THE weather forecaster examines a developing radar image. He sees a dangerous storm bearing down on an area with a large population. Because he is concerned for the people’s safety, he tirelessly warns them before it is too late.
In a similar way, Jehovah is now alerting earth’s inhabitants to a “storm” that is more ominous than anything they might hear about in a weather report. How is he doing so? And why can we be sure that he is giving people enough time to respond? For the answers, let us first consider some warnings that Jehovah issued in the past.
WHEN GOD GAVE ADVANCE WARNINGS
In Bible times, Jehovah warned of various “storms,” or acts of judgment, that he would bring against those who deliberately disobeyed his commands. (Prov. 10:25; Jer. 30:23) In each case, he informed the affected people well in advance and instructed them to make changes that were in harmony with his will. (2 Ki. 17:12-15; Neh. 9:29, 30) To encourage the right response, he often used his loyal servants on earth to announce his judgments and to convey a sense of urgency.—Amos 3:7.
Noah proved to be one such faithful servant. For many years, he fearlessly warned the immoral and violent people of his day about a coming global Flood. (Gen. 6:9-13, 17) He also told them what they needed to do to be spared—so much so that he was later called “a preacher of righteousness.”—2 Pet. 2:5.
Despite Noah’s efforts, the people of that pre-Flood world ignored his God-given message. They showed a gross lack of faith. As a result, they died when the Deluge “came and swept them all away.” (Matt. 24:39; Heb. 11:7) As their end approached, they could not properly claim that God had failed to warn them.
At other times, Jehovah warned individuals shortly before the “storm” of his judgment began. Even so, he made sure that those affected were given enough time to respond. For instance, he provided advance warnings during the Ten Plagues that beset ancient Egypt. As one example, Jehovah sent Moses and Aaron to warn Pharaoh and his servants about the seventh plague, a devastating hailstorm. Since the hail would start the next day, did God give them enough time to find shelter and escape the storm? The Bible reports: “Anyone among Pharaoh’s servants who feared Jehovah’s word quickly brought his own servants and his livestock into the houses, but whoever did not take Jehovah’s word to heart left his servants and his livestock in the field.” (Ex. 9:18-21) Clearly, Jehovah gave ample warning, so that those who quickly responded were spared the worst effects of that plague.
Pharaoh and his servants were likewise alerted prior to the tenth plague. However, they foolishly rejected the warning. (Ex. 4:22, 23) As a result, they saw their firstborn sons die. How tragic! (Ex. 11:4-10; 12:29) Could they have heeded the warning in time? Yes! Moses promptly alerted the Israelites to the impending tenth plague and instructed them on how to save their families. (Ex. 12:21-28) How many people responded to the warning? According to some estimates, three million people, including Israelites and “a vast mixed company” of non-Israelites and Egyptians, were spared God’s judgment and left Egypt.—Ex. 12:38; ftn.
As these examples show, Jehovah always made certain that people had sufficient opportunity to heed his warnings. (Deut. 32:4) What was God’s motive for doing that? The apostle Peter explained that Jehovah “does not desire anyone to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9) Yes, God cared about the people. He wanted them to repent and to act on his counsel before his judgment arrived.—Isa. 48:17, 18; Rom. 2:4.
RESPONDING TO GOD’S WARNING TODAY
Today, too, all people must respond to an urgent appeal that is now being announced earth wide. While he was on earth, Jesus warned that the present system of things would eventually be destroyed during a “great tribulation.” (Matt. 24:21) Regarding that future judgment, he provided a detailed prophecy in which he described what his followers could expect to see and experience as that time approached. Jesus thus outlined major global events that we see happening today.—Matt. 24:3-12; Luke 21:10-13.
In harmony with that prophecy, Jehovah is now urging everyone to submit to His loving rulership. He desires that obedient people enjoy a better life now as well as the future blessings in his righteous new world. (2 Pet. 3:13) To encourage faith in his promises, Jehovah has provided a lifesaving message—the “good news of the Kingdom,” which Jesus foretold would be “preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations.” (Matt. 24:14) God has organized his true worshippers to give this “witness,” or preach this divine message, in some 240 lands. Jehovah wants as many people as possible to heed the warning and escape the coming “storm” of his righteous judgment.—Zeph. 1:14, 15; 2:2, 3.
The vital question, then, is not whether Jehovah gives people enough time to respond to his warnings. The evidence shows that he always does. Instead, the key question remains: Will people heed God’s warning while there is still time? May we as God’s messengers continue to help as many people as possible to survive the end of this system of things.