Do You Recognize the Meaning of What You See?
NO ONE wants to be misled. And yet so many people today seem to have been led astray.
It is noteworthy that in giving part of the “sign” of the “conclusion of the system of things,” Jesus Christ warned against being misled. He said: “Many false prophets will arise and mislead many.” (Matt. 24:11) Who did he have in mind?
Discontent with older religions has brought about the establishment of new, less orthodox ones, particularly in our 20th century. Thousands of distinct religious groups lay claim to being true guides. And ever more persons, finding none to suit their taste, start their own.
At least some of the religious groups seen in the accompanying chart have most likely been founded during your lifetime. They, and thousands of other religions, have attracted millions of members.
Not every religious “prophet” is of necessity a guide for good, however, regardless of how many people follow him. This is well illustrated by what happened in Jonestown, Guyana, in 1978. Over 900 persons, most of them belonging to the sect Peoples Temple, committed mass suicide at the direction of their leader, Jim Jones.
Since the Bible speaks about only “one faith,” all of today’s religious groups outside this one true faith must, according to this standard, be counterfeits, composite “false prophets.” (Eph. 4:4-6; Matt. 24:11) And there are more of them now than ever before.
Political leaders often end up being “false prophets” unable to fulfill their promises. Of course, not every ruler turns out to be a “Hitler,” whose promised “thousand-year reich” proved to be a disastrous 12 years of misrule. The danger that one will be a “false prophet” increases, however, in direct proportion to their number. And that number is increasing—rapidly.
A very prominent political “prophet” of our present century was the League of Nations, formed in 1919. It foretold a world of lasting peace. But World War II unceremoniously dumped it into a pit of inactivity. It was replaced in 1945 by the United Nations organization, which doubtless is trying to prevent the outbreak of an atomic World War III. But has it truly ‘maintained international peace and security,’ as its charter prophesied?
In Personal Matters
The wide variety of views found in religious and political persuasions can also be found in matters of a more personal nature. Self-appointed “prophets” have promised a happier future to those adhering to their gospel of permissive child training, new morality and drugs.
But Dr. Benjamin Spock, himself a former proponent of permissive child training, later admitted that it was a mistake. The German Philological Association now agrees, saying that such permissiveness “is at least indirectly responsible for the problems we now have with young people.”
Of the new morality, author Barbara Seaman says: “The backlash is against casual sex.” Why? “Because a lot of people were hurt,” she explains.
Despite former Harvard professor and “LSD apostle” Timothy Leary’s promise that LSD and similar drugs would open up “a better road to happiness,” the World Health Organization writes in its official journal: “Attempts have been made to surround LSD with an intellectual aura, but it still remains a drug with frightful effects . . . Some scientists suggest that chromosome damage can result . . . the risk of mental illness is even greater . . . [LSD has] gone hand in hand with violence, murder and suicide.”
A Swiss writer recently blamed today’s new life-style, which places so much emphasis on personal freedom, as being responsible for “a noticeable increase in narcissist neuroses and narcissist personality disturbances.” He said: “Patients complain of inner emptiness and of paralyzing boredom, about inability to work and of massive anxiety.” Does this sound like happiness? Or are people being misled by “false prophets”?
What Does It Mean?
As mentioned earlier, the founder of Christianity, Christ Jesus, foretold that part of the “sign” of the “conclusion of the system of things” would be that “many false prophets will arise and mislead many.” (Matt. 24:3, 11) Evidently, in view of Mt 24 verses 5, 23 and 24 of this same chapter, Jesus chiefly had religious and political “false prophets” in mind. The principle involved, however, also fits other persons—“prophets” disseminating supposedly Messiah-like counsel in the more personal matters of life.
Every generation has had its share of “false prophets.” So their mere existence today does not prove that we are living in the time of the end of this system of things. But the rapid increase in their number and in the number of persons they are misleading, along with the fulfillment of all the other things Jesus foretold for our day, does! Never before have so many religious leaders, political rulers and counselors striven to give people guidance. And never before have so many people been misled.
Jesus was no false prophet. He foretold exactly what you are seeing today: manifold evidences, including that of “many false prophets,” that the end of this wicked system of things is indeed near. He pinpointed our particular “generation” by adding the words: “Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.” (Matt. 24:34) “All these things” includes the fulfillment of the early part of Jesus’ prophecy: “And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.”—Matt. 24:14.
[Chart on page 15]
(YEAR FOUNDED) MEMBERSHIP
THE UNIFICATION CHURCH (1954) 2,000,000
THE CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY (1954) 20,000,000
TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION CHURCH (1958) 2,000,000
DIVINE LIGHT MISSION (1960) 8,000,000
HARE KRISHNA (1966) 7,000
THE CHILDREN OF GOD (1969) 70,000