Awaiting the “New Heavens and a New Earth”
1, 2. (a) Persons in their seventies or eighties have seen what changes in the world since the year 1914? (b) How has what they have observed matched what Jesus foretold, as recorded at Luke 21:25, 26, concerning the “conclusion of the system of things”?
A NEW and better world is at hand—as this generation nears its end. There is no room for doubt about this. By the word “world” we mean a human society living under a form of government. (Matthew 24:34; Mark 13:30; Luke 21:32) We older folks of “this generation” in our seventies or in our eighties have seen the present “world” change for the worse, steadily deteriorating since that epoch-making year of 1914 C.E. We, of all persons alive on earth today, can bear witness to the truthfulness of Christ’s prediction of the first century C.E. concerning the “conclusion of the system of things.” From the start of it in 1914 we have observed what he foretold:
2 “On the earth anguish of nations, not knowing the way out because of the roaring of the sea and its agitation, while men become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” (Luke 21:25, 26) It is a vain, desperate hope to expect the present world to improve and save itself. Righteously disposed persons long for a better world, a better human society. Happily it is at hand!
3. How have the faithful followers of Jesus Christ managed to hold to the right course, despite the deterioration of the world around them?
3 Faithful footstep followers of the Great Prophet, Jesus Christ, have done what his apostle Peter wrote and told them to do. They have paid attention to the fully assured “prophetic word” as they would do to a lamp shining in a dark place, illuminating their hearts. As the apostle Peter wrote in his second letter to fellow Christian believers: “Consequently we have the prophetic word made more sure; and you are doing well in paying attention to it as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and a daystar rises, in your hearts. For you know this first, that no prophecy of Scripture springs from any private interpretation. For prophecy was at no time brought by man’s will, but men spoke from God as they were borne along by holy spirit.” (2 Peter 1:19-21, NW; Knox) Their unswerving attention to such inspired prophecy has held them true to the right course till now. And now the new day is dawning and the daystar has risen, and their eyes are blessed with seeing the modern-day fulfillment of Bible prophecy.
4, 5. (a) As to those inspired prophecies, what does each one of us need to do? (b) What reason for doing so is given by the apostle Peter?
4 Although we have seen and experienced so many faith-strengthening evidences of the infallibility of Bible prophecies, we still need to safeguard our faith and confidence in those inspired prophecies that are not yet fulfilled or that are in course of fulfillment. This is the case even though we are living in the “last days” of this old order of things and have been since the end of the “appointed times of the [Gentile] nations” in 1914 C.E. The apostle looked ahead to those “last days” and saw good to write his second letter to warn fellow believers concerning assaults upon their Christian faith that were due to come in those perilous days. After warning of the coming of false teachers and the introducing of “destructive [religious] sects” among Jehovah’s people, Peter went on to explain the purpose of writing his second letter, saying:
5 “Beloved ones, this is now the second letter I am writing you, in which, as in my first one, I am arousing your clear thinking faculties by way of a reminder, that you should remember the sayings previously spoken by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles. For you know this first, that in the last days there will come ridiculers with their ridicule, proceeding according to their own desires and saying: ‘Where is this promised presence of his? Why, from the day our forefathers fell asleep in death, all things are continuing exactly as from creation’s beginning.’”—2 Peter 3:1-4; 2:1, 2.
6. (a) If we review “the sayings previously spoken by the holy prophets” regarding these “last days,” we will be considering prophecies given over a period of how many years? (b) Does the presence of “ridiculers” prove the prophecies to be wrong?
6 In order for us today to counteract the ridicule of the ridiculers whose arising was foretold for these “last days,” it is very urgent that we believers recall what Jehovah’s inspired prophets said, even though this was long before the appearing of these modern-time ridiculers, scoffers, mockers. All the way from the antediluvian prophet Enoch down through almost three thousand years to the postexilic Jewish prophet Malachi, Jehovah’s prophets who preceded Jesus Christ have foretold events and conditions due to mark these “last days.” (Genesis 5:18-24; Hebrews 11:5; Jude 14, 15; Malachi, chapter four) So it is really nothing unexpected that faith-destroying ridiculers should arise in these “last days” of this wicked system of things. Rather, their arising simply confirms the accuracy of the prophecies by fulfilling them.
7. (a) Who is the “Lord and Savior” to whom Peter refers? (b) Through his apostles, what “commandment” did he give, and why considerately so?
7 According to the apostle Peter, another thing to be recalled at this late date in human history is the “commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles.” (2 Peter 3:2) Jesus Christ is that “Lord and Savior” to whom reference is here made. (2 Peter 3:18) Through his chosen apostles, that is, “the twelve apostles of the Lamb,” and also the apostle Paul, he gave a commandment for all his footstep followers that they should keep continually on the watch and beware of false prophets and false Messiahs or Christs. Since he left his disciples without the knowledge of the precise day and hour that he would come again for the execution of God’s judgments upon the unfaithful and the wicked, he was very considerate in commanding them to keep themselves ready and to stay on the watch. (Revelation 21:14; Matthew 24:36-44; 25:13) They should not let the ridicule of any who have lost faith affect them.
8. When asking, “Where is this promised presence of his?” what would the ridiculers mean?
8 The ridiculers were to raise the challenging question, “Where is this promised presence of his?” Yes, they would say, what about this promise of his presence? Where is the evidence of its fulfillment?
9, 10. (a) To whose “presence” would they be referring? (b) What did the apostle Peter do to keep alive in the hearts of fellow believers the earnest expectation of Christ’s “presence”?
9 To whose “presence” would they be referring? Evidently to the “presence” of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, about which the apostle Peter spoke toward the beginning of his second letter. The apostle Peter did not expect that “presence” of Jesus Christ in his own day on earth, and yet he did not want to be negligent about keeping alive in the hearts of his fellow believers the earnest expectation of that promised presence. Hence, he wrote:
10 “So I will do my utmost also at every time that, after my departure, you may be able to make mention of these things for yourselves. No, it was not by following artfully contrived false stories that we acquainted you with the power and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, but it was by having become eyewitnesses of his magnificence. For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when words such as these were borne to him by the magnificent glory: ‘This is my son, my beloved, whom I myself have approved.’ Yes, these words we heard borne from heaven while we were with him in the holy mountain. Consequently we have the prophetic word made more sure.”—2 Peter 1:15-19; Matthew 17:1-9.
11. (a) How have wrong expectations concerning the “presence” of Jesus Christ given rise to much skepticism? (b) In the 1870’s, what did Charles Taze Russell discern concerning the second coming of Christ and his “presence”?
11 If the modern-time ridiculers have in mind a visible arrival and presence of Jesus Christ in the flesh, they are grossly mistaken. They were deceived by a misinterpretation of the prophecies such as is widespread throughout Christendom today. During the nineteenth century C.E. there were a number of predictions about the visible coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in the flesh in certain years. The failure of such predictions to materialize on the dates announced doubtless brought much reproach upon the Bible doctrine of the second coming of Jesus Christ and his “presence” as a heavenly King. It roused much skepticism, doubt, as to the validity of such a doctrine, the certainty of such a coming and presence of Christ at all. In the 1870’s Charles Taze Russell and his fellow unsectarian students of the inspired Scriptures discerned that the second coming of Christ would be invisible to human eyes, in the spirit, and that this coming would begin the period known as his “presence,” or pa·rou·siʹa (Greek).—Matthew 24:3, margin, ERV (1881).
12, 13. (a) When, according to Russell’s calculations, had Christ’s “presence” begun, but what is the correct date? (b) Who have seen the “sign” testifying to Christ’s presence beginning with 1914 C.E.?
12 According to an inaccurate chronology that had been worked out from the King James Authorized Version Bible, Russell calculated that Christ’s “presence” had begun in the year 1874 C.E., unseen to human eyes and seen only by the eye of faith. This was why, when he began publishing a new religious magazine in defense of the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ, Russell entitled it “Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.” However, events on earth since the end of the “appointed times of the [Gentile] nations” have been fulfilling Bible prophecy and prove that the promised “presence” or parousia of Christ in Kingdom power began first about October 4/5, 1914 C.E. Only since then has it been correct to speak of the invisible, royal “presence” of Christ as being in effect. We older folks of seventy or eighty years of age have seen come to reality practically all the things predicted by Jesus Christ in answer to the question submitted to him by his apostles:
13 “When will these things be, and what will be the sign of your presence [Greek: pa·rou·siʹa] and of the conclusion of the system of things?”—Matthew 24:3, NW; Rotherham; Young; Diaglott; AS, margin.
14. What has hindered those who adhere to the churches of Christendom from discerning the invisible “presence” of Jesus Christ?
14 To this day the sectarian churches of Christendom hang onto the common translation of the Greek term pa·rou·siʹa as “coming.” Expecting his coming, if expecting it at all, visibly in the flesh, they refuse to discern the invisible, spiritual “presence” of Jesus Christ in Kingdom power since the close of the Gentile Times in 1914. This has opened the way for ridiculers to ridicule the idea of Christ’s promised “presence” and to offer the reason for their refusing to believe it, saying: “Where is this promised presence [pa·rou·siʹa] of his? Why, from the day our forefathers fell asleep in death, all things are continuing exactly as from creation’s beginning.”—2 Peter 3:4.
15. (a) On what basis do the ridiculers argue that Jesus Christ has not yet returned? (b) Why are they wrong?
15 Such ridiculers see men marrying and women being given in marriage, just as from the days of Adam’s immediate family onward. They see babies being born as from Cain’s birth onward. Men continue dying, just the same as our forefathers have died. There is no stoppage of the dying process, such as is due to occur on earth after the thousand-year reign of Christ begins. There is no resurrection as yet to life on a Paradise earth, such as is promised for the earthly dead that have been ransomed by Jesus Christ. Sin as well as death continue reigning over mankind. So, to the faithless ridiculers, since as far back as their forefathers who died, all things continue exactly as from the beginning of human creation forward. So, according to their view, we are not yet in the “time of the end”; Jesus Christ has not yet made his return; he has not begun such a thing as a presence. All of this, despite all the fulfillment of Bible prophecy since 1914 C.E. that verifies his invisible presence since then. So it is only in their own minds that those ridiculers postpone the promised “presence” of the Lord Jesus Christ.—Daniel 12:4; Matthew 24:3.
16. What is the intent of the ridicule, but why does it fail to achieve its objective?
16 The foretold ridiculers of the “last days” include prominent clergymen of Christendom. The idea of the ridicule is to cast doubt upon Bible prophecy or to unsettle the faith and conviction of Jehovah’s Christian witnesses, both the remnant of spiritual Israel and the “great crowd” of loyal fellow believers. But, taking heed to the apostle Peter’s warning, these heralds of Christ’s presence in heavenly Kingdom power refuse to be upset in their faith. They rely on the inability of God’s word to fail, even if it is given in the form of prophecy or prediction of things to come. They know that when God says something by way of command, it must be done, it must occur. They believe what Psalm 115:3 says: “But our God is in the heavens; everything that he delighted to do he has done.” And since the ridiculers refer to “creation” in their argument, the faithful believers in Jehovah know that, when he was pleased to create the heavens and the earth, his expressed word came true, produced effects.
THE POWER OF THE SPOKEN “WORD OF GOD”
17, 18. (a) How do the results produced by the “word of God” in connection with creation provide a basis for confidence in the fulfillment of prophecy? (b) So, what are those who scoff with respect to the fulfillment of God’s prophetic word failing to take into account?
17 According to the account of creation as given in Genesis, chapter one, it worked out just as stated in Psalm 33:9: “He himself said, and it came to be; he himself commanded, and it proceeded to stand so.” As back there at creation, that “word of God” is just as potent today, after thousands of years. In connection with divine prophecy, that “word of God” is just as much an active cause for producing results as it was back there in creation. The ridiculers of today, who scoff with respect to the fulfillment of God’s prophetic word, cannot escape the operation of God’s expressed word for the fulfillment of prophecy about the “presence” of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In their minds they may put off, postpone, the “presence” of Christ, but their ignoring of the evidence of his “presence” will not alter matters. In trying to cast doubt upon the reliability of God’s prophetic word by their ridicule, they are leaving out of account the operational power of God’s word with respect to creation of the heavens and the earth. This is the reason for their ridicule:
18 “For, according to their wish, this fact escapes their notice, that there were heavens from of old and an earth standing compactly out of water and in the midst of water by the word of God; and by those means the world of that time suffered destruction when it was deluged with water.”—2 Peter 3:5, 6.
19. (a) To what does Peter refer by the expression “the world of that time”? (b) What were “those means” by which the world of that time suffered destruction?
19 “The world of that time,” that is, the world up to the year 2370 B.C.E., was destroyed by the “word of God” just as much as the creation of the heavens and the earth had been thus accomplished. The expressed “word of God” created the possibilities for such a global deluge, for the creation account says: “God went on to say: ‘Let an expanse come to be in between the waters and let a dividing occur between the waters and the waters.’ Then God proceeded to make the expanse and to make a division between the waters that should be beneath the expanse and the waters that should be above the expanse. And it came to be so. And God began to call the expanse Heaven. And there came to be evening and there came to be morning, a second day.” And on the fifth creative day “God went on to say: ‘Let the waters swarm forth a swarm of living souls and let flying creatures fly over the earth upon the face of the expanse of the heavens.’” (Genesis 1:6-8, 20) Those heavens and the waters above and beneath were the means that God’s word called into operation and “by those means” He deluged the “world of that time.”
20. What shows that it was really in response to the “word of God” that the global deluge came?
20 The global deluge came at the word of God, for he timed it. “After that [after the preparing of the ark of survival] Jehovah said to Noah: “Go, you and all your household, into the ark, because you are the one I have seen to be righteous before me among this generation. . . . For in just seven days more I am making it rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and I will wipe every existing thing that I have made off the surface of the ground.’” That occurred in the year 2370 B.C.E. “In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on this day all the springs of the vast watery deep were broken open and the floodgates of the heavens were opened. And the downpour upon the earth went on for forty days and forty nights. On this very day Noah went in, and Shem and Ham and Japheth, Noah’s sons, and the wife of Noah and the three wives of his sons with him, into the ark. . . . After that Jehovah shut the door behind him.”—Genesis 7:1-4, 11-16.
21, 22. (a) What was the “world” that was destroyed in the global deluge? (b) How did Jesus use what happened then as the basis for a warning that applies in our day?
21 The “world of that time” that “suffered destruction when it was deluged with water” is identified for us in 2 Peter 2:5. There we read: “He [that is, God] did not hold back from punishing an ancient world, but kept Noah, a preacher of righteousness, safe with seven others when he brought a deluge upon a world of ungodly people.” That ancient “world of ungodly people” paid no attention to how God was using Noah and his family during the time of the construction of the huge ark for flood survival. Jesus Christ used that indifference of the “world of ungodly people” toward the “word of God” as an illustration of what would be the case during this “conclusion of the system of things,” saying:
22 “Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father. For just as the days of Noah were, so the presence [pa·rou·siʹa] of the Son of man will be. For as they were in those days before the flood, eating and drinking, men marrying and women being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark; and they took no note until the flood came and swept them all away, so the presence of the Son of man will be.”—Matthew 24:36-39.
23. (a) In what way was it true that Noah “condemned the world”? (b) Does the expression “world,” in 2 Peter 3:6, include invisible spirits as a “heavens”?
23 By his course of action in faith Noah condemned that “world of ungodly people.” Noah paid attention to the spoken “word of God” and obeyed it; the “world of ungodly people” did not do so and proved deserving of being condemned to destruction. “By faith Noah, after being given divine warning of things not yet beheld, showed godly fear and constructed an ark for the saving of his household; and through this faith he condemned the world, and he became an heir of the righteousness that is according to faith.” (Hebrews 11:7) The “world” that Noah’s course of faith condemned did not include invisible spirit creatures, wicked demons. In 2 Peter 3:6 the “world of that time” that suffered destruction in the Deluge is not set off in contrast with invisible heavenly spirits, the demons, the angels disobedient to Jehovah God; and these are not there figuratively referred to as “the heavens.” The spirit demons were not destroyed by the Deluge. Ungodly people on earth suffered death.
END OF “THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH THAT ARE NOW”
24. Why is it foolish for anyone today, in this twentieth century, to scoff at the Bible account of what happened to the “world of ungodly people” in Noah’s day?
24 In the light of that destruction of the “world of that time” by the global deluge, the ridiculers of this twentieth century C.E. are acting disastrously for themselves in allowing to “escape their notice” what happened to the antediluvian “world of ungodly people” according to the “word of God.” They are acting against their own eternal interests by not remembering or by ignoring the “sayings previously spoken by the holy prophets” with respect to this time of Christ’s invisible “presence,” this “conclusion of the system of things.” (2 Peter 3:2; Matthew 24:3) Not only did the “word of God” have to do with the existence of the “heavens from of old and an earth,” then populated by the “world of that time,” but that same “word of God” has to do also with the “heavens and the earth that are now” and with which these twentieth-century ridiculers are associated. This fact should not escape the notice of those ridiculers of today who mockingly scoff at the promise of Christ’s “presence,” in order to embarrass Jehovah’s Christian witnesses.
25, 26. (a) To what time factor does the apostle Peter draw attention in warning? (b) Who had earlier made mention of such a thing, and of what should it make us aware?
25 “But,” the apostle Peter goes on to say in warning, “by the same word the heavens and the earth that are now are stored up for fire and are being reserved to the day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men. However, let this one fact not be escaping your notice, beloved ones, that one day is with Jehovah as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.”—2 Peter 3:7, 8.
26 The prophet Moses was the first man to be inspired to equate a thousand years of human existence with a twenty-four-hour day in the experience of the everlasting Creator of heaven and earth. This first such comparison is found in Psalm 90:1-4, as written by Moses, in these words addressed to the Creator: “O Jehovah, you yourself have proved to be a real dwelling for us during generation after generation. Before the mountains themselves were born, or you proceeded to bring forth as with labor pains the earth and the productive land, even from time indefinite to time indefinite you are God. You make mortal man go back to crushed matter, and you say: ‘Go back, you sons of men.’ For [in view of God’s turning sinful man back to the dust of the ground in death after such a short life-span] a thousand years are in your eyes but as yesterday [of twenty-four hours’ length] when it is past, and as a watch [of four hours] during the night.” (Note the superscription of Psalm 90.) Jehovah God inspired Moses also to speak of the seven-thousand-year-long creative period as “days.” (Genesis 1:1-31; Exodus 20:11) What is quite long in time for mortal man is infinitesimally short to the immortal God.
27. What effect did the deluge of Noah’s day have on the globe itself?
27 When God brought the global deluge in the days of Noah, he did not destroy our literal earthly globe. It survived the Flood and formed catch basins for all the water deluged upon it.
“THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH THAT ARE NOW”
28. (a) So are “the heavens and the earth that are now” a new earthly sphere with a new atmosphere, different from those that existed before the Flood? (b) How do we know that, when God created man, he did not have in mind using for destructive purposes the waters that were suspended above the earth?
28 So, when 2 Peter 3:7 speaks of “the heavens and the earth that are now,” it could not mean a new earthly sphere with a new atmospheric “expanse” around it. It is also to be noted that, in 2Pe 3 verses 5 and 6, the apostle Peter did not say that the “heavens from of old and an earth standing compactly” were stored up for water and were to be reserved for the day of judgment. God did not have such a thing in mind when he originally made the literal heavens and earth and settled man on earth. At that time God gave the perfect man and woman the opportunity to live in an earthly paradise forever without a day of judgment.—Genesis 2:17-25.
29. (a) Are “the heavens and the earth that are now” the same kind of heavens and earth as are referred to in 2 Peter 3:5? (b) So why must the “fire” referred to in verse 7 also be figurative?
29 Accordingly, “the heavens and the earth that are now” are stored up, not for waters of a global flood, but for fire and are reserved to the day of judgment and of “destruction of the ungodly men.” Evidently this means a heavens and an earth of a kind different from that of the original literal heaven and earth. This being so, then the “fire” here mentioned must be different from literal fire, hence a figurative “fire,” such as is often spoken of in the inspired Scriptures.
30, 31. (a) At Zephaniah 3:8, 9, to what kind of “fire” is reference made? (b) What reference to “fire” is found in Lamentations 2:3, 4?
30 Zephaniah 3:8, 9 speaks of such a figurative “fire” in that it says: “‘Therefore keep yourselves in expectation of me,’ is the utterance of Jehovah, ‘till the day of my rising up to the booty, for my judicial decision is to gather nations, for me to collect together kingdoms, in order to pour out upon them my denunciation, all my burning anger; for by the fire of my zeal all the earth will be devoured. For then I shall give to peoples the change to a pure language, in order for them all to call upon the name of Jehovah, in order to serve him shoulder to shoulder.’”
31 Also, after the destruction of the city of Jerusalem by the armies of Babylon in the year 607 B.C.E., the prophet Jeremiah made this lamentation concerning the action taken by Jehovah God: “In the heat of anger he has cut down every horn of Israel. He has turned his right hand back from before the enemy; And in Jacob he keeps burning like a flaming fire that has devoured all around. He has trodden his bow like an enemy. His right hand has taken its position like an adversary, and he kept killing all those desirable to the eyes. Into the tent of the daughter of Zion he has poured out his rage, just like fire.”—Lamentations 2:3, 4.
32, 33. After the flood of Noah’s day, what reassuring promise did God make, of which the rainbow is a reminder?
32 Immediately after the deluge of Noah’s day God caused the rainbow to appear and said to Noah and his family: “Yes, I do establish my covenant with you: No more will all flesh be cut off by waters of a deluge, and no more will there occur a deluge to bring the earth to ruin.” And God added: “This is the sign of the covenant that I am giving between me and you and every living soul that is with you, for the generations to time indefinite. My rainbow I do give in the cloud, and it must serve as a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. And it shall occur that when I bring a cloud over the earth, then the rainbow will certainly appear in the cloud. And I shall certainly remember my covenant which is between me and you and every living soul among all flesh; and no more will the waters become a deluge to bring all flesh to ruin. And the rainbow must occur in the cloud, and I shall certainly see it to remember the covenant to time indefinite between God and every living soul among all flesh that is upon the earth.”—Genesis 9:11-16.
33 In Isaiah 54:9 Jehovah God added this assurance: “I have sworn that the waters of Noah shall no more pass over the earth.”
“STORED UP FOR FIRE”
34. What several facts make it unreasonable to view the fire referred to in 2 Peter 3:7 as being literal?
34 Such a sworn statement against another global flood would be of little comfort to humanity if, instead, God purposed to engulf all the earth with a literal fire, to have a literal worldwide conflagration. Also, if the expression “the heavens and the earth that are now” included the stars of heaven that are visible to the human eye, what would such a literal fire do to the sun of our solar system and to all the other stars in our Milky Way and all the other galaxies that are already balls of fire of a temperature higher than fires generated here on earth? Reducing our earth to a charred cinder by a global conflagration would hardly harmonize with God’s declared purpose to convert this earth into a global paradise by his Messianic kingdom.
35. (a) What, then, is the meaning of “fire” in that scripture? (b) And what are “the heavens” that are “stored up for fire”?
35 Evidently, then, the “fire” for which the “heavens and the earth that are now” are stored up is a symbolic fire that brings about a destruction of condemned things just as efficiently as a literal fire does to combustible things. This being the case, the expression “the heavens and the earth that are now” takes on a symbolic meaning. So “the heavens” symbolize the governmental systems, the governing authorities “that are now” and to which mankind is subject. In Romans 13:1 the Christian apostle Paul calls these “the superior authorities,” saying: “Let every soul be in subjection to the superior authorities, for there is no authority except by God; the existing authorities stand placed in their relative positions by God.”
36. (a) In harmony with that, what is the “earth” that is “stored up for fire”? (b) Give a Scriptural example of such use of the term “earth.”
36 Accordingly, the “earth” that is under these heavens symbolizes the human society that is under and in subjection to the “superior authorities.” At one time, for more than a century after the deluge of Noah’s day, this human society spoke but one language. Genesis 11:1 calls attention to this, saying: “Now all the earth continued to be of one language and of one set of words.”
37, 38. (a) To what else that is high or lofty are the political governments likened in the Scriptures? (b) Illustrate this from Isaiah chapter 34 and Micah chapter 1.
37 In full keeping with the reference to the “superior authorities” as “heavens” is the Biblical likening of such political governments to “mountains.” As an example, in Isaiah 34:2-5 the Sovereign Lord God says: “Jehovah has indignation against all the nations, and rage against all their army. He must devote them to destruction; he must give them to the slaughter. And their slain ones will be thrown out; and as for their carcasses, their stink will ascend; and the mountains must melt because of their blood. And all those of the army of the heavens must rot away. And the heavens must be rolled up, just like a book scroll; and their army will all shrivel away, just as the leafage shrivels off the vine and like a shriveled fig off the fig tree. “For in the heavens my sword will certainly be drenched. Look! Upon Edom it will descend, and upon the people devoted by me to destruction in justice.” With the destruction of the armies in the coming “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon, the governments that they have supported will melt, dissolve, like mountains melting in the blood of slain armies.
38 Another picture of the dissolving of the symbolic heaven-high mountains is given in Micah 1:3, 4 in these words: “For, look! Jehovah is going forth from his place, and he will certainly come down and tread upon earth’s high places. And the mountains must melt under him, and the low plains themselves will split apart, like wax because of the fire, like waters being poured down a steep place.” When, shortly, Jehovah God the Almighty, by means of his heavenly executional forces, comes in contact with the governmental mountains of this system of things, it will be like subjecting them to incandescent heat. Their solidity will melt!
39. So what does the future hold for the “heavens and the earth that are now” and for “ungodly men,” and why?
39 So the “day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men” to which the “heavens and the earth that are now” are reserved will be, figuratively speaking, a fiery one for all the destruction that it will cause. It will be the day of the executing of divine judgments upon the entire visible system of things. Also, it will be a day for “destruction of the ungodly men,” inasmuch as they do not view and treat Jehovah God as the August One, the Universal Sovereign. They are irreverential toward Him, the Holy One.
NOT A TARDILY MOVING GOD
40, 41. Though the coming of Jehovah’s “day of judgment” may seem slow to the ridiculers, what fact about time ought to be taken into account?
40 It is “by the same word,” that is to say, “the word of God,” that the “heavens and the earth that are now” are unchangeably “stored up for fire and are being reserved to the day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men.” This is something for the modern-day ridiculers, who treat the “presence” of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as not yet in effect, to think about. That “same word” of God, which authoritatively declared the purpose for which the “heavens and the earth that are now” have been permitted to exist so long, will without fail be carried out. This will not be long now! To the ridiculers and the “ungodly men,” it may have seemed like a long time in the coming of that “day,” but for the God who is without beginning and without end, eternal, it has not been a long time. That is why the apostle Peter now says:
41 “However, let this one fact not be escaping your notice, beloved ones, that one day is with Jehovah as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. 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. Yet Jehovah’s day will come as a thief.”—2 Peter 3:8-10.
42. (a) Has God’s allowance of a seemingly long time been without concern for humankind? (b) How is ‘one day with Jehovah as a thousand years’ with man?
42 What is such a long time to men is really a short time to God. Hence, he can allow to men a seemingly long period of time in their interest. What is a “thousand years” to Him, when it is like a mere twenty-four-hour day in comparison with his eternity of existence? Conversely, one twenty-four-hour day for God is like a thousand years for men, when men consider that what would take them a thousand years to accomplish could be packed by the Almighty God Jehovah into “one day.” Dissatisfied men have for thousands of years been trying to improve this system of things or trying to overturn it for something better, but have till now been unable to do it. However, Jehovah will do it in his “day,” in the brief time period in which he will execute his judgments upon this system of things as by fire and will destroy all those who are in sympathy with it and support it. This indeed is something for the ridiculers to think about.
43. Instead of being impatient about God’s way of handling matters, to what questions ought humans to give serious consideration?
43 It betrays a lack of understanding of God’s way of handling matters, when a person says, impatiently: ‘Why has not God done something about the bad world situation before now? He ought to hurry up and do something for human relief, so that I can get the benefit of it—quick!’ The main question that such an impatient person should ask himself is: ‘Have I as yet attained to repentance toward God?’ Or: ‘Am I taking advantage of the time to help as many others as possible to attain to repentance?’
44. (a) How have God’s dealings with mankind really displayed incomparable “patience” on his part, and with what objective in view? (b) During this period of time, what has God done with a view to the salvation of as many as possible?
44 Who can rightly accuse God of being slow about his promise to cleanse this earth of wickedness and establish a lasting righteous government, when a thousand years of man’s time are as but one twenty-four-hour day to the Eternal God? He has his set day for taking action, and the day set has allowed ample time for countless numbers of men to attain to repentance. Instead of their viewing it as ‘slowness’ on God’s part, they should recognize his having set his “day” for action so far in the future from the beginning of the “heavens and the earth that are now” as incomparable “patience” on his part. This divine patience has been because He does not desire any to perish, be destroyed. So, during the thousands of years that he has allowed till his unchangeably fixed “day,” he sent his beloved Son from heaven to act as a Great Teacher on earth and to die as a ransom sacrifice for all mankind, that there might be salvation of as many as possible. (Galatians 4:4) Since that first coming of his faithful beloved Son to earth, repentance for forgiveness of sins has been preached in all the inhabited earth. For over nineteen centuries such repentance has been preached.
45. Although ridiculers do not appreciate it, how has God dealt even with them?
45 The ridiculers of today do not take advantage of the time of God’s patience in order to attain to repentance that they might not be destroyed. Although they do not appreciate it, God has acted very kindly toward them with a view to their repenting. As the apostle Paul wrote, in his inspired letter to the Roman congregation that was made up of Christianized Jews and Gentiles: “Do you despise the riches of his kindness and forbearance and long-suffering, because you do not know that the kindly quality of God is trying to lead you to repentance?”—Romans 2:4.
46, 47. (a) How has God’s patience, even since the year 1914, proved to be not in vain? (b) In Revelation 7:1-3, how is God’s self-restraint and patience pictured?
46 The patience that God has exercised during this time of the “presence” of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in Kingdom power since 1914 C.E. has not been in vain. It has allowed for and resulted in the gathering of the final remnant of spiritual Israelites and also in the gathering of the unnumbered members of the “great crowd,” who are faithful companions of the anointed remnant. The self-restraint and patience of God for the sake of those who can be induced to repent is pictured in Revelation, chapter seven. With reference to the oncoming storm of destruction world wide, the apostle John writes:
47 “After this I saw four angels standing upon the four corners of the earth, holding tight the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow upon the earth or upon the sea or upon any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the sunrising, having a seal of the living God; and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying: ‘Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until after we have sealed the slaves of our God in their foreheads.’” (Revelation 7:1-3) This was according to God’s patience.
48. (a) What has resulted from this manifestation of patience on God’s part? (b) What action is taken by those who are now coming to appreciate God’s patience, and what remarkable prospect has been set before them?
48 What was the benefit of this manifestation of patience on God’s part? The needed remnant of spiritual Israelites were sealed in their foreheads, so that there would finally be the one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed spiritual Israelites as foreordained by Jehovah God. (Revelation 7:4-8) However, more than spiritual Israelites who are to reign with Christ on the heavenly Mount Zion have been benefited by God’s patience in this “time of the end.” People with the Scriptural hope of everlasting life in an earthly paradise have been benefited. Since the momentous year of 1935 C.E., they have come out of all nations and tribes and peoples and languages and have dedicated themselves to Jehovah as their God. So they have gotten baptized in symbol of this dedication as Jesus Christ commanded should be done with those who become his disciples. Before this unlimited “great crowd” that is now forming, the remarkable prospect has been set of going through and coming out alive from the stormy “great tribulation” that brings this “time of the end” to a close. The prophetic picture, in Revelation 7:9-17, of this “great crowd” as having safely come out of the “great tribulation” now moves on to glorious realization!
THE COMING OF THE DAY OF THE LORD GOD CERTAIN
49. What will suddenly overtake men who, while counting God slow, are themselves slow in taking action for salvation?
49 Men who mistake God’s exercise of long-suffering and patience as slackness, tardiness, slowness on His part and who are themselves slow in taking action for salvation will be suddenly overtaken by destruction from God. The apostle Peter warned against such a mistaken, careless, unwise course of action by saying: “Yet Jehovah’s day [he·meʹra Ky·rıʹou, Greek; day of the Lord]a will come as a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a hissing noise, but the elements being intensely hot will be dissolved, and earth and the works in it will be discovered.”—2 Peter 3:10, NW, marginal reading.
50. In this connection, what warning is sounded with regard to clergymen who use religion as a means to exploit credulous people?
50 The day for the end of the “heavens and the earth that are now” will come without fail, for it is part of God’s declared purpose. His time for its arrival is fixed in his own timetable. Clergymen of Christendom who continue to use religion as a means to exploit credulous people will find that they are the ones slumbering and asleep to the order of events, and not God himself. “Also, with covetousness they will exploit you with counterfeit words. But as for them, the judgment from of old is not moving slowly, and the destruction of them is not slumbering.”—2 Peter 2:3.
51. Like what did both the apostle Paul and Jesus Christ say that the day of execution for divine judgment would come?
51 The coming of Jehovah’s day as a thief in the night is commented on also by the apostle Paul, when he writes to the Christians in Thessalonica, Macedonia: “Now as for the times and the seasons, brothers, you need nothing to be written to you. For you yourselves know quite well that Jehovah’s day is coming exactly as a thief in the night. Whenever it is that they are saying: ‘Peace and security!’ then sudden destruction is to be instantly upon them just as the pang of distress upon a pregnant woman; and they will by no means escape.” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3) As Jesus Christ himself will be used by Jehovah God as an executional agent on Jehovah’s day, he warned his disciples of the thieflike approach of the day for execution of judgment to begin, saying: “But know one thing, that if the householder had known in what watch the thief was coming, he would have kept awake and not allowed his house to be broken into. On this account you too prove yourselves ready, because at an hour that you do not think to be it, the Son of man is coming.”—Matthew 24:43, 44; Luke 12:39, 40.
52. As referred to at 2 Peter 3:10, what are the “heavens” that will pass away?
52 On Jehovah’s day mankind will find itself enveloped in a fiery situation for this ungodly system of things. The “heavens,” “elements,” and “earth” that mankind has known for thousands of years will be affected ruinously. The “heavens” that will pass away are the political governments that have served as “the superior authorities” by God’s permission and that have prolonged their operation in spite of the end of the Gentile Times in 1914 C.E. They have loomed high like mountains on earth’s scene and have overshadowed the affairs of human society. The priests, prophets and clergymen of religion have meddled with the governments and have tried to involve themselves as an integral part of governments, in many lands producing a marriage of State and Church. In marriages of Church and State that still continue in this “time of the end,” the religious partner is the lesser, the subordinate one and is merely tolerated, not passionately courted.
53. What is indicated by the fact that it is “with a hissing noise” that the “heavens” will pass away?
53 Those governmental “heavens” will pass away “with a hissing noise,” like the prolonged sounding of the letter “s.” This could mean a whizzing sound, like that caused by the rapid passing of an object through the air, as when an eagle nosedives toward its prey. This hissing noise could, accordingly, denote a rapid passing away of these governmental “heavens.” This rapid passing of the governmental heavens will not come about by the action of radical, revolutionary parties among men, for they themselves would only substitute the overthrown government with one of their own. Rather, the passing of political “heavens” will be by the act of Jehovah God. Since they have overlived the “appointed times of the [Gentile] nations,” it would only be fitting for them to be rushed off the scene as in an action that is long overdue. The “hissing noise,” regardless of whatever sound sensation it produces, will be heard by the inhabitants of the earth.
54. Identify the “elements” that, according to 2 Peter 3:10, are to be dissolved.
54 The “elements” that will become “intensely hot” and then “be dissolved” are not the so-called “four elements” of the alchemists of the Middle Ages, namely, fire, water, earth and air. “Elements” mean the basic parts of which something, as an organism, is composed. “Elements” could suggest certain things lined up in a certain order, like the letters of the alphabet of a language. The “elements” are mentioned as being distinct from the “heavens” and the “earth,” and as not being primary component parts of such. Between our literal heavens and earth there is the atmosphere, in which mankind lives, breathing it for sustenance of life. This atmosphere is composed of a mixture of gases and so has elemental parts. Similarly, there is a spirit that pervades the earthly realm of mankind, which mankind breathes and which animates them, moving them as by an invisible force to act, think, speak and plan the way that they do. This is the spirit of the world. It has nothing to do with the spirit of God but is at enmity with it. Hence, God is against that worldly spirit in all its elemental parts. On His day he must dissolve it, destroy it in the heat of his anger. All the doctrines, arrangements and schemes that express this worldly spirit and result from it must be dissolved, reduced to nothing, with it.
55. (a) The “earth” here referred to means what? (b) To what does the expression “the works in it” refer?
55 Not only the “heavens” and the “elements” come in for divine attention, but “earth and the works in it” must also. These “will be discovered.” (2 Peter 3:10) They will be found out. “Earth” in this case symbolizes human society that is separate and distinct from the anointed remnant of spiritual Israelites and from the “great crowd” who are in the spiritual paradise and who are worshiping Jehovah in his spiritual temple. (Revelation 7:15) The expression “the works in it” refers, not to the deeds or acts of conduct of the earthly human society, but to their works of construction, the things that human society builds and produces in the way of structures. Such “works” show the materialistic viewpoint, the earthly tendencies, of this human society, this symbolic “earth.”
56, 57. (a) In what sense are earth and the works in it “discovered,” as stated at 2 Peter 3:10? (b) How is the thought similar to that expressed at 1 Corinthians 3:13-15?
56 Why, though, it is said, “and earth and the works in it will be discovered [literally, will be found]”? Why “be discovered,” “be found,” instead of “be burned up,” as in the old King James Authorized Version reading of 2 Peter 3:10? Their being “discovered” or “found” does not mean that on Jehovah’s day they will merely be laid bare to view and be left lying thus exposed. In 2 Peter 3:7 it is stated that, by God’s word, “the heavens and the earth that are now are stored up for fire.” Accordingly, the “earth and the works in it” will not escape the “fire” of destruction any more than the “heavens” and the “elements” will do so. They will be “discovered” or “found” by the fire. The fire will overtake the “earth and the works in it” also. They will be “discovered” or “found” to be combustible, just as the symbolic “heavens” and the symbolic “elements” are combustible. The destructive “fire” of Jehovah’s day will prove that. So the sense of the discovery or finding is like that in 1 Corinthians 3:13-15, where the apostle Paul writes:
57 “Each one’s work will become manifest, for the day will show it up, because it will be revealed by means of fire; and the fire itself will prove what sort of work each one’s is. If anyone’s work that he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward; if anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss. . . .”
58. So what is due to happen to the symbolic “earth and the works in it,” and how is this further shown by the prophetic words of Zephaniah?
58 Jehovah’s “day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men” will come as a thief upon the symbolic “earth and the works in it,” and the “fire” of that day for executing divine judgment will prove them to be inflammable, subject to incineration. They will go up in flames. They will not withstand, survive the fiery day of the Lord God Jehovah. The prophetic words of Zephaniah 1:14-18 have solemn significance for our day: “The great day of Jehovah is near. It is near, and there is a hurrying of it very much. The sound of the day of Jehovah is bitter. There a mighty man is letting out a cry. . . . Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them in the day of Jehovah’s fury; but by the fire of his zeal the whole earth will be devoured, because he will make an extermination, indeed a terrible one, of all the inhabitants of the earth.”
‘SPEEDING UP THE PRESENCE OF THE DAY OF GOD’
59. What exhortation of the apostle Peter with regard to expectations and conduct applies with special force to us today?
59 In contrast with the ridiculers that were foretold for our time, what sort of persons are we proving ourselves to be in the face of the impending doom of this ungodly system of things? The exhortation of the apostle Peter to the first-century Christians applies with the greatest force to us today: “Since all these things [the symbolic heavens, elements, earth and the works in it] are thus to be dissolved, what sort of persons ought you to be in holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion, awaiting and keeping close in mind [literally, awaiting and speeding up] the presence of the day of Jehovah [Greek, of the God], through which the heavens being on fire will be dissolved and the elements being intensely hot will melt! But 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 3:11-13; Kingdom Interlinear Translation.
60. (a) If we really believe what God’s Word says, how should we live? (b) To those who have been called to heavenly life, what exhortation does the apostle Peter give?
60 True believers in the certain fulfillment of God’s word of prophecy ought to live in harmony with their expectations. They will not selfishly live for this present system of things, that is to say, for the “heavens” and “elements” and “earth” that are to be dissolved, destroyed, in the way that God’s Word describes. Why live for what is soon to perish? And perish with it? Dedicated, baptized Christians, in particular, have “obtained a faith, held in equal privilege with [the apostle Peter’s], by the righteousness of our God and the Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:1, NW; Weymouth; American Standard) To such Christians as have the call to the heavenly kingdom, the apostle Peter goes on to say: “Do your utmost to make the calling and choosing of you sure for yourselves; for if you keep on doing these things you will by no means ever fail. In fact, thus there will be richly supplied to you the entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:10, 11) The apostle Peter says that they are “aliens and temporary residents,” and, hence, they are not part of the symbolic “heavens,” “elements,” and “earth” that are “thus to be dissolved.”—1 Peter 2:11.
61. (a) In harmony with Peter’s exhortation, what sort of persons and practices do true Christians shun? (b) What is necessary in order to stay in the spiritual paradise?
61 Consequently, those who take heed to Peter’s exhortation have nothing to do with the “false teachers” who “quietly bring in destructive sects” and who “disown even the owner that bought them, bringing speedy destruction upon themselves.” Christians holding to true prophecy do not follow these false teachers. Such faithful Christians are not among the many who “will follow their acts of loose conduct” and on account of whom “the way of the truth will be spoken of abusively.” (2 Peter 2:1, 2) To avoid causing the way of the Bible truth to be spoken of abusively by ridiculers and other worldlings, Christians who heed the apostle Peter’s words pay constant attention to what sort of persons they ought to be “in holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion.” By this course they will escape from “bringing speedy destruction upon themselves” along with “the heavens and the earth that are now” and that are “stored up for fire.” (2 Peter 3:7) By “holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion,” Jehovah’s Christian witnesses today stay in their spiritual paradise.
62. (a) Is there anything that we can do to make the “day of Jehovah” come sooner? (b) How can we show that we ‘keep it close in mind’?
62 They do not let themselves be affected by any ridicule of those who postpone in their minds the thieflike coming of Jehovah’s day of judgment. They have long awaited it and, until it arrives, they will keep awaiting the “presence of the day of Jehovah.” Unlike the ridiculers, they are “keeping close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah.” They never let it out of their minds. They keep it constantly in mind as an event that is close at hand. The longer they live on earth, the closer it gets. They cannot hurry it, hasten it or speed it up in a literal way, for they know that Jehovah has his own fixed date for its arrival. But they keep steadily on the watch in order that, no matter how soon and unexpectedly it may come, they will be fit to enter into it in a condition approved by Jehovah God. So their continuing on in “holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion” is in agreement with their “keeping close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah.” They know what the presence of that day means. What?
CLEARING THE WAY FOR “NEW HEAVENS AND A NEW EARTH”
63. When the “heavens” are dissolved, what will this mean for them?
63 The “presence of the day of Jehovah” is the means “through which the heavens being on fire will be dissolved and the elements being intensely hot will melt!” (2 Peter 3:12) The governmental “heavens,” to which the worldly religious leaders have clung for support and protection, will be set on fire by Jehovah God. “For,” says Hebrews 12:29, “our God is also a consuming fire.” (Deuteronomy 4:24) This will signify the dissolving, the destroying, of those governmental “heavens.” How this will be brought about as by fire the apostle Peter does not explain. However, the “sayings previously spoken by the holy prophets” describe how this will be.—2 Peter 3:2; 1:21.
64. Through what inspired prophet was an explanation given as to how those symbolic “heavens” will be destroyed as by fire?
64 In the prophetic dream of Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon during the days of the prophet Daniel, there was given a picture of those symbolic “heavens” as from the date of 607 B.C.E., when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem and its temple, down to the “presence of the day of Jehovah.” The prophetic dream was sent to the king of Babylon by Jehovah God, for the king forgot the dream and it was Jehovah’s prophet Daniel that was the only one who could recall the dream to the king’s mind and then explain it to him.—Daniel 2:1-30.
65. What did the king of Babylon see in his dream, and what did it represent?
65 In his dream the king of Babylon saw the representation of a continuous series of political world powers, from the Babylonian World Power of Nebuchadnezzar’s dynasty down to and including the Biblically Seventh World Power, the Anglo-American World Power of our twentieth century. Consequently, the dream image, which was used to portray this series of governmental world powers, consisted of a number of basic materials. The head was of gold, the breasts and arms were of silver, the abdomen and sides of copper, the legs of iron and the feet and toes of iron mingled with clay.—Daniel 2:31-33.
66. Explain the significance of the various parts of the dream image.
66 “This is the dream,” said Daniel to Nebuchadnezzar, “and its interpretation we shall say before the king. You, O king, the king of kings [and hence an emperor over a world power], you to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, . . . whom he has made ruler over all of them, you yourself are the head of gold.” (Daniel 2:36-38) Accordingly, the golden head symbolized the Babylonian World Power in Nebuchadnezzar’s dynasty. The silver breasts and arms symbolized the succeeding Medo-Persian World Power. The copper belly and thighs symbolized the Macedonian-Grecian World Power. The iron legs symbolized the Roman World Power and the outgrowth therefrom, the British-American Dual World Power. The feet partly of iron and partly of clay symbolized the present-day or final governmental powers that have become partly radical (socialistic; communistic) or partly imperial. During the more than twenty-five centuries since the Gentile Times began at Jerusalem’s desolation in 607 B.C.E., the other political governments on earth have been dominated by that succession of world powers.—Daniel 2:39-43.
67, 68. Until what period of history does that world-power image continue standing, and what happens to it then?
67 According to the king’s prophetic dream, that world-power “image” continues standing, in its historical fulfillment, in the “conclusion of the system of things,” in which we today find ourselves. (Matthew 24:3; 28:20; 13:39, 49) That “conclusion of the system of things” is brought to a grand climax by the “presence of the day of Jehovah,” during which the symbolic “heavens,” “elements,” and “earth and the works in it” are destroyed as by fire. That is the “day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men.” (2 Peter 3:7-12) Ominous, therefore, is that part of the king’s dream which presents motion and action and which Daniel recalled to the king’s mind by saying:
68 “You kept on looking until a stone was cut out not by hands, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and of molded clay and crushed them. At that time the iron, the molded clay, the copper, the silver and the gold were, all together, crushed and became like the chaff from the summer threshing floor, and the wind carried them away so that no trace at all was found of them. And as for the stone that struck the image, it became a large mountain and filled the whole earth.”—Daniel 2:34, 35.
69. What does that mean for all human rulerships?
69 The fulfillment of this dramatic part of the prophetic dream is immediately ahead of us. According to this, every vestige or trace of the political world powers of human history, including the Eighth World Power, the United Nations, must forcibly be dissipated beyond reconstruction. All subsidiary kingdoms and human rulerships must likewise be cleared off the earth.
70, 71. By what agency does Jehovah bring about that worldwide destruction?
70 That is God’s word, not man’s. It is not the work of the anointed remnant of spiritual Israelites, neither the work of the “great crowd” of fellow worshipers of Jehovah. The agency that the Almighty God Jehovah will use in bringing about that worldwide destruction was pictured in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream as a “stone” that was cut out of a mountain without the aid of human hands. Hence, the “stone” must picture something that is produced by the Creator, the Sovereign Lord Jehovah. What the “stone” symbolized He inspired Daniel to explain, saying:
71 “And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people [as successors]. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite; forasmuch as you beheld that out of the mountain a stone was cut not by hands, and that it crushed the iron, the copper, the molded clay, the silver and the gold.”—Daniel 2:44, 45.
72, 73. (a) What is the “mountain” from which the “stone” is cut without hands? (b) The “stone” itself represents what, and what is taking place in connection with it now?
72 As the “stone” pictures a kingdom that the God of heaven sets up, the “mountain” must picture the source of kingdom power and authority, namely, the Universal Sovereignty of the King of Eternity, Jehovah God. The stonelike kingdom thus becomes a subsidiary part and agency of His universal sovereignty. It is his Messianic kingdom in the hands of his only-begotten Son, who became the Lord Jesus Christ. (Daniel 7:13, 14) This kingdom is the one concerning which Jesus Christ made the following prediction in his prophecy on the “conclusion of the system of things”: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) In that same prophecy Jesus Christ envisioned himself as being in that kingdom, when he said:
73 “When the Son of man 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.”—Matthew 25:31, 32.
74. With what assignments has that Messianic kingdom been entrusted by Jehovah?
74 All hail to the Messianic kingdom of the Son of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah! It is the heavenly government that is entrusted with ushering out “the heavens and the earth that are now” and introducing the promised “new heavens and a new earth” for the glory of God and the endless blessing of all the obedient of mankind.
a “These words express the certainty of the coming of the day of judgment, and hos kleʹptes [as a thief] its unexpected suddenness; . . . tes tou Theou hemeras [of the day of the God], ver. 2Pe 3:12, shows that kyriou [Lord] is here [2Pe 3 verse 10] also equivalent to Theou [of God] (not to Khristou [of Christ]; . . .).”—Lines 3-6, paragraph 1, page 428, of Critical and Exegetical Handbook to the General Epistles of James, Peter, John, and Jude, by J. E. Huther (1887).