The Trumpet Herald
Giving the trumpet a certain sound
Planet in Peril
The Associated Press recently reported on the "Earth Summit" of world leaders who were set to meet in Johannesburg from Aug. 26 to Sept. 4. A new United Nations report paints a grim picture facing the leaders:
"According to its findings, forests are being destroyed, drought is becoming more intense, sea levels are rising, agricultural production can’t keep up with the demand for food, many plant and animal species are at risk of extinction, and air and water pollution are killing millions of people" ("U.N. Report Says Planet in Peril," The Wire, Aug. 13, 2002).
"‘The real threat that we face now is the insidious global spread of poverty and environmental stress — and that is the real security threat that we need to address,’ said U.N. Undersecretary-General Nitin Desai" Ibid.).
The economic, social and environmental issues seem already insurmountable and they appear to be growing. The stresses cannot but have negative effects in the international and interpersonal relations of mankind. Jesus spoke of the trend of human events in Matthew chapter 24:
"For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake" (Matt. 24:7-9).
We continue to see plenty of "nation rising against nation," and we are also now seeing some persecution of Christians. We can expect to see a lot more of the latter as the time draws near for Jesus to come.
Man in God’s Place
Pope John Paul II spoke to 2 million people in Krakow Poland in what The Washington Post described as bidding farewell. Regarding "human genetic engineering, euthanasia, and abortion," the Pope is quoted as saying:
"‘Frequently man lives as if God does not exist, and even puts himself in God’s place,’ he said. ‘He claims for himself the Creator’s right to interfere in the mystery of human life . . . to determine human life through genetic manipulation and to establish the limit of death.’"
Protestants will note with interest the condemnation of man (even a man) putting himself in God’s place. They would probably agree and extend the offence to include the theological views promoted by and regarding the Roman Catholic priesthood, and especially the Pope.
An ancient prophecy of Daniel and a corresponding one from Revelation come to mind:
"And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings. And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time" (Dan. 7:24, 25).
"And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations" (Rev. 13:4-7).
Race Against Disease
A new infectious agent was identified recently in a U.S. hospital, according to a report in The Guardian, a British newspaper and online. The "superbug" is a variety of staphylococcus aureus bacteria that is totally resistant to one of the more powerful antibiotics, vancomycin. Vancomycin has been regarded as "the last established line of defence," although a combination of older antibiotics stabilized the patient in this case. Staphylococcus has successfully gained immunity to a series of antibiotics.
"But doctors are alarmed at the possibility that vancomycin may be destined to fail, just as penicillin and methicillin have done. Dr Livermore said: ‘This finding highlights the importance of using all antibiotics carefully to minimise the development of antibiotic resistance, as well as the need for good infection control programmes in hospitals and research into the development of new drugs’" ("New superbug found in US Hospital," The Guardian, 7/23/02).
And while "superbugs" are being discovered, in some places human social and political conditions hamper the fight against even the well-known diseases:
"‘We are losing 6 million people every year to AIDS, TB and malaria alone, 14 million to communicable disease. This is not progress,’ said Rachel Cohen, spokeswoman with Medecins Sans Frontieres, the medical aid group known in English as Doctors Without Borders.
"‘You really have to think twice about whether this health revolution that is being talked about in the West is any way benefiting the people that need it the most,’ she said" ("Groups Angry With Preventable Deaths," Associated Press (online), Aug. 21, 2002).
While the Christian is to make God his fortress, there are many developments that give both cause for concern, and hope for the salvation to be realized when Jesus returns. Since the days of the apostles, scoffers have ridiculed the thought of the second coming of Christ:
"Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation" (2 Pet. 3:3, 4).
Are things really "continuing as they were," and should scoffing be the order of our day?
The "Asian Brown Cloud"
CNN.com and the Associated Press reported recently that "a 2-mile thick blanket of pollution over South Asia, may be causing the premature deaths of a half-million people in India each year" ("Study: Asian Pollution May Be Fatal," The Wire – News from AP, Aug. 11, 2002). The study by 200 scientist contributors was overseen by the U.N. Environmental Program. The preliminary results also implicated the "brown cloud" in flooding in Bangladesh, Nepal and northeastern India, and drought in Pakistan and northwestern India. The report indicated that the pollution could travel half-way around the globe in a week.
The cloud reportedly contains aerosols, ash, soot, and other particles from biomass burning (forest fires, vegetation clearing, fossil fuel, and dung) as well as dirty industries. The cloud reduces the sunshine reaching the ground by 10 to 15 percent and may be cutting India’s winter rice crop by as much as 10%.
"Veerabhadran Ramanathan of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif., one of the report’s authors, said the extent of the sunlight loss was ‘a major surprise. … We’ve been looking at environmental issues for the last several decades, yet the Asian haze came as a major surprise to us. We don’t know how many more surprises we will find’" (Ibid.).
While not wishing to discourage appropriate environmental efforts at responding to the problem of the "Asian Brown Cloud" we also notice that supernatural powers are also involved in giving the air "a deadly taint."
"While appearing to the children of men as a great physician who can heal all their maladies, he will bring disease and disaster, until populous cities are reduced to ruin and desolation. Even now he is at work. In accidents and calamities by sea and by land, in great conflagrations, in fierce tornadoes and terrific hailstorms, in tempests, floods, cyclones, tidal waves, and earthquakes, in every place and in a thousand forms, Satan is exercising his power. He sweeps away the ripening harvest, and famine and distress follow. He imparts to the air a deadly taint, and thousands perish by the pestilence. These visitations are to become more and more frequent and disastrous. Destruction will be upon both man and beast. ‘The earth mourneth and fadeth away,’ ‘the haughty people . . . do languish. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.’ Isaiah 24:4, 5" (The Great Controversy, p. 589, 590).
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