How We Know We Are in “the Last Days”
1, 2. How can we know whether we are in the last days?
HOW can we be sure that we are living at the time when God’s Kingdom will take action against this present system of human rule? How can we know that we are very close to the time when God will bring an end to all wickedness and suffering?
2 The disciples of Jesus Christ wanted to know those things. They asked him what “the sign” would be of his presence in Kingdom power and “of the conclusion of the system of things.” (Matthew 24:3) Jesus answered by detailing world-shaking events and conditions that would combine to show that mankind had entered “the time of the end,” “the last days” of this system of things. (Daniel 11:40; 2 Timothy 3:1) Have we in this century seen that composite sign? Yes, we have, abundantly so!
3, 4. How do the wars of this century fit the prophecy of Jesus?
3 Jesus foretold that ‘nation would rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom.’ (Matthew 24:7) In 1914 the world became involved in a war that saw the mobilizing of nations and kingdoms in a way that was different from any war before it. In recognition of that fact, historians at the time called it the Great War. It was the first war of its kind in history, the first world war. Some 20,000,000 soldiers and civilians lost their lives, far more than in any previous war.
4 World War I marked the beginning of the last days. Jesus said that this and other events would be “a beginning of pangs of distress.” (Matthew 24:8) That proved true, as World War II was even more deadly, some 50,000,000 soldiers and civilians losing their lives. In this 20th century, well over 100,000,000 people have been killed in wars, more than four times as many as in the previous 400 years put together! What an enormous condemnation of human rule!
5-7. What are some other evidences that we are in the last days?
5 Jesus included other features that would accompany the last days: “There will be great earthquakes, and in one place after another pestilences [disease epidemics] and food shortages.” (Luke 21:11) That well fits events since 1914, as there has been a huge increase in the distresses from such calamities.
6 Major earthquakes are regular occurrences, taking many lives. The Spanish influenza alone killed about 20,000,000 people following World War I—some estimates being 30,000,000 or more. AIDS has taken hundreds of thousands of lives and could take millions more in the near future. Each year millions of people die of heart ailments, cancer, and other diseases. Millions more die the slow death of hunger. Without a doubt the ‘horsemen of the Apocalypse’ with their wars, food shortages, and disease epidemics have been cutting down large numbers of the human family since 1914.—Revelation 6:3-8.
7 Jesus also foretold the increase in crime that is experienced in all lands. He said: “Because of the increasing of lawlessness the love of the greater number will cool off.”—Matthew 24:12.
8. How does the prophecy at 2 Timothy chapter 3 fit our time?
8 Further, Bible prophecy foretold the moral collapse so evident throughout the world today: “In the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, self-assuming, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with pride, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power . . . Wicked men and impostors will advance from bad to worse.” (2 Timothy 3:1-13) All of that has come true right before our eyes.
9. What happened in heaven that coincided with the beginning of the last days on earth?
9 There is another factor responsible for the huge increase in suffering in this century. Coinciding with the beginning of the last days in 1914, something happened to put mankind in even greater danger. At that time, as a prophecy in the last book of the Bible relates: “War broke out in heaven: Michael [Christ in heavenly power] and his angels battled with the dragon [Satan], and the dragon and its angels [the demons] battled but it did not prevail, neither was a place found for them any longer in heaven. So down the great dragon was hurled, the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth; he was hurled down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him.”—Revelation 12:7-9.
10, 11. How was humankind affected when Satan and his demons were cast down to the earth?
10 What were the consequences for the human family? The prophecy continues: “Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.” Yes, Satan knows that his system is nearing its end, so he is doing everything he can to turn humans against God before he and his world are put out of the way. (Revelation 12:12; 20:1-3) How debased those spirit creatures are because they misused their free will! How awful conditions have been on earth under their influence, especially since 1914!
11 It is no wonder that Jesus foretold of our time: “On the earth anguish of nations, not knowing the way out . . . Men become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth.”—Luke 21:25, 26.
End of Human and Demon Rule Near
12. What is one of the last remaining prophecies to be fulfilled before this system’s end?
12 How many Bible prophecies remain to be fulfilled before God destroys this present system? Very few! One of the last is at 1 Thessalonians 5:3, which states: “While they are talking of peace and security, all at once calamity is upon them.” (The New English Bible) This shows that the end of this system will begin “while they are talking.” Unforeseen by the world, destruction will strike when least expected, when the attention of humans is on their hoped-for peace and security.
13, 14. What time of trouble did Jesus foretell, and how will it conclude?
13 Time is running out for this world under Satan’s influence. Soon it will come to its end in a time of trouble of which Jesus said: “Then there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.”—Matthew 24:21.
14 The climax of the “great tribulation” will be God’s war of Armageddon. That is the time spoken of by the prophet Daniel when God will “crush and put an end to all these kingdoms.” This will mean the end of all present human rulerships independent of God. His Kingdom rule from heaven will then take over complete control of all human affairs. Never again, Daniel foretold, will governing authority be left “to any other people.”—Daniel 2:44; Revelation 16:14-16.
15. What will happen to the influence of Satan and his demons?
15 At that time all satanic and demon influence will also cease. Those rebellious spirit creatures will be put out of the way so that they cannot “mislead the nations anymore.” (Revelation 12:9; 20:1-3) They have been sentenced to death and await destruction. What a relief it will be for mankind to be free from their debasing influence!
Who Will Survive? Who Will Not?
16-18. Who will survive this system’s end, and who will not?
16 When God’s judgments are executed against this world, who will survive? Who will not? The Bible shows that those who want God’s rule will be protected and will survive. Those who do not want God’s rule will not be protected but will be destroyed along with Satan’s world.
17 Proverbs 2:21, 22 says: “The upright [those who submit to God’s rule] are the ones that will reside in the earth, and the blameless are the ones that will be left over in it. As regards the wicked [those who do not submit to God’s rule], they will be cut off from the very earth; and as for the treacherous, they will be torn away from it.”
18 Psalm 37:10, 11 also says: “Just a little while longer, and the wicked one will be no more . . . But the meek ones themselves will possess the earth, and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.”Psalm 37 Verse 29 adds: “The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.”
19. What counsel should we take to heart?
19 We should take to heart the counsel of Psalm 37:34, which states: “Hope in Jehovah and keep his way, and he will exalt you to take possession of the earth. When the wicked ones are cut off, you will see it.”Psalm 37 Verses 37 and 38 say: “Watch the blameless one and keep the upright one in sight, for the future of that man will be peaceful. But the transgressors themselves will certainly be annihilated together; the future of wicked people will indeed be cut off.”
20. Why can we say these are thrilling times in which to live?
20 How comforting, yes, how inspiring it is to know that God really does care and that soon he will put an end to all wickedness and suffering! How thrilling it is to realize that the fulfillment of those glorious prophecies is but a short time off!
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The Bible foretold the events that would make up “the sign” of the last days
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Soon, at Armageddon, those who do not submit to God’s rule will be cut off. Those who do submit will survive into a righteous new world