God’s Prophetic Word Gives Hope for the Future
THANKS to God’s Word, the Holy Bible, true Christians view the future with faith, hope, and optimism. Secure in their relationship with Jehovah God, they look forward to tomorrow. As the opening talk at the “God’s Prophetic Word” District Conventions explained, Jehovah’s Witnesses have been keen students of Bible prophecy for many years. So, what did Jehovah have in store for his people at these conventions? With Bibles at the ready, all in attendance were eager to find out. The theme for each day of the convention is set out as a separate subheading.
DAY ONE: Walking in the Light of God’s Word
The talk “God’s Word Has Led Us” explained that Jehovah’s people are like a man who starts out on a journey in the darkness of night. As the sun rises, he sees shadows, but when the sun shines directly overhead, he sees clear detail. As foretold at Proverbs 4:18, Jehovah’s people have come to see their way clearly under the bright sunlight of truth from God’s prophetic word. They are not left to stumble in spiritual darkness.
The keynote address, “Pay Attention to God’s Prophetic Word,” reminded the listeners that those looking to Jehovah are spared the disappointment and disillusionment experienced by people who follow false messiahs and false prophets. In sharp contrast, the credentials of the true Messiah, Jesus Christ, are overwhelming! For example, Jesus’ miraculous transfiguration provided a foregleam of him as the enthroned King of God’s Kingdom. Since coming into Kingdom power in 1914, Jesus is also the “daystar” mentioned at 2 Peter 1:19. “As the Messianic Daystar, he heralds a new day, or era, that dawns for all obedient mankind,” said the speaker.
Introducing the afternoon program, the talk “Shining as Illuminators” enlarged on Ephesians 5:8, where the apostle Paul counsels us to “go on walking as children of light.” Christians are illuminators, not simply by sharing God’s Word with others but also by applying the Bible in their lives in imitation of Jesus.
To be an illuminator of this kind, we must “Take Delight in Reading God’s Word.” This topic was developed in a three-part symposium. After quoting Abraham Lincoln, who called the Bible “the best gift God has ever given to man,” the first speaker asked the audience what their reading habits revealed about their depth of appreciation for Jehovah’s Word. Listeners were encouraged to read the Bible carefully, taking the time to visualize Scriptural accounts and to associate new points with things already learned.
The next part of the symposium stressed the need for study, not casual reading, if we are going to assimilate “solid food.” (Hebrews 5:13, 14) Study is especially upbuilding, said the speaker, if we ‘prepare our hearts’ beforehand, as did the Israelite priest Ezra. (Ezra 7:10) But why is study so important? Because it has a direct bearing on our relationship with Jehovah. Hence, Bible study ought to be precious, delightful, and refreshing, even though it involves mental discipline and effort. How do we find the time for meaningful study? By “buying out the opportune time” from less important activities, said the final speaker of the symposium. (Ephesians 5:16) Yes, the key to finding time is to make the best use of the time we have.
The talk “God Empowers the Tired One” acknowledged that many people are tired nowadays. So that we may have “power beyond what is normal” for the Christian ministry, we need to rely on Jehovah, who “is giving to the tired one power.” (2 Corinthians 4:7; Isaiah 40:29) Strengthening aids include God’s Word, prayer, the Christian congregation, regular participation in the ministry, Christian overseers, and the faithful example of others. The theme “Be Teachers in View of the Time” highlighted the need for Christians to be teachers as well as preachers and to work hard at developing the “art of teaching.”—2 Timothy 4:2.
The day’s final talk, “Fighters Against God Will Not Prevail,” mentioned recent misguided efforts in some lands to have Jehovah’s Witnesses branded a dangerous cult. But we need not fear, for Isaiah 54:17 says: “‘Any weapon whatever that will be formed against you will have no success, and any tongue at all that will rise up against you in the judgment you will condemn. This is the hereditary possession of the servants of Jehovah, and their righteousness is from me,’ is the utterance of Jehovah.”
DAY TWO: Things Made Known Through the Prophetic Scriptures
After a discussion of the day’s Bible text, those assembled enjoyed the second symposium of the convention, entitled “Glorifying Jehovah as Light Bearers.” The first talk showed that a Christian’s goal is to glorify Jehovah by preaching everywhere. The following part mentioned the need to direct responsive ones to God’s organization. How? By our taking five or ten minutes before or after each home Bible study to show how God’s organization functions. The third talk of this symposium stressed the need to glorify God by fine works.
The talk “Love Jehovah’s Reminders Exceedingly” covered selected verses in Psalm 119. Certainly, we need reminders, for we are all inclined to forget. How important, then, that we develop a love for Jehovah’s reminders, just as the psalmist did!
Then came a special treat—the baptism talk entitled “Heeding the Prophetic Word Leads to Baptism.” Candidates for baptism were reminded that they imitate Christ not just by being baptized but also by following his steps closely. (1 Peter 2:21) What a privilege these new ones have to share in the fulfillment of John 10:16, where Jesus foretold that he would gather “other sheep” to serve alongside his spirit-anointed disciples!
Beginning the afternoon program, the talk “Hear What the Spirit Has to Say” explained that Jehovah’s spirit speaks to us through the Bible, “the faithful and discreet slave,” and our Bible-trained conscience. (Matthew 24:45) Hence, Christians do not need to hear a literal voice from heaven in order to know how to please God. The following discussion, “Firm for Teaching That Accords With Godly Devotion,” exhorted Christians not to look into demoralizing ideas propagated by this world. Indeed, an unbridled curiosity could expose us to harmful information planted by apostates and other agents of Satan. How much better it is regularly to read the Bible as well as all the articles in The Watchtower and Awake!
Entitled “Keep Holding the Pattern of Healthful Words,” the next talk stressed the importance of being thoroughly familiar with the Scriptural “pattern,” or framework, of truth. (2 Timothy 1:13) Grasping this pattern is the key not only to having godly devotion but also to identifying that which does not harmonize with truth.
Imagine being viewed by Jehovah as desirable. What an honor! Based on the prophecy of Haggai, the talk “‘Desirable Things’ Are Filling Jehovah’s House” was most encouraging because it assured the listeners that each member of the “great crowd” is truly desirable to Jehovah. (Revelation 7:9) Therefore, Jehovah will spare them through his final “rocking” of the nations during the coming “great tribulation.” (Haggai 2:7, 21, 22; Matthew 24:21) Meanwhile, however, Jehovah’s people must keep on the watch spiritually, as explained in the part “Prophetic Scriptures Alert Us to Watchfulness.” The speaker quoted Jesus’ words: “Keep on the watch, therefore, because you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.” (Matthew 24:42) How do we maintain spiritual vigilance? By keeping busy in Jehovah’s service, praying continually, and remaining in expectation of Jehovah’s great day.
The final talk of the day was entitled “The Prophetic Word in the Time of the End.” It will be remembered for years to come. Why? Because the speaker announced the release of a new book—Pay Attention to Daniel’s Prophecy! “This beautifully-illustrated 320-page publication covers every part of the book of Daniel,” said the speaker. What faith-strengthening evidence that Jehovah is shedding light on his prophetic Word!
DAY THREE: God’s Prophetic Word Never Fails
The final day of the convention began with the symposium “Prophetic Words for the Appointed Time.” The three parts examined the prophet Habakkuk’s three pronouncements of Jehovah’s executional judgments. The first was against wayward Judah and the second against oppressive Babylon. The final one, yet to be fulfilled, applies to the imminent destruction of all wicked humans. Speaking about Armageddon, the last brother on the symposium evoked a healthy measure of godly fear in his listeners when he said: “Truly, it will be awe-inspiring when Jehovah unleashes the full force of his great power.”
“Appreciating Our Spiritual Heritage” was the title of the convention’s moving Bible drama. This soul-searching presentation contrasted the attitudes of Jacob and Esau toward spiritual things. Esau despised his spiritual heritage, so that it was given to Jacob, who treasured it. “What [spiritual heritage] has Jehovah given us?” the conventioners were asked. “The truth of his Word, the Bible; the hope of everlasting life; and the honor to represent him as proclaimers of the good news,” answered the speaker.
The next part was entitled “What Does Our Precious Heritage Mean to You?” We show the right attitude toward our spiritual heritage by putting Jehovah’s service and spiritual privileges before personal or material interests. In this way we build our life around our relationship with Jehovah, in sharp contrast with Adam, Esau, and the unfaithful Israelites.
The public discourse, “Making All Things New—As Foretold,” wove together four key prophecies regarding the “new heavens” and the “new earth.” (Isaiah 65:17-25; 66:22-24; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1, 3-5) Clearly, Jehovah had in mind a greater fulfillment of these prophecies than that upon his restored people in 537 B.C.E. Yes, he had in mind his Kingdom government (the “new heavens”) and its earthly subjects (the “new earth”), who would inhabit a glorious global paradise.
Bringing the convention to a thrilling and motivating conclusion was the talk “Our Expectations as God’s Word Guides Us.” It reminded all that “the time left is reduced” for completing the work of Kingdom proclamation. (1 Corinthians 7:29) Yes, we stand at the very threshold of the fulfillment of Jehovah’s decree against Satan and his entire wicked system. May our sentiments be those of the psalmist who sang: “Our very soul has been in expectation of Jehovah. Our helper and our shield he is.” (Psalm 33:20) What a glorious prospect lies ahead for those whose expectations are based on God’s prophetic word!
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A stirring drama heightened appreciation for the spiritual heritage of Jehovah’s servants
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Many who heeded God’s prophetic word were baptized