Where Is This World Headed?

THE BIBLE foretold the present moral breakdown long in advance and described it this way: “In the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, . . . disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, having no natural affection, . . . fierce, without love of goodness, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with pride, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power.”​—2 Timothy 3:1-5.

You may agree that this Bible prophecy is an accurate description of the world today. Yet, it was recorded nearly 2,000 years ago! The prophecy is introduced with the words: “In the last days.” What does that expression, “the last days,” mean?

“The Last Days” of What?

“The last days” has become a very common expression. In the English language alone, it has been part of the title of hundreds of books. Consider, for example, the recent book The Last Days of Innocence​—America at War, 1917-1918. The prologue makes clear that when using the term “the last days,” the book refers to a specific time, one in which there has been a tremendous decay in morals.

“In 1914,” the prologue explains, “the country was changing more rapidly than at any time in its history.” Indeed, the year 1914 marked a plunge into war worldwide, which had not been experienced before. The book says: “This was total war, the conflict not of army against army but nation against nation.” This war, as we will see, occurred at the beginning of what the Bible terms “the last days.”

 That this world would experience before its actual end a specific time called “the last days” is a teaching of the Bible. The Bible, in fact, says that a world once existed that has already passed away, or ended, explaining: “The world of that time suffered destruction when it was deluged with water.” What time was that, and what was the world that ended? It was the ancient “world of ungodly people” that existed in the days of the man Noah. Similarly, today’s world will end. Yet, those who serve God will survive the end, as did Noah and his family.​—2 Peter 2:5; 3:6; Genesis 7:21-24; 1 John 2:17.

What Jesus Said About the End

Jesus Christ also spoke of “the days of Noah,” when “the flood came and swept them all away.” He compared conditions that existed before the Flood​—just prior to the end of that world—​with those that would prevail during the time that he identified as “the conclusion of the system of things.” (Matthew 24:3, 37-39) Other Bible translations use the expression “the end of the world” or “the end of the age.”​—The Jerusalem Bible, The New English Bible, and the New International Version.

Jesus foretold what life would be like on earth just before the world’s end. Regarding war, he said: “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom.” Historians have noted that this occurred beginning in 1914. Thus, the prologue of the aforementioned book spoke of 1914 as marking the beginning of “total war, . . . not of army against army but nation against nation.”

In his prophecy, Jesus added: “There will be food shortages and earthquakes in one place after another. All these things are a beginning of pangs of distress.” He went on to say that among other things there would be an “increasing of lawlessness.” (Matthew 24:7-14) Surely we have seen this occur in our day. Today’s moral breakdown is so severe that it is fulfilling Bible prophecy!

What should our lives be like during such a decadent time? Note what the apostle Paul wrote to Christians in Rome regarding moral decay. He pointed to the “disgraceful sexual appetites” of people, observing: “Both their females changed the natural use of themselves into one contrary to nature; and likewise even the males left the natural use of the female and became violently inflamed in their lust toward one another, males with males, working what is obscene.”​—Romans 1:26, 27.

Historians say that while human society then sank ever deeper into moral decay, “the little Christian communities were troubling the pleasure-mad pagan world with their piety and their decency.” This should cause us to pause and ask: ‘What about me and those I choose for associates? Do we stand out as different, as morally upright, unlike those who carry on immorally?’​—1 Peter 4:3, 4.

The Battle We Have

The Bible teaches us that despite the immorality surrounding us, we need to be “blameless and innocent, children of God without a blemish in among a crooked and twisted generation.” To do this, we need to keep “a tight grip on the word of life.” (Philippians 2:15, 16) This Bible statement provides the key to how Christians can  remain untainted by moral corruption​—they need to hold fast to the teachings of God’s Word and recognize that its moral standards represent the best way of living.

“The god of this system of things,” Satan the Devil, is trying to win over people’s hearts. (2 Corinthians 4:4) The Bible tells us that he “keeps transforming himself into an angel of light.” His ministers, those who serve him by acting like him, do too. (2 Corinthians 11:14, 15) They promise freedom and fun, but as the Bible says, “they themselves are existing as slaves of corruption.”​—2 Peter 2:19.

Have no illusions about it. Those who ignore God’s moral standards will suffer dire consequences. The Bible psalmist wrote: “Salvation is far away from the wicked ones, for they have not searched for [God’s] own regulations.” (Psalm 119:155; Proverbs 5:22, 23) Are we convinced of that? If we are, let us protect our minds and hearts against permissive propaganda.

Many, however, unwisely reason, ‘If what I’m doing is not illegal, then it’s all right.’ But that is not so. Our heavenly Father lovingly provides moral guidance, not to make your life boring and restrictive, but to protect you. He is “teaching you to benefit yourself.” He wants you to avoid calamity and enjoy a happy life. Indeed, as the Bible teaches, serving God “holds promise of the life now and that which is to come.” That is “the real life,” eternal life in his promised new world!​—Isaiah 48:17, 18; 1 Timothy 4:8; 6:19.

So compare the benefits of following Bible teachings with the heartache that eventually comes to those who fail to do so. Winning God’s favor by listening to him is truly the best way of life! “As for the one listening to me,” God promises, “he will reside in security and be undisturbed from dread of calamity.”​—Proverbs 1:33.

A Morally Upright Society

The Bible says that when this world passes away, “the wicked one will be no more.” It also says: “The upright are the ones that will reside in the earth, and the blameless are the ones that will be left over in it.” (Psalm 37:10, 11; Proverbs 2:20-22) So the earth will be cleansed of all remnants of immorality, including all those who refuse to abide by the wholesome teachings of our Creator. An earthly paradise, similar to that in which God placed the first human pair, will then gradually be cultivated earth wide by lovers of God.​—Genesis 2:7-9.

Consider the pleasure of living in such a cleansed earth of paradisaic beauty! Among those who will be privileged to see it will be the billions resurrected from the dead. Rejoice in God’s promises: “The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.” “[God] will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more, neither will mourning nor outcry nor pain be anymore. The former things have passed away.”​—Psalm 37:29; Revelation 21:3, 4.

[Blurb on page 9]

When a world ended, there were God-fearing survivors

[Picture on page 10]

After this world ends, earth will become a paradise