In the 13th chapter of Mark’s Gospel the disciples of Jesus are described as asking Him how they will know when the time was approaching for Him to establish His Kingdom on Earth, and He responds by saying “When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be frightened; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end.”
I have to confess to you, dear reader, that when I read that passage as part of a New Testament survey course I was taking my freshman year of college (a LONG time ago) I actually rolled my eyes a bit and thought “gosh Jesus, that’s not very helpful, could you be more specific.”
In defense of my lack of respect for these divine words, I beg to point out that there have ALWAYS been wars going on. It’s one of the saddest and most shameful aspects of the world we live in and have always lived in, from the dawn of humanity to the present day.
At the moment, there are many wars going on in the Middle East and there is an ever-present threat of even larger flare ups of conflict. But again, there have been such conflicts going on in this region almost constantly since the days of David and Goliath. So how can we use this warning Jesus gives us in Mark 13:7?
I believe the answer lies in the seldom-examined second part of the warning where Jesus speaks of “rumors of wars” which have, exploded (no pun intended) in the Internet Age.
Some of my all-time favourites in this category include a “report” that arrived in my email inbox many years ago that a fleet of “stealth Battleships” had been dispatched by the Chinese and North Korean navies to attack the West Coast of the US while another such fleet had been dispatched by Russia to attack the US East Coast, all in a pre-emptive strike meant to disable America’s ability to come to the aid of an attack on Israel by Iran’s own fleet of “stealth Battleships”.
These dreadnoughts were, according to the report, massive and heavily armed, while also managing to be invisible to radar (and, presumably, the naked eye) and at the very moment the email carrying this “report” had been sent to me, they were supposedly approaching their intended targets. The US military had apparently failed to detect them, but the writers of the article knew all about it and thanks to them, now I knew all about it too.
Another one I saw once warned of an impending invasion of Israel by 90,000 soldiers which had been sent as a “joint operation” by Russia, China and Iran. The article didn’t mention such details as how these troops were being moved into position for their “invasion” and how such a large troop movement had gone undetected by everyone except those who had written the article.
Yet another breathlessly reported that America had stationed no less than 200 B-2 heavy bombers at “secret bases” somewhere in the Middle East to be ready to attack Iran should the need arise. The reason that one was so ridiculous is that only 21 B-2 strategic bombers were ever built, and the bases needed to support them are include a tremendous amount of very specialized (and terrifyingly expensive) equipment that it would be utterly impossible to install in any kind of base that the Pentagon might have wanted to keep secret.
I could give many more examples. When it comes to “rumors of wars” there seems to be an endless supply of silly, stupid, absurd, ridiculous idiotic nonsense flowing through the internet that would be hilarious if it wasn’t so dangerous. I can’t even imagine what motivates the people who write these “reports” and “articles” except maybe they’re somehow making money off of it. Or maybe they suffer from some form of mental illness and/or demonic influence which compels them to sow confusion and anxiety in well-meaning people who care about Israel and their own countries but don’t know enough to tell fake news from real news.
If you, dear reader, are such a well-meaning person, please accept the following piece of advice.
When you encounter a “report” which you suspect might be merely a “rumor of war” remember, Wikipedia is your friend! These kinds of reports often include something you can check, such as a specific piece of equipment (e.g. “stealth Battleships) which you can do a Wikipedia search for and see if it actually exists (or is even technically possible to exist). If the “report” mentions a specific military unit in the IDF or any Western military (e.g. a specific US Navy ship or IDF combat battalion) you can do a simple search of that unit to see if it exists and if so, where it is and what it’s currently doing. If the aircraft carrier the “report” says is headed for the Persian Gulf is, according to the Pentagon website, sitting in drydock in San Diego where it’s been for the last ten years since being decommissioned from active service, you can be sure that “report” is actually a “rumor of war.”
To sum up, these “rumors of war” which have become all-too-common in the internet age are dangerous because they sow confusion and misdirect effort by Believers who really do want to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and the safety of Israel. On the other hand, they give us yet another reason to believe that we are in the season of history that Jesus described which would occur just before His Second Coming to this earth.
That’s what I’ve got for you this week brothers and sisters, I hope it blessed someone.