Rich or Poor?
by Eric Rank
Are you rich, or are you poor? Does your answer change depending on the person asking the question? What kind of criteria do you use to measure your level of wealth? Do you count the sum of the value of your possessions? Do you count the number of cars you own, or the square footage of your home? Or do you count something else?
No matter what the criteria, when we answer the question of whether we are rich or poor, we base it on some evaluation of what we have or what we do not have. The United States of America, by measure of gross domestic product, is the richest country in the world. One might think that such a country would not have problems paying its bills. However, in the Current Events today, we read about the grim reality that without drastic measures, this country will fail to make payments on its loans in the coming weeks.
How can such a prosperous and powerful country fall so dramatically into a state of massive financial delinquency? Stated differently, how can a country so rich be so poor? While the passage does not strictly apply to the debt crisis of the United States, Revelation 3:17-18 explains a similar paradox. Speaking of the Laodiceans, Christ says: “‘Because you say, “I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing” — and do not know that you are wretched, poor, blind and naked — I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich…’”
In this example, placed in the Bible for us, we learn that carnal pride in material success is a direct cause of true poverty. The only way to become truly rich is by working towards perfection, following the righteous instructions of God. Quite simply, we become poor when we turn from God. When we place our hearts and confidence in the material wealth we might accumulate, rather than what is spiritually important, we are investing in worthless assets. God instructs us to lay up treasures in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21), and not to invest in things which perish (John 6:27), placing value in the things of this world, which have no real and lasting value.
If turning away from God causes us to be poor, what happens when we do the opposite? How do we change when we turn our ways towards God? The answer is just as simple. When we fear the LORD, we prosper (compare Psalm 25:12-13). The eternal life and rewards written about in the Bible are the goals we should be working for. This is only attainable through faith and obedience, and bearing fruit with the talents that we have been provided (compare Matthew 25:14-30).
The Bible clearly states that material goods and worldly possessions are of no ultimate value, and that a heart working to overcome the world through God’s faith, righteousness and Godly obedience produces true profit. With the Holy Spirit of God, the greatest investment known to man has been placed in our possession. With this in mind, I’ll ask you one last question: How does it feel to be rich?
We start reporting on the ongoing discussions pertaining to the US debt crisis, which has placed the USA in a very bad light across Europe. German papers don’t seem to differentiate between Republicans, Democrats or the Obama Administration, placing blame on all of them for playing with fire.
On the other hand, some Americans point out that President Obama’s threat to withhold social security payments appears to be tantamount to an idle and highly inappropriate threat.
A stunning article by the British paper, Express, predicts that a European anti-democratic superpower will be established very soon, while Britain won’t be part of it. At the same time, voices are being heard advocating Pope John Paul II to become the religious patron of a united Europe.
Celebrations occurred this week in Germany, remembering the failed attempt to kill Adolf Hitler. And in a seeming paradox, the right-wing anti-Muslim Austrian FPÖ party is engaged in activities and mediations in authoritarian Muslim countries, such as Libya and Syria; while the British media scandal widens and widens…
We report on famine in Somalia, and our last article reports on surprising topographic consequences of powerful earthquakes… and the Bible predicts that the past is just a small foretaste of what the future will bring.
This Week in the News
Is USA Holding World Hostage?
Der Spiegel Online wrote on July 15:
“With no solution to the US debt crisis in sight, the rest of the world is starting to get nervous. German commentators urge congressional leaders to get their act together. A US default would have catastrophic consequences, they warn… This time it is the United States, the world’s largest economy, that is at risk of going bust.
“The US needs to raise its debt ceiling, currently set at $14.3 trillion (€10.1 trillion), by Aug. 2, otherwise the country will run out of money. But negotiations between President Barack Obama and top Republicans and Democrats have so far failed to make progress… Financial markets, which have previously viewed the negotiations with calm, are beginning to get nervous amid fears that Republicans and Democrats may be unable to reach an agreement by Aug. 2. Any default on the part of the US could have incalculable effects on global financial markets and could hurt the fragile recovery in the US…
“The center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes: ‘… A US default and a lower credit rating would … send stock prices through the floor and could choke off America’s economic recovery — with global repercussions. The politicians in Washington are playing with fire…’
“The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes: ‘…Nobody can imagine what the repercussions might be if the unthinkable happens and the US is suddenly no longer a safe haven for investors. Anything is possible, from a small, barely perceptible amount of turbulence in the financial markets to a global panic. Congress should think carefully about what it is doing.’
“The conservative Die Welt writes: ‘In this period of competing debt crises, America and Europe are looking at each other in amazement, with each side understanding less and less about what is happening on the other side of the Atlantic. While Europe’s chaos is obvious to the Europeans and the rest of the world, there are few signs of self-doubt or self-awareness in the US. In the middle of the poker game between the two political parties to prevent a national default on Aug. 2, polls show that 77 percent of Americans believe that they live in the world’s greatest system of government. Just as many are convinced that life is only worth living as an American…’
“The business daily Handelsblatt writes: ‘Washington still considers a default to be unimaginable. Obama does not want to go down in history as the president who bankrupted America, so the only alternative is another unsavory deal… The debt limit will be raised again just before the impending volcanic eruption, exacerbating the problem and postponing an attempt to solve the problem (of the US’s enormous debt) to the next, not too distant deadline. Investors are also counting on this scenario. That is the only explanation for the relative calm on the market for US government bonds. That will change if the European Union crisis countries manage to sort out their finances, while the US continues with its debt delusions…’
“The mass-circulation Bild writes: ‘Playing poker is part of politics, as is theatrical posturing. That’s fair enough. But what America is currently exhibiting is the worst kind of absurd theatrics. And the whole world is being held hostage. Irrespective of what the correct fiscal and economic policy should be for the most powerful country on earth, it’s simply not possible to stop taking on new debt overnight. Most importantly, the Republicans have turned a dispute over a technicality into a religious war, which no longer has any relation to a reasonable dispute between the elected government and the opposition. If it continues like this, the US will be bankrupt within a few days. It would cause a global shockwave like the one which followed the Lehman bankruptcy in 2008, which triggered the worst economic crisis since the war. Except it would be much worse than the Lehman bankruptcy. The political climate in the US has been poisoned to a degree that is hard for us (Germans) to imagine. But we should all fear the consequences.’”
Europe’s anger towards the USA intensifies. Even though it may not realize it yet, self-confident America is no longer in a position to just ignore the rest of the world. The Bible says that it will pay deeply for its pride and haughtiness.
Read and Weep
CNN Money wrote on July 20:
“Hoping Aug. 2 will come and go uneventfully? Read Wednesday’s comments from Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser and weep. Plosser… says the Federal Reserve is gearing up for a possible U.S. default should the loons in Congress fail to raise the debt ceiling. He stresses… that he isn’t predicting this baleful outcome, but he doesn’t underplay how quickly a default might spin out of control. The Fed, after all, is the government’s clearing bank. The process of deciding which checks to honor and which to bounce sounds a bit daunting, considering the scale of the government’s checkbook…
“There is also the question of whether the Fed, or anyone else for that matter, will continue treating Treasury debt as acceptable as collateral for loans backing all manner of things – Fed loans, brokerage accounts, you name it… The discussion at the Fed… highlights the possibility, however slim, that financial markets could utterly break down, and take the economy down with them, as lenders decide to shun government bonds as collateral till the U.S. budget debacle is cleared up. That means no lending, more or less. The credit crunch after the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy would seem like a fond memory after the economic plunge that would follow a mass rejection of Treasury debt as collateral. Those are among the ‘catastrophic’ effects Ben Bernanke has noted now and again, and if Plosser doesn’t go quite that far he doesn’t exactly do anything to put the mind at ease, either.”
Newsmax reported on July 17:
“GOP leaders simply need to look at history to realize why they must reject Democratic pleas for tax hikes and focus on spending cuts to reduce the deficit, Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert tells Newsmax.TV in an exclusive interview… President Barack Obama wants a deal that will not include any spending cuts at all until after the next election. And that means they will never happen, Gohmert said… ‘After 1986, that tax reform that Reagan did – he was promised all kinds of tax cuts in return for what was done to the tax code. Well the cuts didn’t come,’ said Gohmert…
“Gohmert also said the president’s claim that Social Security payments may not be made after the Treasury’s Aug. 2 deadline for an agreement on raising the debt ceiling was bogus. ‘The fact is there’s $2.6 trillion in Treasury notes in the Social Security trust fund,’ he said. ‘There is enough money to pay every social security check for at least three years.’ And he said the seniors should stop worrying that they will not be getting their checks, as non-payment would be illegal…”
This position seems to be correct. The scare tactics might or might not work… but it’s a very dangerous play with fire. According to Republican Presidential candidate Ron Paul, the USA will default in any event as “the debt is unsustainable,” as Real Clear Politics reported on July 19.
Obama’s Long Term Birth Certificate a Forgery?
WorldNetDaily wrote on July 17:
“Unless the typewriter used to type Barack Obama’s purported Hawaiian ‘Certificate of Live Birth’ in 1961 was magically capable of producing different size and shaped images with the exact same key, the document released by the White House April 27 is a forgery, says a professional typographer with 50 years experience. ‘Steel-stamped letters do not expand to larger sizes and morph into different styles of type,’ retired New York City typographer Paul Irey told WND… it would be impossible for the different letters that appear in the Obama birth certificate to have been typed by one typewriter, according to Irey.
“‘These are irrefutable proofs of forgery,’ he said. His newest analysis suggests the document was assembled from images of letters or words taken from other documents. ‘The forger who produced the Obama Hawaii long-form birth certificate may have thought that all typewriter typeface styles were alike,’ he said. ‘To get his letters, the forger must have understood that he needed to copy the old typewriter styles,’ he continued. ‘So the forger probably scanned a bunch of old birth certificates, without realizing that the letters in the old files were from different typewriter styles. That’s why the letters in the forged document do not match each other.’”
America’s Era in Space Ends…
The Telegraph wrote on July 21:
“I’ve been gripped by the Nasa feed of the last space shuttle returning to earth… At one level, it is easy to wonder quite why $180 billion has been spent on keeping an out-of-date white elephant in the air. But a few weeks ago when Prof Brian Cox gave a show-stopper of a lecture at Hay in which he included a picture of the distant speck of Earth taken by Voyager from the edge of the solar system, I was reminded of the irresistible attraction of this greatest of human adventures.
“… the manned space flight programme was a way for the US to assert its confidence and demonstrate its will to do anything required to be number one… with the idea of American exceptionalism under review and the US losing its mojo, we should not underestimate the capacity for this moment to be a blow to American morale.”
Is Mormonism Christian?
The Washington Post wrote on July 18:
“A Fox News host said Sunday that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is ‘obviously not … a Christian,’ a view that, if widely held, may have repercussions for the Mormon candidate’s election odds…
“The question of whether or not Mormons are considered ‘Christians’ is sensitive and controversial… About one in five Republicans, or 18 percent, said they would not vote for a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. … About the same proportion of independents said they would oppose a Mormon, while a larger number of Democrats, about 27 percent, said they were opposed, according to the poll.
“Catholic and Protestant churches believe that Mormons errantly revere the Book of Mormon and the teachings of LDS leaders and prophets such as Joseph Smith. To non-Mormons, the Latter-day Saint revelations are extra-biblical, even heretical, though in recent months a number of prominent Christian leaders and thinkers have defended Mormonism’s values…”
Powerful Europe Without Britain
The British paper, Express, wrote on July 13:
“First for the rather dramatic bad news: a United States of Europe will come into being by the end of the year, perhaps even by the end of the summer. Now for the good news: Britain won’t be part of it…. A rational response would be to allow all these countries to re-establish their former currencies and let devaluation shrink their debts and kickstart growth. But there is an iron will among the Eurocrats not to let that happen because if it does then the dream of a federal Europe will be gone forever.
“So in Brussels and Berlin and Paris work is already proceeding apace on a plan to solve the failure of partial economic integration (monetary union) by leaping into full integration (fiscal union). Fiscal union will mean centrally imposed public spending controls and, crucially, the acceptance that the treasuries of all eurozone countries will have ultimate liability for each other’s debts…
“But the cost in terms of lost democracy would be enormous… Their democracies will be hollowed out as all important economic decisions will require the consent of unelected officials in Brussels or Frankfurt (where the European Central Bank is based) with no recourse to domestic opinion…
“To convince German public opinion to take on this new guarantor duty, Germany will have to become the dominant force behind monetary and fiscal policy throughout the eurozone. It will, however reluctantly, have gained greater European domination through financial measures [than] it ever [has gained] by force of arms…
“… if the eurozone creates a United States of Europe while we obtain more independence from Brussels, then what argument can there be against Britain leaving the European Union altogether?… Our EU membership will be rendered almost meaningless by a wholly integrated core from which we are mercifully excluded… As our political class desperately resists demands for a referendum on departing from the EU, a startling new possibility is emerging: that well before we see Britain leaving Europe, we are going to see much of Europe leaving Britain.”
This article is almost prophetic. And it finds support in other publications. Die Welt wrote on July 17: “The Euro is not dead. It has a constructional mistake, which must be corrected. The monetary union has to become a fiscal union…” The Bible shows that an autocratic super power—the United States of Europe—will emerge, and all indications are that Great Britain won’t be part of it; in fact, core Europe will become very hostile towards it.
Britain Again the Odd Man Out
The EUObserver wrote on July 19:
“British foreign minister William Hague on Monday (18 July) said his country would ‘never’ agree to the idea of a single EU military headquarters to replace the command centres scattered around five member states… Ashton said that the British rebuke ‘did not come as a surprise to me. This is the same position as the previous British government,’ she explained…
“Initially a French pet project, the idea of establishing a single operational headquarters was written into the Ashton report as part of ‘different options’ being explored by ‘most member states’ on how to make the bloc’s common and foreign security policy more effective… Asked if she will now bin the plan of having a single command structure, Ashton said: ‘We continue to explore what we might be able to do, but I am conscious you can’t do much when unanimity of member states is required’…
“Commenting on the ‘excellent’ proposal, French minister Alain Juppe said it was a pity the British government did not show more flexibility. ‘A very large majority was in favour of the proposal of an EU military headquarters, pushed by the “Weimar countries,”’ he said, in reference to Poland, France and Germany. The single headquarters system would replace the current command structure which sees the EU military missions run out of national centres in Britain, France, Germany, Greece and Italy.”
We would predict that such a single European military headquarters will be established—at the latest, after Great Britain has exited the EU.
Euro Rises, Gold Falls
Reuters reported on July 21:
“World stocks and the euro rose on Thursday after news of a plan to use the European bailout fund to make cheap loans to Greece and other heavily indebted governments in the euro zone. The new proposal from a summit of European leaders in Brussels reduced fears the debt crisis would spread to other euro zone countries and led traders to cut holdings of gold and U.S. and German government bonds.
“The European Financial Stability Facility, the zone’s bailout fund, will provide loans to Greece, Ireland and Portugal at a lower interest rate and for longer maturities, according to draft summit conclusions seen by Reuters.
“In the currency market, the euro rose to a two-week high. It gained 1.1 percent to $1.4367, erasing losses. While stocks and the euro rose, gold and U.S. and German government bond prices fell.”
Pope John Paul II to Become Patron of United Europe?
Zenit reported on July 13:
“‘Blinded by progress and well-being, the men of today are only interested in material goods and forget God, or live as if he didn’t exist,’ the archbishop [Dominique Mamberti] said. He recommended taking inspiration from the example of St. Benedict, patron of Europe… Hanna Suchocka, Polish ambassador to the Holy See… expressed the wish that the Polish Pope [“Blessed John Paul II”] will be considered by all as the ‘patron of a united Europe able to breathe fully with her two lungs.’”
The religious aspect of the unification of Europe must not be overlooked. The Bible shows that religion will play a tremendously important role in the formation of the United States of Europe.
The Failed Attempt to Kill Hitler
Deutsche Welle reported on July 20, 2011:
“On July 20, 1944, Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, an aristocratic colonel in the Nazi army, took the fate of the German people into his own hands. Increasingly disillusioned with Hitler’s campaign in the war, Stauffenberg and numerous other co-conspirators within the German military, including Friedrich Olbricht and Henning von Tresckow, plotted to assassinate the dictator and seize the reins of power. Shortly after noon on a hot summer day, Stauffenberg smuggled an explosives-filled briefcase into a meeting at Hitler’s ‘Wolf’s Lair’ hideaway (in what is today Poland), where the dictator was seated around a large wooden table with 22 other Nazi officials.
“Stauffenberg placed the briefcase under the table, made an excuse to leave, and watched the explosion from afar as he raced towards his getaway car. Confident he had completed his mission and an impending coup would soon place him and like-minded co-conspirators in power, Stauffenberg made haste to return to Berlin. But, in what is largely viewed as one of the greatest tragedies in history, things did not work out that way. Miraculously, Hitler survived the blast that killed four others, and the opposition’s poor planning, lack of support and hesitation at crucial moments played into the Führer’s hands. By midnight – just twelve hours later – Hitler had regained the upper hand and squashed the rebellion. Stauffenberg and three others were executed by firing squad in Berlin. In the coming weeks, an additional 140 people implicated in the plot were killed and more than 5,000 conspirators and political opponents were rounded-up.
“Had Stauffenberg been successful, the final phase of the war would certainly have gone differently. The fact remains that more people died between the July assassination attempt and the end of the war than in the four-and-a-half years prior to that. Few doubt that Hitler’s demise would not have seriously affected the German army’s ability to go on fighting, if not ended hostilities sooner and saved thousands of lives. Yet, Stauffenberg’s place in history as a hero of the German resistance has not been so easily established.
“In the initial decade after the end of the war, the German public largely viewed him as a traitor. His wife was denied a pension, and no memorials were erected to mark the bravery of those within Hitler’s own military establishment who risked their lives to set the country on a different course. In the 1960’s, as a younger generation of Germans confronted their parents over their country’s Nazi past, Stauffenberg was not necessarily rehabilitated into an honorable symbol of the German resistance. Some were suspicious of his motives, accusing him of acting more out of self-interest, and less out of benevolent concern for the plight of the Jews and other victims of Nazi war crimes…
“But as the 60th anniversary of the assassination attempt approached, a number of new films, documentaries and books enlivened the debate and once again drew attention to Stauffenberg and his band of subversives… According to Johannes Tuchel, Director of the German Resistance Memorial Center in Berlin, most Germans were – implicitly, at least – Hitler supporters… The German Resistance Memorial Center in Berlin features exhibitions on Stauffenberg, as well as others like the ‘White Rose’ student movement which sprung up in Munich. But Tuchel is careful not to exaggerate the size of the resistance, pointing out that Hitler’s opponents – those willing to take action – were always in the minority… ”
The somewhat misunderstood role of Adolf Hitler is explained in our free booklet, “Europe in Prophecy.”
Austria’s Right-Wing Party Intervenes in Libya and Syria
Der Spiegel Online reported on July 15:
“An emissary of the right-wing populist Austrian Freedom Party [FPÖ] is currently in Libya at the invitation of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. The relationship between the party and the dictator has a history… The FPÖ, one of several right-wing populist parties gaining in popularity across Europe, is viewed with distaste by many for its strident opposition to Austria’s Muslim immigrant population. The party is also deeply skeptical of the European Union and efforts to prop up the common currency… But it is also no secret that Strache’s party has long had close ties to the Gadhafi clan…
“In a conversation with SPIEGEL ONLINE, Strache insisted that ‘we are not interested in pushing ourselves into the limelight. We have contacts in this region and we are happy to be of help.’ But with his party neck and neck with Austria’s center-left Social Democrats at the top of opinion polls, evidence of the FPÖ’s ability to play a role on the international stage certainly wouldn’t hurt ahead of 2013 general elections.
“Furthermore, the party has something of a tradition of pushing for a role in mediating international conflicts, particularly in North Africa and the Middle East. In 2002, [former FPÖ leader Joerg] Haider made headlines by flying to Iraq for a controversial visit with dictator Saddam Hussein. In the same year, Haider founded the Austrian-Libyan Society… in the hopes that it could contribute to the Middle East peace process. He also pushed his way into negotiations surrounding the 2007 release of five Bulgarian nurses who had been arrested in Libya years earlier…
“The FPÖ’s mediation endeavors this year have not been limited to…Tripoli. With pro-democracy protests in Syria having turned bloody in recent months, Strache and other FPÖ leaders have become active there too. In May, a group of opposition leaders travelled to Vienna at Strache’s invitation. Efforts at becoming involved in negotiations there are ongoing. ‘We are engaged in intensive discussions to see how we can be of use as mediators in Syria,’ Strache said.”
This is quite a remarkable revelation. A right-wing anti-Muslim Austrian party which was looked upon as destined to die after Joerg Haider’s death seems to exert quite some influence in unstable authoritarian Muslim countries such as Libya and Syria.
“Turkey Can Never Be an Equal Partner in the EU”
Der Spiegel Online wrote on July 20:
“The ongoing dispute over divided Cyprus may escalate problems between Turkey and the European Union after Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan threatened to freeze EU relations when the Greek Cypriots take on the rotating presidency in 2012. The move only serves to further disqualify Turkey’s plans to join the EU, German conservatives say…
“Turkey’s threats may seem hollow when it comes to the process of joining the EU. Negotiations have been stalled for some time, with no real movement in more than a year. The country formally began talks to join the EU in 2005, but key members have major reservations about accepting the Muslim-majority nation. Germany is among the countries skeptical of Turkey’s EU qualifications, and conservatives in the southern state of Bavaria were quick to accept Turkey’s threat, saying it showed the country was not ready for membership anyway.
“‘Those who refuse to hold talks with a member state are snubbing the entire EU,’ said Stefan Müller, a senior member of the conservative Christian Social Union (CSU), the Bavarian sister party to Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union. Erdogan has proven that ‘he doesn’t shy away from attempts at blackmail in the interest of political power,’ Müller told the daily Rheinische Post. He said that fact further disqualifies Turkey’s plans to join the bloc. ‘They can never be an equal partner in the EU,’ he said.”
Britain’s Media Scandal Widens and Widens…
The Washington Post reported on July 18:
“Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday faced a deepening political crisis over his relationships with tainted figures in Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, with the British leader cutting short an official visit to Africa in an attempt to staunch the escalating fallout of the phone hacking scandal at home…
“One day after the head of Scotland Yard resigned, one of his key deputies, the embattled John Yates, followed suit, with calls growing for a broader house cleaning at the 51,000-member police force. Another power player claimed by the scandal [is] Rebekah Brooks, a former top Murdoch executive who was arrested Sunday and released on bail after nine hours of questioning…
“On Monday, Ed Miliband, head of the opposition Labor Party, stopped short of directly calling for the prime minister to resign. But he insisted the questions swirling around Cameron had left him ‘unable to provide the leadership the country needs.’ He again called on Cameron — who was forced to call a special session of Parliament for Wednesday to address the scandal — to more fully explain his decision to fill the job of communication director at No. 10 Downing Street with Andy Coulson, the former editor of Murdoch’s now-shuttered News of the World. Coulson, who resigned in January as the scandal intensified, was arrested last week in connection with illicit news-gathering.
“In another development Monday, the Guardian newspaper reported that Sean Hoare, a former reporter for News Corp. papers who first alleged that Coulson was aware of phone hacking by his staff, had been found dead. Police said the death of the man identified by the paper as Hoare was ‘not thought to be suspicious,’ the Guardian said…”
In the light and context of Britain’s widening scandal, the allegation of the police that the death of the involved reporter is not suspicious, appears to be very suspicious.
On July 20, 2011, Der Spiegel wrote:
“‘The most humble day of my career.’ That was how media mogul Rupert Murdoch described his appearance before the British House of Commons’ media committee on Tuesday… The 80-year-old CEO of News Corp seemed confused and overwhelmed at times during the grueling hearing, which lasted around three hours, but refused to accept any responsibility for wrongdoing…
“The Financial Times Deutschland writes: ‘…the powerful media tycoon, who politicians had sought to woo for years, had to make a humiliating appearance on the politicians’ home turf. It was the politicians who were now dictating the rules to the man who had dictated the rules for decades… It would be wrong to believe that Britain made a big step forward in dealing with the scandal on Tuesday. In that respect, the country is still just at the beginning.’
“The center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes: ‘… The sleaze is so widespread that even high-ranking police officers have had to resign. Even Prime Minister Cameron, who apparently was not always in full possession of his senses when it came to choosing his associates, is facing calls for his resignation’…
“The business daily Handelsblatt writes: ‘… News Corporation is the world’s second largest media group. But Murdoch’s life’s work can only survive if he goes.’”
For more information and an in-depth analysis of the biblical reasons for this mess, please view our latest StandingWatch program, “Britain’s Watergate Scandal…Why?”. Please also note the next article.
“Is Britain More Corrupt Than It Thinks?”
Reuters reported on July 20:
“Britons love to lecture the world about integrity and the rule of law, but the News of the World phone hacking scandal has laid bare a web of collusion between money, power, media and the police. Far from the innocent, upright democracy of its self-image, Britain is showing a seamy side that anti-corruption campaigners say is getting worse and may be politically explosive as society becomes more unequal due to the financial and economic crises… London offers a haven for oligarchs and despots, a place where foreign media magnates have bought access to and influence over the government.
“The scandal engulfing Rupert Murdoch’s media empire has already destroyed a newspaper, cost two top police officers their jobs, seen the arrest of powerful media figures and embarrassed the prime minister and political elite. But it points to a bigger problem in British society — overly cozy relationships among elites that are ethically dangerous, even when they do not involve outright criminality…
“When power elites in the Middle East looked for somewhere to send their money during the ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings this year, wealth managers told Reuters London was the prime beneficiary. Much may have been legitimately earned, some almost certainly not… John Bassett… a senior fellow at the Royal United Services Institute… says that coming after the financial and economic crises the hacking scandal ‘has revitalized the narrative of a corrupt elite. The long-term result is likely to be a further erosion in the credibility of the British establishment, particularly the media and police, in the eyes of citizens.’”
Famine in Somalia
On July 20, BBC News wrote:
“The United Nations has declared a famine in two areas of southern Somalia as the region suffers the worst drought in more than half a century… It is the first time that the country has seen famine in 19 years… An estimated 10 million people have been affected in East Africa by the worst drought in more than half a century. More than 166,000 desperate Somalis are estimated to have fled their country to neighbouring Kenya or Ethiopia… Drought, conflict and poverty have now combined to produce the necessary conditions for famine. Those conditions include more than 30% of children being acutely malnourished, and four children out of every 10,000 dying daily.
“‘Across the country nearly half of the Somali population – 3.7 million people – are now in crisis, of whom an estimated 2.8 million people are in the south,’ said a statement by the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs for Somalia…
“In a separate development, Amnesty International says children in Somalia are being systematically recruited as child soldiers by militant groups such as al-Shabab.”
In an accompanying article, BBC News wrote on July 20:
“Most major aid agencies… only describe a crisis as a famine when the situation on the ground reaches level five on the Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) system. This means: at least 20% of the population has access to fewer than 2,100 kilocalories of food a day; acute malnutrition in more than 30% of children; two deaths per 10,000 people, or four child deaths per 10,000 children every day.
“It is usually up to governments to declare a famine. But in the case of Somalia, the UN stepped in because of the lack of central government… The word famine is politically contentious, and governments also shy away from using it. Ireland, Russia and Ethiopia have at various times struggled to move away from their image as famine-ravaged countries…”
Earthquakes Make Rivers and Lakes Disappear or “Create” New Ones
Yahoo News reported on July 14:
“Following a series of moderate earthquakes that struck the country Tuesday, residents around the Guacalito River in Costa Rica discovered that the river had disappeared. Earthquake-report.com reported that sometime after the earthquakes, villagers living near the river, which is located near Armenia de Upala, discovered that the river was dry… An entire body of water disappears? Strange but true, and this isn’t the first time this odd event has happened…
“Most recently… an entire reservoir in Huntsbury, New Zealand, that was filled with 36 million liters of water disappeared following a 6.3 magnitude earthquake. The reservoir water disappeared after the earthquake struck Christchurch Feb. 22. A body of water disappearing is not unusual, nor is it unheard of for an earthquake to change the shape and form of bodies of water. There have also been numerous examples of seismic activity creating new bodies of water.
“In 1959, the largest earthquake to strike Montana — a 7.3 magnitude temblor — caused a landslide to dam the Madison River just below Hebgen Dam, thus creating a new body of water that became Hebgen Dam, or ‘Quake Lake.’ The historic New Madrid earthquakes in the central United States created a lake in northwestern Tennessee in 1812. Reelfoot Lake was formed during the Feb. 7, 1812, earthquake that was one of several to strike the region during the winter of 1811 and 1812. That earthquake, which is estimated to have been at least 7.0 in magnitude or higher, caused subsidence along the Reelfoot River, dropping a 13,000 acre area of land between 4 and 19 feet. This area filled with water to become Reelfoot Lake.”
The Bible prophesies that mighty earthquakes will have tremendous effects on the topography of our earth; compare, for just one of many examples, Revelation 16:18-21.
Muslims believe that a “Mahdi” will come to bring peace to this earth. Does the Bible indicate the coming of a “Mahdi” as well?
There are different schools of thought in the “Christian” world that seem to teach that a powerful and influential Muslim person will claim in the end time to be the Mahdi, trying to unify much of the Muslim and Arab world under his leadership. Some claim that the king of the South, mentioned in Daniel 11, will be that person; others claim that the “beast” in the book of Revelation, whom they very often mislabel as the “Antichrist,” will be that Mahdi.
Before discussing what the Bible says on that issue, let us review how the Muslim world looks at the Mahdi whom they expect to appear (Over the centuries, many have claimed to be the Mahdi, but so far, nobody [with one possible exception, see below] has been accepted by the Muslim world as the end-time Mahdi—for the obvious reason that nobody has fulfilled the predictions of the Koran, associated with the coming of the final Mahdi).
The Wikipedia Encyclopedia summarizes the Muslim expectations of a future Mahdi, as follows:
“In Sunni and Shia eschatology, the Mahdi (… the “Guided One”) is the prophesied redeemer of Islam who will stay on Earth for seven, nine or nineteen years (according to various interpretations) before the Day of Judgment (… literally, the Day of Resurrection), and, alongside Jesus, will rid the world of wrongdoing, injustice and tyranny…
“The following beliefs concerning the Mahdi are shared by both Sunni and Shia Muslims… The Mahdi will be a descendant of Muhammad of the line of Fatimah… He will have the same name as Muhammad. He will be a forerunner to Jesus’ Islamic Rule. His coming will be accompanied by the raising of a Black Standard [the historical flag flown by Muhammad in Islamic tradition]. His coming will be accompanied by the appearance of the Masih ad-Dajjal (Antichrist). There will be a lunar and solar eclipse within the same month of Ramadan. A star with a luminous tail will rise from the East before the coming of the Mahdi…
“Shia Muslims believe that the Mahdi is Muhammad al-Mahdi, the Twelfth Imam, who was born in 869 CE and was hidden by God at the age of five (874 CE). He is still alive but has been in occultation, ‘awaiting the time that God has decreed for his return’… [He] will return as the Mahdi with ‘a company of his chosen ones,’ and his enemies will be led by the one-eyed Antichrist and the Sufyani. [In an accompanying article, the Wikipedia Encyclopedia explains: “[The] ‘Sufyani’ will be one of many Muslim tyrants that the Mahdi will have to face in the Middle East… he… will spread corruption and mischief on the earth before the Mahdi. He will be such a tyrant that he will kill the children and rip out the bellies of women. The Sufyani will murder those from the household of the Prophet and will rule over Syria. When he hears about the Mahdi, he will send an army to seize and kill him. However the earth will swallow this army before it even reaches the Mahdi.” However, in the somewhat contradictory main article, the encyclopedia continues:] The two armies will fight ‘one final apocalyptic battle’ where the Mahdi and his forces will prevail over evil. After the Mahdi has ruled Earth for a number of years, Isa [Jesus] will return…
“… among the most commonly reported signs that presage the advent of the Mahdi in Shia Islam are the following:
“The Muslims will throw off the reins and take possession of their land, throwing out the authority of the foreigners. There will be a great conflict in the land of Syria, until it is destroyed. Death and fear will afflict the people of Baghdad and Iraq…
“Of those Sunnis that hold to the existence of the Mahdi, some believe the Mahdi will be an ordinary man, born to an ordinary woman. The Prophet Muhammad said: ‘The world will not come to an end until the Arabs are ruled by a man from my family whose name is the same as mine and whose father’s name is the same as my father’s… He will rule for seven or eight years…’
“Among those Islamic scholars who wholly reject the Mahdi doctrine… Sir Muhammad Iqbal wrote: ‘…the concept of the Mahdi… is a completely Iranian… perception. This concept has no link to the Qur’an, Islam and Arabic perceptions…’
“In their book, Al Mahdi and the End of Time, Muhammad ibn Izzat and Muhammad Arif, two well-known Egyptian authors, identify the Mahdi in the Book of Revelation… In one place, they write, ‘I find the Mahdi recorded in the books of the Prophets… For instance, the Book of Revelation says: “And I saw and behold a white horse. He that sat on him […] went forth conquering and to conquer.”’ Ibn Izzat and Arif then go on to say: ‘It is clear that this man is the Mahdi who will ride the white horse and judge by the Qur’an (with justice) and with whom will be men with marks of prostration (zabiba) on their foreheads.’”
In an accompanying article, the Wikipedia Encyclopedia describes “zabiba” as “a prayer bump,” stating, “A prayer bump or prayer scar, also known as a zabiba/zebiba/zebibah (‘raisin’ in Arabic), is a mark on the forehead of a Muslim, apparently due to the friction generated from the contact of the forehead with the prayer mat. Islam generally requires its adherents to pray five times a day (known as salah), which involves kneeling on a prayer mat and touching the ground with one’s forehead. When done for extended periods of time, a prayer bump may develop. Some Muslims may consider the presence of a prayer bump to be a sign of religious dedication and piety.”
Even though much confusion seems to surround the Muslim concept of a future Mahdi, it appears that the overall accepted belief within the Sunni and Shia religion (by those who believe in the coming of a Mahdi) is that he will precede the coming of Jesus; that he will begin to establish the Muslim religion over all the world (although it seems to be unclear whether the universal Muslim religion will be based on the Shia or Sunni interpretations of the Koran); that he will rule the world for at least seven years prior to the “Day of Judgment” or the “Day of Resurrection”; and that Christ, upon His return, will judge and rule the world on the basis of the Koran.
In addition, according to Sunni belief, the Mahdi will fight against the “Antichrist” [the Masih ad-Dajjal] and another Muslim dictator from Syria [the Sufyani], and as a consequence, Syria will be destroyed, and Iraq severely punished.
So that there is no misunderstanding, Jesus is quite differently described in Muslim thought and the Koran, as the Jesus taught in the Holy Scriptures of the Bible. Please note the following comments, quoted from the Wikipedia Encyclopedia, showing the irreconcilable differences between Muslim and Christian beliefs, pertaining to Jesus Christ:
“The belief in Jesus… is required in Islam, and a requirement of being a Muslim. The Qur’an… states that Jesus was born to Mary as the result of virginal conception… Jesus was not crucified but instead, he was raised up by God unto the heavens. This ‘raising’ is understood to mean through bodily ascension… Jesus is considered to have been a Muslim… Islam rejects the… view that Jesus was God incarnate or the son of God, that he was ever crucified or resurrected or that he ever atoned for the sins of mankind… The Qur’an… states that Jesus was created from the act of God’s will. The Qur’an compares this miraculous creation of Jesus with the creation of Adam… Islamic texts categorically deny the idea of crucifixion or death attributed to Jesus by the Bible… there has been unanimous agreement amongst Islamic scholars in denying the crucifixion…
“Muslims believe that Isa (Jesus) will return at a time close to the end of the world… Jesus’ descent will be in the midst of wars fought by the Mahdi… the redeemer of Islam, against the Antichrist… and his followers… Jesus will descend at the point of a white arcade, east of Damascus, dressed in yellow robes – his head anointed. He will then join the Mahdi in his war against the Antichrist. Jesus, considered as a Muslim, will abide by the Islamic teachings. Eventually… there will be one community, that of Islam… After the death of the Mahdi, Jesus will assume leadership… Jesus’ rule is said to be around forty years, after which he will die. Muslims will then… bury him in the city Medina in a grave left vacant beside Muhammad…
“Jesus is described by various means in the Qur’an. The most common reference to Jesus occurs in the form of ‘Ibn Maryam’ (son of Mary), sometimes preceded with another title. Jesus is also recognised as a prophet (nabi) and messenger (rasul) of God… Another title frequently mentioned is al-Masi?, which translates to ‘the Messiah’. This does not correspond to the Christian concept of Messiah, as Islam regards all prophets, including Jesus, to be mortal and without any share in divinity…
“Islamic texts regard Jesus as a righteous messenger of God, and reject the idea of him being God or the begotten Son of God. According to Islamic scriptures, the belief that Jesus is God or [the] Son of God is shirk, or… the sole unpardonable sin…
“Muslims believe that Jesus was a precursor to Muhammad, and that he announced the latter’s coming. They base this on a verse of the Qur’an wherein Jesus speaks of a messenger to appear after him named Ahmad. Islam associates Ahmad with Muhammad… Muslims also assert that evidence of Jesus’ pronouncement is present in the New Testament, citing the mention of the Paraclete whose coming is foretold in the Gospel of John” [There, of course, Jesus speaks of the coming of the Holy Spirit—the “paracletos” or comforter—but Muslims refer this to the coming of Muhammad].
As mentioned, some Christian groups predict the coming of a Muslim Mahdi, who will commence to unify the Arab world. Some even claim that that Mahdi will be the “beast” or the “Antichrist.” They are obviously influenced by the Muslim concept that in the future, the Masih ad-Dajjal (“Antichrist”) and the “Sufyani” (ruling in Syria) will establish themselves as false leaders in the Muslim world. However, from a biblical standpoint, none of these concepts are correct. The beast (many times wrongly referred to as the “Antichrist”) and the false prophet will not be Arabs or powerful persons arising in the Middle East, but they will be military and religious leaders in Europe. Biblically, these leaders will apparently be in power for about three-and-a-half years—not for seven years, as some falsely claim.
The Bible says nothing about a political or religious Arab leader, called the “Mahdi,” who will unite many Muslim nations and attempt to establish the Muslim religion in all the world. This is strictly a Muslim concept, which may be part and parcel of all the other confusing and fanciful inaccuracies that are believed and taught by Muslims, as relating to Jesus Christ, the divine Son of God. (It is interesting that Muslims consider the belief in Christ’s divinity as the sole unpardonable sin, while the Bible forcefully teaches that no one–including Muslims–can inherit salvation and eternal life, unless they believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God and the Savior of mankind.)
Rather than teaching the establishment of the Muslim religion over this world, the Bible says that a powerful religious organization, claiming to be “Christian,” will become a world-ruling power, which will attempt to convert everyone to its main religious doctrines and which will persecute those who refuse to accept its system. It is described in the book of Revelation (chapter 17) as “Babylon” and as a beast with two horns like a lamb, speaking like a dragon (Revelation 13:11).
Some other Christian groups believe that a final king of the South, as spoken of in the book of Daniel, chapter 11, will arise one more time in the Middle East or in Africa, who will “push at” the king of the North—the future military leader of the “Babylonian system” or the final revival of the ancient Roman Empire—the “beast” of the book of Revelation, who is also identified as King Jareb of Assyria (modern Germany). As we pointed out in a previous Q&A on Egypt, it is by no means certain that there will still be a future king of the South, but it is of course possible. As the ninth revival of the ancient Roman Empire, under Mussolini, was comprised of several nations and powers, including Hitler’s Germany, and as the final revival of the king of the North will consist of ten European nations or groups of nations, under Assyrian leadership, so if there is to be a future king of the South, he might very well constitute a coalition of Middle Eastern nations, under Ethiopian leadership (note that previously, the king of the South was King Menelik of Ethiopia, and later, at the time of Benito Mussolini’s occupation of Ethiopia, it was Emperor Haile Selassie).
What needs to be remembered, however, is that Ethiopia is and has been a “Christian” country, having adopted “Christianity” as its official religion, and that a majority of Ethiopians are “Christians.” Only one-third of the population are Muslims. It would be difficult to conceive that if there was a final king of the South, under Ethiopian lead, he would be a Muslim Mahdi, trying to unite Arab and Muslim nations to form a Muslim power bloc. At the same time, it is interesting to note that, according to the Wikipedia Encyclopedia, the late emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, was referred to by some of his supporters as the Mahdi, due to his direct lineage to the prophet Mohammed. Other supporters referred to him as the biblical Messiah. He himself remained an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian throughout his life.
In conclusion, the Bible nowhere says that a Muslim Mahdi will appear in the Middle East or elsewhere, in an attempt to unite Arab and Muslim nations (which would also require healing the long-time animosity between Shias and Sunnis) and to establish a power bloc, ruled by the Muslim religion. Nothing is said in the Bible about the religious identity of a future king of the South (if there still is one), but given the fact that “Christian” Ethiopia would have to play a predominant role in the configuration of a power bloc being led by a future king of the South, it is difficult to imagine that he would be a Muslim Mahdi, who would be accepted by both Shias and Sunnis, trying to unite the Muslim world in an attempt to establish the Muslim faith as the sole accepted religion in all the world.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
A new StandingWatch program was posted on our Web site (www.standingwatch.org) and on YouTube, titled, “Britain’s Watergate Scandal… Why?” The ongoing blagging and hacking scandal surrounding Rupert Murdoch and his British subsidiaries, threatening the very survival of Britain’s power structure, including Prime Minister David Cameron, has shocked the British public and the world. How did we get there, and more importantly, why is it happening? Why are some saying that Great Britain’s entire democratic system is rotten and a farce? How can the Bible help us understand why we are plagued with these kinds of crimes?
A new German sermon was posted on the Web, titled, “Wie Zuverlaessig Ist die Bibel?, Teil 2” [“How Reliable Is the Bible?, Part 2?”]
Please feel free to proceed with making reservations for the Feast of Tabernacles 2011 with the Hilton Garden Inn at 601 James Way, Pismo Beach, CA 93449. When you call under 1-805-773-6020, please make sure that you mention that you are attending the Feast convention of the Church of the Eternal God. Further information is available on our Web site (www.eternalgod.org), under “Feasts.”
Special Mission Part 2
by Bill Koeneke
With regard to my previous Forum and those events in my life, which clearly indicated that I had been predestined and foreknown as one of those whom God would eventually call and in the meantime would protect from the vagaries of time and chance, I offer one additional incident that proves the point.
In 1952 I took a week’s holiday in Bermuda, flying from New York. On the way back I flew on one of BOAC’s Stratacruisers. On the plane were Shirley Temple and her husband (surname Black). I recognized her immediately, but of course she didn’t know me from Adam. Having worked in a cinema for 5 years, I had seen a number of her films. On returning home about halfway to New York, we hit a rather violent storm. The plane was jumping up and down like a yo-yo. Dishes and silverware and some luggage and other things were flying about the cabin. Really quite scary! Suddenly the plane was hit by a bolt of lightning, and the whole inside of the cabin lit up like a fluorescent bulb!! I probably thought, “This is it!” However within ten minutes or so, we plunged through that storm into calmer weather and landed safely in New York. Whew!
On hindsight it has become obvious to me, once again I had been protected from premature death, and for that I offer God my heartfelt thanks for His very special blessing—and so should we all in the face of our individual experiences as we carry out our special mission of doing the Work of God under the cloak of His protective arm.
How This Work is Financed
This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.
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