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Are we on a path to inevitable catastrophes that will bring our civilization to an end? The prophecies of your Bible have the answer!
Are we on a path to inevitable nuclear, chemical, biological, political, military and societal catastrophes that will bring our civilization to an end? Your Bible has the answer!
Scientists a generation ago feared "global cooling" and the end of civilization in a massive new ice age. Today, climate fears have shifted toward global warming. Many of you have lived through a violent natural event like an earthquake or hurricane, or even now live in a region where experts say "The Big One" may soon bring devastation to millions. Some of you reading this may have grown up during the "Cold War" years when "Mutual Assured Destruction" was the fear—that the vast nuclear arsenals of the United States and the USSR would not actually keep the world safe but would tempt some madman into provoking planetary cosmocide.
You might remember the movie Dr. Strangelove, which tried to find comedy in that horrific scenario. More recently, you may have seen one of the many Hollywood "blockbusters" that have portrayed our planet's destruction by an asteroid, a comet, a global plague or a "nuclear winter" following World War III. The movie industry often describes such films as "apocalyptic." But why? The term comes from the Greek word apocalupsis, which means "uncovering" or "revealing." That is the Greek title of the Bible's book of Revelation, which is also called "The Apocalypse" in some older English-language versions.
The book of Revelation describes a great war that many refer to as "Armageddon." But will there really be a "Battle of Armageddon"? Will planet Earth be destroyed? Will mankind succeed in destroying itself? Your Bible has the answer to that vital question!
The greatest newscaster and prophet who ever lived, Jesus of Nazareth, was asked about the end of the world by His disciples: "And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" (Matthew 24:3, KJV).
The Yellowstone Caldera is a supervolcano that sits beneath the Yellowstone National Park, ranging across 1,500 square miles in northwest Wyoming and part of the geology that powers the park's many geysers and hot springs. Many geologists expect it to erupt sometime within the next 10,000 years. Yet there has recently been an increase in seismic activity near the caldera. Scientists warn that if the caldera were to erupt at full intensity, it would spread volcanic ash several inches deep across most of the western United States. Farming would be devastated and an effect much like a "nuclear winter" would affect climate for a decade or more. Should we be afraid?
Earthquakes are an ongoing concern around the globe. Are they becoming more frequent, or is it simply that with growing populations an earthquake of the same intensity may have far more severe effects than in previous centuries? Some giant earthquakes can be so severe as to affect our planet's movement through space: along with its astronomical death toll—surpassing 200,000—the 2004 magnitude 9.1 quake in Sumatra actually slowed Earth's rotation by about three microseconds! Others simply spread death and devastation; we remember the 2010 quake in Haiti that according to Haitian government records cost more than 300,000 Haitian lives and left more than a million people homeless. And the financial effect of an earthquake can be momentous. The island nation of Japan has very effective safety systems that kept the death toll below 16,000 in the deadly 2011 Tohoku disaster, yet property damage from the 9.0 quake and resulting tsunami was estimated in excess of $230 billion!
Will natural disasters intensify? Will regional wars increase until there is a World War III and Armageddon? What does Bible prophecy reveal about the future? Your Bible reveals the future of the world. More than one-quarter of your Bible is prophecy. So we should take heed to what Jesus said when His disciples asked Him, "What shall be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" (Matthew 24:3). This is His answer: "Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows" (Matthew 24:4–8).
Critics may say, "There have always been wars and natural disasters." That is true, and it should tell you something: those wars were caused by human beings, and human nature has not changed to bring about lasting world peace! It has been said that every time mankind discovers some new tool or technology, we will find a way to use it for evil purposes. Whether it is fire, gunpowder or nuclear fission, the constant truth of human progress has been that human beings keep advancing with newer and more efficient ways to kill each other in ever-larger numbers.
Any glance at human history should teach us that after two world wars, and many regional wars since, that we are headed for total global disaster. In August 2015, the nation of Japan remembered the 70th anniversary of two atomic bombs that virtually vaporized the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki—killing and painfully injuring hundreds of thousands of individuals, and ushering mankind into the age of atomic and nuclear weaponry. How far have we come in the 70 years that followed?
On January 22, 2015, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists moved the minute-hand of their symbolic doomsday clock two minutes forward to "three minutes to midnight." The scientists made this sobering announcement: "In 2015, unchecked climate change, global nuclear weapons modernizations, and outsized nuclear weapons arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity, and world leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe. These failures of political leadership endanger every person on Earth."
Is there any hope for the future? Bible prophecy reveals that an Armageddon will affect the whole world! Yes, we will experience a World War III. But there is good news. We thank God that the greatest prophet who ever lived, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, will intervene and save us from ourselves. He warned us: "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" (Matthew 24:21–22).
Yes, those days will be shortened! Jesus Christ will come to save the world from total cosmocide and annihilation! He will establish a new world government that will usher in a true millennium of peace and prosperity among nations.
Consider, again, the threat of nuclear war that has been with us for more than 70 years. Those two bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 exploded with the force of 15 and 20 thousand tons of TNT, respectively, and completely obliterated both cities, turning them into wastelands! With temperatures above ten thousand degrees Fahrenheit and lethal radiation, more than 100,000 people were killed instantly, and another hundred thousand or more died in the next few days from the effects of the two bombings.
These two nuclear bombs ended World War II. But have the world's nations, statesmen, and leaders found the way to lasting peace? The nation of Japan surrendered unconditionally, ending World War II. In his victory broadcast from the USS Missouri, General Douglas MacArthur summarized the historic lesson of war. Gen. MacArthur repeated these words in his farewell address to Congress on April 19, 1951. "Military alliances, balances of power, leagues of nations, all in turn failed, leaving the only path to be the way of the crucible of war. The utter destructiveness of war now blocks out this alternative. We have had our last chance. If we will not devise some greater and more equitable system, our Armageddon will be at our door."
Yes, our "Armageddon" will be at our door. Will you be prepared for it? Who will win World War III? Will another military power arise in Europe that will endanger Western nations as it did in World War II? Many nations are committing awful sins. Most are supporting the horror of killing millions of unborn babies and some are even selling their body parts for profit. Many nations have approved of same-sex marriage which God calls an "abomination" in Leviticus 18:22! Upon whom will the greatest punishment fall? We read earlier in Matthew 24:21 that there will come a time unique in all history, the Great Tribulation.
The Great Tribulation will be a time of punishment for the national and personal sins of our Western nations, if we do not repent nationally and personally. God will punish those nations which do not seek genuine peace, but which commit idolatry and all forms of evil. Let's face reality! How many nations around the world are not consumed with greed and covetousness? In fact, God tells us in Colossians 3:5 to change our behavior: "Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them."
Yes, covetousness is idolatry. Our Western nations seem to thrive on materialism, greed, and covetousness. The book of Jeremiah contains God's powerful condemnations on the ancient houses of Israel and Judah. Regular readers of this magazine understand that the modern nation of Israel in the Middle East is primarily descended from the house of Judah, and that the English-speaking peoples come primarily from the house of Israel—specifically from the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, whose descendants settled in Britain, Canada, the United States, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. Consider these powerful words recorded by the prophet Jeremiah: "Now these are the words that the Lord spoke concerning Israel and Judah. For thus says the Lord: 'We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. Ask now, and see, whether a man is ever in labor with child? So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins like a woman in labor, and all faces turned pale? Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob's trouble, but he shall be saved out of it'" (Jeremiah 30:4–7).
Remember that Jacob's name was changed to Israel after he wrestled with the Eternal and prevailed (Genesis 32:28). The patriarch Israel placed his name on the sons of Joseph, who became the ancestors of the American and British-descended peoples. The time unique in all history, the Great Tribulation, is the time of Jacob's trouble—a time you will want to escape!
The disaster movies that fill our movie theaters today only give us a hint of the cataclysms that will occur during the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord. Just imagine volcanoes erupting in North and South America, and along the "ring of fire" in nations bordering the Pacific Ocean. Imagine record-breaking earthquakes and devastating tsunamis. The asteroid that exploded over Russia on February 15, 2013 exerted 20 to 30 times the force of the World War II atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. The biblical book of Revelation describes in symbolic language the kind of modern nuclear warfare that will destroy billions of humans on earth in the time ahead of us (Revelation 9:13–18).
We need to take warning! Bible prophecy warns us of the punishments and judgments to come on our nations! How can we escape those judgments? First of all, we need an attitude of repentance. We need to acknowledge our sins, ask God for His forgiveness, and change our attitudes and behaviors. If we are close to God, He will protect us during the challenging times ahead. Notice Jesus' instruction and warning: "But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 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" (Luke 21:34–36).
Now is the time to draw close to God in prayer. You need to study your Bible and watch for the prophetic signs Jesus warned us about. Remember the signs of wars, pestilences and earthquakes prophesied in Matthew 24. In fact, Luke mentions "great earthquakes" in Luke 21:11! The earthquakes we experience now give us a mere taste of the destruction that will be caused by the "great earthquakes" to come! We've already discussed the Sumatran earthquake and tsunami, as well as the Tohoku earthquake—the costliest natural disaster in history! Yet there are so many more examples. On October 8, 2005, a 7.6 magnitude earthquake in Kashmir, Pakistan killed 86,000 and injured 106,000. Six hundred thousand homes were destroyed and three million people were left homeless. On May 12, 2008, a magnitude 7.9 earthquake killed more than 69,000 people and caused $85 billion in damage in Sichuan province of China. The January 2010 Haiti earthquake killed more than 300,000, injured additional hundreds of thousands, and left more than a million homeless.
Even mild earthquakes can be very frightening, as my wife and I experienced while living in California for more than a decade.
The book of Revelation refers to several severe earthquakes coming in the future. One of them occurs in connection with prophesied heavenly signs, or cosmic disturbances (Revelation 6:12–17), and it is described as being so powerful that it shakes even islands and the very mountains out of their place (v. 14)! During this time, the Church of God—true, faithful Christians—will be protected in the wilderness here on planet Earth, not in heaven, for three and one-half years (Revelation 12:14–16).
The Day of the Lord will be a time when God intervenes in world affairs very powerfully and directly. Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, will judge the nations for their wickedness. We read: "And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, 'Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?'" (Revelation 6:13–17). Dear readers, thank God that you can be protected from the judgments that will affect every nation, island and territory on earth.
When Jesus' disciples asked Him what would be the sign of His coming and of the end of the world, the real question was not the end of planet Earth itself, but the end of the age. The earth will always exist, although it will be renewed by Almighty God (2 Peter 3:13). In Revelation 5:10, He reveals that the spiritual destiny of the saints is to be "kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth." Heaven is not our reward!
Your Bible reveals the prophetic events leading up to the return of Christ to rule all nations. The Prince of Peace will establish righteous world government over all nations. Beyond Armageddon is good news! World history has demonstrated that mankind does not know the way to peace. But the Prince of Peace will teach all nations the Way to peace. Most importantly, human nature must be changed. General Douglas MacArthur realized that human character is the central issue: "We have had our last chance. If we will not devise some greater and more equitable system, our Armageddon will be at our door. The problem basically is theological and involves a spiritual recrudescence and improvement of human character that will synchronize with our almost matchless advances in science, art, literature and all material and cultural developments of the past two thousand years. It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh."
Indeed, the history of the world has demonstrated, and the Bible foretells, that apart from God's continual guidance, mankind will destroy itself and all life on earth! But beyond Armageddon, the Prince of Peace—Jesus Christ—will save the world, and He will teach all nations the Way to peace. A worldwide re-education program will revolutionize international relations for good. Thankfully, as General MacArthur recognized will be necessary, there will be a "spiritual recrudescence" or spiritual renewal all around the world. Notice this inspiring prophecy: "Many nations shall come and say, 'Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.' For out of Zion the law shall go forth, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between many peoples, and rebuke strong nations afar off; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore" (Micah 4:2–3).
Thank God that a new world and a new age are coming in this generation! Pray as Jesus instructed, "Your Kingdom come" (Matthew 6:10). We need to prepare for the future with faith. Study your Bible every day! Draw close to God in prayer. And look forward to God's coming Kingdom, and the new age to come—tomorrow's world!