North-Rhine Westphalia Government Saves Catholic Priest Training

Armin Laschet, state premier of North Rhine-Westphalia, stands in front of the Cologne Cathedral.
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North-Rhine Westphalia Government Saves Catholic Priest Training

New agreement with Bochum University points to more Catholic involvement in German politics.

The German state of North Rhine-Westphalia signed an agreement with the Vatican on October 9 to avert the secularization of one of its leading universities. After the Diocese of Essen shifted its priest training program from Bochum University to the seminary of Münster, Bochum’s theology program was close to becoming extinct. But then North-Rhine Westphalian State Premier Armin Laschet, a man who is seen as a possible successor to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, intervened. Laschet saved the religious program by providing needed financial support.

About 750 men and women study Catholic theology at the university. The faculty consists of 12 core professors and covers all areas of theology. Europe’s educational system has become increasingly secular over the last several years, however, and with the priest training program moved, the religious department of the university was close to dying out.

Last May, Laschet visited the Vatican and discussed the increasing secularization of European universities, among other topics. Despite its influence in Europe, the Vatican’s power to change the course of events lies solely in the willingness of politicians to cooperate. Laschet is willing to work with the Vatican to fight Germany’s trend toward secularism. According to the official website of the Roman Catholic Church in Germany, during his visit, Laschet promised to intervene in situations like this.

Laschet is a strong defender of the Catholic faith, whether the threat comes from secularism or other religions. Even as Pope Francis highlighted the importance of dialogue between religions, Laschet emphasized after his private audience with him that emerging Islamic academic chair positions should never “be to the detriment of Christian faculties and chairs.”

Laschet is the head of Germany’s most populous state and is increasingly seen as a very likely candidate to replace Chancellor Merkel. Laschet has recently used his strong political influence to increase Germany’s religious awareness.

“Our society is changing. More than ever before, the urgent questions of our time demand ethical answers,” Laschet said during his visit to the Vatican. “In this regard, theology is essential, because religion also has a social and a political effect. I am all the more pleased that Catholic theology in Bochum still has a permanent place in science.” To ensure that this will not change, Laschet signed a special agreement with the Vatican. The State Chancellery announced:

Minister of State Armin Laschet received the papal nuncio to Germany, Archbishop Nikola Eterović, on Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018, in the state chancellery. Both sides signed diplomatic notes, in which both the Holy See and the state of North Rhine-Westphalia [agreed to promote] Catholic theology in Bochum.

The date of the agreement between North-Rhine Westphalia and the Vatican is the same day that Charlemagne was crowned king of the Franks. On that day, Katholische.de published an article titled “Charlemagne—Founder of Christian Europe,” which stated:

Charlemagne decisively shaped the developing Europe—with a firm hand and political skill, he united the Reich and Christianized the formerly pagan areas. On Oct. 9, 768, he was anointed king.

The fact that the North-Rhine Westphalia-Vatican agreement was signed on the 1,250th anniversary of Charlemagne’s coronation is probably not a coincidence. The tradition of politicians supporting the education of priests in Germany began with Charlemagne. The first religious centers that Charlemagne established for educating priests were in the region now known as North-Rhine Westphalia. Using these trained clerics to secure his power, he spread Catholic Christianity throughout Europe for the first time.

Religion and Politics

While Laschet’s commitment to safeguard religious education may seem to be a minor event, it is a part of a prophesied trend. Prophecies, such as those found in Revelation 13 and 17, show that religion will once again surge in Europe, promoted by Europe’s political leaders.

With Laschet’s support, Catholicism and the history of the Holy Roman Empire are regaining their prominence in North Rhine-Westphalia. In September, 150,000 people came to the five-day Cologne Cathedral Pilgrimage, which included services, music, cultural events and a light show that highlighted the cathedral as a “lighthouse of peace.” Laschet was patron of the project and gave its opening speech. Dean of the Cologne Cathedral, Gerd Bachner, said the number of participants “far exceeded our expectations.”

Just a few hours away, Charlemagne’s Cathedral in Aachen celebrated another major success. Katholishce.de reported on October 1:

The festival week “40 Years of the World Heritage Aachen Cathedral” was attended by approximately 73,000 people, the cathedral chapter announced on Sunday. Provost Manfred von Holtum was delighted with the successful mix of services, concerts and cultural events. Culture and religion belong together, he said at the closing service in the cathedral. “Being Christian is culture.”

At the opening ceremonies on September 23, Laschet and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier gave festival speeches honoring Charlemagne’s heritage.

At Aachen, the religion and politics of Europe united under Charlemagne, forming one of the most significant revivals of the Holy Roman Empire in history. Aachen, according to Steinmeier, had been a “world-historical hinge” in Charlemagne’s time, “recipient and guardian of a great heritage and by itself again the beginning of a new epoch.” German newspaper Aachner Zeitung commented, “After all, the Frank had seen himself as the heir of the Roman Empire, in direct line with Constantine, the first Christian emperor.” The spread of Catholic Christianity, as it originated in Rome, has always relied heavily on the support of political leaders like Charlemagne and Constantine.

In his booklet Who or What Is the Prophetic Beast?, the late Herbert W. Armstrong wrote: “It was Constantine, emperor of the Roman Empire, not a pope, who made Sunday the official so-called Christian day of rest. But it was enforced—people were caused to accept it universally—by the church!” Mr. Armstrong explained that prophecy indicates Sunday rest will again be enforced in our day. For this to happen, Europe needs leadership that is willing to take a stand for the church.

Armin Laschet, like other emerging leaders in Europe, is working diligently to bring Catholicism back into education and politics. To learn more about where this trend is leading, read “The Holy Roman Empire Goes Public—Big Time!”, by Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry.

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Japanese Armor Storms Beach for First Time Since World War II

Japanese Ground Home Defense Forces disembark from their amphibious assault vehicles during a landing exercise at beach of the Philippine Navy training center on the South China Sea, north of Manila, on October 6.
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Japanese Armor Storms Beach for First Time Since World War II

Japan’s amphibious unit is new, but its push for militarism is not.

Roughly 150 Japanese marines in amphibious vehicles stormed a Philippine beach on October 13 as part of the annual Kamandag military exercises. This marked the first time since World War ii that Japanese fighting vehicles have deployed on foreign soil. The Philippines, the United States and Japan participated in this year’s exercise, with Japan demonstrating its new Amphibious Rapid Deployment Unit, a group similar in strategic purpose to the U.S. Marine Corps.

The Amphibious Rapid Deployment Unit consists of roughly 2,100 marines and will continue to grow. According to Nikkei Asian Review, it is specifically designed “to take back islands in the case of a foreign occupation.” At its activation ceremony in early April, Japanese Vice Defense Minister Tomohiro Yamamoto stated, “Given the increasingly difficult defense and security situation surrounding Japan, defense of our islands has become a critical mandate.”

Although Japan labeled Kamandag as a counterterrorism drill, the exercises clearly have an application to China’s increasingly bold behavior in the region. The amphibious landings practiced last week could be used to recapture small islands in the event of “a foreign occupation,” such as China acting on its claim to the Senkaku Islands.

From 2012 to spring 2015, Japan participated in 53 military drills with foreign powers. From April 2015 to June 2018, it held 66. The annual Kamandag exercises in the Philippines usually involve only the militaries of the Philippines and the U.S. Earlier this month, Japan’s amphibious unit also participated in a similar exercise, Operation Keen Sword, with American sailors and marines.

In September, Japan conducted anti-submarine warfare drills within China’s so-called Nine-Dash Line, a region including most of the South China Sea. The drill—involving a Japanese submarine, helicopter carrier and two destroyers—prompted a warning from Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, who cautioned Japan to “refrain from doing anything that will undermine regional peace and stability.” After completing the drills, the submarine made a stopover in Vietnam, which is involved in the South China Sea territorial dispute.

Chinese expansion in the South China Sea concerns the Japanese government and is a motivating factor in Japan’s push for military development. Six nations have claims in the South China Sea, with China the most aggressive and militaristic among them. If it takes full control of the area, which includes vital shipping routes, it will gain a massive amount of economic, political and strategic leverage.

According to Japan’s annual military white paper, “The security environment surrounding Japan has become increasingly severe, with various challenges and destabilizing factors becoming more tangible and acute.” For example, in the first half of 2018, Japan was forced to scramble fighter jets 20 percent more times than the same period in 2017. These conditions compel Japan to militarize, regardless of its pacifist Constitution.

Japan’s solution for Chinese aggression is clear: The military must be strengthened.

Speaking at the Japan Self-Defense Force Day ceremony on October 15, Prime Minister Shinzō Abe pledged to renew his fight to revise the nation’s pacifist Constitution. He told the 4,000 personnel present that they had “gained public trust” and that his responsibility was to create a legal environment where the Self-Defense Force could “accomplish their duties with [a] sense of pride.”

By some estimates, Japan’s military is already the fifth-most powerful in the world. Japan has developed aircraft carriers in all but name; with modifications to their flight decks, Japanese helicopter carriers Kaga and Izumo would be able to launch and recover F-35B stealth fighters. This sends a definite message to China, which is working to expand its navy and has recently deployed its own aircraft carrier.

Herbert W. Armstrong predicted Japan’s return to militarism. “Japan today has no military establishment,” he wrote. “But we should not lose sight of the fact that Japan has become so powerful economically that it could build a military force of very great power very rapidly” (Plain Truth, March 1971).

We ask in our Trend article “Why the Trumpet Watches Japan’s March Toward Militarism”:

For decades, Mr. Armstrong’s forecast could have seemed alarmist to many students of geopolitics. But now—as we see nationalists and hard-liners dismantling Japan’s pacifist architecture and leading a revival of the nationalism, militarism and emperor worship that made Japan an unusually ruthless military machine—that forecast no longer appears far-fetched. It is clear that Mr. Armstrong’s forecast was right! How could he have known?

Mr. Armstrong’s view was informed by specific Bible prophecies. Journalists sometimes mention the biblical word Armageddon found in Revelation 16:16, but it is rare to hear talk of “the kings of the east” discussed in verse 12 of that same chapter. The Bible shows that these “kings of the east” will be a massive bloc of Asian nations that pool their militaries together in the end time. They do this in order to confront another power bloc led by Germany. Revelation 9:16 says that the Asian army will be comprised of a jaw-dropping 200 million soldiers.

For more on why Japan will be part of these “kings of the east,” read “Why the Trumpet Watches Japan’s March Toward Militarism.”

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The Inevitable Spiral Toward War Between Israel and Gaza

Also, Iran increases the range of its land-to-sea ballistic missiles.

At 3:30 on Wednesday morning, red-alert sirens went off in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba, over 40 kilometers (about 25 miles) from Gaza. At that point, one female resident had just one minute to jump out of bed, grab her three children, including an infant, and race to the shelter.

Moments after closing the door, an explosion rattled her house, causing devastating damage.

The cause was a grad rocket fired from the Gaza Strip that packed an unexpectedly huge payload, making the building uninhabitable.

No terror group has taken responsibility for the attack, although the Israeli military said that only Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (both sponsored by Iran) have access to such weaponry.

In response, Israeli jets pounded over 20 sites in Gaza from north to south, including terror tunnels and weapons depots.

On Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with defense officials by the border. After the meeting, he said:

Israel views the attacks along the Gaza border and on Beersheba with the utmost severity. I said at the start of this week’s cabinet meeting that if the attacks don’t stop, we will stop them, and I want to tell you again today that Israel will act with force.

The question that many are wondering in Israel is what exactly do those words mean? It means maintaining the status quo: Jews living under perpetual threat of rocket attacks, and when an attack happens, Israel fights back even harder.

Many fear, and many others hope, that a large-scale Israeli military assault on Gaza is imminent.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman implied on Tuesday that heavy-handed assault was the only solution: “We are not willing to accept the level of violence we see one week after another.” He then added, “A serious blow to Hamas could bring us at least five more years of quiet.”

Israelis understandably want retribution, but if that will only get another five years of calm before another war, it’s not really a solution.

To read about both the failure in Israeli policy regarding the Palestinians and also the future solution to the intractable issue, please request and read Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry’s free booklet Jerusalem in Prophecy.

Iran Increases the Range of Ballistic Missiles

On Tuesday, the semiofficial Iranian Fars News Agency quoted Amirali Hajizedeh, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps airspace division, as saying, “We have managed to make land-to-sea ballistic, not cruise, missiles that can hit any vessel or ship from 700 kilometers.”

The official also claimed that these missiles are equipped with precision-strike capability.

While it’s wise to take Iranian boasts of their capabilities with a grain of salt, there is every reason to believe that the report is accurate, especially in light of Iran’s recent ballistic missile strikes.

Most notable was the strike on September 9, when Iran fired seven Fateh-110 ballistic missiles at a town in northern Iraq in an attack on Kurdish opposition leaders.

What happened? The launch was a perfect success. The missiles flew over 180 miles and hit the building, killing the dissidents.

Iran had stated previously that the Fateh-110 has been retrofitted with “active seeker” technology to better detect ships at sea. This week’s announcement from Iran clearly indicates that it has a strategy to use its missiles to target ships, and now it likely has the technology necessary to do so with precision.

This is a trend we have been watching for some time.

Last year, Trumpet correspondent Callum Wood wrote:

Right now Iran is advancing its means of shutting down the maritime routes that Europe relies upon. Upgrades to the Fateh-110 may seem small, but combined with Iran’s renewed interest in the Bab el-Mandeb, Yemen, the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf, the world ought to take note.

As the article mentions, Iran has a goal to sabotage world shipping through the critical choke points of the Strait of Hormuz and the Bab el-Mandeb at the southern entrance to the Red Sea. The increases in both range and precision of its missiles enable Iran to do just that to a frightening degree.

Read “Iran Tests Improved Ballistic Missiles” in full to get a clear picture of Iran’s strategy. It also discusses the biblical prophecy that actually reveals Iran’s plans for the nations surrounding the Red Sea passageway.

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Asia Militarizes and Unites

The Chinese military parades the hardware used in the Vostok 2018 military exercises held jointly by the Russian Armed Forces and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army at the Tsugol range in Russia on September 13.
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Asia Militarizes and Unites

Listen to the October 18, 2018, episode of the Trumpet Daily Radio Show.

Japanese vehicles storm a foreign beach for the first time since World War ii, and Russia and China hold the biggest military drills in history. What is behind Asia’s militarization and where is it leading? Also on today’s show, what’s behind the Orthodox schism and the bbc asks, “Why is Germany beefing up its military?” Trumpet contributing editor Richard Palmer examines these questions on today’s show.

Subscribe to the Trumpet Daily Radio Show on iTunes, RSS or Stitcher.

Download past episodes here.

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Ukraine on Verge of Orthodox Jihad

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (right) greets Patriarch Filaret of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kiev’s Patriarchy during a mass thanksgiving prayer for granting autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in front of St. Sophia Cathedral in Kiev, Ukraine, on October 14.
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Ukraine on Verge of Orthodox Jihad

Civil war in Ukraine may now involve opposing Eastern Orthodox Churches in open conflict.

In a religious and geopolitical earthquake, the Russian Orthodox Church severed ties with the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople on October 15. This may seem to be an obscure development, but half of the world’s 300 million Eastern Orthodox Christians are members of the Russian Orthodox Church. This severing of relations could be the beginning of the biggest religious conflict in the Orthodox world since the split with Catholicism in a.d. 1054. And it will worsen the antagonism that has produced a five-year war over eastern Ukraine that has no end in sight.

Previously there were 15 Eastern Orthodox churches. The Russian Orthodox Church held jurisdiction in Russia, Ukraine and other former Soviet nations. The current leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, has close ties to the Russian government. Russian President Vladimir Putin has used the Russian Orthodox Church’s influence to Russia’s political advantage. This state of affairs became controversial after Russian-backed insurgents started waging war against the Ukrainian government in 2014.

As the war between Ukraine and Russian-backed insurgents entered its fifth year in April, Ukraine’s parliament petitioned Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew to recognize a new independent Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Bartholomew did so on October 11. But not everyone is happy with the decision. The Russian Orthodox Church opposed the idea, as did a large number of Ukrainians. At least 30 percent of Eastern Orthodox parishes in Ukraine say they would rather remain part of the Russian Orthodox Church. The civil war between pro-Russia and pro-Ukraine factions is now taking on a religious dimension. Pro-Ukrainian forces could soon be fighting not only for political independence from Russia but also with a stronger religious motivation. Pro-Russian forces could soon be crusading for Russian Orthodoxy.

One reason the war in Ukraine has dragged on is due to the lack of decisive intervention and pressure from the other predominantly Roman Catholic countries of Western Europe. Most Catholics in Ukraine want the nation to become independent from Russia, and so support the push for Ukrainian Orthodox independence. Yet the Vatican has remained neutral in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Germany has surrendered Ukraine to Russia by constructing a new natural gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea that bypasses Ukraine completely (allowing Russia to shut off natural gas supplies to Ukraine while still supplying Germany and Western Europe).

The war in Ukraine may escalate as each side starts fighting for its “national” church; it is unlikely that Ukraine will receive much aid from the German-led European Union or the Roman Catholic Church. Yet other Orthodox churches (such as the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, Greek Orthodox Church and Romanian Orthodox Church) may draw closer to Germany and the Vatican in hopes that their parishioners do not suffer the Ukrainian’s fate.

Just as Eastern Europe is being divided between a German-led European Union and a Russian-led Asian union, it is also being divided between the Catholic Church, led by Rome, and the Orthodox Church, increasingly led by Russia.

As amazing as it sounds, these developments were foretold thousands of years ago in the Bible. A passage in Isaiah 47 describes a church called “the lady of kingdoms” that has power over many nations. This church has protesting daughter churches that have split away, but Isaiah prophesies that these protesting daughters will come back under their mother’s control. This mother will rise to prominence in the end time.

A parallel prophecy in Revelation 16 and 17 shows that this mother church will dominate a European power bloc that eventually goes to war with an alliance of eastern kings. These verses indicate that the religious landscape of Eastern Europe will almost certainly be divided between a European power and an Asian alliance. Even though Germany and Russia are currently cooperating, the warring and religious infighting in Ukraine will ultimately contribute to a bitter divide.

For more information on how the Roman Catholic Church is working to unite all Christians under the pope, read “Returning to the Fold.”

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China’s New Stealth Bomber a Game Changer in South China Sea

New pilots of the Chinese Air Force attend the People’s Liberation Army Air Force aviation open day on August 30 in Changchun, Jilin province.
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China’s New Stealth Bomber a Game Changer in South China Sea

‘Shockwaves throughout the U.S. military and the American defense industry’

China’s Hong-20 nuclear stealth bomber is near to making its first flight, military experts told the government-run Global Times on October 9.

“The trial flight will come soon,” military analyst Song Zhongping was quoted as saying. Song said the avionics systems and hydraulics of the revolutionary Hong-20 bombers have apparently passed inspections, which will let the project advance to the next phase of testing.

“The new generation of bombers can carry more bombs than previous H-6K bombers,” Song said earlier this year, adding that the new models “have the advantage of stealth features and are able to strike targets from standoff ranges.”

The Hong-20 (H-20) will boost China’s defensive and offensive capability and give China a “stronger nuclear and conventional deterrence,” he said.

The H-20 has been in development since the early 2000s, and military experts previously compared it to the United States B-2 stealth bomber. But in May, the state-run Aviation Industry Corp. of China released a video teaser believed to show the new aircraft beneath a sheet, and revealing that it may be more comparable to the U.S. Air Force’s more advanced B-21 Raider, which itself is still under development.

The H-20 is equipped to carry at least 10 tons of weaponry with a range of 5,000 miles, giving it considerable advantages over the People’s Liberation Army Air Force’s (plaaf) current H-6 bombers. The H-6 is a Chinese copy of Soviet-era Tu-16 Badgers, which were first flown in 1952.

The War Zone wrote on October 10:

By going straight from that aircraft [H-6 bomber] to the new stealth bomber, China will skip multiple generations of bomber concepts that have come in the interim. Carrying a full-load of CJ-10K air-launched cruise missiles, which can carry a conventional or nuclear warhead, the aircraft could give China an entirely new long-range strategic capability to deter potential opponents.

The bombers could “send shockwaves throughout the U.S. military and the American defense industry, which would move to develop new systems and tactics, techniques and procedures to counter the aircraft,” War Zone wrote. “[T]he bombers could also be critical tools for defending China’s territorial claims in the Pacific Region, especially in the South China Sea.”

The South China Sea is among the world’s most valuable and critical ocean regions. It contains an estimated 11 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. But more importantly, it is the route through which sails $5.3 trillion in trade, 30 percent of total global shipping.

Sections of the sea are claimed by Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Brunei. But China claims nearly the entire sea as its exclusive territory. In recent months, the Chinese have been growing more aggressive in their efforts to assert control over the area.

The most recent example came on September 30 when a Chinese warship sailed within 45 yards of an American destroyer as the U.S. ship was conducting a freedom of navigation operation near the disputed Spratly Island chain. The U.S. vessel was forced to change course to avoid a collision.

“Despite such reckless harassment, the United States Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows and our national interests demand,” U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said in a speech four days after the incident. “We will not stand down.”

But as China accelerates its development, not just of stealth bombers, but also of rail-gun technology, nuclear submarines, hypersonic missiles and general naval capacity, it is fair to ask how long such U.S. determination will last.

As China’s military might continues to rapidly grow, its grip on the South China Sea will tighten. And other powers may be left little choice but to comply.

In May, U.S. Navy Adm. Philip Davidson said China is already “capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States.”

Would the war-weary U.S. be willing to go to war with China to prevent it from asserting full control over this trade route?

Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry has said that China’s tightening grip on the South China Sea is “steering the world toward war.” In the July 2016 Trumpet issue, he wrote:

Since Japan’s defeat in World War ii, America has protected this vital trade route and brought peace to this part of the world. Now the American military is retreating, and other great powers are coming in to fill the vacuum. … China is intimidating the nations of Southeast Asia into submission to its will. It is forcing these countries to do what it wants. Everything is headed in the direction of war.

Mr. Flurry’s analysis of China’s behavior in this region is founded on Bible prophecy.

In Deuteronomy 28:52, God cautions the nations of Israel that if they reject His authority, He will give control over the world’s strategic sea-lanes and sea-gates to their enemies:

And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst, throughout all thy land: and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates throughout all thy land, which the Lord thy God hath given thee.

Mr. Flurry explained that this warning in Deuteronomy is not for ancient peoples. “It is a prophecy for the modern-day descendants of Israel,” he wrote. “Two nations in particular represent Israel in this end time: America and Britain. … This prophecy and several others show that He will send foreign enemies to punish America and Britain!”

China’s rapidly expanding military capacity shows how quickly this prophecy could be fulfilled in the South China Sea.

But Mr. Flurry explained that these disturbing trends are closely tied to the best imaginable news. “All this prophesied destruction is what it will take for God to reach this world!” he wrote. “After this, people will be ashamed—and they will get to know God! Ezekiel repeatedly talked about that inspiring conclusion (e.g. Ezekiel 6:7; 7:4; 11:10; 12:20; 13:9; 23:48-49; etc). Yes, there is a lot of bad news when you consider what it takes to get people to the point of knowing God. But ultimately, the outcome is spectacularly good news!”

To understand the details of these prophecies and the deep hope that is linked to them, request a free copy of Mr. Flurry’s book Ezekiel: The End-Time Prophet.