Who Will “Get Away Safe”?
“Everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.”—ACTS 2:21.
1. Why was Pentecost of 33 C.E. a pivotal day in world history?
PENTECOST 33 C.E. was a pivotal day in world history. Why? Because on that day a new nation was born. At first, it was not a very big nation—a mere 120 disciples of Jesus who had gathered in an upper room in Jerusalem. But today, when most nations that existed back then have been forgotten, the nation born in that upper room is still with us. This fact is of utmost importance to us all, since this is the nation appointed by God to be his witness before mankind.
2. What miraculous events marked the birth of the new nation?
2 When that new nation began to exist, important events took place that fulfilled Joel’s prophetic words. We read of these events at Acts 2:2-4: “Suddenly there occurred from heaven a noise just like that of a rushing stiff breeze, and it filled the whole house in which they were sitting. And tongues as if of fire became visible to them and were distributed about, and one sat upon each one of them, and they all became filled with holy spirit and started to speak with different tongues, just as the spirit was granting them to make utterance.” In this way those 120 faithful men and women became a spiritual nation, the first members of what the apostle Paul later called “the Israel of God.”—Galatians 6:16.
3. What prophecy of Joel was fulfilled at Pentecost 33 C.E.?
3 Crowds gathered to investigate the “rushing stiff breeze,” and the apostle Peter explained to them that one of Joel’s prophecies was being fulfilled. Which prophecy? Well, listen to what he said: “‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I shall pour out some of my spirit upon every sort of flesh, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy and your young men will see visions and your old men will dream dreams; and even upon my men slaves and upon my women slaves I will pour out some of my spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. And I will give portents in heaven above and signs on earth below, blood and fire and smoke mist; the sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the great and illustrious day of Jehovah arrives. And everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.’” (Acts 2:17-21) The words Peter quoted are found at Joel 2:28-32, and their fulfillment meant that time was running out for the Jewish nation. “The great and illustrious day of Jehovah,” a time of reckoning for unfaithful Israel, was near. But who would be saved, or get away safe? And what did this foreshadow?
Two Fulfillments of Prophecy
4, 5. In view of coming events, what counsel did Peter give, and why was that counsel applicable beyond his day?
4 In the years following 33 C.E., the spiritual Israel of God flourished, but the fleshly nation of Israel did not. In 66 C.E., fleshly Israel was at war with Rome. In 70 C.E., Israel almost ceased to exist, and Jerusalem along with its temple was burned to the ground. At Pentecost 33 C.E., Peter gave fine counsel in view of that approaching tragedy. Again quoting Joel, he said: “Everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.” Each individual Jew had to make a personal decision to call upon Jehovah’s name. This included heeding Peter’s further instructions: “Repent, and let each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for forgiveness of your sins.” (Acts 2:38) Peter’s listeners had to accept Jesus as the Messiah, whom Israel as a nation had rejected.
5 Those prophetic words of Joel had a great impact on meek ones in the first century. However, they have an even greater impact today because, as events in the 20th century show, there has been a second fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy. Let us see how.
6. How did the identity of the Israel of God begin to be made clear as 1914 approached?
6 After the death of the apostles, the Israel of God came to be hidden by the weeds of false Christianity. However, during the time of the end, which started in 1914, the identity of this spiritual nation once again became clear. All of this was in fulfillment of Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the weeds. (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43) As 1914 drew near, anointed Christians began to separate themselves from unfaithful Christendom, boldly rejecting her false doctrines and preaching the coming end of “the appointed times of the nations.” (Luke 21:24) But the first world war, which broke out in 1914, raised issues for which they were unprepared. Under intense pressure, many slowed down, and some compromised. By 1918 their preaching activity had virtually ceased.
7. (a) What event similar to Pentecost 33 C.E. occurred in 1919? (b) Starting in 1919, what effect did the outpouring of God’s spirit have upon Jehovah’s servants?
7 Still, that did not last long. Starting in 1919, Jehovah began to pour out his spirit on his people in a way that called to mind Pentecost 33 C.E. Of course, in 1919 there was no speaking in tongues and no rushing stiff breeze. We understand from Paul’s words recorded at 1 Corinthians 13:8 that the time for miracles was long since past. Nevertheless, God’s spirit was clearly evident in 1919 when, at a convention in Cedar Point, Ohio, U.S.A., faithful Christians were reinvigorated and again began the work of preaching the good news of the Kingdom. In 1922 they returned to Cedar Point and were galvanized by the appeal “Advertise, advertise, advertise, the King and his kingdom.” As had happened in the first century, the world was forced to take note of the effects of the outpouring of God’s spirit. Every dedicated Christian—male and female, old and young—began to “prophesy,” that is, to declare “the magnificent things of God.” (Acts 2:11) Like Peter, they exhorted meek ones: “Get saved from this crooked generation.” (Acts 2:40) How could responsive ones do that? By heeding Joel’s words found at Joel 2:32: “Everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will get away safe.”
8. How have things progressed for the Israel of God since 1919?
8 Since those early years, the affairs of the Israel of God have moved ahead. The sealing of the anointed appears to be well advanced, and since the 1930’s a great crowd of meek ones with an earthly hope have appeared on the scene. (Revelation 7:3, 9) All feel a sense of urgency, for the second fulfillment of Joel 2:28, 29 shows that we are close to an even greater fear-inspiring day of Jehovah, when a worldwide religious, political, and commercial system of things will be destroyed. We have every reason to ‘call on the name of Jehovah’ in full faith that he will deliver us!
How Do We Call on Jehovah’s Name?
9. What are some of the things involved in calling on Jehovah’s name?
9 What is involved in calling on Jehovah’s name? The context of Joel 2:28, 29 helps us to answer that question. For example, Jehovah does not listen to everyone who calls on him. Through another prophet, Isaiah, Jehovah said to Israel: “When you spread out your palms, I hide my eyes from you. Even though you make many prayers, I am not listening.” Why did Jehovah refuse to listen to his own nation? He himself explains: “With bloodshed your very hands have become filled.” (Isaiah 1:15) Jehovah will not listen to any who are bloodguilty or are practicing sin. That is why Peter told the Jews at Pentecost to repent. In the context of Joel 2:28, 29, we find that Joel too stresses repentance. For example, at Joel 2:12, 13, we read: “‘And now also,’ the utterance of Jehovah is, ‘come back to me with all your hearts, and with fasting and with weeping and with wailing. And rip apart your hearts, and not your garments; and come back to Jehovah your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness.’” Starting in 1919, anointed Christians acted in harmony with these words. They repented over their failures and determined never again to compromise or slow down. This opened the way for God’s spirit to be poured out. Every individual who wants to call on Jehovah’s name and be heard must follow the same course.
10. (a) What is true repentance? (b) How does Jehovah respond to true repentance?
10 Remember, true repentance is more than merely saying, “I am sorry.” Israelites used to rip their outer garments to show the intensity of their feelings. But Jehovah says: “Rip apart your hearts, and not your garments.” True repentance comes from the heart, from the depths of our being. It includes turning our backs on wrongdoing, even as we read at Isaiah 55:7: “Let the wicked man leave his way, and the harmful man his thoughts; and let him return to Jehovah.” It involves hating sin, just as Jesus did. (Hebrews 1:9) Then, we trust Jehovah to forgive us on the basis of the ransom sacrifice because Jehovah is “gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abundant in loving-kindness.” He will accept our worship, our spiritual grain offering and drink offering. He will listen when we call upon his name.—Joel 2:14.
11. What place should true worship have in our lives?
11 In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave us something else to bear in mind, when he said: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness.” (Matthew 6:33) Our worship is not to be viewed casually, as something we do in a token way to soothe our conscience. Serving God deserves the first place in our life. Thus, through Joel, Jehovah goes on to say: “Blow a horn in Zion . . . Gather the people together. Sanctify a congregation. Collect the old men together. Gather children and those sucking the breasts together. Let the bridegroom go forth from his interior room, and the bride from her nuptial chamber.” (Joel 2:15, 16) It is natural for newlyweds to be distracted, having eyes only for each other. But even for them, serving Jehovah must come first. Nothing should come ahead of our being gathered to our God, calling on his name.
12. What potential for growth is seen in the Memorial report for last year?
12 With this in mind, let us consider a statistic revealed by the 1997 Service Year Report of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Last year saw a peak of 5,599,931 Kingdom publishers—truly a great crowd of praisers! Attendance at the Memorial was 14,322,226—about eight and a half million more than the number of publishers. That figure shows a wonderful potential for growth. Many of those eight and a half million were already studying the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses as interested persons or as children of baptized parents. A large number were attending a meeting for the very first time. Their being present gave Jehovah’s Witnesses a fine opportunity to get to know them better and to offer to help them make further progress. Then, there were those who attend the Memorial each year and perhaps attend a few other meetings, but they make no further progress. Of course, such ones are very welcome to attend meetings. But we urge them to meditate carefully on Joel’s prophetic words and consider what further steps they must take to be sure that Jehovah will hear when they call on his name.
13. If we are already calling on Jehovah’s name, what responsibility do we have toward others?
13 The apostle Paul stressed another aspect of calling on God’s name. In his letter to the Romans, he quoted Joel’s prophetic words: “Everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will be saved.” Then he reasoned: “How will they call on him in whom they have not put faith? How, in turn, will they put faith in him of whom they have not heard? How, in turn, will they hear without someone to preach?” (Romans 10:13, 14) Yes, many others who up to now have not come to know Jehovah need to call on his name. Those who already know Jehovah have the responsibility not only to preach but also to reach out and give them that help.
A Spiritual Paradise
14, 15. What paradisaic blessings do Jehovah’s people enjoy because they call on his name in a way that pleases him?
14 That is the way both the anointed and the other sheep view things, and as a result, Jehovah blesses them. “Jehovah will be zealous for his land and will show compassion upon his people.” (Joel 2:18) In 1919, Jehovah showed zeal and compassion for his people when he restored them and brought them into his realm of spiritual activity. This is truly a spiritual paradise, well described by Joel in these words: “Do not be fearful, O ground. Be joyful and rejoice; for Jehovah will actually do a great thing in what He does. Do not be fearful, you beasts of the open field, for the pasture grounds of the wilderness will certainly grow green. For the tree will actually give its fruitage. The fig tree and the vine must give their vital energy. And, you sons of Zion, be joyful and rejoice in Jehovah your God; for he will be bound to give you the autumn rain in right measure, and he will bring down upon you people a downpour, autumn rain and spring rain, as at the first. And the threshing floors must be full of cleansed grain, and the press vats must overflow with new wine and oil.”—Joel 2:21-24.
15 What a delightful picture! Abundant provisions of three staples of life in Israel—grain, olive oil, and wine—together with plentiful flocks. In our day those prophetic words are indeed fulfilled in a spiritual way. Jehovah provides us all the spiritual food we need. Do we not all delight in such God-given abundance? Truly, as Malachi foretold, our God has ‘opened the floodgates of the heavens and emptied out upon us a blessing until there is no more want.’—Malachi 3:10.
The End of a System of Things
16. (a) What does the outpouring of Jehovah’s spirit signify for our time? (b) What does the future hold?
16 It is after foretelling the paradisaic condition of God’s people that Joel prophesies about the pouring out of Jehovah’s spirit. When Peter quoted this prophecy at Pentecost, he said that it was fulfilled “in the last days.” (Acts 2:17) The outpouring of God’s spirit back then meant that the last days had begun for the Jewish system of things. The outpouring of God’s spirit on the Israel of God in the 20th century means that we are living in the last days of the worldwide system of things. In view of this, what does the future hold? Joel’s prophecy goes on to tell us: “I will give portents in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun itself will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and fear-inspiring day of Jehovah.”—Joel 2:30, 31.
17, 18. (a) What fear-inspiring day of Jehovah came upon Jerusalem? (b) The certainty of the future fear-inspiring day of Jehovah moves us to do what?
17 In 66 C.E., these prophetic words started to come true in Judea as events moved inexorably toward the climax of the fear-inspiring day of Jehovah in 70 C.E. How terrifying at that time to be among those not exalting the name of Jehovah! Today, events just as terrifying lie ahead, when this whole world system of things will be destroyed at Jehovah’s hand. Still, escape is possible. The prophecy goes on to say: “It must occur that everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will get away safe; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will prove to be the escaped ones, just as Jehovah has said, and in among the survivors, whom Jehovah is calling.” (Joel 2:32) Jehovah’s Witnesses are truly grateful to know Jehovah’s name, and they have complete trust that he will save them when they call on him.
18 What, though, will happen when the great and illustrious day of Jehovah strikes this world in all its fury? That will be discussed in the final study article.
Do You Remember?
□ When did Jehovah first pour his spirit out upon his people?
□ What are some of the things involved in calling upon Jehovah’s name?
□ When did Jehovah’s great and illustrious day come upon fleshly Israel?
□ How does Jehovah bless those who call upon his name today?
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A new nation was born at Pentecost 33 C.E.
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Earlier in this century, Jehovah again poured his spirit on his people in fulfillment of Joel 2:28, 29
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People must be helped to call upon Jehovah’s name