World Destruction First—Then World Peace
1-3. (a) What is the world destruction that human leaders are warning about? (b) Why is that not what the Bible refers to us the world destruction that will pave the way for lasting peace and security on this earth?
ACCORDING to Bible prophecy, before mankind can ever enjoy enduring peace, a world destruction must first take place. Why should that be? From what source is the destruction foretold to come? And with what results for humans on this planet?
2 We should first recognize that the world destruction the Bible foretells is not the same as the global catastrophe that certain world leaders, scientists and others are warning about. The calamity they talk about would come in the form of widespread famine, pestilence, pollution or nuclear war or some combination of these. But such a catastrophe would never pave the way for lasting peace and security on this planet. Why not?
3 Because it would either ruin the planet entirely for all living creatures, as by radiation pollution through an all-out war, or it would leave as survivors persons who would be no better—if not possibly worse—than those who would die. Survival would be largely a matter of chance, though the poor would seem likely to be among the first to suffer. What sure hope would you have of being among the survivors of such a world catastrophe? Even if you were among those surviving, what hope could you have that life would not drift back into the same strife-ridden uncertainty that now prevails?
WHAT THE BIBLE FORETELLS GIVES HOPE
4. Who are to be destroyed in the world destruction of which the Bible speaks?
4 The world destruction the Bible foretells is to be selective, purposeful. It is not some calamity that comes just as “the culmination of man’s timeless errors.” Rather than bring death to just anyone indiscriminately, it will cleanse the earth of those who really deserve destruction, who bear responsibility for the bad conditions on earth. It will harmonize with the divine principle at Proverbs 2:21, 22:
“For 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.”
5, 6. (a) What will happen to the earth itself during that world destruction? (b) In this respect, how will it be “just as the days of Noah were”?
5 What, then, will be destroyed? Many think the Bible predicts the total burning up of the planet Earth and everything on it. But this is not the ease. Jesus Christ himself said: “Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth.” (Matthew 5:5) Surely that ‘inheritance’ is not to be a burned-up, lifeless cinder! The Bible also gives God’s definite assurance that the earth will remain forever as a place for people to live.—Psalm 104:5 [103:5, Dy]; Isaiah 45:18; Matthew 6:9, 10.
6 In harmony with this, the Bible speaks of the survivors who will remain on earth after that destruction has passed. (Revelation 7:9, 10, 13, 14) Jesus Christ said that “just as the days of Noah were, so the presence of the Son of man will be.” When global destruction took place in Noah’s time there were also survivors.—Matthew 24:37; 2 Peter 2:5, 9.
7. What is it that will come to its end at that time?
7 What is to be destroyed, then, is the worldwide system of things that men have built up on earth—along with all those who uphold it rather than looking to God and his promised rule for the earth. (Psalm 73:27, 28 [72:27, 28, Dy]) That is why, instead of the phrase “the end of the world,” found in some translations of the Bible, other translations more accurately render the original-language (Greek) expression as “the end of the age” (NE), “the conclusion of the age” (Ro), “the conclusion of the system of things” (NW).—Matthew 24:3.
8. (a) From what source will the destruction come? (b) This must occur before the present world system reaches what state?
8 The source of the coming world destruction will be—not men—but Jehovah God. The modern crises of pollution, famine and similar things that have resulted from human ignorance, error and corruption are not what will cause the destruction. Instead, these are proof of the selfishness and utter failure of the present world system. They provide just cause for Jehovah God to do away with that system completely. He promises to take such action before ever the present world system reaches a state of collapse or carries out its own self-destruction. (Revelation 11:17, 18) But is such drastic action really the only way?
WHY THIS WORLD SYSTEM MUST END FOR TRUE PEACE TO COME
9, 10. How does human history show that something more drastic is needed than just a reform of the present world system?
9 It might seem to some that God could simply make some changes in the present world system, rather than totally destroying it. But the Bible shows that God realistically recognizes that this world system of things is beyond reform.
10 Consider for yourself the hundreds of changes that have been made by humans down through the centuries. Think of all the different kinds of government that men have developed—city-states, monarchies, democracies, communistic and socialistic governments, even dictatorships. Remember how often the existing ruler, or the entire government, has been deposed and replaced with a new one—by election, by coup d’etat, by revolution—but with no lasting solution to the problems of mankind. Even well-meaning men who try to improve man’s lot find their efforts blocked by the world system into which they themselves are locked. As a wise ruler of ancient times discovered, by human efforts alone “that which is made crooked cannot be made straight.”—Ecclesiastes 1:14, 15.
11-13. (a) What prevents men from making changes in the present system for the good of all mankind? (b) So, how might the extent of the change needed be illustrated?
11 The world’s cities, for example, are plagued with problems, but men cannot dismantle them and start afresh. The same is true of the whole economic and industrial systems of the world. Self-interest and nationalism undermine and block any real change for the good of mankind as a whole.
12 The entire world system is thus like a house built on a bad foundation from poor plans and with defective materials. What good will it do to rearrange the furniture or to repair or remodel the house? As long as it stands, the problems will continue and the house will keep deteriorating. The only sensible thing to do is to tear it down and build another, on a good foundation.
13 Jesus Christ used a somewhat similar illustration in saying that people do not “put new wine into old wineskins.” The old wineskin would burst from the new wine. (Matthew 9:17) He therefore did not try to reform the Jewish system of things under which he lived, but preached God’s kingdom as the only hope for peace and security. (Luke 8:1; 11:2; 12:31) So, too, in our day Jehovah God will not simply dress up or adjust the present world’s system, because that could bring no lasting benefit.
14. Would the passing of new laws make people love righteousness?
14 God’s Word emphasizes the truth that it is impossible to legislate righteousness into people’s hearts. If they have no love for what is right, no amount of legislation will ever put it there. At Isaiah 26:10 we read: “Though the wicked one should be shown favor, he simply will not learn righteousness. In the land of straightforwardness he will act unjustly and will not see the eminence of Jehovah.”—Compare Proverbs 29:1.
15, 16. How is the lack of true love for righteousness on the part of many people shown in their response to God’s will?
15 The hard fact is that many people prefer to stay with this present system despite its failures and evils—rather than turn to righteousness and submit to rule from God. Though seeing the corruption and deception of its political systems, the futility of its wars, the hypocrisy of the world’s religions and the clear evidence that its scientific technology has created even greater problems than it has solved—despite all this, many refuse to look to God and his kingdom as the true source of peace and security. They are like the Israelites of whom God said: “The prophets themselves actually prophesy in falsehood; and as for the priests, they go subduing according to their powers. And my own people have loved it that way; and what will you men do in the finale of it?”—Jeremiah 5:31; Isaiah 30:12, 13.
16 Although you may find this difficult to understand, you yourself have seen how persons will ignore all evidence that a certain course is ruinous. You have doubtless seen persons who keep up certain practices or habits that they know are endangering their own health and security and that of their families, and they resist all human efforts to help them change. But when persons resist God’s counsel and guidance, this becomes far more serious. Persons who do this show that they really do not love truth and righteousness. Hence the Bible says about such ones: “For God’s wrath is being revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who are suppressing the truth in an unrighteous way . . . For his invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship, so that they are inexcusable.” (Romans 1:18-20) Of similar ones, Jesus Christ said: “For the heart of this people has grown unreceptive, and with their ears they have heard without response, and they have shut their eyes; that they might never see with their eyes and hear with their ears and get the sense of it with their hearts and turn back, and [God] heal them.”—Matthew 13:15.
17. If it is true that God does not take pleasure in bringing destruction on mankind, why is he going to do it?
17 Rightly, God’s patience and mercy have their limits. If not, where would his love for the righteous ones be? He cannot turn a deaf ear to their pleas for relief from the suffering that wickedness brings upon this earth. (Luke 18:7, 8; Proverbs 29:2, 16) So, the circumstances require world destruction; they oblige God to do so if he is to remain true to what is right and just and is to show compassion for those who also love what is right. Yet it is not a case of God’s taking pleasure in bringing destruction upon mankind. As he says: “‘Do I take any delight at all in the death of someone wicked,’ is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, ‘and not in that he should turn back from his ways and actually keep living?’ . . . ‘So cause a turning back and keep living, O you people.’”—Ezekiel 18:23, 32.
18. What is the price that must be paid to redeem from insecurity the people who love what is right?
18 The destruction of those staying with this present world system, then, is the price that must be paid to redeem from insecurity and suffering those who love what is right. This is in harmony with the Bible principle: “The wicked is a ransom for the righteous one.”—Proverbs 21:18; compare Isaiah 43:1, 3, 4.
19. What barriers to world peace will be removed by the destruction of this system of things?
19 What will result from the destruction of the present world system and its supporters? This will allow for a righteous rule earth wide in which the survivors will be able to work together unitedly, not in selfish competition. Down will come divisive national frontiers and political boundaries. Down will come tariff walls and tax barriers. Gone will be the crushing burden of military spending. And gone too will be the social barriers that keep mankind from being a united family on earth. A vital factor in all this will be that all then living will speak the ‘one pure language’ of truth to one another, worshiping their Creator “with spirit and truth,” undivided by religious superstitions, traditions and man-made creeds.—Zephaniah 3:8, 9 [Sophonias 3:8, 9, Dy]; John 4:23, 24.
20. As indicated by Psalm 72, what condition will come to be earth wide?
20 With God’s government by his Son Christ Jesus exercising sole dominion over all the earth, the ancient psalm of the Bible will see a fulfillment far greater than in the days of ancient Israel: “in his days the righteous one will sprout, and the abundance of peace until the moon is no more. And he will have subjects from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.”—Psalm 72:7, 8 [71:7, 8, Dy].
21. How will the earth itself benefit from the coming world destruction?
21 Earth itself will benefit from the coming world destruction. It will no longer be marred and stained by greedy polluters and ruthless destroyers. The lakes, rivers and oceans as well as the atmosphere will gain relief from all the wastes poured into them and will soon cleanse themselves. God will thus demonstrate that he has not abandoned his original purpose to have a clean, gardenlike planet filled with people who reflect their Creator’s own splendid qualities.—Genesis 1:26-28; Isaiah 45:18; 55:10, 11.
22. How is the bringing of such destruction consistent with God’s being a ‘God of peace’?
22 So, God’s bringing world destruction is not contrary to his being the ‘God of peace,’ nor contrary to his Messianic king Jesus’ being the “Prince of Peace.” It is because of their love of peace and justice that they take this action to restore earth to a clean, righteous state.—1 Corinthians 14:33; Isaiah 9:6, 7.
23, 24. If we are to enjoy a future of peace and security, what is it vital us individually to do now?
23 As individuals, then, what can we do? Jesus Christ showed that those ignoring God’s instructions, which Jesus taught, were building their personal hopes for the future on “sand” and that such building would never endure destructive storms of adversity. He showed the vital need to build our hopes on obedience to God’s Word if we are to have a peaceful and secure future.—Matthew 7:24-27.
24 But why has God waited till now to take action to bring wickedness and suffering to an end? The Bible answers this question also and shows what God has been doing during all the centuries past in working out his purpose.