Mark 13:37 | “And What I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”
For the better part of a century, Britain brought roads, bridges, railroads, and infrastructure development to Africa—but it also took from the land and its people. In the early 1960s, Britain granted multiple African nations independence and pulled out. However, within a decade, China began to take its place (The Telegraph, May 31, 2023). With their Belt and Road initiative, China has built roads, ports, factories, jobs, and infrastructure in many African nations. Yet China is following in the footsteps of Britain and the other colonial powers in other ways, as well.
Over the last 20 years, China has invested nearly US$160 billion in Africa—often in the form of loans. Since the 1970s, China has invested almost US$3 billion in just Sierra Leone. Chinese money opens doors for the exploitation of nationally and internationally protected lands. By some accounts, armed guards protect Chinese workers encroaching into disputed or protected territory while national governments look the other way. China is effectively leveraging Africa’s internal political corruption and conflicts for its own gain—not unlike colonial powers in times past. African communities with few sources of meaningful employment and lacking electricity and running water are willing to jump at any opportunity to improve conditions today—disregarding long-term consequences.
China is not the only nation to behave this way. This cycle has been repeated around the world and throughout time. When powerful nations enter weaker ones, they seldom care about the peoples or the soil they occupy—their motive is profit and improving their own situation. Sadly, this cycle will not change until Jesus Christ returns to set up the Kingdom of God, where the focus will be on giving instead of getting and nations will be taught to wisely manage the earth instead of draining resources while ignoring the consequences or harm caused. Until then, nations will continue to be greedy for gain.
The United Kingdom and United States recently signed a new agreement to cooperate in the areas of “clean energy, critical minerals and artificial intelligence” (Reuters, June 8). According to British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s office, under the new Atlantic Declaration, “Britain and the United States will strengthen their supply chains, develop technologies of the future and invest in one another’s industries.” Mr. Sunak and U.S. President Joe Biden agreed to set up a new “civil nuclear partnership” to reduce British reliance on Russian energy and agreed to create a “data bridge” that would allow UK businesses to transfer data to the U.S. with less red tape.
Today, we are witnessing a new regionalization of national alliances. China, India, Russia, Iran, and other nations in their area of the world are growing closer. Pacific nations are also working more closely together. European nations are working toward greater cooperation and harmonization, despite routine national personality conflicts. Meanwhile, two nations separated by an ocean—the UK and the U.S.—continue to maintain their decades-long relationship and draw even closer together to share sensitive national security secrets.
Students of Bible prophecy should not be surprised. End-time prophecies focus on four major end-time world powers: The King of the North (or “beast” of Revelation), a group of European nations led by Germany that will eventually occupy the Holy Land; the King of the South, a group of Arab-Muslim nations that work against this “beast”; kings from the East, a group of nations that will likely include China, Russia, India, and other nations that earn the wrath of the “beast” (see Daniel 11:40–44); and the Israelite-descended nations—the U.S., UK, and other British-descended nations that will decline and go into some form of national captivity. Watch for prophesied conflict among these key powers.
According to a new report from the United Nations refugee agency, last year “saw a record spike in people forcibly uprooted from their homes” (Deutsche Welle, June 14). In 2022, the number of displaced people around the globe rose by nearly twenty million—with many connected to the war in Ukraine and the conflict in Sudan. Tragically, poorer countries sometimes bear the burden of housing refugees.
One encouraging item in the report is that in 2022, nearly six million displaced persons were able to return to their homes—primarily in Syria, Ethiopia, and Myanmar. However, more than one hundred million people were displaced.
War, lust, and greed are major contributors to the forcible displacement of people from their homes. Yet, there is good news on the horizon. The Bible reveals that Jesus Christ is going to return to set up the Kingdom of God and put an end to war (Isaiah 2:4). Also, God will create a system where land remains in a family’s possession. Even if it is lost for a time, it will be returned to the family at the end of each 50-year cycle. Home and land are important to human beings, and they are also very important to God.
A.I. has been in use behind the scenes for years and has become so common that it is involved in everything from the online shopping recommendations we receive to whether we are approved for a loan. But where is A.I. headed? With the advent of widely accessible A.I. services, such as ChatGPT, whole new realms of possibility have been opened, potentially replacing tremendous amounts of human work. Now, some are routinely using A.I. to generate original images, write original essays, and even imitate the voices of others.
In an online interview published on YouTube, popular and influential author Yuval Noah Harari has even suggested that an advanced, future A.I. could one day be used to author a new religious book to replace the Bible—allowing some to claim the book truly was generated by a superhuman intelligence: “Think about a religion whose holy book is written by an A.I. That could be a reality in a few years” (“Humanity Is Not That Simple,” June 6).
In a recent German Lutheran worship service in Bavaria, around 300 congregants listened to a sermon, prayers, and music generated almost entirely by A.I.—with words written by ChatGPT and images and voices generated by other A.I. software (Associated Press, June 10). A 29-year-old University of Vienna theologian and philosopher, Jonas Simmerlein, who used A.I. to create the church service, claimed, “I conceived this service—but actually I rather accompanied it, because I would say about 98 percent comes from the machine.” Later, members of the congregation commented that the sermon was presented in a monotone manner and without emotion—but the technology is always improving.
How will true believers navigate the increasingly complex world of A.I.-informed religion that some believe is coming? People will need to know their Bibles to verify—or contradict—what the A.I. source is saying (1 Thessalonians 5:21; Isaiah 8:20). They will also need to be guided by God’s Holy Spirit. As the Apostle Paul noted, “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God” (1 Corinthians 2:11). Artificial intelligence searches vast databases and compiles its results from those databases. However, the truth of the Bible cannot be compiled from databases, but rather requires godly discernment guided by God’s Holy Spirit. As time moves forward, truth will become rare (Isaiah 59:14). People will need to draw nearer to God, dive deeper into their Bibles, and be led more fully by His Spirit to avoid being deceived.
Many European politicians have long prided themselves on being “centrists”—neither too far to the right nor too far to the left. Those toward the ends of the spectrum have often been viewed as extremists. But this appears to be changing. According to Politico, in a recent vote on migration, “Europe’s traditional center-right conservatives were now willing to caucus with [right-wing Italian Prime Minister Giorgia] Meloni, who leads a post-fascist party in Italy, ditching the doubts that had long kept the far-right isolated. Meanwhile, centrist and left-leaning countries like the Netherlands and Denmark had come around to Italy’s thinking—and Germany was too splintered internally to do anything about it” (June 21).
However, this shift to the right is not limited to the issue of migration. The change in sentiment is being felt in other initiatives, as well, such as European plans for climate regulations. While traditionally left-leaning Germany, which usually gets its way in parliamentary issues, is in political turmoil, much of Europe appears to be moving to the right. “The trend will inevitably have implications for the EU,” Politico reports, “which will elect a new European Parliament in 2024 and then reshuffle its Brussels leadership. Already, progressives are expressing anxiety about the reshaped right, while the powerful center-right European People’s Party (EPP) is eyeing team-up possibilities with the far-right to push its agenda.”
Students of Bible prophecy should keep an eye on these political shifts in Europe. Scripture indicates that a powerful individual—referred to as a “beast”—will emerge in Europe. This person will lead Germany and other European leaders for a short period of time just before Jesus Christ returns to this earth (see Revelation 13 and 17). These national leaders will “give their power and authority” to this person for a time (Revelation 17:12–13), profoundly impacting the rest of the world—especially the United States, the British-descended nations, and the modern nation of Israel.