The Last Days—What Evidence?
“And no bells tolled and nobody wept no matter what his loss because almost everyone expected death. . . . And people said and believed, ‘This is the end of the world.’”—An Italian chronicler writing on the effects of the Black Death in the 14th century.
SINCERE persons in previous generations have mistakenly believed they were living in the last days. In the above-quoted case, it was the bubonic plague that was viewed as the sign of the end of the world. Some estimates say that it killed one third of the population of Europe. But the end did not come. It was not yet the time for God’s intervention.
So how can anyone be sure that Jehovah’s Witnesses are right in announcing the imminent end of the present world system and the extension of God’s Kingdom rule over the earth? Only by investigating their claims and comparing them with the Bible’s predictions. What, then, are the specific prophecies that outline the events marking the last days?
War, Famine, and Plague
Some of the major features of these prophecies are summed up in the famous vision of the horsemen of the Apocalypse at Revelation 6:1-8, and they are:
“A fiery-colored horse; and to the one seated upon it there was granted to take peace away from the earth so that they should slaughter one another.” Please note that the rider of this horse would take peace from the earth, not from just a few nations. Therefore, it symbolizes a time of worldwide war and slaughter. Have we seen that during the 20th century?
“A black horse; and the one seated upon it had a pair of scales in his hand.” This aptly symbolizes hunger, food shortage, and famine. Do these conditions exist in our generation?
“A pale horse; and the one seated upon it had the name Death. And Hades was closely following him. And authority was given them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with a long sword and with food shortage and with deadly plague and by the wild beasts of the earth.” Here, untimely death, whether due to war, famine, plague, or wild beast, heaps its victims into the premature grave (Hades). Have not tens of millions gone into such a grave in our time?
Along with these visions go the conditions that Jesus foretold, some of which are: “Nation will fight against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes . . . Many false prophets will arise; they will deceive many, and with the increase of lawlessness, love in most men will grow cold.” (The Jerusalem Bible) He also foretold a worldwide witness work, or preaching of the “good news of the kingdom,” before the end would come.
In addition, the Christian apostle Paul described people’s reactions, saying that during the last days “men will love nothing but money and self . . . with no respect for parents, no gratitude.” He added: “They will be men who put pleasure in the place of God, men who preserve the outward form of religion, but are a standing denial of its reality.”—The New English Bible.*
Let us remember that while Jesus’ prophecy indicates a climax in man’s history as all these events come together in the same generation, they do not require that they be greater in number or magnitude than in any previous generation, even though that might be so.
Have you seen these events and conditions during this 20th century, especially since 1914? Do you see them even now in 1988? As a reminder, let us review some of the outstanding events that have affected and are affecting mankind and answer the question, Do they indicate that the time for God’s intervention by his Kingdom is near?—Luke 21:29-33.
[Picture on page 4]
The inscription below this typical World War I memorial reads: “To the enduring memory of The Glorious Dead of the Borough of Evesham [England] who gave their lives for their Country in the Great War.”