The Earth Is Dying
Since Jesus walked this earth and conducted His ministry, those who have followed Him and taken His name – Christians – have had His words to guide them in regard to the events that will happen before He returns. Probably the most significant signs were outlined in detail by Jesus in Matthew 24. So, we’ve had this information for some time. But now there is something new: the real-time fulfillment of Christ’s end-time prophecies right before our eyes. Ours is the first generation to be able to chart and graph the fulfilment of Christ’s prophecies. Stop and think about that for a minute: we are seeing the things happen that Jesus said would occur just before He returned. That is such striking statement that it needs to be fleshed out and explained a little, so lets do that.
In Matthew 24, Jesus talked about troubles that were coming, and he was fairly specific. In verses 6-8 he said there would be conflict (nation on nation, people-group on people-group) and there would be hunger, disease, and earthquakes. For as long as there has been sin in the world we have seen some of these things, so we can Jesus to mean that we would be seeing unprecedented amounts of each of these simultaneously. With that in mind, let’s pivot to Romans 6:23, where we find that the consequence of sin is death. This curse of death extends not just to man and animals, but to the earth itself, including the mighty natural systems that God put in place during creation to sustain life on the earth. These systems include our atmosphere, our oceans, our fresh water system, our climate and our soil systems. Each of these systems is distinct and each of these systems is intermeshed with the other systems, so if we see one in steep decline we can know they are all in steep decline. So, if the earth itself is under the curse of death, then part of the end-time scenario that we can expect to see is our massive and complex earth systems in steep and accelerating decline. This expectation is supported by Isaiah 51:6, where we are told that “the earth will grow old like a garment” – a shadow of its original self, threadbare, with holes where parts of systems used to be. The fact that all of this stems from the curse of sin we re-affirm by going back to Romans. In Romans 8:21 & 22 we read: ” …creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until the present time.”
Our sin – our rebellion, where creation is separated from Creator – results in suffering, decay and death. So, adding all of our Bible study together, we can expect to see an earth in accelerating decay as we get closer and closer to Christ’s coming, and we can expect the impacts on humans to spur conflict, hunger, and disease. We can also expect all of this to be accompanied by a sharp increase in earthquakes. Now, lets take a look at what is happening to the earth and its impact on the society of man, and compare that with our expectations.
We could pick any of the earth systems to examine, since they are all intertwined, but let’s look at one of the juxtaposition points between the atmosphere and our oceans – let’s look at the arctic. It is the arctic system (half of earth’s cryosphere, or frozen region) that plays a critical role in the strength, duration, and direction of storms in the northern hemisphere. The jet stream is part of our atmospheric system, and it steers our weather patterns all over the hemisphere. We are supposed to have a good, strong, jet stream that keeps things moving briskly. The reason the jet stream moves because it is driven by the temperature difference between the arctic and the equator. The heat differential makes for an engine of sorts and keeps the Jet stream moving. But for the past two decades we have been witness a rapid decay of the arctic ice pack, and in the last five years in particular we have witnessed a collapse. Because of his we have seen an amazing break down of the jet stream, and because of that we have seen our weather get crazier and crazier, with extensive droughts (including the west and southeast of the US right now) as well as stronger and stronger storms that give us crazy amounts of rainfall (see record flooding incidents in the southeast and eastern US over the last two years). Below is a graph tracking this year’s ice extent (area covered) during this year red line, with the average for the years 1981 to the present represented by the solid black line and the previous record year (2012) represented by the dashed line. As you can see, we are way, way, off of average. In fact, we are three standard deviations from average.
Note that the red line (this year) crosses over the dotted line (the record year) and then flattens out. This is absolutely astonishing. During the latter part of October, Arctic sea ice area barely grew, while artic sea ice volume (area plus depth) actually declined. This is bending the minds of the academic specialists who study these things. Between the fact that sea ice area is so small, and sea ice is so thin, scientists are now saying that the nearest chance for a “blue water event” is the latter half of next year. “Blue water event” mean that most of the ice in the arctic would melt during the northern hemisphere summer, leaving open ocean. Such an event is completely unprecedented.
So why is the ice going away? Well, it is because the arctic has been so hot for so long. Yes, I used “arctic” and “hot” in the same sentence. The arctic region has been heating up massively over the last decade, and right now (as in “today”), some parts of it are as much as 30 degrees warmer than usual. 30 degrees. Check out this temperature anomaly graph from today’s Climate Reanalyzer.
Note that the temperature anomaly for the entire arctic area is just a shade under 6C higher than normal – that is almost 11F degrees!
Why is the arctic getting so hot? Its complicated and it will take way longer to go into all the reasons than I had planned to spend on this post. But part of the reason is because Hadley Cells are shifting north, which is again related to the breakdown of our atmospheric system. What is a Hadley Cell? It is a convection engine where air rises at lower latitudes (closer to the equator) and sinks and higher latitudes. In essence, it is an engine that moves heat from the equator and toward the poles. As these cells elongate and extend their reach, they are sending more and more heat into the arctic region. This tends to only reinforce the whole cycle of heating and ice loss and jet stream weakening, etc.
All this is technical stuff. What does that have to do with prophecy, right? Well, plenty. the net effect of the accelerating decay of our earth’s natural systems is that we are seeing large populations experience drought and storms, both of which bring record levels of disease. Along with disease, these things also impact our food production, so we are seeing global food price spikes (two truly significant spikes in the last 8 years alone). When we see food price spikes, people rise up and weak governments buckle and may collapse. The entire “Arab Spring” uprising was due to food price spikes. Along with uprisings we see war (Syria) and raging conflict on scales both large and small.
So, mark this: we are seeing the death of the earth, and we are seeing the symptoms accelerate. We are also seeing the beginnings of wide-spread impacts across societies, and those impacts are hunger, disease, and conflict (we are seeing increased earthquakes as well, but we’ll save that topic for a separate post). We are seeing the concrete, accelerating, unmistakable signs that sin’s effects on earth are headed to a crescendo. From this we know that Christ’s return is very, very close. We know this because the Bible says that the last days will be cut short and Christ will come, because if they ran their course and the world did truly spin completely out of control “no flesh would survive”.
Jesus is coming soon – very, very soon. The earth itself is dying, and with it everything that man strives for. Get your head around those two facts, then place and keep your eyes on Jesus and let your actions reflect that there is little time left in which to witness for Him.