The Best Time to Be Alive
‘OH! FOR THE GOOD OLD DAYS!’
How many times have you said this?
But would you actually have wanted to live in your grandfather’s day? Think of World War I and perhaps even World War II, which you would have had to endure.
Or, suppose you had lived earlier, in the “dark ages.” Would you have had to undergo fewer hardships back then? Would you have had a better hope, if any at all?
The Bible counsels against longing for former days. It warns: “Do not say: ‘Why has it happened that the former days proved to be better than these?’ for it is not due to wisdom that you have asked about this.”—Eccl. 7:10.
Really, NOW is the best time yet to be alive, in spite of the increased distress in the earth.
Why? Because we are nearer to the fulfillment of God’s purpose toward the earth. We are near the peaceful thousand-year reign of God’s kingdom, which will bring enduring blessings to mankind.
This is no false hope. It is not some kind of theoretical, wishful thinking. It is based on reality. It is based on the promise of the Creator—not only on a promise, but upon the sure prophetic words of One who has already proved that he can do it, and who has also proved that he can foretell such a thing.
MANKIND’S BENEFIT IN MIND
The Almighty God chose to give a clear vision of that kingdom to the apostle John, who had been a faithful servant of the Lord Jesus Christ for some sixty-five years. John was invited to look ahead, down the stream of time, to see that government actually administering all earth’s affairs. John wrote down what he saw in the Bible book that is called Revelation or Apocalypse, which means, An Unveiling.
Because of John’s continuing to proclaim the good news of Christ’s coming kingdom he had been branded as a criminal by the Roman Empire—banished into exile on the island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea. No doubt this marvelous vision was a great comfort to him. It was a reward for his long years of faithful work, to be the first to see many details about that kingdom and to know that it will rule for a thousand years, resulting in earth’s becoming a paradise. Such information can also be very comforting to us.—Rev. chaps. 20, 21.*
This kingdom will rule for the good of mankind. True, it will bring honor to God and will establish his sovereignty everlastingly over everything on the earth. It will bring this single rebellious planet into harmony with the rest of his universe. But the real beneficiaries will be humankind. Its King is the “seed” by means of whom “all nations of the earth will certainly bless themselves.”—Gen. 22:18.
A DEMONSTRATION OF GOD’S TRUTHFULNESS AND POWER
But what about the sureness of hope in this beneficial rule—the reliability of the promise? Note what God did, demonstrating his ability to exercise rulership over men, and to foretell years ahead what he will do.
About twenty-five centuries ago a certain king, Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, was the undisputed world ruler. Babylon had crushed the Second World Power, Assyria, and now became the great Third World Power of the Bible’s historical record.
But its king, Nebuchadnezzar, made a serious mistake. In his pride and arrogance he overlooked the fact that the God of heaven had merely permitted him to be where he was. God had allowed him to take the Jewish nation, God’s own people, into exile because of their disobedience, as a disciplinary punishment. It was not Nebuchadnezzar’s strength that enabled him to take Jerusalem. To illustrate this for Nebuchadnezzar and for succeeding generations, God sent a message to Nebuchadnezzar in a dream that greatly disturbed the king.
After conferring with his religious soothsayers and astrologers and getting no satisfactory explanation of the dream, Nebuchadnezzar called in a Jewish slave, the prophet Daniel.—Dan. chap. 4.
Daniel explained what the dream meant. It foretold for Nebuchadnezzar a humiliating seven-year discipline from God. Nevertheless, a year later, Nebuchadnezzar began to brag, glorying over his capital city Babylon. Hardly had he finished his boast when he heard a voice out of the invisible—out of heaven, saying:
“To you it is being said, O Nebuchadnezzar the king, ‘The kingdom itself has gone away from you, and from mankind they are driving even you away, and with the beasts of the field your dwelling will be. Vegetation they will give even to you to eat just like bulls, and seven times themselves will pass over you, until you know that the Most High is Ruler in the kingdom of mankind, and that to the one whom he wants to he gives it.’”—Dan. 4:29-32.
What followed immediately? Exactly what God said would happen. It is in Daniel’s account. Babylonian records that have been unearthed provide no account of the fact that Nebuchadnezzar was mad for seven literal years, as the Bible shows to be the case. But would we expect the supporters and servants of a dictator king to record his humiliation? We cannot imagine Hitler’s historians recording Hitler’s defeats if he had returned to power as did Nebuchadnezzar at the end of his seven years’ madness. Other nations also have followed the policy of “whitewashing” their rulers and governments, as we can see in the annals of ancient Egypt, Assyria and many modern countries. But the Bible gives us the true, candid, unvarnished historical record.
When Nebuchadnezzar’s sanity was restored by God, little did he realize that the “seven times” were to have a greater fulfillment of a year for each day of the seven prophetic years of 360 days each, a total of 2,520 (7 x 360) years. Little did he realize that it was a prophecy revealing that, from the overthrow of God’s representative kingdom when Jerusalem was desolated in 607 B.C.E., there would be no king of the line of David exercising ruling authority in the affairs of mankind for 2,520 years. During this time ‘Jerusalem would be trampled on by the nations until the appointed times of the nations should be fulfilled’—that is, God would permit Gentile domination of the earth, with no king on the throne representing God. At the end of the 2,520-year period God’s due time would arrive to set his Messiah upon the throne in the heavens. According to Bible chronology and world conditions fulfilling prophecy, these “times of the Gentiles” expired in 1914 C.E.—Luke 21:24, American Standard Version; Ezek. 21:27.
This would mean that we are now in the short period of time before the Messianic kingdom ‘comes’ against the present wicked system of things and ushers in the peaceful thousand-year reign.—Matt. 6:10.
CAN A BOOK WRITTEN BY MEN BE RELIABLE?
Some may be hesitant to rely on the Bible, since it was written by men. But often authors dictate their thoughts to others who act as mere secretaries. Similarly, historical and documentary works are not the ideas of their writers or compilers. While it is true that the Bible was written by men, it does not have to be the word of men. In its own pages the Bible claims to be the work of divine inspiration, and is written over the name of “the Most High himself, and the One living to time indefinite.” After his humiliating experience, Nebuchadnezzar himself clearly saw and acknowledged that Daniel’s words in interpretation of the dream were not merely Daniel’s words. He admitted:
“At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted up to the heavens my eyes, and my own understanding began to return to me; and I blessed the Most High himself, and the One living to time indefinite I praised and glorified, because his rulership is a rulership to time indefinite and his kingdom is for generation after generation. And all the inhabitants of the earth are being considered as merely nothing, and he is doing according to his own will among the army of the heavens and the inhabitants of the earth. And there exists no one that can check his hand or that can say to him, ‘What have you been doing?’”—Dan. 4:34, 35.
Really, the fact that men were used as secretaries in recording what God desired in the Bible does not lessen its authenticity or its impact upon mankind. The experiences of Job, David, Daniel and other men, their feelings, trials, their keeping integrity under test, give a reality and feeling of closeness that nothing else could give. Also, it encourages us as ordinary humans, for we can identify ourselves as undergoing many of the same things, and know that integrity can be maintained by humans if they continue to put trust in God. It gives the Bible a fine, comforting warmth and a stronger ring of truth than a book that claimed to be dropped coldly out of heaven could give.
Consider these facts: God could foretell with accuracy that Nebuchadnezzar would be mad for seven years and then be restored to his throne. Jesus Christ himself referred to the prophecy about the “times of the Gentiles” as authentic, and indicated that these were to come to their conclusion in a time long after his own day on earth. Then ask yourself: Would it not be possible, also, for God to foretell a thousand years of his Messiah’s reign?
Certainly men cannot bring about a thousand years of peace. In fact, they cannot even bring about a thousand-year world rule. Hitler tried it, and lasted twelve years. And now, particularly, many serious students of government and of world conditions—statesmen, scientists and others—are saying that mankind will not even be able to survive to the year 2000 C.E. They base their outlook, not on the Bible, but on the hard facts of today and upon the now irreversible trend of things that involve all of us. The Bible tells of these hard times that we are experiencing as a sign of the nearness of the end of this system.—2 Tim. 3:1-5.
We can well believe the Bible on the nearness of this system’s end. But we have no basis to believe the gloomy forecast of mankind’s destruction, or the often-mouthed, age-old claims that politicians make, of world peace through continued domination by governments of men. We have no basis upon which to believe these promises. But we do have basis to believe the Creator, and we should welcome his predictions. These are not forecasts of gloom for the human race, but, rather, of a thousand-year rule that will bring mankind to perfection. God tells us that he will make this earth a jewel of beauty and its people harmonious. Furthermore, he promises everlasting continuance of life on earth, with happiness.
THE BEST TIME OF OPPORTUNITY
If we believe God, this is indeed the best time yet in which to be living. For we, of all generations of people, have the opportunity to see the destruction of wickedness, the cleansing of the earth, and the survival into a righteous new order. Do you believe that God has this fine purpose toward the earth? If so, take immediate steps to assure his favor when his Messianic king executes judgment upon this decadent system of things.
If you are one who tends to be skeptical, why not at least consider carefully what God says and compare it with what men offer? Is there any other hope to compare with God’s promise? And is not what God promises in harmony with man’s natural inborn desires? Is it not even more logical than what men promise? Take advantage of today’s unparalleled opportunity to reason on what he says and to learn his purposes. Jehovah’s witnesses will delight in assisting you, in your home, free of charge. Or you can attend meetings at their Kingdom Halls to hear these things discussed there.
In an extended series of articles in succeeding issues, The Watchtower plans to discuss the thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ—what comes before the thousand years begins, signs of the Kingdom’s nearness, what it means to humankind, who will be its administrators in heaven and upon earth, its subjects, the resurrection of the dead and their judgment, and other features of the thousand-year Kingdom rule. Basis for these articles will be the Bible study book God’s Kingdom of a Thousand Years Has Approached, published by Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Brooklyn, New York (1973).
[Box on page 645]
When the Kingdom of the World Was Entrusted to Christ
Bible foretold God would give “the kingdom of the world” to Christ (Rev. 11:15)
When would this be? After seven symbolic “times” had passed (Dan. 4:10-17)
Immense tree representing kingdom power “cut down” when Jerusalem fell, 607 B.C.E. After “seven times” expired, “bands” would be removed; tree would grow
How long would the “seven times” prove to be? Far more than seven literal years
Each of the “times” must be 360 days (3 1⁄2 × 360 = 1,260)
Thus “seven times” (7 × 360) is 2,520 years
When did the seven symbolic “times” (2,520 years) begin?
In autumn of 607 B.C.E. when the territory of the typical kingdom of God in Judah was left desolate
When did the seven symbolic “times” end?
2,520 years brings us to autumn of 1914 C.E. (606 1⁄4 + 1913 3⁄4 = 2,520)
1914 C.E.—the marked year when “the kingdom of the world” was entrusted to Christ