“You are not in darkness, so that that day should overtake you as it would thieves.”—1 THESS. 5:4.
1. What will help us to keep on the watch and to cope with trials?
EARTHSHAKING events will soon occur. The fulfillment of Bible prophecies confirms this fact, so we need to keep on the watch. What will help us to do that? The apostle Paul urges us to “keep our eyes . . . on the things unseen.” Yes, we need to bear in mind our reward of everlasting life, be it in heaven or on earth. As the context shows, Paul wrote these words to encourage fellow believers to focus on the happy outcome of their faithful course. Doing so would also help them to cope with trials and persecution.—2 Cor. 4:8, 9, 16-18; 5:7.
2. (a) To keep our hope firm, what must we do? (b) What will we consider in this and the following article?
2 Paul’s admonition contains an important principle: To keep our hope firm, we must look beyond the things that are immediately before us. We need to focus on significant events that are as yet unseen. (Heb. 11:1; 12:1, 2) Let us, therefore, consider ten future events that are closely related to our hope of everlasting life.a
WHAT WILL HAPPEN JUST BEFORE THE END?
3. (a) What development yet to take place is mentioned at 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 3? (b) What will political leaders do, and who may join them?
3 One future development is mentioned by Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians. (Read 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 3.) He draws attention to “Jehovah’s day.” As used here, “Jehovah’s day” refers to the period that will start with the destruction of false religion and will culminate in the war of Armageddon. However, just before that day of Jehovah begins, world leaders will be saying “Peace and security!” This may refer to one event or to a series of events. Nations may think that they are close to solving some of their big problems. What about the religious leaders? They are part of the world, so it is possible that they will join the political leaders. (Rev. 17:1, 2) The clergy would thus be imitating the false prophets of ancient Judah. Jehovah said about them: “They [are] saying, ‘There is peace! There is peace!’ when there is no peace.”—Jer. 6:14; 23:16, 17.
4. Unlike mankind in general, what do we discern?
4 No matter who will share in saying “Peace and security!” that development will indicate that Jehovah’s day is to begin. Paul could therefore state: “Brothers, you are not in darkness, so that that day should overtake you as it would thieves, for you are all sons of light.” (1 Thess. 5:4, 5) Unlike mankind in general, we discern the Scriptural significance of current events. How exactly will this prophecy about saying “Peace and security!” be fulfilled? We must wait and see. Therefore, let us be determined to “stay awake and keep our senses.”—1 Thess. 5:6; Zeph. 3:8.
“A QUEEN” WHO MISCALCULATES HER CHANCES
5. (a) How will the “great tribulation” start? (b) What “queen” will miscalculate her chances of survival?
5 What yet unseen event will take place next? Paul stated: “Whenever it is that they are saying: ‘Peace and security!’ then sudden destruction is to be instantly upon them.” The first phase of this “sudden destruction” is the attack against “Babylon the Great,” the world empire of false religion, also known as “the harlot.” (Rev. 17:5, 6, 15) That attack against all forms of false religion, including Christendom, is the start of the “great tribulation.” (Matt. 24:21; 2 Thess. 2:8) For many, this event will come as a surprise. Why? Because up to that point, the harlot will confidently view herself as “a queen” who will “never see mourning.” But she will suddenly discover that she has miscalculated her chances of survival. She will be wiped out rather quickly, as if “in one day.”—Rev. 18:7, 8.
6. False religion will be destroyed by whom?
6 God’s Word identifies the harlot’s attacker as a “wild beast” with “ten horns.” A study of the book of Revelation shows that the wild beast refers to the United Nations (UN). “The ten horns” represent all present political powers that support this “scarlet-colored wild beast.”b (Rev. 17:3, 5, 11, 12) How devastating will the attack be? The nations of the UN will plunder the harlot’s wealth, expose her real character, devour her, and “completely burn her.” Her destruction will be final.—Read Revelation 17:16.
7. What will trigger the attack by the “wild beast”?
7 Bible prophecy also indicates what will trigger this attack. Somehow Jehovah will put it into the hearts of political rulers “to carry out his thought,” namely, to devastate the harlot. (Rev. 17:17) Warmongering religion continues to be a disruptive force in the world; hence, the nations may feel that destroying the harlot is in their own national interests. In fact, when the rulers attack, they will think that they are carrying out their own “one thought.” In reality, however, they act as God’s tool for obliterating all false religion. Thus, in a stunning reversal, one part of Satan’s system will attack another part, and Satan will be powerless to prevent it.—Matt. 12:25, 26.
AN ATTACK ON GOD’S PEOPLE
8. What is the attack by “Gog of the land of Magog”?
8 After false religion has been destroyed, God’s servants will still be found “dwelling in security” and “without wall.” (Ezek. 38:11, 14) What will happen to this seemingly defenseless group of people who continue to worship Jehovah? It appears that they will become the object of an all-out assault by “many peoples.” God’s Word describes that development as the attack by “Gog of the land of Magog.” (Read Ezekiel 38:2, 15, 16.) How should we view that attack?
9. (a) What is a Christian’s main concern? (b) What steps should we take now to strengthen our faith?
9 Knowing in advance about this attack on God’s people does not make us overly anxious. Rather, our main concern is, not our own salvation, but the sanctification of Jehovah’s name and the vindication of his sovereignty. In fact, Jehovah declared more than 60 times: “You will have to know that I am Jehovah.” (Ezek. 6:7; see footnote.) Hence, we look forward with intense interest to the fulfillment of that outstanding aspect of Ezekiel’s prophecy, trusting that “Jehovah knows how to deliver people of godly devotion out of trial.” (2 Pet. 2:9) Meanwhile, we want to use every opportunity to strengthen our faith so that we will be able to keep our integrity to Jehovah no matter what tests we may face. What should we do? We should pray, study God’s Word and meditate on it, and share the Kingdom message with others. By doing so, we keep our hope of everlasting life firm, like “an anchor.”—Heb. 6:19; Ps. 25:21.
THE NATIONS WILL HAVE TO ACKNOWLEDGE JEHOVAH
10, 11. What will signal the beginning of Armageddon, and what will take place during that time?
10 What earthshaking event will be triggered by the attack on Jehovah’s servants? Jehovah, by means of Jesus and the heavenly armies, will intervene in behalf of His people. (Rev. 19:11-16) That intervention will be “the war of the great day of God the Almighty”—Armageddon.—Rev. 16:14, 16.
11 Regarding that war, Jehovah declares by means of Ezekiel: “‘I will call forth against [Gog] throughout all my mountainous region a sword,’ is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah. ‘Against his own brother the sword of each one will come to be.’” Panic-stricken, those on Satan’s side will be thrown into confusion and will turn their weapons against their own ranks—warrior against warrior. However, havoc is also to come Satan’s way. Jehovah states: “Fire and sulphur I shall rain down upon [Gog] and upon his bands and upon the many peoples that will be with him.” (Ezek. 38:21, 22) What will be the result of this divine action?
12. The nations will be forced to do what?
12 The nations will have to realize that their crushing defeat is brought about by the order of Jehovah himself. Then, as did the ancient Egyptian attackers who pursued the Israelites at the Red Sea, Satan’s forces may cry out in desperation: “Jehovah certainly fights for them”! (Ex. 14:25) Yes, the nations will be forced to acknowledge Jehovah. (Read Ezekiel 38:23.) How close are we to the start of this chain of events?
NO OTHER WORLD POWER WILL ARISE
13. What do we know about the fifth part of the image that Daniel describes?
13 A prophecy in the book of Daniel enables us to establish where we are in the stream of time. Daniel describes an image in human form made up of different metals. (Dan. 2:28, 31-33) It represents successive world powers that have had a major influence on God’s people, past and present. They are Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome—and the last, in our time, another world power. A study of Daniel’s prophecy shows that this final world power is depicted in the image as the feet and toes. During World War I, Britain and the United States forged a special partnership. Yes, the fifth part of Daniel’s image is the Anglo-American World Power. The feet form the last part of the image, indicating that no other human world power will appear on the scene. That the feet and toes are made up of iron and clay pictures the weakened state of the Anglo-American World Power.
14. Which world power will be the dominant one when Armageddon strikes?
14 The same prophecy indicates that God’s Kingdom, pictured by a large stone, was cut from the mountain of Jehovah’s sovereignty in 1914. That stone is now hurtling toward its target—the feet of the image. At Armageddon, the feet and the rest of the image will be smashed. (Read Daniel 2:44, 45.) Thus, the Anglo-American World Power will still be the dominant world power when Armageddon strikes. How thrilling it will be to witness the complete fulfillment of this prophecy!c What, though, does Jehovah have in store for Satan himself?
HOW GOD’S CHIEF ADVERSARY WILL BE HANDLED
15. After Armageddon, what will happen to Satan and his demons?
15 First, Satan will have to witness from beginning to end his entire organization on earth being wiped out. Then, Satan himself becomes the focus of attention. The apostle John reports what happens next. (Read Revelation 20:1-3.) Jesus Christ—the “angel . . . with the key of the abyss”—will seize Satan and his demons, hurl them into the abyss, and keep them there for a thousand years. (Luke 8:30, 31; 1 John 3:8) That action constitutes the initial stage of the bruising of the serpent’s head.d—Gen. 3:15.
16. What will it mean for Satan to be in “the abyss”?
16 What is “the abyss” into which Satan and the demons will be hurled? The Greek word aʹbys·sos used by John means “very or exceedingly deep.” It is also translated “unfathomable, boundless,” and “the infinite void.” Thus, it is a place completely out of reach of anyone except Jehovah and his appointed angel “with the key of the abyss.” There, Satan will be in a state of deathlike inactivity so that “he might not mislead the nations anymore.” Truly, that “roaring lion” will be silenced!—1 Pet. 5:8.
EVENTS LEADING UP TO A TIME OF PEACE
17, 18. (a) What events that are yet unseen have we considered so far? (b) After these events, what time period will we enjoy?
17 Significant developments and earthshaking events are ahead of us. We look forward to seeing how the saying of “Peace and security!” will come about. Then we will witness the destruction of Babylon the Great, the attack by Gog of Magog, the battle of Armageddon, and the hurling into the abyss of Satan and his demons. After these events, when all wickedness is gone, we will enter a new chapter in life—Christ’s Millennial Reign, during which we will enjoy an “abundance of peace.”—Ps. 37:10, 11.
18 In addition to the five events we have examined so far, there are other “things unseen” on which we want to “keep our eyes.” These events will be considered in the following article.
a The ten events are considered in this and the following article.
c The phrase “put an end to all these kingdoms” at Daniel 2:44 refers to the kingdoms, or world powers, pictured by the parts of the image. However, a parallel Bible prophecy shows that “the kings of the entire inhabited earth” will be lined up against Jehovah on “the great day of God the Almighty.” (Rev. 16:14; 19:19-21) Hence, not only the kingdoms of the image but also all other kingdoms of this world will be destroyed at Armageddon.