Misguided Yemen Ceasefire: A Victory for Iran?

Yemeni men gather in the capital Sanaa to show support for the Shiite Houthi movement against the Saudi-led intervention, on December 19.
MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images

Misguided Yemen Ceasefire: A Victory for Iran?

Yemenis cling to any hope of ending their civil war, but Iran has a long history of working around ceasefires.

Iran-backed Houthi rebels and the United Nations-backed Yemeni government have agreed to a ceasefire, which went into effect on December 18 at midnight, local time. So far, the ceasefire has held. Although this agreement satisfies the international community, it stipulates the disengagement of Saudi-backed Yemeni government coalition forces and possibly guarantees the survival of an Iranian presence in Yemen.

According to the terms of the ceasefire, both Houthi rebels and Saudi-backed Yemeni government coalition forces are expected to withdraw from the port city of Hodeidah in 21 days. After the withdrawal, the United Nations will dispatch a peacekeeping force to oversee the safe arrival of humanitarian shipments for Yemen.

The Yemeni civil war began in 2014 with Houthi rebels gaining control of Yemen’s capital city of Sanaa. Unhappy with the proposal to split the country into six federal regions, the Houthis flooded the presidential compound, forced Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi and his cabinet to resign, dissolved the parliament and established a new Revolutionary Committee. President Hadi and his ministers managed to slip out of Sanaa and relocated their government to Aden. In the ongoing conflict, Houthi rebels failed to successfully hold Aden, but gained control of the port of Hodeidah.

This Red Sea port city is a vital transit area for both humanitarian goods to the Yemeni people and Iranian weapons to Houthi rebels. The terms of the ceasefire agreement will hand control over to the United Nations, but despite the loss of this vital port, the real victory for Iran is in the entrenchment of its Houthi proxies in Yemen.

Several Saudi-led air strikes have hit major population centers throughout Yemen, including the city of Hodeidah. According to Amnesty International, these attacks have raised “concerns about compliance with the rules of international humanitarian law.” Further peace talks are expected to be held in January. Concerns over these air strikes could lead to the United Nations calling for Saudi Arabia to stop its support of the Yemeni government.

A similar scenario took place in Syria. The United Nations called for a deescalation, and during that period, the Russia-Iran-backed regime of Bashar Assad took control and fortified its position. In Lebanon, the Hezbollah terrorist group has been left to itself. As a result, it has become entrenched and is now arguably more powerful than the Lebanese military. A similar scenario may transpire in Yemen if the general terms of the current ceasefire remain in place going forward.

Iran has continually supplied the Houthis, although it denies the allegation.

After the UN examined the debris of three missiles launched at Saudi Arabia in March and April, UN Secretary General António Guterres said they found “specific key design features consistent with those of the Iranian Qiam-1 short-range ballistic missile.”

In his June report, Guterres noted the debris from five missiles fired at Saudi Arabia “share key design features” with Iranian missiles, and some components were manufactured in Iran.

Saudi Arabia can’t afford to have an Iranian proxy on its peninsula threatening Red Sea shipping. Now that the ceasefire is in place, the Saudi-led coalition has redirected its efforts to the Houthi-held northern provinces of Saada, Sanaa and Al-Jawf. Many Yemeni people still hope for a truce to end the civil war.

In Libya and Ethiopia in Prophecy, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote, “Yemen is already infested with terrorists. It is located on the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden—and is another strategically powerful country if you are trying to control world trade.” That is exactly what Iran is trying to do.

A prophecy in the book of Daniel names “the king of the south” as a major world power in the last days. Mr. Flurry identifies “the king of the south” as radical Islam, led by Iran, in his booklet The King of the South (request your free copy).

“And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him” (Daniel 11:40). In The King of the South, Mr. Flurry writes, “[Iran] is always pushy in its foreign policy. It pushes until it starts a war. Having such power means that it must be a large oil-producing country.”

The booklet states that Iran became dominant through its policy of state-sponsored terrorism. A primary way Iran does this is through its proxy groups.

Regarding Iran’s growing influence in the Middle East, Stratfor wrote, “Tehran is the rising power and the one filling the vacuum as the Americans leave. It is Tehran that has a strong established network of proxies and covert operatives already in place in key positions across the region.” Yemen is certainly one of those key positions in the world.

Yemen borders the Bab el-Mandeb strait. This waterway is a vital shipping route, which facilitated roughly 4.8 million barrels of oil and petroleum per day in 2016, according to the Energy Information Administration. More than half of that sailed north into the Mediterranean Sea toward Europe and North America.

This strait is important to Saudi Arabia’s economy. According to Bloomberg’s oil tanker tracking data, this year Saudi Arabia has shipped 600,000 barrels of oil per day from the Persian Gulf, around the Arabian Peninsula and through the Bab el-Mandeb en route to Europe and North America.

One aspect of Iran’s “push” is its choke hold on sea-gates like Bab el-Mandeb. If Iran were to gain control of this shipping lane and stop all transit, trade vessels would have to re-route all the way around the southern tip of Africa. This delay would increase the sailing time from the Persian Gulf to Rotterdam by 78 percent and a journey to Italy, which imported 19.7 percent of its crude oil from Iraq in 2016, would take three times as long. Blocking this sea-gate would cause severe problems for the global economy.

This makes it much easier to see why Iran has been so diligent in supporting the Houthi rebels and why ending the Yemeni civil war with Houthis keeping a share of the power would benefit Iran. Iran wants to keep a strong foothold in Yemen. By establishing the Houthis in Yemen and supplying them with ballistic missiles, just as it has done with Hezbollah in Lebanon, Iran is slowly gaining a choke hold on the Bab el-Mandeb. When Iran decides to act, it would be able to use its proxy to fire missiles at ships attempting to pass through the strait.

If this ceasefire lasts and a truce to end the war is settled in January, it would guarantee an Iranian presence just miles from a globally important sea-gate. In this scenario, Iran would be the real victor.

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Japan Increases Military Spending to Expand Its Firepower

A Japan Ground Self-Defense Forces type-16 mobile combat vehicle fires during an annual live fire military exercise at the Higashi-Fuji firing range in Gotemba, at the foot of Mount Fuji in Shizuoka prefecture.
JIJI PRESS/AFP/Getty Images

Japan Increases Military Spending to Expand Its Firepower

Japan is entering a new era of militarism reminiscent of its past.

The Japanese government approved new National Defense Program Guidelines on December 18, under which Japan will significantly boost military spending and capabilities.

The guidelines stipulate the “consolidation of the Ground, Maritime and Air Self-Defense Forces in every field” and “reinforcing their defense capacities with a speed drastically different from the past.”

The new military guidelines put Japan on track to spend $240 billion on military procurement over the next five years, an increase of more than 10 percent over the previous five-year period. This dramatic boost in military spending will focus on acquiring missile defense systems, long-range cruise and hypersonic missiles, stealth fighter jets, and aircraft carriers.

In order to counter perceived threats from China and North Korea, the guidelines prioritize the acquisition of long-range missiles and a new missile defense system. The guidelines also include plans to adapt Japan’s helicopter destroyers into aircraft carriers. “We will refit Maritime Self-Defense Force multipurpose helicopter destroyers so fighter jets capable of short takeoffs and vertical landings can be deployed when necessary,” the document states. It also specifies plans to buy 105 additional F-35 multirole fighter jets, about 42 of which are F-35Bs, the variant capable of short takeoffs from the flat-decked Izumo ships. These fighter jets will also give Japan stealth capabilities for the first time.

In response to the threat posed by China, Japan is also developing technology to defend its satellites in space. Japan will need the “capability to prevent attackers from using cyberspace,” the guidelines state. The vulnerability of Japan’s satellites could endanger its national security in case of a Chinese cyberattack. The government is exploring satellite-jamming technology to block these threats.

The spending boost shows that Japan is entering a new era of militarism. The last time this advanced nation armed itself, it launched an aggressive and largely effective campaign to dominate East Asia and the Pacific, instigating massive bloodshed during World War ii. After the war, the United States and its allies banned Japan from maintaining a military in order to prevent a repetition of its wartime savagery. Article 9 of Japan’s postwar Constitution states that the “Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation.” This clause outlawed Japan from maintaining “land, sea and air forces, as well as other war potential.” Now the Japanese government is preparing to buy $240 billion in missile defense systems, cruise missiles, hypersonic missiles, stealth aircraft and aircraft carriers. The size and scope of Japan’s military today are more and more closely resembling that of its militaristic past.

In 1971, when Japan was still largely pacifist, Plain Truth editor in chief Herbert W. Armstrong proclaimed to the world that the Asian nation would once again build its military and become a strong power. He wrote in the March 1971 issue:

Japan today has no military establishment. … 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.

Mr. Armstrong based his forecast on Bible prophecy showing that in the end time, Japan will be part of a bloc of Asian nations called “the kings of the east” (Revelation 16:12). Ezekiel 38 shows that a massive bloc of Asian nations, led primarily by Russia and secondarily by China, will form during the end time. Verse 6 says that “Gomer” and “Togarmah”—the ancient names of the people living in modern-day Japan—will be part of this Asian alliance. This indicates that Japan will rebuild its military and join Russia and China in an alliance.

To understand why the Trumpet watches Japan’s march toward militarism, please request your free copies of Russia and China in Prophecy and He Was Right. These two booklets show what is ahead for Japan and the rest of the world and will provide more details about how Bible prophecy forecasts Japan’s remilitarization, providing you with a Bible-based understanding of geopolitics few have.

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America’s Withdrawal From Syria—and the Middle East

U.S. forces, accompanied by Kurdish People’s Protection Units fighters, drive their armoured vehicles near the northern Syrian village of Darbasiyah, on the border with Turkey on April 28, 2017.
DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images

America’s Withdrawal From Syria—and the Middle East

Breaking with advisers and generals, President Trump decides to pull troops out of Syria. Is this the beginning of the end of American power in the Middle East?

jerusalem
United States President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that all American forces will soon be withdrawn from Syria. In a video released on Twitter, Mr. Trump declared victory over the Islamic State and, as a result, has determined to withdraw the 2,000 troops currently inside Syrian territory.

“We have defeated isis in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump presidency,” Mr. Trump tweeted, which was quickly followed by the video.

According to U.S. officials, planning has already begun to pull out the troops as soon as possible, although a timetable has not been given.

While certain supporters of President Trump will be glad to bring American troops home, the seemingly snap decision by the president has provoked widespread criticism among conservative Middle East commentators who worry that a U.S. withdrawal will result in greater dominance of Syria by Iran and Russia.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said he was blindsided by the report and called the decision “a disaster in the making.” Sen. Marco Rubio, one of the most knowledgeable lawmakers on Iran, called it “a major blunder” and a “colossal mistake.” Rubio asserted that if the decision “isn’t reversed, it will haunt this administration and America for years to come.”

Longtime Middle East commentator Jonathan Schanzer wrote on Twitter, “With his decision on Syria, Trump has effectively handed Syria to Russia, Iran, Assad, Hezbollah and Turkey. Obama’s redline debacle was a dark day for American leadership in the Middle East. This is far worse.”

While the Islamic State’s defeat in Syria is debatable, the decision to “bring the boys home” also goes contrary to all previous comments by Trump administration officials, indicating that President Trump unilaterally made the decision himself.

As recently as nine days ago, the president’s own special envoy to the anti-Islamic State coalition told a press conference that the U.S. would remain in Syria after the defeat of the Islamic State. “I think it’s fair to say Americans will remain on the ground after the physical defeat of the caliphate until we have the pieces in place to ensure that that defeat is enduring,” Bret McGurk told reporters on December 11. “Nobody is declaring a mission accomplished. Defeating a physical caliphate is one phase of a much longer-term campaign.” He also said, “Obviously, it would [be] reckless to say that the physical caliphate is defeated so that we can just leave now. I think anyone that has looked at a conflict like this would agree with that.”

Along with McGurk, National Security Adviser John Bolton said as late as September that the U.S. would maintain a military presence in Syria as long as Iran is there. “We’re not going to leave as long as Iranian troops are outside Iranian borders, and that includes Iranian proxies and militias.”

Given that it seems most of Mr. Trump’s advisers were against the move, and some didn’t even see it coming, it’s likely his decision is not part of a grand plan that involves Syria, or even the Middle East, but was rather made for some political reason. Regardless of Mr. Trump’s motivation, the withdrawal will have an immediate and long-lasting effect on the Middle East.

Only 2,000 Troops?

Criticism of Trump’s decision could be considered overblown, given that there are only 2,000 American troops in Syria to begin with. But an American ground presence in a battle zone, no matter the size of the contingent, is a stabilizing effect and a deterrent. This is undoubtedly true in the complicated Syrian war, especially for the Kurds in north Iraq, which is why many are viewing Trump’s decision as a betrayal of the Kurds.

American forces in Syria have sought to train and equip Kurdish forces in the fight against the Islamic State. The Kurds had proved themselves to be one of the most effective ground forces in the fight. However, American support of the Kurds has long upset Turkey, which is worried that a stronger Kurdish entity in Syria could destabilize the Kurdish population inside Turkey. Turkey’s own military mission inside Syria has been to ensure the Kurds do not become too powerful. American forces embedded with the Kurds have deterred Turkey, Iran and Russia from attacking.

Bloomberg View’s Eli Lake wrote that Trump’s decision could be seen as a capitulation to Turkey and an abandonment of a U.S. ally:

Capitulating now to Turkish demands would send a terrible message. [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan would conclude that threatening U.S. interests pays off. Meanwhile, other groups that have joined the American side in the Middle East would conclude the U.S. is an unreliable ally. It’s particularly galling to contemplate a withdrawal just as Kurdish forces are engaged in fierce fighting to liberate one of the last Islamic State holdouts, the town of Hanin.

That Turkey was factored into the Trump decision was further elucidated when the State Department announced late Tuesday that it had finally approved the sale of a $3.5 billion Patriot missile system to Turkey after significant delays.

Yet more than just an apparent capitulation to Turkey, the American withdrawal from Syria will benefit Iran.

Ceding Syria to Iran

Along with the training mission of the Kurds, the United States currently occupies a base in an extremely important strategic location on the Syria-Iraq border. The Al-Tanf base is a launching pad for many missions against the Islamic State, but it also serves a more important function as a roadblock that prevents Iran from controlling a highway for hauling illicit arms to the Syrian regime and Hezbollah through Iraq.

As we reported in the November-December issue of the Trumpet, Iran desires to control the vast swath of land from Iran, across Iraq, Syria and into Lebanon. Completing this “Shia Cresent,” as it has been called, is one of the major reasons for Iran’s involvement in Syria’s civil war.

Up until Trump’s withdrawal announcement, preventing Iran from controlling this Shia Crescent seemed to be one of the main post-Syrian war strategic objectives for the U.S. While the stated objective of the Al-Tanf base was to be a staging ground for strikes against the Islamic State, it also acted as an important buffer between Iranian forces in Syria and Iraq.

Notice what Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command, said during a visit to the base on October 22:

… [W]e don’t have a counter Iranian mission here. We have a defeat [the Islamic State] mission. But I do recognize that our presence, our developments of partners and relationships down here does have an indirect effect on some malign activities that Iran and their various proxies and surrogates would like to pursue down here.

With Trump’s withdrawal and the subsequent removal of the Al-Tanf military base, Iran will have largely achieved its objective to control the roadway from Iran to Lebanon. As Tony Badran wrote in usa Today on Wednesday, “Already, Iranian-led Shiite militias are operating at the edges of the U.S. zone and could move in swiftly and connect the Iraqi and Syrian terrains. This would provide Iran with overland routes to deliver advanced weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon, while building up offensive capabilities in Syria, including in the south, along the country’s border with Israel.”

Break Between Trump and Israel

To most with knowledge on the subject, this is a severe strategic blunder, the effect of which will be felt mostly by Israel.

A U.S. withdrawal “would mean that the Assad forces and the Iranians will have full control over Syria, and this would mean that they may try to deliver weapons from Iran through Iraq to Syria and then to Lebanon. And there’s not going to be anything in between to stop them,” Brig. Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser (Ret.), a former director of Israel’s Strategic Affairs Ministry, told the Times of Israel on Wednesday. He continued, “Especially the Iranians are going to be empowered and feel much stronger.”

According to Israel’s Channel 10, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was deeply disappointed by the announcement and tried hard to convince Mr. Trump to reconsider the move. But the U.S. president reportedly refused to reconsider.

Publicly, Mr. Netanyahu’s comments were more muted. He released a statement saying, “I spoke with U.S. President Donald Trump [on Monday] and yesterday with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who told me that it was the president’s intention to withdraw their forces from Syria and made it clear that they had other ways to express their influence in the arena. This is, of course, America’s decision ….”

Nevertheless, Mr. Trump’s decision to pull out of Syria is seen by some in Israel as a major setback in a largely positive relationship between Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Trump.

As Raphael Ahren wrote on Wednesday, “Ending the American presence in Syria, leaving Israel alone to deal with Iran, Hezbollah and Russia, thus marks the first major setback in the hitherto harmonious U.S.-Israel relationship.”

What Does Bible Prophecy Say?

The Trumpet has frequently written about the prophetic implications of the Syrian civil war.

Mostly we discuss how Bible prophecy indicates that Iran will eventually lose its position of power in Syria and be replaced by a resurgent and dominant German-led Europe. Indeed it is important to now watch for Europe’s reaction to an American withdrawal. Considering the Europeans’ continued vulnerability to refugees from war-trodden Syria, and its growing understanding of the danger posed by Iranian hegemony in the Middle East, they might want to replace the United States at the Al-Tanf base.

However, there is a more powerful prophetic trend at play here. In fact, it is this prophetic trend that actually provides the environment for all other prophecies in the Middle East to even take place.

That prophecy: the complete withdrawal of American power from the entire Middle East.

The U.S. is currently experiencing a prophesied temporary resurgence under the leadership of President Trump. (For more on this, please read Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry’s article “Saving America From the Radical Left—Temporarily.”) However, this brief period of resurgence will swiftly give way to a stunning collapse.

Far from maintaining its superpower status throughout the Trump presidency, the Bible actually shows that the U.S. will withdraw from the world scene to deal with increasingly worrying domestic problems.

Hosea 5:13 states, “When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah saw his wound, then went Ephraim to the Assyrian, and sent to king Jareb: yet could he not heal you, nor cure you of your wound.”

Explaining this verse in his booklet Jerusalem in Prophecy, Mr. Flurry writes, “The Hebrew clearly indicates that both Israel and Britain go to Germany for help. Both Judah and Britain are in danger of falling. By this point, America will be too weak and too sick itself to help.”

Naturally, if Israel was in trouble, it would reach out to its ally the U.S. However, this prophecy shows that America will be too preoccupied with its own problems to help Israel. By this time, Israel would have been let down so much by the U.S., that it has no choice but to go to a historic enemy for help: Assyria (modern-day Germany).

Mr. Trump’s withdrawal from Syria, even while his greatest ally Israel is threatened by Iran, sets a powerful prophetic precedent of American withdrawal not only from the Middle East, but also from the world.

Many in the world, and even in the U.S., will rejoice that President Trump is bringing troops home. But the decision presages more American retreat from the world stage. As these prophecies are being fulfilled, it’s important to take time to study about where events are leading. To get a clear picture of the United States’ role in end-time events, please read Gerald Flurry’s free booklet Great Again.

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South Africa on Brink of Race War

Black First Land First leader Andile Mngxitama speaks as blf members picket outside the offices of MiWay Insurance Co. in Centurion on July 21, 2017.
PHILL MAGAKOE/AFP/Getty Images

South Africa on Brink of Race War

Communist Black First Land First President Mngxitama to cheering crowd: ‘We’ll kill anything.’

A South African politician is demanding that his followers kill white people. At a rally in Potchefstroom on December 9, Andile Mngxitama told a cheering crowd, “For each one [black] person that is being killed by the taxi industry, we will kill five white people.”

Mngxitama is the president of Black First Land First, a Communist party that demands the seizure of white-owned land without compensation. His violent comments were referring to turf wars between taxi associations and individual minibus drivers.

“You kill one of us, we’ll kill five white people,” Mngxitama shouted. “We’ll kill their children; we’ll kill their women; we’ll kill their dogs; we’ll kill their cats; we’ll kill anything.”

Mngxitama is a Marxist revolutionary who was expelled from Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters in 2015 for accusing Malema of being soft on land reform. That is quite an accomplishment, considering that Malema was tried by South Africa’s Equality Court for singing a song that calls for the shooting of white farmers with machine guns.

Like Mngxitama, Malema also wants blacks to confiscate white-owned land without compensation. But he is not openly calling for the slaughter of whites yet. “I’m saying to you, we’ve not called for the killing of white people, at least for now. I can’t guarantee the future,” Malema said in an interview with trt World, published June 9.

When the interviewer asked him if he understood that some might interpret his words as a call to genocide, Malema responded, “Crybabies, crybabies! I can’t give you a guarantee of the future. Especially when things are going the way they are. If things are going the way they are, there will be a revolution in this country, I can tell you now. There will be an unled revolution, and an unled revolution is the highest form of anarchy.”

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa also believes white-owned land should be confiscated without compensation. He called the taking of land from the indigenous people of South Africa the nation’s original sin last February and has made land reforms a main part of his leadership plan. Now South Africa’s National Assembly has approved a proposal to amend the Constitution and begin such land seizures next March.

Yet contrary to claims that white settlers stole black land, the Cape Colony was mostly uninhabited when the Dutch settled there in 1652. The Dutch shared this land with a small number of Khoikhoi herdsmen for several years. Battles over grazing rights did eventually break out between the Dutch and Khoikhoi. But the Bantu tribes that comprise most of South Africa’s black population today did not even arrive in the region until a century later.

Politicians are distorting history to unite blacks against those of European descent.

Ramaphosa says he will not allow “smash-and-grab” land seizures, but Bible prophecy shows that Mngxitama’s horrifying vision of violent revolution will become reality.

The late Herbert W. Armstrong explained in his book The United States and Britain in Prophecy that the Anglo-Saxon peoples who settled the United States and the United Kingdom are the descendants of ancient Israel. The British, Dutch and French peoples who settled in South Africa are also descended from Israel. This means that the Bible’s end-time prophecies concerning Israel are directed at its modern descendants (principally the United States, Britain and the modern Middle Eastern nation of Israel, as well as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and other nations).

A sobering prophecy in Ezekiel describes a time of violence and race war soon to afflict these nations. “Make a chain: for the land is full of bloody crimes, and the city is full of violence. Wherefore I will bring the worst of the heathen, and they shall possess their houses: I will also make the pomp of the strong to cease; and their holy places shall be defiled. Destruction cometh; and they shall seek peace, and there shall be none” (Ezekiel 7:23-25).

The word “heathen” in this passage isn’t an insult. It comes from the Hebrew word gowy and means non-Israelite. But the “worst of the heathen” refers to the type of non-Israelites who pledge to kill people, kill their women, kill their children, kill their dogs, and kill their cats. This prophecy in Ezekiel says that so many bloody crimes will occur in the end time that they will be like links in a chain—one following right after another. It describes the seizure of people’s homes and conflict between Israelites and non-Israelites: race war.

But this passage should not be misinterpreted as a call to arms. This time of violence is coming because of the “abominations” or sins of the people (verses 1-3). The Israelite people have a 4,000-year history with God, yet they have forgotten Him and turned away from His laws. Therefore, God says, “I will do unto them after their way, and according to their deserts will I judge them; and they shall know that I am the Lord” (verse 27).

God’s great desire is to teach all races and nationalities the way to peace. If mankind would only repent and obey God’s commandments, we would not have to experience such horrific crimes. But the human heart is hard and too proud to admit that it does not know the way to peace, happiness and stability. Therefore, all who do not voluntarily repent before the coming Great Tribulation will have to be humbled the hard way. God can only teach knowledge to those of a poor and contrite spirit, to those who tremble at His Word.

To learn more about how the prophecies of Ezekiel are part of God’s master plan, leading to the wonderful Kingdom of God, read Ezekiel: The End-Time Prophet, by Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry.

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The Inspiring Story of an Unarmed Soldier and the Lives He Saved

Corp. Desmond Doss receives the Medal of Honor from President Harry S. Truman on Oct. 12, 1945.
Public Domain

The Inspiring Story of an Unarmed Soldier and the Lives He Saved

World War ii was the deadliest war in history—and it tested the greatness of millions of men. One of them rose to greatness in a most unusual way.

The following is from the Trumpet Brief sent out yesterday. These daily e-mails contain personal messages from the Trumpet staff. Click here to join the over 20,000 members of our mailing list, so you don’t miss another message.

I want to tell you a story of greatness. Winston Churchill said one of the grandest lessons of history was that the test of greatness is politics and war. The epic trials and challenges of politics and war test and expose and inspire greatness like no other arena.

World War ii was the deadliest war in history—and it tested the greatness of millions of men. One of them rose to greatness in a most unusual way.

He was an American soldier, but he never picked up a weapon. He read the Bible, and he believed the Sixth Commandment: Thou shalt not kill. Still, he was determined to serve his country, and he managed to become a medic. He served in combat in the Pacific theater.

This man faced terrible opposition and persecution from his fellow soldiers, but he remained committed to serving them and his country. He was an example of remarkable selflessness and courage, off the battlefield and on it. He was the only conscientious objector in American history to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor—for heroic deeds more unbelievably heroic than a Hollywood movie.

I find several lessons of this man’s life extremely inspiring, and relevant for those of us engaged in doing God’s work today.

I tell his story—and several lessons we can take from it—on today’s Trumpet Hour.

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An Unholy Alliance to Save Persecuted Christians

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An Unholy Alliance to Save Persecuted Christians

Chancellor Kurz, Archbishop Schönborn and Middle Eastern patriarchs join forces.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz hosted leaders of Christian churches in Iraq and Syria on December 11 to discuss the persecution of Christians in the Middle East. Leaders included Patriarch of Babylon Louis Raphael Sako of the Chaldean Catholic Church, Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem ii of the Syrian Orthodox Church and Patriarch Ignatius Yousef iii Younan of the Syrian Catholic Church. Christian communities across the region have faced heavy, violent persecution and may be exterminated unless something is done to save them.

The patriarchs first discussed the persecution of Middle Eastern Christians with Austrian Archbishop Christoph Schönborn. At a press conference afterward, they emphasized that Schönborn is “very familiar with the situation of oriental Christians” and has shown great solidarity with churches in the region through his frequent visits.

Accompanied by Schönborn, the three oriental patriarchs then briefed Kurz in the Austrian Federal Chancellery about the situation facing Christians in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.

Due to the Islamic State and other radical Islamic groups, the number of Christians in Iraq has declined dramatically in recent years. In 2003, approximately 1 million Christians lived in Iraq. Today, the estimates range between 200,000 and 300,000. The destruction of church buildings has caused worshipers to scatter and flee the country. Increased persecution led many remaining Christians to convert to Islam or be killed. The few remaining Christians of the Chaldean Catholic Church, the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Syriac Catholic Church and the Church of the East live in fear.

The situation is similar in Syria. In 2010, 10 percent of the Syrian population claimed the Christian faith. Today, Christians make up only about 3.5 percent of the population. Since the Syrian civil war began in 2011, the number of Christians in the country has declined from 1.5 million to around 500,000, according to optimistic estimates. Present in Syria are the Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Greek Catholic and Syriac Orthodox churches.

“According to studies by nongovernmental aid organizations, Christians are, in numbers, the most persecuted religious group with around 200 million people. Moreover the persecution of Christians has increased massively in recent decades,” Kurz tweeted on December 12 (Trumpet translation throughout).

The Austrian government has committed to fight internationally against the persecution of religious minorities, especially Christian minorities. It has also specifically stated that the government would act against religious extremist ideologies, such as political Islamism.

Austria is now taking its first significant action to help Christian minorities. On December 12, the Austrian Council of Ministers granted €1 million (us$1.1 million) to support persecuted Christians in the Middle East. The payment from the federal government goes to the Austrian Bishops’ Conference led by Cardinal Schönborn.

In a joint effort with the Austrian Bishops’ Conference, the Austrian government “intends to become more active in helping persecuted Christians,” Vatican News reported. “The current assistance in the form of €1 million is thereby a first step.” Kurz said that some of the funds would be used in aid projects in education.

Kurz is not the only high-ranking Catholic leader in Europe who has recently spoken out against the Islamic persecution of Christians. Manfred Weber, who is running for the European Commission presidency, has also urged Europe to act.

More and more leaders in Europe are seeing themselves in a confrontation with radical Islam. French President Emmanuel Macron has sought to strengthen the Catholic faith of his citizens, and at the same time is fighting against Islamic terrorism in France and the Islamic State abroad.

Europe’s top leaders are starting to push back at radical Islam. The radical Islamic attacks within Europe and Europe’s push back against the radicals in the Middle East mean a violent religious conflict is developing.

A religious-based violent conflict may seem strange to many; perhaps it seems to be a relic of the past. But this is where the recent clashes are heading. Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote in the January 2011 Trumpet issue, “The last crusade” is yet ahead.

The Bible describes this conflict. “And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over” (Daniel 11:40). “The time of the end” refers to the end of this current age of human history (Galatians 1:4-6).

As early as 1992, Mr. Flurry indicated that Iran was rising as “the king of the south” who would lead other radical Islamic nations. In the July 2013 Trumpet, he wrote:

Iran is the number one terrorist-sponsoring nation in the world. It has helped the Muslim Brotherhood take over Egypt. It is providing aid to Syria, where the government is terrorizing its own people. It is involved with al Qaeda in gaining control over Libya. It supports terrorists in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip that are attacking Israel. It is behind strikes on allied forces in Afghanistan. It is deeply entrenched in Iraq, and is pushing its Islamist agenda in other nations throughout the region and beyond. It is defying the will of the Western world by continuing to develop its nuclear program.

As the Islamic State rose to power in 2014 and 2015, Mr. Flurry warned again that the Islamic State was only a distraction from the much larger threat posed by Iran. While the Islamic State is now largely destroyed, Iran keeps expanding its terrorist regime, which leads to, among other things, the persecution of various Christian groups.

Now European leaders are beginning to turn to their own religions and oppose radical Islam. If European leaders want to stop political Islamism, they have to stop Iran. And the only way to stop Iran is with superior military force. Europe is building up its military and employing a strategy to surround Iran. You can learn more about these developments by ordering your free copy of The King of the South, by Gerald Flurry.

While tens of thousands of persecuted Christians are currently running for their lives today, the tides are about to turn against radical Islam.

Revelation 17 prophesies of 10 kings to rise in Europe. Verse 18 describes a woman that rules “over the kings of the earth.” A woman in Bible prophecy is a symbol of a church (Ephesians 5). This is not God’s true Church, but rather a false church (Isaiah 47). There is only one church that fits this description: the Roman Catholic Church, which ruled Europe’s emperors for centuries. (To learn more about the interplay between the Catholic Church and European politics today, read Mr. Flurry’s article “The Holy Roman Empire Goes Public—Big Time!”) This woman is prophesied to lead Europe into another crusade, one last time.

For more information on where this crusade will lead the world, request The King of the South.