Pastor T. J. de Ruiter, The Netherlands
Not only those living in the industrialized world but also those living in poorer nations, like in Africa or Asia, feel the effects of the pollutions in the environment. It is high time to to start with an international programme that will effect the necessary changes. In this article I make not only a brief review of the present state of affairs, but also show what will be the ultimate way to escape from the doom scenario that scientists hold before us. It seems that dark and gloomy days lie ahead of us, but there is a sure hope for a better future.
The moral state of affairs in many countries is rapidly getting worse. Crime, organized or not, is increasing. Good, healthy morals are disappearing and as a result social peace and safety that are decreasing. Though political and religious leaders make efforts to teach good standards and values for behaviour - our Dutch prime minister launched a personal plan for the restoration of good standards and values for behaviour - there are no signs that these programmes have significant results. Is there any hope for a worldwide improvement, a restoration to law and order, peace and safety? Yes, there is!
Environmental experts are sure that the human race is causing an enormous environmental global pollution with great speed. The air around the globe is getting polluted rapidly, but also water, even in the deep seas, and the land. The temperature of the atmosphere is raising and as a result the ice on the poles and on the high, snowy mountains is melting. Animal life on land and in the seas is threatened with extinction due to the hunting and the pollution. Environmental experts are warning that if nothing is done about it within a few decades from now humanity will face very serious threats. International conferences are being held but little is being accomplished to change this course of disaster for the human race and all life on this planet. So, the situation now is that the harmful developments are not stopped and new problems emerge continuously, such as the fatal pollution through nuclear energy and even the growing possibility of the use of nuclear weapons. But also ethical and religious leaders warn for a global moral pollution. They are right too, for immorality, violence, crime and injustice ruin the lives of millions.
The big question is if the human race will be able, of its own, to change decisively this disaster course. It is possible if we dare to take the necessary decisions and execute them accurately and disciplined. But economic factors are now and will be a big obstacle to the necessary changes. To be honest - and I am surely not the only one so thinking - I very much doubt if humanty will unite in making the necessary changes. As christians we know that the fallen, imperfect human nature is basically egoistic, rebellious and bent to do evil. Knowing this, the promise of universal and total renewal as given in the Bible by prophets and hole writers - read for instance 2 Peter 3:13 - is very interesting and worth to explore. It gives hope in this problematic day and age. The Holy Scriptures are certain: God has a plan; let me briefly lay this before you in this article.
God has a plan....
In 2 Peter 3:10 we find an interesting and important statement: "And the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up - or found." Everybody understands that with 'works' the inventions, achievements and installations of the human race are meant. God wants us to know that there will come a day when He will reveal the true nature and the destructive powers of the works of humanity and that He shall destroy them.
But before that day arrives, He permits things to develop according to the will, intelligence and ambitions of the human race. In His eternal and wise counsel He has permitted the godless, autonomous and foolish will to show what it can or cannot do. This is difficult to understand, but we must realize that God is not shown to be passive or weak in permitting evil to exist and come to fullness. No, it is His sovereign will that this will be so - for a limited time. After all He gave the greatest gift to human beings to have a free will. "If this is what they want, go ahead with it," He says, "but there will come a day when I will make an end to it."
As said above, slowly it becomes clear to those who have eyes to see, what man is doing to himself and his environment - he is making a mess of it - and a big one too. In view of the coming environmental disasters as forecasted by scientists it is important to look at our interpretation of some Holy Scriptures, especially the apocalyptic, like the book of Revelation. For the last book of the Bible gives us an insight with highly symbolic pictures and scenes in what we can expect in days ahead of us, the last phase of the present worldorder.
In Revelation chapter 6 we read of great endtime disasters coming upon the earth and his inhabitants. We read that the Lamb on the throne, Jesus Christ, opens the seven seals. He has the authority to allow to happen what must happen in the final stages of this age. We read that peace is taken away from the earth (verse 4). Famine will take place (vers 6). Please notice that scientists warn for threatening famines in these days. Verse 9 speaks of death through wars, famines, deathly diseases and wild animals. In verse 12 great earthquakes are predicted. Remember the enormous tsunami of some years ago. Scientists predict great earthquakes, but when, nobody knows exactly. I think of the predictions of an earhquake in the region of Calfiforna around the Sint Andrew crack. It says that the sun became black and the moon red as blood, this may be caused by enormous clouds of vulcanic dust thrust into the atmosphere. It is not unscriptural to suggest that some of the disasters mentioned in the book of Revelation will be caused by man himself as a result of his irresponsible, polluting and earth-exhausting policies and way of living. Of course, he is inspired by evil powers in higher, invisible spheres to his godless and stupid works. However, God knew from eternity about these developments and permitting them - in fact they could not even happen without His will - He keeps the ultimate control. The natural laws and processes, when disobeyed and abused by man, release dreadful forces and pour out the wrath of God. As said above the ultimate control over everything is given to the Lamb on the throne. He opens the seven seals, that make it possible for these events to happen; read Revelation chapters 6,7 and 8. The eternal truth stands - even in dark days: God is on the throne.
When the day comes, on which God will say: "Enough is enough," Jesus Christ, destined to be King of kings and Lord of lords will come, judge and bind the evil in the spiritual world and on this planet. Then He will launch an enormous program of total renewal of the face of the earth and the atmosphere of the planet. Then will the promise be fulfilled we find in Revelation 21:5, "And He who sat upon the throne said, Behold, I will make all things new."
Jesus Christ will secure a threefold program of renewal
1. A renewal of power
When God makes an end to the unwise, harmful, godless developments, Jesus Christ wil return to this planet and become King of all the earth and set His throne in Jerusalem; Isaiah 60:3; Luke 1:33; Revelation 11:15,17. Can you think of somebody else, who would be more suitable and worthy than Jesus Christ, the Lover of all men, who gave His life as a sacrifice to reconcile them with the eternal, Most High God? The crucified One will become the crowned Saviour. The rejected Jesus will become the reigning King of all the earth
2. A renewal of society with its structure and morality
It is prophesied by the old Jewish prophets, by Jesus Christ Himself and his apostles that when Jesus will return to this planet He will set up his kingdom. He will establish a government that will worldwide organize a good and righteous society with godly, morally pure values and standards. His governors will see to it that the holy standards and morals will be taught and kept. The righteousness of God wil prevail on earth and bring global peace, order and safety - values we so much desire now; Isaiah 11:5-9; Isaiah 32:1; 2 Peter 3:13.
3. An environmental renewal
We wrote earlier in this article that the air, land and seas are getting polluted - scientists are sure about it. Soon it will a big problem to secure clean water for all. When Jesus will be King of kings and Lord of lords the earth will be restored. He will see to it that the waters will become clean and pure and that the air pollution will be stopped. When the Great King will reign on earth, the planet will be restored in a state of paradise with beauty, cleanness and fertility; read Isaiah 11:6-10; 41: 18-20; 2 Peter 3:10, 13; Revelation 22:1-5.
What a beautiful future God has planned! But, alas, we are still living in the time, that human knowledge and ability are allowed to show what they can achieve. But an increasing number of scientists foresee great disasters coming if political preferences, technological developments and lifestyle do not change soon.
What should be the attitude of the christian in this present situation of the world?
1. He must understand that he cannot escape his responsibility in and for this present situation. His first responsibility is to fulfil the mission given by Christ: Be His witness, testify to the greatness and graciousness of His holy Name. And he should realize that this mission contains also the task to be a good steward of the environment, in which we live. After all, God created it for us and gave the earth in our care.
2. He will look forward to the day when the Lord will come and renew everything. This is the ultimate hope for the human race. As a preparation for this new era he should adapt his lifestyle as much as possible to the values of the Kingdom of God.
In the light of the present global political, religious and social developments and Gods future, I call on every Christian not only to think about his responsibility in this day and age, but also to fulfil his obligation to act accordingly in his daily living.
1 January 2004; revised 22 June 2005
T. J. de Ruiter, Pastor and Bibleteacher in The Netherlands