Stay out of the Danger Zone!
IT IS the task of volcanologists to make observations and to weigh the evidence and then to warn about coming volcanic eruptions. (Once Mount Fugen had erupted, the police had to keep people out of the danger zone.) Similarly, Bible students observe the sign of “the conclusion of the system of things” and alert others to the impending danger.—Matthew 24:3.
In the same chapter of the Bible that warns about an impending global catastrophe, we can read this description of preliminary developments: “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be food shortages and earthquakes in one place after another. . . . Many false prophets will arise and mislead many; and because of the increasing of lawlessness the love of the greater number will cool off. . . . And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.”—Matthew 24:7-14.
We do not need to be news analysts to discern the current fulfillment of this prophecy. Especially since 1914, we have experienced it. This century has seen two world wars, a great number of civil wars, local warfares, and racial and religious conflicts. Mankind has suffered food shortages as a result of such wars, in addition to privations caused by natural disasters. Many lives have been swallowed up by earthquakes. Cults with dubious leaders and fanatic followers have sprung up. “The increasing of lawlessness” has turned people away from showing love, and neighborliness is no longer the norm.
The worldwide preaching work, another aspect of the sign, is certainly being accomplished. Just turn back to the cover of this magazine, and you will note the words “Announcing Jehovah’s Kingdom” as part of the title. The Watchtower, published in 132 languages and with a circulation of more than 22 million, is a major tool for those who declare “this good news of the kingdom” in all the inhabited earth. That good news includes the message that the Creator of the universe, Jehovah God, has established the heavenly Kingdom that will destroy the wicked system of things and bring in a paradise on earth. Indeed, the sign that God will soon take action is observable now, indicating that the lives of people in this system of things are in danger.—Compare 2 Timothy 3:1-5; 2 Peter 3:3, 4; Revelation 6:1-8.
The Fear-Inspiring Day of Jehovah
What will happen when the time is ripe for Jehovah to execute his judgment? Listen to his own graphic description of what will then take place: “I will give portents in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun itself will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and fear-inspiring day of Jehovah.”—Joel 2:30, 31.
That day, more fearsome and destructive than any local volcanic eruption or earthquake, is imminent. The prophet Zephaniah says: “The great day of Jehovah is near. It is near, and there is a hurrying of it very much. . . . 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.” Although “neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them in the day of Jehovah’s fury,” there is a way to survive that fear-inspiring day.—Zephaniah 1:14-18.
Showing how, Zephaniah says: “Before there comes upon you people the burning anger of Jehovah, before there comes upon you the day of Jehovah’s anger, seek Jehovah, all you meek ones of the earth . . . Seek righteousness, seek meekness. Probably you may be concealed in the day of Jehovah’s anger.” (Zephaniah 2:2, 3) We can take refuge by ‘seeking Jehovah, seeking righteousness, and seeking meekness.’ Who today are seeking Jehovah?
You no doubt relate the word “Jehovah” to Jehovah’s Witnesses because of their preaching work. You may have received this magazine from one of them. They are known as moral citizens who lead upright lives. They are endeavoring to put on a “new personality,” which includes developing meekness. (Colossians 3:8-10) This, they admit, results from being educated by Jehovah’s visible organization, throughout the earth represented by local congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Yes, you can take refuge along with ‘the entire association of brothers’ among Jehovah’s Witnesses the world over.—1 Peter 5:9.
Take Refuge Now
To take refuge by seeking Jehovah, we have to be his friends. What does that involve? The Bible answers: “Do you not know that the friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever, therefore, wants to be a friend of the world is constituting himself an enemy of God.” (James 4:4) To be friends of God, we must rid ourselves of any emotional attachment to the present wicked world, characterized by a rebellious attitude toward God.
The Bible admonishes us: “Do not be loving either the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him; because everything in the world—the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the showy display of one’s means of life—does not originate with the Father, but originates with the world. Furthermore, the world is passing away and so is its desire, but he that does the will of God remains forever.” (1 John 2:15-17) Most people today are motivated by fleshly desires—uncontrolled sexual appetite, greedy pursuit of money, and abusive use of power. But to be on Jehovah’s side, one must overcome such desires.—Colossians 3:5-8.
You may have read this journal from time to time, and you might agree with its application of Bible prophecies. Yet, you may hesitate to take the further step of associating with Jehovah’s Witnesses. If we are faced with a disaster, however, is it enough just to hear the warning? As we can see from the case of the Mount Fugen eruption, we need to act on the warning. Remember, at least 15 news reporters and cameramen intent on securing a scoop lost their lives. In fact, one photographer died with his finger on the shutter button of his camera. A volcanologist—who had remarked, “If one day I have to die, I want it to be at the edge of a volcano”—lost his life just as he had wished. They were all dedicated to their work and their pursuits. Yet, they paid with their lives—the price of ignoring the warning.
Many today hear the message about God’s decision to destroy this wicked system of things and discern, to a certain extent, the validity of the warning. ‘It may eventually come,’ they may reason, ‘but not today.’ They conveniently put off the day of Jehovah to a later time so that they may not be diverted from what seems more important in their eyes at the moment.
Baruch had such a problem. Being the secretary to the ancient prophet Jeremiah, Baruch courageously warned the Israelites of Jerusalem’s impending doom. Yet, he once became weary of his commission. At that, Jehovah corrected him: “As for you, you keep seeking great things for yourself. Do not keep on seeking.” Be it wealth, prominence, or material security, Baruch was not to ‘seek great things for himself.’ He was to be interested in one thing, doing God’s will to help people to stand on His side. As a result, he would receive ‘his soul as a spoil.’ (Jeremiah 45:1-5) Comparably, instead of ‘seeking great things for ourselves,’ we should seek Jehovah, which can lead to the saving of our own lives.
At Mount Fugen, over a dozen policemen and volunteer firemen were on duty when the superheated volcanic flow hit them. They were trying to help and protect endangered people. They were like well-meaning men and women who are immersed in improving this world. Lofty though their motives may be, “that which is made crooked cannot be made straight.” (Ecclesiastes 1:15) The crooked system of things cannot be straightened out. Is it reasonable to make oneself “a friend of the world” by trying to save a worldwide system that God is determined to eliminate?
Once You Have Fled, Stay Away
It is one thing to flee from the endangered system, but it is quite another to remain in the protective care of “the whole association of brothers.” (1 Peter 2:17) Let us not forget the farmers who, after being evacuated, went back to check their fields near Mount Fugen. Probably, they were anxious to return to the “normal” life they used to have. But you realize that their decision to go back was unwise. Perhaps that was not their first attempt to cross the line. They might have stepped into the perilous area just for a little while and nothing happened. The next time, they might have stayed a little longer, and still nothing happened. Likely, they soon became accustomed to crossing the protective line and were emboldened to linger in the endangered area.
Jesus Christ referred to a similar situation that would occur during “the conclusion of the system of things.” He said: “As they were in those days before the flood, eating and drinking, men marrying and women being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark; and they took no note until the flood came and swept them all away, so the presence of the Son of man will be.”—Matthew 24:3, 38, 39.
Notice that Jesus mentioned eating, drinking, and getting married. None of those things are in themselves wrong in Jehovah’s eyes. What was wrong then? The people of Noah’s day “took no note,” leading a life centered around their regular routine. In a time of emergency, one cannot live a “normal” life. Once you have fled from, or have separated yourself from, the present doomed world, you must fight any urge to go back to take advantage of whatever can be gleaned from it. (1 Corinthians 7:31) You may be able to wander out of the spiritually safe zone and come back unscathed with no one even noticing it. However, that likely will embolden you and lead to your returning to the world again, lingering in it a bit longer. Soon the attitude could develop: “The end won’t come today.”
Also, think of the three cab drivers who lost their lives waiting for the news reporters and cameramen when the volcanic flow swirled down the slope. Some today may tag along with others who have dared to go back into the world. Whatever the reason, it is clear that being coaxed into returning to the perilous zone is not worth the risk.
All the victims of the eruption of Mount Fugen crossed the safety line and went into the danger zone. Though they expected that the mountain would erupt someday, no one thought that it would be on that day. By observing the sign of the conclusion of the system of things, many expect the day of Jehovah to come sometime but likely not soon. Some even feel that the day could never be “today.” Such an attitude is indeed risky.
“Jehovah’s day will come as a thief,” the apostle Peter warned. We need to be alert, “awaiting and keeping close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah,” doing our “utmost to be found finally by him spotless and unblemished and in peace.” (2 Peter 3:10-14) After the destruction of the present wicked system of things, a paradise earth under the Kingdom of God awaits. May we never be tempted to venture into the danger zone for whatever reason our mind might come up with, since the day we cross the line back into the world could be the day of Jehovah.
Take refuge along with Jehovah’s people and stay with them.
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Take refuge along with Jehovah’s people and stay with them
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