After These “Last Days” God’s Messianic Kingdom!
1. (a) The expression “the last days” calls for what regarding those days? (b) Did the “last days” of the Jewish system have an end?
DAYS that are called “the last days” should have an end. In the case of the Jews and their rebuilt temple at Jerusalem, those days ended in the year 70 C.E. Otherwise, why should they be called “the last days”? But historically they had an end (télos). When speaking of those final days of the Jewish system of things, 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. In fact, unless those days were cut short, no flesh would be saved; but on account of the chosen ones those days will be cut short.”—Matt. 24:21, 22; Mark 13:19, 20.
2. (a) Who were the “chosen ones” on account of whom the “great tribulation” upon Jerusalem was shortened? (b) What view of the fulfillment makes Jesus’ prophetic words extravagant?
2 Reportedly, there were 97,000 Jews inside Jerusalem that survived the siege and desolation of their holy city and its temple built by King Herod. However, these were not the “chosen ones” on whose account that “great tribulation” was shortened. Rather, these were the Christians, who, after the lifting of the first siege in 66 C.E., promptly obeyed Jesus’ advice as given in Matthew 24:16-20 and fled from the doomed city to outside the province of Judea. All of that back there was bad enough. But if Jesus’ words about it in Matthew 24:21, 22 and Mark 13:19, 20 are restricted to just the end (télos) of Jerusalem in 70 C.E., then his language regarding this becomes extravagant. It certainly was not the greatest tribulation ever to occur in all recorded human history.
3. Jesus’ words of description take on their proper proportions only when we view the destruction of ancient Jerusalem from what standpoint?
3 Jesus’ words of comparison take on their correct proportions only when we view Jerusalem’s destruction as being typical or as a foregleam of a still future unparalleled “great tribulation,” the destruction of Christendom, which claims to have going on to a thousand million members. Her destruction starts off that of the whole world empire of false religion. Shortly following this will come the destruction of all worldly elements that have divorced themselves from that Babylonish world empire of false religion, but not in favor of God’s Messianic kingdom. The number of human lives wiped out during that “great tribulation” will vastly outnumber all those destroyed in the deluge of Noah’s day, that is, in the years of 2370-2369 B.C.E.
4. (a) The “wars and reports of wars” of which Jesus prophesied were those due to occur during what period of time? (b) Their being called “a beginning of pangs of distress” indicates what?
4 In Jesus’ prophecy of Matthew 24:4-22, the “wars and reports of wars” of which he spoke were limited to a particular time period. In the case of the Jewish system of things, about which his disciples first asked, this was the period of the “last days” from 29 to 70 C.E. This period was indeed marked by “wars and reports of wars,” together with famines, pestilences and earthquakes. Without doubt the Jews felt some effects of those calamitous things. But Jesus said that such things were to be only “a beginning of pangs of distress.” (Matt. 24:8) They would not be the final death pangs.
5. (a) Did those distressing things back there lead up to the “presence” of Christ and the “conclusion of the system of things”? (b) Also, was the Kingdom preaching done to the extent predicted or not, and why?
5 Those disastrous things led up to the end (télos) of the Jewish system of things in Palestine. But, as we can see today, they did not prove to be “the sign of [Christ’s] presence and of the conclusion of the system of things,” things that were included in the disciples’ set of questions. (Matt. 24:3; Mark 13:4) Also, during the “last days” of the Jewish system, the preaching of “this good news of the kingdom . . . in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations” was necessarily on a limited scale, because of the fewness of the Kingdom preachers, and this preaching was done under persecution. (Matt. 24:9-14) But, of course, the whole world was an open field for them, because the Kingdom preaching was not to be limited to just the circumcised Jews. After Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, his disciples came under his command to go and “make disciples of people of all the nations.” (Matt. 28:19, 20) So the Kingdom preaching on a global scale had to be then yet future, after 70 C.E.
6. (a) What things were foretold to occur after the tribulation upon the Jews back there? (b) Why did the “chosen ones” not join “all the tribes of the earth” in their mourning?
6 Referring to the “great tribulation” upon Jerusalem in 70 C.E., Jesus went on to speak of things due to come “immediately after the tribulation of those days.” (Matt. 24:29) There was to be the appearing of “the sign of the Son of man”; also, a mourning, not on the part of just the scattered 12 tribes of natural Jews, but on the part of “all the tribes of the earth.” Also, there was to be a gathering of all “his chosen ones together” to a completion. These “chosen ones” would not join “all the tribes of the earth” in mourning over impending world calamity. They would rejoice, rather than mourn, over the “sign of the Son of man” appearing in heaven. (Matt. 24:30, 31) They would rejoice that they had the evidence that they were in the “last days” of the old world system. Since that mournful year of 1914 C.E., the year of mankind’s first world war, we have that evidence in overwhelming measure.
7. After the “last days” of the global system of things end, what is to be expected, according to the Lord’s Prayer?
7 The “last days” of anything have to be followed by something else. What will follow the “last days” of this global system of things? Regardless of what worldly forecasters envision to be earth’s state after an expected third world war, Jehovah’s Witnesses foresee God’s Messianic kingdom, the one that Jesus taught his disciples to pray for in the Lord’s Prayer.—Matt. 6:9, 10.
8. Why do Christians still pray the Lord’s Prayer in spite of what Paul wrote in about 60-61 C.E. at Colossians 1:13?
8 We still pray that prayer regardless of what the apostle Paul wrote in Colossians 1:13, about 60-61 C.E. Away back there he wrote: “He [the heavenly Father] delivered us from the authority of the darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of his love.” This refers to a spiritual kingdom into which the Colossian Christians, while still in the flesh here on earth, in a religiously bedarkened city in Asia Minor, had been transferred. Undeniably, that spiritual estate of theirs on earth under the rule of Satan the Devil was not the fulfillment of the Lord’s Prayer: “Father, let your name be sanctified. Let your kingdom come.” (Luke 11:2; Matt. 6:9, 10) For that prayer to be answered fully, there had to be an enthronement of the Son of God’s love with more than a spiritual kingdom in operation over his earthly disciples.
THE MESSIANIC KING AND HIS SHEEPLIKE SUBJECTS
9, 10. (a) In his illustration of the sheep and the goats, Jesus was referring to kingship for him to what extent? (b) After what accomplishment by Jesus would that separating work occur, and what would that accomplishment imply or mean?
9 In his prophecy concerning “the conclusion of the system of things,” Jesus referred to his kingship in a full sense. According to the apostle Matthew’s account, Jesus closed his prophecy by giving the illustration of the symbolic sheep and goats. At Matthew 25:31, 32 he opened up the illustration by saying: “When the Son of man arrives in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit down on his glorious throne. And all the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people [not nations] one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” This takes place after Satan the Devil and his demons are ousted from their heavenly location and privileges down to our earth’s vicinity by the enthroned King Jesus Christ. All of this is as prophetically pictured in Revelation 12:5-9. As to what that accomplishment means, we read:
10 “And I [John] heard a loud voice in heaven say: ‘Now have come to pass the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ, because the accuser of our brothers has been hurled down, who accuses them day and night before our God! And they conquered him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their witnessing, and they did not love their souls even in the face of death. On this account be glad, you heavens and you who reside in them! Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.’”—Rev. 12:10-12.
11. (a) According to events, when did the “four horsemen of the Apocalypse” begin riding? (b) Our period of wars since 1914 corresponds with what limited period foretold in Jesus’ prophecy on the “last days”?
11 What informed person can deny that such extraordinary “woe for the earth and for the sea” has marked our 20th century since 1914, the year in which, according to all evidences, the so-called “four horsemen of the Apocalypse” began their ride? (See Revelation 6:1-8.) That must be an unmistakable “sign” that in 1914 the “last days” of this world system of things began and that we have entered the “conclusion of the system of things.” Certainly, also, since the ouster of Satan the Devil and his demons from heaven, it has been the “last days” for them before they are hurled into the abyss before the 1,000-year reign of the Messiah Jesus. (Rev. 20:1-3, 7) Plainly, World War I of 1914 and World War II of 1939 and the scores of wars that have followed since 1945 throughout the earth are a modern parallel of the “wars and reports of wars” (along with famines, pestilences and earthquakes) that Jesus said would make the years of 29 to 70 C.E. the “last days” of the Jewish system of things that revolved around Jerusalem and its rebuilt temple.
12. If, in 70 C.E., Jerusalem fell short of undergoing what Jesus foretold in Matthew 24:21, 22, what about that to which the global system of things of today is heading?
12 The agonizing distress that befell Jerusalem in 70 C.E. fell short of being what Jesus described in his prophecy of Matthew 24:21, 22. But today the antitypical Jerusalem (Christendom), yes, the whole world empire of false religion, yes, the entire global system of things, is headed for the “great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.” Not strange, then, that we see undergoing fulfillment the prophecy that the apostle Paul made about 65 C.E. and set down in 2 Timothy 3:1: “You [Timothy] may be quite sure that in the last days there are going to be some difficult times.”—The Jerusalem Bible.
FINAL WORLDWIDE PROCLAMATION!
13. In agreement with Revelation 12:11, what other feature of Jesus’ prophecy was to make the “conclusion of the system of things” outstanding?
13 According to Revelation 12:11, after Satan the Devil was ousted from heaven, the Christians whom he accused “conquered him . . . because of the word of their witnessing.” The fulfillment of this has been another feature that Jesus said would make “the conclusion of the system of things” outstanding. What feature? “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end [télos] will come. (Matt. 24:14) This precedes the end of the “last days.”
14. How has this Kingdom witness surpassed that during the “last days” of the Jewish system of things?
14 Such a witness, given by Jehovah’s Witnesses since the end of World War I on November 11, 1918, has enormously surpassed the international witness given during the “last days” of the Jewish system of things in 29 to 70 C.E. Back there the witness was given in Asia, Europe and Africa. Today it has been given not only on those continents but also in the Americas, in Australia and on the islands of the Pacific Ocean, yes, globally.
15. To belittle this achievement, what may scoffers say about the missionaries of Christendom during the past centuries?
15 Scoffers at this may minimize this achievement and emphasize that the missionaries of Christendom during the centuries past got to all those places before ever the Christian witnesses of Jehovah came along. True! But the Kingdom witnessing of Jehovah’s Witnesses since 1914 has been something far different from what Christendom’s missionaries have published both before and since 1914.
16, 17. (a) In what way was the Kingdom witness given since the end of World War I in 1918 different from what Christendom’s missionaries have preached? (b) In proof of this, what did the Watch Tower magazine say in its issue of July 1, 1920?
16 “Different”—how so? In that it has not been a witness concerning the kingdom mentioned in Colossians 1:13, “the kingdom of the Son of [God’s] love,” into which the 144,000 “sealed” spiritual Israelites have been transferred already. (Rev. 7:1-8) What Jehovah’s Witnesses have preached world wide since 1918 is something unique, something that has distinguished these as being the “last days” of the political, social, judicial, militarized system of things. It has been a worldwide witness concerning a royal government now set up in the heavens, empowered to oust the Devil and his demons from the location of its throne. (Rev. 12:5-9) Less than two years after World War I ended, in its issue of July 1, 1920, The Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence published the leading article entitled “Gospel of the Kingdom” and quoting Matthew 24:14, and, under the subheading “Work for All,” it went on to say:
17 “The gospel means good news. The good news here is concerning the end of the old order of things and the establishment of Messiah’s kingdom. It means the dark night of sin and sorrow is passing away. It means that Satan’s empire is falling, never to rise again.”—Pages 199, 200.
18. (a) According to Jesus’ prophecy, “the end will come” after what? (b) As regards Joel 2:28, 29, our “last days” run parallel with what previous days?
18 When the preaching of this good news of the Messianic kingdom as having been established in the heavens in 1914 has been done to the extent that God wills, “then the end [télos] will come.” (Matt. 24:14) So this final Kingdom preaching world wide comes inside the “last days” of this system of things. These are therefore the proper days for the final fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel 2:28, 29 to take place, just as there was an initial fulfillment of the prophecy in the days of the apostle Peter and his fellow apostles, as he himself explained on Pentecost of 33 C.E. So our “last days” are a modern parallel of their “last days.”
19. To make the comparison of periods of “last days” complete in all features, what occurrence during the “last days” in which the apostles lived must also have a modern parallel?
19 However, to make the parallel complete regarding all features, has there likewise been a pouring out of the holy spirit of anointing upon “every sort of flesh” in our “last days”? (Acts 2:16-19) We have no hesitancy in saying that there has been a marked fulfillment of Joel 2:28, 29 since the world-shaking year of 1914. During World War I the foes of the Messianic kingdom, the clergy of Christendom in particular, succeeded in having the Kingdom preaching by Jehovah’s anointed servants either prohibited or seriously crippled. This was like during the 51 days from Jesus’ death on Nisan 14 up to the morning of Pentecost on Sivan 6, 33 C.E. On the 50th day from Jesus’ resurrection his few disciples, gathered at Jerusalem, received power from on high when the spirit of anointing arrived upon them and they became his public witnesses.
20. After prominent servants in the Watch Tower Society were freed from imprisonment in 1919, what occurred that corresponds with what was set out in Revelation 11:7-13?
20 Likewise, after officers of the Watch Tower Society and their fellow prisoners were released from imprisonment in the federal penitentiary in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A., in March of the postwar year of 1919, holy spirit became mightily operative upon the remnant of Jehovah’s dedicated, baptized servants on earth. Under its driving force they addressed themselves to the work laid out for them in Matthew 24:14, the giving of the final witness to God’s established kingdom till the “end.” This corresponds with what was pictorially set forth in Revelation 11:7-13.
21. (a) On Pentecost of 33 C.E., what took place with thousands of Jewish celebrators at Jerusalem? (b) Correspondingly from 1919 onward general conventions were marked by what notable feature?
21 Back in 33 C.E., about 3,000 Jewish celebrators of the festival of Pentecost got baptized at Jerusalem “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the holy spirit” and with the assurance of having holy spirit poured out upon them. Later the number of receivers of the holy spirit of anointing rose to about 5,000. (Acts 2:37-41; 4:4; Matt. 28:19, 20) In our own modern “last days” and less than six months after members of the Watch Tower Society’s headquarters’ staff were released from imprisonment in Atlanta, Georgia, a general convention was held at Cedar Point, Ohio, U.S.A., on September 1-8, 1919, and at this convention more than 200 were baptized in Lake Erie in the hope of being baptized into the spiritual body of Christ. At the second Cedar Point convention three years later 361 were baptized as prospective members of Christ’s spiritual body and with the heavenly hope. At the Columbus (Ohio) convention in 1924 there were 485 baptized.
22. At the Indianapolis convention of 1925, what application was made of Joel 2:28, 29, and what has proved God to be an accurate Time-Keeper and Prophet respecting that prophecy?
22 In the year 1925, at the convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, not only were many baptized, but also a very vital talk was given. It was entitled “The Holy Spirit Poured Out,” and it made a present-day application of Joel 2:28, 29. Thousands more than ever before were reported as partaking of the bread and the wine at the annual celebration of the Lord’s Supper. (Pages 339-344 of Watch Tower, November 15, 1925) So, during these “last days” since the war-torn year of 1914 holy spirit has been poured out in a specially marked manner to prove that Jehovah is a faithful Time-Keeper and an infallible Prophet. Shortly now these “last days” will come to their “end” (télos) in earth’s greatest “tribulation.”
23. After the foregoing things, what government will there be, with what benefit for the “tribulation” survivors and for all the ransomed dead?
23 Finally, after all of this, what? Revelation 19:11 through 20:6 answers: Jehovah God’s Messianic kingdom of a thousand years, ushering “upon earth peace among men of goodwill,” first among the earthly survivors of “the great tribulation,” namely, a remnant of those upon whom the holy spirit was poured out during the “last days” and also the “great crowd” of their sheeplike companions who stuck with them to the “end” (télos). (Luke 2:14; Matt. 24:21; Rev. 7:9, 14, 15) Then, in due time, as those thousand years move on grandly to their successful end there will come the resurrection of all the human dead who will respond to the voice of the Lamb of God, the Messianic King Jesus, who gave his perfect human life as a ransom for them all.—Rev. 20:11–21:4; John 5:28, 29.
[Blurb on page 26]
Bad as it was, Jerusalem’s destruction in 70 C.E. was not the greatest “tribulation” of history.—Matt. 24:21
[Box on page 29]
The Kingdom preaching of Jehovah’s Witnesses since 1914 is far different from that of Christendom’s missionaries, for:
It comes within the “Last Days” of this corrupt system of things
It points to the establishment of God’s kingdom as a reality in 1914
It is marked by a notable outpouring of God’s spirit since 1919, with complete fulfillment of Joel 2:28, 29
It is climaxed by the “end,” télos, of the “Last Days,” in earth’s greatest tribulation
It holds forth the grand hope of survival by the anointed remnant and the “great crowd” into the realm of Messiah’s millennial kingdom
It points to the approaching fulfillment of God’s promise of the resurrection of the human dead into a paradise earth