Prophecy Update Newsletter
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
Evil is Alive and well-For Now - By Sean Gooding - http://www.raptureready.com/2017/10/14/evil-is-alive-and-well-for-now/
Zechariah Lesson 12, Chapter 5: 5-11
"Then the angel who talked with me came out and said to me, 'Lift your eyes now, and see what this is that goes forth.' So I asked, 'What is it?' And he said, 'It is a basket that is going forth.' He also said, 'This is their resemblance throughout the earth: Here is a lead disc lifted up, and this is a woman sitting inside the basket.' Then he said, 'This is Wickedness!' And he thrust her down into the basket, and threw the lead cover over its mouth. Then I raised my eyes and looked, and there were two women, coming with the wind in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between earth and heaven. So I said to the angel who talked with me, 'Where are they carrying the basket?' And he said to me, 'To build a house for it in the land of Shinar; when it is ready, the basket will be set there on its base'" (Zechariah 5: 5-11, NKJV).
We have had a tumultuous week here in North America, with the shootings in Las Vegas; the cry of 'pure evil,' referring to the man who shot all those people. We can also consider that this is a typical week in cities like Chicago, where 50+ people are gunned down each week. At the same time, we hear of sex trafficking going rampant in the world; and, for the life of me, it seems that more female teachers are having sex with students than men all of a sudden. We have the leader of North Korea threatening to launch a nuclear attack against the West, and on and on we can go. There is much more that we can probably talk about, but Evil is everywhere. And, as we approach the end times, it is rapidly going to get worse and worse.
The death of Hugh Hefner, who helped to make Pornography commonplace like all other books, signaled the end of an era. What he began as simply pictures of naked women has spawned into a global billion-dollar industry of immense proportion, with young women and young men now offering themselves to anyone who will pay attention. Pornography has helped to normalize such behaviors as homosexuality, lesbianism, having multiple partners, and just about any kind of sexual perversion one can think of. These things have always been around (Solomon had 1000 women at his sexual disposal). But, what pornography did was to bring them out of the shadows into the light. They made palatable what was once behavior to be hidden. And, last but not least, there has been a removal of shame from our lives.
It would seem that no behavior is shameful anymore; and worse, it seems that most, if not all, can now be excused by the cry of 'I have a disease.' Sinful choices are the fruit of our disease. Yes, the disease is our totally corrupted sin nature, and the only cure is Jesus.
Evil is Real, verses 1-8
Today, we will explore the eighth vision that Zechariah sees, that of a woman (representing Evil) in a basket; and her being taken away to the city of Shinar. As we get into this, we need to clear a few things up. In the King James Bible, the word 'basket' is referred to as an Ephah; it is a description of a basket that was common in the era, that carried an ephah of measurement. So, in translations like New King James, it is translated as a basket. That is what it was. In the basket sits a woman. An ephah, as far as I can research, was about 6-7 gallons. So, this basket was not big enough to hold a grown woman; but a lot of the deities that the Jews followed after in rebellion to God were female deities such as: Asherah (the lady of the sea) from the books of the Kings, who was supposedly the wife of God; Anat, the goddess of war and sister of Baal; and Astarte, the goddess of fertility.
There are others, but these were some of the ones who stole the hearts of the people of Israel. Later in the New Testament we would hear of goddesses like Diana and others, who were worshiped by many cities in the Roman Empire. Many of these female deities were worshiped in sexual perversion and promiscuity. In the Roman times, prostitution - including temple prostitution - was normal everyday behavior.
The book of Romans tells us in chapter 1:24-26 that, when we turn our backs on the Lord God, the Creator, we will then be able to do all manner of evil:
"Therefore, God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason, God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise, also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due."
We see the whole idea of sexual perversion in these verses, but these are a gateway to other evils; and the two often go hand in hand. The word that is used in the Bible for evil is 'Wickedness.' This is defined as 'baseness, viciousness, depravity, immorality, corruption, villainy and dishonesty.
Wow! This gives us a whole new understanding of the growth and prevalence of evil in our midst. We are an evil people, and we would love to be able to blame it on a disease, a mental disorder, a lack of proper upbringing - whatever takes the blame from me, us, the man in the mirror. I am evil, sold under sin, and so are you. Our world system is corrupt, sold under sin. The religious system is wicked, sold under sin and greed.
We have, as a society, turned our backs on God. Sadly, a lot of churches have done the same. They have traded the truth of God's word for money, popularity and attendance. God's truths are cast aside like dung. New ideas and new gospels are preached; and wickedness grows. How many pastors have been arrested for corruption or stealing, or have been caught in adultery? Some that I have read of don't even believe the Bible, or have never trusted God as Savior. This is wickedness.
I recently read of a congresswoman in the US that was indicted on 37 counts of stealing from a charity to pay for her lifestyle. The corruption is just as strong in the Canadian government.
Folks, evil is alive and well in our time. It has taken over the schools. For instance: The man who helped to write the sex education course for the Province of Ontario was arrested for child pornography. This is wickedness. Now we can understand why the curriculum is so sexually explicit. He is helping to groom our children to be perverts like him.
There are systemic evils around us. The Vatican continues to cover up the sexual predators of the 'church' from all over the world. They even house some in Vatican City so that they cannot be prosecuted.
Idolatry is rampant. We have kicked God out of our homes and schools; and now He has to be replaced. We need something or someone to worship. God built that into us; we cannot escape it. So now, instead of prayer rooms to God, we have Muslim prayer rooms. We have more yoga being pushed on our kids than ever before. There are Buddhas, and just about everything but God.
It is hard to find a TV show that does not promote the homosexual lifestyle and make it seem normal. We murder 3000+ babies a day in North America; often their body parts are being sold for profit. There is no remorse and no regret, no shame, no fear of God, and no repentance. Abortion has become a get- out-of-pregnancy-free card. Sleep around, throw your legs open for anyone; and then just kill the child and do it again. Evil is prevalent and getting worse - and more and more accepted as the norm.
Evil is Kept at Bay, for Now, verse 7-8
There is a lead disc that is placed over the woman in the basket. With a bit of research, I was able to find out that this lead disc would have been about 108 lbs. or so of lead, enough to keep the woman in the basket. Evil is rampant, but it is still restrained by an outside force. In the New Testament, we find this verse in 2 Thessalonians 2:7: "For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but the one now restraining will do so until he is out of the way."
This verse tells us that lawlessness is now at work. Actually, the 'mystery' of lawlessness is now at work, but there is someone restraining it. Soon, that someone will be taken out of the way, and there will be no more restraining. If you think that we have evil today in the world, the world after the Rapture will make ours look like a sunny meadow filled with beautiful yellow daisies. Right now, the Holy Spirit is on the earth; it is the heavy weight on evil. Soon, we will be raptured; the New Testament church will be 'caught up' to Jesus. The Holy Spirit will leave His job as restrainer, and then evil will become rampant like never before.
Society has called for the removal of God for the last 50 years, and He has gradually allowed the evil bound in us to come to the surface. Think of how children were mischievous back in the 60's; but, in the last 10 years, we have seen the growth of evil amongst our youth. We see a rise in deliberate disobedience and defiance to any authority. Just a few years ago, there was a prostitution ring run by teenage girls through Facebook. Two of the girls were 15 years old, and the other was 17 at the time.
We have seen more and more 'girly boys,' but now suddenly rampant are these young boys who see themselves as girls; and worse, their parents and the society around them are condoning it and even promoting it.
We have had the growth of churches who don't preach against anything. Everything is okay because Jesus loves you, and He does not want to hurt you or make you feel uncomfortable. Maybe they need to read the passages in the Gospels where Jesus addresses the Pharisees as 'hypocrites' and as 'grave sites.' He called the apostle Peter 'Satan' at one time; and He simply did not water down the truth for Nicodemus, letting him know that he did not know anything, and that he needed to be born again - saved. This was a teacher of the Law, but Jesus was not afraid to speak the truth to him.
The preaching of the truth keeps evil at bay; it reminds men that they are sinful and in need of a Savior. Honest preaching of the truth of the scriptures is followed by the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, and this keeps evil at bay. But too many have stopped preaching the truth. We have called sin a disease and not sin. We made it so that men are not responsible for their sin, their choices, and their decisions. Thus, there is no shame in doing evil. Once shame is removed, evil grows and grows and grows.
Imagine what life will be like without the Lord's churches here and without the Holy Spirit here to thwart and hold down the growth of evil. I certainly do not want to be here. Even so, come Lord Jesus.
Evil Has a Head Office, verse 11
When we think of the New Testament church, we can immediately think of Jesus walking the streets of Jerusalem and the countryside of Israel. We can see Him as the King of the Jews. And if we are to trace our history, we can find our way back doctrinally to Abraham in Genesis 12. He left Iraq to come and find the Promised Land. We are told in Romans 4 that Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. That is all we have as well. We too are called to believe on the Lord Jesus, and we will be saved. Abraham links us to Jerusalem, as does Jesus. Jesus lived in and ascended from Jerusalem, and we are told in Revelation 19 that He will return to Jerusalem. Jerusalem is called the Holy city; it is the HQ (headquarters) of Christianity, so to speak. In much the same manner, evil has a HQ.
The first time we see an organized rebellion against the power and position of God, we find it happening in the plains of Shinar - a place in modern-day Iraq that we call Babylon today. If we are to go back and take a look at history, beginning with Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon, we can begin reading in the later parts of Jeremiah. Also in Daniel, we see that Babylon was the chief city of the Chaldean empire that took the Jews into captivity. They were conquered by the Medo-Persians, but the capital city stayed the same during that empire; we find that in Nehemiah. It was the Greeks who conquered the Persians; and, once again, the capital stayed the same during that empire. Then the Romans conquered the Greeks, and the capital of the empire moved to Rome.
Rome, for the most part, has never really been conquered; and it is gradually coming to life again in the form of the European Union. I have found out that the EU head office is built to look like the Tower of Babel from Genesis 11. They are the new persons defying God as a community and pushing God out of their space. There is no more pagan of a place in the 'First World' than Europe, and its paganism is growing by leaps and bounds.
There is a war coming: The kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of Light will clash. This sounds like a Disney movie, but I assure you that there is no happy ending, and no plot twists; rather, we will have a badly broken, beaten, abused and used-up world that Satan and his minions have ravaged. He, the father of Lies, has convinced some of us humans that he has the answers and that Jesus is the enemy. It is the same lie he told Eve in the Garden of Eden-God is cheating you; work for me and I will bless you beyond measure. But he is the ultimate 'snake oil' salesman. What you are going to see is Satan himself bound by angels and imprisoned for 1000 years, and then judged to Hell for eternity. If you follow him and believe the lie, you will be in hell with him as well. Repent; Jesus is coming soon. Don't get caught in the Lie.
"And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years.
Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever" (Revelation 20:4-10).
Russia sandwiched in Syria between Israel, Iran - Maxim A. Suchkov - http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/10/russia-shoigu-visit-israel-syria-iran-military-liberman.html#ixzz4vy7yV4Oo
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu paid a two-day visit this week to Israel - his first as the top Russian military commander. On Oct. 16, Shoigu met in Tel Aviv with Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and the Israel Defense Forces' Chief of General Staff Gadi Eizenkot. On Tuesday, he was hosted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Hours before Shoigu landed in Tel Aviv, the Israeli air force destroyed a Syrian army anti-aircraft battery in an alleged retaliation to Damascus firing a missile at Israeli planes while they were on a reconnaissance mission over neighboring Lebanon. Israel said it informed Russia of the incident "in real-time mode" and "comprehensively briefed" Shoigu to alleviate a potentially negative response from Moscow.
Unlike Shoigu's snap visit to Damascus in September, which was shrouded in mystery, on this trip to Israel he was clear about his purpose: "Besides the military and military-technical cooperation [between our countries], the main issue remains the fight against terrorism, as well as the [general] situation in the region. Separately, we'd like to discuss everything that has to do with Syria. [Russia's] operation there is coming to its end. There are several points that require urgent solutions and discussion of further prospects. ... There is a lot to talk about," said Shoigu in his opening statement at the meeting with Liberman.
In response, Liberman said Israel "values its relations with Russia for the sincere, candid dialogue [between the two]. ... I'm positive that this is the way to solve all the problems." He spoke first in Russian and then repeated his remarks in Hebrew.
Shoigu's allusions to military-technical cooperation imply the interest Israel apparently has in purchasing Russia's heavy infantry fighting vehicle, the BMPT Terminator. Russia reportedly deployed the vehicle in Syria for field trials against the Islamic State (IS) and it came in handy for urban fights. Commenting on the prospects of the deal between Russia and Israel, Andrei Frolov, a military analyst and editor-in-chief of the Russian journal Eksport Vooruzheny (Arms Export), told Al-Monitor, "The Israelis have never directly bought arms from Russia. There were a few projects on the modernization of Soviet military equipment in third countries, but never a direct purchase - unlike the Russians, who did buy weapons from Israel. If the sale were to happen, it would be emblematic, yet we shouldn't be overestimating the financial or military significance of the [potential] deal."
What was more important in the Shoigu-Liberman talks was the military coordination between Moscow and Tel Aviv at the current stage, as well as how the two states are going to approach Syria and Iran in the long run.
Shoigu's statements that the Russian campaign in Syria is "coming to its end" triggered a flurry of speculation over the future course of Moscow's policies in the country. Frolov said the remarks - the way they were formulated - sound rather abstract: "It's hard to tell whether it really is coming to its end. One needs to know the exact initial [operational] goals to be able to make precise conclusions."
It's hardly the first time Russia has proclaimed the end was near. In February, Shoigu said Russian troops would be coming home. In March, President Vladimir Putin announced the goals in Syria "were completed" and indeed ordered the drawdown of Russia's main forces - but the Russian campaign is still going. In late August, Shoigu stated the war in Syria had reached a "de facto" end. In September, at a meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Putin reiterated the idea, saying, "Conditions for peace have been created in Syria." Last week, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that "92% of the Syrian territory was freed from [IS]." So if the goal was "to defeat the terrorists," as Putin proclaimed when Russia entered Syria two years ago, the mission is indeed coming to an end. Yet Russia is facing an array of other challenges, including complications over the fate of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Iran's growing presence.
Iran was especially large on Shoigu's agenda during the meeting with Netanyahu. Following the encounter, the Israeli prime minister wrote on his Twitter page, "Iran is attempting to establish itself militarily in Syria. I told the Russian DM: Iran needs to understand that Israel will not allow this." Russia's reputable Kommersant newspaper cites its sources in the Defense Ministry as saying the Shoigu-led delegation shared with the Israelis details of Russia's air force operations in Syria and Iran's contribution to the fight against terrorism in that country. Moscow also provided some information on the way the four de-escalation zones in Syria will function. Israel opposes the idea of Iran being one of the intermediaries in the process, but Russia is set to maintain the current framework.
Russia's support for Hezbollah has also been on the agenda for the two parties, with the Russians supposedly assuring the Israelis that their dealings with the group don't go beyond targeted planning of certain operations in Syria and that Moscow doesn't supply it with arms.
Russian diplomacy takes pride in its flexibility and openness to different players in the Middle East. From Assad and Tehran to the Syrian opposition and Tel Aviv, from Doha to Riyadh, from Turks to Kurds and from Libya's Gen. Khalifa Hifter to Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, Moscow tries to engage virtually all stakeholders. This is no easy mission, and the military incident between Israel and Syria on the day of Shoigu's visit has exposed the objective limits of Russia's power to keep conflict-bound actors apart.
Given Israel's role in the region, its military power and its willingness to use it, it is critical for Putin to continue the current level of communication with Netanyahu to ensure Russia's own presence is immune from any Israeli assaults. But it is also clear Israel is determined to stop Iran's growing presence near Israel's borders. At the same time, Tehran is resolved to expand and solidify its presence. Moscow doesn't see that situation as its own fight and is working to dodge potential complications of ending up on either side.
Israel has been rather loyal to Russia's military presence - and realizes its own gains from it - and Iran has been crucial to Russia on the ground in Syria. But Russia's goals in Syria aren't ultimately about either Israel or Iran. Moscow is, however, wary of each party trying to work Russia's presence to the detriment of the other. For instance, Russian media outlets have recently raised questions about Iran's intentions when it changed the location of an Iran-to-Hezbollah arms transfer point from the border with Lebanon to central Syria, closer to Palmyra. As a result of that change, Israel will have to fly deep into Syrian territory to make its bombing raids on the transfer point and could at some point clash with Russian air forces or harm Russian advisers thought to be stationed at Palmyra.
Such moves are likely to happen more often and represent a long-term challenge to Moscow. Russia will need to sit down with Israel and seriously talk about whether Israel's interests can be squared with Russia's interests, and whether Moscow really has any leverage over Tehran, whether in Syria or beyond. Shoigu's visit appears to be important in this very regard. Similar conversations need to be held with Iran - and that's the likely goal of Putin's visit to Tehran in early November.
Missile program will 'expand & continue' despite US pressure - Iran's Revolutionary Guards -
Iran will not yield to pressure from the US and is determined to "expand and continue" its missile program, the country's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) have said.
"Iran's ballistic missile program will expand and it will continue with more speed in reaction to Trump's hostile approach towards this revolutionary organization (the Guards)," the force said in a statement published by Tasnim, as cited by Reuters.
On Friday, President Trump opted to not re-certify the nuclear deal made in 2015 by the previous administration of Barack Obama and world powers including Russia, France, Germany, the UK, and China. Instead, the American leader passed the matter to Congress. The move immediately triggered an outcry from other signatories.
On Monday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said he hoped "that Congress does not put this accord in jeopardy."
In the immediate aftermath, representatives of France and Germany (who are among parties to the agreement) immediately cautioned that the deal should be kept in place, also reaffirming their commitment to it.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also repeated its confirmation that Tehran is not violating its obligations. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini noted that the 2015 deal is "not a bilateral agreement, it does not belong to any single country and it is not up to any single country to terminate it."
Moscow condemned Trump's refusal to adhere to the Iran nuclear deal, saying that the move poses a threat to international security. "Such policy... in fact deals a heavy blow to the global non-proliferation efforts," Mikhail Ulyanov, the head of the Russian Foreign Ministry's Department on Non-proliferation and Arms Control, said.
These concerns appear to have fallen on deaf ears, since on Monday Trump noted that a total termination of the Iran nuclear deal was a very real possibility. Lieutenant Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Hossein Salami said Washington has long sought to isolate Iran from the international community, but the American leader's recent comments have had the opposite effect, isolating Washington from rest from the world.
Speaking at a gathering of IRGC forces in Tehran on Wednesday, Brigadier General Salami referred to US hostile moves against the Islamic Republic over the past four decades, saying all of those moves had ended in failure, Tasnim reported.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif noted last week that Trump's decision not to re-certify the 2015 nuclear treaty will only cripple Washington's own credibility as "nobody else will trust any US administration to engage in any long-term negotiation because the length of any commitment ... with any US administration would be the remainder of the term of that president."
The landmark treaty was negotiated in summer 2015 by Russia, France, the US, China, the United Kingdom and Germany - as well as Iran. Under the terms of the deal, in exchange for the gradual lifting of sanctions, Tehran agreed to reduce the number of its uranium-enrichment centrifuges by two-thirds, cap its enrichment below the level needed for weapons-grade material, reduce its enriched uranium stockpile by 98 percent and allow international inspections.
As nuclear threat mushrooms, experts group says situation worse than Cold War - By Judah Ari Gross - https://www.timesofisrael.com/as-nuclear-threat-mushrooms-group-says-situation-worse-than-cold-war/
At anti-nuke Luxembourg Forum's annual confab, experts discuss Iran deal, North Korea, India-Pakistan conflict, but most fear deteriorating Russia-US relationship
Dozens of experts and former senior officials from around the world met in the French capital last week to discuss the threat of nuclear proliferation, something they believe is ignored despite the dire situation and - according to some - worse than it was during the Cold War.
The Iran deal, the risk posed by North Korea and the ever-present potential that the two atomic powers India and Pakistan will go to war were deemed the most pressing threats at the 10th anniversary conference of the International Luxembourg Forum on Preventing Nuclear Catastrophe.
But they were not seen as the most dangerous. That distinction belonged to the deteriorating ties between United States and Russia, which possess more nuclear weapons than every other country combined, several times over. (The US and Russia each have approximately 7,000 warheads. France, with the next largest stockpile, has about 300, according to the Federation of American Scientists.)
The Luxembourg Forum, led by Russian Jewish magnate Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor, was founded a decade ago and meets each year in world capitals to discuss how best to advance its cause of nuclear disarmament. The group, made up of experts in the field of nuclear physics, diplomacy and security, met on October 9 and 10 in Paris's Four Seasons hotel.
These experts - many of them former officials from the US, Russia, Israel, the UK and South Korea - warned that unlike during the Cold War, when the threat of nuclear war was immediate and apparent, world leaders and their constituents are less cognizant of the risk today and do not have the mechanisms in place to prevent such a conflict.
In particular, William Perry, who served as US secretary of defense under Bill Clinton and held a number of security-related positions in the decades prior, stressed that today there was a significant threat of nations "blundering" into nuclear war.
"Have we forgotten the Cuban missile crisis?" Perry rhetorically asked the conference.
The former defense secretary recalled a number of near misses between the US and Russia during the Cold War, when human or machine error nearly set off nuclear war.
He warned that today the same could happen again between the US and Russia, India and Pakistan, or North and South Korea.
"We could have the same number of casualties as all of World War II, only these would happen in six hours instead of six years," he said.
Comments reportedly made by US President Donald Trump about dramatically increasing the number of nuclear weapons in the American arsenal also raised concerns about the status of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, a decades-old international agreement meant to curb the development, testing and use of nuclear bombs.
Yet the meeting in Paris was overshadowed by discussion over the Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, ahead of US President Donald Trump's decision last Friday to not recertify it, a move that potentially imperils the agreement.
This recertification process is required by a provision in a 2015 US law according to which the president needs to inform Congress every three months if the Islamic Republic is adhering to the terms of the agreement in exchange for broad international relief from oil, trade and financial sanctions. By refusing to do so, Trump allows the US to pass new sanctions on Iran, though there have not yet been moves to do so.
The international forum was unanimously opposed to dissolving the deal, with some members acting thoroughly flabbergasted by the notion, seeing no value whatsoever in scrapping it.
"No one pays and all gain" from the JCPOA, said Hans Blix, the former director-general of the International Atomic Energy Association.
Tony Blair, who spoke on the first day of the conference, acknowledged that there was some legitimate criticism of the deal, but said the "sensible thing to do" was to uphold it.
Kantor, who is also president of the European Jewish Congress, similarly argued in favor of the agreement, saying that scrapping it would be "unforgivable."
Trump says he believes that the US can renegotiate the deal to make it last longer and give the IAEA easier access to Iranian military sites. But not everyone shares that belief.
"It is a fallacy that a better agreement can be negotiated. It is a misunderstanding on the part of the president," Perry said.
Speaking to The Times of Israel on the sidelines of the conference, former Israeli national security adviser Uzi Arad said that he suspects the overwhelming support for the deal is not necessarily because of its merits, but due to the drawn-out fight for it.
After such an extended battle for the JCPOA, its proponents now have to stand behind it fully, even if it's not necessarily optimal, Arad said.
The ongoing spat between the United States and North Korea - or, more specifically, US President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un - was another frequent topic of conversation at the two-day conference.
Perry said he was "appalled" by the level of discourse between the two heads of state, with Trump derisively referring to Un as "rocket man," and Un firing back by calling Trump a "dotard."
There was general consensus that the tension between North Korea and the US needed to be resolved diplomatically, due to the tremendous potential cost of life that would come from a military exchange. There was, however, disagreement over what the terms and goals of these talks should be.
Some advocated an exchange in which North Korea would halt all nuclear and ballistic missile tests, after which the US would stop sanctions. But James Acton, of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, argued against this "all or nothing" approach in favor of a "less for less" model, under which Pyongyang would scale down its tests and military exercises and the US would decrease the sanctions proportionally.
Most of the attendees saw Beijing, North Korea's main trading partner, as being the key to these negotiations.
Byungki Kim, a South Korean professor of international relations, said if China were to put pressure on the country, it would force them to enter talks with the United States.
"Turn off the gas for three months, make it hurt. Then turn it back on, and they'll come to the negotiating table," Kim told the Forum.
However, the lone Chinese representative - Zhenqiang Pan, an analyst with no official government - said that the general view in his country is that the conflict is between the US and North Korea so China does not have direct responsibility for it.
"China can be a mediator. It has some leverage [over North Korea], but it's limited," Pan said.
In India and Pakistan, two nuclear armed nations engaged in an extended, simmering conflict over territorial and ethnic disputes, the Luxembourg Forum saw the most feasible chance for atomic warfare.
The two countries have maintained tense relations for decades. This comes, in part, from both nations claiming the Kashmir region as their own, as well as from differences in the countries' religions - Pakistan is majority Muslim, while India is majority Hindu.
Perry, the former US defense secretary, showed the forum a video that his foundation produced about a scenario in which the two countries fire atomic weapons at one another.
In the animated video, a group of Pakistani terrorists carry out an attack in India, prompting an Indian army retaliation. The military exchanges escalate quickly, culminating in the launching of nuclear weapons.
While the Forum was unanimous in identifying India and Pakistan as being likely locations of a future nuclear war, no specific proposals were made to disarm the two countries or resolve the conflict between them.
At the close of the conference, the delegates set to work writing a document with their proposals.
Once this document is prepared, it will be published by the Luxembourg Forum and the attendees are meant to present the findings to their home countries.
Living Saviour...Dead Faith - Nathele Graham -
Jesus Christ is God. He has always existed. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1:1. It can be difficult to wrap our human minds around this fact, but there is no doubt about what John is telling us. We live within time restraints so we can only look back into history, be aware of our present, and look forward into the future. God has no such restriction. He knew that Adam would sin and that the only cure for the death that resulted from that sin was for God Himself to enter creation as a human and become our once for all sacrifice. "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth." John 1:14. There are many false gods that people worship but they're all dead (i.e. Buddha) or are demons (i.e. Allah). Jesus was crucified and His blood was shed for the remission of sins, but He rose from the grave. "And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." Matthew 26:27-28. Jesus said these words at the last meal He ate with His disciples, soon after which He was crucified. He would have just been another man who claimed to be a god except He was God and three days after His crucifixion His tomb was empty. It had been sealed and a Roman guard was there to be sure no foul play took place. After the Resurrection Jesus appeared to many people and when He entered a closed room where Thomas saw Him, Thomas was overwhelmed. "And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God." John 20:28. Yes, Jesus is alive and He is our Lord and our God.
The New Testament gives many accounts of Jesus being seen after His Resurrection. For instance, two disciples travelling to Emmaus had a long talk with Him and He gave them an Old Testament study about how it all points to Him. He entered a locked room where His disciples were and a week later re-entered that same room to dispel any doubts that Thomas had. Jesus needed to be sure that the men He had chosen understood what they were to do so He continued to teach them "Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: to whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God." Acts1:2-3. There's no doubt that Jesus conquered death and lives. His last words to His disciples before He ascended into Heaven was to spread the Gospel. "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be damned. " Mark 16:15-16. Baptism won't save, but it is a work of obedience. Only unbelief will condemn a person. We must share the Gospel.
Our Saviour is alive and has purchased our salvation at a great cost to Himself so we need to serve Him well. Salvation is a free gift, but it comes with responsibility. Because Jesus did so much for us we need to show our gratitude by doing good works. Jesus directed us to share the Gospel with the world, and those first Christians did a great work as they went out and witnessed to others. The persecution in Jerusalem forced them to flee, but that helped to spread the Gospel to many places that wouldn't have been so easily reached. "Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. And there was great joy in that city.." Acts 8:5-8. We shouldn't be surprised that people respond when the Gospel is preached. Today we hear of so many "missionaries" who go into the "mission field" but preaching the Gospel is somewhat of an afterthought. I once knew a man who was a missionary to India. He told stories of how dangerous it was there for a Christian. Then he began telling what his "mission" truly was. Instead of preaching the Living Saviour to people who needed to hear it, he was converting those who had already accepted Christ to his particular denomination. He had dead faith. Many others will try to blend in with the culture and timidly bring up Christ if an opportunity opens up. Philip "preached Christ unto them", and that's what missionaries should do. He preached the living Saviour and got results. Make no mistake, the Gospel is to be preached to the lost even if they're in your own neighborhood.
Persecution against Christians was great, but they wouldn't be silenced. Multitudes of people came to faith through the preaching of the Gospel and their love for each other was evident in their works. "And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things in common." Acts 4:32. These people cared for each other. They helped each other when there was a need, which was a great witness to unbelievers. Instead of telling fellow Christians to depend upon the government or outside resources for help, Christians took care of Christians. No wonder there's so much dead faith today...Christians don't care for each other as demonstrated to us in the Bible. The early Christians preached the Gospel to unbelievers but directed their works towards fellow Christians. "Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need." Acts 4:34-35. Don't misunderstand, it isn't wrong to do good towards unbelievers, but we seem to forget that it's the Gospel we're directed to give them...introduce them to the Living Saviour.
Many Christians today get confused when it comes to faith and works. We have faith that Jesus is alive and works should follow our faith. "And these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover." Mark 16:17-18. These are the works that should follow faith. The first Christians took Jesus seriously and shared the Gospel with everyone. As they stepped out in faith they were honest and straight forward. Their mission was to share the Gospel with the lost and Jesus said signs should follow. They didn't hide behind works to share the Gospel but were upfront. They didn't build houses or give gifts hoping for an opportunity to mention Jesus, but they immediately spoke of the Gospel. The Living Christ was preached and people responded.
Many people today don't rely on the Holy Spirit. "And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." Acts 2:4. That power of the Holy Spirit is lacking today, not because it isn't available but most Christians don't care. Instead of serving the living Lord daily, we settle for dead faith. We sit in a pew for an hour on Sunday and call it good. Life wasn't easy for those first believers. They were rejected by their families, their jobs were jeopardized, and speaking about Jesus was forbidden. That sounds a lot like today. A young man named Stephen was one of those early believers. "And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people." Acts 6:8. That same faith and power should fill us today. We're too easily discouraged and distracted by the world. Stephen didn't allow opposition to stop him, even when he was stoned to death for speaking of Jesus. Stephen's faith was alive and his love for Jesus was heard by the Jewish leaders who accused him of blasphemy. "When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. But he being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing of the right hand of God, and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God." Acts 7:54-56. He saw the living Saviour! The eyes of the others around him were blind to the sight, but that didn't stop Stephen from speaking truth. Neither should we be intimidated by the blindness of those around us. Our faith in our Living Saviour should never be stifled by the attitudes of others. Someone just might respond to our faith and accept Christ for salvation. In fact Saul, the man who would later be known as Paul, was holding the cloaks of those throwing the stones at Stephen. He witnessed Stephen's faith.
The Apostle Paul is a great example of how the Gospel should be spread. Once he met Jesus Christ he was impelled to spread the Gospel. He made many missionary trips and introduced innumerable people to Christ. Paul didn't hide the Gospel behind "good works" toward the lost but went directly into synagogues and met in pagan surroundings to share his faith. Some Christians supported his mission journeys by giving directly to him, but when he asked for money to be collected it was to aid fellow Christians. "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye...And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem." 1 Corinthians 16:1 & 3. Collecting money to directly help needy Christians (saints) with no middleman is the example we should follow. Paul didn't collect money to give gifts to non-believers but preached the Gospel to the lost and did what he could to help fellow Christians. Today our widows, orphans, elderly, and brethren in need are expected to depend upon "Big Brother" for help. Government assistance has replaced Christians helping Christians so it's no wonder faith is dead. We put other gods before our Living Saviour and where our treasure is our heart follows.
When a person accepts Christ a change should happen. Paul said "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Galatians 2:20. If you don't recognize that Christ lives in you then how can your faith thrive? You won't accomplish anything for Christ and your joy in the Lord won't exist. That's exactly what Satan wants, dead faith evidenced by angry, sad, and depressed Christians who act like the world rather than a child of God. A person who has truly accepted Christ for salvation can't lose that salvation by anything they do or don't do. On the other hand, if your faith is dead then you're working for the enemy. If you're not living for Christ then you're living for the world and mocking Jesus. "But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?" James 2:20. James wrote about faith and works and we need to pay attention. Doing good should be a result of our faith. Works won't save us, but we serve Christ by aiding fellow Christians and sharing the Gospel with the lost. "What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart n peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?" James 2:14-16. James is speaking about how we treat "brethren". We have a family commitment to aid our brothers and sisters in Christ. "Even so faith, if it hath not works is dead, being alone." James 2:17. Oddly enough, most Christians neglect our obligation to fellow Christians and forget we are to care for each other. There are plenty of Christians in your town who could use some help. I've recently been in need and been shown tremendous generosity from some fellow Christians. I may never be able to repay their kindness to me, but I can certainly pass on blessings to fellow Christians. Jesus is alive and lives in each of us but dead faith helps no one.
Salvation is a gift of God but it comes with responsibility. Brothers and sisters, let's spread the Gospel to the lost and take care of the brethren.
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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Our New Home - By Grant Phillips -
The last two chapters of Revelation give us a close look at the New Jerusalem that comes down out of Heaven from God to rest on the new earth. Some think that maybe it rests above the new earth. I don't. I think it will rest upon the earth, maybe a much larger earth, but that's my opinion.
I've been thinking about our life with Jesus in the New Jerusalem and on the new earth as of late. There isn't really much I can add that others haven't already said, but allow me to make a few observations.
The biggest thing that hits me square between the eyes is the fact that there will be no sin. There will be no sinful action, or even so much as a thought that is sinful. When looking at the world today and also inwardly at our own heart, we find that to be impossible, but,
"Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:26)
If you've never read the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) please do so. The scribes and Pharisees were boasting with pride in their supposed ability to keep the Law. (Read Luke 10:27 and you'll immediately be convinced they actually failed miserably.) Jesus gives a much higher Law.
Those of us who have never murdered anyone, may pride ourselves in that fact, but the higher Law says that if we are angry with our brother without a cause we are in danger of judgment.
We proudly say we have never committed adultery, but the higher Law says that if we look at a woman with lust in our heart we are guilty of adultery.
I guess that upset a lot of apple carts! Read all three chapters. There is no way we can live up to what Jesus proclaimed. However, when we finally get to our new home, we will live up to every word Jesus spoke, not because we are so great, but because He will remove all sin and sweep it into hell where it belongs.
You're walking down the streets of Heaven and here comes someone you weren't that friendly with on the old earth. Guess what? Total love and joy as you stop and talk with them. All that negative stuff is gone.
Uh oh, here comes that Christian employee you had to fire. Not a problem. Hugs, love and joy rule the day. We have become like our Master.
You go out for a stroll in the woods late in the day to feel the cool breeze on your face and don't even have to worry about a thief, rapist or murderer attacking you. The thought never crosses your mind. Jesus has provided perfect peace.
Now I have no idea how Jesus will provide personal one-on-one time with each of us, but somehow he does. He is God, so I know it won't be a problem. It's just my puny mind that can't understand that. Anyway, can you even come close to imagining sitting down with Jesus, one-on-one, and talking? I know you're thinking what I'm thinking, and that is I can't wait to see His face and bow in worship to Him. It's difficult for us in this earthly body to comprehend the love God has for us. How can the creator of ... EVERYTHING ... love me? Don't know, but I am so thankful that He does.
Have you ever thought about the little things like; no garbage, no smut on the street corners, no profanity, and no jealousy, no offensiveness of any kind?
I've actually witnessed a husband jealous of his wife's success or a wife jealous of her husband being successful. That's pitiful. It won't exist in Heaven though. We'll all be happy for each other.
Think about this. The Bible tells us that there will be rewards. (1 Corinthians 3:12-15) Some will receive greater rewards than others. That's a fact, and that is why we should all strive to attain rewards from Christ. There is nothing wrong with that. Thankfully, because there will be no sin, none of us will be jealous of others who receive greater rewards.
Life in our new home will be so much different than what we know now; it almost seems like a fairy tale. Thankfully, it is not a fairy tale, but more real than anything we know on this old earth. I guess you could say, we are currently living in a dream, a bad dream at that, but in Heaven we will wake up and enjoy what is real.
Something else I think about concerning our new home is what will we do? We will be busy. We will work. How and at what, I don't know. I do know that God detests laziness. Some of us, in our fallen nature, think "work" is a bad word, but it isn't. Work is a delight, especially when you're doing what you were created to do. We each have abilities and talents. I think God will assign us things to do for Him that will delight us.
Have you ever wondered about the angels? I really look forward to talking to them also. Can you imagine what they could tell us!? They've been around a lot longer than we have. We might hang around on this old earth for a hundred years, but they have been witnessing everything for perhaps millions or billions of years, if not longer.
Some don't think we'll be able to travel to other galaxies. All I can do is offer an opinion since none of us really know at this point. I think we will be able to travel to other galaxies. Perhaps the Lord will send us to other areas of the universe with an assignment. I don't know. I can't see God creating trillions of galaxies though to just sit there and never be seen up close by anyone.
Of course we all think of our friends and loved ones who have gone on before us, and that is something I also really look forward to. The only thing better is seeing God Himself, and finally then, we will be able to look upon God's face. I'm sure our first reaction will be to fall on our face before Him as did the Apostle John.
To be with God, our friends and our loved ones, and then live forever in a perfect environment will be Heaven.
Pre-Rapture Commentary: http://grant-phillips.blogspot.com
Rapture Ready: http://www.raptureready.com/featured/phillips/phillips.html
Daily Jot: Countering the spirit of propaganda - Bill Wilson - www.dailyjot.com
Propaganda is defined as "chiefly derogatory information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view." In America, propaganda was always supposed be properly identified. For example, the news media's freedom is expressly guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution. This freedom is supposed to be used to expose government propaganda with truth and hold the government accountable. When the news media largely just takes what the government says as fact and supports the point of view of big government, it causes government and politicians to be far less accountable and far more powerful.
When I was in Journalism school, we did a lot of analyzing of news stories to be able to recognize bias. Back then, we used Pravda and Tass--the official "news" outlets of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union. They were the most clever propagandists of the time. For example, one story was about an international race between a Russian and an American. The America won the race by quite a distance. The headline in the Communist papers went like this: "Russia second, American next to last in international race." You see how truth can be distorted by propaganda. The government has its own point of view and its own propaganda. Unlike the Soviet Union, America's media was and is free to report the truth.
When a society drifts away from God, it also has no bearing of truth. Some of the most godless people are in the highest places of both government and media. They believe truth is relative and that the ends justifies the means. Without God, there can be no truth. Jesus said in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes unto the Father, but by me." Without Jesus it is extremely difficult to even discern truth because he is the truth. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 4:3,4, "But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not..." Jesus also said in Matthew 24:4, "Take heed that no man deceive you."
Herein is a two-fold problem. Americans are being fed deception by the news media which by and large cannot know truth because it has no foundation in Christ. Therefore, good citizenship as Americans requires that we do not believe what we hear from the media and seek the truth on our own. Moreover, we are called by Christ to make disciples. Romans 10:13,14 says, "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?" We as Christians must do a better job in making disciples, otherwise the truth will never be known.
Daily Devotion: In the Secret Place - By Greg Laurie -
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. -Psalm 91:1
When you were a kid, did you ever have a hiding place, a place you would run to when you were afraid or wanted to be alone? God wants to be your hiding place. The good news is that you can retreat to this hiding place wherever you are.
Psalm 91:1 tells us, "He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty."
It is worth noting that the blessings promised in this psalm are not for just anyone. They are specifically given to believers-and not just believers in general but believers who specifically meet the requirements in it. Psalm 91 is full of conditional promises. God promises to do certain things for us, hinging on our doing certain things that are required of us in this psalm.
We have a relationship with God because we have put our faith in Jesus Christ and have turned from our sin. But are we living in constant communion and fellowship with God? That is so important. Many people are not. They are not dwelling consistently with God. But the Lord wants you to dwell in the secret place of the Most High.
He wants you to be like Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet when He came to visit her home in Bethany. There is a time for busyness. There is a time for work. And there is also a time to worship. Unfortunately we sometimes substitute perspiration for inspiration and work for worship.
If you do that, it only will be a matter of time until you spiritually burn out. You can't give out more than you take in. You need to live in communion with Him. You need to dwell in the secret place of the Most High.
FROM THE HEART
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