“We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work” (John 9:4) — Jesus Christ.
The intelligence community talks about an increase in “terrorism chatter” when groups hateful of the West intensify their efforts. Similarly, I have recently been hearing “prophetic chatter” about great changes coming to our world. A central theme is that “everything is about to change”–that the alignments of the past one hundred and even five hundred years may be altered in the comng years.
Some are saying it could happen within twelve months. Others project one to three years. The current upheaval in Muslim countries–especially Egypt–is increasing the chatter. Is the world as we’ve known it about to experience a major downturn or alignment? I wouldn’t bet against it.
The night is coming. We must pray–and do the works God is showing us to do.
One of our greatest human limitations is a short life span. Since we live at most seventy to eight years on earth (Psalm 90:10), we rarely experience major changes in eras or civilizations. For example, since the world wars, there has been relative global stability for the past seventy years. Before that, Western society was fairly predictable for over four hundred years.
But if you gaze on the overall tapestry of human history, it’s clear that there have been many major seasons of societal upheaval and change. The rise and fall of Egyptian, Babylonian and Assyrian civilizations; the Greek and Roman era; the crash of Pax Romana and centuries of European darkness; the one hundred year conquest of the Mongols; Islamic prominence and decline. And many more.
History is filled with both dark and light periods–times of great advance, revival, and stability, and also times of upheaval, bloodshed and chaos. Of course, there is also darkness for some during times of light for others. For example, during the relative stability of the world from 1945-2010, many nations including China, Cambodia, and Russia faced great troubles, tyranny and bloodshed.
I believe a time of judgement, darkness, and/or major realignment is a possibility in the coming years. The prophetic chatter is increasing–and is coming from many diverse sources.
Some of the voices are economic ones. Our modern civilization is on a dangerous and unsustainable financial pathway. The violation of God’s principles and mountains of debt portend a serious time of economic decline or darkness.
Here’s a typical warning from the best-selling 2010 book Aftershock:
“Unlike any other moment in our history, there is fundamentally something different going on this time. Even people who pay no attention to the stock market or the latest economic news say they can just feel it in their gut. Something is different. This is not merely a down market cycle, nor is it a typical recession. The difference is the multi-bubble economy–the usual strategies for returning to our previous prosperity no longer apply.”
“We call it a bubblequake. As in an earthquake, our multi-bubble economy is starting to rumble and crack. Clearly the real estate, credit, and stock market bubbles have already taken a serious fall, and the financial consequences for the broader U.S. and world economy have been terrible.”
“Next comes the aftershock. Just when most people think the worst is behind us, we are about to experience the cascading fall of several, co-linked bursting bubbles that will rock our nation’s economy to the core and send deep and destructive financial shock waves around the globe. The bubblequake fall of the housing, credit, consumer spending, and stock bubbles significantly weakened the world economy. But the coming aftershock will be far more dangerous…In fact, the worst is yet to come.”
We need to listen to the economic chatter. Nations cannot long operate on the cruise control of runaway spending and debt.
We are facing an economic “night” in the not so distant future.
Some religious voices are also raising the battle cry. One comes from the third most popular radio personality in America–Glenn Beck. Beck is a Mormon libertarian who gets close at times to be a conspiracy guy–but mostly is sane, rational, and prophetic about the dangers that America currently faces.
For a number of years he has been warning Americans to renew their faith in God, to restore virtue in their lives, and rise up and lead the nation out of the death spiral that we are facing. I don’t think his warnings are extreme. I hope he is wrong–but something inside of me says that he is “a voice crying in the wilderness.”
Here is one of his warnings: “Much has been written about how complicated the downfall of Rome was, but the recipe was actually pretty simple, and has since been replicated countless times. A great civilization arises. The state encroaches upon freedom and demands more power. People take less responsibility for themselves and want more handouts from the government. Taxes go up to pay for the handouts. The size of government explodes and economic growth slows. The government seeks to divert the public’s attention from what is really going on. Collapse, economic or otherwise, ensues.”
“If history teaches us one thing, it is this: Empires tend to crumble from the inside. If history teaches us two things, it is that very few people ever see it coming.”
Glenn Beck is right on both counts.
But there are also secular voices speaking to us from a political point of view. One of the best articles I’ve seen on the riots in Egypt is called “The Arab Revolution and Western Decline.” It was recently published at haaretz.com. I will quote it at length because I believe Mr. Shavit gives us a poignant picture of political dangers we are facing. Here are his sobering words:
“Two huge processes are happening right before our eyes. One is the Arab liberation revolution. After half a century during which tyrants have ruled the Arab world, their control is weakening. The Arab masses will no longer accept what they used to accept. The Arab elites will no longer remain silent.”
“Modernization, globalization, telecommunications and Islamization have created a critical mass that cannot be stopped. The example of democratic Iraq is awakening others, and Al Jazeera’s subversive broadcasts are fanning the flames. And so the Tunisian bastille fell, the Cairo bastille is falling and other Arab bastilles will fall.”
“The scenes are similar to the Palestinian intifada of 1987, but the collapse recalls the Soviet collapse in Eastern Europe of 1989. No one knows where the intifada will lead. No one knows whether it will bring democracy, theocracy or a new kind of democracy. But things will never again be the same. The old order in the Middle East is crumbling.”
“The second process is the acceleration of the decline of the West. For some 60 years the West gave the world imperfect but stable order. It built a kind of post-imperial empire that promised relative quiet and maximum peace. The rise of China, India, Brazil and Russia, like the economic crisis in the United States, has made it clear that the empire is beginning to fade.”
“And yet, the West has maintained a sort of international hegemony. Just as no replacement has been found for the dollar, none has been found for North Atlantic leadership. But Western countries’ poor handling of the Middle East proves they are no longer leaders. Right before our eyes the superpowers are turning into palaver powers.”
The West’s position [on the Egyptian uprising] is not a moral one that reflects a real commitment to human rights. The West’s position reflects the adoption of Jimmy Carter’s worldview: kowtowing to benighted, strong tyrants while abandoning moderate, weak ones.”
“Carter’s betrayal of the Shah brought us the ayatollahs, and will soon bring us ayatollahs with nuclear arms. The consequences of the West’s betrayal of Mubarak will be no less severe. It’s not only a betrayal of a leader who was loyal to the West, served stability and encouraged moderation. It’s a betrayal of every ally of the West in the Middle East and the developing world. The message is sharp and clear: The West’s word is no word at all; an alliance with the West is not an alliance. The West has lost it. The West has stopped being a leading and stabilizing force around the world.”
“The Arab liberation revolution will fundamentally change the Middle East. The acceleration of the West’s decline will change the world. One outcome will be a surge toward China, Russia and regional powers like Brazil, Turkey and Iran. Another will be a series of international flare-ups stemming from the West’s lost deterrence. But the overall outcome will be the collapse of North Atlantic political hegemony not in decades, but in years. When the United States and Europe bury Mubarak now, they are also burying the powers they once were. In Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the age of Western hegemony is fading away.”
Economic night. Spiritual judgment. Political night.
It’s happened before and will happen again.
Just before his death and resurrection, Jesus gazed forty years into the Jewish future and saw a time of “night” that would befall the unrepentant nation. It came in AD 70 when Titus destroyed Palestine, defiled the Temple, and led thousands of Jews away into slavery.
At that time, Jesus tried to prepare his followers for what lay ahead saying, “We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work” (John 9:4).
I’ve been making many decisions lately with this Scripture in mind. What would God have me to do while there is still daylight? Changed priorities? Greater urgency? How can I be obedient to God to lead those I love through a time of great change or cultural nightfall?
I do know this comforting fact: Light comes after darkness. The darkness never prevails–it simply sets the stage for a glorious sunrise. For our generation, that might mean another great revival on earth, or possibly the Renewal of All Things through the Return of Christ.
I am praying for wisdom, strength, and faith to prepare for the night–and afterwards, the dawn.
How about you?