“It is now 2 and a half minutes to midnight”. According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, that is. They describe the Doomsday clock as a metaphor for how close humanity is to destroying the world. The clock was first set in 1947, when the threat of nuclear weapons was first seen as an existential threat to the whole world. It has previously been as close as 2 minutes to midnight during escalations in the Cold War, and it has been as far away as 17 minutes to midnight following the end of the Cold War in 1991.
The current threat
For the past 2 years, however, it has been set at 3 minutes to midnight, due not only to the renewal of nuclear weapons by world superpowers, but also because of the ever-increasing threat of climate change that the world is facing. Fear has been growing over the last few months because of in the unprecedented events happening in the USA. This recent announcement will have been influenced by such fear and uncertainty.
The Christian view
So how should Christians view these 2 threats? Could the world actually be destroyed by either nuclear war or climate change? Would God allow that to happen? What should we be doing at the moment?
Well it’s important first of all to show from the Bible that God will not allow a full destruction of the world. The reason for this is because this world is promised as the future place for mankind.
Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things. Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory! Psalm 72.18-19
It is God’s intention for his glory to fill the world. Humans have largely failed to reflect his glory, but there is a glorious future promised. A changed earth. An earth without weapons of mass destruction. An earth with a restored environment. An earth that recognises the divine rule of God.
It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains. He shall judge between many peoples, and shall decide for strong nations far away; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore. Micah 4.1,3
The Bible does however acknowledge that a certain amount of destruction will take place before a restoration occurs. Revelation 11.18 talks about a time …for destroying the destroyers of the earth. God has made mankind responsible for looking after this earth which he made, and that should be a sobering thought. You only need to look at the first few pages of the Bible to see the responsibility which God gave man to look after the world he had made.
The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. Genesis 2.15
We have a duty to care for the earth, rather than selfishly plundering and polluting it – because it is God’s. Clearly we can’t change the world on our own. Small changes we can all make, however, provide the possibility of a bigger difference. The way that we treat the planet is just one way that we can give glory to God.
A glorious future
Ultimately though, no matter what positive change can happen, it is only God who can truly fix the world’s problems. The bible promises that Jesus will return to set up God’s kingdom on the earth. It promises that those who believe in him have a hope of life rather than death.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3.16-17
We don’t know if nuclear war will happen in our lifetimes. We don’t know if the current problem of climate change will be solved by man or not. They are however, among the most pressing issues facing humanity at the moment, with little obvious sign of a viable solution. Whatever happens, though, our own personal future is very much dependent on how we respond to God’s offer of salvation.