Where Should You Be When the End Comes?
WHEN Jehovah brings an end to the present wicked system of things at Armageddon, how will upright individuals fare? Proverbs 2:21, 22 answers: “The upright are the ones that will reside in the earth, and the blameless are the ones that will be left over in it. As regards the wicked, they will be cut off from the very earth; and as for the treacherous, they will be torn away from it.”
How, though, will the blameless be left over in the earth? Will there be a place of refuge for them? Where should the upright be when the end comes? Four Scriptural accounts of survival shed light on these matters.
When Location Was Important
Concerning the deliverance of the patriarchs Noah and Lot, we read at 2 Peter 2:5-7: “[God] did not hold back from punishing an ancient world, but kept Noah, a preacher of righteousness, safe with seven others when he brought a deluge upon a world of ungodly people; and by reducing the cities Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them, setting a pattern for ungodly persons of things to come; and he delivered righteous Lot, who was greatly distressed by the indulgence of the law-defying people in loose conduct.”
How did Noah survive the Flood? God told Noah: “The end of all flesh has come before me, because the earth is full of violence as a result of them; and here I am bringing them to ruin together with the earth. Make for yourself an ark out of wood of a resinous tree.” (Gen. 6:13, 14) Noah constructed the ark just as Jehovah had commanded him. Seven days before the floodwaters began to fall, Jehovah instructed him to gather the animals into the ark and go into it along with all his household. On the seventh day, the door was shut behind him, “and the downpour upon the earth went on for forty days and forty nights.” (Gen. 7:1-4, 11, 12, 16) Noah and his family “were carried safely through the water.” (1 Pet. 3:20) Their survival depended on their being inside the ark. No other place on earth could offer security.—Gen. 7:19, 20.
In the case of Lot, the instructions were somewhat different. Two angels informed him of where he was not to be. “All who are yours in the city [of Sodom],” the two angels told Lot, “bring out of the place! For we are bringing this place to ruin.” They were to “escape to the mountainous region.”—Gen. 19:12, 13, 17.
The experiences of Noah and Lot prove that “Jehovah knows how to deliver people of godly devotion out of trial, but to reserve unrighteous people for the day of judgment.” (2 Pet. 2:9) In both of these cases of deliverance, location was a decisive factor. Noah had to go into the ark; Lot had to get out of Sodom. But is this always the case? Can Jehovah save the righteous wherever they are, without their having to relocate? To answer that question, note two other accounts of deliverance.
Is Location Always Important?
Before Jehovah devastated Egypt by bringing the tenth plague in Moses’ day, He commanded the Israelites to splash the blood of the Passover animal on the lintels and doorposts of their houses. Why? So that ‘when Jehovah passed through to plague the Egyptians and saw the blood upon the upper part of the doorway and upon the two doorposts, he would pass over the entrance and not allow the ruination to enter into their houses to plague them.’ That very night, “Jehovah struck every firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh sitting on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the prison hole, and every firstborn of beast.” The firstborn of the Israelites were saved without anyone having to relocate.—Ex. 12:22, 23, 29.
Consider also the case of Rahab, a prostitute living in the city of Jericho. The Israelites were about to begin their conquest of the Promised Land. When Rahab realized that Jericho was doomed, she told the two Israelite spies that the city was paralyzed with fear of the advancing Israelites. She hid the spies and asked them to swear to her that she and her whole family would be preserved when Jericho was conquered. The spies instructed Rahab to congregate her family inside her house, situated on the city wall. Leaving the house would mean destruction with the rest of the city. (Josh. 2:8-13, 15, 18, 19) However, Jehovah later told Joshua that “the wall of the city must fall down flat.” (Josh. 6:5) What the spies had stipulated as the place of safety now seemed to be in jeopardy. How would Rahab and her household be delivered?
When the time came to capture Jericho, the Israelites shouted and proceeded to blow the horns. “It came about that as soon as the people [of Israel] heard the sound of the horn and the people began to shout a great war cry,” states Joshua 6:20, “then the wall began to fall down flat.” The collapsing wall was now beyond human control. Miraculously, though, the crumbling of the city wall stopped at Rahab’s house. Joshua ordered the two spies: “Go into the house of the woman, the prostitute, and bring out of there the woman and all who belong to her, just as you have sworn to her.” (Josh. 6:22) All in Rahab’s house were saved.
What Counted Most?
What can we learn from the deliverance of Noah, Lot, the Israelites in Moses’ day, and Rahab? How do these accounts help us to determine where we should be when the end of the present wicked system of things comes?
True, Noah found salvation in the ark. But why was he there? Was it not because he exercised faith and was obedient? “Noah proceeded to do according to all that God had commanded him,” says the Bible. “He did just so.” (Gen. 6:22; Heb. 11:7) What about us? Are we doing all that God has commanded us? Noah was also “a preacher of righteousness.” (2 Pet. 2:5) Like him, are we zealous in the preaching work, even if our territory is unresponsive?
Lot escaped destruction by fleeing Sodom. He was spared because he was righteous in God’s eyes and was greatly distressed by the loose conduct of the law-defying people of Sodom and Gomorrah. Does the loose conduct so prevalent today really distress us? Or are we so desensitized that it does not bother us? Are we doing our utmost to be found “spotless and unblemished and in peace”?—2 Pet. 3:14.
For the Israelites in Egypt and for Rahab in Jericho, deliverance depended on remaining in their houses. This required faith and obedience. (Heb. 11:28, 30, 31) Imagine how each Israelite family must have fixed their eyes on their firstborn as “there began arising a great outcry” in one Egyptian household after another. (Ex. 12:30) Imagine how Rahab must have huddled together with her family as she felt the rumbling of Jericho’s collapsing walls coming closer and closer. It took real faith on her part to remain obedient and stay in that house.
Soon the end will come for Satan’s wicked world. How Jehovah will protect his people in the fear-inspiring ‘day of his anger,’ we do not yet know. (Zeph. 2:3) Regardless of where we are and what our situation is at that time, however, we can be sure that our survival will depend on our faith in Jehovah and our obedience to him. Meanwhile, we should cultivate a proper attitude toward what Isaiah’s prophecy refers to as our “interior rooms.”
“Enter Into Your Interior Rooms”
“Go, my people, enter into your interior rooms, and shut your doors behind you,” states Isaiah 26:20. “Hide yourself for but a moment until the denunciation passes over.” This prophecy may have had its first fulfillment in 539 B.C.E. when the Medes and the Persians conquered Babylon. Upon entering Babylon, Cyrus the Persian apparently commanded everyone to stay indoors because his soldiers were ordered to execute any found out-of-doors.
In our day, the “interior rooms” of this prophecy could be closely associated with the more than 100,000 congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses around the world. Such congregations play an important role in our lives. They will continue to do so through “the great tribulation.” (Rev. 7:14) God’s people are commanded to go into their “interior rooms” and hide themselves “until the denunciation passes over.” It is vital that we develop and maintain a wholesome attitude toward the congregation and be firmly resolved to stay in close association with it. We can take to heart Paul’s exhortation: “Let us consider one another to incite to love and fine works, not forsaking the gathering of ourselves together, as some have the custom, but encouraging one another, and all the more so as [we] behold the day drawing near.”—Heb. 10:24, 25.
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What can we learn from God’s past acts of deliverance?
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What may the “interior rooms” point to in modern times?