The Precious Jewel of Iran’s Plan

The Precious Jewel of Iran’s Plan


For over a decade, Gerald Flurry has warned us to watch for signs of Iran trying to seize Jerusalem. Today we can see them.
From the February 2005 Trumpet Print Edition

Muhammad’s first followers prayed toward Jerusalem. It was there, to the Temple Mount of the Holy City, that Muhammad was said to have been transported in a vision from his home in Mecca in his famous “night journey”; it was from there that he was met by the great biblical prophets and then ascended to heaven to speak with Allah before returning home.

Only later did Muhammad, who founded the religion of Islam, redirect his supporters to pray toward Mecca, located in Saudi Arabia. But in the minds of Muslims, the night journey and ascension forever marked Islam’s spiritual connection to the City of God.

To this day, many Muslims believe the city belongs to Islam.

In their view, Jerusalem’s current occupation by Jews is just as wrong as its previous occupations by Romans and by Catholics, from whom Muslims forcibly took control on multiple occasions. Jewish control over Jerusalem is essentially a symbol of the injustice of Western imperialism—and a bitter reminder of the powerlessness of today’s Muslim society.

The growing giant among the Islamic nations today is Iran. And for over a decade, the Trumpet’s editor in chief has warned readers to watch for signs of Iran’s meddling in Jerusalem.

In his booklet The King of the South, Gerald Flurry wrote, “During the Crusades, Jerusalem was always the main prize. This city is of supreme religious importance to Jews, Christians and Muslims. … These two great and powerful religions [Christianity and Islam] both passionately desire Jerusalem.”

A decade ago, Mr. Flurry berated the West for being “spellbound by peace treaties” and thus suffering willful blindness to “Iran’s massive plot to control the Middle East.” Then he wrote: “The most precious jewel of Iran’s plan is to conquer Jerusalem. This would then galvanize the Islamic world behind Iran!” (Trumpet, February 1995; emphasis mine throughout).

This is one of many of Mr. Flurry’s statements that is proving itself more true with the passage of time.

Intelligence continually emerges on how the mullahs in Tehran, in pursuit of this “precious jewel,” have plotted a takeover in Israel for many years. To lay the groundwork, they have drawn from their standard arsenal of espionage, arms smuggling and terrorism—feverishly, furtively working to subvert the Jewish government and position themselves to assume control.

Now, with Yasser Arafat dead and buried and Ariel Sharon caught in a political bramble bush, an opportunity is opening for Iran to strike. Watch for it! Iran is trying to take over Jerusalem!

The Spoiler

The Prophet Isaiah forecast a time at the end when “the ambassadors of peace shall weep bitterly.” That time is swiftly approaching—but Isaiah’s prophecy already seems to describe our day. Years of effort at creating peace in the Middle East have been a grim failure.

Why? One of the principal reasons has been Iran’s designs on Jerusalem. The Islamic Republic has placed guns in the hands of terrorists, paid Palestinians to blow themselves up among Israeli civilians, fomented hatred and campaigned for war. As far back as the August 1998 Trumpet, Mr. Flurry boldly stated, “Iran has virtually destroyed the peace process single-handedly. Still, the world continues to talk about peace. Iran and radical Islam don’t want peace, and words won’t deter them.” When has Iran ever been held accountable for this disaster?

Mr. Flurry then called attention to this stunning declaration by intelligence analyst Joseph de Courcy in the Islamic Affairs Analyst: “Subscribers should be in absolutely no doubt about this. From Iran’s support for subversion in Bahrain, through its improving ties with Egypt, its support for Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Islamist revolutionaries in Khartoum, to its close strategic alliance with Moscow, everything has the same ultimate purpose: the liberation of Jerusalem from under the Zionist yoke.”

This fact is critical to note. Yasser Arafat presided over a failed regime; his corrupt government essentially impoverished his people and delivered on none of his promises. Many see his death as opening the window to sunny new scenarios for democracy and peace in Israel. The reality is, the power best organized to fill the leadership gap is just as stained by terrorism as Arafat was—but with ties to Iran. And Tehran has the muscle, and the will, to take its campaign to “push Israel into the sea” to another level of horror.

Let’s look at a scripture that points directly at the likelihood of this event.

Zechariah 14:2 prophesies that half of Jerusalem will be taken into captivity. As our booklet Jerusalem in Prophecy explains, this must occur soon, because other prophecies dated to the beginning of the biblical “Great Tribulation” (Matthew 24:21) describe the city being completely overtaken, in that case by a European power (Luke 21:20). Zechariah is speaking of an impending, partial conquest of the Holy City by Islamic warriors—one that will precede the Tribulation.

Writing about this prophecy in our companion magazine Royal Vision, Mr. Flurry explained, “These verses prophesy that the Palestinians are going to take over half of Jerusalem very soon. I don’t believe that the Palestinians, by themselves, could do that—but they could if the king of the south [Iran, as labeled in the prophecy of Daniel 11:40] supported and helped them. We need to watch: Iran wants to take over that city. Such a conquest would galvanize the whole Islamic world to get behind the king of the south—a goal Iran has been working toward all along” (January-February 2005).

How specific! Is this something we can see unfolding in today’s newspapers? Absolutely.

The Party of God

The spiritual roots of Lebanon-based terrorist group Hezbollah lie in Iran. Like Iran (and unlike the majority of Muslims), it follows the Shia version of Islam. In its foundational document “Program,” written in February 1985, the group identifies itself as “sons of the umma (Muslim community), the party of God (Hizb Allah), the vanguard of which was made victorious by God in Iran.” It went so far as to name the Ayatollah Khomeini, who led the Iranian Revolution in 1979, as the group’s “commanding jurist,” whose orders it must obey.

Iran has nurtured and funded this terrorist group from its beginning, and this relationship has allowed Iran inroads not only into Lebanon, but also Israel. Hezbollah’s charter identifies the Jewish state as one of its chief enemies, saying, “Our primary assumption in our fight against Israel states that the Zionist entity has been aggressive from its inception, and built on lands wrested from their owners, at the expense of the rights of the Muslim people. Therefore our struggle will end only when this entity is obliterated.” One of Hezbollah’s greatest victories was its battling the Israeli presence in southern Lebanon, which, after 15 years, culminated in Israel retreating to its own border in May of 2000.

Hezbollah’s founding document also makes clear its fundamental opposition to anything resembling a peace process: “We recognize no treaty with [Israel], no cease-fire, and no peace agreements, whether separate or consolidated. We vigorously condemn all plans for negotiation with Israel, and regard all negotiators as enemies, for the reason that such negotiation is nothing but the recognition of the legitimacy of the Zionist occupation of Palestine.” Hezbollah operatives, funded by Iran, have been responsible for hundreds of attacks that have sabotaged peace efforts over the past 20 years.

What is alarming, then, is how well this blood-stained “party of God” has positioned itself to influence Palestinian politics in the post-Arafat period.

An Israeli intelligence report authored in October 2004 showed that Hezbollah has been actively trying to infiltrate the Jewish state from within ever since Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon. At that moment, as reported by on Dec. 9, 2004, “Hezbollah and Iran realized the ‘explosive potential’ available in the Israeli-Arab population. Full-fledged citizens with complete mobility throughout the country, the Arabs of Israel were seen as a perfect way of enhancing Hezbollah’s ability to strike out at Israel.” In addition to collecting intelligence from Israel’s Arab citizens, Iran and Hezbollah began using them to establish and expand terror cells, to smuggle weapons, and to provide logistical and operative aid to other terror groups, all within Israel’s borders. An Israeli Arab arrested in November for spying for Iran offered an unsettling peek at the truth of the report. Voice of Israel radio said Iranian intelligence had given him a number of assignments, including recruiting terrorists and distributing money to the families of suicide bombers.

In December, more proof turned up. “Israeli security officials said Iran has expanded its office in Beirut established to recruit Palestinians and Israelis for espionage and other operations against the Jewish state. The officials said that Iran has allocated new funds for a range of operations in Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip” (Middle East Newsline, Dec. 10, 2004).

In a chilling story in the Dec. 13, 2004, Weekly Standard, Aaron Mannes documented further infiltration into Israel by Hezbollah and, by extension, Iran. “Iran and Hezbollah have provided funds, weapons and training to Palestinian terrorists. Many of the intifada’s most successful tactics were learned from Hezbollah. But all this assistance came at a price. According to Israeli intelligence, Iran is now ‘in control of terrorism in Israel.’”

The evidence is copious. Hezbollah has established close relationships with the majority of small leftist Palestinian organizations. The umbrella group Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which includes several radical Palestinian Islamic factions, is under heavy Iranian influence and cooperates with Hezbollah. Alarmingly, Hamas, a terrorist group whose political support among Palestinians is rapidly growing (see sidebar, page 11), is actually coming under Hezbollah control. Mannes reports that “Hamas’s political leadership is now exclusively Syria-based, and Hezbollah operatives in Lebanon direct Hamas operations” (ibid.)—certainly a point to remember when following ongoing developments in Palestinian politics.

Hezbollah’s—and hence Iran’s—sway has also extended into the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Fatah, Arafat’s former dominions. “Officers in Arafat’s personal bodyguard, Force 17, directed the first Hezbollah cells in the West Bank and Gaza,” Mannes explained. “In exchange for providing arms such as those on the Karine A—the arms-smuggling freighter intercepted by Israel in January 2002—Iran was allowed to open hospitals and social institutions in the West Bank and Gaza. These institutions serve as a cover for an expanded Iranian presence. In late 2002, a captured Palestinian agent for Hezbollah confessed to Israeli security that Hezbollah had established a network of supporters in the West Bank and Gaza to infiltrate Fatah and the PA in order to take control when the PA collapses.” That Hezbollah agent said he reported both to Iran and to Fatah leader Farouq Qaddumi, who after Arafat’s death essentially became no more than a Palestinian front man for Hezbollah’s activities in Israel.

If Hezbollah—or, perhaps more plausibly, a Hezbollah-controlled Hamas—does end up playing a large role on the new Palestinian political scene, it will amount to an Iranian takeover. “[I]n politics the advantage goes to the organized, and Hezbollah and its patrons have been preparing for this moment for some time” (ibid.).

Given these facts, it’s not difficult to see how Iran could swell Palestinian politics with enough power to throw Israel into even greater chaos in the time ahead. We must keep our eyes fixed on the “city of peace” to watch for the violent fulfillment of Zechariah’s forecast: Thanks to Iranian infiltration, half the city is about to be conquered!

Good News

As grim as that vision is, one can recognize it as wonderful news when it is put in the whole context of Zechariah’s prophecy.

The first verse of Zechariah 14 sets up the time frame: “Behold, the day of the Lord cometh”! Verses 4 and 5 portray the stunning reality, just ahead of us, of Jesus Christ returning from heaven to smash the armies that will have gathered in the region to fight Him, and then touching down on the Mount of Olives, in the same great city where He was crucified and resurrected two millennia before.

The Islamic invasion of half of the city is presented right in the same context because, as Mr. Flurry describes in Jerusalem in Prophecy, it is the trigger that will start a chain of events leading inexorably toward the Second Coming!

Please note—and do not forget—these words from that Royal Vision article by Mr. Flurry: “When we look at these prophecies, we need to realize what they are all tied to. What you’re seeing in Jerusalem today is a prelude to Christ’s return. It will all lead to that climactic event, step by step!

“So watch Jerusalem!”

For anyone interested in the future of this city, Gerald Flurry’s free booklet Jerusalem in Prophecy is a must-read. Request your free copy today.

Where Was God?

Where Was God?


The lesson each of us must learn from the tsunami
From the February 2005 Trumpet Print Edition

The mind staggers. “Decomposing corpses are everywhere,” said a South African relief worker. “It is as if bodies were scattered from the sky.”

Over 18½ miles under the sea, the earth rocked, shoving an ocean onto a continent. Mammoth waves swallowed beaches, engulfed villages. More than 225,000 lives were snuffed out. Millions were left without food. The grotesqueness of the Asian tsunami tragedy left the world in shock.

That aid worker drearily watched the unidentified dead being bulldozed into mass graves in a hasty effort to ward off disease. “In almost 15 years of relief work, I have never experienced this extent of utter desperation and hopelessness,” he said (Star, South Africa, January 3).

Whenever a catastrophic natural disaster strikes, among our tumult of emotions and thoughts we tend to put God on trial. The idea, clung to by so many, of an all-loving, all-merciful Deity who smiles down on humanity, seems shattered by the violence of the calamity.

One woman who lost her child in the Indian fishing village of Valainkani wailed, “Oh God! Why have you taken my son away?” (Manila Times, Dec. 30, 2004). The horror of losing a child is unimaginable to most; now, more than ever, this woman needs hope.

Staring into the faceless brutality of the worst such disaster in anyone’s memory, even religious leaders have found themselves bereft of answers. It’s an unenviable task, really: explaining why God would allow such an incalculable level of suffering. Perhaps no one has ever really wanted to answer this question. Undoubtedly, many fear they cannot.

In the Wall Street Journal, from theologian David Hart we read: “When confronted by the sheer savage immensity of worldly suffering—when we see the entire littoral rim of the Indian Ocean strewn with tens of thousands of corpses, a third of them children’s—no Christian is licensed to utter odious banalities about God’s inscrutable counsels or blasphemous suggestions that all this mysteriously serves God’s good ends. We are permitted only to hate death and waste and the imbecile forces of chance that shatter living souls, to believe that creation is in agony in its bonds, to see this world as divided between two kingdoms—knowing all the while that it is only charity that can sustain us against ‘fate,’ and that must do so until the end of days” (Dec. 31, 2004).

Eloquent—but laced with the same desperation and hopelessness of that aid worker.

Paul Stenhouse, a Catholic priest, wrote, “Christianity does not teach that God causes natural disasters; nor does it teach that God causes them in order to punish the wickedness of the victims” (Australian, January 4). This man is sure that God didn’t cause the tsunami. But the question remains: Why would He allow it? Certainly an all-powerful God could have stopped it before it happened. Why didn’t He? Could He possibly be that callous to such an incalculable level of human suffering? The natural mind struggles for an explanation. Some blame God, accuse God—even give up on the idea that there is a God.

The regrettable reality is, most people do not accept the God who reveals Himself in the Holy Bible! They are worshiping a god of their own creation.

God’s Word does explain—in explicit detail—why such things happen. Their causes are spelled out from the first book of the Bible to the last.

The ministers who are saying that it couldn’t be God’s will to cause something so destructive as that tsunami do not know God!

Thereismeaning. There is a lesson, a profound lesson, wrapped within the loss of life and breadth of desolation—one that each of us must consider deeply. We need to be able to recognize the hand of our Creator. We must comprehend what God is doing. Yes, it is achingly difficult. But platitudes cannot assuage grief, and ignorance does not change truth.

The truth—contained within the deadly waves of the tsunami—is filled with living hope!

Origin of Human Suffering

The point must be made from the beginning that this is not God’s world.

If it’s the God of the Bible we are putting on trial, let us look at the biblical narrative to frame the terms of the debate.

It is true that God is love (1 John 4:8, 16). What is that love? It is God’s giving way of life, manifested, for example, in God giving His only begotten Son to the world (John 3:16). That love is defined by and expressed in God’s commandments: “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments …” (1 John 5:3).

At the beginning of human existence, God created Adam and Eve at the very pinnacle of the material world. They were cast in His very likeness: Unlike the animals, human beings look like their Maker. God intended that they care for and rule benevolently over the rest of creation (Genesis 1:26-31). He endowed them with intellectual and creative powers, enabling them to grow into God’s own image, or character. Earth was the training ground so that these two, and the family of man that would spring from them, could eventually fulfill their fullest potential as eternal children of God.

True character must be developed through right decisions, so God made Adam and Eve free moral agents. He then gave them a choice. On one hand, they could have followed God’s instructions and chosen the tree of life, which represents God’s Holy Spirit and the path to eternal life. Had they done so, they would have continued to live under His protection; they would have developed a relationship with God, learning to think like Him and live His way of give.

Instead, the first two people trusted in themselves, succumbed to the temptations of Satan the devil, and ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 3:16-19 show that because of this decision, God removed His protection and guidance, and pronounced upon them certain curses; then He banished them from the Garden and cut off their access to the tree of life (verses 22-24).

To comprehend the tsunami, we must grasp the implications of this fateful moment in human history.

It was not a quick-tempered outburst: God, to preserve the exalted potential of man, had to seal off the tree of life. To bring the first two humans into His eternal Family while they were making choices contrary to His commandments—opposing His love—would have produced eternal division and misery. So instead, God took the occasion to teach Adam and Eve, and all those who would follow them, an enormous lesson.

In his final book, Mystery of the Ages, Herbert W. Armstrong explained what God, in essence, told Adam when he made this decision:

“Go, therefore, Adam, and all your progeny that shall form the world, produce your own fund of knowledge. Decide for yourself what is good and what is evil. Produce your own educational systems and means of disseminating knowledge, as your god Satan shall mislead you. Form your own concepts of what is god, your own religions, your own governments, your own lifestyles and forms of society and civilization. In all this Satan will deceive your world with his attitude of self-centeredness—with vanity, lust and greed, jealousy and envy, competition and strife and violence and wars, rebellion against me and my law of love.

“After the world of your descendants has written the lesson in 6,000 years of human suffering, anguish, frustration, defeat and death—after the world that shall spring from you shall have been brought to confess the utter hopelessness of the way of life you have chosen—I will supernaturally intervene” (emphasis ours).

Yes—every aspect of our society has been affected because Adam and Eve defied their Creator! This fatal choice at the beginning of human history made necessary the writing of that lesson in human suffering—the 6,000-year period of which mankind is now nearing the end.

All of mankind remains at present under the malicious influence of the devil (Revelation 12:9; 2 Corinthians 4:4). Swayed by Satan, without God in our life, each of us is hostile toward God (Romans 8:7-8). We are carnal. We naturally hate God’s law.

In order to restore to us the exalted human potential that our first parents turned their backs on, God seeks to convert the heart of every carnal person in the world—to help us recognize the error in going the wrong way, and to instill in us a deep love for God’s way of life. “The Lord is … not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). That is a tremendous ambition, given the mountainous obstacle that each heart presents. He is not doing this on a mass scale today, but His overarching plan, once fulfilled, does include everyone willing to come to repentance.

A Call to Repentance

True repentance bridges the gap between an individual and God. Thus the very first step toward real and everlasting happiness is a genuine, deep, complete repentance. To recognize our own helplessness, unhappiness and inadequacy apart from God is the most fundamental lesson any of us could learn.

Whenever God begins working with someone, He begins by humbling that individual. As it says in Proverbs 15:33, “The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.” God wants to give each of us phenomenal honor—but the humility, rooted in a deep respect for the Creator, must come first.

The curses God imposed upon Adam and his seed were intended to teach this lesson. The suffering that saturates this present world, cut off from God, is intended to teach this lesson.

When God was working with the carnal nation of ancient Israel, here is how He did it: “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19; you may find it helpful to read verses 15-20).

This goes beyond just the natural consequences for obeying or disobeying God’s laws. God said He would bless for obedience and curse for disobedience. When the Israelites obeyed, He prospered them; when they rebelled, He would send a plague, or turn the weather against them, or remove His protection and allow them to go into captivity. Essentially God was teaching them a proper fear of Him.

God has as much control over natural phenomena today as He did then. In His omnipotence He could have stopped that tsunami; after all, Jesus Christ stilled a storm with just a few words (Mark 4:39). Whether the earthquake was caused by a random tectonic shift, or the devil himself, God could have prevented it—but didn’t. There is a reason.

Note this! When something like the recent tsunami disaster occurs, we shouldallgrow ingodly fear. God’s desire is that the whole world would learn to fear Him in the face of such catastrophe.

The God of Judgment

Neil Brown, dean of the Roman Catholic St. Mary’s Cathedral, criticized one minister for saying that the disaster was part of God’s warning that judgment was coming. Brown told his congregation, “It is not a Catholic belief, and it’s a rather horrible belief when you begin to think about it.”

Does this man know the God of the Bible? The God who blesses for obedience—and punishes for disobedience?

A Christian priest in Sri Lanka asked, “How do you explain to a people that God loves you, that God cares for you? It’s difficult.” Truly—to the woman who lost her son, or to people who saw thousands of corpses strewn on a beach, the cliché that “God loves you” would be difficult to swallow.

But can we recognize the love in God’s correction? And shouldn’t we ask the more piercing question: Is it possible that we don’t love God? Might that be the problem?

Something is flawed with the notion that no matter how much evil is perpetrated, no matter what we do, God is obligated to shower only blessings upon us. Ponder these profound words of the Prophet Malachi: “Ye have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?” (Malachi 2:17).

Do we know this God? Do we really have the proper fear of God? Are we willing to accept this plain truth from the Bible? Consider it.

One can only imagine how horrifying the sight must have been: stories-high water rushing toward you, death almost certain; entire villages being swept aside, smashing the hopes and ambitions of the residents who lived there; knowing that you and everyone you loved were probably about to die.

And only Noah and his family survived. By the hand of God, every inhabitant of the Earth was wiped out, sparing only eight people.

Yes, if the Bible is your authority, God has wiped the planet clean with water before in a cataclysm exponentially more destructive than the recent Asian disaster.

Repeatedly Scripture describes God’s judgment on the nations and on His own people. Read the account of the Flood in Genesis 6-8, and of the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19. Read God’s judgment against Egypt in Exodus 12:29-30, and against Israel in Amos 4:10. Read the prophecies of the plagues God will rain down upon this world in the time just ahead, spelled out in Revelation 16.

Should we be so shocked when we see such calamities today? To say that God would never cause such suffering—that it could not be His will—is to admit frankly that we don’t know God.

God on Death

To understand how correction through calamity can actually be an expression of love, one must have God’s perspective on human life. Human death means nothing to God except a temporary sleep (1 Corinthians 15:51-55) because He is able to resurrect humans from the grave!

One of the greatest, most hope-filled truths in Scripture is that of the resurrection of the dead. Hebrews 6:1-2 list the resurrection as being one of the foundational doctrines of your Bible. Scripture actually refers to three separate resurrections, each serving a unique purpose (this truth is explained in our free reprint article “The Three Resurrections”). In God’s immense wisdom and mercy, every individual who ever lived will be given one genuine chance to choose eternal life or eternal death. The vast majority in this Satan-gripped world have not yet been given that choice, and are not yet judged (Hebrews 9:27).

Those who died in the tsunami will be raised again! God has promised it! That is a message of hope. Those who grieve for their loved ones need to understand this. Those now dead will be resurrected in a future utopian world, ruled by God—one far kinder than the world fraught with nightmares that we now inhabit. At that time they will receive, for the first time, the opportunity to understand God’s precious truth and apply it in their lives.

God’s perspective is very different from ours. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:9). It is not cruelty that leads Him to correct—even to allow some to die. It is rather His lightning-bolt message to those still living—the Creator’s call to repentance.

“Ye Shall Likewise Perish”

In Luke 13, Jesus Christ speaks to this subject. Some of those following Him told Him of some wicked Galileans who were killed by Pilate in an especially gruesome manner. Jesus answered the question as to whether they deserved their fate: “Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:2-3).

Christ followed up with an example that expanded the discussion. Eighteen people had been crushed by the collapse of a tower—an accidental and tragic death. They too bore no particular guilt above anyone else around them who was spared. But again Jesus followed up with the barbed statement: “[T]hink ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (verses 4-5).

No one can impute wickedness on the people who died in the tsunami. Their deaths offer no proof of their being any more sinful than those who survived—or anyone else in the world. Romans 3:23 explains that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

Christ was saying that the disasters that befall others should serve as a warning to us—that we will be subject to the same fate unless we repent of our sins! God provides protection only for those who turn to Him in repentance and obedience (see the Commentary on page 37).

Referring to Christ’s warning to the Jews, the Trumpet’s editor in chief, Gerald Flurry, wrote: “God told them they must repent or the whole jewish nation would die in the same violent way! That is precisely what happened to the Jewish nation in a.d. 70! Only God’s loyal remnant escaped to Pella. They are the only ones who heeded Christ’s warning!” (June 1995).

But, Mr. Flurry explained, “We must not forget that what happened to the Jewish nation is only a type of what is to happen to Israel—mainly the American and British peoples in this end time.” This critical truth is explained in vivid detail within our free book The United States and Britain in Prophecy.

Mr. Flurry continued, “Jewish historian Josephus recorded that there were many catastrophes which were rapidly intensifying before the Jewish nation was destroyed in a.d. 70. Disasters were very common. Today, we see the same scenario in end-time Israel. Horrifying events are becoming common for us today. It is all leading to the total destruction of our nations unless we repent! These disasters are the strongest kind of warning from God. …

Why all these disasters? They are a warning from God to repent! The disasters will keep coming until we repent. That is our only hope.”

Yes—the disasters will keep coming. We can count on that.

The Beginning of Sorrows

Notice what Christ prophesied in the Olivet prophecy for our day now: “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:7-8). The disasters occurring now are only the beginning of sorrows! God is going to bring them upon the whole world.

Ezekiel 5 contains a prophecy revealing that one third of the people of biblical Israel (the United States and the British peoples today) are going to die with “fire” and “pestilence” (verses 2, 12). Pestilence in the original Hebrew means destruction or death. For the U.S., that means 100 million people will die!

Then, Ezekiel prophesies, will come foreign attack—in which another third of the population will “fall by the sword” (verse 12). That means another 100 million in the U.S.

Only one tenth will survive the national captivity that follows. This is destruction on an unprecedented scale. “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matthew 24:21-22).

Why would God allow that suffering? What is God’s ultimate purpose in all this? Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?” (Ezekiel 33:11). God wants us to repent so we can live!

Thus, God is determined to allow suffering to increase until mankind accepts that there is no hope in man! Regrettably, mankind will sink to unprecedented depths before people will admit that they are wrong!

The truth is, if God were to pull up now and cut His losses—to accept only those few on Earth who had genuinely repented and whole-heartedly accepted His rule in their lives, He would have a family of perhaps only thousands.

But by allowing the full 6,000 years of human existence in Satan’s world to play themselves out—to in fact cause events to climax in unprecedented catastrophe—God is creating conditions whereby many hundreds of millions—even multiple billions of human beings made in the likeness of their heavenly Fatherwill recognize the futility of the ways that seemed right to them but led only to death, and embrace the God-ordained way of love, of joy and peace—the way that leads to life.

God is a God of love. To comprehend the love of God, we must realize that what we have now is not real life—it is merely a short-lived chemical existence. God wants to give us real lifeeternal life! That is why He will allow so much destruction and suffering to come upon this world: so as many as possible will repent, and He can then reward them with eternal life.

“And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21:34-36).

Even in the face of these catastrophes—even as we see these types of natural disasters increase, and see human suffering increase—we can be filled with a vibrant hope. Why?

Because knowing that we are in the last days tells us that Jesus Christ is about to return! When He does, this 6,000-year-long lesson in human suffering will be over, and everyone on Earth will have seen the futility of following after the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. People will be ready to do what’s right, to live the way of peace, joy and happiness that God offered Adam and Eve 6,000 years ago.

Satan the devil will be banished, and Jesus Christ will rule over the greatest time of prosperity that has ever been.

Finally, with God’s benevolent government in place, the hope of the resurrection will become reality, and everyone who has ever lived—including our loved ones, the victims of the tsunami—will be raised into a world where the right choice has been made, where, as the Prophet Isaiah said, the knowledge of the Eternal covers the Earth as the waters cover the sea.

To learn more, request our free booklet Repentance Toward God.

“Nazi” Jews?

From the January 2005 Trumpet Print Edition

“Six decades after the mass extermination of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust by Nazi Germany, more than 50 percent of Germans believe that Israel’s present-day treatment of the Palestinians is similar to what the Nazis did to the Jews during World War ii, a German survey released this weekend shows” (Jerusalem Post, Dec. 7, 2004).

You Shall Not Covet

You Shall Not Covet


Are you content with the material possessions that you have? Or do you anxiously want more? Here’s how to curb your desires for more material things.
From the February 2005 Trumpet Print Edition

“Live richly.” That is the key message in a tv commercial for one of the major credit card companies. The meaning is obvious. If you do not have the cash, use the card!

The truth is, many Americans have been wholeheartedly following such advice. In 2004, consumer debt topped $2 trillion for the first time according to the U.S. Federal Reserve—up from $1 trillion in 1994. The average American household carries about $8,000 in credit card debt—up from $3,000 in 1990. Are Americans living richly? Actually, debt is dragging more and more families into bankruptcy. The Administrative Office of the U. S. Courts tells us that 1.6 million people declared personal bankruptcy in the 2004 fiscal year, up from 1.2 million in 1999. It is surprising to note that the age group with the highest number of declared bankruptcies is 18 to 25. The level of credit card debt in the United States is shocking. Unfortunately, as credit card interest rates rise—and they will rise—the debt load will crush many people.

What is the cause? Why does one of the wealthiest nations ever to exist in the history of man have such a problem with debt?

Covetousness is not a word we often think about. Yet coveting is at the core of the problem.

Contrary to what most would like to think, credit card debt is not the result of a low income. It is simply a matter of overspending to obtain material things or to satisfy personal pleasures. We are a nation deceived with the philosophy of buy now, pay later. What many people fail to recognize is that there is a high cost associated with paying later—in the form of interest. Of course, Americans are not alone in their debt woes. You will find the same misuses of credit in all Western nations.

Devoted to Possessions

We must take an honest look at what is happening in the world around us. We live in a drastically different world than our parents and grandparents did. The dramatic change came just after World War ii. The development of Western civilization and culture sped up. But instead of getting better, our society degenerated.

Major, stable institutions such as marriage and two-parent families are crumbling before our eyes. We seem not to care. Under the shadow of the bomb, people are in a hurry to make more money, get more things and have a grand time. As a generation, we have come to yearn for extravagances that our grandparents would never even consider—because of their known harm to strong moral values. We desire opulent homes, trendy cars, a lush lifestyle and expensive vacations.

We live in a culture that has succumbed to raging materialism. This inclination is rampant on a national and international scale, particularly in Western nations. Our so-called in or cool way of life focuses on the self-centered idea of getting it allwhile the getting is good! Marketing experts bombard people with high-pressure ads to strive, compete and lust after as many possessions as your neighbor owns. Nearly everyone desires to be rich and famous. Most want to live a lavish lifestyle. There is a continual pressure applied to get ahead, which means making more money and having more things. This pressure is not only the underlying cause of most financial problems, it is the source of many marital, emotional and mental problems.

This poor example set by Western nations—the emphasis on getting and on self—is going to backfire. Third World countries want to compete and have as much our have nations. We must come to see that world war will be the natural result. The Apostle James warned, “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not” (James 4:1-2). There are grave dangers ahead if something does not change quickly. You can learn how to protect yourself from the certain suffering to come.

Our materialistic society is the ruin of our spiritual health. We must recognize that an insatiable desire for more and more material things is idolatry. No human being will find true and lasting happiness through things. When people put all of their effort into obtaining more possessions, little effort is devoted to seeking God and the ways of God. It is only through a sustained, active relationship with the living God that all men will find lasting happiness and real peace of mind.

Tenth Commandment Stated

When we disobey God’s laws, we suffer. In our study of the preceding nine commandments, we have learned that only through obedience to God and His spiritual law can we find the solutions to our problems. The Ten Commandments reveal the way to peace, happiness and real prosperity, but man stubbornly insists on doing things his own way—which is the wrong way. God intends to give to all men everything that is good for us, but humans lack the faith and patience to wait upon God. Therefore, we live broken lives—even financially.

There is a way to change our covetous, materialistic culture. Do you know how?

God’s voice thundered out to the Israelites, “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s” (Exodus 20:17). Similar to commandments five through nine, God desires to protect all men in their personal and social life. This commandment speaks specifically to man’s relationship to other men. Let’s not forget that the Ten Commandments are living, spiritual laws. When we break them, they break us. Our generation especially needs to understand and learn how to apply this commandment.

Notice carefully how this commandment safeguards the welfare of others. It speaks to the things held most dear to every human being. No human being should covet another’s house, wife, possessions or anything that is our neighbor’s. Remember that it is not wrong to lawfully desire a house, a wife or possessions. But to yearn, or develop an inordinate desire, to possess something that belongs to our neighbor is sin! In a similar vein, it is also sin to yearn for or develop an inordinate desire to have goods just like our neighbor. “Keeping up with the Joneses” is an outward sign of covetousness.

God—the Great Giver

Obedience to this commandment reveals the depth of a person’s spiritual life. James teaches us this eternal truth about God. He wrote, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). It is truly God’s desire to give us everything that is good for us. In fact, the gospel of the Kingdom of God shows that God wants to give mankind the entire universe—not just planet Earth! In other words, it is God’s desire to provide a home, a husband or wife, and possessions for us. This commandment is the acid test that reveals whether we are fully submitted to God’s will to provide for our material needs when He so plans.

The Bible is full of examples of what happens to those people who are not willing to wait for God to give. The fruits of covetousness are always tragic. King David’s illicit relationship with Bathsheba is a prime example of the destruction caused by disobedience to this vital Tenth Commandment. On the positive side, the Bible also gives numerous examples of those people who patiently and faithfully waited for God to fulfill His promises. Study Hebrews chapter 11.

Jesus Christ knew God the Father intimately. He believed and had real faith that His Father’s word is always reliable. God promises to provide our every need. Jesus Christ taught this absolute truth in what has become known as the Sermon on the Mount: “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things” (Matthew 6:31-32). We are physical beings. We need food, shelter and clothing to live a high-quality life. God promises to provide these necessities. God wants us to have an abundant life (John 10:10). We should not put undue effort into obtaining an overabundance of such things. It truly is a waste of time.

Those who do not know God or have a shallow relationship with God seek a multitude of possessions. Why? Mostly people do this to mask their deep need for God. Jesus Christ warned: “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15). Although it can be a comfort to have property and wealth, lasting happiness comes from a completely different source. What we accomplish spiritually is all that really matters. At the return of Christ, a big house, a flashy car, money, clothes or whatever we possess will not be used to measure a human being’s fitness to enter the Kingdom of God.

All men, women and children must learn how to set proper priorities during this extremely short mortal life. There is another, better way of living.

Build God’s Character

Instead of putting all of our efforts into acquiring material goods, we should put a priority on seeking the spiritual wealth that can never be lost. Jesus Christ taught, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself” (Matthew 6:33-34). We should be seeking a deeply rewarding spiritual life with God—first. That should be our primary focus in life. We must put attaining God’s Kingdom and developing His righteousness—His very character—first on our priority list.

Of course, we should work at having a good job and career. We should do all we can to provide an affordable, comfortable home and an automobile for our family. It is a wonderful thing to be married and have a family. But we get into real spiritual trouble when we allow these things to become so important that God becomes secondary or even non-existent in our lives.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ gave us promises that we can count on. When we put God, His Kingdom and character first in our lives, He’ll take care of providing all our material necessities.

Since we are physical beings, it takes God’s righteous character to control our desires. This commandment speaks to the physical things of life. Yet, it clearly demands that we obey the spirit of the law to fulfill its requirement. Remember that all sin begins in the mind. Certainly, we should be able to see that the sin of coveting is the clearest example of this fact.

We need God’s Holy Spirit in order to control our minds. Paul taught the Corinthians, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 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” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). This scripture represents the heart of true Christianity. Those who follow Christ must be fully obedient to Christ in both action and thought.

Understand Human Nature

Remember, the Bible shows that we are what we think (Matthew 15:19). Action always follows thought. When we secretly entertain thoughts that are opposed to God’s principles and way of life by lusting after something that we cannot come to lawfully possess with His blessing, an outward sin will be the result. Mental rebellion, unless quickly repented of, always results in an act of sin! We must allow God to have full authority over all our thoughts. This is thinking as God thinks.

One fact we must accept about ourselves is that it is more natural for us to covet than to wait upon God to provide our needs. That is how our human nature works. James wrote this to God’s people: “Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?” (James 4:5). The normal human mind is full of vanity, selfishness, competition, greed, hate and lust. Human beings don’t naturally think like God. His thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). For this reason, all men must repent and become converted. Jesus Christ and all the original apostles showed that our receiving eternal life depends upon repentance and real conversion (Mark 1:15; Acts 3:19).

We must have our minds completely changed—to go the way of God’s perfect law. Paul wrote the Philippians, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5). Thinking and living as Jesus Christ lived is the only way to true happiness and success in this life. Living as Christ lived is the only way that will lead to eternal life.

We cannot afford to kid ourselves about God and true religion. There are no shortcuts where eternity is involved. Jesus Christ set us the perfect example. He loved God and the ways of God above all else. He said, “I do always those things that please him” (John 8:29). Jesus Christ lived His life to please the Father. We must come to love our Creator God, His ways and His laws with all of our being, or we will automatically turn away from God, His authority and His rule over our lives. If we willfully follow a carnal way of thinking, we will become bitter and resentful of the loving God and will lose out on eternity. We will suffer the ultimate fate—eternal death (Romans 8:6-7). What an unnecessary tragedy.

The Tenth Points to the First

If we take a frank look at our world, it is not difficult to see a society founded on covetousness. When we open our eyes, we can see hundreds of examples of this society-wrecking sin. We must take a candid look into our personal lives as well. It is time to see our own covetousness. Then we must ask God sincerely to help us repent of it and give us the spiritual strength to overcome it! It will take hard work and continual prayer and deep Bible study. Our lives—mentally, emotionally and spiritually—will make an amazing turnaround when we do.

There is an incredible perfectness and unity to God’s magnificent Ten Commandments. This Tenth Commandment points us right back to the very first: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). Paul taught the Colossians, “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). Take very careful note: Paul states that covetousness is idolatry. When we idolize something, we put it in place of the true God. We break the First Commandment. Do we get it? Breaking the tenth means we also break the first.

There is even more depth to consider.

If we are breaking the tenth, we are probably also guilty of breaking more than the tenth. In fact, we are most likely guilty of breaking all ten. Besides having an idol in place of the true God, coveting can lead to idolatrous worship, disrespecting God’s name, breaking God’s Sabbath and holy days, disobedience of parents and other authority, murder, adultery and fornication, and lying. We must learn this life-and-death lesson. We must set our life’s goal to obey all of God’s commandments.

Let’s not forget that to covet is to bring pain and suffering into our lives. Paul taught the Romans, “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Romans 6:16). When we covet material things, we literally serve them. We spend our precious time, energy and hard-earned money for our things. Generally, in such a situation, we do not spend enough time in thorough study of the Bible or earnest, heart-rending prayer. In addition, we often find ourselves becoming tightfisted with people who need our help and even with God and His work.

If not caught in time, covetousness will slow-boil us like a frog in a pot. Covetousness will reduce us to a miserable existence. This sin will cut us off from God and from those who truly love us.

Paul gave similar instruction to Timothy, a young evangelist. He warned, “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition” (1 Timothy 6:9). It takes a spiritually mature person to understand this. What is the better way? The aged apostle also taught, “But godliness with contentment is great gain” (verse 6). Real peace of mind and happiness come from pursuing godliness and contentment with what we have. Now that is real wealth!

As we close this series on the Ten Commandments, let’s remember that God’s way of life is the way of giving, sharing, helping and cooperating—toward God and man. Jesus Christ said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). When we give our whole life to God—truly serve Him—and to others as God directs—then we will find real happiness, and ultimately eternal life.

All men and women need to ask God for His help and Holy Spirit in order to obey the commandments. The commandments are the only way to achieve happiness in this life. They are the means God is using to build righteous character in human beings. Obeying the Ten Commandments opens the door to a future—an eternal life of giving and serving in the Kingdom of God.

Election Rigging, Iran Style

From the January 2005 Trumpet Print Edition

Getting rid of Saddam Hussein was the hard part. The United States kindly took care of that. Getting a Shiite-dominated government to replace Saddam should be the easy part. After all, democratic elections in a country where almost two thirds of the population is Shiite should guarantee a Shiite-controlled government.

Still, Iran isn’t satisfied to just sit back and assume it’s a done deal. It is not taking any chances. Too much is at stake.

This much was recently acknowledged by Iraq’s current non-Shiite leadership and by Jordan. On Dec. 7, 2004, the leaders of Iraq and Jordan warned that “Iran is trying to influence the Iraqi elections scheduled for January 30 to create an Islamic government that would dramatically shift the geopolitical balance between Shiite and Sunni Muslims in the Middle East” (Washington Post, Dec. 8, 2004; emphasis mine). Iran is going about this task in several ways—and in perfect conformity with its tactics over recent years.

The stunning thing is its brazenness. Iran is obviously feeling pretty confident of its position in the region—and even of its bargaining power with the rest of the world. There has been no shortage of publicity about Tehran’s blatant manipulation of world powers with regard to its nuclear weapons program. Closer to home, Iran’s neighbors are getting edgy over the alarming self-assurance Tehran is displaying. Stratfor related how “Egypt—and much of the Sunni Arab Middle East—is uncomfortable with the rather rapid emergence of Iran as a regional power” (Dec. 9, 2004). Iran’s emergence from the geopolitical background (which has been prophesied for years by this magazine, we might add) “is a change in the status quo that Cairo is not prepared for. At least not yet” (ibid.).

The whole world, it seems, recognizes that Iran is shaping a new Middle East to its liking.

Its current project is the creation of an Iran-friendly Iraqi government—by orchestrating an electoral win for the Shiites in Iraq’s first nationwide elections for decades.

On the political scene, according to Iraqi interim President Ghazi al-Yawar, Iran is directly channeling “huge amounts of money” into the Shiite political campaign and coaching candidates and political parties sympathetic to Iran. Also interesting is the fact that, according to Iraqi tv, provision has been made for Iraqis abroad to vote—many of whom are in Iran.

In an effort to cultivate pro-Iranian sentiment among Iraqis, Iran is reportedly paying salaries and granting welfare payments to unemployed Iraqis.

At the grassroots level, the Iranian-supported Shiite clergy is galvanizing the Shiite population to come out in force and vote this month (Washington Post, Dec. 7, 2004). This “unprecedented mobilization of the Shiite majority population” is being achieved through “a vast array of mosques, community centers, foundations and networks of hundreds of prayer leaders, students and allied laypeople” (ibid.). The message being distributed via leaflets, posters and banners is that voting in Iraq’s elections is “a religious and national duty.” The subject of sermons for weeks has been: “Voting is obligatory” (ibid.).

On top of all this, Iran is actually supplying Shiite voters to supplement the already-majority Iraqi Shiites. According to Jordanian King Abdullah, the Iranian government is encouraging Iranians to cross the border into Iraq en masse; reportedly, Iraq has already assimilated over a million of them! (ibid., Dec. 8, 2004).

In the face of all this evidence, Jordan’s king has stated the obvious: Iran is using these tactics “to achieve a government that is very pro-Iran” (ibid.).

Of course, the Iranians are vehemently denying these charges, but with their track record of such denials in matters of foreign policy, their honesty can hardly be relied upon. Yawar accurately states that “time is proving, and the situation is proving, beyond any doubt, that Iran has very obvious interference in our business—a lot of money, a lot of intelligence activities and almost interfering daily … especially in the southeast side of Iraq” (Agence France Presse, Dec. 8, 2004).

Just how important to Tehran is an “Iran-friendly” Iraqi government? What is at stake?

King Abdullah warns that a pro-Iranian government could completely overturn the balance of power between the two primary Islamic sects in the region by creating a “crescent” of Shiite governments stretching from Iran through Iraq and Syria into Lebanon. No small development—and certainly within the realm of probability in the very near term!

Iraq’s non-Shiite component knows what Iran is up to. Jordan knows it. Egypt knows it. It is no secret! Didn’t the U.S. go into the Middle East partly to put pressure on the world’s prime sponsor of terror? Is that working?

As Stratfor says, “[T]he winds of change in the Middle East are blowing in favor of Iran’s rise to power” (op. cit.). Watch Iran. It will not stop with Iraq. It will not stop with the establishment of an “Islamic crescent.” In fact, it will not stop until it has triggered a succession of events that will result in World War iii.

With reporting by Donna Grieves

World Weaning Off Falling Dollar

From the January 2005 Trumpet Print Edition

In the last year and a half, world banks amassed $1 trillion in foreign-exchange reserves, two thirds of which are in U.S. dollars. It took about a decade before that to build the previous $1 trillion of reserves. This shows to what extent net-exporting countries have come to rely on America’s debt-fed consumption and to what extent Americans are over-consuming relative to what they are producing.

Americans have to borrow about 75 percent of the entire world’s surplus savings to keep spending at the current level!

This imbalance in the global economy cannot be sustained. The dollar’s decline is a symptom of the market forces at work to correct the imbalance.

As a result, countries are losing confidence in the dollar. For years, this magazine has warned of foreign-capital flight. Now it’s happening! Most of the foreign reserves in the central banks of China and Japan have long been held in U.S. Treasury bills, notes and bonds—but China’s support for the dollar has slacked off significantly. In the first three quarters of 2004, China’s foreign-currency reserves grew by over $111 billion, but only about 14 percent of it ($16 billion) was in U.S. dollar holdings!

Meanwhile in Japan, a senior member of the ruling party warned the White House that it risks “enormous capital flight” if the dollar’s weakness is not remedied. At the same time, a senior official in Japan’s Ministry of Finance stated that higher U.S. interest rates (to compensate for the dollar’s decline) will be required to keep the money flowing in from Japan.

Also, the Bank of International Settlements has recently revealed that opec nations have shrunk their dollar deposits from 75 percent to less than 62 percent. The central banks of Russia and Indonesia have recently announced that they too are considering reducing their dollar reserves.

Continued massive U.S. deficits that exacerbate the imbalance in the global economy could ultimately cause the dollar to collapse and bond yields (interest rates) to rise rapidly—leading to a commensurate rise in mortgage rates and a housing bubble bust, followed by a dearth of consumer spending and a deep global recession.