Newsletter 131 Spring 2019

“The earth mourns and fades away, the world languishes and fades away;
The haughty people of the earth languish. The earth is also defiled under its inhabitants, because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore the curse has devoured the earth, and those who dwell in it are desolate. Therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men are left.
Isaiah 24: 4 – 6.

In this edition

Extinction Rebellion

Fit for Purpose?


Christ and Israel

Whatever happened to the church?


The Fool Movie

Extinction Rebellion

During the week before Easter, ‘Extinction Rebellion’ protesters, brought parts of central London to a standstill. For several days protestors blocked Oxford Circus in the heart of London. The centre piece of that demonstration was a pink painted sailing boat which police eventually removed. There were also protests at Waterloo Bridge, Parliament Square, Marble Arch and the Natural History Museum. The metropolitan Police had to transfer 1,500 officers from other duties in order to police the demonstrators.

Extinction Rebellion put forward three demands:

  1. Tell the truth. They demand that the Government declares a climate and ecological emergency, working with other institutions to communicate the urgency for change
  2. Act Now. The Government must act now to halt biodiversity loss and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025.
  3. Beyond politics. The Government must create and be led by the decisions of a Citizens Assembly on climate and ecological justice.

School Strikes

The Extinction Rebellion protests followed a day of school strikes which took place in March. It is estimated that 1.4million students in 2,233 cities and 128 countries took part.  Greta Thunberg the 16 year old Swedish student who is accredited with starting the movement has won widespread praise. The School Strikes, also known as Fridays for Future, Youth for climate and Youth Strike 4 Climate, have become an international movement of school students who instead of attending classes take part in demonstrations demanding action on global warming.

The Church and Climate Change

The main denominational churches have meekly followed the climate change band wagon. The Methodists, Baptist and URC jointly produced a briefing titled, ‘Not just survive but to thrive’. It signs up to the need to limit temperature rise to 1.5 degrees and promotes the changeover to renewable energy. The Church of England has adopted similar aims. Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury wrote, “Reducing the causes of climate change is essential to the life of faith. It is a way to love our neighbour and to steward the gift of creation”. Instead of giving a lead, inspired by the Holy Spirit, the majority of churches have accepted worldly wisdom on this matter.

An Environmental Crisis

There are two distinct issues which tend to get merged together when considering the environment. One is a matter which should concern Christians, the other is an issue over which the Bible has already pronounced judgment.


The first issue is the stewardship of Creation. Mankind was entrusted by God to look after His world. Christians should care about it and look after it. In Revelation we are called on to “worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.” Revelation14: 7. He deserves our worship because He created a very beautiful world for us to enjoy. 

Environmentalists recognise that man is polluting and destroying this world. We share their concerns over issues such as the amount of plastic in the oceans. How to bring about change is another matter.

When I was a child my mother sometimes sent me to the shops. At the greengrocer potatoes were taken from a hessian sack, which would be used again, and poured straight in to the shopping bag. Likewise with other firm vegetables, while softer fruit and veg would be put into paper bags. Sweets came from a large bottle and were also sold in paper bags. After treating myself to a bottle of Tizer, I took it back to the shop to claim back my 1d deposit. The butcher, baker, greengrocer, sweet shop and chemist were all a short walk from our house. There was no need to get in the car to travel miles to the supermarket. Now we rely on supermarkets. Despite all the talk, the amount of plastic wrapping and waste doesn’t seem to decrease from year to year.

Outside our living room window there is a cotoneaster plant. In the past, when it flowered in the spring, it was buzzing with bees collecting nectar. Now it is silent. Years ago, around every street light there used to numerous moths and bugs. You see hardly any now. Pollinating insects have nearly all disappeared which will be a disaster for fruit crops.

It is right to share the common concern over the pollution and destruction of our world. It is often the poorest communities, which are suffering most from the effects of extreme weather. Christians should show responsibility for those communities. However that is not the same as falling in with the climate change fears of the world.


The second environmental issue is the one which primarily concerns activists such as Extinction Rebellion. They are genuinely worried that, if nothing is done, humanity will destroy this planet and the human race with it. The climate change protagonists have promoted the idea that action must be taken in the next few years otherwise we will pass a point of no return.

Are they right in foreseeing an environmental catastrophe? The answer is ‘Yes’. They are right but for all the wrong reasons. Even if global greenhouse gas emissions were cut to the proposed target levels it will not stop Climate Change. The causes of the crisis lie elsewhere.

People debate over how far global warming is down to human activity and how much is due to natural cycles. The Bible provides us with an entirely different understanding of the causes of the environmental crisis. It gives us three reasons why the environment is suffering:

  • A dying Planet.

God warned Adam that he was not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If he ate the fruit he would surely die. In pronouncing judgment on Adam, after he had eaten the fruit, God said that from now on the ground would be cursed and would bring forth thorns and thistles. Not only would mankind suffer death but the whole of creation came under the “bondage to decay”, Romans 8: 21. A verse earlier we read that “the creation was subjected to futility”. According to the Bible mankind’s sin affected the whole of creation. Although in some measure the earth will be restored during the reign of Christ, it appears that the corruption has so deeply polluted it, in the end it will have to be destroyed. . “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.” 2 Peter 3: 10.

This world has been dying ever since the day that Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Scientifically this is supported by the principle of genetic entropy. From generation to generation there is a steady accumulation of minor errors in DNA which leads to a progressive decline in the viability of species.

  • Demonic activity

Revelation chapter 8 describes a series of trumpet judgments. They affect the whole of the environment. Trees and grasslands are burned up. The seas are polluted and the fish die. Water becomes undrinkable and the light from the sun and moon is reduced. The trumpets announce victories in heaven as demonic powers are defeated and cast down.

The environment is already suffering from the effect of demonic activity. The Bible attributes the sufferings of Job to the direct action of Satan. He was allowed to stir up men to steal and kill. He also was allowed to use extreme weather, fire from heaven and a great wind to destroy. In some measure the present environmental crisis is due to demonic activity. God allows Satan and his demonic followers to act to bring people to repentance. The present crisis should cause us to recognise that it is His world which we are destroying.

  • Polluted by sin

“You shall therefore keep all My statutes and My judgments and perform them, that the land where I am bringing you to dwell may not vomit you out. Leviticus 20: 22. As Christians we do not credit the earth with personality. The Bible is not attributing emotions when it describes the land vomiting people out. But a reading of Isaiah chapter 24 confirms that the physical world is affected by sin. “Its transgressions are heavy upon it, and it will fall and not rise again.” Isaiah 24: 20.

We recognise that God blesses obedience and curses disobedience. The first law that God gave to Noah was that a reckoning was required if a man’s blood was shed. If a person takes another’s life, his own life was forfeited. We live in an age when a great deal of innocent blood has been shed but no reckoning has taken place. Is the earth vomiting us out because of our sin?

Fear for the future

The Environmentalist have real fear for the future because from their perspective there is no other future. As time runs out the protests will become more frenzied. Governments will be sucked in to the demands for action. Due to fear, controls and restrictions will be placed on us all.

A New Creation

This present world is going to be swept away. All its evil will be destroyed. In its place God is creating a new heaven and a new earth. God commissioned the church to preach the gospel to every creature. All who receive that gospel become citizens of God’s wonderful, pure, clean, undefiled new creation. A creation which will never suffer from the death throes our present home is suffering.

Fit for Purpose?

After the fiasco of the last few months many must be asking is our parliamentary democracy fit for purpose. Is it capable of representing the wishes of the people? A majority of members of parliament still appear to be shell shocked by the result of the EU referendum nearly three years ago. For them it is beyond comprehension how the nation could vote to leave the European Union.

In his book ‘The Liberal Delusion’ John Marsh shows how liberal ideas grew out of the 18th century ‘Enlightenment’ movement.  A fallacy of Enlightenment thinking was the rejection of the Christian doctrine of original sin. Instead it was held that man was born good. Philosophers such as Rousseau believed that it was family and society which corrupted the child. Left to grow up without these external influences a person by nature will be good. John Marsh goes on to show how this underlying philosophy has influenced liberal thought. He attributes many of society’s current ills to the application of what he goes on to call THE BIG LIE.

Drawing on the work of philosophers such as Sir Isaiah Berlin, Marsh shows how Enlightenment thinking has led to two attitudes to liberty. In his essay ‘Two Concepts of Liberty’, Berlin proposed that there is positive and negative liberty. ‘Positive liberty’ answers the question who controls what a person does or is. ‘Negative liberty’ looks at how much freedom a person should be given to do or be, without interference from other persons.

The ‘negative’ concept of liberty leads to the removal of obstacles to freedom through a policy of non-interference and leaving people alone. It is the traditional expression of liberal values.

The ‘positive’ strand of liberty arises when people think that they are morally and intellectually superior to ordinary folk. In their eyes that superiority requires them to impose their views on the masses, by coercion if necessary. With their superior state of mind they believe that it is for the common good.

Sir Isaiah Berlin observed that in the second half of the twentieth century liberals in Britain moved away from a doctrine of individual responsibility to an authoritarian obedience to the directive of an elite.

In the ‘Liberal Delusion’ John Marsh records that Tony Blair, when Prime Minister, wrote to Sir Isaiah Berlin challenging his arguments. Blair asserted that there was a case for a superior elite imposing its views on backward ordinary people. His successors Gordon Brown, David Cameron, Theresa May have all proved to be of the same elitist frame of mind.

The last few months have confirmed that the overwhelming majority of Members of Parliament also believe that they are the superior elite. For them the EU referendum proved to be a disaster. It allowed the people to impose their will on parliament is was wrong way round. We regularly hear comments by remainer MPs which indicate that they think the ordinary people must be both stupid and ignorant to have voted the way they did.

It is no wonder that ordinary people see a disconnect between the politicians at Westminster and their daily lives.

For those who despair at the way the United Kingdom has been governed in recent years I have included part of a Psalm:

Shall the throne of iniquity, which devises evil by law,
Have fellowship with You?
They gather together against the life of the righteous,
And condemn innocent blood.
But the Lord has been my defence,
And my God the rock of my refuge.
He has brought on them their own iniquity,
And shall cut them off in their own wickedness;
The Lord our God shall cut them off.    Psalm 94: 20 – 23

The time is not far off when the Lord will establish His throne and rule in righteousness.


While praying last December a picture came into my mind. It was Theresa May giving a resignation speech. I shared this with a few at the time. I was not sure then if it was prophetic or the Lord directing what we should be praying for. It is now clear that we must pray that Theresa May resigns as Prime Minister. The UK will not leave the EU while she remains in office.

Christ and Israel

This revelation of Jesus Christ confirms that He has not forsaken Israel.

The last study in this series assured us that despite the apparent turmoil in the world Jesus Christ is still sovereign. The fifth and sixth trumpets warn that a time of great woe is coming on the earth. In believing His word we will not be taken by surprise. Jesus said of these times, “See I have told you beforehand.” (Matt 24:25) The primary purpose of prophecy is to enable us to be prepared.

There is a people whom God still loves. He made a covenant with them, which he will not break. The focus of the prophecies in Revelation 11:19 – 12: 6 and 12: 13 – 16 now moves to the people of the Sinai Covenant.

Believing Israel

The ‘ark of His covenant’ is seen in heaven in the Temple. According to Hebrews 8: 4 – 5 the earthly tabernacle with its furnishings was a copy of the one in heaven. The Ark of the Covenant symbolizes the covenant with Israel. Lightning, sounds, peals of thunder and earthquake all describe the scene at Sinai when the covenant was given. [Ex 19:16-19]. At Sinai Israel accepted the call to become the people of God. Jeremiah referred to it as a betrothal. [Jer 2:2]

The woman clothed in the sun reminds us of Josephs’ dream [Gen 37:9] in which the sun, moon and stars speak of Israel. The interpretation that this refers to Israel is confirmed by her bearing a male child who will rule the nations with a rod of iron. In Psalm 2: 8, 9 it is Jesus who will rule the nations with a rod of iron.

The dragon, Satan, was waiting to devour the child the moment He was born. Satan uses his proxy Herod to attempt to destroy the child. [Mt 2:16] The stars represent a third of the angelic beings that follow Satan in his rebellion. When he falls to earth, they fall as well.

Verse 6 begins with the conjunction kai, which means and. This indicates that the catching up of the male child and the woman fleeing, are connected events.

Is this time related? Is it about the Jews being forced out of their land after the ascension of Christ? Forced out due to rejecting their Messiah? Despite that, in exile, the Lord fed them, preserving them as a nation. Jesus promised that the nation of Israel would not pass away. If so the 1260 days of exile is symbolic as they were out of the land for over 1800 years.

Or is it faith related? Another way of connecting the ascension of Christ and the woman fleeing, is to understand that the woman represents the believing remnant of Israel. They are the remnant who recognise Jesus as the Messiah. Because they recognise who Jesus is, they will obey His words. When they see the sign of which He warned, they will flee. As this is an end time vision I believe that this is the more likely connection.

Flee Jerusalem

Jesus gave a warning that when the abomination of desolation is revealed those in Judea must flee [Matt 24: 15, 16]. The Jews who heed that warning will escape the worst of the reign of the Antichrist. Our Lord must grieve that so many in Israel do not acknowledge Him as their Messiah. If, down the centuries, they had put their trust in Him, He would have shielded them from much of the trouble they have endured. During this end time it is the same. If only they will listen to His warning they will be spared. This is a revelation of our Lord’s continuing love for Israel. But if they continue in blind disbelief they will suffer. Sadly both the Old and New Testaments testify that the blindness will continue until the day on which Jesus physically returns to fight for them. He will come at a time when their power has been shattered and their only remaining hope is to cry out to Him [Daniel 12: 7].

Those who flee will be given two wings of an eagle.  In Exodus 19:4 the flight from Egypt is described as bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself”. The future flight may seem like a desperate escape by any means available but God will be watching over them. In the wilderness believing Israel will be looked after by God for the three and a half years of tribulation. Is this place of safety a country which is free from the reign of the beast or will they be hidden by Gentile Christians?

Will the Jews suffer even more?

This is a question which exercises many. Some teach that their suffering is past and now what lies ahead is the conversion of Israel as they come to recognise their Saviour. All who love Israel must truly hope that these people are right. However there are a number of scriptural prophecies which point to one last end time period of suffering. One of these is John 5:43 which I believe is prophetic. The reason Israel will have one last terrible period of suffering is because having rejected their Messiah they will now look to the one who comes in his own name, a reference to the Antichrist.

War on the saints

Unable to destroy the believing remnant of Jews, Satan in fury turns on the Christians. They are described as the ones who obey God and testify of their faith in Christ.

Satan has good reason to be angry with them. We go back to Revelation 12: 7 – 12 to read about a war which breaks out in heaven. This passage opens with Michael and the angels fighting against Satan and his angels. Michael defeats Satan and drives him out of heaven. Satan and his host are cast down to the earth to work their evil plans. It is a time of woe to the earth because Satan knows he has only a little time to establish his rule. In the last article I wrote that the primary purpose of this deception is to fool Christians. The rest of the world has been deceived already. He has a short time in which to eradicate faith in Christ and take control of this world.

The triumph of the saints

Satan is described as, “the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night.” When Satan accused Job, he claimed that man would only follow God for material benefit.  The saints prove this to be a lie. They overcome Satan by being willing to give up everything out of love for their Master. Satan hates those “who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” because their faithfulness has contributed to his defeat. Jesus defined His brethren as “whoever does the will of my Father in heaven”. Matt 12: 50

The testimony of those who overcome Satan is summed up in the following three headings:

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb.

Jesus, through His death, destroyed the one who had the power of death [Heb 2: 14]. Satan had the power of death over us because we have sinned. Every accusation Satan brings against us is answered by the blood of the Lamb.

Do we allow Satan to attack us and wear us down? He is our adversary, but we are to resist him [1 Peter 5: 8, 9]. If we resist him, he will flee [James 4: 7]. Satan will have a go because his character is the accuser. Tell him that everything he says may have been true once but now all our sin has been cancelled by the blood of the Lamb. There is no other gospel than the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Those who deny the atonement have no defence against Satan’s accusations.

And by the word of their testimony

Satan is defeated when we testify that we have been set free. Jesus said that “….whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.” [John 8: 34]. He also said, “if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” [John 8: 36]. Through faith we have been, “delivered from the power of darkness and conveyed into the kingdom of the Son..” [Col 1: 13]. Jesus came to proclaim release to the captives. [Luke 4: 18]. The Lord commissioned Paul to set people free from the power of Satan. [Acts 26:18]. That is our commission as well. We are either a slave of sin leading to death or of obedience leading to righteousness [Rom 6: 16].

And they did not love their lives even to the death.

Satan’s is utterly crushed by this. Satan’s accusation against us is that we are only in it for what we get out of it. But if people are willing to give their lives for Christ, he has no answer.

The final victory

In the 20th Century and continuing into the 21st millions of Christians have not loved their lives even to death. Some due to their faith have lost their livelihood. Others have been falsely accused and thrown into prison. We hear of those who have been enslaved but refuse to deny their faith. Many have given up their lives. As the end of the age draws closer, the war on the saints will intensify. Every time a person holds fast to their faith in the face of persecution, they are bringing Satan’s downfall closer. This is a victory which will be won by the millions of unknown but faithful followers of the Lamb.

What ever happened to the church?

An increasing number of believers are, for a variety of reasons, finding themselves no longer part of a church. In Trumpet Sounds 129 I set down four key words which defined a true ‘ekklesia’, whether it is comprised of a few or many members.

The first word, love, was covered in the last edition of Trumpet Sounds. The next word is discipleship. The commission which Jesus gave to His disciples was to both preach the gospel and make disciples.

The evangelist’s task is to preach the gospel. He is to be the mouth piece through which the Holy Spirit convicts of sin. The role of pastors and teachers is to take the convert on from conversion to become a disciple.

Jesus adopted the teaching method of a Jewish rabbi. He chose a small group of men to share His life. They travelled with Him, ate with Him, heard his teaching, saw the miracles, shared their finances and absorbed His character. At the end of three years He told them to go out and repeat what they had seen and been taught.

The Apostle Paul also adopted this method. Frequently in his letters he encouraged believers to lead the Christian life by copying him.

To the Corinthians he wrote that he was prepared to be considered a fool for the sake of the gospel. He then writes “Therefore I urge you imitate me.” 1 Corinthians 4: 16. 

Early in the letter to the Philippians, Paul calls on them to ensure that their conduct is worthy of Christ. Later he writes, “Brethren join in following my example, and note those who so walk as you have us for a pattern.” Philippians 3: 17. He adds, “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do…” Philippians 4: 9.

On the subject of being diligent in our work, Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us …. but worked with labour and toil  night and day that we might not be a burden to any of you.”  2 Thessalonians 3: 7, 8.

To both Timothy and Titus, Paul writes to encourage them to be an example by doing what is good.

Trained as a rabbi, Paul understood that a prime method of teaching was by example. The student of a rabbi sought to become like their teacher. Spending time with him they would note everything he did or said. Their aim was not to just understand the scriptures but also how to put it into practice.

Can it be said of our ekklsia that the convert joining the fellowship will meet people he can look to as role models for living the Christian life? That I believe is the challenge of making disciples.


I have written before about the social credit scheme which China is rolling out (to be completed in 2020). It is giving all citizens an identity number that will be linked to a constantly updated score based on observed behaviours, including who you associate with. At the same time a nationwide facial recognition programme is being developed. It will be capable of picking out anyone from a crowd. 

A new phone app has been developed as part of the social credit system. It will alert users if someone within 500 yards of them is in debt. This is the first step to controlling one’s associations. It is aimed at making sure you only fraternize with highly rated people.

Authorities hope the app will enable people to blow the whistle on debtors who are capable of paying their debts.

There is no reason the debt app can’t be rolled out to a large number of other factors that people might want to be alerted about which might include another person’s overall social credit score.

Officials prevented Liu Hu, a journalist, from taking a flight because he had a low score. Chinese officials, however, are using the lists for determining more than just access to planes and trains. “I can’t buy property. My child can’t go to a private school,” Liu said. “You feel you’re being controlled by the list all the time.”

Will it be possible to redeem yourself if awarded a low score? Chairman Xi Jinping, the final and perhaps only arbiter in China, has made it clear how he feels about the availability of second chances. The Chinese ruler has said “once untrustworthy, always restricted”.

What happens, then, to a country where only the compliant are allowed to board a plane, have a mortgage and have access to government services etc.? No one quite knows because never before has a government had the ability to constantly assess everyone and then enforce its will. 

Chinese Spies

Guangzhou is the first major city in China to offer money to anyone who informs on church activity in their neighbourhood that hasn’t got the government stamp of approval.

Gossipy neighbours could pocket up to 10,000 yuan (£1,130; $1,500; €1,320) for whispered tip-offs about “illegal religious activities”, according to regional news reports.

Sneaky Chinese citizens stand to net up to 10,000 yuan (£1,130; $1,500; €1,320) if they snitch on a foreign pastor in China

“This will compress the survival space of house churches. Not only will they have to deal with the official crackdown but now also the threat from their neighbours,” said Ying Fuk Tsang, director of the Divinity School at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

The biggest reward of between 5,000 and 10,000 yuan is offered if a foreign pastor is snared. Between 3,000 and 5,000 yuan will be paid if information leads to an unregistered foreign religious group being shut down, and from 100 to 3,000 yuan will be paid to tongue-waggers who inform on local church gatherings and pastors. [information source: The Gatestone Institute].

The Fool Movie

If you have access to the internet and can spare an hour it is well worth watching the Fool Movie. In it Ray Comfort explains how a light hearted illustration, which he used in talks to present the idiocy of Atheism, was picked up and used by atheists worldwide to mock him. The illustration was carefully edited by his critics to make him look a fool and then posted on the internet.

God used the edited movie to open doors. Ray testifies how it led to many conversations with atheists, through which he was allowed to present the gospel. Clips of these interviews were viewed, in some cases, by millions. It reminds me of Isaiah 20: 1 – 4. The great prophet was called on by God to humiliate himself so that the people would receive the message.