Listening to Jehovah as the End Draws Near
“Happy is the man that is listening to me . . . For the one finding me will certainly find life.”—PROVERBS 8:34, 35.
1, 2. (a) Despite the lack of peace throughout man’s history, what do some now say? (b) Why is true peace through human efforts impossible?
DESPITE the lack of peace throughout history, especially in this 20th century, some say that the nations are taking steps to resolve their difficulties. They point to the fact that world leaders hold summit meetings to talk about peace and sign various agreements. Why, the United Nations even declared last year to be the “International Year of Peace”! It was hoped that this would see the beginning of an extra effort by the nations to promote peace, with possible success in the near future.
2 However, in all history, have similar efforts ever brought permanent peace? If that were humanly possible, there should have been peace long ago—long before there were five billion people split into more than 160 nations, with countless varieties of political, economic, and religious philosophies. But there has never been peace; nor will peace ever result from the efforts of this world’s leaders. Why not? For one reason, because mankind’s problems are now so serious that they are unsolvable by human efforts alone. As Jeremiah 10:23 so correctly says: “It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.”
Why Human Efforts Cannot Succeed
3. For what other reason will men and nations never bring true peace?
3 There is another reason why the efforts of men and nations can never bring true peace. The Bible refers to it at 1 John 5:19, saying: “The whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” Revelation 12:9 indicates that “the wicked one” is “the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth.” Second Corinthians 4:4 calls him “the god of this system of things.” Thus, the entire present system of political, economic, and religious rule that has produced so much violence is the product of Satan’s rule, not of God’s rule. That is why, when speaking of the wisdom that comes from God, 1 Corinthians 2:8 says: “This wisdom not one of the rulers of this system of things came to know.”—Luke 4:5, 6.
4. What resulted after our first parents stopped listening to Jehovah?
4 When Satan rebelled against God, he induced our first parents to listen to him instead of listening to God. As a result, they deviated from obedience to God and brought upon the human family some 6,000 years of agony. The Bible clearly tells us that Satan induced humans to believe that they would do better by not listening to their Creator. (Genesis 3:1-5) In his wisdom, Jehovah has let the world of mankind in general proceed on its own, without his guidance, up to the present time. And surely, in all these centuries, it has been amply demonstrated that human rule has been a failure.—Deuteronomy 32:5; Ecclesiastes 8:9.
5. Even if peace could be brought about by human efforts, what would still be with us?
5 Moreover, when Adam and Eve stopped listening to Jehovah, the Source of perfect life, they became imperfect and eventually died. Thus, all their descendants were born imperfect. Sickness, old age, and death became mankind’s lot. (Romans 5:12) Therefore, even if humans could succeed in bringing peace, they still could not cure inherited imperfection. We would still get sick, grow old, and die. Since Satan was responsible for this, Jesus said of him: “That one was a manslayer [a murderer] when he began, and he did not stand fast in the truth.” (John 8:44) Really, when you think about the billions who have lived and died in the past, it is as if Satan murdered all of them.
6. Who are the peace wreckers, and what must happen to them?
6 Satan also induced other spirit creatures to join him in rebellion, and all these wicked ones refused to listen when Jehovah spoke. So it is Satan, his demons, and rebellious humans who have brought this world to its present condition. They must all be put out of the way, ending this disastrous 6,000-year experiment in independence from God. “The God who gives peace,” assures Romans 16:20, “will crush Satan . . . shortly,” as well as his demons and all humans who refuse to listen when God speaks.—Matthew 25:41.
Greater Need to Listen Now
7. Why should we intensify our efforts to serve Jehovah now?
7 We are now very deep into the final part of these “last days.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5) As a result, there is an ever-greater need to listen to what Jehovah is saying to us. There is a corresponding need to intensify our willingness to make sacrifices to serve him. Why intensify our efforts? Because Satan knows that he has only “a short period of time” left. (Revelation 12:12) So he will surely intensify his efforts to corrupt and destroy.
8. (a) Why can the preaching work not be stopped by its enemies? (b) What must we do to keep divine backing?
8 Satan would especially like to stop Jehovah’s Witnesses from preaching the Kingdom good news. But he cannot, for Jehovah has promised them: “Any weapon whatever that will be formed against you will have no success.” (Isaiah 54:17) Those who oppose his servants will “be found fighters actually against God.” (Acts 5:38, 39) So, with the powerful backing of Jehovah’s spirit, Christ Jesus, and multitudes of angelic forces, the work of Kingdom proclamation grows in intensity each year. To keep that divine backing, Jehovah’s servants are careful to obey the counsel at James 4:7, 8: “Subject yourselves, therefore, to God; but oppose the Devil, and he will flee from you. Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you.”
9. Why should we not underestimate Satan?
9 Do not underestimate Satan’s capacity for deception and harm. God’s Word warns: “Keep your senses, be watchful. Your adversary, the Devil, walks about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone. But take your stand against him, solid in the faith.” (1 Peter 5:8, 9) If you knew that a crazed lion was on the loose in your neighborhood, you would take precautions to protect yourself and your family. Where Satan is concerned, we must be even more alert, as he can do us everlasting harm. Sadly, most people are defenseless because they do not even know that Satan exists. Why so? Because they choose not to listen to Jehovah’s Word. And what will result from that bad choice? “Whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap.”—Galatians 6:7.
When They Cry “Peace and Security!”
10, 11. (a) What should we bear in mind regarding any success the nations may have in bringing peace? (b) What Bible prophecy bears on the search for peace by the nations in our time? (c) How lasting will any such peace be?
10 Do not be caught off guard by any success that the nations may have in bringing peace. Always keep in mind that Jehovah is not using any of this world’s agencies toward that end. Jehovah has his own way of bringing true peace, and that is only by means of his Kingdom under Christ. So whatever success the nations may have in establishing peace, it will be brief and only a veneer. Nothing will really have changed. Crime, violence, war, hunger, poverty, family breakdown, immorality, sickness, death, and Satan and his demons will still be with us until Jehovah eliminates all of them. “Unless Jehovah himself builds the house, it is to no avail that its builders have worked hard on it.”—Psalm 127:1.
11 Bible prophecy does show that the nations would make a concerted effort toward peace in our time. It states: “You yourselves know quite well that Jehovah’s day is coming exactly as a thief in the night. Whenever it is that they are saying: ‘Peace and security!’ then sudden destruction is to be instantly upon them just as the pang of distress upon a pregnant woman; and they will by no means escape.” (1 Thessalonians 5:2, 3) That cry of “Peace and security!” will not mean that the decay of this world has been reversed. Second Timothy 3:13 says that “wicked men and impostors will advance from bad to worse.” The reality will still be as the head of an environmental organization said: “The central problem facing society is that it has become ungovernable.”
12. What do Jehovah’s servants know about the real significance of the coming ‘peace and security’ cry?
12 Many in the world will be deluded by vain hopes during the coming cry of “Peace and security!” But Jehovah’s servants will not be, for they listen when God speaks. Thus they know from his Word that such a declaration will not bring true peace and security. Instead, it will in reality be the final signal that “sudden destruction is to be instantly upon them.” It will herald the imminent beginning of the “great tribulation” that Jesus foretold for our time. He said: “For then there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.”—Matthew 24:21.
13. How does the Bible describe the end of human rulerships?
13 During the “great tribulation,” human rule will be brought to an end. Psalm 2:2-6 says: “The kings of earth take their stand and high officials themselves have massed together as one against Jehovah and against his anointed one, saying: ‘Let us tear their bands apart and cast their cords away from us!’ The very One sitting in the heavens will laugh; Jehovah himself will hold them in derision. At that time he will speak to them in his anger and in his hot displeasure he will disturb them, saying: ‘I, even I, have installed my king upon [heavenly] Zion, my holy mountain.’” Psalm 110:5, 6 adds: “Jehovah himself . . . will certainly break kings to pieces on the day of his anger. He will execute judgment among the nations.” All political schemes will end, for Isaiah 8:9, 10 declares: “Gird yourselves, and be shattered to pieces! Gird yourselves, and be shattered to pieces! Plan out a scheme, and it will be broken up! Speak any word, and it will not stand, for God is with us!”
Confident of Survival
14. Why are we confident that there will be survivors of this world’s end?
14 We are confident that Jehovah will keep his people well informed so that they can take proper steps for surviving the coming “great tribulation.” How can we be so certain? Because the prophecy at Revelation 7:9, 14 shows that “a great crowd” does indeed survive. Why? Because of listening when Jehovah speaks and being properly instructed. In this way those of the “great crowd” are able to do what Revelation 7:15 says: “They are rendering him sacred service day and night.” Thus they do God’s will, meet his approval, and are protected to survive this world’s end.—1 John 2:15-17.
15. How does Joel describe the crushing of this system, and what will be the result for God’s servants?
15 Joel 3:13-16 also refers to the survival of God’s servants when this system is crushed like grapes in a wine press. It states: “Thrust in a sickle, for harvest has grown ripe. . . . The press vats actually overflow; for their badness has become abundant. Crowds, crowds are in the low plain of the decision, for the day of Jehovah is near in the low plain of the decision. Sun and moon themselves will certainly become dark, and the very stars will actually withdraw their brightness. And out of [heavenly] Zion Jehovah himself will roar . . . Heaven and earth certainly will rock; but Jehovah will be a refuge for his people.”
16. What other prophecies show that Jehovah will preserve his people through world destruction?
16 Similarly, at Isaiah 26:20, 21, Jehovah says of that coming time: “Go, my people, enter into your interior rooms, and shut your doors behind you. Hide yourself for but a moment until the denunciation passes over. For, look! Jehovah is coming forth from his place to call to account the error of the inhabitant of the land against him.” Therefore, Zephaniah 2:2, 3 urges: “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.”
‘Running’ to Jehovah
17. (a) What must be done to get Jehovah’s protection? (b) What did people in the pre-Flood world do wrong?
17 Proverbs 18:10 states: “The name of Jehovah is a strong tower. Into it the righteous runs and is given protection.” Are you ‘running’ to Jehovah? Remember what Jesus said about people in Noah’s day. They were “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.” (Matthew 24:38, 39) What was wrong was their preoccupation with everything else to the exclusion of listening to God when he spoke through his servant Noah, “a preacher of righteousness.” (2 Peter 2:5) Because they did not listen, when the Flood came it “swept them all away” into destruction.
18. Why did their just being “nice” people not save those who were destroyed in the Flood?
18 Many of those who died in the Flood no doubt considered themselves “nice” people, not being involved in the violence that filled society in those days. But just being “nice” did not save them. By their apathy they condoned the evil of their day. The crucial thing was that they did not ‘run’ to Jehovah; they did not listen when God’s servant spoke. So they did not take the proper steps for survival. On the other hand, those who did listen survived.
19. What marvelous benefit do Jehovah’s servants reap even now, and why?
19 Today God is speaking peace to those who listen to him. With what result to them? Isaiah 54:13 states: “All your sons will be persons taught by Jehovah, and the peace of your sons will be abundant.” Yes, “Jehovah himself will bless his people with peace.” (Psalm 29:11) Thus, in the midst of this violent world, Jehovah’s Witnesses have true, unbreakable peace among themselves. They have a loving international brotherhood that world leaders, their nations, and their religions cannot duplicate. Why not? Because these do not really listen when God speaks. So they do not act on what he says. But Jehovah’s Witnesses do listen to God. They take seriously the words at Ecclesiastes 12:13: “Fear the true God and keep his commandments. For this is the whole obligation of man.”
20. What must every person do to survive into God’s new world?
20 That is what every person—yes, all who want to live in God’s new world—must do. They must ‘run’ to Jehovah without delay. Indeed, they must be guided by God-given wisdom that is represented as saying: “Listen to me; yes, happy are the ones that keep my very ways. Listen to discipline and become wise, and do not show any neglect. Happy is the man that is listening to me . . . For the one finding me will certainly find life.”—Proverbs 8:32-35.
How Would You Respond?
□ Why will human efforts never succeed in bringing peace?
□ Why is there now a greater need to listen to Jehovah?
□ What will the coming cry of “Peace and security!” really mean?
□ What must we do if we want to survive into God’s new system?
[Picture on page 17]
Like a roaring lion, Satan is intensifying his efforts to corrupt and destroy
[Picture on page 18]
When this system is crushed like grapes in a winepress, “Jehovah will be a refuge for his people”