The Ukraine Crisis Was Prophesied!

The Ukraine Crisis Was Prophesied!

SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images

Russia’s president just pulled Ukraine away from Europe and back into Moscow’s orbit. This set events in motion that will change the course of world history.
From the March 2014 Trumpet Print Edition

On Nov. 13, 2013, we filmed an episode of the Key of David television program that I developed around Ezekiel 38:1-2. Those scriptures say, “Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him’” (New King James Version).

In that episode, which was broadcast on November 24, I showed that this is an end-time prophecy, and stressed my belief that this prophesied Eastern leader—which God inspired Ezekiel to write about 2,500 years ago—is in power today. I said that Russian President Vladimir Putin was almost certainly going to be the “prince of Rosh” that this and other biblical passages say will rise up in this end time, revive Russian power, and “trouble” Europe (Daniel 11:44). This information also formed the basis of my cover story in last month’s Trumpet edition.

Then, in the days after that episode was filmed, events took place in Russia and Europe that strengthened that explanation. The events showed that these prophecies are marching rapidly toward complete fulfillment!

A History-Altering U-Turn

Ever since Europe’s Eastern Partnership program began in 2009, Ukraine has been working to join it. The plan was for Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to make everything official on Nov. 29, 2013, by signing the deal with the EU. But on November 21, just a week after that Key of David was filmed, Yanukovych abruptly announced that he would not sign the agreement.

Many pundits and analysts were shocked. They had thought Ukraine would make the deal and become part of the EU, or at least become allied with it in some fashion.

Why did the Ukrainian president make such a dramatic U-turn?

It emerged in late November that Mr. Yanukovych had secretly flown to Moscow early in the month to meet with President Putin. No journalists or analysts knew anything about this meeting until November 21 when Yanukovych announced the landmark withdrawal. At the time that I wrote and recorded that Key of David episode, the meeting was still a complete secret.

For years, Mr. Putin has threatened and bullied Ukraine. Ukraine is dependent on Russia for its natural gas needs, and three separate times during harsh winters, Moscow has shut off gas flows to Ukraine. In recent months, Putin has tightened the screws, stopping shipments of Ukrainian goods and pressuring the nation, which depends heavily on the Russian market.

This long-term strategy nudged Ukraine dangerously close to financial collapse.

At this secret meeting in early November, Putin apparently agreed to ease up on these crippling measures. He also offered Yanukovych some rich financial rewards that would help him hold on to his power—if the Ukrainian president would pull out of the EU deal.

Experts agree that it was these tactics that caused Ukraine to pull out! “[T]he unprecedented pressure from the Russians was the decisive factor,” said former Polish president and intermediary Aleksander Kwasniewski. “The Russians used everything in their arsenal.”

What Does It Mean?

After Yanukovych’s announcement, about half a million Ukrainians took to the streets of Kiev for mass demonstrations. These people did not want to go back to mother Russia, and did not want to be a part of Vladimir Putin’s strategy. For weeks, they protested and demanded Yanukovych’s resignation. These protests continue even as I write, and have become violent.

So what does it all mean?

Putin has long known that if Ukraine allies with Europe, it would significantly diminish his power. His ultimate goal is to resurrect the Soviet empire. The architecture of that empire was built around Ukraine being a part of it. Ukraine is the breadbasket of Russia. To this day, Russia’s largest military base outside its own borders is in Ukraine.

Putin applied all that pressure on Ukraine because that nation is the linchpin of his goal of a renewed imperial Russia! A linchpin is the pin in an axle that keeps the wheel from coming off. Mr. Putin was doing everything in his power to keep the wheels from falling off his dream of a new Soviet empire. And that meant applying intense pressure on Ukraine.

The fact that one manone manis responsible for this huge geopolitical shift is deeply significant. It wouldn’t have happened without him using his power and having the will to step out and shake the nations, as Haggai says. (Order a copy of our free booklet Haggai: God Has Begun to Shake the Nations to understand what this means.)

Some leading analysts and journalists have called Putin’s move on Ukraine a monumental crisis. The American media didn’t say much about it, but it is nevertheless something that will change the course of world history. It is taking us a giant step closer to World War iii! Bible prophecy explains what is happening in Ukraine, and gives vital insight into what is behind it all.

Vladimir Putin’s goal is to restore the Soviet Union. And pulling Ukraine back into Moscow’s orbit is the linchpin of that goal! In light of this understanding, Ezekiel 38:1-2 take on astounding meaning.

Europe’s Response

Mats Persson, director of the Open Europe think tank, said Ukraine’s decision was a colossal defeat for the European Union. “The lesson is that EU’s soft-power diplomacy has hit its limits,” Persson was quoted as saying by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. “Playing carrot and stick doesn’t work when you come up against a real hard power like Russia. This is a highly significant moment” (Telegraph, Nov. 22, 2013; emphasis mine throughout).

It is “a highly significant moment” that could cause Germany and Europe to seek a strong leader to counter Putin. Franz Josef Strauss, a famous German politician in the recent past, said that Germany usually seeks a strongman for emergencies.

Evans-Pritchard made these comments just one day after Yanukovych’s announcement: “Twenty years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Ukraine is slipping back under Kremlin control. Ukraine’s shock decision to opt for Vladimir Putin’s Russia and pull out of EU talks on the eve of an historic deal is a dramatic upset to the European balance of power” (ibid).

What does that mean if the whole balance of power is upset? It means the course of world history has changed! That’s what Evans-Pritchard is saying, and it is true! The pullout is incredibly damaging to the EU’s prestige and power.

What is Europe going to do about it?

So far neither Europe nor America has done much about Russia’s bullying. For the United States, we shouldn’t expect that to change. But in that television program filmed back on November 13, I warned that Europe’s attention would soon be captured by Putin’s recent behavior—especially in Ukraine!

In my article last month, I elaborated on this warning: “[Putin] rattled some European leaders to their core. … Europe is deeply alarmed by what happened to this country that is right in its own neighborhood! The changes this crisis provokes in Germany and Europe will shake the nations! The Ukraine debacle has taken us a giant step closer to World War iii! … If you study Moscow’s foreign policy under Putin’s leadership, it is plain that the ultimate goal is to eventually conquer the whole world. Europe is certainly aware of this goal and is closely watching its neighbor to the east” (“Is Vladimir Putin the Prophesied ‘Prince of Rosh’?”).

Just a couple of weeks after that was written, a certain European leader—a man the Trumpet has been studying for some time—revealed that he is deeply aware of Russia’s imperialist motives.

Leadership Vacuum

“Putin Is Basking in an ‘Astonishing Leadership Vacuum’” was the title of an opinion article that Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg wrote (with Garry Kasparov) for Time on January 6. The article revealed that Mr. Guttenberg is very aware of Russia’s ambitious goals. He is “closely watching” Moscow, just as I had said that discerning European leaders would.

Here is some of what Guttenberg wrote: “Since Vladimir Putin’s official return to power in 2012, the Russian president seems to have set his mind on teaching the rest of the world … that he shall not be underestimated on the international stage [and] that Moscow will keep reasserting control over what it considers to be its legitimate sphere of influence for Russia. … From Syria and the Snowden saga to blatant human-rights violations and, most recently, pressuring Ukraine’s leadership into a sudden change of heart on its association with the EU, Putin has managed to bedevil the West all year long. … When it comes to the honorable title of Bully of the Year, the Russian president surely triumphed in 2013.”

Mr. Guttenberg explained the main cause: “The primary reason for Putin’s self-aggrandizing behavior is the astonishing leadership vacuum in the world.”

Guttenberg can see that America is in retreat. That is the main cause for the leadership vacuum he is talking about. It can no longer be looked to for displays of real force. So, he proposes another solution! Guttenberg says Putin’s bullying means it’s time for Europe to take action. Putin has “achieved what no pleas from the U.S. president or fellow European leaders could do: Germany finally assumed leadership on a difficult foreign-policy issue. … Russia’s behavior toward Ukraine might hand Europe an opportunity to become more united and effective in its foreign policy” (ibid).

Bible prophecy says this is precisely what will happen!

Scripture shows that Russia’s resurgence will cause Europe to unite in a way that this world can’t even imagine. It will help mold Europe into the seventh and final resurrection of the biblically prophesied Holy Roman Empire. This means that the darkest time mankind has ever seen is extremely close! But it’s going to lead to the best news this world has ever experienced: the return of the Messiah to end all of man’s suffering. The Bible contains more than a hundred prophecies that tell us that! And yet you hear almost nothing about them.

The European Union has 28 nations now, but such scriptures as Revelation 17:12 show that it is going to be reduced to 10 “kings.” The Bible says 10 kings are going to rule over that Holy Roman Empire led by Germany, and we’ve been proclaiming that for some 70 years. The Scriptures reveal that it is going to be a church-state combine, and it will be a real superpower.

Biblical passages such as Daniel 8:23 and Isaiah 10:7 prophesy of a strongman who will rise up to lead Europe through this final crusade in the years just ahead. At the Trumpet, we have long viewed Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, the former defense minister of Germany, as the likeliest candidate to become this prophesied strong leader (“The Brilliance of Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg”).

That is why this one act by Vladimir Putin is having such a momentous impact. It is building to history-altering events! We need to continue to watch Europe, and see how individuals like Mr. Guttenberg respond. World events are moving just like a flash of lightning these days. We need to be aware of what’s happening.

Two Individuals

Did you notice that there is a second individual discussed in Ezekiel 38:1-2? This is an Ezekiel-type that God calls “son of man.” God tells this individual to proclaim the message of Ezekiel 38 in the end time.

So there are actually two individuals discussed here: the prince of Rosh, and the man commanded to proclaim the message about him. Two specific individuals! Can you believe that God would get that specific in the Bible? And He tells us we are to live by every word of God (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4).

Ezekiel 33:33 says that at a certain future time, people will finally “know that a prophet hath been among them.” They will know it after these events come to pass. At that point it will be too late for them to be protected physically, but not spiritually.

Verse 7 of that same chapter speaks of a “watchman.” This same individual who is called a prophet in verse 33 is called a watchman here. He is also the same individual God commands in Ezekiel 38:2 to watch what is happening in Russia, Ukraine, Europe and elsewhere, and to warn people about it! In Ezekiel 33:7, God says, “I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me.” This is not the word of man—it comes right from God’s mouth! That is really significant.

The Bible comes alive when we can understand specific prophecies like this!

Is it just coincidence that Putin yanked Ukraine away from the EU right after our program was filmed and just around the time that it aired? Is it a coincidence that Baron Guttenberg responded to Putin’s bullying with such eloquence and force so soon after that program was broadcast? Maybe it was. But if you are proclaiming God’s prophecies, then God is going to work with that message and bring events into sync to support His messenger. After all, it is God who tells this “son of man” to warn the world of what is happening in Russia and what is coming upon the world. If a man is speaking about God’s prophecies, you can be sure God is going to help him in many ways. I think a lot of what happened was orchestrated according to God’s perfect timing.

In light of the Key of David program I gave about Mr. Putin, and the way the Ukraine crisis suddenly exploded just after it, the identity of the second individual becomes hard to deny. God’s very elect surely will know who these two individuals in Ezekiel 38:1-2 are. And that will tell them where God’s work is, where God’s message is, where God’s fulfilled prophecy is, and where God’s revelation is!

We have to realize that this is all good news because Jesus Christ is going to return to this Earth at the very end of this clash between the Putin-led Eastern power and the German-led European power, which could very likely be led by Mr. Guttenberg. Those two powers are going to be destroyed by Jesus Christ Himself! The Messiah will intervene, or else there would be no flesh saved alive, according to Matthew 24:21-22.

Jesus Christ is about to return—biblical prophecy makes that clear. Surely we ought to be studying our Bibles and understanding those prophecies. They have such deep meaning and are so important to you!

Follow God With Your Whole Heart

Follow God With Your Whole Heart

NAUTILUS_SHELL_STUDIOS/iStock/Thinkstock

Real spiritual growth comes when you are totally wrapped up in God’s work.
From the March 2014 Trumpet Print Edition

How far are we willing to go for God? In Matthew 5:29-30, Christ said that if anything gets in the way of doing God’s work, then we have to conquer it. We have to cut things off, if necessary—take drastic action. We can’t allow those problems to slow us down because if they do, it will slow down God’s work.

In Luke 14, Christ gives a parable in which a master of a house prepared a royal feast for an exclusive gathering (verses 16-17). But when the invitations were sent out, the people turned them down. The people made excuses because of the strong attachments they had in the world (verses 18-20).

In response, the master told his servant, “Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind” (verse 21). In other words, go out and find those who are willing to give up those things in order to dwell with God.

“And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper” (verses 22-24). Those who were invited originally end up getting shut out entirely because of their many lame excuses.

The lesson of this parable, Christ said, is in the commitment to follow Him: “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (verse 26). If we commit to follow God, we are saying we are willing to give it all up for God—even our own lives, if necessary. God’s Family and God’s work must come first—ahead of our own flesh and blood; ahead of material things or pursuits.

Understand just how serious this commitment really is. This is not some puny endeavor: It’s the work of god!

One man who was seriously committed to God was Joshua. The Bible says he and Caleb “wholly followed” God (Joshua 14:6-8). In response, Moses told them, “Surely the land whereon thy feet have trodden shall be thine inheritance, and thy children’s for ever, because thou hast wholly followed the Lord my God” (verse 9).

Here is one characteristic that helped shape Joshua’s courageous nature: He served God with his whole heart. God’s way of life is to go forward, sincerely, wholeheartedly and earnestly, as far as you can go in the direction of His law. The Christian life is a life of growing and improving in character—of overcoming—of becoming more and more like Christ. If we are not growing, we are dying.

In Matthew 5, Jesus Christ magnifies the law given in the Old Testament. In a sense, He is saying, “I know you are well aware of all the human customs and traditions of the day. But I’m talking to you Christians about elevating the standard far above that” (verses 38-39). In verse 48 He challenges His disciples to “[become] ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” What a standard!

This scripture encapsulates the gospel of God. It is all about human beings actually becoming like God Himself. God is a perfectionist. How much of a perfectionist are you? We should develop a desire for perfection in everything that we do.

As true Christians, we are called upon to do more than is required of us—to be a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2). Colossians 3:23 says, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” (See also Ecclesiastes 9:10.) God expects total commitment from us. This is not easy.

On Feb. 25, 1955, Herbert W. Armstrong wrote, “God has never intended our lives, yielded to Him for His service, to be a proverbial soft ‘bed of roses.’ God has not intended our Christian lives in His service to run smooth and easy, with no problems, no concerns. God intended—ordained—that we should be confronted with continual problems, difficulties, troubles—that we should have to make constant sacrifices, learning to give up our own ways and wants—even some of our money, and the things we want to buy with it!”

Christ said in Matthew 16:24-27, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. … For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.”

If we hold back, we might lose out entirely. The way to gain eternal life and a reward in God’s Kingdom is to give up our life right now—to lay it down, and sacrifice it for God’s work!

Strive to put your whole heart into God’s work. Don’t be a half-hearted Christian. Don’t give in to the downward pull of human nature to be spiritually lazy. Set your mind and your will to obey God with all your heart.

Real spiritual growth comes when you are totally wrapped up in God’s work. God’s work is a work of giving, serving and helping others. It is a work that requires sacrifice. It is a work of love. It is a work worth fighting, suffering and dying for! If you will commit yourself and give up your life for this work, Jesus Christ says you will gain eternal life.

Why the Pope’s Popularity Matters

Why the Pope’s Popularity Matters

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From the March 2014 Trumpet Print Edition

Some Bible prophecy watchers have been on the lookout for a firebrand pope. They’ve been watching for a real zealot capable of spearheading a Europe-wide revival of uncompromising, conservative Catholicism.

Pope Francis seems to be a different kind of pope.

During his first year in office, he reached out to all religions, meeting with leaders from the Orthodox Church, Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, and also Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus. He even extended the olive branch toward atheists and agnostics, saying, “God forgives those who do not believe and do not seek faith.”

He made headlines worldwide after he appeared to cede ground on a defining battlefield of our time. “Who am I to judge them?” he said about homosexuals. “They’re our brothers.”

These are issues that previous popes, especially Benedict xvi, had generally taken firm, conservative stances on. By contrast, Francis seems gentle, liberal and inclusive. His attitude may make him seem unlikely to become the pope who comes to hold sway over Europe’s politics or to rally Europeans to the Catholic fold. But this view may not factor in the understanding that Europe—in terms of religion—is not the continent it was 50, 20 or even 10 years ago.

Look at France, for example. In 1965, over 80 percent of French people called themselves Catholic. By 2011, the number of France’s Catholics and other Christians combined was just 54 percent. The decrease in the number of France’s active Christians is even more significant: Less than 1 percent of French people today go to church services weekly.

The shift has been similar in Germany. In 1950, over 96 percent of Germans identified as Christians. Today it’s less than 60 percent, and only 1.2 percent attend church regularly. This trend is consistent throughout Europe.

Why the sharp decline? Mostly because of the rise of secularism. Modern Europeans are rejecting absolutes and religion at accelerating rates.

Even as recently as 2005, only 14 percent of French people described themselves as “convinced atheists.” By 2012, that number had jumped to 29 percent. During that same time, Germany’s “convinced atheists” jumped from 10 to 15 percent, and the Czech Republic’s went from to 20 to 30 percent. Of the world’s top 10 nations by percentage of atheists, seven are now in Europe.

This is a momentous shift. And it’s not just the confirmed atheists. Even of those who still say they are Christian, belief is being significantly watered down. For example, about half of the Catholics in France now say they are not even sure God exists.

It was in the midst of this decline that fiery Benedict took his bow and Francis entered the Vatican from stage left. Benedict is still backstage—perhaps ready to make another appearance, perhaps just whispering some lines—but it is Francis who is rewriting the script, healing the church’s reputation and rebranding it as a bastion of acceptance and an institution whose main concern is for the disenfranchised and poor.

This rebranding campaign has worked wonders in popularizing the church among Europeans. Pope Francis is now the most discussed person on the Internet. Francesco, the Italian version of “Francis,” is suddenly Italy’s most popular name for baby boys. Francis has also won the respect of the media, evidenced most recently by Foreign Policy calling his the most impressive voice in the international arena, and Time naming him Person of the Year for 2013. America’s oldest homosexual rights magazine, the Advocate, even named him the “single most influential person of 2013 on the lives of lgbt people.”

From the time of his election in March 2013 until the end of the year, more than 6.6 million people attended events with Pope Francis at the Vatican—almost triple the number that former Pope Benedict drew in all of 2012. Francis has also spawned a dramatic surge in Catholic Church attendance in Spain, Italy, the UK, France and other nations. In some, the increase has been by as much as 20 percent.

It’s too early to say whether Francis will be the pope who steers the church during the close of this age of man. But it is undeniable that he’s significantly improving the way Europeans view the church. He is now in a prime position to do what Catholic leaders have often done best through history: assimilate the views of the masses into church teaching in order to “convert” those masses and lead them.

Bible prophecy says that, in the end time, the Roman Catholic Church’s leadership will appear to be gentle, sincere and “like a lamb.” In some ways, this description fits Francis better than any pope in recent memory.

Church + State

Church + State

Keystone/Getty Images

Want a case study of what happens when Catholicism mixes with politics? Look at Spain.
From the March 2014 Trumpet Print Edition

Pope Francis’s message on the global economy is simply this: Communism has failed; capitalism has failed. Now we need to try it the Catholic way.

He presents this Roman Catholic “third way” as new and innovative, but it isn’t: We’ve seen Catholic economic systems in Europe many times over the centuries. Medieval Europe was almost uniformly Catholic, including its economy. But the most recent example comes from Spain.

What Catholic Rule Looks Like

From 1939 until 1975, Spain was a Catholic state under the dictator Gen. Francisco Franco. The Catholic Herald, one of Britain’s main Catholic news outlets, wrote, “Under General Franco’s 40-year dictatorship, church and state were intimately linked. Life was so strictly regimented that missing mass was frowned upon, while the dictatorship was openly supported by the church, which held a uniquely privileged position” (June 2, 2006).

George Orwell wrote that “in the main, especially at the beginning,” Franco’s rule “was an attempt not so much to impose fascism as to restore feudalism.” In other words, it put into practice exactly the kind of Catholic economics discussed in “Much More Than an Economic Plan.”

Before World War ii, this type of Catholic dictatorship was not unusual, especially in Europe and Latin America. But by refusing to get involved in the Second World War, Spain survived longer than the other Catholic states—until Franco’s death in 1975. His regime shows us what a society and economy dominated by the Catholic Church looks like.

General Franco was “Hitler-lite.” He sat out World War ii and had no dramatic plan to wipe out every Jew on Earth. But he was an authoritarian dictator who locked up tens of thousands of his own people in concentration camps and prisons. Estimates of the numbers he killed vary: Leeds University puts it as at least 130,000; other estimates are higher. The scale of the repression was so great that some have argued that the Franco regime committed genocide, or even a “holocaust.”

And all this was done with the support of the Roman Catholic Church. Under Franco, there was no religious freedom. Catholic teaching was compulsory in all schools. No other churches or religions were allowed legal status to own property or publish books. (This loosened up somewhat after the Vatican ii reforms in the early 1960s.) Spanish government money poured into the church. In return, Franco had veto power over the appointment of Spanish clergy and chose the bishops.

The Catholic Church has never issued any apology or shown any contrition for its support of Franco. “Rather than apologize for its complicity in human rights abuses, the church has adopted a strategy of confrontation and denial,” wrote Michael Phillips, senior lecturer in law at the Center for Human Rights in Conflict, University of East London, in the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion (October 2013).

Instead, this past October the church beatified 522 Catholic “martyrs” of the Spanish civil war that brought Franco to power. That war had some similarities to the one unfolding right now in Syria: There were no clear good guys: One side was backed by Hitler, the other by Stalin, and both sides committed atrocities. But the Catholic Church is (almost literally) making those on its side out to be saints, while refusing to even talk about—let alone apologize for—the crimes and atrocities that side committed. These are not the actions of an organization that has learned from its mistakes and is determined not to repeat them.

Perhaps the atrocity the Catholic Church was most involved in was Spain’s adoption scandal, which has been exposed in the last couple of years. At least 2,000 individuals have begun court proceedings after the revelation that babies were taken from their mothers in Catholic-run hospitals and sold (the mothers were told that their children had died). This was partly a money-making exercise, and partly a way to turn children from “bad” left-wing parents over to “good” Catholic ones. It was literally an attempt to breed socialism out of Spain. The 2,000 people who have pressed criminal charges are the tip of the iceberg. Many more have been unable, so far, to jump through all the hoops necessary to bring these decades-old crimes to court. Lawyers interviewed by the bbc said the number of babies involved could be as high as 300,000 between 1939 and 1987. The Spanish government has been reluctant to estimate the number of victims, but it does admit that the abuse was widespread.

This is what a Catholic economic system looks like in modern times. Looking back further in history gives an even starker warning. Any time any religion has had enough power to stamp out its competition, it has almost always done exactly that—from Charlemagne’s forcible conversion of the Saxons to modern Saudi Arabia’s much less violent ban on Christianity.

The Catholic system that the pope is advocating concentrates a huge amount of power with a few secular and church officials. History has proven, time and time again, that this formula leads to disaster.

Catholicism in Modern Spain

After Franco’s death in 1975, Spain’s relationship with the Catholic Church changed to “It’s complicated.” But now we see early signs that Spain is at the forefront of modern Europe’s return to this kind of Catholic system.

In many ways, Spain resembles any other Western democracy. It was one of the first European countries to legalize homosexual “marriage”—and it did so with the support of around 70 percent of the population. At the same time, just over 70 percent of Spaniards claim to be Catholic. Many of these Catholics clearly don’t pay much attention to the beliefs of their mother church. In fact, only around 15 percent of Spaniards regularly attend mass.

Catholicism is no longer the state religion—at least on paper. But church and state are so intertwined that it’s still hard to say where one stops and the other begins. Through direct aid, special tax treatment and the government paying the salaries of Catholic religious workers, the government gives the church over €11 billion (us$15 billion) annually, according to Europa Laica (Secular Europe), a Spanish campaign group. Spain is in the midst of a dire economic crisis, with huge youth unemployment; yet it is handing the equivalent of 1 percent of its entire economic output to the Catholic Church each year.

Even so, the church’s influence had been dwindling in Spain, just as it has across the European continent. Many view this simply as the inexorable march of progress—mankind’s journey out of the darkness of superstition into the light of scientific inquiry. The secular left sees “progress” against religion in the form of abortion becoming easier, homosexual “marriage” spreading, and euthanasia slowly becoming more common.

But in Spain, that “progress” appears to be suddenly reversing. Spain may become the first country in the EU to re-illegalize abortion. Currently, a Spanish woman can legally abort her baby in any circumstance until the 14th week of her pregnancy, or longer if the unborn baby has any deformities. But to the dismay of the political left, under a new proposed law, all abortions would be illegal except in cases of rape, incest, serious risk to the physical or mental health of the mother, or when the fetus is so deformed that it could die shortly after being born. Girls younger than 18 would need their parents’ approval. The government has a comfortable majority in the Spanish parliament, so the law is likely to pass within the next few months.

Thus, where most Western nations are legalizing abortion and homosexual “marriage,” only Spain is making abortion more difficult while simultaneously promoting religion in national life.

On its own, this is very good news. The Bible clearly teaches that abortion is murder. (Request our reprint article, “Is Abortion Really Murder?”) However, this is part of a bigger picture. In the abortion battle and beyond, Spain has revived the role of the Roman Catholic Church in its government and is giving it a privileged place in the nation’s education system.

Watch Spain’s Direction

A key part of this reversal is Spain’s right-wing Popular Party. This party is closely allied with the Catholic Church and came to power in the wake of Spain’s economic crisis. The party is Franco’s modern successor, a democratic home for those who supported Franco’s regime.

In early 2013, the Popular Party pushed through some highly contentious school reforms. The new law allows the government to continue to fund the Catholic Church’s private single-sex schools, something the previous government tried to stop. It also makes religion classes compulsory. These classes are taught by teachers appointed by the local bishop and paid by the state. It is the state injecting Sunday school into the regular school day. Those who don’t want this Catholic education can take a non-religious ethics class, but this is the exception—usually the choice of the rare, militant atheist.

Seventy percent of Spaniards opposed the pro-Catholic education law; only 27 percent supported it. The low level of support indicated that the law was a response “to the pressures that the hierarchy of the Spanish Catholic Church has on the current government rather than considerations of educational policy or academics,” wrote El Pais (May 26, 2013).

The new abortion law also has the strong support of the Catholic Church. Pope Benedict xvi and Pope Francis have both personally endorsed a change in the law.

What’s most important here is Spain’s direction. These changes do not make Spain a Franco-style Catholic dictatorship, but they do reveal that the church is getting far more involved in state affairs than it has been in recent years. And the Vatican, once it gets going, doesn’t usually back off.

In his booklet Daniel Unlocks Revelation, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote that we need to watch for signs of the Catholic Church gaining power in Europe. Spain was the most recent European country to exit the Catholic system. What’s happening now could be a sign of Europe heading right back into it.

UN Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar Honored Herbert W. Armstrong

UN Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar Honored Herbert W. Armstrong

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Ambassador for world peace lauded at anniversary celebrations.

While in San Francisco for the 40th anniversary of the United Nations, Herbert W. Armstrong met with Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar.

A native of Peru, Cuellar’s array of experience in politics and diplomacy fitted him for the UN’s top job. He served from 1982 to 1991. During his tenure, he participated in peace talks for the Falklands war between Argentina and Britain, with Lebanon and Israel, and with the ussr and Afghanistan. He also spent time peace seeking during the conflict between Iran and Iraq, then afterward when Iraq seized Kuwait, igniting war in the Gulf.

He made a point of urging UN forces to adhere to humanitarianism when sent into combat zones. The global impacts of environmental destruction, aids, the explosion in international drug trade, and conflict between countries consumed his time. Finally, he oversaw significant adjustments to the UN initiated by the end of the Cold War, the collapse of ussr, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany.

During the June 1985 UN anniversary event, “Mr. Armstrong, as one of those present at the original conference, was seated at the head table,” reported the July 8 Worldwide News. “At the various functions he met and talked with many of the 131 diplomats representing 99 countries.

“Many UN officials told the pastor general that they had seen him discuss world issues on the World Tomorrow program. This shows the importance of the stations airing the program in New York, N.Y., international headquarters of the UN.”

It was well known to UN officials that this man dubbed “internationally recognized ambassador for peace” had reported on their founding for the World Tomorrow broadcast and Plain Truth magazine. Forty years later, he instructed staff to cover the event in detail and flew his television crew up from their Pasadena studios to capture the sights and sounds.

On the morning of June 26, official ceremonies began at the very location of the signed charter, Herbst Theater. One hundred flags, representing the nations that had since joined the UN, were marched down aisles by children. A video presentation was shown recalling the historic signing after the dark days of World War ii.

Thereafter, Mr. Armstrong attended a reception for delegates at the Fairmont Hotel hosted by the mayor of San Francisco. “There Mr. Armstrong met and talked with several UN ambassadors and officials,” at which time “Secretary General Perez de Cuellar personally invited Mr. Armstrong to visit him at the UN headquarters in New York.

“The 50 guests were taken to the Grand Ballroom for a private luncheon. Mr. Armstrong was again seated at the head table, next to the wife of the ambassador from the Soviet Union.

“That evening marked the final event, a black tie dinner in the Fairmont Hotel’s banquet room. The head table guests were taken to a reception as they waited for other guests to be seated.

“Mr. Armstrong later commented on the apologetic tone of the conference, probably so because of the UN’s inability to accomplish its goals” (ibid).

The ensuing months saw a downturn in Mr. Armstrong’s health, culminating with his death the following year on January 16.

When notified of Mr. Armstrong’s death, the UN secretary general sent a personal message of condolence to Pasadena headquarters that was reprinted on the cover of the Feb. 10, 1986, Worldwide News.

“I was greatly saddened to learn of the passing away of Mr. Armstrong. From the time of the San Francisco [Calif.] Conference which he attended as a journalist, Mr. Armstrong took a strong and supporting interest in the United Nations. With his wide ties throughout the world, he pursued the cause of peace and harmony among all peoples. My wife and I indeed recall our meeting with him in San Francisco last June and had looked forward to seeing him subsequently in New York. We would like to express our sincere condolences on this sad occasion.”

The world peace sought by the UN and its secretary general has yet to materialize. However, the message of Jesus Christ’s gospel, which Mr. Armstrong declared to the corners of the globe, was recognized by international peace seekers at their anniversary event (Matthew 24:14). Today, that good news is prophesied again by Gerald Flurry (Revelation 10:11).

During the final year of Mr. Armstrong’s life, he released his final and most auspicious work in the form of Mystery of the Ages. Sadly, the ruinous condition of his time-honored legacy is widely documented public knowledge. As a result of that betrayal, Gerald Flurry led a crusade to the highest courts in an effort to obtain and give at no cost or obligation that final book. This battle to continue this work ended in conquest. We invite you to read its peace-heralding message, and learn about the promised end of man’s inhumanity to man and the unprecedented global serenity that will break out in the soon-coming Kingdom of God.

How Jeremiah Endured to the End

The Prophet Jeremiah suffered much persecution. Yet even in his hardest trial, his love for God’s Word pushed him to endure. Is God’s Word a fire in your bones?