Looking Ahead to 2017

Tonight at midnight we close the chapter on a fairly tumultuous 2016.  Will 2017 bring brighter days, or are we in a deep trough of the “ups and downs” of history?  The next chapter in history is about to be written and we will know the answer to that question soon.

There are many things about 2017 of which we are unaware.  Aren’t you glad God doesn’t show us everything?  Many would run and hide if they knew the trials coming their way, and the surprise of favorable things would be lost if He revealed them.  God is in total and complete control and we must always remember that.

As I look toward 2017, I am sure of one thing: we will continue to see prophecy fulfilled before our very eyes.  As we view world events, we must do so through the lens of Scripture if we are to understand God’s plan.

Within the first month of 2017, we will (thankfully) have a new President.  Until then, however, all signs point to further attempts to delegitimize Israel (particularly Jerusalem), and force a “peace plan” with the Palestinians via the UN Security Council.  Here is one scenario that could play out:

  • Approximately 50 world leaders (primarily foreign ministers) will meet in Paris on January 15, hosted by lame duck French President François Hollande.  (A new French President will be elected in May.)
  • The anti-Israel plans laid out in John Kerry’s speech earlier this week will likely become the framework for implementation of damaging plans and sanctions against Israel.
  • January 16 is Martin Luther King Day and don’t think for a moment that President Obama won’t leverage that commemoration to liken the Palestinian plight to the civil rights movement for which MLK is so famous.  That will bring worldwide attention and greater sympathy to the Palestinian “hardships.”
  • The UN Security Council will still have a few days to meet once more following the Paris conference and before Obama leaves office.
  • While I don’t believe Obama himself (through the US ambassador to the UN) will propose a second, even more damaging resolution against Israel, I believe his administration will work behind the scenes to coax the lame duck French administration (who has nothing to lose and much to gain by cozying up to America) into proposing such resolution, then will ram it through for a vote before Obama leaves office.
  • The US will once again fail to veto.
  • Just as the case with the recent Resolution 2334 that condemns and prohibits Israel from building on their own land, and which calls places such as the Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter of the Old City “occupied territory,” it will be discovered that the Obama administration’s fingerprints are all over it.  But they won’t care.  Their “legacy” will be that they accomplished peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

How will Trump react once he gets into the White House?  We don’t know.  One thing seems absolutely certain, though: the US-Israel situation will be left as complicated as possible when Obama boards Marine One (the presidential helicopter) and flies away from the capital following Trump’s inauguration.

That’s only one scenario of how 2017 may start.  It could be worse, it could be better.  But the point is that, barring a true miracle, there is a rocky road ahead for Israel.

But once again, I want to focus on the words of the prophet Zechariah:

Behold, I am about to make Jerusalem a cup of staggering to all the surrounding peoples. The siege of Jerusalem will also be against Judah. On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples. All who lift it will surely hurt themselves. And all the nations of the earth will gather against it.”
~Zechariah 12:2-3

These days, all eyes seem to be more and more on Jerusalem…just as the Bible says.  Zechariah tells us plainly that on the day of siege, Jerusalem will become a heavy stone, causing harm to those who try to lift it.  But then, the sobering thought: ALL nations of the earth will gather against Jerusalem!

Dear Bible students, we should not be surprised or alarmed when America turns against Israel.  Don’t get me wrong…we should pray like crazy that it will not happen in our lifetimes, and we should do what we can to persuade leaders.  More importantly, because of these signals, we should be about the Father’s business!  But remember, a day will come (and it will be sooner than later) when every nation, including ours, will gather against Israel.

But on that day, God will open the eyes of His people!

“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn. On that day the mourning in Jerusalem will be as great as the mourning for Hadad-rimmon in the plain of Megiddo.”
~Zechariah 12:10-11

When God pours out the spirit of grace and mercy, the Jewish people will see their Messiah for who He really is…the One they pierced…the One who was rejected, yet gave His life for them.  They will mourn and weep bitterly.  They will repent, and their eyes will be opened!

“For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle…Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle. On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives that lies before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley, so that one half of the Mount shall move northward, and the other half southward. And you shall flee to the valley of my mountains…Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.
~Zechariah 14:2-5

That is Second Coming and Millennial Kingdom talk!  Friends, do you realize how close we are!?!  Yet, the Millennium doesn’t come until after the Tribulation…and we (believers) are raptured before that.  We are living in very interesting times!

Predicting dates of when the rapture will occur is dead wrong (Matthew 24:36, Mark 13:32), so we won’t do it here.  However, Jesus admonished His followers to understand the times and seasons in which they lived (Luke 12:54-56).  We, too, should know the times and seasons in which we live, and we are in the “season” of Jesus’ coming.  Birth pains are happening!  (Matthew 24:8)

Will He return in 2017? We don’t know.  Will we be closer to His coming in 2017 than ever before? Absolutely!

This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living. Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.
~Romans 13:11-14 (NLT)

Happy New Year…may the Lord find us faithful!

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