The Last Days of This Wicked System of Things
THE Bible speaks of the time in which we are living as the “last days” or the “time of the end.” (2 Tim. 3:1; Dan. 11:40) The facts show that this is a limited period that has a definite beginning and a definite end. It began in 1914 when Jesus Christ was enthroned as king in the heavens. It will end when God destroys this present wicked system of things. What a relief it will be when the organizations and persons that cheat and oppress, and all who endanger the security of their fellowmen, are gone!
How soon will that be? God’s own Son, Jesus Christ, gives the answer. After drawing attention to the many things that mark the period from 1914 onward as the “time of the end,” Jesus said: “This generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.” (Matt. 24:34) Which generation did he mean?
Jesus had just referred to persons who would “see all these things.” “These things” are the events that have taken place since 1914 and those yet to occur down to the end of this wicked system. (Matt. 24:33) Persons born even as much as fifty years ago could not see “all these things.” They came on the scene after the foretold events were already under way.
However, there are people still living who were alive in 1914 and saw what was happening then and who were old enough that they still remember those events. This generation is getting up in years now. A great number of them have already passed away in death. Yet Jesus very pointedly said: “This generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.” Some of them will still be alive to see the end of this wicked system. This means that only a short time is left before the end comes! (Ps. 90:10) So now is the time to take urgent action if you do not want to be swept away with this wicked system.
WHY A “TIME OF THE END”
Although the Kingdom came to power in 1914, Jehovah did not immediately destroy those who were not serving him. How glad we can be of that! For God’s long-suffering has afforded us the opportunity to take a firm stand for his kingdom, and so escape destruction. The Bible helps us to view this matter in the proper light, saying: “Jehovah is not slow respecting his promise, as some people consider slowness, but he is patient with you because he does not desire any to be destroyed but desires all to attain to repentance.”—2 Pet. 3:9; see also Matthew 24:21, 22 and Romans 2:4.
To this end, Jehovah God has allowed time for a separating work during these “last days.” In his description of the “conclusion of the system of things,” Jesus foretold this activity saying:
“When the Son of man [Jesus Christ] arrives in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before him, and 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. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who have my Father’s blessing, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world.’ . . . Then he will say, in turn, to those on his left, ‘Be on your way from me, you who have been cursed, into the everlasting fire [of destruction] prepared for the Devil and his angels.’ . . . And these will depart into everlasting cutting-off, but the righteous ones into everlasting life.”—Matt. 25:31-46.
When judgment is executed at the conclusion of these “last days,” the ones destroyed will go into “everlasting cutting-off.” There will be no return to life by a resurrection for them. (2 Thess. 1:7-9) So, now, during these “last days,” God has graciously given men everywhere opportunity to choose the side of his kingdom and live.
How does God do this? How is the separating work accomplished? Under angelic direction God’s loyal servants throughout the earth proclaim the message of God’s kingdom so that honest-hearted persons can hear and act upon it. This is the work that Jesus foretold as part of the “sign” indicating the nearness of the end, saying: “Also, in all the nations the good news has to be preached first.”—Mark 13:10; see also Matthew 24:14 and Revelation 14:6, 7.
On the basis of their response to this message, and of their attitude toward those whom Jehovah uses as his messengers, the people are judged as to whether they will be preserved alive or not. (Matt. 25:40, 45) If you want life under the kingdom of God, it is vital to show it now by responding favorably to the Kingdom message and urging others to do the same. In the near future this preaching work will be finished. The door of opportunity will be closed. Then it will be too late!—Ezek. 33:8, 9.
WHO WILL BE DESTROYED?
In frank terms the Scriptures reveal that, when this wicked system comes to its end, “those slain by Jehovah will certainly come to be . . . from one end of the earth clear to the other end of the earth.” (Jer. 25:33) But you do not have to be among the slain. In his Word the Bible God clearly states what kind of persons, systems and organizations will be destroyed. Being forewarned, persons who love life, and who sincerely want to do what is right in the eyes of God, can get out of the danger zone.
That Jehovah God will see that his servants have a place of security when this system of things comes to its end is indicated by his prophetic invitation: “Go, my people, enter into your interior rooms, and shut your doors behind you. Hide yourself for but a moment until the denunciation passes over. For, look! Jehovah is coming forth from his place to call to account the error of the inhabitant of the land against him.”—Isa. 26:20, 21.
So, then, who does God say will be destroyed? As we might expect, it is the wicked. “When the wicked ones sprout as the vegetation and all the practicers of what is hurtful blossom forth, it is that they may be annihilated forever.” (Ps. 92:7) But let us not be misled by adopting the world’s viewpoint as to what is righteous and what is wicked. God plainly tells us that much of what this world views as commonplace is wicked in his eyes.
For example, fornication, adultery and homosexuality may be tolerated by modern-day society, but those who practice such things will not be spared alive by God at the end of this system of things. Likewise, those who are liars, thieves, drunkards and murderers will be barred from the realm of God’s kingdom. (1 Cor. 6:9, 10; Rev. 21:8) Some may have become involved in such practices because of bad associations. But now, knowing what God says, it is vital for these to change their ways if they want to avoid destruction. In God’s new system there will be no place for persons who corrupt and cheat and who endanger the lives of their fellowmen.
Nor will there be any organizations that mislead the people, and that includes false religious organizations. The Bible clearly shows that not all religion is approved by God. Jesus Christ forcefully said to certain religious leaders in his day: “Why is it you also overstep the commandment of God because of your tradition?” Then Jesus applied to these men God’s own words from Isaiah 29:13, saying: “It is in vain that they keep worshiping me, because they teach commands of men as doctrines.” (Matt. 15:3-9) So it should not surprise us that religion built on falsehood will become a thing of the past.
A religious organization may have beautiful buildings and colorful rituals, but if it does not teach the truth about God it really serves the purpose of the enemy of God, Satan the Devil. (1 Cor. 10:20; 2 Cor. 11:13-15) It may make some use of God’s Word, but if it seeks to be a part of the world by having a say in worldly affairs, then it is not obeying Jesus’ instruction to his followers: “You are no part of the world.” Therefore, as the Bible declares, that religious organization becomes “an enemy of God.”—John 15:19; Jas. 4:4.
Do we want to be numbered among God’s enemies? If not, it is up to us to prove to God now that we are not in sympathy with them, that we find pleasure only in the truth and that we ourselves practice worship that is “clean and undefiled from the standpoint of our God and Father.”—Jas. 1:27.
Also in line for destruction is the political system that has so cruelly oppressed mankind. As any study of history reveals, this system has a record of bloodshed and greedy grasping for power. Fittingly, God’s Word compares the entire political arrangement on earth to a “wild beast,” and it explains why the governments have manifested beastly qualities. It tells us that Satan the Devil, “the dragon,” has given the worldly governments their power and that they operate under his control.—Rev. 13:2; Dan. 8:20, 21; Luke 4:5-8.
God makes this information available to us so that we can decide intelligently as to whether we will have anything to do with the political affairs of the world or not. God also informs us what he will do. In Daniel 2:44 he speaks of the time when “the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin.” The evidence shows that the setting up of the kingdom of God took place in the heavens in 1914 C.E. But, as to the action that God’s kingdom will take in the near future, in the war of Armageddon or Har–Magedon, God goes on to say: “It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms [existing at the time of the end], and it itself will stand to times indefinite.”—See also Revelation 16:14, 16; 19:17-21.
After Satan’s entire visible system has been crushed, Jehovah will next turn his attention to Satan the Devil, the one whom the Bible calls “the god of this system of things.” He will crush Satan, and he will do this soon. (2 Cor. 4:4; Rom. 16:20) At the time the Devil was ousted from heaven following the establishment of the Kingdom in 1914, Satan knew that he had only “a short period of time.” (Rev. 12:12) Now that time is even shorter.
Soon the prophetic vision recorded at Revelation 20:1-3 will be fulfilled: “I saw an angel coming down out of heaven with the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he seized the dragon, the original serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, . . . And he hurled him into the abyss and shut it and sealed it over him.” So Satan, together with his demons, will be taken out of the way. Their influence will be gone. This present wicked system of things will have come to its end.
True Christians here on earth will have no part in that destruction. It is God’s war. He will use angelic forces under Christ to carry out the execution. He will also cause one part of Satan’s visible organization to turn on the other in violent hatred. But Jehovah’s servants on earth are not to join the violence, for the Bible shows that the warfare of Christians is spiritual, not physical. “We do not wage warfare according to what we are in the flesh,” wrote the Christian apostle Paul. “For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly.”—2 Cor. 10:3, 4.
Even when persecution is directed against them, Christians must not retaliate by seeking revenge against the rulers or trying to overthrow the government. They wait on God. “Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but yield place to the wrath; for it is written: ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay, says Jehovah.’”—Rom. 12:19.
WHAT WILL NEVER END
The end of this system of things will not be the end for this planet earth. God’s own Word guarantees: “The earth abideth for ever.” “He has founded the earth upon its established places; it will not be made to totter to time indefinite, or forever.” (Eccl. 1:4, AV; Ps. 104:5) It is not the earth that is at fault, but the wicked system upon it.
Furthermore, not all human life will come to an end. “Ungodly men” will be destroyed. (2 Pet. 3:7) The people who made up the unbelieving world will be gone. But, after stating this, 1 John 2:17 adds: “He that does the will of God remains forever.” It was to make this possible that Jesus Christ gave his life on behalf of mankind. Concerning that, Hebrews 5:9 says: “After he had been made perfect he became responsible for everlasting salvation to all those obeying him.”
The marvelous prospect of eternal life under the righteous kingdom of God awaits the survivors of the end of this wicked system of things. Will you be one of them? You may well be. But, if so, you must keep close in mind these words of inspired counsel: “There are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell. Hence, beloved ones, since you are awaiting these things, do your utmost to be found finally by him spotless and unblemished and in peace.” (2 Pet. 3:13, 14) Yes, you must “do your utmost” now, so that God’s Word will deeply influence your entire life. “Quit being fashioned after this system of things, but be transformed by making your mind over, that you may prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Rom. 12:1, 2) Doing so leads to survival. How thankful we can be that Jehovah, in his love and mercy, has made provision for survival!