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Resetting the Doomsday Clock

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Leonard Reiser, chairman of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and member of the Manhattan Project adjusts the Doomsday Clock (Credit: Reuters)

There’s great news today and there’s bad news.  First the bad: According to the Doomsday Clock, we’re now one minute closer to the annihilation of our planet.

The Doomsday Clock was created in 1947 as a way for atomic scientists to warn the world of the dangers of nuclear weapons.  In 1953, after the first test of the hydrogen bomb, the scientists moved the clock to two minutes until midnight.  When the United States and Russia began cutting their nuclear arsenals in 1991, they moved the clock back to 17 minutes before midnight.

Yesterday, they moved the clock up to five minutes until doomsday.  The scientists are concerned about the Fukushima nuclear disaster, global climate change, and growing interest in nuclear power from countries such as Turkey, Indonesia, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates.  In addition, some scientists worry about a catastrophic impact from a comet or asteroid, a massive gamma-ray burst, devastating infectious diseases from drug-resistant “superbugs,” supervolcanoes capable of gigantic eruptions, and nuclear terrorism.

We have three options this morning.  We can go back to bed.  We can ignore today’s news.  Or we can consider one of the last paragraphs Paul wrote and find in it the amazing hope of God.

The Apostle was in the Mamertine Dungeon in Rome.  I’ve been where he was–it’s a small cave turned into a prison cell.  Here, while he awaited beheading, he wrote the biblical book of 2 Timothy to his spiritual son.  Its theme: facing fear with triumphant faith.

Timothy apparently had a problem with fear.  Paul urged the Corinthians: “If Timothy comes, see to it that he has nothing to fear while he is with you” (1 Corinthians 16:10).  He earlier urged Timothy, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young” (1 Timothy 4:12).  In 2 Timothy he encouraged the young man, “Do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner” (1:8).  And he urged him: “You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2:1).

What fears cause you to feel like Timothy this morning?  Financial pressure?  Worries about your family?  Health problems?  Concerns for our country?  Here’s what Paul told Timothy: “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7, ESV).  Facing imminent death, the Apostle could give his fears to God because “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day” (v. 12).

Our choice seems clear: Either God is in charge, or he is not.  Either he takes care of his children or he doesn’t.  Which do you choose to believe?