A World in Decline

Proverbs 20:1 “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.”

Susan Perry wrote an article a couple years ago in the Minnpost that focused on the increase in alcoholic deaths in the U.S. Back when the article was written, the numbers were accelerating, and since the article was written Covid has only accelerated the increase in AUD (alcohol abuse, alcoholism, and alcohol use disorder).

Using death certificate data from the National Center for Health Statistics, the study’s authors identified 425,045 alcohol-induced deaths in the United States between 2000 and 2016. Those deaths climbed from 19,627 in 2000 to 34,847 in 2016.

After adjusting for increases in the country’s population, the study’s authors calculated that the rate of alcohol-induced deaths in the U.S. jumped from 8.9 per 100,000 people in 2000 to 12 per 100,000 in 2016 — a 34 percent increase.

Economists as well as healthcare and addiction specialists agree the pandemic and quarantines of 2020 had a significant impact on nationwide alcohol consumption.

According to the national center for drug abuse statistics:

  • Online liquor sales rose 262% year-over-year (YoY) in the first 3 weeks of March, coinciding with most state-wide lockdowns.
  • Liquor store sales increased 54% YoY during that same time period.
  • In April 2020, YoY alcohol sales were up 234%.
  • In a Johns Hopkins-University of Maryland-Baltimore survey, 60.1% of participants report drinking more alcohol after March 1, 2020.
  • 34.1% report binge drinking at least once; 7.0% report extreme binge drinking.
  • 45.7% report increased stress as a reason for their increased drinking.
  • Other reasons for increased drinking include increased alcohol availability (34.4%) and boredom (30.1%).
  • Also in March, 180 people died in Iran after consuming homemade alcohol due to the rumor that it would protect them from COVID.
  • Similar deaths occurred in nations where alcohol is illegal and often includes toxins.

Isaiah 5:11 “Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may run after strong drink, who tarry late into the evening as wine inflames them!”

Other Key findings show:

  1. 95 thousand Americans die from the effects of alcohol every year.
  2. 7% of drinking adults have AUC
  3. 60% of people have increased their alcohol consumption since the Covid lockdowns.

World wide, the use of alcohol is only overshadowed by the magnitude of deaths from smoking.

As the data continues to pour in from 2020 until today, the increase in abuse on every level has risen sharply. Cannabis use has grown to over 200 million people globally while opioid use and amphetamines use has almost doubled since 2015.

Proverbs 23:20-21 “Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags.”

Could the use of these depressants be the reason for the spike in suicide attempts which reached 1.2 million in 2020?

How has a pandemic led to this global epidemic of abuse?

These are all questions that few seem to have the answer for, or at least are willing to admit.

The Rise of Fear

In October of 2021, Alize Ferrari, a lead researcher at the Queensland Center for Mental Health Research in Australia published a global report on anxiety.

In a systematic review, researchers analyzed data from dozens of studies that reported the prevalence of major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders in the pandemic, calculating that each increased by 28% and 26%, respectively, last year globally. That’s tens of millions more cases of depression and anxiety, in addition to the hundreds of millions already occurring around the world. All told, the researchers estimated there were about 3,153 total cases of major depressive disorder per 100,000 people and 4,802 total cases of anxiety disorders per 100,000 worldwide in 2020, after adjusting for uptick associated with the pandemic.

The stark increase in alcohol and drug abuse in our country is only a precursor to the neglect people have for their own bodies. Instead of recognizing the value God places in a life, the world only considers the ways in which to bring comfort from anxiety and stress.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

One pattern of trouble leads to another type of problem, and another, until the snowball effect of trouble becomes insurmountable. For those who feel like they are buried under the weight of depression, for many the only escape is suicide.

The trouble this world is enduring is only the beginning of troubles.

Matthew 24:6-8 “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.”

The wars and rumors of wars has began, with pestilence comes famine, while earthquakes have been present for some time, the frequency of them has continued to accelerate.

The world has reason to fear.

What has always been, will no longer be. The old way of life is no longer an option. Remaining in comfort and security is a thing of the past, every person on earth has been affected by the pandemic and for good reason, the Lord is shaking out the remnants of those who will believe.

Daniel 12:1 “At that time Michael shall stand up,
The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people;
And there shall be a time of trouble,
Such as never was since there was a nation,
Even to that time.
And at that time your people shall be delivered,
Everyone who is found written in the book.”

Could we be witnessing evidence of Revelations horsemen of the apocalypse?

The Antichrist

Revelation 6:1-2 “Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, “Come and see.” And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.”

The first horseman, a conqueror with a bow and crown, rides a white horse, which scholars sometimes interpret to symbolize Christ or the Antichrist. The spirit of the antichrist is prevalent in society today, bound up in false religion or in the halls of science, there is no shortage of ideologies that are designed to dissuade people from following Christ.

I’m not one to speculate on any one individual as potential antichrist figure, I’ve always assumed that if people will only come to know the Truth in Christ alone, the false images of those who rise up against God will be exposed in due time.

Admittedly, some figures seem to fit the role better than others.

War and Bloodshed

Revelation 6:3-4 “When He opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come and see.” Another horse, fiery red, went out. And it was granted to the one who sat on it to take peace from the earth, and that people should kill one another; and there was given to him a great sword.”

As long as mankind has lived in sin there has been a consistent pattern of wars. The violence of nations has never been in question, what we are seeing today is an increase of violence in society. With the substance abuse increasing rapidly so does the desperation of those trying to feed other habits. For those who are wrestling with loss of loved ones, uncertainty of income, broken marriages, and civil unrest due to bad government, many are on edge and it shows among the people.

If the red horse of the apocalypse has been released, the bloodshed will only grow worse, not better.

Famine

Revelation 6:5-6 “When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come and see.” So I looked, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine.”

With covid has come famine. Most countries are suffering from lack of available jobs, spikes in inflation, and with quarantines the availability of food in societies have suffered as markets are closed.

The black horse may already be riding.

More than 29% of the world’s wheat supply comes from Russia and Ukraine. Currently, the Black Sea ports in Ukraine that are used to ship wheat and other agricultural goods to the United States and other parts of the world are closed. No one knows when or if they will reopen.

Most recently there has been rhetoric of nuclear threats and if this were to occur, the famines would exponentially rise. A global nuclear winter would stifle food production and the death toll would be beyond comprehension.

If there is any doubt we are living in the last days, with each subsequent event that unfolds the proof is harder to deny.

Death

Revelation 6:7-8 “When He opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come and see.” So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.”

If the pale horse is not already riding, it waits at the doorstep. This fourth, pale horse, was the personification of Death, with Hades following him, jaws open and receiving the victims slain. Death’s commission was to kill upon the Earth with all of the four judgements of God—with sword, famine, pestilence and wild beasts.

If there was ever a time for concern, the pale horse will provide ample opportunity.

Two Worlds

Psalm 34:17-20 “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.”

Today, there are two people groups in this world—the Righteous who have been set free from the sting of death and the Unrighteous, those who have forsaken the law of the Lord and His provision of grace through Christ alone.

The Lord does not forsake His anointed.

John 16:33 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

The world has been overcome because the Lord has denounced their rebellion. The philosophies of the proud are founded in an imitation of faith, faith in science, faith in reason, faith in the senses, faith in emotions, faith in a godless hope that denies accountability.

God’s anointed are those who are filled with the Spirit.

The seal of the Lord is on the heads of the saints, the life of Christ is exhibited among the throng, and it is this people the Lord plans to exalt and honor one day. The day of God drawing His people out is close at hand, all the more important to keep the faith, to not give ourselves over to the corrupt practices of substance abuse or fear, but to remain steadfast in our commitment to being a light in the darkness.

If the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse are riding, they are riding out against the world. God’s people have nothing to fear.

If you’ve struggled with committing your way to Christ, if you’ve heard His call and have been reluctant to submit, I can’t urge you enough to not delay any longer.

The time is at hand—be ready.

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