You know something is up when mainstream media commentators begin describing the swath of instability around the world as the New World Disorder, as veteran BBC commentator John Simpson did last week.1 Well-known CNN commentator Fareed Zakaria has also weighed in. In a piece subtitled: Is the world spinning out of control? he noted “I get asked this question a lot these days, and for understandable reasons,” before going on to say that “there is an unraveling taking place in parts of the world.”2 He went on to note the conflicts in the Middle East, in Ukraine and in much of Africa, events that led even the Pope to describe them last week as effectively perhaps a “piecemeal” Third World War.3 Those are surprisingly strong terms.
In recent weeks we have all been repelled by the images of cowardly barbarism emerging from Syria and Iraq from a death-cult that masquerades as a religious movement but is, in reality, completely at odds with the faith it claims to represent. When al-Qaeda terrorists are seen as moderates in comparison, you know something is up. And on another front altogether, the rapidly spreading Ebola pandemic now threatens not just western Africa, but the world in general. With these fast-moving developments and shocking images leading the nightly news, one can be forgiven for thinking that things are going downhill, fast. Evil is truly reigning with blood and horror in many parts of our world.
It is entirely possible, of course, to go through life blissfully aware of little outside our family, job and church callings. I see people all the time who have chosen to insulate themselves from the real world. Despite all the evidence to the contrary and prophetic warnings, they live their lives as if all is well in the world – as do many of their non-LDS neighbors – and in Zion. For Latter-day Saints, the Lord’s word on this is clear.
We are to seek understanding of:
…things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land…
Doctrine and Covenants 88: 79.
We are living in the time of preparation, the period of relative calm given to us to heed the prophetic word before peace is taken from all the earth.4 That the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25: 1-13 and D&C 45: 56-59) indicates only half of the activemembers of Christ’s Church will be prepared for the return of the Bridegroom should give us all pause.5
Some may feel it is alarmist to feel a sense of foreboding at the events now unfolding and premature to conclude that the downhill slide towards the Second Coming has significantly ramped up by events this year. They point to the other side of the coin: all the good things happening. It is true that the world remains a beautiful place in many respects. In his article, Fareed Zakaria was at pains to list all the positive things happening across the world. In this he is surely correct. They are considerable. Great strides are being made in bringing better conditions and freedoms to millions of people. New technology is improving all of our lives. Governments in many countries are better than they were.
In some respects, however, I believe he paints an over-optimistic picture. Notably, the US federal debt, which carries the potential to collapse not just the US economy but the world economic system, is not mentioned. It remains the elephant in the room that everyone tip-toes around.
A final note on what is a very complex subject. Geopolitics has fascinated me for many years. I am not alone in seeing some recent developments across the planet – the overthrow of dictators, developing alliances between nations and even the emergence of key individuals – that seem to fit predictions for the Last Days.6 It is as if the actors on a great stage are moving at an increasing pace into position for the final scene.
The End may not be yet, but I believe that the changes now underway across our planet are setting the stage for it, defining its players, and bringing us much closer to what is prophesied.
4. The 2011 article The Gathering Storm in Meridian Magazine noted that the modern world is being increasingly destabilized by a combination of moral, physical and economic processes.
Last year, Another Reason the 1978 Revelation Matters pointed out that there may be other coming events that we presently have no knowledge of. See Meridian Magazine.
5. Given worldwide activity levels, the parable obviously cannot refer to Church membership generally. It makes sense only if active, practicing, members are the ten virgins referred to.
6. Developments in the European Union, in particular, have been striking. Germany’s resurgence, the sudden escalation of anti-Semitism and the rise of individuals such as Russia’s Vladimir Putin are just some of the elements drawing attention from Christian commentators seeking to understand Biblical prophecies. In modern Israel, movements such as the preparations by some Jews to build the Third Temple bear watching. Even mainstream Jewish media such as Israel Today has recently re-examined the remarkable predictions of the 12th century rabbi Judah Ben Samuel in light of recent events in the Holy Land.