Will the World End? In December?

Will the World End? In December?

PierreJ/flickr

From the October 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

A whole lot of people believe civilization is about to end. About one in seven think it will happen in their lifetime. Maybe that sounds extreme, but sometimes you look around and wonder what the other six are thinking. It’s getting harder to deny the weather upsets, economic instability, societal breakdown, armed conflict and overall tottering world order.

Are you one of the billion people thinking the world will end before you do?

For many people, it’s not just world events that are raising alarm bells: It’s also an apocalyptic prophecy contained in the ruins of a pre-Hispanic civilization in Mexico. The same Reuters poll that found one in seven people think the world is about to end also revealed this:One in 10 people globally believe the Mayan calendar could mean civilization as we know it is crashing down this year.

This belief has been around since a stone tablet was found in the 1960s at a Mexican archeological site. It describes a Mayan god returning at the end of a time cycle, believed to be Dec. 12, 2012. Last November, an additional Mayan artifact was found with apparently the same date mentioned, fueling additional concerns. Various Mayan ruins have drawn a surge in tourism this year to the tune of tens of millions of people.

Are you one of the several hundred million people who find plausibility in this prophecy?

Many ideas about end-time prophecy are contradictory and confusing. Even those who think the end is near are very divided about how it will come about.

What do you believe? This is a serious question—a question of life and death.

Just Another Theory?

Prophecies about the end of the world have been around for millennia. Countless of them have set specific dates—dates that have come and gone without incident (sidebar). Scoffers have plenty to scoff at. The field of end-time prophecy has been filled with false prophets.

So is prophecy itself a crock?

The details of the Mayan calendar prophecy are particularly unusual. If the Internet is to be believed, it predicts unusual geographic or astronomical activity: a shift in Earth’s rotational axis—violent solar flares—curious planetary alignments—catastrophic earthquakes and/or tidal events. One story has an invisible planet named Nibiru spinning into our solar system and colliding with Earth.

Hollywood has capitalized on the buzz with big-budget, special-effects-laden disaster films like 2012 (“Mankind’s earliest civilization warned us this day would come,” the trailer says).

The predictions of calamity are offset by other, more hopeful interpretations of the prophecy: that December 12 is more a new beginning than it is an end; that life will go on, but differently, in some kind of new spiritual phase; that spiritually and technologically advanced extraterrestrials will revitalize the planet and educate humankind in the ways of peace.

Is there any validity to these proclamations? If so, how? What is its foundation? What, really, is the basis for people’s faith in this prophecy?

There are several problematic aspects of this story. First, many sources have revealed common misunderstandings of the prophecy and its culture of origin. The “Stone of the Sun,” which has been credited as the source of the Mayan prophecy, was actually a creation of the Aztecs some half a millennium later and miles away from the Maya. The popular conflation of these two distinct cultures has added to the confusion.

The Mayan calendar includes overlapping cycles of time, and 2012 happens to be a date where several of these cycles reset. However, Mayan experts dismiss the notion that this anticipates some form of cataclysm; instead, it is simply a logical outgrowth of the Mayans’ complex mathematical formulas. In fact, an ancient Mayan painting uncovered this past May shows calendrical calculations that progress well beyond 2012.

More fundamentally, however, the question remains how a group of people a millennium and a half ago could make such a prophecy accurately. Why are people suddenly putting so much stock in the utterances of the ancient Mayans? However impressive their mathematics or astronomy skills, how could the Mayans predict a collision between planets so far in the future—particularly since one of them has yet to be detected? What evidence is there that Bolon Yokte, the god who is supposed to return in December, even exists?

nasa has weighed in with scientific proof that there will be no unusual astronomical alignments or collisions with planets this December. It also has proven that the worst effects of a pole shift would be that we would have to recalibrate our compasses.

Soon, December 2012 will come and go, and a collection of stories will hit the media about yet another failed prediction of the world’s collapse. Some people will feel foolish for ever having believed, and skepticism over such prophecies will get a boost. Then, in a short while, another colorful prediction of apocalypse will begin to capture the public’s attention.

False prophecies are abundant. But would you believe that there is actually one reliable, verifiable source of prophecy that has a proven track record of accuracy?

Accurate Prophecy

It is the most accurately copied and painstakingly preserved book from ancient times we have. It is totally unique among other so-called sacred texts: It claims to be the infallible revelation of truth given by the Creator and Ruler of the universe. It repeatedly quotes this Being, speaking in the first person—and actually asserting that He alone has the power of prophecy.

And it actually contains many prophecies that have already come to pass. Its history of correctness gives substantial credence to those forecasts that have yet to take place.

This source is the Holy Bible. And the author of the prophecies is the Creator God.

What is the basis of this prophetic power? Pagan mysticism? Good guessing? No—it isdivine omnipotence: the power to proclaim major, earthshaking events in advance of their happening—and then to actually bring them to pass, even millennia later!

Did a human being write this? “I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand.”

That is quite a boast. The Being who uttered these prophecies has put His reputation on the line.

Prophecy is, in fact, a most compelling proof God offers both of His existence and of the Bible’s veracity and authority. His Word never fails. True Bible prophecy is 100 percent reliable.

As Jesus Christ said in the midst of His famous Olivet prophecy, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” On another occasion He said, “The scripture cannot be broken.” Jesus also said, “I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.”

Prophecy shows that God is in control. He is ensuring that certain events transpire precisely according to His master plan—even to the point of setting up and toppling kings, making and unmaking nations! Only the Almighty God has the power to do so. He does everything with purpose. He has an ambition—and the will to see it through. The essential message of prophecy is that God rules.

Did you know that one third of this best-selling book in history is devoted to prophecy?

It includes prophecies of the rise and fall of future cities, nations, empires—of successions of eras and epochs—and, yes, even of the end of our present civilization and its replacement with a better, more peaceful one.

Mayan beliefs may echo some of these prophecies, but the Bible is the genuine article. Do the people expressing faith in the Mayan calendar really believe in the almighty power of Bolon Yokte?

The God of the Bible actually challenges anyone out there to do what He has done. The Moffatt translation of Isaiah 41:21-24 reads, “Now, the Eternal cries, bring your case forward, … state your proofs. Let us hear what happened in the past, that we may ponder it, or show me what is yet to be, that we may watch how it turns out; yes, let us hear what is coming, that we may be sure you are gods; come, do something or other that we may marvel at the sight!—why, you are things of naught, you can do nothing at all!”

When false prophecies fail and are exposed as frauds, do not let that shake your faith in the one source of true prophecy! Jesus Christ gave specific signs—not a date, not an hour, but descriptions of general conditions and particular events—for His followers to watch for signaling the end of this age—and those signs are all around us! “When ye shall see all these things,” He said, “know that it is near, even at the doors. … Watch therefore, for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.”

Armstrong College Launches New Excavation Website

Trumpet

Over the next several months, Herbert W. Armstrong College students, alumni and faculty will be producing weekly video updates and other content pertaining to Dr. Eilat Mazar’s 2012 Ophel Excavation and what it’s like being a student volunteer in Jerusalem. These articles, pictures and video productions will all be featured on the new college-sponsored website, The Key to David’s City. In the above clip, AC alumnus Harley Breth explains how the new website will follow Dr. Mazar’s lead in showcasing the excavation to the world.

There’s Intelligent Life Alright!

There’s Intelligent Life Alright!

JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Curiosity, NASA’s miraculous Mars rover, has already revealed a remarkable discovery.
From the October 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

Nasa landed a nuclear-powered robot car with a rock-zapping laser on the surface of another planet using a sky crane. It sounds like science fiction. It’s actually science history—the rover touched down on August 5.

There is intelligent life after all—it’s back here on Earth. And the mission to send Curiosity, the six-wheeled Mars Science Laboratory, to the Red Planet is one of its greatest technical achievements.

Precision Operation

Curiosity traveled 354 million miles, the equivalent of driving around the Earth’s equator more than 14,000 times. As it neared Mars, it was traveling at 13,000 miles an hour—fast enough to fly from London to New York in just over 15 minutes. Entering the Martian atmosphere, its heat shield was blasted with temperatures higher than 3,600 degrees Fahrenheit.

To land safely, Curiosity had to decelerate from 13,000 miles an hour to a standstill in seven minutes—without damaging its robotic arm, laser, spectrometer, cameras, radiation detectors or other equipment. Radio signals from Curiosity take 14 minutes to reach Earth, so the landing had to be completely automated. Scientists wouldn’t even know that Curiosity had hit the atmosphere until seven minutes after it had already touched down—or crashed.

The atmosphere slowed the rover down to “only” 1,000 miles per hour. Then the craft deployed its “super-chute.” Still traveling faster than the speed of sound, the 50-foot-wide chute deployed, slowing the streaking craft down to 200 miles per hour. Explosive bolts released the chute, then eight rockets blasted to life. The craft dodged the newly released parachute, and the descent slowed further.

But the rover couldn’t land using the rockets: The dust cloud would have damaged its instruments. Instead, a sky crane held aloft by rockets floated above the ground and lowered Curiosity down by tethers onto the Martian surface.

Then nasa really showed off. The whole mission was perfectly timed so that the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which reached the planet six years ago, was overhead to take a photo. The orbiter’s controllers had to upload their final commands 72 hours before the picture was taken. If the orbiter took its picture one second too late, it would have completely missed the rover and simply photographed the lonely Martian desert. But it didn’t.

Wil Wheaton, who narrated a video of the rover’s landing, wrote: “Gene Roddenberry always talked about how amazing humans were, because we could do amazing things when we worked together. He was right.”

Yes, he was. Human beings are incredible. Our remote-control rover is leaving tracks on Mars right now.

Mission Impossible?

The Mars mission brings to mind both the dramatic strengths and the tragic weaknesses of our human minds.

Consider the paradox here: The human mind can surmount thousands of technical problems and land a perfectly functioning, high-tech, remotely controlled robot on another planet.

Why, then, cannot humanity’s best minds solve poverty? And end war? Surely getting along with one another can’t be much more complicated than vaporizing Martian rocks with lasers?

Actually it is.

Man “is limited in knowledge to that which may be transmitted into the brain through the physical senses of sight, hearing, tasting, smelling and feeling,” Herbert W. Armstrong wrote in his magazine, the Plain Truth, predecessor of the Trumpet. “Man’s most serious problems are spiritual in nature. But man is naturally confined to thinking solely in terms of the physical and material. He cannot grasp or comprehend spiritual problems or spiritual knowledge.”

That’s why human beings can solve some of the most complicated technical problems out there, but cannot bring peace to our own homes.

On a physical level, man has “a God-type mind,” Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry has said. It’s a “mind power that ought to just stagger us in wonder and awe.”

The accomplishment of nasa’s Mars rover team is staggering. It is one spectacular example of incredible God-type minds at work!

Mr. Armstrong wrote that the “human mind’s capacity for material accomplishment seems unlimited.” As God looked down on mankind working together at the tower of Babel in antiquity, He said, “nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.” God agrees with Gene Roddenberry: Humans can do amazing things when they work together.

But God had to stop mankind at Babel. He effectively jammed their communications and decentralized them. Why? Because when man uses his brilliant human mind and his five senses, he only brings himself closer to destroying others and himself. Without the vital spiritual dimension of knowledge, man can still build towers and rockets—but he cannot bring peace.He cannot stop crime, hatred, perversion or hopelessness. He hasn’t even really gotten a handle on famine, epidemics or poverty.

With that spiritual dimension missing, mankind’s amazing physical accomplishments have just meant more wars with increasingly destructive weapons.

Missing Spiritual Component

In 2004, nasa landed the Spirit rover on Mars. The scientists had reached the Red Planet with a piece of machinery, but, as Mr. Flurry wrote at the time, “[C]an scientists and engineers transform that wasteland into a Garden of Eden?” As stunning as our technical achievements have been, enlivening a dead planet is still quite beyond our scope. And even if we did have the ability to eventually develop that technical capacity, we are already close to wiping ourselves off our own planet. We wouldn’t survive ourselves long enough to beautify another!

The physical part of our God-type minds can do incredible things. But the spiritual part is much different. The part responsible for living in harmony, building character, working together and making the world a beautiful place—that spiritual component is dreadfully askew.

On Earth, man’s warped spiritual mind brings death and destruction—not life—to his surroundings. The same would be true on Mars.

Before we could ever think of succeeding at populating another planet, we would first need to change human nature.

The wonderful news is that human nature will change!

A Universal Future

God promises that He will give mankind that missing spiritual component, and soon! First, man will need to learn just how deficient, how incomplete, his mind is without the spiritual dimension from God. Then God will make it so that “the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”

When mankind is willing to listen, God will show the world the way to peace. He will give it the spiritual answers to its problems and the will to provide the crucial component that is so conspicuously absent from intelligent life here on Earth: His Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:11-14).

When mankind finally receives this missing spiritual component, just think of what we will be able to accomplish! What will we achieve when this entire world is working together, using all of humanity’s God-type minds in harmony? Not only will it be a utopia of happiness and joy, but we will also accomplish feats that will make the Mars rover seem like a toy.

“Mankind is destined to remove that decay from Mars and the entire universe!” Mr. Flurry wrote. “It’s hard to even imagine what a direct and strong connection mankind has to the universe. We will make the universe look like the Garden of Eden! That is man’s destiny—and you can prove it from the Bible” (Trumpet, February 2004).

Man already has a God-type mind on the physical level. God plans on adding to that, giving man a God-type mind on the spiritual level, as well. He wants to create His perfect mind in mankind! In fact, the Bible states that God is creating His character in mankind so that He can ultimately transform men into members of the God Family! Then the God Family will revolutionize the universe.

That is why man has a God-type mind, on the physical level, today. That is why man can create amazing things like the Mars rover. And that is why these amazing accomplishments arenothing compared to the real potential of mankind’s incredible mind.

What’s Mohammed Morsi Doing in China?

From the October 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

On August 28, Mohammed Morsi landed in Beijing and was warmly welcomed by Chinese President Hu Jintao. For two days, the president and his 80-person entourage of Egyptian business leaders and politicians discussed billions of dollars in investment projects and deals with some 200 Chinese counterparts.

This was Morsi’s first state visit outside the Middle East and Africa since he became president. It was no routine state visit. China is the nation world leaders visit when they want to oppose and undermine America.

China’s foreign policy right now is substantially aimed at undermining U.S. power. You can see it in china’s ongoing naval and military expansions; its regional territorial acquisitions; its maneuvering inside international organizations like the World Trade organization; even its outright support of anti-American states like Venezuela and North Korea. More than any other reason, this is why China remains an ally of Iran.

The fact that Morsi chose to visit china indicates that Egypt may be looking to join this Iran-china axis.

On August 24, David Schenker and Christina Lin wrote an op-ed in the Los Angeles Timesin which they warned that “if Morsi gets his way, improved bilateral ties to Beijing will embolden, if not enable, Cairo to downgrade Egypt’s ties to Washington.”

For more than 30 years, Egypt has relied chiefly on America for financial, political and military support. It has received tens of billions of dollars in food, merchandise and military hardware. This has given America great leverage: To receive this aid, Cairo has basically had to endorse, even if unwillingly, U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and North Africa. As long as Washington held the purse strings, Cairo could not practically engage in any actions overtly hostile to U.S. foreign policy.

That will change if Morsi can decouple Egypt from Washington, and Egypt develops a significant partnership with China.

Morsi cultivating a friendship with china may also indicate that he is planning some radical changes to Egypt’s foreign policy such as severing or rewriting Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel; forming some sort of political or trade agreement with Iran; perhaps exploiting the Suez canal as leverage against the U.S. or Europe. These moves would be controversial and un-popular, and could provoke some heated responses from the international community. But with china’s support, Egypt is far likelier to withstand the inevitable backlash.

From China’s perspective, Morsi’s outstretched hand is a no-brainer. Egypt is the largest Arab country in the Middle East. It owns massive stockpiles of American military hardware. And Cairo isn’t one to harp on respect for human rights, currency manipulation or trade equality.

Beyond all that, a partnership with Egypt comes with enormous benefits for china’s maritime ambitions. Egypt controls the Suez Canal, one of the world’s most important sea lanes. For China, or any global power,developing a healthy relationship with the government that controls the Suez is a strategic necessity. That appears to be something that the United States has lost.

Hurricane Isaac’s Trail of Destruction

Seven years to the day that Hurricane Katrina made its second landfall, tearing levees and flooding 80 percent of New Orleans on August 29, 2005, Hurricane Isaac made its second landfall on Wednesday, drenching the city.

Isaac brought flooding rains and devastating 80 mile-per-hour winds. Plaquemines Parish was hardest hit, prompting authorities to intentionally breach a levee to relieve pressure from flood waters. Billy Nungesser, president of the parish, told reporters the city had “never seen anything like this, not even Katrina.”

Near the town of Braithwaite, dozens of homes are surrounded by murky water. Trees were submerged to their upper branches. Part of Interstate 10 is also underwater. A local cemetery has had trees uprooted and caskets unearthed by the flood.

In the city of LaPlace, crews have been evacuating residents and working to save livestock. Many residents have said they lost all their property except for what they could carry with them.

Read our articles “A Jewel in America’s Crown—Lost” and “Hurricane Katrina: A Nationwide Catastrophe.” Also watch our recent video from Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry, “Is Hurricane Isaac a Warning From God?

Putting the Solomonic Era ‘On the Map’

Putting the Solomonic Era ‘On the Map’

Ryan Friesen

Student volunteers from Herbert W. Armstrong College begin work on the second phase of Eilat Mazar’s Ophel Excavation.

Seventeen Herbert W. Armstrong College students and Trumpet staff members recently joined my family in Jerusalem to volunteer on an archaeological excavation at the Ophel, under the direction of Dr. Eilat Mazar. The excavation, located at the foot of the southern wall of the Temple Mount, is the site of a monumental royal complex that has been dated to the time of King Solomon.

Dr. Benjamin Mazar, Eilat’s grandfather, pioneered the excavations at this location beginning in 1968. For 10 years thereafter, our predecessor Herbert W. Armstrong supplied financial support and Ambassador College student volunteers to help with Benjamin Mazar’s excavations.

Following history backwards, Professor Mazar and his crew dug every summer for 10 years before they reached a wall dating to the first temple period. The ruins were so well preserved that some parts of the wall stood 5 to 6 meters high.

Picking up where her grandfather left off, Eilat Mazar began a small excavation in 1986 that concentrated primarily on the first temple area of the dig. Her excavation fully revealed a large stone gateway complex, 45 by 54 feet, constructed sometime before the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem in the sixth century b.c. Also attached to the gate was a short section of the city wall of Jerusalem, built by Solomon.

Announcing the news at a press conference in 1986, Mazar said the gateway complex was probably one of 12 gates mentioned in the biblical record. The Associated Press quoted Benjamin Mazar, who attended the briefing with his granddaughter: “Now we have more or less the feeling that this is really a gate of Jerusalem from the period of the kings of Judah” (April 21, 1986).

In 2009, Eilat Mazar reopened the Ophel Excavation and Armstrong College quickly agreed to send student volunteers. During that season, more fascinating details emerged about the first temple period. Inside the royal structure, Mazar discovered two floors, one layered on top of the other. Using pottery and other finds, she was able to determine the upper surface was a renovated floor that had been installed during the eighth century. The bottom floor and the walls of the structure had been constructed during the tenth century b.c.

“Solomonic time,” Dr. Mazar was quoted as saying, “is very much on the map now.”

Standing next to Solomon’s wall, you can’t help but think about the massive size of the ancient Israelite kingdom that constructed these edifices. Biblical minimalists like to relegate David and Solomon to puny chieftains of an obscure tribe, but these are obviously not the buildings of wandering nomads.

This wall and other archeological finds from the first temple period provide tangible evidence of an impressive and sophisticated kingdom, just as the Bible describes.

Early on in David’s reign as king, somewhere around the late 11th century b.c., David captured the city of Jerusalem and established it as the nation’s capital (2 Samuel 5:1-9). After this, David “went on, and grew great, and the Lord God of hosts was with him” (verse 10).

When David died, the throne of Israel was passed to his son Solomon. Under Solomon, the kingdom of Israel emerged as the most dominant kingdom in the region. We are given a glimpse of Israel under King Solomon in 1 Kings 4. Notice verse 20: “Judah and Israel were many, like the sand which is by the sea in multitude, eating and drinking, and making merry.”

The Bible says Solomon’s reach extended all the way to the Euphrates in the northeast, to the Mediterranean Sea in the west and to the border of Egypt in the south (verse 21). Israel in the 10th century was a far-reaching, fabulously wealthy kingdom.

The Bible also says that Solomon was world-famous, known throughout the inhabited world—not for his power and wealth alone, but for his God-given wisdom and understanding (verse 30).

Here again, this was not some petty king or a simpleton ruling over an obscure tribe. He was a powerful, wealthy, world-famous king ruling over a large, affluent and stable kingdom. And the stones Dr. Mazar is uncovering at the Ophel and City of David excavations are beginning to confirm what the Bible recorded thousands of years ago.

Like David, Solomon expanded, fortified and beautified Jerusalem. He spent 13 years constructing his own magnificent palace in Jerusalem. In addition to his palace, he built the outstanding “house of the forest of Lebanon,” a facility laden with gold, silver and other precious materials. In addition to these two gigantic structures, we read in 1 Kings 9:15 that Solomon fortified the city by strengthening the Millo, and building a wall around Jerusalem.

“The city wall that has been uncovered testifies to a ruling presence,” Dr. Mazar told theTrumpet.com last year. She went on to explain that we now have scientific evidence of a fortification line that is described in the Bible.

“People believe, in their ways, that which is written in the Bible,” Mazar said after the first phase of the Ophel Excavation was completed. “But they have no idea that sometimes, lots of it, can really be seen. And can be touched.”

The second phase of the Ophel Excavation started this week and continues from where the last season left off. It will encompass an area that is approximately twice as large as the first phase.

Given this expansion, Dr. Mazar is very happy to have much better facilities on site this time around—including spacious offices inside a Byzantine monastery and a wet sifting station adjacent to the excavation.

This season, Dr. Mazar has also granted our television crew unprecedented access to her excavation as it unfolds. Every week, Armstrong College students, alumni and faculty will be producing a video update about the excavation and posting it on the new website “The Key to David’s City.”

All of these upgrades will dramatically improve the turnaround time for processing and publicizing her finds. And how significant will these findings be?

“We are in the very core of the Ophel—the most important part,” Dr. Mazar said during a staff meeting on August 12. The potential, she said, is fantastic—and we should expect to find royal construction.