Sounding the Divine Warning
“For 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.
1, 2. (a) How has the world become one big neighborhood? (b) What are the dangerous consequences of all peoples being close neighbors?
Today all the world is one big neighborhood. By our speediest means of travel we could fly around the globe at its equator or over both the north and the south poles in less than one day. By international telephone lines or by radiophone we could, in a matter of minutes, be speaking with a neighbor in almost any other part of the earth. We can eat so many foreign kinds of foods, and for these we depend upon so many people in distant parts of the earth.
2 Because of being so closely knit together, all humanity shares common dangers. Just 66 years ago, that is to say, within this one century, people in all quarters of the earth woke up to the reality of such a catastrophic thing as a world war. Twenty-one years after the worst global conflict ended the world entered into a wartime nightmare far worse. And now, 36 years after coming through that world upheaval, we are menaced with something even far more horrendous. No one can, for a fact, say: ‘Oh, what happens over there, so far away, cannot affect me here!’ To reason and speak in that way is a self-deception. We are now all close neighbors, but our acting so unneighborly is what creates a problem, yes, world danger. Voices are being raised in solemn warning.
3. (a) Why do observant persons believe the world to be in moral danger? (b) What is the attitude of worldly-wise persons about God?
3 Because of the bigness of it all, some doubters may ask, Is the whole world really in mortal danger? To this question observant persons who are by no means calamity howlers answer Yes! Their gloomy answer is based not just on what mankind of itself can do to itself. There is something vastly more serious than that for us to take into account. Is that really possible? Yes. How so? It is because of the Person to whom this earth and all animal and human life upon it belong. True, very few today care to take him into consideration. Worldly-wise persons of this scientifically advanced century think themselves to be too independent in thought as to believe in a Creator or to ask themselves, What does he have in mind? But the Creator is not so hardhearted as not to care about man’s plight. However, they brush him aside as if he did not exist or as being so far away as not to be involved or even interested.
4. (a) As earth’s owner, what concern does Jehovah have for his property? (b) What needs to be done to make the earth a pleasant place in which to live?
4 But should not a property owner be concerned about what belongs to him? He should want to keep it in the best state of repair. Especially so if his property is really valuable. That is the way our Creator feels about it. As to a state of repair, there is no denying the fact that the earth is being ruined today and is in danger of being ruined to a horrifying extent. It seems as if the time is already overdue for him to get rid of all those responsible for ruining his originally perfect property. By now the time when he should do this cleansing work ought to be near. He has had a book written about this. According to it, what does he purpose to do?
AN EARLIER SITUATION LIKE TODAY’S
5. When in the past were humans in a situation like that existing today?
5 It may surprise many to know that once before all mankind then living was in a like situation as all earth’s population finds itself today. At that time something occurred on a global scale. This was in the days of a man from whom all of us living today trace our descent. This common ancestor of ours was the man named Noah, the son of Lamech. Regarding Noah’s days the Creator’s inspired Book says: “In time Noah became father to three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth. And the earth came to be ruined in the sight of the true God and the earth became filled with violence. So God saw the earth and, look! it was ruined, because all flesh had ruined its way on the earth.”—Gen. 6:10-12.
6, 7. (a) In Noah’s day, what warning was sounded to the world? (b) How was it that the earth again became a peaceful place in which to live?
6 What occurred then to make this earth a peaceful, safe location in which to live? Did those violent ruiners of the earth engage in a global war and thus blot one another out? Was the warning that Noah was then commanded to give a warning about a man-made calamity that would be impossible for humanity to outlive? No! Instead, he sounded to mankind a divine warning, one that God had instructed him to give. It put all men on notice as to what God the Creator was about to do for the sake of a calm, safe earth on which decent people could enjoy living. God indicated to Noah that the people were not going to listen to him, and so Noah should build an ark, or floating chest, for himself and his family, eight human souls. On the foretold day of the year 2370 B.C.E., the global flood began. It was an “act of God.” Drowned mankind paid the penalty.
7 That ancient “act of God” worked good for all mankind. It gave the human race a fresh start from a righteous, God-fearing family, and this in an earth peaceful and safe for the time being.
A SIMILAR GLOBAL DESTRUCTION NEAR
8. (a) How did Jesus Christ draw a comparison between the days of Noah and today? (b) What event is close at hand, and so what needs to be done about it?
8 That was the only occasion previous to our time when all humanity was in danger of extinction. It prefigured our day when a world of billions of people is threatened. That is not our pessimistic human reasoning on matters, an extremist idea. It is no more overdrawn than that of a world-famous figure, a prophet greater than Noah. This was Jesus Christ. Pointing forward to our day, he said: “For just as the days of Noah were, so the presence of the Son of man will be. For as they were in those days before the flood, eating and drinking, men marrying and women being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark; and 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) According to Christ’s own prophecy about world conditions during the time of his unseen presence at the earth, our world situation since the year 1914 is like that of Noah’s day. Correspondingly, a similar “act of God” must be at hand. It is the time for the God-given warning to be sounded out to all imperiled mankind. The personal question is, Who will be like those who entered into the ark with Noah?
9. (a) Why do we have reason to believe that the foretold “great tribulation” is near? (b) Although “great tribulation” came upon Jerusalem in 70 C.E., why must the major fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy about “great tribulation” yet be future?
9 Even aside from what the Creator’s inspired Book, the Bible, has to say, we have reason to believe that this system of things is in its “time of the end.” Its last days have about run out. Its full end can be expected to arrive with a time of trouble, a “great tribulation,” surpassing the flood of Noah’s day in its spectacularness and destructiveness. That reference of Jesus to Noah’s day was part of his final prophecy given in the year 33 C.E. It extended his predictions beyond the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in the year 70 C.E., yes, all the way down into our day. The destruction of that holy city was the climax of a “great tribulation” for the Jews in the Roman province of Judea in the Middle East. Evidently, though, Jesus must have had more in mind than Jerusalem’s destruction back there, when he said: “For then there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now [the year 33 C.E.], 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.
10, 11. (a) How did the apostle Peter describe a coming global destruction? (b) What is the general attitude nowadays regarding such a global destruction by God?
10 Jesus’ disciple, the apostle Peter, prophetically coupled the end of the world in Noah’s day with the end of today’s system of things at the climax of this “time of the end.” (Dan. 12:4) In contrast with the downpour of waters in Noah’s day, Peter foretold a “fire” that would envelop not only the symbolic earth but also the symbolic heavens. (2 Pet. 3:5-12) In his comparison Peter did not bring into the picture the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, which occurred shortly after his death as a martyr.
11 Back in Peter’s day the Christians believed in what is generally spoken of as “the end of the world.” (Matt. 24:3, Authorized Version) But how about today, 19 centuries later, particularly so among those who claim to be Christians or who are members of the churches of Christendom? Do they believe in such a thing? Hardly so! We have only to look at the way they act in chasing after the material things of this doomed world.
12. (a) What world catastrophe do responsible persons today now fear? (b) How do men propose to prevent a world holocaust?
12 Yet, there are responsible persons today who do not base their predictions on the Bible at all but who are foretelling what amounts to the “end of the world.” They are warning us of its likelihood. This has been the case since the explosion of two atomic bombs at the close of World War II in 1945. Today there are nuclear bombs in the hands of nations called “the nuclear powers,” and these in such quantity that there could be an overkill of all creature life on earth a number of times, if that were possible for them. Even radiological bombs are mentioned in subdued voice. These would kill off all humans but would leave their lifeless material properties standing. But what purpose do still-standing buildings serve if there are no living people to occupy them? They would make up merely a “ghost city” or a “ghost world.” And who relishes the thought of such a thing? The danger is very real. The United Nations, now having 153 members, is looked to for preventing such a holocaust. But the United Nations, which includes all the Nuclear Powers, is a vain hope for staving off the human race’s annihilation by its own means.
13. (a) What life-and-death question needs to be answered? (b) Why do nonreligious persons have no satisfying answer, and is there one?
13 Who really can save mankind from self-destruction, suicide? Men who are by no means religious are now obliged to give serious consideration to that question. Because of disbelief in the Bible they can come up with no satisfying answer. They cannot point us to any savior. Does this mean that there is none? Happily, No!
ONLY SOURCE OF TRUE HOPE
14. Why is it reasonable to believe that the Creator has a purpose for the earth?
14 Scientists cannot prove that our earth and mankind upon it made themselves. There had to be a Creator. So how about him? As early as the 16th century before our Common Era he inspired the man of integrity named Job to state the scientific truth that He has hung our earth upon nothing in space, and so did He hang it there for nothing? (Job 26:7) Is it accidental that we find ourselves by the billions upon it? Was this a mistake or without purpose on his part? By now he has let this earth fairly brim with living creatures. Did he have in mind that all of today’s billions of human creatures should kill themselves off and leave our earth floating around in space like a dead planet? We cannot assign such foolishness to him in view of what he tells us.
15. (a) What is God’s purpose regarding the earth? (b) So what can we be confident that God will do soon?
15 He inspired the wise man Solomon, the son of King David, to write down in the Bible: “A generation [of mankind] is going, and a generation is coming; but the earth is standing even to time indefinite.” (Eccl. 1:4) He also inspired Isaiah to write: “This is what Jehovah has said, . . . the Former of the earth and the Maker of it, . . . who did not create it simply for nothing, who formed it even to be inhabited: ‘I am Jehovah, and there is no one else.’” (Isa. 45:18) Hence, he promises never to leave the earth uninhabited by man. So the thing that he will completely erase from the earth’s surface is this system of things that violent men have set up on God’s property. For this we can take up the words of thanksgiving written down in the last book of the Bible: “We thank you, Jehovah God, the Almighty, . . . because you have taken your great power and begun ruling as king. But the nations became wrathful, and your own wrath came, and the appointed time . . . to bring to ruin those ruining the earth.”—Rev. 11:17, 18.
16. (a) What highly developed plans do the nations now have, and, in this regard, what warnings are being sounded? (b) To what warning, however, will we all wisely take heed?
16 For the sake of military advantage the nations have plans already highly developed for “ruining the earth” to the greatest extent and in the worst way imaginable. Germs, chemicals, as well as terrifying explosives are being held in readiness for instant use in the most strategic way against any enemy. No secret is being made of this. Here and there weak warnings are being sounded about the threat to human existence. Timely and justified though such warnings are, they do not have the backing of earth’s Creator, Jehovah God. His warning written down in the Bible is about his own action to “bring to ruin those ruining the earth,” his own creation. His action will be controlled. It will leave approved survivors. Lovers of life, especially eternal life in Paradise, want to be such.