Mark 13:37 | “And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”
Civil war, famine, and COVID-19 have brought starvation to many in Yemen—especially small children. According to the United Nations’ humanitarian coordinator for the country, “Yemen is on the brink of a catastrophic food security crisis. If the war doesn’t end now, we are nearing an irreversible situation and risk losing an entire generation of Yemen’s young children” (“Yemen on brink of losing entire generation of children to hunger, UN warns,” The Guardian, October, 28, 2020). Yemen could lose as many as 100,000 children under the age of five.
During this tragic time of hardship, funding for the UN World Food Program has fallen, threatening charitable supplies that are desperately needed to feed starving people. Bible prophecy foretells a coming time, just before the return of Jesus Christ, when billions will die, due in large part to famine and starvation (Matthew 24:3, 7; Revelation 6:5–8). Students of the Bible must realize that situations like Yemen’s will not always be constrained to a small, specific area of the world.
However, God’s word also speaks of a time when famine and starvation will become a thing of the past. Jesus Christ will return and set up the Kingdom of God on earth. The earth will be restored and streams will burst forth in the desert (Isaiah 35:1–6), and there will be an abundance of food (Amos 9:13). As nations learn to follow God’s law, they will receive rain in due season (Leviticus 26:2–4). The suffering we witness today should motivate us to pray, “Your kingdom come!”
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, roughly 45 percent of the continental United States was recently in drought, and such conditions are forecast to worsen in the months ahead (“Nearly Half of the U.S. Is in Drought. It May Get Worse,” New York Times, October 15, 2020). Climate scientists said 2020 experienced the worst drought since 2013. Drought is also expected to develop in the southeastern U.S. over the winter, leading to more fires in 2021.
Meanwhile, according to the University of Melbourne, southern Australia has been experiencing some of its driest weather in 800 years, resulting in destruction of crops, cattle, and a great deal of wildlife (“Recent Australian droughts may be the worst in 800 years,” The Conversation, May 1, 2018). In central Europe, researchers have determined that its 2018–2019 drought was the most widespread and severe there since 1766 (“Climate change to bring longer droughts in Europe: study,” Phys.org, August 6, 2020). And a recent article in New Scientist reported, “The years 1990–2016 rank among the worst periods of flooding in Europe in five centuries” (“Recent decades of European floods are among the worst in 500 years,” July 22, 2020).
Why are these events significant? Bible prophecy warns that at the end of the age, Israelite-descended nations like the U.S., the UK, much of Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada will experience both drought and flooding. God warns, “I also withheld rain from you, when there were still three months to the harvest. I made it rain on one city, I withheld rain from another city. One part was rained upon, and where it did not rain the part withered” (Amos 4:7). While trends rise and wane, we can expect even more extreme weather to occur as we draw closer to what the Bible calls “the end of the age.”
Armed cartels in Colombia have drastically increased their child recruitment activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Taking advantage of the increased poverty in some Colombian regions, cartels are offering to pay families up to twice the minimum wage to employ their children in the service of the cartel. “If a community doesn’t have access to running water, education, recreational spaces and other basic elements, then the risk of child recruitment increases…. Militias lure children with promises of cash, mobile phones and motorcycles” (“Armed groups target Colombia’s children as reform process slows,” The Guardian, November 9, 2020). If families do not comply, the children are often forcibly pressed into the cartel’s service anyway.
Due to the pandemic, thousands of children are out of school with nothing to do, and for many, no online learning options exist. This creates opportunities for cartel recruitment. Governments are in a dilemma as they try to protect children against COVID-19 by keeping schools closed while also trying to protect them from the cartels. Many families are forced to flee certain regions in order to protect their children.
The Bible reveals that when Jesus Christ returns to set up His Kingdom on earth, “great shall be the peace of your children” (Isaiah 54:13). No longer will children be born into a world where they are “doomed to misfortune” (Isaiah 65:23, NIV). At that time, children will no longer live in fear, because Jesus Christ will have returned and removed the current god of this age (Ephesians 2:2; Zechariah 14:9). As we witness the tragic suffering of children today, we need to remember that a better time is coming.
The head of Britain’s armed forces has warned, “Current global uncertainty and anxiety amid the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic could risk another world war,” and that “an escalation in regional tensions and errors of judgment could ultimately lead to widespread conflict” (“Global uncertainty could risk World War Three—UK military chief,” Reuters, November 8, 2020).
In a recent interview with Bloomberg, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger also issued a dire warning: “America and China are now drifting increasingly toward confrontation, and they’re conducting their diplomacy in a confrontational way.… Unless there is some basis for some cooperative action, the world will slide into a catastrophe comparable to World War I” (“Kissinger Warns Biden of U.S.—China Catastrophe on Scale of WWI,” November 16, 2020). Mr. Kissinger went on to note that the advanced military technologies being developed by both nations could make such a future crisis even more difficult to control. He pushed for President Joe Biden to move quickly to restore meaningful communication with China.
Wars have always plagued mankind. Bible prophecy makes plain that conflict between nations will be a part of life as we approach the end of the age (Matthew 24:4–7) but strife will eventually be far more threatening and hold far greater risk than any previous conflict in human history. While prophecy does predict a coming world war, it does not point to the U.S. and China as the main opponents—highlighting, instead, very different regions of the globe.
Germany, homeland of “Pope Emeritus” Benedict XVI, is finding its Roman Catholic leadership in conflict with Pope Francis in Rome. Regional meetings of a new 230-member “Synodal Assembly,” including Roman Catholic bishops, archbishops, and laypeople, convened in October 2020 to discuss how to stop the German church’s loss of members. Areas of concern included the exercise of power and authority in the church, the role of women, the role of the priesthood, and issues of sexual morality (“Bishop: Francis expressed ‘dramatic concern’ over Germany’s ‘synodal path’,” CRUXNow.com, October 12, 2020).
One participant noted that Pope Francis had communicated “dramatic concern” over the formation of this new group, known in German as Synodaler Weg. Francis went so far as to caution German bishops against going “their own way” rather than maintaining strong unity with Rome. Some suspect Francis was concerned about the potential creation of a “German national church”—already a topic of discussion among some in Germany.
Bible prophecies plainly describe a Germany-led “beast” power that will influence geopolitics at the end of this age. This political and military superpower will be closely aligned with an international apostate church called the “mother of harlots” (Revelation 17:5). How will the political and religious powers contend with each other? These developments bear watching in light of Bible prophecy.