Prophecies We Need to
. . . and those we don’t.
“And do not forget the things I have done throughout history. For I am God--I alone! I am God, and there is no one else like me. Only I can tell you what is going to happen even before it happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish." ―Isaiah 46:9-10 (New Living Translation)
To know what the future holds can be of great
value. We listen to the weather forecast and often plan our activities
accordingly. Many lives are saved when people act on advance warnings that are
broadcast concerning a coming storm. But despite today's modern technology,
which allows for the earth to be observed from space, not all weather
predictions come true. Often unforeseen variable factors enter the picture that
renders the seemingly best forecasts inaccurate.
Jehovah God distinguishes himself from other so-called gods by his ability to accurately foretell future events, in spite of, what may appear to us, unforeseeable factors. He has the power to influence and shape events, to overcome variables, in order to carry out all his intentions. He has made known his future activities by having them recorded in his word, the Bible. (2 Peter 1:21)
There are really two types of prophecies that Jehovah has given and they serve two different purposes. Let us consider these and see how we are affected by them today.
Prophecies We Need to Act Upon
The first requires us to take action, usually in order to escape the calamity of divine judgment. These prophecies are directed at us. They are like the weather warning of an approaching storm. They are therefore clearly stated. There is no ambiguity about understanding them. They are given for the listeners to take decisive action and make necessary changes to either avoid the foretold execution of God's judgment, or to survive it. These warnings are usually accompanied with specific instructions as to what God requires of the people. When his nation Israel forsook Jehovah and took up the worship of idols, Jehovah sent his prophets to them with clear messages. The Bible tells us:
[Zedekiah] continued to do what was bad in the eyes of Jehovah his God. He did not humble himself on account of Jeremiah the prophet at the order of Jehovah. Even all the chiefs of the priests and the people themselves committed unfaithfulness on a large scale, according to all the detestable things of the nations, so that they defiled the house of Jehovah which he had sanctified in Jerusalem.
And Jehovah the God of their forefathers kept sending against them by means of his messengers, sending again and again, because he felt compassion for his people and for his dwelling. But they were continually making jest at the messengers of the [true] God and despising his words and mocking at his prophets, until the rage of Jehovah came up against his people, until there was no healing. ―2 Chronicles 36:11-12, 14-16
Zedekiah and the people understood the message. That was not the problem. The problem was that they rejected it and refused to act upon it. They made fun of God's prophets and despised his words. God's foretold judgment was sure to come upon them. And it did when the Babylonians came and killed the inhabitants indiscriminately, destroyed their city including the temple, their place of worship, and took any survivors into captivity far from their homeland, exactly as the prophets had forewarned. (2 Chronicles 36:17-21)
Let us consider another example of how Jehovah sent his prophet with a clearly stated message and see how the people understood the prophecy and acted upon it, with different results:
And the word of Jehovah began to occur to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying: "Get up, go to Nineveh the great city, and proclaim against her that their badness has come up before me.”
"Finally Jonah started to enter into the city the walking distance of one day, and he kept proclaiming and saying: 'Only forty days more, and Nineveh will be overthrown.' 5 And the men of Nineveh began to put faith in God, and they proceeded to proclaim a fast and to put on sackcloth, from the greatest one of them even to the least one of them. 6 When the word reached the king of Nineveh, then he rose up from his throne and put off his official garment from himself and covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the ashes. 7 Furthermore, he had the cry made, and he had it said in Nineveh, by the decree of the king and his great ones, saying:
“'No man and no domestic animal, no herd and no flock, should taste anything at all. None should take food. Even water they should not drink. 8 And let them cover themselves with sackcloth, man and domestic animal; and let them call out to God with strength and come back, each one from his bad way and from the violence that was in their hands. 9 Who is there knowing whether the [true] God may turn back and actually feel regret and turn back from his burning anger, so that we may not perish?'10 And the [true] God got to see their works, that they had turned back from their bad way; and so the [true] God felt regret over the calamity that he had spoken of causing to them; and he did not cause [it]. ― Jonah 1:1-2; 3:4-10
The message that Jonah preached to the inhabitants of Nineveh was clear. Everyone could understand it. There was nothing for someone else, such as another prophet or any of their wise men, to have to interpret. It plainly stated what God had purposed to do because of their wickedness, along with the necessary action required to escape it. The people humbled themselves, even the king, and Jehovah spared them.
Jesus' warning regarding the destruction of Jerusalem, and the required action to be taken in order to survive, was also clearly stated:
“Furthermore, when YOU see Jerusalem surrounded by encamped armies, then know that the desolating of her has drawn near. Then let those in Judea begin fleeing to the mountains, and let those in the midst of her withdraw, and let those in the country places not enter into her; because these are days for meting out justice, that all the things written may be fulfilled." ― Luke 21:20-22
The sign was clear and so were the instructions. Jesus told those hoping to survive the desolation of the city to flee to the mountains, and not under any circumstances to return and enter Jerusalem. History tells us that those who failed to heed the clear warning paid the consequence. Over a million unbelieving Jews perished.
Whenever action has been required on the part of the people to escape divine judgment the prophecies have always been clearly stated and understood. There was no ambiguity. There was no need for Jehovah to raise up someone to interpret them. The only necessity was to obey. So too, for us today. We are clearly warned:
"And I heard another voice out of heaven say: “Get out of her, my people, if YOU do not want to share with her in her sins, and if YOU do not want to receive part of her plagues. 5 For her sins have massed together clear up to heaven, and God has called her acts of injustice to mind." ―Revelation 18:4-5
To escape the fate that awaits Babylon the Great God is clearly telling his people to get out of her. Of course, in order to "get out of her" we need to be able to identify what she is and God has made that possible by the description of her. (see Box) How can a person, who wants to worship God, get out of her? Is getting out of her enough? Jehovah gives us specific instructions:
Do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers. For what fellowship do righteousness and lawlessness have? Or what sharing does light have with darkness? 15 Further, what harmony is there between Christ and Be´li·al? Or what portion does a faithful person have with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement does God’s temple have with idols? For we are a temple of a living God; just as God said: "I shall reside among them and walk among [them], and I shall be their God, and they will be my people." 17 "‘Therefore get out from among them, and separate yourselves,’ says Jehovah, ‘and quit touching the unclean thing’"; "‘and I will take YOU in.’" 18 "‘And I shall be a father to YOU, and YOU will be sons and daughters to me,’ says Jehovah the Almighty." ― 2 Corinthians 6:14-18
Jehovah is plainly telling his people, should any still be found within Babylon the Great, to get out of her, to quit touching the unclean things, because those who belong to Christ can have no sharing with Belial, another name for Satan (2 Corinthians 6:15). Only then could they be his sons and daughters and He their father. Only then would they be his children and become members of his household. (1 Timothy 3:15) But Jehovah has also clearly foretold that, before he executes judgment against Babylon the Great, he will first of all clean his own household. (1 Peter 4:17-18) That has not yet happened. Many are the prophecies telling of our sins and errors. But to our own harm we apply them all to Christendom, not because Jehovah's warnings are ambiguous but rather because we refuse to acknowledge our own errors. When Jehovah addresses "his people" do we not get the point that he is talking to us? Or are we not his people? Could it be any clearer? (Hosea 4:6-9; Amos 4:12). Has it not become a matter of despising God's words and mocking those who bring it to our attention when we say that those condemnatory prophecies don't apply to us? (see Jeremiah 5:12, 26-31)
Prophecies We Can Do Nothing About
There is a second type of prophecy which does not require us to take any action. There is nothing that we can do to influence the outcome. The purpose of which is mainly to prove that Jehovah is the true God, that there is none like him, and that he can do whatever he wants in order to carry out his purpose.
"Remember the first things of a long time ago, that I am the Divine One and there is no other God, nor anyone like me; the One telling from the beginning the finale, and from long ago the things that have not been done; the One saying, ‘My own counsel will stand, and everything that is my delight I shall do.’ ― Isaiah 46:9-10
These prophecies magnify Jehovah as the only true God and build faith in him. They give hope to those looking to him for salvation. Since no action is necessary on our part in this case, he has not clearly made known the understanding of such prophecies in advance but rather kept the interpretation secret until the time when the prophecies undergo fulfillment.
The first such prophecy was given back in the garden of Eden, in response to the rebellion that had just occurred. In Genesis 3:15 God said,
"And I shall put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He will bruise you in the head and you will bruise him in the heel."
Although Jehovah would add further information to this prophecy as time went by, he kept the explanation of it a secret until the time of its fulfillment or even after. He said much in few symbolic words. A detail he later added was that the seed would come through Abraham. There was much speculation throughout the centuries about the identify of this seed and what it would mean for mankind. The promise of the seed was so well known that practically every nation had its own version and interpretation of it. Jesus, of course, turned out to be that seed. (Genesis 22:18; Galatians 3:16) Yet, his own people, the Jews, did not recognize him and accept him, and those who did did not comprehend the part of the prophecy that he would be bruised in the heel, meaning that he would have to die and be resurrected. That part was not understood until after it was fulfilled. (John 1:11; Matthew 16:21-23; Luke 24:25-27)
Much of this "sacred secret" concerning the seed, the Christ, came to be understood in the time of the apostles, especially at the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, just as Jesus had promised. (John 14:26; Colossians 1:26,27) The sacred secret in connection with the Christ also has to do with the kingdom of the heavens that he was preaching. Jehovah used his prophet Daniel to write about this kingdom. He tells us how the kingdom would be established, who would be rulers in that kingdom, how the world powers leading up to that time would exert an influence over God's people, and how at God's due time this kingdom would replace all other kingdoms on earth. (Daniel 2:44; 7:13-14, 18, 21-22, 27)
Since there is nothing that God's servants, or anyone else, can do to influence the outcome of God's foretold purpose in connection with his kingdom he did not need to provide detailed information, beyond what we need to understand in order to preach it. We know that it constitutes "good news" as it means deliverance from the tyranny of man's rule. (Matthew 24:14) Although the prophet Daniel received much detailed information concerning the time leading up to the establishing of God's kingdom Jehovah couched his prophecies in signs and symbols. Why? Because he saw good to keep the information to himself until such time as his servants needed it. That is why Daniel writes:
"Now as for me, I heard, but I could not understand; so that I said: “O my lord, what will be the final part of these things?” And he went on to say: “Go, Daniel, because the words are made secret and sealed up until the time of [the] end." ― Daniel 12:8-9
If the words that Daniel was told to write down "are made secret and sealed up until the time of the end," can we expect anyone to correctly understand them before Jehovah's appointed time? Jesus' disciples were eager to get to know about these things, having been familiar with Daniel's prophecies, and yet Jesus told them:
"It is not for you to become acquainted with and know what time brings [the things and events of time and their definite periods] or fixed years and seasons (their critical niche in time), which the Father has appointed (fixed and reserved) by His own choice and authority and personal power." ― Acts 1:7, Amplified Bible
Clearly, there are things concerning God's prophecies that we will not understand before God's due time. It is not for us to become acquainted with them ahead of that time. Or, as the New World Translation puts it, "It does not belong to YOU to get knowledge of the times or seasons which the Father has placed in his own jurisdiction."
Just as Jesus' disciples were eager to get knowledge of these things so too countless others throughout the centuries since then, have tried to decipher the secret and sealed words of God. Often they professed to have been granted special insight by God to do so. Many succeeded in gathering large followings after themselves, but eventually time exposed them as frauds. It is in connection with prophecy that we are most vulnerable to fall victim to deceivers. That is why Jesus warned us against false prophets, for he said:
"False messiahs and false prophets will come and work great miracles and signs. They will even try to fool God's chosen ones. But I have warned you ahead of time." ― Matthew 24:24-25 CEV
The apostle Peter adds further words of warning:
"But there were also lying prophets among the people then, just as there will be lying religious teachers among you. They'll smuggle in destructive divisions, pitting you against each other--biting the hand of the One who gave them a chance to have their lives back! They've put themselves on a fast downhill slide to destruction, but not before they recruit a crowd of mixed-up followers who can't tell right from wrong.
"They give the way of truth a bad name. They're only out for themselves. They'll say anything, anything, that sounds good to exploit you. They won't, of course, get by with it. They'll come to a bad end, for God has never just stood by and let that kind of thing go on. ― 2 Peter 2:1-3, The Message
Interesting way the Message Bible words it. Yes, there will be lying prophets, lying religious leaders among us. It takes time to expose a false prophet, for it takes time to prove that their false predictions were just their imagination, as they failed to materialize. Many feel that it is a good thing to try to unravel the secrets of the future as written in God's word. Their need to know shows great spirituality. But for every hundred who interpret the hidden things of God's word there are a hundred differing interpretations. Jehovah has "made secret and sealed up" his words for a reason. As Jesus said, "it does not belong to us" to understand the things God "has placed in his own jurisdiction." Why has Jehovah seen fit to do it this way? Besides deciding to keep some things to himself, as was the case with the identity of the seed, it could also serve as a test for us. (see Deuteronomy 13:1-3)
Will we put faith in those who present themselves as having special insight into God's word, claiming to understand details that God has hidden from everyone else? Will it blind us to the things God actually does tell us? Are we to be dependant on any one person to understand God's word? Has Jehovah chosen anyone special to whom he would reveal matters that he would keep secret from his other servants? There have always been some who presumed to speak in Jehovah's name, causing his people to wander because their message was not from him. (note Jeremiah 23:30-32; 27:14)
The book of Revelation particularly attracts much attention among calculating interpreters. It contains much in the way of symbolisms that many feel can be unlocked if only one digs deep enough into it.
"A revelation by Jesus Christ, which God gave him, to show his slaves the things that must shortly take place. And he sent forth his angel and presented [it] in signs through him to his slave John. . .
Happy is he who reads aloud and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and who observe the things written in it; for the appointed time is near." ―Revelation 1:1, 3
Since it says that those who read aloud and hear and observe the things written in this prophecy are happy, are we to conclude that we must understand it? No, for the revelation consists of the two types of prophecies I have been considering. To observe the things written in it refers primarily to Jesus' letters to the seven congregations. In them he mentions some serious problems which needed addressing if his disciples were to receive the crown of life. (Revelation chapters 2 and 3) When you read those letters you will see that they are not written in signs but rather straight forward language that his followers could understand. They had to be able to understand them for their everlasting reward depended on acting on them. This is like the first type of prophecy mentioned above. But for the most part the book of Revelation is about what God is going to do in the future. There is nothing we can do to influence that outcome. And there is nothing written in it that we need to understand in order to act that has not already been recorded elsewhere in the Bible. For example, we do not need to understand the identity of the beast with the number 666 in order to avoid receiving its mark. (Revelation 13:17-18) James already clearly explained that the "the form of worship that is clean and undefiled from the standpoint of our God and Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their tribulation, and to keep oneself without spot from the world." ―James 1:27; John 15:18-19
The book of Revelation is designed to give us hope. In it Jehovah brings all his promises together, as an assurance that his word is faithful and reliable, and he will do exactly as he has foretold. But the details of how he will go about carrying out his word he has seen fit to keep secret, until the time of their being fulfilled. As has already been mentioned earlier, the command to get out of Babylon the Great is clear enough. The description of her helps us to identify her. Therefore, it is disturbing to see so many different explanations of what Babylon the Great, the mother of the harlots, is thought to be. Since we are commanded to get out of her in order to avoid sharing in her fate, failing to recognize and apply what God says about her identity could cost us our life, for how can we obey if we are confused about her identity? Listening to false interpretations can prove disastrous.
Jehovah's prophets have always desired to understand the things they were inspired to write about, making "a careful search" and "investigating what particular season or what sort of season" God was indicating to them. Yet, all that Jehovah would reveal to these prophets was that their prophecies did not involve them, prophecies that even the angels desire to peer into. (1 Peter 1:10-12 NWT) When the time comes for God to act on his "secret and sealed up" prophecies, and we come face to face with their fulfillment, then we will all be able to understand. All of us. Even the angels have to wait until then, and then there will be no need for Jehovah to raise up any individual prophet to explain and interpret what is happening. The apostle Paul looked forward to a future time when we would understand all things:
"For now we are looking in a mirror that gives only a dim (blurred) reflection [of reality as in a riddle or enigma], but then [when perfection comes] we shall see in reality and face to face! Now I know in part (imperfectly), but then I shall know and understand fully and clearly, even in the same manner as I have been fully and clearly known and understood [by God]." ―1 Corinthians 13:12, Amplified Bible
It is hard to wait patiently, isn't it? We are inclined to look for anything that might give us some glimpse into the future. Anything that might give us an advantage. Perhaps we feel we would be better prepared for what lies ahead, or we need the encouragement to know how much longer until the end as we are trying to cope under severe living conditions. As the apostle Paul notes, "For we know that all creation keeps on groaning together and being in pain together until now." (Romans 8:22) But Jehovah has not revealed to any of us anything beyond what we need to know, and those are the things we need to act upon. What he is telling us is to exercise patience.
"Dear brothers and sisters, you must be patient as you wait for the Lord's return. Consider the farmers who eagerly look for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They patiently wait for the precious harvest to ripen. You, too, must be patient. And take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near." ―James 5:7,8; New Living Translation
Also, The Watchtower of July 15, 1976, pp. 433-434, under the heading "Keeping a Balanced View of Time" states: "So, when Jehovah God makes known a certain time for the outworking of some feature of his divine purpose, his faithful servants can rely implicitly on the exactness of the published schedule. But when he has not made such announcement, then it remains beyond their ability and power to determine the time of the realization of that purpose. That is the case with the timing of the outbreak of the “great tribulation” that God’s Son foretold, a time of divine judgment that opens the way for the start of the thousand-year Kingdom rule, which will bring untold blessings for this earth and its inhabitants.—Matt. 24:21-22; Rev. 7:14-17.
Should we think it strange that God would retain certain knowledge for himself in this way? As far back as the time when the Israelites were approaching the Promised Land, the prophet Moses recorded these inspired words at Deuteronomy 29:29: “The things concealed belong to Jehovah our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons to time indefinite, that we may carry out all the words of this law.” Yes, all that we really need to know to serve Jehovah God faithfully, and that we need in order to sustain us in our hope and conviction, this, God reveals to us. But where it accomplishes his purpose better, he can also conceal matters, with no hurt or lack to his servants."
Accordingly, none among Jehovah's chosen, anointed ones today have any special insight into the detailed outworking of his prophecies that have been made secret and sealed up, as if such ones are specially blessed. God no longer uses prophets like he did in the time of Israel, for now he uses his Son to speak to us, and his words are recorded for us in the Bible. (Hebrews 1:1-2) To understand prophecy we can only be guided by what we see at present. C.T. Russell did that from 1879 until his death in 1916. Rutherford revised Russell's expectations in his time. The Society has continued to do the same over the years, revising interpretations according to present understandings based on present world situations, and revising again as these change.
But when our interpretation of prophecy fails to materialize does that not hurt our credibility and detract from the simple message we have been assigned by God to preach? Is it not also a matter of adding to God's Word things that he has not told us? Proverbs 30:6 warns: "Add nothing to his words, that he may not reprove you, and that you may not have to be proved a liar." If what we foretell about future events does not transpire the way we predicted, does that not make us liars? The Watchtower, September 1, 2005, under the heading "God's Word Safeguards the Congregation," on page 31, says, after quoting Proverbs 30:6: "Yes, those who tamper with the Bible are really spiritual liars—the most reprehensible liars of all!" This does not apply only to matters of doctrine but anything that is not taught by Jehovah in his Word. There is no such thing as a harmless lie. There are always eventual consequences. (John 8:44; Romans 3:4)
If Jehovah has "made secret and sealed up" certain prophecies no one will be able to unlock the interpretation of them before God's due time. (2 Peter 1:20-21) And why has Jehovah kept his prophecies secret from us all? According to him:
3 I declared the past events long ago;
they came out of My mouth; I proclaimed them.
Suddenly I acted, and they occurred.
6 You have heard it. Observe it all.
Will you not acknowledge it?
From now on I will announce new things to you,
hidden things that you have not known.
7 They have been created now, and not long ago;
you have not heard of them before today,
so you could not claim, "I already knew them!" ―Isaiah 48:3,6-7; Holman Christian Standard Bible
What is Babylon the Great?
When Jehovah tells his people to get out of
Babylon the Great, and hence action is needed in order not “to share with her in
her sins” and “receive part of her plagues” for “she will be completely burned
with fire,” we can be certain that Jehovah also helps us to identify what
Babylon the Great is. (Rev. 18:4) Otherwise, how could
we obey this command?
We are told about Babylon the Great that she “sits on many waters,” and that these waters “mean peoples and crowds and nations and tongues.” (Rev. 17:1, 15)
It also says that the kings of the earth committed fornication with her, and “those who inhabit the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.” (Rev. 17:2)
"She has become a place where demons live. She has become a den for every evil spirit." (Rev. 18:2)
We are told that the kings and traveling merchants weep and mourn because of what they are now missing because of her destruction. (vs. 9-19) No longer will the “sound of singers,” “musicians,” “craftsmen,” “no light of a lamp” or a “bridegroom and bride” be found in her. Also, by her “spiritistic practice all the nations were mislead.” (vs. 22-23) Further, “in her was found the blood of prophets and of holy ones and of all those who have been slaughtered on the earth.” (vs. 24)
According to Jehovah there are only two religions, not the thousands we have today. Webster's Encyclopedic Dictionary of the English Language defines "religion" as: man's expression of his acknowledgment of the divine ║ a system of beliefs and practices relating to the sacred and uniting its adherents in a community, e.g. Judaism, Christianity.
God decreed at the time of the rebellion in the Garden of Eden, and as recorded at Genesis 3:15, that there would be two "systems of beliefs and practices" and that the two “communities of adherents” would be at enmity with each other. There would be God's side and Satan's. One cannot worship Jehovah and at the same time have any dealings with Satan and the demons.
“...the things which the nations sacrifice they sacrifice to demons, and not to God; and I do not want YOU to become sharers with the demons. YOU cannot be drinking the cup of Jehovah and the cup of demons; YOU cannot be partaking of “the table of Jehovah” and the table of demons.” –1 Corinthians 10:20-21.
The spiritistic practice that mislead all the nations has to do with worship, sacrificing to the demons. To most people it does not matter what religion you belong to for they believe that all religions are just a different way of worshiping the same god. They have not realized that their worship is in fact directed to the demons and the god of this world, Satan, who has blinded their minds, as the Bible says. (2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 John 5:19) If we want to be part of God’s household, and have Jehovah as our father, then he is clearly telling us what action to take:
14 Do not be joined together with those who do not belong to Christ. How can that which is good get along with that which is bad? How can light be in the same place with darkness?
15 How can Christ get along with the devil? How can one who has put his trust in Christ get along with one who has not put his trust in Christ?
16 How can the house of God get along with false gods? We are the house of the living God. God has said, 'I will live in them and will walk among them. I will be their God and they will be My people.' (Leviticus 26:12)
17 The Lord has said, 'So come out from among them. Do not be joined to them. Touch nothing that is sinful. (see Rev. 18:5) And I will receive you.
18 I will be a Father to you. You will be My sons and daughters, says the All God.' ―2 Corinthians 6:14-18; New Life Version.
Is it not clear what Babylon the Great is, the one Jehovah is telling all, who want to belong to him, to get out of? It is about "a system of beliefs and practices" relating to the worship of demons and being a part of its community of adherents. If we do not separate ourselves from among them, then we cannot be “received” or "taken in" (NWT) by Jehovah into his household. We cannot be “sons and daughters” to him as long as we are still in Babylon the Great, for "how can the house of God get along with false gods."
The destruction of Babylon the Great will come suddenly, as if in "one hour." (Revelation 18:10) There will be no advance warning as if we can discern the time of her demise by world events. The scripture tells us that it is Jehovah who will "carry out his thought" when his appointed time has arrived. (Rev. 17:16-17) The message that he has proclaimed to his people is clear, it does not need interpretation, just like in the first century before Jerusalem was destroyed. Any of the people who might have wanted to worship the true God but failed to heed the warning to "get out of her" will share in her sins and her fate, "death and mourning and famine, and she will be completely burned with fire, because Jehovah God who judged her is strong."
It is not only Babylon the Great that will be destroyed. The "great day of God the Almighty" will mean destruction for all who failed to take refuge in Jehovah. (Revelation 16:14,16) The prophet Zephaniah tells us:
14 "The great day of Jehovah is near. It is near, and there is a hurrying [of it] very much. The sound of the day of Jehovah is bitter. There a mighty man is letting out a cry. 15 That day is a day of fury, a day of distress and of anguish, a day of storm and of desolation, a day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick gloom, 16 a day of horn and of alarm signal, against the fortified cities and against the high corner towers. 17 And I will cause distress to mankind, and they will certainly walk like blind men; because it is against Jehovah that they have sinned. And their blood will actually be poured out like dust, and their bowels like the dung. 18 Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them in the day of Jehovah’s fury; but by the fire of his zeal the whole earth will be devoured, because he will make an extermination, indeed a terrible one, of all the inhabitants of the earth." ―Zephaniah 1:14-18; NWT.
The warning is plainly sounded. Nothing secret and sealed up about it, because it is imperative that we take action, as Zephaniah continues to clearly express:
2 "Before [the] statute gives birth to [anything], [before the] day has passed by just like chaff, before there comes upon YOU people the burning anger of Jehovah, before there comes upon YOU the day of Jehovah’s anger, 3 seek Jehovah, all YOU meek ones of the earth, who have practiced His own judicial decision. Seek righteousness, seek meekness. Probably YOU may be concealed in the day of Jehovah’s anger." ―Zephaniah 2:2-3; NWT.
Babylon the Great is the "place where demons live. . . a den for every evil spirit." It is where the nations "sacrifice to the demons," of whom Satan is the ruler. (Rev. 18:2; Mark 3:22; John 16:11) The message of Revelation 18:4 is clear: any who want to worship Jehovah must get out, separate themselves, from the "system of beliefs and practices" relating to the worship of demons, and be no part of its community of adherents. Her destruction is very near. Any who are still found in her when God executes his judgment upon her will share in her fate. We might say that Revelation 18:4 is a last call for any who want to worship Jehovah to "get out of her." After Babylon the Great's destruction Jehovah and his Son will turn their attention to all the nations and deal with them likewise. (Revelation 19:11,19-21)
God destroyed a wicked world of mankind once before and he will do so again. And just as he provided a means of escape at that time he is doing likewise today. (2 Peter 2:5; 3:5-7; 1 Peter 3:20-21) Our survival depends on our obedience in heeding the command, "Get out of her, my people."