Some thoughts on 2023

The Israeli intelligence agencies recently issued a report outlining their general assessments of the world and their predictions for what will happen in the near-to-medium term future. The report I saw about this document in the Jerusalem Post characterized it as a summary of these findings by the Mossad, Shin Bet, and other agencies tasked with providing Israel’s political and military leadership with their best guess about what’s going to happen next in the world. The short version of these findings, according to the JPost, is that they believe “the world is standing on the edge of a cliff” and that at the inevitable moment when it falls off the edge of that cliff, the world will go through an intense period of chaotic change that will end with the world looking much different than it does today.

Brothers and sisters, I don’t know what information the authors of that report had access to, but just from the open-source information I can see on my computer screen every day, I think they’re probably right.

Right at the start, I want to make it clear that I have never claimed to be a “prophet” like Jeremiah, Zechariah, Daniel, and all those guys. I don’t even claim to be like Jonah or Obadiah or one of the other “minor” prophets. I’m just a guy who works in a field where I see a lot of data points that, when taken together, add up to patterns that resemble historical sequences of events which led to seasons that somewhat resemble what we’re in right now and can give us an idea of what might be coming next.

So, with all that in mind, here are a few things I see coming in 2023 for Israel, the Church of Jesus Christ, and the world in general.

1) Shortages of just about everything and ridiculously high prices for what IS available.

Global supply chains are in a shambolic mess, for everything from food to energy and everything in between. Factories and farms are shutting down all over the world because they can’t get the basic raw materials they need to make stuff and the fertilizer and seeds they need to grow food. But even if they could, the means to move the products and food they produce to market is also jammed up.

A worldwide shortage of diesel and spare parts is already affecting the availability of the trucks, ships, and locomotives that move stuff from factories and food from farms to malls and supermarkets where people can buy the finished and/or processed end product.

2) An increase in the size, scale, intensity, and destructive power of natural disasters.

As I’m sitting here writing this, many of my friends in the American midwest, where I went to university a lifetime ago, are suffering through one of the deepest deep freezes in their short but sweet lifetimes. The pictures they’re posting on Facebook of snow drifts ten feet tall in front of their houses, selfies next to thermometers showing the temperature is -30 degrees and even colder, etc. bring back memories of the “storm of the century” that hit the midwest when I was there back in 1997, and make me glad I’m now in the balmy Eastern Mediterranean. But people I know in Florida are also posting pics like that, which is something I’ve never seen before and never thought I would.

This is one example of many storms that are happening all over the world. Some weather phenomena are happening in places where they haven’t been seen in decades, if not centuries. This includes blizzards in Saudi Arabia, and forest fires in northern Sweden and Russia at latitudes above the Arctic Circle.

I know some persist in saying this is “just weather” and nothing to get overly concerned about but the problem with this is that the “storm of the century” which I experienced in North Dakota back in 1997 has come again three times in the 25 years since then. Every time there is a repeat of a “storm of the century” just a few years after the last one happened, it gets harder and harder to take the “it’s just weather” mantra seriously.

If you don’t want to believe that human activity is causing these increasingly severe weather events, fine. Candidly, I think that question is not even relevant anymore. The fact is, the weather IS getting more extreme, all over the world, and it’s a trend that only looks set to keep increasing and accelerating.

3) A rise in anti-Semitism against Jews and persecution of Christians.

When tough socioeconomic times come, it almost axiomatically leads to a rise in anti-Semitism. This is already evident in countries where anti-Semitism has long been an issue, like in Eastern Europe. But it’s now becoming an alarmingly normative part of the experience of Jewish students at institutions of higher learning all over the Western world, including the United States. A recent study published by a Jewish advocacy group in the US actually listed Harvard, the most prestigious university in the US, as the most hostile environment for Jewish university students.

New York City, of all places, has become a hotbed of anti-Semitic violence. Senior political, cultural, and academic figures in several Western countries have openly and unapologetically expressed anti-Semitic sentiments with little or no pushback.

If you’re reading this, I probably don’t have to tell you that hostility towards Biblical Christianity is on the rise everywhere, probably including wherever you’re reading this.

4) A rise in wars and armed conflict around the world

I could easily write a book about all the geopolitical tensions in the world right now. The war in Ukraine has already consumed tens of thousands of lives and massive stockpiles of weapons and military equipment. Most of the world’s major powers are scrambling to build new weapons and equipment as fast as they can. The money, infrastructure, and effort governments invest in war will not be available for all the other things their people need, and this will make even more problems for everyone and make wars and civil unrest even more likely.

There are many other things I can see coming in the near-to-medium term future, but even if this short list were all that I could see coming, I’d still be very worried. These trends feed off of and into each other since hungry, frightened people are quick to turn on each other and quick to turn on those amidst them who they don’t understand or like. In good times, people can ignore the things about their neighbors that irritate and/or frighten them, but when times get tough, the fear and irritation tend to crowd out other considerations and the veneer of ‘civilization” that just barely covers up that fear and irritation slips away.

Some of us are old enough to remember a country that used to exist in Eastern Europe called “Yugoslavia” and what happened there in the mid-1990s when the iron fist of the central government in Belgrade collapsed. I think something like what happened there will happen in many other countries around the world by the end of this decade.

This brings me to my last prediction for 2023.

5) The importance for Believers to be plugged into a local congregation where the congregants make a daily effort to read the Bible, pray and be in fellowship with each other, which has always been high, will get much higher in 2023 and beyond.

Brothers and sisters, it’s been “go time” for the past 2,000 years, ever since Jesus told His followers, as recorded in Matthew 28: 19-20, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to follow all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

But now, I’d say “go time” is being kicked into high gear, and the time we have left to do what our Heavenly Father has commanded us to do before He sends His Son Jesus Christ back to this earth is rapidly running out.

If you’re still reading this blog, I’m asking you (and myself) to take a serious look at ourselves to determine if we’re being obedient to that command. If we’re going to be obedient, we have to equip ourselves, and that means daily Bible reading, prayer and fellowship.

On that note, I will hereby make my annual suggestion that my readers download the One Year Bible app or, if you’re old-fashioned, get a hard copy of the One Year Bible from wherever you buy books. They make a great December gift (although the holidays where people like to give each other gifts will likely already have passed by the time you read this.)

But it’s never too late to start reading the Bible every day, and the One Year Bible is the best system I know of to help people do this.

Brothers and sisters now is not the time to be afraid, although in the natural there are plenty of reasons for fear and anxiety. Now is the time to keep our eyes on the prize and lean into what we know we must do to attain it. My prayer for you is that 2023 will be the year you get to the point you’ve long been striving for, where you know that you know that you know that you’re doing the will of your Father in Heaven, and you’re ready to meet Him face to Face.

That’s what I’ve got for you this week brothers and sisters. I’ll see you next year.