Insight on the News
● Have you noted with what frequency great earthquakes strike? Last summer a much stronger quake hit Mexico than the one that devastated Managua, Nicaragua, in 1972 and that killed 12,000 persons. But centered in a less populated area, the Mexico death toll was smaller.
In 1972, a powerful quake in Iran killed some 4,000 persons. In 1971, over 1,000 persons in Turkey died in quakes. The year before, Peru shook so hard that 70,000 were killed in what is called “the worst natural disaster on record in the Western Hemisphere”; the homes of 800,000 persons were destroyed. Less than two years before that, a terrible Iranian quake killed an estimated 15,000 to 30,000 people.
Is there some special significance to all of this? Well, did you know that, when describing conditions that would exist in the last days of this system of things, Jesus said: “There will be great earthquakes”?—Luke 21:11.
Think of it—well over 100,000 persons have died in great earthquakes just since 1968! Those injured, homeless or suffering property damage number in the millions. This represents a tremendous increase over what took place in past centuries.
Food Supplies Dwindle
● No one needs to be told that food prices are skyrocketing. They jumped by about 20 percent in the United States last year, and are still climbing rapidly. If this situation exists in one of the world’s most prosperous countries, how serious really are food shortages elsewhere?
Agricultural economist Lester Brown warns that world food security hangs by a thread. Grain supplies are very low. If poor weather damages this year’s crops, as it did in 1972, the consequences would be disastrous. Dr. Norman E. Borlaug, 1970 Nobel Peace Prize winner and a leading agricultural expert, foresees starvation killing as many as 50 million persons!
Already untold thousands have starved to death in a huge section of Africa. And United Nations Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim warns: “If sufficient action isn’t taken in the next few months, countries could disappear from the face of the map.”
Why such shortages in this twentieth century with its mechanized, scientific farming? The situation is significant. The Bible book of Revelation long ago foretold the ride of a symbolic “black horse,” with high prices and food scarcity marking its trail. And Jesus Christ prophesied that “food shortages” would mark the “conclusion of the system of things.” In recent events many persons see a fulfillment of these Bible prophecies. Do you?—Matt. 24:3, 7; Rev. 6:5, 6.
Gasoline and Self-Control
● Gasoline prices have gone up, up and up—40 cents, 50 cents and 60 cents in New York city. In West Germany, Japan, France and Italy motorists have paid well over $1 a gallon in recent months.
And by all indications motorists would pay even more if the gasoline were available. They have waited for hours in lines sometimes a mile and more long, and even then some failed to get any. In Stamford, Connecticut, an attendant was shocked when a woman offered to have sex relations with him for $2 worth of gas. Instead, he gave her four gallons and a fatherly talk.
As motorists jockey for position in lines, tempers explode and both angry words and fists often fly. “Threats are a daily situation,” says a station operator on Chicago’s South Side. When an Oregon woman was asked what the 38-caliber revolver she was carrying was for, she said: “The next gas station attendant that won’t fill up my tank.”
The situation is just as the Bible foretold: “In the last days . . . men will be lovers of themselves . . . without self-control, fierce.”—2 Tim. 3:1-5.
Adding to the frustration is the widespread belief that the gasoline shortage was deliberately created simply to force prices higher. “People have lost confidence,” noted William Simon, director of the Federal Energy Office. “The public is no longer willing to give public officials the benefit of the doubt.”
Will you resist any inclinations to copy this violent trend? If you do you will be the happier for it.
Is Peace Near?
● What do you think about the international efforts being made to establish world peace? Do you think they will succeed?
Consider these developments: Israeli and Arab troops have disengaged in the Sinai; U.N. troops form a buffer between them. Similar disengagement plans between Israel and Syria are being worked out. Steps have been taken to open up the Suez Canal by the end of the year. And progress has been made toward arms limitations.
All of this makes the world leaders optimistic. In a speech on February 24, U.S. Vice-President Gerald Ford said: “An era of peace is within reach.” The following day President Nixon declared: “On the peace front we’re doing well.”
These leaders base their opinions on the belief that for governments to continue to engage in armed conflict would be disastrous to everyone. So the current trend in world affairs is toward détente, that is, peaceful relations between the opposing world powers. But what does Bible prophecy say about this?
It indicates that an apparent peace will be achieved by the nations. But what will that mean? The Bible answers: “Whenever it is that they are saying: ‘Peace and security!’ then sudden destruction is to be instantly upon them . . . and they will by no means escape.” So the present peace effort is only an illusion; it portends a sudden end for this entire system.—1 Thess. 5:3.
Church Role in Lawlessness
● What is behind the current upsurge in lawlessness? Jesus Christ foretold: “Many false prophets will arise and mislead many; and because of the increasing of lawlessness the love of the greater number will cool off.” (Matt. 24:3, 11, 12) This makes one wonder if the clergymen are contributing to the current wave of lawlessness.
Well, reports of subversive activities of clergymen are continually coming in from many lands. “It has become routine,” observes the Baltimore “Sun,” “for priests to be arrested, tried and sentenced for helping workers to organize, sheltering subversives on the run.” But do these clergymen have Church approval?
There is reason to believe so. For example, in the Roman Catholic Church’s 1967 encyclical “Development of Peoples,” “revolutionary uprising” was approved “where there is manifest long-standing tyranny.” The World Council of Churches, at its meeting in Uppsala in 1968, similarly approved political revolutions.
Some might interpret the large contributions of the World Council of Churches to antigovernment organizations as supporting revolution. Rhodesian Prime Minister Ian Smith said about such contributions made to groups in his country: “Behind the rockets that were fired in the night, behind the land mines and the other weapons, stands the money from the World Council of Churches.”
Would you not agree that, in promoting such revolution and violence, as well as by their teachings that put human views ahead of God’s Word, the churches “mislead many” and hence are responsible for “the increasing of lawlessness”? Believing that they are, many people have withdrawn their support from the church. Are you one of them?
Explosions of Terrorism
● Muggings, rapes, hijackings, bombings and other acts of violence are constantly occurring in all parts of the world. Terror grips the average citizen, who wonders whether he will be the next victim.
Now an increase in kidnappings strikes fear into citizens world wide. Over 320 kidnappings have occurred in Italy since 1960, not to mention the numerous ones in Argentina and other lands. And they are also becoming rather common in the United States. Last year kidnappings reportedly cost U.S. corporations $90 million in ransoms!
But, really, the present terrorism is only a small preview of what lies ahead. Why so? Well, increasing numbers of persons are demonstrating that it will come quite naturally to them to do what Bible prophecy says they will do in the day when God proceeds to the destruction of the present wicked system. “They will actually grab hold, each one of the hand of his companion, and his hand will actually come up against the hand of his companion.”—Zech. 14:13.
Is there any hope that lovers of peace can escape? Yes, there is. We can avoid being thrown with the rest of mankind into that disastrous, every-man’s-hand-against-his-neighbor confusion by now coming to an accurate knowledge of Jehovah God and his loving ways.