What Is God’s Love?

What Is God’s Love?

Dreamstime

Perhaps no word in the English language is used more often than the word “love.” Yet no word is more misunderstood. What is love—the kind of love God wants you to have? Man has his definition, but what does God say?

When you hear the word love, what emotion immediately comes to mind? The word no doubt evokes a variety of different feelings and emotions in every individual. But what is love? Not the love man has, or thinks he has. What is God’s love?

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” That is the depth of God’s love. Because of that love, God allowed His Son to be mercilessly beaten, mocked, and finally crucified in the most ignominious manner imaginable. God allowed that because of love? That’s what John 3:16 says.

God is love (1 John 4:8). God is also a Family. That Family is a loving relationship. For that Family to expand through man, God knew there had to be a sacrifice—the lamb was slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8). God loved every human being so much that He allowed that ultimate sacrifice. But what was God feeling when His Son was being slaughtered? Did He desire to see His Son suffer? Obviously not.

What about Christ? God loved the world so much, He gave His only Son. The Son loved the world so much, He gave Himself. Notice the cruel mockings Christ withstood: “And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said, He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God” (Matthew 27:39-43). The chief priests were right about one thing. Christ did trust God. He literally trusted His Father for everything.

But notice what happened. “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (verse 46). The word for forsaken means “to leave behind in some place; to abandon, to leave helpless.” That is what happened. That is what God had to do. Prior to this moment, God had been there through everything. He watched and agonized in His own mind and heart as Jesus Christ was being crucified. But at the very end, that sacrifice had to bear the full weight of all sin—alone—with no help from the Father. Hebrews 1:3 says Christ “himself purged our sins.” The Father did forsake Him in those closing moments, because Christ became a sacrifice for our sins. God will have nothing whatsoever to do with sin. And Christ knew His Father turned away. The pressure and power of that rejection was almost overwhelming. Imagine the great feeling of emotion within Christ. What kind of emotion do you think the Father expressed? Yet all of this happened because of God’s great love.

Man Is Not an Animal

In Genesis 1 we find that every different animal was made after its own kind. But when we get to the creation of man in verse 26, we find something altogether different: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness ….” In composition we are equal with animals—both made from the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7). Like animals, we have a temporary existence which is sustained by the blood, the air we breathe, as well as the food and water we supply our physical bodies with.

But man is not an animal! There are two main differences: 1) Man was made in the form and shape of God; and 2) Man has mind power—intellect—while animals are equipped with instinct. These differences, the human mind and body, make human beings the “most perfectly designed mechanism ever produced from earthly material substance” according to Herbert W. Armstrong (Why Humanity Cannot Solve Its Evils).

These two main differences should be obvious to all. A baby calf, which looks nothing like a human being, within minutes is up on all fours, walking to its mother to be fed milk. A human baby however, even though a perfectly designed mechanism, is utterly helpless without parental guidance and instruction. Yet that baby has been born with mind power—but yet without knowledge. At birth, the mind of a baby contains no knowledge. That knowledge must be acquired by the mind. Man’s mind, unlike the brain of a dumb animal, must acquire knowledge and then think and direct whatever he does with that mind power.

In order to rightly direct and think what he does, man needs two different kinds of knowledge: 1) Knowledge of how to work with physical matter and things; and 2) Knowledge of how to develop a close relationship with his Creator and also with his fellow man.

In his originally created state, man has the mind power and can acquire the knowledge on his own to work with physical things—to deal with physical knowledge. But the knowledge needed to rightly guide his relationship with God and humans is not physical knowledge. It is spiritual. And it comes from God. Therefore, man cannot obtain and act according to this knowledge unless he first receives it from God. That knowledge man cannot acquire on his own is simply loveGod’slove. Mr. Armstrong defined this godly love as “an unselfish outgoing concern for the good and welfare of the one loved.” Very simply, love is the way of give.

Human Nature Is to Get

But from the very beginning, man acquired the exact opposite nature—the way of get. God offered Adam and Eve His spiritual knowledge through the tree of life. At the same time, God commanded them not to take, or get, from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17). God’s law did not allow them to take of this forbidden tree. And God’s law is love (Romans 13:10). So the way of love did not allow them to take of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But that tree was very appealing to Eve. The fruit looked good.

Genesis 3:6 says, “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.” Notice that word pleasant. It could be translated as a desire. Eve knew she was not to eat of that tree. But what was she feeling? She desired it! Even though God’s law of love said she could not have it, she still felt like having it.

“And the eyes of them both were opened …” (verse 7). Why the eyes? Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon says, “many passions of the mind, such as envy, pride, pity, desire, are manifest in the eyes.” Remember, the mind is one of the main differences that sets us apart from animals. Man’s mind must think and direct what he does. Adam and Eve took of the forbidden fruit after they decided to in their minds. But why did they decide that? Because they really wanted it. They desired it. And why did they desire it so much? Because it appealed to their eyes and it tasted good. It appealed to the senses.

Now love for God is the knowledge that would have directed their minds to make the right decision and not eat of that tree. They rejected that knowledge and did what felt good. Let us briefly examine these three elements; the senses (sight, taste, etc.), the emotions (the feelings, desires and moods) and the mind (which God gave us to direct the actions of our body).

The Five Senses

Mr. Armstrong wrote: “The five senses do cry out for gratification. We humans are composed of flesh—mortal flesh—matter. We can receive pleasurable sensations through these fives senses” (The Missing Dimension in Sex).

God created us with minds. He also created us with the five senses. But why? Because “God intended man to be happy! It is God’s will that we enjoy life—that it is pleasurable, satisfying, wholesome, rewarding! … The right use of the five senses brings enjoyable, pleasurable sensations that are uplifting, constructive, beneficial—not only to the self, but to others” (ibid.). God intended for us to enjoy wonderful foods which are naturally pleasing to the sense of taste. He made it possible for us to enjoy pleasurable sights; to see those things that are good and wholesome. Also, we can hear those things which are uplifting and encouraging, like fine music.

But here is the important point: “The wrong and sinful use of the senses also may produce pleasurable sensations, but these wrong uses are psychologically, spiritually and physically destructive and harmful—not only to the self, but often also to others” (ibid.).

So the right and proper use of the five senses cannot be determined by just the pleasurable sensation you may feel. The right and proper use must be determined by the mind, as led by the Holy Spirit.

The Mind

Mr. Armstrong wrote, “God gave us minds—and made His Word available—to distinguish the true values from the false! Not to decide, in our own minds, what selfish or lustful desire [we] would like to make right—but to distinguish what God reveals He has made right” (ibid.).

Again, unlike animals, man must think and direct everything he does. But man must learn to do this. We first must learn and acquire knowledge—right knowledge. After knowledge is acquired, we have the capacity, created within us, to think, plan, make decisions and direct our actions. That is what character development is all about. Character is the ability to come to right knowledge and wisdom and then to direct the mind and body into the right course of action.

The foundation upon which your mind makes right decisions is, of course, right knowledge. If God’s knowledge is rejected, as was the case with Adam and Eve, your mind still directs the body, but it directs it in the wrong way—according to the knowledge you think is right and wrong. When that occurs, the mind is often heavily influenced by your emotions.

The Emotions

Now what is an emotion? It is “a strong feeling—a disturbance—a departure from the normal calm state of rational thinking and acting—an impulse toward an action that has not been reasoned and approved by the mind” (Herbert W. Armstrong, Good News, February 1982). There are several different kinds of emotion: grief, sorrow, fear, surprise, anger, joy, happiness, disgust, yearning—essentially, those things you feel; the impulses or moods you have. But all of these feelings listed above are physical reactions, produced within the nervous system of the material, fleshly body. Emotion is not spirituality. Many deceived churchgoers associate vast mood swings with spirituality. While it is true that a certain amount of emotional reaction will often accompany a truly spiritual experience, nevertheless, the reaction itself is not spiritual—it is physical.

Like the five senses, God created you with a nervous system able to produce physical reactions known as emotions. So let me emphasize that emotion is not wrong. God and Christ have emotion. God created it in us. But emotion is not spirituality.

Worship God in Spirit

God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). What does that mean? We cannot worship Him emotionally because emotions are physical. Romans 8:9 elaborates: “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. …” To worship God in spirit, we have to have His Spirit dwelling in us. God gives His Spirit to those who are obedient to what He says (Acts 5:32). That Spirit in you then makes you a begotten child of God (Romans 8:14).

But notice what that Spirit in us actually does: “… the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy [Spirit] which is given unto us” (Romans 5:5). The Holy Spirit is in fact the love of God in us. And that is the only love that will actually fulfill God’s law. “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law” (Romans 13:8). Paul expounds this law of love in the next two verses: “You must not commit adultery, you must not kill, you must not steal, you must not covet—these and any other command are summed up in a single word, You must love your neighbor as yourself. Love never wrongs a neighbor; that is why love is the fulfillment of the law” (verses 9-10, Moffatt). He is referring to the Ten Commandments. The Greek word for love here is agape. That is God’s love—agape.

Matthew 22:36-40 teach that agape love is loving God more than anything or anybody else; and loving your neighbor as yourself. Both of these commands are agape. There are two other words in Greek which are also translated as love: philia and eros. But only agape fulfills God’s law of love toward Him and toward neighbor.

The Love of God

Notice how Mr. Armstrong defined love: “Love is an unselfish outgoing concern for the good and welfare of the one loved. Love is primarily on the giving, serving, sharing side of the fence—not on the getting, taking, factional, striving side. It is not selfish” (The Missing Dimension in Sex). That is agape love. Agape love is the kind of love God has for this world, even though it’s hostile and rebellious toward Him (Romans 8:9). All of that notwithstanding, God gave His only begotten Son. It’s the kind of love that enabled Christ to suffer and eventually die so that all men might be saved.

Further, Mr. Armstrong wrote: “Love is unselfish. It is not an emotion, though it may be expressed with an emotional content. True love combines the rational aspect of outgoing concern—desire to help, serve, give or share—along with sincere concerned affectionate feeling” (ibid.). Emotions, as we have covered, are physical reactions produced within the nervous system of the body. Agape love is not an emotion. That kind of love comes from outside the body—from God Himself. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). God has to give it. It’s not a reaction. Emotion is from within. God’s love is from without.

Notice this revealing quote by Mr. Armstrong: “More and more I am impressed that one of the most important truths we humans overlook is that human beings are not equipped with instinct, like dumb animals, to guide us into the proper course. … [W]e poor humans act as though we believed man to be merely the highest of the dumb brutes—as if man were equipped with instinct, and the purpose of life were merely to enjoy such feelings, sensations, emotions and moods as impulse attracts us to, without thinking or mental direction!” (Good News, February 1982).

What an apt description of the way this society operates: living for the moment; if it feels good, do it! And it is within this self-centered approach that man has developed his own definition for love! This society has been deceived into believing that true love is a feeling you fall into. And for proof of that, all you have to do is watch virtually any television program or listen to virtually any song on the radio. God’s love is not what man thinks it is. What is God’s love?

• God’s love is giving. It is not something you feel (though true love can combine with sincere affectionate feeling).

• God’s love must be learned. It comes from outside the body—from God Himself.

• God’s love is something you grow into, over a period of time. It is not something you accidentally stumble or fall into. Neither is it something that develops quickly. Love is not hasty. It waits patiently.

• God’s love does not fade away. It is an unconditional, unselfish, outgoing concern for the one loved. It is not conditional on certain circumstances.

• God’s love is giving. God’s love is action. It is not a reaction, like emotion.

One of the greatest deceptions Satan has foisted off on society is that true love is something you feel (which is inward or selfish), not something you give (which is outward and unselfish). Agape love is giving. It is God’s love in action.

Notice Philippians 4:8: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Those things which are true, honest, just, pure and lovely are found in the Bible. You don’t just all of a sudden feel them. You find the instruction in the Bible and then Paul says to think on these things—to think with your mind. But you do not stop there. Notice verse 9: “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do ….”

Even many in God’s own Church misunderstand this. How can God’s law—the Ten Commandments—be love? Because first you acquire the knowledge, or instruction, from the Bible. Then, the hard part is applying that knowledge. And as we strive to apply that knowledge, God’s love actually grows in us. “But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him” (1 John 2:5). And it is that spiritual knowledge, applied and expressed in action, that is the love of God. That is how God’s law is love.

Agape love is of the mind. It is a way of life that actually controls your emotions. Emotions are not wrong. God and Christ—who can express sorrow, grief, joy, happiness, anger or wrath—both perfectly control their emotions! And character development requires that we do the same. You either make your mind control your emotions or you allow your emotions to control your mind.

Mind Must Control the Body

Early on in his ministry, Mr. Armstrong was called upon to officiate his first funeral. A close friend of his family died. He was overcome with emotional grief. In his words, he “began to go to pieces.” He told his family he simply would not be able to conduct the service. Mr. Armstrong wrote, “We were at the time visiting in my father’s home, and he came over to me, put his hands on my shoulders, and calmly shook me, saying in a voice of authority with which he had not spoken to me since I was a child: ‘Here! Snap out of it! This is your responsibility! This family is broken up in sorrow, and they are relying on you. You can’t back out of it! Wake up! Come to yourself! Get a grip on yourself! You are going through with this, and you’re going to do it with credit and calm dignity and sincerity!’” (Good News, February 1982). Mr. Armstrong listened to his father’s instruction, prayed about it, and calmly brought his emotions under control—by his mind, as led by the Holy Spirit. He did not feel like officiating the funeral. But he knew he had to.

Years later in his ministry, after performing dozens of funerals, he had to be careful not to go to the opposite extreme of showing no emotion and hardening his senses. This he also controlled with his Spirit-led mind.

When God the Father was watching His Son suffer a horrible beating, you can be sure He did not enjoy it! He was filled with grief. He did not want to see Christ die. He could have intervened on Christ’s behalf. Yet at the very last moment, God turned His face away and His Son was murdered. God controlled His emotions with His mind. He allowed it to happen because He loved the world—you and me.

In referring to the Laodiceans in Revelation 3:19, God says, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” The Laodiceans will endure this correction in the midst of the worst time of suffering ever in the history of man—the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21-22). Yet, is this something God desires the Laodiceans to go through? Of course not. Nevertheless, it is done out of love to bring about repentance, hopefully.

These examples give added insight into the true meaning of God’s love. Very often, true love goes against every emotional desire you may have. Emotion is good, but only when rightly controlled by the mind. Mr. Armstrong wrote, “Our tempers, feelings, emotions were given to us for a purpose! They are not to be nullified—merely intelligently guided by mind control into the proper channels of God’s law!” (ibid.).

Sadly, that is not what this society teaches human beings—just the opposite. Advertising, television, movies, music, you name it—all encourage you to do what you feel is right. People are not taught to control their emotions. They are taught to enjoy emotions, feelings, and sensations.

God says our mind is to control the body. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” We must control our minds to the point where we rightly direct the actions of our bodies. That is character development. That is agape love.

The Example of God and Christ

According to Thayer’s Lexicon, agape is “of the love of God towards Christ.” God gave His only begotten Son. That’s love. Furthermore, agape depicts “the love Christ had towards men … the love which led Christ, in procuring human salvation, to undergo sufferings and death.” Christ gave Himself for you and me (Galatians 2:20). That’s love.

Furthermore, Thayer’s says agape is the very “nature of Christian love.” The same agape. You see, we don’t just agape God and then only have a sort of affection for our brothers or our best friends. No, in the same way God loves Christ and the world, and the same way Christ loves His Father and the world, we are to love God and each other! It’s the same kind of love. We are not here to just have a natural affection for our own family or team or country. That is normal. We are here to develop the very love of God, which is very much abnormal!

1 John 4 makes this plain. “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him” (verses 7-9). That is how God expressed His love for us. He sacrificed His own Son. Verse 19 says, “We love him, because he first loved us.” Why? Because we cannot love God or man unless God gives us that love first. Remember, that love comes from Him (Romans 5:5; 2 Timothy 1:7).

Back to 1 John 4. Notice the clear command for us to have the same kind of love God has: “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another” (verses 10-11). God so loved us! In other words, as God loves us, we ought to love others in the same way!

But we do not naturally have that love. We must learn it. It must be developed. Our life’s purpose essentially is to develop from the state of getting to a state of giving. To do that, we must exchange old, selfish, carnal habits with unselfish, outflowing concern for the good and welfare of others. That takes serious effort! It will take a tremendous amount of drive, energy and determination. It takes action. Old habits die hard. But those old habits which are deeply ingrained into our very nature must be replaced with God’s habits. And God’s habits must become just as ingrained into our nature as those old habits!

That will not be easy. 1 Corinthians 13:4 says agape love “suffers long.” It can often be very painful to agape other people. Here is how Moffatt translates 1 Corinthians 13:4-8: “Love is very patient, very kind. Love knows no jealousy; love makes no parade, gives itself no airs, is never rude, never selfish, never irritated, never resentful; love is never glad when others go wrong, love is gladdened by goodness, always slow to expose, always eager to believe the best, always hopeful, always patient. Love never disappears.”

These are not emotions! They are God-ordained principles initiated by the decisions and choices you make in your mind as led by the Holy Spirit. To build these right habits, you have to just keep forcing yourself, even if it goes against every desire and feeling you have, to practice these actions; to serve and to give unto others as you would have them do unto you. Eventually, after practicing them over and over again, it will finally become automatic behavior. And that is agape love.

What About Philia and Eros?

There are two other words in Greek which are also translated as love in English. They are philia and eros.

Philia love is the love of friendship—brotherly love—love of parent, or child. Strong’s Concordance says it means “to have affection for (denoting personal attachment, as a matter of sentiment or feeling).”

Though philia and agape are related in many ways, there is a fundamental and distinct difference between the two. Man can express philia love, but not agape. Philia love is prompted by a sense of emotion. God’s love, as we have seen, is not an emotion. The simple difference is this: All men can express philia whereas agape love is attained by choice. God made us free moral agents. He gave us minds to direct our actions. For right actions, we must submit to His law of love by choice. Doing so will bring us happiness. But it also requires that we go against what is normal or natural for the carnal man.

All men were created with a natural love toward self. Remember, we are commanded to love neighbor as self. Philia love can be an unselfish, outflowing love, but only when combined with the agape love God gives you.

But for the most part, philia love is something man, without God’s Spirit can express, because it revolves around self. It means “fraternal affection, brotherly love”; in other words, the natural affection you have for those who relate to you in a special way. In The Missing Dimension in Sex, Mr. Armstrong wrote: “There is a certain selfish element in the philia love—love for children, parents or family. We may have this love for those of our club, our team, our group. That is actually, to coin a phrase, love of the ‘empirical self.’”

Natural man can express that kind of love. But here is where Christians often make a big mistake. We’ll go the extra mile for our girlfriend or boyfriend, or our best friend. And we can fool ourselves into believing, I’m a loving person. But God’s love transcends that! God gave His Son for all mankind.

Notice this quote from the March 1967 Good News: “[E]ven some who are baptized, have God’s Spirit, know the plan of God and hope to enter into His Kingdom lack this outgoing love! They just never think about others. Their fruitless lives make it obvious that they do not actively care for others. They intend to do right. They often think to do good works, yet seldom, if ever, get around to actually doing them. They try to be nice. They often say and do pleasant things. They try to be fair. Yet, no one is benefitted. No one’s life is being changed. No one’s hope is lifted up. No happiness is radiated to others. No joy is spread. Instead, they are forced to rationalize, defend themselves, argue or retreat. This kind of behavior falls far short of truly outgoing love. In fact, it is not love at all!”

God’s love is concerned about that neighbor who is the absolute farthest away from any kind of natural, brotherly affection. Jesus said, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). This kind of love is much more than just a natural affection you might have for those closely related to you. It is more than philia.

The third word for love in Greek is eros. This kind of love refers to sexual love between a husband and wife. It does not mean lust. There is a different Greek word for lust. Eros, however, is love expressed physically, not spiritually. But like philia, eros should combine with God’s love. Agape love should be expressed through the sexual union.

Yet even without the Spirit of God, two married people can express eros love which enables them to love each other in a physical and natural sense. That sexual relationship, if not done in lust, can even bind two unconverted people together in a physical sense.

Do you see the clear distinction between the three types of love? Mr. Armstrong wrote, “Of the three kinds of love, expressed by the three Greek words, agape, philia and eros, the natural man is capable of expressing only the last two types of love” (The Missing Dimension in Sex).

A Love Relationship

God’s purpose for man is to become God. To fulfill that purpose requires that we go from a state of taking to the way of give—of agape love. That is the ultimate purpose for all of us. And yet the natural man can express philia and eros love on the physical level. Furthermore, God created us male and female. And within the physical family unit, there are several different roles: father, mother, children. Why? If the only purpose for all of us is to develop agape love, why the different kinds of love? Why the different roles within family? Why male and female?

Because God is a Family! And the very basis of that Family relationship is love. God is love (1 John 4:8).

God is reproducing Himself. And that, of necessity, required that He make man out of matter (Genesis 2:7). He had to make us physical. Therefore, God established the physical family unit as an exact type of His spiritual Family.

But during the first 6,000 years of His plan, God knew only a few would be called out of this world and given His Holy Spirit—or the very love of God (John 6:44). Yet even for the overwhelming majority, those not yet having access to the Holy Spirit, God provided a way for physical marriages and families to also be a love relationship—physically. Sadly, even on the physical level, Satan has done so much to destroy the family unit in today’s society. Marriages are failing and the gap between parents and children is fast growing wider. Violent acts are often committed between individuals who are related. Nevertheless, the physical family unit, even without the Holy Spirit, can still be a loving relationship on the physical level, by the letter of the law. It was designed to be a love relationship because it is patterned after the God Family relationship, which is based on spiritual love.

Jesus Christ Lived by Love

Only one human being to ever walk this Earth has fulfilled God’s law of love in His life—Jesus Christ. He did not keep the law for us, as many try to reason. He left us an example, that we might follow in His footsteps (1 Peter 2:21).

“Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me” (Matthew 26:38). This was the night before Christ died. Imagine the intense emotional strain upon Christ. He was sorrowful to the point of almost wanting to die! He loved His disciples. He wanted to be with them on His final night.

“And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (verse 39). Can you believe that? Christ did not want to go through what He knew would happen the next day! He had emotional pulls stronger than any you or I have ever experienced. What would you have done if you were in Christ’s situation?

“And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?” (verse 40). He found them sleeping. How disappointing. He loved these men like His own brothers. Imagine the philia affection He had for them. He wanted His friends there with Him, and yet they slept. “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (verse 41). Oh, how easy it is to be weak and give in to the rush of emotion we are subjected to daily.

Yet Christ didn’t give in. He did not call it quits. How? “He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done” (verse 42). Because He had agape love! That’s how. He knew God’s love often goes against every emotional pull we have. He didn’t want to die. He didn’t want His close friends to leave Him. But more than anything, He wantedGod’s will to be done. And so He made it because He had perfect agape love. That agape love enabled Christ to rightly control His emotions with His mind.

If we live this way, we are going to be happy. Christ said it is more blessed to give than to receive. Concerning that scriptural principle, Mr. Armstrong said, “That is a true statement, of which nearly all humans are ignorant” (ibid.). But we don’t have to be ignorant of that way of life. We can begin to take the steps now to live according to God’s love—His way of give. If we do so, God’s abundant blessings will surely follow.

“Happiness is a funny thing, or is it?” Mr. Armstrong asked, “The more you give, the more you have.” God gave His Son. Christ gave Himself for all mankind. And just look at the potential happiness and joy that kind of unselfish giving opened up for God and man. Soon, God is going to have not just one Son, but billions! Do you give like God and Christ do? To the extent that you do determines whether or not God’s law is being fulfilled in you.

Fukuda Focuses Japan on Asian Unity

Fukuda Focuses Japan on Asian Unity

Greg Baker-Pool/Getty Images

Japan’s prime minister is strengthening ties with China. What will happen to the Japanese-American alliance?

On December 27, Yasuo Fukuda made his first visit to China since becoming prime minister of Japan in September. During the lead-up to this visit, Fukuda trumpeted the fact that he was glad to commemorate the year marking the 35th anniversary of the normalization of Sino-Japanese relations with a visit to China. Fukuda’s goal for the visit was, he said, “to further promote the development trend of Japan-China ties so that next year bilateral ties can develop even faster and move into a new stage.”

Fukuda’s meetings with Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao centered around increasing Sino-Japanese cooperation on environmental and nuclear fission issues as well as on disputed oil/gas rights in the East China Sea. Fukuda also reiterated his support for China’s opposition to Taiwanese independence. The meetings went well and resulted in a new agreement whereby 50 Chinese researchers will be invited to Japan every year for the next four years for training in combating climate change. Wen told a joint news conference, “Prime Minister Fukuda said the spring has come in our relations and, after two and a half hours of talks, I truly feel that the spring of China-Japan relations has arrived.”

Indeed, relations between the two countries are thawing after the cold snap of 2001-2006. During this period, China refused high-level contact with Japan because of former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s annual visits to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors the Japanese “war heroes” of World War ii. China believes that the act of visiting the Yasukuni Shrine honors Japan’s militant past, including Japanese atrocities against China like the rape of Nanking. The relationship between China and Japan improved significantly when Koizumi stepped down. These relations are improving even more under Fukuda’s leadership. When asked whether or not he would visit the Yasukuni Shrine, Fukuda said, “Would you do something your friend [China] would not like? You wouldn’t, right?”

In Japanese political circles, Fukuda is recognized as the leader of the pro-Chinese faction. In fact, Fukuda has even been hailed as the most pro-China leader since his father, Takeo Fukuda, was prime minister in the late 1970s. The elder Fukuda established what is called the Fukuda doctrine: the policy that Japan should forever renounce aggression against its Asian neighbors and instead focus on building mutually beneficial ties with them. The younger Fukuda is continuing his father’s legacy and working to make Japan more Asia-focused.

Expect China to do whatever it can to reciprocate Fukuda’s overtures. As tensions between China and America rise over the trade deficit, human rights issues and Iran’s nuclear program, Beijing will be forced to look more and more to its Asian neighbors for support. The Chinese are already busy making trade deals and conducting joint military exercises with their neighbors Russia and India. Fukuda’s pro-Chinese policies provide an excellent opportunity for China to cooperate with Japan in its efforts to join the Asian power bloc.

Fukuda is seen as somewhat of a kindly old man and a foreign-policy dove. He is a firm believer in good relations with both Asia and America. Yet, despite what Fukuda may believe, strong Japanese relations with the states of Asia cannot occur without Japan tempering its security and military relations with America. China has emerged as a major U.S. competitor on the world scene, and from Beijing’s perspective, Tokyo will have to moderate its strong alliance with America before it can come fully on board with the rest of Asia. As Sino-American relations decline, Japan will have to decide which friend it wants to please.

Japan may be already starting to make its choice. On December 17, the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force successfully destroyed a dummy ballistic missile in the first test of the Japanese missile-defense system. The anti-ballistic missile was launched from a Japanese ship off the coast of a Hawaiian island. Even though this test was conducted with cooperation from the United States, the ultimate goal for this project is for Japan to create its own missile-defense shield separate from the current U.S. nuclear “umbrella” that protects Japan. U.S. officials may hail this as another step toward greater security in East Asia; but it is really another step toward Japan being able to act independently of the U.S. By developing a missile-defense system separate from the current U.S. one in Japan, the Japanese are indicating that they may want to act independently of the United States in the future.

Within days of this missile test, the Democratic Party of Japan came out in support of a bill that approves the use of Japanese space technology for defense purposes. Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party also supports this bill, so it is very likely to be passed at the next ordinary Diet session, which convenes in January. This bill and the development of Japan’s missile-defense shield show that Japan may be already laying the groundwork for future tempering of its security and military reliance on the United States.

Fukuda has done a lot to improve Japanese relations with China and will continue to do even more. Yet his popularity is declining. It is likely that when Fukuda steps down that he will be replaced by a leader who is more willing to get tough on America—possibly opposition leader Ichiro Ozawa. In such a scenario, Fukuda would have played a vital role in aligning Japan with Asia in preparation for an anti-American leader, such as Ozawa, to take the final step into Asian integration by weakening Japan’s American alliance. Japan has a choice to make. It cannot work closely with two rivals. Eventually, it will have to choose its friends. America is likely to be the loser.

The Plain Truth, with Herbert W. Armstrong as its editor in chief, wrote 40 years ago, “Despite popular belief, Japan is not permanently committed to a pro-Western position. America has foolishly followed the policy of assuming that … Germany and Japan can be converted to the virtues of democracy in less than a generation. … Both Japanese and Germans are willing, for the present, to put up with their so-called democratic form of government—until some serious internal crisis is precipitated. … Japan tolerates her present form of government as long as it is economically expedient. If the time were ever to come—and it will comethat the Japanese could not feed off of American aid, we would witness a remarkable change in attitude toward the United States. Friendship would quickly evaporate” (April 1968).

Japan is moving toward a status where it will not need to “feed off of American aid” and where it will have a strong alliance with the nations of Asia. Watch for “a remarkable change” in Japan’s attitude toward America as it cooperates with the rising power bloc in Asia.

For more information on a coming Asian alliance, read Russia and China in Prophecy.

The Weekend Web

The Weekend Web

Dreamstime

The death of democracy and the end of the war on terror; plus, global warming: We’re either running out of time or gaining more!

Just when the United States began to make progress in the war on terror, particularly in Iraq, Washington now faces the frightening scenario of Pakistan erupting into full-scale civil war. President Bush and Congress have insisted that President Pervez Musharraf—an American ally in the war on terror—hold democratic elections, even to the point of threatening him with sanctions. Then the U.S. encouraged opposition leader Benazir Bhutto to come out of exile and to get involved in the “democratic” process.

She did—and now she’s dead. As Greg Sheridan wrote in the Australianyesterday, “The assassination of Benazir Bhutto is a catastrophe for Pakistani democracy and society. It is also a savage setback in the larger war on terror.”

At the National Review, Andrew McCarthy reminded us of Osama bin Laden’s 46 percent approval rating in Pakistan, compared to President Bush’s pitiful showing of just 9 percent. “If you really want democracy and the rule of law in places like Pakistan, you need to kill the jihadists first,” McCarthy wrote.

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton told Fox News: “I think the notion that by bringing Benazir Bhutto back to Pakistan we could facilitate moving to a Democratic system has obviously turned out to be incorrect.”

Robert Baer, former cia operative assigned to the Middle East, wrote, “Since 9/11 there has not been a single country in that region that has had peaceful and successful elections. Hamas’s victory in Gaza, the stalemate in Lebanon, elections in Iraq and now Pakistan—none of them have led to the stability, modernity and civil society this administration promised us.”

At theTrumpet.com, we have been writing about the “demise of democracy” for a number of years. Just one year after 9/11, for example, we wrote about how the democratization of the Middle East would result in an Islamic backlash:

That [democratization] has coincided with the massive export of American-produced television programs, music and other entertainment is more than coincidental. Human beings are generally not moved by logic or reason. It is imagination, emotion, feelings that motivate the masses of mankind. The appeal of “the good life”—typed by everything from its subculture of entertainment and national laid-back uniform of jeans, sweatshirt and sneakers to its voracious American-style consumerism and promotion of free and unmitigated choice within an economy of plenty—has been a powerful magnet to those in foreign lands. The simple equation in most minds is, “Democracy equals all of this.”There is a problem in this idea, however. As America has dumbed down its culture—its taste in all things from food to dress, from music to sitcoms—the quality of life and the fruits thereof are painting a very different picture of the results of democracy to the rest of the world from that which our Founding Fathers envisioned. Family breakdown, a huge drug subculture, rampant sexual perversion, violent crime—all these bitter fruits now being reaped by an Anglo-American society in decline are being perceived by undemocratic, religiously zealous, reactionary regimes as dramatic proof of the failure of the great Western dream.This perception has contributed to the Islamic backlash. It is, right now, exacerbating relationships between the U.S. and Europe. It is destined to have a horrific effect, ultimately, on the U.S. and Britain and its dominions.

The problem with spreading the democracy doctrine, we went on to write, is that it is predicated on this false assumption: that everyone else thinks like Americans.

In the June 2004 print edition of the Trumpet, we featured “Exporting Democracy” on our cover and asked, “Can it work?” Here is what we wrote:

The greatest fallacy in Western minds, perhaps, is that democracy in non-Western countries will spawn pro-Western administrations. This rarely happens, as Samuel P. Huntington wrote in The Clash of Civilizations. He called this the “democracy paradox,” saying that “adoption by non-Western societies of Western democratic institutions encourages and gives access to power to nativist and anti-Western political movements.” Elections in Islamic countries like Algeria and Turkey have placed Islamist, anti-U.S. politicians at the helm.Muslims tend to see Western democracy as the antithesis of Islam. As one Sunni sheik in Iraq put it, “[E]verything that is happening in our country is because we strayed from our religion. We strayed from Islam and took the democracy of the infidels and the freedom of the infidels. There is no solution except Islam, and stability will never come back without it. So insist on Islam” (Asia Times, March 23, 2004). The U.S. is facing those in the Middle East who believe Islam cannot remain pure if mixed with America’s version of democracy.

Nothing highlights this ideological clash—or the sheer lunacy of attempting to democratize jihadists—quite like the cnn poll linked to above. Instead of backing Musharraf who, for all of his flaws, is at least fighting terrorists and protecting Pakistan’s nukes, American policymakers are consumed with the idea of imposing democracy on a nation where Osama bin Ladin would trounce President Bush in a general election.

Wake-Up Call for European Leaders

Blogger Scott Ott had an interesting angle on the Bhutto assassination, saying it served notice to leaders in Europe.

Your secularism, your democracy will not stand. The growing Muslim populations in your own lands that you have done so much to tolerate, protect and celebrate, will soon rise up against you. Sharia law shall become your law. The Caliph shall rule you.It remains only for you to choose submission or assassination.

We have been following Islam’s demographic assault on Europe for some time now because of the prophesied clash to occur between radical Islam and a Vatican-led Euroforce. Here is what we wrote three weeks ago:

Too few are prepared to consider the fundamental forces at play in the Muslim-related crises occurring in Europe, such as [November’s] brutal riots in Paris; or the Danish cartoon crisis; or the multiple terrorist plots that have been foiled across Europe; or the emergence of sharia suburbs in European cities; or the anti-European, anti-Christian vitriol spewing from the mouths of Muslim preachers in Europe, even the moderate ones; or the network of Islamic radicals stretching from Bosnia to Britain, Spain to Germany; or the rapid construction of hundreds of minarets across the European skyline, indicative of a swelling Muslim tide.

The War Against Narcissism

Entrapped in political correctness and uncomfortable with any unfavorable portrayals of Islam, America’s leaders have defined its worldwide struggle as a “war on terror.” Terror, though, is not an enemy—it’s a tactic. Failing to clearly identify Islamist extremism and its chief sponsor nations as the enemy is like defining World War ii as a “war on blitzkrieg” so as not to directly implicate Germany.

In Britain, now even the words “war on terror” are considered inappropriate. According to Britain’s chief prosecutor, the UK government will no longer use the language “war on terror.”

Sir Ken Macdonald said terrorist fanatics were not soldiers fighting a war but simply members of an aimless “death cult.”The Director of Public Prosecutions said: ‘We resist the language of warfare, and I think the government has moved on this. It no longer uses this sort of language.”London is not a battlefield, he said.”The people who were murdered on July 7 were not the victims of war. The men who killed them were not soldiers,” Macdonald said. “They were fantasists, narcissists, murderers and criminals and need to be responded to in that way.”

Possible Iranian Embassy in Egypt

As our regular readers know, we have been closely following the thaw in relations between Iran and Egypt, two nations that have had no diplomatic ties since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. What a remarkable transformation there has been in their relationship over the past several months. Last week, a European news website reported this:

“If Egypt declared its readiness, we would even today be ready to reopen our embassy in Cairo,” Ahmadinejad said after the weekly cabinet session in Tehran. …Currently the former secretary of Iran’s National Security Council, Ali Larijani, is in Cairo on an unofficial visit which is believed by observers to be another effort to resume ties.Ahmadinejad termed Iran and Egypt as the two main pillars of the Islamic world, but said there were “still some considerations” before upgrading ties with Egypt to ambassador level.

Elsewhere on the Web

New home sales in the U.S. plunged to a 12-year low last month, according to a new report. In response to the report, the dollar posted its biggest weekly drop against the euro since 2006.

This article will update you on the situation in Lebanon regarding its still-vacant presidency and the restocking of Hezbollah’s army.

And Finally …

According to a new climate model, global warming may be speeding up the rotation of the Earth, resulting in the shortening of days. According to this report, however, global warming actually slows the Earth down, causing the planet to take just a wee bit longer to make a full rotation on its axis.

The Week in Review

The Week in Review

PT/Getty Images

A look at the Bhutto assassination, Russia’s pressure on Europe, Japan’s cozying up with China, America’s holiday credit binge, and much more.

Middle East

Throwing Pakistan into political turmoil and a firestorm of violence this week was the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, the country’s primary opposition leader and seemingly the only one who had the potential to help stabilize the country’s political situation. Elections slated for January 8 will now most likely be postponed. Bhutto’s death thrusts the nation’s politics—and the country—into disarray. Considering the political instability already extant in Pakistan, its unprecedented Islamic insurgency and its possession of nuclear weapons, any further security and political breakdown of the country means danger for the whole region and possibly the world. It will be up to Pakistan’s strongest and most influential national organization, the army, to quell the rioting and unrest sweeping much of the country.

While blame for the assassination is being thrown around within Pakistan, clearly Islamists were most likely behind the killing. In any case, they will most certainly take advantage of the situation now by trying to further destabilize and divide the army, which they have already largely infiltrated. President Pervez Musharraf is a wild card: Should he seize this opportunity to try to take charge of the military once more, an upheaval among the top ranks of the army may result. Pakistan is worth watching closely, particularly in light of Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry’s recent comment, “Pakistanalso has the nuclear bomb and could be taken over by radical Islam, with plenty of help fromIran. That means it could become a proxy of the Iranian mullahs.”

In Israel, Fatah’s anti-Israel agenda has been further exposed. “Fatah is planning to mark its 43rd anniversary this year with a new poster that presents all of Israel as Palestine,” reported the Jerusalem Post—evidence that Fatah does not recognize Israel’s existence. This is one more piece of evidence that discredits Fatah’s claim of being a moderate, West-friendly party that seeks peace with Israel.

Meanwhile, Israeli concessions keep flowing the way of the Palestinians. The Israeli government gave Hamas exclusive rights to broadcast its anti-Israel, violence-provoking message via radio from the Temple Mount, while at the same time banning Jews from visiting the site, during a week where sacred holidays of the Jews and Muslims crossed paths. Rabbi Chaim Richman of the Temple Institute was astounded at the symbolism involved: “Closing the Temple Mount to Jews all week long, including on our fast day, because of the Muslim holiday, emphasizes that the government not only favors Muslim sensibilities over Jewish ones, but also the Koranic version of our history over that of the Tanach, our Bible.”

Among both Jews and Palestinians, hope of peace is dying, according to a poll conducted by Hebrew University and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research. Nearly three out of four Israelis said the Annapolis peace conference was a failure, and 59 percent of Palestinians agreed. Only 8 percent of Israelis believed it was possible to achieve peace by the end of 2008; 23 percent of Palestinians agreed.

A new Pentagon report provides evidence that Iran is still aiding Shiite militias in Iraq. Canada also charged this week that Iran is allowing weapons and bomb-making equipment across its border with Afghanistan to the Taliban. This of course is nothing new, and only further confirms Tehran’s infamous position as the world’s prime sponsor of terrorism.

The increasingly confident Iran announced on Wednesday that Russia had agreed to deliver the S-300 surface-to-air missile system—thought to be among the best in the world, according to Stratfor—in 2008 and that negotiations were under way between the two countries for procurement of a further air defense system. The Russian deputy foreign minister has denied the Russians are selling Iran any such system, but admitted Moscow is assisting Iran in reinforcing its current air defense systems. A reinforced Iranian defense shield would make any air strike on Iran more costly. The U.S. or Israel would think twice before striking Iran. Russia’s promises of aid to Iran are also a way for Moscow (and Tehran) to extract concessions from the U.S. The one thing that Russia and Iran definitely agree on is their desire to undermine America.

Earlier in the week, Tehran rejected preconditions set by the U.S. for direct negotiations. “Iran has seen little need to play ball with the United States since the recent release of the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate and the Russian delivery of nuclear fuel,” reported Stratfor. “But the longer U.S.-Iranian talks remain stalled, the greater the chances of renewed Sunni-Shiite violence in Iraq” (December 24).

The U.S. also remains in a tight position between Turkey and the Kurds. For the third time in two weeks, Turkey conducted airstrikes against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq on Wednesday. Stratfor reports that apart from the limited value of the strikes in fighting Kurdish separatism, Turkey’s motivation was geopolitical: to complicate U.S.-Kurdish relations. The U.S., however, is in no position to stop it doing this; the cost would be the loss of Turkey’s help in the war in Iraq. It appears the Kurds, once more, are being sold out by their ally, the United States.

Europe

This week the temperature rose in some of Europe’s hottest spots. Serbia voted decisively against Kosovo’s independence. The resolution on the “protection of sovereignty, territorial integrity and constitutional order of Serbia” was passed by 220 votes to 14 in Serbia’s parliament. This resolution says that Serbia would reconsider its diplomatic ties with any country that recognized Kosovo’s independence. It also states that any treaties Serbia signs must recognize Serbia’s full territorial integrity. This is a bold step indicating Serbia will not let go of Kosovo easily.

Russia also stepped up the pressure on Europe over the Balkans. “In case of the unilateral recognition of the independence of Kosovo, Russia will be entitled to change its approach to the so-called unrecognized republics in the post-Soviet regions—South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Pridnestrovie,” said the speaker of Russia’s upper house of parliament, Sergei Mironov. This would cause a lot of trouble in Moldova and Georgia.

Georgia, a key nation for the control of oil and gas supplies, has enough trouble already. A coup plot by a candidate in Georgia’s presidential elections was uncovered this week. Russia is doing all it can to destabilize this area in order to frustrate EU efforts to free itself from Russia’s control of natural gas.

In this key area of gas politics, Russia gained a decisive advantage over the EU this week as it signed a contract with Turkmenistan to build a pipeline connecting the two nations. The EU was hoping that Turkmenistan would choose Europe as its main partner. Watch for competition for resources between the EU and Russia to heat up in the near future.

Asia

Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda made another step toward cementing Japan’s ties with China. On Thursday, he arrived in China to, in his own words, “further promote the development trend of Japan-China ties so that next year bilateral ties can develop even faster and move into a new stage.” During his visit, he will negotiate a dispute over oil and gas rights in the East China Sea and propose a joint Japanese-Chinese environmental foundation. Fukuda is widely regarded as the most pro-Chinese prime minister of Japan since his father in the late 1970s. As tensions with the U.S. rise over Japan’s role in the Iraq war, the Japanese are increasingly looking to the Asian continent for strong alliances.

On Wednesday, Russia launched the last three satellites needed to give its glonass satellite navigation system full coverage over the entire Russian region. glonass is the Russian equivalent to the U.S. Global Positioning System (gps). Russian President Vladimir Putin is pushing for global coverage for glonass by 2010. Modern militaries rely heavily on satellite technology. glonass is enabling Russia to act independently of the U.S. and its gps system.

In addition to expanding its own military capacity, Russia is arming Iran. As noted above, the Iranian defense minister announced that Russia is preparing to equip Iran with a powerful new air defense system. As long as Moscow keeps Washington preoccupied with the threat from Tehran, Putin is freer to go about his business of restoring Russia to its Soviet-era strength without American opposition.

Latin America

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez spent his week trying to earn political credit in Latin America: He arranged to retrieve three hostages from Colombia, a move that Associated Press said demonstrates “the guerrillas’ affinity for the socialist leader.” The hostage situation has been a point of contention between President Chavez and the U.S.-allied Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, who complained last month that Chavez had gone too far in contacting the head of Colombia’s army. Now, after having told Chavez to back off, Uribe finds himself saying the Venezuelan mission was authorized and thanking President Chavez for his efforts. The rebels hold several hundred hostages; Colombia will find itself looking to Venezuela for direction rather than its own president.

Anglo-America

The week in financial news held more worrying symptoms for the United States. On Sunday, the Associated Press reported that Americans are becoming consumed by their own credit card debt. Year-to-date, the value of credit card accounts that were at least 30 days overdue jumped 26 percent to more than $17 billion at the nation’s biggest card issuers. Defaults, which occur when lenders give up on ever receiving payment, surged 18 percent and are approaching $1 billion. Ninety-day delinquencies represented the worst trend, with major lenders saying these overdue accounts had increased by 50 percent or more. The report does not include data from the traditional consumerist, credit-bingeing American holiday season.

Meanwhile, those on the other side of the teller counter are taking their own lumps. America’s largest and most storied banks are stumbling through the quarter. For the first time in its 84-year history, storied investment bank Bear Stearns reported a quarterly loss. Bear’s fourth quarter has been battered by a $1.9 billion write-down. Investors decided to stick with Bear overall, however, since it did not seek a foreign-financed bailout like Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, and Merrill Lynch have. One wonders how bad it is when the nation’s biggest banks have to be bailed out, and few U.S. companies are willing or able to do the bailing.

The housing market collapse has squelched expansion in the fastest-growing states in the union. California, a historically high-expansion state, has experienced an outflow of residents and has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country. Also, new Equal Employment Opportunity Commission regulations allow employers to create two classes of retirees and reduce or eliminate health benefits when individuals turn 65 and become eligible for Medicare.

In British news, former Prime Minister Tony Blair completed his conversion to Catholicism last Friday night in a private ceremony. Blair’s wife is Roman Catholic, and the Blair children have all been christened into Catholicism. The lack of public response reveals Britons’ increasing apathy toward a power that has repeatedly tried to wrest control of the isles.

The Telegraph reported that Britain has earned the dubious title “sick man of Europe” for its “record levels of obesity, alcohol abuse, diabetes and smoking-related deaths. The rate of obesity in British adults is the worst in Europe and, in some areas, is now above the national average of the United States.”

Stats on November’s Housing Market: Ugly Stuff

Stats on November’s Housing Market: Ugly Stuff

Getty Images

The federal Census Bureau just released the latest statistics on the national housing market. Good? Bad?

Nope … ugly.

According to today’s release, new home sales in November fell an astounding 9 percent from October. And that’s the good news. On an annual basis, new home sales came in even worse, falling a gargantuan 34.4 percent from one year ago.

The new homes sales figure was the worst in more than 12 years.

The Census Bureau also released the latest construction data. Building permits were down 24.6 percent; housing starts, down 24.2 percent; and privately owned housing completions, down 28.7 percent from last year.

Analysts believe that the worsening housing industry and credit troubles could force consumers and businesses to curtail spending. Approximately 72 percent of the U.S. gdp is consumer spending. If that goes, the economy could turn ugly really quick.

Egypt-Israel Meetings Underpinned by Spirit of Division

Egypt-Israel Meetings Underpinned by Spirit of Division

Joao Cortesao/AFP/Getty Images

Mass weapons smuggling into Gaza show how deeply divided Israel and Egypt really are.

Egypt rejected Israeli accusations that it has not done enough to stop smuggling across the Egyptian border. Almost half a billion dollars’ worth of equipment is smuggled over the border each year, according to Arutz Sheva.

The tunnels are a huge thorn in the Israelis’ side. Earlier this week, Arutz Sheva wrote, “[W]hile the 150 tunnels bring in a total of some $150 million annually, the value of men, weapons and other merchandise smuggled in each year total more than three times that amount—close to a half-billion dollars.”

According to Maj. Gen. (res.) Yom Tov Samia, the former Israel Defense Forces Southern Command chief,

The Palestinians have brought into Gaza more than 30,000 rifles during the past two years, more than 6 million rounds of ammunition, more than 230 tons of explosives, and scores of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles. These are the weapons Israel will face next time. The next round in Gaza will look more like Lebanon than what Israel faced in Operation Defensive Shield in Judea and Samaria in 2002, or in previous rounds in Gaza.

The equipment smuggled through these tunnels is being used against Israel right now. Under a 2005 agreement, Egypt promised to have a 750-man border patrol in the area. The Egyptian border force, however, has been more of a help to the smugglers than a hindrance. Israel gave U.S. officials videotapes showing Egyptian police officers helping weapons smugglers across the border! The problem is so bad that even Palestinians have expressed concern.

Israel’s Foreign Minister Tizipi Livni raised the above issue with Egypt this week. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry’s response: “It is better for the Israeli minister to concentrate on negotiation efforts with the Palestinians, instead of speaking randomly about issues she should not be dealing with if she is not fully aware of the situation.”

Despite the extreme importance of the matter to Israel’s national security, and Egypt’s promise a couple of years ago, Egypt simply tells Israel to shut up and leave the problem alone!

Egypt is sliding toward Islamo-fascism. As we wrote last week, “If the ‘moderate’ Mubarak government is prepared to improve ties with the Jew-hating government of [Iranian] President [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad, how much more eager will an Islamist administration in Egypt be to jump in bed with Iran?”

A spirit of division exists between Egypt and Israel; Egypt is already working with Israel’s enemies. This problem is about to get a lot worse, however, as Egypt gets closer to Iran. For more information, see last week’s article “Egypt and Israel: the Geographic Reality.”