[see also “To Better Understand the News: Some Resources” ]
As the weeks and months roll by, a few surprises emerge in the news, as well as what we generally expect to happen.
Actually, knowing what to expect is an important key in filtering through the flood of news and in understanding the significance of individual occurrences that over time can and do become overall trends in the news.
To know what to look for is essential if we are going to obtain the most from our reading and viewing—whether by newspapers, magazines, radio, television or the Internet.
Major Themes From the Bible
World events should be seen and understood in the light of Bible prophecy, of course (Ezekiel 3:17 Ezekiel 3:17Son of man, I have made you a watchman to the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.
American King James Version×; 33:7; Mark 13:33-37 Mark 13:33-37 33 Take you heed, watch and pray: for you know not when the time is. 34 For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. 35 Watch you therefore: for you know not when the master of the house comes, at even, or at midnight, or at the cock-crowing, or in the morning: 36 Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. 37 And what I say to you I say to all, Watch.
American King James Version×; Luke 21:34-36 Luke 21:34-36 34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come on you unawares. 35 For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch you therefore, and pray always, that you may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
American King James Version×). Between a fourth and a third of the Scriptures consists of predictive prophecy.
Over the last 60 years or so the Church of God has emphasized several major themes with which we should all be very familiar. They serve as good general guidelines and undergird our understanding of the news—helping us to evaluate world events with some of the wisdom that comes from God. The Church serves as our Creator’s modern watchmen.
It is not a responsibility that members of God’s Church can ignore or neglect. So what trends should we be watching?
1) The Rise of a European-Centered Superpower
Several chapters in both Daniel and Revelation provide the primary source material, which we put together with what we understand from secular history. In broad historical outline God’s revelation to the prophet Daniel disclosed the identity of four major empires on the world scene. The last of these, the Roman Empire, was to experience seven resurrections after its original appearance—the final of which is yet to come (Revelation 17:10 Revelation 17:10And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he comes, he must continue a short space.
American King James Version×).
The book of Revelation talks about this last resurrection of the Roman Empire. The emerging “beast” power will be a powerful political force undergirded by a major religious organization headed by a miracle-working false prophet—combined to produce the most dangerous, overarching dictatorship that mankind will ever experience. “All the world marveled and followed the beast” (Revelation 13:3 Revelation 13:3And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.
American King James Version×). The true people of God will be in mortal danger (read verse 7 for yourself).
For more on this, read or reread our publication The Book of Revelation Unveiled .
2) The Prophesied Decline of the Modern English-Speaking Nations
A missing dimension in the proper understanding of biblical prophecy has been a general lack of knowledge of the identity of the modern descendants of Israel , and particularly of the patriarch Joseph. Careful biblical and historical research shows that these consist of the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. (See our booklet The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy . )
After World War II we witnessed the rapid decline of the British Empire as nation after nation in Africa and Asia gained or was given independence, beginning with India and Pakistan in 1947. Now the United States, as the world’s only real superpower, is beginning to come to terms with its limitations in influencing world politics.
At the end time the English-speaking nations are prophesied to continue their descent into sin with massive violations of the Ten Commandments along with their historical rejection of the seventh-day Sabbath and God’s annual Holy Days. Many of these countries have been in serious spiritual decline, especially in the last half century.
In the last few years America in particular has been reaping some of the curses promised to those Israelitish nations that consistently refuse to obey their Creator—after long experiencing many of the blessings promised to Abraham for his obedience (see Deuteronomy 28 and Leviticus 26).
3) A General Increase in Violence, Selfishness and Religious Deception
Remember the words of the apostle Paul to Timothy just before his martyrdom:
“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love [or ‘natural affection,’ KJV], unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God—having a form of godliness, but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them” (2 Timothy 3:1-5 2 Timothy 3:1-5 1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3 Without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
4 Traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
American King James Version×, NIV).
This is a devastating indictment of humanity’s modern-day conduct. It’s hard not to notice a marked proliferation of these trends in our world today. They punctuate our daily newspapers.
4) Jesus’ Olivet Prophecy
The Olivet Prophecy is related in the three synoptic Gospels (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21). This prophecy of Jesus Christ is dual in nature and covers events from the sacking of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 to the second coming of Christ—emphasizing end-time events just before Jesus’ return to earth. It specifically mentions wars, rumors of wars, famine, disease epidemics and religious deception.
The chronology of events in Matthew 24 dovetails especially well with those in the seals (the four horsemen) of Revelation 6.
5) Prophesied Unrest in the Middle East
The historic prophecy of Daniel 11 is of particular significance. It covers a period all the way from the time of Daniel in the sixth century B.C. to the return of Jesus Christ. At the end time the king of the South will push against the king of the North (Daniel 11:40 Daniel 11:40And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.
American King James Version×), leading to the invasion and occupation of the Holy Land (verse 41).
The events of Armageddon and the second coming of Christ will soon follow. Our booklet The Middle East in Bible Prophecy explains in detail.
6) Isaac/Jacob vs. Ishmael/Esau
More specifically, the age-old hostility between the descendants of the patriarchs of Genesis still manifests itself in the general Arab hatred for the state of Israel and the desire of some Islamic fundamentalists to destroy the United States, Britain and Israel. This theme is especially significant because Islamic countries, particularly in the Middle East, have grown in power due to Western dependence on oil. The map of Islam in today’s world is rather frightening.
Recent news reports merely confirm what we already knew. Take The Economist account of April 22 as an example: “Every so often unpopular Muslim regimes on the periphery of the Palestine conflict find it expedient to propose eliminating [Israel] … Iran’s president and chief holocaust denier, has become a leading exponent of this familiar ruse… What is more depressing is the rise of a similar atavistic strain of Israel-destroying rhetoric among the Palestinians themselves.”
Ultimately, the rescue of the state of Israel and her English-speaking brothers will only come from the returning Messiah Himself!
7) The Gospel of the Kingdom
In the midst of all these themes that will characterize the end time, we need the encouragement of remembering the good news of God’s coming Kingdom—the solution to all these problems. This wondrous knowledge helps us to lead the balanced, abundant life that Jesus promised (John 10:10 John 10:10The thief comes not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
American King James Version×). It would be good to regularly reread our booklet The Gospel of the Kingdom . UN
To Better Understand the News: Some Resources
The publication You Can Understand Bible Prophecy embraces the whole panorama of time from the creation on through Christ’s millennial reign and the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20) and on beyond into limitless eternity.
If you do not have copies of the free booklets mentioned in this article, please ask for them in print or download them from our Web site at www.ucg.org/booklets . They provide essential background information in understanding important world news and trends.
For more timely information, be sure to read our free newsletter World News and Prophecy . As the name indicates, it analyzes world news and trends in the light of Bible prophecy.
Finally, if you are not doing so already, skim through our compilation of world news items at www.ucg.org/worldnews . Every week we sift through many news sources and post summaries of and links to the most significant items, most of which tie into the major prophetic trends listed above. Significantly, many if not most of these news items receive little coverage in the mainstream media, so this may be the only place you’ll read about them. A glance at any week’s articles shows that events are inexorably marching forward in accordance with Bible prophecy!