Pay Attention to God’s Prophetic Word
“We have the prophetic word made more sure; and you are doing well in paying attention to it.”—2 PETER 1:19.
1, 2. What example of a false messiah can you relate?
FOR centuries, false messiahs have tried to predict the future. In the fifth century C.E., a man who called himself Moses convinced Jews on the island of Crete that he was the messiah and would deliver them from oppression. On the day set for their liberation, they followed him to a high point overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. He said that they had only to cast themselves into the sea, and it would part before them. A great many who plunged into the waters drowned, and that false messiah fled from the scene.
2 In the 12th century, a “messiah” emerged in Yemen. The caliph, or ruler, asked him for a sign of his messiahship. This “messiah” proposed that the caliph have him beheaded. He prophesied a swift resurrection that would serve as the sign. The caliph agreed to the plan—and that was the end of that “messiah.”
3. Who is the true Messiah, and what did his ministry prove?
3 False messiahs and their prophecies are total failures, but paying attention to God’s prophetic word never leads to disappointment. The true Messiah, Jesus Christ, was the living fulfillment of many Bible prophecies. Quoting Isaiah’s prophecy, for instance, the Gospel writer Matthew wrote: “‘O land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, along the road of the sea, on the other side of the Jordan, Galilee of the nations! the people sitting in darkness saw a great light, and as for those sitting in a region of deathly shadow, light rose upon them.’ From that time on Jesus commenced preaching and saying: ‘Repent, you people, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.’” (Matthew 4:15-17; Isaiah 9:1, 2) Jesus was that “great light,” and his ministry proved that he was the Prophet foretold by Moses. Those refusing to listen to Jesus would be destroyed.—Deuteronomy 18:18, 19; Acts 3:22, 23.
4. How did Jesus fulfill Isaiah 53:12?
4 Jesus also fulfilled the prophetic words of Isaiah 53:12: “He poured out his soul to the very death, and it was with the transgressors that he was counted in; and he himself carried the very sin of many people, and for the transgressors he proceeded to interpose.” Aware that he would soon give his human life as a ransom, Jesus strengthened the faith of his disciples. (Mark 10:45) He did this in an outstanding way through the transfiguration.
The Transfiguration Builds Faith
5. In your own words, how would you describe the transfiguration?
5 The transfiguration was a prophetic event. Said Jesus: “The Son of man is destined to come in the glory of his Father with his angels . . . Truly I say to you that there are some of those standing here that will not taste death at all until first they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” (Matthew 16:27, 28) Did some of the apostles actually see Jesus coming in his Kingdom? Matthew 17:1-7 states: “Six days later Jesus took Peter and James and John his brother along and brought them up into a lofty mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them.” What a dramatic event! “His face shone as the sun, and his outer garments became brilliant as the light. And, look! there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, conversing with him.” Also, “a bright cloud overshadowed them,” and they heard God’s own voice saying: “‘This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved; listen to him.’ At hearing this the disciples fell upon their faces and became very much afraid. Then Jesus came near and, touching them, said: ‘Get up and have no fear.’”
6. (a) Why did Jesus call the transfiguration a vision? (b) Of what was the transfiguration a foregleam?
6 This awesome event likely took place on one of the ridges of Mount Hermon, where Jesus and the three apostles spent the night. The transfiguration evidently occurred at night, making it especially vivid. One reason Jesus called it a vision was that long-dead Moses and Elijah were not literally present. Only Christ was actually there. (Matthew 17:8, 9) Such a dazzling display gave Peter, James, and John a spectacular foregleam of Jesus’ glorious presence in Kingdom power. Moses and Elijah find parallels in Jesus’ anointed joint heirs, and the vision powerfully reinforced his testimony about the Kingdom and his future kingship.
7. How do we know that Peter had vivid recollections of the transfiguration?
7 The transfiguration helped to strengthen the faith of the three apostles who were to play a leading role in the Christian congregation. Christ’s shining face, his glistening garments, and God’s own voice declaring that Jesus was His beloved Son to whom they should listen—all of this served its purpose most effectively. But the apostles were to relate the vision to no one until Jesus was resurrected. Some 32 years later, this vision was still vivid in Peter’s mind. Pointing to it and its significance, he wrote: “No, it was not by following artfully contrived false stories that we acquainted you with the power and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, but it was by having become eyewitnesses of his magnificence. For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when words such as these were borne to him by the magnificent glory: ‘This is my son, my beloved, whom I myself have approved.’ Yes, these words we heard borne from heaven while we were with him in the holy mountain.”—2 Peter 1:16-18.
8. (a) God’s pronouncement regarding his Son focused attention on what? (b) What was indicated by the cloud that appeared in the transfiguration?
8 Of utmost importance was God’s proclamation: “This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved; listen to him.” This statement focuses attention on Jesus as God’s enthroned King, to whom all creation must render obedience. The overshadowing cloud indicated that the fulfillment of this vision would be invisible. It would be discernible only with the eyes of understanding on the part of those who recognize “the sign” of Jesus’ invisible presence in Kingdom power. (Matthew 24:3) In fact, Jesus’ instruction not to tell the vision to anyone until he had risen from the dead shows that his exaltation and glorification would come after his resurrection.
9. Why should the transfiguration strengthen our faith?
9 After referring to the transfiguration, Peter stated: “Consequently we have the prophetic word made more sure; and you are doing well in paying attention to it as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and a daystar rises, in your hearts. For you know this first, that no prophecy of Scripture springs from any private interpretation. For prophecy was at no time brought by man’s will, but men spoke from God as they were borne along by holy spirit.” (2 Peter 1:19-21) The transfiguration underscores the reliability of God’s prophetic word. We must pay attention to that word and not to “artfully contrived false stories” that do not have divine backing or approval. Our faith in the prophetic word should be strengthened by the transfiguration because that visionary foreview of Jesus’ glory and Kingdom power has become a reality. Yes, we have undeniable evidence that Christ is present today as a powerful heavenly King.
How the Daystar Rises
10. Who or what is the “daystar” that Peter mentioned, and why do you so answer?
10 Peter wrote: “You are doing well in paying attention to [the prophetic word] as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and a daystar rises.” Who or what is the “daystar”? The word “daystar” occurs just once in the Bible, and it is similar in meaning to “morning star.” Revelation 22:16 calls Jesus Christ “the bright morning star.” At certain seasons of the year, such stars are the last ones to rise on the eastern horizon. They rise just before the sun appears, and they thus herald the dawn of a new day. Peter used the word “daystar” to refer to Jesus after He received Kingdom power. At that time, Jesus rose in all the universe, including our earth! As the Messianic Daystar, he heralds the dawning of a new day, or era, for obedient mankind.
11. (a) Why does 2 Peter 1:19 not mean that “a daystar” arises in actual human hearts? (b) How would you explain 2 Peter 1:19?
11 Many Bible translations foster the idea that the apostle Peter’s words recorded at 2 Peter 1:19 refer to the physical human heart. An adult heart weighs but 9 to 11 ounces [250-300 g]. How could Jesus Christ—now a glorious immortal spirit creature in heaven—rise in these small human organs? (1 Timothy 6:16) Of course, our figurative hearts are involved in this matter, for with them we pay attention to God’s prophetic word. But look carefully at 2 Peter 1:19, and you will see that the New World Translation uses commas to set off the parenthetical phrase “until day dawns and a daystar rises” from earlier words in the verse and from the expression “in your hearts.” This verse might be expressed in this way: ‘We have the prophetic word made more sure; and you are doing well in paying attention to it as to a lamp shining in a dark place, that is, in your hearts, until day dawns and a daystar rises.’
12. What is the condition of human hearts in general, but what is true of genuine Christians?
12 What is the condition of the figurative hearts of sinful mankind in general? Why, their hearts are in spiritual darkness! If we are true Christians, however, it is as if we have a lamp shining in our hearts, which would otherwise be dark. As indicated by Peter’s words, it would be by paying attention to God’s illuminating prophetic word that genuine Christians would keep alert and enlightened to the dawn of a new day. They would be aware of the fact that the Daystar had risen, not in fleshly human hearts, but before all creation.
13. (a) Why can we be sure that the Daystar has already risen? (b) Why can Christians endure the difficult conditions that Jesus foretold for our day?
13 The Daystar has already risen! We can be sure of that by paying attention to Jesus’ great prophecy regarding his presence. Today, we are experiencing its fulfillment in such events as unprecedented wars, famines, earthquakes, and the worldwide preaching of the good news. (Matthew 24:3-14) Though the difficult conditions that Jesus foretold also affect us as Christians, we are able to endure with peace and joy of heart. Why? Because we pay attention to God’s prophetic word and have faith in what he promises for the future. We know that we are on the threshold of the best of times because we are very deep into “the time of the end”! (Daniel 12:4) The world is in the desperate straits foretold at Isaiah 60:2: “Look! darkness itself will cover the earth, and thick gloom the national groups.” How can anyone find his way in this darkness? A person must humbly pay attention to God’s prophetic word now, before it is too late. People of honest heart need to turn to Jehovah God, the Source of life and light. (Psalm 36:9; Acts 17:28) Only by doing this can anyone have true enlightenment and the hope of enjoying the marvelous future that God has purposed for obedient mankind.—Revelation 21:1-5.
“The Light Has Come Into the World”
14. What must we do to experience the fulfillment of the Bible’s wonderful prophecies?
14 The Scriptures make it clear that Jesus Christ is now ruling as King. Because of his coming to power in 1914, wonderful prophecies will yet be fulfilled. To experience their fulfillment, we must prove to be meek ones who exercise faith in Jesus Christ, repenting of sinful works and of sins committed in ignorance. Of course, those who love darkness will not receive everlasting life. Jesus said: “This is the basis for judgment, that the light has come into the world but men have loved the darkness rather than the light, for their works were wicked. For he that practices vile things hates the light and does not come to the light, in order that his works may not be reproved. But he that does what is true comes to the light, in order that his works may be made manifest as having been worked in harmony with God.”—John 3:19-21.
15. What will happen if we neglect the salvation that God has made possible through his Son?
15 Spiritual light has come into the world by means of Jesus, and listening to him is vital. Paul wrote: “God, who long ago spoke on many occasions and in many ways to our forefathers by means of the prophets, has at the end of these days spoken to us by means of a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things.” (Hebrews 1:1, 2) What will happen if we spurn the salvation that God has made possible through his Son? Paul went on to say: “If the word spoken through angels proved to be firm, and every transgression and disobedient act received a retribution in harmony with justice; how shall we escape if we have neglected a salvation of such greatness in that it began to be spoken through our Lord and was verified for us by those who heard him, while God joined in bearing witness with signs as well as portents and various powerful works and with distributions of holy spirit according to his will?” (Hebrews 2:2-4) Yes, Jesus is central to the proclaiming of the prophetic word.—Revelation 19:10.
16. Why can we have full faith in all of Jehovah God’s prophecies?
16 As noted, Peter said: “No prophecy of Scripture springs from any private interpretation.” Humans alone cannot come up with true prophecy, but we can have full faith in all of God’s prophecies. These originate with Jehovah God himself. By holy spirit he has enabled his servants to understand how Bible prophecies are being fulfilled. Indeed, we are grateful to Jehovah that we have seen the fulfillment of many such prophecies since the year 1914. And we are absolutely sure that the remaining prophecies about the end of this wicked system of things will all be fulfilled. It is vital that we keep on paying attention to divine predictions while we let our light shine. (Matthew 5:16) How thankful we are that Jehovah is causing ‘light to flash up for us in the dense darkness’ enveloping the earth today!—Isaiah 58:10.
17. Why do we need spiritual light from God?
17 Physical light enables us to see. It also makes possible the growth of crops that furnish us with food in great variety. We cannot get along without physical light. What about spiritual light? It gives us guidance and shows us the future as foretold in God’s Word, the Bible. (Psalm 119:105) Jehovah God lovingly ‘sends out his light and his truth.’ (Psalm 43:3) Surely we should show deep appreciation for such provisions. Let us therefore do our utmost to absorb the light of “the glorious knowledge of God” so that it illuminates our figurative heart.—2 Corinthians 4:6; Ephesians 1:18.
18. What is Jehovah’s Daystar now ready to do?
18 How blessed we are to know that in 1914, Jesus Christ, the Daystar, rose in all the universe and began to fulfill the transfiguration vision! Jehovah’s Daystar is now on the scene, ready to carry out God’s purpose in further fulfillment of the transfiguration—“the war of the great day of God the Almighty.” (Revelation 16:14, 16) After this old system has been swept away, Jehovah will fulfill his promise of “new heavens and a new earth” in which we can praise him forever as the Sovereign Lord of the universe and the God of true prophecy. (2 Peter 3:13) Until that grand day, let us keep on walking in divine light by paying attention to God’s prophetic word.
How Would You Answer?
• How would you describe Jesus’ transfiguration?
• How does the transfiguration build faith?
• Who or what is Jehovah’s Daystar, and when did it arise?
• Why should we pay attention to God’s prophetic word?
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Can you explain the significance of the transfiguration?
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The Daystar has already risen. Do you know how and when?