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AWAKE! OCTOBER 2012

The Bible—A Book of Accurate Prophecy—Part 6

“The Last Days”

The Bible—A Book of Accurate Prophecy—Part 6

This eight-part series in Awake! is examining an outstanding feature of the Bible—its prophecies, or predictions. The articles will help you to answer these questions: Are Bible prophecies merely the work of clever humans? Do they bear the hallmark of divine inspiration? We invite you to weigh the evidence.

WE LIVE in difficult times. From all parts of the earth, we hear a steady stream of news describing calamities and social unrest. Is there any special significance to the current world situation?

Some 2,000 years ago, the Bible foretold that the world’s troubles would climax in “the conclusion of the system of things.” (Matthew 24:3) This does not mean “the end of the world” as people fear it. Rather, the Bible describes a pattern of events and attitudes, or a sign, that would occur during a time period called “the last days.” (2 Timothy 3:1) Jesus told his followers that when they saw “these things occurring,” relief would soon follow. (Luke 21:31) Consider some of the prophecies that mark our time as unique.

Prophecy 1:

“Nation will rise against nation.”Matthew 24:7.

Fulfillment: In the early years of the 20th century, many were expecting continued peace. The start of World War I shocked the world and began an era of unprecedented warfare. As the Bible book of Revelation foretold, peace was taken “away from the earth so that they [mankind] should slaughter one another.”Revelation 6:4.

What the evidence reveals:

  • “The outbreak of the First World War in 1914 still seems to mark the end of an era and the beginning of a new one.”The Origins of the First World War, published in 1992.
  • Although the catastrophic death toll of World War I cannot be precisely determined, one encyclopedia estimates that military deaths alone totaled 8,500,000.
  • World War II was far more deadly, with figures varying from some 35 million to 60 million soldiers and civilians killed.
  •   Between the end of the second world war and 2010, there were 246 armed conflicts in 151 locations worldwide.

Prophecy 2:

“There will be food shortages.”Matthew 24:7.

Fulfillment: Famine caused more than 70 million deaths in the 20th century and continues to be a global problem.

What the evidence reveals:

  • According to the United Nations, hunger is the world’s greatest health risk, and 1 in 7 people worldwide currently do not have enough to eat.
  • “Today’s food shortages are not the result of one-time, weather-driven crop failures but rather of four critical long-term trends: rapid population growth, loss of topsoil, spreading water shortages and rising temperatures.”—Scientific American.

Prophecy 3:

“There will be great earthquakes.”Luke 21:11.

Fulfillment: Because more people live in earthquake-prone areas, the number of lives lost or disrupted as a result of earthquakes has sharply increased.

What the evidence reveals:

  • The World Disasters Report 2010 says: “Of all large disasters, seismic events have killed the greatest number of people in recent years.”
  • Each year, from 1970 to 2001, there was an average of 19 earthquake disasters * reported, with an average death toll of 19,547. In the ten years before 2012, the average increased to 28 earthquake disasters per year, with an average death toll of 67,954.

Prophecy 4:

“In one place after another pestilences.”Luke 21:11.

Fulfillment: Despite medical advances, millions still die each year as a result of infectious diseases. International travel and the world’s growing urban population have increased the likelihood that disease outbreaks will spread rapidly.

What the evidence reveals:

  • Smallpox killed an estimated 300 million to 500 million people in the 20th century.
  • The Worldwatch Institute reports that during the past three decades, “more than thirty previously unrecognized diseases such as Ebola, HIV, Hantavirus, and SARS have emerged as new threats.”
  • The World Health Organization has warned of the rise of drug-resistant germs, saying: “The world is heading towards a post-antibiotic era, in which many common infections will no longer have a cure and, once again, [will] kill unabated.”

Prophecy 5:

People will “betray one another and will hate one another. . . . The love of the greater number will cool off.”Matthew 24:10, 12.

Fulfillment: Hate-fueled genocide has claimed the lives of millions. In numerous countries, armed conflicts and crime have led to cycles of increasing fear and violence.

What the evidence reveals:

  • The Nazi regime killed six million Jews and millions of others. Regarding the reaction of ordinary citizens, author Zygmunt Bauman observes: “Mass destruction was accompanied not by the uproar of emotions, but the dead silence of unconcern.”
  • According to BBC News, it is estimated that some 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutu were killed within just a few months. One  researcher estimates that some 200,000 people participated in the mass murder.
  • Each year, more than 740,000 people die as a result of crime and armed conflict.

Prophecy 6:

“Men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, . . . having no natural affection.”2 Timothy 3:2, 3.

Fulfillment: Our era is one of greed and a lack of moral restraint. Such attitudes have fostered numerous social problems.

What the evidence reveals:

  • A UNICEF UK report on child welfare says that parents and children in the United Kingdom “seemed to be locked into a compulsive consumption cycle.” Families buy material goods “in an attempt to compensate for relationship problems and social insecurity.”
  • An estimated 275 million children worldwide are exposed to domestic violence in the home.
  • “In the United States alone, over 500,000 older adults are believed to be abused or neglected each year.”—Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Prophecy 7:

“This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth.”Matthew 24:14.

Fulfillment: The Bible teaches that God’s Kingdom is a real government, ruling from heaven with Jesus as King. This heavenly Kingdom will “crush and put an end to all [human governments], and it itself will stand to times indefinite.”Daniel 2:44.

God’s Kingdom—both what it is and what it will do—is the central message taught by Jehovah’s Witnesses earth wide.

In fulfillment of Matthew 24:14, Jehovah’s Witnesses preach the good news of God’s Kingdom

What the evidence reveals:

  • Worldwide, Jehovah’s Witnesses, numbering more than seven million in more than 230 lands, teach others about God’s Kingdom.
  • In print and online, Jehovah’s Witnesses have made Bible-based information available in over 500 languages.

The Sign and Your Future

After examining the evidence, millions have concluded that the Bible’s sign of the last days is now being fulfilled. As the first six articles in this series have shown, history proves that the Bible is indeed a book of unerring prophecy.

You can also have confidence in what the Bible foretells for the future. These prophecies will affect you, for God promises to bring an end to these traumatic last days. The remaining two articles in this series will explain how “the last days” will end and will also tell of the wonderful future ahead for the earth and mankind.

^ par. 22 The Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters defines an earthquake “disaster” as a seismic event that results in at least one of the following: 10 or more people killed, 100 or more people affected, the declaration of a state of emergency, or a call for international assistance.

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