Pestilence—A Sign of the End?
DO THE pestilences of our day suggest that the end of the world is near? Before we answer that question, let us consider what is meant by the expression “the end of the world.”
Many people believe that the end of the world means that God will destroy the earth and all life on it. However, God’s Word says that he “formed [the earth] even to be inhabited.” (Isaiah 45:18) His purpose is to fill the planet with healthy, happy people anxious to conform to his righteous standards. So the end of the world does not mean the end of the earth and all its inhabitants. Rather, it means the end of the present system and of those in it who refuse to do God’s will.
This was shown by the apostle Peter, who wrote: “The world [of Noah’s day] suffered destruction when it was deluged with water.” When the world was destroyed in Noah’s time, it was the wicked who perished. The earth remained and so did righteous Noah and his family. As Peter next says, God will act again in the future to bring about the “destruction of the ungodly men.”—2 Peter 3:6, 7.
Other Bible texts consistently support this view. For example, Proverbs 2:21, 22 states: “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.”—See also Psalm 37:9-11.
Pestilences and the End of the World
But when will this happen? Four of Jesus’ disciples put that question to him. They asked: “What will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things [or, as some Bible translations say, “the end of the world”]?” Jesus answered: “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be food shortages and earthquakes in one place after another.” (Matthew 24:3, 7) In the parallel account at Luke 21:10, 11, Jesus added: “There will be . . . in one place after another pestilences . . . , and there will be fearful sights and from heaven great signs.”
Notice that Jesus did not say that pestilences alone would show that the end was near. Rather, he also listed great wars, earthquakes, and food shortages. In his detailed prophecy found at Matthew 24 and 25, Mark 13, and Luke 21, Jesus foretold many other things that were to occur. All of them would have to occur together before God would take action to bring an end to wickedness on earth. The evidence is strong that we are now living in that period.
The Paradise to Come
The future will not see the annihilation of humanity, either by pestilence or by the hand of God. Jehovah God promises to transform this earth into a paradise. (Luke 23:43) Among other things, he will eliminate the diseases that plague humankind.
We are assured of this when we consider the ministry of Jesus Christ, who reflected his Father’s qualities perfectly. Empowered by his heavenly Father, Jesus healed those who were lame, maimed, blind, or dumb. (Matthew 15:30, 31) He also cured those afflicted with leprosy. (Luke 17:12-14) He cured a woman who was hemorrhaging, a man with a withered hand, and a man with dropsy. (Mark 3:3-5; 5:25-29; Luke 14:2-4) He restored to health “epileptic and paralyzed persons.” (Matthew 4:24) On three occasions he even raised the dead!—Luke 7:11-15; 8:49-56; John 11:38-44.
These miraculous cures give substance to God’s promise that in the future of his making, “no resident will say: ‘I am sick.’” (Isaiah 33:24) Never again will pestilence rob people of health and life. How thankful we can be that our loving Creator has both the ability and the will to wipe out sickness and disease completely, forever!—Revelation 21:3, 4.
[Pictures on page 9]
Jesus was empowered by God to heal the sick
[Picture on page 10]
In the coming earthly Paradise, Jehovah will wipe out sickness and disease