One of the most controversial topics being discussed in the news, social media and halls of government these days concerns “climate change.” A good number of scientists who claim to have honestly and objectively looked at the challenge of “climate change” declare that this recent and ever-worsening global phenomenon is real! They are sounding an alarm and warning that unless humankind pulls together to remedy the situation, we and our environment will have had it!
On the other side of the fence are politicians, businessmen and even some religious figures who flatly deny that there is such a thing as “climate change.” Some of them may admit that, yes, there is that challenge, but the “solution” offered by “environmentalists” would cause businesses to go bankrupt and many people to lose their jobs, thereby exacerbating the already runaway problem of poverty worldwide.
What does the Bible say about what’s going awry with our world, and what the future holds for mankind and all of the created order?
My “two cents’ worth”
I am by no means an expert on the environment. I have some little background in the biological and physical sciences, which I took up in college. From what I have learned and from what I have observed in my tiny corner of the globe, though, here’s what I can say.
When I took up a course in ornithology, I learned one thing that has stuck forever in my mind. No, it was not about memorizing the common and scientific names of birds in our “bio-diverse” Philippines and elsewhere. Rather, it was about the migratory pattern of shrikes, locally called “tarát” (Tagalog) or “tibalás” (Cebuano).
My ornithology professor told us that every year the shrikes would migrate from Siberia to the Philippines about the first week of September, and then would return to Siberia about the first week of April the next year. The birds would come here to escape the harsh winter of Siberia as September approaches and would return to Siberia as spring there warms up to a suitable range of temperature in April.
In the over five decades that I have watched for the grating “kik-kik-kik-kik-kik” chatter of these visiting shrikes come early September and then their sudden silence in early April, I have never been disappointed. Everything has gone like clockwork.
But not this year 2017 — for the first time ever, in my experience!
I was in my native Malaybalay City, in Mindanao, till the second week of September. I wondered then why I hadn’t heard the familiar yearly chatter of shrikes in our neighborhood. When my wife and I visited our house in Angono, Rizal (in Luzon) that same week, I daily watched for the “overdue” avian sounds in our neighborhood. It was not until the third week of October that I began to hear them! Over a month late!
Something had obviously gone amiss!
Not just with the birds
When my wife and I returned to Malaybalay in November, I noticed another thing that has gone amiss. Yes, the shrikes are here too, and they are chattering all over our yard. But something unusual also has happened to our fruiting rambutan tree!
Last year, between September and November, our rambutan tree yielded a bumper harvest of over 50 kilos of luscious fruit. But surprisingly, at the same time this year, our tree has not even come out with flowers! I at first suspected that the reason for this may have been that I had pruned the tree’s branches sometime last March. Perhaps, I thought, I may have cut off the branches that would have given out flowers. I had hoped that our tree would bear fruits off-season, and then we’d have the corner on the rambutan market.
But when I look in our vicinity, I notice that the other rambutan trees have not flowered and borne fruit either! No wonder no rambutan fruits were to be found in the market and fruit stands September to November this year, unlike in previous years.
Obviously something else unusual, too, has taken place here!
We hope that all the rambutan trees hereabouts will bear flowers and fruits in the next months, and everyone can enjoy again the tart-sweet taste and health benefits of this exotic fruit. Have other fruit trees also been affected by the same thing that’s going on in our environment? We have seen less durian and almost no mangosteen and lanzones in our local fruit stands thus far.
And will the shrikes return to Siberia some weeks later than usual — maybe sometime in May, instead of April next year? We will see when we get there!
Global aberrations predicted!
What has happened to the shrikes and our rambutan tree this year could be but a microcosm of what’s happening now and what is to happen to our planet in the months and years to come. You can check the news reports in the multi-media about all the environmental disasters happening worldwide.
It’s all written in the Book! Those who understand the import of Bible prophecies about these our “end times” can see why all these unusual “signs” are happening all over our dear planet. And the thing is that much of this is due to what Homo sapiens – singly or collectively as a unique species on this planet — has been doing to our good earth.
Revelation 11:17-18 quotes what the “twenty-four elders” — apparently some special spirit beings before God’s heavenly throne — pronounce about Jesus Christ’s imminent return to earth, as the seventh and last “trumpet” announces Christ’s taking over control of earth’s government:
We give you thanks, O Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was and who is to come, because You have taken Your great power and reigned. The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that you should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, and those who fear Your name, small and great, and should destroy those who destroy the earth.
Obviously many of those who hold power, whether politically or economically, have been destroying our planet earth! And, whether we like it or not — whether we are aware of it or not — our individual acts (our emissions, commissions, and omissions!) have contributed to the global destruction of our flora and fauna — and the quality of human life.
Who can tell what impact nuclear tests over the decades, for example, have had on our atmosphere, our seas, and our lands (surface and deep underneath)? And what devastation has all the warfare within the last decades done to our environment and human life? Who hasn’t heard about “humanitarian crises” in the aftermath of wars?
Now we have collectively created an environmental “Frankenstein” that, try hard as we might, we are no longer able to control! Years ago I had heard desperate cries about human solutions to our collective dilemmas being “too little, too late.” [See: "The Next Chapter of History."]
The apostle Paul wrote about “the creation” – all life on this planet — being “delivered from the bondage of corruption” when Christ returns to earth and the “sons of God” are revealed and glorified [given everlasting life] (Romans 8:18-25). Meanwhile, all creation “groans and labors with birth pangs together until now” (Verse 22) while awaiting the birth of a better creation when Christ rules the world with the immortal children of God. [See: Are We All God's Children?]
The prophet Jeremiah foretold about God’s coming judgments on the wicked among mankind who do not acknowledge that this world is coming to a dire end. He asks: “How long will the land mourn, and the herbs of every field wither? The beasts and birds are consumed…” (Jeremiah 12:1, 4).
The prophet Hosea amplified Jeremiah in declaring what the wickedness of mankind (especially the children of Israel) has done to our planet: “Therefore the land will mourn; and everyone who dwells there will waste away with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air; even the fish of the sea will be taken away” (Hosea 4:1-3).
The root cause
Hosea thus describes mankind in these last days as “stumbling” both in the day and in the night. Frankly, we human beings do not know the way out of our mostly self-inflicted dilemmas. We grope like blind people and “as dead men in desolate places,” and “salvation…is far from us” (Isaiah 59:10-11).
Hosea declares why all this is happening: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge [the knowledge of God]; because you have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you…because you have forgotten the law of your God” (Hosea 4:6).
Hosea adds that, instead of the knowledge of God — His truth! — people have been “conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood” and “…truth is fallen in the street…truth fails, and he who departs from evil makes himself a prey” (Isaiah 59:13-15).
As our Mother Eve rejected God’s instruction about not eating the forbidden fruit of the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” so all of mankind has rejected God’s knowledge and truth. As Eve swallowed the Devil’s lies “hook, line, and sinker,” so have all of us her descendants trusted in lies and falsehood. [See: "Your Eyes Will Be Opened!" and "Whoever Loves and Practices a Lie."]
As a result, here is what God says about man’s almost 6,000-year history: “Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths. The way of peace they have not known, and there is no justice in their ways; they have made themselves crooked paths; whoever takes that way shall not know peace” (Isaiah 59:7-8).
This is but the natural consequence of all of humanity having been deceived by Satan the Devil (Revelation 12:9). Mankind has followed the destructive ways of Satan, who is called “Appolyon” ([Greek] or “Abaddon” [Hebrew] (Revelation 9:11) — both meaning “Destroyer.” [Satan, who is now "king" over all of mankind is "the angel from the bottomless pit," as the verse should be properly rendered. It is another angel who has "the key to the bottomless pit" and who will bind Satan and imprison him in that pit (Revelation 20:1-3.]
The obvious solution
Proverbs 22:10 instructs: “Cast out the scoffer, and contention will leave; yes, strife and reproach will cease.” Satan is the greatest scoffer or scorner there is! He has scorned God’s ways and has followed the way of iniquity and sin. [See: Where Did the Devil Come From?] Therefore, before all contention, strife and reproach among mankind can and will cease, sin’s “mastermind” Satan (with his demons) and his human followers will need to be put away.
Speaking about how Satan’s kingdom will fall, Jesus intimates what He will do with Satan and his “house” [symbolic of kingdom]: “Or how can one enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? And then he will plunder his house” (Matthew 12:29). [See: Two Goats Together, especially the section with the heading "When will Satan be put away?"]
Indeed, at His return Christ will “destroy those who destroy the earth” (Revelation 11:18) — Satan as chief (with his demons), and all of deceived mankind that follow his destructive ways. Thankfully, all this vast number of humanity [about 90% of earth's present total population (Isaiah 6:11-13; Romans 2:5-11)] will be given their chance to be saved after the 1,000 years (or Millennium) of Christ’s reign on earth with the saints (Revelation 20:5). [See: This Is Not the Only Day of Salvation.]
With Christ ruling the world, Satan’s destructive ways on earth will be a thing of the past. Speaking of all the surviving human beings who will become the mortal subjects of God’s righteous and perfect government, Isaiah 11:9 says, “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain [symbolic of a kingdom], for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”
Changing the spiritual and social climate
If there’s a welcome “climate change” it is the change in the climate of the human spirit and human society that Christ’s perfect government on earth will effect. And that would only be possible when God will impart to mankind a new heart and His Holy Spirit to empower mankind to follow His perfect ways and to shun Satan’s way of destruction. [See: God's Spirit and Obedience, The Higher Law of the Spirit, Breaking Down our "Walls of Jericho," and Saved for Good Works.]
Ezekiel 36:24-28 declares this wonderful promise to God’s people Israel, which God will also extend to all of mankind (Romans 2:5-11): “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you [referring to God's word (Ephesians 5:25-27; John 6:63), and the proper understanding of it], and you shall be clean [compare with John 15:3; Psalm 119:9; and 1 Peter 1:22]; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh [a humble, yielded attitude]; I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God.”
God’s way of peace will result in a totally different spiritual and social environment that will also lead to a healthy, vibrant physical environment!
Ezekiel 47:1-12, for example, shows God’s miraculous “healing waters” proceeding from the new temple that will be built in Jerusalem at Christ’s return to rule the earth. [See: The Temple in Ezekiel 40-48.] The waters will heal all polluted seas (which cover some 5/6 of earth’s total surface area today) and restore vibrant marine and shore life. And, as surviving mortal human beings learn and practice God’s perfect ways of living, all will enjoy a healthy atmosphere, healthy food and a healthy community. [See: World Peace -- At Last! Being and Doing, and When One Who Preaches Christ Plants Corn.]
As many as have eyes to see and ears to hear, God invites: “Repent, and turn from all your transgressions [disobeying God's laws], so that iniquity will not be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die…” (Ezekiel 18:30-31)?
This “merry” season is as good as any to repent and cast away all transgressions against God’s word and law. Amidst the deceptive glitter and merriment of the season based on questionable reasons, it’s time people wake up from false hopes and turn wholeheartedly to God’s truth! [See: True Worship and Drunk With Strange Wine.]
May you choose life — not destruction!
Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.