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When Apocalypse Inspires Action
Even secular scientists think we've reached a crisis point
Even secular scientists seem to think our society has reached a tipping point. They see the signs of the end times, whether they would describe the danger in those terms or not. They understand that we have reached a critical and unstoppable point so significant that very little can be done by anyone or anything to keep it from happening.
In other words, we’ve reached a crisis point in our civilization. Here’s a paragraph that caught my attention recently:
There is no point to sugar-coating our collective plight: It is absolutely dire. We really do face a higher probability of catastrophe today than ever before in our history…
Those are not the words of preachers or end-times teachers. Those are the words of scientists.
They come from the researchers behind the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, which publishes the so-called “Doomsday Clock.” I’ve written about them before, most recently in January of this year. (According to the Doomsday Clock, our world sits at 90 seconds to midnight, with “midnight” representing the end of humanity as we know it, at least on Earth.)
Galvanized into Action
The sentences above come from this article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. It’s actually about the need for people to talk more frequently about the “probability of catastrophe” on our world today. From the perspective of the author, Emile P. Torres, “prophets of doom” need to get attention so they can enact change—whether they are talking about issues like nuclear war, global warming or a rise in shooting deaths.
Here are some thought-provoking points made in the article, which lists the times prominent figures warned the world was about to end—not from a Christian or Bible prophecy perspective, but from a secular perspective:
In 1950, Albert Einstein predicted that “only the creation of a world government can prevent the impending self-destruction of mankind.”
In 1961, the novelist and chemist C.P. Snow wrote that “within, at most, 10 years, some of those [nuclear] bombs are going off. I am saying this as responsibly as I can. That is the certainty.”
In 1976, the MIT computer scientist Joseph Weizenbaum told his students, “I am completely certain … that by the year 2000, you will all be dead.”
In 1979, the international relations expert Hans Morgenthau said, “the world is moving ineluctably towards a third world war—a strategic nuclear war. I do not believe that anything can be done to prevent it.”
Of course, those things didn’t happen. The article concludes, “these warnings may very well have galvanized people into action.” By emphasizing the worst-case scenarios, those kinds of statements “led to actions that saved humanity.”
This seems correct. We haven’t yet experienced a nuclear holocaust thanks to a number of responsible decisions related to nuclear proliferation in the 1980s, though of course it remains a significant risk.
Sometimes fear can paralyze people into indecision. But sometimes it can motivate them into cooperation for the good of humanity. Fear inspires action.
In that way, the researchers are saying, we should be thankful for those individuals who keep predicting the end of the world due to global warming or artificial intelligence or nuclear war.
The Wrath of the Lamb
But how does this relate to Bible prophecy? Obviously, there are some differences. Prophets from Daniel and Joel to Paul and Jesus have been warning about the coming Day of the Lord for more than 2,000 years. The Book of Revelation is full of “worst-case scenarios” and terrifying events.
These are not events that will be stopped, however. We can’t change our ways, enact new policies or develop new technologies that help us escape, for instance, the Seven Seals or Seven Trumpets.
Those events will bring all kinds of trauma onto the earth. Here’s how John describes the outcome of the Sixth Seal:
And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, 16 and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”—Revelation 6:15-17
It’s so bad that the most powerful people on earth want to be crushed by rocks rather than face the wrath of the Lamb.
The world’s warnings about apocalypse may help us find ways to avoid it. But there’s no avoiding the events of Scripture. God has known about them from the beginning. There’s nothing we can do to change them.
The Gift of Bible Prophecy
And while the warnings from secular researchers may be intended to scare us into action, the warnings of the Bible are given to comfort us rather than frighten us. The Bible speaks of horrific judgments, but we will not be here when those things happen because Jesus is returning to take us to be with Him forever.
I don’t preach about the end times to scare people. I preach about it so you can be calm and comforted. Did you know 30 percent of the Bible is prophetic in nature? In inspiring the words of Scripture, why would God devote so much of the message to the final generation?
It’s probably because there are more people alive on earth at this time than have ever lived in the history of the world—and we have very serious times headed our way. That’s why I’m thankful for the gift of Bible prophecy. God has given it to us to instruct us and to bring us closer to Him.
Look at passages like what Paul wrote about the Rapture in 1 Thessalonians. It talks about the end times, but its overall message is one of hope:
Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.—1 Thessalonians 4:17-18
What are the words of comfort? It’s the promise that “we shall always be with the Lord.”
The future of our planet may be a future of fire, cataclysm and violence. Experts are speculating about the dangers of scenarios like another (and worse) pandemic, an asteroid impact, a powerful solar flare or coronal mass ejection, an out-of-control superintelligent AI, or some other terrible outcome. Maybe those are in our future or maybe we can get scared enough to avoid those terrible outcomes by developing protective technology or by making certain decisions.
But our true future, as followers of Jesus, isn’t one of fear. It is of the joy of being in God’s presence.
That, to me, is an incredibly hopeful message. “In Your presence is fullness of joy,” the psalmist wrote. I am praying for that future, and I don’t want to do anything to change it. Some a prophets of doom. I want to be a preacher of hope.
One more thing: The warnings of Scripture should also inspire us to action. Not to invent protective technologies or scale back nuclear weapons, but to tell others about Jesus. You might not be able to save millions from an asteroid impact, but you can point friends, family and colleagues to the salvation provided by Jesus. You can tell them how to be saved from an eternity apart from God.
Sharing Jesus with someone else is the most significant action you’ll ever take. Cataclysm is headed our way in one form or another. Let’s take advantage of the time we have left!