This is a summary / transcript of talk given at the Bridge Christian Fellowship on 25 January. Plus some additional material. You will also find material given at this talk on Israel and the Middle East on Israel Desk section of this website
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Doomsday clock – 100 seconds to midnight.
When Jesus gave the disciples the signs of His Second Coming, one of the things He said there would be rumours of wars and ‘famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.’ Matthew 24.7-8.
What Jesus was talking about in Matthew 24.7 is happening now.
When the Christians in Thessalonica asked Paul about Jesus’ Second Coming he told them ‘When they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labour pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.’ 1 Thessalonians 5.3.
People today desperately want peace and safety. They want enough money to live on, somewhere to live and enough food to eat, end of conflict, terrorism and war, social stability, safety in the cities from crime and violence, a decent government that will look after them. They don’t want to live in a state of fear / anxiety about what tomorrow will bring. But sudden destruction is already coming to many people around the world and the threat of much greater destruction is on its way.
In January we have seen the coronavirus spreading from China, warnings that we only have 10 years to save the planet from environmental destruction, a near miss war between the US and Iran, volcanoes erupting and earthquakes in various places and a plague of locusts threatening famine in east Africa.
The Doomsday Clock is a symbolic representation of just how close humanity is to perishing by its own hands. It was set up by scientists during the Cold War between the USA and Soviet Union to warn the world of the possibility of nuclear Armageddon. The clock is now set at just 100 seconds to midnight, closer to humanity’s final hour than it has ever been since it was set up in 1947, reflecting fears of war and environmental destruction. If we had a ‘Second Coming clock’ I wonder where the minute hand of the clock would be now. 30 seconds to midnight?
Jesus warned that in the last days before His return these things would come and people would be afraid of what is coming on the world as they see ‘on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.’ Luke 21.25-6.
The talks I give and the articles I write can add to people’s fear. But it’s there in the news anyway so you can’t get away from it. Understanding Biblical prophecy is actually the answer to fear. It tells us that there is a way to be saved from the judgement that is coming on the world and a good end in view despite the present travail. Therefore we can face the future with confidence and hope.
When the disciples asked Jesus what would be the sign of His coming, one of the things He said was ‘And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.’ Matthew 24.7-8.
January saw the new Coronavirus break out in China and spread to a number of countries around the world. Authorities in China have halted all transport and imposed hardening states of urban lockdown on more than 25 million people in eight cities, in an attempt to limit the spread of the SARS-like virus. There has been a shut down of the city of Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, larger than London, where the virus originated. Flights, long-haul buses, and trains from the city have been cancelled, roads are blockaded, and residents have been told not to travel. The virus has now spread to every province of China, with more and more cities facing lockdown. Now the whole country is facing isolation as airlines stop flights in and out of the country and Russia closes its 2,600 mile border with China. Fear of contagion is spreading around the world as cases have been reported in Australia, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
The virus has a long incubation period meaning people can appear healthy for up to two weeks before developing symptoms. During this period they can be infecting people leading to the rapid spread of the virus. On 29th January official figures put the number of deaths from the virus at 132 with nearly 6000 confirmed cases in China. Unofficial figures put the number much higher. A film said to be made by a nurse inside Wuhan claimed about 90,000 are infected. Experts at Lancaster University estimated there may already be 11,000 people infected in Wuhan – and that only one in 20 infections has come to medical attention. They calculated the number could grow to 190,000 by February 4.
China’s health minister Ma Xiaowei stated that said people can spread the virus before they show symptoms of having the disease. The incubation period for the virus can range from one to 14 days, during which infection can occur. That means that there could be thousands of people that aren’t exhibiting any symptoms at all that are spreading this virus around like wildfire all over the globe right at this moment.
According to official reports the source of disease is a market selling live animals, including snakes and bats for eating. This may be so, but there may also be a connection to the Wuhan National Biosafety Laboratory, the only one of its kind in China, designated for studying dangerous pathogens like SARS and Ebola. Before its January 2018 opening, biosafety experts and scientists from the US expressed concerns that a virus could escape the lab, warning of the danger of lab animals that scientists at the Wuhan lab intended to inject with viruses.
Tyler Durden on his Zero Hedge website has written ‘Over the past few days, the mainstream press has vigorously pushed back against a theory about the origins of the coronavirus that has now infected as many as 70,000+ people in Wuhan alone (depending on whom you believe). The theory is that China obtained the coronavirus via a Canadian research program, and started moulding it into a bioweapon at the Institute of Virology in Wuhan.
The theory is that the virus, which was developed by infectious disease experts to function as a bio-weapon, originated in the Wuhan-based lab of Dr. Peng Zhou, China’s preeminent researcher of bat immune systems, specifically in how their immune systems adapt to the presence of viruses like coronavirus and other destructive viruses. Somehow, the virus escaped from the lab, and the Hunan fish market where the virus supposedly originated is merely a ruse.
Now, a respected epidemiologist who recently caught flack for claiming in a twitter threat that the virus appeared to be much more contagious than initially believed is pointing out irregularities in the virus’s genome that suggests it might have been genetically engineered for the purposes of a weapon, and not just any weapon but the deadliest one of all.’ For the rest of the story go to https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/coronavirus-contains-hiv-insertions-stoking-fears-over-artificially-created-bioweapon
Just over three months ago, a “high-level pandemic exercise” entitled “Event 201” was held in New York City. On October 18th the John Hopkins Center for Health Security, in conjunction with the World Economic Forum and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, brought together “15 leaders of business, government, and public health” to simulate a scenario in which a pandemic was ravaging the planet. The programme discussed how to respond to such a virus, by ensuring rapid international distribution of medical countermeasures, maintaining travel and trade during pandemics and reducing their economic impact. According to its publicity: ‘The exercise illustrated areas where public/private partnerships will be necessary during the response to a severe pandemic in order to diminish large-scale economic and societal consequences. The virus was called coronavirus and the pandemic although limited at first in this imaginary scenario it ended up killing 65 million people.’
Some conspiracy theorists are speculating that the two events are connected and this is a deliberate experiment taking place to test how the world responds to such a crisis and to show the need for a global authority to react to and control such crises.
Whether the conspiracy theory is correct or it is just an example of human frailty, the epidemic is another reminder of the fragility of our world in which sudden destruction can come in a moment of time. The fact that the modern world is so interconnected means that such things happening in one corner of the world can spread rapidly around the world. Another sign that the world is moving towards the time of great tribulation prophesied for the days before the second coming of Jesus, who said that ‘pestilence’ is another global sign of His return.
After completing this article I came across this article from https://www.naturalnews.com/2020-01-31-brutal-chinese-leaders-to-sacrifice-coronavirus-infected-cities.html showing that the situation may be much worse than I have written here and could lead to millions of deaths in China, the collapse of the Chinese economy and the knock on effect of the world economy which would be catastrophic. Not happy reading but forewarned is forearmed.
Earth Groaning in Travail.
At the beginning of the year Prince William declared that the human race has only 10 years left to save the world. His father Prince Charles said the same thing before the World Economic Forum at Davos and teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg gave us only 8 years. They are not saying that world will end in 10 years, but warning that if we don’t do something to start fixing the environmental problem now, the future of the planet is in danger.
Michael Snyder, writing on the Economic Collapse blog, said: ‘There has never been a time in modern human history when our planet has been changing as rapidly as it is changing right now. The sun is behaving very strangely, great heat and drought, causing fires but also freakishly cold weather is breaking out all over the world, ocean temperatures continue to rise, volcanoes all over the globe are shooting ash miles into the air, and the north magnetic pole has been moving at a pace that is deeply alarming scientists.’ https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/01/michael-snyder/7-major-earth-changes-that-are-happening-right-now-that-everyone-needs-to-know-about/
There have always been wildfires, but we have never seen anything like this. In August 2019, countless catastrophic fires burned millions upon millions of acres in the Amazon rainforest, and January’s fires in Australia burned an estimated 46 million acres of land and killed at least 30 people. An estimated one billion animals were also killed and some endangered species may be driven to extinction.
The heat and drought were then followed by fierce storms as hail stones the size of golf balls rained down on parts of the country. Following this a massive dust storm engulfed the town of Narromine, some 250 miles northwest of Sydney. The186-mile wide cloud of red dust was carried by wind gusts up to 66 miles per hour. The huge storm quickly plunged the area into darkness so complete the weather service described it as “Day turns into night!”. Some compared Australia’s troubles to the biblical plagues of Egypt and talked of apocalyptic events as described in the Book of Revelation.
While man made global warming was blamed for this, others have pointed to abnormal activity in sun and ocean currents. The Indian Ocean has been affected by something called the Dipole effect, similar to El Nino in Pacific. This has changed the distribution of warm and cold water and affected the air flow over Indian ocean, causing extreme dry weather and drought in Australia and floods in east Africa. Now there are floods in Madagascar.
According to NASA, solar activity has dropped to the lowest level in 200 years. The forecast for the next solar cycle says it will be the weakest of the last 200 years. The maximum of this next cycle – measured in terms of sunspot number, a standard measure of solar activity level – could be 30 to 50% lower than the most recent one. The results show that the next cycle will start in 2020 and reach its maximum in 2025.
The effect of this will be not warming but cooling. Some are wondering if this lack of solar activity could potentially spawn another “Little Ice Age”, in contrast to the usual fears of global warming. When solar activity gets really low, it can have the effect of a “mini ice age.” The period between 1645 and 1715 was marked by a prolonged sunspot minimum, and this corresponded to a downturn in temperatures in Europe and North America. The Thames froze solid at London Bridge and extreme cold weather caused a number of problems and deaths across northern hemisphere.
When solar activity gets very low, it has traditionally meant very cold and very snowy winters. In the UK we have had a relatively warm winter, with the highest December temperature ever recorded in Scotland after Christmas – 67 F 18C. In Moscow there has been virtually no snow, something unheard of, and resulting in the authorities having to bring in artificial snow for a midwinter festival there. At the same time January brought very cold weather and very heavy snow in places that are extremely unusual. This affected central Asia, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, even reaching Saudi Arabia and Egypt. In Greece, Israel and Spain there has been unusually cold and wet weather with high falls of snow.
Meanwhile, the oceans of the world just keep getting hotter and hotter. In fact, ocean temperatures off the California coast have been setting new all-time record highs. The world’s oceans hit their warmest level in recorded history in 2019, according to a study that provides more evidence that Earth is warming at an accelerated pace. Where oceans warm rapidly it causes fish to die through lack of oxygen in water. So is it warming or cooling or both? Whatever it is it is highly unusual and a single explanation of what is causing it – humans emitting CO2 by burning fossil fuels is not the whole story.
During the first half of 2020, volcanoes all over the world have been roaring to life and have been shooting giant clouds of hot ash miles into the sky. For example, in the Philippines the Taal volcano shot ash nine miles into the air, it has also been shooting scorching hot lava half a mile into the air, and the ground around the volcano is starting to crack wide open. But even after all the devastation that we have already seen, authorities are warning that it could “re-explode at any moment”…Earthquakes continue to increase. In January there have been significant earthquakes in Puerto Rico, Turkey and off the coast of Jamaica. 2019 saw a dramatic increase in the number of earthquakes worldwide.
All of this is taking place while the north magnetic pole is moving from the Canadian Arctic towards Russia at a very rapid pace. Its swift pace toward Siberia in recent years at a rate of around 34 miles per year has forced scientists to update the World Magnetic Model — used by navigation systems — a year ahead of schedule. The Earth’s magnetic field has been steadily weakening over time, and this has some experts extremely concerned. Without our magnetic field, life on Earth could not exist for long. It doesn’t have to disappear completely to be a massive problem. If it simply gets weak enough, dwelling on the surface is going to become exceedingly difficult. Problems like these are impossible for humans to fix.
On top of all this billions of locusts are eating everything in sight in east Africa right now, and every single day many more farms are being completely wiped out in an area still reeling from deadly drought and floods. Ravenous locust swarms that are “the size of cities” are consuming crops at a staggering pace, and this could potentially cause famine on the African continent that is unlike anything we have ever seen before.
Our planet is becoming increasing unstable, and what we have experienced so far is just the beginning. All this is of the end time shaking of all things. The clock is ticking for humanity and for our planet as a whole. We are living in the time of the beginning of sorrows that Jesus spoke of, when there will be increase of earthquakes and famines as in Matthew 24. The Bible indicates disturbances in the environment at the end of days, including things which line up with some of the events happening now – increase of storms, trees burning, fish dying in the seas, waters polluted and rivers drying up, people dying as a result of extreme heat, plagues and earthquakes in various places. See Isaiah 24, Matthew 24, Luke 21.25-28, Romans 8.18-22, Revelation 8.7-12, Revelation 16. It also predicts the rise of the antichrist / beast with global government in Revelation 13. All these things coming together mean we are living in the last days before Jesus returns. He will judge the world in righteousness and take up the reins of power over the earth, as He rules for 1000 years, putting right the mess humans have made of the planet He gave us to look after. See Isaiah 2.1-4, 11-12, 35, Zechariah 14, Revelation 20.
Persecution grows in China and around the world.
Some 260 million Christians are living in areas of high persecution — that’s one in eight believers worldwide — an increase of 10 percent compared to last year. This is the conclusion of Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List, its annual report on Christian persecution worldwide. This lists the 50 most dangerous countries for Christians. North Korea topped the list for the 19th year in a row, but China became the focus this year because of its forced labour camps and oppression of Uighur Muslims that’s expected to spread and worsen. Roughly 100 million Christians have been affected by what Curry called “a blueprint for dictators around the world” that China already planned to sell to Iran and other countries. “China is resurrecting the ‘god as the government state,’ and we’re all threatened by it,” said David Curry, CEO of Open Doors.
Christians in China have been under constant surveillance, not just on the streets, but also in their churches which have been torn down, holy books confiscated. China last year sentenced Pastor Wang Yi to nine years in jail for speaking out against the state. In China, state-sanctioned and ‘underground’ churches have been harassed or shut down in at least 23 provinces, in an increasingly hostile context. In Xinjiang, at least one state-sanctioned church is known to require congregants to queue for facial recognition checks. In the 1,400 million country, “religion is banned from the public sphere; some teachers and medical staff have been pressured to sign documents saying they have no religious faith”. In some areas, says Open Doors, “elderly people have been told their pensions will be cut if they do not renounce their Christian faith. a Chinese pastor described the fear and intimidation believers are enduring under the Communist government. “The Chinese government has now placed severe restrictions and policies on the house churches asking neighbours to spy on one another, pressuring school teachers and college professors to betray and sign a statement to denounce their own faith as well to do the same to students,” Pastor Jian Zhu said
All this comes against a backdrop of increasingly all-pervasive surveillance via facial recognition and other technology”. As the Government uses artificial intelligence systems to monitor citizens and keep them in line.
David Curry said “The drivers of persecution are still very significantly entrenched. Islamic extremism is spreading in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. Christians have been killed and driven out of Middle East war zone countries, Syria and Iraq. Also northern Nigeria and across the Sahel region of Africa. The ISIS-affiliated group in Boko Haran in Nigeria is crossing borders: Cameroon, Chad, Niger and now Burkina Faso. If civil authorities don’t protect Christian communities, as with ISIS, there could be another caliphate… It’s very troubling. In the Sahel, especially, the rise of Islamist militancy has become a challenge not only to Christians but also to the existence of states and governments in the region, and thus to the rest of the world”. An ongoing Islamic extremist project to exterminate Christians in sub-Saharan Africa is even more brutal and more consequential for the Church than it is in the Middle East, the place where Christians suffered ISIS ‘genocide’, as the U.S. government officially designated.” And, similar to last year, Christian women continued to be raped and sexually harassed at alarming rates, an average of 23 per day.”
Curry said the free world “must do more” to highlight the plight of persecuted Christians. On this subject Boris Johnson gave a Christmas message in which he said “Today of all days, I want us to remember those Christians around the world who are facing persecution. For them, Christmas Day will be marked in private, in secret, perhaps even in a prison cell. As Prime Minister, that’s something I want to change. We stand with Christians everywhere, in solidarity, and will defend your right to practice your faith.” Let us hope he stands on this word.
Persecution of Christians is another sign of the last days. In His answer to the disciples’ question about the signs of His return, Jesus said, ‘Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 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 24.9-14.
Megxit and Brexit.
Amidst all the millions of words poured out in the press over Harry and Meghan’s departure from their royal roles, one article by Trevor Philips in the Daily Mail (18 January) caught my attention. He wrote;
‘I believe that in the rumbling argument over Harry and Meghan‘s future, the monarchy has become the vehicle for an emerging proxy war over what kind of nation Britain wants to be. When the smoke clears over Megxit we may well discover who is winning the culture wars that are breaking out all over the country — vividly illustrated on BBC1‘s Question Time on Thursday night.
The actor Laurence Fox provoked indignation in the studio by suggesting that racism has played no part in the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s decision to leave Britain. One irate member of the audience — a lecturer on race and ethnicity, incidentally — told him that as a ‘white, privileged male’ he was in no position to proffer an opinion. Fox robustly countered by accusing his critic of herself being ‘racist’ towards him for her comments. Within minutes, social media had erupted: Meghanites were outraged; anti-Meghanites had backed Fox in numbers.
This spat is just a sign of deeper divisions between two emerging factions. One Britain wants to join the ‘progressive’, globalist, woke world epitomised by Meghan and Harry’s circle — George and Amal Clooney, Oprah Winfrey and the Obamas et al. Another yearns for the comfortable, domestic, common sense future in which the Queen, William, Kate and Mary Berry represent the nation’s beating heart.’
He went on to make the link with the argument over Brexit: ‘Research by the former Conservative Party deputy chairman, Lord Ashcroft, conducted in the weeks after the EU referendum in June 2016, showed that the Remainer and Brexit tribes were not divided by attitudes to economics. Asked whether they regarded capitalism as positive or negative, the two tribes split evenly — there are as many anti-capitalists among Leavers as there are among Remainers.
What really separated the two groups are what we now call identity issues — feminism, multiculturalism, freedom of speech. Remainers lean heavily to the view that Britain is a place where inequality, racism and hate speech poison too many lives; Leavers believe that we are a country where ‘live and let live’ should be our watchword, and bullying by Leftish busybodies is making life intolerable for most of us. Both tribes have a case to make, but disturbingly we seem increasingly deaf to the view of those who are not on whichever side we favour.’
The issue of identity politics, what Trevor Philips describes as the ‘progressive, globalist, woke world’, has an impact on Christians and our place in society. On the one hand we want to be firmly on the side of racial equality and justice, sharing the message of God’s love and plan of redemption for all humanity, whatever their race or identity. On the other hand, we find that multiculturalism and the diversity agenda has become a means of attacking Christian values and beliefs, in particular the teaching that there is one way to God, through the Lord Jesus Christ and that marriage between one man and one woman is the only sexual relationship that is approved by God.
We see a culture which some have described as ‘cultural Marxism’ taking over sectors of our society, particularly our universities, resulting in a climate in which only one opinion is allowed to be stated. This ‘progressive’ orthodoxy believes in an absolute equality of all people, life styles, faiths and non faiths, genders (and imposes the nonsensical idea of transgenderism as an undeniable fact of life). It opposes the biblical view that all humans are sinners and need a Saviour and the one way of salvation is through repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It promotes the idea that white people are all racist and must accept guilt for Britain’s imperial past, and that non whites are always the victims. Those who Trevor Philips describes as ‘Leftish busybodies’ are continually attacking ‘white privileged males’, so creating an inverted form of racism.
One result of this is the way the fear of being labelled racist has prevented the police from taking action against grooming gangs, made up mainly of Muslims, who have sexually exploited vulnerable white girls. By the way South Asians who are Hindu or Sikh object to the way the media has labelled these gangs as Asian, since they are almost all Muslims, and Asians who are Hindus or Sikhs play no part in them. But if you draw attention to their Muslim identity you may find yourself accused of Islamophobia and hate speech.
The issue of hate speech itself has become a way in which the left has tried to shut down freedom of speech, especially in our universities. In the election programme Labour and the Lib Dems wanted to increase action on this issue. Labour wanted to bring the law on LGBT hate crimes into line with hate crimes based on race and faith, by making them “aggravated offences”. Lib Dems wanted to extend hate crime laws to cover “all forms of hate activity”, including an ‘incitement to hatred’ offence covering transgenderism. Diane Abbot proposed hiring 10,000 extra police to tackle this issue.
This is a concern for Christians. We are not in the business of wanting to hate anyone, as we believe the command to love God and ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ (Matthew 22.37-40). At the same time the Bible clearly teaches that certain life styles, behaviours and belief systems are wrong in the sight of God. We now find that saying that these life styles or beliefs are wrong can be classed as a hate crime, which has already caused a problem for Christian preachers. What you should not say is that homosexual practice is sinful and that there is only one way to God, through Jesus who meant it when He said, ‘I am the Way, the Truth and the Life and no one comes to the Father except through Me.’ John 14.6.
As a result we end up with a kind of thought police controlling what people are allowed to think and say. In Finland a Christian MP Paivi Rasanen is under investigation because she criticised the Finnish state church for endorsing a Gay Pride march. She was accused of hate crime because she quoted Romans 1.24-27, which describes homosexual acts as sinful. If quoting the Bible becomes a hate crime in the western world we are on the way to persecution of the church and suppression of the truth. In Britain we have had cases of street preachers cautioned or arrested by the police for making public statements that homosexual practice is sinful in the sight of God. Sheffield University is now paying 20 students £9.34 an hour to be “race equality champions” and police their peers’ thoughts. They will teach classes that explain how to “lead healthy conversations” so they are not at risk of saying something that might offend.
Coming back to Harry and Meghan, one of the problems they have had is that Meghan particularly has identified with the progressive, ‘woke’ side of this argument and faced criticism from those who are on the other side of the argument. The fact that she is mixed race is then interpreted as being a sign that her critics are racist. In the Question Time debate which sparked the article by Trevor Philips, the university lecturer, Rachel Boyle, said the reason Meghan had returned to North America is ‘racism, she’s a black woman and she’s been torn to pieces.’ Actor Laurence Fox disagreed saying ‘We’re the most tolerant, lovely country in Europe.’ Fox claims to have become ‘totally radicalised against a ‘woke’ or politically correct culture that has stifled diversity of opinion’. One of his fans on social media praised him for annoying ‘the sanctimonious humourless, preachy victimhood peddling mediocrities that fill our public space.’
The only answer to this divide is to find salvation and new life in Jesus Christ in which we learn to love God and our neighbour, and also to walk the narrow way to life through repentance, reconciliation and faith in Jesus. That is the answer for Meghan and Harry too, not the practice of yoga, which is Meghan’s passion and which is leading her into spiritual deception and away from the Gospel and salvation in Jesus Christ. But in saying that I am of course totally out of order according to the politically correct ‘woke’ side of this debate and may even be guilty of hate speech.