“You are not in darkness, so that that day should overtake you as it would thieves.”—1 THESSALONIANS 5:4.
1. What will help us to keep on the watch and to endure trials?
SHOCKING things will soon happen on earth. We can believe this because Bible prophecies prove this to be true. So we need to keep on the watch. What will help us to do that? The apostle Paul encourages us to “keep our eyes, not on the things seen, but on the things unseen.” We need to remember that Jehovah will give us everlasting life, whether in heaven or on earth. Paul wrote these words to encourage Christians at his time to focus on the reward they would get for being faithful to God. Doing this would also help them to endure trials and persecution.—2 Corinthians 4:8, 9, 16-18; 5:7.
2. (a) What must we do to keep our hope strong? (b) What will we discuss in this article and in the next article?
2 Paul’s counsel teaches us an important lesson: If we want to keep our hope strong, we must pay attention to more than just what we can see. We also need to focus on important events that we cannot see now. (Hebrews 11:1; 12:1, 2) We will discuss ten future events that have to do with our hope of everlasting life. *—See footnote.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN JUST BEFORE THE END?
3. (a) What future event is described at 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 3? (b) What will political leaders do? Who might do the same?
3 Paul wrote about one of these future events in his letter to the Thessalonians. (Read 1 Thessalonians 5:2, 3.) In his letter, Paul mentioned “Jehovah’s day.” This period of time will start with the destruction of false religion and will end in the war of Armageddon. Just before the day of Jehovah begins, world leaders will be saying “Peace and security!” This could be one event or even several events that happen one after the other. Nations may think that they are close to solving some of their big problems. What will the religious leaders do? They are part of the world. So it is possible that they will say “Peace and security!” along with the political leaders. (Revelation 17:1, 2) By doing this, the religious leaders would be acting the same way as the false prophets of ancient Judah did, who were saying: “There is peace! There is peace!” But Jehovah said there was no peace.—Jeremiah 6:14; 23:16, 17.
4. What do we understand that most people do not?
4 No matter who says “Peace and security!” it will mean that Jehovah’s day will begin. That is why Paul could say: “Brothers, you are not in darkness, so that that day should overtake you as it would thieves, for you are all sons of light.” (1 Thessalonians 5:4, 5) We understand what the Bible says about the events that are happening today, although most people do not. How will this prophecy about saying “Peace and security!” be fulfilled? We must wait and see. So let us be determined to “stay awake and keep our senses.”—1 Thessalonians 5:6; Zephaniah 3:8.
FALSE RELIGION DOES NOT KNOW THAT IT WILL BE DESTROYED
5. (a) How will the “great tribulation” begin? (b) Who is like “a queen” who thinks that nothing bad will happen to her?
5 What will happen next? Paul said: “Whenever it is that they are saying: ‘Peace and security!’ then sudden destruction is to be instantly upon them.” The destruction begins with the attack against all false religion in the world. The Bible calls false religion “Babylon the Great,” or “the harlot.” (Revelation 17:5, 6, 15) That attack against all false religion, including Christendom, is the beginning of the “great tribulation.” (Matthew 24:21; 2 Thessalonians 2:8) Many people will be surprised when this happens. Why? Because until that time, the harlot will think that she is “a queen” who will “never see mourning.” She thinks that nothing bad will happen to her. But she will suddenly find out that she has made a mistake. She will be destroyed very quickly, as if “in one day.”—Revelation 18:7, 8.
6. Who will destroy false religion?
6 The Bible says that a “wild beast” with “ten horns” will attack the harlot. When we study the book of Revelation, we learn that this wild beast means the United Nations (UN). “The ten horns” mean all the governments that now support this “scarlet-colored wild beast.” * (See footnote.) (Revelation 17:3, 5, 11, 12) How destructive will this attack be? The nations that belong to the UN will take away all the harlot’s wealth, reveal how bad and immoral she really is, devour her, and “completely burn her.” So false religion will be destroyed forever.—Read Revelation 17:16.
7. How will the attack by the “wild beast” begin?
7 Bible prophecy also shows how this attack will begin. In some way Jehovah will cause the political leaders “to carry out his thought,” or to do what he wants them to do, which is to destroy the harlot. (Revelation 17:17) Religion spreads war and continues to cause many problems in the world. So the nations may think that it will benefit them if they destroy the harlot. In fact, when the rulers attack the harlot, they will think that they are doing what they want to do. But God will be using them to destroy all false religion. So one part of Satan’s system will attack another part of his system, and Satan will not be able to do anything to stop it.—Matthew 12:25, 26.
The attack against all false religion, including Christendom, is the beginning of the great tribulation
AN ATTACK ON GOD’S PEOPLE
8. What is the attack by “Gog of the land of Magog”?
8 After false religion is destroyed, God’s servants will still be “dwelling in security” and “without wall.” (Ezekiel 38:11, 14) What will happen to this group of people who worship Jehovah and who look as if they have no protection? It seems that they will be attacked by “many peoples.” God’s Word describes this situation as the attack by “Gog of the land of Magog.” (Read Ezekiel 38:2, 15, 16.) How should we feel about this attack?
9. (a) What is most important to a Christian? (b) What should we do now to strengthen our faith?
9 We know that God’s people will be attacked, but this does not make us too anxious. The sanctification of Jehovah’s name and the vindication of his sovereignty are more important to us than whether we will be saved. Jehovah said more than 60 times: “You will have to know that I am Jehovah.” (Ezekiel 6:7; see footnote.) We are very interested to see how that important part of Ezekiel’s prophecy will be fulfilled. And we trust that “Jehovah knows how to deliver people of godly devotion out of trial.” (2 Peter 2:9) At the same time, we want to do all we can to strengthen our faith so that we will be able to keep our integrity to Jehovah no matter what we may have to endure. What should we do? We should pray, study God’s Word and meditate on it, and tell others about the Kingdom message. That will keep our hope of everlasting life strong. This hope will be like “an anchor” that helps us to remain faithful to God.—Hebrews 6:19; Psalm 25:21.
THE NATIONS WILL HAVE TO KNOW WHO JEHOVAH IS
10, 11. How will Armageddon begin? What will happen at that time?
10 What shocking event will happen when Jehovah’s servants are attacked? Jehovah will use Jesus and the armies in heaven to help God’s people. (Revelation 19:11-16) This will be “the war of the great day of God the Almighty,” which is called Armageddon.—Revelation 16:14, 16.
11 About this war against Gog, Jehovah said: “‘I will call forth against him throughout all my mountainous region a sword,’ is the utterance of the Sovereign Lord Jehovah. ‘Against his own brother the sword of each one will come to be.’” Those on Satan’s side will be confused and frightened, and they will start killing one another. Jehovah said: “Fire and sulphur I shall rain down upon [Gog] and upon his bands and upon the many peoples that will be with him.” (Ezekiel 38:21, 22) What will be the result when God does this?
The nations will have to know that they are being destroyed because Jehovah has ordered it
12. What will the nations be forced to do?
12 The nations will have to realize that they are being destroyed because Jehovah has ordered it. Then the people who are on Satan’s side may say the same as did the ancient Egyptians who chased after the Israelites at the Red Sea. They cried out: “Jehovah certainly fights for them”! (Exodus 14:25) The nations will be forced to know who Jehovah is. (Read Ezekiel 38:23.) How soon will these events begin to happen?
THERE WILL BE NO OTHER WORLD POWER
13. What do we know about the fifth part of the image that Daniel describes?
13 A prophecy in the book of Daniel helps us to understand in what period of time we are living. Daniel describes an image that looks like a human and is made of different metals. (Daniel 2:28, 31-33) It represents world powers that have had a great influence on God’s people, in the past and at the present. They include Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome. And the last world power exists in our time. In Daniel’s prophecy, we learn that the feet and toes of the image represent this world power. During World War I, Britain and the United States started working together in a special way. So the fifth part of Daniel’s image is the Anglo-American World Power. The feet are the last part of the image. This shows that there will be no human world power after it. The feet and the toes are made of iron and clay. This represents the weak state of the Anglo-American World Power.
14. Which world power will be ruling when Armageddon comes?
14 In this prophecy, God’s Kingdom is represented by a large stone that was cut from a mountain in 1914. The mountain represents Jehovah’s sovereignty, or right to rule. That stone will soon hit the feet of the image. At Armageddon, the feet and the rest of the image will be smashed. (Read Daniel 2:44, 45.) So the Anglo-American World Power will still be ruling when Armageddon comes. How exciting it will be to see this prophecy fulfilled! * (See footnote.) But what will Jehovah do to Satan?
WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO GOD’S CHIEF ENEMY?
15. After Armageddon, what will happen to Satan and his demons?
15 First, Satan will see his organization on earth being completely destroyed. Then, something will happen to Satan himself. The apostle John tells us what it is. (Read Revelation 20:1-3.) The “angel coming down out of heaven with the key of the abyss,” who is Jesus Christ, will throw Satan and his demons into the abyss and keep them there for a thousand years. (Luke 8:30, 31; 1 John 3:8) In this way, the serpent’s head will begin to be bruised, or crushed. * (See footnote.)—Genesis 3:15.
16. What will it mean for Satan to be in “the abyss”?
16 What is “the abyss” into which Satan and the demons will be thrown? The word used means very deep, or like a bottomless pit. So the abyss is a place where no one can go except Jehovah and his angel who has “the key of the abyss.” Satan will be kept there so that “he might not mislead the nations anymore.” The Bible says that Satan is like “a roaring lion.” But when he is in the abyss, he will be silenced.—1 Peter 5:8.
EVENTS THAT WILL HAPPEN BEFORE A TIME OF PEACE
17, 18. (a) What events have we discussed so far that have not yet happened? (b) What will begin after these events have happened?
17 Important and shocking events will soon happen. We look forward to seeing how the saying of “Peace and security!” will come about. Then we will see the destruction of Babylon the Great, the attack by Gog of Magog, and the battle of Armageddon. Satan and his demons will be thrown into the abyss. After these events, all wickedness will be gone. Our lives will be completely different during Christ’s Thousand Year Rule. During that time, we will enjoy an “abundance of peace.”—Psalm 37:10, 11.
18 In this article, we have learned about five “things unseen,” or events that have not yet happened. There are also other “things unseen” that we need to “keep our eyes” on. These events will be discussed in the next article.
^ par. 2 The ten events will be discussed in this article and in the next article.
^ par. 14 The words “put an end to all these kingdoms” at Daniel 2:44 talk about the kingdoms, or world powers, that are represented by the parts of the image. But another Bible prophecy that talks about this time says that “the kings of the entire inhabited earth” will come together to fight against Jehovah on “the great day of God the Almighty.” (Revelation 16:14; 19:19-21) So it is not only the kingdoms that are represented in the image that will be destroyed. All the other kingdoms of this world will be destroyed at Armageddon.