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Mark 13:37 | "And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!"
The Times of Israel reports, “The impending peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates [UAE] is more than just a stunning diplomatic breakthrough. It represents a fundamental shift in the paradigm of peace-making” (August 14, 2020). In a region where Middle East peace has long been thought to hinge on the Israeli-Palestinian relationship, this new deal—called the “Abraham Accord”—is unique and unexpected. The peace accord includes “opening embassies, trade and technology exchanges, direct flights and tourism, and cooperation on energy, security, and intelligence” (The New Yorker, August 14, 2020). While critics abound, others see this new peace deal as having great potential.
The Israeli prime minister observed, “This is a historic step that advances peace with the Arab world, and eventually will also promote peace—real, secure, and supervised peace—with the Palestinians as well” (i24News.tv, August 16, 2020). However, Palestinian leaders warned the UAE to “reverse” its decision immediately (TasnimNews.com, August 15, 2020).
The quest for peace is always with us, yet success seems an elusive dream. Throughout history, societies have sought peace, and there have been brief peaceful interludes in certain areas of the globe. However, lasting peace has never been achieved. While the desire for peace is real, the Bible records that human leaders will proclaim “‘Peace, peace!’ when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14). Sadly, human beings do not know the way to peace (Isaiah 59:8). There is only one way to true and lasting peace, and Jesus Christ, the “Prince of Peace,” will return to this earth to show that way (Isaiah 9:6).
Emerging research supports the current understanding that exposure to air pollution has long-lasting effects on infants’ lungs. Not only do teenagers who were exposed to air pollution as infants have decreased lung capacity, they are also at much greater risk of developing asthma. In fact, this increased risk of asthma occurred even when air pollution levels were lower than legal limits set by the government! A researcher from the University of Copenhagen commented at a recent conference, “The fact that we found a link with asthma, even at relatively low levels of exposure, suggests that there is no safe threshold for air pollution” (The Guardian, August 24, 2020).
Early research during the coronavirus pandemic indicates that the greatest number of deaths from the virus seemed to occur in areas of the world with the highest rates of air pollution. In fact, one researcher noted that long-term exposure to nitrogen dioxide, a chemical present in air pollution, may be one of the most important contributors to the fatality rate of the COVID-19 virus (The Guardian, April 20, 2020).
The Apostle Paul observed that “the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now” (Romans 8:22). Our planet looks forward to a time when it “will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (v. 21). The real hope for humanity and creation is the return of Jesus Christ, who will establish His Kingdom on earth and make pollution a thing of the past.
As a result of COVID-19, the town of Somerville, Massachusetts, has recognized polyamory. Not to be confused with polygamy—one heterosexual having more than one spouse at a time—polyamory means that “any person of any gender can have multiple partners.” Somerville’s town council legally recognized the practice, giving polyamorous people some of the rights and privileges of married couples (NBCBoston.com, July 4, 2020).
Those who created the new town ordinance point to COVID-19 as a reason. Noting that in the midst of the pandemic only family members were allowed to visit their sick loved ones in the hospital, the town council chose to “expand” the definition of family to accommodate these individuals. One city councilor said, “It validates their existence, it validates the way they love.” The councilor also stated, “When the government has tried to define what is and [is] not a family, we’ve done a really poor job.” The ordinance was unanimously approved by the town council and is one of the first of its kind in the nation.
Expressing support for the new ordinance, one town resident commented, “I think it’s great.… It’s a lifestyle choice, it’s something that doesn’t hurt anybody, it’s just confined to the people in the relationship and why shouldn’t they have the same rights that other types of families have?”
Today, many have forgotten that the Bible provides a very clear definition of family (Genesis 2:24–25). Sadly, those who advocate for unbiblical family structures set themselves up for failure and heartache.
“The US and UK have accused Russia of testing a weapon-like projectile in space that could be used to target satellites in orbit” (BBC, July 23, 2020). Based on the evidence, both nations believe that Russia may have test-fired a space-based weapon that could be used to shoot down satellites from other nations. Several nations have put satellites into space for all types of purposes, including military and surveillance. Such a weapon would violate a treaty signed by over 100 nations that have agreed to the peaceful exploration of space. However, Russia claims that its new satellite is designed for the purpose of performing checks on the nation’s other satellites (BBC).
Whether or not Russia actually test-fired an anti-satellite weapon may not be as important as the concern of other nations that such an action may push other powers to develop and employ similar technology—if they do not already have it. Humanity, under the influence of Satan, seems to have a heart that is set on war and destruction. Before the Flood, God noted that the earth was corrupt and “filled with violence” (Genesis 6:11). The heart of mankind has not fundamentally changed, and we should expect such global conditions to make a comeback (cf. Luke 17:26). War is inevitable as long as Satan remains the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4).
China and Iran have worked together for years on many projects. The Wall Street Journal reports that a draft agreement between the two nations is currently in the works in the Iranian parliament. If approved, the agreement “would pave the way for Chinese investments in Iranian free-trade zones and for joint projects in other countries, such as Syria and Iraq. It would expand cooperation between the two countries in defense and counter terrorism. And it says that under a 25-year partnership, China would import ‘sustainable’ levels of Iranian oil, but offered no further details” (July 12, 2020).
China’s Belt and Road Initiative calls for travel and trade systems to pass through Iran. In addition, China’s thirst for oil will benefit from a closer relationship with Iran, as China is already Iran’s largest trading partner.
Bible prophecy indicates that, at the end of this present age, “kings from the east” will send armies across the Euphrates River against the Holy Land (Revelation 16:12–14). China certainly has the capacity and military might to field a massive army (cf. Revelation 9:16). To invade the Holy Land from the east, these armies will have to pass through the nation of Iran. The pending 25-year partnership being discussed by China and Iran could help pave the way for the fulfillment of this and other prophecies.