The Sin of Idleness

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The Sin of Idleness

Even in harder economic times, people are addicted to idleness and ease. Here is how it is hurting us.
From the August 2002 Trumpet Print Edition

Everywhere we turn, we see people who have succumbed to the deadly drug of idleness.

It has affected whole nations, especially America, where we sit in apathetic tolerance of corruption in the highest levels of our government. It has affected families, where the proper roles have been twisted and the results disastrous, and no one, it seems, steps forward to set things right. It affects our industry and our schools.

Most people associate sin with something you should not do. But few people ever stop to consider the words of the Apostle James: “Whoever, then, knows what is right to do and does not do it, that is a sin for him” (James 4:17, Moffatt). How many in this society are condemned by that one verse?

Are you one who frequently does not do what ought to be done? Then hear the words of God’s inspired Scriptures: If you know what is right to do, and don’t do it, that is sin!

The Price of Affluence

In his book Slouching Towards Gomorrah, Robert Bork incisively pinpoints one of the causes of our societal decadence since the days of World War ii: “The generations that lived through those times of hardship and discipline were not susceptible to extreme hedonism, but they raised a generation that was.” Bork attributes much of our decadent moral slide today to Western affluence.

“Affluence,” he wrote, “brings with it boredom. Of itself, it offers little but the ability to consume, and a life centered on consumption will appear, and be, devoid of meaning. Persons so afflicted will seek sensation as a palliative, and that today’s culture offers in abundance.”

Citing the fact that there is less and less hard, physical labor required with most jobs due to increased technology, Bork concludes, “Hard physical work is inconsistent with hedonism; the new work is not. With the time and energy of so many individuals freed from the harder demands of work, the culture turned to consumerism and entertainment.”

There can be no doubt that life today is much easier than it was 50 years ago, even among the poor. We enjoy more conveniences than ever before. Likewise, our society offers much more entertainment and leisure than in generations past. Yet, paradoxically, there has also been a substantial increase in boredom and idleness among individuals. And the consequences, as Bork points out, have not been good.

In their controversial book Time for Life, John Robinson and Geoffrey Godbey say that Americans have more leisure time than at any other point in the last 30 years. According to their study of 10,000 people over the past 30 years, the average American enjoys close to 40 hours of leisure a week. Popular books like The Second Shift and The Overworked American have suggested that Americans don’t have enough time for leisure. Yet these claims don’t seem to be affecting the leisure industry, which seems to set new records each year—movies, sports, television, music, you name it.

During the last half of the 20th century, television surpassed printed material as our primary source of entertainment. Almost one half of our leisure time is now spent in front of the television. According to Time for Life, for every hour we spend in front of the television, we spend fewer than four minutes doing cultural activities. Television viewing, on the average, requires virtually no physical or mental effort. What it does require is time, something of which this spoiled and affluent generation has plenty. Television is a thief of time. And honestly, the time spent viewing the television can indeed be harmful to the mind. Bork graphically describes our culture as one “lobotomized by television.”

Television is only one wasteful contributor to our societal decline in intellect. We have drifted from a studious, organized, hard-working and diligent lifestyle to one of idleness and ease. Physically, we have also reaped the dividends of our affluence: 74 percent of Americans over the age of 25 are overweight.

One can still become quite educated today with a proper amount of self-discipline, but it’s easier and more stimulating to the senses to indulge in entertainment and leisure. One can still be quite healthy in this prosperous society, but it’s much easier to consume things that are easy to prepare and that taste good.

It’s a vicious cycle. Affluence affords us more time and money, which makes things easier on the average person. This easier lifestyle, as Bork said, “offers little but the ability to consume.” Our dietary consumption is not healthy, physically or mentally, which leads us to seek things even easier and more unhealthy. Like a deadly drug, idleness has put the “educated” masses in the Western world into the throes of addiction.

It is this attitude, this approach to living, which James labels as sinful. Heading down a path which we know will be destructive and will end in ruin, and then doing nothing about it, is living a sinful life.

The Sin of Sodom

Anciently, the city of Sodom had the same problem. “Behold, this was the iniquity [or sin] of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy” (Ezekiel 16:49). Sodom’s sin revolved around its abundance of wealth and idleness, or prosperous ease, as it says in the Revised Standard Version. And all of that wealth and idleness only filled Sodom with pride. Eventually, God rained fire from heaven and completely destroyed the city along with all of its inhabitants.

The Prophet Isaiah likened the end-time peoples of Israel to those who lived in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (Isaiah 1:1-10). Which nations, primarily, live in pride, wealth and abundance of idleness and ease? The prosperous nations of the Western world certainly come to mind, especially the U.S. and Britain—one more proof of the modern identity of the lost tribes of Israel.

Notice Isaiah 3:9: “The show of their [Israel’s] countenance doth witness against them; and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not. Woe unto their soul! for they have rewarded evil unto themselves.” God says “Woe unto their soul!” because they are traversing the same path as ancient Sodom.

But our peoples fail to realize that we are heading for the same destruction Sodom experienced.

Notice these frightful words of Jesus Christ: “But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed” (Luke 17:29-30).

The way of prosperity and ease seems so right to man. But as the proverb states, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 14:12).

The path of idleness and ease—the way of life the Bible defines as sinful—leads only to destruction and death. Don’t be one of its casualties.

God expects us to be men and women of action, physically, mentally and spiritually! He expects us to move forward. To act. To do what’s right, not just what feels good.

More Than “Getting the Breaks”

The study of history generally focuses on outstanding lives and events. But the real bulk of history is truly a grey wash of mediocre people whose best effort never exceeded average. It’s filled with people who failed to act at life’s most critical moment.

Yet as you examine the lives of great individuals who have changed the civilization of man, like Winston Churchill or Abraham Lincoln, you will find that they not only had a rigorous schedule physically, but also mentally.

When Benjamin Franklin was a boy, his father frequently repeated this proverb to him: “Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men” (Proverbs 22:29). The young Franklin did grow to be very diligent in his business, and he ended up standing before kings—five of them! He acquired a fortune and achieved greatness in several different fields.

Yet too often, we see the success of great individuals and just assume they “got the breaks.” Read the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin and discover what it took for him to attain that level of success. He didn’t do it by remaining idle! He had a tremendous amount of self-discipline, both mentally and physically.

Early in his life, Franklin outlined 13 “moral virtues,” as he called them, and devised a plan to put each virtue into practice. The first virtue on the list was temperance, or self-control. This he put into practice first because before he could lead a productive life, he reasoned, he first had to be able to control his mind and body. Franklin understood the importance of resisting what was wrong and doing what was right. Study into the life of Abraham Lincoln and you will see that he practiced similar habits and met with similar success.

These men were determined to do something about their idleness. What about you? What distracts you from doing what you ought to do? What is the cause of your neglect? What leads you into the habit of idleness, of not doing what you should, whether it concerns your family, your work, your diet?

Great individuals of this world, even without the spiritual understanding of God’s Word, realize the extreme danger of living a life of idleness and ease. “What is man,” Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet, “if his chief good and market of his time be but to sleep and feed?” God expects so much more of us. Shouldn’t we expect more of ourselves?

No-Law Deceivers

Have you ever stopped to consider the actual teaching of popular theology regarding the law and salvation? Many theologians teach that law keeping is not required on your part because Christ did everything for you! All you have to do is accept Christ and remain idle!

Does that make sense? Not if you believe the Bible is God’s inspired Word. Notice Hebrews 2:1: “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.” In many churches, you simply do not hear about how you can actually let salvation slip away, because people assume that once you “get saved” nothing more needs to be done. Yet this whole passage in Hebrews warns against letting what you possess slip away.

Herbert Armstrong often talked about two different kinds of sin: the sin of commission and the sin of omission. This second type is what James spoke of in chapter 4:17 and what Paul speaks of here in Hebrews 2. If we do not do what we should, Paul says what we have heard and learned will slip away, which suggests that we are to be people of action, not ones who remain idle, just waiting for Christ to return.

Jesus Christ revealed this principle in the parable of the pounds. In Luke 19, after giving His 10 servants a pound each, Christ instructed them to do something with what they were given. Those who multiplied their pound were rewarded for their works. But the one who buried his pound and remained idle not only missed out on a tremendous reward, Christ even took away the pound he had!

Back to Hebrews 2: “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him” (verse 3). Yes indeed! We can actually fail to escape and lose out on salvation if we neglect doing what ought to be done!

No one can be saved without accepting the shed blood of Jesus Christ—that is true. But beyond that, God expects action. He expects change for the better. He expects us to be doers of His Word (Romans 2:13; James 1:22). He will not tolerate idleness or neglect. That is sin! Sin is not just avoiding those things we know to be wrong. It is also neglecting and failing to do what is right!

In Matthew 7:17-18, Jesus said, “Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” Even a child can understand this principle. If a tree doesn’t produce good fruit, something is wrong with it. “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them,” Jesus said (verse 20).

Christ then gets to the real meaning of this passage in verse 21: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” It takes more than just talk. It’s more than just saying you believe in Christ. He expects us to DO! God will not harvest unfruitful trees. He expects us to produce fruit. Again, in verse 26, Christ says, “And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand.”

Throughout the Bible, God thunders home this principle: If we remain idle and don’t do what we should, then we will miss out on a fantastic reward and even lose what we have!

The Abundant Life

“And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?” (Luke 12:42). Who will rule with Christ, reigning over all that Christ has? Jesus answers, “Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing” (verse 43). The Greek word for doing means to labor or work. When Jesus Christ returns, He expects His servants to be busy working for Him, not standing around idly watching things go by.

The Bible is clear on this fact. Those who are diligent about their business now will be rewarded greatly when Christ returns. But God wants to bless us even now, in this life, if we are diligent. Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

Benjamin Franklin simply took certain principles outlined in the Bible and applied them. Take God at His word! It’s the only thing you can totally rely on in this world—without fail!

Back to Luke 12. In verse 48, Christ said, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” God has given us so much. It’s true that in this thankless society, people rarely stop to consider the great wealth of blessings that have come upon them. But what a prosperous and abundant land Americans live in. We truly have been the beneficiaries of God’s wealth. But with those many blessings comes a weighty responsibility. God expects much of you and me. And He should!

If we spent all our time and energy on useful pursuits, what a successful people we would be! How much happier we would be if we would just determine to do what is right, no matter how we feel.

Jesus Christ came to give the truly abundant, happy life we all desire. But we must be willing to do what needs to be done to attain such abundant living. Resolve to do what ought to be done. And then, no matter how you feel, do it. If you do, happiness, joy, peace and abundance will follow.

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Failing Sex Education

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Failing Sex Education

From the August 2002 Trumpet Print Edition

Could freely accessible contraceptives and more public sex education for children and teenagers actually lead to more underage sex? Britain’s liberal-socialist government, educators and Department of Health think not. But research indicates otherwise.

In England, one in every 10 babies is born to a teenage mother, contributing to Britain’s notorious reputation for having the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Europe. Evidence indicates that one third of girls under the age of 16 (the age at which British teenagers can legally have sex) are having sex. This has been coupled with a huge rise in sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis.

To combat these alarming statistics, the British government is proposing to beef up the current sex education in its public schools. Under the proposal, schools will be encouraged to set up special clinics for pupils to receive confidential sex counseling, free contraceptives and the “morning after” (abortive) pill, all without parental approval, or even parental notification! The Department of Health also pledged to “increase nhs abortion provision” so that teenagers across the country can have early access to free abortions.

The government’s attempts to lower the birthrate among girls under age 16 haven’t worked so far. The Evening Standard reported that “Despite government confidence that wider sex education and use of contraceptives can cut pregnancy rates, there is increasing evidence that this is not the case. Research by economist Dr. David Paton, of the Nottingham University Business School, showed that while family-planning clinic prescriptions to under-16s for the morning-after pill went up by 284 percent between 1992 and 2000, the overall under-16 pregnancy rate in that period was fairly static” (July 22).

The proposals are a response to an advisory group’s report on teenage pregnancy, which said last December that too many teenage girls were falling pregnant because they lacked understanding of sex and contraception.

However, as commentator Melanie Phillips points out, “Studies show most pregnant teenagers previously obtained contraceptive advice and even visited the GP more frequently than other young people in order to obtain it. … What is lacking is not advice about sex or contraception but any moral context” (Daily Mail, London, June 28).

British leadership just won’t tell its youth that there is anything wrong with them having sex, even though the law against sex under the age of 16 was instituted to protect children from the very harmful consequences of immature promiscuity. In attempting to curb teenage pregnancies by making sex education more public and handing out more contraceptives, lawmakers are in fact encouraging underage sex by offering a temptation to youngsters with no corresponding restraining check. This warped reasoning and irresponsibility leaves children at the mercy of their own immature feelings and impulses.

As Phillips rightly states, “Curbing the alarming rise in child and teenage sex will only happen … when the adult world accepts, once again, that children need guidance and protection which it has a duty to provide” (ibid.).

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A Warning to Eastern Europe

From the August 2002 Trumpet Print Edition

Edmund Stoiber has become an advocate for the millions of Germans who were forced to leave their homes after World War ii. This may explain some of Stoiber’s growing public appeal: He is completely willing to challenge old injustices—a quality not found in a German leader in recent times.

The expulsion issue has been a passionate one for Stoiber because his wife and her family were forcibly removed from the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia after World War ii. While speaking to the East Prussia Congress on June 23, he said, “If the future prime minister of the Czech Republic says expulsion was an act of peace, then this is and remains unacceptable.”

Stoiber also called on Poland to overturn the laws that, after World War ii, expelled Germans from East Prussia, Pomerania, Silesia, and Danzig (now Gdansk, Poland). Over 80,000 people listened to Stoiber speak strong words concerning the perceived wrong that must be made right.

“Expulsion and ethnic cleansing must nowhere be part of the existing legal order,” Stoiber said, quoting a cdu paper. In a slightly threatening tone, he explained, “It is in Poland’s own self-interest to distance itself irrevocably and in a spirit of reconciliation from this aspect of the past.”

Stoiber is suggesting that Poland return land to German citizens, insisting that failing to recompense the Germans who were evicted from their homeland and stripped of their legal rights would violate the character and principles of the European Union and of international law. Hence the threat: Poland is among those nations seeking membership in the European Union. Stoiber’s implicit meaning is that a failure to appease Germany on this matter will be a black mark against its EU candidacy.

Is this an indication of the strongarm tactics Stoiber would use if elected as Europe’s most powerful politician this September?

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“As If He Had Already Won”

An update on the German election: Stoiber looks ready to take over and lead his nation again to greatness.
From the August 2002 Trumpet Print Edition

Sharp. Genuine. Successful. These words are used on the Christian Democratic Union (cdu) website to describe Edmund Stoiber. Besides his own political party, many voters are beginning to view Stoiber the same optimistic way—as the next chancellor of Germany.

“Germany’s opposition conservative Christian Democrats … are riding high in the opinion polls” (The Independent, July 19). July polls showed Stoiber ahead of the Social Democrat’s Gerhard Schröder by 6 percentage points, with the gap widening.

What is the explanation for Mr. Stoiber’s mass appeal?

A Confident Stoiber

Stoiber hasn’t always been the most likeable politician. Last year, nobody dreamed he had a chance to win a national election. Yet Stoiber has gained the needed support because he has changed his tactics.

In June, at the Christian Democrats’ last party convention before Germany’s national elections slated for September 22, a thousand euphoric Christian Democrats listened to Stoiber’s speech. “Germany can’t afford to give Mr Schröder a second chance. I’ve been a better state premier than he was, and I’ll be a better chancellor. In 96 days’ time, Germany will be back on its way up!” he declared to a thunderous standing ovation.

The Economist described Stoiber’s newfound capacity to deliver an address on an impassioned scale: “Here was a man of passion and wit, with the scent of victory in his nostrils, who finally seemed to have acquired a capacity for the speech-maker’s knockout blow” (June 22).

Confidence is certainly not lacking in Edmund Stoiber’s personality. At the party convention, “He shook hands with state premiers from the Christian Democratic Union … as if congratulating them. He turned to the party managers, again pressing the flesh—it was as if he had already won the election” (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, June 18).

Stoiber publicly counts the days until he expects to replace Schröder as chancellor, confidently declaring, “The game is over” (cnn, June 30).

“Take Berlin by Storm”

A firm believer in law and order, Mr. Stoiber sees himself as the voice for millions of ordinary patriotic Germans. As if he was quoting Frederick the Great, he explained his reason for seeking Germany’s highest office: “I want to serve my fatherland” (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Feb. 13). Stoiber believes his brilliant mind can lift Germany from its recently poor economic performance under the leadership of Gerhard Schröder to being a nation of greater influence and power.

At the June cdu party convention, Stoiber “made his objectives and his view of his own destiny clearer than ever,” according to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (June 18). “Mr. Stoiber shunned tactical restraint. Caught up by his own exuberance, he praised his own superiority and promised to use his ‘intelligence, vigor and compassion’” (emphasis mine throughout).

From the beginning of Mr. Stoiber’s political run for the office of chancellor, his zeal to win was evident: “[H]is desire to effect change, his sense of duty to his peers and his ambition—would not permit him to pass up the biggest chance of his political life” (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Jan. 11).

It was on January 16, 1999, at an extraordinary party convention in Munich, that Mr. Stoiber became chairman of the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party of the cdu. After winning the vote at the party convention, Stoiber incited both the csu and cdu “to take Berlin by storm” (The Week in Germany, Jan. 22, 1999).

Germany for Germans

Immigration is one of Edmund Stoiber’s central campaign issues. He insists that immigrants must adopt German cultural ways, abandoning the culture of the former homeland. Stoiber made his view clear, saying, “A nation cannot grow if it has to make itself understood through interpreters” (Associated Press, June 26).

Germany’s population is close to 83 million, 7.3 million of whom are foreigners. “It is not right to encourage immigration when we have 4 million unemployed,” said Stoiber (bbc, June 17). “Germany needs to limit and control immigration,” he said (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, June 18). He intends to pass a strict immigration law that would put a ceiling on the number of foreigners moving to Germany every year.

Broken promises from Gerhard Schröder concerning unemployment have given Stoiber much fodder in his election campaign. Schröder’s political party has trailed in polls as Germany’s economy languishes and unemployment remains persistently high.

A growing number of Germans believe Stoiber when he says it is his goal to win the war on unemployment and to reform government. Unemployment in the German state of Bavaria, where Stoiber has served as prime minister since 1993, is about half the national average. Bavaria is Germany’s most successful and prosperous state, and reports show that it offers the best education. Stoiber is running on his record of success, promising to bring the same success to the entire nation.

One Man’s Impact

Franz Josef Strauss always insisted on a stronger Europe, and he wanted to be the man who directed those changes. He, however, was never able to attain Germany’s top political office.

Edmund Stoiber understands perfectly the vision and determination required to lead in Europe, having served as Strauss’s personal assistant. Will Stoiber fulfill his mentor’s dream of leading a powerful Europe by way of the office of German chancellor? If so, the future impact of such an election victory may not soon be forgotten.

For further insight on what a Stoiber victory will mean for Germany—and the world—refer to the article by Editor in Chief Gerald Flurry, “Why You Should Watch Edmund Stoiber,” in the May issue of this magazine.

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Return of the Royals

Suddenly, royalty is back in fashion in Europe. What is stimulating the return of Europe’s royal families?
From the August 2002 Trumpet Print Edition

From Brussels to Belgrade, from Sophia to Stockholm, from Madrid to Monaco and every point in between on the European continent, the institution of royalty is making a comeback. What is happening? Is the age of republicanism dead?

Time magazine recently reflected, “In the 1950s, Egypt’s King Farouk, on the verge of losing his throne, famously predicted that only five royal houses would survive the 20th century: Spades, Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs and Windsor” (June 3).

Indeed, despite the trials and tribulations of the House of Windsor (and the efforts of liberal-socialists and the gutter press to destroy them), the British royal family is currently riding the crest of a wave of public popularity in the midst of Queen Elizabeth’s jubilee year. But Farouk’s musings had more to do with the sudden disappearance of royalty from Europe following the impact of two world wars.

“His pessimism was understandable. Eastern Europe lay imprisoned behind the Iron Curtain, swaths of Western Europe were infatuated with socialism, fascism held sway in Spain under Franco and, while some of Europe’s monarchies continued to bask in the residual popularity they had earned as symbols of national resistance during World War ii, their modern relevance seemed increasingly dubious” (ibid.).

Since the unification of Germany and the collapse of Soviet sway over Eastern Europe in the early 1990s, much more than the systems of politics and economy have changed in Europe. In fact, one could be forgiven for thinking that the clock is being wound back to a time before the Treaty of Versailles, at the conclusion of which most of Europe’s royal houses faded into exile.

“Were he to set foot in Europe today, Farouk would be astounded by the robustness of the institution whose very survival he doubted. Europe has 10 reigning monarchs—a clutch of kings, queens, princes and a grand duke” (ibid.).

As republicans lick their wounds and liberal-socialists slink off into the sunset under the barrage of right-wing resurgence across Europe, the Continent’s royal families have every right to feel buoyant.

“[A]ccording to a recent mori poll, 70 percent of Britons still prefer a monarchy to a republic. Europe’s two other female sovereigns command even higher approval ratings [than Queen Elizabeth]: around 80 percent for the Netherlands’ Beatrix and her family and above 90 percent for Denmark’s Margrethe ii” (ibid.).

Why this sudden surge in the popularity of monarchism in Europe?

Cultural and Historical Roots

Surveying the political landscape of modern Europe, one thing is patently clear. This increasingly federalizing European Union—this mixture of iron and miry clay (Dan. 2:43)—is having a most disturbing and destabilizing effect on the populations of its member countries.

The EUwas constructed ponderously during the Cold War era under the guise of a benign “common market.” Then came the added force of Germany’s dominance after its reunification. This laid the groundwork for the EU to rapidly move to integrate not only Europe’s national economies, but also its systems of foreign exchange, law, defense and security. In the process of emerging as a giant federal state, the EU is steadily eroding the national sovereignty of its member nations. Europeans are simply at risk of losing their separate national identities!

So where does a country of long and historic heritage turn, in such a situation, to recapture a sense of its uniqueness as a nation? Where else but its most enduring institution—the royal heritage that spawned its nationhood!

David Starkey, a British constitutional historian, sees what is occurring in Europe as being “a redefinition of nationhood, away from political self-assertion and conquest, toward a form of cultural and historical nationalism” (ibid.; emphasis mine).

It is such a redefinition of nationhood based on heritage, that is, as Starkey asserts, an amalgam of cultural and historical roots, which will play right into the hands of those minions of European Union who meet, unelected, behind closed doors, to impose their form of federalism on the people of the European continent.

Right now there is a groundswell of reaction by a European public worried at their individual loss of identity. What a paradox it is that, as the Anglo-Americans turn away from their history and heritage, Europeans are avidly seeking to recover theirs. Pope John Paul’s cry to Eastern Europe rings yet in the people’s ears—“return to your roots!”

The Eurocrats, via their Central Bank, were clever enough to permit the monarchies within the European Monetary Union to strike the head of their individual sovereigns on their euro coinage. This is but a foreshadow of a movement within the German-Vatican-influenced EU to resurrect the old European royal houses in the south and east to conform ultimately to the old Vatican-dominated, Catholic monarchist Holy Roman Empire’s structure of Europe that existed prior to World War i.

It is more than coincidence that, as the royal houses of the largely Protestant Israelitish nations of Britain and northwestern Europe (Sweden, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands) enjoy an upswing in popularity, we should see the royal houses of the predominantly Catholic nations of Gentile heritage returning from exile to their homelands. The power behind the rise of the Eurobeast coordinates with precision the timing of these events (Rev. 13:1-2).

Since the turn of this century, the royal families of Serbia, Bulgaria, Albania and Italy have come home to the avid acclaim of their prior subjects. It was King Juan Carlos of Spain whose early return from exile to his home country in 1975 proved a stimulus and provided hope for others in exile. King Constantine of Greece presently awaits the final outcome of a case being heard in the European Court of Human Rights. This judgment could lead to his return home within two years. In the tiny but vastly rich island kingdom of Monaco, the Vatican-loyalist Grimaldi family continues to reign as they have for over 700 years, a prime symbol of loyal Catholic monarchism.

Ten Kings

So what is the significance of all this in the modern, secular, liberal society of the 21st century? Just this: Your Bible forecast, millennia ago, way before any modern republican, socialist or communist movement ever sought to destroy monarchism forever, that 10 kings would hold sway over 10 nations or groups of nations just prior to the return of Jesus Christ to impose His monarchy over all!

Read it for yourself: “And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast” (Rev. 17:12-13).

That term kings is translated from the Greek word basileus, meaning, literally, a sovereign or king. The term kingdom in this verse comes from the Greek basileia, meaning a realm, kingdom and reign.

To correctly understand this verse, Herbert Armstrong connected it with the prophecy of Daniel 7, thus allowing the Bible to interpret itself. He wrote, “‘And in the days of these kings …’—it is here speaking of the 10 toes, part of iron and part of brittle clay. This, by connecting the prophecy with Daniel 7, and Revelation 13 and 17, is referring to the new United States of Europe that is now forming out of the European Common Market, before your very eyes! Revelation 17:12 makes plain the detail that it shall be a union of 10 kings or kingdoms that (Rev. 17:8) shall resurrect the old Roman Empire” (Mystery of the Ages, p. 301).

Here is what this great teacher of biblical prophecy wrote in 1956: “Perhaps even this coming military-political leader does not yet now how many, or precisely which European nations will join in this united Nazi fascist Europe. But you and I can know the number—for God Almighty wrote it down for us 1,900 years ago, in Revelation 17! There will be 10 dictatorships, exerting iron rule over 10 European nations. These ten will give all their military power to the central overall leader—pictured under the prophetic symbol, ‘the beast.’”

Your Bible is plain on the composition of the federal Europe which will rise to power just before the return of Jesus Christ. On this point, Herbert Armstrong had extremely clear foresight and vision.

“We are now looking for the tenth and last resurrection of the Roman Empire—the seventh head of this Beast of the 17th chapter of Revelation (Rev. 17:12), which is also pictured by the 10 toes of Nebuchadnezzar’s image of Daniel 2:40-44. Since these toes were on the two feet that represented Eastern and Western Europe, there is strong likelihood that this final resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire will include Iron Curtain nations of Eastern Europe as well as nations in Western Europe. … They will form a third gigantic world power probably as great or even greater than the USSR or United States of America” (Are We in the Last Days?).

Prophesied Move East

Mr. Armstrong’s vision incorporated the drawing of other Eastern European nations into that beastly European combine. “World troubles escalate. Even the Soviet Union has serious trouble in Poland. Will Poland free itself from Soviet domination and join with Yugoslavia, Romania and possibly Czechoslovakia—and with Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Portugal and Austria—in a resurrected medieval ‘Holy Roman Empire’ to dominate Europe and equal the USSR and the USA in world power?” (co-worker letter, Aug. 27, 1980). He saw, fully six years prior to its breakup, the end of the Cold War and the implosion of the Soviet Union!

Almost 50 years ago, Mr. Armstrong envisioned the breakup of Yugoslavia within the context of Bible prophecy: “The strong indication of these prophecies, then, is that some of the Balkan nations are going to tear away from behind the Iron Curtain.”

A Sign

Now! Putting this all together—the expansion of European Union influence into Eastern and southern Europe, the prophecies of Daniel 7 and Revelation 17 that 10 kings ruling over 10 kingdoms or groups of nations will come onto the scene in Europe just prior to Christ’s return—and considering this in the light of the return of the royal families to Europe from prior exile, do we see it all beginning to fit together?

Note that the Catholic king of Bulgaria, upon his return from exile, already rules his home country as its prime minister! He has been given the Path to Peace Award by the Vatican. In commenting on this, Archbishop Renato Martino declared to Vatican Radio, of this King Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, that “his whole life is very special.” Yes! Very special, as he may yet prove to be a forerunner of others to come, in fulfillment of God’s prophecies in Daniel and Revelation, that 10 kings, rulers or dictators will ultimately reign over a 10-nation or 10-groups-of-nationscombine which will hold sway in Europe in a globallydominant political unit just before Jesus Christ’s return to this Earth.

But therein lies the best news of all. For that will be a great sign of the most wonderful event to follow! Let Herbert Armstrong, from his book Mystery of the Ages, have the last word on this as we look forward to this greatest of events, observing these prophecies building toward ultimate fulfillment in the months ahead: “So, mark carefully the time element! ‘In the days of these kings’—in the days of these 10 nations or groups of nations that shall, in our time, resurrect briefly the Roman Empire—notice what shall happen: ‘… shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed … but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever’!”

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An Asian Monetary Union

Asians have considered the possibility for years. Could it ever happen?
From the August 2002 Trumpet Print Edition

Asia has seriously considered closer economic cooperation among its countries for several years now. The suggestion has been made by many Asian leaders—considering everything from an East Asian Free Trade Area to a common currency for the region.

Two factors triggered these aspirations. First was the Asian financial crisis of 1997. It was thought that Asian monetary cooperation would help avert another crisis. Then there was the launching of a common European currency. Asia thought it would need a similar single regional currency to compete with the burgeoning euro.

Where does Asia stand today on these issues? Could the area achieve economic union?How would such a union even be possible, given the diversities of such a vast region?And how would such a union affect world affairs?

Where Asia Stands Today

When Japan first put forth the idea of an Asian Monetary Fund (amf) to help avert further economic turmoil following the Asian financial crisis, the U.S. and Europe opposed the idea. They believed that it might dilute the influence of the International Monetary Fund (imf). So Eastern leaders began working on another plan to further economic cooperation. This began in May 2000 with the Chiang Mai Initiative (cmi), created by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (asean). The plan called for a network of bilateral currency-swap arrangements between Asian countries. Thus far, it has been implemented with a good measure of success. Japan has made strong swap arrangements with Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines and even China. Asia experts agree that this is a strong foundation for, and probably a precursor to, an amf.

Asians certainly feel justified in seeking an amf. Globalization and economic integration has been the trend this past decade or so: Europe has its Union; North America has nafta; South America has mercosur. Henry C.K. Liu, financial analyst for Asia Times, points out, “Asia needs an Asian system, operated by Asians and for Asia” (Asia Times, July 12).

Asia is making significant headway in economic cooperation. It is on the road to achieving the first level of economic integration, a free trade area (the other three levels are customs union, common market and economic union). Asean would like to see this free trade area—covering asean, possibly including China—operational within the decade.

Up to the Challenge?

Still, Asia will face challenges seeking such integration.

One obstacle, according to political scientist Samuel Huntington, is that “cultural commonality has been the prerequisite to meaningful economic integration”(The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order). Asia is home to half a dozen markedly different civilizations and cultures—a diversity far exceeding that of the countries within nafta, mercosur or the EU.

Liu states, however, that “East Asia is quite capable of becoming a common-currency area,” so long as East Asian countries understand their current cultural limitations to regional cooperation and realize that they must pursue it “in a gradual and orderly manner, taking into account their unique characteristics”(op. cit.).

A “cultural commonality” does exist to a certain extent—principles of Eastern religions are shared by many in Asia. Moreover, rising anti-Westernism will help overcome cultural differences within the continent.

Further, political common ground(i.e., the desire to balance a strengthening Europe) will also contribute to making a once-difficult union inevitable. As Europe grows in power both economically and militarily, and as the U.S. dollar declines in strength, Asia will tend to overlook its differences and unite to help balance out an increasingly euro-centric global economy. Perhaps the economic crisis of the late ’90s, together with the addition of another strong currency to the Western world with the euro, has already sparked a certain commonality, igniting the desire to link the economies of this region more closely.

The other factor that could lead to Asian economic unification, despite cultural differences, is the economic strengthening of the Chinese throughout the region (through the economies of the mainland, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong). This would increase “the likelihood of China reasserting its traditional hegemony in East Asia, thereby compelling other nations either to ‘bandwagon’ and to accommodate themselves to this development or to ‘balance’ and to attempt to contain Chinese influence”(Huntington, op. cit.).

To Affect the World Dramatically!

Samuel Huntington wrote, “The economic changes in Asia, particularly East Asia, are one of the most significant developments in the world in the second half of the 20th century”(ibid.; emphasis mine).

Asia’s economic growth in the last half of the 20th century is nothing short of remarkable. During the 1950s, Japan stunned the world as a non-Western nation that was modernizing and developing economically. Soon thereafter, other Asian nations followed suit. The growth rates Asia experienced toward the end of the century were unmatched elsewhere in the world.

In fact, Asian economic development is changing the world! It is altering the balance of power between the East and the West—particularly the United States, as the confidence in the American economy and its dollar wanes. Huntington predicts that by 2020, Asia could account for over 40 percent of the global economic productand have seven of the ten largest economies.

This economic growth could enable Asian states to expand military capabilities and cooperation with each other. This in turn would increase tension between Asian societies and the West.

If Chinese economic growth continues strong, we may see either a bi-polar leadership develop in the region, centered in Beijing and Tokyo, or even a unipolar Asia with a leadership centered in Beijing. In fact, East Asian economic growth is increasingly becoming China-oriented. China strongly support efforts at further Asian economic cooperation (it is currently considering a single currency for the mainland, Hong Kong, Macau and even Taiwan). China has traditionally dominated the region, though. Though the yen remains powerful, watch for the Chinese yuan to take a stronger lead in Asian financial affairs.

In addition, the increasing prospect of a rise of nationalism and militarism in Japan, exacerbated by its economic woes, are certainly worth watching. Japan already had its day in the sun when its empire grew as the colonial powers failed in the early part of the 20th century.

The Bible predicts that Asia will one day unite into the largest military conglomeration that this world has ever seen (i.e. Rev. 9:16). China and Japan will play a large part in the leadership of this great combine—a role that China is already beginning to assume economically and even militarily. Our free booklet Russia and China in Prophecy helps explain this trend (request your free copy).

Traditionally, economic union precedes military union. Thus, because the Bible prophesies of a united Asian military, watch for this growing world power to first work more closely together as an economic bloc.