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COULD THERE BE ANOTHER GREAT AWAKENING?

Harvest America is tomorrow night. Watch it & pray for America!

Exclusive: Greg Laurie urges Christians to pray for sovereign work of God across nation

by Greg Laurie

The Assyrian city of Nineveh was one of the most wicked places on the face of the planet, renowned for its violence and cruelty. And despite a pretty weak message from the original chicken of the sea, the prophet Jonah, the people of Nineveh turned to the Lord en masse and repented of their sin. As a result, God spared them and extended their days.

Could God do that for the United States of America? I believe he could. Have we ever had a revival in this country before? Yes, we have. In fact, we have had a number of them.

The first Great Awakening took place in the 1700s, before the Revolutionary War. Led by such men as Jonathan Edwards and George Whitfield, some 25,000 to 50,000 people came to Christ between 1740 and 1742. That may not seem like an impressive number, until you consider the population of that time, which was approximately 300,000.

The second Great Awakening, from the 1790s to 1840, was led by many, including Charles Finney. This was the time of the Wild West, where the law was disregarded and sexual sin was rampant. But then the camp meetings began, held in the middle of the woods and attended by thousands of people. No one was updating their Facebook pages or sending out Tweets about where these meetings were being held. Yet thousands and thousands of Americans attended them, and many came to faith.

The roots of the third Great Awakening were unique. This revival, from 1857 to 1859, started with a 48-year-old man named Jeremiah Lanphier. A businessman in New York City, Lanphier felt burdened for his city and his country. So he started a prayer meeting on Fulton Street. Initially it was attended by only a handful of people. But then the stock market crashed, and soon his meeting was overflowing with praying New Yorkers. Not much later, the city was filled with people praying every day at lunchtime. The theaters on Broadway were filled with Christians who were praying for the city and for the nation. Within six months, 10,000 people were gathering together daily for prayer in New York City.

It is reported that 50,000 New Yorkers were converted in three months. And during a single year, the number of reported conversions throughout the nation reached an average of 50,000 a week. When it was all said and done, some one million people came to faith. And it all began with Jeremiah Lanphier and his little prayer meeting. He wasn’t a preacher. He wasn’t a missionary. He was just a Christian who wanted to start praying.

I think you also could classify the Jesus Movement of the late-1960s and 1970s as a genuine American revival. And I was privileged to have a front-row seat to this one.

During the 1960s, the country was in turmoil. Some may look back on the ’60s through rose-colored granny glasses and think those were the good old days. But our country was in turmoil. Bomb drills were mandatory in classrooms. I remember getting under the desk and crouching down. This is what we were to do, they said, in case there was an atomic war.

But then, as we got older, the innocence was shattered when we saw our young president, John F. Kennedy, shot in Dallas. And then Martin Luther King was assassinated. And then Robert Kennedy also was shot and killed. The Vietnam War was raging, and young men were coming back every day in body bags. Protests were breaking out in the streets, and there was anarchy and chaos. The slogan of the day was, “Turn on. Tune in. Drop out.” It was all about sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.

By and large, the church was ineffective in reaching this youth culture. The church didn’t know what to do. In 1966, Time magazine ran a cover story with a headline that asked, “Is God Dead?” And many liberal Protestant theologians said that indeed he was.

Enter the Jesus Movement. It was a Divine intervention that saved a generation. Time magazine did another cover story, this time with the headline, “The Jesus Revolution.” God touched a man named Chuck Smith to open up the church where he pastored to young hippie kids, who came and heard the gospel. And soon his church was overflowing. Other churches were overflowing as well, because the Jesus Movement was spreading around the globe. In the aftermath of that time, we have seen hundreds of Calvary Chapels start up around the country. Thousands and thousands of churches have been impacted by what God did during this time. For all practical purposes, contemporary Christian music was born during the Jesus Movement, along with contemporary praise and worship.

Some 40 years have passed, and a lot of those young hippie kids are grandparents now. I should know. I am one of them. We thank God for what he did in the past. And we still see the effects of it, because the Harvest Crusades are directly connected to the Jesus Movement. I came to faith during that time. And what we are doing in these crusades is really an extension of what we saw God do back then. In our crusades around the world, we have seen some 4 million people in attendance and some 400,000 people make commitments to follow Christ.

But we need another Jesus Movement today. We need another revival. The prophet Habakkuk wrote, “I have heard all about you, Lord. I am filled with awe by your amazing works. In this time of our deep need, help us again as you did in years gone by. And in your anger, remember your mercy” (Habakkuk 3:2 NLT). Habakkuk was saying he had heard about what God did in the good old days.

We need a spiritual awakening again in America, and we need to start praying for it. It won’t be exactly like it was before. The Jesus Movement wasn’t like the revival before that or the revival before that. It is not something we can organize. It is something for which we agonize in prayer. It is a sovereign work of God. And we need it in our country again.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4065

Jacob Rothschild, John Paulson And George Soros Are All Betting That Financial Disaster Is Coming

What do these guys know that we don’t! I pray that you all remember the Joseph principle. Go back and read the story of Joseph and the dreams he interpreted for Pharoah. Keep looking up!

Jacob Rothschild, John Paulson And George Soros Are All Betting That Financial Disaster Is Coming

Are you willing to bet against three of the wealthiest men in the entire world?  Jacob Rothschild recently bet approximately 200 million dollars that the euro will go down.  Billionaire hedge fund manager John Paulson made somewhere around 20 billion dollars betting against the U.S. housing market during the last financial crisis, and now he has made huge bets that the euro will go down and that the price of gold will go up.  And as I wrote about in my last article, George Soros put approximately 130 million more dollars into gold last quarter.  So will the euro plummet like a rock?  Will the price of gold absolutely soar?  Well, if a massive financial disaster does occur both of those two things are likely to happen.  The European economy is becoming more unstable with each passing day, and investors all over the globe are looking for safe places to put their money.  The mainstream media keeps telling us that everything is going to be okay, but the global elite are sending us a much, much different message by their actions.  Certainly Rothschild, Paulson and Soros know about things happening in the financial world that the rest of us don’t.  The fact that they are all behaving in a consistent manner right now should be alarming for all of us.

Let’s start with Jacob Rothschild.  Apparently he believes that the euro is headed for quite a tumble.  The following is from a recent CNBC article….

You know the euro is in deep water when a doyen of the banking industry, Lord Jacob Rothschild takes a £130 million ($200 million) bet against it.

Okay, but the euro has already been falling dramatically.  In mid-2011, the EUR/USD was above the 1.40 mark, and right now it is at about 1.23.

Does it really have that much more that it can fall?

If the eurozone ends up breaking apart it sure does.

If there is a Greek default, or if Germany leaves the euro, or if a new currency comes along to replace the euro those currently betting against it will end up looking like geniuses.

Another big name in the financial world that is betting against the euro right now is John Paulson.  The following is from a recent Der Spiegel article….

One of these warriors is John Paulson. The hedge fund manager once made billions by betting on a collapse of the American real estate market. Not surprisingly, the financial world sat up and took notice when Paulson, who is now widely despised in America as a crisis profiteer, announced in the spring that he would bet on a collapse of the euro.

And as I noted in my last article, Paulson has also been putting billions of dollars into gold.

So just what are Rothschild and Paulson anticipating?

Could we be on the verge of a massive financial collapse in Europe?

According to the Der Spiegel article mentioned above, a lot of investors seem to be preparing for such a possibility right now….

Banks, companies and investors are preparing themselves for a collapse of the euro. Cross-border bank lending is falling, asset managers are shunning Europe and money is flowing into German real estate and bonds. The euro remains stable against the dollar because America has debt problems too. But unlike the euro, the dollar’s structure isn’t in doubt.

The financial world is starting to wake up to the fact that the globe is absolutely drowning in debt and it is not really good to be holding fiat currencies when a debt crisis erupts.

When men like John Paulson and George Soros start pouring huge amounts of money into gold, it is time to start becoming alarmed about the state of the global financial system.

The amount of money that these men are investing in gold is staggering….

There was also news last week in an SEC filing that both George Soros and John Paulson had increased their investment in SPDR Gold Trust, the world’s largest publicly traded physical gold exchange traded fund (ETF).

Mr Soros upped his stake in the ETF to 884,400 shares from 319,550 and Mr Paulson bought 4.53m shares, bringing his stake to 21.3m.

At the current price of about $156 a share, these are new investments of about $88m of Mr Soros’ cash and more than $700m from Mr Paulson’s funds. These are significant positions.

And the central banks of the world are certainly buying gold at an unprecedented rate as well.  According to the World Gold Council, the central banks of the world added 157.5 metric tons of gold last quarter.  That was the biggest move into gold by the central banks of the globe that we have seen in modern financial history.

But that might just be the beginning.

According to a recent Marketwatch article, there are persistent rumors that China has plans to buy thousands of metric tons of gold….

Within the gold market, there is unconfirmed speculation that China plans to buy up to at least 5,000 to 6,000 metric tons of gold and that it will start to buy during this year, according to Kevin Kerr, president of Kerr Trading International.

If China buys this much gold, that would exceed annual, global production of gold, he said. “We do not have enough gold for China to buy that much, and it will take China time to purchase this amount of gold.”

So what comes next?

Nobody is quite sure.

Another major financial crisis could erupt in Europe at any moment.

A major war in the Middle East could start literally at any time.

Renowned investor Jim Rogers believes that things are really going to get “bad after the next election“.

Others believe that the action could start even sooner than that.

The truth is that even though we have not seen a “Lehman Brothers moment” yet, things in Europe just continue to get progressively worse.  The following is from a recent article by Mark E. Grant….

Whether you turn your attention to Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal or even Ireland; it is getting worse. Nowhere on the Continent are things improving and even in France and Germany the financial strains are beginning to show. It is not a question of Euro-bear or Euro-bull; it is just the numbers as they come rolling out month after month.

There is a growing realization in Europe that the euro simply does not work.  Italy is absolutely drowning in debt, the Spanish economy has basically descended into a depression, and Greece has been experiencing depression-like conditions for years at this point.

The euro is doomed.  The only question is who is going to blink first.

Nobody wants to be the first to leave the euro.  There are rumblings that it could actually be Finland that leaves the euro first, and that would please Germany just fine because they don’t want to look like the bad guys in all of this.

But that doesn’t mean that Germany won’t eventually pull the trigger if nobody else does.  The German public is sick and tired of bailing out the weak sisters of southern Europe, and at this point it looks like it would take perpetual bailouts just to keep the euro together.

And recently there have been lots of little signs that Germany is starting to move slowly toward the exit doors.

In fact, I found it quite interesting that a giant euro sculpture was recently removed from the Frankfurt International Airport….

A massive € sculpture (identical to the one in front of the European Central Bank) was dismantled and removed from the Frankfurt International Airport in Germany Thursday.

The official explanation is ‘the plastic parts are getting weak after 11 years and the terminal needed the space‘.

Does € sculpture’s removal from the Frankfurt Airport indicate Germany is preparing for a surprise return to the Deutsche Mark?

Sure that might just be a coincidence, but it also could be a harbinger of things to come.

Sadly, most average people living in North America and Europe have absolutely no idea what is coming.  Most of them just want to be able to get up in the morning and go to work and pay the bills and take care of their families.

Unfortunately, millions upon millions of those hard working individuals are in for a very rude awakening.

A lot of people are about to have their current lifestyles totally turned upside down.

But it doesn’t have to be all bad.

In fact, I found it very interesting to read about how some young people are responding to the depression in Greece….

In the spring of 2010, just as the Greek government was embarking on some of its harshest austerity measures, 29-year-old Apostolos Sianos packed in his well-paid job as a website designer, gave up his Athens apartment and walked away from modern civilisation.

In the foothills of Mount Telaithrion on the Greek island of Evia, Mr Sianos and three other like-minded Athenians set up an eco-community.

The idea was to live in an entirely sustainable way, free from the ties of money and cut off from the national electricity grid.

The group sleeps communally in yurts they have built themselves, they grow their own food and exchange the surplus in the nearest village for any necessities they cannot produce.

I think there is a lesson to be learned there.

When the system fails, it is going to be important to be able to live independently of the system.

Governments and big banks all over the world have been rapidly preparing for the coming financial collapse.

Perhaps the rest of us should be too.

If you can believe it, 77 percent of all Americans live paycheck to paycheck at least some of the time.

If another major economic crisis comes along, many of those people are going to be totally wiped out.

And there are already signs that the U.S. economy is basically on life support at this point.

Just look at the velocity of money.

In an economy that is growing and healthy, money tends to circulate very, very quickly.

But when an economy is sick, money tends to circulate very slowly.

And that is exactly what is happening right now.  In fact, the velocity of money is currently at the lowest level in modern U.S. history….

This is exactly what happened back in the 1930s.  The velocity of money absolutely plummeted.  When people are scared, credit is tight and times are hard, money does not exchange hands as rapidly.

But this is just the beginning.

What we are experiencing right now is rip-roaring prosperity compared to what is coming.

Jacob Rothschild, John Paulson and George Soros are preparing themselves for the tremendous chaos that is coming.

Are you getting prepared?

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4055

AMERICA’S 2 CHOICES: JUDGMENT OR REVIVAL

First Billy Graham now Greg Laurie are calling for America to repent and revival to sweep the land or judgement will fall. When will the church in America wake up!

 

America’s 2 choices: Judgment or revival

Exclusive: Greg Laurie cites consequences of removing foundation of absolute truth

by Greg Laurie

What is the future of the United States of America? Are we doomed to go in the way of so many other nations throughout history? Will America end up in the ash heap of history? Or are our greatest days still ahead?

No one can say with any certainty what the future of America is. But I will say this: It is worth noting that in Scripture, the United States is not to be found in the last-days scenario. I am not saying she won’t be there in some way, shape, or form. But there is no clear passage of Scripture that identifies the superpower known today as the United States of America. So it makes me wonder where we are. In Scripture, the greatest nation on earth is conspicuously absent from the world stage during the end times.

 

We do know this much. Rome was once the reigning superpower on the face of the earth. It had the most powerful military anywhere. But before Rome collapsed externally, she collapsed internally. And I think we would do well to look at the soul of our country right now. I am for a strong military and for taking seriously any foreign threats. But having said that, what about an internal collapse?

Will Durant, who wrote an excellent book on the history of Rome, had this observation about its fall: “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has first destroyed itself from within.”

The difference between Rome and the United States is that this country was initially built on a Judeo-Christian foundation. But we have strayed dramatically from the original vision of our Founding Fathers that produced this wonderful thing we call America. What once was freedom of religion seems to have now become freedom from religion. We have succeeded in getting God out of our schools, out of our sporting events, out of our public places and out of our workplaces.

 

Christmas was once, at least to some degree, a celebration of the birth of Jesus. Now, “Merry Christmas” has turned into “Happy Holidays” and “Seasons Greetings.” And some have replaced the word “Christmas” entirely with terms like “Winter Solstice.”

Then there is Good Friday and Easter, which are days to remember the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. These have been turned into Spring Break. It seems we are pushing against those values.

But here is the thing we need to remember: The freedom we now enjoy was built on the foundation of absolute truth. And when you remove that foundation, this freedom actually can turn into anarchy. We see our country today saying, “Well, we don’t want to live by those standards anymore. We don’t like the idea of a family consisting of a man and a woman who are married for life. We don’t like the idea of things being right and things being wrong. We want to live according to moral relativism, where we can all choose our own truths.”

It reminds me of a fish named Oscar that I once had. He literally was an Oscar – the Oscar fish. When I was a kid, I collected tropical fish. While other kids were out playing baseball, I was adding to my fish collection. I loved fish. And so I had one of these Oscars, which are very aggressive. Even when it is little, if you introduce an Oscar into an aquarium of larger fish, it won’t be long until it is running the whole place. The Oscar fish will be chasing the other fish around.

Well, my Oscar got bigger and bigger. And one day when I came home from school, he was not in the tank. I thought, Where did he go? Where does a fish go? And then I saw Oscar. He was lying in an open drawer right beneath the tank, covered in birdseed. (I also had a parakeet.) Oscar’s gills were still moving, so I grabbed him, rushed him over to the bathtub, turned the water on, and threw him in. He came around, and I returned him to the aquarium. And as I recall, he jumped out a few more times.

Oscar wanted out of that place. He wanted to get to the outside world. But it wasn’t working for him there in the birdseed. He needed intervention from his owner, who knew what was best for him.

In the same way, America needs Divine intervention. We need God’s help. After the horrific tragedy of 9/11, I remember how so many Americans turned back to God. I remember the prayer vigils on street corners and members of Congress spontaneously breaking into “God Bless America” on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. I remember how churches, including the one where I pastor, were filled to capacity in the aftermath of 9/11. People were saying, “What do we do? We need God’s help. We don’t know what is happening.” So we have seen people in our country turn to God in the past.

But here is my belief about the future of the United States. I think we have two choices before us: one is judgment and the other is revival – a spiritual awakening. If we do not have revival, then I think judgment is inevitable.

As Peter Marshall, chaplain of the U.S. Senate from 1947 to 1949, once said, “The choice before us is plain, Christ or chaos, conviction or compromise, discipline or disintegration.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4037

The Mississippi River Is Drying Up

 

The worst drought in more than 50 years is having a devastating impact on the Mississippi River.  The Mississippi has become very thin and very narrow, and if it keeps on dropping there is a very real possibility that all river traffic could get shut down.  And considering the fact that approximately 60 percent of our grain, 22 percent of our oil and natural gas, and and one-fifth of our coal travel down the Mississippi River, that would be absolutely crippling for our economy.  It has been estimated that if all Mississippi River traffic was stopped that it would cost the U.S. economy 300 million dollars a day.  So far most of the media coverage of this historic drought has focused on the impact that it is having on farmers and ranchers, but the health of the Mississippi River is also absolutely crucial to the economic success of this nation, and right now the Mississippi is in incredibly bad shape.  In some areas the river is already 20 feet below normal and the water is expected to continue to drop.  If we have another 12 months of weather ahead of us similar to what we have seen over the last 12 months then the mighty Mississippi is going to be a complete and total disaster zone by this time next year.

Most Americans simply do not understand how vitally important the Mississippi River is to all of us.  If the Mississippi River continues drying up to the point where commercial travel is no longer possible, it would be an absolutely devastating blow to the U.S. economy.

Unfortunately, vast stretches of the Mississippi are already dangerously low.  The following is an excerpt from a transcript of a CNN report that aired on August 14th….

You might think this is some kind of desert just outside of Memphis. It’s not. I’m actually standing on the exposed bottom of the Mississippi River. That’s how dramatic the drought impact is being felt here. Hard to believe, a year ago we were talking about record flooding. Now, they are worried about a new kind of record: a record low. The river was three miles wide here, it’s now down to three tenths of a mile. And that’s causing all kinds of problems. There are some benefits, I mean, take a look over here: new beach front. In fact, some quip that now the Mississippi River has more beaches than the entire state of Florida, which would be funny if it didn’t have an impact on trade.

A lot of stuff we use goes up and down the Mississippi River. We are talking steel, coal, ore, grain. The problem is now a lot of those barges have had to lighten their loads, and even doing that, they are still running aground. There is a real fear that there could be a possibility of closing the Mississippi River. If that happens, well, all that product that used to be carried cheaply by barge is now going to be carried more expensively by truck or train. And guess who is going to pay for all of that.

You can see video footage of what is happening along the Mississippi right here.

It really is amazing that last year we were talking about historic flooding along the Mississippi and this year we are talking about the Mississippi possibly drying up.

As I mentioned earlier, there are some areas along the river that are already 20 feet below normal levels.  The following is from a recent article posted on inquisitr.com….

Just outside of Memphis the river is 13 feet below normal depth while the National Weather Service says Vicksburg, Mississippi is 20 feet below normal levels. Overall the Mississippi is 13 feet below normal averages for this time of year.

The drying up river is forcing barge, tugboat and towboat operators to navigate narrower and more shallow spots in the river, slowing their speeds as they pass dangerously close to one another. In some parts of the Mississippi the river is so narrow that one-way traffic is being utilized.

A lot of barges have been forced to go with greatly reduced loads so that they will sit higher in the river, and other commercial craft have been forced to stop operating completely.

For example, the Mississippi has dropped so low at this point that the famous American Queen Steamboat can no longer safely navigate the river.

Down south, the Mississippi River has gotten so low that saltwater is actually starting to move upriver.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is fighting hard to keep that contained.

Other waterways in the middle part of the country are in even worse shape.

For example, a 100 mile stretch of the Platte River has already dried up.  Millions of fish are dying as rivers and streams all over the country continue to get shallower and warmer as a result of the ongoing drought.

The last time the condition of the Mississippi River was this bad was back in 1988.  At that time, a lot of barge traffic was stopped completely and the shipping industry lost approximately a billion dollars.

If a similar thing were to happen now, the consequences could potentially be far worse.

As I wrote about recently, a standstill along the Mississippi would cost the U.S. economy about 300 million dollars a day.

In fact, one towing company that works on the Mississippi says that it has already been losing about $500,000 a month since May.

In the end, who is going to pay for all of this?

You and I will.

In fact, this crisis could end up costing American consumers a whole lot of money….

So here’s the math. If you want to raise the average barge one inch above the water, you’ve got to take off 17-tons of cargo. To raise it a foot, you’re talking 200 tons.

And since, according to the American Waterways Operators, moving cargo by river is $11 a ton cheaper than by train or truck. The more that now has to be moved on land, well, the more the costs go up. Steven Barry says, “And, eventually, the consumer’s gonna pay that price somewhere along the line.”

And considering the fact that we are already facing a potential food crisis due to the drought, the last thing we need is for the Mississippi River to dry up.

So is there any hope on the horizon for the Mississippi?

Unfortunately, things do not look promising.

The fall and the winter are typically drier than the summer is along the Mississippi River.  That means that conditions along the river could actually get even worse in the months ahead.  The following is from a recent Time Magazine article….

But without significant rainfall, which isn’t in any long-range forecasts, things are likely to get worse. As summer turns to fall, the weather tends to get drier. Lower temperatures generally mean fewer thunderstorms and less rainfall.

“Take away the thunderstorm mechanism and you run into more serious problems,” says Alex Sosnowski, expert senior meteorologist for AccuWeather.com. And while droughts tend to be a temporary setback, longer-range forecasts are troublesome. Sosnowski says he is anticipating an El Niño weather pattern next year, which would mean below-normal snowfall and above-average temperatures.

Let us hope and pray that we don’t see another 12 months similar to the 12 months that we have just been through.

The U.S. economy is already in bad enough shape.

We don’t need any more major problems on top of what we are already dealing with.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4020

Today and Forward…OR has it begun?

2 Thessalonians 2:3-4Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition. Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

2 Timothy 3:1-7This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

2 Timothy 4:1-4I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom. Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears. And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

2 Corinthians 11:13-14For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

Revelation 6:1-8 “And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.

And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.

And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.

And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.”

Lately, I have been paying more and more attention to all the things taking place around this world. Most of what I have seen, has been here in the USA, but, then again, this is where we live and we would feel the impact greater on those situations closet to us. All the shootings and murders, the obvious thefts by ordinary citizens everyday, things that 50 years ago would have never taken place, except by someone with an obvious mental handicap. We watch as the Leaders of our own country, squander the wealth of the nations citizens, bring us to the brink of financial and economic collapse. Rather than working to create jobs here for the welfare of our own citizens, these same individuals work to out-source these jobs, to the point of economic collapse for families and eventual ruin. We watch as our President bows (Literally) to the people that are killing our sons and daughters in the Armed Forces, stationed across the globe. We ideally standby as this same President and Members of Congress, take possession of the funds every American has set aside for old age and retirement, then place the proceeds into their own pockets. We like to call all these individuals the 1%’ers. We fall all over ourselves with Actors and the like to the tune of millions and millions of dollars, yet, are they worth that? The vast majority of people are not willing to assess themselves and take responsibility for their own actions, they prefer to blame others. They are on welfare because they don’t want to work, they fain disability to facilitate this lifestyle, regardless of the effect on the economy. And then expect everyone to see them as a “True stand-up sort of guy”! What’s worse they lie to themselves to the point they actually believe their own lies!

“Last days” and or “Perilous Times”?! Do you think we are there yet? Where does this period of time begin and then where does it end? Do you believe it could be taking place as we speak? Consider the Drought, the subsequent increase in the cost of food, are we beginning to see the effects of the “4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse” as in the third Horseman? And now, what about all the diseases that are increasing in magnitude? We have a Sexually Transmitted Disease know as Gonorrhea (quite common even into the Vietnam era) that has mutated to the point, we may not have an antibiotic to cure it! That brings to mind MRSA or “Methicillan Resistant Staphylo-coccus Aureious” that has few antibiotics left that will treat it successfully. It also brings to mind that days of the “Aides Epidemic” in gay men and now we MUST be willing and accepting of the “Gay Lifestyle”? And these are but a few examples of our current situations! There are many, many others! Question is, what are we doing about them?!

How about the current “Apostasy in the Churches”?! Where are the Preachers of old, “That Old Time Religion”?? Evidently money is more favorable than finding Peace and Contentment in our lives, or preparing for our Eternal lives, after this life! No one wants to hear about Jesus Christ anymore, He is passe’ now, Old-Fashioned as is His Holy Word the Bible. We want our Treasures now, this very instant, we don’t want to wait or prepare, we don’t want to save, we want to spend, even when we have nothing to spend, we have “Plastic”! We see the children we have conceived, grow to be war-mongers filled with hate, suffering from deep depression, addicted to drugs, alcoholics, Blasphemers, wild, “lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God”! OOPS!! I am so sorry, I may have stepped on a few toes there! It’s more important that we exude Political Correctness, than the truth. We mustn’t say anything that could “Bashing” anyone or their lifestyle! We must “Evolve” and become more “Tolerant” of whatever someone else thinks is so important, regardless of the “End Effect”. We should never evoke the God of Creation, because he’s so…”Whatever you wish to fill in there”.

Yet the Preachers are telling us that “All of us will EVENTUALLY make it to Heaven, because we all worship the same God!” YEAH!!!……RIGHT!!! Lets check that in 100 years, okay?!

“Oh darn, there I go and step on a few more toes! Ohhhhh, their going to get all upset with me!!” We need to go back and RE-READ the first 5 verses on the first page, okay! That my Friends is indeed the Word of God talking to us, telling us how things are going to be! Not, how we would LIKE them to be!

“Perilous Times in the End of Days” Do you think that means even the Born-Again Believers will suffer? Absolutely! The difference is, we have the Lord to go to and ask for Help, assistance and the Wisdom and Discernment of HIS word to help us through it. We are PROMISED that HE, Jesus Christ, God, the Eternal Creator of all, will NEVER leave us or desert us! Those that are not saved to Jesus Christ, do not have that. For them, the unsaved, they have so many days right now where they will experience HOPE. Hope that they will endure another day, another bad experience, another failure. Problem is, they better enjoy that HOPE, that they experience right now! In HELL there will not be any HOPE of any kind, it will not exist there, minute after minute, hour after hour, eon of time after eon of time, there will be NO end to the torment and suffering. The Likes of which we have no imagination to conceive!

God created everything for us to enjoy, that we would HIS people and HE would be our God! So on that note let me say this, THAT is the reason for us being here! A big Black line exists, with Jesus Christ on one side and satan on the other and our only decision is to decide which side you want to be on. THAT IS THE REASON FOR THIS LIFE OF OURS! That one single decision will dictate where we spend the rest of Eternity (Forever).

Go ahead call it that “Old Time Religion” or even “The Straight and narrow way of Life”! Call me a “Bible Thumper” or a “Jesus Freak” that’s okay with me! I am both of those things and happy as a lark to be those as well. When my Life ends or when the Rapture of the Church of Jesus Christ takes place, I KNOW where I will be, with my Lord and Savior!

Jesus Christ has written the Words HE has chosen for me, in my Heart and there they will forever remain. I am branded, I am humbled, I am forgiven, I am washed clean and I am able to come before my Father in Heaven and rest in His hands. I am not afraid to die and actually speaking, I can’t wait for HIM to come for me! Fear? What’s that? I no longer have to deal with that, or worry about it, it does not exist in my Life, because Jesus Christ, My God, my Lord and Savior, holds me and I sleep like a baby.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4014

Mahdism (and Sectarianism and Superstition) Rises in the Islamic World

 

Last week the prestigious and non-partisan Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released a new study on beliefs and attitudes in the Islamic world, entitled “The World’s Muslims: Unity and Diversity.” Surveying over 28,000 Muslims in 24 countries, this massive report is not only statistically sound and extensive in geographic scope — it’s the first to examine a number of topics of profound importance to U.S. foreign, defense and intelligence policy which have heretofore been largely off the radar screen of analysts as well as pollsters. Clearly the most fascinating — and disturbing — data in the Pew study is that revealing the great depth of belief in the “imminent return” [sic] of the Mahdi, the Islamic messianic figure who according to both Sunni and Shi`i traditions will make the entire world Muslim. (1) (“Sic” because the good Pew folks don’t seem to totally understand Mahdism, in which the Mahdi only returns for Twelver Shi`is; for Sunnis, the Mahdi has yet to step onto the historical stage, despite the plethora of mutamahdis, or “false Mahdis,” who have declared themselves over the centuries.)

This has been my academic specialty, upon which I wrote my doctoral dissertation and first book, Holiest Wars, as well as many articles; I also maintain a website following Mahdism. But while I have long suspected, based on anecdotal and qualitative research, that Mahdism was and still is endemic in the Islamic world, I was nonetheless taken aback by Pew’s quantitative data which clearly shows the breadth and depth of such belief:

In South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Middle East and North Africa, clear majorities of Muslims expect the Mahdi’s coming in the next few decades. Almost a third in Central Asia do so, as well. Only in Southern and Eastern Europe is the figure below 20 percent. (Pew, for some reason, did not ask this question in the sub-Saharan African Muslim region — but if it had, I would wager that the percentage would be even higher than anywhere else, knowing what I do of historical Mahdism in Africa.) Looking at specific countries, the highest percentage of the population expecting the Mahdi’s near-term appearance is found in Afghanistan (83 percent), followed by Iraq (72 percent), Turkey (68 percent) and Tunisia (67 percent). Sixty percent of Pakistanis, 51 percent of Moroccans, 46 percent of Palestinians and 40 percent of Egyptians are looking for the Mahdi in their lifetimes. The conventional wisdom in recent decades among many journalists, and not a few area “experts,” has been that Mahdism is an eccentric outlier belief held mainly by (Twelver) Shi`is and the uneducated on the fringes of the Sunni world. This Pew data, among other things, shows the intellctual vacuity of such biases. The average for the 23 countries Pew surveyed on this issue of Mahdism comes out to 42 percent, and extrapolating from that to the entire Muslim world means there are over 670 million Muslims who believe the Mahdi will return here in the first half of the twenty-first century.

What does this Pew information on Mahdism mean? First and foremost, Mahdism must be taken seriously as an intellectual, sociological and even political strain within the entire Islamic world — not dismissed as archaic, mytical nonsense. In addition, the good, the bad and the ugly faces of Mahdism throughout history need to be considered — political correctness be damned. The good is that Mahdism (mainly Shi`i, but also Sunni) does have peaceful social justice elements, akin to Catholic Christian “liberation theology,” that can be harnessed to improve Muslims’ lives (as is done on a regular basis by the Isma’ili, or Sevener, Shi`is, who define jihad as nonviolent benevolence) and ecumenical proclivities toward other “People of the Book” (as preached by the Turkish Mahdist Adnan Oktar and his followers). The bad is that Mahdism has often manifested as a political movement, against not just occupying non-Muslim (generally Christian) powers, but in point of fact far more often as a counter-Islamic-establishment revolutionary program. And the ugly truth about belief in the Mahdi is that Islamic history is rife with violent jihads led by self-styled Muslim messiahs and waged by their followers — from Ibn Tumart in medieval Morocco to nineteenth-century Sudan’s Muhammad Ahmad (of Khartoum fame) and, more recently, 1979’s attempted Mahdist putsch in Saudi Arabia as well as the flare-ups of Mahdist violence against U.S. and Iraqi government forces in Iraq in 2007, led by Jund al-Sama’ (“Army of Heaven”). If even 1 percent of the 672 million Muslims who believe in the Mahdi take the jihad route, that provides the AQN (al-Qa`ida Network) with a pool of almost seven million jihadists.

In terms of specific countries: the stratospheric Mahdist belief rate in Afghanistan is very likely connected to the fact that that country is occupied by “infidel” Christians; Turkey’s very high eschatological proclivities might be attributable to the influence of the aforementioned Adnan Oktar, as well as to another neo-Mahdist strain of thought coming from the followers of Fethullah Gülen; (2) and Mahdist expectations in Tunisia could very well be due to the still-lingering legacy of Ibn Tumart and other Mahdist movements in the Maghrib in centuries past. In terms of policy ramifications, it is worth considering that: Mahdist fervor in Afghanistan could very possibly be contributing to the opposition to the continued presence of U.S. forces there; we should be thankful that the predominant strain of Islamic messianism in NATO’s only majority-Muslim nation is, at least so far, pacific — while at the same time wary of what appears to be a burgeoning alliance between Turkish Mahdists and the neo-Ottomanists in the AK party in power; and such high levels of Mahdist belief in the vanguard country of the “Arab Spring” might very well be a harbinger of this political movement trangmogrifying from an Arab “liberation” one into a more violent eschatological register, as at least one prominent Muslim intellectual is already preaching. One might also observe that when over half of the Lebanese, almost half of the Palestinians, millions of Egyptians and a large plurality of Jordanians expect the Mahdi soon, the Israelis might have good reason to fear the Arab eschatological pot being brought to boil by the those arch-Mahdists in the Islamic Republic of Iran (a country which, curiously, was not included in Pew’s polling on this or other issues). As for Pakistan, the fact that six in ten of its people are looking for eschatological deliverance in the near-term means that even Deobandi fundamentalism — the South Asian equivalent of (Saudi) Arab Wahhabism — is far from immune to Islamic messianism.

Pew also reports that significant minorities of Muslims believe in Jesus’s imminent return. In both Sunni and Shi`i hadiths (alleged sayings of Muhammad), the prophet “Isa will return from heaven, having been taken up there before he died on the cross,” (3) and once back will work with the Mahdi to defeat the forces of evil led by al-Dajjal, “the Deceiver” (or Antichrist). Across the 22 countries Pew surveyed on this issue, an average of 35 percent of the Muslim population believes Jesus is coming back soon — with the strongest expectations in Tunisia (67 percent), Turkey (65 percent), Iraq (64 percent), Lebanon (52 percent) and among Thailand’s Muslims (51 percent). This pales in comparison to the 79 percent of Christians who look for Christ’s Second Coming (as per Pew, from a 2009 study), especially considering there are 2.2 billion Christians (far more than there are Muslims); but whereas Christian history is not replete with violent crusades led by men claiming to be the returned Jesus, Islamic history has witnessed legions of Mahdist claimants, many militant — as explained previously. The import of some 435 million Muslims looking for Jesus’s return in the early twenty-first century would seem to be mainly as another apocalyptic signifier, reinforcing the more primary Islamic eschatological expectation of the Mahdi.

The Pew data on Muslim interpretations of Islam, and views of Islamic sects, are two sides of the same coin.

Interestingly, Pew included 16 sub-Saharan African countries in this survey question, as well as 23 in other parts of Eurasia. The overall average for all 39 countries is just at 61 percent–meaning over six in ten Muslims “say there is only one interpretation of Islam,” ranging from a high of 78 percent in Muslim Brotherhood-ruled Egypt to a mere 34 percent in Morocco. Pew also asked, separately, whether Ahmadis, (4) Alawis (5) or members of Jaringan Islam Liberal (6) are Muslims. An average of 41 percent of respondents said Ahmadis were not; 38 percent (of Lebanese, the only nationality polled on this sect) said Alawis were not; and 58 percent of Indonesians rejected Islam Liberal members as Muslims. Relatedly, Muslims in 23 countries were asked whether Sufis (7) were Muslims; on average, 21 percent said they most decidely were NOT Muslims — ranging from a high of 44 percent in Egypt and Indonesia to a low of 6 percent in Thailand’s Muslim provinces. However, large percentages in each of these 23 countries also said that they either “had never heard” of Sufis, or “didn’t know” whether they were Muslims; and since Pew didn’t break that data out further, it’s safe to conclude that the percentage of Muslims who suspect Sufis are not really within the Islamic fold is much higher than 21 percent. This is important because Sufis still exist in large numbers in the Islamic world: majorities of Muslims in Senegal and Chad belong to Sufi order, as does over 25 percent of the Muslim population in nine other African countries; 26 percent of Bangladeshi, 17 percent of Pakistani, and 9 percent of Egyptian Muslims claims to be Sufis, as well. Thus, that would mean there are some 38 million Sufis in Bangladesh, 30 million in Pakistan and well over 6 million in Egypt. Historically, and still to this day, Salafists — Islamic fundamenalists who strive to emulate the “ancestors” of Muhammad’s time — dislike Sufis, and vice-versa. The daily news reports are rife with accounts of Islamic sects like the Ahmadis being persecuted by Muslims, as well as of Sufis and their beliefs being attacked by Salafists, Wahhabis, and/or jihadists, and sometimes fighting back. Yes, Christianity is divided into even more denominations and sects than is Islam — but since the Thirty Years War and the Enlightenment, Christians have abandoned killing each other in the name of their religion and, in fact, Western Christian civilization is the one among the world’s cultures that developed the idea of religious tolerance. Southern Baptists may doubt that Roman Catholics are true Christians, but they certainly don’t plant IEDs on the Catholics’ cars during Mass. Muslims and the Islamic cultural zone, however, are still mired in religious intolerance and, far too often, violence against their own sects — a sad reality which no amount of American occupation and constitution-writing will change. As I argued three years ago on HNN, the reigning Qur’anic exegetical paradigm in Islam is a literalist, fundamentalist one — and until that changes (something only Muslims can do), Muslim sectarian minorities have every reason to fear the (usually Sunni) majority far more than they do Christians, Hindus, Buddhists or even Jews.

Pew also asked Muslims in 23 countries whether they believed in jinn (8) and witchcraft. Fifty percent of Muslims are convinced the former exist, while 33 percent feel the same way about witchcraft. Regarding jinn, belief is highest in Morocco and Bangladesh (each over 80 percent); Malaysia, Tunisia, Pakistan and Lebanon (each over 70 percent); Egypt, Palestinian territories and Turkey (each over 60 percent). Furthermore, some 16 percent of Muslims overall claim that “they have experienced evil spirits [being] driven out of a person” — ranging from almost half of Ethiopian Muslims, to over 20 percent of Indonesians, Bangladeshis and Afghanis and even 11 percent of Palestinians, arguably the most Westernized of all the Arabs. As with Mahdism, the lowest percentages of belief on this issue were found in the former Soviet Central Asian republics: Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan. Did eight decades of Marxist occupation and indoctrination inoculate Central Asian Muslims against such beliefs? Or is some other factor at play in the ‘stans?

Pew finished the study with a few questions aimed at U.S. Muslims — the results of which hold some good news. Whereas six in ten of Muslims outside the US say there is only one true interpretation of Islam, only 37 percent of American Muslims believe that. While 80 percent of global Muslims believe that the Qur’an should be read literally, only half of Muslims in the U.S. agree. The first bit of data indicates that Muslims in America seem to have imbibed at the well of American religious tolerance far more than their foreign co-religionists. The latter information, while positive, is not all that reassuring, however; what it means is that while eight in ten of the world’s Muslims believe that a literal reading must be made of passages such as “behead the unbelievers,” (9) “beat your wives,” (10) and the infamous “Sword verse” of the Quran, “fight and slay the infidels wherever you find them,” (11) only half of the Muslims in America would go that far — not exactly a reason to celebrate.

Several real-world policy ramifications for the U.S. State and Defense departments, as well as the IC (Intelligence Community), can be drawn from this Pew study. First, a civilization laden with eschatological expectations AND a historical track record of militant movements motivated by messianic leaders, infused with intolerance toward its own schismatics, convinced of ongoing problems with demonic entities and witches and in thrall to a literalist reading of a violent religious text might not be amenable to rational actor theory in international relations. Second, political consolidation and/or jihadist movements led by self-styled Mahdis should be considered as real possibilities in the twenty-first century, especially as we approach key dates such as the hundred year mark from the dissolution of the Ottoman caliphate (2024) or the year 1500 of the Muslim calendar (2076) — since Mahdism, historically, clusters around such important dates which spark attempts to create rival caliphates, often violently. The vast geographic breadth, and suprising depth, of Mahdist belief in the Islamic ummah evidenced in this Pew data makes Mahdi-inspired movements, including jihads, quite plausible in the near future. Third, the Islamic Republic of Iran may not be pursuing a pipe dream by seeking de facto leadership of the Islamic world — especially once it has nuclear weapons (and short of U.S. Army and Marine boots on the ground, it is hard to see how Tehran’s quest for them can be stopped). An Atomic Ayatollah-ate will not only be seen as the strong horse in the region; it will thus be all that more convincing, as the self-styled “Mahdist state in microcosm,” in its appeals to the almost 700 million Muslims who are waiting on the Mahdi. Finally, the fact that Afghanistan and Iraq have the highest levels of Mahdist beliefs in the Islamic world tells us, very likely, that U.S. — “Christian, Crusader” — invasion and occupation, while ameliorating some problems (better roads, schools and hospitals, for example), greatly exacerbates another one: Muslim messianism and attendant jihadism. What does it profit an occupier if it gains new infrastructure, but loses the eschatological war.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=3998

670 MILLION MUSLIMS EXPECT MAHDI IN THEIR LIFETIME

Two-thirds of a billion Muslims expect the Mahdi – the last Islamic imam they believe will come and rule the world – to arrive in their lifetimes, according to a new Pew Research poll.

The results affirm the warnings from author Joel Richardson, whose just-released book “Mideast Beast” it moving up Amazon listings.

 

It’s a sequel to his New York Times bestselling 2009 “The Islamic Antichrist,” and it recently surged past Joel Rosenberg’s “Implosion: Can America Recover from its Economic and Spiritual Challenges in Time?” and “The End: A Complete Overview of Bible Prophecy and the End of Days” by Mark Hitchcock to claim the top spot in the Eschatology category on Amazon.

In a column written in WND, Richardson notes that he has been criticized repeatedly for believing many Muslims have a faith in the coming Mahdi, especially that there are a significant number who believe that will happen soon.

The survey by Pew Research notes that in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia and Southeast Asia, “half or more Muslims believe they will live to see the return of the Mahdi. This expectation is most widespread in Afghanistan (83 percent), Iraq (72 percent), Tunisia (67 percent) and Malaysia (62 percent).

The survey said that belief drops to about four-in-10 across Central Asia, except for Turkey, where 68 percent expect to witness his return. It drops slightly further across southern and eastern Europe.

“In some countries with sizable Sunni and Shi’a populations, views on the Mahdi’s return differ by sect. In Iraq, for example, Shi’as are more likely than Sunnis to expect the Mahdi to return in their lifetime, by an 88 percent to 55 percent margin. In Azerbaijan, the difference between the two groups is also large (25 percentage points),” the report said. “Differences between Shi’as and Sunnis on this issue may reflect the more central role that the Mahdi’s return plays in Shi’a Islam.”

The result? An estimated 672 million Muslims expect to witness the Mahdi’s return.

On his portrayal that such a belief is widespread, Richardson said, “I have certainly had my share of critics, not only from the pollyannas on the left, but also from within the Christian church.”

He said, for example, prophecy teacher and evangelist David Reagan has been vocal, saying, “Richardson’s presentation of what Muslims believe about the end times is very misleading, for what he presents is the Shi’ite version which revolves around the concept of an Islamic Messiah called the Mahdi. He leaves the impression that all the Islamic world is living in breathless anticipation of the appearance of the Mahdi, when the reality is that 90 percent of all Muslims – the Sunnis – are not looking for a Mahdi.”

Richardson said until now it’s been hard to refute any statements regarding the percentage of Muslims who await the Mahdi.

“Now, for the first time, a comprehensive study including tens of thousands of Muslims, in over 23 countries, were asked if they believed that the Mahdi’s emergence was imminent, that it would occur within their lifetimes. And the results conclusively prove that which I have been warning about all along,” he wrote.

           

Richardson explains that the false claim that only 10 percent of Muslims await the Mahdi may now be “put to bed.”

“The bottom line is that it is far worse, far more widespread than even I would have guessed,” he wrote.

And in Turkey, from which he believes the Antichrist will come, “68 percent of Turks, a large majority, are expecting the imminent appearance of the Mahdi.”

“Certainly the popularity of Mahdism within Turkey, when combined with the concurrent radical rise in (1) Turkish nationalism and Neo-Ottoman aspirations, and (2) anti-Semitism within Turkey, in so many ways, sets the stage for this nation to move toward fulfilling many of the last days prophecies of the Bible,” he wrote.

“Another important factor that I have been trying to make for years, is that although conventional wisdom has placed all emphasis on Iran as the nation that would produce a false Mahdi claimant (I say claimant, as there actually is no such thing as the Mahdi), the real danger has always lay with the Sunni world.

“The primary reason for this is because while the leaders of Iran regularly make a lot of noise concerning the the Mahdi – often referred to by them as the 12th Imam – there are some very strong reasons that it is highly unlikely that Iran will ever see a genuine Mahdi claimant figure arise. What outsiders must understand is that Iranian Muslim scholars have developed a very thorough systematic theology to essentially guard against any false Mahdi claimant from emerging. … I do not believe that Iran will ever produce Mahdi claimant who will ever be received widely by the leaders or the people of that nation.”

“In my book ‘Islamic Antichrist: The Shocking Truth about the Real Nature of the Beast,’ I walk the alert reader through the frightening world of Islamic apocalyptic views, comparing them with the biblical prophecies concerning the coming of the Antichrist, showing beyond any doubt that in the Islamic doctrine of the Mahdi, the world should in fact be very concerned. In my new book, ‘Mideast Beast,’ I demonstrate beyond any doubt, the scriptural case for an Islamic Antichrist. As always, it is time for the Christian world to wake up and fall to their knees in prayer. The hour is far later than most think.”

It was in “The Islamic Antichrist,” Richardson’ stunning research and analysis suggested that the biblical Antichrist and Islam’s primary messiah figure (the Mahdi) could be the same person. Now, taking a hard look at the most significant biblical end-time texts, “Mideast Beast” argues persuasively that the Antichrist, his empire and his religion will come from the Middle East and not Europe as has been widely taught by many modern prophecy teachers.

The Pew project reviewed what Muslims believe about angels, predestination or fate, the afterlife, heaven and hell (99 percent in Thailand believe in eternal punishment), the Mahdi’s imminent return and the return of Jesus, who many Muslims believe will deny Christianity and pledge allegiance to Allah.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=3987

Ethiopia And Sudan In Bible Prophecy

By Joel Richardson – “Open up nearly any English translation of the Bible and you will find numerous references to ‘Ethiopia.’ Many of these references place Ethiopia in a negative light. In the book of the prophet Ezekiel, for example, we find a prophetic oracle against Ethiopia, Egypt, Arabia, Libya and Turkey (Lud):

“A sword will come upon Egypt, and anguish will be in Ethiopia; when the slain fall in Egypt, they take away her wealth, And her foundations are torn down. Ethiopia, Put, Lud, all Arabia, Libya and the people of the land that is in league will fall with them by the sword.” (Ezekiel 30: 4-5)

Later in the infamous Gog of Magog oracle of Ezekiel 38 and 39, Ethiopia is included among the alliance of nations that are prophesied to invade the nation of Israel:

“Thus says the Lord GOD, ‘Behold, I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. I will turn you about and put hooks into your jaws, and I will bring you out, and all your army, horses and horsemen, all of them splendidly attired, a great company with buckler and shield, all of them wielding swords; Persia, Ethiopia and Put with them, all of them with shield and helmet.’” (Ezekiel 38: 3-5)

All of the nations of Ezekiel’s Gog oracle are destroyed. Is Ethiopia thus destined to be decimated by God?

Far from it. The truth is that the modern-day nation of Ethiopia is largely unrelated to the Ethiopia mentioned by Ezekiel. The translation of ‘Cush’ as ‘Ethiopia’ is actually quite misleading. Yet as a result of this widely used, but faulty translation, the poor Ethiopian people today, one of the most ancient, noble and largely Christian cultures in the earth, have gotten a seriously bad rap.

How did this confusion come about? The Hebrew word translated as Ethiopia is ‘Cush.’ Cush was the son of Ham and grandson of Noah. Many of Cush’s descendants settled in the region of southern Egypt, from Aswan to the place where the Nile River meets the Blue and White Nile rivers. The confusion comes from the historical name swap between Ethiopia and Abyssinia. The region the Bible refers to as Cush became known as Nubia, which the Greeks called Aithiopia. But today this region is southern Egypt and Northern Sudan. On the other hand, the ancient region of Abyssinia was much more southeast. This is where modern Ethiopia is now located. In others words, ancient Abyssinia is modern Ethiopia and ancient Aithiopia is modern-day North Sudan.

Because of this confusion, many students of prophecy are awaiting the Christian majority nation of Ethiopia to join with the Islamic alliance described in Ezekiel 38 and 39 [ICA: See related article here]. But a correct understanding of the name Cush points us to North Sudan, not Ethiopia.

Modern Day North Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia and surrounding nations. The grey oval around the three Nile rivers represents ancient Cush, which most Bibles translate as “Ethiopia.” The Green nations of Ethiopia and Eritrea were called Abyssinia in ancient times and do not correlate to the biblical Cush.

But the judgment prophecies of Ezekiel concerning Cush/Ethiopia do not merely point us to the Sudan in general, but specifically North Sudan. From the perspective of biblical prophecy, this is all very significant. The recent cessation of South Sudan is a significant development, bringing greater clarity to Ezekiel’s prophecies. The biblical region of Cush was centered at Meroe where the Nile river meets the White Nile and the Blue Nile, roughly 75 miles northeast of the city of Khartoum, the capital city of North Sudan. Today, an ideological and military Islamist alliance is already forming against Israel, which includes the Islamic nation of North Sudan and Libya. These two nations represent the southern branch of Ezekiel’s Gog alliance.

But while North Sudan is well-known as an Islamist stronghold, South Sudan has a significant Christian population. And beyond having a large Christian population, like Ethiopia, South Sudan also has a large number of believers whose faith has many distinctly Messianic-Jewish characteristics. Many of these Christian groups trace their roots back to the early Messianic Jewish communities. And many of these Messianic believers are also supporters of Israel who would have no part in an invasion of the Jewish state.

While this may seem a bit academic, there are actually a few essential lessons here. First, it is imperative to accurately understand what nations and regions the ancient names in Scripture are pointing us to. Beyond this, an accurate understanding of what the prophets are actually saying helps the church as we seek to join with the Lord’s purposes. Understanding these prophecies will help Christians determine where to allocate their time, resources, energy and money. Where we direct our intercessory prayers and which missionaries and ministries we choose to support should all be influenced by what we believe the Lord is doing today in the earth. It is imperative that the church aligns its purposes with what the Lord is doing in the earth now.

Today the new nation of South Sudan is deeply in need of prayer, rebuilding and overcoming the effects of war. Beyond this, the ravaging effects of decades of United Nations miseducation has devastated families and actually ruined the faith of tens of thousands. Meanwhile, both South Sudan and Ethiopia are at the front lines of the radical Islamic agenda to exterminate the ancient African Christian communities. While some students of prophecy today, due to the outdated and misleading translations found in most Bibles, are simply sitting back waiting for Ethiopia and South Sudan to join a forthcoming anti-Zionist, Islamist invasion of Israel, those who know the truth will understand that now is the moment for the global church to rise up and stand with these beautiful shining gems that are the Christian communities of South Sudan and Ethiopia.” Source – WND.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=3980

BILLY GRAHAM: ‘FINAL CALL’ FOR AMERICA TO REPENT

 

Believing God will allow him to live to 95, famed evangelist Billy Graham is making his “final call to America to turn to God.”

Timed to coincide with his 95th birthday, Graham is calling people in the United States and Canada to repentance as part of the “My Hope with Billy Graham” evangelistic outreach set for the week of Nov. 7, 2013.

Unlike his famous stadium crusades over the past six decades, Graham is asking Christians to invite family, friends and neighbors to their homes to watch the “Living Room Crusade” on their televisions, tablets or smartphones as part of a massive grassroots effort to ignite a spiritual awakening in North America.

In what is expected to be the largest undertaking in its 60-plus year history, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association hopes to mobilize millions of Christians to register as host “Matthews” at www.myhopewithbillygraham.org and undergo training to learn how to share their faith with others.

“We have seen God visit our nation in powerful and transformational ways in the past,” Preston Parrish, vice president of “My Hope with Billy Graham,” told WND.com. “We are praying this will be a real moment of revival and awakening and transformation across our nation.”

The announcement comes as Graham – whom Parrish described as “very sharp and keen mentally” at age 93 – released a letter last month entitled, “My Heart Aches for America.” In the letter, Graham recalled how his late wife Ruth once expressed concerns about the “terrible downward spiral of our nation’s moral standards” – exclaiming, “If God doesn’t punish America, He’ll have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.”

Graham wondered what his wife would think of America today – noting millions of babies have since been aborted and “self-centered indulgence, pride and a lack of shame over sin are now emblems of the American lifestyle.”

“My heart aches for America and its deceived people,” wrote Graham, who has preached to more people – 2.2 billion – than any other Protestant in history and has provided spiritual counsel to every president from Harry S. Truman to George W. Bush. He received Barack Obama in his home in 2010.

“The wonderful news is that our Lord is a God of mercy, and He responds to repentance. In Jonah’s day, Nineveh was the lone world superpower – wealthy, unconcerned and self-centered. When the prophet Jonah finally traveled to Nineveh and proclaimed God’s warning, people heard and repented. I believe the same thing can happen once again, this time in our nation.”

Anne Gimenez, the national chairperson of America for Jesus – The Awakening, says similar revivals have occurred in the past in America and Europe during other times of declining morality and spiritual darkness.

“I think Billy Graham’s idea is genius,” says Gimenez, whose organization expects hundreds of thousands of people to gather at Independence Mall in Philadelphia, Pa., Sept. 28 and 29 to pray for another Great Awakening in the United States. For more information, log onto www.afj2012.org. “We’ve been waiting for an idea that would spark America into revival and perhaps this is it.

“America and the world seem to be in a state of growing apostasy and unbelief. Atheism and agnosticism is growing by leaps and bounds. In history, when there is great darkness engulfing the world, there is also the opportunity for a great light to come – the gospel light. And so at this time when we seem to be spiraling downward into spiritual darkness, it is the ideal and opportune time for a great spiritual awakening.”

Graham’s letter comes as a growing number of spiritual and political leaders have made similar calls for repentance, stressing that the nation is in a downward spiral of economic decline, corruption, immorality, secular humanism and attacks on religious liberty.

Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, the author of the New York Times bestselling book, “The Harbinger – The Ancient Mystery that holds the Secret of America’s Future,” says the fact Graham released the letter at “this point in his life” and “at this moment in America is very significant.”

“Billy Graham has been a pastor to presidents and the most famous evangelist in the world for the past several generations. For such a word to come from such a voice is stunning,” says Cahn, the senior rabbi at the nation’s largest messianic congregation, the Beth Israel Worship Center in Wayne, N.J. “He is giving the nation a prophetic warning.”

“His words match the overcall message and call of ‘The Harbinger,’ that America is in rapid departure from God and His ways – that it now stands in danger of judgment and the signs that appeared in judgment of Israel are now reappearing on American soil. And yet no matter how dark it gets, there is still hope for mercy and room for redemption, but that redemption can only come through the repentance and prayers of God’s people.

“The other thing that’s striking about Billy Graham’s warning is that it comes at the same time when believers across the nation are sensing this very same thing and when leaders are increasingly calling for prayer and intercession for America. ‘The Harbinger’ ends with a call for prayer, repentance, and revival among God’s people. That all these things are converging at the same time is significant.”

In fact, the most in-demand Christian video around today is “Isaiah 9:10 Judgment,” the video that explains the message from “The Harbinger.”

The Graham crusade also comes as several organizations are planning prayer gatherings, evangelistic festivals and other events over the next year.

Starting Sept. 28 and continuing through Nov. 6, 40 Days to Save America is calling for repentance, prayer and fasting in the 40 days prior to the presidential election. For more information, log into http://40daystosaveamerica.com.

This event and others follow The Response when Texas Gov. Rick Perry declared Aug. 6, 2011, a day of prayer, fasting and repentance. He invited fellow governors to attend the event at Reliant Stadium – saying it was time to “convene the leaders of each of our United States in a day of prayer and fasting, like that described in the book of Joel.”

Luis Cataldo, the director of The Response and an intercessory missionary at the International House of Prayer, says when a “father of the faith like Billy Graham” issues a letter of this magnitude it has to be taken seriously.

“When he says America is in trouble, we have to repent,” Cataldo says. “He’s gone through global wars as a spiritual shepherd. He’s seen a bunch of stuff and he’s saying America, ‘We have to repent.’ This may be our last chance to repent. We’ve turned away from God and God is just, loving and right to bring judgment.”

Even more significantly, Cataldo says, God is now awakening the church through a convergence of political and spiritual leaders calling the nation to prayer, fasting and repentance.

“It’s almost as though the Lord is trying to awaken the church and is now bypassing the church and going to government officials,” Cataldo says. “Gov. Perry, (Kansas) Gov. Sam Brownback and other leading government officials are calling for Joel 2 solemn assemblies. They are doing it because there is a spiritual crisis in America.”

Billy Wilson, executive director of the Awakening America Alliance and the Center for Spiritual Renewal, says the alliance representing a coalition of 300 Pentecostal and charismatic ministers is partnering with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association as it prepares for the crusade.

“We are very excited about Dr. Graham”s desire to speak at this stage in his life to our nation,” Wilson says. “Obviously, Dr. Graham’s voice in America is one of the strongest of perhaps the last two generations of Christians. We are honored to partner with him and ‘My Hope with Billy Graham.’”

At this time, Wilson says America finds itself in perhaps the place of greatest spiritual need in its history.

“We find ourselves in a 21st century world where in many ways our future and destiny is at stake,” Wilson says. “Really, the only hope for America is God’s grace and His covering over our nation. That only comes when God’s people humble themselves and pray, and sometimes we forget the last one – turn from our wicked ways. The call for righteousness among Christians and the church in America should be very strong in every pulpit across the nation right now.”

“My Hope with Billy Graham” is a massive effort to reach people across the United States and Canada with the “good news of God’s love,” Parrish says.

Since 2002, Graham’s son, Franklin, and grandson, Will Graham, have spoken at “My Hope” evangelistic festivals in 57 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. More than 305,000 churches have participated and more than 10 million decisions for Jesus have been recorded

“Now, in 2013, there is a broad sense of conviction and urgency about the timeliness of this important project in the U.S. and Canada,” Parrish says. “We want to help people in North America understand in a fresh way the love God has for them and the forgiveness and eternal life he offers them in the person of Jesus Christ.”

Following a simple biblical model, the outreach combines the reach and excitement of a nationwide media event with the power of personal relationships. Under the guidance of their local pastors, Christians across these two countries will open their homes to share the Gospel message with friends, family, colleagues and neighbors using different media programs featuring Graham’s message, popular music and real-life testimonies.

“The idea is part of the biblical pattern for us as Christians to be showing God’s love to the people around us,” Parrish says. “The most loving thing we can do for someone else is not only to give them food and water, but to give them the message that has given us hope for eternal life.”

The outreach is modeled after the biblical story of Matthew. After accepting Jesus’ call to follow Him, Matthew invited friends into his house to meet the person who changed his life, Like the Apostle Matthew, Christians in North America will invite their guests into their homes to learn about Jesus using prime-time television, while others will gather at a coffee shop or the park to watch the program on a tablet or smartphone. They will then share their own story of how they met Jesus and invite their friends to pray to receive Jesus. Each host will follow up with new believers and encourage them to become part of a local church.

With “My Hope with Billy Graham” and other events and outreaches planned in the coming months, Wilson says he has great hope for the spiritual future of North America.

“We may be on the edge of a new Great Awakening right now, to be honest,” Wilson says. “Though things look dark, that has always been true in America before every great spiritual movement. This was true before the First Great Awakening, the Second Great Awakening and the other awakenings. In that darkness, God’s people united in prayer to turn the tide. If we unite together in prayer, I believe we can see a new Great Awakening and I believe what Dr. Graham is trying to do can be very effective – but only if God’s people really humble themselves, pray and repent in this season.”

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The Crown of Righteousness

 

In many churches, those members who study Bible prophecy are relegated to the lunatic fringe or dismissed out-of-hand for wasting their time trying to divine the future.

The Bible says that there are other rewards, or crowns, set aside for those that dedicate themselves to Christ in a number of different theological disciplines.

Not so. Christians that study prophecy are not trying to “divine the future” – they are earning the “Crown of Righteousness” promised to all those that love His appearing. (2 Timothy 4:8)

The Judgment Seat of Christ is the place where all of the deeds that individuals have done after they have become Christians are revealed and examined to determine whether they be good works or whether they be bad.

Let me emphasize that the word “bad” refers not to sin, but to deeds that are worthless according to His purpose.  Whether or not they were sin is irrelevant – all sin is forgiven at the Cross — but every deed has consequences.

The Bema Seat evaluation, therefore, is based upon whether the works that have been done are worthwhile or whether they are worthless.

The Greek word translated as the ‘judgment seat’ of Christ is the Greek word ‘bema’.  During the Greek Olympics of Paul’s day, the judge would sit on the ‘Bema Seat’ situated along the finish line.  His judgment was to determine who won the gold, who won the silver, who won the bronze, who came in fourth, fifth, etc.

Note that the only ones judged at the Bema Seat are those who cross the finish line.

The Bema Seat is reserved for believers — those who successfully completed the ‘race’ and specifically to determine their running order and to award their prizes.  Unbelievers will be judged at the Great White Throne.

Scripture teaches that after these works are judged, rewards will be given if the works are worthy. There will be no rewards if the works were unworthy — but that is not the same thing as being condemned.  

“If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but HE HIMSELF SHALL BE SAVED; yet so as by fire.” (1st Corinthians 3:15)

Salvation is based on whether or not you trust that Jesus Christ made full payment for your sins, as He promised He would.  While we will stand before the Judge as judicially ‘righteous’ — that righteousness is Christ’s alone.

But it is freely offered to whosoever will accept it by faith.

Once we stand before the Bema Seat, our rewards are determined — not our punishment.  Our punishment, although richly deserved, has already been borne by our Savior.  Now, we are judged according to our works on behalf of the kingdom.

There are those who argue, “You know, I don’t think we ought to talk about our rewards.  We ought to serve the Lord just because we love Him.”

I agree.  We ought to serve Him because we love Him, but we have every right and reason in the world to strive to warn our rewards.

Our rewards are based on our works – but not our salvation.

“If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.” (2 Corinthians 3:14)

First, let’s look at the different crowns available to the believer.  There is the ‘incorruptible crown’ — what one might term a crown of self-denial. 1st Corinthians 9:24-27 teaches:

“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”

Not everybody will receive the crown of self-denial.  Each of us is gifted with certain strengths according to some predetermined purpose of God.  In other words, some things are harder for some than they are for others — according to God’s purposes — not our own.

We are judged according to how hard we try.

“Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.” (1st Corinthians 12:4-7)

There is also the Crown of Rejoicing — the ‘Soul Winner’s Crown’.

 “Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord.” Note that Paul is addressing people as a ‘crown’. He is saying to those whom Paul has led to Christ, “You are my joy now and you will be my crown by and by.” (Philippians 4:1)

“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?”

Translated literally, it reads, “are not even you, in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ when we stand before Him?”

“One of these days,” the Apostle says, “we are all going to stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ, and when we stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ, you Philippians, and you Thessalonians, are all going to be elements of my crown.”

It is difficult for us to think of people in terms of a crown, but Paul emphasizes that the Philippians and the Thessalonians, among others, are the crown which he expects as an award to him at the Judgment Seat of Christ.”

James 1:12 identifies the ‘Crown of Life’: “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love Him.”

Notice the word “temptation.”  That is a broad word.  Sometimes it means a solicitation to evil–that is, you are tempted to commit murder, or you are tempted to commit adultery.  It is a solicitation to evil.  Sometimes it is a reference to a test that God permits you to go through as a kind of ‘refinement by fire’.

The Lord Himself also speaks of the Crown of Life reward, promising: “be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”

‘Faithful unto death’ is not a condition of salvation — salvation comes by grace through faith in the efficacy of Jesus’ sacrifice for sin at the Cross.  Keep in mind that the only ones that will stand before the Bema Seat are ALREADY saved by grace.

The Crown of Endurance won’t be given to every believer — the Scriptures say of even those who receive NO crowns, as previously noted, “he shall suffer loss: but HE HIMSELF SHALL BE SAVED; yet so as by fire.”

There is the Crown of Glory — the crown of the ‘undershepherd’ or the ‘pastor’s crown’.

“The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” (1st Peter 5:1-4)

Not every pastor or undershepherd will receive this crown, either. There are those who will fail the test of ‘willing service’ or those who set themselves up as ‘lords over God’s heritage’ instead of being examples to their flocks, or those who fail to feed their charges with God’s Word.

Finally, there is the Crown of Righteousness.

“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the Righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.” (2nd Timothy 1:8)

Those who study prophecy, those who dedicate themselves as watchmen on the wall, ready to give the warning of His soon appearing, will receive the Crown of Righteousness from the Righteous Judge at the Bema Seat.

Literally, the Crown of Righteousness means ‘a crown for doing right.’ Paul is saying, “I have loved the appearing of the Lord.  Because I have loved the appearing of the Lord, I have fought a good fight; I have finished the course; I have kept the faith.”

Note what Paul did NOT say.  He did NOT say, “If you keep the faith, you will receive the Crown of Righteousness.”  Instead, he says, “If you love His appearing, you will.”

Personally, I am not certain that I will receive the crown of self-denial.  I am not too sure that I keep my body under control enough to deserve this reward.

I am not too sure I will win the soul winner’s crown, although it is one I really, really hope to earn.

I am not sure that I will get the Crown of Glory — as an undershepherd, I have many shortcomings.

I pray for the Crown of Life for enduring life’s trials — but I am not certain that I have endured them with the long-suffering love of Christ as I should.

So I am not sure about that one, either.

But I am hopeful of the Crown of Righteousness — it is the easiest one to get.  My righteousness is not my own, but that of Christ’s, and my love of His soon appearing is an all-consuming passion.

The point to it all is this: We will all one day stand before the Bema Seat — but the Bema Seat is where we are judged for our rewards.

Whether or not I receive all — or even any — of the rewards that are available to me as a believer, I have the certain assurance that, even if I suffer loss, I will still enter heaven, even if it is ‘as if by fire’.

And so will all those who have trusted Jesus for their salvation.

“Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are your’s.”

“And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.” (2 Corinthians 3:22,23)

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