Armageddon. DOOMSDAY. The End of the World. Heart stopping terms! The language of religionists and self appointed prophets of gloom and doom? Not anymore! Now erudite scientists and rational leaders in many fields freely use such expressions. Could it really happen? Is Doomsday just around the corner?
FOR CENTURIES men have been jeering at the proverbial picture of the eccentric, slightly mad, self-appointed "prophet of doom" who belligerently marches in the face of general ridicule loudly proclaiming that "the end of the world is nigh." Usually such a person is pictured wearing what looks like an ankle-length "bedsheet" and open-toed sandals. His hair looks as though he had just received a severe electric shock — snow-white and wildly dishevelled. His eyes burn in darkened sockets sunken deeply into an ashen face. He carries a placard or sign emblazoned with crude lettering announcing his message of destruction. His pessimistic diatribe is often referred to as a "Jeremiad." The term means "... a prolonged lamentation or complaint by one who is pessimistic about the present and who foresees a calamitous future." This definition is taken from a misunderstanding of the Old Testament Prophet Jeremiah. Of course, to date, all such individuals have ended up with "egg on their faces," because their prophecies haven't come to pass, much to the delight of a generally cynical and sardonic public. The world IS still here. And so are the "prophets of doom"! But the general laughter has been dying down as the world gets shakier. The world, it seems, is getting nervous. Many are beginning to shift uneasily in their once comfortable seats of cynicism. Why? Because new and prestigious voices are chiming in — the chorus grows louder! Now learned and dignified men of science and representatives from the hallowed halls of learning around the world are adding their voices to the frantic shrieks of impending catastrophe. World leaders are saying mankind' s days are numbered unless we solve the problems of war, overpopulation and the destruction of our life-sustaining environment. There has been much talk, but no solutions have been effected and none are forthcoming.
On the "flip side" of the record, however, we have the "cockeyed optimists." In spite of the pressing realities of pollution, overpopulation, ever-escalating wars and the constant threat of new conflicts, growing rebellion of youth, the breakdown of world morality, the looming spectre of planet-wide disease epidemics and a host of other life-threatening problems — somehow these idealists feel the "greater good in human nature" will somehow prevail! Everything will be all right. Somehow we'll weather the storm. There'll be a brighter day tomorrow and the sun will arise on a peaceful, deliriously happy, utopian world of harmony and plenty produced by the twin gods of science and human rationalism.
Both Views Wrong
Neither viewpoint is correct. The world is NOT going to end. Not soon — not ever! This planet has a permanent and vital place in the universe! Nor will mankind bring about his own extinction — almost, but not quite! There will be a world tomorrow! And it will be a UTOPIA of peace and plenty. Such a world is just around the corner. You can bank on it! But it will not be brought about by man's efforts! It will be introduced in spite of him! Let's understand.
What, Then, Does "End of the World" Mean?
The expression "end of the world" needs defining. Granted the Bible does use the term. Let's examine one such instance in Matthew 24:3: "... The disciples came to him privately, saying, Tell us... what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the END OF THE WORLD?" Notice the phrase "the end of the world" is related to the return of Jesus Christ to this earth. Does this mean Christ will return only to destroy this earth and blast to oblivion the planet He Himself created? Not at all! The word "world" in this verse comes from a Greek word i o n which does not signify the physical globe we call the "world." It means "age" and has been so rendered by a number of translators. The return of Jesus Christ signifies the conclusion of this age and the commencement of another — a millennial age — upon this earth. Beginning at His arrival, Christ will subdue all earthly kingdoms and assume the reigns of world government (Dan. 2:44; Rev. 11 :15). This will signal the opening of a thousand-year period known prophetically as the millennium. It will be a time of constantly increasing peace, prosperity and plenty. It will be a period of the rebuilding of this ravaged earth. Great ecological restorations will be enacted and after a while even the old cities of this present age will be rebuilt (Acts 3:20-21; Isa. 61:4). Of course, this rebuilding will be done in an orderly and sensible manner. There will be no urban sprawl or slums in the cities of tomorrow. It will be God's world. And God is not the author of confusion! (I Cor. 14:33, 40.) Today's cities are disorganized, confused botches on the face of the scarred and polluted landscape. Tomorrow's cities will be orderly and free of pollution.
The End of This Age
Before Christ's millennia1 rule begins, however, man's allotted 6000-year age must come to a tumultuous climax! Many prophecies will be fulfilled in a relatively brief period of time. In the Bible this mind-shattering climactic period is known as "the time of the end." The Apostle Paul in describing this period said, "... In the last days the times will be full of danger..." (II Tim. 3 : 1, Phillips translation). Conditions on this earth will be so dangerous that ALL LIFE, human or otherwise, will be threatened with EXTINCTION! Only the intervention of the returning Christ will prevent global catastrophe. Notice how Jesus Himself described this now imminent period in Matthew 24:22, "And except those days should be shortened there should no flesh be saved [alive]...." Christ will have to step in and save man from himself!
Brink of Cosmocide
In recent decades man's technological knowledge has rapidly increased at a staggering rate. But so have man's troubles! Why? Because man does not have the wisdom to rightly use the technology at his disposal. For example, every new weapon that has been invented has eventually been utilized. Now man has the hydrogen bomb stockpiled in overkill proportions! And yet newer and more bizarre weapons of mass destruction are on the drawing boards. The military potential of orbiting satellites is inconceivable. Laser beams and bacteriological agents are weapons too horrifying for the average person to consider. But the solution to war and international struggles and conflicts is not a change of weaponry to more lethal and devastating munitions. Nor is it the ever-growing stockpiling of existing weapons of mass destruction. It is a change of heart on the part of mankind in general. MAN MUST DEVELOP THE WEAPONRY TO WAGE IT! As wise old King Solomon said centuries ago, "Wisdom is better than weapons of war: but (weapons in the hands of?) one sinner destroyeth much good" (Eccl. 9: 18). WISDOM TO AVOID WAR — NOT THE
When Will Christ Return?
This has been the question of the ages! Great theologians have pondered this question. Wild-eyed religionists have cried "wolf" too many times. The public is skeptical about the whole subject. Society has even coined an expression which mirrors this doubt. When someone is slow in arriving, people have been overheard to say, "He's slower than the second coming of Jesus Christ." God, of course, prophetically anticipated this attitude. Notice the words of Peter, "... There shall come in the last days scoffers... saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation" (II Peter 3:3-4). The Prophet Ezekiel also spoke of this, feeling that the return of Christ and the accompanying prophecies were not working out as anticipated. He expressed it this way, "Again a message came to me from the Lord: 'Son of dust, what is that proverb they quote in Israel [modern America and Great Britain) — "The days as they pass make liars out of every prophet"'" (Ezek. 12:21-22, Living Psalms and Proverbs with the Major Prophets Paraphrased). But the time has come to SILENCE THIS DOUBTING, SKEPTICAL AND CYNICAL ATTITUDE. This IS the "end time"! Prophecies ARE being fulfilled at an ever-accelerating and snowballing rate. The words of Matthew 24 are coming alive in today's world news. "The Lord God says, I will put an end to this proverb and they will soon stop saying it. Give them this one instead: 'The time HAS COME FOR ALL THESE PROPHECIES TO BE FULFILLED'" (Ezekiel 12:23). You are living in that one generation during which almost 90% of prophecy will be fulfilled! Read Matthew 24:34.
False Prophets Cry "Wolf"
For centuries a wily and crafty adversary of God has sent his false prophets to delude man into expecting the imminent return of the Messiah. Always there has been a letdown. Christ did not show up when these misguided self-appointed "prophets" said He would. Consequently, people have become doubtful that Christ really will ever return. This is exactly what the devil has desired! Because when God's true servants stand up to announce the imminency of Christ's return, a "once bitten, twice shy" public will not believe it! They've been "had" too many times! But who can you believe? Before you accept the words of any alleged servant of God, "... believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they be of God: because MANY FALSE PROPHETS ARE GONE OUT INTO THE WORLD" (I John 4:1). You need to prove who God's servants really are! God dogmatically states whenever He does a major act He will inform His servants beforehand (Amos 3 : 7). God's Word, the Bible, tells how to recognize the conditions that will precede Christ's second coming. When the disciples asked what the sign of Christ's coming would be, He gave them a number of such signs! They are listed in the 24th chapter of the book of Matthew. He listed an ever-skyrocketing curve of wars and rumors of wars, famines, disease epidemics, coexisting with a dramatic increase in religious fervor which would culminate in the arrival on the world scene of one great false religious leader of enormous influence and power. Read it for yourself in Matthew 24:3-15 and I1 Thessalonians 2:3-9. Accompanying this would be persistent rumors that Christ's return has already taken place (II Thes. 2:1-2). Notice also Matthew 24:23-24. Do not be deceived! God's Word plainly says, "Watch therefore, FOR YE KNOW NEITHER THE DAY NOR THE HOUR WHEREIN THE SON OF MAN COMETH" (Matt. 25:13). This Work has never set an exact date for the return of Christ! After all, who are we to dictate to Christ when He must arrive on this earth? Though we cannot know at this time the precise day of the return of the Messiah, we can know the approximate time in history. We can watch the news of the world fulfill the specific and meticulous end-time prophecies of God's Word. When we see these prophecies being fulfilled (which they are!), we can also recognize the imminency of Christ's arrival. As John the Baptist prepared the way for the first coming of Jesus, this Work is preparing the way for His second arrival! (Mal. 4:5-6.)
What You Can Do
In the light of this most cataclysmic time in human history, many readers of TOMORROW'S WORLD have asked : "What can I do as an individual?" Watch world news. Study the prophecies of your Bible and observe their fulfillment every day in your newspaper (Luke 21:36). Realize that "... when ye shall see all these things, DOORS" (Matt. 24:33). Study the Ambassador College Correspondence Course. World news will come alive before your very eyes! Begin to be serious about your relationship with your Creator. Prove the Bible is His very inspired Word. Find out where God is working. And, finally, get involved! How? For a start, compare what you read in this magazine with what you read in your Bible. Then consider. Is this just another "sect"? Or is this the WORK OF THE LIVING GOD? You can prove it. Your eternity could depend on it! Your immediate future will surely depend on it. No, "Doomsday" — the end of the world — is not imminent! It will NEVER occur. This world and the race of man that inhabits it have a brilliant, glowing future! But only because a loving and compassionate Creator is waiting in the wings to save man. From KNOW THAT IT IS NEAR, EVEN AT THE himself. And soon!