What 1914 Could Mean to You
THE first world war was by far the widest and most destructive human conflict up to that time. The second world war—really just a continuation of the first—was far worse. In these two wars, more than 25 million military men, besides civilians, were slaughtered.
A third world war using the nuclear arsenals of the superpowers, if it should ever happen, could be international suicide. Authorities assure us that it would mean at least the end of civilization as we know it and possibly the destruction of the human race. Some of the generation that witnessed the death of the heir to the throne of Austria in 1914 have lived long enough to witness this potential climax in human warfare.
However, our times are important for other than political reasons. Bible prophecy tells us of things that have been happening during the past 70 years that were invisible to human eyes. They were events that place a great opportunity before YOU. Let us consider the most important of them.
Jesus and 1914
Once when Jesus was alone with four of his followers, they asked him: “What will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?” Jesus did not give them a date. Rather, he described a series of world events and trends that would enable his followers to know that his spiritual “presence” had begun. His prophecy says: “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be food shortages and earthquakes in one place after another.” He then added: “All these things are a beginning of pangs of distress.”—Matthew 24:3, 7, 8.
Can you see now the real reason why the great wars of this century are so important? They fulfill Jesus’ prophecy. No other wars of history measure up to the two world wars. Only a suicidal third world war could be greater, but Jesus was not prophesying that, since the wars he spoke about were part of “a beginning of pangs of distress.” Troubles were to continue and even intensify after their outbreak. Without a doubt, his prophecy has had fulfillment in the world wars that began in 1914.
This conclusion is confirmed when we consider all the other features of the ‘sign of his presence’ that Jesus gave in Matthew 24 and other parts of the Bible. Read them for yourself. Other issues of the Watchtower magazine have fully discussed them, and the fulfillment of all these features taken together undeniably proves that our century has indeed been experiencing the “presence” of Jesus. What does that mean in practical terms?
Jesus’ “presence” means nothing less than the beginning of his rule as King of God’s Kingdom. It is not something we can see with our literal eyes because God’s Kingdom is heavenly, not earthly. (John 18:36) Hence the need for a “sign” so that we would know it had happened. Nevertheless, it is a vitally important truth that in the early days of this century, when world empires were crumbling and new powers were taking shape, the greatest world power of all—God’s Kingdom—was born.
Satan and 1914
If, though, the “presence” of Jesus is invisible, why is it so important? Because of its effect on mankind. Other prophecies help us to understand this. For example, in the book of Revelation, the apostle John records a vision of what would happen when Jesus began to rule as Messianic King: “War broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels battled with the dragon, and the dragon and its angels battled but it did not prevail, neither was a place found for them any longer in heaven. So down the great dragon was hurled, the original serpent, the one called Devil and Satan, who is misleading the entire inhabited earth; he was hurled down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him.”—Revelation 12:7-9.
Thus, the first world war was not the only war that broke out in 1914. There was a greater war fought, although unseen by human eyes. But the results were felt here on earth: “I 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 . . . 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.’”—Revelation 12:10, 12.
Here is a new dimension to the problems of mankind in the 20th century. Satan and his demons are confined to the vicinity of the earth. Is it any wonder that some of the most evil men in history have lived and prospered in our time? Satan’s activities will continue for only “a short period of time.” But as long as that time lasts, things will not improve. No wonder Jesus said that the first world war and related events were only the “beginning of pangs of distress”!
However, that distress would not last forever. Jesus showed, in fact, that it would last for only a short time. He foretold concerning those living in 1914 who would see the fulfillment of the ‘sign of his presence’: “Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.” (Matthew 24:34) Among the things due to occur in the lifetime of this generation is the fulfillment of a prophecy from an older part of the Bible.
1914 and World Government
Hundreds of years before Jesus’ time, a Hebrew prophet named Daniel gave us a preview of the march of world powers from his own day down to ours. At the end of the prophecy, pointing to the powers ruling in our day, he said: “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be brought to ruin. And the kingdom itself will not be passed on to any other people. It will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite.”—Daniel 2:44.
Thus, the birth of God’s Kingdom in 1914 is something of pivotal importance in world history. It is truly a world government. Soon it will take over the day-by-day ruling of this earth.
Its effects will be literally epoch making. The year 1914 ushered in an age of confusion and violence. After Armageddon, the Kingdom of God will bring in an age of peace and tranquillity. In a beautiful picture of the world unity that will soon exist under Jesus’ rule, an ancient prophecy says: “In his days the righteous one will sprout, and the abundance of peace until the moon is no more. And he will have subjects from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.”—Psalm 72:7, 8.
Thus, the international turmoil that the earth has witnessed since 1914 is seen to be striking evidence of “the conclusion of the system of things.” It is proof of the anger Satan has because he knows his time has nearly run out. It is a demonstration of the fact that a new and better system of things is at hand.
1914 and Christians
Why has not Jesus already brought that peace and unity to mankind? Because there is an important task to be accomplished first. It was foretold by Jesus when he was giving ‘the sign of his presence.’ He said: “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 will come.” (Matthew 24:14) The end will not come before mankind has been told what is happening. Are they being told?
Yes. From the early days after World War I, Jehovah’s Witnesses have zealously and fearlessly preached about the newborn Kingdom of God. In more than 200 lands today, they continue to visit people in their homes and explain to them the real reason for this century’s problems. They tell them of the new system that will soon exist under God’s Kingdom, and thus they share with them their hope for the future. The end will not come before that preaching work is completed.
Apart from informing mankind in general about the Kingdom, the preaching work has served another purpose: It has given men the opportunity to become subjects of God’s Kingdom. Jehovah God encourages both the nations and their rulers: “Serve Jehovah with fear and be joyful with trembling. Kiss the son, that He may not become incensed and you may not perish.” (Psalm 2:11, 12) The nations as a whole have not responded to this invitation, but many individuals have. This has not made them revolutionary opponents of the present rulers on earth. (Romans 13:1-7) But it has made them want to learn the laws of God’s Kingdom and obey these.
The result has been a remarkable phenomenon, fulfilling yet another prophecy for our times: “Many peoples will certainly go and say: ‘Come, you people, and let us go up to the mountain of Jehovah, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will instruct us about his ways, and we will walk in his paths.’ . . . And they will have to beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning shears. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, neither will they learn war anymore.”—Isaiah 2:2-4.
Individuals are now fulfilling that prophecy. From all nations and languages, literally millions have begun to live by the laws of God’s Kingdom, and they are at peace with one another. Centuries-old tribal and religious conflicts are being resolved between individuals. Thus, a group of people is being separated from the world to be a nucleus of the new world system that will exist under God’s Kingdom.—Revelation 7:9-17.
1914 and You
Can you now see the importance of the date 1914 and the effect it can have on you? In that year, events were set in motion that will result in a complete change in the world scene. The key to the changes is God’s Kingdom. When Jesus began to rule in that Kingdom, things could never be the same again. Satan was cast out of heaven. A world order crumbled, and men have found nothing solid to put in its place. But God’s Kingdom will finally “crush” the human ruling systems and supplant them forever.
Thus the date 1914 introduced a time of great urgency but also of great opportunity. There is still time to “kiss the son” in demonstration of your subjection to him. Those who do will survive the coming end of this system of things and be part of a human race united in peace and harmony under just one King, Jesus Christ.
This future can be the real meaning of 1914 to you.
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In the early days of this century, the greatest world power of all—God’s Kingdom—was born
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All things prophesied by Jesus will occur during the lifetime of at least some of the generation of 1914