The Critical Hour Nears!
1. (a) Why are the schemes of puny men doomed to failure? (b) What purpose of God must soon be carried out?
DESPITE clear warning and the colossal failure of human governments over centuries of time, imperfect, puny men are pushing ahead arrogantly with their schemes. But they will not do so for very much longer. Never for a moment should we doubt the ability of the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ to carry out the purpose he declared through his prophet: “And in the days of those kings [those ruling at ‘the time of the end’] the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite.”—Daniel 2:44; 12:9.
2. (a) How did Jesus illustrate the situation that now confronts mankind? (b) What warning was given, and with what result?
2 Jesus gave us another indication of the nearness of that critical hour. He referred to the conditions on earth in the days of Noah and reminded his followers that people then were completely engrossed in their own little plans and in leading a normal life, as they might have called it. Jesus said: “Just as the days of Noah were, so the presence of the Son of man will be. For as they were in those days before the flood, eating and drinking, men marrying and women being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark; and they took no note until the flood came and swept them all away, so the presence of the Son of man will be.” (Matthew 24:37-39) Those people were warned by the message that righteous Noah proclaimed decade after decade. (2 Peter 2:5) But how did the majority of the people regard that warning? Jesus said, “They took no note.” They were not interested in Noah and his message. And so it was that “only Noah and those who were with him in the ark kept on surviving,” eight souls in all.—Genesis 7:23.
Will You Heed the Warning?
3. How do people respond to the warning today?
3 Can we honestly say that we have not been warned? We have before us the same appearance of things as in Noah’s generation. Note how the majority ignore, scoff at or ridicule the message borne by Jehovah’s Witnesses today. Many are absorbed in their own day-to-day living and long-range planning. God and his purposes with regard to humankind and this earth do not even enter their minds. Many persons claim to be Christians and belong to some religious denomination, but only for the convenience and the so-called respectable image it gives them in modern society. They simply ‘take no note’ of the warning and must therefore take the consequences. But what about you? Will you wisely heed the signs of the times?
4. How did Paul and Peter foretell the present-day situation?
4 You have observed, have you not, how empires and kingdoms are splintering into fragments, how religious and political movements are breaking down into left, center and right groups, how so many want to have their own way, right or wrong. Does not this point to the “last days” foretold by the apostle Paul? He wrote: “But know this, that in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, self-assuming, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with pride, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God.” (2 Timothy 3:1-4) Surely, when we add the fulfillment of this prophecy to all the other things foretold by Jesus Christ, the signs of the times become very full of meaning. Truly, we are in those “last days,” and lack of discipline can be seen on all sides—in schools, in business, in labor circles, in society in general.—Compare 2 Peter 3:3-7.
5. (a) What questions should we now consider? (b) How does our expectation differ from that of worldly men?
5 Today, when ambitious men and leaders of nations likewise demonstrate lack of reasonableness and failure to reconcile all their conflicting claims and stubbornly forge ahead with their own schemes for world betterment, what will you do? What do the signs of the times definitely point to as the safe course for you? Will you be wiser and more reasonable than those prominent men? They do not consider the sacrificial death of Christ Jesus to be of any importance. They refuse to accept the fact that he died not only that we might all live but also to make possible his glorious kingdom by which he will destroy the power of the god of this world, Satan the Devil. (Hebrews 2:14) But you can exercise faith in the sure promises of the Creator. You can hope for the marvelous outcome that Jehovah assures to each one putting trust in him.—Psalm 37:3, 4, 28, 29, 39, 40.
An Urgent Call to Meek Ones
6. What urgent call now sounds forth, and why?
6 To you and to all who read the signs of the times accurately the urgent call is sounded out by the prophet of Jehovah God: “Before there comes upon you people the burning anger of Jehovah, before there comes upon you the day of Jehovah’s anger, seek Jehovah, all you meek ones of the earth, who have practiced His own judicial decision. Seek righteousness, seek meekness. Probably you may be concealed in the day of Jehovah’s anger.” (Zephaniah 2:2, 3) Clearly, Jehovah would provide an opportunity for lovers of peace and righteousness to get saved from a doomed system of things.
7. To what questions may we answer Yes with benefit to ourselves?
7 Instead of being obstinate and opinionated in the face of all these signs (like so many worldly political and religious leaders), are you meek, teachable and ready to listen eagerly to God’s provision for your safety? Have you tried to live according to the Bible’s standards of righteousness, that is, Jehovah’s “judicial decision”? Are you heartsick at the things you see and hear going on in the earth, yes, even in your own neighborhood? Unlike self-satisfied ones who do not care what happens to others so long as they get what they want out of life, are you not deeply moved by the hardships, oppressions and near-famine conditions under which millions of your helpless fellow humans have to live? If your answer to these questions is Yes, then probably you may prove to be among those to whom Jehovah promises concealment in the day of his wrath.—Isaiah 26:20, 21; Ezekiel 9:4-7.
8. How may we ‘seek meekness and righteousness’?
8 If you are a meek person, readily disposed to listen to divine teaching, how should you go about ‘seeking meekness and righteousness’? This may be a question on your mind. The meek and lowly One, Jesus, invites you to be truly his disciple. That would require that you study his example, his life’s work while he was on earth, and strive to do as he did. Note that he went about doing good, never doing evil even to his opposers. (Acts 10:38) God’s kingdom was often the theme of his teaching, of his illustrations, of his prayers. (Matthew 4:17; Luke 8:1) He had nothing in common with the political kingdoms of this world. (John 18:36) He demonstrated unshakable faith in God’s ability to fulfill all His promises toward His servants on earth. Jesus disapproved of those who claimed to be serving God while at the same time teaching doctrines unsupported by the written Word of God. (Mark 7:5-8) Are you prepared to imitate him in all these matters?
9. What fine example did Jesus set for us?
9 In no way did Jesus act independently of his heavenly Father. In fact, he declared: “The Son cannot do a single thing of his own initiative, but only what he beholds the Father doing. For whatever things that One does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” (John 5:19; 7:16-18) Again he said: “He that sent me is with me; he did not abandon me to myself, because I always do the things pleasing to him.” (John 8:29) He showed no inclination to live his life in his own way for the gratification of personal desires and ambitions. He flatly turned down the world rulership and prominence offered him by Satan the Devil. (Luke 4:5-8) Will you accept and follow Jesus’ example in order to gain the approval and blessing of Jehovah God?
Where to Look for Help
10. (a) What outstanding aid has God provided, and how may we avail ourselves of it? (b) What meaning do the words of John 17:3 have for us?
10 It is not possible for you to follow that course in your own strength, so subtle and deceptive are the methods of the archdeceiver. You need all the assistance that God has furnished to enable you to succeed. The outstanding aid that he has provided is the Holy Bible. (2 Timothy 3:16, 17) As you know, one cannot learn what is in the Bible simply by listening to a brief sermon each week and engaging in various rites and ceremonies. There is need for a course of Bible study, not for yourself alone but also for your family. Remember, this is the only Book that can make good its claim to having the Creator of heaven and earth as its Author. No other book or basis for study can offer its reverent students what Jesus indicated, namely: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.” (John 17:3) There are men and women versed in Bible knowledge who are ready to assist you without charge or obligation. You have only to ask Jehovah’s Witnesses and you will receive the needed help to get started.
11, 12. (a) What promise does Jehovah hold forth to those meekly studying his Word? (b) How may we have our names written in God’s “book of remembrance”?
11 What a wonderful promise God holds forth to those who think upon and discuss among themselves the practical benefits of studying what God and Christ have revealed about themselves! Note how it is expressed by one of Jehovah’s prophets of old: “At that time [when Jehovah settles accounts with his presumptuous enemies who thought they would get away with wickedness forever] those in fear of Jehovah spoke with one another, each one with his companion, and Jehovah kept paying attention and listening. And a book of remembrance began to be written up before him for those in fear of Jehovah and for those thinking upon his name.”—Malachi 3:16.
12 This means much more than just living a good, respectable life according to this world’s standards. It means obtaining accurate knowledge of God’s purposes toward man, learning what he expects of us, and then devoting our life to serving him and doing his will in every aspect of life. How else could we expect Jehovah to write our names in his “book of remembrance”? How could he remember us for good if we fail to show reverent fear of his Word and name, and fail to discuss them with our fellow humans at every possible opportunity?—Romans 10:10.
13. (a) What counsel of Jesus and of Paul may we apply in our lives? (b) How may we show ourselves to be “wise persons”?
13 A businessman, a student in school, or a busy housewife may conclude that he or she is too busy to give time to such a study. But it is good to recall Jesus’ kindly words of warning about the uncertainties of plans, ambitions, even of life itself: “What benefit will it be to a man if he gains the whole world but forfeits his soul [or, life]?” (Matthew 16:26) Then also there are the apostle Paul’s words that apply so pointedly in these urgent times when we are surrounded by signs of the approaching end of a wicked system of things: “So keep strict watch that how you walk is not as unwise but as wise persons, buying out the opportune time for yourselves, because the days are wicked. On this account . . . go on perceiving what the will of Jehovah is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17) In view of the calamity that Jehovah is about to bring in upon this whole wicked world, it is good to heed his counsel given through his prophets: “Search for Jehovah, you people, while he may be found.” “This is what Jehovah has said . . . , ‘Search for me, and keep living.’”—Isaiah 55:6; Amos 5:4.
14. (a) What mistake do many make today, and why? (b) In this regard, what sound advice is found at James 4:13-16?
14 There are those who enjoy good health and an abundance of energy, mental and physical, and for this reason may not feel so keenly their dependence on the Creator. So the tendency is for them to make great plans for their future and give little thought to God’s place in their lives. They set their sights upon wealth or honor among men or a comfortable and carefree old age. God is not in all their thoughts and plans. Wisely the inspired Bible writer warns: “Come, now, you who say: ‘Today or tomorrow we will journey to this city and will spend a year there, and we will engage in business and make profits,’ whereas you do not know what your life will be tomorrow. For you are a mist appearing for a little while and then disappearing [your life is so short at best]. Instead, you ought to say: ‘If Jehovah wills, we shall live and also do this or that.’ But now you take pride in your self-assuming brags. All such taking of pride is wicked.”—James 4:13-16.
15. In view of the signs of the times, what urgent need should we recognize today?
15 So, then, whatever your present position in life, there is urgent reason for you to associate with the more than two million people throughout the earth, of many nations and languages, who are widely known as students of the Bible and proclaimers of its message, and particularly identified by their witnessing to Jehovah’s name and kingdom.—Isaiah 43:10, 12; Matthew 24:14.
What vital counsel does each of the following scriptures provide for us at this time?
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Like Jesus, we should demonstrate unshakable faith in God’s ability to fulfill all his promises
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As Jehovah’s day of vindication nears, is your name written in his book of remembrance?