December 23, 2011
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CURRENT PROPHETIC HEADLINES
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And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people;
And it shall come to pass in that day,
that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.
Iran¯s nuclear push is rapidly turning into a game of chicken with the world¯s economy.
Faced with the threat of growing international sanctions and unprecedented economic uncertainty that has seen the value of its currency halved in recent weeks, Iran announced Thursday its navy will stage a 10-day exercise in the Strait of Hormuz, starting Saturday.
The move, which increases the risk of military confrontation with the United States, has the potential to temporarily choke off oil exports from the Middle East, drive up international energy prices and damage the global economy.
Admiral Habibollah Sayyari, head of Iran¯s navy, said submarines, destroyers, missile-launching ships and attack boats will occupy a 2,000-kilometre stretch of sea from the Strait of Hormuz, at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, to the Gulf of Aden, near the entrance to the Red Sea.
¯Iran¯s military and Revolutionary Guards can close the Strait of Hormuz. But such a decision should be made by top establishment leaders,¯ he said.
This month, Parviz Sarvari, a member of the Iranian parliament¯s National Security Committee, said Iran would close the Strait of Hormuz as part of a military exercise.
¯If the world wants to make the region insecure, we will make the world insecure,¯ he said.
In November, Iran¯s energy minister told Al Jazeera television Tehran could use oil as a political tool in the event of future conflict over its nuclear program.
Dubbed Velayat-90 (Velayat is Persian for supremacy), the war games are designed to display Iran¯s naval power in the face of growing international criticism of its nuclear work.
This week, Leon Panetta, the U.S. Defence Secretary, predicted Iran will be able to assemble a nuclear bomb within a year and warned the United States had not ruled out using military force to prevent that from happening.
The day before Iran announced the war games, General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told CNN television the U.S. was determined to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.
¯My biggest worry is they will miscalculate our resolve,¯ he said. ¯Any miscalculation could mean that we are drawn into conflict and that would be a tragedy for the region and the world.¯
Iran said the war games would be held in international waters.
The Strait is a 50-kilometre wide passageway through which about a third of the world¯s oil tanker traffic sails. Whoever controls this crucial choke-point virtually controls Middle East oil exports.
¯The importance of this waterway to both American military and economic interests is difficult to overstate,¯ said a report by geopolitical analysts at the global intelligence firm Stratfor.
¯Considering Washington¯s more general ¯ and fundamental ¯ interest in securing freedom of the seas, the U.S. Navy would almost be forced to respond aggressively to any attempt to close the Strait of Hormuz.¯
¯Iran has built up a large mix of unconventional forces in the Gulf that can challenge its neighbors in a wide variety of asymmetric wars, including low-level wars of attrition,¯ said Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington.
This includes nearly 200 missile patrol boats, equipped with sea-skimming anti-ship missiles, which ¯can be used to harass civil shipping and tankers, and offshore facilities, as well as attack naval vessels,¯ he said.
¯These light naval forces have special importance because of their potential ability to threaten oil and shipping traffic in the Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, raid key offshore facilities and conduct raids on targets on the Gulf Coast.¯
But Mr. Cordesman also warned ¯Iran could not ¯close the Gulf¯ for more than a few days to two weeks even if it was willing to sacrifice all of these assets, suffer massive retaliation, and potentially lose many of its own oil facilities and export revenues.¯
¯It would almost certainly lose far more than it gained from such a ¯war,¯ but nations often fail to act as rational bargainers in a crisis, particularly if attacked or if their regimes are threatened,¯ Mr. Cordesman wrote in a report titled Iran, Oil, and the Strait of Hormuz.
Closing the Strait for just 30 days would send the price of crude racing up to US$300 to $500 a barrel, a level that would trigger global economic instability and cost the U.S. nearly US$75-billion in economic activity.
¯One bomb on Iran and oil prices could shoot up to $300 or even $500 a barrel,¯ veteran UPI correspondent Arnaud de Borchgrave wrote recently.
According to a computerized war game carried out by the Heritage Foundation in Washington in 2007, the effects of an Iranian attempt to block Gulf oil shipping may be minimal because the U.S. and its allies would immediately send military and naval forces to protect shipping lanes.
If Iran destroyed oil tankers or impeded the transit of oil and other commerce, it could expect to suffer considerable damage in retaliatory attacks, the study said.
The potential for a naval confrontation comes just as the U.S. and its allies are stepping up pressure to impose even stricter economic sanctions against Iran in an effort to force it to abandon its controversial nuclear program.
This follows the introduction of stronger economic sanctions by the U.S. and Europe after a International Atomic Energy Agency report issued in November increased fears Iran is working to develop atomic bomb capability.
Sanctions appear to be hurting Iran, squeezing its banks and sending the Iranian rial plunging to its lowest level against the U.S. dollar.
Washington recently declared Iranian banks guilty of money laundering, forcing U.S. banks to step up the reporting requirements of any banks they deal with that may be doing business with Iran.
This has made it so difficult for foreign businesses many have decided to stop dealing with the Iranians.
In November, Canada and Britain also decided to sever all ties with the Central Bank of Iran and France began calling for a European Union boycott of Iranian oil.
Last week, Issa Jafari, an Iranian parliamentarian, said, ¯If oil sanctions are imposed on Iran, we will not allow even a single barrel of oil to be exported to countries hostile to us.¯
In the past, Iranian officials have dismissed sanctions as doomed to fail, but this week Akbar Salehi, the Foreign Minister, told the official Islamic Republic New Agency, ¯We cannot pretend the sanctions are not having an effect.¯
Mahmoud Bahmani, governor of the Central Bank of Iran, also said Iran needs to act as if it were ¯under siege.¯
House and Senate Appropriations Committees approve $237 million in aid in 2012 to Israel's anti-missile systems.
The United States will double the special aid it gives Israel for the development and implementation of anti-missile systems, the Globes financial newspaper reported on Thursday.
According to the report, the House and Senate¯s Committees on Appropriations approved the aid following a request by the U.S. Administration to approve aid totaling $106.1 million for the Arrow 3 anti-ballistic long-range air defense system, for the program to improve the basic capabilities of the Arrow systems, and for the David¯s Sling mid-range anti-missile system.
Both Appropriations Committees went far beyond the request, the report noted, and raised the amount of aid from $129 million to $235.7 million in 2012, Globes noted. The report is based on information first published on the Inside Defense website.
The assistance to all three programs is based on an assumption that Israel would allocate identical amounts in its budget to all three programs, Globes noted. The report added that Michael Oren, Israel¯s ambassador to the United States, and Aviv Ezra, Counselor for Congressional Affairs at the Embassy of Israel in Washington D.C., played an important role in talks with lawmakers in the months prior to the decision.
Steve Rothman, the U.S. Representative for New Jersey's 9th congressional district and a member of the United States House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, said that the Israel¯s anti-missile programs advance U.S. interests in the Middle East.
¯The growing distribution of missiles and rockets around the globe, starting with Iran and Hizbullah and ending with Gaza and Syria is a direct threat to U.S. national security,¯ Rothman was quoted as having told Inside Defense. ¯Our enemies know they cannot cope with the combined power of the world's only military superpower and the most powerful military force in the Middle East. This aid is the latest illustration of the unprecedented level of military cooperation and intelligence between the two countries.¯
Earlier this week, the Commander of the Third Air Force of the U.S Military, Lt. Gen. Frank Gorenc, arrived in Israel to prepare for a joint training exercise between the Israel Air Force and the U.S. Army.
The 'Austere Challenge' (AC) exercise will take place next year and Lt. Gen. Gorenc's visit will strengthen the ties and coordination between the forces, wrote the IAF website.
Palestinian militia focus fire to probe for flaws in Israel¯s Iron Dome defense system ¯ www.worldtribune.com
TEL AVIV ¯ The Hamas regime and its Palestinian allies have focused on finding vulnerabilities in Israel¯s new Iron Dome missile and rocket defense system, a report said.
The Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies said Hamas and its Palestinian militia allies have largely abandoned their shelling of Israeli towns near the Gaza Strip. Instead, Palestinian gunners were firing salvos of missiles and rockets toward Israeli cities that contained the Iron Dome.
¯Here, the tendency of the Palestinian groups was to fire rockets at the more distant, larger cities in Israel¯s south and not at the small Israeli communities adjacent to the Gaza border, like Sderot. Ashkelon, Ashdod and Beersheba were repeatedly targeted, as well as some smaller towns deep within Israel,¯ the report, titled ¯The Missile Threat from Gaza: From Nuisance to Strategic Threat,¯ said.
Authored by Israeli missile defense agency founder Uzi Rubin, the report cited the mini-war between Islamic Jihad and Israel in August. Rubin, a consultant to foreign governments, said the Iranian-sponsored Jihad ignored such longtime short-range targets as Sderot while focusing its fire on Ashkelon and Beersheba, the latter about 40 kilometers from the Gaza Strip.
¯The Palestinian armed factions made intense efforts to break through the defense by launching larger salvos of rockets at the two batteries defending Ashkelon and Beersheba, while forgoing the temptation to seriously hit the yet undefended city of Ashdod,¯ the report said.
The sole Israeli fatality by Jihad missiles took place on Aug. 20 in a rocket salvo on Beersheba. The report said the attack was meant to penetrate the Iron Dome¯s interception envelope.
¯The fact that this barrage of rockets was aimed at Beersheba, with its Iron Dome battery, and not at the equidistant but larger and undefended city of Ashdod, may indicate that the Palestinians¯ main priority was to probe the defense system for weaknesses,¯ the report said.
Rubin said the effectiveness of Iron Dome remains uncertain, particularly in confronting salvos. He cited estimates by the Israeli military and prime contractor Rafael Advanced Defense Systems that Iron Dome demonstrated an interception rate of up to 93 percent.
¯Such use of saturated fire as a countermeasure to missile defense was predictable based on numerous statements made by Iranian and Hizbullah officers,¯ the report said. ¯The Palestinians, it seems, have lost interest in harassing small communities; with longer range rockets now at their disposal, they are finding it more profitable to harass larger cities.¯
NICOSIA ¯ The regime of President Bashar Assad has displayed its new
Russian-origin weapons during a military exercise.
Western diplomats said Assad¯s military fired new missiles and other weapons acquired from Moscow in late 2011 during an exercise that took place on Dec. 20. They said the new weapons included the P-800 Yakhont cruise missile, which arrived in November.
¯This was a warning to Turkey and NATO to keep out of Syria,¯ a diplomat said.
This marked the second major military exercise by Syria in less than a month. But the diplomats said the latest exercise was much larger than the first interservice maneuvers.
¯The demonstration was aimed at testing the combat capability and readiness of the air force and air defense to confront any possible aggression that might target Syria¯s land and air space,¯ the official Syrian news agency, Sana, said.
Sana said the exercise demonstrated a high level of interoperability in missile and other attacks. Sana, which did not identify the weapons, said the military¯s Special Forces also conducted paratroop operations.
Yakhont has been part of the Bastion coastal defense system supplied by Moscow. Diplomats said Syria received at least two Bastion systems, or more than 60 supersonic land-attack missiles.
Syria has also received the Iskander-E long-range surface-to-surface rocket from Russia. It was not clear whether Syria fired the Iskander during the latest exercise.
¯Marine and coastal missiles participated in the maneuver under conditions similar to a real battle, hitting the assumed hostile targets with accuracy that reflected the high level of combat training the marine personnel had and their efficiency in using modern maritime weapons,¯ Sana said.
After Baghdad, Sunni terrorist hit the security core of Assad regime ¯ www.debka.com
The Sunni Muslim war on the Shiite-Allawite ruler of Syria and the Shiite-led regime of Iraq has gained deadly momentum in the last 48 hours, debkafile's military sources report. Friday, Dec. 23, two suicide bombers blew up cars loaded with explosives at the compound of the Syrian Security Directorate and military intelligence building in central Damascus, killing at least 40 military personnel and civilians, and injuring dozens more. It was the first such attack to take place in the Syrian capital in the 10-month uprising against Bashar Assad and struck at the heart of his regime.
In Baghdad, Thursday, more than 70 people died and at least 200 were badly hurt by a series of roadside bombs, an exploding ambulance and sticky bombs. Most were directed against Shiite targets.
Since Assad and the Iraqi Prime Minister Nour al-Maliki share the same backer, Tehran, the spate of terror which erupted this week was not just a trigger for civil war in both their countries but signaled a new and violent round in the Sunni-Shiite struggle for control of the Middle East.
Standing to one side are Iran, the Damascus and Baghdad rulers, Hizballah and the Palestinian extremist Hamas and Jihad Islami. Ranged against them are the Muslim Brotherhood and elements or associates of al Qaeda. They are backed with arms, funds, training and fighting strength by several Sunni Arab regimes, chiefly Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, Jordan and Libya.
Our counter-terror sources report an expanding flow of extremist Sunni infiltrators from Iraq into Syria and Lebanon. Not all are al Qaeda, as Assad claims. Some belong to the "Awakening Councils" which have evolved into the Iraqi Sunni tribal community's principal military arm. They were originally set up by Gen. David Petraeus, presently CIA Director, to fight al Qaeda. With US funding, training and commanders, these Sunni tribal fighters were successful from 2006 to 2008 in beating al Qaeda into the ground.
But the final US military departure from Iraq this week left the Awakening Council fighters high and dry by. Prime Minister al-Maliki, who takes his orders from Tehran, refused to honor the contract to pay their wages and their families are destitute.
As a result, many Iraqi Sunni fighting men decided to join up with al Qaeda. Their pursuit of a source of arms and a livelihood is taking them across borders into Syria and Lebanon where they join the ranks of anti-Assad Sunni militias, including the Free Syrian Army.
Seasoned in the ways of violence, they were fully competent to carry out the deadly terrorist attacks in Baghdad and Damascus. More such outrages are certain to come, adding a whole new dimension to the popular campaign to unseat Bashar Assad as well as post-war Iraq.
AN EXCITING PRE-VIEW OF THINGS TO COME
**First Review: ¯Moving and Inspirational¯ ¯ D. Koerner, Bakersfield, CA
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If any year showed the difficulty of making predictions in the Middle East, it was 2011.
Anything said about what will happen here in 2012, then, should be seen as the broadest of guides as to the direction of travel rather than a precise description of what will be encountered along the way.
The direction of travel, though, is not that hard to see: after all, one thing most Middle East-watchers agreed a year ago was that in many countries the status quo was unsustainable. That remains the case.
Syria is where an unstoppable force is confronting an immovable object. The protesters who staged a few angry demonstrations in the remotest parts of the country nine months ago have become a seething tide of unrest, killing and being killed with little quarter. Yet still President Bashir al-Assad refuses to budge, pursuing his own "path to reform" - a path that has been pursued without a clear goal for over a decade.
He still claims to be the subject of a vast international conspiracy - just as Hosni Mubarak and Muammar Gaddafi did before him, to little success.
Despite the violence, his friends are not abandoning him, and with Iran on hand to provide financial and even military support, and Russia providing diplomatic cover, there is no immediate prospect of his overthrow. But as capital flees to more promising destinations, and a second summer of violence turns a stagnant economy into a malignant one, its important Sunni business elite may start to seek other options. If the Assad regime is still there in a year, it will be lucky. If Syria has avoided what could be the nastiest of all the civil wars of the Arab Spring, it will be luckier.
Egypt's transition was less painful than that of its neighbor Libya, but only because the country was already politically rudderless, under a president who was never strong and had lost what vision he had long before his overthrow.
It will take more than a year for Egypt to be cleansed of the poisons which festered under his long reign - grinding poverty, sectarianism, Islamist fanaticism, and police brutality.
The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party look certain to win the country's convoluted election, and secularists, Christians and the western world are hoping that it forms a coalition with some of the more liberal parties. That will not end the continuing conflict with the army, which is determined to cling on to its power and its privileges.
More worrying is that no coalition would be able to bring the economic relief that Egypt desperately needs, and the Salafis and other radicals, who do not even have a coherent economic policy, will be the most obvious beneficiaries of the resulting disillusion.
Libya was always a land of extremes, and Col Gaddafi only served to give that aspect of its nature a pantomime feel. There is no pantomime in Libya now, but the predictable outcomes for Libya's future remain very different.
On the one hand there is a real possibility that Libya will re-descend into civil strife. There are regular gunfights between different militias in and around Tripoli. More worrying, these are starting to take on an ideological tone. The reason the Zintan and Misurata brigades are so keen not to leave the capital is because they fear that the Islamists who play a powerful role there, and in Benghazi, are trying to seize the reins of power that they have not won politically.
On the other hand, the backers of the different sides - Qatar for the Islamists, Britain and France for the secularists - are friendly nations. If they can preserve a balance of peace rather than war Libya's rebound could be remarkable - its oil is starting to come on-stream, it will at some point have access to tens of billions of dollars in overseas reserves currently frozen under anti-Gaddafi sanctions, and it has a keen and often well-educated public who mostly just want to get back to work.
Yemen suffered the most unreal revolution. It did eventually manage to force its president of three decades, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to resign. An opposition leader is now interim prime minister.
But has anything really changed? Among those who turned against Mr Saleh were his cousin, Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, his long-term security chief. He will not disappear from the political scene. Nor will any of the other competing elements of Yemeni society that serve to undermine its unity, governance and economic future - its semi-independent tribes, the social prevalence of weaponry and the narcotic qat, and its Islamists of competing hues of radicalism from the Shia Houthi warriors of the north, to the fundamentalists who control the formal opposition, and to the Al-Qaeda cells dotted around the country.
Yemen is the poorest country in the Arab world and increasingly short not just of money but of basics like water. President Saleh had long ceased to offer a solution, and few will mourn his passing. But it is hard to see anyone else with a solution either.
The monarchies of the Saudi peninsula showed once again this year why they are in the Middle East but not part of it. Different rules apply.
They played a huge role in events in North Africa: the Libyan revolution was bank-rolled by Qatar, while Saudi money continues to fund Islamist movements, peaceful and violent, across the region.
But they look supremely able to continue to weather the occasional protests - particularly in Saudi Arabia's Shia east and in Oman - that have dogged them this year. Even in Bahrain, the one Gulf state to have seen the Arab Spring in full cry, the authorities have been able to apply sufficient brute force to remain firmly in control.
That does not mean they can sleep untroubled. The prospect of a war involving Iran, which is threatening to cut off oil routes, and the worldwide economic crisis present a more existential threat to their future than even democracy.
Q. I was listening to your interpretation of the woman riding the beast in the book of Revelation. And I must admit that you have me lost. First you say that she is a distinct city that is called Babylon. Then you say that she sits on a beast that has 7 heads and ten horns. Then you say that the beast that carries her that was and is not and yet is, are 7 mountains and each mountain represents a king. Then you say that she sits on many waters. Then you say that seeing how Babylon is a real city, then it must be rebuilt before the horns on the beast can eat her flesh and burn her with fire, or in other words to literally destroy her. Boy, you sure can tell this woman is a harlot because she really gets around...
Whew, did I follow all of this right? I have one more question, this all isn't figurative language is it?
I also did an Internet query on those who stand on the opposite side (who interpret Babylon figuratively). It seems that this has grown to be quite an argument. And there seems to be a lot of scholars in both camps. If Babylon has to be rebuilt before the book of Revelation can be fulfilled then we have lots of time and the end is really far away. I mean after all, we're not just talking about a city being rebuilt here, it also has to grow to a place of social prominence. The reason I started studying the Book of Revelation is because I thought with everything going on in the world today that the end was near. And me being a Christian and all, I thought I better study it and begin to warn people.
A. Indeed, all of the things you attribute to me as teaching are in fact true - these are all things which the Scriptures reveal concerning aspects of Babylon if we survey both Old and New Testament passages. The key to beginning to grasp the importance of Babylon both historically and prophetically is to understand its role in opposition to God beginning with Babel and then disseminated throughout the cultures of the world at the dispersion of peoples following the introduction of languages in Genesis 11. This is why Babylon is said to be the mother of harlots (Rev. 17:5) - she is the originator of global opposition to God which includes all religious movements and philosophies which deny the truth of the gospel. Thus, she plays the role of the ¯city of man¯ in opposition to the ¯city of God.¯ In some ways, you could say that the Bible is a ¯tale of two cities¯ - Babel/Babylon vs. Jerusalem. Although Babylon is portrayed as a corrupting harlot with global and historical influence within the book of Revelation, this does not deny the literal facts of her origin (Babel), influence upon the people of God (carried forward by neo-Babylonia, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome), and what appears to be her role as a literal city at the time of the end. Balancing the spiritual truths of her corrupting influence with the literal prophecies concerning her eventual judgment is the constant balancing act of the would-be interpreter who would seek to do justice to all that Scripture reveals concerning the role of this city in opposition to God. Perhaps the material from the section on Babylon from my Revelation commentary will help answer some of your questions.
Although many interpret the book of Revelation as mere symbolic or figurative language, while recognizing the use of symbols and figures of speech, I do not believe we are free to deny the literal aspects of what John wrote. In relation to Babylon, consider the prophecy given by God through Jeremiah (Jer. 51:59-64) - which was delivered at a specific geographic location. Ask yourself if God can uphold His perfect character if what He pronounced at such a specific location to a specific city - and which has not yet happened in all of recorded history - can be fulfilled ¯symbolically¯ or at some other location on the earth? If it can, then God¯s word can no longer be trusted as He is a God Who equivocates or could even be said to be disingenuous. Of course Scripture makes plain that God is not so.
Since I¯m among those who believe what is stated must be interpreted in line with what is said elsewhere in Scripture - including the meaning the same words have in the Old Testament - I take it to be a literal city occupying the same location with the same name. (This does not deny the related global/historical influence of false religion that went out from the city into all cultures as I discuss in my commentary.) If that is true, as I believe God¯s character together with the many prophecies concerning the destruction of the city require, then some amount of time would be needed beyond our day in order to rebuild the city and for it to become a prominent commercial center prior to the events recorded during the latter part of the tribulation - especially its destruction.
I would challenge the idea that this necessarily means, as you put it, ¯we have lots of time and the end is really far away.¯ Considering how rapidly other major cities have been rebuilt following major destructive events such as war, I think we could be surprised how rapidly such a scenario could possibly develop. Perhaps not within the next 5 years, but given a decade or two this seems quite plausible. Doubly so if rebuilding Babylon were to be adopted as a rallying point, the active global expression of a God-rejecting generation reestablishing that which God originally judged as Babel.
One of the errors every generation of Christians risks is trying to force-fit God¯s prophetic time-table into their own time. This troublesome approach to interpreting the Scriptures has been rightly criticized by some with the disparaging title ¯newspaper exegesis¯ - reading modern newspaper events back into the Scriptures. We need to make proper interpretation of the text of Scripture our foundation rather than our perception of world events and how we think they could be fulfilled, often by twisting or torturing the text to such a degree that prophecies which God has anchored using specific names and locations we assert can find fulfillment in some other location or entity (e.g., the city Babylon is not a city or some other city such as New York, San Francisco, London, etc.). This is turning things on their head by looking for fulfillment where it is not to be found and then reinterpreting the Bible to try and make it fit. One of the problems with taking the city of Babylon in Revelation as figurative or symbolic is that there then becomes no bound on what it is considered to represent. (This is also an effective technique employed by cult leaders who prey on those who are not suitably anchored by the actual meaning of the text.)
How much better to consider the Scriptural principle conveyed by Habakkuk 2:2-3:
Then the LORD answered me and said: ¯Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.¯
Notice that God¯s intent is to reveal (¯make it plain¯ - not mysterious) but that the vision is ¯yet for an appointed time.¯ God, through Habakkuk, tells us in this passage that we need to learn to wait for the appointed time when the prophetic truth will come to pass even though it tarries. It is my view that much prophetic teaching suffers from an unwillingness to wait on God to bring the predicted conditions about. Rather than believing what a passage clearly states, we abandon the clearly communicated details (e.g., a ¯city¯ named ¯Babylon¯) in favor of speculation because we desire to find fulfillment in a time or manner where it is not to be found. But what is this if not the sin of unbelief?
I prefer to follow in the footsteps of earlier interpreters who went out on a limb in claiming that one day Israel would be back in the land as a sovereign nation. At the time they made such predictions it was considered highly implausible, even laughable. Yet these interpreters believed what a straight-forward interpretation of passages in the OT seemed to indicate. Look at the situation now, ever since 1948! In hindsight it seems simple to believe now, but at the time these who held to such an interpretation were in the minority because it was still over the horizon. Yet they had faith in what the text said and also the necessity of taking the text at face value. And so I believe it will be concerning the literal city of Babylon.
Although, as Christians, we should certainly study and attempt to understand all of Scripture, I¯m not motivated to study the book of Revelation because I think the events therein are near. That would mean that I¯m watching for Antichrist rather than Christ. Yet the New Testament teaches that the Church is expectantly waiting for our Lord Jesus at the rapture of the Church and won¯t be present to see the events of the final 7 years prior to His second coming in judgment. The imminence of His arrival (which could occur before I finish writing this sentence) is clearly taught in Scripture. I believe this is by design: His any-moment appearance for the Church is intended to keep our focus on Christ rather than other end-time events.
Regarding the danger of the coming time of tribulation, it seems that we are better served warning people about the dangers of Hell. The tribulation may not come for some time and the worst it can do is lead to death. How much greater the danger unbelievers face every day they continue to reject God¯s offer of reconciliation through Jesus Christ! Day by day their eternal destiny hangs in the balance since unbelievers live each moment one heart-beat away from eternal damnation in Hell. That¯s the real danger we should be warning about!
Each year, I receive many requests to examine the story of those mysterious 'wise men' who traveled so far to worship the new 'King of the Jews.' Who were they? How did they know to watch for a sign in the heavens? How long did they wait for that sign? Where did they come from? (Hint: it's a land that's in the news today.) Why did gentiles come to worship the King of the Jews? How did God use them to preserve the Messiah's life? You'll learn the answers to all of these questions and more this week when I discuss "The Mystery of the Magi."
I pray that God will bless you for your faithful support of Hal Lindsey Media Ministries during 2011. 2012 promises to be even more exciting as the coming of our Savior and Lord draws near. It has caught the attention of Hollywood and the world. Speculation is rampant about the Mayan calendar and other secular prophecies predicting a major world catastrophe in 2012. Please continue to pray for America as she faces some of her darkest days and maybe the most critical election in our nation's history. Also, please continue to believe for God's blessing and provision for "The Hal Lindsey Report."
Don't lose hope. God is still in control and Christmas is a beautiful reminder of His great love for us.
Have a wonderful, blessed, and very MERRY CHRISTMAS!
The headlines going into the Christmas holiday are foreboding. National debt has now topped a record $15,123,841,000,000--that's about $49,263 for every man, woman and child living in the United States. A young couple getting married today is in debt to the federal government at least $98 thousand dollars. The traditional "first kiss" for the returning US Navy ship Oak Hill was between two lesbians as the Navy now must openly allow homosexuals to serve. The White House is about to announce a scientist exchange program between US and China nuclear weapons laboratories similar to the one under President Clinton that resulted in US nuclear secrets boosting China's weapons program.
If ever there were a case that the words of John Jay should be etched on the doorstep of every home, the behavior of Congress and the White House this past year would prove it. Jay, the first Justice of the US Supreme Court, wrote in a letter addressed to Pennsylvania House of Representatives member John Murray, dated October 12, 1816, "Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty, as well as the privilege and interest, of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers." Many a pastor has preached from the pulpit that Christians should not be involved in politics, and this current gaggle of evildoers in public office are the wages of this errant teaching.
There are many who look within the world system and decry that it is impossible to turn things around for the better. Indeed, looking through the eyes of what we know as human beings--the immediate past and present Administrations have driven Americans into unprecedented debt; Constitutional rights have been trampled as if they were never written; enemies have been allowed unchecked entry into our nation for the purpose of colonization; immorality has overcome our nation like thorns on an abandoned farm. But these adversities are no less than those faced by a handful of Pilgrims, or a small group of minutemen, or the brave souls at Normandy, or the disciples after Jesus ascended to heaven.
The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8:31, "What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?" Yes we have drifted as a nation from our Lord, but let us remember the promise in 2 Chronicles 7:14, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." God sent His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. Psalm 103:2 says, "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits." It all starts with Jesus. May your relationship with Him be renewed during this season; that you may be blessed with peace, comfort and strength.
Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
As we look at our world today, we realize that part of the promise of Isaiah 9:6¯7 has not yet been fulfilled. The Son has been given. The Child has been born. But He has not yet taken the government upon His shoulders. We do not yet have peace with judgment and justice. But the good news is that there will come a day when Christ will return. He will establish His kingdom on this earth. And it will be the righteous rule of God himself.
Before Jesus could take the government upon His shoulder, He had to take the cross upon His shoulder. Before He could wear the crown of glory as King of Kings, He had to wear the shameful crown of thorns and give His life as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. The first time, a star marked His arrival. But the next time He comes, the heavens will roll back like a scroll, all of the stars will fall from the sky, and He himself will light it.
Christ came to this earth. God came near to you so you can come near to Him¯to give your life purpose and meaning, to forgive you of your sins, and to give you the hope of heaven beyond the grave. Christmas is not about tinsel or shopping or presents. Christmas is not about the gifts under the tree. Rather, Christmas is about the gift that was given on the tree when Christ died there for our sins and gave us the gift of eternal life.
FROM THE HEART
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¯Folks, it's all beginning to unravel. America is in more danger of falling than at any time in its history. But I believe Bible prophecy predicts this very decline. From this point on, we believers have to get serious. We are going to face discouragement, disillusionment and, most certainly, persecution in the time between now and the Rapture. But don't be discouraged or disillusioned. The coming turmoil will provide us unrivaled opportunities to share the good news of the Gospel. So be ready to share your faith and your hope with those who need Christ. We still have time to reap a great harvest of souls for God's kingdom!¯ ¯ Hal Lindsey
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¯Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.¯ Daniel 9:24. To begin with, it¯s imperative to grasp the meaning behind the term ¯weeks¯ in the above verse. Many times while studying God¯s word we find our English words insufficient to allow a full explanation of the true meaning found in particular scripture verses. For example, in ancient Hebrew ¯weeks¯ refers to a heptadic structure we find throughout the Old and New Testament. Simply put, many times throughout His word God speaks in units of seven. The Hebrew word ¯shabuwa`¯ (weeks in English) is used to describe a period of time. Sometimes it serves to describe a seven day period, but in the text above it is a reference to a week of years.
¯Yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.¯ Daniel 9:21. This verse indicates that God sent the angel Gabriel to Daniel to give him understanding concerning the seventy weeks.
The angel Gabriel is speaking about the future of Israel, and when Gabriel says ¯seventy weeks are determined¯ what he means is seventy sets of seven years are determined on thy people and upon thy holy city. So a total of 490 years will culminate with the fulfillment of all that was spoken of by the angel Gabriel in the verse above. A portion of that verse has already been fulfilled along with 483 of those years.
Seventy weeks are determined. What God means by ¯determined¯ is that His decree to Daniel is indomitable, it is set in stone, and it won¯t be changed or slighted. If we take God at His word, as we should, what the world is going to experience at the end of the seventieth week of Daniel has, in God¯s view, already transpired. Which means these coming events can¯t be altered ¯ they must occur just as Gabriel proclaims.
Upon thy people and upon thy holy city. Here the angel Gabriel is referring to God¯s possessions - the nation of Israel and His Holy City (Jerusalem). The seventy weeks are determined upon these two possessions of God. Conspicuous by its absence in verse 24 is any mention of the still to come Church age. Why? Everything in the verse above refers to Israel and the Holy City, Jerusalem, save one aspect. The one portion of the above verse already fulfilled today is the most important part of the whole verse. Hold on, the explanation is coming.
To finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins. Wow! Have we seen any evidence that an end of transgression and sins has occurred sometime in Israel¯s past? Both transgression and sins continue today just as they have throughout the existence of mankind. Therefore, those who insist that all these prophecies have been fulfilled must live on some utopian planet somewhere apart from planet earth. Why? Because as we wake up from our night¯s sleep to a new day there are always new transgression and sins to face. God says He will ¯finish¯, put a stop to, all of this world¯s transgression and sins, which as we all know has had a long and dismal effect on mankind. The end of all transgression and sins which currently plague us is a specific set date known only to God. What we do know is that elimination point will not come before the end of the prophesied seventy weeks. Sixty-nine of those weeks have passed into history, yet transgression and sins are still in full bloom. By all accounts we see the seventieth week is set to begin very shortly ¯ that is as soon as the Church age, which began at the end of the sixty-ninth week, is brought to a close.
And to make reconciliation for iniquity. This portion of Daniel 9:24 should be fairly obvious to us all. It¯s the only part of that verse that has been fulfilled. Of course we know that all of the prophecies stated by Gabriel in that one verse must be fulfilled. But one of God¯s main goals which was formulated and determined before even one foundation stone was laid in the creation of planet earth, was to reconcile mankind to Him. Our God and Savior has done just that. That reconciliation occurred when Jesus, Israel¯s Messiah, took His preordained position on that cross. Jesus fulfilled that particular prophecy about 2,000 years ago. Reconciliation for iniquity was made, not just for Israel but for the whole of mankind ¯ and Jesus said ¯Τετέλεσται ¯ Paid in Full.¯
So what two important issues have we learned so far? 1) God has promised He will fulfill all the prophecy given to Daniel and that He is by no means through acting on Israel¯s behalf. 2) The reconciliation event that occurred some 2,000 years ago has created a Way for all mankind to join the nation of Israel as partakers of the promised inheritance. Because of Israel¯s rejection of her Messiah we, the Gentile Church, have been grafted into our very own relationship with the Messiah.
And to bring everlasting righteousness. Everlasting righteousness can¯t be afforded to a world where transgression and sins reign supreme. But God¯s promise will come to fruition at the end of Daniel¯s seventieth week when the King of kings reigns supreme.
The mystery of the Church is specific and exclusive in nature. The nation Israel, on a whole, has rejected their Messiah, and that rejection is clearly laid out in Matthew chapter 12 where the Pharisees refer to their Messiah as Satan. That rejection began with Christ¯s first advent when He came as a suffering servant culminating with His death on the cross. At His Second Advent, His return as a conquering Hero and the establishment of His Monarchy will be fulfilled at the end of the seventieth week spoken of above. At which point Jesus Christ, King of kings, will put into effect His concept of a perfect new world order. No matter what some theologians and Bible teachers teach to the contrary, Israel is still God¯s chosen people. God is still very much involved in the affairs of the Nation of Israel. The seventieth week of Daniel, which is still on the horizon, is a period of time in which God will prove to the nations of the world just what the Nation of Israel means to Him. But His Church must be removed first.
¯¯and to seal up the vision and prophecy¯¯ Daniel 9:24b. Then the angel Gabriel tells Daniel the vision and prophecy is to be sealed up. This again points to an end and fulfillment of all biblical prophecy. Currently there are a whole lot of people seeing visions and prophesying about what¯s on the horizon; every day I receive at least one letter from someone who believes they¯ve had a prophetic dream or vision that they believe is foretelling of coming events. ¯And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:¯ Joel 2:28. We can now conclude that God is setting the stage for the finale of human history which will culminate in everlasting righteousness replacing transgression and sin as Jesus the Christ takes the helm of planet earth as her King. There will be no further need of visions or prophecy in the Kingdom to come as everything will have been fulfilled. Therefore at the end of the seventieth week of Daniel, God will seal up vision and prophecy and make an end of them. There will be no more false prophets or wannabe gods attempting to lead the masses astray.
And to anoint the most Holy. God¯s Temple will be the most Holy place on earth. Again, all prophecy must be fulfilled just as the Bible teaches. God¯s Holy Temple is not even built yet, therefore this portion of the prophecy is still a future event. God can¯t anoint His most Holy place until it¯s built. This is another point in a long line of scripture verses which are simply dismissed by the Amillennialist (Preterist) crowd. As God anoints His Holy Temple and puts an end to all forms of unrighteousness, all transgression, and all sins, what comes into perfect view here is not only the act of committing transgression which will be dealt that God-ordained final blow, but all guilt associated with any and all of those unholy and unrighteous rebellious acts will be eliminated.
It¯s important to understand that there has been a gap period between the end of the sixty-ninth week of Daniel and the beginning of the seventieth week. This gap of time has now lasted for almost 2,000 years, and during this time God has been devoted to the establishment of His Church. This phenomenal Church growth witnessed by the world for the past 2,000 years will soon be coming to a screeching halt. The Church has been God¯s focus, but all of that is about to change. Here in the 24th verse of Daniel chapter 9 we see that God¯s focus is primarily on His people Israel and on His Holy City, Jerusalem.
As a nation Israel is still in rebellion to God, but that will change in the middle of the seventieth week as the abomination of desolation is revealed. ¯When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet¯¯ Matthew 24:15a. The abomination of desolation will mark the beginning of the Great Tribulation (note I didn¯t say the beginning of the seventieth week) in which the Nation of Israel will be fully engulfed. At this point Israel will come to realize the man they¯ve been so enamored with for the previous three and one half years was actually Satan himself. Then they will begin to call on the Name that is above all names ¯ the Name of their ¯mashiyach nagiyd¯(Messiah the King) ¯ which is Jesus the Christ.
Prior to Daniel¯s seventieth week, at a specific God-ordained point on His established timeline, His Church will be complete. At that precise point in time, Jesus will remove every born again believer from the face of this planet. There will not be any remnant of Christ¯s Church remaining on earth as God once again focuses specifically on His chosen people, Israel. God will still accomplish all of His goals presented to Daniel by the angel Gabriel according to His plan and for His glory. But we, the Church, can be fully assured that that final week will not involve the body of Christ, until the end when we will come back with our Lord in His glory. ¯¯and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful.¯ Revelation 17:14b.
God bless you all,
All scripture is from the KJV and God breathed
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Maranatha! (Lord Come Quickly)
"On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand, All other ground is sinking sand."
"Let Us make the short time we have left count for all eternity!"