Jehovah Knows How to Deliver His People
“Jehovah knows how to deliver people of godly devotion out of trial.”—2 PETER 2:9.
WHY CAN WE TRUST THAT JEHOVAH:
controls when things will happen so that his purpose comes true?
will be ready to use his power to save his people?
knows exactly how things will happen during the great tribulation?
1. What will the world be like during the “great tribulation”?
THE destruction of Satan’s world will begin very suddenly, when people do not expect it. (1 Thessalonians 5:2, 3) During “the great day of Jehovah,” the world will be full of confusion. (Zephaniah 1:14-17) There will be so much suffering and distress that the Bible describes this period as a time of “great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now.”—Read Matthew 24:21, 22.
2, 3. (a) What will Satan try to do to God’s people during the great tribulation? (b) What can strengthen our confidence in Jehovah’s ability to save his people?
2 Ezekiel prophesied about a final attack on God’s people near the end of the great tribulation. It is an attack by “Gog of the land of Magog.” “A numerous military force” will come against God’s people “like clouds to cover the land.” (Ezekiel 38:2, 14-16) No human organization will help Jehovah’s people. They will need to trust in God for salvation. How will Jehovah’s people react when their enemies come to exterminate them?
3 If you are a servant of Jehovah, do you have faith that Jehovah can and will save his people during the great tribulation? The apostle Peter wrote: “Jehovah knows how to deliver people of godly devotion out of trial, but to reserve unrighteous people for the day of judgment to be cut off.” (2 Peter 2:9) Our confidence in Jehovah’s ability to save his people will become stronger if we meditate on examples of how Jehovah saved his servants in the past. So let us consider three of these examples.
HE SURVIVED THE FLOOD
4. What had to be done before the Flood could come?
4 First, consider the account of the Flood in Noah’s time. Certain things had to be done before the Flood could come. A huge ark had to be built, and the animals had to be safely brought inside it. The Genesis account does not say that Jehovah waited until the ark was built before deciding when the Flood would come. Jehovah did not have to worry that the ark might not be ready in time. In fact, God decided when the Flood would start a long time before he told Noah to build the ark. How do we know that?
5. What did Jehovah announce, as written at Genesis 6:3? When did he make this announcement?
5 The Bible tells us that Jehovah made a decision and announced it in heaven. According to Genesis 6:3, he said: “My spirit shall not act toward man indefinitely in that he is also flesh. Accordingly his days shall amount to a hundred and twenty years.” Jehovah was not talking about how long people live in general. Jehovah was announcing when he would end all wickedness on the earth.* (See footnote.) The Flood began in the year 2370 before Christ. So God must have made this announcement in the year 2490 before Christ. At that time, Noah was 480 years old. (Genesis 7:6) About 20 years after God made that announcement, in the year 2470 before Christ, the first of Noah’s three sons was born. (Genesis 5:32) After Noah’s sons were born, there were about 100 years left before the Flood would come. But Jehovah had still not told Noah about the special work He had for him to do and how it would help to save mankind. How long would God wait before he told Noah?
6. When apparently did Jehovah command Noah to build the ark?
6 It seems that Jehovah waited many years after Noah’s sons were born before telling Noah what He was going to do. Why do we think so? The Bible says that Noah’s sons were already grown and married when God commanded Noah to build the ark. Jehovah told him: “I do establish my covenant with you; and you must go into the ark, you and your sons and your wife and your sons’ wives with you.” (Genesis 6:9-18) So it is possible that Noah was told to build the ark only 40 or 50 years before the Flood.
7. (a) How did Noah and his family show their faith? (b) When did God finally tell Noah exactly when the Flood would begin?
7 While Noah and his family built the ark, they must have wondered about how God would bring the Flood and when the Flood would begin. But even though they did not know any of these details, they showed their faith by continuing to build the ark. The Bible says: “Noah proceeded to do according to all that God had commanded him. He did just so.” (Genesis 6:22) Finally, Jehovah told Noah that the Flood would begin in seven days. This gave Noah and his family just enough time to gather the animals into the ark. So when it began to rain “in the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month,” everything was ready.—Genesis 7:1-5, 11.
8. How does the account of the Flood help us to be sure that Jehovah will know when to save his people at the end of this system?
8 The account of the Flood proves that Jehovah always knows the best time and the best way to save his people. As we get closer to the end of this system of things, we can be sure that all of Jehovah’s purposes will come true at the exact “day and hour” that he has decided.—Matthew 24:36; read Habakkuk 2:3.
THEY WERE DELIVERED AT THE RED SEA
9, 10. How did Jehovah use his people to lead the Egyptian army into a trap?
9 We have learned from the account of the Flood that Jehovah controls when things will happen so that his purpose comes true. The second example that we will consider shows that we can trust Jehovah to use his unlimited power to save his people and to make sure his will is done. Of course, Jehovah is always able to save his people. But sometimes he allows them to be in a dangerous situation in order to trap his enemies. This is what happened when Jehovah freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.
10 About three million Israelites left Egypt. Jehovah had Moses lead them in a way that made Pharaoh think that they were lost and confused. (Read Exodus 14:1-4.) So Pharaoh went after them with his army and trapped them at the Red Sea. There seemed to be no escape for the Israelites. (Exodus 14:5-10) But the Israelites were not in any real danger. Why not? Because Jehovah was ready to save them.
11, 12. (a) How did Jehovah help the Israelites? (b) What was the result of what Jehovah did? What does this teach us about Jehovah?
11 “The pillar of cloud” that led the Israelites moved to the back of them and blocked the Egyptians. The pillar caused darkness for the Egyptians, but it gave light to the Israelites even at night. (Read Exodus 14:19, 20.) Jehovah then divided the sea with a strong east wind, and the bottom of the sea became dry ground. We know that this must have taken a long time because the account says: “At length the sons of Israel went through the midst of the sea on dry land.” The Israelites moved much slower than the war chariots of the Egyptian army. But it was still impossible for the Egyptians to reach the Israelites because Jehovah was fighting for his people. “He went throwing the camp of the Egyptians into confusion. And he kept taking wheels off their chariots so that they were driving them with difficulty.”—Exodus 14:21-25.
12 When all the Israelites were safely on the other side, Jehovah told Moses: “Stretch your hand out over the sea, that the waters may come back over the Egyptians, their war chariots and their cavalrymen.” When the soldiers tried to escape the waters coming toward them, “Jehovah shook the Egyptians off into the midst of the sea.” It was impossible for them to escape. “Not so much as one among them was let remain.” (Exodus 14:26-28) Jehovah showed that he has the power to save his people from any situation.
SOME ESCAPED JERUSALEM’S DESTRUCTION
13. What instructions did Jesus give? What might his followers have wondered?
13 The third example we will consider is what happened when Jerusalem was attacked by the Roman army in the first century. This example emphasizes that Jehovah knows exactly how things will happen to fulfill his purpose. Jehovah used Jesus to give instructions to the Christians living in Jerusalem and Judea before the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70 after Christ. Jesus said that when they saw “the disgusting thing that causes desolation” standing in “a holy place,” they should “begin fleeing to the mountains.” (Matthew 24:15, 16) But how would Jesus’ followers know when this prophecy was being fulfilled?
14. What things happened that made the meaning of Jesus’ instructions clear?
14 The meaning of Jesus’ words became clear many years after he had spoken them. In the year 66 after Christ, Roman armies led by Cestius Gallus came to Jerusalem to stop a Jewish rebellion. When the Jewish rebels, known as the Zealots, hid inside the temple, Roman soldiers began to destroy the temple wall. Those Christians who remembered Jesus’ instructions knew what all of that meant. They understood that the pagan Roman army carrying its idolatrous flags outside the temple wall was the “disgusting thing” standing in “a holy place.” It was time for Jesus’ followers to “begin fleeing to the mountains.” But how would they get out of a city that was surrounded by enemies? Something unexpected was about to happen.
15, 16. (a) What clear instruction did Jesus give? Why was it very important for his followers to obey it? (b) What will we need to do to be saved?
15 Surprisingly, Cestius Gallus and his soldiers left Jerusalem and started to return home. The Zealots chased after them. Now that the Romans and the Jewish rebels had left the city, Jesus’ followers had an opportunity to escape. Jesus had clearly told them to leave the city right away and not to take their things with them. (Read Matthew 24:17, 18.) It was very important for them to obey Jesus and leave right away. Why? Because within a few days, the Zealots returned and began forcing the people of Jerusalem and Judea to join their rebellion. Several Jewish groups fought for control, and the situation in the city quickly got worse. It became harder and harder to leave Jerusalem. When the Romans returned in the year 70 after Christ, it became impossible to leave Jerusalem. (Luke 19:43) Anyone who stayed in the city was trapped! But the Christians who obeyed Jesus’ instructions and fled to the mountains were saved. They saw for themselves that Jehovah knows how to save his people. What lesson can we learn from this account?
16 During the great tribulation, Christians will need to obey instructions from God’s Word and organization. For example, Jesus instructed his followers to “begin fleeing to the mountains.” We too will receive instructions to “begin fleeing” during the great tribulation. How will we flee? We do not exactly know yet.* (See footnote.) But we can be sure that Jehovah will clearly tell us the meaning of that instruction at the right time. We will be saved only if we obey the instructions we receive at that time. So we should ask ourselves: ‘Do I obey instructions that Jehovah gives to his people now? Do I obey right away, or am I slow to obey?’—James 3:17.
WE ARE STRENGTHENED FOR THE FUTURE
17. What do we learn from Habakkuk’s prophecy about Gog’s attack on God’s people?
17 Let us now talk more about the attack by Gog that we mentioned at the beginning. Like Ezekiel, the prophet Habakkuk spoke about this time. He said: “I heard, and my belly began to be agitated; at the sound my lips quivered; rottenness began to enter into my bones; and in my situation I was agitated, that I should quietly wait for the day of distress, for his coming up to the people, that he may raid them.” (Habakkuk 3:16) When Habakkuk heard about enemies coming to attack God’s people, he felt sick to his stomach, his lips trembled, and his body got weak. But he was willing to “quietly wait” for Jehovah’s great day. When Gog and his followers come to attack us, we too may become afraid. But we can have the same confidence as Habakkuk did and trust that Jehovah will save his people.—Habakkuk 3:18, 19.
18. (a) Why should we not be afraid when our enemies come to attack us? (b) What will we consider in the next article?
18 The three examples that we have considered prove without question that Jehovah knows how to save his people. His purpose will surely come true, and he will defeat his enemies. If we want to be there to celebrate Jehovah’s great victory, we must remain faithful to the end. How does Jehovah help us to keep our integrity now? We will consider this in the next article.
SOME EXPRESSIONS EXPLAINED
The great tribulation: The period of time that starts with the destruction of false religion and is followed by the attack on God’s people and the destruction of the rest of this wicked system
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Jehovah always knows the best time and the best way to save his people
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Jehovah has the power to save his people from any situation
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We will be saved only if we obey instructions from God’s Word and organization
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Why were the Israelites not really in danger from Pharaoh’s army?
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How would the Christians escape Jerusalem?