Prophecy Update Newsletter
May 19, 2017
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
Is the Oracle of Damascus Close? - by Pastor Mike Taylor - http://pastormiketaylor.blogspot.com/2017/05/is-oracle-of-damascus-close.html
1"The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.
2 The cities of Aroer are forsaken: they shall be for flocks, which shall lie down, and none shall make them afraid.
3 The fortress also shall cease from Ephraim, and the kingdom from Damascus, and the remnant of Syria: they shall be as the glory of the children of Israel, saith the Lord of hosts.
4 And in that day it shall come to pass, that the glory of Jacob shall be made thin, and the fatness of his flesh shall wax lean.
5 And it shall be as when the harvestman gathereth the corn, and reapeth the ears with his arm; and it shall be as he that gathereth ears in the valley of Rephaim.
6 Yet gleaning grapes shall be left in it, as the shaking of an olive tree, two or three berries in the top of the uppermost bough, four or five in the outmost fruitful branches thereof, saith the Lord God of Israel.
7 At that day shall a man look to his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel." (Isaiah 17:1-7)
Those who watch prophecy while it is being fulfilled before our very eyes, have contemplated and even wondered about when this scripture will be fulfilled. Note that in all of history, Damascus has been inhabited perpetually for the last 4500 years and is the oldest city in the Ancient world that has not been destroyed, or abandoned. So this prophecy is for the future and could be in the near future. Why do I say that?
This prophecy has only been partially fulfilled in the past, when the Assyrians defeated the Armeans in 732 BC and overran this city. Damascus has been conquered many times, and this is just one of them. The Israelites did in 1000 BC and as mentioned the Assyrians in 732 BC. Then in 606 BC she was conquered by the Babylonians, the Persians in 530 BC, the Greeks in 330 BC, the Nabeteans in 85 BC, the Romans in 63 BC, the Byzantines in 634 AD, the Marmadukes in 1250 AD and finally the Ottoman Empire in 1516 AD. So as you see, she was conquered numerous times, but the city herself has survived and continues to thrive with a population close to 2 million souls within her borders. As you read the verses above, many wonder what the City of Aroer was located. Since the city today is much too far to be in relation to Damascus, some speculate that there was another city close by her. Some feel the translation in this passage should have been the "cities thereof shall be forsaken" as the Aroer is east of the Jordan River, but if that is true, then the passage could be speaking of the area inhabited by Hezbollah today, in a straight line from Damascus to Beirut. The verses above speak of the defeat of the Damascus and later the area of Samaria. Samaria was ultimately destroyed, but Damascus remains even today.
That's ancient history in an abbreviated fashion, but what about today of the city in Syria known as Damascus? What can be the reason for her eventual demise and the city not be inhabited again? Note that in this age the only thing that could make any city uninhabitable is either nuclear or chemical warfare that causes the area to be too dangerous for anyone to be in the same area.
Note my comment about the straight line that is occupied by Hezbollah right now in a straight line between Damascus and Beirut. Hezbollah has boasted by their "spokesman" Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of this avowed terrorist entity that they have enough missiles to reach every part of Israel, even their nuclear plant and their largest cities. The last war, Hezbollah had many missiles that were used, but waned in the final days of this last war found between them and Israel, but this time, Hezbollah has smuggled in right under the noses of the ineffectual U.N. Peace keeping army which turned a blind eye to their buildup a huge stockpile of advanced rockets from no other than Iran. It is believed that Lebanon through Hezbollah has been armed with some 120,000 surface-to-surface rockets and missiles, its firepower eclipses that of most states in the world. Dozens of its projectiles are long-range, and accurate. Hezbollah possesses hundreds of drones that it uses in combat against Syrian Sunni rebels.
In the 20th century, Syrian military formations were parked in Lebanon, projecting Damascus's power on its weaker neighbor. Today, the situation is reversed, and it is Lebanese Hezbollah formations that are shaping events next-door in Syria - a sign of Hezbollah's new role as a regional Shi'ite power. She has always been a terrorist organization, but she has elevated herself to a regional army.
"Seventy percent of Hezbollah's billion-dollar annual budget comes from Iran, and it uses this money to build command-and-control and rocket-launch sites all over villages and towns in southern Lebanon. But Hezbollah has also invested in military infrastructure in northern Lebanon, spreading out its firepower across the country.
Hezbollah today is focused on acquiring accurate, guided projectiles, and seeks to import as many of these as it can, from both Iranian and Syrian weapons factories.
According to international media reports, Israel is engaged in covert actions to stop this weapons trafficking." (Jerusalem Post, Hezbollah more powerful but stretched to the limit)
Hezbollah is gearing up for their next confrontation with the IDF and they are trying to tip the scales in their favor. In this next war, we can gather that there will still be a pending destruction against Damascus, by God, though it is not clear whether He will use Israel OR other nations OR His own supernatural manner to carry this out (well, for that matter, any combination thereof). It is also clear that it will be an evening strike and by dawn, Damascus will be a ruinous heap. This next war will completely destroy all the surrounding areas that have come against Israel. Is the Oracle of Damascus fulfilled within the prophesied coming Psalm 83 war, where all the surrounding Arab neighbors will again, once more, think to come and drive Israel into the sea.
1. "Keep not thou silence, O God: hold not thy peace, and be not still, O God.
2 For, lo, thine enemies make a tumult: and they that hate thee have lifted up the head.
3 They have taken crafty counsel against thy people, and consulted against thy hidden ones.
4 They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.
5 For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee:
6 The tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites; of Moab, and the Hagarenes;
7 Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre;
8 Assur also is joined with them: they have holpen the children of Lot. " (Psalm 83:1-8)
Right now, where are the sorties by the IDF taking aim at destroying advanced weapons bound for Hezbollah with the planes and bombs? Yes, the ongoing attempt to keep these weapons out of the enemies hands have been aimed at Syria.
What we do know is that we need an intact Syria for Psalm 83 to be fulfilled, which Damascus is the lifeline of Syria and the surrounding countryside. Destroy Damascus and the area crumbles and the nations of Turkey, Iran, and Iraq or Lebanon come in to pick up the pieces for their own safety concerns.
ISRAEL MAKES BIG LAND EXPANSION
At the end of this war, Damascus is no more, the surrounding area will have been soundly defeated by God Himself, or using the IDF to gather land that has been promises to them since Abraham. From the Great River in Egypt, which must be the Nile, to the River Euphrates, north into Syria, and south in Saudi Arabia. Israel will become the wealthiest Middle Eastern country of all time. She will have oil, natural gas, and untold natural resources that will drive the Arab nations into a schizophrenic fit.
BUT WHY DAMASCUS?
But why was only Damascus completely destroyed? Isaiah prophesied the destruction and abandonment of Damascus, Syria over 2,700 years ago. Yet the city continues today, despite so many Middle East wars and predictions that "this year" it will finally come to pass. So what's missing that has been holding this prophecy back? Israel's strike on Iran? Or perhaps the overlooked prophecy we spoke about in the Psalms about a future Arab war alliance targeted at wiping out Israel.
Short answer to why Damascus is destroyed is IRAN.
If you are into Bible prophecy, you probably have heard about the controversial nuclear program of Iran-and Israel's plan to strike Iran over it.
In 2002, it was revealed that Iran had secretly been enriching uranium with thousands of centrifuges. Enriched uranium is the key component of a nuclear bomb. Nobody wants an apocalyptic religious state like Iran to have nukes. Even worse, Iran resumed enrichment once President Ahmadinejad took office in 2005 and he refused to stop it, despite severe sanctions against Iran. Even after the extreme Ahmadinejad left office in 2013, the concerns over Iran's nuclear program have only increased.
It's no mystery who is most endangered by the prospect of Iran possessing nuclear weapons. Israel has threatened to make a preemptive strike on Iran's nuclear sites if sanctions continue to fail. This is no empty threat as Israel has bombed the nuclear sites of hostile nations in the past. Back in 1981, Israel bombed Iraq's nuclear reactor, receiving worldwide condemnation for it at the time. Then in 2007, Israel sent planes to bomb an alleged North Korean made nuclear reactor in Syria.
But for Damascus to be a ruinous heap is not what has happened in the past..Cities have been abandoned for many reason, but the buildings were left intact. I think of one city in Ukraine where the Chernobyl nuclear plant melted down. The whole city is now a ghost town with building intact, but the population is unable to live in the city for the radioactive poisoning that would result for any human being within that city. Same can be said for Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but they were different in that the bombs were detonated high above the cities and created low fall-out that would have developed with a ground explosion, so the Japanese rebuilt these cities, as they were not contaminated.
Damascus' predicted fate is distinct from either of these cities or perhaps any other. Its buildings and streets will not just be deserted, but they will be left as a "heap of ruins." I am not aware of a case in modern times of that happening to a city. There are cities that have been wiped out by tsunamis or even volcanic explosions, but they have been rebuilt and not left as heaps of ruins. The real estate still has value to former inhabitants and with a concerted effort they can achieve reconstruction of the city soon enough. I'm believing that the reason why she is a ruinous heap is Israel nukes her?
WHY WOULD ISRAEL NUKE DAMASCUS?
It is a well-known fact, but never talked about in Israel's government, that she possesses a large arsenal of nuclear weapons. Israel has also been a frequent target herself from the like of Syria, and helping Damascus by proxy to do the same.
Importantly, Israel also has the will to use these weapons. Because Israel's enemies are so numerous and able to overrun the tiny nation so easily, Israel has adopted a nuclear policy called "The Samson Option." The name comes from the famously strong judge of Israel who took his own life by knocking out the support pillars of the temple he was in to avenge himself on his enemies around him. According to this policy, Israel would nuke the cities of her enemies if she was overrun or about to be defeated. Hitting the leadership of Syria at Damascus would be part of this retaliatory attack. What would be the cause of this retaliatory attack? Only one thing comes to mind. A large onslaught of missiles that come from within Lebanon or within Syria. Israel would be faced with this "Samson option"...as she will have to use the "big guns" to wipe out her adversaries. Her war cry has always been "NEVER AGAIN" will she stand idly by and let her people be destroyed.
Israel takes a hard hit from this war in her northern part of the nation, as the verses above attest to...
4 " And in that day it shall come to pass, that the glory of Jacob shall be made thin, and the fatness of his flesh shall wax lean.
5 And it shall be as when the harvestman gathereth the corn, and reapeth the ears with his arm; and it shall be as he that gathereth ears in the valley of Rephaim.
6 Yet gleaning grapes shall be left in it, as the shaking of an olive tree, two or three berries in the top of the uppermost bough, four or five in the outmost fruitful branches thereof, saith the Lord God of Israel." (Isaiah 17: 4-6)
In this prophesied event, northern and central Israel are named as taking damage and casualties, although comparatively less than Damascus (Damascus loses the kingdom, but Israel only the fortress). War is never completely one-sided. If Israel is prompted to attack Damascus, they will certainly suffer casualties in the process. Going further in the prophecy we can see that, as has usually been the case, Syria will not be acting alone against Israel:
12 "Woe to the multitude of many people, which make a noise like the noise of the seas; and to the rushing of nations, that make a rushing like the rushing of mighty waters!
13 The nations shall rush like the rushing of many waters: but God shall rebuke them, and they shall flee far off, and shall be chased as the chaff of the mountains before the wind, and like a rolling thing before the whirlwind.
14 And behold at eveningtide trouble; and before the morning he is not. This is the portion of them that spoil us, and the lot of them that rob us." (Isaiah 17:12-14)
To make a better understanding, I believe this interpretation spells it out for us, better than the poetic KJV:
Isaiah 17:12-14 (HCSB) 12 "Ah! The roar of many peoples-they roar like the roaring of the seas. The raging of the nations-they rage like the raging of mighty waters. 14 In the evening-sudden terror! Before morning-it is gone! This is the fate of those who plunder us [Judah] and the lot of those who ravage us."
God Almighty deals with these Arab nations in His own way.
A multitude of nations attack "us" or the nation that Isaiah addressed in his prophecies: the southern kingdom of Judah (as opposed to the northern nation of Israel). The Jewish people make up the modern State of Israel (which is why they almost called it the State of Judah). Therefore the description fits yet another Middle East war where Israel is attacked by her mainly Arab and Islamic neighbors such as Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and probably also Iran (who is not Arab). Yet, like before, Israel will be victorious-and probably even quicker than in the Six Day War of 1967. Notice in verse 14 that it takes only from one evening until the next morning to achieve decisive victory.
It sounds like Israel is faces with no other option, but the Samson Option and she brings out her nuclear weapons and Damascus is taken away from being a city, as she has been the lifeline for the continued attempts to destroy Israel.
It will mean the complete annihilation of her enemy armies and not to mention 10's of millions of civilian casualties. No wonder that Isaiah says that the situation shifts overnight from a terror for Israel and the tragedy for her enemies.
THIS WAR SETS UP THE COMING EZEKIEL WAR!
Israel will finally feel safe in her own country, as she has defeated all surrounding enemies. She has defeated the Palestinians, the terror group of Hamas, Hezbollah, and all nations that border hers in a dicisive victory that may be shorter than the 6 day war of 1967, when she uses this Sampson option. Note that in Ezekiel 38 when they talk about the countries of modern day Arab nations, none of the inner ring of Arab nations are mentioned? Only ones you will find will be the major suppliers that got the other nations destroyed by Israel and by God. Israel is now safe (for alittle while)...she will be come gloriously wealthy and the larger Arab nations, and the Persian nation of Iran who all are Muslim, will not let this stand. With large sums of arms, cash and weapons from Gog and Magog, which many believe is Russia, she will think an evil thought.
8 "After many days thou shalt be visited: in the latter years thou shalt come into the land that is brought back from the sword, and is gathered out of many people, against the mountains of Israel, which have been always waste: but it is brought forth out of the nations, and they shall dwell safely all of them.
9 Thou shalt ascend and come like a storm, thou shalt be like a cloud to cover the land, thou, and all thy bands, and many people with thee.
10 Thus saith the Lord God; It shall also come to pass, that at the same time shall things come into thy mind, and thou shalt think an evil thought:
11 And thou shalt say, I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will go to them that are at rest, that dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates,
12 To take a spoil, and to take a prey; to turn thine hand upon the desolate places that are now inhabited, and upon the people that are gathered out of the nations, which have gotten cattle and goods, that dwell in the midst of the land." (Ezekiel 38:8-12)
This is just too much for the Arab nation, and the Communist nation of Russia to stand and not take what is not theirs. What are they wanting, both Russian and their confederation? The answer would be oil and gas. Israel will be the biggest oil and natural gas producer on the planet, save maybe the USA. She will think an evil thought to take what she desires and wants...the riches of Israel. Almighty God brings judgement, severe judgement on these nations that come against His people and His land.
18 "And it shall come to pass at the same time when Gog shall come against the land of Israel, saith the Lord God, that my fury shall come up in my face.
19 For in my jealousy and in the fire of my wrath have I spoken, Surely in that day there shall be a great shaking in the land of Israel;
20 So that the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the heaven, and the beasts of the field, and all creeping things that creep upon the earth, and all the men that are upon the face of the earth, shall shake at my presence, and the mountains shall be thrown down, and the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground.
21 And I will call for a sword against him throughout all my mountains, saith the Lord God: every man's sword shall be against his brother.
22 And I will plead against him with pestilence and with blood; and I will rain upon him, and upon his bands, and upon the many people that are with him, an overflowing rain, and great hailstones, fire, and brimstone.
23 Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the Lord." (Ezekiel 38:18-23)
Do you see how this war of Psalm 83, although possibly a short war, sets up an even greater war that will judge the nations who come against Israel? Those who have been pulled down to Israel as a fish with hook in it's jaw, will be near totally destroyed. 5/6 of this army will be destroyed, and the plagues that destroyed them will follow them back to their home countries and more will die.
THE REVEALING OF THE ANTI-CHRIST
These wars were all covered to come to the crux of this message. With so many people slain, the God of Israel sanctified in the eyes of the world, and the world knows that Israel did not do this by themselves, it's an old Muslim trick to capitulate to the enemy until you are stronger in the future. So a man will come to confirm a covenant with Israel to bring peace to the world. Am I saying the man is Muslim? He could very well be. He will be the secular half of the One World Government and the One World Religion, come to confirm this covenant that has already been in place, but never enforced or ratified. He will proclaim a 7 year treaty.
27 "And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate." (Daniel 9:27)
So the Anti-Christ has just revealed himself, and from the time of Psalm 83 until Ezekiel 38-39, could be just a few years...we don't know, as the Bible is not specific. But if things are ratcheting up in the Middle East where we could see war after war come to pass and the total destruction of Damascus, the end of Psalm 83 war, into Ezekiel's war where Israel is victorious through the intervention of Divine fury and wrath from Almighty, the time of the Tribulation could be that close. Why is that important?
6 "And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved." (2nd Thessalonians 2:6-10)
The power that holds back unabated evil in this world is God's Holy Spirit and if He is pulled back to Pre-Pentecostal manifestations, those He indwells will be removed as well.
The Oracle of Damascus and the Psalm 83 War, gets the ball rolling to the coming Tribulation and it could be even tomorrow that this war will break out. We are told that we will NOT see this man, the Anti-Christ, as he will be revealed after the church is removed. If the AC is to be revealed in the next few years, the church can be removed anytime between now and then.
My spiritual sense tells me that we don't have much time to gather the harvest of souls for the coming of the Lord, and not making any predictions, but it could be even this fall, or the next, or the next. We don't know for sure. We just watch and wait and believe what Paul wrote:
15 "For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16 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:
17 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.
18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words." (1st Thessalonians 4:15-18)
Make no mistake about it, the Middle East is shaping up for a catastrophic war coming, the world is about to implode, and the Anti-Christ is about to reveal himself. The signs are all around us, and the signs of the coming of our Lord grow louder and louder with each passing day.
Please as you read this, examine yourself and see if you be found in the faith. Don't make the mistake of discounting these words. Scoffers will have their sneers wiped off their faces when all of this comes to pass. Don't be one of them, as the time for repentance and being with Jesus for all eternity draws closer.
"Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:" (Peter 1:10)
" For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17, God sent not His Son to condemn the world, but that the world through HIM, might be saved." (John 3:16-17)(my emphasis in caps)
This is Pastor Mike Taylor, praying you make yourself ready for the coming of the Lord, He is right at the door ready to burst forth. If you need prayer, counseling, or just a friendly listening ear, email me a firstname.lastname@example.org , God bless you all.
TILL WE MEET AT JESUS FEET
What has changed that Israel went from ecstasy over Trump to near-mourning? - Yaakov Katz -
With US President Donald Trump's visit to Israel just days away, it's time that the country and its leadership lay out a concrete vision for the future.
On November 9, the day after the presidential election in the United States, Education Minister Naftali Bennett released a statement congratulating Donald Trump on his victory.
"The era of a Palestinian state is over," Bennett glowed at the time. "Trump's victory is an opportunity for Israel to immediately retract the notion of a Palestinian state... This is the position of the president- elect, as written in his platform, and it should be our policy, plain and simple."
Other members of the cabinet joined the celebrations.
Likud Minister Ofir Akunis, for example, called to immediately increase settlement construction in the West Bank. Other ministers focused their praise on what they believed would be the imminent transfer of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Looking back at what Bennett and other ministers said in November, it seems a lifetime ago, or more accurately as misplaced wishful thinking. Their comments in November came before Trump decided that he wanted to reach the "ultimate deal" between Israel and the Palestinians, before he decided not to move the embassy and before his administration decided that it couldn't even refer to Jerusalem as part of Israel.
So what happened? Why the change? What happened to the Trump of the campaign? At the Knesset on Monday, Bennett tried to provide an answer. During a meeting of his Bayit Yehuda faction he hinted that it was Netanyahu who missed out on an opportunity to pressure or convince Trump into acting on his campaign promises.
Another possibility is that the praise by Akunis, Bennett and others boxed Trump in and that as a response he had to balance out his policies as president. The more likely possibility is what has happened to countless politicians before Trump - it is one thing to make a campaign promise; it is another to be president.
Whether Bennett is right or wrong about the cause of the so-called change in Trump, he is right that Israel might have had the opportunity to present the president with an alternative vision but didn't. Instead, a vacuum was created in Washington and that vacuum was filled by what we are seeing now. Vacuums never stay empty for long.
Next week, the country will mark Jerusalem Day, celebrating half a century since the Six Day War when Israel conquered the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula and reunified Jerusalem.
But since that time, Israel has, for the most part, decided not to decide. Prime minister Levi Eshkol annexed east Jerusalem immediately after the war in 1967 and even though it has been part and parcel of sovereign Israel since, Israelis still get bent out of shape the moment someone says it's not.
Menachem Begin decided in 1981 to apply Israeli law to the Golan Heights, but today, 36 years later, Israel is still undecided about the territory it conquered from Syria. In February, for example, Netanyahu asked Trump to recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan, and Intelligence Minister Israel Katz said earlier this month that the issue should be on the main agenda for the visit.
While I recognize the opportunity the ongoing war in Syria provides for this to happen, why the insecurity? If the Golan is no different than any other part of Israel, why has the government never formulated a strategic plan to increase the Jewish population there, to create jobs and to improve the infrastructure? Even the highways on the Golan are the same two-lane roads from 50 years ago.
Where is our confidence? Why do we let every little comment and diplomatic insult blow up into a full-fledged crisis. The news, for example, about the low-level US Consulate official who said that the Kotel is not part of Israel broke the same day that the new US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, arrived in the country and immediately went to pray at the Kotel.
A US ambassador going to the Kotel just hours after landing in the country is unprecedented and historic.
But instead, the news cycle was dominated by a leak - my guess from the Prime Minister's Office - to Channel 2 about some low-level official involved in the logistics of the president's upcoming trip who made an ignorant and imprudent comment. In other words, there is the picture of the new ambassador kissing the Western Wall versus an unnamed official saying something controversial.
I'm not saying Israel shouldn't defend itself when it feels like it is under a diplomatic assault. On the contrary, it should. Nevertheless, the management of the country since Trump's election - and even more so this week - has been like someone suffering from manic depression. When Trump was elected, people were ecstatic. But now that he is president and realpolitik has kicked in, the politicians have become depressed and appear to be in mourning.
The truth is that Trump never really changed, since he never really had a formulated worldview to begin with.
Like most things in life, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Yes, Trump has an affinity for Israel, but he also has limitations like all presidents before him - the need to ensure the stability of the US's other allies in the region and to appear fair in his handling of the conflict.
While the incident with the low-level consulate official is infuriating, it is not anything different from what Israel has been hearing from the State Department for the last 50 years. The same applies to the way National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and press secretary Sean Spicer answered questions on Jerusalem's status this week. Both men danced around the question, likely because their boss has yet to decide what the policy should be.
THERE IS though something deeper at play and this connects to the 50th anniversary the country will mark next week.
Even though half a century has passed since the Six Day War, Israel has yet to decide what it really wants.
It holds on to Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem that are outside the security barrier, even though almost every politician (even on the Right) agrees that Israel doesn't need them. The reason - politician are afraid of the political price they will pay if they say so. The same applies to the previous three Netanyahu governments: the prime minister says he wants a two-state solution but then doesn't take steps to advance it.
I am not getting into who is to blame for the failure of the peace process - I believe it is the Palestinians - since that is not the issue. What I am referring to is government indecisiveness. The government should be providing a vision of what it wants and how Israel's final borders should look. Instead, we hear one thing from Netanyahu and then end up seeing something else play out. There is no strategic vision.
Now, I get that this is a result of a number of factors - the so-called peace partner we have beside us, our chaotic political system and our constant fear of destruction.
Even with these constraints, coupled with the country's growing polarization, the government can still take big, historic steps and should. Begin did that in 1979 when making peace with Egypt, Yitzhak Rabin did it in 1993 when signing the Oslo Accords and Ariel Sharon did it in 2005 when pulling out of the Gaza Strip.
All these moves were controversial; all were political minefields, but all ended up happening because when a prime minister wants something, he or she can get it done with the right political maneuvering. It might be hard, but it happens.
If Netanyahu wanted to annex all of the West Bank he could with the makeup of today's coalition. If he wanted to freeze settlement construction and enter into peace talks with the Palestinians, he could as well, by changing his coalition.
But to do either, he would need to decide what he wants. After 50 years of almost everyone not deciding why should he suddenly be different? So instead of deciding what it wants, the government prefers to look over its shoulder and see what the world will tell us to do. It won't annex the West Bank because the world would get upset, and it won't enter into peace talks because it could shake up the coalition. Those are convenient excuses but neither provides an answer for what is right. What is in Israel's interest? What is right for the country in its 70th year of independence? Fifty years after reunifying Jerusalem, Israel has never been stronger - socially, militarily and economically. If there is a time to lay out a vision it is now.
Trump and Israel: Enemies of the system - By Caroline B. Glick -
Throughout the Obama administration, US officials illegally leaked top secret information about Israeli operations to the media.
The United States is sailing in uncharted waters today as the intelligence-security community wages an all-but-declared rebellion against President Donald Trump.
Deputy Attorney-General Rod Rosenstein's decision on Wednesday to appoint former FBI director Robert Mueller to serve as a special counsel charged with investigating allegations of "any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump," is the latest and so far most significant development in this grave saga.
Who are the people seeking to unseat Trump? This week we learned that the powers at play are deeply familiar. Trump's nameless opponents are some of Israel's greatest antagonists in the US security establishment.
This reality was exposed this week with intelligence leaks related to Trump's meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. To understand what happened, let's start with the facts that are undisputed about that meeting.
The main thing that is not in dispute is that during his meeting with Lavrov, Trump discussed Islamic State's plan to blow up passenger flights with bombs hidden in laptop computers.
It's hard to find fault with Trump's actions. First of all, the ISIS plot has been public knowledge for several weeks.
Second, the Russians are enemies of ISIS. Moreover, Russia has a specific interest in diminishing ISIS's capacity to harm civilian air traffic. In October 2015, ISIS terrorists in Egypt downed a Moscow-bound jetliner, killing all 254 people on board with a bomb smuggled on board in a soda can.
And now on to the issues that are in dispute.
Hours after the Trump-Lavrov meeting, The Washington Post reported that in sharing information about ISIS's plans, Trump exposed intelligence sources and methods to Russia and in so doing, he imperiled ongoing intelligence operations carried out by a foreign government.
The next day, The New York Times reported that the sources and methods involved were Israeli. In sharing information about the ISIS plot with Lavrov, the media reported, Trump endangered Israel.
There are two problems with this narrative.
First, Trump's National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster insisted that there was no way that Trump could have exposed sources and methods, because he didn't know where the information on the ISIS plot that he discussed with Lavrov originated.
Second, if McMaster's version is true - and it's hard to imagine that McMaster would effectively say that his boss is an ignoramus if it weren't true - then the people who harmed Israel's security were the leakers, not Trump.
Now who are these leakers? According to the Washington Post, the leakers are members of the US intelligence community and former members of the US intelligence community, (the latter, presumably were political appointees in senior intelligence positions during the Obama administration who resigned when Trump came into office).
Israel is no stranger to this sort of operation. Throughout the Obama administration, US officials illegally leaked top secret information about Israeli operations to the media.
In 2010, a senior defense source exposed the Stuxnet computer worm to the New York Times. Stuxnet was reportedly a cyber weapon developed jointly by the US and Israel. It was infiltrated into the computer system at Iran's Bushehr nuclear reactor. It reportedly sabotaged a large quantity of centrifuges at the installation.
The revelation of Stuxnet's existence and purpose ended the operation. Moreover, much of Iran's significant cyber capabilities were reportedly developed by reverse engineering the Stuxnet.
Obama made his support for the leak clear three days before he left office. On January 17, 2017, Obama pardoned Marine Gen. James Cartwright for his role in illegally divulging the Stuxnet program to the Times.
In 2012, US officials told the media that Israel had struck targets in Syria. The leak, which was repeated several times in subsequent years, made it more dangerous for Israel to operate against Iranian and Hezbollah forces in Syria.
Also in 2012, ahead of the presidential election, US officials informed journalists that Israel was operating in air bases in Azerbaijan with the purpose of attacking Iran's nuclear sites in air strikes originating from those bases.
Israel's alleged plan to attack Iran was abruptly canceled.
In all of these cases, the goal of the leak was to harm Israel.
In contrast, the goal of this week's leaks was to harm Trump. Israel was collateral damage.
The key point is that the leaks are coming from the same places in both cases.
All of them are members of the US intelligence community with exceedingly high security clearances. And all of them willingly committed felony offenses when they shared top secret information with reporters.
That is, all of them believe that it is perfectly all right to make political use of intelligence to advance a political goal. In the case of the anti-Israel leaks under Obama, their purpose was to prevent Israel from degrading Iran's nuclear capacity and military power at a time that Obama was working to empower Iran at Israel's expense.
In the case of the Trump-Lavrov leak, the purpose was to undermine Israel's security as a means of harming Trump politically.
What happened to the US intelligence community? How did its members come to believe that they have the right to abuse the knowledge they gained as intelligence officers in order to advance a partisan agenda? As former CIA station chief Scott Uehlinger explained in an article published in March in The Hill, the Obama administration oversaw a program of deliberate politicization of the US intelligence community.
The first major step toward this end was initiated by then-US attorney general Eric Holder in August 2009.
Holder announced then that he intended to appoint a special counsel to investigate claims that CIA officers tortured terrorists while interrogating them.
The purpose of Holder's announcement wasn't to secure indictments. The points was to transform the CIA politically and culturally.
And it worked.
Shortly after Holder's announcement, an exodus began of the CIA's best operations officers. Men and women with years of experience operating in enemy territory resigned.
Uehlinger's article related that during the Obama years, intelligence officers were required to abide by strict rules of political correctness.
In his words, "In this PC world, all diversity is embraced - except diversity of thought. Federal workers have been partisan for years, but combined with the rigid Obama PC mindset, it has created a Frankenstein of politicization that has never been seen before."
Over the years, US intelligence officers at all levels have come to view themselves as soldiers in an army with its own agenda - which largely overlapped Obama's.
Trump's agenda on the other hand is viewed as anathema by members of this powerful group. Likewise, the notion of a strong Israel capable of defending its interests without American help and permission is more dangerous than the notion of Iran armed with nuclear weapons.
Given these convictions, it is no surprise that unnamed intelligence sources are leaking a tsunami of selective and deceptive intelligence against Trump and his advisers.
The sense of entitlement that prevails in the intelligence community was on prominent display in an astounding interview that Evelyn Farkas, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense, gave to MSNBS in early March.
Farkas, who resigned her position in late 2015 to work on Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, admitted to her interviewer that the intelligence community was spying on Trump and his associates and that ahead of Obama's departure from office, they were transferring massive amounts of intelligence information about Trump and his associates to Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill in order to ensure that those Democratic politicians would use the information gathered to harm Trump.
In her words, "The Trump folks, if they found out how we knew what we knew about the Trump staff's dealings with Russians... would try to compromise those sources and methods, meaning we would no longer have access to that information."
Farkas then explained that the constant leaks of Trump's actions to the media were part of the initiative that she had urged her counterparts to undertake.
And Farkas was proud of what her colleagues had done and were doing.
Two days after Farkas's interview, Trump published his tweet accusing former president Barack Obama of spying on him.
Although the media and the intelligence community angrily and contemptuously denied Trump's assertion, the fact is that both Farkas's statement and information that became public both before and since Trump's inauguration lends credence to his claim.
In the days ahead of the inauguration we learned that in the summer of 2016, Obama's Justice Department conducted a criminal probe into suspicions that Trump's senior aides had committed crimes in their dealings with Russian banks. Those suspicions, upon investigation, were dismissed. In other words, the criminal probe led nowhere.
Rather than drop the matter, Obama's Justice Department decided to continue the probe but transform it into a national security investigation.
After a failed attempt in July 2016, in October 2016, a FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) court approved a Justice Department request to monitor the communications of Trump's senior advisers. Since the subjects of the probe were working from Trump's office and communicating with him by phone and email, the warrant requested - which the FISA court granted - also subjected Trump's direct communications to incidental collection.
So from at least October 2016 through Trump's inauguration, the US intelligence community was spying on Trump and his advisers, despite the fact that they were not suspected of committing any crimes.
This brings us back to this week's Russia story which together with the media hysteria following Trump's firing of FBI director James Comey, precipitated Rosenstein's decision to appoint Mueller to serve as a special counsel charged with investigating the allegations that Trump and or his advisers acted unlawfully or in a manner that endangered the US in their dealings with Russia.
It is too early to judge how Mueller will conduct his investigation. But if the past is any guide, he is liable to keep the investigation going indefinitely, paralyzing Trump's ability to conduct foreign policy in relation to Russia and a host of other issues.
This then brings us to Trump and Israel - the twin targets of the US intelligence community's felonious and injurious leaks.
The fact that Trump will be coming to Israel next week may be a bit of fortuitous timing. Given the stakes involved for Trump, for Israel and for US national security, perhaps Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can develop a method of fighting this cabal of faceless, lawless foes together.
How such a fight would look and what it would involve is not immediately apparent and anyways should never be openly discussed. But the fact is that working together, Israel and Trump may accomplish more than either can accomplish on their own. And with so much hanging in the balance, it makes sense to at least try.
Watchman Warning: Suicide Epidemic - By Hal Lindsey -
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, more people died last year from suicide than from auto crashes. We most associate killing oneself with the young, but it strikes across the lines of age, race, and culture. It affects society in unexpected ways. Foreign Policy magazine ran an article with the headline, "America's Suicide Epidemic Is a National Security Crisis."
But it's not just an American phenomenon. According to the World Health Organization, global suicide rates have risen more than 60% in the last 45 years. Almost a million people a year are known to succeed at taking their own lives. But that number is almost certainly low because of the extreme stigma in many cultures against suicide. People in those places kill themselves in ways that look accidental, or the family covers up afterward.
The epidemic took on a new dimension when we learned about an 8-year-old boy who apparently took his own life in Cincinnati. In a case of extremely violent school bullying, the boy had been beaten unconscious. The school called his mom. She went to pick him up, and both school officials and the boy told her that he had "fainted."
He seemed okay, so she took him home. When he began vomiting later, she took him to the hospital. Doctors there concluded that he had a stomach virus, and they sent him home. At this point, neither the doctors nor the mother knew that the child had been beaten and lay unconscious on a school floor for more than seven minutes.
He stayed home from school the next day, returned to school the day after that, then came home and hung himself with a necktie. By all accounts, he was a bright and happy boy. His attacker had been picking on other children, and this boy approached him, apparently trying to settle things by shaking hands. That's when the vicious assault began.
No one knows exactly what was going on in this little fellow's head. But a link between the bullying and the apparent suicide seems obvious.
If you wonder how it is that bullying can seem cool to anyone, just look at the popular comedians and their jokes at the expense of White House spokesman Sean Spicer. What funnymen are doing to Spicer goes far beyond traditional political humor. They are on a crusade of personal destruction. Like the bullies in school, they seem unable to recognize that this is a human being with a family and with feelings.
Our society has become cruel and coarse. Fun seems only fun if it comes at the expense of another person's dignity or humanity. There seem to be no limits on viciousness. Consequently, a deep despair has settled over America and much of the world. Kindness and empathy have been largely lost in public discourse, and too often lost in private.
Among children aged ten or less, suicide is extremely rare. The numbers go up dramatically for ages 11 through 14. Statistics make another upward turn during high school years. According to the CDC, 20% of high school students will seriously consider suicide this year. 15% of those will make a plan, and 8.6% will make a serious attempt.
People who closely watch this sort of thing report a surge in just the last few months. Many of them blame the Netflix TV series, "13 Reasons Why." The show depicts suicide affecting survivors exactly as suicidal youngsters hope. After the suicide, everyone is sorry and everyone expresses love for the lost young person. The people who weren't nice to the girl in life, regret their mistakes after she's gone. In other words, it romanticizes suicide.
The program makes suicide seem like a kind of revenge, or a good way to teach others the ultimate lesson. Making things worse, young people who are prone to suicide have a difficult time recognizing the finality of the act - that they won't be around to enjoy all the attention and remorse.
In a column for The Guardian, Zoe Williams wrote, "If there was a list of ways not to portray suicide, this would tick every box." She says, "'13 Reasons Why'... is a revenge fantasy, so it portrays suicide as an act that will achieve something. It's aimed at a young audience, who are particularly susceptible to contagion, and particularly likely to experience suicidal thoughts. It normalizes and legitimizes the act. It goes into too much and too graphic detail about the suicide itself - which is expressly against Ofcom (the U.K.'s Office of Communications) guidelines because, however horrible it is to watch, this can still be read as a how-to."
According to mental health advocate and media commentator, Mark Henick, "13 Reasons Why... provides a cognitive pathway, a roadmap of sorts, that tricks the minds of those at risk for suicide into believing the lies that their mental illnesses tell them."
But this is not just an epidemic among the young. In the U.S., 20 veterans per day die by suicide. That statistic is often recounted in the media as an indictment of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But most of the veterans killing themselves are over the age of 50, and they weren't anywhere near Iraq or Afghanistan.
Experts give a variety of reasons for this new epidemic, but it really comes down to something quite old - hopelessness. Back in 1976, I wrote a book called The Terminal Generation. It said, "Man can live about 40 days without food, 3 days without water, about 8 minutes without air... but only about a second without hope."
The best answer to despair is not platitudes, vague spirituality, or even science. It is hope. Real hope with real answers. And that's what we have in the Person of Jesus - real answers for this generation. Real hope.
"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." - Romans 15:13
God Has No Grandchildren - By Grant Phillips -
I've heard others make that same statement, and it is true. Have you ever really thought about that phrase though, "God has no grandchildren?"
Maybe we haven't thought enough about it, because there are a number of people who obviously believe God does have grandchildren. By this we simply mean that many think they will be "grandfathered" into the kingdom of God because they had a saintly mother or father, for example.
Thank God for saintly parents, but we each have to make our own decision concerning what we are going to do about Jesus Christ.
Even many parents think that because they are a Christian, God would never reject their child or children. The truth is our children and grandchildren must choose for themselves what they are going to do about Jesus.
People today often think there are many ways to get to Heaven. "I belong to the church. I go to church. I'm a decent person. I pay my bills, and love my family. I don't break the laws of the land. I'm a moral person and was even baptized." I could keep going, but you get the point. (It's all about "I" instead of "Jesus.")
We cannot ride into Heaven on the coattails of someone else, nor our own 'good' deeds.
"And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:15)
This is a very personal Scripture passage. Each person has to decide for himself/herself who he/she will serve. Who do you put your faith in regarding where you will reside in eternity? Maybe you believe we just die, like an animal, and that's the end of it.
"Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him." (Hebrews 9:27-28 NIV)
God says that we are destined to die and after that is judgment. I and millions of others will not face judgment when we die, because Jesus took away our sins when we believed in Him and asked Him to save us. All those who have failed to do this will face Him in judgment.
"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." (Romans 8:1)
Each of us has to decide who we believe, God or man. Is God's Word, the Bible, true or is it not? Was Jesus born by virgin birth? Was he sinless? Was Jesus really God? Did He die on the cross and rise the third day? Is He really going to return for His own? These are all personal decisions.
A growing number of people today believe little to nothing contained in the previous paragraph. I don't know the statistics, but most probably believe nothing is required of them because their good works will outweigh their bad works and everything will work out in the end. However, not asking Jesus to save us is the equivalent of saying, "No, I don't need Jesus. I can handle it myself."
However, Jesus says, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6 NIV) There are no optional choices. The only way to Heaven, to God the Father, is through Jesus Christ.
There are many others who don't believe there is a God and consider the Bible to be a compilation of fairy tales. Again, by their unbelief, they stand condemned.
"He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God." (John 3:18-21)
As clearly as this has been stated, millions will make a personal decision to not accept it. They prefer the lies of Satan over the Truth of God. On judgment day, at the Great White Throne Judgment, they will stand to be judged prior to being cast into the lake of fire to spend eternity in torment, because they will have no excuse. They did not choose Jesus, the only way to the Father, which resulted in a very bad personal decision with eternal consequences.
Now you must ask yourself, "What am I going to do about this?"
Pre-Rapture Commentary: http://grant-phillips.blogspot.com
Rapture Ready: http://www.raptureready.com/featured/phillips/phillips.html
Daily Jot: The growing civil war in America - Bill Wilson - www.dailyjot.com
A professor at the University of Hawaii wants to eliminate white men from academia because she believes "actual solutions require women of color and trans people." In a blog for the American Mathematical Society, Assistant Professor of Mathematics Piper Harron, a black female, wrote, "If you are a white cis man (meaning you identify as male and you were assigned male at birth) you almost certainly should resign from your position of power...Not to alarm you, but statistically speaking, you are the problem. Your very presence." While these remarks seem incredulous, they are indicative of a growing civil war fomented by Marxists (progressives and liberals) to overthrow America.
This is not new, it is, however, becoming very public and very loud. Constitutional scholar, radio host and Fox News contributor Douglas V. Gibbs, in his January 2011 blogspot, politicalpistachio, observed: "The United States, however, despite the belief that this is a free country, has been under the assault of the same collectivist forces that guided the Bolsheviks and Soviet communists. American culture has been infiltrated, and though the process of turning our society into a communal system has been much slower, applied in an incremental manner, the American system is also moving in a direction of utopianism under the invisible hand of social engineering, and orchestrated class warfare."
Gibbs continued, "The liberals use political correctness to mask their true intent. They have discouraged any debate over their true motives, censoring their opposition through ridicule and accusations. The discussion has omitted language that may betray their social engineering, income redistribution, class warfare, and any form of affirmative action that might become associated with these foregoing notions. Eliminating these ideas from the public debate, while acting upon them, has enabled them to fill the political discussion with propaganda that pit the wealthy against the poor, the religious against non-believers, sexual perversion against anyone who dares to question the "normalcy" of their abnormal behavior, and of course pitting the various ethnicities and races against each other."
Gibbs' astute observations six years ago have become a rising tide today. It is the dialectic on steroids-thesis, antithesis, synthesis. The more outrageous the claim (the antithesis), the faster people move toward the new thesis (synthesis). These are ingredients for revolution and tyranny. This is a growing civil war in America-pitting people against people, neighbor against neighbor, family members against family members. The organizers are using Donald Trump as their catalyst. As stated in Micah 7:6-7, "For the son dishonors the father, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; a man's enemies are the men of his own house. Therefore, I will look unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me." We must pray and act. We must stand in the gap and make up the hedge.
Daily Devotion: Why We Should Worship - By Greg Laurie - www.harvest.org
Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. -Psalm 118:1
Worship can turn the most miserable circumstances into a wonderful time. In the book of Acts we read of Paul and Silas, who were beaten and thrown into a cold, dark, stinking dungeon for preaching the gospel. But at midnight Paul and Silas began singing praises to God. They worshiped the Lord. As they sang, an earthquake came, and the entire prison fell apart. (Talk about bringing the house down.)
It's wonderful when you can be lifted up through worship. I'm not talking about mind over matter; I'm talking about faith over circumstances. I'm not talking about positive thinking; I'm talking about honoring God, who is still on the throne no matter what you're going through.
God may deliver you immediately from your situation as He did with Paul and Silas. Or He may not. Sometimes when you worship the Lord, your problems don't go away, but they don't seem as significant. It's not because your problems have disappeared. It's because you have reevaluated things. As you worship the Lord and think about His glory, His power, His splendor, and His love, then you see Him in perspective.
The word worship comes from an old English word that means "worthship." We should worship God because He is worthy. No matter what we're going through, no matter what our circumstances may be, God merits our worship. The Bible says, "Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever" (Psalm 118:1). We worship God in spite of our circumstances, in spite of what we're going through, because God merits and deserves our worship. And He is always worthy of our worship.
God made us to worship Him. God made us to bring Him pleasure. And God is pleased when we worship Him with a proper heart.
FROM THE HEART
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"Folks, it's all beginning to unravel. America is in more danger of falling than at any time in its history. But I believe Bible prophecy predicts this very decline. From this point on, we believers have to get serious. We are going to face discouragement, disillusionment and, most certainly, persecution in the time between now and the Rapture. But don't be discouraged or disillusioned. The coming turmoil will provide us unrivaled opportunities to share the good news of the Gospel. So be ready to share your faith and your hope with those who need Christ. We still have time to reap a great harvest of souls for God's kingdom!" - Hal Lindsey
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