Current Events in the Light of the Bible
MANY informed persons are disturbed by news reports of worsening world conditions. They wonder why the situation continues to deteriorate despite efforts to correct matters. What is the meaning behind it all?
AN AGE OF WAR
“A half-century of conflict—turbulence, war, revolution, desolation, and ruin.” “The century of Total War.” That is how historians describe our times. Even since 1945, some fifty-five wars have been fought.
Still fresh in the minds of many is the recent India-Pakistan war. The Middle East continues to rumble ominously. Skirmishes there threaten to precipitate an outbreak of hostilities at any moment. Indochina is a raging, bloody battlefield, and in April the newspapers reported a step-up in retaliatory bombing raids in Vietnam.
Centuries ago Jesus Christ foretold a significant time when “nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom.” Does not the world scene today fit that description?—Matt. 24:7.
FOOD SHORTAGES THREATEN MANY
Malnutrition is taking a very heavy toll in the health and lives of people in many lands. One would think that modern equipment, improved farming methods and rapid shipping would have prevented food shortages a long time ago.
Yet a year ago it was reported that “pockets of hunger remain in the hollows of Appalachia [United States] despite the Nixon Administration’s pledge to put an end to hunger and malnutrition, and after nearly a decade of massive Federal aid to the distressed region.”—New York “Times,” June 18, 1971.
This same paper on March 30, 1972, told of a food crisis now threatening Bangladesh. Not long before this crisis, a severe storm struck that part of the world. Thousands died of starvation.
Compare this with Jesus’ further warning that, along with wars, there would be, at the time of which he spoke, “food shortages . . . in one place after another.”—Matt. 24:7.
EARTHQUAKES IN VARIOUS PLACES
Each year earthquakes continue to wreak havoc. Those that hit Yugoslavia, Turkey, Peru, Alaska and California in recent times may still be fresh in your mind.
Then on April 9, 1972, came Iran’s worst earthquake since 1968, striking the southern part of that country. Unofficial sources estimated that up to 4,000 persons died. Countless others were made homeless.
DISEASES AND MORAL BREAKDOWN TAKE THEIR TOLL
War has helped to spread disease. Indirectly, its violence has broken down morals, and this, too, has contributed to the increase of disease. Also pollution of land, sea, air and food undermines health. Coupled with this are the pressures and insecurity characteristic of this system of things. As foretold by Jesus, “men become faint out of fear,” their hearts literally failing them. (Luke 21:26) Interestingly, among Americans, “the death rate from heart attacks among young men age 25 to 44 has risen 14 per cent . . . since 1950.”—New York “Times,” April 4, 1972.
The moral breakdown has resulted in a phenomenal rise in venereal disease. Gonorrhea in the United States “is truly epidemic,” according to Dr. J. Donald Millar, a director of the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia. It is estimated that “there are over 2 1⁄2 million cases occurring each year now.”—Atlanta “Constitution,” February 14, 1972.
The Los Angeles “Times” of March 16, 1972, reported that “the incidence of venereal disease in Brazil is soaring with the spread of sexual freedom and the increasing use of birth control pills.” It was noted that “in one big city in the northeast of Brazil, the number of reported cases of gonorrhea among women is almost seven times what it was a generation ago.”
Drug abuse also continues to be a top moral problem. The “Medical Tribune,” March 1, 1972, said that “an increasing number of children, adolescents, and young adults from all socioeconomic levels in North America are succumbing each year to the ‘allure of a chemically induced paradise [resulting from taking drugs].”’ The number of American college students trying marijuana has climbed to 51 percent in a five-year period, a tenfold increase in that short time!—Boston “Sunday Globe,” February 6, 1972.
All this has been brought on by the general rejection of God’s laws and moral standards. The love of many for God has grown cold. And this is exactly what Jesus said was going to happen in this time of man’s history. “Because of the increasing of lawlessness the love of the greater number will cool off.”—Matt. 24:12.
THE DECLINE IN WORLD RELIGION
A most striking characteristic of our times is the decline in world religion. This is seen in the steady decrease in the number attending church.
“The Oregon Journal” of March 4, 1972, printed an article about Sunday-school attendance. While four American denominations showed some growth in this field, ten showed losses. “But,” noted the paper, “things are even worse than those figures indicate, for the growth ranges from 3,000 to 85,000 and losses from 11,000 to 300,000.”
The hopelessness of reversing this decline in religion is reflected by the words of John Duryea, a Catholic chaplain who attended a meeting with ‘all the important people’ in a Catholic archdiocese in America to see about improving church attendance. “A few proposals were made,” he said. “But later I concluded that all we were doing was rearranging the furniture on the Titanic [a ship that sank after hitting an iceberg in 1912].”—San Francisco “Chronicle,” November 24, 1971.
The decline in religion is also manifest in its loss of favor in political circles. In many cases this is due to clergy meddling in political affairs. For example, the clergy in white-dominated Rhodesia recently received sharp criticism from Mark Partridge, Minister of Local Government. He complained: “It is a pity that, of late, [the clergy] have become, apparently, more concerned with political problems than with moral ones. . . . How distressed I am to see, on so many occasions, unnecessary and ill-informed participation in the political field.”—“Rand Daily Mail,” South Africa, March 14, 1972.
And about a month before this the London “Times,” of February 14, 1972, reported that the president of the black-dominated Zaïre Republic openly denounced the missionaries and priests of the Roman Catholic Church as being “subversive agents.” He prohibited priests in the Kinshasa archdiocese to pray for a cardinal whose activities had earned him the disfavor of the government.
Brazil and Argentina both have taken action against militant clerics. And recently in the United States there has been a court case involving Catholic priests who are charged with antigovernment activities.
What is all this leading to? Obviously, political powers are becoming antagonized. Eventually, these will come to the point where they will completely turn against world religion and destroy it as foretold in the Bible in Revelation chapter 17.
TRUE CHRISTIANS HATED BY ALL NATIONS
Another part of Jesus’ prophecy concerns his own true followers, who do not meddle in political affairs. This, too, has undergone fulfillment in our day. Matthew 24:9 refers to this, saying: “You will be objects of hatred by all the nations on account of my name.”
To whom has this happened? What organization is hated in all the nations for its stand for Christian principles and for faithfully preaching the good news of God’s kingdom in the hands of Jesus Christ? Jehovah’s witnesses.
True, they are preaching in 207 lands, yet often with difficulty. Iron Curtain countries have long proscribed their work of Bible education. Early this year they were put under ban in Singapore. In fact, at present over thirty countries have a ban on Jehovah’s witnesses in one form or another. In other lands opposition and hatred of them is expressed in many other ways.
THE MEANING BEHIND IT ALL
Jesus Christ explained why such events were to befall this system of things. He said, “When you see these things occurring, know that the kingdom of God is near.” We obviously live at that time.—Luke 21:31.
All the troubles afflicting the modern world are part of a great sign that the present wicked system of things is in its last days. As long ago foretold in the Bible, it is time for God’s kingdom to take over complete rulership and control of this earth. It will wipe out everything and everyone that is not in harmony with God’s righteous ways. When that time arrives, what will be your standing with God?—Luke 21:32-36; 2 Tim. 3:1-5.