Every year at this time we issue a recap of the top stories from the past year that relate to Bible prophecy. It is always a long report because there is so much drama in the world as we drift toward the End Times. This year we have decided to do two things about this trend.
First, we will issue a free downloadable hypertext book with the full report. It will be titled
2012: THE YEAR THE WORLD DIDN’T END.
It will still be a few days before the book is finished. As some of you may know our precious first child, Judi, died in an accident at the beginning of December, and our lives have been moving in slow motion for the past few weeks.
The other thing we are doing is to give you a short list of Prophecy Central’s most important prophecy-related stories during the year. We will just list them and make brief comments about them here. The book will give greater detail and in a different order. Here is the list:
2012 in Review: The Year in Prophecy
2-Rumors of War
5-Antichrist/ False Prophecies
10-Signs in the Heavens/Fearful Events
Unfortunately, wars and rumors of wars dominate the news and have a definite connection with the End Times predicted in the Bible (Matthew 24:6). As usual, there are about 40 wars and conflicts festering in the world, most of which we are blissfully unaware. On the other hand, some of these wars are constantly on the front pages of the news. Ever since Israel became a nation in 1948 there have been conflicts with the Palestinians who share the land. Terrorist activities, from suicide attacks in the past to rocket attacks in the present have caused great concern among Israelis, and periodic retaliation by the Israeli military. Hamas terrorists in the Gaza strip have launched more than 2000 rockets into Israel this year. And In November (while I was there, leading a tour!) Israel struck back with air attacks for eight punishing days. There is little left of the years of work on a peace process, and the Palestinians are seeking acceptance as a separate state without a peace agreement with Israel.
The “Arab Spring” is old news now. After nearly two years, the countries most affected – Egypt and Libya have fallen into Islamic control under Sharia law.
The American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have produced little hope of true democracy in the region.
Syria has been the scene of a dreadful civil war for nearly two years, leaving at least 45,000 people dead, more than a million in refugee status, and a very doubtful outcome.
2-Rumors of War
A variety of important issues in our current world would qualify under Jesus’ prediction of “rumors of war” (Mark 13:7). Foremost among these is Iran’s nuclear ambition. Though they deny it, it is obvious that they are pursuing the development of nuclear weapons and are actually very close to reaching their goal. The leaders of Iran have repeatedly called for a world without Israel, so, unlike nuclear powers of the past, it is likely that they will use their weapons of mass destruction against Israel if they are allowed to produce the weapons.
Terrorism has been a factor in our world for a long time, but since the attacks on September 11, 2001, the fear of other great terrorist acts has been a constant matter of concern. Osama bin Laden is dead, but Al Qaida is stronger than ever. Our own Ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed by an Al Qaida attack there a few months ago, and no one has been brought to justice about the matter. The Muslim Brotherhood, which spawned the Hamas terrorists in Gaza and was banned in Egypt before the Arab Spring, has taken control of the Egyptian government and caused great persecution of Christians in the country.
Other matters of potential war are: the EMP threat – the possibility of a high-altitude nuclear explosion over our own country that would do irreparable damage to our electrical grid and computers; Cyberwar – the ability of computer programmers to shut down vital processes and steal secret information; A new and growing Cold War between the United States and Russia; and the military build-up of countries like North Korea, Pakistan, and China.
Not all Christians see this the same way, but it is safe to say that the vast majority of evangelicals were seriously disappointed by the outcome of the elections because of the clear moral differences that were at stake and because of the slide toward socialism and the unsupportable burden of entitlements. We must remember that God is in control, and we might need a wakeup call that can only come by experiencing bad government.
But God is the Judge:
He puts down one,
And exalts another. – Psalm 75:7
Fallen humanity is naturally selfish and prejudiced, so racism and persecution of people who are different is a world-wide problem. However, it is especially focused against Christianity (Matthew 24:9). With more than 200 million (!!) persecuted Christians in the world, it is a growing problem, especially in Communist and Radical Islamic countries. They are being driven out of the Middle East in such numbers that some predict there will be no openly Christian believers there in the future. Even in the United States there is a noticeable rise in opposition to Christians, especially if they take a stand on the moral issues of the day.
5-Antichrist/ False Prophecies
We cannot know who Antichrist will be before he is revealed during the Tribulation (2 Thessalonians 2:3-12), and even then most people will consider him a messiah who can finally deliver the world from its’ great problems. But what we can know is that the world is getting more ready than ever before for a powerful charismatic leader who might be able to turn things around.
One obvious preparation for Antichrist is the rapidly-advancing technology that will undoubtedly be used for him to impose the Mark of the Beast at the mid-point of the Tribulation (Revelation 13). Quantum leaps in computer technology, the Internet, and devices like the smart phone are undoubtedly paving the way for that time of economic dictatorship.
False prophets and their messages are also a problem. One of these, the so-called Mayan prophecy about the end of the world on Dec. 21, 2012, obviously did not come true. In fairness, it should be said that Mayan experts had told us long ago that the end of their long-count calendar did not really mean destruction. It would only start a new cycle of time.
Ever since the world-wide economic melt-down that began in 2008, the U.S. has also suffered economically. At the moment we are facing the so-called “fiscal cliff,” meaning the end of the year when tax cuts of the Bush era will no longer be in effect, and drastic cuts to our military establishment will be imposed. We have suffered runaway spending for many years, and are in danger of leaving an unmanageable debt to our children. If our governmental leaders cannot find a way to turn this crisis around, it could very well be the reason the U.S. is not mentioned in prophecy. We are rapidly losing our leadership in the world.
Daniel 2 predicts a final evil world empire. If the United States declines, leaving no world superpower, the time might be right for the emergence of that entity out of the political and economic chaos of the world.
2 Timothy 4:2-4 says that the time will come when people will gather teachers around themselves who will preach what they want to hear. In order for this to happen they will have to stop paying attention to the Bible as the Word of God. While there are still many Christians who cling to the truth of Scripture, there is a growing majority of so-called Christians who really don’t care what it says. With that mindset, and pastors and teachers who will ignore whatever is difficult in the Bible, we are drifting away from biblical morality, as evidenced in part by the movement toward acceptance of homosexual marriage. While we agree that Christians should approach those who disagree with love and understanding, it is still a sin, and the Bible makes this abundantly clear. Our concern for those who practice this lifestyle, as in the case of all other sins, should be for their deliverance from it.
Another strong sign of the apostasy is the lack of interest in prophecy in the majority of churches. When missions were strong and the church was revived there was great interest in this subject, which comprises more than a quarter of the Bible.
Lawlessness is also a critical issue in our generation In 2 Timothy 3:1-6 there is also a warning that people will be violent lawbreakers who only care about themselves. The recent massacre of 26 people including 20 Kindergartners in Connecticut is one of many such travesties.
Our greatest hope in these dark times is that Christians in America will experience repentance and that the Lord will send us a refreshing End Times revival! The Bible tells us that God does not want any to perish. For that reason, He always gave opportunity to sinners to repent before allowing judgment to fall on their city or nation. In the case of Nineveh (Book of Jonah), there was a great revival when the people realized that they deserved judgment. There are some encouraging signs about revival, not only here, but around the world. In the forthcoming free book we will share stories about the incredible growth of the Church in spite of persecution, the spread of the Gospel in developing countries, and major developments, some of them supernatural, to win Muslims to Christ.
This was not the worst year for earthquakes, tsunamis, storms, famines, and plagues, but there were some major disasters, such as our own super-storm Sandy, which devastated much of the East Coast. We can expect the frequency and severity of these events that are beyond our control to gradually increase as we approach the End Times.
10-Signs in the Heavens/Fearful Events
In Luke 21:10-11 Jesus said that there would be fearful events and great signs in the heavens in the days leading to the End Times. One obvious possibility for this is the Mayan calendar scare based on the position of the Earth in relation to the rest of the Universe. Other fearful things from the heavens might include solar storm, UFO’s, space junk, the threat of an EMP attack (see wars above), and man-made interference with the atmosphere. At the end of this year we just received news that a previously unknown comet (Ison) will visit our atmosphere next year, be visible much of the time, and be brighter than the Moon at some point. At least it is not on a collision course with our planet!
As you can see, these are definitely the kind of times Jesus and the prophets said would come. However, we should not be afraid, because the bad times are just a prelude to a wonderful new chapter in our history. Jesus will return to put a stop to the evil, will rule in righteousness for 1000 years, then usher in a “New Heaven and New Earth” (Revelation chapters 20 through 23)! In the meanwhile, let us heed Peter’s advice: “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,” - 2 Peter 3:11
For more information on any of these issues, visit Prophecy Central and use the search feature. You may also click on the Study Topics button near the top left of the home page, and browse to the subject you would like to review. Of course, Scripture references are listed on the topic pages and in the forthcoming book.
If you need help seeing the “big picture” of prophecy we recommend our book, Connecting the Dots: A Handbook of Bible Prophecy.
ALSO COMING SOON!
As soon as the new free book is finished we will begin a daily installment of a new commentary on the Book of Revelation. It will focus on a few verses (or few words) each day, starting with chapter 1, verse 1! We expect that it will take about a year to carefully consider each word of this amazing book. It is the only book in the Bible with this kind of promise:
Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near. – Revelation 1:3
Visit Prophecy Central daily to keep up with what is happening in these most-important days, and take a couple of minutes to get your “daily dose” of the Book of Revelation.