Newsletter 116 Summer 2015

“But the end of all things is at hand therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers”. 1 Peter 4: 7. Peter wrote these words nearly 2000 years ago and yet the end has not come. Today Christians are likely to respond using Peter’s words in his second letter, “Where is the promise of His coming?” 2 Peter 3: 4. Within the Christian church many now scoff at those who teach on the Second Coming. To focus on the return of Christ is seen as a distraction.

It is in this context that, prayerfully, I believe the time has come to write the following article on the Fall of Babylon. It is a warning of things that are soon to come about. Within the article there is a challenge, do we love what God hates? When these things come to pass will we respond in fear or will we rejoice? Are we in love with the world or do we set our hope on the heavenly city? In that respect the article on the last page is a challenge to us all.

In this edition

The fall of Babylon

The Reign of Christ on Earth

the Iran Nuclear Agreement

EU moots new international formula to boost Middle East peace

The Coptic Christian Martyrs

The Fall of Babylon

 “And another angel followed saying, “Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink the wine, the wrath of her fornication.”” Revelation 14: 8

In his vision, recorded in Revelation, John sees three angels flying in the midst of heaven. The first angel declares that the time of God’s judgement has come. The second announces the fall of Babylon. The third warns of the dangers of worshipping the beast and his image. The fall of Babylon is described in detail in Revelation chapter 18. Although that chapter comes after those that describe the reign of the beast, the actual order of events is as announced by these three angels. Babylon will fall and make way for the kingdom of the Beast. This order of events is confirmed in Revelation 17 where the 10 kings who will give their power and authority to the Beast hate the Harlot, Babylon the Great. They will make her desolate and destroy her.

The destruction of Babylon will be the beginning of the time of judgment on the earth which will climax in the outpouring of the wrath of God at the very end of the age. The fall of Babylon is one of the major events of the close of this age. Therefore as the end of the age approaches we need to understand what “Babylon, that great city” represents. There are a number of choices with regard to the symbolism of Babylon. Suggestions include a literal city, a religious system, world government and the kingdom of this world. We will look at some pointers from Scripture to its meaning.

The Great City

At the beginning of Genesis, Cain is placed under a curse. He has sinned in killing his brother. The ground, already cursed after Adam’s sin, is cursed again. Cain had been a tiller of the ground. Now not even the ground will support him. He is to become a fugitive and vagabond on the earth. Cain is cast out without livelihood or home. He is fearful that he will be vulnerable to any who pursue him.

God promises to avenge anyone who harms Cain. But Cain having lost the presence of God is no longer able to trust His word. His first recorded act after a child is born is to establish a city. In a violent world cities are places in which people gather together for protection. We find that from the beginning of history the city becomes a symbol of the will of man set against the will of God.
As Cain’s family line develops we read that in this city are the beginnings of what we call civilisation. They learn to breed livestock, introduce technology and develop the arts, in this instance music.

Technology is soon put to use in a way that will become endemic throughout human history. The creation of weapons appears to be one of the first uses of metalworking. In Genesis 3: 23, 24, Lamech boasts that he has been able to kill a younger and presumably stronger man. He boasts that he is now more powerful than God. Cain would only be avenged seven times while he in his estimation had been avenged seventy seven times. The weaker can overcome the stronger if he has a weapon.

In the city, with its civilisation, man imagines that he no longer has a need for God. He can go his own way free of the restrictions which God has placed on him. The promise of the serpent in the garden, “you will be like God”, looks as if it will prove true.

Babel

The next recorded account of the city occurs after the Flood. Nimrod, great grandson of Noah, builds not one but a string of nine cities. The best known of which is Babel. God commanded Noah to multiply and fill the earth. But in Babel men build a tower saying “lest we be scattered”. Even though Noah was from a righteous line the curse of Cain has come through his family. Instead of being scattered and dependant on God they remain together and re-establish the civilisation which gave them independence. So Babel, later called Babylon, becomes a symbol of both civilisation and rebellion.

In Revelation 18: 24 it is said of, Babylon the Great, that “in her was found the blood of prophets and saints and all who were slain on the earth”. If the blood of Abel is included in the number of all who were slain on the earth then the symbolism of Babylon covers the whole of human history. What God hates, and at the end of the age destroys, has existed from the beginning of time. The blood of Abel confirms that we are to understand Babylon in the context of what the first city stood for. The city represents the kingdom of the world in opposition to the kingdom of God.

Corrupted Religion

In ‘The Two Babylon’s’, Alexander Hislop showed that Nimrod’s Babel was the source of all false religion. That same false religion permeates the world religions and much of what is called Christianity. Roman Catholicism has absorbed the Babylonian mystery religion. Therefore Hislop identified the Roman Catholic church headed by the Pope as the fulfilment of ‘Babylon the Great, Mother of Harlots’.

But in the Bible ‘Babylon the Great’ is more than corrupt religion. The description in Revelation 18 focuses on her luxury and trade. It also notes that her music and crafts will be extinguished when she falls. The kings and merchants of the earth mourn for her for she has made them wealthy. She is the final expression of civilisation as it originated in Cain’s city of Enoch.

Revelation chapters 17 and 18 contain references back to Isaiah 13 and 47 and Jeremiah 50 and 51. Revelation takes this Old Testament imagery of Babylon as the personification of wickedness and rebellion and applies it to the culmination of man’s pride at the end of the age.

Western Civilisation

I believe that ‘Babylon the Great, Mother of Harlots’ and ‘That Great City’ is now fulfilled in the leading civilisation of the modern world. The West, what used to be referred to as Christendom, is the centre of technology, trade and the arts. Her religion both Catholic and Protestant is apostate, lacking true faith. With her hypocrisies, a list too long to cover here, she now represents all that God hates.

If this interpretation is correct we are warned that Western civilisation will soon collapse.

In one hour

The Bible declares that in ‘one hour’ her judgement will come. Her fall when it comes will be sudden. I believe that one hour may be taken both literally and also to represent a period of time. It is to be noted that it is in ‘one hour’ that the ten kings which will destroy her, rise to power. In this instance it is a short period of time in which civilisation is destroyed, to be replaced by nations which hate all the Western world stands for.

I also believe that the event which will start the dominos toppling will take just one hour. A warning of such an event happened in 2001 with the attack on the World Trade Centre in New York. It took just one hour from impact to the collapse of the South Tower.

An insight into what is to come has been given by ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Such is their hatred for former civilisations that, in the areas which they have taken over, they are destroying all traces of past history. One of my contentions regarding prophecy is that often the fulfilment is staring us in the face if only we will open our eyes.

Babylon is crumbling

Writing this article in early July I look back on the month of June 2015 believing that it will prove to have been a watershed in the eclipse of the West. Four significant events occurred during the month. There was failure to resolve the Greek debt crisis. There was failure by the EU to agree how to deal with the migrant crisis. There was a terrorist shooting in Tunisia. There was a racially motivated shooting in Charleston, South Carolina. All four are warnings of what lies ahead.

In the failure to resolve the Greek debt crisis we see the beginnings of the unravelling of the Western world’s financial system. Most other countries are not far behind Greece in their levels of debt. It is fitting that Greece should be in the forefront of the collapse as it was through Greek culture that Babylon entered Europe. The very name Europa was taken from a Greek myth the origins of which can be traced back to Babylon. The woman Europa riding the beast has been adopted by Europe as its image. The self-identifying of Europe with the harlot riding a beast is another fulfilment for all to see if they will only look.

The migrant crisis has exposed the weakness of the European Union. A true union would have helped Greece and Italy resolve what to do about the flood of migrants. We now see that when a crisis arises it is every country for themselves. In coming turmoil the EU will disintegrate.

The killings in Tunisia point to the spread of terrorism. Demonic powers have been released which will stir up many to war. Terrorism will snowball, disrupting world trade and travel. These forces will speed the fall of Babylon which according to Revelation has thrived on trade.

Charleston warns of coming racial violence. Europe and the US will be flooded with migrants fleeing the violence of their homelands. As the economies collapse migrants will be blamed for all that is going wrong.

Several years ago, I wrote about how history was following a seven year cycle. This particularly related to my observation of events in Israel. We are now entering the next seven year period. In this period I believe that all these things will come to pass. By the end of that time ‘Babylon the Great’ will have fallen. She will be desolate, stripped naked and burned. The world will then be dominated by ten nations which will give their kingdom to the Beast. The next seven years will prepare the way for the appearing of the Man of Sin. He will be seen as a saviour for a world in crisis.

The Christian Response

Rejoice!!!!!! We will rejoice because the kingdom of the world has been judged for all her sins. We will rejoice because our Saviour is about to come to begin His reign on earth. We will rejoice because we know that the marriage of the Lamb is at hand. [Revelation 19].

How should we prepare for the times which lie ahead?

God calls us to come out of Babylon [Rev 18:4]. We are called to come out of her, to live by different standards. If we allow ourselves to become caught up in the materialism of the age and craving after wealth, we are in danger of falling under the judgment coming on this world. Our security must be in God not in the riches of this world. We are to come out by living according to the standards of God’s Kingdom. Our values will be to do what pleases Him. We will have no part in the selfish striving to please only ourselves that characterizes the present age. You cannot serve God and mammon.

We are to believe that it is the intention of God, that in this time of chaos, His church will shine. We will be strong because of our trust in Him. Many will be drawn into His kingdom by the light of our witness. Therefore we need to examine our hearts. Do we really trust Him or do we trust in salaries, pensions and savings. The very things the world trusts in but which may soon be taken away?

Do we walk in faith that the God of the Bible is still able to provide? To some God will give the faith that the bin of flour will not be used up and the jar of oil will not run dry [1 Kings 17: 14]. Others will understand that through offering to share meagre resources God is able to miraculously provide for all [Matthew 15: 36]. Some may be led to lay up stores in readiness [Genesis 41: 35, 36] but only as the Lord clearly leads. If not done in response to His leading, we will place our trust in our own efforts and not faith in Him. When the world seizes what we have laid up, our faith will fail.

By demonstrating our faith in God we will lead many to righteousness. “Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever”. Dan 12: 3

A Sign

Back in 2008 I wrote that, “When the USA rejects Israel she will cease to be a significant military and economic power in this world”. Last year I added that I expected this to happen in the autumn of 2015. It will follow a significant rejection of Israel. When this comes about we will know that the rest will soon follow.

The reign of Christ on Earth

“Looking for the blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ;” Titus 2:13

The return of Jesus Christ is the blessed hope of the Christian. There are many promises which will be fulfilled on that glorious day when Jesus gathers all who trust in him. One treasured promise is that after we are gathered up we will be with Him forever [1 Thess 4:17]. Jesus Christ is coming back to claim the throne of His father David. We believe that reign takes place on earth and will last for a thousand years. To fulfil the Old Testament prophecies He will reign from Jerusalem with His rule extending over all the earth.

If we are to be with Him, then we will also be on earth during that time. In Revelation the four living creatures and the twenty four elders bring before the Lamb the prayers of the saints. These prayers contain a new song:

“You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals;
For you were slain and have redeemed us to God by your blood
Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation
And made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth” Revelation 5: 9, 10

The destiny of the believer is not just to be with Christ but also to reign with Him. Earlier in Revelation there is a promise to those who overcome that they will be given authority over the nations [Rev 2: 26]. The promise is repeated in Revelation 20: 6 “Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ and shall reign with Him a thousand years”. In verse 4 there is a special mention of the martyrs who will be given particular responsibilities during the thousand years. Verse 6 confirms that ruling over the earth is not limited to the martyrs. All who share in the first resurrection will also have a part to play in the kingdom of Christ on earth.

In writing to the Corinthian church Paul is astonished that members are using secular courts to resolve disputes. They are allowing the unrighteous, who are not part of the kingdom of God, to judge between them! How can the unbeliever, in rebellion against God, possibly judge the believer who has God’s law written on his heart! Paul clearly understands that the destiny of the believer is to reign with Christ. “Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?” 1 Cor 6: 2. He confirms this in writing to Timothy by quoting a well known saying: “If we endure we shall also reign with him”. 2 Timothy 2: 12. Those who faithfully follow Jesus Christ to the end will be raised to reign.

Raised to reign with Christ, and yet Paul was aware that Timothy was struggling with those in Ephesus who wasted time bickering about words. While at Corinth the church was plagued by many problems. They were so immature in the faith that Paul says he has to speak to them as carnal and babes. Were these really the people whom Jesus will use to guide the world in the ways of righteousness when He establishes His kingdom?

The Church in the twenty first century cannot claim to be any better. All the problems experienced by Corinth and many more are to be found in today’s churches. The same question, which we raised regarding Corinth, could be asked today. Will these be the people Jesus uses to reign in His kingdom?

In the parable of the talents [Matthew 25: 14 – 30, Luke 19: 12 – 27] Jesus explained who He will use to rule over His kingdom. In both records of this parable those who have proved faithful in whatever task they have been given while He is away will be rewarded with greater responsibility when He returns. Those who have been unfaithful will be discarded. They will be cast out of His kingdom into darkness.

Of the servant who is faithful while his master is away Jesus says, “Blessed is that servant whom his master finds so doing when he comes. Truly I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has.” Luke 12: 43, 44. Obedient service in the present life is preparation for greater service in the coming kingdom.

There are some who regard the work place as merely a spring board for evangelism. Therefore to them obedient service is limited to how effective we have been in speaking about the gospel. That is much too narrow an understanding. We will be judged on how faithfully we have discharged our calling. The skills learned during our life time in this age will either directly or indirectly be used by the Lord when we come to reign with Him.

Jesus is coming back to a shattered world which will need to be rebuilt. It will be the world of the 21st Century not some imaginary idyllic period from the past which in reality never existed. Many of those who will people the nations during the reign of Christ are living now. It is their world complete with its technology which Jesus Christ is coming to rule over. He will send out His servants to transform that world.

Jesus demonstrated when He lived on earth that He did not regard technological advance as evil. For most of His life He worked as a carpenter and builder. As such He used the tools of His trade, hammers, saws, chisels none of which existed in the Garden of Eden. In Genesis we learn that technological advance alongside the arts first came through the rebellious line of Cain [Genesis 4: 19 -24]. Despite their pedigree Jesus used the tools developed by man for good.

He will use our skills to turn that which has been used for evil to good. In His kingdom He will need demolition contractors to bulldoze the pagan temples which litter the earth. He will need military men to decommission and find new uses for the weapons of war. He will need librarians to remove from libraries all that is falsely called knowledge. He will need mothers to comfort hurting families and children. The list could go on and on to include teachers, farmers, lawyers, legislators, administrators, IT consultants, and many many more. In fact all the skills required by 21st Century society will be useful during the reign of Jesus Christ on earth.

Those who lived in earlier centuries will be needed too. Skills long lost will be brought back to usefulness. Parts of the world which are not so highly developed will require guidance from those who understand their society.

Pastors, Bible teachers and missionaries will be sent out into the world to instruct people about Jesus Christ. In that time “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” Habakkuk 2: 14.

Is this too radical a vision of the future? It may be controversial but it is founded in the belief that we are coming back to reign. We are not turning up to be spectators enthralled by all that Jesus is doing. We are called to be co-workers with Christ actively involved in the establishment and administration of His kingdom. Faithful service now is equipping us for our future destiny.

We are coming back to reign over the world we know. Not the world of some past era. That is why those who were beheaded for Christ during the reign of the beast are singled out for special mention above all the other martyrs down the centuries. They stood firm during the final years of the age and proved themselves incorruptible. They are the ones who understand this present world more than others. They can be trusted to be over all who serve Christ in His kingdom.

In a future article we will look at how the world will respond to the imposed rule of Jesus Christ. It will explain why those who head up the government of Jesus Christ will need to have proved themselves faithful even to the point of death.

In closing I will answer one common objection to what has been described above. How can there be two types of people living on earth at the same time? There will be those in their mortal bodies and those in resurrection bodies living side by side. I answer that objection by pointing out that it has happened before. For a brief period of time Jesus in His resurrection body met with, talked with, ate with, his disciples who were still mortal. Admittedly they were perplexed at times and weren’t quite sure who He was but it happened.

So we eagerly look forward to the day when Jesus Christ returns. “When Christ who is our life appears then you also will appear with Him in glory”. Colossians 3: 4

The Iran Nuclear Agreement

Have you heard it all before? Fill in the blanks.
“Today, after 16 months of intense and difficult negotiations with _________ we have completed an agreement that will make the United States, _________, and the world safer.”
“This agreement represents the first step on the road to a nuclear-free ___________ . It does not rely on trust. Compliance will be certified by the International Atomic Energy Agency.”
“It’s [this agreement] a crucial step toward drawing __________ into the global community …. The United States and __________ have also agreed to ease trade restrictions and to move toward establishing liaison offices in each other’s capitals. The offices will ease ________ isolation.”
“And the United States has an unshakeable commitment to protect our ally and our fellow democracy South Korea.”
President Clinton’s Remarks on the Nuclear Agreement with North Korea (October 18, 1994)

The IAEA was refused access to inspect the North Korean nuclear plants and in consequence never able to verify if North Korea was keeping to the agreement. By 2003 North Korea openly admitted that it had developed a nuclear weapon.

The Inspection regime in the agreement Iran

The key to ensuring that Iran does not develop an atomic bomb is rigorous inspection.

In presenting this deal President Obama stated that IAEA inspectors “will have access when necessary, where necessary”. His administration soon spun this as Iran accepting anywhere any time 24/7 unannounced inspection. Iran has always denied that it would accept inspection on that basis and added that there were some locations that inspectors would never be allowed to go.
Under the agreement the IAEA will have up to 150 inspectors based in Iran. These inspectors must come from countries with diplomatic relations with Iran, ie: not the US. Inspectors will have regular access to the plants at Fordow and Natanz. If the inspectors believe that Iran is hiding things the IAEA will notify Iran of its concerns and request clarification. Iran must respond within 14 days. If the Iranian explanation is not satisfactory the suspicion will be submitted to an 8 member Joint Commission which includes Iran. The commission must vote within 7 days on action to resolve the crisis. Iran then has three days to implement the strategy.

This is hardly anytime anywhere. It gives Iran time to cover its abuse of the agreement. The inspection agreement covers the main plants. It is known that Iran has numerous undeclared nuclear facilities. In the case of North Korea, despite a similar agreement, the IAEA were unable to monitor its nuclear programme. Why should we imagine that this agreement will be more effective?

Best of Friends?

An agreement such as has been reached might conceivably work if a new era of friendship and good will were developing. But that is a pipe dream. In Iran the deal has been seen as a victory. In conceding almost nothing they have achieved a great deal. The country will benefit from trade restrictions being lifted and billions of dollars in funds unfrozen.

On the Friday after the Vienna deal, Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Movahedi Kermani, led prayers in Tehran. His podium was festooned with the words, “We will trample upon America” and “We defeat the United States”.

A day later, the Supreme Leader of Iran himself appeared on Iranian state television, praising the “magnificent Iranian people” for calling for the destruction of Israel and America. He added that he hoped that Allah would answer their prayers.

EU moots new international formula to boost Middle East peace

The EU said, Monday 15th July, it will explore setting up a new international format to breathe life back into the stalled peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini, fresh from her role in the Iran nuclear deal, said she was working on an idea for an “international support group.”

“We have invested a lot as the EU in trying to revive the moribund Middle East peace process”, Mogherini said after a meeting of the bloc’s 28 foreign ministers in Brussels. “The idea of an international support group is one that we will explore in coming weeks. We will come back to it once I have discussed it with regional actors,” she said.

Mogherini, a former Italian foreign minister, said the torturous but ultimately successful Iran talks showed that even the toughest problems could be resolved through diplomacy.

Her comments were echoed by the EU foreign ministers who said in a statement that “securing a just and lasting peace will require an increased common international effort.” “The establishment of an International support group is a possible way to contribute to this end,” it said.

Mogherini will report back to them by September, they added.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said earlier on that Monday the peace process was “effectively dead” and Europe had to help the two sides find a way out of the impasse. Last month, Fabius suggested that a new group — “a sort of Quartet-plus” — should be considered. He said including Arab states would make sense, based on the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative which calls for an Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian territories in exchange for full normalisation of ties between Israel and the Arab world.

Mogherini has repeatedly urged Israel and the Palestinians to resume peace negotiations based on the two-state solution, saying the situation on the ground cannot continue and it is a delusion to believe otherwise.
Source: Agence France-Presse Jul 20, 2015

The French Peace Plan to be brought before the UN this autumn seems to have fallen by the wayside. Mogherini who appeared to revel in the limelight of her role in the negotiations with Iran has come up with her own plan. If she regards the agreement with Iran as a success what hope is there for Israel? There can be no peace while one side is set on war unless the other side is stronger. Both in the Arab world and Iran the West now appears weak.

The Coptic Christian Martyrs

In February the Islamic State released video footage of the beheading of 21 men beside the sea in Libya. They were described as people of the cross, followers of the hostile Egyptian church. First they were paraded through the streets in cages. Then taken to the sea shore. The men were forced to kneel before their captors. They were asked to deny their faith. That is what was seen on the world’s media, but there is more to the story.

One of the men Matthew Ayairga of Chad was not a Christian when he was led to execution. Witnessing the courage and faith of the Egyptian Christians he chose to follow Jesus. Moments before he was executed he was asked, “Do you reject Christ?” He relied “Their God is my God”.

There is still more. Within 36 hours of the executions the Bible Society of Egypt had prepared a tract titled “Two Rows by the Sea”. It carried a message of hope, comfort and forgiveness for both Christians and Muslims alike. Within a week 1.65 million copies of the tract had been distributed. The tracts together with the declarations of faith uttered moments before their death have opened up many conversations between Christians and Muslims.

Beshir Kamel who lost two brothers said in an interview with SAT-7Arabic, ISIS gave us more than we asked for when they didn’t edit out the part where they declared their faith and called upon Jesus Christ. ISIS has helped to strengthen our faith. He added that martyrdom serves as a “badge of honour to Christianity”. When asked what his reaction would be if he saw an Islamic State militant, Kamel recalled his mother’s response. “My mother, an uneducated woman in her sixties, said she would ask [him] to enter her house and ask God to open his eyes because he was the reason her son entered the kingdom of heaven”.

In the coming days of great anguish such resolute faith will reap a great harvest. Where is our hope really focused?