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 STUDY ARTICLE 41

Stay Faithful Through the “Great Tribulation”

Stay Faithful Through the “Great Tribulation”

“Love Jehovah, all you who are loyal to him! Jehovah protects the faithful.”​—PS. 31:23.

SONG 129 We Will Keep Enduring

PREVIEW *

1-2. (a) What will the nations proclaim one day soon? (b) What questions need to be answered?

IMAGINE that the nations have just made their long-awaited proclamation of “peace and security.” They may boast that the world has never been so safe. The nations will want us to think that they have the world situation under control. But they have absolutely no control over what will follow! Why not? According to Bible prophecy, “sudden destruction is to be instantly on them, . . . and they will by no means escape.”​—1 Thess. 5:3.

2 There are important questions that need answers: What will happen during the “great tribulation”? What will Jehovah expect us to do during that time? And how can we prepare ourselves now to stay faithful through the great tribulation?​—Matt. 24:21.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN DURING THE “GREAT TRIBULATION”?

3. According to Revelation 17:5, 15-18, how will God destroy “Babylon the Great”?

3 Read Revelation 17:5, 15-18. “Babylon the Great” will be destroyed! As mentioned earlier, the nations will have no control over what happens at this point. Why not? Because “God [will] put it into their hearts to carry out his thought.” What is that thought? To destroy  the world empire of false religion, including Christendom. * God will put his thought into the hearts of “the ten horns” of the “scarlet-colored wild beast.” The ten horns represent all the political powers that support “the wild beast”​—the United Nations. (Rev. 17:3, 11-13; 18:8) When those political powers turn on false religion, that will mark the beginning of the great tribulation. It will be a truly catastrophic world event.

4. (a) What might the nations say to justify their attack on false religion? (b) What will the former members of those religions likely do?

4 We do not know what reasons the nations might give to justify their attack on Babylon the Great. They might say that the world’s religions are an obstacle to peace and that they constantly meddle in politics. Or they might say that those religious organizations have accumulated too much wealth and property. (Rev. 18:3, 7) It seems reasonable that this attack will not mean that all the members of those religions will be destroyed. Rather, it seems that the nations will get rid of the religious organizations. Once those organizations are gone, the former members will realize that their religious leaders failed them and will likely try to distance themselves from those religions.

5. What has Jehovah promised about the great tribulation, and why?

5 The Bible does not indicate how long the destruction of Babylon the Great will take, but we do know that it will take place within a relatively brief time. (Rev. 18:10, 21) Jehovah has promised that he will “cut short the days” of the tribulation so that his “chosen ones” and true religion will survive. (Mark 13:19, 20) But what will Jehovah expect us to do between the start of the great tribulation and the war of Armageddon?

 KEEP UPHOLDING JEHOVAH’S PURE WORSHIP

6. Why is it not enough simply to cut ties with false religion?

6 As discussed in the preceding article, Jehovah expects his worshippers to separate themselves from Babylon the Great. However, this requires more than our cutting ties with false religion. We must be determined to uphold true religion​—the pure worship of Jehovah. Consider two ways that we can do that.

May we never forsake our meeting together, even during difficult times (See paragraph 7) *

7. (a) How can we remain firm for Jehovah’s righteous moral standards? (b) How does Hebrews 10:24, 25 emphasize the importance of our meeting together, especially now?

7 First, we must remain firm for Jehovah’s righteous moral standards. We cannot accept the world’s values and standards. For example, we do not approve of sexual immorality of any kind, including marriage between people of the same sex and other homosexual lifestyles. (Matt. 19:4, 5; Rom. 1:26, 27) Second, we must continue worshipping with our fellow Christians. We do this wherever we can, whether in our Kingdom Halls or, when necessary, in private homes or even in secret. No matter what happens, we cannot let up in our routine of meeting together for worship. In fact, we need to meet together “all the more so as [we] see the day drawing near.”​—Read Hebrews 10:24, 25.

8. How will our message likely change in the future?

8 During the great tribulation, the message that we proclaim will likely change. Currently, we are preaching the good news of the Kingdom and we are endeavoring to make disciples. But at that time, we may well deliver a message as hard-hitting as hailstones. (Rev. 16:21) We may proclaim the impending doom of Satan’s world. In time, we will find out exactly what our message will be and how we will deliver it. Will we use the same methods we have used for over a hundred years to accomplish our ministry? Or will we use some other methods? We will have to wait and see. In any case, it seems that we will have the privilege of boldly proclaiming Jehovah’s judgment message!​—Ezek. 2:3-5.

9. How may the nations react to our message, but of what can we be sure?

9 Quite likely, our message will provoke the nations into trying to silence us once and for all. Just as we rely on Jehovah for support in our ministry now, we will need his support then. We can be sure that our God will fill us with power to accomplish his will.​—Mic. 3:8.

KEEP READY FOR THE ATTACK ON GOD’S PEOPLE

10. As foretold at Luke 21:25-28, how will most of mankind react to what happens during the great tribulation?

10 Read Luke 21:25-28. During the great tribulation, people will be shocked as they see everything that they once thought to be so stable in the world begin to fail. They will be in “anguish,” fearing for their very lives as they enter the darkest period of human existence. (Zeph. 1:14, 15) At that time, life will likely get more difficult even for Jehovah’s people. Because we remain no part of the world, we may suffer some hardships. We may have to go without certain necessities.

11. (a) Why will Jehovah’s Witnesses become the center of attention? (b) Why do we not need to fear the great tribulation?

 11 At some point, the people whose religions were destroyed may resent the fact that Jehovah’s Witnesses keep practicing their religion. We can only imagine the uproar that this might create, including on social media. The nations and their ruler, Satan, will hate us for having the only surviving religion. They will not have attained their goal to eliminate all religion from the face of the earth. So we will become the center of their attention. At this point, the nations will take on the role of Gog of Magog. * They will band together to make a vicious, all-out attack on Jehovah’s people. (Ezek. 38:2, 14-16) It can be somewhat unsettling to think about those possibilities when we cannot be certain of the exact details. However, one thing is sure: We do not need to fear the great tribulation. Jehovah will give us lifesaving instructions. (Ps. 34:19) We will be able to “stand up straight and lift up [our] heads” because we will know that our “deliverance is getting near.” *

12. How has “the faithful and discreet slave” been preparing us for what is coming in the future?

12 “The faithful and discreet slave” has been preparing us to stay faithful through the great tribulation. (Matt. 24:45) This has been done in many ways, but consider one example: our timely convention programs for the years 2016-2018. Through those programs, we have been encouraged to strengthen the qualities that we need as we near Jehovah’s day. Let us briefly review those qualities.

KEEP STRENGTHENING YOUR LOYALTY, ENDURANCE, AND COURAGE

Prepare now to survive the “great tribulation” (See paragraphs 13-16) *

13. How can we strengthen our loyalty to Jehovah, and why must we do so now?

13 Loyalty: The theme of the 2016 convention program was “Remain Loyal to Jehovah!” This program taught us that if we have a strong personal relationship with Jehovah, we will be loyal to him. We were reminded that we can draw close to Jehovah through meaningful prayer and diligent study of his Word. Doing so gives us the strength to overcome even the most challenging obstacles. As Satan’s system nears its end, we can expect to face ever more difficult tests of loyalty to God and his Kingdom. We will likely continue to be the target of ridicule. (2 Pet. 3:3, 4) This may especially happen as our neutrality is tested more and more. We must strengthen our loyalty now so that we will remain loyal during the great tribulation.

14. (a) What change will take place regarding the brothers who take the lead on earth? (b) Why will we need to be loyal at that time?

14 During the great tribulation, a change will take place regarding the brothers who take the lead on earth. At some point, all anointed ones who are still on earth will be gathered to heaven to share in the war of Armageddon. (Matt. 24:31; Rev. 2:26, 27) This means that the Governing Body will no longer  be with us on earth. However, the great crowd will remain organized. Capable brothers from among the other sheep will take the lead. We will need to show our loyalty by supporting these brothers and by following their God-given direction. Our survival will depend on it!

15. How can we strengthen our endurance, and why is it important to do so now?

15 Endurance: The theme of the 2017 convention program was “Don’t Give Up!” This program helped us to strengthen our ability to withstand trials. We learned that our endurance does not depend on favorable circumstances. We can strengthen our endurance by relying on Jehovah. (Rom. 12:12) May we never forget what Jesus promised: “The one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matt. 24:13, ftn.) This promise means that we must remain faithful despite any challenges we face. By enduring each trial now, we can become stronger before the outbreak of the great tribulation.

16. What determines whether we are courageous, and how can we strengthen our courage now?

16 Courage: The theme of the 2018 convention program was “Be Courageous!” This program reminded us that our personal abilities do not determine whether we are courageous. As with endurance, true courage comes from relying on Jehovah. How can we strengthen our reliance on him? By reading his Word every day and meditating on how Jehovah saved his people in the past. (Ps. 68:20; 2 Pet. 2:9) When the nations attack us during the great tribulation, we will need to be courageous and to trust in Jehovah as never before. (Ps. 112:7, 8; Heb. 13:6) If we rely on Jehovah now, we will have the courage we need to face Gog’s attack. *

LOOK FORWARD TO YOUR DELIVERANCE

Jesus and his heavenly army will soon ride into the war of Armageddon to destroy God’s enemies! (See paragraph 17)

17. Why do we not have to fear Armageddon? (See cover picture.)

17 As mentioned in the preceding article, most of us have lived our entire life  during the last days. But we also have the prospect of living through the great tribulation. The war of Armageddon will be the grand finale to the conclusion of this system of things. However, we have nothing to fear. Why? Because this will be God’s fight. (Prov. 1:33; Ezek. 38:18-20; Zech. 14:3) At Jehovah’s signal, Jesus Christ will lead the charge. He will have alongside him the resurrected anointed ones and myriads of angels. Together, they will war against Satan, his demons, and their earthly forces.​—Dan. 12:1; Rev. 6:2; 17:14.

18. (a) What has Jehovah guaranteed? (b) How does Revelation 7:9, 13-17 fill you with confidence about the future?

18 Jehovah has guaranteed: “No weapon formed against you will have any success.” (Isa. 54:17) “A great crowd” of Jehovah’s faithful worshippers will “come out of the great tribulation” alive! Then they will continue to render him sacred service. (Read Revelation 7:9, 13-17.) How the Bible fills us with confidence about the future! We know that “Jehovah protects the faithful.” (Ps. 31:23) All who love and praise Jehovah will delight to see him vindicate his holy name.​—Ezek. 38:23.

19. What wonderful prospect awaits us in the near future?

19 Think of how 2 Timothy 3:2-5 might be worded if it were describing people in the new world free of Satan’s influence. (See the box “ The Way People Will Be Then.”) Brother George Gangas, * who served as a member of the Governing Body, described it this way: “What kind of world will that be when everybody will be a brother or a sister! Soon you will have the privilege of living in the new system of things. You will live as long as Jehovah lives. We are going to live forever.” What a wonderful prospect that is!

SONG 122 Be Steadfast, Immovable!

^ par. 5 We know that a “great tribulation” will soon come upon mankind. What will that mean for us? What will Jehovah expect us to do then? What qualities do we need to strengthen now in order to stay faithful? We will find out in this article.

^ par. 3 EXPRESSION EXPLAINED: Christendom is made up of religions that claim to be Christian but that do not teach people to worship Jehovah according to his standards.

^ par. 11 EXPRESSION EXPLAINED: The term Gog of Magog (and its shortened form, Gog) refers to a coalition of nations that will fight against pure worship during the great tribulation.

^ par. 11 For a more extensive discussion of all the events leading up to the war of Armageddon, see chapter 21 of the book God’s Kingdom Rules! For more details about the attack of Gog of Magog and how Jehovah will defend his people during Armageddon, see chapters 17 and 18 of the book Pure Worship of Jehovah​—Restored At Last!

^ par. 16 The 2019 convention program with the theme “Love Never Fails!” convinces us that we can remain ever safe under Jehovah’s loving protection.​—1 Cor. 13:8.

^ par. 19 See the article “His Deeds Follow Him” in the December 1, 1994, issue of The Watchtower.

^ par. 65 PICTURE DESCRIPTION: During the great tribulation, a small group of Witnesses courageously meets in a forest to hold a congregation meeting.

^ par. 67 PICTURE DESCRIPTION: A great crowd of Jehovah’s faithful worshippers will come out of the great tribulation, alive and happy!