God’s Sacred Calendar (Part One)

God’s Sacred Calendar (Part One)

Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images

Did God inspire and preserve His sacred calendar through the Jews, or is the Hebrew calendar merely the work of carnal men?

Confusion persists today over when the sacred year should begin. Can we rely on the accuracy of the Hebrew calendar? Is it God-inspired, or merely the work of carnal men?

The argument to reject the Hebrew calendar is not new! Herbert W. Armstrong faced the same argument over 65 years ago! At that time, there was a man claiming the Passover fell on a different day, other than the 14th of Nisan, according to the Hebrew calendar. Mr. Armstrong answered this man’s argument in a Good News letter in 1940: “[U]nless God has preserved His sacred calendar through the Jews, then we do not know how to figure Passover or any of the holy days this year. For there is no authority for any other way. There is no Bible authority whatsoever for figuring the first day of the first month from the new moon nearest the spring equinox” (emphasis ours throughout).

Carefully read that last sentence again, because there are those who argue along this line: Just find the new moon nearest the spring equinox and calculate from there. (The spring equinox is when the time of the day and the night are equal in length—March 20 or 21 on the Roman calendar.) It is true that God says keep His holy days in season (Numbers 9:2-3). In other words, His spring festivals should be kept in the spring and the autumn festivals in autumn. And that is exactly what the Hebrew calendar ensures—that these days will be kept in their proper season. But nowhere does God tell us to find the new moon closest to the spring equinox and begin counting for yourself. God did not leave that responsibility to us—He left that to the Jews!

Notice! Mr. Armstrong continued in his letter, “God did not commit His oracles or the preservation of His times, to profane history …. [T]hey have been preserved by the Jews. … After thorough study of the Bible, of the Hebrew calendar, of history and every angle—after going into the matter with all the Eugene brethren and other brethren who have made a special study of this question, we have unanimously agreed that the Hebrew calendar has been preserved correct by the Jews.”

Let us consider further. How did Mr. Armstrong reach his conclusions? You will see that they are indeed biblically based.

Oracles Committed to Jews

Paul is very clear in Romans 3:1-2: “Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews are entrusted with the oracles of God” (Revised Standard Version). The Greek word for oracles in verse 2 simply means the words or utterance of God.

The oracles do not refer to Old Testament Scripture only. Notice what was written about the Hebrew calendar in the April 1981 Good News: “But what were the oracles committed in a public way to the Jews? The Hebrew Bible only? By no means! The Hebrew calendar also! For without the calendar, it would be impossible to fulfill correctly what is written in the Hebrew Bible about hallowed annual times. And not only the Bible and calendar, but the week also. These three—Bible, calendar and week—are all part of the oracles committed to the Jews for all mankind” (emphasis ours throughout).

But how can we rely on the Jewish people? The martyr Stephen said in Acts 7:39 that his Jewish ancestors rejected the teachings of Moses. And we all know the Jews eventually rejected the Messiah. How can we rely on people who have rejected God? Paul answers this very question in verse 3 of Romans 3: “What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God?” (rsv).

Good question! What if these people, to whom the oracles of God were committed, sinned and rebelled against God? Does that mean God would no longer preserve His oracles through them? “God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar …” (verse 4). God continued to preserve His oracles through them. “He simply pruned off those who refused to preserve His revelation for men. That is one reason the 10 tribes of Israel were cut off and sent into exile” (ibid.).

Here is where the argument breaks down for those who say the Hebrew calendar is not of God. They will readily admit that the Jews, even though they have rejected God’s revelation, have preserved an accurate and precise reading of the Hebrew Bible; but they reject the preservation of the Hebrew calendar on the basis that it has been preserved by rebellious men! As Paul wrote, let God be true! Do you believe God? Did He preserve His inspired Word, the Hebrew Bible, even if through carnal men? Most would say, of course. Then did He preserve His calendar, organized according to 19-year time cycles, so that we might keep His holy days in their appointed seasons? God’s Word says yes!

Concerning the preservation of the Hebrew calendar, the Good News wrote, “By faith we know we have copies, providentially preserved, of the original Word of God. By faith we know that the leadership in the Jewish courts did preserve the rules of the calendar God committed to them—even though they themselves have not wanted to follow those rules at all times. It is all a question of government—whether God is capable of ruling. Whether God can intervene in the affairs of His people to correct their errors—no men are perfect. And that is a matter of faith” (ibid.).

Let us now take a closer look at God’s sacred calendar as it has been preserved by the Jews.

God’s System of Time

God did not leave the seasons, days and years to chance or to the devices of men. On the fourth day of creation, He established a system, visible to man, for the purpose of regulating our calendar. He aligned the sun and moon in conjunction with the universe to function as a great time clock. God also created a system of annual and weekly sabbaths that demonstrate His great plan for mankind. By understanding His calendar and the meaning of the annual sabbath days, we can have a better understanding of our Creator’s plan for man.

Genesis 1:14 tells us God created signs for days,seasons and years. We know that a 24-hour day begins and ends at sunset. We must be able to mark the day and the week to understand how they are signs of creation and prophecy. To keep the Sabbath day holy, as required by the Fourth Commandment, we must know when the day begins and ends. In fact, just to count the seven days of a week and locate the Sabbath day, we need the sign of the day.

As the sun marks the day, it also marks the year. God’s plan for 6,000 years of human rule on this Earth and 1,000 years of Christ’s rulership (Revelation 20:4), known as the Millennium, requires us to be able to count years. One year is one orbit of the Earth around the sun. One solar year is 365 days and 6 hours. The Roman calendar, used by Western civilization today, is based only on this solar cycle, adding an extra day every fourth year to account for the extra six hours added yearly.

According to God’s calendar, however, months are determined by the moon—called lunar months. There are 29 days, 12 hours and 44 minutes in one lunar month. That is how long it takes for the moon to orbit the Earth. Twelve of these lunar months add up to 354.36 days—10.89 days short of one solar year (365 days, 6 hours). Following the lunar cycle only (as the Muslims do) would move the calendar forward more than 32 days every three years. April 1 would be where February 28 was three years earlier.

If the year had 13 months, there would be 383.86 days in a year, or 18.64 days more than a solar year. In this case, in just two years, the calendar would move back more than 37 days. April 1 would occur where June 6 was two years earlier.

With a 12-month year, Passover would be in the spring one year, the next year it would be in late winter, then move to early winter, and so on around the calendar. With 13 months per year, the movement would be in the other direction—and faster.

It is the Hebrew calendar which combines the lunar months and solar years to be completely synchronized—enabling God’s people to observe His holy days (as determined by the moon) in their proper seasons (as determined by the sun). In this way, God’s calendar is luni-solar, which is consistent with Genesis 1:14. God appointed both the sun and moon “for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years.”

God has instructed us to observe His holy days on specific days of the month, while at the same time, during appointed seasons in the year (Leviticus 23:4). The Hebrew calendar accomplishes this through a 19-year time cycle made up of 12 common years (with 12 months) and 7 leap years (with 13 months). The 19-year cycle is significant because that is how the lunar months and the solar yearsrelate. For every 19 solar years, the moon revolves around the Earth 235 times. “This remarkable astronomical relationship,” according to John Kossey, author of The Hebrew Calendar: A Mathematical Introduction, “makes it possible to combine common years and leap years together within a fundamental pattern that repeats itself every 19 years.”

The Calendar Preserved

The fact that God has a sacred calendar which keeps track of time should be undisputed. Again, Genesis 1:14 says the sun and moon are for seasons, days and years.

The Jewish historian Josephus has an interesting account concerning the descendants of Adam’s son Seth. He wrote, “Now this Seth … became a virtuous man; and as he was himself of an excellent character, so did he leave children behind him who imitated his virtues. … They also were the inventors of that peculiar sort of wisdom which is concerned with the heavenly bodies,and their order. And that their inventions might not be lost before they were sufficiently known … they made two pillars; the one of brick, the other of stone: They inscribed their discoveries on them both” (Antiquities of the Jews, I, ii, 3).

It appears as though God’s revelation concerning the heavenly bodies, including the times and seasons, began with the earliest generations.

But can we find evidence of an actual calendar in Scripture? Actually, we find plenty! Most are not aware of these facts.

In Exodus 20:9-10, God plainly refers to a seven-day week. In fact, you can find a much earlier account of the seven-day week in Genesis 1 and 2.

But what about the division of months? What about the Hebrew calendar? Does God refer to it in Scripture? Yes He does! Most of the time, the writers of the Old Testament seemed content to just speak of the number of the months (first, second, etc.). But when the actual name of the month is referred to, God inspired them to refer to the months on the Hebrew calendarnot the Egyptian, or any other calendar for that matter.

In Exodus 12:2, God begins giving instructions concerning the Passover by saying, “This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.” Notice the significance of this verse. God gave them a calendar! He told the Israelites which month was to be the first month. In Exodus 13:4, this month is called Abib, meaning an ear of corn. As the name of the first month reveals, the months were to be organized according to the annual harvest seasons. Anciently, in Palestine, barley ripened first. At that time, the green ears of the winter wheat began to show. All of God’s annual holy days are patterned after the two annual harvests in Palestine—spring and fall. That is why God appointed these days to be kept in season (Leviticus 23:4).

Baker’s Bible Dictionary refers to Abib as the first month “of the Jewish ecclesiastical year.” And so, early on in the Bible, we find evidence of the Hebrew calendar. Abib is mentioned five more times in the Old Testament.

In 1 Kings 6:1, there is a reference to the second month, Zif. Likewise, you can find names for the seventh and eighth months in Scripture (Ethanim in 1 Kings 8:2; Bul in 1 Kings 6:38).

When the Jews went into Babylonian captivity, they adopted different names for their months. Yet, is that where the Hebrew calendar ends in history? Does it disappear from Scripture? Not at all! God’s calendar was preserved. Notice Esther 3:7: “In the first month, that is, the month Nisan ….” The name Abib was changed to Nisan after the Jews went into captivity. Same calendar, same month, different name. In verse 13, you will see that the 12th month is referred to as Adar.

If you compare these names with any modern Jewish calendar, you will see that they are the same! 1 Chronicles 27:1-15 even refers to a 12-month year. Yet we know there had to be a 13th month added from time to time in order to keep God’s holy days in season. The 12th month, as we saw from Esther 3:13, is called Adar. Find a modern Hebrew calendar and you will see that, during a leap year, the 13th month is called Adar II.

Numerous other months named during the Babylonian captivity are mentioned in Scripture. In Esther 8:9, you will find the name for the third month on the Hebrew calendar, Sivan. Elul, the sixth month, is found in Nehemiah 6:15. The ninth month, Chisleu, is also mentioned (Nehemiah 1:1; Zechariah 7:1), along with the 10th month, Tebeth (Esther 2:16), and the 11th month, Sebat (Zechariah 1:7). These Hebrew calendar names are used repeatedly throughout the Bible.

So we find plenty of evidence of an actual calendar in the Bible. And in 1 Chronicles 12:32, we find evidence of the fact that God revealed it and preserved it through men: “And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times,to know what Israel ought to do.”

According to the Targum (a sixth-century b.c. paraphrase of the Old Testament), “the sons of Issachar … had understanding to know the times, and were skilled in fixing the beginnings of years, the commencement of months, and the intercalation of months and years … that they might show Israel what to do; and their teachers were two hundred chiefs of the Sanhedrin.”

The fact that God preserved His calendar through men, just as He did Old Testament Scripture, should not surprise us. For as the Good News wrote, “[W]ithout the calendar, it would be impossible to fulfill correctly what is written in the Hebrew Bible about hallowed annual times.”

The Jews may have gone into captivity, but the calendar was preserved. Bible history proves it. And Paul confirmed it in Romans 3:1-2.

(To be continued.)

What If Hitler Had WMDs?

What If Hitler Had WMDs?

Even without weapons of mass destruction, Nazism sparked a firestorm of destruction resulting in 50 million casualties.

In his keynote address at the Jerusalem Conference on February 20, Bernard Lewis discussed Iran’s active pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. But even withoutwmds, Lewis noted, Iran is still extremely dangerous. Adolf Hitler, he reminded his audience, never had weapons of mass destruction. And look at what that man accomplished with his non-nuclear arsenal.

Several speakers at the Jerusalem Conference talked about how slow democratic societies are to confront an ominous threat. The day before Lewis spoke, Israeli Professor Uzi Arad explained why Western elites find diplomatic policies of appeasement so attractive. “The opposite of appeasement—an effort to blunt, to contain and to confront—clearly entails a higher risk of direct confrontation, which may then erupt in some conflict. When faced with this choice between deferring … or taking the risk of immediate clash, all democratic societies by their nature are not prone to want to go to war. It is not in their ethos.”

Prior to World War ii, Western democracies exhausted every diplomatic option in order to appease Adolf Hitler and to avert armed conflict. It resulted in the deadliest war this world has ever seen. Were it not for Winston Churchill’s leadership, the Allied reaction to the spread of Nazism would have been too little too late. Yet, when considering the devastation of World War ii, it would be hard to argue that we almost waited until it was too late.

It was too late.

Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu recently said, “Churchill once spoke about the sleep of democracies and that they are only woken up by the jarring gong of danger, usually when it is about to be too late. So far, they’ve woken up in time. But not really, because the last time we’ve had a totally implacable ideology, a very violent one—actually messianic in the form of Nazism—they didn’t wake up in time. Yes, the West was saved. But we know how many millions died, including millions of our own people” (February 20).

Because of our failure to confront a demonic madman, 50 million souls died in the Second World War.

The High Cost of Appeasement

Within months of Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in 1933, Winston Churchill presciently warned during a parliamentary debate, “There is danger of the odious conditions now ruling in Germany being extended by conquest to Poland, and another persecution and pogrom of Jews being begun in this new area.”

Yet, even by the end of the 1930s, much of the world looked upon Hitler’s persecution of Jews as a purely internal German matter. No one confronted his implacable ideology. In a speech to the Reichstag on Jan. 30, 1939—six years after he became chancellor of Germany—Hitler lifted all remaining shreds of his veil to conceal the plot to exterminate an entire race. “In the course of my life I have often been a prophet, and have usually been ridiculed for it,” Hitler said. “I will once more be a prophet: If the international Jewish financiers in and outside Europe should succeed in plunging the nations once more into a world war, then the result will not be the Bolshevization of the Earth, and thus the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe!”

Even before this satanic prophecy, Hitler’s Lebensraum had already been set in motion, beginning with the rape of Austria in March 1938. In September of that year, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain signed the Munich Agreement, transferring Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland into the hands of Hitler on the condition that the fuehrer would make no further territorial demands.

“The idea that safety can be purchased by throwing a small state to the wolves is a fatal delusion,” Churchill warned. Chamberlain, on the other hand, proclaimed “peace for our time” in front of cheering throngs of Brits. He prophesied to Lord Halifax, “All this will be over in three months.”

A little more than three months later, Hitler prophesied of the annihilation of the Jewish race. A couple months after that, he helped himself to the rest of Czechoslovakia. It took six months for him to violate the terms of the Munich treaty. In six years, he annihilated one third of the entire Jewish race.

Yet, it wasn’t until Hitler’s September 1939 invasion of Poland that Britain finally awakened from its long, deluded slumber. It would be more than two years after that before the United States joined the Allies in fighting the forces of tyranny and oppression—and even then, only after being bombed at Pearl Harbor.

In The Gathering Storm, Churchill wrote about how the “laws of war” had been obliterated by the Nazi regime. In prior conflicts, for the most part, both sides would meet on the battleground, away from civilians. But during World War ii, “every bond between man and man was to perish,” Churchill wrote.

Crimes were committed by the Germans under the Hitlerite domination to which they allowed themselves to be subjected which find no equal in scale and wickedness with any that have darkened the human record. The wholesale massacre by systematized processes of 6 or 7 millions of men, women and children in the German execution camps exceeds in horror the rough-and-ready butcheries of Genghis Khan, and in scale reduces them to pigmy proportions. Deliberate extermination of whole populations was contemplated and pursued by both Germany and Russia in the Eastern war. The hideous process of bombarding open cities from the air, once started by the Germans, was repaid 20-fold by the ever-mounting power of the Allies, and found its culmination in the use of the atomic bombs which obliterated Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

It was at the very end of the Second World War, when American bombers destroyed two cities with weapons of mass destruction, that the worldwide slaughter of 50 million human beings finally ended. As horrific as that nightmare was, imagine how much worse it could have been had Hitler started World War ii with wmds.

The Final Chapter

When President Roosevelt asked Winston Churchill for input about naming the Second World War, the prime minister unhesitatingly blurted out, “the Unnecessary War.” As Churchill wrote in The Gathering Storm, “Up till 1934 at least German rearmament could have been prevented without the loss of a single life. It was not time that was lacking.”

It was Western will, of course, that was in short supply. Even as late as 1939, Western leaders were hoping to avert armed confrontation by appeasement. Churchill wrote his series of books on the Second World War to document how it could have been prevented. “We shall see how the counsels of prudence and restraint may become the prime agents of mortal danger,” he wrote—“how the middle course adopted from desires for safety and a quiet life may be found to lead direct to the bull’s-eye of disaster.”

If the pages of history have already been written about the consequences of acting too late when the world was at the threshold of entering into an atomic age, what will be the consequences of non-response this time around—in the age of nuclear proliferation?

Commentator Mark Steyn said in a speech earlier this month, “We have already seen something worse than the appeasement of the 1930s. We don’t have the same excuse that Neville Chamberlain and Lord Halifax had 70 years ago because our appeasement is done knowing the full consequences of what happened last time around. I think that makes it worse” (February 11).

What makes it worse still is that a new generation of Hitlers will have nuclear weapons at its disposal.

Mankind hasn’t been in this position before, to borrow Winston Churchill’s prose. And if that was true in 1929, think about what it means today. Notice what Churchill wrote in 1925, a full 14 years before Hitler began his rampage:

May there not be methods of using explosive energy incomparably more intense than anything heretofore discovered? Might not a bomb no bigger than an orange be found to possess a secret power to destroy a whole block of buildings—nay, to concentrate the force of a thousand tons of cordite and blast a township at a stroke? Could not explosives even of the existing type be guided automatically in flying machines by wireless or other rays, without a human pilot, in ceaseless procession upon a hostile city, arsenal, camp, or dockyard?As for poison gas and chemical warfare in all its forms, only the first chapter has been written of a terrible book.

More than three quarters of a century later, we are now compiling material for the last few chapters of that dreadful book. These are the chapters Jesus Christ referred to when His disciples asked Him for the sign of His Second Coming and the end of the world. “For then shall be great tribulation,” Jesus said, “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: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matthew 24:21-22).

Only in a nuclear age could this prophecy be fulfilled.

France, UAE, Qatar Conduct Joint Military Exercises

France, UAE, Qatar Conduct Joint Military Exercises

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France reinforces its own security role in the Middle East.

In a demonstration of their growing affinity, France, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar began their first-ever war games in the Persian Gulf on Monday.

The joint military exercise, which will last until March 5, is no small venture. It involves 1,500 French, 2,500 uae and 1,300 Qatari troops, operating on land, sea and air in half a dozen warships and dozens of aircraft and armored vehicles. The operation is taking place on uae territory and in international waters—not coincidentally, close to the Strait of Hormuz.

Although France and uae officials deny any link between the timing of these maneuvers and the stand-off between the West and Iran over Tehran’s nuclear program, the Jerusalem Postreports the “war games will likely put France and the Gulf nations in a better state of preparedness for any future confrontation with Iran” (February 26).

These exercises come on the heels of Paris signing a deal with the uae to become the first Western nation outside the United States to build a permanent military base in the Persian Gulf. These two recent events are indicative of a trend emerging in Middle Eastern politics.

In recent months, Europe has been looked to by Middle Eastern nations as a potential source of stability and protection in the Middle East, a role the United States has traditionally held, as evident in the 1991 Gulf War.

With American troops now bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq and U.S. presidential candidates clamoring for their return home, it’s not surprising to see Gulf states such as the uae interested in diversifying their alliance portfolios.

France, a prominent member of the European Union, has answered the call, reflecting a growing trend in European politics to give a helping hand militarily to troubled regions, particularly troubled regions that are rich in resources. Don’t be surprised if other European states intensify their security and military involvement in the region as well.

Europe has a vested interest in the stability of the Middle East; nearly two thirds of the world’s oil supply originates there. But there are reasons other than oil to believe France and other EU nations will continue to expand their role in Middle Eastern security affairs.

The augmentation of a Europe-Arab alliance brings to mind a fascinating end-time prophecy, described in Psalm 83. The fulfillment of this prophecy, among others, is a strong proof of the existence of an Almighty Creator.

To learn more about this coming European-Arabian alliance, read The King of the South.

Australia—Where to Now?

Australia—Where to Now?

Adek Berry/AFP/Getty Images

After 11 years of conservative government, Australia has chosen a socialist government. What is the nation now in for, given today’s rapidly changing global order?

In the middle of last year, the realists within Western society had reason to celebrate. Finally, among all of the simpering, mealy-mouthed, feminist, politically correct claptrap that passes for political dialogue in this disturbed 21st century, a loud bell rang. Melanie Phillips, that paragon of British political incorrectness, heard it, and she did a double take. “Just what was that ghostly and unfamiliar noise we heard over the weekend?” She asked in the May 13 edition of the Daily Mail. Answering her own question, she retorted, “[I]t was the sound of a country’s political leader actually exercising leadership.”

Phillips was referring to John Howard, Australia’s prime minister at the time, ordering his nation’s cricket team to pull out of a scheduled tour of Zimbabwe, and even threatening to suspend the players’ passports if the sport’s governing body did not abide by his decision.

At the time, Phillips had recently returned from a visit to Australia. Concerning her impressions of the political scene in the Antipodes, she made the observation, “Coming from Britain to Canberra to interview members of the Australian government is like leaving a fetid malarial swamp to be douched with fresh cold water from a mountain spring.” She praised these politicians for simply being “on-side in the great fight for civilization against barbarism” (Spectator, March 16, 2007).

Just one year on from that visit, I wonder what Ms. Phillips’s impressions would be of Australia’s new socialist government.

I visited my beloved home country last October. The mood on the Gold Coast in the midst of the Queensland spring was tangibly anti-Howard. The general feeling was that Australia, after 11 years of conservative federal government, needed a change.

Change it got.

At the national elections last November, John Howard and his conservative Liberal Party lost to Kevin Rudd and his center-left Labor Party. In the process, Howard lost his own Sydney seat by a tight margin. The conservatives now sit on the opposition benches of the Australian Parliament.

Kevin Rudd lost little time in revealing his true political colors, and pink they proved to be. He immediately announced the withdrawal of Aussie troops from Iraq and followed that up by creating history in the Australian Parliament, having Aboriginals do a tribal dance on the floor of the House. He then gave a speech declaring on behalf of all Australians an apology for the way they had treated the indigenous people that populated the land at the time that Great Britain took possession of it, and their progeny down to this day.

Although an Australian citizen, I do not include myself in the prime minister’s apology. The reason is that, in reference to my fellow Australians of any creed or color, I owe none of them an apology within the sense of that delivered publicly by Kevin Rudd. While I do owe each of them, like every single member of the family of man, due respect as a human being, I find nothing to warrant a blanket apology to any particular national group. This most particularly goes for the myth of “the stolen generations.”

One of the few vocal dissenting voices over the prime minister’s apology to Australia’s Aboriginal minority is journalist Andrew Bolt. Having clearly exposed the lie that claims Australia was guilty of a policy of stealing Aboriginal children from their parents, and very regularly providing ample evidence to support the fact that it is a lie perpetrated by self-interest groups, the entertainment industry and mass media, Bolt condemned the new Australian prime minister and his fellow camp followers for entrenching the deceit. “To Rudd and other Say-Sorries it simply doesn’t matter that there’s no evidence any Australian government had a policy to steal children just because they were Aboriginal.”

“Rudd is a sentimentalist who wants to say sorry regardless of the facts about the ‘stolen generations,’” Bolt wrote. “But I am a rationalist who can only say a sorry that respects the truth …” (Herald Sun,February 8).

What should be of even deeper concern to Australians is the method of government that is now in process of imposing itself on the nation. It is a form of government starkly in contrast to that which Australia experienced during its past decade of economic growth, of internal stability and external security. Australia’s swing to the left in the national elections witnessed how few really appreciate that there is a strong link between traditional, conservative values and experiencing these blessings.

When one reviews Australia’s brief political history since its federation as a Commonwealth in 1901, a cyclical pattern of swinging from left to right in regular rhythm over the past century is revealed. But through it all is threaded a degree of down-to-earth common sense that eventually bails the country out of local, statewide or even national disaster from time to time. Being largely of British stock, Aussies are known for producing their best when they are in the last ditch with their backs to the wall. That is the Anzac tradition, earned with honors in battle both in the desert of the Middle East and the mud of the Western Front during World War i.

But the link to the Anzac tradition is now almost severed, as the generation that experienced that terrible war has all but died out. Australia is now governed by those who never knew the impact of world war nor suffered the privations of a global economic depression. Without such a test on national character, Australia is in danger of becoming soft—soft-headed in particular.

The recent swing from right to left in the Australian electorate is powerful. Latest polls give Prime Minister Rudd a 70 percent support rating. But, considering the early indications, although Australia’s left-wing mass media did an extremely effective job of brainwashing the public into accepting a change of government, what is emerging already is a form of government that they may well live to regret.

Andrew Bolt is one of few who recognize the danger. “Rudd is building himself a model of soft-corporatism, in which political opposition will be muted and dissenters denied political (and, increasingly, even media) representation. This is a terrible mistake for the Liberals, and an erosion of democracy” (ibid., February 14).

Australia enjoyed a feel-good mood in the wake of the recent election. However, realists perceive that the timing of Mr. Rudd’s electoral success could present the new Australian government with a real problem. In a hint of early worries about Australia’s economy, “The Rudd government has declared Australia should be able to avoid recession despite high inflation and a slowing world economy” (ibid., February 11). However, some see dangerous shoals ahead for an Australian economy that is so heavily geared to the commodities markets for income, drastically dependent on imports for consumer goods, and sports a currency that gives every indication of being overpriced.

To add to these concerns, this week Australians found out they were not immune to the spreading disease of financial failure courtesy of the U.S. subprime mortgage meltdown. “The American subprime virus has arrived in Australia,” says Jonathan Pain, chief investment strategist with hfa Asset Management. “In an age of globalization, no nation can be viewed in isolation.”

“[A] wave of house repossessions,” reports the Age, “is now claiming about 800 homes every week around the country, because families can no longer afford their mortgage repayments. Now analysts are warning another 300,000 households are at risk …” (February 24).

But the subprime backwash is not the only challenge now facing Australia’s new government. The effect of the Rudd government’s platform on a number of items in which it proposes sweeping changes to the Australian economy and social order has yet to be measured.

There is the challenge of Australia’s labor union movement involving burning questions on contract work and workplace agreements. Mr. Rudd will have to guide legislation through Australia’s upper house of Parliament, the Senate, where his government has a minority representation. He will have to meet demands for compensation from Aboriginals now that the government has documented an admission of guilt for alleged crimes against them. He’ll have to balance the demands of Greens and global-warming cranks against those of a large mining lobby. At the same time, with recession looming, he will have to address the promises he made to reduce the impact of high costs on staples for the average Australian household.

All this is a tall order even for an experienced government, let alone for one as wet behind the ears as that led by Mr. Rudd, and it will all be reflected in the background of 16 years of continuing growth that has spoiled Australians of the present generation.

As commentators for the Sydney Morning Herald put it, “Rudd Labor has vanquished the second-most tenacious leader Australia has known, but a series of demons, dragons and other dangers await the victors as they arrive in their ministerial suites.”

The burning questions that so heavily impinge on Australia’s future at this juncture are these: Just what is the Australian identity today? What are the real values that Australians respect and seek to protect from the impact of creeping multiculturalism? What are the standards that underpin Australian society today?

The realists worry about all this.

As Melanie Phillips observed, “Throughout the West … [t]he political class is incapable of disinterested statesmanship because it is no longer sure in what—if anything—it still believes” (Daily Mail, May 13, 2007).

Of Australia’s prime minister of the past decade, Phillips noted, “Mr. Howard, in sharp contrast, is entirely free of such absurd and crippling cultural cringe. He believes in Australia and its Western values. He thinks these values are superior to any alternatives. And it is this total absence of equivocation in upholding the national interest which explains his robust defense of both Australian identity and Western civilization against attack” (ibid.).

We simply pose this question: In this age of great global disruption, this age of immense challenges to Western civilization from contending cultures and great religious movements foreign to the West, does Australia—which for the past 11 years stoically resisted incursions upon its foundational values, institutions and freedoms—now, under its new government, have what it takes to continue a robust defense of Australian identity?

Benedict the King-Breaker

Benedict the King-Breaker

Andreas Solaro/AFP/Getty Images

Is the Vatican about to bring down another European government?

Exactly one month ago, the Trumpetexposed the Vatican’s role in bringing down the government of Italy. In January, Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi was forced to resign after Clemente Mastella, the Catholic leader of Italy’s Udeur Christian Democrat Party, quit his post as justice minister. His resignation undermined Prodi’s coalition government, causing it to lose its majority in the senate.

Mastella, long recognized as a Vatican rook, was operating on the instructions of church leaders who were frustrated by Prodi’s liberal tendencies. “Prodi’s government dared to challenge the ecclesiastical hierarchy for the second time and this time it has had its hands burned,” wrote Italian newspaper La Stampa. Vatican fingerprints were all over Prodi’s political corpse.

Is the prime minister of Spain next?

General elections in Spain are less than two weeks away (March 9), and the Vatican has been nearly as large a campaign figure in the tight election race as the politicians themselves. The church’s attention has been solely focused on undermining one man: Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, leader of the Socialist Party and the prime minister of Spain.

Zapatero was elected in 2004 thanks largely to a groundswell of public emotion after an 11th-hour train bombing by al Qaeda in Madrid. The leftist, morally vacuous, terrorist-appeasing socialist leader whom shell-shocked voters flocked to has long rankled Pope Benedict and Vatican minders in Spain. Since his fortuitous election, he has pushed for more liberal abortion laws, legalized homosexual marriage, made divorce easier, and tried, in vain, to negotiate a peace accord with the Basque terrorist group eta.

Zapatero runs against the grain of the church on nearly every issue. For four years, he has been a thorn in the Vatican’s side. That’s why Catholic leaders, with great ardor and very little subtlety, have been working tirelessly to prevent his re-election.

On December 31, hundreds of thousands (some reports said upward of 1.5 million) of people gathered, at the behest of Archbishop of Madrid Antonio María Rouco, in the city of Madrid to celebrate mass and signal their support of the traditional family. It didn’t take long before the pro-family rally evolved into an anti-government demonstration, fueled by a stream of veiled and not-so-veiled slanders against the Spanish prime minister by the Madrid cardinal, fellow Catholic leaders and celebrities.

Even the keynote speaker, Pope Benedict xvi, speaking via video-link, used the rally to take a jab at the Spanish government and influence voters toward conservative parties. Referring to traditional marriage, the pope reminded the crowd that marriage is “founded in the indissoluble union between man and woman,” and is the institution “in which human life is sheltered and protected from its beginning until its natural end.”

Other Catholic leaders were sharper and more direct in their criticism of the Zapatero government. Cardinal Rouco, a lightning rod for leftist criticism, told the crowd he was saddened by the Spanish government’s rejection of what are fundamentally human rights issues, and called for a “new juridical civilization.” Bishop Agustín García-Gasco, prelate of Valencia, warned that the attacks against the family during the Socialist government disrespected the 1978 Constitution, and pushed the nation toward the “dissolution of democracy.”

The massive assembly, defined by the spirited ridicule and political assassination of the Zapatero administration, was more in the spirit of an American-style political campaign than an innocent gathering of churchgoers in support of the traditional family. And it was sponsored by the archbishop of Madrid and more than 50 Catholic leaders!

A month later, the church took another stinging shot at the Zapatero campaign. On January 31, the Spanish Bishops Conference released an unambiguous paper effectively directing Spaniards to vote against the government and in favor of the conservative People’s Party (PP). With very little nuance, the communiqué informed voters that they should not vote for parties that support homosexual marriage or other social reforms that conflict with Catholic doctrine. The statement also warned against voting for parties that would negotiate with Basque terrorists.

Catholic Online cited the statement from the Bishops Conference: “Although it is true that Catholics can support and participate in various parties, not all programs are compatible with the faith and obligations of Christian life or with the aims and values Christians should promote in public life” (emphasis mine throughout).

The message to Spain’s 38 million Catholics was clear: If it doesn’t gel with the church’s beliefs, reject it.

Spain is 94 percent Catholic. And while it has gravitated toward secularism in recent years, religion remains an influential lever in the lives of millions of Spanish, especially the middle-aged and elderly.

That reality is not lost on Prime Minister Zapatero, who is enraged by Vatican efforts to manhandle Spanish politics. Liberal politicians and commentators in America complain incessantly about the influence of Christian leaders over conservative, evangelical voters. Forget Pat Robertson and Joel Osteen—the Spanish prime minister is being forced into the ring with Pope Benedict xvi and the whole government-shredding Vatican propaganda machine.

The Spanish government reacted with fury after the January 31 statement, accusing the bishops of wanting the nation to revert back to the conservative, Catholic-sponsored dictatorship of Generalissim Francisco Franco. Within three days of the January 31 statement, the Spanish ambassador to the Vatican had met with Vatican officials to lodge the government’s complaint against the church’s meddling.

“It’s unheard of,” said Zapatero (with little regard for Vatican history), referring to the church’s political strong-arming. He demanded “more respect” from the clergy when debating with Spain’s elected leader. In a veiled threat, he said that the possibility of reviewing agreements under which the church gets millions of euros a year in state funding “is always open.”

“This is one of the most visible confrontations between the church and the government in the past 30 years,” said José María Martinez Patino, a Jesuit priest and head of the Meeting Foundation, an independent research organization. Patino believes the Spanish church’s position stems directly from the conservative thinking of Pope Benedict.

Nearly every week, attacks are being waged on the Socialist incumbent by Catholic leaders and even the pope himself. On Tuesday, the archbishop of Toledo, Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, said that, “like it or not,” Spain’s memory and identity were forged by the Catholic Church. Addressing the question of whether the Spain of tomorrow will be Christian, the cardinal said, “She will be if she sticks to her roots, if she keeps her memory and her identity alive.”

Spain’s leftward shift has been so intense that it is now perceived as one of the most liberal societies in Europe. That reputation infuriates Catholic leaders, and they are working untiringly to return Spain to its historically staunch Catholic, conservative roots. The election race is tight. Zapatero’s lead over Mariano Rajoy, the leader of the conservative, Catholic-backed People’s Party, is narrow.

But with elections still nearly two weeks away, plenty of time remains for the conservative opposition parties, with support from the Vatican, to cut the lead of the incumbent. Don’t be surprised to see greater Catholic meddling over the next two weeks. It would hardly be surprising if some of Pope Benedict xvi’s own messages in that time are tailored to papal ambitions in Spain’s general election.

Between Vatican interference and the broader trend toward the right sweeping European governments, it would not be surprising to see the election of a right-wing, conservative, Catholic-compliant government in Spain on March 9.

European history provides heaps of evidence showing the Vatican’s role as Europe’s king-maker and king-breaker. The church has been the dominant force behind Europe’s greatest leaders and states since the time of Emperor Constantine in the fourth century. The Vatican has been Europe’s single greatest constant.

Every dark and sinister force that has ever emerged from the European landscape has been empowered, legitimized and exploited by the Vatican. Charlemagne, Napoleon, Garibaldi, Hitler—the imperialistic ambitions of each of these tyrants was fueled by or assisted in some way by backers in the Vatican.

Time after time, Vatican meddling, most of the time by proxy, has resulted in the death of tens of millions of people, destroyed entire states, and undermined the European balance of power. The Vatican’s meddling in Italy and Spain today is rooted in this jolting history.

No other source reveals the reality of the Vatican as deeply or as presciently as the Holy Bible. It is the most authoritative source of knowledge about the Catholic Church. It gives a thorough understanding of the history and prophecy of the Catholic Church. For more information, read Mystery of the Ages.

In the book of Revelation, God speaks at length about the Catholic Church. In Revelation 13:11, He employs a striking analogy to describe this great religious beast. Here, He says this church looks like a lamb, innocent, just and righteous in the eyes of most people. It even appears as if it’s the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. But it speaks like a dragon! Study European history. Read about Charlemagne, the Crusades and World War ii Ustashi death squads. Then ask yourself, is there a better analogy for the Catholic Church’s role in European history?

It looks like a lamb, but speaks like a dragon! And as the Bible says, out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.

The lessons of history can be among the hardest for the human mind to grasp. This is because history is mired in unspeakable brutality and unthinkable horror. Reconciling the past means admitting that the forces that made it inevitable are still prevalent today. Human nature is the one great constant. History teaches us that yesterday’s nightmares are tomorrow’s realities. Given the same or similar stimuli, the whole cycle of history will repeat itself.

That’s not something most people want to confront. So we continue to neglect to study and learn from the lessons of history. But our failure to consider the past makes its future repetition no less inevitable.

To properly grasp the significance of the Vatican’s involvement in Italian and now Spanish politics, we must bravely consider it against the backdrop of the Catholic Church’s historic role in Europe. That’s a bold, riveting and alarming study. If you’re interested in making such a journey, you can begin by reading Germany and the Holy Roman Empire.

Russia Encourages Serbs in Kosovo and Bosnia to Secede

Russia Encourages Serbs in Kosovo and Bosnia to Secede

Andrej Isakovic/AFP/Getty Images

Moscow supports Bosnian and Kosovo Serbs uniting with their motherland. Europe is trying to further divide them. What does the future hold for the Balkans?

The Kremlin has sent two representatives to Serbia to implement what could be Moscow’s next major move against the West over Kosovo’s independence.

The representatives were not lightweights, either. The first was Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, the man who chairs Gazprom and is Putin’s—and therefore the inevitable—pick for the next president of Russia. The second man was Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

“Serbia is a single state whose jurisdiction is stretching through its entire territory,” said Medvedev during a meeting with Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica. “We will stick to this as our principle in the future.”

In keeping with this Russian principle concerning the Serbian state, Medvedev not only reiterated Moscow’s refusal to recognize Kosovo, he and Lavrov stood right beside the Serbian prime minister as he declared Serbia’s intension to rule the parts of Kosovo where “loyal citizens” still looked to Belgrade for governance (Stratfor, February 25).

The “loyal citizens” that Kostunica referred to are most likely in Kosovo’s provinces of Leposavic, Zvecan and Zubin Potak. These provinces contain a Serbian majority, directly abut Serbian territory and are largely separated from the rest of Kosovo by the Iber River.

Lavrov followed Kostunica’s declaration with a warning to the West: Supporting Kosovo’s Albanians “will only lead to the creation of one more frozen conflict and will push the prospect of stabilizing Europe, and primarily stabilizing the Balkans, far away,” he said.

Russia and Serbia are sending a strong message to the European Union and the United States: If the West supports independence of Kosovo’s Albanians from Serbia, Russia will support the independence of Kosovar Serbs from Kosovo.

Bosnian Secession

Both the EU and nato would be reluctant to see Kosovo split, but all in all the transfer of three small counties from Kosovo back to Serbia would be a relatively small retaliation for the humiliation both Russia and Serbia received when Kosovo declared independence.

Moscow may have another more drastic option up its sleeve.

Since its 1992-1995 war, the former Yugoslav republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina has been composed of two largely autonomous states: the Serbian-run Republica Srpska and the Muslim-Croat Federation.

Since February 17, more than 10,000 Bosnian Serbs have taken to the streets of their Bosnian stronghold, Banja Luka, to protest Kosovo’s declaration of independence. Most Bosnian Serbs now feel that they should be allowed to secede from Bosnia-Herzegovina and rejoin their Serbian motherland.

The protesters in Banja Luka cry, “We will not give the Serbian soul to the devil” and, “We want independence for Republika Srpska!”

These protests have far deeper roots than just mob indignation. Srpska Prime Minister Milarad Dodik fully supports the protest, telling the demonstrators, “This is a democratic, human revolt!” The Bosnian Serb parliament has also come out against Kosovo’s independence and has stated that Republika Srpska should secede from Bosnia if a significant part of the United Nations and the EU recognize Kosovo.

EU ambassadors to Bosnia have strongly rejected such rhetoric, saying that these Serbs have no right to secede from Bosnia-Herzegovina under the peace deal that ended Bosnia’s war.

Nevertheless, Dodik made it a point to attend the Monday meeting between Medvedev and the Serbian prime minister.

At that meeting, Medvedev stated that Serbia’s participation in Russia’s planned South Stream gas pipeline to southern Europe was an act of Russian support for Serbia over the Kosovo issue. “It is an element of our support—moral, material and economic—to a state which has found itself in a very difficult position and which—unfortunately, due to the will of some other countries—is being doubted as a single territorial entity,” he said (Interfax, February 26).

Medvedev affirmed that Srpska—not all of Bosnia-Herzegovina, just Srpska—would be included in the Russian buy-up of most of the Serbian energy sector and in the proposed South Stream pipeline.

According to Stratfor, Srpska is a net energy exporter and really has no need for Russian gas. The fact that Dodik traveled all the way to Serbia to meet with Medvedev about a gas deal he does not need, combined with the fact that Dodik has expressed approval over Srpska secessionist riots, has led to speculation Russia may back both the Bosnian and the Kosovo Serbian secessionist movements.

Supporting the reunion of Srpska and the Serb-dominated counties of Kosovo with their Serbian motherland is Russia’s chance to get even with the EU and America over Kosovo’s declaration of independence.

EU’s strategy Against Serbia: Divide and Conquer

Germany has been the driving force behind the dismemberment of Yugoslavia. In late 1991 and early 1992, Germany and the Vatican opposed the U.S., the UN and the European Economic Community and formally recognized the Yugoslavian breakaway states of Slovenia and Croatia. In 2003, Germany contributed more troops to nato’s Bosnian peacekeeping force than any other nation.

After Yugoslavia lost Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia and Bosnia, Germany was still unsatisfied. It was intricately involved in the 1999 nato bombings that gave Kosovo de facto independence. After Kosovo’s declaration of independence on February 17 this year, Germany was one of the first states to recognize Kosovo. Now most of Europe is following Germany’s lead.

“Why encourage separatism with the goal of creating a unified Europe?” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday.

Germany wants to get the former Yugoslav republics inside the EU. Berlin could, however, have brought Serbia into the Union without recognizing Kosovo’s independence. As a matter of fact, recognizing Kosovo’s independence has only made Serbia’s integration process harder, because many Serbs now fear the EU as a fascist entity trying to act against their interests. Recognizing Kosovo has only driven Serbia toward Russia.

But this is exactly what happened during World War ii. Yugoslavia was divided over whether or not to support the Nazi regime. When the government, under heavy pressure, signed a pact with Hitler’s Germany, the people staged a coup, overthrew the government and set up an anti-fascist state. Hitler then invaded and conquered Yugoslavia. But he did not stop there. Germany ripped the nation into pieces, formed northern Yugoslavia into the Nazi-puppet state of Croatia, annexed Kosovo to Albania and imposed a German military command over Serbia. In short, he conquered Yugoslavia and divided it into so many pieces that he ensured it would no longer pose a threat to his regime.

The similarities to what European leaders are doing today—though far more subtly—are eerie. The EU is avoiding annexing Yugoslavia as one big chunk, preferring instead to once again rip it apart bit by bit and then swallow the chunks one by one. This way, when all the former Yugoslav states are finally part of the EU, none of them will have the power to cause undue trouble for Brussels—or Berlin.

German fascism is again conquering the Balkans. To some extent, Russia knows it. That explains why the Russians are so intent on supporting Serbia. If they can annex Serbian zones of former Yugoslav republics back to Serbia, they can make a run at forestalling Europe’s rise to power.

Sectarian violence will increase in Serbia, Bosnia and Kosovo as Russia and Europe compete for influence. But at the end of the day, Europe is already too entrenched in the former Yugoslav republics to lose out. Russia’s effort may pay off in other ways, but the European Union will remain the conqueror of the Balkans.

For more information on Germany’s role in the conquest of the Balkans, please read The Rising Beast—Germany’s Conquest of the Balkans by Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry.