Jesus famously warned that prior to His Second Coming, “nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom” (Matthew 24:1–7). Centuries earlier, God warned through Isaiah that at the end of the age, “As for My people, children are their oppressors…” (Isaiah 3:12). These two prophecies are profoundly related. Furthermore, there is a sobering connection between these two warnings and the “flash mob” violence that has raged from London to Philadelphia!
Matthew 24:7 mentions kingdoms and nations in conflict. The word translated “kingdom” is basileia, and usually refers to a state or national power. For example, in Jesus’ day, the Roman Empire was a “basileia.” The Kingdom of God, which Jesus Christ will establish on this earth, will be a perfect and worldwide basileia (cf. Matthew 6:33; Acts 14:22; Revelation 11:15). Jesus clearly warned that basileia would rise up in conflict with each other at the end of the age.
However, in this warning, Jesus also used another word, typically translated as “nation.” In New Testament Greek, this word is ethnos, and it has an interesting etymology. Ethnos can mean a “group” of people (like a mob). It can also mean a nationality or ethnicity. Ethnos is not pejorative, and does not describe any particular ethnic group. In fact, Christ wants the Gospel to be preached to all ethnos (Matthew 24:14)—and all ethnos will be blessed in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 22:2). However, in today’s headlines, we are seeing increasing ethnos violence, manifesting as “flash mobs,” general civil disobedience and thuggery.
Not only are “flash mobs” a London phenomenon; in the U.S., they have been seen frequently in the city of Philadelphia, where mobs “for the past two summers” have been organizing via cell phones and social networks, much like those marauding through the streets of British cities (The New York Times, August 17, 2011). These Philadelphia gangs will rapidly descend on stores and citizens, robbing, looting and often assaulting others (CNN.com, August 16, 2011). In England, earlier this month, rioting and looting rampaged for nearly a week, beginning in London and rapidly spreading to areas from Manchester to Leicester. British police have arrested nearly 1,800 so far, but the government predicts it will convict more than 3,000 (BBCNews.com, August 17, 2011).
Many factors are contributing to increasing lawlessness, such as a culture that shamefully glamorizes violence, murder, theft and even sometimes rape in movies, music and video games; children raised with little or no parental training to respect others; and socio-economic disparity. The root problem, however, is even more fundamental. Isaiah 3:12 has a dual meaning. When so many of our “leaders” (whether in the entertainment or sports industries, or in local neighborhoods and cities) are hedonistic and morally adrift, then the entire society—especially its easily influenced young people—becomes debased.
Thankfully, God’s word reveals the solution! Proverbs 29:17 promises, “Correct your son, and he will give you rest. Yes, he will give delight to your soul.” Too often, our “youth” are not giving rest or delight to society. Instead, actual children are often participating in heinous and premeditated crimes! But, a time is coming when the streets will never again be full of “flash mobs” or roaming gangs of violent youth. A time is coming with the leaders in society will lead according to God’s laws (Isaiah 30:21)! Then, the streets will be safe for young and old alike (Zechariah 8:4–5). Then, God’s laws will be loved and taught throughout the earth (Isaiah 2:3; Micah 4:2)! The root cause of the problem today is an abandonment of God’s laws! And the ultimate solution is the soon-coming Kingdom of God, ruled by God’s righteous laws!
To better understand what is happening in our world today, please watch our recent Tomorrow’s World telecast, “End-Time Prophetic Events.” And, to better understand the vital role of parents and the family, please read our booklet, Successful Parenting: God’s Way.