The True God and Your Future
“In this mysterious universe, there is one thing of which Man can feel certain. Man himself is certainly not the greatest spiritual presence in the Universe. . . . There is a presence in the Universe that is spiritually greater than Man himself. . . . Man’s goal is to seek communion with the presence behind the phenomena, and to seek it with the aim of bringing his self into harmony with this absolute spiritual reality.”—An Historian’s Approach to Religion, by Arnold Toynbee.
1. (Include introduction.) (a) What did historian Toynbee recognize about man and the universe? (b) How does the Bible identify the “absolute spiritual reality”?
DURING most of the last six thousand years, mankind has searched, with greater or lesser zeal, to find that “absolute spiritual reality.” Each major religion has given that reality a different name. Depending on what your religion may be—Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Shinto, Confucian, Taoist, Jewish, Christian, or any other—you have a name for the “absolute spiritual reality.” But the Bible gives this reality name, gender, and personality—Jehovah, the living God. That unique God said to Cyrus the Great of Persia: “I am Jehovah, and there is no one else. With the exception of me there is no God. . . . I myself have made the earth and have created even man upon it.”—Isaiah 45:5, 12, 18; Psalm 68:19, 20.
Jehovah—God of Reliable Prophecy
2. If we want to have reliable information on the future, to whom should we turn, and why?
2 Jehovah is the true end of mankind’s search for God. Jehovah has revealed himself as the God of prophecy who can tell the end from the beginning. He said through Isaiah the prophet: “Remember the first things of a long time ago, that I am the Divine One and there is no other God, nor anyone like me; the One telling from the beginning the finale, and from long ago the things that have not been done; the One saying, ‘My own counsel will stand, and everything that is my delight I shall do’; . . . I have even spoken it; I shall also bring it in. I have formed it, I shall also do it.”—Isaiah 46:9-11; 55:10, 11.
3. (a) What events can we foresee through Bible prophecy? (b) What has Satan done to the unbelievers, and why?
3 With such a reliable God of prophecy, we can know what is going to happen to the world system of divisive religions. We can also predict what will befall the powerful political organizations that seem to control the world’s destiny. Even more, we can foretell what end awaits “the god of this system of things,” Satan, who “has blinded the minds of the unbelievers” by a multitude of religions that have led mankind away from the true God, Jehovah. And why has Satan done this blinding work? In order “that the illumination of the glorious good news about the Christ, who is the image of God, might not shine through.”—2 Corinthians 4:3, 4; 1 John 5:19.
4. What questions about the earth and man’s future need to be answered?
4 We can also know what lies beyond these foretold events. In what condition will the earth finally be found? Polluted? Ruined? Deforested? Or will there be a regeneration of the earth and the human race? As we shall see, the Bible answers all these questions. But first let us turn our attention to events of the immediate future.
“Babylon the Great” Identified
5. What did John see in vision?
5 The Bible book of Revelation was revealed to the apostle John on the island of Patmos in the year 96 C.E. It paints vivid pictures of major events to take place in the time of the end, the time in which, according to Biblical evidence, mankind has been living since 1914.* Of those symbolic pictures that John saw in vision, one is of a gaudy, brash harlot, called “Babylon the Great, the mother of the harlots and of the disgusting things of the earth.” In what condition was she? “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.
6. Why does Babylon the Great not represent the ruling political elements of the world?
6 Whom does this woman represent? We are not left to guess her identity. By a process of elimination, she can be unmasked. In that same vision, John hears an angel say: “Come, I will show you the judgment upon 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.” If the kings, or rulers, of the earth fornicate with her, then it means that the harlot cannot represent the ruling political elements of the world.—Revelation 17:1, 2, 18.
7. (a) Why does Babylon the Great not represent the commercial elements? (b) What does Babylon the Great represent?
7 The same account tells us that “the traveling merchants of the earth became rich due to the power of her shameless luxury.” Therefore Babylon the Great cannot represent the business, or “merchant,” elements of the world. Yet, the inspired text says: “The waters that you saw, where the harlot is sitting, mean peoples and crowds and nations and tongues.” What other principal element of this world system is left that fits the description of a symbolic harlot fornicating with the political rulers, trading with business interests, and sitting in glory over the peoples, crowds, nations, and tongues? It is false religion in all its different guises!—Revelation 17:15; 18:2, 3.
8. What further facts confirm Babylon the Great’s identification?
8 This identification of Babylon the Great is confirmed by an angel’s condemnation of her for her “spiritistic practice [by which] all the nations were misled.” (Revelation 18:23) All forms of spiritism are religious and demon-inspired. (Deuteronomy 18:10-12) Thus, Babylon the Great must symbolize a religious entity. Biblical evidence shows that she is Satan’s entire world empire of false religion, promoted by him in the minds of men in order to divert attention from the true God, Jehovah.—John 8:44-47; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15; Revelation 21:8; 22:15.
9. What common threads are found in many religions?
9 As we have seen throughout this book, there are common threads going right through the confused tapestry of the world’s religions. Many religions have their roots in mythology. Nearly all are tied together by some form of belief in a supposed immortal human soul that survives death and goes to a hereafter or transmigrates to another creature. Many have the common denominator of belief in a dreadful place of torment and torture called hell. Others are connected by ancient pagan beliefs in triads, trinities, and mother goddesses. Therefore, it is only appropriate that they should all be grouped together under the one composite symbol of the harlot “Babylon the Great.”—Revelation 17:5.
Time to Flee From False Religion
10. What end is prophesied for the religious harlot?
10 What does the Bible foretell will be the final destiny of this globe-encircling harlot? In symbolic language, the book of Revelation describes her destruction at the hands of political elements. These are symbolized by “ten horns” that support the United Nations, “a scarlet-colored wild beast” that is the image of Satan’s bloodstained political system.—Revelation 16:2; 17:3-16.*
11. (a) Why is false religion condemned by God? (b) What will happen to Babylon the Great?
11 This destruction of Satan’s world empire of false religion will be the result of God’s adverse judgment of these religions. They will have been found guilty of spiritual fornication because of complicity with their oppressive political paramours and their support of them. False religion has stained its skirts with innocent blood as it has patriotically played along with the elite ruling class of each nation in its wars. Therefore, Jehovah puts it into the hearts of the political elements to perform his will against Babylon the Great and devastate her.—Revelation 17:16-18.
12. (a) What must you do now to be spared when Babylon is destroyed? (b) What teachings distinguish the true religion?
12 With such a future staring world religions in the face, what should you do? The answer is in what John heard a voice out of heaven saying: “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.” Therefore, now is the time to obey the angel’s injunction to get out of Satan’s empire of false religion and join in Jehovah’s true worship. (See box, page 377.)—Revelation 17:17; 18:4, 5; compare Jeremiah 2:34; 51:12, 13.
13. What events must soon take place?
13 Revelation states that “in one day her plagues will come, death and mourning and famine, and she will be completely burned with fire.” By all the Bible’s prophetic indications, that “one day,” or short time of swift execution, is now near. In fact, the destruction of Babylon the Great will usher in a period of “great tribulation” that culminates in “the war of the great day of God the Almighty . . . Har–Magedon.” That war, or battle, of Armageddon will lead to defeat for Satan’s political system and to his being abyssed. A righteous new world will dawn!—Revelation 16:14-16; 18:7, 8; 21:1-4; Matthew 24:20-22.
14, 15. What Bible prophecy is apparently approaching fulfillment?
14 Already, another outstanding Bible prophecy is approaching fulfillment before our eyes. The apostle Paul prophesied and warned: “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.
15 It would appear that the nations that were formerly belligerent and suspicious of one another are now moving cautiously toward a situation in which they will be able to declare world peace and security. Therefore, from still another angle, we know that the day of Jehovah’s judgment upon false religion, the nations, and their ruler, Satan, is near.—Zephaniah 2:3; 3:8, 9; Revelation 20:1-3.
16. Why is John’s counsel so pertinent today?
16 Millions today are living their lives as if only material values were lasting and worth while. Yet, what this corrupt world offers is shallow and transient. That is why John’s counsel is so pertinent: “Do not be loving either the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him; because everything in the world—the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the showy display of one’s means of life—does not originate with the Father, but originates with the world. Furthermore, the world is passing away and so is its desire, but he that does the will of God remains forever.” Would you not prefer to remain forever?—1 John 2:15-17.
A Promised New World
17. What does the future hold for those who seek the true God?
17 Since God is going to judge the world through Christ Jesus, what will follow? Long ago, in the Hebrew Scriptures, God prophesied that he would carry out his original purpose toward mankind on this earth, namely, to have an obedient human family enjoy perfect life on a paradise earth. Satan’s attempted subversion of that purpose has not annulled God’s promise. Thus, King David could write: “For evildoers themselves will be cut off, but those hoping in Jehovah are the ones that will possess the earth. And just a little while longer, and the wicked one will be no more . . . The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.”—Psalm 37:9-11, 29; John 5:21-30.
18-20. What changes will take place on this earth?
18 In what condition will the earth be thereafter? Totally polluted? Burned out? Deforested? Not at all! Jehovah originally intended that the earth should be a clean, balanced, paradise park. The potential for that exists in spite of man’s abuses of the earth. But Jehovah has promised that he will “bring to ruin those ruining the earth.” A situation approaching global ruin has existed only in the 20th century. All the more reason, then, to believe that soon Jehovah will take action to protect his property, his creation.—Revelation 11:18; Genesis 1:27, 28.
19 This change is to take place shortly under God’s arrangement of “a new heaven and a new earth.” It will not mean a new sky and a new planet but, rather, a new spiritual rulership over a renewed earth inhabited by a society of regenerated humankind. In that new world, there will be no room for exploitation of fellow humans or of animals. There will be no violence or bloodshed. There will be no homelessness, no starvation, no oppression.—Revelation 21:1; 2 Peter 3:13.
20 God’s Word states: “‘And they will certainly build houses and have occupancy; and they will certainly plant vineyards and eat their fruitage. They will not build and someone else have occupancy; they will not plant and someone else do the eating. For like the days of a tree will the days of my people be; and the work of their own hands my chosen ones will use to the full. . . . The wolf and the lamb themselves will feed as one, and the lion will eat straw just like the bull; and as for the serpent, his food will be dust. They will do no harm nor cause any ruin in all my holy mountain,’ Jehovah has said.”—Isaiah 65:17-25.
The Foundation of the New World
21. Why is the new world a certainty?
21 ‘How will all of this be possible?’ you might ask. Because “God, who cannot lie, promised before times long lasting” that mankind would be restored and have everlasting life in perfection. And the basis of this hope is that which the apostle Peter expressed in his first letter to fellow anointed Christians: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for according to his great mercy he gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an incorruptible and undefiled and unfading inheritance.”—Titus 1:1, 2; 1 Peter 1:3, 4.
22. What is fundamental to the new world hope, and why?
22 The resurrection of Jesus Christ is fundamental to the hope of a righteous new world because he has been appointed by God to rule from the heavens over a cleansed earth. Paul also emphasized how vital Christ’s resurrection is when he wrote: “However, now Christ has been raised up from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep in death. For since death is through a man, resurrection of the dead is also through a man. For just as in Adam all are dying, so also in the Christ all will be made alive.”—1 Corinthians 15:20-22.
23. (a) Why is Christ’s resurrection vital? (b) What command did the resurrected Jesus give to his followers?
23 Christ’s sacrificial death as a corresponding ransom and his resurrection laid the basis for the hope of “a new heaven,” Kingdom rulership, and a transformed, regenerated human race, “a new earth” society. His resurrection also gave impetus to the preaching and teaching done by his faithful apostles. The account tells us: “However, the eleven disciples went into Galilee to the mountain where [the resurrected] Jesus had arranged for them, and when they saw him they did obeisance, but some doubted. And Jesus approached and spoke to them, saying: ‘All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth. Go therefore and make disciples of people of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit, teaching them to observe all the things I have commanded you. And, look! I am with you all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.’”—Matthew 19:28, 29; 28:16-20; 1 Timothy 2:6.
24. What further blessing does Jesus’ resurrection guarantee?
24 The resurrection of Jesus also guarantees another blessing for mankind—the resurrection of the dead. Jesus’ raising of Lazarus from the dead was a token of a more all-embracing resurrection in the future. (See pages 249-50.) Jesus had said: “Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who did good things to a resurrection of life, those who practiced vile things to a resurrection of judgment.”—John 5:28, 29; 11:39-44; Acts 17:30, 31.
25. (a) What choice will be available to all in the new world? (b) What form of religion will prevail in the new world?
25 What joy to be able to welcome back our loved ones, each generation likely doing that successively! There in the new world, each person will then be able to decide under perfect conditions whether he or she will worship the true God, Jehovah, or lose life as an opposer. Yes, in the new world, there will be only one religion, one form of worship. All praise will go to the loving Creator, and every obedient human will echo the words of the psalmist: “I will exalt you, O my God the King, and I will bless your name to time indefinite, even forever. . . . Jehovah is great and very much to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.”—Psalm 145:1-3; Revelation 20:7-10.
26. Why should you examine God’s Word, the Bible?
26 Now that you have made a comparison of the major religions of the world, we invite you to investigate further God’s Word, the Bible, on which the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witnesses are based. Prove for yourself that the true God can be found. Whether you are Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Shinto, Confucian, Taoist, Jewish, Christian, or of any other faith, now is the time to examine your relationship to the true and living God. Probably your religion was decided for you by your place of birth, over which you had no control. Surely, nothing is lost by examining what the Bible says about God. This could be your opportunity of a lifetime really to know the Sovereign Lord God’s purpose for this earth and mankind upon it. Yes, your sincere search for the true God can be satisfied by studying the Bible with Jehovah’s messengers, his Witnesses, who brought you this book.
27. (a) What invitation does Jesus extend to you? (b) In harmony with the theme of this book, what does Isaiah invite everyone to do?
27 Not in vain did Jesus say: “Keep on asking, and it will be given you; keep on seeking, and you will find; keep on knocking, and it will be opened to you.” You can be among those who have found the true God if you heed the prophet Isaiah’s message: “Search for Jehovah, you people, while he may be found. Call to him while he proves to be near. Let the wicked man leave his way, and the harmful man his thoughts; and let him return to Jehovah, who will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will forgive in a large way.”—Matthew 7:7; Isaiah 55:6, 7.
28. Who can help you to find the true God?
28 If you are searching for the true God, feel free to contact Jehovah’s Witnesses.* Without cost they will be happy to help you to know intimately the Father and his will while there is yet time.—Zephaniah 2:3.
For a detailed coverage of the last days, see You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., 1982, pages 148-54.
For a detailed consideration of these prophecies in Revelation, see the book Revelation—Its Grand Climax At Hand!, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., 1988, chapters 33-37.
For list of addresses, see page 384.
[Box/Picture on page 377]
How to Identify the True Religion
10. The true religion teaches the truth regarding God’s purpose for man and the earth. It does not teach the religious lies of immortal soul and eternal torment in hell. It teaches that God is love.—Judges 16:30; Isaiah 45:12, 18; Matthew 5:5; 1 John 4:7-11; Revelation 20:13, 14.
Witnesses preaching in the Netherlands
[Pictures on page 373]
The earth has the potential to be a paradise—for this a permanent, righteous world government is needed, and it is promised by God
[Picture on page 374]
Before returning to heaven, Jesus commanded his disciples to preach and teach the good news in all the earth
[Picture on page 379]
The resurrection of the dead will bring joy to the human family earth wide