A Dramatic Break From Iran

From the September 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

Hamas was once firmly in the Iranian/Syrian camp. Not anymore.

As Syrian President Bashar Assad began his brutal crackdown on his own people last year, Hamas suddenly found itself on the same side as bad guys. It had always painted itself as the friend of the weak, against the strong oppressor. Now, it was quickly losing credibility across the Middle East.

At first Hamas kept quiet, not wanting to offend its patron, Iran, on the one hand, and fearing the loss of popular support on the other. It resisted pressure from Iran to organize demonstrators to support Assad, and Iran began withdrawing its support.

But the dramatic break came in February. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh publicly rejected both Assad and Iran while on a visit to Egypt. “I salute all the nations of the Arab Spring and I salute the heroic people of Syria who are striving for freedom, democracy and reform,” he told thousands of supporters in the al-Azhar Mosque.

“We are marching towards Syria, with millions of martyrs,” chanted the crowd. “No Hezbollah and no Iran.”

At the same time, Hamas moved its central politburo in exile from Syria to Qatar. Since then, Hamas has been courting alternative donors. At the end of June, Hamas leader Khaled Meshal met with both Egyptian President Mohammad Mursi and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Hamas has also been rebuilding its relationship with Jordan. Meshal returned to Jordan in January this year for the first time since being kicked out in 1999. He met Jordanian King Abdullah ii both in the January visit and in June.

Hamas seems to be steadily moving away from Iran and into a relationship with the Gulf states, Turkey and Jordan—exactly as the Bible prophesied.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah is also finding itself under pressure. Faced with the same dilemma as Hamas—torn between public opinion and Iranian backers—Hezbollah, so far, has stuck with Iran. The group was set up by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, so its ties with Iran are stronger. It is a Shiite movement, unlike the Sunni Hamas.

As Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah told thousands of Shiite supporters in south Beirut in July: “Our missiles are Syrian.” Syria supported Hezbollah when it was still in the cradle. And Nasrallah vows to return the favor, even as the Assad regime crumbles.

But Hezbollah’s stance is hurting the group. As the Assad regime falls, Hezbollah, and perhaps the entire Shiite population of Lebanon, is likely to take a major hit. “Hezbollah’s vast arsenal is already in the crosshairs of an increasingly emboldened Sunni opposition,” Daniel Nisman wrote in the Times of Israel, referring to a growing anti-Hezbollah movement in Lebanon, especially within the past year.

In another piece, also in the Times of Israel, published July 26, Mitch Ginsburg spelled out a probable scenario for a post-Alawite-led Syria. He predicted it would lead to a rise in power for the Sunni Muslims in Lebanon and that it could push the country toward another civil war.

Lebanon will eventually join the Arab camp that opposes Iran. That’s not what we see on the map today, but it is coming! The civil war in Syria is making this happen. It has pushed Hamas away from Iran. That same pressure will eventually pry Hezbollah and Lebanon away from Iran too, or it will break Hezbollah entirely.

The Boy Who Became King

The Boy Who Became King

ivan-96/iStockphoto

Why it’s important for children to use their time wisely.
From the September 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

A recent study revealed that almost 5 million Americans play video games at least 40 hours a week—the equivalent of a full-time job. Imagine what talents these Americans could develop, what great things they could accomplish, if they devoted those 200 million hours to worthwhile pursuits!

Children have a golden opportunity to develop their talents because they have more time to do so—time that is much more difficult to come by during adulthood.

In ancient Israel, God was looking for one such youth—one who was productive and diligent with his time—who could one day replace Saul as king of Israel. At the end of His search, God sent the Prophet Samuel to the house of Jesse. There, he was to anoint one of Jesse’s sons to become king (1 Samuel 16).

Jesse presented his seven sons, one after the other. To Samuel, they all seemed suited for the honor. But as each son passed by, God told Samuel that this son was not the one chosen. God told Samuel, “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart” (verse 7). God does not see man as man sees man. He doesn’t look for the next attractive Hollywood-style star. He looks at who we are.

After God had rejected seven of Jesse’s sons, Samuel pressed the father to see if there were any other children in the family (verse 11). There was one more. He was in the fields, tending to the sheep.

In verse 12, the youngest of eight brothers is finally introduced—David. He was a pleasant-looking, average-size young man. One thing that really set him apart was how he used his time. Over weeks and months and years spent in the fields of Judea, working and even sleeping outdoors, David had grown physically strong. He protected the flock, wrestling and killing a lion and a bear. Even as a simple shepherd, David demonstrated the traits of a courageous warrior—taking on ferocious animals if he had to. But he had also developed his mind; he had become an outstanding musician and poet, and he had a balanced and well-rounded personality.

And yet, considering how his father overlooked him when Samuel arrived, David certainly wasn’t considered the star of the family. God actually chose the boy the rest of the family had voted “least likely to succeed”!

He was impressed with this young man’s heart.

Even though David was converted to God’s way of life as a teenager, and even though it was he whom Samuel anointed that night, he wouldn’t become king for another 17 years. Samuel actually sent him right back out into the field (verse 13). That says a lot about the amount of time involved in conversion. David didn’t just luckily stumble into his kingship as a teenager. He needed experience, he needed to grow, he needed to overcome sin and to build faith—he needed time.

David’s rise as a young man coincided with the decline of Saul, who had lost God’s Holy Spirit and was suffering from demonic influence. Saul, deeply discouraged, alternated between suicidal depression and fiery rage. His advisers became gravely concerned about his well-being. Finally, Saul agreed to let them find someone who could comfort him. They looked for someone who had developed an ability to play soothing music.

Notice verse 18: “Then answered one of the servants, and said, Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, that is cunning in playing, and a mighty valiant man, and a man of war, and prudent in matters, and a comely person, and the Lord is with him.”

David may not have been widely known at the time, but this royal servant obviously knew him and was aware of the unique skill set he had developed. During his life, David probably wrote hundreds of poems, psalms and songs. This servant recognized him as an accomplished musician and “prudent in matters”—a skillful communicator.

Saul arranged to have David come play for him. Verse 21 says, “And David came to Saul, and stood before him: and he loved him greatly; and he became his armourbearer.” Thus began a beautiful relationship that ended up revealing so much about David’s character. David was the rightful heir to the throne, yet he displayed not even a hint of jealousy or competition toward Saul. In fact, he became one of Saul’s most trusted advisers! As long as Saul remained king of Israel, David humbly submitted to him.

God was preparing David to become king—over time—by placing him exactly where he could learn how the royal court and the government of the kingdom functioned.

These verses reveal how young David spent his time. For all his accomplishments that are recorded, he devoted many hours, days, years of his youth to developing his talents, which are not recorded. He had to learn from childhood how to develop character to the point where he could be a courageous and faithful shepherd, then a loyal adviser, then much, much more. This young boy did not waste his youth. He was active, productive, diligent. He learned how to labor outdoors, how to focus on music and poetry, how to follow God’s law, how to love people, and how to become a man after God’s own heart.

Because of how this young man spent his time, God was able to take David—whom few thought would amount to anything—and turn him into a king!

The Global Consequences of America’s Drought

The Global Consequences of America’s Drought

Terry Shuck

Major drought was largely responsible for the downfall of ancient Rome. Is drought about to bring down another once-impressive civilization?
From the September 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

A historic, unrelenting drought is slowly, painfully, tightening its grip on the United States. Many people are feeling the effects—but too few realize how desperate the situation really is. But have you contemplated what this epic event means, not just for America, but for the world?

To people in wealthier nations, drought simply means hot weather, parched lawns and plants, and perhaps a higher-than-normal electric bill. A lack of rain is an annoyance. It’s like an itch, uncomfortable and irritating, but easily mitigated. Few consider drought to be catastrophic, even fatal.

But severe, prolonged drought, the kind that seems to be confronting America, is catastrophic—as catastrophic as financial and political meltdown, or mass social unrest and violence, or even large-scale war that kills tens of thousands. In fact, under the right conditions, a lack of rain can actually cause all these things.

Why the Ignorance?

The Roman Empire dominated human affairs from the first through the fifth centuries. At the time, there was no greater, more politically, militarily or technically advanced civilization on Earth. Rome’s territory included all land adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea, including North Africa, a large cut of the Middle East, all of Europe, and half of the British Isles.

But this all changed in the fourth and fifth centuries. Why? In part, because a severe, prolonged drought wreaked havoc on the city of Rome, thrusting the economy and politics of the capital into instability and chaos, and eventually causing the mighty empire to crumble!

The Romans weren’t nearly as ignorant as we are today about the impact of drought. There was a time when people understood that drought meant extreme hardship, suffering and, if it persisted, death. People understood that without rain, crops, fruit trees and pastures died, lakes and watering holes dried up, livestock starved. In the past, when a drought set in, farmers and their families, and even entire towns and cities, recognized early that they had two options: relocate or starve.

Although we’re in the 21st century, this reality has not changed. Except that unlike yesteryear, people today are ignorant to the fact that extreme drought kills.

Our ignorance stems largely from the fact that very few of us actually grow our own food. These days, cultivating food means strolling through the local, air-conditioned Walmart munching on free food samples while filling an oversize cart with all sorts of bright, colorful, plastic containers. Our food, in its journey from garden to gut, passes through an extensive network of tractors, conveyer belts, factories, blenders, chemical additives, trucks and stores. It’s prepared, processed and packaged, tied, dyed and fried, and in some cases, even buffed and waxed.

For many, this detachment has severed the connection between food production and nature.

But alas! Even in 2012, our food, at least the kind worth eating, still comes from the ground—and it still needs rain.

It’s true that the effects of drought have been mitigated by the use of wells and sophisticated irrigation systems, by globalizing the responsibility of food production, and by the creation of genetically modified, drought-tolerant seeds. But if the drought is extreme, or persists, such measures fall short. It’s like shooting a bear with too small of a gun: We can slow it down, create time and perhaps temporarily alleviate our fears. But in the end, the inevitable effects of drought will devour us.

And devouring us it is.

Epic Proportions

The present drought is America’s worst in more than half a century. Some are comparing conditions to the Dust Bowl conditions of the 1930s. It’s been described as a full-scale catastrophe, a “natural disaster of epic proportions.” By the end of June, more than 50 percent of the U.S. was experiencing moderate to extreme drought. The beginning of July brought no relief, and the plight has only intensified. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, this summer, 80 percent of the U.S. has been abnormally dry.

By mid-July, with summer only half over, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (usda) had already declared more than 1,000 counties in 26 states natural-disaster areas due to drought conditions.

The impact is dramatic and far-reaching. Across America, farmers are slaughtering livestock because there’s not enough pasture, and feed is far too expensive. This may mean lower beef prices in the short term. In the long term, it means most of us will be eating more artificially fed, hormone-filled chicken. On July 20, the usda reported that America’s cattle inventory was the smallest since the agency began a July count in 1973. In other words, America has as many cows today as it did nearly 40 years ago. Meanwhile, its population has shot up by nearly 100 million people.

The same goes for the price of food and the many household items that contain corn, soybeans and wheat. It’s shocking how many items today—from soda to baby food, peanut butter to powdered sugar, talcum to toothpaste—contain corn in some form. It’s the same with wheat and soybeans. In July, according to the United States Drought Monitor, almost 90 percent of America’s corn and soybean crops had been damaged or destroyed as a result of the drought. The result? The price of corn jumped 50 percent in a month, while soybeans hit record prices too. The price of wheat, another critical staple, increased 50 percent in five weeks.

It’s not hard to see how this will drive up food prices, which would most likely further undermine the economy. In fact, one economist believes the drought will knock 0.5 percent off the U.S. gross domestic product this year.

But think beyond the rising cost of food. What happens if the drought continues to worsen, or even continues into next year, or even the year after?

Anxieties about increasing food prices will be replaced by anxieties about actual shortages of corn, soybeans and wheat!

Consider too that America is responsible for growing half of the world’s corn, and is the world’s largest exporter of soybeans and wheat. Reuters reported in July that “the soaring prices in the United States—the world’s largest exporter of corn, soybeans and wheat—has rattled food markets worldwide on fears that food inflation will be imported, food aid or supplies for hungry nations from China to Egypt will not be available, and food riots could occur as in the past.”

The price of corn, wheat and soybeans has already surpassed levels reached during the drought of 2007/08, when rocketing food prices sparked riots in more than 30 countries.

Can you begin to grasp the magnitude of this crisis? In this globalized, interconnected world, persistent, widespread drought in a critical region—such as America’s breadbasket—doesn’t just mean agricultural disaster. It can mean financial and economic malaise, political and social chaos, even large-scale violence and wars.

Can other countries pick up the slack? Perhaps some. But it hasn’t stopped raining in much of Russia’s wheat-growing region in recent weeks. The same goes for Brazil. Australia produces an enormous volume of wheat, but it too is experiencing abnormal weather.

Meanwhile, the global appetite for food grows.

Major floods and droughts, reduced yields and increased demand all converging at the same moment—it would be the perfect storm!

What’s the Solution?

History shows many examples of drought and its side effects wiping out economies, sparking unrest, upending governments, setting off wars—and killing untold numbers of people.

This may sound fanciful. But to think such history cannot be repeated is shortsighted. While science has revolutionized agricultural production, it hasn’t come close to enabling mankind to produce food without water. And until it does, we’ll all be at the mercy of extreme, sustained drought!

So, what is the solution? How can you escape the drought?

Should we follow the example of Tom Vilsack, the U.S. secretary of agriculture, who told President Obama in July that he gets down on his knees every day and prays for rain?That would be an admirable start. Of course, it would be pointless if you didn’t sincerely believe in God. Therefore, the process begins with a person acquiring the humility and intellectual objectivity to prove the existence of God and that the Bible is the truth of God. Then, with your belief in God firm and your faith in the Bible secure, one would only have to study God’s Word to see how to avoid drought and other natural disasters.

Where would you begin such a study? A good place to start might be Leviticus 26, a chapter that explicitly instructs us how to receive the blessing of regular rain, followed by abundant crops and overflowing pantries.

Notice God’s instruction here: “If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full …” (verses 3-5).

God lays it out so simply: Obey me, and I’ll make sure you never suffer drought, or any other natural disaster!

Now notice what He says will happen as a result of disobedience to His law. Same chapter: “And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant … I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass: And your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits” (verses 15-20).

Again, God is explicit: Break my laws, and I will send drought so bad it will seem like the sky is one giant sheet of iron!

Leviticus 26, in addition to a host of other scriptures, reveals the ultimate solution to drought and other natural disasters: Repent, and obey God’s law!

Of course, that’s not about to happen—at least, not before these curses grow far more severe. Today’s society is so far removed from God that many will find that statement—let alone the thought of personal obedience to law—laughable. But this instruction applies on an individual level too. God promises those who submit to Him, who actively seek to obey His laws, in letter and spirit, that He will give them peace and security—including physical protection and sustenance.

It’s easy to tell you to repent, to love God’s law and start obeying it. But in order for you to do that, you must first be educated in God’s view of repentance. You see, repentance is the most difficult task a human being can pursue. Most people do not understand that it is infinitely more than simply being sorry, or experiencing shame or regret. Godly repentance is a spiritual and moral transformation, a psychological overhaul. It requires humility, selflessness, and an open, objective mind.

Most importantly, it requires a power that is beyond our capacity to produce.

Only God can empower you to achieve the repentance, and the level of obedience, that He seeks (Romans 2:4). The question is, are you prepared to ask God to give you this power, to meet the criteria He requires in order for Him to give it to you, and to then wholeheartedly commit yourself to this challenging, yet most exhilarating and exciting, life-altering experience?

If you are, then request now our free booklet Repentance Toward God.

Stuck in Terminal 4

Stuck in Terminal 4

oneclearvision/iStockphoto

When my flight was cancelled, I got a lesson in why the way of give is so important.
From the September 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

I’m writing from a hotel room adjacent to Terminal 4 at Heathrow, the UK’s biggest, busiest, messiest airport. It’s been an awful, enormously frustrating day. And a sad one, too. This is because ever since I arrived at 7:15 this morning, I’ve witnessed a world-class display of incivility, rudeness and disrespect. Of pure, unbridled selfishness.

When I arrived at the gate, everything was normal. Or at least “normal” for the 21st century: blatant homosexuals; freakily dressed, body-pierced Goths; disengaged fathers; teenage girls caked in make-up and dressed like call girls; and of course, obnoxious, disobedient, disrespectful, out-of-control children. Fifty years ago, this would have constituted a nightmare. Today, it’s life at Gate 5, Terminal 4 of Heathrow—and virtually every other airport in the Western world.

It was obvious that all was not well when we hadn’t boarded the plane by 9 a.m. Fifteen minutes later—and 15 minutes before the plane was due to take off—we were informed that the flight would be delayed 1½ hours. So it began. Initially, it was evident in the chorus of groans and complaints. But within a few minutes, a crowd of visibly frustrated passengers had begun to circle the check-in desk. One especially upset lady—we’ll call her Angela—marched up with steely determination to lambast the unfortunate airline employees.

At 11 a.m., we were told the plane would depart at noon. At noon, we learned it would leave at 1 p.m. Each time the flight was postponed, the tension rose. The moans and complaints got louder. The anger was palpable—manifested in red faces, raised voices, icy glares and a steady, audible gush of swearing. It went on like this till 3:15 p.m., when we were informed that the flight had been cancelled.

Breaking point.

Rather than sitting and waiting for instructions, as asked, the passengers formed a long line to take turns fuming at the airline employees. By now, Angela and her gang were in a frenzy. Finally, Angela snapped and marched to the front of the line, pushed her way past the other passengers, and let the airline have it: “Shame on you! Shame on you!”

You can understand the frustration we were all feeling. But it wasn’t the frustration or anger that mildly disturbed me. It was the total lack of control over those emotions. The scene was largely devoid of respect, of civility, of empathy. Selfishness reigned supreme.

This really struck me while I was waiting beside the carousel for my luggage. About 25 yards away, jammed in the middle of the tense, exasperated crowd, was a woman (we’ll call her Christy) with a large dual stroller with two children in it. One was about 2, the other younger. Both were awake, obviously frightened, and bawling. Poor Christy was a wreck. She couldn’t stray from her screaming children. Yet, she needed her bags. I watched from afar for 10 minutes and not a single person offered to help Christy and her scared, screaming children.

I was eventually able to jostle my way over and help the poor woman. From here, it was time to catch a bus to the hotel. There we were, a couple hundred people, bags in tow, crammed onto a narrow sidewalk trying not to stumble in front of passing buses, taxis and cars. We waited 20 minutes. No buses. No one was guiding us, informing us, organizing us.

Then it started to rain.

When the bus finally arrived, it was immediately obvious that there wasn’t enough room for most of us. But that didn’t stop the entire crowd from bull-rushing the vehicle. It was at this moment that I caught sight of Bob. Bob was chaperoning some sort of high school trip. A few decades ago, Bob and his entourage would have found their place in the line and calmly waited. In fact, Bob probably would have encouraged his young cohorts to let the elderly board first, or even instructed the boys to help load luggage.

Not 21st-century Bob. As the crowd moved toward the bus, Bob noticed a space in front of an Indian couple with three children. He pounced like a panther. Then, with his position established, he turned around and admonished his lads to join him. It was almost unbelievable. It was raining. People were scrambling everywhere. And this man was attempting to maneuver his entire entourage in front of families, the elderly, and everyone else in line!

This may not sound all that bad. There were no riots, no fist-fights, no full-scale breakdowns. Indeed, most of the passengers—although many were visibly frustrated and openly hostile toward the airline and its officials—kept to themselves. But that’s just it.

Virtually every individual was focused solely on self!

Perhaps selfish passengers at an airport terminal seems insignificant compared to all the other crises we face: political division and paralysis; bank failures, growing unemployment lines, rising food prices and increasing threats of economic collapse; social problems, divorce, fatherlessness, single-motherhood, rampant promiscuity; class warfare, intensifying racial hatreds. But think about it.

If you trace each one of these issues back to its roots, you will see the same thing I saw at Heathrow: thespirit of selfishness!

Herbert W. Armstrong described this way of thinking and living succinctly. He called it the “way of get.” It’s a horrible way of life, one that results in dissatisfaction, misery, frustration, hostility, trials and tribulations.

So what’s the solution? It’s simple: Live the way of give! That is the happy way. And God actually teaches it through His law, which embodies the give way. To learn more about it, request a free copy of our booklet The Ten Commandments.

5 Lessons From the Attack on Chick-fil-A

5 Lessons From the Attack on Chick-fil-A

ROBERT MACPHERSON/AFP/Getty Images

‘Take a hike and take your intolerance with you.’ How’s that for irony?

Examples of mainstream America’s hatred of God and the Bible abound, but this has to be one of the worst to date.

A ridiculous brouhaha has developed over an innocuous article in the Baptist Press two weeks ago. It was a feature on the president of fast food chain Chick-fil-A, and how he lets his faith guide his business decisions, like closing his stores on Sundays. The article mentioned opposition the company has faced for its support of traditional family. “Well, guilty as charged,” Dan Cathy responded. “We are very much supportive of the family—the biblical definition of the family unit. … We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. … We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.”

For those statements, Mr. Cathy was absolutely pilloried.

Protesters hold signs and shout slogans outside a Chick-fil-A food truck in Washington on July 26. (ROBERT MACPHERSON/AFP/Getty Images)

The mayor of Boston threatened to deny Chick-fil-A licenses to operate in his city. Muppets creator Jim Henson Co., which was making toys for kids’ meals, severed ties with the restaurant. A Chicago alderman announced he would block the company from opening a new store in his ward. Chicago’s mayor agreed, saying, “Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values.” San Francisco’s mayor warned the company not to open a restaurant there. A Philadelphia councilman sent a letter to Dan Cathy telling his company to “take a hike and take your intolerance with you.” A New York councilman threatened to withhold a business permit until Chick-fil-A broke ties with groups that oppose same-sex marriage. Celebrities issued public condemnations, many of them loaded with obscenities. Protesters stood outside stores urging customers to boycott. News organizations characterized Cathy’s pro-family comments as “anti-gay.” A YouGov poll showed that public perception of his company has taken a massive hit in the last two weeks.

Here are five lessons to take from this appalling, embarrassing story.

1) Behold the liberal definition of “tolerance.”

Chick-fil-A has never been accused of discriminating against homosexuals in its hiring, its service or other business practices. These folks want to shut it down for its president’s personal beliefs.

To these people, you’re only “open minded” if you agree with them. And “tolerance” demands extreme intolerance of alternative views. Welcome to America 2012.

2) This shows the spectacular arrogance of the liberal left.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s rant continued, “If you’re gonna be part of the Chicago community, you should reflect Chicago values.” Since when does a city’s mayor decide what “values” must be held by the people who live there?

The fact is, they don’t, they can’t—and they know it. Legally, city officials cannot impose a religious test on people who want to open a business. But these officials don’t care. They want to intimidate and bully people. And they score plenty of political points from their liberal supporters when they do.

3) We are looking at hypocrisy on an epic scale.

Are the Chick-fil-A bashers really so opposed to those who don’t support same-sex “marriage”? Then why single out one business? Surely there are other business owners who harbor a similar belief; after all, it’s not that unusual. The numbers are falling, but a recent Pew poll said 44 percent of Americans still oppose same-sex “marriage.” That would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 137 million people in this country. Are none of them welcome in Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Philadelphia, New York? Or is it just that they’re not welcome to start businesses there?

Where is the condemnation of businesses owned by Muslims whose religion informs their opposition to homosexuality?

Mayor Emanuel, in fact, is partnering with Louis Farrakhan to reduce homicides in Chicago. The Nation of Islam leader, besides being famously anti-Semitic, also opposes same-sex unions; just two months ago, Farrakhan blasted President Obama for endorsing homosexual “marriage”—with explicit anti-homosexual language miles beyond Cathy’s general pro-family remark. When will the mayor ostracize Farrakhan for not holding “Chicago values”?

For that matter, when did he ever say a word of criticism against President Obama, who opposed homosexual marriage while Emanuel served as his chief of staff for nearly two years?

4) Politically correct “diversity” includes practically all groups but one.

The fact is, there is really only one group targeted by these nasty, sanctimonious attacks. The politically correct version of “diversity” happily includes people of all races and religions—even those that practice forced marriage, polygamy, sending their children on suicide bombing missions, what have you—except one. This group must be shunned. The message to them: “Take a hike, and take your intolerance with you.”

Who are they? Bible believers.

Nobody inspires vitriol, spite and bigotry like someone who actually lets Scripture govern his beliefs. There’s a reason for that—and it’s in the Bible.

5) We are witnessing head-spinning, lightning-fast social change.

Marriage is the single most enduring institution in human civilization. It makes sense. There is simply no better way to ensure that children grow up in a stable environment than for them to be raised by the two individuals who biologically produced them, within an exclusive, lifelong relationship. Mankind—and not just Bible-believers—has been defining marriage as being between a man and a woman for thousands of years.

Quite suddenly, in the United States, it is a minority position. This past May, the nation’s president recognized that support for same-sex “marriage” had become politically acceptable enough to publicly embrace. Just weeks later, major politicians saw a businessman who puts “biblical definition” in front of family and targeted him for public flogging. Now the Democratic Party is considering support for same-sex “marriage” as part of its official party platform.

It is absolutely extraordinary how rapid this revolutionary change has been.

“We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.” It was just a couple weeks ago that an unsuspecting, family-loving businessman uttered those words. Who knew just how out of step he was?

Follow this author on Twitter: twitter.com/Joel_Hilliker

How the Syrian Crisis Will End

How the Syrian Crisis Will End

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The eyes of the world are fixed on this explosive hot spot. Bashar Assad will be ousted shortly—but then what? You can actually know the outcome!
From the September 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

Syria is at war. That country has been experiencing a slowly unfolding civil war for 17 months and counting. More than 10,000 people have already been killed. The Syrian people are intensifying their protests against President Bashar Assad’s government, and the government is fighting back with brutal force. Thousands are dying, and tens of thousands are fleeing the country. Other countries have been pressuring Assad to step down for over a year, and it looks like his regime is reaching the breaking point.

But there is something much more significant happening in Syria than just another civil war.

Many nations want to see Assad gone, but nobody knows what kind of government would emerge to replace him. The “Arab Spring” has destabilized much of the Middle East and resulted in a range of outcomes and a dangerous level of volatility. Most of the countries involved have lurched toward radicalism.

World leaders and news commentators cannot tell you in advance where this crisis will lead. But you can know Syria’s future if you read what we have been writing, based on the Bible, for the past 70 years.

What we are seeing right now in Syria is a major biblical prophecy in the process of being fulfilled! What happens in Syria will lead to mighty nations changing course and the foundations of this world being shaken!

Did you know that the book of Psalms prophesies the future of Syria? This nation is an important part of the balance of power in the Middle East, and Psalm 83 prophesies that there is about to be a dramatic, violent shift in Syria’s alliances. This will affect many nations, and ultimately lead to an all-out war breaking out all over the Earth!

This prophecy reveals the outcome of the uprising in Syria. It also exposes the key involvement of a major outside nation—something we can already see developing.

Keep Your Eye on Germany

Right now, Syria is Iran’s most important regional ally. But that is about to change.

On April 16, German-Foreign-Policy.com cited a German government adviser who said that in the event of military intervention in Syria, “German participation should be assured.”

Germany may send forces into Syria. This may seem strange, considering that when the Libyan revolution broke out last year, Germany did not want to get involved. Why is it getting more involved now?

Germany has a global strategy, and what is occurring in Syria fits into that strategy perfectly.

In April, Germany joined the United States, Saudi Arabia and several other Gulf states at a gathering in Turkey to discuss options for dealing with Syria’s revolution. Commenting on this meeting, Associated Press noted that there was a “shift toward military options that might oust Syrian President Bashar Assad.”

Here is the critical thing to realize: One of Germany’s primary objectives in this region is to develop an axis with Middle Eastern states that oppose Iran. Germany has been stepping up its political involvement and its financial and military investment in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. It has formed solid trade relationships with virtually all these countries, covering many industries from telecommunications to the military.

For Germany, Syria’s revolution isn’t about a humanitarian crisis at all. It’s about geopolitics and how Berlin can aggressively advance its strategic interests in the Middle East!

America has been too weak to tame Iran and neutralize its allies, but Germany is moving in and filling that power vacuum. The whole world ought to be watching what Germany is doing in the Middle East.

Most people are blind to what is going on in Syria, but we have been showing you for 70 years that the Bible prophesies the future—not only for Syria, but for the whole region and the whole world.

Biblical prophecy reveals that, very soon,Syria will no longer align with Iran.It also shows that Germany will help cause this split.

A Prophesied Alliance

Psalm 83 discusses a multi-nation Middle Eastern confederation that will ally with Germany. This alliance has never happened in history. All of the Bible commentaries will tell you that. But it is happening now. It takes time to build a confederation like that, and it is now well underway.

Immediately before that prophecy in Psalm 83 comes to complete fulfillment, another prophecy will take place. It is found in Daniel 11:40: “And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.”

This prophecy involves the same geography: The context shows you that it occurs right in the Middle East and involves some of the same countries. The “king of the north” is Germany, and the “king of the south” is Iran. Right now, Iran is filling the news with its aggressive support for terrorism and nuclear development, and it appears unstoppable. The Trumpet has emphasized how Iran is having its way in many countries and is dominating the region. But Daniel here describes where these current tensions are leading: Germany will utterly wipe Iran out.

Daniel 11:40 will unfold just before Psalm 83 is totally fulfilled. Germany and Iran will ignite a spectacular military clash. The German superpower will crush the “king of the south.” Then the Arab nations listed in Psalm 83 will ally with Germany.

Daniel 11 shows that the warring does not stop there. Verse 44 talks about “tidings out of the east.” That refers to Russia and China entering into the fray, expanding this world war.

That’s right: These events actually mark the beginning of World War iii! That is how important this prophecy is!

Some people disregard this prophecy, saying it is just some obscure passage in the Psalms. But God inspired it! Christ said in Matthew 4:4 that we are to live by every word of God.

We need to prove these things to ourselves. God will help us if we are willing, but we have to work at it and push ourselves.

Crafty Counsel

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

This foretells of an alliance that will take crafty counsel against God’s people, which is referring to Israel. These verses are talking about the modern descendants of the 12 tribes of biblical Israel. Do you know who those are? The modern Jewish state of Israel is only one of those tribes—Judah.

In biblical prophecy, “Israel” refers especially to the birthright nations that descended from Joseph: Ephraim and Manasseh. Those descendants are Britain and the United States. Other prophecies show that the fates of these three major nations of Israel—the U.S., Britain, and the Jewish nation—are all aligned. Where Psalm 83 says this alliance is “against thy people,” it means Germany and its Middle Eastern allies are targeting the Americans, the British and the Jews in the Middle East.

But notice: There is also a plot against God’s “hidden ones,” which other translations render as treasured or sheltered ones. This refers to God’s faithful people, spiritual Israel, His true Church. They are embedded right in the midst of all these prophecies to ensure God has somebody He can use to reveal to the world His message about what is happening!

You are reading that message right now!

God uses His people to show the world what is going to happen before it happens. He uses them to proclaim a message of how these catastrophes could be avoided. Sadly, the world pays them little attention, and it will continue to ignore God’s message until circumstances get a lot more horrific.

The evil purpose of this alliance is revealed in verse 4: “They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.”

The president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has publicly stated that Iran wants to wipe Israel off the map. What is revealed in Psalm 83 is an even more diabolical plot by a different alliance: They want to obliterate even thenameof Israel—forever!

“For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee,” the prophecy continues. Then it lists which peoples comprise the alliance: “The tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites of Moab, and the Hagarenes; Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assur also is joined with them: they have holpen the children of Lot. Selah.”

You must know who the modern descendants of these peoples are in order to understand just how timely and relevant this prophecy is: “Edom” is Turkey; “the Ishmaelites” are Saudi Arabia; “Moab” and “Ammon” both refer to Jordan; “Gebal” is Lebanon. The Hagarenes anciently dwelt in the land known today as Syria.

The only one listed here that lies outside the region is “Assur,” which is Germany. Germany is the power behind this alliance! In principle, this is how Germany started World War i and World War ii. (Request our booklet Germany and the Holy Roman Empire for more information.) It is using the same old modus operandi.

Right now, Bashar Assad’s Syria is closely allied with Iran—but this prophecy shows that these two nations are about to split. This will have a domino effect on other nations. These events will really shake this world and dramatically alter the course of history!

Dramatic Changes Ahead

This prophecy in Psalm 83 reveals a tremendous amount about what we can expect to see in the time ahead—including some dramatic changes!

Gebal, modern-day Lebanon, is home today to the Iranian terrorist puppet Hezbollah. We can expect it to also switch allegiance!

Even now Germany has naval ships just off the coast of Lebanon. Why should it be so concerned about what’s happening in that part of the world? It is all part of Germany’s global strategy.

This prophecy also reveals that the Philistines are with the inhabitants of Tyre. Get a map and you will see that Tyre is in southern Lebanon, the stronghold of the Hezbollah terrorists. Their alliance with Iran is about to be broken, and Germany will be the main cause.

The Philistines—or the Palestinians of Gaza and even those in the West Bank—are going to shift their alliance to Germany as well.

Iran has recently led Hezbollah and the Palestinians in their terrorist activities. They all share some common enemies—especially America and Israel. But they have some different views in religion and politics, which could cause Hezbollah and the Palestinians to ally themselves with Germany.

Also, there may soon be some significant power shifts in Lebanon and Gaza.

Edom, or Esau, is Turkey. Turkey has also been allied with Iran, but it too is going to side with Germany in the future! Why? Because it disagrees with what Iran is doing in Syria! While Iran supports the Assad regime, Turkey supports the rebels.

Look at the changes that are coming! This is not something we can take lightly. This is world news told to you ahead of time! Just watch—keep track of this. See if these exact events don’t happen. Watch Germany, and watch the Middle East, and see if this prophecy doesn’t come to pass exactly as the Bible says it will.

This is an end-time prophecy! Nothing has ever happened like this in history before. “History transmits no record of the national crisis when the nations enumerated in this Psalm formed a league to wipe out Israel,” writes the Anchor Bible Commentary. Lange’s Commentary also points out, “The 10 nations, who are here enumerated as being combined against Israel, are never mentioned elsewhere as enemies allied at the same time and for the purpose of annihilating Israel.”

To most people in this world, this means very little. But God prophesied all of it! He spelled it out so that if we just study our Bible, we can understand it all. We must understand it! God has His sheltered ones there, protecting them, and they understand it.

Watch for a Massive Shift

These verses foretell a massive shift in alliances among the nations of the Middle East! Events are about to stagger the imagination of many authorities in this world! And God prophesied it all thousands of years ago.

Should we believe in the Old Testament? We should if we want to understand end-time Bible prophecy. The Psalms is the only book in the Bible that contains this prophecy. Without Psalm 83, there would be no way to understand these particular events until well after they had snapped into place.

This is a most exciting and wonderful prophecy—yet the world understands almost nothing about it. People should understand, because this message has been publicized for them to see for about 70 years by the Trumpet and by Herbert W. Armstrong!

Where does this Psalm 83 union lead? It leads to mankind being plunged into the Great Tribulation for 2½ years, and then into the Day of the Lord for a year. But at the conclusion of the Day of the Lord, Jesus Christ is going to return to this Earth and put down all the rebellion against Him. Finally, He will conquer the nations and bring us peace and joy and happiness forever!

That is where today’s events in Syria are ultimately heading. So make sure you watch Syria, and make sure you watch Bible prophecy!