It doesn’t take long for those with an interest in Bible prophecy to begin drawing comparisons to the study of what the Bible calls the “end times” to today’s news headlines.
To them the book of Matthew, Chapter 24, reads like the front page of the New York Times.
Jesus’ disciples asked him in Matthew 24 for a sign of the “end of the world.” He answered their question with a series of events to watch for, and so began the job of those who would watch for these things to take place.
One such person is Jan Markell, who runs Minnesota’s Olive Tree Ministries. Markell, a Messianic Jewish believer, is an accomplished author and speaker, and hosts a radio program syndicated on 551 Christian radio stations, called “Understanding the Times Radio.”
Several years ago, she also began hosting an annual conference called “Understanding the Times,” which she holds in a large, suburban Minneapolis church, to larger and larger crowds every year.
“When I look at the headlines, I see America imploding, the Middle East on fire and I see the church in a state of apostasy,” the founder of Olive Tree Ministries told WND.
Those subjects will be the focus of the upcoming “Understanding the Times 2012 Conference,” to be held in the suburbs of Minneapolis on Oct. 5 and 6.
The ministry brings in speakers to give context to end-times eschatology, or the study of the end times, from a Biblical perspective, and this year the conference promises to bring in large crowds of people eager to understand what is happening in the world, and specifically in America.
“We try to look at the issues in the church, geopolitical issues, everything from a biblical perspective,” Markell told WND. “Everywhere people are looking for stability. The Bible says God is the stability of our times.
“Our effort is to get people to focus on the stability of God in times that are completely unstable.”
This year the conference may draw an even larger crowd, as one of the main speakers is Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, author of “The Harbinger.”
“The Harbinger” rose to the top of the New York Times Bestseller list, and hasn’t retreated since it was published in January. Right on its heels came the video, “The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment, which quickly became the No. 1 faith film in the country.
Cahn, pastor of the Jerusalem Center-Beth Israel Congregation in Wayne, N.J., says America is uncannily re-enacting ancient Israel’s behavior prior to its judgment and eventual fall. He found a sympathetic ear for his message in WND founder Joseph Farah, who produced “The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment” as a followup to “The Harbinger.”
“If you believe in the Bible as the word of God, there’s no question in my mind you will be touched and moved by this presentation,” Farah says about “The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment.”
“This teaching has literally changed my life – given me new purpose and commitment and passion.”
Likewise, Markell told WND that Cahn has “tapped into something that urgently is needed by the people.”
She said while there are factions in America today laughing at the idea of repentance – a main thrust of “the Harbinger” – that’s exactly the message in the Bible.
Both the book and the movie show the uncanny parallels between events prior to the dispersion of Israel and events taking place in the U.S. today. In fact, the events continue to unfold even after the release of the book and movie.
“In addition to sharing the message of ‘The Harbinger’ at the ‘Understanding the Times Conference,’ I will share a number of things that have recently happened in America. The signs are still happening,” Cahn told WND.
The events Cahn speaks of have all taken place since Sept. 11, 2001, and they all connect to Isaiah 9:10.
“The ancient vow begins with these words: ‘The bricks have fallen, but we will rebuild with hewn stone,’” explains Cahn. “The vow declares Israel’s defiance of God, in the face of a devastating strike on the land. The hewn stone, which begins the rebuilding, symbolizes the nation’s intention to come back stronger than before.
“The book then reveals the parallel to proclamations by Barack Obama in his first State of the Union message, then Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle the day after 9/11 to a joint session of Congress and former senator and vice presidential candidate John Edwards on the third anniversary of 9/11.”
Cahn told WND that since the Harbinger was released, “What’s in it is still coming to pass.
“People are stunned when they see these things in the news,” he said.
When asked what the final outcome of the Isaiah prophecy meant for Israel, and now in the view of many who see the parallels to modern America, Cahn told WND, “God’s judgment.”
“The end of the progression in the Biblical template is national judgment, and the fact that the signs are continuing, mean that America has not turned back to God,” he said.
Cahn also wants people to know that “judgment is ultimately about hope.”
“If there were no hope, there would be no reason for God to give us signs. There would be no point in warning us, if we weren’t able to seek forgiveness,” he said.
Despite those naysayers who doubt his vision and perception, Cahn says the message is this, “II Chronicles 7:14 says, ‘If My people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.’ These principles also apply to America.”
Markell tells WND that the naysayers in question “cry out about it being too late for America.”
“They say that America is not in the Bible, so we are going away – it’s too late.”
But regardless of what a few people think, the focus of the “Understanding the Times” conference is just that, a place for people to gain a perspective from the Bible on current events.
Markell tells WND that the emphasis of the conference will be on “America – Present and Future, and where does America fit in to end times Biblical prophecy.”
Besides Cahn, Mark Hitchcock will speak about what is currently happening in the Middle East, in a session called, “Middle East on Fire.” Hitchcock has authored over 20 books about the end times, and is a leading Christian voice on the Mayan 2012 prophecy.
Well-known correspondent Bill Koenig, who writes a weekly 14-page news report called “Koenig’s Eye View from the White House” that focuses on world news that is biblically relevant and White House news from a Christian perspective, will speak about the “Consequences of God’s Judgment on America.”
Another well-known author and speaker, Dr. Erwin Lutzer, from Moody Church in Chicago will speak about “When a Nation Forgets about God.”
The conference is free to attendees, and Markell tells WND that people from all over the world usually come.
Here are some highlights of the 2011 conference: