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Mark 13:37 | “And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!

Historic Military Buildup in Japan

Japan has had a pacifist stance since World War II. Yet with China’s massive military buildup and territorial expansion in the South China Sea and North Korea’s overt missile testing, Japan is being moved to expand its military. In an unprecedented move, the island nation will double its military budget from 1 to 2 percent of its GDP, in line with the higher level expected of NATO members, by 2027. Japan will focus in part on “counter-strike” capabilities and buy hundreds of U.S.-made missiles to help reach this goal.

China has criticized this move, though it has engaged in its own massive military buildup for years. North Korea has also condemned the move with an official warning: “Japan is bringing a serious security crisis on the Korean Peninsula and in the East Asia region by adopting a new security strategy that effectively acknowledges its pre-emptive strike capabilities against other countries” (Reuters, December 19, 2022). These comments are ironic given that North Korea has test-launched dozens of missiles—including two intercontinental ballistic missiles—in the last year. Several of these missiles have been launched directly over Japan!

The military buildup and saber-rattling in the Asian region should grab the world’s attention, as nations increasingly seek not only to drastically improve their military capabilities, but also, in some cases, to bolster their nuclear armaments. The history of military confrontations among these nations, as well as the fact that it has been less than 80 years since many of these nations were engaged in a world war against each other, highlight the potential for this situation to escalate quickly and dangerously.

Bible prophecy warns that the warlike nature of many nations will surface again as the end of the age approaches, and that unless Jesus Christ returns to stop this madness, no flesh will be left alive (Matthew 24:22). The positive message of the Scriptures is that He will indeed return and save mankind from self-destruction.

A Vital Clean-Up Crew

Scavenging animals are often looked down upon as dirty creatures. Yet they play a vital role in balancing and protecting the ecosystem, and “the more scientists find out more about these consumers of the dead, the clearer it becomes that we should be valuing and protecting scavengers far more than we do today.… By devouring carcasses, they prevent pathogens from spreading to humans and wildlife and contaminants from leaching into the environment” (BBC, December 8, 2022).

Vultures, for example, are highly efficient at cleaning up dead animals. They can eat up to 40 percent of their body weight, compared to just 5 percent for most other scavenging animals. Vultures clean down to the bone, preventing the spread of pathogens—when vulture populations decline, diseases spread more easily. The efficiency of vultures also keeps feral dog populations in check, thus keeping rabies at bay. These scavengers even reduce the greenhouse gases emitted by decomposing carrion. Sadly, vulture populations are now in great decline in parts of the world such as the Indian subcontinent, due to poisons spread on animal carcasses and the drugs used to treat sick cattle, which, when they die, are consumed by the vultures.

God created our entire ecosystem to work together to keep our planet clean and keep diseases at a minimum. Yet mankind has not managed that ecosystem well and thus suffers the consequences. Additionally, human beings often consume many species that God created to keep the earth clean and pure. As more research is conducted, scientists are gaining a greater appreciation for creatures often thought to be unimportant or just another food source.

Brain-Computer Interfaces Advance

As technology continues to advance, one cutting-edge area focuses on brain-computer interfaces, or BCI (The Conversation, December 2, 2022). This new technology has many applications, from the biomedical field to defense arenas. However, ethicists fear that the technology is rushing forward while crucial ethical questions remain unanswered.

Medical science is seeking to develop BCI that will help people with brain injuries to lead fuller lives. Others seek to extend human abilities into new areas. Elon Musk’s Neuralink company is developing a brain implant that will allow people to communicate silently with anyone possessing a similar implant. DARPA—the U.S. military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency—is similarly developing the technology to enable soldiers to communicate with each other without speaking. Other applications could include operating military equipment and weaponry just by thinking about them. Some researchers hypothesize that some type of device could be embedded in a person’s brain to suppress fear and worry, with the potential to alter how soldiers process and evaluate the morality of a decision or command.

While the advances made possible through this cutting-edge technology are exciting to some, ethicists fear that they could also be used for evil purposes. God anciently confused the languages of humanity to slow our ability to develop anything we could imagine, unrestrained by godly morality. But science is now a global enterprise, and language is rarely a barrier. Increasingly, it seems that “nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them” (Genesis 11:6), as God warned would be the case. It remains to be seen how much longer He will allow mankind to “progress” before Jesus Christ returns to set up a new God-centered society.

Saudi Arabia and China Build Bonds

For decades, America and Saudi Arabia have had a marriage of convenience. Saudi Arabia provided the United States with access to oil and the U.S. provided Saudi Arabia with security—until recently. Some say the relationship began faltering after the September 11 attacks in 2001, when it was discovered that the majority of the terrorists involved were Saudi nationals. More recent events have fed the decline in relations between the nations.

Now China is reaching out to Saudi Arabia in a significant way, signing a major communications agreement and cooperating with missile technology. As China comes out of lockdown, one of Xi Jinping’s first state visits has been to Saudi Arabia. As Foreign Policy titled its analysis of the situation, “Xi’s Saudi Visit Shows Riyadh’s Monogamous Marriage to Washington Is Over” (December 7, 2022). Saudi Arabia is the largest oil exporter to China and provides a large market for Chinese products. President Xi is currently on much more friendly terms with Riyadh than Washington D.C. Although the U.S.-Saudi relationship will likely continue for a while, as the Foreign Policy article makes plain, Saudi Arabia is no longer content with only one wife, and it is actively courting new ones.

Bible prophecy uses a similar analogy about the end of the age and the coming punishment on Israelite-descended nations. “All your lovers have forgotten you; they do not seek you,” God says. Why? He explains that it is “for the multitude of your iniquities, because your sins have increased” (Jeremiah 30:14). Nations long allied with the American and British peoples are prophesied to turn on them as the Israelite peoples reject God and lose His favor. As we look around the globe today, it is important to watch for more of these once-friendly relationships to end or turn sour.

Conflict Draws Brothers Together

External threats have a way of driving people together. This is the case with Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. With increasing tensions in the South China Sea and belligerent talk from North Korea, Australia and America recently held talks to plan future joint military efforts (South China Morning Post, December 7, 2022). At the meetings, the U.S. Secretary of Defense warned that China’s dangerous actions in the region and its stated intentions concerning Taiwan are prompting defensive actions in other nations. As a result of the joint talks, the “United States will expand the number of bomber task force and fighter aircraft forces in Australia, add a U.S. army and navy presence, better integrate U.S.-Australian weapons manufacturing capabilities and invite Japan to join ‘force posture’ initiatives.”

In a broader move, Australia, the UK, and the U.S. signed an agreement in 2021 known as AUKUS, creating a strategic partnership between the three nations. As part of this relationship, the U.S. will share its nuclear propulsion technology with Australia and assist in the development of an Australian nuclear submarine fleet. The UK is the only other nation with which the U.S. has shared this nuclear technology.

But why are Australia, the UK, and the U.S. working so closely together and sharing powerful state secrets? The Bible reveals a little-understood reason! The ancestors of these nations are the ancient Israelite tribes that descended from two brothers, Ephraim and Manasseh, who were prophesied to become, respectively, a company or commonwealth of nations and a single great nation (Genesis 48:13–20). Although thousands of years have passed since those two boys were born, their descendants still feel a close kinship—especially in times of trouble. While Scripture reveals the origin of their strong bonds, Bible prophecies also reveal that these same nations will face serious consequences for turning away from the God who has blessed them.


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