The Sea That Became a Desert

The Sea That Became a Desert

AFP/VICTOR VASENIN/Getty Images

One of mankind’s ugliest environmental disasters—and how it will be fixed!
From the September 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

It was once the fourth-largest lake in the world. Now it’s mostly a toxic desert. It covers an area over half the size of Iceland.

Situated in Central Asia, the Aral Sea was once a vast oasis amid an even vaster area of dry land.

Since 1960, the Aral Sea has shrunk by over 50 percent. Once a freshwater lake, it is now over twice as salty as the average ocean. Once the source for one sixth of the Soviet Union’s seafood, it is now an aquatic graveyard. Huge boats lie marooned in the desert. The lake dried up so fast that boat owners didn’t think to relocate their ships until it was too late.

The sea used to cool the air for miles around. Now the local climate is hotter and drier in the summer and colder for longer in the winter. The surrounding region, already dry, is becoming a hard desert.

This is not some nebulous, global-warming-type threat based on the predictions of computer models. This is actual, measurable and provable local climate change that has already happened.

This crisis stands to affect 40 million people. The two rivers that feed the Aral Sea—the Syr Darya and the Amu Darya—flow from the Tian-Shan Mountains over 500 miles away. Experts worry that the hotter local climate could cause the sources of these rivers to dry up. If this happens, all of southern Central Asia will lose its rivers.

Tens of millions will be left without food and water.

A Toxic Dump

Beyond the mass evaporation, the Aral is turning into a toxic dump.

For decades, pesticides and other agricultural chemicals used on surrounding farmlands washed into the lake. As the water fled, these chemicals settled in the lakebed, forming a desert of deadly toxic dust. Today, strong winds blow the dust for hundreds of miles. These clouds of death damage and kill crops and vegetation in their path.

They are affecting humans, too. “Health experts say the local population suffers from high levels of respiratory illnesses, throat and esophageal cancer, and digestive disorders caused by breathing and ingesting salt-laden air and water,” Scientific American reported in April 2008. “Liver and kidney ailments, as well as eye problems, are common. The loss of fish has also greatly reduced dietary variety, worsening malnutrition and anemia, particularly in pregnant women.”

New Scientist writer Fred Pearce visited Karakalpakstan, an area close to the Aral Sea, while researching his book When the Rivers Run Dry: Water—the Defining Crisis of the Twenty-First Century, published in 2006. The region, Pearce wrote, “felt like the end of the world.”

In his book, Pearce details the horrific health problems that have hit Karakalpakstan in the wake of the Aral’s disappearance. Ninety-seven percent of the women are anemic. Eighty-seven percent of the children are born with anemia. One in 20 babies has a birth defect. The region has the highest infant mortality rate in the former Soviet Union. It has the highest rate of cancer of the esophagus in the world, and one of the highest rates of tuberculosis.

In the area around the Aral Sea, life expectancy has fallen from 64 years to 51.

And it could get worse. Vozrozhdeniya Island, in the middle of the Aral Sea, was once the world’s largest biological weapons testing site. Here, Soviet scientists infected animals with anthrax, bubonic plague and other bacteria. In the 1980s they buried tons of live anthrax on the island, thinking it would never be transported to the mainland. In 1999 scientists found live anthrax spores on the island. After 9/11 a few Americans spent a few months cleaning up the island. By comparison, Gruinard Island, where the British once tested anthrax, was only declared safe 48 years after the testing stopped. Even then, the entire area had been soaked in formaldehyde. The cleanup on Vozrozhdeniya hasn’t been nearly as extensive.

Now, thanks to the drying Aral, Vozrozhdeniya is no longer an island. Experts fear that animals could carry the weaponized microbes to populated areas. Looters visit the area regularly, making a living off of collecting what the Soviets left behind. Who knows what they could dig up?

This has to be one of mankind’s worst environmental disasters ever. It is hard to imagine how you could mess up an area so badly without doing it on purpose.

No Isolated Example

The Aral Sea disaster was caused by gross water mismanagement during the days of the Soviet Union. Starting in the 1940s, the Soviets dug irrigation canals from the two rivers that feed the Aral. The canals were poorly built, badly maintained and horribly leaky. Most were carved directly into the sand. Scientists estimate that in one of the largest of these canals, the Karakum Canal, around 60 percent of the water soaked directly into the ground and was wasted.

The water is used to irrigate cotton—a thirsty plant hardly suitable for Central Asia, but one that fetches a high price on the international market. Even today the five nations around the Aral Sea—Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan—all rank among the top seven water users per person in the world.

The Soviets knew these practices would drain the Aral, but they didn’t care. They reasoned that this would only give them more land on which to grow cotton. Instead, they have bitten off the hand that fed them: The rivers that carry water to the canals are the same ones that may disappear.

Perhaps it is easy to dismiss the crisis in the Aral as yet another disaster caused by communism and the Soviet Union. But the root cause isn’t communism, nor is it the Russians.

The fact is, there are environmental crises like the Aral all over the world.

With the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the United States has made a mess of the Gulf of Mexico, spreading oil over an area of over 4,000 square miles. Granted, this single accident, perhaps due to carelessness, is not the same as decades of mismanagement—but then again, there have been many similar spills, several of which were even larger. Man has been tipping oil into the oceans for years through these kinds of accidents.

In Australia, the Murray-Darling Basin—once a well-watered area responsible for 40 percent of Australia’s agricultural output—is drying up. Some of the lakes are turning into sulfuric acid. The whole area is becoming increasingly salty.

In Iraq, the Shatt al-Arab marshlands are suffering a similar fate. The 6,000 square miles of wetland form where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers meet. “The waterway running from a land once synonymous with paradise to the Gulf is in the grip of an environmental catastrophe left by war, dictatorship, human thirst, and a criminal disregard for the fragility of water, the essence of life,” wrote the Times. The water level is so low that salty water from the sea is creeping into the area—killing the ecosystem.

Every continent in the world has similar examples. And such destruction is not purely a modern phenomenon. Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, for example, were once full of forests. Today they are known for their deserts.

Man has been destroying his environment for centuries. Of course, modern technology has allowed him to destroy it faster than ever before.

Tohu and Bohu

The Bible prophesied that in these modern times, man would be able to bring this level of destruction not just to some scattered areas around the globe, but to the whole Earth.

God gave the Prophet Jeremiah a vision of what this planet would look like in the end time. In Jeremiah 4:23, he wrote, “I beheld the earth, and, lo it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light.” The words translated “without form, and void” are the Hebrew tohu and bohu. A better translation of these words, as Herbert Armstrong explained in Mystery of the Ages, is “waste and empty” or “chaotic, in confusion and in a state of decay.”

Is there a more apt description of the Aral Sea?

Yet this condition only stands to get worse. In fact, Matthew 24:22 warns that if Christ did not return, mankind would wipe itself out. This too evokes images of the Aral Sea today. Fred Pearce wonders how much longer the area will be able to support human life. “Was I meeting the last farmers of Karakalpakstan?” he asks in his book.

What is the cause for the devastation in the Aral, in the Murray-Darling Basin, and ultimately the whole world?

Ultimately it is greed. The way of get. Short-term self-interest. Self-love.

In the Aral, the Russian central planners were greedy for the export revenues they could generate from growing all that cotton. They had no concern for the future of the Aral or of the people who lived around the sea.

The disappearing Aral Sea is a grotesque monument to the fact that greed brings destruction.

After the Soviet Union disbanded, the sea could still have been saved. Yet the rivers that feed the sea, and the irrigation canals coming from them, flow through five different countries. These countries couldn’t work together to save the sea. Now they are all about to suffer from its disappearance. Again, greed and self-love—the desire to have their own water and cotton exports—led to this destruction.

The real solution to the Aral Sea problem lies not in new, bigger and better canals or dams. It is in fixing this fundamental flaw in mankind: the ways of greed and get that are central to human existence today.

Absent that solution, no group of nations will be able to band together to save the Aral Sea.

Streams in the Desert

Although the Bible says the whole Earth will reach this Aral Sea-like condition, it also teaches that Christ will step in and save man from himself. After rescuing humanity from the brink of extinction, Christ will then rule over the Kingdom of God, which will be established on Earth.

Man’s very nature will be changed, away from his ways of get and self-interest and toward God’s way of give. Request our free booklet The Wonderful World Tomorrow—What It Will Be Like for a thorough explanation of this beautiful, prophetic truth.

Then, and only then, can man’s environmental problems be solved.

Read Isaiah’s prophecy about this time: “[I]n the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water …” (Isaiah 35:6-7).

Rather than relying on himself to solve his problems, man will finally look to God. With that trust in self finally gone, God will be able to help man solve all his problems, physical and spiritual.

Self-reliance and the way of get brought us the current Aral Sea. Only reliance on God and the way of give can fix it.

Then, God will cause the rain to fall in the right places at the right time, so these massive dams and irrigation projects aren’t needed (Deuteronomy 28:12).

He promises to supernaturally make water available in the desert: “When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains [artesian wells] in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water. I will plant in the wilderness the cedar, the [acacia] tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, and the pine, and the [cypress] together: That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the Lord hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it” (Isaiah 41:17-20).

Of course man will still have to work to improve and beautify his surroundings. But any engineering projects will be done in order to give. The needs of others, even of future generations, will be at the forefront of the planners’ minds. And as they look to God for direction, they won’t embark on any misguided projects that only backfire in the future, making the problem worse.

Cotton exports won’t be the priority in these projects. People will build with more than the area’s inhabitants in mind. They will be thinking of their children and their children’s children. They will seek a permanent improvement, not a superficial, short-term gain.

Back to Life

In November 2005, Kazakhstan completed a dam, funded by the World Bank, on the south side of a lake that was once part of the Aral Sea. Called the Small Aral, this lake used to be the northern part of the sea. In eight months, the dam proved a success. The water level rose from 131 feet to 138. Its area increased by 18 percent, and the salinity was cut in half.

Fish that were once abundant in the sea are returning. The area is coming back to life.

Of course, this is a far cry from fixing the whole sea—but fixing just a small part of it shows that what was once lost can be restored.

The same is true for this whole planet. No matter how horribly man wrecks it in the future, God promises that it can and will be fixed. The Aral, the Murray-Darling, Lebanon and the whole Earth can and will bounce back. With God’s supernatural help, it will become more beautiful than ever.

Once the root problem with man has been fixed, the Aral will do more than return to its former glory. It will be better, and keep getting better, as mankind looks to God, and works to give, by turning the whole Earth into a Garden of Eden.

Wanted: Healthy, Vibrant Teens!

Wanted: Healthy, Vibrant Teens!

Trumpet

Parents, we need to be growing fitter, stronger, healthier young people.
From the September 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

This past July, 120 teenagers descended on the campus that houses the Philadelphia Trumpet offices in Edmond, Oklahoma, and participated in our 17th annual youth camp here. This camp, sponsored by the Philadelphia Church of God, is designed to ensure these young people go home mentally charged and focused, their attitudes and spirits refreshed and renewed.

They also tend to arrive home utterly exhausted, physically.

For three weeks, these teens spent their days mountain biking, canoeing and practicing archery, as well as playing basketball, water polo, soccer, softball, volleyball and flag football. They walked, and often jogged, between activities, as well as to breakfast, lunch and dinner. In the evenings they often engaged in other taxing activities, including a track and field event and camp dances. And if all that activity wasn’t strenuous enough, much of it occurred in daytime temperatures that hovered in the mid 90s.

For some, just reading that paragraph is enough to make us sweat. Personally, as much as I love sports and the outdoors, the thought of spending six to seven hours a day out in the sizzling Oklahoma weather—chasing balls, paddling across lakes and biking through ravines—isn’t nearly as appealing as it once was. But to the teens who attended camp, God says this three-week display of physical strength and endurance was glorious and honorable!

You can read His admiration in Proverbs 20:29: “The glory of young men is their strength.”

Of course, it’s true that physical health, strength and vitality in any person is praiseworthy. Isn’t it interesting though, that God identifies explicitly physical strength and energy as a defining and glorious quality of youth? In God’s mind, being a physically fit and healthy teenager—a young man (or woman) with strength and agility, someone who is robust and energetic—is a splendid and honorable accomplishment.

It’s also a state of being that God wants all teenagers to experience!

This is why, beyond merely seeking to make camp fun, we have our teens engage in so much physically demanding activity. Together with the high-quality meals and snacks we feed them, the slew of sports and outdoor activities serve to improve the overall physical health and strength of the teens. It works, too. In virtually every case, teens depart camp stronger, fitter and healthier than when they arrived. Beyond the short-term goal of improved health, one of the longer-term goals of our youth camps is to encourage the teens to embrace healthy and active living as a way of life—a lifestyle.

Once embraced, this lifestyle will help them develop a state of physical health, strength and vibrancy that God says will be to their glory and honor!

A Dying Breed

It’s a tragic fact that strong, healthy teenagers have become a dying breed. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, over the past 20 years the percentage of overweight teenagers has more than tripled. A 2007 report by the Stanford School of Medicine estimated that almost one in five 2-to-19-year-olds is overweight. One national survey, cited in the Stanford report, showed that two thirds of high school students are not getting the recommended level of physical activity. Another study found that in America, 10-to-16-year-olds are engaged in physical activity for only 12.6 minutes per day.

It’s fact. The majority of teens today have poor physical health and display embarrassingly little strength and vitality!

Naturally, our first inclination is to blame others for this epidemic of physical weakness and ill health. It’s the fault of fast-food restaurants and the Internet, the mainstream media and video game companies, the government and our school systems. Truth is, most of the blame rests squarely on the shoulders of parents. We’re often the ones purchasing the chicken nuggets and french fries. We’re the ones buying the video game consoles. We’re the ones allowing our children and teens to laze on the couch.

Ultimately, we’re the ones failing to cultivate within our teens the desire to live a healthy and active lifestyle.

“I’ll Make My Body”

Consider the wisdom in the words of a father who clearly did not fail in his responsibility to forge his son—a puny child who suffered from chronic asthma—into a towering physical specimen. “Theodore,” this man said one day to his 12-year-old son, “you have the mind but you have not the body, and without the help of the body the mind cannot go as far as it should. You must make your body. It is hard drudgery to make one’s body, but I know you will do it.”

Here was Theodore Roosevelt telling young “Teedie”—the future president of the United States—that he needed to strengthen his body!

With gritted teeth and fiery determination, young Theodore Roosevelt replied to his father, “I’ll make my body.” Once made, that promise “was adhered to with bulldog tenacity,” wrote historian Edmund Morris. Young Theodore immediately joined a gym and began working out daily. At home, his father converted the back porch into a web of ropes, bars and mats. “For many years,” wrote his sister Corinne, “one of my most vivid recollections is seeing him between horizontal bars, widening his chest by regular, monotonous motion—drudgery indeed.”

Motivated by his father’s admonishment, Theodore Roosevelt spent his early teenage years outside—on the porch, on horseback and in the woods—transforming himself into the barrel-chested, risk-taking, energy-filled Rough Rider that he later became!

Like Roosevelt Sr., it is the responsibility of parents to help make their teens healthy and strong. Perhaps we lack the financial resources of the Roosevelts. Maybe we can’t enroll our children in gym class or fill our yards with fancy sporting equipment. But we can make our children switch off the tv or computer. We can enroll them in a sport, or dispatch them to the local woods, or help them find a job. We can send them outside to climb trees and ride bikes, to shoot hoops or build a fort. We can take them hiking and fishing, or simply join them in doing a few pushups and sit-ups. We can have them do chores, even physically demanding ones, around the house. If they can wrap their thumbs around a joystick, they can surely wrap their thumbs around the broom handle.

As parents, the responsibility is on us to cultivate within our teens the desire to be physically healthy and strong, to be active and energetic—to be motivated to make their strength a trait worthy of glory and admiration!

In Balance

Of course, these efforts to cultivate strong, healthy teens must be balanced. They must be complemented with similarly strenuous mental and spiritual exercises. This is why, in addition to all the physically demanding activities at our youth camps, teens take Bible classes, and classes on leadership and womanhood. It’s why we teach them public speaking and ballroom dance. It’s the reason we have them perform on stage and encourage them to play music and embrace art. And it’s why, particularly in this technology-ridden age of perpetual distractions, we encourage our teens to develop a love for reading, study and meditation.

As the 120 teens that came to camp returned home, it was our hope that amid their meditations about camp they think about the strenuous activity they engaged in over those three weeks. Not how difficult or hot it was, or how much they sweated, or how sore they were. But on the wonderful opportunity they had to develop and display physical strength and vitality—traits God admires as the glory of youth.

There Is No Such Thing as Two Fathers

There Is No Such Thing as Two Fathers

Spirit-Fire/flickr

America’s government is working feverishly to redefine family.
From the September 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

President Obama used this past Father’s Day to show his support for homosexuals raising children. “Nurturing families come in many forms,” he wrote in a presidential proclamation, “and children may be raised by a father and mother, a single father, two fathers, a stepfather, a grandfather, or caring guardian.”

Of course, biologically there is no such thing as “two fathers.” A child may be raised by his father and his father’s homosexual partner, but not by “two fathers.” That euphemistic term is a gross error.

In June, completely outside the purview of elected legislators, the Obama administration’s Labor Department unilaterally announced that the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) now covers “all families, including LGBT families.” Thus, companies will now be forced to permit homosexual couples that adopt children up to 12 weeks of leave.

How could it make such a change? Simply by redefining “son or daughter” to “extend to the various parenting relationships that exist in today’s world.” Thus, using the president’s own terminology, a child’s father’s homosexual partner may now legally also be considered a second “father.”

“This action is a victory for many non-traditional families, including families in the lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender community,” the press release from Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis said. “[A]n employee who intends to share in the parenting of a child with his or her same-sex partner will be able to exercise the right to FMLA leave to bond with that child.”

All this language is framed to sound like it promotes family in general—that it is just win-win-win all around. In truth, it represents the ceaseless efforts of self-professed intellectuals to popularize deviant sexuality.

They are hostile to the actual meaning of deep and wonderful words like father, son and daughter, and are eager to redefine them after their own fancies.

On July 1, the administration gave another big assist to homosexuals. Now same-sex “domestic partners” of federal employees can receive long-term care insurance benefits as if they were married; all they have to do is sign a form to receive the benefit. The president ordered the change about a year ago, when he instructed agencies to find benefits that could be given to homosexuals who live together. Under the Defense of Marriage Act, the term “marriage” cannot refer to homosexuals, but the new Office of Personnel Management regulation circumvented that law by creating the classification of homosexual “domestic partners.” It denies the same benefits to heterosexual co-habitators, saying that they can get them by marrying, whereas homosexuals cannot—yet.

On June 9, the Obama administration’s State Department dropped this bombshell: “The U.S. Department of State is pleased to use the occasion of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Month to announce its new policy guidelines regarding gender change in passports and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad.

“Beginning June 10, when a passport applicant presents a certification from an attending medical physician that the applicant has undergone appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition, the passport will reflect the new gender. The guidelines include detailed information about what information the certification must include. It is also possible to obtain a limited-validity passport if the physician’s statement shows the applicant is in the process of gender transition.”

Thus, anyone with a doctor’s note confirming his or her gender confusion can receive an official U.S. passport stating as fact that he or she is the opposite sex from plain biological reality! The press release nonchalantly states, “Sexual reassignment surgery is no longer a prerequisite for passport issuance.”

What utter confusion! Even male and female are open to redefinition in their minds. Perhaps there is no clearer illustration of the muddled thinking plaguing liberal secularists than the fact that they simply will not accept something so simple and clear-cut as male and female. In their twisted view, gender is a choice, and always open for reinterpretation.

Again, though, all this redefining is an intellectual fraud aimed squarely at exalting deviant sexuality.

The official language being deployed by the president and the federal departments he has staffed—“two fathers,” “various parenting relationships,” “lgbt families,” “gender transition,” “new gender”—camouflages some grotesque realities. Gussied up to look like it is promoting family, this is nothing short of an aggressive assault on family.

It is impossible to encourage both deviant sexuality and traditional family; they are diametrically opposite. And traditional family must be vigorously promoted and defended if it is to thrive.

The Ten Commandments speak to this fact by commanding both marital fidelity (“Thou shalt not commit adultery. … [T]hou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife”) and parental authority (“Honour thy father and thy mother”). Such laws are necessary to guide us toward appropriate conduct; our baser nature always gravitates toward what is not in society’s or our own long-term best interests.

Today’s society is forcefully pursuing a contrary, anti-Bible agenda that is dismantling families and leading to our ruin. All history proves that strong societies begin with strong marriages and families, yet self-professed intellectuals continue heedlessly striking blows at the pillars of family life.

In our own families, we must do all we can to resist this attack. Promote and defend family as originally and correctly defined by the Being who created it.

The Hope That Politicians Can’t Give You

The Hope That Politicians Can’t Give You

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Be honest: Political parties offer only dead hope. You need better!
From the September 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

When you look at politics in America you see the deepest division ever. There is a vicious hatred, far worse than ever before, and it’s getting worse every day. Both parties are at fault.

There are many people, especially on the left, who fuel that deadly division by playing the race card. White, left-wing radicals are allied with the majority of the non-white population. Extreme radicals have gotten control. What they really want is control of America! And they will do just about anything to get it.

It doesn’t take much imagination to see what is coming. All you need is a little knowledge of human nature and history to see that this is leading to a serious clash between the right and the left. A deadly, racially charged time bomb is about to explode.

Still, our racial problems are about to be solved! It’s time we understood this wonderful truth.

If we look at the political right in America, they talk incessantly about Christianity. But do we see God’s power in their political party? I mean real power. Are they really showing us how to solve America’s problems? The answer is a thunderous no!

As strange as it may sound, our many problems are actually a sign that the solution is near. Most professing Christians don’t see that because they don’t understand their own Bibles! That book is supposed to be the source of their religion. But in most cases, it is not! (This is explained and proved in our free book Mystery of the Ages.)

This world must learn that there is no hope in any political organization. Nor is there hope in this world’s Christianity, because most of their beliefs are not taken from the Bible!

Our people are going to suffer until they turn to the only living hope. This is why we must suffer. God is trying to turn us to the only source of hope. That is the lesson our suffering will finally teach. At last, men will take the Bible seriously and prosper mightily.

That is how you can see hope in our suffering.

It is time that we dealt with the hard truths. We are facing human annihilation! This is no time to have a dead hope. This is the time of the greatest hope ever! That is because the living hope is so near. Our problems are about to be solved in spite of us. This world is about to be filled with a bountiful hope. That message is taught throughout the Bible. But Christians don’t believe it.

There are literally hundreds of prophecies of that imminent hope becoming reality. And you can prove every word to be true. Real hope is not built on vague ideas.

The Bible says we are “saved by hope.” The other side of that coin is we are destroyed by hopelessness! This world is filled with hopelessness. That is because people have hopeless beliefs. The evidence is all around us.

According to Scripture, we should “abound in hope.” But if you look around, you don’t see that hope in people’s lives. You know what I say is true. That hope has always been available to man—but he has chosen to create his own false hope. And now all of the problems are ready to explode in our faces because of that wrong choice.

Still, God is going to save most of mankind—in His timeframe and according to His purpose, not ours. Every human being who has ever lived will have a chance to choose a living hope. Most of them will do just that, but only after much suffering. First we have to learn there is no hope in man—in human nature.

Even this world’s religions are founded on human reasoning—not the hope-filled word of the Bible. That hope has always been there. Very soon mankind is going to believe it!

We should have abundant hope in the imminent return of Christ—taught in more than a hundred prophecies of your Bible.

Is your faith strong enough in those prophecies to give you hope? It certainly can be. But you must choose that living hope!

He Was Right

From the August 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

Many readers of the Philadelphia Trumpet magazine tell us they recognize the same message the Plain Truth carried for 52 years under the direction of its founder, Herbert W. Armstrong. Subscribers even point to similarities between our style of writing and presentations compared to the Plain Truth in its heyday.

Mr. Armstrong was one of the most prominent religious leaders of the 20th century. He was watched, read and followed by millions of people worldwide. At the time of his death in 1986, the newsmagazine he founded was being produced in seven languages; global circulation peaked at 8.4 million. (By comparison, Time magazine’s circulation that year was 5.9 million.)

The sheer number of prophetic statements made by Mr. Armstrong and his editorial team, and their accuracy, will astound you. We have compiled many of these prophetic statements into a booklet, titled He Was Right (request your free copy). If you read it carefully, I guarantee that you will be astounded! This booklet is by no means exhaustive. But it does pretty well encapsulate what the Plain Truth was about for more than 50 years.

Our Financial 9/11 Was Prophesied!

In March 1964, Mr. Armstrong wrote a letter discussing the catastrophic economic conditions that would plague the U.S. and Britain in the end time. “If the dollar is devalued, inflation will almost surely result,” he wrote, “and eventual economic collapse for the United States” (co-worker letter, March 26, 1964; emphasis mine throughout).

Referring to prophecies such as those in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28, he continued: “Those of you who truly believe the prophecies of your Bible know such economic collapse is prophesied to happen! … We have shown how God prophesied a virtual trade war will get under way against the United States and Britain—and how our national economies will falter, and then collapse!” Remember, that was in 1964.

Over the next 20 years, Mr. Armstrong’s forecast became even more specific. In 1984, he wrote that a massive banking crisis in America “could suddenly result in triggering European nations to unite as a new world power larger than either the Soviet Union or the U.S. That, in turn, could bring on the Great Tribulation suddenly. And that will lead quickly to the Second Coming of Christ and end of this world as we know it” (co-worker letter, July 22, 1984).

So all of this bad news is a sign of the best news you could possibly hear!

In a sermon on July 7, 1984, Mr. Armstrong said, “I believe that some event is going to happen suddenly, just like out of a blue sky, that is going to shock the whole world, and is going to cause the nations in Europe to realize they must unite! … Now I think I can see what may be the very event that is going to trigger it, and that is the economic situation in the world.”

Mr. Armstrong made those statements 24 years ago!

Look how suddenly we’ve had the financial meltdown. Look how suddenly this world is changing. Sudden crises are like the theme of this age.

The events of September 2008 dealt a deathblow to America’s reputation as a stable economic superpower. “It really does look as if the foundations of U.S. capitalism have shattered,” observed the German daily Der Spiegel. For the United States, September 2008 was more of a turning point than Sept. 11, 2001! It was a blaring announcement to the world that the American economic system had passed the point of no return.

Note this accurate forecast from a 1983 Plain Truth edition. After a G-7 economic summit, it noted “just how important confidence in America is to the stability of the entire Western world.” A crisis of confidence in America was bound to have dramatic global ramifications, it said—a forecast that proved frightfully true right before our eyes. Then that article made this additional, more specific remark: “The lack of confidence in American leadership must ultimately lead to a parting of the ways between the United States and Western Europe ….”

The inevitability of this stunning split is abundantly clear in biblical prophecy. Still, the insight that it would be caused by convulsions in the U.S. that would shatter global confidence is remarkable. And the September 2008 economic calamity fulfilled this prediction with uncanny accuracy. Where it rocked America’s reputation, it brought on a very different series of events for Europe. European leaders took it as a sign to unite quickly, and then step into the vacuum being created by America’s crumbling financial system.

German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück summed up European sentiment in October 2008 when he stated that “the origin and the center of gravity of the problem is clearly in the U.S.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy agreed, both making it clear that they believed the global financial crisis was America’s fault. Pope Benedict xvi threw his voice behind the Europeans too. In a July 2009 encyclical, he joined the chorus calling for a new world financial order independent of the U.S.

Germany Domineers Europe

For more than five decades under Mr. Armstrong’s leadership, year in and year out the Plain Truth powerfully and consistently shouted a warning in print about the revival and unification of Germany. It proclaimed that Germany would be the dominant force behind a powerful union of European nation-states that would surpass the Russian bloc and even Britain and America in power and hegemony. Imagine predicting that when Germany lay in rubble after World War ii. But that’s what thePlain Truthdid!

In 1945, Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill signed a document stating how Germany would never again be allowed to disturb the peace of the world. At the same time, Mr. Armstrong was saying just the opposite! While Washington and London promised that Germany would never again be able to strike, Herbert Armstrong was preaching to the whole world that Germany would rise again, with greater power than ever before!

“One thing you can count on. In fact it is so sure you can bank on it: The cry of a political union in Europe will get louder and before long we will see the Common Market develop into a United States of Europe. You won’t have to wait long!” (Plain Truth, September 1967).

“For nearly 30 years the Plain Truth magazine and the World Tomorrow broadcast have been telling the world that Europe would unite—that a United States of Europe was as certain as the rising of tomorrow’s sun” (ibid., February 1970).

“Biblical prophecy revealed that this empire would start as an economic movement—that it would bring an era of unusual prosperity to Europe. It did start in March 1957, when six European countries—West Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg—signed the Treaty of Rome, creating the European Economic Community. … How did I know, as far back as 1927, that this coming United States of Europe would spring up—in our time? I knew because I saw it clearly revealed in biblical prophecy” (ibid., March 1973).

In a 1999 book called On the Next War With Germany, French author Philippe Delmas, a senior civil servant, argued that “fear of Germany is back.” He wrote that “Germany seems threatening, despite itself, and nowhere more so than in France!”

Consider as well this startling statement by Mr. Armstrong in the Plain Truth way back in 1952: “The United States is determined, now, to let nothing stand in the way of building up a re-armed, independent Germany. This will be the heart and core of the united Europe that will revive the Roman Empire” (June 1952).

Heart and core of the united Europe”—how closely those words were paralleled by America’s ambassador to Germany, Philip Murphy. On Dec. 1, 2009, Ambassador Murphy “called on Berlin to work closely with Washington,” the Local reported. It quoted him as saying at a speech in Berlin, “We need strong partners—and nowhere are there better or more committed partners than in Europe. And Germany is the centerpiece of the European Union.” Without realizing it, the ambassador endorsed the prophetic words of Herbert Armstrong, declared well over 60 years ago when Germany was anything but the “centerpiece” of Europe! How powerfully that prophecy has been fulfilled!

Today, Germany is, by far, the EU’s leading economy.

Judicially, Germany is the only nation boasting a high court, the German Constitutional Court, whose power exceeds that of the European Court of Justice! The powers of the latter trump all judicial powers of the individual high courts of the other EU member nations. Then there’s the Financial Stability Board, a German idea, embraced by the G-20 group of nations as future regulator of the global economy. The EU has the majority vote on that board.

In an interesting development, however, Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court determined that, unless a contrary law was enacted before the Lisbon Treaty was ratified, that treaty would disempower the German parliament. The court quickly acted to ensure that German law would override EU law. It determined that the Bundestag must have ultimate say over whether the German Army participates in an EU military operation. The remarkable upshot of this trick is that, now, Germany must give the “go” on any deployment of any EU battle group. So not only are the most vital EU parliamentary committees now dominated by Germany, but the deployment of EU battle groups is also essentially at the direction of the German High Command under German parliamentary approval!

Returning to the Fold

“Protestant churches everywhere are gravitating toward union with the Roman Catholic Church. These religious movements are speeding the fulfillment of the prophecies of the resurrected Roman Empire. For 30 years I have been proclaiming this tremendous event over the air and in print,” Mr. Armstrong wrote in 1963.

In recent years, many Anglicans have been angered by their church’s liberal stance on issues such as the ordination of female clergy and homosexual priests. Now, thanks to an invitation from the pope at the end of 2009, they may flock to the Catholic Church.

This process has not been limited to the Anglicans. The Vatican is making great strides toward bringing every major Christian denomination, especially in Europe, under the authority of Rome.

This is exactly what Herbert Armstrong said would happen. Through the pages of the Plain Truth, Mr. Armstrong prophesied of this coming church unity. Notice, again: “The final—albeit short-lived—triumph of Catholicism is recorded in literally dozens of Bible prophecies. Right now—whether we want to believe it or not—the stage is being set for the greatest revolution in religion the world has witnessed” (November 1963).

In the 1930s, when future church unity was being prophesied, nothing was further from the minds of Protestants. They would have said, “Unity? Never!” But what do we see today, over 70 years after Mr. Armstrong first broke that news to the world? We see the Anglican Church and Rome’s other Protestant daughters returning to the fold!

“[W]e need to understand that the one great, overall, ultimate goal is the reuniting of all Christianity into one cohesive unit under one head—the Roman pontiff—in an attempt to bring to the world the Catholic concept of peace. This plan envisions the full use of the new Europe!” (ibid., January 1963). This church-state combine is called the Holy Roman Empire.

That statement was made 47 years ago!

In July of 2007, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith restated the doctrines of “Dominus Iesus,” a document Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had signed in 2000 to proclaim that non-Catholics were “gravely deficient” and that Protestant churches are “not churches in the proper sense.” The restatement added that Orthodox churches suffer from a “wound” because they do not accept the pope’s authority.

In October 2007, Orthodox leaders signed an agreement with Vatican officials that established the primacy of the pope over all Catholic and Orthodox bishops.

The Asian Kings

As early as April 1952, even while West Germany was rebuilding after being bombed to ashes in World War ii, the Plain Truth wrote, “Russia may give East Germany back to the Germans and will be forced to relinquish her control over Hungary, Czechoslovakia and parts of Austria to complete the 10-nation union.”

What a shocking prophecy to be made 58 years ago! And all of it has been fulfilled or is being fulfilled before our eyes.

Notice what Mr. Armstrong wrote in a booklet first published in 1955—over 4½ decades before Eastern Europe split from the ussr: “Some of the Balkan nations are going to tear away from behind the Iron Curtain. Russia has lost already, to all appearances, Tito’s Yugoslavia. Russia probably will lose still more of her Eastern European satellites.”

Not many would have believed that statement then, or this Plain Truth report the following year: “Communist oppression in Eastern Europe is being overthrown. … We have shown years in advance what would happen to Russia’s ill-fated empire in Eastern Europe. These prophecies have been in your Bible for the past 1,900 years. But the world, and the churches of this world, have refused to believe them” (December 1956).

In January 1957, Mr. Armstrong wrote, “When the right psychological moment arrives, a number of these nations will break away from Moscow ….”

In July 1966, this startling prediction was made: “India knows Red China is completing massive troop buildups on the Indian border. India knows Red China has the atomic bomb, and possibly the hydrogen bomb. That means, in the most urgent considerations of national security, India must have the bomb! Purely as a defensive measure against Red China, of course. But then there’s Pakistan … [which is] one nation, born of violent hatreds between Hindu and Muslim. Should India build the bombs, Pakistanis would turn in desperation to the big powers—they would be forced to obtain nuclear weapons!”

Herbert W. Armstrong was able to see and publicly declare many prophecies because he was willing to submit to the authority of the Bible. We have highlighted only a few of those that concern major events now shaping the future of our existence. You urgently need to study this mind-staggering booklet, He Was Right!

One of the earliest prophecies of which he spoke, however—possibly the first and certainly the most important—has only been touched on here. It is an event that will bring the final, peaceful end of all the prophecies spoken of. It is a prophecy he began teaching back in the 1930s: the prophecy of the soon-coming government of God in the wonderful World Tomorrow.

Mr. Armstrong first determined to broadcast “the wonderful news of the World Tomorrow” in 1933. Later he wrote, “All I had in mind, as the World Tomorrow program was being planned late in 1933, was to serve God faithfully wherever He should lead” (Autobiography of Herbert W. Armstrong,Volume 1).

“You don’t have to believe it! It will happen, regardless. It is sure—the world’s only sure hope. This advance good news of tomorrow is as certain as the rising of tomorrow’s sun. Humanity won’t bring it about—it is going to be done to us. Humanity is going to be forced to be happy—to enjoy world peace—to see universal abundance and joy fill the Earth” (The Wonderful World Tomorrow—What It Will Be Like).

Israel the Outcast

Its desperate turn to Germany for help is drawing near.
From the August 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

The terrorists who sponsored the Gaza-bound “humanitarian” mission in early June got exactly what they were aiming for: a lethal retaliation from Israel’s navy, followed by a tidal wave of international outrage against Israel. It doesn’t matter that 50 passengers on board the Mavi Marmara were linked to terror groups, or that the “peace activists” attacked Israeli commandos with metal rods, broken bottles, knives and stun grenades, or that three of the Turks killed by Israeli commandos actually wanted to die as martyrs, or that investigators discovered bulletproof vests, night vision goggles and gas masks on board the ship, while finding nothing that constituted real humanitarian aid.

All that matters is that Israel, once again, is the bad guy.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy was “profoundly shocked” by the Israeli “military option.” Britain’s new prime minister, David Cameron, said the way Israel responded to the attack was “completely unacceptable.” The UN Security Council met for an emergency session to hurriedly pass a resolution condemning Israel’s “use of force” and demanding an investigation. Iran called for Benjamin Netanyahu to stand trial. Turkey, once regarded as Israel’s closest ally in the Middle East, condemned Israel’s action (sidebar, page 28) and rebuked the United States for not immediately joining the chorus of condemnation.

If Washington’s criticism seemed muted at first, it soon got louder. For one, the U.S. refused to veto the UN resolution. Then, according to a New York Times report, an official close to the Obama administration said Israel needed to employ a new approach on Gaza, calling the current blockade “untenable.”

On June 20, the capitulation began. In an attempt to ease international condemnation, Israel announced that it had effectively ended the land blockade. From now on, Israel will allow anything into Gaza as long as its primary purpose is not military. Even dual-use material will be allowed in.

Global pressure on Israel keeps getting worse. The time is coming when this tiny nation will no longer hold out against it. More capitulations are coming.

Already Israel is now seriously considering asking the EU to send monitors to Gaza’s border crossings (Jerusalem Post, June 21). This would be “a first step towards surrendering its sovereign control over its borders,” explained Caroline Glick.

It would also be the first step to another war. From 2005 to 2007 the European Union Border Assistance Mission supervised the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt. Under the EU’s careful supervision, Hamas managed to smuggle enough weaponry into Gaza to take over the government in a violent coup. Terrorists snuck in from Iran, and $68 million in cash was smuggled through the checkpoint in one year alone. Yet Israel is now considering letting these same border protection officials play a role in all of Gaza’s crossing points.

Strengthening Hamas—and Iran!

The Gaza embargo, keep in mind, never prevented humanitarian aid from reaching Palestinians—only weapons from falling into the hands of the genocidal government that controls Gaza. That is why Israel demanded the “freedom flotilla” to dock at an Israeli port—so shipments could be offloaded, inspected and then delivered to the people of Gaza.

But by demanding that the coastal blockade be lifted, the international community is basically saying Israel has no right to inspect shipments intended to re-supply Hamas—an untenable arrangement from Israel’s perspective, if ever there was one.

By siding with Hamas against Israel, as Glick noted on June 15, the West also backed Hamas against Fatah. This is why, in a meeting with President Obama after the flotilla incident, Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas insisted that the West should not act in a way that could be construed as a Hamas victory. He actually said the blockade should not be lifted—and that additional aid should be delivered through land crossings rather than by sea!

But rather than side with the more moderate Palestinian faction, U.S. President Barack Obama chose to stick with Hamas. During Abbas’s visit to Washington, President Obama announced that America would be sending $450 million in aid to Hamas. “So too,” Glick wrote, “Abbas is forced to cheer as Obama pressures Israel to give Hamas an outlet to the sea. This will render it impossible for Fatah to ever unseat Hamas either by force or at the ballot box. Hamas’s international clout demonstrates to the Palestinians that jihad pays.”

It also boosts the international clout of Hamas’s state sponsor in Iran. Even before the flotilla conflict, Mahmoud Abbas said on Egyptian television that unity between Hamas and Fatah is impossible because Iran has “hijacked” the Palestinian people.

And so what did the United States do? It sided with Hamas, which only strengthens Iran’s position. Iran is now hard at work arranging its own “humanitarian aid” flotillas. And Israel, of course, will be expected to clear the way for ships sailing from Iran to Gaza.

It gets worse.

Has the World Lost Its Mind?

In May, at the United Nations, a U.S. delegation broke a long-standing U.S.-Israeli agreement by endorsing a UN resolution calling on Israel to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (npt). Since 1969, Israel had agreed not to publicly reveal its nuclear weapons capabilities as long as America promised not to pressure it to join the npt. As recently as May 2009, Obama assured Netanyahu this agreement still held.

But now, it is Israelnot Iran—that heads the list of existential threats in the Middle East. Now, Israel, the only free democracy in the Middle East, is singled out as dangerous—not the number-one state sponsor of terror that openly threatens to annihilate the Jewish state. And now, it is Israel that must disarm—not the regime in Tehran, which already has enough uranium for two nuclear bombs. Iran wasn’t even mentioned in the npt resolution.

According to the Washington Post, the Iranian delegation was so surprised by America’s endorsement of the UN resolution that it asked for the session to be postponed by four hours so that its diplomats could consult with leaders in Tehran.

These mind-boggling developments, as journalist Yossi Halevi noted in the Wall Street Journal, have many Israelis wondering: “Has the world lost its mind?” In fact, we are living in a world gone mad—one in which there is “a growing sense of empowerment among jihadists, and a growing sense of desperation among Israelis” (June 4).

This growing sense of empowerment among the jihadists will result in the emergence of Iran as the preeminent regional power in the Middle East—the biblically prophesied “king of the south” that will soon clash with the German-led European Union (Daniel 11:40).

At the same time, the Bible also foretold the “growing sense of desperation among Israelis”—and what this will lead to.

Dangerous Desperation

This latest PR disaster for Israel comes atop a string of defeats and setbacks that have left it increasingly isolated: the Gaza war, housing developments in Jerusalem, failed diplomacy with Turkey, a warming Iran-Egypt relationship, a strengthened Hamas and Hezbollah. It also further isolates the Jewish state from America. The Obama administration reportedly even told Prime Minister Netanyahu to return home early from his North American trip instead of visiting Washington as planned, because the Obama administration didn’t want him to use the White House as a stage to present Israel’s side of the story.

Caving to U.S. pressure, Israel agreed to allow foreigners to oversee an Israeli investigation into the Mavi Marmara conflict and took steps to ease the blockade. None of this, of course, will erase Israel’s bad-guy image in the world.

The growing desperation of the Jews as they lose their few allies; the peace process that continues to sap their strength; the severed alliance with the U.S. are all prophesied—as is the country Israel will turn to in its desperation.

More than 2,500 years ago, the Prophet Hosea wrote about Israel turning to its old enemy Germany for help: “When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah saw his wound, then went Ephraim to the Assyrian, and sent to king Jareb: yet could he not heal you, nor cure you of your wound” (Hosea 5:13).

The context of this passage shows that this is a prophecy for the end time. Avid Trumpet readers will have proved that Ephraim, Judah and Assyria are the biblical names for the nations of Britain, Israel and Germany, respectively. If you haven’t done this yet, you can do so by requesting your free copy of The United States and Britain in Prophecy. This scripture is talking specifically about the current German-Israeli relationship and an impending double-cross.

One of Jesus Christ’s signature prophecies regarding the end of this age was that there would come a point when Jerusalem would be “surrounded by armies”—and that this would be a signal “that the desolation thereof is nigh” (Luke 21:20). Put this together with Hosea 5:13 and other prophecies regarding the downfall of the Jewish state, and it can be determined that these armies are, in fact, European armies, and that their presence around Israel signals an imminent and catastrophic betrayal.

Yet there is good news for the Palestinians, for Germany and for the tiny nation of Israel. As our free booklet Jerusalem in Prophecy details, these developments are all leading up to the fulfillment of the greatest prophecy of all. The passage in Luke 21 concludes in verses 27-28: “And then shall they see the Son of man [Jesus Christ, at His return!] coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.”