Are We Living in “the Last Days”?
What events in our time were foretold in the Bible?
What does God’s Word say people would be like in “the last days”?
Regarding “the last days,” what good things does the Bible foretell?
HAVE you watched the news on television and wondered, ‘What is this world coming to?’ Tragic things happen so suddenly and unexpectedly that no human can predict what tomorrow will bring. (James 4:14) However, Jehovah knows what the future holds. (Isaiah 46:10) Long ago his Word, the Bible, foretold not only the bad things happening in our day but also the wonderful things that will occur in the near future.
2 Jesus Christ spoke about the Kingdom of God, which will bring an end to wickedness and make the earth a paradise. (Luke 4:43) People wanted to know when the Kingdom would come. In fact, Jesus’ disciples asked him: “What will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?” (Matthew 24:3) In reply Jesus told them that only Jehovah God knew exactly when the end of this system of things would come. (Matthew 24:36) But Jesus did foretell things that would take place on earth just before the Kingdom would bring true peace and security to mankind. What he foretold is now taking place!
3 Before we examine the evidence that we are living in “the conclusion of the system of things,” let us briefly consider a war that no human could possibly have observed. It took place in the invisible spirit realm, and its outcome affects us.
A WAR IN HEAVEN
4 The preceding chapter in this book explained that Jesus Christ became King in heaven in the year 1914. (Daniel 7:13, 14) Soon after he received Kingdom power, Jesus took action. “War broke out in heaven,” says the Bible. “Michael [another name for Jesus] and his angels battled with the dragon [Satan the Devil], and the dragon and its angels battled.”* Satan and his wicked angels, the demons, lost that war and were cast out of heaven to the earth. God’s faithful spirit sons rejoiced that Satan and his demons were gone. Humans, however, would experience no such joy. Instead, the Bible foretold: “Woe for the earth . . . because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.”—Revelation 12:7, 9, 12.
5 Please notice what would result from the war in heaven. In his fury, Satan would bring woe, or trouble, upon those on earth. As you will see, we are now living in that time of woe. But it will be relatively brief—only “a short period of time.” Even Satan realizes that. The Bible refers to this period as “the last days.” (2 Timothy 3:1) How glad we can be that God will soon do away with the Devil’s influence over the earth! Let us consider some of the things foretold in the Bible that are happening right now. These prove that we are living in the last days and that God’s Kingdom will soon bring everlasting blessings to those who love Jehovah. First, let us examine four features of the sign that Jesus said would mark the time in which we live.
MAJOR DEVELOPMENTS OF THE LAST DAYS
6 “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom.” (Matthew 24:7) Millions of people have been killed in wars during the past century. One British historian wrote: “The 20th century was the most murderous in recorded history. . . . It was a century of almost unbroken war, with few and brief periods without organised armed conflict somewhere.” A report from the Worldwatch Institute states: “Three times as many people fell victim to war in [the 20th] century as in all the wars from the first century AD to 1899.” More than 100 million people have died as a result of wars since 1914. Even if we know the sorrow of losing one loved one in warfare, we can only imagine such misery and pain multiplied millions of times over.
7 “There will be food shortages.” (Matthew 24:7) Researchers say that food production has increased greatly during the past 30 years. Nevertheless, food shortages continue because many people do not have enough money to buy food or land on which to raise crops. In developing countries, well over a billion people have to live on an income of a dollar or less a day. The majority of these suffer from chronic hunger. The World Health Organization estimates that malnutrition plays a major role in the deaths of more than five million children each year.
8 “There will be great earthquakes.” (Luke 21:11) According to the U.S. Geological Survey, an average of 19 major earthquakes are expected per year. These are powerful enough to damage buildings and crack the ground. And on an average, earthquakes strong enough to cause total destruction of buildings have occurred yearly. Available records show that earthquakes have claimed over two million lives since 1900. One source states: “Improvements in technology have only slightly reduced the death toll.”
9 “There will be . . . pestilences.” (Luke 21:11) Despite medical advances, old and new diseases plague mankind. One report says that 20 well-known diseases—including tuberculosis, malaria, and cholera—have become more common in recent decades, and some types of disease are increasingly difficult to cure by means of drugs. In fact, at least 30 new diseases have appeared. Some of them have no known cure and are fatal.
PEOPLE OF THE LAST DAYS
10 Aside from identifying certain world developments, the Bible foretold that the last days would be marked by a change in human society. The apostle Paul described what people in general would be like. At 2 Timothy 3:1-5, we read: “In the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here.” In part, Paul said that people would be
▪ lovers of themselves
▪ lovers of money
▪ disobedient to parents
▪ having no natural affection
▪ without self-control
▪ lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God
▪ having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power
11 Have people become like that in your community? No doubt they have. There are people everywhere who have bad traits. This shows that God will soon act, for the Bible says: “When the wicked ones sprout as the vegetation and all the practicers of what is hurtful blossom forth, it is that they may be annihilated forever.”—Psalm 92:7.
12 The last days are indeed filled with woe, just as the Bible foretold. In this troubled world, however, there are positive developments among the worshipers of Jehovah.
13 “The true knowledge will become abundant,” the Bible book of Daniel foretold. When would that happen? During “the time of the end.” (Daniel 12:4) Especially since 1914, Jehovah has helped those who truly desire to serve him to grow in understanding of the Bible. They have grown in appreciation of precious truths about God’s name and purpose, the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the condition of the dead, and the resurrection. Moreover, worshipers of Jehovah have learned how to live their lives in a way that benefits them and brings praise to God. They have also gained a clearer understanding of the role of God’s Kingdom and how it will set matters straight on the earth. What do they do with this knowledge? That question brings us to yet another prophecy that is being fulfilled in these last days.
14 “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth,” said Jesus Christ in his prophecy about “the conclusion of the system of things.” (Matthew 24:3, 14) Throughout the earth, the good news of the Kingdom—what the Kingdom is, what it will do, and how we can receive its blessings—is being preached in over 230 lands and in more than 400 languages. Millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses zealously preach the Kingdom good news. They come from “all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues.” (Revelation 7:9) The Witnesses conduct free home Bible studies with millions of people who want to know what the Bible really teaches. What an impressive fulfillment of prophecy, especially since Jesus foretold that true Christians would be “objects of hatred by all people”!—Luke 21:17.
WHAT WILL YOU DO?
15 Since so many Bible prophecies are being fulfilled today, do you not agree that we are living in the last days? After the good news is preached to Jehovah’s satisfaction, “the end” is certain to come. (Matthew 24:14) “The end” means the time when God will get rid of wickedness on earth. To destroy all who willfully oppose Him, Jehovah will use Jesus and powerful angels. (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9) Satan and his demons will no longer mislead the nations. After that, God’s Kingdom will shower blessings upon all who submit to its righteous rulership.—Revelation 20:1-3; 21:3-5.
16 Since the end of Satan’s system is near, we need to ask ourselves, ‘What should I be doing?’ It is wise to continue to learn more about Jehovah and his requirements for us. (John 17:3) Be a serious student of the Bible. Make it your habit to associate regularly with others who seek to do Jehovah’s will. (Hebrews 10:24, 25) Take in the abundant knowledge that Jehovah God has made available to people worldwide, and make necessary changes in your life so that you may enjoy God’s favor.—James 4:8.
17 Jesus foretold that most people would ignore the evidence that we are living in the last days. The destruction of the wicked will come suddenly and unexpectedly. Like a thief in the night, it will catch most people by surprise. (1 Thessalonians 5:2) Jesus warned: “As the days of Noah were, so the presence of the Son of man will be. For as they were in those days before the flood, eating and drinking, men marrying and women being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark; and they took no note until the flood came and swept them all away, so the presence of the Son of man will be.”—Matthew 24:37-39.
18 Hence, Jesus told his listeners: “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 [with approval] before the Son of man.” (Luke 21:34-36) It is wise to take Jesus’ words to heart. Why? Because those having the approval of Jehovah God and “the Son of man,” Jesus Christ, have the prospect of surviving the end of Satan’s system of things and of living forever in the marvelous new world that is so close at hand!—John 3:16; 2 Peter 3:13.
For information showing that Michael is another name for Jesus Christ, see the Appendix, page 218-19.
WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES
▪ In the last days, many love themselves, money, and pleasures but do not love God.—2 Timothy 3:1-5.
▪ During these last days, the good news of the Kingdom is being preached worldwide.—Matthew 24:14.
1. Where can we learn about the future?
2, 3. What question did the disciples ask Jesus, and how did he reply?
4, 5. (a) What took place in heaven soon after Jesus was enthroned as King? (b) According to Revelation 12:12, what was to be the result of the war in heaven?
6, 7. How are Jesus’ words about wars and food shortages being fulfilled today?
8, 9. What shows that Jesus’ prophecies about earthquakes and pestilences have come true?
10. What traits foretold at 2 Timothy 3:1-5 do you see in people today?
11. How does Psalm 92:7 describe what will happen to the wicked ones?
12, 13. How has “true knowledge” become abundant in this “time of the end”?
14. How widespread is the preaching of the Kingdom good news today, and who are preaching it?
15. (a) Do you believe that we are living in the last days, and why? (b) What will “the end” mean for those who oppose Jehovah and for those who submit to the rulership of God’s Kingdom?
16. What would it be wise for you to do?
17. Why will the destruction of the wicked catch most people by surprise?
18. What warning by Jesus should we take to heart?
[Pictures on page 93]
“This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth.”—Matthew 24:14