So You Want to Understand the Bible?

So You Want to Understand the Bible?

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Here’s what you can do!

Why is it that a group of biology teachers could pretty much agree on the meaning of a biology textbook, but if you assembled a room full of theologians, they would probably all have different interpretations of the Holy Bible?

Why so much disagreement and misunderstanding when it comes to God’s inspired Word?

It’s simply because most people are not willing to submit to or obey the precepts revealed in the Bible. The Apostle Paul said, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

To understand the Bible, we must study it for doctrine and correction. In Psalm 119:67, for example, the author declares, “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word.” The psalmist had gone astray. He needed to be straightened out. So he looked to God’s Word to get back on track!

How many people do you know who are willing to be reproved and corrected by the Bible? It’s no wonder there is so much confusion when it comes to understanding the Bible!

Additional Steps You Can Take

Herbert W. Armstrong often compared the Bible to a jigsaw puzzle (see Isaiah 28:10-11). But instead of putting the various pieces together properly and sensibly, as Mr. Armstrong wrote in Mystery of the Ages, theologians and preachers “read an already-believed false teaching into each particular scripture, taken out of context.” They interpret the scriptures to say what they have assumed to be true.

But the Bible doesn’t need any personal or private interpretation, as it says in 2 Peter 1:20. God’s Word interprets itself! If we are willing to humble ourselves and to accept the authority of God’s divine precepts, we can understand the plain truth revealed in the Bible. Here then are several important steps you can take on the path to understanding the Bible:

First of all, before you begin your study, pray for a humble attitude and for God to open your mind to understand the Bible. Jesus Christ set an outstanding example in this regard. He spent many hours with God in prayer every week. On a few occasions, He even prayed through the night. Now if Jesus Christ derived all of His power fromGod, think about how much more we need to go to God for help! To understand the Bible, we really need God’s power!

Isaiah 1:18 says, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Reasoning together with God is what it means to be truly educated according to God’s curriculum.

After asking God for understanding and humility, make daily Bible study a daily priority. Be like the Bereans. In Acts 17, it says they “received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so” (verse 11). They studied with a right attitude, “with all readiness of mind”—and they did it every day.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). We study to show ourselves approvedto God. This is not something to be casual about. God commands it!

By studying the Bible every day, we will begin to think more like God. We can actually come to know what God’s will is for every circumstance (Ephesians 5:17).

Another important key is to be urgent in studying God’s Word! “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). Time is running out on the age of man ruling over man! God’s government will soon be established on Earth, headquartered in Jerusalem. God is working out a purpose here below. Every one of us must use the minutes, hours, days and years of our temporary existence to prepare us for the world to come.

As the pace of prophetic events intensifies, it will only become more difficult to set aside the time to focus our minds on in-depth Bible study. This world, after all, is about to explode! Why not take full advantage of the relative calm before the storm and prepare ourselves well for the bumpy road ahead?

God is trumpeting the plain truth of Jesus Christ’s gospel message through this very work you now support. Make the most of this brief time period and be zealous in your study of God’s Word. Dig into the Bible. Use your time wisely. Don’t allow the cares of this world to crowd out the time we are commanded to spend in prayerful study of God’s truth (Matthew 13:22).

Finally, don’t forget to act on what you learn. King David wrote, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever” (Psalm 111:10). Understanding follows the doing!

In fact, obedience is a prerequisite for understanding (Psalm 119:100). If we sincerely and wholeheartedly try to obey all that God reveals—if we humbly repent of sins that are exposed by the clear light of God’s Word, God will open our minds to the riches and depths of His glorious truth. That is an absolute promise from God.

Our obedience to God’s law is the greatest determining factor of how well we grasp and understand spiritual knowledge!

So remember these important points when studying your Bible. Ask God for understanding. Then dig into God’s Word—do it every day. And knowing the times we are living in, be urgent in your study—give it the highest priority. Then, make sure you apply what you learn.

Doing this will not only open your mind to understand the simplicity of God’s Word, it will make your daily study sessions the most inspiring, invigorating and spiritually enriching activity of the day!

U.S. Gun Sales Skyrocket

U.S. Gun Sales Skyrocket

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The proliferation of guns at a time when the country is beset by drug cartels, terrorists and violent protesters shows that America is nearing a time of violence.

As the U.S. economy continues to suffer from the aftereffects of the worst recession since the Great Depression, one industry in particular has bucked the trend and churned out astronomical profits—the firearms industry.

According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the total economic impact of firearm sales—including jobs, taxes and sales—hit $31 billion in 2011. This figure represents an increase of over 63 percent since 2008.

Jobs in the firearms industry jumped a full 30 percent over the same time period.

The United States is the country with the highest rate of civilian gun ownership in the world. According to the New Yorker magazine, there are now nearly 300 million privately owned firearms in the U.S. This figure breaks down into 106 million handguns, 105 million rifles, and 83 million shotguns.

Many in the industry attribute the drastic jump in gun sales to fears that the Obama administration will tighten gun control laws in a possible second term.

It is unlikely, however, that President Obama would be able to overcome political opposition against restricting gun ownership. With this in mind, a much more probable explanation for this surge in firearm sales is that conditions on the world scene are rapidly deteriorating and people are concerned about their future safety.

As a recent article in the Trumpet explained, violent drug cartels have all but conquered Mexico and are now spilling into the U.S. To make matters worse, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Congressman Peter King, revealed last month that these cartels have cut a deal with the Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah and are now smuggling hundreds of operatives into the U.S.

This startling alliance is but one development that could be driving people to put their faith in firearms.

Another such development could be the threat posed by radical protesters within America. As the Occupy Wall Street movement spreads to cities across the nation, a subset of the protesters have turned to more radical means of getting their message out. In Oakland, California, millions of dollars of damage was done when protesters went on a looting rampage that ultimately ended in a violent clash with the police.

A third threat that could be causing this upsurge in gun sales is the imminent possibility of race riots. In the aftermath of the Trayvon Martin shooting, the radical New Black Panther Party called on black men to mobilize and capture George Zimmerman, even offering a $10,000 reward for his capture.

Other black radicals have called for violent protests if the justice system does not handle this case the way they think it should be handled. All this talk of protests and violence has prompted Floridian members of the Detroit-based National Socialist Movement to tell FOX35 they are patrolling the streets of Sanford in order to protect whites. Even though police have not seen evidence of either Black Panther or National Socialist patrols, there is no denying that tensions are high.

People are stocking up on guns and ammunition to protect themselves from the above-listed threats, and the potential for explosive violence is increasing. Once shooting actually breaks out, there are enough weapons in the nation to unleash a wave of violence unseen in America since the Civil War.

In the fifth chapter of Ezekiel, God reveals that one third of the people in modern-day Israel will be killed in violent looting and rioting just before a German-led invasion. The proliferation of guns at a time when the country is beset by drug cartels, terrorists and violent protesters shows that America is nearing this episode of violence.

For further proof of these claims, read our article “Blood in the Streets” and then read Chapter Four of the booklet by our editor in chief Ezekiel: The End-Time Prophet.

North Korean Launch Attempt Stokes Regional Tensions

North Korean Launch Attempt Stokes Regional Tensions

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The rocket didn’t fly far, but tensions throughout Asia are soaring.

After the December death of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il, his son Kim Jong-un took up the reins of rule, and many analysts thought it could signal the start of a reversal in the country’s rogue behavior.

After all, the reports said Kim Jong-un had received a Western education at a Swiss school, that he was an outspoken fan of Michael Jordan, and that he adored James Bond films—and he was taking North Korea’s reins at the tender age of 28 or 29. Optimistic Westerners said what little information was available about Kim Jong-un suggested that he might abandon the internal oppression and external belligerency that had marked the rules of his father and grandfather.

For example, a former Western intelligence officer who writes under the pen name James Church said the detail about Jong-un’s studies in Switzerland held great promise about what his leadership priorities may be.

But hopes of a changing North Korea were dashed on April 13, after Kim Jong-un oversaw a rocket launch that violated United Nations Security Council resolutions banning North Korea from developing nuclear and missile programs. Pyongyang said the rocket carried an Earth observation satellite, but most believe it was actually a cover for a program to build a delivery system for a nuclear warhead.

The launch was part of a North Korean celebration marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of national founder Kim Il Sung, and was designed to show the world that, despite international isolation, the nation has the ability to make scientific progress. It also demonstrated that, under its new leader, North Korea’s resistance to outside pressure is unchanged.

Some Westerners have been quick to say that since the three-phase Unha-3 missile failed—breaking into pieces and crashing into the sea shortly after takeoff—it means North Korea poses little threat to the world in the near term. But defiance, insecurity and crude nuclear weapons combine to make North Korea one of the least predictable and most dangerous countries on the globe. Some analysts have said that the fact that the rocket failed actually makes North Korea more dangerous. “Internationally, now they have to do a nuclear test, preferably using uranium, just in order to show that they should be taken seriously,” said Andrei Lankov, an expert on North Korea at Seoul’s Kookmin University.

Alongside the direct threat of a basket-case nation wielding nukes crouches another threat the North presents by acting as a driver of the Asian arms race. More than 5,000 miles away, the U.S. may not feel terribly threatened by Pyongyang, but the same is not true for the rogue nation’s next-door neighbors.

Japan and South Korea were particularly alarmed by the North’s erratic defiance in attempting the launch—both stood by prepared to shoot the rocket down if it flew over their territories. After the launch, South Korea announced that it has deployed new long-range cruise missiles that can hit “any place” in North Korea.

Two days after the launch, Kim Jong-un addressed his impoverished nation and the world for the first time, vowing to continue to make the military his “first, second and third” priority. The nation’s military then promptly unveiled a new long-range missile, and said that since the U.S. had stopped sending it food, North Korea was no longer required to halt its nuclear development. “We have thus become able to take necessary retaliatory measures, free from the agreement,” North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said. “The U.S. will be held wholly accountable for all the ensuing consequences.”

In addition to strengthening their conventional weapons power in response to the North’s erraticism, other nations—particularly Japan and South Korea—could use another North Korean nuclear test as a pretense to acquire nuclear weapons of their own. And, just as Lankov anticipated, the North has said it is likely to test another nuclear weapon in the near future.

Stratfor said that if the U.S. responds to the launch negatively, the North could further stoke regional tensions (April 13):

North Korea has also suggested … that a significantly negative U.S. response to the satellite launch will return North Korea to the pattern of behavior seen in 2009-2010, when the North tested a nuclear device and missiles and engaged in a series of military actions against the South in the West Sea (Yellow Sea). Such a path is extremely tense, of course, and would raise concerns of a regional war, even if the North has thus far known its neighbors’ limits and avoided provoking a military response. Instead of achieving a new level of stability, it would raise the potential for miscalculation, delay the cycle of discussions and increase the cost to North Korea’s negotiating partners of a return to the status quo. … [I]f the United States tries to punish North Korea, Pyongyang can once again raise tensions in northeast Asia ….

This is the kind of behavior that sets the North’s neighbors on edge. Meanwhile, China, the nation with the most influence over Pyongyang, says it has no control over the nation’s nuclear program. Beijing continues to disappoint other world powers by failing—or refusing—to apply real pressure on North Korea.

Shortly after the launch, U.S. Sen. John McCain said the relationship between the U.S. and North Korea was like “Groundhog Day … confrontation, followed by negotiations, followed by aid, followed by confrontation.” The senator said it is “remarkable how many times we’ve seen this movie, and meanwhile, the North Koreans continue to make progress on nuclear weapons and now we’re going to hear there’s going to be another nuclear test.”

McCain also pointed out that the U.S. needed to be cautious in its treatment of North Korea because “the Iranians will be paying attention to how we react.” Just days before the launch, Iran defiantly said it has adequate funds to withstand a total embargo on its oil sales for two to three years. How would such a national mentality perceive a U.S. decision to punish North Korea’s defiance with a slight reduction in the food aid it continuously gives Pyongyang?

Militarism is on the rise throughout Asia, and as regional players see that the new Kim is more of the same, the acceleration will continue. At present, many Asian countries’ buildups are designed to protect themselves from North Korea and China, but the intra-Asian tensions will soon be trumped by a collective Asian worry about a common enemy.

Daniel 11:40 speaks of a showdown in this end time between “the king of the north”—a German-led European empire—and “the king of the south,” a radical Middle Eastern empire led by Iran. Daniel 11:40-41 explain that, at the time of the end, this European entity will enter into “the glorious land”—called Israel today—and overthrow many countries. But the amazing military success of this European power will not go unchecked! The pivotal prophecy continues in verse 44, saying that “tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him.” After destroying the Middle Eastern power, the European empire will be troubled by what is happening to its east and north—that is, in Asia!

Asia’s rising tensions point to dark times on the horizon, but the Bible makes plain that the clash between Europe and Asia will be interrupted by the most spectacular event in the history of the universe: the return of Jesus Christ, and the beginning of an age of peace for the democracies of Asia, the maverick nations of Asia, for Europe, and for the whole of mankind. To understand more, read Russia and China in Prophecy.

Strong Link Between Fatherlessness and Family Dysfunction Confirmed

Strong Link Between Fatherlessness and Family Dysfunction Confirmed

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Last month, the British government revealed that nearly two thirds of the families it identifies as “troubled” are headed by a single mother—three times the national average.

An official panel looking into the causes of last summer’s riots in London has zeroed in on family breakdown—specifically the lack of strong male role models—as a common factor in the lives of many of the youths who were arrested.

Local government officials stated that the troubled families were in “total breakdown.”

“The absence of a positive father figure is a huge problem, and often fathers who are present have severe drug and alcohol addictions and are not working,” said Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles.

It is estimated that Britain’s “worst behaving families” are costing taxpayers £9 billion (us$14.4 billion) a year in benefits and other public services.

These statistics should greatly alarm us. Sadly, some see facts such as these as an attack on single mothers. Others view them only as disparaging remarks against homosexual and lesbian couples that have adopted children or have given birth through medical intervention.

Nonetheless, the importance of a positive father figure in the home remains without question.

Look what happens to a nation that has many homes without a positive, loving father at the helm: The children want to burn it down.

Though the financial cost to taxpayers is tremendous, the emotional cost to children is far worse. The bad fruits of parental neglect are leading to waves of violence. The youth of Britain and other nations are taking their frustrations out on their own homelands through rioting, looting, and setting cars, homes and businesses on fire.

As the Trumpet’s editor in chief, Gerald Flurry, has stated, fatherhood is “the core institution of our society” (Conspiracy Against Fatherhood). Yet, for decades, evolutionists, feminists and psychologists have insisted that the role of the father is unnecessary—that it is, in fact, obsolete. The tragic results of the fatherless families in Britain prove otherwise.

The Trumpet has warned for decades that our social problems will only grow worse if men and women continue to experiment with the institution of the family.

Looking into our time, the Prophet Isaiah foretold that experimentation with the family would produce troubled youth. Nearly 3,000 years ago, he warned, “As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths” (Isaiah 3:12).

There are real working solutions to today’s family problems. Follow the Trumpet for inspiring articles that give sound advice to help you build a stable, happy and successful family.

Will Germany Intervene in Syria?

Will Germany Intervene in Syria?

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Decision makers in Germany are debating Berlin’s future role in the Syrian revolution.

Early last year, as the West was gearing up to intervene militarily in the overthrow of Libyan dictator Muammar Qadhafi, Germany made it clear it wanted no part. In March, when America, England, France and a host of other states passed UN Resolution 1973 sanctioning nato intervention in Libya, Germany joined Russia and China in abstaining from the vote.

Germany refused to participate because it believed military action would result in too much violence and bloodshed. “Any military operation brings civilian victims,” explained Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle. Chancellor Angela Merkel echoed those remarks in her explanation of Germany’s non-participation. Berlin’s primary concern, the world was told, was that nato intervention would produce too many civilian casualties.

Keep this in mind as you read on.

Last month, German-Foreign-Policy.com reported that “government advisers in Berlin are debating war scenarios for a possible Western military intervention in Syria” (March 6). Citing reports from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (swp), an influential think tank that advises the Bundestag and the German government on foreign policy, German-Foreign-Policy.com reported on the growing discussion in Germany over the need for foreign military intervention in Syria, and the need for Berlin to play a leadership role.

The swp says Syria is descending into a full-scale civil war. This, according to some experts, would undoubtedly demand foreign military intervention. According to the swp’s director of the Security Policy Research Group, “Even though ‘all Western countries show basic signs of war fatigue,’ their ‘readiness’ to go to war could be ‘reactivated’ if the humanitarian situation deteriorates—as the West’s interventionist mood has shown during the war on Libya” (ibid).

This week, German-Foreign-Policy.com cited a German government adviser stating that in the event of military intervention in Syria, “German participation should be assured.”

Note the dichotomy. In Libya, the likelihood that military intervention would worsen the humanitarian crisis was reason for Germany refraining from military action. But in Syria, a nation currently experiencing a humanitarian crisis that would certainly intensify in the event of foreign intervention, Germany favors military action.

According to German-Foreign-Policy.com, the swp has already outlined five scenarios for Western military intervention in Syria. Among them are the deployment of Western special forces to arm and train Syrian protesters and militias; the forced establishment of “safe zones,” areas controlled by foreign troops where Syrian refugees can seek protection and opposition forces can plan assaults; and all-out military assault.

In a recent article at Internationale Politik, swp director of security policy Markus Kaim explained the dilemma facing the United States and Europe. If the ceasefire breaks and civil war continues, the West must either accept “the limits of [its] influence on the Syrian regime”—an improbable admission of Western weakness—or weigh “the options for military engagement to contain the conflict with all the associated risks.”

This is not to suggest Germany plans to dispatch troops to Syria this week. In fact, the public stance reiterated by Germany’s foreign minister is that Berlin does not support military intervention in Syria. But this discussion in Berlin—especially the debate about military strategy and tactics by influential advisers to the government—is evidence that Berlin is keeping an attentive eye on Syria. This is especially noteworthy when you consider Germany’s comparative apathy over Libya’s revolution.

Why does Germany appear so much more engaged with Syria than it ever was with Libya?

Earlier this month, Germany was a key participant, along with the U.S. and Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, at a gathering in Turkey to discuss options for dealing with Syria’s revolution. Foreign Minister Westerwelle announced there that Germany would join the U.S. and double its humanitarian contributions to Syria. In its report on the pledge by the Istanbul coalition to “provide funding and communications equipment to Syrian rebels and opposition activists,” the Associated Press noted that this reflected a “shift toward military options that might oust Syrian President Bashar Assad” (emphasis added).

Together with America, Britain and France, Germany has also established a naval presence off the coast of Syria and Lebanon.

Again, why does Berlin appear substantially more interested in the crisis in Syria than it was with Libya? Because overthrowing the pro-Iranian, anti-Western Assad regime meshes with Berlin’s larger geopolitical and strategic ambitions for the Middle East! As Karsten D. Voigt, the German government’s former coordinator of German-American cooperation, recently explained, the tension between the West and Syria and its international allies is not about “human rights versus dictatorship”—it’s about “geostrategic interests.”

One of Germany’s primary aims in the Middle East is to develop an axis with Middle Eastern states that oppose Iran.

As the Trumpet has long reported, this explains why Germany has for years been stepping up its political, financial and military investment in countries such as Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. Berlin has formed solid trade relationships with virtually all these countries, covering every industry from telecommunications to the military. A recent European Commission summary report, for example, showed that the EU, led by Germany, was the world’s largest exporter of weapons to Saudi Arabia and that in 2010 EU member states delivered at least €3.3 billion (us$4.34 billion) worth of military equipment and licenses to Riyadh.

Germany’s interest in Syria’s revolution must be considered in this context. From Berlin’s perspective, the rebellion in Syria is a prime opportunity to transform the country into a pro-German, pro-Arab state. It believes Assad’s downfall would be devastating to Iran and its radical Islamist supporters.

For Germany, Syria’s revolution isn’t about a humanitarian crisis at all. It’s about geopolitics and the advancement of Germany’s strategic interests in the Middle East!

It’s hard to know what exactly will unfold in Syria in the coming weeks. What is certain is that neither Assad nor the anti-government activists are prepared to back down. The ceasefire brokered by the UN last week is already crumbling; violence renewed this week with more deadly attacks by both anti-government forces and the Syrian government. This prompted U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to warn Assad yesterday that the situation is now “at a critical turning point.”

As you continue to watch Syria, it’s vital you pay close attention to Germany. There is no doubt that Berlin in recent years has worked hard to develop allies on the Arabian peninsula, allies that, like Berlin, would like to see Assad’s ouster and Syria’s end as an Iranian proxy. Moreover, don’t be surprised if Germany not only supports foreign military intervention in Syria, but even assumes a leadership role!

The most important reason we need to watch Syria is because of what Bible prophecy says will happen in the end times. You can read the prophecy in Psalm 83. Here is outlined an alliance of Arab nations that in the end time band together with the goal of destroying Israel. This group of nations includes Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan and some of the smaller states on the Arabian peninsula. The prophecy says this unique coalition of Middle Eastern states will form an alliance with Germany and Europe.

Where does Syria fit in this prophecy? Well, as Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry thoroughly explains in The King of the South,Syria is also part of this German-Arab alliance! In practical terms, this means we can expect Syria to leave the pro-Iran camp and join Saudi Arabia and other Arab states in striking a short-term alliance with Germany and Europe. This prophetic understanding makes Germany’s growing interest in Syria thrilling and dramatic!

For more information on the Psalm 83 alliance and why it is a prophecy for the near future, read “A Mysterious Prophecy” by Gerald Flurry.

China and Russia to Conduct Naval Exercises

China and Russia have announced they will conduct joint military exercises in the Yellow Sea starting on April 22. The military drills will focus on joint maritime defense and will involve 16 vessels, including destroyers, frigates and two submarines.

Chen Bingde, the chief of staff for the People’s Liberation Army, said this drill will promote further strategic coordination and mutual trust between his military and Russian forces.

The head of Russia’s General Staff, Nikolai Makarov, said the naval exercise shows that the two countries are conducting strategic coordination at a high level.

Since 2005, China and Russia have conducted several joint military exercises; however, this is the first of such maneuvers that will involve the two countries’ navies.

Continue to watch China and Russia’s military relationship grow. Bible prophecy clearly states that Russia and China will be closely allied in climactic end-time events. To learn about these prophecies and what will lead up to them, read Russia and China in Prophecy, originally printed in 1999.