The end of this wicked system will come in what is called “the great tribulation.” (Rev. 7:14) The Bible does not tell us how long that will last, but Jesus said: “Then there will be great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world’s beginning until now, no, nor will occur again.” (Matt. 24:21)
When we consider the tribulation that this world has already experienced, such as in World War II when an estimated 50 to 60 million lives were lost, the coming great tribulation will be very severe indeed. It will reach its climax in the battle of Armageddon. That is when Jehovah will unleash his executional forces to destroy every vestige of Satan’s earthly system.—Rev. 16:14, 16.
Bible prophecy does not give a date for the first phase of the great tribulation to begin, though it does tell us what extraordinary event will signal its start. That event is the destruction of all false religion by the political powers. In Bible prophecies found in Revelation chapters 17 and 18, false religion is likened to a harlot who has had immoral intercourse with the political systems of the earth. Revelation 17:16 shows that the time will soon come when these political elements “will hate the harlot and will make her devastated and naked, and will eat up her fleshy parts and will completely burn her with fire.”
When the time comes for that to happen, God will “put it into their [the political rulers’] hearts to carry out his thought” to destroy all false religion. (Rev. 17:17) So this destruction can be said to come from God. It is his judgment against hypocritical religion that for so long has taught doctrines contrary to God’s will and that has persecuted his servants. The world in general does not anticipate this coming destruction of false religion. But Jehovah’s faithful servants do. And throughout these last days, they have been telling people about it.
It will be a great shock for people to see false religion destroyed. Bible prophecy shows that even some of “the kings of the earth” are going to declare regarding that destruction: “Too bad, too bad, . . . because in one hour your judgment has arrived!” (Rev. 18:9, 10, 16, 19) The Bible’s use of the words “one hour” shows that this event will take place relatively swiftly.
We understand that some time after false religion has been destroyed, there will be an attack on Jehovah’s servants, who have been proclaiming his judgment messages. (Ezek. 38:14-16) When that attack begins, the attackers will have to confront Jehovah, who promises to protect his faithful people. Jehovah declares: “In my ardor, in the fire of my fury, I shall have to speak. . . . And they will have to know that I am Jehovah.” (Read Ezekiel 38:18-23.)
God states in his Word: “He that is touching you [his faithful servants] is touching my eyeball.” (Zech. 2:8) So when his enemies begin their global assault on his servants, Jehovah will respond. He will move into action, which will lead to the final phase of the great tribulation—its Armageddon climax. Under Christ’s command, powerful angelic forces will execute Jehovah’s judgments against Satan’s world.