I’m not quite old enough to remember the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. By the time I began school there were no more civil defense drills when you had to find the closest fallout shelter or hide under your desk.
But with the recent addition of North Korea to the list of countries with nuclear weapons, the potential of war, catastrophic loss of life and even global annihilation are once on the table. But the specter of worldwide destruction and death are nothing new, at least for those who have spent a little time in the Bible.
When creation is quite young, the consequences of Adam and Eve’s disobedience were felt throughout the world. It’s amazing and chilling to read that early on the Lord regretted he had made people. It didn’t take long till “every intention of the thoughts of [peoples] hearts were only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). Ponder that for a moment. Every good and decent thought and intent had been replaced by that which was evil and destructive.
The treatment plan is severs. God resolves to wipe out life from the face of the earth with a flood, and begin again. By grace, he saved eight people — Noah, his three sons and their wives — in an ark filled with animals.
It doesn’t really solve the problem, though, and Jesus spoke of a future time one heaven and earth would pass away (Mark 13:31). Complete annihilation. Once again, God would begin again with a new heaven and a new earth, populated by those whose lives were saved, this time by a Savior’s death and resurrection.
Now here’s the fascinating part. Jesus said, “Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28). While the world runs for the hills, the church knows that the new can only arrive when the old is gone. Our ears perk up when we hear predictions of disaster, death and destruction. Like coastal communities gathering for hurricane parties before the storm approaches, we gather for worship to anticipate the old giving way to the new in our baptism, in the church and finally in the whole of creation.
It’s going to happen one day. But it hasn’t happened yet. So we’ve got today, an opportunity to live, to be grateful, and to share the hope we have in Christ, our Savior through whatever happens next.