Vietnam remains the greatest military disaster in American history. In Vietnam, the political leadership did not commit enough troops or enough will for a decisive victory. Vietnam divided the nation and scarred America’s national character.
Another consequence from the Vietnam War was the shock waves it sent through the American military. Every level of the United States Army was reexamined and subjected to criticism. Since the end of World War ii, America had been considered the greatest military on Earth. However, both Korea and Vietnam revealed deep flaws in the conscript system.
The final nail in the coffin was the botched rescue plan during the Iran hostage crisis in 1980 under President Jimmy Carter. Eight service members died when a military helicopter collided with a transport plane at a desert airfield. Under the Reagan administration, the Army overhauled its identity and organization, and became a true professional army. Today, the U.S. Army has become the most professional and well-trained force in all of history. But has it learned the lessons of history?
Historian Niall Ferguson thinks so. A large part of Vietnam’s failures revolved around political leadership ignoring the advice of military personnel on military decisions. Today, three generals hold some of the most important jobs in President Donald Trump’s cabinet. Ferguson wrote in the Boston Globe:
Should the rest of us be worried that three key posts in the Trump administration are now held by military men? Gen. James Mattis is secretary of defense, despite having retired only recently as the general in charge of Central Command. Gen. John F. Kelly is secretary of Homeland Security, having previously run Southern Command. Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster was, until his appointment as national security adviser last Monday, number two at the Army Training and Doctrine Command. It has been a very long time indeed since career soldiers (as opposed to civilians who had served their country in time of war) held this many top-level government jobs.
All three generals have seen extensive combat experience, ranging from Vietnam to the Iraq War. All three are also considered soldier-scholars, especially Generals Mattis and McMaster. They represent the sharp edge of America’s officer corp: highly educated, highly successful, brave, dutiful and deadly. The combination of expertise, precision and ethos of these men is unmatched. Ferguson has even higher praise:
I do not say this lightly: Never in the history of the English-speaking peoples has there been an officer class this good. It is not just that they are smart and knowledgeable. Seared by the memory of Vietnam, they have an ethos of selfless public service that is unlike anything I have ever encountered.Whenever I am succumbing to gloom about America’s political future, I remind myself of the unexpected legacy of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Though the Obama administration frittered away the hard-won gains of the later Bush years, the generation that fought those wars has come back home imbued with a new spirit. Incorruptible, indefatigable servants of their country, they have learned the hard way the weaknesses, as well as the strengths, of a political system that subordinates the military to civilian authority.
Generals Mattis, Kelly and McMaster, and their fellow officers have learned the lessons from Vietnam and have prevented widespread loss of morale when the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere went against them. The very fact that the U.S. Army, with very little help from civilian leaders, was able to turn the Iraq War around during the surge is a testament to their leadership. Iraq may have been the most complex battlefield ever to face a soldier and nation.
Despite the leadership available to the U.S. Army, and despite men like Generals Mattis, Kelly and McMaster having top jobs in government, a hard question must be asked: If we have such a good officer class, perhaps the best ever, why have we still failed to win a single war?
Since Japan surrendered in August 1945, America has not won a single war. Korea ended in a stalemate. Vietnam ended in retreat. The war against terror has not stopped terrorism; in fact, terrorism has increased since 2001. President Barack Obama withdrew from Iraq: any gains there were forfeited. The war in Afghanistan continues. Perhaps this is easy to assert in hindsight, but someone actually forecasted that this would happen—at a time when America held even more of the balance of power than it does today. In 1961, Herbert W. Armstrong wrote these prophetic words (emphasis added):
[U]nless or until the United States as a whole repents and returns to what has become a hollow slogan on its dollars, “In God we trust,” the United States of America has won its last war!I said that when we failed to win in Korea! … I say it again, now that the United States government endorsed this Cuban fiasco—its president gave the “go ahead”—and God, the God America has deserted, gave it its most humiliating defeat! What does the Cuban debacle mean?It means, Mr. and Mrs. United States, that the handwriting is on your wall!
Those words were written over 50 years ago, and they have proved true. Was it a lucky guess? No, it was a forecast based on Bible prophecy. The Bible reveals that America will continue to lose wars to their enemies until its people turn back to the God of the Bible. The blame for defeat does not lie with political leaders, the U.S. military, or any one individual. America losing wars—despite the efforts of its best and brightest and bravest—is a judgment against the nation as a whole! The sins of the nation have decided America’s fortunes on the battlefield.
Despite a rash of scandals involving top-level officers (especially Navy officers), the U.S. Army still has the greatest office corp in its history. Generals like Mattis, Kelly and McMaster are outstanding men with flawless records and experience in battle. However, trusting in their brilliance and bravery is not the path to elusive victory. The professional, technological and numerical edge of the U.S. military is futile in the face of divine judgement. There is a way forward, but it involves drastic change. To learn more, read The United States and Britain in Prophecy, by Herbert W. Armstrong.
Thinking about world trade is a bit like thinking about your blood pressure. The subject is neither compelling nor obviously significant, so it doesn’t come to mind often. But then a blood vessel hemorrhages and your life is turned upside down.
Is global trade war about to suddenly turn humanity upside down?
The world trade order is currently being reconfigured in an astonishing way. This transformation is already impacting trade relations and facets of some economies. But soon it will significantly impact every national economy, every national government, and every major international relationship. The political and geopolitical ramifications will be extraordinary.
What is happening exactly?
First, America is relinquishing world leadership and is becoming isolationist and protectionist. President Donald Trump’s motto is “buy American, hire American.” To many Americans, this sounds terrific; but to foreign leaders, the thought of the world’s most important economy reducing imports is alarming. America is reassessing established trade relationships, seemingly abandoning globalization, and canceling trade deals. President Trump scrapped the Trans-Pacific Partnership, called nafta one of the worst deals in history and hinted at reworking it, and threatened to impose tariffs on imports from Germany, China and Mexico.
Second, Britain’s departure from the European Union has compounded the sense that globalization is over and that it’s now every man, or nation, for himself. Brexit has also created enormous uncertainty and anxiety, especially in Europe. What does Britain’s departure mean for the future of the EU? Will European nations have open access to UK markets? Is the UK now a competitor in global trade? These are life-and- death questions for the EU.
Finally, America’s and Britain’s moves to shed their postwar roles and responsibilities and to blaze new trails—including a possible renaissance in Anglo-America relations—have given other world powers, especially Europe, opportunity and license to do the same.
The upheaval in global trade and commerce has caused enormous uncertainty and anxiety. More and more it is sparking competition and hostility. The world, as daily news headlines now routinely declare, appears to be entering a period of trade war!
Here is what to expect.
When it comes to trade, no nation has more at stake than Germany. Berlin quietly sits at the heart of global trade. It has the fourth largest economy in the world, is the world’s third biggest exporter, and is the engine that drives Europe economically. As Spiegel Online put it, “No other large economy is more reliant on the free exchange of goods and services, on border-free trade and barrier-free exports, than the German economy” (January 28).
Mr. Trump’s views on trade, according to Spiegel, are a “dangerous cocktail for German industry.” This is not hyperbole. America is the single largest importer of German goods. In 2015, it accounted for almost 10 percent of German exports. (And the UK accounted for 7.5 percent.) “Considering that 46.8 percent of Germany’s gdp comes from exports,” explained Geopolitical Futures, “the importance of the U.S. to Germany’s export machine should not be underestimated” (February 6).
Even a marginal drop in U.S. demand for German goods—and the drop, in the event of a 35 percent tariff, would surely be more than marginal—would have a massive impact on the German economy.
“It is becoming apparent that Trump’s presidency represents a break in the transatlantic relationship, the kinds of which hasn’t been seen since World War ii,” explained Spiegel.
Some looking at this development see Germany and Europe as innocent victims of Donald Trump and Brexit. Germany’s media are doing a marvelous job at selling this narrative. But Germany isn’t a poor, helpless victim. On the contrary, all the uncertainty and tension is giving Berlin an opportunity to develop new trade relationships, to act more aggressively, especially toward the U.S., and to assume a greater leadership in global trade and commerce.
The international community in general dislikes President Trump and his vision for America. One consequence is that many nations—European states especially, but others worldwide—are beginning to look to Germany as the new America! The world is rallying behind Berlin as it stands up to Mr. Trump, and we can expect this trend to continue.
It’s still early, but Germany is already gearing up for a fight.
In January, when asked about Mr. Trump’s threat to put a 35 percent tax on some German imports, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble told German public broadcaster zdf: “I also want to point out that currently American companies don’t have to tax their gains which they make outside of the U.S. That means that hundreds of billions of untaxed gains, of great American companies, rest in a tax oasis” (Trumpet translation).
Germany and Europe have long resented facets of America’s business culture and have been openly hostile to companies like Facebook and Google. The Financial Times reported that Europe was putting together an army of lawyers to battle America over a proposed border tax: “The EU and other U.S. trading partners have begun laying the groundwork for a legal challenge to a U.S. border tax proposal in a move that could trigger the biggest case in World Trade Organization history” (February 13).
Germany and Europe might have been shocked by some of President Trump’s decisions, but they’re not sitting around feeling sorry for themselves. On the contrary, they are exploring new partnerships and opportunities and preparing for greater competition with America. As Spiegel wrote, Germany is thinking: “Is it better to remain composed and unperturbed, relying on rationality, on the strength of decades of ties and on the rules of the global economy? Or would it be better to prepare countermeasures, search for new allies in, for example, Asia or perhaps even to take advantage of the vacuum that is being created?” (op cit; emphasis added throughout).
Europe Looks East
In January, European Council President Donald Tusk told EU leaders: “We should use the change in the trade strategy of the U.S. to the EU’s advantage by intensifying our talks with interested partners, while defending our interests at the same time.”
This search for partners is mainly taking place in Asia.
In January, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Germany should work “quickly” to form a new Asian strategy. Writing in the Financial Times on February 2, Alexander Stubb, former Finnish finance and foreign minister, called for Europe to champion free trade in the global American vacuum. Europe, he wrote, must be at the vanguard of global trade outreach to Asia.
A February 14 Politico article reported on the “peculiar alliance” forming between Germany and China: “The partnership is partly intended to signal to Washington that, in the face of the White House’s rising economic nationalism, deals without the U.S. will become more important, shrinking its influence on the global stage.” In an interview with the New York Times, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, president of the Eurogroup, discussed Europe’s shift in focus. “We’ve always said that America is our best friend,” he said, but if that is “no longer the case, if that’s what we need to understand from Donald Trump, then of course Europe will look for new friends” (January 30).
Who should Europe look to? “China is a very strong candidate for that,” Dijsselbloem stated. “The Chinese involvement in Europe in terms of investment is already very high and expanding. If you push away your friends, you mustn’t be surprised if the friends start looking for new friends.”
Dijsselbloem is right. Trade relations between Europe and Asia have grown significantly in the last two decades. EU imports from China increased 11-fold from 1995 to 2013. Exports going the other way increased eight times over the same period. From 2010 to 2014, Chinese investments in Europe rose from $6 billion to $55 billion. China invested nearly as much money in Europe in 2014/2015 as it did in the seven years from 2008 to 2014.
In early 2016, as China’s President Xi Jinping stated at the time, 1 out of 3 containers at Germany’s Hamburg port was from China. Today there are more than 5,000 German companies in China, and almost 1,000 Chinese companies in Germany. This is a strong foundation for improved trade relations between Europe and Asia.
Jörg Wuttke, president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, told Politico: “The emergence of ‘Trumponomics’ has opened a window for us to renegotiate” relations with China. While a change in free trade with America is unwelcome, he noted, “The prospect of a more equitable trade relationship with Beijing could be a big silver lining for Berlin” (op cit).
Germany and Europe are not only looking east. In February, with tensions rising between Mexico and America, the EU announced that it had agreed to speed up negotiations with Mexico to modernize their existing free-trade pact. There is also a strong push to improve trade relations between Europe and Latin and South America.
Can you see what is happening? Europe and Asia are actively seeking improved economic relations. In the process, these nations are also positioning themselves to undermine and oppose America and Britain. We are in the early stages of a massive global trade war!
Some believe increased global trade is a path to peace. They think that by interlocking multiple economies and increasing interdependency, nations have a vested interest in preserving the peace. This sounds reasonable, but what does history show?
“Does trade increase or decrease the likelihood of conflict?” historian Samuel Huntington asked. “The assumption that it reduces the probability of war between nations is, at a minimum, not proven, and much evidence exists to the contrary” (The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order).
The line between cooperation (globalization) and competition (trade war) is fragile. The free flow of goods, services and people between nations can produce peace, but it lasts only as long as all sides benefit. If one nation begins to suffer—especially if its distress is a result of the other nations’ success—then tension, resentment and animosity fester. Eventually, the disadvantaged will defend their interests.
Two toddlers will play happily and share their toys as long as both are satisfied. But when one child grows bored with his toy, or it breaks, what happens? He lunges for the other child’s toy—who, naturally, doesn’t want to relinquish it. “It’s mine!” he screams. The scene transforms from peaceful cooperation to fierce competition in a moment.
It’s much the same with globalization: Everything is great as long as all parties benefit. But when one senses it is being treated unfairly, partners can quickly become competitors; allies can become enemies.
Many historians believe World War i began as a trade war. In The Ascent of Money, Niall Ferguson wrote: “It has recently been suggested that [World War i] should be understood as a kind of backlash against globalization, heralded by rising tariffs and immigration restrictions in the decade before 1914 ….”
Does that sound familiar?
The Trumpet and its predecessor, the Plain Truth, agree: Globalization can quickly spiral into political and even military conflict.
Will history repeat? Bible prophecy answers with a resounding yes.
A Euro-Asian ‘Mart of Nations’!
The Prophet Isaiah forecast a massive global trade network in the end time and said it would revolve around a German-led European superstate. You can study this prophecy in Isaiah 22 and 23. In Isaiah 23:1, China is called by its ancient name, Chittim. The same verse calls the German-dominated European combine Tyre, which was a major economic power extant at the time the prophecy was written.
In this prophecy, the end-time Tyre is shown to be in a trade relationship with China and other Asian peoples. The mention of the sea (verses 2, 4, 11), oceans (“great waters,” verse 3), ships (verses 1 and 14), and seaborne merchant traffic (verse 8) indicates this is a trade alliance. Verse 3 calls this a “mart of nations.” Mart means emporium, trade or merchandise. Verse 13 mentions Italy (Chaldea). Italy is here depicted in association with Germany, whose biblical identity is Assyria, or Asshur.
Clearly, this is a prophecy about an end-time trade axis between Europe and Asia!
Notice too: America and Britain are not part of this “mart of nations.” Why not? Because this trade emporium is a rival of the U.S. and Britain. It is infused with strong anti-American and anti-British sentiment. This “mart of nations” exists tocompete withAmerica and Britain!
Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry discusses this prophecy in his book Isaiah’s End-time Vision: “[W]e believe there may be a brief alliance between the German-led Holy Roman Empire and certain Asian powers (Russia, China, Japan—the kings of the east).” This German-led global trade conglomerate will be a “dynamic market of nations,” he states.
He wrote that seven years ago!
Mr. Flurry also warns that this temporary “mart of nations” is “going to besiege America, Britain and the Jewish nation.” This warning comes from a specific prophecy in Ezekiel 5. Here, God warns that the cities of America will burn with fire caused by riots and mass civil unrest. Millions of Americans will die. This violence will be inflamed by an economic siege—trade wars—inflicted by the resurrected Holy Roman Empire working in conjunction with China and other Eastern nations.
Consider these statements:
“The U.S. and other Israelite nations are surrounded or besieged by fierce and often unfair competition. … As the U.S. and Britain become less and less competitive worldwide, unemployment will steadily increase. … The United States and Britain are going to be left out in the cold as two gigantic trade blocs, Europe and Asia, mesh together and begin calling the shots in world commerce. These nations of Israel are going to be literally besieged—economically frozen out of world trade!” Ezekiel: The End-Time Prophet by Gerald Flurry (request a free copy).
We are clearly in the early stages of the trade war that precedes this siege!
The siege is at the door!
Ezekiel also prophesied about this temporary Europe-Asia economic alliance. The end-time prophecy of Ezekiel 27 discusses a “merchant of the people for many isles.” It foretells Germany trading with Middle East nations (verses 9-10), with Russia (verses 12-13), and with Japan (verse 14).
The Apostle John delivered a similar prophecy. The theme of Revelation 17 and 18 is the seventh and final resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire. Revelation 18:3 describes the demise of this superstate, stating that “the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.” This prophecy shows that for a brief period—just before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ—a German-led Holy Roman Empire will sit at the nucleus of world trade.
We have just noted three distinct biblical passages, written by three individuals at three different times, discussing exactly the same end-time event. How can you explain this incredible fact?
We have been warned! And not just by Isaiah, Ezekiel and John.
For decades, Herbert W. Armstrong warned that trade wars would precede World War iii and the return of Christ. In 1968, he described how the beginning of World War iii would be “economic in nature. We have shown how God prophesied a virtual trade war will get underway against the United States and Britain ….”
Here is another warning, delivered in 1971. On this occasion Mr. Armstrong specifically addressed America’s protectionist policies. “Either we start raising high tariff barriers against other countries, starting a trade war which in time will trigger the nuclear war that will destroy us—or, American workers are going to have to meet the competition of the workers in other countries, by lowering living standards. Obviously American workers are not going to choose to do the latter. And if they don’t—well, the handwriting is on our national wall” (Plain Truth, March 1971).
What a profoundly prescient statement. Mr. Armstrong foresaw the exact dilemma America faces today!
He did not use a crystal ball—he used Bible prophecy. And the Bible plainly shows that a nuclear World War iii will be preceded by a global trade war.
In fact, Scripture is even more specific. It says that a German-dominated European power will temporarily align with China, Russia and other Asian powers to bring America down.
These prophecies are being fulfilled, dramatically, in detail, and astonishingly fast!
Viewed through the lens of Bible prophecy, the subject of global trade and commerce is riveting. But putting world events together with Bible prophecies needs to be more than just a rousing intellectual exercise. Seeing Bible prophecy fulfilled in such obvious and dramatic fashion ought to arouse curiosity in the Bible, in God’s existence and plan. It ought to stir us to action!
If a trade war is looming, then don’t you want to know how to escape the destruction? You can be protected. Your family can be protected. You can be there to witness the outcome of the trade war and full-scale military conflict and to witness the greatest event to happen in the history of the universe: the return of Jesus Christ. What do you have to do?
For the answer, read Acts 2:38 (New King James Version): “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’”
Jerusalem—“Iran is steadily making progress towards a nuclear weapon and is doing so via North Korea,” two nuclear experts wrote in a new paper published by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies on Tuesday. Dr. Rafael Ofek and Dr. Dany Shoham claim the collusion between the two rogue states creates a way for Iran to clandestinely circumvent the nuclear deal implemented with world powers on Jan. 16, 2016.
Iran is said to have helped North Korea (NK) by providing necessary funding, specific nuclear-related technologies and help with ballistic missile technologies.
Dr. Ofek and Dr. Shoham write:
From the 1990s onward, dozens—perhaps hundreds—of North Korean scientists and technicians apparently worked in Iran in nuclear and ballistic facilities. Ballistic missile field tests were held in Iran, for instance near Qom, where the North Korea missiles Hwasong-6 (originally the Soviet Scud-C, which is designated in Iran as Shehab-2) and Nodong-1 (designated in Iran as Shehab-3) were tested. Moreover, in the mid-2000s, the Shehab-3 was tentatively adjusted by Kamran Daneshjoo, a top Iranian scientist, to carry a nuclear warhead.
As further evidence of collusion, the authors say the Syrian nuclear reactor that was destroyed by an Israeli air strike in 2007 was constructed by North Korea and heavily financed by Iran.
The partnership ramped up in 2012, at the very same time the United States government began to look for ways to coax Iran into signing a nuclear compromise. In July 2012, the Obama administration wrote a secret message to Iranian leaders offering to open up a direct channel to resolve the nuclear agreement.
The paper states that, two months later:
A meaningful event took place … when Daneshjoo, then the Iranian minister of Science and Technology, signed an agreement with NK establishing formal cooperation. The agreement formally addressed such civil applications as “information technology, energy, environment, agriculture and food.” However, the memorandum of the agreement was ratified by Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei has since clarified that the agreement is an “outcome of the fact that Iran and NK have common enemies, because the arrogant powers do not accept independent states.” It is reasonable to infer that the agreement went far beyond its alleged civilian sphere.
In order for Iran to comply with the developing nuclear deal and yet continue its nuclear program, its leaders simply decided to outsource most of its work to North Korea while it negotiated the nuclear deal with the West that would result in desperately needed relief from economic sanctions.
Between 2013 and 2016, Iranian scientists were often covertly present at North Korea’s nuclear tests. Numerous North Korean delegations also visited Iran during this time; the last of which came one month before the nuclear deal was agreed to in June 2015.
According to the paper, some in the U.S. government at the time were aware of collusion between Iran and North Korea and did not do enough to stop it.
Finally, in April 2016, a remarkable clash arose between Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) during a U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing. They locked horns over planes that fly between Iran and NK, which should land and be rigorously inspected in China so as to ensure the prevention of NK proliferation of nuclear and missile technology, let alone actual nuclear weapons, to Iran. Sherman charged that this had not been handled with sufficient care by the Obama administration.
Dr. Ofek and Dr. Shoham summarized their findings this way:
The chronology, contents and features of the overt interface between Iran and NK mark an ongoing evolutionary process in terms of weapons technologies at the highest strategic level. The two countries have followed fairly similar nuclear and ballistic courses, with considerable, largely intended, reciprocal technological complementarity. The numerous technological common denominators that underlie the [nuclear weapon] and ballistic missile programs of Iran and NK cannot be regarded as coincidental. Rather, they likely indicate—in conjunction with geopolitical and economic drives—a much broader degree of undisclosed interaction between Tehran and Pyongyang.
Iran’s connection to North Korea is something the Trumpet has watched for several years. In a recent update to his booklet The King of the South, editor in chief Gerald Flurry asks, “Why were Iranian officials present for North Korea’s illegal nuclear weapons tests? Are the Iranians outsourcing their nuclear program, or at least parts of their nuclear bombs? It certainly appears that way. The Iranians are watching these tests for a reason.”
Gerald Flurry called the nuclear deal with Iran the worst foreign-policy blunder in American history. This is particularly true if it turns out that Iran simply made its nuclear program a joint venture with North Korea. According to the paper, it’s also likely that much of the $150 billion transferred to Iran under the nuclear deal actually went to funding its continued nuclear arrangement with North Korea.
For more about Iran’s relationship with North Korea and what Iran plans to do with nuclear weapons once it obtains them, please read The King of the South.
Donald Trump’s victory in the United States presidential election gives us a clear indication as to where we are in Bible prophecy.
In the weeks before the election, Hillary Clinton held a considerable lead in the polls (seven points at the time). But in a sermon at the same time, I commented that I was leaning toward Mr. Trump being the winner. Why? Because of an end-time prophecy in the book of Amos.
It seems obvious that God is telling us we have now entered the time frame of Amos chapter 7. What does that time frame mean for America and for you? God has revealed to me more understanding from Amos 7.
The book of Amos has some of the strongest prophecies in the Bible, with little emphasis on the positive message. But there is great hope in this prophetic book.
The Time of Jeroboam
“Thus he shewed me: and, behold, the Lord stood upon a wall made by a plumbline, with a plumbline in his hand” (Amos 7:7). A plumbline is usually used in measuring a building or in construction. But God uses it differently here: This is about measuring the destruction that is to come upon the nations of Israel. This destruction is not random; God is measuring it carefully and precisely. And it will bring about the most wonderful results imaginable.
“And the Lord said unto me, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A plumbline. Then said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people Israel: I will not again pass by them any more” (verse 8). This is God talking! He has warned these nations several times to try to wake them up, but they have ignored those warnings. So, He says, I’ll warn one last time! (Our free book The United States and Britain in Prophecy explains who the nations of Israel are today.)
We are entering the last time God passes by the people of Israel before they are destroyed! This is a time of extreme urgency!
And notice: This is in the context of an end-timeJeroboam. Verse 9 continues: “And the high places of Isaac shall be desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste; and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.”
When God says, “I will not again pass by them any more,” He is talking about not passing by them in the time of Jeroboam.
Who is Jeroboam? Who is this specific man that the Bible talks about in the time frame of the last time God passes by to show the end-time nations of Israel how to solve their problems and difficulties, and to warn them of the consequences of their failure to do so?
This passage strongly indicates that God is going to rise with the sword in the time of Jeroboam. The Moffatt translation renders the end of verse 9 as, “I will attack Jeroboam’s house.” There is something very upsetting to God about the house of Jeroboam. This is why He wants us to understand it and why it is so offensive to Him!
God emphasizes the U.S. superpower, the leader of the nations of Israel. The U.S. is led by a modern-day Jeroboam. When there is a type of Jeroboam on the scene, then God will send the sword upon His people because of all of their sins. It’s because of America’s sins that it must suffer!
This is sobering to think about. Here is a severe end-time prophecy, and God is talking about an individual. God names names!We must understand these names and the roles these men play if we are to understand these end-time prophecies! It is essential that we know who these individuals are.
God gives us checkpoints in Bible prophecy: the end time, the “last end,” and the “last hour.” This prophecy occurs in the Jeroboam time frame—or, we could say, the Jeroboam end—the last time God will pass by with His message! God will not bring this warning to His people again; the Jeroboam time is going to be the last time!
If you understand this, it really makes Bible prophecy come alive to you. God is revealing the identity of significant individuals in Bible prophecy in this end time especially—I believe like He’s never done before. He wants us to understand this because it is leading directly into the Great Tribulation and then the coming of the Messiah! Though it is extremely distressing news in the short run, what it leads to is great news!
An Accusation of Treason!
Amos’s prophecy continues: “Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, Amos hath conspired against thee in the midst of the house of Israel: the land is not able to bear all his words” (Amos 7:10).
Who is this “priest of Bethel”? “Bethel” means house of God. “Amaziah the priest of Bethel” is prophetic language referring to a man who came from within the Church of God in this end time. You can see from the prophecy in Revelation 3 beginning in verse 14 that the last era of God’s true Church before Christ’s return—the very time frame we are in right now—is the Laodicean era, a lukewarm church that has turned its back on God. Amaziah is a very rebellious Laodicean minister.
Here Amaziah is accusing Amos, God’s true prophet, of treason! Amos is a type of the man in this end time who is proclaiming God’s warning message to Israel today. So this is a prophecy of a real clash between a false minister and a true prophet of God.
I believe Amaziah the priest is the same man as the leader of God’s Church whom we battled with for copyrights to the truth and message of God (Amos 9:1, 11-12). Amaziah hates our message. He is almost certainly the individual who led a six-year court battle trying to suppress God’s truth from going out to this world! (You can read more about that Amos 9 court battle in our free booklet The Lion Has Roared.) Satan doesn’t like that we won that battle and made him look bad. He never gives up when something like that happens. We are in the middle of Satan’s worst wrath.
The priest Amaziah is sending this message about Amos to Jeroboam. This strongly indicates that this end-time Jeroboam has a religious following! He is leading people in a way that they should not be led.
Look again at Amos 7:9, and you see more religious imagery. As our booklet on Amos, The Lion Has Roared, explains, “the high places of Isaac” refers to the Laodicean Church. “The sanctuaries of Israel” are the religions of this world, like the evangelicals.
Mr. Trump received over 80 percent of the evangelical vote and a large portion of the Catholic vote. He really is leading most of America’s “religious” people. But where is he leading them?
The Land Cannot Bear His Words
Amaziah’s message to Jeroboam is, “The land is not able to bear all his words.” What “words” are so difficult to bear? Amaziah explains: “For thus Amos saith, Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of their own land” (Amos 7:11).
In the short run, this is bad news. But it is a message from God that must be delivered! This false priest will go before Jeroboam and say, “This is what Amos says.” He doesn’t say that this is a message from God! But when Amos speaks, he says, “[H]ear thou the word of the Lord … thus saith the Lord“! (verses 16-17). Amos came with a “thus saith the Lord” message! Amos is just the messenger. God gives the messenger His message and says, Go and deliver this to my people.
The world doesn’t want to believe this is from God. They almost always look at it as a message from a man. But it isn’t! This is whatGodsays! It’s such a powerful message that you can’t deny it is coming from God—but the world still tries.
We all have human nature, but we must overcome it or we too will think, Well that’s just a man’s opinion; I don’t think it is from God.We have to stay focused on “thus saith the Lord”! This is a message from God!
America has different messages coming from Republicans and Democrats, but the only message that will prevail is “Thus saith the Lord”! Nothing else will succeed. This world must understand that.
How well do you understand that God is sending out His word today? The message you are reading right now is coming from His mouth, not some man’s! This is critical understanding that ought to sober anybody!
For decades, we have been warning Israel about what is going to happen, but people have scorned this message and pushed it aside. Yet there will come a point when people can’t bear it anymore.
It is our words that the land will not be able to bear! That strongly indicates that there are serious problems plaguing the nation or they wouldn’t care what we say. But we have a message they cannot bear because it’s about their destruction! They want to close their minds to what is coming upon them—instead of repenting of their sins.
Still, the message is wrapped in wonderful good news. Even though there is bad news in the short term, this is the beginning of Israel getting to know God! There will be rough times ahead, but we are letting God use us to help Israel get to know Him! We have to see the destruction in the context of God’s plan. This vision will keep us positive. When you think about the end result, what could be more inspiring?
At the time of the end, Jeroboam is going to be laden with problems and difficulties, but his biggest problem is going to be the message of God coming out of this organization! Our message is going to plague him! This is what people in this land are going to fear most of all—not anarchy within or national chaos. God is forcing them to face the warning message of their own destruction! This is a problem Jeroboam never saw coming.
The King’s Chapel
Anciently, God allowed the dividing of the nation of Israel because of its sins and gave control over the northern 10 tribes to Jeroboam. Jeroboam was “a mighty man of valour” and “industrious” (1 Kings 11:28). But he ended up being a disaster for Israel, turning the people away from God by institutionalizing false religion (1 Kings 12). The emphasis in Amos 7 on the “house of Jeroboam” could mean the leader of America in the end time is a descendant of that Jeroboam anciently.
It seems logical that God would have an Israelite leader, a Jeroboam type whose ancestors were from ancient Israel, in this end time because our message is to warn Israel, or specifically modern-day America, Britain and the Jewish nation. We have to warn people that it is their sins that God is concerned about! There are Gentiles in this land, and they will suffer along with Israel. But God puts the blame on Israel, the house of Jeroboam. That is where the sword is aimed. You probably wouldn’t have an Antiochus, a Gentile leader, in office when God is punishing the house of Jeroboam (I explain about Antiochus in my booklet Great Again; request a free copy).
America is one of the birthright nations of Israel. God has blessed this land abundantly. Perhaps America’s greatest sin is ingratitude for what God has given it.
America’s president says, “I will make America great again.” Notice the big “I”: I will make America great again—not God—like I made myself great. That is going to be the ultimate disaster. Men vainly think they can do magnificent things. That is one of the most deceitful thoughts anyone can have! Yet that is what we are facing in this time of Jeroboam.
America, the British peoples (including Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa) and the Jewish nation are facing horrendous problems. Only God can save these nations.
That means our people must repent for that to happen. Do you see evidence of that happening? I do not. We need a leader who will cause our people to embrace the living God—not a puny helpless man!
This modern-day Jeroboam fights for many good causes. But in the process he gets people to look to him as the solution—not the omnipotent, all-powerful God!
This is the great deception and the great sin.
“Also Amaziah said unto Amos, O thou seer, go, flee thee away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and prophesy there: But prophesy not again any more at Bethel: for it is the king’s chapel, and it is the king’s court” (Amos 7:12-13). Amaziah is being directed by Jeroboam about what to say. He’s saying, Tell them to get out of here! This is “the king’s chapel,” the president’s domain—this is our religious place. Get out of this land because we will have none of that message!
This man becomes “Jeroboam” because he is fighting against God and God’s Work—along with Amaziah the priest, who is a spiritual Antiochus. The modern-day Jeroboam commits the same sin that Jeroboam did anciently. There is a reason God uses Jeroboam as the last warning to the nations of Israel. The original Jeroboam committed a great sin, and the modern-day Jeroboam is committing the identical sin again. What is that sin?
What Was Jeroboam’s Sin?
The book of 1 Kings is part of what is called the former prophets, and it is prophecy mainly for this end time. (Request a free copy of my book The Former Prophets—How to Become a King. It explains thoroughly how relevant these biblical books are for us in this end time.)
Notice what Jeroboam did after he received rulership of the 10 northern tribes of Israel: “Then Jeroboam built Shechem in mount Ephraim, and dwelt therein; and went out from thence, and built Penuel. And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David” (1 Kings 12:25-26). He feared that the people would return to the house of David. They had just broken away, and he wanted to keep them separated from King David’s throne. God had even explained the importance of the house of David to Jeroboam (read 1 Kings 11:29-39), but he rejected God’s instruction.
Jeroboam wanted to keep the 10 tribes of Israel away from the house of David, denying the eternal promise that God had made to David. So what did he do?
“If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah [Solomon’s son], and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah. Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt” (1 Kings 12:27-28). Jeroboam took them right back to the false gods they had before they knew the true God!
Jeroboam then polluted the priesthood by ordaining priests from “the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi” (verse 31). Then he changed the dates of God’s sacred holy days so they would be different from what they were under David and in Jerusalem (verses 32-33). He had his own holy day plan—his own “master plan.” He rigged the system so he could lead the people and keep them away from the house of David. That was his great sin.
Sadly, the people just went along. They turned away from God and worshiped these golden calves just as they had done in ancient history. This culminated in terrible disaster!
This same sin is being committed today! This is not that difficult to understand or prove: Something is wrong with most religions today—even those that claim to follow the Bible and to understand God. The modern-day Jeroboam is causing other religions to look to him—not the true God. It is going the same way it did anciently, only in this end time there is a much greater abundance of truth.
How can we make sure we don’t commit this sin?
The Key of David
We need to view this spiritually, as God does. You need to understand the importance of David’s throne! This has deep meaning physically and spiritually. I explain it in detail in my book The Key of David, which we will send you upon request at no charge.
Revelation 3 beginning in verse 7 describes the second-to-last era of God’s Church—the one before the Laodicean era. And that message begins: “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David ….” Jesus Christ has the “key of David,” and He gave it to this era of the Church.
Do you hear religions today talking about the key of David? How many believers of the Bible do you know who talk about and understand the key of David or the house of David? It seems strange to them! The key of David is about a lot more than a man. It is the most important message in the Bible! This is the key that explainsthe house of David. It is the ultimate message—the only message—that Christ gave to His Church in this end time—yet most people reject it, just like Jeroboam did. Isn’t that amazing? They are listening too much to Jeroboam and the spirit of Jeroboam.
Herbert W. Armstrong was the leader of God’s Church during the Philadelphia era, and he had this key. The Philadelphia Church of God, which publishes this newsmagazine, has remained loyal to God in the Laodicean era, and we have clung tightly to this key! The name of our television program is The Key of David. We have produced abundant material on the promises God made to David.
In Revelation 3:7, God says that for those who have this key, He will open doors so they can deliver this message! We must get this: The key of David is the very heart and core of God’s message today and throughout most Bible history! But the Jeroboams keep rejecting it. They want to devise their own plans and live by their own rules. That leads to one catastrophe after another after another!
Notice this promise God makes to His faithful Philadelphians: “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth” (verse 10). A grievous trial is about to come upon this whole world! Nuclear weapons are proliferating, and they are going to be used! But to those who keep the key of David and promote it and teach it and have a work that delivers it, God promises protection! This is a wonderful promise, even just physically—not to mention the spiritual.
Read God’s promise to David in 2 Samuel 7:12-13. This is also in the former prophets and is prophecy for today: “And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever.” This is an eternal promise!
“And thine house [the house of David] and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever” (verse 16). That physical throne still exists today. This wonderful, inspiring message is all explained in The United States and Britain in Prophecy. However, this promise from God is really talking about much more than the royal line of a mortal man: It is actually talking about the throne of God! This is God’s throne, and He is going to rule from this throne for all eternity!
God is inviting human beings to share this throne with Him! If they will be loyal to Him and teach the key of David message, then He will give them the reward of being the Bride of Christ forever—an unparalleled offer to any human being! What a reward God gives those who are loyal to Him!
Thisis what Jeroboam rejected. And a modern-day Jeroboam is turning Israel away from the message of God and the throne of David. He is opposingspiritualJerusalem, as Jeroboam did against physical Jerusalem anciently.
Isaiah 22:20-22 is a related end-time prophecy. It begins, “And it shall come to pass in that day”—an expression that always means the end time, which is today. God says He will call a man and lay upon his shoulder “the key of the house of David.” This is not only about the key of David, but specifically about the key of the house of David—meaning the descendants of David, physically and spiritually.
God says we must have this message today, yet most people have rejected it and followed Jeroboam.
Flee to Judah!
When this nation can’t bear our message anymore, the leaders will tell us to get out: “O thou seer, go, flee thee away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and prophesy there” (Amos 7:12). Judah is the land of the Jews in the Middle East. The Philadelphia Church of God has had significant projects and activities over there, and these will apparently be well known. People will know a lot about our work and our involvement in Judah. And when we become outcasts, it appears they will force us to go to Jerusalem, on our way to a place of safety.
The “Israel” in Amos 7:11 includes the U.S. and the United Kingdom. Verse 12 brings Judah into the picture. Hosea 5:5 reveals that all three of these nations will fall together. Why is God so wrathful toward these three Israelite nations? Because they received the most blessings of all—they are the birthright nations and the scepter nation—yet are mired in unparalleled sin! In addition, all three of them rejected God’s message. These three nations have a history with God—yet they are totally ungrateful! Ingratitude is perhaps their greatest sin!
“Ephraim [Britain] shall be desolate in the day of rebuke: among the tribes of Israel have I made known that which shall surely be. The princes of Judah [modern-day ‘Israel’] were like them that remove the bound: therefore I will pour out my wrath upon them like water. Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment, because he willingly walked after the commandment” (Hosea 5:9-11). What “commandment” is that talking about? The commandment of Jeroboam, who changed God’s holy days, perverted the religious worship, and led the nation into idolatry!
People in Britain, where the third of three prophesied overturns of David’s throne occurred (Ezekiel 21:27), are going to be led astray by Jeroboam. They are going to be led more deeply into sin. Now that the United Kingdom has decided to break away from Europe, it will be more desperate to trade with the U.S. This will probably result in it following Jeroboam’s lead into disaster.
What a painful day it is in Israel when you look at what its people are doing. God has been so patient; He has given them so many warnings—but this is the last one! It all revolves around the time of Jeroboam.
A Time of Extreme Urgency
Amos “warned the people that the supreme moment of their success was but the prelude to their doom” (Soncino commentary). This is what we are looking at with Donald Trump assuming the American presidency. Some people believe there was good news in this election. The Republican side was ecstatic. Right after the election, Rush Limbaugh said, “We just got our country back!” But they didn’t! The “good news” is a mirage. It is a false hope.
This is actually a prelude to America’s doom. A man is on the scene whose house God is going to take out by the sword! Conditions in America may improve for a short time. It may even help the work of God. But its ultimate end is destruction. Our people are going to face the wrath of God until they repent!
Amos 7:7-17 show that our time is very limited. What is going to happen in the next four years or perhaps even less?
This is one of the strongest, most urgent warnings in the Bible!
“Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit” (verse 14). Amos had no formal seminary or college training. God simply gave him a job. Even without “credentials,” God used this man!
“Now therefore hear thou the word of the Lord: Thou sayest, Prophesy not against Israel, and drop not thy word against the house of Isaac. Therefore thus saith the Lord; Thy wife shall be an harlot in the city, and thy sons and thy daughters shall fall by the sword, and thy land shall be divided by line; and thou shalt die in a polluted land: and Israel shall surely go into captivity forth of his land” (verses 16-17). Amos had a very different view from Amaziah: He knew this was a message from God!
“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord” (Amos 8:11). How will this famine of the word come about? God’s Church will be forced to leave. No one will be here to deliver the message anymore. When this faithful remnant of God’s people is taken to a place of safety, God’s message will cease, except what we do from there. The nations of Israel have had over 80 years to heed this message, but soon they will not be able to even find it.
Verse 14 talks about people who are going to “fall, and never rise up again.” This is talking about 50 percent of God’s own Laodicean or lukewarm church who will lose their eternal lives! What a tragedy—the greatest tragedy in this end time!
The Gun Lap
“In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old” (Amos 9:11). God’s Philadelphian remnant has worked to rebuild everything that God built through Herbert W. Armstrong. We won the copyright battle for Mr. Armstrong’s writings and raised the ruins as in the days of old. God’s truth continues to go out to this world—for now. But all of this is God’s doing; He gives the victory (verse 12).
God is using a small group of humble people to fulfill this ruin-raising work!
This election was prophetic. We don’t know how exactly God intervenes to orchestrate elections and other events, but we do know He puts His people right in the middle of it all—“in the midst of my people Israel” (Amos 7:8). His people have to be at the center telling the world what is happening and what it all means.
We have a limited time to get this work done. God is showing us that we are getting extremely close to the end. This could be our last elected president. This could be America’s last presidential election. When you look at the context of these verses, and you see what is happening in this country, it appears probable that this president will have only one term.
We are in the “gun lap” that Herbert W. Armstrong referred to so often. In a Plain Truth personal from May 1967, Mr. Armstrong wrote, “We come, now, to the final stretch of the Work. In a mile or two-mile race, officials fire a revolver in the air as the runners begin the last lap. They call it ‘the gun lap.’ This Work of God, leading to Christ’s coming, has now entered its ‘gun lap.’ We must now put on the final extra burst of effort for the very few remaining years!” Mr. Armstrong never did reach the gun lap, but you can safely say we are in it now! This is the last time that God is going to pass by the nations of Israel. This is a warning on top of a warning in many ways!
When God is done passing by His people, He will take His faithful remnant to a place of safety. If anyone is going to join them in that place of protection, this is their last chance—or they will face Jeroboam’s fate!
If you and I are not overcoming Satan, this is our last chance to do so! (Request my free booklet How to Be an Overcomer. It will clearly show you how to overcome your sins, Satan and this evil world.)
God has revealed more understanding about this prophecy. He is speaking to His Church directly—and to each of us individually!
Look at the context for Amos 7. “The words of Amos, who was among the herdmen of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel …. And he said, The Lord will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem …” (Amos 1:1-2). Who is going to be the voice? Who will be the people who utter God’s voice from spiritual Jerusalem? God has given us this message—we must proclaim it!
If there are protesters who can stand up and speak out so boldly against President Trump, shouldn’t the people of God speak out boldly? We have to warn this nation! Verse 2 concludes, “and the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn, and the top of Carmel shall wither.” The Anchor Bible says the subject here is a cosmic holocaust—a nuclear holocaust! God is about tosend nuclear fire! (see also verses 4, 7, 10, 12, 14; 2:2, 5).
We are all weak and sinners, but God promises to make us strong! We will have difficult trials ahead. But God needs people who are eager to do battle and fight for Him, knowing they’re going to win! With that faith, nobody can prevail over our message.
“Will a lion roar in the forest, when he hath no prey? will a young lion cry out of his den, if he have taken nothing?” (Amos 3:4). God is roaring—and He wouldn’t be doing that unless the destruction of Israel is very close.
“Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it?” (verse 6). Soncino says, “Shall the horn be blown in a city and the people not tremble?” If we are properly trembling at God’s word, we will be overcoming and conquering our problems. God is building His character in us, but we first have to overcome our weaknesses.
“Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. The lion hath roared, who will not fear? the Lord God hath spoken, who can but prophesy?” (verses 7-8). We have to prophesy! We have so much wonderful truth and a powerful message from God that must be delivered to the end-time nations of Israel!
“Therefore thus saith the Lord God; An adversary there shall be even round about the land; and he shall bring down thy strength from thee, and thy palaces shall be spoiled. Thus saith the Lord; As the shepherd taketh out of the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear; so shall the children of Israel be taken out that dwell in Samaria in the corner of a bed, and in Damascus in a couch” (verses 11-12). Again, this is a “thus saith the Lord” message. It is not from Amos or any man. It’s a picture of a lion’s attack on sheep, but it is talking about Israel—not sheep! God is going to tear these nations apart! This is what it takes for them to get to know God and listen to Him!
This message has been saturating their lands, especially America and Britain, but they have refused to hear. God is going to bring them down, so they can finally get to know Him!
“That in the day that I shall visit the transgressions of Israel upon him I will also visit the altars of Bethel: and the horns of the altar shall be cut off, and fall to the ground” (verse 14). “Altars of Bethel” is talking about the Laodiceans (God’s own lukewarm Church). Anciently, people could take refuge in the temple and grab the horns of the altar. By doing this, there was a good chance they would be saved from punishment because they were showing God that they deeply repented and wanted to change. Oftentimes, they would receive mercy from God. But in verse 14, God is saying that won’t happen anymore! There won’t be horns on the altar. They can’t run and hide!
Those without God’s protection who try to flee from one disaster will just be hit by another one! (Amos 5:19). But if we seek God and turn to Him, He will help us overcome, and we will live! (verses 4-9). God will protect us physically and spiritually (Revelation 12:14). Even in a blistering message like Amos’s, there is good news!
When we see this world race to its own destruction before our eyes, we know that a new world is almost here! Yes, there are difficult prophecies ahead, but they all lead to the return of Christ!
“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt. And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God” (Amos 9:13-15). This is the wonderful conclusion Amos gives us.
There is a lot of bad news in the near future, but that is only temporary. All of it is good news because God is paving the way for Israel to know Him! Soon, everyone will be educated in God’s ways, and blessed for their obedience!
Paper money is going the way of the dinosaur—extinct. Soon you will be unable to use the paper bills stuffed under your mattress or in your wallet. New technology means that the currencies of the future will be digital. And that means that governments will know where every penny is at every second, where it is being spent, who is spending it, and who is receiving it. The data could potentially be stored forever. People will be forced to keep their money in the banks or online. Tax collection will be instant, governments will be able to impose negative interest rates and other punitive schemes. The Bible says a time is coming when people will not be able to buy or sell without the approval of the government.
With all this in mind: Just what is the mark of the beast? And how will it be enforced?
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