“I will show a waiting attitude.”—MIC. 7:7.
1. Why might we become impatient?
WHEN the Messianic Kingdom was established in 1914, Satan’s system entered its final days. As a result of the war in heaven, Jesus hurled the Devil and the demons down to the vicinity of the earth. (Read Revelation 12:7-9.) Satan knows that he has only “a short period of time.” (Rev. 12:12) However, that “period of time” has gone on for decades, and some may feel that the last days have lasted a long time. As we wait for Jehovah to act, have we personally become impatient?
2. What will this article consider?
2 Impatience can be dangerous, for it can cause us to behave rashly. How can we maintain a waiting attitude? This article will help us to do so by answering the following questions. (1) What can we learn about patience from the example set by the prophet Micah? (2) What events will signal the end of our waiting period? (3) How can we express our appreciation for Jehovah’s patience?
WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM MICAH’S EXAMPLE?
3. In Micah’s day, what were conditions like in Israel?
3 Read Micah 7:2-6. Jehovah’s prophet Micah saw conditions in Israel deteriorate spiritually until they became appalling under the rulership of wicked King Ahaz. Micah likens the unfaithful Israelites to “a brier” and “a thorn hedge.” Just as a brier or a thorn hedge injures anyone who walks into it, those corrupt Israelites harmed anyone with whom they had dealings. The corruption became so great that even family relationships broke down. Aware that he could do nothing to change the situation himself, Micah poured out his heart to Jehovah. Then he waited patiently for God to act. Micah was confident that Jehovah would intervene in His own time.
4. What challenges do we face?
4 Like Micah, we have to live among selfish people. Many are “unthankful, disloyal, having no natural affection.” (2 Tim. 3:2, 3) We find it distressing when workmates, schoolmates, and neighbors show a self-centered attitude. Some of God’s servants, though, have an even greater challenge. Jesus said that his followers would face family opposition, and he used words similar to those recorded at Micah 7:6 to describe the impact that his message would have. “I came to cause division,” said Jesus, “with a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a young wife against her mother-in-law. Indeed, a man’s enemies will be persons of his own household.” (Matt. 10:35, 36) What a difficult thing it is to endure the ridicule and opposition of family members who do not share our faith! If we face such a trial, let us not cave in to family pressure. Instead, may we remain loyal and wait patiently for Jehovah to resolve matters. If we constantly ask for his help, he will give us the strength and wisdom needed in order to endure.
5, 6. How did Jehovah reward Micah, but what did Micah not witness?
5 Jehovah rewarded Micah for his patience. Micah witnessed the end of King Ahaz and his wicked rule. He saw Ahaz’ son, good King Hezekiah, inherit the throne and restore pure worship. And Jehovah’s judgment message against Samaria through Micah was fulfilled when the Assyrians invaded the northern kingdom of Israel.—Mic. 1:6.
6 However, Micah did not witness the fulfillment of all that Jehovah inspired him to prophesy about. For example, Micah wrote: “In the final part of the days . . . the mountain of the house of Jehovah will become firmly established above the top of the mountains, and it will certainly be lifted up above the hills; and to it peoples must stream. And many nations will certainly go and say: ‘Come, you people, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah.’” (Mic. 4:1, 2) Micah died long before that prophecy was fulfilled. Even so, he was determined to remain loyal to Jehovah even to death, no matter what others around him did. In this regard, Micah wrote: “All the peoples, for their part, will walk each one in the name of its god; but we, for our part, shall walk in the name of Jehovah our God to time indefinite, even forever.” (Mic. 4:5) Micah could wait patiently during distressing times because he had absolute confidence that Jehovah would fulfill all of His promises. The faithful prophet trusted in Jehovah.
7, 8. (a) Why do we have reason for confidence? (b) What will make time pass more quickly?
7 Do we have similar confidence in Jehovah? We have good reason for such trust. We have witnessed firsthand the fulfillment of Micah’s prophecy. During “the final part of the days,” millions from all nations and tribes and tongues have streamed to “the mountain of the house of Jehovah.” Despite having come from rival nations, these worshippers have beaten “their swords into plowshares,” and they refuse to “learn war anymore.” (Mic. 4:3) What a privilege we have to be numbered among Jehovah’s peaceful people!
8 Understandably, we want Jehovah to bring an end to this wicked system soon. If we are to wait patiently, though, we need to view matters from Jehovah’s perspective. He has set a day when he will judge mankind “by a man whom he has appointed,” Jesus Christ. (Acts 17:31) But before then, God is giving all sorts of people the opportunity to gain “an accurate knowledge of truth,” to act on that knowledge, and to be saved. Precious lives are at stake. (Read 1 Timothy 2:3, 4.) If we are busy helping others to gain accurate knowledge about God, the time remaining before the coming of Jehovah’s judgment will pass more quickly. Soon—even suddenly—time will run out. When it does, how glad we will be that we kept busy in the Kingdom-preaching work!
WHAT EVENTS SIGNAL THE END OF OUR WAITING?
9-11. Has 1 Thessalonians 5:3 been fulfilled? Explain.
9 Read 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3. In the near future, the nations will say “Peace and security!” If we are not to be caught off guard by this declaration, we need to “stay awake and keep our senses.” (1 Thess. 5:6) To help us stay awake spiritually, let us briefly review events that have set the stage for this noteworthy proclamation.
10 In the aftermath of each of the two world wars, the nations clamored for peace. After the first world war, the League of Nations was formed in the hope of bringing peace. Later, after the second global war, the United Nations became a popular hope of bringing peace to the earth. Government and religious leaders have looked to those agencies to bring about peaceful conditions for mankind. For example, in 1986, the United Nations sanctioned a highly publicized International Year of Peace. That year, leaders from many nations and religions joined the head of the Catholic Church in Assisi, Italy, to offer prayers for peace.
11 However, neither that proclamation of peace and security nor others like it have been the fulfillment of the prophecy recorded at 1 Thessalonians 5:3. Why not? Because the foretold “sudden destruction” has not yet occurred.
12. What do we know about the declaration of “Peace and security”?
12 Who will make this significant future declaration of “Peace and security”? What role will the leaders of Christendom and of other religions play? How will the leaders of various governments be involved in this proclamation? The Scriptures do not tell us. What we do know is that no matter what form the proclamation takes or how convincing it might sound, it will be only a veneer. This old system will remain under Satan’s control. It is rotten to the core and will remain that way. How sad it would be if any of us were to believe the satanic propaganda and violate our Christian neutrality!
13. Why are angels holding back the winds of destruction?
13 Read Revelation 7:1-4. While we wait for the fulfillment of 1 Thessalonians 5:3, powerful angels are holding back the destructive winds of the great tribulation. What are they waiting for? One key event is described by the apostle John—the final sealing of the anointed “slaves of our God.”* Once that final sealing has been completed, the angels will unleash the winds of destruction. What will happen then?
14. What indicates that the demise of Babylon the Great is near?
14 Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion, will meet her deserved end. “Peoples and crowds and nations and tongues” will be unable to give her effective support. Already we see indications that her demise is near. (Rev. 16:12; 17:15-18; 18:7, 8, 21) In fact, a lack of support is now reflected in the news media, where religion and religious leaders are increasingly coming under attack. Even so, the leaders of Babylon the Great feel that they are in no real danger. How wrong they are! Following the proclamation of “Peace and security!” political elements of Satan’s system will suddenly turn on false religion and wipe it out. Never again will Babylon the Great be seen! Surely it is worth waiting patiently for such momentous events.—Rev. 18:8, 10.
HOW CAN WE SHOW APPRECIATION FOR GOD’S PATIENCE?
15. Why has Jehovah not acted hastily?
15 Despite the reproach people heap on his name, Jehovah has waited patiently for the right time to act. Jehovah does not want any honesthearted people to be destroyed. (2 Pet. 3:9, 10) Do we feel the same way? Before Jehovah’s day comes, we can express our appreciation for his patience in the following ways.
16, 17. (a) Why should we want to help those who have become inactive? (b) Why is it urgent that inactive ones return to Jehovah?
16 Help those who have become inactive. Jesus said that there is joy in heaven when just one lost sheep is found. (Matt. 18:14; Luke 15:3-7) Obviously, Jehovah cares deeply about all those who have expressed love for his name, even if they are not actively serving him at present. When we help such ones return to the congregation, we contribute to making Jehovah and the angels rejoice.
17 Are you among those who are not now actively serving God? Perhaps someone in the congregation hurt you and as a result you stopped associating with Jehovah’s organization. Since some time may have passed, ask yourself: ‘Is my life now more meaningful, and am I happier? Was it Jehovah who offended me, or was it an imperfect human? Has Jehovah God ever done anything to harm me?’ Really, he has always done good toward us. Even if we are not living up to our dedication to him, he allows us to enjoy the good things he provides. (Jas. 1:16, 17) Soon, Jehovah’s day will come. Now is the time to return to our heavenly Father’s loving arms and to the congregation—the only safe haven in these last days.—Deut. 33:27; Heb. 10:24, 25.
18. Why should we support those taking the lead?
18 Loyally support those taking the lead. As a loving Shepherd, Jehovah guides and protects us. He has appointed his Son as the Chief Shepherd of the flock. (1 Pet. 5:4) Elders in more than 100,000 congregations shepherd God’s sheep on a personal level. (Acts 20:28) When we loyally support those appointed to take the lead, we express our appreciation to Jehovah and Jesus for all that they have done for us.
19. How can we close ranks?
19 Draw close to one another. What does that mean? When a well-trained army is attacked by an enemy, the individual soldiers close ranks, that is, they draw closer to one another. They thus form an impenetrable defense. Satan is intensifying his attacks on God’s people. Now is no time for fighting within our ranks. Now is the time for us to draw close to one another, to overlook the imperfections of others, and to display confidence in Jehovah’s leadership.
20. What should we do now?
20 May all of us remain spiritually alert and display a waiting attitude. Let us patiently wait for the proclamation of “Peace and security!” and for the final sealing of the chosen ones. Thereafter, the four angels will let go of the destructive winds, and Babylon the Great will be destroyed. While we wait for these momentous events to happen, let us accept direction from those appointed to take the lead in Jehovah’s organization. Close ranks against the Devil and the demons! Now is the time to heed the psalmist’s exhortation: “Be courageous, and may your heart be strong, all you who are waiting for Jehovah.”—Ps. 31:24.
For a discussion of the difference between the initial sealing of members of the anointed and their final sealing, see the January 1, 2007, issue of The Watchtower, pages 30-31.