“Lift Your Heads Up”
NO PREVIOUS generation in human history has witnessed the distressing events that our generation has. Why, then, when speaking of this very time, would Jesus say: “As these things start to occur, raise yourselves erect and lift your heads up, because your deliverance is getting near”?—Luke 21:28.
Clearly, Jesus was saying that there was a lasting and satisfying solution to all these disturbing problems. And what is it? For instance, do prophecies such as those Jesus gave, and many others in the Bible, indicate that this deliverance will come by human efforts? No, not at all.
The harsh lesson of history is that men and nations, however sincere, are simply unable to bring true peace, security and lasting happiness to mankind. Their best efforts have ended in failure, sooner or later. Thus, nowhere are we told in Bible prophecy that humans would gradually perfect society through their own efforts.
Instead, Jesus foresaw that world conditions would get worse and worse until the entire system of things was caught up in what he called a “great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.” (Matt. 24:21) Right now, events throughout the world are building up to that situation.
Since that is so, why could Jesus be so optimistic? Because he knew that the coming unprecedented convulsion in human affairs would be the final one. It would pave the way for a new system of things, one that the Bible prophetically calls “new heavens and a new earth” in which “righteousness is to dwell.”—2 Pet. 3:13.
WHY SO LONG?
However, if it is God’s purpose to establish a righteous new order here on earth, why has he allowed so many thousands of years of misery and trouble? One important reason concerns an issue that was raised when the first man and woman decided to rebel against God’s rule.
Our first parents faced the proposition that by being independent from God they could “be like God, knowing good and bad.” (Gen. 3:5) Since they already had God’s law as to what was good or bad, this statement in Genesis 3:5 likely indicates that what humans wanted was to determine for themselves what would be good or bad. What our first forefathers chose to say, in effect, was that they did not need God to direct their lives, that they could successfully run their own affairs.—Deut. 32:4, 5.
Why would God permit this? Because God created humans as free moral agents, not robots. So he would allow their departure from his laws to demonstrate, once and for all time, whether humans could successfully govern their own affairs independently of God.
God has been very patient and long-suffering. He has given human rulers, and the people, every opportunity to prove their inability to rule. In the past millenniums of time every conceivable form of human rule and social system has been tried. But history, especially the history of our generation, testifies to the fact that not one of these has brought lasting blessings to all mankind. The failure of the nations to provide true peace or lasting security even in local regions of this earth plainly shows that humans are not capable of governing themselves successfully, independent of their Creator.
Why not? Because humans were not created with that ability or capacity. Instead, God created them to be dependent upon him and his laws. (Gen. 2:16, 17) He created them with a real need for his direction. Departing from his arrangements could only result in harm, as has been shown throughout the centuries. It is like someone’s ignoring the rules for mental health and expecting to be mentally sound, or ignoring the need for nutritious food and expecting good health, or ignoring the law of gravity by jumping off a high building and not expecting to get hurt, or constantly ignoring traffic laws and expecting never to be penalized.
Thus, it has been proved clearly that what God’s Word says is the truth: “To earthling man his way does not belong. It does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step. Correct me, O Jehovah.” (Jer. 10:23, 24) The result of mankind’s ignoring God and his ways is as the Bible says: “What you think is the right road may lead to death.”—Prov. 14:12, Today’s English Version.
The record that men and nations have made throughout the centuries plainly shows that they do not deserve to govern this beautiful earth. As a chief justice of the California Supreme Court said: “If we were here on a month-to-month basis, we would have been evicted long ago.”
While not on a “month-to-month” basis, mankind’s rule of this earth independent of God is by no means permanent. It is only temporary, for a limited period of time. And Bible prophecy shows that this time limit is nearing its end. Now that the various issues related to human rule have been amply demonstrated, God’s time is at hand to destroy this unsatisfactory system. After clearing it out of the way, he will usher in a new order of his making, one that will bring true and permanent peace, with real security and genuine happiness to this earth.
DESTROYING THIS SYSTEM
The destruction of this system is described in the book of Revelation (the Apocalypse) in this symbolic language: “I saw also an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice and said to all the birds that fly in midheaven: ‘Come here, be gathered together to the great evening meal of God, that you may eat the fleshy parts of kings and the fleshy parts of military commanders and the fleshy parts of strong men and the fleshy parts of horses and of those seated upon them, and the fleshy parts of all, of freemen as well as of slaves and of small ones and great.’”—Rev. 19:17, 18.
That will be the culmination of what Jesus called the “great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.” (Matt. 24:21) So God’s heavenly rule by Jesus Christ “will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms [now existing]” and provide a government over all the earth “that will never be brought to ruin.”—Dan. 2:44.
There will be survivors of the coming world catastrophe, just as there were when the global flood of Noah’s day destroyed the corrupt world of that time. (2 Pet. 2:5) God’s Word says: “Turn to the LORD, all you humble people of the land, who obey his commands. Do what is right, and humble yourselves before the LORD. Perhaps you will escape punishment on the day when the LORD shows his anger.” “It must occur that everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will get away safe.”—Zeph. 2:3, TEV; Joel 2:32.
The final book of the Bible, too, assures us that there will be survivors. They are spoken of as being “a great crowd” who “come out of the great tribulation.” Why are they spared? Because, as the prophecy says, they are “rendering him [God] sacred service day and night.”—Rev. 7:9, 14, 15.
The gathering of these prospective survivors from all nations is proceeding right now. All over the world those who want to learn about God’s purposes and who want to do his will are being brought together into one international society of people, which will be the foundation of God’s incoming “new earth.” (2 Pet. 3:13) Unlike the nations of this world, they have already learned to “beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears.” By so doing, they even now have fulfilled the prophecy: “Nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war anymore.”—Isa. 2:2-4.
So while the nations independent of God plunge into ever greater distress, God’s purpose to gather a people to inherit the earthly realm under God’s kingdom goes on majestically. (Matt. 25:34) Because of what these are now learning regarding this wicked system’s near end, and the righteous new system just ahead, they no longer view the future with hopelessness. Instead, they ‘lift their heads up, since their deliverance is drawing near.’ (Luke 21:28) They have great confidence in the future because they know for a certainty that, as the Bible says, “People may plan all kinds of things, but the LORD’S will is going to be done.”—Prov. 19:21, TEV.
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“I saw also an angel standing in the sun, and he cried out with a loud voice and said to all the birds that fly in midheaven: ‘Come here, be gathered together to the great evening meal of God.’”—Rev. 19:17.