One of the fun things I get to do in my study of Bible prophecy is connect with friends who are on the cutting-edge of research. As a matter of fact, far from being the wild-eyed fanatics that critics allege, most of the people who look to the Bible for answers about the future are reasonable and wise. They are, to use a phrase the center-left Christian community loves, “careful thinkers.”
A host of Bible teachers and pioneers in prophecy will gather July 22-24 in Branson, Missouri. “Future Congress” (www.futurecongress.com) is being called the “Woodstock” of prophecy conferences, although it promises to be much more than that. Indeed, a keynote speaker will be G. Edward Griffin, author of the landmark book, The Creature From Jekyll Island, an investigative piece into the Federal Reserve.
Chuck Missler, arguably the most popular Bible prophecy teacher on the circuit, will also headline, along with dozens of other speakers, including biblical archaeologist Randall Price.
I am privileged to call several of these speakers personal friends, including Tom Horn, David Hitt, and Terry James.
David described for me how the planning has gone for Future Congress:
“Two aspects of planning Future Congress really caught us by surprise. First, we’re been amazed at the availability and willingness of so many experts in so many fields to free up their schedules to speak at the conference. Second, It’s been a challenging exercise scheduling all of the featured presentations and workshops so participants can not only get a good smattering of exposure to a range of subject areas but also be able to delve deeper into niche topics that particularly fascinate them.”
Besides provocative talks such as Hitt’s “A Time to Lose Faith” (it is genuinely fantastic!), to topics on “preparedness” and the paranormal (don’t miss Jeff Patty’s presentation on this!), Future Congress is much more than a Bible prophecy conference, where the subject matter is usually tightly focused.
Horn and others who have been involved in the planning recognize the significance of such a gathering.
“Future Congress was conceived as a result of numerous veteran leaders within ministry, finance, geopolitics, and sociology, witnessing a growing chorus of questions from people concerning the short and long-term aspects of the future of society. From banking and finance to conspiracy, from new technology to the supernatural, from prepping to prophecy, people are concerned about how to adapt and thrive in the days ahead.”
I can’t wait for this conference! Besides speaking twice, I am able to help host a few friends, since I live not far from this tourist “mecca.” Branson has an international reputation as a family destination, so think about coming on out to see us. Registration is still open, and I will also report in detail on the conference when it wraps.
Thirty-five years ago today, America celebrated its bicentennial; I remember the day vividly.
I remember it so well for a different reason than you might imagine. I woke up that morning to hear my parents talking about something that had happened very far away.
A week before, terrorists had hijacked an Air France jetliner and had it flown to Entebbe, Uganda. The PLO terrorists had separated the Jewish passengers and now held them, demanding that Israel release other terrorists held in jails.
To make a long and incredibly dramatic story short (you can read about the operation to rescue these hostages in Entebbe, by Iddo Netanyahu), Israel sent an elite force to Entebbe—a staggering 2,500 miles from Israel—and the hostages were freed! This happened on the morning of July 4, 1976.
The rescue force completely surprised the barbarians who were holding the hostages, and the firefight lasted mere seconds.
I remember Entebbe every July 4, but even more today, as America celebrates freedom.
Natan Sharansky, the former Soviet dissident who was held in gulags for years, said after his release that he would sit on his bunk and whenever he heard a plane fly overhead, he thought about the rescue at Entebbe, and he knew someday his turn would come.
I am also reminded—again and again and again, as readers of this blog are coming to know—that God’s Word is sure and true. Fulfilled prophecy proves this.
In Isaiah 54:17, God promised that no weapon formed against Israel will succeed. This was fulfilled in a dramatic way at Entebbe, as the weapon of terrorism failed.
If you want to be inspired, read the account of this hostage rescue. When you do, in your heart, consider that there is Someone beyond our time and space Who watches and intervenes to save us and bring us to freedom, when all hope seems lost.
I salute the members of the Israel Defense Forces, who went to Entebbe and laid their lives on the line.
The Israelis today, so marginalized and harassed for so long in exile, are now blessed and protected by the Almighty.
After you read about the rescue, I challenge you to consider the validity of that statement.
I’m confident you’ll come to the right conclusion.
“For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” (Isaiah 65:17)
I found out yesterday that an acquaintance is riddled with cancer. He found out only a few days ago, and has been given a very short time to live.
His wife, who deals with a chronic illness herself, was so distraught at the news of her husband’s cancer that she collapsed mentally.
A close friend of mine is a nurse in an ER. She encounters not only heartbreaking situations, but something I’d never imagined: the creative ways people try to commit suicide. She often asks them why they do it, and “despair” is the common denominator. This world is just too difficult to navigate.
When I hear devastating stories like this, and as I reflect on the true blessings that God has given us in the United States—the Fourth of July is a wonderful holiday—my mind inevitably drifts to the great prophecies of the Bible’s Old Testament.
From Darwinian philosophy, to liberal theology in the Church, there are almost too many attacks on the validity of the Bible to count. It is my contention that these attacks on the validity of the Bible cause despair in our culture to mushroom, as people grope for something to give them hope.
And yet the prophecies already fulfilled stand against these puny attacks. The ultimate message and point of all this is that the prophecies reveal a God who is engaged and compassionate. In Isaiah 65:17, the Lord PROMISES that He will one day make things right. We must have faith that He is telling us the truth, and is in control. He has already kept a great multitude of promises. More are coming.
It is difficult in times of great distress to see beyond our pain, and we all experience those.
But today as we celebrate 200+ years as a blessed nation, let us also remember the nation of Israel, much older and preserved through thousands of years of exile to emerge finally in our day as a vibrant fulfillment of prophecy.
The return of the Jews to their ancestral land is that balm for the pains of this life. The restored nation of Israel stands as a signpost, a beacon of hope.
Israel is proof that the future is not bleak, but brighter than the sun.
Upon returning from a trip to Israel recently, I reflected on what I’d seen, and what is going on in the world. Clearly, the Arab-Israeli conflict is a focal point for the international community. And, usually, the news is bad.
There are, however, positive things going on. As usual, I felt very safe and energized being in Israel. The country seems to be thriving. Visitors and natives alike were flocking to the beaches, shopping malls, and tourism is on a roll.
Individuals and groups are also engaged, seeking ways to bring peace to this sometimes-tortured corner of the world. One such group I encountered, through a visit with the delightful former Israeli ambassador to Turkey, Uri Bar-Ner, and his wife, Lynne, was the America-Israel Friendship League (AIFL).
Based in New York, the AIFL is really, truly a breath of fresh air (www.aifl.org).
“Building friendships based on common values” is the mission of the AIFL, and as an American Christian who supports Israel, I am almost relieved to find an organization dedicated to raising peace-loving generations who might not know war. I am particularly glad to see that the chairman of the AIFL, Kenneth Bialkin, recognizes that there are hopeful signs, even in the midst of this past spring’s unrest in the Middle East:
“Perhaps the time is coming that the Arab world will see that Israel and the Jewish people are not their enemies, but indeed offer the hand of peace and friendship and the opportunity to realize a New Middle East as advocated some years ago by Shimon Peres, now the President of Israel. Under Mubarak, the Egyptian government maintained a “cold peace” with Israel and resisted demands from many sources to return to the state of war which prevails between many Arab states and Israel.”
You see? They are not willing to concede that the Arab-Israeli conflict will descend into a never-ending whirlpool of war and misery. This is important to think of often, since men and women through history have altered the courses of nations by virtually willing peace.
Alex Grobman, a world-class scholar and author, is the new director of the AIFL, and appreciates the two-century bond between the United States and the Jewish people:
“Our goal is to strengthen the bonds of and reinforce the shared values between these two great democracies that share common interests and values.”
Founded in 1971, the AIFL has played a key role in that relationship. I discovered a wonderful initiative in my discussion with Ambassador Bar-Ner (who lives in Modi’in, the home of the famous Maccabees!).
“Our programs designed to bring groups to Israel are going very well,” he said. “Efforts to bring Christian groups for visits and study tours is key in maintaining a vibrant relationship with the United States.”
Since some of the older generations given the task of peace-making have, shall we say, missed opportunities, an AIFL program involving students is particularly exciting. The Youth Ambassador Student Exchange (YASE) program brings youth from Jewish and Arab communities together, and often, students travel from their homes to visit Israel or the United States.
Dr. Charlotte Frank, an educator based in New York, and chair of the AIFL’s executive committee, is passionate about the student programs.
“It’s always an interesting experience,” Dr. Frank explained. “When you read the papers, you’d think Israel is unsafe. But when youth can visit religious sites in Jerusalem—the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, ‘walk where Jesus walked,’ etc.—they see that Israelis also want peace.”
Grobman, a Holocaust scholar (a particular area of interest too for AIFL President Harley Lippman), is pleased with the group’s success in these programs:
“AIFL brings Americans from a wide variety of religious and ethnic backgrounds to see the miracle of Israel, a start-up nation that has become a primary leader in technology, medicine, science, education, agriculture, the arts and in ways to preserve the environment.”
Robert Abrams, former attorney general for the state of New York, puts his expertise to good use by helping facilitate study tours for AGs from the U.S.
“Overall, it’s critically important for people to see Israel personally, for people to break-down these [negative] images of Israel. In reality it is a very beautify country to visit. You can enjoy beaches, great restaurants, marvelous museums, wonderful architecture, and of course all the historical sites.”
I saw all this for myself. From the palm groves being grown in the parched areas around the Dead Sea, to the stunning Israel Museum, to the gorgeous outdoor mall just outside Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City…I witnessed just how amazing and vibrant this small country is.
My Christian friends at Bridges for Peace and the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem (both based in the holy city) do terrific work in serving as bridges for different cultures. Now, I have wonderful new friends in the Jewish community who are literally dedicating their lives to peace efforts.
Working as I do among “Christian Zionists,” I am often criticized because the focus is often on the negative. As a Christian who loves all people, and has been a member of both conservative and liberal denominations, I actively seek peace efforts. Perhaps the image of Christian supporters of Israel can improve if religious groups sympathetic to the Palestinians adjust their presuppositions.
Upon leaving the Bar-Ners and boarding a plane for home, I left with a feeling of exultation. Perhaps we are not doomed to a future of chaos and strife. Hat’s off to the AIFL, and their part in bringing the light of truth and common values to a troubled region.