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War in Ukraine, extreme water scarcity in parts of India, gun violence in the US with 19 primary school children shot dead, and a protest in South Africa over French government actions in Africa. These are a tiny sample of the major news headlines in recent times; let’s not forget the big increase in petrol price all over the world, that has added to our daily problems. Is the world getting better or worse?
University students ask me this question from time to time; recent global events, and social life where you live, have probably made you ask this question too. Our answers would probably depend on our wealth status, our nationality or the country where we live, and our religious belief. Many might say scientific inventions have made the world a better place; what does the Bible say about this?
What is the problem with the world according to the Bible? In Genesis 2:17 (NIV) God says to Adam: “…but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” This is the foundational human problem in the Bible – death. When Jesus was on earth, he healed, he provided food, he comforted many, but his celebrated victory was the resurrection.
The foundational human problem in the Bible is not – what shall we eat and drink, where should we live, what shall we wear – what we refer to as the basic needs. The foundational problem in the Bible is that we walked out on God in the book of Genesis and as a result we die. Thus, 1 Corinthians 15:25-26 (NIV) talking about Jesus says: “For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” So, how well have we done to overcome death?
This puts the question of whether the world is getting better or worse in a different light. Imagine that you are on a long journey by ship, the food is poor and the sea is rough; you complain to the captain, and the food improves but the sea is still rough. The food is better but the degree of danger, the rough sea, has not gone away, death is still at the door, and the captain cannot change that.
When people therefore say the Bible is doom and gloom, I show them that actually the Bible is doom and future hope. The doom, death, already happened at Eden, and the rest of the Bible is about how God brings us back to life from death. While we do our best to make the current world livable, and better off, death and its effects, like on our bodies getting old and sick, continue torment us.
Lord, help us to see the future hope that Jesus preached, Amen!