China-Philippines Standoff Intensifies

China-Philippines Standoff Intensifies

Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images

China’s belligerency is on display on the world stage once again.

Beijing intensified a 10-day standoff between the Philippines and China on Friday by sending a third ship to a shoal in the South China Sea where both sides claim sovereignty.

The confrontation at the Scarborough Shoal began on April 10 when a Philippine warship accused eight Chinese fishermen of illegal entry and poaching in Philippine waters, and attempted to arrest them. Philippine officials said the vessels held endangered marine resources such as giant clams and live sharks, which it is illegal to catch. The Philippine officials attempted to arrest the fishermen, but were stopped by the arrival of two Chinese government vessels, which ordered the Philippine warship to leave Scarborough, saying it was Chinese territory. The Philippine ship refused to back down, saying that the territory lies well within Philippine waters. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea designates a country’s exclusive economic zone as 230 miles from its coastline, and the shoal in question is only 140 miles from the Philippine coast. China’s closest territory to the shoal, Hainan province, is 542 miles away from the Scarborough Shoal.

On Tuesday, the Philippines asked China to bring the simmering dispute to a United Nations-linked international court. “[W]e fully intend to humbly invite our Chinese friends to join us in the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea,” said Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario. “The whole world knows that China has myriad more ships and aircraft than the Philippines. At day’s end, however, we hope to demonstrate that international law would be the great equalizer.”

But, in a move revealing how little regard China has for international law, Beijing ignored the proposal and reiterated its demand for the Philippines to withdraw its ships from the shoal in order to “restore peace and stability there.” Instead of taking the simmering dispute to court, China dispatched another patrol vessel to the shoal. Beijing said the third vessel was deployed because the Philippines had dishonored China’s jurisdiction.

The standoff is being closely monitored by regional players to see how far Beijing will go in its increasingly belligerent stance on territorial claims there. “We understand that the world is watching, and the issue at hand has a wider implication on how China is asserting its territorial claims, which have no basis in international law,” said Philippine Foreign Affairs spokesman Raul Hernandez.

China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei all have competing claims in the South China Sea, with China claiming almost the entire sea. The area is disputed largely because it straddles some of the world’s busiest sea lanes, has rich fishing waters, and is believed to contain vast oil and natural gas reserves.

China has long said the disputes should be resolved bilaterally, but the Philippines and other nations have been quick to call upon the United States and international community for assistance. China has consistently expressed displeasure over external involvement, and over the waters of the South China Sea being a site for military drills for the U.S. and other powers. But last Monday, as the standoff between Chinese and Philippine vessels continued, thousands of U.S. and Philippine soldiers undertook joint military drills in those very waters. The military exercises, involving 4,500 U.S. troops and 2,300 Filipino soldiers, were planned before the standoff came to a head, though Manila called the display of U.S.-Philippine solidarity “timely,” in light of the conflict.

“Given the international situation we are in, I say that this exercise, in connection with all those that we have had in the past, is a timely and mutually beneficial event for us and our U.S. counterparts,” said Philippine Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces Jesse Dellosa.

However, the U.S. has said before that it may not always be willing to support its longtime ally the Philippines, and a time approaches when American backing will not be available for any of the nations China threatens. As China’s might continues to grow and American will fades, watch for Beijing’s belligerent behavior to simultaneously increase. The Philippines and other Asian nations will be compelled to abandon the sinking U.S. ship, and to set aside their intercontinental disputes. This shift will lead to the establishment of a colossal Asian power bloc and—ultimately—to the most hope-filled event in history! To understand more, read Russia and China in Prophecy.

Ten EU Nations and a New ‘Super-President’

Ten EU Nations and a New ‘Super-President’

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In a move that will strike many followers of this website as dramatic, 10 European Union nations are considering creating a powerful new office to lead that European combine.

Ten European nations propose a new EU super-president. These two entities—10 nations and a singular all-powerful leader—seem to match perfectly with Bible prophecy for these times.

Yet do they really?

Let’s take a closer look.

Last week a meeting attended by representatives of 10 European nations convened in a palatial mansion in Brussels to consider creating a powerful new presidential post to lead the greatest trading bloc in the world, the European Union.

EUobserver.com reported that “Ideas kicking around in a reflection group of select EU foreign ministers include merging the roles of the EU Council and European Commission presidents.

“A senior EU source told this website following a meeting of the club in the Val Duchesse stately home in Brussels on Thursday (April 19) that the new supremo would have more power than either Herman Van Rompuy or Jose Manuel Barroso do today …” (April 20).

The representative group of 10—convened by Germany—comprise Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Spain. Though the number 10 is significant to Bible prophecy relating to a Europe of the immediate future (Revelation 13 and17), it is highly doubtful that this particular group of 10 will be the final 10 nations that will take the lead under German hegemony in the prophesied future restructured European Union.

One reason we cast doubt on this is because a parallel prophecy to that of Revelation 13 and 17 contained in Daniel 2 indicates that the final 10 will be divided between east and west Europe. The only two nations that may presently be considered as part of east Europe in today’s club of 10 that convened in Brussels last week are Austria and Poland.

Nevertheless, the prophetically most potent consideration to which this group of 10 devoted its time was the prospect of merging its present three-tier top-level leadership into one all-powerful presidential office. Such a proposal has a most significant prophetic ring to it.

The problem that the EU leadership presently experiences is a problem of redundancy. The three top offices that presently lead the unwieldy union of 27 nations tend to trip over each other in the decision-making process.

As EUobserver.com puts it, “The EU Council president post was created by the Lisbon Treaty in 2009. But the Lisbon architecture is messy, with Van Rompuy, for instance, overseeing recent debate on EU fiscal reform, while Barroso’s commission puts forward its own ideas and implements final decisions.

“Van Rompuy and Barroso also represent the Union at international summits. But Van Rompuy is top dog in terms of protocol, while another post-Lisbon creature, the EU high representative—a job currently filled by Catherine Ashton—does day-to-day foreign relations” (ibid).

In the revelation of prophecy for our time relative to world conditions that will prevail immediately prior to Christ’s return, it is clear that a single powerful political leader in tandem with a single great religious leader will dominate a great prophesied northern power that shall hold sway globally for a brief moment in time (Revelation 13).

As our editor in chief has pointed out, that religious leader may already be in office.

In respect of the prophesied future political supremo of Europe, the fact that all three senior EU officials—Herman van Rompuy, José Manuel Barroso and Katherine Ashton—are prepared to consider a merger of their powers into a singular super-presidency of the EU is vitally significant!

Keep watching for this proposal to become a reality.

However, in our watching, one aspect of this powerful super-president’s appointment to office should not be overlooked. Contrary to the observation quoted by EUobserver.com’s source—who stated that the appointment of a singular EU super-president would give the EU more “‘democratic legitimacy’ because he or she would be elected by meps”—Bible prophecy indicates that the future political leader of the final 10 will not be elected to that office. In fact, that leader will rather be drawn to that all-powerful office by flatteries (Daniel 11:21).

The questions that remain are, which political personality has the charisma, the general political appeal, and perhaps the dynastic profile, to be drawn into that office by flatteries?

Believe it or not, he is already waiting in the wings for his moment. Indications are that he even tested the water last year and found that his moment had not yet come.

Watch this website for regular updates on the inevitable rise to prominence of a charismatic political personality to the point of his eventual appointment as the super-president of a powerful European combine—a great northern superpower (Daniel 11)—ruled over by 10 kings, all yielding their own individual power to his overarching leadership (Revelation 17:12-13).

Then, “when these things begin to come to pass,” as Jesus Christ declared, “look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh”! (Luke 21:28).

EU to Create New ‘Super-President’?

EU to Create New ‘Super-President’?

Georges Gobet/AFP/Getty Images

Another idea from the ‘Berlin Club’

A group of EU foreign ministers discussed the idea of merging the European Union’s top jobs into one on April 19, the EU Observer reports, coining the term “super-president” to describe the new top job.

The jobs of European Council president, currently held by Herman Van Rompuy, and European Commission president, currently held by José Manuel Barroso, may be merged. “The new super-president would also chair General Affairs Councils (gacs)—monthly meetings of foreign ministers which discuss internal Union affairs,” writes the EU Observer. Its source reports that experts believe this can be done without a treaty change.

The idea emerged from a meeting of 10 EU foreign ministers organized by German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle to discuss closer European integration. Sometimes called the “Berlin Club,” the group usually has 11 members: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Spain. The French foreign minister, however, was not able to attend this last meeting.

These ministers see that for Europe to become better integrated it needs a strong central leader. As the euro crisis pushes those nations that are committed to remaining in the euro closer together, watch for this idea to become more popular. Europe knows it needs a strong central leader to respond to the dangers of today’s world.

For information on what the Bible prophesies about this soon-coming leader, see the chapter “Is a World Dictator About to Appear?” in our free booklet He Was Right.

EU Expands Influence in Angola

The European Commission chairman, José Manuel Barroso, began a three-day visit to Angola on April 18. Barroso came to the country’s capital of Luanda at the invitation of the Angolan government.

The EU leader has met Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos and the speaker of the National Assembly, Antonio Paulo Kassoma. The leaders have exchanged views on economic cooperation and African security issues.

Barroso said that the relations with Angola are important since the country is gradually rising regionally and globally. The commissioner said that the European Union is willing to increase communication and coordination with Angola on international and regional issues.

The EU has also agreed to sign an agreement with Angola that would provide a fund of more than a million euros to create non-governmental organizations there.

The Trumpet continues to watch world powers to see which ones will lay hold on the rich resources of Africa. We predict that the German-led EU will eventually control access to those resources. For more on the significance of Europe’s interest in Africa, read “Germany’s Plan to Control Africa.”

The Unholy Union of ALBA and Hezbollah

The Unholy Union of ALBA and Hezbollah

Juan Barreto/AFP/Getty Images

A danger unfolds in Latin America.

Latin America is becoming a new platform, fundraising center and operational base to wage asymmetric warfare against the United States.

Though the region has long been home to fringe elements antagonistic toward U.S. influence, recent years have seen the menace swell into mainstream politics. The threat is manifested in large part by the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (alba), a Latin American-Caribbean cooperation organization spearheaded by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in 2004.

alba professes commitment to regional economic integration. It promises easy money to beleaguered nations, and is viewed as an easy alternative to the bureaucracy encumbering the World Bank.

A closer look, however, reveals it to be a bloc devoted above all to anti-Americanism, and comprised of members who have rigged elections to avoid losing power.

Moreover, membership in alba brings countries into common cause with the world’s most destabilizing nations and most malicious terrorist groups. The organization has forged ties with Middle Eastern terrorists that could pose a serious threat not only to Latin American countries, but also to the U.S. and Canada.

The man most responsible for alba’s spread is Hugo Chávez. His checkbook has wide ideological and cultural appeal in Latin America and the Caribbean. Chávez gave nearly $200 million to Manuel Zelaya’s government in Honduras to help his illegal attempt at re-election. Every year, he gives Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega around $500 million in “free” money to prop up his dictatorship.

It is not difficult to see why impoverished Haiti, still suffering two years after an earthquake killed more than 200,000, would want in on the action. Earlier this year Haiti forged ahead on an agreement to become an alba member.

Chávez’s anti-American message is one that many leaders appear eager to latch on to. Caribbean prime ministers—most notably those of Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Antigua and Barbuda—praise Chávez’s developments while they blame the U.S. for their own economic woes and soaring crime rates.

Back in 2009, Jamaica’s then Prime Minister Bruce Golding warned that alba had a “destabilizing effect” on the Caribbean Community (caricom) and other institutions. Golding said regional leaders “need to examine” alba because of the menace it poses.

Latin American expert Joel Hirst, who has called alba “a subversive plan to create a ‘New World Order,’” wrote of the Mideast link in a January column cautioning Haiti against accepting alba’s invitation for membership. “In partnership with the Iranians and their many non-state actors [or terrorist groups], [alba] seeks to dismantle representative democracy and the institutions of representative government in order to replace them with a different model,” he wrote. That model, a new socialism, would use a chaotic “participatory democracy” to put the region back under the rule of military dictators, or caudillos.

“These caudillos use their power to create blackout zones for criminal organizations to work with terrorist groups to launder money and conspire,” Hirst explained.

Although the Obama administration downplays the dangers presented by alba’s rising power, the frequent visits of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the region have raised the eyebrows of some U.S. policymakers. Ahmadinejad has visited Latin America at least five times since he took office in 2005; during his most recent trip in January, he traveled to four alba nations.

After that trip, American analysts expressed concern that Iran’s relationships with Chávez, Ortega, Castro and others threaten to upset and destabilize the Western Hemisphere. “These alliances can pose an immediate threat by giving Iran—[the Revolutionary Guards] or its proxies like Hezbollah—a platform in the region to carry out attacks against the United States, our interests, and allies,” said U.S. Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Ros-Lehtinen highlighted Hezbollah’s practice of using drug cartels and criminal networks to raise capital and carry out terrorist operations in Latin America, saying it represents “a clear and present danger” to the United States. “The synergy between Hezbollah and the drug cartels in Latin America makes for a very powerful enemy and one that is challenging to identify,” she warned.

Former Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum has also accused Venezuela and Nicaragua of backing radical Islamists and becoming part of “growing network of folks working with jihadists.”

Under alba’s umbrella, leading politicians have become the Caribbean’s and Latin America’s new breeders of crime. And since politicians at the highest levels are in on the action, reporting on alba-Hezbollah ties is rare. But some reports fight their way through the conspiratorial haze.

In August of 2008, for example, the Los Angeles Times reported that an unnamed Western official had said Venezuela was providing Iran-backed Hezbollah with a base of operations. The official warned that Hezbollah is able to move “people and things” into Latin America thanks to the warm Iran-Venezuela relationship. He said this link “preserves the capability of Hezbollah and the [Islamic] Revolutionary Guard [Corps] to mount attacks inside Latin America,” and added “It’s becoming a strategic partnership.”

The Iran-Venezuela relationship has steadily strengthened since a 2006 bilateral trade agreements between Chávez and Ahmadinejad. In 2008, Tehran and Caracas signed 15 cooperation agreements in the areas of energy, construction and agriculture, and announced the creation of a shared bank. The relations between the two sides have solidified primarily due to their common antagonism toward the U.S.

A 2008 U.S. State Department report on terrorism said Iran and Venezuela had begun weekly flights between their capital cities, and that passengers aboard these flights were not subject to customary checks. Among the travelers was a suspect in the plot to bomb the John F. Kennedy Airport in New York.

“There is a Chávez terror network on America’s doorstep,” says Rebecca Theodore, senior editor of Caribbean News Now.

Theodore is particularly concerned about terrorist infiltration into the Caribbean and how it is destabilizing society there. “Venezuela is the new facilitator of narco-trafficking and terrorism in the Caribbean. A paradise for tourists has been converted into an operational base for hardline Iranian terrorists and criminals. It is no longer a peaceful Caribbean.”

At a conference of the Peaceful Caribbean Foundation convening today in Bridgetown, Barbados, Theodore is addressing growing alba-Hezbollah ties, along with other issues threatening stability in the Caribbean. “Hezbollah’s criminality multiplies in Latin America while it establishes deeper relations with transnational criminal organizations funneling millions of dollars to militia leaders in the Middle East,” Theodore told the Trumpet. Much of the South American drug money is being channeled back into Middle Eastern terrorist networks, she contends.

Theodore said the danger of terrorists entering the U.S. via Latin America and the Caribbean is imminent. “It won’t be long before Iranian terrorists with Venezuelan and Dominican passports stand in line and show their documents to U.S. border agents as well,” she said.

The thickening alliance between anti-U.S. alba nations and West-hating terrorist groups like Hezbollah casts dark shadows across both Americas. It reveals that the Middle Eastern extremists who oppose the U.S. are becoming better connected, more powerful, and closer to America’s borders. It also reveals that U.S. influence is rapidly waning in a region it relies on heavily for industrial cooperation.

The peaceful Caribbean sought by Theodore and others seems elusive under the lengthening shadows of the alba-Hezbollah axis. But a time is on the horizon when there will be peace in the Caribbean, in Latin America and throughout the world. To understand more, read The Wonderful World Tomorrow—What It Will Be Like.

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!