Solving the Health Care Crisis

Why the November elections won’t do it.
From the May 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

For the American experiment to work, George Washington said it needed a foundation set in religion and morality. Without these indispensable supports, he warned, it was destined to fail.

Other founders expressed similar sentiments. Washington’s successor as president, John Adams, said that for the principles of freedom to securely stand, it would rest on religion and morality alone. Even the religiously challenged Thomas Jefferson believed America’s liberties were firmly based in the reality that they came from God.

President James Madison summed it up best: “We have staked the whole future of American civilization, not on the power of government [but] upon the capacity of each and every one of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”

Governing ourselves according to the Ten Commandments.

Listening to conservative pundits, one would think America has staked its future on the capacity of each and every voter to punish Democrats this November so that Republicans might quickly repeal President Obama’s health care bill.

The Republican Party now senses opportunity! Its base is energized! Pledge time, money and your vote to roll back health care reform, the party urges.

“There is no downside for Republicans,” their National Committee chairman candidly remarked in response to the new legislation.

“We’re going to try to repeal this,” Sen. John McCain promised. “We are going to have a very spirited campaign coming up between now and November. And there will be a heavy price to pay for it” (emphasis mine throughout).

Sen. Jim DeMint, a Republican from South Carolina, told Newsmax he thinks the whole election will be about repealing universal health care. Newsmax believes Republicans are already moving “beyond the legislative arena to position themselves for the upcoming elections” (March 24).

Just what the doctor ordered! A trillion-dollar health care package followed by billions more to fund a political power struggle in Washington.

Amid all the problems suffocating life out of the once-mighty American superpower—now this.

What must God think of America’s newest political debate? Never mind governing ourselves according to the Ten Commandments. Our survival as a nation now depends on who pays for your next mri.

This debate, ironically, comes at a time when most Americans have cashed in what little coverage they once had for their overall spiritual health. Our most serious crisis, Selwyn Duke wrote at American Thinker, is lack of health care—“the moral variety.” Given our spiritual decay, Duke correctly noted, “socialized medicine was inevitable” (March 24).

Universal health care is not the problem. It’s spiritual sickness that’s killing us. This is the brutal truth most people will not accept—that the cause of our ever increasing, insoluble problems is not one political party, religious bloc or ethnic group. It’s not even universal health care—or lack thereof.

It’s universal disobedience to God’s spiritual laws. And widespread evil, as we have explained so many times before, causes national sickness that eventually results in death.

Read God’s blunt assessment of our overall spiritual health in Isaiah 1:5-6. He likens our society to a disease-ridden body with open flesh wounds and putrefying sores! The entire bodyis sick, Isaiah said.

The Prophet Jeremiah identified the root cause of this terminal illness as being the human heart—or mind. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). As we explain in our booklet about Jeremiah’s prophecy, desperately wicked actually means “incurably sick” or “sick unto death.” This is why Jesus said we need a “physician”—because the human mind must be healed of its mortal wounds: self-love and vanity, lustful obsessions, greedy gain, competition and strife.

Why would we ever put our trust in the incurably sick mind of man? If 6,000 years of human rule, under the sway of Satan, have proven anything, it is that man is utterly incapable of directing his own steps without God’s lead (Jeremiah 10:23-24).

This is why the Founding Fathers believed America’s success as a nation depended entirely on the God-fearing morality of its people. They knew that unless religion and morality restricted evil, our democratic “freedoms” would cause sickness and lead to death.

Today, the nation those men founded, under God, is lying prostrate on its spiritual deathbed, gasping for its last breath. And the worst part of it is, we don’t even know we’re terminally sick—and that we desperately need intervention from a divine Healer.

This present evil world—even now—is gasping for its last breath before experiencing a sure death. As Herbert W. Armstrong wrote back in March 1982, “You live today in a time different—utterly different—from any past time on Earth! You are destined, as no past generation has been, to live in two worlds! Yes, this world is dying—that’s the real meaning of world chaos today—but there will be a resurrection” (Good News).

With God’s Word as your guide, you can make sense of this chaotic world. You can alter your course now and turn to God in repentance and love—choosing the way of real abundant living. And you can take heart in the fact that a better world is coming.

Bible prophecy informs us that we are very near to the resurrection of God’s world from out of the scorched surface of this present evil world. Very soon now, rising from the ashes of that ruinous, death-filled wasteland, will be an eternally living, messianic King, who, with the help and support of His saints, will establish a 1,000-year utopian rule on Earth!

Beware! The Vatican Will Retaliate

History warns us not to misjudge the resilience of the Roman Catholic Church.
From the May 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

Reading reports of the ballooning sex scandal inside the Catholic Church, one can get the distinct impression that the church is imploding.

Apparently, millions of Catholics are dazed and demoralized. Apparently, the Vatican is mired in an impossible battle against fact and truth and is reeling. Apparently, Catholic leaders are quietly, apologetically, retreating. The Catholic Church “now face[s] the largest institutional crisis in centuries, possibly in church history,” said the National Catholic Reporter (March 26). The damage inflicted will “last at least a generation,” wrote Peggy Noonan (April 2). Apparently, it will be years, even decades, before faith is restored, trust is replenished and authority is recouped. Apparently, the Vatican’s days as the widely respected and preeminent force guiding Western civilization are over.

Don’t buy it!

Of course, the story of thousands of heinous sex crimes being committed by Catholic priests the world over is important and telling. But the narrative that is emerging of a severely debilitated Catholic Church on bended knee before a disgusted and furious world is wildly exaggerated. Pushed largely by the mainstream press in Britain and the United States (including Catholic outlets in these countries), this increasingly popular perception overlooks a critical reality: It ignores the Vatican’s remarkable ability to endure and even thrive during immense trial and tribulation.

The Roman Catholic Church has a 2,000-year legacy of responding to major crises, with lethal and effective results.

History guarantees the Vatican will rebound—with more force than you could imagine!

What Sparked the Inquisition

Recall the history of the Protestant Reformation.

The Vatican was the defining force in Europe during the Middle Ages. The authority of Catholic leaders on all matters spiritual and moral went unquestioned. Even in issues of war and politics, popes and church leaders often wielded decisive authority. Naturally, this unrivaled power corrupted church leaders on all levels. In Rome and across Europe, Catholic priests habitually abused their position to grow rich and satiate fleshly desires. Over time, resentment and anger festered. In October 1517, the frustration finally burst out when an Augustinian friar named Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the door of a seminary in Germany.

Luther’s rebellion set a church-wide maelstrom in motion. Bolstered by Luther’s audacity, the Protestant movement quickly stormed across Europe. Soon, the role and authority of the Catholic Church were being debated everywhere, in villages and cities, huts and castles, on street corners and in parishes. Rome’s power began to suffer, desperately. The church appeared to be imploding.

Remember how Rome responded?

In today’s politically correct history books, Rome’s reaction to the Protestant Reformation is termed the Catholic Counter Reformation. In reality, this Catholic-inspired movement was a vehement, calculated and often bloody assault on dissenters!

The church’s response to Luther’s rebellion and the Protestant Reformation was “vigorous,” observes Stanley Chodorow in The Mainstream of Civilization. “[T]he church used torture and imprisonment as well as gentler means of persuasion to bring wayward Catholics back to orthodoxy.”

The lesson is evident: The Vatican will not keel over when assaulted by criticism and contempt, no matter how intense or widespread.

To call the church’s response to the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century “vigorous” is somewhat of an understatement. It’s true that in some instances reforms occurred peacefully within the church, where some doctrines and practices were altered to appease the dissenters and resolve the anxieties of the faithful. For the most part, however, the Protestant Reformation elicited an uncompromising, forceful and often brutal response from Rome.

Two Reactions to Watch For

As the Protestant Reformation erupted in the 16th century, Catholic leaders reacted to the violent criticism in two specific ways, both of which are relevant in light of the ongoing sex scandal.

First, Rome considered the crisis an opportunity to rediscover and reassert its “spiritual” roots and to reignite the loyalty of the vast number of Catholics who did not dissent.

This goal was largely achieved through one of the most important ecumenical meetings in Catholic history, the Council of Trent. Originally called to address the dissenters’ demand for church reform, the council—which met in three sessions between 1545 and 1563—effectively became a forum for Catholic authorities to regroup and determine a battle plan. Ultimately, there was little concession or capitulation. Rather than significantly revamp Catholic doctrine to assuage dissenters, church leaders clarified and reinforced Catholic doctrine. They passed measures that augmented papal authority and streamlined church teachings. In the end, the Council of Trent proved critical to “revitalizing the Roman Catholic Church in many parts of Europe” (Encyclopedia Britannica).

Not that we expect Pope Benedict xvi to summon a meeting of such magnitude, but the current crisis has already motivated the pope and church leaders to call meetings, launch investigations, review church policy and practices, and issue apologies. As the scandal grows, we will likely see more meetings, more apologies, and perhaps the “reform” of some policies and practices. If this occurs, remember Trent: It would be foolish to perceive such a response as evidence of capitulation or concession. Ultimately, the purpose of these “crisis meetings” is to formulate a strong and unified retaliation, which undoubtedly will include revitalizing the loyalties of Catholics, particularly within Europe.

Second, Catholic leaders reacted to the Protestant rebellion by seeking to reassert and enlarge their influence in European society and politics—especially within the multitude of Europe’s royal lines.

As the 16th century wore on, Catholic kings and queens throughout Europe were not merely embraced by popes and church leaders; the armies of these monarchs were enlisted in the church’s quest to purge the Continent of dissenters and critics. In Spain, for example, Phillip ii emerged as the figurehead of the Catholic Counter Reformation, and with support from the Vatican, promoted the “revival of a militant church throughout Europe” (The Mainstream of Civilization). Phillip didn’t merely prevent Protestant movements taking root in Catholic Spain; he slashed the throats of Protestants on behalf of the Catholic Church as far north as the Netherlands and as far east as the Rhineland.

By the mid-16th century, Catholic leaders had groomed a new army of hard-core militaristic religious orders (including the Theatines, Capuchins and Ursulines) with which to fight back against the Protestants. In 1540, Rome acquired a crude and valuable ally when Pope Paul iii sanctioned the militant activities of the Society of Jesus, otherwise known as the Jesuits (the cia of the Roman Catholic Church). “Through their [Jesuits’] clandestine operations, they strengthened the pope’s control over the church; they ran the best schools in Europe; and they reclaimed most of Bohemia, Poland, Hungary and southern Germany from Protestantism” (ibid., emphasis mine).

Perhaps the sex scandal engulfing the church is not on the same level as Luther’s rebellion, but in ascertaining how Benedict and the Vatican will react, the spirit behind the Catholic Counter Reformation is consistent with Rome’s track record of responding to major crises that threaten its reputation and authority. If the Vatican were to concede and capitulate amid the growing criticism, it would be rejecting its 2,000-year history of confronting criticism and tackling opposition head on!

This simply is not going to happen.

What Will Happen?

Informed by Bible prophecy and history, we can tell you what will happen. First, Pope Benedict and the Vatican will ultimately emerge from this crisis victorious, and with more power and influence. Second, while the church could lose members, particularly in Britain and America, its authority and influence in Europe will expand. More than likely, Benedict and the Vatican will follow the playbook of their ancestors.

Expect Benedict to treat this crisis as an opportunity for the Vatican to rediscover and reassert its “spiritual” roots and to engage in a campaign to reignite the loyalty of Europe’s Catholic population!

Expect Benedict and the Vatican to exploit this crisis to muster the allegiance of prominent Catholic politicians, social personalities, monarchs, governments and institutions in Europe. (Also, don’t be surprised if very soon we see an individual of courage and vision, and of German descent, stand up to defend the pope and the Vatican.) The more the Catholic Church and Vatican are attacked by the media and liberal Catholics (particularly in America), the stronger the relationship will grow between Catholic Europe and the Vatican.

Lastly, discard the overblown reports that the Catholic Church is imploding. Neither Pope Benedict xvi nor the Vatican are dazed and confused, and they’re certainly not about to slink away in guilt and shame. Watch these events closely, and let history and biblical prophecy be your assurance: The Vatican is alert and focused, and is about to respond to this crisis with a level of force that will shock the world!

Did Christ Abolish the Sabbath?

Did Christ Abolish the Sabbath?

©iStock.com

From the May 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

Most people know the Old Testament Sabbath was on the seventh day of the week—Saturday on the Roman calendar. But that day is for the Jews, they reason. Jesus Christ came to change Sabbath observance to Sunday worship.

Did He?

Early in Christ’s ministry, we find that He taught on the Sabbath day (Mark 1:21; 6:2; Luke 4:31; 13:10). In fact, Luke 4:16 says this was His custom! Mark 2:27-28 say, “And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.” Jesus Christ, the Scriptures reveal, is the Lord of the Sabbath. He made it for you and me!

The word Sabbath or Sabbaths is mentioned 172 times throughout the Bible; 60 of these are found in the New Testament. If Christ had changed the Sabbath day to Sunday, surely He or the apostles who followed in His steps would have explained the change.

Acts 13:14-15 show that the Apostle Paul was teaching in the synagogue on the Sabbath many years after Christ died. In verse 42, after Paul’s Sabbath sermon, many of the Jews who heard him became offended and left. But notice, “the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath.” The Gentiles, those who had no prior knowledge of Sabbath observance, asked if Paul could come back the next Sabbath.

Notice what happened: “And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God” (verse 44). Why didn’t the Gentiles ask him to come back on the following Sunday? Because Paul, like Christ, kept the Sabbath.

Notice Acts 17:2: “And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures.” This is now 20 years after Christ died, and we see that it was still Paul’s custom to keep the Sabbath, just as it was Christ’s custom (Luke 4:16).

Over 10 years later, Paul wrote the epistle to the Hebrews. In the first few verses of chapter 4, after discussing the spiritual “rest” this world will enjoy after Jesus Christ returns, Paul then explains how our weekly Sabbath observance pictures that millennial rest. “There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God,” Paul wrote (verse 9). The Greek word for rest is sabbatismos, which simply means “keeping of the Sabbath.” Most Bible margins even point this out.

Had the seventh-day Sabbath been changed to Sunday, wouldn’t Paul have explained this to, of all people, the Hebrews in Judea? Instead, Paul reminded them that their weekly Sabbath observance was a very type of the millennial rest to come upon the entire world.

But What About Sunday?

While the seventh-day Sabbath is mentioned 60 times in the New Testament, the first day of the week, Sunday, is mentioned only eight times!

In 1 Corinthians 16:1-4, the disciples were told by Paul to take up a “collection for the saints” on the first day of the week. Some use this not only to show we should go to church on Sunday, but also that we should take up a collection of money each week. In fact, Romans 15:25-28 explain that this special collection was taken for the saints in Jerusalem because they were extremely poor. Furthermore, Paul offered to help carry the collection in verse 4. So this collection was primarily food and supplies, not money. And it was for the saints in Jerusalem, not the Church. Furthermore, they were told to gather it on Sunday. So, far from being a command to worship God on Sunday, Paul was actually instructing them to gather up food and supplies for the Jerusalem brethren on Sunday, after the Sabbath had ended.

Acts 20:7 has another reference to the first day of the week. In that passage, the disciples assembled together for a meal—to “break bread.” Since God begins and ends each day at sunset (rather than midnight), this dinner actually took place after sunset on Saturday night—the beginning of the first day of the week. Paul preached unto them until midnight, the verse says. At the break of day, on Sunday, Paul left on foot, Scripture says, and sailed for Assos (verse 13).

Read the entire passage. Nothing in it commands a weekly Sunday observance. Paul was merely taking advantage of his last opportunity to meet with and speak to the brethren at Troas—and it was actually on Saturday night.

Nailed to the Cross?

Many try to make Colossians 2:16-17 say the New Testament Church did away with the Sabbath. It reads, “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.” The word judge means “to pronounce an opinion concerning right and wrong” (Thayer’s Lexicon). Also notice the word “is” at the end of verse 17. It’s in italics, which means it was not in the original Greek text—it was added by translators.

Understand the meaning! “Let no man judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days … but the body of Christ.” In other words, don’t let a man determine what is right or wrong about which days to observe. These matters should be determined by the Body of Christ—or the Church (see 1 Corinthians 12:27). And the Church establishes doctrine by what is inspired in the holy Word of God. The Bible, as we have seen, plainly teaches that we should observe the Sabbath.

And let’s not overlook this additional thought from Colossians 2:17: “Which are a shadow of things to come ….” You cannot separate the shadow from its object. A shadow from a tree, for example, always leads you right to the tree. If you take away the shadow, there is no tree.

Why would you take away the Sabbath if it is a shadow of things to come—God’s millennial rest?

Yet, that is exactly what many do. Newer Bible translations, for example, make the shadow sound negative or bad. All that matters is Christ, they say. Never mind His example—just believe in Him.

One other important point to make regarding this passage is that it was written to the Gentiles at Colosse (see Colossians 2:13). Before coming into God’s Church, the Gentiles had never observed God’s Sabbath command. Yet Paul tells them to not let any man judge them with respect to the Sabbath or holy days.

Why would he write something like that if these people had never kept those days in the first place?

The Sign of Christ’s Messiahship

The first reason most Sunday keepers cite as proof of the Sabbath’s obsolescence is the resurrection of Christ. Let’s again examine the scriptural record. After Christ had been resurrected, Mary Magdalene went to visit His tomb early Sunday morning. All four Gospels discuss this event as occurring on the first day of the week (Matthew 28:1; Mark 16:2, 9; Luke 24:1; John 20:1). And all four accounts specifically say this occurred after the Sabbath. (Notice the Bible makes a clear distinction between the Sabbath and the first day—even after Christ died.)

On Sunday morning, the women came to do the work of a common weekday. They were not observing the Sabbath day of rest. They did this the day before (see Luke 23:56). Then on Sunday, they gathered their spices and headed to Christ’s tomb. In all these passages, there is not one command to keep the first day holy!

Neither is there any admonition for us to commemorate Christ’s resurrection. Some claim that John 20:19 is such an example: “Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.” Nothing here, however, authorizes Sunday observance. In fact, the disciples weren’t even gathered for a service. They were dwelling together with the doors shut “for fear of the Jews”! They couldn’t have been there to celebrate the resurrection because they didn’t even believe that it had happened (see Mark 16:14; Luke 24:37, 39, 41). This meeting was simply Christ’s first opportunity to meet with His disciples since being resurrected. For 3½ years before this time, Christ had been with them practically every day. The fact that He was with them on a Sunday is not unusual.

Besides that, there is no scriptural command to observe the day of Christ’s resurrection, whether on Easter Sunday or any Sunday. (The Bible commands us to observe the day of His death—see 1 Corinthians 5:7; 11:23-26.)

Even if the disciples had gathered on Sunday to supposedly commemorate the resurrection, it would have been the wrong day! When asked for a sign that He was from God, Jesus responded, “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40). Traditional Christianity teaches that this three-day period can be counted from late in the afternoon on Good Friday until early morning Easter Sunday. That’s part of three days, they insist—Friday, Saturday and Sunday. But that popular belief plainly allows for only two nights and one day in the grave when Christ specifically said He would be in the earth three days and three nights, just as Jonah spent the same amount of time in the fish’s belly (Jonah 1:17).

Traditional Christianity has never understood the truth on this matter because the sabbath that was drawing near at Christ’s crucifixion was not a seventh-day Sabbath—it was an annual sabbath—one of God’s seven annual holy days (John 19:31). In a.d. 31, the year Christ was crucified, that annual sabbath occurred on a Thursday, meaning Christ died late in the afternoon the day before—on Wednesday.

Three full days and nights brings the actual resurrection to late Saturday afternoon, shortly before sunset. By the end of the Sabbath, Jesus was already gone (Matthew 28:1).

Think what this means. The foundational proof that traditional Christianity uses to endorse Sunday observance is that “our Lord was resurrected on that day.” But He wasn’t! Furthermore, He never commanded Sunday to be observed. Jesus Christ kept the Sabbath!

So Where Did It Begin?

So if the authority for Sunday observance cannot be found in Scripture, where is it? History tells. If we go back far enough, we can see where Sunday advocates clashed head to head with Sabbath keepers. At the Nicean Council of a.d. 325, for example, Emperor Constantine said, “Let us then have nothing in common with the Jews.” He continued, “Forasmuch, then, as it is no longer possible to bear with your pernicious errors, we give warning by this present statute that none of you henceforth presume to assemble yourselves together. We have directed, accordingly, that you be deprived of all the houses in which you are accustomed to hold your assemblies: and forbid the holding of your superstitious and senseless meetings, not in public merely, but in any private house or place whatsoever. … Take the far better course of entering the Catholic Church …. From this day forward none of your unlawful assemblies may presume to appear in any public or private place. Let this edict be made public.”

The Roman Catholic Church is responsible for changing the Sabbath to Sunday and enforcing Sunday observance. To assemble together on any other day for a religious observance was considered unlawful. This was confirmed at the Council of Laodicea almost 40 years later in a.d. 363. At that conference, it was decreed, “Christians must not Judaize by resting on the Sabbath, but must work on that day, resting rather on Sunday. But, if any be found to be Judaizing, let them be declared anathema [cursed and excommunicated] from Christ.”

Today, even Sunday-observing theologians will sometimes admit the Sabbath was changed by man. Notice the question posed to the Catholic Church in the book Catholic Doctrinal Catechism: “Have you any other way of proving that the church has power to institute festivals of precept? Answer: Had she not such power, she should not have done that in which all modern religionists agree with her—she could not have substituted the observance of Sunday, the first day of the week, for the observance of Saturday, the seventh day, a change for which there is no scriptural authority.”

Here is a quote from the Theological Dictionary, by Charles Buck, a Methodist minister: “Sabbath in the Hebrew language signifies rest, and is the seventh day of the week … and it must be confessed that there is no law in the New Testament concerning the first day.”

Finally, here is what Isaac Williams wrote in Plain Sermons on the Catechism: “And where are we told in Scripture that we are to keep the first day at all? We are commanded to keep the seventh; but we are nowhere commanded to keep the first day. … The reason why we keep the first day of the week instead of the seventh is for the same reason that we observe many other things, not because the Bible, but because the church has enjoined [or commanded] it.”

Followers of Christ

Scholars will reason around it, but the Bible is clear. There simply is no command endorsing any kind of Sunday observance. What God does command is this: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8).

The Israelites were commanded to keep the Sabbath. The prophets—described as part of the foundation of God’s Church today (Ephesians 2:19-21)—all kept the Sabbath. Jesus Christ came in the flesh and observed the Sabbath (Luke 4:16). All of the apostles, including Paul, observed the seventh-day Sabbath (Acts 17:2). They followed Christ’s example. And in 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul said, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”

Don’t let any man decide what’s right and wrong with respect to the Sabbath. Just follow Christ’s example.

Why Study History?

Why Study History?

Jupiter Images

Because it proves God exists.

The subject of history is grossly underrated. It is maligned and devalued by modern education, feared by students, and overlooked and underused by most politicians, intellectuals and journalists.

Ironically, even historians and others who enjoy and value history fail to grasp the critical importance of their beloved subject. In fact, history is perhaps the most underrated subject on Earth! Very few grasp and teach the inspiring truth about the ultimate purpose of studying history. What is that truth?

History proves the existence of God!

This ought not be startling. After all, God tells us plainly He guides and influences world events. “Remember the former things of old,” He said through Isaiah the prophet, “for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things not yet done, saying ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose’” (Isaiah 46:9-10; Revised Standard Version).

King David of Israel understood God’s role in history: “Let all the earth fear the Lord, let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood forth. The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nought; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands for ever, the thoughts of his heart through to all generations” (Psalm 33:8-11; rsv).

The Apostle Paul unabashedly declared this same truth to the Greeks on his visit to Athens. Men of Athens, he proclaimed from Mars Hill, “I perceive that in every way you are very religious,” but you cannot see the one true God, who made the world and everything in it. “[God] made from one [man] every nation of men to live on all the face of earth,” preached Paul, “having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their habitation …” (Acts 17:22-26; rsv).

These great men understood that the rise and fall of entire civilizations—even the geographic locations of peoples—were determined by God. They recognized that history was a product of God’s will and power. They knew that much of history was written by God before it actually happened—or was shaped and determined by God as it was occurring.

Think about that. If history was shaped to varying degrees by God, that means when we study history we are actually getting a glimpse into the mind of God. It means the history books collecting dust on your shelf—the history you studied in school—the history devalued, neglected and ignored by most people today—is proof of God’s existence! When we view it from this perspective, history becomes a fascinating and powerful instrument for spiritual growth!

Put God to the test on this. Consider doing an in-depth study of ancient Egypt, or Assyria, or Persia, or Greece or the Roman Empire. Use the Bible as a textbook in your study. You will be floored at how closely events recorded in secular history books align with events recorded, often in advance, in the Bible. For now, let’s concentrate on a prophecy in Daniel 2 and its manifestation in the real world.

The succession of dominant empires in Western civilization beginning in the seventh century b.c. is widely accepted by historians and scholars. That succession of empires, which you can find explained in detail in most any general history textbook, is as follows: The first world-ruling empire was the Babylonian/Chaldean Empire, which became the dominant power in the seventh century b.c. after its famous King Nebuchadnezzar conquered Assyria and invaded Syria and Judah.

The second dominant empire was the Medo-Persian Empire, which, under the innovative leadership of Cyrus the Great in the sixth century b.c., defeated the Babylonians, and dominated territory from the shores of the Arabian Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. The third dominant civilization was the vast and influential Grecian Empire established by Alexander the Great in the mid-fourth century b.c. and maintained by four of Alexander’s generals after his death in Babylon in 323 b.c. The fourth and largest world-ruling civilization was the Roman Empire, which emerged in the first century b.c. and went on to dominate Western civilization, to varying degrees, for the next two millennia.

The succession of these empires is chronicled in detail in history books the world over. Of course, other civilizations and peoples, many influential and impressive, existed alongside these four—but these four were the dominant civilizations of their time and form the backbone of the history of Western civilization. Many history books do a sterling job detailing the rise and fall of these world-ruling empires after the fact.

Only the Bible forecast their emergence before it became reality!

The Prophet Daniel wrote his book in the sixth century b.c. In fact, read the first chapter of Daniel and you’ll see that it’s describing the sacking of Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon in 587 b.c. and his relocation of the Jews back to Babylon. Secular history textbooks describe these same events occurring at exactly the same time. Among the Jews captured by Nebuchadnezzar was Daniel, a bright Jewish lad with the gift of interpreting dreams, who quickly became a confidant of the king.

Soon after returning to Babylon, the king had a dream that the Babylonian priests and magicians could not interpret. Daniel 2 explains how young Daniel was brought in to explain Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Notice, the king refused to tell his dream to anyone. He didn’t want Daniel or the others to concoct an interpretation. God revealed both the imagery and the meaning of the dream to Daniel, which he then explained in vivid detail to King Nebuchadnezzar.

Read the young prophet’s explanation in Daniel 2:31-35. The king’s dream was detailed and impressive. He saw a great image, or statue, which was clearly divided into four distinct parts—its head comprised of fine gold, its breast and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of brass, and its legs of iron, with feet of a mixture of iron and clay. In the dream, the image was struck in its feet by a flying stone, which caused the image to crash to the ground, whereupon the shattered debris was blown away.

This dream was the contents page for world history—most of which was yet to unfold!

After correctly relaying the dream to Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel explained its meaning: “Thou, O king … art this head of gold. And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth. And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron” (read verses 37-45). Daniel explained to Nebuchadnezzar that he, the king of the Babylonian-Chaldean Empire, was the head of gold, the first of the world-ruling empires—a fact recognized and confirmed by history books!

Daniel then told the king—the time setting, remember, is in the sixth centuryb.c.—that after the Babylonian/Chaldean Empire there would arise three successive empires, which were pictured by the breast and arms of silver, the belly and thighs of brass, and the legs of iron.

God was revealing through Daniel how the next 2,500 years of secular history would unfold!

The Medo-Persian and Greek and Roman civilizations at the time of this prophecy were mere kernels of their latter glory. God was revealing through this image that they would become world-dominant civilizations! Daniel 2 was a prophecy about the rise and fall of four world-ruling civilizations.

How can we know God was referring to these four specifically? Because the documented histories, which fill millions of pages of textbooks, of these civilizations unfolded exactly as God said they would in Daniel 2 and other prophecies in the book of Daniel. Take Daniel 8, for example. Here God revealed that the second world-ruling empire, pictured by the breasts and arms of silver in the Daniel 2 image, would be a combination of two distinct peoples that would come together to dominate civilization. If you know Persian history, you know that it was the joint efforts of the Medes and the Persians that defeated the Babylonians and established the great Persian Empire.

God revealed similar details about the Greek and Roman empires, even though they didn’t emerge as world-dominant civilizations until two or three hundred years later.

If you study the entire book of Daniel, you will realize it’s filled with history recorded before it actually happened!

There are countless thrilling details revealing God’s presence and role in history. Daniel 2 is simply one example. To learn more, request and read Daniel Unlocks Revelation, The Proof of the Bible and, most importantly, The United States and Britain in Prophecy. Study this literature in conjunction with some good secular history books, and you’ll be flabbergasted at the connection between secular history and the Bible.

Why Have Natural Disasters Increased?

There is a grave warning message in the worldwide escalation of natural disasters over the past 20 years.
From the April 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

The incidence of natural disaster has risen dramatically over the past 20 years. To close observers of current events in relation to both history and Bible prophecy, this is no mere coincidence. What muddies the water as soon as biblical prophecy is mentioned in relation to natural disaster is the fact that there is a literal abundance of kooks, screwballs and fanatics out there who instantly seize on the latest catastrophe to declare “the end is nigh.”

Doomsayers have been doing this for years. Far too many get involved in such activity for personal profit. They peddle their scaremongering by taking advantage of vulnerable people and, for a price, promise to show a way that the gullible can escape the wrath of their god, the next disaster, creatures from outer space, the end of the world, the implosion of the universe or some other such wacky idea. They make it doubly hard for the genuine seeker after truth.

The facts are that statistics prove natural disasters have risen startlingly since 1990. In a law-abiding universe, there has to be a reason for this.

Deadly Increase

During the 40 years preceding the decade of the 1990s, there were 142 classified natural disasters in the United States. During the 10 years of the 1990s, there were 72. The decade that followed from 2000 to 2009 saw some of the worst and most destructive natural disasters in recorded history across the globe. And the most destructive in terms of loss of life and property? Earthquakes by far!

“‘Earthquakes are the deadliest natural hazard of the past 10 years and remain a serious threat for millions of people worldwide as eight out of the ten most populous cities in the world are on earthquake fault lines,’ said Margareta Wahlström, UN special representative of the secretary general for disaster risk reduction. …

“According to the figures released today by cred [the Center for Research on Epidemiology of Disasters] in Geneva, 3,852 disasters killed more than 780,000 people over the past 10 years, affected more than 2 billion others and cost a minimum of us$960 billion. …

“After earthquakes, storms (22 percent) and extreme temperatures (11 percent) were the most deadly disasters between 2000 and 2009. … ‘The number of catastrophic events has more than doubled since the 1980-1989 decade,’ [said] Professor Guha-Sapir, director of cred” (United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction Secretariat press release, January 28).

The current decade has commenced with early indications of that trend continuing. Devastating earthquakes in Haiti, Chile and Turkey, along with record-breaking winter storms in Europe and North America, have left many dead and homeless, and greatly damaged town and city infrastructures.

On reflection, clearly 1989 was a watershed year, a threshold from which natural disasters escalated most dramatically compared to past eras in history.

Why such drastic escalation in natural disasters since 1989—earthquakes, tsunamis, destructive storms, floods, fires, mudslides, extremes of temperatures—which take the figures right off the record charts since statistics have been recorded?

Well, there is a reason. But it is only apparent to those who, in unbiased, clear-minded fashion, link the facts on the ground with the history of the past and the reality of inerrant Bible prophecies for the future.

No More Delay

There is a prophecy in your Bible that speaks of the world reaching a time when catastrophic events prophesied by humanity’s Creator—which were once delayed in their fulfillment for a great purpose—would no longer be held back by the hand of God. These climactic events were predestined to be delayed in their inevitable fulfillment to allow a great purpose to come to fruition. They were delayed to allow for the good news of His coming Kingdom on Earth to “be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations” before earthshaking events would herald His return (Matthew 24:14). After that, those events would be no longer delayed. A point in time would be reached when they would break out suddenly and dramatically to shock the world with their destructive force. That’s the only way God has ever been able to grab the attention of humanity!

Those prophesied catastrophes were to be a dramatic warning sign to humankind of the sudden, direct, imminent intervention in human affairs by the Creator God Himself! This was to be a warning sign especially to those who ought to know better than to live the prevailing life of immoral, godless profligacy that has so taken over their society today.

Most especially that warning applies to the descendants of the people to whom Jesus Christ came 2,000 years ago as a personal witness to them of the way humankind was destined by its Creator to live—the people of His very own national human heritage. They remain, though in rapid decline, the most blessed nations on Earth. They are the very descendants of the patriarch Abraham, descendants who rejected Christ’s message and slaughtered Him in a most hideous form of death, rather than accept who He was—the literal Son of God (request a free copy of our book The United States and Britain in Prophecy for the truth on this matter).

It was Jesus Christ Himself who declared that before His return to Earth, “there shall be famines and pestilences and earthquakes in divers places” (Matthew 24:7). He went on to declare that an additional sign of the closeness of His return would be that His own true and loyal followers would be persecuted at a time of great religious, moral and social confusion.

Why can we point to the year 1989 as the break point, the watershed, from which there have been 20 years of rapidly accelerating incidences of disaster across this world?

Jesus Christ showed the Apostle John, in vision, a keynote prophecy for our day forecasting that we would reach a time when events He had prophesied for our generation would be no longer delayed. Referring to that prophecy, which is contained in Revelation 10, our editor in chief has declared, “We are in a time of no more delay (verse 6), and I believe that is the major reason why our commission has changed from preaching the gospel around the world to prophesying again (with the emphasis on warning)” (Prophesy Again: God’s Commission to His End-Time Church).

We can prove to any mind open to receive it that the prophesied time of no more delay began on Dec. 7, 1989, just 28 days following the breaching of the Berlin Wall. Ever since that time the world has increasingly destabilized—through accelerating natural disasters, political upheavals, wars and rumors of wars, economic and financial disaster and great moral and social disintegration.

This will continue until humankind gets the message—the message that there is a great omnipresent, omniscient Creator and Sustainer of this universe who has created humankind with an incredible human potential to which man remains blinded by a power set on destroying that same potential!

If you have read this far, then you need to find out just what that potential is and really do something about laying hold on itfast—before catastrophe overtakes you and you regret not having acted earlier!

Request our free book The Incredible Human Potential. Read it. Study it. It will give you a foundation on which to prepare now for the cataclysmic times ahead, of which today’s natural disasters are but the beginning. More importantly, it will prepare you to begin qualifying to enter the fantastic World Tomorrow that these events will usher in.

Save Your Marriage!

Save Your Marriage!

©iStock.com

A beautiful truth that the divorce industry cannot teach you.
From the May 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

Divorce is hardly new; celebrating it like a wedding is. A small but burgeoning new industry is giving us divorce greeting cards and cakes—even fairs, where new divorcees can connect with life coaches, financial planners and dating service agencies. This is a full-out assault on the stigma of severing a marriage.

“Open a divorce registry, throw a divorce party (why not?), take a vacation or change your look!” says one website for divorcees. Divorce registry? That’s right: Department stores—including one of Britain’s largest retail chains—are encouraging the newly unhitched to register for and solicit gifts just like couples preparing to wed.

All this frippery is an effort to put lipstick on the ugly truth: that divorce is failure. Everyone marries with the hope of “till death do us part.” But often, as the realities of life impinge, selfishness intrudes. One or both partners become unwilling to invest the effort required to surmount obstacles and make the relationship stronger. They lose trust; they begin to cordon off territory in their hearts. Usually, each spouse figures the problem is mostly with the other. Often, they begin to believe that marital happiness would be theirs if they could only find someone more compatible.

Little wonder, then, that a growing number of people who split up have open ears to vendors, eager for their business, cheering them on: Throw a party—you deserve it! Don’t worry—yourrealsoul mate is waiting.

In reality, most marriages fail not because of a lack of compatibility—but largely because of ignorance about what marriage really is and how it must function.

What that means is, these marriages need not fail. Ignorance can be remedied through right education and the application of right knowledge.

What Are You Getting From Your Marriage?

The basic truth that virtually all of us are ignorant of to at least some degree is just how deeply selfish we are. And selfishness is toxic to a marriage.

Human nature tends to focus on what we can get from the other person. The romantic attraction that draws most couples together is essentially a self-oriented emotion. A “love-struck” individual can easily convince himself that he suddenly has a deep, pure, completely selfless desire for nothing but the other person’s happiness. In reality, however, real love is not even possible without a degree of maturity. Mature love begins slowly and grows. Lust often masquerades as love, but it’s lousy at maintaining the ruse for long.

A relationship based on get is bound to suffer, if not fracture. Once one partner feels his needs aren’t being adequately fulfilled, he will generally show his discontent by giving a bit less of himself in return. A negative cycle begins.

“[T]here exist, overall, only two basic ways of life—two divergent philosophies,” Herbert W. Armstrong wrote in his book The Missing Dimension in Sex. “They travel in opposite directions. I state them very simply: One is the way of give—the other of get.”

Marriage is fundamentally a giving relationship. It is successful—even to the point of being spectacular—to the degree that both husband and wife understand their spouse’s needs and then prioritize fulfilling those needs above their own.

Of these two opposing ways of life, Mr. Armstrong continued, “More specifically, the one is the way of love, humility and of outgoing concern for others equal to self-concern. It is the way of cooperation, serving, helping, sharing; of consideration, patience and kindness. More importantly, it is also the way of obedience to, reliance on, and worship solely toward God. It is the God-centered way, of love toward God and love toward neighbor.

“The opposite is the self-centered way of vanity, lust and greed; of competition and strife; of envy, jealousy and unconcern for the welfare of others.” The more that self-centeredness occupies a marriage, the more friction, hurt and broken trust will result.

There is a reason for that! As Mr. Armstrong explained, “Few realize this vital fact: The ‘give’ way is actually an invisible, yet inexorable, spiritual law in active motion. It is summarized, in principle, by the Ten Commandments.

“It is a law as real, as inflexibly relentless, as the law of gravity! It governs and regulates all human relationships!”

Yes—the very God who created the universe and all the physical laws governing matter with precision also set in motion a spiritual law governing human relations. Every hint of conflict in a marriage, every particle of discouragement or frustration, every speck of sadness or pain in that relationship, is caused by breaking that spiritual law.

How to Make a Marriage Great

True love is “never selfish” (1 Corinthians 13:5, Moffatt translation). This is a crucial point that distinguishes true love from love that is fundamentally selfish. Selfish “love” makes you hold back when you feel your spouse doesn’t “deserve” it. It means you’re unwilling to overcome irritating habits that you know bother your mate, but that you just don’t feel like changing. It means you allow petty personal interests to consume your time that your spouse would be thrilled to see you devote to the family. There are perhaps hundreds of little and big ways that our self-love can manifest itself in our marriage.

Society today tends to exalt self-love as the highest virtue. It tries to convince us we all have a natural-born right to put ourselves first. Scripture reveals that this is the get way. It is contrary to the spiritual law of God, which is true love. Though we probably don’t want to admit it, self-love does not make us happy—it actually creates tension, offense, hurt and grief within our marriage and within ourselves.

God’s love is always,always outflowing. It does not wait for the other guy to begin acting unselfishly before reciprocating with unselfishness. Jesus Christ died for us while we were yet sinners.

The principle of striving always to put your spouse’s needs above your own is fundamental to making a marriage great. If each of you is looking out for the otherover and above yourself, then there is plenty of overlap to ensure both your and your spouse’s needs are amply met. That is true love! It’s not, “I’ll give you this if you give me that.” It is never selfish. It is unconditional.

This is a difficult lesson to learn. That is why the marriage relationship is uniquely suited to teach it. Because it begins with each spouse making a lifelong commitment, a couple must find a way to stick together through whatever trials life may present, and come out stronger on the other side.

A Simple—and Difficult—Command

One of the first biblical commands regarding marriage is found in Genesis 2:24: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” What does God mean when He commands a husband and wife to cleave to one another? The Hebrew word is dabaq, which means to cling or adhere, or to catch by pursuit. Elsewhere in the Bible, it is translated abide fast, follow close, be joined, pursue hard and stick.

What practical instruction on how to love! In the midst of life’s hubbub, actively cleaving to your spouse in love doesn’t happen accidentally. Children, work, friends, chores, errands, bills, diversions, spiritual obligations—so many concerns compete for your attention. The command to cleave requires that you structure your priorities so as to regularly, actively pursue one another!

God commands that you become “one flesh”—not just sexually, but in every way. He insists that you build oneness by sharing your thoughts, attitudes, emotions, bodies and the physical things in life. Why? Because that is how you practice and grow in true godly love.

The command to cleave is simple enough—but it takes real effort to obey in spirit. You must spend real time at it. Share your life! Read together, listen to music together, take walks together, talk together, study the Bible together, do things together. Rekindle the flames of romance that drew you together. Court each other! Get a babysitter for your children and go out for a date, and not too infrequently. Take short trips alone—perhaps two to three days long, two to three times a year.

How is your communication? You should have more to talk about together the longer your marriage lasts. If you are making a vigorous effort to love and to cleave, then your common interests and your ability to relate will grow with time. You will feel close emotionally, and your shared understanding and affection will make your marriage a joy.

For some marriages, a mountain of mutual effort is required to restore the relationship to where it should be. If the idea of loving each other in this way seems overwhelming, that is a good indication you and your mate would benefit from getting some spiritual counsel.

Till Death Do Us Part

God created the marriage institution as the nucleus of family. He had a transcendent reason for that, but in very practical terms the fact is it provides a day-to-day training ground for learning how to apply the spiritual law of give—which is real love.

A marriage will be great inasmuch as both husband and wife pursue this goal. It will be harmonious and happy, rewarding and rich, to the extent that each mate drives out self-love and replaces it with true love. And real, mature love grows stronger through trial—and sweeter with age.

That is a lesson that needs the security of a “till death do us part” commitment in order to become manifest. It is instruction that divorce robs us of. Those breaking that commitment and celebrating it truly don’t know what they’re missing.

If you want more sound biblical instruction on what marriage is—including the knowledge of God’s transcendent purpose for creating it—as well as how to make it work according to the divinely ordained pattern, request Herbert W. Armstrong’s booklet Why Marriage! Soon Obsolete? as well as his masterful book The Missing Dimension in Sex. Both are free.