By PAUL J. SCHARF, M.Div.
Editor in Chief
That is the question before us as we begin this new year of 2017, and it will be the object of our examination in this short blog series.
As Bible-believing Christians, we can examine this question on many different levels. We will look at it specifically in the following areas:
We will anchor our thoughts in this series to the Old Testament account of one of the greatest kings of Judah—indeed, one of the few truly good kings of Judah at all—King Hezekiah, who ruled from 729 to 686 B.C.—becoming the sole ruler in 715 B.C.
Hezekiah oversaw Judah during the time of the Assyrian Captivity of the northern 10 tribes of Israel (722 B.C.)—when Assyria was also a tremendous threat to Judah and to Hezekiah, and Babylon was moving onto the world stage, poised to become the world’s superpower within a century.
The account of Hezekiah’s rule is given in three parallel passages:
But before we go directly to Hezekiah, let’s first ask the question,
Where do we go from here—in our world?
We understand that the world is moving on schedule in accord with God’s perfect prophetic plan.
From His Divine perspective, everything is movng “according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:11).
From our human perspective, things appear to be in turmoil. But the Lord has a plan and retains His sovereign control.
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.
But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions, which happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra—what persecutions I endured. And out of them all the Lord delivered me. Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.
“Deceiving and being deceived.” Indeed, just as Hezekiah—in his time in the 7th century B.C.—we are living in a time of moral chaos. As he battled against the wicked forces of Assyria, so we face the threat of global terror by people based in that very same region of the world.
Yet we rest in the fact that God has a plan. And we know that He has a special plan for His people in this church age to take us to be with Him in the rapture of the church before the wrath of God is poured out upon the world.
Yet, we wonder, what state will we find ourselves in during the period until Christ returns?
Where do we go from here—in our nation?
Here is where we really begin to think about the life of King Hezekiah.
Truthfully, I was preparing bring an entirely different type of presentation for this occasion—under the same title.
President Barack Obama came into office in 2008 promising that “we are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”
I fully expected that, following the November election, this transformation would be cemented in place, and that we would be discussing the very real, tangible possibility of the active persecution of the church for the first time in American history because of our unwillingness to acquiesce to the new orthodoxy of same-sex marriage and its related doctrines.
I was not alone in my concern.
Christian believers and organizations were already being used for examples, or at the very least test cases, in a push to make certain that we were all aware that in the battle that lay ahead between freedom of religion and gay rights, there was going to be a clear winner—and it would not be religious freedom.
I interviewed and spoke with a number of Christian leaders during the past year who saw what was happening in exactly the same way.
Many students of Bible prophecy believed that our nation was on a clear path toward a destination that fits exactly with the conditions that the Bible describes for the days of the tribulation. And it seemed like this election would forever tie us to that path, from which there would be no retreat or escape. It appeared that the remaining days before the Lord’s return would be marked by an increase of violence and terrorism, by the erosion of our national sovereignty and the ceding of our ability to govern ourselves over to the forces of global elitists. It looked as if we were destined for more—perhaps the fatal dosage—of high taxation and out-of-control government spending, leading to economic ruin and our ultimate collapse as a nation.
And then one of the strangest political phenomena in American history came along. Donald Trump ran for president.
Some suggested it was just a publicity stunt, but the masses of people in this country did not seem to care. Instead, they filled stadiums to hear him talk about “Making America Great Again.”
This is not an endorsement of Donald Trump. We should pray for him as he assumes the office of the presidency this week, but there is still so much we do not know about him. If the Lord tarries, historians already have enough fodder for decades of debate about Trump—even before he enters the Oval Office.
Nor am I equating Trump with Hezekiah, although you may notice some similarities between the two.
But back to Trump, what are we to make of him?
The astonishing political campaign of 2016 involved much debate about whether Donald Trump is a conservative. He was not always facile with the lingo of conservatism, and he pointed out once that he was seeking the nomination of the Republican, not the conservative party.
Arnn goes on to state:
Many conservatives have been doubtful of Trump and many others opposed. There are reasons for this. He is the first man elected president as his first significant public service. He is sometimes vulgar. He is a celebrity, star of his own show, which is playing wherever he goes.
And yet—somehow, against all odds—Trump won the presidency.
But then something even more incredible happened—which we really began to see developing even before the November election.
Trump began to surround himself with real conservatives and evangelical Christians in a way that few politicians would dare to do. And he also became absolutely unapologetic regarding his support for the nation of Israel.
Writing about the overreach of our seemingly unbridled federal government, Arnn says this:
Trump has addressed this problem more directly than anyone since Ronald Reagan—in some ways, more than anyone including Reagan. He would drain the swamp. . . . The party of Trump, if the Republican Party is that party, is in a position to make changes, as good or better a position as it has enjoyed since the Great Society.
What is the point of all of this? It is to analyze the times in which we live in light of Biblical truth and to thank God for—apparently—granting us an extension of time and opportunity to serve Him fully and freely until the Lord returns.
And that is where Hezekiah comes in—and where we can apply lessons from his life especially to our situation in the church of Jesus Christ and as individual believers.
As we will learn next time, God gave Hezekiah an incredible extension of time coupled with an amazing deliverance from his enemies. The key is to understand how he used that extra time and to see what we might learn from him—both positively and negatively—that can help us to serve the Lord successfully at this strategic time.
May God help each of us to make the very best use of the extension of life that He has given us—as He has spared us to enter into this new year of 2017.
Editor’s Note: For more on this topic, you can listen to a related message by Paul Scharf by clicking here.
(Read Part 2)
Copyright © 2017 Dispensational Publishing House, Inc.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®.
Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
All blog posts are the opinions of the author alone.
 “In context: What Obama said about ‘fundamentally transforming’ the nation;” <http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2014/feb/06/what-barack-obama-has-said-about-fundamentally-tra/>; Internet; accessed 17 Jan. 2017.
 See, for example, my interview with Dr. Christopher Cone. “A Dispensational Discourse with Dr. Christopher Cone;” <https://dispensationalpublishing.com/a-dispensational-discourse/dispensational-discourse-dr-christopher-cone/>; Internet; accessed 17 Jan. 2017.
 Larry P. Arnn, “A More American Conservatism;” Volume 45, Number 12; <https://imprimis.hillsdale.edu/a-more-american-conservatism/>; Internet; accessed 17 Jan. 2017.
 Larry P. Arnn, “A More American Conservatism;” Volume 45, Number 12; <https://imprimis.hillsdale.edu/a-more-american-conservatism/2/>; Internet; accessed 17 Jan. 2017.