3 Trends to Watch in 2013
In this unstable world, news events and trends seem increasingly unpredictable. But Bible prophecy can give us clarity—and hope—if we know where to look.
Jesus Christ warned of terrible times that would lead up to His return to save humanity from itself (Matthew 24:21-22). He told His servants to prepare for and respond to these troubles by watching and praying:
“Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36).
In this Olivet Prophecy and elsewhere He made clear that it is vitally important that we watch ourselves—that we not fall spiritually asleep or become weary in well-doing. Instead we must follow His direction, enduring the intense trials that come in this life and always being about His work of preaching the good news of the Kingdom of God.
But Christ’s words also carry the implication of watching world events so we may be aware of the signs of the times.
What prophetic trends are we to watch in this end time? Here are three major themes of end-time prophecy that we should be alert to in watching the news. These themes can help us make sense of the confusing and constantly changing flood of 24/7 news today.
1. Watch the moral decline of the United States and Britain, along with their kindred nations.
Great promises were made to Abraham and his descendants, and these blessings can be traced to the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and other nations today. (See our section “12 Tribes of Israel” to trace Abraham’s descendants in history and prophecy.)
But God’s blessings carry a responsibility, and the Bible clearly shows that continued blessings require that we acknowledge God and obey His laws. Disobeying God’s commandments always leads to bad consequences in the long term. Entire chapters of the Bible inform us of blessings for obedience and the terrible results of sin (Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28).
The Anglo-Saxon nations have become increasingly tolerant of actions the Bible calls sin. These are things that are abominable to God—things He hates and that our peoples had to some degree previously shunned. Profanity, lying, cheating, violence, greed, lust and a whole host of sexual sins have become prevalent and even accepted.
When society no longer considers an action bad, human laws are changed and those who believe the Bible are labeled intolerant or worse. But God’s laws do not change. (See “Why Is God Angry With America?” to better understand this trend.)
Some may wonder why I didn’t say watch the economic, political or military decline of these nations. Declines in these areas are also trends to watch that will likely continue in 2013. But they are secondary factors—they are the results of sin and poor judgment and unwise leadership. The moral decline is the big issue to God.
Of course, along with watching these trends, we should also pray for the people of these nations and for the return of Jesus Christ to reverse these declines and restore God’s blessings to those who will repent and strive to obey God.
2. Watch the complicated “unification” of Europe.
The Bible reveals that an end-time successor of the Roman Empire will exist for a short time before the return of Jesus Christ.
God gave us a glimpse of the vast panorama of history through Nebuchadnezzar’s dream recorded in Daniel 2. Bible students widely recognize that the four metals in the great image Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar saw represent the successive Babylonian, Persian, Greek and Roman empires.
The dream ended with a stone miraculously appearing and striking the statue on its feet, destroying it. The feet and toes are identified with end-time leaders who will be replaced by the Kingdom of God:
“And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever” (Daniel 2:44).
But before this good news can come, human misrule will reach new lows, as humanity spirals down toward self-destruction (Matthew 24:21).
Notice that the end-time union will be a mixture of strong and weak elements. Daniel explained:
“Whereas you saw the feet and toes, partly of potter’s clay and partly of iron, the kingdom shall be divided; yet the strength of the iron shall be in it, just as you saw the iron mixed with ceramic clay. And as the toes of the feet were partly of iron and partly of clay, so the kingdom shall be partly strong and partly fragile. As you saw iron mixed with ceramic clay, they will mingle with the seed of men; but they will not adhere to one another, just as iron does not mix with clay” (Daniel 2:41-43).
The 10 toes may be a hint of what is revealed in more detail in Revelation 17. There an angel explained an end-time vision to the apostle John:
“The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast” (Revelation 17:12). These leaders will give their power for a short time to the brutal and powerful “beast” and will actually fight against Jesus Christ at His return (verses 13-14)!
So watch for the ongoing crises in the 27-nation European Union and in its 17-nation eurozone to continue in 2013. Ultimately this will lead to an iron/clay mixture of 10 nations or groups of nations.
3. Watch the Middle East!
The Middle East, and especially Jerusalem, is the epicenter of end-time prophecy. The Bible reveals that in the end time a “king of the South” will arise who will “attack” the “king of the North” (Daniel 11:40). This will provoke a massive invasion by this European-based power, identified with the “beast” we read about in Revelation.
Christ warned, “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near” (Luke 21:20).
The chaos in the Middle East since the Arab Spring may not seem conducive to the rise of a powerful leader such as the king of the South. But consider that instability has often provided the catalyst for major changes and the rise of conquerors throughout history.
Civil wars, terrorism and riots are hard to watch, and following the news should lead us to pray more fervently, “Your kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10). Thankfully when these three trends reach their climax, we will be able to watch something completely different—good news! Jesus Christ will return and set up the Kingdom that will stand forever.
Keep watching and praying for that day!
Read more about all these trends in the “Prophecy” section of this website.