This was the special talk delivered world wide in the congregations on Sunday. I took some notes and will re-create as much of the speech as I can from them. My knees were hurting a lot and my hands were not working brilliantly, so please don't expect a brilliant re-creation of it - just the general idea.
The speaker started by quoting 2 Peter 3:4: "Where is this promised presence of his? Why, from the day our forefathers feel asleep in death, all things are continuing exactly as from creation's beginning."
Are there times when we feel like that?
He commended our continuing faithfulness, shown in the Memorial attendance on the 5th which showed how much we appreciate the love that Jehovah and Jesus show for us. "But God recommends his own love to us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." - Romans 5:8
The speaker then talked about the sign that Jesus gave to his followers when he asked them when Jerusalem and the Temple would be destroyed, and also how they could discern the time of his presence.
We read Mark 13:1-4: "As he was going out of the temple one of his disciples said to him: “Teacher, see! what sort of stones and what sort of buildings!” However, Jesus said to him: “Do you behold these great buildings? By no means will a stone be left here upon a stone and not be thrown down.” And as he was sitting on the Mount of Olives with the temple in view, Peter and James and John and Andrew began to ask him privately: “Tell us, When will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are destined to come to a conclusion?”"
(A little digression from me here. Apparently, the Jewish historian Josephus recorded that when the Romans came up against Jerusalem they had no intention of destroying the Temple - too much trouble - massive building - great big stones. They just wanted the Temple gold. However they did destroy the Temple. And that they would was also prophesied in the Hebrew Scriptures, in the 70 weeks prophecy in Daniel, which warns that after the Messiah is cut off in death "with nothing for himself", "the city and the holy place the people of a leader that is coming will bring to their ruin. And the end of it will be by the flood. And until the end there will be war; what is decided upon is desolations." Daniel 9:24-27)
We then looked at verse 8 of Mark 13: “For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, there will be earthquakes in one place after another, there will be food shortages. These are a beginning of pangs of distress." And the Speaker asked us if we are seeing this fulfilled in our days.
He discussed the number of dead from the wars of the last century. Unfortunately I didn't get all the figures down. But I have jotted down that it works out at over 100 people killed per hour round the clock for the last ninety years. How much worse can it get?
He then discussed earthquakes. I didn't get the figures down - arthritis very bad today.*
Food shortages - my notes say that 1 in 7 people do not get enough to eat.
The Speaker then read Luke 21:11: "And there will be great earthquakes, and in one place after another pestilences and food shortages; and there will be fearful sights and from heaven great signs." He then talked about "pestilences", but once again I don't have the figures down. They were chilling though.
He then spoke about the "increasing of lawlessness" that the Christian Greek Scriptures warn about at the time of the end. He defined it as an increasing disregard for God's laws and principles. I have certainly seen that in my lifetime. And Biblical standards on sexual morality are becoming more and more Politically Incorrect by the day.
We then read 2 Corinthians 5:20: "We are therefore ambassadors substituting for Christ, as though God were making entreaty through us. As substitutes for Christ we beg: “Become reconciled to God"". And the Speaker pointed out that we don't know for how much longer this offer of becoming reconciled with God will be held out.
What must we do? 2 Peter 3:11,12 says: "Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion, awaiting and keeping close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah, through which [the] heavens being on fire will be dissolved and [the] elements being intensely hot will melt."
We must keep this day in mind - every day. And we must all ask ourselves this: Do I really believe that the time left is reduced? What does my way of life show?
The Speaker then read Revelation 22:17: "And the spirit and the bride keep on saying: “Come!” And let anyone hearing say: “Come!” And let anyone thirsting come; let anyone that wishes take life’s water free."
We then heard an experience of a Jamaican brother who, until he accepted the invitation to "take life's water free", led a violent and immoral life, financing his lifestyle by robbery. His mother began to study with the local JW congregation, and he was impressed by the changes he saw in her. And he began to study the Bible himself.
The Speaker then made a plea to all those who have become inactive, reminding them how precious they are to Jehovah, what a high price he has paid for them - how much he wants them back.
"For you were like sheep, going astray; but now you have returned to the shepherd and overseer of your souls." - 1 Peter 2:25
"I have wandered like a lost sheep. O look for your servant, For I have not forgotten your own commandments." - Psalm 119:176
There can be various reasons for no longer attending meetings or doing the preaching work. One is that we may have been stumbled by the failings of others. We may have been badly hurt and it isn't easy to forgive and forget.
The Speaker then read Jeremiah 33:8: "And I will purify them from all their error with which they have sinned against me, and I will forgive all their errors with which they have sinned against me and with which they have transgressed against me."
He once again reminded us how precious we are to Jehovah, and asked us what we would do if we had a precious vase in our house that had become stained. Would we just throw it away - or would we carefully and patiently restore it?
We can work hard to get rid of any bitterness towards any of our brothers. And the Speaker then discussed the experience of a brother who came back after being inactive for 25 years. He said what a warm welcome he got from the congregation.
The speaker then reminded us about the constant attacks from Satan, who, the Bible tells us, is the ruler of this present world system of things. We read Jesus' words at Matthew 11:28: "Come to me, all you who are toiling and loaded down, and I will refresh you." We can find true relief from all these pressures within the Christian congregation.
Jehovah is using his annointed servants to remind us all that it is much later than we think. So we must support the whole association of brothers, be zealous in the preaching work, and pay more than the usual attention to God's word.
Our closing Scripture was Luke 21:34-36: “But 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. For it will come in upon all those dwelling upon the face of all the earth. Keep awake, then, all the time making supplication that you may succeed in escaping all these things that are destined to occur, and in standing before the Son of man.”
An ever more urgent warning is being sounded worldwide. It is later than we think.
*While typing this talk I am hearing news of a double earthquake off Banda Aceh. I can only hope and pray the people there are not going to suffer the horror of another tsunami.