Last October, 13 state police officers in Mexico’s western state of Michoacán were ambushed and massacred by a fast-growing local drug cartel (The Guardian, November 5, 2019). The police were outnumbered, outgunned, and wore subpar protective gear. The police radioed for help but it took an hour to arrive, “by which time the gunmen and their armoured vehicles had left the scene.” Police in Mexico report being critically under-equipped and feeling as if they do not stand a chance against the better-armed and better-financed drug cartels.
Police officers in Mexico are also notorious for making direct alliances with drug cartels. “Corruption among the ranks is also encouraged by dismal salaries from which officers are not only expected to buy their own bullets, but often their own uniforms as well.” Many criticize Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s new law enforcement policy of “hugs not bullets,” while the people of the nation wait for justice. This same sad story of widespread corruption and violence is becoming commonplace in many countries around the world.
The Bible clearly warns that corruption, violence, brutality, and greed will become rampant in society as we approach the end of the age (2 Timothy 3:1–4; cf. Matthew 24:37–38 and Genesis 6:11–13). The prophet Isaiah warned of such a time: “Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off; for truth is fallen in the street” (Isaiah 59:14). Increasingly, shifting international norms are reflected in these prophecies—and the situation in Mexico calls such prophecies to mind.
According to interview data recently released by the Pew Research Center, the percentage of Americans labeling themselves “Christian” has fallen significantly in the last ten years (October 17, 2019). In addition, significantly fewer attend church services regularly. At the same time, more Americans label themselves as spiritual but not religious, and the percentage of the “religiously unaffiliated” has significantly increased. The correlation between self-identification and age is also clear: the older the person, the more likely he or she is to identify as Christian. The opposite is also true: the younger the person, the less likely.
Bible prophecy warns that “in the last days” an increasing number of people will be “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” and that they will have “a form of godliness” but will deny its power (2 Timothy 3:1–5). In fact, there will come a time when those who do hold to the true name and teachings of Jesus Christ will be hated because of His name (Luke 21:17). America’s continuing religious decline—especially among once-professing Christians—is real, and it fits well with end-time prophecies.
The Economist recently reported on the December 10, 2019 retirement of two of the three remaining members of the appellate body of the World Trade Organization (WTO), “which hears appeals in trade disputes and authorises sanctions against rule-breakers” (November 28, 2019). Their retirement means that any decisions made by the WTO that are appealed will have only one of the required three judges to hear the appeal. The United States is currently blocking the WTO from appointing new judges because it claims the organization practices “judicial overreach”—an opinion shared by 58 percent of those recently involved with WTO disputes. By blocking the replacement of the retiring judges, the U.S. has rendered the appellate body useless, after roughly 24 years of regulating global trade.
Experts suggest that “global trade is about to become a lot less predictable and a lot more contentious. Without the appellate body to act as an honest broker, disputes between the biggest members may escalate.” The Economist suggested that “of all Mr Trump’s trade policies, it may prove the hardest to reverse and have the longest-lasting effects.”
Public health experts are concerned. “Despite spending more on health care than any other country, the United States has seen increasing mortality and falling life expectancy for people ages 25 to 64, who should be in the prime of their lives” (MSN.com, November 26, 2019). Factors driving the rising death rates in America include suicide, drug addiction and overdose (the opioid epidemic), obesity, alcohol-related liver disease, and numerous other causes. Even more sobering is that working-age women “are succumbing to diseases once far more common among men.” According to Dr. Steven H. Woolf of Virginia Commonwealth University, these trends indicate that “there’s something terribly wrong” in America and that “there’s some root cause that’s causing adverse health across many different dimensions for working-age adults.”
Dr. Ellen Meara, a professor at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, has observed, “There’s something more fundamental about how people are feeling at some level—whether it’s economic, whether it’s stress, whether it’s deterioration of family.” Dr. Meara noted, “People are feeling worse about themselves and their futures, and that’s leading them to do things that are self-destructive and not promoting health.” The fact that America has one of the world’s highest standards of living and also arguably one of the most advanced health care systems in the world also makes these trends very disturbing.
The Bible reveals that God makes health and healing available to those who obey Him and live by His commandments (Exodus 15:26). As we watch the deterioration of the United States and many other Israelite-descended nations, it is important to remember that this moral, physical, economic, and military decline is proceeding hand-in-hand with the continued rejection of God and His laws.
Reuters reports that a recent poll in Italy is causing some concern: “Almost half of Italians are in favor of having a ‘strongman’ in power who does not care about parliament and elections… casting doubts on the strength of democracy in a major European nation” (December 6, 2019). Italians are fed up with the lack of economic recovery following the 2008 global recession, as well as with ongoing governmental failures. Most of Italy’s governments last just over a year, adding to the ongoing instability, and many are ready for a major change. According to Reuters, the Censis research institute poll indicates that almost half of Italy’s citizens believe the nation “should be led by a Messiah-like leader who does not have to worry about being accountable.”
Far-right groups continue to gain ground in Italy as a growing percentage of the populace loses faith in the government. Among the poorer and less educated, over two-thirds are in favor of a powerful leader who can essentially operate above the law. Many just want the government to provide stability and certainty in their futures—and they seem not to care how it happens.
This extreme frustration with government enables dictators to rise to power with the support of their people. Bible prophecy reveals that a strong dictator will emerge in Europe at the end of this age and that ten “kings” or national leaders will give their power and authority to him (Revelation 17:12–13). Ultimately, this European “beast” or “king of the north” will be worshiped and will be very powerful (Revelation 13:1–10).