Newsletter 127 Spring 2018

In this edition

A fear or free society

Turkey to lead an Islamic army against Israel

The threat from Iran

Revelation Study 2 – Christ and His church

Extending State Control

Diverse Gender

An unlikely hero

Evelyn Wren

General Data Protection Regulations

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“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1: 7

Two weapons that Satan uses against the Christian are first deception and then fear. It was through deception that Satan first caused mankind to sin. He used a slight twisting of the truth to gain Eve’s attention. This was followed by a denial that God really meant what He had said. Finally the fruit of disobedience was made to look so attractive.

The twisting of the truth is rampant in the church. The epidemic is so widespread that for many it is difficult to find a sound fellowship. It is more important than ever that Christians have their faith firmly anchored in the teaching of the Bible. Jesus warned that a primary characteristic of the end of the age would be the attempt to deceive if possible even the elect. The deception of the elect is possible if they fail to obey Jesus’ command to watch.

A Free or Fear society

The Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky wrote in his book, “The Case for Democracy,” it is precisely “The Town Square Test” that determines whether or not a society can be considered free: “If a person cannot walk into the middle of the town square and express his or her views without fear of arrest, imprisonment, or physical harm, then that person is living in a fear society, not a free society.”

Sharansky was writing about legitimate points of view which may be contrary to main stream opinion. For the Christian these might be on views on marriage, gender identity and creation. Holding these views may make others feel uncomfortable but in no way do we wish them harm.

Ours is increasingly becoming a fear society. Holding any view other than those of liberal secular orthodoxy is now considered extreme and to be punished. It is Satan’s aim to cause those which he has not deceived to shrink in fear. But as Paul wrote to Timothy a spirit of fear does not come from God. When we abide in Christ, He gives us three things, power, love and a sound mind. Power brings the inner strength to stand firm when Satan tries to intimidate us. Love enables us to see those who persecute us as lost and in need of a Saviour. A sound mind recognises deception and warns against it.

Turkey to lead an Islamic army against Israel

In December 2017 a Turkish daily newspaper published an article calling for the formation of an army of Islam. It was a call for the Islamic nations of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation [OIC], then meeting in Istanbul, to unite against Israel. MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute) translated the article which had the title “A Call for Urgent Action”. The newspaper in which the article first appeared is known to be close to President Erdogan. Much of the content was drawn from a website expressing the views of Erdogan’s senior military advisor.

The article states that if the OIC member states unite, it will be the largest army in the world. These countries’ have a total population of 1.6 billion. The number of soldiers in active service in these countries is at least 5 million. Their overall military defence budget, is $174 billion.

In contrast, Israel has a population of 8 million. The number of soldiers in active service in the Israeli occupation forces is 160,000. Israel’s defence budget is approximately $15, billion.

[Source: https://www.jns.org/turkish-newspaper-close-to-president-erdogan-calls-to-form-joint-islamic-army-to-fight-israel/]

Turkish Revival

In commenting on this article Joel Richardson gave two quotes from his book the ‘Islamic Antichrist’ written back in 2003/4. “While there is always the temptation to read one’s enemies into scripture, instead, we should simply take the Bible for what it says. While presently, there is not any pressing reason to see Turkey as the head of an imminent world empire, this is nevertheless, what Ezekiel prophesied.” [Page 94 ‘Islamic Antichrist’ 2004].

“The Turkish Empire was the seat of the Islamic Caliphate. It was not until 1923 that the Islamic Caliphate was officially abolished. Today the Islamic world awaits restoration of the Caliphate. The Bible teaches that someday soon, the Turkish Empire will be revived.” [Page 98 ‘Islamic Antichrist’ 2004].

15 years ago when Joel wrote these words we still looked on Turkey as a secular nation orientated toward the west. Today, Turkey has aspirations to resume its leadership of the Islamic world.

Ezekiel 38: 1 – 7 lists the nations which will come together to make war against Israel at the end of this age. These are Magog, Meshech, Tubal, Persia, Cush, Put, Gomer, Beth Togarmah from the far North. We identify the nations as follow:

Magog; the historian Josephus records that the Greeks referred to the descendants of Magog as Scythians. The Scythians were the Turkic peoples who inhabited territory stretching from Asia Minor through to the lands of central Asia.

Meshech and Tubal are the ancient names of the Moschi and Tubalu peoples who in Ezekiel’s day dwelt to the South of the Caspian and Black seas.

Persia is todays Iran.

Cush in some translations is identified as Ethiopia. Cush of Ezekiel’s day was located further north in present day Sudan. Some commentators extend Cush to cover all the black races of Africa.

Put was the territory to the West of Egypt. Today it is Libya. Some would say that it includes all of North Africa as far as the Atlantic.

Gomer was known as Gimarrai in the ancient world. It was also known as Cappadocia which is an area of central Asia Minor, today’s Turkey.

Beth Togarmah from the far North is placed by some in South East Turkey. Others locate it in the Caucus Mountains further to the North. The Armenians refer to themselves as the House of Togarmah.

Rosh is Hebrew for chief or head. Therefore Gog is the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. Gog as leader of this coalition has a strong connection with modern Turkey. All the nations identified in Ezekiel are strongly Islamic.

Is the call for an army of Islam the beginning of the fulfilment of the prophesied coalition of nations which will seek to destroy Israel?

The threat from Iran

On 12th February MEMRI reported on another article in the Middle East press.

“A 9th February 2018 article on the pro-Hizbullah Lebanese website Dahiya claims that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad recently rejected an Israeli demand, relayed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, to remove some 70,000 Iranian long-range missiles that Hizbullah has deployed throughout Syria and are aimed at Israel.

The article claimed further that Syria and Hizbullah will wage a “joint missile campaign” against Israel, and that Iranian experts are ready to launch missiles at Israel from every part of Lebanon and Syria.

According to the article, Assad has instructed his army to help Hizbullah construct and camouflage missile silos across the country. Moreover, intense activity is underway to bring more Iranian missiles to Syria via Iraq, so that within a year Hizbullah will have 500,000 missiles in Syria, in addition to the ones it has already deployed in Lebanon”.

Quoting from the article; “The enemy is now surrounded along 450 kilometers of its border by Hizbullah missiles and Iranian experts [who are ready] to fire these missiles into occupied Palestine from every part of Lebanon and especially from every part of Syria. Hizbullah wishes to expand its missile arsenal in Syria, so that, if the war lasts a long time, it will have large reserves of Iranian long-range missiles”.

“That is why intense activity is underway along the Iran-Iraq-Syria route to transport the Iranian missiles [to Syria]. Iran has over two million long-range missiles, and it is acting to provide Hizbullah with an arsenal of long-range missiles to be deployed throughout Syria. The missiles have a range of 1,100 km and can reach occupied Palestine from every point in Syria”.

“If the Israeli enemy remains idle and does not wage war for a year, Hizbullah will deploy half a million missiles on Syrian soil, in addition to [its missiles in] Lebanon, but especially throughout Syria, so that Israel’s planes will find it difficult to target Hizbullah’s bases there.”

“Syrian President Dr. Bashar Al-Assad has permitted the Arab Syrian army to extend every necessary assistance to Hizbullah, which is secretly digging underground missile silos in which to install missiles and automatic missile launchers. The silos will be equipped with large doors that rise to a height of three meters to allow the launching of a missile, and then immediately close and lie flush with the ground, so that the Israeli planes cannot discover [the silos].”

In another development Russia is considering deploying the S-300 anti-aircraft missile system in Syrian. The S-300 can engage multiple aircraft and ballistic missiles up to 300 km (186 miles) away and is considered an extremely advanced system that would be a significant upgrade to Syria’s defensive capabilities. Israel had been so concerned about it that Jerusalem made a huge effort to convince Russia not to sell it to Syria a few years ago because it would make a successful air strike much more difficult to achieve.

Revelation Study 2 – Christ and His church

The book of Revelation is not just a revelation given by the Father to His beloved Son, or even a book which reveals things to come. The opening words state that it is ‘a revelation of Jesus Christ’. Each section brings a new revelation of the character of Christ.

This is the second of twelve articles, each of which studies an aspect of the character of Christ as revealed in Revelation. In this article we look at the relationship of Jesus to His church? Has He left us with some written instructions, the promise of the Holy Spirit and told us to get on with it or is the relationship something more intimate? Due to overfamiliarity we may lose sight of the significance of the letters to the seven churches.

The one who cares

In these letters Jesus reveals Himself to be intimately concerned with the affairs and wellbeing of each individual congregation. His care is similar to the Lord’s intimacy toward Israel revealed through the Old Testament prophets. This is the place in the New Testament where we read of Christ’s heart for His church.

The letters are addressed in the singular to the messenger (pastor) of the church. The same word, translated as messenger or angel, is used in reference to John the Baptist (Matt 11: 10). The Pastor is responsible for the affairs and health of his flock. His work, good deeds and failures, will be reflected in the flock.

That is a daunting responsibility! But Jesus has given the assurance that He is holding the seven stars [the pastors] in the palm of his hand. ‘I know’ is repeated seven times, emphasizing the perfect knowledge Jesus has of His church. All the letters end with the words ‘He who has an ear’, all have ears but many will not listen.

Each church has a partial vision of Christ revealed to them according to their need. The full measure of Christ is revealed if the churches share their letters. Both the vision and reward for each church is different. They relate to their specific area of warfare

Revelation 2: 1 – 7 Ephesus

Ephesus is outwardly a prosperous, successful, active church. With the appearance of good order and faithfulness they lack one thing. The joy and enthusiasm of love for the Lord. This is no trivial matter, for love is central to the church.

Without it we become no more than ‘a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal’ (1 Corinthians 13: 1).  In fact without love a church is of no use to our Lord. The lampstand represents the presence of the Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit is no longer present the church becomes an empty shell. There are many reasons why we can lose our first love. Even the constant defence against false teachers can wear us down.

The answer given by Jesus is repent. We are to stand up for the purity of the church but the motivation must always be; first, love for our Lord, second, love for His church and third, compassion for the one who has gone astray.

The promised reward for those who overcome is to eat from the tree of life. It is a promise to live forever in perfect fellowship with God as was experienced in the Garden of Eden.

Revelation 2: 8 – 11 Smyrna

Smyrna is a persecuted church that has suffered from human and demonic attack. Both the cult of emperor worship and hostility from the Jews were very strong here. Jesus is the First and Last, who was dead and came alive. It reminds the church of Christ’s sovereignty and His victory over death.

That the Jews are constantly bringing false accusations against the church is recognized in the term synagogue of Satan. Satan is the Hebrew word for accuser.

Jesus knows that in the ongoing persecution some will give their lives. A repeated call in Revelation is to stand firm in the face of persecution. Through persecution Smyrna has been purified. Jesus finds nothing to reprove in them. If they are faithful to death they receive a crown of life. The life that the world takes from us, the Lord will give back in abundance.

The second death is condemnation to eternal punishment. [Revelation 20:13 – 15]. Those who overcome and remain victorious have nothing to fear.

Revelation 2: 12 – 17 Pergamum

Pergamum was known for its three temples dedicated to the worship of the Roman Emperor and a vast Altar of Zeus. Tradition informs us that Antipas refused to declare Caesar, Lord and God. He was sacrificed on the Altar of Zeus in 92 AD, which incidentally confirms the date of Revelation.

Despite what happened to Antipas many in the church stood firm. But some in the church advocate compromise. Balaam is given as an example of a person corrupted by the love of money. People who teach compromise are to repent or suffer Jesus coming against them. In the vision Christ has a two edged sword. He will use it to separate truth from falsehood.

Balaam advised Balak that to defeat the Israelites he should entice them to worship Moab’s god, (Numbers 31: 8, 16). One of Israel’s sins was to eat unclean food offered to idols. In contrast, Jesus promises those who stand firm, pure food from God. A new name is a sign of God’s blessing.

Revelation 2: 18 – 29 Thyatira

Thyatira is the opposite of Ephesus. They are commended for their works of love but condemned for their tolerance. The balance between standing firm on doctrine and acting in love is difficult.

In the vision, Christ has eyes of fire and feet of brass. The eyes of fire search minds and hearts, nothing can be hidden. He sees the corruption which has become rooted in the church. The feet of brass will trample on Christ’s enemies. Jezebel’s sin is the same as Balaam’s. It is a deadly combination of sexual immorality and idolatry. Those who have been led astray by her will be severely judged.

Some have challenged her immorality. She has been warned and is given time to repent. Those who have not been led astray are called on to hold fast. They will be rewarded by reigning with Christ. Jesus is the true morning star, herald of the day.  (2 Peter 1:19, Revelation 22:16).

Revelation 3: 1 – 6 Sardis

Sardis is about to die. Outwardly she is an active church with plenty going on. But her works are not undertaken in obedience to Christ, therefore they are empty.

The call to watch and Jesus coming as a thief, are reminders of coming judgment. The solution to their problems is to repent. They are to remember how they started out. Sardis reminds us of how easy it is to lose focus. Perhaps they were looking for numbers rather than real conversions.

In Christ our sins are washed away. We are clean. If we fall back into the ways of the world our garments become soiled. Some at Sardis have not soiled their garments which implies that most have. Those whose garments are not soiled will not have their names blotted out from the Book of Life. Again this implies that those with soiled garments will have their names blotted out. They lose their salvation. Jesus will confess the names of the faithful before His Father but those whose names are blotted out will be disowned.

Revelation 3: 7 – 13 Philadelphia

Philadelphia is not a strong church but that did not deter it from faithful service. For them there is neither rebuke nor warning. Christ is called Holy and true and seen holding the key of David. David was a man who loved God with all his heart. The key to holding fast against the opposition is for them to maintain that passionate love for God which David had.

As in Smyrna the opposition of the Jews is referred to as the synagogue of Satan. Despite not being a strong church they have persevered. God is mindful of their suffering and promises to keep them from further trials.

The Jews try to drag them back under the law and in so doing close the door of salvation. They are not to let these false teachers rob them of their crown. The ‘name of my God’ states that from now on they will belong to God. They will also belong to the city of God, the New Jerusalem, and bear Jesus’ new name of righteousness.

Revelation 3: 14 – 22 Laodicea

We come to a church which is smug, self-satisfied, wealthy, worldly wise, lacking enthusiasm for Christ. Yet Jesus still loves them and longs to have fellowship with them. Laodicea was proud of its financial wealth, extensive textile industry and famous eye salve.

Comfortable with the world it has ceased to be salt and light. In Leviticus the Lord twice warned Israel that if they became like the other  nations, which He was casting out, the land would likewise vomit them out. Jesus is repeating the same warning to His church. The prosperity, in which they take pride, emphasises their spiritual poverty.

Christ is called the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of Creation. In this vision Jesus is calling them to look to the eternal kingdom not the passing wealth of this world. Real treasure comes from Jesus. We gain it through obedience to His word.

Jesus does not call members out of the revolting smug Laodicean church. Instead He promises that if they stick it out He will come to them. Their reward will be to share Christ’s throne.

The letters reveal the personal relationship Jesus has with His church and His intimate knowledge of their circumstances. We see His heart for the Church. He both encourages and rebukes. All through, the hardships or enticements of the world, are presented as nothing to be compared to the blessings awaiting those who overcome.

Extending State Control

In 2015-16 the government launched a consultation on the compulsory regulation and Ofsted inspection of all out-of-school education settings, including Christian Sunday schools. The results of the 2015-16 consultation were published on 10 April 2018.

The consultation drew an overwhelmingly negative response. Many feared that this would become an intrusion to the freedom of religion. The responses also revealed a distrust of Ofsted’s ability to impartially monitor religious settings. Ofsted has adopted social liberal policies which include within the definition of extremism, conservative religious views held by Muslims, Christians, Jews and those of other faiths.

In response to the negative comments it has been announced that the proposal for a new law to provide for compulsory government registration and Ofsted inspection of all out-of-school education settings, which would include Christian Sunday schools, has now been dropped.

However, at the same time as this announcement was made, a separate package of measures was also announced relating to “home education”. These are also referred to in the “Next Steps” section at the end of the published summary of the consultation responses. The measures apparently aim to create the same effect as the proposed new legislation i.e. the registration and inspection of out-of-school settings. This will be achieved by examining “how existing legal powers” can be used to regulate out-of-school education. The following actions are proposed:

Run pilot projects in specific geographical areas to “boost existing capacity to identify and tackle concerns in out-of-school settings where they arise, by supporting and working with a number of local authorities to demonstrate the benefits of multi-agency working, and share best practice on different ways of working together to intervene in settings of concern. Our intention is to make up to £3 million of funding available to selected areas for this work, so that we may support a number of local authorities to test innovative models of multi-agency working.”

Establish a voluntary code of conduct for all out-of-school education settings, including Sunday schools. The code will cover not only areas such as child protection, but also specifically include issues relating to governance and teaching: “Alongside this, we will consult on a voluntary code of practice, later this year, to set out clear standards for providers, explaining what they need to do in order to run a safe setting. This code of practice would cover what providers should be doing to meet their existing legal obligations that would be applicable generally, as well as setting out best practice on issues such as child welfare, health and safety, governance, suitability of staff, teaching and financial management.”

Highlight any out-of-school education settings which have not signed up to or follow the voluntary code of conduct. “We will also work with local authorities to provide more guidance for parents to support them in making informed choices when considering out-of-school settings for their children.” It should be noted that any voluntary list could only be meaningful if it required voluntary acceptance of some form of inspection, to ensure that the voluntary code of practice was actually being adhered to.

Find additional evidence to justify a new law by collecting more evidence on out-of-school education settings such as Sunday schools  “to identify any gaps in existing powers, which we would seek to address through future legislation, when opportunity allows”.

No longer just about extremism

What is also clear from the published analysis of consultation responses is that the stated justification for compulsory registration and Ofsted inspection of out-of-school settings, such as Sunday schools, has subtly, but significantly moved. When David Cameron made his October 2015 speech, the sole justification for the proposal was tackling non-violent extremism. However, the “Next Steps” section of the summary of consultation responses states:

“We have always been clear, however, that our aim is to protect children from all types of harm, and not just from the harm caused by extremism.”

In other words it is no longer simply about tackling extremism, it is about extending the power of the state – or more specifically Ofsted – to regulate all areas of civil society that have anything to do with children or education.  Given the existence of safeguarding policies, what other kind of “harm” does Ofsted think is going to come to children in Sunday schools, for example?

Source: https://www.barnabasfund.org/en/news/our-religious-freedom-sunday-schools-could-still-be-hit-by-new-inspection-plans-for-out-of

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Answers in Prophecy

The meetings are held at The Barn Church, Francis Edwards Way, Bewbush, Crawley, West Sussex RH11 8GG

Sessions start with a time of worship at 6.50 pm and run until 8.45 pm on the second Saturday evening of the month. There will be a break for tea and coffee in the middle of the evening.

We will be looking at topical issues and also the destiny of various nations in prophecy.

12th May Jordan – the surrounding nations
9th June Israel – And so all Israel will be saved
14th July – The last things
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Diverse Gender

In March the Church of Scotland sent a booklet with the title ‘Diverse Gender Identities and Pastoral Care’ to every church. Based on the Church of Scotland belief that ‘All are welcome’ it looked at the welcome received by those who see themselves as transgender. The booklet contains a series of personal stories by transgender people. The message of the booklet is that transgender people should be accepted just as they are.

Is that pleasing to God who created man distinctly male and female? Transgender people need help to accept their God given identity. Refusing what God has created is rebellion leading to judgment.

An unlikely hero

I have never connected any Japanese people with those who have been recognised as ‘Righteous among the nations’. Righteous among the nations is an honorific used by the State of Israel to describe non-Jews who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews from extermination by the Nazis. Recently I read the story of Chiune Sugihara. This unknown Japanese man is accredited with the second largest rescue of Jews in the Nazi era.

Sugihara studied English at university where he became a Christian. Later he joined the Japanese Foreign Ministry and was, in 1939, posted to Lithuania. As war engulfed Europe thousands of Polish Jews fled to Lithuania. In June 1940 the Soviets annexed Lithuania and closed all foreign embassies.

Polish Jews in Lithuania were still able to escape by travelling through Russia provided they had the appropriate travel documents. One morning in July, Sugihara was confronted by thousands of Jews outside the Japanese Consulate desperate to obtain visas for onward travel. When Sugihara wired Tokyo for permission to grant visas to Polish Jews the reply was firmly ‘no’. Japan was allied to Germany at that time.

Sugihara knew that if he defied his government, he faced the loss of his job, disgrace, and financial ruin–maybe even death. What would happen to his family? Sugihara told his wife, ‘I may have to disobey my government, but if I do not, I will be disobeying God.”

Sugihara obtained permission from the Soviets to keep the embassy open for another 20 days. He and his wife frantically wrote and signed visas by hand, 300 a day. As the deadline for leaving approached, they sacrificed food and sleep so that others might live.

When they were finally forced to close the consulate and leave Lithuania, Sugihara continued signing visas from the train, throwing them out the window even as the train left the station.

Sugihara paid a high price for his heroism. He was drummed out of the diplomatic service, and his family lived in squalor for years as Sugihara worked at odd jobs, unsure for most of his life if any of his efforts on behalf of the Jews even made a difference.

And today, there are some 40,000 descendants of those that Sugihara saved. In 1985, Israel gave both him and his wife its highest honour, “Righteous Among the Nations.”

Source: http://www.breakpoint.org/2018/04/breakpoint-sugiharas-holocaust-survivors/

Evelyn Wren

Many readers of Trumpet Sounds will remember my mother who faithfully ministered with my father over many years. On the 17th February this year she went to be with the Lord. It was the day after her 100th birthday. That was a blessing from the Lord, as my brothers David (from Minnesota, USA), Michael and I had gathered for her birthday. It was clear that she would not be with us much longer. My wife and I were able to pray with her and say good bye for now.

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