Mark 13:37 | “And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”
The EU Observer reported on March 31 that more than 25 world leaders signed an open letter calling for the creation of an international treaty on pandemics. Signatories include the director-general of the World Health Organization and the president of the European Council. The letter states, “The question [of future pandemics] is not if, but when.”
The letter calls for a “global approach” to any future pandemic. The proposed treaty would need to outline a framework for preparedness and cooperation across nations worldwide. The letter emphasizes that “the time to act is now,” while the concern about future risks is firmly in the minds of people in all countries. Yet notably absent from the letter’s list of dignitaries were the leaders of the United States and China, as well as EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen—illustrating how difficult global cooperation on such an issue might be.
Whether or not a treaty on global pandemic preparedness will ever be adopted remains to be seen. However, the idea put forth by this group of leaders—that the next pandemic is inevitable—is certainly in line with biblical prophecy. The sixth chapter of the book of Revelation describes the famous “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.” The fourth of these horsemen pictures a time when a quarter of the world’s population will die by various means—including devastating disease (Revelation 6:7–8). God will ultimately use disease and death to get the attention of the world and help humanity realize that the way to true and lasting peace is not through human means, but by the return of Jesus Christ and the establishment of God’s Kingdom on earth.
While it might seem preposterous, preaching from the Bible is now subject to persecution and threats of criminal charges in several nations that once were considered part of “Christendom.” Recently, a 71-year-old preacher in London was arrested, handcuffed, and jailed for publicly preaching from the book of Genesis that marriage is between one man and one woman (Newsweek.com, May 2, 2021).
Also in England, a school chaplain was reported to a government counter-terrorism agency as a “potentially violent religious extremist” and dismissed for preaching a sermon in a chapel service in which he informed students that they could disagree with new LGBT policies contrary to their beliefs that were promoted by an activist and being implemented at the school (ChristianConcern.com, May 9, 2021). And in Finland, a prominent politician who is also a medical doctor and a mother faces imprisonment for expressing her biblically based views on marriage and homosexuality (DecisionMagazine.com, May 3, 2021).
Western nations have not only entered a post-Christian age; they are moving rapidly into an anti-Christian age. Yet this should not surprise any who read the Bible. Jesus said that one of the signs of the approaching end of this age would be the persecution of those who follow His teachings (Matthew 24:9). The prophet Isaiah also foretold that the time would come when good would be called evil and evil would be called good (Isaiah 5:20).
New research by Shanna Swan, an epidemiologist with Mount Sinai Medical Center, projects that “by 2045 most men may no longer be able to reproduce because of the impact of hormone-altering chemicals” in their environment (Politico, March 10, 2021). This research also suggests that female fertility rates are falling by about one percent each year.
Swan observed that these hormone-altering chemicals are present in products from “plastics, electronics, food packaging and pesticides to personal care products and cosmetics… and as such are in the bodies of just about everyone on the planet.” These chemicals impact both male and female reproduction and are also known to pose a danger to babies developing in the womb. Other factors like obesity, smoking, and changing cultural values also contribute to the plunging fertility rates.
The declining ability to reproduce affects men and women around the globe. Interestingly, in His covenant with Israel—a covenant with powerful prophetic implications—God speaks of one of the consequences of disobedience as being related to reproduction: “Cursed shall be the fruit of your body and the produce of your land, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks” (Deuteronomy 28:18). However, God also promises blessings for those who obey Him, including an abundance of children (vv. 4, 11). The way of life outlined in the Bible brings peace and happiness, as well as health and safety.
Three Dads and a Baby is the title of a newly published biography chronicling the story of three polyamorous men who decided to engender two children through surrogate mothers (CNN, March 6, 2021). It tells of their court struggle to have the names of all three men put on the birth certificates, in what may be the first-of-its-kind legal parenting situation in the U.S.
Polyamory—groups of more than two people in “committed” sexual relationships—is increasingly prevalent in the United States and around the globe. Some suggest that polyamory is rooted in the cultural shift sought by advocates of “free love” in the 1960s and that modern dating apps, social media, and the portrayal of the lifestyle in twenty-first-century media all contribute to its acceptance.
In a world that has rejected God and His instruction book for life—the Bible—there is no longer a single morality and everyone does what is “right in his own eyes,” as in the chaotic and dangerous early days of ancient Israel (Judges 17:6). Today, many have forgotten that the God of the Bible is the one who created man and woman and the institutions of marriage and family. As well as rejecting God’s instruction book, human beings have perverted what God created to be sacred and special. Scripture also reveals that this has happened as a result of the influence of Satan, whom the Apostle Paul called “the god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4). In spite of how well-intentioned people may be, prophecy warns of serious consequences for those who refuse to live by the laws of God (Deuteronomy 28:15–20; Romans 1:18–32).
Globally, about 4.4 percent of the population suffers from depression, and in the United States that number is nearly double, at eight percent (Big Think, March 22, 2021). Due at least in part to the COVID-19 pandemic and its collateral impact over the last year and a half, depression is rising around the globe.
However, new research from Brazil suggests an interesting defense against depression. Noting old findings that religious people are less likely to suffer depression, scientists analyzed survey data from more than 270 volunteers and found that the positive impact of religiosity was only indirect. The real source of protection against depression seemed to be whether or not the individual’s faith gave them a sense of meaning in life (Trends in Psychology, August 2, 2020). For those who were religious but had no sense of meaning in life, there was no significant protective effect against depression.
The truth about God’s plan and the purpose for human life outlined in the Bible makes it clear that biblical religion should permeate all aspects of the life of Christians. The true religion taught in God’s word reveals not just a meaning in life, but the meaning and purpose of life and the incredibly positive and exciting future that God has in store for all of humanity. This future is full of hope and can bring a remarkable peace of mind and encouragement in a world filled with doom and gloom. God has provided a way to fight depression in the pages of the Bible—a book that is viewed as irrelevant by many today.
In recent years, voices have been raised in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland to break up the United Kingdom, become independent, and possibly rejoin the European Union (The Economist, April 17, 2021). Brexit has put pressure on the seams of the UK, increasing the risk of splits in the ancient union. Many Scots in particular see leaving the UK and returning to Europe as a way to escape the Brexit-related shackles being imposed by the EU.
Actually leaving the UK could take years, but all the talk about potential departure serves to weaken the island nation now. Indeed, we are watching the “pride” of once-powerful Great Britain continue to erode (Leviticus 26:19). Boris Johnson was elected as Prime Minister to “get Brexit done” and save the UK. However, in the wake of Brexit, some warn he could instead preside over its breakup into separate nations. The outcome remains to be seen.
Few today realize that many of the British are descended from the Israelite tribe of Ephraim—one of the patriarch Joseph’s two sons. God promised remarkable blessings to Joseph’s descendants because of Abraham’s obedience (Genesis 12:1–3; 48:17–20; 49:22–26), but the indefinite continuation of those blessings was conditioned on obedience to God’s laws. The Bible also contains powerful warnings for all Israelite-descended nations, including Ephraim, that reject God and follow their own ways (cf. Deuteronomy 28). The prophet Hosea foretold that because Ephraim has turned away from God, its glory “shall fly away like a bird” (Hosea 9:10–11). This is now happening and will continue unless the nation repents.