2024 PROPHETIC POINTERS
At the beginning of 2023 I posted some prophetic pointers, Navigating 2023. I now offer some thoughts and insights which may be suggestive of the year ahead.
In January 2023 I wrote:
God is shaking the nations so that his kingdom will manifest. God’s kingdom cannot be shaken. It is our one stability in an unstable world. The forces of Chaos will not overcome God’s people.
We certainly saw the forces of Chaos at work in 2023. “Chaos” became the go-to word for journalists reporting on national and global affairs. God was at work permitting Chaos, partially in judgement, but also in grace. He allows chaos to manifest to show his displeasure toward sin and the inevitable results of human rebellion. The eruption of Chaos challenges every earthly society and system of government in order that the nations might seek the Kingdom of God, the only Kingdom that cannot be shaken.
We are now in a time of grave international conflict. The Russian war in Ukraine continues to rage. The despicable Hamas attack on Israel of 10/7 in 2023 provoked the Israel-Gaza war. Both these conflicts will continue to play out in 2024. The global geo-political and geo-spiritual implications of these wars remains to be seen. International pressure coupled with high level diplomacy no doubt will eventually bring some form of peace, but the world will be a different place. Further eruptions and escalation of conflict appear likely. The spiritual forces behind the eruption of hostilities will not rest.
Behind the disruption lie dark spiritual powers intent on opposing God’s original plan, his Eden project. God’s plan is to bring all things into conformity to his nature and will, fully manifesting his glory on earth as in heaven. Ultimately, he will recreate humanity and the entire cosmos bringing us back to Eden, the original creation plan. In the meantime, God’s mandate to Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply and to spread the conditions of Eden to the whole earth, has never been rescinded. We fulfil this mandate today by praying, preaching, and reaching out to the lost and hurting, by living our lives in line with God’s will.
The global community of Christian believers is made of up of both Jews and Gentiles united in Christ. We are the only beacon of ultimate hope in a lost, confused and increasingly violent world. But we must rise up and fearlessly live for God, passionately cling to him and uncompromisingly proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ to the nations.
The conditions of war create both challenges and opportunities for the gospel. Reports are coming in from Gaza that suggest some Palestinians are turning away from Islam, disillusioned by harsh treatment under Hamas. Christian war aid and support for the Jewish people has been a welcome contrast to increasing antisemitism in the West. These open doors of opportunity for the gospel. But that is not the whole story. Islamic fundamentalism is also rising, spurred on by the perception that not just terrorism, but Islam itself is under attack. New barriers to the gospel are evident as both Jews and Muslims feel the war in Gaza presents an existential threat.
Israelis, whose close neighbours are committed to the extinction of the State of Israel find it difficult to accept the Christian message. Attempts to convert them appear to be yet another attack on their Jewish identity. I suspect that alongside the opportunities for the gospel in the Middle East, we will encounter both Jews and Muslims whose hearts have been hardened by recent events. The Palestinian/Islamic narrative is increasingly accepted by many in the West. It is going to become harder to present Christ to both Western and Middle Eastern nations. Islam is not just opposed to Jews but is also hostile to Christians. This will become even more clear in the weeks and months that lie ahead.
But the good news is that the message of the New Covenant, originally promised by God for Israel, also includes the Gentiles. Jews and Muslims, together with those of all religions, and none, are universally invited to know God and to touch his glory in the person of Christ. Gospel fullness will eventually include both Israel and all nations. This is the broader prophetic context in which we should discern what is taking place now and what will unfold in the year ahead.