With all the problems facing humanity, are we doomed to extinction, or will mankind survive into the future? If we survive, what does our future look like?
Questions about the fate of humanity cross most people’s minds from time to time. This may occur more frequently now that we see a deadly conflict going on between a nuclear power and one of its neighboring countries. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has raised the ugly specter of World War III and the use of nuclear weapons that would have horrible consequences for the survival of humanity.
If nuclear war breaks out, there are enough of these weapons to erase all life on earth multiple times over.
Other problems that may end human life on earth
Added to the prospect of a nuclear war are the problems humanity faces with biological and chemical weapons, climate change, famine, monetary failure, overpopulation, asteroid strikes and disease epidemics. Keep in mind how devastating humanity’s recent bout with the COVID-19 pandemic has been.
Is it any wonder that in 2020 a group of atomic scientists set their Doomsday Clock to 100 seconds before midnight? Midnight signifies the end of human life on earth.
What about the emergence of artificial intelligence (AI)? Will machines take over as in the Terminator movies and hunt us to extinction?
Such scenarios do not bode well for human survival.
Others believe humanity will survive
Of course, not all predictions about the future of humanity are gloom and doom. There are those who believe our future is a bright one. After all, they think, humans will evolve into a more peaceful species. They speculate that science and technology will solve all of our current problems.
For instance, transhumanism is a movement seeking to bring about human-enhancement technologies that will “augment or increase human sensory reception, emotive ability, or cognitive capacity as well as radically improve human health and extend human life spans. Such modifications resulting from the addition of biological or physical technologies would be more or less permanent and integrated into the human body” (Britannica.com, “transhumanism”).
Essentially these beliefs predict that humanity will finally create a utopia. There will be happiness, peace and prosperity for all, and humanity will go on to survive and thrive.
What do those who are spiritual believe about humanity’s future?
Many of those who are religious or spiritual see humanity surviving in different ways. They believe that those who live a “good” life will go to heaven, paradise or nirvana, or will become one with the universe after they die. Many believe that those who live a “bad” life will end up in a place of eternal torture after their death.
In many belief systems it is not our human form that ends up in these places, but our “soul.” So the belief is that our body dies and our “soul” goes on to another existence for eternity. This is an existence that could be wondrous, torturous or uneventful, depending on where the “soul” ends up.
In these views we do not survive as humans, but as some type of spiritual entity.
Can we know the future of humanity?
In summary, whether viewed from a secular or a spiritual point of view, humanity faces a bright future, a dismal future or extinction.
Can we know for sure what is in store for humanity? Will the human species become extinct, or will it survive and thrive?
The answers to these questions can be found in the book inspired by the Creator of the universe and all living things in it—the Bible. The Bible claims to be the inspired Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16). The Bible provides us with a view of the future of mankind. It’s a future that begins with very horrible circumstances, but has a mind-boggling, awesome ending.
Let’s establish a couple of facts about the Creator God before examining what the future holds for humanity. First, God knows how the future will unfold. Isaiah 46:10 says that God declares “the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure.’”
Another fact we should understand about God is that He cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18; Titus 1:2).
So, God knows what the future holds for mankind, and His plan for humanity will come to pass as He says it will.
God wants to expand His family
God’s plan for mankind was determined before “the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4). It is God the Father and Jesus Christ’s desire to expand Their spiritual family—the God family. God determined that the best way to develop a spiritual being with the qualities that God possesses was to create a physical being with a mortal life in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:26-27).
If you continue reading in Genesis 1, you find that humanity was different from the animal kingdom. Humans were given dominion over the animals (verse 28). We have the ability to be emotional, reason, create, communicate and think. We also have free moral agency—the ability to choose or decide the outcome of our future (Deuteronomy 30:19). Giving humans free choice was the best possible way for God to develop His character in people, since righteous character cannot be created by fiat.
God provided humanity with the ability to live a life that can allow us to develop righteous character and bring us into the family of God. To become members of the family of God, humans need to be transformed into spirit beings possessing eternal life.
Unfortunately, beginning with Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:1-6), humanity has chosen to disobey God. This is the way that leads to destruction and death from which we need salvation. Without God’s intervention and salvation, humanity would become extinct (Matthew 24:22).
God’s plan of salvation
From the beginning, under the influence of Satan, humans have chosen to do things their way and not God’s way. They have walked away from God because their way seems right to them (Proverbs 14:12; 16:25). Mankind has basically said, “I’ll do it my way.” What has this attitude done for humanity? History shows a terrible record of human heartache, sorrow, war, tragedy, suffering and death.
God knew this would happen, so He designed a plan that would save humanity from itself and from Satan.
There are several ways to explore this plan in the Bible. (For example, see our booklets How to Understand Prophecy and God’s Purpose for You: Discovering Why You Were Born.)
One of the most meaningful ways is through rehearsing God’s plan each year. You see, the plan of salvation God designed was foreshadowed in the seven feasts He gave in Leviticus 23. Each festival represents a step in the salvation process. The first three steps, represented by the first three festivals, have already begun, preparing for the last four, which show the future of humanity.
Passover: Jesus Christ, the Savior of humanity
The first step in the process of salvation is to recognize that we have sinned (broken God’s holy and perfect law, 1 John 3:4) and that we need God to forgive us of our sins. If our sins are not forgiven, then we will die (Romans 6:23).
“Without shedding of blood there is no remission [of sin]” (Hebrews 9:22), so we must also recognize that Christ gave His life to pay the death penalty for humanity. Christ’s life was perfect, and His sacrifice made it possible for human sin to be forgiven (Hebrews 9:26; 10:12). Without His sacrifice, humanity would have no future!
Christians who observe Passover each year are reminded that they need the complete sacrifice of Christ to be reconciled to God. It renews their commitment to God to live by His way of life so that they may be in the family of God.
Feast of Unleavened Bread: Living a godly way of life develops righteous character
Once we recognize that we have sinned against God and once we accept Christ as our Savior, then we must repent of our sins (change the direction of our life) and live a life that demonstrates repentance (Matthew 3:8). Such a life would be a changed life—a godly life of striving to avoid sin and obey God.
In the Bible, leaven represents sin, and unleavened bread represents a life without sin (1 Corinthians 5:6-8). This second step in the process of salvation is the way we develop the righteous character of God needed to become members of His family.
Pentecost: A helper is provided and the harvest of the firstfruits of God’s family
Throughout humanity’s time on this earth, Satan has been the ruler of the world. He has blinded humans from understanding God’s way (2 Corinthians 4:4). Satan is a formidable opponent that all humans have to deal with.
Add to this our human nature, which, under Satan’s influence, becomes actively opposed to God (Romans 8:6-7), and one begins to understand why it is so difficult for humans to develop the character of God.
Peter’s sermon on Pentecost gave an overview of the answer.
God provides help for developing righteous character to those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior, repented of their past sins and have been baptized (Acts 2:38). The help that God provides is His Holy Spirit, which, Peter explained, is given to a person upon baptism.
The Holy Spirit comforts, guides and leads a person in the path of righteousness. The receiving of the Holy Spirit is the third step in God’s plan of salvation.
Pentecost also represents the harvest of the firstfruits of God’s family. These are the comparatively few people who have received God’s calling in this age and have committed their lives to serving and obeying God. This group will have an important role in the future of humanity.
These first three steps in the process of salvation provide the roadmap to an individual’s salvation. The next four steps are a road map to the salvation of all of mankind.
Where is humanity headed without God?
Matthew 24 is a prophetic chapter that paints a very dismal picture of where humanity is headed without God. The disciples asked Jesus what would be the sign of His return and the end of this age (verse 3).
Jesus began by informing the disciples that there would be religious deception (Matthew 24:4-5; Revelation 6:2), war (Matthew 24:6-7; Revelation 6:3-4), famine (Matthew 24:7; Revelation 6:5-6), pestilence (Matthew 24:7; Revelation 6:7-8) and earthquakes (Matthew 24:7). These difficulties have always plagued humanity, but they will increase in the end times.
Jesus indicated these would be only the beginning of sorrows (verse 8).
In verse 21 we find that all the events listed before will lead to a time of trouble that humanity has never experienced before and will never experience again. This short period is known as the Great Tribulation, and if God does not intervene, no living thing would survive (verse 22).
But the end of Matthew 24:22 tells us that God will intervene and cut short the Great Tribulation for the sake of His elect. This leads to the fourth step in God’s plan of salvation and the beginning of the salvation of all mankind.
Feast of Trumpets: Christ returns to set up the Kingdom of God and save humanity
To save mankind from extinction, God will send Christ back to this earth. Christ will return as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords to replace Satan as the ruler of this earth. This time period is known as the Day of the Lord. It will begin with a terrible time of human suffering and death as humanity fights against Christ, who will come to establish the Kingdom of God on earth (Amos 5:18-20; Joel 2:1-3, 11). Revelation chapters 14-18 describe the events that will occur during the end-time Day of Lord.
The second coming of Christ, the fourth step in the salvation of humanity, will begin a new era in the history of humans.
Day of Atonement: The instigator of human suffering removed
But there is one more roadblock that must be removed before humanity transitions into the Kingdom of God on earth. The root cause of human problems since the beginning will be removed from the scene. Satan will be bound for a thousand years, unable to influence and deceive humanity (Revelation 20:1-3).
The removal of Satan means that those living during the 1,000-year reign of Christ will only have to contend with their human nature in their struggle to build righteous character and enter the God family. The shroud of darkness that engulfed humanity will be lifted, and the light of God’s way will shine on mankind, giving them the hope they have been seeking throughout history. This is the fifth step in the salvation of humanity.
Feast of Tabernacles: Utopia at last
Those humans who survive the Great Tribulation and the events of the Day of the Lord will begin a new chapter in the history of humanity. The Kingdom of God will be instituted, and the old ways of mankind will be removed. The new government will be headed by Jesus Christ and administered by the elect of God. This government will expand throughout the earth and bring peace (Isaiah 9:6-7). It will be a government of right judgment and justice (Psalm 9:7-8).
This 1,000-year period will be an unprecedented time of peace, happiness and prosperity. The deserts will become fertile (Isaiah 35:1-2), adding to the agricultural capacity of the earth. War will become obsolete, so the instruments of war will be made into implements of agriculture (Isaiah 2:4). The climate and the fertility of the ground during this time will provide bountiful harvests (Amos 9:13).
Crime will be drastically reduced, which will allow children to play in the streets as their grandparents watch them (Zechariah 8:4-5).
Utopia will finally come to mankind under the government of God for a thousand years. During this time, which constitutes the sixth step in God’s plan of salvation, humans will be busy developing righteous character and working to prepare the earth for the resurrection of billions of people in the next step of the plan.
The Last Great Day: Salvation for all who desire it
Finally, God will offer salvation to all the billions of people who never had their chance at obtaining salvation (Revelation 20:11-13). The rest of the dead, as they are called in verse 5, will be resurrected to a second physical life (Ezekiel 37) and given time to develop righteous character so that they may enter the family of God as well.
Sadly, there will be another category of people who neglected to take advantage of their chance at salvation. Those people throughout human history who knew God’s plan yet knowingly refused to live God’s way of life will not be in the family of God (Revelation 20:14-15; 21:8). They will not obtain eternal life, but will be consumed in the fire that burns the earth at the end of this judgment period (2 Peter 3:10). They will experience the second death, never to live again.
However, all those who will have developed righteous character will then be members of the God family. They will have been changed from mortal flesh to eternal spirit beings. God the Father will then bring the New Jerusalem to earth and dwell with His spiritual family (Revelation 21:1-3).
At this juncture, physical humanity will have been transformed. All those alive will be eternal spirit beings. All the human suffering will be gone. There will be no more crying, dying, sorrow or pain (verse 4).
What a wonderful future God has in store for you, me and all of humanity!
What will you do? Will you choose eternal life or eternal death? God the Creator urges you to choose life (Deuteronomy 30:19).