Israel's Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon
(photo: Yehoshua Yosef/Flash90)
Defense Minister says in private that US security plan 'not worth the paper it's written on', insists Kerry 'cannot teach me anything about the conflict with the Palestinians'.
"The American security plan presented to us is not worth the paper it's written on," Ya'alon said. "It contains no peace and no security. Only our continued presence in Judea and Samaria and the River Jordan will endure that Ben-Gurion Airport and Netanya don't become targets for rockets from every direction. American Secretary of State John Kerry, who turned up here determined and acting out of misplaced obsession and messianic fervor, cannot teach me anything about the conflict with the Palestinians."
Netanyahu and Biden meet Monday evening, January 13, 2014.
(photo: Haim Zach/GPO/Flash 90)
US vice president Biden says settlement expansion not constructive; ensures Israel of US commitment to ‘sanctions architecture’
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s hawkish statements over the weekend show that he is not ready to make the decisions necessary to continue talks with Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly told US Vice President Joe Biden Monday night
The two leaders met for about four hours Monday night in a working dinner following former prime minister Ariel Sharon’s funeral in southern Israel earlier in the day.
Addressing the Arab Spring and its ramification on the peace process, Biden said, "The only place where there is a possibility for an island of stability is quite frankly between the Palestinian people and the Israeli people, in two secure states respecting one another's sovereignty and security.
"The President believes and I believe this is one of those opportunities, one of those moments in history that have to be seized. There are difficult decisions, very difficult decisions and I, like you, believe the prime minister is up to it."
President Peres welcomed Biden and said, "All of us are aware that we have to take the decision now, that it's tough and difficult but we have an open window and God knows when it will happen again.
Knesset service included speeches by Biden and Blair, Netanyahu and Peres; coffin taken to Latrun for IDF salute; Sharon laid to rest beside late wife
Ariel Sharon, Israel’s eleventh prime minister, was buried in a military funeral Monday, surrounded by family, friends, foreign dignitaries and the upper echelons of the state and military, who gathered to honor one of Israel’s most storied — and controversial — battlefield commanders and political leaders
Sharon was buried at his ranch, Sycamore Farm, in the western Negev, alongside the grave of his wife Lily. Earlier, he was memorialized at a Knesset ceremony by President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US Vice President Joe Biden and other leaders and friends.
Short time after Blair, Biden, Netanyahu and other world leaders leave northern Negev at culmination of Sharon's funeral, Palestinians fire rockets from Gaza
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White House News
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Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither
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Inspired by God
"The men who have done the most for God in this world have been early on their knees. He who fritters away the early morning, its opportunity and freshness, in other pursuits than seeking God will make poor headway seeking Him the rest of the day. If God is not first in our thoughts and efforts in the morning, He will be in the last place the remainder of the day." - E. M. Bounds
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14 Jan 14
Japan holds military drill as S. China Sea islands dispute widens
Japanese paratroopers recaptured an island from an enemy in a wargame as its Defense Minister vowed to defend a disputed East China Sea territory. China’s ships sailed near the contested islets as Beijing reportedly expanded its air defense zone.
America's Dwindling Economic Freedom
World economic freedom has reached record levels, according to the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom, released Tuesday by the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. But after seven straight years of decline, the U.S. has dropped out of the top 10 most economically free countries.
Ariel Sharon and his Legacy
Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” Ariel Sharon was not born great in February 1928 in the cooperative farming village of Kfar Malal. But he had achieved greatness by the time he died on January 11, 2014, gaining legendary stature as the greatest field commander in the history of the Israel Defense Forces. He was also proud to be a farmer, and he became a dynamic political leader. He lived up to his nickname Arik (“the Lion” in Hebrew) as the Lion of Israel. Not surprisingly, the title of his autobiography was Warrior.
Police Arrest US Street Preacher in Scotland for Calling Homosexuality a Sin
American street preacher Tony Miano was arrested earlier this year in July. Christian Concern, a British legal group, helped Miano avoid paying a fine and receiving a 'Caution' after he was detained. Scottish police arrested Tony Milano, a U.S. preacher and former Los Angeles Deputy Sheriff, for breach of the peace and for using "homophobic" language in the condemnation of sin.
China cloning on an 'industrial scale' using human technicians instead of machines
The technology involved is not particularly novel - but what is new is the application of mass production. The first shed contains 90 animals in two long rows. They look perfectly normal, as one would expect, but each of them is carrying cloned embryos. Many are clones themselves. The facility produces an astonishing 500 cloned pigs a year: China is exploiting science on an industrial scale.
China Conducts Test of Ultra-High Speed Missile Vehicle
China’s military last week conducted the first flight test of a new ultra-high speed missile vehicle aimed at delivering warheads through U.S. missile defenses, Pentagon officials said. The test of the new hypersonic glide vehicle was carried out Jan. 9 and the experimental weapon is being dubbed the WU-14 by the Pentagon, said officials who spoke on condition of anonymity. The hypersonic vehicle represents a major step forward in China’s secretive strategic nuclear and conventional military and missile programs.
D-Wave claims it wants to release a 1,000 qubit quantum computer in 2014
Before munching up on the hype, though, it’s important to understand that to this day no one has been able to build a practical, working quantum computer. Still, in a recent interview with the Washington Post, D-Wave’s vice president of processor development, Jeremy Hilton, stated the company has a 1000 qubit processor in the lab, which they plan on releasing in 2014.
Surprise, we believe the Bible: Methodist pastor punished
United Methodist officials have followed church doctrine and church law in dealing with an errant pastor. Frank Schaefer, who pastors a church in Pennsylvania, pastors it no more. He was brought to trial and convicted of officiating at his son's same-gender "marriage" ceremony in Massachusetts where such weddings are legal. He was given 30 days to repent and conform to church doctrine but declined and has now been defrocked.
Biden: Peace talks hold out 'possibility for an island of stability'
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Israeli President Shimon Peres committed to Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, with Biden saying Monday the time is ripe to act. The talks offered a "possibility for an island of stability," in the region, Biden said in remarks following the closed-door discussions with Peres.
US lawmakers rail against academic boycott of Israel
Over four dozen members of Congress have signed a bipartisan letter blasting a decision earlier this month by the American Studies Association to participate in an academic boycott of Israel.
US and Russia push for modest Syria ceasefire
In a first yet fragile step toward peace, Syria’s government and the main but disputed moderate opposition group seeking to oust it have agreed to allow humanitarian aid into some blocked-off parts of the scarred Mideast country.
NSA FILES DECODED
Much of the NSA’s defence is that the public should be unconcerned, summed up by the dictum: “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.” But civil liberties groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union warn that surveillance goes well beyond what Congress intended and what the US constitution allows.
Us vs. Them
The United States Chamber of Commerce, already in the tank for amnesty, is now in the tank for Common Core. The Chamber of Commerce will be funding Republican candidates to beat conservatives. The New York Times recently ran an article on the corrupt and entangling alliances within the Mainstreet Partnership. This group of liberal Republicans, funded by an alliance of Wall Street and Labor Unions intends to defeat both conservative incumbents and challengers to Republicans.
Floods Hit South Philippines; 20 Dead, 13 Missing
Two days of heavy rains set off floods and landslides in the southeastern Philippines, leaving at least 20 people dead, 13 missing and thousands displaced, officials said Monday.
Iran and UN nuke agency postpone talks
A planned meeting between the United Nations’s nuclear watchdog and Iran meant to help alleviate concerns over its nuclear activities was postponed Tuesday, officials said.
El Salvador on Alert for Chaparrastique Volcano Activity
According to the latest special report from Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MARN), as vibrations persist and gases column is visible, the possibility of another eruption is not ruled out in the coming days or weeks through the central crater or their flanks.
Americans warned of imminent, deadly meteor strikes
Just as when the American populace first prepared for the possibility of a nuclear blast, a person’s best option for surviving a meteor strike is the same “duck and cover” created during the 1940s and ’50s when nuclear weaponry was still in its infancy.
Congressional Leaders Announce ‘Bipartisan’ $1.1 Trillion Spending Bill
Top congressional negotiators Monday night released a “bipartisan” $1.1 trillion spending bill that would pay for the operations of government through October and finally put to rest the bitter budget battles of last year. ...“This agreement shows the American people that we can compromise, and that we can govern,” Mikulski said. “It puts an end to shutdown, slowdown, slamdown politics.”
China Set to Seize South China Sea Island by Force
Reports out of Chinese state media indicate that Beijing is set to invade an island in the South China Sea “illegally occupied” by US ally the Philippines, stoking concerns that the tension filled region could explode. The article originally appeared at qianzhan.com under the headline, ‘Sudden major move of Chinese troops this year to recover Zhongye Island by force’, and was translated by the China Daily Mail.
Bailing Out Health Insurers and Helping Obamacare
Robert Laszewski—a prominent consultant to health insurance companies—recently wrote in a remarkably candid blog post that, while Obamacare is almost certain to cause insurance costs to skyrocket even higher than it already has, “insurers won’t be losing a lot of sleep over it.” How can this be? Because insurance companies won’t bear the cost of their own losses—at least not more than about a quarter of them. The other three-quarters will be borne by American taxpayers.
Syria peace talks: Opposition 'risks US-UK support'
Britain and the US have warned they will rethink support for Syria's main opposition group if it fails to join peace talks, a Syrian source has said. The official from the Syrian National Coalition told reporters that the UK and the US were adamant the group must go to Geneva for next week's talks. The coalition will hold a vote on Friday on whether or not to attend.
Mexico to deploy federal forces in Michoacan conflict zone
The Mexican government has announced that federal troops will take over security in an area where vigilante groups and a drugs cartel are clashing. The "self-defence groups" seized several small towns in the western state of Michoacan over the past week. They say they are fighting for the freedom of their communities from the notorious Knights Templar cartel.
After dispensing with Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt trains its sights on Hamas
After crushing the Muslim Brotherhood at home, Egypt's military rulers plan to undermine the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which runs the neighboring Gaza Strip, senior Egyptian security officials told Reuters. The aim, which the officials say could take years to pull off, includes working with Hamas's political rivals Fatah and supporting popular anti-Hamas activities in Gaza, four security and diplomatic officials said.
South Sudan army advances on rebels
Government troops in South Sudan are advancing on the flashpoint town of Bor, the last state capital still in rebel hands, an army spokesman says. "Bor is still in the hands of the rebels but our forces are still moving towards it," Colonel Philip Aguer said on Monday.
Egypt referendum: Vote to begin amid tight security
Egyptians are to vote in a referendum on a new constitution, which could pave the way for fresh elections. The new charter aims to replace the constitution passed under Islamist President Mohammed Morsi months before he was ousted by the army. Correspondents say the military wants a strong "Yes" vote as a popular endorsement of Mr Morsi's removal.
Pope assails 'throwaway culture' of abortion
Pope Francis on Monday called abortion "horrific" and said it was part of a new "throwaway culture" he said wasted human life as easily as it wasted food — his strongest words yet on a practice that is a divisive political issue in the United States.
Syria foreign minister to 'visit Russia before Geneva peace talks'
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem will visit Russia ahead of the Geneva 2 peace talks on the crisis due to begin in Switzerland later this month, Damascus' ambassador to Moscow said Monday.
Iran nuke deal doesn't end debate over sanctions
The weekend deal spelling out how Iran will roll back its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief buttresses the Obama administration's argument Tehran may be prepared for a grand diplomatic compromise averting the potential for war. But it has done little to sway skeptical lawmakers determined to levy new sanctions against Iran.
NSA Data Have No Impact on Terrorism: Report
A public policy group says a review of U.S. terrorist arrests shows the government’s collection of bulk phone records does little to prevent terrorism, adding fuel to a debate over whether the spy program should be ended.
RAPTURE READY FEATURE
What Secret Rapture?
Many Christians in the prophetic realm today believe that when the rapture takes place, very few individuals left behind will understand the true reason for its occurrence. The common reasoning portrays the people left behind as being stunned at first, but then quickly developing some sort of amnesia. The idea that no one will pay any lasting attention to what would have to be a cataclysmic event seems hard to believe. This is especially true since so much information about the rapture has already been disseminated in the form of millions of books, radio or TV broadcasts, and even in the form of bumper stickers: "In Case Of Rapture This Car Will Be Unmanned."
How the Idea of a Secret Rapture Became Predominant
Most Christian writings, when it comes to the world's reaction regarding the rapture, paint a picture of total ignorance of what has happened. The common understanding is, in order to have the Antichrist come to power, a blanket of ignorance needs to be thrown over all tribulation events. The unsaved typically say, "Where did everyone go?" This thought process has dominated rapture writings for the past 25 years. I believe the whole purpose of the rapture is to get people's attention. In contrast to what some authors think, information about the rapture permeates society, so much so that the occurrence of the rapture will likely cause a good deal of weeping and wailing.
Will the World Take Notice of the Rapture?
The world will most certainly take notice when the rapture occurs. If the Statue of Liberty suddenly vanished from New York Harbor, ABC, NBC, CBS, and CNN would break from regular programming to cover this marvel. To have millions of people disappear without a trace, the media storm cannot be imagined. If one car or airplane crashed without a driver or pilot, it would be a major news item. After the rapture, the media will have thousands of examples to choose from. Think of the vital positions that Christians hold in the workplace. Many businesses will be paralyzed by the loss of key personnel; the economy will suffer a devastating blow; and millions of people, who had friends and family members raptured, will be terrified. The rapture will create a media event that will rival any breaking news event from the past. If you turned on your television, you would find 24-hour-coverage on every channel. The President would be calling emergency meeting after emergency meeting, and churches would be filled to overflowing.
How the Devil Will Deceive the World
Right after the rapture, millions of people will find "religion," repenting of every sin they have committed--and of some they haven't. The prophecy section in all Christian bookstores will be cleaned out, and you may need reservations to attend Sunday church services. Well, maybe not at all churches. The world will be in a state of supreme chaos, and out of this mess will arise the man who will have an answer to every question. This man, the Antichrist, has been repeatedly mentioned in the New Testament. Paul the Apostle spoke of him frequently. The Antichrist will be the greatest salesman in history because he will sell the people the biggest lie ever. Satan will be so impressed with him that he will give this man his full power. Paul also stated that because the people will have no pleasure in the truth, God will send them strong delusion that they may be damned. Exactly what that delusion is, we can only guess. What methodology the Antichrist will use to explain away the rapture, I have no idea. Some say he will cite space aliens as the reason, and some say the explanation will be that they went into another dimension to receive better understanding. If we are truly grounded in the Word of God, no lie, no matter how beguiling, will be able to shake us loose from the truth.
What Is Imminency?
In doing some research on the doctrine of imminency, I noticed few people take the time to actually define what prophetic imminency means. First, let us look at the general definition of the key word "imminent:" "The quality or condition of being about to occur."
Imminency, as it relates to Bible prophecy, simply means that the return of Jesus Christ for the Church can happen at any moment. No warning signs will indicate a short-term countdown. We as Christians remain on alert 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
If a wife knows her husband normally gets home from work shortly after 4:00 PM, she knows that beginning at 4:00 PM, his arrival is imminent. If the woman knows her husband has to work overtime, the imminency of his 4:00 PM return is then in doubt.
The only way for the rapture to be truly imminent is to have it transpire before the tribulation. If the Church were required to wait until after the manifestation of certain events, then there would be no doctrine of imminency.
The Granddaddy Of Proofs
The pretribulation rapture is the only view that allows for the rapture to be imminent in its timing. All the other views require a number of prophetic occurrences to take place before the rapture can be declared imminent. To be looking for the imminent return of Christ, you have to believe in a pre-trib rapture.
Jesus repeatedly said that His return for the Church would be a surprise. The Lord even went beyond that by saying He would return "as a thief" when believers generally won't be expecting Him to come for them.
"But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only" (Matthew 24:36).
"Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing" (Matthew 24:42-46 KJV).
"Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh" (Matthew 25:13).
"And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power" (Acts 1:7).
Because we have no way to refute the fact that we will not know the timing of our Lord's return, the tribulation is a barrier to the rapture. No wonder the late John Walvoord called imminency "the heart of Pretribulationism."
This type of "any-moment" language doesn't fit a post-trib rapture. If Jesus were prevented from coming until after the battle of Magog, the rise of Antichrist, and the Mark of the Beast, we would have no need to watch for Him before the tribulation.
If the Church were required to go through the seven-year tribulation, you would expect the New Testament writers to have warned us to be prepared for trying times. On the contrary, the New Testament writers repeatedly tell the Church to be comforted by the "coming of the Lord" (1 Thes 4:18). The word "comfort" alone strongly implies the rapture will take place before the tribulation.
Some anti-imminency folks try to solve the problem they have with the rapture's any-moment occurrence by redefining it as merely indicating that Christ will return soon. The speed of Christ's advent is not the issue. If an event is required to take place before the Lord can return, there is no need to remain watchful.
If a person should make it through the tribulation until the point when the mid-trib, pre-wrath, and post-trib folks expect the rapture to occur, it would then become possible for the rapture to be classified as "imminent." However, once you solve the problem of imminency, you create another one regarding the restrictions against knowing the timing of the rapture.
Because the duration of the tribulation is already known, post-tribbers have the hardest time dealing with the rapture's timing. Some of them have tried to suggest that believers who make it through the tribulation will lazily lose track of the nearness of Christ's second coming.
If a Christian has been lucky enough to survive a host of apocalyptic calamities and elude the Antichrist's secret police for at least 3 1/2 years, I cannot imagine that he would be oblivious to the nearness of the Lord's return at the 7-year mark. If I were reduced to the point of having to hide in a forest and forage through dead tree bark to find beetles and grubs to sustain myself, I'm certain my every thought would be focused on the Lord's return.
One the strongest cases one can make for the early Church expecting an imminent return of Christ is to note their use of the word maranatha, which was used as a greeting in those days. When believers gathered or parted, they didn't say "hello" or "goodbye"; they would say "Maranatha!"
I've encountered some writings that say Maranatha is Hebrew and Greek, but it is actually an Aramaic expression. In fact, it is made up of three Aramaic words:Mar, which means "Lord"; ana, which means "our"; and tha, which means "come."
So when you put it together, maranatha means "Our Lord, come." It perfectly conveys the concept that the Lord could come at any moment. Maranatha is used once in the Bible by Paul as part of a curse. In 1 Corinthians 16:22, Paul said, "If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema.Maranatha." The word "anathema" means "banned," so Paul was saying, "Let him be banned from our Lord's coming."
The interesting thing about maranatha is that it comes in the form of a petition. When a Christian in the early Church would make this statement, he was actually petitioning the Lord to come. This obviously implies the belief that it was possible for Jesus to answer the appeal.
If members of the first-century Church believed that certain events needed to take place before the Savior could return, they would have been silly to greet each other with "maranatha." They lived nearly 2,000 years ago, and yet they seem to have had a deeper awareness of imminency than many of today's Christians.
The Historical Record
Many of the contemporary writers who attack imminency try to promote the idea that this doctrine was recently dreamed up by men who were ignorant of the true meaning of Scripture.
One detractor states, "This frenzy [imminency] continues to survive today because of modern misconceptions about the purpose of these prophetic events and the time frame for their occurrence."
Post-trib believers are the most vocal in their claim that the concepts of imminency and the pre-trib rapture only date back to the early 1800s. For several years, their charges went unanswered, but recently a number of men have dusted off old manuscripts and found several early Church fathers who were clearly looking for an imminent return of the Lord Jesus.
"All the saints and elect of God are gathered together before the tribulation, which is to come, and are taken to the Lord, in order that they may not see at any time the confusion which overwhelms the world because of our sins" (Pseudo-Ephraem (374-627 AD).
The First Epistle of Clement, 23 (written around 96 A.D. by Clement, a prominent leader of the church at Rome who knew some of the apostles personally and probably is the Clement referred to in Phil. 4:3): "Of a truth, soon and suddenly shall His will be accomplished, as the Scripture also bears witness, saying, 'speedily will He come, and will not tarry.'"
As early as 70 - 180 AD, The Didache, chapter 16, section 1, says, "'Be vigilant over your life; let your lamps not be extinguished, or your loins ungirded, but be prepared, for you know not the hour in which our Lord will come."
"But what a spectacle is that fast-approaching advent of our Lord, now owned by all, now highly exalted, now a triumphant One!" (Tertullian 155 - 245 AD).
John Calvin, the reformer at Geneva during the 1500s and founder of the Presbyterian Church, made the following statements in some of his commentaries on books of the Bible: "Be prepared to expect Him every day, or rather every moment." "As He has promised that He will return to us, we ought to hold ourselves prepared, at every moment to receive Him." "Today we must be alert to grasp the imminent return of Christ." Commenting on 1 Thessalonians 4, the "Rapture passage," Calvin said that Paul "means by this to arouse the Thessalonians to wait for it, nay more, to hold all believers in suspense, that they may not promise themselves some particular time . . . that believers might be prepared at all times."
The Westminster Confession, written by the Puritans of England during the 1600s, declared that men should "shake off all carnal security and be always watchful, because they know not at what hour the Lord will come."
"I say, somewhat more because the dead saints will be raised, and the living changed at Christ's 'appearing in the air' (1 Thess 4:17); and this will be about three years and a half before the millennium, as we shall see hereafter: but will he and they abide in the air all that time? No: they will ascend to paradise, or to some one of those many 'mansions in the father's house' (John 14:2), and so disappear during the foresaid period of time." (Morgan Edwards 1742-44).
I'm not much of a fan of relying on what scholarly men write about the Bible. I agree with the quotes I just cited, but I don't really need a bunch of dead guys to tell me what is truth. I have over a dozen copies of the Good Book lying around the house, and I have the ability to read and understand each of them for myself.
History has proven that mankind is a dreadful biblical guide. The apostasy that swept over the Church caused a lack of prophecy commentary from about 450 AD until the 1600s. People stopped thinking for themselves. Their interpretation of the Bible became what the institutional church spoon-fed them.
Premillennialism largely disappeared after it was condemned as heretical by the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD. It wasn't until the reform movement of the early seventeenth century that we see a rebound in the number of statements that reflect the pretribulational view.
A host of Scriptures indicate the Church should expect an imminent return of their Lord. The opponents of imminency constantly try to pick apart each individual reference, but they should look at the big picture. An overwhelming number of verses in the Bible support imminency.
I've been able to easily locate 22 passages that imply that the coming of Christ remains an imminent event. All you really need is one verse to prove a point, but the weight of evidence should cause even the most hard-core imminency foes to rethink their stance.
I seriously doubt any scholar or layman could find 22 passages of Scripture that clearly indicate the tribulation or the rule of the Antichrist is the next imminent event facing the Church.
"But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only" (Mat 24:36).
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him" (Mat 25:1-6)
"Take ye heed, watch and pray; for ye know not when the time is. For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the Master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly He find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch" (Mark 13:33-37).
"Knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light"(Rom 13:11-12).
"And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly" (Rom 16:20).
"So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor 1:7).
"For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Phil 3:20).
"Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand" (Phil 4:5).
"And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come" (1 Thess 1:10).
"Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober" (1 Thess 5:6).
"That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Tim 6:14).
"Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus" (Titus 2:13).
"So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation" (Heb 9:28).
"Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the Day approaching" (Heb 10:24-25).
"For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry" (Heb 10:37).
"Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door" (James 5:7-9).
"Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 1:13).
"But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer" (1 Peter 4:7).
"Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life" (Jude 1:21).
"Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown" (Rev 3:11).
"Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book" (Rev 22:7).
"He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus" (Rev 22:20).
The Great Inflation Scam
One of the bedrocks of stability in a nation is the ability for its citizens to trust the actions of their government. Opinion polls show that the people’s faith in Washington’s leadership has been on a continuous decline. A key factor driving this mistrust is the amount of false information being issued by government agencies.
There was a time when reports on debt, inflation, jobs, and unemployment were beyond politics. Tinkering with numbers was seen as scandalous as editing the text of the Bible. Today, there is no integrity in the ranks of government workers. The economic data released by Washington has the same trustworthiness as the figures pronounced by the old Soviet Union.
The rate of inflation is one data point I’d like to focus on—because it’s so easy to verify. The U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics says that inflation, as measured by their Consumer Price Index, is currently running at 1.2% per year. (You would have to go back a hundred years to find a lower level of inflation occurring during a time of economic expansion.)
The Labor department might want to check the batteries on their calculators because something doesn’t add up. The news feeds have a growing number of stories about huge increases or record high prices for basic commodities. Here are five examples:
The price for fresh whole chickens hit its all-time high.
Slaughter cattle prices hit their highest level on record.
New Year’s Day marked record-breaking gasoline prices.
The Electricity Price Index hit 202.284, an all-time record.
The price of homes in 20 key cities climbed 13.6% in 2013.
Dish Network and DirecTV are increasing rates by 5.5% in 2014.
The price of a stamp will go up by 3% later this month.
Products like chicken, beef, gas, and electricity aren’t things you buy once in a blue moon. You consume them almost every day. Home prices make nearly forty percent of the government’s index, so there should be at least a 4% bump in inflation.
I can personally testify about the price of chicken. When I go to Kentucky Fried Chicken at least once a week, I order the same meal each time. A few weeks ago, the price of my standard meal went from $9.50 to $10.27, which is an 8% increase.
The fed’s crazy inflation math is based on a flawed system that allows for substitution and changes in quality. For example: If the price of T-bone steak goes up, costs will be lowered by the assumption that people will buying cheaper cuts of meat. The cost of an Iphone can be reduced by the extra features that come with a new version.
Only a government economist could think a $1 increase in movie tickets could be offset by an opening cartoon. When you apply subjective adjustments to a basic price, you end-up with data that is easily manipulated. Of course, price suppression is not an accident: It’s the goal.
The government has a very good reason to lie about inflation. If they reported the true rise in prices, investors would demand higher interest on their money—to retain its purchasing power. Since the government has $17 trillion in debt, higher rates would drive up the deficit. People on Social Security and various government pensions would also want cost of living increases that matched inflation.
The great inflation scam has worked so far. The government has only given out a 1% raise for 2014 with almost no complaints from the public. But how long can this game go on? It will only take a few years of shortfall between the real inflation and the phony inflation being reported to zap people’s abilities to maintain a basic standard of living.
With the government running a deficit of over a trillion dollars each year, the rapid increase in the money supply is guaranteed to create more inflation. All this market manipulation will eventually make matters worse. When people realize that prices have been grossly underreported, panic will rule and the value of the dollar with plunge.
Economic hardship is the mother’s milk of prophetic progress, and in the financial markets we have what could be called a perfect storm. I coined that phrase after noticing prophecy always unfolds faster during times of economic trouble. Since the world faces a number of financial hurdles in the coming days, I can only warn prophecy watchers to fasten their seat belts.
We move forward into the new year, 2014, and leading the procession worldwide is unadorned evil. We should expect no less, I suppose, considering the more than obvious lateness of the prophetic hour in which we find ourselves.
Some of the evil is blatant–in your face. Like the 17,000 lesbians meeting in Argentina late in 2013, many of whom, topless and painted with Nazi swastikas, attacked men praying in front of a Catholic cathedral to protect it from vandalism. The lesbians were protesting any and all opposition to abortion, screaming, “Get your rosaries out of our ovaries.”
One Fox News reporter who witnessed the assault said you could sense an evil there. I heard another person say she could feel an almost demonic presence within the viciousness with which the women assaulted the men.
In another part of this darkening world, a girl thought to be as young as eight years old was found to be wearing a suicide vest–put on her by her militant brother, no less: “The girl, reported to be as young as eight and thought to be the sister of a prominent Taliban commander, is said to be in a state of shock and confusion. Police told the BBC she was encouraged to carry out the attack by her brother" ("Girl Wearing Suicide Vest Detained," BBC News, 1/8/13).
We could find many things much more heinous than the above by perusing the news sources any time of day or night. It is as if the world has a rheostat and the knob is being turned slowly–sometimes rapidly—to the left, dimming all light of goodness. And, there is only one who is good, according to Jesus Christ, and that is God: “And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God” (Mark 10:18).'
The world’s light rheostat is being turned down by Satan, through his human minions. The visceral hatred humankind demonstrably holds for God is as blatant as the in-your-face disdain for all that is good the homosexual community increasingly demonstrates, as reported in the story above. Such is proof that we are indeed living in prophetic, evil, days. Paul the apostle described them in stronger terms: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come” (2 Timothy 3:1).
Even though that evil–those perilous times—can be more easily seen in such blatant violence as is exploding all around this generation–another sign of the times Jesus spoke about (Matthew 24:37)--there is the subtle but equally deadly sin-virus spreading like a cancerous mass, slowly dialing the rheostat to the left.
The hatred of God–at His Son Jesus, who is equally God—is becoming more "in your face" day by evil day.
Last December, Isaiah Martinez brought his first grade classmates at Merced Elementary School candy canes. Attached to each treat was a message explaining the religious legend surround the candies. The legend references a candy maker who created the candy cane to symbolize the life of Christ.
When the six-year-old boy arrived at school, his teacher noticed the religious message and immediately confiscated the gifts, according to Robert Tyler, the general counsel for Advocates for Faith & Freedom. It takes a special kind of evil to confiscate a six-year-old child’s Christmas gifts… Tyler said the little boy watched as his teacher threw the box and the messages into the trash.
"She then told Isaiah that he could distribute the candy canes now that the Christian messages were eliminated," Tyler wrote, noting that the teacher was following the "explicit instructions" of her supervisor…
"Meanwhile, other students in Isaiah’s class handed out Christmas gifts to their fellow classmates," Tyler wrote. "Some of these gifts expressed secular messages concerning Christmas and were packaged with images of Santa Claus, penguins with Santa hats, Christmas trees and other secular messages." (Todd Starnes, "Teacher Tells 6-year-old 'Jesus is not allowed in school,'" Fox News, 1/7/14)
Everywhere we look on the horizon of our culture and society, we see Christianity being marginalized. It is becoming politically incorrect to mention Christ’s Holy Name at any secular event, as we’ve examined over the course of a number of years. Now, the rheostat turners are invading the boundaries of freedom of religion set by the founding fathers. Almost daily we get reports of governments ruling against Christians, even though the business or church activities involved make them–or should do so—protected by the Constitution.
We remember recently the bakery owned and run by Christians being successfully sued by homosexuals who wanted a cake baked for their same-sex marriage. We recall the Duck Dynasty star being suspended from the program–at least until the producers saw the devastating effect on their bottom line—for standing on his Christian principles when asked a question in an interview. And these are but the tip of the proverbial iceberg of hatred for anything Christian growing in America and around the world.
The Scripture tells of these evil days and what we should do about them. We are told that we should be "Redeeming the time, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:16). This means our efforts in this life should always be to present Christ through our moment-by-moment activities in the increments of time we’ve been given on this fallen planet. We must keep the light on, in other words.
We do this by following these instructions: “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand” (Ephesians 6:13).
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About Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth - Part Two - By Gene Lawley - http://www.raptureready.com/soap/lawley38.html
Following the concept from Part One, that the law of God, as given to Moses was a shadow of a coming reality, and that reality being Christ (in whom dwells all the fullness of the godhead bodily, Colossians 2:9), let's look at another controversial arena that demands consideration and a better, more consistent interpretation.
I wrote in my prior article, Part One, of the connection of the directive to Timothy to "rightly divide the word of truth" as a good student, and how the "dividing" is a referral to the dispensations of time in God's plan for the ages of His relationship with mankind. Any other approach seems to be greatly lacking in the demonstration of the orderliness usually ascribed to the conduct of God. He does things decently and in order. God records His actions in a forward flow of fulfillments, according to the passage of time, as it relates to man. Yet, God's plan has not evolved only as time passes, it was put in place long before creation. Note Titus 1:2:"... in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began...."
Otherwise, one might suppose that God operates erratically, springing up some Tuesday morning and telling Gabriel, "This is a good day for us to go down to earth and take care of that perfect sacrifice idea I thought of last week." No, it doesn't work that way, of course, and thankfully so. On that particular subject, Galatians 4:4-5 tells us: "But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons." (There's that reference to dispensations of time, again.)
It's no wonder some folks are greatly confused with end-time prophecy, having no idea "when these things began to happen," as Jesus spoke of it, and when He said to "watch," for what does He mean, we must watch. (Matthew 25:13: "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.") We have been warned that a "thief-type" is yet to come, but not when.
The day and the hour are not known, but ample evidence has been given for when the "times and seasons" of His coming are upon us. The "confirming of a covenant with many," which Daniel predicted in Daniel 9:27, is for a seven-year period. The missing 70th week of Daniel's prophecy appears to begin at that same time, and Jeremiah labels it, "the time of Jacob's trouble" (Jeremiah 30:7), a seven-year period.
Attention is then fixed on Israel, for the confirming of the covenant is certainly involving the Jews, and the permission to rebuild their temple on the old location in Jerusalem. Why? Because the one who confirms the covenant will enter that temple after three and a half years of the seven and declare himself God, thus desecrating the holy place, just as the Scriptures have foretold.
In that scenario, rightly dividing the Word includes looking at all of the converging events as predicted to make sure the total picture is in place. Like a jigsaw puzzle, if one or more pieces are missing or you have squeezed a piece in where it does not fit, the picture is not "rightly divided" or connected.
The related pieces of the end-time "puzzle" would appear like this:
The Jews would have to be back in their own land; in connection with the Jewish restoration to their land, the physical and religious preparations for restoration of their temple.
An ongoing demand for peace because of the raging anger and confrontations involving Israel and its neighbors; thus, the potential of a covenant of peace being signed, with its attendant elements, as predicted in Daniel 9:27.
The strong potentiality of a raging conflict from which would come that peace covenant followed by the cry, "Peace and safety", as noted in 1 Thessalonians 5:3.
All of these elements now exist, are in place or on the horizon. Add to that other matters of worldwide importance, such as economic conditions, geophysical occurrences (and I don't mean so-called "global warming" or "climate change" as is the label now), but the various disasters in nature that Jesus spoke of and Paul wrote of in Romans 8:23 and following-the groaning of creation expressing its own desire for justice and redemption.
What I am trying to say is that it is not all that complicated when you are careful to take into consideration all of parts of the puzzle. And, most important of all, believe that the Scriptures, the Holy Bible, is indeed the actual word of God. The fact that the pieces are not
lined-up under their particular heading, like it would be in an encyclopedia, does not make them untruthful. Jesus did not seem to have a problem with that issue. In John 5:39, He is recorded as saying to the religious leaders, "You search the scriptures for in them you think you find eternal life, and they are they which testify of Me, but you will not come to Me that you may find life."
In that same vein, Jeremiah recorded the Lord saying, "You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13). Lay that thought down beside that of 2 Peter 3:9 and you will have a true picture of the intensity of where God stands and what He requires as a "must" on the issue: "God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
Here's a little tag teaser: If the events of Revelation have taken place already in the first century, at the time of the fall of Jerusalem at 70 A.D., yet John recorded his visions in Revelation some 25 years later (as most Bible students date it), it seems like things just don't add up there! It stands to reason to this old country boy, that squeezing a piece of a puzzle into where it does not belong really does foul up the picture. God is not the author of confusion! (So, who is?)
Contact email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nearing Midnight: Evil Days - Terry James -http://www.raptureready.com/rap16.html
We move forward into the new year, 2014, and leading the procession worldwide is unadorned evil. We should expect no less, I suppose, considering the more than obvious lateness of the prophetic hour in which we find ourselves.
Some of the evil is blatant-in your face. Like the 17,000 lesbians meeting in Argentina late in 2013, many of whom, topless and painted with Nazi swastikas, attacked men praying in front of a Catholic cathedral to protect it from vandalism. The lesbians were protesting any and all opposition to abortion, screaming, "Get your rosaries out of our ovaries."
One Fox News reporter who witnessed the assault said you could sense an evil there. I heard another person say she could feel an almost demonic presence within the viciousness with which the women assaulted the men.
In another part of this darkening world, a girl thought to be as young as eight years old was found to be wearing a suicide vest-put on her by her militant brother, no less: "The girl, reported to be as young as eight and thought to be the sister of a prominent Taliban commander, is said to be in a state of shock and confusion. Police told the BBC she was encouraged to carry out the attack by her brother" ("Girl Wearing Suicide Vest Detained," BBC News, 1/8/13).
We could find many things much more heinous than the above by perusing the news sources any time of day or night. It is as if the world has a rheostat and the knob is being turned slowly-sometimes rapidly-to the left, dimming all light of goodness. And, there is only one who is good, according to Jesus Christ, and that is God: "And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God" (Mark 10:18).'
The world's light rheostat is being turned down by Satan, through his human minions. The visceral hatred humankind demonstrably holds for God is as blatant as the in-your-face disdain for all that is good the homosexual community increasingly demonstrates, as reported in the story above. Such is proof that we are indeed living in prophetic, evil, days. Paul the apostle described them in stronger terms: "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come" (2 Timothy 3:1).
Even though that evil-those perilous times-can be more easily seen in such blatant violence as is exploding all around this generation-another sign of the times Jesus spoke about (Matthew 24:37)--there is the subtle but equally deadly sin-virus spreading like a cancerous mass, slowly dialing the rheostat to the left.
The hatred of God-at His Son Jesus, who is equally God-is becoming more "in your face" day by evil day.
Last December, Isaiah Martinez brought his first grade classmates at Merced Elementary School candy canes. Attached to each treat was a message explaining the religious legend surround the candies. The legend references a candy maker who created the candy cane to symbolize the life of Christ.
When the six-year-old boy arrived at school, his teacher noticed the religious message and immediately confiscated the gifts, according to Robert Tyler, the general counsel for Advocates for Faith & Freedom. It takes a special kind of evil to confiscate a six-year-old child's Christmas gifts... Tyler said the little boy watched as his teacher threw the box and the messages into the trash.
"She then told Isaiah that he could distribute the candy canes now that the Christian messages were eliminated," Tyler wrote, noting that the teacher was following the "explicit instructions" of her supervisor...
"Meanwhile, other students in Isaiah's class handed out Christmas gifts to their fellow classmates," Tyler wrote. "Some of these gifts expressed secular messages concerning Christmas and were packaged with images of Santa Claus, penguins with Santa hats, Christmas trees and other secular messages." (Todd Starnes, "Teacher Tells 6-year-old 'Jesus is not allowed in school,'" Fox News, 1/7/14)
Everywhere we look on the horizon of our culture and society, we see Christianity being marginalized. It is becoming politically incorrect to mention Christ's Holy Name at any secular event, as we've examined over the course of a number of years. Now, the rheostat turners are invading the boundaries of freedom of religion set by the founding fathers. Almost daily we get reports of governments ruling against Christians, even though the business or church activities involved make them-or should do so-protected by the Constitution.
We remember recently the bakery owned and run by Christians being successfully sued by homosexuals who wanted a cake baked for their same-sex marriage. We recall the Duck Dynasty star being suspended from the program-at least until the producers saw the devastating effect on their bottom line-for standing on his Christian principles when asked a question in an interview. And these are but the tip of the proverbial iceberg of hatred for anything Christian growing in America and around the world.
The Scripture tells of these evil days and what we should do about them. We are told that we should be "Redeeming the time, because the days are evil" (Ephesians 5:16). This means our efforts in this life should always be to present Christ through our moment-by-moment activities in the increments of time we've been given on this fallen planet. We must keep the light on, in other words.
We do this by following these instructions: "Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand" (Ephesians 6:13).
Days of peril and your response - Bill Wilson - www.dailyjot.com
What would you do if you didn't have rubber on your wheels or gas for your car? What would you do if you couldn't afford to buy food, or if food was not stocked on the grocery store shelves? How would you handle no electricity? Could you survive making pennies a day? What if there were no jobs, and your job suddenly ended? How would you provide or even survive? What is your plan? The day is soon coming where these questions might arise in a very serious way. Did you know that the civilian labor force dropped to 154.9 million in December 2013? Did you know that Americans no longer in the labor force reached a record 91.8 million--meaning nearly 60% of our workforce cannot find jobs?
Couple this with the 47.3 million people on welfare as of September 2013; that 99.1 million, or 32.4% of all Americans were income-eligible for most federal nutrition programs, like food stamps and child nutrition programs; and that 16.3 million children lived in poverty in 2012. These statistics are provided by the Food Research and Action Center, a non profit that monitors poverty and hunger in the United States. These figures are based off of government reports. According to Fox news, some 1,500 people showed up on January 10 in New York City to apply for a union job. What are Americans going to do when the Federal Reserve quits propping up Wall Street and the economy through its "quantitative easing"?
The American economy is currently based on a house of cards created jointly by big money houses and the politicians they have in their pockets. At some point, the American people will no longer be able to sustain the debt being created by big government and someone will have to pay the piper for this long dance of deception. With elections coming this fall, it is better that Christian Americans get involved in the process of selecting candidates who fear God and hate covetousness before the parties can select them on their own. Otherwise, the crash is going to be even harder when it comes. We are currently in a mesmerized state of false security and we need to snap out of it.
Notwithstanding, we must lead by example. Romans 12:21 says, "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good." Peter and the Apostles answered in Acts 5:29, "We ought to obey God rather than men." Jesus said in Matthew 6:25, "Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor yet for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?" He continued in verse 33, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." Paul exhorts in Ephesians 6:20 to "speak boldly as I ought to speak." There are days of peril ahead. Only Christians have the way, the truth and the life. We need to start exercising this now that atrophy is not our downfall.
Unlikely Conversions - Greg Laurie - www.harvest.org
Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.
An attorney was trying to deliver an important paper to a man who was determined to avoid him. The man reasoned that the attorney had some type of subpoena, so he went out of his way to dodge him. Fourteen years passed, and the man finally found himself in the hospital, dying of cancer. Through a strange series of events, the attorney was admitted to the hospital and was assigned to the same room as the dying man.
The man turned to the attorney and said, "Well, you never got me. I've escaped you all this time, and now it doesn't matter. You can even serve your subpoena. I don't care."
The lawyer replied, "Subpoena? I was trying to give you a document that proved you had inherited forty-five million dollars!"
Many people go out of their way to avoid Christians and the opportunity to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. All the while, their hearts grow harder, and they risk becoming calloused to the point of no return. We don't know when that point will come in their lives. Maybe you even know someone who seems to have already reached it.
We can take heart when we look at the conversion of Saul of Tarsus. It was so radical and unexpected that when it happened, first-century Christians thought he was attempting to infiltrate their ranks and persecute the church even further. They didn't believe that God could save someone as wicked and hostile toward the church as Saul. They couldn't wrap their minds around a change of that magnitude. But we know that Saul became Paul the apostle.
If you know someone who seems so far gone and permanently hardened toward the gospel, keep praying. You never know. That person just might be the next Paul
What Follows 'Peace and Safety'? - Jack Kinsellla -www.omegaletter.com
It seems like only a few years ago that the biggest challenge facing anyone teaching Bible prophecy was establishing that these could be the last days.
Twenty years ago, the first part of any column or script was dedicated to proving that we are living in the times spoken of by the Hebrew prophets.
And I usually had to be cagey about how I did it. In those days, if you mentioned Bible prophecy too soon, you'd lose your reader.
It was necessary to start with something secular and work one's way back to the Bible to keep from being marginalized right off the bat as a prophecy nut.
That was then. This is now. And the challenge has shifted. I note that many secular sources spend their time arguing why these aren't the last days.
The 'last days' concept has leapt the religious fence and entered the realm of popular mythology.
Given the secular fears of the effects of global warming, planet-killing asteroids, solar-generated flesh-eating gamma rays and other potential mass extinction events - they aren't having any easier time now than I did them while making the opposite arguments.
We're living in a totally different world than we were - in the old world, we knew that Islam was "one of the world's three great monotheistic religions" but that was about the extent of what we knew or how it affected our lives.
Until Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, many thought of Baghdad and their first association would be "1001 Arabian Nights". The mention of Islam conjured up images of Lawrence of Arabia, not Osama bin-Laden.
We were living then at a time of comparative peace and safety. The Soviet Union was dead. The Russian Bear seemed mortally wounded. The European Super State was well on the way to full unification thanks to the fall of the Berlin Wall.
During the eight years of the Clinton administration, all of America's defense capabilities were 'down-sized' as intelligence agencies were de-funded, military readiness and troop strength was reduced, US military bases at home and abroad were scrapped.
Thanks to the 'peace dividend' the Clinton economic 'miracle years' made America think it could have its cake and eat it too. In his first State of the Union speech, Clinton told America how he was going to 'revitalize' the economy.
By cutting the US military and intelligence services and "capturing the peace dividend for investment purposes," he told Congress in his 1993 SOTU speech.
If ever there were a time in living memory when America and Israel were living in relative peace and safety, it would be at about the time Clinton made that speech. Israel had not yet entered into the Oslo agreement.
Greater Israel was yet intact, despite two years of constant intifada. No Arab land attack could successfully penetrate Israel's existing buffer zones in the Golan, the West Bank, the Sinai and Gaza Strip.
The intifada was annoying, but Israel's continued existence was not an issue of daily concern. One of the verses I quoted most often during those years was from 1 Thessalonians 5:3:
"For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape."
In those days, it seemed to me that the focus of the lesson being taught by Paul was the warning of sudden destruction. The Bible is a living Book, and twenty years ago, that was the focus - the warning. Because the Bible is alive, the same passage takes on a new focus as we move into the relevant time frame.
Paul used the same imagery that Jesus had - birth pangs. Let's dwell there for a moment.
Labor pains come on suddenly, but they soon settle in to a regular pattern that distinguishes them from false labor. As they grow closer together and more intense, and other signs of imminent birth make themselves known, a clearer picture begins to emerge.
By the time the actual event happens, enough signs are in place to know that it is time to get the catcher's mitt and the salad spoons and move into position.
When I read 1st Thessalonians Chapter Five from the perspective of twenty years later, I find the focus of the lesson has shifted somewhat.
Nobody is saying 'peace and safety' anymore. And it seems probable (since 9/11) that nobody will be saying it again within the scope of my lifetime. Instead of 'peace and safety' what we're hearing in the West is 'generational' war.
And what Israel is hearing is "prepare for all out war."
In Paul's Second Letter to the Thessalonians, he writes of the "coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and by our gathering together unto Him."
Take a second to clear your mind and then ask yourself with me what the Thessalonians could have thought Paul was talking about.
Paul is writing to a small church that he himself planted - these are intimate friends. What could they have thought Paul meant when he spoke of, "our gathering together unto Him"? If I wrote to you of our "gathering together unto Him" what would you think that I meant?
Especially if, as Paul did, I directly connected it to the imminence of the Day of Christ? But even if I didn't - what else, in context, could "our gathering together unto Him be referring to?
In any case, Paul tells them not to worry about it until some other signs fall into place.
"Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?"
Wait! That's right, this is Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians! What did Paul tell them before that prompted him to remind them he had already addressed "these things" previously?
In Paul's First Letter he warned of coming destruction, like 'birth pangs' and "they shall not escape."
Let's revisit the relevant passages in context.
"But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night." (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2)
What is the context here? The times and seasons and the coming of the Lord "like a thief in the night." What does 'a thief in the night' suggest to you?
A thief in the night seldom announces his presence or intention. A successful night burglar makes his appearance in secret.
The 2nd Coming of Christ is a world-wide, 'behold, He cometh with clouds and every eye shall see Him' event accompanied by angels, massive earthquakes and (presumably) major explosions as the armies of earth turn their weapons of destruction against the Prince of Peace.
If a 'thief in the night' paints the picture of a secret coming, the Bible's description of the Second Coming is more in line with a global a ticker-tape parade.
So in context, this cannot be referring to the Second Coming of Christ. Can it? Remember, this is what Paul was referring back to from 2 Thessalonians 2:1-10
"For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief." (1 Thessalonians 5:3-4)
They shall not escape. . . but ye brethren. . Who are they and how do they differ from ye here? Can you see it, yet?
Paul explains that 'they' are children of the night, in darkness, whereas 'ye' are children of the light, to whom Paul admonishes to put "on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation."
Stay with me in context here.
In 2 Thessalonians 2:1 Paul is assuring the Thessalonians that the Lord hasn't returned. Is it possible that they thought the 2nd Coming had occurred and they missed it?
That Jesus had appeared with clouds, vanquished the enemy, resurrected the dead and judged the nations. . . and they missed it? Can you make that make sense?
So what could they possibly have thought that they missed?
Paul writes, "remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?" Paul was referring in his Second Letter to his First Letter. This isn't that hard to figure out, given the topic is the same.
So what things was Paul referring back to? What had so shaken the Thessalonians in mind and troubled in spirit that Paul found it necessary to revisit it in a follow up letter?
Paul taught the Thessalonians extensively about the Rapture. Many of the most obvious Rapture passages are in his letters to the Thessalonians and those to the Church at Corinth.
They feared they had missed the Rapture and that they would be left behind to face the Wrath of God in the Tribulation. Why else would they be worried at all? If everybody was going to be left behind, then why even bring it up?
Could it have anything to do with what had Paul taught them previously?
"For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thessalonians 5:9)
Paul expounded on his Rapture teaching from 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 saying that "whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him" and reminds them that this doctrine is given to comfort them, for they feared they were left behind to face the Tribulation.
"Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do." (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
This isn't a salvation message Paul sent them. He is writing to the Church members. They are already saved.
Paul isn't writing to the Thessalonikans to tell them being saved will sustain and comfort them. Paul makes a specific promise that the 'brethren' are not appointed to wrath' -- in reply to their fear they had been left behind.
There is no other logical explanation. They feared they had been left behind for something which means that they missed something else. Can you find another meaning in there?
They thought that Nero was the antichrist and so therefore they feared they had somehow missed the Rapture. Paul explains to them in his Second Letter that they couldn't have - and then he explains why. Paul outlined the order of events as follows:
"For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only He who now letteth will let, until He be taken out of the way. And THEN shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the Spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming."
So here's what the Thessalonians were taught. The Church was not appointed to wrath. The fact that they were still a restraining influence indwelt by the Holy Spirit proved He had not been removed. And so therefore, that "Wicked" could not yet have been revealed.
Nero wasn't the antichrist because the Church would be withdrawn with the Holy Spirit before the identity of the antichrist can be revealed.
Twenty years ago, when I read Paul's letters to the Thessalonians, the lesson focus was what it meant when everybody started talking about peace and safety. They aren't talking about that anymore.
I read the same passage today and the Lord has an entirely different lesson focus - one more appropriate to our advanced time frame. What is the lesson?
First they shall say peace and safety - followed by the fear of sudden destruction. Then the Lord will descend from heaven with a shout and the voice of an archangel and the dead in Christ will rise first, followed by the living believers who will receive their resurrection bodies next.
And then shall that Wicked be revealed. . .
Seven Major Prophetic Signs Of The Second Coming - A Bible Study by Jack Kelley - http://gracethrufaith.com/end-times-prophecy/seven-major-prophetic-signs-of-the-second-coming/
13th Annual Update January 2014
There are seven major prophetic signs of the Second Coming, and currently all of them are in some stage of fulfillment. As in years past, I'll list the seven with their primary biblical references and offer commentary from current events.
1. Israel Will Be In The Land ... Ezekiel 36:8-12, 37:21
Speaking to the Land God said,
"You, O mountains of Israel, will produce branches and fruit for my people Israel, for they will soon come home. I am concerned for you and will look on you with favor; you will be plowed and sown, and I will multiply the number of people upon you, even the whole house of Israel. The towns will be inhabited and the ruins rebuilt. I will increase the number of men and animals upon you, and they will be fruitful and become numerous. I will settle people on you as in the past and will make you prosper more than before. Then you will know that I am the LORD. I will cause people, my people Israel, to walk upon you. They will possess you, and you will be their inheritance; you will never again deprive them of their children.
And to the people He said,
This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land.
Although Ezekiel wrote these words while the Israelites were in Babylon, they were not fulfilled in the nation's return from exile there. Like Isaiah before him (Isaiah 11:11) Ezekiel was speaking of the second and final return, not the one after the Babylon captivity. We know this because in Ezekiel 36:12 the Lord said His people would possess the mountains of Israel, and they would never again deprive His people of their children. That means from the time this prophecy was fulfilled there would always be Jewish children born in Israel. And yet in the first century, the nation ceased to exist altogether. Therefore in 1948, when Israel took its place among the nations of the world again for the first time in nearly 2000 years, students of prophecy recognized the fulfillment of the primary sign that the end of the age was upon us. Since that time there have been numerous attempts by Israel's enemies to undo what God has done, but they've all failed. Jesus said some from the generation being born when Israel was reborn would still be alive when He returns (Matt. 24:34).
2. Jerusalem Will Be In Jewish Hands... Luke 21:24
They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
The Lord prophesied that the reunification of Jerusalem as a Jewish City would be a sign that foreign (gentile) influence over His land, and indeed the world, was coming to an end (Luke 21:24). Fulfillment of this prophecy began in 1967, when Jerusalem became an undivided Jewish city again, and scholars saw it as another major sign that the End of the Age had begun. The almost world wide effort to re-divide the city is in essence a battle of wills. Nearly every Israeli leader has stood firmly on a pledge to keep Jerusalem united forever as Israel's capital, but the unbelieving leaders of the world are just as resolutely determined to divide it with the Palestinians.
The Lord said that at the End of the Age He will make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling, an immovable rock for all nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves. (Zechariah 12:2-3) This past year much of the talk against Israel has been focused on Jerusalem. American leaders, traditionally some of Israel's most loyal allies, have publicly called East Jerusalem occupied territory and demanded that no more Jewish homes be built there. They have even tried to halt construction in undisputed neighborhoods.
I've come to believe that Jerusalem won't really be free of Gentile "trampling" until the Lord returns. Daniel's prophecy that Gentile Dominion would not end until the Lord establishes His kingdom (Daniel 2:36-45), Zechariah's prophecy of half the city's inhabitants going into exile just before the Lord's return (Zech. 14:2), and John's observation in Rev. 11:1-2 of the gentiles trampling the outer court of the Temple during the Great Tribulation all confirm this. But even so, the fact that Jerusalem is back in Jewish hands is another big sign that the End is coming soon.
3. A Muslim Coalition Armed And Led By Russia Will Attack The Holy Land... Ezek. 38:2-6
"Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal; prophesy against him. This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks in your jaws and bring you out with your whole army-your horses, your horsemen fully armed, and a great horde with large and small shields, all of them brandishing their swords. Persia, Cush and Put will be with them, all with shields and helmets, also Gomer with all its troops, and Beth Togarmah from the far north with all its troops-the many nations with you."
Numerous historical references make it plain that Magog stands for modern Russia, and the other countries named here form a coalition based on their common religion, Islam. Among them are Iran, several North African countries, Eastern European countries along the Danube, and the Turkic nations of Asia Minor. A quick look at a world map will reveal that these areas are home to some of the most radical Islamic groups. (For a detailed explanation of the modern nations to which these Biblical names refer, read An In Depth Look At The Modern Equivalent To Biblical Names in Ezek.38)
Directly or indirectly, the Russians are already a supplier of arms for the nations who will form this coalition, just as Ezekiel prophesied, and will be drawn into joining in this battle by God Himself. Russia's barely disguised policy of becoming the major outside force in the Middle East is playing right into the Lord's hands. Russia has moved part of its Black Sea fleet into the Eastern Mediterranean with a home port in Tartus, Syria and has deployed shore to ship and anti-aircraft missile batteries in Syria as well. Russia and Iran are well into the implementation of a $50 billion deal to provide Iran with nuclear power. The 10 reactors called for in the deal are supposedly for electrical power generation, but most western leaders are convinced they'll be used to create material for bombs, too.
And at year end Iran announced a coming agreement with Russia for a massive oil-for-goods program that will allow them to side step the sanctions currently in place on their oil exports and increase then by 50% (worth about $1.5 billion per month). This will substantially ease the economic pain they've been feeling due to the sanctions program. Since Russia is already a net exporter of oil, it is believed that Iran will actually be providing oil to other countries under Russia's name.
Various experts had claimed that Iran would become a nuclear power in 2013, and many still think this will become a reality in 2014. Israel and the US have both vowed to prevent that from ever happening but prevention seems to be far from a sure thing. Currently Iran is blatantly violating several provisions of the "agreement" negotiated with the major powers in Nov. 2013, saying,""We don't aspire to obtain a nuclear bomb, but it is necessary so that we can put Israel in its place..." (Iranian Majlis member Mohammed Nabavian).
It's important to remember that if Israel launches a preventive strike against Iran it would not be a fulfillment of Ezekiel 38. The prophecy calls for a sneak attack on Israel, not the other way around. Currently that prerequisite is the major obstacle to an early fulfillment of Ezekiel's prophecy. It has to occur at a time when Israel is "a peaceful and unsuspecting people" (Ezekiel 38:11) and this certainly is not the case today.
But Psalm 83 and Isaiah 17 are yet-to-be-fulfilled prophecies that taken together appear to involve all of Israel's next door neighbors in another attempt to wipe the Jewish nation off the map. A victory by Israel would explain why these next door neighbors are not named in Ezekiel's list of antagonists, although you'd expect them to be at or near the top of the list. It would also explain how Israel could soon be living in a perceived state of safety as Ezekiel 38:11 requires.
Syria came very close to suffering the fulfillment of Isaiah 17 in 2013 and surrounding nations are still on a war footing. Many experts believe a regional war is imminent, but at year's end it hasn't happened yet. I think there's a better than even chance that if the situation in Syria deteriorates into a fulfillment of Isaiah 17, it will trigger Psalm 83 as well, and at year end it still looked as if that could happen any time.
Another prerequisite for Ezekiel's battle is clearly being met. Till now Israel really hasn't had any wealth to speak of, but recent oil and gas discoveries, said to be worth billions of dollars, could provide the wealth necessary to make Israel an attractive target for attack. This could fulfill the precondition of Ezekiel 38:13 that Russia will be looking for plunder. These discoveries could make enough natural gas available to supply Israel's needs for more than 100 years while turning the country from a net importer to a net exporter. Russia is already looking for ways to get involved in bringing this gas to market, and according to Ezekiel they'll eventually go to war in what will turn out to be a failed attempt to do so by force.
I believe the removal of the US as Israel's powerful ally is also necessary to pave the way for Ezekiel's battle, because I don't think the Muslim coalition will attack until they're sure the US won't retaliate. Any one of several scenarios currently being played out could accomplish this, especially since our national policy toward Israel is not what it once was. Because of our failures in Syria and our about face toward Iran many in the middle East, including Israel, no longer believe we'll follow through on our promise to "have Israel's back" if it should come to that. Add to that the rising threat of a terrorist event in our homeland, our continuing economic weakness, and the nearness of the Rapture of the Church, and it's a becoming a whole lot easier to see how the US could abandon its commitment to Israel.
When the time is right, having recently taken His church to Heaven, the Lord will use this battle to orchestrate His reconciliation with Israel, and on its heels the anti Christ will emerge with a peace plan that includes a Jewish Temple. So once this battle takes place, end times prophecy will really go on fast forward.
4. The Ancient Roman Empire Will Re-Emerge As A Political Force... Rev 17:9-10
"This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while."
This one is a little obscure if you don't know your history. When John was writing this, about 95AD, there had been five great world powers; Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and Greece. All had been conquered and absorbed. The current power was Rome, which was never really conquered and will re-emerge at the end of the age.
About 600 years earlier, the Prophet Daniel had spoken of a period of time theologians call Gentile Dominion that gives us added insight into Rev. 17:9-10. In Daniel 2:36-45 Gentile Dominion is symbolized by a giant statue that Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, had dreamed about. Egypt and Assyria had recently been defeated by Nebuchadnezzar, and Daniel said the statue represented the four remaining Gentile kingdoms, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome. In the dream, Babylon was the head of the statue and was made of gold. Persia was the chest and arms, made of silver. Greece was the belly and thighs of bronze, followed by the two appearances of Rome, two legs of iron (Biblical Rome) and two feet of iron mixed with clay (the revived Roman Empire). After that God would set up His own, eternal, kingdom.
There are some interesting details in the description of the two feet upon which the statue stands. Remember, they represent the end times version of the Roman Empire. Let's read it.
Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay (Daniel 2:41-43).
In the first place iron and clay don't mix. We can imagine sticky clay serving as glue that holds pieces of iron together, but the language describes a clay that's already baked, hard and brittle like shards of pottery.
You can't make random pieces of iron and pottery adhere, and according to Daniel 2:41-43 this will be the end times empire's insurmountable problem. Today the western leg is known as Europe while the Eastern leg consists of the Islamic nations of the Middle East. Although the world is currently focused on the economic challenges Europe faces, ultimately the number one issue of this end times empire will be that of integrating the vastly dissimilar cultures of the western and eastern legs. They are just too different to be blended and already the failure of the European social experiment called multi-culturalism has become evident. Throughout the end times the revived Roman Empire will be partly strong (eastern leg) and partly brittle (western leg) and will not adhere. I'm convinced the aggressive and growing culture of the eastern leg (Islam) will overtake the dying culture of the west and become the dominant voice of Europe. Nevertheless the prophecy clearly shows both divisions present until the Lord returns to set up His Kingdom, putting an end to Gentile Dominion forever (Daniel 2:44).
5. The World Will Embrace A Single Religion... Rev 13:8
All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast-all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.
Islam is a major religious force in the world today and the goal of Islam is nothing less than world domination, by any means necessary. It's the world's fastest growing religion and is second only to Christianity in number of adherents. Already nearly one out of every four inhabitants of the world is Muslim, and like most Christians and Jews they don't really know what they believe or why. I'm no prophet, but as I look into the future, it's much easier for me to see Islam riding its current wave of momentum to fill the void left by the departure of the Church than it is to imagine some watered down mix of apostate Christianity and New Age Mysticism doing so.
By now most serious students of the end times are aware of Muslim prophecies of the one they call alMahdi and their striking resemblance to Christian prophecies of the anti-Christ. For example, both show a leader coming on the scene during a time of great turmoil on Earth. Both depict him as man of peace who will have a seven year reign, head up a one world religion and one world government, and claim supernatural origins. Both prophecies culminate in a battle between good and evil that brings about Earth's final judgment. It's as if they're pointing to the same person. The difference is that in Islam he's a good guy, while the Bible calls him evil.
Take this charismatic political and religious leader with his supernatural power, add the widely held but incorrect belief that God and Allah are the same, and that Islam is a religion of peace, and then subtract the spirit of discernment that will disappear with the Church and you can see how this charismatic Islamic leader could unite a frightened world on the brink of disaster.
Currently there's a growing battle between the two major sects of Islam, the Shiites and the Sunnis. A substantial majority of Muslims are Sunnis (1.2 Billion) while only 200 million are Shiite. They agree on many aspects of their faith but are sharply divided when it comes to which sect will control the Islamic world. I believe this division will continue to grow until it finally erupts in to an all out battle for control of the coming Islamic Caliphate.
6. The World Will Accept A Single Government... Rev 13:3
The whole world was astonished and followed the beast.
When you look at the deteriorating shape of the world today, it doesn't take much to imagine conditions getting to a point where people will cry out for a leader who can bring order out of chaos. Whether the issue is climate change, the decline of the US dollar, the economic collapse of Europe, or war in the Middle East, the one solution most leaders agree on is the need for some form of world government. With the things that already threaten world stability getting worse by the day, how much more frantic will people be after millions of their neighbors suddenly disappear in the rapture without warning or explanation, and there's been a war (Ezekiel 38) that brings destruction from Europe through the Middle East and into Russia? When people become convinced that their problems cannot be solved by human means alone they look to the supernatural for answers. In this regard, Paul wrote:
The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing (2 Thes 2 :9-10)
A leader who promises to restore peace and safety and demonstrates miraculous power that astonishes everyone will quickly be given the reins of world government. By many accounts, this lawless one is standing in the wings as you read this, awaiting his cue.
7. Babylon Will Re-Emerge As A Prominent City In World Affairs... Rev 18:2-3
With a mighty voice he shouted: "Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird. For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries."
You may not realize this, but Babylon is being made ready to accept its destiny as a focus of world power in the end times. It's just a ceremonial city right now, but 25 years ago nobody even knew it existed at all. One of the shocks of Gulf War 1 was the discovery of Babylon standing there on the banks of the Euphrates River. Today there's a concerted effort underway to complete what Saddam Hussein began and return Babylon to world prominence. The Iraqi Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities has unveiled a strategic plan to restore and rehabilitate heritage and tourism sites beginning in 2014. As you might suspect, Babylon is at the head of the list.
Because of Babylon's current lack of importance in the world, some students of prophecy search for an allegorical fulfillment of its destruction described in Rev. 18, and of course many see the USA or some American city as a logical candidate. But remember, even though in Revelation 17:9 John describes "mystery Babylon" as seated on seven hills, a prophecy in Zechariah 5:5-11 shows it being moved "to the plains of Shinar" a reference to ancient Mesopotamia called Iraq today. We can't switch from literal to allegorical interpretations of Scripture without clear direction, and where Babylon is concerned no such direction exists. In fact the opposite is true. Almost from the beginning, the Bible has been a tale of two cities. Jerusalem is the city of God while Babylon has always been the city of man. Both disappeared from the world stage for many centuries, but when Jerusalem came back it was to its original location. The Bible says the same will be true of Babylon.
Birth Pains ... Matt. 24:6-8
You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.
Experts say the big things to watch for in 2014 will be the actions of nation against nation and kingdom against kingdom. The first of these will likely take place in the Middle East. NATO, the USA, Russia, Iran, Turkey, and several Arab countries all have troops standing by in the region. The possibility of this spilling over into Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel is thought to be very high and could easily bring the fulfillment of Psalm 83 and Isaiah 17.
Iran's barely concealed plan for acquiring nuclear weaponry has resulted in at least one other Middle Eastern country making a decision to go nuclear. During 2013 it was reported that Saudi Arabia has purchased, but not taken delivery of, nuclear weaponry for its own use from Pakistan. Saudi Arabia is also said to have entered into secret agreements to provide assistance should Israel decide to preemptively destroy Iran's research and production capabilities.
In the Far East, China is building up its military capabilities. According to a US Department of Defense report released in May 2013, "the People's Liberation Army (PLA) is engaged in a massive, extensive modernization program, drawing upon the resources of a constantly expanding economy (now the world's second largest) to support improvements in not only the ground forces, but the PLA Navy, the PLA Air Force, the Second Artillery (China's rocket forces), as well as space and cyber-espionage capabilities." In addition to the obvious threat this poses to China's neighbors, it has also been reported that China eventually expects to go to war against the US.
Africa has become a major battleground as forces loyal to Islam continue in their efforts to gain control of the continent. Somalia and Sudan, the Congo, and Libya are but a few of the hot spots that have created 9 million refugees and internally displaced people. Hundreds and thousands of people have been slaughtered from a number of conflicts and civil wars on the African continent.
There will also be big problems in the EU if they can't stabilize their economy. World financial leaders have warned that Europe's failure to resolve their difficulties will plunge the world back into an even worse recession than the one we've supposedly just come out of. Predictions are being made of widespread civil unrest as the consequence of failure. These same observers consider a workable solution to be unlikely and speculate that 2014 could very well begin the world's time of payback for years of overspending.
Food prices remain uncertain and experts warn us not to relax. The price of food will continue to be volatile and among the poor will still consume more than 45% of household income. Already 1 out of every 6 people in the world goes to bed hungry every night. Experts have said it would only take one or two years of poor crop production to bring a serious famine to the world. Here in America, participation in the food stamp program continues to set records with one out of every 6 citizens now receiving regular help. Combined with higher food prices the continuing growth of this program will further stress a fragile economy.
But many places in the world don't have a government willing or able to go into debt to feed them. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, one person out of eight in the world's population suffers from chronic undernourishment. Half of the world's 10.9 million child deaths each year is at least partly due to undernourishment. That works out to 6,000 children every day.
Earthquakes are now an everyday occurrence with an average of over 3 earthquakes with a magnitude of 5.0 or higher somewhere in the world every day. On the bright side 2013 had the lowest number of total reported earthquakes in recent history, although those registering 7.0 or higher were more numerous than many past years.
The Lord said these birth pangs would be the early warning signs of the approaching End of the Age, so I have included the above examples to confirm my belief that we're very close to our last days on Earth. While predictions of what 2014 may bring are all over the spectrum, Christians needn't worry because we walk by faith not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). Our citizenship is in Heaven and we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ (Phil. 3:20). Therefore, when we see these things begin to take place we're to stand up and lift up our heads because our redemption is drawing near (Luke 21:28). These promises have never been more important to us than they will be in 2014. Happy New Year! May all the Lord's blessings be yours.