“Glad Tidings” From the Apocalypse
“I saw another angel flying in midheaven, and he had everlasting good news to declare as glad tidings to those who dwell on the earth.”—REVELATION 14:6.
1. While Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in the inspiration of the book Apocalypse, why are they not an “apocalyptic sect”?
CONTRARY to the accusations against them, Jehovah’s Witnesses are not an “apocalyptic sect” or a “doomsday cult.” They do, however, accept the Apocalypse, or book of Revelation, as part of the inspired Word of God. True, Revelation does contain judgment messages against the wicked. But in their public witnessing, God’s servants focus mainly on the wonderful hope set out in the Bible, including that in the Apocalypse, or Revelation. Thus, they do not add to or take anything away from the prophetic words found therein.—Revelation 22:18, 19.
Heralds of Glad Tidings
2. What are some scriptures that Jehovah’s Witnesses often use in their preaching work?
2 An often cited Scriptural basis for the public ministry of Jehovah’s Witnesses is Jesus’ statement: “This good news of the kingdom will be heralded in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14, footnote) And what is “this good news of the kingdom”? Many Witnesses would answer by quoting verses from Revelation chapters 20 and 21 that refer to the Thousand Year Reign of Christ and his Kingdom government and the human society, where death, mourning, and pain will be “no more.”—Revelation 20:6; 21:1, 4.
3. To what mission does the public ministry of Jehovah’s Witnesses correspond?
3 As heralds of these glad tidings, Jehovah’s Witnesses are really the mouthpiece of a symbolic heavenly messenger whose mission is also described in Revelation. “I saw another angel flying in midheaven, and he had everlasting good news to declare as glad tidings to those who dwell on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people.” (Revelation 14:6) The “everlasting good news” includes the announcement that “the kingdom [or, rulership] of the world” has “become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ” and that Jehovah’s “appointed time” has come “to bring to ruin those ruining the earth.” (Revelation 11:15, 17, 18) Is that not truly good news?
What Revelation Holds for Us
4. (a) What fundamental truths are outlined in chapter 1 of Revelation? (b) What is required of those who wish to benefit from the glad tidings?
4 The opening chapter of the book of Revelation presents Jehovah as “the Alpha and the Omega, . . . the One who is and who was and who is coming, the Almighty.” And it presents his Son, Jesus Christ, as “the Faithful Witness,” “the firstborn from the dead,” and “the Ruler of the kings of the earth.” It also speaks of Jesus as “him that loves us and that loosed us from our sins by means of his own blood.” (Revelation 1:5, 8) Thus, from the outset, Revelation expounds fundamental life-saving truths. “Those who dwell on the earth” will not benefit from the glad tidings brought to them unless they recognize the sovereignty of Jehovah, put faith in the shed blood of Jesus, and believe that Jehovah resurrected him and that Christ is now earth’s God-appointed Ruler.—Psalm 2:6-8.
5 The next two chapters depict Christ Jesus as the loving heavenly Overseer of the congregations of his disciples on earth. The scroll addressed to a selection of seven Christian congregations that existed in Asia Minor in the first century C.E. contained encouragement and firm counsel that still apply today. The messages sent to the congregations usually begin with such words as “I know your deeds” or “I know your tribulation.” (Revelation 2:2, 9) Yes, Christ knew exactly what was going on in the congregations of his disciples. He commended some for their love, faith, labor in the ministry, endurance, and faithfulness to his name and word. Others he reproved because they had let their love for Jehovah and his Son cool off, or they had lapsed into sexual immorality, idolatry, or apostate sectarianism.
6. What does the vision recorded in Re chapter 4 help people to understand?
6 Re Chapter 4 provides an awe-inspiring vision of the heavenly throne of Jehovah God. It offers a glimpse of the glory of Jehovah’s presence and of the heavenly ruling structure he will use. The crowned rulers, whose thrones encircle the central throne of the universe, do obeisance to Jehovah and proclaim: “You are worthy, Jehovah, even our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power, because you created all things, and because of your will they existed and were created.”—Revelation 4:11.
7. (a) What does the angel summon earth’s inhabitants to do? (b) What is an important part of our educational work?
7 Does this mean something to people today? It certainly does. If they want life under the Millennial Kingdom, they must heed what the “angel flying in midheaven” proclaims: “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of the judgment by him has arrived.” (Revelation 14:6, 7) One of the main purposes of the Bible educational work carried out by Jehovah’s Witnesses is to help “those who dwell on the earth” to know and worship Jehovah, recognize his Creatorship, and willingly submit to his righteous sovereignty.
The Lamb Worthy of Honor
8 The following two Re chapters, 5 and 6, present Jesus Christ as a Lamb found worthy to open a scroll with seven seals, thus revealing in symbolic language the events occurring in our day. (Compare John 1:29.) To this symbolic Lamb, heavenly voices say: “You are worthy to take the scroll and open its seals, because you were slaughtered and with your blood you bought persons for God out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and you made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God, and they are to rule as kings over the earth.” (Revelation 5:9, 10) This vision teaches that on the basis of Christ’s shed blood, certain humans of all origins are called to be with him in heaven and “rule as kings over the earth.” (Compare Revelation 1:5, 6.) Their limited number is revealed later in Revelation.
9. How is Christ presented in Re chapter 6?
9 In another vision, Christ is presented as the crowned rider of a white horse, going forth “conquering and to complete his conquest.” Happily, he will conquer the evil effects symbolized by the three other horsemen of the Apocalypse, whose furious ride has brought war, famine, and death to mankind since the pivotal year 1914. (Revelation 6:1-8) The unique role of Christ, the Lamb of God, in the salvation of mankind and in the outworking of Jehovah’s wonderful purposes is a principal theme of the Bible-teaching work of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
10. (a) What important information is supplied in Re chapter 7? (b) How did Christ speak of those who receive the Kingdom?
10 Re Chapter 7 contains glad tidings indeed. Only in the book of Revelation do we find the number of those whom Jesus called the “little flock” to whom the Lamb’s Father gives the Kingdom. (Luke 12:32; 22:28-30) These are sealed by Jehovah God by means of his spirit. (2 Corinthians 1:21, 22) The apostle John, who received the Revelation, attests: “I heard the number of those who were sealed, a hundred and forty-four thousand.” (Revelation 7:4) This precise number is confirmed in a later chapter as being the total of those “bought from among mankind” to rule with the Lamb on the heavenly Mount Zion. (Revelation 14:1-4) While the churches of Christendom give vague and unconvincing explanations of this number, interestingly, Bible scholar E. W. Bullinger says of it: “It is the simple statement of fact: a definite number in contrast with the indefinite number in this very chapter.”
11. (a) What glad tidings are to be found in Re chapter 7? (b) What prospects open up before the members of the “great crowd”?
11 To what indefinite number was Bullinger referring? In Re 7 verse 9, the apostle John wrote: “After these things I saw, and, look! a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues.” (Revelation 7:9) Who compose this great crowd, what is their present standing before God, and what does the future hold for them? The apocalyptic answer is good news for earth dwellers. We read: “These are the ones that come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Through faith in Christ’s shed blood, they will be protected during “the great tribulation.” Christ “will guide them to fountains of waters of life. And God will wipe out every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:14-17) Yes, millions of people living today can become part of the innumerable crowd that will survive the end of the present wicked system of things. As subjects of the King Jesus Christ during his Millennial Reign, they will be guided by him to everlasting life on earth. Is that not good news?
“His Judgments Are True and Righteous”
12, 13. (a) What do Re chapters 8 through 19 contain? (b) Why should honesthearted people not be disturbed by such prophecies?
12 Re Chapters 8 to 19 are largely responsible for the reputation that the book Apocalypse, or Revelation, has of being a book foretelling terrifying catastrophes. They contain hard-hitting judgment messages (symbolized by trumpet blasts, plagues, and bowls of divine anger) directed against various elements of Satan’s system of things. These judgments will be executed, first against false religion (“Babylon the Great”), then against the ungodly political systems, symbolized by wild beasts.—Revelation 13:1, 2; 17:5-7, 15, 16.a
13 These chapters portray the cleansing of the heavens, with Satan and his demons being cast down to the vicinity of the earth. This provides the only logical explanation for the unprecedented world distress since 1914. (Revelation 12:7-12) They also describe, in symbolic language, the destruction of Satan’s wicked system of things on earth. (Revelation 19:19-21) Should honesthearted people be shocked by such dramatic events? No, for during the execution of God’s judgments, a heavenly host cries out: “Praise Jah, you people! The salvation and the glory and the power belong to our God, because his judgments are true and righteous.”—Revelation 19:1, 2.
14, 15. (a) How will the end of the present wicked system be brought about in righteousness? (b) Why should this part of the Apocalypse be a cause for rejoicing for honesthearted people?
14 Jehovah will not bring in a righteous system of things without ridding the earth of those who are ruining it. (Revelation 11:17, 18; 19:11-16; 20:1, 2) However, no human or political state has the authority or the power to accomplish this. Only Jehovah and his appointed King and Judge, Christ Jesus, can do this in righteousness.—2 Thessalonians 1:6-9.
15 As the Apocalypse quite clearly shows, Jehovah purposes to bring an end to the present wicked system. This fact should be a cause for rejoicing for men and women who “are sighing and groaning over all the detestable things that are being done.” (Ezekiel 9:4) This should impress upon them the urgent need to heed the call made by the angel with the glad tidings, who declared: “Fear God . . . because the hour of the judgment by him has arrived, and so worship the One who made the heaven and the earth.” (Revelation 14:7) May such people worship and serve Jehovah alongside his Witnesses, “who observe the commandments of God and have the work of bearing witness to Jesus.”—Revelation 12:17.
The Glorious Millennial Reign
16. (a) Why have the churches of Christendom rejected the Millennial hope? (b) Why do Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the model prayer will be answered?
16 Re Chapters 20 to 22 of the book of Revelation contain the Scriptural basis for hope in the Millennium. This is the only part of the Bible that actually mentions a thousand-year period that will be the prelude to an eternity of happiness in heaven and on earth. The churches of Christendom have rejected the Millennial hope. Since church dogma has it that the righteous go to heaven and the wicked to hell, it has no place for a paradise earth. The model prayer, which asks that God’s “will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” has lost all meaning for most members of Christendom’s churches. (Matthew 6:10, New International Version) But that is not true of Jehovah’s Witnesses. They firmly believe that Jehovah God did not make the earth “for nothing,” but “to be inhabited.” (Isaiah 45:12, 18) Thus, ancient prophecy, the model prayer, and the apocalyptic hope of the Millennium all agree. During his Thousand Year Reign, Christ will see to it that Jehovah’s will is done on earth, even as it is done in heaven.
17. What indicates that “the thousand years” are to be taken literally?
17 The term “thousand years” occurs six times in the first seven verses of Revelation chapter 20 verses 1-7. Noteworthy is the fact that it is used four times with the definite article “the,” showing that it refers to a literal millennium, not just to an unspecified long period of time, as many of Christendom’s commentators would have us believe. What will take place during the Millennium? First, Satan is neutralized for the entire period. (Revelation 20:1-3; compare Hebrews 2:14.) What good news that is!
18. (a) Why can the Millennium be called a “day” of judgment? (b) What will occur at the end of the thousand years?
18 Since “power of judging” is given to those who “rule as kings with him [Christ] for the thousand years,” this period is, in fact, a thousand-year “day” of judgment. (Revelation 20:4, 6; compare Acts 17:31; 2 Peter 3:8.) The dead will be resurrected and, together with the survivors of “the great tribulation,” will be judged equitably according to their deeds, or actions, during that time. (Revelation 20:12, 13) At the end of the thousand years, Satan will be released briefly in order to submit mankind to a final test after which he, his demons, and any rebels on earth who follow him will be destroyed forever. (Revelation 20:7-10) Humans who pass the test will have their names written indelibly in “the book of life” and will be ushered into an eternity of happy life, serving and worshiping Jehovah on a paradise earth.—Revelation 20:14, 15; Psalm 37:9, 29; Isaiah 66:22, 23.
19. (a) Why can we be sure that the wonderful promises set forth in the book of Revelation will be fulfilled without fail? (b) What will be considered in the following article?
19 Such are the glad tidings set forth in the Apocalypse. They are not empty man-made promises. The apostle John wrote: “The One seated on the throne said: ‘Look! I am making all things new.’ Also, he says: ‘Write, because these words are faithful and true.’” (Revelation 21:5) What must we do to share in the fulfillment of these glad tidings? The book of Revelation contains much counsel for those who want to please God. Following such counsel will bring us boundless happiness, now and forever, as the next article will show.
a For a full explanation of the book of Revelation, see the book Revelation—Its Grand Climax At Hand!, published in 1988 by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
Points for Review
◻ What fundamental truths found in Revelation chapters 4 to 6 form an important part of the glad tidings?
◻ What glad tidings are to be found in Revelation chapter 7?
◻ Why should honesthearted people not be disturbed by the messages of judgment found in Revelation?
◻ In what ways will the Millennium be a “day” of judgment?
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The King Jesus Christ will completely rid the earth of war, famine, and death