Is there hope for an America that has lost its way and may even now be under the judgment of God?
The annual Understanding the Times conference, to be held this year at Grace Church in Eden Prairie, Minn., on Saturday, Oct. 5, is dedicated to recognizing the movement of God for “just such a time as this” and seizing hold of the hope that is yet before us.
Jan Markell, founder and director of Olive Tree Ministries, which sponsors the annual event, had the opportunity to preview the conference by speaking to two of its scheduled speakers, WND editor and CEO Joseph Farah and Mark Hitchcock, pastor of Faith Bible Church in Edmond, Okla.
For Farah, the hope for America’s future lies not in the hands of men, but in an ancient biblical call to fall on the mercies of God.
“I don’t think we’re going to really positively turn the direction of this country around through the politicians and government institutions and frankly even the popular culture, media and all those institutions that really are going in the wrong direction,” Farah told Markell.
“There’s only one thing I believe that can save us … 2 Chronicles 7:14,” he said. “There is a prescription in the Bible that God gives us. … He told us what we needed to do. If we did four things, he would do three things, and one of those was heal our nation. And I believe that was a promise just as much to America today as it was to ancient Israel.”
Listen to Markell’s interviews, first with Farah and then with Hitchcock, below:
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 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.
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: