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2024

2024

I saw a cartoon the other day depicting a group of people peering fearfully around a corner towards a door marked ‘2024’. One of them was timidly poking the door open with a broomstick. I can’t reproduce it for you without infringing copyright and I was loath to even mention it because of the negative message it conveys. However, I think it puts the situation well because we have to face facts; our global and national situation is predominantly ‘negative’. I want so much to be optimistic as I peer through the slowly opening door of 2024, but I cannot.

It is better to face reality head-on and with open eyes, as we trust God to walk with us into the future.

There is every indication that 2024 could be a pivotal year for the world in general and South Africa in particular. What happens outside of my country will continue to affect us here at the tip of Africa, but it will also affect many of us personally through our family and friends in other parts of the world. However, I will only comment on the global situation in as much as it is likely to affect South Africa.

2024 Globally

It is obvious to anyone even vaguely politically, economically, and environmentally aware that the world is on an accelerating downward escalator.

Global warming, whatever its causes, has passed the critical point where the rate of change moved from rapid to exponential. Last year was, so say the experts, the hottest year in recorded human history, and there is no reason to think that this year will not be even worse. With this change come droughts, extreme weather conditions, and disruption. Food becomes scarcer and more expensive and people die or try to take over someone else’s patch of more productive land. The world population is on the move with emigrants and refugees swamping more stable and prosperous nations than the ones from which they are fleeing. This brings with it huge social and political instability and stress. War borders are expanding outwards threatening to engulf many nations. Ukraine and Russia continue to fight it out in the bloodiest of ways while nearby nations tremble at the negative prospects that threaten them. Israel fights a survival death-battle, while the Arab world tries to convince us that it is the Palestinians who are facing genocide. And, all the while North Korea eyes South Korea waiting for a time to devour it and China eyes the South China Sea territory with equally hungry eyes.

All this casts a huge stress on the rest of the world. Moreover, to top it all off the USA, the world’s last traditional superpower, is facing a contentious presidential election that could even further divide and destabilise. And my poor country, the tarnished rainbow nation, faces its own day of reckoning.

2024 South Africa

South Africa’s only contributions to the world crises seem to be to side publically and noisily with Hamas and the Palestinians, vote for the United Nations condemnation of Israel, and take Israel to the World Court of Justice for committing genocide. This does not help us as a nation in any way that I can see. On the contrary, it antagonises our major trading partners and investors without any noticeable recompense from China, Russia and the Arab nations. So, it looks like we will be facing our own meltdown without international support.

Sociologically, we have over 45% of the population surviving on state aid (social grants), a shrinking tax base unable to maintain this, and an exhausted national debt limit. About 40% of the population earns an income from formal employment, the murder, death, and rape rates are probably the highest in the world, corruption is endemic, and the roads, railways, and harbours are broken! Food prices are through the roof, housing prices slumped in most suburbs, and electricity supply has been cripplingly problematic … and so on.

On the political front, we have a national election that will take place sometime this year where the possible outcomes are all potentially momentous in one way or another. If the ANC retain 40% plus of the vote it is more than likely that they will be able to cobble together a coalition government with a few small parties or the EFF (Horror!) Whatever the constituency of this coalition, they will still be the majority and controlling party … and the slide into a failed state will no doubt continue. If the opposition Multi-Party Charter coalition wins 51% plus then things will at least have a chance of changing for the good, although the first few years will most likely be characterised by power plays between member politicians … but perhaps not. In the first scenario, we will plunge further and more rapidly into social and economic ruin, and in the second scenario, we will stop the plunge to destruction and even slowly turn the graph upwards in a growth trajectory. Both of these possibilities will mean that we the citizens will be facing years of uncertainty, threat, and hardship. Not pleasant to contemplate or accept but probably inevitable.

But, hold on Chris, aren’t you looking at the glass as half-empty rather than half-full? No, I am seeing it as a quarter full at best! We face that reality. OK, but what of the possibility of spiritual revival?

2024 Revival

I am one of those people who believe that we are yet to have the greatest revival in history.

God sends revival not as a reward, but as a response to the desperate spiritual need of the church and society.

The darker the day, the more we should expect the light of Heaven to break through. However, something that history has taught us is that although revivals come suddenly they tend to start locally and then slowly spread to other parts of a nation and then the wider world. Many folks think that if we in South Africa were to experience revival today, then everything would change overnight. This just does not seem to be realistic. John Wesley’s Methodist movement was a revival that some historians hold that it saved England from experiencing a French-revolution-type social uprising. This is probably true, but it did not all happen in a moment. John Wesley was a prolific preacher, addressing crowds twice a day almost every day of every week. In 1739 he preached his first open-air sermon, in 1741 he preached regularly in South Wales, in 1747 he preached (42 times) in Ireland and in 1751 he ministered 27 times in Scotland. That covers a period of about 12 years. It did not happen in a day!

The heart of true revival is that it does not only stir the emotions of crowds, but changes the lives of individuals. Those men and women go on to plant churches, influence business, and participate in government. The combined and accumulated effect of all this is a revival fire that transforms nations.

So, would revival change South Africa and other countries? Yes, but it will most likely take quite a bit of time. That then begs the question, ‘What should we do in 2024?’

2024 Individual Response

I don’t suppose there is much in this article that most of you do not already know, and the same applies to this final section. However, these three practical and personal suggestions bear repeating. We need to know and live out these things if we are to thrive in 2024.

  1. Strengthen relationships with Jesus, family, friends, and church: Strengthening the relationship with the Lord Jesus should always be a priority, but never so much as now. It is he who said: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) In addition Paul wrote: ‘God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:5-6) Then the next most important relationship to strengthen is with spouses, children, parents, and extended family. Friends, true friends, are rare and valuable, and we need to be a friend and receive friendship in these times. Then there is the church, your local church, which could be an extended family for you.
  2. Pray, expect revival, and submit everything to God: Pray alone, in groups, or as part of a congregation. Pray in tongues in the spirit. Expect revival at any time: if we do not expect it then we may not perceive it. I recently heard a church historian saying that we often only recognise revivals in hindsight. That is a little sad because it says a lot about the lack of response to revival when it comes.
  3. Vote: I have written about this recently HERE, but let me repeat this: ‘If we do not democratically remove the current  government from power in the soon-coming general elections, then almost everyone, except them, fears that we will plunge over the edge of the abyss into the horror of a Failed State. All citizens of South Africa, whether Christians or not, need to vote’.

2024 Read More »

TITW Revelation Revisited Series

The End of Days

Revelation Revisited Post

The man leaned in towards me, cupped his hand beside his mouth and whispered, “The time of end of the world is… tomorrow at 12 noon”.

Almost four decades ago I led a fellowship group for our local church and had been persuaded to invite a guru on the end-times to come and address us. He spent an hour or so taking us through the book of Revelation as though it were a prophetic calendar, but he also focused a lot on the book of Daniel. By the end of his talk he had plastered three walls with charts and diagrams and then he finished with the words, “I know when the end is coming but I shouldn’t say.” The evening ended with tea and cake and it was then that I sidled up to him and asked him to tell me his big secret, you know, man to man and leader to leader. That is when he made his startling behind-the-hand disclosure.

I can’t remember the poor man’s name but he was not the first to make claims about the End of Days, and he won’t be the last. One of the more recent and colourful ‘prophets’ of our day was Harold Camping. He predicted the end, was proved wrong when his date came and went, and then predicted another date… and then another…. and then he died.

What embarrassment and trouble could be avoided if we just followed Jesus’ example. His disciples asked him when he would return and when the end of the world would come. He replied with these words: “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matthew 24:36). So there you have it from the master’s lips.

Despite Jesus’ admonitions not to be deceived (Matthew 24:4), many commentators insist on treating the book of Revelation like a cosmic clock or giant calendar, and Revelation 10:6-7 is one of their favourite texts: it reads, “There will be no more delay! But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets.”

It would take more space than I have in this series of posts, and probably more patience than you have, to explain the linguistic and contextual subtleties of this text. G.K.Beal’s monumental, and excellent, commentary contains a 11 page analysis of these two verses. So, I will just blunder in and state what I believe it means in a few simple sentences.

I paraphrase the angel’s declaration as:There will be no delay between when the seventh angel sounds his trumpet and the accomplishment of God’s prophetically announced mystery.’ In other words, when all is ready, then it will happen very quickly.
The seventh, and therefore final, trumpet is a theme which Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52: “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed”. In 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18 he amplifies this statement with: “According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore, encourage each other with these words”.

Jesus is coming again to judge all of humanity, to destroy the current evil world system, and to create a new composite Heaven and  Earth (HeavenEarth) where He will live forever with his disciples. So, let me encourage you with this  – We, His followers, will not be subject to his judgmental  punishment, but, like every generation of Christians before us, we will live through tribulation and refinement in our lives on earth. When He comes to judge and recreate, then all those believers who have previously died will accompany Him and be given resurrection bodies. Those who are still alive on earth will rise to meet him and will also be given resurrection bodies. Resurrection bodies are material but not physical as we know it.

Our new bodies will be like Jesus’ when he rose from the grave and we will live with him in this state, together with all believers of all generations, on the recreated planet which I choose to call HeavenEarth.
Now that is encouraging! So, don’t worry about the date when all this will happen, but rather, heed Jesus’ words in Matthew 24:44: “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him”.

 

The End of Days Read More »

About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.