Most of today's world is suffering, even the West. Glenn Townend gives biblical insight as to why.
In Iraq insurgents and recalcitrant Saddam hold-outs continue to kill and maim hundreds daily; in former Soviet states, there is continual unrest and talk of revolution; in North Korea, the threat of nuclear weapons strikes fear in the region. In Colombia and other South American countries drug lords and private armies manipulate society, while in Africa numerous countries suffer civil war, an AIDS epidemic, and dictators produce man-made famines. In the US, the world's richest country, the forces of nature combine to overwhelm human defences, submerging a city and drowning its economy.
With so much negative news in our world, what of it is truly significant in the big picture? At times we become desensitised and blase about the loss of human lives, the hurt and misery of others, andwonder how one can make sense of it all.
The answer depends on your perspective.I have a Judeo-Christian would view, which helps me make sense of our crazy world. My world view filters events - some register while others slip by to the keeper. However here are my top-two most significant events of recent toimes, the ones that I think count for something
The first is the attack on New York of September 11, 2001. The hijacked US airliners that plummeted more than 3000 people to their deaths shocked us all. It wasn't just the innocent dying in the aircrafft that ploughed through te World Trade Centrer Towers, nor those caught in the collapsing debris.
Rather it was the fear factor.
Terrorism has brough the enemy home.
As the recent events in London revealed, the terrorist can be the person seated next to you on the bus or train or the person ahead of you in the supermarket queue. FIghting an enemy who does not identify themselves until in full battle for their cause is not easy.
The world changed on September 11, 2001, something that's been reinforced since, with the bali and London bombings.
Personal and world security became a bigger issue.
People are really scard, despite going about their daily business as usual.
But it was to be expected. After all, we were warned of events such as these.
When talking about the scenario before the end of the world, Jesus said to His close followers nearly 2000 years ago, "Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is comiong on the world" (Luke 21:26). THis was a predictive sign to "watch", as not all humans can be trusted.
Boxing Day, 2004
Second is the Boxing Day, 2004, tsunami. The tsunami that levelled life in Thailand, India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia reminded us that the earth is not benign, that the forces tha raised the mountains and created the Great Rift Vally are still in place, and that we should prepare for more such shoking surprises.
We haven't seen such devastation happen so quickly and with so little chance to deal with it. In the wake of the flooding sea, humanity was helpless, completly at the mercy of the power of the sea. Was it human greed that caused it - the removal of gas and oil from beanth the earth?
Perhaps not, but the avalance of aid from around the blobe revealed another more positive side to humankind.
But Jesus' prediction of the end still haunts me. He said, "On the eath, nations will be in anguish and perplecity at the roaring and tossing of the sea" (Luke 21:25).
That's very specific. The world is now afriad of the possibility of even larger and more frequent natural disasters. Tsunami wanring centres are beiing set up in costal areas on ever continent. Life has changed again.
What's It All Mean?
People of every generation ask, "What are the significant events in the world?"
They've wondered about Jesus' predictions of the end of the world and interpret events they see and experience in the light of His word and wanrings.
More than 200 years ago there was a revival in the belief that Jesus Christ was returning to Planet Earth before it disintegrates. Believers in His second coming - the Second Advent - then became known "Adventists", as they believed in a second coming of Jesus to the earth. (His first was a baby, to Bethlehem.) They had their own "top-two" reasons as well.
The first was the relatively recent "dark day" of May 19, 1780. In the New England area of the United States, an omnious inky blackness crept across the land. First-hand accounts suggest it was so fark that people couldn't read out-of-doorsat midday.
There are reports of birds roosting, as if it were evening. It is on the record that the Connecticut Parliament adjourned.
These people focused on Jesus' prophetic words recoded in Matthew that "the sun will be darkned, and the moon will not give its light" (Matthew 24:29).
The second thing that had caught their attendtion was a night of falling stars that occured on November 12, 1933. This was believed to e the greatest meteoric shower in history. Scientific estimates suggested one billion shooting starts were seen in Canada and the United States in a four hour fireworks display. This, too, sent people searching for explanations and again Jesus' words made sense: "The stars will fall from the sk, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken" (Matthew 24:29).
A revival in the belief of Jesus' soon return thus led to what became known as the Great Advent Movement of the 19th century. This SIGNS OF THE TIMES is a legacy of that era, as its name suggests.
Jesus promise to rescue Planet Earth from eventual destruction is 2000 years old. Old or not, His words while not particularly relevant and accurate. The current events, viewed from the perspective of a BIble-believer, fit. And if He could predict events 2000 years hence, then His promise to return in also worth consideration
On our doorsteps Jesus' predictions are being fulfilled.. And perhaps things must get worse before they get better.
However Jesus never leaves anyone without hope. He says that when He returns He will end human greed, war and suffering, renewing us humans from the inside.
No matter your world view, His predictions and promises are worth thinking about.