“. . . and then the end will come.”—MATTHEW 24:14.
THERE seems to be no shortage of end-of-the-world scenarios. Books, movies, and magazines, ranging from the comic to the scientific, portray an assortment of doomsday catastrophes. They include annihilation by nuclear war, asteroid collision, deadly virus, runaway climate change, or invaders from outer space.
Religious views also vary; many teach that “the end” will bring an end to all life on earth. Commenting on Matthew 24:14, one theologian wrote these dire words: “This verse is one of the most important in all the Word of God . . . Our generation faces potential destruction of such total proportions that few of us try to envisage the awful reality.”
Such views usually overlook an important fact: Jehovah God “firmly established” the earth; he “did not create it simply for nothing, [but] formed it even to be inhabited.” (Isaiah 45:18) So when Jesus referred to “the end,” he did not mean that the earth would be destroyed; neither did he mean that humanity would be obliterated. He meant that the wicked—those who stubbornly refuse to live in harmony with Jehovah’s loving direction—would be destroyed.
Consider an illustration. Suppose you owned a beautiful home and allowed people to live in it for free. Some of the tenants lived peaceably with one another and took good care of your home. Others, however, made nothing but trouble, fought with one another, and abused the good tenants. They damaged your property and stubbornly refused to respond to your efforts to stop them.
What would you do to correct matters? Would you destroy your home? Not likely. You would probably evict the bad tenants and repair what damage had been done.
Jehovah will act in a similar manner. He inspired the psalmist to write: “Evildoers themselves will be cut off, but those hoping in Jehovah are the ones that will possess the earth. And just a little while longer, and the wicked one will be no more; and you will certainly give attention to his place, and he will not be. But the meek ones themselves will possess the earth, and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace.”—Psalm 37:9-11.
The apostle Peter spoke about the same subject. Under inspiration, he wrote: “There were heavens from of old and an earth standing compactly out of water and in the midst of water by the word of God, and by those means the world of that time suffered destruction when it was deluged with water.” (2 Peter 3:5, 6) Here the apostle refers to the Flood of Noah’s day. The world of ungodly people suffered destruction, but the earth was not destroyed. That global Deluge set “a pattern for ungodly persons of things to come.”—2 Peter 2:6.
Peter then added: “The heavens and the earth that are now are stored up for fire.” If we were to stop there, we might get the wrong idea. Note, though, that the verse goes on to say: “And of destruction of the ungodly men.” The destruction is not of the earth but of the ungodly. What follows? Peter wrote: “There are new heavens [God’s Messianic Kingdom] and a new earth [a righteous human society] that we are awaiting according to his promise, and in these righteousness is to dwell.”—2 Peter 3:7, 13.
Bible prophecy also shows that the time for “the end” to come is near. Read Matthew 24:3-14 and 2 Timothy 3:1-5 to see features that prove this to be true.
Does it strike you as curious that there is so much confusion about Matthew 24:14, a verse that even a child can understand? There are reasons for this. Satan has blinded people to the precious truths found in God’s Word. (2 Corinthians 4:4) Also, God has hidden his purposes from the haughty and has revealed them to humble ones. In this regard, Jesus said: “I publicly praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intellectual ones and have revealed them to babes.” (Matthew 11:25) What an honor it is to be among the humble ones who understand what the Kingdom of God really is and who can look forward to the blessings it will bring to all who support it!