Are We Living in the Last Days?
Beginning with this issue, The Watchtower is publishing an eight-part series about the last days
WHOSE life has not been touched by war? Who has not felt the aftermath of this century’s two world wars—the era of violence, insecurity and fear imposed upon all mankind? Who has escaped the resultant economic hardships, the increasing financial burdens to cover the cost of military campaigns or war preparedness? Whose life is not now endangered by the ever greater threat of nuclear war?
Whether fought in aggression or for defense, for just or unjust causes, war has been the bane of civilization. The cost in human lives alone has been staggering. As calculated by the Norwegian Academy of Sciences in 1969, the world has known only 292 years of peace since 3600 B.C.E., whereas 14,531 wars have been fought.
Our century, particularly since the first world war in 1914, has been called the “age of violence.” Concerning it, James Reston wrote in The New York Times of May 30, 1982: “This has been the bloodiest century in the history of the human race. It has suffered through 59 wars between nations with over 29 million combat dead, and 64 civil wars with almost six million casualties—not mentioning the tens of millions of civilians slaughtered on the side. This is the meaning of war.”
So alarming are the possible consequences of another world war that repeated references have been made by the world’s leaders and scientists to Armageddon. (Revelation 16:14, 16) They simply view it as a man-made holocaust, whereas the Bible associates Armageddon with “the war of the great day of God the Almighty.” It is his war to rid the earth of wickedness and establish a righteous New Order for peace-loving mankind.
This God-given hope of a righteous New Order has sustained men of faith from ancient times. (Hebrews, chapter 11) These have looked forward eagerly to the time when God would remember them and raise them to everlasting life. (Job 14:13, 14; Psalm 37:29) Those righteous ones trusted in God’s power to resurrect them to a cleansed globe where he will be “making wars to cease to the extremity of the earth.”—Psalm 46:9.
But they did not know when these things would take place. The time when God would take action was simply referred to as “the time of the end” or “the final part of the days.” (Daniel 11:40; Isaiah 2:2) It is no wonder, then, that Jesus’ disciples approached him privately to ask: “When will these things be, and what will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?”—Matthew 24:3.
The first thing Jesus mentioned that would be an indication of the approaching end was: “You are going to hear of wars and reports of wars.” (Matthew 24:6) Could the fact that we are living in “the bloodiest century in the history of the human race” be the fulfillment of this sign that Jesus gave? Are we truly living in the last days?