By Nathan Jones
What will be the biggest world challenge of 2010?
That question was posed by "The Christ in Prophecy Journal" blog's January 2010 poll. A wide variety of answers were selected by the 468 respondents, but one particular challenge was chosen above all the rest. Which one was most voted on, and looking back at 2010, was it the correct prediction? We'll look at each challenge and its tally in the poll below and then speculate on what world challenges 2011 may hold.
The lowest ranked challenge for 2010 was Climate Change (7 voters or 1%).
As much of the northeast United States shovels out of the "Blizzard of 2010" and the peoples of the European Union teeth chatter in what is expected to be the coldest winter in recorded history, none but the most dedicated global warming enthusiasts are still totally dedicated to the idea that the earth is heating up. The fears that eventually the ice caps will melt and flood Manhattan, San Francisco and Seattle (where most of the climate change activists appear to live) continue to be pounded into the minds of the world population by global elitists, the Obama administration and seemingly every other word spoken on PBS programming. And yet, according to our poll, the general population isn't quite convinced.
While an Earth growing warmer wasn't at the top of people's biggest concerns for 2010, the weather turned out to be, as APNews frightfully labeled 2010, "The year the Earth struck back." The article reports, "Earthquakes, heat waves, floods, volcanoes, super typhoons, blizzards, landslides and droughts killed at least a quarter million people in 2010 — the deadliest year in more than a generation. More people were killed worldwide by natural disasters this year than have been killed in terrorism attacks in the past 40 years combined."
The year began with the shattering earthquake in Haiti which killed nearly 220,000 people, followed by Chile's earthquake in February which was 500 times stronger than Haiti's quake, ending the year with 20 earthquakes of magnitude 7.0 or higher. In the summer, Russia experienced a heat wave and wild fires that fairly ended their wheat exportation. Floods engulfed 59 nations, especially in Asia, killing "almost 17,000 people, more people than all the worldwide airplane crashes in the past 15 years combined." China and the Philippines were lashed by the 200 mph winds of Super Typhoon Megi.
FEMA in the United States declared a record number of freak major disasters — 79 as of December 14 — where the average year has 34. Through November 30, nearly 260,000 people have died this year of natural disasters, compared to 15,000 in 2009.
Whatever the claimed reasons behind the weather gone mad, 2010 ended up being an extremely bad year for weather-related disasters and deaths.
Mid-term Elections and Keeping Freedom
The second lowest ranked challenge for 2010 was the U.S. Mid-term Elections (8 voters or 1%). Much of the concerns for this pivotal election stemmed from the other more popular choice in Keeping Freedom (73 voters at 15%).
Since former President George W. Bush signed off on the first of a series of billion dollar bailouts of the American banking system, followed by the Obama administration's seemingly unbound agenda to incorporate every private system under the federal government's umbrella — conservatives and liberals alike (except for Hollywood and the Press) have noticed the rapid loss of constitutionally protected freedoms. In return for a shallow sense of security, Americans have passed our greed induced debt onto our grandchildren and set the Dollar up to eventually collapse into worthless obscurity.
With a government run entirely by the Democrat Party's unrealistic ideals aided by corrupt sell-out Republican politicians and judges ignoring the will of the people, the U.S. saw the meteoric rise of a whole new grassroots part — the TEA (Taxed Enough Already) Party. The result was a mid-term election that according to Wikipedia shattered record books as 82.5 million people switched gears and voted in mostly conservative Republicans. The Republican gain was a record 680 seats in state legislative races, six seats in the Senate, and an overwhelming majority of the 435 voting seats in the House of Representatives.
For many Americans, the taking of the House of Representatives by Republicans will restore the checks and balances lacking the last two years within our governmental system and will result in a slow-down of our loss of freedoms to a Socialistic agenda. Only the actions of the new 212th Congress in 2011-12 will reveal how impacting this challenge of 2010 was and what the United States' role will continue to be in world affairs.
Global Unity, Other and Just Surviving
The next ranked challenge for 2010 was Global Unity (14 voters or 2%) and the catch-all category of Other (11 voters or 2%).
According to Foreign Policy magazine, 33 conflicts raged around the world in 2010. From the bloody civil wars that are in eastern Congo and Chad and Pakistan, to the protests in Kashmir, to the electoral protests of the Green Revolution in Iran, to the bombings in the Koreas, to the infighting among Hamas in Gaza, to the almost decade long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — the world is a bloody place in which to live.
While there were no world wars to speak of for 2010 thankfully, if creating global unity was a challenge to be achieved in 2010, it was unsuccessfully met. Every peace prospect and olive branch seemed to fail, leaving the world waiting for the first domino to fall and start the chain reaction that will engulf the globe in World War III. No wonder 24 (5%) voters chose Just Surviving as a major challenge!
The next ranked challenge for 2010 was Persecution (29 voters or 6%). This category would include any type of persecution, whether religious or ethnic or otherwise, that one nation, people group or person inflicts upon another. For our audience, the major concern would have been persecution of Christians.
According to Open Doors ministry, "100 million Christians around the globe are currently suffering persecution for their faith." Persecution takes the form of imprisonment, abuse, and hostilities, but many in 2010 faced actual death.
The leading nation to persecute Christians was North Korea, where only the worship of the despotic "dear leader" Kim Jong-Il and his father Kim Il-Sung is allowed. And, in every country dominated by Islam, Christians felt the sting of terrible religious persecution as whole Christian villages in Africa were raided and hacked by Islamic hordes wielding machetes. Even in Iraq, a nation freed by Western "Christian" nations, Iraqi Christians were forced to flee from the country, and for those who stayed, celebrate Christmas invisibly behind locked doors.
The free world saw the United Kingdom accept to a growing degree the archaic Sharia Law — the oppressive Seventh Century Islamic legal system — filling the void Atheism has left in the morality of the European Union. North America, the truly last bastion of religious freedoms, continued to see the rights of Christianity get hacked away at as an onslaught of legal cases continues to push God out of the public and force Christians to the eventual goal of only practicing their faith in their heads alone.
The year 2010 saw an eroding of religious freedoms in the Free World and the outright disdain for religious freedoms in the Islamic world. While not voted as the greatest challenge, the persecution of Christianity is a tragically growing problem as the few remaining bastions of freedom shrink, leaving Christians with nowhere to go.
Another staggering challenge for 2010 was Economic (68 voters or 14%).
The summary numbers for 2010 are still being compiled, but the outlook financially for the world seems pretty grim. Dubbed "The Great Recession," the nations of the European Union, the United States, Japan and many others are teetering on full scale bankruptcy.
Nations like the United States have resorted to printing their own money (called Quantitative Easing) to lend to their own banks. The European Union has seen Greece and Ireland and soon Portugal and Spain borrow billions of euros to stabilize their overwhelming debts, leeching away the wealth of financially stable nations like Germany. Meanwhile, the world talks of a global currency that would replace the Dollar, meaning there's great doubt in the stabilizing power of the United States.
At what couldn't have been worse timing, these nations have elected liberal leaders who have created Socialistic laws that handcuff businesses and plunder Peter to pay Paul. From the Federal all the way down to the cities, governments are reeling under the weight of financial burdens from social programs that they can no longer afford. Companies are scared to hire, and the resulting unemployment rate of nearly 10% (some rate it more near 20%) has left many families desperate and dependent on welfare. These same families had already overspent well past their means, accumulating massive credit card debts.
The year 2010 saw everyone's greed finally catch up to them and governments borrow or print out of thin air insane amounts of money to stem the tide of red ink. Though some financial analysts say the world's pulling out of this slump, the economic disaster is seemingly far, far from over.
Jihadists, Middle East Wars, and a Nuclear Iran
Clearly the voters' focus was on the Middle East as the greatest challenge for 2010 as they chose Jihadists (51 voters or 10%), Middle East Wars (61 voters or 13%), and the most voted on — a Nuclear Iran (122 voters or 26%).
As anyone who has been felt up by a TSA agent at the local airport can tell you, the jihadist terrorists continue to blanket the world in fear. Ever since the fall of the World Trade Towers in September of 2011 finally got the nations serious about dealing with groups like Al-Qaeda, the world has been at war with the Islamic Jihadists.
While it seems 2010 saw great strides in pushing the terrorists out of Iraq and Afghanistan, new hideout countries like Pakistan and Yemen have become the new bases for terrorist operations. Even in the Free World countries, home grown Islamic youth are hearing the call of jihad and waging war on their very own birth nations. These very same governments ironically love on the Islamic peoples, futilely hoping that that will change their religious teachings to not subjugate our countries for Allah.
These very same Muslim extremists and their silent but supporting Islamic adherents are now ready to go all out against Israel to take possession of their land. The year 2010 saw one failed peace attempt after another to bring the so-called Palestinians and the Israelis to some sort of agreement.
The year also saw Hezbollah successfully take control of Lebanon, the world pour millions in aid to Gaza so Hamas could rearm, a new alignment of nations form within the Middle East against Israel, and the loss of Israel's strategic partners, especially the United States. Israel ends 2010 in a much more dangerous position than when they started the year. But, at least, 2010 didn't see the onset of any resulting Middle East wars.
All of the conflict coming out of the Middle East is being fueled by the country of Iran, as a quarter of our voters predicted would be the greatest challenge of 2010. The peoples of Iran were unable to overthrow the radically Islamic government in the last election. Meanwhile, the boisterous President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Ayatollah's who control him have plowed ahead full steam with their plan to usher in the Twelfth Imam and overthrow the world for Allah. Ahmadinejad has been very busy in 2010 advancing his relations with Russia, forging new allies with Turkey and in Latin America, setting up an Islamic crescent across the Middle East, and arming every nation and terror group hostile to Israel.
The greatest challenge of 2010 has become the greatest failure, as President Obama and the world at large failed to stop Iran's nuclear ambitions. Weak sanctions and watered down threats were no match for the intensity of purpose Iran sees in fulfilling Islamic prophecy. The only saving grace for 2010 was a little known but massively intricate computer virus called Stuxnet that has effectively slowed down the production of the weapon's grade uranium Iran has been refining, though not stopping the Iranian path to a nuclear bomb.
2010 in the Rearview
The year 2010 was for most, I believe, a nasty year that many would like to forget. If it wasn't the weather lashing mightily at us, it was the emptiness of our collective pocket books, the hopelessness of the unemployed, the stinging deaths of our family members on foreign sands, the fear of empires toppling, and crazed maniacs pointing guns or hacking with knives. Even our own government was out of control and seemed to view its own people with a paranoid eye.
The whole year felt like we were one step away from either total economic collapse or a war stemming from the Middle East that would engulf the entire planet. We could literally feel the hopelessness and tension in the air. It was not a good feeling.
2011 and Ahead
I agree with the majority of voters that a nuclear Iran was the biggest challenge of 2010. The world may have achieved a reprieve thanks to Stuxnet, but Iran is hell bent on blowing up Israel. Should it get the bomb in 2011, we will see the beginnings of a conflict that will reshape the Middle East and the world as we know it. This could go two ways — one good, one bad.
If Iran gets close to a nuclear weapon, Israel will be forced to attack Iran, and Iran will retaliate through their proxy nations. For students of Bible prophecy, we know that an all out war in the Middle East will turn out very good for Israel. For one, Iran's proxy nations surrounding Israel according to Psalm 83 will lose. Israel's arch enemy Syria will be devastated as their capital Damascus is destroyed in one day, most likely from nuclear weapons, as Isaiah 17 and Jeremiah 49 predict. Israel will control the region, providing a stable democratic influence. The wealth of resources Israel has will compound with their control over the region's oil, and a new economic stability will be granted to the world.
The bad scenario is that there will be too short a time for peace after the Psalm 83 war, because Iran and its new allies, led by Russia, will mount a campaign against Israel for its resources. This will be the war of Gog and Magog that is described in Ezekiel 38-39. These attacking nations are prophesied to be almost 85% destroyed, leaving almost a fourth of the world in tatters.
Also, the United States is absent from Bible prophecy, showing at this time it will have lost its strength to stabilize world affairs.
Coming up behind this war and to fill the power vacuum will be a call for global unity and governance, one predicted by the Bible which will end up giving the world a megalomaniac for a leader. He will instead plunge the planet into a nuclear world war.
John in Revelation 6 is told that the world will finally experience utter economic collapse. Jesus in Matthew 24 tells us the natural disasters will increase, and Revelation says they'll ravage the world to the point of environmental collapse.
It sounds like a pretty bleak future, doesn't it, especially if this all begins in 2011? There is hope, though. Despite all the violence, the upheavals and the disasters, Jesus promises in John 14:27 that He gives believers in Him an amazing gift. "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
Ephesians 6:12 tells us a spiritual battle rages behind world events like a hurricane. But, like being in the eye of the storm, Christians are given, by God, tranquility.
Believers in Christ also have something more, something extra, extra special. We have God's promise in 1 Corinthians 15:51-58 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 that Jesus will return to take His followers up with Him to Heaven in an event called the Rapture. This occurs before the really traumatic events listed above start befalling the whole world. This climatic time in history is called the Tribulation — seven years where God pours out His wrath upon the world for its continued rebellion against Him. And, according to all the terrible signs we've witnessed in 2010, the scenario is ripe to begin in 2011.
Believers in Christ are promised to be exempt from God's wrath and will not have to endure the Tribulation (1 Thes. 1:10; 5:9; Rom. 5:9; Eph. 5:6; Col. 3:4; Rev. 3:10). Have you grabbed hold of this promise and asked Jesus to be your Savior?
For believers in Christ, pray that God's promise of the Rapture will happen this 2011!