Why Such Eager Expectation of the New World?
The World’s End—How Near?
WHAT does it mean for this world to end? Destruction of the earth by fire, as some religions teach? No; how could that be, when Psalm 104:5 states: “It will not be made to totter to time indefinite, or forever?”
The answer is revealed when we look back many centuries to a world that preceded this one. It had become corrupt and had rebelled against God, so “the world of that time suffered destruction when it was deluged with water.” But when that world, consisting of both heavens and earth, was destroyed by the Flood of Noah’s day, the literal heavens and earth did not pass away. Neither will this world’s end mean fiery destruction for the starry heavens and planet Earth.—2 Peter 3:5, 6; Genesis 6:1-8.
At times the Bible uses the terms “heavens” and “earth” in figurative ways. “Heavens” may be used to mean Satan, the god of this world; world rulers under his control; and wicked spirit forces in heavenly places—all of which exercise demonic influence over mankind. (2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 6:12) “Earth” is frequently used to refer to the peoples on the earth. (Genesis 11:1; 1 Kings 2:1, 2; 1 Chronicles 16:31; Psalm 96:1) It is these symbolic heavens and earth of this present wicked world that 2 Peter 3:7 says are to be destroyed by “fire.”—Galatians 1:4.
Peter then gives the joyful news that this old world will be replaced by a new one: “There are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.”—2 Peter 3:13.
A New World Without Tears or Death
Peter’s declaration that righteousness would dwell in that new world is welcome news, but what John adds concerning it makes one absolutely ecstatic! Of it he says at Revelation 21:3, 4: “With that I heard a loud voice from the throne say: ‘Look! 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.’”
Rather than destroy the earth by fire, Jehovah purposes that it be inhabited forever: “This is what Jehovah has said, the Creator of the heavens, He the true God, the Former of the earth and the Maker of it, He the One who firmly established it, who did not create it simply for nothing, who formed it even to be inhabited.”—Isaiah 45:18.
Righteousness will dwell there because no unrighteous persons will be there: “The upright are the ones that will reside in the earth, and the blameless are the ones that will be left over in it. As regards the wicked, they will be cut off from the very earth; and as for the treacherous, they will be torn away from it.”—Proverbs 2:21, 22.
Under inspiration the psalmist David also testifies to this: “Just a little while longer, and the wicked one will be no more; and you will certainly give attention to his place, and he will not be. But the meek ones themselves will possess the earth, and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.”—Psalm 37:10, 11.
Jesus himself confirms this, saying in his Sermon on the Mount: “Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth.” As their government, these meek ones will be blessed with the righteous new heavens they pray for: “Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.”—Matthew 5:5; 6:10.
The exquisite peace the inhabitants of that new world will enjoy extends even to the animal realm: “The wolf will actually reside for a while with the male lamb, and with the kid the leopard itself will lie down, and the calf and the maned young lion and the well-fed animal all together; and a mere little boy will be leader over them. . . . They will not do any harm or cause any ruin in all my holy mountain; because the earth will certainly be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah as the waters are covering the very sea.”—Isaiah 11:6-9.
If you are inclined to dismiss all of this as pie in the sky, too good to be true, pause again and reflect. In addition to the features of the composite sign of Christ Jesus’ presence, there is Bible chronology that pointed to 1914 as the beginning of his presence. Jehovah’s Witnesses published the date 1914 as a significant year in the development of Jehovah’s Kingdom rule of the earth, doing so in the Watch Tower magazine of July 1879. Many historians and observers of world affairs have noted that the year 1914 ushered in an entirely different and significant period in human history, as the accompanying box indicates.
Another event that Jesus gave is found at Matthew 24:21, 22: “Then there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again. In fact, unless those days were cut short, no flesh would be saved; but on account of the chosen ones those days will be cut short.”
Jesus also indicated that this composite sign would be completed during the life of the generation that saw it begin in 1914. At Matthew 24:32-34, he said: “Now learn from the fig tree as an illustration this point: Just as soon as its young branch grows tender and it puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. Likewise also you, 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.”
To see this old world—with all its wars, famines, diseases, and deaths—over and done with will be a cause for rejoicing. To see it replaced by Jehovah God’s new world of righteousness—bringing an end to mourning, tears, sickness, and death—will give cause for endless celebration and joy and everlasting praises to Jehovah God, the Grand Creator and Universal Sovereign.
With this prospect ahead, no wonder many have such eagerness for Jehovah’s new world of righteousness to hurry up and replace this old one filled with sorrow, crime, sickness, and death! No wonder their eagerness is so great that they are prone to set early dates for its arrival! Now, however, there are not just bits and pieces of the sign of its incoming to tempt us into sounding false alarms. Now we can see the complete composite sign unfolding to give solid foundation for our eager expectation of this wicked world’s end and Jehovah’s new world to supplant it.
[Box on page 11]
1914—A Turning Point in History
EVEN after a second world war, many refer to 1914 as the great turning point in modern history:
“It is indeed the year 1914 rather than that of Hiroshima which marks the turning point in our time.”—René Albrecht-Carrié, The Scientific Monthly, July 1951.
“Ever since 1914, everybody conscious of trends in the world has been deeply troubled by what has seemed like a fated and predetermined march toward ever greater disaster. Many serious people have come to feel that nothing can be done to avert the plunge towards ruin.”—Bertrand Russell, The New York Times Magazine, September 27, 1953.
“The modern era . . . began in 1914, and no one knows when or how it will end. . . . It could end in mass annihilation.”—The Seattle Times, January 1, 1959.
“The whole world really blew up about World War I and we still don’t know why. . . . Utopia was in sight. There was peace and prosperity. Then everything blew up. We’ve been in a state of suspended animation ever since.”—Dr. Walker Percy, American Medical News, November 21, 1977.
“In 1914 the world lost a coherence which it has not managed to recapture since. . . . This has been a time of extraordinary disorder and violence, both across national frontiers and within them.”—The Economist, London, August 4, 1979.
“Everything would get better and better. This was the world I was born in. . . . Suddenly, unexpectedly, one morning in 1914 the whole thing came to an end.”—British statesman Harold Macmillan, The New York Times, November 23, 1980.
[Picture on page 10]
Exquisite peace for all in the promised new world