It might be reasonably expected that the clergy of various denominations would be anxious to know and anxious to tell the people about the presence of the Lord, and would therefore joyfully receive any news concerning his presence. We find the facts to be just to the contrary, however, and we again notice that this is one of the evidences given by Jesus himself marking his second presence. He said: “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming [presence] of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming [presence] of the Son of man be.” (Matthew 24:37-39) Instead of these clergymen as a class joining in the proclamation, ’Behold the Bridegroom! the Lord has returned, the kingdom is at hand,’ they scoff and jeer, and if they say anything concerning the Lord’s second presence, even though they get all their information from what Pastor Russell wrote, they discredit him and mock and scoff at what he wrote or said. Of course the Lord foreknew this and therefore he caused the Apostle under inspiration to write: “There shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming [presence]? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation”. —2 Peter 3:3,4.
Jesus having taught his disciples concerning his second coming, and having informed them that the world would end at or during that time, they desired to know how they might be able to ascertain the fact of his presence and what would be the indication or proof of it to them or to any one. He was sitting on the side of the Mount of Olives when his disciples came to him privately and propounded the question: “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign [proof or indication] of thy presence, and of the end of the world?” (Matthew 24:3) The word world as here used does not mean the earth. The earth will never end or pass away, because “God himself that formed the earth and made it, he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited”. (Isaiah 45:18) “The earth abideth forever.”—Ecclesiastes 1:4.
The word world means the social and political order or rule governing the people. From Adam to the time of the great deluge was the first world or social order of government; which was under the administration of angels (Hebrews 2:5), and which passed away in a great flood, during which only Noah and his family, consisting in all of eight persons, were carried over from the old to the other or newer world, and were saved. (2 Peter 3:6; 1 Peter 3:20) There began with Noah and his family a new order or world, which in the time of the Apostle’s day and before that time had grown evil, and which he designated as “the present evil world”. (Galatians 1:4) The Apostle clearly shows that that world must pass away to make way for the new and righteous kingdom, which will rule and govern and bless the people.