Four Questions About the End Answered
JESUS CHRIST foretold that at a future date, ‘the end would come.’ Describing that time, he said: “Then there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.”—Matthew 24:14, 21.
Jesus’ statements about the end, along with other Bible passages on this topic, raise a number of important questions. Why not open your Bible and read what it says in answer to those questions?
1 What Will End?
The Bible does not teach that the literal earth will be destroyed. “[God] has founded the earth upon its established places,” wrote the psalmist. “It will not be made to totter to time indefinite, or forever.” (Psalm 104:5) Nor does the Bible teach that all life will be annihilated in a global conflagration. (Isaiah 45:18) Jesus himself indicated that some people will survive the end. (Matthew 24:21, 22) What, then, does the Bible say will end?
Failing human governments will end. God inspired the prophet Daniel to write: “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.
War and pollution will end. Describing what God will do, Psalm 46:9 states: “He is making wars to cease to the extremity of the earth. The bow he breaks apart and does cut the spear in pieces; the wagons he burns in the fire.” The Bible also teaches that God will “bring to ruin those ruining the earth.”—Revelation 11:18.
Crime and injustice will end. God’s Word promises: “The upright are the ones that will reside in the earth, and the blameless are the ones that will be left over in it. As regards the wicked, they will be cut off from the very earth; and as for the treacherous, they will be torn away from it.”*—Proverbs 2:21, 22.
2 When Will the End Come?
Jehovah God has set an “appointed time” to bring an end to wickedness and to install his Kingdom government. (Mark 13:33) But the Bible clearly indicates that we cannot calculate the specific date for the end. Jesus said: “Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matthew 24:36) Jesus and his disciples did, however, foretell what conditions on earth would be like just before God brings the end. The end is imminent when all the following events are happening at the same time and on a global scale.
Political, environmental, and social upheaval is occurring to an extent unprecedented in history. In answer to the disciples’ questions about the end, Jesus said: “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, there will be earthquakes in one place after another, there will be food shortages. These are a beginning of pangs of distress.” (Mark 13:8) The apostle Paul wrote: “In the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, self-assuming, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with pride, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God.”—2 Timothy 3:1-5.
A worldwide, multilanguage preaching campaign is under way. Jesus 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.
3 What Will Follow the End?
The Bible does not teach that all good people will be taken from the earth to live forever in heavenly bliss. Instead, Jesus taught that God’s original purpose for mankind will be fulfilled. “Happy are the mild-tempered ones, since they will inherit the earth,” said Jesus. (Matthew 5:5; 6:9, 10) For those who die before the end comes, the Bible holds out the promise of a future resurrection. (Job 14:14, 15; John 5:28, 29) What will follow the end?
From heaven, Jesus will rule as King of God’s Kingdom. “I kept on beholding in the visions of the night,” wrote the prophet Daniel, “and, see there! with the clouds of the heavens someone like a son of man [the resurrected Jesus] happened to be coming; and to the Ancient of Days [Jehovah God] he gained access, and they brought him up close even before that One. And to him [Jesus] there were given rulership and dignity and kingdom, that the peoples, national groups and languages should all serve even him. His rulership is an indefinitely lasting rulership that will not pass away, and his kingdom one that will not be brought to ruin.”—Daniel 7:13, 14; Luke 1:31, 32; John 3:13-16.
Subjects of God’s Kingdom will enjoy perfect health, lasting security, and eternal life. “They will certainly build houses and have occupancy,” wrote the prophet Isaiah. “And they will certainly plant vineyards and eat their fruitage. They will not build and someone else have occupancy; they will not plant and someone else do the eating.” (Isaiah 65:21-23) The apostle John wrote of that time: “Look! The tent of God is with mankind, and he will reside with them, and they will be his peoples. And God himself will be with them. And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”—Revelation 21:3, 4.
4 What Must You Do to Survive the End?
The apostle Peter acknowledged that some of those living in the time of the end would scoff at the idea that God would ever intervene in human affairs and end wickedness on earth. (2 Peter 3:3, 4) Even so, Peter urges those living in our day to take the following action.
Learn from history. God “did not hold back from punishing an ancient world, but kept Noah, a preacher of righteousness, safe with seven others when he brought a deluge upon a world of ungodly people,” wrote Peter. (2 Peter 2:5) Regarding those who scoff, Peter said: “According to their wish, this fact escapes their notice, that there were heavens from of old and an earth standing compactly out of water and in the midst of water by the word of God; and by those means the world of that time suffered destruction when it was deluged with water. But by the same word the heavens and the earth* that are now are stored up for fire and are being reserved to the day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men.”—2 Peter 3:5-7.
Live by God’s moral standards. Those who wish to survive the end will perform “holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion,” wrote Peter. (2 Peter 3:11) Notice that Peter emphasizes “holy acts of conduct” and “deeds of godly devotion.” More is involved, therefore, than a superficial confession of faith or a last-minute effort to put things right with God.
What specific acts and deeds does God find acceptable? Why not compare what you know with what the Bible teaches on this subject? Jehovah’s Witnesses would be happy to assist you. Ask them to show you from your Bible the basis for their answers. Doing so may well help you face the future with courage and confidence, despite the causes of fear that now surround us.
See also the article “Do All Have an Equal Opportunity to Come to Know God?” on page 22 of this issue.
Peter is here making a symbolic reference to the earth. The Bible writer Moses similarly referred to the earth in a symbolic way. He wrote: “All the earth continued to be of one language.” (Genesis 11:1) Just as the literal earth does not speak “one language,” it is not the literal earth that will be destroyed. Rather, as Peter states, it is ungodly men who will suffer destruction.
[Blurb on page 7]
The earth will not end, but those who ruin it will