What Is the Future of Today’s Youth?
“Remember, now, your grand Creator in the days of your young manhood.”—Eccl. 12:1.
1, 2. What has marked the period since 1914?
TODAY’S youth were born into the most violent period of human history. It began with man’s first world war in 1914, a holocaust that snuffed out the lives of more than 13 million persons, military and civilian. The frightful bloodshed and raw violence of that war seemed to open a door to even more shocking acts of man’s inhumanity to man.
2 In less than twenty years after World War I ended fiendish concentration camps had been established in Nazi Germany where millions of prisoners were systematically murdered. Then World War II erupted with even greater violence and ruthlessness than World War I, taking the lives of 22 million persons. This has been followed by smaller wars that have been breaking out periodically like erupting volcanoes.
3. What seems to have been the moral effect of the world wars upon the people?
3 The inhumanity that men have shown to fellow humans seems to have had a lasting and detrimental effect upon adults and the youth that have been born into this violent period. Respect for human life, law and order and good morals has plummeted. It is not unusual now for delinquent youths to engage in senseless acts of destruction and lawlessness. It is not unusual to see among them, year by year, a steady increase of murders, muggings, rapes, thefts, and other crimes. Increasing, too, are the riots that are turning cities in many countries into virtual battlefields. We are seeing what was long ago foretold in the Bible: “Wicked men and impostors will advance from bad to worse.”—2 Tim. 3:13.
4. Why are the hearts of many people fearful?
4 In view of this trend the hearts of many people are fearful for the future. They can see no letup in the growing violence and lawlessness. They are also keenly aware of the constant threat of a catastrophic nuclear world war. As foretold, they are becoming “faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth.”—Luke 21:26.
5. What are some questions that young people might have about their future?
5 So what will be the future of today’s youth? Will it be a violent death or physical mangling in one of the many wars that keep breaking out? Will it be an uncertain and fearful existence in a violent system of things where law and order have broken down completely? Will it be annihilation in an earth-encompassing nuclear war that some persons estimate will take the lives of hundreds of millions of persons? Or will it be a peaceful and secure future in a worldwide system of things that is better than what we have today?
6. Why is it well for young people to pay close attention to what their Creator says?
6 It is not possible for man to foresee the future, but his Creator can. By paying close attention to what he says, young people can learn how it is possible for them to have a secure and peaceful future, a future that will be beyond their fondest dreams. But before we go into that, let us see what our Creator, Jehovah God, has purposed for the present, violent world of sinful mankind. Its future will also be the future of a great many of today’s youths.
AS IT WAS IN THE DAYS OF NOAH
7. With what time can the period since 1914 be compared, and how are the two similar?
7 The period since 1914 can be compared with another period in human history that became noted for its violence and lawlessness. It too was a time when people abandoned good moral standards and did whatever their selfish desires moved them to do without regard for the interests or the welfare of others. Turn to the Bible book of Genesis and read the Ge fifth verse in chapter six. It states that the thoughts of the people were “bad all the time.” Now notice what Ge 6 verse eleven says: “The earth came to be ruined in the sight of the true God and the earth became filled with violence.” That is precisely the situation we have earth wide today. Thus the age immediately before the great flood of Noah’s day compares well with the one since 1914.
8. How did Jehovah react to the badness of the world of that time?
8 Take note now how Jehovah God reacted to the widespread badness of that world. “After that God said to Noah: ‘The end of all flesh has come before me, because the earth is full of violence as a result of them; and here I am bringing them to ruin together with the earth. And as for me, here I am bringing the deluge of waters upon the earth to bring to ruin all flesh in which the force of life is active from under the heavens. Everything that is in the earth will expire.”’ (Gen. 6:13, 17) And that is precisely what happened. All humans and other air-breathing creatures on the land surfaces that were not in the safety of the great waterproof craft that Noah had built were drowned in the deluge of waters. (Gen. 7:17-23) But Noah and the seven other persons with him were preserved and began repopulating the earth after the waters subsided.
9. What is the significance to us of what happened in the days of Noah?
9 What does this history of events that happened more than four thousand years ago mean to us? It is an example of how our Creator reacted to a world that gave itself over to violence and everything he regarded as being bad. Is not the present world of sinful mankind just as bad, if not worse? Is it not reasonable to expect him to show his indignation toward it too? As his patience ran out for that world, so it will soon run out for the present one.
10. What has Jehovah promised to do to the present violent system of things?
10 Forewarning what he will do, Jehovah God promised that he will “bring to ruin those ruining the earth.” (Rev. 11:18) When he acted against the world of Noah’s day, the people were taken by surprise because of the suddenness of it. Although Noah had warned them, they did not believe him. So will be the experience of this present world of sinful mankind. Notice what God’s Word foretells: “For you yourselves know quite well that Jehovah’s day is coming exactly as a thief in the night. Whenever it is that they are saying: ‘Peace and security!’ then sudden destruction is to be instantly upon them just as the pang of distress upon a pregnant woman; and they will by no means escape.” (1 Thess. 5:2, 3) As a thief strikes when his victim is not expecting it, catching him by surprise, so will the destruction God has purposed for the present system of things catch the people by surprise.
11. Why can the destruction of the world before the Flood be regarded as a forewarning of what is coming upon the present system of things?
11 Comparing this period with the days of Noah, Jesus Christ said: “Moreover, just as it occurred in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of man.” (Luke 17:26, 27, 30) There is a striking similarity in conduct of the people, their faithlessness, their immorality, their violence and their indifference to divine warnings. Jesus would not have made that comparison if he had not intended his listeners to conclude that the destruction of the world before the Flood was a forewarning of what the present world of disobedient people faces at God’s hands. The apostle Peter shows this to be so by pointedly comparing what happened to that world with what will happen to this one. He then said that the present “heavens” and “earth” are “reserved to the day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men.”—2 Pet. 3:5-7.
12. (a) What can this period since 1914 rightly be called? (b) What does this mean for young people who ignore God’s purposes and his commands?
12 These and other prophecies definitely mark this exceptionally violent period since 1914 as the “time of the end,” the “last days” of the present system of things. This means that the young people of today who ignore God’s purposes and commands will have a very short future. How can they expect to survive the end of this system of things while clinging to it and ignoring God’s arrangement for survival? They can be compared with the people who cling to a sinking ship despite warnings of disaster and perish with it.
13-15. (a) What is the course to survival today, and what does it involve for many young people? (b) Why must there be a change?
13 During these “last days” is the time to flee from the course of the present world of wicked mankind, separating yourself from it. (2 Cor. 6:14-17) Its violence, its lawlessness, its immorality, its political and commercial corruption and its disrespect for the will of God must be left behind for the clean, Christian course of obedience and faithfulness to Jehovah God. This is the course to survival today as it was for Noah and his companions.
14 This involves a change in thinking and a change in personality for many of today’s youths. No longer can they be past all moral sense and expect to survive. Why should God preserve young people who think his laws against fornication and other forms of moral uncleanness are out-of-date? He did not preserve those who loved the badness of the world before the Flood, and it is not reasonable to expect him to preserve people who love the badness of this present world. Such persons, the Bible says, have “come to be past all moral sense” and have given “themselves over to loose conduct to work uncleanness of every sort with greediness.” (Eph. 4:19) So a change in personality is necessary.
15 How can a young person who practices moral uncleanness, shows disrespect for parents, rebels against lawful authorities, greedily pursues sensual pleasures that may include the use of mind-warping drugs and embraces ungodly views of atheistic adults expect to survive the end of this world of sinful mankind? Is he not like the people of Noah’s day who were destroyed in the Flood? His whole way of thinking and way of life manifests contempt for God’s righteous laws. He will have to allow God’s Word to transform him if he wants to survive. God cannot be expected to preserve anyone who loves what is unrighteous. (Eph. 4:23, 24) The life of such a young person will be cut short at the foretold “war of the great day of God the Almighty,” which will soon come upon the present system of things.—Rev. 16:14.
16. Are all young people indifferent to God’s laws and purposes?
16 But not all young people today are indifferent to the purposes of God and his fine laws. Not all of them are involved in the distorted thinking of worldly youths or in their lawless acts. There are some who are remembering their “Creator in the days of [their] young manhood” and young womanhood. (Eccl. 12:1) They have a different future.
YOUNG PEOPLE WITH A FINE FUTURE
17. How are some young people today different?
17 There were eight persons living before the great Deluge who did not follow the majority but who chose to live lives in harmony with the will of God. None were participants in the violence and immoral acts of that period. So today there are people who are not going along with the godlessness and lawlessness of the majority. These include fine, young boys and girls who think more of being acceptable to God than of being acceptable to the other young people in their age-groups. Notwithstanding what other young people may think or say, they guide their actions by the righteous laws of God.
18. What good counsel does Jehovah give young people, and as a result of it what are they able to do?
18 Respecting his wisdom these young people listen to his wise counsel as he recommends in his written Word. Notice what he says to them: “My son, if you will receive my sayings and treasure up my own commandments with yourself, so as to pay attention to wisdom with your ear, that you may incline your heart to discernment; in that case you will understand the fear of Jehovah, and you will find the very knowledge of God.” They will also understand “righteousness and judgment and uprightness, the entire course of what is good.”—Prov. 2:1, 2, 5, 9.
19. (a) Why are they not confused by world events or disillusioned by the actions of world leaders? (b) What do they have the courage to do?
19 By paying attention to the wisdom of God’s written Word these young people are not confused by the course of world events or disillusioned by the failure of world leaders to do what is just. They are able to recognize in these events the evidence that marks this period as the “last days.” Knowing what the unpleasant future will be for those who cling to this violent world of sinful men, they have the courage to strike out on a different path, one that is in harmony with the laws and purposes of God. This is not easy. It means they must act differently from what is popular, and for doing this others may speak abusively of them.—1 Pet. 4:4.
20. Why should it be obvious that going along with the world of mankind that is alienated from God is not the wise thing to do?
20 It would be much easier to go along with the crowd and have its approval. But what if Noah’s three sons had done that instead of standing firm for what was right in God’s eyes? Their future would have ended with that old system of things at the Deluge. Is it not obvious when we look back to that time that they did the right thing by refusing to do what was pleasing in the eyes of the majority?
21. (a) What will many young people be able to do in the future? (b) What is more important than being concerned about what others say about you for obeying God?
21 The time is not far away when many young people of today will be able to look back and rejoice that they stood firm for what is right in the eyes of God despite what others said and did. That certainly must have been the feeling of Noah’s sons after the Deluge destroyed the generation of their time, but they were still alive. Is not being alive more important than the unpleasant things other people might think and say about you or even what they might do to you? Is it not better to do what is right in God’s eyes, despite what they say, and be alive long after they have ceased to be? Although they may now regard you as if a lowly dog, it is well to remember that “a live dog is better off than a dead lion.”—Eccl. 9:4.
22. What is the future before the young people who gain God’s approval?
22 When this old system of things passes away, the young people who gain God’s approval will have the prospect of continuing to live on this earth forever. What a marvelous future that is! This is what the Bible assures them: “Furthermore, the world is passing away and so is its desire, but he that does the will of God remains forever.”—1 John 2:17.
23. Why should a future of eternal life not be regarded as unrealistic?
23 Perhaps it seems unrealistic to you to talk of an indefinite future, one of eternal life. Because you have not seen anyone who did not grow old and die, does that mean it is impossible for a human to have eternal youth and life? Remember, it is Jehovah God, who created mankind in the beginning, who promises this for those who obey and serve him and his royal Son, Jesus Christ. (John 3:16; Heb. 5:9) Look how long a tree is able to live. Some of the giant sequoias are more than 3,000 years old and still have many more years ahead of them. Since he can give a tree such long life, is it not reasonable for him to give eternal life to intelligent creatures who love, worship, obey and serve him?
SERVING THE CREATOR WHILE YOUNG
24, 25. (a) What is better for a young person to pursue than material things? (b) Explain the folly of living for material things.
24 There are many pursuits in the commercial world to which these young people could devote their youthful strength and keen minds for selfish benefits. But what lasting good would that do them? The material things that the people of Noah’s day hungrily pursued were of no help to them when the Deluge came upon them. Would it not be wiser to put the preservation of your life ahead of the pursuit of money and material possessions? In these “last days” in which we are now living, young people can do this by putting the service of their Creator before their desire for material things.—Luke 12:15, 22, 23.
25 Material possessions deteriorate with time and wear out with use, and so their benefit to a person is of limited duration. Consider, for example, the person who expends his youthful strength and vigor in a business that eventually brings him a fine income. He has a large account in the bank and holds many securities, but how safe is it all? An economic crisis can cause the value of his securities to tumble, and the bank can close its doors, leaving him with nothing. This is possible in a severe monetary crisis even in countries where savings accounts are government insured. On the other hand runaway inflation can eat away the value of his savings. Even if neither of these eventualities happened to him, he can still die suddenly, leaving behind all that he had worked for and saved. What benefit could all his money and other material possessions do him then?—Luke 12:16-21.
26. Why is serving God better than pursuing material things?
26 A young person can devote his energies to a much more beneficial purpose by serving his Creator. He will then be following a course of action that brings God’s favor, which is essential for preservation through the end of the present system of things. This would be like storing up “treasures in heaven” that do not deteriorate with time, wear out or cease to be of benefit upon the person’s death. Noah and his sons obeyed God and served him and thus laid up treasures that preserved their lives through the Deluge. Those treasures were God’s approval, blessing and protection. Since we are in the last days of the present world of disobedient mankind, would that not be the wise thing for young people to do?—Matt. 6:19, 20.
27, 28. How are the youth among Jehovah’s witnesses serving their Creator, and why is their future much superior to that of young people who are not serving him?
27 The young people among Jehovah’s witnesses are doing this by engaging in the Christian ministry. In obedience to Scriptural commands they are preaching and teaching the liberating truths of God’s Word “publicly and from house to house.” (Acts 20:20; Matt. 28:19, 20; Heb. 13:15) It is a fine work that turns the hearts of people to their Creator and puts them on a course that leads to the preservation of their lives.
28 Although these young people are receiving no material benefits from their ministry, they are receiving spiritual benefits that last indefinitely. They are storing up for themselves “treasures in heaven.” Certainly the future that God has purposed for these young people who serve and obey him is much better than the short future ahead of the young people who are ignoring him. Is not eternal life much better than selfishly living for only a short time pursuing sensual pleasures, material riches and personal fame? They think so.
29, 30. In what kind of system of things can God-fearing young people expect to live?
29 Do not conclude that the young people who choose to be different from the majority of young people by serving their Creator will be living indefinitely in a violent, selfish and insecure system of things as we have today. That will not be the case. When God brings the present violent system to an end and all who persistently cling to it, a new system of things will replace it. Surviving mankind will be under the righteous rule of God’s kingdom.
30 As its King, Jesus Christ will rule in justice and righteousness. Then men toward whom Jehovah God has goodwill are going to have on earth eternal peace and security. (Luke 2:14; Isa. 9:6, 7) This is what our Creator has purposed, and whatever he purposes never fails to become reality.—Isa. 55:11.
GRAND PRIVILEGES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE
31. What do the privileges of service in God’s organization enable young people to do, and what is one of those privileges?
31 Within Jehovah’s earthly organization today there are grand privileges of service for dedicated young people. These privileges enable them to do meaningful work that benefits their fellowman. But, more important than that, it honors their Creator. One of the privileges is that of spending a large portion of their time in proclaiming God’s purposes and teaching people the liberating truths of his written Word. This is called the pioneer service. It might be compared with the ministerial work that Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, did. Most of his time was devoted to this fine way of serving his Creator.
32. How do pioneers support themselves, and how are they accumulating “letters of recommendation”?
32 As Paul worked part time at a secular occupation so as to pay for his own expenses, so do pioneers today. (Acts 18:3; 20:34) These full-time servants of Jehovah take on part-time secular jobs so they can devote at least 100 hours a month actually to preaching and teaching God’s purposes in the homes of the people. This unselfish work by young pioneers is helping a great number of fine people to start following the way that has Jehovah’s approval and that leads to a marvelous future for them after the end of the present system of things. In this manner these young people are accumulating “letters of recommendation,” living letters that are evidence of their good works.—2 Cor. 3:1-3.
33. What fine prospect for additional service privileges do young pioneers have?
33 For young people who have entered the pioneer service there is the grand prospect of attending the Watchtower Bible School of Gilead, where they will be prepared to do missionary work in foreign lands. This is a privilege of service by which young people can be of real service to people who have not heard of God’s purposes. They will learn the language of those people so they can teach them the liberating truths of God’s written Word right in their own homes, whether those homes be mud huts or palaces. Some of the young people who receive this special training will eventually be used in a special capacity as traveling representatives of the Watch Tower Society or they might be given the responsibility of supervising this ministerial work for a whole country.
34. What privileges await those young people who desire to serve their Creator in one of the branches of the Watch Tower Society?
34 For other young people there is the excellent privilege of doing special work in one of the more than ninety branches of the Watch Tower Society. Some of these branches have printing facilities for producing publications useful in teaching people the life-giving truths of God’s Word. These branches in particular can make good use of dedicated young men and women who want to devote their youthful energies to God’s service. At the headquarters of the Watchtower Society in Brooklyn, New York, and at its farms there are about 1,400 dedicated witnesses of Jehovah, of which there are about 900 young persons under the age of thirty who are devoting all their time in manufacturing Bibles and Bible-study aids or working at one of the many other tasks that keep this huge establishment functioning. They also spend evenings and weekends in engaging in the Christian ministry. What a fine way for young people to serve their Creator in the few remaining years of this present violent system of things!
35. What are young people encouraged to do?
35 If you are a young person, why waste your life in pursuing sensual pleasures or trying to gain riches and a position in the present system of things that will soon pass away? Why be like the young people of Noah’s day who pursued the wrong things and had their lives cut short in the Deluge? Consider the evidence that marks this period since 1914 as the “last days.” Pay attention to the wise counsel God has put in his written Word for you and trust him to do what he has said he will do. Serve your Creator and enjoy the marvelous future he has purposed for obedient mankind.
[Picture on page 145]
Youths who look to the future lay up “treasures in heaven” by engaging in the Christian ministry