SIGNS OF THE END
By Michael Roy and Scott MacGregor
When Jesus’ disciples asked Him what would be the sign of His return and the end of the world as we know it, He answered by revealing not one sign but many, including the four covered in this second of five installments of The Future Foretold.
“Mommy, I’m Hungry!”
“And there will be famines…” (Matthew 24:7)
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. (The Millennium Development Goals 2005 Report FAO.)
All of this is compounded by a profound climate change that is affecting every part of the world, or soon will. Sir John Houghton, a British climate expert and co-chair of the Scientific Assessment Working Group of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, warns: “Forests will die, diseases like malaria will spread, and starving refugees will wander across borders as weather becomes more extreme. (Maggie Fox, “Global Warming Means Third-World Hardship,” Reuters, 15 Feb 1996.) The impacts of global warming are such that I have no hesitation in describing it as a ‘weapon of mass destruction.’’ (John Houghton, “Global warming is now a weapon of mass destruction” The Guardian, 28 Jul 2003.)
World population has more than doubled in the last 50 years and 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. The control of water resources is predicted to become a major cause of armed conflict in the future. (“Water Wars: Climate change may spark conflict,” The Independent, 9 Apr 2007.)
A Plagued Planet
The severity and frequency with which “pestilences” (epidemics of highly infectious diseases) now strike is also alarming.
A 1983 medical textbook declared infectious diseases “more easily prevented and more easily cured” than any other major group of disorders, (“The Infection Comeback,” U.S. News & World Report, 29 Jan 1996.) but doctors now warn that the current emergence of drug-resistant bacteria strains could prove to be more deadly than AIDS.
Viral killers like AIDS and Ebola are also occurring more frequently than ever, and 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.
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. Scientists now think this is what happened during the “Spanish flu” pandemic of 1918 and 1919, which killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide.
Pandemics come in cycles and we’re overdue for one. (“Medical Pros Fear Flu Pandemic,” Daily News, 3 Oct 2004.) “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 naïve and complacent to assume that there will not be another disease like AIDS, another Ebola, or another SARS, sooner or later,” the report said.
Considering today’s high volume of high-speed international travel, an outbreak of a deadly disease in any part of the world is only a few hours away from becoming a dire threat elsewhere. (“Diseases spreading faster with travel,” AP, 23 Aug 2007.)
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.” (“Deaths in quakes expected to rise as cities grow,” Reuters, Boulder, Colorado, 3 Jul 1995.)
The energy released in the 2004 Asian tsunami was equivalent to the explosion of 475,000 kilotons of TNT, or 23,000 Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs. At least 226,000 were killed and over 500,000 were injured. (“Facts and Figures: Asian Tsunami Disaster,” New Scientist, 20 Jan 2005.)
The Bible’s book of Revelation mentions five times that massive quakes will occur in the Last Days.
Our Violent World
“As the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.” (Matthew 24:37)
Another condition that Jesus indicated would be evident immediately prior to His return would be pervasive violence.
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)
Political violence is the term currently being 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, whereas over 170 million were killed in political violence during the same period. (R. J. Rummel, Death by Government (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 1994.)
(Continued in the next issue of Activated. Excerpted from the booklet The Future Foretold. 3rd ed. Aurora Production AG, 2008.)