2020, 2021 and the prophetic
I write this final section of my book as a momentous year (2020 – it would not be hyperbole to say it could be the most momentous of my entire life thus far) draws to an end, and I wish to raise what I consider to be an important subject.
Right from the beginning of the year, things were happening in the world to draw our attention, ranging from bush fires in Australia to plagues of locusts in Africa and, from a British perspective, the UK formally announcing it was leaving the EU (deal or no deal) and thus honouring the 2016 EU Referendum outcome. But in my view, there are two stories that stand out and both have yet to fully play out. The first involves USA President Donald Trump. The year begun with his, as it turned out, unsuccessful impeachment trial; the year ended, following the USA Presidential election, with his opponent Joe Biden claiming victory and Trump alleging massive fraud and disputing the result. As I write, the world awaits final confirmation as to who will be inaugurated as the next President on January 20th 2021. The second involves the Corona crisis. It would not be overstating it to say that this has had a huge, dramatic effect on the whole world in terms of economic fall-out, poor mental health, social isolation and loss of freedoms and, in the midst of it, riots and protests over racial injustice. As with the Presidential election, we cannot tell what twists and turns are ahead of us and how this will play out. A third one, we could add, concerns how the long running (getting on for five years) Brexit saga will play out. In a strange way this and other “unrelated” ongoing events are more related than it seems.
As many who have read so far will know, a lot of 2020 has been taken up with my writing this book, which focuses on Bible exegesis and, at least in the main chapters, avoids extensively commenting on the events such as highlighted in the previous paragraph or on modern-day prophets – which is tempting, given what is taking place. I can elaborate but, other than what I write in the rest of this section, I will resist doing so, partly out of respect to those interested in my Bible prophecy insights and not my political opinions. If people want to know what I think about Trump, Corona and Brexit, I refer to my blogs, which I have been regularly updating these past seven years. My Christian upbringing, while in the main dismissive of modern-day prophets, often tried to relate events unravelling around them with the prophetic scriptures, particularly concerning the End Times. Again, I will resist the temptation, other than re-iterate my view expressed earlier that we are seeing many examples to indicate the end is near. I cannot help wonder what the prophets of old would have made out of current events if they were standing in our shoes today – maybe like one mentor of old, I could ask them that question when I eventually get to meet them in heaven!
I can only speak for myself here. While there are a few friends on my page, so to speak, many are not, including some close to me. One leader has gone on record to say we are a people of praise, not politics. I say we are both and the one leads to the other. Given the stakes are high, it would be wrong if Christians adopted a head-in-the-sand mentality, because that would consign many to face unchecked evil. Sadly, for some, living under oppressive regimes, the ability to resist is limited and is why passages like Romans 13, to do with submitting to authority, are relevant. It is unbiblical and anti-God to merely stand by and observe when we see injustice perpetuated, because it means we do break the second Great Commandment, which is to Love Thy Neighbour. I should add for the record, I am neither Conservative nor Labour; neither Republican nor Democrat. I believe it folly to put our hope in man or human institutions more than we do God. Rather I am a nobody, a brand plucked from the fire, that has responded to the call of being a Watchman on the Wall, who watches and prays.
In my recent Red-pilling others, especially Christians blog, I asked, perhaps somewhat provocatively, the following questions:
- Is Trump better for the USA and the world than Biden?
- Was there an attempt to steal the recent USA election?
- Is China the major threat when it comes to world powers?
- Is Islam the major threat when it comes to religion?
- Is abortion the most important social justice issue?
- Is climate change something that is wrongly hyped up?
- Is there a concerted effort to destroy marriage, family, religion?
- Should we be concerned about imposition of Covid-19 vaccines?
- Should the UK leave the EU with no deal, should it come to it?
- Is “global reset” about empowering elites and enslaving others?
- Is globalism / socialism worse than nationalism / conservatism?
- Should we be concerned with 5G and merging man and machine?
- Is the demon of political correctness trying to suppress truth?
- Are Gates, Soros, and many politicians (all sides) villains?
- Should we be more concerned with groups like BLM, Antifa?
- Is much of mainstream media about peddling fake news?
- Is big tech, like Facebook, trying to censor contrary voices?
- Is the recent interest in racial justice an unhelpful distraction?
- Is the professing Church largely led by hireling shepherds?
- Should Christians be concerned with the above?
I confess that my answer is YES to all these questions but I recognise that some of my brothers and sisters in Christ, including some reading this book, may answer NO and may raise important questions themselves, and where we may disagree. I am conscious that some who share many of my theological views, may answer NO to question 20, feeling it rather unseemly for Christians to adopt a position on the other questions. Moreover, since following the Lord Jesus Christ, promoting His Kingdom and making disciples should be that which unites us, holding different views on these questions should not be a cause for division when in reality and regrettably in my experience it is. I may be wrong, but if my experience is anything to go by, the consensus once seen in the evangelical camp is now replaced by acrimonious polarisation. While some evangelicals have gone “woke”, opposing sin and repentance type preaching, others have been split over, for want of a better term, conspiracy theories.
The seeming absence of a prophetic voice among church leaders is cause for lament. If there is a positive side to the wokeness I see, it is I detect a greater awareness of the other and resolve to find ways to do good to others, especially the less well off. The reason I make this point is that while I have a view as to what is right and desire for truth, I note sadly there are entranced opinions among Christians and this leads to division. While it will not resolve what is clearly an impasse, whatever camp one may feel inclined toward, it is worth bearing in mind Paul’s exhortation: “And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” 1 Corinthians 13:13 (my emphasis).
When it comes to what is going on in the world, while there is much we do not know, which is why we have to be careful concerning conspiracy theories, yet because of the exponential increase in knowledge, in more recent years, we know much more than our forefathers about what is truly going on, especially what is humanly behind evil deeds. I have often quoted Paul’s exhortation that “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority”, and the reason given is so “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty”, 1 Timothy 2:1-2; and notwithstanding our assessment that such people often fall in the bad guy camp, our priority has to be living godly lives. Another of my often referred to texts is “for we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” Ephesians 6:12, and that too must be borne in mind when confronting the growing tide of evil.
Again, speaking for myself, this has been a challenging time in my own life. I can hark back to my youth when a spiritual mentor pronounced God was at that time into the business of shaking, especially the Church. It seems to me, now at this time, this is particularly so as we see the professing Church fall short, led by hireling shepherds, yet the true Church is arising – albeit a remnant (it has ever been thus). It has been a time to get my own house in order and rise to the challenge of practicing biblical holiness, and is something that is ongoing. It has been a time when I experienced deep depression and frustration, and was tempted to lose hope and give up as my nation, supported by an inept church, acquiesces to its enslavement and is allowing the bad guys in to call the shots.
There is much going on to disturb us, although I still see many examples of human kindness, especially in my own sphere of activity, helping the homeless. Top of the list of disturbing matters (and the list above shows there are many) is the way Covid-19 is being handled, with more lockdowns and restrictions, and every indication the forthcoming vaccine is likely to be mandatory even if we want some semblance of freedom. While for me, time is running out as I rapidly approach my allocated three score and ten years, with a measure of health and compos mentis, even if though that is declining. Nevertheless, I find by God’s grace there is still work for this unprofitable servant to do, including writing my book, raising the alarm, passing on the baton, showing kindness and doing good. Moreover, there is a world to save from a Christless eternity, God’s righteous kingdom to promote and sheep to be rescued from hireling shepherds, a runaway world and all its traps and the devil seeking whom he may devour.
Regarding modern day prophets, I confess there are some I listen to, but always with the “Test and Weigh” caveat, which I believe is biblical. Many are false prophets, just as Jesus predicted; notably those promoting prosperity teaching. Some are endorsed by charismatic churches, who believe rightly that God still guides His people, including through the gift of prophecy, and yet may oppose the sort of views I offer above; and may oppose my third group, which I will call the political prophets, who nevertheless are in good company, alongside my favourite prophet, Jeremiah. Among other things, some have predicted Trump will get a second term as President. But their detractors, often with an ear to mainstream media, may have already joined those crowning Biden as King, pointing out if their prophecies do not come to pass, it would show them up to be false, and with an added bonus that it might help shut up those “annoying Christian conspiracy theorists”. (As for who are false prophets, I discuss what makes them false in Chapter 6!) I should also add: I am finding Bible prophecy, e.g. the Book of Revelation, and modern-day events, increasingly aligning.
Regarding the prophetic, while my background is non-Conformist, Evangelical, non-Charismatic, I am broad in my theology. Twenty years ago, I wrote a paper entitled Who are the Brethren? and concluded: “At the risk of being dismissed as a spiritual schizophrenic by my readers or a heretic by my (Plymouth) brothers, I am inclined toward a vision of the church that is Catholic in spirituality, Liberal in social activism, Reformed in doctrine, Charismatic in experience, Evangelical in zeal, Puritan in living, Methodist in organisation and Brethren in ecclesiology, but above all passionate for Jesus. Finally, although an enthusiastic researcher of Brethren history who is keen to “get it right”, I am much more concerned that men and women, and boys and girls, walk the way, trust the truth and live the life of the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14v6); and may He be exalted, by whatever instrument He chooses, Brethren or otherwise. And may all God’s people receive a touch from heaven so that they may touch earth in His glorious cause. O Lord grant us grace to lose what is dear, so we may gain Him who is dearest, and may Thy Kingdom come!”
I am writing this three weeks before the end of the year. There is still much going on and it is nigh impossible to predict what twists and turns there will be, and what new happenings will occur, which most of us will not have foreseen. “The Fat Lady has not yet sung” may well apply to many of these situations, notably the final outcome of the USA Presidential election, and again without wanting to over-state my case, two quite different futures beckon for the world depending on what that outcome is. I have a view, and as for expounding what that is, it will have to be for another time and for another place.
Minor in the scheme of things, but significant even so, given we are talking about prophecy, is where will this place these modern-day political prophets in one’s esteem? As for me, I hope they will be vindicated but only if they have truly prophesied. But my focus must be on God. I will continue to watch and pray and do what little I can for humanity, including fighting for truth, justice and righteousness. Always bear in mind, God’s priorities are often not those of man. It is one reason why things happen that we find uncomfortable. Associated with this is the importance of the (real) Church in God’s plan. A running theme throughout the Old Testament especially is the relationship between God’s mercy and God’s judgement. Revival or ruin; mercy or judgment; curses or blessings? This was the choice that often faced ancient Israel, as we have already discussed, and yet it faces us today. One friend who shares many of my theological and political perspectives believes, regarding the US Presidency, if Biden wins God will be exercising judgement and if Trump then mercy. I think it is not quite as straightforward as that and right now we do not know which.
Because we are fallen, fallible beings, however holy and switched on to what is going on we are, we are not going to get everything right, including the way we respond to, for example, the twenty questions asked above. It would be remiss of me not to spend time arising out of my watching and praying, to share what I know, hoping I may red-pill some but, even more importantly, point them to the Lord I love – for example, in writing this book, which is more about the Lord of the prophets, but always with the rider we test and weigh everything. I do so because we have been betrayed by our secular and spiritual leaders, the elites of this world who are looking out for their interests rather than those of the rest of humanity, and mainstream media, and is partly why many Christians are asleep.
My early spiritual mentors told me that we should be seeking a kingdom not of this world (and an over preoccupation with world events has inherent dangers). That is true, but my reading of the prophets of the Bible is that they were well aware what was going on around them. In speaking about what they saw with their eyes and heard with their ears from God, they could not be shut up, even if it cost them their lives. I should say, in the interest of balance, something we all are in danger of not having: our eyes must be firmly fixed on the Lord God of Israel, and our priorities should include at the top of our list, pursuing holiness, along with carrying out the Great Commission, serving the Church, advancing God’s Kingdom, being a faithful believer and loving our neighbour.
I write this on the very last day of what for many has been the most momentous years of their lives, three weeks after the previous section, with a lot of water going under the bridge in the interim. Just as I do not claim to be a prophet, I do not claim to be God’s answer to secular pundits when it comes to what will take place in 2021. But I will venture an opinion how I see things going forward.
Referring to some of the “loose ends” when it comes to events playing out at the end of 2020, the most obvious one is the Brexit agreement. While opinions are divided as to whether it is good or not, the general consensus, including among the most ardent of Brexiteers, is that it is and now begs the question where next? As for the Coronavirus, the agony continues with, as far as the UK is concerned, further lockdowns in the offing despite hopes we are over the worse and now the roll-out of a vaccine against the virus. No doubt many of issues that have been partly put to bed, e.g. climate change, will again come to the fore and there will be surprises in store, including the possibility of further calamities despite hoping 2021 will be better. My hope is that it will be a time for people to turn to God and part of the reason for writing as I do is to encourage this to happen.
For me, the most important question to be answered, both from a worldly and spiritual perspective, is the outcome of the US Presidential election. I had hoped by now this will have been made clear, but it has not. The issue is not so much did my man win – in a democracy we know that does not always happen. It is far graver than that. Returning to the twenty questions posed earlier, I have little doubt what outcome I would prefer and it is more to do with what I believe will be better for the world as well as America than which person I like most. A very important confounding factor is election integrity. Since I wrote last, I am more convinced that Trump won legally despite almost everything pointing to Biden being declared president. The stakes are high, suggesting that either justice will be done or criminality will be allowed to go unchecked. Soon we will know the outcome and importantly as far as this book is concerned the direction the world is about to take and who are the true prophets prophesying on the earth today.