The Old Rome-Berlin Axis Is Back

The Old Rome-Berlin Axis Is Back

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Chancellor Merkel’s replacement of her old political partner Nicolas Sarkozy with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti hastens the resurrection of Charlemagne’s Holy Roman Empire.
From the July 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

European elites have been working for 60 years to bring about two events that are key to European unification. Both events are now in motion.

The first comes from the “Berlin Group,” an assembly formed out of a German idea to gather the foreign ministers of the European Union’s leading economies—excluding Britain. In April, it recommended that a powerful new presidency be created within the EU—a super-president—a veritable “Charlemagne”!

Under the headline “Ministers Ponder Creation of EU Super-President,” EUobserver.com reported, “A senior EU source told this website following a meeting of the club in the Val Duchesse stately home in Brussels on [April 19] that the new supremo would have more power than either Herman Van Rompuy or José Manuel Barroso” (April 20). Van Rompuy is current president of the European Council; Barroso is president of the European Commission. The two presidencies tend to clash over EU policy. A “super-president” given charge over all EU institutions would have the power to dictate policy direction.

Shortly after the “Berlin Group” came out with that startling recommendation, the second major event took place. German Chancellor Angela Merkel realized that French President Nicolas Sarkozy was in trouble. Sarkozy was Merkel’s partner in pushing for European unification, and was the candidate she endorsed in France’s national elections. But Sarkozy, it was clear, was about to lose. So what did she do? She turned to Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Monti to forge a new alliance to lead the EU.

These latest moves are real game changers, the effects of which will soon be felt worldwide. The balance of power is changing in Europe, and the fallout is prophesied to have global effects of massive proportions!

The Crisis and the Solution

The catalyst for both this super-presidency and this new alliance is Europe’s worsening economic crisis, which is also destabilizing Europe’s political order. To date, 11 leaders of EU member nations have fallen in the wake of this crisis.

Anticipating the increasing clamor for EU leaders to promote growth in the face of austerity, Mario Monti and Angela Merkel are colluding with European Central Bank (ecb) President Mario Draghi to establish the future of EU economic policy. Merkel’s and Monti’s staffs have planned several joint German-Italian economic stimulus initiatives that will be brought to the European Council in June. In the process, Socialist Francois Hollande’s France is being marginalized.

Chancellor Merkel did more than just verbally affirm her solidarity with Rome. She also did a U-turn on her economic policy, readily agreeing to Rome’s line. Draghi has criticized Merkel’s fiscal discipline policy, saying that the crisis can’t be solved through budget cuts and tax increases alone. Draghi says the circumstances call for “structural measures to favor economic growth.” Merkel accepted the critique and formally acknowledged, “We need growth, to be sustained through structural reforms.” That was a very real, very public policy reversal from Merkel’s previously declared stance.

As the Trumpet has said before, watch Monti and Draghi—and watch closely for Merkel to be increasingly influenced by Rome in her political and economic outlook.

Prime Minister Monti and ecb head Draghi have the same Jesuit mind in their approach to the crisis. Merkel joining forces with them places the EU’s purse strings—and the German levers of power—much closer to Rome’s grasp.

Expect Berlin and Rome to dominate EU policy decisions from here on.

The End of Franco-German Leadership

Since the European Community’s inception, joint Franco-German leadership has been a given. France wanted to keep a close eye on Germany to ensure that nation would never repeat its incursions across France’s borders such as had occurred in 1871, 1914 and 1939. The postwar French view was that Germany would become the economic engine of Europe, while having limited political influence. France would take the lead European political role. It seemed an ideal arrangement to the Western allies.

Things continued in that preordained manner until two major disruptions began to fracture the arrangement.

The first was the implosion of the Soviet Union, which had two effects: the reunification of Germany in 1990, and the resurgence of Roman Catholicism in post-communism Eastern Europe.

The second disruption occurred when economic crisis struck Europe in 2008. All of a sudden, Germany, by far the most powerful economy in Europe, found a political voice to match its economic weight.

Using the economic crisis as the catalyst, Berlin began to call the tune for the economic response. The resulting decrees from Germany’s political power base in Berlin and its financial base at the ecb in Frankfurt have left EU nations subject to Germany.

A third catalyst now works to change the whole balance of power in Europe: Nicolas Sarkozy’s failure to gain reelection as president of France. This will prove to be a watershed event not only in Franco-German relations, but also in Berlin’s political relationship with the EU.

Gone is the lynchpin partnership that had held the EU together since the Treaty of Rome established the European Community in 1957. Before Sarkozy had officially been ousted from the French presidency in the May elections, Chancellor Merkel had already quickly moved to align Germany with Rome. Even before France’s new leader took office, Italian Prime Minister Monti had already replaced Berlin’s traditional EU political partner.

In place of the Franco-German alliance is a new partnership: a resurrection of the old Rome-Berlin Axis of 1939!

To think of that old Axis being resurrected—given the destruction it wreaked just 70 years ago—is a fearful thing indeed! Yet this is the reality.

And it was all prophesied to be so, in your Bible, millennia ago!

Rome-Berlin Axis Prophesied

Back in 1954, Herbert Armstrong declared, “Nothing can prevent Germany from completely dominating Europe. Soon there will be the prophesied United Europe—the resurrected Roman Empire—with Germans in complete domination. It’s prophesied! It is hurling on toward the destruction of America and Britain” (Sept. 18, 1954).

Three years later, he wrote: “No one else is telling what prophecy says Germany and fascism in Europe are starting under cover. You’ll soon see it—theUnited States of Europe—the resurrected Roman Empire!” (Nov. 20, 1957).

No one else was! Herbert Armstrong was the lone voice crying out in a wilderness of confusion and declaring to the world the sure prophecies of God, declaring decades ago that a final resurrection of the old Holy Roman Empire would arise to powerfully disrupt the world again!

In 1978, Mr. Armstrong specifically declared, “Undoubtedly Germany will head the new resurrected ‘Holy Roman Empire’” (Aug. 14, 1978).

Months later, he published an article in the January 1979 Plain Truth magazine declaring emphatically: “I have been proclaiming and writing, ever since 1935, that the final one of the seven eras of the Holy Roman Empire is coming in our generation—a ‘United States of Europe,’ combining 10 nations or groups of nations in Europe—with a union of church and state!

“The nations of Europe have been striving to become reunited. They desire a common currency, a single combined military force, a single united government. They have made a start in the Common Market. They are now working toward a common currency. Yet, on a purely political basis, they have been totally unable to unite.

“In only one way can this resurrected Holy Roman Empire be brought to fruition—by the ‘good offices’ of the Vatican, uniting church and state once again, with the Vatican astride and ruling (Revelation 17:1-5).”

That prophesied union of church and state could not effectively emerge till the Franco-German bloc was broken and a new balance of power established in Europe: a Rome-Berlin axis! Just such an axis has emerged with Chancellor Merkel’s surrendering, at Rome’s behest, on her policy for handling Europe’s economic crisis.

Blind to the Reality

Few see the historic omens in a revival of the old Rome-Berlin Axis. That was recently made apparent by Britain’s defense secretary, Philip Hammond, who encouraged Germany to “put aside the legacy of World War ii and be more willing to ‘deliver firepower’ for nato and the West” (Telegraph, May 9).

Hammond pushed for Germany to forget the past and assert itself again as a military power. He encouraged Germany to demonstrate “a willingness to pick up the burdens that go with having a globally important economy … recognizing that it can’t continue to be the dominant economy in Europe without also significantly increasing its military capability” (emphasis added throughout).

Such a view demonstrates both a woeful blindness to history and a profound ignorance as to the nature of the Germanic peoples. It certainly shows the paucity of true, visionary leadership in Britain today (Isaiah 3:1-4).

Those with a better grasp of the facts should surely fear any tendency for a revival of that old Rome-Berlin Axis. Let those facts speak for themselves:

“On Nov. 1, 1936, Germany and Italy, reflecting their common interest in destabilizing the European order, announced a Rome-Berlin Axis one week after signing a treaty of friendship. … On May 22, 1939, Germany and Italy signed the so-called Pact of Steel, formalizing the Axis alliance with military provisions. … [T]he German invasion of Poland on Sept. 1, 1939, unleashed the European war” (Holocaust Encyclopedia).

That summarizes the more recent history of the Rome-Berlin axis. The effects of that Rome-Berlin Axis are summed up in the devastating statistics of the carnage it unleashed in World War ii. Of the estimated 60 million slaughtered in that greatest war in history, 29 million are estimated to have been killed in Europe alone. The massive number of injured plus the untold damage to property and the countryside of the Continent must all be included to give a true picture of the cataclysmic result of the most recent Rome-Berlin Axis of just seven decades past.

Yet, even more ancient histories should warn us of what is bound to occur when Rome and Berlin connect with the common goal of destabilizing the European order!

Awful History of Rome-Berlin Alliances

The first-century historian Tacitus put it this way: “The Germans have no taste for peace; renown is easier won among perils. … [T]hey are so strangely inconsistent. … The liberty of the Germans is a deadlier foe than the tyranny of the kings of Parthia” (Germania).

As the German author Adolph Schalk observed, “Thus as long ago as a.d. 98, the Roman historian Tacitus … already regarded the German people as a force to be reckoned with in Europe” (The Germans).

What was the role that Tacitus assigned to Rome in its relationship to the Germans? “Tacitus regarded [the Germans] as overgrown children who needed the strong arm of Roman discipline to keep them in line.” Thus arose, with the crowning of Charlemagne in a.d. 800, the Holy Roman Empire.

Rome acted as both spiritual guide and unifying force of those “strangely inconsistent” people for what later became, under Emperor Maxmilian i, the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. The official German record says this about that title: “The term used for the empire, which emerged from the East-Franconian Empire of 962 with the coronation of Otto i as emperor, as of 1512 was officially called the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation—expressing, on the one hand, a claim to power as the successor to the ‘Imperium Romanum’ of antiquity, and on the other, highlighting the religious role of the emperor. The ‘Reich’ survived for more than 800 years until … 1806 …” (Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, London).

In its wake, it left a trail of blood.

Watch and Pray!

Now, the old Rome-Berlin Axis is resurrected. A Bavarian pope at the helm in the Vatican is engaged in a great crusade of “new evangelization.” Rome’s men lead both the European Central Bank and the Vatican’s home base nation, Italy. All that remains to complete the prophetic picture in Europe is for the new “Charlemagne” to arise and pull together the final prophesied 10-nation combine under a “super-president” office such as proposed by the Berlin Group.

These are all key pieces in a formula that will catalyze the ultimate fulfillment of some of the most powerful Bible prophecies for our time! These prophecies foretell of great devastation to be brought upon the Anglo-Saxon nations in the wake of this seventh and final resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire!

These most recent dynamic events in Europe indicate that, even as Jesus Christ declared of these times we are living through, more than ever it is time to “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21:36).

Too Many People?

Too Many People?

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Is a population explosion an evil—or a blessing? The answer is not what you think!
From the July 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

On Oct. 31, 2011, photographers and United Nations officials crowded into a hospital in Manila, awaiting the arrival of a very special visitor. She came just before midnight, instantly greeted by oohs and ahs and popping flashbulbs.

Danica May Camacho was no supermodel or starlet. She was a newborn. The UN had selected her to symbolically represent the planet’s 7 billionth person.

The hype surrounding Danica’s birth was manufactured to draw our attention to the burgeoning global populace—and the challenge of sustaining it. Earth now supports more people than at any time in its history. And serious questions about just how much higher that number can realistically go are weighing on thinking people the world over.

Futurists have predicted for decades that the population explosion would threaten civilization. Paul Ehrlich’s 1968 book The Population Bomb predicted that hundreds of millions would starve to death in the 1970s, including 65 million Americans, in “a great die-off.” To this point, though, advancements in producing and managing our food, water, energy, pollution, waste and wealth have outpaced the difficulties. And people just keep multiplying. In fact, every single day, births outpace deaths by more than 200,000 people.

Does our world suffer from having just “too many people”? It’s an important—and fascinating—question.

The book of Genesis records God’s command to the first man and woman, “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.” God wanted the human population to grow, and He provided ample material blessings in order to sustain it.

However, a lot of impoverished people haven’t enjoyed those blessings, and there are more poor than ever. Meanwhile, others’ complex modern lifestyles are devouring resources far faster than ever in human history—not just oil, coal and natural gas, but also metals, minerals and other elements we use every day. If industrialized nations actually started running out of some of these things, the result would be massive disruptions.

The truth is, ominous evidence is already emerging that we are beginning to run out of easily accessible supplies of these resources. Not just a few of them. Practically all of them.

Mankind is nearing a crossroads. The population and standards of living cannot keep rising indefinitely. At some point soon, the human race is going to hit “peak people.”

But again, is the problem simply that there are too many of us? There is a deeper cause we must face.

How Many Is Too Many?

How many people can comfortably live on Earth at one time? Ecologists and other scientists have pondered this “carrying capacity” for years. Now the question is getting more urgent.

How can we keep everyone fed, watered, clean and healthy? How can we dispose of their waste and trash? How can we house everyone and provide them with energy? How many can have electricity, cars, appliances? What happens when demand for oil, coal and natural gas exceeds supply?

These questions are destined to become more urgent as the populace keeps expanding, particularly as expectations about standards of living rise.

In the world’s most populous nation, a burgeoning middle class is suddenly demanding luxuries that have long been restricted to the Western world: more meat on the table, more cars in the garage. China is now actually the world’s largest automobile manufacturer, making more cars last year than the United States and Japan put together.

Right now, America has less than 5 percent of the world’s people and consumes 20 percent of its resources. What happens when 10 or 20 percent of the world wants to live like Americans?

In the early 1990s, William Rees and Mathis Wackernagel conceived of the Global Footprint Network (gfn), a model for estimating the ecological demands that various standards of living put on the planet. They calculated that the average person on Earth needs 4.4 acres of land and sea to support him. To maintain current living standards, the average person in China needs 5.4 acres, and the typical American needs nearly 20 acres.

Ehrlich, who still lectures as a professor in population studies at Stanford, estimates that for the average human to live like the average American, we would need four or five more Earths.

Estimates of Earth’s carrying capacity vary wildly. But most serious estimates fall between 10 and 20 billion people.

That size population, though, would require revolutionary changes from our world as it is today, which is already facing supply problems with only 7 billion. Clearly, to bring this planet to the point where it would comfortably support a population two to three times what it is now would require far better stewardship of its resources than we exercise, and far greater cooperation within that population.

Realistically, could that ever happen?

We are beginning to approach the answer to our question.

Insatiable Demand

Those who claim the world is producing too many people have some compelling evidence.

Humanity is clearly on an unsustainable course. We simply cannot continue to mismanage, consume and pollute the way we are right now. Current demand is rapidly depleting current supplies of finite resources like oil, coal, natural gas, metals, minerals and even water. New discoveries of easily accessed sources are getting more rare, and older sources are declining in output.

Meanwhile, demand continues to rise. Last year oil use reached a record high of 87.4 million barrels a day. Based on the gfn model and present rates of growth in demand, Rees and Wackernagel calculate that mankind will need two Earths’ worth of resources—before we even hit 2040. They also estimate that it takes the planet 18 months to regenerate what humanity consumes in 12 months. “Humanity is living off its ecological credit card,” Wackernagel said in 2006.

Peaking supply and rising demand point to an inevitable crunch that, at the very least, will drive prices up to levels that could ruin already fragile economies.

One obvious sign of the approach of this crisis point is the means by which more and more resources are being collected today. Easily accessible reservoirs of crucial resources are disappearing, so governments and corporations have begun to exploit more difficult-to-reach, expensive, environmentally risky and even dangerous sources. Oil is being coaxed out of the inhospitable Arctic and from the ocean depths, where it creates disasters like the massive Gulf of Mexico spill in the summer of 2010. It is coming from tar sands, a costly process that takes an enormous amount of energy to harvest and convert into a usable form. Natural gas is being mined through hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” which can produce 80 million gallons of toxic wastewater per well and may have other environmental drawbacks. Rare earth minerals, used in a variety of modern technologies, are in short supply. Because of the environmental dangers of mining them, America shut down its rare earth production years ago. Meanwhile, China bought up a virtual monopoly on these commodities, and now is able to practically hold to ransom the rest of the world that seeks to use them.

One of the most basic human needs is food, but modern food production now faces rising oil and gas prices, which increase food production costs at every level of the process, including for the pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. Phosphorus, crucial for fertilizer, cannot keep up with rising demand. Arable land is becoming scarcer as we degrade and erode our soil with ruinous farming practices. Most of the world’s big fisheries are experiencing dramatic declines in supply. Adverse weather events like droughts and floods are increasing, which reduce crop yields or even wipe out harvests.

Look at these concerns in the big picture: Already, more than a billion of the world’s people are undernourished, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (fao) says. Meanwhile, food production is rising at only about half the rate of global population and food demand.

More People, More Suffering

For those of us who take basic needs like decent food and clean water for granted, it is easy to overlook the vast swaths of fellow Earth-dwellers who have little of either. For so many, the problem of resource scarcity is as real as the gnawing pain in their empty, distended bellies.

Every day almost 4,000 children die from waterborne diseases. Nearly a billion people lack access to safe water. The fao says that number will rise to 1.8 billion by 2025. Over 2.5 billion don’t have adequate sanitation.

Drought and food shortages in the Sahel region of West Africa are putting 23 million lives at risk, the UN says. Several African countries have suffered from these problems consistently for the past few decades, but they are growing worse. The UN Children’s Fund estimated earlier this year that a million young children in the Sahel region risk death or permanent disability from severe acute malnutrition. Malnutrition contributes to about a third of the deaths of children under age 5.

How much of these crises are attributable to the raw pressure of overpopulation? We cannot ignore the plain fact that most of the world’s population growth is happening in less developed areas. While birthrates in much of the First World aren’t even at replacement levels, Africa and Asia are reproducing like mad. Based on current trends, Africa’s population would double to 2.1 billion by 2050; Asia would add another 1.3 billion. By 2050, the world’s less-developed regions would hold 85 percent of the world’s 9.2 billion people. The great majority would grow up in conditions of moderate to extreme want—like the 2 billion people who already survive on less than $2 per day.

Of the 80 million babies born in developing countries each year, 20 million are in the world’s poorest nations. In these cases, growth in human population directly correlates to growth in human suffering.The more people, the more suffering!

However, in most of these cases, blaming the crisis on “too many people” is simplistic and misguided. The truth is more complicated.

Many analysts say there is still plenty of food and water to go around. It just isn’t getting to where it is needed. Why? Economic trouble, poverty, rising unemployment, dropping incomes, rising food prices, bad leadership, corruption, violence, war.

This truth lies at the crux of our fundamental question! The problem isn’t that the Earth lacks good resources, it’s that people lack good resource management. It isn’t too many humans—it’s too much human nature.

This dangerous reality is about to explode in our faces!

Resource Wars

With many population- and resource-related issues, one can easily foresee mankind soon starting to hit some immovable walls. There is no “central planning” to address most of these questions.

What is beginning to emerge, then, is an increasingly combative environment in which each country angles to secure its own future by staking its claims at whatever cost it deems necessary. Author Michael Klare says the world is plunging into “a crisis of resource depletion.” The title of his book is as chilling as it is fitting: A Race for What’s Left.

Africa and Latin America are becoming battlegrounds, particularly between China and Europe, over who will control the commodities locked away there. Several countries, especially in Asia, anticipate trouble on the horizon and have been snapping up huge tracts of African farmland—not to feed Africans, but to feed their own people. More and more, major powers are treating each other based on competition over energy resources, with energy exporters virtually weaponizing the political leverage they wield against their dependent importers.

History vividly illustrates the consequences of such rivalries: broken economies, societal upheaval, famine, war.

But it is not just history that should raise our concerns. These are exactly the sorts of perilous conditions that biblical prophecy reveals will besiege our world in its final days, a time we have now entered. Epic clashes over resources, within and among populations, are coming!

The Bible describes these events alongside the sudden emergence of a global economic superpower. This force will strike out in aggressive imperialistic fashion, gobbling up resources and even enslaving whole peoples to satiate its covetousness and stoke its engines! Scripture also describes the exact size of a combined Asiatic army—a multitude that would never have been possible before the population on that continent grew to the size it is today! (Revelation 9:16).

This is how “this present evil world,” as the Bible describes it, will come to its violent end! Scripture says the warfare will become so slaughterous that not a single human being would be left alive—unless God Himself intervenes to stop it! (Matthew 24:21-22).

Thankfully, that is exactly what He will do. These monumental world wars are not the end of the story on the human population. Biblical prophecy also reveals what lies beyond the ferocious end of this age.

The Coming Population Explosion!

The human race has produced four times as many people in the last 100 years as we did in the previous 5,900 years! And consider what happened in the brutal 20th century: two massive world wars and countless smaller wars, several famines, disease epidemics, pestilence. Yet the global population still boomed from 1.6 billion in 1900 to 7 billion people today!

The rocketing population rate isn’t a result of people having more children—in fact, birth rates are lower now than during previous periods in history. The difference is that people are living longer and having children who survive infancy.

What would happen if world conditions suddenly changed even more drastically for the better?

What would happen if there were no war, no famine, no disease epidemics, no infant death or other blights that shorten life spans and wipe out whole groups of people? How would this affect quality of life, fertility, life spans—and population growth?

Whether or not you believe it, the sure word of biblical prophecy promises that this is exactly what will happen!

Present world conditions reveal the imminence of the greatest event in history: the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. When He returns, Christ will establish a far better world than the one our children are being born into.

The prophecies in Scripture describe conditions of peace, prosperity, abundance, good health and strong families that will prevail for century after century after century—10 of them, in fact (e.g. Revelation 20:4). They promise that people will obey God’s health laws and spiritual laws on a broad scale. As a result, there will be no sickness, no pain, no suffering. There will be, as Herbert Armstrong wrote in Mystery of the Ages, “vigorous, vibrant good health, filled with dynamic interest in life, enthusiastic interest in constructive activities bringing happiness and joy.”

Clearly, these are conditions extremely conducive to population growth even more explosive than this planet has already seen over the past century.

Now, as the current strains over resources well illustrate, indiscriminate population growth is not desirable. Our planet contains a finite amount of God-given resources over which He has made us stewards.

Earth cannot sustain several billion people who all consume and waste resources like Americans do today. It cannot indefinitely provide for multiplying people who pollute its waters and skies, turn its forests into deserts, strip its soils and depopulate its animal species.

However, biblical prophecy offers practical insight into how these destructive practices will come to an end. It provides exhilarating details about how the questions of population expansion and resource management will be handled. It vividly describes a world where people treat this planet with respect—where they properly steward its resources—where they strive to maximize Earth’s productive potential, not just for themselves but also for their children and grandchildren—and where, as a result, they enjoy God’s richest blessings!

Be Fruitful and Multiply

Just as He told Adam and Eve, God wants human beings to fill the Earth! (e.g. Psalm 128). And He promises that, after He prevents them from annihilating themselves, they will do so again. In Isaiah 27:6, for example, He prophesies, “Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.”

That future population boom takes on an inspiring dimension when viewed in the context of God’s great purpose for the human race.

God made man in His own image and likeness; He gave him dominion over the animals; He told him to subdue the Earth—to govern it; He commissioned him to dress and keep the world around him—to work it and watch over it (Genesis 1:26-29; 2:15; Psalm 8:4-8). Do you know why?

The Bible makes clear that these responsibilities are intended to prepare human beings for much greater opportunities in the future!

Once you grasp the incredible potential of humanity, then the awesome answer to how many people Earth can support begins to emerge: Ultimately, from God’s perspective, the more human beings, the better.

How to Accommodate a Population Boom

Today, 29 percent of Earth’s surface is land, and only 10 percent of that is cultivatable. Not even 3 percent of the Earth’s surface is suitable for food production.

The Bible prophesies that these restrictive conditions are about to change radically.

Jesus Christ is about to be crowned King of kings and Lord of lords. His government will rule the whole Earth. Thus, with guidance from the Creator, mankind will learn to successfully “dress and keep” the material creation as the first humans were instructed but failed to do. The curse that God placed on the land because of Adam’s sin, which makes farming and food production far more laborious, will be lifted (Genesis 3:17-19; Isaiah 55:13).

Better land management practices, amplified by God’s blessings, will reclaim mile upon mile of wilderness and desert, making them habitable and productive (Isaiah 35:1-2, 6-7). By following God’s agricultural laws, mankind will produce food without depleting the soil. Encumbrances like pests, blights, diseases, droughts, floods and other disasters will be all but eliminated; favorable weather will be the rule (e.g. Deuteronomy 28:4-5, 10, 12; Ezekiel 34:26-27). Fields, crops, orchards and vines will be so productive and yields will be so great that farmers will be unable to keep up; they will still be harvesting when planting season comes (Amos 9:13-14). This and other prophecies describe food production—gardens and animal husbandry—taking place even within cities (e.g. Jeremiah 33:12).

Increased agricultural prosperity and higher crop yields will substantially increase the land’s ability to sustain a burgeoning human population. More people will be able to live off the resources of fewer acres.

In addition, God promises to increase the acreage of habitable land, actually reshaping the planet’s topography in order to make room for more and still more people! Read the description in Isaiah 41:15-16 of a huge threshing instrument leveling mountains. This prophecy provides marvelous proof that the Bible was divinely inspired, not merely the imaginings of uneducated camel herders: The need for such a machine wouldn’t even enter the mind of a man living in a world with only 200 million people! God, however, knew there would come a time when these continents would reach maximum capacity, and humankind would simply need more land!

In the World Tomorrow, under God’s direction, with human beings practicing good stewardship and enjoying phenomenal health and wealth, the world population will grow well beyond 7 billion! It will far surpass 10 billion, even 20 billion!

The deeper into the Millennium we go, and the more populated Earth becomes, the more critical good stewardship will become. Mankind will need to be increasingly cognizant of reducing trash, of employing innovative ways of dealing with human waste, of drawing upon clean, sustainable energy sources. And you can be sure that God won’t simply give mankind all the answers. He will supply laws and guidelines, provide wise counsel, and then challenge us to find our own solutions.

How many people can our planet support? Perhaps the best answer is this: The better stewards we are, the larger the human population can be.

Still More People!

The fact is, God doesn’t tell us how many people Earth can host. It seems likely He had a number in mind when He created the planet at a certain size, with specific amounts of resources, and humans with certain land, soil, water and mineral requirements to sustain a life. But He may continue to let the human race grow in responsibility and wisdom as we approach that answer through analysis and experience.

However it unfolds, we can be sure that the civilization that God governs—even with an enormous human population—will be clean, efficient, organized, harmonious and fabulously beautiful.

Even that, however, is not the end of the story. The Bible also reveals that at the end of a thousand years, there will be a sudden, massive population explosion, when all human beings who have lived and died throughout history without knowing God will be resurrected to physical life (see Revelation 20:11-12; Ezekiel 37:1-14). Historical population estimates suggest that this will be somewhere around 100 billion people!

What a contrast it will be for those people, who only experienced life as it has existed under flawed human mismanagement, suddenly awakening within a world that perfectly provides all the needs of a population several times larger than the one they left! They will receive a powerful, living illustration of the importance of good stewardship!

By the end of that period of judgment, during which those people will build houses and plant vineyards, continuing to tend to the Earth (Isaiah 65:17-25), surely this planet will have been used to its maximum! It will be humming with life, filled with people who have been educated in proper stewardship, caring well for whatever gifts and resources God blesses them with.

At that point, the Bible shows that this remarkable human race will be able to apply those lessons on a much larger scale.

When one understands the unfathomable vastness of God’s plan for man, and our Creator’s awesome purpose for human beings, and the incredible potential bound up within every last child created in His likeness, then one can appreciate the true beauty of this glorious population explosion!

Sidebar: Chilling ‘Solutions’ to Population Growth

Many brilliant people have contemplated our resource reality in great depth. They have recognized the problem, applied their sharpest reasoning, and come up with exactly the opposite of God’s remedy—a “final solution,” if you will: Get rid of the people.

The way they see it, the more people, the worse off we are. They are bigoted against their own human race. Radical environmentalists, for example, freely admit that they think humans are basically viruses. They want to take civilization back to hunter-gatherer days. Their answer is not better resource stewardship. Not less human nature. Fewer humans.

Some of these influential individuals have promoted very draconian and quite chilling ways to accomplish this goal. These people share much in common with some of history’s most oppressive governments. Both use the facts on population and resource use to justify outlawing large families, forced sterilization, aborting babies, female infanticide and other dreadful “solutions.”

In China, over a third of married couples are restricted to having one child. Beijing credits the policy with preventing 400 million births since 1979. The head of the British government’s Sustainable Development Commission, Sir Jonathon Porritt, considers that a smashing success, calling it “the biggest carbon dioxide abatement since Kyoto came into force.” His organization, the Optimum Population Trust, seeks to combat greenhouse gas emissions by cutting Britain’s population in half—through means it doesn’t specify.

Germany Is Growing Resentful and Angry

Germany Is Growing Resentful and Angry

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It’s all over the news that Europeans are fed up with Germany, particularly its consistent demand for making cutbacks in order to correct the Continent’s economic problems.
From the July 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

But what about the Germans? What do they think of all the anti-German sentiment? And more significantly, how will they respond?

Think about this crisis from the perspective of the average German. Since 2008, his nation has been saddled with the unpopular, high-risk, hugely expensive task of rescuing Europe. The Germans didn’t ask for this. And they certainly aren’t responsible for the chaos: Neither the government nor the people have taken on suffocating debt or spent profligately on frivolous comforts; the Germans don’t take long siestas, work six-hour days or pay themselves annual bonuses for simply showing up to work. To the contrary, the Germans have worked hard, saved their money and wisely lived within their means. Yet, Germany is expected to endure tremendous risk and make major sacrifices to rescue its neighbors. It has already forked out tens of billions in bailouts, and is on the hook for tens of billions more.

For what? Germany’s European counterparts are thankless, unrepentant—and in many cases, openly hostile.

Viewed from this perspective, one can understand why the Germans are frustrated and resentful. The troubling question is, where will the anger and resentment lead?

The German public’s disdain for Greece is no secret. “Germans are now predominantly of the opinion that they would be better off if Greece left the eurozone,” said Carsten Hefeker, a professor of economics and an expert on the euro at the University of Siegen. “Nothing is in writing,” said Guntram B. Wolff, deputy director at Brussels research group Bruegel, “but people really are clearly and openly talking about” Greece leaving. As German daily Die Welt put it, “The German citizens are certainly not prepared to finance Greece’s vacation from reality.” To the contrary, many of them want to give Greece and the other profligate eurozone countries a lesson in reality.

In May, Victor Davis Hanson, a historian and Stanford professor, put Germany’s welling resentment in historic context. “There is one general rule about the history of the modern state of Germany since its inception in 1871,” he explained. “Anytime Germany has been both unified and isolated, armed conflict has followed” (emphasis added).

Hanson noted the parallels between events leading up to World Wars i and ii and events unfolding today. “In other words, serially hurt pride and a loss of deterrence seem to have been keys to the outbreak of the three German wars,” he warned. Today, Europe’s debt crisis and the growing backlash against Berlin’s leadership is once again wounding Germany’s pride and arousing resentment and animosity.

As Hanson wrote: “Let’s wait and see what happens when Europeans not only default on lots of German-backed loans, but also defiantly announce that they should not have been given them in the first place—and thus should not have to give them back at all. Injury for Germany is one thing; insult on top of it might be quite another.”

Again, one can easily identify with Germans’ frustration over their reckless, thankless neighbors. Nevertheless, their welling resentment is an alarming trend. You’re human; you know where such emotion can lead. And when it comes to Germany, history reveals a unique tendency for deep-seated national resentment to end in intense conflict.

Victor Davis Hanson concluded with a chilling and important warning. “History is quietly whispering to us in our age of amnesia: ‘I would not keep poking the Germans unless you are able to deal with them when they wake up.’”

Sin Is … Are You Sure You Know?

Sin Is … Are You Sure You Know?

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To enjoy the blessings God wants to give us, we must deeply understand the way of life to avoid.
From the July 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

“Sin is the transgression of the law,” says 1 John 3:4. This important scripture teaches us where to look for a definition of sin: to the Ten Commandments. The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 7:7: “Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law.”

But this is only a start for understanding sin. We need to know not only the definition of sin, but also where sin starts and how it operates in our lives. We need to understand the root cause of sin in humanity. And we need to fully understand the consequences of sin.

Romans 7:14 says the law is “spiritual.” This means several things. The most important lesson this verse teaches us is that there are eternal consequences for disobedience to God’s spiritual law. Romans 6:23 tells us that “the wages of sin is death.” The penalty for sin unrepented of is eternal death! This fact should drive us to be sure we understand deeply the truth about sin.

But Romans 7:14 also teaches us that the truth about sin must be revealed by God. It is spiritual knowledge. God is willing to reveal this knowledge to anyone who will listen and obey.

Where Did Sin Begin?

Who committed the first sin? Was it mother Eve? No.

The first sin in the universe was committed by the great cherub Lucifer, who became Satan the devil. To understand the root cause of sin in humanity, we must look to Satan’s life and learn from his mistakes.

What caused Lucifer to sin? Through the Prophet Ezekiel, God says to Satan, “Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity [lawlessness] was found in thee” (Ezekiel 28:14-15). God specially created Lucifer to be a great angel and trained him at the very throne of God to administer God’s government on Earth. (For more information about this important history, request a free copy of The Incredible Human Potential by Herbert W. Armstrong.)

Lucifer saw how God lived. He saw firsthand the fruits of His righteousness and character. He also had inside knowledge as to God’s plans for the universe. Ezekiel 28:12 describes Lucifer as a being who was “full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.” God gave Lucifer everything he needed to be successful. But something went tragically wrong.

“Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee” (verse 15). Lucifer sinned! A great spiritual being, who had all the credentials to please God, rebelled against God’s law. Lucifer took on a rebellious nature and became Satan the devil. He became God’s number one adversary.

Verse 17 tells us why: “Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness.”

The root cause of Satan’s sin was his own vanity! Very pleased with all the gifts God created in him, Satan corrupted his wisdom. He began to trust in his own abilities to decide what was right or wrong. He began to feel that he was above God’s law. He began to feel that he was better than God—that he had a better way. Eventually, he decided to overthrow God.

“For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:13-14). Satan’s vanity led him to believe he was as good or better than God Himself.

What is the root cause of human sin? It is vanity. The Ten Commandments show us what sin is; vanity causes us to do it!

If we are going to overcome sin, we must know what sin is. But we must also understand what causes us to sin. Just like Satan, it is our ownvanity that causes us to think that we can decide for ourselves what is right and wrong—that we are equal to or better than God! When we sin, it is because we think we know better than God.

First Human Sin Caused by Vanity

That is what caused Eve to sin. Read the first five verses of Genesis 3. If we look closely at this example, we see the root cause of her sin: Satan got to her through vanity. Satan made Eve doubt God’s words. He said that she could become a god; he appealed to her vanity.

God had explained to Adam and Eve that their purpose for being on Earth was to become members of the God Family. God explained that this process would take time. But Satan told Eve she could have it all immediately. She could have God-level power to decide right and wrong—instantly!

Eve succumbed to her vanity and, as verse 6 explains, used human reasoning to justify her sin.

Christ Conquered Satan With Humility

Satan used a similar tactic on Jesus Christ. Matthew records this monumental confrontation in his Gospel. “And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:3-4). Jesus Christ set the perfect example of humility.

Humility protects us from committing sin. Satan tried to get to Jesus through vanity by saying: “If thou be the Son of God.” Satan knew Christ was the Son of God. In an appeal to vanity, Satan tried to get Christ to perform a miracle to prove it. This would have caused Christ to act outside the scope of God’s will and the spirit of His law—causing Christ to sin. God had willed that Christ should fast until after His confrontation with Satan. Matthew 4:1 says that “Jesus [was] led up of the Spirit.”

Paul wrote to the Romans: “therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:10). If Jesus Christ had made the stones into bread, He would have yielded to Satan and violated the First Commandment. By creating bread, He would not have shown love to God or His fellow man; He would have served self! In an effort to prove that He was the Son of God, He would have succumbed to vanity and worshiped Satan!

Read through the entire account. Satan begins each temptation with an appeal to vanity.

If we are going to succeed at putting sin out of our lives, then we must become sensitive to our own human vanity. Every human being is subject to it! It is a mistake to think otherwise.

God has allowed us to come under Satan’s sway because that is exactly what we have chosen—and because He is teaching us that vanity gets us nothing.

Satan is about to lose out on everything. God does not want that for us.

Who does God look to? “[T]o him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and [who] trembleth at my word” (Isaiah 66:2). This verse is an apt description of Jesus Christ. He beat Satan by remaining humble and relying on God’s Word. We must learn to do the same.

Sin is a very deep subject, spiritually. All too often we look at the “do’s and don’ts” aspect of sin. But we need to look more deeply for the causes of our sin. We must examine ourselves according to the spirit of God’s law. That will force us to ask ourselves, Why do I do the things I do?

What gets us into the most trouble, spiritually? If we are honest with ourselves, the answer will always come up vanity!

Attitude of Mind

If vanity is the root cause of sin, then where does sin start in a human being? Jesus Christ showed that sin starts in the mind—or as the Bible says, in the “heart.”

Jesus said, “A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things” (Matthew 12:34-35).

“‘[T]he heart’ as used in the biblical sense, refers to the attitude, the intent or purpose,” Herbert W. Armstrong wrote. “Sin results from a wrong attitude, intent, desire, which is an attitude of mind. Yet sin is also an act. It is the act of yielding to an attitude, desire or purpose contrary to love toward God or toward humans” (July 11, 1983).

Mr. Armstrong taught that there are two basic ways of life: the “give” way of love toward God and fellow man; and the “get” way of rebellion toward God, selfishness, envy and jealousy toward other men. This can also be expressed as two attitudes of mind, or intents of the heart. Our attitudes express either love or selfishness.

We need to examine our intents, or attitudes. We must ask ourselves: Are we really hungering after God’s way of life? “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6).

A Christian should drive himself to be like God. We should truly desire God’s way of life as much as we crave food and water! If we are truly seeking that way, then we have the “right” or a “good” attitude of mind. Those who have a well-developed “good” attitude are less likely to be caught in sin. These people desire what God has to offer.

On the other hand, a bad attitude, or evil intent of the heart, is to love the ways of this world. The Apostle John warns against such an attitude. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 John 2:15-17).

If we are not seeking God’s righteousness, then we are seeking the pleasures of this world. It can only be one way or the other. We cannot have one foot in God’s way of life and one foot in the world (Matthew 6:24). We either have both feet in God’s way of life or both feet in this world. Attempting to have one foot in God’s way of life and one foot in the world actually means having both feet in the world.

Paul referred to man’s civilization as “this present evil world” (Galatians 1:4). This world is evil because it is really Satan’s world. “Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). Satan, the prince of the power of the air, inspires the attitude of “get” in human beings. It is he who works on our minds to desire what this world has to offer: self-glorification, pride, envy, jealousy and resentment toward authority.

Do we love this world? If we do, then we will get trapped in sin. Heed John’s warning in 1 John 2:17. This world is going to come to a grand-smash conclusion. If we have this world’s desires as our own, then we are doomed to share its penalties!

Deepen your understanding of what sin is. You owe it to Jesus Christ, who took on Himself your sins, to work hard to put sin out of your life. To accomplish this, you need to truly understand the root cause of sin: vanity. You also need to understand that sin starts in the heart and reflects an attitude of mind.

This world has a very casual attitude about sin. That is a terrible mistake. The ultimate penalty of sin is eternal death. It is a subject we must not take lightly.

Antibiotics: No Quick Fix

Antibiotics: No Quick Fix

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What happens when we treat the effect without addressing the cause?
From the July 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

We are facing “an end to modern medicine as we know it” if current trends continue. That’s the diagnosis of World Health Organization Director General Margaret Chan. “Things as common as strep throat or a child’s scratched knee could once again kill,” she warned in March in a speech in Denmark.

Why the crisis? The world is quickly running out of antibiotics. Bacteria resistant to nearly all known antibiotics are multiplying. Few new antibiotics seem forthcoming. “In terms of new replacement antibiotics, the pipeline is virtually dry,” warned Dr. Chan. “The cupboard is nearly bare.”

Some of these antibiotic-resistant diseases kill half of all people they infect.

How did we reach this point?

Breeding Superbugs

Eighty percent of American antibiotics are used not to treat humans, but farm animals. Why? Antibiotics encourage animals to grow faster, and they suppress diseases.

In mass-scale industrial food production, animals are commonly fed the wrong food and crammed into unsanitary living conditions, so they get sick easily. Recognizing this problem, farmers and meat-packers, rather than addressing the cause and improving the conditions, simply dose their animals with antibiotics.

Scientists have warned for decades that this practice—a constant low dose of antibiotics in a large number of animals—creates exactly the environment you would need if you were deliberately trying to breed antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

Last year, the Arizona-based Translational Genomics Research Institute tested 136 samples of meat from 26 grocery shops and found high levels of Staphylococcus aureus. Ninety-six percent of the staph bacteria was resistant to at least one type of antibiotic. Fifty-two percent of it was resistant to at least three types.

“This is one more reason to be very careful when you’re handling raw meat and poultry in the kitchen,” warned the head researcher on the study, Dr. Lance Price. “You can cook away these bacteria. But the problem is when you bring in that raw product, you almost inevitably contaminate your kitchen with these bacteria.”

The Food and Drug Administration has acknowledged that routinely feeding antibiotics to animals is dangerous, but it has done little to change the practice. In March, a U.S. district court judge ordered the fda to do more. But if the fda restricts or bans the use of antibiotics to stimulate growth (like the European Union already has), the food industry still has to find a way to prevent disease.

“The media’s coverage of the decision has focused on the use of antibiotics for growth promotion,” writes the Atlantic. “While ending these uses would be an important step, it would not be sufficient to end the misuse of antibiotics in industrial food animal production. As long as low doses of antibiotics may be continuously fed to food animals to prevent disease, the industrial operations that produce the majority of food animals in this country will continue to serve as giant incubators for antibiotic-resistant bacteria” (March 30).

But that’s a problem we refuse to confront. The quick fix is far too easy.

Popping Pills

Sadly, we often take the same approach in our own lives: We ignore the cause and pop the pill—because it’s easier.

Prof. Sarah Harper, director of the Oxford Institute of Population Aging, warned in March that she saw a future where drugs tackled the symptoms and the original problem was left untouched. That future, in fact, is already here.

Professor Harper contrasted the way governments confront smoking with the way they address obesity—two “lifestyle epidemics.” Smoking-related deaths have fallen as public health initiatives persuade people to stop smoking, dealing with the cause. Deaths related to obesity also appear to be falling, yet obesity rates are rising. Why? In this case, rather than making lifestyle changes, many people are treating obesity with drugs.

“[W]e’re moving to a culture where rather than having healthy lifestyles, we actually can, if you like, pop a pill,” she said. “We have to ask if we wish our future to be one where individuals at increasingly younger ages pop pills rather than eat healthily, stop smoking, reduce alcohol, and take up exercise.”

More and more, the answer seems to be yes. It’s so much easier to take a pill than to change your life. But this refusal to confront the causes of the problem takes its toll.

Fixing the Cause

The fact is, there is no such thing as a quick fix. You may be able to ignore the problem and cover up one symptom with drugs—for a time. But just listen to the end of the television commercial for all the nasty side effects along the way. Then realize that using these drugs is actually breeding sicknesses that can withstand them.

The real solution is always to correct the cause of the problem. To survive, smokers have to stop smoking. To get rid of sickness, we have to keep health laws like nutritious diet, cleanliness and hygiene, sunshine and fresh air, exercise, plenty of rest, avoiding injury, and keeping a positive mental attitude. Addressing the cause of sickness and disease is no quick fix—but it has no side effects!

In Pursuit of Excellence

In Pursuit of Excellence

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The elite athleticism of Olympians contains an important lesson for all of us.
From the July 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

On July 27, an unprecedented number of television viewers—over 4 billion—are expected to tune in to watch the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, making it the largest tv event in history. What was the second-largest television event? The opening ceremony of the 2008 Games in Beijing.

Starting all the way back in Olympia, Greece, in the eighth century b.c., the Olympic Games have seized the attention of sports enthusiasts and almost everyone else who has watched them. They consistently transcend the typical sports markets, captivating worldwide attention as nothing else can. Modern Olympic Games connect spectators with the global community. They also contain a riveting microcosmic view of national rivalries and competitions. But the primary reason viewers and attendees flock to the Games is to witness the showcase of sheer, inspirational athleticism.

Ancient Greek Olympians strove to emulate the valiant traits of Homeric warriors. Many of these early participants lived during times of peace, but they were inspired by the strength of Ajax, the speed of Achilles, the vigor of Ulysses, and the arete (“excellence” and “character”) of Diomedes. The ancient Greeks’ desire to demonstrate these Homeric ideals of a warrior’s arete, even outside of war, propelled many of them to compete in the Olympics. There, through dazzling feats, they pursued glory on the field of athletics instead of the field of battle.

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Athletes of the modern technological era strive to eclipse records against the measuring tape and stopwatch in pursuit of precise, exacting excellence. Their quest for triumph pits them not only against their contemporary competitors, but also against every athlete who has lived and set records before them. This ambitious pursuit cannot be undertaken without great quantities of arete.

Race for the Incorruptible Crown

The Holy Bible draws on elite-level athletics to drive home some profound lessons. The Olympic Games were enormously popular during the first century a.d. when the Apostle Paul lived, and his familiarity with competitive sports spawned several of his most effective analogies. Every four years, the Isthmian Games—like the Olympic Games in all points but location—were celebrated in the narrow part of the Isthmus of Corinth. The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary says Paul’s sports analogies would have been especially powerful to the church members in Corinth because the Isthmian Games “were to the Greeks rather a passion than a mere amusement: hence their suitableness as an image of Christian earnestness.” These competitions were “a subject of patriotic pride to the Corinthians, who lived in the immediate neighborhood.”

Well aware of the Games’ enormous popularity, Paul told church members in Corinth that the life of a Christian is similar to the quest for victory they saw in these competitive runners: “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain” (1 Corinthians 9:24).

Paul pointed out that the stakes for the aspiring Christian are much higher than those of an athlete: “Now they [push themselves] to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible” (verse 25).

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Paul said that he exerted himself to the utmost so that he would not fail to secure that incorruptible crown of eternal life: “I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring [it] into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (verses 26-27).

This passage in 2 Corinthians is just one of several places where the Apostle Paul pointed his Christian brethren to the finest athletes of their day. It was an analogy he often employed because these athletes, like today’s contenders, were brimming with passion, zeal, and a deep-rooted drive to demonstrate arete in their sport—even though doing so required them to bring their bodies into subjection with the most arduous training regimens.

The Bible makes plain that zeal is fundamental to the life of a Christian (Isaiah 59:17), and that self-discipline is an absolute necessity for one striving to live like Christ (Proverbs 25:28). It reveals that Christians must struggle to invest their hearts deeply into all that they do (Colossians 3:23), and must strive to become perfect (Matthew 5:48). And a Christian must do all this with joy (Philippians 4:4).

It is true that Olympic competitions can often become a microcosm of the rivalries between nations. But athleticism can also occasion the noblest zeal and passion—and can showcase the heights the human spirit is capable of achieving.

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If you join the 4 billion people tuning into the Olympic Games this summer, consider the self-discipline required for these world-class athletes to have achieved such mastery over themselves. Reflect on the sheer effort they exert in their quest for excellence and to bring home a medal. And think on the spiritual parallels. Can you exert such effort in your spiritual life? Remember that before you is a race for an incorruptible, eternal prize!