Jesus Christ Returns!

Jesus Christ Returns!

PT/iStockphoto

How will you react when you read the world’s most shocking headline?
From the July 2009 Trumpet Print Edition

While working as an advertising manager at a daily newspaper during the 1920s, Herbert W. Armstrong had a brief discussion with four or five reporters and editors about what would be the most astonishing and dramatic newspaper headline.

“Another World War Breaks Out,” one of them suggested.

Not to be outdone, one of the others proposed a headline he believed would be even more sensational: “New York City Suddenly Blown Off the Map!”

“That’s tame,” a third newsman exclaimed. “Second Coming of Christ Happened This Morning!” All of them, except Mr. Armstrong, cackled with laughter.

“You men,” Mr. Armstrong said solemnly, “may live long enough to write that headline.”

As it turns out, they didn’t. Neither did Mr. Armstrong. But for an increasing number of people today, especially here in America, the subject of Jesus Christ’s return is no longer a joking matter.

“Will He Return?” Newsmax asked about Jesus Christ on the cover of its April edition. According to the feature, “public buzz about the biblical last days is at its highest level since 9/11.” In a 2006 survey, the Pew Research Center found that 79 percent of American Christians believe in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, although only 20 percent believe His return will occur during their lifetime. Still, there was a time when “doomsday” preachers were universally seen as wild-eyed fanatics. Today, those same Jeremiahs are attracting large throngs of faithful supporters.

On the other hand, as Jon Meacham argued in an article also published in the lead-up to Easter, while America remains “a nation decisively shaped by religious faith, our politics and our culture are, in the main, less influenced by movements and arguments of an explicitly Christian character than they were even five years ago” (Newsweek, April 4; emphasis mine throughout). According to Meacham, since 1990, the number of self-identified Christians has dropped by 10 percent. Conversely, the number of Americans who claim no religious affiliation, he says, has jumped from 8 to 15 percent over the same period.

Thus, even as apocalyptic teachings about the last days increase in popularity, our way of life drifts further and further from God.

Signs of the End

The Apostle Paul described the end time in 2 Timothy 3. “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come” (verse 1). Jesus said it would get so dangerous at the end of this age that unless God intervened, no flesh would survive (Matthew 24:22).

Skeptics who deceive themselves with the belief that we are in no special danger today—that the world has always been like this—had better start watching world events.

At present, eight nations in the world possess nuclear weapons. The most recent member admitted into the nuclear club was North Korea.

London’s Times Online reported April 24, “The world’s intelligence agencies and defense experts are quietly acknowledging that North Korea has become a fully fledged nuclear power with the capacity to wipe out entire cities in Japan and South Korea.”

Think on that. A mad dictator now has his finger on the trigger of a nuclear bomb and all that our intelligence experts can do is quietly acknowledge that he has nuclear weapons?

In Pakistan, Taliban terrorists are rapidly seizing control of territory, and the shaky government appears virtually helpless to stop them. Thus, extremists are frighteningly close to grabbing hold of that nation’s nuclear arsenal (article, page 7).

Then there is Iran—the terror-sponsoring Islamic state that is probably within months of acquiring nuclear weapons.

Yes, human nature has always been selfish and vain. But it’s only been in the last half century that mankind has developed weapons powerful enough to, as Jesus prophesied, obliterate all flesh from off the Earth.

This alone proves we are living in the last days.

But besides the proliferation of nuclear bombs, there is another sign that we are the last generation before Jesus Christ returns: our increasingly rebellious, anti-God, anti-family, upside-down culture. Paul correctly foresaw man’s perverse nature in these latter days, describing it as being unthankful, proud, covetous, disobedient to parents, without discipline, and a lover of self and of pleasures more than of God (2 Timothy 3:2-4).

“Few, indeed, realize the shocking facts of this accelerating downward plunge,” Mr. Armstrong wrote back in 1964. “It is rapidly becoming a greater threat to humanity than the hydrogen bomb!”

In his booklet What Is Faith? Mr. Armstrong wrote, “This present world breakdown, with world economic collapse, social unrest, religious confusion, is merely the warning signal that the end of the present civilization is here. The Second Coming of Christ to establish a new order of world peace on Earth is near—much nearer than people think!”

Yes, indeed—that is a front-page story most of us will live long enough to read for ourselves!

And as shocking as that headline might be for people who scoff at the promise of His coming (2 Peter 3:3-4), many of those who consider themselves Christian will be startled by another headline, closely related to Christ’s Second Coming.

Will Christ Find Faith?

Notice! When asked by His disciples about the sequence of events leading up to His return, Christ answered by saying, “Take heed that no man deceive you [disciples]. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ [they believe in Christ, in other words]; and shall deceive many” (Matthew 24:4-5).

Elsewhere in Scripture, religious deception is identified as the first horseman of the apocalypse. Did you know that Jesus Christ prophesied that most Christians in this end time would be deceived about His gospel message and His inspired teachings—deceived about what true Christianity really is? Jesus said false Christianity would be so widespread that even many of His own disciples would be deceived.

Notice how Paul described the latter-day modernist religious movement in 2 Timothy 3:5: “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” That is God’s assessment of mainstream Christianity. There’s an outward appearance of godliness, but very little substance. It’s a popular brand of Christianity that, while it might accept the existence of God—even the appearance of God’s Son on Earth—it fully rejects His power and authority.

Look at the age in which we live. God and His laws no longer have any direct authority in people’s lives. Overcoming evil is viewed as impossible by church leaders today—so the clergy rationalizes sinful living by falsely teaching that Jesus came to excuse us from obeying God’s laws. Added to that, God the Father and Jesus Christ are represented as weak and incapable of intervening in the affairs of mankind. The miraculous events of Scripture are often spiritualized away as fables or old wives’ tales.

And while many traditional Christians might hold to a belief in Jesus Christ’s return, few accept the biblically prophesied, 1,000-year, rod-of-iron rule that Jesus Christ will administer over all the Earth.

From the First Pages to the Last

One of the first promises in the Bible, in Genesis 3:15, is of a Savior who would come to qualify to replace Satan on the throne of this Earth. It says God would allow Satan to “bruise” Christ’s “heel” in causing Him to be crucified. But Christ would bruise Satan’s head by rising from the dead to depose him as ruler of the world.

Throughout the Old Testament, numerous prophets and teachers of God foretold of a future Messiah and King who would rule the Earth. Moses wrote about His coming in the law. David described it in the Psalms. Isaiah referred to it in several places throughout his book. So did Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Daniel said the Messiah’s dominion would break in pieces and consume all other kingdoms.

Nearly all the minor prophets refer to this coming King. Micah said the Lord would reign over Israel in mount Zion forever. Zephaniah said, “The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.” Haggai said that at His coming, He would “shake all nations.” Zechariah 14 describes that Second Coming in great detail. Malachi said that the Eternal would come and that He would be like a refining fire.

In the Gospels, it says Jesus would be given the throne of David and that His Kingdom would never end (Luke 1:32-33). This obviously refers to Christ’s Second Coming, as numerous other passages in the Gospels explain. In the model prayer Jesus outlined for His disciples, for example, one of the first subjects He admonishes us to pray for is, “Thy kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10). In John 14:3, Jesus said, “[I]f I go … I will come again ….” In Mark 13:24-26, Jesus described the latter days in time order—first tribulation, then heavenly signs, “then shall they see the Son of man coming ….”

The book of Acts says Jesus would return the same way He left 2,000 years ago (Acts 1:11). The Apostle Paul wrote extensively about Christ’s return and His worldwide rule, particularly in the book of 1 Thessalonians and in 1 Corinthians 15. James said, “Be patient … unto the coming of the Lord” (James 5:7). John said that when He appears, we, the firstfruits, shall be like Him (1 John 3:2). And Peter, as noted earlier, spoke of “scoffers” coming in the latter days who are willingly ignorant of the promise of Christ’s coming.

Then there is the book of Revelation, where John describes God’s coming Kingdom in incredible detail. When Christ comes down from clouds, John wrote, “every eye shall see him” (Revelation 1:7). When the seventh angel sounds, he wrote in Revelation 11:15, the kingdoms of this world will “become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.” Again, in Revelation 19:6, “And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.”

Over and again, your Bible promises the soon-coming reign of Jesus Christ over all the Earth. Why, then, aren’t more people familiar with the reality of God’s coming Kingdom?

By our actions, mankind has denied the good news gospel message of the soon-coming Kingdom of God—described throughout Scripture as the Family of God administering God’s law of love by His authoritative family government.

Religion without substance is why Jesus asked in Luke 18:8, “[W]hen the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” Talk about a stunning headline! In looking ahead to our present-day generation, Jesus Christ foresaw the near-total absence of real, believing faith.

That means this world has almost completely lost sight of what it means to actually live by faith.

What Must We Do?

A Trumpet reader recently e-mailed me about a common theme he has picked up on in many of our articles. “You often write about the Second Coming of Christ and the calamitous events to unfold in the lead-up to His return. But what must we do?

It’s a beautiful question—not unlike the one the disciples asked in Acts 2:37 after Peter’s sermon on the feast of Pentecost. There is absolutely something you must do!

Repentance is the first step (see verse 38). To assist you in that transformation, begin by studying Mr. Armstrong’s booklet What Is Faith? Then dig into God’s Word and learn about the true God as He is revealed in the Bible. Sign up for our free Bible correspondence course. Study as if your survival depended on it. Immediately begin living in accordance with God’s perfect and holy laws. Work toward baptism.

Then, when the Son of man returns to this Earth, you won’t be caught off guard—and you will have living faith!

You are welcome to request a free copy of Herbert W. Armstrong’s booklet What Is Faith?

For more articles like this, visit pcog.org.

The Weekend Web

The Weekend Web

Dreamstime

The indoctrination of Californian children and what Iran is learning from North Korea. Plus, the problem with texting.

The Alameda school district in California officially decided to indoctrinate the children in its care with a radical homosexual agenda last Tuesday. It approved a curriculum that ostensibly is designed to combat bullying but in reality promotes a homosexual lifestyle as being normal.

The curriculum begins innocently enough in kindergarten, where it states that children are to be taught to welcome new people, not to bully or exclude them. But by first grade, children will be taught that there are different types of families. They will be required to read Who’s in a Family? by Robert Skutch. This book is about Laura and Kyle, who live with “their two moms,” and Robin, whose family “is made up of her dad, Clifford, [and] her dad’s partner, Henry,” along with other families. The author said “the whole purpose of the book was to get the subject [of same-sex parent households] out into the minds and the awareness of children before they are old enough to have been convinced that there’s another way of looking at life.”

From here the indoctrination continues. In grade two, children will be required to read And Tango Makes Three, a book about two homosexual penguins bringing up a chick. It is banned in some parts of America. They are then to be taught that different types of “parents or caregivers” can lovingly bring up a child.

In grade three, they are to watch a video titled That’s a Family, which portrays homosexual “parents” as normal. The following year, they will have to read an article written by someone brought up by two “moms” on how to tolerate homosexuals. Finally, in grade five, they are to be taught about “famous” homosexual people.

The overwhelming majority of parents spoke out against the curriculum at a school board meeting, according to one parent attending. Yet the chairman of the school board ignored them, and repeatedly claimed that the audience evenly supported and opposed the issue.

For more information on the homosexual agenda, read our article “Radical Social Engineering.”

Obama and Netanyahu Wrestle Over Settlements

“Israel and America were locked in one of their most bitter disputes for decades last night after the Israeli government flatly rejected a direct call from President Obama to halt the construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank,” wrote the Times on Friday. “The row threatened to set back President Obama’s already bleak prospects for brokering peace in the Middle East.”

After a meeting with Mahmoud Abbas, Obama said he was “very clear about the need to stop settlements … to alleviate some of the pressures that the Palestinian people are under in terms of travel and commerce.” The president called for the complete cessation of any new construction and the removal of 100 Jewish settlements (which would impact nearly 300,000 people) on land Israel acquired in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. So far, Netanyahu has only agreed to dismantle 26 small settlement outposts and has not agreed to halt new construction. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rejected any half steps on the issue, saying, “We think it is in the best interests [of the peace process] that settlement expansion cease. That is our position. … And we intend to press that point.”

According to the Times,

Mrs. Clinton, using the bluntest public language toward Israel for years, said that when Mr. Obama met Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, in Washington a fortnight ago, he had been “very clear” that there should be a stop to all building and expansion of settlements.”He (Obama) wants to see a stop to settlements—not some settlements, not outposts, not ‘natural growth’ exceptions,” Mrs. Clinton declared—a reference to Israel’s insistence that new construction was necessary to accommodate the growth of families already living in existing settlements. …The aggressive tone toward Israel marked a rare rebuke from Washington toward one of its closest allies. It appeared to reflect a decision by Mr. Obama to try to change the behavior of Mr. Netanyahu’s government.There have been few instances in recent times of Washington publicly turning the screw on Israel to try to advance the cause of peace.

Jewish supporters of the settlements, on the other hand, are “increasing the pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,” according to the Washington Post. One group, the Rabbis of the Torah and the Land, “declared that Jewish law forbade police and troops from obeying orders to remove settlements,” the Post said. The group called a meeting to determine if Netanyahu had “changed his opinions or whether he is just misleading the Americans,” the secretary of the organization said.

According to another article in the Washington Post, “Netanyahu’s coalition of mostly right-wing parties has erupted in anger at the demand to halt settlements.” The article stated that “the near-daily barrage of U.S. demands that Israel halt settlement growth has surprised Israeli officials.”

According to the Post, “The Obama administration appears to have calculated that pressing Israel on settlements will help demonstrate to the Arab nations that the United States is serious about pursuing peace, even at the risk of appearing to undermine Netanyahu’s nascent government.”

The Trumpet has been forecasting the split between Israel and the U.S. for years. See “The U.S.-Israeli Collision Course Is Near” for more information.

What Iran Is Learning From North Korea

Caroline Glick reported last week on the Iranian angle of North Korea’s nuclear test:

It can be assumed that Iranian personnel were present in North Korea during Monday’s test. Over the past several years, Iranian nuclear officials have been on hand for all of North Korea’s major tests including its first nuclear test and its intercontinental ballistic missile test in 2006.Moreover, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to think that North Korea conducted some level of coordination with Iran regarding the timing of its nuclear bomb and ballistic missile tests this week. It is hard to imagine that it is mere coincidence that North Korea’s actions came just a week after Iran tested its solid fuel Sejil-2 missile with a range of 2,000 kilometers.Aside from their chronological proximity, the main reason it makes sense to assume that Iran and North Korea coordinated their tests is because North Korea has played a central role in Iran’s missile program. Although Western observers claim that Iran’s Sejil-2 is based on Chinese technology transferred to Iran through Pakistan, the fact is that Iran owes much of its ballistic missile capacity to North Korea. The Shihab-3 missile, for instance, which forms the backbone of Iran’s strategic arm threatening to Israel and its Arab neighbors, is simply an Iranian adaptation of North Korea’s Nodong missile technology. Since at least the early 1990s, North Korea has been only too happy to proliferate that technology to whoever wants it. Like Iran, Syria owes much of its own massive missile arsenal to North Korean proliferation.

For more on Iran’s role in end-time prophecy, read our booklet The King of the South.

Deeper Debt for Consumers

Debt and greed caused the current economic crisis. But rather than fixing this problem, Britain is still borrowing. The Finance and Leasing Association (fla) reported last week that the number of consumers buying goods through higher purchase agreements has increased by 24 percent over the past year.

The fla said that people were less willing to borrow large sums of money, but were instead taking on smaller loans. It reported that consumers were being attracted by zero-percent-interest and buy-now, pay-later offers.

This indebtedness could leave British consumers in serious trouble if the economy gets much worse.

Meanwhile, in America, the seasonally adjusted mortgage delinquency rate experienced its biggest-ever increase during the first quarter of this year—jumping from 7.88 to 9.12 percent. Both the delinquency and foreclosure rates are now at their highest levels since 1972.

“We clearly haven’t hit the top yet in terms of delinquencies or the bottom of the housing market,” said Jay Brinkmann, chief economist at the Mortgage Bankers Association.

For practical financial guidance, see our article “How to Save Money During a Recession.”

No Time for Family

Yet another study has been published in Britain detailing the disturbing state of the British family. According to a poll of 3,000 families, taken as part of Britain’s first “National Families Week,” the average British family spends only 45 minutes a day together. Most families spend much of that time eating or watching television.

The study found that parents were twice as likely to describe their families as “tv and digital families” than “caring families.”

Only 5 percent said they spent family time playing sports, 3 percent reading, and just 2 percent of parents said they helped their children with homework.

More than half of parents said they did not spend enough time with their children. Twenty-three percent of fathers said that spending time with their friends came before spending time with their children.

For information on how to fix this if it is a problem in your family, see our recent article “Redefining ‘Family Time.’

Texting Taking a Toll

The average teenager sent and received 2,272 text messages in the last quarter of 2008, according to the Nielsen Company. That’s almost 80 messages a day. The New York Times warns of the heavy toll excessive texting is having on our children. Doctors and psychologists warn that it could lead to “distraction in school, falling grades, repetitive stress injury and sleep deprivation.”

“That’s one every few minutes,” said pediatrician Dr. Martin Joffe. “Then you hear that these kids are responding to texts late at night. That’s going to cause sleep issues in an age group that’s already plagued with sleep issues.”

Last year, theTrumpet.com columnist Brad Macdonald wrote:

… Our young people’s addictive overuse of technology ravages the mind in the same manner alcoholism ravages the liver and smoking degenerates the lungs. Even some of the social impacts are also similar. Everyone knows alcoholism and drug abuse drive a wedge between the user and those around him, weakening relationships with family members and even society in general. In many cases, our young people’s perpetual connection to, craving of, and dependence on technology does the same thing.Entire generations of young minds are being gutted by gadget addiction, yet few adults are speaking out about this travesty.

For more information, see “Destroying One of Our Greatest Gifts.”

The Week in Review

The Week in Review

PT/Getty Images

Iran’s kingdom, Pakistan’s politics, Germany’s pride and Britain’s pounding.

Middle East

The leaders of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan gathered in Tehran last Sunday to discuss the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan and Pakistan. At the conclusion of the summit, the three countries issued a joint declaration in which they promised to find regional solutions for establishing stability and fighting terrorism. The fact that Iran hosted this summit gives it automatic significance, wrote Stratfor: “Iran is in the process of emerging as a regional player, especially in Afghanistan, where the United States has called on Iran to play a role in the fight against the growing Taliban insurgency” (May 24). By establishing itself as a key player in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, Tehran is gaining leverage over Washington, showing its potential to succeed where the U.S. has failed. With doubts increasing in the region over whether the U.S. will stick it out in Afghanistan, both Islamabad and Kabul are looking to Tehran to help form a regional solution. This, however, would most likely result in accommodating and ultimately strengthening the Taliban—not to mention Iran’s influence in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Iran and Pakistan signed several agreements at the Sunday meeting, including a deal to launch a pipeline to take Iranian gas to Pakistan and on to India. This agreement had been delayed for 15 years, reports Global Politician, due to the discouragement of the U.S. The use of such a pipeline would provide Pakistan with massive savings on its oil imports and thereby make Islamabad dependent upon Tehran. By offering Pakistan discounted gas and other incentives, Iran is deepening its influence in that country. What’s amazing is that Iran has supported the Taliban and al Qaeda, which threaten both Pakistan and Afghanistan. Global Politician reports, “[I]n a very complicated dual policy, Iran has been able to extend its influence in both countries while supporting the enemies of both governments. … [W]hat is clear is that the Islamic Republic of Iran is increasing its influence in the Middle East at the cost of the moderate governments of the region …” (May 28). More than ever, Iran is emerging as the prophesied king of the south. And America is facilitating that rise.

On May 26, Pakistan’s Supreme Court overturned an earlier ruling banning former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from running for public office. Currently the most popular politician in Pakistan, the Islamist-leaning Sharif is now in a position to become prime minister once again, whenever elections are held. Sharif does not have a good relationship with the military; his party has close ties with Islamist political parties. For the longest time, the U.S. opposed him, fearing a popular right-wing nationalist party could undermine the war against the Taliban. Now, however, the Obama administration is apparently shifting its thinking, considering Sharif’s ties with Islamist groups may make him better placed to undermine the insurgency. Such a strategy is unlikely to work.

In Israel, a recent poll points to an increase in anti-Jewish sentiment among Arab residents. About 40.5 percent of Israeli Arabs believe the Holocaust never occurred, according to the May 17 University of Haifa poll. This figure compares with 28 percent who denied the Holocaust in 2006. Only 53.7 percent of Israeli Arabs polled said Israel has a right to exist; in 2003, that figure was 81.1 percent. If the results of this survey, which included 700 Israeli Arabs, hold up across Israel, it would mean a large segment of Israel’s own population don’t think the country should exist. Israeli Arabs account for about 20 percent of the population, or almost 1.5 million.

Europe

Last Friday was the 60th anniversary of Germany’s constitution. The flag-waving and patriotism shown that day reflects a marked change in Germany. “Sixty-four years after the end of the Nazi era and its atrocious crimes against humanity, Germans are no longer ashamed to wave their flag or sing their national anthem,” wrote United Press International. A recent survey, titled “Being German: A newfound national pride in harmony with the heart,” corroborated upi’s report. The three-year-long study polled 2,000 Germans from age 14 up. Sixty percent said they agreed with the statement, “I’m proud to be German.” Sixty-nine percent said Germany is more important than Europe or the international community. This rising German patriotism is part of a disturbing trend when you consider it in the context of German history. For more information on Germany’s history and future, read our booklet Germany and the Holy Roman Empire.

France neglected to invite Queen Elisabeth ii to ceremonies marking the 65th anniversary of D-day next week. Despite the queen being the head of state for a large proportion of the soldiers who fought on D-day, French President Nicolas Sarkozy did not send her an invitation. After a public outcry, the French issued a statement saying that the queen would be “welcome” to attend. Watch for France to betray its Anglo-Saxon allies once again, as it has in the past.

Asia

On May 25, North Korea tested a nuclear bomb for the second time in 3½ years. Then on May 27, it increased tensions further by stating it was no longer bound by the armistice agreement that ended the Korean War. These developments show just how much efforts at ending nuclear proliferation have failed. Stratfor notes a different consequence of the nuclear test: “Perhaps the more significant change in the regional security environment will not be the incremental improvements in North Korea’s nuclear technology, but the more substantial and accelerated adjustments to Japan’s defense doctrines and capabilities” (May 27). North Korea’s actions are giving Japan a reason to talk about becoming a major military power once more. For more on this trend, see our February 10 article, “Is Japan Turning Its Back on Its Pacifist Constitution?

Japan is also using the pirate threat in waters off Africa to increase its military capability. Japan announced May 28 that it has deployed two P-3 surveillance aircraft to Djibouti to aid the anti-piracy operations. This is yet another step toward Japan shedding its post-World War ii military restraints.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned the West that Ukraine belongs to Russia, the Russian press reported last Sunday. Putin visited the graves of Russian nationalist heroes and thinkers last weekend to mark Slavic Written Language and Culture Days. After laying a wreath on the grave of Anton Denikin, a military commander who led the white Russians against the Bolsheviks, he urged the journalists present to read Denikin’s diaries, which refer to Ukraine as “Little Russia”—a term many Ukrainians find offensive and demeaning. Putin’s words are seen as a warning to the West not to meddle in Ukraine, a sovereign country that Russia aims to control. Russia and Germany are competing for influence in Eastern Europe. Both powers are turning to nationalism. Watch for the two nations to bicker over the area before coming to an arrangement over who gets to control what. For more information, see our Sept. 1, 2008, article “Russia and Germany Fulfill Prophecy.”

Latin America

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner announced on May 26 that her government will tap nationalized pension funds to stimulate the construction business. This is an attempt to boost popular support before legislative elections at the end of June. While this strategy may play well with her populist base in the short term, she runs the risk of a severe financial crisis that could leave Argentina unable to pay out retirement funds.

Police announced on May 21 that five neo-Nazis were arrested in Porto Alegre, Brazil, for plotting to detonate three explosive devices in two synagogues. Authorities suspect the neo-Nazi group Neuland has committed 10 murders in the last month alone, confirming a new pattern of violence among neo-Nazis in Brazil. For more on the resurgence of 1930s-style anti-Semitism, read “Anti-Semitism: Why You Should Be Alarmed” by Brad Macdonald from the May/June 2009 Trumpet.

Anglo-America

Ratings Agency Standard & Poor’s downgraded its assessment of the British government’s finances from “stable” to “negative” on May 21, fueling fears that Britain may soon lose its aaa credit rating—a frightful prospect when you consider that the European Commission estimates British government debt will reach 68 percent of gross domestic product in 2009 and 81 percent in 2010.

Britons are fed up with the European Union. A new icm/Taxpayers’ Alliance poll has found that 60 percent believe Britain should refuse to pay any fines the EU imposes on it. Almost 70 percent of people in Britain want the government to actually start breaking EU rules; only 28 percent disagree. Three out of four say any decision to grant more powers to Brussels should go to referendum. The Daily Mail Online called the majority Euroskeptics “ripe for revolt.”

On Thursday, the Associated Press reported that a record 12 percent of American homeowners are behind on their payments or in foreclosure, and the number isn’t expected to peak until the end of 2010.

The Guardian reports that America’s relations with Israel are at a low. “Increasingly fractious relations between the U.S. and Israel hit a low unseen in nearly two decades [Thursday] after the Jewish state rejected President Barack Obama’s demand to end settlement construction in the West Bank and Washington threatened to ‘press the point.’ The dispute, which blew in to the open hours before Obama was to meet the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, reflects the depth of the shift in American policy away from accommodating Israel to pressuring it …” (May 28). The U.S. president and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met earlier this month in Washington in what the Guardian described as a “difficult meeting.”

Putin Confirms: Ukraine Is Russia’s

Putin Confirms: Ukraine Is Russia’s

Alexey Nikolsky/AFP/Getty Images

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned the West that Ukraine belongs to Russia, the Russian press reported last Sunday. Putin visited the graves of Russian nationalist heroes and thinkers last weekend to mark Slavic Written Language and Culture Days. After laying a wreath on the grave of Anton Denikin, a military commander who led the white Russians against the Bolsheviks, he urged the journalists present to read Denikin’s diaries.

“He has a discussion there about Big Russia and Little Russia—Ukraine,” he said. “He says that nobody should be permitted to interfere in relations between us; they have always been the business of Russia itself.”

Parts of Ukraine were included in a region formerly known as “Little Russia,” while the main part of Russia was called “Great Russia.” To many Ukrainians, the term “Little Russia” is offensive and demeaning.

Putin’s words are seen as a warning to the West not to meddle in Ukraine, a sovereign country that Russia aims to control.

“These comments by Putin should be taken very seriously,” said Olexandr Paliy, a political analyst with the Institute of Foreign Policy at the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Diplomatic Academy, according to Time. “Russia is engaged in a propaganda war against Ukraine, designed to convince the West not to support Ukraine. Russia doesn’t understand cooperation with equals, only with subordinates.”

Moscow is advancing on several fronts. On April 1, a $20 million film adaptation of a 15th-century adventure novel, Taras Bulba, was released in Russia. The film shows heroic Ukrainian Cossacks fighting for Russia against a Western enemy. The movie, made by Vladimir V. Bortko, was financed partially by the Russian government. In it, Bortko aimed to show “there is no separate Ukraine,” and “the Russian people are one,” according to remarks he made in an interview.

Three days earlier, Ukraine had unveiled its own version of the film. But with a budget of under $500,000, it simply could not compete.

Putin has stated before that he views Ukraine merely as part of Russia. According to Russia’s Kommersant newspaper, in April 2008, at a nato meeting in Bucharest, Putin told then-U.S. President George W. Bush: “You don’t understand, George, that Ukraine is not even a state. What is Ukraine? Part of its territories is Eastern Europe, but the greater part is a gift from us.”

The Russians are trying to show the world, and the people of Ukraine, that Ukraine is theirs. Putin’s remarks came at the same time the Russian Orthodox Church called for Slavic unity amid celebrations honoring figures considered to be the founding fathers of a common Slavic culture.

Putin also laid wreaths on the graves of Ivan Ilyin and Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Russian nationalist thinkers whom Putin is fond of quoting, as well as on the grave of Russian thinker Ivan Shmeleva.

Last August, Putin aggressively staked his claim on Georgia—using tanks. Many worry that he could do the same to Ukraine.

Putin has also shown that he can use energy as a weapon. Russia controls a large part of Europe’s natural gas supplies, and can and has used this to blackmail Ukraine and other countries. Russia cut off supplies to Europe in the middle of last winter.

When Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, at an EU-Russia summit on May 22, was asked if he could guarantee that this would not happen again, he replied, “Russia has given no assurances and will give none. What for?”

Russia is being particularly belligerent currently as it feels threatened by the European Union’s Eastern Partnership program. The partnership, proposed by Poland and supported by Germany, aims to improve Europe’s relations with six former Soviet states—Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Russia does not like the idea.

“What we don’t want is the Eastern Partnership to be turned into a partnership that is against Russia,” said Medvedev at the EU-Russia summit. “I’ll put it succinctly. We tried to convince ourselves [that the project is not dangerous], but in the end we couldn’t. What worries us is that in some countries, attempts are being made to exploit this structure as a partnership against Russia.”

Russia and Germany are competing for influence in Eastern Europe. Both powers are turning to nationalism. Watch for the two nations to bicker over the area, then come to an arrangement over who gets to control what. For more information, see our article “Russia and Germany Fulfill Prophecy.”

Soybeans: The Next Looming Shortage

Soybeans: The Next Looming Shortage

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Droughts, floods, biofuel, farmer strikes and growing demand are taxing supplies like never before.

Vegetarians and carnivores alike will soon be paying more for food. America’s supply of soybeans is projected to reach its lowest level on record this summer. As a result, the crop’s prices are surging, and shortages are already being reported. Some nations are being accused of hoarding the commodity. Is it possible that the land of plenty is in for food shortages?

America’s supply of “old crop” soybeans will be the “smallest ever” this summer, according to a May 20 Agriculture Online report. The estimate represents the 2009 soybean crop year that ends at the beginning of September.

The new private sector supply estimates place the “old crop” soybean supply at 75 to 77 million bushels—a huge shortfall from the United States Department of Agriculture’s (usda’s) May estimate of 130 million bushels and its previous April estimate of 165 million. Consequently, soybean prices are climbing, causing some buyers to try to secure supplies ahead of the projected shortages.

This is an “extraordinarily tight number by historical (or any) standards,” noted Vic Lespinasse, a Chicago Board of Trade (cbot) market analyst and floor trader. “[W]e’re going to either run out or ration,” another unnamed floor trader said, quoted by Agriculture Online.

Soybeans are a source of protein and a widely used food ingredient, especially for livestock feed. They are also a source of vegetable cooking oil, as well as high-quality, heat-resistant lubricants and hydraulic fluid. Soybeans are even used in plastics. Additionally, biofuel usage is turning increasing amounts of soybeans into diesel fuel.

The twin blights of lower supply and higher demand are stressing the market; thus, price hikes could be on the way.

Argentina, Brazil and the U.S. are the world’s three largest soybean producers, and each is projecting smaller crops. Severe droughts coupled with farmer strikes have slammed Argentinean exports. With 90 percent of the harvest complete, production is estimated to be down by almost 40 percent. Brazil’s production is also reported to be down due to drought.

The verdict is still out for America this season, but with the widespread flooding reported throughout some of America’s soybean country earlier this year, U.S. production may suffer as well. In Michigan, for example, the Lansing State Journal is reporting that as of May 17, farmers had been able to plant only 15 percent of their soybeans, compared to 51 percent at this time last year.

Meanwhile, the Chinese “started their soybean stockpiling before anyone realized the lower world soybean production,” notes Agriculture Online. “As a result, regular U.S. soybean production customers such as Mexico, Japan, Taiwan and Europe have been scrambling looking for secured supplies.”

“In fact, if Chinese purchases continue at this kind of level then we are potentially looking at the tightest U.S. ending stocks in many years, possibly on record,” wrote analyst Dave Norris, a former agricultural commodities broker and trader. “This is a situation that should not be underestimated, with late plantings and therefore maturity and harvesting, coupled with the dramatic crop reductions in Argentina, the U.S. is in very real danger of running out of soybeans this year.”

Chinese state media giant Xinhua News created a stir in March when it quoted unnamed Chinese experts as supporting the creation of a Chinese soybean stockpile of 50 million metric tonnes—more than the total yearly Argentinean production.

In April, China bought a record 3.71 million tons of soybeans, according to Howe Street analyst Sean Brodrick. Last week, China bought a whopping 27 percent of U.S. soybean exports. That brings purchases of U.S. soybeans since September up an astounding 41 percent from a year earlier, according to the usda.

If China really is looking to dramatically increase its food stockpiles, there could be implications for the U.S. dollar.

“China is buying up all domestic soybean productions, forcing their domestic crushers to import U.S. soybeans. This reduces China’s trade deficit and accumulation of dollar reserves,” says MarketSkeptic’s Eric DeCarbonnel. In other words, if the Chinese are spending their dollars buying U.S. soybeans, there is less money to lend to the American federal government.

At a time when America is looking to finance record deficits, any slowdown in Chinese demand for U.S. treasuries could cause dollar weakness. A weak dollar translates into higher costs for imports, and potentially higher interest rates, as the U.S. government seeks to attract additional lenders.

But perhaps the more dangerous aspect is that America is allowing its food reserves to drop so low—currently at only a 27-day supply for soybeans.

In 1994, a Washington-based research group highlighted the potential of a national food shortage by 2030. At that time, the Trumpet warned:

But figure in the increasing occurrences of floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, drought and other unnatural disasters and it is sure to occur much sooner than predicted.With food as our largest export product, the United States stands to lose the most in any trade war if any “natural” or unnatural disasters should cause us to have a bad year. National reserves for our own needs, in case of just such an emergency, are very small and would barely last long enough to get us through to the next growing season. Who would help us, the greatest humanitarian nation ever, should we have a crisis?

America’s days of plenty are ending. Remember, only a little over a year ago, some stores in the U.S. were rationing rice, flour and cooking oil. This prosperous country is by no means immune to shortages in the food supply—and the social instability that so often results.

Prepare now for increasing shortages of staple food products. For more information on the root cause of the developing U.S. food crisis, read “When the Food Runs Out.”

The Final, Silly Stages of Adolescent Culture

The Final, Silly Stages of Adolescent Culture

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There is a way out.

Way ahead of his time, Herbert W. Armstrong wrote, “Few people stop to realize to what extent the teenagers have taken over today. They pretty well dominate the world picture” (God Speaks Out on “The New Morality”). He wrote that 45 years ago!

Today, American teens spend an estimated $200 billion every year—an eye-popping figure that makes marketers and advertisers salivate. According to one report several years ago, the food and beverage industries alone spend between $10 and $12 billion per year marketing to youth.

Marketers target young people not only for what they spend directly, but also for what they influence adults to spend. It is estimated that American children goad their parents into spending another $200 billion per year. According to Marcel Danesi in Forever Young—the Teen-Aging of Modern Culture, “Virtually the entire media-entertainment industry today depends for its economic survival on capturing the ‘teen dollar.’ For this reason, it caters primarily to the adolescent market. There is a veritable synergy today between that industry and adolescent lifestyles—they influence each other in tandem.”

Yes, indeed. Teenagers pretty much dominate Western culture. And what many do not realize, as Mr. Armstrong wrote almost a half century ago, is that this adolescent influence on Western society is predominantly sexual and violent. With the benefit of divine guidance, Mr. Armstrong saw the very beginning stages of a society-wide cultural revolution—spearheaded by teenagers—and where it was leading.

Society Upside Down

With about 35 million in America today, teenagers make up our fastest growing demographic. In a godly society, we would be enthusiastically encouraged by that trend. God, after all, has always intended for children to be a blessing to their parents—like “olive plants” around the table (Psalm 128:3)—and to society (Proverbs 20:29; 1 Timothy 4:12).

In these latter days, however, prophecy points to our youth as being a burden on society. Instead of helping to build it up, our own offspring are tearing it down. Isaiah 3:12 describes our children as being oppressors.

This prophecy is being fulfilled in two ways, primarily. One is in the more literal sense of youth oppressing society by their rebellious disregard for adult authority (see verse 5). The pervasive attitude young people have toward their elders in Western society is one of rebellious disrespect. In the most extreme cases, it can become violent. Teens commit three times as many crimes as adults, which is why our prison system is filled with young people.

The other fulfillment of this prophecy is even deadlier than the most violent youth killer. It’s described in verse 4: “And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them.” God isn’t talking about children with respect to age necessarily, but rather the way adults are ruling: like children! Read the first three verses of Isaiah 3 to see all the qualities of leadership that have vanished from our society: vision, prudence, judgment, wisdom, honor and eloquence. In this prophecy, God foresaw the near-extinction of mature-minded, biblically-oriented qualities of Christian leadership. And it’s because, in far too many cases, our leaders—whether in the home, within education, or business, or in government—have degenerated to a child’s level of understanding. Instead of preparing our children for the responsibilities of adulthood, we, as adults, are acting like children.

A few years ago, Time magazine reported on a new phenomenon among youths—about how long it takes them to transition into adulthood. “They’re not kids anymore,” the subtitle to the article says, “but they’re not adults either” (Jan. 16, 2005). So what are they? According to Time, they’re twixters—men and women (or boys and girls?) between the ages of 18 and 25 who don’t want adult responsibility. The American Psychiatric Association has even gone so far as to define the stage of adolescence as a period extending from puberty to age 34. In other words, adolescence today lasts about three times longer than it did just a few generations ago.

Jesus Christ—the most mature and gifted teacher there ever was—sacrificed His life for the world at age 33. What would He have thought about our immature, teen-dominated, sexually perverse, violent culture?

Even religion, the last place you would expect teens to dominate, is dumbing its message down to attract younger crowds. Here in Edmond, Oklahoma (where the Trumpet is headquartered), one evangelical minister surveyed the area and found potential churchgoers fed up with how boring religious services had become. “So he designed Life Church to counter those preconceptions, with lively, multimedia-filled services in a setting that’s something between a rock concert and a coffee shop” (Business Week, May 23, 2005). According to the article, even as Protestant and Catholic denominations are seeing their congregants leave—especially young ones—evangelical megachurches are booming because they are adapting to “contemporary culture.” “Kids are often a prime target audience for megachurches. The main campus of [Craig] Groeschel’s Life Church in Edmond, Oklahoma, includes a ‘Toon Town’ of 3-D buildings, a 16-foot-high slide, and an animatronic police chief who recites rules. All the razzmatazz has helped Life Church quadruple its Sunday school attendance to more than 2,500 a week. ‘The kids are bringing their parents to church,’ says children’s pastor Scott Werner.”

This is not an encouraging trend.

In 1 Corinthians 13:11, the Apostle Paul wrote, “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” Today, instead of putting away childish things and preparing our own children for adulthood, adults are stooping to the level of immature, rebellious, sexually deviant teenagers.

“It’s the commercial media entertainment economy at work,” wrote Danesi in Forever Young. “Age is now considered a disease. Youth sells. There’s a big emphasis on having it all: good living, keeping your youth, having as much fun as you can. It’s empty because there is no wisdom behind it.” Worse still, he goes on to explain, “It’s a cultural disease. And now we’re into the final silly stages.”

Seven years after Mr. Armstrong first published God Speaks Out on “The New Morality,” he updated and revised the text under a new title: The Missing Dimension in Sex. If you don’t have a copy, request one immediately. The pages within that book reveal the only safe passage out of our sin-sick youth culture.