Newsletter 102 Winter 2012
We greet our readers in the immortal words of Paul to the Ephesians: ‘that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe’
This issue contains details of our annual Prophetic Conference to be held on 24 March at Rora House near Bovey Tracey.’
The New Year opened with two major uncertainties hanging over the world. One was the impending collapse of the Euro and the other the potential for a conflict with Iran over the development of nuclear weapons. If conflict with Iran were to occur, the collapse of the Euro would become a certainty. In this edition we will look at the potential for a conflict in the Middle East and the continuing crisis affecting the global economy. There are also articles on the sixth sign of the Lord’s coming, the growing extremism in Egypt and the re-branding of Christianity.
Following a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency released in November, it is now widely accepted that before the end of 2012 Iran will be in possession of nuclear weapons. In each of the years 1997, 2000, 2004, 2007, 2010 and 2011 we were warned that the point of no return had been reached with regard to a nuclear armed Iran. This time the threat appears more real although some believe that it will take 3 or 4 years before they have refined the weapon to the point where it can be launched at the end of a missile.
The Government of Israel has on a number of occasions said that if the world will not respond to the threat of a nuclear armed Iran then they will be forced to act on their own. According to IsraelNationalNews.com, last autumn the USA released 55 bunker buster bombs to Israel. These laser guided 2000 lb bombs could be used against Iranian underground facilities. Even with these weapons many doubt that Israel has the military capability to do any more than delay the Iranian nuclear programme.
The USA in an attempt to ensure that Israel does not act alone has said that they will act if certain red lines are crossed. What those red lines are has not been made public.
To steer Iran away from the creation of a bomb the West has threatened sanctions. The main sanction proposed is an oil embargo. But most Iranian oil goes to China and India not the USA and Europe. Anything done by the West which causes a disruption of oil supplies to China will bring that nation into the conflict. China has pledged to aid Iran in the event of war.
In response to threatened sanctions Iranian Vice-President Mohammad Reza Rahimi warned that, “If sanctions are adopted against Iranian oil, not a drop of oil will pass through the Strait of Hormuz,” Most of the crude oil from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, UAE and Kuwait passes through the Straits, as well as all the liquefied gas from Qatar. On the 27th December, as part of a naval exercise, Iranian planes dropped mines into the Persian Gulf. Later Iran claimed that it was part of a mock exercise for closing the straits.
A major disruption of oil supplies which forced up the price of crude oil would be devastating for the economies of Europe and the US which are already reeling under the burden of mountains of debt. It could be the event which pushes the West over the brink of total economic collapse.
Rationalists argue that Iran will think hard before closing the Strait of Hormuz as that would do serious damage to their own economy. The Iranian leadership is not viewing the world from a western rationalist perspective. Theirs is a religious frame of mind which sees a time of chaos as a necessary precursor to the return of the Mahdi. Therefore we cannot count on reason acting as a restraint.
Many Christians also believe that a time of international chaos will precede the rise of the man of lawlessness [2 Thessalonians 2: 3]. But there the comparison ends. Extreme Islam believes that this Mahdi will be the saviour of the world. He will usher in an age of peace as all peoples will accept the god of Islam. Christians believe that the man of lawlessness will be a cruel dictator and enemy of those who trust in Christ.
We do not know the future or how close we are to the return of Christ. But we live in a world which could be plunged at any time into chaos. It is time to be among those who know their God and are able to stand firm in their faith.
The Global Economy
“The world economy has entered a dangerous period. Some of the financial turmoil in Europe has spread to developing and other high-income countries, which until earlier had been unaffected. This contagion has pushed up borrowing costs in many parts of the world, and pushed down stock markets, while capital flows to developing countries have fallen sharply.” This quotation did not come from one of the numerous financial collapse blogs which populate the internet. It was the opening statement of the ‘Global Economic Prospects: Uncertainties and Vulnerabilities’, report published in January by the World Bank.
The report sets out ways in which developing countries should prepare contingency plans against the freezing up of global financial markets and the reduction in demand for commodities. The current advice from the World Bank is that nations should start preparing for the worst.
Other commentators warn that the situation is worsening by the day. Credit ratings agencies Fitch and Standard and Poors have both registered that a Greek default on the payment of her debts is inevitable. Their attention is now turning to Italy and her ability cover her debts.
It looks as if we are approaching a defining moment for those who interpret prophecy.
The Cashless Society
On his website ‘thefreepressonline.co.uk’ Alan Franklin made the following comment; “Our friend and mentor Barry Smith from New Zealand spotted this over 40 years ago and travelled the world warning about the looming New World Order. Barry died, on a preaching tour of Britain in 2002, but were he with us today he would jump up excitedly, clap his hands and exclaim: “Cash is about to crash!”
Are we at that point in history which will usher in a cashless society and a New World Order?
Alan Franklin goes on to write, “The catalyst will be global economic collapse, which could well happen in 2012 as the engineered meltdown is brought to fruition. This plan has been a long time in the making, dating way back before secret world government plotters like The Council on Foreign Relations, the Bilderbergers and The Trilateral Commission came into being.”
Over the next couple of years, the outcome, of the present crisis will indicate if the interpretation of prophecy presented by Barry Smith and many others was correct.
Satan is the god of this world. He has many weapons in his armoury to deploy against the church. Humanism, communism, globalism, false religions, apostate Christianity and many others can all be brought into play in his battle against those who keep the
commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. There is a case to be made that the last beast empire described in Daniel and Revelation is not universal. Satan’s final assault on the church may not be so monolithic as some have taught.
We must avoid, adopting a fatalistic approach to prophecy. Against the formidable forces of evil the church has a weapon of immense power. We can pray. It is not inevitable that the whole world will be ruled by the Antichrist or that we will all be living in a cashless society. But if we fail to be vigilant and pray then it will probably come about.
Signs of the end of the age 6 – Apostasy
“Let no one in any way deceive you, for it (the day of the Lord) will not come unless the apostasy comes first”, 2 Thessalonians 2: 3.
The Thessalonian Church had been disturbed by a message or letter falsely claiming to have come from Paul. It made out that the gathering of the believers to be with Christ had already taken place. The Thessalonian’s faith had been shaken by the report that they had been left behind. To assure the church that such teaching was nonsense Paul describes two events that will precede the day when our Lord comes for His own. One is the revealing of the man of sin. The other is a falling away from the truth.
Jesus also taught that there would be a falling away before His return. “And at that time many will fall away and will deliver up one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise, and will mislead many. And because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.” Matthew 24: 10 – 12. The time He is referring to is the end of the age. This sign is closely interwoven with the previous sign of the followers of Christ being hated by all nations. The effect of widespread hatred on the church will be to cause many to fall away. In addition to hatred, false prophets and a disregard for God’s laws will also play their part. Not just a few will cease to follow Christ. Jesus foresees a time when the majority lose their love for Him.
Apostasy in the UK
Living in the UK it is easy to believe that this period has arrived. A once Christian country with laws based on the Bible has turned its back on that heritage. A hundred years ago it was only a small minority who did not go to church. Today it is a minority who regularly attend.
In Britain hatred was not the major cause of the falling away. It began long before the current hostility developed. False prophets deluded by secular knowledge undermined confidence in the infallibility of scripture. If the Bible cannot be trusted as the authoritive word of God then Christianity becomes just one of many competing philosophies. People are free to believe what they like.
Going back to Second Thessalonians Paul adds that a deluding influence will be sent by God to cause people to believe that which is false (2 Thess 2:11). God will send it because they did not love the truth. In Britain as in many other countries the falling away from the church has been fuelled by a delusion. Two hundred years ago it was impossible not to believe in a god. A person may not have wanted to obey God but the existence of a creator god in some form was beyond doubt. Then came the wide spread acceptance of Evolution. It now seemed that there was an intellectually credible alternative to belief in God. This has led on from abandoning the faith to open hostility toward God. Was this a delusion from God to demonstrate that out of the mass of church goers’ there were few who really loved Him?
Over time rejection of God has been followed by rebellion against His laws leading to lawlessness. Lawlessness is not just rioting on the streets of Britain as occurred in 2011. It is the fruit of apostasy. Any society which loses the fear of a righteous God who will hold each of us to account will end up as described in 2 Timothy 3: 1 – 5.
Jesus also spoke of those who fall away as having no roots (Luke 8:13). Once the authority of scripture is denied its study becomes less imperative. Faith not rooted in God’s word will fail when temptation comes. Therefore out of those who remain in the church there are many who are ill equipped to stand when the final rebellion comes.
Our first love
Jesus said that at this time most people’s love will grow cold. The book of Revelation contains a letter to the Church at Ephesus. Jesus commends the church for its stand against the Nicolations and for their hard work and perseverance. But they are also rebuked, “But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” Revelation 2: 4. This is not a trivial matter. It is so serious that they are warned that if they do not repent their lamp stand will be removed. Put another way, they will be closed down.
My father told a story which must have taken place when either I was very young or before I was born. On holiday he saw someone in trouble out at sea. Being a strong swimmer he swam out and brought the boy back to land. It turned out that he had rescued the son of his bank manager. From then on as a business man he enjoyed an exceptionally good relationship with his bank manager. If someone renders us a real service it is natural to want to express our gratitude, the greater the service the greater our gratitude. At Ephesus they had forgotten just how much Jesus had done for them.
Churches which are sound in doctrine can fall into this more subtle apostasy. It creeps in when we lose sight of the awfulness of sin, when we think in terms of rehabilitation rather than rescue.
First Chronicles contains a story which tells us the extent to which David inspired devotion from his men. The Philistines had a garrison in his home town of Bethlehem. One day David said that he longed for a drink from the well by the city gate of Bethlehem. On hearing this, three of his strong men broke through the enemies lines to fetch water from the well. They risked their lives to please their leader. David was humbled by their devotion. He knew that he was not worthy to receive a gift which could have cost the lives of his men (1 Chronicles 11: 16 – 19).
We serve a king who is worthy of far greater devotion than David ever was. David risked his life for his men and his people. Our King gave His life for us.
How much do we really love Him?
Jesus was invited to a meal at the house of Simon the Pharisee. A woman, a sinner, enters the house and pours perfume over Jesus’ feet. She washes his feet with her tears and wipes them with her hair. It is an expression of gratitude by a sinner who has been forgiven. Simon the Pharisee is offended that Jesus should allow such a person to touch him.
Jesus turns the issue round telling a story about two debtors, one who owed a lot the other only a little. Jesus asks Simon, if each were let off their debts who would be most grateful. Simon replies that the one who has been forgiven most. He then comments on how Simon had not shown any tokens of respect or courtesy. He had not greeted Jesus with a kiss, or supplied water to wash his feet. There was no oil for an honoured guest. But this woman who he holds in contempt had done all these things. “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which were many have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little loves little.” Luke 7: 47.
There is a danger that in an increasingly hostile world we become like the Ephesian church. We are so focused on the world’s disregard for God’s law or the need to defend the truth within the church that we lose the most important part of all, our love for Jesus. We forget that He gave everything for us. He is worthy of total devotion.
A natural response to what has been written so far is that Britain and Europe are not the world. Decline here has been more than matched by growth elsewhere. Some claim that the church is reaping the greatest harvest in its history. If so, this would be a strong argument against the belief that we are in the middle of the falling away that will precede the coming of the Lord. Therefore we need an answer to the question; what is the real state of the global church?
This is a topic swamped with conflicting reports. For instance it has been claimed that in Mongolia over the last couple of decades over 60,000 have converted to Christianity with 500+ new churches. A missionary contact working in that country says that such claims are nonsense. In reality this supposed church growth is based on a fusion of traditional religion and the prosperity gospel. The intensely materialistic attitudes of these supposed Christians has brought the Christian faith into disrepute.
Another Asian country which has seen rapid church growth during the last 50 years has similar problems. An academic paper found that the growth was mainly due to emphasizing of the compatibility of the gospel with traditional religious values. The challenge that we are sinners in need of a saviour was played down by the more successful churches.
Without doubt there are parts of the world where the Lord is working and where the true church is growing. But much claimed growth is the product of a false prosperity gospel. We conclude that only Jesus knows the true state of His Church in this world.
Even if the church is experiencing growth today will it produce lasting fruit? The Bible clearly teaches that there will be a falling away before the Lord returns.
The falling away which we have seen in recent decades is an pointer to what is to come. It is paving the way for the final revealing of the man of sin. When that time comes all who do not love the truth as found in Jesus will be swept up by the final deception. The growing apostasy is the sixth sign.
The Islamic Winter
Following the first three phases of the Egyptian elections the Muslim Brotherhood FJP party and even stricter Salafi Al-Noor party have gained a majority of seats in the lower house of parliament. At the time of writing taken together they have won 230 out of 322 seats. There are a few runoff elections still to take place which may change this total slightly.
The next round of elections, to be held on 29th January, will contest seats in the upper house, although 90 out of the 270 seats will be appointed by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.
The final round of the elections scheduled for the end of June will be for the President. Tawfiq Okasha is one of the prospective candidates. He is a popular talk show host and owner of the Al Faraeen TV Channel. As we draw near the elections it will be interesting to follow how our somewhat blind media portrays him. I suspect he will be presented as a moderate candidate campaigning for a non religious state grounded in conservative Egyptian values. He supports a continuing role for the army and seeks to counter the influence of the Islamist parties.
On MEMRI http://www.memritv.org/clip/en/3207.htm there is a clip with translation from one of his shows. In it he informs the viewers that the global economy is dominated by a Jewish / Freemasonry conspiracy. Despite that he declares that not all Jews are totally evil. [I suppose that in the Middle East that does make him a moderate]. He divides Jews into a ratio of 60:40. Sixty percent range from evil to unspeakably evil. The other forty percent are evil but could be tolerated. Just a few are only a tiny bit evil. If he appeared on TV in the UK he would be rated as insane. He is in fact a strong contender to become President of Israel’s most powerful neighbour.
The time of Jacob’s trouble
Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, is known to be in awe of his father the historian Ben- Zion. His world view is influenced by his father’s work
Ben-Zion Netanyahu who had his 100th birthday last March is recognised as the world’s foremost historian of the Spanish Inquisition. His most important work, ‘The Origins of the Inquisition in 15th-Century Spain’, upended the scholarly consensus on the roots of that bleak chapter in Jewish history. He argued that Spanish hatred of Jews was spurred by the principle of limpieza de sangre, or the purity of blood; it was proto-Nazi thought, not mere theology that motivated the Inquisition. Ben-Zion also argued that the Inquisition corresponds to the axiom that anti-Semitic persecution is preceded, in all cases, by carefully scripted and lengthy dehumanization campaigns meant to ensure the efficient eventual elimination of Jews. To him, the lessons of Jewish history are plain and insistent.
If we accept Ben-Zion’s analysis, the lies which are being spread today by the news media will prove to be a precursor to the time of Jacob’s trouble.
Re Branding Christianity
Last August the BBC web site carried a report under the heading, ‘Dutch rethink Christianity for a doubtful world’. The report opened with a statement by a pastor of the PKN* church in the Netherlands, “Make the most of life on earth, because it will probably be the only one you will get”. It then went on to relay a number of similar quotes from other clergy denying the divinity of Christ, the resurrection and almost everything else the church has traditionally believed. The report quotes a study by the Free University of Amsterdam which found that one in six of the clergy of the PKN were either Atheist or agnostic.
Included was a very telling quote from a Professor Hijme Stoffels of the UV University Amsterdam; “Christian Churches are in a market situation. They can offer their ideas to a majority of the population which is interested in spirituality or some kind of religion.”
On his web site Albert Mohler commented, “All this is familiar, at least in general terms, to anyone who has been observing mainline Protestantism, in either the United States or Europe, for the last half-century or more. The central doctrines of Christianity are first sidelined and hardly mentioned, then revised, and finally rejected. Behind that process is the argument that the world has changed, and that Christianity must change with it.” …… “A church that lacks the doctrinal conviction and courage necessary to prosecute an atheist pastor for heresy is a church that lost its Christian identity a long time ago. The doctrinal experimentation embraced by these Dutch churches is hardly limited to the Netherlands. Nevertheless, the Dutch situation makes one point transparently clear, this is a laboratory for the destruction of Christianity.”
As Mohler states above, the idea that the church must market itself in a way which appeals to the mass of the population is not limited to the Netherlands. In the UK, the United Reformed Church, another church formed by the merging of three historic denominations is about to embark on an advertising campaign to counter falling membership. The Zero Intolerance campaign stresses that everyone is welcome. The campaign assures that no matter what your life style, sexual orientation, doubts or ethnic background you would be welcomed. The initial drafts of the campaign material were quite offensive to other churches, implying that they were unwelcoming and judgmental.
Although the statements about the welcome offered by other churches were insulting, it is the underlying premise of the campaign which is at fault. Often repeated in the advertisements is the statement, “Jesus never turned anyone away”. The statement and conclusions drawn display a superficial knowledge of the Gospels. Jesus was generally polite and willing to talk to people although at times He could be very pointed, even rude. The gospels are packed with examples of those He effectively turned away. He did it by challenging them to change their life style. The rich young ruler had to sell all his possessions. The comfortable lawyer had to be prepared to rough it. The adulteress had to stop her sin. The member of the religious hierarchy, proud of his high birth, had to be born again. Even to the disciples He spelt out that if they were to follow Him they had to deny themselves and take up their cross.
This is of course where the stereotype of the unwelcoming church originates. The church welcomes everyone, but if it is true to the Gospel, it will also challenge them. This is not out of hate, but in response to the love of Christ working through us. Following the example of Jesus, we challenge people because we long for them to be saved. Those who are unwilling to repent will accuse the church of being unwelcoming. There are many who crave the comfort of religion but are not willing to renounce their past lives. They ‘Hate Church’ because it preaches what is for them the unacceptable truth.
*Note: The New Protestant Church of the Netherlands [PKN] was formed in 2004 out of the merger of three former denominations and claims about 2.5 million members.
Islam the uniting force in world religion
For years King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has been planning to unite the religions of the world in a bid to establish world peace. His hopes took a step forward in October 2011 with the founding in Vienna of the “King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue”. The centre has mainly been funded by the Saudi government. It will be governed by a 12 person panel of representatives from the major religions and will supposedly be independent of the Saudi government.
During the signing ceremony in Vienna the Saudi Foreign Minister said that, “The thesis is valid that world peace cannot exist without peace between the world’s major religions.”
It may seem ironic that a nation which operates a strict form of Sharia law, devotes a tithe of its national income to the spread of Islam and denies the right to practice another religion within its borders should outwardly be seeking to build peace and harmony between religions. But to the Islamic mind global peace will only come when all submit to the god of Islam. Initiatives such as the King Abdullah Centre are ultimately aimed at convincing other religions of the superiority of Islam.
World events are moving so fast that it is difficult for a quarterly newsletter to keep up. With this in mind the Trumpet Sounds website has been redesigned to allow for regular updates.
The new website can be found at www.trumpetsounds.net .The front page of the site will be regularly updated with posts commenting on prophecy and world events. The site is still under development with further features to be added. There is an archive of articles which appeared in Trumpet Sounds between 2003 and 2011. New article will now be stored under category headings.
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For Edification or Profit?
Rupert Murdock is a vastly rich international business man. He is currently rated as 117th richest person in the world. The Economist attributed to Murdoch the invention of the modern tabloid newspaper with its focus on sex, scandal and sport. This formula coupled with eye catching headlines enabled him to turn around a number of ailing newspapers. Over the years he has become the pre-eminent baron of the global news media.
For much of last year, following the News of the World phone hacking scandal, he and his son James were in the news. The scandal illustrated how the relentless drive for profit overruled scruples about personal privacy.
In October 2011 Harper Collins, a Murdoch company, purchased Bible and Christian book publishers Thomas Nelson. According to Christianity Today this purchase, together with its previous acquisition of Zondervan, places it in control of more than half of the Christian publishing market.
In 1798 Thomas Nelson started his publishing company in Scotland with the mission of placing good Christian books into the hands of ordinary folk throughout the United Kingdom. Will such a vision continue under the profit driven culture of News Corporation?
In December Salva Kiir the president of the newly formed country of South Sudan made his first foreign visit. His destination was Jerusalem. The visit acknowledged that throughout the struggle of the South against Muslim domination from the North, Israel has been the one nation to stand with them. He apparently proposed to Shimon Peres that South Sudan would locate its embassy in Jerusalem. This would make them the only country in the world to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Within the context of Scriptural prophecy it is quite possible that there will be some exceptions to the general end time hatred of the Jews and their sovereignty over Jerusalem. If countries such as South Sudan stand with Israel during this troubled time they will be greatly blessed by our Lord on his return.