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Mark 13:37: “And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”
The New York Times headline of June 2, 2020, spoke volumes: “As Chaos Spreads, Trump Vows to ‘End It Now.’” As this issue of Tomorrow’s World magazine was going to press, the United States erupted in chaos as rioting filled the streets of New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Dallas, and other major metropolitan areas, including Washington, D.C.
In late May, protests had been planned in multiple U.S. cities, prompted by the death of Mr. George Floyd while in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota—a death widely attributed to the actions of the officers themselves and documented on video. But what may have begun as peaceful protests quickly descended into ransacking of stores, fires, violent mobs, and destruction of property. At the time of this writing, casualties continue to grow among both civilians and law enforcement, with many rioters seemingly interested in little more than increasing the level of turmoil and lawlessness. As this issue was being prepared for circulation, U.S. President Donald Trump expressed his intent to use active-duty military forces to address the growing chaos—a move that encouraged some yet disturbed others.
This terrible event provides yet one more example of a devastating combination of multiple circumstances to create a “perfect storm.” As explained in our cover story this issue, Bible prophecy plainly states that more such storms are coming. Will this nationwide trauma encourage Americans to turn to God? Or will things only become worse? Read our article on page 18 to get a larger view of the collection of “perfect storms” currently raging across the globe. You can also follow our new “TW Updates” videos on our YouTube channel or our website, where we provide updated Bible-based commentary on current events such as these.
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres recently shared a sobering view of our world, stating that “a wind of madness is sweeping the globe” (“‘Wind of Madness’ Is Sweeping Earth, U.N. Secretary-General Says,” NPR.org, February 4, 2020). Guterres observed that “cascading challenges” and “vicious circles” currently characterize the state of the world, putting peace and stability at risk. He noted that much of the civil unrest seen around the globe stems from frustrated people who want their leaders to “answer their anxieties with effective action.”
The Apostle Paul foretold that in the last days people would be “unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:3–4). As we look around the globe, the “perilous times” prophesied by the Apostle Paul are coming into view, described well by Guterres. However, the Bible provides an enlightening contrast: “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when a wicked man rules, the people groan” (Proverbs 29:2). A righteous leader is one who follows the laws of God (Psalm 119:172). While this is not a popular message today, it reveals what is missing in our modern world and points to the only way that true peace and happiness will come.
The “European Experiment” is in serious trouble. Old divides that have plagued the continent for centuries are reemerging. When EU leaders met in March to hammer out a unified financial response to the COVID-19 pandemic, they could not agree on a number of major issues—of special concern to Italy and Spain, two of the EU’s weaker members financially and also two of those most affected by the coronavirus. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte of Italy commented that if Europeans cannot agree, nations “will have to write off Europe and ‘everyone will do their own thing’” (“Divided Europe agrees on $590 billion in coronavirus funds,” Fortune, April 10, 2020).
Significantly, these events in Europe hearken back to ancient Bible prophecies. Daniel warned that, at the end of the age, ten kings or nations will come together yet still be divided like “iron and clay” (Daniel 2:41–43). We appear to be watching this “iron and clay” mixture reemerge in Europe today. There will ultimately be a brief union of ten rulers under one leader known in prophecy as the “beast” (see Revelation 17)—a group most likely led by the nation of Germany.
At the 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, author and Hebrew University professor Yuval Noah Harari gave global leaders a dire warning: “There is a lot of talk of hacking computers, smartphones, computers, emails, bank accounts, but the really big thing is hacking human beings.… If you have enough data about me and enough computer power and biological knowledge, you can hack my body, my brain, my life” (“'The human mind is in danger of being hacked,' warns Israeli author Harari” Jerusalem Post, January 22, 2020). The idea is that, with enough data about a person, it could be possible to know more about a person than they are aware of themselves, to paraphrase Harari.
In a digital world where increasing amounts of personal information are stored on Internet-connected computer servers, Harari’s vision of the future is far more realistic than one might think. What most do not realize is that one “enemy” already has access to all of this data and monitors us every second of our lives. This enemy is an expert on human behavior and wants to destroy the lives of every human being made in the image of God. This nemesis of humanity is Satan the devil, the deceiver of mankind (Revelation 12:9), the covert ruler of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4), and the “spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2).
While the actions of human beings against other human beings are worrisome, our true enemy is not physical, but a spirit being (Ephesians 6:10–12).
Researchers at 44 sites in 31 states and Washington, D.C. recently found dangerous levels of perfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, in the water supply (“US drinking water contamination with ‘forever chemicals’ far worse than scientists thought,” The Guardian, January 22, 2020). Called “forever chemicals” because they do not break down in the environment, they are found in products such as Teflon and Scotchgard, as well as firefighting foam, and some have been linked to “cancers, liver damage, low birth weight and other health problems.” New research suggests that a 2018 estimate of the number of people contaminated by PFAS—110 million—was probably far too low.
Of the 44 U.S. cities tested in the U.S., only Meridian, Mississippi had no detectable PFAS in tap water, and only Seattle, Washington, and Tuscaloosa, Alabama, had contamination at levels less than 1 part per trillion.
God created the soil and rock to be fantastic filtration systems, designed to filter out naturally occurring microorganisms and other dangerous substances. However, man-made chemicals such as PFAS are often not naturally occurring substances and are frequently too small to be caught by creation’s natural filtration system. It is interesting that Bible prophecies warn about the quality of water at the end of the age. God warned ancient and modern Israel that because of their sins, “I will make them eat bitter food and drink poisoned water, because from the prophets of Jerusalem ungodliness has spread throughout the land” (Jeremiah 23:15, New International Version).