Prophecy Update Newsletter
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
The Gates of Hell - Pete Garcia -
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12
The world we currently live in, with all of its modernity and science, treats the spiritual realm as mostly fantasy. Aside from fictional books, movies, and cable television shows about the paranormal, religion offers the only other serious discussions pertaining to the unseen realm. Even the non-religious are somewhat cautious in how they deal with the topic of religion since it can encompass many things to many people. While atheists and skeptics may openly mock Christianity, they tread lightly when addressing other religions such as Hinduism or Islam for fear of physical retaliation.
But while the Christian religion has fallen out of favor here in the West because of its "narrow-mindedness", spiritualism is on the increase. So if Christianity is not the faith filling the void in the lives of the many here in the West, something else will surely take its place. Thus, spiritualism serves that purpose of being a broad, all-inclusive, inoffensive faith system that makes people feel good about themselves, while not being dogmatic about it. Why something else has to fill the void left by Christianity is largely because it is in our DNA to worship (or be worshipped). Humans are hybrid beings, half-spiritual, and half-physical. King Solomon said something similar some 3000 years prior;
He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11
That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9
Spiritualism is not new. Setting aside thousands of years of paganism and the like, if we simply go back a little over a century, we can see this all play out as it is today. At the turn of the 19-20th century, the West enjoyed a resurgence of the esoteric (mystery) teachings found within spiritualism and mysticism. Spiritualism was the search into the afterlife through the use of sÃ©ances, mediums, Tarot cards, seers, etc.
Mysticism sought out secret (or forbidden) knowledge through the revival of the "ancient" arts belonging to the likes of the Vikings, the Greeks, the Babylonians, Assyrians, Egyptians, and so forth. Non-religious groups such as the Rosicrucians, the Illuminati, and the Free Masons had already successfully incorporated many of the teachings and rituals in their groups in Europe and later America for centuries. Their aim was to integrate secret "knowledge" into powerful groups of men who would theoretically use that to change the world.
The Victorian-era spiritualists and mystics on the other hand (both in the U.S. and Europe), became enthralled with the idea of discovering the supernatural. It was also very appealing in how one dealt with the spiritual realm and the afterlife. Although Christianity was the main "religion" for both sides of the Atlantic, mainline denominations had failed to offer the titillation that these secret groups promised. Thus, esoteric and/or mystery groups like the Theosophical Society who blended both spiritualism and the mysticism became the rage.
At the same time people were eagerly searching out spiritualism, mainline Christianity came under the assault by human secularism during the Age of Reason. Philosophical challenges and "scientific" discoveries from men like (but not limited too) Karl Marx and Charles Darwin, attempted to discredit Christianity as "unscientific" and archaic. It was at this point that the Christian denominational churches began to divorce themselves from their spiritual attributes in order to combat human secularism which was flooding the market place of ideas.
In this vacuum of spiritual identity, cult and occult groups who mixed eastern mysticism into Western ideology and theology filled the gap. They promised to offer the masses what Christianity could not, which was enlightenment, divine insight, and secret knowledge. Seemingly, all of these groups seemed rooted in Neoplatonism.
Since the days before Noah's Flood (the Antediluvian Period/Dispensation of Conscious) (Genesis 4-8), man has known and understood that physical world is not all there is. Adam and Eve as well as Cain and Abel, at the very least, had personal interactions with God both in and out of the Garden of Eden. The same was true for Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses. Their descendants also knew that there was a spiritual realm jam-packed with beings (both good and wicked) who interacted with the physical realm on a daily basis. But it was the Antediluvian period that much of what we understand today as mythology actually stems from. It was an age of gods, demigods, giants, beings from heaven, "ancient aliens," magic, etc.
It is believed by many (too include this author) that the reason for the Flood was that the fallen angels (the sons of God) intermingled with the daughters of men in an attempt to genetically corrupt man's bloodline to prevent Genesis 3:15 from becoming a reality. The end result produced a hybrid race of beings that were neither fully human nor fully angelic. According to the extra-biblical accounts of Enoch and Jasher, as well as the Jewish historian Josephus, these beings were gigantic, violent, and dominated mankind in cruelty.
Jesus stated (Luke 17:26-30) that the days of His return would be similar to that of the days of Noah and that of Lot. While is it unknown if physical beings like the Nephilim will actually physically return in the last days, we can reasonably assume that the demonic hosts (disembodied spirits of Noah's day Nephilim) will be able to fully possess human hosts.
We have seen in recent history that people (being half spirit) can open themselves up to demonic possession through a variety of manners such as religious rituals, drugs, music, and games. We assume that as technology such as virtual reality and transhumanism progresses (moving technology into the body), we will see this as another gateway demons use to inhabit human hosts. We can already see a foreshadowing of what this will look like with people using drugs (Pharmakeia/sorcery) like flakka and bath salts in the news. The fact that people are becoming spiritual without tapping into the one true source (Jesus Christ), they will in effect attract demonic activity like moths to a flame.
While we do not know to what extent the supernatural will cross over into the natural realm this side of the Rapture, we know that after the Rapture, the world of Daniel's 70th Week will be cast into a new, but brief age of supernaturalism.
The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12
Adding to that is the arrival of the Two Witnesses (presumably Moses and Elijah) who will be able to counteract the evil supernatural forces with supernatural powers of their own. It stands to reason that if God brings them back to Jerusalem for 3 Â½ years, it is necessary to neutralize the perception that only the Antichrist and the False Prophet have supernatural powers. Thus, we can assume that after the Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church, the world will once again enter a period of time when the supernatural becomes the new normal.
And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." Matthew 16:18-19
While it seems a little unusual to connect the above passage with that of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, I believe there is an important connection being taught here. Jesus stated that the 'gates of hades' (or hell) would not prevail against (or overpower) the Church. What I want to draw your attention to here is not to what is said, but to what is not said, principally that 'the gates of hell' would not prevail against the Church while it is on the earth. Obviously, the 'gates of hell' would not prevail against the Church in her glorified state in heaven at the side of Christ, so we must deduce that this only applies to the Church while she is on the earth before the Rapture takes place.
According to Scripture, the Holy Spirit seals the bodies of born-again believers who collectively make up "the Church" (2 Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13, 4:30). In this sealed-state, we are acting as the Restrainer (as described in 2 Thess. 2:7) to a world that is largely controlled by the enemy. We are salt and light (Matt. 5:13-14) in a world steeped in darkness. So what happens then when the restraint is removed?
All hell breaks loose on earth.
When I think of the gates of hell, I think of something akin to the 'enemy at the gates'; like barbarian hordes massing outside a city gate trying to break through. In this instance, the Church acts as the barrier preventing the world from completely being given over to the evil one. Not that the Church as individuals are perfect and sinless (we aren't), but it's that the power of Christ is in us (Colossians 1:27) and that is what prevents this from happening. Since Christ is the Word, and everything was created by Him, and through Him, everything is sustained, it is Christ who prevents this complete collapse of the world from happening. Which if it did, would automatically trigger global and catastrophic judgment (Col. 1:16).
Although the days seem to be getting darker, it is only an illusory shadow cast by the innumerable demonic hosts which enshroud the earth. Currently, there is a divine boundary between our realm and the spiritual separating the two, but it appears to be growing thinner by the day. This may be why we are seeing and hearing all the unexplainable phenomena that our generation is experiencing.
We know that Satan is the current power-broker here on earth (Luke 4:5-6) and that the whole world lies under the influence of Satan (1 John 5:19). Jesus referred to him as the "ruler of the world" (John 14:30). Paul called Satan the "prince of the power of the air" (Eph. 2:2) and the "god of this age" (2 Cor. 4:4). The Apostle Peter called him a "roaring lion" walking about seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet. 5:8). At present, Satan has at his disposal countless legion who do his bidding (a legion is roughly equal to 3,000 to 6,000 in number). If Satan could afford to put one legion in a possessed nobody at the Gadarenes (Mark 5:1-9), clearly, he can afford to put them anywhere he wants, anytime he wants...in spades.
The world after the Rapture will be one where the entire demonic host, along with the fallen angels will burst through the veil (the gates of hell) that separates the physical from the spiritual. It may be why we meet the Lord in the air (Satan's domain) as opposed to just being instantaneously transported to heaven. We assume Satan knows about the Rapture, although he may not believe it. This is why the doctrine of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture is taught throughout Scripture, but not as explicit (or overt) as we may wish. [Hence why we have all the varying views on the timing of the Rapture]
It sort of reminds me of a military maneuver. The Lord intends to signal His temporary withdrawal (of His body the Church) from the earth in such a manner like a military feint. It will appear that Jesus packed up all His people and went home and left the gate wide open in the process. But His departure is only temporary and it's only to accomplish His two purposes (Jer. 30:7-11). In the Church's absence, Satan and his demonic forces (both flesh and spirits) will seek to fill the vacuum with something ugly, apostate, and damning to the greatest extent they can in the time they have available. What better way than to people who are "spiritual."
According to Scripture, at the mid-point of the 70th Week, Satan and his fallen angels are physically confined to the earth (Rev. 12:7-12). At the end of the seven years, Christ and the armies of Heaven peel the sky back and return triumphantly to the earth, decimating Satan, the Antichrist, the False Prophet, and the satanic forces without even breaking a sweat (Rev. 19:11-21).
So while today it might appear that we are surrounded and outnumbered (much like Elisha was at Dothan), may we also have eyes to see beyond the physical to understand that those who are with us, are more than those who with them (2 Kings 6:16-17). Therefore...
...we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Cor. 4:16-18
Drumbeats of Ezekiel 38 - Israel Bombs Iranian Base In Syria - Britt Gillette -
Israel's air force has bombed a military target thought to be an Iranian military base outside Damascus, Syria December 2. The hit was reported by Arab media outlets. An arms depot was destroyed in the strike, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Iran is a staunch ally of embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and provided him with military and financial assistance during the long Syrian civil war.
Arabic media reported the target was an Iranian military base 9 miles south of Damascus and just 30 miles from the Israeli border that was revealed by the BBC three weeks ago. It is the first time reports have emerged of Iran establishing a permanent base in Syria.
"At half past midnight [2230 GMT Friday], the Israeli enemy fired several surface-to-surface missiles at a military position in Damascus province," Syria's state SANA news agency reported, according to The Times of Israel.
An account on the Telegram messaging app linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps reported that 12 Iranians were killed in the strike, according to Lebanon's Al-Mustaqbal TV and the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya network.
Israel repeatedly warned it will not allow Iran to develop a military presence in Syria. Iranian leaders have long threatened to "wipe Israel off the map." In June 2017, demonstrators set up a countdown clock to Israel's destruction in the center of the capital Tehran.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a stern warning in a video announcement on November 30, before the strike.
"Let me reiterate Israel's policy: We will not allow a regime hell-bent on the annihilation of the Jewish state to acquire nuclear weapons," Netanyahu said. "We will not allow that regime to entrench itself militarily in Syria, as it seeks to do, for the express purpose of eradicating our state."
Netanyahu is said to have conveyed a warning to Assad via a third party just days ago that Syria will be targeted if it allows Iran to develop a permanent military presence in Syria.
With all the events taking place in Syria right now, many people are asking, "What does the Bible have to say about Syria and the end times?
Chapter 17 in the Book of Isaiah paints a sobering picture. In it, the city of Damascus is a pile of rubble. The Bible says it will disappear from the face of the earth and become a heap of ruins (Isaiah 17:1).
At the same time, large parts of northern Israel will also lie in ruin (Isaiah 17:3). Now, before you say this prophecy was fulfilled during Old Testament times, keep this in mind... This passage says Damascus will cease to be a city (Isaiah 17:1).
It will be utterly and completely destroyed. Yet, Damascus is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities on record. Its history goes back more than 5,000 years. At 2,600 years old, the Book of Isaiah itself is new compared to Damascus! This prophecy is yet to be fulfilled.
Current events in Syria are also setting the stage for the Gog of Magog War. More than 2,600 years ago, the prophet Ezekiel warned of a future time when a vast coalition of nations will attack Israel.
Ezekiel identifies these nations as "Magog, Rosh, Meschech, Tubal, Persia, Cush, Put, Gomer, and Beth-togarmah" (Ezekiel 38:1-6). These nations have since come to be known as the Gog of Magog alliance.
Now, with the exception of Persia and Cush, I realize most people have never heard of these nations.
But keep in mind Ezekiel used the names of these nations as they were known in his day. Each one is a clearly identifiable nation today. So who are these nations in our day and time?
Below is a list. The Old Testament name is listed first, followed by its modern day equivalent:
Rosh = Russia
Magog = Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan
Persia = Iran
Cush = Sudan
Put = Libya
Meshech, Tubal, Gomer, and Beth-togarmah = Turkey
Collectively, these nations have never attacked Israel. In fact, in the history of the world, such an alliance of nations has never existed.
But today we see it coming together right in front of us. Since 1989, Russia and Iran have gradually strengthened their diplomatic, military, and economic ties.
Yet, in the first 2,600 years after Ezekiel recorded his prophecies, the nations of Russia and Persia (Iran) had never been part of any alliance of any sort. Never. Cooperation between Russia and Iran, especially military cooperation, didn't take place.
This led many people to claim Ezekiel's prophecy was symbolic. Why? Because the idea of the Gog of Magog war seemed absurd. After all, at the dawn of the 20th Century, Russia was an orthodox Christian nation and Israel didn't exist!
But those who believed in a literal interpretation of the Bible knew otherwise. They knew all prophecy would come to pass. Because bible prophecy doesn't come from mere humans. It's God's Word (2 Peter 1:19-21).
In the years since, the stage has been set for the literal fulfillment of Ezekiel 38-39. A 1917 communist revolution transformed Russia from a Christian nation to an atheist nation.
In 1948, Israel once again became a nation. And earlier this year, Russia and Iran issued a joint statement vowing to respond with force to any aggressor.
And Turkey? For decades, people have wondered how Turkey could be a part of this alliance. After all, Turkey is a member of NATO.
And in late 2015, Turkey shot down a Russian jet when it strayed into Turkish airspace. Russia and Turkey seem to be at odds.
So how could Turkey be a part of this alliance? At first glance, it seems unlikely. But in the summer of 2016, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan jailed thousands of political opponents. And now has Turkey voted to eliminate its parliamentary form of government and give expanded powers to Erdogan.
Ultimately, this could be what pushes Turkey into the Russian sphere of influence. Erdogan is an anti-Western, pro-Islamist leader, and he's worked hard to strengthen Turkey's ties with Russia.
In light of these developments, we can see the Gog of Magog alliance coming together for the first time in history.
For the first time since Israel re-emerged on the world scene in May 1948, the main players of the Ezekiel 38-39 alliance are all working together. Even more important, they all have military personnel on Israel's northern border. The stage is set for the fulfillment of Ezekiel 38-39.
New US military moves in the Mid-East & Israel's Syria air raid were coordinated -
The US hands-off to Iran's top general in Iraq, Ali Abdullah Saleh's changeover of sides in the Yemen war and Trump's' thinking on Jerusalem - all signal a new, proactive US strategy for the region.
Central Intelligence Agency chief Mike Pompeo was uncharacteristically frank when he addressed high-ranking US military and security officials on Saturday, Dec. 2, at the Reagan Presidential Foundation. He revealed that he had sent a note to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Al Qods chief, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, and explained: "I sent it because he had indicated that forces under his control might in fact threaten US interests in Iraq."
Soleimani replied that he had refused to open the letter, commenting: "It didn't break my heart to be honest with you." Pompeo went on to elaborate: "What we were communicating to him in that letter was that we will hold him and Iran accountable... and we wanted to make sure that he and the leadership of Iran understood that in a way that was crystal clear."
Since words clearly don't mean much without deeds, the United States, after being frozen in place for months in the Middle East, suddenly sprang into action in the past 48 hours, along with its senior Middle East allies, Israel and Saudi Arabia, on four fronts: Iraq, Syria, Yemen and the Palestinians.
IRAQ: Large-scale US forces arrived at the Kaywan base-K1 west of the oil city of Kirkuk and then split into two contingents: several hundred troops stayed on base while the second contingent headed east on Friday, Dec. 1 towards Tuz Khumatu in eastern Iraq (See attached map) and took control of the Siddiq military airport 35km to the west. Tuz Khumatu lies 100km west of the Iraqi-Iranian border and 163km north of Baghdad. DEBKAfile's military sources report that American troops have never been deployed so close to the Iranian border since the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. This movement was meant to strongly advise Iraqi Prime Minister Haydar al-Abadi to stop playing ball with Iran to the extent that he did in mid-October, when he allowed pro-Iranian forces to grab Kirkurk and its oilfields from the Kurds. Washington was chiefly drawing a large X on Soleimani's plan for bringing Northern Iraq's oil under Iranian control.
SYRIA: Early Saturday, Dec. 2, Israeli warplanes dropped missiles on a secret meeting of pro-Iranian Shiite militia chiefs taking place at the Syrian army's 91st Brigade HQ, outside al-Kiswah - 14km southwest of Damascus and 50km from the Golan. These militias, which have been fighting for Bashar Assad under Gen. Soleimani's command, were being briefed by Iranian and Hezbollah officers on their next offensive. This was Israel's first attack on any of his forces.
YEMEN: On Saturday, Ali Abdullah Saleh, former president of Yemen, the mainstay of the Iranian-backed Houthi insurgency, announced he was "turning the page." He was ready to ditch the Houthis and their backer, Iran - provided that the coalition (Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) lifted the blockade they had imposed on Yemen to cut off incoming Iranian weapons and halted its attacks. Saleh's announcement sparked violent clashes between his followers and the Houthis.
DEBKAfile's military sources recall that Yemen's ex-president had long maintained ties with the CIA. His change of sides was timed to coincide with a fresh US-Saudi intelligence push to restore Saleh to the pro-Western Arab camp and topple pro-Iranian positions in Yemen and the Arabian Peninsula.
ISRAEL AND THE PALESTINIANS: The Trump administration is fed up with dodgy Palestinian tactics on peace negotiations. Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi and Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin-Salman are likewise ready to wash their hands of the Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). US officials tried threatening to shut down the PLO office in Washington unless the Palestinians finally came to the table for peace talks and are now holding over Palestinian heads a possible decision - either to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem or recognize the city as Israel's capital.
To ward off these actions, all Abu Mazen needs to do is to pick up the phone to the White House, the royal palace in Riyadh and the presidential residence in Cairo and declare his willingness to cooperate with their initiatives to restart the peace process. But so far, Abbas is holding out, resorting instead to his outdated tactics: threatening that the entire Middle East will go up in flames and Palestinian terrorism will again raise its head if the Trump administration goes through with new decisions on Jerusalem.
By mid-week, the Trump administration should have reached a decision that indicates whether or not it has caved in under Palestinian threats. The next few days will also show whether the new US Middle East momentum is a flash in the pan or a fresh start to be continued.
Not Listening - By Daymond Duck -
In speeches, interviews, phone calls, conversation, and action the Israelis are sending a very clear message to world leaders that Israel will not allow Iran or the Iranian proxy Hezbollah to build up their forces on Israel's borders with Lebanon and Syria.
World leaders would be wise to pay heed to what Israel is saying, but for the most part they are refusing to listen.
For example, in Aug. 2017, Israel's Prime Min. Benjamin Netanyahu met with Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin in Moscow. Mr. Netanyahu told Mr. Putin that Israel will bomb Syrian Pres. Bashar Assad's palace in Damascus, if Iran continues to extend its reach in Syria. In language that is easy for anyone to understand Mr. Netanyahu said Israel's concerns must be met or Israel will be forced to act.
About that same time, Mr. Netanyahu told UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that Iran is turning Syria into a military base that can be used to carry out its threats to destroy Israel. Mr. Netanyahu said, "This is something Israel cannot accept. This is something the UN should not accept."
About two months later, in October 2017, Prime Min. Netanyahu met with Russia's Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu, in Jerusalem. They discussed Iran's attempt to turn Syria into an Iranian military base. Mr. Netanyahu told Mr. Shoigu, "Iran needs to understand that Israel will not allow this."
Israel's Defense Minister, Avigdor Liberman, met with Mr. Shoigu and said, "We simply will not allow Shiite and Iranian entrenchment in Syria. And we will not allow all of Syria to become a forward operating base against the State of Israel. Whoever doesn't understand that should understand that."
In October and November 2017, Israel sent a message with several air strikes on Iranian and Hezbollah weapons convoys and bases in Syria.
During that same period of time, on at least two different occasions, Israeli tanks fired warning shots at illegal fortifications in the demilitarized zone on the Golan Heights on the Syrian side of Israel's border.
In a Nov. 19, 2017 telephone call between French Pres. Emmanuel Macron and Israeli Prime Min. Netanyahu the Israeli Prime Min. told Mr. Macron "from now on, Israel sees Iran's activities in Syria as a target. We will not hesitate to act, if our security needs require us to do so."
In a Nov. 21, 2017 telephone call between Russian Pres. Putin and Israeli Prime Min. Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Min. reminded Mr. Putin of Israel's demand that Iran and Hezbollah stay out of the demilitarized zone on the Golan Heights on the Syrian side of Israel's border.
In a Nov. 23, 2017 TV Interview, Mohammad Ali Jafari, the head of Iran's Revolutionary Guard said, "Hezbollah must be armed to fight against the enemy of the Lebanese nation which is Israel. Naturally they should have the best weapons to protect Lebanon's security. This issue is non-negotiable,"
And just recently, on Nov. 26, 2017, it was reported that Israeli Prime Min. Netanyahu sent Syrian Pres. Bashar Assad a message through Russia that Israel will attack military targets in Syria if he lets Iran set up bases there.
This is the bottom line: The Syrian civil war has drastically changed the Middle East. Iran now has more than a dozen facilities and tens of thousands of troops in Syria. Iran controls Hezbollah. Hezbollah controls Lebanon.
Israel is telling the world. The world could be on the brink of a world-changing war and time is running out, but the world is not listening.
Every jot and tittle of the Word of God must be fulfilled.
Prophecy Plus Ministries, Inc.
Daymond & Rachel Duck
Watchman Warning - North Korea: A Reckoning - By Hal Lindsey - https://www.hallindsey.com/ww-12-1-2017/
World leaders have known for a generation that a day of reckoning with North Korea would one day come. There were no easy solutions, so they did as little as they could, hoping the situation would resolve itself. But it did not.
While leaders, especially in America, kicked the can down the road, the North Koreans did what they said they would do. They said they would develop nuclear weapons, and they did. They said they would create missile systems capable of wreaking havoc on their neighbors in their region. They did it. They promised H-bombs, and they developed H-bombs. They said they would create intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). They have them.
Finally, they said they would make bigger ICBMS, capable of striking anywhere in the world. And today, they have that, too.
The people who allowed this disaster - the "can-kickers" - now go on television as pundits. They criticize any approach to North Korea that differs from their own when they were in power. But here's the problem with that. What they did, didn't work!
President Clinton tried appeasing the North Koreans. He gave them fuel and food. The New York Times wrote about the North's interaction with the Clinton Administration. "The lesson was an important one for North Korea. By provoking the West, the government had profited: It received several years of free oil and kept its nuclear power plant intact. The United States spent millions in aid and only briefly delayed the North's weapons program."
But that wasn't the worst of it. With the help of former President Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton gave them more nuclear technology in exchange for the promise that they would only use it for peaceful purposes. They accepted the technology, then restarted their weapons program.
George W. Bush was criticized for proclaiming North Korea part of an "axis of evil" along with Iran and Iraq. But history proves him right. He addressed the North Korean part of the "axis" by initiating the so-called "six-party talks." The U.S., along with South Korea, China, Japan, and Russia negotiated with North Korea. Responding to harsh sanctions, the North Koreans agreed to shut down their nuclear operation in exchange for aid. They pulled out of the agreement shortly after Bush left office.
As a candidate, Barack Obama criticized Bush for isolating North Korea. He came into office promising engagement with the regime. Again, the New York Times had an interesting assessment. "Rather than negotiate, Mr. Obama imposed a policy of 'strategic patience,' hoping that through sanctions and espionage, the United States could wait out the isolated state. Mr. Obama hoped that the North would eventually feel it had reason to negotiate and make a good-faith effort at talks. Instead the North pursued its weapons program and launched a series of cyberattacks on American businesses."
"Strategic patience" is another way of saying, "kick the can down the road."
Doing nothing didn't work. The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency estimates that by August of 2016, Kim Jong-un controlled an arsenal of up to 60 nuclear warheads. Since then, they have added hydrogen bombs to the stockpile. While the experts were saying they were years away from developing ICBMs that could hit the U.S. mainland, they proved this year that they have at least two kinds of missiles with that capability.
In the last few days, they showed the incredible power of their newest missile. U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis said this missile can hit "everywhere in the world."
Today, North Korea is hundreds of times more dangerous than it was just five years ago. When he decides to negotiate, Kim can enter talks from a position of strength. He has dealt himself into the game, and he has given himself decent cards. He can bluff with a real threat behind his words. He can blackmail the world.
Most people feel okay about a conflict with North Korea because they're convinced that Kim wants to live, and he's not stupid. He knows a nuclear attack against the U.S. would be suicide. So, we're safe. Right? He'll bluff, but that's all. Maybe, but not necessarily.
In August of 2016, a North Korean diplomat, Thae Yong-ho, defected. The BBC asked Thae if Kim Jong-un might attack the U.S. "Would he even destroy a city like Los Angeles," the interviewer asked, "though the retaliation would surely kill him?"
"Yes," Thae answered, "because he knows that if he loses the power then it is his last day, so he may do anything, even to attack Los Angeles, because once people know that in any way you will be killed, then you will do anything."
Even a former insider like Thae can only guess at what Kim might do. But his reasoning is sound.
As the Bible prophesied, we live in perilous times. But God remains sovereign. And His promises remain true. If you haven't turned to Jesus with all your heart, I urge you to do so now.
Daily Jot: Of Caesar and Tax Reform - Bill Wilson -
Both the House and the Senate have passed tax reform bills. The Senate finally got its act together and did something, albeit by a slim 51-49 party-line vote with one Republican defecting. It would appear on the surface that these bills are good for America, but that depends on your political leanings. If you are socialist-minded, you may be well disappointed in this legislation. If you believe tax cuts stimulate the economy, create jobs, and allow people to make their own decisions about their hard-earned money, you may be mildly optimistic. It is not perfect legislation. There are people on both sides of the political spectrum who will be highly critical. Next step, reconciliation between the House and the Senate.
The House legislation reduces the number of tax brackets from seven to four-12% for $45,000 and under; 25% for $45-200,000; 35% for $200-500,00 and 39.6% for over $500,000 in income. Married people get a little better break by paying 12% for up to $90,000 in income. The standard deduction increases from $6,350 to $12,000 for singles and from $12,700 to $24,000 for married taxpayers. The personal exemption is eliminated. Mortgage interest is only deductible on $500,000 and existing loans are grandfathered under the old rules. Real estate taxes are allowable deductions up to $10,000. The estate tax exemption is essentially doubled, and eliminated entirely after 2023. The corporate tax rate is reduced from 35% to 20%.
The Senate bill keeps the tax brackets at seven, ranging from 10% to 38.5%. Married people making between $77,400-140,000 will pay 22%. The standard deduction is the same as in the House bill. The Senate bill also eliminates the personal exemption. The House and Senate bills both eliminate state and local income tax deductions and allow real estate deductions up to $10,000. The Senate bill allows a $2,000 per child tax credit where the House bill allows $1,600. It keeps the mortgage interest rate deduction as is. Estate taxes remain the same. The corporate tax rate is the same as the House bill. The big difference between the House and Senate bills is that the Senate repealed the individual mandate of socialist healthcare which forced people to buy health insurance or pay a tax penalty.
The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the tax on those who refused to participate in socialist healthcare cost nearly $33 BILLION a year. In short, those who refused to participate in socialist healthcare imploded the system at a tremendous cost to the government. I remember those who justified paying into forced government healthcare quoting Jesus in Mark 12:17, "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's." In America, there is no Caesar. No dictator. We have a say. Sometimes it takes endurance, but hats off to those who remained steadfast to their Christian principles and didn't participate in this socialist mandate. We at least won a victory in the Senate. Maybe more.
Daily Devotion: It Began with a Tree - By Greg Laurie -
And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. -Genesis 2:9
The Christmas story begins with a tree, but not the kind of Christmas tree with brightly colored lights or ornaments. The Christmas story begins with a tree called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, in the Garden of Eden.
God had given Adam and Eve only one restriction in that literal paradise: stay away from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But before long, that's just where we find them. Of course, we know the rest of the story. They listened to the serpent and ate the forbidden fruit. And once that happened, they lost their sweet fellowship with God.
A few verses later, we come to the first Christmas verse in the Bible, where God said to the serpent, "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel."
Here the battle lines were drawn. The devil knew this Messiah would come-and that He would come from the Jewish people. So he tried to stop that from taking place.
Really, as we look at the Christmas story, we realize that it doesn't begin in Matthew or Luke. It begins in the Old Testament. Before there was a world, before there were planets, before there was light and darkness, before there was matter, before there was anything but the Godhead, there was Jesus-coequal, coeternal, and coexistent with the Father and Holy Spirit. He was with God. He was God.
Jesus Christ became human without ceasing to be God. He did not become identical to us, but He became identified with us. The real message of Christmas is that God came to this earth. The real message of Christmas is Immanuel, God is with us.
FROM THE HEART
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