Using the Bible as Her Guide

Using the Bible as Her Guide

Dr. Eilat Mazar

Israeli archaeologist Dr. Mazar discusses with the Trumpet the value of the Bible in Israeli archaeology.

With over 10 million copies sold, Werner Keller’s book The Bible as History stands as the principle literary work highlighting the accuracy of the Bible. Originally published in 1955 and again in 1980, the book travels through the biblical epic pointing out how archaeology has time and again proven the Bible as a legitimate historical document. Further excavation over the years has vindicated most of Keller’s positions and disproven a few others, but the fact remains that the Bible preserves a compellingly truthful account of ancient Israel’s history.

And since that book was published scores of recent archaeological excavations are corroborating the biblical history as well.

Israeli archaeologist Eilat Mazar unabashedly uses the Bible as one of many tools in her kit. Famed for discovering King David’s palace in 2005, Dr. Eilat Mazar is a solid supporter of the Bible’s role in Israeli archaeology. “What is amazing about the Bible is that very often we see that it is very accurate and sometimes amazingly accurate,” she told theTrumpet.com.

So accurate, in fact, that she actually used one specific verse to locate the massive but heretofore elusive palace of King David from over 3,000 years ago.

When David conquered the Jebusite city around 1000 b.c. he took up residence in the stronghold—the Jebusite fortress at the north end of the city. According to 2 Samuel 5:9, he then began to build up the area around Millo and inward. The New International Version says David “built up the area around it, from the supporting terraces inward.” So David set out to enlarge the city limits—first concentrating on a royal palace. The Bible says King David’s palace was partially built by workers sent to him by the Phoenician king of Tyre as a gesture of friendship (verse 11). “And David went on, and grew great, and the Lord God of hosts was with him” (verse 10).

Near the end of David’s palace construction, the Philistines attacked. And since the new palace may not have been reinforced strongly enough to withstand the Philistine assault, verse 17 says David went down to the citadel to barricade himself within the city walls until the conflict ended. This, Dr. Mazar theorized more than 10 years ago, indicates that David’s new palace stood on higher ground than the Jebusite fortress.

She published her theory in Biblical Archaeology Review in January 1997. Under the title, “Excavate King David’s Palace,” on a two-page artist’s rendering of the ancient City of David, Mazar drew an arrow pointing at the north end of the city, underneath the caption “it’s there.” She wrote, “Careful examination of the biblical text combined with sometimes unnoticed results of modern archaeological excavations in Jerusalem enable us, I believe, to locate the site of King David’s palace. Even more exciting, it is in an area that is now available for excavation. If some regard as too speculative the hypothesis I shall put forth in this article, my reply is simply this: Let us put it to the test in the way archaeologists always try to test their theories—by excavation.”

A decade later, excavation did exactly that. In 2005, just under the surface in the northern-most region of the City of David, she found what she calls the Large Stone Structure and labeled it King David’s palace.

Naturally, in the scientific world, Dr. Mazar has detractors who discredit her work because of how she uses the Bible. They label her as a fundamentalist with obvious bias. However, in talking and working with Eilat Mazar in person, you hardly get that impression. Much the opposite, Dr. Mazar is as scientific as they come, her conclusions based firmly in sound archaeological method.

While archaeological method is constantly improving, Dr. Mazar is as scientifically respectable as any other in the field. Remarkably, she actually invites other archaeologists to the site, “especially ones that think differently,” she says. “Everybody is most welcome to observe how we work, and afterwards, how we process the finds. We make sure that everything can be observed and criticized. Then nobody can blame us that we are not doing the best updated work.”

Furthermore, some archaeologists get upset that Dr. Mazar actually found what she was looking for, and label that premise as being unscientific. However, is it not scientific to have a hypothesis before you start an experiment and then use a controlled method to test that hypothesis?

Once the excavation is over and the artifacts and stratigraphy are studied, it is the right of the archaeologist to suggest the best possible conclusion to what has been excavated, to objectively decide whether the hypothesis held up. In the case of King David’s palace, it most certainly did! The widely acknowledged dating of the structure to sometime during the 11th and 10th century b.c., its location within the city and its enormous size all testify that King David’s palace is the most logical and scientific identification of the Large Stone Structure.

Actually, contrary to what critics might say, it is actually good science to find what you are looking for. But it requires great ability to draw on all the sources at your disposal to conduct the best possible research before you excavate. In Dr. Mazar’s mind, this research necessitated tapping the biblical text.

Dr. Mazar can hardly understand why some of her contemporaries exert effort to pick holes in the text rather than use it to aid their work. “Archaeology cannot stand by itself as a very technical method,” she related. “It is actually quite primitive without the support of written documents. Excavating the ancient land of Israel and not reading and getting to know the biblical source is stupidity. I don’t see how it can work. It’s like excavating a classical site and ignoring Greek and Latin sources. It is impossible.”

Impossible indeed! It would be as impossible as recovering Egyptian history without Manetho.

Many delegitimize Dr. Mazar’s work at the palace of David because of the religious views of her sponsors. But they ignore that she waited 10 years from when her paper was published, before she could get funding to excavate. No doubt, if a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist or atheist gave her the money to excavate she would have used it to produce the same investigative process arriving at the same conclusion.

What would Dr. Mazar say to critics who fault her archaeology because of its Jewish sponsors?

She laughs. And replies, “Well, the stones, and the structure, and the stratigraphical layers—they don’t care who is giving the funds. There are very clear and very advanced scientific methods our days. You can have all theories and working hypotheses as you go to the field, but the minute you start to excavate, all these theories need to be put on the side. From that minute onward, you have to document and give every little item a precise height and photograph what you find.” She concluded, “I think that the people who get to know the details of how archaeology works nowadays understands that you cannot force agenda on the facts.”

Essentially, since the field is so scientifically astute right now, one cannot easily forge his or her own theories on the evidence and have them hold up long against scholarly criticism.

For Dr. Mazar, her whole academic reputation is on the line with her excavations and conclusions. Still, she holds firm to the historical application of the Bible.

Although she may be the poster child of biblical archaeology today, Dr. Eilat Mazar isn’t the first to hold the Bible in such high esteem.

“There is nothing new about reading the Bible to see how much of the reality can be tangible. It is a whole school that started with Robinson and later on in force with Albright, of which my grandfather considered himself to be a follower and a student,” she says.

“My grandfather” is the late professor Dr. Benjamin Mazar, a leading Israeli archaeologist in his own right. He is best known for his massive excavation at the southwestern corner of the Temple Mount, which spanned the late ’60s and the ’70s. He also served as president of the Hebrew University between the years of 1953 and 1961.

It was his enthusiasm for archaeology and the Bible that captured the imagination of a young girl named Eilat who loved to visit his digs. She recalls that many times she would sit before her grandfather as a child when he would conduct advanced seminars for scholars in his home. “He was sharing his enthusiasm with the whole academic world and with us, the children.”

From home to the excavation site to anywhere beyond, the archaeological atmosphere saturated Mazar family life. Naturally, Eilat Mazar and others in the family followed him into the field of archaeology. “When I studied at the university, he guided,” she says. While at university, the two Mazars began working together on publication of The Temple Mount Excavations. The project would continue for the following 10 years.

Meanwhile, Dr. Mazar worked in the City of David excavations under the direction of Dr. Yigal Shiloh. Each day after the excavations, as she worked with her grandfather, he would ask her, “What’s new at the excavation?”

“What’s new? We just discussed all the new things yesterday, so what can be so new?” she would reply.

“No, no, no; what’s new?” the professor would ask again.

“He was expecting new and fresh thinking every single day. He really pushed me. On the one hand it was quite distressing, but on the other hand it pushed me to constantly be thinking every time that I am excavating,” Mazar recounts.

That training and birth, if you will, into archaeology served Eilat Mazar well. So did Professor Mazar’s deep understanding that the Bible should be used as a historical source for Israelite history.

And it was the two together who would first discuss the idea that King David’s palace was located exactly where it was later found!

Ever since the early 1800s many in the scientific community have sought to malign the authenticity of the biblical text. Unlike any other religious book, the God of the Bible actually claims to not just be a casual observer of the history of mankind, but an actor in it as well. Thus, in destroying the historical basis for the Bible, peoples’ faith was on shaky ground. For that reason, Keller’s book in the mid-19th century was a refreshing change.

Thankfully, there are still some, like Dr. Eilat Mazar, who are willing to practice true science and acknowledge the Bible as history! If more did, who knows what else would be found?

Jerusalem Watch: Iran Keeps Pushing

Jerusalem Watch: Iran Keeps Pushing

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Another round of nuclear talks between Iran and the UN Security Council plus Germany began on Friday.

The Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. and European officials headed into the two-day negotiations with increasing confidence that sanctions and covert actions are taking its toll on Iran’s nuclear program.

The U.S. and Israel were recently credited for conducting a cyberattack on Iran’s nuclear facility in Natanz that rendered many of the centrifuges necessary to enrich the uranium inoperable. Although both countries neither deny nor confirm their involvement, the New York Times reported that the virus was tested in Israel.

Despite Iran’s recent setbacks, however, expectations for any major breakthroughs during the negotiations are low. Tehran remains defiant toward the UN Security Council and continues to work toward its goal of becoming a nuclear nation. A senior official in the Iranian delegation stated Iran would “not allow any talks linked to freezing or suspending of Iran’s enrichment activities to be discussed at the meeting in Istanbul.”

Besides setting the agenda of the talks, Iran scored another victory by setting the location of the talks in Istanbul—highlighting Iran’s strengthened position in the region.

According to the Wall Street Journal,

In Lebanon, Tehran’s close ally Hezbollah, the militant political party, forced the collapse of the pro-Western government last week, over a dispute tied to a UN investigation of the murder of the country’s former prime minister, Rafik Hariri. Efforts by Washington’s allies in Saudi Arabia and France to mediate the crisis have fizzled. Iran’s diplomatic allies—Turkey, Qatar and Syria—are increasingly filling the diplomatic space. Iran has also seen its political allies in Iraq and Afghanistan strengthened.

Hezbollah showed its own position of strength on Tuesday when, according to the Jerusalem Post, “Hezbollah members and allied parties carried out a two-hour exercise early on Tuesday morning at 12 different strategic points in Beirut, meant to show a potential first response to the commission findings surrounding the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.”

Sources close to Hezbollah reported the drill was “a real exercise to test the readiness of any such plan to take over Beirut and its periphery, including entries, the port, waters, and the airport.”

In other news from the region, Lebanon has submitted a draft resolution to the UN, on behalf of the Palestinians, asking for the Security Council to condemn Israeli settlements.

The bold move disregards a U.S. plea for the PA to withhold presenting the proposal to the Security Council. “The Americans don’t want us to present anything to the Security Council,” chief plo negotiator Saeb Erekat said. “But we made it clear to them that, for us, the Security Council was a gate to international legitimacy.”

This stealthy maneuver by the Palestinian Authority further exposes its unwillingness to conduct serious negotiations with Israel. Historically, the UN has never been a great ally to Israel, and has in many instances been a willing instrument in the hands of Palestinians and other anti-Israel states seeking to undermine, marginalize and persecute the Jewish state. Based on its track record, it wouldn’t be surprising if the UN once again casts aside objectivity and sides with those seeking Israel’s destruction.

Moreover, the blatant disregard of Washington’s request reveals the eroding influence of America’s diplomacy in effecting any progress in the peace process.

The Week in Review

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Hezbollah exercises, Catholicism vs. Islam, the Fatherland of peace, and “the product of the past.”

Middle East

According to the Jerusalem Post, “Hezbollah members and allied parties carried out a two-hour exercise early in the morning Tuesday at 12 different strategic points in Beirut, meant to show a potential first response to the commission findings surrounding the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri” (January 19). No violence erupted during the drill, and the militants were unarmed and carried hand-held radios. Sources close to Hezbollah reported the drill was “a real exercise to test the readiness of any such plan to takeover Beirut and its periphery, including entries, the port, waters, and the airport.” This threat comes at a time when Prime Minister Saad Hariri is struggling to form a new government after Hezbollah ministers and their allies resigned last week. The dispute is over Lebanon’s support of the UN tribunal that is expected to indict several Hezbollah members for the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The terrorist group said it would treat the political deadlock differently after the UN tribunal released its report, raising fears that Hezbollah will use violence to impose its will—just like it did in 2008.

The Obama administration is out of ideas to keep the Palestinian-Israeli peace process afloat. In order to seek out fresh initiatives, the government has initiated two independent task forces that will advise on how to proceed. This outsourcing of policy creation reveals the discouraging state of U.S. diplomacy in the region. Politicoreports, “The solicitation of ideas comes as the administration’s peace efforts are ‘utterly stuck,’ as one outside adviser who consults the administration on the issue told Politico Wednesday on condition of anonymity. ‘There’s no pretense of progress. With the State of the Union coming up and the new gop Congress, they are taking a few weeks [to regroup and solicit] ideas to push forward and … to give a real jump-start to what would be meaningful negotiations,’ the adviser said” (January 13). Since the 1970s, the United States has burdened itself trying to strike a peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Decades later, a peaceful solution is as far out of reach as when it started. As the Bible reveals, Jerusalem is a burdensome stone for any nation trying to bring it peace man’s way (Zechariah 12:3). To discover the stunning prophesied conclusion of American-led peace initiatives in the Holy City, read Chapter 8 of our free booklet Zechariah: The Sign of Christ’s Imminent Return.

The Palestinian Authority announced Sunday that it will ask the United Nations Security Council to deliver a resolution condemning Israel’s construction of settlements in the West Bank, the Jerusalem Postreported. The bold move disregards a U.S. plea for the PA to refrain from presenting the proposal to the Security Council. “The Americans don’t want us to present anything to the Security Council,” chief plo negotiator Saeb Erekat said. “But we made it clear to them that, for us, the Security Council was a gate to international legitimacy.” This stealthy maneuver by the PA further exposes its unwillingness to conduct serious negotiations with Israel. Historically, the UN has never been a great ally to Israel, and has repeatedly been a willing instrument in the hands of Arab and other anti-Israel states seeking to undermine, marginalize and persecute the Jewish state. Based on its track record, it wouldn’t be surprising if the UN once again casts aside objectivity and sides with those seeking Israel’s destruction. Continue to watch as the Palestinians garner greater international support in their case for statehood, in the process sidelining the U.S. as a legitimate broker for peace and turning the world more against the Jewish state.

The rift between the Catholic Church and Islam continued to grow this week as scholars from Al Azhar University, a leading Sunni establishment in Egypt, suspended talks with the Vatican “in response to the position taken by Pope Benedict xvi on Islam.” On January 20 a spokesman for the Islamic Research Academy said it was suspending talks because of the pope’s 2006 Regensburg speech, as well as “the recent unacceptable interference” of the pope “who sought protection for Coptic Christians” after they were murdered in Alexandria. The group disliked the pope’s “interference in the affairs of Egypt.” This comes after Egypt recalled its ambassador from the Vatican on January 11. Expect tensions between the Vatican and Islam to continue to grow.

Europe

The pope is supporting Europe’s last dictator, Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus. Since protests against Lukashenko took place on December 19, secret police have been establishing his hold over the country through violence, rape and threatening his opponent’s children. Yet the Vatican has remained silent on the issue, issuing no protests nor breaking off diplomatic relations. Why? Because the Vatican “is seeking a concordat with a state that still has a kgb and statues of Lenin on its streets, just as it sought accommodation with Nazi Germany in the 1930s,” wrote Nick Cohen in the Observer on January 16. The Vatican’s secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, has actually praised Belarus for allowing “freedom of religion,” and has said that sanctions against Lukashenko would be “unacceptable.” Cohen writes: “Belarus has a large Catholic minority and the pope has cold-bloodedly sought to legitimize the dictator in its eyes, not just with his political interventions, but also by inviting Lukashenko to an audience at the Vatican.” This is another example of the Roman Catholic Church showing its true colors.

The Vatican advised Irish bishops not to report priests suspected of child abuse to police or the government according to a newly disclosed document dating back to 1997. “The document appears to contradict Vatican claims that church leaders in Rome never sought to control the actions of local bishops in abuse cases, and that the Roman Catholic Church did not impede criminal investigations of child abuse suspects,” writes the New York Times. The Vatican claims that the letter “has been deeply misunderstood.”

The European Union will try to grab the power to set “the most primary elements of national budgetary frameworks,” according to the Daily Telegraph’s Bruno Waterfield. “The Daily Telegraph understands that the ‘really big step’ will regulate how and when the Treasury forecasts growth and impose ‘numerical fiscal rules’ on all Whitehall departments,” he reports. “The measures, according to British officials, will aim for ‘tighter budget coordination and direction from the center’ in Brussels and could endanger Britain’s ‘fiscal independence.’” The Telegraph’s anonymous source stated, “The rules also set out how much expenditure can or cannot increase in a time of slow growth.” Watch for Brussels to continue to try to grab more powers from Britain, and expect Britain’s resentment of this power grab to grow.

Europe is the “Fatherland of peace,” said European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, in what is possibly the most absurd statement by any politician since Silvio Berlusconi declared, “I am without doubt the person who’s been the most persecuted in the entire history of the world and the history of man.” “Europe is the best guarantee for peace,” said Van Rompuy. “It was and is a work of peace. That’s why I am so strongly in favor of a European perspective for the western Balkans, the last remnant of the Cold War and the last place where a war was waged.” That war, incidentally, was caused by Germany and the EU. “The bloody battlefields from our history have been replaced by Brussels negotiating rooms,” Van Rompuy said. He is right about Europe’s bloody battlefields. Violence has been a constant part of European history. But the EU is not the happy ending of thousands of years of violence. The human nature that caused that violence has not changed. Rather, the EU is a continuation of that violent history, and will cause much more violence of its own soon.

French far-right party The Nation Front chose a new leader on January 16. Marine le Pen was elected to replace her father, Jean-Marie le Pen, to lead the party, which came second in the 2002 French presidential elections. Marine has more mainstream appeal and is not outspokenly anti-Semitic like her father. This could give the party a wider appeal and the power to win the next elections. France is simmering with hatred for the government, and the anti-immigration far-right party could do very well indeed. More, it could lead to far-right victories in other countries. “Marine Le Pen could present a ‘proof of concept’ of a far-right leader with mainstream appeal that catches on in the rest of the Continent,” writes Stratfor (January 15).

Leaders of Nordic and Baltic nations met with UK Prime Minister David Cameron in London on January 19 and 20 for the first-ever summit of Nordic and Baltic heads of state. The leaders met to discuss social policies, as well as technology, innovation and green energy. However, these nations all share an opposition to Franco-German leadership of the EU. Cameron hinted that these meetings could become a regular event, meaning that these leaders would have plenty of time to discuss other common interests. The emergence of a coordinated block of dissenters resisting France and Germany could fracture the EU and lead to the emergence of the 10-nation combine that the Trumpet has long forecast.

Asia

On January 16, the evening before he left for Washington, Chinese President Hu Jintao made the boldest statement to date about the U.S. dollar’s position as the global reserve currency, saying “the current international currency system is the product of the past.” Hu went on to lambast the U.S. Federal Reserve for pumping dollars into the global market, which led to inflation in China and India, and he rejected the U.S.’s argument that Beijing keeps the yuan artificially low to boost China’s exporting power. The timing of Hu’s bold comments, just a day before he was received in Washington for a summit, reveals that China’s fearlessness is on the rise. The etiquette of diplomacy would dictate that Hu reserve his belligerency toward the U.S. until after such a visit is complete. Hu and the nation he leads are decreasingly concerned about such protocol. When Hu arrived on U.S. soil on Tuesday, he was unapologetic on such key issues as China’s currency manipulation, its human rights violations, the illegal obstacles Beijing erects in the way of U.S. firms wishing to do business in China, and the Middle Kingdom’s stealing of American intellectual property. The fact is, China cares less and less what America thinks as it increasingly invests its money—and its confidence—in Europe instead.

Russia and China were the primary sellers of U.S. treasuries in November 2010 as bond yields soared higher that month, according to U.S. government data released on Tuesday. China remains the world’s largest foreign holder of U.S. debt, but it dropped $11.2 billion in November, bringing its total holdings to $895.6 billion. Some analysts see these fluctuations as evidence of profit-taking because China increased its U.S. debt in the months leading up to the Federal Reserve’s announcement of its new bond-buying program. In the same month, Moscow cut its treasury holdings from $131.6 billion to $122.5 billion, Russia’s lowest level since April 2010. “I worry that we could be at a tipping point,” said Eswar Prasad, former International Monetary Fund official. “If the Chinese say ‘We’re not buying any more treasuries,’ this could act as a trigger around which nervous market sentiment coalesces. People could start wondering how the U.S. is going to finance its deficit.”

Africa/Latin America

The Tunisian government collapsed last week. Former Tunisian President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali fled the country on January 14. Fouad Mebazaa, the speaker of Parliament, is now the interim president. But Tunisia’s future is uncertain and the military, or even radical Islamists, could take over. Meanwhile, the violence could spread to other North African countries. As of January 17, four Algerians, one Egyptian and one Mauritanian had set themselves on fire, copying the act that sparked the uprising in Tunisia. If the violence spreads to Egypt, it could usher in a pro-Iranian Islamic regime, something the Trumpet has predicted for years.

A faction in Zimbabwe’s Movement for Democratic Change (mdc) party accused President Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (zanu-pf) of cracking down on mdc supporters around the countryside using security forces on January 18. On January 20, Attorney General Johannes Tomana said he was considering pressing charges for treason against former opposition politicians who were named in the WikiLeaks cables. Treason in Zimbabwe carries the death penalty. Expect more violence and abuse of power as the country gears up for elections this year.

Venezuela now has the world’s largest oil reserve, with 297 billion barrels of certified deposits, the government announced on January 15. However, unlike crude oil in places like Saudi Arabia, Venezuela’s crude is heavy and tar-like and requires longer processing times. Also, some have accused countries like Saudi Arabia and Venezuela of exaggerating their oil reserves.

Anglo-America

U.S. law enforcement arrested 127 people on Thursday in New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Italy. The huge sweep targeted members of the mafia and involved 800 federal and local officers. Individuals in custody are accused of belonging to New York’s prominent criminal organizations and are charged with conspiracy, extortion, arson, drug trafficking, illegal gambling, labor racketeering and murders dating back as far as 1981. Attorney General Eric Holder said some of the killings were targeted assassinations of rival gang members, others senseless murders such as a double homicide in a bar over a spilled drink. A dozen of those charged were union officials who extorted money from dock workers after they received their annual bonuses. Analysts are divided over whether the crime “families” are fading or resurging, but concede that that the region’s dockyards are still the stomping grounds of criminals and killers looking for a buck. For that reason, organized American crime is a threat not only to personal security, but also national security.

On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to repeal President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul law passed last year. The vote is largely a symbolic measure by Republicans, who don’t appear to have an alternative available and who know that the Senate and the White House will stop the repeal. The vote does set up Washington for more bitter division and infighting.

A January 13 report by the Pew Research Center found that Americans now consider Asia as the region of the world most important to U.S. interests, eclipsing Europe. Americans consider Asia more important by 47 percent to 37 percent, a flip-flop from attitudes in the 1990s. Of those polled, 34 percent were very interested in news from China, compared to France (6 percent), Germany (11 percent), Italy (11 percent) and even Great Britain (17 percent). In spite of flying under the radar of the average American, Europe is destined to come on the scene suddenly as an unexpected superpower.

Besides eight convenient locations in the downtown area, a Google search for “Philadelphia abortion doctor” this week returned Dr. Kermit Gosnell. Gosnell and his staff were charged Wednesday with a horrific litany of monstrous crimes. Gosnell’s so-called Women’s Medical Society clinic was a filthy, unsanitary hovel that had documented health violations as early as 1989. Officials continued to discover violations thereafter, but stopped checking abortion clinics altogether in 1993 for political reasons. For almost two more decades, Gosnell continued to hire unlicensed workers and allowed them to administer anesthesia and even perform operations when he was not present. When law enforcement finally visited the clinic last year, they found a dirty clinic, gruesome areas where operations took place and jars and bags stuffed with dead fetuses. Gosnell and his staff are known to have performed late-term abortions and on at least seven occasions, when the baby was born healthy, his or her neck was cut using scissors. State officials received numerous complaints about the “clinic,” but did not shut it down or suspend Gosnell’s license, even after a woman died of an anesthesia overdose. Only when the state finally investigated reports of the doctor selling pain pill prescriptions that were valuable on the black market did police stumble on the horror show.

U.S. aerospace giant Boeing said Thursday that it will cut about 1,100 jobs over the next two years as it slows production of the C-17 military transport aircraft. About 900 of the planned job cuts are expected to be made at Boeing’s C-17 final assembly facility in Long Beach, California. The remainder of the cuts will probably occur in Arizona, Georgia and Missouri. According to a Gallup study released Wednesday, U.S. unemployment is now higher than unemployment in Britain, Russia, Japan or Germany. Watch for civil unrest to rise as people get more and more desperate for money. Many economists predict that unemployment will continue to rise in the near future. Historically, mass unemployment has led to mass unrest—and political and social upheaval.

In a landmark court ruling last Tuesday, Judge Andrew Rutherford admitted that the laws of England are no longer based upon Judeo-Christian principles, but on the evolving values of the British people. “Those Judeo-Christian principles, standards and beliefs which were accepted as normal in times past are no longer so accepted,” stated Rutherford. “Things have radically changed since the days of Queen Victoria or even, for that matter, since the days of her grandson King George v.” The case Judge Rutherford was ruling on revolved around a Peter and Hazel Mary Bull, a British couple who used their house as a hotel. The two had a policy, based on their Christian values, where they would only let married couples rent a room with a double bed. They told a homosexual couple that because of this policy they could not have a room with a double bed. Judge Rutherford ruled that this homosexual couple had been discriminated against based on their sexual orientation. “A great deal has … happened since King Alfred and his Saxon laws, and even more has changed since Moses, King Solomon and Jesus Christ walked upon this Earth,” he said. This rejection of the values of Moses and Jesus Christ is already wreaking havoc on Britain, and things will only get much worse.

Timely Attacks on Guttenberg

Timely Attacks on Guttenberg

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Predictably, a rash of items has hit the press stimulated by enemies of Germany’s defense minister on the eve of important state elections in February and March.

It’s like a rerun of the Kunduz affair. As Germany approaches important elections that could result in changes in its state governments impacting heavily on the makeup of its federal coalition government, the enemies of Germany’s most popular politician are seeking to blacken his name.

Seven elections for Germany’s state parliaments are slated for 2011. They are Hamburg on February 20, Saxony-Anhalt on March 20, Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate March 27, Bremen May 22, Berlin September 18 and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern set for the autumn of this year.

Polls indicate that Merkel’s coalition partner, the Free Democratic Party (fdp), led by Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, is in deep trouble in terms of loss of voter support. Her own party, the Christian Democratic Union (cdu), is also lagging in the polls. A stream of bad results in the February and March elections—especially in the crucial Baden-Wurttemberg and Rhineland industrial region—could even lead to pressure being put on Westerwelle by his being scapegoated for the result, thus forcing him to step down as fdp leader. This would place his government portfolio, the crucial Foreign Ministry, up for grabs.

Realizing that he is treading a political tightrope—a situation not lost on Chancellor Merkel—Westerwelle and his party allies may well be resorting to dirty tricks to impact the huge popularity of his political enemy, the Christian Social Union bright light, Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg. Of course it would not be beyond possibility that the Greens and others who might vie for the position of Westerwelle’s replacement could also be up to tricks to besmirch Guttenberg’s name.

Why consider such a possibility? Firstly, it’s unusual for such a rash of negative headlines to hit the press over such a short span of time geared against one particular politician and in such close proximity to the upcoming state elections in Germany. Over the past few days, rumors of a mutiny at sea involving a German naval crew, a story regarding the mail of German troops based in Afghanistan being tampered with in transit, and an alleged cover-up on the questionable mode of death of a Bundeswehr soldier serving in Afghanistan, have all suddenly surfaced. This leaves the defense minister having to seek answers for his own political defense. The timing appears to be no mere coincidence. There are undoubted politics at play here, and politics is a dirty game, even dirtier when someone’s political future is at stake.

Last week the tension between Guttenberg and Westerwelle came to the fore over what Spiegel Online termed the “continuation of the petty war between Guttenberg and Westerwelle” (January 14; translation ours). The subject was disagreement over the use of Bundeswehr personnel in the planned ifor awacs deployment in Afghanistan. In this and other political “spats,” Spiegel Online notes that “Guttenberg, in opinion polls on the very top, has a critical advantage. With his open attitude … he will end up being on the safe side.”

Based on past performances, Guttenberg will ride out these latest storms and come up smiling, squeaky clean once again in the public eye, as has been his politically elegant habit to date.

So what’s at stake here?

Of the 12 chancellors that Germany has had since the end of World War ii, five first held the office of minister for foreign affairs. Of the 15 ministers of defense, only two gained the chancellorship, Schröder and Schmidt, who, coincidentally, each also had held the Foreign Ministry portfolio. This history is interesting to note in relation to Guttenberg’s political future.

In 2011 Germany heads into rough economic waters which stand to heavily impact its international relations globally as the Fatherland works to consolidate its hold on European economies. In the process, the German government will have to maintain a delicate balance with its global financial and trading partners.

Foreign affairs are going to be of prime importance to Germany during this vital year. It is a year that will see Germany work to restructure Europe to its own preferred model. This will require real finesse in the foreign-policy arena. It has become patently obvious that Guido Westerwelle is not up to the job. It is difficult to see him lasting beyond March, if that. Public support for Westerwelle within Germany could hardly be lower at present. Also, he has won few if any friends among the cadre of his fellow foreign ministers on the international scene.

Where can Chancellor Merkel turn for a replacement foreign minister, faced as she is with a drubbing at the upcoming state polls in Germany, much of it perhaps due to the weak performance of the minister presently holding that portfolio?

Can anyone match Defense Minister Guttenberg for the Foreign Ministry? He has for long been the foreign-policy guru of his own party, the Bavarian-based Christian Social Union. Is it feasible that Merkel would call on him and place him at the tender age of 39 in the foreign minister’s role? This is the vice chancellor’s spot. If Merkel does make this choice—and if Guttenberg’s popularity continues at its present high level—she would have to then know that this young Frankish aristocrat would soon be breathing down her neck with his eye on the chancellorship.

In reality, with pending losses for the cdu/fdp alliance at the February-March polls, Merkel would also have to know that her chances for reelection in 2013 range between slim and none. So why would she not seek to make the most obvious and popular choice in replacing Westerwelle with Guttenberg, in the process raising her own popularity? The nation would toast her choice and she could then comfortably cruise in the shadow of Germany’s rising political star on into retirement within two years.

Time will tell. But this is certainly an interesting scenario to contemplate.

Watch Germany over the next two months for the outcome. It may have very significant bearing on not only European, but global affairs over the next few years.

Our booklet Nahum—An End-Time Prophecy for Germany would be a timely read in the meantime.

Vladimir Putin Forges an Alliance With BP to Explore the Arctic

Vladimir Putin Forges an Alliance With BP to Explore the Arctic

Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images

As Washington resists efforts by U.S. energy companies to push forward into the Arctic, other countries are moving in—and leaving the U.S. behind.

Nine months after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, BP is making a statement that it does not intend to cede its position at the forefront of deepwater drilling in the face of U.S. hostility.

This statement comes in the form of a business deal with the Russian state-owned energy giant Rosneft—a deal in which both BP and Rosneft sign away almost £5 billion of their shares to each other. The deal, which was personally approved by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin Friday last week, gives the Kremlin a slice of ownership of BP’s global operations, which stretch from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico, North Africa, Azerbaijan and the North Sea. In Washington, the State Department is already facing calls to investigate whether the Russian government’s links with BP pose a national security threat. As Republican Congressman Michael Burgess pointed out, BP is one of the biggest energy suppliers of the U.S. military.

The heart of this £10 billion transaction, however, is the opportunity it provides Russia to explore an energy frontier containing enough oil and natural gas to fuel Asian demand for five full years—the Arctic. “The Arctic, rich with oil and gas resources, belongs to Russia,” reports Rowena Marson in the Telegraph. “But only BP has the cutting-edge technical expertise to get the black gold out of the deep, icy wastes.” Now that the Kremlin has a controlling interest in BP, the resources of the Arctic are fair game for Vladimir Putin and Russia’s energy tycoons.

It is this news that BP is pushing forward in Sakhalin, and not in Alaska, that will be causing the biggest chill in the White House, according to Gal Luft, director of the Institute of Analysis of Global Security.

Russia sees energy as its main tool of national power and, as such, has crafted an energy policy for the Arctic—a region that could potentially hold up to 25 percent of the world’s oil and gas reserves.

National security documents released by the Kremlin in 2009 identified the intensifying battle for ownership of vast untapped oil and gas fields around Russia’s borders as a source of potential military conflict within a decade. “In a competition for resources it cannot be ruled out that military force could be used to resolve emerging problems that would destroy the balance of forces near the borders of Russia and her allies,” stated the document, which analyzed security threats up to 2020.

The United States, on the other hand, does not have a fully crafted policy on the Arctic and seems to lack the political will necessary to explore its Alaskan energy reserves. Yet, as Washington dillydallies and resists efforts by U.S. companies to push forward into the Arctic, other countries are moving in—and leaving the U.S. behind.

For more information on the role energy conflicts will play in the near future, please reference our article “The Battleground.”

The Man Who Became Israel

The Man Who Became Israel

PT

An important lesson from one who proved his love for God.

The patriarch Jacob is one of the most prominent personalities mentioned in Scripture. His name appears more often than his father Isaac—even more than his grandfather Abraham, the father of the faithful.

Jacob may not be referenced as frequently as King David, who is mentioned more than any other personality in the Bible except Jesus. But when you consider Jacob’s other biblical name, what a towering figure this man becomes!

The Bible is essentially a book about Israel—physical and spiritual. And Israel is the name God gave to Jacob at the point of his conversion.

Deception and Lies

Even before he was born, Jacob was a scrappy little fellow. Scripture relates that he and his older twin Esau were struggling while they were still in Rebekah’s womb (Genesis 25:22). He was actually born while grabbing hold of Esau’s heel on the way out, earning him the name Jacob, meaning tosupplant.

The Adam Clarke Commentary says the meaning of Jacob’s name foreshadowed the way he would go about obtaining the birthright—in a deceitful, fraudulent way.

Prior to his conversion, Jacob convinced his brother to sell his birthright for a bowl of soup. Later, when Isaac was prepared to give his blessing, Jacob colluded with his mother, Rebekah, to deceive Isaac into thinking he was Esau.

Rebekah already knew Jacob was destined to be greater than Esau (Genesis 25:23). But she didn’t have the faith to let God work things out His way. Jacob also lacked proper faith in God, trusting instead in the deceitful workings of his mother.

After they tricked Isaac into giving Jacob the blessing, a fuming Esau devised a plot to kill his own brother (Genesis 27:41). When Rebekah was made aware of this, she arranged for Jacob to flee to Haran.

In Genesis 29, we learn that Jacob settled down with his uncle Laban and eventually asked to marry his daughter, Rachel, in exchange for seven years’ labor (verse 18). The principles Jacob exhibited here of service and sacrifice—of working hard to achieve his goals—sharply contrast with those of his brother Esau, who was so quick to sell off his future for the here and now.

And yet, for as hard as he worked, at the end of those seven years, Jacob was tricked into marrying Laban’s other daughter, Leah (verse 25). Talk about the tables being turned—here the “supplanter” was himself a victim of a deceitful ploy. Just as he stole the birthright from Esau by unfair means and received Isaac’s blessing by a lying deception, so his father-in-law, Laban, deceived him. So Jacob agreed to put in another seven years for Rachel (verse 27).

Think of the lessons God must have driven home during that time about Jacob’s own problem with being deceitful and humanly reasoning his way around God’s purposes.

Jacob’s Conversion

In Genesis 32, Jacob left Laban to go his own way. Even after all these years, Jacob was still concerned that Esau might be after his life, so he sent messengers ahead of his caravan to try to contact Esau in advance. When the messengers returned, Jacob learned that Esau was on his way to meet him—along with 400 of his men (verse 6). Afraid for his family’s well-being, Jacob turned to God for a way out (verses 9-11).

It was the right decision.

After beseeching God, Jacob picked 550 of the choicest cattle, goats, sheep, burros and camels. Then he divided each kind of stock into groups, and each group was sent out at a different time to approach Esau as one of several gifts (verses 13-18).

One of the lessons here is that when we get into trouble, we must immediately go to God first—and then, do what we can to work our way out of it. We can’t just wait around to see what happens—we must be proactive, both spiritually and physically.

It was during these busy preparations that Jacob had another confrontation that ended up being the greatturning point of his life. Notice verse 24: “And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a man with him until the breaking of the day.”

In the middle of the night, the one who became Jesus Christ (Hosea 12:3-5) actually seized Jacob and held him down as though trying to prevent him from completing his trip to Canaan. Before long, Jacob and his “attacker” were engaged in an intense wrestling match.

God, here, was testing Jacob to see if he would give up as easily as his brother Esau had. He wanted to see how highly Jacob esteemed the birthright blessings.

The account continues in verse 25: “And when he [the one who became Christ] saw that he prevailed not against him, he touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob’s thigh was out of joint, as he wrestled with him.”

“Touched” there means to strike with force. When Jesus Christ saw that He could not prevail against Jacob, He jolted Jacob’s thighbone right out of its socket! What a perfect opportunity for Jacob to finally give up and let go.

But notice what happened in verse 26: “And he [Christ] said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he [Jacob] said, I will not let thee go, except thou bless me.”

I will not let go! What a warrior Jacob had become!

Now notice—it was immediately after this that Christ proclaimed, “Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed” (verses 27-28).

Jacob, in other words, had to qualify for a family name as great as Israel, which means a warrior or soldier of God—or a champion for God.

Previously, his name meant he would supplant others by nipping at their heels—by taking advantage of people unfairly. Israel, on the other hand, means one who prevails or overcomes!

What a beautiful type all of this was! As Paul wrote in Galatians 6:16, true Christians today are called the Israel of Godwe are spiritual Israelites. In that context, think about your own spiritual wrestling match—your commitment to God and His commandments; your willingness to earnestly pray and study every day—to put God’s way of life into diligent practice.

Now think of the remarkable change that takes place in the life of one who truly converts to God’s way of thinking and living. Doesn’t Jacob’s own example demonstrate how dramatic the change is in someone who becomes converted?

God is testing all of us to see if we will stubbornly hold on to Christ and demand our blessing—or if we will casually give it all up for a bowl of soup, as so many thousands of people have done in this end time.

Jacob may well have gone limping for the rest of his life after that life-changing moment. He was most certainly sore the next day (verses 31-32). God wanted him to remember that divine blessings do not come without a great deal of difficulty and hardship. The Christian life, after all, is not the smooth and easygoing way!

We must fight and struggle to live God’s way—just like the man who became Israel.

The Bible Story, printed by Herbert W. Armstrong years ago, sums up the lesson beautifully: “[Jacob] proved by his physical wrestling that he had the strength of character to overcome his spiritual problems. The wrestling match was a test of character! … God wouldn’t give His blessing and a birthright to a man who had taken them from a weaker brother unfairly. Therefore He appeared as a man to give Jacob the chance to prove himself with one who appeared as his equal.”