WorldWatch

From the July 2019 Trumpet Print Edition

A fire in the heart of Europe

The burning of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on April 15 arrested the attention of France, Europe and the world. Melissa Mackenzie, publisher of the American Spectator, wrote, “The images from the burning of Notre Dame provoke the same sort of heart-heavy dread as the 9/11 images. … It feels like we’re witnessing the end of Christianity and Western civilization.”

The reaction to the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral is a powerful reminder that the Catholic Church remains at the heart of Western civilization.

The Catholic religion has influenced every facet of Western society, from art and music to science to the measurement of time to annual holidays. Its influence over Europe is even more extensive.

The front-page news of the cathedral fire reminds the world that Europe has been a Catholic stronghold for 1,000 years. For many, it also symbolizes the threats to European Catholicism from secularism, from mass migration of Muslim migrants, and from Islamist extremism. Many wondered if the fire was an act of terrorism, but it has since been linked to renovation work. People see pictures of Notre Dame burning and feel like they’re “witnessing the end of Christianity and Western civilization,” because they already fear they have been witnessing the end of Christianity and Western civilization.

But the outpouring of grief over Notre Dame shows the fight is not over yet. Catholicism still holds deep meaning for many, and given the right threats—and the right leadership—biblical prophecy shows that European Catholicism will come roaring back. To learn more, read “Will Europe Rediscover Its Christian Identity?

The fringe is in

Dutch populist Thierry Baudet and his Forum for Democracy party stunned the Netherlands on March 20. It won the most votes in provincial elections to become the nation’s largest party, taking seats from Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s center-right party and the ruling coalition.

Three weeks later on April 14, a fringe party the media labeled far-right came within a whisker of winning Finland’s election. The Finns Party won 39 seats in Parliament and 17.5 percent of the total vote compared to the Social Democrats’ 17.7 percent.

In Spain, the far-right Vox party made its debut in parliament on April 29, after winning 10 percent of the vote in elections held the previous day. No far-right party has entered Spain’s parliament since the nation became a democracy in 1975. This development marks a new era in Spanish politics.

In Germany, recent polls show that the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) is now the most popular party in the former East Germany. If the trend continues, AfD will win throughout the east in state elections this fall, which could hasten Chancellor Angela Merkel’s exit.

Each country is unique, but across the Continent, the trend is clear: The fringe is growing. Europeans are increasingly fed up with politics as usual and are voting for parties that openly advocate a new political system.

Bible prophecy states that Europe will soon undergo a political revolution, from which an empire of 10 nations will emerge. These elections show the clear appetite for such a revolution.

Catholic Bishop: ‘Islam will invade the world’

A high-ranking cardinal in the Catholic Church has made it his mission to open Europe’s eyes to the dangers posed by Muslim immigrants.

“As a bishop, it is my duty to warn the West,” said Cardinal Robert Sarah, the Vatican’s prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

In an April 5 interview, Sarah compared the modern influx of Muslim migrants to the invasions of barbarian tribes that ultimately brought down the Roman Empire in A.D. 476. If Europe’s policies toward Muslim migrants don’t change, Sarah warned, Europe will be “invaded by foreigners, just as Rome has been invaded by barbarians. … If Europe disappears, and with it the priceless values of the Old Continent, Islam will invade the world.”

The number of migrants fleeing to Europe has fallen dramatically since 2015, when Europe recorded its highest number of arrivals at more than 1 million. However, Cardinal Sarah warns that fresh arrivals of Muslim immigrants are not the only problem. He also cited the disparity between the birth rate of native Europeans and Muslims in Europe. “If the West continues in this fatal way,” he said, “there is a great risk that, due to a falling birthrate, it will disappear.”

Daniel 11:40 prophesies that Europe will be provoked by an aggressive king of the south. Iran is drawing closer and closer to having nuclear weapons by which it could threaten the West. Terrorist attacks are occurring in Europe. Islam is literally pushing into Europe in the form of migrants who refuse to assimilate. But when Islam pushes too far, Europe will push back.

Is South Africa the next Venezuela?

Eskom, South Africa’s dysfunctional state-run energy monopoly, cast a dark shadow across the nation in February and March when it reinstituted widespread “load shedding”—periodically shutting off power to alternating towns and villages to ensure demand for power does not exceed supply and cause the entire grid to fail. The company faced high costs, low revenues, deteriorating infrastructure and corrupt management.

Energy analyst expert Chris Yelland said that a severe power shortage would undoubtedly cause widespread “looting and civil unrest.” According to Goldman Sachs, Eskom is the biggest single threat to South Africa’s economy.

Between 1960 and 1990, Eskom increased its power production capacity 10-fold. In fact, South Africa in general experienced tremendous development and progress, thanks in large part to its mineral wealth and fertile land.

That prosperity directly fulfilled unconditional promises God had made for the patriarch Abraham’s descendants, which today include a significant part of South Africa, British Commonwealth nations and the United States. The continuation of this prosperity depended on obedience, which is lacking in these nations.

South Africa today is closer to Venezuela-type conditions than many people realize. The reasons for this situation are biblical, as our book The United States and Britain in Prophecy explains.

U.S.: IRGC is a terrorist organization

It’s now official: Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is a terrorist organization.

On April 8, the United States State Department formally designated the IRGC as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO), acknowledging that the Iranian regime is not only a state sponsor of terrorism but also a perpetrator of terrorism.

“This designation will be the first time that the United States has ever named a part of another government as an FTO,” U.S. President Donald Trump said in a statement. “It underscores the fact that Iran’s actions are fundamentally different from those of other governments. This action will significantly expand the scope and scale of our maximum pressure on the Iranian regime.”

The IRGC is a military unit of 125,000 members, operating alongside the official Iranian military and answering directly to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. It often boasts that it spends more than $1 billion a year to fund terrorism across the world via proxies like Hezbollah, the Houthis and Iraqi militias, even as the Iranian economy falters. According to Brian Hook, U.S. special representative for Iran, between 2003 and 2011 the IRGC was responsible for 17 percent of all deaths of American personnel in Iraq—at least 608 American servicemen.

Bloomberg wrote that, by designating the Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organization, “the U.S. government has formally recognized that a key part of Iran’s military [and economy] is legally indistinguishable from the terrorist groups it has been sponsoring for decades. Trump’s strategy, unlike his predecessor’s, begins with the premise that Iran is an outlaw state—and treats it as such until it changes its behavior” (April 8).

As sound as this strategy is, Bible prophecy states that it will not change the Iranian regime.

Iran leads the biblical “king of the south” mentioned in Daniel 11:40. This radical Islamist alliance will include Iraq, as well as nations along the western coastline of the Red Sea and the southern Mediterranean, including Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Libya. Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry’s booklet The King of the South expounds more on how this will happen.

Russia intervenes in Venezuela

Two Russian Air Force planes arrived in Venezuela’s capital of Caracas on March 23, carrying military equipment, almost 100 soldiers and the chief of staff of Russian ground forces. The move emboldened the regime of Venezuelan despot Nicolás Maduro, who was reportedly considering giving up power, and helped him neutralize the massive street demonstrations of impoverished Venezuelans.

Since Maduro came into power in 2013, Venezuela has spiraled into the worst economic crisis of its history. In January, as Venezuelans protested Maduro’s rigging of the 2018 election, opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president. The United States and most European and Latin American nations support Guaido. But Maduro still controls Venezuela’s military and has the support of China, Cuba and Russia. Russia’s leadership has sworn to block any attempts to oust Maduro.

Just across the Caribbean Sea, Venezuela is becoming a staging ground for a future besiegement of America. As alarming as this sounds, Bible prophecy shows that such a besiegement will soon happen. Around 2,700 years ago, God inspired the Prophet Isaiah to write about a trade alliance—“a mart of nations”—that would emerge in the end time (Isaiah 23:3). As our article on page 4 explains, this alliance will be led by European and Asian powers. The influence Russia, China and Europe are building in Venezuela and elsewhere in Latin America will play a key role in this prophesied besiegement.

Worst agricultural disaster in modern U.S. history

Severe storms devastated the American Midwest this spring. On May 1, heavy rains caused the Mississippi River to overflow its banks. This catastrophic flooding swamped America’s agricultural heartland less than two months after heavy rains submerged more than 1 million acres of American farmland.

AccuWeather estimates that flooding in the Midwest has caused $12.5 billion in economic losses—the worst agricultural disaster in modern U.S. history.

Many are saying this latest weather disaster is caused by man-made climate change caused by the burning of fossil fuels, but consider a few verses in Deuteronomy 28.

“And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I command thee this day … The Lord shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand” (verses 1, 12).

The fact that America is not experiencing rain in due season is a sign from God that the nation is not keeping “all his commandments.” If you believe the Bible, you must recognize the link between the conditions that are overtaking us and our disobedience to God—our sins. Not our “sins” of fossil fuel consumption, but sins like blasphemy, adultery and lust, idolatry, covetousness and materialism. God intends that these curses help us see the error of our ways.

China controls, weaponizes rare earth minerals

Three United States senators reintroduced legislation on April 5 to reduce U.S. reliance on imports of Chinese rare earth minerals, metals necessary for manufacturing most high-tech products.

Until the late 1990s, most rare earth minerals were processed in America. But as the U.S. government enacted more environmental regulations, the cost of processing them increased. American processing operations closed down, and China stepped up, exploiting cheap labor and lax environmental regulations. Now, China controls between 90 and 97 percent of the globe’s rare earth minerals supply, and it uses government subsidies to maintain its monopoly.

This monopoly gives China great power over other nations. And the senators’ efforts may be too late to prevent China from undermining the U.S. and its technology-dependent military.

Late educator Herbert W. Armstrong proved in his book The United States and Britain in Prophecy that the U.S. and Britain are the descendants of ancient Israel. He showed that God promised these two nations “possession of the Earth’s choicest agricultural, mineral and other wealth.” God gave America and Britain dominance over the world’s rare earth minerals, helping ensure that these nations would become economic and military superpowers. But the American and British peoples have turned away from God’s law, taken credit for their wealth and power, and chosen to rely on their militaries for defense. Now they have lost control of the critical metals necessary for sustaining their high-tech militaries. God warned that if end-time Israel (America and Britain primarily) rejected Him, then He would remove their blessings and instead curse them (Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28). China’s rare earths monopoly is another sign of America’s declining military power and of these prophecies being fulfilled.

China tightens grip on Hong Kong

In compliance with Chinese demands, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Yuet-ngor vowed in a report released on April 18 to rid Hong Kong of pro-independence movements. The report and the policies it delineates represent a clear encroachment on Hong Kong’s autonomy.

Twenty-two years ago, Britain ceded Hong Kong to Chinese rule, and Beijing promised that for at least 50 years, Hong Kong could maintain a “high degree of autonomy.” After less than half that time has elapsed, China is dictating policy in Hong Kong.

This highlights two prophetically significant trends: the decline of British power and the rise of China as a superpower.

Hong Kong’s location makes it a “gate” controlling a major portion of world trade and transport. God promised to give the descendants of Abraham control over “the gates of their enemies” (Genesis 22:17; International Standard Version). The primary nations descended from Abraham are Britain and the United States. (Read The United States and Britain in Prophecy, by the late Herbert W. Armstrong.) Hong Kong was one of many “gates” given to the British as part of this promise. The Bible also prophesies in Deuteronomy that Britain and the U.S. would later lose control over these gates.

Britain’s loss of its strategic “gates,” including the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997, fulfills this prophecy.

Meanwhile, many of the gates formerly controlled by Britain and its ally, the U.S., are now controlled by China. China’s rise was also prophesied in such Bible passages as Ezekiel 38:1-8, Revelation 16:12 and 9:16.