How to Solve America’s Race Problems

How to Solve America’s Race Problems

BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

The people of Charleston, South Carolina, showed the world the only way to have peace among the races.
From the September 2015 Trumpet Print Edition

Race relations in America are in crisis and the June 17 Charleston church shooting didn’t help. It is quite a dangerous, destructive problem.

What is the solution? How do we solve race relations in the United States?

We were shown how in Charleston, South Carolina, where a white racist psychopath, Dylann Roof, killed nine black people. In terms of race relations, the response of the victims to the church shooting is one of the most amazing stories in American history.

The members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston and the relatives of the victims of that church shooting showed the whole world the solution to our race-relations crisis—if only people would pay attention.

A Christian Example

Mark Berman wrote this in his June 19 Washington Post article “‘I Forgive You.’ Relatives of Charleston Church Shooting Victims Address Dylann Roof”:

The relatives of people slain inside the historic African American church in Charleston, S.C., earlier this week were able to speak directly to the accused gunman Friday at his first court appearance.

One by one, those who chose to speak at a bond hearing did not turn to anger. Instead, while he remained impassive, they offered him forgiveness and said they were praying for his soul, even as they described the pain of their losses.

These people offered this murderer forgiveness. That is amazing. Why don’t more people do that? We should, if we are Christians, because that is what Christ did. When Jesus Christ was crucified, as people were putting Him to death—killing Him for our sins—He said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

That is really the same spirit that the friends and families of those who were murdered in Charleston had!

“I forgive you,” Nadine Collier, the daughter of 70-year-old Ethel Lance, told Roof at the hearing as her voice trembled with emotion. “You took something very precious from me. I will never talk to her ever again. I will never be able to hold her again. But I forgive you. And have mercy on your soul. You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people. But God forgive you. And I forgive you.”

That is impressive! How many attitudes do you see like that? These people’s words came right out of the Bible, from the very words of Christ.

Felicia Sanders’s 26-year-old son, Tywanza, died while protecting her. She addressed his killer, emotion filling her voice: “We welcomed you Wednesday night in our Bible study with open arms. You have killed some of the most beautifulest people that I know. Every fiber in my body hurts. And I’ll never be the same. Tywanza Sanders was my son. But Tywanza Sanders was my hero. Tywanza was my hero. … May God have mercy on you.”

DePayne Middleton-Doctor, mother of four girls, was another victim. Her sister honestly told Roof, “I acknowledge that I am very angry. … But one thing … she taught me that we are the family that love built. We have no room for hating, so we have to forgive. I pray God on your soul” (emphasis mine throughout).

Other relatives of those who died called on Roof to repent.

She taught me that we are the family that love built. We have no room for hating, so we have to forgive. I pray God on your soul.
DePayne Middleton-Brown

That is a striking example of biblical conduct. There is no room for hate—because the Bible says hate is murder! (e.g. 1 John 3:15; Leviticus 19:17-18; Matthew 5:21-22). How many Christians really believe that?

This example should have been held up for the whole nation to follow. It should have filled the airwaves after that terrible event. This is a lesson and an example for all of us of a way of life that can really solve our problems!

Do we want to solve our problems? We ought to think about this example and keep it on center stage for a long, long time—if we really want good race relations, and we want peace between the races.

Sadly, just the opposite happened. Instead, the media and national leaders immediately put the focus on the Confederate flag. That became the main media story, while the really important story of what happened and how those victims responded simply slipped into obscurity. Apparently we have just about moved on now.

If we don’t learn from this lesson, we are all going to suffer in a way that people can’t even imagine.

But if we want racial peace in this nation, it is critical that we understand why Charleston did not become a Ferguson or a Baltimore. We need to know why the riots and looting and destruction didn’t happen there like in those other cities.

There is a way that leads to peace. Whether we realize it or not, this is the only spirit that will ever solve our race relations. It is what true Christians are commanded to do, by Christ Himself!

Blessed Are the Peacemakers

“Lots of folks expected us to do something strange and break out in a riot. Well, they just don’t know us.” That is what the minister, Norvel Goff, told the “packed, multiracial congregation” of this church at its first service after that grisly attack, according to journalist Jonah Goldberg (National Review, June 24).

People expected to see what they saw in Ferguson and Baltimore—but these people responded in spirit the way Christ did. They followed His example, and they brought peace to Charleston.

People expected to see what they saw in Ferguson and Baltimore—but these people responded in spirit the way Christ did! They followed His example, and they brought peace to Charleston!

Here is one of the major doctrines of this church, the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (ame) Church: “The church is wedded to the spiritual doctrine of ‘God our Father, Christ our Redeemer, Man our Brother.’”

That is the truth of the Bible! We all came from Adam and Eve—we are all brothers. But a lot of people don’t like that doctrine because they don’t like what Jesus Christ taught! And that is why He was killed! People want to hate other people, and kill other people. They killed the Son of God—and He forgave them. Without forgiveness, not one of us would have an opportunity to receive eternal life.

The motto of this church is, “God our Father, Christ our Redeemer, the Holy Spirit our Comforter, humankind our family.” Humankind really is all one family. Yet so many people do not recognize that truth.

In His Sermon on the Mount, Christ said, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9). This is part of the Beatitudes—the beautiful attitudes Christ gave, which are at the heart of Christianity. He said blessed are the people who make peace! They shall be called the children of God. If you are not a peacemaker—if you make war instead—then you are not called children of God by Jesus Christ.

Making peace is a beautiful attitude. Doing everything you can to make peace—not war, not riots, but peace!

This is why what the ame Church did is so critical in American history. How many times have you seen such an attitude that really shows how to have peace? And how important is peace in our nation!

Racial Harmony

In its first service after the massacre, the ame Church’s minister said, “Some wanted to divide the race—black and white and brown—but no weapon formed against us shall prosper.” How different that is from the approach we often see! And look how it works! This approach works, and the other doesn’t.

Then this congregation sang these words about God: “You are the source of my strength, you are the strength of my life.” Not other people, not the mob or anything else—God is the source of their strength, the strength of their lives. That is biblical! God will give you strength and power and might if you trust Him.

“The congregation gave the loudest standing ovation of the morning after Mr. Goff thanked law enforcement, particularly poignant at a time when the relationship between blacks and the police remains strained nationwide,” the New York Times reported (June 21). This minister thanked the police. How does that compare with what we usually see?

Jonah Goldberg also wrote, “Less shocking, but almost as uplifting, was the conduct of the broader Charleston community, which has been unified and dignified, despite the expectations of some in the media—and the accused gunman, who had singled out Charleston because of its success at racial integration.”

Goldberg reported of “tens of thousands of South Carolinians, white and black, marching in unity across the Ravenel Bridge on Sunday night.” They were all walking together, in harmony, in spite of this terrible violence. The whole nation should follow their example.

Charleston joins hands on bridge.

You can see why Charleston has such good race relations. Because the people think like the people in this church!

A House Divided

Dylann Roof singled out this community because of its good race relations. His murderous rampage shows that there are evil forces in this world—forces that don’t want peace in America or anywhere else.

Do you really recognize what is behind that? 2 Corinthians 4:4 reveals that the god of this world is Satan the devil. Though he is invisible, he is worshiped in this world. That is why we can’t have peace! The devil hates peace! He and his demons have been cast to this Earth and are now confined here and using violence, hate and murder to destroy America (Revelation 12:9-12).

Christ made this amazing prophecy: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand” (Matthew 12:25). This is America’s future if it remains divided: It will come to desolation!

This world is full of nations waiting to pounce on the United States and destroy it. Russia and China and radical Islamists are gobbling up neighboring territory right now. They are eager to see America fall. And when they look here and see race problems, riots, chaos and anarchy, they see a very vulnerable nation! Do you think they wouldn’t attack America if it is divided, full of people hating each other and tearing each other apart? History cries aloud that they absolutely will! There are many nations that would love to see America’s demise!

If America continues down the course it is taking, it is inviting its own downfall. If we keep stirring up hatred, it will consume us.

Jesus Christ said, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). Again, that sounds like the people in Charleston.

The way these people responded would help tremendously to bring peace to America! The other way—the way we have been seeing so much—brings riots and race wars. How else can it end?

Like it or not, there is only one solution to America’s race crisis, and we must go to the Bible to find it. In Charleston we were given an example that shows that it works! What a monumental lesson. It is a lesson that America needs to learn—and quickly.

‘Do good to them that hate you’

From the September 2015 Trumpet Print Edition
Public safety officer Leroy Smith (left) assists a man wearing a swastika who was overcome by heat during a Ku Klux Klan rally.

Anxieties abounded in Columbia, South Carolina on July 18 as white supremacists rallied to protest the removal of the Confederate flag from the statehouse. Yet not everyone on the scene allowed the tensions to override their compassion. This image, taken by Columbia photographer Rob Godfrey, shows black police officer Leroy Smith helping an elderly white supremacist who was apparently battling heat exhaustion. The white man is wearing a T-shirt bearing a swastika and symbols associated with a neo-Nazi group. Smith is holding his arm as he helps him find refuge from the heat. Onlookers were surprised that a black officer would not hesitate to assist an outspoken white supremacist, but Smith told reporters that the photo shows “who we are in South Carolina.” He said his obligation is to assist everyone “regardless of the person’s skin color, nationality or beliefs … ” He added that he hopes the photo “will be a catalyst for people to work to overcome some of the hatred and violence we have seen in our country in recent weeks.”

INFOGRAPHIC: The Bible Scoops the Scientists

INFOGRAPHIC: The Bible Scoops the Scientists

From the September 2015 Trumpet Print Edition

Crowning the King of the Middle East

Crowning the King of the Middle East

Atta Kenare/AFP/GettyImages

A look back at how Iran came to rule the region
From the September 2015 Trumpet Print Edition

The United States has crowned a new king of the Middle East. Not a liberal democracy. Not a stable ally. Not a respected hegemon. A nuclear-pursuing terrorist threat whose slogan is, “Death to America.” How did we get here?

Precedent

In most ways, this historic nuclear back-and-forth with a rogue nation is unprecedented. But in some ways, it’s not.

Back in 1994, President Bill Clinton spoke about a historic deal the United States had just made with North Korea: “This is a good deal for the United States. North Korea will freeze and then dismantle its nuclear program. South Korea and our other allies will be better protected. The entire world will be safer as we slow the spread of nuclear weapons …. The United States and international inspectors will carefully monitor North Korea to make sure it keeps its commitments.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (left) and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif at the United Nations in April.

Eight years later, North Korea revealed it had been secretly developing a nuclear weapons program. Then it proved it by test-detonating its first nuclear weapon in 2006, another in 2009 and another in 2013. Today, North Korea is armed to the teeth. It has hundreds of ballistic missiles aimed squarely at its neighbors. And it has the bomb.

In the situation now unfolding with Iran, we are told it will be different. It has been said that the P5+1 deal (with the UN Security Council’s five permanent members—the U.S., the United Kingdom, Russia, China and France—plus Germany) will verifiably prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. President Barack Obama said, “Under this deal, Iran will reduce its stockpile of enriched uranium by 98 percent, remove two thirds of its installed centrifuges—the machines necessary to produce highly enriched uranium—and store them under constant international supervision.”

But let’s rewind just a few months. We were told that Iran would do all of this during the negotiations. This was supposed to be Iran’s concession to just come to the table in the first place. It refused. Now that the deal is done, why expect it to dismantle everything?

In January, President Obama said: “Our diplomacy is at work with respect to Iran, where, for the first time in a decade, we’ve halted the progress of its nuclear program and reduced its stockpile of nuclear material.”

But the International Atomic Energy Agency’s May 29 report stated that in reality, under the Obama administration’s watch, Iran actually increased its nuclear fuel stockpiles by about 20 percent in the 18 months of negotiations.

Let’s rewind to what the administration asserted in December 2013. At the Brookings Institution’s Saban Forum, Secretary of State John Kerry said: “[W]e will have ensured that Iran’s program will not advance while we negotiate. As we negotiate, Iran will forfeit its entire stock of 20 percent enriched uranium …. As we negotiate, Iran will be unable to grow its stock of 3.5 percent enriched uranium, or unable to stockpile or increase the number of centrifuges that are operating at Fordo and Natanz. We will for the first time be able to inspect and go into the workshops and the storage facilities for these items. As we negotiate, international inspectors will have unprecedented access to Iran’s key facilities, which we don’t have today. We will have daily access to Fordo, daily access to Natanz, and regular access to the Arak heavy-water reactor site. And they are required to give us the plans for that site.”

None of this happened. No wonder they were cheering in Tehran when this deal was announced! As Con Coughlin wrote, “You only had to look at the beaming smiles on the faces of the Iranian negotiating team to see who had emerged as the undisputed winners” (Telegraph, July 14).

“Tehran entered these talks, let us not forget, out of sheer desperation to escape the crippling effects of the economic sanctions,” Coughlin wrote. Two years ago, Iranian leaders were desperate for a deal. Today, they are celebrating—and with good reason!

What Iran Gets

It is important to understand everything Iran receives from this landmark deal.

After it was announced, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said, “Negotiators have reached a good agreement, and I announce to our people that our prayers have come true.”

Here is what the Iranians said, through the nation’s state-controlled news agency, about the deal: “Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said his country has achieved all its four goals in the agreement that his foreign minister Zarif signed with the six world powers in Vienna on Tuesday. President Rouhani said his nation started talks with the world powers in a bid to remove all sanctions while maintaining its nuclear program and nuclear progress as two main goals” (Fars News Agency, July 14).

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (left) and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif at the United Nations in April.

The Iranian agency continued enumerating the reasons why it was clear Tehran had gained everything and lost nothing: “All sanctions, including the financial, banking, energy, insurance, transportation, precious metals and even arms and proliferation sanctions will be, not suspended, but terminated according to the Tuesday agreement as soon as the deal comes into force, he said, adding that Iran will only be placed under certain limited arms deal restrictions for five years.

“Meantime, Iran will inject gas into its highly advanced IR8 centrifuge machines, continue its nuclear research and development, and keep its Arak Heavy Water Facility and Fordo and Natanz enrichment plants under the agreement, he said, elaborating on Iran’s gains.”

Besides sanctions relief, the Islamic Republic also gets around $150 billion in frozen assets released. Billions of dollars that had been funding unsettling or dangerous Iranian operations will now flow again.

On another front, the deal gives Iran enormous international legitimacy. Far from pushing the mullahs from power, it solidifies their position. For all those in Iran and around the world hoping for a regime change—you won’t get one.

“Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday unsurprisingly hailed the nuclear agreement struck with U.S.-led world powers, and derided the ‘failed’ efforts of the ‘warmongering Zionists.’ His delight, Iran’s delight, is readily understandable,” Times of Israel editor David Horovitz wrote. “The agreement legitimizes Iran’s nuclear program, allows it to retain core nuclear facilities, permits it to continue research in areas that will dramatically speed its breakout to the bomb should it choose to flout the deal, but also enables it to wait out those restrictions and proceed to become a nuclear threshold state with full international legitimacy” (July 14).

For the United States, this represents a total surrender.

We Saw It Coming

Rewind to 2001. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, President George W. Bush identified Iran as part of an “axis of evil,” and told Congress that the war against terrorism wouldn’t end “until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.”

The Trumpet said that U.S.-led effort was doomed from the start because America lacked the will to face the problem head on.

Astute analysts often called Iran the head of the terrorist snake. But America chose to call that campaign the “war on terror.” It chose to fight against a battle tactic rather than against radical Islam or the top sponsor of terrorism.

Within weeks of 9/11 the Trumpet wrote that Iran would emerge from the war “stronger than ever.” Today, the Iranian head of the snake is unquestionably stronger than ever. It hasn’t even really suffered from a war on its terror.

In our booklet He Was Right, we wrote about the folly of America’s approach to combating terrorism: “As a result of this confusion in defining the enemy, the U.S., in the years since 2001, has effectively donenothingto target Iran or degrade its support of terrorism. The ‘war on terror’ has actually left Iran stronger. Its president is pushing to build nuclear weapons and threatening to wipe Israel off the map. Iranian agents fuel an insurgency in Iraq that kills American and allied soldiers. Iran has directed, funded, armed and personally assisted in the Hamas and Hezbollah attacks that transformed Israel and Lebanon into battlegrounds.

“Even if the U.S. had won a decisive victory in its campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq, it would still be far from winning the war on terror. As long as the chief sponsor of Islamist terrorism, the Islamic Republic of Iran, is still in existence, the war on terror has not been won.”

‘King of the South’

Since the end of World War ii, the United States has been the power maintaining security and order in the Middle East. For nearly 70 years, the U.S. has been the strongest force for stability in this region.

But with this nuclear deal, the U.S. effectively ceded control of the region to the top state sponsor of terrorism! The U.S. crowned Iran as king!

Back in 1994, more than 20 years ago, the Trumpet identified Iran as the nation likeliest to become king—the dominant power—of the Middle East. How did we know? Because Bible prophecy labels it that way: the “king of the south.” You can read about this “king” warring against a “king of the north” in “the time of the end” in Daniel 11:40.

Other prophecies and modern history and current headlines identify the king of the north as German-led Europe. It is extremely significant that America is not even mentioned in this prophecy!

Sobering clues are everywhere as to why it is so conspicuously absent. For the past several years, for example, it has been desperately working to get out of the Middle East and to hand over control to the king of the south.

Go back to 2009. That is when President Obama delivered his infamous Cairo speech in an effort to reach out to the Muslim world. Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry responded: “How much did America’s president help the terrorist cause? Probably far more than we imagine” (August 2009).

In that article, he said the president’s speech would powerfully impact the flow of prophetic events: “President Obama’s speech is a great turning point in this world. It is going to play a major role in terrifying prophecies of your Bible being fulfilled.” How true that statement was.

The Response From Israel

They are celebrating this deal in Iran. But in the nation of Israel, the reaction is the opposite.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said July 14: “The world is a much more dangerous place today than it was yesterday. The leading international powers have bet our collective future in a deal with a formal sponsor of international terrorism. They’ve gambled that in 10 years’ time Iran’s terrorist regime will change while removing any incentive for it to do so. In fact, the deal gives Iran every incentive not to change. In the coming decade, the deal will reward Iran, the terrorist regime in Tehran, with hundreds of billions of dollars. This cash bonanza will fuel Iran’s terrorism worldwide, aggression in the region, and its efforts to destroy Israel, which are ongoing. Amazingly, this bad deal does not require Iran to cease its aggressive behavior in any way.”

The U.S. has just unleashed a monster.

Netanyahu continued: “The bottom line of this very bad deal is exactly what Iran’s President Rouhani said today. The international community is removing the sanctions, and Iran is keeping its nuclear program. By not dismantling Iran’s nuclear program in a decade, this deal will give an unreformed, unrepentant, and far richer terrorist regime the capacity to produce many nuclear bombs. In fact, an entire nuclear arsenal with the means to deliver it. What a stunning historic mistake.”

This is the kind of mistake you only make once. And it’s not like all the blame falls on President Obama’s shoulders. In April, the Republican-led Senate made a landmark capitulation to the executive branch that effectively rewrites a key part of the U.S. Constitution. Article ii, Section 2, Clause 2, the “treaty provision” of the Constitution, states that two thirds of senators must vote to ratify any treaty a president makes.

But now the Corker bill is undermining the intent of this provision. Under that bill, the Senate needs a two-thirds majority to block the treaty. Speaking about the Senate’s capitulation, nationally syndicated radio show host Mark Levin called it “rewriting the Constitution,” which is effectively what it is. He said: “The Republican Senate has no more respect and faith for our Constitution than the Democrat president. They’re in it together.”

Watch and Pray

How has America become a country that empowers its worst enemies? Why are we torturing our Constitution for the sake of a nation that chants “Death to America”? How have we come to support terrorists rather than democracies, oppressors rather than the oppressed, dictators rather than the free?

And how will this turn out?

The answers are found in the same place: The Bible. The Bible tells us why America and the West are so weak and stupefied: It is because we are drenched in decadent, mind-wrecking sin. And it tells us what the result will be, for ourselves and for the world: Bible prophecy says America is heading for a meteoric fall!

Jesus Christ Himself was a prophet. His ministry was full of prophecies, and regarding some of these, He said, “Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is” (Mark 13:33). Bring God into your watching, in other words. “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” (verses 35-36). The word watch means to be awake and be vigilant! It means to pay attention and be active.

The pace of prophetic events is accelerating. Mankind’s experiment with self-government is about over. How do we know? Because the events Jesus Himself prophesied to be a sign of the end of the age and His soon-coming return are now coming to pass—exactly as He said they would.

An Extraordinary Look at a Distant Wasteland

An Extraordinary Look at a Distant Wasteland

©NASA

A scientific achievement that radiates inspiration
From the September 2015 Trumpet Print Edition

It’s remarkable, this marvelous curiosity humankind has about the universe. We want to know what’s out there. But we don’t just imagine it in Hollywood blockbusters—we spend billions of hours and dollars meticulously building probes and launching them into that inky ocean of space.

We know so little. For half a century mankind has been sending spacecraft to explore our solar system. One by one, we have gotten spectacular close-ups of our neighboring planets. Each probe has yielded unexpected discoveries—river valleys on Mars; volcanic moons around Jupiter.

Pluto is the most unknown of them all. Our knowledge about it could fit on a postcard.

That is what motivated scientists to send a probe to check it out. They built it small—grand piano-size; fast—able to cruise a million miles a day; and efficient—requiring only 170 pounds of fuel to journey 3 billion miles. They loaded it with a suite of sophisticated reconnaissance instruments to gather all the data possible during a fleeting flyby.

Then they launched it. On Jan. 19, 2006, perched on an Atlas v rocket and moving at 36,300 miles per hour, New Horizons left its home planet.

Reaching its destination required the beauty of a perfectly timed 80-yard touchdown pass—on a cosmic scale. A quarterback throws not to where his receiver is, but to where his outstretched hands will be by the time the football finishes its flight path. Scientists had to determine how physical forces would operate on this probe over the course of nearly a decade, map its precise route and speed, and calculate how to align it exactly with those of this distant dwarf planet.

Factored into their computations was a nifty slingshot assist from the gas giant Jupiter. Moving through Jovian airspace, the spacecraft harvested four months’ worth of observations about our solar system’s largest planet—while using Jupiter’s gravitational pull to pick up 9,000 miles per hour. That trick shaved three years off New Horizons’ trip to Pluto.

After passing Jupiter, New Horizons went into hibernation for about 10 months out of each year to conserve energy. Even as this lonely robot scooted farther from home, scientists still monitored its systems, updated software, resolved computer glitches, and made course corrections.

On July 14, after 3,463 days, the touchdown pass was finally completed—a graceful rendezvous between a dwarf planet that had moved 874 million miles along its orbital path, and a probe that had traveled 3 billion miles to visit it.

The scientists nailed it. After nearly 500 weeks, New Horizons passed Pluto within a phenomenal 72 seconds and 43 miles of its targeted course. It sped 7,750 miles above Pluto’s surface at 10 miles a second, recording all it possibly could. The data trove it captured was so vast, it will take 16 months to download it all.

What an achievement. What a testament, too, of the precision of our predictable, ordered universe, which operates in perfect accordance with laws of physics. Throughout the universe is fantastic, abundant evidence of an almighty Lawgiver, and a highly skilled Designer and Creator (e.g. Psalm 19:1; Romans 1:19-20).

Why are we so enraptured with the cosmos? There is always a fascination with the unknown. Scientists want to better understand the universe and its laws; they search for clues as to its origins; they hope for signs of life. Everywhere they look, though, what they see—though it is impossibly vast and staggeringly awesome—is wasted, decayed, lifeless.

Though some may be disappointed by that reality, it aligns perfectly with what is revealed in the Bible about the universe’s present state. The Bible shows why it functions according to laws so perfect that human beings can throw a touchdown pass to Pluto—and why the things floating in it look like debris from a structure fire. Scripture also explains, if you can believe it, how it will become beautified, perfected and filled with life!

The successful completion of this mission marks the end of an age of planetary exploration for human beings. We won’t see another new planet up close for the first time—not in this age anyway. Pluto was the last of the known worlds to explore. Within three or four years and another billion miles, New Horizons should reach more-distant significant objects within the Kuiper Belt, a huge ring of comets and icy debris that encompasses our solar system. After that, it will sail into interstellar space, where it isn’t expected to hit anything else to report home about.

As awesome as this trip was, it reinforced just how unattainable any more-distant object is. If you shrank our solar system and the 3 billion miles between you and Pluto down to the size of a beach ball, on that scale the nearest star, Proxima Centauri, would be one mile away.

We knew almost nothing about Pluto, which is still in our cosmic backyard, until we managed to get within a few thousand miles of it. What mysteries lie beyond?

Science’s answers are extremely limited. However, revelation from the Creator of that vast expanse gives us a perspective that radiates with inspiration.

Few understand this, but God created that immense amount of real estate for a marvelous purpose. Humanity’s curiosity about the cosmos will one day be rewarded with far more than mere pictures and data captured by robotic flybys of relatively nearby planets. Our journey into the great unknown has barely begun.

To learn about the astounding purpose and future of the universe, order a free copy of our booklet Our Awesome UniversePotential.

Fire From the Sky

There are roughly 20,000 nuclear weapons on this planet. What happens when one is dropped on your city?
From the September 2015 Trumpet Print Edition

We’ve all seen the movie. A canny, well-muscled spy races against the clock to disarm a nuclear bomb that has been hidden by an evil chap with aspirations for world domination. The hero locates the bomb, disarms it with a second to spare, and then rides into the sunset with the token blonde bombshell.

This is the closest most Westerners come to contemplating nuclear cataclysm. When the subject does come up in the real world, it is more as a political issue or an intellectual exercise. Nuclear bombs are negotiating tools, leverage, more a political weapon than an actual weapon of mass destruction.

There are 15,000 to 20,000 nuclear bombs on this planet. The United States and Russia keep hundreds of bombs on high-alert status, which means they can be released in minutes. India, Pakistan and Israel have the bomb. North Korea, an unstable, unpredictable regime, has nuclear bombs. Some people believe that some terrorists already possess nuclear weapons. Then there is Iran, the greatest terrorist regime in the world, on the cusp of getting the bomb.

Consider too: The motives for using nuclear weapons are intensifying. Fundamentally, the decision to flick the switch is caused by fear, anger, hatred, vulnerability, emotional volatility or religious fanaticism. These emotions and beliefs are the catalysts of nuclear war, and they are welling up in people all over the Earth. All it takes is one person in power to snap, and the unthinkable happens.

As long as nuclear weapons exist, and as long as human nature is present, then nuclear war is a possibility. Indeed, it is inevitable.

What does nuclear war look like? What does it sound like? Taste like? Feel like? This isn’t an easy or pleasant subject to think about. But it is necessary and important that we do.

Contemplate History

On August 6 and 9, 1945, the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were struck with nuclear bombs. Little Boy, at 15 kilotons, and Fat Man, at 20 kilotons, are like air rifles compared to modern nuclear warheads of up to 50,000 kilotons.

The suffering in Hiroshima and Nagasaki was incomprehensible. This is partly why The New Yorker dispatched John Hersey to Japan a few weeks after the bombings. Hersey was tasked with the job of exploring Hiroshima and Nagasaki and documenting the stomach-turning devastation. The final product was Hiroshima, which became a bestseller and a defining piece of literature during the Cold War.

Hersey relates the experiences of six people who were in the city the day the bomb detonated: Toshiko Sasaki, an office clerk; Masakazu Fujii, a doctor; Hatsuyo Nakamura, a tailor’s widow; Wilhelm Kleinsorge, a German Jesuit priest; Terufumi Sasaki, a young doctor; Kiyoshi Tanimoto, a Methodist pastor.

If you can, try to avoid merely seeing these people as historical figures. Instead, set yourself in their shoes on that fateful August day.

Flashing Light, Creeping Darkness

Tanimoto, the Methodist pastor, remembers the seconds after the bomb struck. “Then a tremendous flash of light cut across the sky. Mr. Tanimoto has a distinct recollection that it traveled from east to west, from the city toward the hills. It seemed a sheet of sun. Both he and Mr. Matsuo reacted in terror—and both had time to react (for they were 3,500 yards, or two miles, from the center of the explosion). Mr. Matsuo dashed up the front steps into the house and dived among the bedrolls and buried himself there. Mr. Tanimoto took four or five steps and threw himself between two big rocks in the garden. He bellied up very hard against one of them. As his face was against the stone, he did not see what happened. He felt a sudden pressure, and then splinters and pieces of board and fragments of tile fell on him. He heard no roar. (Almost no one in Hiroshima recalls hearing any noise of the bomb. …) … He noticed as he ran that the concrete wall of the estate had fallen over—toward the house rather than away from it. … Under what seemed to be a local dust cloud, the day grew darker and darker.”

At the same time, widow Hatsuyo Nakamura and three young children experienced the blast. “As Mrs. Nakamura stood watching her neighbor, everything flashed whiter than any white she had ever seen. She did not notice what happened to the man next door; the reflex of a mother set her in motion toward her children. … Timbers fell around her as she landed, and a shower of tiles pummeled her; everything became dark, for she was buried. The debris did not cover her deeply. She rose up and freed herself. She heard a child cry, ‘Mother, help me!’ and saw her youngest—Myeko, the 5-year-old—buried up to her breast and unable to move. As Mrs. Nakamura started frantically to claw her way toward the baby, she could see or hear nothing of her other children.”

These accounts describe a blinding flash of light, and then creeping darkness. It is much like the scenes described in Joel 2:2-3 and the book of Revelation, which discuss end-time events and say that the day will turn into the night.

Sasaki, the clerk, was sitting at her desk when Little Boy struck. “Just as she turned her head away from the windows, the room was filled with a blinding light. She was paralyzed by fear, fixed still in her chair for a long moment (the plant was 1,600 yards from the center).

“From the mound, Mr. Tanimoto saw an astonishing panorama. Not just a patch of Koi, as he had expected, but as much of Hiroshima as he could see through the clouded air was giving off a thick, dreadful miasma.”

Nakamura uncovered her other two children and tried to find a place of safety. “The children were silent except for the 5-year-old, Myeko, who kept asking questions: ‘Why is it night already? Why did our house fall down? What happened?’”

Imagine the fear. And the questions: What’s next? Is another explosion coming? Where is my family? Where are my friends? Where do you run to when everything around you is obliterated? Who do you turn to for help when everyone needs help?

Kleinsorge, the Jesuit priest, felt the strange eeriness directly after impact. “Kleinsorge went inside to fetch some things he wanted to save. He found his room in a state of weird and illogical confusion. A first-aid kit was hanging undisturbed on a hook on the wall, but his clothes, which had been on other hooks nearby, were nowhere to be seen. His desk was in splinters all over the room, but a mere paper-mache suitcase, which he had hidden under the desk, stood handle-side up, without a scratch on it, in the doorway of the room, where he could not miss it.”

Disbelief Turns to Chaos

Hersey recalls that immediately after the bomb exploded there was an eerie tranquility. About 80,000 people had just been instantly killed. And those who weren’t dead were wounded and/or in a state of total shock and confusion. Then the silence turned into chaos, and the disbelief gave way to unbearable pain.

A victim from Hiroshima suffers disfiguration from the nuclear explosion and its aftermath.

Hersey recalls the scene. “Wounded people supported maimed people; disfigured families leaned together. Many people were vomiting. A tremendous number of schoolgirls—some of those who had been taken from their classrooms to work outdoors clearing fire lanes—crept into the hospital. In a city of 245,000, nearly 100,000 people had been killed or doomed at one blow; 100,000 more were hurt. At least 10,000 of the wounded made their way to the best hospital in town, which was altogether unequal to such a trampling, since it had only 600 beds, and they had all been occupied. The people in the suffocating crowd inside the hospital wept and cried, for Dr. Sasaki to hear, ‘Sensei! Doctor!’ and the less seriously wounded came and pulled at his sleeve and begged him to come to the aid of the worse wounded. Tugged here and there in his stockinged feet, bewildered by the numbers, staggered by so much raw flesh, Dr. Sasaki lost all sense of profession and stopped working as a skillful surgeon and a sympathetic man; he became an automaton, mechanically wiping, daubing, winding, wiping, daubing, winding.”

Much of the population had been destroyed. The city’s infrastructure was destroyed. More than 92 percent of doctors were killed or wounded. In an attack of this magnitude, for the vast majority of victims, there are no doctors or nurses or hospitals or drugs or police or firemen. It’s every man for himself in this nuclear aftermath.

Following the attack, Tanimoto ran toward downtown Hiroshima in search of his wife and child. “He was the only person making his way into the city; he met hundreds and hundreds who were fleeing, and every one of them seemed to be hurt in some way. The eyebrows of some were burned off, and skin hung from their faces and hands. Others, because of pain, held their arms up as if carrying something in both hands. Some were vomiting as they walked. Many were naked or in shreds of clothing. On some undressed bodies, the burns had made patterns—of undershirt straps and suspenders and, on the skin of some women (since white repelled the heat from the bomb and dark clothes absorbed it and conducted it to the skin), the shapes of flowers they had had on their kimonos. Many, although injured themselves, supported relatives who were worse off. Almost all had their heads bowed, looked straight ahead, were silent, and showed no expression whatever.”

Tanimoto actually found his wife and child, both of whom were unhurt. He made sure they were safe, and then set about helping the sea of survivors.

Isaiah 13:6-13 describe a time when the sun will be darkened, the heavens will be shaken, people will be filled with terror, and “all hands will be feeble, and every human heart will melt.” Again, this can only be talking about nuclear warfare.

Across town, Sasaki, the clerk, was struggling to extricate herself from the bookshelf that had fallen on her. “Miss Sasaki spoke to the rescuer, and he worked toward her. He pulled away a great number of books, until he had made a tunnel to her. She could see his perspiring face as he said, ‘Come out, miss.’ She tried. ‘I can’t move,’ she said. The man excavated some more and told her to try with all her strength to get out. But books were heavy on her hips, and the man finally saw that a bookcase was leaning on the books and that a heavy beam pressed down on the bookcase. ‘Wait,’ he said. ‘I’ll get a crowbar.’ The man was gone a long time, and when he came back, he was ill-tempered, as if her plight were all her fault. ‘We have no men to help you,’ he shouted in through the tunnel. ‘You’ll have to get out by yourself.’ ‘That’s impossible,’ she said. ‘My left leg ….’ The man went away.” Amid such tragedy, most people take care of the self.

“Much later, several men came and dragged Miss Sasaki out. Her left leg was not severed, but it was badly broken and cut, and it hung askew below the knee. … Then a man propped up a large sheet of corrugated iron as a kind of lean-to, and took her in his arms and carried her to it. She was grateful until he brought two horribly wounded people—a woman with a whole breast sheared off and a man whose face was all raw from a burn—to share the simple shed with her. No one came back. The rain cleared and the cloudy afternoon was hot; before nightfall the three grotesques under the slanting piece of twisted iron began to smell quite bad.”

Despite having her three children at her side, the horror for Nakamura was far from over: “At once they were nauseated and began vomiting, and they retched the whole day. Others were also nauseated; they all thought (probably because of the strong odor of ionization, an ‘electric smell’ given off by the bomb’s fission) that they were sick from a gas the Americans had dropped.”

Kleinsorge, the Jesuit priest, commented, “It’s funny, but things don’t matter any more. Yesterday, my shoes were my most important possessions. Today, I don’t care. One pair is enough.”

There’s no materialism in nuclear aftermath. The bmws and Guccis don’t matter. There’s no rich and poor, little to no vanity or pride. Crisis of this nature is a great leveler.

The Methodist pastor filled his hours helping others: “Mr. Tanimoto found about 20 men and women on the sandspit. He drove the boat onto the bank and urged them to get aboard. They did not move, and he realized that they were too weak to lift themselves. He reached down and took a woman by the hands, but her skin slipped off in huge, glove-like pieces. He was so sickened by this that he had to sit down for a moment. Then he got out into the water and, though a small man, lifted several of the men and women, who were naked, into his boat. Their backs and breasts were clammy, and he remembered uneasily what the great burns he had seen during the day had been like: yellow at first, then red and swollen, with the skin sloughed off, and finally, in the evening, suppurated and smelly.”

Kleinsorge, the Jesuit, witnessed horror after horror as the hours passed: “When he had penetrated the bushes, he saw there were about 20 men, and they were all in exactly the same nightmarish state: Their faces were wholly burned, their eyesockets were hollow, the fluid from their melted eyes had run down their cheeks. (They must have had their faces upturned when the bomb went off; perhaps they were antiaircraft personnel.) Their mouths were mere swollen, pus-covered wounds, which they could not bear to stretch enough to admit the spout of the teapot. …

“Since that day, Father Kleinsorge has thought back to how queasy he had once been at the sight of pain, how someone else’s cut finger used to make him turn faint. Yet there in the park he was so benumbed that immediately after leaving this horrible sight he stopped on a path by one of the pools and discussed with a lightly wounded man whether it would be safe to eat the fat, two-foot carp that floated dead on the surface of the water.”

Sasaki, the clerk, still lay under the tin shelter, badly injured: “Altogether, Miss Sasaki was left two days and two nights under the piece of propped-up roofing with her crushed leg and her two unpleasant comrades. Her only diversion was when men came to the factory air-raid shelters, which she could see from under one corner of her shelter, and hauled corpses up out of them with ropes. Her leg became discolored, swollen and putrid. All that time, she went without food and water. On the third day, August 8, some friends who supposed she was dead came to look for her body and found her. They told her that her mother, father and baby brother, who at the time of the explosion were in the Tamura Pediatric Hospital, where the baby was a patient, had all been given up as certainly dead, since the hospital was totally destroyed.”

This was utter loss and devastation. It was physical, mental and emotional suffering beyond imagination.

Tanimoto, the preacher, worked through the day, helping anyone he could: “Whatever he did in the park, he felt he was being watched by the 20-year-old girl, Mrs. Kamai, his former neighbor, whom he had seen on the day the bomb exploded, with her dead baby daughter in her arms. She kept the small corpse in her arms for four days, even though it began smelling bad on the second day. Once, Mr. Tanimoto sat with her for a while, and she told him that the bomb had buried her under their house with the baby strapped to her back, and that when she had dug herself free, she had discovered that the baby was choking, its mouth full of dirt. With her little finger, she had carefully cleaned out the infant’s mouth, and for a time the child had breathed normally and seemed all right; then suddenly it had died.”

Radiation Sickness

The nuclear fallout caused major problems for months. Radiation sickness set in. “As she dressed on the morning of August 20 in the home of her sister-in-law in Kabe, not far from Nagatsuka, Mrs. Nakamura, who had suffered no cuts or burns at all, though she had been rather nauseated all through the week she and her children had spent as guests of Father Kleinsorge and the other Catholics at the Novitiate, began fixing her hair and noticed, after one stroke, that her comb carried with it a whole handful of hair; the second time, the same thing happened, so she stopped combing at once. But in the next three or four days, her hair kept falling out of its own accord, until she was quite bald. She began living indoors, practically in hiding. On August 26, both she and her younger daughter, Myeko, woke up feeling extremely weak and tired, and they stayed on their bedrolls. Her son and other daughter, who had shared every experience with her during and after the bombing, felt fine.”

The nuclear blast was so fierce, shadows were engraved on walls. “The scientists noticed that the flash of the bomb had discolored concrete to a light reddish tint, had scaled off the surface of granite, and had scorched certain other types of building material, and that consequently the bomb had, in some places, left prints of the shadows that had been cast by its light. The experts found, for instance, a permanent shadow thrown on the roof of the Chamber of Commerce building ….”

Hiroshima inflicted permanent physical and mental scars. “A year after the bomb was dropped, Miss Sasaki was a cripple; Mrs. Nakamura was destitute; Father Kleinsorge was back in the hospital; Dr. Sasaki was not capable of the work he once could do; Dr. Fujii had lost the 30-room hospital it took him many years to acquire, and had no prospects of rebuilding it; Mr. Tanimoto’s church had been ruined and he no longer had his exceptional vitality. The lives of these six people, who were among the luckiest in Hiroshima, would never be the same.”

Nuclear War Prophesied

These scenes are not easy to think about. When we do, the natural response, besides empathizing with these victims, is to view Hiroshima and Nagasaki first and foremost as tragic history, unique, anomalous and distant. The reality is, this history is prophecy. Hiroshima and Nagasaki are in our future.

“It’s time we face the hard, cold, realistic fact,” wrote Herbert W. Armstrong in his book The Incredible Human Potential. “Humanity has two alternatives: Either there is an Almighty, all-powerful God who is about to step in and set up the Kingdom of God to rule all nations with supernatural and supra-national FORCE to bring us peace—or else all human life will be obliterated.”

Mr. Armstrong recalled Jesus Christ’s prophecy in Matthew 24. This chapter describes world events right before His Second Coming. Consider Christ’s words in verses 21-22: “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.”

This devastation will exceed anything mankind has ever experienced. Think about the Second World War—the scenes in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and Auschwitz, Dachau and Treblinka—then multiply the suffering a thousandfold. This is what the Bible says is imminent! It will be so bad that if Christ didn’t return and intervene, “there should no flesh be saved.” Mankind would be wiped out, vanquished, made extinct!

The only way this could happen in a short span of time is if nuclear bombs are being detonated!

There are about 20,000 nuclear bombs on this planet. Experts believe it would only require 50 to 100 of them, depending on their size, to wipe out every human on Earth. Mr. Armstrong continued: “The recent ‘recess’ will soon erupt into nuclear World War iii—called in biblical prophecy the ‘Great Tribulation.’”

This is real, and it is coming soon! You need to think about this, right now.

As important as it is to ponder the history of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and its impending repetition, it is vital to keep the larger picture in mind. Remember the theme of Matthew 24: Jesus is prophesying events to occur immediately before His return and the establishment of the Kingdom of God on Earth.

Recall this as you meditate on this subject: The worst suffering in human history precedes the greatest, most joyous event in human history—the return of Christ and establishment of God’s government!

God is merciful and loving, and He is going to cut short the suffering. As Mr. Armstrong wrote: “God will cut short that final supreme world trouble, and send Christ again to Earth as King of kings, Lord of lords—to restore God’s government by the world-ruling Kingdom of God!”