On October 22, 1962, U.S. President John F. Kennedy told his nation and the world: “It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.” For a time, many were almost certain that a devastating attack, and response, would come.
I personally remember seeing the empty shelves of my neighborhood supermarket as thousands of neighbors had begun stockpiling food in panic. They were not alone. “‘You got the sense that even there, people in New York were scared.’ Mayor Robert F. Wagner called for a recruiting campaign for civil defense volunteers, and schoolchildren practiced duck-and-cover drills” (New York Times, October 28, 2012).
Dozens of U.S. B-52 bombers had been flying 24 hours a day, seven days a week, ready at any moment to retaliate against a Soviet attack. The U.S. Strategic Air Command was operating at Defense Readiness Condition 2—DEFCON 2—one step below DEFCON 1, a full-out nuclear war.
Behind the scenes, negotiations continued. The Atlantic magazine online published a photo-essay recounting those dangerous days leading to the dramatic resolution when, on October 27, Khrushchev and Kennedy reached a secret agreement. “Kennedy would order the removal of missiles in southern Italy and Turkey, and Khrushchev would remove all missiles in Cuba. Over the following weeks, U.S. forces monitored the departure of 42 missiles aboard eight Soviet ships, and the crisis was averted.”
Fifty years ago, our world came very close to Armageddon, hardly more than a decade after General Douglas MacArthur had characterized the state of the world in his farewell address to the U.S. Congress: “Military alliances, balances of power, leagues of nations, all in turn failed, leaving the only path to be the way of the crucible of war. The utter destructiveness of war now blocks out this alternative. We have had our last chance. If we will not devise some greater and more equitable system, our Armageddon will be at our door” (April 19, 1951).
Since MacArthur’s speech, has the world devised “some greater and more equitable system”? No! Will Armageddon soon “be at our door”? Your Bible reveals a great prophetic climactic battle, popularly referred to as “Armageddon,” described in Revelation 16:14, when “the kings of the earth and of the whole world” will gather for “the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” This present age will end with a climactic battle between the forces of good and evil, and the returning Jesus Christ—the coming King of kings—will win that battle (Revelation 19:1-21)!
Even those who do not take the Bible seriously admit the danger of nuclear catastrophe. On January 10, 2012, The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists moved the minute hand of their symbolic doomsday clock one minute closer to midnight. They announced, “[F]ailure to act on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty by leaders in the United States, China, Iran, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Israel, and North Korea and on a treaty to cut off production of nuclear weapons material continues to leave the world at risk from continued development of nuclear weapons. The world still has approximately 19,500 nuclear weapons, enough power to destroy the earth’s inhabitants several times over.”
The Bulletin announced: “It is five minutes to midnight.” The scientists concluded their announcement with this sobering warning: “The Clock is ticking.”
Thankfully, there is hope beyond the coming Armageddon, for those who repent and obey their Savior. To learn more, order your own free printed copy of our booklet Armageddon and Beyond, or read it online.