Who Will Survive This World’s End?
THE vast majority of people living on earth today will not survive this world’s end. That becomes very plain from a study of God’s inspired Word. As Jesus said: “Broad and spacious is the road leading off into destruction, and many are the ones going in through it; whereas narrow is the gate and cramped the road leading off into life, and few are the ones finding it.”—Matthew 7:13, 14.
The idea that God might destroy millions, yes, billions of people whom he considers ungodly might be shocking to some. But keep in mind that God “does not desire any to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) No, God does not enjoy destroying even wicked people: “I take delight, not in the death of the wicked one, but in that someone wicked turns back from his way and actually keeps living.” (Ezekiel 33:11) However, God must be true to his Word and must fulfill his purpose for this earth. To do that, those whom he regards as lawless must go.
Because a world does not end every day, many do not believe that it could happen. But such persons would do well to remember that it has happened before.
When? It was at the time of the earth-wide Flood in Noah’s day. God brought to an end the entire world of people who were alienated from him. Those who died included men and women whom the Creator judged as ungodly. It also included their children, since those children were being raised to become what their parents were—ungodly. Thus, “everything in which the breath of the force of life was active in its nostrils, namely, all that were on the dry ground, died . . . , from man to beast,” the Bible informs us.
Who survived the Flood? God’s Word answers: “Only Noah and those who were with him in the ark kept on surviving.” (Genesis 7:21-23) This included Noah and his wife, their three sons and their wives, eight people, as well as representative animal kinds. Why did God look with favor upon Noah and his family? Because when God commanded them to do certain things, they obeyed. As Genesis states: “Noah proceeded to do according to all that God had commanded him. He did just so.”—Genesis 6:22; 7:5.
We can draw meaningful lessons from what happened back there. “All the things that were written aforetime were written for our instruction.” (Romans 15:4) It is therefore instructive to note that God holds humans responsible for their actions. He gave us the gift of free moral agency and requires an accounting. We cannot ignore the Creator, his purposes, and his will, and then claim exemption from adverse judgment as though God were required to favor us regardless of what our attitude or actions have been. “Do not be misled: God is not one to be mocked. For whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap.”—Galatians 6:7.
Also instructive is what happened to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Because of their gross immorality, God decreed their destruction. “The outcry against them has grown loud before Jehovah, so that Jehovah sent us to bring the city to ruin,” his agents of destruction declared. All but three persons—Lot and his two daughters—were killed. Why were they spared? Because they listened to God’s instructions and acted upon them. But Lot’s wife did not—and perished. Also killed were the two men who were engaged to be married to Lot’s daughters. Why? Because when Lot warned them of the impending destruction, “in the eyes of his [prospective] sons-in-law he seemed like a man who was joking.” But it was no joke. They died.—Genesis 19:12-14.
Similarly in our time, many mock the warning about the nearness of the end of this world. But the apostle Peter foretold that in these “last days there will come ridiculers with their ridicule.” He said that these ignored the fact that a world had ended before—in the Flood. Jesus also said: “For just 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.” He added: “So the presence of the Son of man will be.”—2 Peter 3:3-7; Matthew 24:37-39.
Thus, many will be destroyed because they choose not to pay attention to the obvious sign of these “last days.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5) However, the good news is that there will be survivors, many more than the eight humans who survived the Flood or the three who survived the end of Sodom and Gomorrah.
That there will be many survivors was foretold by the apostle John in a divine revelation. He wrote: “I saw, and, look! a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues . . . ‘These are the ones that come out of [survive] the great tribulation. . . . And God will wipe out every tear from their eyes.’”—Revelation 7:9, 14, 17.
The World’s End—When?
When will this world come to its end? The Bible does not give us a specific date. Jesus made this clear when he responded to the question his disciples asked him about it. He said that the exact time, that is, the day and hour, was not known to any human. (Matthew 24:36) However, the fact that we humans cannot calculate the exact date of this world’s end does not mean that God would not give us any information as to when it was imminent.
Many Bible prophecies mark that time. Jesus himself outlined many of the events that would take place just before the end. Then he said regarding the people who would see the beginning of those events: “When you see all these things, know that he is near at the doors. Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.”—Matthew 24:33, 34.
Which generation did Jesus mean? Without doubt, it is the generation that has lived since the year 1914. It has seen everything that Jesus said would happen just before the end. This means that some people who were alive in 1914 will still be here on the scene to witness this world’s end.—Matthew 24:1-34.
Jesus also sounded this note of urgency: “You too prove yourselves ready, because at an hour that you do not think to be it, the Son of man is coming.” That “Son of man” is Jesus himself, coming as God’s Chief Executioner.—Matthew 24:44; see also Revelation 19:11-21.
A Time for Decision
The time left for this corrupt, violent, unjust world is critically short. So each of us needs to decide whether he wants to be among the survivors.
What will determine whether a person will suffer destruction or experience deliverance? Listen to the answer given by the apostle Peter: “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.”—2 Peter 3:11, 12.
Yes, we need to pay attention to what God is saying now and do what he asks of us. If we do, then we will not go down into destruction but will be preserved alive to enter a new system of righteousness. (2 Peter 3:13) This is also made clear by the inspired words of the apostle John: “The world is passing away and so is its desire, but he that does the will of God remains forever.”—1 John 2:17.
The decision to take our stand on the side of God and his truths cannot be based just on emotion. It must be the result of accurate knowledge: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.”—John 17:3.
It also calls for us to “go on growing” in such knowledge. (2 Peter 3:18) This includes a thorough knowledge of God’s provision for survival by means of his heavenly Kingdom, now established in the hands of his World Conqueror, Christ Jesus. (Matthew 6:9, 10) It also includes our speaking boldly to others about the wonderful hope of everlasting life on earth under God’s Kingdom government. As Jesus foretold: “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.”—Matthew 24:14.
What a relief it is to know that the world’s end will not mean doom for this beautiful planet! And what a relief it also is to know that we can be among the millions who will survive into a cleansed earth!
Do you want to be numbered among the survivors? You can be if you do not follow those who are ‘taking no note’ but instead imitate Noah’s example of ‘doing just so’ regarding God’s will. If you do, God’s promise is that you may live forever on an earth that Jesus promised would become a paradise. “The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.”—Psalm 37:29; Luke 23:43; Matthew 5:5.
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Commonly Held Views Bible’s View
Earth obliterated; no survivors Certain survival for those
doing God’s will
Earth becomes useless wasteland Everlasting life on paradise
earth for all (Psalm 37:29;
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The ungodly people of Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed, but Lot and his daughters survived
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Those who do God’s will are to survive this world’s end and live forever on earth in Paradise