The End of Crime Now Near!
DETECTIVES seek to solve crimes by examining clues that reveal the identity and motives of the perpetrators. The methods and skills of the detective are the subject of novels popular worldwide. Though he may eventually be successful in finding the criminal, the detective’s work generally begins after the event, after the crime has been committed.
As can be seen by the escalation in crime, for every criminal caught, there are many others who turn to crime. So more than merely solving those offenses already committed needs to be done to eliminate crime. What will stop people from becoming criminals?
Crime has to do with morals. We have no difficulty in accepting that murder, rape, and other violent acts are crimes. But what of cheating when filling out a tax return? Such an act is also criminal, for it is contrary to moral standards of honesty. Fully ending crime should mean wiping out all acts contrary to fundamental morality.
Consider three Bible examples that highlight not only the cause of crime but also the way it will be eliminated.
Godly Fear Versus Envy
Please note the words of the psalmist Asaph: “I became envious of the boasters, when I would see the very peace of wicked people.” (Psalm 73:3) Yes, envy of a criminal’s prosperity and life-style entices many to adopt lawless ways. Glamorizing crime on television and in the press makes it more acceptable rather than stimulating a hatred of what is bad.
Nonetheless, the inspired writer of Proverbs exhorts: “Let your heart not be envious of sinners, but be in the fear of Jehovah all day long.” The very motive and desire of a person are at the root of the problem. The most effective way to curb them is by building a godly fear of displeasing Jehovah God. “In that case there will exist a future, and your own hope will not be cut off.”—Proverbs 23:17, 18.
Faith Versus Greed
In the spring of 33 C.E., Jesus was traveling through the town of Jericho. That was the hometown of Zacchaeus, whom Gospel writer Luke describes as “a chief tax collector,” adding that “he was rich.” The fertile district around Jericho was a prime area for tax collection, and as indicated by Zacchaeus’ own words, his activity as chief tax collector provided him with opportunities for extortion. But Zacchaeus did not remain a criminal.—Luke 19:1-8.
Zacchaeus raced ahead of the crowd gathered around Jesus and because of his small stature sought a vantage point by climbing a fig-mulberry tree. Jesus noticed him and told Zacchaeus to come down, for He would stay with him while in Jericho. Later, Zacchaeus’ words proclaimed a changed attitude: “The half of my belongings . . . I am giving to the poor, and whatever I extorted from anyone by false accusation I am restoring fourfold.” Restoring the extorted sums of money would involve great expense. By promising to do this, Zacchaeus proclaimed his faith in Jesus. Yes, his changed outlook brought a tangible result, a restoring of what had been illegally taken plus another three times that value, making a fourfold restitution. Thus Zacchaeus righted the wrong he had committed and went even further, proving the sincerity of his changed way of living.—2 Corinthians 7:11.
People More Important Than Possessions
Roman governor Pilate said of the accused Jesus Christ: “I find no crime in this man.” (Luke 23:4) Instead of resorting to criminal conduct to gain possessions, throughout his earthly ministry, Jesus demonstrated a loving interest in people. “On seeing the crowds he felt pity for them, because they were skinned and thrown about like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples: ‘Yes, the harvest is great, but the workers are few. Therefore, beg the Master of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.’” (Matthew 9:36-38) Clearly, Jesus placed people before possessions, even before his own comfort and interests. We see this also from his willingness to expend himself in caring for the disciples and crowds who sought him out for instruction and help. (Matthew 8:20; 14:13-16) In this, Jesus left us a model to follow.—1 Peter 2:21.
Is it possible for people today to follow that pattern, to hold fellow humans as of more value than material goods? We can answer in the affirmative. Consider Jehovah’s Witnesses, now more than three and a quarter million strong. They seek to have the mind of Christ and to give that practical expression. They are constantly working to eliminate from their hearts the wicked desires that lead many others to crime. Before becoming Witnesses, as they studied the Bible and developed love for God, this touched some of them who had been criminals; it prompted a number of them to make restoration for criminal acts they previously committed. No, such ones did not do this for publicity but so as to have peaceful relations with Jehovah God and thus benefit from his undeserved kindness as expressed through the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ.—1 Corinthians 2:16; 6:11; 2 Corinthians 5:18-20.
With love for their neighbors, such Christians take time to visit other folk and to explain how such families can look forward to life in Paradise conditions under God’s Kingdom. Each week Jehovah’s Witnesses hold regular meetings at their Kingdom Halls. One self-confessed thief accepted an invitation to attend to see what the meetings are like. He relates: “To say the least, I was greatly surprised. It was not a bit dull or boring as I had expected. The warmth and love, so evident, were obviously genuine. And the appreciation all the Witnesses seemed to have for spiritual things was outstanding.” He was so impressed that he continued his association, and this helped him reform. Whether you have been involved in crime or not, when you associate with God’s servants, you too will find the same genuine interest in people rather than in possessions.—Matthew 22:39.
If people no longer act as criminals, does this mean that they are perfect? Far from it! Jehovah’s Witnesses, like everybody else, suffer from sin inherited from our first human parent, Adam. (Romans 5:12; 1 John 1:8) But they are now united in serving God, as reflected in their worldwide preaching and teaching work. This bears powerful testimony to the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy: “It must occur in the final part of the days that the mountain of the house of Jehovah will become firmly established above the top of the mountains, . . . and to it all the nations must stream.” (Isaiah 2:2) Indeed, millions are streaming to Jehovah’s exalted worship, seeking instruction in his ways. You can be one of those who benefit by associating with people who avoid crime.
Crime Elimination—The Prospects
The increased criminal activity of our day actually presages the nearness of divine intervention to remove all wicked ones, including all perpetrators of crime. “For evildoers themselves will be cut off . . . Just a little while longer, and the wicked one will be no more; and you will certainly give attention to his place, and he will not be.” (Psalm 37:9, 10) The end to crime is indeed now near, for we are drawing close to the time when the original criminal, Satan the Devil, will be bound and abyssed. (Revelation 20:1-3) How thrilling it should be to know that the fear of crime and the pain suffered by its victims will soon be things of the past!
Yet, what about the millions of people who in the resurrection will return to life on earth? (Acts 24:15) If they persist with the same personality and ways that they had before their death, will they not spark a new crime wave? There is no need to fear that. Jesus promised a thief a resurrection, saying: “Truly I tell you today, You will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43) This surely indicates that resurrected ones will have to make changes; otherwise the new world would not be a paradise.
Just as even hardened criminals need rehabilitation before being able to settle into the community without creating problems, so under God’s Kingdom, an extensive educational program will help the subjects to be law-abiding. (Revelation 20:12, 13) With the obvious advantage of being surrounded by the inhabitants of Paradise, who are obeying God’s laws, resurrected ones will experience properly regulated economic conditions. (Isaiah 65:21-23) There will be just rulers in place, and any persistent wrongdoers will face removal from life. (Isaiah 32:1; 65:20) So there is abundant reason to trust that, finally, crime will end.
Although we still live amid a world characterized by crime, you can confidently reflect trust in Jehovah, who promises to reward his faithful servants with perfect life in Paradise. Do so now by taking advantage of the free home Bible study arrangement offered by Jehovah’s Witnesses. (John 17:3) The next time you meet them, why not ask for further details? Or you can write to the address nearest to you as listed on page 2 of this magazine. It is certainly worth putting forth effort, for the end to crime is now near!
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Zacchaeus’ faith prompted him to restore what he had extorted
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An educational program will teach the subjects of God’s Kingdom to be law-abiding