What Is Real Repentance?

What Is Real Repentance?

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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.

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.