How We Know God’s Government Will Take Control Soon
WOULD you say that there is a real need for a righteous government, one that can solve the problems causing so much world distress? Do you think that this need will ever be satisfied?
We have every reason to believe that it will be satisfied. Why can we be so confident?
REASON FOR CONFIDENCE
It is because the great Creator of humankind also recognizes the need for a righteous government, and it is his declared purpose to establish one. But should it be surprising that He will do this? If you had the power to do so, would you not want to set up a government that would bring blessings to all? Of course you would! Should we not, then, expect our Creator to do as much?
Jesus Christ knew God’s purpose, and so, when on earth, he taught his followers to pray for God’s government. You, too, perhaps have prayed for this, saying to God: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” (Matt. 6:9, 10, Authorized Version) Do you realize how this Kingdom government will come?
This is explained to us in a Bible prophecy, which says: “The God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. . . . It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite.” (Dan. 2:44) Yes, God’s government will come with destructive force to wipe from the earth all present human governments. This will mean the end of this unrighteous world, thus making way for one world, one government—God’s Kingdom government.—2 Pet. 3:5-7; 1 John 2:17.
Do we have reason to believe that this will happen soon, within our lifetime? This brings up a vital prophecy given by Jesus Christ.
A VITAL PROPHECY
In the widely advertised Bible talk delivered thus far this year to audiences totaling over 1,700,000 people,a the statement is made: “The fulfillment of the prophecy that Jesus Christ gave concerning the ‘conclusion of the system of things’ shows that the smashing of the system is at hand!” That prophecy of Jesus is recorded in the Bible, principally in Matthew chapter 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21.
What did Jesus foretell there? Are these things really occurring in our day? It is vital that we know. Why so? Because Jesus said of the time when this prophecy would undergo fulfillment: “This generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.” (Matt. 24:34) So, if Jesus’ prophecy is now being fulfilled, it means that we are living in the “generation” that will see God’s government smash to pieces all present-day human governments and take control of earth’s affairs. Is there a way to be sure that this will happen soon?
THE SIGN JESUS GAVE
Jesus gave his prophecy in answer to a request for a sign by four of his apostles. These men evidently were wondering about what Jesus had said regarding the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple. (Matt. 23:37–24:2) So they asked: “Tell us, When will these things be, and what will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?”—Matt. 24:3.
Although the apostles wanted to know when Jerusalem and her temple were to be destroyed, their question probed deeper. And Jesus’ answer, too, took in more than the destruction of Jerusalem and her temple. For he gave them a sign that would signify more than the end of the Jewish system of things back there in the first century C.E. The sign Jesus gave would also mark his “presence” in Kingdom power and the nearness of the end of this entire system of things. One reason that we know this is that Jesus said: “When you see these things occurring, know that the kingdom of God is near.”—Luke 21:31.
Yes, this prophecy was provided so that people could know when God’s Kingdom government would take control. Let us turn to the Bible and examine it more closely.
MANY FEATURES OF “THE SIGN”
We note that Jesus did not single out just two or three things to serve as “the sign.” Rather, he mentioned many things that would be occurring during ‘his presence and the conclusion of the system of things.’ (Matt. 24:3) Consider, for example, some of the features of “the sign” that Jesus gave:
He said that there would be wars and reports of wars, and that nation would rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom. In the wake of this there would be pestilences and food shortages and earthquakes in many places. Further, he said that his followers would be hated by all nations, persecuted, and some would be killed. Lawlessness would increase, and the love of many would cool off. The good news of God’s kingdom would be preached earth wide. And during these happenings there would be “anguish of nations, not knowing the way out . . . while men become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth.”—Luke 21:7-28; Matt. 24:3-14.
As a climax, Jesus said: “Then there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.” (Matt. 24:21) A tribulation that devastating would be more destructive than even the flood in Noah’s day! In fact, Jesus compared it to that Flood, saying: “Just as the days of Noah were, so the presence of the Son of man will be. . . . they took no note until the flood came and swept them all away, so the presence of the Son of man will be.”—Matt. 24:37-39.
Well, what do you think? Have we seen in evidence today the various features of “the sign” Jesus gave? If so, a “great tribulation,” yes, a world destruction is at hand. Surely, then, it is vital that we be alert to world events, checking closely whether they are fulfilling “the sign.” What does the evidence show?
“NATION . . . AGAINST NATION”
Military analyst H. W. Baldwin, in the book World War I, points out: “World War I ushered in the century of Total War, of—in the first full sense of the term—global war. . . . Never had the slaughter been so comprehensive and indiscriminate.” (1962, pp. 1, 2) According to one study, World War I was reportedly seven times greater than all the 901 major wars of the previous 2,400 years.—Colliers, September 29, 1945.
But that war was just the beginning of what a modern history volume describes as the “Era of Violence.” Twenty-one years later, World War II proved greater in scope and destructiveness. “It has been estimated that civilian and military dead totaled 55 million.”—The World Book Encyclopedia (1973), Vol. 21, p. 410.
And wars have continued. Former U.S. President Richard Nixon said that since World War II one hundred or more wars have been fought. And during this time, more than 10 million persons have been killed by weapons of war, according to a New York Times editorial of January 27, 1975. In Indochina alone, the United States dropped 7,733,518 tons of bombs, more than three times the 2,075,244 tons dropped in World War II! And in 1973 the nations reportedly spent nearly $250,000,000,000 on armaments, about $60 for every man, woman and child on earth.
Would you not say that there have been in our day “wars and reports of wars” and ‘nation rising against nation,’ thus fulfilling this feature of “the sign”?
The worst food shortages in human history followed on the heels of World War I. (The Nation, June 7, 1919) But the shortages were even worse after World War II. Look magazine then reported: “A fourth of the world is starving today. . . . Famine over most of the world now is more terrible than most of us can imagine.”—June 11, 1946.
As the world population has skyrocketed, food shortages have increased even more. The New York Times of December 29, 1967, reported: “Every 8.6 seconds someone in an underdeveloped country dies as a result of illness caused by malnutrition. . . . 10,000 every day. Over 3,500,000 every year.”
Today an estimated half a billion people are hovering on the brink of starvation. Whole nations are staring hunger in the face; in fact, according to some scientists, mass starvation is inevitable. Surely “food shortages” are a feature of “the sign” that is being fulfilled in a frightening way!
Following World War I the Spanish influenza raged. The Saturday Evening Post of September 26, 1959, reported: “No recorded pestilence before or since has equaled the 1918-1919 death toll in total numbers. In those two years an estimated 21,000,000 died of influenza-pneumonia throughout the world, some 850,000 in the United States alone.”
Disease epidemics continue to rage. “We are in a new age of pandemics,” reports The New York Times Encyclopedic Almanac 1970, “since nearly half of the men of the Western countries (and an increasing proportion of the women) are dying of a single ailment . . . coronary catastrophe.” Even many young people are dropping dead from heart attacks; some 750,000 persons a year die from heart disease in the United States alone.
Cancer, too, is now epidemic, killing some 350,000 Americans annually. Venereal diseases also are raging. And when you consider how malaria, schistosomiasis and other diseases cut life short for millions, it becomes evident that this feature of “the sign” has also been undergoing fulfillment.
In 1920 a great earthquake killed 180,000 persons in China; one in Japan snuffed out 143,000 lives in 1923, and another one killed 60,000 in India in 1935. But in recent years earthquakes have increased in frequency.
Managua, Nicaragua, was devastated in 1972, and 12,000 died. A great quake that same year killed some 4,000 in Iran. In 1970, Peru shook so hard that 70,000 died in what is called “the worst natural disaster on record in the Western Hemisphere.” Less than two years before that, an Iranian quake killed up to 30,000 people. Well over 100,000 persons have died in “great earthquakes” just since 1968!—Luke 21:11.
Would you not say that this feature of “the sign” is also in course of fulfillment?
OTHER FEATURES BEING FULFILLED?
Jesus also foretold an ‘increase of lawlessness.’ Is this feature of “the sign” being fulfilled? The New York Times of June 6, 1968, said: “A plague of lawlessness and violence . . . is now sweeping the globe.” And it is getting worse. U.S. President Ford said recently that violence and crime “obsesses America day and night.” “White-collar” crime and sexual immorality, too, have become common almost everywhere.
And has not this tremendous ‘increase of lawlessness’ had the effect that Jesus also foretold, namely, a ‘cooling off of the love of the greater number’? (Matt. 24:12) Have you not noted a growing spirit of selfishness, with people being less concerned about others?
What has been the effect on people of these conditions—the terrifying wars and threats of nuclear wars, the food shortages, pestilences, lawlessness and selfishness? Has it not been “anguish of nations,” and people becoming “faint out of fear” because of the things they see coming? (Luke 21:25, 26) “The biggest single emotion which dominates our lives is fear,” wrote the late editor of U.S. News & World Report, David Lawrence.
In this worldwide climate of lawlessness and fear, Jesus’ followers have suffered much persecution, just as he also prophesied. Yet, despite this, these Christian witnesses have been active in 207 lands preaching the “good news of the kingdom,” thus fulfilling in a remarkable way another feature of Jesus’ prophecy.—Matt. 24:9, 14.
Really, does not an honest examination of “the sign” show that it is, in fact, being fulfilled in our day? Never before 1914 C.E. have these things that Jesus foretold been experienced by mankind in every part of the earth during one generation.
APPRECIATE THE SIGN’S SIGNIFICANCE
What does all of this mean then? Jesus explained with an illustration, saying: “Note the fig tree and all the other trees: When they are already in the bud, by observing it you know for yourselves that now the summer is near. In this way you also, when you see these things occurring, know that the kingdom of God is near.”—Luke 21:29-31.
Yes, the present fulfilling of “the sign” means that soon now God’s Kingdom government will bring an end to this unrighteous system of things, thus making way for the establishing of a righteous new order. (2 Pet. 3:7, 13) SOON means within this generation, for recall that Jesus said: “Truly I say to you, This generation will by no means pass away until all things occur.”—Luke 21:32.
So how should we be affected? We should be happy, and yet sober and watchful, even as Jesus admonished: “As these things start to occur, raise yourselves erect and lift your heads up, because your deliverance is getting near. 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 21:28, 36.
a This talk has also been reprinted in this magazine on pages 611 to 623.