The Real Reason Germany Wants to Buy the NYSE

The biggest symbol of America’s economic might is on the auction block. Guess why the likely buyer wants it.
From the April 2011 Trumpet Print Edition

It will be a day that will go down in infamy. The biggest symbol of America’s economic might—the preeminent institution of Anglo-Saxon financial domination—is about to be sold.

And to a German rival.

No institution represents America like the New York Stock Exchange. It is the home of capitalism. And through the years, by and large it has served America well. No other country in the world has generated so much wealth so quickly. Sure, the super-rich have a disproportionate share of it, but—knock capitalism as you might—it has also generated the largest middle class in history.

Throughout most of its 219 years, the New York Stock Exchange has also powered the growth of exceptional American corporations, connecting them with deep pools of financing to power rapid expansion—and just as importantly, punishing those companies that refused or were unable to adapt and innovate. For better or worse, it is the tool that has helped keep American companies sharp, competitive and accountable.

And now, the nyse is dying a very capitalistic death.

When the bell chimes for the last time at American-owned 11 Wall Street, it will be an ominous, portent-filled day. But probably not for the reason you think.

Where U.S. and German Media Disagree

American media are selling the story as a merger of equals. The new combined company will be the world’s largest exchange group by revenues—valued at over $25 billion. The chief executive officer will come from the nyse group, while the chairman will come from Deutsche Börse.

But that is where the equality ends.

In Germany, it is being reported as a takeover through and through. The “merger of equals” talk is window dressing to keep Americans happy. Sixty percent of the new merged company will be composed of shareholders of Deutsche Börse—giving them the voting power. The current plans may call for New York to remain a head office to supplement Deutsche Börse’s regional hubs in Frankfurt and Paris. But the reality is that both Paris and New York will become little more than token headquarters for the new company.

“There is going to be no ‘triangle concept’ here,” one source told the Financial Times (February 11).

The only triangle concept will be that of a pyramid—with Frankfurt on top. “New York is going to be important, but it’s not the financial center,” says Michael La Branche, a member of a family-run firm that has traded on the floor of the nyse for 87 years.

But even before the merger, about half of the nyse group’s shareholders were already European. In 2006, nyse merged with Euronext, consolidating New York with exchanges in Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Lisbon, along with a futures exchange in London. Now if the Deutsche Börse deal goes through, U.S. shareholders may own even less. Plus, more than half of the board of directors will come from Deutsche Börse.

The baton of economic leadership is being passed again: From London to New York in 1919, and now from New York to Frankfurt in 2011.

According to some experts, U.S. regulators most likely won’t be able to block the nyse sellout either. Just a few years ago they approved the nyse merger with Euronext. Plus, as the Financial Times brought out, there is “‘good support’ at the highest political level in Germany” for the deal. So U.S. regulators would risk offending an important trade partner and ally if they blocked the deal.

What is happening to America? Has it really lost so much economic strength that a company from a nation once bombed to rubble is now purchasing the institution that helped raise the funds to make America’s war effort possible?

Is This a Strategic Risk?

Questions regarding national security arise in light of an international deal such as this. For its part, the German government has said that since the two companies involved in the sellout are private, it will only have a “limited” role in the new entity.

But as our August 2006 article “Will the U.S. Lose the NYSE?” asked, “What if relations between America and Europe were to become strained? Is it unrealistic to be worried that foreign interests, in a position to sabotage America’s largest stock exchange, would be tempted to do so?”

Even beyond just sabotaging markets, think of all the data on U.S. companies that foreign interests would be able to mine. Already the nyse sells high-speed access to its computers to hedge funds so they can trade a fraction of a second ahead of regular customers, according to the Daily Finance.

Yet here is perhaps the most ominous part about the deal.

The Germans probably don’t even want the New York Stock Exchange!

For all the patriotic flag-waving that has ensued over the impending loss of the nyse, the truth is that it has been in dramatic decline for decades. Scandals have shattered its reputation, and its profitability is shrinking. The last few years were especially devastating. Since the Wall Street meltdown in 2008, even Americans disparage it. In 2005, it handled 80 percent of all trading in stocks it listed; now it handles less than a quarter. As a public company, its stock has plummeted 64 percent since it was listed.

Its business model is broken too. With the march of technology, there is nothing New York does that cannot be done elsewhere for less: less cost, less regulation, and less taxation.

The sad, simple truth is that New York is no longer the coveted economic crown jewel it once was. It is more like tarnished costume jewelry—pretty to wear, but not worth much.

German companies don’t even bother listing in New York anymore. Deutsche Telekom was the latest to pull out on June 18 of last year. Daimler called it quits a couple of weeks before that. Of the 11 firms on Germany’s dax index (its biggest blue-chip companies) once listed in New York, only four still think it is worth the effort.

The Real Prize for Germany

For Deutsche Börse, the real prize is in what nyse Euronext owns—with the emphasis on Euronext.

In 2006, the nyse and Deutsche Börse fought over control of Euronext, which owned the Paris, Amsterdam, Lisbon and Brussels stock exchanges as well as a derivatives exchange in London. Deutsche Börse officials touted the potential Euronext tie-up as the creation of a “truly pan-European exchange organization” and “significant step forward in the integration of European financial markets” (Agence France-Presse, May 22, 2006; emphasis mine).

New York won the battle when it thwarted Deutsche Börse and merged with Euronext.

Five years later, Deutsche Börse looks like it is about to win the war. Deutsche Börse is about to get Euronext after all—and the nyse, for whatever that is worth.

And from Germany’s perspective, it couldn’t have come at a better time. With much of the periphery of Europe in economic crisis, Germany is pushing for greater economic union—on its terms. In return for bailout money, Germany is forcing indebted countries to turn over national sovereignty. Gaining ownership over the largest stock exchanges in Europe will just add additional firepower to Germany’s already impressive financial weaponry. In the years ahead, the European Union is set to become a much more German-looking institution.

If this merger goes through, the stock exchanges in Amsterdam, Paris, Lisbon, Brussels, Frankfurt and nine other European countries will all fall under control of Germany’s Deutsche Börse. And that is not all.

The Deutsche Börse will also gain control of the former Euronext derivatives unit Liffe. Once combined with Deutsche Börse’s derivatives units, the new company will dominate the global derivatives market, which the Bank of International Settlements estimated at an astounding $1.28 quadrillion notional value in 2008.

A Glimpse of America’s Real Value

But if Germany isn’t really even interested in the New York Stock Exchange (except for maybe its little remaining prestige), what does that say about America? It means America is no longer the preeminent economic superpower it thinks it is.

“This will further confirm in the minds of the world political and financial leaders that gaping U.S. budget and trade deficits, and all the foreign borrowing and high unemployment that results, are significant attributes of an economic superpower in decline,” says Peter Morici, a University of Maryland professor of business.

Morici is right. Americans sit and talk about patriotism and about how bad it is that one of their icons should be sold, but that is missing the bigger point. America is falling so fast that its most famed financial institution is at best a side asset to Germany.

America is rapidly following Britain’s footsteps to becoming a second-rate power in a third-rate financial position bordering on untenable. Stock exchange or no stock exchange, Americans should be scared silly of ending up like the Brits. And both should fear the fate of a much earlier power: the doomed kingdom of Belshazzar.

You can read about it in Daniel 5. It read something like this: MeneMene Tekel Upharsin: “You are weighed in the balances, and are found wanting.”

Americans need to read the writing on the Wall Street. You know what happens next.

A Mysterious Prophecy

A Mysterious Prophecy

Are the Psalms only a book of charming poetry? Psalm 83 of the Bible is an end-time prophecy of Germany allying with several moderate Arab nations. It shows that these nations are about to get control of the Middle East! What they do after that is going to be the ultimate shock to America, Britain and the Jewish nation.
From the May 2011 Trumpet Print Edition

Psalm 83 is fulfilled almost immediately after a Germany-led Europe conquers Iran and radical Islam (Daniel 11:40-43).

“Keep not thou silence, O God: hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God. For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head. They have taken crafty counsel against thy people [Israel], and consulted against thy hidden [or sheltered] ones” (Psalm 83:1-3).

These enemies are conspiring against biblical Israel. (Our book The United States and Britain in Prophecy explains who Israel is. All of our literature is free.)

These enemies are also against God’s hidden (or treasured) ones. This is God’s very elect, who are always in the midst of the storm explaining what it all means. This little flock explains the significance of deadly world events. However, most people pay little attention until they become victims!

The world could understand all of these terrible end-time events if they would find this very elect and heed their Bible-based warning! That is not hard to do, since it is the only real Bible-based warning going to this world!

We see terrifying events all around the world, and they are intensifying. But all that bad news is a sign of the best news mankind could possibly hear: The Messiah is about to come and save us! (Matthew 24:3, 21-22).

“They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance” (Psalm 83:4).

Israel today is comprised of 12 nations. But this end-time prophecy is directed to only three of them. The little nation called Israel is only one of those three nations; America and Britain are the other two (The United States and Britain in Prophecy explains).

These peoples’ enemies want to cut them off from being a nation (they are the descendants of the ancient nation of Israel). Their enemies don’t even want the world to remember the name of Israel!

The leader of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has vowed to wipe the Jewish nation off the map. The enemies of Psalm 83 have what appears to be an even deeper hatred. They even want to obliterate the biblical name of Israel forever!

This prophecy gives us an insight into what is coming in the very near future: the Great Tribulation and the times of the Gentiles (Matthew 24:21; Luke 21:24). God is going to punish these three nations of Israel more severely than at any time in their history, because of all their “abominations.”

Who Is In the Alliance

“For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee: The tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites; of Moab, and the Hagarenes; Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre [Lebanon]; Assur [Assyria or Germany] also is joined with them: they have holpen the children of Lot. Selah” (Psalm 83:5-8). Here are the modern names of these nations, as taught at Ambassador College under Herbert W. Armstrong: Edom—Turkey; Ishmaelites—Saudi Arabia; Moab—Jordan; Hagarenesanciently dwelt in the land known as Syria today; GebalLebanon; Ammon—also Jordan. (We cannot be extremely precise in this understanding, but it gives a good general idea of where these nations are today.)

Remember this: God inspired these names to be included in the Bible so we could know who they are and how this prophecy would unfold today! We are commanded to live by “every word” of God. If we can’t understand who these nations are, we can’t understand the 83rd Psalm. God expects us to understand!

Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Libya and Ethiopia are missing from this list. They will be allied with Iran when they are conquered by a German-led Europe (Daniel 11:42-43).

It appears Iraq, with its massive oil reserves, will be solidly in the Iranian camp. I have predicted this would happen since the early 1990s!

Assur was the father of Assyria, which is the ancient name of Germany. (We prove the identity of these nations in our booklets The King of the South and Germany and the Holy Roman Empire.)

Psalm 83 tells us the nations that will not be allied with Iran when Germany and Europe conquer that nation and radical Islam.

There has never been such an alliance to attack or totally destroy Israel in history. Concerning this Psalm, the Anchor Bible reads, “History transmits no record of the national crisis when the nations enumerated in this Psalm formed a league to wipe out Israel ….” Lange’s Commentary points out, “The 10 nations who are here enumerated as being combined against Israel, are never mentioned elsewhere as enemies allied at the same time and for the purpose of annihilating Israel.” Other commentaries make the same point.

This must be an end-time prophecy!

Most of the Muslims were allied with Germany in World War ii. They knew what Hitler was doing to the Jews, and we know the way many Muslims feel toward the Jews today. Since America and Britain support the Jews, it is not difficult to envision the Muslims and Germans allying against these two nations.

This means that the Germans have already turned politically toward their Nazi past (proved in our booklet The Rising Beast). But they are going to swing even further to the right than they did during World War ii!

This world needs to watch Germany.

The moderate Arabs today are going to share that hate-filled philosophy with Germany.

Still, God is using these nations to accomplish His plan—a big part of it being the correction of three nations of Israel.

We must not forget that Germany started World Wars i and ii. It also has a history of starting many other wars. History keeps repeating itself because we never learn its lessons!

Alliance Prepared Now

Back in our July 2010 issue, we wrote this: “The Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah toured Europe in late April and early May, concentrating on developing closer relations with Berlin and the Roman Catholic Church.

“During his meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and German businessmen on April 28, he is reported to have discussed ‘a host of bilateral relations that would cement partnership between Kuwait and Berlin’ (Kuwait Times, April 28). A Catholic official said his trip to the Vatican would enable the emir and the pope to ‘express their appreciation and friendship’ and to strengthen the ‘good relations that exist between the Holy See and Kuwait.’”

This is a powerful example of how Psalm 83 is being fulfilled even now! Such meetings are preparing the two sides to form the Psalm 83 alliance.

The April 2010 Trumpet magazine said this: “For some time, France had limited Germany’s effort in producing warships by stifling plans for a joint Franco-German effort to create a common European shipbuilding enterprise. The typical (and no doubt strategically motivated) French defiance over this deal led to a crisis. This spurred one of the German companies involved, ThyssenKrupp, to ‘renounce civilian ship production to concentrate its dockyards solely on arms production. It is entering a “strategic partnership” with the Abu Dhabi Mar Co. from the United Arab Emirates (uae). Their deal seals the military alliance between Germany and the Emirates, possibly creating the opportunity for circumventing German arms exports regulations and ending efforts aimed at forging a German/French ship production …’ (German-Foreign-Policy.com, Oct. 26, 2009). As German-Foreign-Policy.com observed, this just goes to show that ‘If a German-dominated “European solution” cannot be accomplished, Berlin will do without “Europe” and go it alone.’”

Not many people notice how powerfully aggressive Germany is becoming. This example helps illustrate how Germany dominates Europe today!

Here is an even more recent statement about Germany’s close relationship with another moderate Arab state: “Germany has supplied Bahrain with naval patrol boats dating back to the time the Middle East was destabilized by the deposing of the shah of Iran. In more recent years, German arms exports to Bahrain have been stepped up, especially arms of a type traditionally used to put down insurrection. It is from this stock of armaments that Bahrain has drawn for deployment against the Shiite rebels in recent days” (theTrumpet.com, March 21).

On February 22, German-Foreign-Policy.com reported on rumors that Rheinmetall, the German armaments giant, is bidding on a contract for the further provision to Bahrain of “combat material specifically deemed for the suppression of rebellions.”

These tiny oil-rich nations discussed above are geographically attached to the southeast part of the huge land area of Saudi Arabia. We believe they are also Ishmaelites and from a biblical perspective would be considered a part of Saudi Arabia—regardless of their modern boundaries. The main issue is that Germany is building an alliance now with the moderate Arabs that is paving the way for the Psalm 83 prophecy to be fulfilled.

Saudi Arabia is also drawing closer to Germany to enhance its own security against Iran as America gets weaker and continues to withdraw from the Middle East.

The mystery of the Psalm 83 prophecy is being removed.

‘This Circle of Horror and River of Tears’

‘This Circle of Horror and River of Tears’

MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images

An escalation in violence sends a chilling message to Israel.
From the May 2011 Trumpet Print Edition

What kind of sick mind would brutally murder women, children and infants in their own home with a knife? And what kind of sick people would celebrate it?

These are questions Israel and the world need to be asking after the March 11 murder of five members of a Jewish family living in the Israeli town of Itamar.

Against the backdrop of a region in turmoil, with protests and revolutions toppling one government after another, in March Israel was thrust into the middle of the maelstrom. The Itamar massacre, bad as it was, actually served as an ominous warning of more to come. Soon after, Hamas resumed launching rockets at southern Israel. Then, on March 23, a bomb exploded at a Jerusalem bus stop, killing a British woman and injuring more than 30 others—the first time in nearly seven years that the city was hit by a bomb.

Added together, these attacks represent a deliberate escalation of violence against Israel.

And looming larger than ever before, behind the scenes, is the Islamic Republic of Iran. From the very beginning of the region-wide turmoil that started in December, Iran has been covertly working to first destabilize, and then dominate, the entire Middle East.

With this in mind, what a perfect time this is for it to provoke another conflict with the Jewish state.

Nightmare in Itamar

The facts of the Itamar murders are appalling and nauseating. That Friday evening, just after the Sabbath began, terrorists jumped an Israeli security fence to enter the West Bank town. They broke into a home there, apparently chosen at random, and found Udi Fogel, age 36, sleeping in bed holding his 3-month-old daughter, Hadas.

They slit both of their throats.

When Udi’s wife, Ruth, emerged from the bathroom, they stabbed her to death.

They then moved through the house and found a bedroom with two of the Fogels’ sons: Yoav, age 11, was reading in bed and Elad, age 3, was sleeping. They slashed Yoav’s throat and stabbed Elad twice through the heart.

Apparently the terrorists didn’t see two more Fogel boys—Roi, 6 years old, sleeping on the living room couch, and Yishai, just 2 years old, asleep in another bedroom. They fled the house without harming them.

The Fogels’ 12-year-old daughter, Tamar, was at a youth event with some friends. When she came home two hours later, she found the door locked. She woke up Roi by calling through the living room window. When he let her in and she went to the bedrooms, she saw the blood-soaked horror and ran from the house screaming.

The incident stunned the entire nation. At the Fogels’ funeral just two days later, the cemetery in Jerusalem was filled with thousands of Jewish mourners.

In his heartfelt address, Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau spoke to Tamar directly: “In one cruel hour, you have become a little mother. You are now the mother of little Roi and Yishai, and you are only 12 years old.”

He also addressed a nation stricken with grief. “We’ve made it 63 years, we’ve declared a state and won independence and founded a glorious army,” Lau said, “and still this circle of horror and river of tears is flowing, and we stand helpless with a feeling that is impossible to put into words.”

This tragedy received scant attention amid coverage of the tsunami that hit Japan the very same day, along with a dizzying torrent of other earthshaking news. But it uniquely highlighted the savagery of the Middle East conflict and the insurmountable odds stacked against the Jewish state.

More disturbingly, when one looks at the biblical prophecies of what awaits Israel in the time ahead, the Itamar murders are, sadly, only a foretaste of what is coming upon the whole nation.

“We stand helpless” is about to prove to be a sickening understatement.

Celebrating and Seeking Death

Who would commit such an incomprehensibly barbaric act?

The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade claimed responsibility. This is the terrorist wing of Fatah. (Some members of the group later retracted this claim.)

Fatah is the political party of Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas is chairman of the Palestinian Authority and supposed partner in the “peace process” with Israel.

Abbas responded to the butchery by denying that the PA incites violence against Israel.

This claim is ridiculous, undermined by mounds of proof. The very day of the Fogels’ funeral, Fatah officials named a town square in Ramallah after a woman terrorist who led a 1978 attack that killed 37 Israelis. Just two months before, Abbas himself awarded $2,000 to the family of a terrorist who tried to kill Israeli soldiers. He said in December, “We have frankly said, and always will say, if there is an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, we won’t agree to the presence of one Israeli in it.”

Meanwhile, the other major force in Palestinian politics, Hamas, celebrated the Fogels’ murders by handing out candy and sweets on the streets of Gaza. One resident described the slayings as “a natural response to the harm settlers inflict on the Palestinian residents in the West Bank.” Murdering children and infants—to these Palestinians, this is a “natural response” to housing construction.

Hamas spoke on its website about the homicides—but what it posted in English differed markedly from what it posted in Arabic. Its terse English statement denied any connection to the attack, and even suggested that Palestinians may not have carried it out. In Arabic, however, the message was more eloquent, openly praising the “Palestinian mujahid” (“holy” warrior) for being “able to break into the usurper (settlement) of ‘Itamar’ south of Nablus in the occupied (West) Bank” and stab “five Zionist usurpers.” Zionist usurpers, that is, like 3-year-old Elad and 3-month-old Hadas.

Al Mutarjim, who translated this Arabic-language statement into English, noted that the post received dozens of comments, all of which applauded the murders. A sample: “Allah is great, to Allah be the praise. The separate factions of the resistance should change their tactics, and rely more heavily on individual operations, which cannot be detected and thwarted by the lackeys of the authorities, rather than forming cells. They should devise new methods for combat by knife, strangulation, breaking necks, poison, and every method which is not known by your enemy.”

Another read: “Allah is great, and to Allah be the praise. May you prosper, o mujahid. May Allah preserve you, and remove the eyes of the Jews and their agents far from you.”

These are the people that Israel is apparently meant to appease by engaging them in the “peace process” and offering concessions to their leaders. People who glory in the massacre of Jewish babies.

Circle of horror, indeed.

Israel’s Wound

These events are only the latest bits on a mountain of macabre evidence showing the utter folly of the Jews ever trying to negotiate their way to a peaceful coexistence with the Palestinians—a people saturated in hatred and hostility toward their very being. The idea that peace will come if only Israel stops building, or retreats from more land, or allows more Arabs to move into the country, has no grounds. The overwhelming evidence shows that the Palestinians simply do not want and will not accept a peace deal with the Jews.

The Jews’ realization of the impossibility of negotiating a two-state solution with the Arabs has been washing over them in stages in recent years. While caving in to pressure yet again and again, the recognition that the peace process has in fact wounded the nation—sapped Israel’s strength, depleted Israel’s land, and exhausted Israel’s will to fight and survive—is dawning.

This realization was specifically prophesied in your Bible. The prophecy is recorded in Hosea 5:13: “When … Judah [the biblical name for today’s Jewish State of Israel] saw his wound, then went Ephraim to the Assyrian, and [Judah] sent to [Assyrian] king Jareb ….” Longtime Trumpet readers know that Gerald Flurry has pointed to Judah’s “wound” being the peace process ever since the Oslo talks in 1993.

Hosea’s prophecy reveals a moment when Israel sees its deadly wound—it recognizes the folly of the paradoxical “peace” process—and acts in desperation. That moment is getting closer. As we explain in our free booklet Jerusalem in Prophecy, this will result in a devastating outcome for the Jewish state.

The Jews would do well to heed. In the prophetic picture, the Itamar massacre once again serves as an ominous warning of worse to come.

On to Jerusalem

The escalating tensions between the Palestinians and Jews have already been compared to the run-up to Operation Cast Lead two years ago. Israel responded to the rocket attacks in March by firing missiles at launching pads in Gaza.

“No country would be prepared to absorb protracted missile fire on its cities and civilians, and of course the State of Israel is not prepared to,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu explained. “It could be that this matter will entail exchanges of blows, and it may take a certain period of time, but we are very determined to strike at the terrorist elements and deny them the means of attacking our citizens.”

Outside of the commonly known support Iran provides Hamas and several other terrorist groups, including some in the West Bank, no publicly available evidence directly links Tehran to the Itamar murders, the Gaza rocket assault, or the Jerusalem bus bombing. Nevertheless, if these provocations had been specifically calculated to bait Israel into retaliating against the Palestinians, they couldn’t have been any more effective in doing so. And the fact is, no one stands to benefit more from Israel’s response than Iran.

As Stratfor reported on March 23, Israeli retaliation could endanger the Israel-Egypt peace treaty, especially if Israel lashes out at Hamas in Gaza. “When looking at the unrest overall in the region, the one key ingredient that was missing was Israel. Israel is often the single unifying call for many on the Arab streets, and that is certainly something that a lot of Palestinian factions will be paying attention to right now,” Stratfor wrote. “Watch for groups like Hamas, Hezbollah and others in the region to escalate attacks in an effort to provoke a military confrontation with Israeli forces, create a crisis for Egypt through the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, and threaten Israel on multiple fronts. This is something that could well play to the Iranian agenda and escalate the regional unrest overall.”

For over a decade and a half, the Trumpet’s editor in chief has warned us to watch for signs of Iran trying to seize Jerusalem. “The most precious jewel of Iran’s plan is to conquer Jerusalem,” he wrote in February 1995. “This would then galvanize the Islamic world behind Iran!”

Zechariah 14:2 prophesies that half of Jerusalem is going to fall. As our booklet Jerusalem in Prophecy explains, Zechariah is speaking of an impending, partial conquest of the Holy City by Islamic warriors—one that will precede a total conquest of the city by a European force.

As Iran works behind the scenes today to destabilize and dominate Middle Eastern nations in turmoil, realize this is all part of its plan to dismantle the obstacles to its taking Jerusalem.

However, remember also that in the final analysis, after the biblical nation of Judah has been punished, there will come a time when, as Isaiah prophesies, “the adversaries of Judah shall be cut off” (Isaiah 11:13). The Jews’ circle of horror will be broken. Their river of tears will at last run dry—when Jerusalem truly becomes a city of peace upon Christ’s return.

Glamorizing Gomorrah

Glamorizing Gomorrah

Ian Gavan/Getty Images

MTV’s Skins and our corrosive youth culture
From the May 2011 Trumpet Print Edition

Mtv says its new teen drama Skins “addresses real-world issues confronting teens in a frank way.” The “real-world issue” addressed in its pilot episode? A group of teenagers aiding their quirky, 16-year-old friend in his quest to lose his virginity with the assistance of prescription virility drugs.

The series chronicles a group of nine teenagers and their escapades with wild parties, drug use, underage sex, masturbation, homosexuality, voyeurism, grand theft auto, borderline date rape, etc. The fact that many of the Skins actors who are taking their clothes off are under 18 years old—which has media watchdogs decrying the exploitation of these underage actors—is only one of many reasons this show is such a corrosive, destructive force. Yet sadly, there is an audience for it.

mtv assigned Skins a tv-ma rating, and says “the show is specifically designed to be viewed by adults.” If that is true, then its depictions of underage actors engaging in sexual behavior is, by definition, encouraging pedophilia. In truth, though, the show is for teenagers. Among the impressive 3.3 million viewers its first episode drew, 1.2 million were younger than 18.

Bryan Elsley, creator of the show’s original British version, came up with the idea in 2005 when his 19-year-old son Jamie complained that nothing on tv was worth watching. Jamie dismissed all his father’s ideas for tv shows as “middle-class [expletive],” and suggested that his father create a show about teenagers as they really are. Elsley took his son’s advice, and the father-son duo went to work, relying largely on teenagers and those barely out of their teenage years to write the scripts.

For the U.S. version, Elsley employs 30 teenagers as consultants, and frequently solicits feedback from the Skins cult following. Even the show’s musical selections are made by a teenager. “We don’t make this up,” says Eleanor Zichy, a 15-year-old member of the Skins cast. “Sure, some of the experiences are exaggerated—it’s television. But all the material comes from real teenagers.” Does that sound like a series “designed to be viewed by adults”?

One especially destructive aspect of Skins is that, in this surreal teenage dream world, there are no consequences for bad decisions. Skins omits the hangovers, the pregnancies, the arrests and the venereal disease. Teenagers teach younger children to roll blunts. Adolescents are molested by a drug dealer but shrug it off cavalierly. A character almost lethally overdoses and, as she is being rushed to the hospital in a stolen suv, wakes up laughing, in perfect health, ready to return to her drug abuse. When the stolen vehicle careens into a river and sinks, the teenagers all float to the surface smiling. This consequence-free, adolescent fantasy life is a dangerous lie, certain to encourage more teens to try to make it their own reality.

Even worse, it idealizes dangerously twisted concepts of marriage and family, warping viewers’ ability to even properly understand and appreciate these glorious, God-given institutions!

Skins’ British version is far bolder than its U.S. counterpart in depictions of sex, abortion, self-mutilation and drug use, and has aired there for five seasons with virtually no controversy. Fans of the British show have been astonished at the protest in the U.S., and seem proud the uk didn’t get into such an uproar; many lambasted Americans for their prudery. Meanwhile, the uk has the fourth-highest teenage pregnancy rate in the world; one third of British girls have inflicted harm on themselves; one quarter of teenagers describe themselves as depressed, and three of four adults in the uk are afraid of British teenagers.

This show is perhaps the clearest example ever of a trend that educator Herbert W. Armstrong highlighted as far back as 1964: “Who determines what is ‘popular music’ today? The ‘teens.’ … Adolescents determine dancing trends, motion-picture themes, radio formats, and even advertisements and most fields of entertainment!” He spoke strongly against the abdication of responsible adult leadership, and the resultant destructive, sexually charged infusion of immature influence into mainstream culture. As true as Mr. Armstrong’s words rang back in 1964, they have become strikingly more accurate since.

Isaiah 3:12 prophesies that the children of the modern nations of Israel (especially the United States and Britain) would become “oppressors.” In verse 4, Isaiah warns that God will “give children to be their princes,” and that “babes shall rule over them.” The pervasive attitude young people have toward their elders in Western society is one of flagrant disrespect. Skins started with a seed of disrespect by Jamie Elsley toward his father, and the show has blossomed to become a wellspring of parent-resentment and disregard for adult authority.

When Isaiah prophesied that “babes shall rule over them,” he was also condemning the childish manner in which adults are ruling. Think of the immaturity that would lead 45-year-old Bryan Elsley to create Skins, and the myopic mentality of the executives, producers, editors, advertisers and others who brought it to life. Let’s create a show for our teenagers that glamorizes Gomorrah, these leaders have said. Rather than preparing adolescents to become adults, adults are behaving like adolescents.

American and British family life has been devastated by a radical revolution. Skins—and its audience of adults eager to watch raunchy teenagers misbehaving, and teens whose parents are too negligent to protect them from such poisonous material—proves that. But your home and family do not have to be counted among its victims. Moses recorded, in Deuteronomy 11:18-19, that parents must diligently teach children the biblical truths that lead to happy lives. This passage emphasizes that such instruction must be the foundation of a happy home, and that the teaching must be ongoing. This requires self-discipline on parents’ part—increasingly a rarity in modern society. Responsible, concerned parents must make a concerted effort to combat the corrosive influences of a toxic world in the lives of our families.

It’s High Time to Wake Up!

It’s High Time to Wake Up!

Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

Have you succumbed to the slumbering spirit of the age?

We live in a world gone mad. Just look at what’s happened this year alone. The collapse of Tunisia’s government in mid-January triggered a firestorm of protest and violence that is still burning across the Middle East. In Egypt, the United States forced Hosni Mubarak out of power and handed the nation over to the Muslim Brotherhood—a radical transformation theTrumpet.com has predicted for nearly 20 years.

In Libya, a headless coalition of Western nations has attacked the forces of long-time dictator Muammar Qadhafi. This misguided venture essentially aligns the U.S. with a network of Libyan rebels that is infested with al Qaeda operatives.

And al Qaeda’s response to President Obama? Thank you very much. In their latest English-language propaganda publication, called Inspire, one cleric writes, “Our mujahideen brothers in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and the rest of the Muslim world will get a chance to breathe again after three decades of suffocation.”

Of course, it is Iran—the number-one state sponsor of terrorism—that stands to benefit most from this rampant spread of radical Islam. Like al Qaeda’s leadership, the mullahs are delighted by the U.S. support for uprisings in Egypt and Libya. With momentum clearly on its side, Iran is now using its proxies to provoke war with Israel and fuel protests in Bahrain and Yemen, where it hopes to topple regimes that have had a long history of supporting American interests.

Iran’s only cause for concern, as Brad Macdonald wrote about yesterday, is in Syria, where a popular uprising threatens the government of Bashar Al-Assad—Iran’s partner in terror. To this point, Assad has managed to maintain control of the unrest by using live ammunition to mow down demonstrators in the streets.

It’s probably the only revolution in the Middle East that could actually advance American interests. And so America, in keeping with its recent string of strategic losses, has offered its unwavering support for Assad. When asked why America was backing the rebels in Libya, but not in Syria, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Sunday that Syria was different and that Bashar Al-Assad was a “reformer.”

Outside of the Middle East, meanwhile, in January, Australia sustained its worst flooding in history—a “biblical disaster,” according to the leading daily in Brisbane. In February, a devastating earthquake in New Zealand pretty much wiped out the central district of Christchurch. A quake of this ferocity is statistically estimated to strike just once every thousand years.

In March, another earthquake off the coast of Japan touched off one of the deadliest tsunamis in history, causing tens of thousands of deaths and leaving the Fukushima power plant teetering on the brink of full-scale nuclear meltdown.

These recent disasters follow hard on the heels of a record-breaking year of “natural” disasters in 2010. Last year, there were more disaster-related deaths than any other year on record. The Associated Press labeled it “the year the Earth struck back.”

And yet—even in the face of the real and frightful prospect of world war and these earthshaking jolts in different places, followed by famine and pestilence—our peoples have drifted into a deep slumber!

This week, during a YouTube interview, a journalist asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the following question: “If you could ask one question of a world leader, what would it be and to whom?” Netanyahu said he would ask Winston Churchill if anything different could have been done in order to awaken the world to the dangers of Nazism.

He speculated on how Churchill might have responded to that question: “Nah—nothing could have been done differently, because ultimately there’s such a thing as the slumber of democracies—they have to be banged on the head.” Netanyahu then said,

I feel that same frustration now, because I’ve been talking for 15 years about the danger of Iranian nuclear terrorism, how they could control the world’s oil supply, and how they threaten our country with obliteration and could do the same with others. You try, and you try, and you try, and I don’t want to say that there’s been no progress—but not the kind of mobilization that is required against something so great.

Without an understanding of Bible prophecy, it would be easy to get frustrated by the slumbering spirit that has drugged America and Britain. Look at how oblivious our people are to the terrifying dangers just ahead of us. Here we are at a time when Bible prophecies are being fulfilled almost by the week, and our peoples are soundly asleep!

We’ve been trumpeting these prophecies for over two decades, following in the footsteps of Herbert W. Armstrong, who prophesied before us for more than 50 years. And now that many of these very prophecies are being fulfilled, one would think our mail bins would be buried under piles of requests; that our phone lines would light up like Las Vegas; that our Web traffic would crash the servers.

Instead, it’s more like a steady trickle of interest—one from a city, two from a family, as the Prophet Jeremiah said. God’s work is still getting done. His warning message of love is still going out to this world.

But the support for that worldwide work is coming from such a tiny group of dedicated families.

Most do not make time for Christ or His good news message of the soon-coming Kingdom of God. They are too busy attending to the cares of this world. As the Apostle Paul said about the perilous times of these “last days,” men would love themselves and pleasure-seekingmore than God (2 Timothy 3:1-4). This doesn’t apply to every single individual, of course—but it certainly describes our society in general.

Amid all the Bible prophecies being fulfilled before our eyes, the fact that most people have blindfolded themselves to what is really happening in this world is, in itself, a prophetic sign that we are nearing the return of Jesus Christ!

Notice what Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:2: “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.” This means that Jesus Christ will intervene in the affairs of men at a time when most people least expect it!

Phillips translates part of verse 3 as saying, “Catastrophe will sweep down upon them as suddenly and inescapably as birth pangs to a pregnant woman.” All this happens when most people are lulled to sleep by illusions of peace and security. “For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night” (verse 7).

But to the rare individual who sees the great evil of this sin-drenched world, drunk on the pagan customs and traditions of men, and who is willing to forsake the ways of man and to turn to God in repentance, faith and obedience to His laws, summarized by the Ten Commandments, God offers a superabundant supply of love and mercy, life-changing revelation and truth and the only sure hope there is for any individual—as well as for this dying world!

Knowing the times we are living in, as Paul beseeched the brethren in Rome, “now it is high timeto awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” (Romans 13:11).

Now is the time to pour our hearts and energies into the study of God’s Word, to fervently seek God and His direction in our daily prayers and to faithfully abide by His commandments in our day-to-day living.

Look at this world! Look at the obsessive interest and boundless energy it has in pursuing the ways of sin.

Can’t we put some time-consuming, energetic devotion into our love and service to God and His great work?

Help Yourself to Radiant Health

How exercise profits the Christian life!
From the May 2011 Trumpet Print Edition

Do you have vibrant, radiant health? Perhaps you are handicapped or sick, or have some other physical ailment that prevents you from truly enjoying life. Maybe you are young, enjoying the blessing of youthful vitality and dynamism. Or are you feeling lethargic, tired and physically uninspired?

Whatever your current health, you need to understand deeply the importance of a key law of health: exercise.

The Need for Exercise

Sometimes 1 Timothy 4:8 is quoted as an argument against exercise: “For bodily exercise profiteth little ….” The correct rendering of this verse, however, is, “For bodily exercise profits for a little time.” The Apostle Paul acknowledged that exercise indeed profits, but compared to godliness, its benefits are temporary.

That is a wonderfully positive statement about both godliness and exercise! Certainly bodily exercise indeed profits for a little time: the time we are physical human beings!

The Apostle John wrote in 3 John 2, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.” Exercise is an important component of having such robust health.

The two basics types of exercise are anaerobic and aerobic. Generally, anaerobic activities—like weight lifting—build muscles. One of the benefits of weight-bearing exercise is the fact that it strengthens bones, something women who tend to lose a lot of calcium (resulting in osteoporosis) should be mindful of. Aerobic activities (which require continuous deep breathing) strengthen the cardiovascular system—the heart, lungs and liver. Typical aerobic exercises would be jogging and brisk walking. Some exercise programs combine these two types, doing strength-related activity with rapidity and intensity to encourage heavy breathing.

Aerobic exercise is particularly important to your health. Consider how hard it is for you to repeatedly open and close your hand. By repeatedly clenching, opening, clenching, and opening our fist, we can simulate the repetitive action of our heart. However, our heart doesn’t tire anywhere near as easily as our hand does. Our heart contracts and dilates at an average rate of 72 times a minute, 100,000 times a day, and close to 40 million times a year! No wonder King David said, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made …” (Psalm 139:14).

The heart, the most important life-sustaining organ, needs aerobic exercise to operate at peak performance. Adult Physical Fitness notes, “Muscles are meant to be used. When they are not used, or not used enough, they deteriorate.” Indeed, inaction demands a penalty. Eventually, if we don’t exercise, our heart becomes smaller and less efficient, pumping less blood; meanwhile, the bloodstream slows, delivers less oxygen to tissues, and eliminates less waste.

Of course, as we get older, it takes more effort to exercise. Children and other responsibilities can easily crowd it out. But consider the many benefits exercise can bring, and ask yourself whether it doesn’t deserve a higher priority in your life. Exercise can turn fat into fitness, fatigue into vitality, and worry about health into abundant, joy-filled living! Almost immediately, tired blood will be revived: The volume of our blood will increase, and blood flow will improve by about eight to ten times. Fatty substances in our blood (cholesterol and triglycerides) will be reduced, lessening danger of arterial blockage. Plus, our organs will convert food and oxygen into energy more rapidly. Exercise will also firm up muscles, improve posture, contribute to a better physical appearance, reduce minor aches and pains, headaches and stiffness, and help to make joints more flexible. In many cases, exercise helps to combat many chronic problems, such as arthritis, asthma, diabetes, emphysema, and other physical ailments. Exercise will also increase the efficient use of energy in physical and mental tasks.

For these reasons and so many more, exercise is vital to our ongoing wellbeing. As the ymca says, it may not add years to your life, but it may add life to your years.

Which Kinds?

What exercises are most beneficial for us, and how should we do them? Before we answer this question, consider the following. If you have any questions about whether you should exercise, it may be wise to get a physical check-up to determine how much and what type of exercise would be suitable for you—especially if you’re handicapped or ill. The Gospel writer Luke was a physician and would have been well-versed on the natural, physical laws of God that govern the human body (Colossians 4:14).

In starting any type of exercise program, use wisdom. Remember to start gradually; to begin with a warm-up period and end with a cool-off period; to stretch and relax—two often overlooked but vital components to building flexibility.

You may need to work up to this kind of pace, but it is ideal to exercise daily or at least several times a week. A good rule of thumb is 20 to 30 minutes of exercise three times a week.

What kind of exercise is beneficial? Anything is better than nothing. If all you can do is walk briskly, that is fantastic. If you can add more, or strive for more, then consider doing so as long as you don’t place your health at risk by going to extremes.

Generally, there are three types of exercises to keep in mind: warm-up, conditioning and circulatory exercises.

Warm-up exercises stretch and limber up muscles while also speeding up the action of the heart and lungs. They also prepare the body for greater exertion and reduce the possibility of unnecessary strain. Bends and stretches, knee lifts, arm circles, head and shoulder curls and ankle stretches are just a few of these exercises. These need not be done for too long.

Toe touches, sprinting, sitting stretches, push-ups and sit-ups are conditioning exercises. Conditioning exercises produce contractions of the large muscle groups for relatively longer periods than the warm-up exercises. Both the warm-up and conditioning exercises are generally considered anaerobic.

Finally, circulatory exercises stimulate and strengthen the circulatory (blood flow) and respiratory (breathing) systems. Walking, jumping rope, jog-walking, jogging and running all qualify. Cycling and swimming are also good choices.

Alternatively, if you have not been doing any exercises and would rather ease into the habit, consider modifying your daily activities. For instance, instead of parking your car closest to the door at work or the grocery store, park it farther away and walk that distance. Try taking the stairs at work rather than the elevator, or hand deliver a number of messages around the office rather than communicating only by e-mail and phone. Consider doing a little gardening around your home, or pick weeds out of your lawn. Each can add a little more exercise to your daily routine.

Once in an exercise mind-frame, consider using a variety of exercises and activities to avoid getting bored and losing motivation. The biggest challenge you will face is maintaining the ambition to continue an exercise program! A majority of people who start an exercise program quit within 6 to 12 months. However, the Apostle Paul encouraged us all to “not be weary in well doing” (Galatians 6:9). Some simple steps you can take to sustain motivation include: 1) set reasonable goals; 2) go for variety; 3) track your progress (this could include measuring anything from your body weight or your waistline to your time running a 5K); 4) seek support (exercise with a friend); 5) devise a back-up plan for when conditions don’t work out for your primary exercise.

Most of all, though, God’s perspective on health and the importance He places on exercise should be our biggest motivator! Here are some reasons why God wants us, if we can, to be physically fit.

• For ourselves and our physical family.

Without our health, it is difficult to do much else. Good health is the third law Herbert W. Armstrong outlined in his booklet The Seven Laws of Success (request your free copy). “If the bellows we call lungs do not keep inhaling and exhaling the oxygen-containing air, man won’t live to achieve any goal,” he wrote.

• To set the right example.

The two most powerful ways our children learn are by association and by imitation. Too many parents teach very impressionable children to “Do as I say, not as I do.” What kind of example do we set?

• To be more effective for God.

If we have our health, we can serve God more fully. Early on, Mr. Armstrong knew he couldn’t serve God as successfully without effervescent health. He made it part of his education to study the factors that led to good health, and he followed them. He didn’t believe in retirement, and he did his most productive work in the last decade of his life before dying in his 94th year.

• To follow Christ.

1 Peter 2:21 states, “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.” By obeying the health laws He set in motion, Christ set a wonderful example that we are commanded to follow. He was an energetic, dynamic leader and would not have held up as well as He did under the extreme punishment at the end of His life had He not observed every physical health law.

As much as possible, God wants us all to be healthy and physically fit! Again, God inspired the Apostle John to write, “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health.”

The unhappy results of breaking this law of radiant health are all around us. Buck the trend, keep this vital law, and reap the benefits today!