This article is an enlargement of a previous post with the same title originally published in 2003
Most people dismiss the possibility that the world might end someday. They go about their lives without giving it a thought. Others, though, might be heard to say: ‘Yes, the world will end some day. But not in my lifetime.’
On the other hand, some suppose that the end of the world is inevitable, even imminent, and will come about by means of some mega catastrophe, like a comet or asteroid crashing into the earth —as made popular by several blockbuster Hollywood movies. Apparently a significant YouTube audience even believes that earth is going to be devastated by a mysterious planet X that has been lurking in the outer regions of the solar system —undetected by astronomers.
Then there is the multitude of evangelicals who expect to be beamed up to heaven before seven years of tribulation destroy the planet. But, alas, their expectations are even less likely to materialize than the aforementioned.
But for certain —all of the popular end-of-the-world scenarios aside —by the decree of God this world is going to meet up with a violent, catastrophic end. It is as sure as tomorrow’s sunrise.
But it is not as people imagine. The end will not result in the destruction of this beautiful planet, nor will the human race cease to exist. The end of this world will be the beginning of a new world. That is good news —in fact, the best possible news!
Oftentimes you hear churchgoers say that the world will be destroyed by fire just as it was once destroyed by water. And, of course, the Bible book of 2nd Peter expresses God’s judgment using the symbolism of fire. But, obviously, the earth itself —terra firma —was not destroyed by the Flood of Noah’s day. Nor was mankind completely wiped out. Instead, one world passed into oblivion and a fresh, new world, ensued. We —everyone alive —are descendants from Noah and his three sons. And the earth that was ravaged by that watery cataclysm has long-since been renewed.
What was destroyed by the Deluge and what will be destroyed again is made plain by the apostle, where he wrote: “But by the same word (the word that stored up the waters of the heavenly ocean on the Creation) the heavens and the earth that now exist are reserved for fire and are being kept until the day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly people.”
According to the letter of Peter it is “ungodly people” who are going to be destroyed. That is the “world” that is going to come to an end. It is going to be a selective destruction —survived by an innumerable group of godly people.
But God is not going to simply drop the hammer from out of the blue yonder. The end is not going to just come out of nowhere —like the mythical planet Nibiru. And to be sure, millions of people are not going to mysteriously vanish in rapture, as portrayed in the popular Left Behind fictional series.
Before this wicked world meets up with its inglorious demise God has determined that there be what might be termed as a concluding phase —a period preliminary to the actual end of the world, during which time a great test will be imposed upon mankind —a test that will determine the fate of everyone on earth during that critical juncture.
Jesus referred to the great test to come in the book of Revelation. Speaking to a faithful few, Jesus said: “Because you kept the word about my endurance, I will also keep you from the hour of test, which is to come upon the entire inhabited earth, to put to the test those dwelling on the earth. I am coming quickly. Keep holding fast to what you have, so that no one may take your crown.”
What exactly is the “test” that Jesus foretold will come upon the whole world? The language is similar to that which Jesus used when talking about the great tribulation that will suddenly come in upon the entire inhabited earth. Revelation reveals the test will come about due to Satan demanding that all give allegiance to his earthly political system or face death.
DID THE TIME OF THE END BEGIN IN 1914?
Although the Watchtower teaches that the hour of test began over 100 years ago, obviously all the world has not been put to the test over the past century. Besides, several generations have come and gone since 1914. The “hour of test” denotes a relatively short period of time relative to the length of a single generation —a generation that Jesus said would not pass away until all things are fulfilled. It is reasonable to assume that the hour of test coincides with the one-hour that the eighth king is allotted to rule the earth.
Can the actual length of that symbolic “hour” be determined. Yes, it can. But first, what is the time of the end?
In prophecy this concluding interval is referred to variously as the time of the end, the final part of the days, the last days and the conclusion of the system of things. All these phrases are common to Jehovah’s Witnesses as expressed in the New World Translation. Other translations use similar expressions, such as the end of the age, or the end of the world.
The expression “the time of the end” is found in five different places in the book of Daniel. When Gabriel appeared to Daniel, the angel explained to him that he had “come to cause you to discern what will befall your people in the final part of the days, because it is a vision yet for the days to come.”
The Watchtower has long-taught that the world entered into the foretold “final part of the days” and “the time of the end” in the year 1914. Is that true though? The importance of this is that the time of the end marks the beginning of the presence of Jesus Christ. So, really the question is: Did Christ return in 1914?
The Watchtower teaches that the original destruction of Jerusalem in 607 BCE was the beginning of a period of time Jesus referred to in the 21st chapter of Luke as “the appointed times of the nations,” and that prophetic period ended in 1914 when Jesus was given the Kingdom. But there is no justification, whatsoever, in the Watchtower’s assumption that Jesus intended his disciples to believe that the trampling of Jerusalem by the nations had begun five centuries earlier.
The disciples had asked Jesus on the Mount of Olives to clarify his earlier statement regarding the overthrow of the temple and the holy city. In response Jesus told his disciples to look for a signal —that when a disgusting thing stood in a holy place then the end of Jerusalem would be imminent. They were to flee immediately. And Jesus went on to state that Jerusalem would be trampled on by the nations until such time as the “appointed times of the nations” had ended. Clearly, Jesus was foretelling a future trampling of Jerusalem.
Not only is there no justification for 1914 as being the end of the “appointed times,” but more importantly the grander fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy concerning the conclusion of the system also involves the trampling of “Jerusalem” by a disgusting thing during a great tribulation that would engulf the entire inhabited earth, which Jesus linked to the prophecy of Daniel.
But the Watchtower makes no connection between the trampling of the holy place, spoken of in the eighth chapter of Daniel, and the desolation and trampling of Jerusalem and the holy place, about which Jesus spoke. And although the Watchtower claims that the foretold trampling of symbolic Jerusalem ended in 1914, according to their interpretation of the eighth chapter of Daniel the holy place was trampled again during World War II by both the Allied and the fascist nations!
Another notable inconsistency in the Watchtower’s interpretation of the prophecy of Daniel has to do with what is written at Daniel 11:35, which reads: “And some of those having insight will be made to stumble, in order to do a cleansing and do to a whitening, until the time of the end; because it is yet for the time appointed.”
According to the Society’s commentary on this verse in the Pay Attention to Daniel’s Prophecy book, those with insight that were made to stumble by the king of the north had to do with Soviet agents that had infiltrated the organization by posing as Jehovah’s Witnesses. On page 275, the Society wrote:
“The time of the end, must relate to the end of the period of time needed for God’s people to be refined while enduring the assault of the king of the north. The stumbling evidently ended at the time appointed by Jehovah.”
While the KGB infiltration of the organization in Russia is fascinating history to be sure, it does not appear to be what the prophecy relates to. Clearly, the Watchtower has arbitrarily interpreted the expression “the time of the end” to suit their own private interpretation. They have violated the use of that very specific term as it relates to a particular time period. For, if Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the time of the end began in 1914, and you accept Daniel 11:35 as pertaining to a period during the Cold War, how is it that the scripture says that the time of the end “is yet for the appointed time”? The Watchtower has obscured the intended message of the prophecy by assigning a totally different meaning to the simple expression – “the time of the end.”
Apparently, some of those having insight that are made to stumble are not those far-away brothers in Russia, but they are much closer to home. They are those who presume to teach Jehovah’s Witnesses these vital prophecies, but who resort to cleverly contriving artificial interpretations of prophecy that will ultimately test the faith of all of Jehovah’s Witnesses who rely on the Watchtower for spiritual guidance.
Daniel 11:40 relates what is to occur during the beginning of the time of the end, where it says: “And in the time of the end the king of the south will engage with him in a pushing, and against him the king of the north will storm with chariots and with horsemen and with many ships; and he will certainly enter into the lands and flood over and pass through.”
The Watchtower had originally interpreted this portion of prophecy as applying to the USSR and the USA during the period when those two antagonistic blocks of nations engaged in a pushing contest with each other in a Cold War stand off. But in their latest commentary Bethel’s interpreters have pushed the “pushing” all the way back to 1914 and have stretched the period of the “pushing,” like a super-stretched piece of elastic band, to apply to most of the 20th century! Furthermore the prophecy indicates that the “pushing” escalates into a storm-like flooding over by the king of the north. But according to the Watchtower the “pushing” and the flooding-over go on simultaneously over the course of many decades.
Besides the obvious artificiality of that interpretation there is also the matter of the identity of the king of the north. Here it is been more than two decades since the Soviet Union unceremoniously dissolved and by the Watchtower’s own admission they have no idea who the king of the north is presently, as if there were not one.
But one of the features of the time of the end is that the scroll of Daniel will be unsealed – meaning, it will – at last – be understood. That being the case, if the time of the end began in 1914, why is it —now over a century into the supposed time of the end when the scroll was presumably opened —there is this big question mark about the leading political entity that fulfills prophecy during the time of the end?
Moreover, the Watchtower claimed that the Soviet Union ruled over the hidden treasures of the American king of the south during the Cold War. This is simply nonsensical. Historians recognize that the USSR bankrupted itself trying to keep up with America in their so-called arms race. America won the Cold War. The USSR lost. Jehovah’s Witnesses do not seem to grasp that reality though.
The reality is the time of the end did not begin in 1914. Virtually everything the Watchtower has interpreted from Daniel and Revelation and all the rest, is in error. Soberingly, the beginning of the time of the end is in the future, though imminent.
Meanwhile, the king of the north – manifest now, as before, as the British Empire and its latest incarnation of the London-centered global financial system, is locked in a pushing with the nation-state system, the so-called Westphalian system of independent, albeit cooperative states. The central banks and their plethora of mega banks are absolutely being used to conquer nations and peoples of Europe. They are pushing them to the brink of slavery. Greece most dramatically demonstrates how nations may be conquered and plundered without even being overrun by an army with pointed bayonets. They are being dictated to by the supranational Trioka.
“THE SCENE OF THIS WORLD IS CHANGING”
“For the scene of this world is changing” wrote the apostle nearly 2,000 years ago. And those inspired words have never been more applicable as at this present moment in time.
Many would be inclined to agree with those words, perhaps citing climate change or the latest innovations in software or electronic gadgetry as world changing.
But the most profound change of this world —one with the farthest reaching ramifications anyway —is in the political and economic arena. The emergence of the BRICS nations and the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank is paramount. Why? Because the emanation of the Russia/China-led economic alliance signals a tectonic shift in power away from the USA and Europe to Asia. After all, China and India alone represent nearly half of the world’s population!
Because the Anglo-American duo have called the tune for the past two and a half centuries the new power bloc constitutes a direct challenge to the hegemonic aims of London and Washington. Actually, power has resided in Europe and by extension in America since Alexander’s empire. This is in accord with prophecy. That being the case, we should not expect that the inheritors of the Roman Empire will simply walk off the world’s stage without a fight.
Given the historical record of the countless wars waged by the great empires, and the resoluteness on the part of China and Russia not to bow before the Empire’s demands —there is very little likelihood that matters can be settled peacefully. A decisive confrontation is inevitable and, in fact, has already begun.
What is most disconcerting is that the two competing blocs of nations are nuclear powers and also possess lesser known weaponry of incalculable destructive power. Because of that it is doubtful that the conflict will be resolved solely by means of conventional warfare. Ironically, though, the use of even a limited number of nuclear weapons would devastate the very system each seeks to dominate.
What we are faced with is the end of a system that has existed for centuries. Or, the end of the world if you prefer. To be sure, it is not some visitation of disaster from outside of the human realm. The time of the end is characterized primarily by one of the oldest plagues that has afflicted mankind —war!
We may be certain that the now-onrushing conflict will devastate the present economic and political system. The good news is it will commence the period known as the time of the end. How long will that period last? God is allowed for the nations to recover from the impending collapse and from the point when the last king arises for the appointed “one hour” the Scriptures indicate the interval will last approximately 3 1/2 years. Afterwards Satan’s wicked world will be obliterated and a new world will emerge.