Signs of the Times.
Recent earthquakes have aroused interest in the possibility that these are a ‘sign of the times’, apart from Christ’s words in telling us his advent would be accompanied with earthquakes in divers places. (Matt24:7 and Luke 21:11). There are other passages which associate earthquakes with the return of Christ: Isa.2:19-22; Ez.38:20; Joel 3:16;Hag 2:6,7; Zech.14:3-4. There are a considerable number of earthquakes every day, mostly minor ones, which do not cause a lot of damage and the total number of all types seem to indicate increased world-wide earthquake activity “in divers places”.
Year No of Earthquakes
1990 16590 1995 21007 2000 22256
1991 16485 1996 19938 2001 23534
1992 19524 1997 19872 2002 27454
1993 21476 1998 21688 2003 31419
1994 19371 1999 22662 2004 28778
In addition to the increased frequency there are dire warnings of the imminent possibility of a number of major earthquakes. USA Earthquake Hazards Report 9.12.04 :“Deep tremors under San Andreas fault (California) could portend earthquakes”. Israeli scientists have warned that a major earthquake in Israel is only a matter of time. Scientists Warn Of Massive Tidal Wave From Canary Island Volcano,says Science Editor, The Independent – London; “A wave
higher than Nelson's Column and travelling faster than a jet aircraft will devastate the eastern seaboard of America and inundate much of southern Britain, say scientists who have analysed the effects of a future volcanic eruption in the Canary Islands. A massive slab of rock twice the volume of the Isle of Man would break away from the island of La Palma and smash into the Atlantic Ocean to cause a tsunami - a monster wave - bigger than any recorded, the scientists warned”: In the Mail on Sunday (London) Jan. 2 2005 Prof Bill McGuire reckoned that the La Palma tsunamis could be more than 300ft high.
5,000,000+ Children to die in 2005?
The UNO Food and Agriculture Organisation reports (2004)that more than five million children die each year as the result of hunger-related causes and under-nutrition. In many of the Africa countries, such as Angola, Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, over a third of the children are under-nurished. For the greater part, developed countries do little to solve this problem. Certainly the big Indian earthquake has mobilised tremendous international help to those in need which is fantastic as for in so many cases of dire need, the Western nations have not helped a great deal. – Think of the massacre of the Hutses and Tutses where three million+ of them were slaughtered and the West did nothing to materially stop that or help the survivors, it affected many Brethren and Sisters and quite a number of them are still in difficult circumstances in refugee camps etc and need help. Likewise there is great need amongst brethren and sisters in many parts of the world which we are capable of helping more than we do. On the other hand these things are all signs of the times, heralding the coming of the Master who alone will put the world right, which is beyond man’s capabilities. However, in the meantime James, words have a biting significance to those of us in the materialistic world, “If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone”.
BRITAIN’S CRIME WAVE
“Britain now has a worse crime record than France, Germany and the United States…people in England and Wales are now 30 times more likely to be robbed of their personal property and five times more likeely to be burgled than they were 40 years ago…Offences now at 5.9m a year, seven times the figure of 40 years ago.” The Mail on Sunday (London), 2.1.2005.
The UN AIDS programe reported at the Dec 04 World Aids Day that there are now 39.4m people infected with HIV and in the past year 3.1m people have died of AIDS. There has been a substantial increase in the number of women infected, the report adds “ women need more education, better economic opportunities and more effective ways to tackle the violence and discrimination that often leave them vulnerable to HIV infection”.
WITHOUT NATURAL AFFECTION ( 2 Tim 3:3)
Gk. ‘without natural affection for kinsmen’. There is a terrible breakdown of love by children for their parents and, alas, at times, parents for their children.
The UNICEF 2005 report makes one weep at the inhumanity being shown to children. The report offers an analysis of seven basic "deprivations" that children feel and that powerfully influence their futures. UNICEF concludes that more than half the children in the developing world are severely deprived of one or more of the necessities essential to childhood:
- 640 million children do not have adequate shelter
- 500 million children have no access to sanitation
- 400 million children do not have access to safe water
- 300 million children lack access to information
- 270 million children have no access to health care services
- 140 million children have never been to school
- 90 million children are severely food-deprived
The report continues, hundreds of thousands of children in conflict situations around the world are still:
- recruited or abducted as soldiers
- forced to witness violence and killing
- targets of sexual violence
Add to this the December 2004 report of the ‘International Rescue Committee’ on Congo, that in one year 250,000 children were kiiled, and in the six year conflict 3.8 Million people were killed, that’s the equivalent of the entire population of Ireland or Los Angeles. Then think of the traumatised children in Darfur, Western Sudan, who have seen their fathers killed and mums raped before their little eyes. Amongst the atrociies at Darfur were children being burnt alive (BBC News 28.9.04). It is incomprehensible to grasp the scale or degree of brutality children are suffering by such inhumanity - “without natural affection”. Whilst one admires and thanks God for the faith and guts of the Christadelphian Missionaries who have not only taken the Gospel to such places and established the Truth in them, but shared in their hardships, I feel most of us have failed to comprehend the enormity of the problems some of our Brethren and Sisters face in these desperate areas. Many look after orphaned children and live in poverty and only survive by gifts from the world’s famine relief agencies. The deprivations mentioned in the UNICEF report apply to many children of Brethren and Sisters and they love their children but are powerless to satisfactorily provide for them. Of course it is only right for those in the developed world to care for their children and show their love at times by a little pampering to them. However, we also have a responsibility to care for those not so blessed and should not shut our eyes to their needs. I am certain that the compassionate Jesus would have us to help them more. He not only said “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me” but we read “He took a child, and set him in the midst of them, and when he had taken him into his arms, he said unto them. Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me” (Matt 19:14; Mark 9:37).