“The Great Day of Jehovah Is Near”
“The great day of Jehovah is near. It is near, and there is a hurrying of it very much.”—ZEPHANIAH 1:14.
1, 2. (a) What special day do Christians await? (b) What questions do we need to ask, and why?
A RADIANT young woman eagerly awaits the arrival of her wedding day. An expectant mother lovingly looks forward to the birth of her baby. An exhausted worker deeply desires the start of his long-awaited vacation. What do they have in common? They all wait for a special day—a day that will have an impact on their lives. Their emotions run deep and yet are very different. The day they await will eventually arrive, and when it does, they hope to be ready for it.
2 True Christians today likewise eagerly await the arrival of a special day. It is the great “day of Jehovah.” (Isaiah 13:9; Joel 2:1; 2 Peter 3:12) What is this coming “day of Jehovah,” and how will its arrival affect mankind? Moreover, how can we make sure that we are ready for its arrival? It is imperative that we seek the answers to these questions now because evidence indicates the truthfulness of the following words of the Bible: “The great day of Jehovah is near. It is near, and there is a hurrying of it very much.”—Zephaniah 1:14.
“The Great Day of Jehovah”
3. What is “the great day of Jehovah”?
3 What is “the great day of Jehovah”? Throughout the Scriptures, the expression “the day of Jehovah” refers to special times when Jehovah executed judgment on his enemies and glorified his great name. The unfaithful people of Judah and Jerusalem as well as the oppressive inhabitants of Babylon and Egypt all faced ‘days of Jehovah’ when they experienced the execution of Jehovah’s judgments. (Isaiah 2:1, 10-12; 13:1-6; Jeremiah 46:7-10) However, the greatest “day of Jehovah” still lies ahead. It is the “day” when Jehovah’s judgment will be executed on those who have defamed his name. It will start with the destruction of “Babylon the Great,” the world empire of false religion, and culminate in the annihilation of the rest of the wicked system of things at the war of Armageddon.—Revelation 16:14, 16; 17:5, 15-17; 19:11-21.
4. Why should most of mankind dread the fast-approaching day of Jehovah?
4 Whether they realize it or not, most of mankind should dread this fast-approaching day. Why? Through the prophet Zephaniah, Jehovah answers: “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.” Fearsome indeed! Moreover, the prophet says: “I will cause distress to mankind . . . because it is against Jehovah that they have sinned.”—Zephaniah 1:15, 17.
5. What positive viewpoint do millions have regarding Jehovah’s day, and why?
5 Millions of others, however, eagerly anticipate the arrival of Jehovah’s day. Why? They know that it is a time of salvation and deliverance for the righteous, a day in which Jehovah himself is highly exalted and his glorious name sanctified. (Joel 3:16, 17; Zephaniah 3:12-17) Whether that day is dreaded or eagerly anticipated depends largely on what people are doing with their lives now. How do you view the approach of that day? Are you ready for it? Does the fact that Jehovah’s day is on the horizon affect your day-to-day life right now?
“There Will Come Ridiculers With Their Ridicule”
6. How do most people view the “day of Jehovah,” and why are true Christians not surprised by this?
6 Despite the urgency of the situation, most of earth’s inhabitants are not concerned about the approaching “day of Jehovah.” They mock and ridicule those who warn them of its imminent arrival. True Christians are not surprised by this. They remember the warning recorded by the apostle Peter: “You know this first, that in the last days there will come ridiculers with their ridicule, proceeding according to their own desires and saying: ‘Where is this promised presence of his? Why, from the day our forefathers fell asleep in death, all things are continuing exactly as from creation’s beginning.’”—2 Peter 3:3, 4.
7. What will help us to maintain a sense of urgency?
7 What will help us to resist such negative thinking and thereby maintain a sense of urgency? Peter tells us: “I am arousing your clear thinking faculties by way of a reminder, that you should remember the sayings previously spoken by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles.” (2 Peter 3:1, 2) Our paying attention to prophetic warnings will help us to ‘arouse our clear thinking faculties.’ Perhaps we have heard these reminders repeatedly, but it is vital that we now, more than ever, continue to pay attention to these warnings.—Isaiah 34:1-4; Luke 21:34-36.
8. Why do many ignore Bible reminders?
8 Why do some ignore these reminders? Peter continues: “According to their wish, this fact escapes their notice, that there were heavens from of old and an earth standing compactly out of water and in the midst of water by the word of God; and by those means the world of that time suffered destruction when it was deluged with water.” (2 Peter 3:5, 6) Yes, there are those who do not wish for Jehovah’s day to arrive. They do not want their lives to be disrupted. They do not want to be held accountable to Jehovah for their selfish lifestyle! As Peter states, they live “according to their own desires.”
9. What attitude was displayed by people in the days of Noah and of Lot?
9 Because of “their wish,” these ridiculers prefer to ignore that Jehovah has intervened in mankind’s affairs in the past. Both Jesus Christ and the apostle Peter refer to two such events—“the days of Noah” and “the days of Lot.” (Luke 17:26-30; 2 Peter 2:5-9) Before the Flood, people took no note of the warning Noah gave. Likewise, prior to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, in the eyes of his sons-in-law, Lot “seemed like a man who was joking.”—Genesis 19:14.
10. What is Jehovah’s reaction to those who take no note?
10 It is no different today. Yet, note Jehovah’s reaction to those who take no note: “I will give attention to the men who are congealing upon their dregs and who are saying in their heart, ‘Jehovah will not do good, and he will not do bad.’ And their wealth must come to be for pillage and their houses for a desolate waste. And they will build houses, but they will not have occupancy; and they will plant vineyards, but they will not drink the wine of them.” (Zephaniah 1:12, 13) People may continue to go about their “normal” daily activities, but they will not gain any permanent benefit from their hard work. Why? Because Jehovah’s day will arrive suddenly, and any material riches they may have accumulated will not save them.—Zephaniah 1:18.
“Keep in Expectation of It”
11. What admonition should we keep in mind?
11 Unlike the wicked world around us, we must keep in mind the admonition recorded by the prophet Habakkuk: “The vision is yet for the appointed time, and it keeps panting on to the end, and it will not tell a lie. Even if it should delay, keep in expectation of it; for it will without fail come true. It will not be late.” (Habakkuk 2:3) Even if that day may appear to delay from our imperfect viewpoint, we must remember that Jehovah is not slow. His day will come exactly on time, at an hour that humans do not expect.—Mark 13:33; 2 Peter 3:9, 10.
12. Of what did Jesus warn, and how does this contrast with the actions of Jesus’ faithful followers?
12 Emphasizing the importance of keeping in expectation of Jehovah’s day, Jesus warned that even some of his followers would lose their sense of urgency. He foretold about them: “If ever that evil slave should say in his heart, ‘My master is delaying,’ and should start to beat his fellow slaves and should eat and drink with the confirmed drunkards, the master of that slave will come on a day that he does not expect and in an hour that he does not know, and will punish him with the greatest severity.” (Matthew 24:48-51) In contrast, the faithful and discreet slave class loyally keeps its sense of urgency. The slave class has kept on the watch and proved itself ready. Jesus has appointed it “over all his belongings” here on the earth.—Matthew 24:42-47.
The Need for Urgency
13. How did Jesus highlight the need for a sense of urgency?
13 It was imperative that first-century Christians keep their sense of urgency. They needed to take immediate action to flee Jerusalem when they saw that city “surrounded by encamped armies.” (Luke 21:20, 21) That happened in the year 66 C.E. Notice how Jesus highlighted the need for urgency on the part of Christians back then: “Let the man on the housetop not come down to take the goods out of his house; and let the man in the field not return to the house to pick up his outer garment.” (Matthew 24:17, 18) In view of the fact that history shows that Jerusalem survived for four more years, why did Christians need to heed Jesus’ words so urgently in 66 C.E.?
14, 15. Why was it imperative for first-century Christians to act without delay on seeing Jerusalem surrounded by encamped armies?
14 While it is true that the Roman army did not destroy Jerusalem until 70 C.E., the intervening years were not trouble free. Far from it! Those years were filled with violence and bloodshed. One historian describes the situation in Jerusalem during that time as “a fearfully bloody civil war, accompanied by acts of horrid cruelty.” Young men were recruited to strengthen the fortifications, to take up weapons, and to serve in the military. They underwent daily military exercises. Those who were not in favor of extreme measures were viewed as traitors. If Christians had lingered in the city, they would have found themselves in an extremely dangerous position.—Matthew 26:52; Mark 12:17.
15 It should be noted that Jesus said that “those in Judea,” not just Jerusalem, were to start fleeing. This was important because within a few months of their withdrawal from Jerusalem, the Roman troops once again renewed their war operations. First, Galilee was subdued in 67 C.E., and then Judaea was systematically conquered the following year. This resulted in great misery throughout the countryside. It also became increasingly difficult for any Jew to escape from Jerusalem itself. The city gates were guarded, and any trying to escape were assumed to be deserting to the Romans.
16. What attitude did first-century Christians need to have in order to survive that time of distress?
16 With all these factors in mind, we can understand why Jesus emphasized the urgency of the situation. Christians had to be willing to make sacrifices, not allowing themselves to become sidetracked by material possessions. They had to be willing to “say good-bye to all [their] belongings” in order to obey Jesus’ warning. (Luke 14:33) Those who promptly obeyed and fled to the other side of the Jordan were saved.
Maintaining Our Sense of Urgency
17. Why should we strengthen our sense of urgency?
17 Bible prophecies clearly reveal that we are living deep in the time of the end. As never before, we need to strengthen our sense of urgency. A soldier in peacetime does not feel the tension and danger of battle. Still, if as a result, he feels no urgency to stay alert and is suddenly called into action, he may well be unprepared, with fatal consequences. The same is true spiritually. If we allow our sense of urgency to fade, we may be unprepared to fend off attacks that come our way and may be caught unawares when Jehovah’s day finally arrives. (Luke 21:36; 1 Thessalonians 5:4) If any have ‘drawn back from following Jehovah,’ now is the time for them to seek him again.—Zephaniah 1:3-6; 2 Thessalonians 1:8, 9.
18, 19. What will help us to keep close in mind “the presence of the day of Jehovah”?
18 No wonder the apostle Peter admonishes us to keep close in mind “the presence of the day of Jehovah”! How can we do this? One way is by being involved “in holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion.” (2 Peter 3:11, 12) Keeping busy in such activities will help us to anticipate eagerly the arrival of “the day of Jehovah.” The Greek word translated “keeping close in mind” literally means “speeding up.” We cannot actually speed up the time that remains until the arrival of Jehovah’s day. Yet, as we wait for that day, the time will seem to pass much more quickly if we are busy in God’s service.—1 Corinthians 15:58.
19 Meditating on God’s Word and contemplating the reminders found therein will likewise enable us to do this—“earnestly long for (expect and hasten) the coming” of that day, yes, to be in “constant expectation” of it. (2 Peter 3:12, The Amplified Bible; The New Testament, by William Barclay) Included in these reminders are the numerous prophecies that foretell not only the arrival of Jehovah’s day but also the bounteous blessings that will be bestowed upon those who ‘keep in expectation of Jehovah.’—Zephaniah 3:8.
20. What exhortation should we take to heart?
20 Now is truly the time for all of us to take to heart the exhortation given through the prophet Zephaniah: “Before there comes upon you people the burning anger of Jehovah, before there comes upon you the day of Jehovah’s anger, seek Jehovah, all you meek ones of the earth, who have practiced His own judicial decision. Seek righteousness, seek meekness. Probably you may be concealed in the day of Jehovah’s anger.”—Zephaniah 2:2, 3.
21. What will be the determination of God’s people during 2007?
21 How appropriate, then, is the yeartext that has been selected for the 2007 calendar year: “The great day of Jehovah is near.” God’s people are convinced that “it is near, and there is a hurrying of it very much.” (Zephaniah 1:14) “It will not be late.” (Habakkuk 2:3) So as we await that day, may we be ever alert to the times in which we live, realizing that the final fulfillment of these prophecies is near at hand!
Can You Answer?
• What is “the great day of Jehovah”?
• Why do many ignore the urgency of the times?
• Why did Christians in the first century need to act with a sense of urgency?
• How can we heighten our sense of urgency?
[Blurb on page 19]
The yeartext for 2007 will be: “The great day of Jehovah is near.”—Zephaniah 1:14.
[Pictures on page 16, 17]
As in Noah’s day, ridiculers will be taken by surprise when Jehovah acts
[Picture on page 18]
Christians had to act without delay when they saw Jerusalem “surrounded by encamped armies”