Newsletter 109 Autumn 2013
In this edition:
The fiery trials which test us
The Great Anguish Part 5 – the faithful Jews
The Land Well Loved
Nations in debt
Answers in Prophecy – Spring Programme
Missing from heaven
The fiery trials which test us
Equality and tolerance are two words which, in the way in which they are being applied, will bring an end to freedom. On the back page of this Trumpet Sounds we mention a proposed European Equal Treatment Directive. It is proposed that this will include a Model Statute for Tolerance. In the Model Statute we read that “There is no need to be tolerant of the intolerant.” But who defines intolerance? In the document it will be a state appointed ‘special administrative unit’ which has power to monitor groups and individuals who hold views deemed by the state to be intolerant.
As Christians we should be intolerant of what the Bible defines as sin, intolerant of sin in our own lives, intolerant of sin within the church and warning of the consequences of sin in the wider society. To call anything sinful challenges the world’s idea of equality for we are claiming a higher authority.
In the first letter of Peter, we read, “do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you which comes upon you for your testing”. In the letter we can identify some of the trials which the readers were facing. They are the same trials which confront the faithful believer in our present apostate age.
They were being called evil doers.
They were accused of disobeying authorities
They were being harshly treated at work
There is nothing new. In the eyes of the world we are evil doers if we fail to conform to the current ideas of equality and tolerance. We live in a society where relative morality has become accepted and the Bible as a higher authority discredited. It is considered to be up to the individual to determine what is right or wrong for their own life. To deny that premise is to both challenge the idea of equality and to be considered intolerant.
With increase of tolerance based legislation we will be accused of disobeying authorities. Already we are seeing instances of Christians being discriminated against at work for upholding Christian values.
Where will this all end? It will end with a brief attempt by Satan to suppress all testimony to the truth, followed by the return of our Lord and the establishment of His kingdom. The fiery ordeals will soon give way to the glorious reign of Christ.
The above was the title of a three part documentary shown on BBC2 and narrated by Rageh Omaar. It was a commendable brief survey of a major and influential empire. Some Islamic prejudice was present in Omaar’s commentary. For instance he briefly referred to ‘Arab Palestine’ and to the Jews being a Western imposition. But in the main it was a balanced view of the Ottoman Empire. It praised its strengths as well as exposing many of the reasons why formerly subjugated peoples hate the Turks to this day.
Omaar was right in observing that in Europe the Ottoman Empire has largely disappeared from history. Our lack of knowledge of the history of the Middle East contributes to our failure to understand the forces at work and present day struggles which are troubling that part of the world. As a brief introduction to an important piece of history the series is to be recommended.
The final episode focused on modern day Turkey. Omaar explained how the modern nation had arisen from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire under the secular leadership of Kemal Ataturk. The new Turkey became a secular state with religion pushed to the side lines.
But for the last decade the nation has had an Islamist government. [Its close links to the Muslim Brotherhood were not mentioned in the documentary]. Omaar presented Turkey as a model for the role of Islam in a modern state. He seemed to think that a balance had been achieved between the powers of the state and religion which would set the course for the future.
What he did not comment on is the extent to which opposition has been suppressed. Many who have spoken out against the government or opposed the Islamisation of the nation are now in prison.
Omaar also commented that as part of the secularization under Ataturk, the role of Caliph had been abolished. He made the point that for many Muslims the removal of the Caliph left an empty void within Islam. There was no longer a leader who could declare actions as un-Islamic. He thought that if there was such a leader, he would tell movements such as Al Qaida that the killing of innocent civilians was wrong.
Omaar appears to be a secular Muslim. It is significant that even a cultural Muslim can favour the reinstatement of the Caliph. We need to recognize that it is not democracy but leadership which most people in the Islamic world are longing for. The rise of such a leader will be welcomed not just in the Muslim world but by the West and all who vainly put their trust in man’s ability to achieve peace.
The Great Anguish – Part 5 the faithful Jews
The previous article in this series looked at the final tragedy of the Jews. As a nation they will commit one last offence against God by accepting an imposter as their Messiah. That offence will usher in the time described by Jeremiah, “Alas for that day is great, so that there is none like it; and it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, but she will be saved out of it.” Jeremiah 30:7. Even in their tragic suffering God has a purpose for good.
So far we have considered two groups of Jews. The believing Jews who, if they obey Jesus’ command to flee, will find a place of safety and the unbelieving Jews who accept the Man of Sin and suffer for it. We will now bring in another group, the faithful Jews. They are the ones who despite their blindness to the gospel sincerely seek to serve their God. They are known to their Saviour and will be brought through the time of anguish to fulfil the promise that once “the fullness of the gentiles has come in and so all Israel will be saved”.
The prophet Amos writes of a time when God will turn his hand against sinful Israel to destroy it from the face of the earth. Immediately following that warning the prophet adds, “Yet I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob says the Lord”. The prophecy then adds, “For surely I will command, and sift the house of Israel among the nations, as pebbles are sifted in a sieve; yet not the smallest pebble will fall to the ground. All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword. Who say ‘The calamity shall not overtake nor confront us.’” Amos 9: 9,10.
The sifting precedes the raising up of the tabernacle of David in the last days. In Acts, raising of the tabernacle of David is quoted to endorse the judgment that gentiles can turn to God and be accepted while still remaining as Gentiles. In Jesus we have a king who is already reigning in heaven. The line of David has been restored. There will also be a future and greater fulfilment of the restoration of the tabernacle of David when Jesus returns to reign.
In every situation God works for good. He will use this final anguish to sift the nation dividing the sinners from those He will save.
For the sinners in Israel there will be no escape. “He who flees from them shall not get away, and he who escapes from them shall not be delivered. Though they dig into hell, from their my hand will take them; though they climb up to heaven from their I will bring them down; And though they hide themselves on the top of Carmel, from their I will search and take them; though they hide from my sight at the bottom of the sea, from their I will command the serpent and it shall bite them; Though they go into captivity before their enemies, I will command the sword and it shall slay them. I will set my eyes for harm and not for good.” Amos 9:1- 4.
Such will be the hatred for the Jews at this time, that they will be shaken among all the nations. No matter where they are those who hate them will hunt them down. In Amos the sinners who will be judged are defined as those who mock God’s warnings. They believe that in their own strength there is security.
God repeatedly warned Israel that if they forsook Him, He would bring calamity on them. Time and time again the kingdom of Judah sought security by making alliances with the surrounding nations. Each nation which they looked to as a friend soon turned against them. Egypt, Syria, Assyria and finally Babylon were all approached as allies. It is no wonder that the prophet Isaiah was so angry when he heard that King Hezekiah had shown friendship towards the king of Babylon. The nation had just experienced a miraculous deliverance by the hand of God. God had proved that He could protect them. Yet here was the king following the same old policy of looking to other nations for security.
Even after the captivity in Babylon the nation hadn’t learnt its lesson. Soon after the Maccabees had delivered the nation from Seleucid rule they sent envoys to Rome seeking a security alliance. Before long the Roman legions were marching through their land imposing the hated Roman rule.
Those who seek security by accepting the rule of the Man of Sin will be counted by God as sinners. They will have put their trust in man rather than the Lord of all the earth who has promised to watch over them. Many but not all will trust this false Messiah. There will be those who will look to God as their protector.
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego faced a similar challenge. Either bow down before the image of the beast (in their case Nebuchadnezzar) or accept death. In choosing death they had the glorious experience of meeting their Lord and Saviour and also received back their life. I believe that somehow God will preserve those who refuse to bow the knee to Satan. They are the pebbles who although sieved will not fall to the ground. They may be taken through the furnace but at the end they will meet their Lord.
Through them God will fulfil His promises to Israel. After He has gathered them from the nations; “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and cleanse you from all your filthiness and all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take away the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them. Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be my people and I will be your God.” Ezekiel 36: 25 – 28.
This reconciliation between Israel and her God will take place on the day that Jesus returns to save Jerusalem from her enemies. They will recognise the one their nation rejected so long ago. “then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for His only son…. ” Zechariah 12: 10. They will mourn as they recognise all the needless suffering the nation has experienced due to not accepting the true Messiah of Israel. They will mourn when they realise that their fathers inflicted such suffering on the one who came to save them.
The protection of the righteous in Israel is also recorded in the book of Revelation. Chapter 7 describes two harvests which will take place during the final time of Great Anguish. There is “a great multitude which no one could number of all nations, tribes, peoples and tongues. That is the glorious culmination of Jesus’ words, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 27: 16. This is the harvest reaped by a faithful church as it completes its task of taking the gospel to all nations.
The other is a harvest from Israel reaped by God. They are described as, “one hundred and forty four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel,” Revelation 7: 4. There are 12,000 from each tribe with the exception of Dan. Nothing more is said about them other than they are sealed. They are sealed before any harm is done to the earth, sea and trees.
The precise numbering of the children of Israel emphasises that God is watching over His people. Not one whom God has sealed will be lost. It will be a traumatic time for them. We would wish that none would have to go through it but even so God is watching over them to save. Possibly the tribe of Dan is missing in order to emphasise that this is still a salvation by faith. Dan was the only tribe who failed to have the faith to claim their inheritance in the Promised Land (Judges 18:1).
“And at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book.” Daniel 12: 1. On that day when Jesus comes back to deliver Israel, the sealed, whose names are written in the book, will come to faith. They will recognise their Saviour and accept Him as the King of Israel. These are the ones for whom Jesus said that “for the elects’ sake those days will be shortened. Matthew 24: 22. Israel will be pure and perfect with God’s law written on her heart. She will be grafted back into the rootstock from which she was broken off. God’s eternal promise and calling to Israel will be fulfilled.
THE LAND WELL LOVED
This is a boxed set of DVDs that provides a detailed record of one of Chris and Lindy Hill’s recent tours of Israel. The five discs play for nine hours and each comprises rich Bible teaching set in the locations where wonderful things were said and done by Jesus and the apostles.Chris Hill has been a Bible teacher for 50 years. His theological training and experience of the living world of the Bible, resulting from leading 88 tours of Israel, makes this set of DVDs a rich source of revelation for those who have a love for the Lord, His Land and His Word.
The cost of the 5 disk set is £32.50, which includes postage.
Order from:C L Ministries, www.clministries.org.uk
The DVDs are mainly Chris’ teaching made in the locations where Biblical events took place. His teaching is good and presents many insights. Describing Biblical events on the sites where they happened greatly helps our understanding.Even better than watching the DVD is a visit to Israel. Our experience of going with Chris and Lindy was personal, well organised and authentic. You will come back with many wonderful memories.Use the DVD as a taster and then book up a tour. P W
Chris and Lindy will be leading tours of Israel in May and September of 2014.
For details request a brochure from C L Ministries.
Nations in Debt
In October the US Congress agreed a deal permitting President Obama to borrow an unlimited amount until a deadline of 7th February 2014. The day after the deal the US national debt jumped up $300 billion. US debt now stands at over $17 trillion. Back in the debt crisis of 2008 the national debt was just over $14 trillion. It seems that US borrowing is out of control. And yet with borrowing at about 75% of the Gross Domestic Product its position is not as perilous as that of another leading industrialized nation.
Japan’s debt has now topped ¥1,000,000,000,000,000 [That apparently is a Quadrillion] which in dollars is $10.5 trillion. This amounts to over 240% of Japan’s Gross Domestic Product.
In Europe emergency bail outs had to be arranged for Portugal, Ireland and Greece when their borrowing topped between 120% and 160% of GDP. At these levels of debt, the nations found themselves struggling to pay for their borrowing. But all three are tiny players in the world economy. Japan with an economy larger than that of Germany, Britain and France added together is a major player.
Expert opinion recognizes that Japan has only two ways of dealing with its debt problem. It either defaults or inflates the problem away. The government has opted for the second less immediately painful option. The Bank of Japan will over the next two years create 120 trillion yen out of nothing. This will double the money supply and effectively half the value of the currency. It will be the largest quantitative easing scheme since the Weimar Republic.
This gamble relies on investors continuing to buy government bonds to enable the Government to service its debt. In the past Japan has been able to borrow at ridiculously low interest rates, the lowest of any country in the world. But even at knock down rates half of government revenue goes to pay interest on the debt. How many investors will want to invest in government debt if the value of the investment could halve in two years?
For the moment the Japanese gamble seems to be working with investors still buying Japanese government bonds. It works because investors are locked in to the government debt. They have to play the game in order to protect their existing investments. They face the question, which is the worse option, an asset losing value or default.
But even a small rise in the required interest rates will throw the Government’s finances into jeopardy. Since the policy was introduced the Yen has lost 20% of its value against the dollar which must put pressure on interest rates. If the Japanese government’s borrowing rates rise by even as little as 1% the solvency of the Government will come into question. Default by Japan would ignite a global crisis.
However Japan is not the only Asian debt time bomb. In China it is not government debt but private debt which is out of control. The World Bank recently reported that private debt in China now amounts to $23 trillion having risen $14 trillion in the last 5 years.
Just in case you thought that Europe was making headway and that the worst of the debt crisis was over, here are some figures from the Eurozone:
Greece: 160.5%, up from 136.5% a year ago
Italy: 130.3%; up from 123.8% a year ago
Portugal: 127.2%, up from 112.3% a year ago
Ireland: 125.1%, up from 106.8% a year ago
Spain: 88.2%, up from 73.0% a year ago
Netherlands: 72.0%, up from 66.7% a year ago
Every financial bubble eventually bursts. The global debt bubble will not be the exception.
However don’t despair, the International Monetary Fund has a solution. In their October Fiscal Monitor Report we read the following on page 49: “The sharp deterioration of the public finances in many countries has revived interest in a “capital levy”— a one-off tax on private wealth—as an exceptional measure to restore debt sustainability. The appeal is that such a tax, if it is implemented before avoidance is possible and there is a belief that it will never be repeated, does not distort behavior (and may be seen by some as fair). … The conditions for success are strong, but also need to be weighed against the risks of the alternatives, which include repudiating public debt or inflating it away. … The tax rates needed to bring down public debt to precrisis levels, moreover, are sizable: reducing debt ratios to end-2007 levels would require (for a sample of 15 euro area countries) a tax rate of about 10 percent on households with positive net wealth. IMF head Christine Lagarde has spoken of the need to seize 10% of all savings in the Eurozone to solve the Euro crisis.
Positive net wealth means anyone with money in the bank. To put it simply, the IMF recommend a sudden hit on your bank account. Before you have the chance to move your money to safety, the Government will help themselves to 10%. Of course you will be assured that it is a one off tax [until the next time]. You don’t believe that this can happen? The Cypriots will tell you that it can. It is a good time to invest in the Kingdom of Heaven where moth rust and thieving governments cannot touch your wealth.
Prime Minister David Cameron has an alternative solution for the reviving of the United Kingdom’s ailing finances. On Wednesday 30th October he announced the intention to make London the leading Islamic finance capital in the West. He told the World Islamic Economic Forum “I want London to stand alongside Dubai and Kuala Lumpur as one of the great capitals of Islamic finance anywhere in the world.”
Next year the UK will become the first western nation to issue a sharia compliant bond. Unlike conventional bonds, Sukuk [Islamic bonds] are described as investments rather than loans. Islamic finance forbids charging interest and requires that deals be based on tangible assets. With a conventional bond if a nation defaults the investor loses his money. With a Sukuk, if the nation fails to honour the debt the investor gains the asset.
Coupled with this announcement Cameron said that the London Stock Exchange will create an Islamic Index. The index will filter companies by their adherence to Islamic principles.
This will enable Islam to punch well above its weight. If any company wants to attract investment from Muslim investors they will need to be on the Islamic Index. Even if only a small proportion of the investment required by the company is to come from that source it will still need to comply.
It is a similar situation to increasing takeover of the food market by Halal products. Although the proportion of Muslims in the nation is less than 5%, companies comply in order not to be excluded from that market. As Halal products become more widely available many institutions now serve them so as not to offend Muslim clients. The Halal Food Authority claims that 25% of the UK food market is now Halal.
In France the Halal food industry is estimated to be worth $7 billion a year. An investigation by a French journalist concluded that 60% of the Halal industry had links to the Muslim Brotherhood and was funding that organisation. Some of the funding comes from Zakat, the compulsory charitable donations that all Muslims have to pay. Under Islamic law a group who may receive Zakat are those engaged in Jihad.
All Halal products have to be certified by one of the Islamic Agencies. This includes financial products. The Agencies carry out their work for a fee. Considerable fees can be earned on larger deals. As Muslim organisations they are required to pay Zakat. This money can be used to fund Islamic organisations who are seeking the downfall of the West.
Cameron thinks that it will be mutually beneficial to attract Islamic investment. More likely it will become a slow acting poison which destroys us.
Answers in Prophecy
The meetings are held at Crawley New Life Church, The Glade, Furnace Green, Crawley, RH10 6JL. The speakers will be Philip Wren and Jim Cottington. Sessions will run from 7.00 pm to 8.30 pm on Saturday evenings and generally be in two parts.
Sessions will either be teaching from the Bible on a prophetic theme or will look at world events in the light of scripture. There will also be a coffee break and time for questions.
Dates Autumn/Winter 2013
There is in general a lack of teaching in churches on matters relating to prophecy. The return of Christ is a subject which is avoided and yet according to the Bible it should be our ‘Blessed Hope’.
Many are put off the study of Bible prophecy seeing it as too confusing, complex, divisive or irrelevant. Answers in Prophecy seeks to teach prophecy in a way which is; simple, straight forward, uniting and very relevant. The focus is on what the Bible teaches not on speculation.
Missing from Heaven
The Daily Telegraph proclaimed in a headline that the Archbishop of Canterbury urged Christians to ‘repent’ over ‘wicked’ attitudes to homosexuals. His words were then interpreted as reversing traditional Christian attitudes to homosexuality. This was despite restating his opposition to gay marriage. Justin Welby did not actually make the statement reported in the Telegraph. He was responding to a question from a journalist at a press conference. It seems that what he did say was; ‘the way some Christians have treated homosexuals is nothing short of homophobic’.
Is opposition to homosexuality, homophobic?
Another senior Anglican clergyman has answered that anything short of affirmation of homosexuals is to hate them. Last July the United Nations launched its ‘Free and Equal’ campaign to promote fair treatment of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender persons. At the launch Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu said that he was as passionate about this campaign as he ever was about apartheid. He added that, “I would not worship a God who is homophobic and that is how deeply I feel about this. I would refuse to go to a homophobic heaven. No, I would say sorry, I mean, I would much rather go to the other place.” [I have checked this with enough sources to feel confident that is what he really did say!]
We used to say that ‘God hates the sin but loves the sinner’. That is where the Christian church should still stand. We are all by nature sinners. As sinners, we are separated from God. If we continue in our sin we will pay the penalty of our rebellion against God and go to that other place. To warn of the consequence of sin is the kindest thing that anyone can say to us. Reconciliation to God starts with repentance. Homosexuality is sinful, because it is condemned in the Bible and is rebellion against God’s created order. It brings down God’s curse in this life and His judgment in the life to come. To affirm sin is to hate the sinner. Affirming homosexuality is the real homophobia.
To go back to Justin Welby’s statement about homophobic actions, we are always in danger of acting in a phobic way when we focus on the sin and not the sinner. We acknowledge that we are far from perfect in this. Tough as it is, God’s love must be extended to the sinner, even when, because of our views, they have become our enemies.
God is not homophobic for He has offered a way of salvation to all. Heaven is not homophobic for all repentant homosexuals are welcome. Hell is homophobic and loves those homophobes who deny others the opportunity to be saved through their affirming actions which God has declared sin.
In Trumpet Sounds 94 I commented on a speech by Gordon Brown in which he said: “Lead us on to a world finally delivered from the evil of poverty and the sin of prejudice. Where intolerance is never tolerated, where no one suffers persecution or discrimination on the grounds of race of faith or differences of identity and nationality.”
They sounded like fine words which we as Christians should applaud. In his own words Gordon Brown would never tolerate the intolerant, hence the waves of anti-discrimination legislation which flowed from his and Tony Blair’s governments. In practice this means that the expression of the view that someone’s faith or chosen identity may be wrong cannot be tolerated. In the shining future everyone is to be accepted except those who will not accept everyone.
These ideas have been developed in a document presented to the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee of the European Parliament by the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation. Known as the “Model Statute for Tolerance,” the ECTR’s proposal was presented as part of the EU’s ongoing work towards a new “Equal Treatment Directive” (ETD). This directive would vastly expand the scope of discrimination to all sectors of life in both the public and private spheres.
It is proposed that in order to enforce equality and tolerance individual states are to set up ‘special administrative units’. These are to monitor individuals or groups which express views that are deemed by the state as intolerant. Critics fear that it will become an attack on the freedom of expression, as individuals or groups censor themselves due to the fear of prosecution for views which do not conform to those defined as acceptable by the state. Also the highly subjective definition of terms such as tolerance and discrimination will lead to frivolous litigation aimed at silencing opposition.
For more comment on the Model Statute for Tolerance go to:
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