Prophecy Update Newsletter
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
Israel, the Key to End Time Prophecy - By Pastor Mike Taylor -
"Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: as soon as its twigs get tender and it's leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door."
Look at the world around us. Are not the signs of the soon return of our Lord and Savior not displayed according to God's Holy Word on the condition of this world? What are those signs? Let's list just a few:
1.the moral decay of this world,. The USA is the last nation to expound Godly principles, unfortunately its star is fading as the last great hope of the world. It was likened unto a shining city on a hill, but moral decay will bring her to the pit.
2.the death of 50 million individuals upon the altar of convenience through abortion, or a whole generation in our nation alone, not counting international. This is synonymous with passing the children through the fires of Molech in land of Canaan and ancient Israel. A practice God says He loathes.
3.the decay of the foundation of the nation, the family. Homosexuality, same sex marriage, civil unions, and adoption of children into these families, (sic) and whole generation void of the teachings of the Word of God that's found in your bible.
4.The push recently for a One World government based on climate change? Who really buys this scientific (sic) junk? Catholicism wanting all religions to unite as I spoke in my last message (One World Religion)?
5.the removal by legislation of God from all aspects of legal and civil proceedings, from our schools, from our courts, and from our lives.
6.the removal of our basic freedoms in the USA and a socialist agenda to match Europe and the rest of the world.
7. Wars and rumors of wars and the preaching of the Gospel world-wide.
These are just a few, and we could name many more of the symptoms of a world ripe for judgment and the return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
THE RETURN OF CHRIST IMMINENT
As Christians we should be cultivating fruit worthy of repentance, as we see the possible end of days approaching. We should be aware of our surroundings, as Christ commanded us "to watch". We are to be prepared for what could be coming on the earth very soon. We should be living like He will come today, and He just might.
Just think of the world that we may be living in. Even worse than what we are witnessing right now and it's hard to imagine. The symptoms of the end of the age are piling up quickly, but as the old saying goes, "you ain't seen nothing' yet!"
Jesus warns in Matthew. "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect." ( Matthew 24:24)
We see that happening today and it will get exponentially worse in the coming Tribulation...We see it in our news, on our TV sets and publications and rampant on the internet. Obviously, unless you are well grounded in the Word of God and sound doctrine, a person could be deceived when counterfeit miracles are performed and will lead the person away from the truth. If a true Christian hides the Word of God in his heart and his mind, no manner of lies that mimic God's truth will fool the redeemed child of God. But we must stay close to God by His Holy Spirit and grounded in His Word. That's a warning from our God and Savior as quoted in the verse coming from Matthew's Gospel.
But what should we be doing as Christians in these last days of the closing Age?
11. "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,
teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously and godly, in this present world:
13. Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:
14. Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."( Titus 2: 11-14)
And Jesus Christ gave us a command found in Luke ,
"watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man."( Luke 21:36,)
Jesus commands us to be watchful, alert, studying to "show thyself approved" (II Timothy 2:15) and not neglectful, sticking our heads in the sand and trying to blend into this world. This should be, for each of us, a time of joyous anticipation of the soon return of our King, our Savior, and our Redeemer. Not a time to be fearful , but sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a dying world.
ISRAEL'S REBIRTH, AN END TIME EVENT
Now to the topic of this message. Jesus gave us hints in the Word of God to the time of the signs of His return. Let us look at what our Lord said in Matthew:
"Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: as soon as its twigs get tender and it's leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door."( Matthew 24:32-33)
I have often pondered what Jesus was saying concerning the fig tree. What do you think? Let's look at examples in the Bible where the fig tree was used, as in these scripture passages to prove a point.
"In the morning, as Jesus was returning to Jerusalem, he was hungry, and he noticed a fig tree beside the road. He went over to see if there were any figs on it, but there were only leaves. Then he said to it, 'may you never bear fruit again!' And immediately the fig tree withered up. The disciples were amazed when they saw this and asked, ;How did the fig tree wither so quickly?"
At first glance, it appears that Jesus was upset and disappointed because He was hungry and no figs were found, but was that all He meant? Jesus knew when He went to the fig tree that He would find no figs, as it was not their season. Jesus never did or said anything that did not have a deeper meaning. Figs are symbols of the nation of Israel and its faith, or the lack thereof. Israel was like the fig tree with full leaves. It looked righteous, and looked like it was following Jehovah, but produced no fruit of righteousness, faith, or obedience.
In other places in the Bible, Israel is compared to either a fig tree or an olive tree. Let's go to Jeremiah chapter 24
1 "The LORD shewed me, and, behold, two baskets of figs were set before the temple of the LORD, after that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried away captive Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, and the princes of Judah, with the carpenters and smiths, from Jerusalem, and had brought them to Babylon.
2 One basket had very good figs, even like the figs that are first ripe: and the other basket had very naughty figs, which could not be eaten, they were so bad.
3 Then said the LORD unto me, What seest thou, Jeremiah? And I said, Figs; the good figs, very good; and the evil, very evil, that cannot be eaten, they are so evil.
4 Again the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
5 Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge them that are carried away captive of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans for their good."(Jeremiah 24:11-5)
The people of Israel are compared to figs here, both good and evil in the mentioned verse above.
When Jesus cursed the fig tree, He symbolically and prophetically placed a curse on Israel for their unbelief. The reason for the curse is straightforward. The fig tree, (Israel) failed to bear fruit (faith) even though its leaves indicate it was in season (the appointed time for the coming of the Messiah). Due to it's lack of fruit, the fig tree withered,. Likewise, Israel's lack of faith when presented with her Messiah led to the eventual destruction of the Jewish Temple at the hands of the Romans in AD 70. For 2000 years, the nation of Israel ceased to exist and its people persecuted and cursed. They were sent into exile and dispersed into all the other nations. And Israel was no more.
Let's look at another parable concerning the fig tree, Jesus speaking:
"He spake also this parable; a certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none..
then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none; cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?
And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:
and if it bear fruit, well, and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down."(Luke 13:6-9.)
For three years, Jesus spread His message throughout Israel performing miracles, exhibiting unprecedented knowledge of the Scriptures, and offering ample evidence of His claim to be the long awaited Messiah. Yet despite three years of testimony, Israel refused to believe in the One whom God had sent.
But God in His mercy, will give Israel another chance very soon and the dung He speaks of will be intense persecution, so He may refine them as silver in a hot fire, until He can see His image in them. (Malachi 3:3). The coming Tribulation is a time of God's wrath and judgment on the earth, and for refining Israel, as she has had 4000 years with God trying to teach and reach her. A question to you. Is it meant for God's church to be caught up between God's wrath, and judgment of the earth and refining Israel in the fire? We will answer that in a moment.
ISRAEL IS THE KEY
Everyone knows that Israel became a nation again after almost 2000 years of not being a nation. Never, I repeat, NEVER in the history of mankind, has a fallen nation resurrected to become that nation again, except Israel. Israel is compared to a flowering fig tree and putting on new growth in yet another parable found in Luke chapter 21, starting in verse 29,
29 "And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees;
30 "When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.
31 So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.
32 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.
33 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.........
36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man."(Luke 21:29-33,36)
This whole 21st chapter is pregnant with meaning. I see Jesus putting the order in reverse and the fig tree is stated last, when time wise, it would have been stated first. In verse 29. - And he spake to them a parable. "It is certain," went on the Lord to say, "that summer follows the season when the fig tree and other trees put forth their green shoots. It is no less certain that these things - the fall of Jerusalem, and later the end of the world - will follow closely on the signs I have just told you about." But I would like to key on the word "generation" in verse 32. What is a generation? Many people have tried to develop a time line for the return of our Lord. The Jehovah Witnesses have been doing that since the late 1800s and failed. You and I can't do that. But when does a generation start? Speculation had it that a generation started in 1948. Makes sense, as there are numerous illustrations found in your bible that shows God deals with people in lots of 40 years, before judgment is passed. But is that applicable here?
1. so Jesus would return in 1988, as a generation was theorized to be those 40 years...as previously mentioned. Did not happen.
2. They reasoned further, that a generation started when Jerusalem became the capital of Israel again in 1967, so 2007 was calculated to be the time of His return. Wrong again. Those dates have come and gone. Symptoms of the end time are piling up even faster, as time goes on and we're still here.
I believe here that God is speaking of the life span of those born around this time, as some will be alive to witness His coming. The bible speaks of that generation being 70 years, 80 years by strength. (Psalm 90:10). Do the math.
The whole point of the parables about the fig tree is that the fig tree is Israel. It's been seven decades plus since Israel was once again declared a nation against all worldly odds. In Matthew 24, again, Jesus promises that the generation which witnesses the birth of Israel as a nation again, will not die off until the end of the age comes to pass....What is the end of the age? The return of Jesus Christ as Lord and King and ruler of this world for a 1000 year reign. A lot of you reading this article were born in the 1950s or earlier, right along side the people who were born in Israel during this time of Israel being gathered and becoming a nation. I was born in 1951, so it is possible that I will see my Lord coming in the clouds for His elect before tribulation starts and so will you, if the Lord wills and you have a long life proclaimed..
Given the Bible's impeccable track record, we have every reason to expect the soon return of our Lord to this earth and a wise person will prepare accordingly.
But of this time, Jesus, God of the Old and New Testament gave us comforting words to show us that we have nothing to fear. Let's ponder on a few scriptures that speak of this comfort and our hope in Christ Jesus and answers my question, will the church be caught between the wrath of God and refining Israel?
JESUS REMOVES HIS BRIDE BEFORE THE TRIBULATION
Let's go to 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18, but after we read it, I will go to Isaiah 26:19-21. After we have read these two passages, if you put them side by side and look at each verse, you will see that Isaiah in the Old Testament states in different words the same thought pattern that Paul expressed in 1st Thessalonians chapter 4:
"13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
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 4:13-18)
Now compare these verses with Isaiah:
"19 Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.
20 Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.
21 For, behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain."(Isaiah 26:19-21)
See how close these two passages resemble one another, one in the Old Testament and another in the New Testament, but both speak near the same thing. Isaiah speaks of God's Wrath and hiding us until He is done.
Just as God protected His people during the Passover in Egypt, by the sign of the blood over their doors, God in His wrath, will pass over us because of the blood of His Son and remove us to where He is. Because in the first part of verse 20 in Isaiah 26, the prophet speaks of chambers and shutting thy doors about thee? And about hiding till His indignation passes by? What does it mean? I believe it is explained in by Jesus, when He said:
"Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
2 In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."( John 14:1-3)
Again in Revelation 3:10..when He speaks to the church in Philadelphia:
"Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth."
I have used these passages many times, as the last one with the phrase, "Keep thee from" in Revelation 3:10 is the Greek word "EK" which is a small word that means :
'ἐκ * (ek) (governs the genitive) (of place) (of motion) Out of, from. from, with the source of. to denote change from one place or condition to another."
We are removed from the time and place of His coming wrath, as the wrath of God will cover the whole earth, but His church is not found on this earth.
Note how these verses sprinkled all over your Bible which are just a few, as there are many more, speak of a time when God our Lord Jesus Christ will remove His bride from this earth before His wrath of Almighty God is poured out on an unbelieving world.
Till He comes again, He tells us how to be ready and not be found wanting:
In 1st Thessalonians Paul writes under the guidance of the Holy Spirit:
1, "But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.
2. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
3. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
4. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
5. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
6. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
7. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.
8. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
9. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
10. Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him."(1st Thessalonians 5:1-10)
I have heard sermon after sermon dealing with these scriptures and you could go into great detail of doctrinal teachings of their meaning, but without rambling on the subject and just letting the Words of the Living God speak for itself, we can read these verses and see that in the first 3 chapters of Revelation, that God is dealing with His church. Then taking all the other scriptures that I have quoted, supports that God will remove us from His coming wrath and move us out of the way, as many examples are shown in the Word of God. These examples show God's people being removed before His Wrath is unleashed. When will that be? Many have tried to speculate the Lord's return just as the Jehovah Witness have done to their error.
We don't know for sure, not with any certainty, as Jesus told us. Only the Father knows the exact date and the exact hour, BUT we know the season. And that my brethren, we are living in the last days of that season. Are you prepared and waiting for His blessed return? Have you put on the likeness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Have you put on the whole armour of God (Ephesian 6:11-18) and seeking to endure to the end. If not, I believe it's time to get prepared based on the clear instruction of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
BACK TO ISRAEL
But getting back to Israel as the sign of the end of the Age of Grace, we notice through news sources the unrest in the Middle East. Russia, along with Turkey and Syria have made the Middle East on the verge of war. Iran now building more missiles and seeking to enrich enough uranium to build a nuclear weapon to use on Israel. All the while hiding that they were not living up to their "nuclear deal" that the last idiot in chief forced onto the world. We see Hezbollah in the north of Israel, Hamas in the south, and Iran on the borders of the Golan Heights and wonder, is Israel prepared for a war on three fronts? War could break out at any moment, but never fear, God is on the side of Israel and will destroy those who come against His land and His people....God said it, it will be done.
THE THIRD TEMPLE GROWS CLOSER TO BEING BUILT
I read in the news that the Sanhedrin has asked President Trump to support their effort to build the Third Jewish Temple. As the Persian King, King Cyrus gave Israel the command to build the second Temple, Trump is compared to this Persian King to be the "king" who allows the building of the Third Temple, and that is how the Sanhedrin are looking at our USA President to be that man. Trump has already moved the embassy of the USA to Jerusalem, recognized Jerusalem as the sovereign capital of Israel, and has proclaimed the Golan Heights as belonging to Israel much to the anger of the Arab nations. Trump has shown himself a friend of Israel and the blessing brought upon the USA because of it, are showing in our economy. But will it last?
My question is this. If the plans for the building of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem are being planned and supported by the USA, then how close is the Anti-Christ who will confirm a covenant with Israel and allow the Temple to be rebuilt?? I don't believe Trump is that man, but he is setting up a plan the "Real" man of sin will use to usher in the Tribulation. And if the man of sin is close to being revealed, then we are even closer to the rapture of the Church.
24 "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.
25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
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 9:24-27)
There are many things happening right now that says we are at the end of this age:
From many sermons on the end times, we know that 69 weeks passed till Jesus was crucified on a Roman cross, and the time clock stopped. We still have a week of years, or 7 years that God promised Israel and God will fulfill His promise to them.
President Trump is trying to hammer out a "deal of the century" for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, but I believe it will fail, as the Palestinians led by Abbas are not interested in peace, but the annihilation of Israel being driven into the Mediterranean Sea.
Could this be the covenant that the Anti-Christ confirms with Israel and allows the temple to be built, or possibly even finish its construction? It says he will "confirm a covenant", not make a new one, but enforce one that has already been presented.
War is on the horizon within the Middle East and may even lead the Gog-Magog war found in Ezekiel 38-39. I believe that this war will be so Divinely one sided, as those who attack will die on the mountains of Israel destroying 5/6 of this invading army with only 1/6 having a chance to go back home to their countries, and the plagues possibly following them to their home towns. Thus the Anti-Christ will reveal himself by confirming an already present treaty to prevent another disaster in the heart of his rising empire. As the verses above tell us, he will make a 7 year treaty with Israel, but will break it in the middle of it, and abolish sacrifices in the Temple of God and set himself in the Holy of Holies and proclaim himself to be God.
I am a firm believer that we may see the run-up to this war, but will NOT see its devastation, as Jesus will remove us before the Anti-Christ is revealed.
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)
Many have tried to theorize who "HE" is....but the only "PERSON" who is holding back the complete assault on this earth of unimaginable evil, is God's HOLY SPIRIT that resides in each born again, washed in the blood Christian residing on this earth. So if "HE" is holding back evil through residing in His people, Christians on earth when "HE" is taken out of the way, then His people will be taken out of the way as well, as Jesus said He would never leave us or forsake us and God does not lie. But notice that Israel is the "KEY" to this mystery of when the Lord will enter our world again and shout with a loud trumpet voice "come up hither".
MAKE DECISION THIS SIDE OF THE TRIBULATION
Reader, time is growing short, and the end of this age we call the "age of Grace" where salvation is by faith through grace. The coming tribulation will be a faith drenched in the believing martyrs blood. None of these new believers will be guaranteed to endure to the end, as the Holy Spirit has been removed back to Old Testament times, and a man or woman could very well succumb to the trials, torture and threat of death and loose their salvation and take the mark of the beast. With all the evidence surrounding us, and the drums of war beating continuously, what should you do right now to be taken away from the literal "Hell on earth" that is coming....easy because it only takes faith and true belief in the One Whom God hath sent.
15 "That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
16 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 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18 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." (John 3:15-18)
Believe and put your faith in Jesus Christ and ask Him to come into your life as your personal Savior, in true repentance of your sins, and you shall be saved...what saith God through the apostle Paul?
8 "But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."(Romans 10:8-13)
Do it today, my friend, as the Tribulation and the Anti-Christ are just out of sight, and the rapture is even closer. Don't be left behind to face what is coming.
This is Pastor Mike Taylor, praying God's mercy on all who seek Him. If you have troubles, need counseling, prayer, or just a listening ear, email me at email@example.com, or visit me online for more biblical commentary at www.pastormiketaylor.blogspot.com , . God bless you all, till we meet at Jesus feet.
Russia, Turkey, Iran: Adversaries of the West's NATO Alliance - by Con Coughlin -
Germany's point-blank refusal to support Washington's proposal for a maritime protection force in the Arabian Gulf to protect shipping from attacks by Iran is yet another example of Berlin's diplomatic and economic sabotage of the Western alliance.
Following the recent upsurge in Iranian aggression in the all-important Strait of Hormuz, the Gulf shipping artery through which flows one-fifth of the world's energy needs, Washington has sought international backing for Operation Sentinel, its naval operation to protect shipping in the region.
This search follows a series of Iranian attacks, including the shooting down of a US Navy drone operating in international waters in the Strait of Hormuz, as well as a number of attacks against merchant shipping, such as last month's seizure of the British-registered oil tanker Stena Impero.
But while Washington has responded to Iran's deliberate escalation of tensions in the region by deploying an aircraft carrier battle group, as well as troops, missiles, and fighter aircraft, its appeal to other nations to support its effort have received a muted response.
In particular, Washington would like to see Britain, France and Germany -- the three European signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran -- provide tangible support for the mission.
From Washington's perspective, the fact that Europe is far more reliant on the Gulf for its energy supplies than is the US, whose energy imports from the region today are negligible, it seems only fair that Europe, as well as other beneficiaries such as Japan, pay their fair share towards ensuring no further Iranian disruption of Gulf shipping takes place.
To date, though, only Britain has deployed warships to the Gulf -- a frigate and a destroyer -- while France is considering its options.
Germany, however, the country that enjoys Europe's largest economy and is therefore more than capable of contributing to the American initiative, has bluntly rejected a State Department request to support the mission.
In an attempt to shame the Germans into joining the operation, Washington's request was made public through the US Embassy in Berlin earlier this week. "We've formally asked Germany to join France and the UK to help secure the Straits of Hormuz and combat Iranian aggression," an embassy spokeswoman announced. "Members of the German government have been clear that freedom of navigation should be protected... Our question is, protected by whom?"
The US ploy, though, has fallen on deaf ears in Berlin, where there is considerable opposition within German Chancellor Angela Merkel's ruling coalition to becoming involved for fear that it might exacerbate tensions with Iran. Germany, like the rest of Europe, is still wedded to the naive notion that the Iranian nuclear deal can be saved, irrespective of the Trump administration's decision last year to withdraw from the agreement.
Olaf Scholz, the German vice-chancellor, who is deputizing for Mrs Merkel while she is on vacation, responded by confirming that his country would not take part in a US-led naval taskforce; he warned about the danger of the world "sleepwalking into a much larger conflict".
Germany's outright rejection of Washington's request is likely to inflame tensions further between Washington and Berlin. U.S. President Donald J. Trump is already at odds with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on a range of issues, from Germany's obstinate refusal to meet its Nato funding commitments to its pursuit of closer energy ties with Russia through the construction of the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
Mr Trump is highly critical of the project. He argues that it will make Europe, and especially Germany, too dependent on Moscow for its energy needs, which could undermine the resolve of the Nato alliance to take a robust stand against Moscow in any future confrontation.
Moreover, Germany's refusal to support the Western alliance in combating Iranian aggression in the Gulf comes at a time when Nato is facing another major dilemma over the future participation of Turkey as a member.
This follows the decision by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to press ahead with the purchase of Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems in the face of strong opposition from Washington, which has responded by cancelling Ankara's continued involvement in the F-35 stealth fighter program.
So, at a time when the Western alliance is already struggling with how to respond to Turkey's deepening military ties with Russia, Germany's refusal to fulfil its obligations to protect shipping in the Gulf will be interpreted by adversaries of the West such as Moscow and Tehran as yet further evidence of what would doubtless please them very much: deepening divisions within the Western alliance.
Nearing Midnight: Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 Puts Final Nail in the Tea -Party Coffin - Todd Strandberg -
The Tea-Party movement began as a reaction to the massive budget shortfall that was triggered by the Great Recession. To save Wall Street from its bad bets on subprime mortgages, the Federal government created the $700 billion TARP program. The loss of millions of jobs caused the annual budget deficit to skyrocket.
By 2009, the deficit had exceeded $1 trillion for the first time, reaching $1.4 trillion. Horrified by Washington spenders, CNBC's Rick Santelli stood on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on February 19, 2009, and called for a "tea party" to end the bailouts, stimulus payments, and red ink. Grassroots Tea-Party groups formed and helped Republicans capture the House in 2010 with a stunning 63-seat pickup and also pick up seven Senate seats.
Unfortunately, this victory proved to be the apex of the Tea-Party movement. Without the leverage of the debt limit, President Obama and Senate Democrats could easily block House Republican spending reforms. The Tea-Party members managed to get $200 billion in promised budget cuts, but these so-called cuts were frequently pushed off into the future until they were finally forgotten.
Many of the Tea-Party lawmakers who had come to Washington to reform government quickly became part of the swamp they had promised to drain. It is simply more fun to spend money. When it's taxpayer's money, the thrill is all the more seductive.
The death of the Tea-Party movement and all efforts for budget control came last week when Republican and Democrat leaders agreed to the bill labeled the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019. This two-year agreement raises spending to $320 billion above previously negotiated spending caps and suspends the debt ceiling for two years.
The Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, may have difficulties in trying to sell IOUs to balance the nation's books. By using budgetary tricks, Mnuchin has allowed the cash reserves of the Treasury to trickle down to dangerously low levels. To get back to normal, Mnuchin will need to find buyers for $815 billion in new debt in the next few months. The world has always purchased up whatever debt we offered them, but bond auctions north of $100 billion may cause the Chinese and Japanese to question the soundness of owning more of our debt.
For the past few years, Washington has used the end of the fiscal year in Sept to lower the size of the annual deficit. In 2017, we were said to have a deficit of $660 billion; and in 2018, we were reported to have a $780 billion budget deficit. If you go back two years and look at the Treasury's total nation debt records, you would see it increased by $2 trillion. The missing $560 billion deficit is the result of the Treasury spitting out new debt in October and then not counting it as part of that year's budget.
In fiscal year 2019, we are projected to have a deficit of $1.25 trillion. The real number is $1.5 trillion. If we add the $170 billion that just passed in the Bipartisan Budget Act, the current shortfall will now be around $1.7 trillion. Since there will be more spending projects in the near future, we are going to reach a $2 trillion annual deficit in a very brief period of time.
There is no way we can afford to have another recession without triggering a financial meltdown. Since the last recession, the world has added $63 trillion of debt. Wall Street has leveraged up to levels far beyond where it was in 2008. It is easy to see a deficit of $3-5 trillion if the Great Recession II were to play out.
We are now going into the 10th year of what is the longest period of economic growth in American history. The Federal Reserve lowered interest rates last week by .25% during a time of low unemployment and record stock prices. It made that unusual move because the Fed governors can see the strain debt is having on the global economy. Calamity is headed in our direction, and it is only a matter of time before the fundamental rule of basic economics catches up with us.
Because the rapture is said to be a timeless and tranquil event, I believe it will happen before we reach the breaking point. The longer things hold together, the more convinced I've become that there is a connection between the economy and the rapture. It is obvious that something will happen in short order.
"But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be" (Matthew 24:37).
"For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way" (2 Thessalonians 2:7).
Draw Closer to the Light - Nathele Graham -firstname.lastname@example.org
"And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." John 3:19.
The world is in a mess. Everywhere we look we see doom and gloom. Chaos seems to rule and liberal beliefs are infesting the hearts of men...and women. In the United States there were two tragic shooting incidents recently, and the nation has had our hearts broken. These tragedies are becoming all too frequent. Though we are horrified, this shouldn't be a surprise to Christians because we are in the last days and Scripture tells us that the hearts of humanity will grow colder. I'm not writing today about those shootings, but about the darkness that lives in the hearts of secular people. That darkness permeates our world and is trying to extinguish the Light of God. That darkness is from Satan.
People will often blame God when tragedy strikes. Whether that tragedy is a mass murder, an evil rape, or a single murder of any kind, the first reaction is to blame God. In many cases it's our choice that puts us in a perilous situation. Not always, but quite often that's the case. Did the young woman who cries rape choose to go to a frat party? The rape shouldn't have happened, but if she wasn't in the wrong place she wouldn't have been put in danger. When a person chooses to pursue carnal lusts and worldly pleasures, they choose to follow Satan. Christians must learn to make choices based on Biblical truth and turn from the wickedness of the world. "And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness." 1 John 5:19. The god of this world is Satan. Many video games, TV shows, movies, and song lyrics glorify Satan and mock the one true God. It isn't always easy to turn from the darkness because those things tempt us to sin. They often offer temporary pleasure, but that pleasure doesn't last.
Christians make a mistake by keeping silent and playing the games, watching the shows, and listening to the music that promote evil. Those things control our hearts. How many hours do you spend studying Scripture, talking with God, or doing good works in His name? How many hours do you spend in secular activity? Parents...take the Iphone away. Look into the vaccinations your children get and the mind-altering drugs they are prescribed to counteract the side effects of those vaccinations. Learn about the drug list that most, if not all, of the shooters were prescribed. Parents put your foot down and don't allow the secular music and movies to shape your child's life. Parents, here's the tough thing you can do, homeschool your children. Easy? Not really because most parents have given into the temptations of this world. You might have to give up some of your toys...multiple cars, big mortgage payment, or that spectacular vacation, but the soul of your child is more important than the secular teaching you allow them to be brainwashed with. "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Proverbs 22:6. Lead by example. Most parents encourage secular sports or allow their kids to "hang out" with secular friends. Ask the parents of the young girl who was brutally stabbed by two "friends" who were obeying a demon what they would do differently. Give your children the courage to stand for Jesus rather than wanting to be accepted by secular friends. Teach your children to not be ashamed of following Christ, even if people mock them. Teach them what Jesus did for them on the cross and how He endured the mocking and rejection of many people around Him. He chose men to "hang out" with who were willing to draw closer to the Light of the World rather than follow the darkness of Satan.
Here's another very real part of the mass murder tragedies, or any other death: How many of the victims knew Jesus? That question won't be addressed by the news media, but it could be the eternal tragedy of these deaths. The partiers in Dayton, the shoppers in El Paso, the crowd in Las Vegas, and even those sitting in the pews when a killer entered a congregation with a gun, have all stepped into eternity. If you're a victim tomorrow, your choice today makes the eternal difference. Jesus Himself sent Paul on a mission to spread the Gospel. "To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me." Acts 26:18. That mission is given to every Christian. If we don't put Christ first in our lives, live so others can see Him in us, and speak boldly for His truth then the darkness will grow stronger and the power of Satan will infect everyone. A person living in darkness and serving the god of this world can repent and turn their life over to Christ if a Christian will be a witness to him. Jesus will forgive every sin whether homosexuality, abortion, mass shootings, or telling lies. If you've led someone to a saving faith in Jesus, don't walk away. That new babe in Christ must be guided in their walk. Teach them to follow Christ. Use Scripture, both the Old and New Testaments. Be firm about what Scripture discloses as sin and help them to turn away from darkness. Don't let failures stumble them in their walk, but teach them to recognize their sin and confess to Jesus and seek His forgiveness. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:8-9. We all need to examine our way of life so we can turn from the darkness and draw nearer to the Light of Jesus.
Everyone was dead in sin before accepting the free gift of salvation only found in Jesus. Prior to accepting Christ you may have willingly participated in much sin and found temporary pleasure in it. True acceptance of Christ's gift of salvation should change your mind about what things you find pleasure in. "For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of the light: (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) proving what is acceptable unto the Lord." Ephesians 5:8-10. Christ saves us but then we have a responsibility to allow Him to change us. Darkness and Light cannot exist simultaneously, and we can't continue in sin and claim to follow Him. Temptations will always come our way, and those stumbling blocks are satanic. Be careful about the things you see. The eye can allow darkness into your whole being and even the strongest Christian can stumble. "The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, they whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is the darkness!" Matthew 6: 22-23. It's a sad comment on life today that Christians cannot be distinguished from non-Christians. Rather than putting Christ first He is put on a back shelf. Because of our silence we have allowed Satan to take over our schools, our politics, and even our churches. Jesus said "I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness." John 12:46. No wonder Satan's darkness is overshadowing the Light of God...Christians choose to abide in darkness rather than drawing closer to the Light.
We never know when our life will be taken. No matter how you die or when you die, you have a choice as to how you will live. You may be shopping at Wal-Mart when a demon possessed person pulls the trigger and your life is over. Make your eternal choice now. When you choose to accept Jesus Christ for salvation you then need to draw closer to His Light. If you've accepted His free gift of salvation, no matter how you die you will live eternally with Him. Don't leave the choice of your eternal destination until it's too late. Draw near to the Light of God today or forever dwell in darkness.
God bless you all,
Ron and Nathele Graham's previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html
All original scripture is "theopneustos" God breathed.
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Daily Jot: To every thing there is a season - Bill Wilson -
Ecclesiastes 3 begins with "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven." Verse 4 says, "A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance." Verse 7 says, "A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak." These are good words. They are reverent words. Sound advice. There is a time-in other words, there is not only a time for something to occur, like mourning after a loss of a loved one, but also a time when something is appropriate, such as when to keep silence and when to speak. It has to do with discerning what is before you. Sometimes it is good to allow the moment to play out from a position of respect and honor.
For example, it is appropriate for a leader, such as a president, to make remarks of sympathy and condolence when a tragedy occurs. It is also appropriate to reach out to the families to comfort them. President Donald Trump has done both. In his statement immediately after the shootings in Texas and Ohio, he said, "In one voice, our nation must condemn racism, bigotry, and white supremacy. These sinister ideologies must be defeated. Hate has no place in America. Hatred warps the mind, ravages the heart, and devours the soul." How can he be more direct than that? He also has visited those who were wounded at their respective hospitals and has respected the families who are mourning their losses.
It is inappropriate for leaders to use the tragedy for political gain. Immediately, those with whom Trump disagrees politically began raising images of the Ku Klux Klan, and saying that Trump incited the killers to act, that Trump has a racist campaign. And many people believe it. But is this the time and place for such noise? The immediate past president took a swipe at Trump, saying, "We should soundly reject language coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred or normalizes racist sentiments; leaders who demonize those who don't look like us, or suggest that other people, including immigrants, threaten our way of life, or refer to other people as sub-human, or imply that America belongs to just one certain type of people." As he so often does, however, he was stating the obvious even about his own leaders.
The constant visceral coming from the mouths of politicians who believe that just disagreeing with "those who don't look like us" is bigotry or racism irrespective of the issue cannot be ignored. It is these people who have been banging the cymbal the loudest. Presidents and politicians cannot control what mentally ill hatemongers do to others. They are the outliers who potentially are triggered by rhetoric. In Dayton and El Paso, there were radicals on the extremes of the left and the right who killed innocents. It should be a lesson to all who have denigrated disagreement to such base and weaponized terms. Leaders should be bridge-builders, not vessels of hate over political disagreements. But, then again, to every thing there is a season. This one is a sad season that could be ended by responsible and respectful behavior.
Daily Devotion: A Faith Worth Sharing - by Greg Laurie -
Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest. -Psalm 126:5-6
The film Schindler's List is based on the true story of Oskar Schindler, a German businessman who saw how the Nazis were persecuting the Jews. So he began hiring more and more Jewish people to work for him in his factories, with the objective of saving them from the Nazis.
In fact, that is what he spent the rest of his life doing. He essentially put all his money into it and ended up saving more than a thousand Jewish people. Today their descendants are many. But in the film, Schindler laments that he couldn't have saved more.
I wonder if we will look back on our lives and say, "I should have shared my faith more. I should have told more people"?
I think when we get to Heaven, we will wish that we had done more when we were on this earth. There is happiness in telling others about Jesus. Psalm 126 says, "Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. They weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest" (verses 5-6 NLT).
Conversion is the work of the Holy Spirit. God doesn't hold us accountable for how many people come to Christ through our testimony or sharing. I've never converted a single person and never will. And if I had, then he or she would be one sorry convert.
My job is to sow the seeds of the gospel. My job is to live the Christian life. My job is to look for opportunities to engage people in evangelistic conversations. The results are up to God.
Sharing our faith changes the lives and destinies of those who believe. It's one of the few things we can do in this life that has eternal ramifications.
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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