Surviving ‘Jehovah’s Day’
“The day of Jehovah is great and very fear-inspiring, and who can hold up under it?”—JOEL 2:11.
1. Why should ‘the fear-inspiring day of Jehovah’ be an occasion for joy?
“FEAR-INSPIRING”! That is how God’s prophet Joel describes the great “day of Jehovah.” However, we who love Jehovah and have come to him in dedication on the basis of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice need not cringe with fear as Jehovah’s day approaches. It will be an awesome day indeed, but a day of grand salvation, the day of release from a wicked system of things that has plagued mankind over millenniums of time. In prospect of that day, Joel calls on God’s people to “be joyful and rejoice; for Jehovah will actually do a great thing,” and he adds the assurance: “It must occur that everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will get away safe.” Then in God’s Kingdom arrangement, “there will prove to be the escaped ones, just as Jehovah has said, and in among the survivors, whom Jehovah is calling.”—Joel 2:11, 21, 22, 32.
2. In the outworking of God’s purposes, what takes place (a) in “the Lord’s day” (b) at “the day of Jehovah”?
2 Jehovah’s fear-inspiring day is not to be confused with “the Lord’s day” of Revelation 1:10. This latter day includes the fulfillment of the 16 visions described in Revelation chapters 1 to 22. It includes the time of the fulfillment of all the events that Jesus foretold in answer to his disciples’ question: “When will these things be, and what will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?” Jesus’ heavenly presence has been marked on earth by frightful ‘wars, famines, hatreds, pestilences, and lawlessness.’ As these sorrows have multiplied, Jesus has provided comfort for God-fearing humans by sending forth his modern-day disciples to preach “this good news of the kingdom . . . in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations.” Then, as a high point of the Lord’s day, “the end” of the present system of things, Jehovah’s fear-inspiring day, will break forth. (Matthew 24:3-14; Luke 21:11) That will be Jehovah’s day for executing swift judgment on Satan’s corrupt world. “Heaven and earth certainly will rock; but Jehovah will be a refuge for his people.”—Joel 3:16.
Jehovah Acts in the Days of Noah
3. How do conditions today parallel those of Noah’s day?
3 World conditions today parallel those in “the days of Noah” over 4,000 years ago. (Luke 17:26, 27) At Genesis 6:5, we read: “Jehovah saw that the badness of man was abundant in the earth and every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only bad all the time.” How like the world today! Wickedness, greed, and lovelessness abound on every hand. Sometimes we may think that mankind’s depravity has reached rock bottom. But the apostle Paul’s prophecy concerning “the last days” just keeps being fulfilled: “Wicked men and impostors will advance from bad to worse, misleading and being misled.”—2 Timothy 3:1, 13.
4. What effect did false worship have in early times?
4 Could religion have brought relief for mankind in Noah’s time? On the contrary, apostate religion such as existed then would have contributed greatly to the ruinous conditions. Our first parents had succumbed to the false teaching of “the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan.” In the second generation from Adam, “a start was made of calling on the name of Jehovah,” apparently blasphemously. (Revelation 12:9; Genesis 3:3-6; 4:26) Later, rebellious angels, who forsook exclusive devotion to God, materialized human bodies in order to have illicit sex relations with the good-looking daughters of men. These women mothered hybrid giants, called Nephilim, who oppressed and bullied mankind. Under this demonic influence, ‘all flesh ruined its way on the earth.’—Genesis 6:1-12.
5. With reference to events in Noah’s day, what warning exhortation does Jesus give us?
5 One family, though, maintained integrity to Jehovah. Hence, God “kept Noah, a preacher of righteousness, safe with seven others when he brought a deluge upon a world of ungodly people.” (2 Peter 2:5) That Deluge foreshadowed the fear-inspiring day of Jehovah, which marks the end of this system of things and of which Jesus prophesied: “Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father. For 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 24:36-39) We are in a similar situation today, so Jesus exhorts us to ‘pay attention to ourselves, and to keep awake, all the time making supplication that we may succeed in escaping all these things that are destined to occur.’—Luke 21:34-36.
Jehovah’s Judicial Punishment of Sodom and Gomorrah
6, 7. (a) What is foreshadowed by events in Lot’s time? (b) What clear warning does this provide for us?
6 Some hundreds of years after the Flood, when Noah’s descendants had multiplied in the earth, faithful Abraham and his nephew Lot were eyewitnesses to another fear-inspiring day of Jehovah. Lot and his family lived in the city of Sodom. Along with neighboring Gomorrah, this city had become engulfed in disgusting sexual immorality. Materialism too was a prime focus, finally affecting even Lot’s wife. Jehovah had told Abraham: “The cry of complaint about Sodom and Gomorrah, yes, it is loud, and their sin, yes, it is very heavy.” (Genesis 18:20) Abraham pleaded with Jehovah to spare those cities for the sake of righteous ones in them, but Jehovah declared that he could not find even ten righteous men there. Angels from God helped Lot and his two daughters to escape to the nearby city of Zoar.
7 What followed? Comparing our “last days” to those of Lot, Luke 17:28-30 reports: “Likewise, just as it occurred in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building. But on the day that Lot came out of Sodom it rained fire and sulphur from heaven and destroyed them all. The same way it will be on that day when the Son of man is to be revealed.” The fate of Sodom and Gomorrah on that awesome day of Jehovah conveys a clear warning to us in this time of Jesus’ presence. The modern generation of mankind has also “committed fornication excessively and gone out after flesh for unnatural use.” (Jude 7) Moreover, the immoral sex mores of our times have been responsible for many of the “pestilences” foretold by Jesus for this day.—Luke 21:11.
Israel Reaps the “Storm Wind”
8. To what extent did Israel keep covenant with Jehovah?
8 In due course, Jehovah chose Israel to be his “special property out of all other peoples, . . . a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” But this was contingent on their ‘strictly obeying his voice and keeping his covenant.’ (Exodus 19:5, 6) Did they honor this grand privilege? Far from it! True, faithful individuals of that nation served him loyally—Moses, Samuel, David, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, Josiah, as well as devoted prophets and prophetesses. Yet the nation as a whole was unfaithful. In time, the kingdom split in two—Israel and Judah. By and large, both nations got enmeshed in the pagan worship and other God-dishonoring customs of neighbor countries.—Ezekiel 23:49.
9. How did Jehovah judge the rebellious ten-tribe kingdom?
9 How did Jehovah judge matters? As always, he sounded a warning, in line with the principle stated by Amos: “The Sovereign Lord Jehovah will not do a thing unless he has revealed his confidential matter to his servants the prophets.” Amos himself proclaimed woe for the northern kingdom of Israel: “What, then, will the day of Jehovah mean to you people? It will be darkness, and no light.” (Amos 3:7; 5:18) Further, Amos’ fellow prophet Hosea declared: “It is wind that they keep sowing, and a storm wind is what they will reap.” (Hosea 8:7) In 740 B.C.E., Jehovah used the Assyrian army to devastate the northern kingdom of Israel once and for all time.
Jehovah’s Accounting With Apostate Judah
10, 11. (a) Why did Jehovah not consent to forgive Judah? (b) What detestable things had corrupted the nation?
10 Jehovah also sent his prophets to the southern kingdom of Judah. Still, such kings of Judah as Manasseh and his successor, Amon, continued to do what was bad in His eyes, shedding ‘innocent blood in very great quantity and serving dungy idols and bowing down to them.’ Even though Amon’s son Josiah did what was right in Jehovah’s eyes, the kings that followed, as well as the people, became steeped again in wickedness, so that “Jehovah did not consent to grant forgiveness.”—2 Kings 21:16-21; 24:3, 4.
11 Jehovah declared through his prophet Jeremiah: “An astonishing situation, even a horrible thing, has been brought to be in the land: The prophets themselves actually prophesy in falsehood; and as for the priests, they go subduing according to their powers. And my own people have loved it that way; and what will you men do in the finale of it?” The nation of Judah had become bloodguilty to the extreme, and its people were corrupted through stealing, murdering, committing adultery, swearing falsely, walking after other gods, and other detestable things. God’s temple had become a “cave of robbers.”—Jeremiah 2:34; 5:30, 31; 7:8-12.
12. How did Jehovah proceed to punish renegade Jerusalem?
12 Jehovah declared: “There is a calamity that I am bringing in from the north [Chaldea], even a great crash.” (Jeremiah 4:6) Thus, he brought in the Babylonian World Power, at that time “the forge hammer of all the earth,” to batter renegade Jerusalem and its temple. (Jeremiah 50:23) In 607 B.C.E., following a bitter siege, the city fell before the mighty army of Nebuchadnezzar. “And the king of Babylon proceeded to slaughter the sons of [King] Zedekiah in Riblah before his eyes, and all the nobles of Judah the king of Babylon slaughtered. And the eyes of Zedekiah he blinded, after which he bound him with copper fetters, in order to bring him to Babylon. And the house of the king and the houses of the people the Chaldeans burned with fire, and the walls of Jerusalem they pulled down. And the rest of the people who were left remaining in the city, and the deserters that had fallen away to him, and the rest of the people who were left remaining Nebuzaradan the chief of the bodyguard took into exile to Babylon.”—Jeremiah 39:6-9.
13. Who were saved in the day of Jehovah of 607 B.C.E., and why?
13 A fear-inspiring day indeed! Yet, a few souls who obeyed Jehovah were among those delivered from that fiery judgment. These included the non-Israelite Rechabites, who in contrast with the Judeans displayed a humble and obedient spirit. Also saved were the faithful eunuch Ebed-melech, who had rescued Jeremiah from death in a muddy cistern, and Jeremiah’s loyal scribe, Baruch. (Jeremiah 35:18, 19; 38:7-13; 39:15-18; 45:1-5) It was to suchlike ones that Jehovah declared: “I myself well know the thoughts that I am thinking toward you, . . . thoughts of peace, and not of calamity, to give you a future and a hope.” That promise had a miniature fulfillment in 539 B.C.E. when God-fearing Jews were released by Babylon’s conqueror, King Cyrus, and returned to rebuild Jerusalem’s city and temple. Those today who come out of Babylonish religion and are restored to Jehovah’s pure worship can likewise look forward to a glorious future of eternal peace in Jehovah’s restored Paradise.—Jeremiah 29:11; Psalm 37:34; Revelation 18:2, 4.
First-Century “Great Tribulation”
14. Why did Jehovah permanently reject Israel?
14 Let us move on to the first century C.E. By that time the restored Jews had again fallen into apostasy. Jehovah sent his only-begotten Son to earth to be his Anointed One, or Messiah. During the years 29 to 33 C.E., Jesus preached throughout the land of Israel, saying: “Repent, you people, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.” (Matthew 4:17) Further, he gathered and trained disciples to share with him in proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom. How did the rulers of the Jews respond? They vilified Jesus and finally committed the heinous crime of having him put to an agonizing death on a torture stake. Jehovah cast off the Jews as his people. Now the rejection of that nation was permanent.
15. What were repentant Jews privileged to accomplish?
15 On the day of Pentecost 33 C.E., the resurrected Jesus poured out holy spirit, and this empowered his disciples to speak in tongues to the Jews and proselytes who had quickly assembled. Addressing the crowd, the apostle Peter declared: “This Jesus God resurrected, of which fact we are all witnesses. . . . Therefore let all the house of Israel know for a certainty that God made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you impaled.” How did honest Jews react? “They were stabbed to the heart,” repented of their sins, and were baptized. (Acts 2:32-41) The Kingdom preaching accelerated, and within 30 years it had been extended to “all creation that is under heaven.”—Colossians 1:23.
16. How did Jehovah maneuver events leading up to his executing of judgment on natural Israel?
16 The time was now due for Jehovah to execute judgment on his rejected people, natural Israel. Many thousands, out of nations throughout the then known world, had flocked to the Christian congregation and had been anointed as the spiritual “Israel of God.” (Galatians 6:16) Jewry of that time, though, had sunk into a course of hatred and sectarian violence. Contrary to what Paul had written about ‘being in subjection to the superior authorities,’ they openly rebelled against the Roman power that ruled over them. (Romans 13:1) Jehovah apparently maneuvered the events that followed. In the year 66 C.E., Roman legions under General Gallus advanced to besiege Jerusalem. The attacking Romans penetrated the city as far as undermining the temple wall. As Josephus’ history records, there truly was tribulation on the city and on the people.* But suddenly the attacking soldiers took to flight. This allowed Jesus’ disciples to ‘flee to the mountains,’ as admonished in his prophecy recorded at Matthew 24:15, 16.
17, 18. (a) By means of what tribulation did Jehovah mete out justice on Jewry? (b) What flesh ‘got away safe,’ and of what was this a shadow?
17 However, the full execution of Jehovah’s judgment in the climax of the tribulation was yet to come. In 70 C.E., the Roman legions, now under General Titus, returned to the attack. This time the battle was decisive! The Jews, who had been warring even among themselves, were no match for the Romans. The city and its temple were razed to the ground. More than a million emaciated Jews suffered and died, some 600,000 corpses being thrown out of the city gates. After the city fell, 97,000 Jews were carried off captive, many to die later in gladiatorial spectacles. Truly, the only flesh saved during the years of that tribulation was that of the obedient Christians who had fled to the mountains beyond the Jordan.—Matthew 24:21, 22; Luke 21:20-22.
18 Thus, Jesus’ great prophecy concerning “the conclusion of the system of things” had its first fulfillment, culminating in Jehovah’s day for meting out justice on the rebellious Jewish nation in 66-70 C.E. (Matthew 24:3-22) Yet, that was only a shadow of “the coming of the great and fear-inspiring day of Jehovah,” the final tribulation that is about to engulf the entire world. (Joel 2:31) How may you “get away safe”? The following article will tell.
Josephus relates that the attacking Romans surrounded the city, undermined part of the wall, and were about to set fire to the gate of Jehovah’s temple. This caused horrible fear among many Jews trapped inside, for they could see death impending.—Wars of the Jews, Book II, chapter 19.
Questions for Review
□ How is “the Lord’s day” related to “the day of Jehovah”?
□ Reviewing Noah’s day, what warning should we heed?
□ How do Sodom and Gomorrah provide a powerful lesson?
□ Who were saved in the first-century “great tribulation”?
[Pictures on page 15]
Jehovah provided escape for the families of Noah and Lot, as well as in 607 B.C.E. and 70 C.E.