Why Most People Don’t Understand Bible Prophecy

Are you also missing out because you have yet to discover this eye-opening fact?
From the October 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

Biblical prophecy is a mystery—even to most people who read the Bible! This subject is tremendously important, yet it is also tremendously confusing. Why? Because Bible prophecy is locked. And the vast majority of people do not have the one vital key that unlocks the prophecy.

Newscasters, journalists and politicians talk around the clock about the horrendous events that are flashing all around us. But which of them understands what is going on? Which of them can tell you where these events are leading?

The Bible actually makes the ultimate outcome of current events inescapably clear, but its explanations are completely confusing unless you have the key that unlocks them.

To understand this key, we have to look back at the Old Testament.

Israel Fighting Jews?

2 Kings 16 actually shows where the confusion began. It has to do with the identity of Israel. Today, when we think of Israel, we think of the Jews. But there’s something missing here.

Did you know that the first time the Jews are mentioned in the Bible, they are at war with Israel? The Jewish nation was not the same thing as Israel—it was actually fighting Israel!

Anciently and biblically, Israel and Judah were two very distinct entities. And they still are.That’s what so many don’t understand: the modern identities of Israel and Judah. That is the key to understanding Bible prophecy!

Ancient Israel was composed of 12 tribes. Judah was only one of those tribes. Today, we know who Judah’s descendants are: the Jews. But where are the other tribes? Have they just evaporated forever? Not at all!

No, Israel is not extinct. These “lost 10 tribes” are actually some of the world’s most important nations existing today!

This passage in 2 Kings 16 explains what happened. Israel was a united nation consisting of 12 tribes under the rule of King David and his son King Solomon. After Solomon died, 10 tribes of Israel rebelled from the tribe of Judah and the capital of Jerusalem. The tribes of Benjamin and Levi stayed with the Jews. The other 10 tribes established themselves in Samaria, north of Jerusalem.

Israel and Judah became two separate nations. This one fact is crucial to understanding Bible prophecy.

“At that time Rezin king of Syria recovered Elath to Syria, and drove the Jews from Elath.” This is the very first time the word Jews is written in the Bible. “[A]nd the Syrians came to Elath, and dwelt there unto this day. So Ahaz [the king of Judah] sent messengers to Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, saying, I am thy servant and thy son: come up, and save me out of the hand of the king of Syria, and out of the hand of the king of Israel, which rise up against me” (2 Kings 16:6-7).

The king of Judah contacted a foreign king to ask him for help in fighting Israel! How could they be warring against each other if Israel is just another name for Judah? This was well after the kingdom split. Israel was—and still is—separate from Judah!

Today, there is a nation in the Middle East called Israel. But that nation only represents two tribes of Israel: Judah and Benjamin—along with many or most of the Levites. Those are the tribes that remained in Jerusalem when Israel rebelled and seceded. The modern nation calledIsrael does not include the descendants of the 10 tribes that broke away in the 10th century b.c. and migrated to Samaria (northern Israel).

This war in 2 Kings 16 ended with Israel (the northern 10 tribes) being defeated and enslaved by Assyria. “Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only” (2 Kings 17:18). Israel was so faithless and sinful that it enraged the God of love! Because of the Israelites’ terrible sins, God became so angry that He forsook them and allowed them to be conquered by Assyria.

Assyria conquered the nation of Israel from 721 to 718 b.c. (verse 23). Israel was taken captive, and only Judah was left (verse 18).

We need to think soberly about these verses because they also apply to us. This is the end time. The nations of Israel still exist. And they are still continuing to anger God with their terrible sins! The book of 2 Kings is one of the former prophets. That means this verse is not just about an ancient nation, it also carries a prophetic message for us today—if we understand Bible prophecy! God says the Assyrians will conquer Israel again (see Isaiah 10).

Fruitless Investigation

Bible scholars have looked into what happened to ancient Israel. Historian and scientist Werner Keller is one of the chief scholars on the topic. He includes a lot of solid information in his book The Bible as History. Here is his view, which many other scholars share: “The people of the northern kingdom and their kings with them disappeared, were absorbed into the population of these foreign lands, and never emerged again in history. All investigation into what became of the 10 tribes and who had their home there has so far come to nothing” (emphasis added).

Is that true? The northern 10 tribes of Israel did get taken captive. Israel did lose its identity. Israel never did reemergeas Israel. But Israel did not disappear! How could millions of people simply vanish? They have to be somewhere.

Bible scholars know where the tribe of Judah is. “Jew” is just a shortened version of Judah. Modern Judah is where the modern Jews are! They were never totally lost. But most, like Keller, believe that the 10 tribes fell into history’s abyss. So, how do we know that these intelligent scholars are actually wrong?

Because Jesus Christ tells us so.

Christ’s Commission to the Apostles

About 750 years after Assyria enslaved Israel, Christ gave His apostles a specific command to go to a specific group of people. If you understand this, you’re going to understand Bible prophecy.

Turn in your Bible to Matthew 10:5-6 and read: “These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles [Christ would send the Apostle Paul there later], and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Christ Himself said that!

Werner Keller and other scholars don’t understand this. But if we believe Christ, we have to believe that “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” were somewhere on the scene during Christ’s day. That was more than 700 years after they had been enslaved.

Christ was certainly not referring to the Jews. They were there where He was, in the same place the Jews are today. Their identity wasn’t lost then, and it is not lost today. Israel, however, had been absorbed into the Assyrian Empire, and these tribes did lose their identity. But Christ—and many others—knew they were out there. So where were these tribes, exactly?

Jesus Christ wants us to know the truth about ancient Israel. Several of the Old Testament prophets, and even Christ Himself, prophesied that the modern peoples of Israel would endure the worst time of suffering ever just before His Second Coming. That’s why Christ wants you to understand Bible prophecy! And in order to understand those warnings, you must know who the peoples of Israel are today!

Where Did the Apostles Go?

In his article “Where Did the Twelve Apostles Go?” Herman Hoeh looked into the intriguing history of Parthia to find out where Israel went (Plain Truth, May 1964).

Dr. Hoeh wrote that around 700 b.c., a group of people suddenly appeared around the Caspian shore who had been enslaved to Assyria. They were called the Parthians, a name that means exiles. These exiles eventually ascended to power and prominence in the land of Parthia around 250 b.c.

These peoples were none other than the “lost” tribes of Israel!

They remained in the land where they had been Assyria’s slaves until the early third centurya.d. Then, the Persians drove them northwest into what is Europe today. And that is exactly where you will find most of those lost tribes of Israel right now, in 2012.

Josephus, the prominent first-century Jewish historian, was well aware that Israel had settled in the land of Parthia. “But then the entire body of the people of Israel [the 10 “lost” tribes] remain in that country [they never came back to Samaria]; wherefore there are but two tribes in Asia and Europe subject to the Romans, while the 10 tribes are beyond Euphrates till now, and are an immense multitude, and not to be estimated by numbers” (Antiquities of the Jews).

They were an enormous multitude! The scattered Israelites were so vast that Jesus commanded Peter, James, John and the rest of His disciples to go to these “lost sheep.” And the 12 apostles knew where they were. Jesus Christ knew where they were. Even Josephus knew where they were.

Notice another clue in Matthew 15: “Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David ….” This Gentile woman knew who He was. She continued: “[M]y daughter is grievously vexed with a [demon].” But Christ didn’t answer her request. He explained why to His disciples: “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (verses 21-22, 24).

Jesus went on to talk with this woman, and she demonstrated such great faith that He healed her daughter that very minute. But He clearly told her that He was preparing His apostles to go to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” According to Jesus, that was His purpose.

If we listen to Christ and trust Him, we can understand why He came and what the Bible’s prophecies mean. We can actually understand this tumultuous and horrendous world around us. But we have to have the kind of faith this Canaanite woman had.

Jews Were Conquered—Yet Retained Their Identity

From 604 to 585 b.c., a little over a century after Israel went into captivity, the Jews were also conquered by Babylon. They too had turned from God, and in His wrath, He allowed them to be taken captive. However, 70 years after they had been conquered, the Jews, the Benjamites and the Levites returned (Ezra 1:5; 2:1).

Israel, however, never did. Look into the history of God’s Church in the book of Acts. After chapter 11, you read almost nothing about the original 12 apostles. You read nothing about the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

This is a very interesting part of the history. The book of Acts is one of only three books in the New Testament that does not end with Amen. The absence of that conclusive final word means that Acts still has more information to be added. A big part of that new material is going to be about the locations of the “lost sheep” of the house of Israel from the time Acts was written until Christ’s Second Coming.

The first century was not the time for God to reveal the location of the lost 10 tribes to the world. History—and Bible scholars—lost sight of those 10 tribes. The tribes themselves even lost their identity. But now, when the prophecies are most relevant, just before Christ returns—that time has come.

The revelation of Israel’s identity happened in a powerful way in the 20th century, with God’s Church sending out more than 6 million copies of The United States and Britain in Prophecy. That book is about this vital truth.

This is crucial to understand, because end-time Israel is again sick with sin and stirring God to anger. These modern nations must be warned! And we have to understand prophecy in order to know whom to warn.

Simon Peter Was in the British Isles!

Dr. Hoeh’s article traced how the original apostles traveled to the lost 10 tribes. He even examined which areas were visited by which apostles.

Where did Peter spend most of his time after those first 12 years in Palestine? Metaphrastes, the Greek historian, reports “that Peter was not only in these western parts”—the western Mediterranean—“but particularly that he was a long time in Britain, where he converted many nations to the faith.” This is speaking of Peter’s main life work to the lost 10 tribes!

Cave’s Antiquitates Apostolicae explains more on this subject of Peter’s ministry. Peter didn’t preach the gospel in Rome. That was left to the Apostle Paul. Peter did visit Rome, but he did not preach the gospel there. Instead, Peter was “a long time” in Britain; he did most of his life’s work there, preaching and teaching the gospel. So, unless Peter disobeyed Christ’s command in Matthew 10:5-6, Britain is one of the lost tribes of Israel! It is, in fact, the modern nation descended from Ephraim!

In Genesis 48, Jacob (Israel) named his name on Ephraim and Manasseh. Manasseh’s modern identity is none other than the United States of America. These two modern Israelite nations, Britain and the United States, became very wealthy and very powerful, just as God prophesied they would.

These two Israelite tribes were blessed because of the obedience and faithfulness of their ancestor, Abraham. God promised Abraham that He would bless his descendants (Genesis 22:18; 48:8-22). Look all over this Earth and all through history, and it’s hard to find two nations that were more blessed than the United States and Britain. God gave those two nations the promises of wealth and prominence that He originally promised to Abraham for his obedience. But now those blessings are being taken away because his descendants are wallowing in perverse sins.

These nations must be told who they are and must be warned about what they are doing. You can only do that if you understand these prophecies.

Besides the modern nations of Israel and Judah, the Bible also has many prophecies about Germany, Russia, China, Japan and many Middle Eastern nations. The Bible tells you what is ahead for all of these nations!

Who Else Went to the Lost 10 Tribes?

There’s something else interesting about these lost 10 tribes.

When the Apostle Paul arrived in Rome, the Jews there had not received the gospel, and they did not know what was happening with the Church that Christ had established. They only knew that it was persecuted and disliked, and they wanted to know what Paul thought about it (Acts 28:17, 21-22). This is absolute proof that the Jews at Rome had never heard from the Apostle Peter. Paul came along after the original 12, and he was the one who was preaching in the Gentile city of Rome.

In a.d. 656, Pope Vitalian decided that the Catholic Church was not interested in the remains of the Apostle Peter and the Apostle Paul. So, the pope sent their remains to Oswy, king of Britain. Here is what he wrote to the British king: “However, we have ordered the blessed gifts of the holy martyrs, that is, the relics [the bones] of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul, and of the holy martyrs, Laurentius, John, and Paul, and Gregory, and Pancratius, to be delivered to the bearers of these our letters, to be by them delivered to you” (Bede’s Ecclesiastical History,Book iii, Chapter 29). Even the bones of Paul and Peter ended up in St. Albans in Britain!

Another impacting part of Dr. Hoeh’s article said this: “Turn now to added proof of the apostles’ mission to the lost sheep of the house of Israel to the British Isles. From an old volume, published in 1674, by William Camden, we read: ‘The true Christian religion was planted here most anciently by Joseph of Arimathea, Simon Zelotes (or Simon the Zealot), Aristobulus, by St. Peter, and St. Paul, as may be proved by Dorotheus, Theodoretus and Sophronius.’ Well, did you catch that? Paul is now included! Had Paul planned to go from Italy into Spain and then Britain? Here is the answer. ‘I will come by you into Spain’ (Romans 15:28). He was on his way around to Spain and then on to Britain. Clement of Rome, in his letter to the Corinthians, confirms Paul’s journey to the West. But did that include Britain? Listen to the words of the Greek church historian Theodoret. He reports ‘that St. Paul brought salvation to the isles that lie in the ocean” (Book i on Psalm 116, page 870). The British Isles!

“But was that merely to preach to the Gentiles? Not at all. Remember that the third and last part of Paul’s commission, after he revealed Christ to the kings and rulers at Rome, was to bear the name of Jesus to the ‘children of Israel’ (Acts 9:15)—the lost 10 tribes. … This is a prophecy of Paul’s mission to the British Isles!”

The Apostle Paul also went to Europe to teach the lost 10 tribes!

The lost 10 tribes were important to Jesus Christ. They were important to the original 12 apostles. They were important to the Apostle Paul. They are important to God! And one of the main reasons is that their true modern identities unlock Bible prophecy!

Are the lost 10 tribes important to you? Knowing their modern identities is the key that unlocks biblical prophecy. You urgently need this precious key, because we are entering the most tumultuous period in world history—the time just before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ—when those prophecies are coming to pass before our eyes!

From Sea to Shining Sea

Yet another conquest by radical Islam
From the October 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

Eighteen miles. That’s the width of the Bab el-Mandab passageway, the narrow stretch of ocean separating Djibouti from Yemen that connects the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea. In strategic terms, this passage is crucial. Control the Bab el-Mandab passage and you control the eastern half of one of the most important shipping lanes in the world.

That is exactly what Iran is looking to do. Few recognize it—but it’s happening under our noses. All you have to do is look at Yemen.

Easy Pickings

Remember Yemen? The Arab Spring rolled into the country in February 2011. Finally, after 12 months of massive protests, multiple defections of key military and political officials, and a failed effort to forge a power-sharing arrangement with his opponents, President Ali Abdullah Saleh resigned in February of this year. He was replaced by his vice president, Abd al-Rab Mansur al-Hadi.

Yemenis aren’t satisfied. Regular anti-government protests continue, government officials are still defecting, political stability and unity remain elusive, and the economy is still in horrible shape.

Worse still, anti-government forces—most notably Islamist terrorist organizations—are wreaking havoc, expanding their reach and slowly wearing the government down. Within five days in August, for example, terrorists conducted three separate attacks in Yemen. One was a well-planned assault on Yemen’s intelligence headquarters that killed 20 soldiers and security personnel. In another, alleged al Qaeda terrorists bombed a key pipeline transporting natural gas; Yemen’s Ministry of Oil says attacks on energy infrastructure are costing Yemen $15 million per day. The intensity of these attacks seems to be growing.

Meanwhile, a food crisis is brewing, brought on by a rapid rise in food prices and food shortages. In July, the World Food Program reported that half of Yemen’s population could be malnourished. Nothing provokes dissatisfaction and anger like an empty gut, and some now fear that economic stress will harden the public’s anger at the fledgling government.

Yemen’s weakness and vulnerability as a nation makes for a bleak scenario—and in Iran’s eyes, a perfect opportunity.

Enter Iran

“In the past several months, Iran appears to have increased its political outreach and arms shipments to rebels and other political figures in Yemen,” the New York Times reported March 15. Tehran is reportedly supplying moral, ideological and military support to Islamist terrorists, including al Qaeda. It is known to be providing them AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades, as well as material for making explosive devices.

Tehran is especially invested in northern Yemen with a Shiite organization called al-Houthi. The Houthis’ goal is to not only destabilize Yemen’s government, but also to undermine Saudi Arabia’s Sunni government. Iran is Saudi Arabia’s enemy and has stepped forward as the Houthis’ primary ideological, financial and military ally. Despite their religious differences, the Houthi and al Qaeda are united, and even reportedly are working together to undermine Yemen’s government. Both are powerful ideological allies of Tehran.

Iran’s Fars News Agency, citing a spokesman for Yemen’s Revolutionary Forces, reported that “the Yemeni people are deeply interested to establish stronger and very intimate relations with Iran” (August 21). According to Fars, the spokesman “reiterated that once the Yemeni people take back power from the Saudi-U.S. pivot, Tehran and Sanaa [Yemen’s capital] would certainly develop their ties” (emphasis added).

What does Iran expect to gain by establishing a presence in Yemen? Look at a map of the Middle East. Basically, Iran wants Yemen for the same reason it wants Ethiopia, Eritrea and Egypt: to control the Red Sea!

Yemen abuts both the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. It sits on the north side of the Bab el-Mandab passageway. Each of the thousands of ships that traverse this passage each year would travel within easy range of Islamist missiles stationed in Yemen. Consider the global ramifications: More than 5 percent of global oil supplies, some 2 to 3 million barrels per day, pass through the Suez and the Red Sea. Roughly 20,000 ships—an average of 55 per day—pass through the Suez Canal and Red Sea each year. About 15 percent of global maritime trade travels through the Red Sea. Talk about power and leverage.

Few see it, but ultimately, this is Iran’s grand strategy for endorsing and promoting the Islamification of Egypt, Ethiopia and Eritrea, and to a lesser extent, Yemen and Djibouti.

Think about the leverage Iran is gaining. It already effectively controls the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz. Now, in the 18 months since the Arab Spring touched off the rise of Islamist forces throughout North Africa and the Middle East, Tehran has made enormous strides in gaining influence over the Gulf of Aden, the Bab el-Mandab passageway, the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. If Egypt takes control of the Sinai, which appears imminent, Iran will also gain a foothold in the Gulf of Aqaba.

It’s startling, when you think about it, the way Iran is steadily—but quietly, with few noticing—locking down the Red Sea!

What Is Real Repentance?

What Is Real Repentance?

zelg/iStock

The Philadelphia Trumpet, in conjunction with the Herbert W. Armstrong College Bible Correspondence Course, presents this brief excursion into the fascinating study of the Bible. Simply turn to and read in your Bible each verse given in answer to the questions. You will be amazed at the new understanding gained from this short study!
From the October 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

You have made your share of mistakes. There are deeds you wish you hadn’t done, things you wish you hadn’t said. You have made decisions that got you into trouble, and you have paid the steep price.

You’re not alone. In fact, beginning with Adam and Eve, every human being has walked contrary to God’s way of life—except for Jesus Christ. We have all contributed to this world’s sins (Romans 5:12, last part).

We have all done “the works of the flesh.” We have all capitulated to the wrong desires of our minds and bodies. We have all walked along with this world, following “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2-3).

Since all human beings have sinned, we have all therefore earned the penalty for sin, which is eternal death—cessation of life forever! (Romans 6:23).

But God, in His great mercy, has provided a way for us to avoid paying that ultimate penalty: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

There is only one way to have our sins blotted out—only one way to enter the Kingdom of God—and it requires repentance!

Acts 2:38 summarizes the salvation process in just one verse, and the very first word of that crucial passage is “Repent”! Jesus also said explicitly: “[E]xcept ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3, 5).

But what does it mean to repent? We have to know: It means the difference between eternal life and eternal death!

The ‘Natural’ State of Man

Real repentance means real change. But why do we need to change? And what do we need to change? To answer these questions, we must first understand the “natural” state of every human being.

1. God inspired the Prophet Jeremiah to describe the core motivation of the human mind. How did he characterize the mind, or “heart,” of man? Jeremiah 17:9. Is the unconverted mind of every human being naturally inclined to obey God, or to disobey? Romans 8:7-8.

2. What are the tendencies of the “carnal” (physically oriented) mind? Galatians 5:19-21; Romans 1:28-32; James 4:1-3.

3. What is the definition of sin? 1 John 3:4.

Stop a moment and contrast the “natural” mind of a human being with the mind of God. God is not preoccupied with Himself. He is filled with outflowing love. He loves all people. He does not want to take from them; He wants to give blessings out of His great love and concern. He is not hostile, defiant, rebellious, resentful or selfish. He is love!

God wants all of us to eventually become like Him. Therefore, He wants us to turn from and strive to overcome the devil’s evil influence on our thinking and our actions. This is the essence of repentance. It is a doorway out of entrapment in sin and misery—and into living the happy, abundant life that God Himself leads! It is changing our very minds, our very selves—who and what we are!

An About-Face!

The original words in the Hebrew and Greek from which repent and repentance are translated mean to turn, to change direction. True repentance is a complete about-face from disobedience toward God to obedience, love and cooperation with Him.

True repentance is fully realizing that we have rebelled against our Maker, that we have broken His righteous law. Repentance means abhorring our past sins and self-willed, rebellious natures. We must truly be broken up and ready, with God’s help, to quit sinning and rebelling, and to submit to God with all our hearts.

The time of repentance is the turning point in our lives!

True Repentance Is of the Heart

1. Is true repentance a deep, moving, heartfelt experience? Joel 2:12-13.

2. Does a heartfelt, repentant attitude open the way to a close, saving relationship with God? Psalm 34:18.

3. Is spiritual repentance toward God? Acts 20:21.

Sin is against God—He is the Lawgiver whose perfect law we have broken. To repent means to be so humbled and broken up about our rebellion against the living, holy God that we turn to Him in real sorrow and plead for His mercy and forgiveness. It means abhorring our deceitfulness, our vanity, our selfishness, and crying out for His help to overcome our evil natures and to develop His righteous character.

Maybe you do see the need to repent toward God. But how do you do it?

First, understand that you cannot work up a deep feeling of abhorrence for your sins and sinful nature on your own. Real repentance is not just “beating yourself up” emotionally. It is impossible for a carnal mind to stir up the proper godly attitude toward sin on its own.

So how is it possible for a human being to come to real repentance? How can a carnal, flawed human being start to change from being self-centered to loving God more than himself and loving his neighbor as himself? This desire must come from God!

4. What actually leads you to repentance? Romans 2:4.

5. Is it God who also grants repentance? 2 Timothy 2:25. Also see Acts 11:18.

Repentance means giving up your way and turning to God’s way. It means surrender—unconditional surrender—to live by every word of God. Since the Bible is the Word of God, it means to live by the Bible. It means voluntary submission to the authority of God, expressed in His Word!

6. Does surrendering to God also mean that we are to put Him ahead of and above all else? Matthew 10:37. Does this also include our own lives? Luke 14:26.

“Hate” in Luke 14:26 means to love less by comparison, as the parallel account in Matthew 10:37 shows.

We Must Turn to God’s Law

1. How may we become cleansed of sin—made acceptable to God? Is it through Christ’s sacrifice and His shed blood? Does that blood blot out our sins and reconcile us to God? Romans 5:8-10. What must we do to have Christ’s sacrifice applied to us? Acts 3:19.

2. How did God inspire the psalmist to define “righteousness”? Psalm 119:172. It is clearly the keeping of God’s commandments!

3. Who did Paul say are justified before God—the hearers or the doers of God’s law? Romans 2:13. Did Paul make plain that although the unmerited pardon of our sins is by God’s grace through faith in Christ’s sacrifice, a Christian is nevertheless obligated to God to keep His law? Romans 3:31. Also read all of Romans 6.

4. Is the law of God good? Romans 7:12. Is it just and holy? Same verse.

God’s law is the way to peace, happiness and joy. It is God’s great gift to mankind—given to make man happy, to lead him into the full, abundant life, both in this life and for eternity. The evils mankind suffers from today are not caused by the law, but by the breaking of it!

5. How did Jesus sum up God’s law? Matthew 22:36-40. What one word sums up God’s law? John 14:15; 15:10; 2 John 5-6; Romans 13:8-10.

The whole intent and purpose of the Ten Commandments is love because “God is love” (1 John 4:16). Jesus showed that God’s law has two basic aspects. The first shows us howto love God, which is the intent of the first four commandments. The second aspect shows us howto love our neighbor—fellow human beings. The last six commandments teach us how to do this.

God’s Call to Repentance

1. What was Jesus’s message from the beginning of His ministry? Mark 1:14-15; Matthew 4:17; Luke 13:1-5. Were Christ’s disciples to preach the same message? Did Jesus say, in fact, that repentance should be preached among all nations? Luke 24:46-47.

2. On the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon Christ’s disciples (Acts 2:1-4), what message did God inspire Peter to preach to the multitudes gathered in Jerusalem? Acts 2:37-38. Did Peter continue to preach repentance? Acts 3:19.

The same proclamation to repent is central to the message of God’s Church today.

3. Does the Bible show there are no exceptions—that all have sins they must repent of? 1 John 1:8-10; Romans 3:23; 5:12; Ecclesiastes 7:20.

There are many who feel they are “good, humble people” who have never personally done anything really wrong and so have little, if anything, to repent of. But your Bible says ALLhave sinned! Those who think they have not sinned are actually guilty of the sin of self-righteousness!

Have You Really Repented?

Have you come to the point in your life where you want to give up walking contrary to God and surrender yourself completely to Him? Have you come to the place where you see yourself as you really are—as God sees you?

Have you “sized yourself up” against the Ten Commandments and God’s Word, and admitted where you fall short? Are you willing to keep all of God’s commandments?

Notice what the Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 13:5: “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves ….” The Prophet John told the Pharisees and Sadducees to “Bring forth therefore fruits meet for [or befitting] repentance” (Matthew 3:8).

How can you examine—prove—your own self? By comparing your life, thoughts, words and actions with the Word of God.

True repentance requires a permanent change of direction. It is a total commitment to a course from which there is no turning back. It is not a temporary, spontaneous emotional response so prevalent today in religious “revival” meetings. You have learned that it is something much deeper and vastly more profound!

Have you really repented?

What’s the Trumpet Doing in Jerusalem?

What’s the Trumpet Doing in Jerusalem?

Trumpet/Ryan Friesen

The Trumpet’s publisher has 21 personnel in the Holy City digging, taping, writing and publishing—why?
From the October 2012 Trumpet Print Edition

On a quiet street in Jerusalem across from an open field stands a large, stone-faced house. Green-shuttered windows and doors and numerous balconies adorn the three-story building, and a burst of fiery magenta flowers climbs over a small stone wall by the street. The faint sounds of the city filter through the otherwise serene atmosphere. This is the home of the newest enterprise for the publisher of the Trumpet newsmagazine: the Philadelphia Church of God’s Jerusalem office.

On May 30, Trumpet executive editor Stephen Flurry, his family and five Herbert W. Armstrong College students and alumni arrived in Jerusalem. Their mission: establish a regional office for the church, a branch of the college and a base of operations for Trumpet reporting on location. Since then, the pcg’s work in the capital of Israel has grown in numbers and in impact. It now includes a crucial involvement in one of the area’s most important archaeological projects.

A History in the Holy Land

The Philadelphia Church of God and its predecessor, the Worldwide Church of God, have had a lot of involvement in Israeli Jerusalem archaeology almost since the very beginning.

After Israel won the Six Day War in 1967, it gained control of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. This greatly expanded the areas available for archaeological exploration. One of the first excavations to commence took place along the southern wall of the Temple Mount. It was conducted by Prof. Benjamin Mazar, director of the Israel Exploration Society and former president of Hebrew University.

Herbert W. Armstrong was the founder of the Worldwide Church of God and of Ambassador College, a liberal arts institution located in Pasadena, California. When he heard about the new excavations in the heart of Jerusalem, he visited the site and soon realized he wanted to be a part of uncovering the walls and artifacts of the Bible. Immediately he proposed that Ambassador College help fund the excavation and provide volunteer labor during the summer months.

Soon after, Professor Mazar and Prof. Joseph Aviram, the current head of the Israel Exploration Society, accepted Mr. Armstrong’s invitation to visit the Ambassador students in California. Though the archaeologists had turned down three other major American universities seeking involvement in their project, they now offered Ambassador College a 50/50 joint participation.

The next year, more than 70 Ambassador students spent their summer excavating the Ophel alongside Israeli workers in the “big dig.” The joint project would continue for a decade, and hundreds of Ambassador students would have the opportunity to touch those ancient stones.

In addition to sending over what were praised as the excavation’s most enthusiastic laborers, Ambassador College shouldered half of the cost of excavations alongside Hebrew University from 1968 until the conclusion of the dig in 1976.

After years of labor and research, the big dig yielded artifacts that were dated to the First Temple period in the seventh and eighth centuries b.c., during the time of the temple originally built by Israel’s King Solomon.

The Next Generation

During Benjamin Mazar’s excavations in the shadow of the Temple Mount, a young girl frequented the dig site, asking questions, rubbing elbows with archaeologists, spending time with the Ambassador students and taking a keen interest in the work. Her name was Eilat.

In 1986, digging recommenced on the Temple Mount. This time, it was Eilat Mazar, the professor’s granddaughter, who headed the project. The younger Mazar focused on the First Temple period at the eastern part of the site. Throughout the 1990s, she continued in the spirit of her grandfather’s work.

Meanwhile, back in the United States, Mr. Armstrong died in early 1986. The leadership that took over Ambassador College discontinued Mr. Armstrong’s work and his vision—in Jerusalem and worldwide. Ambassador’s participation in Israeli archaeology ceased. In the mid-’90s, the college closed altogether.

In 1989, Gerald Flurry, an Ambassador graduate, decided that Mr. Armstrong’s vision and mission should continue, founding the Philadelphia Church of God in Edmond, Oklahoma. The church established a small cultural foundation in 1996, and a small college in 2001. The Armstrong International Cultural Foundation and Herbert W. Armstrong College endeavor to fulfill the same philanthropic and service-oriented goals that Mr. Armstrong strived for with Ambassador.

In August 2005, Dr. Mazar made a shocking announcement. Her team had been digging the northern part of the ancient city of David in East Jerusalem and had unearthed the remains of a large public building dating to the 10th century b.c. Dr. Mazar believes the evidence shows that this structure was none other than the palace of King David.

The following year, Herbert W. Armstrong College offered its support to Dr. Mazar’s work, sending a handful of students to assist with the excavations.

Dr. Mazar still remembered the close relationship between her grandfather and Mr. Armstrong. “Without the support of Mr. Armstrong and the Ambassadors, the Temple Mount excavations would have never become, as it did, the most important and largest excavations in Israel at that time,” she said, adding that she was “excited to have the ambassadors back with us.”

Discoveries

Over the past six years, Herbert W. Armstrong College has participated in several phases of Dr. Mazar’s excavations in Jerusalem, helping to make a string of remarkable discoveries.

In addition to the remains of what appears to be King David’s palace, Dr. Mazar and her team discovered that the Stepped Stone Structure in the City of David actually connects with the palace above, proving that the two were built at the same time.

Later in 2007, while excavating a tower adjacent to the palace, Dr. Mazar discovered that what had long been considered a Hasmonean fortification was actually constructed during the time of the biblical Nehemiah.

In the last week of that year, Dr. Mazar’s team also found a bulla (a clay seal impression) of Gedaliah the son of Pashur, one of Jeremiah’s accusers mentioned in Jeremiah 38:1. In 2005, Dr. Mazar had found another bulla, stamped with the name Jehucal, who is also mentioned in the same verse. Both of these seals are currently on display in Armstrong Auditorium in Edmond, along with dozens of other First Temple-period artifacts.

In 2008, the team discovered a water tunnel more than 150 feet long that might have been the conduit King David’s forces used to conquer the city in the 10th century. Dr. Mazar called the excavation of the tunnel an almost entirely “Armstrong College enterprise.”

In late 2009 and early 2010, Armstrong College students helped Dr. Mazar uncover walls in what is believed to be a royal complex built by King Solomon. The city wall, located in the Ophel, is estimated to be more than 200 feet long and almost 20 feet high.

In August 2012, Mazar resumed excavations on King Solomon’s complex at the Ophel, and Armstrong College students returned to Jerusalem again to help.

Behind the Scenes

In March, Herbert W. Armstrong College announced it would send 19 students and alumni to Jerusalem for the summer to assist Eilat Mazar in the second phase of her excavations at the Ophel. It was to be the largest wave of students the college had ever sent to Jerusalem. But a summer dig was not to be. Authorities denied the excavation license, the dig was postponed, and students remained grounded in Oklahoma.

Two months later, however, a crew of nine came to Jerusalem with a different focus: establishing a regional office as a base for reporting on location from the most important city in the world. The pcg team focused on researching, newsgathering, writing, scripting, podcasting and videotaping to produce content for theTrumpet.com. The crew reported on local press conferences and filmed Trumpet Daily episodes and other video content at historically significant sites in Israel. The office gives the Trumpet a sharper perspective, reporting directly from the focal point of the Middle East and of Bible prophecy.

Within a matter of weeks after the team set up in Jerusalem, Dr. Mazar called with news: The license was in hand, and the dig was on again. Back in Edmond, 12 more students and alumni packed their bags for Jerusalem.

When the second wave of students arrived on August 14, the framework was in place to roll them right into the production; the added students could significantly increase the content that the office was producing. Now, 17 students and alumni are part of the writing and video production crew.

The fact that the dig would now run through the school year also necessitated a branch of the college being established in Jerusalem.

The up-and-running office was well equipped to handle the influx, with adequate office and meeting space at the main building for the Trumpet and Armstrong College classes, along with accommodations for the Flurry family and the female student volunteers. A second apartment around the corner houses male students and alumni, and a third apartment accommodates the alumni women.

On the Dig

With the commencement of the 2012 Ophel excavation, the college has its largest presence in Jerusalem ever, with 21 representatives working on the excavation and in the office. The college is the only organization supplying volunteers to Mazar’s excavation, and the manpower it supplies makes up about a third of the total workforce on the site.

Armstrong students wake early each morning to prepare for a full day of digging. Work at the Ophel excavation begins at 6:30 a.m. and ends at 2:30 p.m. The early work hours avoid the heat of the day, with short breaks scheduled every two hours.

The Ophel excavation is attached to the Davison Archaeological Park, immediately south of the Temple Mount. The area excavated during the first phase of the dig has been equipped with walkways and informative signs enabling tourists to view the ruins that have been unearthed so far.

Class

Armstrong students also spend some of their day in class learning skills related to the project. They attend Hebrew class, where they are tested on their individual study of an audio language learning course. They also attend a weekly course on archaeological history and skills taught by Brent Nagtegaal, an Armstrong College alumnus and area supervisor on the Ophel excavation.

“The participation is not something regular,” Dr. Mazar said, referring to Armstrong students at the dig. “It’s not like coming, volunteer, excavate, go home. You’re really taking part, actual part—not just excavating, [but] learning the archaeology of excavating. [T]he contribution is educational; intelligence is part of it.”

After several months on the dig, some of the students, she went on to say, have become “professional by now … to be an actual archaeologist, with great experience.”

This Phase Is Different

During Dr. Mazar’s first phase of the Ophel excavation, much of the area had already previously been excavated by her grandfather. Even so, she found several important artifacts, including 12 pithoi (large earthen vessels) and the oldest written document ever found in Jerusalem to date. This second phase, however, expands the search to areas that have never been excavated before.

Stephen Flurry said the excavation was also different in that the college has a unique partnership with Dr. Mazar and access to publicizing the news of the dig. As part of their work-study program in Jerusalem, students are producing content relating to daily life on the dig and posting it at www.keytodavidscity.com.


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.