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Last-days 'birth pains' have
The world has endured an almost mind-numbing series of shocks in recent weeks, from the unprecedented swarm of tornadoes across the American Midwest to the death and destruction wrought by Cyclone Nargis as it tore a path through Myanmar, better known as Burma.
There were 368 documented tornadoes in the U.S. in January and February of this year, shattering the previous record of 243 over that two-month period, set in 1999. February's total of 232 tornadoes also shattered previous records.
Cyclone Nargis ripped Burma apart, killing at least 128,000, according to Red Cross estimates, and creating some 2.5 million refugees.
Al Gore was quick to blame global warming. In an interview on NPR to plug his appropriately named book on global warming, "Assault on Reason," he told host Terry Gross: "And as we're talking today, Terry, the death count in Myanmar from the cyclone that hit there yesterday has been rising from 15,000 to way on up there to much higher numbers now being speculated. . … And last year a catastrophic storm last fall hit Bangladesh. The year before, the strongest cyclone in more than 50 years hit China – and we're seeing consequences that scientists have long predicted might be associated with continued global warming."
Maybe. But Germany's Institute of Marine Scientists says we're in for a 10-year period of global cooling. There sure seems to be a lot of opposition to what is supposed to be "settled science."
Global warming can't explain away the devastating earthquake that all but flattened a huge portion of western China. The death toll from Monday's quake is approaching 20,000, with twice that number still listed as missing. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, Monday's earthquake was the 25th "significant" earthquake registered so far this year.
Back in 1969, the year I wrote "The Late, Great Planet Earth," the USGS identified a total of seven "significant earthquakes." I had noted in 1969 that there was a slight but discernible increase in worldwide earthquake activity since Israel's rebirth in 1948.
During the entire decade of the 1970s, the USGS recorded a total of 44 earthquakes it classified as "significant." The following decade, from January 1980 to December 1989, the USGS recorded 47 significant earthquakes. That is for the entire decade. From 1990 through the end of 1999, the USGS records 57 significant earthquakes. From 2000 thru to Monday's earthquake in Sichuan, China, the USGS recorded an astonishing 109 earthquakes of at least magnitude 7.0 and 13 earthquakes measuring between 8.0 and 9.9 on the Richter Scale.
On the other side of the world, the long-dormant Chaitan volcano erupted May 2 for the first time, say geologists, in more than 7,000 years. The BBC reported that a government volcano expert warned there could be a big eruption at any time.
"There could be a major explosion that could collapse the volcano's cone," said Luis Lara of the National Geologic and Mining Service.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization warned that Iran had "detected" a new highly pathogenic strain of wheat stem rust. The U.N. said the fungal disease could spread to other wheat-producing states in the Near East and western Asia that provide one-fourth of the world's wheat supply. The new strain, called Ug99, is capable of infecting up to 90 percent of the existing strains of wheat worldwide – and once infected, crop losses range between 70 percent and total loss.
Coupled with the losses already sustained as a result of the typhoon-related flooding in Java, Bangladesh, and India and from agricultural pests and diseases in Vietnam, it starts to add up. Last year, Australia suffered its second consecutive year of severe drought and a near complete crop failure; heavy rains reduced production in Europe; Argentina suffered heavy frost; and Canada and the U.S. both produced low yields. Food riots have broken out in Egypt, Haiti and several African states, including Mauritania, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Burkina Faso and Senegal.
Meanwhile, the drums of war continue to beat around the planet. Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad renewed his threat to destroy Israel this week. Hezbollah took over West Beirut, while the Arab world mourned the catastrophe of Israel's 60th birthday with threats of annihilation of the Jewish state. In Israel, President Bush again warned that allowing the Iranian regime to obtain nuclear arms would be "unforgivable," signaling a continuation along a path that can only lead to an eventual war that will engulf the whole Middle East.
When Jesus was asked by His disciples to tell them what "signs" would precede His return at the end of the age, He warned that "nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines, plagues and earthquakes in various places," He said (Matthew 24 and Luke 21). Using an analogy immediately understandable to all peoples in all nations, he said of these signs, "All these are the beginning of birth pains."
Jesus used a Greek word for the labor pains of a woman about to give birth. Jesus knew that every generation could understand the illustration. His meaning is clear. Just as a woman experiences birth pains that increase in frequency and intensity just before giving birth, so ALL the signs of His return would increase in frequency and intensity just before His return. Hey, for he first time in history, all of the signs have appeared together in the same time frame and are increasing in frequency and intensity. That, coupled with the fulfillment of the great predicted sign that Israel became a nation again after 2,000 hopeless years of worldwide dispersion, indicates that Jesus Christ is already at the door ready to return. Are you ready?