Time Is Running Out!
These are urgent times! What should you do about them?
TIME is running out! Running out for what? Running out for the present generation, for the present wicked system of things, for the way things are being done today. In other words, time is running out for the rule of this planet by selfishness, wickedness, injustice and violence. Why can we be certain of this?
We can be certain of it because the Creator, Jehovah God, is a just, wise and loving God. Although he has seen fit to tolerate these unrighteous conditions for more than 4,000 years, he will not always tolerate them, for “there is an appointed time, even a time for every affair under the heavens.” There is a time for him to tolerate such conditions and a time for him to put an end to them, and that time will be soon, even as we read: “Just a little while longer, and the wicked one will be no more.”—Eccl. 3:1; Ps. 37:10.
What will that mean? It will mean a cataclysm as destructive as the global flood of Noah’s day, concerning which the apostle Peter wrote: “By the same word the heavens and the earth that are now are stored up for fire and are being reserved to the day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men.” That will mean the end of the world empire of false religion, known as “Babylon the great” in the Scriptures, and the end of all its supporters. It will mean the end of national entities with their militarism and corrupt politics and the end of ruthless and greedy commercialism. Will there be any human survivors? Yes, but comparatively few, even as was the case in Noah’s day.—2 Pet. 3:6, 7; Rev. 18:2.
But perhaps someone will object, saying, Those words about a little while and then the wicked being no more were written about three thousand years ago, so how do we know that the end of this wicked system of things is at hand? We can be certain of this because of the fulfillment of certain Bible prophecies; for example, the prophecy by Jesus Christ concerning the end of this very system of things.
LAST GENERATION FOR THIS SYSTEM OF THINGS
Yes, Jesus Christ, in replying to questions as to when he would return and when this present system of things would end, told that this very generation would be the last under this present system of things. In this prophecy he foretold the outbreak of world wars. He also told of famines, of earthquakes, of the increase of lawlessness and the preaching of the good news of God’s established kingdom, all of which have taken place on an unprecedented scale only since 1914, clearly marking that year as the beginning of the fulfillment of his words. He further said that “this generation will by no means pass away until all these things happen.”—Mark 13:30; Matt. 24:7-14.
To what generation was Jesus referring? Not to the one living in his day but, rather, to the one that would experience the things he foretold, which, we have seen, began in 1914. They will come to a climax, Jesus tells us, in the “great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.”—Matt. 24:21.
True, fifty-two years have flown by since these things began to occur and because of this some have allowed themselves to be complacently lulled to sleep, feeling that the time is yet many years away. But the passing of the years has not made the foretold destruction of this wicked system of things more remote; it has brought it closer, much closer. According to Jesus’ words, at least a representative number, and perhaps many, of the generation living when his great prophecy began to be fulfilled in 1914 will see “all these things happen,” including the destruction of false religion and the political systems of this world, with all their friends and supporters.—Jas. 4:4; Dan. 2:44.
URGENCY AN ESSENCE OF CHRISTIANITY
The fact is that Christianity from its very start was an urgent religion; there was nothing complacent about it. Jesus felt an urgency about his commission. He knew that his time to get his work done was limited: “We must work the works of him that sent me while it is day; the night is coming when no man can work.”—John 9:4.
In his great prophecy concerning our own day he forcefully illustrated this, saying: “It is like a man traveling abroad that left his house and gave the authority to his slaves, to each one his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to keep on the watch. Therefore keep on the watch, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether late in the day or at midnight or at cock-crowing or early in the morning; in order that when he arrives suddenly, he does not find you sleeping. But what I say to you I say to all, Keep on the watch.”—Mark 13:33-37.
That Christians were to be ever on the watch, alert, with a sense of urgency, with expectancy, can be seen from the writings of Jesus’ apostles. Note the words of Paul: “You people know the season, that it is already the hour for you to awake from sleep, for now our salvation is nearer than at the time when we became believers. The night is well along; the day has drawn near. Let us therefore put off the works belonging to darkness and let us put on the weapons of the light.”—Rom. 13:11, 12.
The apostle Paul made a similar reference in his counsel on singleness and marriage: “The time left is reduced. Henceforth let those who have wives be as though they had none, . . . for the scene of this world is changing.” And so also in counseling Christians not to forsake the gathering of themselves together as some have the custom, but to encourage one another, he adds, “and all the more so as you behold the day drawing near.”—1 Cor. 7:29, 31; Heb. 10:24, 25.
No question about it: If Christians were ever to be in a state of urgency, expectancy, if they were ever to be watchful, awake and alert, which the above scriptures show that they were, then they should today feel an even greater urgency in view of where we are on the stream of time, as seen from the fulfillment of Bible prophecies.
LIKE THE DAYS OF NOAH AND OF LOT
Helping us to appreciate this added urgency and that time is running out for this generation are the words of Jesus likening our times to the days of Noah: “For as they were in those days before the flood, eating and drinking, men marrying and women being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark; and they took no note until the flood came and swept them all away, so the presence of the Son of man will be.” Not that there was or is anything wrong with marrying and building houses, but the point Jesus was making was that people were and would be so absorbed in these things that they take no note of the times in which they are living until it is too late!—Matt. 24:38, 39.
Jesus also likened our urgent days in which time is running out to those of Lot, the nephew of the patriarch Abraham. When the time came for Jehovah God to destroy the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, he sent his angels to hurry Lot and his family out of them: “When the dawn ascended, then the angels became urgent with Lot, saying: ‘Get up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are found here, for fear you may be swept away in the error of the city!’” When Lot lingered, they took him and his family by the hand and hurried them out, saying further: “Escape for your soul! Do not look behind you and do not stand still in all the District! Escape to the mountainous region for fear you may be swept away!” And remember, Jesus said that the present time would be as the days of Lot, just that urgent!—Gen. 19:15-17; Luke 17:28-30.
Further underscoring the need for urgency in these times are Jesus’ commands to Christians living today: “Let the man on the housetop not come down to take the goods out of his house; and let the man in the field not return to the house to pick up his outer garment. . . . Keep praying that your flight may not occur in wintertime, nor on the sabbath day.” (Matt. 24:16-20) How forcefully these illustrations likewise emphasize the urgency of our times! We are living in times as urgent as those of Noah and of Lot.
Do not be like the two prospective sons-in-law of Lot. When Lot was told about the coming destruction of the cities of the plain he went to his sons-in-law and urged them: “Get up! Get out of this place, because Jehovah is bringing the city to ruin!” However, “in the eyes of his sons-in-law [Lot] seemed like a man who was joking,” and so they perished with the rest of the wicked inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah.—Gen. 19:12-14.
Yes, let those who will, ridicule the urgency of our times, even as did the sons-in-law of Lot. Their ridicule does not prove that they are right but, rather, proves that they are mistaken, for even such ridicule was foretold to occur in our day: “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.’” But all things have not always gone “exactly” the same since the beginning of creation, even as we have just seen.—2 Pet. 3:3-7.
GUARD AGAINST COMPLACENCY
Clearly, today is no time for complacency, but a time to be watchful, alert, and to that end practicing self-discipline, even as Jesus further said in warning about our day: “But pay attention to yourselves that your hearts never become weighed down with overeating and heavy drinking and anxieties of life, and suddenly that day be instantly upon you as a snare. For it will come in upon all those dwelling upon the face of all the earth. Keep awake, then, all the time making supplication that you may succeed in escaping all these things that are destined to occur, and in standing before the Son of man.”—Luke 21:34-36.
How timely are these words of Jesus in view of the material prosperity of the Western world! With it does indeed come the temptation to indulge in overeating and heavy drinking and worries about money. Some may be inclined to devote much time to acquiring material possessions, as if the present system of things were going to be here for many years to come. But Jesus warned against being overly concerned with material things: “Guard against every sort of covetousness, because even when a person has an abundance his life does not result from the things he possesses.” “For the soul [life] is worth more than food and the body than clothing.” These words have more force today than ever before because of our living so close to the end of this system of things. More than ever it is sheer folly to go against Jesus’ words!—Luke 12:15, 23; Matt. 6:19-21.
Truly more than ever before it is the course of wisdom to ‘keep on seeking first the kingdom and God’s righteousness,’ and to ‘keep strict watch that how you walk is not as unwise but as a wise person, buying out the opportune time for yourself because the days are wicked, at the same time always seeking to perceive what the will of God is.’ Buy out the time by taking it from things that are dispensable and use it for such all-important things as studying God’s Word and associating with other Christians, and then in all things act in harmony with what you learn to be God’s will.—Matt. 6:33; Eph. 5:15-17.
The fact that time is running out for this generation and its system of things should make Christians beware of letting their roots grow too deeply in it. Even as the wise man eats to live and does not live to eat, so Christians should view everything of a material nature as being a means to an end and not the end itself. That will include their choice of secular work, the kind of house they live in, the kind of clothes they wear, the kind of food they eat, the kind of literature they read, the kind of television programs they watch as well as how much time they spend watching television. As the apostle Paul put it: “Those making use of the world as those not using it to the full; for the scene of this world is changing.” Yes, the present system of things is soon coming to its end!—1 Cor. 7:31.
God’s Word tells us of a time when there will be ‘a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness will dwell.’ It will be a time when God will ‘wipe out every tear from the eyes of men, when death will be no more, neither sorrow nor crying, neither sickness nor death.’ It will be an order of things without violence, injustice, wickedness and oppression. Poverty will be no more, but ‘men will build houses and have the occupancy of them, they will plant vineyards and eat the fruits of them.’ And what is more, they will be preparing for and welcoming back from the graves thousands of millions that have died since the days of Abel, the first martyred faithful servant of God Jehovah. All earth will become a paradise.—2 Pet. 3:13; Rev. 21:4; Isa. 65:21; Rev. 20:13.
That is a new order worth hoping for, waiting for, working for and now being urgent about—especially since time is indeed running out!