According to the “Doomsday Clock” we are only 100 “seconds” from the “midnight” of apocalyptic doom.
This is not the pronouncement of a wild-eyed fortuneteller, crazed would-be prophet, or frenzied alarmist, but a worldwide conglomerate of scientists and policymakers. They assemble annually to assess global threats and fragility, and endurance limits for the planet, its inhabitants, their societies, and civilizations.
The vehicle by which the experts reveal their carefully reasoned estimate of the approach of “Doomsday” is the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (BAS). On January 27 BAS announced its findings virtually (ironically, due to COVID, one of the threat-accelerators that hasten the tick-tocks to annihilation).
The BAS experts tell us that we are closer to the end than at any point since the “clock” was presented in 1947. This is only the second time the “clock” has been this close to the midnight of global extermination.
“With wide-spread mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic... little progress in eliminating nuclear weapons; and insufficient mitigation of destructive climate change, the BAS decided to hold the clock at the present, perilous time, and a warning and ‘wake-up call,’” declared the BAS.
However, the “wake-up call” urgently needed is not for more Woke-ness, social activism, or government regulation, but spiritual awakening.
Even an agnostic sees this. Charles Murray, who has written extensively on the dangers of secularism, told a National Review interviewer that he thinks the American Republic cannot continue without a Great Awakening like those impactful spiritual movements that preceded the original founding. At the very least, Murray thinks there must be “a revival of the religious values that the Founders depended on to undergird their experiment.”
Years ago, after I left politics and government to become a pastor, occasionally someone would exhort me to go back and live in the “real world.” However, the “world” I had left was itself not one that faced reality. It smirked at the idea of humanity’s fall into evil, and the actuality of sin. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 32:23) was derided as fantasized myth.
The “real world” faces the terrible fact of sin and the urgent need to do something about it. The atonement of Christ, the redemption of grace, and the possibility of repentance comprise the solution.
That is the real world.
It is also the reason the “Doomsday Clock” does not go backward, but forward toward destruction.
Humanity’s fall into sin brings on spiritual entropy. Not only is the physical universe snared in the vortex of the entropic plunge, but so is the spiritual cosmos. The Apostle Paul writes, in Romans 8:21 (NLT), that “the whole creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.” NLT)
The fundamental struggle in the fallen world is between cosmos (order) and chaos. Isaiah 14 describes Lucifer-Apollyon (“destroyer”) as “the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, who made the world like a wilderness and overthrew its cities” In ancient Greek thought, the city, or “polis” was a to be a refuge of order and security. To bring down the city, therefore, was to throw open the gates to chaos and destruction.
Therefore, a refusal to acknowledge this reality is living in a fantasy, and not the “real world.”
Ironically, it is people who embrace the biblical worldview who live in the “real world.” To deny sin and the need for redemption is an attempt to deny the existence of an enemy while being bloodied and battered by the adversary in a battle that is all too real.
Though they may not believe in original sin and fallen human nature, the secularists call on us to repent for abusing of one another and the environment, as well as racism, greed and all the other things that cause them to set the “clock” forward toward annihilation. But if there is no absolute righteousness, how do we recognize sin? This is Saint Paul’s point in Romans 7:7, when he writes, “I would not have come to know sin except through the law.”
Without God’s revealed law all we have to enable us to identify evil is finite human opinion. Crusades for better living will accomplish nothing until we awaken to the real world that acknowledges sin and the need for us all to bow before the transcendent majesty of God.
If we do not reverence the Creator, we will not reverence what the Creator has made, beginning with human life and proceeding to nature and the environment.
The more we try to push back the hands of the clock on our own without acknowledging the core problem, the faster we will plunge toward Apollyon’s Gehenna.
Two thousand years ago an itinerate Jewish carpenter understood the “real world” better than anyone and revealed important details about the future.
In Part II we will examine what Jesus of Nazareth saw about what was coming to the world.
Wallace B. Henley’s fifty-year career has spanned newspaper journalism, government in both White House and Congress, the church, and academia. He is author or co-author of more than 20 books. He is a teaching pastor at Grace Church, the Woodlands, Texas.