Mark 13:37 | “And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”
A recent York University study of more than 250 rivers in more than 100 countries around the globe determined that many rivers are contaminated with pharmaceutical drugs. British media reported that “more than a quarter of the 258 rivers sampled had what are known as ‘active pharmaceutical ingredients’ present at a level deemed unsafe for aquatic organisms” (“Pharmaceuticals in rivers threaten world health—study,” BBC, February 15, 2022). The study found high levels of paracetamol (a pain killer), nicotine, caffeine, and drugs used to treat epilepsy and diabetes. How do these chemicals wind up in waterways? Most pass through the bodies of those who use them. Waste treatment plants do not completely break them down, and they are released into the environment.
As the BBC notes, the presence of dissolved human contraceptives has already negatively impacted fish development and reproduction, and researchers are concerned that the growing presence of antibiotics in our rivers will increase the level of antibiotic resistance in disease-causing bacteria. The lead author of the study suggests that reducing the availability of antibiotics and other drugs and more restrictive dosages could help begin to solve the problem.
The detrimental impact of drugs on the ecosystem and human beings living downstream is sobering. However, the Bible reveals the good news that the creation will one day “be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:21). The time is coming when humanity will no longer destroy the earth but will learn to use it as God originally intended.
In March, when world leaders met in Brussels to discuss the Russia and Ukraine situation, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was not invited (“EU downplays Boris Johnson Ukraine summit snub,” The Independent, March 23, 2022). When Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed the European parliament about Western nations standing together in defense of democracy, some members of parliament took the opportunity to rail at Trudeau.
Following Trudeau’s speech, Independent Croatian MEP Mislav Kolakušić described him as an enemy of freedom and human rights for his handling of the truck convoy protests in Ottawa earlier in the year: “Under your quasi-liberal boot in recent months, we watched how you trample women with horses, how you block the bank accounts of single parents so that they can’t even pay their children’s education and medicine, that they can’t pay utilities, mortgages for their homes” (“Trudeau faced harsh critics in the EU Parliament this week. Here’s who launched the attacks,” CBC, March 25, 2022). Later, German MEP Christine Anderson had additional harsh words for the Prime Minister, accusing him of perverting democracy in his own nation and saying that his actions should have precluded him from speaking in the democratic EU parliament. “Mr. Trudeau,” she concluded, “you are a disgrace for any democracy, please spare us your presence.”
While Britain’s influence has been waning for decades and the United States is increasingly viewed with contempt on the world stage, it seems Canada has joined the ranks of Israelite-descended countries scorned by nations of the world. In biblical prophecy, God clearly warns these nations that, at the end of the age, He “will break the pride of [their] power” because they have turned away from His laws (Leviticus 26:14–19).
In March of this year, the International Energy Agency (IEA) issued a fuel report. The IEA is an international body made up of 39 member and associate member nations, many of which are major players in international affairs. In its March report, the IEA put forth a ten-point plan to cut worldwide oil use. Some of the action steps include lowering speed limits, working from home three days a week, making public transportation cheaper to use, using high-speed trains instead of airplanes, and increasing the use of electric vehicles.
The third recommendation in the plan calls for the creation of “car-free Sundays.” This idea was tested in 3,000 cities and towns around the globe in 2021. According to the report, “Banning the use of private cars on Sundays brings a number of additional benefits to public health and well-being, including cleaner air, reduced noise pollution and improved road safety.”
The IEA is not a policy-making body, but instead makes recommendations to member nations, who are encouraged to seriously consider adopting them. Imagine the impact of entire nations enforcing car-use bans on Sundays. Entire nations will come to a halt, bringing them one step closer to adopting a “sabbath” every Sunday. Is it possible that the Roman Catholic Church could take advantage of such a shift? The Bible indicates that an enforcement of Sunday worship is coming.
With the war in Ukraine, grain prices are soaring. Russia and Ukraine supply a quarter of global wheat exports. Ukraine also produces 13 percent of global corn/maize exports. The price of wheat on the futures market is also surging (“Wheat continues surge toward all-time high as Russian invasion of Ukraine shuts down exports,” MSN, March 7, 2022). In just one week, the price of wheat rose six days in a row, and during the first week of March wheat futures rose by 40 percent. Wheat is now up about 70 percent in 2022, and global food prices have risen nearly 21 percent since last year (“Food prices jump 20.7% yr/yr to hit record high in Feb, U.N. agency says,” Reuters, March 5, 2022).
Due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, experts fear a global commodity shock is coming. Hungary, a major grain producer, has now ceased exporting grain (“Food Protectionism Is Spreading as Hungary Bans Grain Exports,” Bloomberg, March 4, 2022). A World Food Programme spokesperson noted, “War leads to greater food insecurity, and food insecurity increases the chance of unrest and violence. So a conflict in Ukraine leading to hunger and pushing people into food insecurity elsewhere could have potential for unrest and violence in other areas. And really, the world cannot afford another conflict” (“‘We need bread’: fears in Middle East as Ukraine war hits wheat imports,” Guardian, March 7, 2022).
Given broad dependence on global trade and many nations not producing their own crops, the world is ripe for food shortages in many regions—especially under the stress of war and subsequent supply-chain disruptions. Biblical prophecy foretells a time when the shortage of grain will become far worse than it is today, with a quart of wheat selling for an entire day’s wages (Revelation 6:6)—a famine that will come on the heels of war (vv. 3–4).
The Christian Post reported in March that an increasing number of people are not interested in organized religion. Members of Generation Z (born in the late 1990s and early 2000s) are being called the “least religious generation yet” (“Americans are leaving church and most aren’t coming back: report,” March 24, 2022). But those in Generation Z are not just less religious—they are also far more likely to be agnostic or atheist.
What is behind this? New research provides some important insights. According to the Christian Post, “There is a growing population of the religiously unaffiliated whose once religious parents raised them without religion.” Those who identify as non-religious are far more likely to come from a non-religious household. Those who currently claim to be religious are far more likely to have had positive religious experiences as they grew up, while “nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of Americans who report having no childhood religious affiliation say they still are unaffiliated as adults, rivaling that of established religious traditions.”
The Bible offers additional insights into this trend away from religion. Proverbs 22:6 tells us, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” If we do not teach children about God and biblical principles for living, how can we expect them to choose faith and godly living for themselves? This movement away from faith will bring additional consequences, as the Creator warned: “Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children” (Hosea 4:6). God holds parents responsible for teaching their children the difference between right and wrong, good and evil. When this does not happen, children will make dangerous choices in their lives.