The Decade that Is Ending

THIS December is the last month, not only for another year, but for another decade as well. A decade is approximately one-seventh of an average human life today, so to us it seems like a long time. But with the great Creator it is a very short period of time. In a prayer, Moses said to the Creator, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hast formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God. Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return ye children of men. For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.”—Ps. 90:2-4

How wonderful are the illustrations used in the Bible! In human experience, a day or a night often seems like a very long time. To one who has to keep awake, such as a watchman or someone beset with pain or anxiety, the night can seem interminable; and to one who is burdened with fatiguing labor, it seems as though the end of the day will never come. But in all these situations, when the individuals involved look back on their experiences they seem very short indeed.

This is true of the decade of the 1980’s. At the beginning of this decade we who are interested in the prophecies of the Bible pertaining to the establishment of the long-promised kingdom, looked ahead with a wish that this might be fully realized during the ten years then to come. Now we know that it was not the case, but we do not despair, because as we look back upon these ten years which are ending it seems to be a short period of time, and we might easily wonder why we should have expected so much.

However, the evidences that the kingdom with its power and great glory is indeed much nearer, are clearly seen as we look back upon the events of the last ten years. As all Bible students know, two of the important signs that we are in the end of the age, and the time of our Lord’s second presence, which will lead to the establishment of his kingdom are given to us by Daniel in chapter 12:1,4. These signs are, first, a “time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation,” and, secondly, a foretold running “to and fro” and an “increase of knowledge.” We have had these signs with us dating back into the nineteenth century, but every year they become evident on an ever larger scale, and more and more convincing concerning the time of God’s plan in which we are living.

Actually, the phenomenal increase of knowledge throughout the years has been responsible in no small way for the development of the foretold “time of trouble,” or, as Jesus stated it, the “distress of nations with perplexity.” One of the results of the foretold increase of knowledge has been the rapid means of travel now being utilized by men. This, figuratively speaking, has reduced the size of the world, bringing men and nations closer together; and because of the continued reign of selfishness in the human heart, this increasing proximity of man to man has produced a sorry state of affairs both within nations and among nations.

The rate at which knowledge has increased during the last ten years is almost unbelievable. Now we are told that the sum total of knowledge acquired and utilized by mankind is doubling every year, and that there is more than five times as much knowledge in the world today as there was at the beginning of the decade. Textbooks dealing with the various categories of knowledge may become outdated overnight.

The 1980’s have been the decade of the microcomputer. While computers in use prior to the 1980’s were generally large and expensive, now they have been reduced to desktop size and are priced within the means of just about everyone. There is today scarcely a business organization, household, or individual who does not have access to the uncanny capabilities of the electronic computer. The computer is now working its near-miracles to an extent that the man on the street never dreamed of at the beginning of the decade.

Since the time when the railway train replaced the stagecoach, and the automobile ended the days of the horse and buggy, there has been continual progress in the field of travel, and this progress has been most pronounced in the last several decades. It was during these years that the jet plane, to a large extent, replaced the propeller-driven flying machine, increasing the speed of commercial air travel to over six hundred miles per hour. So quickly does the general public become accustomed to increasing speeds of travel that already it would seem a hardship to return to the old propeller-driven planes which could fly only(?) three hundred miles an hour.

The 1970’s and 1980’s saw space travel mature to the point that men reached and walked on the moon. It is difficult for the layman to understand just what advantage this is destined to bring to the human race, but all admit that it was a great accomplishment. Through the study of rocks brought back from the moon, scientists have concluded that the moon is much older than they had supposed it to be—probably four and one-half billion years, according to their estimates.

We have now reached the advent of the space shuttle, and the early development of space platforms. It is planned that before the end of another decade, space travel to the moon and possibly to other planets will utilize space platforms as launching sites for these ventures. Only recently an unmanned space probe vehicle was released from an orbiting shuttle, eventually to reach the Planet Jupiter, in about Six years.

Weather and television satellites were placed in orbit around the earth during the decade of the ‘80’s, and it is now possible to view, instantly, on television, occurrences of interest almost anywhere on earth. We see the horrors of war, disasters such as floods and earthquakes and revolutions, as well as many other happier events as they occur. We can travel around the world with the president of the United States, take a trip with a Congressional committee, or follow the journeys of the pope, if we wish, and be in on the action as it occurs.

All of this has come about in fulfillment of prophecy concerning the end of the age, and the time when the Lord would be preparing to establish his kingdom on the earth. A hundred years ago, the people of earth, even the wisest among them, would not have believed that such things could ever be possible. But it has been given to our generation to see them unfold! Yet only those who watch the “sure Word of prophecy”—the Bible—know the real meaning of what is taking place.

Certainly the prophetic ‘time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation’ has continued and increased throughout the 1980 decade. The threatening problems of the Middle East, of Africa, of Central America, and South America have continued unabated throughout the last ten years.

We could almost speak of the 1980’s as the decade of revolutions, for the outbursts of protest against repressive governments have become more and more prevalent, especially in the Eastern world. Much of the demand for reform has been associated with the failure of communism to provide’ for the needs of the people, resulting in rioting and unrest in wide areas of the world. Poverty, also, has been one of the principal causes for restlessness here in the United States, and while our Federal Government has declared war on poverty, and millions of dollars have been spent to implement this ‘war’, the results have been meager—not sufficient to prevent the people in poverty-stricken areas from continuing to be restive and threatening.

What with the rapidly expanding drug trafficking, and the increase of other crimes, one of the campaign issues in the election was ‘law and order’. Both candidates promised, if elected, to establish law and order, and thus make it safer to walk on our city streets. But it has been difficult to fulfill these promises. These troubles are continuing to get worse, rather than to have improved since the new president took over the reins of government.

It was during the 1980’s that certain very skilled surgeons could not only transplant life-saving organs, but were able to accomplish the unbelievable feat of performing microsurgery with the use of laser beams and angiogram equipment. As wonderful as this is, we know from the promises of God that it is not his way of giving everlasting human life to the people—rather, the Lord’s way is through the redemptive blood of Christ, and the resultant resurrection of the world of mankind, ultimately.

Terrible carnage, and its aftermath, still continues in the Middle East. Only time will tell what the next development will be. We know from the prophetic writings of the Bible that ultimately God will deliver Israel from her enemies, and—upon the acceptance of Jesus as their Redeemer and obedience to the laws of the messianic kingdom—they will be the first to receive the promised blessings of that kingdom. But so far as we know, the details of what will take place in the experiences of these ancient people of God between now and then, have not been fully revealed by the prophets. However, every eager student of the prophecies will continue to watch what takes place in the Middle East, and particularly in Israel.

This decade has brought certain television theologians into disrepute with the people, due to the revelation of many immoral and illegal activities. Much was made of this by the various news media of the world, and particularly by those of the United States. Of course, these men were showing that, despite their popularity on electronic pulpits, they were ignorant of their responsibilities as the religious leaders of the people. What they did not know and what they still do not know, is that they have no appreciation of the divine principles of righteousness set forth by the true God of the Bible. He is the ever-living, ever-loving God—the Creator of heaven and earth, the author of the laws of righteousness, and justice, and love. He is the one who, at great cost to himself, sent his beloved Son into the world to be the Redeemer of mankind from sin and death, and who, in his own due time, and upon the basis of the redemption provided through Christ, will restore the dying race to health and life.

In his time, the late Pope John indicated that “a breath of air” had entered the halls of church dogma. This gave those bishops, and cardinals, and priests who desired to do so, the courage to speak out against dogmatic claims concerning the infallible authority of the pope. As a result of this, the Roman Catholic Church has been in deep trouble ever since. Priests and nuns by the thousands have left their posts each year. Many of these have renounced the Catholic Church altogether, joining other churches; and some have even given up religion entirely. Others profess to remain Roman Catholics, but now hold their meetings—including their masses—in private homes, much after the custom of the Early Church. Then, many of the congregations of the Master’s followers held their meetings in the homes of the membership, including the congregation at Rome.

Meanwhile there has been a continued and increased lack of faith and interest in formalized religion. Previously a widespread fervor in church attendance had developed among the general public. Church membership temporarily increased. But that is gone now. Recent polls indicate that there is an increasing lack of interest in organized religion. General church attendance is down, except for an occasional congregation. This is so in America, and even more so in many countries overseas.

The rapid increase of population has become a matter of great concern. In the 1980’s the population of the United States passed the 300,000,000 mark, with the prediction that the population will be 100,000,000 more, by the beginning of the twenty first century. In other countries, the growth is increasing even more rapidly than in the United States.

This poses the question of where the food will come from to supply the needs of these increasing numbers of humans—and not only food, but clothing and housing as well. Many are concerned about the necessary water supply, as well as maintaining the integrity of our environment against the steady encroachments of harmful and deadly pollutants. These concerns enter into much of the discussion concerning birth control, and this in turn has raised one of the very disturbing controversies now confronting Catholicism.

When God created our first parents, he commanded them to multiply and fill the earth. (Gen. 1:26-28) The fact that world economists are now becoming concerned by the population explosion, fearing that all too soon the earth will be overcrowded if something is not done about it, would indicate that the commission to fill the earth will not long hence be accomplished. What God’s solution to this problem is, we can only conjecture. But we can be sure that it will be the best and the wisest solution for the everlasting good of all. One prophecy says that under God’s direction, “the earth will yield her increase.” (Ezek. 34:27) This strongly implies that in the kingdom the population of the earth will never exceed the resources of the earth to provide adequately for mankind’s needs.

Since the Lord has promised to restore the dead to life during the messianic kingdom period, the present population explosion would be one of the strong evidences of the nearness of that kingdom. For certainly the present population, plus those who have fallen asleep in death throughout the ages, is approaching the number required to properly fill the earth.

So, while world economists become increasingly concerned with rapidly expanding populations, we see this circumstance as another evidence that we are very near to the dawning of that glorious new day of promise when sin, sorrow and death will be destroyed. How wonderful it is then, to realize that God, in his love, made a marvelous and costly provision of redemption through Christ whereby all can and will be released from death, given an opportunity to believe, to obey, and to live forever!

How reassuring is the promise that “as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”—I Cor. 15:21,22

Dawn Bible Students Association
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