Author: Scott MacGregor
Table of Contents
- The Future Foretold
- A World at War
- ?Mommy, I?m Hungry!?
- A Plagued Planet
- Our Violent World
- The ?Me? Generation
- The Good News Goes Global
As events unfold in the third millennium ad, is our planet on the threshold of a brave New World Order, with peace and plenty for all, or are we tottering on the brink of unparalleled chaos and disaster??Or both?
This book provides answers that will prepare you for what?s ahead.
Biblical prophets foretold many things that concern today?s world. Within the pages of this book we will examine specific predictions and prophecies?two to three thousand years old?which accurately depict conditions and events that have taken place, or are soon to take place?quite possibly during our lifetime.
Among the prophecies we will be looking at are ancient predictions describing our modern rapid transportation systems, today?s unprecedented increase in world travel, as well as the contemporary explosion in knowledge of all kinds. Other technological advances, such as electronic banking, as well as a soon-to-be-implemented global financial system, were likewise predicted with uncanny accuracy.
The effects of climate change and outbreaks of lethal epidemics were also foretold.
Awareness of the predictions covered in this book will give you a new perspective on the radical transformation the world is currently undergoing, as well as prepare you for the cataclysmic changes to come.
The Big Question
Throughout the ages a number of great religious teachers and seers have received special insight into the future. A discourse that is regarded by many as the most profound and detailed of its kind was given 2,000 years ago on a hillside just outside the ancient city of Jerusalem. There, a small band of truth-seekers gathered around their teacher, a carpenter-turned-preacher, known as Jesus of Nazareth. The question they asked Him prompted a response that spanned the centuries and then zeroed in on the days in which we are now living:
?As He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, ?Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age??? (Matthew 24:3).
What His followers were asking Him about is often referred to as the ?Second Coming,? the dramatic return of Christ prior to His takeover of the world and the establishing of the kingdom of God on Earth. The term ?the end of the age? is used here not to signify the end of the planet, but the end of the unjust and inhumane reign of man.
Jesus answered their question by not just pointing out one sign that would indicate when ?the end? would be near, but He gave many specific indicators to be on the lookout for. Outstanding predictions by a number of other biblical writers help fill in the picture. It is these prophesied ?signs? that we will now focus on.
The Even Bigger Answers
?You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. ? For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.??Jesus (Matthew 24:6-8)
?Sorrows? is the English translation of the Greek word wdi/nwn [transliterated as odin] that appears in the original text of Matthew?s Gospel. This word more commonly means birth pangs, the painful muscle contractions that a pregnant woman experiences during labor and subsequent childbirth.
The world has experienced these birth pangs of wars, famines, plagues, and earthquakes for millennia. The apostle Paul noted: ?For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now? (Romans 8:22). But labor only goes on for a limited amount of time.
The birth of the ?baby,? which in this case is Jesus? return and the end of this age, is not going to wait forever. And you may be surprised to learn just how these birth pangs have progressed in recent years. Take the first part of this passage, for example. ?
A World at War
?You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. ? For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.?
War has been a scourge of the world and mankind since time immemorial, but no period in history has witnessed a greater number of wars or greater destruction brought about by them than has the last hundred years
Prior to 1914, war had never been universal, but in both World War I and II, global war was waged. In the latter, all but 12 small nations of the world were militarily or technically involved, and 93 million people served in the armed forces of both sides. Of these, 25 million died. Civilian casualties were unprecedented: In the Soviet Union alone, over 20 million civilians died as a result of the war. The Washington Post noted:
[The] 20th-century wars have been ?total wars? against combatants and civilians alike. ? The barbarian wars of centuries past were alley fights in comparison.
Other newspapers and commentators have also described the carnage:
Since the end of World War II, there have been at least 130 wars, killing more than 23 million people directly and another 20 million through famine and other war-related disruptions. Whereas the number of major wars?killing at least 1,000 persons?stood at around a dozen in any given year during the fifties, and rose no higher than 20 a year during the sixties and seventies, it surged at the beginning of the eighties to more than 30. In the 1990s there were 56 wars in 44 countries. Most were civil upheavals for control of the government or territory.
As of 2007 there were 34 armed conflicts being waged around the world. Three times as many people?110 million?fell victim to war in the 20th century as in all the wars from the first century A.D. to 1899. And 70 percent of all war casualties since World War II have been civilians, rising to more than 90 percent in the 1990s.
The innocent have paid the greatest price in wars, the data show. Between 1990 and 2000 alone, 2 million children were killed. Since 1945, wars have produced 35 million refugees.
Since the War on Terror was declared after 9/11, till July 2007 an estimated 832,962 people were killed, and 1,590,895 seriously injured in Afghanistan and Iraq, regarded as the two principal theaters of that war. That is 16 times as many people as have been killed in all terrorist attacks in the world since 1968. Further studies put the death toll in Iraq alone at 1.2 million.
The world hoped that the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 would not only signify the end of the Cold War between the superpowers, but usher in a new era of global peace. Unfortunately, this has not been the case.
Ethnic Cleansing and Tribal Terror
The Greek word for ?nation? originally used in this prophecy, ?nation shall rise against nation,? is ethnos, which is more accurately translated ?a race? or ?a tribe.? In other words, Jesus was saying that ethnic groups would rise against each other. This has been tragically fulfilled in recent times. Pulitzer prize-winning historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (1917-2007) warned, ?The 20th century [was] a century of the warfare of ideologies: democracy vs. fascism, democracy vs. communism. But the end of the Cold War has released long-buried national, racial, ethnic, and linguistic antagonisms around the world. ? The 21st century promises to be a century of the warfare of ethnicities.?
The Associated Press (AP) reports that during the 20th century the murders perpetrated by nations against their own people exceeded the deaths caused by wars with rivals outside their borders. Citing Stalin?s purges, Mao?s Cultural Revolution, Pol Pot?s killing fields, the so-called ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, the horrors of Rwanda, etc., the grim verdict is reached:
War aside, the 20th century [was] awash in blood. On every continent but North America and Australia, governments have murdered those they governed by the thousands and millions, often by turning neighbor against neighbor. In this most civilized century, by one estimate the killing rage has extinguished 170 million lives. ? [The 20th century] is the century that coined the term ?genocide.?
Conflicts within states now make up more than 95% of all conflicts. Prominent among this type of conflict is the perennial Palestinian/Israeli conflict that has now gone on for sixty years, resulting in thousands of deaths, many more casualties, and millions of refugees, some displaced now for generations.
Although the outlook may appear bleak, the day is soon coming when God Himself will intervene in this violent world, and war shall be forever abolished. The Bible tells us that when Christ returns to rule the Earth, ?He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore? (Isaiah 2:4).
More about this future reign of world peace later, but now, back to the pressing realities of the present.
?Mommy, I?m Hungry!?
?And there will be famines. ??
Are we living in a time of famine?
Extreme poverty remains a daily reality for more than 1 billion people who subsist on less than US$1 a day. Hunger and malnutrition are almost equally pervasive: More than 800 million people have too little to eat to meet their daily energy needs. More than a quarter of children under age five in developing countries are malnourished.
Malnutrition in children contributes to over half of child deaths. It is caused not only by food deprivation, but also by the debilitating effects of infectious diseases and lack of care. Over 150 million children under age five in the developing world are underweight.
Out of 13 million deaths in large-scale conflicts from 1994 to 2003, over 12 million were in sub-Saharan Africa, Western Asia, and Southern Asia. Not surprisingly, these regions are also home to three quarters of the world?s 37 million refugees and displaced persons and the areas where the number of hungry people is growing.
Over the same period of time, 669,000 people died as a consequence of natural disasters. Nearly three quarters of these deaths were in Eastern and Southern Asia.
All of this is compounded by a profound climate change that is affecting?or soon will?every corner of the world. Sir John Houghton, a British climate expert and co-chair of the Scientific Assessment Working Group of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, warns that we have yet to see the ravages that global warming will wreak: ?Forests will die, diseases like malaria will spread, and starving refugees will wander across borders as weather becomes more extreme. The impacts of global warming are such that I have no hesitation in describing it as a ?weapon of mass destruction.??
While it took until 1830 to reach a world population of one billion, it only took 100 years more to add a second billion (1930), 30 years for the third billion (1960), 16 years for the fourth billion (1976), and 11 years for the fifth billion (1987). World population has more than doubled in the last 50 years and now tops 6.6 billion. The world?s population is expected to reach 8.5 billion by the year 2030. As the number of people increases, per capita availability of water and arable land decreases.
More than 2.7 billion people will face severe water shortages by the year 2025 if the world continues consuming water at the same rate [and] another 2.5 billion people will live in areas where it will be difficult to find sufficient fresh water to meet their needs. The control of water resources is predicted to become a major cause of armed conflict in the future.
The International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) Secretariat issued an urgent call for disaster preparedness in light of [the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change?s Fourth Assessment] global climate report that confirmed global warming, rising sea levels and increasing acidity in the oceans. The Director of the Secretariat, Silvano Briceno, says that spells an upcoming increase in disasters, including heat waves, floods, droughts, and stronger hurricanes and tropical storms.
The Simple Solution
The terrible irony is that the world does produce enough food to feed its expanding population. While some famines are caused by drought or other natural disasters, most starvation in the world today could be avoided were it not for humanity?s selfishness and inhumanity. War, sanctions, government corruption, and economic oppression are all symptoms of the real problem. While innocent children starve, some rich nations destroy millions of tons of food in order to keep prices artificially high and other states impose artificial barriers such as sanctions, which hurt the poor most of all.
An AP article tells us that the authoritative Bread for the World Institute expressed such sentiments in its fifth annual report:
?World hunger is rooted in a breakdown of humanitarian values,? according to the organization, which lobbies for bigger anti-poverty programs. Its report identified violence, political powerlessness, poverty, racial discrimination, and environmental strains as the main causes of malnutrition.
World agriculture produces 17 percent more calories per person today than it did 30 years ago, despite a 70-percent population increase. This is enough to provide everyone in the world with at least 2,720 calories per person per day. The recommended daily intake of calories for men is approximately 2,500 and for women 2,000 according to Britain?s Food Standards Agency. The principal problem is that many people in the world do not have sufficient land to grow enough food or income to purchase it.
The inequities present in the world are brought out when we consider that the amount of money that the richest one percent of the world?s people make each year equals what the poorest 57 percent make. The richest fifth of the world?s people consume four fifths of the world?s resources.
The financial costs to end hunger are relatively slight. The United Nations Development Program estimates that the basic health and nutrition needs of the world?s poorest people could be met for an additional $13 billion a year. Animal lovers in the United States and Europe spend more than that on pet food each year.
852 million people across the world are hungry, up from 842 million a year ago. Every day, more than 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes?one child every five seconds.
If we could all learn to simply follow the Golden Rule and do unto others as we wish they would do unto us, even such daunting problems as widespread famine could be eliminated.
The Great Waster: War
Famines are frequently the result of war, so more war usually means more famine. Former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969) highlighted the wanton waste of war when he declared,
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. ? Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. ? Is there no other way the world may live?
Here are some contemporary facts that put what Eisenhower said in perspective:
The cost to the U.S. alone for the war in Iraq was over $480 billion in December 2007. Researchers say each day of the U.S. war on Iraq costs $341 million.
An astronomical 2.1 million dollars are spent worldwide on the military every minute.
An F-35 Lightning II aircraft will cost around $50 million.
A Westland WAH-64 Apache attack helicopter cost $46.2 million
An Abrams M1A2 battle tank costs $5.6 million
A Tomahawk missile: $1.3 million
A Sidewinder air-to-air missile: $200,000
Tank shells range from $2,000 to $36,000 each.
According to the World Food Program, 20,000 children die of hunger every day, even though only 19 US cents can feed a child a meal. The money spent financing one minute of the war in Iraq would give three meals to over 415,000 children! There are approximately 400 million chronically hungry children in the world. Every one of them could be fed three meals for what is spent on just 16 hours of fighting. The amount spent on the Iraq war from 2003 through May 2008 could have fed all the world?s hungry children for over six years!
Worldwide, there were some 37 million refugees and displaced persons in 2005?largely as a result of wars, political turbulence, civil conflict, and social unrest.
Conflict-induced internal displacement affected some 50 countries across Africa, America, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East in 2005. Over 12 million people were displaced in Africa alone.
Many are appalled at the money that small developing countries spend on armaments while vast numbers of people of those countries are destitute, but are more understanding of the developed countries that ?can afford it.? But the developing world is spending a paltry amount compared to the major players.
World military expenditure in 2005 is estimated to have reached US$1,118 billion in current dollars and is projected to [have reached] $1.2 trillion in 2007. This corresponds to 2.5 percent of world GDP or an average spending of $173 per capita. World military expenditure in 2005 represents a real terms increase of 3.4 percent since 2004, and of 34 percent over the 10-year period 1996-2005.
The 15 countries with the highest spending now account for 84 percent of the total. The U.S., responsible for about 80 percent of the increase in 2005, is the principal determinant of the current world trend, and its military expenditure is 48 percent of the world total, distantly followed by the UK, France, Japan, and China with 4-5 percent each.
A Plagued Planet
?And there will be pestilences??
As with war and famine, the severity and frequency with which ?pestilences??epidemics of highly infectious diseases?continue to strike is alarming.
Last century, the medical profession prematurely claimed victory over a wide array of bacterial and viral killers. In 1979, then-U.S. Surgeon General William Stewart declared that it was time to ?close the books on infectious diseases.?
As recently as 1983, a medical textbook declared infectious diseases ?more easily prevented and more easily cured? than any other major group of disorders.
But instead of fading, the cases of infectious diseases skyrocketed throughout the ?90s. Dr. Sherwin Nuland, in his bestselling book, How We Die, laments, ?Medicine?s purported triumph over infectious disease has become an illusion.? Doctors now warn that the current resurgence of drug-resistant bacteria strains could prove to be more deadly than AIDS.
The book The Killers Within charts the acceleration of resistant infections that began with a few cases in the late 1980s and are now spiraling out of control. The germs, once killed easily with standard antibiotics, can disintegrate skin, clog the lungs and carve golf-ball-size abscesses in flesh.
?The bad bugs are getting stronger and they?re getting stronger faster,? says co-author Mark Plotkin, a Smithsonian Institution ethnobotanist.
The epidemic comes as pharmaceutical companies have all but stopped doing research on antibiotics.
Drug-resistant bugs are out of control. The epicenter of this epidemic lies inside the hospital. Each year, estimates the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, 100,000 Americans die of hospital-bred infections, a higher toll than deaths from breast cancer and AIDS combined. Nearly 2 million patients get hospital infections (of a total 35 million stays), and two-thirds of them have infections that resist at least one drug. This crisis costs us $30 billion a year.
A ?virtually untreatable? form of tuberculosis (TB) has emerged, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Extreme drug resistant TB (XDR TB) has been seen worldwide. XDR TB is defined as strains that are not only resistant to the front-line drugs, but also three or more of the six classes of second-line drugs.
This, according to Dr. Paul Nunn, coordinator of the WHO team at the Stop TB department, makes it virtually untreatable.
Multi-drug resistant TB (MDR TB), which describes strains of TB that are resistant to at least two of the main first-line TB drugs, is already a growing concern. Globally, the WHO estimates there are about 425,000 cases of MDR TB a year, mostly occurring in the former Soviet Union, China, and India.
The Antibiotic Backfire
Why this sudden reemergence of diseases that were once considered to be waning or almost eliminated? Ironically, the experts say that it?s the widespread misuse of drugs designed to eliminate them that is now responsible for the new super-strains.
Critics complain of a ?B-52 approach? among some doctors who blitz their patients with a battery of broad-based antibiotics, often when they are unsure exactly what is making them sick. Experts also suspect that the wide use of antibiotics in animal feed is contributing to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
The medical community is now warning that not only are bacterial plagues on the rise, but viral killers like AIDS and Ebola are occurring more frequently than ever. But the threat from influenza might be the most dangerous of all.
The influenza virus has developed the ability to circumvent the human body?s main defense against the disease, raising the prospect of a deadly new global outbreak, scientists have discovered.
Research into an outbreak of the illness [in 1997], which killed one-third of its victims, has established that the strain responsible was able to bypass completely its victims? first and most crucial immune response to the infection.
Dr. Klaus Stohr, the leader of the World Health Organization?s global influenza program, called the 1997 outbreak ?the last warning from nature? that the world must prepare for a flu pandemic.
The biggest threat comes from strains created when one form of the virus jumps from an animal species to a human already infected with a more common type of flu. Inside the human host, the two viruses combine to create a brand-new strain to which no one on the planet has any prior immunity. That virus can then race through the population like a fire through dry tinder. This, scientists now think, is what happened during the ?Spanish flu? pandemic of 1918 and 1919?the most deadly flu of all time.
Throughout the world, the Spanish flu killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide?more lives than were claimed by the Black Death in the 1300s.
Another pandemic is inevitable. ?Pandemics come in cycles and we?re overdue for one,? says Dr. Donald Perlman, an immunologist at the University of Medicine and Dentistry in New Jersey. Scientists particularly worry about avian flu viruses common in Asia.
?New diseases are emerging at the historically unprecedented rate of one per year,? the WHO?s director-general, Dr. Margaret Chan, said in an introduction to the 2007 World Health Report.
?It would be extremely na?ve and complacent to assume that there will not be another disease like AIDS, another Ebola, or another SARS, sooner or later,? the report said.
In 1951, when WHO issued its first set of health regulations to prevent the international spread of diseases, the situation was stable, the report said. People traveled internationally by ship, slowing the spread of diseases around the world. New diseases were rare.
But today, high volumes of people can quickly travel worldwide, meaning an outbreak or epidemic in any part of the planet is only a few hours away from becoming an imminent threat somewhere else, the report said. Over the last five years, WHO confirmed more than 1,100 disease outbreaks worldwide, such as cholera, polio and bird flu.
The AIDS Explosion
AIDS statistics are staggering. UNAIDS stated that an estimated 2.5 million new HIV infections occurred in 2007. In that year, 2.1 million people died of AIDS. As of the end of 2007, over 33.2 million people are living with HIV/AIDS.
More than 25 million people have died of AIDS since 1981. Africa has 12 million AIDS orphans. Young people (15-24 years old) account for half of all new HIV infections worldwide?around 6,000 become infected with HIV every day.
Aside from the above-mentioned plagues, there is, of course, cancer, which is considered noninfectious. Scientists estimate that about 80 percent of cancers are caused by environmental factors, such as tobacco smoke (actively or passively inhaled) and the ingestion of harmful chemicals in our modern food and water supply. Over 200 different kinds of cancer now kill over 6 million people every year.
Jesus said that plagues and diseases would precede His return. Nevertheless, the Bible also tells us that God can protect and even heal those who trust in Him: ?No evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling? (Psalm 91:10). ?But to you who fear My name the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings? (Malachi 4:2).
The Big Shake-up
?And there will be earthquakes, in various places. ??
A 1995 top-level meeting of geologists and seismologists warned that the rise of big cities along seismic fault lines will cause unprecedented catastrophes in the near future:
?It?s virtually certain there will be catastrophes in the coming decades, the likes of which we have never seen,? Roger Bilham told an International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics meeting. ?Fatality counts exceeding one million are not an unreasonable projection given that 50 percent of an urban population can be lost in a single earthquake.? While major earthquakes ?have generally spared the world?s urban centers in recent decades, this trend will not persist indefinitely,? Bilham said.
The U.S. Geological Survey National Earthquake Information Center reports that there are over 3.3 million earthquakes occurring annually throughout the world. Around 140 of them are magnitude 6.0 or greater on the Richter scale. There is no reliable predictor of when quakes will occur, and they occur over widely scattered areas of the world.
The 2004 Asian Tsunami was caused by a massive magnitude 9.0 earthquake, when 30 kilometers below the seafloor a 1200-km stretch of the Indian tectonic plate was thrust up to 20 meters under the Burma plate, raising the seafloor by several meters. The energy released was equivalent to the explosion of 475,000 kilotons of TNT, or 23,000 Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs. Waves up to 10 meters high crashed into the coastline of Sumatra near the epicenter. At least 226,000 were killed and over 500,000 injured, and one million people were left without the means to make a living.
It was followed less than three months later by another great quake measuring 8.7 in the same region. It was the first time in recorded seismic history?more than a century?that two quakes of such size have happened so close together.
The prophet Isaiah envisioned monster quakes in the last days, saying, ?The foundations of the earth are shaken. The earth is ? shaken exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall totter like a hut ? in the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall? (Isaiah 24:18-20; 30:25).
The Bible?s book of Revelation mentions five times that massive quakes would occur in the last days:
Such passages provide the eschatological backdrop for the book of Revelation, where earthquakes are symbols of God?s final judgment upon the Earth. They appear as climactic judgments throughout the book, producing terror, awe, and destruction among the Earth?s inhabitants. These are at the opening of the sixth and seventh seals (Revelation 6:12; 8:5), just before and after the seventh trumpet (Revelation 11:13,19), and during the seventh bowl (Revelation 16:18). This last earthquake is identified as the greatest ever on Earth, splitting Jerusalem into three parts and destroying the cities of the nations.
Our Violent World
Another condition that Jesus indicated would be prevalent immediately prior to His return would be pervasive violence: ?As the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be? (Matthew 24:37).
How were things in ?the days of Noah?? The book of Genesis tells us ?the earth was corrupt before God, and was filled with violence? (Genesis 6:11). We are all painfully aware that today?s headlines are full of tragic stories of violence.
Political violence is the term used to describe the violence perpetrated by governments on their own or conquered people, or violence committed by political and ideological groups. In the 20th century it is estimated that around 110 million people died as a result of wars. However, this pales in comparison to the 170 million estimated to have been killed in political violence during the same period [in fact, just from 1900-1987]. 170 million deaths translates to around 4,600 people (close to twice the amount killed at the World Trade Center towers during the 9/11 attack) being killed every day for 100 years.
Aside from political violence, violence in all its forms surrounds us. One country that has statistics readily available on this is the United States. In the U.S., more people died from gun-related killings in the 19 years spanning 1979-1997 (651,697) than U.S. servicemen and women that died in combat in war from the Revolutionary War (1775-1783) through to the end of the 20th century (650,858).
Violence is a universal scourge that tears at the fabric of communities and threatens the life, health and happiness of us all. Each year, more than 1.6 million people worldwide lose their lives to violence. For everyone who dies as a result of violence, many more are injured and suffer from a range of physical, sexual, reproductive and mental health problems. Violence is among the leading causes of death for people aged 15-44 years worldwide, accounting for about 14% of deaths among males and 7% of deaths among females.
While juvenile violent crime is down from the historic highs of the early to mid-1990s, we are all still aware of the violent environment that many of the youth of the world live in. School shootings at places like Jokela, Finland; Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia; Dawson College, Montreal, Canada; Columbine High in Littleton, Colorado; West Paducah, Kentucky; Jonesboro, Arkansas; Springfield, Oregon; and Erfurt, Germany, are still vivid memories to many.
Why this unprecedented violence among today?s youth? Behavioral scientists have concluded that one of the main culprits is so-called entertainment, particularly the images brought into everyone?s home, courtesy of television, movies, and the computer gaming industry. In times past, you had to be on the scene where the violence was perpetrated in order to personally witness it. Not now! By the time the average US schoolchild leaves elementary school, he or she will have witnessed more than 8000 murders and 100,000 other acts of violence on television. If the child also has access to violent computer games or films, or cable TV, these figures will be far, far higher.
The Virginia Tech, Montreal, Erfurt, and Columbine killers were avid fans of violent computer games. ?Software for a massacre,? ran the headline in the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on the Erfurt massacre. ?The killer was trained by a computer game.? Though media violence is not the only, or even necessarily prime, motivator in the school killings, nevertheless their high level of exposure to violence desensitizes children and makes them comfortable with such behavior.
The link between violence on film and violence in our streets and homes is strong. United Press International reports on a survey conducted by the 40,000-member Professional Association of Teachers in Britain, which concluded that:
?The impact of violent material is far more widespread than was previously thought,? said Jackie Miller, the association?s deputy secretary general. The survey found that 77 percent of secondary school teachers thought children were being ?desensitized to violence,? and choosing to glorify and mimic violent activity in the playground.
Dr. Leonard D. Efron, Professor of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, studied the habits of more than 400 viewers for 22 years. He observes: ?There can no longer be any doubt that heavy exposure to televised violence is one of the causes of aggressive behavior, crime, and violence in society.? Arnold Kahn of the American Psychological Association adds, ?The debate over the effects of violence on television is like the debate over cigarette smoking and cancer.?
Gayle Hanson, in the article ?The Violent World of Videogames,? had the following to say:
Among those whose voices have risen to damn the computer-game industry for recklessness is Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, a former professor of psychology at the U.S. Military Academy, who taught a course that analyzed the psychology of killing. He says of some of the games, ?They are murder simulators which over time teach a person how to look another person in the eyes and snuff their life out.?
To understand the virus of violence that seems epidemic to many, Grossman points to statistics showing an increase in assault in many countries. According to statistics provided by INTERPOL, from 1977 to 1993, the assault rate in Australia and New Zealand increased by almost 400 percent. The assault rate tripled in Sweden and doubled in Belgium, Denmark, England, France, Hungary, Holland, and Scotland. In the United States the rate of aggravated assault rose from about 60 per 100,000 in 1957 to more than 440 per 100,000 by the middle of [the ?90s, a 700% increase].
?Though we should never downplay child abuse, poverty or racism,? Grossman says, ?there is only one new variable present in each of these countries, bearing the exact same fruit: media violence presented as entertainment for children.?
In his book, High Tech / High Touch: Technology and Our Search for Meaning, John Naisbitt, the acclaimed social forecaster and author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Megatrends 2000, plaintively states the following:
Many of the most popular games are relentlessly violent, and the same video games that are entertaining our children are being used to train our military. Living in the Technologically Intoxicated Zone, we deny that the culture of violence delivered through our television, film, Internet, and video game screens is real. Yet we are perplexed by the violence committed by our young, as epitomized by the Littleton school massacre in Colorado. If we begin to understand that what is on our screens is real, our tolerance for media violence will change forever. And we will no longer send our children into an electronic war zone daily and expect them to remain unaffected and unscarred.
The ?Me? Generation
?Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall [grow] cold? (Matthew 24:12, KJV).
This is how Jesus described the callous condition of people?s hearts in the days before His return. In a related passage, the apostle Paul writes, ?But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God? (2 Timothy 3:1-4).
Selfishness and cold-heartedness seem to be prevalent almost everywhere we look. The British Press Authority reflects what?s occurring in most countries:
Britain is in moral decline as people become more selfish and less public-spirited, according to a [recent] survey.
The country is less law-abiding than it was 10 years ago, according to 77 percent of people questioned in a Gallup social survey, while 65 percent said the sense of morality was weaker.
People were also ?less likely to get involved? than they were 10 years ago, according to 70 percent, while 72 percent thought the country was becoming more selfish.
This view was echoed in the ?Final Report of the National Commission of Civic Renewal? in the United States, co-chaired by the former U.S. Secretary of Education William Bennett and former Senator Sam Nunn. The commission report states:
During the past generation, our families have come under intense pressure, and many have crumbled. Neighborhood and community ties have frayed. Many of our streets and public spaces have become unsafe. Our public schools are mediocre for most students, and catastrophic failures for many. Our character-forming institutions are enfeebled. Much of our popular culture is vulgar, violent, and mindless. Much of our public square is coarse and uncivil. ? Public trust in our leaders and institutions has plunged.
A United Nations study concludes that ?the size of the family is shrinking all over the world because women in most countries want fewer children.? One reason for reduced family size is the radical increase in the number of abortions performed in the last several decades. Despite the fact that advances in fetal science have made a compelling case that human life begins at conception, worldwide an estimated 46 million unborn children?s lives are snuffed out every year. The following passage from the Bible prophet Jeremiah could aptly be applied to our times: ?On your skirts is found the blood of the lives of the poor innocents. I [God] have not found it by secret search, but plainly on all these things? (Jeremiah 2:34).
A mother?s love for her infant has always been considered as pure and natural as can be. Reuters reports that ?women around the world are having fewer children and are ending [about] a quarter of all pregnancies in abortion.?
Forty-six million women around the world have abortions each year. Twenty-two percent of all pregnancies are ended by abortion. Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland have [annual] abortion rates below 10 per 1,000 women of reproductive age; in all other countries of Western Europe and in the United States and Canada, rates are 10-23 per 1,000. Romania, Cuba and Vietnam have the highest reported abortion rates in the world (78-83 abortions per 1,000 women). Worldwide, the lifetime average is about 1 abortion per woman.
Researchers have documented that from 1920 to 2006 there were 840 million reported abortions performed. Taking into account estimates of unreported abortions, the total is projected to be 929 million abortions. It is estimated that there are 3.8 million abortions performed each month worldwide.
This is an indictment of modern society, the conditions and values of which push women into making such a decision. Previous generations would be appalled by such statistics, but not ours. Surely the predicted days have arrived and hearts are growing cold and natural affection is fading away.
The Good News Goes Global
?And this Gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come? (Matthew 24:14).
Unlike wars, famine, plagues, and earthquakes, which Jesus called ?the beginning of sorrows,? He said that this particular sign?the Gospel being preached in all the world?was a specific sign that would indicate when the actual end of the age would be upon the world.
According to The Almanac of the Christian World, Christians and Christian churches now exist in every country of the world. Missiologists estimate that between 75 and 85 percent of the world?s population have heard the Gospel at least once. Over 50 million Bibles are distributed every year, as well as nearly 80 million New Testaments. Four billion Gospel tracts are also printed each year.
According to the United Bible Societies, the entire Bible or parts thereof are now available to about 98 percent of the world?s population, having been translated partially or entirely into 2,303 different languages.
Other Christian books are also proliferating. Books primarily about Jesus in today?s libraries number 175,000 different titles in 500 languages, increasing by four newly published every day. The Gospel is also preached in 38,000 Christian magazines and on 4,050 radio and television stations. Ninety-nine percent of the world?s population have the Gospel available to them via Christian radio stations.
Meanwhile an innumerable number of Christian websites, cyber churches, Gospel webcasts and podcasts, and other Christian ministries evangelize, inform, and pastor via the Internet.
The story of Christ?s sacrifice reached millions worldwide with Mel Gibson?s retelling of The Passion of Christ (2004). But its viewing audience is dwarfed by the Jesus film: Shot on location in the Holy Land in 1979, it is a straight-faced retelling of Luke?s gospel. Starring a white British Jesus, and with mostly Yemenite Jews in the cast, it is an unlikely candidate for the title of most watched?and most translated?film. Yet it is now translated into over 1000 languages with over 200 more translations in progress. It has had an estimated combined viewing and listening audience of over 6 billion.
Never in the course of history has the Gospel been preached in all the world to all nations as it is right now. If not directly by missionaries, it is certainly being preached by the modern mediums of radio, television, telecommunications, and the Internet. This is a conclusive prophecy by Jesus that shows that you and I are now living in the time of the end!