1. Where can we learn about the future?
HAVE you ever watched the news and thought, ‘Can things get any worse?’ There is so much tragedy and cruelty that some people believe we must be close to the end of the world. Is that true? Is there a way to know what will happen in the future? Yes. Although humans cannot predict what will happen, Jehovah God can. He tells us in the Bible about our future and the earth’s future.—Isaiah 46:10; James 4:14.
2, 3. What did Jesus’ disciples want to know, and how did Jesus answer them?
2 When we read in the Bible about the end of the world, it means, not the end of planet Earth, but the end of wickedness. Jesus taught people that the Kingdom of God would rule over the earth. (Luke 4:43) His disciples wanted to know when God’s Kingdom would come, and they asked Jesus: “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) Jesus did not give them the exact date, but he told them what would happen just before the end of this world. What Jesus said would happen is happening right now.
3 In this chapter we will discuss evidence that we are living in the time just before the end of the world. First, we need to learn about a war that took place in heaven so that we can understand why things are so bad here on earth.
A WAR IN HEAVEN
4, 5. (a) What happened in heaven soon after Jesus became King? (b) According to Revelation 12:12, what would happen on earth after Satan was thrown down?
4 In Chapter 8 we learned that Jesus became King in heaven in 1914. (Daniel 7:13, 14) The book of Revelation tells us what happened: “War broke out in heaven: Michael [meaning, Jesus] and his angels battled with the dragon [Satan], and the dragon and its angels battled.” * Satan and his demons lost the war and were thrown down to the earth. Imagine the joy that the angels felt! But what about the people on earth? The Bible says that it would be a time of trouble for mankind. Why? Because the Devil is very angry, “knowing that he has a short period of time.”—Revelation 12:7, 9, 12.
5 The Devil is causing as much trouble as he can on earth. He’s furious because he has a short time left before God removes him. Let us examine what Jesus said would happen during the last days.—See Endnote 24.
THE LAST DAYS
6, 7. What can be said about war and hunger today?
6 War. Jesus said: “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom.” (Matthew 24:7) More people have been killed in wars in our time than at any other time in history. One report from the Worldwatch Institute shows that since 1914, wars have killed more than 100 million people. More than three times as many people were killed in wars during the 100 years between 1900 and 2000 as were killed during the previous 1,900 years. Just imagine the misery and pain that millions of people have felt because of war!
7 Hunger. Jesus said: “There will be food shortages.” (Matthew 24:7) Even though more food is produced now than ever before, many people never have enough to eat. Why? Because they don’t have enough money to buy food or land on which to grow it. More than a billion people have less than one dollar a day to live on. The World Health Organization says that millions of children die each year, mainly because they don’t have enough food to keep them healthy.
8, 9. What shows that Jesus’ prophecies about earthquakes and disease have come true?
8 Earthquakes. Jesus prophesied: “There will be great earthquakes.” (Luke 21:11) Many powerful earthquakes are now expected every year. Since the year 1900, over two million people have died because of earthquakes. And although technology has helped to detect earthquakes earlier than before, many people still die.
9 Disease. Jesus foretold that there would be “pestilences.” Dangerous diseases would spread quickly and kill many. (Luke 21:11) Even though doctors have learned how to treat many sicknesses, there are still sicknesses that cannot be cured. In fact, one report explains that each year, millions of people die from diseases, such as tuberculosis, malaria, and cholera. Not only that, but doctors have found 30 new diseases, and some of them have no cure.
WHAT PEOPLE WOULD BE LIKE IN THE LAST DAYS
10. How is 2 Timothy 3:1-5 coming true today?
10 At 2 Timothy 3:1-5, the Bible says: “In the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here.” The apostle Paul described how many people would behave during the last days. He said people would
disobey their parents
not be loyal
lack affection for their family
have no self-control
be violent and aggressive
love pleasures more than God
pretend to love God but refuse to obey him
11. According to Psalm 92:7, what will happen to wicked people?
11 Do many people behave like this where you live? All over the world, many do. But God will soon do something about it. He promises: “When the wicked sprout like weeds and all the wrongdoers flourish, it is that they may be annihilated [or, destroyed] forever.”—Psalm 92:7.
GOOD NEWS IN THE LAST DAYS
12, 13. What has Jehovah taught us during the last days?
12 The Bible foretold that during the last days, the world would be full of pain and suffering. But the Bible also says that good things will happen.
13 Understanding the Bible. The prophet Daniel wrote about the last days. He said: “The true knowledge will become abundant.” (Daniel 12:4) God would give his people the ability to understand the Bible more clearly than ever before. Jehovah has done this especially since 1914. For example, he has taught us the importance of his name and his purpose for the earth as well as the truth about the ransom, what happens when we die, and the resurrection. We have learned that only God’s Kingdom can solve all our problems. We have also learned how to be happy and how to live in a way that pleases God. But what do God’s servants do with what they’ve learned? Another prophecy gives us the answer.—See Endnotes 21 and 25.
14. Where is the good news of the Kingdom being preached, and who are preaching it?
14 The global preaching work. Speaking about the last days, Jesus said: “This good news of the Kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth.” (Matthew 24:3, 14) The good news of the Kingdom is being preached in over 230 lands and in more than 700 languages. Yes, all over the earth, Jehovah’s Witnesses from “all nations and tribes” are helping people to understand what the Kingdom is and what it will do for mankind. (Revelation 7:9) And they do this free of charge. Although they are hated and persecuted by many, nothing can stop the preaching work, just as Jesus prophesied.—Luke 21:17.
WHAT WILL YOU DO?
15. (a) Do you believe that we are living in the last days, and why? (b) What will happen to those who obey Jehovah and to those who don’t?
15 Do you believe that we are living in the last days? Many Bible prophecies about the last days are coming true. Soon Jehovah will decide to stop the preaching of the good news and “the end” will come. (Matthew 24:14) What is the end? It is Armageddon, when God will remove all wickedness. Jehovah will use Jesus and his powerful angels to destroy anyone who refuses to obey Him and his Son. (2 Thessalonians 1:6-9) After that, Satan and his demons will not mislead people. And all those who want to obey God and accept his Kingdom will see every promise of God come true.—Revelation 20:1-3; 21:3-5.
16. Since the end is so close, what do you need to do?
16 This world ruled by Satan will soon come to its end. So it is very important that we ask ourselves, ‘What do I need to do?’ Jehovah wants you to learn as much as you can from the Bible. You need to take your study seriously. (John 17:3) Jehovah’s Witnesses have meetings every week to help people understand the Bible. Try to attend those meetings regularly. (Read Hebrews 10:24, 25.) If you learn that you need to make changes, don’t be afraid to make them. As you make them, your friendship with Jehovah will become stronger.—James 4:8.
17. Why will most people be surprised when the end comes?
17 The apostle Paul explained that the destruction of the wicked will come when most people don’t expect it, “as a thief in the night.” (1 Thessalonians 5:2) Jesus prophesied that many would choose to ignore the evidence that we’re living in the last days. He said: “Just as the days of Noah were, so the presence of the Son of man [or, the last days] 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 24:37-39.
18. What warning did Jesus give us?
18 Jesus warned that we should not become distracted “with overeating and heavy drinking and anxieties of life.” He said that the end will come suddenly, “as a snare.” He also said that it “will come upon all those dwelling on the face of the whole earth.” Then he added: “Keep awake, then, all the time making supplication [or, praying very sincerely] that you may succeed in escaping all these things that must occur and in standing before the Son of man.” (Luke 21:34-36) Why is it so important to listen to Jesus’ warning? Because very soon Satan’s wicked world will be destroyed. Only those who are approved by Jehovah and Jesus will survive the end and live forever in the new world.—John 3:16; 2 Peter 3:13.
WHAT CAN THE BIBLE TEACH US?