WorldWatch

From the March 2017 Trumpet Print Edition

Europe’s satellite navigation system goes live

Europe’s satellite navigation system, Galileo, went live on Dec. 15, 2016. The project is a result of the European Union’s effort to become independent of American satellites and is a step toward it joining the United States and Russia as the only powers to field their own satellite navigation systems.

The milestone comes as the EU makes the military uses of its space program more public.

Satellite navigation is far beyond a simple convenience for travelers. Automated mining, agricultural and other vehicles rely on these systems, and from construction to archaeology and beyond, more uses for the technology are being found.

But the most crucial use for satellite navigation is within modern militaries. The technology is used to track friendly and enemy forces and to guide smart munitions to their targets. This is why just about every major power is working on its own system.

Independence from America has been at the heart of Europe’s efforts from the start. In 2001, French President Jacques Chirac said that without Galileo, EU nations would become “vassals” to America. In 2002, a European Commission report noted that “Galileo will underpin the common European defense policy that the member states have decided to establish.” It said Europe wanted to put “an end to a situation of dependence.”

“If the EU finds it necessary to undertake a security mission that the U.S. does not consider to be in its interest, it will be impotent unless it has the satellite navigation technology that is now indispensable,” the report said. “Although designed primarily for civilian applications, Galileo will also give the EU a military capability.”

The system now has 18 satellites. It needs 24 to become fully operational. It will launch eight more in 2017 and 2018, and is scheduled to field a total of 30, including six backups.

The EU has emphasized that its system is a civilian project, unlike the Russian and American systems. But for all practical purposes, they are the same. Galileo is configured so access can be restricted to European military personnel and emergency services only.

On October 26, the EU released its first-ever space-policy document, which highlights the military importance of its efforts, noting, “Space is also of strategic importance for Europe. It reinforces Europe’s role as a stronger global player and is an asset for its security and defense.” The document states that EU space programs will consider “additional services” to help meet “emerging needs” in Europe’s “security and defense.”

Another major project of Europe’s space program is Copernicus. It was originally touted as a tool to support “environmental security.” But the EU has tweaked the wording so its purpose now is to support “the environment and security.”

The European Parliament’s stated military purposes for the system include “border monitoring outside the EU” and “EU peacekeeping operations”—in other words, European military operations. “It’s already abundantly clear that the system will also be used for military operations and surveillance purposes,” said former EU chief scientific adviser Anne Glover.

The new policy document promised to “assess further the potential” of Galileo and Copernicus to “meet EU autonomy and security needs.”

Watch for Europe to continue breaking free of its military dependence on America.

France calls for more German militarism

Germany must become more powerful militarily, said a top presidential candidate in France. Center-right politician François Fillon said the Christmas market attack in Berlin and the election of Donald Trump show that Germany can no longer play the role of a “pacifist.”

Fillon said he wants to “remobilize the European Union around strategic priorities: our collective security, defense, innovation and the retightening of the eurozone.” Though he has disagreements with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Fillon agrees Germany and France must form the core of a tighter EU in which Germany assumes more responsibility.

Such talk has become a common French request. France is trying to control government spending while sustaining major overseas deployments against Islamic terrorism. One way to square that circle is to get Germany’s help with the fighting.

Former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer made a similar call in an article published on January 5. Like Fillon, Fischer believes that “it will fall to its two largest and economically strongest countries, France and Germany, to bolster Europe’s defense.” He notes how a military cooperation once considered impossible is now forging ahead. Fischer concluded: “The old EU developed into an economic power because it was protected beneath the U.S. security umbrella. But without this guarantee, it can address its current geopolitical realities only by developing its own capacity to project political and military power. Six decades after the Treaty of Rome established the European Economic Community, history and current developments are pushing France and Germany to shape Europe’s future once again.”

Austrian cardinal: ‘We can’t accommodate all refugees’

Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, archbishop of Vienna, admitted on Austrian television that he was rethinking his stance on the migrant crisis. During a discussion with Protestant Bishop Michael Bünker, the archbishop said an “unbelievable number” of migrants are causing a “feeling of overcrowding” in Austrian society. He pointed to the rise of the anti-immigrant Austrian Freedom Party as a sign that the “country is worried” and said he is no longer convinced that Austria should accept all refugees.

The cardinal stated that Europe needs to develop a common strategy to support nations in Africa and the Middle East so migrants can live peaceably in their own land. In the December 23 discussion, Schönborn said, “Sure, in the beginning, I also said, with [German Chancellor] Angela Merkel: ‘We can do it!’ And many important experts in Austria said, ‘We can do it!’… We then realized that there is another dimension, and we need common European plans; we need more help on the ground. In the meantime, I believe this is clear: We cannot accommodate all refugees. We must first see that they can find and live in their homeland again” (Trumpet translation).

Bünker agreed with Schönborn and added that terrorism was both a cause and consequence of the migrant crisis.

While Schönborn and Bünker were vague about what steps Europeans should take to enable migrants to “live in their homeland again,” they agreed that the long-term solution to the migrant crisis was a united EU response to the turmoil in Africa and the Middle East.

Last September, Schönborn spoke on the 333rd anniversary of the Battle of Vienna, when a Habsburg emperor defended the city from an invasion of Ottoman Turks. He used the occasion to warn about “a third attempt at an Islamic conquest of Europe” if Europeans don’t return to their “Christian heritage.”

Schönborn and Bünker highlighted the need for Europe to deal with the problem of radical Islamic terrorism before it can solve the migrant crisis in a way that will allow Germany to maintain a working relationship with pro-European Arab and Turkish regimes across the Middle East. While this might sound positive, the Bible makes plain that this alliance will ultimately wreak staggering devastation.

Make the Cuban regime normal again?

On January 12, as one of his final acts as United States president, Barack Obama ended a decades-old policy that granted special status to illegal immigrants from Cuba seeking residence in the U.S.

Under that policy, enacted in 1995, Cubans caught at sea while attempting to enter the U.S. were sent back to Cuba or other countries. Those not caught in transit were eligible for residency in the U.S. the moment they set foot on American soil. This “wet-foot/dry-foot” policy treated such Cubans less as illegal immigrants and more as refugees fleeing the brutal regime of the Castros.

“Cuban nationals who attempt to enter the United States illegally and do not qualify for humanitarian relief will be subject to removal, consistent with U.S. law and enforcement priorities,” President Obama said in a statement. “By taking this step, we are treating Cuban migrants the same way we treat migrants from other countries.”

On Dec. 17, 2014, when President Obama announced the normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba, he ended what he called “an outdated approach that, for decades, has failed to advance our interests.” Two years later and one week before the end of his presidency, Mr. Obama ended the “wet-foot/dry-foot” immigration policy, saying that it had been “put in place more than 20 years ago and was designed for a different era.”

The policy change was “long sought by the Cuban government,” the New York Times said. “The move places a finishing touch on Mr. Obama’s efforts as president to end a half-century of hostility between the United States and Cuba and to establish normalized relations and diplomatic ties with a government American presidents have long sought to isolate and punish” (January 12). The Times noted that the “wet-foot/dry-foot” policy was “one way in which the United States tried to weaken Fidel Castro’s government, by welcoming tens of thousands of Cubans fleeing repression.”

“[T]he White House caved to what Castro wants,” said Florida’s Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, whose family was forced to flee the Castro regime in 1960. “Castro uses refugees as pawns to get more concessions from Washington” (Washington Post, January 13).

Prof. Carlos Eire said, “Obama has achieved two ends here. First, he has completed the utter betrayal of the Cuban people—a legacy move set in motion two years ago. Second, he has burdened [Donald] Trump with a no-win situation with the potential to seriously tarnish or weaken his presidency right from the start.” nChinese President Xi Jinping is taking more and more power for himself and blocking the promotion of a potential successor, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis. Jeremy Page and Lingling Wei wrote, “Mr. Xi has taken personal charge of the economy, the armed forces and most other levers of power, overturning a collective-leadership system introduced to protect against one-man rule after the death of Mao Zedong in 1976” (Dec. 26, 2016).

Xi’s consolidation of power has been underway for several years. Now he apparently is also attempting to block the promotion of a potential successor. Page and Lingling said this is a worrying indication that Xi will try to remain China’s leader even after his second term expires. “Now, as he nears the end of his first five-year term, many party insiders say Mr. Xi is trying to block promotion of a potential successor next year, suggesting he wants to remain in office after his second term expires in 2022, when he would be 69 years old” (ibid).

One party official said it is apparent that Xi is seeking a leadership structure “just like the Putin model,” a reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has changed the nation’s constitution in order to prolong his rule.

“Concern is rising among China’s elite that the nation is shifting toward a rigid form of autocracy,” Page and Lingling wrote, quoting a retired senior official as saying, “Mao built the nation. Deng Xiaoping made it rich. We’re now in the Xi era, which will make it strong.”

India overtakes UK economy

India has economically surpassed its former colonizer several years earlier than experts projected it would, as India has grown rapidly over the last quarter century and the United Kingdom has suffered economic troubles. Forbes wrote on Dec. 16, 2016, that India’s gross domestic product was expected to surpass the UK in 2020, but the pound’s value dropped nearly 20 percent in the last year. For 2016, the UK’s gdp was $2.29 trillion, and India’s was $2.3 trillion. “Furthermore, this gap is expected to widen as India grows at 6 to 8 percent per annum compared to UK’s growth of 1 to 2 percent per annum until 2020, and likely beyond,” Forbes reported. This is significant largely because it underscores the shifting power dynamics between Asia and Western powers.

Japan increases its military spending again

Seventy-five years after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Japan—a nation that constitutionally was to “forever renounce war as a sovereign right”—now boasts a military that might be even stronger than it was in World War ii. And it is set to grow bigger still.

Japan’s defense budget for 2017 is expected to hit a record high of $44.6 billion. This will mark the fifth year in a row that Japan’s defense spending has increased. The budget includes plans to develop land-to-sea missiles; upgrade Japanese missile destroyers with American-developed Aegis advanced radar systems; and construct a new type of submarine.

The increase is part of a five-year plan by the Japanese government to increase military spending by 0.8 percent each year until 2018. Japan is currently in the top-10 list of the most powerful militaries in the world. While its pacifist constitution imposed after World War ii forbids Japan to wage offensive war, it has been free to build up a self-defense force. Japan has established one of the most sophisticated militaries in the world, thanks to America bearing the primary burden of defending the nation. John T. Kuehn, a professor of military history at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, told cnn, “Pilot for pilot, ship for ship, Japan can stand toe to toe with anybody” (Dec. 7, 2016).

North Korea missile could reach U.S.?

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un brought in 2017 by proclaiming that his nation has “reached the final stage in preparations to test launch” an intercontinental ballistic missile. North Korea has never tested a missile that could potentially reach the West Coast of the United States. Such a test would violate international law and, if successful, pose a nuclear threat to America.

Pyongyang has repeatedly defied Washington and the global community in developing nuclear and missile capacity. It has conducted test after test in brash defiance of international law and UN resolutions. Preventing a future test would be difficult without a preemptive military strike or a missile interception early in the test.

SocietyWatch

From the March 2017 Trumpet Print Edition

Police under attack

The number of police officers killed in ambushes in the United States reached a two-decade high in 2016, according to a year-end report by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. Of the 64 police officers shot to death in the line of duty in 2016, 21 were killed in ambushes, including five in Dallas, Texas, and three in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This is the highest total since 1995, and represents a 163 percent increase over 2015, when eight officers were ambushed and killed.

After the July 7, Baton Rouge attack, National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund president Craig Floyd stated that anti-police rhetoric was fueling violence against officers. Floyd told Newsweek, “If we’re going to spew anti-cop rhetoric, anti-government rhetoric, then we have to realize there could be consequences of the type we saw in Dallas” (July 12, 2016).

Many politicians and media commentators have demonstrably distorted facts and made false accusations against American police in general. They claim that America’s local law enforcement needs to be chastised for racism and brought under federal control. This sharp increase in ambush attacks against police officers is a tragic effect of this agenda.

In the August 2015 Trumpet, almost a year before the Dallas ambush, editor in chief Gerald Flurry warned about this dangerous trend: “America’s law enforcement is under attack. On one side people in communities are developing a mistrustful, hostile, antagonistic attitude, yelling at police, assaulting and even killing officers in some cases. Police are pulling back from doing their jobs for fear of attack, or losing their jobs or going to prison for doing anything that could be perceived as racist. On the other, the federal government is undermining local law enforcement and stripping it of power in an effort to centralize policing power on the federal level. You need to recognize just how dangerous these trends really are.”

Facebook fights ‘fake news’

Facebook announced on Dec. 15, 2016, that it is taking new measures to curb the spread of what it calls “fake news” on its influential social network. The organization will partner with fact-checkers to sort honest news reports from made-up stories that play to people’s preconceived notions. Facebook said it is working with five fact-checking and news organizations: abc News, the Associated Press, FactCheck
.org, Politifact and Snopes. Stories that flunk the fact check will be flagged as “disputed,” making them less visible on the platform’s news feed. Critics worry that the company, besides censoring stories that are objectively false, will censor stories that conflict with the political views of its leaders and its partners. Facebook is the largest social media company in the world, with more than a billion active monthly users.

One in six Americans on psychiatric drugs

About 1 in 6 American adults were taking at least one psychiatric drug in 2013, a study published by JAMA Internal Medicine on Dec. 12, 2016, showed.

Researchers found that 12 percent of adults were using antidepressants; 8 percent were using anti-anxiety medication, sedatives and hypnotics; and almost 2 percent were using antipsychotic drugs. According to the study, those likeliest to report taking a psychiatric drug were women, seniors above age 59, and Caucasians.

“Antipsychotics have become huge moneymakers for the drug industry,” Consumer Reports wrote in December 2013. “In 2003, annual U.S. sales of the drugs were estimated at $2.8 billion; by 2011, that number had risen to $18.2 billion. That huge growth was driven in part by one company—Janssen Pharmaceuticals—and its aggressive promotion of off-label uses in children and elderly patients, relying on marketing tactics that according to the federal government, crossed legal and ethical lines.”

The U.S. has become the world’s most medicated nation by far. Though Americans account for only 5 percent of global population, they consume 75 percent of the world’s prescription drugs. This is not because they are unhealthier than other people, but because they hold a cultural belief that drugs will help them escape the effects of their problems without having to address root causes. Instead of addressing the underpinning causes of depression, anxiety and other mental health problems, doctors simply write a prescription for the latest, most heavily promoted psychiatric drug.

In Challenge, Opportunity

From the March 2017 Trumpet Print Edition

Donald Trump’s presidency poses a great threat to Germany, but there are major opportunities too.

President Trump’s retreat from the world and criticism of the EU is piling pressure on Europe. He wants the EU to collapse under that pressure—but it could force Europeans to unite. After Mr. Trump’s Times and Bild interview, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated, “I think that we Europeans have our destiny in our own hands, and I would very strongly argue that we all stand together.” French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said, “The best response is European unity.”

Talk of nato’s obsolescence is encouraging Europe to pursue its own military force—something Germany has pushed for years. Without America’s security guarantee, the EU “can address its current geopolitical realities only by developing its own capacity to project political and military power,” explained former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer (Project Syndicate, January 5).

“Hostile inauguration speech,” tweeted the EU Parliament’s lead negotiator on Brexit, Guy Verhofstadt. “We can’t sit around & hope for US support & cooperation. Europe must take its destiny & security in its own hands.”

Europe was already working on military union with a new seriousness. Mr. Trump’s election is accelerating those efforts.

President Trump’s move toward Russia also contains opportunities for Germany.

No American détente with Russia can last. The two countries have almost no interests in common. Their rivalry has played out throughout history—it’s the classic great land power versus great sea power competition that pit Sparta against Athens, Rome against Carthage and Britain against France. Such powers never get along; they have too many clashing interests. The only interest Russia and America share is opposition to Islamic terrorism, but Putin’s support of Iran reveals his lack of commitment on this front.

Russia and Germany have more common interests, which is why they have forged agreements throughout history. Mr. Trump is paving the way for Germany to move closer to Russia—an alliance Berlin could use to great advantage in the long run.

At the same time, America’s rapprochement with Russia is pushing Eastern Europe closer to Germany. This region knows it cannot stand up to Russia alone, and has spent the last few years struggling to find a patron. With America under Mr. Obama unwilling to confront Russia, and with Europe struggling to devise a coherent foreign policy, the region has been trying to decide which is the least bad option. An America that cozies up to Russia makes Germany—with its much weaker military and its history of striking deals with Russia—that least bad option. Watch for Eastern Europe to shift toward Germany.

Why You Must Watch Jerusalem

Jerusalem has a bloody past and an even bloodier immediate future. Beyond that, it is destined for eternal glory!
From the March 2017 Trumpet Print Edition

For thousands of years, horrifically brutal wars have been fought for control of Jerusalem. It is the bloodiest city on Earth. The Jewish people face a gloomy and threatening reality on a daily basis. Knife assaults, suicide bombings and rocket attacks are commonplace.

Several recent events practically guarantee that this type of violence will increase. Sadly, the prophecies of the Bible reveal that life in Jerusalem will get a lot worse before it gets better.

What happens in this city is important to every person on Earth. You need to understand why.

Several scriptures in the Bible show that this city bears significance unlike any other. Jerusalem is at the core of the eternal plan of God and the key to the future of mankind. We cannot afford to ignore this special city. We must watch Jerusalem.

In the days when King Solomon reigned there, God became angry because of his sins. He said he would strip the kingdom of Israel from him. Then He said, “Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake which I have chosen” (1 Kings 11:13).

This is one of several biblical verses that show God has chosen Jerusalem. God has not chosen any other city on Earth, but He has chosen Jerusalem, for a very special purpose.

Solomon’s father, King David, was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). Scripture prophesies that he will rule over the 12 tribes of Israel in the World Tomorrow. This important man was passionate about Jerusalem, as God is today. To understand prophecy and to become perfect like God the Father, we need the same passion for Jerusalem that David had.

Compassed With Armies

Look at some of the Bible’s prophecies about what will happen in Jerusalem in our day.

The most important of these was spoken by Jesus Christ Himself. When His disciples asked Him for the signs that would precede His Second Coming, Christ spoke of a nightmarish period of war that would close this age of man:

“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” (Matthew 24:21-22). Think about what He said! At what time in human history has it been possible to exterminate every person on Earth? Only recently have scientists created a weapon that could cause such devastation. The number one problem facing this world is human survival! This is a prophecy for right now.

And in this context, Christ referred to Jerusalem specifically: “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)” (verse 15). The holy place described here is Jerusalem.

This is a prophecy of a calamitous event: a foreign army, an “abomination of desolation,” surrounding Jerusalem just before besieging it! This is about to happen—before this age of man finally ends and just before the return of Jesus Christ! I explain this prophecy thoroughly in my booklet Jerusalem in Prophecy (request a free copy).

Before that event takes place, however, there is a more immediate prophecy we must watch to be fulfilled in Jerusalem. It was recorded by the Prophet Zechariah:

“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” (Zechariah 14:1-2).

Half of Jerusalem will soon fall! Think about the intractable problem in this city. The Arabs already inhabit the eastern half. Your Bible says it is only a matter of time before they forcibly seize control! I believe the United Nations Security Council resolution that the Obama administration shamefully enabled to be passed in December makes this more likely. (See a map of how this decision affects Jerusalem on page 18 of this issue.)

Here is what I wrote in Jerusalem in Prophecy about this prophecy in Zechariah: “Consider it: The Day of the Lord and the dispute over one half of Jerusalem are presented in the same context. That is because when half of Jerusalem goes into captivity, that crisis triggers a series of events that leads to the return of Jesus Christ! One half of Jerusalem being taken captive is like the first domino to fall, leading to Christ’s return and battle against all nations in Jerusalem! It all begins and ends in Jerusalem.

“In other words, the current dispute over East Jerusalem is a strong sign that the Day of the Lord is almost here!”

Christ’s prophecy also shows how events in Jerusalem will signal His return. The chaos in that city prophesied by Zechariah will get the attention of a foreign power, and it will come to the rescue. Who is that foreign power?

Look at Luke’s account of this prophecy: “And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto” (Luke 21:20-21).

Other prophecies explain that this is, in fact, European armies led by Germany. They show that these armies will surround Jerusalem after they have conquered radical Islam led by Iran!

“Jerusalem compassed with armies” is the biggest sign God gives us that it is time to flee—or be destroyed!

Yes, God gave these prophecies as a warning to us. We need to understand them—so we can act on them!

Christ continued in Luke 21: “And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (verses 34-36). Watch Jerusalem, and watch yourself. Make sure you don’t let down spiritually—time is too short. Hear God’s instructions and apply them in your life!

The Bible contains many more details about the shocking chain of events that leads to Christ’s return, but the main takeaway is that Jerusalem is at the heart of it all.

New Jerusalem

It is exciting and comforting to know when Christ will return. But amazingly, this is only a physical reason to watch Jerusalem. There is an even more important, spiritual reason.

In the book of Psalms are canonized these words: “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy” (Psalm 137:5-6).

Notice another prophecy in Zechariah: “Cry yet, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; My cities through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad; and the Lord shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem” (Zechariah 1:17).

When you put all the prophecies of the Bible together, you come to understand just how important this city is to God. He chose it not just as the capital city for Israel under Kings David and Solomon, but as His capital city during the millennial reign of Jesus Christ, the King of kings!

“And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:3). The word of God will go forth from Jerusalem and cover the Earth! All people will learn God’s way and live according to His law.

At long last, Jerusalem will be the city of peace that its name represents.

“Rejoice ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her, all ye that love her: rejoice for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her …. As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you; and ye shall be comforted in Jerusalem” (Isaiah 66:10, 13).

What a contrast to the unfathomable bloodshed just ahead! (Joel 3:13; Revelation 14:19-20). No city has suffered more than Jerusalem. No city will rejoice more than Jerusalem! God will stop all the violence and misery. He will heal all scars and wipe away all tears.

Those of us who do His Work today will share His throne forever as the Bride of Jesus Christ, living in Jerusalem (Revelation 19:7).

Beyond that, this city that God has chosen will become the headquarters of the universe! God will dwell there for all eternity (Revelation 21:2-3).

The great patriarch Abraham had his mind locked in on new Jerusalem. “For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10). The book of Revelation shows that God the Father will bring this city down to Earth and establish His throne among us!

Keep your eyes on Jerusalem! God has chosen this city. He instructs us to follow His example—to become perfect even as He is (Matthew 5:48). To become perfect like Him, we must make it a priority to do the same!

Who Was Antiochus Epiphanes?

Barack Obama’s treatment of Israel hearkens back to one of Jewish history’s most ruthless anti-Semites.
From the March 2017 Trumpet Print Edition

After the Obama administration enabled United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 to pass, declaring many Jews illegal residents in their own country, some analysts compared America’s president to Antiochus Epiphanes, one of the worst villains in Jewish history. In doing so, they were actually echoing a comparison that Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry had made six years ago. You can read his free booklet America Under Attack, published in 2013, for a full explanation.

Who was Antiochus? Here is a survey of the history that has become so relevant because of recent events.

Taking Power

Antiochus was never meant to lead the Seleucid Kingdom. He was the son of Antiochus (iii) the Great, but he was the third son, not the firstborn crown prince. In fact, for much of his childhood, Antiochus lived far away from the Syrian capital, as a resident hostage of the Roman Republic. However, he would eventually lead one of the most ferocious attacks against the Jews in antiquity.

When Antiochus was a boy, his father desired to expand Seleucid territory out of the Levant and into Greece. There he met the Roman Republic in a fierce battle. He lost and was ordered to pay a massive annual tribute to Rome and to send representatives from the Seleucid family to Rome as hostages. Among those hostages was young Antiochus iv.

Confined to Rome, young Antiochus received the highest class of Roman upbringing. He was well educated in the most acclaimed schools, rubbing shoulders with the greatest intellectuals of the period. He befriended many of the young Roman aristocrats. Members of the Roman government hoped that if they treated Antiochus well, he would eventually ensure an alliance between the Seleucid Kingdom and Rome.

In his later teen years, news reached Rome that Antiochus’s father had died and his brother, Seleucus Philopater, had assumed the crown in Antioch. Antiochus was released when Philopater’s young son, the new crown prince, replaced him as Rome’s hostage.

After almost a decade of being held in Rome, Antiochus began his journey back toward his homeland. On the way, he stopped in Athens and was employed as assistant to the city’s chief magistrate for a few years.

Then Antiochus received news about Philopater: His brother had been murdered at the hands of one of his treasurers. Immediately, Antiochus thought, This is my time to act!

The Seleucid throne should have rightfully passed to Philopater’s young son, but Antiochus quickly traveled to Syria to take the throne for himself. Aided by some of the powerful people he had befriended while in Athens, Antiochus entered Antioch secretly in 175 b.c. before revealing himself at a public gathering. Using the oratorical skill he had gained while in Rome and Athens, the returning royal appealed to the hearts of the people, seemingly full of kindness and compassion. The people of Antioch accepted his rule, though they knew it was not his right.

Antiochus and the Jews

Antiochus’s main foreign-policy objective was to take over the Ptolemaic Kingdom, which was based in Egypt. After a few successful campaigns, Antiochus ventured once more to Egypt to finish the job. This time, the Roman Republic sent its fleet to support the Ptolemies. Instead of facing off with the Romans, Antiochus wisely withdrew his forces from Egypt, never to return.

On his journey from Egypt back to Syria in 168 b.c., Antiochus decided to take his rage out on one of his subject peoples: the Jews.

Over the previous decade, many of the Jews in Judea’s capital city had been Hellenized, adopting the culture that dominated the Seleucid Kingdom and beyond. But the Jews still practiced many of their ancient traditions and laws. The Seleucids held power over the affairs and tribute of Judea, but they allowed its people to keep many of their customs.

The Jews had heard that Antiochus had been killed, and a rival priest had become high priest, throwing off the priest Antiochus had appointed into that office. When Antiochus arrived on the scene, he launched into one of the most inexplicably barbarous acts in history.

Antiochus went first to the temple in Jerusalem and set up a statue of the Greek god Jupiter Olympus in the holy of holies. On the altar of sacrifice in the temple courtyard, he forced the priests to sacrifice pig flesh to the pagan gods. Anyone in Jerusalem who was seen practicing any form of religion other than Antiochus’s was sentenced to immediate death. Wherever books of the Bible were found, they were destroyed, as were the people in whose possession they were found.

In order to ensure the Jews did not revert back to their religion, Antiochus ordered that a massive fortress be constructed just south of the temple. This towering citadel gave Antiochus’s forces the ability to view everything taking place in the temple area. Its impregnable walls also allowed Antiochus to garrison troops in Jerusalem in case the Jews thought to rebel.

With the heart of Jerusalem desecrated and construction underway on the citadel, Antiochus continued back to Antioch. There he made his policy official by issuing a formal decree to the entire realm. His decree stated that “the whole kingdom should be one people and that each nation must give up his customs.”

To enforce his decree, he sent soldiers to Jerusalem and throughout the Judean countryside. The soldiers prevented the Jews from offering burnt offerings, sacrifices and drink offerings in the sanctuary at Jerusalem. They forced them to keep strange customs, to build altars and shrines to idols, to sacrifice and eat unclean meats, to leave their sons uncircumcised, and to break the Sabbath. Those who would circumcise their sons were burned to death. Many Jews adopted the pagan religion.

Antiochus was not just trying to control a subject population. He sought to destroy every vestige of the truth and laws of God.

Antiochus’s incursion into Judea was extremely successful. All of Judea turned over to Hellenism at the expense of the law of God—all, except for a family in western Judea known as the Hasmonean family (or the Maccabees). This family would later lead a rebellion against Antiochus and the Seleucid Kingdom, known as the Maccabean revolt.

Antiochus sent a number of generals into Judea over the next few years, but none of them was able to crush the rebellion. Antiochus Epiphanes was with the main Seleucid army in the east trying to crush the rising Parthian rebellion. It was there that he heard of the defeat of one of his generals in Judea. Immediately he set out for Judea himself to crush the rebellion. According to Polybius, a historian of the time, while Antiochus was en route to destroy the Jews, he was struck down and troubled with a “perpetual delirium” of some sort, “imagining that specters [terrifying spirits] stood continually before him, reproaching him with his crimes.” This torment drove him literally insane. Soon after, in 164 b.c., Antiochus died.

For almost 2,200 years Antiochus’s name has been synonymous with the enemies of the Jews who would take away their freedom, their lives and their truth.

God’s View on Making and Managing Money

Is wealth sinful? Is poverty virtuous? What does the Bible say?
From the March 2017 Trumpet Print Edition

Some people choose to be poor. They believe poverty is admirable or even righteous. They live ultrasimple lives, or even banish themselves to a bare-bones existence in a religious house or monastery, thinking that this makes them closer to God.

Is money—even wealth—bad? What does the Bible say about money? Everyone needs it, but there are right and wrong ways to use it. How much is too little? How much is too much?

The Bible is a vault of wisdom about money. It contains very practical instruction. So let’s dive in and study it. Open your Bible and read each scripture that answers each question. This will help you learn and remember the principles we cover.

God Wants You to Prosper!

1. Who owns everything on Earth? Deuteronomy 10:14; Psalm 24:1; Haggai 2:8.

God created everything and therefore owns everything. Some say God is against riches. But how could He be? He Himself is a multitrillionaire!

2. Does God hoard His wealth? Does God desire for you to prosper? John 10:10, last part; 3 John 2; Ecclesiastes 5:19.

God gives of all He has made. That is His way. In fact, He created all things for the purpose of sharing them! God wants us to enjoy the wealth of blessings His creation offers.

3. What are some of the blessings God promises to those who live righteously? Psalm 1:1-3; 112:1-3; 84:11-12; 37:3-4.

4. Since God owns everything, and all you have comes from Him, what does He expect from you? Proverbs 3:9-10; Malachi 3:10. If you obey God in this respect, will He bless you even more? Same verses.

The firstfruits, or tithe, is the first 10 percent of your income. God wants you to show your appreciation and respect for Him by giving that portion back to Him before you take anything else out of your paycheck. The governments of this world demand 25 or 50 percent or more, God commands that we pay only 10 percent. We don’t give this to God directly, but to His representative on Earth. When we do, we will find that the remainder of our money stretches even further!

Money Tips

Now that we have established that God is in favor of wealth, let’s look at some money tips from the Bible.

1. How important is hard work in making money? What will laziness and a love of pleasures lead to, monetarily? Proverbs 21:17; 23:21; 24:30-34.

2. Besides diligence and hard work, what lesson can we learn from the ant? Proverbs 6:6-8; 30:24-25.

While food is plenteous, ants store enough to last them through the colder months. This teaches us not only to save for the future and to set money aside for emergencies, but also the principle of budgeting, allocating money for specific purposes to cover all your expenses, from food and housing to entertainment. This practice keeps you in control of your money and is invaluable in managing a household. The sooner you develop this habit the better!

3. How can your choices today help you prepare for a financially stable future? Proverbs 24:27; verses 3-4.

Verse 27 in the Moffatt translation reads, “First work your farm, and till the soil—then marry and set up house.” There is much to be said for getting established with a good job and saving some money before taking on the responsibilities of a family. Some people marry too young and end up struggling financially—and otherwise—for years.

4. Will generously sharing your wealth—with God and others—actually increase your wealth? Luke 6:38; Proverbs 11:24-25.

The Revised Standard Version renders Proverbs 11:24, “One man gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want.” It is smart to save money and spend wisely, but don’t become stingy. Give generously, as you are able, and you will have more in the long run. Selfishly hoarding each dollar may seem to make you richer, but in fact God’s way of give leads to greater blessings. Read Luke 12:15-21 of the man who used his great wealth for selfish purposes.

5. Is it important to leave an inheritance for your children when you die? Proverbs 13:22.

This too follows God’s way of give. Occasionally you hear older people say, “We’re spending our kids’ inheritance!” as they indulge in purchasing some luxury. That often lighthearted sentiment actually reveals a selfish, nonbiblical attitude toward money. God says to keep your children and even your future grandchildren in your financial plans!

Pitfalls of Wealth—and the Solution

Let’s now look at some of the common problems that money can cause—and get the Bible’s solution.

1. What dangers await the person who lusts after money? 1 Timothy 6:9-10. What does God suggest to the person who has great wealth? Verses 17-19.

Greed drives people to do terrible, unethical things. Verse 10 should read “a root” (money is not the cause of every evil, but it is one cause for all sorts of evil). As we will see from other scriptures, God wants to ensure that physical riches are used correctly and never become more important than spiritual riches.

2. Another mistake is to covet possessions. In order to get things they do not have the money for, many people borrow the money or charge the expense to a credit card. Is that wise? What does God say about borrowing, or going into debt? Proverbs 22:7.

Those who lend money, such as credit card companies, usually charge interest—an extra percentage of the debt for the “service” they provide. The greater your debt, the harder it is to pay for it! Just ask someone who is trying to get out of debt—it enslaves you!

3. What about get-rich-quick schemes, promising instant wealth for little labor? Proverbs 28:20, 22; 13:11.

Always be on guard against this classic appeal to greed and laziness! To avoid this trap, always be willing to work for your living (Proverbs 28:19).

4. Should money be your main reason for working? Proverbs 23:4-5. What effect can preoccupation with money have on a family? Proverbs 15:27. What does the Bible say to those who believe money will solve their problems? Ecclesiastes 5:12-16; Luke 12:15.

5. What will ultimately happen to the person who trusts in his possessions? Proverbs 11:28. Where should your heart be instead? Matthew 6:19-21, 24.

It is easy to become materialistic, preoccupied with money and things, because as a human being, you are material—made of flesh and blood. But God cautions against putting physical riches above spiritual riches. Read the story in Matthew 19:16-26 of the man who turned away from Christ because he wasn’t willing to give up his “great possessions.” You must be willing, if necessary, to give up anything to follow God! Being unwilling to do this amounts to idolatry, which is breaking the First Commandment (Exodus 20:3).

6. What are some biblical examples of things that are more important than physical wealth? Proverbs 16:16; 22:1; 15:16; Psalm 119:72.

7. We all need money to live, but money issues can tend to take up too much of our thinking. What should our overall attitude be toward providing for our physical needs? Matthew 6:25-32.

Never allow money troubles to overwhelm your thinking. Trust God to provide.

8. What should our main goal in life be? Verse 33.

The bottom-line solution to many of the pitfalls of wealth, particularly the covetousness and greed it can arouse within us, is to seek first God’s Kingdom. Always make sure that God’s way of life, His law, His spiritual wealth, is most important in your life. That way, you can be sure that God will see to your other needs.

Final Advice

1. Should you be content with your physical state as it is? Philippians 4:11-12, 19; 1 Timothy 6:6-8.

Here is a secret of happiness. Most people, at all levels of income, believe they would be happier if they only had a little more money. There is nothing wrong with trying to improve your station in life, but learn to enjoy just what you have. Proverbs 30:7-9 show great wisdom: It is a request that God provide an income exactly right for the person—so that he can avoid the pitfalls of being either too poor or too rich.

2. How can you tell if the blessings you receive are from God? Proverbs 10:22.

Worldly wealth can come by unwholesome means. But when God blesses you with riches, whether physical or spiritual, there will be no bad kickbacks or side effects. You will be able to fully enjoy them!

3. How important are your money-management skills to God? Luke 16:10-11.

Read the whole parable, beginning in verse 1. To be trusted with more exciting, grander assignments in the future, you must prove trustworthy in the smaller things today. How do you treat the blessings God gives you? Proper money management develops and demonstrates the qualities of character that God will need in His Kingdom. Care for your money and possessions—and keep them in perspective—and the riches God will ultimately give you will stagger your imagination!