Are We Living In The Last Days? George P Ritter & Brian Knowles
Part 1: The Handwriting Is on the Wall:
Over two millennia ago, during the twilight of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, a series of strange events changed the course of history. King Belshazzar held a mammoth banquet and invited all of his subordinate rulers to attend (Dan. 5:1). During the festivities, Belshazzar used the gold and silver vessels originally taken from Solomon's Temple by Nebuchadnezzar (II Chron. 36:7; Dan. 5:2). The king, the rulers, wives and concubines then drank from the vessels and praised the pagan gods of Babylon. This unfortunate act showed contempt and disdain for the religion of Israel and constituted an open affront to God Himself. At the very height of this pagan orgy of self-indulgence, God determined to act.
A Strange Phenomenon King Belshazzar was suddenly frozen with fear as a bizarre phenomenon took place before his very eyes. The color drained from his flushed face as he watched a dismembered hand begin to write some mysterious symbols on the wall near where he stood. The king was unable to decipher the enigmatic writing. Trembling with fear, he called for his wise men and wizards. He promised the position of " third ruler in the kingdom" to anyone who could determine the meaning of the handwriting that was on the palace wall. None could provide the answer. The king and his staff were perplexed. No one could be found who could determine the meaning of the writing. Finally the queen suggested that Daniel the Jew be brought in.
Enter Daniel To make a long story short, Daniel, by God's inspiration, was able to give the king the meaning of the words. They read: "Mene, mene, tekel, and parsin" (Dan. 5:25). Each word indicated a weight. Mene was a "mina." Tekel represented a "shekel." And parsin was two "half-minas." These words could also be read as verbs: "to number," "to weigh," and "to divide." Thus the interpretation by Daniel: "... God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end... you have been weighed in the balances and found wanting... your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and the Persians "'(verses 26-28). Belshazzar had made the fatal mistake of publicly dishonoring the very God who gave him the breath of life (verse 23). He had openly and flagrantly insulted God by using the sacred vessels from God's Temple (which building Jesus later called "my Father's house") in an orgy of pagan worship. In addition, the king had figuratively thumbed his nose at the divinely originated religion of Israel and at the "holy nation" itself. As a result, the "Neo-Babylonian "empire disappeared into the sands of history and a new empire — the Medo-Persian — emerged in its place. The handwriting that had been on the palace wall had signaled the end of a kingdom and the dawning of a new age.
Another Kingdom Today, it would seem, the handwriting is once again on the wall. Another kingdom is about to fall and a new age will dawn. The kingdom that is about to fall is not a human kingdom, though human beings are among the subjects of that kingdom. The wicked kingdom that is soon to fall is the kingdom of the devil. And the handwriting has been "on the wall" for centuries — in the pages of your Bible. Before we look into the specific prophecies concerning the fall of that kingdom, let's look into the nature of it. Paul wrote of "the god of this world." He said: "... The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ" (II Cor. 4:4). Who is it who has blinded and deceived this world? The apostle John answers: "And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world..." (Rev. 12:9). It is Satan who has blinded this world to the truth of the gospel. It is he who is the "prince of this world" (John 12:31, KJV). This "present evil world" is not of God's making — it is Satan's system! He is its god. He is its ruler and deceiver. In the well-known temptation incident in the wilderness, we find the devil offering Christ "all of the kingdoms of the world" if He would only fall down and worship him (Matt. 4:8, 9). Jesus did not argue with the devil's right to offer those earthly kingdoms — He simply refused the offer! This present society and all human societies since the Garden of Eden owe their state of spiritual darkness to the devil and his angelic followers. He is the great Deceiver. He is a perpetrator of human pain and suffering. He is, in the ultimate sense, a source of conflict and war within human society. He is Apollyon — the Destroyer (Rev. 9:11).
The First Rebellion Satan and his high-ranking demonic assistants wield influence and power in this present society. Originally, they were faithful servants of God. But they were not content with the domain over which God had placed them. They rebelled against their Creator. They now exist in a state of spiritual darkness awaiting the final judgment" of God. Jude wrote of them in verse 6 of his brief letter: "And the angels that did not keep their own position but left their proper dwelling have been kept by him in eternal chains in the nether gloom until the judgment of the great day." Satan and his angels, now known as demons, are "in chains." That is, they are restrained from wielding their full powers. Notice also II Peter 2:4: "... God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of nether gloom to be kept until the judgment." The Greek word translated "hell" here is tartarus. It indicates a state or condition of restraint. (This is the only place in the Bible where the word is used.) Satan and his demonic followers can do no more than God allows. If Satan had his way, he would immediately destroy God's human creation — but God has held him in check. The devil and his fallen angels can only do what God allows. This important point is fully explained in our free reprint article "WHY Must Men SUFFER?" God's angels, led by Michael and Gabriel, are revealed in Scripture to be far more powerful than Satan and his demons. This is largely because they have the direct backing of God Himself. God limits the powers of Satan and his kingdom, as is revealed in the book of Job (Job 1, 2).
Daniel's Vision The book of Daniel contains an interesting and valuable revelation concerning angelic activities in the realm of human kingdoms. The scene opens in the third year of Cyrus, king of Persia (Dan. 10:1). Daniel had been given a vision. He desperately wanted to know the meaning of the vision. He fasted and prayed for a period of three weeks (verses 2, 3). God heard his prayer and sent a high-ranking angel — probably Gabriel, who has often been used as God's message bringer (Luke 1:19-38) — to reveal the meaning of the vision to Daniel. In the course of the angel's explanation, an interesting insight into the goings-on of the spiritual world is provided: "Then he said to me, 'Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your mind to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words. The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, so I left him there with the prince of the kingdom of Persia and came to make you understand what is to befall your people in the latter days. For the vision is for days yet to come'" (Dan. 10:12-14). Who is this mysterious prince of Persia? Who is Michael? Michael is called "one of the chief princes." He is obviously one of God's representatives — not a follower of Satan. Elsewhere in the Bible we find that Michael is revealed to be one of the "covering cherubs" — one of the angelic beings who covered the throne of God with his wings (Ezek. 28:16). Apparently, there were originally three such cherubs — Lucifer, Michael (Israel's "prince" — Dan. 12:1), and Gabriel. These three were the "chief princes" among God's angels. Lucifer, Gabriel and Michael may have each ruled over one third of the angels. When Lucifer rebelled, and became known as "Satan" (the adversary), he took one third of the angels with him (Rev. 12:4). Indications are that the remaining two thirds of the angelic host remained loyal to God and to Michael and Gabriel. It is possible that Satan himself was the enigmatic "prince of Persia" referred to in Daniel 10. Satan is the "god of this world" and Persia was the dominant world kingdom at the time. These two remaining cherub-rank angels may have been symbolized by the two pure-gold cherubim that covered the mercy seat in the tabernacle in the wilderness (Ex. 25:17-22). Lucifer was dropped from his office as a "covering cherub" following his pre-Adamic rebellion. (Read our free booklet Did God Create a Devil? It will explain the origin of Satan and his original rebellion.) If this explanation of Daniel 10 is correct, then we see that there are high-ranking angels who follow Lucifer and often influence the activities of the rulers of the kingdoms of this world! Is it any wonder that God calls Satan the "prince of this world"! Michael, on the other hand, is Israel's "prince" (Dan. 12:1). He takes care of God's interests in terms of Israel. As God works out His purposes in the human realm, Satan, the temporary god of this world, along with his angels, opposes Him. God is infinitely more powerful than Satan and, in the final analysis, there is no contest. God always triumphs!
Satan's Ministers Yet today Satan has his representatives at every stratum of human society. He broadcasts his insidious message into the hearts and minds of millions. Even the world of religion is filled with the ministers of Satan. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: "... Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is not strange if his servants [ministers, KJV] also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness" (II Cor. 11:14-15). Satan's ministers often appear righteous. They will most often appropriate God's name to impart authority to their ministry. But in reality they are the servants of Satan. Such ministers have even, on occasion, performed actual miracles! But the power to perform these deceptive miracles has not originated with God but with the devil. Down through the ages superstitious believers have been deceived by "lying wonders" and deceptive miracles. Bleeding madonnas and visions of so-called "saints" along with other bizarre "miracles" have duped a gullible populace since the beginnings of human history. But God has not been involved in these pointless manifestations of the spirit world. They have been of the devil and his followers and ministers.
Upsurge in Spiritism Today, interest in the metaphysical world is at an all-time high for this period in history. Astrology and horoscopes, seances, ESP, poltergeists, and other phenomena fascinate modern man. And curiosity may soon kill the cat! (For more information on these spiritist activities, read our free booklet The Occult Explosion - What Does It Mean?) God reveals that there will be an increase in occult activities in the end time. The stage may even now be set for a dazzling display of Satanic, "miracle-working" power that will stagger the imagination! Just prior to the return of Jesus Christ, "unclean spirits" (demons) will be again used by Satan. They will influence powerful military and political leaders to do battle against the returning Christ. John saw the whole thing in a mind-shattering vision recorded in the book of Revelation: "Then I saw coming from the mouth of the dragon [Satan], the mouth of the beast [end-time political/military leader], and the mouth of the false prophet [end-time supreme religious leader], three foul spirits like frogs. These spirits were devils [demons], with power to work miracles. They were sent out to muster all the kings of the world for the great day of battle of God the sovereign Lord " (Rev. 16:13-15, The New English Bible). Those who are alive then will see one of the greatest manifestations of Satan's power in the human realm! The devil will actually be able, with the aid of other fallen spirits, to mobilize the kings of this earth and their armies against the returning Jesus Christ! This shows clearly just how much influence he has in the human realm as the god of this world! Leading up to these climactic end-time events will be signs and wonders that will dazzle the hearts and minds of the superstitious millions. Satan, like the pied piper of Hamlin, will mesmerize millions with his incredible power. Human leaders will be given miraculous power by the devil — for the advancement of his own diabolical purposes! One great religious leader, also called a "beast," will emerge. He will perform the most dazzling feats imaginable: "Then I saw another beast [a religious leader].... It worked great miracles, even making fire come down from heaven to earth before men's eyes. By the miracles it was allowed to perform in the presence of the beast [military leader] it deluded the inhabitants of the earth..." (Rev. 13:11-14, The New English Bible). People will be deceived by these metaphysical manifestations and "lying wonders." They will believe that the "great power of God" (Acts 8:10) is at work in these individuals. In the latter days of Satan's kingdom there will be a dramatic upsurge in apparent miracles. There will be a marked increase in spiritism of all types.
A New Dark Age The earth's populace will descend into a new Dark Age of fear and superstition. Religious activity will reach an unprecedented high as ecclesiastical leaders perform dazzling miracles by the power of Satan. Fear religion will once again permeate the earth. The "mark of the beast" will be left on all who allow themselves to come under the influence of these powerful end-time leaders. Only those who submit will be permitted to buy or sell; those who refuse to become a part of this Satanic system — " Babylon the Great" — will be allowed to starve (Rev. 13:11-17). The true people of God will be persecuted and, in thousands of instances, martyred. The Spanish Inquisition, the bloody Crusades and the Reformation persecutions will be paled into insignificance as the blood of modern martyrs flows through the streets of the world. Thousands will die in bloody and ruthless purges (Rev. 13:7; 16:6; 17:6; 18:24; etc.). Figuratively speaking, those who have been murdered in the name of religion will cry out to God: "O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before thou wilt judge and avenge our blood... ?" (Rev. 6:10.) The reply is: "... rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been." Throughout the ages, those who have remained true to God, to Christ, and to
Leading up to these climactic end-time events will be signs and wonders that will dazzle the hearts and minds of the superstitious millions. Satan will mesmerize millions with his incredible power.
the way of truth have been mercilessly martyred by those who have believed they were rendering God a service in so doing (John 16:2). And history has not yet seen the end of such terrible martyrdoms! God will have yet more elect to avenge. And vengeance will come!
End of Satan's Kingdom The Bible speaks about "the days of vengeance" (Luke 21:22). This is a time of prophetic fulfillment "to fulfil all that is written." That time is nearer than you might have believed. Prophecy marches on! The end of Satan's kingdom and the manifestation of the Kingdom of God are near at hand. Jesus spoke of a time when "the ruler of this world [will] be cast out" (John 12:31). Yet today, Satan is still very much in power. God's saints know their true identity and affiliation, but those who have been deceived by Satan — the vast majority in this world — don't realize who they are serving. "We know that we are of God, and the whole world is in the power of the evil one" (I John 5:19). The time is coming when the devil's power will be dissolved. The handwriting is now on the wall for Satan's kingdom — and, consequently, for the kingdoms of this world which he controls. Daniel wrote of the establishment of God's Kingdom on this earth. He said "... The God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed .... It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand for ever" (Dan. 2:44). The Kingdom of God will come in power. It will usurp all earthly kingdoms and will establish a universal theocracy. This momentous event represents the dawning of a new age — not the end of the world as some have mistakenly believed. Satan will have no part in that kingdom. He, and his followers — human and angelic alike — will be banished from all influence and activity during the period called "the millennium." At the beginning of Christ's rule on earth, Satan will be forcibly removed from office. "Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years were ended. After that he must be loosed for a little while" (Rev. 20:1-3). The handwriting is now on the wall for Satan's kingdom. He and his followers have been weighed in the balances and found wanting. His kingdom will be taken from him and given to Him who alone rules with justice and equity — Jesus Christ. Peace will break out everywhere! But before that peaceful Kingdom is established on this earth, the world must endure a time of trouble unprecedented in human experience.
Part Two: Is Doomsday at Our Door?
It's becoming increasingly difficult to discern the difference between the utterances of the secular prophets and those of the Bible-thumping religious variety. If no Holy Bible had ever been written, there would still be reason for alarm. If there had never been a Jeremiah, or an Isaiah, or an Ezekiel, there would still be ample reason to believe that we are living near the end of an age! For centuries, prophets, evangelists and assorted religious radicals have been launching impassioned jeremiads about the end of the world. Every natural or unnatural disaster has been seen as a sure sign of the end. Because so many harebrained predictions have been made in the past, people have become skeptical. The religious prophets have cried "Wolf!" once too often. Others claim there have always been wars, famines and pestilences, and that such earth-shaking events are nothing new. But today, a whole new "school of prophets" is raising a collective voice of warning about a number of areas of concern where human problems appear to be reaching "critical mass."
The Almost Forgotten Crisis None has been more obvious than the shock brought on by the Arab oil embargo and the energy crisis. But these chilling events should not have come as a surprise. Numerous "secular prophecies" regarding energy shortages were sounded years ago. In 1972 John F., O'Leary, former director of U.S. Bureau of Mines, warned: "We can anticipate that before the end of this century energy supplies will become so restricted as to halt economic development around the world." Today it appears that the message still hasn't sunk in. Since the Arab oil embargo, total energy demands have galloped along at a five percent annual increase and are projected to double in another 15 years. Most Americans and a large number of their Congressmen act as if the nation is still sitting on top of unlimited supplies of petroleum and natural gas. Rather than attack the problem of America's growing dependence on imported oil, many seem more interested in dismantling major oil companies. Few seem concerned with the fact that proven petroleum and gas reserves in the lower 48 states are nearing exhaustion. "No problem. Eventually technology will come to our rescue," cry the optimists. "We can develop nuclear, solar and fusion power. We also have unlimited coal reserves." It sounds fine in theory, but it doesn't work that way in practice. People have been overoptimistic about new energy sources for years. After World War II, nuclear power was heralded as the wave of the energy future. Now, almost three decades later, the atomic power program is mired in a sea of uncertainty. Concerned citizens are worried about things like reactor melt-downs, earthquakes and sabotage. Nobody has figured out what to do with the highly toxic nuclear wastes. And as fission power grows, so does man's capability to manufacture atomic weapons. By 1980 there will be enough worldwide nuclear by-products accumulated to produce 35,000 Hiroshima-type atomic bombs. This "too-little, too-late" problem plagues other new sources of energy as well. Fusion power is at the very least decades away. Solar power is not as unlimited as the name implies. Solar collection and transmission systems would themselves require tremendous amounts of energy, resources and capital. If the sun were used to supply the entire electrical needs of the city of New York, a solar collector 15 miles long would be necessary." Coal is one energy source that is eminently usable in its present state. But like the others, it too has serious drawbacks, not the least of which is strip mining. While there are vast reserves in the western United States, limited water and energy supplies have already put something of a damper on its current development. And how does a society "hooked" on petroleum and natural gas ultimately adapt itself to other energy sources? When does Detroit start retooling to make steam-, electric-, or methane-powered automobiles? How much capital, energy, time and resources will it take to replace oil-fired power plants? Perhaps that's why Representative Morris K. Udall warned: "America has been on a three-decade-long energy binge, and a massive hangover is in prospect."
End of Metallurgical Affluence The same can be said for the Western world's prodigal use of minerals during the twentieth century. Like energy, the days of cheap, easily recoverable ores is rapidly drawing to a close. Reserves of platinum, uranium, tin, silver and mercury are projected to be extremely tight by the end of this century. Known supplies of other important minerals such as copper, nickel and aluminum could be severely depleted in the next century. In viewing the situation, Lester R. Brown of the Overseas Development Council recently warned: "The U.S. and the world are moving from an age of relative resource abundance to an era of relative scarcity." California Senator John Tunney was also moved to write: "The United States and the world are approaching the threshold of the outer limits of growth in the use of finite resources and the pollution of the planet. Rationality and will are required if humanity is to survive." But others don't see it that way. According to the noted economist Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen of Vanderbilt University: "The apparent mineralogical bonanza which over the last one hundred years fostered the unparalleled economic progress of a handful of nations may account for the strange conviction of the economists of these lands that material growth can go on forever."
Every natural or unnatural disaster has been seen as a sure sign of the end. Because so many hare-brained predictions have been made in the past, people have become skeptical.
Again, unbounded faith is placed in technology to bail us out of our future mineral woes. According to the advocates of the technological fix, we can dig deeper, use cheaper grades of minerals, extract precious metals from the sea, recycle and come up with substitutes. There is no such thing as a mineral shortage, they claim, because the earth's crust, taken as one massive mother lode, contains more than enough of the precious metals. But this approach is fraught with ecological, economic and energy-oriented shortcomings. Ultimately we would be forced to tear into valuable timber, farm and grazing lands. Already plans for strip mining in the western United States are being hampered by this conflict of terrestrial interest. And the environmental penalties incurred by uprooting and processing huge chunks of real estate could be devastating. The idea that man can go on perpetually mining ever poorer grades of minerals until he is virtually extracting them from common rock is also fallacious. The advocates of this approach forget that in nature, as in every human enterprise, there is no "free lunch." Progressive mining of poorer grades of minerals in itself requires massive inputs of resources and energy. Eventually a point is reached where the amount of resources committed is greater than that which is extracted. Such ventures will not only be unprofitable, but unproductive as well. This "dig-further-and-deeper" solution is also predicated on the availability of cheap and abundant energy. As we've already seen, energy supplies will be far from cheap and abundant in the future. The same limitation applies to recycling. Up to a certain point recycling can be both profitable and productive. But recycling produces its own wastes and is impractical for minerals such as silver and mercury that are dispersed widely in small quantities. Mining the seas does hold some promise in the short term for increasing future supplies of copper, cobalt, manganese and nickel. These minerals have been discovered scattered across the ocean floor in the form of small round objects called nodules. But nodules are by no means a metallurgical panacea. They can only supply four basic minerals, and, if present growth rates continue for any length of time, deep-sea nodules would be hard put to meet future demands. Getting them to the surface may turn out to be a thorny technological problem. And in the process, no one is sure what kind' of impact this type of oceanic mining will have on the marine environment. Substitution is another alternative with limitations. Copper was the number one metal of the bronze age, but was not made obsolete by the discovery of iron. Neither has the use of aluminum conductors diminished overall demand for copper substantially. Given sufficient and continuous demand, eventually supplies of both the original mineral and its substitute will begin to diminish. And many scarce materials such as helium and mercury have, at present, no known substitutes.
A Not-So-Vast Planet While man continues to voraciously deplete the land, he indiscriminately pollutes the oceans with refuse, poisons and industrial wastes. Unfortunately, the sea, as it turns out, may be the weakest link in the earth's fragile chain of life. Recently Captain Jacques Cousteau warned: "Each month we now pour so many millions of tons of poisonous wastes into the living sea that in perhaps twenty years, perhaps sooner, the oceans will have received their mortal wound and will start to die." And according to Thor Heyerdahl, "a dead ocean" will ultimately result in "a dead planet." Strong words from the secular prophets! Yet few take them seriously. Many feel that such warnings are exaggerated overdramatic jeremiads that have no basis in scientific fact. Several years ago, a leading British scientist took issue with the ecological doomsayers in regard to the continued pollution of the oceans with mercury. "The oceans are so vast and contain so much mercury already," he wrote, "that if the annual production of the world's mercury mines were dumped straight into the sea, it would take between 2,500 and 10,000 years before the natural concentration was doubled." In his haste to reprimand the ecological prophets, this eminent scientist overlooked some rather obvious scientific facts himself. First of all, life is not evenly distributed throughout the oceans. Over 90 percent of all sea creatures occupy less than one percent of the marine environment. Those areas most heavily populated are also most easily polluted by man. Toxic materials themselves do not uniformly spread throughout the sea. And what phytoplankton may absorb in diluted amounts, ends up in the tissues of higher-order predators such as birds, seals and man in highly concentrated doses. It's no wonder that Barry Commoner, in assessing man's unecological mentality, recently had this to say: "Unless we begin to match our technological power with a deeper understanding of the balance of nature, we run the risk of destroying this planet as a suitable place for human habitation."
The Growing Hunger Gap Commoner is also joined by a number of secular prophets who see significant problems ahead in terms of feeding the world's growing masses. "For years we laughed at Malthus' gloomy theory," commented Senator Hubert Humphrey recently, "but now he is coming into his own, as we have come to the realization that the world's resources are not unlimited." Present food-population statistics, while not as ominous as they were a few years ago, would tend to bear Humphrey out. As of the mid-1970s roughly one-eighth, or 500 million, of the earth's four billion people were suffering from some form of malnutrition. By the end of the century the world's already strained food supply will have to sustain another estimated billion and a half souls. And much of this growth will occur in the already crowded, mushrooming cities of the world. By the end of the century, if current trends continue, over half the earth's population will be living in urban areas. Most of those forsaking life down on the farm will be jammed into cities of a million or more inhabitants. In 1950 there were only 75 such cities worldwide. By 1985 that figure is projected to increase almost fourfold to 273, with over half of these metropoles located in the poorer underdeveloped nations. In terms of food production, this means those left minding the farm will have to turn out sizable food surpluses in order to feed their dependent city cousins. The one bright spot in recent years has been a decline in the overall population growth rate. Much of it can be attributed to more effective birth control and sterilization programs, government-enforced family planning, and more women joining the work force. But on the darker side, this recent growth decline has also been brought on by rising death rates accelerated by food shortages in many parts of the world. According to internationally known food expert Lester R. Brown: "In many of the poorest nations food shortages have slowed population growth by pushing up death rates, accounting for at least two million additional and avoidable deaths during the first half of this decade." Efforts to bridge the world's hunger gap through increased food production may be problematical at best. The so-called miracles of the much heralded Green Revolution were achieved with no small input of fertilizer, water and petroleum-based machinery. In many parts of the world these commodities are becoming increasingly scarce. Most of the best land has already been used up. Man's increasing numbers have already resulted in extensive deforestation: erosion and destruction of valuable croplands in the Indian subcontinent and African Sahel. Overfishing and pollution have brought dramatic declines in the world's fish catch. And hoped for food miracles such as fish protein concentrates, plankton, fish farms, incaparina, synthetic proteins and the like are for the most part impractical or uneconomical.
Potential for Nuclear Nightmare Undoubtedly the worst scenario of all is that of nuclear war. Today's thermonuclear statistics are truly awesome. The explosive power of the combined nuclear arsenals of the United States and Soviet Union is equivalent to 50,000 Hiroshimas. One Poseidon-type submarine with its 16 nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles can destroy a nation the size of the United States. The total destructive force of the tactical (not strategic) weapons stationed in Europe is 30 times that of all the TNT exploded in World War II. Currently six nations — the United States, Soviet Union, England, France, China and India — are members of the nuclear club. But in the years ahead the membership roster is certain to grow dramatically. Austria, Brazil, Finland, South Korea and Yugoslavia had nuclear reactors under construction in late 1974. Egypt, Argentina, Spain, Japan, Pakistan and South Africa can't be far behind. Argentina, for example, will probably be producing enough plutonium in the late 1970s to manufacture ten atomic bombs a year. The potential implications of such wholesale proliferation are chilling to say the least. As Dr. George Rathjens, professor of political science at MIT, put it: "I shudder to think of Uganda's General Amin having nuclear weapons in his control, and yet we will face such situations in the next 25 years." Dr. Thomas Schelling, professor of political economy at Harvard, and an expert on arms strategy, also voiced his concern at the world's future nuclear prospects: "It is very frightening to realize that by 1999 a device with the power to blow up a community the size of Cambridge, for example, could probably be carried on the back of any strong person." In view of the fact that world civilization finds itself facing unprecedented peril from war, famine, overpopulation, resource depletion and pollution, it's understandable that a great deal of pessimism exists among the ranks of the secular prophets. Some, in fact, have resorted to biblical terminology reminiscent of the prophets of old. Physicist Bernard T. Feld, for instance, recently was quoted as saying: "The world is entering upon perilous times, perhaps the most dangerous period in its entire history." McGeorge Bundy, aide to late Presidents Kennedy and Johnson: "We will look on a time  that will have been on the edge of travail." And former Senator William J. Fulbright: "Unless peace and stability is brought to the Middle East, mankind will witness 'a new war.' a new oil boycott, and possibly consequences there from ranging from another great depression to Armageddon itself."
Will History Repeat Itself? Unfortunately, the words of the secular prophets tend to fall on deaf ears. Many people immediately dismiss them as a group of eccentric doomsayers. Centuries ago, the nation of ancient Israel was faced with a similar situation. They had been repeatedly warned about the imminent destruction of their nation. Numerous "secular prophets" (generally they weren't quoting the Bible) tried in vain to rouse the people and their leaders from their self-centered state of spiritual lethargy. But the Israelites weren't about to listen to any messages that weren't brimming over with sweetness and light. According to the prophet Isaiah, they wanted to hear "smooth things" (Isa. 30:10). They didn't even want to entertain the possibility in their minds that Isaiah might have been right. So they went right on with a "business-as-usual" attitude, figuring their own institutions and defenses would see them through (verse 16). The ancient Israelites, like numerous other peoples throughout history (see inset box on "Doomsayers" at left), were afflicted with their own form of "Magi not mentality." According to the prophet Jeremiah, they were fond of mouthing phrases such as " no evil will come upon us, nor shall we see sword or famine" (Jer. 5:12). And like the British and French peoples just prior to Hitler's blitzkrieg invasions, they were shouting "Peace, peace, where there [was] no peace" (Jer. 6:14). Can we, today, take the secular prophets of the 1970s seriously? Or will we, like ancient Israel, allow ourselves to be lulled to sleep in the face of mounting world and national crises?
3 "DOOMSAYERS" TO WHOM TOO FEW LISTENED
Jeremiah. Although Jeremiah is best remembered as a prominent personality in the Bible, he had his most telling impact on society as the leading " secular" prophet of his day. In the waning years of the ancient kingdom of Judah, Jeremiah's message encompassed a great deal more than purely " religious" concepts. He continually warned of the future destruction of his capital city, invading armies, famine, disease epidemics, crop failures, upset social conditions, corruption and fraud in government. Obviously, such a penetrating analysis of the national condition was bound to raise a few hackles in high places. Jeremiah quickly found himself at loggerheads with government officials who were eager to tell the people "what was right with Jerusalem." As Jeremiah himself described this sad state of affairs: " An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely [in this case by proclaiming that there would be no further war or famine], and the priests rule at their direction; my people love to have it so." But Jeremiah, with an eye toward the future, pointedly asked: "What will you do when the end comes?" (Jer. 5:30-31.) Before the " end came," the rulers of Jerusalem thought they could remove the problem by silencing Jeremiah. On one occasion he had to contend with an ancient version of a "Watergate cover-up" when the king destroyed one of his "tapes" — in this case a scroll (Jer. 36:20-23). Finally, the exasperated officials allowed Jeremiah to cool his heels in a slime pit shortly before many of his prophecies came to pass (Jer. 38:6). Winston Churchill caused no small stir in the 1930s when he ceaselessly labored to alert the British people to the growing menace of Nazi Germany and the distinct possibility of another major war. For the most part, his warnings were highly unwelcome in a. nation where any open mention of war was considered "unpatriotic." Churchill was considered nothing short of a political outcast and pariah by many. In the mid-1930s he asked for secret debate on the relative merits of British and German armaments. His request was peremptorily refused on the grounds that "it would cause needless alarm." When Neville Chamberlain returned from Munich waving his infamous "peace paper" to the tumultuous acclaim of the British people, Churchill was one of the lonely few who raised a voice of dissent. Describing his speech in the ensuing debate in Parliament, Churchill recalled: "I well remember that when I said, 'We have sustained a total and unmitigated defeat,' the storm which met me made it necessary to pause for a while before resuming" (The Gathering Storm, p. 291). Despite the fact that public and parliamentary opinion was decidedly stacked against him, Churchill resolutely stuck to his guns. He went on to warn his colleagues: "They [the British people] should know that we have passed an awful milestone in our history, when the whole equilibrium of Europe has been deranged, and that the terrible words have for the time being been pronounced against the Western Democracies: 'Thou art weighed in the balance and found wanting.' And do not suppose that this is the end. This is only the beginning of the reckoning. This is only the first sip, the first foretaste of a bitter cut which will be proffered to us year by year unless, by a supreme recovery of moral health and martial vigour, we arise again and take our stand for freedom as in the olden times" (ibid., p. 293). Charles DeGaulle. As a colonel in the French Army between World Wars, DeGauile was continually clashing with military and political leaders over the woeful lack of French military preparedness. In the teeth of opposition from the French high command, he continued to press for the establishment of a mobile mechanized tank force. But unfortunately for France and the rest of the world, too few people took him seriously. "To its venerable, veteran generals," wrote William L. Shirer," all this rash talk of a great autonomous armored force breaking through the infantry and artillery was claptrap" (Collapse of the Third Republic, p. 156). Marshall Petain, irritated by the radical ideas of the upstart colonel, spoke out forcefully against the use of armored forces that would in a few years overrun his country: "As for tanks, which are supposed by some to bring us a shortening of wars, their incapacity is striking." By 1936, a short three years from the opening rounds of World War II, the minds of the French high command were still mired in the mud of Verdun and the Somme. For them World War I trench warfare tactics were the order of the day. As late as 1937, French generals were still advocating the use of horse cavalry. Even after the Germans' armored blitz of Poland in 1939, nobody became unduly alarmed despite a note from DeGaulle on the "lessons of Poland." Shortly before the invasion of France, DeGaulle took the unprecedented step of addressing an eleventh-hour warning to no less than 90 leading military and political figures. In his written memorandum, he stated: "The French people must not at any price fall into the illusion that the present military immobility conforms to the character of this war.... Let us not fool ourselves! The conflict which has begun can well be the most widespread, the most complex, the most violent, of all those which have ravaged the earth. The political, economic, social and moral crisis from which it comes is so profound... that it will end fatally in a complete overthrowing of the situation of peoples and the structures of states..." (ibid., p. 549). In less than six months, DeGaulle's dire prediction came to pass as German Wehrmacht troops marched triumphantly through the streets of Paris.
Part 3: The Ultimate Global Catastrophe:
Continued abuse of the earth's life-support systems could possibly lead to some of the apocalyptic visions pictured in the biblical book of Revelation. It had been almost imperceptible at first. A few abnormal high tides recorded in Miami, Amsterdam and Calcutta. Nobody except a few scientists had given it much thought. That had been almost 12 months ago. Now the tides were more than a matter of scientific curiosity. Water was reported in the streets of Tokyo, Manila and Hamburg. The subway systems of London and New York were periodically inundated as boiling torrents of briny liquid swirled down streets and sewers. The famed dikes of Holland were no longer adequate to hold off the tempestuous pounding of the North Sea. Waterfront residents in Buenos Aires, Bombay and Singapore had been forced to retreat to higher ground.
Greenhouse Effect Scientists said it had something to do with the greenhouse effect caused by too much carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere. it all seemed very baffling to the average man on the street. It was also very baffling to most of the world's farmers. Temperatures had warmed in most parts of the globe. River and stream flow had declined dramatically in the Western United States, Europe and the Indian subcontinent. Irrigation had already been pushed to its limits as numerous nations strained to put food in the mouths of their burgeoning populations. Now farmers reported that saline river water was withering crops in many areas. Still nobody panicked. There were ample grain reserves to last for a few months. In most of the Western democracies, politicians continued to stress the need for full employment and more government spending. In the United States, Wall Street was enjoying a bullish year. Automobile assembly lines were humming. Energy demands had never been greater. And even though progress had been made in the development of nuclear power, the nation's economy continued to depend heavily on petroleum for its main source of energy. A few dead fish were seen washed ashore with rotted fins. An occasional forlorn-looking waterfowl was observed wandering aimlessly, encased in a blanket of slimy goo. Tourists on fashionable Mediterranean beaches found that tar stuck to the soles of their feet. Sailors also reported floating oil slicks in mid-ocean. Aside from a few known "econuts" nobody made any strenuous objections. There hadn't been an oil spill remotely approaching the size of the famous Santa Barbara eruption in the early 1970s — just the continuing nuisance of isolated overflows, ocean dumpings and well seepages here and there. Oil was still king. And ever since the disruptive Arab embargo, which was now a dim memory in most people's minds, petroleum had continued to flow in ever increasing quantities. Offshore drilling was now at an all-time high — especially in the North Sea and around the North American continental shelf. Wells were now producing profitably in such remote places as the Arctic and Antarctic; and from all preliminary indications their ample reserves would last for another decade or two.
Depleted Ozone Layer Still there was the nagging problem of the world food supply. For the last few years chemical fertilizers had been applied lavishly both in the West and East. Their initial impact had been salutary. But now and increasing number of scientists were beginning to warn of the potential threat nitrogen fertilizers posed for the ozone layer — already seriously depleted by aerosols, increased SST flights and unauthorized atmospheric nuclear tests conducted by belligerent military powers. Yet none of this was new. Similar conditions had existed for years. During the last few decades nobody had pulled the nuclear trigger. Malthus' theory of food and population had yet to be conclusively demonstrated. And the ecosystem was still functioning despite the grave warning of a few prophets of doom.
Full-Scale Torrent Then it happened. It wasn't anything initially catastrophic or earthshaking. Still it was bad enough. A major blowout occurred at the wellhead of one of the arctic drilling rigs. It was another Santa Barbara, but this time much worse. Wildlife populations, including whales, seals, polar bears, birds and ocean life, were decimated. But the worst was yet to come. Millions of gallons of black oil boiled out to contaminate the arctic ice pack. Thousands of square miles were saturated with sticky petroleum. The consequences were devastating. The ice pack had already been weakened by the increasing amount of carbon dioxide, fluorocarbons and other industrial gases that had been injected into the atmosphere. The resulting greenhouse effect had kicked off a noticeable melting trend in the polar regions.
"The second angel poured his bowl into the sea, and it became like the blood of a dead man, and every living thing died that was in the sea" Rev. 16:3
So far it had only progressed at moderate rates. But the oil spill turned what had been a moderate trickle into a full-scale torrent. The massive loss of ice in the Arctic produced a dramatic upsurge in the global incubation process. This in turn rapidly accelerated the disintegration of the Greenland and Antarctic ice caps. Glaciers were suddenly transformed into rivers. Massive hunks of pack ice began to shear off and cascade into the sea. The coastlands of the earth took the full brunt of this sudden climatic shift. The increasing tides were no longer a nuisance, they were now lethal. Raging waters swept over east Texas, Bangladesh, the lowlands of Western Europe and Indochina. Millions were killed or left homeless. Valuable croplands were destroyed. Manhattan Island was buried under 50 feet of water. So were cities such as Hong Kong, Seattle and Sydney. Most of the state of Florida was awash. The Netherlands had ceased to exist.
"... Upon the earth distress of nations in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world..." (Luke 21:25, 26).
A chain reaction of catastrophe was set in motion. The increased weight of water in the oceans exerted additional pressure on the earth's mantle. New tectonic forces shook the earthquake-prone rift zones in the Pacific. High tides and high seas were reinforced by seismically induced tidal waves. Coastal cities that had survived the previous hydraulic pummeling quickly collapsed under the onslaught of these awesome forces.
"And there were flashes of lightning, voices, peals of thunder, and a great earthquake such as had never been since men were on the earth, so great was that earthquake.... And every island fled away, and no mountains were to be found" (Rev. 16:18, 20).
Both San Francisco and Los Angeles were hit sledgehammer blows by this violent tidal and seismic activity. Skyscrapers toppled like tenpins. The major industrial cities of Japan suffered the same fate. Volcanoes spewed out tons of molten lava. Skies were blackened as voluminous clouds of volcanic ash billowed upward.
"And behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood" (Rev. 6:12).
Even worse was the effect the in. creased seismic activity had on offshore oil wells that dotted the coastlands of Europe, North America,
Malthus' theory of food and population had yet to be conclusively demonstrated. And the ecosystem was still functioning despite the grave warnings of a few prophets of doom.
Asia and the polar regions. Santa Barbara-like spills erupted with greater frequency. Oil-laden supertankers broke apart, collided, or ran aground in the tempest. The seas received the tankers' untimely cargoes of death-dealing chemicals.
"And a third of the sea became blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed" (Rev. 8:9).
It was more than the already-weakened oceans could take. Much of the oxygen-giving phytoplankton had already died as a result of the progressive, insidious onslaught that had been under way for decades. The oil spills pushed this delicate marine biomechanism past the point of no return. Vast patches were decimated. The oceans were dying. Millions of fish floated lifelessly on the surface, — belly up, deprived of life-giving oxygen.
"The second angel poured his bowl into the sea, and it became like the blood o( a dead man, and every living thing died that was in the sea" (Rev. 16:3).
The bitter water of the earth's overworked river systems likewise was finished. Too salty to support life, they polluted and poisoned men, plants and animals alike.
"The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the fountains of water. The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died of the water, because it was made bitter" (Rev. 8:10-11).
Surviving nations, alarmed at what was happening, prepared to grapple for the remaining supplies of resources, energy and food. Nuclear weapons were unsheathed for the final decisive struggle. But at this point the earth's biosphere was in no shape to withstand even a limited nuclear war. And it didn't take long for the survivors to discover this fact. Great gaping holes were torn in the already depleted ozone layer by the thermonuclear detonations. Men and animals began to drop like flies from the intensified bombardment of ultraviolet radiation. Terrestrial plant life not already destroyed by radioactive fallout withered under the unrelenting rays of the sun.
"The fourth angel poured his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch men with fire; men were scorched by the fierce heat" (Rev. 16:8).
Ecological failsafe had come and gone. The earth's ecosystem lay mortally wounded, its vital signs rapidly failing. The countdown to the extinction of all life was well under way. Now it was only a matter of time.
Grave Warnings The foregoing is by no means meant to be a definitive prognostication of future global events. It merely serves to illustrate what is within the realm of possibility. A number of the above factors are already matters of serious ecological concern. Numerous warnings were sounded in 1975 regarding the depletion of the ozone layer. Prominent scientists have spoken out concerning the possibility of melting ice caps and rising ocean levels from a man-made greenhouse effect. Oil spills are known to be a definite hazard to polar pack ice. The poisoning of the oceans, if continued indefinitely, could be ultimately catastrophic — especially considering that some 90% of all marine organisms live in areas that are most easily polluted by man. In view of the fact that there has been no significant downturn in many of man's polluting and consumptive activities, one can't help but wonder if the events described above might one day become stark reality. A time when, as Jesus put it: " Had not those days been cut short, not a soul would be saved alive" (Matt. 24:22, Moffatt).
Part 4: A Time of Unprecedented Peril:
Nobody likes bad news. By nature most of us tend to be optimistic. After all, we've got good reason to be. We've heard the "wolf, wolf" and "the-sky-is-falling" refrains too many times in the past. Every generation has its prophets of doom, its own local donnybrooks, and from time to time a catastrophe or two. Famine, war, pestilential plagues and environmental destruction have always dogged the heels of humanity. Empires come and go, nations rise and fall, and somehow through it all the human race has usually managed to land on its feet. So who is to say this generation is any different? The British people have maintained for decades "there will always be an England." and so far they have been right. Do we have any reason not to be just as optimistic about the particular age of history in which we are living?
Can All Things Continue? While this attitude is sometimes not without its merits, in today's world it leaves something to be desired. For instance, take the perennial problem of war. In the past nations fought wars that were limited in both scope and intensity. This ensured that the survivors could live again to fight another day. But beginning with the twentieth century, the concept of total global warfare, involving entire civilian populations and fought simultaneously on several different continents, became a reality. Add to this the nightmare of nuclear destruction, ballistic missiles that can traverse continents in seconds, instant communications with virtually any point on the globe and you have all the ingredients necessary for the ultimate doomsday holocaust — never before present in human history. The same is true when it comes to famine and overpopulation. Traditionally, food shortages were caused by cyclical fluctuations in weather patterns or prolonged bouts of warfare. But because of an unprecedented population explosion in the last few decades, the potential for famine is now built into the structure of world society. Cyclical variations only serve to affravate a steadily growing problem. The potential for worldwide energy and resource shortages is also something new to this age. In the past, civilizations could always utilize a new frontier over the horizon waiting for exploitation. Now most of the new virgin lands and easy sources of energy and minerals are rapidly being exhausted. In addition, the traditional military and political alliances that have been responsible for some semblance of order in the new world are now in a state of disarray. Poorer developing nations that for centuries lived under the umbrella of Western colonial powers are now beginning to flex their newly found political and economic muscles. Headstrong dictators and power-hungry potentates are now making threatening claims concerning their "fair share" of the world's wealth which they feel has been unjustly denied them for too long. Existing political and religious institutions erected to solve many of these problems either find themselves essentially impotent or in some cases (such as the United Nations) only serve to aggravate the situation.
Looking Forward in Time. With this in mind, it becomes easier to appreciate the relative significance of a few of the biblical prophecies that deal with the period commonly called "the time of the end." The famous Olivet discourse is a good case in point. Here Christ not only foretold the destruction of Jerusalem, but He spoke of a series of global calamities that would herald a pivotal turning point in human history. In verses 5 through 10 of Matthew 24, He outlined the usual scenario of wars, famines and persecutions that seem to accompany the disintegration of civilizations. These events could be applied to the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 or to history in general during the last 2000 years. But in verse 21 Christ went on to expand the scope of His prophecy: "For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be." As bad as the destruction and sack of Jerusalem was in the first century, it can't compare with some of the modern-day mass butcheries that have been perpetrated under the names of Nazism, Communism, and Fascism. Nor have the nations of the world experienced the visible return of Jesus Christ "with power and great glory" (verse 30). So Christ was obviously speaking of a tumultuous time yet in the future that would culminate in His return to establish the Kingdom of God on this earth. The prophet Daniel called this period "a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time" (Dan. 12:1). Jeremiah described it as follows: "Alas! that day is so great there is none like it" (Jeremiah 30:7). Zephaniah noted that it was "a day of wrath... distress and anguish... ruin and devastation... darkness and gloom... of trumpet blast and battle cry" (Zephaniah 1:14-16). Some twenty years after the fall of Jerusalem, the apostle John's apocalyptic vision in the book of Revelation also painted a rather grisly scenario of future global events. Many of John's statements concerning the four horsemen (again the old formula of war, famine, pestilence) and subsequent plagues tend to corroborate the troubles Christ described in the Olivet prophecy. (For more information on the book of Revelation, read our series of booklets on the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: The Red Horse: War; The White Horse: False Religion; The Pale Horse: Disease Epidemics; The Black Horse: Famine.)
Cause for Every Effect In principle, these prophecies are describing the end result of a cause-and-effect relationship that has been at work for most of man's known history and as such serve as a futuristic outline of what will happen to humanity if it continues to follow a certain course of action. The blessings and cursings listed in Deuteronomy 28 and Leviticus 26 are an example. Obedience to God's way of life brings blessings. Disobedience brings just the opposite result. And you don't have to have a crystal ball to extrapolate future trends of population growth, nuclear proliferation, environmental pollution, economic growth, greed, political gerrymanderings, and the like to see that the course the human race is on at the present time has a future curse written all over it. Nor should we make the mistake of ascribing these future penalties to some form of direct divine judgment. It's what we are doing to ourselves that really hurts. But there is one key catalyst in this equation for future disaster that often gets overlooked — none other than Satan the devil. In the twelfth
But beginning with the twentieth century, the concept of total global warfare, involving entire civilian populations and fought simultaneously on several different continents, became a reality.
chapter of the book of Revelations, the apostle John spoke of a time in the future when this great, but perverted, angelic being would focus all his diabolical attention on the destruction of the human race. "Now war arose in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they were defeated and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world — he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him... Woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!" (Verses 7-9, 12.) Just as an iron-fisted dictator who feels his seat of power threatened, Satan will wreak all-out havoc trying to defend his claim of world dominion (see Matt. 4:9). During this period, conditions will become so intolerable that Christ Himself stated that if the times were not cut short by His active intervention in world affairs all humanity would ultimately perish (see Matt. 24:22).
Way of Collective Escape And yet if men and nations were willing to turn from the self-destructive activities that have led them down the primrose path toward war, overpopulation, political upheaval and resource depletion, much of this future agony could be avoided. That is the central theme behind the message of the good news of the Kingdom of God. That was Christ's hope for His fellow countrymen when He tirelessly went from city to city in first-century Palestine. His attitude was expressed in Matthew 23:37-38, when He lamented over the unrepentant state of Jerusalem: "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not! Behold, your house is forsaken and desolate." Had that nation collectively repented they could have avoided the disaster which occurred in A.D. 70. This kind of revolutionary about-face is neither outside the realm of possibility nor without historical precedent. The ancient city of Sodom could have escaped an untimely end had there been as few as ten righteous men within its gates (Gen. 18:32-33). Nineveh radically altered its ways after the prophet Jonah brought a message concerning its imminent overthrow. In this case the head of the government issued a proclamation declaring: "... Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence which is in his hands" (Jonah 3:8). Today the same basic set of options confronts the human race. Either we collectively change our ways or prepare ourselves for a rather grim scenario. For the Western world it would mean an unprecedented abandonment of our headlong pursuit of superaffiuence. It would entail our lending a helping hand to our less fortunate neighbors whether they live in city slums or the sub-Sahara. It means dropping the barriers of racial and sexual prejudice that still permeate much of our society. Big business would have to abandon its idolization of ever-growing profits. Labor unions would need to start thinking more in terms of providing a service rather than continually increasing fringe benefits. Governmental officials and legislators would require radical reversal of their shopworn philosophies. But most of all, it would take the acknowledgement of men, nations, and their leaders that their only hope of salvation lies not in governmental institutions, economic systems, or stockpiles of weaponry, but in the Creator God of the universe and His Son Jesus Christ. It would take the same degree of responsiveness the men of Judea demonstrated when the apostle Peter preached to them on the day of Pentecost. As the book of Acts records it: "When they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, 'Brethren, what shall we do?' And Peter said to them, 'Repent, and be Baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit....' And he testified with many other words and exhorted them, saying, 'Save yourselves from this crooked generation'" (Acts 2:37-38, 40). That is the only viable solution for the troubled times in which we live.
Apocalyptic Visions From Secular Prophets
Dr. Blnay Sen, former director of U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization: "If the rate of food production cannot be significantly increased, we must be prepared for the four horsemen of the Apocalypse." General Douglas MacArthur: "We have had our last chance. If we will not devise some greater and more equitable system, our Armageddon will be at our door." Robert S. McNamara, president of the World Bank: "We have to see the population problem as part ...of a much wider social and political crisis that grows deeper with each decade and threatens to round off this century with years of unrest and turbulence, a 'time of troubles' [emphasis ours] during which the forces of historical change threaten our frail twentieth-century society with disintegration." Barbara Ward and Rene Dubos: "When we consider the Planet's still — increasing population, we may even wonder whether the traditional figure of the harvester may not be turning before our eyes into that other image of the man with the scythe — the archetypal image of Death itself." Dr. Harrison Brown, Caltech professor of geochemistry: "the most we can expect by continued; Vigorous participation in the arms race is a postponement of the fateful day."