Saved From a “Wicked Generation”
“O faithless and twisted generation, how long must I continue with you and put up with you?”—LUKE 9:41.
1. (a) What do our calamitous times portend? (b) What do the Scriptures say about survivors?
WE LIVE in calamitous times. Earthquakes, floods, famines, disease, lawlessness, bombings, horrendous warfare—these and more have engulfed mankind during our 20th century. However, the greatest calamity of all threatens in the near future. What is that? It is “great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.” (Matthew 24:21) Yet, many of us may look forward to a joyful future! Why? Because God’s own Word describes “a great crowd, which no man was able to number, out of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues . . . ‘These are the ones that come out of the great tribulation . . . They will hunger no more nor thirst anymore . . . And God will wipe out every tear from their eyes.’”—Revelation 7:1, 9, 14-17.
2 The inspired record at Matthew 24:3-22, Mark 13:3-20, and Luke 21:7-24 introduces Jesus’ prophetic description of “the conclusion of the system of things.”* This prophecy had an initial fulfillment on the corrupt Jewish system of things of the first century of our Common Era, culminating in an unprecedented “great tribulation” on the Jews. The entire religious and political structure of the Jewish system, centered at Jerusalem’s temple, was thrown down, never to be restored.
3. Why is it urgent that we heed Jesus’ prophecy today?
3 Let us now consider the circumstances that surrounded the first fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy. This will help us better to understand the parallel fulfillment today. It will show us how urgent it is to take positive action now in order to survive the greatest of tribulations that threatens all mankind.—Romans 10:9-13; 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11; 15:58.
4, 5. (a) Why were God-fearing Jews of the first century C.E. interested in the prophecy of Daniel 9:24-27? (b) How was this prophecy fulfilled?
4 About the year 539 B.C.E., God’s prophet Daniel was given a vision of events that would occur during the final “week” of a period of “seventy weeks” of years. (Daniel 9:24-27) These “weeks” began in 455 B.C.E. when King Artaxerxes of Persia ordered the rebuilding of the city of Jerusalem. The final “week” started with the appearance of Messiah, Jesus Christ, at his baptism and anointing in 29 C.E.* God-fearing Jews of the first century C.E. were well aware of this time feature of Daniel’s prophecy. For example, concerning the crowds that flocked to hear the preaching of John the Baptizer in 29 C.E., Luke 3:15 states: “The people were in expectation and all were reasoning in their hearts about John: ‘May he perhaps be the Christ?’”
5 The 70th “week” was to be seven years of special favor extended to the Jews. Starting in 29 C.E., it included Jesus’ baptism and ministry, his sacrificial death “at the half of the week” in 33 C.E., and another ‘half week’ until 36 C.E. During this “week,” the opportunity to become Jesus’ anointed disciples was extended exclusively to God-fearing Jews and Jewish proselytes. Then in 70 C.E., a date not known in advance, the Roman legions under Titus exterminated the apostate Jewish system.—Daniel 9:26, 27.
6. How did “the disgusting thing” move into action in 66 C.E., and how did the Christians respond?
6 Thus the Jewish priesthood, which had defiled Jerusalem’s temple and conspired in the murder of God’s own Son, was wiped out. Gone, too, were the national and tribal records. Thereafter, no Jew could legally claim a priestly or a kingly inheritance. Happily, though, anointed spiritual Jews had been separated as a royal priesthood to “declare abroad the excellencies” of Jehovah God. (1 Peter 2:9) When Rome’s army first besieged Jerusalem and even undermined the temple area in 66 C.E., Christians recognized that military force as “the disgusting thing that causes desolation, as spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in a holy place.” In obedience to Jesus’ prophetic command, the Christians in Jerusalem and Judea fled to the mountainous regions for protection.—Matthew 24:15, 16; Luke 21:20, 21.
7, 8. What “sign” did the Christians observe, but what did they not know?
7 Those faithful Jewish Christians observed the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy and were eyewitnesses of the tragic wars, famines, pestilences, earthquakes, and lawlessness that Jesus had foretold as part of the “sign . . . of the conclusion of the system of things.” (Matthew 24:3) But had Jesus told them when Jehovah would actually execute judgment on that corrupt system? No. What he prophesied about the climax of his future royal presence surely applied also to the first-century “great tribulation”: “Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father.”—Matthew 24:36.
8 From Daniel’s prophecy, the Jews could have calculated the timing of Jesus’ appearing as the Messiah. (Daniel 9:25) Yet they were given no date for the “great tribulation” that finally desolated the apostate Jewish system of things. It was only after the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple that they realized that the date was 70 C.E. However, they had been aware of Jesus’ prophetic words: “This generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.” (Matthew 24:34) Apparently, the application of “generation” here is different from that at Ecclesiastes 1:4, which speaks of successive generations coming and going over a period of time.
“This Generation”—What Is It?
9. How do lexicons define the Greek word ge·ne·aʹ?
9 When four apostles seated with Jesus on the Mount of Olives heard his prophecy about “the conclusion of the system of things,” how would they understand the expression “this generation”? In the Gospels the word “generation” is translated from the Greek word ge·ne·aʹ, which current lexicons define in these terms: “Lit[erally] those descended fr[om] a common ancestor.” (Walter Bauer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament) “That which has been begotten, a family; . . . successive members of a genealogy . . . or of a race of people . . . or of the whole multitude of men living at the same time, Matt. 24:34; Mark 13:30; Luke 1:48; 21:32; Phil. 2:15, and especially of those of the Jewish race living at the same period.” (W. E. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words) “That which has been begotten, men of the same stock, a family; . . . the whole multitude of men living at the same time: Mt. xxiv. 34; Mk. Mr xiii. 30; Lk. Lu i. 48 . . . used esp[ecially] of the Jewish race living at one and the same period.”—J. H. Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament.
10. (a) What identical definition do two authorities give in citing Matthew 24:34? (b) How do a theological dictionary and some Bible translations support this definition?
10 Thus Vine and Thayer both cite Matthew 24:34 in defining “this generation” (he ge·ne·aʹ hauʹte) as “the whole multitude of men living at the same time.” The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (1964) gives support to this definition, stating: “The use of ‘generation’ by Jesus expresses his comprehensive purpose: he aims at the whole people and is conscious of their solidarity in sin.” Truly a “solidarity in sin” was apparent in the Jewish nation when Jesus was on earth, just as it marks the world system today.*
11. (a) What authority should primarily guide us in determining how to apply he ge·ne·aʹ hauʹte? (b) How did this authority use the term?
11 Of course, Christians studying this matter guide their thinking primarily by how the inspired Gospel writers used the Greek expression he ge·ne·aʹ hauʹte, or “this generation,” in reporting Jesus’ words. The expression was consistently used in a negative way. Thus, Jesus called the Jewish religious leaders “serpents, offspring of vipers” and went on to say that the judgment of Gehenna would be executed on “this generation.” (Matthew 23:33, 36) However, was this judgment limited to the hypocritical clergy? Not at all. On a number of occasions, Jesus’ disciples heard him speak of “this generation,” applying the term uniformly in a far wider sense. What was that?
“This Wicked Generation”
12. As his disciples listened, how did Jesus link “the crowds” with “this generation”?
12 In 31 C.E., during Jesus’ great Galilean ministry and shortly after the Passover, his disciples heard him say to “the crowds”: “With whom shall I compare this generation? It is like young children sitting in the marketplaces who cry out to their playmates, saying, ‘We played the flute for you, but you did not dance; we wailed, but you did not beat yourselves in grief.’ Correspondingly, John [the Baptizer] came neither eating nor drinking, yet people say, ‘He has a demon’; the Son of man [Jesus] did come eating and drinking, still people say, ‘Look! A man gluttonous and given to drinking wine, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’” There was no pleasing those unprincipled “crowds”!—Matthew 11:7, 16-19.
13. In the presence of his disciples, whom did Jesus identify and condemn as “this wicked generation”?
13 Later in 31 C.E., as Jesus and his disciples set out on their second preaching tour of Galilee, “some of the scribes and Pharisees” asked Jesus for a sign. He told them and “the crowds” who were present: “A wicked and adulterous generation keeps on seeking for a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah the prophet. For just as Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish three days and three nights, so the Son of man will be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights. . . . That is how it will be also with this wicked generation.” (Matthew 12:38-46) Obviously, “this wicked generation” included both the religious leaders and “the crowds” who never came to appreciate the sign that was fulfilled in Jesus’ death and resurrection.*
14. Jesus’ disciples heard him make what condemnation of the Sadducees and the Pharisees?
14 After the Passover of 32 C.E., as Jesus and his disciples came into the Galilean region of Magadan, the Sadducees and the Pharisees again asked Jesus for a sign. He repeated to them: “A wicked and adulterous generation keeps on seeking for a sign, but no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” (Matthew 16:1-4) Those religious hypocrites were indeed most reprehensible as leaders among the unfaithful “crowds” whom Jesus condemned as “this wicked generation.”
15. Just before and again right after the transfiguration, Jesus and his disciples had what encounter with ‘this generation’?
15 Toward the end of his Galilean ministry, Jesus called the crowd and his disciples to him and said: “Whoever becomes ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of man will also be ashamed of him.” (Mark 8:34, 38) So the masses of unrepentant Jews of that time obviously made up “this adulterous and sinful generation.” Some days later, after Jesus’ transfiguration, Jesus and his disciples “came toward the crowd,” and a man asked him to heal his son. Jesus commented: “O faithless and twisted generation, how long must I continue with you? How long must I put up with you?”—Matthew 17:14-17; Luke 9:37-41.
16. (a) What condemnation of “the crowds” did Jesus repeat in Judea? (b) How did “this generation” come to commit the most wicked of all crimes?
16 It was likely in Judea, after the Festival of Booths in 32 C.E., “when the crowds were massing together” around Jesus, that he repeated his condemnation of them, saying: “This generation is a wicked generation; it looks for a sign. But no sign will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” (Luke 11:29) Finally, when the religious leaders brought Jesus to trial, Pilate offered to release him. The record says: “The chief priests and the older men persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas, but to have Jesus destroyed. . . . Pilate said to them: ‘What, then, shall I do with Jesus the so-called Christ?’ They all said: ‘Let him be impaled!’ He said: ‘Why, what bad thing did he do?’ Still they kept crying out all the more: ‘Let him be impaled!’” That “wicked generation” was demanding Jesus’ blood!—Matthew 27:20-25.
17. How did some of “this crooked generation” respond to Peter’s preaching at Pentecost?
17 A “faithless and twisted generation,” egged on by its religious leaders, thus played a key part in bringing about the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. Fifty days later, at Pentecost in 33 C.E., the disciples received holy spirit and started to speak in different tongues. Upon hearing the sound, “the multitude came together,” and the apostle Peter addressed them as “men of Judea and all you inhabitants of Jerusalem,” saying: “This man [Jesus] . . . you fastened to a stake by the hand of lawless men and did away with.” How did some of those listeners react? “They were stabbed to the heart.” Peter then called on them to repent. He “bore thorough witness and kept exhorting them, saying: ‘Get saved from this crooked generation.’” In response, about three thousand “embraced his word heartily [and] were baptized.”—Acts 2:6, 14, 23, 37, 40, 41.
“This Generation” Identified
18. Jesus’ use of the term “this generation” consistently refers to what?
18 What, then, is the “generation” so frequently referred to by Jesus in the presence of his disciples? What did they understand by his words: “This generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur”? Surely, Jesus was not departing from his established use of the term “this generation,” which he consistently applied to the contemporary masses with their “blind guides” who together made up the Jewish nation. (Matthew 15:14) “This generation” experienced all the distress foretold by Jesus and then passed away in an unequaled “great tribulation” on Jerusalem.—Matthew 24:21, 34.
19. When and how did the “heaven and earth” of the Jewish system pass away?
19 In the first century, Jehovah was judging the Jewish people. Repentant ones, who came to exercise faith in Jehovah’s merciful provision through Christ, were saved out of that “great tribulation.” True to Jesus’ words, all things prophesied occurred, and then the “heaven and earth” of the Jewish system of things—the entire nation, with its religious leaders and wicked society of people—passed away. Jehovah had executed judgment!—Matthew 24:35; compare 2 Peter 3:7.
20. What timely admonition applies with urgency to all Christians?
20 Those Jews who had paid attention to Jesus’ prophetic words realized that their salvation depended, not on trying to calculate the length of a “generation” or of some dated “times or seasons,” but on keeping separate from the evil contemporary generation and zealously doing God’s will. Though the final words of Jesus’ prophecy apply to the major fulfillment in our day, first-century Jewish Christians also had to heed the admonition: “Keep awake, then, all the time making supplication that you may succeed in escaping all these things that are destined to occur, and in standing before the Son of man.”—Luke 21:32-36; Acts 1:6-8.
21. What sudden development may we expect in the near future?
21 Today, “the great day of Jehovah . . . is near, and there is a hurrying of it very much.” (Zephaniah 1:14-18; Isaiah 13:9, 13) Suddenly, at Jehovah’s own predetermined “day and hour,” his fury will be unleashed upon the world’s religious, political, and commercial elements, together with the wayward people who make up this contemporary “wicked and adulterous generation.” (Matthew 12:39; 24:36; Revelation 7:1-3, 9, 14) How may you get saved out of “the great tribulation”? Our next article will answer and tell of the grand hope for the future.
For a detailed outline of this prophecy, please see the chart on pages 14, 15 of The Watchtower of February 15, 1994.
For further information on the “weeks” of years, see pages 130-2 of the book The Bible—God’s Word or Man’s?, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
Certain Bibles render he ge·ne·aʹ hauʹte at Matthew 24:34 as follows: “these people” (The Holy Bible in the Language of Today , by W. F. Beck); “this nation” (The New Testament—An Expanded Translation , by K. S. Wuest); “this people” (Jewish New Testament , by D. H. Stern).
A Time to Keep Awake
1. Why should we endure and take courage?
ENDURE we must—amid a faithless and twisted generation! Since 1914 a generation of people has become corrupt, just as in Jesus’ day. And today the corruption is on a worldwide scale. In these “last days,” the “critical times hard to deal with” described by the apostle Paul are afflicting mankind. ‘Wicked men and impostors continue to advance from bad to worse.’ Clearly, “the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one,” Satan the Devil, who is now making his final effort to ruin the earth. But take courage! There is an oncoming “great tribulation” that will bring permanent relief to all who love righteousness.—2 Timothy 3:1-5, 13; 1 John 5:19; Revelation 7:14.
2. How was prophecy fulfilled in 1914?
2 Happily, Jehovah has now enthroned the Lord Jesus Christ in the heavens, preparatory to removing mankind’s oppressive enemies. (Revelation 11:15) As at Messiah’s first advent, so in this century a remarkable prophecy penned by Daniel has been fulfilled. At Daniel 4:16, 17, 32, we are told of the suspending of rightful kingship over the earth for a period of “seven times.” In their major fulfillment, these seven times amount to seven Biblical years of 360 ‘days’ each, or 2,520 years in all.* They ran from 607 B.C.E., when Babylon began trampling underfoot the kingdom of Israel, to 1914 C.E., the year of Jesus’ enthronement in heaven as mankind’s rightful King. Then “the appointed times of the nations” ended. (Luke 21:24) But the nations have declined to yield to the incoming Messianic Kingdom.—Psalm 2:1-6, 10-12; 110:1, 2.
3, 4. (a) What comparison may be made of first-century events to those in our time? (b) What pertinent questions may be asked?
3 As the 70th week of years (29-36 C.E.) approached, and again as the year 1914 drew near, God-fearing people were expecting Messiah’s arrival. And arrive he did! In each case, though, the manner of his appearing differed from the expectation. In each case too, after a comparatively brief time period, an evil “generation” finally suffers execution by divine decree.—Matthew 24:34.
4 In our preceding article, we noted how the wicked Jewish generation that called for the blood of Jesus met its end. What, then, of the ruinous generation of mankind that even now opposes or ignores him? When will judgment on this faithless generation be executed?
“Keep on the Watch”!
5. (a) For what good reason do we not need to know the time of Jehovah’s “day and hour”? (b) According to Mark, with what sound counsel did Jesus conclude his prophecy?
5 After prophesying events leading up to a time of “great tribulation,” Jesus added: “Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matthew 24:3-36; Mark 13:3-32) We do not need to know the exact timing of events. Rather, our focus must be on being watchful, cultivating strong faith, and keeping busy in Jehovah’s service—not on calculating a date. Jesus concluded his great prophecy by saying: “Keep looking, keep awake, for you do not know when the appointed time is. . . . Keep on the watch . . . What I say to you I say to all, Keep on the watch.” (Mark 13:33-37) Danger lurks in the shadows of today’s world. We must keep awake!—Romans 13:11-13.
6. (a) On what should our faith be anchored? (b) How may we “count our days”? (c) What does Jesus basically mean by “generation”?
6 Not only must we pay attention to the inspired prophecies concerning these final days of a wicked system but we must anchor our faith primarily on the precious sacrifice of Christ Jesus and God’s marvelous promises based thereon. (Hebrews 6:17-19; 9:14; 1 Peter 1:18, 19; 2 Peter 1:16-19) Eager to see the end of this evil system, Jehovah’s people have at times speculated about the time when the “great tribulation” would break out, even tying this to calculations of what is the lifetime of a generation since 1914. However, we “bring a heart of wisdom in,” not by speculating about how many years or days make up a generation, but by thinking about how we “count our days” in bringing joyful praise to Jehovah. (Psalm 90:12) Rather than provide a rule for measuring time, the term “generation” as used by Jesus refers principally to contemporary people of a certain historical period, with their identifying characteristics.*
7. What does a history professor write about “the generation of 1914,” and how does this tie in with Jesus’ prophecy?
7 In line with the above, professor of history Robert Wohl wrote in his book The Generation of 1914: “A historical generation is not defined by its chronological limits . . . It is not a zone of dates.” But he pointed out that World War I created “an overwhelming sense of rupture with the past,” and he added: “Those who lived through the war could never rid themselves of the belief that one world had ended and another begun in August 1914.” How true that is! It focuses on the crux of the matter. “This generation” of mankind since 1914 has experienced appalling changes. It has seen the earth drenched with the blood of millions. Warfare, genocide, terrorism, crime, and lawlessness have erupted worldwide. Famine, disease, and immorality have stalked our globe. Jesus prophesied: “You also, when you [his disciples] see these things occurring, know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I say to you, This generation will by no means pass away until all things occur.”—Luke 21:31, 32.
8. How do Jehovah’s prophets stress the need to keep awake?
8 Yes, the complete triumph of the Messianic Kingdom is at hand! Is anything to be gained, then, by looking for dates or by speculating about the literal lifetime of a “generation”? Far from it! Habakkuk 2:3 clearly states: “The vision is yet for the appointed time, and it keeps panting on to the end, and it will not tell a lie. Even if it should delay, keep in expectation of it; for it will without fail come true. It will not be late.” Jehovah’s day of accounting hastens ever closer.—Jeremiah 25:31-33; Malachi 4:1.
9. What developments since 1914 show that the time is short?
9 When Christ’s Kingdom rule began in 1914, Satan was hurled down to earth. This has meant “woe for the earth . . . because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time.” (Revelation 12:12) That time is short, indeed, compared with the thousands of years of Satan’s rulership. The Kingdom is at hand, and so is Jehovah’s day and hour for executing judgment on this wicked generation!—Proverbs 3:25; 10:24, 25.
The “Generation” That Passes Away
10. How is “this generation” like that of Noah’s day?
10 Let us examine more closely Jesus’ statement at Matthew 24:34, 35: “Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away.” Jesus’ words that follow show that ‘nobody knows that day and hour.’ Far more important, he shows that we must avoid the snares surrounding us in this generation. Thus Jesus adds: “For just as the days of Noah were, so the presence of the Son of man will be. For as they were in those days before the flood, eating and drinking, men marrying and women being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark; and they took no note until the flood came and swept them all away, so the presence of the Son of man will be.” (Matthew 24:36-39) Jesus here compared the generation of his day to that of Noah’s day.—Genesis 6:5, 9; footnote.
11. What comparison of ‘generations’ did Jesus make, as reported by Matthew and Luke?
11 This was not the first time that the apostles heard Jesus make this comparison of ‘generations,’ for some days earlier he had stated concerning himself: “The Son of man . . . must undergo many sufferings and be rejected by this generation. Moreover, just as it occurred in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of man.” (Luke 17:24-26) Thus, Matthew chapter 24 and Luke chapter 17 make the same comparison. In Noah’s day “all flesh [that] had ruined its way on the earth” and that was destroyed at the Flood was “this generation.” In Jesus’ day the apostate Jewish people that were rejecting Jesus was “this generation.”—Genesis 6:11, 12; 7:1.
12, 13. (a) What today is “this generation” that must pass away? (b) How are Jehovah’s people now coping with this “crooked and twisted generation”?
12 Therefore, in the final fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy today, “this generation” apparently refers to the peoples of earth who see the sign of Christ’s presence but fail to mend their ways. In contrast, we as Jesus’ disciples refuse to be molded by the life-style of “this generation.” Though in the world, we must be no part of it, “for the appointed time is near.” (Revelation 1:3; John 17:16) The apostle Paul admonishes us: “Keep doing all things free from murmurings and arguments, that you may come to be blameless and innocent, children of God without a blemish in among a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you are shining as illuminators in the world.” —Philippians 2:14, 15; Colossians 3:5-10; 1 John 2:15-17.
13 Our “shining as illuminators” includes not only displaying a clean Christian personality but, above all, fulfilling Jesus’ prophetic commission: “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) No human can say when that end will be, but we know that the end of “this generation” of wicked people will come once the witness has been given to God’s satisfaction “to the most distant part of the earth.”—Acts 1:8.
“That Day and Hour”
14. What admonition did both Jesus and Paul give as to “the times and the seasons,” and how should we react?
14 When the global witness has been accomplished to the extent Jehovah purposes, it will be his “day and hour” to dispose of this world’s system. We do not need to know the date in advance. Thus, following Jesus’ example, the apostle Paul admonished: “Now as for the times and the seasons, brothers, you need nothing to be written to you. For you yourselves know quite well that Jehovah’s day is coming exactly as a thief in the night. Whenever it is that they are saying: ‘Peace and security!’ then sudden destruction is to be instantly upon them just as the pang of distress upon a pregnant woman; and they will by no means escape.” Note Paul’s focus: ‘It is when they are saying.’ Yes, when there is talk of “peace and security,” when it is least expected, God’s judgment will suddenly be executed. How appropriate is Paul’s advice: “So, then, let us not sleep on as the rest do, but let us stay awake and keep our senses”!—1 Thessalonians 5:1-3, 6; see also 1Th 5 verses 7-11; Acts 1:7.
15, 16. (a) Why should we not think that Armageddon is further away than we may have believed? (b) How must Jehovah’s sovereignty be magnified in the near future?
15 Does our more precise viewpoint on “this generation” mean that Armageddon is further away than we had thought? Not at all! Though we at no time have known the “day and hour,” Jehovah God has always known it, and he does not change. (Malachi 3:6) Obviously, the world is sinking further and further toward terminal ruination. The need to keep awake is more critical than it has ever been. Jehovah has revealed to us “the things that must shortly take place,” and we should respond with an absorbing sense of urgency.—Revelation 1:1; 11:18; 16:14, 16.
16 As the time approaches, keep awake, for Jehovah is about to bring calamity on all of Satan’s system! (Jeremiah 25:29-31) Jehovah says: “I shall certainly magnify myself and sanctify myself and make myself known before the eyes of many nations; and they will have to know that I am Jehovah.” (Ezekiel 38:23) That decisive “day of Jehovah” draws near!—Joel 1:15; 2:1, 2; Amos 5:18-20; Zephaniah 2:2, 3.
Righteous “New Heavens and a New Earth”
17, 18. (a) According to Jesus and Peter, how does “this generation” pass away? (b) Why should we keep on the watch as to conduct and deeds of godly devotion?
17 Concerning ‘all these things that must occur’ Jesus said: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away.” (Matthew 24:34, 35) Jesus likely had in mind the “heaven and earth”—the rulers and the ruled—of “this generation.” The apostle Peter used similar words in referring to “the heavens and the earth that are now,” which are “stored up for fire and are being reserved to the day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men.” He next describes how “Jehovah’s day will come as a thief, in which the [governmental] heavens will pass away” together with a corrupt human society, or “earth,” and its sinful works. The apostle then exhorts us to “holy acts of conduct and deeds of godly devotion, [as we are] awaiting and keeping close in mind the presence of the day of Jehovah, through which the heavens being on fire will be dissolved and the elements being intensely hot will melt!” What follows? Peter turns our attention to ‘new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness is to dwell.’—2 Peter 3:7, 10-13.*
18 Those “new heavens,” the Kingdom rule by Christ Jesus and his associate kings, will shower blessings on the righteous “new earth” society of mankind. Are you a prospective member of that society? If so, you have reason to exult over the grand future in store!—Isaiah 65:17-19; Revelation 21:1-5.
19. What great privilege may we now enjoy?
19 Yes, a righteous “generation” of mankind is even now being gathered. Today the anointed “faithful and discreet slave” is providing divine education in line with the words of Psalm 78:1, 4: “Do give ear, O my people, to my law; incline your ear to the sayings of my mouth . . . , relating them even to the generation to come, the praises of Jehovah and his strength and his wonderful things that he has done.” (Matthew 24:45-47) On April 14 of this year, in more than 75,500 congregations and in some 230 lands, over 12,000,000 persons around the earth attended the Memorial of Christ’s death. Were you among them? May you rest your faith on Christ Jesus and ‘call on the name of Jehovah for salvation.’—Romans 10:10-13.
20. Since “the time left is reduced,” how must we keep awake, and with what prospect in view?
20 “The time left is reduced,” said the apostle Paul. It is time, therefore, to keep ever awake and busy in Jehovah’s work, as we endure trials and hatreds imposed by a wicked generation of mankind. (1 Corinthians 7:29; Matthew 10:22; 24:13, 14) Let us keep on the watch, observing all the things foretold in the Bible to come upon “this generation.” (Luke 21:31-33) By escaping these things and by standing with divine approval before the Son of man, we may at last attain to the prize of everlasting life.
See Volume 1, page 918, of Insight on the Scriptures, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
See also pages 152-6 and 180-1 of Our Incoming World Government—God’s Kingdom, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.