The Last Days of This Wicked System of Things
1. When did the “last days” begin, and with what event will they end?
THE Bible speaks of the time in which we are living as the “last days” or the “time of the end.” (2 Timothy 3:1; Daniel 11:40) The facts show that this is a limited period that has a definite beginning and a definite end. It began in 1914 when Jesus Christ was enthroned as king in the heavens. It will end when God destroys this present wicked system of things. What a relief it will be when the organizations and persons that cheat and oppress, and all who endanger the security of their fellowmen, are gone!
2. What did Jesus say at Matthew 24:34 as to when the “time of the end” would run out?
2 How soon will that be? God’s own Son, Jesus Christ, gives the answer. After drawing attention to the many things that mark the period from 1914 onward as the “time of the end,” Jesus said: “This generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.” (Matthew 24:34) Which generation did he mean?
3. (a) Which generation did Jesus say would not pass away before the end comes? (b) So how can we tell we are very near the end of this wicked system?
3 Jesus had just referred to persons who would “see all these things.” “These things” are the events that have taken place since 1914 and those yet to occur down to the end of this wicked system. (Matthew 24:33) Persons born even as much as fifty years ago could not see “all these things.” They came on the scene after the foretold events were already under way. But there are people still living who were alive in 1914 and saw what was happening then and who were old enough that they still remember those events. This generation is getting up in years now. A great number of them have already passed away in death. Yet Jesus very pointedly said: “This generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.” Some of them will still be alive to see the end of this wicked system. This means that only a short time is left before the end comes! (Psalm 90:10 [89:10, Dy]) So now is the time to take urgent action if you do not want to be swept away with this wicked system.
WHY A “TIME OF THE END”
4. (a) Why can we be glad that God did not immediately destroy those who were not serving him when his kingdom came to power in 1914? (b) How does the Bible, at 2 Peter 3:9, help us to view this matter properly?
4 Although the Kingdom came to power in 1914, Jehovah did not immediately destroy those who were not serving him. How glad we can be of that! For God’s long-suffering has afforded us the opportunity to take a firm stand for his kingdom, and so escape destruction. The Bible helps us to view this matter in the proper light, saying: “Jehovah is not slow respecting his promise, as some people consider slowness, but he is patient with you because he does not desire any to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance.”—2 Peter 3:9; see also Matthew 24:21, 22.
5. (a) How did Jesus describe the separating work he would do at this time? (b) What happens to those against whom judgment is executed at the conclusion of these “last days”?
5 To this end Jehovah God has allowed time for a separating work during these “last days.” In his description of the “conclusion of the system of things,” Jesus foretold this, saying: “When the Son of man [Jesus Christ] arrives in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will put the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who have my Father’s blessing, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world.’ . . . Then he will say, in turn, to those on his left, ‘Be on your way from me, you who have been cursed, into the everlasting fire [of destruction] prepared for the Devil and his angels.’ . . . And these will depart into everlasting cutting-off, but the righteous ones into everlasting life.” (Matthew 25:31-46) When judgment is executed at the conclusion of these “last days,” the ones destroyed will go into “everlasting cutting-off.” There will be no return to life by a resurrection for them. (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9) So, now, during these “last days,” God has graciously given men everywhere opportunity to choose the side of his kingdom and live.
6. (a) How is the separating work accomplished? (b) So, what must we do now if we want life under God’s kingdom?
6 How does God do this? How is the separating work accomplished? Under angelic direction God’s loyal servants throughout the earth proclaim the message of God’s kingdom so that honest-hearted persons can hear and act upon it. This is the work that Jesus foretold as part of the “sign” indicating the nearness of the end, saying: “Also, in all the nations the good news has to be preached first.” (Mark 13:10; see also Matthew 24:14 and Revelation 14:6, 7.) On the basis of their response to this message, and of their attitude toward those whom Jehovah uses as his messengers, the people are judged as to whether they will be preserved alive or not. (Matthew 25:40, 45) If you want life under the kingdom of God, it is vital to show it now by responding favorably to the Kingdom message and urging others to do the same. In the near future this preaching work will be finished. The door of opportunity will be closed. Then it will be too late!—Ezekiel 33:8, 9.
WHO WILL BE DESTROYED?
7. How does Jeremiah 25:33 describe the end of this wicked system, and how does the Bible help us to avoid being among those slain?
7 In frank terms the Scriptures reveal that, when this wicked system comes to its end, those slain by Jehovah will certainly come to be . . . from one end of the earth clear to the other end of the earth.” (Jeremiah 25:33) But you do not have to be among the slain. In his Word the Bible God clearly states what kind of persons, systems and organizations will be destroyed. Being forewarned, persons who love life, and who sincerely want to do what is right in the eyes of God, can get out of the danger zone.
8. (a) Who does God say will be destroyed? (b) What kinds of persons does God classify as wicked? Can they change their ways?
8 So, then, who does God say will be destroyed? As we might expect, it is the wicked. “When the wicked ones sprout as the vegetation and all the practicers of what is hurtful blossom forth, it is that they may be annihilated forever.” (Psalm 92:7 [91:8, Dy]) But let us not be misled by adopting the world’s viewpoint as to what is righteous and what is wicked. God plainly tells us that much of what this world views as commonplace is wicked in his eyes. Fornication, adultery and homosexuality may be tolerated by modern-day society, but those who practice such things will not be spared alive by God at the end of this system of things. Likewise, those who are liars, thieves, drunkards and murderers will be barred from the realm of God’s kingdom. (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; Revelation 21:8) Some may have become involved in such practices because of bad associations. But now, knowing what God says, it is vital for these to change their ways if they want to avoid destruction. In God’s new system there will be no place for persons who corrupt and cheat and who endanger the lives of their fellowmen.
9. (a) What will happen to religion built on falsehood, and why? (b) If we do not want to be numbered among those enemies of God, what must we do?
9 Nor will there be any organizations that mislead the people. We have already learned from the Bible that not all religion is approved by God. So it should not surprise us that religion built on falsehood will become a thing of the past. A religious organization may have beautiful buildings and colorful rituals, but if it does not teach the truth about God it really serves the purpose of the enemy of God, Satan the Devil. (1 Corinthians 10:20; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15) It may make some use of God’s Word, but if it seeks to be a part of the world by having a say in worldly affairs, then, as the Bible declares, it becomes “an enemy of God.” (James 4:4; John 15:19) Do we want to be numbered among God’s enemies? If not, it is up to us to prove to God now that we are not in sympathy with them, that we find pleasure only in the truth and that we ourselves practice worship that is “clean and undefiled from the standpoint of our God and Father.”—James 1:27.
10. (a) Why will God destroy the entire political system on earth? (b) So, with what decision are we individually confronted?
10 Also in line for destruction is the political system that has so cruelly oppressed mankind. As any study of history reveals, this system has a record of bloodshed and greedy grasping for power. Fittingly, God’s Word compares the entire political arrangement on earth to a “wild beast,” and it explains why the governments have manifested beastly qualities. It tells us that Satan the Devil, “the dragon,” has given the worldly governments their power and that they operate under his control. (Revelation 13:2; Daniel 8:20, 21; Luke 4:5-8) God makes this information available to us so that we can decide intelligently as to whether we will have anything to do with the political affairs of the world or not. God also informs us what he will do. In Daniel 2:44 he speaks of the time when “the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin.” That took place in 1914 C.E. But, as to the action that God’s kingdom will take in the near future, in the war of Armageddon or Har–Magedon, he goes on to say: “It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms [existing at the time of the end], and it itself will stand to times indefinite.”—See also Revelation 16:14, 16; 19:17-21.
11. (a) After the visible part of this wicked system has been crushed, to whom will God turn his attention? (b) How is this described at Revelation 20:1-3?
11 After Satan’s entire visible system has been crushed, Jehovah will next turn his attention to Satan the Devil, the god of this wicked system. He will crush Satan, and he will do this soon. (2 Corinthians 4:4; Romans 16:20) At the time the Devil was ousted from heaven following the establishment of the Kingdom in 1914, Satan knew that he had only “a short period of time.” (Revelation 12:12) Now that time is even shorter. Soon the prophetic vision recorded at Revelation 20:1-3 will be fulfilled: “I saw an angel coming down out of heaven with the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he seized the dragon, the original serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, . . . And he hurled him into the abyss and shut it and sealed it over him.” So Satan, together with his demons, will be taken out of the way. Their influence will be gone. This present wicked system of things, in all its parts, will have come to its end.
12. (a) Will true Christians have any part in that destruction? Whom will God use to execute judgment? (b) When persecution is directed against them, how should Jehovah’s servants respond?
12 True Christians here on earth will have no part in that destruction. It is God’s war. He will use angelic forces under Christ to carry out the execution. He will also cause one part of Satan’s visible organization to turn on the other in violent hatred. But Jehovah’s servants on earth are not to join in the violence. (2 Corinthians 10:3, 4) Even when persecution is directed against them, they must not retaliate by seeking revenge against the rulers or trying to overthrow the government. They wait on God. “Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but yield place to the wrath; for it is written: ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says Jehovah.’”—Romans 12:19.
WHAT WILL NEVER END
13. Will the earth be destroyed when this system ends?
13 The end of this system of things will not be the end for this planet earth. God’s own Word guarantees: “The earth abideth for ever.” “He has founded the earth upon its established places; it will not be made to totter to time indefinite, or forever.” (Ecclesiastes 1:4, AV; Psalm 104:5 [103:5, Dy]) It is not the earth that is at fault, but the wicked system upon it.
14. What kind of people will be gone, but who will remain?
14 Furthermore, not all human life will come to an end. “Ungodly men” will be destroyed. (2 Peter 3:7) The people who made up the unbelieving world will be gone. But, after stating this, 1 John 2:17 adds: “He that does the will of God remains forever.” It was to make this possible that Jesus Christ gave his life on behalf of mankind.—Hebrews 5:9.
15. To survive the end of this wicked system and live in God’s new system, what must we do now?
15 The marvelous prospect of eternal life under the righteous kingdom of God awaits the survivors of the end of this wicked system of things. Will you be one of them? You may well be. But, if so, you must “do your utmost” now, so that God’s Word will deeply influence your entire life. (2 Peter 3:13, 14; Romans 12:1, 2) How thankful we can be that Jehovah, in his love and mercy, has made provision for survival!
[Picture on page 95]
WITHIN ONE GENERATION
END OF WICKED SYSTEM
Increase of lawlessness.
Nation against nation.
Anguish of nations, not knowing the way out.
Disobedience to parents.
Not open to any agreement.
Men without self-control.