One of the jokes from last year’s Understanding the Times conference in a Minneapolis suburb was that the rapture is the true example of separation of church and state.
For those with less training in end-times studies, the rapture is the event when the faithful of the church meet God in heaven, and as for the “state” part, well, you get the idea.
Now the lineup of speakers has been announced for the 2013 conference, scheduled at Grace Church in Eden Prairie, Minn., just outside of Minneapolis, Saturday, Oct. 5.
Mark Hitchcock, the pastor of Faith Bible Church in Edmond, Okla., will be returning. He’s the person many in secular media tap when they seek to connect secular events with Bible prophecy, as he’s authored 25 books on end-time issues.
It was Hitchcock during the 2012 conference who said that sometimes God’s judgment on a nation is the wrath of abandonment. That is, he said, when God allows a nation to pursue its own ways and suffer the consequences.
Also on the roster this year is Joseph Farah, author, journalist and conference speaker who is the founder and CEO of WND.com, the world’s leading independent news site.
He has written for such publications as the Wall Street Journal, National Review and the Los Angeles Times and has collaborated on books for Rush Limbaugh and Hal Lindsey.
Also speaking will be Ron Rhodes, the head of Reasoning from the Scriptures Ministries. He has written dozens of books and addresses the national media on current issues.
And Jan Markell will speak. She is founder and director of Olive Tree Ministries, which sponsors the annual event.
At last year’s conference, famed Christian speaker Erwin Lutzer said that judgment follows the separation of God from government, and sometimes Christians need to “put a spoke in the wheel” to stop a nation’s descent into moral bankruptcy.
Jonathan Cahn, author of “The Harbinger” book and the inspiration behind “The Isaiah 9:10 Judgment,” the bestselling Christian book of 2012 and the bestselling faith movie of the year, also spoke.
He talked about the signs that God is about to judge a nation: when it rules God out of its public square, promotes immorality, calls evil good and good evil, turns to other gods and offers its children as sacrifices.
Markell, an accomplished author and speaker, hosts a radio program syndicated on 551 Christian radio stations.
Several years ago, she began hosting the annual “Understanding the Times” conference, which draws 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 in an interview.
At last year’s event, Hitchcock said the need for understanding is becoming more pressing.
“It’s as if today’s headlines were written 2,600 years ago,” Hitchcock said.
He pointed to one prophecy he feels is nearing fulfillment. Known by those watching prophecy as the Gog-Magog war, the text of the prophecy can be found in Ezekiel 38. It describes an alliance of nations that go to war with Israel.
What makes this century different than any other, said Hitchcock, is that Israel has once again been reconstituted, as described in Ezekiel 37 in the prophecy of the “Dry Bones.”
He says that nations such as Russia, Iran, Libya and Turkey have never been allies throughout history, and yet, here in modern times, each of those countries is not only prominent in the headlines, they seem to be forming alliances, none too friendly with Israel.
“All of the Ezekiel 38 nations are identifiable today and are forging alliances with each other,” said Hitchcock.
He also points out that the prophecy indicates that the warring nations attack Israel with “spoil” on their minds and that until just a few years ago, Israel didn’t have much value to offer.
“As of 2010, it was discovered that Israel sits on natural gas and oil fields that suddenly makes their land very appealing,” said Hitchcock.
While a prophecy manifesting itself before the world may be unsettling to some, Hitchcock was sure to provide comfort as well.
“God is in control,” he said. “This is His story.”
See highlights from 2012: