Prophecy Update Newsletter
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
Signs of the Times - By Steve Meehan -
One of my passions every few years is to take a trip out to the southwest of the United States and to explore the wide-open spaces of our country, where a small part of the Lord's creation is marvelously on display. My job as a pilot, flying internationally, takes me to a lot of heavily congested areas of the world, so the trips out West are a welcome reprieve from the densely populated metropolitan centers of the globe that I travel to, and allow me to get lost for a few days at a time in the far less crowded desert regions of the Old West, while soaking in the stunning vistas in that part of the World.
I've also developed an affinity for the locomotives that traverse those wide-open regions, and have had to stop my car on numerous times in order to get the "perfect shot" of the trains hauling their seemingly mile long haul of cargo amidst the backdrop of the green cacti and the setting sun-lighted desert dunes in the distance. I'm convinced now that if I wasn't flying airplanes for a living, that being an engineer in one of those iron horses, as it plods its way through spectacular scenery-would not be a bad gig.
Another byproduct of these getaways, has been the opportunity to discover billboards, murals and other depictions of the development and settling of the western towns that dot the desert landscape, that go back as far as the native Americans who used to dwell in these regions. The murals are quite colorful and really stand out.
A stopover town that I frequent quite often on these adventures - and one that I am currently in and hence the inspiration for this article - is the desert community of Barstow, where numerous murals appear on sides of buildings, throughout the old section of town. These signs of the times, hand painted by locals, give a rendering of the tribes who once settled there-the pioneers who later journeyed through the region, the railroad that steamed its way across these sands opening up the west, and even of the infamous Route 66, that mother road ribbon of highway that cuts a swath across the nation, from Chicago to Southern California.
These signs of the times point us back to yesteryear and a bygone era of the growth and development of our fledgling nation. They encapsulate, in a brief snapshot, of what had transpired in the past and how we got to where we are today.
By contrast, to the students of Bible prophecy and really to all Christians who should be reading the Word, the signs of the times that we see developing in our present day are pointing us forward, to what is foretold to happen in these last days. The signs are pointing from every direction that the end is near - for the Church Age, anyway, and that soon-Christ will be returning for His Body of believers, and that a final seven-year period for the inhabitants of the earth is about to get underway.
Like the tracking and forecasting of Hurricane Irma that is about to make landfall in southern Florida, the impending impact of the Tribulation hour is very near. Indicators and warning flags are all around us. While storms like Harvey and now Irma, were being tracked days in advance, thus allowing for people to make preparations for its arrival, the final seven years of human government before Christ would return and rule from Jerusalem, was first announced back in Old Testament times.
The prophets Daniel, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Joel and others first foretold of its coming centuries ago. Jesus, even in the New Testament, spoke of its onset, when His disciples asked about the end of the age. And lastly, the apostle John wrote of its occurrence in the final chapter of the Bible, in the book of Revelation. The tracking of this event has long been underway and we are witnessing the climatic buildup as it nears us with each passing hour.
There is no chance that this storm will veer off and away from us; it will be all encompassing. Everyone left on the earth will feel its wrath and unlike a typical hurricane that sticks around for a few days, then eventually moves on or downgrades, this event will last a full seven years, and will only intensify until finally the Lord Jesus returns to earth and puts an end to its carnage. The entire globe will be engulfed in this catastrophe and the devastation will be unfathomable.
How can we be so sure that this prophesied event is soon to happen? Every sign that was scribed to herald its impact is before our eyes today. One cannot watch the 24-hour news channels, read a newspaper, or surf the internet without seeing the indicators of the nearness of this event.
An ear-piercing claxon warning that is hard to miss in regard to how close we are, is the foretold "Rumors of War" condition that Jesus forewarned about to His Apostles in Matthew 24. There is no escaping the fact that we are a single military misstep away from a possible nuclear exchange with North Korea. The rhetoric and actions of the regime in Pyongyang defies logic, and they seem hell bent on provoking the USA into taking military action on the North Korean missile sites. That, in turn, would trigger a retaliatory response from Kim Jong-Un on South Korea and/or even Japan. I'm convinced that only God's restraining hand is presently holding off what could be an imminent situation only until after the Rapture of the Church.
Also under the rumors of war category would be what is presently taking place in Syria. The Bible is Israel centric, and so most of Bible prophecy is also Israel centric, or how Israel is affected by the events of Bible prophecy. A sign of the times billboard that should be highly visible to prophetic watchers is the fulfillment and nearness of the Isaiah 17 prophecy, regarding the destruction of Damascus.
With all the turmoil that has been ravaging the country of Syria these past five or six years, it has allowed for enemies of Israel, such as Iran and Hezbollah, to gain an even stronger foothold in that nation and to plot their evil deeds against the Jewish state.
Israel is extremely concerned with this current situation, and has been making forays into Syria destroying the cache of chemical weapons that could be used against the Jewish people. It is only a matter of time until the Isaiah 17 prophecy turns from being a foretold event to one that sees its fulfillment.
I don't see Israel taking a preventive measure that initiates that occurrence, but will more than likely take strong retaliatory action only after being attacked from some party within Syria, be it the Syrians themselves, the occupying Russian forces now firmly entrenched in the country, or most probably from a disguised attack from Iranian forces in Syria, or their Hezbollah proxies. To take military action to level a city like Damascus is no small matter and the worldwide outcry will be fierce, so to warrant such an occurrence, means that something huge has occurred to initiate such a measured response.
Still in the rumors of war dialogue, is the prophesied invasion of Israel by the forces of Gog and an Islamic confederation as foretold by the prophet Ezekiel (chapters 38 and 39). Now, with Russia taking up positions in nearby Syria, and with Iranian forces and proxies also in the next-door nation, an eventual military campaign from that region can be better effected. Might such an action like the destruction of Damascus by Israel cause the invasion of these forces, or will the Isaiah 17 prophecy occur in conjunction with the opening salvo of the Gog/Magog campaign? Time will tell.
The last seven years or the Tribulation period are also described as "The times of Jacob's trouble." The buildup and present actions of those who wish to destroy Israel are now taking up positions in Syria, and plotting their evil schemes, it can't be too much longer until these demonically influenced forces are given the green light to carry out their prophesied and doomed advances.
Another sign of the times is the development of the one world religion that is foretold to be in existence during the final seven years. Prophecy watchers have seen the stages of this entity taking shape, under the guidance and manipulation of the past few popes and their ecumenical drive to bring all religions under the Vatican's influence. We've seen the images of Pope John Paul II kissing the Quran, in an attempt to curry favor with the Islamic peoples and bring them into a closer alliance with the Roman Catholic Church. If that man would have been a true servant of Christ, he should have realized that the Quran denies that Jesus went to the cross, paid the penalty for our sins in an excruciating manner and that Jesus Christ is God. Why kiss such a lie-filled book, unless one had ulterior motives?
The Roman Catholic Church's "Home to Rome" campaign has long been underway to entice those of us who were lead away from their bondage by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to once again reunite with them and give up our wayward position of trusting in Christ alone for our salvation. All is forgiven, and we "separated brethren"-formerly called heretics, can now go home to our "Mother Church"-the only true means of salvation, as they mistakenly contend.
They have pulled out all the stops in welcoming not only Protestants, but adherents of all faiths - Muslim, Buddhists, Mormons, you name it - anybody and everybody - to join up with them, just as long as the pope and the Vatican are the controlling force. And now Francis is even claiming that homosexuals are probably welcomed into heaven; in other words, he is trying to say that all peoples of any stripe or persuasion can seek entrance into the Catholic system, and pay their allegiance to the Roman Pontiff, thus ensuring one's salvation. The fulfillment of the one world religion system has never looked more promising and this sign of the times has never been clearer.
The march to a one world government has also been long underway, but was momentarily derailed by events like Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. Barak Hussein Obama did all he could to further the ambitions of the globalists, and his supposed heir apparent Hillary Rodham Clinton, would have even further diminished the influence of the USA, by us giving up our sovereignty to the whims of a ruling elite in Europe.
Thank God for the brief timeout we were blessed with by the election of a D.C. outsider. Obviously, the mainstream media is still incensed by that turn of events and one cannot do a channel search without hearing some negative comment or see the bottom of the TV screen crawl that depicts President Trump in a bad light. Those people are so out of their minds with fury, that the "news" has become unbearable to watch.
But, alas, the Bible does warn that a one world government will arise, so it is only a matter of time until it takes place. Something will happen that will cause America to lose its influence and give way to the rise of the Antichrist and his one world government. Even with Brexit and Trump, nothing can stop its formation as it has already been prophesied to occur.
The Rapture could be, and probably will be, the "mother of all signs" (to use middle east parlance and sometimes bluster) to usher in and eventuate all the signs together to begin the "Day of the Lord. The build up to the Tribulation period is preceded by all the signs happening in the world right now. Many believe the inking or confirming of the seven-year peace deal with Israel and her neighbors is the actual start of the Tribulation period.
With the Church gone, that also allows for the 144,000 Jewish evangelists to go out and spread the gospel of Christ. Did you know-if you do the math-that 144,000 divided by say, 200 countries in the world comes out to approx. 720 evangelists for each nation?! That is an incredible number. No wonder that there are so many Tribulation saints that come out of that period, thanks to the Jews (again!) and all for the glory of God. To break down that number even further, 720 would equate to about 14.4 evangelists, of say, apostle Paul or maybe even Billy Graham caliber per state in the USA. That is an astonishing number.
The Rapture will of course remove the true church of Christ and give rise to an apostate false church, whose ascendancy has long been underway. She will be transformed into an amalgamation of all different religions, creeds and beliefs and its influence will be worldwide. Its leader, will even point the masses to a new worldwide ruler, who, might even come out her ranks. We shall see.
The signs of the times are all around us; the end is near. Along the old Route 66, Burma Shave had signs positioned sequentially, so as you progressed down the road, beginning with the first sign, reading each one, you would finally reach the last sign and put together a complete, if not whimsical promotion for their product. Unlike the humor found in those advertising gimmicks, we are progressing further and further along the road that leads to disaster, especially for the soul not prepared for its impending arrival. We are immersed in the signs and action needs to be taken to avoid calamity. Each sign of the times is followed by another.
There is a way out from what lies ahead. There is a detour that keeps us on a safe, narrow path. His name is Jesus Christ. He proclaims:
"I am the Way, the Truth and the Life: no one comes to the Father but by me" (John 14:6)
Why the attempt at taking another route? If one sees barricades blocking an unsafe section of highway ahead, isn't it the smart move to follow the signs that lead away from the danger?
By rejecting the only means of salvation, not only will one have to endure years through the Tribulation period (it is seven years long) but the chances of surviving the entire time is slim. And then after that, if one still rejects Christ's free gift of redemption, that person will spend an eternity in the lake of fire. Will it be worth it? Hardly.
Heed the following sign:
"Enter in at the narrow gate: for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many there be that go in that way" (Matthew 7:13)
Please take notice of the signs of the times. Christ is coming soon for His Body of believers. Impending peril lies dead ahead. The world will be thrust into calamitous times. There'll be no escaping it. Plan your evacuation now, before it is too late.
The Antichrist and False Prophet will soon emerge on to the world scene deceiving people, and forcing them into accepting a mark-that not only allows for buying and selling but will also signify that you have rejected Christ and His gospel of free grace, and instead have opted to worship the Beast. This will seal your doom eternally.
Whoever takes the mark of the beast will find themselves in a Christ-less eternity. You may escape the wrath of the Dragon while on earth, but you will not escape the eternal flames of the lake of fire, as meted out at the Great White Throne Judgment, presided over by the Lamb of God (aka the Lion of the tribe of Judah, Jesus the Christ).
Say yes to Christ now, and you will detour all that lies ahead. Your name will be written in the Lamb's Book of Life, a glorious future will await you, and Jesus will soon snatch you out of this world before the seven-year tribulation begins.
Signs warn of danger. They are only effective if one reads, then heeds.
"And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, lift up your heads, for your redemption draws near." (Luke 21:28)
"'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?' And they said, 'Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shall be saved.'" (Acts 16:31)
Is the Rapture Upon Us? Here's the Full Story Behind the September 23rd Biblical 'Prophecy' - By Billy Hallowell -
There's a great deal of chatter surrounding September 23, a date that some believe will be prophetic in nature, with theories ranging from the claim that the skies will point to a coming "rapture" to the fear that something cataclysmic could unfold that day.
Last month, Gary Ray, a writer for Unsealed, a Christian publication, told The Washington Post his take on the matter, noting that he sees the alignment of the stars, sun and moon on Sept. 23 as one of the signs that the rapture - the belief that Jesus will take Christians up into the skies before the terrors of the end times kick into high gear - is coming.
Ray said that the recent Great American Eclipse on Aug. 21 was potentially a prophetic sign as well (we covered this extensively), but it's the cosmic event on Sept. 23 that is now getting a great deal of attention just days before it unfolds.
"We think it's God signaling to us that he's about to make his next move," Ray said.
So, what exactly will be happening on that day? While much of the speculation can't be substantiated, there are some facts that can be plainly detailed and discussed, scientifically speaking.
"On this date, the sun will be in the constellation Virgo (the virgin), along with the moon near Virgo's feet. Additionally, Jupiter will be in Virgo, while the planets Venus, Mars, and Mercury will be above and to the right of Virgo in the constellation Leo," Christian ministry Answers in Genesis explained in a recent blog post. "Some people claim that this is a very rare event (allegedly only once in 7,000 years) and that it supposedly is a fulfillment of a sign in Revelation 12."
Before we continue, though, let's look at Revelation 12 to see what language, if any, might lead people to assume that there's some sort of end-times connection to this celestial happening. A quick look at the chapter does reveal some interesting text:
A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth.
With all of this in mind, the central claim is that the alignment of the constellations, sun and moon will somehow be a celestial representation of what's described in Revelation 12.
We'll dig a bit deeper on that front, but let's first look at the rest of Ray's views on the matter. He also sees the 2017 eclipse and the next in 2024 as the potential start and end caps for the seven-year, end-times tribulation period that many believe is detailed in the Bible.
"That time frame is speculative, 2017 to 2024. But it makes a lot of sense," he told the Post. "There are a lot of things that really point us to that."
In the end, Ray said that it's important for people to "just trust God" and to be ready for what's to come.
There are other theories surrounding Sept. 23 as well. Some ideas also appear to revolve around "Planet X" (also known as Nibiru). NASA has actually covered the topic on its website, considering that the purported planet has been evoked in past proclamations about the potential catalyst for Earth's destruction.
"The story started with claims that Nibiru, a supposed planet discovered by the Sumerians, is headed toward Earth," NASA noted back in 2012. "This catastrophe was initially predicted for May 2003, but when nothing happened the doomsday date was moved forward to December 2012 and linked to the end of one of the cycles in the ancient Mayan calendar at the winter solstice in 2012 - hence the predicted doomsday date of December 21, 2012."
Clearly, the Earth didn't end on any of those dates, though a new book titled, "Planet X - The 2017 Arrival," written by author David Meade, is being credited with helping fuel speculation once again about the purported planet. The book's description reads:
This book is a compendium of information from every sphere-astronomical, scientific, the Book of Revelation and geopolitics. It contains absolutely amazing revelations that direct us to one precise point in time in 2017. Planet X is a cryptogram and this book contains the keys necessary to decode it. When everything is considered together, it fits together perfectly like a watch. The existence of Planet X is beyond any reasonable doubt, to a moral certainty. We examine proofs of its existence. ... I have seen Planet X on the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) through WorldWide Telescope. This is a NASA infrared-wavelength astronomical space telescope, launched in December 2009. It is currently in the constellation Pisces, and is clearly marked as an Unidentified Object (but quite plainly visible dark red star) known as IC 5385.
Reactions to Meade's claims haven't been too favorable, with Metro among other outlets calling people who push the narrative "internet YouTube weirdoes." Read more about that here.
Pulling back a bit, let's revisit some of the more benign beliefs and claims about Sept. 23 being a prophetic date of sorts. Creation.com recently tackled this issue and skeptically questioned why so many people find the need to try and tie specific and definitive events with prophecy and the biblical end times.
The website cited Matthew 24:36, a verse that reads, "But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only," and said the following of specific claims that the stars, moon and sun will reflect the text detailed in Romans 12:
So what would the woman be? Apparently Virgo, the virgin, the second-largest constellation by area in the sky (after Hydra). However, there is no historical relation between the constellation and the virgin Mary or any other biblical woman until the Middle Ages. Long before that time, the Greeks and Romans mostly identified the constellation with Demeter/Ceres, the goddess of harvest. Other candidates include the Roman virgin goddess of justice, Justitia; or the Greek virgin goddess of purity, Astraea. So there is no indication that the writer of Revelation had this constellation in mind. So we don't agree with 'Gospel in the stars' ideas for that reason, also because of its implicit denial of the sufficiency of Scripture.
The above should be enough to exercise proper biblical discernment, but what about other claims? First, the sun will be in Virgo. But since Virgo is part of the Zodiac, this happens once per year by definition-the sun spends about a month 'in' each of the 12 signs! The Zodiac is the sky around the ecliptic, the apparent path the sun traces in the sky, or under the correct geokinetic model, the plane of the earth's orbit around the sun.
Another supposed sign is the moon at the 'feet' of Virgo. But since the moon orbits the earth once per month, and the sun 'stays' a month 'in' each it's not surprising that one or two days every year, both the sun and moon will be 'in' Virgo.
Both Answers in Genesis and Creation.com concluded that mostly likely, nothing will happen on September 23 and that "biblical prophecy," in the eyes of those ministries, isn't likely to come to fruition on that day.
"Christians need to be careful about being drawn into such sensationalist claims," Creation.com warned.
And Christopher Graney, writing for Earth Sky, noted that, the "woman clothed with the sun with the moon at her feet" is just as common in September as is Labor Day due, in part, to the Earth's orbit, so this arrangement isn't exactly rare.
Graney wrote, "There is always a day or two every year when the sun is in Virgo and the moon is just to the east of Virgo (just past the 'feet')." He continued:
But what of the crown of 12 "stars," comprised of three planets and the nine stars of Leo? The response to this question is another question - why nine stars in Leo? There are many more than nine stars in Leo. Those nine are just brighter ones that are often depicted as comprising the general outline or shape of the constellation. But in fact there are scads of stars in Leo and surrounding the "head" of Virgo. [...]
And yes, multiple planets being at Virgo's head while Jupiter is in Virgo's center and the moon is at Virgo's feet is somewhat unusual. But it is not that unusual. The period of Jupiter's orbit is a little less than 12 years, and therefore Jupiter will be in Virgo (with the sun there, too, and the moon at the feet) once every 11 or 12 years.
In the end, the arrangement has happened more frequently than the once in 7,000 years that some are claiming. In fact, the it happened in 1827, 1483, 1293 and 1056 - all in the month of September.
One final note: Jesus does say in Luke 21:25 that "there will be signs in the sun, moon and stars" when the disciples ask about the end times, which is potentially fueling the quest to decipher purported messages in the skies.
Iran buildup in Southern Syria - riposte for IDF drill - http://www.debka.com/article/26223/Iran-buildup-in-S-Syria---riposte-for-IDF-drill
Iran, Syria and Hezbollah sharpened their responses to the large-scale Israeli military war game against a potential Hezbollah invasion when, on Tuesday, Sept. 12, the drill began its second week with a simulated 30km-deep thrust into S. Lebanon - up to the Awali River.
Lebanese sources claimed that on Monday, Syria had fired S-200 missiles against two Israeli F-15 fighter bombers flying over the southern Lebanese port town of Sidon - but missed their targets. The Syrian missiles, they claimed, had been fired from "an air defense base in southern Syria."
This report was not confirmed by any other source. But it was accompanied by a photo on various Syrian social media, which claimed to depict the firing of these missiles and also presented a Lebanese military spokesman as saying that the Syrian missiles were fired at precisely 11.30 a.m. when the Israeli planes were over Sidon.
The Lebanese and Syrian media accounts are clearly coordinated.
If this episode actually happened, it would be a game changer, in that for the first time, Syria would have launched missiles from one of its bases against a purported Israel warplanes flying over Lebanon.
Even if the two allies were just sending a message to Jerusalem by drumming up an incident, it gains substance from its timing, i.e. five days after an Israeli air strike on Syria's chemical and missile weapons development facility, the Scientific Studies and Research Cemnter near Masyaf, 38 km west of the central town of Hama.
Syrian military sources are moreover reporting an onrush of Iranian officers, troops and military advisers to southern Syria. According to one official, "Many Iranians are deployed as advisers and police in southern Syria, especially in the de-escalation zones." Another Syrian official put it more plainly. "We have seen a big increase in the number of Iranian soldiers this month."
|debkafile's military sources confirm that these reports are partially correct. An Iranian military buildup indeed appears to be taking place on Syria's borders with Jordan and Israel, in response to Israel's mock thrust into Lebanon. But they are moving in on areas outside the de-escalation zones which are manned by Russian officers. Their tactic therefore is to entrench themselves in other parts of the southeastern Syria so that Russian, Iranian, Syrian and Hezbollah forces form a continuous, impermeable line along Syria's borders with Israel and Jordan.
On Sunday, Sept. 11, units of the Syrian army's 5th Corps moved in on large sections of the Jordanian border, including parts close to Israel.
Neither the IDF nor the Jordanian army interfered with any of these potentially menacing steps. They are seen by debkafile's military sources as a combined Syrian-Iranian-Hezbollah comeback for the IDF exercise, to demonstrate that, while Israel shows itself capable of invading Lebanon, the three allies have meanwhile become firmly ensconced on its northern border.
The next day, Hezbollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah boasted: "We have won the war in Syria. Our martyrs, wounded, captives and people are changing equations and writing the region's history, not just Lebanon's."
What is Putin planning? Massive Russian war game set to launch Thursday on borders of three NATO countries & Ukraine - Joel C. Rosenberg -
Is Russia preparing to invade another European country, or simply training its forces to do so in the future?
That's the big question as Vladimir Putin prepares to launch a massive series of war games on Thursday dangerously close to the borders of three NATO member states - the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - as well as Ukraine, which Russia has invaded and occupied portions of twice since 2014.
While it sounds eerily similar to the plot of my forthcoming political thriller, The Kremlin Conspiracy, the exercise - code-named "Zapad-2017" (Zapad in Russian means "West") is all-too-real. It is set to begin on September 14 and conclude on September 20th, and tensions in the region are high.
Some says the concerns are overblown and that Moscow has no intention of using military force in Europe. Such skeptics need to be reminded, however, that in just the last decade, Putin has invaded Georgia (and occupies 20% of it), Ukraine (twice, and occupies Crimea and Eastern Ukraine), and has sent forces into Syria to prop up the bloodthirsty Assad regime that has slaughtered hundreds of thousands of its own people and driven nearly half the Syrian population from their homes.
The Economist calls this "Russia's biggest war game in Europe since the Cold War." That said, there is a dispute over just how big.
Moscow says only 12,500 troops will take part, most of which will operate in the country of Belarus, just south of the Baltics and just north of Ukraine. But "some Western analysts, and Baltic State governments...have expressed concerns that the exercise will in reality be significantly larger, involving between 60,000 and 100,000 military personnel," notes Janes Intelligence Review.
"According to the Baltic States, the last Zapad-series exercise in 2013 involved 75,000 military personnel, six times higher than Russia disclosed," says Janes.
Have the U.S. and other NATO commanders positioned enough forces, tanks, fighter jets and other defenses of their own to protect against a Russian blitz? I pray yes, but I'm not so certain.
According to a recent RAND Corporation analysis: "As currently postured, NATO cannot successfully defend the territory of its most exposed members. Across multiple games using a wide range of expert participants in and out of uniform playing both sides, the longest it has taken Russian forces to reach the outskirts of the Estonian and/or Latvian capitals of Tallinn and Riga, respectively, is 60 hours. Such a rapid defeat would leave NATO with a limited number of options, all bad: a bloody counteroffensive, fraught with escalatory risk, to liberate the Baltics; to escalate itself, as it threatened to do to avert defeat during the Cold War; or to concede at least temporary defeat, with uncertain but predictably disastrous consequences for the Alliance and, not incidentally, the people of the Baltics."
Estonia's Defense Minister Margus Tsahkna says NATO has intelligence suggesting Moscow may leave Russian soldiers in Belarus once the exercises are over, Reuters reports. He said Russia will use 4,000 railway carriages to transport its troops and equipment to Belarus, perhaps to establish a new Russia military base.
"For Russian troops going to Belarus, it is a one-way ticket," Tsahkna told Reuters in an interview in Malta. "This is not my personal opinion; we are analyzing very deeply how Russia is preparing for the Zapad exercises."
Meanwhile, "Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has described Russia's build-up for the exercise as 'preparations for an offensive war on a continental scale,'" reports the BBC, and Ukrainian defenses are being bolstered.
According to the BBC, Poroshenko believes Russia is "using the pretext of an exercise to mobilize and position forces to conduct offensive operations" and that "he could not rule out the possibility that the drill 'may be used as a smokescreen to create new Russian army assault groups to invade Ukrainian territory.'"
I'll definitely keep you posted as events unfold. In the meantime, please pray for safety and security for the people of the Baltics and Ukraine. Please also pray for wisdom for their leaders and the commanders of NATO.
Nearing Midnight: I've Never Seen so Many Natural Disasters at One Time - Todd Strandberg -
It is generally true about major natural disasters; that there is only one occurring at any given time. When have events that normally take place over a time span of several decades been so closely aligned? It is unlikely to have them transpire within days of each other.
The vast devastation of the Houston area qualifies us for a natural disaster break. The governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, said the total cost of Hurricane Harvey could total $180 billion, making it more costly than the epic hurricanes, Katrina or Sandy, which devastated New Orleans in 2005 and New York City in 2012. It will still be many weeks before we get a real measure of Hurricane Harvey's cost."
I was a bit shocked to learn that the city of Los Angeles just had its biggest fire in the history of the city in terms of sheer acreage. "We're confident, back to 1961, the Bel-Air fire, that this is the largest fire by acreage in the city of Los Angeles," LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas said. Considering the intense fire, it is amazing that only a few homes were lost.
While fires in L.A. may grab instant headlines, blazes in Montana, Oregon, and Washington are just now starting to draw attention. Montana has had major fires burning for months. Governor Steve Bullock declared a statewide fire disaster for the third time last week, and called this year's fire season "Very challenging and unprecedented." Wildfires have burned more than half a million acres in the state since July.
Satellite images of North America show huge clouds of smoke stretching from Washington to Maine. The smoke is very thick in the Northwestern states. Montana's capital city Helena, is covered in smog that has people asking for prayers on Twitter and Facebook.
In Seattle, the air is filled with smoke and ash from wildfires around Mt. Crystal. One gentleman posted an image of the hood of his car covered with ash that was raining down on the city.
I've been monitoring the weather reports on Hurricane Irma. I can't believe that I've just finished watching a hurricane that brought historic destruction to Texas and here comes Hurricane Irma spinning across the Atlantic Ocean establishing its own set of historic milestones:
With peak winds of 185 mph, Irma has set a record for the strongest hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean. Four other storms have had winds that were stronger, but they have been in the Caribbean Sea or the Gulf of Mexico, where the usually warmer waters fuel tropical systems.
Irma's ability to sustain winds of 185 mph winds for more than 36 hours is another record for length of time. All other storms maintained their 180 mph plus winds for only a few hours.
By making landfall in the U.S. Virgin Islands, makes it the first time in history that U.S. territory has been hit by a category 4 and 5 hurricane in the same season. In 2005 we had Katrina stroke as a category 4 and Hurricane Rita stroke as a category 3.
It should be obvious to any student of Bible prophecy that this rash series of disasters are part of Christ's birth-pang warning signs. Climate Change cannot explain why we suddenly have back to back hurricanes with the most ever amount of rainfall and the highest winds in recorded history.
There is the possibility that God is simply sick of hearing about all the Trump bashing, and He has decided to force the press to cover something else for a change. The Lord is very patient and longsuffering, but I think there is a limit to how much He is willing to have His intelligence insulted.
Even while the liberal media is forced to cover a non-political subject, they still manage to make it about President Trump. When Hurricane Irma barreled across the Caribbean island of St. Martin, the storm damaged President Trump's lavish waterfront estate on Plum Bay. The eleven bedroom compound was on the market for $17 million; which value is now in doubt.
Of course we should ignore the fact that the people of St. Martin have had 90 percent of their property heavily damaged by Irma, because the press is so happy that our billionaire president is going to lose a few million dollars on one of his investments!
The big hope for liberals is that Hurricane Irma will devastate the Miami area. Washington Post reporter, Matea Gold, noted that Trump National Doral, which recently completed a three-year $250 million renovation, is in central Miami. She also pointed out that Trump's signature Mar-A-Lago club on the barrier Island of West Palm Beach would be heavily damaged by a direct hit from Irma. The fulfillment of this demented fantasy would result in at least $200 billion dollars of damage in southeast Florida.
I expect the left to be clueless about the end-times. I'm surprised that these events have not caused Christians to become more interested in prophecy. Church organizations are so neglectful in teaching the last days message that most believers are unable to recognize the warning signs.
"For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths" (2 Timothy 4:3-4 NIV).
Is God Really All-Knowing? - Lee Strobel -
I like to refer to Peter Kreeft as "the un-philosopher." Not that he isn't a philosopher; in fact, he's a first-rate philosophical thinker, with a doctorate from Fordham University, postgraduate study at Yale University, and thirty-eight years of experience as a philosophy professor at Villanova University and (since 1965) Boston College. He has taught such courses as metaphysics, ethics, mysticism, sexuality, and Oriental, Greek, medieval, and contemporary philosophy, earning such honors as the Woodrow Wilson and Yale-Sterling fellowships.
I asked Kreeft to explore God's omniscience in relation to the problem of evil. He pushed back his chair to get more comfortable, then looked off to the side as he collected his thoughts once more.
"Let's begin this way," he said. "God, if he is all-wise, knows not only the present but the future. And he knows not only present good and evil but future good and evil. If his wisdom vastly exceeds ours, as the hunter's exceeds the bear's, it is at least possible - contrary to Charles Templeton's analysis - that a loving God could deliberately tolerate horrible things like starvation because he foresees that in the long run that more people will be better and happier than if he miraculously intervened. That's at least intellectually possible."
I shook my head. "That's still hard to accept," I said. "It sounds like a cop-out to me."
"Okay, then, let's put it to the test," Kreeft replied. "You see, God has specifically shown us very clearly how this can work. He has demonstrated how the very worst thing that has ever happened in the history of the world ended up resulting in the very best thing that has ever happened in the history of the world."
"What do you mean?"
"I'm referring to dei-cide," he replied. "The death of God himself on the cross. At the time, nobody saw how anything good could ever result from this tragedy. And yet God foresaw that the result would be the opening of heaven to human beings. So the worst tragedy in history brought about the most glorious event in history. And if it happened there - if the ultimate evil can result in the ultimate good - it can happen elsewhere, even in our own individual lives. Here, God lifts the curtain and lets us see it. Elsewhere he simply says, 'Trust me.'
"All of which would mean that human life is incredibly dramatic, like a story for which you don't know the ending rather than a scientific formula. In fact, let's follow this dramatic story line for a minute.
"Suppose you're the devil. You're the enemy of God and you want to kill him, but you can't. However, he has this ridiculous weakness of creating and loving human beings, whom you can get at. Aha! Now you've got hostages! So you simply come down into the world, corrupt humankind, and drag some of them to hell. When God sends prophets to enlighten them, you kill the prophets.
"Then God does the most foolish thing of all - he sends his own Son and he plays by the rules of the world. You say to yourself, 'I can't believe he's that stupid! Love has addled his brains! All I have to do is inspire some of my agents - Herod, Pilate, Caiaphas, the Roman soldiers - and get him crucified.' And that's what you do.
"So there he hangs on the cross - forsaken by man and seemingly by God, bleeding to death and crying, 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?' What do you feel now as the devil? You feel triumph and vindication! But of course you couldn't be more wrong. This is his supreme triumph and your supreme defeat. He stuck his heel into your mouth and you bit it and that blood destroyed you.
"Now, if that is not a freak occurrence, but it's a paradigm of the human situation, then when we bleed and when we suffer, as Christ did, maybe the same thing is happening. Maybe this is God's way of defeating the devil.
"At the time of the crucifixion, the disciples couldn't see how anything good could result; similarly, as we face struggles and trials and suffering, we sometimes can't imagine good emerging. But we've seen how it did in the case of Jesus, and we can trust it will in our case too. For instance, the greatest Christians in history seem to say that their sufferings ended up bringing them the closest to God - so this is the best thing that could happen, not the worst."
Daily Jot: Prophecy and the 16 year war - Bill Wilson -
It's been 16 years since the terrorist attack by Islam on New York and Washington, D.C. that left nearly 3,000 dead, caused another 1,000-plus rescue and recovery workers to die of diseases linked to the attacks, and, according to Newsweek, continues to affect another 400,000 people with diseases associated with the attacks. America has suffered a great toll to Islam. In response, the United States has prosecuted a 16 year war against a moving target of names such as Taliban, al Qaeda, Islamic State, and a host of other Islamic terrorist organizations that seek to attack American citizens, torture and kill Christians and Jews, and establish a worldwide Islamic caliphate similar to the Ottoman Empire.
In addition to the toll on American citizens of this war, which included domestic Islamic terrorist attacks of an approximate average of one per month during the previous "president's" term in office, thousands of American men and women have been killed and maimed over the 16 years. The Pentagon reports 6,938 deaths of US military and Department of Defense civilians since 9/11. There have been 52,615 wounded in action during the period. This is an average of 434 killed and 3,288 wounded per year. There are no available estimates from the government about how many terrorists have died, but it's likely over a million. US National debt over the 16 years went from $14.7 trillion to over $20 trillion today.
Islam values death over life. It has become the norm that we "invest" 500 lives and thousands of limbs a year to keep these terrorists away from us. Yet until recently US policy has been to allow Islamic colonization in America to go essentially unabated. The previous "president" used US military might to assist terrorist organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda to overthrow stable Middle East governments during Arab Spring, causing even more Islamic migration to Europe and the US. The hallmark of this young century, the new millennium, has been the advancement of the most anti-Christian, anti-Jew death cult known to modern mankind-the Islamic caliphate, whether in name or in deed.
There is no end in sight for this 16-year war. The parallels to Israel are amazing. Israel has been fighting the same war against the same Islamic predators since its re-establishment in 1948. Islam is part of the march of prophecy. In the end of days, all the nations that are specifically named in the Bible as coming against Israel are Islamic. In Matthew 24, Jesus' disciples asked what is the sign of his return and of the end of the world? He first replied, "Take heed that no man deceive you." Despite all the men saying it, Islam is no religion of peace. We have 16 years of trillions of dollars and thousands of lives and limbs that bear such witness. Israel, too, is witness to this deception of peace when there is no peace.
Daily Devotion: Sent to Bear Witness - By Greg Laurie -
"He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light." -John 1:8
John the Baptist was the last of the Old Testament prophets. Not only that, but he was the greatest prophet who ever lived. His life and ministry were not just significant; they were super significant.
In his day John was a figure of national prominence. It is worth noting that the ancient historian Josephus wrote more about the life of John the Baptist than about Jesus Christ. John was so well known, so popular and revolutionary, that some even thought he was the Messiah.
The Bible says of John, "This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light" (John 1:7-8).
That all through him might believe . . . The word him is not referring to Jesus but to John. It's saying that John was not the light; he was just bearing witness of the light. And it is also saying that through him people might believe. In other words, God was working through John.
John was a popular man. A lot of people admired him. If John had wanted it, he could have been a great leader. He could have made a lot of money. But John knew that is not what it was about. He was there to point people to Jesus. He used his popularity and the momentum God had given him to point people in the right direction.
You have a certain group of people that you influence. You have people in your family. You have people in your neighborhood. You have people in your workplace who look up to you. They respect your opinion. You can take the influence that God has given you and use it for His glory.
FROM THE HEART
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