“Even if it should delay, keep in expectation of it!”
SONGS: 128, 45
1, 2. What attitude do Jehovah’s servants have?
JEHOVAH’S servants have waited patiently for prophecies to be fulfilled. For example, Jeremiah expected that the Babylonians would destroy Judah, and that is what happened in 607 B.C.E. (Jeremiah 25:8-11) Isaiah prophesied that Jehovah would bring the exiled Jews back to Judah and said: “Happy are all those keeping in expectation of him.” (Isaiah 30:18) Micah too expected that Jehovah’s promises would come true and said: “I will keep on the lookout for Jehovah.” (Micah 7:7) And for hundreds of years, God’s servants were confident that the promised Messiah, or Christ, would come.
2 Today, we too are waiting for prophecies about Jehovah’s Kingdom to be fulfilled. Jesus, as King of that Kingdom, will soon rescue God’s servants from this dangerous world. He will destroy wicked people and end all suffering. (1 John 5:19) So we must keep expecting Jehovah’s day to come at any moment and do all we can to be ready for it.
3. If we have been waiting a long time for the end to come, what might we wonder?
3 We very much look forward to the day when God’s will is done on earth. (Matthew 6:10) But if we have been waiting for many years for the end to come, we may begin to wonder, ‘Why should we keep expecting the end to come soon?’
WHY SHOULD WE KEEP EXPECTING THE END TO COME SOON?
4. Why is it important for us to “keep on the watch”?
4 Jesus commanded his followers to “keep on the watch” and to “keep awake.” That is why it is important for us to keep expecting the end to come soon. (Matthew 24:42; Luke 21:34-36) Also, Jehovah’s organization keeps reminding us to “await and keep close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah” and to stay focused on Jehovah’s promise of the new world.
5. What other reason do we have to keep expecting Jehovah’s day?
5 If Jesus’ followers in the first century needed to keep expecting Jehovah’s day, then this is even more important for us today. Why? Because the sign Jesus gave proves that he has been King of God’s Kingdom since 1914 and that we are living in the last days, or “the conclusion of the system of things.” For example, just as Jesus prophesied, conditions in the world are getting worse and the good news of the Kingdom is being preached in all the earth. (Matthew 24:3, 7-14) Jesus did not say how long the last days would last, so we must be prepared for the end to come at any time.
6. How do we know that world conditions will become worse the closer we get to the end?
6 Could “the conclusion of the system of things” refer to a time in the future when the world becomes even worse than it is now? The Bible says that people will become more and more wicked “in the last days.” (2 Timothy 3:1, 13; Matthew 24:21; Revelation 12:12) So, although things are very bad now, we know that they will continue to get worse.
7. What does Matthew 24:37-39 teach us about world conditions during the last days?
7 Some could think that before “the great tribulation,” there will be war in every country and that most people will be sick or starving. (Revelation 7:14) But if that happened, it would be obvious to everyone that Bible prophecy was being fulfilled. It would be clear even to people who are not interested in what the Bible says. Remember, Jesus said that in the last days, most people would take “no note.” They would be living their normal daily lives and would be shocked when Jehovah’s day comes. (Read Matthew 24:37-39.) Clearly, we should not expect world conditions to become so bad before “the great tribulation” that people would be forced to believe that the end is near.
We are convinced that we are living in “the conclusion of the system of things”
8. Because we are alert to Jesus’ sign, what are we convinced of?
8 The sign Jesus gave was meant to give his followers clear warning of the time they would be living in. Jesus’ followers have been alert. (Matthew 24:27, 42) Since 1914, the different parts of Jesus’ sign have been coming true. We are convinced that we are living in the last days, “the conclusion of the system of things.” Jehovah has already decided when he will destroy Satan’s wicked world.
9. Why must we keep expecting the end to come soon?
9 So why must we keep expecting the end to come soon? Because we obey Jesus Christ. Also, we clearly see that the sign Jesus gave about the last days is coming true. We believe that the end is close, not because we trust everything we hear, but because we are convinced that Bible prophecy is being fulfilled. We must stay alert and be ready for the end to come.
HOW LONG MUST WE WAIT?
10, 11. (a) Why did Jesus tell his disciples to “keep on the watch”? (b) What did Jesus tell his followers to do if the end did not come as quickly as they thought? (See opening picture.)
10 Many of us have been faithfully serving Jehovah and eagerly waiting for his day to come for many years. No matter how long we have been waiting, we must keep expecting that day to come soon. We need to be ready when Jesus comes to destroy Satan’s world. Remember what Jesus told his followers to do: “Keep looking, keep awake, for you do not know when the appointed time is. It is like a man traveling abroad who left his house and gave the authority to his slaves, to each one his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to keep on the watch. Keep on the watch, therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether late in the day or at midnight or at dawn or early in the morning, in order that when he comes suddenly, he does not find you sleeping. But what I say to you, I say to all: Keep on the watch.”
The attack on false religion could happen quickly and at any time
11 When Jesus’ followers understood that he had begun to rule in 1914, they realized that the end could come at any time. So they prepared for it by doing more in the preaching work. Jesus said that he might come later, “at dawn or early in the morning.” If that happened, what would his followers need to do? Jesus said: “Keep on the watch.” So even if we feel that we have been waiting a long time, this does not mean that the end is far away or that it is not coming in our lifetime.
12. What did Habakkuk ask Jehovah, and how did God answer him?
12 The prophet Habakkuk waited patiently while he preached about the destruction of Jerusalem. Other prophets before him had also preached that message for many years. Habakkuk could see that there was more wickedness and injustice than ever before. He begged Jehovah for help, asking: “How long, O Jehovah, must I cry for help?” Although Jehovah did not say when the end would come, he promised Habakkuk: “It will not be late!” Jehovah also told Habakkuk to “keep in expectation.”
13. What could Habakkuk have thought, and why would that have been dangerous?
13 Imagine that Habakkuk got tired of waiting for the end and said: ‘I have been expecting Jerusalem’s destruction for years. It will be a long time before the end comes. I do not need to keep preaching about it. Others can do the work.’ What would have happened if he had thought that way? He would have lost Jehovah’s approval. And if he had not been ready when the end came, he could have lost his life.
14. Why will we be thankful that Jehovah has warned us to keep expecting the end?
14 Imagine that you are in the new world. All the events that were prophesied about the last days happened just as Jehovah had said. You trust in Jehovah more than ever, and you are even more confident that he will do everything else that he has promised. (Read Joshua 23:14.) You are so thankful that Jehovah set the right time to bring the end and that he warned his people to keep expecting it.
WE KEEP PREACHING WHILE WE WAIT
15, 16. Why should we do all we can in the preaching work during this time of the end?
15 Jehovah’s organization will keep reminding us to focus our lives on serving Jehovah. These reminders help us not only to keep busy serving God but to see clearly that our message is urgent. We are convinced that the sign Jesus gave is being fulfilled right now and that the end is coming very soon. So we put Jehovah first in our lives and keep preaching the good news about the Kingdom.
16 When we preach the good news to others, we help to rescue them from the destruction of Satan’s world that will happen soon. One of the worst disasters at sea happened in 1945 when the ship Wilhelm Gustloff sank. Thousands of people died. A sister and her husband were rescued from that ship. She remembers that even while the ship was sinking, a woman kept crying: “My suitcases! My suitcases! My jewelry! All my jewelry is down there in the cabin. I have lost everything!” But other passengers understood what was most important and worked hard to save people’s lives. Today, lives are in danger. We too want to be like those unselfish passengers and focus on how urgent our preaching work is. We need to do everything we can to help people survive the end of this system.
17. Why should we believe that the end could come at any time?
17 We can clearly see that Bible prophecy is being fulfilled and that the end of this wicked system is very close. We are waiting for “the ten horns” and “the wild beast” to turn against false religion, Babylon the Great. (Revelation 17:16) We should not assume that much time is needed before that happens. Do not forget that God will “put it into their hearts” to attack false religion and that this could happen quickly and at any time! (Revelation 17:17) The end of Satan’s wicked world is coming soon. So we should obey Jesus’ warning: “Pay attention to yourselves that your hearts never become weighed down with overeating and heavy drinking and anxieties of life, and suddenly that day be instantly upon you as a snare.” (Luke 21:34, 35; Revelation 16:15) Let us stay alert and keep busy in Jehovah’s service, confident that he “acts in behalf of those who keep in expectation of him.”
18. What question will be answered in the next article?
18 While we wait for the end of this wicked world, we should listen to the counsel from the disciple Jude: “Beloved ones, build yourselves up on your most holy faith, and pray with holy spirit, in order to keep yourselves in God’s love, while you await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ with everlasting life in view.” (Jude 20, 21) But how can we show that we are expecting God’s new world to come soon and that we are looking forward to it? We will discuss this in the next article.
^ par. 1 For a list of some Bible prophecies about the Messiah and how they came true, see page 200 of the book What Does the Bible Really Teach?