‘Signs From Heaven’—A Cause for Gloom?
“Terribly effective weaponry could well be deployed in space by the year 2000, weaponry that can attack both satellites and space stations as well as targets here on Earth.”
THE above statement was made last year by the president of the International Academy of Astronautics. Space weaponry is not just talk. Already one of the superpowers has successfully tested an antisatellite weapon.
In a speech given on March 23, 1983, the president of the United States proposed the use of space-based weapons as a means of defense. This would require that a number of satellites be placed in orbit—satellites with the ability to detect enemy missiles and the means to destroy them. Officially called the Strategic Defense Initiative, the plan has been nicknamed Star Wars.
One scientific journal describes it as “a great hope for the future,” one that would “lessen the awesome threat of nuclear weapons.” Another, the journal Nature, said: “The development of a star wars system makes the chances of reducing the number of nuclear weapons increasingly remote; if your enemy has a shield you need more arrows.” Similarly, an article in Scientific American described the “precipitous drop in global security” brought on by the nuclear age and suggested that if “an unrestrained contest in space weaponry” should follow, it would further reduce the “level of security.”
Gloomy Expectations Foretold
The insecurity experienced by our generation was foretold in the Bible when it said that men would “become faint out of fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.” (Luke 21:26) Many things cause people to “become faint out of fear” for earth’s future.
For example, a team of five scientists recently wrote on the subject “The Climatic Effects of Nuclear War” and said: “Recent findings by our group, confirmed by workers in Europe, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., suggest that the long-term climatic effects of a major nuclear war are likely to be much severer and farther-reaching than had been supposed. In the aftermath of such a war vast areas of the earth could be subjected to prolonged darkness, abnormally low temperatures, violent windstorms, toxic smog and persistent radioactive fallout . . . Even in regions far from the conflict the survivors would be imperiled by starvation . . . and other dire consequences.”—Scientific American, August 1984.
This global aftereffect of nuclear war is commonly called the nuclear winter. Not surprisingly, even people in the southern hemisphere feel alarm although they are far from the territory of the superpowers. In an editorial entitled “Armageddon,” the South African Medical Journal said: “The all-too-real possibility of global thermo-nuclear war makes all other risks to human health pale into insignificance. . . . In anything more extensive than a limited exchange of nuclear weapons, medical services as we know them would cease to exist. . . . At the present time, there is probably more general awareness of the dangers of a nuclear catastrophe than ever before.”
Gloomy expectations of mass destruction are not limited to the threat of nuclear war. Natural cosmic disasters, of one form or another, are a frequent topic in books and magazines. The prospect of a gigantic body striking the earth was the theme of a recent suspense film, Meteor. Even more recently, an African newspaper posed the question: “How safe is human life from destruction by stray asteroids or comets?” And the destruction of earth by the explosion of a large star, blasting a heavy dose of radiation toward our earth, has also been given as a possibility.
Need such speculations cause you gloom? And what about the real threat of nuclear war and its aftermath? Is there basis for believing that the earth and human life will keep surviving?
Reasons for Optimism
Predictions of mass extinction are often based on the belief that even if there is a Creator, he is not capable of maintaining his universe. But is such reasoning sound? Respecting Almighty God’s ability, the Bible psalmist was inspired to write: “Praise him, you sun and moon. Praise him, all you stars of light. Praise him, you heavens of the heavens . . . For he himself commanded, and they were created. And he keeps them standing forever, to time indefinite. A regulation he has given, and it will not pass away.”—Psalm 148:3-6.
But, you may wonder, ‘What assurance does the Bible give that the earth, too, will stand forever?’ Note: “He [God] has founded the earth upon its established places; it will not be made to totter to time indefinite, or forever.” (Psalm 104:5) Thus the divine promise is: “The meek ones themselves will possess the earth, and they will indeed find their exquisite delight in the abundance of peace. The righteous themselves will possess the earth, and they will reside forever upon it.” (Psalm 37:11, 29) Jesus Christ, in fact, quoted from Psalm 37, thereby showing that he firmly believed in an everlasting future for man on earth.—Matthew 5:5.
Jesus even foretold the generation that would begin to see the fulfillment of God’s promises. Along with foretelling the present-day ‘great signs from heaven,’ he said that food shortages, pestilences, earthquakes, lawlessness, and other calamities would be features of the last days of this system of things. (Luke 21:10, 11; Matthew 24:6-12) Surely cause for gloom, one might conclude. But listen to Jesus: “As these things start to occur,” he said, “raise yourselves erect and lift your heads up, because your deliverance is getting near. . . . When you see these things occurring, know that the kingdom of God is near.”—Luke 21:28-31.
Why this optimism? Because Jesus knew that it would not be necessary for his true followers to share the general “fear and expectation of the things coming upon the inhabited earth.” (Luke 21:26) Rather, they could confidently lift up their heads because deliverance from all threats of calamity would be near. Such deliverance could never come through man-made political governments. But it will come by intervention of “the kingdom of God.” That is why Jesus taught his followers to pray: “Our Father in the heavens, let your name be sanctified. Let your kingdom come. Let your will take place, as in heaven, also upon earth.”—Matthew 6:9, 10.
But you may wonder: ‘When will this promised deliverance come?’ Respecting the generation that would start experiencing ‘great signs from heaven,’ Jesus said: “Truly I say to you, This generation will by no means pass away until all things occur.” Therefore, some of the 1914 generation who began to witness those “signs” will still be alive when God’s Kingdom takes full control of earth’s affairs.—Luke 21:32.
Will You Be Among the Survivors?
You can survive this era of fear because Jesus said: “Keep awake, then, all the time making supplication that you may succeed in escaping all these things that are destined to occur, and in standing before the Son of man.” (Luke 21:36) Yes, you can “succeed in escaping.” But how?
First, it is necessary that you gain knowledge of God’s will and purpose. This requires serious reading and study of the Bible. Marvelous blessings result, as Jesus said: “Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need.” When you think about it, what greater cause for happiness is there than the assured hope of everlasting life? Jesus said in prayer to God: “This means everlasting life, their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.”—Matthew 5:3; John 17:3.
But Bible knowledge in itself is not sufficient for a person to become a survivor of this epoch of fear. Jesus said: “Happy are those hearing the word of God and keeping it!” Yes, it is necessary to keep, or live in harmony with, God’s Word. In other words, we must keep doing the will of God. The Bible promises: “He that does the will of God remains forever.”—Luke 11:28; 1 John 2:17.
The distributors of this magazine will be glad to assist you. They will be happy to demonstrate how you can study the Bible in your own home. The life-giving knowledge obtained can result in your gaining everlasting life in Paradise on earth. (Psalm 37:29) To be sure, there is a basis for viewing the future with optimism.
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What is your future—A charred earth? Or a paradise?
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Jesus taught that ‘the meek shall inherit the earth’