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One might think that the year 2020 will go down as one of the most troubled years in modern history. We have seen unrest in many nations and regions around the world, from countries in Central and South America, to the United States, Europe, and Hong Kong. COVID-19 is something we may all want to forget, but its greatest legacy may prove to be years of economic impact—and when economies collapse, bad things normally follow.
The U.S. has been a stabilizing force in the world over the last 75 years, despite its many shortcomings. Saying this will no doubt bring criticism, but would anyone who understands history and geopolitics really prefer that Russia, China, Iran, or North Korea replace the United States? For all America’s faults—and there are many—the world would have been a far worse place had Japan or Germany won World War II. Thankfully, both of those countries—at least for the last several decades—have been additional stabilizing forces for good in our world. While we are happy they did not win WWII because of the direction in which they were going at the time, what wonderful changes they have made since then, and they deserve our deep respect.
Yes, 2020 will go down in history as a year to remember—or will it? After what we have already seen (and only God knows what is yet to happen in this year’s final months), that may sound like a strange question.
But could events in the years after 2020 be so catastrophic that they eventually turn this year’s traumas into little more than a historical footnote?
This magazine is named Tomorrow’s World for a reason. We know a far better world is coming—not based on the goodness of man, not based on advancements in science, not based on religious revival, but based on promises found in the book so many own, but so few read. Even many who do read that book (to say nothing of those who do not) find its predictions too fantastic to believe. Yes, the Bible tells us that the Messiah will return—and we had better hope He does, because the chances of mankind surviving another 50 years are not looking good. Frankly, they are not looking good for even 20 years!
The Bible promises that Jesus Christ will return to rule over the whole earth (Zechariah 14:9; Acts 1:11) and will bring peace to this troubled world. That peace will not come immediately, as the nations will fight against Him (Revelation 17:14). Imagine the world being so deceived by a powerful, evil spirit being—working behind the scenes—that nations would actually fight against the One coming to stop human annihilation (Matthew 24:21–22; Revelation 12:9)! Nevertheless, despite Satan’s efforts, our Creator will defeat His enemies (Zechariah 14:12–15).
But, even then, peace will not be possible until that great deceiver—the prince of the power of the air, who stirs mankind to war and fight—is himself removed (Ephesians 2:2; Revelation 20:1–3). That will pave the way for a change in human nature, when God will write His laws on human minds and hearts (Hebrews 8:8–13). With strong leadership, Satan’s evil influence will be removed—and with God’s Spirit dominating, an age of peace will ensue.
We read prophecy after prophecy of that time:
Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it. 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. But everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken (Micah 4:1–4).
The prophet Isaiah describes how the returning Messiah will tenderly care for the weak and transform earth’s environment:
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert. The parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water; in the habitation of jackals, where each lay, there shall be grass with reeds and rushes (Isaiah 35:5–7).
That is the good news! Whether or not you place any trust in the Bible—and you should, for many reasons—this will happen. It does not depend on you or me believing it.
So why, as we look at the year 2020, would we doubt that it will go down as a year to remember? Obviously, this year will pale in comparison to the year Jesus Christ actually returns, but there is another reason: This year is only a warm-up before the traumatic years that will precede the good to come. The same source that predicts the coming idyllic world also warns of the greatest time of trouble mankind has ever seen. Unless humanity turns from its evil path, the year 2020 is only a sample of what is ahead. Tragically, there is no evidence that mankind will change direction. It is a rare event when human beings admit error and amend their ways.
One notable example stands out: Nineveh, ancient Assyria’s capital city. The Assyrians were the ancestors of modern-day Germans. You may be familiar with the account of Jonah being swallowed by a giant fish, but do you know the whole story? While some think it is no more than a tale, Jesus affirmed its historicity, even explaining, “The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here” (Matthew 12:38–41).
Jesus explained that conditions on the earth would eventually become so terrible that all life would be on the verge of destruction (Matthew 24:21–22). Dear reader, please look up these passages. This is not our opinion, but the word of Scripture! Unless we as a whole turn from our sins—that is, from the breaking of God’s laws—we are in for a rough ride that will make 2020 look tame indeed. Not only will we see further unrest in our cities, but we will see nature itself turn against us—Deuteronomy 28 and Leviticus 26 lay out this future in detail.
And when you see what looks to be peace coming by man’s efforts, do not become complacent. We are warned, “For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5:3).
All of this will happen, both the good news and the bad news. It does not depend on whether you or I believe it. And when these things come upon us, as they surely will, I hope you will remember where you read about them in advance.
I wish I could tell you that things can’t get worse and we have smoother sailing ahead, but a lie never comforts in the end. However, there is hope beyond the storm, bringing immeasurable comfort to all who believe in it!