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Skillet rocker: Stop elevating Christian influencers, learning theology from praise songs

By Jeannie Law, Christian Post Reporter | Thursday, August 15, 2019

John Cooper, lead singer of the Christian rock band Skillet, is speaking out and expressing dismay over popular Christian leaders publicly renouncing their faith. 

“Ok I’m saying it. Because it’s too important not to. What is happening in Christianity? More and more of our outspoken leaders or influencers who were once ‘faces’ of the faith are falling away. And at the same time, they are being very vocal and bold about it. Shockingly they still want to influence others (for what purpose?)as they announce that they are leaving the faith,” Cooper wrote in a Facebook post this week.

“I am stunned that the seemingly most important thing for these leaders who have lost their faith is to make such a bold new stance. Basically saying, ‘I’ve been living and preaching boldly something for 20 years and led generations of people with my teachings and now I no longer believe it..therefore I’m going to boldly and loudly tell people it was all wrong while I boldly and loudly lead people in to my next truth.’ I’m perplexed why they aren’t embarrassed? Humbled? Ashamed, fearful, confused? Why be so eager to continue leading people when you clearly don’t know where you are headed?”

Over the last few weeks, former pastor and best-selling author Joshua Harris announced on social media that he no longer considers himself a Christian, and prolific worship music writer Marty Sampson, known for his extensive work with Hillsong Church, said he was “genuinely losing” his faith.

Cooper made it clear that it’s not his “place” to judge unbelievers but as a follower of Christ, he deemed it necessary to address those within his faith, saying that there must be a measure of “loyalty and friendship and accountability to each other and the Word of God” as Christians.

While not naming names, Cooper warned all Christians to “STOP making worship leaders and thought leaders or influencers or cool people or ‘relevant’ people the most influential people in Christendom.” He included himself in the list of people often put up on a pedestal. 

“We are in a dangerous place when the church is looking to 20 year old worship singers as our source of truth. We now have a church culture that learns who God is from singing modern praise songs rather than from the teachings of the Word.”

When it comes to writing songs for Skillet, Cooper — whose band just released a new album, Victorious — told The Christian Post that he has “very close relationships” with his church and that he takes their input seriously.

“We are looked at as a ministry of our church. So they’re very behind us,” Cooper told CP. “It’s not true that I write a song and I give it to them for an OK before I release it but it is the case that sometimes I write something and I say, ‘I don’t know if that’s exactly right and I will look for their input.’

New SAT-7 documentary Sequel of Hope broadcasts Myriam and her family’s message of hope after returning to their hometown of Qaraqosh, Iraq.

“It also is the case if they ever had a problem with something I had written, we’re such good friends and I respect them so much that they would tell me and I would take that very seriously.”

His reason for doing so is because of how unsound some Christain music has become in the church, he explained.

“A lot of Christian people right now, artists are releasing stuff that when I read the lyrics, I’m like, ‘I’m amazed that people have a problem with Skillet lyrics’ when some of the songs that we sing in church today I don’t think are actually accurate,” he stated. “Not to be overly harsh but I am 100% sure that God’s love is absolutely not reckless in any sort of way. I can’t believe we sing it in church, but we do!”

Cooper was referencing the very popular worship song “Reckless Love” by Cory Asbury, which is sung in many churches all over the United States. 

He explained that the first time he became aware of the song was when his 11-year-old son told him he had been listening to the lyrics of it and after reading the Bible he  could not find anywhere in the Word where it said God’s love was “reckless.” His conversation with his son showed Cooper the importance of proper theology in music.

“I’m not trying to be rude about the song. And I’ve listened to interviews and I get where it’s coming from. I want to be inclusive to people but when people look at Skillet lyrics and they go, ‘I’m not really sure if this is a Christian song? I’m like, ‘Really? And you’re singing the songs you’re singing [in church]?’ 

“My point is, we should have a little bit more trepidation before we just start throwing out stuff in the world,” he told CP.

In his Facebook post, he contended that artists “are good at communicating emotion and feeling” but they “are not always the best people to write solid bible truth and doctrine.”

“Sometimes we are too young, too ignorant of scripture, too unaware, or too unconcerned about the purity of scripture and the holiness of the God we are singing to. Have you ever considered the disrespect of singing songs to God that are untrue of His character?” he wrote.

Continuing his argument against the recent public announcements of falling away from the faith, Cooper wondered, “[W]hy do people act like ‘being real’ covers a multitude of sins? As if someone is courageous simply for sharing virally every thought or dark place. That’s not courageous. It’s cavalier.”

“As if they are the harbingers of truth, saying ‘I used to think one way and practice it and preach it, but now I’ve learned all the new truth and will start practicing and preaching it.’ So the influencers become the voice for truth in whatever stage of life and whatever evolution takes place in their thinking.”

The “Legendary” singer also rejected as “flatly false” the claim that no one is addressing hard questions in Christianity.

Sampson of Hillsong had argued in his social media announcement that “no one talks about” contradictions in the Bible, preachers falling, and why God sends people to Hell, among other things.

“The church has wrestled with this for 1500 years. Literally,” Cooper argued. “Everybody talks about it. Children talk about it in Sunday school. There’s like a billion books written on the topic. Just because you don’t get the answer you want doesn’t mean that we are unwilling to wrestle with it. We wrestle with scripture until we are transformed by the renewing of our minds.”

In the end, there’s one thing the Skillet singer finds most shocking:

“As these influencers disavow their faith, they always end their statements with their ‘new insight/new truth’ that is basically a regurgitation of Jesus’s words! It’s truly bizarre and ironic. They’ll say ‘I’m disavowing my faith but remember, love people, be generous, forgive others. Ummm, why? That is actually not human nature.”

He continued: “No child is ever born and says ‘I just want to love others before loving myself. I want to turn the other cheek. I want to give my money away to others in need.’ Those are Bible principles taught by a prophet/Priest/king of kings who wants us to live by a higher standard which is not an earthly standard, but rather the ‘Kingdom of God’ standard. Therefore if Jesus is not the truth and if the Word of God is not absolute, then by preaching Jesus’s teachings you are endorsing the words of a madman.

“[W]ill your ideas of what is ‘good’ be different from year to year based on your experience, culture trends, poplular opinion etc and furthermore will you continue year by year to lead others into your idea of goodness even though it is not absolute? I’m amazed that so many Christians want the benefits of the kingdom of God, but with the caveat that they themselves will be the King.”

The Tennessee native pleaded with believers to “rediscover” the preeminence and the value of the Word of God. 

“We need to value truth over feeling. Truth over emotion,” he stated. 

“I implore you, please please in your search for relevancy for the gospel, let us NOT find creative ways to shape Gods word into the image of our culture by stifling inconvenient truths. But rather let us hold on even tighter to the anchor of the living Word of God. For He changes NOT.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10003

Satellite firm says images of bombed Iraqi site indicate it was hit in airstrike

Israel’s ImageSat International releases pictures of weapons depot in southern Baghdad controlled by a pro-Iranian militia; attack has been blamed on Israel

By Judah Ari Gross and Adam Rasgon 14 August 2019, 8:01 pm 2

An Israeli satellite imaging firm on Wednesday released photos of a weapons depot in southern Baghdad controlled by a pro-Iranian militia that was hit in an alleged Israeli airstrike earlier this week.

ImageSat International said that damage characteristics identified from the photos show “it is probable that the blast was caused by an airstrike, followed by secondary explosions of the explosives stored in the depot.”

On Tuesday, a former Iraqi deputy prime minister appeared to blame Israel for the massive explosion on Monday.

 “We believe they are weapons we were holding onto for a neighboring state and they were targeted by an oppressive colonial state on the basis of a treasonous Iraqi act,” former deputy prime minister Baha al-Araji wrote on Twitter.

Satellite photo of a weapons depot in southern Baghdad controlled by a pro-Iranian militia that was hit in an alleged Israeli operation on August 12, 2019. (ImageSat International)

An unnamed security source on Wednesday told Asharq al-Awsat, an Arabic-language newspaper published in London, that Israel was behind the strike.

“All indications point to Israel, perhaps with the support of the United States, completing what it started in Syria in terms of targeting sites with Iranian forces,” the source said.

The Israel Defense Forces has not commented on the reports.

According to foreign reports, Israel has been increasingly active in carrying out airstrikes against Iran-backed militias in Iraq, shifting its focus after years of reported raids aimed at keeping Tehran from gaining a foothold in Syria.

Israeli officials have identified Iraq as a likely growing base of operations for Iran-backed efforts against the Jewish state.

“It is clear that we are in the midst of a real battle between Israel and the United States against Iran and its allies in Iraq. It is clear that the two sides chose Iraq to be the place for their unannounced battle,” the unnamed security source told the Saudi-owned newspaper.

The blast occurred Monday in the Saqr military base in the southern section of the Iraqi capital, which is ordinarily used by the country’s Federal Police and the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), a state-sponsored umbrella group of militias, some of which are supported by Iran, according to Iraq’s Interior Minister Saad Maan.

Local media reported that the weapons storehouse was controlled by the Sayyid of Martyrs Battalions, an Iraqi Shiite militia supported by Iran.

In contrast to the opinion of the unnamed defense source, Adel al-Karawi, spokesman for the Ansar Allah al-Awfiya in the PMF, said that “the data regarding a fire breaking out at the Saqr base, near the al-Dura area south of Baghdad, indicates the base was subject to a bombardment by an American [drone] carrying missiles.”

The explosion set off some of the munitions stored on the base, sending projectiles into surrounding neighborhoods.

According to Maan, 13 people were injured in the blast, including two federal policemen and four PMF members. It was not immediately clear if the injuries were caused by the initial blast or the projectiles that were launched following the blast.

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said one person was killed in the Monday incident and that civilians were also wounded. Mahdi ordered an investigation into the blast along with “integrated safety measures at all military bases and armed forces’ storage facilities to prevent it from occurring again,” he wrote on Twitter.

But the unnamed security official said the results of the investigation — as well as investigations into previous cases of bombings at pro-Iranian militia bases — would likely never be publicized as doing so “will bother the Iranians.”

“[Tehran has] adopted a strategy to not announce Israeli and American targeting of their sites in Syria and later in Iraq,” the source added.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10000

Erdogan May Buy Russian Fighter Jets After Trump Refused him F-35s

By Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz August 13, 2019 , 4:49 pm

Among them shall be Persia, Nubia, and Put, everyone with shield and helmet Ezekiel 38:5 (The Israel Bible™)

Turkey doubled-down on its controversial decision to acquire Russian S-400 air-defense systems by setting out to acquire Russian Sukhoi SU-35 fighter jets. 

Last month, Turkey finalized a $2.5 billion deal with Russia and acquired the first S-400 systems. The purchase was in response to the U.S. delaying an acceptable alternative. Turkey is a member of the Northern Alliance Treaty Organization (NATO) and acquiring Russian weaponry is problematic, making their systems operationally incompatible with those of the other NATO nations.

The S-400 was specifically designed to shoot down advanced U.S. warplanes like the F-35.

It is touted to have a range of up to 150 miles (240 km) and the ability to intercept ballistic missiles from up to 38 miles away. 

The Turkish S-400’s are scheduled to be operational in September. The second batch of S-400’s is scheduled to arrive next year. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has already announced that his country intends to take part in the upcoming S-500 program.

Last month the sale of the S-400 to Turkey was finalized and the U.S. announced that Turkey was being removed from the F-35 program. Turkey was slated to purchase 120 of the hyper-advanced F-35’s. Turkey has already technically received several F-35s, but they remain on U.S. soil, and their transfer has been blocked by Congress.

The acquisition of Russian hardware has raised doubts about the future of Turkey as a NATO member.

The White House at the time said, “The F-35 cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence-collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced capabilities.”

After the U.S., Turkey has the second-largest land army of any NATO member and is considered a key member of the alliance.

Erdogan denied that acquisition of the S-400 was detrimental to his country’s NATO membership.

“There is no concrete evidence showing the S-400s will harm the F-35s or NATO, nobody should deceive each other. Many NATO member states have purchased from Russia. We don’t see this being turned into a crisis,” Erdogan was quoted as saying in Reuters.

Yeni Safak, a Turkish news daily, reported that the Turkey’s Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB), the Turkish Air Force Command, and other relevant authorities have been asked to investigate the possibility of purchasing the Russian SU-35 jets.

The conflict over military hardware underscores other disagreements between Turkey and the U.S.

The U.S.-led coalition in Syria allied with Kurdish militia in the effort to defeat the Islamic State (ISIS). Turkey considers the Kurdish militia to be a terrorist and has been at war with them for decades.

Despite acquiring Russian military hardware, Turkey’s relationship with Russia is at least as rocky as its relationship with U.S. In 2015, Turkish F-16 combat aircraft shot down a Russian Su-24 during an airspace dispute close to the Turkish-Syrian border. In response, Russia imposed a number of economic sanctions on Turkey. Relations were normalized one year later.

Since that time, the two countries have sided together in political disputes with the U.S.

Ironically, the current S-400 situation is the mirror image of a crisis that emerged in 1997 when Cyprus, Turkey’s smaller and less militaristic neighbor, planned to install two Russian-made S-300 air-defense systems. Turkey overtly threatened either a pre-emptive strike to prevent the arrival of the missiles or an actual war on Cyprus as a response to the arrival of the missiles. Turkey obtained from Israel surface-to-surface missiles, which could be used in a military operation to destroy the S-300 when they would be installed on the island. The crisis effectively ended in 1998 with the decision of the Cypriot government to transfer the S-300s to Greece’s Hellenic Air Force in exchange for alternative weapons from Greece. The ultimate irony is that while the Greek S-300’s were used in joint Cypriot-Israel air exercises, giving the Israeli Air Force a rare glimpse into the capabilities of the Russian system

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9997

Is China Hoarding Food, Gold And Other Commodities In Anticipation Of A Global Collapse?

August 8, 2019 by Michael Snyder

Does China believe that we are on the verge of a major global crisis?  The communist Chinese government has always been very big into planning, and it appears that they have decided that now is the time to hoard food, gold and other commodities.  Of course in recent days the fact that China is completely cutting off U.S. agricultural imports has made headlines all over the globe, but at the same time China is dramatically increasing the amount of food that it is importing from the rest of the world.  The end result is actually a substantial surge in Chinese imports, and this is starting to show up in the official numbers.  For example, we just learned that Chinese soybean imports in July were actually up 8 percent compared to last year…  

China’s soybean imports in July rose 8% from a year earlier, to their highest level in almost a year, customs data showed on Thursday, as importers increased their purchases of Brazilian beans on higher crush margins.

As I discussed the other day, China had already been drastically reducing soybean imports from the United States even before this recent announcement that U.S. agricultural imports were being cut off completely.  So American farmers were definitely not benefiting from this Chinese import boom, and now that China has decided not to buy any of our crops it is going to be a  “devastating blow” for our farmers…

With China officially pulling out of buying U.S. agricultural products, American farmers are losing one of their biggest customers. It could be a devastating blow in an already tough year for crops and commodity prices. It may also dent U.S. gross domestic product and hurt companies like Deere, whose business is directly tied to farming in the Heartland.

“Sales have already been lower this crop year because of the existing tariffs. If we went all the way to no China exports whatsoever, that would of course result in even larger market and price impacts,” said Pat Westhoff, director of the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri. “Cutting China completely out of the market would be a very big deal.”

Needless to say, China has had to turn to other sources to supply their needs, and last month we learned that China had decided to substantially increase wheat and soybean imports from Russia

China has approved wheat imports from the Russian region of Kurgan, the Chinese customs office said on Friday, bringing Russia a step closer to its goal of dramatically increasing grain exports.

It also approved soybean imports from all parts of Russia, the General Administration of Customs said in a separate statement on its website, having all but halted U.S. soy imports as the trade dispute between Beijing and Washington deepened.

This is yet another sign that Russia and China are drawing closer, and this is something that we have been anticipating.

Meanwhile, China is also hoarding gold.  In fact, July was the eighth month in a row in which the Chinese increased their reserves

China bought nearly 10 tons of gold in July, marking the eighth consecutive month the country increased its reserves, Bloomberg reported Wednesday morning.

The purchase is another signal from China that it’s gearing up for a prolonged trade conflict with the US. Gold serves as a historic safe-haven investment, and its price typically rises when markets and other currencies see increased volatility or prolonged weakness.

In addition, Bloomberg is reporting that Chinese commodity purchases of all types were very, very strong in July…

Commodity purchases by China rebounded strongly in July. Imports of soy to coal and crude oil gained, signaling demand in the world’s biggest buyer remains solid even as a trade spat with the U.S. escalates.

So why are the Chinese suddenly stocking up on everything?

Well, the truth is that the answer to that question is quite obvious.  The trade war between the United States and China is rapidly escalating, war in the Middle East could erupt at any time, the global economy has been steadily slowing down, crops are failing all over the planet, and everywhere we look we seem to see rising political instability.

In fact, we even see it in China’s own backyard.  After weeks of unprecedented political protests in Hong Kong, it looks like we could be right on the verge of a brutal crackdown.  The following comes from the New York Post

After eight weeks of huge Hong Kong street protests against Beijing’s rule, the People’s Republic is massing police and soldiers just across the border. Message: If the protesters don’t quit, a bloodbath is coming.

Beijing has also started denouncing the protests as the work of American provocateurs. That’s so the regime can paint its Tiananmen Square-style crackdown as a battle against “foreign influence,” not a smashing of Chinese people who decided all on their own that they’d rather be free.

The relative stability that we have been enjoying for the past several years is ending, and it appears that the months ahead could potentially be quite chaotic.

Normally I would never suggest that anyone should emulate the Chinese government, but in this case they appear to be doing the wise thing.  Now is the time to get prepared for what is coming, because the road ahead promises to be quite tumultuous.

Most people don’t realize it, but U.S. relations with China have already passed the point of no return.  Things are going to become increasingly tense between our two nations, and that is going to have very serious implications for all of us.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9994

Years That End In “9” Tend To Be Times Of Great Upheaval

August 8, 2019 by Michael Snyder

Will 2019 continue the trend?  The other day I was talking with a close friend, and he pointed out to me that all throughout history years that end in 9 have tended to be times of great change and upheaval.  I was intrigued by what he shared with me, and so I went out and did some research, and I discovered that he was right on target.  In particular, over the last 100 years we have seen an unusual number of key historical events take place during years that end in 9, and that seems quite strange.  Could it be possible that the ending of one decade and the imminent start of a new one somehow triggers something inside of us psychologically?  I don’t know, but there does seem to be a pattern.  In this article I will summarize some of the things that I have discovered, and I will let you come to your own conclusions.

Let’s start with 1929.  As I repeatedly remind my readers, most large stock market crashes tend to happen during the fall, and on October 29th, 1929 there was a devastating stock market crash unlike anything that the United States had ever seen before.  That date is generally considered to be the start of the Great Depression, which to this day is the worst economic downturn the western world has ever experienced.  The Great Depression lasted for ten years, and that brings us to the next “9” on our list…

1939 was the year when World War II started.  It was the most catastrophic war that the world has ever seen, and it didn’t end until 1945.  It is estimated that somewhere between 70 million and 85 million people were killed, and the war shocked the planet so much that we haven’t seen a war like it since.

1949 was a year of great change, and it was really when the battle lines of the Cold War between the east and the west definitely solidified.  During this year, the Communist Party of China was able to take full control of mainland China, and the People’s Republic of China was formally established.  In addition, in 1949 the Soviet Union tested their first atomic bomb, it was the year of the Berlin blockade, and NATO was formed on April 4th, 1949.

1959 was the year when Fidel Castro came to power.  Thanks to the success of the Cuban revolution, Cuba became the first communist power in the western hemisphere, and this ultimately led to the Cuban missile crisis of 1963.

1969 was so tumultuous that a number of documentaries have been made about that single year, and author Rob Kirkpatrick wrote an entire book about it entitled “The Year Everything Changed”.  It was the year of the Moon landing, Woodstock and the Manson murders.  During this year Richard Nixon was sworn in as the president of the United States, 250,000 Americans marched on Washington to protest the Vietnam War, and the Palestine Liberation Organization was founded.

1979 was the year of the Iranian Revolution.  Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini came to power in February, and the Iranian hostage crisis began in November.  If there had been no Iranian hostage crisis, it is possible that Ronald Reagan may have been defeated by Jimmy Carter in 1980.  1979 was also the year when Margaret Thatcher first became prime minister of the UK, and she served all the way until 1990.

1989 was another year of revolution.  In June of that year the pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in Beijing were brutally crushed by the Chinese government.   On the other side of the world, 1989 was the beginning of the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia which ultimately resulted in a peaceful division of that nation into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.  George H.W. Bush was sworn in as the president of the United States during this year, and huge protests on both sides of the Berlin Wall ultimately resulted in the collapse of the East German government.

1999 was the year when Bill Clinton came very close to being removed from office.  On February 12th, the United States Senate narrowly acquitted Clinton of perjury and obstruction of justice.  1999 was also the year when the euro become the official currency of the European Union, and at the end of the year the Y2K scare was making headlines all over the globe.

2009 was definitely a year of “change”.  On January 20th, Barack Obama became the first African-American to become the president of the United States.  Meanwhile, the nation was greatly suffering from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s.  It is estimated that 8.8 million jobs were lost during the “Great Recession”, and millions of Americans also lost their homes as a result of the subprime mortgage meltdown.  As 2009 was ending, the Economic Collapse Blog was launched.

So now here we are in another year that ends in 9.  So far in 2019, we have seen mass shootings, crop failures, dramatic escalations in our trade war with China, and a potential war with Iran is looming on the horizon.  Americans are angrier, more frustrated and more divided today than ever before in modern American history, and the mainstream media continues to stir the pot on a daily basis.

The stage is definitely set for things to explode during the second half of this year, and a lot of people that I have been talking to feel like things could really start breaking loose at any moment.

To a large degree, 2019 has already been a year of tremendous upheaval, but many believe that the worst is still yet to come.  So buckle up and hold on, because I think that things are about to get very bumpy.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9992

Gold Earring Discovered by Archaeologists Confirms Babylonian Conquest of Jerusalem

By Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz August 12, 2019 , 1:44 pm

“He burned the House of Hashem, the king’s palace, and all the houses of Yerushalayim; he burned down the house of every notable person.” II Kings 25:9 (The Israel Bible™)

Archaeologists from the University of North Carolina made a remarkable discovery while digging on Mount Zion in Jerusalem that is evidence of the Babylonian conquest of the city in 586 BCE: a golden earring.

Dr. Rafi Lewis, co-director of the project, explained the importance of the tiny earring.

“With finds like this, there is a material value but, more importantly, there is a spiritual and emotional value,” Dr. Lewis told Breaking Israel News. “On that level, this find is quite literally priceless. We can establish the context as the destruction of the First Temple without any doubt. We have made similar finds outside of the city but this is the first time we made such finds inside the city.”

Gold Earring (courtesy: The Mount Zion Archaeological Excavations )

Lewis noted that the earring hinted at many aspects of the era.

“It gives us an idea of the richness of Jerusalem at the time,” Dr. Lewis said. “This is something aristocratic. It could have been a piece of jewelry or hung from an article of clothing or even a bigger artifact. It was clearly something important. If I had something similar, references, I would know more. But this find was really unique.”

The dig has been conducted for over a decade by the Mount Zion Archaeological Project, co-directed by UNC Charlotte professor of history Shimon Gibson, Dr. Lewis, a senior lecturer at Ashkelon Academic College and a fellow of Haifa University, and James Tabor, UNC Charlotte professor of religious studies.

“This is not proof of the destruction of the Temple since the dig is on Mount Zion, some distance from the Temple Mount,” Lewis said, noting that there has been no archaeological work permitted on the Temple Mount due to the political and religious sensitivity. “But this is certainly proof of the destruction of Jerusalem.”

The last time there were studies done on the Temple Mount were under Charles Warren in 1867.

The earring was found in a layer of ash that also contained bronze and iron arrowheads, Iron Age potsherds, and lamps. Lewis explained that the arrowheads were of Scythian origin. The Scythians, believed to be Eurasian nomads, were mercenary archers hired by the Babylonians. Such arrowheads have been found at other archaeological conflict sites in Israel and outside dating from the 7th and 6th centuries BCE. 

“They were like the special forces since the Scythians were the best archers of the time,” Lewis said. “Also from this, we know that this was a scene of a Babylonian battle. We can say for certain that the archaeological context of the site was the taking of Jerusalem.”

The researchers noted that the location helped identify the story behind the find.

“We know where the ancient fortification line ran,” Dr. Gibson said in a press release on Eureka Alert. “so we know we are within the city. We know that this is not some dumping area, but the south-western neighborhood of the Iron Age city—during the 8th century BCE the urban area extended from the City of David area to the south-east and as far as the Western Hill where we are digging.”

The ashen layer was a clear sign to the researchers that they were investigating the scene of a battle.

“For archaeologists, an ashen layer can mean a number of different things,” Gibson said. “It could be ashy deposits removed from ovens, or it could be localized burning of garbage. However, in this case, the combination of an ashy layer full of artifacts, mixed with arrowheads, and a very special ornament indicates some kind of devastation and destruction. Nobody abandons golden jewelry and nobody has arrowheads in their domestic refuse.”

The researchers were able to date the layer by the potsherds found. The disarray suggested that it coincided with a battle.

“It’s the kind of jumble that you would expect to find in a ruined household following a raid or battle,” Gibson said. “Household objects, lamps, broken bits from pottery which had been overturned and shattered… and arrowheads and a piece of jewelry which might have been lost and buried in the destruction.”

The lamps were identified as the typical high-based pinched lamps of the period and were typical of such sites but the jewelry, most notably the gold and silver earring, was unusual for sites that had undergone a battle.

“Frankly, jewelry is a rare find at conflict sites, because this is exactly the sort of thing that attackers will loot and later melt down,” Gibson said.

Gibson associated the site with a section of the Book of II Kings describing the destruction of Jerusalem.

He burned the House of Hashem, the king’s palace, and all the houses of Yerushalayim; he burned down the house of every notable person. II Kings 25:9

 “This spot would have been at an ideal location, situated as it is close to the western summit of the city with a good view overlooking Solomon’s Temple and Mount Moriah to the north-east,” Gibson said. “We have high expectations of finding much more of the Iron Age city in future seasons of work. “

The researchers were excited that their find was linked to an event with such historical and Biblical significance.

Dr. Lewis noted that in the field of archaeology, the Bible and science could coexist.

“The Bible is certainly one of our sources,” Dr. Lewis said. “You have to treat it respectfully. It represents something spiritual and was not written as a history book. It was written as a religious book but there is a historical base and root. But we cannot reject the Bible when studying archaeology. I would not rely on the Bible exclusively just like I would not rely on any other source exclusively. We need as many sources as possible and the Bible can be one of them.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9989

Why Is Saudi Arabia Giving Up A Tract Of Land The Size Of Massachusetts For “The World’s First Independent International Zone”?

August 7, 2019 by Michael Snyder

Under the leadership of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a $500 billion “mega-city” is being constructed in the northwestern corner of Saudi Arabia.  This city has been named “Neom”, and when it is fully completed it will be approximately “the size of Massachusetts”.  The Wall Street Journal was able to recently examine 2,300 pages of classified documents related to this project, and what they discovered is absolutely stunning.  This “city of the future” will feature an artificial moon, flying taxis and robot maids, but there will also be gene-editing in order to make humans stronger and smarter, and everyone living there will be subjected to 24 hour surveillance.  In addition, we are being told that this will be “the world’s first independent international zone”, and many are concerned about what exactly that is going to mean.

“Neom” certainly has a futuristic ring to it, and according to Digital Trends it was derived by combining a Greek word and an Arabic word…

Called Neom (a mix of the Greek word for “new” and Arabic word for “future”), the project aims to construct a $500 billion city, covering 10,000 squares miles of coastline and desert in northwest Saudi Arabia. With its mixture of high-tech amenities and luxury services like restaurants and shops, the goal is to build what the Wall Street Journal describes as a superior to “Silicon Valley in technology, Hollywood in entertainment and the French Riviera as a place to vacation.”

It has been reported that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman originally came up with the idea for the city when he “pulled up a map of his country on Google Earth and saw its northwest quadrant was a blank slate.”  He ultimately decided that it would be an ideal location for “the city of the future”, and he enlisted an army of U.S. consultants to help him fulfill his dream.

But will his dream ultimately become a nightmare?  There are some extremely alarming things that I want to tell you about, but first let’s talk about some of the cool stuff that is planned for the city

The in-development Saudi Arabian city-state will have robot maids, flying taxis, and glow-in-the-dark sand, according to confidential planning documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. An artificial moon will light up the sky every night, and a Jurassic Park-style island will let visitors mingle with robot dinosaurs.

Sounds like a fun place to live, right?

And even though the climate of the region is extremely, extremely dry, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman plans to use “cloud seeding” to produce rain whenever it is needed.

In other words, the fact that they will be using geoengineering to control the weather in this city is not even being hidden.

There will also be gene-editing facilities that will be used to make humans stronger and smarter than ever before, and according to the Wall Street Journal, Neom’s board plans to make it a fully automated city “where we can watch everything”

“This should be an automated city where we can watch everything,” Neom’s founding board is quoted as saying in the documents, according to the WSJ. “[A city] where a computer can notify crimes without having to report them or where all citizens can be tracked.”

That means while you’re chilling on the glowing beach, daydreaming about your next prix fixe meal, a drone equipped with facial-recognition technology will likely be transmitting your location to Neom’s “1984”-esque law enforcement officials.

Hmmm – that actually doesn’t sound like such a fun place to live after all.

In fact, it basically sounds like the sort of dystopian nightmare that I have always been warning about.

But even more alarming is the fact that this city is being billed as “the world’s first independent international zone”

The city itself will be “the world’s first independent international zone,” presents its marketing literature. How independent it will actually be remains to be seen. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia set up a “special authority,” chaired by the Crown Prince himself, to supervise the development of the project. Once its built, the zone will be managed via a “regulatory framework that will adopt world-class investment laws to support residents and targeted economic sectors,” declares its presentation, which also purports the city-state will have an “autonomous judicial system.” Its laws, enforced by city-wide automation and tracking of its citizens, would be independent of Saudi Arabia’s, created by a slate of both local and foreign investors “in accordance with international best practice.”

So this city will not technically be part of Saudi Arabia.

It will actually be a “city-state” with its own laws, rules, regulations and judicial system.

Could it be possible that this giant “independent international zone” will one day be the home base for an “international leader”?

I don’t know.  I am just throwing that out there.

Obviously there is an agenda here.  Why else would Saudi Arabia be willing to give up a giant tract of land the size of Massachusetts for a futuristic mega-city that won’t even be under their jurisdiction?

As is the case with so many other things, this isn’t being hidden from us at all.  It is being done right out in the open, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is being quite clear that his intention is to make Neom the most important city on the entire planet.

But to me it sounds like a prison, and the truth is that this is the direction the entire globe is heading.

Already, virtually everything that we do is being watched, monitored or tracked somehow.  With each passing year, the global Big Brother surveillance grid becomes even more extensive, and we have very little privacy left.

So perhaps we should stop talking so much about the dystopian nightmare that is coming, because to a very large degree it is already here.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9985

The Fierce Amorites and the First King of the Babylonian Empire

The Amorites, also called Amurru or Martu, were an ancient Semitic-speaking people who dominated the history of Mesopotamia, Syria, and Palestine from about 2000 to 1600 BC. Tribal nomads who forced themselves into the lands that they needed; the Amorites were reputedly fierce warriors.

They twice conquered Babylonia and Mesopotamia (at the end of the third and the beginning of the first millennium), establishing new city states; the most famous of which became Babylon. Their most noted king, Hammurabi, was the first king of the Babylon Empire.

The Amorites Nomadic Ways

The name Amorite literally means the “high one.” In the Mesopotamian sources from Sumer, Akkad, and Assyria, Amorites appear as a nomadic people and are connected with the mountainous region of Jebel Bishri in northern Syria, called “the mountain of the Amorites.” They were an ancient tribe of Canaanites, though technically not of Canaanite ethnicity, which inhabited the region northeast of the Jordan River.

Amorites were apparently nomadic clans ruled by tribal chiefs, who pushed into lands they needed to graze their herds. Some Akkadian literature speaks disparagingly of them, and implies that both the Akkadians and Sumerians viewed their nomadic way of life with disgust and contempt:

“The MARTU who know no grain…. The MARTU who know no house nor town, the boors of the mountains…. The MARTU who digs up truffles… who does not bend his knees [to cultivate the land], who eats raw meat, who has no house during his lifetime, who is not buried after death…” (Chiera 1934, 58, 112).

“Men of Great Stature”

In Egypt, the Amorites were called “Amar” and were represented on monuments with fair skin, light hair, blue eyes, curved noses, and pointed beards. They were supposedly men of great stature. One of their kings, Og, was described by Moses (Deuteronomy 3:11) as the last “of the remnant of the giants,” and whose bed was 13.5 feet (4 meters) long.

Amorite Religion and Language

The Amorites lived in close contact with the Sumerians for a long period of time (preceding their ascendency over the region) and it’s possible they adopted elements of the Sumerian religion over several centuries. The Amorites did merge a new god into the Sumerian religion , Marduk, which they elevated to the supreme position over all the other gods. Known as the storm-god, Marduk came to assume the role of chief deity, and the story of his rise to supremacy was dramatically told in the epic myth known as the Enuma Elish. The Amorites also worshipped the moon-god Sin, and Amurru.

Amorites wrote in a dialect of Akkadian found on tablets at the ancient city of Mari (modern day Syria) dating from 1800 BC. Since their language shows northwest Semitic forms, words and constructions, it is believed to have been a northwest branch of the Canaanite languages, whose other dialects included Hebrew and Phoenician. The main sources for knowledge about their language are their proper names which survive in non-Amorite text.

Many of these names are similar to later Biblical Hebrew names. In the dark age, between 1600 and 1100 BC, the Amorite language disappeared from Babylonia and the mid-Euphrates. In Syria and Palestine, however, it became dominant and is found in ancient inscriptions which date near to the end of the second millennium BC.

Conquering Mesopotamia and Babylon

The decline of the Sumerian language in Mesopotamia was also the time of the most famous Amorite invasion. The last Sumerian dynasty fell around 2000 BC and Mesopotamia drifted into conflict and chaos for almost a century afterward. Around 1900 BC the Amorites had managed to gain control of most of the Mesopotamian region.

Inscriptions and tablets by the early Babylonians indicate that they occupied parts of Syria, the land east of Israel by 1900 BC. Already established in mid-Mesopotamia, the Amorites started sacking Neo-Sumerian towns, eventually conquering Babylon and making it their capital in 1959 BC. Ur, the capital of the Sumerian civilization, would survive another nine years, until it was taken by the Elamites.

At first, the Amorites were merely an annoyance to the Ur Empire, but eventually they undermined it to such an extent that the position of last king, Ibbi-Sin, was weakened, and his subjects were able to over-throw his rule. By the time of the last days of the Neo-Sumerian Empire, immigrating Amorites had become such a force that kings were obliged to construct a 170-mile (270-kilometer) -long wall from the Tigris to the Euphrates to hold them off.

The Amorites based their capital in the city of Babylon, which was originally called Akkad, and later served as the center of their empire. For this reason, the Amorites are sometimes called the Old Babylonians and the period of their ascendancy over the region, which lasted from 1900-1600 BC, is called the Old Babylonian period.

King Hammurabi and the Eventual Fall of the Amorites

The Amorites established their authority as the absolute Arabian / Semitic dynasty by crushing the Elamites and starting the short-lived Babylonian Empire . They were ruled by their King Hammurabi from 1792 to 1750 BC. He was best known for the set of laws called Hammurabi’s Code, which constitute one of the earliest surviving codes of law in recorded history. With his death in 1750 BC, the empire disintegrated into smaller city states ruled by weaker kings.

In northern Mesopotamia, both the Amorites and Babylonians were driven from Assyria by Puzur-Sin a native Akkadian-speaking ruler, circa 1740 BC. Around the same time, native Akkadian speakers threw off Amorite Babylonian rule in the far south of Mesopotamia. Babylon proper survived for another 100 years.

In 1659 BC, the technologically-advanced Hittites conquered Babylon. After its fall, the Amorite dialect disappeared and was replaced by an Assyro-Akkadian dialect, interrupting the gap between Old and Neo-Babylonian and clearly showing that the East Canaanites had disappeared from Mesopotamia.

In the later second millennium BC, the Amorites migrated or were pushed westward toward Canaan. There, the Israelites treated them as enemies and left several records of their defeat by Israelite heroes such as Joshua. The Amorites disappeared from the historical record as a distinct population group around the sixth century BC.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9981

China Is Extremely Angry, And They Now Consider The United States To Be Enemy #1

August 2, 2019 by Michael Snyder

Have relations between the United States and China finally reached the point of no return?  At this moment, it would be difficult to overstate how angry the Chinese are with the United States.  Chinese officials are firmly blaming the United States for the enormous political protests that we have witnessed in Hong Kong in recent weeks, and on Thursday President Trump slapped another round of tariffs on Chinese imports.  Sadly, most Americans aren’t even paying much attention to these developments, but over in China everyone is talking about these things.  And of course the truth is that they aren’t just talking – the Chinese are absolutely seething with anger toward the U.S., and they aren’t afraid to express it.

Let me give you a perfect example of what I am talking about.  One of the most highly respected news anchors in China, Kang Hui, actually used an expletive when referring to the United States during a news broadcast earlier this week.  Normally I would never have such language in one of my articles, but this comment made headlines all over the globe, and I think that it is very important for all of us to understand what the Chinese are saying about us.  So since this is a news item of critical importance, I have decided not to censor this quote at all.  The following comes from the New York Times

“They stir up more troubles and crave the whole world to be in chaos, acting like a shit-stirring stick,” Mr. Kang said on the usually stolid 7 p.m. national news program on CCTV, China’s state broadcaster. The expletive quickly became one of the most-searched-for phrases on Chinese social media.

In a follow-up video on a CCTV social media account, Mr. Kang boasted about how he had taunted the United States.

“If a handful of Americans always stir up troubles, then we are sorry,” he intoned. “No more do we talk about certain issues. We will also target you. We will bash you till your faces are covered with mud. We will bash you till you are left speechless.”

Could you imagine Anderson Cooper saying something similar about China on CNN?

And actually Mr. Kang likely has far more viewers than Anderson Cooper does.

Most Americans spend very little time thinking about relations with China, but over in China they are absolutely furious with us right now, and the developing situation in Hong Kong is one of the biggest reasons for that anger.  Millions of people have flooded the streets of Hong Kong in recent weeks, and it appears that the Chinese have decided that enough is enough.  According to Bloomberg, U.S. officials are closely watching “a congregation of Chinese forces on Hong Kong’s border”…

The White House is monitoring what a senior administration official called a congregation of Chinese forces on Hong Kong’s border.

Weeks of unrest in the Chinese territory have begun to overwhelm Hong Kong’s police, who have found themselves in violent clashes with protesters. China warned Monday that the civil disorder had gone “far beyond” peaceful protest after police deployed tear gas over the weekend.

Could it be possible that Chinese forces could soon storm across the border?

And there have also been other signs that China is about to do something drastic

And also on Wednesday, Chen Daoxiang, the commander of China’s military garrison in Hong Kong — which holds around 6,000 troops — said his forces were “determined to protect national sovereignty, security, stability and the prosperity of Hong Kong.” His remarks came as China released a new propaganda video which include armed forces practicing shooting at protestors, after which he underscored his support for the city’s chief executive for “rigorously enforcing the law.”

Yes, Hong Kong is now technically part of China.  But according to the agreement that was signed when the British handed over Hong Kong, the city is supposed to be allowed to govern itself to a large degree until 2047

After taking over Hong Kong in a war in the 1800s, Britain returned it to China in 1997 with an important stipulation: The city would partly govern itself for 50 years before fully falling under Beijing’s control. So until 2047, the expectation was that the city and the mainland would operate under the principle known as “one country, two systems.”

So if China ends up sending troops into Hong Kong to end the political protests, the Trump administration will be extremely upset, and tensions between our two nations will go up several more notches.

A new development in the trade war is the other reason why the Chinese are so angry with us right now.

After President Trump hit China with new tariffs on Thursday, China’s ambassador to the United Nations warned that the Chinese are prepared to implement “necessary countermeasures”

China’s new ambassador to the United Nations, Zhang Jun, said Beijing would take “necessary countermeasures” to protect its rights and bluntly described Trump’s move as “an irrational, irresponsible act.”

“China’s position is very clear that if U.S. wishes to talk, then we will talk, if they want to fight, then we will fight,” Zhang told reporters in New York, also signalling that trade tensions could hurt cooperation between the countries on dealing with North Korea.

In other words, the Chinese are not going to back down one bit, and they are going to hit us back hard.

And Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said similar things when she addressed reporters on Friday

“China will not accept any form of pressure, intimidation or deception,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a press conference Friday.

China‘s Ministry of Commerce released a statement that said Beijing would impose countermeasures.

“The U.S. has to bear all the consequences,” the statement said. “China believes there will be no winners of this trade war and does not want to fight. But we are not afraid to fight and will fight if necessary.”

In the end, it is very true that there “will be no winners” in this trade war.  The Chinese know where our pain points are, and they will not be afraid to fight dirty.

A rapidly deteriorating relationship with China is a big part of the scenario that we have been anticipating.  As I discussed yesterday, it is exceedingly unlikely that there will be a trade deal between the United States and China before the 2020 presidential election.  And to be honest, it is far more likely that our conflict with China will escalate well beyond just a “trade war” in the months ahead.

The two largest economic superpowers on the entire planet are now locked in a monumental struggle for dominance, and it is going to result in a tremendous amount of economic pain for the entire planet.

Unfortunately, most Americans are completely and utterly clueless about what is going on, and so most of them are still convinced that everything is going to be just fine.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9978

These Horrific Mass Shootings Show Us That As America Grows Ever More Dark, Violent And Divided, It’s Becoming Apparent That We As A Nation Are Under God’s Judgment

America is under judgment, no rational person could conclude otherwise. I have combed through hundreds of articles in the NTEB Archive and have traced it back to 2012 where, in my opinion, I believe that God’s active judgment on the United States of America began. But first, let’s take a look over the past 60 years and see what led up to the events that started in 2012. 

by Geoffrey Grider August 4, 2019

America is under judgment, no rational person could possibly conclude otherwise.

Yesterday’s mass killings in Dayton, Ohio and  El Paso, Texas not to mention the killings that took place at the Garlic Festival in Gilroy, California, were horrific on every possible level. But after people have had time to process not only these events but also the dozens of mass killings that have been happening over the past decade, I believe there is only one logical conclusion that can be arrived at. America has finally come under the judgment of God. For the past 50 years we have told God that He was not welcome in our classrooms, not welcome in our courtrooms, and not welcome in our government. It’s starting to look like, to me, that He has left us as a nation.

“But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you.” Proverbs 1:25-27 (KJV)

Back when Donald Trump was running for president in 2016, I wrote multiple articles telling you why I was voting for him, and what the likely outcome of a Trump victory would be. You can read all those articles here. One article in particular was one where I warned that a Donald Trump victory, while beneficial for Israel, would bring about a time of ‘global shaking‘, and that is exactly what has been happening since Trump took office. But while Trump’s victory expanded God’s judgment on America, it did not begin with Trump.

America is under judgment, no rational person could conclude otherwise. I have combed through hundreds of articles in the NTEB Archive and have traced it back to 2012 where, in my opinion, I believe that God’s active judgment on the United States of America began.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9975