Last month, they set it ahead by a full two minutes.
It now stands at three minutes to midnight.
It hasn’t been this close since 1984, during the arms race.
The only time it’s been closer to midnight was in 1953, when the U.S. and the Soviet Union tested thermonuclear devices within nine months of each other. Then it was set at two minutes to the fatal hour.
It’s the Doomsday Clock.
First set in 1947 during the advent of the Nuclear Age at seven minutes before midnight, the symbolic clock is supposed to remind us of the precarious position of the world. It represents a “countdown” to global disaster, usually associated with the threat of nuclear weapons. Maintained by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the Doomsday Clock has been a sort of modern Damocles Sword hanging over the whole human race.
Sometimes the hand is set ahead – sometimes back. And so it goes – depending on a certain scientific view of world events.
As with the original ancient sword, the Doomsday Clock cautions those with great power of the accompanying responsibility.
From another point of view, one might conclude that the Clock is like the boy who cried wolf.
After all, it’s been warning us of impending worldwide doom for almost 70 years.
Nothing’s happened yet.
We’re all still here and life continues pretty much as it always has. Oh sure, change is a constant, but we adjust and move on. Let the hand of the Clock be moved as the scientists will.
It doesn’t affect us.
The scientists tell us they’ve moved the Doomsday Clock to 11:57 because of nuclear proliferation – more nations have nuclear weapons than ever before in the history of the world – and because of climate change. Both problems are getting worse, they say, and little, if anything, is being done about it.
Despite politics and theories, it would seem that circumstantial evidence would justify the scientific concern.
The weather of the world is wilder.
Extreme swings break old records.
Forty inches of snow in Boston recently over seven days made it the snowiest week in the area since records began in 1891. Reports show the oceans rising. Yes, climate change is real. And it’s becoming increasingly undeniable, even for naysayers.
Jesus foretold of climate change:
“And there will be strange signs in the sun, moon, and stars. And here on earth the nations will be in turmoil, perplexed by the roaring seas and strange tides” (Luke 21:25, NLT).
So this is not simply scientific fact. It’s prophetic fulfillment.
Ironically, the end of the Cold War has made the world, in many ways, a more unstable and dangerous place.
No one should be more concerned about the earth and the wise stewardship and conservation of its resources than Christians. No one should be any more dedicated to working and praying for peace in the world than those who follow the Prince of Peace. A Jordanian pilot’s barbaric death reminds us of the depravity of man and the long and difficult road to shalom.
Yet, for the follower of Jesus Christ there is no reason to give way to doom over the future. We must avoid the cavalier attitude of those who dismiss the coming cataclysm. “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again?” they mock. “From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same” (II Peter 3:4, NLT).
But it hasn’t and it won’t.
One day, the clock will strike midnight.
Afraid? Not at all!
Jesus told us that this would be “the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8, KJV – “the first of the birth pains, with more to come”, NLT).
Creation is going into labor. The world is dilated. Perhaps even nine centimeters – or more.
Paul writes in Romans that “all of creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (Romans 8: 22, NLT).
That’s a long labor!
Since the infection of Eden, the world has labored under the curse of sin. We call it “the human condition.”
But pain always precedes the abundant joy of birth and new life.
“You will grieve,” Jesus told his disciples, “but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy” (John 16:21, NLT). He likened it to a woman in labor. “When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world.” (verse 21, NLT).
So it is with us who wait for his return.
Some day and in some way, this old world and all its anguish and suffering, will come to an end.
No Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists can ultimately prevent that. Time will end. The clock will strike.
But then will come new birth and new life.
A new heaven and a new earth.
You and I will enter that glorious land – the city with eternal foundations, the city “whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews11:10, KJV).
No more sorrow, no more pain, no more death and no more tears.
“I will see you again,” Jesus promises, “and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you” (John 16:22, KJV).
In the meanwhile, every tick of the clock just leads us closer home.
May God bless you and your family.