A Great Change Near—What Is It?
THERE can be no doubt about it; some kind of major change is near. You have recently seen big changes come overnight. U.S. President Nixon’s recent wage-price freeze is an example. “I’m not surprised at anything anymore,” is an expression often heard.
With the churches in a state of unrest, with law and order becoming harder to maintain, you may feel that anything can happen, even in your own neighborhood. But can we know what will actually happen? God’s greatest Prophet gave an illustration to help us to know. It is found in the Bible at Luke 21:29-31.
As this illustration shows, not just “anything” is going to happen. Instead we are comforted with the assurance that God is going to control the matter through his kingdom. What is to take place will be for our good if we seize the opportunity now to find out what to do. It is going to take place very quickly, for Jesus went on to say: “This generation [that experiences today’s situation] will by no means pass away until all things occur.” Then, to emphasize the truthfulness of his statement he said, in effect, that more likely would heaven and earth pass out of existence than that his word would fail.—Luke 21:32, 33.
It is almost like reading the latest newspaper to read the apostle Paul’s description of the “last days.” Paul wrote: “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.” This would be the situation, said Paul, among professed Christians, those “having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power.” Consider each one of these bad traits. Then think of the times you personally have been shocked to see and read about these being displayed by so-called “Christian” people.—2 Tim. 3:1-5.
You may agree that a major change is near, and is needed. But you may hear some say, ‘Of course changes are coming about, but that doesn’t prove we are in the last days. No, it is just a cycle we are going through.’
The apostle Peter spoke about this very attitude, reminding his associates to “remember the sayings previously spoken by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord.” He warned 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. 3:2-4) This is a very dangerous attitude to take. Why?
GOD NOT SLOW
Well, astronauts have seen from their position out in space that man is insignificant as compared to the universe. The prophet was speaking truly when he said: “There is One who is dwelling above the circle of the earth, the dwellers in which are as grasshoppers.” (Isa. 40:22) Men, especially those who oppose Him, are as insignificant to God as grasshoppers are to men. And as to God’s view of time, it is also on a different scale from man’s. Peter, going on to speak about this very matter, says that the scoffers, counting God slow, overlook the fact that “one day is with Jehovah as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.” (2 Pet. 3:8) We need to take these things into account.
Since the warning message has been proclaimed strongly in the world and especially in Christendom for the past fifty years, some have said, ‘Oh, they’ve been saying we were in the last days since my father’s time—before I was born!’ Well, is fifty years too long to warn the nations? If God is truly concerned about mankind, would this be acting too slowly?
If a grasshopper in a field could hear and understand the farmer speak of burning over the field he too might say, ‘Ah, he said that back in my father’s day, and nothing’s happened yet.’ But this skeptical insect would be overlooking the fact that what is two or three generations to a grasshopper is only a short time to a man. Nevertheless, in his own lifetime that grasshopper might well experience the disastrous results of such scoffing.
A CHANGE FOR MANKIND’S GOOD
The farmer would burn over his field, perhaps to get rid of grasshopper pests and for the benefit of crops to grow in the field the next season. Likewise, God purposes to destroy, not the earth, but those who practice the things that make the times critical and hard to live in and who, by their selfishness, are polluting and “ruining the earth.” He is interested in persons’ living in right conditions on it. He assured Israel of their return to their land, speaking of himself as “the Former of the earth and the Maker of it, He the One who firmly established it, who did not create it simply for nothing, who formed it even to be inhabited.” He will see that the entire earth is inhabited under the secure, peaceful conditions of his Kingdom rule.—Rev. 11:18; Isa. 45:18.
Yes, God wants no people having merely “a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power.” He desires those who have true godly devotion, who take note of his word and follow it. The apostle Peter writes: “Jehovah knows how to deliver people of godly devotion out of trial, but to reserve unrighteous people for the day of judgment to be cut off.” (2 Pet. 2:9) The change that he will bring will be marvelous in the eyes of those who now read and understand his word as written in the Bible. They will be able to rejoice in the “new heavens and a new earth [not a new planet, but human society on a cleansed, beautified earth] that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.” (2 Pet. 3:13) By studying the Bible you can learn how to be among these.