Mark 13:37 | “And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”
Researchers and physicians have long understood the connection between stress and environmental noise, and recent studies continue to demonstrate that relationship. Noise from automobiles and aircraft has now been linked to cardiovascular risks such as heart attack and stroke (BBC, March 15, 2021). Scientists are beginning to understand the relationship between these risks and the chemicals our bodies produce when under such stress.
According to a 2018 German study of more than one million people, “People living near the Frankfurt Airport… have as much as a 7% higher risk of stroke than those living in similar but quieter neighbourhoods.” A study in Zurich found that risk of death and disease increased with the number of noisy nighttime flyovers, even if people were asleep and not conscious of the sound.
Cities today are hubs for trade and finance, but they foster an increase in crime and unhealthful conditions, including high stress and loud noise. In the coming Kingdom of God, Jesus Christ will restructure human society to eliminate unnecessary sources of stress and trauma. The Prophet Isaiah told of a coming time when people “will dwell in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places” (Isaiah 32:18). It will be a time when “the whole earth is at rest and quiet” (Isaiah 14:7).
Deutsche Welle, responding to sobering news from the United Nations’ World Food Program (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), recently reported, “Acute hunger will increase in over 20 countries if the global community does not take action soon” (March 23, 2021). Thirty-four million people—a group roughly equivalent to the population of Canada or Peru—are experiencing extreme malnutrition, a condition considered “close to dying from starvation.” According to the report, Yemen, South Sudan, and northern Nigeria are in an especially dangerous state, and “acute hunger could also increase in many other countries such as Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon and Haiti.”
Experts identify key causes of starvation as war and conflicts, COVID-19-related hunger, extreme weather, locusts, and lack of food access to those most at risk. Three factors appear to be most critical to prevent more starvation: an end to war and fighting, the ability to access and help vulnerable populations, and funding (WFP and FAO estimate US$5.5 billion is needed).
From a human perspective, the situation is dire and defies solution. Indeed, the Bible has long warned that if Jesus Christ does not return, “no flesh would be saved” (Matthew 24:22). Thankfully, the good news is that Jesus will soon return to establish the Kingdom of God and His government will put an end to wars and fighting (Isaiah 2:2–4), also ending suffering and starvation (Amos 9:13).
Recently, the European parliament passed a resolution overwhelmingly in favor of declaring the 27 member nations of the European Union an LGBT “freedom zone” (Associated Press, March 10, 2021). This legislation is partly a reaction to Poland’s “Charters of Family Rights,” which are aimed at protecting the traditional family. Scotland also passed a bill making it a crime to “[stir] up hatred” against societal minorities (Catholic Herald, March 12, 2021).
In response, the Vatican recently issued a statement seemingly opposed to this legislation. To clarify the church’s stance on civil unions, the office of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith noted that the Vatican “does not have the power to bless same-sex unions. Such blessings, therefore cannot ‘be considered licit’” (Vatican News, March 15, 2021). The declaration also emphasized that any sexual relationships outside of that between a man and a woman married to each other “do not respond to the ‘designs of God.’”
Where will this apparent clash of ideologies lead if the Vatican openly opposes same-sex unions while European nations make this position a crime? The Bible reveals that, at the end of the age, a group of ten “kings”—perhaps nations—will give their power over to a “beast” (cf. Revelation 17). While this elite group will be spiritually led by the Roman Catholic Church, prophecy also describes the “iron and clay” nature of these nations that struggle to be unified and foretells an eventual falling out between government and religious leaders (cf. Daniel 2:32–34; Revelation 17:16).
Declining populations affect numerous areas of the world—and in predictable ways. “Rewilding” describes the return of urban areas to a natural wild state. Japan, where population has declined for decades, provides important insights into this growing phenomenon. “Already there are too few people to fill all its houses,” reports The Guardian, noting that “one in every eight homes now lies empty” (January 24, 2021). These empty and unattended houses, often in rural areas, quickly fall into disrepair and are “reclaimed” by local wildlife.
In Spain, the reduction in demand for land has caused forests to triple in size since 1900. “Rural abandonment on a large scale is one factor that has contributed to the recent resurgence of large carnivores in Europe: lynx, wolverines, brown bears and wolves.” As populations decline globally, large predators moving into once-populated areas will pose problems for people.
Biblical prophecy foretells a situation at the end of the age in which many on the earth will be killed “with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth” (Revelation 6:7–8). As world events speed up, these ancient prophecies begin to take on more meaning.
The European Union, United Kingdom, United States, and Canada have recently imposed sanctions on China for civil rights violations against the Muslim Uyghurs in China’s western province of Xinjiang (Deutsche Welle, March 22, 2021). Additionally, U.S. President Joseph Biden not long ago called Russian president Putin “a killer” (CNN, March 18, 2021). Russia responded by saying that “there hasn’t been anything like this in history.” At a high-level meeting in Alaska, “Chinese officials accused the US of inciting countries ‘to attack China,’ while the US said China had ‘arrived intent on grandstanding’” (BBC, March 19, 2021).
In response to these rising tensions, Chinese and Russian foreign ministers recently met in a show of unity against the EU, the U.S., and other Western powers. The Russian foreign minister “said sanctions were drawing Russia and China closer together and accused the West of ‘imposing their own rules on everyone else, which they believe should underpin the world order’” (Associated Press, March 23, 2021).
What few realize today is that the Bible has long predicted that powers to the north and east of Jerusalem—where Russia and China are located—will act together as the end of the age approaches (cf. Daniel 11:40–44). Biblical prophecy reveals that a massive army from the north and east will eventually descend on the Holy Land by crossing the Euphrates River (Revelation 9:16; 16:12). Russia, China, and their allies are certainly capable of mustering such a large force and providing the financial and technical know-how to support its deployment. Events developing on the world stage appear to be falling into line with biblical prophecies.
It was once thought that one or two genes controlled eye color—with brown being genetically dominant. Earlier science, based on a rudimentary understanding of the human genome, resulted in a very simplistic view of the genetics of the eye. Fast-forward several decades to more recent times, and we find that scientists are discovering how wrong they were.
New research from King’s College and Erasmus University Medical Center Rotterdam, testing nearly 200,000 subjects across Europe and Asia, has demonstrated that human eye color is influenced by 50 different genes (Science Daily, March 11, 2021)! Yet, even after identifying 50 distinct eye-color-related genes, scientists still do not fully understand how eye color occurs!
Nearly two centuries ago when Darwin wrote his famous work On the Origin of Species, many facets of life were thought to be relatively simple, and macroevolution seemed quite plausible. But as science progresses and the mechanisms of life are found to be profoundly more complex than they were once believed to be, the outdated ideas of macroevolution begin to look more and more foolish. Three thousand years ago, David wrote, “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are your works” (Psalm 139:14). Modern discoveries make an ever more reasonable case—not for evolution, but for a Creator!