What Will Happen to World Religion?
WHAT is the destiny of world religion? We can get the answer by considering two other questions: What does God think of religion? and, Is it of any value to the human race?
In view of world religion’s record, how do you think the Creator feels about what religion has done to his creation, the human family? Would you feel kindly toward someone who defiled your family and turned them against you?
Actually, world religion has proved to be false religion, with Christendom’s religions the most blamable. Their greatest crime is their defamation of God’s name, even going so far as to say, “God is dead.” They have turned their adherents away from God’s Word—how many in Christendom even know what is in the Bible? World religion has pointed to and glorified political leaders as the hope for world peace, ignoring God and his Messianic kingdom. It has led mankind to war, immorality and even atheism.
The clergy cannot make the excuse that they are not to be blamed for the bad actions of the people. Jehovah’s words to their counterpart, the Jewish religious leaders, show that they are convicted as responsible. He said: “If they had stood in my intimate group, then they would have made my people hear my own words, and they would have caused them to turn back from their bad way and from the badness of their dealings.”—Jer. 23:22.
Of No Value to Humankind
God has always known who were false “shepherds.” But he has let them continue so that “their madness will be very plain to all,” as the apostle Paul said of men who resisted the truth in his day.—2 Tim. 3:8, 9.
God is making it very clear that world religion has not represented him. Accordingly, his Son Jesus Christ warned against practicers of world religion, particularly its leaders:
“Be on the watch for the false prophets that come to you in sheep’s covering, but inside they are ravenous wolves. . . . every good tree produces fine fruit, but every rotten tree produces worthless fruit; a good tree cannot bear worthless fruit, neither can a rotten tree produce fine fruit. Every tree not producing fine fruit gets cut down and thrown into the fire. Really, then, by their fruits you will recognize those men.”—Matt. 7:15-20.
So, there is to be an accounting to God. As Jesus went on to say:
“Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will. Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name?’ And yet then I will confess to them: I never knew you! [Christ never recognized them as his representatives.] Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness.”—Matt. 7:21-23.
God Destroys World Religion
Almighty God himself will be responsible for the execution of judgment on those who have misrepresented him. Of world religion, symbolized by a harlot, the Bible says: “Her sins have massed together clear up to heaven, and God has called her acts of injustice to mind. . . . in one day her plagues will come, death and mourning and famine, and she will be completely burned with fire, because Jehovah God, who judged her, is strong.”—Rev. 18:5-8.
What will be God’s instrument in destroying this harlot-like empire of world religion? None other than her “bedfellows,” the political rulers. In the past, the religious leaders have been feared and respected, even by rulers. But they are fast losing their power even to swing their people’s votes to favored politicians.
The political rulers, seeing world religion as worthless, and badly needing the wealth it possesses, will turn on her. What will be her fate at their hands? The Bible describes it:
“The ten horns [representing the kings or rulers of the world (see Re 17 verse 12)] that you saw, and the wild beast [political organization], these will hate the harlot and will make her devastated and naked, and will eat up her fleshy parts [her structural parts] and will completely burn her with fire. For God put it into their hearts to carry out his thought.”—Rev. 17:16, 17.
And this destruction of world religion is very near, for all the elements and circumstances are present. There is the additional fact that religious leaders are hastening the action of rulers by irritating them as never before. Their rebellious speech, their meddling in political affairs, and the participation of some of them in actual sedition put them in a very bad position with the rulers. They are becoming a ‘thorn in the flesh,’ arousing the rulers’ hatred. So, imminent destruction hangs over world religion. Its fall can come any day with surprising suddenness. (Rev. 18:17, 21) Therefore God’s warning is urgent:
“Get out of her [the harlot empire], my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues.”—Rev. 18:4.
What About True Religion?
What, though, about the religion that follows God’s laws and represents him properly as Universal Sovereign? Can and will God preserve persons living according to true worship when he executes judgment on world religion?
The apostle Peter uses the example of God’s servant Lot, who was taken with divine assistance out of Sodom before God destroyed that city. Peter says: “Jehovah knows how to deliver people of godly devotion out of trial, but to reserve unrighteous people for the day of judgment to be cut off.”—2 Pet. 2:6-10; Gen. 19:15-17.
Jesus Christ spoke of the time when he would take over his power to rule. He foretold a separating work to take place on earth, a gathering together of ‘sheeplike’ persons who have love and respect for Christ and his representatives on earth. Opposite these would be gathered the “goats,” those who disrespect him.
What will happen to each group? Jesus explained: “Then the king will say to those on his right [the “sheep”], ‘Come, you who have been blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world.” He then speaks of the “goats,” saying, “These will depart into everlasting cutting-off, but the righteous ones into everlasting life.”—Matt. 25:31-34, 46.
After the End of World Religion
So, world religion will meet annihilation, to the relief and blessing of all mankind. But true religion will survive, and will fill the earth. In the last book of the Bible the apostle John describes a vision of those who will survive, saying:
“I saw, and, look! a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” “They are rendering [God] sacred service day and night in his temple; and the One seated on the throne will spread his tent over them.”—Rev. 7:9, 15.
Happy will be the lot of those survivors! They will enter a new order of peace and health. They will also enjoy the unparalleled pleasure of seeing their loved ones come back from the grave, many of whom were the victims of world religion.
John continues to describe his vision:
“And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and scrolls were opened. But another scroll was opened; it is the scroll of life. And the dead were judged out of those things written in the scrolls according to their deeds.”—Rev. 20:12.
The “deeds” are not their past misdeeds done under the influence of false religion. Such deeds are not brought back against them to condemn them again; otherwise the resurrection would be to no purpose. No, these are the deeds they do under the righteous rule, according to the “scrolls” of God’s laws then in effect.
Mankind then being freed from world religion, they will not be deceived as to who God is. They will come to know him and his ways thoroughly. The principle will hold true: “When there are judgments from you [Jehovah] for the earth, righteousness is what the inhabitants of the productive land will certainly learn.”—Isa. 26:9.
The inhabitants of earth will then take delight in living by Jehovah’s laws, for they will find that these laws work for their good.—Ps. 19:9.
Then, not divisive false religion, but the true worship of Jehovah God, which is a perfect bond of union, will prevail. (Phil. 1:27; Col. 3:14) Then it can be said: “The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples. And God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”—Rev. 21:3, 4.
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Following the end of world religion, there will be a new order of peace and health. Sorrow and even death will be no more