© 2023 Warren L. Johns. All Rights Reserved.
“But mark this: there will be terrible troubles in the last days.
People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, proud,
abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without
love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not
lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure
rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness
but denying its power.”
I TIMOTHY 3:1-5
“Based on the results of a series of computer models, it seems likely that our most recent common ancestor may have lived between 2,000 and 5,000 years ago… The point beyond which everyone alive today shares the same set of ancestors is somewhat harder to predict, but it most likely falls between 5,000 and 15,000 years ago, with a significantly more recent date for the point at which we share nearly the same set.” 1
That MIT computer projection appears to correlate generally with archaeological evidence pointing to Tell Brak, a tiny town supposedly the oldest site of a city on Earth. Tell Brak’s ruins, located on the northwest corner of today’s Syria, offer evidence of organized human life taking root in Mesopotamia. Agriculture flourished in the “Fertile Crescent” grasslands, sustained by the nourishing waters of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.
During the most recent 6,000 years, the Mideast marked a landmark moment when human civilization emerged in full glory. A plethora of archaeological discoveries confirms this reality. The Fertile Crescent appears to be home base for Homo sapiens global spread—in all directions. Conjecture that human life originated somewhere in Africa is less than persuasive.
The impact of human ingenuity driving world culture never ceases to amaze. The 2021 Tokyo Olympics dazzled spectators with the launch of 1,824 lighted drones, circling the evening sky, mimicking the geographic design of Planet Earth. This moment marked a muscle-flexing achievement for partnering science with nature.
Still, when mankind’s deficient character of selfish greed takes over, and nature’s bounties are exploited recklessly, nature suffers, with the last word. Civilization takes on a non-stop roller coaster ride—in a costly direction.
The ice age caused sea levels to drop 250 feet. This left a 600-mile corridor connecting Siberia with North America, enabling adventurous humans to find homes in North and South America. Sea levels rose with the ice melt.
By 5,000 years before the present, the innovative genius of human kind extended beyond the wheat and barley fields of the Fertile Crescent. It showed up in small communities such as Tell BraK (original name unknown) while mathematical marvels like the pyramids dominated skylines.
Thanks to skillful use of managing the multiple bounties of agriculture, global population had grown to an estimated 170 million by first century A.D.—the era of Christ’s spiritual ministry. Fifteen centuries later, human population had exploded to an estimate 500 million—a leap in time and space but only a hint of things to come. By century 21, that estimate had increased 14 times leaving more than 7 billion pairs of human feet walking the face of Planet Earth.
Earth managed to survive several thousand years of human occupancy and exploitation but inevitably, it became clear wear and tear on Earth’s delicate ecosystem came with a cost. Forests that had provided fuel for fire, began disappearing as recently as 300 years ago. Facing this shrinking source of energy, carbon locked up in fossil fuels coal, oil, and gas came to the rescue—but at an unforeseen price. Carbon released by fossil fuels pollutes the atmosphere, causing a devastating, negative impact on climate, hastening upset of a balanced ecosystem.
This 18th century discovery of a long-buried energy source kicked off an “Industrial Revolution” that altered life styles and modified climates. By the end of the twentieth century world population had skyrocketed to 7 billion and the detonation of 2,000 atomic warheads had polluted the atmosphere with a record level of unwelcome radioactive dust.
The stratosphere’s ozone layer contains a high concentration of ozone that absorbs most of the Sun’s ultraviolet radiation that could wreak havoc on Earth. Late in the twentieth century, and long into the “Industrial Revolution,” it was discovered that industrial release of greenhouse gases containing carbon, depletes the protective ozone shield, causing a serious threat to life on the Planet Earth.
Ocean acidity has increased twenty-five percent in two centuries, sea levels have risen eight inches in a century, while nearly half of Arctic ice has melted in fifty years. Fierce hurricanes, tornadoes, fires and floods remind humans that tampering with nature’s ecosystem comes with consequences.
The challenge of feeding a skyrocketing population led to mankind encroaching on animal habitat resulting in an alarming rate of species extinctions. Despite the challenge, human greed, financed by commercial interests, uses nearly a fourth of available agricultural land for livestock farming, a less efficient producer of nutrition value.
The beautiful “little blue dot,” floating regally in sync with a universe in motion, has changed radically in the last 6,000 years. The human hand, motivated by deficient character, leads the parade of predatory culprits responsible for the ecological crisis.
The disruptive drama of Planet Earth during the six millenniums since innovative humans founded Tell Brak, does not paint a pretty picture. While curious minds have opened the doors of science, self-centered behavior of flawed humanity has unleashed a planet-wide downward spin.
Archaeological records picture families, growing into tribes, with mini-kingdoms, crowning ego-centric, would-be kings. In turn, these make-believe monarchs, lead multitudes of human pawns to their deaths, locked in hate-sponsored combat. Under bright-colored banners, the quest for a fleeting moment of “power” and imagined “glory” evaporates like a whiff of methane, touched by a match. Human lives disappear, destroyed by surrender to the routine ritual of man’s inhuman cruelty to mankind.
Ozymandias, real or imagined, symbolized the futility of pride, greed, and hate-inspired discrimination.
“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert…Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ozymandias
Twenty-first century Homo sapiens species is threatened by global pandemics, catastrophic climate changes, street violence, deteriorating financial systems, earthquakes, erupting volcanoes, corrupt governments, starvation, relentless wars and “rumors of war,” floods, fires, mass murders, contaminated air, polluted water, droughts, vanishing aquafers, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, religious and political persecutions, cruel and inhuman suffering inflicted on humanity by evildoers and the killing power of an atomic bomb, triggered by unhinged tyrant.
Despite threshold moments of achievement, civilization’s trend drifts downward. Legislative action, military victories or scientific breakthroughs are unlikely to reverse direction. Inevitably, nature has the last word when confronted with man-made exploitations. A prescient Apostle Paul predicted serious consequences for Earth’s “last days.”
Feeling lack of hope, the strongest human hearts “fail them for fear.” Locked in a struggle for survival, they become vulnerable to “…a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” PROVERBS 14:12.
The same Paul who predicted disastrous “last days,” devoted his life to “the Way” that promised a “peace that passes all understanding” today and a guaranteed path to life eternal residing in God’s “Everlasting Kingdom.” This ultimate moral solution is available to all mankind exclusively through the power of the Holy Spirit and the Creator who will make all things new—including human hearts.
Likely candidates for that secure future are those who “obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.” REVELATION 14:12. Those who obey God’s commandments can be identified usually by exemplary behavior describe by Paul.
“Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” GALATIANS 5:22, 23 “Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience…Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” COLOSSIANS 3:12,13
1—Douglas L. T. Rohde, On the Common Ancestors of All Living Humans, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, November 11, 2003, 27.