Current Events & Trends: May/June 2020

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May/June 2020

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MP3 Audio (12.71 MB)


Current Events & Trends: May/June 2020

MP3 Audio (12.71 MB)

Practical steps you can take to endure worrisome times

A great many people have been dealing with isolation, stress, uncertainty and fears amid the pandemic, widespread shutdowns and expectations of a severe financial downturn with millions out of work. To help people cope, the CBS News program Face the Nation interviewed Dr. Luana Marques, president of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, on Sunday, April 5. Dr. Marques, who also teaches at Harvard and practices at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, gave some good advice.

She said: “I think before we even talk about the magnitude, it is important for us to first remind our country that it is okay not to be okay right now. It’s important to remind our country that it’s okay to have strong emotions. And this is why, as we turn on the news every morning and we’re hearing stories of death, of loss of economy, of grief and sadness, we quickly start to feel our heart pounding and we feel the sense of tension, anxiety, and fear. And that is our normal fight or flight response . . . And that’s okay . . . up to a point; eventually it does become too much.”

She then offered three practical ways for those sitting at home and starting to feel overwhelmed to “cool off our brain.”

“The first one,” she explained, “is to remember to unplug and to anchor. And what I mean here is give your brain a break from the news a little bit, allow your brain to settle. And I know it’s hard to do it right now. So by unplugging, you’re bringing down that fight or flight. And then what I encourage you to do is to anchor on something that closes your brain off: walking, meditation, calling a friend.”

“The second thing I urge all of us to do,” she continued, “and this is not optional, is to charge up, is to be able to eat, sleep and exercise. Those three things are things that we know help our mental health, but also help your immune system. So figure out what you’re going to do, how are you going to do it and why you’re going to do it. And anchor in something that gets you going. For me, I’ve been walking and exercising because it’s important for me to stay healthy for my family and for my patients.

“And finally, I urge us to be of service. We know that helping others not only makes them feel better, but also ourselves. So let’s call an elderly neighbor. If you can afford, send food to those that actually need it or,” she suggested, using your skills and talents to help others as you’re able.

All these helpful principles are actually found in the Bible in various forms. Yet there is something else we should do above all that is also found there. When discussing concerns of living day to day and worries over how we’ll manage and get by, Jesus Christ said: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:33-34, emphasis added). So we must focus on our ultimate future with God and living His way, taking life one day at a time. And He will see us through. (Source: CBS News.)



Assessing the prophetic measure of this global pandemic

A week into April a headline declared “CDC Director: Coronavirus Death Toll Will Be ‘Much, Much, Much Lower’ Than Projected” (Joshua Caplan, Breitbart News, April 7, 2020). This lowered projection of deaths in the United States, the article explains, is said to be due to people following social distancing recommendations. The same could be said about other countries.

Yet many argue that the modeling of the impact of viral spread was flawed from the start by overestimating the fatality of the contagion. That seems to be the case. (There is even some question about the accuracy of death tolls since people who die while infected with COVID-19 may be counted as COVID-19 deaths even if that was not a contributing factor.) Of course, there may yet be worse impact in the world’s poorer nations—or perhaps not. Time will tell. You may be seeing this a few weeks after we’re publishing it, so projections may have significantly changed—and they’ll likely change further.

There is a tendency when circumstances don’t “live up to the hype” to play down the seriousness and significance of what are still major events—particularly their role in end-time Bible prophecy. But such a reaction is missing the larger picture.

Jesus Christ said there would be a marked increase in pestilences or disease epidemics and other fear-inducing disasters as the time of His return draws nearer (Matthew 24:3-8; Luke 21:7-11). If the current virus ends up killing far fewer than other epidemics have throughout history, and fewer than more everyday causes of death throughout the world, some would think it hardly qualifies to be classed among what Jesus meant.

But Jesus did not specify a death toll here. Revelation 6:1-8 does say a fourth of the earth would be killed over time by a combination of problems that would include disease, but that’s a grand total, not what each plague would do. In any case, Jesus foretold not only pestilences, but fearful reaction to such calamities. The actual death toll of each particular incident is only an aspect of this.

No one can argue that this pandemic has not been significant. It is one of the biggest world events of modern times—not because of the death toll but because of its global impact. It has shut down much of the planet. It has caused economic upheaval that could lead to more people suffering and dying over time. It has led to societal changes and realignments that will no doubt further advance conditions leading to what is ultimately prophesied for the world scene in the end time. And the more of these things that occur, the more cumulative the effect will be.

If the current crisis is effectively dealt with and society manages to largely recover in coming months, with people settling back into normal routines, that could actually lead to the biggest danger—complacency and more “scoffers in the last days” who dismiss such events as having nothing to do with what the Bible says is coming (2 Peter 3:3-4).

We’ll see more people failing to draw proper lessons and take appropriate warning. Some who come to see what’s happened as an overreaction may resist containment measures that are truly needed when a more virulent epidemic comes along. And worse, some will be become more stubborn and resistant when it comes to turning to God. Let’s all keep our eyes and hearts open. (Source: Breitbart News.)



Are we seeing a dress rehearsal for the prophetic Beast?

In late March former British prime minister Gordon Brown “urged world leaders to create a temporary form of global government to tackle the twin medical and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” saying there was need of “a taskforce involving world leaders, health experts and the heads of the international organisations that would have executive powers to coordinate the response” (Larry Elliott, The Guardian, March 26, 2020).

This won’t fly, of course—at least not in the near term. But with worsening events coming in the future this no longer sounds so far-fetched.

Scripture describes a final revival of the Roman Empire that is yet to emerge in Europe and dominate the world. This political power and its ruler are both referred to in Bible prophecy as “the Beast.” In this final revival 10 national or regional leaders will receive authority that they will cede to a higher central authority:

“. . . Ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast. These are of one mind, and they will give their power and authority to the beast” (Revelation 17:12-13). The “one hour” indicates a short time. It’s often been understood that this is speaking of the short time frame before these are all brought down when they actively fight against Jesus Christ at His return, as described in the next verse. Yet perhaps it is implying that the final union is actually intended to be a temporary measure during a time of crisis that then takes on more power.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted inadequacies of the European Union—even causing individual countries to want to close their own borders. Allison Fedirka at Geopolitical Futures points out:

“Europe has always struggled to define what the European Union really means, particularly after the 2008 financial crisis. It was a harsh reminder that all its members have different political and economic needs, and every move it has made since then—financial compromises, Brexit, immigration reform—has only widened the differences, even as it has stoked nationalist sentiment. This bodes poorly for the EU’s ability to confront its latest crisis: a two-front war against a virus and the economic and social unrest it threatens to unleash” (“The EU Wasn’t Built for This,” March 20, 2020).

The attempt to act together despite disharmony actually fits with the prophetic description of the final union: “This will be a divided kingdom . . . The people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay” (Daniel 2:41-43, New International Version). Thus it seems reasonable that it would take extraordinary measures during extraordinary circumstances to keep this power bloc together for a time.

During a time of global crisis the world is ripe for change. Western nations may bear up under the strain, but the toll for the future could be severe. New alignments between national powers are likely to emerge. And power structures within nations are being reshaped.

A headline in The Washington Post tells us, “Dictators are using the coronavirus to strengthen their grip on power” (Joshua Kurlantzick, April 3, 2020). The author goes on to note: “Authoritarians often take advantage of emergencies—wars, terrorist attacks, high-profile arsons [such as those manipulated by Adolf Hitler and the Roman Emperor Nero], natural disasters—to consolidate power. These catastrophes spark fear, bolster the public desire for a strong governing hand and lead people to rally around their leaders.”

This certainly fits the profile of the tyrannical power that is yet to arise in Europe. The Bible says that this system will force everyone to receive some kind of mark of allegiance in the right hand or forehead (symbolic of actions and thoughts), which will be required to buy and sell. While the mark may not be literal, there must be some kind of surveillance and policing of society to enforce what’s being described here.

Could this really happen? Even in freer countries this pandemic has brought unheard-of restrictions. Phone data is being used to track people to make sure they are staying home and not getting too close to each other. Device data can also reveal what people are buying and selling—whether essential items only. Churches have been shut down.

The mayor of Los Angeles actually encouraged people to report on neighbors in violation of stay-at-home orders by saying: “You know the old expression about snitches? Well, in this case snitches get rewards.” Violating businesses were threatened with having their power and water turned off—truly disturbing! This is not to say that some period of pause and assessment was not reasonable. It is just to illustrate that such a crisis can bring rapid change that takes away liberty.

A stained-glass image on what is known as the Fabian Window, commemorating the elitist socialist Fabian Society, depicts the world on an anvil being heated and hammered into a new shape, with a caption at the top directing that it be remolded “nearer to the heart’s desire.” While the current pandemic is not the result of a globalist conspiracy, some have definitely used it to expand government and their own power. And some would like to manipulate the economic upheaval for this purpose.

We can be sure that there are people with nefarious agendas who are looking at this situation and realizing more than ever how to manufacture crises to bring about whatever changes they need to reshape the world. Of course, there will be plenty more actual crises for them to use anyway as the end approaches. Yet we know they will not prevail in the end. (Sources: The Guardian, Geopolitical Futures, The Washington Post.)