Who Will Survive the Day of Jehovah?
“The day is coming that is burning like the furnace.”—MALACHI 4:1.
1. How does Malachi describe the end of this wicked system?
THE prophet Malachi was inspired by God to record prophecies of awesome events that will take place in the very near future. These events will affect every person on earth. Malachi 4:1 foretells: “‘Look! the day is coming that is burning like the furnace, and all the presumptuous ones and all those doing wickedness must become as stubble. And the day that is coming will certainly devour them,’ Jehovah of armies has said, ‘so that it will not leave to them either root or bough.’” How complete will be the destruction of this wicked system of things? It will be like a tree the roots of which have been destroyed so that it can never grow again.
2. How do certain scriptures describe Jehovah’s day?
2 You may ask, ‘What “day” is the prophet Malachi foretelling?’ It is the same day spoken of at Isaiah 13:9, which declares: “Look! The day of Jehovah itself is coming, cruel both with fury and with burning anger, in order to make the land an object of astonishment, and that it may annihilate the land’s sinners out of it.” Zephaniah 1:15 provides this description: “That day is a day of fury, a day of distress and of anguish, a day of storm and of desolation, a day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick gloom.”
“The Great Tribulation”
3. What is “the day of Jehovah”?
3 In the major fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy, “the day of Jehovah” is a period of time characterized by “great tribulation.” Jesus foretold: “Then there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.” (Matthew 24:21) Think of the distress the world has already seen, especially since 1914. (Matthew 24:7-12) Why, World War II alone took over 50 million lives! Yet, “the great tribulation” will see calamities that will dwarf such troubles. That event, the same as the day of Jehovah, ends with Armageddon, bringing to a close the last days of this wicked system.—2 Timothy 3:1-5, 13; Revelation 7:14; 16:14, 16.
4. When the day of Jehovah concludes, what will have happened?
4 By the end of that day of Jehovah, Satan’s world and its supporters will have been annihilated. First to go will be all false religion. Then Jehovah’s judgment will be expressed against Satan’s economic and political systems. (Revelation 17:12-14; 19:17, 18) Ezekiel prophesies: “Into the streets they will throw their very silver, and an abhorrent thing their own gold will become. Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them in the day of Jehovah’s fury.” (Ezekiel 7:19) Regarding that day Zephaniah 1:14 says: “The great day of Jehovah is near. It is near, and there is a hurrying of it very much.” In view of what the Bible says about Jehovah’s day, we should be determined to act in harmony with God’s righteous requirements.
5. What is experienced by those who fear Jehovah’s name?
5 After foretelling what the day of Jehovah will do to Satan’s world, Malachi 4:2 records Jehovah as saying: “To you who are in fear of my name the sun of righteousness will certainly shine forth, with healing in its wings; and you will actually go forth and paw the ground like fattened calves.” “The sun of righteousness” is Jesus Christ. He is the spiritual “light of the world.” (John 8:12) Jesus shines forth with healing, first spiritual healing, which we experience today, and then complete physical healing in the new world. As Jehovah says, the healed ones will “go forth and paw the ground like fattened calves” that are excited and delighted to be released from confinement.
6. What victory celebration will Jehovah’s servants enjoy?
6 What of those who ignore Jehovah’s requirements? Malachi 4:3 states: “‘You people [God’s servants] will certainly tread down the wicked ones, for they will become as powder under the soles of your feet in the day on which I am acting,’ Jehovah of armies has said.” Human worshipers of God will not take part in destroying Satan’s world. Rather, they figuratively “tread down the wicked ones” by sharing in the victory celebration that follows the day of Jehovah. A great celebration followed the destruction of Pharaoh’s armies in the Red Sea. (Exodus 15:1-21) The removal of Satan and his world at the great tribulation will likewise be followed by a victory celebration. Faithful survivors of Jehovah’s day will cry out: “Let us be joyful and rejoice in the salvation by him.” (Isaiah 25:9) What exultation there will be when Jehovah’s sovereignty is vindicated and the earth is cleansed for peaceful habitation!
Christendom Imitates Israel
7, 8. Describe the spiritual condition of Israel in Malachi’s time.
7 Those who come into a favored position with Jehovah are those who serve him, as contrasted with those who do not. It was the same when Malachi wrote his book. In 537 B.C.E., a remnant of Israel was restored after 70 years of Babylonian captivity. However, over the next century, the restored nation began drifting into apostasy and wickedness. Most of the people were dishonoring Jehovah’s name; ignoring his righteous laws; polluting his temple by bringing blind, lame, and sick animals for sacrifice; and divorcing the wives of their youth.
8 Consequently, Jehovah told them: “I will come near to you people for the judgment, and I will become a speedy witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against those swearing falsely, and against those acting fraudulently with the wages of a wage worker, with the widow and with the fatherless boy, and those turning away the alien resident, while they have not feared me, . . . for I am Jehovah; I have not changed.” (Malachi 3:5, 6) Yet, Jehovah extended an invitation to any who would turn from their bad ways: “Return to me, and I will return to you.”—Malachi 3:7.
9. How did Malachi’s prophecies have a preliminary fulfillment?
9 Those words also had a fulfillment in the first century C.E. A remnant of Jews served Jehovah and became part of a new “nation” of spirit-anointed Christians, which came to include Gentiles. But the vast majority of natural Israel rejected Jesus. Jesus therefore told that nation of Israel: “Look! Your house is abandoned to you.” (Matthew 23:38; 1 Corinthians 16:22) In 70 C.E., as foretold at Malachi 4:1, a “day . . . burning like the furnace” came upon fleshly Israel. Jerusalem and her temple were destroyed, and it is reported that over one million people died as a result of famine, power struggles, and attacks by the Roman armies. However, those who served Jehovah escaped that tribulation.—Mark 13:14-20.
10. In what way do people in general and the clergy imitate first-century Israel?
10 Mankind, and particularly Christendom, has imitated the first-century nation of Israel. Leaders and people in general in Christendom prefer their own religious creeds over the truths of God that Jesus taught. The clergy are especially at fault. They refuse to use Jehovah’s name, even taking it out of their Bible versions. They dishonor Jehovah with unscriptural teachings, such as the pagan doctrines of eternal torment in hellfire, the Trinity, immortality of the soul, and evolution. They thus rob Jehovah of his deserved praise, as the priests did in Malachi’s day.
11. How do the world’s religions show whom they really serve?
11 In 1914, when the last days began, this world’s religions, led by those claiming to be Christian, showed whom they really served. During both world wars, they encouraged their members to go to war over national differences, even if it meant killing people of their own religion. God’s Word clearly identifies those who obey Jehovah and those who do not: “The children of God and the children of the Devil are evident by this fact: Everyone who does not carry on righteousness does not originate with God, neither does he who does not love his brother. For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should have love for one another; not like Cain, who originated with the wicked one and slaughtered his brother.”—1 John 3:10-12.
12, 13. What prophecies have God’s servants fulfilled in our time?
12 By the end of World War I in 1918, Jehovah’s servants could see that God had condemned Christendom and all the rest of false religion. From then on, the call went out to righthearted ones: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues. For her sins have massed together clear up to heaven, and God has called her acts of injustice to mind.” (Revelation 18:4, 5) Those who desired to serve Jehovah began to be cleansed of vestiges of false religion and commenced preaching the good news of the established Kingdom worldwide, a work to be completed before the end of this wicked system of things.—Matthew 24:14.
13 This was in order to fulfill the prophecy at Malachi 4:5, where Jehovah stated: “Look! I am sending to you people Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and fear-inspiring day of Jehovah.” That prophecy had a first fulfillment in the work of John the Baptizer, who was foreshadowed by Elijah. John did an Elijahlike work when he baptized Jews who had repented of their sins against the Law covenant. More important, John was the Messiah’s forerunner. However, John’s work was only an initial fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy. Jesus, while identifying John as a second Elijah, indicated that there would be a future “Elijah” work.—Matthew 17:11, 12.
14. What vital work must be done before this system ends?
14 Malachi’s prophecy showed that this great Elijah work would be done before “the great and fear-inspiring day of Jehovah.” That day concludes with the rapidly approaching war of the great day of God the Almighty, at Armageddon. This means that the end of this wicked system of things and the beginning of the Millennial Reign of God’s heavenly Kingdom under the enthroned Jesus Christ would be preceded by a work corresponding to the activity of Elijah. True to that prophecy, before Jehovah destroys this wicked system, the modern-day Elijah class, supported by millions of fellow Christians with an earthly hope, enthusiastically carry on the work of restoring pure worship, exalting the name of Jehovah, and teaching Bible truths to sheeplike ones.
Jehovah Blesses His Servants
15. How does Jehovah remember his servants?
15 Jehovah blesses those who serve him. Malachi 3:16 says: “At that time those in fear of Jehovah spoke with one another, each one with his companion, and Jehovah kept paying attention and listening. And a book of remembrance began to be written up before him for those in fear of Jehovah and for those thinking upon his name.” From Abel onward, God has been writing in a book, as it were, the names of those who will be remembered with everlasting life in view. To these Jehovah says: “Bring all the tenth parts into the storehouse, that there may come to be food in my house; and test me out, please, in this respect . . . whether I shall not open to you people the floodgates of the heavens and actually empty out upon you a blessing until there is no more want.”—Malachi 3:10.
16, 17. How has Jehovah blessed his people and their work?
16 Jehovah has indeed blessed those who serve him. How? One way is with increased understanding of his purposes. (Proverbs 4:18; Daniel 12:10) Another is by giving them amazing fruitage in their preaching work. Many honesthearted people have joined them in true worship, and these all make up “a great crowd . . . out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, . . . and they keep on crying with a loud voice, saying: ‘Salvation we owe to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb.’” (Revelation 7:9, 10) This great crowd has been manifested in a marvelous way, and those actively serving Jehovah now number over six million in more than 93,000 congregations throughout the earth!
17 Jehovah’s blessing is also seen in that Jehovah’s Witnesses publish the most widely distributed Bible-based publications in all history. At the present time, 90 million copies of the Watchtower and Awake! magazines are produced every month, The Watchtower in 144 languages, Awake! in 87. The Bible study book The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life, published in 1968, reached a distribution of over 107 million in 117 languages. You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, released in 1982, reached more than 81 million in 131 languages. The book Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life, released in 1995, has so far seen a printing of over 85 million in 154 languages. The brochure What Does God Require of Us?, published in 1996, has a distribution of 150 million copies in 244 languages as of now.
18. Why do we enjoy spiritual prosperity despite opposition?
18 This spiritual prosperity has been enjoyed despite the most severe and prolonged opposition from Satan’s world. This shows the truth of Isaiah 54:17: “‘Any weapon whatever that will be formed against you will have no success, and any tongue at all that will rise up against you in the judgment you will condemn. This is the hereditary possession of the servants of Jehovah, and their righteousness is from me,’ is the utterance of Jehovah.” How comforting it is for Jehovah’s servants to know that Malachi 3:17 is finding its major fulfillment upon them: “‘They will certainly become mine,’ Jehovah of armies has said, ‘at the day when I am producing a special property.’”
Joyfully Serving Jehovah
19. How are those who serve Jehovah distinct from those who do not?
19 The contrast between faithful servants of Jehovah and those in Satan’s world is becoming more pronounced with the passage of time. Malachi 3:18 foretold: “You people will again certainly see the distinction between a righteous one and a wicked one, between one serving God and one who has not served him.” One of many distinctions is that those who serve Jehovah do so with great joy. Among the reasons for this is the marvelous hope that they have. They have absolute confidence in Jehovah when he says: “Here I am creating new heavens and a new earth; and the former things will not be called to mind, neither will they come up into the heart. But exult, you people, and be joyful forever in what I am creating.”—Isaiah 65:17, 18; Psalm 37:10, 11, 29; Revelation 21:4, 5.
20. Why are we a joyful people?
20 We believe Jehovah’s promise that his loyal people will survive his great day and be brought into the new world. (Zephaniah 2:3; Revelation 7:13, 14) And while some because of old age, illness, or an accident may die before then, Jehovah gives his word that he will resurrect them with everlasting life in view. (John 5:28, 29; Titus 1:2) So while we all have our problems and challenges, as we face this day of Jehovah, we have every reason for being the most joyful people on the face of the earth.
How Do You Answer?
• What is “the day of Jehovah”?
• How do the world’s religions imitate ancient Israel?
• What prophecies do Jehovah’s servants fulfill?
• How has Jehovah blessed his people?
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First-century Jerusalem ‘burned like the furnace’
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Jehovah provides for those who serve him
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Because of their marvelous hope, Jehovah’s servants are truly joyful