The Countdown Nears Its End!
IN THEIR calculations, humans all too often leave out of account the Creator of the earth and of mankind. They see the future only in terms of what human rulers and scientists predict. But long ago the Bible vividly described the events of our day as well as their outcome. Its prophecies have never been in error. So there is good reason to consider them carefully now.
In that Book, which is more widely circulated than any other on earth, is recorded what Jesus Christ described as “the signal for . . . the end of this world.” (Matthew 24:3, Phillips) This source tells us when the countdown was to begin and what its end will mean. His prophecy points, not to the destruction of planet Earth, but to the end of the present system of things. It is a prophecy of hope, not one of doom, for all mankind.
What is the “signal” that Jesus described? It is one that would stretch out over a period of years so that sincere people everywhere would have opportunity to identify it. It is made up of many events that were all to take place within the lifetime of a particular generation. Consider just a few aspects of it:
Of course, there have been many wars since Jesus spoke those words. Even today, the Center for Defense Information in Washington, D.C., estimates that, as of May 1984, four million people are fighting in 42 separate conflicts. But 1914 marked the beginning of a war unlike any other in history down to that time. It resulted in the death of twice as many troops as did all major wars from 1790 to 1913 put together!
● Deaths: 9,000,000 soldiers slaughtered; 5,000,000 civilians died in areas of actual war.
● Countries: More than 25 were embroiled in war.
● Cost: More than $337,000,000,000 (U.S.) was spent.
What about World War II? According to United States Army Brigadier General James L. Collins, Jr., it was “the most devastating war known to mankind.”
● Deaths: 16,000,000 soldiers killed; 39,000,000 civilian deaths.
● Countries: More than 50 battled.
● Cost: A staggering $1,150,000,000,000, and property damages totaled upwards of $239,000,000,000 in addition.
What would a third world war bring? The danger is complete annihilation. If we have not already seen the fulfillment of this prophecy that ‘signals’ the time foretold by Jesus, how much more is required?
The World Food Conference held in Rome in 1974 pledged eradication of world hunger by 1985. Today, the prospects seem more dismal than ever for reversing—or even checking—rapid growth in the number of the desperately hungry. “Chronic hunger remains a problem for tens of millions of people,” states The Unesco Courier, a United Nations publication. “Nearly 500 million human beings, stagnating in poverty, are under daily threat of famine.” Does it really require more than that to convince an honest-hearted person that he is witnessing the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy?
The earth shakes from more than a million quakes a year, 3,000 of them forceful enough to move the earth’s surface noticeably. Modern scientific instruments are finely tuned to note and record even the slightest quake. But Jesus foretold “great earthquakes.” (Luke 21:11) Has the frequency of these really changed? It has never required sensitive mechanisms to tell us when major quakes strike. Since 1914 the yearly average of reported severe earthquakes has soared to over 11 times what it was during the thousand years before then. Is more than that required to fulfill the prophecy?
“In one place after another pestilences.”—Luke 21:11.
“Diseases have killed or crippled more people than all the wars ever fought,” states The World Book Encyclopedia. Here are some of the most troublesome diseases and their worldwide toll each year:
● Cancer strikes 37 million.
● Chagas’ disease afflicts 10 million.
● Malaria sickens 150 million.
● Onchocerciasis (river blindness) infects 40 million.
● Snail fever pains 200 million.
● Acute respiratory infections kill at least 2 million.
● Diarrhea leads to nearly 5 million reported child deaths—an appalling rate of ten children dead every minute of every day of every year in developing lands! All of this despite the advance of medical science! Who can truthfully deny that Jesus’ reliable prophecy is undergoing fulfillment in our day?
Many other features of the ‘signal for the end of this world’ are evident. But the ones listed are sufficient to show how Bible prophecy is being fulfilled in our day.
But how much longer will the present system of things continue? The words of Jesus answer:
Which generation is this? Why, the one that saw the beginning of fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy. That means people alive in the year 1914. How many remain? Based on the most recent statistics available, in 1980 only 259 million people 65 years or older were alive.a Many of these have died since 1980. Those born around the historic year 1914 are now 70 years old, and others alive in 1914 are in their 80’s, 90’s and even a few in their 100’s. But their number is dwindling fast.
Who Understands the Meaning of 1914?
Jehovah’s Witnesses are not a new voice pointing to the meaning of these events. Not only before 1914 but also since then they have repeatedly gone on record as to the significance of that year.b For example, more than three decades ago, at their Philadelphia convention of November 22, 1947, Jehovah’s Witnesses unanimously passed a resolution that said in part:
“World events from and after 1914, beginning with the first World War, fulfill the prophecies concerning the end of this world.”
We are already in the 70th year of the ‘signal for the end of this world.’ The evidence has not faded as the years have passed. On the contrary, it has intensified and become more widespread.
Just as cities, nations and even empires have in the past had their time run out, so we have now reached the point when all nations and kingdoms are, at the same moment, having their time run out.
What will happen to the earth and the people on it when time finally does run out for this world?
a Demographic Yearbook 1981, Department of International Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations, published in New York, 1983.
b For further information regarding the significance of 1914, please see the book “Let Your Kingdom Come,” published by the Watchtower Society.
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There have been two world wars since 1914. The last one ended with the use of two small atomic bombs. Present nuclear arsenals have about a million times as much destructive capacity as the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. To convince people that Jesus’ prophecy is really being fulfilled, must there be a nuclear holocaust that wipes out the human race?
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Since 1914 the yearly average of reported earthquakes has soared. There are 11 times the number that there were, on an average, annually during the 1,000 years before that date. And 20 times the annual average for the 2,000 years preceding 1914.c Is an even greater increase needed to fulfill the prophecy?
c Earthquakes listed had to meet at least one of the following qualifications:
Magnitude 7.5 or more on the Richter scale
Deaths 100 or more
Damage $5 million (U.S.) or more in property destroyed
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The Vanishing Generation of 1914
In the United States, Great Britain and Japan, about one third of the people who were alive in 1914 died between the years 1970 and 1980.
Of all the people alive in 1914, only about 15 percent worldwide were still alive in 1980. How much time can possibly be left before ‘this generation passes away’?
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‘Men Fainting Out of Fear’—Why?
When you look at the world today, do you find the following description significant?
“There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth anguish of nations, not knowing the way out because of the roaring of the sea and its agitation, while men become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”—Luke 21:25, 26.
There was a time when the rising of the sun brought joy—a new day, with events that were happily anticipated. Now many dread what their day may bring. When the moon and stars shone, this used to be a time to relax, a time when people could go for a pleasant walk. Today it is a time when many fear to walk the streets because of muggers and rapists. Other changes in the world scene have also made the heavens take on a fearsome aspect.
The SIPRI Yearbook 1983, published by researchers at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, reports the following sobering facts:
NUCLEAR WARHEADS: The world stockpile of nuclear weapons has now reached about 50,000 warheads. According to Frank Blackaby, SIPRI director, this means that, on the average, the superpowers together have added one Hiroshima bomb to the world stockpile every 20 minutes, day and night, since the end of World War II in 1945! SIPRI predicts a world stockpile of well over 60,000 nuclear warheads early in the 1990’s. The implications of this cause many people to become “faint out of fear.”
SPACE-WAR POSSIBILITY: An increase in the militarization of outer space has taken place. The superpowers continue the development of antisatellite weapons and space-based lasers. An important military test in outer space took place in June 1982, when one superpower succeeded in having a hunter-killer satellite seek out and destroy another orbiting satellite. Since then, significant advances in military space technology have been made by both superpowers, including successful flights of space shuttles capable of carrying military payloads of 30 tons, also reusable satellite launchers, and the shooting down of a target drone by an airborne laser beam. Indeed, the heavens have taken on a fearsome aspect.
DEADLY SEAS: The number of warships has increased. Nuclear-missile-launching submarines stand at the ready in the seas with their rain of destruction just minutes away from coastlines. No city on earth is out of their range. Surely there is a “roaring” in the seas.
Despite all of this, Jesus said that his disciples would have sound reasons to ‘lift their heads up and rejoice.’ Why?—Luke 21:28-31.