Watchtower 2003 December 15 pp.14-19 Our Watchfulness Takes On Greater Urgency
Our Watchfulness Takes On Greater Urgency
"Keep on the watch, therefore, because you do not know on what day your Lord is coming."—MATTHEW 24:42.
"ABOVE all other things, the twentieth century was shaped by war," says author Bill Emmott. While admitting that all periods of human history have felt the weight of wars and violence, he adds: "The twentieth century did not differ in kind, it differed in degree. It was the first century to feature a truly world-spanning conflict . . . And, as if to emphasize the point, it featured not just one such worldwide conflict, but two."
2 Wars that involve 'nation against nation and kingdom against kingdom' were foretold by Jesus Christ. However, they are just one aspect of 'the sign of Christ's presence and of the conclusion of the system of things.' In this great prophecy, Jesus also mentioned famines, pestilences, and earthquakes. (Matthew 24:3, 7, 8; Luke 21:6, 7, 10, 11) In many respects, such calamities have increased in scope and severity. The badness of man is abundant, as seen in his attitude toward God and fellowman. Moral breakdown and increase in crime and violence are evident. Men have become lovers of money rather than lovers of God, obsessed with pleasure. All this testifies that we are living in "critical times."—2 Timothy 3:1-5.
3 How do you view the worsening trend in human affairs? Many are indifferent, even callous, to distressing events of the day. The world's influential and intellectual men do not discern the meaning of "the signs of the times"; neither have religious leaders given proper guidance in this matter. (Matthew 16:1-3) But Jesus admonished his followers: "Keep on the watch, therefore, because you do not know on what day your Lord is coming." (Matthew 24:42) Jesus here encourages us not only to be watchful but to "keep on the watch." To keep on the watch, we must remain alert and vigilant. This requires more than simply acknowledging that we are living in the last days, more than recognizing that times are hard. We must have firm conviction that "the end of all things has drawn close." (1 Peter 4:7) Only then will our watchfulness take on a sense of urgency. Hence, the question that we must reflect on is: 'What will help us to strengthen our conviction that the end is near?'
4 Consider the conditions prevailing during the time preceding a one-of-a-kind event in human history—the great Deluge of Noah's day. People were so bad that Jehovah "felt hurt at his heart." He declared: "I am going to wipe men whom I have created off the surface of the ground." (Genesis 6:6, 7) And he did just that. Drawing a parallel between then and now, Jesus said: "Just as the days of Noah were, so the presence of the Son of man will be."—Matthew 24:37.
5 It is reasonable to assume that Jehovah feels about the present world as he felt about the pre-Flood world. Since he brought an end to the ungodly world of Noah's day, he will certainly destroy the wicked world of today. Having a clear understanding of the parallel between that time and our day should fortify our conviction that the end of the present world is near. What, then, are the similarities? There are at least five. The first is that a warning of coming destruction is given in no uncertain terms.
Warned of "Things Not Yet Beheld"
6 In Noah's day, Jehovah declared: "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." (Genesis 6:3) The issuance of this divine decree in 2490 B.C.E. marked the beginning of the end for that ungodly world. Just think what that meant for those then living! Only 120 years more and Jehovah would bring "the deluge of waters upon the earth to bring to ruin all flesh in which the force of life is active from under the heavens."—Genesis 6:17.
7 Noah received the warning of the upcoming catastrophe decades in advance, and he wisely used the time to prepare for survival. "After being given divine warning of things not yet beheld," says the apostle Paul, "[Noah] showed godly fear and constructed an ark for the saving of his household." (Hebrews 11:7) What about us? Some 90 years have passed since the last days of this system of things began in 1914. We are certainly in "the time of the end." (Daniel 12:4) How should we respond to warnings we have been given? "He that does the will of God remains forever," states the Bible. (1 John 2:17) Now is therefore the time to do Jehovah's will with a keen sense of urgency.
8 In modern times, sincere students of the Bible have learned from the inspired Scriptures that this system is doomed to destruction. Do we believe this? Notice what Jesus Christ clearly stated: "There will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world's beginning until now, no, nor will occur again." (Matthew 24:21) Jesus also said that he would come as God's appointed Judge and would separate people as a shepherd separates sheep from goats. Those found unworthy would "depart into everlasting cutting-off, but the righteous ones into everlasting life."—Matthew 25:31-33, 46.
9 Jehovah has kept these warnings in front of his people by means of timely reminders through the spiritual food provided by "the faithful and discreet slave." (Matthew 24:45-47) Moreover, every nation, tribe, tongue, and people are called upon to "fear God and give him glory, because the hour of the judgment by him has arrived." (Revelation 14:6, 7) An integral part of the Kingdom message preached earth wide by Jehovah's Witnesses is the warning that God's Kingdom will soon remove human rulership. (Daniel 2:44) This warning is not to be taken lightly. Almighty God always keeps his word. (Isaiah 55:10, 11) He did in Noah's day, and he will in our day.—2 Peter 3:3-7.
"Keep on the Watch"
21 Although the Flood seems remote from our day, it clearly provides a warning that we must not ignore. (Romans 15:4) The similarities between Noah's day and our day should make us increasingly aware of the significance of what is happening and alert us to the thieflike coming of Jesus to execute judgment upon the wicked.
22 Today, Jesus Christ is directing a tremendous spiritual building work. For the security and survival of true worshipers, an arklike spiritual paradise exists. (2 Corinthians 12:3, 4) To be preserved through the great tribulation, we must remain in that paradise. Surrounding the domain of the spiritual paradise is Satan's world, ready to assimilate any who have become spiritually drowsy. It is imperative that we "keep on the watch" and prove ourselves ready for Jehovah's day.—Matthew 24:42, 44.