Let me preface this post by saying I have never claimed to be a prophet. I have never liked the responsibility that goes along with it. In the Old Testament when a prophet prophesied falsely he was to be ignored or worse yet put to death. ‘But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak… that prophet shall die.’ (Deut 18:20) Today when false prophecy is declared it usually has something to do with Israel or Iran and becomes a bestselling book. Instead of being ignored when none of it comes to pass the author scores yet another book deal and makes millions. I belong to the much safer ‘Niels Bohr school of prophecy’. He was the Danish physicist who said, “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.”
Sarcasm aside, today more than ever we actually do need the prophets and spiritual leaders that have some semblance of understanding what is going on in the world.1Chronicles 12:32 says “The sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do.” So as we enter 2016, I thought I would share my analysis of what it looks like is going on in the world. I figure if I put it in these uncertain terms you will have little cause to stone me at the end of the year. But maybe instead we can have a discussion to see how far off I was.
1) The Economy will falter in 2016
I would dub the era we live in the Decade of Denial. After the near cataclysmic world-wide economic meltdown of 2008 the stock market has been on a 7 year tear. Investors have been happy as clams as their RRSP’s and 401k’s (US) roared back to life. People have been once again spending liberally. They are buying vacation properties and new cars. Porsche sales in Canada were up 30% in 2015. That said most of us never bother to look behind the curtain to see that the Wizard of Oz is pulling the levers and putting on a good show and none of it is real. After the financial crash the US government gave some $16 trillion in bailouts to various corporations. Many of them were the very people that caused the problem in the first place like Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley. Instead of using that money to make funds available to consumers, they used it for mergers and acquisitions and buying up stock market equites at bargain basement prices driving the market to the record levels of 2015. These greed motivated corporations made huge profits while many families lost their homes. The financial markets are completely manipulated and designed for the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer. Mysteriously to me few ever asked the question where the trillions came from. The answer is; ‘thin air’. Government is the only organization in the world that can write cheques with no funds in their bank account. After the bailouts they began an economic campaign called Quantitative Easing. This is just a fancy term for; printing money out of thin air to stimulate the economy. Eventually something has to give and a day of reckoning must come. What goes up, must come down. Here is the best description I have seen on the process. http://demonocracy.info/infographics/usa/federal_reserve-qe3/money_printing-2012-2013.html
Most economists are calling for modest economic growth in 2016. I don’t believe it. The so called economic recovery is a ruse. Jobs have not been created, wages have not risen above inflation and stock fundamentals have not really improved. China, a major driver of the world’s economy, is in a massive recession. Canada already entered recession territory in 2015 (defined by two quarters of economic contraction) and yet few will admit it. Our TSX stock market was down 11% last year, the Canadian dollar was down 20%, and oil prices were off 50% from last spring. That does not look like growth to me. The economic systems of the world have all become dangerously linked together. When one country sneezes, they all get a cold. The bible predicts that one of these days the entire world economy will come crashing down. ‘Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour your judgment has come. And the merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise anymore” (Rev 18:10-11) Now I don’t think that time is quite yet, and please don’t make any investment decisions based on my assumptions, but I think the entire world is in for a very bad year economically. That is prediction number one for 2016.
2) Bad things will happen in 2016
The Islamic State (IS, ISIS in Syria, ISIL in Iraq) is clearly the most destabilizing force in the world at the moment. There are lots of problems in lots of places but they all pale compared to the threat of IS. They are the most violent and ruthless radical Islam group in history. Their beheadings and rampage of ethnic cleansing have made Osama Bin Laden look like a Sunday school teacher. ISIL fighters in Iraq are told that they are free to have sex with or rape non-Muslim women, predominantly from minority Christian and Yazidi communities, and even take them captive as sex slaves. IS has contributed majorly to the chaos in the Middle East that has created 6 million refugees in a humanitarian crisis of biblical proportions. In June of 2014 the group called for a worldwide Caliphate. This is a call for Muslims everywhere to unite to fight for a one-world Islamic government that would conquer the West and rule the world. Of course, most Muslims have rejected the call and want to just live peaceably, however the propaganda campaign using social media has been very effective in recruiting young idealistic people to the cause. The Islamic State has proven impossible to fight since it is a terror cell based and grass roots organization. There is no large standing army on a battlefield somewhere, just crazed ultra-violent men and women in small cells wreaking havoc and destruction in their paths. I am always reluctant to interpret the Book of Revelation in the light of current events (since as I mentioned we are usually wrong) but there are many troublesome similarities to IS found in the book. Not the least of them the persecution of Christians and the method of execution. “…and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus….” (Rev 20:4). This past November Barrack Obama declared that ISIS had not been defeated but that they could confidently say that ‘they were contained’. The very next day coordinated attacks in Paris killed 130 people and injured 100’s more. Unfortunately I expect to see the Islamic State continue to spread, dominate the news and regrettably be responsible for even greater acts of terrorism in 2016.
3) The Donald will dominate the news.
Some people have been annoyed with the fact that I enjoy making fun of Donald Trump for being loud, arrogant and having bad hair. However, I no longer think he is a joke. Almost all the political pundits are writing him off as a real contender for the US Republican presidential nominee. I however think they are dead wrong. The Donald has now gone from being mildly amusing to downright dangerous. He has dominated the news by becoming more outrageous every day. He is maybe the most polarizing political figure since racist and segregationist Alabama Governor George Wallace ran for president in 1968. First Trump announced he wanted to build a wall along the Mexican border to keep out illegals and now he has said he would no longer allow Muslims to enter the US. Both of these brash statements have garnered immense support from many Americans including Christians.
Here’s what makes him so dangerous. Firstly, it is entirely unconstitutional to discriminate against others based on their religion. The moment a nation starts down this path, everybody’s religious freedom is then in jeopardy. The very Christians that cheer him on today could be the ones being deported tomorrow. Secondly, he is accountable to no one. He does not answer to his party, to any advisors or to anybody else. In political terms they call these people dictators if they gain power. North Korea comes to mind. Thirdly, he fits the very model of a demagogue, who by definition gain political power by playing on people’s fear of others and racial prejudices. I am always surprised that he can make completely absurd statements and his crowds cheer wildly. Trump said he would build the 2000 mile long wall on the Mexican border and make Mexica pay for it. In another incredibly vague and sweeping statement regarding ISIS he said, “Nobody would be tougher than Donald Trump. Hit them so hard and so fast that they wouldn’t know what happened.” He said he would find a general like Douglas Macarthur and then in his typical half sentences he describes the plan. “You gotta hit ’em hard, you gotta hit ’em firm and you can’t play games. You gotta go hard and fast and firm”. I have no idea what that means. However recently he told CNN part of his plan would be to take away their oil by “bombing the hell out of their oil fields”. Sounds like a proposed declaration of war. Trump has positioned himself as the poster boy of the ISIS recruitment campaign. His antagonistic rhetoric can do nothing but inflame their anger against the West.
In the end however, I think Donald Trump is going to be most successful at ensuring that Hilary Clinton becomes America’s first female president as he polarizes the American electorate like never before. Mark that one down for 2016.
4) Jesus will NOT return in 2016.
Anytime people predict when Jesus will come they are always wrong. By saying He will not return I have a very good chance of being right, and if I am wrong that would still be good, right?
5) The Church will be triumphant in 2016
Here’s the good news. The church always does well in unstable times. As long as things are perking along nicely many people fail to see the need for their creator. “… when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God…” (Deut 8:10-14) When times get troubled and people get fearful, the church becomes the one lone bastion of hope.
Psalm 20:7 says, “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the LORD our God.” This refers to the mistake of trusting in worldly resources or security. Though I see tough times ahead of us, the people of faith have little to worry about. God takes care of His own. The first century when the book of Acts was playing out was one of the worst times ever to be a Christian. They were persecuted, displaced and discredited and yet the church grew exponentially and the people lived victoriously.
My last prediction is that 2016 is going to be a great year for those that remember the Lord our God. It is the easiest prediction of all because we have God’s word on it. “A thousand may fall at your side, And ten thousand at your right hand; But it shall not come near you.” Psalm 91:7
So, there you have it, troubled times? I think so, but if God is for you who can be against you? Have a great 2016.