WorldWatch

From the January 2018 Trumpet Print Edition

Catholics, Protestants commemorate Reformation

On Oct. 31, 2017, Catholics and Protestants celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Ironically, they celebrated it together.

At the anniversary service in Westminster Abbey, the Anglican Communion presented a resolution supporting a recent Catholic-Lutheran agreement, “resolving the theological dispute behind the Reformation.” These groups, plus the World Methodist Council and the Communion of Reformed Churches, “are agreed on the essential aspects of our salvation in Christ,” said Dr. John Gibaut, the Anglican Communion’s director of unity, faith and order.

“Just 100 years ago, the idea of a joint commemoration of the Reformation anniversary probably would have seemed almost unthinkably, or, at the very least, terribly avant-garde,” said Crux’s John L. Allen Jr. (Oct. 31, 2017). Now, not only are these groups memorializing the Reformation together, but almost all the major disputes that caused Protestant churches to split from the Catholic Church have been resolved. In many cases, Protestant churches and the Catholic Church recognize each other’s baptisms as valid. As a speaker at Kenneth Copeland Ministries, a large American Pentecostal group, put it, “Luther’s protest is over.”

Herbert W. Armstrong prophesied as far back as 1939 that Catholics and Protestants would unite. The Trumpet has continued forecasting this unity, pointing to a prophecy in Isaiah 47:1-8 that indicates that the Catholic mother church will reabsorb its protesting daughter churches. The 500th anniversary celebrations marked an important step toward this prophesied event. To learn more, read “Returning to the Fold” from our booklet He Was Right.

Germany signs submarine deal with Israel

The German government approved a $1.5 billion deal on October 23 that allows ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems to build and sell three submarines to the Israeli Navy. The vessels can carry up to 16 torpedoes and cruise missiles.

Defense experts say the subs will become operational within a decade, and that Israel will likely use them to spy on Iran and to carry nuclear warheads to provide second-strike capability in case of nuclear war with Iran.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the memorandum of understanding signed between the two nations “has strategic importance for Israel’s security, and its signing reflects the commitment of Germany and Chancellor Angela Merkel to Israel’s security and the deep cooperation between the countries.”

The submarines will replace three older subs, also supplied by ThyssenKrupp. Israel’s entire fleet of five submarines is German-made. It is also German-subsidized: As in previous sales, Germany will pay up to 30 percent of the cost of the vessels. Chancellor Merkel’s spokesman said the submarine deal reflects Germany’s “historical responsibility toward the State of Israel.”

Netanyahu described the subs and other warships from ThyssenKrupp as “strategic weapons systems that ensure the future and … the very existence of the State of Israel for decades to come.”

The Trumpet closely watches ties between Israel and Germany, not only because of the obvious historical associations but because of the prophetic implications. Bible prophecy describes a time when the Jewish state is so threatened that they reach out to the Germans—with terrible consequences. Read Chapter 2 of our booklet Jerusalem in Prophecy.

Africa is suffering its own 9/11s

The 2016 Global Terrorism Index by the Institute for Economics and Peace showed that terrorism and radical Islam are affecting Northern Africa with greater frequency. The report ranks the nations most affected by terrorism.

Nigeria is third on the list: It has been embroiled in a horrific war with Boko Haram, the al Qaeda offshoot and Islamic State affiliate infamous for kidnapping nearly 300 schoolgirls in 2014. According to the report, terrorist attacks in Nigeria in 2015 killed 4,940 people and injured 2,786 more.

Somalia ranks seventh. In 2015, terrorists murdered 659 Somalis and injured 463 others. One of Somalia’s worst terrorist attacks occurred in the capital of Mogadishu on Oct. 14, 2017, when a truck bomb destroyed a hotel, government offices, restaurants and kiosks, killing more than 300 people and injuring roughly 300 more.

Egypt ranks ninth, with 662 killed and 835 injured in attacks in 2015, nearly all of which were instigated by the Sinai Province of the Islamic State.

Libya was largely untouched by terrorists before the 2011 Arab Spring. But it ranks 10th on the list, with terrorists killing 454 and injuring 660 in 2015.

As editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote in the April 2013 Trumpet issue, “Northern Africa is turning into a battleground with enormously important prophetic implications.”

Revealed: More links between Iran and al Qaeda

On Nov. 1, 2017, the United States Central Intelligence Agency declassified information including a 19-page document that reveals more evidence of collusion between Osama bin Laden and Iran.

The document was purportedly written by a senior leader of bin Laden’s al Qaeda terrorist organization. It was released along with some 470,000 files that were recovered by U.S. Navy seals during their raid on bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan in 2011. The document discussed how Iran considered al Qaeda its “Saudi brothers” and offered al Qaeda terrorists “everything they needed”: money, weapons and “training in Hezbollah camps in Lebanon, in exchange for striking American interests in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf.”

The document also confirmed that Iran provided visas and safe travel through Iran to Iraq and sheltered blacklisted al Qaeda operatives, both before and after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on America that killed 2,996 people.

The bin Laden files grabbed headlines, but they “don’t tell us anything we didn’t already know,” former cia official Ned Price said. In fact, the State Department’s latest Country Reports on Terrorism indicate that Iran is still supporting al Qaeda.

Iran is not only the biggest enabler of al Qaeda, it is the biggest enabler of all radical Islamic extremists.

Bible prophecies about a “king of the south” led Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry to warn about Iran as early as July 1992, when he wrote an article titled “An Islamic King of the South.” His free booklet The King of the South explains those prophecies.

Islamic State attacks New York

On Oct. 31, 2017, a terrorist driving a rented pickup truck turned onto a bike path in Manhattan and mowed down pedestrians, runners and cyclists, killing eight and injuring 12 more. The driver then hit a school bus, injuring students inside. Police sources say he exited the vehicle shouting “Allahu Akbar” and waving a paintball gun in one hand and a pellet gun in the other until he was shot by a New York City police officer. Inside his vehicle, authorities found notes pledging loyalty to the Islamic State.

As Islamic State forces lose ground in the Middle East, their leaders are encouraging strikes on Europe and the United States. The group has even published a manual of terrorist tactics that includes instructions on the logistics of using a rental truck to kill pedestrians. Last year, a terrorist driving a cargo truck in Nice, France, murdered 86 people and injured more than 400. This year, dozens more have been injured or killed by homicidal Islamist truck drivers in Canada, England, Israel, Sweden and the U.S.

Since the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, radical Islamists have killed at least 158 people on American soil. Yet this tragic statistic pales in comparison to the more than 2,000 people killed by terrorists in Europe and the tens of thousands killed across Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Iran urges Russia to ditch U.S. dollar

During a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Iran on Nov. 1, 2017, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for more cooperation between the two countries and urged Putin to beat American sanctions by ditching the United States dollar.

“By ignoring the negative propaganda of the enemies who seek to weaken relations between countries,” Khamenei told Putin, “we can nullify U.S. sanctions, using methods such as eliminating the dollar and replacing it with national currencies in transactions between two or more parties; thus, isolating the Americans.”

Russia has been negotiating an “oil for goods” program with Iran since 2014. According to statements from Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak in March 2017, this program would allow Russia to buy 100,000 barrels of Iranian oil per day using Russian goods and equipment as payment instead of U.S. dollars.

Russia is also working with China to conduct oil sales between the two nations using the yuan instead of the dollar. Sergey Glazyev, an adviser to Putin, has explained that such deals are aimed at hastening the collapse of the U.S. economy. “The more aggressive the Americans are, the sooner they will see the final collapse of the dollar, and by getting rid of the dollar this would be the only way for victims of American aggression to stop this onslaught,” Glazyev told the Russian government’s tass news agency. “As soon as we and China dump the dollar, it will be the end of the U.S.’s military might.”

When America abandoned the gold standard in 1971, the dollar became a fiat currency until President Richard Nixon negotiated a “petrodollar” agreement with Saudi Arabia in 1973. In return for military hardware, the Saudis agreed to sell oil exclusively in U.S. dollars. Other nations followed, and the dollar became a de facto oil-backed, instead of gold-backed, currency. If enough nations stop using dollars to buy oil, it will revert to a fiat currency—backed only by paper.

Beijing quietly ramps up militarization of South China Sea

New satellite imagery shows that while the world’s attention over the last several months has fixated on the crisis with North Korea, China has continued quietly increasing its illegal land reclamation and militarization in the contested waters of the South China Sea.

Satellite photos published by Reuters on Oct. 31, 2017, show that from November 2015 to October 2017, China made considerable progress in developing installations on Tree Island and the North Reef of the disputed Paracel chain. China, Taiwan and Vietnam all claim the Paracel Islands as their territory; some features are also claimed by the Philippines and Malaysia.

China is converting these and several of its other artificial islands into naval and air bases to strengthen its claims of sovereignty over nearly the entire resource-rich, strategically located South China Sea.

Bonnie Glaser, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said, “They’ve built these extensive facilities, and both Chinese civilian and [People’s Liberation Army] experts have always made it clear that when the strategic time is right, they’re going to start using them more fully. I think it is a question of when, rather than if, China will start to assert its interests more forcefully in the South China Sea” (Reuters, Oct. 31, 2017).

Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry has said Beijing’s ongoing land reclamation and militarization projects in the South China Sea “should alarm the world.” In his July 2016 cover story, “China Is Steering the World Toward War,” he wrote that this activity will help fulfill a Bible prophecy recorded in Deuteronomy 28:52, which says China and other powers “shall besiege” America and Britain, the modern descendants of ancient Israel. He wrote that China’s ongoing militarization of the South China Sea is one of several areas where we “can already see this prophecy moving toward its fulfillment.”

China and South Korea restore warm relations

China and South Korea agreed on Oct. 31, 2017, to move past a yearlong freeze in their relations that began after South Korea deployed an American antimissile system.

The South Korean government said it allowed the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (thaad) system in response to the growing threat from North Korea, saying that it wants United States forces to be positioned to shoot down any North Korean missiles that endanger South Koreans.

China was angered by the decision, fearing that the same U.S. forces could use the advanced thaad radar to peer across the Yellow Sea and spy on Chinese activities. After the South Koreans ignored Chinese objections, China boycotted South Korea’s tourism, auto, retail, entertainment, cosmetics, confectionary and other sectors that heavily depend on Chinese consumers. The boycott inflicted significant economic damage and led to months of frosty relations between the two nations.

Now, however, the governments representing the world’s second- and 11th-largest economies said that the cold season is over.

“Both sides shared the view that the strengthening of exchange and cooperation between Korea and China serves their common interests and agreed to expeditiously bring exchange and cooperation in all areas back on a normal development track,” the South Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The Trumpet takes a keen interest in efforts by Asian nations to cooperate among themselves, because the Bible prophesies that in the “time of the end” a powerful bloc of Asian nations will join together and fight against other nations in nuclear World War iii. Scripture states that this “kings of the east” conglomerate will field an army of 200 million men (Revelation 16:12; 9:16). Ezekiel 38 lists several specific nations—called by their ancient names—that will be a part of this end-time Asian bloc. Among them is “Magog,” which includes modern China, and “Gomer,” the primary ancestor of modern Korea.