“The world is passing away and so is its desire, but the one who does the will of God remains forever.”—1 JOHN 2:17.
1, 2. (a) In what way might this system of things be compared to a condemned criminal? (See opening picture.) (b) What will be the response to the execution of this wicked system?
“DEAD MAN WALKING!” That cry rings out as a dangerous criminal is led from his prison cell, metal doors clanging behind him. Why do the man’s guards say such a thing? The man seems relatively healthy; no physical problem is about to rob him of his life. However, the guards are leading him to a place of execution. That condemned criminal is as good as dead.*
2 In a sense, today’s system of things is like that man on death row. This wicked world has long since been condemned, and its execution is now close at hand. The Bible says: “The world is passing away.” (1 John 2:17) The system’s end is a certainty. And yet, there is a key difference between this world’s end and that of the prisoner. At the prisoner’s execution, some may protest the sentence, questioning its justice or perhaps hoping for a last-minute stay of execution. In the case of this world, though, the sentence has been determined by the perfectly just Sovereign of the universe. (Deut. 32:4) There will be no stay of execution, and there will be no lingering doubts about the justice of the sentence. After it is carried out, every thinking creature in the universe will heartily agree that justice was done. The relief will be immense!
3. We will discuss what four categories that will be gone when God’s Kingdom comes?
3 What, though, is included in “the world” that is “passing away”? Much of what people today commonly consider to be permanent features of life in this world will be gone. Is that sad news? Far from it! In fact, it is a vital part of the “good news of the Kingdom.” (Matt. 24:14) So let us focus on what will be gone when God’s Kingdom comes. We will consider four broad categories: wicked people, corrupt organizations, wrong activities, and distressful conditions. In each case, we will examine (1) how these features of life affect us now, (2) what Jehovah will do about them, and (3) how he will replace them with what is truly good.
4. In what ways do wicked people affect us now?
4 How do wicked people affect us now? After foretelling that this present era would involve “critical times hard to deal with,” the apostle Paul was inspired to write: “Wicked men and impostors will advance from bad to worse.” (2 Tim. 3:1-5, 13) Have you seen those prophetic words come true? Many of us have been victims of wicked people, such as violent bullies, hateful bigots, and vicious criminals. Some of those are openly wicked; others are impostors, hiding what they do under an appearance of righteousness. Even if we ourselves have not been victims, such wicked people still affect us. We are sickened at heart when we learn of their horrible acts. The way the wicked brutalize children, the elderly, and other defenseless ones fills us with horror. Wicked people exhibit a spirit that seems subhuman, animalistic, even demonic. (Jas. 3:15) Happily, Jehovah’s Word counters such bad news with good news.
5. (a) What opportunity is still open to wicked individuals? (b) What will be the final outcome for wicked people who refuse to change?
5 What will Jehovah do? Right now Jehovah is giving wicked people an opportunity to change. (Isa. 55:7) As individuals, they have not yet received their final judgment. It is this system that stands condemned. But what of those individuals who refuse to change, who continue to support this system right up to the time of the great tribulation? Jehovah has promised to rid the earth of wicked people for all time. (Read Psalm 37:10.) The wicked may think that they are safe from such judgment. Many have learned to hide what they do, and in this world they often seem to escape justice and consequences. (Job 21:7, 9) Yet, the Bible reminds us: “God’s eyes are upon the ways of a man, and He sees all his steps. There is no darkness or deep shadow where wrongdoers can conceal themselves.” (Job 34:21, 22) There is no hiding from Jehovah God. No impostor can fool him; no shadow is so dark or deep that God’s limitless vision cannot pierce right to the heart of matters. After Armageddon, then, we may look where the wicked used to be, but we will not see them. They will be gone—forever!—Ps. 37:12-15.
6. Who will remain in place of wicked people, and why is that good news?
6 Who will remain in place of wicked people? Jehovah makes this heartwarming promise: “The meek will possess the earth, and they will find exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.” Later in the same psalm, we read: “The righteous will possess the earth, and they will live forever on it.” (Ps. 37:11, 29) Who are “the meek” and “the righteous”? The meek are those who humbly accept Jehovah’s teaching and guidance; the righteous are those who love doing what is right in the eyes of Jehovah God. In today’s world, righteous people are greatly outnumbered by the wicked. But in the new world to come, the meek and the righteous will be neither a minority nor a majority; they will be the only people alive. Truly, a population of such people will make the earth a paradise!
7. How do corrupt organizations affect us today?
7 How do corrupt organizations affect us now? Much of the evil that is done in this world is the work not of individuals but of organizations. Think, for instance, of the religious organizations that deceive millions of people about the nature of God, the trustworthiness of the Bible, the future of the earth and mankind—and many other subjects. Or what about the governments that promote war and ethnic violence, that oppress the poor and defenseless, that thrive on bribery and favoritism? What about greedy corporations that pollute the environment, deplete natural resources, and exploit the gullibility of consumers in order to bring untold wealth to a few while millions struggle in poverty? Without question, corrupt organizations are responsible for much of the misery in today’s world.
8. According to the Bible, what will happen to organizations that seem solid to many people today?
8 What will Jehovah do? The great tribulation will begin when the political elements turn against all false religious organizations as represented by the prostitute called Babylon the Great. (Rev. 17:1, 2, 16; 18:1-4) Those religious organizations will be completely destroyed. What, though, about all the other corrupt organizations? The Bible uses mountains and islands to picture many of the organizations and institutions that seem so solid to mankind today. (Read Revelation 6:14.) God’s Word foretells that the governments and all their dependent organizations will be rocked from their foundations. The great tribulation will reach its climax with the destruction of all the governments of this old world and all those who side with them against God’s Kingdom. (Jer. 25:31-33) Afterward, there will be no corrupt organizations at all!
9. Why can we be sure that the new earth will be well-organized?
9 What will replace corrupt organizations? After Armageddon, will there be any organization on earth? The Bible tells us: “There are new heavens and a new earth that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.” (2 Pet. 3:13) The old heavens and earth, the corrupt governments and the earthly society under their control, will be gone. They will be replaced by what? The expression “new heavens and a new earth” means that there will be a new government and a new earthly society over which that government rules. The Kingdom under Jesus Christ will perfectly reflect the personality of Jehovah God, who is a God of order. (1 Cor. 14:33) So the “new earth” will be organized. There will be good men to care for matters. (Ps. 45:16) They will be directed by Christ and his 144,000 corulers. Imagine a time when all corrupt organizations will be replaced by a single, unified, and incorruptible organization!
10. What kind of wrong activities are common where you live, and how are you and your family affected?
10 How do wrong activities affect us now? We live in a world full of wrongdoing. Immoral, dishonest, and brutally violent deeds seem to saturate this system of things. Parents in particular often struggle to shield their children from such wrongdoing. The entertainment industry seems to become ever more skillful at glamorizing all kinds of wrongdoing while making a mockery of Jehovah’s standards of right and wrong. (Isa. 5:20) True Christians work against that trend. They fight to protect their integrity in an atmosphere that promotes disrespect for Jehovah’s standards.
11. What do we learn from Jehovah’s judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah?
11 What will Jehovah do about wrong activities? Consider what he did about the wrongdoing that was common in Sodom and Gomorrah. (Read 2 Peter 2:6-8.) The righteous man Lot was tormented by all the wrongdoing that surrounded him and his family. When Jehovah brought destruction on that entire region, he was doing more than just putting an end to the wrongdoing there. He was “setting a pattern for ungodly people of things to come.” Just as Jehovah put an end to all the immoral activities back then, so he will put an end to similar wrongdoing today when he brings judgment against this present system of things.
12. What are some activities that you look forward to taking part in when this old system of things is gone?
12 What will replace wrong activities? The Paradise earth will be bustling with happy activity. Think of the thrilling work of turning this planet into a paradise or of building homes for ourselves and our loved ones. Consider the prospect of welcoming back millions from the dead and helping to educate them about Jehovah’s ways as well as the history of his dealings with mankind. (Isa. 65:21, 22; Acts 24:15) Our lives will be full of activity that will contribute to our joy and to Jehovah’s praise!
13. The rebellion of Satan, Adam, and Eve has resulted in what distressful world conditions today?
13 How do distressful conditions affect us now? Wicked people, corrupt organizations, and wrong activities all work together to produce distressing living conditions on this earth. Who of us can claim to be untouched by warfare, poverty, or racism? And what about sickness and death? Those conditions touch us all. They are the direct results of the rebellion against Jehovah on the part of three wicked individuals—Satan, Adam, and Eve. None of us can now escape the disorder that their rebellion unleashed.
14. What will Jehovah do about distressful conditions? Give an example.
14 What will Jehovah do about distressful conditions? Consider warfare. Jehovah promises to put an end to it for all time. (Read Psalm 46:8, 9.) What about sickness? He will wipe it out. (Isa. 33:24) And death? Jehovah will swallow it up forever! (Isa. 25:8) He will end poverty. (Ps. 72:12-16) He will do the same for all the other distressful conditions that make life miserable today. He will even drive away the bad “air” of this world system, for the bad spirit of Satan and his demons will be gone at last.—Eph. 2:2.
15. What are some things that will be gone forever after Armageddon?
15 Can you imagine a world without warfare, sickness, or death? Just think—no armies, navies, or air forces! No weapons or war memorials. No hospitals, doctors, nurses, or health insurance; no morgues, funeral homes, undertakers, or cemeteries! And with crime gone, there will be no security industry, no alarm systems, no police forces, perhaps no locks or keys! Think of the anxiety that will no longer trouble our mind and heart.
16, 17. (a) What relief will Armageddon survivors feel? Illustrate. (b) How can we be sure that we will remain after this old world is gone?
16 What will life be like when distressing conditions are gone? It is not easy to imagine. We have lived in this old world so long that we may have stopped noticing how much stress we feel over world conditions. Similarly, people who live near a busy train station may no longer notice the noise, and those who live near a garbage dump may no longer notice the smell. Ah, but take away all those negative factors—what relief!
17 What will replace the stresses we feel now? Psalm 37:11 answers: “They will find exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.” Do not those words touch your heart? That is what Jehovah wants for you. By all means, then, do everything in your power to stay close to Jehovah God and his organization during these stressful last days! Cherish your hope, ponder over it, make it real in your mind and heart—and share it generously with others! (1 Tim. 4:15, 16; 1 Pet. 3:15) That way, you can be sure that you will not pass away with this condemned old world. On the contrary, you will remain—alive and joyful—for all eternity!
This paragraph describes a prison custom that was common practice years ago in some parts of the United States.