Pay Attention to the Prophetic Word
1 “We have the prophetic word made more sure.” (2 Pet. 1:19) Why did Peter say this? The Kingdom prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures as well as those from Jesus Christ himself had been confirmed, or “made more sure,” by what Peter and two other disciples had seen and heard at the transfiguration scene some 32 years earlier. This dramatic vision had reassured them that Jesus Christ would indeed come into Kingdom power with radiant glory and with the full support of his Father. Christians in the first century were ‘doing well in paying attention to that prophetic word as to a lamp shining,’ in that their hearts would otherwise be dark. Paying attention to the illuminating prophetic word would keep them alert and enlightened to the dawn of a new day, when the “daystar,” Christ, would rise in Kingdom glory.—2 Pet. 1:16-19; Matt. 17:1-9.
2 We were not on hand to see the glorious transfiguration scene along with Peter. Yet, Christians in this generation who have paid attention to the prophetic word have been highly privileged to see, not a preview of Christ’s Kingdom, but overwhelming evidence that the glorious King rules in reality! Each passing year since 1914, the prophetic word is made more sure as we witness the fulfillment of the various elements of the striking “sign” Jesus gave of his royal “presence.” An important part of the sign is that the announcement of his government, or Kingdom, would be made in all the nations before the King brings an end to this system of things. Under Christ’s direction, the Kingdom-preaching work is being done now in 231 lands on a scale never before imagined. (Matt. 24:3-14) Furthermore, as the time for “the great tribulation” draws close, the enthroned King has been gathering “a great crowd” “out of all nations” who come to exercise faith in the ransoming “blood of the Lamb.”—Rev. 7:9, 10, 14.
3 Since the “daystar” has risen, that is, Christ has come into Kingdom power, is there still reason to pay attention to the prophetic word? Yes! The glorified Jesus Christ gave the apostle John a series of visions that make up the book of Revelation. While these were of encouragement and instruction to the early Christians, they are of special value to those living in “the Lord’s day,” where we now find ourselves. (Rev. 1:10) That is why the congregations of Jehovah’s people are now making a further study of the Revelation Climax book.
4 “Happy is he who reads aloud and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and who observe the things written in it; for the appointed time is near.” (Rev. 1:3) If we are to be happy, we must get the sense, yes, the real understanding, of these prophetic visions. What does this require? Repetition is needed to sound down into our hearts the import of the Revelation account. The apostle Peter, a member of the first-century governing body, recognized the value of repeating fundamental truths to ‘rouse up’ his brothers spiritually. (2 Pet. 1:12, 13) The modern-day “faithful and discreet slave” likewise helps us keep our appreciation alive by repeatedly drawing our attention to the prophetic word.—Matt. 24:45-47.
5 How to Pay Attention: What kind of attention does the prophetic word in Revelation deserve? The apostle Paul reminds us that God has not spoken to Christians through angels or prophets as he communicated with his pre-Christian servants. Rather, Jehovah has communicated with us through his most cherished Son, whom he appointed “heir of all things.” (Heb. 1:1, 2) “That is why it is necessary for us to pay more than the usual attention to the things heard by us, that we may never drift away.” (Heb. 2:1) Yes, we must pay attention to God’s Word and especially so to the prophetic word that comes through Jesus Christ. How can we pay special attention to our study of Revelation?
6 First, it is very important to be present each week at the Congregation Book Study. True, for many of us, this will be the third time that we have studied the Revelation Climax book. Thus, some may take a somewhat casual view of attending the book study, feeling that even if they miss a meeting, they are already familiar with the material. However, with each passing year, this prophetic information becomes more relevant and timely than it was in 1989 when we first studied the Revelation Climax book. All of us need to be alert to present-day happenings that are moving rapidly forward in fulfillment of the prophecies of Revelation. Then we can be prepared to act in harmony with Jehovah’s will. Make it your personal goal not to miss a single book study, if at all possible, during this important consideration of Revelation.
7 Second, prepare your lesson well. Look up the cited scriptures and consider how they support the explanation of the verses of Revelation being studied. In this way you will get more than simply answers to the questions. Strive to acquire not just knowledge but wisdom and understanding. (Prov. 4:7) Third, actively participate by making comments and reading scriptures. Make it a goal to answer at least once and preferably several times at each study. Doing so will help you keep your mind focused on the lesson.
8 Paying more than the usual attention to the prophetic word includes more than preparation, attendance, and participation. It also means that even after the study, we continue to ‘ponder over these things, to be absorbed in them.’ (1 Tim. 4:15) If the prophetic word is to be as a lamp shining in our hearts, we must allow it to affect our inner person deeply—our thoughts, desires, emotions, motivations, and goals. (2 Pet. 1:19) Thus, we should be asking ourselves such questions as: What does this information mean to me personally? What have I learned about Jehovah and his Son, Jesus Christ? What principles underlie the material? Am I getting the sense of the study in my heart? How can I apply these truths in my life? In my family? In the congregation? By making practical application of what we learn, we can say, as did the psalmist: “Your word is a lamp to my foot, and a light to my roadway.”—Ps. 119:105; Job 29:3, 4.
9 Keep Awake During Critical Times: In the year 33 C.E., Jesus warned his disciples of Jerusalem’s coming destruction and the situation that would signal the time for them to flee to a place of safety. (Luke 19:41-44; 21:7-21) Then, over 30 years passed. It could have seemed to some Judean Christians that little would change in the near future. How timely was the exhortation from the beloved apostle Peter in his second letter, written about 64 C.E., to ‘pay attention to the prophetic word’! (2 Pet. 1:19) Shortly afterward, in 66 C.E., Jerusalem was surrounded by Roman armies. When the Roman forces suddenly withdrew for no apparent reason, Judean Christians who were awake followed Jesus’ instructions and fled. Then, in 70 C.E., the Roman armies returned and completely destroyed Jerusalem. How glad those Christians must have been that they had paid close attention to Jesus’ prophetic word!
10 For what are we modern-day Christians on the watch? In the Revelation visions, Jesus alerted Christians living now to many events that would take place during the Lord’s day. During the past 80 years, a number of these events have already occurred: the birth of the Kingdom; the war in heaven and subsequent defeat of Satan and his demons, followed by their confinement to the vicinity of the earth; the fall of Babylon the Great; and the appearance of the scarlet-colored wild beast, the eighth world power. The fulfillment of these aspects of the prophetic word in Revelation makes it more sure that soon we will see these remaining dramatic events: the sealing of the last members of the 144,000, the completed gathering of the great crowd, the destruction of Babylon the Great, the war of Armageddon, the abyssing of Satan, and the Millennial Rule of Christ. How important that we pay attention to Jesus’ warning: “Look! I am coming as a thief. Happy is the one that stays awake and keeps his outer garments, that he may not walk naked and people look upon his shamefulness”!—Rev. 16:15.
11 Are we keeping awake? How seriously do we take the prophetic word? Whether we dedicated our lives to Jehovah 5 years ago or 50 years ago, Paul’s words to the Roman Christians aptly apply to us: “You people know the season, that it is already the hour for you to awake from sleep, for now our salvation is nearer than at the time when we became believers. The night is well along; the day has drawn near.” Paul then exhorts Christians to “put off the works belonging to darkness” and to “walk decently.” (Rom. 13:11-13) We live in a world that is in pitch darkness morally. What was shocking conduct just 30 or 40 years ago is normal to many worldlings in this last decade of the 20th century. Beware, brothers, that you never allow yourselves to drift into the world’s darkness and become morally drowsy. If you allow yourself to become permissive or tolerant of this world’s degraded thinking and way of life, you will lose sight of the big issues that face us today and that will soon be settled forever: the vindication of Jehovah’s sovereignty and the sanctification of his name. Spiritual drowsiness will put in jeopardy one’s salvation, now so near at hand.
12 Grow in Heart Appreciation for the Prophetic Word: The ancient Hebrew prophets were keenly interested in the fulfillment of their spirit-inspired utterances about the Messiah. They made “a diligent inquiry and a careful search” as to the outworking of God’s purpose. (1 Pet. 1:10, 11) Likewise, as you pay attention to the prophetic word in the book of Revelation, you will grow in appreciation for spiritual things. Your spiritual appetite will intensify, so that you will be stirred to dig into “the deep things of God.” (1 Cor. 2:10) As you fill your heart with appreciation and love for the prophetic word, there will be no need for anyone to urge you to attend the meetings; you will be moved to attend and participate regularly. (Luke 6:45) And if the ‘word is in your own heart,’ you will be moved to ‘make public declaration of it for salvation.’—Rom. 10:8-10.
13 The deeper we get into the time of the end, the more ridiculers will deride us for persisting in our faith in God’s prophetic declarations. (2 Pet. 3:3, 4) Yet, we will keep awake to the prophetic word. The lamp of God’s Word shows us where we are in the stream of time. It brilliantly lights up the fact that we are in the last days of this dark world. The daystar has risen! Christ is in Kingdom power! On the horizon we already see the dawn of a new day. May God’s promised new world continue to be as real to us as the Kingdom was to the three apostles who were privileged to see a preview of it in the miraculous vision of Jesus’ transfiguration!