The Countdown Nears Its Zero Hour!
1. According to prominent scientists, how close is “doomsday”?
BACK in 1947, scientists devised a “doomsday clock.” It appears on the cover of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and is used to dramatize how perilously close they believe the world is to nuclear annihilation. Repeatedly the hands of that “clock” have been moved—sometimes forward, sometimes back, depending on how dangerous the international situation was perceived to be. Early in 1984 those hands were advanced to three minutes before midnight. Should they reach midnight, it would mean that dreaded nuclear war had begun.
2. When did Jehovah begin his countdown, and what will its zero hour mean?
2 But it was some 6,000 years ago that Jehovah God began a countdown that has moved irresistibly forward, never turning back. In that countdown the zero hour is the time that God has set for the vindication of his sovereignty, upon which the peace and well-being of all the universe depend. He has openly stated his purpose and provided time markers that enable us to discern its progress. Immediately following the rebellion in Eden, Jehovah promised that he would bring forth from his “woman,” his organization of loyal spirit creatures, a “seed” that would bruise Satan, “the original serpent,” in the head and finally crush him out of existence forever. (Genesis 3:15; Revelation 12:9; Romans 16:20) How lovers of righteousness long for that time!
3. (a) What shows that the coming of the Messiah was carefully timed? (b) For what was the basis then laid?
3 At God’s appointed time, foretold long in advance, the promised “seed,” the Messiah, God’s own Son, appeared on earth. As a resounding answer to Satan’s defiant challenge, Jesus maintained perfect godly devotion right down to death. And by his death as a sinless human he also provided the means to redeem Adam’s offspring from sin and death. Thus the basis was laid for eventually ‘breaking up the works of the Devil.’—1 John 3:8; Daniel 9:25; Galatians 4:4, 5.
4. (a) What group did Jesus begin to gather while he was on earth? (b) In harmony with the divine schedule, when did Christ begin to rule as King? (c) What was one of the first actions he took?
4 While Jesus was still on earth, he began to gather men and women who would become joint heirs with him in his heavenly Kingdom. Just 144,000 chosen, tested and loyal ones would be included. As the time for the gathering of the final members of this group arrived, “rulership and dignity and kingdom” were conferred upon Jesus himself in heaven. (Daniel 7:13, 14) Right on schedule, in 1914, he went into action as ruling King. Satan and his demons were promptly hurled out of heaven, this act cleansing the seat of government. (Revelation 12:7-12) The present world system had entered its final days.
5. Who will be alive to witness the vindication of Jehovah’s sovereignty?
5 The countdown that has proceeded for some six millenniums now nears its zero hour. So close is it that people who were alive in 1914, and who are now well along in years, will not all pass off the scene before the thrilling events marking the vindication of Jehovah’s sovereignty come to pass.—Mark 13:30.
6, 7. (a) What facts about the “great crowd” indicate that the great tribulation must be very close? (b) Why do they look to the future with keen anticipation?
6 Other loyal servants of God, too, will be on hand to witness the events of that great day. Especially beginning in 1935, when the identity of the “great multitude,” or “great crowd,” was clearly understood, large numbers of these began to manifest themselves. At first there were hundreds, then thousands, later hundreds of thousands, and now there are millions spread around the globe. God’s infallible Word depicts this group as ‘coming out of the great tribulation,’ being survivors of it, living right on into God’s New Order without ever having to die. (Revelation 7:9, 10, 14; John 11:26) The early members of this group are now in their 60’s or 70’s or older. Jehovah did not allow the ingathering of this group to begin too soon. The “great crowd,” including many of the earliest members thereof, will survive into the “new earth.”
7 The hope of the “great crowd” will not be thwarted by any nuclear holocaust that would destroy all mankind. With good reason they are optimistic and courageous. As the events of the “last days” have unfolded, they have watched them with keen anticipation, applying to themselves Jesus’ counsel: “Raise yourselves erect and lift your heads up, because your deliverance is getting near.” (Luke 21:28) But during the remaining time before that deliverance, further events of world-shaking significance are to occur.
EVENTS YET AHEAD
8. (a) What very significant event foretold at 1 Thessalonians 5:3 is yet to come? (b) Many years ago, how was the stage set for this? (c) In recent years, what great pressure has there been to assure world peace?
8 Pointing to one of these, the apostle Paul wrote: “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 5:3) What form that proclamation will take remains to be seen. But it is noteworthy that the stage was set soon after the world entered the “last days.” In 1919 the purpose of the League of Nations was declared to be the achieving of “peace and security.” After World War II, the Charter of the United Nations again set forth “peace and security” as the principal goal of that international body. It has not achieved that objective. However, in recent years people of all walks of life have shared in gigantic public demonstrations in many lands, urging the world’s leaders to put a stop to all production, testing and deployment of nuclear weapons. They want assurance of world peace and are terrified at what they believe the alternative to be.
9. Why will sudden destruction come upon those endorsing that foretold proclamation of “Peace and security”?
9 Whether as a result of this or some other initiative, human leaders will soon make a very significant proclamation of “Peace and security!” It will be only a veneer. But those who endorse it will be declaring that they have attained their goal by their own means, without the need of God’s Kingdom. At this repudiation of Jehovah’s sovereignty, “sudden destruction is to be instantly upon them.”
10. How is the situation already shaping up for the destruction of Babylon the Great?
10 Events will move swiftly. Babylon the Great, the world empire of false religion, will be desolated by her former political lovers. Already, rulers have become keenly aware that religion is an agitating force that has provoked hatred, bloodshed and war around the globe. Politicians are getting tired of being pressured by the clergy. In much of the world, attendance at places of worship has greatly decreased. An atheistic outlook, whether blatant or veiled, dictates public opinion. Also, many member countries of the United Nations have strong antireligious policies. When Jehovah’s own appointed hour arrives for the execution of judgment, he will permit the political rulers, in a sweeping international move, to turn against Babylon the Great and completely destroy her.—Revelation 17:15, 16; 19:1, 2.
11. (a) Against whom will the nations turn next? (b) To what further events will that lead?
11 Intoxicated by that victory and goaded on by their invisible ruler, Satan the Devil, the nations will then attack Jehovah’s own faithful witnesses in the earth. (Ezekiel 38:14-16) The fact that these are peaceable, law-abiding people who do not meddle in politics or bear responsibility for war will be given no consideration. The nations will demand total support, worship of the political system. But when they move to crush Jehovah’s visible organization, God will act decisively in behalf of his loyal servants, rescuing them. The armies of heaven will completely annihilate every vestige of Satan’s visible organization, destroying all who cling to it. Then, the archenemy, Satan the Devil himself, will be seized and completely put out of operation for a thousand years, during which all the effects of his vile influence will be completely removed and the earth will be transformed into a Paradise. After that, Satan will be released for a short period of time, to test restored mankind. All humans that choose to follow him will be annihilated, together with Satan and his demons.—Revelation 19:19-21; 20:1-3, 7-10.
USHERED INTO A SPLENDID “NEW EARTH”
12. (a) To whom will the “great crowd” ascribe their deliverance? (b) Who will join them in praising God?
12 With the fear-inspiring events of the end of the present world behind them and the Millennial Reign of Christ before them, the favored survivors on earth will be filled with intense gratitude as they raise their voices in thanks to God. With heartfelt depth of feeling the “great crowd” will cry out with a loud voice: “Salvation we owe to our God [Jehovah], who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb [Jesus Christ].” And all of God’s loyal heavenly organization, moved by appreciation of the grand significance of these events, will join with them in worship, saying: “Amen! The blessing and the glory and the wisdom and the thanksgiving and the honor and the power and the strength be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”—Revelation 7:10-12.
13. How does the Bible depict the provision made to sustain and heal mankind?
13 All mankind will at last form a united human society that honors the true God, “a new earth” under “a new heaven” that gives expression to Jehovah’s loving sovereignty. Using delightful symbolism, the final book of the Bible depicts the marvelous benefits that will flow to mankind then as being “a river of water of life, clear as crystal, flowing out from the throne of God and of the Lamb” down the middle of the broad way of the heavenly New Jerusalem. Along the banks of this river are “trees of life” that produce fruit to sustain those who eat it and leaves for the curing of the nations. Represented here is the entire provision made by God for healing and sustaining believing, obedient mankind and enabling them to enjoy eternal life through Jesus Christ.—Revelation 21:1, 2; 22:1, 2.
14. In what ways will conditions in the “new earth” be different from those in the world today?
14 Conditions then prevailing on earth will be refreshingly different from anything that the old world has ever produced. Through application of the benefits of Christ’s sacrifice and by means of education in the will of God, obedient ones, including those resurrected from the dead, will be freed from every trace of sin and will be helped to progress physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually until they attain to perfection. Instead of producing the divisive “works of the flesh,” everyone will learn to produce abundantly such godly fruitage as love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness and self-control. (Galatians 5:19-23) With such a spirit prevailing, the earth’s produce will be used to supply generously the needs of all mankind. Life will take on greater richness of meaning than ever before as mankind work together to fulfill the Creator’s original purpose for this earth and its inhabitants.
15. (a) What appealing invitation is already being extended to humankind? (b) So, what should we individually be doing?
15 In joyful anticipation of all of this, God’s spirit and the bride of Christ now extend an earnest invitation to people everywhere, saying: “‘Come!’ And let anyone hearing say: ‘Come!’ And let anyone thirsting come; let anyone that wishes take life’s water free.” (Revelation 22:17) Now, therefore, is no time simply to wait until the countdown to Jehovah’s great day reaches its zero hour at the great tribulation. Having accepted the gracious invitation to “take life’s water free,” you now have the privilege to extend that invitation to others. It is a time for zealous activity on the part of all whose eager desire is to be survivors into God’s splendid “new earth.”