Newsletter 104 Summer 2012
Are you sometimes discouraged by the state of the world? Do you feel that the forces of evil always seem triumph? We are not the first to face battles against what appear to be insuperable odds.
Young William Wilberforce was discouraged one night in the early 1790s after another defeat in his 10 year battle against the slave trade in England. Tired and frustrated, he opened his Bible and began to leaf through it. A small piece of paper fell out and fluttered to the floor. It was a letter written by John Wesley shortly before his death. Wilberforce read it again: “Unless the divine power has raised you up… I see not how you can go through your glorious enterprise in opposing that (abominable practice of slavery), which is the scandal of religion, of England, and of human nature. Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? Oh, be not weary of well-doing. Go on in the name of God, and in the power of His might.”
We are on the victory side. In this present age evil will reign. But the time is soon coming when Jesus will return to establish His kingdom. Until that time we are His witnesses. Our strength is in the Lord.
Signs of the end of the age – Conclusion
This series of articles has listed the following seven signs as indicators that we are approaching the end of the present age:
- The return of the Jews to Israel
- Jerusalem becoming a heavy stone for all peoples
- The hostility of the surrounding nations towards Israel
- The hatred of Israel by all the nations
- The growing global hostility towards Christians
- The spread of apostasy within the church
- The rebirth of Islam
These are the signs which convince me that we are living in the period leading up to the return of Christ. There are more signs which could be added to the list, some of which others may regard as more significant.
Wars, Famine and pestilence
Matthew 24 refers to wars, famines, pestilence and earthquakes as the birth pangs. The 20th Century saw a vast increase in the ravages of war, plague and famine. In this context it is significant that the Balfour Declaration which raised the hope of a Jewish state came about at the height of the First World War. A war, which caused senseless carnage, fought between the leading Christian nations of the world. Surely such folly would have caused God to decide that the time had come to draw this age to a close. It was due to the earth being filled with violence that God said to Noah that He was sorry that He had created man (Genesis 6: 11, 13).
Lawlessness and sexual immorality
The increase in lawlessness and sexual immorality could also be regarded as signs. When society runs out of control God will intervene.
The Sounding Trumpets
The ministry Trumpet Sounds draws its name from an interpretation of Revelation chap 8. In that chapter four trumpets are sounded. Each announces a particular destruction coming on the earth. All the judgements contain an element of fire which is symbolic of angels: “He makes His angels winds, His servants flames of fire” Heb 1: 7.
The trumpets warn of destruction coming on the earth. They also announce victories in heaven. A later vision tells of the warfare in heaven between Michael and Satan. Each victory in heaven causes demonic forces to be cast down to earth where they wreak their own forms of havoc. The demons spur men on to do their will, causing immense destruction.
The trumpets started to sound in the 20th Century. From that time on the earth has seen unprecedented war, famine, death and destruction. Not just people have suffered. The whole environment is under threat.
Grassland and Trees
“And the first angel sounded: And hail and fire followed, mingled with blood, and they were thrown to the earth. And a third of the trees were burned up and all the green grass was burned up.” v.7
In the last century deforestation has taken place on an enormous scale. Grasslands have turned to desert. Diseases have wiped out whole species of trees.
The sea and ships
“Then the second angel sounded: and something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea was turned to blood. And a third of the living creatures in the sea and a third of the ships were destroyed.” V.8,9
In the wars of the 20th century a vast tonnage of shipping was sunk. The seas have been polluted and fish stocks depleted to the point where many species are nearing extinction.
“Then the third angel sounded: And a great star fell from heaven burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. The name of the star is wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the water because it became bitter.” V.10,11
There has been wide spread pollution of water sources. A vast proportion of the world’s population does not have access to clean drinking water. They are forced to drink from polluted sources with the consequent risk of disease. Wormwood is a plant with a strong bitter taste.
“Then the fourth angel sounded: And a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them were darkened. A third of the day did not shine and likewise the night.v.
Burning rain forests in the Far East have blotted out the sun. Air pollution is a problem in every industrialized country. Over the final 30 years of the 20th century the intensity of sunlight reaching the surface of the earth reduced. The reduction caused by particle pollution in the air has been measured at 16% in the UK, 22% in Israel and 30% in Russia.
An environmental crisis
These judgments will intensify as we near the end of the age. With the judgments that fell on Egypt, it was the natural world, which is first to feel the wrath of God. The Lord in judgment uses natural forces. Christians and unbelievers suffer alike under these judgments. Trees, grass, rivers, lakes and atmosphere are all part of our common heritage and responsibility. The present environmental crisis is a warning of greater judgments to come.
The trumpets may yet have a more exact final fulfillment. Even so what we see in the world around us should be taken as a warning that time is running out.
For the Christian, despite the warnings that Life will not be easy, it should be a time of great joy. Times of trouble and persecution may well come but we have a blessed hope. It is in the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ.
We study prophecy not to amuse ourselves through solving scriptural riddles, or speculation about times, but to ensure that we are prepared and equipped to stand in the final days. The scriptures are given to guide us. In the final days of darkness we will need that guidance to bring us safely through to our glorious destiny in Christ. Our reward is the resurrection. On the day that the last trumpet sounds we will be transformed into His likeness to be with Him forever.
A final thought from the 19th Century preacher Andrew Bonar, writing on why we need to study prophecy. “The question is not how much we are interested or how correct our conclusions may be, but how are we profiting by the disclosure we shall find of such terrible and at the same time glorious realities as the ‘sure word of prophecy’ declares to be coming upon the earth? Without a corresponding result in our life and conversation we are but trifling with this as with other scripture….”.
If you have found these articles helpful they are now available as a booklet. For a copy please either purchase through the website: trumpetsounds.org.uk or write to the author Philip Wren at 48 Newlands, Balcombe, Haywards Heath, West Sussex, RH17 6JA, enclosing a cheque for £2.50 which includes p&p.
The Boycott of Israeli Goods
On the 28th April 2012, Co-op supermarkets became the first major European supermarket group to end trade with companies that export produce from Israeli settlements in the disputed territories. The decision will hit four companies and contracts worth some £350,000.
The Co-op’s decision was endorsed by an House of Commons Early Day Motion tabled 14.05.2012. “That this House congratulates the Co-operative Group for its decision to ban all Israeli goods from the occupied Palestinian West Bank and for also boycotting all goods from Israeli companies including Arava Export Growers, Agrexco, Adafresh and Mehadrin; calls on all other supermarket chains and suppliers to follow the excellent lead of the Co-operative Group; recalls that it was such boycott policies which helped end apartheid in South Africa; and calls on the Government to make representations to the EU to urge that all member states issue similar boycott measures and to end the special trading status which the EU has with Israel.”
The motion was sponsored by Bob Russell MP and supported by 20 Labour and Liberal Democrat MPs.
The move by the Co-op is hypocritical as it still stocks goods produced in occupied North Cypress labelled as product of Turkey. North Cypress is illegally occupied in breach of international law; of that there is no question, unlike the dispute over the West Bank.
The boycott by the Co-op was in response to the campaign group Boycott Israeli Goods. On their website Boycott Israeli Goods [BIG] publish a list of Israeli products stocked by the various supermarkets. It can be found using the following link: http://www.bigcampaign.org/supermarket-product-watch/. However you could turn the intent of this web site on its head by using BIG’s list to identify and purchase Israeli products.
Jubilee is a word from Lev 25 – it derives from the Hebrew yobel, the sound of a ram’s horn which was blown to announce the beginning of jubilee. In this chapter God is giving the Israelites some instruction in matters concerning property & possessions – knowing that there will always be haves and have nots in society; there will always be those who have to borrow to make ends meet and those who are willing to lend. So He sets up rules: debts would be cancelled regularly. In particular the land could not be sold in perpetuity because the land belonged to God & had to be sold leasehold. When the Israelites took possession of the land each family or clan was given a particular part of it. In the story of Naboth’s vineyard – for which King Ahab offers fair money – Naboth replies ‘The Lord forbid that I should give the inheritance of my fathers to you’ – that would be to dishonour them. If a man was forced to sell the land allotted to him because he had fallen on hard times it could only be sold up to the next Jubilee year – which happened every 50 years. After 50 years all land reverted to its original owner.
Jubilee was first of all an occasion for celebration and thanksgiving
Specifically you thanked God for what He had done and given. And joy and thanksgiving should be the mark of any jubilee. Jesus was anointed with the oil of joy – that’s why so many thousands came to see & hear him. You could always tell which was Jesus – he stood out as the man of gladness. On the night He was betrayed He prays that His disciples might have the full measure of His joy within them – and joy should be the mark of any of Jesus’ followers. Paul was received graciously by the Galatians, but when he writes to them later he asks ‘what has happened to all your joy?’ The joy they had had they’d lost and it was obvious. Stand outside after any church service and watch the faces – you’ll soon be able to tell if the spiritual temperature of the church is hot or cold. Stand outside any Mosque and you’ll soon see that there’s little joy in Islam.
Next Jubilee was a time of freedom
A year when all debts were cancelled and all land was returned to its original owner. With debt comes bondage and with bondage fear; one of the enemy’s most potent weapons: we fear the past – that what we’ve done in the past will somehow catch up with us – we fear the present, how to maintain our livelihoods in the present critical times – and we fear the future – what will happen if I lose my job or my marriage breaks up and then there’s all the kids to worry about. But Jesus gives us a clear command in the sermon on the Mount DO NOT WORRY because your heavenly Father knows what you need.
Thirdly Jubilee was a celebration of national identity.
The Jews could claim that they were God’s chosen people – not for any merit of theirs but because the Lord loved them. Lev 7:6-8 “For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the Lord loves you..., “
So British citizens can celebrate being members of one of the finest countries on earth. I’m proud to be a member of the UK. I don’t say we’ve had an unblemished record as a nation – the slave trade & the expulsion of the Jews in the 13th century are two incidents of which we should be ashamed. but we have a long record of democratic government that has set the pattern for many in this turbulent world. And we gave the world the gospel. Men & women went out into all the world to tell the good news of Jesus.
It’s excellent & cheering that we have a Christian monarch whose long record of dutiful service has been upheld by her faith, as she freely admitted in this year’s Christmas Day broadcast. And above all I’m proud that we can still put on a spectacular show as the Jubilee celebrations & the royal wedding have demonstrated. We do get something right!!
I’m so glad to be a citizen of the UK for that shows me what a kingdom is. It’s that territory where the Queen reigns. Although she has no power she does have enormous influence on our national life. So the kingdom of God is any person, situation or place where the rule of God is followed. I’m a citizen of the UK because I was born into it. I’m a citizen of the Kingdom of God by being born into that too – by the work of the Holy Spirit.
Redefinition of Marriage
The United Reformed Church in the UK has given the green light for member churches to hold religious ceremonies to celebrate civil partnerships. Homosexual and lesbian relationships are thereby endorsed by the denomination. As such they are the first main denomination to take this step.
The Rev. Kirsty Thorpe, a previous moderator of the URC commented on the decision as follows. “We have a long way to go in terms of recognizing and supporting those people in our churches who are in lasting, loving, mature same-sex relationships. This resolution could help those congregations who are already on this journey to reach a new stage in their understanding of how best to support and relate to such couples”.
It is left to individual churches as to whether they follow the decision through and apply to register civil partnerships. Churches which disagree will be placed in what will in time prove to be an impossible position. While a denomination holds strong theological objections to homosexual relationships the local church can also uphold its objection on theological grounds. But if a denomination sees no objection, the refusal by an individual church or minister will be interpreted by the world as due to unwarranted prejudice.
The recognition of Gay Civil Partnerships by one denomination strikes a blow against the preservation of the current definition of marriage. From a secular perspective what is the difference between a religious ceremony in church to affirm a gay civil partnership and a marriage? The world will not be able to understand what all the fuss is about.
The Islamic Vote
In the last edition of Trumpet Sounds we commented on how George Galloway played the Islamic vote to swing his election. The next politician to grasp the importance of the Muslim vote has been Francois Hollande the new president of France. In his campaigning he made a number of concessions to Muslims, including an amnesty for the 400,000 illegal Muslim immigrants and promising the vote to Muslim residents who do not have French citizenship.
A survey of polling showed that 93% of French Muslims voted for Hollande. The total number of Muslim votes cast on the 6th May far exceeded the majority by which Hollande won the election. Sarkozy in contrast to Hollande, was not seen as a friend of the Muslims. He has tried to make them conform and fit in to French society.
The Middle East
On the MEMRI website there is a video clip which shows President Morsi addressing his supporters. The clip has a translation of the Arabic. To the considerable adulation and repetition by the crowd he recites the Brotherhood motto, “Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Qur’an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah our highest hope.” He was affirming to the crowd his total commitment to the Brotherhood’s ideals. Watching the video gives a very different impression to the reticent politician that is being presented to the West.
Hilary Clinton was quick to visit Cairo after the election of Morsi. At their meeting she assured Morsi that the U.S. would do everything within its power to “support the democratically elected government and to help make it a success in delivering results for the people of Egypt.” Outside the US Embassy a handful of demonstrators pleaded with the US to rethink its uncritical support for the new regime. They fear that the result the Brotherhood will deliver for the Egyptian people is the imposition of Sharia law.
The founding objectives of the Muslim Brotherhood were to take Islam back to its origins which include the application of Sharia Law and to re-establish the Caliph. The video of Morsi’s address to his supporters confirms that while he may have nodded to Clinton’s platitudes his real intent is to impose Sharia on Egypt.
The Brotherhood has from the beginning adopted a policy of gradualism. Unlike other radical Islamist movements they are prepared to bide their time. The founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan al-Banna, counselled that they should not act until sure of victory. It has been a long road from the 1930s when they were founded. Now they sense that their time has come.
The West mistakes gradualism for moderation. There is nothing moderate about the Brotherhood. A hardline cleric named Safwat Hegazy spoke at a campaign rally for Morsi. He declared, “We are seeing the dream of the Islamic Caliphate coming true at the hands of Mohammed Morsi” and “The capital of the Caliphate and the United Arab States is Jerusalem, God willing.”
Changes will come incrementally. First individuals will be encouraged to adopt Sharia. Then the law will be extended to regulate family life. Society and government will follow. Finally the Caliph will be reinstituted. Then the Brotherhood will work for Sharia to become the law of the whole world.
The vital step which will determine the future destiny of Egypt will be the writing of a new constitution. This will determine the extent the Brotherhood can achieve its objectives. But even if the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces which seeks to preserve the moderate Islamic character of the state is able to put safe guards in place the Brotherhood has learnt from long experience to bide its time.
Another exponent of the gradualist approach is Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey. During his time in office he has taken away power from the military and the judiciary. Under the constitution the military and judiciary are the joint custodians of the secular state. Erdogan’s AKP party has its roots in the Turkish Muslim Brotherhood and is intent on recreating an Islamic state.
At a recent rally Erdogan gave a speech which was widely interpreted in Turkey as calling for the return from exile of Fethullah Gulen. Gulen is regarded as Erdogan’s mentor and by many as the most dangerous Islamist in the world. He fled to the United States in 1999, before being put on trial for attempting to overthrow the Turkish government and Constitution.
Gulen promotes a Turkish brand on Islamism which makes use of a veneer of western concepts such as democracy, interfaith dialogue and toleration. The real intent is to assert the dominance of Turkish Islamism and return to the glories of the Ottoman Empire.
Gulen’s movement is reported to be immensely wealthy. There is evidence that his fortune exceeds $25 billion. Much of the wealth reputedly comes from the Afghanistan opium and heroin trades.
Back in Turkey his movement owns newspapers, television networks, banks and manufacturing and construction companies. It is thought that he used his fortune to create the ruling AKP party.
According to Mustafa Yesil, a leading figure within the Gulen movement and chairman of the Journalists and Writers Foundation in Istanbul, the movement is “faith-based, pacifist, pluralist, colourful and pro-democratic.”
This view of Gulen’s intentions is lapped up by many in the West. At a fund raising event for the Obama re-election campaign, Vice President Joe Biden recently addressed a group of roughly 200 influential members of the Turkish-American community. Biden said, “We’re looking for Turkish leadership in the rest of that entire region.” Biden continued to speak of what a wonderful “model” Turkey is for other Islamic nations: “It’s a model as to how you can have an Islamic population, an Islamic state and a democracy; something the rest of the region is groping to figure out how to do.”
But this Islamic democracy is not all that it appears from the outside. Criticism from within is dangerous. More journalists are in prison in Turkey than in China and Iran added together. The concert pianist Fazil Say faces the prospect of 1.5 years in prison for sending tweets critical of Islam. In June two students were sentenced to eight years in prison for holding up a sign demanding free education at an Erdogan meeting with the Roma community. A former top general has been sent to prison for saying in a private conversation the regime has sold out the country. He joins a growing number of senior armed forces officers now serving prison sentences.
Erdogan has encouraged Egypt to adopt a secular constitution. It would seem from the example of Turkey that a secular constitution is to be regarded as no more than window dressing. It is designed to keep the West on side as long as possible while the real intent of building an Islamic state is worked through.
According to an article published in the Washington Post, the United States and Israel have jointly developed a sophisticated computer virus nicknamed FLAME. The virus collects intelligence to facilitate cyber-sabotage aimed at slowing Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear weapon. The virus has monitored Iran’s computer networks sending back a steady stream of intelligence.
This is a development on the Stuxnet virus which a couple of years ago was reported to have set back the Iran’s nuclear programme. According to the article in the Washington Post a senior US intelligence official confirmed that Flame was part of a broad assault on Iran which is continuing. He added that, “Cyber-collection against Iran was way further down the road than this”.
The virus is among the most sophisticated and subversive pieces of malware to be exposed to date. Experts said the programme was designed to replicate across even highly secure networks, then control everyday computer functions to send secrets back to its creators. The code could activate computer microphones and cameras, log keyboard strokes, take screen shots, extract geolocation data from images, and send and receive commands and data through Bluetooth wireless technology.
Flame was designed to do all this while masquerading as a routine Microsoft software update; it evaded detection for several years by using a sophisticated programme to crack an encryption algorithm.
Over recent months there have been frequent speculations regarding why Israel has not attacked Iran’s nuclear facilities. We are long past the date given as the window of opportunity for such an attack. It is to be hoped that Israel and the US are finding ways other than bunker busting bombs to halt the development of Iran’s nuclear weapons.
“ Behold, Damascus is about to be removed from being a city and will become a fallen ruin.” Isaiah 17:1. There is another prophecy of destruction in Jeremiah 49: 23 -27. Jeremiah adds Hamath and Arpad as cities which will be disheartened and put to shame. These also lie in modern Syria. Damascus is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities on earth. It has not yet suffered the destruction foreseen by the Isaiah. This raises the question of when this prophecy will be fulfilled.
David Dolan has frequently been asked about the fulfilment of this prophecy against Damascus. In answer he has written an article posted on his website. It can also be read on www.trumpetsounds.net.
There is a real potential for a massive armed conflict between Syria and Israel. International demands are forcing Assad and his cronies into a corner. An attack upon Israel might prove to be the only way out. Assad has a vast army of over 300,000 men under his control. He also has weapons of mass destruction. It is not too farfetched to believe that Assad may come to view all out conflict with Israel as his only remaining option. If Assad used chemical weapons against Israel the response will be both in kind and decisive. Syria will not be given a second chance.
The fall of Assad would not remove the threat. The Sunni Muslim forces arrayed against him are possibly even more hostile to Israel. Assad’s huge arsenal of weapons could fall into their hands presenting Israel with a new and dangerous threat.
The prospect of losing Syria as an ally could prompt Iran into action. They may insist that Assad’s chemical weapons are transferred to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Israel has stated that if there was any evidence of that taking place they would be forced to intervene.
Forty years ago Golda Meir quipped, “why did Moses lead us into the only place in the middle East without oil?” Unknown to Golda Meir and the rest of the world the oil was there waiting to be discovered. Not just some oil but in such abundance that it has the potential to make Israel the richest oil country in the world.
Exploration of Israel’s oil reserves is only just beginning but so far discovered is an estimated 250 billion barrels of shale oil, the largest reserve anywhere outside the United States. In addition there is 3.2 billion barrels of conventional oil and 50 trillion cu ft of natural gas which is about 10 % of the global reserve.
The discovery of oil, which is good news for Israel, is increasing tensions in the region. A huge gas reserve has been discovered off the coast of Cypress. This is probably an extension of the Israeli gas field. Turkey which is increasing its political support for Turkish Northern Cypress, has said that it will not allow the exploration of these oil and gas fields. The intention is to claim the oil and gas reserves.
Cypress and Israel are planning to lay a pipe line through Greece to supply Western Europe. This will anger the Russians who will lose their strangle hold on gas supplies to Europe.
Syria also has considerable oil riches off its coast. It is one of the prizes to be gained by whichever side wins the proxy war now being fought in Syria.
Five months ago John and Altaa Gibbens had to literally flee for their lives from Mongolia. Mongolia is a violent country dominated by Shamanism.
They had been working in that country as Christian missionaries since the early 1970’s, when Mongolia was still ruled by communism. They know that they are on a list of targets compiled by ultra nationalists who want to rid the country of all foreign influence. Therefore for the present return to Mongolia to continue their work is impossible. They believe it right while outside the country to complete a new Mongolian translation of the Bible and also prepare editions which are adapted to the forms of Mongolian used in Russia and China.
At present John, Altaa and their son Tegshee have temporary accommodation in Leeds where John is completing his PhD thesis.
From the 1st September they will have nowhere to live. They ask for prayer, not just for a place to live but for opportunities to use the pastoral and teaching gifts God has given them. Please pray for them and if you know of ways in which practical help can be offered or would like more information you can contact John using his email: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Trumpet Sounds and we will pass the message on.
On the Banking Crisis
“If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issuance of their currency, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.” Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson advocated that the Constitution of the United States required just one amendment. It should have removed from the Federal Government the power to borrow money.