What an amazing year this has been for those who follow Bible prophecy. It is almost too much to summarize, but we will give it a try.
We are presenting the major prophecy issues of the year 2011 in ascending order of importance this year. One of the reasons for doing this
is that the issues are becoming increasingly complicated, so we will show the shorter/ easier issues first and hopefully build the momentum
it will take to give our serious attention to the longer articles.
Documentation for every aspect of this report may be found on the corresponding topic pages in Prophecy Central and Apologetics Central.
Scripture quotations are from the New International Version. Hypertext links to Scriptures are to the King James Version in the Blue Letter Bible.
10 - 2012 MAYAN CALENDAR/ APOCALYPSE?
Unfortunately, this may be the most popular prophecy-related topic, judging by the number of books that are available on the subject and the
media attention it has received. However, like the many other kinds of non-biblical prophecy, such as astrology, the predictions of psychics,
or the ancient writings of people like Nostradamus, these predictions are not to be taken seriously.
The Mayan Long Count calendar ends at the Winter Solstice in 2012. Their calendar is based on their excellent astronomical observations.
According to Mayan historians, this calendar is like others. When the cycle ends, it starts over again. The idea of an apocalypse at that point was not evidently a part of their belief system.
The doomsday theories stem from a pair of tablets discovered in the 1960s at the archaeological site of Tortuguero in the Gulf of Mexico.
They described the return of a Mayan god at the end of the 13th period.
Bible prophecy scholars do not put any stock in this theory. Neither do scientists from NASA. At Prophecy Central we do maintain a 2012 page
where we will post interesting updates and link you to NASA.
9 - TECHNOLOGY
The greatest technological story is the continued improvement of smart phones. In 2012 it is likely that more smart phones will be sold than
personal computers. Researchers say they will continue to make incredible progress in the near future. Here are some of their predictions:
NFC - Near Field Communications - "Pay with your phone"
Some smart phones already have this feature that will not only allow the user to pay for things by waving the phone near the sales terminal,
but also keep track of their financial transactions. Soon most or all new phones will have this capability, eventually making debit and credit cards obsolete.
LTE - Long Term Evolution - This is the description of newer, faster "generations" of mobile service (3G- 3rd Generation and 4G - 4th
Generation - also called LTE Advanced).
GPU - Graphics Processing Unit - This is additional computing power that will enhance games, photos, video editing, and video phone service.
Multiple cameras and greater photo resolution - 12 megapixels, larger screens, and high resolution - 1280 x 720 pixels, and going up!
Multiple keyboards and voice recognition becoming more efficient - The current ability of some smart phones to recognize voice commands and
respond to them verbally will advance to the point that the phone will become a personal assistant.
4-core processors next year and 8-core soon - Memory capability of 16 gigabytes is available now and it will grow as needed. More data storage
will be going to "cloud" storage on the Internet.
Ability to process, store, print and transmit all necessary office documents and personal files.
Continued Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) functionality for mapping, navigation, even knowing where family members are.
More than a million helpful applications - free or relatively inexpensive
Mark of the Beast
There are definite prophetic implications in this continued development of smart phones. Prophecy students know that in the End Times there
will be a final evil world government with a dictator whom the Bible calls "The Beast." At the midpoint of a seven-year period of tribulation,
this despot will have an image of himself erected in the newly rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem, and he will require people to worship him and to
receive the "Mark of the Beast" which one must have to be able to buy or sell anything.
The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship
the image to be killed. It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on
their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.
- Revelation 13:15-17
Mark of the Beast
The capabilities of smart phones, and some of problems they can cause, would make this economic dictatorship plausible.
Between smartphones and the exploding culture of social networking (Facebook, Google, etc.) there has been a loss of privacy for many users.
Pictures taken with smart phones may be tagged with GPS data that can be shown as a street address. The unintended result is that strangers
will know where the picture was taken.
It was also revealed recently that millions of smart phones have software installed that enables phone companies to track their every move -
from place to place. It also transmits every keystroke and button press. What might never be known is what other secret "back door" features
programmers will have included to allow invasion of our privacy.
There is an even bigger problem. Once the smart phone has all our personal data and becomes our universal commerce device, and maybe even has
a large amount of money stored electronically, what will happen if we lose it? Would someone else be able to take over our finances and have
access to all our secret information? Losing one's phone would be worse than losing one's or one's car.
The solution will be to make the phone useless to anyone but its rightful owner. This could be done with a tiny Radio Frequency
Identification (RFID) device implanted in the owner. Thus the smart phone would not work unless it was near its owner. Meanwhile, the phone
could be located by its built-in GPS device. And what criminal would want to take the phone if he couldn't use it, and it leads the police
to his door?
In the future, when the "Mark of the Beast" is instituted, people may be willing to have some small device installed that would only allow
them to use their own smart phone.
See Ron's Blog
The Internet, e-books, and the Information Age
- "But you, Daniel, roll up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge."
- Daniel 12:4
Amazon is now selling more e-books for its Kindle reader than it is selling traditional paperback books. Of course the iPad and other tablets
are also popular devices for reading e-books. In fact, smart phones will also handle them but the smaller screen is an obstacle for many readers.
A growing percentage of modern scholarship depends on access to the Internet. An incredible wealth of knowledge is available for free, and
electronic versions of books are relatively inexpensive. Imagine what a loss it will be to those who do not receive the Mark of the Beast
when they are cut off from the Internet. Will a Christian underground find another way to supply information to believers?
8 - NATURAL DISASTERS AND PLAGUES
- Then he said to them: "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and
pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven." - Luke 21:10-11
Earthquakes and Tsunamis
Earthquakes and tsunamis have been a growing concern, especially since the startling destruction caused by the Indonesian tsunami in
December of 2004. That earthquake had a magnitude of 9.0 and its tidal wave travelled at the speed of a jet airplane some 3000 miles,
reaching Thailand, India, and even Africa. Approximately 330,000 people died.
The Haiti quake in January of 2010 measured 7.0, but because of poor building standards the toll of that quake may have been 250,000
(estimates vary greatly).
In March of this year people all over the earth watched in horror as the pictures of another great tsunami were shown on television.
The tsunami followed a magnitude 8.9 quake in Japan, the largest in the country's history. The earthquake was so powerful that some areas of
the Japanese city of Ishinomaki moved 17 feet to the southeast and sank 4 feet. Twice each day, at high tide, the city is flooded with
knee-deep water. At the end of the year the toll stands at nearly 20,000 people dead or missing, and approximately 335,000 people still
living as evacuees.
Studies released this year indicate that there is reason to believe that earthquake activity is increasing. Especially since the beginning
of the new millennium, the number of major quakes has risen steadily.
In August there was a 5.8 temblor in the Virginia/ Washington D.C. area where earthquakes are rare. It was their largest quake in a century.
It caused cracks in the Washington Monument, the National Cathedral, and many other buildings and historical sites.
Scientists blame the construction of dams for some of the increased earthquake activity. Globally, there are over 90 identified sites of earthquakes
triggered by the filling of water reservoirs.
Extreme Weather and other "Fearful Events"
Fearful events and great signs from the heavens could include disastrous weather, modern threats, like asteroids, space junk, solar flares, and
even UFO scares
Some years are worse than others in this area, but this year has been a serious eye-opener! Those who don't believe prophecy just chalk it up
to global warming. On the other extreme, some Christians try to find a direct cause for every great storm or disaster. Of course we know that
God could use (and sometimes has used) natural disasters as a punishment or a call to repentance. However, the Bible also teaches that "He causes
his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous" (Matthew 5:45).
New York experienced record snowfall in January and the warmest nights on record in July (84 degrees- July 22). A rare hurricane struck the city.
The rest of the country also experienced catastrophic weather including hurricanes from the Gulf, the worst tornado season ever, uncontrollable
fires in Texas, and 140 mph winds in Southern California. By the end of October, President Obama had declared a record-breaking 90 disasters
in 2011. Twelve of these cost more than a billion dollars. What's more, the chief of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said
that this year's disasters are "a harbinger of things to come."
The rest of the globe also had its share of harsh weather. There was a long-lasting flood in Australia that was twice the size of Texas.
In Thailand, more than 600 people died from the extensive flooding. Their monsoon season was the worst they have experienced in over 50 years.
- The floodwaters swamped entire towns as they moved south through the country's central heartland to Bangkok and the Gulf of Thailand. More
than two-thirds of the country's 77 provinces have been flooded during the four-month-long crisis.
The Philippines also experienced intense flooding on the Island of Mindano. Typhoon Washi has claimed at least 1,079 people and more than 1000
others are still missing.
Another threat may be coming to Earth sometime between 2012 and 2014 when the Sun reaches its so-called Solar-Max, or peak of its 11-year
cycle of activity. If a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) happens to release its explosive power directly toward Earth, the resulting
electromagnetic fluctuations can cause failure of our power grids and satellites (including communications, GPS signals and aircraft
navigation). It could take up to 10 years to repair the damage.
Famines and Pestilences
A lack of food is the direct result of two prominent End-Times predictions: Wars and Natural Disasters. Famine is listed by Jesus as a
sign of the times in the period leading up to the Tribulation. He said, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
There will be famines and earthquakes in various places." -Matthew 24:7
At the end of this year about 22,000 children die every day from malnutrition. Half of the people of the world live on less than $2.50 per day.
Their diet is plant based with wheat bread, corn or rice providing most of the calories.
There is a huge problem with hunger in Somalia, but analysts believe that this, and most other great famines, is less a product of drought,
and more the result of corrupt or incapable politics.
The world-changing Arab Spring of this year began with a revolt against rising food prices. Our planet now has 7 billion people, and most of
them are very poor.
According to the Book of Revelation famine will be even worse during the Tribulation Period (Revelation 6:5-6).
The failure of Japan's Fukishima No. 1 nuclear power plant after their 9.0 earthquake and tsunami was an extremely serious development.
Three reactors suffered core meltdowns. The accident was declared to be a "Level 7," which is the most severe stage, equal to the 1986
Chernobyl disaster in the former Soviet Union. Massive amounts of radiation were released into the atmosphere and sea water, and the
surrounding cities have become a "no-man's land." I will take 30 to 40 years to fully decommission the reactors. Fortunately, no deaths
are yet attributed to the radiation, but only time will tell how much cancer will result from the exposure.
"Super-bugs" are diseases that have become resistant to medication. There are also new diseases for which there is no adequate cure.
One such threat was the H5N1 virus, or "Bird Flu." Few humans contracted it because it was not airborne. However, Dutch scientists at
Rotterdam's Erasmus Medical Centre have altered the genetic structure of this strain of avian influenza so that it is airborne. Thus,
the disease may be spread by merely coughing or sneezing. The experiment is being called irresponsible because the disease is now potentially
capable of killing millions of people. Researchers have been asked not to publish all the details of their discovery.
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