“I'm offering you
the choice of life or death. You can choose either blessings or
curses. But I want you to choose life. Then you and your children
will live. And you will love the Lord your God. You will obey him.
You will remain true to him.
The Lord is your very life.” —
living in “critical times hard to deal with.” (2 Tim. 3:1-7) It’s bad
enough that we have to struggle in a godless world, but what makes
it especially difficult for God’s people today is that we are
experiencing these critical times hard to deal with also within
God’s own house. There is hardly a congregation that is exempt.
(1 Tim. 3:5, 15) We did not expect this, it has not always been this way, and it has caught many of us off guard,
especially the ones who have served Jehovah the longest, and the more
zealous! Many of the older ones speak of a “different atmosphere” in
their congregation today, from what they remember it used to be, in
“the good ol’ days.”
But these trying conditions, which
involve and affect everyone of us in one way or another, were
foretold in God’s Word the Bible for our encouragement, to “guard
you from stumbling.” (Jude 3-4, 24) Foolishly, we never
considered these numerous prophecies to be applying to us! When
Jehovah denounces the wicked "among my people," and
pronounces doom for "my valueless shepherd[s]," we have always been quick to
the churches of Christendom and its clergy,
while congratulating ourselves for not having "shared with her in
her sins." (2 Cor. 6:14-18; Rev.
18:4) Our leaders were
promising peace, and told us that we are dwelling in security, in a “spiritual paradise,” when the opposite
has been the reality for countless sufferers. (Jer. 6:13-15) And too many of our elders have not proved to be a “hiding place from the wind and a place of
concealment from the rainstorm.” In fact, often they are the very ones
responsible for scattering the sheep by dealing harshly with what is
"God's inheritance." What is the situation in your own
congregation? —Isa. 32:1,2; Jer. 5:26, 30-31;
23:1,2; 50:6; Ezek. 13:10, 16; 34:10; Zech. 10:3; 11:15-17; 1 Peter
Jesus foretold, regarding
the time of the end, that “because of the increasing of lawlessness
the love of the greater number will cool off. But he that has
endured to the end is the one that will be saved.” (Matt. 10:22;
24:13) He was
pointing to conditions that would become evident within God's
household. The righteous among them needed to endure hardship
and not be stumbled, until such time arrived for God to remove from
their midst the wicked. He promised: "That is how it will be in the
conclusion of the system of things: the angels will go out and
separate [from his kingdom] the wicked from among the righteous." —Matt. 13:41, 49,50; 24:12,13, 25; John
16:1; Gal. 5:14,15; James 4:1-3.
It is definitely a challenge under present conditions to suffer and yet keep our
spiritual balance. Sadly, many have given up and left, no longer believing that God has a people for his
name, because of the presence of so much pain and distress on
account of the foretold man of lawlessness. (Mal. 3:16-18; Acts 15:14) And as if that
were not bad enough, in some congregations brothers are actually
expelled simply for voicing their concerns, complaints, or doubts;
having lost faith in the body of governors that
has been controlling the organization throughout these many years. A
great number of disillusioned former Witnesses are now expressing
their anguish and frustration on the internet,
in particular on the various forums that have sprung up on account
of all this.
Perhaps you have wondered, even asked in prayer: If we are God's
people, why has Jehovah tolerated wicked persons and
valueless shepherds within his household at the expense of the
righteous? Habakkuk noted that "the wicked one is surrounding the
righteous one." (Ezek. 13:22; Amos 5:12,13; Hab. 1:2-4, 13) The prophet
Jeremiah too expressed the same concern. He experienced first hand the
very worst of all the wicked things that God's people were guilty
of, for Jehovah had chosen him to
expose their rebelliousness and deliver his message of the
calamity that was sure to come upon them. Although God had been
patient with his people, obedience to him now became an issue, a matter of life or death.
But neither Jeremiah nor his message were kindly received
by the majority, not even by his
For our own benefit, let us briefly consider
question and Jehovah's answer, as recorded at Jeremiah
according to the New Living Translation. We will see that not much has changed.
Jeremiah Questions Jehovah’s Justice:
1 Lord, you always give me justice when I bring a case before
you. So let me bring you this complaint:Why are the wicked so prosperous? Why are evil people so
One reason why the people refused to listen to Jehovah, by the message Jeremiah
proclaimed to them, was due to their prosperity. They were doing
well and were happy, as they told Jeremiah: “We will not listen to
your messages from the Lord! We will do whatever we want. We will
burn incense and pour out liquid offerings to the Queen of Heaven
just as much as we like—just as we, and our ancestors, and our kings
and officials have always done in the towns of Judah and in the
streets of Jerusalem. For in those days we had plenty to eat, and we
were well off and had no troubles!"
It is not at all uncommon for "ungodly men" to turn "the undeserved
kindness of our God (his patience and mercy) into an excuse for
loose conduct." (Jude 4; Rom. 2:4,5; 2 Peter 3:9) It is as the
scripture says: "When a crime is not punished quickly, people feel
it is safe to do wrong." (Eccl. 8:11, NLT) That was true in
Jeremiah's time and it is no different today! 2
You have planted them, and they have taken root and
Jeremiah is disturbed by the fact that these wicked ones are firmly
established among God's people, as if they had been planted by God
himself; for how else could they be carefree and prospering. But it
wasn't Jehovah who had put them there, as Jesus later illustrated in his parable
of the fine seed and the sower of the weeds. As he pointed out in
that parable, the wicked, or weeds, had been sown by the Devil, and
they were allowed to take root in among the righteous right within God's kingdom. God would tolerate the wicked until the
time of the harvest, which Jesus said would be "the conclusion of
the system of things,"
when the weeds could be clearly identified.
At that time they will be uprooted, for "the
angels will go out and separate the wicked from among the righteous
and will cast them into the fiery furnace."
—Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43,
Your name is on their lips, but you are far from their
Just by observing Jehovah's worshipers one cannot tell the righteous apart
from the wicked, unless it has become obvious to everyone.
Today within the congregations the wicked ones certainly give the appearance
of worshiping Jehovah. They sing praises to God's name and are busy
teaching God's requirements to
Yet, their worship becomes unacceptable to God, and thus in vain, when they
seek to establish their own
righteousness by substituting God's word with their own traditions. Jesus denounced
the seeming religious people of his day for being guilty of that very thing: "You have made the word of
God invalid because of your tradition. You hypocrites, Isaiah aptly
prophesied about you, when he said, ‘This people honors me with
their lips, yet their heart is far removed from me. It is in vain
that they keep worshiping me, because they teach commands of men as
—Matthew 15:8,9; Rom. 10:2,3.
We do not want our worship to be in vain! But that would be the case
if we were to put our trust in "nobles, [or] in the son of earthling man, to
whom no salvation belongs," by following man-made traditions and
doctrines, especially when these conflict with God's own Word. Jehovah has
warned us against doing that. "It is
Jehovah [our] God [we] must worship, and it is to him alone [we]
must render sacred service." (Psalms 146:3; Luke 4:6-8) Does it
really matter to God whether or not we worship him with a complete
heart, or we just go through the motion, following rituals decreed
by men? whether we are merely religious, or genuine spiritual
persons? Well, this is how Jehovah expresses his view, as recorded at Psalm 50:16-22,
according to the New Living Translation:
16 But God says to the wicked: “Why bother reciting my decrees and pretending to
obey my covenant? 17 For you refuse my discipline and treat my words like trash. 18 When you see thieves, you approve of them, and you spend your time with
adulterers. 19 Your mouth is filled with wickedness, and your tongue is full of lies. 20 You sit around and slander your brother—your own mother’s son. 21 While you did all this, I remained silent, and you thought I didn’t care. But
now I will rebuke you,
listing all my charges against you. 22 Repent, all of you who forget me, or I will tear you apart, and no one will
3 But as for me, Lord, you know my heart. You see me and test my
thoughts. Jehovah is very much interested in everyone "whose heart is complete toward
him," and he blesses them. (2 Chron. 16:9) He "makes proof of our hearts." (1 Thess. 2:4)
Why does he do that? He
gets us to exhibit what we are truly like deep down inside, "the
secret person of the heart" that we often don't realize we are; in order to bring to our attention
wrong desires and attitudes where we need
to make adjustments. It's like standing us in front of a mirror and
telling us to
take a good look at ourselves. If
we see any blemishes, or things out of place, we should then make
the necessary corrections.
—James 1:22-26; 1 Peter 3:4.
How does Jehovah make prove of our hearts? One way is by exposing us
to certain situations and circumstances, and then how we
respond reveals much about what sort of person we really are. For example, by
tolerating the wicked ones to prosper right
alongside the righteous within God's house, it becomes evident
whether we share God's view on matters: will we imitate the ways of the
wicked, seeing their peace and prosperity, perhaps reasoning that
it does not matter to God what we do; or do we "abhor what is wicked,
and cling to what is good," even "sighing and groaning" over the terrible things being done
in God's name? Or do we become complainers?
—Ps. 73:1-13; Ezek. 9:4; Rom. 12:9; Jude 16.
Also, we get to demonstrate our faith in Jehovah in a positive way
(rather than just professing to have faith), because, although he
allows the wicked to prosper for a time, we firmly believe that he
will carry out his promises of removing them and blessing the
righteous. (Psalms 37:9-11; James 2:14-20) Jeremiah had such faith, for he
continued to prophesy among the rebellious people for more than 40
years, under much opposition and distress to himself. Drag these people away like sheep to be butchered! Set them
aside to be slaughtered! Jeremiah was upset! He became impatient because of his suffering. He even
spoke of giving up! Why was Jehovah so patient? He wanted God to act, in harmony with the
message he was preaching. He was in constant danger of those who
opposed his prophesying, although the message was not his but
God's. He longed for the time when the wicked would be no more.
He yearned for peace. (Jer. 11:21-23; 20:7-12)
Most of us probably feel the same today. For our encouragement we
have Jeremiah as an example to consider, and we can be sure that all
that Jehovah has prophesied will come true, just as in Jeremiah's
time. Soon the wicked will be removed, and the righteous who trusted
in Jehovah will be blessed.
4 How long must this land mourn? Even the grass in the fields
has withered. The wild animals and birds have disappeared because of
the evil in the land. Are you yearning for relief from present problems? Jeremiah did! It would make it easier for
us if we knew just how much longer we must endure. But the only
thing Jehovah is willing to reveal to us is his
determination to do what he has promised: "I am keeping awake
concerning my word in order to carry it out." (Jer. 1:12) The
condition within God's house has become so bad that many of God's sheep are
starving spiritually, for "the grass in the fields has withered."
addressing the plight of starvation, although there ought to be
plenty of green grass for his sheep, Jehovah puts the
blame squarely on the shepherds, accusing them: "Is it not enough
for you to eat grass in the good land? Must you crush the rest of
the grass with your feet? Is it not enough for you to drink clear
water? Must you make the rest of the water muddy with your feet?
Must my flock eat what you crush, and must they drink what you make
muddy with your feet?" —Ezekiel 34:18,19; NCV.
In what way do the shepherds "eat grass in the good land" while
stomping down "the rest of the grass with their feet," leaving
only withered grass (because of having been crushed) for
the sheep to feed on? By teaching (feeding) that all the good things
contained in the Scriptures (the green grass), such as a personal relationship with God
as his sons; the new covenant; Christ's mediatorship; reconciliation
with God; being declared righteous for life; etc.,applies solely to the anointed shepherds, even going so far as to teach that the Bible was written solely for
them. God's hungry sheep are offered only the withered grass when
they are taught that the Bible applies to them only by extension
and in connection with their association with the lofty shepherds;
such as when they are told that "the
'other sheep' cherish their privilege of being associated with the
'temple' class." (w06
11/1 pp. 23-24 Do You Share Jehovah’s View of Sacred Things?)Because
of the spiritual famine the flock has been devastated, so that even
"the wild animals and birds" have disappeared.
—see Exodus 23:11; Ezek. 34:10-16; Amos 8:11; John 6:35. For the people have said, “The Lord doesn’t see what’s ahead
for us!” The wicked within God's house are at peace. Because of their prosperity and
success they have no dread of God's
coming judgment. They actually prefer things to continue the way they are. The
Psalmist asked: "Why, O Jehovah, do you keep standing afar off? Why
do you keep yourself hid in times of distress? In his haughtiness
the wicked one hotly pursues the afflicted one; They get caught by
the ideas that they have thought up. For the wicked has praised
himself over the selfish longing of his soul, And the one making
undue profit has blessed himself. . . He has said in his heart: 'God
has forgotten. He has concealed his face. He will certainly never
see [it].' Do arise, O Jehovah. O God, lift up your hand. Do not
forget the afflicted ones. Why is it that the wicked one has
disrespected God? He has said in his heart: 'You will not require an
—Psalms 10:1-3, 11-13; compare Mal. 3:14,15.
Who are the ones in our midst that are at ease while
disrespecting God? It is all those who put their faith in the man of lawlessness,
and have turned their backs to the truth. "So that is why God lets
an operation of error go to them, that they may get to believing the
lie, in order that they all may be judged because they did not
believe the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness." (2 Thess.
2:11,12) By having come to believe "the inspired expression of
error," as taught to them by the man of lawlessness, they show that
they do not really concern themselves with what is truth and from
God. (1 John 4:1, 6) They feel no dread of any coming judgment upon them. But Jehovah is now
revealing such ones for what they really are. The prophet Zephaniah
foretold that God would inspect his people, just prior to the coming
of "the great day of Jehovah." He said: “I will search with lanterns
in Jerusalem’s darkest corners to punish those who sit complacent in
their sins. They think the Lord will do nothing to them, either good
or bad." —Zephaniah 1:12; NLT.
Do you see such attitude in your own congregation? Do many feel that
as long as they attend the meetings; report a number of hours spent
in the preaching work every month; perhaps conduct Bible studies;
and of course, never ever doubt anything that they are taught in
their publications; that they have nothing to fear, no matter what
they are according to "the secret person of the heart"? Do
they care at all whether or not their teaching and traditions conflict with
God's Word of truth? —Hebrews 4:13; John 17:17; Romans 3:4.
Jeremiah was blessed for faithfully enduring the persecution and
suffering that he received at the hands of the people on account of his
message, and his life was spared. All those who had opposed him came to regret
having said that "the Lord doesn't see what's ahead for us."
Although it had been clearly declared to them, they refused to
believe it, until Jehovah finally brought the foretold calamity upon
them. (Jer. 39:11,12, 15-18) Clearly, obedience had
become the decisive issue for every individual.
Jehovah answers Jeremiah:
5 “If racing against mere men makes you tired, how will you race
against horses? Jeremiah expressed his dejection for the lack of response he was getting
from the people, and the opposition he encountered. But Jehovah
pointed out to him the need not to tire out or slow down. (Gal. 6:9) If he
became disheartened by the resistance and hostility he met from the
common people, such as his neighbors, how would he fare when
he confronted the kings, the princes, the priests, in fact all the
powerful and influential people of the land, including the king's
mighty men, who were sure to fight against him. Jehovah had assured him that "they will
not prevail against you, for 'I am with you,' is the utterance of
Jehovah, 'to deliver you.'" (Jer. 1:18,19; 26:21) Jeremiah
needed to examine his attitude, to continue with his assignment and
not tire out.
If you stumble and fall on open ground, what will you do in
the thickets near the Jordan? Again, Jehovah emphasized to Jeremiah the importance of not allowing himself
to get easily discouraged and stumble,
when the situation was not yet as bad as it was going to get.
The opposition to his preaching was going to intensify. If he was
going to stumble when things were still relatively easy, how could
he endure when the situation was going to become almost unbearable?
—Jer. 37:13-16; 38:4,6.
Perhaps we too need to adjust our attitude. It is true that we are living in
critical times hard to deal with, and yet, things are still
manageable for most of us. Many are still able to attend meetings,
although having to guard what they say because of not wanting to be accused of
apostasy. Many are still able to associate with their brothers and
sisters, even receiving encouragement from some. Also, it is still
possible to share the Good News with interested ones, directing them
to God's kingdom. When we really think about it, our situation could be
much worse. And it will most likely get much worse in the days
to come! If we are easily discouraged now, prone to stumble and fall "on open ground,"
so-to-speak, what will we do when conditions will become so
restrictive, and so oppressive, that our very lives will seem to
hang in the balance? 6 Even your brothers, members of your own family, have turned
against you. They plot and raise complaints against you. Do not
trust them, no matter how pleasantly they speak. We all need encouragement! Can we expect to receive such from our own family
members and close relatives at this time? Perhaps! Many among God's
servants today, who have been "sighing and groaning" over present
developments, and have come to understand the scriptural reasons
behind them, have in their enthusiasm shared the things learned with
others, including members of their family, especially their wives; thinking that they
too would be equally enthused. But Jehovah has a word of caution: Be
careful! Don't trust even your closest companion, for they are
likely to turn against you. "Do not put your trust in a confidential
friend. From her who is lying in your bosom guard the opening of
your mouth." —Mic. 7:5,6.
If others in your congregation, including your own family members,
perceive you to speak against the Governing Body, whom they accept
as being appointed by Christ over all his belongings; and you seem
to question the validity of their authority or any of their
teachings, Watch Out! Although they may speak "pleasantly" to you
for the moment, "do not trust them" for they will "plot and raise
complaints against you" to the elders, and hand you over to be
expelled. And they will do all this in the
mistaken belief that they have "rendered a sacred service to God.
But they will do these things because they have not come to know
either [Jehovah] or [Jesus]." (John 16:1-4) I know of such cases
personally. Thus Jesus' warning: "Therefore prove yourselves cautious as serpents and yet
innocent as doves." —Psalms
50:20, 21; Jer. 9:4-6; Matt. 10:16, 35,36; Luke 12:51-53.
Jehovah does not compel us to bring this sort of persecution upon
ourselves. He has not appointed us to be "a metal tester" among his
people, as he did Jeremiah. Jehovah himself examines the way of his
people, and he is the one doing the exposing, or revealing, in
whatever way he chooses. (Jer. 6:27) The prophet Amos speaks of the
time when the wicked among God's people would show "hostility toward
someone righteous," and therefore he advises that "the very one
having insight will in that time keep silent, for it will be a
calamitous time." (Amos 5:13) It is the time for us to demonstrate
our complete reliance and trust in Jehovah. For that reason Jeremiah encourages us: "Good is Jehovah to the one
hoping in him, to the soul that keeps seeking for him. Good it is
that one should wait, even silently, for the salvation of Jehovah."
(Lam. 3:25,26) Waiting, even silently, for the salvation of Jehovah
entails endurance. And endurance involves obedience.
If you find yourself expelled from your congregation on the bogus charge of
apostasy, because of your loyalty to Jehovah, as has already been the case
with many of our brothers and sisters, do not despair. Jehovah has
promised that he will not leave his loyal ones.
(Psalms 18:25; 37:28) He will support you and strengthen you,
helping you to endure as long as you continue to be obedient to him. "But listen to what God has to say to
you who reverently respond to his Word: 'Your own families hate you
and turn you out because of me. They taunt you, 'Let us see God's
glory! If God's so great, why aren't you happy?' But they're the
ones who are going to end up shamed." (Isa. 66:5, The Message)
You can be sure that "none that rests his faith on [God] will be
disappointed." —Romans 10:11.
Sadly, many have become impatient with Jehovah and have removed
themselves from his congregation. They have observed the ease of the
wicked within God's house, while they themselves have suffered, and
have concluded that God does not have a household; contrary to the
many scriptures proving otherwise. Some now ridicule others who are
likewise suffering but are continuing to wait patiently on Jehovah.
Jehovah is making apparent the distinction between someone righteous and one who is
wicked, "at the day when [he is] producing a special property." It
is just as he foretold: "And you people will again certainly see
[the distinction] between a righteous one and a wicked one, between
one serving God and one who has not served him." (Mal. 3:17,18; Dan.
12:3, 10; Matt. 13:43) We are serving God by remaining steadfast in
his temple, listening to him and
obeying him. —Revelation 7:15-17.
"Obedience is Far Better Than Sacrifice"
"What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and
sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Obedience is far better
than sacrifice. Listening to him is much better than offering the
fat of rams. Rebellion is as bad as the sin of witchcraft, and
stubbornness is as bad as worshiping idols."
—1 Samuel 15:22,23; NLT
Although we are living in critical times hard to deal
with, it is not impossible to remain steadfast and loyal under
present conditions. Our heavenly Father has made it as easy as possible
for us to help us endure, keeping matters simple and
uncomplicated. He is not unreasonable in anything that he asks of
us: "The LORD God has told us what is right and what he demands:
'See that justice is done, let mercy be your first concern, and
humbly obey your God.'" —Micah 6:8, CEV.
To "humbly obey your God," and be "obedient from the heart," is not
complicated. We are all capable of that! (Rom. 6:17) It does not
require special insight or unusual mightiness.
although we like to know what the future holds we do not need to know or understand all the details of prophecies
that are yet to be fulfilled, and that we can do nothing about at
this time. Paying undue attention to often strange and diverse
private interpretations might get us sidetracked from the
simple truth, and we might end up arguing “about words, a thing of no
usefulness at all” in helping us
endure. (2 Tim. 2:14,15; 2 Peter 1:20,21) We do not want to deviate from the real
issue, which is and always has been obedience to God.
Jehovah tells us that obeying him is not at all complicated, and neither
does it require special knowledge that we might need to search for in a
far and distant land:
“You know God's laws, and it isn't impossible to obey them. 12 His
commands aren't in heaven, so you can't excuse yourselves by saying,
"How can we obey the LORD's commands? They are in heaven, and no one
can go up to get them, then bring them down and explain them to us."
you can't say, "How can we obey the LORD's commands? They are across
the sea, and someone must go across, then bring them back and
explain them to us." 14 No, these commands are nearby and you know them by heart.
All you have to do is obey!”
—Deut. 30:11-14, Contemporary
As Moses explains in the words above, to know what God
requires of us and to obey him isn't impossible; but it involves the
Jehovah has plainly recorded his requirements for us in his inspired Word, the Bible, and don't we all
have our own copy! Therefore they are “nearby” and we already “know
them by heart.” Have you read your Bible from cover to cover? Are God's words in your heart,
firmly implanted? (Josh. 1:8; Psalms 1:1,2) We don’t need anyone to explain these basic
essentials, as if
they are deep or hidden.
(Luke 10:21; 1 Cor. 2:10; Heb. 5:12)
What we do need is the
desire to obey, even when it means to suffer unjustly, as was true in Jesus' own case. No one else can do that for us! Obedience is something we
can learn. —1 Cor. 10:5; Gal. 5:7; Heb. 5:8,9.
Obedience has been the primary issue since Adam’s time. (Rom.
5:19) Yet, there are those who like to point out that what matters most
to God is that we love him, which Jesus said was the greatest
commandment. And they are quick to include that God
knows they love him. (Matt. 22:35-38) But what does it mean to love
God? The apostle John gives this simple answer: “For this is what the love of God means, that we observe
his commandments; and yet his commandments are not burdensome,
because everything that has been born from God conquers the world.
And this is the conquest that has conquered the world, our faith.”
(1 John 5:3,4)
If we love God, then we obey him. That is basic! Every parent
understands that! Note too that John connects not only love, but also faith, with obedience; for it takes faith to obey, especially
when we don't understand certain requirements, or we fail to see eye to eye with God on some issues.
To help us keep our focus on the primary issue of obedience, please consider
the example of the Jews in the First Century, and then ask yourself:
was it love for God, or obedience, that became the deciding
between life and death?
Paul did not question the love for God of his fellow Jews. He acknowledged that they had "a zeal
for God." (Rom. 10:1-3) In the spring of 70 C.E.
the Jews flocked into Jerusalem for their annual religious festival.
(John 5:1; 7:2, 8-11) Many of the people travelled a great distance by
foot, cart, donkey, or camel (no bicycles, cars, planes, trains or buses in those days; Gen. 22:3;
24:61-64; Ex. 4:20; John 12:14,15). Most likely entire families and neighbors journeyed together, no doubt looking
forward to the excitement of associating with fellow
worshipers, and meeting with friends and relatives they hadn’t seen in a
year (much like us when we attend conventions). Can you picture
the crowd? the rich and
poor; young and old; infants, children, boys and girls, young
men and women, neighbors, parents, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, cousins,
and old folks who perhaps viewed this as their last journey. Would you agree that probably most of them were
the sort of people you might have enjoyed associating with, good
people, sincere worshipers, lovers of God, attending his festivals,
and offering their sacrifices?
But then the unexpected happened! After having arrived in
Jerusalem, and waking up in the morning, they discovered the Roman army had
stealthily surrounded the
city by night, with no way for any of them to sneak out and escape. They
were trapped! Perhaps at first they were not too worried as a
similar event had occurred about three years earlier when the Romans
had come, surrounded the city and attacked, even as far as
undermining their holy temple, but then suddenly withdrew in
disgrace. Wasn't it their God who had driven the Roman army away on
that occasion?! Would he not do so again!? We can well
how the priests were assuring the huge crowd of worshippers that they
had nothing to fear, for God was on their side. Individually and in
unison they all must have been offering their prayers to him, to
deliver them also
this time. But this time the Romans did not leave! And God did not
listen to their prayers and come to their aid! They were now
painfully reminded of the truthfulness of the words: "The LORD never
even hears the prayers of the wicked, but he answers the prayers of
all who obey him."
—Proverbs 15:29; CEV.
sort of persons all these trapped individuals had been up until now
did not matter. Whether or not
they had a love for God; or were zealous for his worship; or whatever they may have believed
or argued over; whatever good neighbor they had been, and acts of
charity they had performed; had now become irrelevant! Why? Because the only
thing that mattered was obedience. And now it was too late! (Luke
21:20) If they had
heeded the warnings spoken by Jesus, and
proclaimed to them by his disciples over the years, they
would not have been in Jerusalem! Their holy city was now utterly
destroyed, and the vast majority of those in her perished. History
tells us that at least 1,100,000 Jews lost their lives. Less than
one in ten survived, just to be put to death later or taken into
exile and slavery. Among them were the rich and poor; the priests;
the influential; the young and old; infants;
children; boys and girls; young men and women; parents; aunts and
uncles; nieces, nephews and cousins; and the old folks. Jehovah did
not come to their aid, nor did his eye feel sorry. —compare Ezekiel
9:5-10; 1 Sam. 15:2,3.
Also consider this: What if a disciple of Christ happened to be
found in the city on that particular day? Perhaps on business! What
if it was a zealous evangelizer, such as Philip, or even one of the
twelve apostles? Would God have intervened on their behalf and lead
them to safety? Would he have made an exception in their case, not
requiring obedience from them? Are any of us above the need to obey?
Why did God allow so many sincere and zealous people to perish, including young
innocent children? Jesus
had foretold the destruction, did he not? And he had given them ample
warning signs. The
people should have taken the warnings to heart and acted on them.
Their blood was upon their own heads. (Matt. 24:1-22; Ezek. 33:2-5)
Parents were responsible for their children, not God. We should
learn from this example! It is not about who we think we are,
perhaps displaying a zeal for God, or claiming to love him. It is
not about how much knowledge we possess. No! it is all about our
obedience! Those who obeyed the warning were not caught within the
city or the district of Judea. They had fled to the mountains and
safety. Obedience to God has never been optional!
In this "time of the end" we are not told to flee anywhere, contrary to what some are preaching. Our
obedience to God means that we exercise faith in him and his
promises, that we remain steadfast in our loyalty to him,
and that we endure our present tribulation. (Dan. 12:1, 4, 9; Matt. 10:22; 24:9,10)
Jehovah is not insensitive to our suffering but has promised relief:
"This takes into
account that it is righteous on God’s part to repay tribulation to
those who make tribulation for you, but, to you who suffer
tribulation, relief along with us at the revelation of the Lord
Jesus from heaven with his powerful angels in a flaming fire, as he
brings vengeance upon those who do not know God and those who do not
obey the good news about our Lord Jesus. These very ones will
undergo the judicial punishment of everlasting destruction from
before the Lord and from the glory of his strength, at the time he
comes to be glorified in connection with his holy ones and to be
regarded in that day with wonder in connection with all those who
exercised faith, because the witness we gave met with faith among
Nothing could be
simpler to understand than for us to be obedient by holding on to our
faith, and patiently wait on Jehovah to go about his business, doing just
as he has told us he will do. Our suffering won't last forever. Peter writes: “My dear friends, you have been
warned ahead of time! So don't let the errors of evil people lead
you down the wrong path and make you lose your balance. Let the
wonderful kindness and the understanding that come from our Lord and
Savior Jesus Christ help you to keep on growing.” (2 Peter 3:17,18, CEV)
Keep on growing! Don't stumble by losing your spiritual balance! Don't separate
yourself from God's household! In the end your enduring obedience will have been worth all
the suffering it included.
Obedience includes Patience
"Brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the Lord's name as an
example of suffering and patience. See, we count as blessed those
who have endured. You have heard of Job's endurance and have seen
the outcome from the Lord: the Lord is very compassionate and
—James 5:10,11; HCSB
Jehovah, our loving heavenly Father, is well aware of any
tribulation we are experiencing at this time. Throughout the ages,
his loyal worshipers have always been the subject of oppression and
persecution. This should not surprise us when we realize that the
persecution comes from Satan, who was also the source of Job's
(Matt. 5:11,12; Rev. 12:12, 17)
Jehovah wants us to endure, and he tells us that he himself
is distressed at seeing our affliction. (Isa. 63:9; Zech. 2:8)
Since endurance is tied in with obedience, Jehovah is not making it
unnecessarily difficult for us by saddling us with a heavy load, as
the religious leaders had done in Jesus' day. God is
not hard to please! Jesus said that the
"yoke is kindly and [the] load is light." (Matt. 11:28-30; 23:4) If
anyone today is chafing under what they feel is a heavy load, they should
realize that this is not from Jehovah, and that there is no special merit
in carrying a greater burden than that what God himself requires of
—1 John 5:3.
Paul ties our need for endurance in with our
faith: “For you have need of endurance, in order that,
after you have done the will of God, you may receive the
[fulfillment of the] promise. For yet ‘a very little while,’ and ‘he
who is coming will arrive and will not delay.’ ‘But my righteous one
will live by reason of faith,’ and, ‘if he shrinks back, my soul has
no pleasure in him.’ Now we are not the sort that shrink back to
destruction, but the sort that have faith to the preserving alive of
the soul.” (Heb. 10:36-39; James 1:2-4; 5:10,11) In times of trouble
strong faith helps us to lean on Jehovah, which enables us to be
patient and endure. We cannot do this in our own strength.
When the world
demands that we conform to its ways, and requires our obedience on
matters that go contrary to God's commands, we are not confused as
to what we should do. We’d rather put up with persecution
and suffering than to compromise. (Acts 4:19; 5:29) Our unshakeable faith in
Jehovah and all his promises enables us to conquer the world just as
Jesus did. (John 16:33; 1 John 5:4) But what do we do when the persecution comes
from within, from among God’s own people; yes, from the very ones we
have been taught to be submissive to as our teachers, and who demand
our absolute obedience? (Matt. 7:15;
Acts 20:29,30; 2 Cor. 11:12-15) We should not be surprised that this
would actually become the reality within the congregations.
The disciple Jude wrote his entire letter because of his great
concern for the brothers, on account, as he says, "certain men have
slipped in who have long ago been appointed by the Scriptures to
this judgment, ungodly men, turning the undeserved kindness of our
God into an excuse for loose conduct and proving false to our only
Owner and Lord, Jesus Christ."
These are not just any men, but "shepherds that feed themselves
without fear; waterless clouds carried this way and that by winds;
trees in late autumn, but fruitless, having died twice, having been
uprooted; wild waves of the sea that foam up their own causes for
shame; stars with no set course, for which the blackness of darkness
stands reserved forever. . . These are the ones that make
separations, animalistic men, not having spirituality."
—Jude 12,13, 19; compare
Could this be possible? Jude was not talking about a situation in
the world in general, but about wicked shepherds who
managed to slip in among God's own people.
Paul also forewarned the very same thing, saying that
"after I leave, wild wolves will come in among you. They won't spare
any of the sheep. Even men from your own people will rise up and
twist the truth. They want to get the believers to follow them."
(Acts 20:29,30; NIRV) Both Jude and Paul draw attention to a
serious problem within God's house: these "shepherds,"
like "wild wolves," will be a danger to the disciples by proving false to our "only Owner and Lord, Jesus Christ."
They will "speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after
themselves." (New World Translation) Of course, when this
happens, and we become followers of men, then we no longer belong to
Jehovah; and our worship becomes unacceptable to him. (Jer. 17:5;
Matt. 15:9) We must be on guard
against anyone who even remotely appears to want to
replace Jesus as our only Owner, and the only one by whom "we must get saved."
(Acts 4:12) No genuine worshiper of Jehovah would promote
himself in such way, and thus fall into the snare of the Devil.
shepherds that feed themselves
having spirituality they have
nothing to offer the sheep in the way of spiritual encouragement or food. They
are feeders only of themselves! (Ezek. 34:2) Because the sheep lack spiritual
food they cannot grow into spiritually mature men, to "have their
perceptive powers trained to distinguish both right an wrong." That
is why the sheep are easily influenced to submit to these wolves.
waterless clouds carried this way and that by winds; These shepherds are "waterless clouds carried this way and that by
winds," in that their instructions hold no moisture to refresh the
teachings may change at any time as if influenced by the wind. When this happens they like to refer to it as "new truth,"
or "new light." How different from the ones who are taught by Jehovah: "My
instruction will drip as the rain, My saying will trickle as the
dew, As gentle rains upon grass And as copious showers upon
trees in late autumn, but fruitless, having died twice,
having been uprooted;
If these shepherds are who they claim they are then there ought to
be fruit, in view of the season. But there is none!
They are fruitless when it comes to having God's spirit. That is not at all
surprising! Because of not having spirituality, the "works of the
flesh" is as evident among them as it is in Christendom. This
would reveal itself by the presence of the same problems as found in
the world in general. Have you
noticed that in your own congregation also? What, for example, is
the divorce rate in your congregation? "The flesh," Paul says,
"is against the spirit. . . and the spirit is against the flesh, for
these are opposed to each other." When the works of the flesh
abounds in our congregations, God's spirit will be missing. Even
visitors to our meetings will quickly notice this.
Jesus told his disciples: "I am the true grapevine, and my Father is
the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce
fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will
produce even more. . . Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches.
Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For
apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in
me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such
branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. When you produce
much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my
Father." (John 15:1-8, NLT; Matt. 15:13) The wicked shepherds
are cut off from the true grapevine for not having remained in it
and produced fruit
that glorifies God.
Please also note the obvious, that those who are thus cut off are
part of the vine until their removal. The good branches, Christ's
"true disciples," do not remove themselves on account of the ones
that will be removed by God, do they? Does the presence of fruitless
branches prove that there is no grapevine?
wild waves of the sea that foam up
their own causes for shame;
These wicked shepherds cannot sit still unless they get to
act on their desires. They are
as agitated as the wild waves of the sea: “But the wicked are like
the sea that is being tossed, when it is unable to calm down, the
waters of which keep tossing up seaweed and mire. There is no
peace,” my God has said, “for the wicked ones.” (Isa. 57:20,21) Get
on the wrong side of one of these and see how agitated he will
become, and the trouble he will scheme up for you.
Peter wrote: "They consider luxurious living in the daytime a
pleasure. They are spots and blemishes, indulging with unrestrained
delight in their deceptive teachings while feasting together
with you. They have eyes full of adultery and unable to desist from
sin, and they entice unsteady souls. They have a heart trained in
covetousness. They are accursed children. . . they utter swelling
expressions of no profit, and by the desires of the flesh and by
loose habits they entice those who are just escaping from people who
conduct themselves in error. While they are promising them
freedom, they themselves are existing as slaves of corruption.
For whoever is overcome by another is enslaved by this one." (2
Peter 2:12-19) Their wickedness cannot be hidden. Eventually it will
become plain to everyone.
stars with no set course, for which the
blackness of darkness stands reserved forever;
Although these shepherds strongly assert that they are
guided by God's word, they have in actuality made it invalid because
of their traditions. (Matt. 15:6) They like to compare themselves to
Moses, who led God's people Israel through the wilderness on their way to
the promised land. They also emphasize that at that time God
required his people to obey Moses, and therefore we must obey them
in the same way. In fact, they tell us that obeying them is the same
as obeying Jehovah, and rebelling against them is rebellion against
God. But Moses himself was submissive and obedient to someone
higher whom Jehovah had appointed:
“Here I am sending an angel ahead of you to keep you on the road and to bring
you into the place that I have prepared. Watch yourself because of
him and obey his voice. Do not behave rebelliously against
him, for he will not pardon your transgression; because my name is
within him. However, if you strictly obey his voice and really do
all that I shall speak, then I shall certainly be hostile to
your enemies and harass those who harass you. For my angel will go
ahead of you and will indeed bring you to the Amorites and the
Hittites and the Perizzites and the Canaanites, the Hivites and the
Jebusites, and I shall certainly efface them." —Exodus 23:20-23.
The one who was walking ahead of God's people at that time was God's
appointed angel, whom even Moses obeyed. How is Jehovah leading
his people today? Paul says that God "has at the end of these days
spoken to us by means of a Son, whom he appointed heir of all
things." It is his son who leads us. He is the head of the
congregation of God's people. "Moses was certainly faithful in God’s
house as a servant. His work was an illustration of the truths God
would reveal later. But Christ, as the Son, is in charge of God’s
entire house. And we are God’s house, if we keep our courage and
remain confident in our hope in Christ." —Eph. 5:23;
Heb. 3:5,6, NLT.
Jude writes that the worthless shepherds within "God's house" today
are like "stars with no set
course for which the blackness of darkness stands reserved forever."
We cannot chart our course in life by looking to them for guidance.
Those who have done so in the past have been disappointed, some even
experiencing shipwreck of their faith. (Consider the ones who
trusted their promise, years ago, that the generation born in 1914
would not grow old in this system before the end would come; and
therefore did not plan for their old age and retirement. Not a few
of those who looked to them for guidance now find themselves
destitute, having to work at menial jobs in their old age.
These are the ones that make
separations, animalistic men, not having spirituality.
When we make distinctions, and have divisions among us, are we not "simply
men," fleshly? (1 Cor. 1:10; 3:4; Gal. 5:20) Jude says that these
separations." They have class distinction, where they view themselves as far
above God's lowly and humble sheep. Yes, according to their
imagination, they are the elite, the anointed nobility and upper
class, who, as such are the only ones worthy to be party to the new
covenant; the only ones who are truly God's sons; the only ones who
can claim Jesus as their mediator; and also, the only ones worthy to
celebrate the Lord's Evening Meal, as Jesus directed his disciples
to do, although
urging others to attend and watch.
—1 Cor. 11:23-26; James 2:1, 4,5, 9.
And somehow, for the most part, the sheep don't seem to mind that
these men, like animals who have no conscience, "push away the lowly
ones. . . and the afflicted ones of my people." (Isa. 101-3)
The sheep seem satisfied with the way things are. In fact, many of
them actually "love it that way." They have come to accept
that "other masters besides [Jehovah] have acted as owners of
[them]," although still professing to worship God. (Jer. 5:31; Isa.
26:13) They are not required to do much thinking of their own. Their mental powers are
dulled. They don't really seem to
care whether or not what they are being taught is in harmony with
what Jehovah tells us. If they are told it is, then that is good enough
for them. How is this any different from how it was in Jesus' day?
—2 Cor. 3:14-17.
these things strike you as too extreme? Are you
upset by all this? Do these
present disturbing developments prove that God does not have a household? To
the contrary! It should cause all of us to "raise [ourselves] erect
and lift [our] heads up, because [our] deliverance is getting near."
(Luke 21:28) It means that we should expect this when it
happens, and be prepared mentally and emotionally. Can we avoid any
suffering by making our exit and go somewhere else, as many have
already done? The Scriptures repeatedly tell us to be patient, trust
in Jehovah, and endure under suffering. (1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:9,10)
In fact, obedience to God includes our patiently enduring any
suffering. When we experience present problems within the congregations we have
the opportunity to prove to Jehovah that we are obedient, even under
the most trying conditions, and that our faith is genuine and we do
not imitate the wicked in our midst.
What Does it Mean to be Patient?
"The end of a matter is better than its beginning.
So it's better to be patient than proud." —Ecclesiastes 7:8, NIRV
was a person whom Jehovah loved very much, because of
his unswerving confidence in God's righteousness and total faith in his promises. He never
wavered under pressure! Even after Jehovah had anointed him to succeed Saul as
king, and Saul was pursuing him to put him to death, David never
considered rebelling against God by taking matters into his own
hands. He patiently waited on Jehovah. —1
Sam. 24:6,7; 26:8-11. It would be
presumptuous on our part to go ahead of Jehovah, becoming impatient with
his patience, and go off on our own! In what way would that be
presumptuous? Please consider: It was Jehovah who
anointed the covering cherub and put him in the Garden of Eden, who
subsequently made himself Satan the Devil. (Ezek. 28:13-17) It was
Jehovah who personally chose and anointed Saul to be the first king
over Israel. (1 Sam. 15:17) It was also Jehovah who tore ten
tribes away from Solomon's son Rehoboam, and handed them over to
Jeroboam, whom he anointed as king for them. —1 Kings 11:30,31.
Jehovah anoints an individual for a position of honor,
responsibility and oversight, placing him above others for the
purpose of guiding and blessing his people; and then that person
becomes self-important and oppressive, as was the case with the
aforementioned individuals (and is also true of wicked shepherds
today), is not Jehovah to a degree responsible for subjecting his
people to the resulting suffering caused by his appointment of such
individuals? (Acts 20:28; Rom. 8:20-22) It would be highly arrogant
on our part to go ahead of Jehovah by wanting to fix or rectify what
he himself has put in place, or seek our own solution, when he has
already told us that he will do so in his own way and at his own due
time; and without breaking his own righteous standards. For that
reason Jehovah values everyone who continues to show faith in him
and his promises, and patiently waits on him to act; even though
they may be suffering at present because of what he originally put
in place. In this way we also show that we do not blame God for what
people are doing, even when it's done in his name.
Not everyone has faith like David had.
have removed themselves from God's household
and now scoff at the idea of trusting in Jehovah and waiting on him.
And they ridicule those who do. Do not let them make you feel embarrassed on account
of your steadfast faith in God. (2 Thess. 3:2,3; Heb. 11:1; 2 Peter
3:3,4) The only thing that should really matter to us is Jehovah’s view
of things, and his estimation of his loyal ones; for the “Scripture
reassures us, ‘No one who trusts God like this—heart and soul—will
ever regret it.’"
—Romans 10:11; The Message Bible.
There are important lessons that we can learn from the letters that Jesus wrote to
Congregations in Asia Minor. (Rev. 2:1-3:22)
Five of them were reprimanded, and put on
notice to repent and to make vital changes in their attitude and
action. Failing to do so would result in them losing out on any
reward! Jesus addressed serious faults which
included false teachings (the sect of Nicolaus); tolerated
immorality (that woman Jezebel); left the love they had at first and
lost their enthusiasm
(Ephesus, Sardis); etc., yet this did not indicate that he did not
acknowledge the congregations as belonging to God, or that he was
not their head. (Rev. 1:10-20) If they were to prove unrepentant, rather
than telling the faithful ones to leave, he was going to do
the opposite, remove the wicked from among the righteous. The
righteous would stay put, within his congregation. They belonged there!
—Matt. 13:40-43, 49.
Although Jesus severely criticized the Sardis congregation, yet, he
also took note that there were “a few names in Sardis that did not
defile their outer garments.” He did not tell these few faithful
individuals that they
should pack up and leave that congregation, removing themselves from its
members and meet on their own. They were "rendering
sacred service to God" among fellow worshipers who Jesus
considered spiritually "dead," within the
same congregation. What can we learn from that? Jesus assures every
loyal one, who endures within a corrupt and "dead" congregation,
that he will be “arrayed in white outer garments” and he will “by no
means blot out his name from the book of life, but I will make
acknowledgment of his name before my Father and before his angels.”
Suppose those who Jesus reprimanded in the Sardis congregation
refused to listen to him and repent, not seeing any need to change.
Would that have spelled the end of the Sardis congregation? Or would
it have continued to exist, although greatly reduced in numbers?
Just as surely as Jesus took note of the few "worthy" ones in
Sardis, so also he is able to identify the righteous ones in our
The Scriptures inform us
that before God judges the world of mankind in general he will first
of all judge his
own people, his house. He will clearly identify
righteous ones and the ungodly ones. (Isa.
4:17,18) How do you
suppose he will go about doing that? How will he separate the wicked from among the
righteous? Jesus explains:
"The harvest is a conclusion of a system of things, and the reapers
are angels. Therefore, just as the weeds are collected and burned
with fire, so it will be in the conclusion of the system of things.
The Son of man will send forth his angels, and they will collect out
from his kingdom all things that cause stumbling and persons who are
doing lawlessness, and they will pitch them into the fiery furnace.
There is where [their] weeping and the gnashing of [their] teeth
will be." (Matt. 13:39-42;
Ezek. 13:9; 20:38)
Aren't we glad that the judging is not up to us!
What about the righteous who endured their suffering and patiently
waited on Jehovah? Jesus continues: "At that time the righteous ones
will shine as brightly as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
Let him that has ears listen." (Matt. 13:43; Dan. 12:3, 10) The
fact of the matter couldn't be simpler: The ones who don't belong in
God's kingdom will be gone, while Jehovah's loyal worshipers "will
be left over in it." (Prov. 2:20-22) Partway through his ministry
Jesus demonstrated how such a separation of the righteous and the
unrighteous might easily happen. Remember that
some of those who had followed Jesus were stumbled and "would no
longer walk with him," on account of something that he
said. Jesus was not overly concerned by that development, for it
sifted out the ones who didn't belong.
Can we expect something similar in our time, a situation that
will clearly reveal the difference between someone wicked and one
who God pronounces as
righteous? We certainly can!
basis for our judgment is "obedience to the truth." God's Word is
the truth should never stumble anyone. (John 17:17; Rom.
3:4; 1 Peter 1:22) The apostle Paul tells us that any of God's
have become followers of "the man of lawlessness," due to his
within God's temple, and are taken in by
his "unrighteous deception," will perish “as a retribution because they did not accept the
love of the truth that they might be saved.” (2 Thess. 2:3,4, 9-12)
Our love and obedience to God's truth will determine our permanent
position within God's kingdom.
strong assertions to the contrary, the wicked and lawless ones
within the congregations are prospering today, as long as they
remain submissive to the governing body; while those loyal to
Jehovah and who are disturbed by conditions they are witnessing, are
dealt with harshly. There are elders who have been removed from
their positions simply for opposing and speaking up because of the
appointment of someone who clearly did not have scriptural
qualifications, and thus could not possibly be appointed by holy
spirit. They are viewed as trouble makers. (Acts 20:28) If we become
followers of men we will become deaf to what God has to tell us.
Many ignore God unless he were to address them by name.
Jehovah expose the ones who are not obedient to his word of truth?
Look around you! It is
in progress right now, even in your own congregation, and affects
all of us personally! The distinction between a righteous one
and a wicked, or lawless one, is becoming ever more apparent.
Obedience and submission to Jehovah and his Son, Christ Jesus, has
become an issue that involves us all, whether we are aware of it or
not! How we respond to present conditions really determines what
sort of persons we are, and affects our relationship with God.
example, how do you feel about God's Word of truth? Do you accept its
authority above the teachings of the Society's publications when these
differ? (Rom. 3:4) What if a brother or sister in your congregation
is accused of apostasy simply for disagreeing with a particular
point as taught by the "organization," in this way also being viewed
as questioning the authority of the governing body as "the faithful and discreet slave?"
Will you support the decision of the elders to disfellowship such
one? If you are an elder, will you share in
investigating such ones as apostates, and "cast your vote against
them?" (Acts 26:9-11) Many have already been unjustly expelled from
their congregation because they conscientiously obeyed God's command: "Do not put
your trust in nobles, nor in the son of earthling man, to whom no
salvation belongs." (Psalms 146:3) If we condemn as wicked the
ones who steadfastly "obey God as ruler rather than men," and who
trust God's Word of truth ahead of what any men teach or command,
would we not "perhaps be found fighters actually against God," and
find ourselves aligning with the foretold man of lawlessness?
5:20,21, 23; Acts 5:29; 2 Thess. 2:4.
Jesus gave his disciples a "new commandment, that you love one
another; just as I have loved you." Being obedient to this command
Christ's genuine disciples from those who merely have "a form of
godly devotion but proving false to its power."
applies especially in our marriage. (John 13:34,35; 2 Tim. 3:5; 1
Peter 3:1, 7) Clearly, what sort of person
we are, right now, under whatever circumstance, matters greatly, for
we do not know when the time arrives for us to have to render an
account for ourselves. Jesus admonishes us: "You also, keep ready,
because at an hour that you do not think likely the Son of man is
coming." (Luke 12:40) Without being consciously aware of it, all of
us are being examined now as to whether we are righteous or wicked,
sheep or goats; whether we find ourselves on Christ's right or left
side when he
divides the sheep from the goats upon his return; something which
have been determined prior to his arrival. Therefore the warning to
keep on the watch!
—Matt. 25:31-46; Luke 12:39,40;
19:44; 2 Peter 3:11.
Present developments give evidence that the
righteous who are "sighing and groaning over all the detestable
things that are being done in the midst of [us]," is well under way in
all the congregations
around the world. (Ezek. 9:4) We should expect the distinction
between a righteous one and a wicked one to become even more obvious
in the days to come! But don't let
the present prosperity of the wicked ones discourage you, for all these
things must take place in order for the
many scriptures to be fulfilled. You have Jehovah's promise that
he will not leave his loyal ones. (Psalms
3:10; 26:54) The presence of lawless ones among us should not cause
confusion, neither when the time comes for their removal.
Keep in mind this basic truth: No matter how bad Jehovah may
still allow things to get,
Jesus is still the head of the congregation; and the coming removal of the man of
lawlessness, that is, the secular Society with its governing body, will not
result in chaos or confusion. There will be no void to fill! Jesus
will still be in charge and control of God's household, except
then without any rivalry from
the evil slave. Also to be kept in mind is the fact that there are
slaves of his who will then be declared “faithful and discreet” for having
cared for the sheep to his satisfaction, and to the extent that it
was possible for them under the circumstances. (2 Thess. 1:10; 1 Peter 5:2-4) They will then
be clearly identified and blessed; enabled to properly care for
their responsibility of feeding the remaining members of God’s
household. (Matt. 24:45-47; 25:14-30; Luke 12:42-44) This will
include teaching the truth from God’s Word without the worry
of being expelled as apostates, as they once were in danger of under
the tyranny of the man of lawlessness. O how green the grass will
Then, at that time, many of God’s lost and scattered sheep will
respond and return; many among them having faded away from God's
house over the years, while others had been disfellowshiped
unjustly. Jehovah has prepared for their return and welcomes them
back. (Luke 15:17-24; Ezek. 34:11-14) However, not everyone will be
enthusiastic about these developments. There will still be those who
continue to cling to the now defunct man of lawlessness, viewing
their continued loyalty and obedience to his teachings as their test of loyalty to God, as they had been
taught under him. Their view of these former lost or expelled sheep,
who now return, has not
changed. They don't want to associate with such ones. (Matt.
9:10,11) They still consider anything that is contrary to what the
Society had taught as apostasy. The teachings they now hear, which
are entirely based on God's Word and so different from much of what
they still strongly believe in, is too much for them. It hurts their ears;
and so they respond as did many of Jesus' disciples: “This speech is
shocking; who can listen to it?” (John 6:60) Lacking spirituality they are not able to understand the
"unadulterated" truth from God's Word, over which they now stumble.
In this way such ones will be removed from God's kingdom. They
themselves may have a large part in deciding that.
Jehovah is still calling people to salvation by means of our
preaching the Good News! In order for us to have God’s approval we
must "obey the good news" ourselves, and not allow
anyone to persuade us away from it. (Rom. 10:15,16; 2 Thess. 1:8) It
is vital that we have God’s spirit in order to
receive the things of the spirit, and focus on what God really
requires of us. In fact, unless we have God’s holy spirit we will
not understand anything at all in regards to the truth, or anything
in connection with present
developments among his people. (1 Cor. 2:10-14) His holy spirit also
gives us the power to make any necessary adjustments in our lives
that we find we need to make.
to God is not optional!
true even when
it may prove inconvenient and goes against the sort of person we
still are in the flesh.
certainly do not contribute to the situation that is resulting in
present "critical times hard to deal with." We strive hard not to be
the sort of person Paul speaks of in his second letter to Timothy,
chapter three. Rather, we work at putting on the "new personality
which was created according to God's will in true righteousness and
Obedience should never be dependent on
what we like or don't like! When we are being mistreated we do not
retaliate or "get even." We follow the example that Jesus set for
us, because we know that that is what God requires of us and has his
is pleased with you when you do what you know is right and patiently
endure unfair treatment.
course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for
doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it
patiently, God is pleased with you.
God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as
Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in
never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone.
did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he
suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges
—1 Peter 2:19-23, NLT.
By doing these things, which are not too difficult to understand or
impossible to act upon, we are obedient to God, our Creator; and
we “keep ourselves in God’s love” with "everlasting life in view." —Jude 21.
"Fear the true God and keep his commandments.
For this is the whole obligation of man."