Newsletter 128 summer 2018

In this edition

The coming time of testing

Whatever happened to the Church?

Ban on Gay Conversion Therapy

North Korea

Answers In Prophecy

Revelation Study 3 – Christ in Eternity

A brave Police Officer

China the Surveillance State

Palestinian refugees

The coming time of testing

“Therefore rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.” Revelation 12: 12

Time is running out for Satan. When cast down to the earth he knows that there is only a short time left. Revelation chapter 13 describes Satan’s last desperate attempt to establish his rule over all of this world. Defeated in heaven and knowing that Jesus is soon to return he must work fast.

The foremost of creation

Satan was the foremost of all creation. In Ezekiel he is praised for his beauty, wisdom and music. But his perfection was ruined by pride. He claimed to be equal to God and so God cast him out. Rejected by God, he deliberately destroyed the innocent fellowship that Adam and Eve enjoyed with their Creator.

In heaven Satan brings before God accusation after accusation against sinful man. Satan had been punished for his sin. If God is just, man must be punished likewise. But God has provided an answer in Jesus to all Satan’s complaints. When Satan finally loses his place in heaven he is determined to remain god of this world.

The godly remnant

Through the ages Satan’s claim to rule this world has met with opposition. There has always been a remnant who have resisted his rule. Instead of following him they chose to remain faithful to their Creator. The godly line of Seth led to Enoch who warned a fallen world of its need to repent. In that same godly line came Noah, who was just and walked with God.

Another godly line was established in Noah’s son Shem. From Shem’s line came Abram who was a friend of God. Then came the nation of Israel which God set apart to represent His kingdom on earth. Soon Satan had corrupted the nation so that it became like all the other nations. But still God preserved a godly remnant. When Elijah thought that he was the only one left, God said that there were seven thousand who had not bowed the knee to Baal.

Even in the punishment of the exile in Babylon a faithful remnant remained. Daniel steadfastly kept faith in God, while Ezekiel became God’s spokesman to the slaves in the labour camps.

A Saviour

When God sought to bring His Son into the world He found, in the godly remnant, a lovely humble young woman and her stalwart betrothed. The godly remnant is also seen in Simeon who rejoiced to hold the baby Saviour in his arms and Anna who praised God for fulfilling His promise.

The baby was what Satan feared the most. A person who by His sacrificial love would win the hearts of many. A perfect man who could rightfully claim back dominion over creation. From the start, Satan sought to destroy his great enemy. He stirred Herod to kill all the baby boys in Bethlehem. In time he would learn that he had failed. Satan knew that this man Jesus was God’s only Son. Like the vinedressers in the parable, he thought that if he could kill the Son, the inheritance would be his. His triumph was turned into defeat when the Father raised His Son from the dead.

Setting the captives free

That defeat was followed by another. Using a group of very ordinary people, the Lord sent them out to teach the nations how to serve Him. Soon the good news of reconciliation to God was spreading throughout the world. At first Satan tried to snuff out the light by persecution. He used lies to turn men against those who brought the good news. He used fear to intimidate the new followers of Christ. But both tactics failed. The followers of Christ continued to add to their numbers.

So Satan corrupted the church. He introduced false teaching which led to another gospel. Darkness would envelope the world for many centuries. But even in these times, when the church prevented people hearing the gospel, God had His faithful remnant.

Then came another awakening. The truth of scripture was rediscovered. The shackles of the Roman Church were thrown off. In that awakening one nation was foremost in the new thrust to take the gospel into all the world. Great Britain led the move for world evangelism. The gospel was taken to many nations which had never heard that Christ died for their sins. Satan’s kingdom was assaulted as never before and many he held captive were set free.

A fight to the death

Satan’s time is now running out. To re-establish his rule over this world, he must work fast to destroy all trust in the true and living God. If he fails he is defeated. He hates Israel for being a people chosen by God. Not able to destroy her he turns his attention to her “other offspring”. He is enraged and declares war against all “who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ”. Revelation 12: 17. God grants Satan permission to make war on the saints. Many will be taken into captivity and others will be killed. All who do not worship his false christ, will become outcasts of society.

That final time has not yet come. But Satan is already actively retaking his kingdom. In these closing years the battle is intensifying. Jesus will be victorious but that must not lead to complacency. Before that time comes there is a battle to be fought.

The eradication of faith

This long introduction brings me to the word I believe that the Lord has for us. Satan is not just against the faithful to Christ, he is intent on total eradication. There is one nation more than any other in which he intends to ethnically cleanse of all Christians. Great Britain has caused him great problems in the past, it must not be allowed to do so again. He is intent on silencing all Christian witness in Britain.

The onslaught against the Christian faith in the United Kingdom has been building for decades. As Christians we thought that we could live comfortably in the world. We thought that the gradual changes in society would not hinder us. Acceptance lulled us to sleep. We have awakened to a world in which all things are tolerated except faith in Jesus Christ. There are many countries in which once strong Christian churches have been obliterated. Could it happen here in Britain?

There will of course still be a church. Satan loves religion. It has been his preferred means of blinding eyes to the truth for millennia. A church which conforms to the values of the world will be praised. But it must never mention sin, repentance or judgment and especially no mention of Jesus Christ as Saviour.

Satan has assembled an arsenal of weapons against the faithful. Everywhere we look there are new threats to be seen. The pace of the onslaught is accelerating. It hasn’t boiled over yet but there is real hatred of Christians brewing under the surface. At present Satan is targeting individuals. Soon more widespread attacks will be launched. Through the education system and media children are particularly under attack. Over the years Trumpet Sounds has identified many of the weapons being developed to use against the true believers in Christ. The full scale war is about to break out.

Am I being melodramatic? Surely it can’t be as bad as I predict? Let me share an experience in which what I saw and heard was contrary to the general wisdom at the time.

The false prophets

While praying and meditating over this word, the Lord brought to mind an experience I had many years ago. I was in a prayer meeting in East London. Towards the end of the meeting I received a picture in my mind. It was of a crescent moon and star over the London skyline. With it came the words ‘London is lost’. Those with whom I shared this, dismissed it as me being over melodramatic. That was in 1986. At the time, and for some years after, prophets were proclaiming a vast revival coming to London, spreading out into the country and then into the world. Time has proved their prophecies false,

That revival never came. Instead the intervening years have seen the rise of Islam. Today, the idea does not seem as farfetched today as it did 30 years ago. There are Muslims who say that London is more Islamic than many cities in the Muslim World. I believe that through the picture the Lord was warning me that the future would be very different to what the false prophets were predicting.

The ‘Prophecy Today’ website recently serialised the book ‘Blessing the Church’. It was a reminder that false prophecies of revival are not just misleading but are very dangerous. In the hunger for revival many have chased after false spiritual experiences.

I asked the Lord if it was right to include this experience in this edition of Trumpet Sounds. I then happened to walk into our front room. When I looked out the window just above the horizon was a crescent moon and star in exactly the position I saw them in that picture many years ago.

A counsel of despair?

If you have read this far, I have probably filled you with gloom and doom. Go back to the verse quoted at the beginning of this article. It starts, “Therefore rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them!” Despair or rejoicing will depend on from where you are looking. Yes it is woe to the inhabitants of the earth. From here the situation looks desperate. To the Ephesians, Paul wrote that we are seated with Christ in heavenly places [Ephesians 2: 6]. Viewed from the throne of Christ and knowing His great love for us we can be sure that, “the sufferings of this present time are not to be compared with the glory which will be revealed in us.” Romans 8: 18. In heaven we see the glorious Son of God preparing His armies in readiness to ride out to conquer. If we have taken our seat in heaven then we will rejoice at the prospect that soon, “the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea.” Habakkuk 2: 14. Jesus said that, “when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads because your redemption draws near.” Luke 21: 28. In this be heavenly minded and then you will not fear.

What ever happened to the church?

At a time when Christians need to stand together and build strong bonds of fellowship the church is fragmenting. I am hearing of an increasing number of the faithful who are no longer part of a church. Roger Oakland’s book ‘The Good Shepherd Calls’ reviewed in TS 123, Spring 2017 addresses this issue. Leaders such as Clifford Hill have also recognised this growing problem.

Or is it a problem? In the light of what I have written above, it may be that the Lord is preparing His church. The primary purpose of Trumpet Sounds is to warn that we are nearing the end of this age and so help believers to prepare and to stand firm in the testing days ahead. The church in the UK and globally is on the brink of the most troubled time it has faced in 2000 years. The warning signs are all around us. Is the Lord warning that it is time to change our ways so that we can withstand the onslaught?

I would be very interested to hear from readers about their experiences. Are you out of a fellowship or concerned about the direction in which your church is heading? How did this come about? Are you on your own? What do you do for fellowship? What would help you in the situation you are in?

It would be good to know what others are experiencing so that we are better informed when praying about the way ahead.

Ban on Gay Conversion Therapy

The LGBT movement is one of the weapons which Satan has developed to silence the church. From comments people make it now appears to be accepted without question that being Gay is genetic. Equalities minister Penny Mordaunt, is quoted as saying on the BBC Today programme, “of course you can’t cure someone from being gay.”

There has been a long standing debate whether nature or nurture most influences our character. In the nineteenth century, hereditary was considered the determining factor. In the twentieth century the environment in which a person grew up was thought to have an overriding influence. Today scientists debate the extent to which either genes or environment determine our choices and behaviour.

It is recognised that the influence of genes is complex. There is no simple gene governing any aspect of our character. It has been found that environmental factors can modify gene function. Therefore both play a part in how we think and act.

There is one small part of a one gene which has been found to be more common in Gay men. The Weizmann Institute reported last year that, “Researchers identify 6,500 Genes that are expressed differently in Men and Women.” A minor variation in some men does not determine a life style.

If either genes or early environment determine later character it becomes a logical conclusion that there is no free will. If all our actions are governed by either our genetic makeup or upbringing, we cannot be held responsible. In the USA a murderer tried using a failing in his genetic makeup as a defence. Fortunately the judge had the sense to throw it out.

One day God will judge each of us on the basis that we have free will and therefore are morally accountable beings. He makes plain in the Bible that sexual relations between man and man or woman and woman are not acceptable. It is a matter of choice.

The government has proposed a number of measures to improve the lives of LGBT people. One measure is to outlaw Gay Conversion Therapy. What that covers is ill defined. Would praying with a person or counselling them about over coming unwanted sexual desires be seen as Gay Conversion Therapy? Because the answer will prove to be yes this will become an effective weapon in the hands of Satan to silence the church. Those who offer help will be targeted as criminals under the law.

It is to the shame of the hierarchy of the Church of England that they have led the way in proposing this ban. Matthew 7: 23 comes to mind.

A good article on current thinking on the impact of genes can be found at https://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/mar/19/do-your-genes-determine-your-entire-life

North Korea

If North Korea does decommission its nuclear weapons, that will be a triumph for President Trump. We will wait and see. Also of concern is North Korea’s record on human rights. The country has regularly topped the list of nations which persecute Christians. Will this issue be ignored in the rush to establish peaceful coexistence?

A first casualty of the new accord between North and South Korea, is the long standing practice of Christian ministries sending Bibles and Scriptural materials on USB drives across the border, by balloon launches into North Korea. This has been banned so as not to jeopardise peace talks.

The summit meeting with President Trump has given Kim Jong-un creditability on the world stage while not extracting any meaningful movement on the North’s deplorable human rights record. Neither Trump nor the nonbinding joint communique which followed the summit, even mentioned the issue.

Answers in Prophecy

This series of monthly prophecy meetings has been running for the last five and a half years. It was started with the support of Jim Cottington who shared the speaking until he was taken to be with the Lord in September 2016. The time has come when I believe it right to end the series, as my wife and I will be moving away from the area. Our last meeting was held on the 14th July. Most of the talks, which have covered a wide range of topics, are available on the trumpetsounds.net website.

Revelation Study 3 – Christ in Eternity

This is the third article in a series ‘Twelve Revelations of Jesus Christ from the book of Revelation.

The first article looked at chapter one, which reveals the glorified Christ. That article concluded with a reminder that this is the Jesus before whom one day each of us will have to stand and give an account of our lives (Romans 14: 12). Before those eyes of fire nothing is hidden (Hebrews 4: 12, 13). Like John on that day we will fall at His feet as if dead. There will be no arguments which we can put forward to justify our actions. No explaining away of what we have thought and done. On that day we will understand as never before that it is by grace that we have been saved through faith, not by works but by the gift of God. (Ephesians 2: 8-9).

The second article looked at the special relationship Jesus has with His church. He is not remote, leaving us to get on with it. He takes a personal interest in every congregation, rebuking when we fail and encouraging us to stand firm.

In chapter four we have a revelation of Christ in His eternal glory.

Revelation begins with the greeting, ‘Grace and peace to you from the one who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne’.  (Rev 1: 4). We are now transported into the presence of the one who sent that greeting. He is the Lord, the very centre of all creation.

‘An open door,’ is in contrast to the closed door to the Laodicean Church. Mankind in sin leaves Jesus standing outside waiting to be invited in. Jesus through His sacrifice has opened the door to heaven to all who will go in.

Who is on the throne?

The first thing John sees is One sitting on a throne. The covenant delivered to Moses on Mount Sinai contains much which is intended to give us a picture of Heaven. To help understand what we see here we need to refer to that covenant. In Exodus 28: 15 – 21, there are instructions for making the High Priest’s breastplate. On it are four rows of three stones. One for each of the tribes of Israel. The first stone of the first row is a Sardius. The last stone on the fourth row is a Jasper. The first stone is for the first son Reuben whose name means ‘behold a son’. The last stone on the fourth row is for Benjamin. His name means ‘son of my right hand’.

The one sitting on the throne is like Jasper and Sardius. He is both ‘behold a Son’ and ‘Son of my right hand’. Jesus alone caries both these titles. Hebrews tell us that Jesus, “when he had purged our sins sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high.” Sharing His Father’s throne Jesus occupies His rightful place at the centre of heaven.

Four Living creatures

We will go next to the four living creatures and come back to the elders. Both Isaiah and Ezekiel are given visions of heaven. Isaiah sees the Lord sitting on His throne (Isaiah 6: 2 – 3). Above Him are seraphim. They are not described in detail, but like the creatures in Revelation each have six wings. Also like the creatures in Revelation they cry Holy, Holy, Holy. Ezekiel in a vision sees four living creatures (Ezekiel 1: 5 – 14). There is no doubt that these are the same creatures in each of the visions. The visions are so extraordinary that it is no wonder the three prophets took in different aspects of these beings.

We are left with the question, what do these creatures represent? Fortunately the Bible is its own commentary. Numbers 2: 1 – 3, 10, 18 and 25 sets out the organisation of the camp of Israel. The nation was grouped into four camps, each with three tribes, around the tabernacle. Each of the four camps had its own banner. According to tradition Judah’s banner was a lion, Reuben’s banner a man, Ephraim’s banner an Ox and Dan’s banner an eagle. The same as the four faces on each of the creatures described in Revelation.

The camp of Israel was designed by God to convey an image of the order and pattern of heaven. The Tabernacle in the centre represents the throne of God. The Tabernacle in its detailed order also provides a lesson on how we are to approach God. The people of God in their camps under their banners surround the tabernacle.

After the victory over Amalek Moses set up an altar to give glory for the victory to God (Exodus 17: 15). He gives the altar the name Jehovah Nissi which means, ‘The Lord is my banner.’

The banner represents covering and protection. The banners of the camp each represents one of the living creatures. By camping under the four banners the children of Israel were placing themselves under the covering of the four living creatures.

The living creatures are full of eyes and do not rest day or night. They are angelic beings which are sent to constantly watch over the people of God. They also gather up and return to God the praises of all His people.

The 24 Elders

In the layout of the camp the Levites were placed between the tribes and the tabernacle. They were divided into three family group camps, with Moses and Aaron and their families making up the fourth camp. (Numbers 3: 23, 29, 35, 38). The Levites surrounded the tabernacle and assisted in the worship of God.

Later when King David was preparing for the construction of the Temple, he divided the priest and Levites into divisions. The priests were divided into 24 divisions to serve (1 Chronicles 24: 3 – 4). The Levites were divided into 24 divisions to lead worship (1 Chronicles 25: 6 – 8). Each division in turn officiated at the service and worship in the Temple.

My personal understanding of the 24 elders seated around the throne, is that they represent the heads of these divisions in heaven, presiding over the worship of God.

In 1 Peter 2:9 we read that our eternal calling is to be a kingdom of priests to God.  This is repeated in Revelation 1: 6 where Christ has made us kings and priests to His God. As in David’s earthly kingdom, so in heaven, the worship of God will be orderly. The 24 Elders each lead their division of priestly worshippers. I believe that all the redeemed will be allocated to their respective division. In turn we will have the opportunity, on behalf of all the saved, to present our worship before the throne of God. The Elders have crowns because they are kings as well as priests.

The Seven Spirits of God

Within the Tabernacle there was a candlestick with seven branches (Ex 25:31– 40, 37:17–24). The Menorah represents the seven spirits of God before His throne. That light was never to be allowed to go out. Seven symbolizes completeness and perfection. Earlier Jesus refers to the seven lampstands as representing the seven churches. Here the seven lamps of fire before the throne are the seven spirits of God. The connection between the seven lampstands representing the churches and the seven lamps which are the seven spirits of God, is simple. It is through the church that the Holy Spirit works in this world. If the church, as at Ephesus, has ceased to be a channel through which the Holy Spirit can work, the Lord will remove the lamp stand (Rev 2: 5) and replace it with a church that is more fruitful.

The sea of glass like crystal and the emerald rainbow

At Mount Sinai the Lord invited Moses, Aaron, Nadab and Abihu with the seventy elders of Israel to climb the mountain and worship Him from afar. On the mountain they see the God of Israel. At His feet there was a pavement of Sapphire (Exodus 24: 10). Ezekiel likens his vision of the glory of the Lord to a rainbow. Emeralds and sapphires come in a range of colours blue through to green. Exodus and Ezekiel both give us visions of the pre-incarnate Christ. Revelation now reveals Him restored to His former glory.

A bronze laver was made as part of the tabernacle (Exodus 30: 17 – 21). Aaron and his sons had to wash in the laver before offering worship. Pure as Chrystal emphasise purity. Nothing unclean can ever enter the presence of God.

It’s all about worship

Jesus is the one ‘who was and is and is to come’. He is the Lord God Almighty who lives forever and ever. He promises eternal life to all who believe in Him. Those closest to Jesus are filled with the most adoration and praise. They see Him for who He is and view with wonder the display of love in all His acts. He is worthy of praise because everything was made by Him. Nothing in heaven or earth exists without Him.

This vision of heaven reveals Christ in His eternal majesty. It has been given to encourage us before we move on to read of trouble to come. We have seen our Saviour on the throne. We have the assurance that He has conquered death. In Him we will be victors and live for ever.

A Brave Police Officer

Barnabas Fund reported on an incident which took place outside St Paul’s Cathedral in London. Cathedral staff asked the police to move a man on because he was reading the Bible in public on land which the cathedral owned but was used as a public space.

The Officer first answered, “I am of the opinion that this chap isn’t causing a breach of the peace. This chap isn’t impeding anyone. I am happy for him to stay here.”

When pressed by the Cathedral staff he again replied, “This chap is reading from the Bible. I feel that it would be remiss of me to move him on in a place of worship.” Well done.

But why do the Cathedral Staff oppose the reading of the Bible in public? Has the Bible really become so offensive to the church? Are they frightened that the public might question what the church teaches in the light of what they hear!?

China the surveillance state

In April, police in Nanchang made news when they arrested a fraudster by picking him out from a crowd of 60,000 concert goers. They were able to pin point him using facial recognition software. This software is linked to 176 million cameras across the country. Highly accurate computer algorithms, are used to monitor hundreds of millions of video feeds. They are able to match patterns of facial geometry to identify individuals even if disguise is used.

The Chinese government presented this as an aid to law enforcement and one of the positive benefits of the surveillance estate. It is not just criminals who are monitored. The system can be used against any the government consider to be untrustworthy. In China that includes political dissidents, union leaders, human rights protesters, journalists, Christians and other minorities. For them there is now nowhere to hide. Any appearance in a public place whether it be a shopping mall, bank or even a bus stop will generate an alert to the police.

This leads to another development in China, the awarding of a ‘social credit’ score. In the West all of us have a credit rating based on our past financial history. Our credit rating score affects the terms on which we can obtain a loan or make other financial transactions. In China your social credit rating takes many other factors into account. The algorithm develops a score based on criminal record, payment of taxes, traffic penalties, shopping and lifestyle habits, who your friends are and how well you support the government, etc. Your score determines access to loans, housing, social services, some types of employment, travel, university etc. A low score will mark you out as among the untrustworthy.

Facial recognition will become a part of life. In 1998 London became the first city in the world to link the use of CCTV to facial recognition software as an aid to fighting terrorism. At the UEFA Champions League final in 2017 South Wales Police used facial recognition to identify potential troublemakers. Facial recognition which allows you to enter a country or board a plane will soon be normal.

The Bible warns that part of Satan’s end time strategy, to impose his rule on the world, is to place a mark on all who worship him. Without the mark a person becomes an outcast from society. Over the years there has been much speculation as to what the mark may be. Facial recognition seems to remove the need for a mark. The systems being developed in China are about control. Satan wants more than that. He wants a positive sign of allegiance. The Lord also allows it as a test to distinguish between those who believe the truth and those who love the lie.

Palestinian Refugees.

A sticking point in every peace negotiation between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs has been the right of return for those who were left as refugees after the 1948 War of independence. After that war the United Nations Relief and Works Agency [UNRWA] was set up to provide assistance to the refugees. It operates under a unique definition of a refugee which includes, unlike all other refugees, their descendants. UNRWA also counted as a refugee anyone who had lived in Palestine for more than two years. The normal definition of a refugee is a person who has had to flee their permanent home. Using the UNRWA definition there are now more than 5 million Palestinian refugees worldwide.

In 2012 the US Senate Appropriations Committee approved a resolution authorizing the State Department to detail the number of people receiving UNRWA services. The State Department was required to report back within a year. The report was completed and then classified so that its findings were not made public.

It is believed that the report identifies 20,000 who would qualify if the normal definition refugee were applied.  Even with the broader definition it is claimed that the majority are already permanently settled in Gaza, the West bank, or Jerusalem and therefore no longer qualify for refugee status and funding.

The United States has provided most of the funding for UNRWA since its inception. In the period 2012 to 2016 alone it contributed $1 billion. In this period the UN, which through UNRWA provides healthcare, education, food and housing, spent 6 times more on each Palestinian refugee than on other refugees.

In the 1950’s Col Pierre Rondot wrote that the Arab’s had deliberately left the refugee problem unresolved as a weapon to use against Israel. And so it remains to this day. The refugees are used as mere pawns in a bigger game.