Jan 03 - What Will Happen In 2016

What Will Happen In 2016

January 03, 2016

James 4:14,17

 


WHAT WILL HAPPEN IN 2016?

January 3rd, 2016


Last year at this time, many of the major events of 2015 were not, and perhaps, could not be predicted.


For example, no one that I know or listened to on the news one year ago, predicted that the mass migration known as the Syrian refugee crisis would happen.  While small number of individuals had been crossing the Mediterranean Sea from North Africa to Europe for a number of years, it wasn’t until 137,000 migrants from Syria and Afghanistan crossed from Turkey into Greece during the first six months of last year, that the crisis began.  That number ballooned to about 1 million people by the end of December, many of the individuals fleeing the war in Syria, or the dangers they are faced with under the rule of Islamic State (ISIL – Islamic state of Iraq and Syria; Islamic State of Iraq and Levant).  There are over 4 million Syrians who are refugees, about half of them living in refugee camps.


The heartbreaking picture of the body of a young boy washed ashore on the shores of Turkey after an ill-fated attempt to journey to Greece during the night toward the end of August 2015, seemed to epitomize the tragedy and galvanized a lot of people in Europe into action.


In January of last year, it is unlikely that people would predicted that the Federal Liberal party under Justin Trudeau would gain a majority in parliament in the October 19th elections (184 out of 338 seats; 54 % even though only receiving 39.5 % of the vote). 


Maybe the distaste over the Duffy trial toward the end of the elections was highly damaging to the Conservative party. It was also true that the electorate was likely tired of the Progressive Conservatives.  While many Canadians applaud the new initiatives of the Liberal party, they might not be aware that these will boost the budget deficit to up to $10 billion annually over the next three years, something that will be added to the already existing $ 616 billion of national debt (every hour, Canada goes further into debt by c. $ 500,000).


No one would have ever predicted in January that in May of 2015, the Alberta NDP party, under leader Rachel Notley, would win a majority in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta (58.1% of vote) after 43 years of Progressive Conservative rule (1971-2015; and 37 years of Social Credit rule previously – 80 years of right wing parties), 54 seats out of 87, up from 4 seats in the previous election. 


As a result, this is the first year that Alberta will be running an expected $ 6.1 billion deficit in 2015 and increase to $ 36.6 billion by 2018.  


And while radicalized Islamists have now targeted civilians both in North America and Europe for some years now (most notably the 9/11 attack in 2001 which killed 3,400; the March 2004 commuter train bombings in Madrid that killed 191; and the July 2005 tube attacks in London, killing 59), it makes sense to anticipate at least some more of this.  


But I wonder how many individuals would have guessed that there would be two terror attacks in Paris in 2015, one on January 7th at the offices of the French satirical newspaper (Charlie Hebdo), which killed 12, including 4 cartoonists who lampooned Mohammed (in total 17 people were killed from Jan 7-9), and then the horror on November 13th, where 137 people lost their lives? 


I doubt too many people would have thought that Russia would join the struggle in Syria – but that in fact happened after Islamic State downed a passenger plane returning to Russia with a bomb (Oct 31), killing all 224 on board.  I doubt that anyone would have thought that Turkey would shoot down a Russian fighter plane that violated it’s airspace – least of all Russia (Nov 24).


Who would have guessed that Volkswagen purposefully installed software in 11 million of its diesel powered vehicles that cheated emission controls, particularly in the US and Europe.  The software could , that could detect test conditions and run the vehicle below its normal power and fuel consumption at those times.


On the other hand, there were events that took place that likely some individuals predicted.  Perhaps the death of Lenard Nimoy of Startreck fame in February … after all, he was 83 and in failing health, and in and out of hospitals for months. 


Or perhaps that flowing liquid water would be found on Mars in September, particularly because streaks running down the side of hills have been seen for many years and frozen water had already been discovered. 


Or, also in September, that 2,500 individuals would die at the Meccan Hadjj, crushed in a stampede – an event that just seems to reoccur almost yearly.  Over 1,400 were killed in a stampede in 1990, 270 in 1994, 118 in 1998, 35 in 2001, 14 in 2003, 251 in 2004, and 346 in 2006.  It was just that 2015 was the deadliest Hajj on record. 


The point is, that as we look into what the coming year may bring, there will be things that we can predict and others we simply cannot and will not predict.  So what about the former?  It’s pretty safe to say that …

The war in Syria and the struggle against Islamic State will continue.

The mess in Yemen will get worse.

More terror attacks in the name of Allah will happen, most of them in countries outside of North America and Europe, but perhaps another major one or two in the Western world that could not be prevented. 


More tensions over the South China Sea will arise between China, who lays claim to all of it, and the other countries in the region.


There will be increased conflict in Ukraine, Nigeria, and Burundi.


Hundreds of thousands more refugees from the Middle East and North Africa will try to make the journey into Western Europe to escape the violence and/or to improve their lot. 


Canada and its provinces will slide further into debt. 


Food prices will continue to increase dramatically. 


Greece will continue to default on its existing debts and seek a fourth financial bailout from the EU, rather than exiting from the EU, something dubbed “Grexit.” 


The electorate in Britain will very likely vote in a referendum on whether or not they want to leave the EU.


Deep sea oil development will expand.  The price of gas and oil will rise for consumer, even if the price of a barrel of crude is lower. 


Political corruption on a massive scale will continue to plague about ¾ of the world’s countries.


More corruption among sporting organizations, such as FIFA or the Olympic Committee, will come to light.


More countries and corporations will be hacked.  Cyberterrorism will be on the rise.


More personal information on the web or the cloud will be hacked and made public.


Another batman movie will likely be made.


New smart phones will come out. 


Windows 10 will continue to be pushed.


In August, the summer Olympics will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


Barack Obama will be replaced as president of the US, possibly by Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton … or someone else.


Mother Teresa will be canonized as a saint.


There will be devastating droughts in Africa, further increase in global temperatures, and more devastation due to changing weather patterns. 


Drought will continue to get worse in eastern China and the south-western US.


More summits will be held in light of the worsening pollution and its effects on climate and environment.


More electric cars will come on the market.


The European space agency will launch another probe to Mars.


The land speed record could be broken by the British rocket car known as “bloodhound”.


Research on gene manipulation in embryos will increase.


The overwhelming majority of people will continue to lead decent, unremarkable lives. 


These are all likely to happen.  Of course there is huge uncertainty over a host of other events, for example, if the West will agree to include Basher Al-Assad in the discussions about a political solution to the Syrian crisis. 


But what about the possibility that Jesus will return?  Is there any way to predict if that will happen in 2016?  I mean, everyone is speaking about the signs of the times … which will include:


JESUS’ RETURN IN 2016 BASED ON THE SIGNS OF THE END TIMES?


Daniel 12


Daniel 12:1 – a great time of trouble

Daniel 12:4 – increase in knowledge

Daniel 12:11 – burnt offering is taken away and the abomination that makes desolate is set up


JESUS’ RETURN IN 2016 BASED ON THE SIGNS OF THE END TIMES?


Matthew 24 (cf. Mark 13; Luke 21)


Matt 24:4-5,11,24 – false prophets and Messiahs will rise and deceive many [cf. 1 John 2:18 – many antichrists]

Matt 24:6-7 - Wars and rumours of wars; nation rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom

Matt 24:7 – famines (Luke 21:11 adds “pestilence”)


Matt 24:7 - earthquakes in various places (Luke 21:11 adds “terrors and great signs from heaven”).

Matt 24:9-10 – persecution and killing of Christians and subsequent falling away (and betraying one another and hating one another)

Matt 24:12 – increase in “sin” (lawlessness); love for God decreases

Matt 24:14 – good news preached to nations


Matt 24:15,21 – the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place followed by a great tribulation (Luke 21:20 adds that Jerusalem will be surrounded by armies)

Matt 24:37 / Lk 17:28 – like in the days of Noah and Lot – people unaware of impending doom (cf. 1 Thess 5:2-3)

Matt 24:44 – the coming of the son unexpected

Lk 21:25-26 – distress of nations due to the sea and waves roaring, powers of heavens shaken


Paul


1 Thess 5:3 – people say they have peace and safety/security

2 Thess 2:3 – the rebellion comes and the man of sin (lawlessness) is revealed

2 Thess 2:8-9 - the lawless one whom Jesus will kill, will be revealed and will do great acts of power and false signs to deceive many …

2 Thess 2:11 - … those on whom God will send a strong delusion because they have pleasure in unrighteousness


Speaking of his own day as the last days:


1 Tim 4:1-3 – Some will depart from the faith as they devote themselves to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons (which include abstinence from marriage and food – false asceticism)

[cf. 2 Peter 2:1-3 – false teachers who follow their sensuality, exploit the believers because of their greed, and deny Jesus]

2 Tim 3:2-6 – people in the church will love sin and pleasure

2 Tim 4:3-4 – people in the church won’t listen to sound teaching but follow teachers that allow them to indulge their own desires


JESUS’ RETURN IN 2016 BASED ON THE SIGNS OF THE END TIMES?


Revelation


Describes the great tribulation that was to take place in the near future (1:3; 22:10), beginning with the so-called four horsemen of the apocalypse (conquering, war, increase in food costs, death due to violence, famine, pestilence, wild beasts), and ending with the fall of “Babylon” (18:1-24) and the 1,000 year messianic reign (20:1-6) prior to the final destruction of Satan on the day of judgment (20:7-15).   


To tell you the truth, almost every generation of believers since the second century were convinced that Jesus could potentially return in their own time and have predicted dates for this to happen.  I’m just going to single out a few individuals from a cast of hundreds and hundreds:


The church father Irenaeus (130-202) predicted that Jesus would come back in the year 500. 

Pope Sylvester II (946-1003) predicted that Jesus would come back in the year 1000.

One of the first Anabaptists, Thomas Müntzer (1489 – 1525), predicted that the beginning of Jesus’ 1000 year reign would begin in 1525.


Isaac Newton (1643-1727) predicted that Jesus would return in the year 2000.

The famous founder of the Methodists, John Wesley (1703-1791), predicted the beginning of the millennium as 1836.



Joseph Smith (1805-1844), the founder of the Mormon church, predicted that Jesus would return in 1891.

Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916), the founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, predicted that Jesus would return in 1874.


Herbert W. Armstrong (1892-1986), founder of the World Wide Church of God, predicted numerous dates for Jesus return between 1935 - 1975.

Jerry Falwell (1933-2007) predicted in 1999 that Jesus would return within 10 years.

Harold Camping (1921-2013), evangelist and radio broadcaster, predicted that the rapture and subsequently the great tribulation would take place in 2011. 


Like I said, those are just a very tiny smattering of individuals who have falsely predicted Jesus’ return – and even believers in the first century thought that Jesus would return in their lifetime:


The end of all things is at hand.                         1 Peter 4:7


Children, this is the last hour.                             1 John 2:18


You see the day drawing near. … Yet in a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay.                                                                                                     Hebrews 10:24,37


For the early church, it became a problem when Jesus didn’t occur quickly, which is why we read in 2 Peter:


Scoffers will come in the last days who will scoff, saying, “Where is the fulfillment of the promise of Jesus’ (second) coming?”                            2 Peter 3:3-4


The reality is that Christians should NEVER predict the time of Jesus’ return.  Instead, they should always be ready to enter God’s presence at any moment of their lives. 


We should live as if today or tomorrow or the next day, or next week, or next month, or next year, will be the time when we meet our Maker in one way or another.  We should keep short accounts.  We should make our lives count every day.  We should not put off living a life of devotion to God for when we graduate or retire.  That, Jesus told us in his parables, is utter foolishness.  James echoes that sentiment:


You do not know what tomorrow will bring.  What is your life?  You are but a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. … Whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

                                                                        James 4:14,17


In essence, you and I also have a lot of uncertainty as we look at 2016.  What will happen to us in 2016? Will it bring greater financial stability or instability?  Will it bring increased health or increased health issues for ourselves or our loved ones?  Will it bring greater unity and love into our relationships or perhaps greater disunity and dysfunction?  


There are so many variable factors.  On the one hand there are factors that we can influence by the choices we make today and the choices we made last year.  And there will be factors that we have absolutely no control over.  And all those variable factors will determine what kind of year 2016 will be for us – good, bad, or ugly.


A number of things are for sure – we will face some problems, some pain, and some stress this year.  It’s inevitable.  But, just as inevitable, we will also experience moments of happiness and joy.  And most of that will be determined to a large extent by what happens to us. 


But the kind of year we will have will also be determined, first, by our own choices, and second, by our own mindset, by our attitude, by the way that we act and react to what we experience. 


As the apostle Paul wrote as he sat in chains with the real threat of execution hanging over his head: He had found the secret of being content in each and every circumstance, regardless of whether things went poorly or well.  But he also wrote that this is not humanly possible, but something that he found as he leaned on God (Phil 4:11-13).


So what was part of Paul’s mindset that enabled him to learn this secret?  He actually gives us some hints in the very same letter:


Rejoice in the Lord always …

Let others see how reasonable you are …

Don’t worry about anything but pray about everything with thanksgiving …

Think about all the things that are true, honourable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise …

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.                                     Philippians 4:4-9


WHAT KIND OF ALTERNATIVES CAN I CHOOSE THAT WILL MAKE 2016 THE BEST YEAR EVER?

WHAT KIND OF ACTIONS CAN I TAKE TO FULLY LIVE FOR GOD IN 2016?

WHAT KIND OF ATTITUDE CAN I FOSTER IN THE MIDST OF THE GOOD AND THE BAD THAT WILL ALLOW ME TO FEEL CONTENTED AND AT PEACE IN 2016?


Maybe you need to rejoice more.

Maybe you need to become more reasonable.

Maybe you need to pray more and worry less.

Maybe you need to think more about all the things that are right and good in the world and in your life.

Or maybe there is something else, possibly something very specific, that God is saying to you right now.


Why not limit yourself to setting one goal for 2016 and really working on accomplishing it?

Take many small steps that will help to accomplish what you want.  Begin today.  What can you do today that will help you to move toward accomplishing your overall goal?  Even small lifestyle changes can add up to a big positive difference over time.

Choose a word that will epitomize your focus for 2016.

Design a vision board with images and words that resonate with you- what you want for your future, goals, things that make you happy.

Start a gratitude journal.

Learn something new.  A new hobby, a new skill. 

Get past the past.  Forgive and don’t get hung up about past hurts and slights.

Overcome perfectionism.

Spend time with like-minded people.

Get rid of the thought that it’s too late for you to change your life or behaviour in 2016.

Or the thought that, because of the lousy hand you’ve been dealt, that you have to shoot low!

Give back or pay it forward.

If life is hectic, sleep more.  Get more rest.

Think about what fills your emotional tank and do that.

If you have difficulty saying “no,” get better at it.