Endurance That Gains the Victory
“You have need of endurance, in order that, after you have done the will of God, you may receive the fulfillment of the promise.”—HEBREWS 10:36.
1. Why is endurance a must for everyone who serves Jehovah God today?
THIS whole world is lying in the power of a seditious god. Its unseen ruler, Satan the Devil, is concentrating all his efforts on opposing Jehovah and fighting against the vindication of Jehovah’s universal sovereignty by the Messianic Kingdom. This makes it unavoidable that anyone who dedicates himself to God and takes His side of the issue of sovereignty will be continually opposed by this world. (John 15:18-20; 1 John 5:19) Hence, each of us must brace himself to endure until this world goes down in utter defeat at Armageddon. To be among God’s victorious ones who overcome the world by their faith and integrity, we must hold on doggedly until the end. (1 John 5:4) How can we do that?
2, 3. How are Jehovah God and Jesus Christ the greatest examples of endurance?
2 For one thing, we can look for encouragement to two outstanding examples of endurance. Who are these? One is Jesus Christ, “the firstborn of all creation,” who has faithfully persevered in God’s service ever since he was brought into existence at an unknown time in the past. In his persistence in serving God faithfully, Jesus became an example to all intelligent creatures who were afterward brought into existence in heaven and on earth. (Colossians 1:15, 16) However, the greatest example of endurance is Jehovah God, who has long endured rebellion against his universal sovereignty and will continue to do so until he acts to settle the issue of sovereignty with finality.
3 Jehovah has endured in an exemplary way in matters where his dignity and his keenest personal feelings are concerned. He has restrained himself in the face of great provocation and has restricted himself from taking action against those who have reviled him—including Satan the Devil. We are grateful for God’s endurance and for his mercy. Without these, we would not have enjoyed even the briefest existence. Indeed, Jehovah God has distinguished himself beyond all compare by his endurance.
4, 5. (a) How does Paul’s illustration of a potter show God’s endurance and his mercy? (b) How will God’s mercy prove not to have been misspent?
4 The apostle Paul points both to the endurance and to the mercy of God when he says: “Does not the potter have authority over the clay to make from the same lump one vessel for an honorable use, another for a dishonorable use? If, now, God, although having the will to demonstrate his wrath and to make his power known, tolerated with much long-suffering vessels of wrath made fit for destruction, in order that he might make known the riches of his glory upon vessels of mercy, which he prepared beforehand for glory, namely, us, whom he called not only from among Jews but also from among nations, what of it?”—Romans 9:21-24.
5 As these words show, during this present period of his endurance, Jehovah proceeds with his glorious purpose and shows mercy upon certain human vessels. He prepares these vessels for everlasting glory and thus defeats the wicked purposes of his great opposer, Satan the Devil, and of all Satan’s cohorts. Not all of humankind have turned out to be vessels of wrath, deserving of destruction. That speaks well of the patient endurance of Almighty God. His mercy will not be in vain. It will result in (1) a glorious Kingdom family in the heavens under Jehovah’s beloved Son, Jesus Christ, and (2) a recovered and perfected race of human creatures on a paradise earth, all inheritors of everlasting life.
Enduring to the End
6. (a) Why can Christians not avoid a test of endurance? (b) What does the Greek word for “endurance” usually denote?
6 With such a marvelous hope ahead, Jesus’ bracing words should constantly ring in our ears, namely: “He that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved.” (Matthew 24:13) It is important to start out well in the course of Christian discipleship. But what ultimately counts is how we endure, how well we finish the course. The apostle Paul stressed this when he said: “You have need of endurance, in order that, after you have done the will of God, you may receive the fulfillment of the promise.” (Hebrews 10:36) The Greek word here translated “endurance” is hy·po·mo·neʹ. This usually denotes courageous, steadfast, or patient endurance that does not lose hope in the face of obstacles, persecutions, trials, and temptations. If we hope to win eventual salvation, we must submit to a test of endurance as part of the necessary preparation for that salvation.
7. What delusion must we avoid, and whose example will help us endure?
7 We should not delude ourselves by the self-pleasing idea that we can get the test over with in a hurry. In order that the issues of universal sovereignty and of man’s integrity could be decisively answered, Jehovah did not spare himself. He has endured unpleasant things even though he could have blotted them out instantly. Jesus Christ also was a model of endurance. (1 Peter 2:21; compare Romans 15:3-5.) With these shining examples before us, surely we too are willing to endure down to the finish.—Hebrews 12:2, 3.
A Needed Qualification
8. What quality that all of us need did the apostle Paul demonstrate?
8 No servant of God, even from the earliest times, has been exempted from the need to prove his integrity by enduring. Very prominent individuals in Bible history who remained faithful to the death and qualified for everlasting life in the heavens had to prove their steadfastness. For example, the former Pharisee, Saul of Tarsus, said to the Corinthians: “I did not prove to be inferior to your superfine apostles in a single thing, even if I am nothing. Indeed, the signs of an apostle were produced among you by all endurance, and by signs and portents and powerful works.” (2 Corinthians 12:11, 12) Despite the burdens of the work, Paul prized his ministry so highly that he endured much and earnestly tried not to bring any reproach on it.—2 Corinthians 6:3, 4, 9.
9. (a) How have the anointed remnant shown endurance, and with what result? (b) What serves as an incentive for us to carry on faithfully in divine service?
9 In more modern times, anointed Christians who were serving God prior to the first world war knew that 1914 would mark the end of the Times of the Gentiles, and many of them expected to receive their heavenly reward in that memorable year. But this did not happen. As the facts now show, they had decades of years added to them. During this unexpected extension of their earthly life course, they underwent refinement at the hand of Jehovah God. (Zechariah 13:9; Malachi 3:2, 3) Continued endurance worked out for their betterment. As servants of Jehovah, they rejoiced to be designated as his name people. (Isaiah 43:10-12; Acts 15:14) Today, having been brought through two world wars and numerous smaller conflicts, they thrill to be aided in the spreading of the good news by a growing great crowd of other sheep, now numbering more than four million. The spiritual paradise that they enjoy has spread over all the earth, even to the most distant islands of the sea. This favored treatment, which we appreciate more and more the longer we live, has served as an incentive to carry on faithfully in divine service until Jehovah’s will and purpose are fully accomplished.
10. Lest there be any weakening by us, what is regularly needed?
10 Since our reward depends on our steadfastness, we constantly need exhortation on this vital matter. (1 Corinthians 15:58; Colossians 1:23) In order that there be no weakening among Jehovah’s people, we must be regularly encouraged to hold on to the truth and to the precious privilege of spreading the truth, just as the newly formed congregations were in the first century by return visits from Paul and Barnabas. (Acts 14:21, 22) Let it be our firm resolve and determination that, as the apostle John put it, the truth will remain in us, “and it will be with us forever.”—2 John 2.
Waiting With Unwavering Endurance
11. What seems to be God’s rule with his servants, and how was this illustrated in the case of Joseph?
11 It takes time for the test concerning us to be completed. (James 1:2-4) Wait! Wait! Wait! seems to have been God’s rule with his servants of old when they were tested as to their determination to continue in the faith. But the wait, in the end, always proved to be a rewarding one for those faithful servants. Joseph, for instance, had to wait 13 years as a slave and a prisoner, but the experience refined his personality.—Psalm 105:17-19.
12, 13. (a) How was Abraham an example of faithful endurance? (b) In what way are Abraham’s faith and endurance held up as a pattern for us?
12 Abraham was already 75 years old when God called him out of Ur of the Chaldees to go to the Promised Land. He was about 125 years old when he received the oath-bound confirmation of God’s promise—which happened immediately after Abraham demonstrated the strength of his faith by going to the point of offering up his beloved son, Isaac, stopping only when Jehovah’s angel restrained his hand and prevented the sacrifice. (Genesis 22:1-18) Fifty years was a long time for Abraham to wait as a sojourner in a strange land, but he held on yet another 50 years until he died at 175 years of age. In all that time, Abraham was a faithful witness and prophet of Jehovah God.—Psalm 105:9-15.
13 Abraham’s faith and endurance are held up as a pattern to all servants of God who want to receive the promised blessings through Jesus Christ, the Seed of Abraham. (Hebrews 11:8-10, 17-19) Regarding him, we read at Hebrews 6:11-15: “We desire each one of you to show the same industriousness so as to have the full assurance of the hope down to the end, in order that you may not become sluggish, but be imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. For when God made his promise to Abraham, since he could not swear by anyone greater, he swore by himself, saying: ‘Assuredly in blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply you.’ And thus after Abraham had shown patience, he obtained this promise.”
14. Why should we not think that the test of endurance is endless and the reward elusive?
14 Already the anointed remnant have seen 77 years pass since the end of the Gentile Times in 1914, when some of them expected the glorification of the true Christian congregation to heaven. How much longer the remnant must wait we do not know. Should we then waver and think that the wait is endless and the reward an elusive will-o’-the-wisp? No! That would never vindicate God’s sovereignty or honor his name. He would not be justified before the world when conferring on us the victory and the resultant prize of everlasting life. Regardless of the length of time, the remnant, along with their faithful sheeplike companions, are determined to wait for Jehovah to act in his own time. In showing such exemplary perseverance, they follow the course of Abraham.—Romans 8:23-25.
15. (a) What is our watchword, and through what experiences has God sustained us triumphantly? (b) What exhortation by Paul remains fitting for our day?
15 The watchword, then, is still unwavering endurance in doing God’s will. (Romans 2:6, 7) In the past he has borne us up through severe afflictions, including imprisonments and concentration camps, and he has brought us through triumphantly with glory to his name and purpose.* During the time that yet remains for the completion of our test, Jehovah will continue to do the same. Paul’s exhortation remains fitting for our day: “For you have need of steadfast patience and endurance, so that you may perform and fully accomplish the will of God, and thus receive and carry away and enjoy to the full what is promised.”—Hebrews 10:36, The Amplified Bible; Romans 8:37.
16. Why should we not view our dedication to Jehovah in just a limited way or with reservations?
16 As long as Jehovah has work for us to do amid this wicked world, then, following Jesus’ example, we want to be engaged in that work till it is finished. (John 17:4) Our dedication to Jehovah was not on the understanding that we would serve him for just a short time and then Armageddon would come. Our dedication was forever. God’s work for us will not end with Armageddon’s battle. However, it is only after we have accomplished the work that is to be done before Armageddon that we shall see the grand things to come beyond that great war. Then, in addition to the happy privilege of continuing to do his work, we will be rewarded with the long-hoped-for blessings that he promised.—Romans 8:32.
Love for God Helps Us Endure
17, 18. (a) In times of stress, what will help us endure with God’s approval? (b) What will help us to gain the victory, and what do we not say about the time remaining?
17 Perhaps, when times are stressful, we may ask: ‘How can we endure any longer?’ The answer? By loving God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. “Love is long-suffering and kind. Love is not jealous, it does not brag, does not get puffed up. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4, 7, 8) Unless we endure out of love for God, our endurance does not count. But if we bear up under burdens because of our devotion to Jehovah, then our endurance has the effect of deepening our love for him. Love for God, his Father, enabled Jesus to endure. (John 14:30, 31; Hebrews 12:2) If our true motive is love for God, our Father, what is there that we cannot endure?
18 It is our unwavering love for Jehovah God that has enabled us to remain victorious over the world during this most critical time of testing. And Jehovah, through Jesus Christ, will continue to give us the help we need no matter how much longer this old system of things is permitted to exist. (1 Peter 5:10) Of course, we make no prediction as to how much time is still left, and we are not fixing any specific date. We leave that to the Great Timekeeper, Jehovah God.—Psalm 31:15.
19, 20. (a) How should we view each passing day that we endure? (b) What foolishness do we want to avoid, and why?
19 However, the generation that was foretold to witness and experience “the conclusion of the system of things” is now well advanced in years. (Matthew 24:3, 32-35) So let us never forget that each passing day we endure is one day less for Satan and his demons to pollute the universe with their very existence and one day closer to the time when Jehovah will no longer endure the existence of “vessels of wrath made fit for destruction.” (Romans 9:22) Soon, when the long-suffering of Jehovah comes to an end, he will vent his wrath on ungodly men and women. Thus, he will reveal his divine disapproval of their course of action, even though he allowed them to continue for all this period of time.
20 It would be most foolish for us to discontinue our loving efforts to gain the glorious prize that is held out to us through Jesus Christ. Rather, we are determined to carry on faithfully as Witnesses for Jehovah in this most vital time when Jehovah is about to vindicate himself as Universal Sovereign.
For example, Christine Elizabeth King wrote: “Only against the Witnesses was the [Nazi] government unsuccessful, for although they had killed thousands, the work went on and in May 1945 the Jehovah’s Witness movement was still alive, whilst National Socialism was not. The Witnesses’ numbers had increased and no compromises had been made. The movement had gained martyrs and had successfully waged one more battle in Jehovah God’s war.”—The Nazi State and the New Religions: Five Case Studies in Non-Conformity, page 193.
How Would You Respond?
□ Why can we not avoid having our endurance tested?
□ What delusion do we want to avoid?
□ To avoid any weakening by us, what is needed?
□ What is our watchword?
□ In times of stress, what will help us endure?
[Picture on page 11]
God’s people, like these Witnesses in Port of Spain, Trinidad, have always been willing to wait on Jehovah