Prophecy Update Newsletter
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
The Abomination of Desolation - Jack Kinsella -
''And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.'' (Daniel 11:31)
Six hundred years after Daniel, Jesus Christ also made reference to both the 'abomination' and the Prophet who foretold it.
"When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)" (Matthew 24:15)
There are those who argue that, because of Daniel's astonishing accuracy in foretelling the rise and fall of Babylon, Medo-Persia and Alexander the Great's Greek Empire, the Book of Daniel must be a forgery written long after the prophet's death.
Opines the Encyclopedia Brittanica:
"Because its religious ideas do not belong to the 6th century BC, numerous scholars date Daniel in the first half of the 2nd century BC and relate the visions to the persecution of the Jews under Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175-164/163 BC). . . The unknown author may have drawn inspiration from Ugaritic and Phoenician sources that speak of a legendary figure notable for his righteousness and wisdom."
These 'scholars' run into a bit of a problem with their argument, since the Gospels specifically identify Daniel as a prophet. If Daniel wasn't a prophet and if he did not pen the book bearing his name, then it follows that Jesus Christ could not be the Son of God.
It is impossible for Jesus to be Whom He claimed to be and not know whether Daniel was a Divinely inspired prophet or whether Daniel was just the name ascribed to a later work of forgery.
If Jesus is the Son of God, then He is also the One Who makes an appearance in Daniel's narrative. King Nebuchadnezzar demanded that he be worshipped as a god. Three Hebrew captives (and companions to Daniel), Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused.
Nebuchadnezzar ordered the three men thrown into a furnace to be burned alive. Later, he looked in, and then questioned his counsellors:
"Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said unto the king, True, O king."
But there were four figures visible in the flames, and it was Nebuchadnezzar who identified the mystery figure:
"He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God. " (Daniel 3:24-25)
Jesus identified Daniel as a prophet and quoted from the Book of Daniel in His sermon. If Daniel is a forgery, then Jesus could not be anything more than a fraud.
If Jesus is a fraud and Daniel is a forgery, then the Bible isn't worth studying. If it isn't worth studying, then what does that make these 'scholars'? (Hint: see Psalm 53:1)
Jesus trusted Daniel enough to quote him in a sermon. I trust Jesus for my eternal salvation. Logically, I can also trust the Book of Daniel as a Divinely inspired work of God.
Now, what is the 'abomination of desolation' to which Jesus refers? There are two answers -- one from history and the second from prophecy. When Alexander the Great's empire broke up, it resolved into four major kingdoms.
Seleucus was one of Alexander's generals, and came to control the Syrian portion of the empire. Syria was one of the two dominant divisions of the empire, and continued through twenty kings. Antiochus IV was the eighth king of the Selucid Empire.
Antiochus IV had two key passions which are worthy of note, since they bear on the prophecy: He hated the Jews, and he fancied himself a conqueror in the mold of his father, Antiochus III Magnus ("the Great").
In 167 BC, Antiochus Epiphanes raided the Temple, entered into the Holy of Holies and sacrificed a pig on the altar. Of singular importance for our understanding of prophecy is that Antiochus did not destroy any part of the temple.
He did build extra structures, including pagan "enhancements" to the altar of sacrifice. However, none of this can be considered "throw(ing) down" the foundations of the sanctuary.
Jesus referred to the "abomination of desolation" in the context of the signs of His return.
Jesus was not referring to an historical event as the fulfillment of His prophecy, He was providing an example from history of what such an event meant.
The abomination of desolation, therefore, is a future event that involves the desecration of the Holy of Holies in the Jewish Temple.
Jesus is clearly describing events that take place during the Tribulation Period and He is just as clearly addressing the Jews in the last days, and not the Church. He speaks directly to those Jews who will live in Judea (the West Bank) at that time.
"But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For THEN shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be." (Matthew 24:20-21)
Some argue that Jesus is addressing the signs of His return in the last days to the Church, in an effort to support their argument that the Church will be present during the tribulation.
A Jew is not permitted to undertake a journey exceeding 1000 steps on the Sabbath. The Church isn't bound by Sabbath day restrictions.
So why would Jesus warn the Church to 'pray' that the time for flight does not occur on the Sabbath? Applying Jesus' warning to the Church doesn't make sense.
But to a religious Jew, it makes perfect sense.
Jesus divides the Tribulation into two parts, splitting it at the point in which the antichrist replicates the abomination committed by Antiochus Epiphanes.
The Apostle Paul reveals that the antichrist will, in the last days,
"AS GOD, sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God." (2nd Thessalonians 2:4)
Paul provides another important clue that is often overlooked or omitted when trying to find the presence of the Church during the "Time of Jacob's Trouble." (Jeremiah 30:7)
Many critics of a pre-Trib Rapture call the Third Temple the "antichrist's temple." Paul describes the Temple in the last days as "the Temple of God".
The Tribulation is the 70th Week of Daniel. Jeremiah refers to it as the Time of Jacob's Trouble. Jesus warns of persecution that will come on Sabbath-keeping Jews.
Where is the Church? What is the role of the Church during the Tribulation?
To answer that question, we need look at the role of the Church in the Church Age.
"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:" (Matthew 28:19)
But during the Tribulation, the Great Commission is carried out, not by the Church, but by an angel appointed to the task by God.
"And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to PREACH TO THEM THAT DWELL ON THE EARTH, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people. (Revelation 14:6)
If the indwelt Church is present during the Tribulation, why did the Great Commission get passed from the Church to an angel? Again, what is the Church's role during the Tribulation?
Those who argue against a pre-Trib Rapture claim the role of the Church in the last days is to be massacred. To what purpose? To bring the Church to Christ? Clearly not, since by definition, the Church is already Christ's.
Jesus promised the Church in Matthew 16:18 that,
"the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
But we then read in Revelation 13:7
"And it was given unto him (the religious beast) to make war with the saints, and to overcome them."
Which is it? Do we prevail, or does the antichrist? Apart from Dispensationalism, the two statements contradict.
But if the Church Age is over and the Tribulation period is the time of 'Jacob's Trouble' and judgment against 'them that dwell upon the earth' rather than for the Church, then Scriptural harmony is restored.
One can only conclude the Pre-tribulation Rapture scenario is the view that is most harmonious with Scripture, particularly when given the added dimension of actually watching the preparations unfold before our very eyes.
But our faith isn't in WHEN Christ comes, it is in the fact that Christ IS coming soon. And the Rapture Debate is one more evidence of that fact.
Notice that the debate isn't over whether or not the Lord will come in this generation. For most, that is not even an issue.
A century ago, they were debating over whether He was coming at all. Today, we're fighting over His coming within a seven-year time frame.
Regardless of what you believe concerning the timing of the Rapture, the soon coming of the Lord is proved by the fact such a debate exists at all. And no matter what you believe about the timing of the Rapture, and no matter who turns out to be right in the end, the important thing to remember is WHAT we are debating.
The evidence (and logic) both indicate that we are living in the last generation in history. It also indicates that there are people reading my words -- right now -- who will never, ever die in the traditional sense, but will be caught up alive to be with the Lord.
"For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."
If that event is to take place at some point after all the Christians are massacred by the antichrist, then Paul's next words make very little sense:
"Wherefore, comfort one another with these words." (1st Thessalonians 4:16-18)
Palestinians Prepare to Double Down as Israel's 70th Anniversary Approaches - By Jonathan S. Tobin -
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas keeps telling the world what he thinks. The curious thing is not that he makes statements in which he delegitimizes Israel's existence as a "colonial project," as he did in January, or that he called the U.S. ambassador to Israel a "son of a dog," as he did on Monday.
It's why those whose vision of peace requires Abbas to be interested in that concept simply refuse to believe their lying eyes and ears when it comes to what he and his colleagues do and say.
The last contretemps involving Abbas stems from his reaction to a comment on Twitter from U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, in which he noted that the P.A. had not condemned terror attacks on Israelis carried out by Palestinians over the weekend.
Rather than take the opportunity to make it clear that he and his government opposed terror, he instead vented his spleen on Friedman, calling him a "son of a dog" and a "settler."
That Friedman is a longtime supporter of the settlement movement is a sore point with the Palestinians and Jewish left-wingers, but Abbas is clearly not interested in meeting the Trump administration halfway as it prepares to issue a peace plan that's probably not going to please the Jewish right.
To the contrary, Abbas's goal seems to be to burn his bridges with the United States, and with moderate Arab nations like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, which are sick and tired of his rejectionist attitude.
It's easy to focus on the way Trump has reversed President Obama's effort to create more "daylight" between Israel and the United States, and how he has cheered friends of the Jewish state by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
But it's important to remember that Abbas didn't meet Obama halfway either, even as he pushed policies that were clearly aimed at pressuring Israel to make concessions and tilting the diplomatic playing field in the direction of the Palestinians.
Like his predecessor Yasser Arafat, Abbas has said no to peace so many times that we've lost count. Nor is his "son of a dog" comment about a U.S. official the first time he has engaged in insults of this kind. This is the same man who incited the "stabbing intifada" by saying that "stinking Jewish feet" should not be allowed to profane the holy places of Jerusalem.
Instead of taking advantage of the opening Trump is giving him to negotiate--his recent moves didn't preclude a two-state solution or even a redivision of Jerusalem if the parties agreed to it--Abbas is running away from talks of any kind.
Indeed, the Palestinians are gearing up to spend the weeks between now and the 70th anniversary of Israeli independence in May by doubling down on the narrative in which the existence of the Jewish state is a nakba, a "disaster" that must be reversed.
Rather than show President Trump--a man who may still be laboring under the delusion that his masterful negotiating skills will produce the "ultimate deal" for Middle East peace--that he is ready to talk, Abbas and his minions are having none of it.
To the contrary, as Haaretz reports, the P.A. and various Palestinian groups are going to emphasize a campaign of demonstrations that will center on the "right of return" for descendants of the 1948 Arab refugees.
Somehow, this message--delivered in insulting, colorful language by the man who has been proclaimed the "moderate" peace partner, and repeated in official Palestinian media and schools on a daily basis--isn't getting through to those who advocate for U.S. pressure on Israel to allow Abbas to have a state in the West Bank, Gaza and a share of Jerusalem.
The very same day that Abbas responded to Friedman's plea for a Palestinian stand on terrorism with an insult, Ronald S. Lauder, a prominent American Jewish philanthropist once considered a friend and ally of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, penned an op-ed in The New York Times demanding that Israel recommit itself to a two-state solution.
As Stephen Flatow writes, there are arguments against such a stand from a strategic point of view. It is also misleading to claim that a refusal to give the Palestinians a state--something that Israel has repeatedly tried to do in the past, only to be rejected first by Arafat and then by Abbas--is undermining Jewish support for Israel.
The growing distance between the Jewish state and the Diaspora has far more to do with demographic trends involving assimilation than anything Netanyahu is doing.
Lauder and other critics of Israel aren't listening to Abbas. As with so much of the discussion about peace that has been going on in the Jewish world for the last generation about settlements, what remains missing from the debate is what the Palestinians want, as opposed to what the Jews want them to want.
American Jews who long for peace aren't just engaging in wishful thinking about a Palestinian Authority that adamantly refuses to stop subsidizing terrorism. They're also denying agency to the very same Palestinian people whose plight engenders their sympathy.
It's not really important what names Abbas calls Friedman, Trump or Netanyahu. He is an elderly, sick man who thinks protecting his legacy depends on ensuring that he will not be the one who signs a document that concedes defeat in his people's century-old war against Zionism.
Sadly, his potential successors and his Hamas rivals have no more interest in peace than Abbas. Until that changes, those who ignore the Palestinian determination to never make peace with a Jewish state, no matter where its borders might be drawn, aren't helping anyone.
Twin Perils for Israel: Iranian Nuclear Weapons and "Palestine" - By Louis Rene Beres - https://www.breakingisraelnews.com/104523/twin-perils-for-israel-iranian-nuclear-weapons-and-palestine-opinion/#XMTT9vH3Mrs0BQPF.97
Although difficult to calibrate or measure, Iranian nuclearization and Palestinian statehood are likely progressing at roughly the same pace. To be sure, this coincident or near- simultaneous progression is proceeding without any dint of conscious intent or coordinated design. Still, the cumulative security impact upon Israel could sometime prove substantial, even overwhelming.
The whole can be greater than the sum of its parts
World politics is not geometry. Within this most comprehensive sphere of possible human activity, the tangible "whole" of any expected impact could be effectively greater than the simple sum of its myriad "parts." This means, in consideration of any specific Israeli case focus, that such singly unique threats as Iranian nuclear weapons and "Palestine" should also be treated analytically with respect to their foreseeable conjunctions.
Contrary to longstanding conventional wisdom among strategists and military planners, these two converging threats do not present meaningfully separate, discrete or unconnected hazards to Israel. Instead, they portend intersecting, mutually reinforcing and potentially existential perils. Jerusalem, it follows, must do whatever is possible to remove or diminish the correlated dangers on both adversarial fronts and at more-or-less the same time.
There is more. In this collectively "Cartesian" matter, Israel's extended "being" will be contingent upon prior and markedly capable strategic thinking. "It remains true," says F.E. Adcock in his classic The Greek and Macedonian Art of War (1962), "that the highest achievements of the art of war are more to be found in the triumph of mind over mind than in the triumphs of mind over matter." (p. 63) This observation remains true even today, perhaps even especially so, in particular regard to Israeli nuclear deterrence and corollary nuclear war planning.
Active defense and deterrence
For example, among other things, Israel will now need to continuously enhance and fine-tune it's conspicuously advanced multilayered active defenses. As long as incoming rocket aggressions from Gaza, 'West Bank', and/or Lebanon (Hamas, Fatah, Hezbollah) were to remain conventional, the inevitable "leakage" might still be considered tolerable. But once these rockets were fitted with chemical and/or biological materials, any such porosity could quickly prove "unacceptable."
Reasonably, when facing Iranian long-range nuclear missiles, Israel's Arrow ballistic missile defense system would require a full 100% reliability of interception. To achieve any such genuinely optimum level of reliability, however, would simply not be possible. Presently, assuming that Israel's prime minister has already abandoned any once-residual hopes for a cost-effective eleventh-hour preemption against pertinent Iranian nuclear assets - an altogether credible assumption, at this late date - Israeli defense planners must look instead to multiple and overlapping forms of deterrence.
Because of expectedly corrosive interactive effects involving Iranian nuclear weapons and Palestinian statehood, Israel will need to continuously update and refine its multi-layered strategies of deterrence. In this connection, Israel's political leaders will assuredly have to accept that certain more-or-less identifiable representatives of these prospective enemies might not always satisfy the complex criteria of rational behavior. In such intuitively improbable but still logically conceivable circumstances, various Jihadist adversaries in Palestine, Iran, Lebanon or elsewhere could sometime refuse to back away from expressly contemplated aggressions against Israel, and this in spite of any expectations of starkly destructive retaliation.
Moreover, clearly irrational enemies could sometime exhibit such refusals in duly considered anticipation of a fully devastating Israeli reprisal. By definition, a rational enemy of Israel will always accept or reject the first-strike option by comparing the costs and benefits of each available alternative. Where the expected costs of striking first are taken to exceed expected gains, therefore, this enemy will be deterred. But where these expected costs are judged to be exceeded by expected gains, deterrence will fail.
In this case, Israel would be faced with an enemy attack, whether as a "bolt from the blue," or as the unwelcome outcome of anticipated or unanticipated crisis-escalation.
Sooner rather than later, and facing new and still-incalculable synergies from Iranian and Palestinian aggression, Israel will need to take appropriate steps to assure that:
(1) it does not become the object of any non-conventional attacks from these enemies; and
(2) it can successfully deter all possible forms of non-conventional conflict.
To meet this ambitious but indispensable goal, Jerusalem, inter alia, must retain its recognizably far-reaching conventional superiority in pertinent weapons and capable manpower, including effective tactical control over the Jordan Valley. This is the case because conventional superiority would almost certainly reduce Israel's explicit reliance upon any forms of nuclear deterrence, a reduction that would enhance its capacity for achieving "escalation dominance" at reassuringly lower levels of belligerent confrontation.
In principle, such conventional superiority retention should reduce the overall likelihood of Israel ever actually having to enter into any chemical, biological, or nuclear exchange with regional adversaries. Correspondingly, Israel should plan to begin moving incrementally beyond its increasingly perilous posture of "deliberate nuclear ambiguity." By preparing to shift toward prudently selective and partial kinds of "nuclear disclosure" - in other words, by getting ready to take its "bomb" out of the "basement" in carefully controlled phases - Israel could better ensure that its principal enemies will remain sufficiently subject to Israeli nuclear deterrence.
There is more. In further identifying its "principal enemies," Israel will not only need to include both state and sub-state adversaries (sometimes in "hybrid" alliance with one another), but also the cumulative intentions and capabilities of each enemy category. Regarding sub-state adversaries (e.g., Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS, etc.), Israeli planners must undertake their assessments by offering a more nuanced effort than the traditional group-by-group military evaluation.
States and sub-states
In addition, the sub-state groups being analyzed should be considered and appraised in their entirety, collectively, and as they might sometime interrelate with one another vis-à-vis Israel.
These several hostile sub-state organizations will also need to be considered in their cumulative interactive relationships with certain core enemy states. This last expectation could perhaps best be characterized as a foreseeably essential IDF search for vital synergies between its state and sub-state adversaries.
In proceeding to examine pertinent conflicts between state and sub-state parties, Israel will already understand that there is nothing new about such "asymmetric warfare." Nonetheless, today, and especially in the Middle East, a manifestly crucial asymmetry lies not in particular force structures or force ratios, but rather in any enemy determination or strength of will. In this vein, Carl von Clausewitz, in his Principles of War (1812) spoke persuasively of a need for "audacity." Looking ahead, this intangible quality or strategic trait represents still another key variable for measured consideration by IDF strategic planners.
In matters of strategy, the operational truth may sometimes emerge through an apparent paradox. Accordingly, Israeli planners may soon have to recognize that the efficacy or credibility of their country's nuclear deterrence posture could sometime vary inversely with enemy views of Israeli nuclear destructiveness. However ironic or counter-intuitive, enemy perceptions of a too-large or too-destructive Israeli nuclear deterrent force, and/or an Israeli force that is not sufficiently invulnerable to first-strike attacks, could sometime undermine this vital deterrence posture.
Also critical, of course, is that Israel's current and expected adversaries will continuously view the Jewish State's nuclear retaliatory forces as "penetration capable." This suggests forces that seem "assuredly capable" of penetrating any Arab or Iranian aggressor's active defenses. Naturally, any new state of Palestine would be non-nuclear itself, but it could still represent a "nuclear danger" to Israel by virtue of its impact upon the more generally regional "correlation of forces." Thereby, Palestine could represent an indirect but nonetheless markedly serious nuclear threat to Israel.
Both conceptually and operationally, there is more to be done. Israel must continue to strengthen its active defenses, but it must also do everything possible to improve each critical and interpenetrating component of its cumulative deterrence posture. In this bewilderingly complex process of strategic dissuasion, the Israeli task may require more incrementally explicit disclosures of nuclear targeting doctrine, and, correspondingly, a steadily expanding capacity for advanced cyber-defense and cyber-war. Additionally, even before undertaking any such delicately important refinements, Israel will need to more systematically differentiate between its principal adversaries that are presumably rational, irrational, or "mad."
Irrationality and madness are not the same disposition. In the former category, there no longer obtains a preeminent emphasis on collective survival (which is the very basic definition of rationality), but there does still exist a rank-ordered and transitive hierarchy of preferences.
Another Cold War, synergism, and the North Korea factor
Overall, the success of Israel's national deterrence strategies will depend upon an informed prior awareness of enemy preferences, and also of specific enemy hierarchies of preferences. In this connection, altogether new and open-minded attention will need to be focused on the seemingly furious emergence of "Cold War II" between Russia and the United States. This time around, moreover, the relationship between Jerusalem and Moscow could prove distinctly helpful rather than adversarial. At the same time, it will be difficult for Jerusalem to fathom the true parameters of Cold War II because this rapidly expanding national rivalry coexists with an American president who may be "beholden" to his Russian counterpart and defer to him in controversies.
There is more. For Jerusalem, it may soon become reasonable to explore whether Cold War II between the present superpowers could turn out to be more strategically gainful for Israel than the original Cold War. Credo quia absurdum. At this seemingly transitional moment in geostrategic time, when Washington is increasingly deferential to Moscow, virtually anything appears possible. For another related issue, traditional Israeli cooperation with the United States could imply, ipso facto, non-traditional Israeli cooperation with Russian geo-strategic interests.
It is essential that Israeli planners approach all prospective enemy threats as potentially interactive or even synergistic. More precisely, if a soon-to-be-formalized state of "Palestine" does not readily find itself in the same ideological orbit as Iran - now a distinctly plausible conclusion, especially in view of steadily stubborn Shiite-Sunni fissions in the Middle East - the net threat to Israel could become still more perilous than what is suggested by the merely additive result of its pertinent regional enemies.
In the interim, Iran will likely push for the creation of a more openly militant state of Palestine, and - once established in presumed conformance with the governing Montevideo Convention - Iran will support a solidly militant stance by the newly established Arab state vis-à-vis Israel. This posture could then prove perplexing for Iran's principal Sunni adversary, Saudi Arabia, which could then decide to back off its historic support for Palestinian statehood and perhaps also its traditional opposition to Israel. Worth mentioning, too, is that a nuclear Iran will plausibly "beget" a nuclear Saudi Arabia, although that rival capacity could take extra time unless Islamabad steps quickly into the relevant knowledge "breech" on behalf of Riyadh.
A final word about inevitable and far-reaching complexity in these matters. In addition to the (already mentioned) ties between North Korea, Palestinian terrorist organizations, and Hezbollah, Pyongyang has maintained very close and extended ties with Iran. During the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, North Korea supplied Tehran with Scud B missiles. North Korea also sold Soviet-made artillery, tanks, and trucks to Iran during the 1950s and 1960s.
There is even more detail to this ominous historic connection between North Korea and Iran. Over time, Pyongyang sold Scud B, C, and D extended-range Scuds to Iran, and has played a continuing role in the Islamic Republic's advanced missile development program. North Korea has helped to build the Safir two-stage missile and the Sejil solid fuel missile for Iran; moreover, Iran's Imad and Shihab-3 ballistic missile programs are conspicuously based on North Korea's own Nodong missile ( regarding extended range technologies).
All of this is probably just the tip of the collaborative "iceberg." Iran still relies on parts shipped from North Korea. Without regular assistance from Pyongyang, Iran's liquid fuel ballistic missile program could wither or even disappear. Simultaneously, the Assad regime in Syria, now conducting a literally genocidal war against vulnerable portions of its own beleaguered population, could be effectively deprived of its Scud missile infrastructures.
* * * *
In strategizing about the near simultaneity of Iranian nuclear weapons and Palestinian statehood, Jerusalem must consciously bear in mind that the adversarial whole would be greater than the simple sum of its belligerent parts. But to meaningfully assess this particular and complicated "whole," planners would need to bear in mind the specific form of chaos already evident in today's world and regional politics. To begin, such underlying disorder expresses far more than the relatively benign condition of structural anarchy bequeathed at the Peace of Westphalia in 1648. These current forms of chaos are much more primal, more primordial, even more, self-propelled and (metaphorically) almost "lascivious."
What Israel faces, therefore, will likely take place less in any traditional "balance-of-power" context than within the near-total "state of nature" described in William Golding's nightmarish novel, Lord of the Flies. Moreover, this challenging context could be magnified by the regional spread of nuclear weapons, that is, by precisely the sort of "dreadful equality" that 17th century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes identified in Leviathan as a condition wherein the life of man must inevitably become "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short."
Going forward in their relevant strategizing, Israel's military planners must assign intellect and learn a distinctly preeminent pride of place. Without granting such an assignment, assorted vital intersections between seemingly disparate threats - in this case, between Palestinian statehood and Iranian nuclear weapons - will fall short of their much-needed evaluations and prognoses. Were this to happen, the cumulative consequences for Israel's national security could quickly lead to previously unimagined tribulations, or perhaps even to "lamentations."
What the Saudi Prince's Visit Really Means - by Ahmed Charai - https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/12073/mohammed-bin-salman-visit
Saudi Arabia, with the visit of the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the United States this week, opens a new front in its war with Iran.
The visit is a collection of firsts. It is the first trip by Prince Mohammed bin Salman - known universally as "MBS" - to the U.S. since becoming the heir to the oil kingdom's throne in June 2017. (President Trump's first presidential trip to the Middle East began with a stop in Saudi Arabia.) More importantly, it is the first time a senior Saudi official, let alone a ruling royal, will venture outside the U.S. capital to make official visits to Wall Street, Hollywood and Silicon Valley. Never before has a crown prince - especially one who runs Saudi Arabia's government on a daily basis - come to America's financial and cultural capitals to do business. Indeed, MBS is hoping to drum up support for his plan to offer five percent of ARAMCO, the Saudi oil producer, to Western investors as well as to make investments in software upstarts and media empires. This is a Saudi royal who sees no division between commerce and statecraft, between diplomacy and investment.
For Americans, the three most important items on MBS's agenda are Saudi Arabia's internal reforms, its new kinetic role in the war on terror from Yemen to Syria and its evolving relationship with Israel.
While much has been made of MBS's opening "drivers ed" schools for women (which quickly attracted some 70,000 students) as part of the kingdom's June 2018 move to allow women to drive, the domestic reforms have been far more rapid and sweeping than the conservative kingdom has ever seen.
Perhaps the most dramatic reform is the one that has received virtually no attention in America. The crown prince has led an effort to sweep out the Muslim Brotherhood from teaching and leadership positions in elementary, middle and high schools as well as colleges and universities. The Brotherhood, founded in Egypt in 1928, has been the birthplace of nearly every radical Islamist group in the past century - from Egyptian Islamic Jihad to al Qaeda. The Brotherhood came to power in Cairo, following the departure of Hosni Mubarak, and only lost its grip due to a Saudi-funded coup. Inside Saudi Arabia, the organization's intellectual and financial influence is vast. It has shaped the thought of at least two generations of Saudis, and it counts many allies among the kingdom's 15,000 princes and even more among its 20,000 major clerics. It also has a literal army of armed supporters. MBS is kicking a dragon and he knows it.
The stakes of his fight with the Brotherhood could not be higher. If MBS succeeds, Saudi Arabia returns to pre-1979 roots, with movie theaters, women in the workplace, and features of a modern developing country. If he fails, he will be killed by the Brotherhood and Saudi Arabia will become more repressive than ever. The global stakes of MBS's internal fight with the Brotherhood are large, too. If the crown price wins, nearly all Saudi funding for violent Islamic radicals ends - and if he dies, it grows to new heights.
MBS is betting his life that he can reform his country and offer it a future beyond its dangerous dependency on oil. He wants to build 18 nuclear power plants over the next two decades, thereby safeguarding his nation's electricity prices from the rollercoaster of world oil prices. He wants to diversify the economy, allowing men and women to leave their subsidized and static lives for new roles as professionals, executives and entrepreneurs. His "Vision 2030" is the biggest planned change in any country since Turkey's Ataturk or Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew. And Saudi Arabia is larger in terms of both people and land than 1920s Turkey or 1960s Singapore. If he succeeds, his achievement will be studied for centuries. America should get behind MBS's bold vision - it is the best roadmap for regional peace and security as well as domestic modernization.
Regarding the war on terror, Saudi Arabia has been one of America's most steadfast allies. Since the September 11 attacks, it has killed or captured hundreds of al Qaeda operatives and provided intelligence on thousands more. It has cracked down hard on sheikhs who once financed terror outfits, seized bank accounts and jailed malefactors.
America would also do well to support Saudi Arabia's peaceful attempts to reform its neighbor, Qatar.
Finally, MBS's visit allows the Saudi royal to talk about his nation's increasingly warm relationship with Israel. The two nations have a common enemy (Iran) and a shared interest in thwarting terrorism. Together with MBS's apparently close friendship with Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law, a new and less confrontational relationship with Israel could pay dividends for peace.
America should welcome MBS. With America's encouragement, Saudi Arabia could lead a regional transformation that would be truly historic. Missing this opportunity to engage would be beyond tragic.
Ahmed Charai is Chairman and CEO of Global Media Holding. He sits on the Board of Directors of The Atlantic Council in Washington and International Councilors at The Center for Strategic and International Studies. He is also Board of Trustees of the The Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia, a member of The National Interest's Advisory Council and a member of the Advisory Council of Gatestone Institute in New York.
Daily Jot: The Facebook spy issue - Bill Wilson -
Breezing through the news cycle pretty quickly is Facebook. Facebook was part and parcel to a data mining (sic spying) application developed and used by the immediate past "president." The working model collected information on Facebook users that would be valuable to the "president's" election campaign. In 2012, Facebook even expressed surprise that the "president's" campaign was "able to suck out the whole social graph, but they didn't stop us once they realized what we were doing...because they were on our side," the campaign's director of media analytics, Carol Davidson, tweeted with a link to a talk she gave on how Facebook allowed the campaign to harvest data across friends networks.
The App took information given in response to how users set up their Facebook account and whether they allowed Facebook to share individual friends. The App recorded, analyzed and utilized the information in messaging, categorizing voters, and reaching specific demographics. Prior to vehicles such as Facebook, campaigns did this by calling people on the phone and asking them questions. That method of polling, however, wasn't sneaky or spy-like because the voter gave permission up front to take the survey. Facebook allowed itself to be used by the Democratic "president" because it was a business that supported the policies of his administration. So rather than keep the public trust, Facebook sold out to its collective political beliefs.
And, in the meantime, Russian operatives were also using Facebook to propagate false stories about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Facebook was suppressing the bad stuff about Clinton, and allowing the negatives on Trump. The New York Times reported that Facebook's Chief Information Security Officer Alex Stamos was actually tracking down the Russian trolls and trying to uncover them. The Times reported that Facebook Chief Operations Officer Sheryl Sandberg opposed Stamos's work and tried to cover up his exposure of the Russian's election shenanigans. According to Law&crime.com, Facebook pressured the Times to remove the cover up language in its online stories. Stamos also has been reassigned to another job. Antitrust and collusion questions are now being raised between the Times and Facebook.
Also, the Trump campaign hired Cambridge Analytics to collect information from Facebook users through surveys, unlike the previous "president" who developed an App for this data mining. But since it's a Trump-hired organization, Facebook is now feigning that the Trump campaign spied on Americans using Facebook. Democratic lawmakers are saying the Trump campaign used Facebook data wrongly, despite the clear fact that the Democratic Party, the New York Times, and Facebook colluded in a dark web data-mining scheme and cover up. This is just another example of people accusing others of exactly what the accuser has done. As Ephesians 5:12 says of these unfruitful works of darkness, "For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret." May they all be exposed to the light.
Daily Devotion: When You Are Down in the Doldrums - By Greg Laurie - www.harvest.org
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. -Philippians 2:3
Maybe you find yourself a little depressed today. I understand there is clinical depression and I am not speaking of that, but rather of those who may be "down in the dumps." You might be in the doldrums even though you are in good health, you had a meal today, and you have clothes on your back and a roof over your head. Maybe you are down because you know someone else has it a little better-or maybe a whole lot better-than you do. If so, then I have a 10-step solution for depression.
Step Number 1: Do something for someone else who has greater needs than you.
Step Number 2: Repeat step Number 1 nine more times.
Not only has God told us it is happier to give than receive, but scientific research shows the same. It is well documented that volunteering elevates mood in most people. This phenomenon has been dubbed "the helper's high." It has been assessed biologically in brain-imaging studies. It has also been looked at in research on endorphins.
I have never experienced the "runner's high" but I do know about the "giver's high." If someone asks you what you are doing on the weekend, you can say, "Getting high!" Whoa, what? "Yes, at church, giving to the Lord and serving others!" Proverbs 11:25 says that those who refresh others are themselves refreshed.
When we take our eyes off ourselves, it puts things into perspective. As a pastor, I visit people in hospitals. I can have the sniffles and be thinking, poor me, and then go and visit someone who is critical condition. I leave just thanking God that I can walk out of the hospital.
The Bible tells us to "do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves" (Philippians 2:3 NIV). In other words, never let selfishness or conceit become your motive in life.
Selfishness is at the root of almost all sins. Most of the quarrels and conflicts we have in life occur because self is either being threatened, challenged, or ignored. It is all about us. As James 4:1 asks, "What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don't they come from the evil desires at war within you?" (NLT). How true is that? We all want our own way. And that is prewired in us from the earliest days. The Bible says, "For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard" (Romans 3:23 NLT). There is no getting around it: We are all naturally selfish.
Selfishness ruins so many things in life. Why did Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit? Because Satan told them, "You will be like God, knowing good and evil" (Genesis 3:5 NIV). They were selfish.
Think of all of the immorality in our culture today. Why do people have sex before marriage? They are selfish. They don't want to wait to commit themselves to each other. They want the fringe benefits of marriage without the commitment that goes along with it. And why do people commit adultery after they have been married? Selfishness. They don't care about their mate; they want to have a little fun.
Do you know someone that has a need right now? Someone you can reach out to? Someone who is hurting? If you wait to feel love for people, you will never do anything. If you wait until you feel like putting that relationship back together, it will never get put back together. Will you do it by faith? Will you do it in obedience? If you will, then you can live a joyful life. But if you run around living for self-fulfillment, then you will be miserable. If you will remember your purpose on earth is to glorify God and to love others, then you will find the personal fulfillment you always wanted. And you will find happiness as well.
FROM THE HEART
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