TIME magazine chose as their person of the year 2011, ‘the Protester.’ Armed with twitter and facebook accounts, youthful freedom-loving Arabs protested. They played a key role in a series of uprisings that rippled across the Middle East but TIME’s optimistic interpretation of unfolding events gives little attention to another group of protesters, the Islamists. To say that this faction doesn’t have a reputation for upholding freedom would be an understatement. Nor has there been strict secrecy about how this group has capitalized on the opportunity to bring their agenda to the table. In fact, Islamists in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia have gained the upper hand on mechanisms that will determine the shape of the future. TIME seems to have the attitude, ‘Let’s hope things turn out for the better,’ but is this realistic? Perhaps we ought to glean insights from the Scripture which says God ‘will shake the nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations.’ (Haggai 2:7, NKJV)
Considering the events of 2011, it seems appropriate to speak of nations being shaken! As for the second part of the prophecy, Bible students have come to understand, ‘the Desire of All Nations,’ as a foreshadowing of the long-awaited Messianic King who will rule the world in righteousness and peace. Ironically, Islamists also expect Isa/Jesus to return to earth and establish a worldwide peaceful kingdom during the last days! The thrust of this article will be to examine this prophecy in more detail, but first let us consider a foundational question which provides helpful background.
What moves sinners to come to God?
Most Christians would highlight how sinners are drawn by God’s love. This is evident in the following Scripture quotes, ‘love is the greatest’ … ‘We love because he first loved us’ and, ‘There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’ (1 Corinthians 13:13; 1 John 4:19; John 15:13; cf. 3:16) Muslims, on the other hand, are inclined to emphasize the fear of judgement as a motivation for turning to God.
Unfortunately there are many so-called Christians who diminish the significance of judgement. According to the Bible it is clear that love is not the only factor that draws people to God; sinners also turn to the Lord because of judgement. Look for example at Isaiah 26:8-9 where the prophet says, ‘our heart’s desire is to glorify your name. All night long I search for you. In the morning I earnestly seek for God. For only when you come to judge the earth will people learn what is right.’ The mention of judgement brings to mind God’s message to another prophet. The LORD warned Habakkuk that he was sending the ruthless Babylonians against the people of Israel in order to ‘punish’ and ‘correct’ them. (Habakkuk 1:12; 3:18) Similarly, we read Hosea’s warning against Israel and how judgement would result in the Israelites seeking the LORD and returning to him. (Hosea 5:15; 6:1-3; 3:4; 11:11; 14:1-9) Indeed, this pattern pervades Scripture. We see countless examples of God’s discipline (and judgement) causing wayward people to turn back to the LORD. We also see this in the personal testimony of the psalmist, ‘I used to wander off until you disciplined me; but now I closely follow your word.’ (Psalm 119:67; cf. Psalm 78:34-35)
Psalm 83 shows how this pattern worked out, not in relation to Israel, but in relation to surrounding nations; the Ishmaelites, Moabites, Hagrites, Amalekites and people of Tyre. All these nations hated the people of Israel. In fact, the psalmist explains that they formed an alliance so as to ‘destroy Israel as a nation.’ (v. 5) So the psalmist petitions the LORD to vindicate himself in judgement against these nations. He also prays, ‘Cover their faces with shame so that men will seek your name, O LORD… Let them know that … you alone are the Most High over all the earth.’ (Psalm 83:16,18, bold added for emphasis. Later, we will explore these twin bold themes in more detail.)
This Psalm was written more than 25 centuries ago but the current political landscape is not really different. Today’s descendants of these ancient enemies of Israel (as listed in Psalm 83)1 still hate the Israelites and plot to ‘destroy Israel as a nation.’ Is this just a coincidence? Interestingly, the religious beliefs of this modern-day alliance are clearly rooted in the Qur’an. Authoritative Muslim writings condemn the Jewish people and Read more…
By Jack Smith
We are all aware of the recent “lowering of the flag” by the United States military, symbolically ending almost nine years of conflict in Iraq. Not surprisingly, almost before American troops had landed on United States’ soil, sectarian violence erupted in Baghdad, resulting in 72 deaths. The two predominant sects of Islam, the Sunnis (approximately 85%-90% of the world’s Muslims) and the Shi’ites (approximately 10%-15% of the world’s Muslims), populate Iraq, along with the Kurds. In Iraq, however, Shi’ites, are the majority sect (60%) and Sunnis are the minority sect (40%); but it’s not like the two sects populate Iraq living side-by-side much like Baptists and Methodists do in the Bible belt. The Sunnis populate most of Baghdad and northern Iraq, while the Shi’ites populate the eastern and southern Iraq (Kurds, the extreme north of Iraq, both Sunni and Shi’ite) (see map). Under Saddam Hussein’s leadership, Sunnis controlled the country and Shi’ites were severely persecuted. With the invasion of Iraq by the United States and other coalition forces, the Shi’ites replaced the Sunnis in leadership (Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is Shi’ite), and a fragile “democracy” was attempted in Iraq shared by Shi’ites and Sunnis (and Kurds). With the exit of the United States military, the security vacuum in Iraq has occurred and violence has returned; and, the pre-existing divide within Islam so severe that the nine years of “relative” peace might more accurately be viewed as nothing more than Muslim sects “holding their breath,” while coalition forces were on Iraqi soil. The question this post addresses is this: Does the sectarian violence in Iraq (and Islam) find its fulfillment in the Bible’s prophecies of the last days?
Daniel 2 is one of the most important chapters in Bible prophecy. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (Babylon was the ancient capital city of Iraq) has a dream (Daniel 2:31f). A giant statue appears in the dream composed of a head of gold, chest and arms of silver, belly and thighs of bronze, legs of iron, and feet, partly of iron and partly of clay. The prophet Daniel saves the day and interprets the King’s dream. Each part of the statue represents a country that will have dominion over the prior kingdoms (the head of gold representing Babylon, the silver chest representing Media-Persia (defeated Babylon in 539 B.C.), the belly and thighs representing Greece (defeated Media-Persia in 331 B.C.), and the legs of iron representing Rome (defeated Greece in 146 B.C.). The last kingdom is represented by the feet, composed partly of iron and partly of clay; and, it is the identity of this kingdom that prophecy experts have divided on Read more…
‘A New Evil is Sweeping the Middle East: Religious Cleansing’, Anti-Christian Violence Throughout Middle-East Concerns London
John 15:18-21, “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you… If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you… But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me.”
An opinion article published last week in The Daily Telegraph newspaper accused the British Foreign Office of viewing the plight of the Christian community in the Middle East as being ‘unworthy of diplomatic attention.’ British Foreign Secretary William Hague, the article added was seen as ‘unenthusiastic’ about the issue.
The Foreign Office, in a statement issued by British Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt, said attacks on Christians in the Middle East were ‘deeply worrying.’
The Telegraph article paid special attention to violence targeting Iraqi Christians, one of the oldest Christian communities. The Christian population there is down substantially as its members flee violence targeting their minority religious community.” Read more.
How can we remain silent while Christians are being persecuted? – “Father Immanuel Dabaghian, one of Baghdad’s last surviving priests, is expecting a quiet Christmas. To join him in the Church of the Virgin Mary means two hours of security checks and a body search at the door, and even then there’s no guarantee of survival. Islamist gunmen massacred 58 people in a nearby church last year, and fresh graffiti warns remaining worshippers that they could be next. The Americans have gone now, and Iraq’s Christian communities – some of the world’s oldest – are undergoing an exodus on a biblical scale. Of the country’s 1.4 million Christians, about two thirds have now fled. Although the British Government is reluctant to recognise it, a new evil is sweeping the Middle East: religious cleansing.” Read more.
Genocide Warning – Urge America to Defend Mideast Christians – “‘We cannot accept and thereby facilitate what looks more and more like a particularly perverse program of religious cleansing in the Middle East.’ – French President Nicholas Sarkozy. ‘Massacres are taking place for no reason and without any justification against Christians. It is only because they are Christians. What is happening to Christians is a genocide.’ – Former Lebanese President Amine Gemayal… What is the President of the United States doing to prevent the eradication of Christian communities and other religious minorities in the Islamic Middle East?” Read more.
Eight months after Japan’s Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s six reactor Daichi Fuskuhima complex was rocked by an earthquake measuring 9.0 on the Richter scale and subsequent tsunami, both Tokyo and TEPCO maintain that the effects of the disaster have been contained.
Not so, according to a just published peer reviewed medical paper appearing in the U.S., which indicates that Fukushima’s pernicious consequences have traveled across the Pacific.
The figures come from a recently published article in the December 2011 edition of the International Journal of Health Services, a peer reviewed scientific journal, authored by Joseph J. Mangano and Janette D. Sherman, ‘An Unexpected Mortality Increase in the United States Follows Arrival of the Radioactive Plume from Fukushima: is There a Correlation?’
The study is the first peer-reviewed study published in a medical journal documenting the health hazards of the Fukushima disaster.
In earlier research published five months ago on counterpunch.org the authors noted, ‘The recent CDC (Center for Disease Control) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report indicates that eight cities in the northwest U.S. (Boise ID, Seattle WA, Portland OR, plus the northern California cities of Santa Cruz, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose, and Berkeley) reported the following data on deaths among those younger than one year of age: 4 weeks ending March 19, 2011 – 37 deaths (avg. 9.25 per week) 10 weeks ending May 28, 2011 – 125 deaths (avg.12.50 per week.)This amounts to an increase of 35% (the total for the entire U.S. rose about 2.3%), and is statistically significant. Of further significance is that those dates include the four weeks before and the ten weeks after the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant disaster.’
According to the researchers’ data, on 17 March after Fukushima was impacted, scientists detected the plume of toxic fallout had arrived over U.S. territory and subsequent measurements by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found levels of radiation in air, water, and milk hundreds of times above normal across the U.S.
Janette Sherman, MD, said: ‘Based on our continuing research, the actual death count here may be as high as 18,000, with influenza and pneumonia, which were up five-fold in the period in question as a cause of death. Deaths are seen across all ages, but we continue to find that infants are hardest hit because their tissues are rapidly multiplying, they have undeveloped immune systems, and the doses of radioisotopes are proportionally greater than for adults.’ Dr. Sherman is an adjunct professor, Western Michigan University and Joseph Mangano is an epidemiologist, and Executive Director of the Radiation and Public Health Project research group.” Read more.
Flashback: US: Doctors Say 35% Spike in Infant Mortality in Northwest Cities Since Meltdown May Be the Result of Fukushima Fallout – “As I’ve previously noted, infants are much more vulnerable to radiation than adults. And see this. However, radiation safety standards are set based on the assumption that everyone exposed is a healthy man in his 20s. Now, a physician (Janette D. Sherman, M. D.) and epidemiologist (Joseph Mangano) have penned a short but horrifying essay asking whether a spike in infant deaths in the Northwest are due to Fukushima” Read more.
Nigeria: Christmas Day Church Bombing Kills 39+, Christians Fear Islamist Radicals Will Start Religious War
By Jon GamBrell – LAGOS, Nigeria— The Associated Press – “An explosion ripped through a Catholic church during Christmas Mass near Nigeria’s capital Sunday, killing at least 39 people, officials said. A radical Muslim sect waging an increasingly sophisticated sectarian fight claimed the attack and another bombing in the restive city of Jos, as explosions also struck the nation’s northeast.
The Christmas Day attacks show the growing national ambition of the sect known as Boko Haram, which is responsible for at least 495 killings this year alone, according to an Associated Press count. The assaults come a year after a series of Christmas Eve bombings in Jos claimed by the militants left at least 32 dead and 74 wounded.
The first explosion on Sunday struck St. Theresa Catholic Church in Madalla, a town in Niger state close to the capital, Abuja, authorities said. Rescue workers recovered at least 25 bodies from the church and officials continued to tally those wounded in various hospitals, said Slaku Luguard, a co-ordinator with Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency.” Read more.
Nigerian Christians fear Islamic radicals will start religious war – “Northern Nigerian Christians said on Tuesday they feared that a spate of Christmas Day bombings by Islamist militants that killed over two dozen people could lead to a religious war in Africa’s most populous country. The warning was made in a statement by the northern branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), an umbrella organization comprising various denominations including Catholics, Protestant and Pentecostal churches… The Boko Haram Islamist sect, which aims to impose sharia Islamic law across Nigeria, claimed responsibility for the blasts, the second Christmas in a row it has caused carnage at Christian churches. Saidu Dogo, secretary general for the CAN in Nigeria’s 19 northern provinces called on Muslim leaders to control their faithful, saying Christians will be forced to defend themselves against further attacks.” Read more.
Here’s an update on this story …
Scores of ring seals have washed up on Alaska’s Arctic coastline since July, suffering or killed by a mysterious disease marked by bleeding lesions on the hind flippers, irritated skin around the nose and eyes and patchy hair loss on the animals’ fur coats.
Biologists at first thought the seals were suffering from a virus, but they have so far been unable to identify one, and tests are now underway to find out if radiation is a factor.
‘We recently received samples of seal tissue from diseased animals captured near St. Lawrence Island with a request to examine the material for radioactivity,’ said John Kelley, Professor Emeritus at the Institute of Marine Science at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
‘There is concern expressed by some members of the local communities that there may be some relationship to the Fukushima nuclear reactor’s damage,’ he said.
The results of the tests would not be available for ‘several weeks,’ Kelley said.” Read more.
Alaska: Deaths of Ringed Seals Declared an ‘Unusual Mortality Event’, Cause Remains Unknown – “The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration today declared the recent deaths of ringed seals in the Arctic and Bering Strait regions of Alaska an unusual mortality event, triggering a focused, expert investigation into the cause of these deaths. Since mid-July, more than 60 dead and 75 diseased seals, most of them ringed seals, have been reported in Alaska, with reports continuing to come in. During their fall survey, scientists with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also identified diseased and dead walruses at the annual mass haul-out at Point Lay. A decision by the Service on making an an unusual mortality declaration for Pacific walrus in Alaska is pending.” Read more.
When the American Defense Secretary is unable to discern fact from fiction and is more worried about the economy than a suicidal death cult willing to plunge the world into a nuclear Armageddon with the attempted destruction of Israel and America, is it any wonder then that Israel may be making plans for a possible unilateral strike against Iran? …
By Eli Lake – “When Defense Secretary Leon Panetta opined earlier this month that an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities could ‘consume the Middle East in a confrontation and a conflict that we would regret,’ the Israelis went ballistic behind the scenes. Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to Washington, lodged a formal diplomatic protest known as a demarche. And the White House was thrust into action, reassuring the Israelis that the administration had its own ‘red lines’ that would trigger military action against Iran, and that there is no need for Jerusalem to act unilaterally.
Panetta’s seemingly innocent remarks on Dec. 2 triggered the latest drama in the tinder-box relationship that the Obama administration is trying to navigate with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. With Republicans lining up to court Jewish donors and voters in America in 2012, Obama faces a tricky election-year task of ensuring Iran doesn’t acquire a nuclear bomb on his watch while keeping the Israelis from launching a preemptive strike that could inflame an already teetering Middle East.
The stakes are immensely high, and the distrust that Israelis feel toward the president remains a complicating factor. Those sentiments were laid bare in a speech Netanyahu’s minister of strategic affairs, Moshe Ya’alon, gave on Christmas Eve in Jerusalem, in which he used Panetta’s remarks to cast doubt on the U.S.’s willingness to launch its own military strike.
Ya’alon told the Anglo-Likud, an organization within Netanyahu’s Likud party that caters to native English speakers, that the Western strategy to stop Iran’s drive for nuclear weapons must include four elements, with the last resort being a military strike.
‘The fourth element of this combined strategy is the credible military strike,’ Ya’alon said, according to a recording of the speech provided to The Daily Beast. ‘There is no credible military action when we hear leaders from the West, saying, ‘this is not a real option,’ saying, ‘the price of military action is too high.’'” Read more.
Iran Claims It Chased Away Western Helicopter – “Iran says it chased away a Western helicopter that approached its navy war games area and did not leave until three warnings were issued. The United States, Britain and France are the only non-regional powers with troops in the region. None of the countries has commented on the Iranian claim, published in its semi-official media… ‘Yesterday, a chopper which belonged to the trans-regional countries tried to approach the region of Velayat 90 exercises, but it left the area when it received a serious warning after it ignored two other warning signals of our units,’ Lieutenant Commander of the Iranian Navy Admiral Seyed Mahmoud Moussavi said.” Read more.
Iran threatens to cut off oil exports if sanctions imposed over nuclear activity – “TEHRAN — Iran threatened on Tuesday to stop the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz if foreign sanctions were imposed on its crude exports over its nuclear ambitions, a move that could trigger military conflict with economies dependent on Gulf oil… Iran’s warning on Tuesday came three weeks after EU foreign ministers decided to tighten sanctions over the UN watchdog report and laid out plans for a possible embargo of oil from the world’s No. 5 crude exporter. ‘If they [the West] impose sanctions on Iran’s oil exports, then even one drop of oil cannot flow from the Strait of Hormuz,’ the official Iranian news agency IRNA quoted Iran’s First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi as saying.” Read more.