“When you see all these things, know that he is near at the doors.”
1, 2. (a) What can cause a certain type of blindness? (b) What do we know about God’s Kingdom?
YOU may have noticed that people do not always remember the same details about an event. Similarly, it may be difficult for someone to remember exactly what the doctor said after he gave a diagnosis. Or a person may not find his keys or eyeglasses, even when they are right in front of him. Why do these things happen? Researchers say that a type of blindness happens when we try to do more than one thing at the same time. Apparently, our brain can fully concentrate on only one thing at a time.
2 Many people today have a similar kind of blindness about what is happening in the world. They may admit that the world has changed very much since 1914, but they do not understand what this means. As Bible students, we know that God’s Kingdom came in 1914 when Jesus was made King in heaven. However, the prayer “Let your Kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also on earth” has not yet been completely answered. (Matthew 6:10) This prayer will be fully answered when this wicked world is removed. Only when that happens can God’s will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.
3. What does our study of the Bible help us to see?
3 Because we regularly study God’s Word, we can see that prophecies are being fulfilled right now. What a difference from most people! They are so busy with their lives that they do not see the clear evidence that Christ has been ruling since 1914 and will soon destroy this wicked world. Ask yourself this question: ‘Do I still believe that the end of this world is very near and that events on the earth prove this?’ Even if you have been a Witness for only a short time, on what is your attention focused? Whatever your answer is, let us discuss three important reasons why we know that soon God’s will for the earth will be done.
THE HORSEMEN HAVE ARRIVED
4, 5. (a) What has Jesus been doing since 1914? (See opening picture.) (b) What do the three horsemen following Jesus represent? How has this prophecy been fulfilled?
4 In 1914, Jesus Christ received a heavenly crown, that is, he became King of God’s Kingdom. The prophecy recorded in Revelation chapter 6 describes Jesus as riding a white horse. After becoming King, he immediately began his ride in order to defeat Satan’s wicked world. (Read Revelation 6:1, 2.) The prophecy foretold that after God’s Kingdom began ruling, the world would quickly become much worse. War, food shortage, disease, and other causes of death would happen more than ever before. These disasters are represented in the prophecy by three horsemen riding closely behind Jesus Christ.
5 As the prophecy foretold, war took “peace away from the earth.” This happened even though many nations had promised to work together and keep peace. World War I was only the first of many destructive wars that would take peace away from the earth. Although much economic and scientific progress has been made since 1914, food shortages are still a threat to world security. No one can deny that diseases, natural disasters, and other tragedies take the lives of millions each year. These events are more dangerous, happen more often, and kill more people than ever before in human history. Do you realize what that means?
6. Who had been paying attention to the fulfillment of Bible prophecy, and what did they do when prophecy was fulfilled?
6 Many people were distracted because of the beginning of World War I and the Spanish flu. However, anointed Christians eagerly expected the Gentile Times, or “appointed times of the nations,” to end in 1914. (Luke 21:24) The anointed did not know exactly how Bible prophecy would be fulfilled, but they knew that in 1914 an important event would take place in God’s Kingdom. As soon as they understood how prophecy had been fulfilled, they courageously announced to others that God’s rule had begun. Many who preached the Kingdom message were cruelly persecuted. This persecution was also a fulfillment of Bible prophecy. For many years after that, enemies of the Kingdom used laws, violence, prison sentences, or even death to try to stop the preaching work.
7. Why do most people not see the importance of what is happening in the world today?
7 If there is so much evidence to prove that God’s Kingdom is now ruling in heaven, then why do most people not see it? Why do they not see that world events are fulfilling Bible prophecy exactly as God’s people have been saying for many years? Do they see only what they want to see? (2 Corinthians 5:7) Are they so busy with their own lives that they do not see what God is doing? (Matthew 24:37-39) Are some of them distracted by the ideas and goals of Satan’s world? (2 Corinthians 4:4) We need faith as well as the ability to see more than just what is in front of our eyes to understand what God’s Kingdom is doing. How happy we are that we can see what is really going on!
Many people do not see the meaning of what is happening in the world
WICKEDNESS IS INCREASING
8-10. (a) How has 2 Timothy 3:1-5 been fulfilled? (b) Why can we say that wickedness is getting worse?
8 There is a second reason why we know that God’s Kingdom will soon rule the earth: The world is now more wicked than ever before, and it is getting worse. For almost one hundred years, we have seen the prophecy at 2 Timothy 3:1-5 come true. The behavior described in those scriptures is spreading into all parts of the world. Do you see that also? Let us discuss some examples.
9 Compare what shocked people in the 1940’s or 1950’s with what happens today in the workplace, in entertainment, in sports, and in fashion. Extreme violence and extreme immorality are seen everywhere. People try to shock others with their violent, immoral, and cruel behavior. Television programs that many thought were bad in the 1950’s are now viewed as good family entertainment. Many have noticed the strong influence that homosexuals have on entertainment and fashion and how they promote their lifestyle in public. Thankfully, we know how God feels about these things!
10 Also, compare the rebellious behavior of young people in the past with what young people do today. For example, in the 1950’s, parents worried about their children smoking tobacco, drinking alcohol, or dancing in an improper way. But today we often hear shocking news reports like these: A 15-year-old student shoots his classmates, killing 2 and injuring 13. A group of drunken teenagers cruelly murder a nine-year-old girl and attack her father and cousin. Another news report said that in one Asian country, young people were responsible for half of all crimes committed during a ten-year period. Can anyone deny that things today are getting much worse?
11. Why do many people not realize that things are getting worse?
11 The apostle Peter accurately said: “In the last days ridiculers will come with their ridicule, proceeding according to their own desires and saying: ‘Where is this promised presence of his? Why, from the day our forefathers fell asleep in death, all things are continuing exactly as they were from creation’s beginning.’” (2 Peter 3:3, 4) Why do some people react this way? It seems that the more often we see something, the less we pay attention to it. If the behavior of a close friend changes suddenly, this may shock us. But if the attitudes and morals of people in general change slowly over a long period of time, we may not notice it. A change like this is very dangerous.
12, 13. (a) Why do we not need to be discouraged by what is happening in the world? (b) What will help us to endure these last days that are “hard to deal with”?
12 The apostle Paul warned us that the last days would be “hard to deal with.” (2 Timothy 3:1) But we do not need to hide from the world. We can overcome any disappointments or fears that we may have. With the help of Jehovah, his spirit, and the Christian congregation, we can stay faithful to him. God will give us “the power beyond what is normal.”
13 Paul began the prophecy about the last days with the words “know this.” Those words guarantee that this prophecy will be fulfilled. We know that this world will continue to get worse until Jehovah brings the end. We have learned from history that when standards of right and wrong become very low, societies or entire nations have collapsed. Never before have the standards of right and wrong been so low in the entire world. Many people may ignore what this means, but the events since 1914 should convince us that God’s Kingdom will soon end all wickedness.
Events since 1914 should convince us that God’s Kingdom will soon end all wickedness
THIS GENERATION WILL NOT PASS AWAY
14-16. What is a third reason why we believe that God’s Kingdom will “come” soon?
14 The history of God’s people gives us a third reason to have confidence that the end is near. For example, before God’s Kingdom began ruling in heaven, a group of faithful anointed ones were serving God. When prophecy was not fulfilled in the way that they expected in 1914, what did they do? Most of them continued serving Jehovah faithfully and endured trials and persecution. Over the years, most, if not all, of those anointed ones have remained faithful until death.
15 In his prophecy about the last days of Satan’s world, Jesus said: “This generation will by no means pass away until all these things happen.” (Read Matthew 24:33-35.) When Jesus mentioned “this generation,” we understand that he was speaking about two groups of anointed Christians. The first group was present in 1914 and understood that Christ began ruling as King in that year. Those who made up this group were not only alive in 1914, but they had also been anointed by holy spirit in or before that year.
16 All those in the second group included in “this generation” were not simply alive but were anointed with holy spirit during the time that some members of the first group were still alive on earth. So not every anointed person today is included in “this generation” whom Jesus spoke about. Today, those in the second group are getting older. Yet, Jesus’ words at Matthew 24:34 make us confident that at least some of “this generation will by no means pass away” before seeing the start of the great tribulation. This convinces us even more that soon the King of God’s Kingdom will destroy the wicked and bring in a righteous new world.
CHRIST WILL SOON HAVE THE VICTORY
17. What does the evidence we have discussed help us to understand?
17 Can you see how the Bible prophecies we have studied are being fulfilled right now? As Jesus warned us, we do not know the exact day or hour of the end. (Matthew 24:36; 25:13) But Paul mentioned that we do know when “the season,” that is, the last days, would be. (Read Romans 13:11.) We are living in that season right now. If we pay attention to Bible prophecy and to what Jehovah God and Jesus Christ are doing, we will see the clear evidence that the end of this wicked world is near.
If we pay attention to Bible prophecy, we will see the clear evidence that the end of this wicked world is near
18. What will happen to those who refuse to accept Jesus Christ as their King?
18 Soon, those who refuse to accept the authority of Jesus Christ, the Rider of the white horse, will have to admit that they are wrong. They will not be able to escape the judgment that is coming to them. When that happens, many will cry out in fear, saying: “Who is able to stand?” (Revelation 6:15-17) Chapter 7 of Revelation gives us the answer to that question. The anointed still on earth and the “great crowd” will “stand” because of being approved by God. Then the “great crowd” of other sheep will survive the great tribulation and enter into God’s new world.
Soon, those who refuse to accept the authority of Jesus Christ will have to admit that they are wrong
19. As one who is confident that the end is near, what are you looking forward to?
19 If we keep paying attention to Bible prophecies that are being fulfilled in our day, we will not be distracted by Satan’s world. We will not be blind to the real meaning of world events. Christ will soon complete his victory and destroy this wicked world during the righteous war of Armageddon. (Revelation 19:11, 19-21) Imagine how happy we will be after that!