Act Promptly Upon the “Sign”!
“Keep awake, because you do not know the day nor the hour.”—MATTHEW 25:13, Byington.
1. Why would it be unwise to be like the foolish virgins of Jesus’ parable?
IN THE light of the incoming golden age for the world of redeemed mankind, how unwise it is to be like the five foolish virgins of Jesus’ parable! They acted too late and did not make it into “the kingdom of the heavens.” Those foolish ones did not act as illuminators at the needed time. (Matthew 25:1-12) When “this good news of the kingdom” shall have been preached “in all the inhabited earth for a witness” and “the end” is due, they will have lost their opportunity to share in that never-to-be-repeated privilege of service.—Matthew 24:14.
2, 3. (a) With what admonition did Jesus conclude the parable of the ten virgins? (b) Why is that admonition still timely, and with what does the ‘discreet virgin’ class therefore need to keep supplied?
2 That is why Jesus Christ closed his parable with this admonition: “Keep on the watch, therefore, because you know neither the day nor the hour.”—Matthew 25:1-13.
3 Those words of the Bridegroom Jesus Christ are very timely, especially now, 71 years into this “conclusion of the system of things.” Even at this late date the remnant of the ‘discreet virgin’ class does not know the day or hour when “the door” will be shut to further opportunity for admittance into the heavenly Kingdom to be with the Bridegroom to whom they are espoused. Constantly it behooves those seeking to prove themselves discreet virgins to keep supplied with spiritual oil. In doing so they let the light shine by spreading “this good news of the kingdom” for an earth-wide, international witness until “the end” comes.—Matthew 24:14; Mark 13:10; Revelation 14:6, 7.
“Sheep” and “Goats” Now Being Separated
4. According to Matthew’s account, what final parable of Jesus must be fulfilled as part of the “sign” of His “presence”?
4 Before “the end” comes to “the conclusion of the system of things,” another work of separating people must take place and serve as part of the “sign” indicating that we are in “the time of the end.” (Daniel 12:4) This is the fulfillment of Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goats, with which Matthew closes his account of Christ’s great prophecy concerning the “sign” of His invisible “presence” and of “the conclusion of the system of things.”
5. When was the separating of people like sheep and goats to take place?
5 Note now what Jesus foretold about this, as recorded at Matthew 25:31-46. He began the parable by saying: “When the Son of man arrives in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will put the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.” What follows next? Jesus continued:
6. What does the Shepherd-King say to the people on his right?
6 “Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who have been blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world. For I became hungry and you gave me something to eat; I got thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you received me hospitably; naked, and you clothed me. I fell sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to me.’
7. What inquiry will the righteous, sheeplike people make, and how will the King reply?
7 “Then the righteous ones will answer him with the words, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty, and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and receive you hospitably, or naked, and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to you?’ And in reply the king will say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, To the extent that you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”
8. (a) The goatlike people did not act promptly to do what? (b) So where will the King send them in contrast with the righteous, sheeplike ones?
8 “The goats” do not act promptly on the “sign.” They do not do the things done by “the sheep” class. Thus we read: “Then he will say, in turn, to those on his left, ‘Be on your way from me, you who have been cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels. For I became hungry, but you gave me nothing to eat, and I got thirsty, but you gave me nothing to drink. I was a stranger, but you did not receive me hospitably; naked, but you did not clothe me; sick and in prison, but you did not look after me.’ Then they also will answer with the words, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them with the words, ‘Truly I say to you, To the extent that you did not do it to one of these least ones, you did not do it to me.’ And these will depart into everlasting cutting-off, but the righteous ones into everlasting life.”
9. For having done what during the present-day fulfillment of Jesus’ parable of “the sheep” and “the goats” can you be happy?
9 Likely you are taking part in the fulfillment of this prophetic illustration. Did you note the good things Jesus mentioned? Have you done such things to his “brothers”? Happy you can be if you have acted as a “sheep” toward them!
10. How did Jesus draw a distinction between his “brothers” and those pictured by “the sheep” and “the goats,” and what basis is there in the Bible for this?
10 Jesus drew a distinction between his spiritual “brothers” and those proving to be like sheep or goats. At the time of this parable’s fulfillment, his “brothers” are those who have imitated him by unreservedly giving themselves to God. Like Jesus, they have offered public evidence of this by getting baptized in water. Moreover, Jehovah, the Father of the King Jesus Christ, has become their heavenly Father by begetting them with His holy spirit and thus making them spiritual “brothers” of his Son. This puts them in line for a place in the heavenly Kingdom with their Elder Brother, Jesus Christ, the “King of kings and Lord of lords.” (Revelation 19:16) In this connection it was written concerning him: “For both he who is sanctifying and those who are being sanctified all stem from one, and for this cause he is not ashamed to call them ‘brothers,’ as he says: ‘I will declare your name to my brothers; in the middle of the congregation I will praise you with song.’” (Hebrews 2:11, 12) Here Psalm 22:22 is applied to the glorified Son of God, Jesus Christ.
11. Are there many of Jesus’ spiritual “brothers” now on earth, and what class, or “congregation,” do they make up?
11 There is yet on earth a remnant of those spiritual “brothers” of the reigning King Jesus Christ. As a class, or “congregation,” they make up “the faithful and discreet slave” that Jesus foretold in his prophecy on “the conclusion of the system of things.” He said: “Who really is the faithful and discreet slave whom his master appointed over his domestics, to give them their food at the proper time? Happy is that slave if his master on arriving finds him doing so. Truly I say to you, He will appoint him over all his belongings.”—Matthew 24:45-47.
12. (a) Since 1919 the “slave” class has been outstanding in doing what? (b) Over what “belongings” has the “slave” been appointed? (c) The “slave” now in action is part of what?
12 Historical facts answer Jesus’ question about the identity of this “slave.” “The congregation” that serves as the “slave” is made up of his God-given “brothers” still on earth. It is the same as the ‘discreet virgin’ class. Since 1919 this “slave” has been outstanding in serving fresh spiritual food from the Bible to the “domestics” of the Master’s household, doing so at a time most “proper” for it. Hence, the invisible Master has appointed this dependable “slave” class “over all his belongings” of a spiritual kind. Particularly is this so in connection with the preaching of “this good news of the kingdom” throughout all the earth, over which he rules. Until now this Kingdom witness has increased! “The faithful and discreet slave” in action is a prominent part of the “sign” showing us what time it is.
13. Since when have “all the nations” been gathered before the King, and when did the “slave” begin gathering “the sheep” to His right side?
13 It is to the members of the “slave” class that the righteous “sheep” have done good things. The symbolic sheep and goats are people of all the nations to which the Kingdom witness now is being given. So, as represented by such sheep and goats, “all the nations” have been gathered before the King seated on his heavenly throne since the end of the Gentile Times in 1914. In line with that foretold gathering, noteworthy is the year 1935. The Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, which is used by the “slave” class, then had some 49 branch offices earth wide. In that same year the attention of the “slave” was specifically directed to the earthly sheeplike ones, with a view to gathering them to the right side of the reigning King Jesus Christ. Thus, these out of all nations came into closer association with the “slave” class.
14. In the light of John 10:16, what new view was taken of the righteous sheeplike ones, and how many branch offices of the Watch Tower Society now serve them?
14 Those righteous, sheeplike ones no longer were to be given a broad general classification as “men of good will.” (Luke 2:14, Douay Version) No more were they to be viewed as an indefinite, unorganized class of God-fearing people in all nations—lost sheep, as it were. Jesus said he would gather “other sheep” and make them “one flock” with the remnant of the “slave” class. (John 10:16) The gathering of such “other sheep” from then on is an outstanding part of the “sign” marking “the conclusion of the system of things.” And to serve them the Watch Tower Society now has 95 branch offices.
Timely Action on the “Sign” Rewarded
15. To “inherit the kingdom,” what requirements must “the sheep” meet?
15 According to Jesus’ parable, the righteous “sheep” must meet certain requirements during “the conclusion of the system of things.” They have to recognize and acknowledge Christ’s spiritual “brothers” who make up “the faithful and discreet slave” class. “The sheep” must also do good things to the “slave” class, even visit them when they are unjustly confined in prison. This “the sheep” must do so as to enjoy the blessing of the heavenly Father and have the King Jesus Christ invite them to “inherit the kingdom prepared for [them] from the founding of the world.”—Matthew 25:34.
16. By the words “inherit the kingdom,” the King invites “the sheep” to enter what, surviving what “war”?
16 Since these “sheep” are not the King’s spiritual “brothers,” he does not invite them to sit on heavenly thrones and rule with him for the special thousand years of his reign. By his words “inherit the kingdom,” he is inviting them to enter the Kingdom era after he has destroyed all the ungodly kingdoms of this world during “the war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon. (Revelation 16:13-16) Many of the sheeplike ones now living will survive that war of all wars and enter into Christ’s Thousand Year Reign without dying.
17. How does the King speak to “the sheep,” and how did he acquire something to bequeath to them?
17 So the King Jesus Christ speaks to these “sheep” as to his children whose time has come to enter into an inheritance from him. By his death as a perfect human to provide a ransom sacrifice for all mankind, he gave up all prospects of personally enjoying the earthly Paradise. (Luke 23:39-43) In this respect Jesus, “the last Adam,” is unlike “the first man Adam” who sinned and forfeited the earthly Paradise for all his offspring. Thus the resurrected Jesus Christ, who becomes the “Eternal Father” of all the redeemed world of mankind, had something to bequeath to these sheeplike ones on earth. (1 Corinthians 15:45; Isaiah 9:6, 7) The human family was founded in “the first man Adam,” with all his Paradise prospects and opportunities. But that lost Paradise is to be restored by means of God’s Kingdom in the hands of “the last Adam,” Jesus Christ.
18. In what sense was the Kingdom realm “prepared for [the sheep] from the founding of the world”?
18 Not until after they had been driven out of the first Paradise did Adam and Eve begin to have children. Their second son, righteous Abel, was murdered by their first son, Cain. So their son Seth was viewed as taking Abel’s place. With the birth of such offspring, the world of mankind was founded. But before this, when the parents of the world of mankind were driven out of Paradise, Jehovah God made his merciful promise concerning a “seed” that would bruise, or crush, the head of the symbolic Serpent, Satan the Devil. That “seed” was to be a royal Seed, and this involved a Kingdom, according to God’s purpose and forevision. (Genesis 3:15) When Satan the Serpent and his seed are put out of action, therefore, the redeemed ones of mankind would enter into a Kingdom realm on earth, under the heavenly government of the victorious Seed that crushes the Serpent and his seed. In this way “the kingdom” that the sheeplike ones “inherit” from their Eternal Father, Jesus Christ, is the Kingdom realm that was “prepared for [them] from the founding of the world.”
19. What kind of start will the post-Armageddon system of things have on earth?
19 Since the symbolic goats will be cut off in destruction at Armageddon, the surviving “sheep” will give a righteous start to the post-Armageddon system of things on a Paradise earth. Regarding this, Jesus said: “These [goatlike ones] will depart into everlasting cutting-off, but the righteous ones into everlasting life.”—Matthew 25:46.
20. How can we avoid misinterpreting the features of the “sign”?
20 During this “conclusion of the system of things” since the end of the Gentile Times in 1914, “the sheep” and “the goats” differ in the way they interpret the “sign” of Jesus’ “presence.” Since we unquestionably are in a time of judgment, this question is of vital concern: What does the “sign” signify to us? If left to our own judgment, we might misinterpret the features of that “sign.” So we do well to ask: What does Jesus Christ say that this composite “sign” should indicate to us? According to him, it should signify that the present system of things is to end shortly in a “great tribulation” more destructive than the global Flood of Noah’s day.—Matthew 24:21.
21. (a) Although the “great tribulation” is ahead, why should we rejoice? (b) What opportunity and possibility exist for “the sheep” class of today?
21 Yet, rejoice, for this “sign” also signifies that the Millennial Reign of Jesus Christ is at hand, is ready to begin after the destruction of Satan’s system of things on earth. (Luke 21:28) Therefore, under divine protection you have the priceless opportunity of surviving that “great tribulation” right on into the new system of things, in which righteousness is to dwell forever. Indeed, there is set before you the possibility of never dying but of living endlessly and blessedly in a paradise earth under the universal sovereignty of Jehovah God!
22. (a) If we act on the “sign” promptly and aright, what will we do? (b) In connection with the “sign,” how will Jesus Christ be vindicated?
22 Whether we are Christ’s spiritual “brothers” or the righteous “sheep,” then, let us act on the “sign” promptly and aright. Let us have a further part in the outworking of its prominent feature: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations.” Then we shall have nothing to fear when “the end” comes. Instead, our joy will overflow! Then, too, Jesus Christ will be vindicated as the reliable forecaster of the many-featured “sign . . . of the conclusion of the system of things.”—Matthew 24:3–25:46.
Can You Answer?
□ When were people to be separated like sheep and goats?
□ You can be happy for doing what during the fulfillment of Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goats?
□ Who constitute the King’s “brothers” and “the faithful and discreet slave”?
□ In order to “inherit the kingdom,” what requirements must sheeplike ones meet?
□ What will we do if we act promptly and aright on the “sign” of Jesus’ “presence”?
[Blurb on page 23]
Act promptly on the “sign” of Jesus’ “presence.” Doing so can mean eternal life in Paradise
[Picture on page 20]
As a shepherd separates sheep from goats, so Jesus Christ is separating people today. Are you a sheeplike person?