The Passing of a Divided World
1. The “great crowd” rejoice over what imminent world change?
WE ARE now over nineteen centuries nearer to it. To what? To that beneficial world change that the Bible writer of the first century C.E. announced, saying: “The whole frame of this world is passing away.” (1 Corinthians 7:31, The New English Bible) The “great crowd” of persons who are now preparing themselves for God’s incoming world government rejoice that the passing away of the present divided world is imminent.—Revelation 7:9, 10.
2, 3. (a) What has the United Nations failed to do for the world? (b) How does the Bible picture the divisive religious empire?
2 The United Nations organization, though now over thirty years old and having 147 member nations, has failed to heal the world’s divided condition. Today many U.N. delegates realize that the most divisive force of all is worldly religion. Religious differences are deeply ingrained. Sects divide even the major religious systems. Christendom alone is split up a thousand ways or more. Despite their differences, God’s Word lumps them all together as one world empire of false religion. It likens this religious empire to a woman, saying: “The woman whom you [the apostle John] saw means the great city that has a kingdom over the kings of the earth.” (Revelation 17:18) Now, just who is this “woman” that is like an imperial city wielding influence over political rulers? The apostle John tells us, saying:
3 “Upon her forehead was written a name, a mystery: ‘Babylon the Great, the mother of the harlots and of the disgusting things of the earth.’ And I saw that the woman was drunk with the blood of the holy ones and with the blood of the witnesses of Jesus.” (Revelation 17:5, 6) “The great harlot who sits on many waters, with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, whereas those who inhabit the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.”—Revelation 17:1, 2.
4. How has her “fornication” affected the common people?
4 The “kingdom” that Babylon the Great has had over the kings of the earth has been a harlotrous one, a course of religious “fornication.” The people have suffered because of her mixing religion with politics. It has been a bitter potion for the common people to drink at her hand. It has made them reel as if drunk.
5. In what way does this harlot ride the “wild beast”? Why?
5 The mother “harlot” has spawned many other religious “harlots” and has made them members of her worldwide whorehouse. Today Babylon the Great hails the United Nations as she formerly did the League of Nations. She has put her trust in it instead of in God’s Messianic kingdom, the incoming world government. So she rides upon it. For popularity’s sake and for self-advantage she lets herself be carried along by it, thus to hold her religiously divided empire together in a sort of “unity with diversity.” But the mount that she is riding is a dangerous one. Not without purpose does the Bible picture her mount as a scarlet-colored “wild beast” with seven heads and ten horns. This wild beast bears “blasphemous names.” What Babylon the Great calls the beast is blasphemous to God.—Revelation 17:3.
6. Who now get out of Babylon the Great, and why?
6 How will God avenge the innocent blood with which she is “drunk”? By letting the “wild beast” organization turn upon her in hatred when He lets the “great tribulation” begin. Her destruction follows. (Revelation 17:15, 16; 19:1-3) Hence now, during this “conclusion of the system of things,” Jehovah God has caused to be sounded out world wide the urgent cry: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues. For her sins have massed together clear up to heaven, and God has called her acts of injustice to mind.” (Revelation 18:4, 5) The remnant of Christ’s spiritual “brothers” and also the “sheep” who make up the “great crowd” have obeyed God’s command and gotten out. Consequently they will not perish with her in the “great tribulation.”
AFTER “BABYLON THE GREAT” IS DESTROYED
7. Does the “wild beast” mean to serve God by destroying her?
7 After the empire of false religion is destroyed, there will be no Christendom to continue calling the United Nations organization “the political expression of the Kingdom of God on earth.” The members of the U.N. and other nations not members of it will not think that they have done God a favor by destroying their former mistress who was drunk with the innocent blood of God’s “holy ones” and of “the witnesses of Jesus.” The nations do not destroy the religious “harlot” purposely to avenge God and his persecuted people. They do it as an antireligious action, with no intention of making an exception of the true religion, “the form of worship that is clean and undefiled from the standpoint of our God and Father,” as James 1:27 says. Already the more than half of the U.N. members that do not belong to Christendom disavow its being “the political expression of the Kingdom of God on earth.”
8. After destroying Babylon the Great, what will the “beast” do?
8 So, after their destroying Babylon the Great (including Christendom), what will the nations adhering to or cooperating with the U.N. do? The same chapter that describes the “wild beast” organization as being like a seven-headed beast with ten horns tells us, saying: “These have one thought, and so they give their power and authority to the wild beast. These will battle with the Lamb, but, because he is Lord of lords and King of kings, the Lamb will conquer them. Also, those called and chosen and faithful with him will do so.” (Revelation 17:13, 14) This battle will go on at the same time as what is described in Revelation 19:11-21. All of this is the “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon.—Revelation 16:14, 16.
9. What will befall those anti-Jehovah, anti-Christ “kings”?
9 In this dramatic way the dream that the prophet Daniel interpreted to Nebuchadnezzar the king of ancient Babylon comes true. The kingdom that the God of heaven sets up in the days of the final rulers of the present political governments “will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms.” (Daniel 2:44) This will be the all-time high point of the “time of distress such as has not been made to occur since there came to be a nation until that time.” (Daniel 12:1; Matthew 24:21, 22; Mark 13:19, 20) Concerning that time of universal war it is said to Jehovah’s Field Marshal, Jesus Christ: “Jehovah himself at your right hand will certainly break kings to pieces on the day of his anger. He will execute judgment among the nations; he will cause a fullness of dead bodies. He will certainly break to pieces the head one over a populous land.” (Psalm 110:5, 6) The “head one” of every “populous land” will lie crushed among a “fullness of dead bodies.” Can we doubt it that this “day of his anger” will be a most turbulent time?
10. How does Peter describe the noisiness of Jehovah’s “day”?
10 The apostle Peter calls attention to the noisiness of that time of unparalleled world distress during which the long-established institutions of mankind undergo dissolution as if by the fire of a nuclear furnace. Writing, not to worldlings, but to Christians who may expect to witness these things and survive, Peter says: “Yet Jehovah’s day 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. Since all these things 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 the presence of the day of Jehovah, 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 3:10-13.
11. Who will kindle the fire of that “day”? At what time?
11 Who is going to kindle that all-consuming fire that will rage all around this globe? Not the six or more nuclear-powered nations by the detonating of their overstock of bombs and missiles in surprise attacks on one another! No, but Jehovah God, the Creator of all the suns in all the galaxies of stars throughout the depths of space. The time of blazing conflagration will be “the day of Jehovah.” Even though we Bible researchers know that we are living in the foretold “time of the end,” the “conclusion of the system of things,” yet that day for the removal of human rulerships will come as a thief. Man-made political governments, which have dominated mankind just as the literal heavens dominate the earth, will be unable to hold together but will disintegrate in chaotic disorganization. These symbolic “heavens” will, as the apostle Peter says, “pass away with a hissing noise.” The prolonged sound, like that of escaping steam under pressure, may increase to a roaring as the governmental “heavens” crash in ruins.
12. In what sense will the “elements” melt on that “day”?
12 The heat of God’s anger will be expressed so intensely against this ungodly system of things under Satan’s control, that it will be liquefied, as it were, losing stability, internal cohesiveness. The “elements,” that circumambient spirit that surrounds the earth and motivates earth’s inhabitants in general, will lose whatever coolness and equanimity that it has had. Under the fiery indignation of Jehovah’s day, that elemental spirit will get hot to white heat and will fire the people to wild acts of confused thinking, to violent, lawless fighting among themselves for self-survival. It will no longer hold the people together as a self-contained community. Thus the symbolic “elements” will dissolve, melt!
13. What are the “earth and the works in it” here meant?
13 Well, then, could the “earth” that is to be destroyed mean our globe? No, it pictures human society according to the way it carries on under this system of things. Human society has many “works” to show for itself. It has many institutions, many organizations, many religious sects, many nationalistic ideals.
14. In what sense will “earth and the works in it” be discovered?
14 What will the “presence of the day of Jehovah” show all this form of human society and its selfish “works” to be? The “presence” of that fiery day of divine judgment will lay these things bare. They will be discovered in the condition in which they really are. The people will have these things made manifest to them as being condemned by the God of unselfishness and righteousness. As in the days of Noah before the global deluge, Jehovah will see “that the badness of man [is] abundant in the earth and every inclination of the thoughts of his heart [is] only bad all the time.” (Genesis 6:5) So in line with his judgment of earthly matters, Jehovah will again wipe out a “world of ungodly people,” the present human society that is symbolized by the expression “earth.”—2 Peter 2:5; 3:7.
15. How will the remnant and the “great crowd” fare then?
15 Those who have made themselves “no part of the world,” namely, the remnant of Christ’s spiritual “brothers” and the “great crowd” of Christ’s “other sheep,” will be caught in the midst of this fiery “day of Jehovah.” What will they do in the midst of this “great tribulation” that will have no repetition? (John 17:14, 16; 10:16) They will not suffer dissolution along with the governmental “heavens,” the temperamental “elements,” and corrupt social “earth” and its worldly “works.” Under the “tent” of Jehovah’s protection, they will look out upon the stupendous things that are taking place and will not be dismayed at the violent passing of this divided world, the opposers of Jehovah’s sovereignty.—Psalm 37:34.
16. These become what kind of eyewitnesses of God’s activities?
16 These divinely protected ones will not be horrified at the passing away of these old “heavens” and old “earth.” They will rejoice at this vindication of Jehovah’s universal sovereignty. They will become eyewitnesses of the “activities of Jehovah, how he has set astonishing events on the earth.” They will realize that “he is making wars to cease to the extremity of the earth.” (Psalm 46:8, 9) They will look forward to the establishing of “new heavens and a new earth,” which they have so long awaited with endurance. Elatedly they will rejoice that at last the time has actually arrived for Jehovah God to fulfill his promise of “new heavens and a new earth.” (2 Peter 3:13) O what a now indescribable experience it will be for them to survive the “great tribulation” and its “war of the great day of God the Almighty” at Har–Magedon and be preserved alive into His New Order!