The Startling Truth About One of History’s Greatest Kings

Gary Dorning/PT

The Startling Truth About One of History’s Greatest Kings

How the incredible history of a Persian king can change your view of the Bible
From the November 2015 Trumpet Print Edition

Even today, more than 2,500 years after his death, Cyrus the Great of ancient Persia remains one of humanity’s most brilliant and outstanding monarchs. There is much to learn and admire about King Cyrus, and no dearth of knowledge on this subject.

But the most interesting feature about this man and his towering accomplishments is also the most obscure. It is also profoundly inspiring.


Who Was Cyrus?

Cyrus ii ruled the Persian Empire from 559 to 530 b.c. The history of his life and accomplishments is well documented by Greek and Roman historians and by archaeological evidence. Among his many feats, Cyrus conquered the invincible Babylonian-Chaldean Empire and established Persia as the world power.

Under Cyrus, the borders of the Persian Empire rapidly expanded to create the largest empire humanity had ever seen. Under his leadership, ancient Persia’s borders stretched to Central Asia (Russia’s southern border today); as far east as the Indus River (the Pakistan-India border); as far north as the Danube, including Turkey, Crete and the southern parts of Greece and Bulgaria; and as far south as Libya.

But Cyrus was much more than a prodigious conqueror. He heralded a new breed of leadership and politics. Unlike the Assyrians and others before him, he did not rule exclusively by sword and spear. Subjects were not beaten, tortured and killed into acquiescence and cooperation. In fact, many consider this king the world’s first true humanitarian.

“Cyrus was an outstanding soldier and statesman,” the Encyclopedia Britannica says. “He founded an empire that stretched from the Indus and Jazartes to the Aegean and the borders of Egypt and left behind him a reputation for justice and clemency …” (emphasis added). The Mainstream of Civilization says, “Cyrus created a new type of empire. Under the close supervision of his government, he permitted the conquered peoples to retain their own customs and religions and their own forms of government.”

In fact, many consider this king the world’s first true humanitarian.

For a world inured to cruel, forceful governance, King Cyrus’s disposition was revolutionary and much welcomed. His subjects tended not to revolt, hence the staying power of the Persian Empire.


The World’s Greatest City

In the time of Cyrus, Babylon was extraordinarily well fortified, teemed with top-notch Babylonian soldiers, and had a well-earned aura of impenetrability. It was the greatest city in the world.

Originally constructed by Nimrod soon after the Flood, the city had experienced a massive makeover by King Nebuchadnezzar ii in the late seventh and early sixth centuries b.c. Laden with materials and manpower plundered from neighbors, Nebuchadnezzar spared nothing in expanding, fortifying and beautifying his city. Babylon’s legendary hanging gardens, built for the queen who missed her lush, mountainous homeland in Media, were an engineering marvel, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Herodotus records that Babylon covered 196 square miles and was protected by an outer wall that was 311 feet high and 87 feet thick. The walls were so thick, even at the top, that chariots could be driven on them. Controlling access through this barrier were more than 100 bronze gateways.

The Euphrates River meandered through Babylon, much like the Thames through London. Inside the outer wall, the riverbanks “were lined and walled with brick. In the wall on either side of the river were 25 gates. There was a bridge 1,080 yards long and 30 feet broad across the river. At either end of this bridge was the royal palace. The more magnificent of these palaces was surrounded by three walls. The middle wall was 300 feet high, with towers 420 feet in height. The inner wall was yet higher. The two inner walls, Cterias tells us, were of colored brick. Upon them were portrayed hunting scenes—the chase of the leopard and the lion” (A Handbook of Ancient History in Bible Light).

Cyrus sought to do the impossible: to conquer this impenetrable fortress.

His strategy was brilliantly simple. First, he dug trenches upstream and diverted water from the Euphrates into a large reservoir. Once the water level had dropped, and under the cover of darkness, Persian soldiers slipped into the knee-deep water, marched up the riverbed, and snuck under Babylon’s giant gates.

Although the soldiers had infiltrated the outer gates, there were still brass and iron internal gates controlling access out of the riverbed and into the city. If they couldn’t get through the gates, the soggy riverbed would turn the Persians’ tactical advantage into a massive kill box. All the Babylonian soldiers had to do was rain spears and arrows down on them. In fact, if they could block the Persians’ retreat, the Babylonians could conceivably kill every last Persian soldier, to a man—like shooting fish in a barrel.

But strangely, on the night of the invasion, there were no soldiers, and the internal gates were wide open. King Nabonidus, his son Belshazzar, the imperial guard, the soldiers, and many of the people of Babylon were partying! Consumed with drinking and games, they had failed to close the gates and to station guards. Having quenched the Euphrates and penetrated the outer gates, the Persian soldiers were able to stroll through the internal gates, taking the city—including the shocked king—by surprise!

Belshazzar’s Feast as portrayed by Rembrandt.

It was a magnificent victory, bordering on—and crossing into—the miraculous!

Greek historians Herodotus and Xenophon recorded the history-changing event. King Cyrus’s conquest of Babylon in 539 b.c. was one of his most notable accomplishments. By conquering this mighty city, he toppled the world-ruling Babylonian-Chaldean Empire.


Cyrus the Humanitarian

In 1879, British archaeologists digging in Iran discovered a barrel-shaped cylinder made out of clay. Inscribed on the cylinder in ancient cuneiform was a decree by King Cyrus of Persia. In the 40-line decree, the king recalled his defeat of Babylon and clearly outlined a number of policies designed to defend the rights of the conquered.

You can find this incredible artifact, called the Cyrus Cylinder, in the British Museum. This cylinder confirms the historical records showing that King Cyrus displayed a tremendous and heretofore unprecedented respect and tolerance for the peoples he conquered. The United Nations says the Cyrus Cylinder is the “world’s first charter of human rights” and is proof that King Cyrus was one of mankind’s first great humanitarians.

Cyrus’s governance really is remarkable. For a man with so much power, he displayed incredible tolerance and even respect for the religion, customs and politics of the people he conquered.

The United Nations says the Cyrus Cylinder is the “world’s first charter of human rights” …

His greatest and most famous humanitarian act was releasing the captive Jews in Babylon and allowing them to return to Judea to rebuild the temple and the city of Jerusalem. This decision by Cyrus is well known and well documented by Greek and Roman historians, as well as Josephus, the most recognized Jewish historian. Many believe the text on the Cyrus Cylinder alludes to the king’s decision to release the Jews.

King Cyrus issued his decree releasing the Jews in 538 b.c., about a year after he conquered Babylon. Zerubbabel, a leading Jewish figure in Babylon at the time, became responsible for mustering the party and leading it back to Jerusalem. There, they set about rebuilding Solomon’s temple. One of the most astonishing features about this decree is that there was no cost or price to the Jews. In fact, the king of Persia actually financed the Jews’ return to their homeland, their reconstruction of the temple, and their reconstruction of Jerusalem!

Any historian will agree: Such magnanimity and benevolence from a man with supreme power is extremely rare! Cyrus the Great was truly an anomaly among world leaders.


Biblical History

All of this history is well documented by secular historians and archaeological evidence. But there is another source that records these events in detail: the Bible. In Ezra 1:1-4, for example, we read of Cyrus’s decree releasing the Jews to return to Jerusalem. These scriptures in Ezra were recorded a few decades after the event. More records about King Cyrus can be found in Jeremiah 25 and 2 Chronicles 36, both of which were written after Cyrus was on the scene.

A passage in Isaiah 44 also discusses Cyrus the Great—and this is where the history gets exciting.

Isaiah 44:24 reads: “Thus saith the Lord, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the Lord that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself.” Here God is establishing His supremacy, even over the daily affairs of mankind.

Isaiah continues: “[God] saith of Cyrus, He is my shepherd, and shall perform all my pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid” (verse 28). Isaiah is writing about how King Cyrus would be an instrument in God’s hands—“my shepherd”—and explaining how God would inspire Cyrus to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple.

The thought continues in Isaiah 45:1: “Thus saith the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut.” Isaiah is saying that God would empower King Cyrus, even helping him “subdue nations” and make massive territorial goals.

The narrative becomes even more specific: “I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron” (verse 2). If you study this passage and Bible commentaries, you will easily see that these scriptures are specifically discussing King Cyrus’s conquest of Babylon. Notice, God says He will help Cyrus rupture the “gates of brass” and “bars of iron.”

The book of Isaiah was written about 150 years before Cyrus the Great was born!

Isaiah’s account is similar to the accounts in Ezra and 2 Chronicles. Except for one critical factor.

The book of Isaiah was written about 150 years before Cyrus the Great was born!

It’s true. King Cyrus, his rise to power, his defeat of Babylon, his humanitarian legacy, his name—even Babylon’s gates of iron and brass—were all prophesied by God about one and a half centuries before Cyrus’s birth!

Slow down and think about this. This is awesome proof of God’s existence and the veracity of the Holy Bible.

How do we know Isaiah was written before Cyrus was born? It’s not hard to prove. Isaiah 1:1 says: “The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.”

This verse clearly says that Isaiah was alive and writing during the reigns of four kings of Judah: Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah. Biblical history, as well as Jewish history and established historical record, clearly show that these all reigned in the eighth century b.c. This is nowhere disputed.

Bible commentaries agree that Isaiah was on the scene for about 50 years, roughly between 760 and 710 b.c. For example, Isaiah 38:3-8 show that he prophesied during the reign of King Hezekiah.

Critics of the Bible despise Isaiah 44 and 45. Over the last century or so, numerous theories have emerged to explain how this passage of scripture was written after King Cyrus. The most prominent theory says that the book of Isaiah has multiple authors, and that some parts of the book, mainly the latter chapters, were written at a different time and much later than the first part of the book. According to this theory, the book of Isaiah was compiled into a single book around 70 b.c.

But this theory has been proven false. A copy of the entire book of Isaiah was discovered as part of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The scrolls on which the text of Isaiah was discovered were dated to around 200 b.c., proving that the entire book of Isaiah was completed well before 70 b.c.!

Consider too: Josephus recorded that King Cyrus actually read this prophecy about himself in the book of Isaiah! If the prophecy in Isaiah 44-45 was written after Cyrus lived and by another author, how could King Cyrus have read about it himself?

Perhaps this explains why Cyrus was so benevolent and so enthusiastic about releasing the Jews. After reading Isaiah’s prophecy, he realized that he was predestined to make this wondrous decision!

But how did Cyrus gain access to Isaiah’s prophecy? We don’t know the specifics, but we do know that King Cyrus knew the Prophet Daniel well. Daniel was well versed in Isaiah’s prophecies and probably owned a copy of Isaiah’s text. Daniel lived in Babylon. After Cyrus took Babylon and toppled the Babylonian Empire, Daniel became a high-ranking official in Cyrus’s Medo-Persian Empire.


All Hail King Cyrus

Take some time to really think on this, and to study Isaiah 44 and 45. The evidence is irrefutable.

First, it is obvious that Isaiah 44:28 and 45:1-4 are talking about King Cyrus. He is mentioned by name!

Next, consider Cyrus’s relationship with Jerusalem. Isaiah 44:28 records Cyrus “even saying to Jerusalem, Thou shalt be built; and to the temple, Thy foundation shall be laid.” The temple in Jerusalem hadn’t even been destroyed—and here was God prophesying that it would be rebuilt!

Verse 28 also explains the origins of Cyrus’s humanitarianism. Cyrus treated all his conquered peoples much the same way as he treated the Jews. Cyrus didn’t just allow the Jews to practice their religion: He released them from captivity, loaded them up with wealth and treasures, gave them letters of endorsement, and sent them home to rebuild the temple and Jerusalem!

The temple in Jerusalem hadn’t even been destroyed—and here was God prophesying that it would be rebuilt!
The temple in Jerusalem hadn’t even been destroyed—and here was God prophesying that it would be rebuilt!

Surely this is one of the greatest humanitarian acts in history.

And to think, it was prophesied to happen 150 years before it actually did!

Isaiah 45:1 says Cyrus would “subdue nations before him.” Study the history books: Cyrus conquered more than 15 different peoples—all the way from Egypt in the south to Turkey to Central Asia to the Indus River.

Verse 1 also says God would “loose the loins of kings” before Cyrus. The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary states: “The loose outer robe of the [kings], when girt fast around the loins, was the emblem of strength and preparedness for action; ungirt was indication of feebleness [and weakness].” This is a perfect description of Belshazzar the night of Babylon’s fall!

In addition, verse 1 says God would “open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut.” The history of Babylon’s destruction shows that the king of Babylon left some of the internal gates of the city open that night! “In the revelry in Babylon on the night of its capture, the inner gates, leading from the streets to the river, were left open … which, had they been kept shut, would have hemmed the invading hosts in the bed of the river, where the Babylonians could have easily destroyed them. Also, the gates of the palace were left open, so that there was access to every part of the city” (ibid).

Look how specific God is—even prophesying the exact gates that would be left open in Babylon the night of its capture!

In verse 2, God says, “I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron.” The strongest doors in Babylon were not able to withstand the army of Cyrus that night. Again, God prophesied the exact material that the gates of Babylon would be made of! Herodotus recorded that the gates of the inner walls were made of brass and some were reinforced with iron!

This is some of the most moving and powerful history you can study. Why? Because it proves the existence of God and the veracity of His Word!


God Reigns Supreme

Why would God prophesy the life and accomplishments of a Persian king 150 years before his birth? The answer to that question is the theme of Isaiah 44-46. In Isaiah 45:3, God says, “And I will give thee [Cyrus] the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the Lord, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.”

God makes the purpose of this prophecy abundantly clear: The life and work of King Cyrus prove the existence of God!

Cyrus himself understood this. “Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The Lord God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah” (Ezra 1:2). This great king knew God existed, and he knew that God reigns supreme in the world of man.

The history of Cyrus the Great is interesting and inspiring—but it is also much more. This history proves the authority of the Holy Bible! It shows that this Book of books is true and accurate. It shows that it is authored by an omnipotent God who can prophesy what He will do and bring it to pass!

For anyone willing to study and prove it, this history shows that the Holy Bible is the true Word of God!

190320-Businessman tie-iStock-969834268.jpg

Why ‘White Male Privilege’ Helps Nobody

We must acknowledge it in order to heal the nation, people say. They’re flat wrong.

Read More

Russia Outmaneuvers the United States in Syria

©iStock.com/Sergydv

Russia Outmaneuvers the United States in Syria

How President Obama’s redline debacle gave way to Putin’s adventurism in the Middle East.
From the November 2015 Trumpet Print Edition

For the first time since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russian forces are involved in a combat mission in the Middle East. Moscow says it is basically doing what the United States has sought to do there: destroy the powerful extremist terrorist entity that calls itself the Islamic State. Yet the facts on the ground indicate Russia’s real ambition: to replace the United States as the dominant power in the region.

Protecting an Ally

For over four years, a devastating civil war has raged within Syria, causing the greatest migration of people from a war zone since World War ii. It started when Syrian President Bashar Assad resisted the revolutionary fervor that swept other dictators from power across the Middle East in early 2011, putting down dissenters with overwhelming force.

At the time, Western nations—including the U.S., the main power broker in the Middle East since the late 1970s—called for Assad’s removal from office. A United Nations Security Council resolution was drafted in October 2011 calling for sanctions on Assad if he continued to kill his own people. Two permanent members of the Security Council—Russia and China—blocked the resolution.

It was a sign of things to come. At every turn in the four years since, Moscow has sought to subvert Washington’s efforts to remove Assad from Syria.


U.S. Played on Chemical Weapons

Following its unsuccessful bid for international sanctions on Syria in 2011, the U.S. continued to call for Assad to step down. Months dragged on, and it was clear that it would take more than American rhetoric to remove Assad.

The existence of large stockpiles of chemical weapons in Syria was well known to international agencies. U.S. officials believed Syria maintained about 1,000 tons of mustard gas, Sarin and VX nerve agents in its arsenal. In August 2012, President Barack Obama said Assad would cross a “redline” if he used chemical weapons on his own people—an implicit threat of force. This threat relieved many of America’s Mideast allies, especially the Gulf states; it indicated that after so many debacles in the region, the U.S. still had some backbone.

In August 2013, Assad did use chemical weapons on rebel-held areas on the outskirts of Damascus, killing hundreds of his own people. Graphic images of dead corpses circulated through the media. The redline was crossed. The U.S. would have to act.

Before any military action took place, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was asked by a reporter in London if there was anything the Assad regime could do to prevent an American attack. Seemingly off-hand, Kerry responded that if Assad “could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week,” that could do it.

With that comment, the Russian bear’s ears pricked up. In less than a week, Moscow approached the U.S. with a proposal to remove Assad’s chemical weapons. Not eager for military action, Washington embraced the idea and accepted the agreement—even while Russia stipulated that if Assad didn’t comply, there would still be no UN mandate for military action against him.

Secretary Kerry called the chemical weapons agreement with Russia “groundwork for more cooperation” between the former Cold War enemies. The event was sold as a great foreign-policy success for the Obama administration—a sign that the “reset” with Russia might actually have worked. In reality, Russia was simply acting to preserve its ally in the Middle East; removing the chemical weapons was just a distraction to keep Assad in power.

The redline that wasn’t a redline was a watershed moment for Russia’s geopolitical calculus in the Middle East. Russia now understood that America would rather face a major humiliation and loss of credibility among its allies and its enemies in order to get out of deploying its military against Assad—especially since that would jeopardize another key foreign-policy objective of the Obama administration: reconciliation with Iran.


Suleimani’s Surprise

With the redline in Syria largely forgotten, the rise of the vicious Islamic State diverted the world’s attention from Assad’s atrocities. Realizing Syria’s armed forces were stretched thin, Iran instructed Assad to pull back from Syria’s eastern border. This allowed the Islamic State to gobble up more territory. It also allowed Assad to devote more resources to battle the more immediate threat to the north, the “Syrian rebels.”

Supported financially and militarily by Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, rebel factions were having limited success at taking territory from the Syrian regime. Realizing Assad’s dire situation, Iran summoned Lebanon-based terrorist group Hezbollah to join the fight. This stemmed regime losses, but only for a time.

Moscow kept a close eye on the situation. Its only warm-water naval base, located on Syria’s Mediterranean coast, would be in jeopardy of falling to the rebels if Assad’s losses continued.

In April this year, Assad looked to be on his last legs. The regime controlled little over 20 percent of Syrian territory. The Kurds controlled the north, the Islamic State controlled the east, and the rebel factions were pushing west toward the Mediterranean Sea while knocking on Damascus’s back door.

Fearing it was about to lose its ally, Iran dispatched its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (irgc) Quds Force commander, Gen. Qassem Suleimani, to Syria in early June. In the months before, Suleimani—who reports directly to Iran’s ayatollah—was seen on the Iraqi battlefield leading Shiite militias in the fight against the Islamic State. During his few days in Syria, Suleimani announced that “the world will be surprised by what we and the Syrian military leadership are preparing for the coming days” (Al-Quds al-Arabi, June 2).

In late July, despite a United Nations travel ban imposed on the Iranian general for past terrorist activities, Suleimani visited Moscow and met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. While the U.S. State Department dithered on whether or not Suleimani broke the law, Iran and Russia were hatching a plan for Syria.

Syrian President Assad (left) visits Russian President Putin in Moscow on October 20.

Just days before, President Obama said Putin had called him and they had an encouraging talk about solving the Syrian crisis. Mr. Obama suggested that Moscow “could be enlisted in a diplomatic settlement to the Syrian civil war along lines Washington and its Arab allies support” (Washington Post, September 8). But within a week, Suleimani was in Moscow unrolling a large map of Syria, showing how a series of setbacks could be turned into victory—with Russian intervention, of course.

When Suleimani returned to Tehran, Iranian state media trumpeted that the meeting had concerned the sale of military hardware to Iran. Now we know that Suleimani’s visit was to plan Russia’s move into Syria to bolster its ailing ally.

Once again, the U.S. was hoodwinked.


Fighting the Islamic State?

As was the case with other recent Russian military interventions such as in Ukraine, in late August unconfirmed reports started to appear that Russian advisers had been spotted with Assad’s troops. At first, Russia denied having troops on the ground in Syria. But in early September, when satellite imagery captured a forward operating base in western Syria that was accommodating Russian fighters, helicopters and tanks—Russia had to come clean.

On September 28, President Putin used his first address to the United Nations in 10 years to call on the international community to stand behind Syria’s government for the sake of undermining the Islamic State.

However, a look at where Russian fighters have attacked so far indicates that Russia is going less after the Islamic State than it is the anti-Assad rebels. At the start of October, fewer than 10 percent of Russia’s missiles had struck the Islamic State or al Qaeda-affiliated targets, according to the U.S. State Department. “It’s clear that Russia’s strategy in Syria is to make the conflict binary by giving Syrians only two choices: Assad or isis,” said John Schinder, former U.S. intelligence analyst (Daily Beast, October 8).

What’s worse, many of those rebel groups are backed by the U.S. It’s a common sight on the Syrian battlefield today to see American-made antitank missiles being fired by cia-approved rebel factions against Russian-built Soviet tanks.

Then there are reports of American fighters being approached by Russian jets over Syrian skies. On October 20, U.S. pilots were warned by their top commanders not to react to any Russian military planes. This is just another sign of Russia’s brazen confidence, knowing America will avoid conflict at all costs.

Four years ago, the U.S. said “Assad must go.” Ever since, Russia has outmaneuvered the U.S., to where Washington is now “flexible on the timetable” for Assad’s departure. How long before America completely abandons its position and agrees with Putin that it would be best for Syria if Assad remained in power?

In the Syrian battle of wills, Russia has beaten the U.S. Whether or not Putin decides to stay in the Middle East does not really matter: The damage to American prestige is done. American power no longer dominates the Middle East.

America’s traditional allies in the Gulf, as well as Israel, are taking notice and will have to look elsewhere for the protection once guaranteed by America.


A Surprise for Putin

Through all the gamesmanship between the U.S. and Russia, one more non-Mideast power stands to be affected by the situation in Syria: Europe.

Europe is trying to decide what to do with the hundreds of thousands of Syrian migrants that have arrived at its borders. However, many realize that solutions will fall short unless something is done at the main source: Syria.

Earlier this year, Europe, like the U.S., was hoping that a change in the Syrian regime was near. Now, with Russia’s intervention, European hopes have been dashed. And undoubtedly, Russia isn’t too disturbed by how the immigration crisis will weaken Europe.

As it stands now, Europe is not united enough, strong enough, and does not have enough political will to confront Russia in Syria. Indeed, Europe is barely able to form a united front against Russia in the European border nation of Ukraine.

But while most commentators will scoff at the idea of European intervention in Syria—especially now that Russia is there, and the U.S., its nato ally, is weakened—Bible prophecy says that is exactly what will happen.

Putin’s power play in Syria will not last but, in fact, will be short-lived. According to a prophecy found in Psalm 83, the Syrian people won’t look to Russia as an ally, nor to Iran. Ultimately they will look to a German-led Europe!

That is when you will really begin to see power exerted over the Middle East.

New Cover .jpg

Are You Observing the Right Day of Worship?

Most Christians have never studied why Sunday is their day of worship. If you are one of them, you are denying yourself special blessings from God!

Read More

A New Global Arms Race

©iStock.com/edstock

A New Global Arms Race

The world is becoming a more dangerous place, and the blame largely rests with America.
From the November 2015 Trumpet Print Edition

Is the world more dangerous than ever before? You might read a columnist or hear a presidential candidate make the assertion that it is. But how do you prove the truth of it? One trend that gives a good indication is military spending.

In 2011, the world was spending nearly as much on its military as it was at the height of World War ii. We have remained around that historic peak in the years since. Even adjusted for inflation, the world is spending more than at any other time in history—during the Cold War, World War i or any other time.

It would be simplistic to say that the more money we spend on weapons, the more dangerous our world is. It also matters who is spending it. And when you look at those facts, the picture becomes even more disturbing.

Europe

Last year, Russia increased its defense budget by 8 percent; this year, it has said it wants to raise it by 15 percent. This move by Russia has prompted some dramatic jumps in European military spending.

Latvia is boosting its spending by 15 percent; Lithuania, by 50 percent. Ukraine, still warring with pro-Russian separatists—and even Russian forces—is expected to double its military spending this year.

Further west, the increases are also dramatic. Poland pledged to spend an extra $38 billion between 2013 and 2022. This year, France promised a $7 billion increase by 2019. Sweden says it will spend an extra billion. Norway and the Netherlands both announced increases in the hundreds of millions.

The most important thing about these statistics is not the numbers themselves, but the direction of the trend. For years, Europe’s militaries have been shrinking. Not anymore.

“These decisions present fundamental revisions of long-standing military spending practices in most of the countries that saw their defense budgets in more or less constant decline since the end of the Cold War,” wrote the Royal United Services Institute, a UK-based think tank. “The recent developments might therefore be regarded as being indicative of a substantial change in the countries’ defense discourse both at the political level and within the broader public debate” (May 1).

The most significant example of this is Germany.

Last year, several news outlets, including the Trumpet, noted that some German leaders were talking about increasing the defense budget. Just the fact that people were talking this way was news—for years, the goal had been to cut the budget.

At first, former Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg was one of the only high-profile people calling for an increase in military spending. “It is appalling that Germany recently decided to cut military spending by about €800 million (us$1.05 billion) in 2015,” he wrote in the Wall Street Journal in September 2014.

Soon after, others started joining him. The New York Times wrote that in response to the German military stumbling in operations in Iraq and Africa, German politicians were “pondering aloud the possible revision of what has long been a political no-go: raising the budget for defense spending” (Sept. 29, 2014). German defense expert Thomas Wiegold said, “Now I am being asked whether we should spend more money. That has never happened before” (ibid).

This year, the spending has begun. In March, Germany announced an €8 billion (us$9.1 billion) boost in military spending. That’s an increase of 6.2 percent. Such an increase went from unthinkable, to unpopular, to becoming reality—in around a year.

Now some Germans are calling for even more. The outgoing German Army chief of staff, for example, has called for an increase in spending of around $23 billion. The new parliamentary ombudsman for the armed forces, Hans-Peter Bartel, has called for billions more to be spent.

Middle East

We see the same trend in the Middle East. There the main driver of this growth is Iran. In this year’s budget, Iran raised its defense spending by 30 percent, and the recently concluded nuclear deal could open the door to even bigger increases.

“The limits to Iran’s military expenditures have been a matter of necessity more than intent, and this necessity has been as much a result of international pressure and sanctions as the limits imposed by Iran’s gdp and its need to support a large native population,” the U.S.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies wrote in an April 28 report. “… Iran has been subject to slowly growing and now crippling sanctions, leading to a devalued currency, significant reductions in oil exports, trade disruptions, higher inflation, and a shrinking economy ….” In other words, Iran wants to spend even more on its military, and the main thing holding it back has been the sanctions. Once those are gone, that spending is sure to rise even more.

The American Action Forum crunched some numbers and concluded that extra income made available to Iran by the deal would mean that its defense budget would rise by $10 billion to $15 billion. The group notes, “Nothing in the deal would prevent Iran from spending more than that to fund their military or terrorist organizations and authoritarian regimes throughout the Middle East” (August 5).

This jump is having a big impact across the region, most dramatically in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia is the world’s fourth-largest military spender. And its spending has exploded. Over just the past 10 years, it has more than doubled its military expenditure. In 2014, it rose 17 percent, the largest increase in any of the world’s big spenders.

The Saudis are set to boost their defense budget by another 27 percent over the next five years, according to ihs Jane’s Aerospace, Defense and Security. The United Arab Emirates and Qatar are also planning to up their spending. Qatari officials announced $23 billion worth of potential deals last year, in what ihs Jane’s called an “unprecedented increase in investment in the military” (June 1).

The Financial Times noted that these countries are all “seeking more advanced weaponry from the U.S. to counter what [they fear] could be an emboldened Iran” (June 2).

Over the summer, the Pentagon disclosed that Saudi Arabia wants to spend $5.5 billion on advanced Patriot missile launchers. If it follows through, it will wield enormous power in the skies above the Persian Gulf. Saudi Arabia was recently forced to announce cuts to government spending because of low oil prices. But even though defense spending is one third of its budget, it is not cutting that. Economic realities may still curb some of the Saudis’ ambitions, but they are placing a higher priority than ever on the military.

All these figures refer only to conventional military spending; they do not include nuclear weapons. As nations throughout the region are well aware, the Iran deal will allow Iran to get a bomb. Tehran can break the deal and rush for one now, or stick to the deal and get one legally in just a few years. This raises the specter of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

The Saudis’ desire for a bomb of their own has been well documented. In May, the Sunday Times quoted an American intelligence official as saying, “We know this stuff is available to them off the shelf.” As to whether the Saudis had decided to become a nuclear power, the official responded, “That has to be the assumption.” The Times also quoted Prince Turki bin Faisal, the former Saudi intelligence chief and ambassador to London and Washington, declaring, “Whatever the Iranians have, we will have, too.”

This trend is much harder to get concrete, reliable information on. The Saudis won’t be publishing regular updates on their progress toward a bomb. But in June they did sign an agreement with Russia for civilian nuclear power development.

Related to this region is Africa, with North Africa closely connected to events in the Middle East. Here, in 2014, military spending was up 6 percent, with Algeria and Angola leading that increase.

Asia

In Asia, military spending has undergone some major shifts in the past few decades. Since 2005, it has risen 62 percent. From 2013 to 2014, it rose 5 percent.

In February 2014, consulting firm McKinsey & Company published a report, “Southeast Asia: The Next Growth Opportunity in Defense.” It said, “[A] profound shift in economic power is reshaping the global landscape of defense spending. For the first time in more than two centuries—since the start of the Industrial Revolution—the majority of the world’s economic growth took place in the developing world, driven in large part by China, India and other emerging economies.

“Emerging markets are now spending more on defense than ever before. Countries such as China, Brazil and India have doubled or even tripled their defense spending during the past two decades. Southeast Asia—Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam—is now among the top defense spenders globally. These countries have collectively doubled their military spending between 1992 and 2012.”

Chinese Type 99A battle tanks participate in a military parade at Tienanmen Square.

China is the world’s second-largest military spender. In 2014, it is estimated to have spent $216 billion on its military, an increase of about 10 percent over previous years. As the McKinsey report notes, this trend began decades ago. But there is also the much more recent trend from China: its island grabbing and island building in the South China Sea.

In May, cnbc published an article titled “Asia Defense Spending: New Arms Race in South China Sea,” which said, “The Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Taiwan are beefing up their military in the face of increasingly bold incursions in the region by China. But most of that spending is not going to weapons makers in the United States.” The statistics back up cnbc’s claims.

Over the next year, Asia’s major powers are planning bigger defense increases. China plans to increase its spending by 10 percent. India is planning an 11 percent jump. At the start of this year, Japan approved its largest ever defense budget, at around $42 billion—the third straight year of increase. ihs Jane’s forecasts that the Philippines will double its spending by 2021.

Why Now?

This is the reality of national defense in 2015: an arms race in Eastern Europe, an arms race in the Middle East, and an arms race in Asia. Why? And why now? Why is Saudi Arabia buying up arms out of fear of Iran at exactly the same time that Poland is buying up arms out of fear of Russia? At first glance, these arms races are unconnected.

The answer to this question emerges as we consider the major power we have not looked at so far: the United States.

Here is the telling exception to the increased spending trend. In 2014, America cut its spending by 6.5 percent ($40 billion). From 2010 to 2014, America’s defense spending fell 20 percent. By the end of this year, it is expected to drop even further.

The statistics clearly show the world is entering a new era. “The projected shift in global spending figures highlights the departure from the age where one country—the United States—spent almost as much as the rest of the world combined and enjoyed a historically unique level of conventional military dominance,” explained ihs Jane’s. “Now, however, the international system is shifting to equilibrium, under which one single state does not so massively tip the scales in its own favor” (June 25, 2014).

“By 2019, for the first time in history, nato will not account for the majority of worldwide defense expenditure, having accounted for almost two thirds of global spending as recently as 2010,” it also wrote (Dec. 18, 2014).

This dramatic shift away from America’s super-dominant military spending points to the common reason behind the jump in arms spending everywhere else. America is retreating. Its allies don’t trust it. More aggressive nations around the world are becoming emboldened.

Take Europe. Russia has been acting aggressively for some time. In 2008, it invaded Georgia. This invasion, however, did not prompt an explosion in defense spending from other nations. Eastern Europeans were scared, but instead of spending more, they turned to America for help. They asked America to station missiles on their territory. These permanent bases would help guarantee that America would come to their aid if they were attacked.

America has since backed away from those missile bases. It has consistently refused to stand up to Russia. Moscow recognized this as an invitation to act even more boldly. So now, it is spending more and becoming more aggressive. At the same time, Europe got the message that it cannot depend on America. After Russia invaded Ukraine, European nations looked to European planes, tanks and troops—not American ones.

The story is the same in the Middle East. America has never done enough to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear bomb; however, by negotiating the nuclear deal this past year, it essentially made a public declaration that it will never stand up to Iran. Unsurprisingly then, Iran has become more aggressive, and Saudi Arabia and other states have concluded that they cannot trust America and had better prepare themselves for war.

This storyline is also playing out in Asia. The Chinese have watched how America dealt with Russia and with Iran and concluded that they can act aggressively without fear of America standing up to them. Other Asian nations are concluding that they cannot rely on America.

These three global arms races and the instability they are bringing are all directly caused by America’s retreat from policing the rest of the world.

This points to the most worrying aspect of the decline in America’s military spending. It is not that America needs to spend more to maintain its position as the world’s dominant military power. It does not. Even with the recent cuts, it spends more on its military than the EU, China and Russia combined.

It’s not about the money—it is about America’s attitude and outlook. America’s cuts in spending are worrying because they are a symptom of a much deeper problem: In a dangerous new bout of isolationism, America is retreating from the world.

For the last two centuries, Britain and America have been a significant stabilizing force in the world. The spikes on history’s graph of global arms spending demonstrate this: British might and then American might were deployed to oppose the tyranny of Kaiser Wilhelm, Adolf Hitler, communism and radical Islam. In the latter case, much of the effort has been wasted. But history shows that these two powers have resisted civilization’s deadliest enemies.

America, however, is once again turning inward, in the same way Britain did before World War i and before and after World War ii. The Americans are done intervening.

“The world is at its most peaceful when great powers are under no illusions as to where they stand in the global pecking order,” wrote British historian Andrew Roberts in his book A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900.

America’s retreat has some nations thinking that now is their chance for a shot at the top spot. Others see the instability on the horizon and are preparing for it. But Britain and America do not care. The world is no longer their concern.

The post-Cold War era, and even post-9/11 era—characterized by what some have called American hyperpower—has come to an end. Not because the Americans aren’t spending hundreds of billions on their military, but because their will to lead and their will to fight is broken. This global outbreak of military spending is part of the rise of a new multipolar world, where power is not so concentrated with the United States.

Historically, the rise of Britain and America led to a lengthy era of relative peace. That era is ending right now. To understand why, read our free book The United States and Britain in Prophecy by Herbert W. Armstrong.

Cover - JAG - ColorizediStock-183049532.jpg

‘And the Sun Stood Still’

Was the miracle of Joshua’s long day just an eclipse?

Read More

The Holy City’s Child Terrorists

From the November 2015 Trumpet Print Edition

October 12 was a normal day for a 13-year-old boy in Jerusalem as he got on his bicycle for a ride through his neighborhood of Pisgat Zeev. Then, suddenly, two people rushed up and began to stab him.

This was the third knife attack of the day around the Holy City, and the 22nd over a span of 13 days. But the most startling fact was the age of the child’s would-be murderers: two Arab cousins, just 13 and 15.

Police confronted the 15-year-old, who was still holding the machete. He charged, and was fatally shot. The 13-year-old was hit by a car. As he lay on the pavement, squirming in blood, paramedics tried to save his young life. An Israeli passerby videoing the boy shouted, “Die! Die! You son of a whore!”

How has it come to this? Why are two children who should be doing homework or chores attempting murder instead? How much more saturated in hatred can Jerusalem get?

[I]mpressionable young Palestinians have been persuaded that their [g]od requires them to kill, and if necessary be killed, to %u2018protect al-Aqsa.%u2019
Daniel Horovitz, Times of Israel

What motivated these children to kill? Was it their parents, absorbed in Palestinian media that distorts events and demonizes Israelis? Was it propaganda in their schools? Was it the children’s television program with the Mickey Mouse-like character who praises “martyrdom”? Was it the Facebook and Twitter images vilifying Jews and glorifying their murderous “martyrs”? Was it the religious establishment implying, or stating, that “protecting al-Aqsa” means killing 13-year-olds?

Most likely, it was the accumulation of all these influences. This shocking attack reveals something larger: A whole generation of young Palestinians is saturated in hate.

But what about the Israeli who saw a heap of quivering, broken flesh crumpled on the street and shouted at him to die? His outrage is understandable. But his reaction reveals that he too carries a terrible hatred.

Will “peace in the Middle East” ever be more than a cliché? Isn’t this problem beyond the ability of clever politicians to solve?

Don’t we need a healing of minds in the Middle East?

NEW 2- ARM001-20.jpg

God’s Miraculous Work and a Wonder

God wants your life to be full of wonder! This will energize and greatly motivate you. Here is how you can achieve it.

Read More

Why Jerusalem Is Bleeding

Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images

Why Jerusalem Is Bleeding

The recent rash of horrific attacks by Palestinians in Israel is not leading to an independent state—it is leading to Jerusalem being cut in half.
From the November 2015 Trumpet Print Edition

You may—or may not—have heard vague reports of more violence breaking out between Palestinians and Jews. But look in detail at the list of attacks and reprisals, just in the first half of October, and it is horrifying.

A husband and wife are shot to death in their car by Palestinians, dying in front of their four children, ages 9, 7, 4 and 4 months. Two men on their way to worship in Jerusalem’s Old City are murdered, and a wife and 2-year-old child are wounded by a knife-wielding Palestinian law student. Palestinians in Gaza fire rockets at Israeli civilians. A young Palestinian man stabs an elderly Israeli woman as she boards a bus. A Palestinian driver rams his car into a bus stop and sends bodies flying, then gets out and hacks a victim with a knife. Two Palestinians board a bus and begin stabbing and shooting passengers, murdering one. Palestinian arsonists attack cars and buildings. Rioters attack police and soldiers.

In mid-October, the day-in, day-out list of Palestinian homicidal and arsonist attacks grew almost every single day.

Volunteers clean up the scene of a bus attack in Jerusalem on October 13.

Palestinian leaders actually encourage these attacks in order to advance their agenda, whipping up violent fervor with lies about “dirty” Israelis planning to allow Jews to pray on the Temple Mount or to just take it over, depending on whom you believe. Then they praise those who have tried to or succeeded in murdering Jews. They even branded it: a “Day of Rage.” Palestinian leaders want their people to go berserk with racist violence.

Meanwhile, one wonders if we are just a “Day of Rage” or two away from another bloody intifada, where Palestinians go all-out and strap explosives and ball bearings to themselves, then search out people on buses or families at cafés that they can murder en masse.


American Response

The nation with the world’s largest economy, military and, formerly, political influence has an opportunity to help. What does it do? The United States Department of State responded to these terrorist attacks on Israeli citizens with this: “We remain deeply concerned about escalating tensions and urge all sides to take affirmative steps to restore calm and prevent actions that would further escalate tensions.” In other words, the Palestinians must tone down the violence—and so must the Jews!

Associated Press reporter Matt Lee noticed the State Department’s veiled condemnation of Israel. He quizzed State Department spokesman Mark Toner about it: “Does the [Obama] administration believe that Israel is inciting or not condemning violence?”

“[W]hat we’ve been very clear about saying is that we want to see both sides take affirmative steps, affirmative actions that reduce tensions in the region,” Toner said. He acknowledged the horrific attacks against Israelis but added, “[W]e’ve seen also attacks on Palestinians, [investigations for which] remain ongoing.”

Yes, outraged Israeli settlers have burned olive trees and beaten Palestinians. Yes, Palestinian bystanders have been killed as Israeli police, troops and airmen have conducted raids and strikes against Palestinian terrorists (who not only target Jewish civilians, but also hide among and behind Palestinian civilians). But why is the State Department equating that with a man who plows his car into people at a bus stop, or a child who stabs away at another child, or terrorists who aim their rockets at civilian areas, or murderers who shoot unsuspecting parents to death in front of their young children?

Lee then asked what the United States expects from the Israelis to reduce the violence in Israel. Toner responded that they should “[uphold] the status quo in Haram al-Sharif and [the] Temple Mount.” That is exactly what the Israelis have been doing for decades. By emphasizing it, the State Department was responding to, legitimizing and perpetuating a lie from Arab propaganda: that Jews are plotting to desecrate Muslim holy sites and to blow up mosques.

Chief among those Arab propagandists is Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. He lied before the United Nations General Assembly about Israel sending Jewish extremists into the al-Aqsa Mosque and said this on September 16 during a speech on Palestinian tv: “[W]e bless every drop of blood spilled for Jerusalem. With the help of Allah, every martyr will be in heaven. … Al-Aqsa is ours and so is the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. [Jews] have no right to desecrate them with their filthy feet. We will not allow them to, and we will do everything in our power to protect Jerusalem.”

Israel has consistently upheld a decades-old policy of protecting and preserving all holy sites in Israel—whether they are Jewish, Christian or Muslim. Contrary to insinuations by the State Department (not to mention Palestinian terrorists), Israel has upheld that status quo since 1967, when it took control of East Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.

But that fact is lost on—or ignored by—the Obama administration. Secretary of State John Kerry similarly attributed the violence in Jerusalem to Israeli policies, saying, “[U]nless we get going, a two-state solution could conceivably be stolen from everybody. [T]here’s been a massive increase in settlements over the course of the last years. Now you have this violence because there’s a frustration that is growing ….”

Secretary Kerry would have you believe that Palestinians are lashing out in violent terrorist acts because they are frustrated at the stalled peace process! They just want a state so they can live peacefully alongside Israel.

Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement is more in line with the visible, horrifying facts. “Terror,” he said, “comes from the desire to annihilate us.”

Commentary’s Jonathan Tobin wrote, “While the narrative about this latest outbreak of violence from critics of Israel is that it is all about the sins of the ‘occupation’ and Israel denying hope to the Palestinians, what we are hearing from them is a very different story. Read any of the accounts of the motivations of the people going into the streets to stab random Jews they encounter or the mobs in the West Bank who are seeking to set off confrontations with Israeli troops, and you don’t hear much about frustration about the peace process. … What you do see are accounts of Muslim religious fervor that is drenched in the fever of martyrdom and faith-based hate” (October 12).

The Palestinians themselves have called this uprising the “hibat al-Quds”—the “Jerusalem awakening.” The terror is coming as a response to a false conspiracy about a Jewish takeover of Muslim holy sites. At its core, it is a religious war based on hatred of the Jews!


Jewish Lives Matter

International coverage has been muted if not outright biased. It has primarily focused on the number of deaths on either side of the conflict, or on the “disproportionate” Israeli response. But what proportion do you use, exactly, when people are inspiring their children to pick up a knife and go after your children?

Even after 150 terrorist attacks within 48 hours, “somehow the international community is silent in the face of this terror onslaught against my people,” Arsen Ostrovsky, a Jewish human rights lawyer, wrote. “Is our blood cheaper? Do Jewish lives not matter? Let there be no mistakes, ifs, buts or maybes. We are being targeted for one reason and one reason only: We are Jews” (Telegraph, October 9).

Can anyone argue that he’s wrong?

Like every other race, the Jewish race matters. Yet it has suffered unusually virulent hatred perhaps more than any other. Why have the Jews been hated for centuries—in the Middle Ages, at the hands of the Catholic Church, by the Spanish, by the Russians, by the Arabs, even by many Americans and British. Why did Nazi Germany operate an enormous machine solely to murder Jews?”Where is all of this hate coming from?” Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry asks in his booklet The Key of David. “A thinking person has to wonder! We know the Jews, like all humans, have helped to create some of their own problems. But we must see that there is something deeper behind anti-Semitism.”

Do Jewish lives not matter? We are being targeted for one reason and one reason only: We are Jews.
Arsen Ostrovsky

God is not a respecter of persons or races (Romans 2:10-11; Acts 10:34). But the Bible clearly reveals that God chose a race of people and gave them a job to do. Prominent among those people are the Jews. God is using the Jews (Romans 2:28-29). Not to give them special, unfair favors, but to benefit all of mankind. That booklet explains how (and we will gladly send you a free copy upon request).

Who would hate something like that? The very real, very active Satan the devil.

Wouldn’t you describe a 13-year-old Palestinian trying to murder another 13-year-old simply because he is Jewish as satanic?

Satan hates God, hates His plan, and hates the people He commissioned. He inspires anti-Semitism. And he wants that hatred to explode.


Jewish Response

Following the October attacks, Israeli civilians began purchasing stun guns, clubs and every available can of pepper spray. They enrolled in classes to learn military-style hand-to-hand combat. Jerusalem’s mayor called for gun-permit holders to carry guns in order to hopefully deter future attempted homicides.

Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics says the country now has a shortage of private security guards because of increased demand. And those guards are now officially approved by the Economy Ministry to work overtime.

The Israeli government has put more police and soldiers onto the streets. It has deployed soldiers to Jerusalem, a very rare occurrence. It has taken the major step of setting up checkpoints in East Jerusalem and reportedly may close those routes completely. Soldiers are guarding buses. Troops are on the streets. Palestinian areas are being partially blocked off.

What is this leading to?

The Israelis don’t know. The Palestinians don’t know. The media don’t know. But the Bible reveals where this is heading. We are about to see Jerusalem split down ethnic lines between east and west! These are the early stages of that division.

The more you scrutinize Bible prophecy, the more you realize how timely and accurate it is about the situation in Jerusalem.

The violent trend we see today is leading to the fulfillment of a critical and surprisingly specific prophecy in Zechariah 14:1-2: “Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.”

The Trumpet has publicized this prophesied development for years. When there were flare-ups between Israel and Hezbollah in the north, and then between Gaza and Israel in the south, Gerald Flurry explained that the West Bank would be next, and finally, Jerusalem. “We will see [the] prophecy in Zechariah 14:1-2 fulfilled very soon,” his booklet Jerusalem in Prophecy explains.

Studying that prophecy in combination with several others, you see that this event will plunge the Jewish state and many other nations into a crisis more horrifying than the Holocaust. It will be a tragic period when Jewish lives won’t matter.

But there is hope for Jerusalem. While the time ahead “will involve some sickening atrocities and bloodshed,” that booklet continues, “it is directly connected to the greatest news this world has ever heard!” In the same way that the Bible was right about the events we see exploding in Israel, the Bible is right that they are leading to the return of Jesus Christ to Earth—to Jerusalem!

Christ will end the days of people viewing those of another race with hatred and contempt. Because of Christ’s coming rule—and only because of that—the “Days of Rage” in Jerusalem are about to become days of peace.

NEw cover - Untitled-1.jpg

The Inspiring Truth Abortionists Should Know

It’s a fundamental question of what a human life is worth.

Read More

Is It Too Dangerous to Send Your Kid to College?

Melissa Barreiro/The Trumpet

Is It Too Dangerous to Send Your Kid to College?

Parents are relieved when they get their child through high school and into college. But is campus living safe?
From the November 2015 Trumpet Print Edition

What type of environment do you picture college to be? Especially if you are planning to send your child to one, you need to make sure that picture matches reality.

Of the 52 school shootings that took place in 2015 before mid-October, 21 occurred at colleges and universities. The bloodiest took place at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, on October 1. The statistics are chilling: nine people murdered at point blank range; nine others seriously injured. The shooter, also a student, committed suicide. This was the first campus mass shooting to take place in one classroom.

Attending her first week of college, Sarah Cobb, 17, was in the classroom next to the murders. Familiar with hunting, she fully understood what was happening inside the classroom next to hers. She ran through the rest of the building telling others to run from the tragic trouble. “I don’t even know what to think,” she said when asked about surviving the mass shooting. “I’m terrified. I don’t want to go back there for a long time.”

No one living in Roseburg would have believed that something so devastating could happen in their community. But it did!

Within days of the Umpqua killings, two more campus shootings took place. The shooting at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff left one freshman dead and three other young students injured. At Texas Southern University in Houston, two students were shot, one fatally.

Mass shootings at college campuses make big news. However, there are other life-threatening risks your teen must escape to survive college. Here are several that you should be preparing your son or daughter to avoid.


Binge Drinking

College students have come to believe that partying, which often means excessive drinking and dangerous drugs, is an essential part of their higher-education experience. The Princeton Review publishes an annual list of the top party schools in America based on student surveys.

College administrators are not thrilled to have their institution win the top spot. Why? Each year, an estimated 1,825 college students die from alcohol poisoning and alcohol-related injuries; the majority are freshmen. The number one cause is binge drinking. Besides the deaths from alcohol abuse, another 590,000 students are injured each year from alcohol-related accidents, including automobile wrecks and falls from high-elevation balconies.

While some new college students are experienced with drinking alcohol, many are not. It is the young freshman who refrained from alcohol and drug use in high school who is the most vulnerable to the peer pressure to party up. “At least eight freshmen at U.S. colleges have died the first few weeks of this school year,” reported Inside Higher Ed in September 2014. At Texas Tech University, a freshman died of alcohol poisoning at a fraternity party 24 hours before his first day at school. At Michigan State University, an international student died after a night of drinking during the university’s “move-in weekend.” At Towson University, a freshman died after falling into a glass door at a party. These were terrible tragedies for the families, friends, college administrators and other students.

Each year, an estimated 1,825 college students die from alcohol poisoning and alcohol-related injuries.

American colleges and universities tout themselves as bastions of personal freedom for young college students. They can be overwhelming places for students who lived a structured and safe life at home. There is only so much that college or university administrators can say or do to warn your child. All wise parents need to make time to educate their college student about the choices he will be forced to make while living on his own.


Rape and Sexual Assault

At many college parties, illegal drugs are often consumed with alcohol. Besides being potentially fatal, experts know that drug abuse is a main factor leading to college campus rape and sexual assault. “The majority of safety-related incidents … occur when students are under the influence,” warns Connors State College’s eight-page student safety manual. “Many victims and perpetrators of sexual assault are under the influence when an incident occurs. Make smart choices so that your judgment and your safety aren’t compromised by alcohol or other drug abuse.”

The manual makes a few more statements about the dangers of mixing “legal” prescription drugs with alcohol, showing that such behavior often leads to overdose, which can also lead to death. Then, regarding the most dangerous illegal drugs in use on college campuses, the manual says, “If you choose to take Ecstasy, ghb, Special K, lsd, Meth or another drug, you may not know what’s mixed into it. … [I]t can do a number on your body and brain.” College administrators take it for granted that students are regularly using harmful illegal drugs.

Honest administrators know they can do little to stop illegal drug use. The decision to use or not use a harmful illegal drug lies squarely on the shoulders of your child—well, almost. The drug Ecstasy is tasteless and is often slipped into a person’s drink unknowingly. If you send your son or daughter to college, educate them about date-rape drugs. Recognize that both female and male college students are victims of sexual assault and rape.


Consider This

It is estimated that there are more than 1,000 suicides on American college campuses per year. Experts attribute student stress over the need to achieve to be the leading factor of suicide.

Educators and parents put a lot of pressure on students to be the best and the brightest. In some colleges and universities, the competition to be the best is vicious. At most colleges and universities, academic achievement is all that matters—although “liberating” yourself sexually, narcotically and intellectually would be a close second.

So, what is the real source of all the life-threatening, personally injurious problems taking place on our college campuses? Few would suspect that it could be our education system. But modern education has done little to solve the world’s problems that are ever growing worse. And we are seeing some very ugly sides to what are supposed to be enlightened centers of learning.

Something is missing in our education system. You can see it in the materialistic emphasis. You can see it in the prevalence of drug use and the epidemic of rape. The missing dimension is instruction in character—how to live the right way: morally, cleanly, at peace with others. This is the greatest danger on college and university campuses. Our lofty educational institutions fail to teach our young people about God and the productive, successful life that can only be gained by living by His Ten Commandments. These eternal laws teach young people how to make right choices in life (Deuteronomy 30:19).

There is a way you can protect your college-age student from the dangers of campus life. Provide him with right education. Please request a free to you copy of our booklet Education With Vision. It is one of the best sources you can read to help your child attain life-building academic success.