The Sign—Proof That the New World Is Near?
“Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in [various] places.”—Matthew 24:7, King James Version.
WHILE World War I raged, The Watch Tower, April 15, 1917, quoted these words and stated: “We see now a partial fulfillment of this prophetic statement, in that practically all the nations of earth are engaged in deadly conflict. The available food supply is everywhere decreasing and the cost of living increasing.”
Now, 71 years later, this magazine is still drawing its readers’ attention to this prophecy. Three ancient historians recorded this prophecy as part of “the sign” given by Jesus Christ.—Matthew 24:3, 7; Mark 13:4, 8; Luke 21:7, 10, 11.
Since 1914, hundreds of millions of lives have been snuffed out by wars, famines, pestilences, and other disasters. The New Encyclopædia Britannica (1987) lists 63 “Major historical earthquakes” spanning the past 1,700 years. Of this total, 27, or 43 percent, have struck since 1914. The book Terra Non Firma, by Professors Gere and Shah, has a list covering a longer period. Of the total “significant” earthquakes in that list, 54 percent have taken place since 1914.* Even granting that records from past centuries are incomplete, we cannot escape the conclusion that in our time mankind has been greatly affected by earthquakes.
Something even more horrifying struck men’s hearts with the exploding of atom bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The nuclear powers now possess so many weapons of mass destruction that humanity is threatened with extinction. As the historian Luke went on to record in Jesus’ prophecy: “There will be fearful sights and from heaven great signs . . . and on the earth anguish of nations, not knowing the way out . . . while men become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth.”—Luke 21:11, 25, 26.
Although the superpowers may agree to reduce the numbers of some weapons in their arsenals, such agreements will not reduce man’s fear of violent crime, economic collapse, and terrorism. “What worries people most nowadays,” states an African newspaper, “is their own personal safety. . . . Crime has gone crazy . . . ; there is an all-pervading fear.” Yes, and Jesus foretold that “the increasing of lawlessness” is yet another accurate detail of the sign.—Matthew 24:12.
You will be relieved to hear, though, that the tragic developments just mentioned are foretold to be accompanied by “good news [being] preached in all the inhabited earth.” (Matthew 24:14) The “good news” is about God’s Kingdom. Already, that superhuman world government has gathered millions of loyal subjects. It will soon intervene in human affairs and satisfy man’s need for a righteous new world.—Luke 21:28-32; 2 Peter 3:13.
Many brush aside the “good news” in disbelief. Others say they believe it, but they do little about it. Some act on it for a time, then they begin to doubt. Were such negative reactions also foretold as part of the sign? More important, how can you personally benefit from this sign?
The World Book Encyclopedia (1987) lists 37 “Major Earthquakes,” from 526 C.E. forward. Of this list, 65 percent have occurred since 1914.