Signs of the times and the coming of Christ!
Have you ever travelled along a twisting and narrow road hoping that there is no other vehicle approaching the same tricky corner at the same time? Or have you walked along a winding path wondering what you are going to see around the corner, hoping that you will get a new insight into how near you are to your journey’s end?
Things that are happening in today’s world are a bit like that for some people. We seem to be turning a corner, but nobody is very sure what lies around it. The explosion of people power in Tunisia and Egypt has been caused by years of repression and perceived unfairness. Young educated people have lived without any real prospects of advancement, or even employment, whilst other sectors of society have had a really good lifestyle. So they came out on the streets to protest and to demand a change of government, one which would give them a greater share of the country’s wealth and more representation. But protest is one thing and reconstructing a society is another, much harder, task.
The present impasse in Libya demonstrates that people who are in power will not readily relinquish that and for as long as their supporters are willing to uphold them and, if necessary, die for them, they will hang on to what they have. Nor have the opponents of Muammar Gaddafi – the “Brother Leader and Guide of the Revolution” – a coherent plan of what they would do should they persuade him and his family to leave Libya. The ‘rebels’ have no obvious leader and apart from a widespread desire for “freedom”, they appear to have no plans and no policies.
The result of this upheaval in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya might be more apparent by the time you read these words but, at the time of writing, the future for the three countries is uncertain and unstable. Perhaps Muslim fundamentalists will get the upper hand and will impose Sharia – the sacred law of Islam.
Perhaps a western style of democracy will emerge and nations will begin to live together in peaceful cooperation. Maybe Egypt’s ‘cool’ peace treaty with Israel will warm up and the two nations will cooperate more. Perhaps Libya’s alleged support of terrorist groups will end and the world will become a more peaceful and more harmonious place. Perhaps so, but perhaps not!
There is a way of ensuring that you don’t live in a way which takes you heedlessly around a corner to crash into someone coming the other way. You can find out what the future holds by reading the Bible and understanding God’s plan for the future. Then you will have some idea of how near we are to the end of the road and, despite some uncertainties, you will get reassurance about the future.
Someone who went to the trouble of counting up the number of verses in the Bible which foretell coming events discovered that of the entire Bible’s 31,124 verses 8,352 contain predictive material – that’s 27 per cent of the whole. So more than a quarter of the Bible is looking forward to events that are (or were) coming and the way in which these predictions have been fulfilled can give us real confidence for the future.
For the God who foretold the fall and abandonment of the ancient city and the collapse of the Babylonian empire (ancient Iraq) also foretold the return of the Jewish people to their ancient land. The prediction about Babylon was only a few hundred years in advance of its fulfilment. The prophecy about the return of the Jews to their ancient nation was given thousands of years in advance, and it has been (and is being) fulfilled precisely.
The prophets said that the Jews would return to the land of Israel surrounded by enemies and the sort of enmity that has existed from ancient times, when Jews and Arabs were equally unable to live together in peace (see Ezekiel 35:5). So it has worked out. It could have been different, as well-meaning statesmen hoped would be the case when the land was partitioned. But that was not destined to happen.
Instead the prophets foretell an increase of hatred and animosity towards Israel and its almost total isolation among world nations. So Bible readers are not hopeful that any regime changes in the Middle East will lead to a widespread recognition of Israel’s right to exist. Quite the contrary, for we are now living in the last times. The return of the Jews to Jerusalem signals the imminent return from heaven of the Lord Jesus Christ to rule on King David’s throne in Jerusalem and he will come to rescue a nation that is on the brink of destruction.
Jesus is Coming!
Here’s just one prophetic insight about that Coming:
Behold, the day of the LORD is coming, and your spoil will be divided in your midst. For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem; the city shall be taken, the houses rifled, and the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity, but the remnant of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle. And in that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east ... (Zechariah 14:1-4).
Right at the centre of international concern, the city Jerusalem will feature in God’s future plans. At a time when nations are warring over whose city it really is, God will repossess it as His own. For the Coming King – the Lord Jesus Christ – is to reign there over the worldwide Kingdom of God. That regime change has been well prepared and will come about in God’s good time, to benefit all who are willing to welcome a ruler of absolute integrity and perfect self control. That’s what God has in store for the world and now it’s just around the corner!