God sent us the prosperity of the 1920s to show that He loves us, but we didn’t listen, so He sent us the Depression as an increasing attempt to inspire us to “call on His Name, humbling ourselves and praying, seeking His face, and turning from our wicked ways.” But we did not. Thus, the world turned its back on the Jews, and Hitler’s genocidal extermination machine closed in on them. Few acted to help until it was too late. A third of the world’s Jewish population—six million men, women, and children—were lost with little hope of salvation.
Look around: We are going through much the same cycle today. The prosperity of the 1990s made us even more selfish than we were in the decades before. September 11th and its aftermath hit us far worse than the stock market crash on Black Tuesday of 1929. What was one of the main causes of the Depression? A new concept that had been introduced at that time called “buying on credit.” The entire nation had borrowed to buy things. The economy soared because of increased consumer spending, and when the debts were called in, too few had the cash to pay. America lapsed into the Depression, and then World War II.
America had enjoyed prosperity in the 90s, but terrorists struck on September 11, 2001, and then a recession followed. Since that time, our country has been drawn into conflict after conflict—Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea, with the looming prospect of another Cold War with Russia and possibly a confrontation of some sort with Iran. And again, the Jews hang on the edge of a precipice as anti-Zionism arises the world over. As the U.S. and Great Britain have been the only nations with enough moral backbone to confront terrorism, so we are also the only nations that can stand up and defend Israel and the Jewish people. We didn’t in the 1920s and 1930s. Will we do it now?
Isaiah 24:6 declares: “Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt. Therefore earth’s inhabitants are burned up, and very few are left.” Does God fight nations? Yes, He does. Zechariah 14:2-3 states that He will fight all nations that come against Jerusalem. Why would we not allow the only democracy in the Middle East to join us in fighting Iraq? It was simply because we feared the anti-Semitic nations in the area, those who hate Israel, and are afraid they will withhold the oil that lubricates our economy.
Just as Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that the Civil War was God’s judgment for the bigotry behind slavery, the Great Depression was surely God’s judgment for the bigotry of anti-Semitism that was buried in the souls of many Americans. Seeds of that same anti-Semitism that fed and fueled the Holocaust are alive and well in 21st century America, no matter how dormant they seem to recently have been.
Let no one mislead you about the times in which we live. If the parable of the fig tree and the signs of Matthew 24 are not enough, look at one last mile marker given by the prophet Daniel: the increase of travel and knowledge. Daniel accurately foretold the kingdoms and governments that would follow ancient Babylon’s disappearance from the world scene in Daniel 2:31–45. Many of his prophecies have been fulfilled, his writings constituting the cornerstone of biblical prophecy. Daniel described a key characteristic of the End Times, the period leading up to the return of Jesus Christ to earth, in terms of man’s pursuit of knowledge: “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase” (Daniel 12:4).
While Daniel’s prediction of “many shall run to and fro” could easily be interpreted as the “rat race” of modern society, most Bible scholars interpret it as the rapid increase and the speed of travel. Comparing today’s world with that of even 200 years ago, when travel by train at speeds of 60 miles an hour was an incredible feat, now we fly in jumbo jets that can reach perhaps 600 miles an hour—or even the now-sidelined Concorde that reached speeds of a mind-boggling 1,350 miles per hour. What would Daniel have thought of these modern conveyances if we could transport him here in a time machine? I think he would definitely be looking at the skies for Christ’s return!
The rate of man’s knowledge has grown beyond our comprehension, as well. Years ago, scientists actually set out to measure the rate of expansion of man’s “knowledge database,” to put it in modern technological terms. They assumed that all scientific knowledge accumulated by the year AD 1 equaled one unit of information. They estimated that the amount of knowledge man acquired had doubled to two units over the next 1,500 years. But it only took 250 years for man’s knowledge to double to four units. From 1750 until 1900, a period of 150 years, knowledge doubled yet again. And throughout the 20th century, the rate continued to increase, with the result that it now takes only one to two years for our knowledge database to double once more. Think about that for a moment: Everything we know about the latest scientific developments will double in less than two years!
Encyclopedias and textbooks are out of date almost as soon as they’re in print. Doctors, engineers, physicists, and researchers are forced to specialize, limiting their concentration to a narrow area of knowledge. Even in our own daily lives, it’s almost impossible to keep up with the current flow of information. Is it any wonder we often feel that we need an advanced degree just to operate the latest gadget: iPhone, laptop, or iPad, or some yet-to-be-developed device?
Not only does this knowledge explosion indicate that we are living in the End Times, but the type of knowledge man has acquired is absolutely mind-boggling. Things that were in the realm of science fiction only a few years ago are now a reality (think of wristwatch communication or pocket-sized computers or self-driving vehicles). Our government, not to mention the average citizen, is caught woefully unprepared to deal with the moral and ethical implications of some of these scientific advances.
The “brave new world” that science fiction writers imagined just a decade or two ago is here. It’s a world in which man has decided to be his own creator via the practice of cloning. Ironic, isn’t it, that millions of unborn babies have been cavalierly aborted while at the same time scientists are cloning human life in a laboratory?
I can’t help but think that at some point—perhaps soon—God will intervene to stop mankind’s mad pursuit of attempting to create life on its own terms. We are building nothing less than a technological tower of Babel. In place of ancient Babylon’s worship of astrology and the heavens, modern man worships science and technology. The end result is the same: mankind seems bent on usurping God’s role as Creator. And at some point, the Creator will say, “Enough!” and put a stop to man’s folly.
If the church worldwide will stand up as the light Jesus intended her to be, the politics of nations will right themselves. Legislation can’t change people’s hearts, but the touch of God can! It is more important to have a nation that prays, but it is also desirable to have a president who prays. We need those prayers because there is a spiritual war taking place in our world. America is under attack only because she is a Christian nation, just as Israel is under a never-ending attack because she is a Jewish nation. The Liberal Left mocks Judeo-Christian beliefs as simplistic and ignorant because these modern-day humanists do believe that evil does not truly exist; that even malevolent people are basically good, and that it’s better to talk and show tolerance than to take a definitive, moral stand.
Today, the battle of good versus evil is being fought from within this nation. Too many Liberals actually hate the thought of an America that turns back to God and takes religion seriously. Many despise Israel, the Bible, and Christians in general. They subject Conservatives to scorn, ridicule, and discrimination. There is no attack on American culture more deadly than the secular humanists’ attacks.
The dumbing down of America continues, and all in the name of political correctness and a new godless globalism. America, the noble experiment, is today under near-constant siege. A tidal wave of evil is sweeping across our nation. Self-injuring, spirit-destroying, conscience-searing practices are being supported by the Left as never before. One must wonder, then, if the liberal, secular humanists’ hatred for all things conservative could pass Natan Sharansky’s “town square test.” He wrote in his book The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny & Terror, “Can a person walk into the middle of the town square and express his or her views without fear of arrest, imprisonment, or physical harm? If he can, then that person is living in a free society. If not, it’s a fear society.”
Just as the fig tree blooms to indicate that summer is near, so the signs of the times we are seeing today indicate that Jesus is preparing His return, and soon! The biblical mention of the fig tree is the prophetic depiction of the flowering of modern-day Israel. As Jesus said to His disciples in the book of Luke: “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near. . . .But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:28, 34–36).
Jesus Himself said: “You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:14-15). As Jesus’ followers, we should know what He is planning concerning the events for our nation. We should be involved with praying about them. As it was with Daniel, God needs those who read His Word, pray His promises into reality, and carry out His plan on this earth.
In the parable of the fig tree (Matthew 24:32–44), Jesus told His disciples that when we begin to see the events He foretold earlier in Matthew 24, they would be indications of the end of this age—just as new leaves on the fig tree indicate that summer is coming. He taught that the generation that saw these things would also see End-Time prophecy fulfilled. Look for a moment at what Jesus said would mark the final age and His return:
✧ Many would come in His name setting themselves up as Christ and establishing their own religions (Matthew 24:5, 11).
✧ There will be wars and rumors of wars; and nations will rise up against nations (Matthew 24:6–7).
✧ There will be famines, epidemic diseases, and earthquakes all over the world (Matthew 24:7).
✧ Persecution shall increase (Matthew 24:8–10).
✧ Sin shall flourish and Christian love will grow cold (Matthew 24:12).
I have seen this prophesied “falling away” in my lifetime, and it is rapidly increasing. An article in Christianity Today reported on a Pew Research Center poll regarding beliefs of people in America: “’We believe in God,’ Amy Grant famously sang in the ’90s. Today, 4 out of 5 Americans still say the same. But . . . what they mean by God varies a lot. Pastors and theologians often warn Christians against ascribing to a ‘God of their own making,’ knowing that not all who say they believe understand God as described in Scripture or in the traditional creeds of the church.” Liberals have used “freedom of speech” to legalize every form of perversity. What used to be hidden and spurned is taking to the streets and steadily growing. At the same time, Christians in the U.S. seem less and less sure of themselves, as much of our culture has turned against God. Christian expression is being increasingly limited in our schools and society in general.
Meanwhile, our pews are occupied by people who are biblically illiterate. Why? Because churches have abandoned Christian education in favor of a feel-good faith! We pay more attention to the music we sing than the Gospel that is preached. We hold “seeker-sensitive” services to gently introduce sinners into the church environment. Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for reaching out to those who don’t know the Lord; after all, it’s our Great Commission. There is, however, a fine line between making churches more seeker-friendly and compromising biblical truth. Our marching orders are to go into the world and “make disciples. . .baptizing them. . .teaching them to observe all things” (see Matthew 28:19–20) that God commanded. The goal is not for converts; it is for disciples. And making disciples requires more than a “don’t-worry, be-happy” gospel. It requires faithful preaching of all of Scripture, including the parts that are difficult to hear and convict our hearts.
The river of prophecy is filled with rapids, obstacles, eddies, and undercurrents. This often has more to do with the milestones we will see along the way than it does in the details of bringing about something that was foretold. Events tend to collide and conflict in the currents as prophecy moves toward fulfillment. The flotsam and jetsam of experience sometimes seem to move ahead briskly, but at other times, it comes to a stagnant halt. It might, perhaps, even disappear from sight only to reemerge farther downstream. This often makes finding ourselves at any one point in the river in a state of confusion; it is easy to get lost if we look only at the currents, gauging our progress in relation to the bank.
This is why God gave us mile markers along this river to let us know what to watch for next. Thus, if we look back from where we have come, it can be easier to see how to handle the rapids and undertows on the way to the sea. By understanding the flow of prophecy over the last few centuries, we begin to clearly see what Bible prophecy holds for America.
The U.S. is here today in full strength and regarded as a world leader and as such is present in the events that will shape the world during the final days of life on this earth. The keys to America’s future are not buried in some elusive Bible code, but in understanding the will of God, and specifically as He prepares for the final battle that will put evil away for a thousand years.
Many look at prophecy and think that certain things have been ordained. This mind-set gives them a reason to sit back and wait. As in the days of Noah, however, too many continue to eat and drink, marry and give in marriage, and yet disaster—or deliverance—is at the door. What will be on the other side of the door for us will clearly come from our choices. While many may think that the fulfillment of biblical prophecy is a sovereign act of God alone, the Scriptures themselves indicate something quite different. When God was about to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, He said to himself, “Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do?” (see Genesis 18:17). God felt He should take no action of judgment without giving His friend Abraham the right to intercede on behalf of the inhabitants of both cities.
As Daniel was reading in the book of Jeremiah, he came across a Scripture that reads, “After seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place” (Jeremiah 29:10). Daniel did some quick counting—over 70 years had already passed, and Israel was still in captivity to Babylon. So Daniel began to remind God of His promises. In response, God touched the heart of King Cyrus and then later Artaxerxes, and Nehemiah was given permission to rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple.
Years ago, God called me to a season of repentance. When I started, I felt pretty good about myself. I didn’t think I needed to do much repenting. God broke my pride and self-reliance. After a week in the presence of a high and holy God, I cried out to Him in repentance.
One of the things I asked God was for the courage to tell the truth—not just about others, but about me. When we present an image of ourselves to the world, most of the time we carefully craft it so that we look good. We only tell the successes and triumphs and victories. The depression, discouragement, defeats, and mistakes get left out. We tell a self-inspired narrative, SIN, rather than the truth. God said to me, “Don’t you dare tell the story and leave out the pain and the failures.”
At the end of that week of repentance, the Spirit of God said, “I want you to go to Congo and hold a meeting. I want you to rent a large building and invite 10,000 pastors to come.” I made the arrangements and flew to the Congo with my two daughters. When I arrived, I heard that there was a prayer meeting going on about our services. I wasn’t tired, so I thought I would go down and join them that night.
When I walked in to where the meeting was being held, there were thousands of people there. I planned to walk down to the front to thank them for praying, but then I heard what the leader was saying. The speaker was a witch doctor. He told the people to bring stones to the meeting to kill me while I spoke. He had a voodoo doll up there and was sticking needles in it. I decided I wasn’t going to thank them for praying!
The first night of the meeting, I looked out and saw that man and many other witch doctors. I realized they had brought stones with them to throw at me. They held up their voodoo dolls and stuck pins in them. I stopped the service and told the people to look at those witch doctors. I said to them, “Call on your gods and their power, and we’ll see what they can do.” They stood up and started chanting and waving the voodoo dolls. Nothing happened.
After a few minutes, I said, “Now I’m calling on my God.” I declared the Mighty Name, and those witch doctors all hit the ground. Tens of thousands of people watched in amazement as they screamed in torment. They tore off their fetishes and made a pile that they set on fire. It was a move of God like nothing I had ever seen before. The president of the country invited me to go on the national news program run by the government. We trained 10,000 pastors. There was a mighty work.
It didn’t come out of great faith. It’s didn’t come out of amazing spiritual gifts. It came out of broken repentance. True repentance looks beyond forgiveness to deliverance. True repentance produces a clean heart and a right spirit. The power of the Holy Spirit moves through a heart that has repented. The power of the Holy Spirit moves through a church that has repented. The power of the Holy Spirit moves through a nation that has repented.