What is Happening to This World?
IT IS apparent to all reasonable persons that something is very wrong with this world. While people everywhere want to enjoy life, ever so many things now interfere with that enjoyment.
For example, it gets harder and harder to make a decent living as prices keep going up. Then, too, crime, family breakdown, poverty, civil disorders, wars and other problems distress the human family.
As the pressures of life grow, more and more persons say that they do not see any way out of all these problems. And this is just what Jesus Christ foretold of our day when he said that there would be “on the earth anguish of nations, not knowing the way out.”—Luke 21:25.
Too, in early 1979 something else of great significance has been added to this “anguish of nations.” For the first time in the history of international Communism, nations that are Communist have gone to war among themselves.
“THE RED BROTHERHOOD AT WAR,” is the way the headline of a main editorial in the New York Times put it. The newspaper observed:
“They are singing ‘The Internationale’ on all sides of the Asian battles this week as they bury the hopes of the Communist fathers with the bodies of their sons.
“There was once a time when Communists . . . felt themselves to be brothers incapable of war against each other . . . the Red brotherhood believed that the only international wars that could still occur—which were in fact ‘inevitable’—were those growing out of the contradictions inherent in capitalism.”
Yet antagonisms among Communist nations have grown over the past two decades. Finally, these exploded into open warfare in early 1979 when Communist Vietnam invaded Communist Cambodia. China, favoring Cambodia, then invaded Vietnam, which was backed by the Soviet Union, and tensions increased between China and the Soviet Union. The war caused shock waves throughout the world. The Times noted its significance:
“The conflict that spread this weekend from Cambodia to the border of China and Vietnam and to hostile exchanges between China and the Soviet Union provides the final proof that no ideology makes men immune to ethnic and racial strife, or aggression and chauvinism. While an impotent United Nations looks on, hotheaded governments with no apparent economic interest at stake risk even major war. Ugly nationalism has triumphed once again in the human family.”
Thus, as with every other political ideology before it, Communism shows that it too is incapable of bringing true peace and unity to all mankind. As the Times concluded: “Nations live as nations have always lived, by the code of outlaws.”
Are you discouraged by the many depressing events that have taken place in world affairs during your lifetime? Many people are. Yet, when viewed in the light of Bible prophecy, these very events give rise to great encouragement and hope for the future.
How can this be so? Because these events are all part of the great “sign” of the times given by Jesus in prophecy. That “sign” marks our era as unique in human history, since it will be the last one to experience such distressing conditions.—Matt. 24:3.
Jesus said that this era would begin with a series of unprecedented world events. He stated: “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom.” He also said that, among other things, there would be “great earthquakes, and in one place after another pestilences and food shortages.”—Matt. 24:7; Luke 21:10, 11.
That combination of events, unparalleled in history, began with mankind’s first global war, World War I. It took the lives of about 9,000,000 fighting men and 5,000,000 civilians. Its carnage was so enormous that a German soldier wrote in horror: “This generation has no future, and deserves none.” He was closer to the truth than he may have imagined.
The war was accompanied, or shortly followed, by other significant events that fulfilled prophecy. A killer plague, the Spanish influenza, took over 20,000,000 lives. Devastating earthquakes struck places such as Italy, China and Japan, taking hundreds of thousands of lives. Truly, the events surrounding World War I were “a beginning of pangs of distress,” as Jesus foretold.—Matt. 24:8.
A grim reminder of that “beginning” can be observed to this day. It is reported that during 1979 Belgian army troops using electronic detectors have dug up—each day—an average of one ton of unexploded artillery shells from World War I battlefields in that country alone!
Yet, World War II produced a worse inferno, killing 55 million people! Hideous new methods and machines of war were introduced.
One grisly reminder of that conflict can be seen today at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. There a monument stands astride the sunken battleship Arizona, which contains the remains of over 1,000 members of its crew still entombed in the ship’s hull. It is another grim testimony to man’s capacity for destruction and his inability to solve his problems.
The spirit of violence and anarchy demonstrated by governments in their dealings with one another during our time has infected the masses of mankind. As a result, crime, violence and other forms of antisocial behavior are epidemic, prompting a New York Post editorial to say:
“In truth, life is so traumatic, so bloodied with horror that it takes a cast iron stomach to read the daily news. On TV, the agony is compounded in living color.
“Where, one wonders, is the end of it—of the killing, the maiming, the broken heads, the battered children, the casual murders for two dollars and a cheap wristwatch? . . .
“Violence, in the 1970s, has been aptly called ‘the cancer of our soul.’ . . . No adult can remember anything quite like it.”
Yes, we are eyewitnesses to the unique, crucial period of time Jesus was talking about when he foretold the “anguish of nations, not knowing the way out.” However, does this mean that there is no way out?
No, for when Jesus uttered his prophecy about the “anguish of nations, not knowing the way out,” these words immediately followed it: “But as these things start to occur, raise yourselves erect and lift your heads up, because your deliverance is getting near.” (Luke 21:28) But why should we ‘lift our heads up’ in encouragement and hope when surrounded by so much trouble?