Target: Jerusalem

Locked in a battle over the Holy City
From the January 2011 Trumpet Print Edition

This is not a story you are going to see on the nightly news. Yet it is a huge story of the moment that will soon dominate all news media.

Iran and the Vatican State—representing two great religious movements: pan-Islamism and Roman Catholicism—and the most powerful state in Europe, Germany, are gearing up for a titanic battle for the possession of the “city of peace”—Jerusalem.

Besides those two globally dominant religions claiming entitlement to that city, a third does as well: world Jewry.

This is an age-old battle. In modern times it has waged since World War ii, when Islam, under the Ottoman Turks, lost Jerusalem, and since Kaiser Wilhelm was denied its possession by British Imperial forces occupying Palestine, freeing the city from past Islamic dominance and the prospect of a Teutonic-Roman takeover.

Vatican Vision

The recapture of Jerusalem has burned as a fervent desire in Vatican hearts since the days of the great Crusades, initiated by Pope Urban ii in a.d. 1095.

Since the end of World War ii, and especially since the 1962 Vatican ii congress, Rome has worked toward this goal. Through diplomacy, primarily employing its excellent international intelligence network and by exercising more open dialogue with its wayward Protestant and Orthodox daughters, it has sought to achieve a bridgehead in the drive for the universal conversion of mankind with Jerusalem as its spiritual capital.

At the same time, since the Israelis withdrew from the territories they occupied in 1967, Islam has chosen the path of jihadist war through terrorism to achieve similar goals. Extremist Islamic movements intent on “holy war” have been blowing up airplanes, blowing up embassies, blowing up their enemies by blowing themselves up in their midst, in their efforts to achieve the universal salvation of mankind in the name of Allah and their prophet Mohammad. They take the future seizure of Jerusalem as a given.

Recently the pope upped the ante in his crusade via his coded anti-Islam verbal salvos. He received a swift, violent Muslim response: the slaughter of Roman Catholics celebrating mass in a cathedral in Baghdad.

Check the sequence of events.

First came Pope Benedict’s verbal outburst in his controversial speech at Regensburg, Bavaria, in September 2006. Careful analysis of that speech reveals that Benedict was accusing Islam of being an irrational faith. Indeed, he provoked great wrath from Islamic clerics by quoting a dialogue between a Byzantine Emperor Manuel ii Paleologus and an educated Persian on the subject of Christianity and Islam: “Show me just what Mohammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.”

The stab at Islam was not lost on the religious and political leaders of modern Persia—Iran—nor on their terrorizing lackeys!

Pope Benedict is known for his brilliant intellect. This was a well-thought-out speech, prepared in advance, not off the cuff. The choice of Manuel ii’s statement was both deliberate and calculated—calculated to get a reaction!

And what a reaction it received! Public demonstrations broke out in Turkey, in Iran, in the Islamic communities in Britain and on the European continent. Effigies of the pope were burned in the streets. Al Qaeda called for the pope’s death.

Ever since, Islamic extremists have increasingly targeted Christians—mainly Roman Catholics—in the Middle East, especially within Iran’s western neighbor, Iraq. UN statistics show that, before the Iraq War began in 2003, Baghdad was home to 1.5 million Christians of various sects. Today that number is fewer than 500,000—mostly because of those who have fled religious persecution.

Extraordinary Synod

This past October, the pope called an extraordinary synod of archbishops together in Rome to consider the fate of the church in the Middle East. It was a watershed event in the pope’s program for evangelizing the world. For Benedict, the fulcrum around which his global project revolves is—as it has always been with the Vatican down through the ages—Jerusalem. To this end, the Vatican is ramping up its involvement in the Middle East peace process.

This synod was the platform the Vatican used to further emphasize its coded verbal crusade against Islam.

In his homily at the close of the synod on October 24, Pope Benedict recalled, “During the work of the synod what was often underlined was the need to offer the gospel anew to people who do not know it very well or who have even moved away from the church. What was often evoked was the need for a new evangelization for the Middle East as well.” To Islamic extremists, that statement would have to have been like waving a red flag in front of a bull!

To top it off, Benedict promised that the theme for the next synod in 2012 would be “the new evangelization for the transmission of the Christian faith.” He explained, “At any time and in any place—also in the Middle East today—the church is present and works to welcome each human being ….”

Those are crusading words—words that offer a powerful challenge to any competing religion that has its own missionary zeal to convert the world—which, very obviously, Islam does!

It was no coincidence that, on October 31, just one week later, masked Islamist gunmen burst through the doors of a Catholic cathedral in Baghdad and slaughtered 58 Roman Catholics attending Sunday evening mass. Days later, follow-up attacks occurred in Christian neighborhoods in Iraq.

The pope had his answer to his latest missionary challenge to Islam!

Historic Comparison

Compare these events with the spark that ignited Rome’s earliest crusade to capture Jerusalem. In a.d. 1077, the Seljuk Turks massed in Jerusalem and slaughtered around 3,000 Catholic pilgrims. The attacks continued on Catholics over the next decade and a half. In 1095, Pope Urban ii cried “enough” and challenged the knights of Europe at the Council of Clermont to a crusading battle to seize Jerusalem and wreak revenge on the Islamic hordes: “The Turks and Arabs have attacked our brethren in the East and have conquered the territory of Romania (the Greek Empire) as far as the shore of the Mediterranean and the Hellespont …. They have killed and captured many and have destroyed the churches and devastated the [Roman] Empire …. On this account I … persuade all people of whatever rank, foot soldiers and knights, poor and rich, to carry aid promptly to those Christians ….”

Thus was the First Crusade enkindled.

Nine centuries later, another Islamic horde pushes at the doors of Jerusalem and Rome, threatening to overtake much of Europe by mass migration from the Middle East and to push the tiny nation of Israel into the sea. Hidden among the émigrés are hundreds of extremist Islamists bent on crusading jihad warfare against Christendom. In the Middle East, once again, Islamists slaughter Roman Catholics.

When will the pope move beyond his war of words?

The Vatican may well be able to boast of a billion-plus adherents to the Roman Catholic faith—yet crusades are fought by bloodletting battles. It is to the Vatican’s traditional protector, Germany, that the popes have looked as Rome’s defender since the time of Charlemagne.

Believe it or not, your Bible prophesies that Rome will yet again look to Germany for support in one final crusade to eliminate the threat of Islam and recapture the real prize in the process—Jerusalem.

The Pope and the Baron

In the early Crusades, the Franks were at the forefront. It is interesting to note that a bright, charismatic young Frank, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, Germany’s current defense minister, has become the driving force behind the effort to drastically upgrade the German armed forces. In the process he has made it clear that he seeks the amalgamation of nato with a combined European military force to produce a battle group of a size and with the nuclear power potential to match all comers!

This same young Frankish aristocrat traces his lineage back 900 years to the First Crusade! His family has been dedicated supporters of the popes down through the centuries.

Recently on a balmy Roman autumnal evening, the pope witnessed a stunning performance of Verdi’s Requiem Mass led by a fellow Bavarian, conductor Enoch zu Guttenberg, father of Germany’s minister of defense, at the Paul vi Hall in the Vatican.

Among the audience was an inveterate Vatican watcher, Dr. Robert Moynihan. He was moved by the uniqueness of the event to make an intriguing observation in respect of this particular performance. Referring to “the political overtones of the event,” Moynihan noted that “[t]he concert had perhaps unintentional political overtones because the son of the conductor, right now Germany’s minister of defense, Karl-Theodor Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg, 38, has just become, according to polls, the single most popular politician in Germany. This means the younger Guttenberg may have a real chance, and soon, to become the next chancellor of Germany after Angela Merkel” (Inside the Vatican, Oct. 19, 2010).

Meanwhile, across the Tyrolean border in neighboring Germany, it was as though the whole country was seized with Guttenberg fever. One German newspaper termed it “Guttenberg Hysteria.” Literally every leading German newspaper and magazine has carried a major story on the Guttenbergs since the end of summer. Germans are simply enraptured with the baron and his wife.

But what will be most intriguing to readers of the Trumpet is the following statement made by Dr. Moynihan: “The fact is that this concert for the German pope was conducted by the father of the man who may soon head the German government.

“This at least suggests a strengthened connection between Berlin and Rome, or between the two men, should they come into contact in the future as world leaders” (ibid., emphasis mine throughout).

For decades we have been looking out for two dominant leaders to come to the fore in Europe: one, a powerful political leader from Germany; the other, an influential religious leader from Rome. This power pair is prophesied to dominate the final rise of a European-based empire, a reincarnation of the old Holy Roman Empire.

Watch for further developments that may suddenly propel this duo into the spotlight! The fact that one of the most astute watchers of Vatican politics is prepared to suggest a future linkage between Pope Benedict xvi and fellow Bavarian Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, a Frankish baron of the Holy Roman Empire, is most intriguing indeed.

Another Target of the Vatican

One other dramatic episode emanated from that recent synod in Rome. What was most profound in relation to the “peace” spoken of there was the stance the Vatican took on the tiny, embattled, fighting-for-its-own-survival, Judaic nation of Israel.

Reuters reported that, in their concluding statement, the bishops declared that “Israel cannot use the biblical concept of a Promised Land or a chosen people to justify … territorial claims …” (Oct. 23, 2010). When Greek-Melchite Archbishop Cyrille Salim Bustros was asked about this passage at a news conference, he responded, “We Christians cannot speak about the Promised Land for the Jewish people. There is no longer a chosen people. All men and women of all countries have become the chosen people. The concept of the Promised Land cannot be used as a base for the justification of the return of Jews to Israel …. The justification of Israel’s occupation of the land of Palestine cannot be based on sacred scriptures.”

In the synod’s concluding message, the Vatican reiterated a call it has made before: that Jerusalem come to have a special status that “respects its particular character” as a city sacred not only to Jews, but also to Christians and Muslims. Though it briefly acknowledged the Jews’ need to enjoy peace within internationally recognized borders, the document spent far more words on the Palestinians’ plight. It bemoaned their “suffering the consequences of the Israeli occupation: the lack of freedom of movement, the wall of separation and the military checkpoints, the political prisoners, the demolition of homes, the disturbance of socio-economic life and the thousands of refugees.” The imbalance of the Vatican’s perspective on the situation of Jerusalem, the Jews and Palestinians was obvious.

Peel aside the sophistry, and the truth is plain: The Vatican is clearly biased against the Jews and Israel’s birthright claim to the city of Jerusalem and the biblical land of Israel, which were gifted by God to the nation of Israel in perpetuity. This, from a religion that claims to speak for all Christendom—indeed, claiming, albeit falsely, that its own religious roots lie in the birth of the land of Israel.

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch said it all in a recent speech at an Anti-Defamation League dinner, the text of which was printed in Commentary magazine under the headline, “The Aim Is to Make Israel a Pariah”: “Now the war has entered a new phase. This is the soft war that seeks to isolate Israel by delegitimizing it. The battleground is everywhere: the media … multinational organizations … ngos. In this war, the aim is to make Israel a pariah.

“The result is the curious situation we have today: Israel becomes increasingly ostracized, while Iran—a nation that has made no secret of wishing Israel’s destruction—pursues nuclear weapons loudly, proudly, and without apparent fear of rebuke.”

War Against the Jews

Murdoch, who received an award from Pope John Paul ii for his contributions to the media, made no reference to the Vatican’s stance on the nation of Israel, his statement coming before this latest startling declaration of the Vatican Synod on the Church in the Middle East.

But he did condemn the European Union for its blatant bias against Israel, a bias that is feeding the rising anti-Zionism across the Continent: “We saw a recent outbreak when a European commissioner trade minister declared that peace in the Middle East is impossible because of the Jewish lobby in America. Here’s how he put it: ‘There is indeed a belief—it’s difficult to describe it otherwise—among most Jews that they are right. And it’s not so much whether these are religious Jews or not. Lay Jews also share the same belief that they are right. So it is not easy to have, even with moderate Jews, a rational discussion about what is actually happening in the Middle East.’

“This minister did not suggest the problem was any specific Israeli policy. The problem, as he defined it, is the nature of the Jews.”

This is the same argument that former German central banker and politician Thilo Sarrazin makes in his bestselling book Germany Does Away With Itself to underpin his thesis that Jews are unsuitable for residence in Germany.

Murdoch also hit out at the anti-Zionism prevalent in Islamic communities in Europe, and the degree of tolerance that Islamic-inspired anti-Zionist attacks are given by European authorities: “In Europe today, some of the most egregious attacks on Jewish people, Jewish symbols and Jewish houses of worship have come from the Muslim population.

“Unfortunately, far from making clear that such behavior will not be tolerated, too often the official response [suggests] Jews and Israel were partly to blame themselves.

“When Europe’s political leaders do not stand up to the thugs, they lend credence to the idea that Israel is the source of all the world’s problems—and they guarantee more ugliness. If that is not anti-Semitism, I don’t know what is.

“The world of 2010 is not the world of the 1930s. The threats Jews face today are different. But these threats are real. These threats are soaked in an ugly language familiar to anyone old enough to remember World Warii. And these threats cannot be addressed until we see them for what they are: part of an ongoing war against the Jews.”

The reality is that this “war against the Jews” is just one part of an insidiously spreading anti-Semitic mindset—one that extends out against the Anglo-Saxons. For unbeknown to the greater part of society is the fact that the Promised Land was gifted to the nations of Israel—plural! For proof of just who these nations are, request our eye-opening book The United States and Britain in Prophecy.

The Promised Land

The Eternal Creator of humankind promised the territory from the Nile River to the Euphrates to the descendants of Abraham, through his son Isaac and, in turn, the descendants of Jacob (Genesis 15:18-21; 28:13; Exodus 23:31; Deuteronomy 1:8). These are the true Israelites. Believe it or not, they include 11 other nations in addition to the Jewish people.

Since the Scripture cannot be broken (John 10:35)—despite what Archbishop Cyrille Salim Bustros falsely maintains—and the Eternal God never changes (Malachi 3:6), His promise of the perpetual inheritance of that piece of Middle Eastern real estate by Israel is binding to this day and beyond.

It is certainly not conditional on the utterances of the Vatican. In fact, Israel is least accountable to that particular Babylonish institution, of all institutions.

Those who seek to refute the claim on the Promised Land by Israel will one day have to swallow their own words. Jerusalem is destined to be the capital of a new society, a whole new civilization to be established by the very King of Salem, the King of kings, Jesus Christ Himself (Hebrews 7:2; 1 Timothy 6:15). It will remain the capital of that globe-girdling kingdom for over a thousand years. Then it will become the very site of the eternal throne of Almighty God Himself! (Revelation 21:1-3).

Those who falsely claim that “there is no longer a chosen people” are refuted by Scripture! The very “peculiar people” (1 Peter 2:9) chosen by God to do so will soon claim their rightful inheritance of the Promised Land—and, not long after, the whole world will learn to truly rejoice in the reality of that inheritance!

It’s time to more closely watch Iran as it continues to aggressively push its jihadist foreign-policy agenda against Rome, against a German-led Europe and against the embattled Judaic nation of Israel.

It’s time to more closely watch Germany’s growing exertion of its national power, especially in militaristic terms, and to watch for its coming blitzkrieg response to this push from the biblical “king of the south,” Iran!

And it’s time to watch, ever more closely, the city of Jerusalem. This “city of peace” has endured centuries of warfare, and yet again it faces being torn apart by two great competing religions in a great new crusade for its possession, propelled by the resurrected power of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.

But more, as you watch, watch in hope for what is prophesied to follow: the establishment of a new city of Jerusalem that will last for over a thousand years—then the ultimate vision of hope, the new Jerusalem! That city will be one of universal peace, the future capital of the universe! It will last forever, on into an eternal future of scintillating peace, joy and happiness under the supreme rule of the eternal Father of all mankind!

Longing to Live

Longing to Live

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Life doesn’t last forever. But our quest to extend it has raised some vital questions—and obscured some others.
From the February 2011 Trumpet Print Edition

The pain is killing his wife, and John is knotted up with grief over it.

“One of the greatest difficulties of any human being I think is to watch another who you love suffer,” he says.

His wife isn’t sick. John is the one with cancer. He’s the one with constricted breathing, erratic sleep, diarrhea, nausea, exhaustion. He’s the one in pain. Incessant, almost incomprehensible pain. He takes just enough medication to manage the misery without befogging his mind or building his body’s resistance to the treatment more than necessary.

But all the while, his wife is right there waiting on him, feeding him, cleaning him, praying with him, weeping with him. As strong and as loyal as she is, John can see the suffering consuming her life along with his own.

“In some ways this absolutely rips and tears at the very chords of your marriage,” John says. “The marriage is a team. When one is sick, you have more trials—and only half the team. It devastates you.”

The questions and trials surrounding dying and death are among the most excruciating that human beings face. For both the victims and their families.

“Nobody wants to die. And nobody wants to die badly,” says Judith Nelson.

Nelson has wrestled death firsthand like few people. She specializes in end-of-life care. A doctor in the intensive care unit of one of America’s most highly regarded hospitals, she regularly serves people on the edge of life, grappling with the unknown beyond.

Nelson recently appeared in a heart-rending Frontline episode called “Facing Death,” about doctors and families at New York City’s Mount Sinai Medical Center struggling with the raw, painful decisions involved in treating terminal patients.

How much have you thought about it? There is something remarkable, even noble, in this near-universal quality among people and all living things. We want to preserve the spark of life we possess.

Inhabiting perishable bodies, living in an ephemeral world, we pretend life is permanent. Then, rude reality intrudes. Our bodies age and fail. Our friends pass away. Our families suffer loss. And still we are loath to face it. Even in intensive care, where it hangs in the air, the words die,dying and death are almost never uttered.

Dr. Nelson’s profession peddles hope. To patients stricken with fatal conditions, it offers an ever growing menu of treatments. A chance of escaping the inescapable.

At the same time, it also creates some gut-wrenching conundrums, and raises questions that are deeply important for each one of us to consider.

A “Fiction” in Modern Medicine

Medicinal and therapeutic innovation expands the decision-making capacity and responsibility for people facing death. “[T]here’s almost always something else that we can do to put off the inevitable—another course of chemotherapy, a little bit more radiation,” says David Muller, dean of medical education at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. “What if we got one more cat scan? What if we explored this person’s belly one more time? There’s always the nagging concern in the back of your mind, ‘Have I really left no stone unturned?’”

In addition to the treatments available, machinery makes it possible to keep a body’s vital functions operating—heart beating, blood flowing, lungs pumping—almost indefinitely.

The gritty drive to use any means necessary to preserve life is understandable—some would even say heroic. But these advancements also have a downside. While offering promise to sick patients, the range of possible treatments also creates a formidable set of expectations for modern medicine to live up to. And in most cases, it is simply not equal to the task.

“[T]he availability of the therapies has created this fiction that we can orchestrate this one way or the other, when the truth of it is that, for all of this magnificent technology, the underlying illness and the medical condition of the patient are far and away the most important factors in determining the outcome,” Dr. Nelson says. “But it feels like, when you have the technology available, that your decisions to use or not use it are like the decisions to allow life or not allow life. And that’s not a position that any of us want to be in.”

This moral dilemma is a striking by-product of contemporary health care. Nobody wants to die. Death is an intimidating enemy; it has never been easy to confront. But accepting the reality of a body succumbing to a fatal disease becomes more difficult when accompanied by the notion—however false—that it was a choice. I choose death. Do not resuscitate.

Given that choice, fewer and fewer take it. Per person, Americans spend more on health care than any other people worldwide; the bill totaled $2.5 trillion in 2009. More Americans now die in hospitals than anywhere else, often after significant medical intervention. According to Dr. Nelson, there are about 100,000 critical patients on artificial respirators at any given moment in America. Their treatments generate a bill of $20 billion to $25 billion per year. But there is another, more intangible cost.

“[T]hese are the broken survivors of intensive care,” Nelson says. “And the better intensive care gets, the more of these broken survivors we have.”

“We Have His Body”

One of these broken survivors is Ryan. He is 21 years old and has been in an “eyes-open coma” for over a year after receiving a horrendous beating. He must be fed through a tube attached to his stomach. He has received nine surgeries, and his heart stopped beating at least twice. Doctors estimate he has a 10 to 20 percent chance of waking up, probably into “basic consciousness, closer to being an infant than an adult.” A year of Ryan’s medical care costs half a million dollars.

Ryan is tended to around the clock by his father. Ken quit his job so he could remain with his son, brushing his teeth, bathing him, administering his medications (50 of them), changing his catheter, stretching his limbs.

Concerned family and friends have formed a prayer group for Ryan. But Ken no longer believes in prayer. “What kind of God would allow this to happen?” he asks. “What kind of God wouldn’t correct it?”

A Washington Post article about these two shattered lives quotes Ken testifying at a court hearing for Austin, the 19-year-old boy who kicked his son in the head in a parking lot fight and is now serving time for malicious assault. “My fantasy is to have two minutes in a locked room with a baseball bat,” Ken says ominously. Austin, he promises, “won’t come out in any worse condition than my son.”

Then he relays a bitter fact: that, though losing a child is said to be life’s worst experience, this is worse. “We have his body,” he says, “but we don’t have his mind” (Dec. 2, 2010).

Ken and his family ask themselves whether it would have been better for Ryan if he had died the night he was beaten. You may think you know the answer. But had it been your son, and had you been offered the hope—however slim—that with the right treatment, he could still have a future, would you have decided differently?

Putting Off the Big Questions

At the heart of the issue is a painful paradox.

Doctors are applying the utmost of their intellectual and creative powers to pursue the fundamentally benevolent goal of giving individuals a valuable, albeit fleeting gift: more years of precious life. More years to deepen relationships, to create memories, to share wisdom, to dare exploits, to fulfill dreams.

At the same time, they recognize that it is impossible to indefinitely defy human mortality. They have no power to heal. And in many cases, their treatments actually harm patients, diminishing quality of life and hastening death. Thus they, along with patients and their families, confront agonizing choices about how much therapy to administer, treading uncertain ground, guided by probabilities and feelings.

“There’s no question that the technology has saved, in a meaningful way, hundreds of thousands, if not millions of lives,” Dr. Muller says. By “lives,” of course, he is referring to years, since the most successful treatment can only put off the date of one’s death. He continues, “But with those advances and all of that progress comes an ultimate tradeoff. And the toll is sometimes devastating on the patients themselves, on their family, their loved ones, and on the health care system.”

Three in four Americans say they believe in life after death. But just what that might be remains shrouded in mystery for most people. They simply have never closely examined the subject. Maybe they’re afraid to.

Modern medical advances have clearly given years—of varying degrees of quality—to many people. At the same time, these advances have enabled us to put off the fundamental questions that our mortality raises. With death looming, we become preoccupied with essentially material concerns—options, treatments, schedules, odds. For so many, the last days of life are spent not in peace, but in warfare, armed only with faith in the frail weapons of science. We pour what little life we have into fighting the enemy that will end it. And ultimately, that “rage against the dying of the light” always ends in defeat.

Modern medicine promises a kind of immortality. It suggests that our energies are best put toward employing every means to extend physical existence as long as possible. If we are not careful, this “fiction,” as Dr. Nelson termed it, can preempt the important spiritual concerns that should dominate our thinking, even our decision-making, as we contemplate the inescapability of death.

At Peace With Death

Harry has a tumor in his left lung. Nine months ago, doctors said he would live another six months to a year. He is gradually adapting to new inconveniences and discomforts: soreness that forces him to sleep only on his right side; a couple of hours each day sucking oxygen from a machine; upset stomach; numbness and unresponsiveness in his left foot.

Doctors have tried to sell him on getting radiation and chemotherapy treatments, but he has refused. “I’m 80 years old, and I didn’t want to spend all that time in the hospital,” he says with a smile. He has chosen instead to address his condition through a restricted diet, some simple natural treatments—and faith.

“I’ve placed it in God’s hands. Whether I live or die, He can control that,” Harry says. “I want to do everything I can that’s logical and makes sense to help myself, and leave the rest to Him.”

Harry wants to live. But he is frank, clear-headed and unafraid about death. “If God says it’s time to go, okay. I do feel I’m learning some lessons from this trial which are good for me—and I’m thankful for that.” He is focused less on his physical health than on his spiritual health.

John has taken the same approach, but the advanced state of his cancer makes it more difficult. “I wish I would have known how fatiguing this would be,” he says, “so that I would have prepared myself spiritually more for it in advance.”

Even with faith in God, facing death can be exceedingly difficult, particularly when ongoing pain is involved. “It drives you beyond what you think you can possibly stand, in every way—mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally, financially,” John says. “These things wreak havoc on your emotions, your motivation, your desire to live.”

Even Jesus Christ, who was perfect in faith, struggled mightily as He faced His own death, praying with penetrating emotion that He could avoid the suffering He faced (read Matthew 26:36-44 and Luke 22:41-44).

Still, though, there is a serenity that comes from saying, as Jesus did, “Nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”

And there is tremendous peace in recognizing and understanding the value of the spiritual over and above the physical. What, after all, is the real purpose for life? Using every possible means to stretch it for a few more years does nothing to answer that fundamental question.

And what happens after death?

Real Hope

“If in this lifeonly we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable,” wrote the Apostle Paul.

This was a man who faced death with confidence. “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand,” he wrote. “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”

Paul longed to live, just as we all do. But what he alluded to was not an empty hope of extending his physical life—but the true hope expounded in Scripture.

It is a hope founded in understanding God’s wonderful purpose in creating man mortal, subjecting us to the trials of the flesh—an experience that, in order to fulfill that purpose, He even put His only begotten Son through (e.g. Hebrews 2:9).

Many people believe that men possess immortal souls, and that when they die, depending on their choices in life, they go to either heaven or hell. The Bible is clear, however, that souls are not immortal—they can die (e.g. Matthew 10:28; Ezekiel 18:4, 20; Romans 6:23). Scripture says that when we die, our “thoughts perish” and that “the dead know not anything” (Psalm 146:3-4; Ecclesiastes 9:5; see also Psalms 6:5; 115:17). Jesus Christ Himself said that “no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven” (John 3:13).

The true hope of Scripture is not about our possessing an “immortal soul,” or about the “miracles” of medical intervention. It is the promise of resurrection. It is the promise that, “as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive”—and that ultimately, “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (1 Corinthians 15:22, 26). Human death means nothing to God except a temporary sleep (verses 51-55), because God can resurrect humans from the grave!

There is a reason—a wonderful, inspiring reason—that something within us clings to life. A reason we crave permanence, even as our physical existence passes like a shadow. We were, in fact, created to inherit eternity.

How much have you thought about it?

Winston Churchill—The Watchman

Winston Churchill—The Watchman

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America and Britain are in grave danger today because most of our watchmen are blind. Here’s why.
From the February 2011 Trumpet Print Edition

In 1932, there were 2 million members in the Nazi Party; 400,000 men belonged to Hitler’s semi-military “storm troopers.” Three of the Nazis’ most strident demands were: 1) They wanted an end to the Versailles Treaty—a treaty to make the Germans pay for the damage they caused by starting World War i! 2) They wanted to rearm—something they were not allowed to do after World War i. 3) They demanded that German Jews be removed from all walks of German life.

This last demand should have alerted the world to where Germany’s rearmament would lead! Any good watchman should have understood and warned the people. Actually, there was only one prominent leader who was alarmed by what was happening in Germany. He spoke out publicly against it. That man was Winston Churchill. He wanted to see Britain strengthen its weak military. Yet Britain’s foreign secretary, Sir John Simon, was working feverishly to get the British government to rapidly and comprehensively disarm! His appeal gained strong and enthusiastic support. Other members of Parliament were also working to achieve that goal.

Winston Churchill was a watchman crying in the wilderness.

How could so many of our leaders in the United States and Britain—almost all of them—have been so weak in dealing with Hitler? Why was the British Parliament thinking of disarming as Germany rapidly rearmed?

Across the Atlantic, America was assuming a similarly passive posture. We might have remained that way throughout World War ii if Japan hadn’t directly provoked us at Pearl Harbor. As Edward R. Murrow said, “America didn’t enter into the war, they were bombed into it.”

Our leaders lacked the watchman quality of a strong leader like Churchill. He faced reality and spoke the truth in a dangerous world. Most leaders in the U.S. and UK lived in a weak world of illusion.

Martin Gilbert wrote the greatest biography ever of this great leader, Winston S. Churchill. In Volume 5, The Prophet of Truth, he wrote, “Into Europe’s ‘highly complicated and electrical situations,’ Churchill declared, ‘our well-meaning but thoughtless and reckless pacifists expect us to plunge with sweeping gestures, encouraged by long-distance halloos from the United States’” (emphasis mine throughout).

The U.S. was even more pacifist than Britain. Both nations made horrendous misjudgments about Hitler. We should be embarrassed even today by our shameful fear and weakness against one of the worst tyrants ever.

The big question is, did we learn anything from this towering mistake that almost cost us our freedom? Did Churchill’s example teach us why we made such colossal misjudgments? The answer is no to both questions.

Those who fail to learn from history are destined to repeat its catastrophes! Today a nuclear first strike is apt to win the next major war. So our margin for error is much smaller. That means we would have to stop a Hitler-type movement before it gained power.

Never was there a greater need for political and media watchmen!

We can’t afford the pacifist attitude we had before World War ii and survive nationally. Yet our pacifist attitude today is far worse than it was then. And China, Russia and other nations are exploiting that weakness.

One of Winston Churchill’s greatest biographers, William Manchester, said that Churchill “saved Western civilization” in World War ii—not just Britain and Europe.

How important is it that we learn from that civilization-saving history?

Henry Steele Commager wrote an introduction to Winston Churchill’s biography of his ancestor, Marlborough. In it Mr. Commager wrote, “… Churchill’s reading of history reinforced his early education to exalt the heroic virtues. He was Roman rather than Greek, and as he admired Roman accomplishments in law, government, empire, so he rejoiced in Roman virtues of order, justice, fortitude, resoluteness, magnanimity. These were British virtues too, and, because he was the very symbol of John Bull, Churchillian. He cherished, as a law of history, the principle that a people who flout these virtues is doomed to decay and dissolution, and that a people who respect them will prosper and survive.”

Learning lessons from great leaders of the past is critical to our national well-being. If we flout those heroic virtues of history, our nations aredoomed to decay and dissolution.” But if we respect and emulate them, we “will prosper and survive.”

That is “a law of history.” Our national survival is at stake!

The Lessons of History

Commager wrote, “[Churchill] accepted, instinctively, the attitude toward history which that century took for granted: that history, in the words of Bolingbroke, was philosophy teaching by examples. What is more, he was quite ready to stand there and point to the examples. Indeed we can say of Churchill what he himself wrote of Rosebery, that ‘the past stood ever at his elbow and was the counselor upon whom he most relied. He seemed to be attended by learning and history, and to carry into current events an air of ancient majesty.’

“Nowhere does this appear more simply than in the ‘Grand Theme’ which Churchill imposed upon his history of The Second World War: ‘In War: Resolution; In Defeat: Defiance; In Victory: Magnanimity; In Peace: Good Will.’ He read history as a stupendous moral scripture, and for him the writing was, if not divinely inspired, at least authoritative. More, it was straightforward and simple. History was a struggle between the forces of right or wrong, freedom and tyranny, the future and the past. By great good fortune Churchill’s own people—‘this island race,’ as he called them—were on the side of right, progress and enlightenment; by great good fortune, too, it was given to him to buckle these virtues onto him as armor in the struggle for a righteous cause.

“If history was philosophy teaching by examples, what lessons did it teach? …

“First, history was not just the pursuit of idle hours but was, itself, philosophy and, rightly read, furnished lessons which statesmen could ponder and apply.

“Second, history was both memory and prophecy. It provided the counsel and the solace of the long view both to the past and to the future. The contemplation of the ages which mankind had somehow endured, and survived, infused the student with patience, with humility, and with courage; the prospect of a posterity which, a thousand years hence, might pronounce the verdict that one generation had given to a nation ‘its finest hour’ encouraged resoluteness and hope, and strengthened the ability to confront crises that seemed insurmountable.

“Third, history followed great cycles: The same themes recurred, again and again, the same drama was played out, from age to age; and as men had somehow survived the vicissitudes of the past there was ground to hope that they might survive those of the present and the future. Thus four times Britain had fought to rescue Europe from the grip of a tyrant—Louis xiv, Napoleon, Kaiser William, and Hitler—and four times Britain had succeeded in saving Europe and, with it, the cause of liberty and justice. Here was a recurring pattern which augured well for the future of ‘this island race,’ and of mankind, for, as Churchill saw it, the welfare of mankind was inextricably intertwined with that of the English-speaking peoples.

“Fourth, history bore witness to the vital importance of national character, for character was as important to a people as to an individual, and every nation must be alert to defend and preserve it. That each nation had a special character Churchill did not doubt, and as he contemplated the long arch of centuries he was led to a fifth conclusion, that it was, above all, the English character which had lighted up the corridors of time, flickering now and then but mostly pure and clear and even luminous—the English character and that of England’s daughter nations around the globe.” Today, character isn’t even important enough to raise as a political issue in Britain and America!

Commager continued, “From all this flowed a sixth lesson, that the test of greatness was politics and war. …

“‘Battles,’ he wrote in the Marlborough, ‘are the principal milestones in secular history. … All great struggles of history have been won by superior will power wresting victory in the teeth of odds.’ [Our will power has been broken (Leviticus 26:19).] And elsewhere he concluded flatly that ‘The story of the human race is war.’ Like those statesmen he most admired, Marlborough, Chatham, Wolfe, Clive, Washington, Lee, he was himself a war leader; alone of great war leaders he was a great war historian.

“History—not least the history of war—taught a seventh lesson, and taught it not only to Churchill but through him: the vital importance of leadership”—another disastrous failure in Britain and America (Isaiah 3:1-4).

Education Has Failed Us

Today we hear many academic voices telling people that learning history is of little or no value. This is an extremely dangerous trend that may be too entrenched to correct.

This educational plague is rampant among the American and British peoples. And it seems that very few of our leaders understand what a colossal disaster it is!

Syndicated columnist George Will wrote this in his Dec. 23, 2001, column: “When history is taught at all nowadays, often it is taught as the unfolding of inevitabilities—of vast, impersonal forces. The role of contingency in history is disparaged, so students are inoculated against theundemocraticnotion that history can be turned in its course by great individuals” (Times Union).

He then implied that America probably would not have been born without the bravery and leadership of George Washington. We came dangerously close to losing the Revolutionary War.

Mr. Will wrote, “Two hundred twenty-five Christmases ago, history was being made around here. And recently Lynne Cheney … came here to advocate teaching history more extensively and more wisely than we currently do. …

“Cheney recalled a 1999 survey of college seniors at 55 elite colleges, from Princeton to Stanford, which revealed that only 22 percent knew that the words ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people’ are from the Gettysburg Address. Forty percent could not place the Civil War in the second half of the 19th century. … Twenty-five percent thought the pilgrims signed the Magna Carta on the Mayflower. … To the question of who commanded American forces at Yorktown, the most frequent answer was Ulysses S. Grant.

“Such questions should not be difficult for high school seniors. But at the time of the survey, none of the 55 colleges and universities required a course in American history. And students could graduate from 78 percent of them without taking any history course” (ibid.).

What a disturbing survey! Most of the students78 percentdidn’t have to take even one history course!

Numerous authorities credit Winston Churchill with saving Western civilization. Churchill could not have accomplished that unparalled feat unless he had been steeped in history. It would have been impossible for him to become one of the greatest political watchmen ever without his profound understanding of history.

In spite of this recent World War ii history, our universities in America and Britain hardly require any courses in history. How important is a deep understanding of history? Massive fruits from Churchill’s life in World War ii loudly proclaim the importance of learning history.

How deplorable and dangerously lacking is much of our education today! These institutional leaders deserve the same contempt for not teaching history that most of them display toward teaching history.

It is inexcusable and deadly dangerous!

Educators are often out of touch with reality. And our people will pay the bloody price!

Educational institutions have produced most of our political and media watchmen today. The fruits are horrendously bad.

Most of these watchmen are ignorant of history and deeply confused in a world whose number one problem is that of human survival.

When are we going to wake up?

History Is Prophecy

Churchill made some astounding prophecies before and during World War ii. Many of them came true because of his profound understanding of history. He believed that history is prophecy.

He prophesied what Germany would do in World War ii because he understood German history so well. The Germans simply repeated what they had done so often in the past. For example, they not only started World War ii, they also started World War i! And many other wars before that!

How often have we heard that “history repeats itself”? It does—time and time again.

The Bible contains many prophetic books, including what are classified as the “major” and “minor” prophets. There also are “former prophets” in the Bible—comprised of Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Kings and 1 and 2 Samuel. These books are mostly about the history of Israel, but they are called former prophets for a reason: They were written by prophets and are filled with end-time prophecy. If we live the same lifestyles our forefathers did, we will attain virtually the same results—good or bad. History prophesies the fate of nations, whether they will thrive or collapse!

If we have a deep understanding of history, it’s much easier for us to learn Bible prophecy.

God always sends His watchman to warn Israel (that includes America and Britain) of imminent disasters. That is a historical fact.

Those who heed and support that watchman are protected from the catastrophes. They are also given majestic leadership roles in the imminent wonderful World Tomorrow. (Request our free booklet The Wonderful World Tomorrow—What It Will Be Like.)

Murrow and Churchill

Here is what Joseph E. Persico wrote in his book titled Edward R. Murrow: “Murrow freely confessed that Churchill had been his hero. His own language was influenced by Churchill, not so much the rolling and grandiloquent sonorities, but the other Churchill, the one who spoke in simple, powerful Anglo-Saxon imagery that sounded like the Bible in modern dress. He saw Churchill as ‘a gallant gambler, an aristocrat, an historian, and 18th-century cavalry officer … and an indestructible juvenile …. He is, I think, the most considerable man to walk the stage of world history in 50 years.’”

The “historian” Churchill was Murrow’s hero.

During World War ii, Murrow, a media watchman, became acquainted with Churchill in a most unusual way.

“[Murrow] was not bothered at being out of doors in the middle of an air raid. He had thought through that risk. He never had gone into an air-raid shelter, except to get a story. ‘Once you start going into shelters,’ he told Larry Le Sueur, ‘you lose your nerve.’ Following his example, Janet did not go into shelters either, though there was one in the mews behind their apartment building. …

“For six nights, Ed stood on the rooftop. The German bombers never failed him. They came every night. He captured on recordings the unearthly howl of a bomb as its fins cut the air and the crumpling sound it made when it exploded. He caught the cursing of an antiaircraft battery as the crew worked its gun. He submitted his test records to the Air Ministry, which promptly lost them.

“He went back up to the rooftop on Portland Place and started over. The Air Ministry heard this batch of recordings and concluded that he had not betrayed any useful information. But it turned him down anyway. Who could tell what a man might blurt out with a bomb falling on him? At this point Murrow abandoned bureaucratic channels and got word to the prime minister. The journalist in Winston Churchill understood instantly what Murrow was trying to achieve. Furthermore, Churchill wanted America to hear what London was going through. Pressure from the top down worked, as it usually does, and Murrow at last received permission to broadcast live during an actual raid” (ibid.).

“The [watchman] journalist in Winston Churchill understood instantly what Murrow was trying to achieve,” Persico wrote. Murrow’s watchman ability caused him to want the world to see and be warned by what was happening between Germany and Britain—and learn from that history!

Murrow did his job supremely well. But did we learn what he wanted us to from that disaster?

No, we did not!

Here is what A.M. Sperber wrote in her book Murrow: His Life and Times: “In words that were to become classic, the poet MacLeish paid tribute not only to Murrow but to radio itself, to the qualitative change in mass perception brought about by the mass medium: ‘You burned the city of London in our houses and we felt the flames that burned it. You laid the dead of London at our doors and we knew that the dead were our dead … were mankind’s dead … without rhetoric, without dramatics, without more emotion than needed be … you have destroyed … the superstition that what is done beyond 3,000 miles of water is not really done at all.’”

How does that compare with what you see in most journalism today? Are we learning these powerful lessons today in our universities where our journalists are taught? To our great shame, we are not! And that portends dreadful days ahead for America and Britain!

Alexander Kendrick wrote this in his book Prime Time: “Murrow after the war characterized Churchill as ‘the most remarkable’ man of the age. ‘In some ways and in some moods, he creates the impression of a precocious and indestructible juvenile. At other times Mr. Churchill appears to be a combination of an early 18th-century cavalry officer and a brilliant student of history ….”

Again, many authorities say Churchill saved Western civilization. He did so in large part because he was a “brilliant student of history.”

Still, many dangerously ignorant university leaders think this history isn’t even worth teaching!

Any real watchman ought to see that these educational institutions are leading our countries into a deep sleep about what is happening in this dangerous world. That can only lead to a major catastrophe!

Sperber also wrote, “Murrow, no admirer of the rhetoric of policies of postwar Secretary of State James Byrnes, wrote an English friend that the situation in New York and Washington filled him with foreboding: ‘It isn’t so much that the men who are conducting our affairs are vicious or irresponsible; they simply fail to appreciate the importance of issues that they are deciding in an altogether offhand manner. Their knowledge of the dynamics of history is altogether inadequate, and I am fearful lest my country in the near future become what Professor [R.H.] Tawney described as “merely a great straggling island off the coast of Kamchatka”‘” (op. cit.).

Those words utterly condemn our leadership today. Our leaders have little interest if any in the “dynamics of history.” And Edward R. Murrow was seriously pessimistic about our future!

What he predicted has come to pass!

Blind Watchmen

“The Lord God which gathereth the outcasts of Israel saith, Yet will I gather others to him, beside those that are gathered unto him” (Isaiah 56:8). This is referring to the end time, after the nations of Israel have been cast out of their own lands, when God gathers the “outcasts.” The Great Tribulation will afflict Israel very soon. The terrifying end time is being discussed. “All ye beasts of the field, come to devour, yea, all ye beasts in the forest” (verse 9). The Gentilebeastsare almost ready to devour Israel. The nations of Israel are living on the edge of disaster. We are entering into the “times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24; Revelation 11:2-3). If ever there was a time to warn our people, it is now!

But then unfolds one of the strangest events ever to occur in our nations or in God’s Church! “His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber” (Isaiah 56:10). At a time when America and Britain face their greatest danger, the watchmen are “blind.” Capture this dumbfounding picture. Ferocious Gentile beasts are surrounding Israel, ready to devour,and the watchmen are dumb dogs who won’t bark!

Under similar physical circumstances, if lions, bears and wolves were about to devour the inhabitants of a home, the watchdogs would be in a barking frenzy! But not these physical and spiritual watchmen. They are asleep, blind and dumb!

The worst time of suffering on planet Earth is about to explode! (Jeremiah 30:7; Daniel 12:1; Matthew 24:21).

“Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter” (Isaiah 56:11). The shepherds, God’s lukewarm ministers, “cannot understand.” Why? Because “they are greedy dogs which can never have enough.” How could God ever work through such an attitude? These ministers put job and money, or “gain,” ahead of God. They have very weak faith, and God condemns them harshly!

God’s Watchman Warns, Gives Hope

Winston Churchill was a watchman before and during World War ii. Without a doubt, his efforts to warn the nations about Germany made a great impact on the outcome of the war.

Ezekiel 33:1-6 are about this end time and may be talking directly about what happened in World War ii: “Again the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, speak to the children of thy people, and say unto them, When I bring the sword upon a land, if the people of the land take a man of their coasts, and set him for their watchman …” (verses 1-2). God did bring the sword upon our nations to correct us, and a man named Winston Churchill came on the scene, and the people set him up as their watchman. God had a hand in it, but still, the people chose Churchill.

Mr. Churchill’s warning in the 1930s would fulfill those verses better than any example I know of in America and Britain’s history in this end time.

In verse 7, however, it is no longer talking about World War ii or a period like that. The setting dramatically shifts to this present time: “So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me.” This is not a watchman that the people chose, like the one referred to in verse 2. God says boldly and strongly, “I have set thee a watchman.” This watchman is set there and sustained by God.

Why is this important? Because God has now taken the situation to another level. This is not the same as the people choosing a Churchill to save America and Britain, or modern-day Israel. That will not happen this time around. Times have changed dramatically! This time, people will either hear God’s man or suffer nightmarish catastrophe!

Here is an amazing point. By going through that tribulation, according to Ezekiel, all these victims are going to get to know God! They don’t know Him today.

If a Churchill came on the scene today, he wouldn’t be telling us to repent. He might tell us some of our flaws and weaknesses, but he wouldn’t tell us to repent of our sins toward God. Only God’s watchman would do that. And that is what Israel, or America and Britain, needs.

Can we appreciate the significance of this end-time event? God chooses a watchman and gives him words: Hear the word at my mouth, He says. The words from Ezekiel (and the rest of the Bible) are from the very mouth of God! God gives this man revelation. Then He sends him out to proclaim those words: You tell them this warning is from me. No matter what they say, unless they repent of their sins, they will go into captivity or die. This is not about a Winston Churchill; this is a direct message from God to the nations of Israel! If they don’t hear God’s watchman, there is only invasion and captivity, worse than any ever known.

There is no solution in having a Churchill anymore. But God has a message that would save them if they would listen!

Will you listen?

Pope: Don’t Take Bible Literally

Pope: Don’t Take Bible Literally

CHRISTOPHE SIMON/AFP/Getty Images

In his latest treatise, Benedict XVI reverts to medieval teaching.
From the February 2011 Trumpet Print Edition

Can you trust the Bible? Is it, in fact, the inspired Word of God?

The pope recently weighed in on these questions in an “apostolic exhortation” called Verbum Domini (“The Word of the Lord”), issued on November 11. As cna/ewtn News reported it, this papal message was “a lofty and impassioned plea for everyone in the church to rediscover the Bible.”

The truth of it is, this was more than an “impassioned plea” from this pope to his parishioners. It was a direct attack on all who believe the inerrancy of the literal Scriptures as inspired by God!

Pope Benedict “criticized ‘fundamentalist’ or ‘literalist’ interpretations and urged renewed appreciation for the symbolic and spiritual interpretation techniques used by the ancient fathers of the church” (ibid., emphasis mine).

An authentic interpretation of the Bible must always be in harmony with the faith of the Catholic Church, Benedict declared.

We must look at this declaration in light of other recent endorsements of the claim that the Roman Catholic Church is the only true church. This pope has said more than once that all Christian denominations other than Roman Catholicism are illegitimate—either defective or not true churches. Now he has reasserted the medieval stance that only the interpretation of Scripture by the Roman Catholic Church has authenticity.

That is a blatant papal lie that the very Scriptures themselves oppose!

How to Understand the Bible

Your Bible clearly declares, first and foremost, that “no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation” (2 Peter 1:20).

It further declares that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). There is no instruction here to resort first to any “symbolic and spiritual interpretation techniques used by the ancient fathers of the church”!

Those “interpretation techniques” as applied over the centuries have led to many contradictory interpretations of Scripture, even within Roman Catholicism. But Jesus Christ plainly said “the scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). The Bible does not contradict itself!

It is not for the pope, it is not for any of his priests, it is not for man at all to interpret the Scriptures based on any particular religious ideology!

Only one power can unlock the plain, straightforward meaning of Scripture. That is the power of the mind of God alone, exerting His influence on the mind of an individual by the power of His Holy Spirit.

Jesus Christ Himself, the Word of God personified, declared that when the Holy Spirit comes into the mind of an individual, it reveals all things. He called it “the Spirit of truth, [which] the world cannot receive, because it seeth [it] not, neither knoweth [it]” (John 14:17).

Christ called the Holy Spirit the “Comforter” (John 16:7). It is a revelatory Spirit, the Spirit of truth—actually a portion of God’s own supreme intellect embedded in the mind of a converted Christian. Christ declared that when it is given by the Father to a servant of God, it “will guide you into all truth … and [it] will shew you things to come” (verse 13).

cna/ewtn News described “The heart of Verbum Domini” as comprising “a long and often technical discussion of ‘hermeneutics,’ or the proper method for interpreting the sacred texts.”

The reality is that Jesus Christ, the very Author of the Word of God, gave us the proper method for understanding the Bible. We read of the direct experience of His original disciples, from whom the original apostles were ordained and who in turn formed the very foundation of the one true Church. Of their experience with the resurrected Jesus Christ, they remembered, “Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?”

It is thus the living Jesus Christ, the true Head of His one true Church, who opens up the Word of God to us by the power of God’s Holy Spirit!

The Real Reason Men Interpret the Bible

Yes, it takes dedicated study to grow in understanding the Bible (2 Timothy 2:15; Isaiah 28:10, 13). But, in reality, the Bible interprets itself!

Why do men insist on trying to interpret the Bible?

A quarter of a century ago, Herbert Armstrong gave the answer. In the Plain Truth magazine of November 1983, he wrote, “The Scriptures are profitable for the purpose of reproving and correcting us. But we resent being reproved and corrected. How many people do you know who are even willing to be corrected where they are in error—to be reproved for the wrong things they do?

“People do not like to be reproved and corrected. They love praise and flattery. But reproof and correction they surely hate.

“That’s why it is so hard for so many people to understand the Bible and to agree on just what it says. The Bible is God’s great spiritual mirror. It shows up every flaw in our thinking and reveals every spot on our characters. It pictures us as we really are—as God sees us, not as we like to think we are or to have other men look upon us.”

That’s the plain and simple truth.

Hebrews 4:12 reads, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” The Bible is a powerful weapon that cuts both ways, opening up and laying bare the inner man!

That is not a comfortable process—and thus, too often, men simply won’t subject themselves to it. As Herbert Armstrong further stated, “Too often men have applied some different meaning to the scriptures that reproved them. They have passed right over some scriptures that corrected and rebuked them. Instead they studied diligently to find some other scripture into which they could read a meaning that would justify their course of action.

“That is how men began, centuries ago, to interpret the Bible. And so God’s Word has become perverted, twisted, wrested, distorted. And almost every false and counterfeit meaning imaginable is read into it instead of seeing the natural meaning—the plain, simple meaning God intended.

“Today we have hundreds of interpretations of the Bible. But you never hear of hundreds of interpretations of a biology textbook. Why? Because biology textbooks do not rebuke and correct men.

“Instead of acknowledging the truth, repenting of the sin, having it legally justified by the blood of Christ, men seek to justify their own acts by perverting the sacred and holy Word of God.”

Melanie Phillips recently mused that the Vatican today, under this pope, may be taking “a giant step backwards into a darker age”—an age when the Vatican dictated that the Roman Catholic Church alone was the sole authority for interpretation of the Bible! (Oct. 25, 2010).

Could it be that this pope is in reality seeking to hide what inerrant Scripture reveals as to the true nature of the religious body he leads, its true beginnings, and its prophesied end? Hide the truth by insisting on the application of the interpretation techniques imposed by the “ancient fathers of the church” and thus interpreting, or rather wresting, the Scriptures to suit the whim and the will of the Vatican? (2 Peter 3:16).

You need to allow the Bible to interpret itself on this burning question and all others. Request our free booklet Daniel—Unsealed at Last! for insight into, and for the biblical answers to, this question.

Loneliness: The Cause and the Cure

From the January 2011 Trumpet Print Edition

Our society is afflicted with chronic loneliness. Concerned experts warn that loneliness is at the epidemic stage, affecting both genders of all races. It is a global problem.

Of course, it is only human to feel lonely at times. Professionals refer to this as situational loneliness. For example, the death of a loved one can cause painful loneliness. However, this condition generally lessens with the passage of time.

Chronic loneliness is far more dangerous. Confronting loneliness daily is a difficult struggle. Medical professionals now see it as a serious health threat that can lead to heightened stress, high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep disorders and depression.

The irony is, world population is at an all-time high. Cities are bulging with people. So why should anybody be lonely? What is the cause? What is the cure? You may be surprised at the answers.

People Living Alone

To understand the cause of loneliness, we must first recognize that it is a modern malady. Previous generations did not have the problem on the same scale. Why? Sociologists have collected some interesting data to help unravel the mystery.

In the United States in the 1950s, about one in every 10 households had one person living alone. By the 1990s this figure had jumped to one out of four households. New Census Bureau figures show that “just me” homes are 27 percent of U.S. households today. These figures are similar for most countries throughout the Western world.

So we can see there has been a marked change in our social landscape. More and more people live alone. The startling truth is, single-person households are the fastest growing segment of our 21st-century populations.

No wonder loneliness has risen so dramatically. Some predict that this century will be known as the lonely century.

Several centuries ago, when large extended families dominated society, a single adult living alone would have been unthinkable. Even in the mid-20th century, single adult homes were dominated by either young, pre-married males or older widows. Yet today, the majority of one-person households are middle-aged men and women.

Why are so many people living alone? Some are forced to because of the death of a spouse, but this primarily affects the elderly; younger widows and widowers often have children living with them, and they are far likelier to remarry.

The majority of people living on their own today are those who have suffered through divorce. Worldwide divorce rates have risen sharply in recent decades, and second and third marriages have far less chance of success. In America, 41 percent of first marriages fail, and 60 percent of second marriages. Among third marriages, nearly three out of four end in divorce.

In addition, a growing number of men and women are simply choosing to postpone getting married or avoid marriage altogether. It is estimated that 1 in 10 Americans plans never to marry. Some—especially well-educated, upwardly mobile single women—delay marriage until well into their 30s to pursue careers. Many young men are choosing not to marry in order to remain free to pursue personal hobbies unhindered by responsibilities. Some refer to this choice as enjoying the me years.

Others decide not to marry because of a poor family life. After growing up amid parental bickering and fighting, or witnessing excruciatingly painful divorces firsthand, they are soured on marriage. Living the childhood years under the stress and tension of parents at war has caused many to fear repeating this tragic history. They want nothing to do with marriage.

More and more people are failing at family or avoiding it completely. Experts have concluded that all this aloneness has led to chronic loneliness.

Their solution seems simple enough. Chronically lonely people need to develop strongly bonded loving relationships.

Yet are these conclusions true? Do the experts truly understand the cause of chronic loneliness? We must get to the root of the problem, or nothing will change.

The Real Solution

Is the solution to the problem merely developing strongly bonded relationships?

Today, there is a desperate search for such relationships, and people are experimenting with all kinds of ways to make these relationships happen. Many couples live together without marriage. Others get into same-sex “marriages.” Some people even try to develop strong bonds with pets, including exotic wild animals.

In the end, these relationships will not work. Loneliness often remains. The needed strong bonds cannot be built. Human beings are meant for better.

Let’s look at this problem honestly. Why are people chronically lonely? The facts lead us to the only viable conclusion: We have chronic loneliness because we have been systematically destroying the God-ordained institution of marriage and family.

The traditional family of a married couple with children—so common just a couple of generations ago—is disappearing. Society today doesn’t just embrace all other possible combinations—it exalts them at the expense of the biblical model. Men and women, by their own self-acquired wisdom, have created their own ideas of family. Yet the truth is that all the combinations man dreams up will never be truly family!

Chronic loneliness is a curse resulting from what we have done and are doing to marriage and family.

God never intended for men, women and children to live alone or be lonely. At man’s creation, God said, “It is not good that the man should bealone; I will make him an help meet for him” (Genesis 2:18). From the beginning, God created man to need human contact and support. He solved the problem by creating a help suitable for Adam, which happened to be Eve—a woman. No other created being could fulfill such an important role (verse 20).

Then, to insure that men, women and children would remain in a state of togetherness, God created marriage and family. After creating Eve, God said: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (verse 24). Adam and Eve were the first humans to be married, yet their children were also to marry.

Marriage and family were created to ensure that no human being would suffer chronic loneliness. God has an awesome plan for mankind. He earnestly wants us to become His sons and daughters (2 Corinthians 6:18). To ensure man’s success, He created the family.

A full understanding of God’s plan for man reveals that marriage and family are eternal institutions. For more details on this subject, request our booklet The God Family Vision. It will be sent to you at no charge. This stirring booklet explains in detail that God is a Family and that man, made in His image, is destined to be in that Family for eternity.

To permanently solve the problem of chronic loneliness, humankind must get back to building family God’s way.

Gain True Education

The Prophet Isaiah stated thousands of years ago that family life would nearly be destroyed in our day. Isaiah 3:1-12 discuss this breakdown and its tragic results.

Newscasters and commentators recognize that our world has been turned upside down, yet they don’t know the cause. Most blame our failing economy. Others condemn the politicians. Most seem to forget that we the people have chosen those who lead us. We must come to see the truth as Isaiah prophesied it: that today’s failures in leadership and our collapsing economy have their roots in our sick family life.

God holds everyone accountable for our upside-down world. Each individual must point the finger at himself or herself. God sees our problems clearly and tells us how to solve them.

He states: “Surely your turning of things upside down shall be esteemed as the potter’s clay: for shall the work say of him that made it, He made me not? or shall the thing framed say of him that framed it, He had no understanding?” (Isaiah 29:16). This society has rejected God by saying He made me not. This one simple statement sums up everything written on the subject of evolution!

By rejecting God, mankind has also pushed aside His revealed knowledge about marriage and family. In doing so, we are saying that God had no understanding when He created man. How arrogant of human beings!

Even though mankind has stockpiled vast amounts of knowledge, we lack the understanding of how to build and maintain right relationships. We have lost true education in the things that really matter.

To end the human suffering caused by chronic loneliness, we must come to know and apply what God teaches about marriage and family.

God used Herbert W. Armstrong to restore this incredible knowledge for those willing to read and study it. Request our free book The Missing Dimension in Sex. It thoroughly explains God’s purpose for creating marriage and family. This knowledge opens up to us the only workable solution to set right our upside-down family life.

All lasting, loving relationships are built and maintained within God’s design for family. God intended the family to be the training ground for building right relationships. It is within the context of family that we learn to love, care for, serve and support others. If our family life is twisted and distorted, all our relationships will be twisted and distorted. We will continue to suffer from ills such as chronic loneliness.

However, when our family life is strong and oriented in God’s ways, the results are miraculous. No elderly person is left alone. No couple experiences a painful divorce. Young people marry and have children to help build up a stable society.

Does this seem unreal to you? This is the kind of world Jesus Christ will build at His return (e.g. Zechariah 8:4-5). You can begin to enjoy that world now. It is your choice.

How Important Is Music?

How Important Is Music?

©iStock.com/SrdjanPav

What the ayatollah, Darwin and Freud were missing out on
From the February 2011 Trumpet Print Edition

“It’s better that our dear youth spend their valuable time in learning science and essential and useful skills.” Those were the words of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei last August when he denounced all forms of music as “not compatible with the highest values of the sacred regime of the Islamic Republic.”

It’s not unusual for dictators to forbid harmless or even worthwhile endeavors that they find threatening to their authority. But did the ayatollah have a point? Are science and other skills more “useful” to our children than music? Many people apparently think so, just judging by the impoverished music programs of the average public school.

How important is music to our existence? Our underfunded music curricula aren’t able to answer that respectably. Even some recent efforts to validate music have backfired. Consider the famous “Mozart effect” study. Using faulty science, the study endeavored to show music’s usefulness—by proving that it improved students’ performances in “more important” subjects! “Think how absurd this would sound if we turned it inside out,” Daniel Levitin pointed out in his book This Is Your Brain on Music. “If I claimed that studying mathematics helped musical ability, would policy makers start pumping money into math for that reason? Music has often been the poor stepchild of public schools, the first program to get cut when there are funding problems, and people frequently try to justify it in terms of its collateral benefits, rather than letting music exist for its own rewards.”

What are music’s intrinsic rewards? How vital is it to life? Is it a frivolous hobby for the specialized few, or an extracurricular entertainment for the “undertalented” masses?

Lost Wisdom

Centuries ago, such questions would have sounded absurd. Music and science were not considered at odds with each other. A scientist examining the ayatollah’s comment about “learning science and essential and useful skills” would have been flabbergasted that the ayatollah was excluding music from that grouping.

“It is a recent notion that music is a divertissement to be enjoyed in comfortable surroundings at the end of the day, far removed from the hurly-burly of life’s business,” writes Jamie James in The Music of the Spheres. “[T]hroughout most of the history of our culture, music was itself an essential part of life’s business. … [I]t was taken for granted throughout the whole history of the West that music was a defining human activity, and therefore every educated person was trained in the rudiments of music.”

James points out that music “remained an important constituent of mathematics in European education until the 19th century.” The concept of music existing merely to give pleasure would have been considered as ludicrous as the idea of believing that sex only existed to give pleasure. Thinkers before the 19th century believed music has a pure and enlightening purpose in human existence—that it links us with the eternal and the spiritual.

“Musical training was considered one of the high marks of refinement in the Middle Ages,” write Patricia Shehan Campbell and Carol Scott-Kassner in Music in Childhood. By the time of the Enlightenment, “Music instruction was more than ‘window dressing’ in European schools. It was viewed as ‘basic’ to the education of all children.”

Men of science long believed that music was not only sound that emanated from a minstrel’s lyre, but the way both the heavenly bodies and even the human body were ordered. It was no coincidence to them that the ratios dictating the measurements of the solar system were the same as the ratios in the frequencies that created the harmonies we found most pleasing, and that by understanding music, we could better understand the universe. Ancient scientists also believed our bodies and minds are a musical instrument. We find certain harmonies pleasing, in fact, because they agree with our own internal rhythms. Our bodies are soothed or stirred by music because they, like a taut string, vibrate sympathetically to sounds produced around them. Considering the healing properties of music, and new discoveries on how the brain reacts to music, we know they were on to something.

The Brain Loves Music

New brain-scanning technology is showing us some remarkable things about the impact of music on health and brain function. People who cannot talk have sung. People who cannot walk have danced! Medicine is further acknowledging something it should have known all along: the health-influencing properties of music. The healing properties of music (expounded in our July 2010 article “Well-Toned: A Whole New Meaning”) should be enough to make the case for music’s intrinsic worth in our lives.

The brain has no single music “center.” Listening to or performing music engages “every area of the brain that we have so far identified, and involve[s] nearly every neural subsystem” (Levitin, op. cit.). You could call it the best mental workout around. Physical education experts laud swimming for using all the body’s major muscle groups. Music, you could say, is the swimming of mental activities.

No wonder the corpus callosum (the area connecting the brain’s two hemispheres) is enlarged in professional musicians. No wonder studies have found that musicians distinguish and remember sound better than non-musicians.

But music’s impact on the brain is true for musicians and non-musicians alike. Brain imaging has shown that the brain “gives a little start of surprise when a passage of music takes an unexpected turn” even in someone without musical training (U.S.News and World Report, Aug. 5, 2001).

It is a mistake, in fact, as Music in Childhood points out, to buy into the “myth that few children are musically endowed”—one that “threatens the right of all to a musical education, and may even endanger a musical culture.”

Music aids our minds in that it can be a powerful mnemonic device. How many children learn the alphabet by having it attached to a Mozartian tune? How many remember the books of the Bible with the aid of a song? At the very least, we can all think of popular products sung to the tune of a commercial jingle.

Music is like a reliable secretary for your mind. Our brain is full of filing cabinets and papers, but of all forms of organization meant to put those papers in the right drawers, music is most effective.

Music was how the great Irish minstrel-bards were capable of retaining and recalling so much information in their advisement to the Irish kings: They knew, as Dr. Oliver Sacks writes in Musicophilia, that “music … has played a huge role in relation to the oral traditions of poetry, storytelling, liturgy and prayer. Entire books can be held in memory.”

Music benefits our mental, physical and emotional health. It aids our thinking and our moods. It also aids our children through their earliest development—even while still in the womb.

Study after study is emerging showing that when our children have musical training, they tend to excel in their development and may even enjoy a boost in IQ. (The studies cite the neurological benefits, though we can’t count out the behavioral habits that regular disciplined practicing instills.) Some educators are taking note, and Kindermusik and other music programs are receiving more funding.

Research also suggests that the brain is prewired for music from infancy and can learn music as quickly as it can learn speech. Because of parents’ tendencies to speak to babies in singsong, Sandra Trehub of the University of Toronto speculates that “we are born with a musical brain because music provides a special communication channel between parent and child” (U.S. News, op. cit.).

Music in Childhood states, “Children are stimulated intellectually, physically, and even spiritually in their recognition of music for its own sake as well as its integration with their knowledge of the humanities, the sciences, and the social studies.”

Music Haters

As off base as the ayatollah’s comments may seem, he is in famous company—particularly among two thinkers who shaped the musically handicapped modern education system as we know it today: Sigmund Freud and Charles Darwin.

Not only was music simply not important to them, there appeared to be some great chasm between them and this illustrious element of humanity. In all his writings, Freud mentioned his personal connection to music only once: “I am almost incapable of obtaining any pleasure [from music]. Some rationalistic, or perhaps analytic, turn of mind in me rebels against being moved by a thing without knowing why I am thus affected and what it is that affects me.”

Darwin was similarly unmoved by it. “Formerly … music [gave me] very intense delight. But now … I have almost lost my taste for … music,” he wrote. “My mind seems to have become a sort of machine for grinding general laws out of large collections of fact. … The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibly be injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character by enfeebling the emotional part of our nature.”

Perhaps this inability and even blatant refusal to enjoy music by the fathers of modern psychoanalysis and modern evolutionary thought is evidence of their—ahem—mental instability.

“Music is part of being human,” Dr. Sacks writes, “and there is no human culture in which it is not highly developed and esteemed. Its very ubiquity may cause it to be trivialized in daily life: We switch on a radio, switch it off, hum a tune, tap our feet, find the words of an old song going through our minds, and think nothing of it.”

How important is music? So important, in fact, that it ironically becomes trivialized by its very saturation of our lives. May we never let that familiarity breed such contempt that we forget its impact on our existence, how intrinsic it is to the world created around us, and how vital it is to the instruction, development and maturation of our children.