World Urbanization: Part 2

Wilfred Hahn

We continue our series on “ripening trends” of prophetic significance seen around the world, completing our examination of worldwide urbanization. Very definitely, the manifestation of more and bigger cities qualifies as a prophetically significant trend affecting the world today.

The Bible uses the metaphor of ripening grapes to indicate the time for judgment. “Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full and the vats overflow—so great is their wickedness!” (Joel 3:13; cf. Revelation 14:18). In this sense, we indeed see that the world is ripe with last-day trends and is quickly approaching the time of fruition. However, the secular humanist will prefer to recognize “significant” new trends optimistically, as the great advances of mankind and its emancipation.

And so, our age today is “ripe” with many end-time trends. No one will doubt that the world has embarked on an accelerating course of change over recent decades and centuries. Humanity is on a rushed agenda to “rendezvous with history.” The indicators are plain to see for all who wish to see them. After all, information is more easily available to people today than ever before. Unfortunately, at the same time there is less understanding.

Thus, we are systematically identifying the “trends of significance”—this meaning worldwide developments that have recently erupted on the scene in line with Bible prophecy and the promises of the Lord. These end-time “enabling” trends, we show, are so widespread and advanced that it would be plainly unreasonable to not conclude that the times are ripe for judgment and the return of our Lord.

To date in this column, we have qualified five “significant trends”: 1. A Wealth Explosion; 2 spreading Post-Familialism; 3. Honored Elites (emergence of global plutocrats); 4. Advances of the Titans (the sudden emergence of multinational companies); and 5. Rising Asia. There are yet more ripening trends to review. We now complete our examination of the sixth “ripening” trend—World Urbanization.

Cities: No Biblical Endorsement
Generally, we see that the Bible does not reflect an approving view of great cities. Indeed, cities are necessary. Yet, according to secular anthropologists, greater urbanization tends to go hand in hand with the deterioration of the family unit, lower marriage rates, and consumerism. The value of children becomes their consumerism. As such, we note that  world demographic trends interlink with the trend of urbanization.

Commenting on demographic trends and their linkage with urbanization, says Stratfor, “The process [of declining fertility] is essentially irreversible. Why? [...] It is primarily a matter of urbanization. […] In a mature urban society, the economic value of children declines. In fact, children turn from instruments of production to objects of massive consumption.”

As seen from the Bible’s perspective, the aforementioned characteristics of urbanization are not developments that the Creator designed as preferential and most blessed for mankind.

The Bible goes further, indicting other moral pitfalls of city life. Several times it decries large cities for their violence and immorality. For example, of Nineveh, Nahum says: “Woe to the city of blood, full of lies, full of plunder, never without victims!” (Nahum 3:1). Isaiah describes Jerusalem as such: “See how the faithful city has become a prostitute! She once was full of justice; righteousness used to dwell in her—but now murderers!” (Isaiah 1:21). Sodom and Gomorrah are shown as cities at the apogee of great moral failure.

The woes of Bible prophecy are frequently addressed to cities. One characteristic noted is the potential for smugness and self-determination, the same attitude that afflicted Babel. For example, Babylon the Great boasts in her heart: “[…] I sit enthroned as queen. I am not a widow; I will never mourn” (Revelation 18:7). Sodom is said to be “arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy” (Ezekiel 16:49). Seen in this light, big cities tend to be hotbeds for both humanism and immorality.

One earthly city will be venerated as perfect some day in the future. “This is what the LORD says: ‘I will return to Zion and dwell in Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the Faithful City, and the mountain of the LORD Almighty will be called the Holy Mountain’” (Zechariah 8:3; cf. Joel 3:17). That will occur in the Millennial period. As we will yet show, there will be a final eternal “great city.” 

Points to Ponder
Today, we see a world of larger and larger cities, ever higher population density, and globalism (this being a form of a global city)—unified, smug and intent upon constructing a world apart from God. The sins of Babel are today being replicated on a massive global scale.

Here is an interesting side note that has prophetic implications: The UNPD projects Baghdad (Iraq) as being the 62nd largest city in the world by the year 2030. If we are to go by the UNPD’s forecast, it will yet be some time before Babylon (which is a southern suburb of Bagdad, Iraq) can again rise as a “great city” in the world and serve as the world’s nexus point for commerce and trade. A number of prophecy teachers do believe that a physical Babylon will again be revived to be the world’s “great city” … one that qualifies to “[reign] over the kings of the earth” (Revelation 17:18 KJV). This writer does not hold to this view. The emergence of Babylon as a “great city” would be impossible, let alone occurring within the next 7 years (the maximum time this can happen, should the imminent Rapture occur today and the Tribulation Period immediately follow).

Therefore, the “great city” of Babylon mentioned in Revelation twice cannot be interpreted to indicate a physical re-emergence of ancient Babylon. A commercial “great city” has already engulfed the world, in this writer’s opinion.

The trend of urbanization definitely qualifies as a “ripening trend.” It meets at least seven of our “ripening” criteria. It is an emerging trend that shows “acceleration” … particularly so since the 1800s. Up to that point in human history, urbanization was relatively stable.

It is a trend that shows acceleration in the recent past, and suddenness. We find ourselves asking, why is urbanization occurring now and not at some other time in history? Yes, it is a trend attributed to industrialization. However, then we must ask, why did industrialization take off when it did? The very improbability and inexplicability of this trend indicates another sign of “significance.”

Also, urbanization is undoubtedly a development with global impact and scale. It has confluence or interconnection with another accelerating trend of “significance”—interweaving and reinforcing demographic developments. And, finally, it is a trend that reflects humanism and breeds immorality.

But, where in the Bible is it prophesied that urbanization will occur—or be a symptom of the last days? All seven indicators of significance are noted, but to this point we have not yet referred to any biblical passage about future conglomerations taking place.

We cannot find any such specific statement in the Bible. However, we do note many aligning developments. The 7 indicators of “significance” are compelling proof. But biblical provenance of this development remains important nonetheless.

We can point to several supportive deductions. For example, the word pairing “great city” occurs only 13 times in the Bible. This word pairing is found nowhere outside the prophetic books of the Bible. Revelation alone refers to a “great city” 8 times (also, “mighty city” once). No mention of any “great city” is found elsewhere in the New Testament. This writer does not believe it accidental that “great city” is linked with prophetic events.

In the end, there is one more alignment that is significant. It is a wonderful and benevolent outcome, considering mankind’s poor experience with cities. We observe that God provides the final version of a city … a virtuous one … a “great city.” It is called the New Jerusalem: “[…] that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God” (Revelation 21:10 KJV). Among a number of features, it also has a “great street” (Revelation 21:21; 22:2). 

In a sense, we may see that the world’s immoral cities finally have their redemption in the form of the New Jerusalem. Just as God redeems people, so also eventually the great city.

Midnight Call - 03/2020

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