Some of Jesus’ faithful followers wanted to know when God’s Kingdom would begin ruling. Jesus answered their question by saying that they would not know exactly when it would rule over the earth. (Acts 1:6, 7) But, earlier, he had told them that when his followers saw a certain group of events happening all at once, they would “know that the Kingdom of God [was] near” and that the time for it to rule the world had come.—Luke 21:31.
WHAT EVENTS DID JESUS SAY WOULD HAPPEN?
Jesus said: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and in one place after another food shortages and pestilences.” (Luke 21:10, 11) Like the lines that form a fingerprint, all these events together form an unmistakable sign. And just as a fingerprint identifies a person, these events happening at the same time identify that “the Kingdom of God is near.” Have such events occurred together and become visible on a worldwide scale? Consider the evidence.
In 1914, war broke out on a scale never seen before in all human history! Historians often refer to the year 1914 as a turning point in history because it is when the first-ever world war began. That war introduced the first large-scale use of tanks, aerial bombs, machine guns, poisonous gas, and other deadly weapons. It was followed by the second world war, a war that gave birth to atomic weapons. Mankind has been fighting wars in one place or another ever since 1914, and those wars have killed millions of people.
Every year there are about 100 earthquakes that are large enough to cause “substantial damage,” says Britannica Academic. And the United States Geological Survey reports that “according to long-term records (since about 1900), we expect about 16 major earthquakes in any given year.” Though some might attribute the apparent increase in earthquakes to better detection, the fact is that great earthquakes around the world are causing suffering and loss of life on an unprecedented scale.
3. FOOD SHORTAGES
Food shortages occur worldwide because of war, corruption, economic collapse, poor management of agriculture, or lack of planning for extreme weather. The World Food Programme’s “2018 Year in Review” states: “Across the world, 821 million people are going hungry—124 million acutely so.” Malnutrition has contributed to the death of about 3.1 million children each year. In the year 2011, this was the cause of about 45 percent of all child deaths worldwide.
4. DISEASES AND EPIDEMICS
A World Health Organization publication states: “The 21st century has already been marked by major epidemics. Old diseases—cholera, plague and yellow fever—have returned, and new ones have emerged—SARS, pandemic influenza, MERS, Ebola and Zika.” Even though scientists and doctors have learned much about sicknesses, they have not been able to find a cure for all diseases.
5. A WORLDWIDE PREACHING WORK
Jesus pointed out another part of the sign when he foretold: “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) While the world is experiencing terrible problems, over eight million people from all nations are declaring the good news of God’s Kingdom in 240 lands and in over 1,000 languages. This has never happened before in human history.
WHAT DOES THE SIGN MEAN FOR US?
The events making up the sign Jesus gave are happening today. Why should we be interested in that fact? Because Jesus said: “When you see these things happening, know that the Kingdom of God is near.”—Luke 21:31.
The sign that Jesus gave, along with Bible chronology, helps us understand that God set up his Kingdom in heaven in the year 1914.* At that time, he installed his Son, Jesus Christ, as King. (Psalm 2:2, 4, 6-9) Soon, God’s Kingdom will rule the earth, and it will remove all rival rulerships and make the earth a paradise for humans to live in forever.
Shortly, the words of the model prayer that Jesus taught will be fulfilled: “Let your Kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also on earth.” (Matthew 6:10) What, though, has the Kingdom been doing since it took power in 1914? And what can we look forward to when the Kingdom takes complete rulership of mankind?
For details regarding the year 1914, see the book What Can the Bible Teach Us? published by Jehovah’s Witnesses, endnote 22.