The Time for God’s Kingdom to Come
DO YOU pray for God’s kingdom? If you do so with sincerity, then you will be intensely interested in knowing the time for God’s kingdom to come. Jesus’ first-century followers wanted to know and four of them came to Jesus while he was on the Mount of Olives, inquiring: “Tell us, When will these things be, and what will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?” With what interest the disciples must have listened as Jesus related the world-shaking events that would mark his second presence and the establishment of the Kingdom!—Matt. 24:3.
Oftentimes today the remark is heard: “O I pray for the kingdom and I believe it will come sometime, but it won’t be in my lifetime.” Surprisingly, such remarks are usually made by persons who have not examined the Bible prophecies concerning the last days and the establishment of the Kingdom. But you who, like the early disciples, are intensely interested in Jesus’ second presence will find to be of absorbing interest an examination of Jesus’ answer as to the time for God’s kingdom to come.
Jesus knew that after he finished his work on earth many impostors would rise up and delude future generations. So he warned: “Look out that nobody misleads you; for many will come on the basis of my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.”—Matt. 24:4, 5.
Jesus also knew that during the centuries, before the time for God’s kingdom to come, men would fight many ordinary wars. Therefore, he continued: “You are going to hear of wars and reports of wars; see that you are not terrified. For these things must take place, but the end is not yet.” (Matt. 24:6) Next, Jesus began enumerating the world-shaking events that would mark his invisible second presence. Let us examine them in the light of present happenings to see if this is the generation Jesus was speaking about that would “by no means pass away until all these things occur,” including “the conclusion of the system of things.” (Matt. 24:34, 3) First, Jesus said:
“NATION WILL RISE AGAINST NATION”
Has this prophecy seen fulfillment? Has the world ever been involved in a war that saw the mobilizing of entire kingdoms and nations for warfare in such a way that it stood out as different from preceding wars? Yes—in this generation. In recognition of the fact that the 1914-1918 war was different from any previous one in human history, historians call it the FIRST WORLD WAR. It was the first war of its kind.—Matt. 24:7, 8.
More than thirty nations fought in World War I, involving some 1,700,000,000 persons, which represented about 93 percent of all people living on the earth. A study of wars made by Harvard University and printed in Collier’s magazine of September 29, 1945, shows that World War I was seven times greater than all the 901 major wars of the previous 2,400 years put together.
Indicating the tremendous change that the first world war made in human history, the New York Times Magazine of August 1, 1954, said: “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 . . . Thus the first World War marks a turning point in modern history.”
In keeping with Jesus’ words that this war and its associated miseries would be only the “beginning of pangs of distress,” the world soon plunged into another war. This second world war, with its 22 million dead, 34 million wounded and estimated cost of $1,300,000,000,000, made the first war pale into insignificance by comparison. However, ‘nation rising against nation and kingdom against kingdom’ was only one part of the sign. Jesus said his second presence would also be marked by
Just as Jesus predicted, on the heels of the first world war came the worst food shortage in human history. Every day saw 15,000 people die in China because of the famine following World War I. In sixteen Russian provinces 13,772,613 were actually starving as of February, 1922. The Nation of June 7, 1919, reported: “Plague and famine are rampant in India. Death stalks the land, taking its toll. The existing conditions are unparalleled in the history of the world.”
But this was just the beginning of the distressing pangs of hunger to be suffered by people of this generation. About twice as many persons were affected by food shortage following the second world war as after the first. Look magazine, in its issue of June 11, 1946, observed: “A fourth of the world is starving today. Tomorrow will even be worse. Famine over most of the world now is more terrible than most of us can imagine. . . . There are now more people hunting desperately for food than at any other time in history.”
Contrary to what some may think, famine continues to stalk the world. Dr. Josué de Castro, chairman of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s executive committee, said in his book The Geography of Hunger, that in the Far East, Middle East and certain Central American countries “millions of people regularly and ‘normally’ starve to death.” After making a tour of underdeveloped countries, Raymond Scheyven, former chairman of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, made this report in 1957: “Hunger leads the procession of miseries. . . . the percentage of the world’s population which is definitely undernourished has risen from 38.6 per cent before the war to 59.5 per cent at the present.”
Certainly Jesus’ prophecy concerning there being “food shortages” has been fulfilled in our day. But this in itself is not proof that this is the time for God’s kingdom to come. It is only another feature of the sign. As recorded at Luke 21:11, Jesus, in answer to his disciples’ question, said his second presence would also be marked by
Was such a thing realized after World War I broke out? Yes, indeed! Hand in hand with war and food shortages came diseases in epidemic proportions. Notable was the Spanish influenza, which put 500,000,000 persons to bed all around the globe, over 20,000,000 of whom never got up. The Saturday Evening Post of September 26, 1959, observed: “No recorded pestilence before or since has equaled the 1918-1919 death toll in total numbers. In those two years an estimated 21,000,000 died of influenza-pneumonia throughout the world, some 850,000 in the United States alone.”
Since that time disease and pestilence have continued to rage. It is estimated that throughout the world 2,000,000 persons die every year of cancer. Heart attacks strike down some 400,000 people annually in the United States alone. Thousands more die from other heart diseases. Venereal diseases are now reaching epidemic proportions. Epidemics of polio, cholera and typhoid occur periodically to remind one of Jesus’ words, that there would be “pestilences.” However, besides pestilences, Jesus said there would also be
“EARTHQUAKES IN ONE PLACE AFTER ANOTHER”
Therefore, for this to be the time of Jesus’ second presence earthquakes would have to be in evidence in an outstanding way. Are they? There can be no question about it. Terrifying earthquakes have rocked the globe with increasing severity and frequency during recent years. A university seismologist declared: “Something is going on all over the planet that is hard to put a finger on. Great forces are at work stirring up things far underground, causing vast land drifts on several continents. The further you are from the last big earthquake, the nearer you are to the next.”
Significantly, since 1914 there have been more major earthquakes than in any previous period of similar length in recorded history. The severest of all, as indicated by modern seismographs, was the Assam quake of August 15, 1950. In December, 1957, Outer Mongolia experienced an upheaval described as “one of history’s greatest earthquakes.” Then, last year, tremendous quakes shook Chile, Morocco and the Persian town of Lars. Scientific American declared: “Major quakes used to occur in clusters, each period of activity being followed by a rest period. Since 1948 the pattern has entered a new phase, with approximately one great quake a year.”
Unprecedented war, food shortages, pestilences and earthquakes have indeed resulted in unparalleled suffering. Such calamities have contributed to a climate of fear that hangs over the entire world. However, immediately following these predictions, Jesus indicated there would be something unique to cause fear to grip at the hearts of men, for he said, as recorded at Luke 21:11, that there would be
“FEARFUL SIGHTS AND FROM HEAVEN GREAT SIGNS”
Not to be dismissed from consideration as being in fulfillment of these words of Jesus are the new things that modern science is discovering and bringing to the attention of the people, which have resulted in unprecedented fear and mental anguish. High-energy cosmic rays originating from an unknown source in outer space have been found to be striking the earth in great numbers and with energy enough to penetrate hundreds of feet.
Adding to the fears of men are the steps under way to reach the moon, with the end in view of establishing military bases there. What a terrifying prospect! Terrorizing weapons aimed and ready to shower destruction from the sky on any location on the earth! Never before in history have men had the ability to end civilization by blowing the earth into a desolate, radioactive wasteland. In recognition of the fearful prospects facing humanity during the time of his second presence, Jesus went on to say, at Luke 21:26:
“MEN BECOME FAINT OUT OF FEAR”
In fulfillment of this prophecy a heavy cloud of fear hovers over the world. Dr. Harold C. Urey, Nobel prize winner and atomic scientist, declared: “We will eat fear, sleep fear, live in fear and die in fear.” This fear has resulted in “anxiety heart disease,” which Dr. Jackson A. Smith said afflicts more than half the people who consult doctors for cardiac symptoms. Yes, men today have indeed become “faint out of fear.”
In describing what his own followers would experience during the time of the end, Jesus said that they would be objects of
“HATRED BY ALL THE NATIONS ON ACCOUNT OF MY NAME”
Any person acquainted with the Christian activity of Jehovah’s witnesses will recognize that these words of Jesus have been fulfilled in them. (Matt. 24:9) Because of faithfully imitating Christ in preaching God’s kingdom and keeping themselves separate from the world their organization has been banned in over fifty lands in recent years, and their Bibles and Bible literature have been taken away. They have suffered countless cases of mobbings and beatings world-wide, and have been arrested and thrown into prisons, where in many cases they have been tortured to death. Thousands suffered martyrdom in Germany, and many in Communist-controlled lands continue to die for their faith. Even in the United States they have experienced such fiendish persecution that Supreme Court Justice Frank Murphy said: “Jehovah’s Witnesses are living proof of the fact that even in this nation, conceived as it was in the ideals of freedom, the right to practice religion in unconventional ways is still far from secure. . . . They have suffered brutal beatings; their property has been destroyed; they have been harassed at every turn . . . ”
“MANY FALSE PROPHETS WILL ARISE AND MISLEAD MANY”
True to Jesus’ words, many false prophets, both individuals and organizations, have arisen to mislead many, turning them from God’s kingdom to support substitutes that are doomed to destruction. Outstandingly mentioned in Scripture is the two-horned “wild beast,” the Anglo-American world power, that serves as a “false prophet” in advocating the “image of the wild beast,” the United Nations, as the organization to which all mankind is to pay homage.—Matt. 24:11; Rev. 13:11, 14, 15; 19:20.
“INCREASING OF LAWLESSNESS”
Facts presented in a speech in Washington, D.C., last year, by J. Edgar Hoover, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, made it clear that this part of Jesus’ prophecy has certainly realized fulfillment in our day. (Matt. 24:12) He said: “Since 1950, crime has increased 69 per cent—four times as fast as our expanding population. Today, we find ourselves confronted with the worst era of lawlessness in the Nation’s history.” Nor is the “increasing of lawlessness” confined to the United States. “Japan is in the middle of the biggest crime wave in its history,” says a newspaper report.
Turning to India, one finds this candid report: “People in their sixties still recall with nostalgic memories their early days, when crime sometimes took a holiday.” However, now, it continued, “when you X-ray [Bombay] you will find a cesspool of drunkenness, debauchery, corruption and public apathy, gangsterism, racketeering, pandering and plundering.” The president of the University of Helsinki used words that well describe the entire world, when he said: “There have been committed such terrible acts of violence in the country that even still twenty years ago it would have been thought that such could never happen in Finland.” Such a moral breakdown in human society has led to the fulfillment of Jesus’ next prediction:
“THE LOVE OF THE GREATER NUMBER WILL COOL OFF”
This lawless world rejects the Bible’s godly principles of conduct, and as a result the nations of Christendom, claiming to be footstep followers of Christ, have become just as wicked and immoral as the rest of the world. The actions and conduct of the vast majority of professed Christians prove that their love toward God, his Word and their fellow man has grown cold.
“THIS GOOD NEWS OF THE KINGDOM WILL BE PREACHED”
This forecast of a world-wide preaching of the established kingdom of God has been realized by no other generation, but today it is being fulfilled. “Jehovah’s Witnesses have literally covered the earth with their witnessing,” so observed C. S. Braden in his book These Also Believe. How true that observation is! Preaching in 181 lands and islands of the sea with the aid of the Bible in 1,165 tongues and Bible-study aids in 144 languages, Jehovah’s witnesses spend upward of 130 million hours a year spreading the good news that God’s kingdom has already been established in the heavens, that soon it will wipe out all wickedness and extend marvelous blessings to men on earth. Just since 1942 they have printed over one and a half billion magazines and hundreds of millions of books, booklets and tracts carrying this good news.—Matt. 24:14.
Consider with us more features of the sign given by Jesus and be convinced that this is the generation identified by his prophecy for God’s kingdom to come. Next Jesus foretold the rising of a
“DISGUSTING THING THAT CAUSES DESOLATION”
When Jesus was presented to the Jews as king, the religious priests of the first century rejected him. Appealing to the political ruler Pontius Pilate in order to bring about his death, they cried: “If you release this man, you are not a friend of Caesar. . . . We have no king but Caesar.” (John 19:12, 15) What a disgusting thing in God’s sight that religio-political alliance responsible for killing his Son! A similar disgusting conspiracy was to be a feature of Jesus’ second presence. It is here now. Today that religio-political world alliance against God’s kingdom finds its most powerful expression in the clergy-blessed United Nations. How so?—Matt. 24:15.
During the first world war, when evidence pointed to the second presence of Christ in Kingdom power, the clergy of Christendom turned their backs and, instead, hailed the League of Nations, the United Nations’ predecessor, acclaiming it as “the political expression of the kingdom of God on earth.” In effect they were saying, ‘We have no king but the League of Nations.’ Right to this day Christendom’s clergy continue to support and encourage the people to have confidence in the United Nations and other human governments rather than strengthening their faith in the kingdom of God. What a disgusting thing this clergy-supported alliance that stands before the attention of the people where God’s kingdom should stand! Bible prophecy assures its desolation in the
“GREAT TRIBULATION SUCH AS HAS NOT OCCURRED SINCE THE WORLD’S BEGINNING”
This tribulation on Satan’s organization began in 1914 when Christ warred with the Devil and his angels, casting them down to the vicinity of the earth. (Rev. 12:7-12) But as foretold by Christ, it was stopped temporarily, “cut short,” so that true Christians could manifest themselves and conform to righteous principles, and thereby be saved. (Matt. 24:21, 22) This tribulation will be resumed, within this generation, at the fast-approaching war of Armageddon. There Satan’s entire organization, including the United Nations, will be completely desolated. Jesus said that after the tribulation of those days
“THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT”
After the 1914-1918 feature of tribulation upon Satan’s organization developments began to proceed involving natural phenomena, as likewise described in Luke 21:11, commented on in a paragraph above.—Matt. 24:29.
“AS THE DAYS OF NOAH WERE”
To draw a vivid parallel for the benefit of his followers, Jesus compared the time before the flood in Noah’s day to the time of his second presence in Kingdom power. Then people were absorbed in eating and drinking and having a good time. They “took no note” of Noah’s message concerning the imminent destruction. They were indifferent, having the attitude that, if there was a Jehovah, ‘he would not do good, and he would not do bad.’—Matt. 24:37-39; 2 Pet. 2:5; Zeph. 1:12.
How perfectly our day fits the circumstances before the Flood! People are so absorbed in the cares of life that they take no note of the evidence that we are now living in the time of Jesus’ second presence. People generally are indifferent to the message that Jehovah’s witnesses bring concerning the “conclusion of the system of things.” In fulfillment of Jesus’ words they will soon be swept away as God’s kingdom comes against this wicked system in all its destructive fury.—Dan. 2:44.
“FAITHFUL AND DISCREET SLAVE”
Jesus foretold that he would have a watchman that would faithfully be on the alert dispensing spiritual food at the time of his arrival. (Matt. 24:45-47) Was there in evidence such a “faithful and discreet slave” class pointing the people to the year 1914 as the time for God’s kingdom to come? Yes, indeed! The World, a leading New York newspaper, in its August 30, 1914, edition, told of this group, saying: “For a quarter of a century past, through preachers and through press, the ‘International Bible Students,’ best known as ‘Millennial Dawners,’ have been proclaiming to the world that the Day of Wrath prophesied in the Bible would dawn in 1914. ‘Look out for 1914!’ has been the cry of the hundreds of traveling evangelists who, representing this strange creed, have gone up and down the country enunciating the doctrine that ‘the Kingdom of God is at hand.’”
Ever since 1914 these anointed footstep followers of Jesus, using the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society as their legal and publishing instrument, have continued to enlighten people to the meaning of the momentous happenings of this generation. They show how these events have fulfilled Bible prophecy and that, therefore, Jesus did begin ruling in the heavens in 1914, and soon, within this generation, he will resume the tribulation on Satan’s organization, completely destroying it in the war of Armageddon.—Rev. 16:14-16.
“HE WILL SEPARATE . . . THE SHEEP FROM THE GOATS”
Continuing his discussion with his four disciples, Jesus said that, on his arrival, “he will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will put the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.” (Matt. 25:32, 33) Since his arrival for judgment work in 1918 Jesus has been doing this separating of the peoples, some to the right side for preservation and others to the left for destruction. How is this separating done? Jesus showed that classification as a “sheep” or a “goat” was based on the way an individual treated his followers on earth and the Kingdom message they carried. This separating work is nearing completion as all peoples are identifying themselves either in support of God’s kingdom, or in opposition to it.
In addition to the extensive sign of the last days given by Jesus, features of which we have just considered, another inspired prophecy was recorded by the apostle Paul. It says: “But know this, that 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; and from these turn away.”—2 Tim. 3:1-5.
Do you not see on every hand these very conditions? Look at the millions of money lovers that make material things their chief aim in life! See the unprecedented increase of disobedience and delinquency among youth. Observe how the nations talk, talk, talk, but are not open to any agreement. Note the fierceness and lack of self-control of people who, in their drive to get ahead, have lost all love of goodness. See the millions of pleasure lovers whose love of God has grown cold. Note how they pretend to be Christian, “having a form of godly devotion,” but that it exercises no power in their lives to motivate them to love and right works as followers of Christ.
In spite of the overwhelming evidence some will scoff: “Conditions are the same as they have been for generations.” But even such ridicule of the scoffers is in fulfillment of Bible prophecy concerning the last days, for the apostle Peter wrote: “For you know this first, that 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.’”—2 Pet. 3:3, 4.
Do not hastily dismiss the evidence that this is the time for God’s kingdom. Bible chronology pinpoints the year 1914 as the time that Christ arrived and began ruling in the midst of his enemies. (Ps. 110:1, 2) The events of the past forty-seven years support the chronological evidence as correct. The kingdom of the heavens is here! And soon, within this generation, it will come in all its destructive force against Satan and his wicked system of things. Under its rule this earth will become the everlasting paradise home of obedient mankind. So act in harmony with your prayers for God’s kingdom to come by joining the hundreds of thousands of Jehovah’s witnesses in preaching ‘this good news of the Kingdom in all the inhabited earth.’