Proceed With Caution: Contemporary Events and Biblical Prophecy

by Gary Freel

The need for discernment today is greater than ever. Be extremely wary of writers and preachers who claim a particular current event or catastrophe might be a fulfillment of prophecy or even a harbinger of things to come, specifically as it supposedly relates to the nation of Israel. Just last year, an article titled “A Sea of Blood?” authored by Gary Stearman was published in the magazine, Prophecy in the News, July 2010. It concerns British Petroleum’s (BP) disastrous explosion and subsequent devastating oil leak into the Gulf of Mexico. Throughout the article, the author strongly hints that this leak and the results from it could be God’s judgment on the United States for our government’s supposed policy changes toward Israel. The modern state of Israel celebrated its 62nd Independence Day (Yom Ha’ Atzmaut), April 20, 2010, the same day the BP well began spewing oil. While being careful at his wording, the author proposes that this particular leak could possibly be a warning from God about the growing tension that is believed to exist between the two countries. Stearman makes the following assertion:

But Christians who are sensitive to the subtleties of Bible prophecy cannot deny the obvious connection between the building U.S.-Israel conflict and the climactic explosion that came on the very day that celebrates Israel’s modern statehood. We are not yet in the Tribulation, so the oil spill cannot be a fulfillment of prophecy in the judgments in the Book of Revelation. Still it may be a foreshadowing of things soon to come.

The connection, however, is not at all obvious. In fact, it is a stretch even to suggest such. The disaster in the Gulf is terrible and is said to have been one of the worst in history, but it has nothing to do with deteriorating political relations between the United States of America and Israel. It is far more plausible to connect it with the greed and hubris within the human heart! Both the private sector and government officials can equally share the blame for the results of this horrible event.

Stearman’s assertion that “it may be a foreshadowing of things to come” is impossible to verify, so why spend time speculating about something like this? More to the point, we are NOT to be looking for signs of the times. The Scriptures tell us to be looking for “that blessed hope,” specifically, “the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). The next event on the prophetic calendar is the rapture of the church (1 Thess. 4:13-18; 5:9; 2 Thess. 2:1-3). This event is imminent, that is, it could happen at any moment in time; thus, we need to live as if today might be the day when we will be with the Lord!

Reflect back for a moment on other recent disasters. Should we conclude, then, that the Exxon Valdez spill in Prince William Sound on March 24, 1989, was also connected to some prophetic event as well? We know now it was due to equipment malfunctioning and fatigue on the part of the crew, among other things. Or what about August 7, 2007, when the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis, MN, collapsed, killing 13 people and injuring 145? What were the problems in US-Israel relations that caused these catastrophes? This ridiculous speculation and innuendo by a supposed Bible teacher provides an unbelieving world with ammunition to attack and ridicule the precious truth of the imminent return of the Savior. For example, Julie Miller, writing for Newsweek magazine in an article titled “Blood in the Water,” wrote, “To some Christian Fundamentalists, the oil plume in the Gulf of Mexico heralds the apocalypse” (www.newsweek.com, 6/4/10). Illustrating her understanding of who qualifies as a fundamentalist, she cites William Miller who wrongly predicted the end of the world on October 22, 1844. Further yet, she cites Hurricane Katrina’s devastation on the city of New Orleans, LA, and John Hagee’s ridiculous claim that God brought the judgment of Hurricane Katrina on the city of New Orleans because the city had planned a gay pride parade for the very day the storm hit.

These men, and a host of others, underestimate the importance of what God is presently doing through the church in this age of the dispensation of His grace (Eph. 3:9-11, 20). Granted, believers have every indication that the close of the church age is near, but not because of something God is supposedly doing in Israel right now. Rather, it is because of what is taking place in the church today: great apostasy and deception away from “the faith” (1 Tim. 4:1-3; 2 Tim. 3:1-9; 1 Jn. 2:18-19; 2 Pet. 3:3-7) by demonic spirits and reprobate men who seek to lead souls away from the only Savior who can deliver anyone from the penalty, power and presence of sin. It is the church, made up of those who are truly born-again ones, who have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as the only Savior from sin, through which God is working today. It is not through some specific nation or ethnic people group. It is both Jew and Gentile (Eph. 2:11-22).

Remember, we live in a fallen world. From Genesis 3 through the end of the book of Revelation, everything about life in this universe changed. From the time of the flood during Noah’s day, this world changed even more. The evil devised within the heart of man is sometimes astounding and always appalling, growing and spreading (2 Tim. 3:13). Sometimes, actions result in unintended consequences that have a devastating impact on the lives of people completely unconnected to the events—innocent bystanders, if you will (Lk. 13:1-5). Earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, tsunamis and other natural disasters occur on a regular basis. These, too, claim lives without discrimination. They are part of the consequences of the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which has come upon all of creation after Adam’s sin.

However, the curse is not permanent. The Bible teaches that while this earth presently groans and travails (Rom. 8:22-23), this condition lasts only until Jesus Christ returns and establishes His kingdom. Many texts in the Old Testament promise Israel that great changes will take place, including the reality that God will make them the head of the nations. Great blessing and prosperity upon Israel await the establishment of this kingdom on this present earth.

Do not be easily swayed by professing experts, especially on the matter of Bible prophecy and their supposed ability to discern the times in relation to God’s program for Israel. Read and study the Word of God for yourself. Do not allow anyone to persuade you to abandon our blessed hope; continue to live a pure, holy life in light of our catching away (1 Jn. 2:28-3:3) to our home in heaven, where we belong (Phil. 3:20-21).