God’s Government Begins Its Rule
1. (a) To what have persons of faith long looked forward? (b) Why is God’s kingdom called a “city”?
FOR THOUSANDS of years persons with faith in God’s government have looked forward to the time when it would begin its rule. For example, the Bible says that faithful Abraham “was awaiting the city having real foundations, the builder and maker of which city is God.” (Hebrews 11:10) That “city” is God’s kingdom. But why is it here called a “city”? This is because in ancient times it was common for a king to rule over a city. So people often thought of a city as a kingdom.
2. (a) What shows that the Kingdom was real to Christ’s early disciples? (b) What did they want to know about it?
2 The kingdom of God was real to Christ’s early followers. This is shown by their keen interest in its rule. (Matthew 20:20-23) A question in their minds was: When would Christ and his disciples begin ruling? Once when Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection, they asked: “Lord, are you restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?” (Acts 1:6) So, are you eager to learn when Christ begins to rule as King of God’s government, even as Christ’s disciples were?
THE GOVERNMENT FOR WHICH CHRISTIANS PRAY
3, 4. (a) What shows that God has always ruled as King? (b) So why did Christ teach his followers to pray for God’s kingdom to come?
3 Christ taught his followers to pray to God: “Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.” (Matthew 6:9, 10) But someone may ask: ‘Has not Jehovah God always ruled as king? And if he has, why pray for his kingdom to come?’
4 True, the Bible calls Jehovah the “King of eternity.” (1 Timothy 1:17) And it says: “Jehovah himself has firmly established his throne in the very heavens; and over everything his own kingship has held domination.” (Psalm 103:19) So Jehovah has always been the Supreme Ruler over all his creations. (Jeremiah 10:10) However, because of the rebellion against his rulership in the garden of Eden, God arranged for a special government. This is the government for which Jesus Christ later taught his followers to pray. Its purpose is to end the problems caused when Satan the Devil and others turned away from God’s rulership.
5. If it is God’s kingdom, why is it also called Christ’s kingdom and the kingdom of the 144,000?
5 This new Kingdom government receives its power and right to rule from the Great King, Jehovah God. It is his kingdom. Over and over again, the Bible calls it the “kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:2, 11, 60, 62; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; 15:50) However, since Jehovah has appointed his Son to be its Chief Ruler, it is also referred to as Christ’s kingdom. (2 Peter 1:11) As we learned in an earlier chapter, 144,000 persons from among humankind will rule with Christ in this kingdom. (Revelation 14:1-4; 20:6) So the Bible also refers to it as “their kingdom.”—Daniel 7:27.
6. According to some persons, when did God’s kingdom begin to rule?
6 Some persons say that the Kingdom began its rule in the year that Jesus returned to heaven. They say that Christ began ruling when he poured out the holy spirit on his followers on the day of the Jewish festival of Pentecost in the year 33 C.E. (Acts 2:1-4) But the Kingdom government that Jehovah arranged to end all the problems created by Satan’s rebellion did not begin its rule then. There is nothing to show that the ‘male child,’ which is God’s government with Christ as ruler, was then born and began its rule. (Revelation 12:1-10) Well, did Jesus in any way have a kingdom in the year 33 C.E.?
7. Over whom has Christ been ruling since 33C.E.?
7 Yes, Jesus then began to rule over his congregation of followers who, in time, were to join him in the heavens. Thus the Bible speaks of them, while they are on earth, as being taken into “the kingdom of the Son of [God’s] love.” (Colossians 1:13) But this rule, or “kingdom,” over Christians with the hope of heavenly life is not the Kingdom government for which Jesus taught his followers to pray. It is a kingdom over only the 144,000 persons who will rule with him in heaven. Down through the centuries they have been its only subjects. Thus this rule, or ‘kingdom of the Son of God’s love,’ will end when the last one of these subjects with a heavenly hope dies and joins Christ in heaven. No longer will they be Christ’s subjects, but they will then be kings with him in God’s long-promised Kingdom government.
BEGINNING OF RULE IN THE MIDST OF ENEMIES
8. (a) What shows that after Christ’s resurrection there would be a time of waiting before he began to rule? (b) What did God say to Christ when it was time for him to rule?
8 When Christ returned to heaven after his resurrection, he did not start ruling then as King of God’s government. Rather, there was to be a time of waiting, as the apostle Paul explains: “This man [Jesus Christ] offered one sacrifice for sins perpetually and sat down at the right hand of God, from then on awaiting until his enemies should be placed as a stool for his feet.” (Hebrews 10:12, 13) When the time came for Christ to begin to rule, Jehovah told him: “Go subduing [or, conquering] in the midst of your enemies.”—Psalm 110:1, 2, 5, 6.
9. (a) Why does not everyone want God’s kingdom? (b) When God’s government begins its rule, what do the nations do?
9 Does it sound strange that anyone would be an enemy of God’s government? Yet not everyone wants to live under a government that requires its subjects to do what is right. So after telling how Jehovah and his Son would take over world rulership, the Bible says, “the nations became wrathful.” (Revelation 11:15, 17, 18) The nations do not welcome God’s kingdom because Satan misleads them into opposing it.
10, 11. (a) When God’s government begins its rule, what happens in heaven? (b) What happens on earth? (c) So what important point do we want to remember?
10 When God’s government begins its rule, Satan and his angels are still living in heaven. Since they oppose Kingdom rule, right away war breaks out. As a result, Satan and his angels are thrown out of heaven. At this, a loud voice says: “Now have come to pass the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ.” Yes, the rule of God’s government begins! And with Satan and his angels removed from heaven, there is rejoicing there. “On this account be glad, you heavens and you who reside in them!” the Bible says.—Revelation 12:7-12.
11 Is this also a happy time for the earth? No! Instead, there is the greatest time of trouble the earth has ever had. The Bible tells us: “Woe for the earth and for the sea, because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.” (Revelation 12:12) So this is an important point to remember: The start of the rule of God’s kingdom does not mean immediate peace and security on earth. True peace will come later when God’s kingdom takes full control of the earth. This happens at the end of the “short period of time,” when Satan and his angels will be put out of the way so that they can no longer cause trouble for anyone.
12. Why can we expect that the Bible would tell us when God’s kingdom begins its rule?
12 But when is Satan thrown out of heaven, thus causing trouble on earth for “a short period of time”? When does God’s government begin its rule? Does the Bible give an answer? We should expect that it would. Why? Well, because long in advance the Bible foretold when God’s Son would appear first as a human on earth to become the Messiah. In fact, it pointed to the very year that he became the Messiah. What, then, about the even more important coming of the Messiah, or Christ, to begin his Kingdom rule? Surely we would expect that the Bible would also tell us when this would happen!
13. How does the Bible foretell the very year that the Messiah appeared on earth?
13 But a person may ask: ‘Where does the Bible foretell the very year the Messiah appeared on earth?’ The Bible book of Daniel says: “From the going forth of the word to restore and to rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Leader, there will be seven weeks, also sixty-two weeks,” or all together 69 weeks. (Daniel 9:25) These, however, are not 69 literal weeks, which amount to only 483 days, or a little more than one year. They are 69 weeks of years, or 483 years. (Compare Numbers 14:34.) The command to restore and rebuild the walls of Jerusalem was given in 455 B.C.E.* (Nehemiah 2:1-8) So these 69 weeks of years ended 483 years later, in 29 C.E. And that is the very year that Jesus came to John to be baptized! On that occasion he was anointed with holy spirit and became the Messiah, or Christ.—Luke 3:1, 2, 21-23.
WHEN GOD’S GOVERNMENT BEGINS ITS RULE
14. What does the “tree” in Daniel chapter four represent?
14 Well, then, where does the Bible foretell the year that Christ begins to rule as king of God’s government? It is in this same Bible book of Daniel. (Daniel 4:10-37) There a giant, heaven-high tree is used to represent King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. He was the highest human ruler at that time. However, King Nebuchadnezzar was forced to know that someone higher was ruling. This one is “the Most High,” or “the King of the heavens,” Jehovah God. (Daniel 4:34, 37) So, in a more important way, this heaven-high tree, comes to represent the supreme rulership of God, particularly in its relationship to our earth. Jehovah’s rulership was expressed for a time through the kingdom that he set up over the nation of Israel. Thus the kings of the tribe of Judah who reigned over the Israelites were said to “sit upon Jehovah’s throne.”—1 Chronicles 29:23.
15. When the “tree” was cut down, why were bands put on it?
15 According to the Bible account in Daniel chapter four, the heaven-high tree was cut down. However, the stump was left, and bands of iron and of copper were put on it. This would keep the stump from growing until it was God’s time to remove the bands and let it start growing again. But how and when was God’s rulership cut down?
16. (a) How and when was God’s rulership cut down? (b) What was the last king of Judah to sit on “Jehovah’s throne” told?
16 In due course, the kingdom of Judah that Jehovah had set up became so corrupt that he allowed King Nebuchadnezzar to destroy it, to cut it down. This happened in the year 607 B.C.E. At that time Zedekiah, the last king of Judah to sit on Jehovah’s throne, was told: “Lift off the crown. . . . it will certainly become no one’s until he comes who has the legal right, and I must give it to him.”—Ezekiel 21:25-27.
17. What period of time began in 607 B.C.E.?
17 So God’s rulership, as represented by the “tree,” was cut down in 607 B.C.E. No longer was there a government to represent God’s rulership in the earth. Thus, in 607 B.C.E. a period of time began that Jesus Christ later referred to as “the appointed times of the nations,” or, “the times of the Gentiles.” (Luke 21:24; King James Version) During these “appointed times” God did not have a government to represent his rulership in the earth.
18. What was to happen at the end of “the appointed times of the nations”?
18 What was to happen at the end of these “appointed times of the nations”? Jehovah was to give the power to rule to the One “who has the legal right.” This One is Jesus Christ. So if we can find out when “the appointed times of the nations” end, we will know when Christ begins to rule as king.
19. For how many “times” would God’s rulership over the earth be interrupted?
19 According to Daniel chapter four, these “appointed times” would be “seven times.” Daniel shows that there would be “seven times” during which God’s rulership, as represented by the “tree,” would not be in operation over the earth. (Daniel 4:16, 23) How long are these “seven times”?
20. (a) How long is one “time”? (b) How long are the “seven times”? (c) Why do we count a day for a year?
20 In Revelation chapter 12, verses 6 and 14, we learn that 1,260 days are equal to “a time [that is, 1 time] and times [that is, 2 times] and half a time.” That is a total of 3 1/2 times. So “a time” would be equal to 360 days. Therefore, “seven times” would be 7 times 360, or 2,520 days. Now if we count a day for a year, according to a Bible rule, the “seven times” equal 2,520 years.—Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:6.
21. (a) When do “the appointed times of the nations” begin and end? (b) When does God’s government begin its rule? (c)Why is it still proper to pray for God’s kingdom to come?
21 We have already learned that “the appointed times of the nations” began in the year 607 B.C.E. So by counting 2,520 years from that date, we come down to 1914 C.E. That is the year these “appointed times” ended. Millions of people still living remember the things that happened in 1914. In that year, World War I began a period of terrible trouble that has continued to our day. This means that Jesus Christ began to rule as king of God’s heavenly government in 1914. And because the Kingdom has already started its rule, how timely it is that we pray for it to “come” and wipe Satan’s wicked system of things from the earth!—Matthew 6:10; Daniel 2:44.
22. What question may some ask?
22 Yet a person may ask: ‘If Christ has already returned to rule in his Father’s kingdom, why do we not see him?’
For the historical evidence that this command was given in 455 B.C.E., see the subject “Artaxerxes” in the book Aid to Bible Understanding, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
[Chart on page 140, 141]
In 607 B.C.E. God’s kingdom of Judah fell.
In 1914 C.E. Jesus Christ began to rule as king of God’s heavenly government
607 B.C.E.—1914 C.E.
October, 607 B.C.E.—October, 1 B.C.E. = 606 years
October, 1 B.C.E.—October, 1914 C.E. = 1,914 years
SEVEN GENTILE TIMES = 2,520 YEARS
[Picture on page 134]
“Are you restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?”
[Picture on page 139]
The tall tree in Daniel chapter 4 represents divine rulership. For a time this was expressed through the kingdom of Judah
[Picture on page 140, 141]
The tree was cut down when the kingdom of Judah was destroyed
Christ’s Return—How Seen?
1. (a) What promise did Christ make? (b) What need is there for Christ’s return?
“I AM COMING AGAIN.” (John 14:3) Jesus Christ made this promise to his apostles when he was with them the night before his death. You will probably agree that never has there been a greater need for the peace, health and life that Christ’s return in Kingdom power will bring to humankind. But how does Christ return? Who see him, and in what way?
2. (a) When he returns, where does Christ take his anointed followers, including his apostles, to live? (b) What kind of bodies do they have there?
2 At his return, Christ does not come to live on earth. Rather, those who are to rule as kings with him are taken to live with him in heaven. Jesus told his apostles: “I am coming again and will receive you home to myself, that where I am you also may be.” (John 14:3) So, when Christ returns, those who are taken to heaven become spirit persons, and they see Christ in his glorified spirit body. (1 Corinthians 15:44) But do the rest of humankind, who do not go to heaven, see Christ when he returns?
WHY HE COULD NOT RETURN AS A HUMAN
3. What Bible evidence shows that humans will never see Christ again?
3 That same night Jesus went on to say to his apostles: “A little longer and the world will behold me no more.” (John 14:19) The “world” refers to humankind. So Jesus here plainly said that people on earth would not see him again after his ascension to heaven. The apostle Paul wrote: “Even if we have known Christ according to the flesh, certainly we now know him so no more.”—2 Corinthians 5:16.
4. What shows that Christ returns as a mighty invisible spirit person?
4 Yet many persons believe that Christ will return in the same human body in which he was put to death, and that all those living on earth will see him. The Bible, however, says that Christ returns in glory with all the angels, and that he sits “down on his glorious throne.” (Matthew 25:31) If Jesus were to come and sit as a man on an earthly throne, he would be lower in station than the angels. But he comes as the mightiest and most glorious of all these spirit sons of God and is therefore invisible, just as they are.—Philippians 2:8-11.
5. Why could Christ not return in a human body?
5 On the other hand, over 1,900 years ago it was necessary for Jesus to lower himself and become a man. He needed to give his perfect human life as a ransom for us. Jesus once explained it this way: “The bread that I shall give is my flesh in behalf of the life of the world.” (John 6:51) Jesus thus gave up his fleshly body in sacrifice for humankind. For how long was that sacrifice to be in effect? The apostle Paul answers: “We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all time.” (Hebrews 10:10) Having given up his flesh for the life of the world, Christ could never take it again and become a man once more. For that basic reason his return could never be in the human body that he sacrificed once for all time.
FLESHLY BODY NOT TAKEN TO HEAVEN
6. Why do many persons believe that Christ took his fleshly body to heaven?
6 However, many persons believe that Christ took his fleshly body to heaven. They point to the fact that when Christ was raised from the dead, his fleshly body was no longer in the tomb. (Mark 16:5-7) Also, after his death Jesus appeared to his disciples in a fleshly body to show them that he was alive. Once He even had the apostle Thomas put his hand into the hole in His side so that Thomas would believe that He had actually been resurrected. (John 20:24-27) Does this not prove that Christ was raised alive in the same body in which he was put to death?
7. What proves that Christ went to heaven as a spirit person?
7 No, it does not. The Bible is very clear when it says: “Christ died once for all time concerning sins . . . , he being put to death in the flesh, but being made alive in the spirit.” (1 Peter 3:18) Humans with flesh-and-blood bodies cannot live in heaven. Of the resurrection to heavenly life, the Bible says: “It is sown a physical body, it is raised up a spiritual body. . . . flesh and blood cannot inherit God’s kingdom.” (1 Corinthians 15:44-50) Only spirit persons with spiritual bodies can live in heaven.
8. What happened to Christ’s human body?
8 Well, then, what happened to Jesus’ fleshly body? Did not the disciples find his tomb empty? They did, because God removed Jesus’ body. Why did God do this? It fulfilled what had been written in the Bible. (Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:31) Thus Jehovah saw fit to remove Jesus’ body, even as he had done before with Moses’ body. (Deuteronomy 34:5, 6) Also, if the body had been left in the tomb, Jesus’ disciples could not have understood that he had been raised from the dead, since at that time they did not fully appreciate spiritual things.
9. How was it possible for Thomas to put his hand into a wound in the materialized body of the resurrected Jesus?
9 But since the apostle Thomas was able to put his hand into the hole in Jesus’ side, does that not show that Jesus was raised from the dead in the same body that was nailed to the stake? No, for Jesus simply materialized or took on a fleshly body, as angels had done in the past. In order to convince Thomas of who He was, He used a body with wound holes. He appeared, or seemed to be, fully human, able to eat and drink, just as did the angels that Abraham once entertained.—Genesis 18:8; Hebrews 13:2.
10. What shows that Jesus put on different physical bodies?
10 While Jesus appeared to Thomas in a body similar to the one in which He was put to death, He also took on different bodies when appearing to His followers. Thus Mary Magdalene at first thought that Jesus was a gardener. At other times his disciples did not at first recognize him. In these instances it was not his personal appearance that served to identify him, but it was some word or action that they recognized.—John 20:14-16; 21:6, 7; Luke 24:30, 31.
11, 12. (a) In what manner did Christ leave the earth? (b) So in what manner should we expect Christ’s return?
11 For 40 days after his resurrection, Jesus made appearances in a fleshly body to his disciples. (Acts 1:3) Then he left for heaven. But some may ask: ‘Did not the two angels present tell the apostles that Christ “will come thus in the same manner as you have beheld him going into the sky”?’ (Acts 1:11) Yes, they did. But notice that they said “in the same manner,” not in the same body. And what was the manner of Jesus’ leaving? It was quiet, without public display. Only his apostles knew about it. The world did not.
12 Consider how the Bible describes the manner in which Jesus left his apostles on his way to heaven: “While they were looking on, he was lifted up and a cloud caught him up from their vision.” (Acts 1:9) So when Jesus began going into the sky, a cloud hid him from the literal eyesight of his apostles. The departing Jesus, therefore, became invisible to them. They could not see him. Then in his spiritual body he ascended to heaven. (1 Peter 3:18) Thus his return also would be invisible, in a spiritual body.
HOW SEEN BY EVERY EYE
13. How are we to understand the statement that “every eye will see” Christ when he comes with the clouds?
13 How, then, are we to understand the words of Revelation 1:7? There the apostle John writes: “Look! He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, and those who pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in grief because of him.” Here the Bible speaks of seeing, not with physical eyes, but in the sense of discerning or perceiving. Thus, when a person comprehends or understands a matter, he may say, ‘I see it.’ The Bible, in fact, speaks of “the eyes of your understanding.” (Ephesians 1:18, King James Version) So the expression “every eye will see him” means that everyone will then understand or recognize that Christ is present.
14. (a) Who are meant by “those who pierced him”? (b) Why will there be great grief when everyone finally recognizes Christ’s presence?
14 Those who actually “pierced” Jesus are no longer alive on earth. So they represent persons who, by hurting Christ’s present-day followers, copy the conduct of those first-century men. (Matthew 25:40, 45) The time will soon come for Christ to execute such wicked ones. They have been warned in advance about this. When this execution takes place, they will “see” or recognize what is happening. And their grief will indeed be great!
DOES CHRIST COME BACK TO EARTH?
15. In what way is the word “return” often used?
15 To return does not always mean that one goes to a literal place. Thus sick persons are said to ‘return to health.’ And a former ruler may be said to ‘return to power.’ In a similar way, God told Abraham: “I shall return to you, next year at this time, and Sarah will have a son.” (Genesis 18:14; 21:1) Jehovah’s return meant, not literally returning, but turning his attention to Sarah to do what he had promised.
16. (a) In what way does Christ return to earth? (b) When did Christ return, and what then came to pass?
16 In the same way, Christ’s return does not mean that he literally comes back to this earth. Rather, it means that he takes Kingdom power toward this earth and turns his attention to it. He does not need to leave his heavenly throne and actually come down to earth to do this. As we have seen in the previous chapter, Bible evidence shows that in the year 1914 C.E. God’s time arrived for Christ to return and begin ruling. It was then that the cry was heard in heaven: “Now have come to pass the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ.”—Revelation 12:10.
17. Since Christ’s return is invisible, what did he give so that we could know that he had returned?
17 Since Christ’s return is invisible, is there a way to confirm that it has really occurred? Yes, there is. Christ himself gave a visible “sign” by which we may know that he is invisibly present and the end of the world is near. Let us examine that “sign.”
[Picture on page 142]
Christ gave up his body as a sacrifice. He could never take it back and become a man again
[Pictures on page 144, 145]
Why did Mary Magdalene mistake Jesus for a gardener after his resurrection?
Into what fleshly body did the resurrected Jesus ask Thomas to put his hand?
[Picture on page 147]
Christ was to return in the same manner that he left the earth. In what manner did he leave?
“The End of the World” Is at Hand!
1. How would Christ’s earthly followers know when he had begun to rule in heaven?
WHEN JESUS CHRIST threw Satan and his angels out of heaven and began his Kingdom rule, it meant that the end of Satan and his wicked system was near. (Revelation 12:7-12) But how could Christ’s followers on earth know that this event in heaven, unseen to their eyes, had taken place? How could they know that Christ was invisibly present in Kingdom power and that “the end of the world” was near? They could know by checking to see if the “sign” that Jesus gave was being fulfilled.
2. What question did Christ’s disciples ask him?
2 Shortly before Jesus’ death, while he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, four of his apostles came to ask him for a “sign.” This is the way their question has been read, in the King James Version, by millions of people: “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3) But what do these expressions, “thy coming” and “the end of the world,” really mean?
3. (a) What do the expressions “thy coming” and “the end of the world” really mean? (b) How, then, is the question asked by Christ’s disciples correctly translated?
3 The Greek word here translated “coming” is parousia, and it means “presence.” So, then, when the “sign” is seen, this means we would know that Christ is present though unseen, that he has already come in Kingdom power. The expression “end of the world” is also very misleading. It does not mean the end of the earth, but, rather, the end of Satan’s system of things. (2 Corinthians 4:4) The apostles’ question therefore accurately reads: “Tell us, When will these things be, and what will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?”—Matthew 24:3, New World Translation.
4. (a) What makes up “the sign” that Jesus gave? (b) In what way can “the sign” be compared to a fingerprint?
4 Jesus did not give just one event as “the sign.” He told of many happenings and situations. Other Bible writers besides Matthew mentioned additional events that would mark the “last days.” All these things that were foretold would take place during the time that Bible writers called the “last days.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5; 2 Peter 3:3, 4) These happenings would be like the different lines that make up a person’s fingerprint, a print that cannot belong to any other person. The “last days” contain their own pattern of marks, or happenings. These form a positive “fingerprint” that cannot belong to any other time period.
5, 6. As you examine 11 evidences of the “last days” on the following pages, what do you understand about “the conclusion of the system of things”?
5 In chapter 16 of this book we considered Bible evidence that Christ returned and began ruling in the midst of his enemies in the year 1914. Now take a careful look at the various features of “the sign” of Christ’s presence and further evidence of the “last days” of Satan’s wicked system of things. As you examine these foretold things on the next few pages, note how they have been undergoing fulfillment since 1914.
“NATION WILL RISE AGAINST NATION AND KINGDOM AGAINST KINGDOM.”—Matthew 24:7.
Surely you have seen this part of the “sign” being fulfilled since 1914! In that year World War I began. Never in history had there been such a terrible war. It was total war. World War I was much greater than all the major wars fought during the 2,400 years before 1914. Yet only 21 years after that war ended, World War II began. And it was four times as destructive as World War I.
Terrible wars continue to be fought. Since World War II ended in 1945, more than 25 million persons have been killed in some 150 wars fought around the globe. On any given day, there have been, on the average, 12 wars going on somewhere in the world. And there is the continual threat of another world war. The United States alone has enough nuclear weapons to destroy every man, woman and child on earth 12 times over!
“THERE WILL BE FOOD SHORTAGES.”—Matthew 24:7.
Following World War I came the greatest famine in all history. In northern China alone 15,000 died every day from starvation. But the shortage of food was even greater after World War II. A fourth of the world was then starving! And ever since, food has remained scarce for many people on earth.
“Every 8.6 seconds someone in an underdeveloped country dies as a result of illness caused by malnutrition,” said the New York Times in 1967. Millions still die of starvation—some 50 million a year! By 1980, about one fourth of the people on earth (1,000,000,000 persons) were hungry because they could not get enough to eat. Even in places where food is plentiful, many are too poor to buy it.
“IN ONE PLACE AFTER ANOTHER PESTILENCES.”—Luke 21:11.
Right after World War I more people died of the Spanish flu than had died of any disease epidemic in the history of mankind. The death toll was some 21 million people! Yet pestilence and disease continue to rage. Millions die each year from heart trouble and cancer. Venereal disease is spreading rapidly. Other terrible diseases, such as malaria, snail fever and river blindness, occur in country after country, especially in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
“THERE WILL BE . . . EARTHQUAKES IN ONE PLACE AFTER ANOTHER.”—Matthew 24:7.
From 1914 until now, there have been many more major earthquakes than in any other like period in recorded history. For over 1,000 years, from the year 856 C.E. to 1914, there were only 24 major earthquakes, causing some 1,973,000 deaths. But in the 63 years from 1915 to 1978, a total of some 1,600,000 persons died in 43 great earthquakes.
“INCREASING OF LAWLESSNESS.”—Matthew 24:12.
From all over the world come reports of increasing lawlessness and crime. Crimes of violence, such as murder, rape and robberies, are now running wild. In the United States alone, a serious crime is committed, on the average, about every second. In many places no one feels safe on the streets, even during the daytime. At night people stay in their homes behind locked and barricaded doors, afraid to go outside.
“MEN BECOME FAINT OUT OF FEAR.”—Luke 21:26.
Fear is probably the biggest single emotion in people’s lives today. Not long after the exploding of the first nuclear bombs, atomic scientist Harold C. Urey said: “We will eat fear, sleep fear, live in fear and die in fear.” For much of humankind this is what is happening. And it is not simply because of the ever-present threat of nuclear warfare. People also fear crime, pollution, disease, inflation and many other things that threaten their security and their very lives.
‘DISOBEDIENCE TO PARENTS.’—2 Timothy 3:2.
Parents today often have little control over their children. Youths rebel against all authority. So every country on earth is affected by the plague of youth crime. More than half of all serious crimes in some countries are committed by children 10 to 17 years of age. Murder, rape, assault, robbery, burglary, car theft—all these things children are doing. Never in history has disobedience to parents been so common.
“LOVERS OF MONEY.”—2 Timothy 3:2.
Wherever you look today you can see acts of greed. Many will do practically anything for money. They will steal or even kill. It is not unusual for greedy persons to produce and sell products that are known, in one way or another, to make others sick or to kill them. Either openly, or by the way they live, people are saying of money: ‘This is my god.’
“LOVERS OF PLEASURES RATHER THAN LOVERS OF GOD.”—2 Timothy 3:4.
Most people today think only of doing what pleases them or their families, not what pleases God. Particularly do many love what God condemns, including fornication, adultery, drunkenness, drug abuse and other so-called pleasures. Even pleasures that, in themselves, can be wholesome are put ahead of any effort to learn about God and serve him.
“HAVING A FORM OF GODLY DEVOTION BUT PROVING FALSE TO ITS POWER.”—2 Timothy 3:5.
World leaders and common people alike often make an outward show of being godly. They may attend church services and make contributions to religious causes. Those in government may put their hand on a Bible when they take office. But often it is simply “a form of godly devotion.” Just as the Bible foretold, the true worship of God is not really a force in most people’s lives today. They are not motivated by a real power for good.
“RUINING THE EARTH.”—Revelation 11:18.
The air we breathe, the water we drink and the land our food is grown on are being polluted. It is so serious that scientist Barry Commoner warned: “I believe that continued pollution of the earth, if unchecked, will eventually destroy the fitness of this planet as a place for human life.”
6 After considering the foregoing, is it not clear that “the sign” Christ gave and the evidences foretold by his disciples are now being fulfilled? Although there are many other proofs, those listed here should be enough to show that we really are living in the time the Bible foretold as the “last days.”
7. (a) What makes the Bible prophecies regarding Christ’s presence and the “last days” so remarkable? (b) In contrast with what the Bible foretold, what were world leaders forecasting just prior to 1914?
7 Yet some persons may say: ‘Such things as wars, famines, pestilences and earthquakes have occurred often throughout history. So it would not be hard to foretell that they would occur again.’ But think: The Bible not only foretold these things, but indicated that they would occur on a worldwide scale. Also, the Bible said that all these things would happen upon the generation that was alive in 1914. Yet what were prominent world leaders foretelling just before 1914? They were saying that conditions promising world peace were never more favorable. Yet the terrible troubles the Bible foretold began right on time, in 1914! In fact, world leaders now say that 1914 was a turning point in history.
8. (a) Which generation did Jesus indicate would see the end of this system of things? (b) So of what can we be certain?
8 After drawing attention to the many things that have marked the period from 1914 onward, Jesus said: “This generation will by no means pass away until all these things [including the end of this system] occur.” (Matthew 24:34, 14) Which generation did Jesus mean? He meant the generation of people who were living in 1914. Those persons yet remaining of that generation are now very old. However, some of them will still be alive to see the end of this wicked system. So of this we can be certain: Shortly now there will be a sudden end to all wickedness and wicked people at Armageddon.
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Jesus told his disciples what would be visible proof of his invisible presence in Kingdom power
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Some of the generation living in 1914 will see the end of the system of things and survive it