“Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of Yahweh is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but Yahweh shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee” Isaiah 60:2

So wrote the Spirit by Isaiah, the prophet, of the days immediately preceding the advent of the Lord. The “darkness” speaks of igno­rance of God’s ways, and so great would this be that the prophet says “gross darkness” would cover the peoples of the earth. It is no secret to us that “in the last days perilous [rv grievous] times shall come” (2 Tim 3:1). The Lord has forewarned us that “as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matt 24:37). We know how corrupt and violent that society was. To further warn us he aligned our days with the gross perversion of Sodom (Luke 17:28). There can be no doubt that our world matches the description alluded to, and therein lies a warning for us all to watch and have our lamps burning.

On a recent trip overseas I was struck by the obvious declension in standards of advertising and film making, which I might add we were subject to involuntarily and not by choice. I was shocked by the blatant use of suggestive language; and so far as the films were concerned, the obsession with violence and sensuality. There was absolutely noth­ing to commend them, and those who watched them would inevitably be harmed mentally and morally. Herein lies a challenge to God’s people. We cannot choose to look at such profanities and be innocent. There is the great need to give ourselves to higher thoughts:“Whatsoever things are true… honest… just… pure… lovely… and of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Phil 4:8).

The reason why standards have fallen is ig­norance of the will of God recorded in His Word. The Bible no longer exerts the governing influence it used to, say fifty years ago. Yahweh Who made man knows what is best for him. By departing from His commandments man has invited corruption and violence into his world. In another prophecy of Isaiah depicting the chaos of the last days, we are told of the state the earth will be in, and the reason for it: “The earth is defiled [rsv lies pol­luted] under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate….” (24:5,6). There is no way known whereby man can escape the consequences of his own actions. Under the rule of man there will not be the moral revolution required to arrest society’s spiral to destruction. This is the work of Christ, and you and me, provided we are watchful and keep our garments (Rev 16:15).

It is a worthwhile exercise to contemplate some of the major factors that have undermined faith in the Word of God. The following list is by no means complete, but all have played a significant part.

1 Evolution: This theory has sought to explain away the wonders of creation, the great witness to God’s “eternal power and Godhead” (Rom 1:20). Without the myth of evolution men would have to accept the existence of a Creator and responsibility to Him, which in their folly they wish to be free from.

2 The Sufferings of Two World Wars: Men find it difficult to reconcile the great sufferings of human­ity during two world wars with a God of love Who is all powerful. However, in this they are ignorant of His purpose and justice.

3 Materialism: The material wealth of the western world in particular, along with remarkable inven­tions, has given men a false sense of security. Man believes he is self-sufficient and wise, and not in need of his Maker.

4 Rationalism and Science: To modern man religion and science are opposed, and he has chosen to go with “science, falsely so-called”. True science and religion are in harmony, but few are disposed to listen long enough to appreciate this.

5 Long Time Lapse from the Apostolic Era: Many centuries have elapsed since the hand of God has been visibly displayed as in the miracles of the ap­ostolic age. This is foreshadowed by Peter when he said that in the last days there would be “scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation” (2 Pet 3:3–4). The absence of visible tokens of Divine intervention in human affairs for 1900 years has made men sceptical as to whether they ever did occur!

What does all this mean to us? We have to redouble our efforts to ensure that we are not insidi­ously duped as the world has been. The signs about us, as discerned through Bible prophecy, clearly show us that God’s purpose is on track, that He does rule in the kingdoms of men and is bringing about His preordained purpose. We need to read His Word daily in order to counteract the pressures and influences of this present evil world. We must also “pray always that we may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21:36).

Truly “darkness covers the earth”, but for the saints it heralds the bright day of the Kingdom of God, when Zion shall be called upon to “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of Yah­weh is risen upon thee”. This light will dispel the darkness and bring true joy and blessedness to all mankind.

“Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thess 5:5,6).