Are You Ready for Jehovah’s Day?
“The great day of Jehovah is near. It is near, and there is a hurrying of it very much.”—ZEPHANIAH 1:14.
1. How do the Scriptures describe the day of Jehovah?
JEHOVAH’S “great and fear-inspiring day” will soon come upon this wicked system of things. The Scriptures describe the day of Jehovah as one of battle, darkness, fury, distress, anguish, alarm, and desolation. Yet, there will be survivors, for “everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will get away safe.” (Joel 2:30-32; Amos 5:18-20) Yes, God will then destroy his enemies and save his people.
2. Why should we have a sense of urgency about Jehovah’s day?
2 God’s prophets attached a sense of urgency to Jehovah’s day. For instance, Zephaniah wrote: “The great day of Jehovah is near. It is near, and there is a hurrying of it very much.” (Zephaniah 1:14) The situation is all the more urgent today because God’s Chief Executioner, the King Jesus Christ, is about to ‘gird his sword upon his thigh and ride in the cause of truth, humility, and righteousness.’ (Psalm 45:3, 4) Are you ready for that day?
They Had Great Expectations
3. What expectations did some Thessalonian Christians have, and for what two reasons were they mistaken?
3 Many have had unfulfilled expectations regarding the day of Jehovah. Some early Christians in Thessalonica said, ‘Jehovah’s day is here!’ (2 Thessalonians 2:2) But there were two basic reasons why it was not at hand. Citing one of these, the apostle Paul had said: “Whenever it is that they are saying: ‘Peace and security!’ then sudden destruction is to be instantly upon them.” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-6) In this “time of the end,” we ourselves await the fulfillment of those words. (Daniel 12:4) The Thessalonians also lacked another line of evidence that Jehovah’s great day had arrived, for Paul told them: “It will not come unless the apostasy comes first.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3) When Paul wrote those words (about 51 C.E.), “the apostasy” from true Christianity had not developed completely. Today, we see it in full bloom in Christendom. Despite their unfulfilled expectations, though, those faithful anointed ones in Thessalonica, who kept on serving God faithfully until death, eventually received a heavenly reward. (Revelation 2:10) We too will be rewarded if we stay faithful as we await Jehovah’s day.
4. (a) With what is Jehovah’s day linked at 2 Thessalonians 2:1, 2? (b) What views did so-called Church Fathers have regarding Christ’s return and related matters?
4 The Bible links “the great day of Jehovah” with “the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 2:1, 2) The so-called Church Fathers had various ideas about Christ’s return, his presence, and his Thousand Year Reign. (Revelation 20:4) In the second century C.E., Papias of Hierapolis entertained expectations of fabulous fertility of the earth during the Millennial Reign of Christ. Justin Martyr spoke of Jesus’ presence repeatedly and expected restored Jerusalem to be the seat of His Kingdom. Irenæus of Lyons taught that after the Roman Empire was destroyed, Jesus would appear visibly, bind Satan, and reign in earthly Jerusalem.
5. What have certain scholars said about Christ’s “Second Advent” and his Millennial Reign?
5 Historian Philip Schaff noted that “the most striking point” in the period prior to the Council of Nicaea in 325 C.E. was “the belief of a visible reign of Christ in glory on earth with the risen saints for a thousand years, before the general resurrection and judgment.” A Dictionary of the Bible, edited by James Hastings, states: “Tertullian, Irenæus, and Hippolytus still look for a speedy Advent [of Jesus Christ]; but with the Alexandrine Fathers we enter a new circle of thought. . . . With Augustine’s identification of the Millennium with the period of the Church militant, the Second Advent is postponed to a distant future.”
Jehovah’s Day and Jesus’ Presence
6. Why should we not conclude that Jehovah’s day is a long way off?
6 Misconceptions have led to disappointments, but let us not think that Jehovah’s day is a long way off. Jesus’ invisible presence, with which it is Scripturally associated, has already begun. The Watchtower and related publications of Jehovah’s Witnesses have often provided Scriptural evidence that Christ’s presence began in the year 1914.* So, then, what did Jesus say about his presence?
7. (a) What are some features of the sign of Jesus’ presence and the conclusion of the system of things? (b) How may we be saved?
7 Jesus’ presence became a topic for discussion shortly before his death. After hearing him predict the destruction of Jerusalem’s temple, his apostles Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked: “When will these things be, and what will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?” (Matthew 24:1-3; Mark 13:3, 4) In reply, Jesus foretold wars, famines, earthquakes, and other features of “the sign” of his presence and the conclusion of the system of things. He also said: “He that has endured to the end is the one that will be saved.” (Matthew 24:13) We will be saved if we faithfully endure to the end of our present life or to the end of this wicked system.
8. Before the end of the Jewish system, what was to be accomplished, and what is being done about this today?
8 Before the end, an especially significant feature of Jesus’ presence would be fulfilled. Regarding it, he said: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) Before the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Jewish system of things ended in 70 C.E., Paul could say that the good news “was preached in all creation that is under heaven.” (Colossians 1:23) Today, however, a far more extensive preaching work is being done by Jehovah’s Witnesses “in all the inhabited earth.” During the last few years, God has opened the way for a great witness to be given in Eastern Europe. With printeries and other facilities worldwide, Jehovah’s organization is poised for increased activity, even in “untouched territory.” (Romans 15:22, 23) Does your heart impel you to do your utmost in giving a witness before the end comes? If so, God can strengthen you to have a rewarding share in the work ahead.—Philippians 4:13; 2 Timothy 4:17.
9. What point did Jesus make, as recorded at Matthew 24:36?
9 The foretold Kingdom-preaching work and other features of the sign of Jesus’ presence are being fulfilled right now. Hence, the end is near for this wicked system of things. True, Jesus said: “Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matthew 24:4-14, 36) But Jesus’ prophecy can help us to be ready for “that day and hour.”
They Were Ready
10. How do we know that it is possible to stay awake spiritually?
10 To survive the great day of Jehovah, we must stay awake spiritually and stand firm for true worship. (1 Corinthians 16:13) We know that such endurance is possible, for a godly family did so and survived the Flood that destroyed wicked humans in 2370 B.C.E. Comparing that era with his presence, 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.
11. What course did Noah pursue despite the violence that existed in his day?
11 Like us, Noah and his family lived in a violent world. Disobedient angelic “sons of the true God” had materialized and had taken wives by whom they fathered the infamous Nephilim—bullies who undoubtedly made conditions more violent. (Genesis 6:1, 2, 4; 1 Peter 3:19, 20) However, “Noah walked with the true God” in faith. He “proved himself faultless among his contemporaries”—the wicked generation of his day. (Genesis 6:9-11) With prayerful reliance on God, we can do the same thing in this violent and wicked world as we await the day of Jehovah.
12. (a) Besides building an ark, what work did Noah do? (b) How did people react to Noah’s preaching, and what were the consequences for them?
12 Noah is well-known as the builder of an ark for the preservation of life through the Deluge. He was also “a preacher of righteousness,” but his contemporaries “took no note” of his God-given message. They ate and drank, got married, raised families, and carried on the normal affairs of life until the Flood swept them all away. (2 Peter 2:5; Genesis 6:14) They did not want to hear about upright speech and conduct, even as today’s wicked generation closes its ears to what Jehovah’s Witnesses say about “repentance toward God,” faith in Christ, righteousness, and “the judgment to come.” (Acts 20:20, 21; 24:24, 25) There is no available record of how many people lived on earth when Noah was declaring God’s message. But one thing is certain, earth’s population was drastically reduced in 2370 B.C.E.! The Deluge wiped out the wicked, sparing only those ready for that act of God—Noah and the seven others in his family.—Genesis 7:19-23; 2 Peter 3:5, 6.
13. In what judicial decree did Noah put total confidence, and how did he act in harmony with this?
13 God did not give Noah years of advance notice about the exact day and hour for the Flood. However, when Noah was 480 years old, Jehovah decreed: “My spirit shall not act toward man indefinitely in that he is also flesh. Accordingly his days shall amount to a hundred and twenty years.” (Genesis 6:3) Noah put total confidence in this divine judicial decree. After reaching the age of 500, he “became father to Shem, Ham and Japheth,” and custom of those days suggests that 50 to 60 years passed before his sons got married. When Noah was told to build the ark for preservation through the Flood, those sons and their wives evidently assisted him in that endeavor. The building of the ark likely coincided with Noah’s service as “a preacher of righteousness,” keeping him busy for the last 40 to 50 years before the Flood. (Genesis 5:32; 6:13-22) For all those years, he and his family acted in faith. Let us also display faith as we preach the good news and await Jehovah’s day.—Hebrews 11:7.
14. What did Jehovah eventually tell Noah, and why?
14 As the ark neared completion, Noah may have thought that the Flood was imminent, although he did not know exactly when it would occur. Jehovah eventually did tell him: “In just seven days more I am making it rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights.” (Genesis 7:4) That gave Noah and his family just enough time to get all the animal kinds into the ark and enter it themselves before the Flood began. We do not need to know the day and hour for the start of this system’s destruction; survival of animals is not entrusted to us, and prospective human survivors are already entering the symbolic ark, the spiritual paradise of God’s people.
“Keep on the Watch”
15. (a) In your own words, how would you explain Jesus’ words found at Matthew 24:40-44? (b) Not knowing the exact time of Jesus’ coming to execute God’s vengeance has what effect?
15 Regarding his presence, Jesus explained: “Then two men will be [working] in the field: one will be taken along and the other be abandoned; two women will be grinding [grain into flour] at the hand mill: one will be taken along and the other be abandoned. Keep on the watch, therefore, because you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know one thing, that if the householder had known in what watch the thief was coming, he would have kept awake and not allowed his house to be broken into. On this account you too prove yourselves ready, because at an hour that you do not think to be it, the Son of man is coming.” (Matthew 24:40-44; Luke 17:34, 35) Not knowing the exact time of Jesus’ coming to execute God’s vengeance tends to keep us vigilant and gives us daily opportunity to prove that we serve Jehovah with unselfish motives.
16. What will happen to individuals “abandoned” and to those “taken along”?
16 Individuals “abandoned” to destruction with the wicked will include those once enlightened but who get swallowed up in a selfish way of life. May we be among the ones “taken along,” those fully devoted to Jehovah and truly grateful for his spiritual provisions through “the faithful and discreet slave.” (Matthew 24:45-47) Right down to the end, let us serve God with “love out of a clean heart and out of a good conscience and out of faith without hypocrisy.”—1 Timothy 1:5.
Holy Acts Essential
17 The apostle Peter wrote: “Jehovah’s day will come as a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a hissing noise, but the elements being intensely hot will be dissolved, and earth and the works in it will be discovered.” (2 Peter 3:10) The symbolic heavens and earth will not survive the heat of God’s burning anger. So Peter adds: “Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion!” (2 Peter 3:11) Among these acts and deeds are regular presence at Christian meetings, doing good to others, and having a meaningful share in preaching the good news.—Matthew 24:14; Hebrews 10:24, 25; 13:16.
18. If we are developing an attachment to the world, what should we do?
18 “Holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion” require that we ‘keep ourselves without spot from the world.’ (James 1:27) But what if we are developing an attachment to this world? Perhaps we are being lured into a dangerous position before God by seeking unclean entertainment or by listening to music and songs that promote the ungodly spirit of this world. (2 Corinthians 6:14-18) If that is the case, let us seek God’s help in prayer so that we will not pass away with the world but will stand approved before the Son of man. (Luke 21:34-36; 1 John 2:15-17) If we have made a dedication to God, surely we will want to do our best to build and maintain a warm relationship with him and thus be ready for the great and fear-inspiring day of Jehovah.
19. Why can throngs of Kingdom proclaimers expect to live through the conclusion of this wicked system of things?
19 Godly Noah and his family lived through the Flood that destroyed the ancient world. Upright individuals survived the end of the Jewish system of things in 70 C.E. For instance, the apostle John was still active in God’s service in about 96-98 C.E., when he penned the book of Revelation, his Gospel account, and three inspired letters. Of the thousands who embraced the true faith at Pentecost of 33 C.E., likely many lived through the end of the Jewish system. (Acts 1:15; 2:41, 47; 4:4) Today throngs of Kingdom proclaimers can hope to live through the conclusion of the present wicked system of things.
20. Why should we be zealous ‘preachers of righteousness’?
20 With preservation into the new world before us, let us be zealous ‘preachers of righteousness.’ What a privilege it is to serve God in these last days! And what a joy it is to direct people to the present-day “ark,” the spiritual paradise enjoyed by God’s people! May the millions now in it remain faithful, spiritually awake, and ready for the great day of Jehovah. But what will help all of us to stay awake?
See chapters 10 and 11 of the book Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
How Would You Answer?
□ What expectations have some had regarding Jehovah’s day and Christ’s presence?
□ Why can we say that Noah and his family were ready for the Flood?
□ What will happen to those who “keep on the watch” and to those who do not?
□ Why are holy acts essential, especially as we get closer to Jehovah’s great day?