Shortly before his death, Jesus was asked: “What will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?” (Matthew 24:3) Jesus specified conditions and events that would characterize the last days. Let us examine some of them.
“Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom.”—Matthew 24:7.
“The twentieth century—although generally one of social improvement and heightened governmental concern for the lives of the poor—has been dominated by the machine gun, the tank, the B-52, the nuclear bomb and, finally, the missile. It has been marked by wars more bloody and destructive than those of any other age.”—Milestones of History.
“Earthquakes in one place after another.”—Matthew 24:7.
During this century, earthquakes measuring from 7.5 to 8.3 on the Richter scale have been experienced in Chile, China, India, Iran, Italy, Japan, Peru, and Turkey.
“There will be fearful sights.”—Luke 21:11.
Because of frightening developments in recent years, fear is perhaps the biggest single emotion in people’s lives. People fear war, crime, pollution, disease, inflation, and many other things that threaten their security and their very lives.
“Food shortages.”—Matthew 24:7.
“Starvation Looms While Aid Groups Bicker,” announces a headline in New Scientist magazine. According to a former U.S. president, famine threatens to ravage the planet within two decades. “Despite such frightening forecasts,” the article notes, “the amount of aid rich countries are giving for agricultural development in developing countries is shrinking dramatically.”
“In one place after another pestilences.”—Luke 21:11.
According to a panel of experts, the U.S. government’s fight against AIDS—costing more than $500 million annually—has been called a dismal failure. “We’re losing a whole generation of productivity because of AIDS,” warns Dr. Donna Sweet, who works with some 200 to 300 patients. In the United States, AIDS is now the leading cause of death among men ages 25 to 44.
“Increasing of lawlessness.”—Matthew 24:12.
A U.S. survey of 2,500 youths revealed that 15 percent had carried a gun at some point during the previous 30 days, 11 percent had been shot at during the past year, and 9 percent had at some time fired a gun at another person.
WHAT LIES AHEAD?
As we have seen, mankind is far off course, far from a peaceful world. In terms of sheer magnitude, the above conditions are unprecedented. Indeed, the human family finds itself in unfamiliar territory. It is passing through an era called the last days.
What will come after this period?