Commentary on world events that relate to Bible prophecy and on Rapture Ready issues world events.

Dec 27, 2010

Year in Review

The year 2010 is rapidly coming to a close. Since this will be the last "Nearing Midnight" article for the year, I thought I’d review what has occurred over the last twelve months, and how these events have impacted Bible prophecy.

The most significant event of the year is the number of natural disasters. The year 2010 was the deadliest in more than a generation. Earthquakes, heat waves, floods, volcanoes, super typhoons, blizzards, landslides and droughts killed more than 260,000 people. Last year only saw 15,000 deaths from natural disasters.

"It just seemed like it was back-to-back and it came in waves," said Craig Fugate, who heads the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency. It handled a record number of disasters in 2010. “The term '100-year event' really lost its meaning this year."

Most of the deaths were related to the January earthquake that struck Haiti. Because the vast majority of quakes follow a random pattern, their impact on populated areas is reduced. The Haiti trembler had the marking of judgment because it repeatedly hit the bull’s eye. It struck at the right depth, distance, and magnitude. When the Chile quake followed with a strength not seen in a decade, I could only wonder if a new level of divine wrath was being unleashed.

The second most important event of 2010 is the global debt crisis. The U.S. started the year with $12.4 trillion in debt and ended the year nearing $14 trillion in the red. Two European nations required a bailout to avoid default, and several more have moved closer to financial collapse.

The debt problem is not just about national governments spending too much money. During this year we learned our states and most major cities were facing a hopeless situation with unfunded pension plans. We also learned that most of our large banks have balance sheets that are insolvent. If things weren’t bad enough, we’re starting to see how the massive $1 trillion student loan program is a dam ready to burst.

The third most important event of this year would have to be the sudden flood of new rules that give the government greater control of our lives. Under the cover of a need for protection against terrorism, our nation is becoming surveillance society.

I think we passed a very dangerous milestone when the Transportation Security Administration was given the authority to require the flying public to either pass through body-scanning machines showing naked images of the travelers to a TSA agent or endure a physical patdown that would qualify as sexual groping.

Unless there is a check on the growing power of organizations like the TSA, we are doomed to follow the same playbook that led to autocratic rule in countless nations. It is still very early, but immediate action is needed. Once a classic police state is formed, its first order of business is to silence all opposition.

I think the most important occurrence of 2010 would have to be the sad state of prophetic awareness. While RR has weathered the storm, dozens of other prophecy sites have fallen by the wayside. I know of at least six major sites that have shuttered their whole operations or that have only token sites on the net.

Earlier this month, Terry and I went to the Pre-Tribulation study group in Dallas, Texas . For the first time in nineteen years, the gathering had a significant downturn in its attendance. I spoke with the heads of several prophetic ministries and most of them talked about the difficulty they are having in getting people to hear the end-time message. One pastor told me, “You tell people what is going on, and it’s like you are preaching to dead air.”

It doesn’t seem logical that we would have such an active year for end-time signs and yet prophetic awareness is down. Jesus said this is exactly how the days leading up to the rapture would play out. We are in the "think not" hour – a time when the devil would be allowed to seed distraction ahead of the tribulation.

I thank God for all you folks who understand what is taking place and have remained watchful. I can’t guarantee that the Lord will return in 2011, but I do know that we have reached the unique point in time for which we are called to remain ready.

"Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of man cometh" (Matt. 24:44).

-- Todd

Scanning a Fearful Future: Part 6

There are so many ominous signals of stage-setting for fulfillment of Bible prophecy in every direction we look that even secular fascination with things to come is piqued. One such example is the History Channel’s “Nostradamus Effect” series in which I was asked to participate. One of the most immediately troubling signals that threatens apocalyptic disruption of world stability is the very probable collapse of the global economy, which we’ve been examining. There is little doubt, using even a modicum of rationale, that monetary madness infects the entire planet. We will now peer through God’s prophetic lenses into the portentous future nearest us.

The title I’ve chosen for this exploration, “Scanning a Fearful Future,” envelops all of Glenn Beck and Hal Lindsey’s thoughts about the dire immediate future for America and the world. If their extremely similar assessments of what this generation faces is truly about to take place, my answer to the recent question to the worried email sender–representative of many such trepidacious emailers--must be given quickly. The emailer, after prefacing his question by saying that Lindsey stated persecution is coming for Christians, asked: “…persecution for Christians has to be very close. What is your take on this?”

First, I must rephrase his question to get to the heart of what he and so many others are asking. The question they mean to ask is: “…Persecution for the church in America has to be very close. What is your take on this?”

Believers in Jesus Christ–the born again (John 3:3)—are being persecuted around the globe at this very moment. Many are suffering torture and martyrdom. Members of the true church of Jesus Christ have always suffered and died, and will do so right up until Christ’s call, “Come up hither!” (Rev. 4: 2). So, what American Christians are concerned about in regard to this question is whether Christians in the United States will suffer the level of persecution endured by believers like those in, for example, the Sudan. For that matter, the question implies asking whether American believers will suffer to a major extent in any way whatever. Hal Lindsey expressed in several of his TV programs that he believed Christians in America will suffer persecutions, and, I infer, he was speaking of persecutions of the fearful sort–those that might include loss of life in martyrdom. This fearful future, again I infer, will likely be part of a severe societal/cultural breakdown brought about by economic cataclysm. This, as pointed out previously, is much like Glenn Beck’s forecast for Americans in general.

My answer to the emailer and others who continue to ask similar questions is that I don’t believe Christians in America are prophetically scheduled for severe persecution like that being experienced by those in Sudan, China, and other such places around the globe.

Now I can almost hear the clicking of emails being typed. Some are already conjuring the questioning flames of retort. “Do you think American Christians are too good to suffer persecution?”; “Do you think America is God’s pet nation? –That the U.S. doesn’t deserve judgment?!” Please…save your fingers the pain from the white-hot irritation shooting from your keyboard. I agree completely with you. American Christians are NOT too good to be persecuted. The U.S. does deserve judgment. There is no argument there. Now, please allow me to give my scripturally based reasoning in disagreeing with Dr. Lindsey on these matters.

I begin by inserting this caveat about my assertion that American Christians won’t suffer persecution of the most heinous sort. My belief in this regard is predicated upon my prayerfully studied understanding that the world as we know it would have to first come tumbling down, then rearrange to be configured exactly as it is now in order to accommodate American Christians going into such persecution as feared by my emailer.

That world crash, then turn-around, just isn’t going to happen. Everything is in place for Bible prophecy to unfold. Based upon this reality, my case follows in presenting why I’m so sure that what I believe about things to come in the very near future correctly diverges from what Dr. Lindsey and Mr. Beck say they believe is about to happen.

Each is certain that the United States is facing economic catastrophe that will bring about food and other shortages, thus will engender rioting that will bring anarchy and collapse. Lindsey’s fears are less adamantly presented than Beck’s, but the implication that such is in the very near future is there in Hal’s TV program narratives. While Beck doesn’t consider anything regarding true Bible prophecy at all, Hal Lindsey believes that severe persecution for Christians is also in that bleak future.

To briefly state my “take,” in answer to my emailer, I believe that America will not suffer catastrophic collapse while Christians (true believers in Jesus Christ) remain on planet earth. You and I–whether believer or nonbeliever--are, I’m firmly convinced, members of the most privileged generation in history. We are alive at the very end of this fascinating moment in human advancement. For believers, however, the privilege is magnified beyond imagination.

Believers in Jesus Christ are alive during this end of the Church Age for a divinely appointed purpose. We are witnesses to and participants in the very time the Lord Jesus Christ Himself prophesied would see Him revealed in spectacular fashion. The prospect for those who name the name of Christ is truly glorious.

While “Scanning a Fearful Future” is an accurate title for purposes of this examination of things to come, an equally appropriate title for those who are born again would have been “Scanning a Fabulous Future." We will conclude next week with specifically what I believe the near future holds for believers and nonbelievers alike.