YOU know what a sign is, don’t you?— In Chapter 46 we read about the sign God gave that he would never again destroy the world by a flood. Also, the apostles asked for a sign so that they could know when Jesus had returned and when the end of the world, or system of things, was near.
Since Jesus would be invisible in heaven, a sign that people could see was needed to show that he had begun ruling. So Jesus told about things his disciples should watch for here on earth. When these things happened, it would mean that he had returned and had begun ruling in heaven as King.
To teach his disciples the importance of keeping on the watch, Jesus told them: “Note the fig tree and all the other trees: When they are already in the bud, by observing it you know for yourselves that now the summer is near.” You know how to tell when summer is near. And you can tell when Armageddon is near when you see the things happening that Jesus spoke about.
On this page and the following one, we are going to look at pictures of things that Jesus said would be part of the sign that the Kingdom of God is near. When all these things occur, God’s Kingdom with Christ as Ruler will crush all other governments, as we read in Chapter 46.
So look carefully at the pictures on the two pages before this one, and we will talk about them. At Matthew 24:6-14 and Luke 21:9-11, you can read about what you see in these pictures. Also, notice the small number on each picture. The same number is found at the beginning of the paragraph that describes that picture. Now let’s see if the many parts of the sign that Jesus gave are being fulfilled today.
(1) Jesus said: “You are going to hear of wars and reports of wars; . . . nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom.” Have you heard reports about wars?— The first world war was fought from 1914 to 1918, and then there was World War II, from 1939 to 1945. Never before had there been world wars! Now there are wars all over the world. It seems that every day on TV, on the radio, and in the newspaper, we hear or read about wars.
(2) Jesus also said: “There will be food shortages . . . in one place after another.” As you may know, not everyone has enough food to eat. Every day thousands of people die because they do not have enough food.
(3) Jesus added: ‘In one place after another there will be pestilences.’ Do you know what a pestilence is?— It is a sickness, or disease, that kills many people. One great pestilence called the Spanish flu killed about 20 million people within just a year or so. In our day more people than that will probably die from AIDS. And there are cancer, heart disease, and other sicknesses that kill many thousands of people every year.
(4) Jesus gave another part of the sign, saying: “There will be . . . earthquakes in one place after another.” Do you know what an earthquake is?— Earthquakes make the ground shake under your feet. Houses fall down, and people often get killed. Since the year 1914, there have been many earthquakes every year. Have you heard about earthquakes?—
(5) Jesus said that another part of the sign would be ‘more and more badness.’ That is why there is so much stealing and violence. People everywhere are afraid that someone might try to break into their homes. Never before has there been as much crime and violence in all parts of the world as there is now.
(6) Jesus gave a very important part of the sign when he said: “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) If you believe “this good news,” then you should talk about it to others. In that way you can share in fulfilling this part of the sign.
Some people may say that the things Jesus foretold have always happened. But never before have such things all happened in so many parts of the world and at the same time. So do you understand what the sign means?— It means that when we see all these things happening, this wicked world will soon be replaced by God’s new world.
When Jesus gave this sign, he also spoke of a special season of the year. He said: “Keep praying that your flight may not occur in wintertime.” (Matthew 24:20) What do you think he meant by that?—
Well, if a person has to escape some disaster during the winter, when the weather makes it very hard or even dangerous to travel, what could happen?— If he escaped at all, it would be with great difficulty. Wouldn’t it be sad for someone to die in a winter storm just because he was too busy doing other things to start his journey earlier?—
Do you see the point Jesus was making by talking about not waiting until wintertime to flee?— He was telling us that since we know that Armageddon is near, we do not want to delay in taking action to prove we love God by serving him. If we delay, it may be too late for us. So we would be just like those at the time of the great Flood who heard Noah but did not get inside the ark.
Next, let’s talk about what it will be like when the great war of Armageddon is over. We will learn what God has in store for all of us who love and serve him now.