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2008 In Review

The Year In Prophecy- Part 3

By Ron Graff

Matthew 24:12

OTHER SIGNS OF THE TIMES


7 - Apostasy (and Revival)

Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold,
Matt. 24:12 (NIV)

Apostasy

Abortion

Homosexuality

Apostasy is the “falling away” of the church. The two issues of greatest concern in recent years have been abortion and homosexuality. The younger generation has been raised on post-modern views of relativism. To many of them the question is no longer, “What is truth?” Rejecting the notion of any absolute truth, they seek to define their own truth and be tolerant of what other people consider to be their truth. From this philosophical framework they do not see abortion and homosexuality as intrinsically evil.

Presidential Campaign 2008

The main focus on the abortion this year was the Presidential election. Barack Obama had the most radical abortion voting record in the U.S. Senate, while John McCain held traditional anti-abortion views and reinforced them by his choice of Sarah Palin, an outspoken pro-life governor as his vice-presidential candidate. The outcome of the elections shows an erosion of traditional values in this area.

Apostasy

The Episcopal Church

The Episcopal Church is going through a serious split over the issue of homosexual clergy. In June Anglican Bishop Gene Robinson and Mark Andrew were "married" in a civil ceremony. This was an outrage to the conservative membership of the Episcopal Church in the United States, and to the global 77 million-member Anglican Communion. The denomination had already been in upheaval since 2003 when the Episcopal Church consecrated Robinson as the first bishop known to be in an openly homosexual relationship. In July, one fourth of the 880 bishops of the Anglican Church boycotted the Lambeth conference in Canterbury, England. The church is on the brink of schism over the issue.

Conservative Anglican leaders staged their own conference in Jerusalem and pledged to form a council of bishops to provide an alternative to churches that preach a "false gospel" of sexual immorality.

California Marriage Amendment

Preserving Marriage


State Constitutional Marriage Amendments

Christians took a stand in three states on the issue of traditional marriage, approving state constitutional amendments that specify that marriage is between a man and a woman. The total number of states with such an amendment has risen to 30. California was one of the states with a marriage amendment (Prop. 8) on the ballot. Hollywood and the liberal majority in the state’s legislature fought the measure, while Evangelicals, Catholics and Mormons led the charge to victory. It was the most expensive measure on any ballot in the nation this year. It was immediately challenged by three lawsuits claiming that it was unconstitutional. The same state Supreme Court that struck down the earlier marriage initiative (Prop. 22 from the year 2000) will hear the case some time in January, 2009. Kenneth W. Starr, the former U.S. Solicitor General who led the inquiry into President Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica L. Lewinsky, will argue the case for upholding Prop. 8.

The Call

Two side-effects of the marriage amendment campaign in California were angry outbreaks against churches by opponents of the proposition, and a call to fasting and prayer for revival. Some 40,000 young Christians gathered in San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium for a 12-hour prayer and praise meeting (“The Call”) just before the elections.

Matthew 24:9


8 – Persecution

Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. - Matthew 24:9

Persecution

Persecution of Christians is a huge problem, and it is continuing to grow, both on the world scene, and here in the United States.

World Persecution

According to estimates by human rights organizations, 200 million Christians suffer discrimination for their faith. Every year 170,000 Christians die a martyr’s death. Here are a few examples from the world scene.

Ethiopia, Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti and Somalia – Civil and local wars in these African nations have taken the lives of a staggering, but not definitely known, number of Christians.

North Korea - The Center for the Study of Global Christianity estimates that there are 467,894 Christians in North Korea and 10,592 Christian martyrs each year. Open Doors ministry lists the country as the world's worst religious persecutor

Persecution

Iraq - Christians were systematically driven out of various parts of Iraq during the course of the war there. In October Christians were being persecuted in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, considered the last bastion of Christianity in the country. About 3,000 Christians fled the city in just one week to escape threats and attacks by al-Qaeda-linked Sunni Muslim groups.

China - During the Olympics this year China tried to hide the fact that they conducted a crack-down on house churches before and during the Olympics.

India - Christian persecution is on the rise all over India, but it is especially bad in Orissa. Hindu militants there force many Christians to turn over their Bibles, hymnals and images of Christ to be burned. If they fail to comply their home will be burned and they will be driven out of their village or killed. In Kandhamal more than 30 people have been killed, 3,000 homes burned and over 130 churches destroyed.

Russia - In December the Russian Ministry of Justice announced plans to "liquidate" 56 religious organizations from the country, including World Vision, Youth With A Mission, A Russian branch of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and three regional districts of the "Russian Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists," the Assemblies of God, and others. The pressure on evangelical groups is coming from a combination of resurging Russian hatred for the West, and pressure from Orthodox churches to ban outside organizations.

Persecution


Prejudice against Evangelical Christians

In October the Ecumenical Confessional Convention in Blankenburg, East Germany warned that an increase of persecution is coming to Western culture. It said that the trend is a dangerous anti-Christian influence on legislation, academic life and school education. Home-schoolers in Germany are subject to fines and imprisonment.

Marriage Amendments - After the November elections, members of a pro-homosexual, pro-anarchy organization named Bash Back lured the security staff of Mt. Hope Church in Lansing, Michigan outside the church where they were demonstrating during the church service. Then protestors who had mixed with the congregation inside stood up and began a major disruption. They shouted "Jesus was gay" and other profanities, threw flyers, condoms, and confetti into the crowd. Two women went to the pulpit and began to kiss. The congregants did not react violently, and the pastor prayed that the people so full of anger and hate would know Jesus' love in their lives.

California Marriage Amendment

Prop. 8 - Shocked California activists reacted to the passage of the Prop. 8 (marriage amendment to the state constitution) by mass rallies and protests in front of churches. Some churches were defaced with graffiti as well.

Sixty-nine-year-old Phyllis Burgess tried to show her belief in traditional marriage at a Palm Springs rally after the election. She came to the event carrying a large, Styrofoam cross. The "No on 8" demonstrators yanked the cross from her hands and trampled on it.

Opposition to Christmas - Atheists and humanists were also apparently emboldened by the elections. They promoted a number of anti-Christmas campaigns across the nation. In Washington D.C., The American Humanist Association bought ads on Metro busses that said, "Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness' sake."

The Freedom From Religion Foundation put up billboards in various places. One in Rancho Cucamonga, California had a stained glass background, and the words, “Imagine No Religion.” The words were taken from John Lennon’s song, Imagine.

In the Washington State Capital atheists were allowed to display a sign next to the nativity scene that read, in part, "Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds."

Luke 21:11


9 - Natural Disasters

There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven. - Luke 21:11

Fearful Events

Natural disasters killed over 220,000 people in 2008. The actual number of disasters was higher in 2007, but this year's catastrophes were worse in terms of the number of victims and the financial cost. Some of the events were:

Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar (Burma) - May 2-3 - This cyclone killed more than 135,000 people and left more than one million homeless. It was the worst natural disaster in the country’s history.

Earthquake in China's Sichuan province – May 12 - This 7.9 magnitude quake killed 70,000 dead, left 18,000 missing and almost five million homeless.

Hurricane Ike in Texas and other southern U.S. states – September – This was the third most destructive hurricane in U.S. history. With insured losses of 10 billion dollars, it was the industry's costliest catastrophe of the year.

In December, top scientists from the National Academy of Sciences met to try to determine the best way to detect and ward off any wandering space asteroids that might be on a collision course with Earth. Congress asked the academy to conduct the study after astronomers were unable to eliminate an extremely slight chance that an asteroid called Apophis will slam into Earth with devastating effect in 2036.

2012


10 - March toward 2012

We need to brace ourselves for a flood of speculation about the year 2012. Students of Mayan culture in South America have always known that the unique dating technologies of the Mayans includes a “Long Count” calendar that ends at the Winter Solstice (Northern Hemisphere – Summer Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere), Dec. 21, of the year 2012. It is doubtful that the Mayans themselves thought that this end would bring great disasters. Mayan scholars think they just expected a new beginning. But later speculation, New Age teaching, and some prophecies have added this fear factor.

2012

Hysterical claims – With little or no scientific evidence, claims have been made that the magnetic poles of the earth will reverse in 2012. This, of course, could cause unimaginable consequences, but we need much more scientific proof before believing this will happen.

Questionable prophecies – Some writers claim that Pacal the Great, a 7th Century Mayan king (Quetzalcoatl), who was later worshipped as a god, made a prophecy about the end-date of the calendar, but there is no general agreement about this. Others have identified one of Nostradamus’ quatrains with 2012. Nostradamus is not considered a true prophet by biblical scholars, and his writings have been interpreted to mean almost anything people want them to mean.

Sensational documentaries – The History Channel is already advertising “Nostradamus 2010”, a two-hour special on the subject. It will air on Jan. 4, 2009 at 9 p.m.

Extravagant movies – On July 10, 2009, Sony Pictures plans to release “2012,” a major movie, with a production budget of $150,000,000. The Wikipedia article gives this synopsis:

Never before has a date in history been so significant to so many cultures, so many religions, scientists, and governments. "2012" is an epic adventure about a global cataclysm that brings an end to the world and tells of the heroic struggle of the survivors.

We will be tracking this phenomenon during the next four years. It would be unfortunate if respected Christians added their prestige to this movement and were discredited along with the non-Christians when this “end-of-the-world” event fails to happen.

On the other hand, we are obviously living in the last days, and expect other apocalyptic events to increase as time goes on. We must be diligent to test everything against the Bible, the one proven source of accurate prophecy!

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Last Updated: 1/20/09

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Copyright © 2008 by Ron Graff.
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