[The text below represents an edited transcript of this Tomorrow’s World program.]
Hiroshima and the Beginning of the Atomic Age
August 6, 2020, marked the 75th anniversary of one of the most dramatic events in human history: The dropping of the atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. That tragedy signified not only the coming end of a terrible and destructive war, but also a new phase in the fulfillment of Bible prophecies.
Join us now on Tomorrow’s World as we look at Hiroshima, 75 years later.
Astonishing Destructive Power to Destroy Mankind
Greetings, and welcome to another edition of Tomorrow’s World. I’m glad you’re here.
Today we are going back to the bombing of Hiroshima, three-quarters of a century ago. We’re going to examine the implications of that event in Bible prophecy--and we’re going to look at how developments since Hiroshima contribute to the picture.
We will pause occasionally to give you the opportunity to request today’s free DVD, “Escape the Great Tribulation.” Be sure to note the contact information on your screen so you can get your free copy.
The years since World War II continue to fly by, and few remember its details. But the details are important. If you were there in September of 1939, you’d see Germany’s invasion of Poland. And you’d see Poland resisting, with soldiers on horseback--commanding multiple cavalries in their nation’s defense. Fast forward to the FINAL military actions of the war, and you would see the mushroom clouds of atomic explosions over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
In only SIX YEARS, mankind progressed from warring on horseback, as it had done for millennia, to unleashing the power of the atom in a single, horrific weapon, capable of desolating entire cities in an instant. It’s hard to think of a more astonishing example of humanity’s capacity to grow in wreaking death, havoc, and destruction on itself.
Hiroshima represented a terrible turning point.
Of course, as long as man has explored science, he has used his discoveries to invent new ways to kill his fellow man--and the atomic bomb that devastated Hiroshima was a weapon unlike any other that man had ever unleashed. Code-named “Little Boy” by its creators, the atomic bomb took advantage of Einstein’s discovery of the equivalence of matter and energy. That is, matter can be converted into energy and energy can be converted into matter. In the case of Little Boy, the bomb contained 64 kilograms of uranium-235--a radioactive element the bomb mechanism could use to create a chain reaction, causing some of the atoms to split into smaller atoms in a matter of milliseconds. The splitting of these atoms converted some of the matter into energy, releasing the same destructive power as 16,000 TONS of TNT.
Surprisingly, the amount of converted matter needed to produce such a blast was equivalent to less than a single paperclip.
But what a blast it was. Almost all city structures within a mile radius of ground zero were completely destroyed--many by the initial blast, and others by the resulting firestorm that covered more than four square miles.
For various reasons, the numbers are hard to fix. But estimates of the number killed instantly in Hiroshima lie in the neighborhood of 70 to 80,000 people, with tens of thousands more dying in the weeks to come from radiation, burns, and injuries.
After the Hiroshima bombing, President Harry Truman addressed the American people, explaining, concerning the Japanese, “If they do not now accept our terms, they may expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth”
When no surrender came, another bomb was dropped on the Japanese city of Nagasaki three days later, and another 40 to 80,000 deaths were added to the toll. Five days afterward, the Japanese surrendered unconditionally.
Mankind had tapped into some of the most primal forces of nature and unleashed them in the most destructive of ways.
The two attacks themselves do not figure into prophecy beyond how the events of World War II reconfigured world powers. However, the events of Hiroshima and Nagasaki do have prophetic significance that should not be overlooked.
In Matthew 24, Jesus Christ tells of a time still ahead of us, but not TOO far ahead of us, in which civilization takes a dark turn. After warning Christians to pray for God’s help in the time to come, He says,
“For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect's sake those days will be shortened.” [vv. 21–22]
Note that. Jesus said that there would come a time unique in all of human history, involving “great tribulation.” How bad would things get? Again, He says in verse 22 that “…unless those days were shortened, NO FLESH WOULD BE SAVED….”
Until August 6, 1945, it might have been hard for the public to imagine conflict, warfare, and weapons so devastating that they would have the potential to wipe out ALL LIVING THINGS, such that “NO FLESH WOULD BE SAVED.” But after the bombing of Hiroshima, that verse--and that prophecy--began to take on new possibilities.
Human self-annihilation suddenly seemed not so hard to imagine.
But the story does not stop there. Now that the powers of the atom were unleashed, they would not be caged again. Soon, the largest and deadliest weapons ever wielded in warfare would become relative child’s play.
Nuclear Proliferation and the Race to Annihilation
In creating atomic weapons, man had learned to direct some of the most fundamental forces of nature toward destroying his fellow man.
But even then, mankind was not satisfied with the level of destruction it had attained. The 75 years that have followed the destruction of those cities saw an escalation of destructive power that boggles the mind--and makes prophetic fulfillment that much easier to believe.
Not content to allow the United States sole possession of the most devastating weapon in existence, four years after Hiroshima the Soviet Union tested its own atomic weapon, named “First Lightning”--though called “Joe-1” by the U.S., after Joseph Stalin. Soon afterward the race was on, as the United States and the Soviet Union superpowers sought to create increasingly powerful weapons over the course of the Cold War to ensure that their enemy did not get the upper hand.
While atomic weapons generated their destructive power through fission, splitting atoms into smaller atoms, even greater power was available through FUSION--combining two atoms into one. This is the very process that powers the sun above our heads! A fusion-based nuclear weapon--called a thermonuclear bomb, or “hydrogen bomb”--carried the capacity to be far more powerful than its simpler progenitors. And both the U.S. and the Soviet Union raced to develop the most plentiful stockpile of the most powerful bombs.
Consider the scale of these evolving weapons.
The atomic bomb the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 had the power of about 16 kilotons of TNT, generating a mushroom cloud that extended a little more than 11 miles upward. In 1952, the U.S. tested Ivy Mike--its first fusion-based thermonuclear, hydrogen bomb. Ivy Mike yielded an explosion of around 10 MEGAtons of TNT. That would be 10 Million tons of TNT. It was followed in 1954 by a test of Castle Bravo, which yielded an explosion equal to 15 megatons of TNT. That’s almost 1,000 TIMES STRONGER than the weapon dropped on Hiroshima! The Castle Bravo mushroom cloud reached about 25 miles, or 40 kilometers into the air.
Not to be outdone, in October 1961, the Soviet Union tested a thermonuclear weapon they dubbed Ivan, or Vanya, though in the West it has been referred to simply as Tsar Bomba. The source of the largest man-made explosion in human history, Tsar Bomba yielded an explosive force of 50 megatons of TNT! That’s more than 3,000 times stronger than the bomb that obliterated Hiroshima! In fact, the DESIGN of Tsar Bomba was intended for a 100-megaton blast, and it was only detonated at half of its power.
The mushroom cloud formed by Tsar Bomba reached more than 40 MILES into the atmosphere--a testimony to the forces man was learning to unleash.
At their peaks, the United States commanded an arsenal of about 31,255 nuclear warheads, and the Soviet Union, about 45,000.
And each side was prepared to use them. Gerald Weston, Executive Producer of Tomorrow’s World, wrote a fascinating article for the March-April 2020 Tomorrow’s World magazine in which he detailed just how close the Cold War came to an all-out nuclear exchange of nightmare proportions. In that article, he provides details about the United States’ Single Integrated Operational Plan, or SIOP, in which, responding to a nuclear attack from the Soviets, the U. S. would fire EVERY weapon at its disposal, in an effort to destroy the Soviet Union, China, and certain other Communist nations in one, single strike. His article can be read online at TomorrowsWorld.org, and it is a thrilling read.
But our journey from Hiroshima hardly stops there. See, the laws of physics don’t just work in two competing nations. They work everywhere. And once how to unleash the atom’s destructive power was clear, MANY nations wanted in on the game.
In July 2019, the Arms Control Association reported on the estimated nuclear arsenal of nine nations:
- (The) United States: 6,185 (warheads)
- (The) United Kingdom: 200
- France: 300
- Israel: 90
- Pakistan: 160
- India: 140
- Russia: 6,490
- China: 290
- (and) North Korea: 30
(“Nuclear weapons: Who Has What At A Glance,” Arms Control Association, ArmsControl.org/factsheets, July, 2019).
This list does not include nations such as Iran and others who have either expressed interest in nuclear weapons programs or who are suspected of having such programs.
These weapons, so horrific in their ability to destroy human life, are now in the hands of multiple governments with multiple motives. The more nations possess them, the higher the risk that they WILL be used--whether purposefully or accidentally.
AND the higher the risk that OTHER factions will get their hands on them. Some of these nations are suspected of dealing with terrorist organizations, who only need material and opportunity to develop their own weapons.
With the ability of rogue agents to create a nuclear device and set it off in a major metropolitan area--or even a so-called “dirty bomb” that does not destroy buildings, but spreads deadly radiation--the odds of a future nuclear event seem only to increase.
One would think that the ability to devastate entire cities in a single attack, let alone the ability to launch hundreds, or even thousands of such attacks at once, would satisfy humanity’s desire to be capable of causing damage, but it does not. And prophecy offers some insight into what sorts of attacks we may see in the future. We will look at that in our next segment.
War and Devastation on a Prophetic Scale
In our last segment we talked about the massive proliferation of nuclear weapons in the world and the raw destructive power they represent. And someone reading Bible prophecy would have to admit that the devastation wrought by nuclear weapons such as those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki correspond well to biblical descriptions of prophesied destruction.
Consider God’s warning to various nations today, such as Great Britain, the United States, and other British-descended nations, recorded in Ezekiel 6 and verse 6:
“In all your dwelling places the cities shall be laid waste, and the high places shall be desolate, so that your altars may be laid waste and made desolate, your idols may be broken and made to cease, your incense altars may be cut down, and your works may be abolished.”
He says similarly in chapter 12 and verse 20,
“Then the cities that are inhabited shall be laid waste, and the land shall become desolate; and you shall know that I am the LORD.”
It is noteworthy that nuclear strikes have the capacity to not only lay waste to entire cities, but also to render areas uninhabitable for a time due to radioactivity. And Revelation chapter 9 speaks of an exchange between two armies involving fire, smoke, and brimstone that will contribute to the killing of one-third of mankind. [vv. 17–18] One cannot help but note similarities between elements of these descriptions and an exchange of nuclear weaponry.
Still, why limit our consideration to nuclear weaponry? Far from being SATISFIED with “nuking” each other back to the stone age, mankind has continued to invent ever more terrible ways to kill during the 75 years since Hiroshima. When it comes to the desire to destroy his fellow man, man’s imagination knows virtually no limits.
Consider CHEMICAL weapons. The use of chemicals in warfare has a long history, but as man advances scientifically and technologically, so does his ability to create and disseminate these terrible weapons. Nerve agents can kill or permanently damage by attacking individuals’ nervous systems in horrific and painful ways. Other chemicals have the ability to blind, maim, burn the lungs, or horribly disfigure the body.
Consider BIOLOGICAL weapons, as well.The bacteria responsible for anthrax--capable of causing terrible blisters, fever, and pain--has been used in conflicts before, including terrorist attacks in the United States in 2001 that killed five people. Now, with the ability to manipulate organisms at the level of DNA, biological weapons look poised to be a formidable source of death and suffering.
And compare these, too, to prophecies of the days ahead of us. In Revelation 9, Jesus inspires John to write of weapons that will torment men, but not necessarily kill them:
“And they were not given authority to kill them, but to torment them for five months. Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man. In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them.” [vv. 5–6]
And the fourth of the famous Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, described in Revelation 6, symbolizes disease and pestilence, which contribute to the death of one-fourth of mankind during events that include the Great Tribulation. [Revelation 6:8]
Could chemical or biological weaponry play a role in these future plagues and sufferings? Only time will tell.
What we DO know is serious enough. Let’s return to Jesus’ statement about the Great Tribulation in Matthew 24. There, He says, “For then there will be great tribulation, SUCH AS HAS NOT BEEN SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE WORLD UNTIL THIS TIME, NO, NOR EVER SHALL BE.” [v. 21]
We MUST pay attention to this! Jesus Christ, the Savior, the Son of God, is GUARANTEEING TO US that there is a time of suffering coming that is so deadly and destructive there has NEVER BEEN A TIME LIKE IT, nor will there EVER BE ONE AGAIN!
Do we understand what that means? That means worse than the Holocaust of World War II. Worse than Hiroshima. Worse than Nagasaki. Worse than the Killing Fields of the Khmer Rouge. Worse than the purges, mass murders, and forced starvation under Joseph Stalin. Man will inflict on himself suffering, pain, and warfare that will dwarf these other circumstances.
Yes, it is easy to imagine that we have become more civilized in the 75 years since Hiroshima. But truth be told, we are no more civilized now than we were then. And mankind is poised to do to the entire world what it once did to two Japanese cities in 1945.
But, if this is, indeed, prophesied to happen, is there anything we can DO about it? Am I, are you, just fated to have to endure these things? Or can we save our lives--our children’s lives? Can we escape from what’s coming?
YES WE CAN! And we will discuss HOW in the last, brief segment of our program.
Mankind’s Savior Saves us from OURSELVES
We began our discussion today with the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, just over 75 years ago now. Civilization still debates whether the bombing of those two cities was justified or not. Yet there is NO debate that our capacity to cause death and destruction has only grown over those 75 years, to the point that Hiroshima and Nagasaki look small and tame by comparison to the suffering we can cause now.
And prophecy guarantees us that a time is coming when the suffering mankind inflicts upon itself--through warfare, violence, destruction, pestilence, and disease--will be the worst it has ever been in the entirety of human history--a time when, unless God intervenes, Jesus says NO FLESH shall be saved alive.
What can we do as such events rush toward us, full tilt, with the winds of prophecy at their backs?
Thankfully, Jesus didn’t simply foretell the future. He also taught us what to do about it.
In Luke 21, Jesus tells us to watch the times in which we live--and to watch ourselves--and to act:
“Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” [v. 36]
He describes those who fall short of being worthy in many passages, such as Luke 6:46, asking us,
“Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?”
And His apostle John elaborates, telling us in 1 John 2:4 that
“He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”
The answer isn’t a bomb shelter or moving away from civilization, physically prepping for “doomsday.” The way to prepare for the times ahead, and be counted worthy by God to escape these things, is simply to repent. To watch the times we are in, watch ourselves, and commit our lives to obeying God and His commandments under Jesus Christ. And to whatever extent you want to do those things, we here at Tomorrow’s World are ready to help.
That includes sending you today’s free DVD, “Escape the Great Tribulation,” so don’t forget to order your copy!
And don’t forget to join us again next week. Gerald Weston, Richard Ames, Rod McNair, and I will be right here, ready to share with you the Good News of God’s coming Kingdom, the teachings of Jesus Christ, and the vital prophecies of Tomorrow’s World. See you here next time.