Prophecy Update Newsletter
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
North Korea and Bible Prophecy - By Britt Gillette -
North Korea has nuclear weapons. They're working to build long-range missiles. And many believe dictator Kim Jong-un is insane. He's promised to blanket his neighbors in "a sea of fire" and threatens the United States on an almost daily basis. To some, war is imminent, and they're fearful of what they see coming. But what does it all mean? How does North Korea fit into Bible prophecy? Does the Bible offer any insight?
I believe it does.
While no Bible prophecy specifically calls out North Korea, Jesus pointed to a time when the world will be on edge because of the actions of a country just like it. When asked to describe the signs of His Coming, Jesus said, "You will hear of wars and rumors of wars" (Matthew 24:6; Luke 21:9). Can you think of a better description for today's world? More specifically, can you think of a better description of North Korea itself? Rumors of war between the United States and North Korea fill the daily headlines. Rumors of a regional war escalating into a worldwide conflict also dominate the headlines.
In addition to these rumors of war, North Korea's pursuit of ever more destructive weapons creates the possibility of death on a scale the world has never before seen. If North Korea sparks a global conflict, it's easy to imagine "war and slaughter everywhere" (Revelation 6:4) and one-third of the world's population dead (Revelation 9:18). For centuries, Christians struggled to imagine how such prophecies might be fulfilled. Today, it's not difficult to imagine.
It's possible these Bible verses point to nuclear war. We can't know ahead of time. However, we do know they point to a cataclysmic global war. North Korea has the capability to start such a war. And Kim Jong-un's saber rattling fits the definition of "rumors of war." But what's most important is this - his actions foreshadow a dangerous trend. It's a trend that will lead to more and more "rumors of war." And it's a trend that rekindles a fear many world leaders had in the first decades of the nuclear age.
In 1949, the Soviet Union tested its first nuclear bomb. This test kicked off the Cold War and an unprecedented nuclear-arms race. It almost ended in global annihilation. For years, the world teetered on the brink of nuclear war.
But eventually, daily fears of an all-out war between the United States and the Soviet Union faded. Leaders of both nations embraced the idea of mutual-assured destruction (MAD), the belief that a nuclear war is unwinnable and thus futile. Fear of total destruction, the idea no one can win a war between two nuclear powers, is all that has kept us from World War III. The concept is less than ideal, but it has worked successfully for over seven decades now.
Because MAD has been so effective in preventing World War III, many people have let their guard down. They've forgotten one of the first concerns of the nuclear age - nuclear proliferation. In the early 1950s, world leaders feared the rise of dozens of nuclear powers. They feared each new power would increase the likelihood of a catastrophic war. This was the original fear of the nuclear age. But for the most part, it didn't happen. When the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty debuted in January 1967, it recognized only five nations as nuclear powers - the United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, France, and China.
In the years since, India, Pakistan, and North Korea are the only nations to openly declare they have nuclear weapons. Israel remains purposefully vague about its nuclear status, but is believed to have nuclear weapons. So after seven decades, we only have nine nuclear powers. That's right. After 70+ years, only nine of the world's nearly 200 nations have developed nuclear weapons. However, the ninth and most recent nuclear power threatens to change all of that.
This is the true danger posed by North Korea, not its belligerent threats to set the United States on fire. North Korea's actions promise to plunge the world into all-out war. But it's not because they'll launch their nuclear weapons - although they might. The real reason North Korea poses a threat is simply because it has nuclear weapons. That's right. Just having nuclear weapons is a threat to world peace. Because North Korea's actions open the door to widespread nuclear-arms development.
North Korea's Cash Crop
North Korea is an oppressive nation devoid of individual liberty and property rights. Kim Jong-un rules with an iron fist. His country is isolated among the nations of the world. Distrustful of friends and enemies alike, his nation strives to be self-sufficient. The results are abysmal. Outside of the ruling class, everyone lives in poverty. Famine is rampant, and millions go to bed hungry every night.
Aside from imported luxury items for the ruling class, international trade is non-existent. The communist regime stifles free enterprise and innovation, and North Korea doesn't produce anything a trading partner would find valuable. Well, almost anything.
There is one thing North Korea can offer the world. And it's a valuable cash crop - nuclear weapons. The leaders of North Korea can barely feed their people, but they've done a fairly good job producing weapons of mass destruction.
While we can't know ahead of time if North Korea will ever use its nuclear weapons, we can know it will play a key role in the outbreak of World War III. How can I be so sure? Because North Korea's actions put the world on a path to nuclear proliferation. This is the same path world leaders feared most in the 1950s. North Korea proves those early fears weren't misplaced.
Take Iran for instance. It's no secret Iran desires nuclear weapons. But earlier this decade, Israel's Stuxnet cyber attack caused serious damage to Iran's nuclear program. Is it really a stretch to think Iran will gladly pay North Korea for its nuclear weapons development knowledge? Is it absurd to think North Korea will try to profit by selling its technical know-how to Iran? No. It's not.
In fact, Iran and North Korea are already working together. Iranian scientists have attended nuclear tests in North Korea. If Iran doesn't already have nuclear weapons, they'll have them soon. North Korea is also testing intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). If North Korea develops ICBMs, it's safe to say Iran will have them soon thereafter.
While everyone hopes for the best, it's naÃ¯ve to expect these developments won't have negative consequences. The nuclear ambitions of North Korea and Iran have made surrounding nations nervous. This means those nations will seek their own nuclear deterrent. Both North Korea and Iran know it's suicide to attack the United States with nuclear weapons. But what if they attack their neighbors? Are U.S. allies certain America will come to their aid if one of these rogue nations attacks them?
This is exactly what led to the third and fourth nuclear powers in the 1950s. France and the United Kingdom weren't convinced the United States would defend them from Soviet aggression, so they developed their own nuclear weapons. If allowed to continue, North Korea's aggressive and belligerent behavior will have the same result. South Korea, Japan, Australia, Taiwan, Myanmar, Vietnam, and others are all likely to pursue nuclear weapons if North Korea continues with its threats.
And what happens when Iran announces its own nuclear capability? Just like North Korea, its neighbors will seek their own nuclear weapons to counter Iran's power in the region. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Turkey are just a few of the nations that will go nuclear.
The end result? In a short period of time, the number of nations with nuclear weapons could easily double - maybe even triple. It's difficult to imagine this will decrease the chances of war. In fact, it's a safe bet we'll see an increased likelihood of war, and not just because more nations will be armed with nuclear weapons. There's another reason. Nuclear proliferation will create an incentive to develop new weapons - weapons to defend against a nuclear strike. And the most powerful nations on earth - the United States, Russia, China, and the European Union - will pursue these new weapons with every resource they have.
Where We're Going
In a world where North Korea, Iran, and other rogue nations have nuclear weapons, other nations will heavily invest in new defense measures. These measures will lead to the development of new weapons. These new weapons will be so powerful they'll render MAD obsolete. These post-MAD weapons include artificial intelligence, quantum computing, molecular manufacturing, and other powerful technologies. Ultimately, they'll erase the threat of mutual-assured destruction. This is the same threat that has prevented nuclear war for 70+ years. When that happens, World War III will break out. We'll see the fulfillment of Revelation 6:4 ("war and slaughter everywhere") as well as several other end-times prophecies. And all of this will happen because of nuclear proliferation.
That's why North Korea plays a critical role in Bible prophecy. Kim Jung-un is not the Antichrist. He won't take over the world. But directly or indirectly, his actions will eventually lead to World War III and the rise of the Antichrist.
Will Kim Jong-un and North Korea launch a nuclear weapon and ignite a global war? I don't know. No one knows. But I do know this - Jesus is coming soon. All the signs are present. And when He comes, the world will enter an age unlike any other. No more tears. No more death. No more sorrow, crying, or pain (Revelation 21:4). What a glorious day that will be! So come, Lord Jesus. Come (Revelation 22:20).
Palestinians: If You Do Not Give Us Everything, We Cannot Trust You - by Bassam Tawil -
The Palestinians are once again angry -- this time because the Trump administration does not seem to have endorsed their position regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Palestinians are also angry because they believe that the Trump administration does not want to force Israel to comply with all their demands.
Here is how the Palestinians see it: If you are not with us, then you must be against us. If you do not accept all our demands, then you must be our enemy and we cannot trust you to play the role of an "honest" broker in the conflict with Israel.
Last week, unconfirmed reports once again suggested that the Trump administration has been working on a comprehensive plan for peace in the Middle East. The full details of the plan remain unknown at this time.
However, what is certain -- according to the reports -- is that the plan does not meet all of the Palestinians' demands. In fact, no peace plan -- by Americans or any other party -- would be able to provide the Palestinians with everything for which they are asking.
Palestinian requirements remain as unrealistic as ever. They include, among other things, the demand that millions of Palestinian "refugees" be allowed to enter Israel. Also, the Palestinians want Israel to withdraw to indefensible borders that would bring Hamas and other groups closer to Tel Aviv.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) and its leader, 82-year-old Mahmoud Abbas, now in the twelfth year of his four-year term, continue to insist that they will accept nothing less than a sovereign and independent Palestinian state, with east Jerusalem as its capital, on the entire lands captured by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War.
Most dangerous is that even in the unlikely event that Abbas would sign some deal, another leader can come along later and legitimately say that Abbas had no authority to sign anything as his term had long since expired.
Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist terror group controlling the Gaza Strip, maintains that it will never accept the presence of Israel on "Muslim-owned" land. Hamas wants all the land Israel supposedly "took" in 1948. Translation: Hamas wants the destruction of Israel in order to establish an Islamic Caliphate where non-Muslims would be granted the status of dhimmi ("protected person").
Unlike the Palestinian Authority, Hamas deserves credit for being clear and consistent about its true goal. Since its establishment three decades ago -- and despite recent illusory hopes expressed by Western pundits -- Hamas has refused to change its ideology or soften its policy. It resolutely sticks to its stance that no Muslim is entitled to give up any part of Muslim-owned lands to non-Muslims (in this instance, Jews. The same held true for "cleansing" Turkey of Armenian and Greek non-Muslims).
The Janus-faced Palestinian Authority, on the other hand, continues to speak in multiple voices, sending conflicting messages both to its people and the international community. No one really knows whether the PA has a clear and unified strategy in dealing with Israel.
Mahmoud Abbas knows how to sound extremely nice, and often does so when he meets with Israelis and Western leaders. But when he speaks in Arabic to his own people, sometimes it is hard to distinguish Abbas from Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.
US President Donald Trump talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on May 23, 2017 in Bethlehem. (Photo by PPO via Getty Images)
Some of Abbas's top officials sound even more extreme than Hamas. Except, of course, when these soft-spoken, Western-educated Palestinian officials are dispatched to talk to Westerners. Then, all of a sudden, comes the honey.
Because the Palestinian Authority leaders and their surrogates speak in more than one voice, they send conflicting messages to the world about their actual intentions, often managing to fool everyone. Too often the world believes the messages they want to hear instead of the less-comfortable real ones.
The Palestinian Authority's contradictory messages have created the impression that it is both a peace partner and an enemy -- depending on whom you heard and when you heard him.
One thing is clear: from the Palestinian angle, there is no love lost between the US and them. From their point of view -- and this is a point of view that they have held for an exhaustingly long time -- the US is unable to play an unbiased role as a mediator in the conflict with Israel. What eats at the Palestinians is the strong and strategic alliance between the US and Israel.
The Palestinians have accused every US administration over the past four or five decades of being "biased" in favor of Israel. The Palestinians would certainly like to see the hundreds of millions of dollars in financial aid every year they receive from the US continue. Yet, no matter what the US does for the Palestinians, the Americans will always be denounced for their alleged bias in favor of Israel.
The Trump administration is about to receive a lesson in Palestinian politics. If and when the Trump administration makes public its peace plan, the Palestinians will be the first to reject it, simply because it does not meet all their demands.
Mahmoud Abbas knows that he cannot come back to his people with anything less than what he has promised his people: 100%.
The past few days have already given us indications of the Palestinian response. Here, for instance, is what Abbas's spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudaineh, had to say when he was asked to comment on reports concerning the peace plan and the US threat to close down the PLO's diplomatic mission in Washington: "The American administration has lost its ability to play the role of mediator in the region. The US can no longer be seen as the sponsor of the peace process."
Abu Rudaineh's remarks were rather more restrained than comments concerning the Trump administration made by other Palestinian officials and factions.
The PLO's chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, went as far as threatening that the Palestinians would suspend all communication with the US if the PLO's diplomatic mission is shuttered.
Of course, no one seems to take Erekat's threat seriously. Suspending contacts with the US is tantamount to suicide for the Palestinians. Without US financial and political support, the Palestinian Authority and Erekat would disappear from the scene within days. At this stage, it remains unclear whether Erekat's talk about suspending contacts with the Americans includes the refusal to accept US financial aid.
Yet, Erekat's threats should be seen in the context of growing Palestinian rage and hostility toward the Trump administration. This anger is now being translated into a rhetorical onslaught against Trump and his administration. Palestinians are now accusing the current administration of working and conspiring towards "liquidating" the Palestinian cause with the help of some Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
The Palestinians have made up their mind: the Trump peace plan is bad for us and we will not accept it. The plan is bad because it does not force Israel to give the Palestinians everything. For the Palestinians, the plan is bad because it is viewed as part of a conspiracy concocted by Jared Kushner and Saudi Arabia's crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman. The Palestinians have convinced themselves that Trump wants to "liquidate" their cause, not solve it.
Trump is about to go through the same process that President Bill Clinton experienced at Camp David 17 years ago. Then, much to the astonishment of Clinton, Yasser Arafat turned down flat an astoundingly generous offer by then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. Trump will soon learn that for Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinians, 99% is just not enough.
OUR WORLD: Holding the PLO accountable - Caroline B. Glick - http://www.jpost.com/printarticle.aspx?id=514751
The PLO's campaign to get recognized as a state breached both of its agreements with Israel and the terms under which the US recognized it and permitted it to operate missions on US soil.
Is the PLO's long vacation from accountability coming to an end? How about the State Department's? In 1987 the US State Department placed the PLO on its list of foreign terrorist organizations. The PLO was removed from the list in 1994, following the initiation of its peace process with Israel in 1993.
As part of the Clinton administration's efforts to conclude a long-term peace deal between the PLO and Israel, in 1994 then president Bill Clinton signed an executive order waiving enforcement of laws that barred the PLO and its front groups from operating in the US. His move enabled the PLO to open a mission in Washington.
In 2010, then president Barack Obama upgraded the mission's status to the level of "Delegation General." The move was seen as a signal that the Obama administration supported moves by the PLO to initiate recognition of the "State of Palestine" by European governments and international bodies.
Whereas Obama's PLO upgrade was legally dubious, the PLO's campaign to get recognized as a state breached both of its agreements with Israel and the terms under which the US recognized it and permitted it to operate missions on US soil.
The operation of the PLO's missions in the US was contingent on periodic certification by the secretary of state that the PLO was not engaged in terrorism, including incitement of terrorism, was not encouraging the boycott of Israel and was not seeking to bypass its bilateral negotiations with Israel in order to achieve either diplomatic recognition or statehood. Under Obama, the State Department refused to acknowledge the PLO's breach of all the conditions of US recognition.
Angry at the administration's facilitation of PLO breaches, in 2015 Congress mandated stricter and more precise conditions for continued operation of the PLO's mission in Washington. Starting in 2016, the PLO was explicitly banned from advocating the prosecution of Israelis by the International Criminal Court. In 2015 the PLO joined the ICC with the explicit purpose of advocating the prosecution of Israelis. And in conformance with this purpose, in his speech before the UN General Assembly in September 2017, PLO/PA chief Mahmoud Abbas called for the ICC to prosecute Israelis for building communities in Judea and Samaria.
Given his experience with US administrations since Clinton, Abbas had every reason to believe that he would suffer no repercussions for his statement. No US administration had ever called the PLO/PA to account for its open breach of the terms of US recognition. So it isn't surprising that Abbas and his advisers were utterly shocked when on Friday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sent a letter to the PLO mission in Washington informing PLO envoy Husam Zomlot that he could not renew certification of PLO compliance with US law in light of Abbas's statement in September.
The only way for the mission to remain in place is if President Donald Trump certifies within 90 days that the PLO is engaged in "direct, meaningful negotiations with Israel."
One of the primary functions of the PLO mission in Washington is to promote and fund the boycott movement against Israel - in contravention of the terms of its operation and the terms of its agreements with Israel.
In written testimony to the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa in February, Jonathan Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies revealed that the mission is "said to be actively promoting campus BDS [boycott, divestment and sanctions] activity in the US."
"PLO operatives in Washington, DC," Schanzer said, "are reportedly involved in coordinating the activities of Palestinian students in the US who receive funds from the PLO to engage in BDS activism. This, of course, suggests that the BDS movement is not a grassroots activist movement, but rather one that is heavily influenced by PLO-sponsored persons."
In April 2016, Schanzer informed Congress that the PLO consulate in Chicago is a major funder of the BDS campus group Students for Justice in Palestine. The chairman of the US Coalition to Boycott Israel, which among other things funds BDS, is Ghassan Barakat, an official at the PLO's Chicago consulate. His colleague, Senan Shaqdeh, is a member of the coalition. Shaqdeh also claims to be the founder of Students for Justice in Palestine, the antisemitic BDS group that operates on campuses throughout the US.
As Schanzer noted, in 2014 Shaqdeh traveled to Ramallah to meet with Abbas and PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.
Aside from the fact that the US has refused to hold the PLO accountable for its actions for a quarter century, the PLO has another good reason to be shocked by Tillerson's letter: the US consulate in Jerusalem operates as almost a mirror to the PLO mission in Washington.
The US consulate in Jerusalem has the same status as an embassy. Like the US ambassador in Tel Aviv, the US consul general in Jerusalem reports directly to the State Department. He is not accredited to Israel. His area of operations includes Jerusalem and its environs within and beyond the 1949 armistice lines, including Beit Shemesh, Mevasseret Zion, Judea and Samaria.
Israeli citizens who live within the consulate's area of operations are not permitted to receive consular and visa services from the embassy in Tel Aviv. Among the hundreds of thousands of Israeli Jews that are required to receive US consular services from the consulate rather than the embassy are tens of thousands of Jewish dual nationals.
And yet, as Yisrael Medad has exhaustively documented, the Jerusalem consulate maintains an effective boycott of both these dual nationals and Israeli nationals who live in its area of operation. All of the consulate's activities for US citizens are directed specifically and openly toward "Palestinian residents of Jerusalem and the West Bank."
Consul General Donald Blome similarly directs all of his efforts toward reaching out to the Palestinians, ignoring as a regular practice the millions of Jews who live in his area of responsibility.
The consulate also openly rejects the notion that Israel and Jews have ties to its area of operations. For instance, Blome went on a hike around Judea and Samaria in July where he effectively erased the Jewish heritage sites in the areas. The consulate echoed UNESCO's Jew-free version of the history of the land of Israel in a press release that celebrated his walk along the "Masar Ibrahim Al-Khalil" trail in celebration of "the connection of the people with the land." Jews were not mentioned in the press release. And the historical name of the route he took is "Abraham's path."
Scholarships to study in the US and jobs listed on the website are open to "Palestinian residents of Jerusalem and the West Bank."
In other words, while the PLO missions are pushing the BDS agenda in the US, the US consulate in Jerusalem is implementing it on the ground in Israel.
Tillerson's letter to the PLO mission on Friday came two weeks before Trump will have to decide whether or not to sign a related waiver. On December 1, Trump will either allow the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act to come into force or he will sign a waiver postponing the embassy move for yet another six months.
In a congressional hearing on the issue of moving the embassy to Jerusalem on November 8, Rep. Ron DeSantis said that transfer of the embassy may be delayed due to the Trump administration's "efforts to pursue a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs."
DeSantis argued that until the embassy is moved the Trump administration should take "incremental steps" that move it toward the goal.
Among the steps he advocated, DeSantis said "the American consulates in Jerusalem should report to the American embassy in Israel, not directly to the State Department."
Tillerson's letter to Zomlot was shocking because it represented the first time since 1993 that the PLO has been held accountable for its actions. The time has come for the State Department, too, to be held accountable for its behavior. And the best way to start this process is to follow DeSantis's advice, subordinate the US consulates in Jerusalem to the US ambassador and end their boycott of Jews - US citizens and non-citizens - who live in the Jerusalem area, in Judea and Samaria.
Turkey, Iran, Russia: Trilateral distrust in Syria - Ali Bakeer - http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/11/turkey-iran-russia-trilateral-distrust-in-syria.html#ixzz4zBFVfKQg
Russian President Vladimir Putin will be hosting his Turkish and Iranian counterparts, Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Hassan Rouhani, at a trilateral summit Nov. 22 in Sochi, to discuss Syria and regional developments. Prior to the summit, the three countries held a preparatory meeting with experts in Tehran, followed by another meeting on the ministerial level in Turkey's Antalya.
At the conclusion of the Antalya meeting Nov. 19, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov seemed very optimistic, and he was quoted as saying that "the meeting was useful" and the parties to the talks "agreed on all key issues." Yet Turkey's Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif acted in a discreet manner when the former talked about bridging the gaps between the three parties and the latter did not disclose much.
Although these meetings can be seen as a sign of a growing cooperation between the three parties, they can also be interpreted as a reflection of distrust between them. When it comes to Russia's agenda in Syria, both Ankara and Tehran have their own fears as they are concerned that Moscow might exploit them at some point to achieve its own goals.
Over the last 11 months, the three countries managed to work tactically on selective matters in order to maximize their gains in the short term in Syria. However, as the battle against the Islamic State (IS) is coming to an end and the topics on which they can agree shrink, each party fears that Russia will conclude side agreements at their own expense, hence the growing distrust between the three players.
For Turkey, the issue of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and People's Protection Units (YPG) is a priority right now. In a Daily Sabah column, Turkey's presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin summed up his country's six grand goals in Syria, reiterating that "the question of the PYD-YPG remains a red line for Turkey."
Russia's position on this matter is vague at best when it comes to Ankara's crucial interests, but pro-Kurdish when it comes to Moscow's own interests. In a shattered region where failed states are flourishing, minorities tend to be more valuable for foreign powers. While Russia clearly doesn't want to leave the Kurds to the United States, it also wants to use them to gain influence and leverage when needed, whether it be against Turkey, Iran or even Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
In January, Russia presented a draft constitution for the new Syria. The draft constitution guarantees the Kurds inflated powers far greater than their size to the extent that even the Assad regime had refused them. Apparently, Moscow did not consult with Ankara on this matter despite the fact that both are supposed to be coordinating the Astana platform.
Last month, Putin expressed the will to host the Syrian National Dialogue Congress in Sochi. Moscow, which does not list the Kurdistan Workers Party, the PYD and the YPG as terrorist organizations, invited the PYD, causing a backlash after Turkey and the Syrian opposition objected.
Again, it was obvious that Moscow had not coordinated this step with Ankara. Most importantly, by doing this Russia appeared to be ignoring an already well-known Turkish red line, thus raising questions in Ankara about its real intentions.
Explaining this situation, Kerim Has, a lecturer at Moscow State University, told Al-Monitor, "Turkish-Russian cooperation is not a product of strategic planning. Ankara is well aware that it needs to cooperate with Russia to have a seat around the table about Syria's future, while Moscow also needs Ankara's support to realize Russia's own geopolitical aims in Syria and the Middle East region in general."
He added, "There are a lot of diverging issues between Turkey and Russia, but the Kurdish PYD issue is the most critical one right now. Neither Ankara nor Moscow trusts each other as there is an inevitable partnership based on selective cooperation, and this is why the relations between the two countries are very fragile now."
Last week, Putin and US President Donald Trump issued a joint statement stressing that there is no military solution for the conflict in Syria, and there is a need to support the UN-backed Geneva political process. One day later, reports emerged citing a bilateral agreement between Russia and the United States on a cease-fire deal in southern Syria that would include the expulsion of the Iranian-backed militias from the border areas in the Golan Heights.
Russia immediately denied the existence of such a deal, and Lavrov maintained that Moscow made no such pledges to ensure the withdrawal of pro-Iranian forces from Syria. Commenting on the issue, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghassemi responded, "Iran has been fully informed by the Russians on the cease-fire agreement. No agreement would be successful without taking the realities on the ground into account."
The situation on the ground suggests that Iran has the biggest non-regular army in Syria, which consists of tens of thousands of Shiite militia fighters. Many regional and international players would like to see those militias leave Syria. The eroding and defeat of IS is shifting the focus again to pro-Iran militias, which makes Tehran very anxious about its situation in Syria.
Contrary to Ghassemi's calm response, a well-informed source told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, "[Iran] is never comfortable whenever Russia sits with the United States, Israel or Turkey. [Tehran] does not take what the Kremlin says for granted, especially when it comes to its own agenda in Syria."
The source gave examples of bilateral agreements between Russia and these countries, stressing, "As Iran is the most powerful player on the ground, [their] ultimate purpose is to hinder [Iran's] influence in Syria."
Clarifying the complicated nature of relations between Iran and Russia, Hakki Uygur, the vice director of the Ankara-based Center for Iranian Studies, told Al-Monitor, "If there is just one word we could use [to describe] Iran's foreign policy, it would be distrust."
He said, "For Iran, Russia is not an exception on this matter, taking into consideration historic and recent experiences with each other on various issues. Tehran knows that Moscow has its own agenda in Syria with Western powers that are not in line with that of Iran - whether it be regarding the 'axis of resistance issue' or Assad. That's why each actor tries to engage with a maximum number of allies and does not want to take the risk of being alone in such a complicated conflict area."
State dealings are not based on trust but interests. However, there are reasons why these three countries have been able to cooperate with each other until now despite the growing distrust between them. One of the reasons could be their position vis-a-vis the US position in Syria. Yet to what extent this situation can be sustained is questionable.
Nearing Midnight: The Greatest Bubble in History - Todd Strandberg - http://www.raptureready.com/category/nearing-midnight/
The US Stock Market has never had a better run in the history of Wall Street. At the Depth of the Great Financial Crisis, the Dow Jones Average screeched down to 6,594.44 on March 5, 2009. Since that low, the Dow has risen 350 percent. There is no other eight-year period where the Index has seen such a massive point gain.
President Trump is the only president in US history to oversee two stock-market rallies of nine days or more where the markets set new highs each and every day. In February, Trump matched President Reagan's 1987 record of the Dow reaching a new high for its 12th day in a row. In August, President Trump reigned over a nine-day stock market rally with each day reaching record highs.
In the year since Donald Trump was elected president, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has closed at record highs 82 times - also a record. The 28.5 percent rally is the biggest one-year gain in the popularity index under a newly-elected commander-in-chief since the Great Depression.
What has made all these record highs possible is the lack of any major down days. Last month the Dow broke its previous record of the number of days without a three-percent drawdown.
If you find yourself left out of this massive explosion in wealth, you are not alone. For the first time ever, the richest one percent now owns more than half of the world's wealth. "The share of the top one percent has been on an upward path ever since, passing the 2000 level in 2013 and achieving new peaks every year thereafter. According to our latest estimates, the top one percent own 50.1 percent of all household wealth in the world." - Credit Suisse
The secret to the stock market's unrelenting rise is the flood of money coming from the government-driven credit expansion. The world's four most powerful central banks have pumped more than $10 trillion into the global economy since the financial crisis. The Swiss National Bank alone owns $90 billion in US stocks.
It is not just the US Stock Market that is getting bought out by central banks. The Japanese Central Bank has purchased most of the stock that makes up the Nikkei index. The holdings of Bank of Japan have become so massive, it now owns 75 percent of the top index funds in that nation. Only six percent of Japanese people report owning any stocks.
All this buying has created one of the greatest stock-market bubbles in history. A good example of these insane valuations that big tech companies have reached is the stock of Amazon. Legendary trader, Sam Zell, recently stated that in order to justify the 290 earnings multiple that Amazon trades at today, the company would have to be worth 25 percent of the US economy five years from now. Amazon has annual sales of $160 billion, and to reach 25 percent, its sales would have to rise to $3.2 trillion.
He made this same observation about Cisco Systems stock in 1997. At its peak, Cisco was worth $600 billion in today's money. It is currently only worth $170 billion and has annual sales of $48 billion, which only amount to a tiny fraction of the US economy.
It's not just stocks that are a bubble territory. The cryptocurrency bitcoin has recently hit $7,900 per bitcoin. When bitcoin first started trading in 2008, it was selling for $.008. Since then, it has gone up almost a million times in value. There is no other asset in human history that has had such a huge appreciation. The Great Tulip Mania of the 1600's only saw prices rise 6,000 times.
The price of bitcoin has huge swings in its price. As soon as it hit that nearly $8,000 high, it declined by 30 percent down to $5,500. It then bounced back above the $7,000. The lack of any panic selling on the part of the holder of bitcoin seems to indicate it can trade higher. With the total value of cryptocurrencies now over $200 billion, the days of 10- or 100-fold increase would seem to be in the past. Since we passed crazy a long time ago, anything is now possible. It's not just the price that will eventually reign in this mania. About a year ago, there were only 400 of these cryptocurrencies. Today, there are over 2,200 of them.
If there was any doubt about whether we are living through the biggest bubble in history, it should have ended last Wednesday. A rediscovered painting by Leonardo da Vinci broke the record price for art at an auction, selling for just over $450 million. For all the new bitcoin billionaires, that's only 62,000 digital coins. The previous auction record for an Old Master painting was held by Peter Paul Rubens, whose "The Massacre of the Innocents" fetched $76.5 million in 2002. For anyone thinking that half a billion dollars for da Vinci was a fair price, I saw a painting at the same auction that looked like it was scribed in 30 seconds by a blindfolded child. It sold for $46 million.
I think the reason why we are seeing one bubble after another is because of Bible prophecy. Jesus said the time of his return for the Church would be equal to the times of Noah. Everyone was tranquilly eating and drinking and then, suddenly, disaster took them by surprise. The longer this historic bubble lasts, the more we, as Christians, should be looking for our Saviour.
"But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be" (Matthew 24:37-39).
America The Unthankful and Doomed - David Pepe -
Well my dear friends... we have arrived at another Thanksgiving Day and we as a nation are more unthankful than ever. It is indeed a sign of the times that we as a nation - founded on moral absolutes and the rule of law - are at a final fatal decline. When millions of Americans receive government befits and many of those have no intention of working or being accountable and are addicted to moral relativism and decadence the jig is up my dear friends. This past 8 years has showed us that it absolutely pays to be slothful, lazy, greedy, self-serving, lawless, deviant, decadent, deceivers and swindlers, all to serve the narcissistic nature of millions as they hide behind the fortified titled wall, "the poor". It will be these very individuals who this Thanksgiving will have nothing to be thankful about for they are all takers and not thankers. The majority of these have been bred and raised with an entitlement attitude and have become the greediest of all Americans. They are moochers and takers, idol and swift to exercise their lawlessness and greed. The socially dependent and government addicts of socialism are more greedy then all the Wall Street bankers and brokers put together.
These expect something for nothing and are absolutely void of self respect (Rom. 1:28-32). These believe that they have a right to all that they desire and others should pay their tab to feed their godless passions and sloth. It is absolutely tragic, for in their dependent and socialistic greed they have allowed the state and Satan to hold over them a ceiling of tyranny and remove from them their personal accountability and personal responsibility to society and to Almighty God (2 Tim. 4:1-7). The majority of these individuals (red, yellow, black and white) whose lives revolve around their narcissistic ambitions this Thanksgiving Day will be UNTHANKFUL to Almighty God their Creator and to the American working taxpayers who make their slothful and lawless existence accessible to the idle playground in which they indulge themselves in (Rom 1:18-32, 2 Tim 3:1-7, Jude 1:10). Almighty God is NOT a respecter of persons and will Judge all in that Day according to His RIGHTEOUS STANDARD, the LORD Jesus Christ (Rom. 10:2-4, Rev. 20:11-15). To these, America is the "Land of Give It To Me" and NOT the Land of opportunity.
Another group of Americans that covers the whole political spectrum (Left and Right) are those that work and do provide for themselves. It will be this Thanksgiving that these will get together and enjoy the fruits of their labors with family and friends. They will eat, drink and be merry NEVER once bowing their heads to Almighty God with thanksgiving (Rom. 1:20-21). To these, Thanksgiving Day has become all about THEM and their families. That is what Thanksgiving Day has become here in America. America - whether on the dole or off of it - has highjacked Thanksgiving Day and instead of thanking Almighty God they have become UNTHANKFUL to Him and have EXCLUDED Him (Rom. 1:18-21). These will indulge in the bountiful provisions of this nation oblivious that it is Almighty God from whom all blessing flow. When a nation which was founded on Judeo/Christian values has turn their backs to reality and have gone a whoring after the "gods" of godless moral relativism and self gratitude what hope is there for her?
On both accounts (the dependent and sufficient), I have personally seen and experienced harsh people and dear people exclude Almighty God on a Day that was set apart to remember Him. Godlessness and unthankfulness to Almighty God exists throughout the political spectrum and is found just as much in conservatism as in liberalism. A thankful heart will acknowledge Almighty God in spirit and truth and an unthankful heart will not (John 3:19-21, 4:24). The victicrats live as lords and the successful as kings. We as a nation today take everything for granted. We have more than any individuals throughout history have ever had and yet we are unthankful and unsatisfied. Kings have never eaten and had such possessions as we do here today that we look at as common and simple. We as a nation have been over run with want and greed and there is no stopping us.
We as a nation are NOT content and are NOT satisfied. We want, want, want and none of it EVER feeds our famished soul (Eccl. 3; 2 Peter 2:10-14). Only Almighty God the ETERNAL can do that! From conservatism to liberalism, from the rich to the middle class to the entitled victicrat to those who are truly poor, personal gain trumps Almighty God and His ETERNAL saving solution for the individual today. We as a nation today have chosen government in place of the Savior. We have chosen materialism in place of spiritualism (Luke, 12:16-23, James5:1-6). We have chosen a delusional moral relativism in place of REALITY (Rom.1:18-32, 2 Tim. 3:1-7, 2 Peter 2:1-2). We have chosen self created "good works" instead of Almighty God's RIGHTEOUSNESS (Rom. 10:2-4). We have chosen our wants, desires and wishes over our desperate need for a Savior (Prov. 27:20, 2 Peter 2:10-14). We have desired and chosen the temporal comforts and delusions of this fallen world over the ETERNAL REALITIES of peace, rightness and immortality (Isa. 28:15, 32:17, Rom. 14:17, Gal. 5:19-23, James 3:18); and yes my dear friends, we as a nation have in our heart of hearts have chosen death, Hell and Satan over the ETERNAL LOVE, PERSON AND BLISS of Almighty God (Isa.28:15, 1 Cor. 2:9, Rev. 21, 22:1-5). An unthankful heart and a heart that cannot express true thankfulness to the God of ALL creation is indeed a wasteland and a desolation ripe for Hell's ETERNAL prison hold (i.e., The Lake of Fire) - Rom. 1;21-22, Rev. 20:11-15. This is where we are as a nation today.
My dear friends there is a remnant (Isa. 1:4-9) throughout this nation today that still chooses to follow Almighty God and knows His Son as their personal Savior as the Holy Scriptures so teach (John 1:12). They are thankful daily for all that Almighty God has provided for them (in time and in ETERNITY) and they are found throughout the social classes today (1 Cor. 10:31). Sadly these are outcasts, rejected and scoffed at by the political parties of today and this godless nation. UNTHANKFULNESS has engulfed our nation and it has taking its toll on our society and culture. We have much my beloved to be thankful for today and everyday. Thanksgiving Day is the norm for the child of God who desires God's will for their lives and fully appreciates the Savior's ETERNAL LOVE (Col. 3:16, Phil. 4:4).
Paul warned us what would be the climate of the Last Days and we are fully there as a nation and a world.
"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." (2 Tim. 3:1-7)
The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!
Daily Jot: A Thanksgiving Heritage - Bill Wilson -
Note: I want to share with you some of my heritage which has become part of the heritage of America. My grandfather 13 generations back was William Bradford, co-writer of the Mayflower Compact, inventor of the free market system, and governor of the Plymouth colony for over 30 years. I would like to share some insights of and from his writings in "Of Plymouth Plantation."
In the days leading up to the first "Thanksgiving" of the Pilgrims, they had dispatched a group of ten men to "explore the bay and trade with the natives." They were guided by the English speaking Squanto, who also served as an interpreter. When the men returned, they were very impressed with the land around the bay and wished they could have settled there instead of Cape Cod. William Bradford, wrote however, "But it seems that the Lord, Who assigns to all men the bounds of their habitations, had appointed it for another use. And thus they found the Lord to be with them in all their ways, and to bless their outgoings and incomings, for which let His holy name have the praise forever, to all posterity."
This "Thanksgiving" to the Lord offered by Bradford in his history "Of Plymouth Plantation" indicates that Jesus was at the center of his thoughts about all things--even the land they were allocated by God to begin their colony. It also forebears testimony to the very positive Christian witness and relations the Pilgrims maintained with the Indians. This comment was followed immediately by Bradford's account of the harvest in October 1621. Bradford writes, "Each person had about a peck of meal a week, or now since harvest, Indian corn in that proportion; and afterwards many wrote at length about their plenty to their friends in England--not feigned but true reports."
One of those true reports is found in "Mourt's Relation" by Pilgrim Edward Winslow--the only account of the first "Thanksgiving." Winslow writes: "our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labors...at which time amongst other recreations, we exercised our Arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoyt, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed on our Governor, and upon the Captain and others."
Winslow concluded, "And although it be not always so plentiful, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty." Thanks to the godly men and women who came before us, even in our decline we remain blessed more than any other nation on earth. Jeremiah 4:2 says that if God's people return to Him, "And thou shalt swear, The Lord liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness; and the nations shall bless themselves in Him, and in Him shall they glory." This is a promise to the nations. So today, as should be our practice each day, may you have a Psalm 103:2 day, "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits."
Daily Devotion: Always Thankful - By Greg Laurie - www.harvest.org
In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. -1 Thessalonians 5:18
A hospital chaplain kept a record of 2,000 patients he had known who were apparently in a dying condition and had shown signs of repentance. He reported that of those who were restored to health, only two showed what he felt were marked changes in their spiritual lives after their recovery.
In other words, when people thought they were dying, they wanted God's help. But once they had recovered, they forgot about Him. They continued to live the way they wanted to live.
Far too often we ask God for help, but when He gives it, we don't offer Him any thanks in return. What would you think of a person who was always asking for resources and favors and never took the time to thank you? (Actually, I think we call them children.)
It is one thing to give thanks when things are going well, but we can give thanks even when times are hard. Think of David and the beautiful psalms that he penned. One of my favorites is Psalm 63: "Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You. Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name" (verses 3-4).
We may think David wrote those words while he was kicking back on a beautiful, sunny day. But actually he wrote Psalm 63 when he was in exile in the wilderness, running from his son, Absalom, who wanted to take his throne. In the midst of his anguish and personal pain, he wrote, "Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise You. . . ."
We can praise the Lord in good times, but we can also praise Him in bad times. Are you giving Him the praise that He deserves?
FROM THE HEART
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"Folks, it's all beginning to unravel. America is in more danger of falling than at any time in its history. But I believe Bible prophecy predicts this very decline. From this point on, we believers have to get serious. We are going to face discouragement, disillusionment and, most certainly, persecution in the time between now and the Rapture. But don't be discouraged or disillusioned. The coming turmoil will provide us unrivaled opportunities to share the good news of the Gospel. So be ready to share your faith and your hope with those who need Christ. We still have time to reap a great harvest of souls for God's kingdom!" - Hal Lindsey
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