The Decade of Destiny
Once every ten years a new decade rolls around. Each seems to have a way of developing distinguishing features that mark it for history. The 60s were a decade of pot, left-wing politics, and promiscuity—liberation through license was the dominant theme.
In the 70s Yippies began to turn from their flower-laden communes and drift toward a self-centered, materialistic lifestyle which eventually brought forth the Yuppie—young, “upwardly mobile,” affluence-oriented people who were eagerly pursuing the good life.
Ronald Reagan led the 80s through a period of conservative resurgence. And for a time, at least cosmetically, America appeared to be moving back to basics. The flag was once again in style, conservative TV preachers were riding high, and evangelical Christians were involving themselves in the political process. It was a decade of great promise.
By the late 80s, however, it was clear that performance was not living up to the promise. The likes of drugs, AIDS, indiscriminate violence, abortion, terrorism, and stunning natural disasters took the shine off the nation’s optimism.
Then, suddenly, in the last year of the decade, an eruption occurred in China and Eastern Europe that rocked the world. Communism ran out of gas, and millions of captive people surged into squares and streets waving their homemade banners to cry, “Freedom.”
For those of us who watched a dour Nikita Kruschev pound his shoe on the table and bellow, “We will bury you,” to witness Mikhail Gorbachev coming, hat in hand, to Western capitalist nations in search of economic salvation is, to say the least, a stimulating experience.
So we enter the 90s with cataclysmic changes in the wind, and, judged by any standard, it will be a significant ten years. But will it be the final decade? This is the last ten years of the millennium—a span running to the 2,000-year mark since the Messiah walked the earth. Will this be the decade chosen by our Lord to call the Church home and then reenter time in the person of the returning Christ? No one knows the answer to that question except the Lord Himself. But, clearly, enough evidence is at hand to assure us that we are living in a crisis period—a Decade of Destiny.
The persistent uncertainties confronting us cause the people of the world to appear as do those depicted on the cover of this magazine, waiting to board and travel into the 90s. But to where? And what will they find there?
As world headlines frequently mingle speculation and fact, ours do the same. We have an advantage as believers, however. Our short-term speculation is tempered by prophetic long-term fact.
People who make a business of reading trends are telling us that self-styled Yuppies have reached a fork in the road. According to researcher George Barna of the Barna Research Group, “Adults of the baby boom cohort have apparently ‘burned out’ on popular culture.”
“Privatized” people who were only interested in their personhood, possessions, and pleasures are reaping disillusionment. Technological toys have gone cold in their hands; multiple marriages have not delivered much-sought happiness; and many have watched their offspring sucked into the quagmire of drugs and debauchery.
Like the woman Jesus met at the well in Samaria, there seems to be a developing longing to belong—to have relationships and interests outside of self.
The cults, occult, and New Age “liberators” are quickly moving in to capitalize and bring seekers into other forms of bondage. Nevertheless, there is a perceptible yearning for reality which will only increase in the coming years.
According to statistics and street-level observation, population growth in the United States is being fueled by new waves of immigrants. For example, Asian families are growing at 14 times the rate of the native population. Hispanics are increasing at five times the rate. Muslims are claiming as many as six million immigrants and converts in North America.
Jewish people from the Soviet Union and Eastern bloc countries are beating at the doors of hospitable countries attempting to get in while there is time. An irony of the Soviet situation was expressed by a speaker who recently said, “There seems to be much more willingness by the Russians to let them out than there is among other countries to let them in—this includes America.”
Add Africans, Central Americans, Lebanese, and a host of others to the mix and you see a world in flux. And, given the measure of upheaval and unrest among the nations, one can safely conclude that the next ten years will bring much more of the same—we might even say, a world of refugees.
The most unpredictable element in the 90s mix is the Soviet Union and her Communist cohorts. For all of the change toward democratization which Gorbachev has been willing to countenance in Eastern Europe, he has thus far drawn the line at the Soviet border. Undoubtedly, there will be violent repression in some sectors, as has been true in China and Romania.
Two facts shade the picture of developments in the Communist world. First, Communism has sanctified atheism as a political entity—a phenomenon which squares to a point with the “Big Lie” of the last days. It is a lie which declares man capable of living independent from God. Communism has found, however, that a totally no God concept goes beyond what man is able to accommodate or, for that matter, what Satan is prepared to offer. There is a place for religion cut out in the heart of man—a place which must be filled. Satan aspires to fill it with a counterfeit Christ—his Antichrist. What we are witnessing, therefore, may be a change in tactics. Apostate religion will placate people who recognize the value of religious regulations without embracing the reality which can only be found in Christ.
Second, Ezekiel 38 makes it clear that a major invasion is shaping up (the initial battle of the Armageddon campaign). A sector of the world desperate to feed its people will covet the riches of the Middle East, particularly Israel with her Dead Sea chemical treasure trove. Beyond this, they will serve Satan’s obsession to destroy the Jewish people with their design “to turn [a] hand upon the … people that are gathered out of the nations” (Ezek. 38:12).
Events in the Communist world over the past several months provide lessons which must not be lost to believers entering this climactic decade. The disintegration of the Communist economic system came about with bewildering speed. Consequently, almost literally overnight, the entire political structure was realigned and new realities were in place.
This seems to be the pattern of the last days. It certainly reflects the swift succession of events outlined in The Revelation as the Tribulation period unfolds. One can, therefore, easily understand how quickly, subsequent to the Rapture of the Church, the Antichrist will be introduced and the series of events outlined in 2 Thessalonians and corresponding passages will be set in motion.
Prophetic scholars have: historically kept a close watch on developments in Europe—and with good reason. Daniel’s prophetic picture of the last days tells of a revived Roman Empire that will ultimately usher the Antichrist onto the stage of human history (Dan. 7:15–28).
Revelation 17 and 18 project graphic details of upheavals occurring between apostate religion and the marauding merchant kings of the reunified Empire.
Thus, the plunge toward reunification which we are currently witnessing leads many to conclude that a United States of Europe is in the making—a state which will produce the blasphemous Antichrist.
Nineteen ninety-two is a dramatic step on the road to reunification (see Dr. Showers’ article). The democracy-fueled revolutions in Eastern Europe and the drive to reunite the two Germanys emphasize the desire to experience unity and peace. The cry for “Peace and safety” (1 Th. 5:3) is coming from both sides of the shredded Iron Curtain. In the eyes of many Western leaders, the time is right.
Time magazine expressed the mood succinctly: “Europe is changing fast: ideological divisions are disappearing, borders are being blurred, and the Continent is coming together in ways that are forcing the rest of the world to take notice” (September 18, 1989).
For prophetic students, two elements are becoming important factors in the entire scenario. First, the rise of papal influence as a major player cannot be ignored. Events in Poland have demonstrated emphatically that the Vatican is ready and willing to be a major force in a reconstituted Europe.
A second feature of growing importance is Europe’s increasing involvement in the Middle East. This is reflected in statements coming from the Mid East and Europe.
French President Francois Mitterrand was recently quoted as saying, “Only Europe can stand up to the other powers that dominate the world.” Further amplification is seen in other press releases. “In the Middle East, France seems to be bidding to take the lead role, seeking to negotiate a cease-fire in Lebanon” (Time, September 18, 1989).
Israelis agree that a stronger tie with Europe is an economic and political necessity. Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated Israel’s position in an article written for the Jerusalem Post last September:
We will need to bolster our representation to the EC (European Community) to coordinate Israel’s economic activities—and to represent Israel’s political interests.
As Europe’s political and economic clout grows, so will its stature in world affairs, and its influence will be felt in the policies of other nations.
The merging giant that is Europe can help in the quest for peace in the Middle East by using its considerable influence in the Arab world towards these ends. Israel is prepared for a serious dialogue with Europe because we believe that Europe can make a difference.
A question that can be anticipated is, What part will the United States play? Although the Bible does not give specific details of America’s role in future events, the best guess is that the United States will probably be aligned with Western European interests. An advertisement in the Jerusalem Post, placed by the Government of Israel Economic Offices, gave an interesting twist to America’s relationship to Europe in the post-1992 era with this headline: “ISRAEL—America’s Bridge to Europe After 1992.”
The most fascinating aspect of developments in Europe in 1992 and beyond is the question of who will lead. Even now there is considerable jockeying for position by some who aspire to be perceived as the mastermind behind European unity. Bible students know, of course, that Satan has his candidate waiting in the wings.
How much time will transpire, how many setbacks will be encountered, and just how things will finally develop are unknown at the moment. But things appear to be shaping up with astonishing rapidity, and one day the word will come to a credulous world which is grasping for peace, prosperity, and security—Europe’s Super-Hero Has Been Chosen.
Israel’s future holds the promise of at least three significant peace agreements.
- Israeli/Palestinian Accord: Israelis and Palestinians are increasingly wearied with the uprising which is entering its third year. It is clear that Palestinians cannot wish themselves a state on the West Bank and Gaza and that all the protesting they can marshal will not force Israel to give in to their demands. And, while no permanent solution to the Arab/Israeli conflict will come until the Messiah settles the issue once and for all, it is likely that some sort of interim agreement will be reached—perhaps relatively soon.
- Peace Pact with the Antichrist: Daniel 9:27 clarifies the fact that the Antichrist, as the political leader of Western Europe, will forge a temporary peace agreement with Israel during the first phase of the Tribulation period. It will be hailed by the world as a masterstroke in man’s quest for peace. There is the possibility, if the Rapture is indeed at hand, that a peace agreement with the Palestinian Arabs and the peace agreement which the Antichrist will introduce could be one and the same.
- Peace Agreement with the Messiah: Real peace will be entered into when Israel recognizes her rejected Messiah and calls for Him to come and deliver the surviving remnant at the close of the Tribulation period. Israel’s turning to Christ will be the final answer to prayers that have risen before the throne over the millennia—prayers pleading for the “peace of Jerusalem” (Ps. 122:6). Perhaps those prayers will be answered in this final decade of the millennium.
Evidence abounds to attest that the 90s will not be a business-as-usual decade. Increasingly, there is a sense of expectancy tied to the events cascading about us. Something big is about to happen. Believers should, therefore be eager and busily occupying until He comes.
The circumstances outlined above make it incumbent that Christians be attuned to prophetic realities and possess a prophetic frame of reference as they live out their lives and witness. Pastors should be sensitive, as never before, to their responsibility to keep churches tracked on time-redeeming service, not on self.
The 90s will demonstrate that we occupy a globe glutted with refugees. That fact alone shouts for the mobilization of our total resources in a monumental missionary effort to reach great masses of people while there is time and a favorable environment in which to work. The 80s witnessed the development of the assimilated Christian who continually asked the question, “What are you going to do for me?” And we responded with a deluge of programming designed to meet personal people needs. Today, that question is outmoded. We should be well enough informed and instructed to begin to ask, with our entire beings, “What can I do for Christ and a perishing world?”
At this moment, one can open an ear to virtually any point on the globe and hear people, as did the Apostle Paul, crying, “Come over … and help us” (Acts 16:9). These pleas cannot go unheeded.
A few weeks ago, one of our readers sent me a clipping of an article by Paul Harvey that moved me deeply. It said, in part,
In today’s world where minute-by-minute changes are transpiring at warp speed, nothing symbolizes that change more than what’s just happened in the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem. Where doctors removed the heart of an Israeli soldier who’d been killed in an Arab guerrilla attack—and transplanted that healthy Israeli heart into a Palestinian Arab—that he might live.
That giving of life for life—the life of an avowed enemy—illustrates, in a small way, the magnitude of the issues addressed by the gospel. God sent His Son (Jn. 3:16) to pour out His life as a sacrifice for sinners (Isa. 53) in order to implant His life into those who would trust Him (Jn. 1:12).
Like those skilled physicians at Hadassah Medical Center, we, as believers, have been entrusted with the ability to impart life. But, while their gift is limited to temporarily prolonging physical life, our gift is “eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). This Decade of Destiny will give us unimagined opportunities to share the Gift.