Deliverance Near for People of Godly Devotion!
“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.
1. (a) What distressing conditions confront humankind in our day? (b) In view of this, what questions are we going to consider?
PROBLEMS of life are increasing for all mankind. This is true whether one lives where material things are plentiful or where they are in short supply. Insecurity exists everywhere. As if unstable economic conditions were not enough to worry about, serious environmental problems are assaulting planet Earth, threatening all life upon it. Sickness is rampant. Infectious diseases, heart ailments, and the scourge of cancer take a heavy toll. Immorality has wreaked havoc with human emotions and with family life. Besides all of this, the world is saturated with violence. In view of what human society is facing, we realistically ask: Is there a sound basis for expecting early deliverance? If so, how will it come, and for whom?—Compare Habakkuk 1:2; 2:1-3.
2, 3. (a) Why do we today find what is said at 2 Peter 2:9 to be reassuring? (b) To what specific acts of deliverance does the Bible point as a basis for encouragement?
2 What is taking place in our day reminds us of certain other highly significant times in human history. The apostle Peter draws attention to the acts of deliverance that God performed on those occasions and then comes to this reassuring conclusion: “Jehovah knows how to deliver people of godly devotion out of trial.” (2 Peter 2:9) Take note of the context of that statement, at 2 Peter 2:4-10:
3 “Certainly if God did not hold back from punishing the angels that sinned, but, by throwing them into Tartarus, delivered them to pits of dense darkness to be reserved for judgment; and he 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—for that righteous man by what he saw and heard while dwelling among them from day to day was tormenting his righteous soul by reason of their lawless deeds—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, especially, however, those who go on after flesh with the desire to defile it and who look down on lordship.” As those scriptures show, what took place in Noah’s day and in the time of Lot is filled with meaning for us.
The Spirit Prevalent in Noah’s Day
4. In Noah’s day, why did God view the earth as ruined? (Psalm 11:5)
4 The historical account in Genesis chapter 6 informs us that in Noah’s day the earth had become ruined in the sight of the true God. Why? Because of violence. This was not a matter of isolated cases of criminal violence. Genesis 6:11 reports that “the earth became filled with violence.”
5. (a) What attitude on the part of humans contributed to the violence of Noah’s day? (b) What had Enoch warned regarding ungodliness?
5 What was behind it? The scripture quoted from 2 Peter refers to ungodly people. Yes, a spirit of ungodliness pervaded human affairs. This involved not merely a general disregard for divine law but a defiant attitude toward God himself.* And when men are defiant toward God, how can it be expected that they will deal kindly with their fellowman? Already before Noah was born, this ungodliness was so rampant that Jehovah had caused Enoch to prophesy regarding the outcome. (Jude 14, 15) Their defiance of God was certain to bring an execution of divine judgment.
6, 7. What situation involving angels was a major factor in the bad conditions that developed before the Flood?
6 There was also another influence that contributed to the violence of those days. Genesis 6:1, 2 directs attention to it when it says: “Now it came about that when men started to grow in numbers on the surface of the ground and daughters were born to them, then the sons of the true God began to notice the daughters of men, that they were good-looking; and they went taking wives for themselves, namely, all whom they chose.” Who were those sons of the true God? Not mere humans. Men had for centuries been taking note of good-looking women and had been marrying them. These sons of God were angels who materialized. At Jude 6, they are described as “angels that did not keep their original position but forsook their own proper dwelling place.”—Compare 1 Peter 3:19, 20.
7 When these superhuman creatures who materialized as men had relations with the daughters of men, what was the result? “The Nephilim proved to be in the earth in those days, and also after that, when the sons of the true God continued to have relations with the daughters of men and they bore sons to them, they were the mighty ones who were of old, the men of fame.” Yes, the offspring of that unnatural union were Nephilim, mighty ones who used their superior power to bully others.—Genesis 6:4.
8. How did Jehovah react to the bad conditions on earth?
8 Just how bad did the situation become? It came to the point that “Jehovah saw that the badness of man was abundant in the earth and every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only bad all the time.” How did God react to this? “Jehovah felt regrets that he had made men in the earth, and he felt hurt at his heart.” This does not mean that God felt that he had made a mistake when he created humankind. Rather, he felt regret that after he had made humans, their conduct became so evil that he was obliged to destroy them.—Genesis 6:5-7.
The Course That Led to Deliverance
9. (a) Why did God deal favorably with Noah? (b) What advance information did God give to Noah?
9 As for Noah, he “found favor in the eyes of Jehovah. . . . Noah was a righteous man. He proved himself faultless among his contemporaries. Noah walked with the true God.” (Genesis 6:8, 9) So Jehovah gave Noah advance notice that He was going to bring a global deluge and instructed him to build an ark. All humankind, apart from Noah and his family, would be wiped off the surface of the earth. Even the animal creation would be destroyed, with the exception of those few representatives of each basic kind that Noah was to take into the ark.—Genesis 6:13, 14, 17.
10. (a) What preparation had to be made with a view to preservation, and how big a job was it? (b) What is noteworthy about the manner in which Noah cared for his assignment?
10 This advance knowledge put a heavy responsibility on Noah. The ark must be built. It was to be shaped like a huge chest, some 1,400,000 cubic feet [40,000 cu m] in total volume. Noah was to stock it with food and then gather animals and birds, “every sort of flesh,” for preservation. It was a project that would involve years of work. How did Noah respond? He “proceeded to do according to all that God had commanded him. He did just so.”—Genesis 6:14-16, 19-22; Hebrews 11:7.
11. As to his own household, what vital responsibility rested upon Noah?
11 While doing that work, Noah also had to devote time to building up the spirituality of his household. They needed to be safeguarded against adopting the violent ways and the defiant attitude of people around them. It was important that they not become overly engrossed in the everyday affairs of life. God had a work for them to do, and it was vital that they build their lives around it. We know that Noah’s family accepted his instruction and shared his faith because Noah, his wife, their three sons, and the sons’ wives—eight persons in all—are spoken of with approval in the Scriptures.—Genesis 6:18; 1 Peter 3:20.
12. As shown at 2 Peter 2:5, what responsibility did Noah faithfully fulfill?
12 Noah also had another responsibility—to warn of the coming Deluge and to make known why it was coming. It is evident that he faithfully discharged that responsibility, for he is referred to in God’s Word as “a preacher of righteousness.”—2 Peter 2:5.
13. What conditions confronted Noah as he cared for his God-given assignment?
13 Now just think of the circumstances under which Noah carried out that assignment. Put yourself in his position. If you had been Noah or a member of his family, you would have been surrounded by the violence that was perpetrated by the Nephilim and ungodly men. You would have been directly confronted by the influence of rebellious angels. As you worked on the ark, you would have been the object of ridicule. And year after year as you warned of the coming Deluge, you would have found that the people were so wrapped up in the daily affairs of life that “they took no note”—that is, “until the flood came and swept them all away.”—Matthew 24:39; Luke 17:26, 27.
What Does Noah’s Experience Mean for You?
14. Why do we today not find it difficult to understand the situation that confronted Noah and his family?
14 Such a situation is not at all hard for most of our readers to imagine. Why not? Because conditions in our day are very much like those that prevailed in the days of Noah. Jesus Christ said that this was to be expected. In his great prophecy about the time of his presence during the conclusion of the system of things, Jesus foretold: “Just as the days of Noah were, so the presence of the Son of man will be.”—Matthew 24:37.
15, 16. (a) How is it true that, as in Noah’s day, the earth today is filled with violence? (b) To what violence in particular have Jehovah’s servants been subjected?
15 Has it turned out that way? Is the world today filled with violence? Yes! Over a hundred million people have died in wars in this century. Some of our readers have directly felt the effect of this. Even more have been threatened by criminals intent on getting their money or other valuables. And young ones have been exposed to violence at school.
16 However, Jehovah’s servants experience more than the ravages of war and criminal violence in general. They are also subjected to violence because they are no part of the world but endeavor to be people of godly devotion. (2 Timothy 3:10-12) Sometimes that violence simply takes the form of pushing or slapping; at other times it involves destruction of property, vicious beatings, and even killings.—Matthew 24:9.
17. Is ungodliness rampant today? Explain.
17 While engaging in such violence, ungodly men have, at times, brazenly declared their contempt for God. In one area in Africa, the police declared: “The government is ours. You go to God, if there is one, and ask him to come and help you.” In prisons and concentration camps, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been confronted by men like Baranowsky, in Sachsenhausen, Germany, who taunted: “I have taken up a fight with Jehovah. We will see who is the stronger, I or Jehovah.” Shortly afterward, Baranowsky took ill and died; but others continue to manifest a similar attitude. Officials indulging in a crusade of persecution are not the only ones who display defiance of God. Around the world, servants of God hear and see things that give evidence that those who indulge in them have no fear of God in their hearts.
18. In what ways are wicked spirits contributing to the agitated state of humankind?
18 In these days that are so much like the time of Noah, we also witness interference by wicked spirits. (Revelation 12:7-9) These demons are the same angels that materialized as humans and married women in the days of Noah. When the Deluge came, their wives and children were destroyed, but those disobedient angels were forced back into the spirit realm. They no longer had a place in Jehovah’s holy organization but were consigned to Tartarus, a condition of dense darkness, cut off from divine illumination. (2 Peter 2:4, 5) Operating under Satan’s direction, they have continued to maintain close contact with humans and, although unable any longer to materialize, have endeavored to control men, women, and even children. Some of this is done through occult practices. They also stir up mankind to destroy one another in ways that defy human reason. But that is not all.
19. (a) Against whom in particular do the demons direct their hatred? (b) What are demons trying to force us to do?
19 The Bible reveals that the demons are waging war against those “who observe the commandments of God and have the work of bearing witness to Jesus.” (Revelation 12:12, 17) Those wicked spirits are the prime instigators of persecution of Jehovah’s servants. (Ephesians 6:10-13) They use every conceivable means to coerce or entice faithful humans to break integrity to Jehovah and to stop proclaiming Jehovah’s Kingdom with Jesus as the Messianic King.
20. How do the demons try to hinder people from breaking free from their control? (James 4:7)
20 The demons strive to hinder people who long for relief from their oppressive influence. A former spiritist in Brazil reports that when the Witnesses called at her home, demon voices ordered her not to open the door; but she did, and she learned the truth. In many areas the demons directly employ practicers of witchcraft to try to stop the work of Jehovah’s Witnesses. For example, in a village in Suriname, opposers of Jehovah’s Witnesses contacted a spiritist who was well-known for being able to cause the sudden death of people simply by pointing his magic stick at them. With his entourage of dancers and drummers, the spiritist, possessed by a demon, confronted Jehovah’s Witnesses. He uttered his magic formulas and pointed his stick at them. The villagers expected the Witnesses to drop dead, but it was the spiritist who fainted and had to be whisked away by his embarrassed supporters.
21. As in Noah’s day, how do the majority of people react to our preaching, and why?
21 Even in areas where witchcraft and sorcery are not as openly practiced, every Witness of Jehovah has experienced what it is like to try to preach to people who are so wrapped up in the everyday affairs of life that they do not want to be bothered. As it was in Noah’s day, the vast majority ‘take no note.’ (Matthew 24:37-39) Some may admire our unity and achievements. But our spiritual building work—involving hours of personal study, regular meeting attendance, and field service—is all foolishness to them. They ridicule our confidence in the promises of God’s Word because their lives are centered on the material possessions and sensual pleasures that they can have now.
22, 23. How do the events of Noah’s day give sound assurance that Jehovah will deliver people of godly devotion out of trial?
22 Will Jehovah’s loyal servants be forever subjected to abuse from those who have no love for God? By no means! What happened in Noah’s day? At God’s direction, Noah and his family moved into the completed ark. Then, at the divinely specified time, “all the springs of the vast watery deep were broken open and the floodgates of the heavens were opened.” The Deluge continued until even the mountains were covered. (Genesis 7:11, 17-20) The angels that had forsaken their proper dwelling place were forced to abandon their materialized human bodies and return to the spirit realm. The Nephilim and all the rest of that world of ungodly people, including those who were too indifferent to act on Noah’s warning, were destroyed. On the other hand, Noah and his wife and their three sons and the sons’ wives were saved. Thus, Jehovah delivered Noah and his household out of the trial that they had loyally endured for so many years.
“Anomia is disregard for, or defiance of, God’s laws; asebeia [noun form of the word rendered ‘ungodly people’] is the same attitude toward God’s Person.”—Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, Volume 4, page 170.
Prepare for Deliverance Into a New World
“Remember the wife of Lot.”—LUKE 17:32.
1. What historic example of divine deliverance does our lesson today highlight, and how can it benefit us?
AFTER telling about the marvelous deliverance that Jehovah performed in behalf of Noah and his family, the apostle Peter cited another historic example. He drew attention to the preservation of righteous Lot when Sodom and Gomorrah were reduced to ashes, as we read at 2 Peter 2:6-8. The details were preserved for our benefit. (Romans 15:4) Our taking to heart what occurred in connection with that deliverance can help to put us in line for preservation into God’s new world.
How We React to the World’s Way of Life
2. What conduct in Sodom and Gomorrah led to their destruction by God?
2 Why were those cities and their inhabitants destroyed? The apostle Peter mentions indulgence in “loose conduct.” (2 Peter 2:7) As indicated by the use of the Greek term from which that expression is translated, the people of Sodom and Gomorrah indulged in wrongdoing in a manner that displayed brazen disrespect, even contempt, for law and authority. Jude 7 says that they ‘committed fornication excessively and went out after flesh for unnatural use.’ The grossness of their conduct was manifest when the men of Sodom, “from boy to old man, all the people in one mob,” surrounded the house of Lot and demanded that he turn over his guests for the men of Sodom to gratify their perverted appetites. And they shouted denunciations at Lot because he resisted their depraved demands.—Genesis 13:13; 19:4, 5, 9.
3. (a) How did Lot and his family come to be living in such a corrupt environment as Sodom? (b) What was Lot’s reaction to the loose conduct of people in Sodom?
3 Lot had originally moved into the area near Sodom because of its potential for material prosperity. In time, he took up dwelling in the city itself. (Genesis 13:8-12; 14:12; 19:1) But he did not agree with the lewd practices of the men of the city, and those men did not view him as one of them, evidently because Lot and his family did not share in their social life. As 2 Peter 2:7, 8 says: “Lot . . . was greatly distressed by the indulgence of the law-defying people in loose conduct—for that righteous man by what he saw and heard while dwelling among them from day to day was tormenting his righteous soul by reason of their lawless deeds.” Those conditions constituted a severe trial for Lot because, as a righteous man, he abhorred such conduct.
4. (a) In what ways are conditions today like those in ancient Sodom? (b) If we are like righteous Lot, how do we react to present corrupt conditions?
4 In our day too, the moral level of human society has become degraded. In many lands, more and more engage in premarital or extramarital sex. Even many young people in school are deeply involved in this way of life, and they ridicule those who do not join them. Homosexuals outspokenly identify themselves and parade through the streets of large cities to demand recognition. The clergy have joined in the reveling. Officially, not many churches ordain known homosexuals and fornicators. Yet, in actuality, as news reports have repeatedly shown, it is not at all difficult to find homosexuals, fornicators, and adulterers in the ranks of the clergy. In fact, some religious leaders have been moved to other cities or have even been forced to resign over sex scandals. Lovers of righteousness are not in sympathy with such wickedness; they “abhor what is wicked.” (Romans 12:9) Especially are they grieved when the conduct of people who claim to serve God brings reproach on his name and causes uninformed people to turn away from all religion in disgust.—Romans 2:24.
5. What question does Jehovah’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah answer for us?
5 Year after year the situation grows worse. Will there be an end to it? Yes, there will! What Jehovah did to ancient Sodom and Gomorrah shows clearly that, at his appointed time, he will execute judgment. He will utterly destroy the wicked, but he will deliver his loyal servants.
Who or What Comes First in Life?
6. (a) What timely lesson is there in the account about the young men who were about to marry Lot’s daughters? (b) How did the attitude of their prospective mates test Lot’s daughters?
6 Only those who manifest true godly devotion will be spared. In this regard, consider what Jehovah’s angels said to Lot before Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed. “Do you have anyone else here? Son-in-law and your sons and your daughters and all who are yours in the city, bring out of the place! For we are bringing this place to ruin.” So Lot spoke to the young men who were to marry his daughters. He urged them repeatedly: “Get up! Get out of this place, because Jehovah is bringing the city to ruin!” Their relationship to the household of Lot afforded them a special opportunity for deliverance, but they personally had to take action. They had to give tangible evidence of obedience to Jehovah. Instead, in their eyes Lot “seemed like a man who was joking.” (Genesis 19:12-14) You can imagine how Lot’s daughters felt when they learned what had happened. It put their loyalty to God to the test.
7, 8. (a) When the angels urged Lot to take his family and flee, how did he react, and why was this unwise? (b) To be delivered, what was vital for Lot and his family?
7 The next morning at dawn, the angels became urgent with Lot. They said: “Get up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are found here, for fear you may be swept away in the error of the city!” But “he kept lingering.” (Genesis 19:15, 16) Why? What detained him? Was it material interests that he had there in Sodom—the very thing that had lured him into the area in the first place? If he clung to these, he would be destroyed with Sodom.
8 Out of compassion, the angels seized those in his family by the hand and hurried them out of the city. On the outskirts, Jehovah’s angel commanded: “Escape for your soul! Do not look behind you and do not stand still in all the District! Escape to the mountainous region for fear you may be swept away!” Lot still hesitated. Finally, after it was agreed that he could go to a location that was not so far, he and his family fled. (Genesis 19:17-22) There could be no further delay; obedience was vital.
9, 10. (a) Why was being with her husband not sufficient to ensure preservation for Lot’s wife? (b) When Lot’s wife was killed, what further test was brought upon Lot and his daughters?
9 However, the deliverance was not yet complete when they got away from Sodom. Genesis 19:23-25 tells us: “The sun had gone forth over the land when Lot arrived at Zoar. Then Jehovah made it rain sulphur and fire from Jehovah, from the heavens, upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah. So he went ahead overthrowing these cities, even the entire District and all the inhabitants of the cities and the plants of the ground.” But where was Lot’s wife?
10 She had fled with her husband. However, was she in full agreement with what he was doing? There is nothing to indicate that she in any way approved of the immorality of Sodom. But was her love for God stronger than her attachment to her home and the material things she had there? (Compare Luke 17:31, 32.) Under pressure, what was in her heart became manifest. Evidently they were already near Zoar, perhaps at the point of entering the city, when she disobediently turned and looked back. And as the Bible record says, “she became a pillar of salt.” (Genesis 19:26) Now a further test of loyalty faced Lot and his daughters. Was Lot’s attachment to his deceased wife or the girls’ feelings for their dead mother stronger than their love for Jehovah, who had brought about this calamity? Would they continue to obey God even though someone very close to them proved disloyal to him? With full trust in Jehovah, they did not look back.
11. What have we learned here about the deliverance that Jehovah provides?
11 Yes, Jehovah knows how to deliver people of godly devotion out of trial. He knows how to deliver entire families that are united in pure worship; he also knows how to deliver individuals. When they truly love him, he shows great consideration in dealing with them. “He himself well knows the formation of us, remembering that we are dust.” (Psalm 103:13, 14) But his deliverance is only for those who are people of godly devotion, those whose devotion is genuine, those whose obedience is an expression of loyalty.
Loving Preparations for a Greater Deliverance
12. What loving preparations was Jehovah going to make before bringing the deliverance that we so eagerly anticipate?
12 By what he caused in the days of Noah and of Lot, Jehovah did not remove all the wicked forever. As the scripture says, it simply set a pattern of things to come. Before those things were to arrive, Jehovah had in mind much more that he purposed to do to benefit people who love him. He was going to send his only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to earth. Here, Jesus would clear God’s name of reproach by demonstrating the kind of devotion that Adam as a perfect human should and could have rendered to God; but Jesus would do it under far more difficult circumstances. Jesus would lay down his perfect human life as a sacrifice so that offspring of Adam who exercised faith could have what Adam lost. Then, a “little flock” of loyal humans would be chosen by God to share with Christ in his heavenly Kingdom, and “a great crowd” would be gathered out of all nations to make up the foundation for a new human society. (Luke 12:32; Revelation 7:9) With that accomplished, God would perform the grand deliverance foreshadowed by events associated with the Deluge and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Why Decisive Action Is Urgent Now
13, 14. What can we learn from the fact that Peter used the destruction of ungodly people in the days of Lot and of Noah as examples?
13 Students of God’s Word know that Jehovah has on many occasions performed acts of deliverance for his servants. However, in most cases the Bible does not say, ‘As it was at that time, so the presence of the Son of man will be.’ Why did the apostle Peter, inspired by holy spirit, isolate just two examples? What was different about what occurred in the days of Lot and of Noah?
14 A definite indication is found at Jude 7, where we read that “Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities about them . . . are placed before us as a warning example by undergoing the judicial punishment of everlasting fire.” Yes, the destruction of the gross sinners in those cities was eternal, as will be the destruction of the wicked at the end of the present system of things. (Matthew 25:46) The Flood of Noah’s day is likewise referred to in contexts that discuss eternal judgments. (2 Peter 2:4, 5, 9-12; 3:5-7) So by the destruction of ungodly people in the days of Lot and of Noah, Jehovah demonstrated that he will deliver his servants by destroying forever those who practice unrighteousness.—2 Thessalonians 1:6-10.
15. (a) What urgent warning is given to those who engage in wicked practices? (b) Why will justice be executed on all who persist in unrighteousness?
15 The destruction of the wicked brings no pleasure to Jehovah, nor does it bring pleasure to his servants. By means of his Witnesses, Jehovah urges people: “Turn back, turn back from your bad ways, for why is it that you should die?” (Ezekiel 33:11) Nevertheless, when people show no desire to heed this loving appeal but persist in their own selfish way of life, Jehovah’s respect for his own holy name and his love for his loyal servants who suffer abuse at the hands of ungodly men require that he execute justice.
16. (a) Why can we be confident that the foretold deliverance is very near? (b) From what and into what will deliverance be?
16 God’s time to bring deliverance is very near! The attitudes and events that Jesus foretold as the sign of his presence and of the conclusion of the system of things are clearly in evidence. The features of that sign first began to appear over 75 years ago, and Jesus said that “this generation” would by no means pass away before God’s execution of judgment on this ungodly world occurred. When Jehovah determines that the Kingdom message has been proclaimed to a sufficient extent in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations, then the end of this wicked world will come, and with that will come deliverance for people of godly devotion. (Matthew 24:3-34; Luke 21:28-33) Deliverance from what? From the trials that they have had to undergo at the hands of the wicked, and from circumstances that have daily been a source of distress to them as lovers of righteousness. It will also be deliverance into a new world where sickness and death will be things of the past.
Divine Help With Deliverance in View
17. (a) What sobering question should we ask ourselves? (b) How can we give evidence that, like Noah, we are moved by “godly fear”?
17 The question that we individually need to consider is, ‘Am I ready for that act of God?’ If we are trusting in ourselves or our own concept of righteousness, we are not ready. But if, like Noah, we are moved by “godly fear,” then we are responding in faith to the direction that Jehovah gives us, and this will lead to our deliverance.—Hebrews 11:7.
18. Why is learning genuine respect for theocratic authority an important part of our preparation for deliverance into the new world?
18 Beautifully describing those who enjoy the protection that Jehovah gives even now, Psalm 91:1, 2 says: “Anyone dwelling in the secret place of the Most High will procure himself lodging under the very shadow of the Almighty One. I will say to Jehovah: ‘You are my refuge and my stronghold, my God, in whom I will trust.’” Here is a group of people who are safeguarded by God like young ones under the powerful wings of a parent bird. Their full trust is in Jehovah. They acknowledge that he is the Most High, the Almighty One. As a result, they respect theocratic authority and submit themselves to it, whether it is exercised by parents or by “the faithful and discreet slave.” (Matthew 24:45-47) Is that true of us individually? Like Noah, are we learning to do ‘all that Jehovah commands’ us and to do things his way? (Genesis 6:22) If so, we are responding to the preparation that Jehovah is giving us for deliverance into his righteous new world.
19. (a) What is our figurative heart, and why is it vital that we give it attention? (Proverbs 4:23) (b) How can we benefit from Lot’s example regarding our reaction to worldly enticements?
19 That preparation also involves giving attention to our figurative heart. “Jehovah is the examiner of hearts.” (Proverbs 17:3) He helps us to realize that it is not what we appear to be on the outside that counts but, rather, the inner person, the heart. While we do not indulge in violence or immorality like the world around us, we need to be on guard against being enticed or entertained by these things. Like Lot, we should feel distressed by the very existence of such lawless deeds. Those who hate what is bad will not be seeking ways to indulge in it; yet, people who do not hate it may physically refrain from it while mentally wishing that they could share. “O you lovers of Jehovah, hate what is bad.”—Psalm 97:10.
20. (a) In what ways does the Bible warn us against a materialistic way of life? (b) How can we tell whether the Bible’s vital lessons on materialism have taken hold in our heart?
20 Jehovah is lovingly educating us to shun not only immoral conduct but also a materialistic way of life. ‘Be content with sustenance and covering,’ his Word counsels. (1 Timothy 6:8) Noah and his sons had to leave their homes behind when they went into the ark. Lot and his family, too, had to abandon home and possessions in order to save their lives. Where have we fixed our affections? “Remember the wife of Lot.” (Luke 17:32) Jesus urged: “Keep on, then, seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness.” (Matthew 6:33) Are we doing that? If Jehovah’s righteous standards guide us and if the proclaiming of the good news of his Kingdom is the first concern in our lives, then we are, indeed, responding to his preparation of a people for deliverance into his new world.
21. Why can we rightly anticipate that Jehovah’s promise of deliverance will soon be fulfilled?
21 To people of godly devotion who would see fulfilled the sign of his presence in Kingdom power, Jesus said: “Raise yourselves erect and lift your heads up, because your deliverance is getting near.” (Luke 21:28) Have you seen that sign as it has developed in every detail? Then have confidence that fulfillment of Jehovah’s promise of deliverance is very near at hand! Be fully convinced that “Jehovah knows how to deliver people of godly devotion out of trial.”—2 Peter 2:9.