Shift in World Demographics
“For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and they knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall be the coming (parousia, presence) of the Son of man” (Matthew 24:38, 39 ASV).
According to most recent world population projections, the number of people populating our planet increases by 145 each minute. Barring any global catastrophe, within the next decade, there will be another billion people on earth. However, there are sharp variations within the seven continents: while Africa’s population is expected to double by 2050, Europe’s population is expected to diminish during the same time frame.
Price, Waterhouse, Coopers (PWC) recently published its 2015 global survey of population social and economic trends. The common thread across the populous of the world: increasing diversity. The combination of increased life expectancy in some countries combined with the declining birth rates in other countries creates demographic challenges for the future global society. For example, in the next 30 years, the average age in Japan will rise to 53, while the average age in Nigeria will decline to 21.
Europe, Asia, and Latin America will need women, elderly, and increased immigration to maintain their needed workforce. Africa’s younger population offers that continent a significant competitive opportunity, but only if social disparity and political corruption can be corrected. China, India and Brazil will all double their over-60 workforce to nearly 15 percent within three decades, something that took France a century
In regions with aging populations, such as Europe, a further challenge is expected to be the high healthcare costs related to chronic diseases and care for the elderly. According to the European Union (EU), 30% to 40% of healthcare expenses are already being spent on people aged 65 or above. As their share of the population continues to rise, the costs of caring for them will also increase, increasing the pressure on social and healthcare systems.
In the USA, observers are noting the massive social changes. Daniel Lichter, sociology professor at Cornell University said in an interview, “The global pattern is reinforced by very large racial changes in America’s composition. The Baby Boomer generation which is predominantly white and affluent and in some ways, conservative in the next 20 to 30 years will be replaced by a younger population, and that population is going to be disproportionately minority.” Among the seismic age-related shifts Lichter already sees are: same-sex marriage, interracial marriage, legalization of some drugs, cohabitation and births to unmarried couples. Paul Taylor, executive vice president of Pew Research Center, says, “The social agenda in the U.S. has moved much more toward tolerance and acceptance (of any behavior).”
PWC concludes its study with a striking observation pertinent to the student of prophecy: There may never have been a society in history that was as culturally, religiously and politically diverse as the U.S. today, except perhaps the Roman Empire before it fell. There are few models for how such a diverse community can sustain itself, and plenty of models for failure. Only the Bible has the answer to the future of this diverse community.
Morality and Rights
“For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples; But the LORD will rise upon you, and His glory will appear upon you. Na- tions will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising” (Isaiah 60:2-3, NAS).
It is evident from the foregoing that the past century has seen tremendous economic, political, and social upheavals unlike that in any previous time. Oppression of any kind is no longer acceptable. Since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, the protection of human rights has become an integral part of international order. More than 250 international human rights instruments (regarding individual or collective, political, cultural, social, and eco- nomic rights) have been signed since then. Human rights issues take on an ever greater dynamic on the global stage as the populous becomes more diverse, and there is a growing pressure in the initiatives and actions of individual states, and on a multilateral level.
This focus on rights has blurred the line between real human rights and subjective perceptions of rights, causing confusion and chaos in those countries where leaders struggle to placate the increasingly diverse culture. In George Orwell’s Animal Farm, originally written as a satire of Communist Russia, seven commandments which govern the farm are written on the side of a barn. Gradually, the animals remove the commandments one by one until just number seven remains: “All animals are equal.” However, it now contains an addition: “but some animals are more equal than others.”
Similarly, the current order has seen diversity outpace moral development, and today selfishness reigns supreme in the hearts of the vast majority of the world’s population. Moral reforms have been supplanted by moral platforms that demand elevation under the guise of equality.
Selfishness Versus Love
“Now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up,” declares the prophet of the Lord” (Malachi 3:15).
During the past six thousand years, Satan has been the great taskmaster of the human race, and he has governed by the evil principle of selfishness. When Jesus establishes his Kingdom, the order will be reversed. Love and preference for others will be taught, encouraged and rewarded.
This change from selfishness to love will not come suddenly. The prophet suggests the gradual method by which the world will be instructed in the law of love when he says that “when Thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.”(Isaiah 26:9).
The judgment work mentioned by Isaiah will be concurrent with the dispensing of kingdom blessings. But it will be nothing like the traditional judgment day which has been devised to frighten so many people. So thorough will be the kingdom system of instruction in righteousness that the prophet tells us God’s law will be written even in the hearts of the people (Jeremiah 31:33).
We cannot stop the mad rush of a selfish world. However, we can be “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20). As ambassadors, it is our duty to exhibit personal integrity in dealing with others; to be objective and independent in our alignment with the interests of those in the world; to work toward the individual development of those entrusted to our care; and finally, to have an interest in the major problems of the day. Above all, we are to remember that our citizenship is in heaven, and we are to represent the principles of that world found in God’s Word. While we are more or less influenced by the condition of the things of this world, and have sympathy with mankind, we look forward, along with as many as we find who will listen, to the new dispensation where righteousness will be a universal standard for each and every one (2 Peter 3:13).