Happy New Year 2008!
by Jeffrey J. Harrison
This speech was given by Jeff, with Chinese translation, at the Christian New Year’s celebration in Taichung Park on Dec. 31, 2007. This exciting event was sponsored by fourteen local churches. It was the first time the Taichung municipality had permitted this kind of event. Several hundred people were in attendance, and the stage was set up right next to a busy intersection so that everyone passing by could hear. The event was quite a technical achievement, with big screens, a light show, and fog and bubble machines, as well as being spiritually uplifting—a great way to ring in the new year!
It’s an honor and a blessing to be here with you tonight!
What are we here to celebrate? The new year 2008! And why is it 2008? What happened 2008 years ago? Jesus was born in Bethlehem! We’re here to celebrate that God became man in Jesus 2008 years ago—that God came to live among us. And he came to change human history forever. That’s why so many of the nations of the world count the years since his birth. Because the world has never been the same since Jesus was here among us!
But that’s not the only reason to celebrate! A new year also means that we are one year closer to the return of the Messiah, the return of Jesus, when he will set up his kingdom to rule and reign on this earth!
Jesus spoke often about this coming kingdom. It was the main subject of his teaching. He used to say,
The kingdom of heaven is near. What did he mean by this? That God’s kingdom is about to appear on earth at any time. We don’t know the day or the hour, but we know that he is coming!
Jesus and the prophets spoke of this kingdom as a time of no more war, and of no more poverty, when all will have everything they need. There will be no more sickness, no more disease, and no more evil in the world. This is an amazing prophecy! It sounds too wonderful to believe. Can the world really change to be like that? Only if God does an incredible miracle!
Why do I believe this is going to happen? Because it was prophesied by the ancient Hebrew prophets, and by Jesus himself. Why do I believe what these ancient prophets said? Because so far their prophecies have been 100% accurate!
The prophet Daniel lived 500 years before the time of Jesus. Yet he prophesied Jesus’ birth to the exact year it happened (Dan 9:24-27). That’s remarkable accuracy!
The prophet Micah prophesied 700 years in advance that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).
The prophet Isaiah prophesied 700 years before Jesus was born. He said that Jesus would be born of a virgin, that he would grow up in Nazareth, and that he would minister by the Sea of Galilee (Isa. 7:14, 9:1, 11:1). All these things happened!
The prophet Zechariah prophesied 500 years in advance that Jesus would come riding into Jerusalem on a donkey (Zech. 9:9).
The prophet Isaiah also prophesied that Jesus would be rejected by many in his generation, and that he would be silent when they accused him falsely (Isa. 53:7-8).
David, the king of Israel, prophesied 1000 years in advance that Jesus would be betrayed by a close friend, that he would be killed on a cross, and yet that none of his bones would be broken (Psalm 22, 41:9, 34:20). All these things came true!
The prophet Isaiah also prophesied that Jesus would be the lamb of God that would die for the sins of the world, and that by his death many would be made right with God (Isa. 53:7,10-12). All these came true: and there are many more!
But none is more amazing than this: Both the prophets Hosea and Jonah, as well as Jesus himself, prophesied that he would be raised from the dead after being dead for three days (Hos. 6:2, Jonah 1:17, Matt. 16:21). How is it possible for a man to be raised from the dead after being dead for so long? It’s impossible. But it happened. Why? Because God can do anything. He’s not limited by our limitations. He’s not bound by the weakness of our understanding. He made the world out of nothing. He can do anything he wants to do!
Every one of these ancient prophecies came true. But such things have not only happened in ancient times. They are happening today, too! These same prophets prophesied that the nation of Israel would be destroyed, and that it would be restored again. Israel was destroyed 2,000 years ago, and the Jewish people scattered around the world. But for the last 100 years, the Jewish people have been returning again to the land of Israel, from all the nations where they had been scattered, exactly as the prophets said would happen.
Sixty years ago, the nation of Israel was reborn, in 1948. And today the deserts of Israel are blooming, just as the prophets said thousands of years ago. I know about these things because I have seen them with my own eyes. I have seen the ancient buildings raised up again. I have seen the ancient walls rebuilt. I have seen the deserts blooming. This is all happening in our lifetimes.
All of this is in exact fulfillment of the prophecies of the ancient prophets, prophecies that seemed impossible would ever happen. If you asked the leaders of the world 150 years ago if there would ever be a nation of Israel again, they would have said, no way, it’s impossible. But yet it happened. And the nations are amazed that Israel continues to exist, in spite of the opposition of many surrounding nations.
Or who could believe that the nations of Europe would lay down their individual rights to join together with the same nations they were at war with only sixty-three years ago? Have any other nations in history ever laid down their weapons voluntarily to join together with other nations? It’s never happened before. Yet that’s what’s happening in the European Union today. And all of this was prophesied thousands of years ago by the same prophets.
If the ancient Hebrew prophets have been right about so many things, things that seemed impossible that they could ever happen, but then did happen, don’t you think we should listen to what they say is still to come? Don’t you think we should think seriously about the return of the Messiah, and his kingdom that will never end? I do! And that’s why I’m excited on this New Year’s Eve! Because Messiah’s coming is one year closer than it was before. For every word spoken by the prophets in the Bible will be fulfilled!
Sometimes people ask, why didn’t Messiah come yet? Why is he taking so long? It’s been 2000 years since the time of Jesus. What is he waiting for? Do you want to know what he’s waiting for? He’s waiting for Taiwan to be saved! He’s waiting for you! He’s waiting for China and the other nations of Asia to be saved. And when they are, he will surely come! The earth will have heard his message. The heavens will open, the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised, and Jesus will come back again. Why am I excited tonight! Because Jesus is coming, and he’s coming for Taiwan. Can you say Amen to that? Do you want Jesus to come for Taiwan? Amen!
God bless you, and may you have a fantastic New Year!