I apologize for not getting this update out last week! Just got swamped with things, and couldn’t catch-up. This week is going better so far, though. 🙂
Anaheim SDA Church
Mid-week Pastor’s Update
November 16th, 2022
“Then the angel said to me, “The waters you saw… are peoples, multitudes, nations and languages.” Revelation 17:15
You may have heard the news earlier this week (though it’s understandable if you didn’t, as it was crowded-out by many other things) that our world’s population was projected to surpass 8 billion people this week. While specific numbers are not knowable, of course, the United Nation’s statistics and trajectory lines pointed to this week (yesterday, actually) as the approximate time our population would surpass that milestone.
8 billion! That’s a number that’s hard to fathom. I don’t think I can even really conceptualize the quantity number of 1 Billion, though I know it’s a thousand millions. So, it’s eight of those. Uh… I still struggle to comprehend it.
I remember being a kid and hearing some statistical program say “the earth has nearly 3 billion people”, and I knew the program was already old when I saw it, it was probably from the ‘60s or so. But, from that time, when my parents would have been in their teens or early 20s, the population has nearly tripled! I guess if every person had 3 kids before passing away, (or 6 per couple)…
As I heard that this milestone was coming-up, and has now been surpassed, I had a sense of weight in my soul: a feeling of “ugh, how can the earth support so many people? Especially given what I’m hearing about climate change and difficulties in farming and crop yields due to droughts in some areas, and too much wetness in others?”, and I sent-up a prayer, saying “Lord, please take care of your children.”
But then, in an interview I heard yesterday, a health/population expert was putting a much more positive spin on it: she was saying that population tends to increase when lifespans get longer, when wars and starvation subside, and when health and medical care improve. And so this statistic could be viewed as a success by those measures. That helped me balance my thoughts on the matter, while I am of course still prayerful about it.
I wonder how our recent “population explosion” looks from God’s perspective. Each child is obviously beloved by Him: totally unique, and made in His image. Though we can only conceive of a mass of humanity, he sees each one as a precious individual. I don’t know about you, but I am thankful to have a God like that. “How precious to me are your thoughts about me! They are more than I can comprehend.” Psalm 139:17
I also see this 8 billion people statistic as daunting in terms of Jesus’ statement that the Gospel must “be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14. While, numerically, Adventists (and broader Christians) have continued to grow, that growth has been out-paced by world population, so that a smaller percentage of people are Christian/Adventist now than 100 years ago! I’ve also wondered if it’s another way of Satan’s trying to ‘drown the woman with a flood by spewing a river of water at her’ (see revelation 12:15 and 17:15), in that he knows the Great Controversy can’t be wrapped-up until everybody can hear the truth and make their choice for (or against) God. Perhaps allowing for this immense population growth is a delay tactic of his! Though it obviously can’t continue forever.
But then I think of what a blessing wide broadcasting and the internet are: the ultimate "megaphone" to get messages spread far and wide instantly! These means of communication would have never been imaginable in Bible times, but certainly match the prophecy in Daniel 12 that in the last days “men will rush to and fro, and knowledge will increase” (v.4). But then again, these new communication means are “flooded” by folly, misinformation, vice, etc. to again ‘sweep away’ true messages trying to get through by an abundance of dilution. Rrgh.
I guess I see that the stakes are high on both sides. It would be very easy to get discouraged and consider the hurdles of huge population & media inundation as too high to overcome. But, let’s never lose sight of the fact that God has prophesied that this will happen. The Gospel will be preached to all mankind. Jesus will come again in glory. And “every knee shall bow… and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” Philippians 2:10.
I praise the Lord for those out on the forefronts: both of missionaries who literally, physically go out to far-off countries to share the Good News, and of internet & multimedia ambassadors who reach far more people than individuals could by their own means.* We, too, have an increasingly worthy mission-field here, as America becomes more "post-Christian".
You guys have heard me speak of it before: discouragement and cynicism are always in the back of my mind, threatening to take over. But I have to remain optimistic in Jesus. His coming, and the new creation He promises (Revelation 21:5) are the only long-term solution to the problems we face. I have to resonate with the Bible’s last words, crying out “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20).
Until then, I pray that you and your families would be blessed with health, physical safety, and of course increasing faith on this pilgrim journey we share. Speak well of Jesus! In any opportunity you encounter.
May God bless you the remainder of this week and beyond.
Pr. Mark Tatum
*I’m not sure if you’re aware, but there has been a prominent advertising campaign lately, called “He gets us”, that is connected to our Adventist message. I first became aware of it at an MLB baseball game I was at last summer, where, during about the 5th inning, the screens displayed the simple words “hegetsus.com”, and a person sitting next to me (who would know) said it was an Adventist-affiliated organization. Since then I’ve seen the ads on billboards and commercials, including one during the World Series I heard about. Check it out! It’s all about how Jesus sympathizes with our struggles, because He went through them too. (sounds largely like the “Sympathetic High Priest” idea from Hebrews 4:14-15 & 2:17). I read that it’s a $100 million advertising campaign, and, while folks can certainly debate the best way to use $100 million, you can’t say that they’re not trying to get the message of Jesus out there, publickly visible! May they have great success.