John Bradshaw - Earth's Rapid Decline
This is It Is Written. I'm John Bradshaw. Thanks for joining me. Have you ever seen "Where's Waldo"? One of those "Where's Waldo" pictures? You know the one, the guy with the funny hat, he's wearing a striped shirt, he's in a crowd, and he's hidden there somewhere in the picture, and your job is to find him. Now, the interesting thing about Waldo is that he's not actually hidden. That is, he's there. Once you find him, you realize he was hidden right out in the open. Hard to find in the midst of everything that's going on, but once you got him, you got him, and after that, you can't really miss him.
Today, well, we're not looking for Waldo, but we're looking for something that's hidden in plain view. It's hidden right out in the open. We're looking at a really important story, or theme, in the Bible. It appears before all the other Bible stories that we're familiar with today. We're continuing our series "The Prequel of the Bible". Dig into this and you gain really important insights.
When you study the prequel of the Bible, you find out what was behind Satan's rebellion. You see that in Revelation chapter 12, that there was war in heaven. But what kind of war? Well, really this was a political contest. It was a battle of ideas. It was a battle of philosophies. You see, Satan was charging that God was unfair. He attacked God, and in an attempt to gain followers for himself, he attacked the character of God. He said God was fundamentally unfair. He said that God was not loving. He said God was keeping back the best for Himself and depriving others of what was rightfully theirs.
We found that Satan offered a platform, an alternate way of running the universe, an alternate organizing principle, if you like. He rejected God's system, which was based on love and universal giving, where the objectives are lovingkindness and mutual benefit. Instead, what he proposed was something based on selfishness and opportunistic taking, where power and domination are the key, the objectives. He had a surprising amount of success. The Word of God says that he attracted one-third of the angels of heaven to follow him. Ultimately, though, they weren't successful.
Revelation chapter 12 says they were cast out of heaven. Here on the earth he continued his war against God and overcame Adam and Eve, bringing them under the curse of sin. At the same time, he took something from them: He took from them the dominion over the earth, which God had given them. This is why Jesus referred to Satan as the ruler of this earth in John 12 and verse 31. Once Satan usurped control of the world, he set about putting into place his system for operating the earth and all life on it. He twisted and perverted creation, obscuring the amazing earth that God had created. And he erased, to the extent he could, the character of God as seen in the original creation. He put in place a world that is at all levels organized around the principle of selfishness.
And so here we are, living on earth as Satan's system plays out. The thing is discerning people are able to see more and more clearly that the whole thing is a complete fiasco. That's because selfishness as a system collapses in on itself. Not only is it a horrible design; it's completely unsustainable. And since the world we live in is organized around selfishness, we can expect to see the earth, all of its natural systems and lifeforms, and every area of human endeavor participate in this collapse. Satan might as well have been building with sand because his system was doomed from the start. And...there it goes, the natural result of a flawed design.
Now, think about what's at stake. As Satan's design is doomed, then so, too, is everything else that's based on selfishness. That part of our lives that we spend fighting to get above other people or to exercise control over other people, ultimately, it's wasted. The extraordinary efforts we make to accumulate more and more resources, in the end, wasted. The efforts we make to glorify ourselves, in the final analysis, it's all for nothing. And yet there are billions who continue to be taken in by Satan's continuing campaign, billions who align themselves with Satan and spend massive amounts of energy competing within his organizing principle of selfishness. Jesus predicted the collapse of Satan's system, and He gave us a very detailed account of what will happen here on earth.
In fact, a detailed account of what's actually happening right now. But before we look at that prophecy in detail, let's stand back and look at the big picture, starting with creation itself. To understand how things are unraveling, let's look at how they were put together. Let's look together at what happened in Genesis chapter 1. In creating the earth, God was very intentional, very methodic. He first created two massive and interlinked systems: our atmosphere and our hydrosphere. With the atmosphere, He created the many layers of gases that extend out 60 miles or so into space and protect the earth.
Our atmosphere is amazingly complex and constantly in motion. With our hydrosphere, God created all the water on the surface of the earth: our oceans, lakes, rivers. These two systems, the atmosphere and hydrosphere, are sister systems, joined at the hip, and constantly engaged in exchanges, exchanges of heat, chemicals, and energy. These two systems really function together more as a whole than as separate systems. Next, God created dry land, our soil system, which is the basis for our food production the world over. And then He created plants to live in the soil. He then populated each of the systems He created, birds and fish for our atmosphere and hydrosphere and then land animals. He also created microorganisms to live in the soil and, well, just about everywhere else.
There are untold billions of microorganisms in just a handful of soil, and they're an irreplaceable part of healthy soil that grows food. Finally, God created people, and when He reviewed what He created and how the intermeshed systems functioned as one, incredibly complicated but elegantly balanced, He was well-pleased with His work. Genesis 1:31 says that God judged it to be "very good". In other words, it was perfect, and it worked exactly the way He designed, reflecting His character of love so deeply that lovingkindness was the organizing principle. The plants, the animals, the people, they all coexisted happily, and they gave to each other; they benefited each other with every interaction. It was a system based on giving, and no one gave more than God.
But if you look at the systems that God created, in perfect balance, you see that every single one of them is in significant and accelerating decline. And why is that? One simple reason: It's because Satan's system based on selfishness is a catastrophic failure. Take, for instance, the massive, majestic, and beautiful ocean system. Well, how bad is that? Every day it dies a little more, and it's not coming back. The loss of life webs, the general health of our oceans is staggering. We have the logs of sea captains from hundreds of years ago describing an ocean that's now foreign to us. They wrote of an ocean teeming with life. It was a resource thought to be inexhaustible.
But today the seas that once seemed endless are staggeringly polluted and increasingly depleted of fish. Massive fishing boats chase the remaining fish to the ends of the earth and to the utter depths of the sea. And now scientists say that it's not very many years from now the oceans will essentially be devoid of commercial fishing stocks, completely fished out. That's a huge problem because about one billion people get most of their food from the sea, and those people are even now being forced to compete for land-based food, and that's a terrible thing because our natural systems that support food production are also in accelerating decline. And you don't have to be any kind of radical environmentalist to see it. It's just the way it is. Isaiah wrote that the earth would "wax old like a garment". Isaiah 51:6. And today we're seeing the fulfillment of that. I'll have more in just a moment.
Thanks for joining me on It Is Written. I'm John Bradshaw. Like our oceans, our fresh water system around the world is crashing. Most major population centers around the world rely on aquifers for their water, and many of these aquifers, which basically are underground lakes that take centuries to fill up, are heading towards depletion. Even worse, a significant amount of global food production is irrigated with water from aquifers that are being depleted, such as the Ogallala aquifer in the United States. The Ogallala helps feed the world with the crops it irrigates, and it's just one of many major aquifers around the world that are depleting. Should these aquifers completely run dry, the impact on our global food production system will be profound.
And at the same time that our aquifers are depleting, our weather patterns are becoming not just less and less reliable but actually more hostile to people and crops. Our jet stream, part of our atmosphere, is slowing and destabilizing as a result of our crashing cryosphere, or in other words, because of massive ice loss in the Arctic. What that means is that weather systems are becoming more intense and moving more slowly, meaning they last longer. Now we get more pounding rain instead of nurturing rain. We get heat waves that are literally killers in some parts of the world, causing such extreme heat that plants and humans can't survive. And we get prolonged droughts and dangerous waves of polar air. Add it all together and the climate is becoming more hostile.
The industrial revolution, and our industrial agriculture system, in particular, has allowed the world to have a spectacular population boom. The population has exploded over the past 250 years. And the same industrial agriculture system that feeds the world requires massive amounts of water and a stable environment. So imagine if the aquifers were to run dry. How would we feed the almost 8 billion people on the planet? Global food prices would spike, and the 3 billion people or so who now live on less than $2.50 a day would not be able to afford food. Does it sound like a future nightmare? Actually, with all the pressure on agriculture, food prices are already under pressure.
Even if you have not noticed, they've spiked three times in the last 15 years, with dire results for half the population on earth. If you look at a 50-year chart of global food price movements, you'll see that prices fluctuated. But between 2007 and 2012, they pretty much exploded. Now take a look at this chart from the New England Complex Systems Institute in Boston. They took part of the food price spike from the chart we were just looking at and put on that chart all of the uprisings, riots, government overthrows, and significant conflicts in the period. What they found is that civil unrest exploded when food prices spiked. When food prices double or triple over a short period of time, those who can no longer survive sometimes resort to violence.
So with the destabilization of the natural world, you'd expect to see more and more food price spikes and more and more violence. Now, if you haven't noticed food price spikes, it's probably because you live in a developed country where food is highly processed. In your $4 box of corn flakes, for example, the raw corn and sugar in there costs only a few cents. So food prices triple, and all of a sudden you're paying $4.30 for your box of corn flakes, you'll hardly even notice. But if you're trying to live on $2.00 or $2.50 or less a day, and you're barely making it, and then the cost of your corn and your sugar triples, well, you've got no other option but to be hungry.
What we're seeing is a world where the systems that support life and human society are in accelerating decay. So what we can reasonably expect is mounting resource pressure, food shortages, water shortages, as well as increasingly hostile weather, killer heat waves, floods, extended droughts, and at the same time, we can expect to see wave after wave of conflict, with the fault lines most likely being between people groups who already don't like each other and between those who have resources and those who don't. And of course, with food shortages and conflicts always comes dramatically increased hunger and disease. Now, let's compare what's coming upon the world with what the Bible clearly says will happen in the final days of earth's history.
Romans 8, verse 22 says that all of creation is groaning because of sin, satan's rebellion, and will be liberated from its decay by God. Isaiah 51, verse 6 says, "The earth will grow old like a garment". The picture of earth in earth's last days is clear. What started out as whole and strong and perfect has become weak, torn, frayed, and full of holes. But for the most detailed look at what's coming on the earth, let's turn to the description that Jesus Himself gave His disciples. The account of what He said is included in Matthew chapter 24. The setting is really interesting. It's just before Jesus was captured, put on trial, and crucified.
So He's down to the last few hours with His disciples, and He knows it. He meets with them privately, and they ask Him a question. They say, "What will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age"? Jesus gives them an incredibly detailed answer. We're going to focus on three verses of that answer, Matthew chapter 24, verses 6, 7, and 8: "And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows". Back with more in just a moment.
Thanks for joining me today on It Is Written. The Bible verses we're looking at suggest to us that we are coming towards a time of real trouble for the earth. Matthew 24, verse 6 says, "You will hear of wars and rumors of wars". Now, given the context of the passage, it's telling us that in earth's last days we'll see actual open fighting, a lot of regrettable situations where there will be very real conflict. Next we read, "See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet".
Now, this is really important. Remember, in this war between Christ and Satan, not only is the character of God pitted against the character of Satan, but God's system of lovingkindness is pitted against Satan's system of selfishness. And typical of any politician, Satan will try and spin any event into an affirmation of his way and into a condemnation of God. The whole miserable campaign ends when Satan's system is in obvious failure, and he's run out of excuses and accusations. Until then, "These things must come to pass". We have to live through the decline and failure of Satan's system. For how else could it be proven to be false? How else could the charges against God's character also be proven false?
Now, this is an important concept, so let me say those words again: "See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet". Now, the next verse is verse 7. It starts out like this: "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom". So we're going to see dramatically more conflict. In regard to nation against nation, that means conflict between states, which are entities that have borders and a flag. When it says kingdom against kingdom, it refers to groups of affiliated people who don't have borders and a flag. So this could mean, say, Turks against the Kurds, Hutus against Tutsis, Arabs against Jews. And, of course, you can get tremendously complicated situations going where you have both kinds of conflicts at once. States against states and people groups against people groups.
The rest of verse 7 says, "And there [will] be famines, ...pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers [areas]". The famine part is clear enough. "Pestilences" refers to disease. That can mean dramatic incidence of diseases that we know or the resurgence of diseases that we thought we had beaten or the spread of diseases which are new to us. And, of course, we're clearly told we will see more and more earthquakes, which are something that appears to be happening right now in real time. The last verse we're looking at, verse 8, says, "All these are the beginning of sorrows". The word there used means "birth pains," which means that, like birth pains, it isn't just a one-off earthquake that means too much, but it's that these things are becoming more frequent and more intense the closer we get to the return of Jesus.
When we study the state of the earth as it is now and in the near future, and we compare that to what the Bible says will happen during the last days of the earth, there are some inescapable conclusions. First, the two descriptions are essentially the same. What the Bible calls the "last days of the earth" have already begun. We're living in the end times, and we conclude that Satan's system is an utter catastrophe. Which makes it all the more amazing that he's still running his campaign and still fooling massive amounts of people. The natural result of Satan's system is death, disease, suffering, injustice, and strife. But there's a way out of this nightmare Satan's rebellion has caused.
If we turn our backs on Satan, if we leave his rebellion, and if we accept the gift of salvation that Jesus has provided us, then we have a future ahead of us that's amazing. If ever there was a time to pause and open our hearts to Christ, it's now. And the thing is, He's just waiting to come in. Given where we are in history, given that we've actually entered "the last days," we should be asking some truly critical questions, such as, "What should I be doing"? and "How does Satan's system end"? and "What happens after that"? Now, we'll answer those questions next time we're together. The greatest question we could wrestle with is the question of where we stand with God. How are things between you and God? Have you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior Now, that's a question that we can answer now.