Matthew, chapter 24

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away.”
~Matthew 24:35

Are Jesus’ words to be taken literally?
The Bible teaches God made the earth to last forever. (Ps. 37:29; Is. 45:18)
In a previous similar statement, Jesus said: “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to go unfulfilled.” (Luke 16:17)
Jesus was not alluding to a future destruction of the physical universe.
Rather, he was making reference to the opposite.
He was using the permanent nature of the physical world to illustrate how certain the fulfillment of his prophecies is.
In other passages, the phrase “heaven and earth” actually refers to government and mankind. (2 Pet. 3:13)
Jesus was speaking in the context of a coming judgment day, like the one that came through the deluge in the times of Noah. (Matt. 24:37)
Since his kingdom is going to thereafter rule over humans deemed righteous, the current heaven and earth will have come to pass in a symbolic sense. (Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:19-21)

Ezekiel, chapters 32-34

“​For this is what the Sovereign Lord Jehovah says:’Here I am, and I myself will search for my sheep, and I will care for them.'”
~Ezekiel 34:11

As time proceeds deeper into the “last days,” Jehovah God actively looks for those who have strayed from the flock. (John 10:16; 2 Tim. 3:1-5)
Although Jehovah’s Witnesses’ worldwide preaching work is primarily aimed at witnessing to non-believers, from time to time we run into a stray sheep who for one reason or another has seized associating with the congregation.
Because our work is headed by angels, we are able to find repentant brothers and sisters who recognize the times we are living in and ask for help to return to Jehovah before it is too late. (Zep. 2:2,3; Rev. 14:6,7)
It is an undeserved honor to be allowed to collaborate with our kind heavenly Father in this soul saving work. (1 Cor. 3:9)

Isaiah, chapters 52-57

“[…] All your sons will be taught by Jehovah,
And the peace of your sons will be abundant.”
~Isaiah 54:13

One of the identifying markers of true worship is the peacefulness of those who practice it.
Jesus said: “By this all will know that you are my disciples—if you have love among yourselves.” (John 13:35)
Isaiah himself prophesied that in the last days, God’s people would be made up of peace-lovers from different ends of the earth. (Is. 2:2,4)
But is an international brotherhood of peace really something attainable in these divided times we are living?
Jesus also stated: “The things impossible with men are possible with God.” (Luke 18:27)
If we love God and want to follow in Christ’s footsteps, we will not only practice a form of worship free of promoting hatred or war, but will ‘clothe ourselves’ with love in the manner in which we speak and treat those around us on a daily basis. (Col. 3:12-15)

Esther, chapters 6-10

“The couriers riding the post-horses used in the royal service went out urgently and speedily at the king’s order.”
~Esther 8:14

Once King Ahasuerus authorized Mordecai to create laws that enabled the Jews to defend themselves from attackers, the law was promulgated urgently throughout the kingdom.
This happened late in the Jewish month of Sivan (mid-June).
Haman, who was now dead, had superstitiously scheduled their genocide for the month of Adar in the next year (early March) (Es. 7:10; 8:11,12).
This means the Jews had 8 and a half months to prepare themselves for the attack.
They did not slack in getting the word out, but did so with urgency, knowing that the more time people had to prepare themselves, the more likely they were to survive.
This reminds me of the life-saving preaching work we carry out, letting our neighbors know God’s day is near (1 Tim. 4:16).
Although we do not know the exact date, if we preach with a sense of urgency during these last days, we will give people more time to prepare themselves and be saved (Matt. 25:13; 2 Tim. 3:1-5, 4:2).

Deuteronomy, chapters 28-31

“But if you will not listen to the voice of Jehovah your God […] Jehovah will cause the disease to cling to you…”

~Deuteronomy 28:15,21

Did God punish Israel’s unfaithfulness by striking them with disease?

In isolated cases, God did intervene and directly punished some people with health problems in order to get them to change their course of action.

Examples of this are the story of Pharaoh in Abraham and Sara’s day, or the case of Miriam, Moses’s sister (Ge. 12:17; Nu. 12:9,10).

In most cases, however, the diseases the Israelites suffered were not a direct blow from God, but rather a result of bad decision-making and straying away from God’s high moral and hygienic standards (Pr. 7:21,27; Rom. 1:26,27; Gal. 6:7,8).

Another factor contributing to Israel’s physical ailments came to be the constant wars that were waged against it.

Jerusalem was besieged for several years before being burnt down by the Babylonians in 607 b.C.E. and then again by the Romans in 70 C.E.

The attacks Judea suffered fulfilled God’s warning that if his People constantly disobeyed him, he would not protect them from their enemies.

As a result, they suffered terrible famine and pestilence, just as Jehovah had warned them through Moses (De. 28:25-44).

Jesus foretold of future world-spread disease when asked about the Last Days:
“Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and in one place after another food shortages and pestilences…” (Luke 21:10,11).

Although we cannot avoid the fulfillment of these prophecies, we can be sure they point to a time when Christ does away with physical suffering, for he promised “your deliverance is getting near,” (Luke 21:28).

In the mean time, we can protect ourselves from many avoidable diseases by simply following God’s high moral and hygienic standards and living a healthy lifestyle.

Deuteronomy, chapters 11-13

“You must not worship Jehovah your God in that way. […]”You must not do as we are doing here today, with everyone doing whatever is right in his own eyes,”

~Deuteronomy 12:4,8

Many people take on the philosophy that God accepts all forms of worship as long as they’re sincere, that ‘all paths lead to the same destination.’
That idea is not taught in God’s Word.
While sincerity is an important aspect of true worship, it is not the only one (John 4:24).
Those wishing to serve and worship God have always had to meet a certain level of requirements.
We can see this since the story of Cain and Abel all the way up to prophecies pointing toward a coordinated worldwide preaching work in the book of Revelation (Ge. 4:3-7; Re. 14:6,7).
Since these “preaching” prophecies pertain to the last days and are currently being fulfilled, it is more urgent than ever to “seek Jehovah your God wherever he chooses to establish his name and his place of residence and go there,” (De. 12:5).
This implies regularly attending Christian meetings and heeding the Scriptural advice learned there (He. 10:24,25).

Numbers, chapters 26-29

These were the ones registered by Moses and Eleazar the priest when they registered the Israelites in the desert plains of Moab by the Jordan at Jericho. But among them there was no one who had been registered by Moses and Aaron the priest in the census of the Israelites taken in the wilderness of Sinai.
~Numbers 26:63,64

After 40 years of roaming the desert, the amount of male Israelites had actually decreased instead of increased.

The previous generation of males had been kept out of the Promised Land because of their lack of faith, and they had all died out except for Joshua and Caleb (Nu. 14:30; 26:65).

Upon once again reaching the verge of entering the Promised Land, Jehovah commanded Moses and the new High Priest, Eleazar to take a second census.

So we are able to clearly see the effect the trials in the desert had on Israelite families.

Tribe 1st Census 2nd Census
Reuben 46,500 43,730
Simeon 59,300 22,200
Gad 45,650 40,500
Judah 74,600 76,500
Isachar 54,400 64,300
Zebulun 57,400 60,500
Manasseh 32,200 52,700
Ephraim 40,500 32,500
Benjamin 35,400 45,600
Dan 62,700 64,400
Asher 41,500 53,400
Naphtali 53,400 45,400
Total 603,550 601,730

Those trials included:

  • Israel being defeated by the Amalekites when they tried to conquer the Promised Land against God’s orders (Nu. 14:39-45)
  • Some Israelites rebelling alongside Korah against Moses’s leadership and then being miraculously executed by God (Nu. 16:20-50)
  • Many Israelites growing weary and complaining about being liberated, and then being punished with venomous snakes (Nu. 21:4-9)
  • Fornicating and tainting true worship through the young men’s association with Moabite women (Nu. 25:9)

One can only wonder what habits led some families such as the ones composing the tribe of Simeon to drastically drop to less than half of its original members while other families, such as the ones belonging to the tribe of Manasseh, increased its members by 64%.

Was it their predominant attitude? Were their household heads more inclined to support and collaborate with Moses? Did they value the privilege of forming a people to represent God more than the other tribes? Did the males organize worship in a constant, regular way? Did the knowledge that the older generation had that it was not going to enter the Promised Land not deter it from doing all it could to support its children’s future?

Today, we are living in the last days (Matt. 24:3-14; 2 Tim. 3:1-5).

Still, many grandmothers and grandfathers who have spent their lives working in favor of Jehovah’s interests may not make it alive into the promised New World (2 Pet. 3:13).

It is inspiring to see their self-sacrificing, restless effort which greatly benefits the spiritual well-being of their families and congregations.