2020, 2021 and the prophetic
I write this final chapter 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 to add to the many already covered – relating the present to the prophetic. I do so with a health warning, for in other “Chapters” of the book I have tried to follow my exegetical heroes of the past, but here I divert somewhat and shoot from the hip as it were, sharing what some might say are my own controversial views – yet some of these pertain to what divides Christians today and are thus relevant because if is God’s intention to present His Son with a radiant, pure bride.
Ever since the beginning of the year (2020), 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 would be leaving the EU (deal or no deal), 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 there was massive fraud and disputing the result.
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. Many with anguish ask how much longer; some ask what is God saying in this? 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 would refer them to articles on my blog, 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 about 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 and unfulfilled prophecy fulfilled is just that. 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 very question when I eventually get to meet them in heaven!
On the subject of modern-day prophecy, I confess I am going outside of the original remit I set myself when I began this project. After all, the title of the book is “Prophets of the Bible” and not “Prophets Today”. Moreover, given my own background, there will be some who are interested in the subject of the title and not prophets today, especially if they are “cessationist” in their theology. So please bear with me when I say Prophets Today does or at least should relate to Prophets of the Bible. As for categorising the prophets who are around today, I have suggested there are three groups (others may see things differently):
- False prophets (as to what makes a false prophet, I discuss in Chapter 6).
- Charismatic prophets – tend to operate in churches that attach importance to the present exercising of the gifts of the Spirit, including prophecy, albeit in most cases when words of prophecy are given, these relate specifically to the ministry of the church and the lives of individuals.
- Political prophets – a subset perhaps of our second group (incorporating those who prophesied a Trump second term as President) believing God speaks into the affairs of men and what is going to happen in the world, and often (in my experience) not accepted by some in our second group.
I best speak for myself here. While there are a few friends on my page, in terms of understanding what is happening in the world, many are not, including some close to me. One leader friend has stated we are a people of praise, not politics, and we should focus on being upright Christians. Then there are no shortage of Christian leaders bashing Christians in their flock who subscribe to a different narrative about world events to that which is presented by official sources and mainstream media, including subscribing to suspect “conspiracy theories”. Those bashed might react to being patronised, especially when they think they are right and some of those leaders are following agendas, e.g. Black Lives Matter or climate change activism, which are a diversion from the gospel, or for more conservative types accept what we are seeing as God’s will and leave it there. The result is often schism. Sadly, my observation is too often there is spiritual one upmanship and a lack of both truth and charity on either side.
The term conspiracy theory has pejorative undertones and if it is not based on proven fact it should be avoided or at least tested. But what is the truth, given those we expect / hope to tell it, e.g. our politicians, the media, lie? Maybe 9/11 and the JFK assassination were not according to the official narrative, as many now are realising. As for “Q”, maybe there are over 100,000 sealed indictments waiting to be served on bad guys who think they can buck the system because they own it, and maybe there are millions of children who are being trafficked by Satanic paedophiles and a global financial cabal overseen by robber barons with corrupt politicians and other elites in their pockets assisted by an evil Deep State, who see themselves above the law because they control it.
I have observed enough to at least ask questions and there is a lot more to what is going on in the world than what we do see or are told, and God who so loved the world is interested. I have come to a view, which deviates from my early Christian upbringing that, given the stakes are high, it would be wrong if we adopt a head-in-the-sand mentality, because that would consign many of our fellow humans to have to face unchecked evil, when we might be able to help. And what if we let things ride until we are 101% sure – then it will be too late.
Sadly, for some, living under oppressive regimes, the ability to resist bad government is limited and is why passages like Romans 13, that are to do with submitting to authority, are so relevant. For many, particularly Christians living under authoritarian regimes, simply to practice what their conscience tells them is right, extracts a high price. It is unbiblical and anti-God to merely stand by and observe when injustice is 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, although I will support those of whatever political colour in achieving justice. 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 religious ideology?
- Are abortion and child sex trafficking the top social justice issues?
- 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 questioning voices?
- Is the recent interest in racial justice an unhelpful distraction?
- Is the professing Church largely led by hireling shepherds?
- Should Christians be particularly 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. Some questions may have been dealt with by the time people read this and new questions have arisen. 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.
The seeming absence of a prophetic voice among church leaders is cause for lament. I know, for I have upset some by saying much of “the flock” are being led by hireling shepherds but that is the disturbing reality of where the church is at. If there is a positive side to the wokeness I see, it is I do detect a greater awareness of the other and resolve to find ways to do good to others, especially the less well off. If there is a positive side to the sense of unease I see in the Body of Christ it is seeing God work in the lives of believers for a deeper walk with Him. The reason I make this point is that while I have a view as to what is right and a desire for truth, I note sadly there are entranced opinions among Christians and this leads to division. Often a concern for biblical holiness does include social justice. Often an acceptance of the status quo does not allow for and even opposes those who question the official narrative. 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.
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 faced with and 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 leaders who have got it wrong, yet the true Church arises – 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 for my nation, observing a lukewarm, woke, inept church acquiescing to its enslavement and 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 if we are to have some semblance of freedom. As for me, my time on earth is running out as I approach my three score and ten years, for while with a measure of health and compos mentis, it is declining. Nevertheless, I find by God’s grace there is still work for this unprofitable servant to do, including writing my book, raising alarm bells, passing on the baton, showing kindness and doing good, often in small things. And there is a world to save from a Christless eternity, God’s righteous kingdom to promote and sheep to be rescued from those who devour, and a part to play in bringing the glorious gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to a runaway world with all its pitfalls 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. Some are false prophets, just as Jesus predicted there would be; notably those who promote prosperity teaching. Some that are endorsed by charismatic churches, who believe, rightly, that God still guides His people, including through the office of prophet and the gift of prophecy. While noting what I earlier titled as my group 2 charismatic prophets, I will not discuss much further here as it is not my subject per se. Some I have found oppose the views I offer above; and oppose my third group, the political prophets, which I will consider as it is my subject, although discussing individuals is a too bigger exercise for this reflection. They differ in what they cover, often a lot more than the future of Trump – more the future of the world, and no doubt not all are genuine. While I am far from hanging on their every word, having considered many of their characters and theology, as well as prophecies (some have remarkably come to pass) I incline to the view many are genuine and have no doubt God will have the last word.
Among other things, some have boldly predicted Trump will get a second term as President. But their detractors, often with an ear to mainstream media, may have already joined with 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”. I should also add: I am finding Bible prophecy, e.g. as found in the Book of Revelation, and modern-day events, increasingly aligning. I should also counsel that while we must not dismiss prophecy that is God given, we must also test prophecy and not be hasty to accept a “prophet” because he happens to share our view of the world. “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord” Jeremiah 23:16, remains ever true.
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 began writing this section three weeks before the end of the year 2020. There is still much going on and it is impossible to predict what twists and turns there will be, and what new happenings will occur, most 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, this matters as 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 and His honour and glory, recognising He does things His way and in His timeframe. 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 we find uncomfortable. Associated with this is the importance of the (real) Church in God’s plan.
A reoccurring theme, throughout the Old Testament especially, is how God’s mercy and God’s judgement interact. Revival or ruin; mercy or judgment; curses or blessings? Such was the way forward often facing ancient Israel, as we discussed, and we face it 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. It should also be noted that some sound Christians believe Trump to be very bad. I am of a view that many have been over influenced by lying mainstream media.
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 awake some but, even more importantly, point them to the Lord I love – for example, by writing this book, that is more about the Lord of the prophets than the prophets themselves, but always with the rider we test and weigh everything. I do so because we have been betrayed not just by our secular but our spiritual leaders too, who we might expect better from, the elites of this world who are just 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, and as I have both observed and experienced personally, it can be an unhelpful distraction, compared with bringing people into God’s Kingdom and authentic Christian living. My reading of the prophets of the Bible is they were well aware what was going on around them. In speaking about what they saw with their eyes and heard with their ears, they would not be shut up, and literally it cost some of their lives, for they wanted to see a righteous outcome.
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 humble, faithful believer and loving our neighbour. Be patient; it is worth remembering God is not in a hurry but is always on time.
I begin to write this section on the very last day of this most momentous of years, with a lot of water going under the bridge since I began writing the chapter with some trepidation. I am humbled that some things, like the US Presidential election, have not worked out as I hoped and predicted and yet I also see the hand of God – in fact in an unexpected way more so that if things had worked out as expected. 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 on how I see things going forward, based on my study of the Word, what the “prophets” say and happenings I see.
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 happening, despite hopes we are over the worse, as well as issues arising out of the roll-out of a vaccine against the virus, most of us are expected to take, and many are seeing as the key to resuming some form of normality. No doubt, many of “hot” issues in pre-Covid days have been temporarily put to bed, e.g. climate change, but will likely again come to the fore and there no doubt will be surprises in store, including the possibility of further, often natural, calamities, despite many hoping 2021 will be better than 2020. My hope is it will be a time for people to turn to God. Part of the reason for writing as I do is to encourage this to happen and for the Church to awake.
For me, the most important question to be answered, both from a worldly and a spiritual perspective, concerns the outcome of the US Presidential election, although for most that outcome is all but settled, even though some hope for a turnaround with legislatures and judiciary seeing the light. I see this with my human eyes as a pivotal event for so much happening in the world. I had hoped by now what is right will have been made abundantly clear, but it has not. The issue is not so much did “my man” win – in a democracy we know that does not always / often happen and we accept the fact. It is far graver than that – did the other man win fairly and has he the right to be called the winner? As for the twenty questions posed earlier, I have little doubt what outcome is better, and it is more to do with what I believe will be better for the world as well as America than which person I prefer, yet what God allows is what matters.
A very important and confounding factor concerns election integrity. Since I wrote last, I am convinced more than ever that industrial scale fraud has taken place and Trump won legally, despite almost everything pointing to Biden soon to be declared as President. Not just that, I sense behind many events there is great wickedness; any thought of bad people being allowed to be let of the hook is abhorrent. Issues range from child trafficking and killing babies in the womb to election fraud on an industrial scale elevating corrupt politicians, a nefarious Deep State, manipulating the world financial system, controlling free speech and the Chinese Communist Party trying to take over the USA by subterfuge. Some dismiss all such thinking as conspiracy theory, but I am not convinced.
… Six weeks on, I have delayed sending my second edition to the printers because I wanted to be bang up-to-date. The presidential outcome is pertinent to how I wanted to wrap things up, not least because of prophets who confidently predicted a Trump second term, not because they slavishly endorse Trump but because they listened to God and have been faithful and that pleases God. Given we now know it is Biden and not Trump who has been crowned as the 46th US president, many have been calling out these political prophets, especially as weeks following on from his inauguration most have come to terms with the situation. I confess things are different to what I had expected and while it has led to some self-doubt and heaviness of spirit, it has turned me more to God.
But then the Lord who alone has the big picture, intending grander purposes than what we imagine, ever moving in mysterious ways, including how he speaks through prophets today. We also know that in the cases of Jonah with Nineveh, Elisha with Jehoash and Isaiah with Hezekiah, things do sometimes occur differently to what the prophets said. As for me, I continue to weigh up world events as any watchman should, looking to God for a righteous outcome, and it may well include Trump becoming president as these prophets foretold. Noah is one of many prophets that looked foolish until events proved otherwise.
As for the political prophets, some remind me of the children of Issachar, of whom it was said: “And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do” 1 Chronicles 12:32. This unexpected insertion in the chronicles of Israel is because what they did mattered. Given few do respond in the way God would rather they would in secular life, and even more disappointingly, in religious life too, we could do with such understanding children today. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding” Proverbs 9:10. While Israel was unique among the nations at that time as being one who was supposed to be under God, it is our hope that righteous government should prevail and at the very least the people of God (the real church), instead of being taken in by all sorts of assorted nonsense, should know what they ought to do.
Not my thought originally, but one I am inclined to agree with – we (the world) may be facing the modern equivalent to a “Moses Red Sea moment” or the fire coming from heaven to consume Elijah’s sacrifice on Mount Carmel. For only God can overturn the works of the powers of darkness that is gripping the world right now, of which the stolen US Presidential election is merely the tip of an iceberg, and in doing so we must never discount the part played by the prophetic and the prophets when it comes to bringing about the desired, longed for righteous outcome: “And by a prophet the Lord brought Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet was he preserved” Hosea 12:13. While the Great Tribulation precedes the millennial kingdom when righteousness will truly reign on the earth, the prayers of God’s people for justice will surely not go unheard when it comes to the here and now. As for reconciling thoughts around a time of great revival with that of Great Tribulation, other than referring to what I believe the Bible teaches in earlier chapters of this book, I must leave it to the Almighty.
I have little doubt, while there will be much more to come out in the open these next few days and months, some will shock us concerning what is done in darkness, many of these much-maligned political prophets will be vindicated, albeit chastened. More importantly, we must live by faith and God gets all the glory. The picture when people get to read this will be a lot different to how we see it as I write now. If God did call many of these “Trump will serve a second term” prophets (as I believe He had), then just as He has always done, He will stand by His true prophets. As for the how’s etc., He will do it His way. The same is true, incidentally, concerning Trump, for if he is indeed God’s anointed to drain the swamp etc., he will be back and there is nothing anyone can do to prevent it. If I am wrong as some well-respected Christians say, I will apologise.
I also sense there is a lot more to be manifest in the genuinely prophetic as well as fulfilling unfulfilled prophecy, as we look forward to our Lord’s coming. After all, the full pouring out of the Holy Spirit, including the gift of prophecy, foretold in Joel 2 and partly fulfilled in Acts 2, is yet to be seen in a way Joel’s prophecy suggests. But we need to be people of discernment, including applying the lessons of the Bible when it comes to evaluating prophecy that we want to be true e.g.: “A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land; The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?” Jeremiah 5:30,31. As for His people, our job on earth is to faithfully serve Him. As ever, we must be “wise as serpents, and harmless as doves” Matthew 10:16.
… Finally, and having read many well-known Christian leaders writing concerning political prophets, often doing so negatively. A new President is looking set to continue and with him a radical agenda, often aligning with the “wrong” answers to the twenty questions raised earlier, despite hopes by some sharing my views of a different outcome. Going by recent experience, events will continue to unfold rapidly and not what as we might expect, such that when people do get to read this, things will likely look a lot different. If there is a point to be made, we should not be putting our trust in political or religious leaders, including the prophets. Rather, our hope must be in the Lord, who raises up and puts down kings, as we have seen in our study of prophets of the Bible. But take comfort: “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will” Proverbs 21:10.
And we can still pray with the prophet: “O Lord, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy” Habakkuk 3:2. While my studies have taught me that God honours the true prophets, even if they have a hard time, his timing and the way prophecy is fulfilled is up to Him. Our part is to be God’s faithful people, including being fervent in intercessory prayer. As well as His love for the world, that people find salvation, and for the poor and suffering, His purposes for His Church and Israel, notwithstanding their assorted trials and tribulations, are great and glorious and, to such an extent, this has a significant bearing on some of the conundrums we have raised, without there being full and satisfactory resolution. We need humility, so that we recognise our prejudices and ignorance, for only the Lord has the full big picture, who knows all.
I hope there will be a soon to happen revival on a monumental scale, as many of the political prophets have been predicting, rather than a new normal following Corona, with a new dark age overseen by the New World Order, leading into the rule of the Antichrist. Either way, there is a world to win for Christ and, if we are His, this is our task. Our part is to keep with faith, hope and love, and draw closer to God, being available to do his bidding whatever that is, whatever the circumstance, letting our all-wise, loving heavenly Father do the rest.