Are the divisions and disputes in our world tearing society apart, even at the spiritual level? Who is pulling our strings and pushing us to anger and strife, and how badly does the world need Christ’s return?
We live in a polarized world where there are very real differences between East and West, North and South. The divide between rich and poor is becoming wider and more apparent. There are fervent disagreements between people within national boundaries. Different races and tribes do not always get along. Somewhere around half of us are male, the other half female—but even that is considered too simplistic, as some think those biological differences are too restrictive. There are intractable divisions over what is moral and what is not.
Democratic nations are badly divided. Italy cannot agree for very long on who is in charge; according to GlobalSecurity.org, it had 63 governments in the 70 years from 1946 to 2015. The United States is bitterly split. A divided Israel held four elections in just two years before removing Benjamin Netanyahu, its longest-serving Prime Minister, and now there are allegations that the Israeli state police used Pegasus software to spy on Netanyahu and other politicians, thus influencing the elections.
Universities have “safe spaces” and give “trigger warnings” to avoid offending anyone, but this coddling only encourages more sensitivities in students who are unable to cope with others who disagree with them. And the word culture is often preceded by cancel. What a world in which we live!
We see these conflicting views firsthand here at Tomorrow’s World. Most letters and emails we receive are positive, but not all. Mr. Wallace Smith was recently criticized as being pro-Biden and anti-Trump. I have been accused of being on both sides of the political divide. But Mr. Smith and I are on the same page about these matters: neither Mr. Trump, nor Mr. Biden, nor any other perceived hero of politics will save America—or any country that rejects its Creator.
Some letters are vicious; some are comical. One I received in response to one of my telecasts was so entertaining that I had my secretary frame it for my office. That one, at least, can be displayed. The same cannot be said for one Mr. Smith recently received. You must have a sense of humor these days, and none of us here are overly sensitive. As former United States President Harry Truman famously said, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”
Yet one must wonder why there is so much animosity in the world. How does one television program, or a single article from a free magazine, provoke such angry reactions and responses?
The answer is explained in my article “A Catastrophic Storm Is Coming,” found on page 16 of this issue. Few professing Christians, much less agnostics and atheists, understand the source of the unhappiness the world over. Jesus told His disciples as His crucifixion approached, “Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out” (John 12:31). A little later He said, “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me” (John 14:30). Who is the “ruler of this world? And what did Jesus mean when He said, “the ruler of this world… has nothing in me”?
The god of this world is called “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2). Just as radio waves travel invisibly through the air, so that prince—more widely known as Satan the Devil—broadcasts his moods and attitudes of anger, hatred, pride, self-will, and rebellion into unsuspecting minds to direct “the course of this world.” We understand that the God of Creation is in charge overall, but long ago He placed the angel Lucifer over the affairs of this planet. Lucifer became proud and arrogant; he was not satisfied with what was given to him, and in trying to exalt his throne above God, he became Satan the Devil (Isaiah 14:12–13). When Jesus said, “he has nothing in Me,” He meant that the attitudes of the Devil could find no home within Him.
Can we say the same? How much of our thinking is inspired by the god of this world? Are we easily offended? Do we have a victim mentality, thinking that our problems are everyone else’s fault? Are we filled with anger? Do we think no one can tell us what to do? As we approach the climax of mankind’s attempt at self-rule apart from God, we will face more trying and difficult circumstances. We will face anger from others. And, seeing all that is happening around us, we too may be filled with anger and a desire for revenge.
Two of Jesus’ disciples traveling to Jerusalem were offended when they were refused lodging in a Samaritan city. You might say their lodging was “canceled.” Indeed, cancel culture is nothing new, but it is being taken to new heights today. Referring to King Ahaziah’s attempt to have the prophet Elijah arrested, Jesus’ two disciples asked, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?” That would have been the ultimate in cancel culture! No wonder Jesus called James and John “Sons of Thunder.” “But He turned and rebuked them, and said, ‘You do not know what manner of spirit you are of’” (Luke 9:54–55).
Ray Dalio, co-chief investment officer of the largest hedge fund in the world, has studied the rise and fall of world economies—and he sees where this anger is leading. He identifies six stages through which societies pass, and his markers indicate that we are in stage five. You can probably guess what the last stage is by the title of a recent article in his Principled Perspectives newsletter, published at LinkedIn.com: “The Rising Risk of Civil War: Following in the Footsteps of History” (February 3, 2022).
Quoting from page 176 of his book Principles for Dealing with the Changing World Order: Why Nations Succeed and Fail, he describes our place in the cycle of rise and fall: “In Stage 5, those who are fighting typically work with those in the media to manipulate people’s emotions to gain support and to destroy the opposition. It is well-recognized this is now happening…. Even very capable and powerful people are now too afraid of the media to speak up about important matters or run for public office.”
Dalio agrees with the many historians who see patterns that repeat themselves in the rise and fall of nations. Philosopher George Santayana’s famous quote from his 1905 book The Life of Reason rings true: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” The best historians recognize this, but only a very few have any understanding of the spirit presence that seeks to influence human behavior. Human nature, influenced by that evil, unhappy spirit, takes nations down paths of destruction.
The greatest history book ever written is the Bible—the foundation of truth. This amazing, God-inspired book records history in advance. More than 2,600 years ago, the prophet Isaiah described what we see today: “Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands afar off; for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter. So truth fails, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey” (Isaiah 59:14–15).
Isaiah’s words should sober us as we read in the above-mentioned article Dalio’s description of the transition from where we are to where we are going: “When winning becomes the only thing that matters, unethical fighting becomes progressively more forceful in self-reinforcing ways. When everyone has causes that they are fighting for and no one can agree on anything, the system is on the brink of civil war/revolution.”
Not all civil wars are shooting wars—but they are still uncivil. The September/October 2020 issue of Tomorrow’s World contained the article “Is America Entering a Second Civil War?” We are not the only ones asking that question. But we are among the very few who know the ultimate answer—that after the coming time of devastating economic, social, and natural disaster, Jesus Christ will return as King of kings to establish a world without war.