Nine Minutes Until Midnight

Following the detonation of nuclear devices by India and Pakistan, a collective chill seemed to run down the spines of thinking people across the face of the Western world. So much so, that there was a flurry of activity among the folk who are custodians of the “Doomsday Clock” created in 1947. The idea is that when the hands move to midnight, we will experience the great nuclear conflagration that will doom the planet. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a journal published at the University of Chicago, set the clock closer to the moment of nuclear annihilation “in response to…tests by India and Pakistan” last June. The fellow who moved the hand of the Doomsday Clock for the benefit of the TV cameras of the major networks didn’t flinch as he pushed the hand to 11:51, just nine minutes away from midnight.

There are those who take these nudgings of the symbolic timepiece quite seriously. Others view the entire enterprise with a large dose of skepticism, not unlike most of us experience while looking on the somewhat silly proceedings enacted each February, when grown men in stovepipe hats drag that poor groundhog out of bed to tell us how much more winter wind we must endure.

Whether or not the clock movers are close to correct is open to debate. However, where they have placed the hands of the Doomsday Clock makes an important statement. The quickening pulse of world events is so foreboding that it is not necessary to be a biblical prophetic scholar to discern “the times or the seasons” (Acts 1:7). Having said that, and recognizing that The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists does not profess to be a commentary on biblical prophecy, it is interesting that they have, probably unwittingly, quoted the Bible. Mr. Leonard Reiser, a physicist and chairman of the board of The Bulletin, said, “The board feels these are perilous times.”

His quotation echoes 2 Timothy 3:1, which outlines some of the characteristics of these “perilous times.”

This know, also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God (2 Tim. 3:1–4).

When these attributes of collective degeneracy are manifested, as they are today, we can well understand why weapons of mass destruction are being shuttled into the arsenals of the nations. And, while the keepers of the Doomsday Clock may not necessarily be biblical scholars, they are certainly discerners of the “times” and “seasons.” These men may not be informed about the rest of the story, but they are saying something people need to hear—it is getting very, very late.

This theme is certainly long overdue in some of the pulpits and seminary classrooms of this nation. It is somewhat disconcerting that secular scientists are saying what many of our preachers and teachers are not. Perhaps this incident should serve as a wake-up call to remind us that our messages should be molded from the whole of Scripture, not crafted to pander to the bleating demands of a self-absorbed and excessively indulgent culture.

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