Job was careful not to misplace his confidence in material possessions, saying: “If I have put gold as my confidence, or to gold I have said, ‘You are my trust!’ . . . I should have denied the true God above.”—Job 31:24, 28.
22. Will the “great tribulation” come on this system of things due to its internal structural weaknesses?
22 Stock markets and prices may fall and heads of governments may topple, but these are not barometers that determine or measure the closeness of the storm of the “great tribulation.” Keep in mind that when world powers of the past were destroyed by Jehovah, they did not collapse because of internal weakness or from corruption within their own framework. They were going concerns at the apparent height of their power when God deposed them by external forces.
23. Faced with various calamities, even death, how can we individually look to the future with confidence?
23 While individuals among the Lord’s people may be killed between now and then (and the Scriptures indicate that some will be [Matt. 10:21; 24:9]), yet Jehovah’s people as a class will survive the “great tribulation.” Even if you personally should prove to be one who suffers great hardships and calamities—such as the collapse of your health, a death in your family, loss of children or material possessions, or economic disasters—yet, in spite of what occurs, you should never suffer the loss of your faith and confidence in Jehovah. Never doubt the promises of your God. Never grow fearful and run in a cowardly way for cover; never deny your God or compromise your integrity. And never allow your vision to become dim as regards angelic backing of those holding to their dedication to Jehovah.—2 Ki. 6:14-17; Hab. 3:17, 18.
24. With the “great tribulation” coming on apace, what mental attitude will Jehovah’s people have, as indicated by the Scriptures?
24 There is no question about it: “Happy is the one who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in Jehovah his God.” (Ps. 146:5) So rejoice in Jehovah and in the help, guidance, protection and spiritual prosperity that he has granted and is bestowing upon his faithful witnesses in this time of the end!—Luke 21:28; 2 Tim. 1:7.
25. For whom are the promises of Proverbs 3:25, 26 of special comfort and encouragement?
25 As Jehovah’s publicity agents, let us be fearless and bold, and keep on warning people of the day of God’s vengeance. (Ezek. 3:17) Let us keep on praying for God’s kingdom to come in all its fury against Satan’s wicked system, that it may be smashed to pieces and ground to powder. (Matt. 6:9, 10; Dan. 2:44; Mal. 4:3) As Jehovah’s Witnesses face the destruction of the Devil’s entire organization, oh, how encouraging do they find God’s promise at Proverbs 3:25, 26: “You will not need to be afraid of any sudden dreadful thing, nor of the storm upon the wicked ones, because it is coming. For Jehovah himself will prove to be, in effect, YOUR CONFIDENCE”!
a See the Book Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Divine Purpose.