The “Time of the End”
“The turning point in our time,” “a dividing line in history,” an “age of violence”—these are terms used by modern historians to describe the epoch that began with the outbreak of World War I. What startling significance lies in their observation? The answer affects your life.
NO DATE in history affects the destiny of every living person so much as the year 1914. That year marked the turning point in the affairs of men. World conditions since 1914 have taken a turn for the worse. War has ravaged the earth, inflation has strangled the world. Countries once prosperous are now plagued with poverty and revolutions. Great empires have collapsed, whole nations and islands hardly known before 1914 have become world problems. Mankind lives in the soul-chilling shadow of atomic annihilation. All this, grimly true as it is, does not explain why world conditions are exactly as they are. It does not explain why 1914 is a turning point. Nor does it explain why 1914 affects your everlasting destiny. What, then, explains the matter? This: in 1914 mankind entered the long-foretold “time of the end.”
Only one book tells of the “time of the end.” That is the Bible. Its prophecies, for the most part, have their major fulfillment in the “time of the end.” Then an understanding of the prophecies would be available to truth seekers: “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” (Dan. 12:4, AS) Lack of knowledge concerning the “time of the end” leads to death. How vital, then, to have the right answers to certain questions! What is to end? When will it end? How will it end? Who will end it?
Jehovah God has decreed that this earth must eventually become a global paradise, with its inhabitants enjoying everlasting life in perfect health and happiness. So what is to end could not be this literal earth, for the Bible plainly declares: “The earth abideth for ever.” What is to end is this evil system or state of things. This means that the world that mankind has known ever since the days of the Noachian flood will soon be blotted out; a righteous new world will take its place. So the news that 1914 brought the beginning of the end for what the Bible calls the “present wicked system of things” should be a source of great joy for all right-hearted persons.—Eccl. 1:4; Gal. 1:4, NW.
CONSUMMATION OF A SYSTEM OF THINGS
Christ Jesus, the greatest Prophet that ever lived, pointed forward to the “time of the end.” He called it the “consummation of a system of things.” The word “consummation” (Greek, syntéleia) is interesting. This is because syntéleia combines the preposition “with” (syn) with the noun “end” (telʹos). So the word indicates that several things work together or with one another to terminate in a complete end. The consummation (syntéleia) about which the disciples asked is the same as the “time of the end.” It is a period that has a beginning and a completion (telʹos).—Matt. 13:39; 24:3, NW.
How does the “time of the end” come to its completion? It closes with the mighty battle of Armageddon, “the war of the great day of God the Almighty.” This war results in the destruction of all the nations of the earth and the abyssing of the Devil and his demons. Since 1914 the Devil has learned he has only “a short period of time.”—Rev. 16:14; 12:12, NW.
But now, how do we know for a certainty that 1914 marks the beginning of the “time of the end”? Because the “Gentile times” or “appointed times of the nations” ended A.D. 1914. Why, as far back as 1880 the Watchtower magazine declared that 1914 would mark the end of the “Gentile times.” Briefly, these “appointed times of the nations” refer to a period when no representative government of Jehovah would exist on earth, but the Gentile nations would dominate the earth. Jesus had said: “Jerusalem will be trampled on by the nations, until the appointed times of the nations are fulfilled.” (Luke 21:24, NW) With the overthrow of Jehovah’s typical theocratic government, the nation of Israel, in 607 B.C., theocratic rule in the earth ended. “Seven times,” or a period of 2,520 years, must pass before a new theocratic government toward our earth could begin operation. This new government would be a heavenly kingdom under Christ Jesus. The King would rule from heaven while the Devil’s world was still a going concern. So there was need for a sign. True to prophecy, when the 2,520 years of Gentile domination ended in 1914, the great sign of the times made its appearance. In 1914 World War I broke out and the “consummation” or “time of the end” began.
DANIEL AND JESUS FORETELL WORLD WAR
That World War I pointed up the “time of the end” is clear from Daniel’s prophecy. Likening the democratic powers to the “king of the south” and the autocratic powers to the “king of the north,” the prophet wrote: “And at the time of the end shall the king of the south contend with him; and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass through.” (Dan. 11:40, AS) These military movements, affecting the earth from north to south, could not begin, as Daniel says, until the “time of the end.”
Now, from Jesus’ words, we also know that World War I marked the beginning of the “time of the end.” He spoke of the close of the “time of the end” by using the word “telʹos,” meaning “an accomplished end.” Why does not the “accomplished end” occur immediately in 1914, at the close of the “appointed times of the nations”? Jesus explains: “For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be food shortages and earthquakes in one place after another. All these things are a beginning of pangs of distress.”—Matt. 24:7, 8, NW.
“PANGS OF DISTRESS” UPON THE NATIONS
The “pangs of distress” began in 1914 with total warfare, an all-out war for global domination, the like of which had never occurred before in history. In explaining further what the “pangs of distress” include, Jesus said there would be “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.” Today any observing person can perceive the “pangs of distress” upon all the nations of the earth. Yet the masses of people fail to find any significance in it. Oh, they are quick to say that times are worse than ever before. But when they are told of Jesus’ prophecy concerning the “time of the end” they scoff and ridicule. Strange? No, because the ridiculers of the great sign of the times were to be so numerous in the “time of the end” or “last days” that they in themselves would constitute part of the sign: “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.’”—Luke 21:25, 26; 2 Pet. 3:3, 4, NW.
Why do the scoffers scoff? Because “their own desires” are selfish. They want to hang on to this present system of things for their own selfish gain. So they willingly refuse to see the “pangs of distress” foretold by Jesus. They claim that “all things are continuing exactly as from creation’s beginning” because ‘we have always had wars, famines and earthquakes.’ The scoffers fail to realize that the sign Jesus gave is not comprised of an isolated earthquake here or a war there. But rather all the happenings must occur concurrently upon one generation in intensified doses. Now if we carefully analyze the “pangs of distress” that Jesus foretold at Matthew 24 and Luke 21, can we honestly say that since 1914 “all things are continuing exactly as from creation’s beginning”? No!
It is interesting to note that many of the “intellectuals” of the world—the philosophers, the scientists, the sages and the historians—are quick to admit that since 1914 there has been a striking change. Bertrand Russell, the philosopher, not long ago declared: “Ever since 1914 the world has been reeling drunkenly toward disaster.” An editorial in the Washington Times-Herald for March 13, 1945, stated: “The last completely ‘normal’ year in history was 1913, the year before World War I began.” Dr. Harold C. Urey, one of the world’s leading creators of the atom bomb, said: “We have not had a peaceful world since 1914.” (Cleveland Plain Dealer, December 9, 1951) Declared an editorial writer in the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegram, August 1, 1954: “Forty years ago the world overnight goose-stepped from the ‘golden age’ into a volcanic epoch marked by bloody wars.”
An editorial in the Edmonton Journal of Alberta, Canada, dated August 7, 1954, explains further: “It seems likely that when the history of the twentieth century is written, August 4, 1914, the day hostilities became general in Europe, will loom larger than even the date of the outbreak of the Second World War or the dropping of the first atomic bomb. That August day, we are beginning to realize, marked a dividing line in history. An era of peace, progress and security ended, and an age of war and revolution began.” This same observation was made by an associate professor of history at Columbia University’s Barnard College, who wrote in The Scientific Monthly of July, 1951: “It is indeed the year 1914 rather than that of Hiroshima which marks the turning point in our time, for by now we can see that, whatever the future may hold in store, it was the first world war that ushered in the era of confused transition in the midst of which we are floundering.”
And, when making a comparison of the two world wars, the New York Times Magazine of August 1, 1954, came to this conclusion: “The first war marked a far greater change in history. It closed a long era of general peace and began a new age of violence in which the second war is simply an episode. Since 1914 the world has had a new character: a character of international anarchy. . . . Thus the first World War marks a turning point in modern history.”
A DESTINY-MAKING TIME
Such terms as “a turning point in modern history,” an “age of violence,” “an age of war and revolution” and “a volcanic epoch,” used by leading authorities, ought to jar scoffers into some sensible thinking! For, of a certainty, things are not continuing exactly as from creation’s beginning. The “time of the end” has come. The sign of the “last days” is visible evidence. Never before in history, prior to 1914, have all these things occurred at once upon one generation:
Sign Scripture Proof
1. World wars Matt. 24:7
2. Widespread food shortages Matt. 24:7
3. Unusual number of earthquakes Matt. 24:7
4. Sore pestilence and disease Luke 21:11
5. Persecution of Christians Luke 21:12-15
6. Many forsaking Christianity Matt. 24:12, 13
8. Nations perplexed Luke 21:25
9. Increased lawlessness Matt. 24:12
11. Moral breakdown in public and
private life 2 Tim. 3:1-4
12. Widespread juvenile delinquency 2 Tim. 3:2
13. People overly engaging in
everyday affairs of life Matt. 24:37-39
14. World-wide preaching of the
established kingdom as good news. Matt. 24:14
Before the “time of the end” closes the people must be warned. So Jesus foretold: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for the purpose of a witness to all the nations, and then the accomplished end will come.” To people who are heartsick because of this present wicked world, the news of God’s established kingdom and the “time of the end” is indeed good. Jehovah’s witnesses have been diligent to bring this good news to peoples of all the earth. When the preaching work is finished the “accomplished end” comes. This does not mean that when the “time of the end” closes the mass of mankind will have decided for God’s kingdom. No, the mass will stick with the old world, even though the warning witness has been given earth-wide. Thus multitudes will be abandoned to their self-chosen destiny of destruction. Said Jesus: “I tell you, In that night two men will be in one bed; the one will be taken along, but the other will be abandoned. There will be two women grinding at the same mill; the one will be taken along, but the other will be abandoned.” To be taken into Jehovah’s protection at Armageddon depends not on any family or friendship ties; it depends on a clear-cut decision for God’s new world. Those who choose to go along with the old world will, as Jesus showed, be abandoned to destruction, just as the preflood people were left to their watery death when “the world of that time suffered destruction when it was deluged with water.”—Matt. 24:14; Luke 17:34, 35; 2 Pet. 3:6, NW.
“Truly I say to you,” declared Jesus, “that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.” So “this generation” from 1914 shall not pass till the “time of the end” closes with the “great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.” Those who are left to their self-chosen destiny of destruction pay the penalty of everlasting death. So since we are living in a destiny-making time, do not wait until face to face with “the accomplished end” of this system of things. That will be too late. Decide now for the new world. Give proof of your decision by associating with the already formed New World society. Share in the warning witness now being given. Then you will be in line to survive this world’s “accomplished end” and inherit everlasting life in a perfect new world.—Matt. 24:34, 21, NW.