Kurz, Strache and the Break of a Coalition

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz
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Kurz, Strache and the Break of a Coalition

Kurz seeks to use the scandals of his coalition partner to extend his own power. Will he succeed?

Over the weekend, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz called for breaking up the nation’s governing coalition and holding new elections in September. Kurz’s decision followed the posting of a secretly recorded video that exposed Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache’s undemocratic nature. While the media at large focuses on Strache’s scandals and the political turmoil, they are missing Kurz’s politically calculated moves.

The video, published last week, features Strache at a secret meeting with a supposed Russian benefactor. Strache is seen offering government contracts in exchange for political donations. Strache didn’t know that the meeting was a trap.

The video was allegedly filmed on the Spanish island of Ibiza in July 2017.

“What we’re seeing on this video is staggering: it’s about abuse of power, and that’s serious and problematic,” Kurz said. “It’s about open offers of corruption and attacks against the free press.”

Strache called the video “a carefully planned political assassination,” since it was released just prior to elections for European Parliament.

Kurz is also coming into the crossfire, but claims that Strache’s corruption was not evident during the coalition negotiations. He sees no fault in himself for cooperating with Strache’s party.

Even prior to the video’s release, Kurz had often been criticized for entering a coalition with Austria’s Freedom Party due to its far-right agenda. The party was founded in 1956 by Anton Reinthaller, a former Nazi Germany SS officer. In 1989, Strache himself was arrested in Germany after taking part in a Hitler Youth-style neo-Nazi rally. Strache managed to characterize the alleged Nazi associations as sins of his youth, but Kurz no doubt knew what he was getting into when forming the coalition.

Strache’s Scandal, Kurz’s Chance?

Kurz’s Austrian People’s Party and Stache’s Freedom Party have governed together for 17 months. During this time, Kurz has been able to strengthen his power and reputation internationally and domestically. The video scandal has terminated the coalition and could possibly endanger Kurz’s chancellorship. But if disappointed Freedom Party voters switch to Kurz’s party or don’t vote at all, Kurz may actually be able to use the turmoil to expand his power.

Kurz is showing no mercy for his former coalition partner. In statements to the press, he has called for resignations and further investigations.

Following Strache’s resignation, Kurz advised Austria’s president to fire Interior Minister Herbert Kickl, who was Strache’s secretary general during the time of the video. While a chancellor has the right to suggest the ousting of ministers, Kurz is the first to make use of that right.

Kurz knew that his demand to fire Kickl would likely result in the Freedom Party’s withdrawal of all its ministers from the government. He was willing to take the risk. As expected, they withdrew. Following their withdrawal, he announced that the vacant ministries would be filled with “experts or senior government officials” until the elections in September.

If Kurz’s plan succeeds, he not only will retain the chancellorship but also unburden himself from a scandalous coalition partner. He likely figures this is worth the Freedom Party feeling betrayed. It has accused him of “obsession with power.”

A no-confidence vote has been called for, which will take place this coming Monday, the day after European Parliament elections. Confidence is something Kurz is not lacking in: We will see how many of his fellow politicians agree.

This is not the first time that Kurz has made bold moves to strengthen his power.

In May 2017, the People’s Party was struggling and its leader resigned. The party approached the young political phenom, but he declined, at first. He gave the party two options: accept him as a leader with unprecedented authority, or go into the next election without a clear leader. The party submitted to Kurz and accepted his conditions. Following his power grab, he immediately ended the party’s existing coalition with the Social Democrats and called for reelections. The strategy ultimately ended in him becoming the youngest chancellor in Austrian history.

A Prophecy of Dictators

While Austria and Europe may sigh in relief as Austria’s far-right leaves office, a far more serious trend is unfolding before our eyes. Bible prophecy reveals that the real danger lies in the rise of strongmen who gain authoritarian power in Europe. The Bible calls these leaders “kings,” and the fate of Europe lies in their hands.

A prophecy in Revelation 17 describes these 10 kings rising in Europe: “And the ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast. These have one mind, and shall give their power and strength unto the beast” (verses 12-13).

These are not normal heads of state. The Bible calls them “kings”—not because of royal lineage, necessarily, but because they act like kings and are admired for it. The late Herbert W. Armstrong, editor in chief of the Plain Truth, taught that these “kings” would rule as dictators. The Trumpet has watched for the rise of these kings and has expected one to rise in Austria.

But these kings alone will not able to rally all Europe behind them to solve its crises. The Bible shows that one overarching “king” will lead them all. Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry explained:

Watch Europe! This last “head” of the Holy Roman Empire is going to have 10 kings banding together, with one as the supreme head. Even today, Europe is looking for a strong leader who can resolve the challenges of European unity and move the project forward. You can be sure that this most powerful king will be from Germany. As has been the case so many times in history, Germany will preside over and control the whole empire.

Revelation 17 reveals that these 10 kings are of “one mind.” The two things they have in common are that they rule Europe with power and cooperate with the Catholic Church. Read “Austria’s New King” to learn more about how Kurz fits the description of these prophesied kings.

Kurz is demonstrating leadership that Austria hasn’t seen for decades. He is willing to take great risks to gain great power. He has already made great strides in transforming Austria with his coalition with the Freedom Party. But now he has gained enough power to move on without his coalition partner. Kurz is backed by the Catholic Church and powerful leaders in Germany. Therefore we expect that Kurz will also lead Austria in the future.

You can learn more about where Kurz’s leadership will lead Europe in “The Holy Roman Empire Goes Public—Big Time!” by Gerald Flurry. Also request a free copy of Who or What Is the Prophetic Beast? by Herbert W. Armstrong to fully understand why the Trumpet watches the rise of dictators. Mr. Armstrong’s booklet is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand European politics and the future. What’s more, Who or What Is the Prophetic Beast? gives the hope needed to endure the coming time of worldwide suffering.

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Homeless in Seattle

Homeless people in downtown Seattle take shelter in government-supplied tents.
iStock.com/400tmax

Homeless in Seattle

The crisis killing one of America’s most beautiful cities
From the July 2019 Trumpet Print Edition

The Pacific Northwest is one of America’s most magnificent areas. I grew up in Washington and traveled to Seattle often, when it was a beautiful city.

Today, Seattle is suffering a major crisis of homelessness. Local Seattle news station komo aired an hour-long special showing that it has become a dirty, trash-littered den of homelessness, drug addiction and crime. Despite the city spending $1 billion every year to solve it, homelessness is getting worse.

No one knows what to do. Seattle citizens complain that the city council is not doing enough. One business owner told komo, “The city mayor doesn’t give the [police] authority. That’s the problem.” Tents and piles of garbage litter the street next to his business. This man gets to the heart of the problem when he asks, “Why can’t we enforce the law?” (emphasis added throughout).

In 2017, New York City had 1,448 property crimes per 100,000 people—crimes like burglary, theft, shoplifting and vandalism. Los Angeles had around 2,500, and Chicago had 3,263. Seattle had the second-highest number of property crimes of any city in America: 5,258. (Holding the record is San Francisco, which has many of the same problems as Seattle.)

These crimes are often perpetrated by the same individuals, sometimes just days apart. komo talked to Scott Lindsay, a resident who compiled a list of the 100 most frequent offenders in Seattle’s criminal justice system. These 100 people, all of whom are homeless drug users, have 3,600 criminal cases among them. Some have 75 or more known crimes.

The city council tells residents to report property crimes by calling 911, but residents say this is pointless. Even if the police make an arrest, the criminals are often released back onto the streets within days or hours. Out of every 100 police reports filed in Seattle, only 18 actually result in convictions. The rest of the crimes go unpunished.

Shoplifting is also rampant. One business owner interviewed by komo said her business reported 599 cases of shoplifting over a 19-month stretch. How many of those crimes were prosecuted? Eight.

In short, Seattleites can commit “small” crimes with impunity.

komo sent questionnaires to police officers to fill out anonymously. The responses can be summed up by one officer’s answer: “I am frustrated because I’m a law enforcement officer that is told not to enforce the law.”

Another officer wrote: “People come here because it’s called Free-attle, and they believe if they come here they will get free food, free medical treatment, free mental health treatment, a free tent, free clothes, and will be free of prosecution for just about everything—and they’re right. It didn’t use to be that way. Law enforcement officers used to be able to enforce the laws. … In the last five years, there has been a culture shift, and it started with the legislature decriminalizing felonies and dumping convicts onto the streets.”

One frustrated officer wrote: “Why are we risking our lives to take felony-level fugitives into custody if they’re just going to be released?”

Travis, a homeless man interviewed by komo, openly admits he is “having a blast” stealing and that he uses methamphetamines “at least” once a day. He is one of those 100 most frequent offenders, with 34 criminal cases in four years, including assault, attempted rape and trespassing. When asked what the criminal justice system should do with him, he replied: “I think that this system has done what any viable, legitimate system would, and they’ve really … exalted me and … shown deference and love towards me. … I don’t feel like I’ll ever be arrested again. … I have conquered the criminal justice system.”

Judges and politicians think the answer is more permissiveness. A new Seattle statute allows people to carry three grams—30 doses—of methamphetamines without being arrested.

Seattle’s problem is often called a homelessness crisis, but it’s really a drug crisis. One homeless woman told komo that she has not met a single person on the streets who is not an addict.

People think that escaping, altering and damaging their minds with powerful drugs is freedom. It is becoming more and more obvious that drug addiction is slavery.

komo found that many of those on Seattle’s streets choose to stay there because of their drug addictions. They are enslaved to their drugs.

Homelessness and drug use have become politically charged issues in the U.S. Perhaps that is why city governments are “solving” such crises with increasing permissiveness—and national media are treating them with overwhelming silence.

Isaiah 1:5-6 describe our nation: sick from top to bottom. We lack strong leaders taking bold action to eradicate these problems (Isaiah 3:1-3). The cause of this sickness is transgression (Daniel 8:12). We are breaking God’s laws—laws that specifically protect us from such disasters—and are reaping the consequences.

In The Wonderful World Tomorrow—What It Will Be Like, Herbert W. Armstrong described what society will be like when people keep God’s law. Instead of violence, drug addiction, homelessness and death, we will experience “vigorous, vibrant good health, filled with dynamic interest in life, enthusiastic interest in constructive activities bringing happiness and joy. There would be cleanliness, vigorous activity, real progress, no slums, no degenerate backward races or areas of Earth.”

This is the real solution to Seattle’s homelessness: the Kingdom of God executing God’s perfect law. It’s coming—soon!

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Use Only One Measure

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Use Only One Measure

Examine yourself for this form of hypocrisy.
From the July 2019 Trumpet Print Edition

I suggest you get rid of something in your life. It’s something most of us carry unwittingly. Even if we recognize it, we justify it. We think it’s harmless. But it’s not harmless. It wreaks terrible damage in our lives.

Getting rid of it is not easy—but doing so will make your life happier, simpler and freer of stress. It will invite more of God’s blessings in your life.

What is it? It is your second set of measuring tools.

Here is God’s law: “Thou shalt not have in thy bag divers weights, a great and a small. Thou shalt not have in thine house divers measures, a great and a small” (Deuteronomy 25:13-14).

In ancient markets, transactions were placed on a scale a measured against standard weights. When a duplicitous merchant bought from suppliers, he might use a heavy weight to make it appear he was receiving less than he actually was. When he then turned around to sell, he could get out his lighter weight to give less than his customer had paid for.

You’re not an open-market vendor, but it is easier to possess two different scales of measurement than you may think.

You wouldn’t steal a television from a retail store, but you might steal time from your employer by slacking off when nobody is looking. You wouldn’t rob a bank, but you might justify not reporting certain income on your taxes. You wouldn’t have an affair, but you might look at a salacious website.

Still, you consider yourself a person of integrity. You do the right thing in the big areas, where it really matters. But then you give yourself a pass for fudging occasionally in little areas. Where the policy “doesn’t apply to you.” It’s “too small to matter.” “This won’t hurt anyone.” “Nobody will know.”

Two different measures.

Is stealing wrong? Then why would a little bit be OK? Is hatred wrong? Then what makes it acceptable to simply keep it to yourself and pretend you have nothing but love? (Proverbs 10:18). Why try to justify “virtual” lust when God says harboring it in the heart is adultery and will burn you just as surely as holding fire near your chest? (Matthew 5:28; Proverbs 6:25-28).

God says if you are faithful in that which is least, He can entrust you with greater things (Luke 16:10). But if you are dishonest in the small areas, your integrity is compromised. He is looking at your character. Your conduct in the little matters tells Him all He needs to know about the person you really are.

You might have two different scales, one to judge your friends and allies, and another to judge your enemies; or one to weigh your own actions and another to weigh other people’s. You might use one measure for when you’re alone and another for when others are watching.

A merchant using falsified measures is being deliberately dishonest. The double standards we tend to hold are subtler, but they are dishonest just the same. Every day, many opportunities arise to exercise such deceit, even in small areas. Track yourself and see if you hold a double standard in certain details, giving yourself permission to think or do things you wouldn’t want other people to know about.

The basic reason we possess two measures in these subtler forms is that our human nature likes to think of itself as good. We can be astonishingly adept at justifying dishonesty. It would only hurt that person to know the truth. God understands—He knows I mean well.

But if you find two measures, honestly assess why you have them. God wants us to be totally honest. “But thou shalt have a perfect and just weight, a perfect and just measure …” (Deuteronomy 25:15; also Leviticus 19:35-36). God knows diverse weights and measures when He sees them, and He calls breaking this law an abomination (Deuteronomy 25:16; also Proverbs 11:1; Amos 8:5).

In 1 Corinthians 5:8, the Apostle Paul summarized God’s way of life with two words: sincerity and truth. Sincerity means purity; the Greek literally means “found pure when unfolded and examined by the sun’s light.” That is what God wants for your life: for you to live so your innermost heart can be unfolded in broad sunlight, scrutinized and found pure. Truth means that which is true and free from error, but it also means truth as a personal virtue—a mind free from pretense, falsehood, deceit. It is thus closely linked with sincerity.

The gap between two measures is a form of hypocrisy: proclaiming one standard and living by another. In reality, it is virtually impossible not to have some hypocrisy if you are trying to uphold godly standards; we all fall short of the ideals we profess. The question is how wholeheartedly we are working to close the gap between profession and action. We should always strive to match what we know to be right with what we do.

Don’t weigh your goodness by other people’s opinions. Don’t calculate your righteousness by comparing it with sinners worse than yourself. Don’t evaluate your thoughts by a lighter standard than your deeds. Get rid of all of your weights and measures, and keep the one and only perfect and just measure: God’s.

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From the July 2019 Trumpet Print Edition

Business booming for private bunkers

Around the world, private individuals are paying big bucks to prepare for a nuclear disaster. Firms such as the Panic Room Co. in Britain have reported dramatic increases in sales. The Panic Room Co. installs nuclear bombproof bunkers and safe rooms for customers in cities and in relatively remote locations, both in and outside Britain. An employee told the Telegraph in an interview published on March 5, “Certain people are getting richer and, as the world’s issues get more complicated, security comes higher up their list of things they need and want.”

But will bunkers and stockpiles of food and water really protect what’s left of humanity in the event of a global cataclysm? Jesus Christ said of the deadly conflicts prophesied to precede His Second Coming: “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved” (Matthew 24:21-22).

Only God can and will protect those who have repented and dedicated themselves to Him.

Why are younger adults less happy?

Young American adults are becoming less happy, according to data published on April 4 by the Atlantic. The number of adults ages 18 to 34 who report being “very happy” has sunk to a new low of 25 percent. The Institute for Family Study has identified three major causes of this “happiness recession.”

The first cause is plummeting marriage rates among young adults. Young married couples are 75 percent more likely to report being “very happy,” but the number of young married adults has tumbled from 59 percent in 1972 to 28 percent in 2018.

The second cause is less sex. “Young adults who have sex at least once a week are about 35 percent more likely to report they are very happy, compared with their peers who have no sex,” the Atlantic stated. This demographic has dwindled from 59 percent in 1972 to 49 percent in 2018. This is closely related to the drop in marriage rates.

The third cause is loss of religion. Young adults who attend religious services more than once a month are about 40 percent more likely to report being very happy, but that demographic has dropped from 38 percent in 1972 to 27 percent in 2018.

The Institute for Family Study draws connections between all three causes. “Finding a spouse can be hard and, crucially, one of the places young adults have historically found their spouses is church …” it stated. “Declining sex is at least partly about family and religious changes that make it harder for people to achieve stable, coupled life at a young age.”

The current withering of happiness is the direct opposite of God’s desire for mankind (John 10:10). In His Word, He gives the keys for true and lasting happiness, including how to succeed in marriage, sex and religion.

Polarization in American religion

America is changing from a single-faith culture to a two-faith nation, according to data published on March 19 by Ryan Burge of Eastern Illinois University. In 1969, 91 percent of Americans said they were Christian, and only 4 percent claimed “no religion” whatsoever. Today, only 67 percent of Americans say they are Christian, and 23 percent claim “no religion.” Americans claiming “no religion” are often called “nones” because of how they answer the question, “What is your religious tradition?” They are becoming a powerful force in United States’ culture and politics.

The rise of the “nones” tracks closely with the decline of old-line Protestant churches like the Baptist Church, the Episcopal Church, the Lutheran Church, the Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church. Both Catholics and evangelical Protestants in the U.S. are holding steady at just under a quarter of the population. Since evangelicals are often more zealous about religion than those from older Protestant denominations, the U.S. is also becoming more polarized as Christians become more devout and “nones” become more secular.

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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.

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What Is Armageddon?

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What Is Armageddon?

Few subjects in the Bible receive more attention, yet almost no one knows its meaning.
From the July 2019 Trumpet Print Edition

What is Armageddon? Is it World War iii? Will it be America and Britain fighting against Russia? Television commentators and other pundits bring up this word often, but few people understand its true meaning.

Yet if we do not understand this subject, we cannot understand the Bible’s most critical prophecies, and we can easily believe fables. When you fully understand what Armageddon means, you will be astonished.

You might be surprised to learn that Armageddon is mentioned in the Bible only once: “And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils [demons], working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon” (Revelation 16:13-16).

This is talking about a time when three demons will emerge—one from Satan (the dragon), another from a bloody political empire (the beast), and the third from a fraudulent religious leader (the false prophet). This is alarming imagery!

Demonic spirits are already stirring up worldwide warfare. Satan is the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). He and his demons have been cast down and confined to Earth in this end time (Revelation 12:9). He and his demons infest the Earth. They have never been more wrathful. They are the cause of the unprecedented problems now facing humanity. If people understood this, they would be very afraid!

Revelation 17 paints a terrifying prophetic picture of an evil empire coming on the world scene. If you are going to understand that empire, then you must understand Armageddon. A fascist government is rising in Europe today—a revival of the Babylonian system pictured in Daniel 7 and Revelation 13 and 17. It will plunge the world into a holocaust like we have never imagined!

These prophecies show that these men who are bringing the world into war are influenced—even possessed—by demons! This is a serious problem! Think: Satan has the power to influence people heavily, even to possess them, speak through them, and infuse them with his power! He will work through the political leader of this “beast” and through the “false prophet” of Revelation 16, to perform deadly miracles.

This is the truth of your Bible. Do you have the courage to face it?

A Gathering Place

In a November-December 1955 Plain Truth article, “What Is Armageddon?” Herbert W. Armstrong wrote: “First, notice that ‘Armageddon’ is a Hebrew word, not an English word. Actually, the Hebrew word is ‘Har Magedon’ or ‘Har Megiddo.’ In the Hebrew, the H’s are usually not pronounced, and so are often omitted in the spelling in English. Megiddo is in the Valley of Jezreel, some 70 miles northwest of Jerusalem, just in from the port of Haifa.

“The Hebrew prefix ‘Har’ means ‘fortified,’ or ‘fortified hill.’ Between World War i and World War ii, the British fortified Haifa at a cost of many millions of dollars. Consequently, Megiddo (or Magedon) has now become, in fact, Armageddon!”

People talk about the “battle of Armageddon,” but it’s really the “battle of the great day of God Almighty”! There is no battle of Armageddon. Armageddon is a specific location. It will be a gathering place for the great armies of this world. God will then lead them down to Jerusalem and fight them there.

As we will see, other Bible prophecies show that this “Day of the Lord” is the climax of the coming worldwide destruction!

Yet this wholesale warfare and destruction is tied to the greatest news you could hear.

Great Tribulation

Matthew 24 reveals the sequence of end-time events that precedes the return of Jesus Christ to Earth in power and glory. It reveals one key sign of looming trouble: “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)” (verse 15).

Luke’s Gospel account provides more clarity: “And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh” (Luke 21:20). The abomination of desolation is when European armiesnot Arab armies—surround Jerusalem! This European power is a resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire, poised to destroy the world! Led by Germany, it will start World War iii. This time, however, it will be destroyed forever by God Himself.

“[F]or sore anguish will come upon the land and Wrath on this people; they will fall by the edge of the sword, they will be carried prisoners to all nations, and Jerusalem will be under the heel of the Gentiles till the period of the Gentiles expires” (verses 23-24; Moffatt translation).

God asks in Ezekiel 33:11, “[W]hy will ye die, O house of Israel?” All nations on Earth will be punished, but God will punish the nations of biblical Israel—primarily America, Britain and the Jewish nation in the Middle East—first.

Continuing in Matthew 24, Christ said, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (verse 21). This nightmarish period is described in many other prophecies. The coming “tribulation” is the climax of Satan’s wrath against humanity, and will involve nuclear destruction!

We have brought doom upon ourselves through our sinful ways—and by creating weapons of mass destruction. Every weapon mankind has made, we have always used! Unsound strongmen are rising today who are eager to use nuclear weapons. But these madmen will not conquer this world as they plan to. They are no match for God’s infinite power.

Like Matthew 24, the violent events of the book of Revelation follow a precise time sequence. The 2½-year period of “great tribulation” is described in Revelation 6:9-11.

Next will come the heavenly signs: God will disrupt the heavens and Earth. The sun, moon and stars will become complete darkness. Earth will convulse with tidal waves and earthquakes (verses 12-17; Luke 21:25-26).

This is also described in Joel 2:31: “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come.” God sends these supernatural signs just before the Day of the Lord. This is no routine warning! God is warning this world in ways that it cannot ignore!

Immediately after the heavenly signs, suddenly and unexpectedly comes the one-year period of God’s wrath, the Day of the Lord.

The Day of the Lord

The Prophet Zephaniah describes this event: “The great day of the Lord is near, it is near, and hasteth greatly, even the voice of the day of the Lord: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly. That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness” (Zephaniah 1:14-15).

The “great tribulation” is the time of Satan’s greatest wrath. It will be followed by a period of God’s wrath! It will be a time of indescribable suffering! But it also leads to the most hope-filled, exciting event ever.

the Valley of Megiddo
This wholesale warfare and destruction is tied to the greatest news you could hear.

“Howl ye; for the day of the Lord is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty. Therefore shall all hands be faint, and every man’s heart shall melt: And they shall be afraid: pangs and sorrows shall take hold of them; they shall be in pain as a woman that travaileth: they shall be amazed one at another; their faces shall be as flames. Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible” (Isaiah 13:6-11).

Yes, God is going to punish this world for its evil! Human beings will be howling like suffering wolves because of the intense agony! God does not want anyone to have to go through such suffering. This is why He warns and warns and warns; even after the Great Tribulation, He warns through the spectacular heavenly signs. Yet mankind still refuses to repent! (Revelation 11:10).

Those who are not protected by God will be petrified—fear will seize Earth. Anyone who fails to turn to God will be shaking with fear! We need Him to solve our problems!

There is only one way to be protected from this dreadful future: Submit to God now and help deliver His warning message. He gives each and every one of us a way to escape this coming suffering. Human suffering is the result of unwillingness to obey God.

Jesus Christ is tired of mankind’s wickedness! He will soon return and stop all suffering, ruling with a rod of iron: “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever” (Revelation 11:15).

Christ’s Return!

Yes—Christ Himself is going to return! “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. … And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God” (Revelation 19:11, 13).

What an awesome, inspiring sight! Yet how will the Satan-inspired beast power and false prophet respond when they see Christ returning in the clouds with great glory? How will the armies of the world respond?

Remember, in Revelation 16, they had gathered in the plains of Armageddon, just north of Jerusalem.

The Prophet Zechariah foretells what is about to occur: “Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle …” (Zechariah 14:1-2).

They will have congregated in Armageddon—but then will proceed to Jerusalem! And take note of the very next event: “Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east …” (verses 3-4).

Revelation 19:19 gives more detail: “And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war”—against whom?—“against him that sat on the horse, and against his army”—which is composed of angels on horses! (verse 14).

This battle will not happen at Armageddon! That is where the armies gather, then God takes them to Jerusalem and fights them there. Revelation 14:18-20 say the blood from this battle will fill the Valley of Jehoshaphat that cuts through Jerusalem with blood up to the horses’ bridles!

“And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him …. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone” (Revelation 19:20).

The “battle of that great day of God Almighty”—commonly misnamed “Armageddon”—will be a complete victory for God! What leads up to it is the worst news you could hear. Yet spiritually, it is the best possible news! The coming suffering and curses are tied directly to the return of Jesus Christ and His assuming the throne of King of kings! By declaring the bad news, we are also declaring the good news of the coming Kingdom of God!

Soon, God will fill the Earth with happiness and joy forever! This will happen after He has ended the massacre of the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord. All plagues, misery and suffering will be removed from Earth. Christ will stand on the Mount of Olives and institute abundant blessings, happiness and joy for all eternity. This is reality—you can be sure of it!