Take Courage as Deliverance Draws Near
“‘I am with you,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘to deliver you.’”—JEREMIAH 1:19.
1, 2. Why does the human family need deliverance?
DELIVERANCE! What a comforting word! To be delivered means to be rescued, set free from a bad, unhappy situation. This includes the thought of being brought into a much better, happier condition.
2 How desperately the human family needs such deliverance at this time! People everywhere are burdened down and discouraged by difficult problems—economic, social, physical, mental, and emotional. The vast majority are discontented and disappointed with the way the world is going and would like a change for the better.—Isaiah 60:2; Matthew 9:36.
“Critical Times Hard to Deal With”
3, 4. Why is there a greater need for deliverance now?
3 Since this 20th century has experienced greater suffering than any other, there is a greater need for deliverance now than ever before. Today, well over a billion people live in dire poverty, and that number increases by some 25 million annually. Each year about 13 million children die from malnutrition or other poverty-related causes—more than 35,000 a day! And millions of older people die prematurely from various diseases.—Luke 21:11; Revelation 6:8.
4 Wars and civil disorders have caused untold suffering. The book Death by Government says that wars, ethnic and religious strife, and mass murder by governments of their own citizens have “killed over 203 million people in this century.” It further says: “The dead could conceivably be nearly 360 million people. It is as though our species has been devastated by a modern Black Plague. And indeed it has, but a plague of Power, not germs.” Writer Richard Harwood observed: “The barbarian wars of centuries past were alley fights in comparison.”—Matthew 24:6, 7; Revelation 6:4.
5, 6. What makes our time so distressing?
5 Adding to the distressing conditions of recent years is the huge increase in violent crime, immorality, and family breakdown. Former United States Secretary of Education William Bennett noted that in 30 years the U.S. population grew 41 percent, but violent crime grew 560 percent, illegitimate births 400 percent, divorces 300 percent, and the teenage suicide rate 200 percent. Princeton University Professor John DiIulio, Jr., warned of the growing ranks of young “super-predators,” who “murder, assault, rape, rob, burglarize and create serious communal disorders. They do not fear the stigma of arrest, the pains of imprisonment, or the pangs of conscience.” In that land, homicide is now the second-leading cause of death among those 15 to 19 years of age. And more children under the age of four die from abuse than from disease.
6 Such crime and violence are not confined to one nation. Most lands report similar trends. Contributing to this is the surge of illegal drug use that corrupts millions. Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald said: “International drug trafficking has become the world’s second most lucrative business after the arms trade.” Another factor is the violence and immorality that now saturate television. In many countries, by the time a child reaches the age of 18, he has seen tens of thousands of violent acts on TV and countless immoral ones. That is a significant corrupting influence, since our personality is shaped by what we regularly feed our minds.—Romans 12:2; Ephesians 5:3, 4.
7. How did Bible prophecy foretell the present bad conditions?
7 Bible prophecy accurately foretold this awful trend of events in our century. It said that there would be global wars, disease epidemics, food shortages, and increasing lawlessness. (Matthew 24:7-12; Luke 21:10, 11) And when we consider the prophecy recorded at 2 Timothy 3:1-5, it is like listening to nightly news reports. It identifies our era as “the last days” and describes people as ‘lovers of themselves, lovers of money, disobedient to parents, disloyal, having no natural affection, without self-control, fierce, puffed up with pride, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God.’ That is exactly what the world is like today. As William Bennett acknowledged: “There are just too many signs of . . . civilization gone rotten.” It has even been said that civilization ended with the first world war.
8. Why did God bring the Flood in Noah’s day, and how does this relate to our day?
8 The situation now is even worse than before the Flood of Noah’s day, when “the earth became filled with violence.” Back then, people in general refused to repent of their bad ways. Thus, God said: “The earth is full of violence as a result of them; and here I am bringing them to ruin.” The Deluge ended that violent world.—Genesis 6:11, 13; 7:17-24.
No Deliverance by Humans
9, 10. Why should we not look to humans to provide deliverance?
9 Can human endeavors deliver us from these bad conditions? God’s Word answers: “Do not put your trust in nobles, nor in the son of earthling man, to whom no salvation belongs.” “It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step.” (Psalm 146:3; Jeremiah 10:23) Thousands of years of history have verified those truths. Humans have tried every political, economic, and social system imaginable, but conditions worsen. Had there been a human solution, it would have become evident by now. Instead, the reality is that “man has dominated man to his injury.”—Ecclesiastes 8:9; Proverbs 29:2; Jeremiah 17:5, 6.
10 A few years ago, former U.S. national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski said: “The unavoidable conclusion of any detached analysis of global trends is that social turmoil, political unrest, economic crisis, and international friction are likely to become more widespread.” He added: “The menace confronting humanity [is] global anarchy.” That assessment of world conditions is even more valid today. Commenting on this era of increased violence, an editorial in the New Haven, Connecticut, Register declared: “We seem to be too far gone to be able to halt it.” No, there will not be a halt to this world’s deterioration, for the prophecy about these “last days” also said: “Wicked men and impostors will advance from bad to worse, misleading and being misled.”—2 Timothy 3:13.
11. Why will worsening conditions not be reversed by human efforts?
11 Humans cannot reverse these trends because Satan is “the god of this system of things.” (2 Corinthians 4:4) Yes, “the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (1 John 5:19; see also John 14:30.) Rightly the Bible says of our day: “Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.” (Revelation 12:12) Satan knows that his rule and his world are about to end, so he is like “a roaring lion, seeking to devour someone.”—1 Peter 5:8.
Deliverance Near—For Whom?
12. For whom is deliverance nearing?
12 The increasingly difficult conditions on earth are striking evidence that a vast change—indeed, a grand deliverance—is near at hand! For whom? Deliverance is nearing for those who pay attention to the warning signals and who take appropriate action. First John 2:17 shows what must be done: “The world [Satan’s system of things] is passing away and so is its desire, but he that does the will of God remains forever.”—See also 2 Peter 3:10-13.
13, 14. How did Jesus emphasize the need to keep awake?
13 Jesus foretold that the corrupt society of today is soon to be swept away in a time of trouble “such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.” (Matthew 24:21) That is why he cautioned: “Pay attention to yourselves that your hearts never become weighed down with overeating and heavy drinking and anxieties of life, and suddenly that day be instantly upon you as a snare. For it will come in upon all those dwelling upon the face of all the earth. Keep awake, then, all the time making supplication that you may succeed in escaping all these things that are destined to occur.”—Luke 21:34-36.
14 Those who “pay attention” and “keep awake” will search out the will of God and do it. (Proverbs 2:1-5; Romans 12:2) These are the ones who will “succeed in escaping” the destruction soon to be brought on Satan’s system. And they can have complete confidence that they will be delivered.—Psalm 34:15; Proverbs 10:28-30.
The Principal Deliverer
15, 16. Who is the principal Deliverer, and why are we certain his judgments will be righteous?
15 For God’s servants to be delivered, Satan and his entire worldwide system of things need to be removed. This requires a source of deliverance far more powerful than humans. That source is Jehovah God, the Supreme Sovereign, the almighty Creator of the awesome universe. He is the principal Deliverer: “I—I am Jehovah, and besides me there is no savior.”—Isaiah 43:11; Proverbs 18:10.
16 In Jehovah there is the ultimate degree of power, wisdom, justice, and love. (Psalm 147:5; Proverbs 2:6; Isaiah 61:8; 1 John 4:8) So when he executes his judgments, we can be certain that his actions will be righteous. Abraham asked: “Is the Judge of all the earth not going to do what is right?” (Genesis 18:24-33) Paul exclaimed: “Is there injustice with God? Never may that become so!” (Romans 9:14) John wrote: “Yes, Jehovah God, the Almighty, true and righteous are your judicial decisions.”—Revelation 16:7.
17. How have Jehovah’s servants in the past expressed confidence in his promises?
17 When Jehovah promises deliverance, he will without fail accomplish it. Joshua said: “Not a promise failed out of all the good promise that Jehovah had made.” (Joshua 21:45) Solomon stated: “There has not failed one word of all his good promise that he has promised.” (1 Kings 8:56) The apostle Paul noted that Abraham “did not waver in a lack of faith, . . . being fully convinced that what [God] had promised he was also able to do.” Sarah likewise “esteemed [God] faithful who had promised.”—Romans 4:20, 21; Hebrews 11:11.
18. Why can Jehovah’s servants today be confident that they will be delivered?
18 Unlike humans, Jehovah is completely trustworthy, true to his word. “Jehovah of armies has sworn, saying: ‘Surely just as I have figured, so it must occur; and just as I have counseled, that is what will come true.’” (Isaiah 14:24) So when the Bible says that “Jehovah knows how to deliver people of godly devotion out of trial, but to reserve unrighteous people for the day of judgment to be cut off,” we can have full confidence that this will happen. (2 Peter 2:9) Even when threatened with destruction by powerful enemies, Jehovah’s servants take courage because of his attitude, reflected in his promise to one of his prophets: “They will be certain to fight against you, but they will not prevail against you, for ‘I am with you,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘to deliver you.’”—Jeremiah 1:19; Psalm 33:18, 19; Titus 1:2.
Deliverances in the Past
19. How did Jehovah deliver Lot, with what parallel for our time?
19 We can be greatly encouraged by recounting some of Jehovah’s previous saving acts. For instance, Lot was “greatly distressed” by the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah. But Jehovah took note of “the cry of complaint” against those cities. At the right time, he sent messengers to urge Lot and his family to get out of that area right away. The result? Jehovah “delivered righteous Lot,” “reducing the cities Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes.” (2 Peter 2:6-8; Genesis 18:20, 21) Today, too, Jehovah notices the cry of complaint regarding this world’s gross wickedness. When his modern-day messengers have completed their urgent witnessing work to the extent he wants, he will act against this world and deliver his servants as he did Lot.—Matthew 24:14.
20. Describe Jehovah’s deliverance of ancient Israel from Egypt.
20 In ancient Egypt millions of God’s people were enslaved. Jehovah said about them: “I have heard their outcry . . . I well know the pains they suffer. And I am proceeding to go down to deliver them.” (Exodus 3:7, 8) However, after letting God’s people go, Pharaoh changed his mind and pursued them with his mighty army. The Israelites seemed trapped at the Red Sea. Yet Moses said: “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and see the salvation of Jehovah, which he will perform for you today.” (Exodus 14:8-14) Jehovah parted the Red Sea, and the Israelites escaped. Pharaoh’s armies charged after them, but Jehovah projected his power so that “the sea covered them; they sank like lead in majestic waters.” Afterward, Moses exulted in song to Jehovah: “Who is like you, proving yourself mighty in holiness? The One to be feared with songs of praise, the One doing marvels.”—Exodus 15:4-12, 19.
21. How were Jehovah’s people saved from Ammon, Moab, and Seir?
21 On another occasion, the enemy nations of Ammon, Moab, and Seir (Edom) threatened Jehovah’s people with destruction. Jehovah said: “Do not you be afraid or be terrified because of this large [enemy] crowd; for the battle is not yours, but God’s. . . . You will not need to fight . . . Stand still and see the salvation of Jehovah in your behalf.” Jehovah delivered his people by proceeding to strike confusion into the ranks of the enemy so that they slaughtered one another.—2 Chronicles 20:15-23.
22. What miraculous deliverance from Assyria did Jehovah provide for Israel?
22 When the Assyrian World Power came against Jerusalem, King Sennacherib taunted Jehovah by saying to the people on the wall: “Who are there among all the gods of these lands [that I have conquered] that have delivered their land out of my hand so that Jehovah should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?” To God’s servants he said: “Do not let Hezekiah cause you to trust in Jehovah, saying: ‘Without fail Jehovah will deliver us.’” Then Hezekiah prayed fervently for deliverance, “that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O Jehovah, are God alone.” Jehovah struck down 185,000 Assyrian soldiers, and God’s servants were delivered. Later, as Sennacherib worshiped his false god, his sons assassinated him.—Isaiah, chapters 36 and 37.
23. What questions need answering about deliverance today?
23 We can surely take courage when we see how Jehovah in the past has wonderfully delivered his people. What about today? Into what dangerous situation will his faithful servants soon come that will require his miraculous deliverance? Why has he waited until now to bring their deliverance? What fulfillment will there be of Jesus’ words: “As these things start to occur, raise yourselves erect and lift your heads up, because your deliverance is getting near”? (Luke 21:28) And how will deliverance come for God’s servants who have already died? The following article will examine these questions.
□ Why is there a great need for deliverance?
□ Why should we not look to humans for deliverance?
□ For whom is deliverance near?
□ Why can we be confident in Jehovah’s deliverance?
□ What examples of past deliverances are encouraging?
[Picture on page 10]
Abraham was among those who had full confidence in Jehovah