Biblical Family—Our Most Noble Institution

Biblical Family—Our Most Noble Institution

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Homosexuality destroys that vision, which is man’s only hope.
From the October 2010 Trumpet Print Edition

In 2008, the California Supreme Court made homosexual “marriages” legal. Millions of Californians voted in the election five months later, and they passed a state constitutional amendment that banned these “marriages.” But this past August, one homosexual federal judge from San Francisco struck down that ban. He said the religious belief that homosexual relationships are inferior to heterosexual relationships harms homosexuals. Believing the Bible is harmful! He also ruled that the Constitution guarantees the right to homosexual “marriage.”

What a false and twisted judgment! The Constitution was founded to a great extent on the law of God and the principles of the Bible. All 13 of the original colonies defined sodomy as a criminal offense!

Only Sodom and Gomorrah ever had a constitution that guaranteed the right to homosexual “marriage”! America’s recent voting record shows that we are close to becoming a modern Sodom and Gomorrah.

Do we have any idea what this says about our spiritual condition? Do we see how dangerously degenerate we have become since the time of our original 13 colonies? Do we realize what this portends for our future?

George Washington said that of all the things that lead to political prosperity, “religion and morality are indispensable supports.” John Adams said that the Constitution was made “only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” This judge, by contrast, hates God’s law. To men like this, even the secular constitutional law carries no authority!

It’s all about lawlessness.

Even religious people—people who say they love Christ—hate the lawof God!

In 2006, when liberals swept into the majority in both houses of Congress, I wrote that American politics had been changed forever. Nancy Pelosi became speaker of the House of Representatives and brought “San Francisco values” to Washington. “San Francisco values will now permeate every major decision made by the American government,” I wrote at that time. “San Francisco is the homosexual capital of America. It is the seat of liberalism, and one of the most morally and spiritually bankrupt cities in the country. Now a leader saturated in San Francisco values and beliefs [Mrs. Pelosi] is one of the most powerful politicians in the land.”

In this environment, a homosexual judge has forced his twisted views on millions of people. When those “San Francisco values” become so powerful, there is no way a nation can stand.

The Bible is abundantly clear about God’s view of homosexuality. Sodomy is a grievous sin. God calls it an abomination! If you understand God’s purpose in creating family, you clearly see how it goes against everything God stands for. Even the way human beings are created teaches you that. (Request our booklet The God Family Vision. All of our literature is free.)

Where are the religious people who will stand up and proclaim the truth of God? Religion today is sick and pitifully weak.

This nation is spiritually bankrupt!

God wants us to stand up and fight for our belief in Him and His law and tell the world His message!

The devil is behind the scenes doing everything he can to destroy any understanding of marriage, because it is a type of marriage to Jesus Christ! (Ephesians 5:22-32). He is trying to destroy any understanding of family, because it is a type of the Family of God. These are God-plane relationships! Marriage was designed to lead the Church into marriage with Christ. The family was created to lead humanity into the Family of God. Satan is twisting these most noble institutions to push people into a black abyss! (Request our free booklets Why Marriage! Soon Obsolete? and God Is a Family.)

Making Them an Example

One of the strongest warnings in the Bible is against homosexuality. So we must bring God into the issue. There are many specific scriptures we could go to, but notice 2 Peter 2:4—in the New Testament: “For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell,” that is, restrained them to this Earth, “and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment ….” Satan and the demons are in chains of darkness, the highest degree of darkness. “And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an example unto those that after should live ungodly” (verse 6).

What happened to Sodom was a warning of how God will respond to sodomy!—fire, nuclear fire, from heaven coming down on your nation! God did not spare the rebellious angels, and He is not going to spare us! These verses tell us that evil spirits are the moving force behind homosexuality.

Jude 7 repeats that same warning.

When I read these scriptures, I realize that even when the best thinkers in the world come up with a worst-case scenario, it’s not even close to the suffering that is about to come on our people. God is going to blot that sin out with nuclear annihilation!

What is happening here tells us a lot about where we are in Bible prophecy.

We must understand that homosexuality is a rotten fruit from a fatally diseased family tree! How abominable does it have to get before Americans truly repent of their ungodly marriages and families?

Those sins have deeply infected the entire Western world.

Many professing Christians in this world talk about loving God, but they ignore what He says and they excuse homosexuals. In some cases they are homosexuals. The Italian press claims that a huge percentage of priests themselves are homosexuals. Meanwhile some of these people who are supposed to represent God perform “marriages” for two homosexuals. The media is always there to take a lot of pictures, and America broadcasts it around the world. Everyone can view our families falling apart, our nation falling apart, our churches falling apart. Everything falls apart when God-plane family falls apart. Satan knows that.

These people know nothing about God and His plan for man. They think they can live however they want. But that is opposite from the good news that Christ came and died to deliver to us!

Right here in the New Testament, God says, I will not spare you!

Israel, anciently, was the only nation that has ever known God, and God wanted it to set an example that other nations could follow. But what if the nations follow the modern nations of Israel—America and Britain—today? They follow them right into exalting sodomy—and reaping destruction!

Repentant homosexuals are going to be forgiven, like everybody else. But we should be deeply alarmed by these dysfunctional, upside-down families producing dysfunctional, upside-down people, and twisting family and sex. We should be very troubled by them trampling so many of God’s laws, and trying to destroy the beautiful vision of the Family of God.

Homosexuals call themselves gays. That is only a pitiful attempt to cover their profound misery. Homosexual lifestyles can never produce happiness! That is because they are trampling all over God’s law of happiness (Proverbs 29:18; John 13:17).

Developing close relationships between parents and children may be the most important job we have yet to do before Christ comes. It is a beautiful thing for parents and children to have a close relationship. What an inspiring, sacred institution! And it leads to something really special: the Family of God!

Golden Warning Lights

Golden Warning Lights

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The news before it’s news

Gold hit a new record high again on Friday: $1,277.50 per ounce. The precious metal has come a long way since Trumpet writer Ron Fraser wrote about it in 2002. Back then the precious metal traded for only just over $300 per ounce.

The benefit of hindsight, some might say: If only you had invested!

But the Trumpet watches the price of gold for other—far more important—reasons. For one, it is a bellwether of the global economic system and especially that of the U.S. dollar. For another, it is an indicator of where future global centers of finance will gravitate.

With that in mind, Ron Fraser’s 2002 article is well worth the read. Here is a snippet (emphasis mine).

Is gold on the comeback track? Traditionally, gold is seen as a hedge against economic hard times. Though it has shown no real sparkle for the past couple of decades, the slide of the dollar and tough times on Wall Street have brightened the immediate future of gold. In fact, as the price for the precious metal picked up in August, some pundits began predicting that, as economic reality dawns in the collective mind of the public, gold prices might head out of orbit. …A crisis of confidence in the market breeds a desire for more control over the source of investment. Possession of gold puts the buyer in direct control of the asset. He’s not at the whim or sleight of hand of investment advisers or crooked ceos.To exacerbate this crisis of confidence, the weakening of the greenback challenges investors’ trust in their own monetary system. USA Today put it this way: “Gold is a direct bet against the monetary system: Gold investors figure an ounce of gold is always worth something, even if the government is in shambles and currency is worthless. For two decades, the powerful U.S. economy kept the dollar strong and gold prices low. But lack of confidence in the financial system and the specter of more terror attacks are pushing gold prices up—and individuals back into the gold market” [Aug. 15, 2002].In 1933, the U.S. government recalled and melted down its gold coins. Forty years later, it went off the gold standard. Thus the dollar’s value today is underpinned merely by the level of global confidence in the U.S. economy. When that confidence drops, so does the dollar—and the flight to gold historically commences. In simplistic terms, it would then seem, under such circumstances, that those countries which have hoarded gold as a hedge against the prospect of leaner times would emerge as economies of strength in the midst of such adversity.Gold is great disaster insurance. Predictions of global economic disaster presently abound even among some high-profile commentators. On this score, it is interesting to note that while a number of countries, including Britain and Canada, were busy liquidating gold assets over the past few years, one country was busy buying them up—Germany.The German central bank holds the second-largest gold reserves in the world. It has not engaged in any form of large-scale selling. Not only this; when 11 of the present 15 EU member nations joined the European Monetary Union (emu), they signed over their individual national holdings of gold to the European Central Bank, located in Frankfurt, Germany! Coincident with this transfer in 1999, Germany bought bullion in a big way.The timing of Germany’s acquisition of huge amounts of gold was intriguing. “[T]he Bundesbank suddenly acquired massive gold reserves, just as the euro was launched in the first quarter of 1999. The gold amassed, both in terms of its physical size and of its value (national valuation basis) is more than enough with which unilaterally to introduce a gold-backed ‘new deutsche mark’—in contrast to the U.S. dollar, which is not backed by gold” (Economic Intelligence Review, March 2000).The point is, whether or not the euro is a success in the long run, Germany sits in the box seat. On the one hand, the euro has substantial gold backing from the receipt of bullion by the European Central Bank, courtesy of the emu nations’ signing over of their reserves. This gives some strength to the euro’s backing. Yet the collective economies of emu nations are really not in the best of shape. “It [emu] was meant to be the cornerstone of the single currency. Instead it is fast becoming a millstone. In the face of global slowdown the eurozone’s stability and growth pact is a misnomer. It is failing to deliver stability and may yet threaten growth” (Dawn Group, Aug. 14).

It is prophetical articles like this that make the Trumpet required reading for anyone who wants to understand their world and the direction it is headed. For more information on what the soaring price of gold means for you, read “Gold Price Warning Signs” and “World to America: We Want Our Gold Back.”

For the news before it’s news, request a free subscription to the Philadelphia Trumpet.

Is Quebec Canada’s California?

Is Quebec Canada’s California?

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A moral constitutional confrontation over euthanasia is rearing its ugly head in the Canadian province.

During 2008 elections, the state of California placed a constitutional amendment proposition on the state’s ballot. Proposition 8, or the California Marriage Protection Act, where “[o]nly marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California,” became law as of Nov. 5, 2008, and made “same-sex marriage” illegal in the state. Just over half of voters approved the measure. On August 4 of this year, San Francisco Federal Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that the measure was unconstitutional.

A similar moral constitutional confrontation is beginning to rear its ugly head in the Canadian province of Quebec.

A substantial majority of medical physicians and citizens of the province strongly favor decriminalizing euthanasia and assisted suicide. Dr. Gaétan Barrette, president of Quebec’s Federation of Medical Specialists, stated that the practice is already taking place. “Eighty-one percent of doctors do see the practice of euthanasia given the circumstances in their practice,” he said. “They hear their patients, they see their patients, asking for it.”

The reality that many physicians in Quebec support the legalization of euthanasia is diametrically in opposition to the Hippocratic Oath which medical doctors traditionally take in order to acknowledge that they will practice medicine ethically. For example, the modern version of the third clause states (emphasis mine throughout):

I will follow that method of treatment which according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patient and will abstain from whatever is harmful or mischievous. I will neither prescribe nor administer a lethal dose of medicine to any patient even if asked nor counsel any such thing nor perform act or omission with direct intent deliberately to end a human life. I will maintain the utmost respect for every human life from fertilization to natural death and reject abortion that deliberately takes a unique human life.

Euthanasia is defined in the Oxford English Reference Dictionary as “the bringing about of a gentle and easy death for a person suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma.”

Even though self-inflicted suicide is no longer considered to be a criminal offense in Canada, Section 14 of Canada’s Criminal Code states that “No person is entitled to consent to have death inflicted on him, and such consent does not affect the criminal responsibility of any person by whom death may be inflicted on the person by whom consent is given.”

Despite the fact that the governments of several Western nations have legalized euthanasia under various guises such as “death with dignity,” “rights of the terminally ill,” “assisted suicide” and such like (the Northern Territory of Australia on May 25, 1995; Oregon, U.S., on Oct. 27, 1997; Belgium in September 2002; Luxembourg in February 2008), the action of “doctor-assisted suicide” is still plainly a criminal act in Canada.

Many of the special interest groups that favor such a move by the Quebec government see it as a clear opportunity to overturn Section 14 of the Criminal Code on the grounds of it being contrary to the terms of the 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedom. If the lobby proves to be successful, these groups will have pulled off a political coup equivalent to Judge Walker’s ruling against California’s legally binding Proposition 8.

By examining the definition of euthanasia we can see that suicide, whether assisted or self-inflicted, is a form of murder, a sin clearly condemned by the Almighty God in the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:1-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21. Request a copy of our free booklet The Ten Commandments for a better understanding of this law by which God seeks to teach us respect and sanctity for life.

Battle for the Indian Ocean

Battle for the Indian Ocean

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Two powers vie for control of one of the globe’s most strategic seaways.

A battle royal is emerging over control and strategic influence in the Indian Ocean. Two emerging powers are vying to fill the void that is inevitably going to be created in the wake of increasing U.S. weakness.

It is inevitable that America’s unsolvable economic woes are going to increasingly hit the bottom line in its military expenditures. No matter how impressive the multibillion-dollar Pentagon budgets sound, one thing is certain—they cannot remain sustainable for long given the rapidly tanking U.S. economy. With the very best of analysts agreeing that the U.S. administration has run out of workable options for resurrecting the nation’s fiscal viability, rising global powers are increasingly cocking a snook at the once dominant superpower.

By way of example, China and the European Union are both ramping up their presence at strategic locations dotted around the ocean that links the vital sea gates of the Strait of Malacca, the Cape of Good Hope and the Persian Gulf—the Indian Ocean.

Take a look at a map of the world. The Indian Ocean connects four of the great raw materials producers of the world—Africa, Australia, South America and the Middle East—with the regions that are the hungriest for those resources in terms of their massive combined industrial needs—China, Japan and the European Union. Increasingly, as we have observed in the past, China is taking possession or gaining a controlling interest in the major sea ports giving strategic access to the major seaways of the world.

Concerning Indian Ocean access, China is at present either strategically based at, leases or has financial and/or infrastructural interests in seaports in the following Indian Ocean ports: the Strait of Malacca, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Haian Island, Woody Island, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Australia, Oman, Saudi Arabia and Tanzania.

It becomes obvious that China is building up a seaport infrastructure to exert control over the seaways across which ships ply the oceans in enacting trade with the greatest single national market on Earth.

The latest of these should sound real warning bells to one of its chief suppliers of raw materials—Australia. A few weeks ago the strategic island nation of Timor revealed that it had signed a deal with China to build a military base on that island, which is situated only a few hundred miles off the northwest coast of Australia.

With Australia’s major population centered in the southeast of the country, its vast northern coastline lies largely unprotected by the nation’s comparatively small naval force. Australia’s security has always been challenged by the problem of how to defend its continental coastline with a force drawn from a population the size of greater Los Angeles spread across a landmass that approximates that of the United States. Australia survived the threat of invasion and occupation by Japan in World War ii only by dint of Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s success in the Pacific campaign. Ever since, the globe’s largest island and smallest continent has depended on its big brother in Washington for security of the Pacific and Indian oceans, thus limiting the Asian threat from the north that is its greatest security challenge.

Now, at a time when China detects the waning of American power and the weakening of Australia, politically, as a result of its present ineffectual coalition government, it is prepared to openly march into one of Australia’s island neighbors—a nation which up to now has depended on Australia for its own tenuous security—and boldly publicize its intention to build a military base in Timor, right on Australia’s doorstep.

The fact that Timor is the sea gate that gives China direct access to Australia’s west coast, the coastline that bounds the largest diamond mines in the world, and some of the world’s largest deposits of coal and iron ore, will not be lost on military strategists. Not only that, a base in Timor consolidates China’s already significant presence at strategic passageways to the Indian Ocean.

Now, consider Germany, the engine of European economic growth, in relation to its Indian Ocean strategy.

“According to retired Vice Adm. Ulrich Weisser, the Indian Ocean holds ‘the key to the world’s seas, particularly the sea routes to the Pacific,’ and is particularly ‘decisive for the future power constellations in Asia, above all between India and China.’ The ‘maritime rivalry’ between those two countries ‘is beginning to be more in the forefront.’ Thanks to the war on pirates, the EU and nato naval forces are establishing their presence in the western Indian Ocean—from the German point of view, a geo-strategic advantage …” (German-Foreign-Policy.com, September 3).

Thus it becomes obvious that Germany under the twin umbrella of the EU and nato, is ramping up its naval presence in the Indian Ocean as a counter to China’s expansion into that region, and as a control on rising Indian power in the region.

This latest acknowledgment of Germany’s effort to establish an increasing presence in the Indian Ocean comes just one year after an earlier comment by the same German naval authority. “[T]he EU is expanding its zone of maritime intervention to include the Seychelles. A former head of the Policy and Planning Staff of the German Defense Ministry points out that the naval forces are operating in a region decisive for determining Asia’s power constellation—the Indian Ocean. According to this retired vice admiral, not only ‘piracy’ will be decided in this region, also the position China will hold in the future” (ibid., Nov. 20, 2009).

The Indian Ocean is a strategic entryway to the world’s sea routes to the Pacific and is of supreme importance to global trade.

In an earlier article in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Nov. 17, 2009, Ulrich Weisser wrote that “Beijing has long since adapted to this situation and has quietly begun to use countermeasures. In the Indian Ocean, China is employing the so-called string of pearls strategy … to secure itself a growing number of harbors and bases around India.”

According to Weisser, “Beijing is constructing ‘an important naval base with extensive reconnaissance facilities’ in Gwadar (Pakistan), using the harbors in Pasni (Pakistan) and in Chittagong (Bangladesh) and is securing a bunker station for itself in Sri Lanka. In Myanmar, China is constructing docks for merchant and warships. This is making the Indian Navy ‘nervous,’ because it has its own hegemonic plans for the Indian Ocean. The ‘maritime rivalry’ between India and China ‘is coming more and more to the fore.’ … EU warships, including those from Germany, are establishing their presence in the western Indian Ocean …. In efforts to contain China, geo-strategists are placing a high priority on Western presence in this ocean—a small foretaste of conflicts to come” (op. cit., Nov. 20, 2009; emphasis mine).

Why is it important to watch developments in the Indian Ocean?

Simply because Bible prophecies foretell that two great powers, a rising northern (European) power and an expansionary Oriental power are destined to clash in a mighty battle for global supremacy in the not-too-distant future. That great battle will be but a forerunner to the mightiest battle of all that will be enjoined on the great plain of Megiddo in the Middle East—the long-awaited final great conflict that will consummate in the return of the Savior of mankind to this world to finally impose the peace between nations that no human government has ever been able to create.

Read our booklets Russia and China in Prophecy and Nahum: An End-Time Prophecy for Germany for more-detailed information on this coming conflict and its outcome.

The Beautiful World Tomorrow

The Beautiful World Tomorrow

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Why the coming utopia will be a feast for the senses!

Breathtaking! That may be the best way to describe the physical, material world after Jesus Christ’s Second Coming to rule this Earth.

Scripture is clear on this fact: The beauty of tomorrow’s world will be resplendent beyond anything we’ve ever seen. Deserts will be fertile. Waste cities will be rebuilt. The temple in Jerusalem will set the ultimate example for such physical opulence: “The glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, the fir tree, the pine tree, and the box together, to beautify the place of my sanctuary; and I will make the place of my feet glorious” (Isaiah 60:13).

Material wealth will be significantly upgraded (verse 17), and humanity will devote much effort to building and planting (Isaiah 65:21-22).

From a visual standpoint, fertile lands and fruit-producing plants are more aesthetically pleasing than barren trees and dead grasslands. A remarkable characteristic of fruit- and vegetable-producing plants is that they blossom with flowers before they produce an edible fruit or vegetable. Why did God create them that way? He did not have to. Obviously, He wanted the physical beauty to match the physical abundance. Imagine the houses and vineyards, the architecture and horticulture!

Imagine how much more beautiful (not just more manageable) the world would be without thorns and weeds and the many struggles man has with the soil—curses that resulted from Adam’s disobedience (Genesis 3:17-18). God will restore the land to the way things were in Eden (Isaiah 51:3).

Since everyone will own property (Micah 4:4), streets will no longer be a place where those who have lost everything will throw down cardboard and sleep amid unmentionable waste. Streets will not breed inhumanity, indecency, depravity or disease; rather they will be safe for all ages (Zechariah 8:4-5). No more ghettos, slums, run-down trashy neighborhoods.

We go to the Feast of Tabernacles each year to celebrate this coming beautiful world. Living for eight days on 10 percent of our income allows us to experience finer material things: from our dress and appearance to our living conditions and dining. At worship services, our men and women strive to make the stage, flowers, music and surrounding environment of a higher quality than at any other time of the year.

Why all this effort for the physical? Is God that concerned with the material world? Do we understand why that beauty will be there?

Those observing the Feast of Tabernacles in this life will be teaching those in the future why their world is so beautiful. They will be teaching people to notice that beauty—to notice the flowers, vines, music and precious stones. To be able to do that, those of us in that position must understand why God puts such an emphasis on that beauty—understand the two great purposes for the beautiful surroundings and quality environment of the World Tomorrow.

A God of Beauty—Not Just Functionality

The beauty of our surroundings and environment is truly important to God. God has spiritual surroundings, but even the material can inspire Him. The angels even shouted for joy when they saw the creation of the Earth.

In the material, physical garden God made for man, He made to grow “every tree that is pleasant to the sight,and good for food …” (Genesis 2:9). God isn’t just into functionality; the trees’ fruits weren’t simply good nutritionally.

Speaking of the beauty of Ambassador College, Chancellor Herbert W. Armstrong wrote in a co-worker letter: “… God Himself set the character standard for the physical properties of His college—and His earthly headquarters where His work is conducted. … They … represent the kind of properties the living Christ has shown us Hewants for His work! Co-workers, we need to realize it is not wrong to have the finer things—if one can afford them. In our case God put these finer properties in our hands at less cost than any cheap, poorly constructed, unsightly properties (giving us the same usable space) could have been purchased for!” (Aug. 28, 1967).

God provided these aesthetically pleasing office environments for less, because God is not just into “usable” space!

In a June 29, 1969, co-worker letter, Mr. Armstrong wrote: “God is not the author of ugliness, but of beauty! Not of unsightliness, or drab, colorless, depressing surroundings, but of magnificence, inspiration, culture! Not the source or giver of cheapness, inferiority, but of quality and character! Not of darkness, but of light and brilliance!”

In that letter, Mr. Armstrong argued against those who “have the very wrong idea that we ought to live in drab, depressing, inferior surroundings” by pointing to God’s brilliant dwelling place in the third heaven. You can read the description of God’s throne room in Revelation 4:2-6—the precious spiritual metals and stones, the superior quality of spiritual “materials” used to create this environment, even the high standards of dress of the angelic beings. The beauty there, Mr. Armstrong said, is so stupendous that “our minds simply cannot picture the glorified splendor of it—probably millions of times more beautiful than anything we mortals have ever seen!” (co-worker letter, op. cit.).

How can we get an idea of God’s environment if we’re always surrounded by filth and squalor? “Is it so strange, then, that God has providentially maneuvered circumstances so as to set His earthly headquarters of His work in an environment that is comparatively nice and beautiful, as things go here on Earth?” (ibid.).

Take the beauty of the auditorium that God used Mr. Armstrong to build, which opened in 1974. Think of the beauty of the auditorium we were privileged to help build today.

What’s the point of that lavish beauty? “The new auditorium is in no way ostentatious, but rather it is plain in elegant simplicity and beauty. It breathes character through its superb quality and meticulous craftsmanship. It is modern, with a certain flair, yet retaining complete dignity; an appearance of being light and airy, yet reflecting stability and strength. The coloring is generally bright, uplifting, inspiring, not dark, gloomy or depressing. I heard one person describing the character of the auditorium as a building, and I said, ‘Why, you’ve just described the very character of God.’ And if it bears that character, I am pleased and I believe God is pleased” (member and co-worker letter, April 28, 1974).

Herbert W. Armstrong taught us that although physical beauty is temporary and not our goal in life, it depicts, can point to, and be connected to godly character.

Our first point then, is physical beauty was created to point man to spiritual beauty—to quality and godly character.

Points to Godly Character

Physical beauty was designed to be an inspiration—a stimulation to achieve the highest of standards in life.

Consider how Adam was not just created to focus on spiritual things. God put him in the Garden of Eden to “dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15), because God knew that his focusing on and improving the physical environment would facilitate his spiritual character development!

“God intended man to work this Earth, improve it, beautify it, give it glorious character—and in so doing to build into his own life the ‘beauty of holiness’ (1 Chronicles 16:29),” Mr. Armstrong wrote in Mystery of the Ages. “God never intended humans to live in poverty, filth and squalor or ugliness. Man should have beautified the Earth, and developed man’s character in so doing. His civilization should have been a ‘heaven on earth.’”

In the World Tomorrow, God’s Family will focus people on the physical surroundings and their part in them. The physical environment will be a teaching tool to point humanity to the spiritual beauty God wants them to have.

In Isaiah 41:18-19, God says of tomorrow’s world: “I will open rivers in high places, and fountains 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 shittah tree, and the myrtle, and the oil tree; I will set in the desert the fir tree, and the pine, and the box tree together.”

Verse 20 tells us why God will do this: “Thatthey 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.” The purpose of all that natural beauty is to have people better understand God’s character and greatness, which is the standard God demands from His creation.

“Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen. This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise” (Isaiah 43:19-21).

The World Tomorrow is not about physical beauty for physical beauty’s sake: It’s about people learning the greatness of God. It is about how the highest standards that He places on His physical creation were meant to inspire man to higher standards.

We go to the Feast of Tabernacles to celebrate this time, and to “learn to fear” God (Deuteronomy 14:23). Physical beauty can help us do that, as it points us to God’s beauty: “O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth” (Psalm 96:9).

There is beauty to God’s holiness. Verse 10 shows us this is about the reign of Jesus Christ. When our beautiful God reigns, that brings beauty! (verses 11-12).

What the Queen of Sheba Saw

A small foretaste of this coming beauty was achieved in Israel under the reign of King Solomon—the builder of the first temple.

Outstanding quality was required of that edifice. David had told his son Solomon the temple was to be “exceeding magnifical” (1 Chronicles 22:5). Even the construction of the ark of the covenant (which would go inside Solomon’s temple) required the same quality of craftsmanship, detail and beauty (see Exodus 25)—all for an item that would be hauled through the desert for many years.

The Queen of Sheba visited Solomon, not only to prove his wisdom, but also to see if the temple he had built was in fact as beautiful as reports said it was.

Sure enough, she was impressed not only by Solomon’s wisdom, but also by his buildings, wealth and a great staff! The Queen of Sheba noticed the temple, the quality of food, the assembling of his crew—how organized they were—the functioning of his officials and even their wardrobe! (2 Chronicles 9:3-4).

The queen told Solomon that not “half of the greatness” was told to her (verses 5-6). There was something special about this place that was hard to describe.

She said, “Happy are thy men, and happy are these thy servants, which stand continually before thee, and hear thy wisdom” (verse 7). She saw that those serving the kingdom and that temple were happy. There was a different vibe here than she was expecting.

The queen even said: “Blessed be the Lord thy God, which delighted in thee to set thee on his throne, to be king for the Lord thy God: because thy God loved Israel, to establish them for ever, therefore made he thee king over them, to do judgment and justice” (verse 8). What a blessing and what praise of the great God that the kingdom’s beauty inspired from this carnal queen! She saw physical character that represented great spiritual character.

Our Environment Reflects Our Character

One thing the queen noticed was the clothing of Solomon’s servants.

Consider even the adorning of the human body as a way to reflect the character of God. God created clothing to adorn the first human beings, to make them more beautiful! But why would He do that? Because He can teach us so much about quality, standards, and character. In fact, how we dress is often a reflection of our inward character.

Solomon, while his thinking was right, understood the connection between physical beauty and spiritual character. “By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through” (Ecclesiastes 10:18).

What does a corroded building represent? What does a run-down house represent? It represents slothfulness and idleness. Those growing in spiritual character “dress and keep” their physical property, because they know the meaning behind it. They want “quality and character” to describe not only their spiritual (unseen) character, but every aspect of their lives—from their clothes to their homes.

A similar principle is stated in Proverbs 24:30-32: “I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction.”

In this passage we see how the physical state reflects the spiritual state! Vineyards and fields in the World Tomorrow will prosper—they will be “pleasant to the sight”—because the character of God will be developed in all people. We will use that physical environment to increase wisdom and understanding.

Conducive to Education and Higher Thinking

“At Ambassador College we strive to create even a physical atmosphere of equality, character and beauty,” Mr. Armstrong wrote in his autobiography. “We find quality and cultural surroundings much more conducive to inspiring education than a bare, colorless, depressing atmosphere” (Volume 2; emphasis mine).

Here is the second purpose: Physical beauty can create an environment conducive to higher thought, learning and spiritual growth.

“Do you think God wants us to live in slums, ghettos, or in drab, depressing, unbeautiful surroundings?” Mr. Armstrong asked in the 1967 letter quoted earlier. “He does not want us to live beyond our means—but He does want us to use our minds actively and alertly, and to work hard and faithfully, and to improve our surroundings—even as we improve our spiritual character.”

There are two components to this: First, a superior environment creates a setting for superior thought and learning; but also, the active involvement in improving those surroundings aids in our learning—both our mental development and, of course, our spiritual character.

God created such beauty for a grand purpose. God knew our minds could be uplifted, inspired and even elevated to greater thought by the character of our physical surroundings.

In the World Tomorrow, education will be heavily emphasized. And good teachers know that environment is vital to the student’s education.

Micah 4:4 says that God will give every man his own fig tree and vine, or property, and “none shall make them afraid.” Slums, ghettos, homeless living on the streets, all breed mistrust and paranoia—fear. The improvement of the physical environment, as Micah wrote, will eliminate that fear. How much more will people be able to learn when they aren’t constantly looking over their shoulder—afraid of getting assaulted or of being mowed down by gunfire?

In Isaiah 35, God prophesies that the “lame man [shall] leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert” (verse 6). God sees a connection between physical renewal and beauty and spiritual renewal and beauty!

Surrounded by Beauty Forever

Even those born as spirit beings into God’s Family will be inspired by the beauty of tomorrow’s world. God’s plan involves His Family being surrounded by magnificent, incomprehensible beauty forever. Revelation 21 describes that holy city to descend from heaven and be where God dwells with His Spirit-born Family. The beauty of God’s dwelling place will have “the glory of God” (verse 11; see also verses 18-19).

We are going to help God “plant the heavens”! (Isaiah 51:16). As awe-inspiring as they are now, they need repair. The universe will soon be our garden, our vineyard, our pasture. It starts, for us physical beings, with how we manage, maintain and improve our physical surroundings—from our dress, to our homes, from our lawns to our work spaces.

Soon God’s Family will teach these principles to the entire world. We will help God create a world of beauty that is aesthetically stimulating and uplifting. People will stop and meditate and muse on God’s wonders in the everyday miracles of creation. Students will learn in an environment of peace and safety—in aesthetically pleasing classrooms. They will learn the character of God. Then God will eventually set up His throne here, with its surroundings, and together we will plant the heavens with inspiring splendor!

Let us, in the meantime, make our own properties and surroundings reflect the character and beauty of the living God. As we do that, we gain practical experience in preparing to assist Jesus Christ when He turns this world into a Garden of Eden!

Putin’s praise for President Obama: An ominous sign

Putin’s praise for President Obama: An ominous sign

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin offered warm praise for U.S. President Barack Obama at a September 6 meeting in Sochi, Russia. The Russian prime minister’s favorable tone marks a significant shift in his stance toward the American leader and provides a sobering indicator of the direction of U.S. foreign policy.

Only last year, Putin harshly berated Obama for Washington’s “adversarial” policies, but now he says the U.S. president is a “deep, profound person” and that his “sincerity is not in question.”

Putin also said that he and President Obama have a “similar perspective on global problems.”

Why such fondness and warm words from the traditionally anti-West Russian leader? Why such a turn-around from a man who, in 2007, compared the administration of George W. Bush to Nazi Germany?

The answer is simple.

President Obama has capitulated to every demand Moscow has made. The Obama administration has scrapped plans for a missile defense shield in Eastern Europe, supported Russian accession to the World Trade Organization (despite Moscow’s unapologetic opposition to core wto principles), undergone a very lopsided U.S.-Russian nuclear arms reduction plan and, most recently, withheld criticism of Russia’s completion of an Iranian nuclear reactor.

Since Obama has kowtowed to all of the Kremlin’s demands, the Russian prime minister no longer perceives Washington as a threat to Russian ascendancy, which is why Putin’s tone toward Obama has warmed.

There are certain leaders that an American president should receive scorn from, and happily so.

Although Putin may be more statesmanlike than such despots as Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, North Korea’s Kim Jong-Il, and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, he is still tyrant and an enemy of the West. Putin’s ideologies are in opposition to Western principles, and praise from him is another in a long list of indications that the U.S.’s superpower days have come to an end. Flatteries like those Putin offered up to Obama will further weaken U.S. resolve, and diminish its ability to recognize threats even when they are glaringly obvious.

“Praise from enemies is suspicious,” Napoleon Bonaparte wrote. The praise Putin has lavished upon Obama is an indicator of deep-rooted flaws in U.S. foreign policy, and should prompt great suspicion. But the core problem isn’t as much with President Obama as it is with the upside-down nation that elected him.

In the January 2010 issue of the Philadelphia Trumpet, executive editor Stephen Flurry wrote:

The reality is that, while this radical administration is helping to accelerate America’s demise as a world power, the United States has been on this course for some time now—long before President Obama moved into the White House.

In the months ahead, fissures in U.S. foreign policy will continue to expand contributing to an eventual collapse of the nation. To understand the inspiring and beautiful hope of what comes after this collapse, read The Wonderful World Tomorrow—What It Will Be Like by Herbert W. Armstrong.