Category: Antichrist

ALERT: Pope Benedict to Resign

In addition to the story below please also go to the Prophecy Studies page and study up on the False Prophet presentation as to why this is so significant.

 

Pope Benedict to Resign

 Monday, 11 Feb 2013 06:06 AM

Pope Benedict XVI said Monday he lacks the strength to fulfill his duties and on Feb. 28 will become the first pontiff in 600 years to resign. The announcement sets the stage for a conclave in March to elect a new leader for world’s 1 billion Catholics.

The 85-year-old Pope announced the bombshell in Latin during a meeting of Vatican cardinals, surprising even his closest collaborators, even though Benedict had made clear in the past he would step down if he became too old or infirm to do the job.

Benedict called his choice “a decision of great importance for the life of the church.”

Indeed, the move allows the Vatican to hold a conclave before Easter to elect a new Pope, since the traditional mourning time that would follow the death of a Pope doesn’t have to be observed.

It will also allow Benedict to hold great sway over the choice of his successor. He has already hand-picked the bulk of the College of Cardinals — the princes of the church who will elect the next Pope — to guarantee his conservative legacy and ensure an orthodox future for the church.

There are several papal contenders in the wings, but no obvious front-runner — the same situation when Benedict was elected pontiff in 2005 after the death of Pope John Paul II.

The Vatican stressed that no specific medical condition prompted Benedict’s decision, but in recent years, the Pope has slowed down significantly, cutting back his foreign travel and limiting his audiences. He now goes to and from the altar in St. Peter’s Basilica on a moving platform, to spare him the long walk down the aisle. Occasionally he uses a cane.

His 89-year-old brother, Georg Ratzinger, said doctors had recently advised the Pope not to take any more trans-Atlantic trips.

“His age is weighing on him,” Ratzinger told the dpa news agency. “At this age my brother wants more rest.”

Benedict emphasized that carrying out the duties of being Pope — the leader of more than a billion Roman Catholics worldwide — requires “both strength of mind and body.”

“After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths due to an advanced age are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry,” he told the cardinals.

“In order to govern the [ship] of St. Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary — strengths which, in the last few months, have deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me,” he said.

Popes are allowed to resign; church law specifies only that the resignation be “freely made and properly manifested.” But only a handful have done it.

The last Pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII, who stepped down in 1415 in a deal to end the Great Western Schism among competing papal claimants. The most famous resignation was Pope Celestine V in 1294; Dante placed him in hell for it.

When Benedict was elected at age 78, he was the oldest Pope chosen in nearly 300 years. At the time, he had already been planning to retire as the Vatican’s chief orthodoxy watchdog to spend his final years writing in the “peace and quiet” of his native Bavaria.

On Monday, Benedict said he would serve the church for the remainder of his days “through a life dedicated to prayer.” The Vatican said immediately after his resignation that Benedict would go to Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer retreat south of Rome, and then would live in a cloistered monastery.

Contenders to be his successor include Cardinal Angelo Scola, archbishop of Milan; Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, the archbishop of Vienna; and Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the Canadian head of the Vatican’s office for bishops.

Long shots include Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York. Although Dolan is popular and backs the Pope’s conservative line, the general thinking is that the Catholic Church doesn’t need a Pope from a “superpower.”

Given half of the world’s Catholics live in the global south, there will once again be arguments for a Pope to come from the developing world.

Cardinal Antonio Tagle, the archbishop of Manila, has impressed many Vatican watchers, but at 56 and having only been named a cardinal last year, he is considered too young.

Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson of Ghana is one of the highest-ranking African cardinals at the Vatican, currently heading the Vatican’s office for justice and peace, but he’s something of a wild card.

All cardinals under age 80 are allowed to vote in the conclave, the secret meeting held in the Sistine Chapel where cardinals cast ballots to elect a new Pope. As per tradition, the ballots are burned after each voting round; black smoke that snakes out of the chimney means no Pope has been chosen, while white smoke means a Pope has been elected.

The pontiff had been due to attend World Youth Day in July in Rio de Janeiro; by then his successor will have been named and will presumably make the trip.

Benedict himself raised the possibility of resigning if he were simply too old or sick to continue on, when he was interviewed in 2010 for the book “Light of the World.”

“If a Pope clearly realizes that he is no longer physically, psychologically and spiritually capable of handling the duties of his office, then he has a right, and, under some circumstances, also an obligation to resign,” Benedict said.

The former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had an intimate view as Pope John Paul II, with whom he had worked closely for nearly a quarter-century, suffered through the debilitating end of his papacy.

The announcement took the Vatican — and the rest of the world — by surprise.

Several cardinals on Monday didn’t even understand what Benedict had said during the consistory, said the Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman. Others who did were stunned.

“All the cardinals remained shocked and were looking at each other,” said Monsignor Oscar Sanchez of Mexico, who was in the room when Benedict made his announcement.

Benedict was born April 16, 1927, in Marktl Am Inn, in Bavaria, but his father, a policeman, moved frequently and the family left when he was 2.

In his memoirs, Benedict dealt what could have been a source of controversy had it been kept secret — that he was enlisted in the Nazi youth movement against his will when he was 14 in 1941, when membership was compulsory. He said he was soon let out because of his studies for the priesthood. Two years later he was drafted into a Nazi anti-aircraft unit as a helper. He deserted the German army in April 1945, in the waning days of the war.

He called it prophetic that a German followed a Polish pope — with both men coming from such different sides of World War II.

Benedict was ordained, along with his brother, in 1951. After spending several years teaching theology in Germany, he was appointed bishop of Munich in 1977 and elevated to cardinal three months later by Pope Paul VI.

John Paul named him leader of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1981 and he took up his post a year later. Following John Paul’s death in 2005, he was elected Pope on April 19 in one of the fastest conclaves in history, just about 24 hours after the voting began.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4757

UN Representative Calls For Establishing A ‘World Capital’–In Islamic Istanbul

The world needs a global capital and it should be the capital of Islamic Turkey, Istanbul, according to a UN special representative. Richard Falk, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, wrote a Nov. 1, 2012, opinion piece for the controversial al Jazeera English site calling for a “global capital” because of integration “by markets, by globally constituted battlefields, by changing geopolitical patterns.”

While Turkey is a longstanding U.S. ally and a member of NATO, its nearly 80 million population is 99.8 percent Muslim, according to the CIA Factbook. Its Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has had several run-ins with Israel over access to Gaza. In March, he urged Israel to “stop the brutal attack against Palestinians and stop the massacre and bloodshed.”

The U.S. Embassy in Turkey sent out an “emergency message” for U.S. citizens in September warning of “a planned anti-American march/protest” in Istanbul. The march was tied to protests against the YouTube video claimed by critics to be anti-Islamic. “The Department of State strongly recommends avoiding the march/protest location as well as any other large crowds that may gather in Istanbul to protest against the controversial video that has created other demonstrations throughout the world,” explained the warning.

Falk recommended what al Jazeera called a “modest proposal” that should move the world past “the persisting tendency is to view the hierarchy of global cities from a West-centric perspective: London, New York, Paris, Los Angeles placed in the first rank.” Along with his UN duties, he is the Albert G. Milbank Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University and Visiting Distinguished Professor in Global and International Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Falk said there were two sides on where to locate such a capital – hard and soft power dynamics. He defined hard power as a view “that history is principally made by those who prevail in warfare, and little else.”

His description of soft power included “culture, political vitality, religious identity and ethics shapes and forms what unfolds.” He listed “several factors” why to choose Istanbul. Those included the city as a tourist destination, it has “also become a secure and acceptable place to hold the most delicate diplomatic discussions,” it is convenient, and Turkey has “gained economic and political credibility at a time when so many important states have either been treading water so as to remain afloat.”

He credited Turkey for “achieving a stable interface between secular principles and religious freedom” and for “moving away from the ‘over-secularizsation.'” Falk said choosing Istanbul as a world capital would be good because Turkey could provide the “satisfactions of a post-Western world civilization.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4357

Building a Throne in the Middle East

 

The Turkish AK Party is on the verge of altering the balance of power in the Middle East. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan could soon be recognized as the most powerful man in the region.

Erdogan is campaigning to merge the offices of Turkey’s president and prime minister. Currently, the Turkish presidency is a ceremonial role with some judicial appointments, but the president also has the power to call for referenda, appoint the chief of the Turkish military and to mobilize the Turkish military. However, the chief of the general staff is the effective commander in chief, with the president only having a figurehead role. That could change.

The prime minister is the head of government, leader of Parliament and the driver of the legislative agenda. He also coordinates the foreign policy of the government but is limited by the powers of Parliament and the need to seek approval in advance for many initiatives. Erdogan has been open about his admiration of French and U.S.-style executive power.

The similarity between Erdogan and another regional strongman have not gone unnoticed. Islamism expert and Turkey observer Joel Richardson has noted the danger.

“No doubt, Turkey has found its Putin. One notable difference, however, is that Erdogan is loved both within and outside of his home country. While some have said that in Putin, a new czar has emerged, it’s actually much more accurate to say that in Erdogan, a new caliph has emerged. Even Khaled Meshaal, the exiled political leader of Hamas, recently stated, ‘Erdogan, you are not only a leader in Turkey now, you are a leader in the Muslim world as well.’”

Mr. Erdogan has pursued his goals relentlessly. When the AK Party did not win the two-thirds majority in Parliament necessary to unilaterally rewrite the Turkish constitution, it settled for a less ambitious amendment project and won a 2010 referendum, which enhanced the powers of the party but included minor reforms that pleased European Union observers. In 2007 the party pushed through the switch from a parliamentary vote for the presidency to a popular one and allowed presidents a second term.

Now, even without the merged powers of the prime minister’s office, the future presidents of Turkey will have increased influence through a personal mandate from the voters. Additionally, the 2007 changes forbid former presidents from seeking popular election, which – coincidentally, I’m sure – leaves Erdogan with a smaller pool of credible rivals but allows the prime minister to run without resigning from his office prior to the election. However, Erdogan must achieve his goals soon; he recently won his third term as head of the AK Party, which bans fourth terms for its leaders. Erdogan has announced that he will keep his word to leave the premiership in 2015. If, however, the presidency is reshaped in time for presidential elections in 2014, the prime minister may have a better job to go to anyway.

There is a fear that the Iranian regime and its terrorist network are in a position to seize hegemony in the Middle East. With its influence in Syria and Lebanon, it is believed that Iran is positioning itself to build a petro-terrorist empire. However, the Iranian clerics are not in a position to challenge Turkey. If they were to try, I believe that the tale of the tape is weighted in Turkey’s favor.

As a member of NATO the Turkish military has received American military technology and boasts a modern command-and-control structure. Additionally, the Turkish economy has grown by an average of over 5 percent for a decade, a record that is the envy of the United States and Western Europe. Turkey and Iran are nearly equal in population, with 79 million people in Turkey and 78 million in Iran. But the Turkish GDP is $770 billion while the poorer Iranians make do with $330 billion. Richardson has emphasized the scale of Turkish economic ambition, highlighting the fact that “Prime Minister Erdogan has recently announced plans to renovate a massive section of Istanbul as an international banking center that will compete with Dubai.”

Economics do not reveal the entirety of Iranian disadvantage, however. As always in Middle Eastern calculations, the religious element must be considered. While the populations are equal, the Turkish population is 75 percent ethnic Turkish, while only 53 to 61 percent of Iranians are Persian. Additionally, 20 percent of Iranians are members of various Turkic ethnic groups sharing cultural and linguistic ties with Turkey. Further, while 99 percent of Turkish citizens are Sunni, the Shia population of Iran is an 89 percent majority with a not-to-be-ignored 10 percent Sunni minority. The Sunni Arab states – with the significant exception of Shia-dominated Iraq – are more likely to accept Turkish leadership over Iranian Shia dominance.

Mr. Erdogan has a firm foundation on which to build Turkish hegemony. Could the Iranians accept Turkish power? Maybe. It is not impossible for them to experience a “revelation” that allows for Shia-Persian and Sunni-Turkish rapprochement. In any event the Iranians will recognize that if the Sunnis support Turkey, al-Qaida and other allied groups could match Hezbollah and other Iranian proxies in terrorist lethality. The AK Party and Prime Minister Erdogan’s time is coming.

Joel Richardson agrees: “There is no question that in the chess match for regional dominance, Turkey is about to place Iran in checkmate. While Iran’s economy is buckling under the pressure of sanctions, the Iranian regime is struggling to appear confident while fighting to avoid a free fall into hyper-inflation. Meanwhile, Turkey’s economy is roaring. The final straw that will break Iran’s back and set in motion the final shift toward Turkey’s ascendancy will be the fall of Basshar Assad’s Alawite regime that functions as an Iranian proxy. In the absence of an Iranian pawn in Syria, Erdogan will no doubt extend his Sunni paternal hand of assistance to the newly forming government. All of this together will guarantee Turkey’s dominance over the Middle East.”

Richardson’s appraisal of potential counterbalances to Turkey in the Arab counties is bleak: “After Iran falls under Turkey’s growing umbrella of power, only Egypt and Saudi Arabia will remain.” This outcome would render U.S. hegemony in the Middle East untenable. Neither would China or Russia be able to take America’s place without military intervention. In either case, if Turkey can stabilize its hegemony, it would be able to defeat any attempt at interventionism.

Turkey is unhindered in its rise. Europe and North America are largely blind to the danger. The Western diplomatic establishment – including the U.S. leadership – continues to see Turkey through the pre-2002 paradigm that existed before the AK Party took over. They view Turkey as a model for Muslim democracy. They should be reminded that Erdogan was jailed by Turkey’s secular authorities – and initially banned from taking office as prime minister – for inciting religious hatred with the words “the mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers. …”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4265

A Critique Of The Preterist Interpretation Of Daniel 2 & 7

Another Joel Richardson classic!

A Critique Of The Preterist Interpretation Of Daniel 2 & 7

10/07/2012

By Joel Richardson – “In the second chapter of the Book of the Prophet Daniel, we are introduced to King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of a massive metallic statue:

“You saw, O king, and behold, a great image. This image, mighty and of exceeding brightness, stood before you, and its appearance was frightening. The head of this image was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay.” —Daniel 2:31-33

The statue, we are then told, represents a series of historical kingdoms or empires. Daniel informs the king that the first component of the statue, that of gold, represents the historical Babylonian Empire, which Nebuchadnezzar ruled over. Scholars and commentators are in general agreement that the next three empires represented by the respective metals of silver, bronze, and Iron are the Medo-Persian, Greek and Roman empires. Though this is the majority position, in my book, Mideast Beast, I demonstrate that the descriptions of the kingdom of Iron laid out within the text align perfectly with the historical Islamic Caliphate, and not with the Roman Empire. Though this view will likely be met with skepticism by those who have not yet considered the exegetical and historical arguments in support of this view, what is unarguable is that during the final days of the fourth kingdom of iron, a stone suddenly appears and strikes the feet of the statue, causing the entire statue to shatter:

As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hand, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. —Daniel 2:34

Commentators of all persuasions identify the stone as representing the Messianic Kingdom of God here on the earth. As the stone shatters the statue, the fragments are seen to blow away as dry chaff in the Autumn winds. The stone however, is seen to grow and spread, until it fills the entire earth:

Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found. But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth. —Daniel 2:35

Later, in Daniel 7, we are given further details concerning the timing of this victory of the Kingdom of God over pagan earthly governments. There, we are told that it will come after a period of intense persecution, even near complete victory, by the final empire, against the saints:

“I kept looking, and that horn was waging war with the saints and overpowering them until the Ancient of Days came and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom.” —Daniel 7:21-22

This is essential to note. The timing of the coming of the Messianic Kingdom of God is placed in the midst of an intense period of great persecution against ‘the saints of the Highest One’. It is not until after this period of great tribulation that the saints then come to possess the Kingdom of God.

The Futurist versus the Preterist Interpretation

Among Christian interpreters, there exists disagreement concerning the nature and timing of the stone striking the statue. Those who take the Futurist position understand this event to remain yet in the future. The feet of mixed iron and clay represent a secondary, distinct and final manifestation of the empire or iron—the final Antichrist empire—which will be utterly destroyed when Jesus returns. The stone, of course, represents the second coming of Jesus the Messiah, whose kingdom will then come to dominate the whole world.

Alternately, the Preterist interpretation sees the feet of mixed iron and clay to simply be one with the legs of iron. To the preterist, there exists no distinction between the legs of iron and the feet of mixed iron and mixed clay. The stone that strikes the feet represents the first coming of Jesus with his invisible, spiritual kingdom. Preterists would claim that the legs and feet represent the historical Roman Empire, which was conquered by the coming of the invisible Kingdom of God. Today, this spiritual kingdom is spreading throughout the earth.

The purpose of this article is to very briefly discuss some of the more obvious failures of the Preterist interpretation of Daniel 2 & 7.

The Five Components of the Statue

The first problem with the Preterist view of Daniel 2 is its inability to account for the two-fold division of the fourth kingdom between the legs and feet. Although the passage speaks of ‘four kingdoms’, when one analyzes the structure of the passage, the statue is seen to be divided into five distinct components. There is both a continuity and a division between the legs of iron and the feet of iron and clay. Consider the following structure of the text translated literally, word for word, in exact order:

The Image Head Fine Gold Breast Arms Silver Belly Thigh Brass Legs Iron Feet Part Iron Part Clay. —Daniel 2:32,33

The following chart demonstrates the organization and structure of the passage, again with the words maintaining their exact order:

Body Part / Element
——————————
Head / Fine Gold
Breast Arms / Silver
Belly Thighs / Brass
Legs / Iron
Feet / Part Iron – Part Clay

Because the Preterist position is unable to satisfactorily account for the clear distinction between the legs of iron and the feet of mixed iron and clay, it is forced to argue that the feet merely represent a particular period within the broader historical Roman Empire. Some argue that the clay intermixed with the iron in the feet represents the mixture of Roman and Jewish-Herodian rule during the first century. This explanation however doesn’t represent the totality of the Roman Empire, but merely one very small segment of the broader empire. Nor does this view satisfactorily account for the sharp distinction between the legs and feet.

The Futurist view however, understands the feet of the statue as describing the broader final period of the fourth empire as defined by its revival in the last days. This latter days revival of the fourth kingdom is clearly articulated by John the Apostle in the Book of Revelation. There, John speaks of the final kingdom as suffering a fatal head wound and coming back to life’

I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast —Revelation 13:3

Later, the apostle also speaks of the same final ‘seventh’ empire, as being an empire which ‘was, and is not’ and finally reviving as an ‘eighth’:

The beast which was and is not, is himself also an eighth and is one of the seven, and he goes to destruction. —Revelation 17:11

And so it is seen that only the Futurist position is able to reconcile Daniel’s prophecies with the Book of Revelation’s descriptions, accounting for both the continuity and the division of the last empire. The Preterist interpretation however offers only a strange and forced explanation, which does not sufficiently explain the distinction, nor can it define any period within the Roman Empire when any could say that it ‘was and is not’.

It should also be noted that the Preterist position here is forced to understand the seven heads of the Beast to represent specific historical Roman emperors, rather than as historical kingdoms, as is consistent with the motif of ‘mountain’ as found throughout the Bible. While virtually all Preterists attempt to identify the final seventh heads / mountain of Revelation 13 and 17 as referring to some series of historical Roman emperors, it seems as though no two Preterists can agree as to which seven these might be. Virtually every Preterist seems to have a different list of which Roman emperors they believe ‘fit’ the criteria of the prophecy. Futurists however, share general agreement that the seven heads of the beast represent a series of pan-historical, pan-Biblical pagan empires, beginning with Egypt, each which at one time, tried to destroy the Hebrew people and her connection to the promised land.

The Nature of the Destruction of the Statue

Some further insurmountable problems with the Preterist interpretation of Daniel 2 is that the text portrays the final kingdom, in fact, the whole statue, as being destroyed suddenly, immediately, and completely. No sooner does the Messianic rock strike the feet of the statue that it is shattered, and its residue is blown away. The Messianic Kingdom of God fills the whole world leaving no trace of the previous pagan kingdoms. All four of the kingdoms are destroyed ‘at the same time’ (Dan. 2:40, 44). When one compares the descriptions given concerning the end of this final pagan kingdom, in both Daniel 2 and 7, it is clear that the text emphasizes the finality and totality of the transition from pagan to Messianic rule. First, the establishment of the Kingdom of God is expressly placed within a particular timeframe. It is established ‘in the days of those kings’, a reference to the final period of the fourth kingdom:

“And in the days of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever.” —Daniel 2:44

An essential portion of the above verse is often overlooked. We are informed that, unlike the other kingdoms mentioned within the passage, the Kingdom of God will not be left to others. This same theme is later expressed again in Daniel 7:

“Then I kept looking because of the sound of the boastful words which the horn was speaking; I kept looking until the beast was slain, and its body was destroyed and given to the burning fire. “As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was taken away, but an extension of life was granted to them for an appointed period of time. —Daniel 7:11-12

Many have misinterpreted this verse to mean that the other kingdoms in Daniel 7 are essentially contemporary empires or kingdoms that exist in their fullness during the time when the fourth kingdom is destroyed. This is not the meaning of this verse however. Instead, its point is to contrast the nature of the destruction of these previous empires. The other empires, unlike the final empire were given to other peoples, with much of their culture, languages and peoples having lived on in those empires that conquered them. This is not the case however with the fourth kingdom. It would first suffer an apparent death. Then, after having come back to life will suffer a final, devastating, immediate and ultimate blow. This is also seen to contrast sharply with the Messianic Kingdom of God, which will never be given to another people, but will last forever:

‘Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.’ —Daniel 7:27

Yet history informs us quite clearly that the Roman Empire never met such a fate. In fact, the fate of the Roman Empire was precisely the exact opposite of the descriptions given within Daniel’s prophecy. Instead of meeting an immediate and decisive blow, the Roman Empire continued to exist and even grow for many years after the coming of Jesus in the first century. The Roman Empire, suffering from internal decay and external attacks, sputtered and crept along for another 1400 years after the coming of the Messiah. History informs us that it was not the influence of the Church that destroyed the Roman Empire, but moral decay within, and pagan forces from without. And all of this, over a very long and drawn out time-frame, at various times, in various places, long after the coming of Jesus.

Christo-paganism? Who Assumed Who?

Additionally, it can also be argued that instead of being entirely overwhelmed by the gospel, instead, the Roman Empire essentially incorporated and assumed Christianity into itself, resulting in a significant Roman-pagan influence within the culture, practices, traditions, and even to some measure, the liturgy and doctrines of Christianity. Though I reject the radical views on these matters as argued by Alexander Hislop and many after him, it must be admitted that the exchange between Roman and Christian culture was certainly not entirely one-way.

In keeping with the language of the passage, the Futurist interpretation looks forward to the time when Jesus will return to genuinely shatter the pagan governments, and ungodly systems of this world, resulting in the complete and utter victory of the very real and substantial Messianic Kingdom of God filling the whole earth, leaving no remnant of the former pagan influences.

The Timing of the Coming of the Kingdom: During Great Persecution

Earlier, we showed that the timing of the coming Messianic Kingdom is said to occur specifically during a time of unparalleled persecution by the final empire against the ‘saints of the Highest One’:

“I kept looking, and that horn was waging war with the saints and overpowering them until the Ancient of Days came and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom.” —Daniel 7:21-22

The Preterist interpretation of these chapters cannot account for this clear statement concerning the timing of the coming of the Messianic Kingdom of God. When Jesus came the first time, it was not during a time of unparalleled persecution by the Romans against the Jewish peoples, nor did the Kingdom come later during Roman persecution against the Church. The Futurist position, on the other hand, in faithfulness to the text, looks forward to the time when the Messiah will deliver his people from out of a period of overwhelming persecution under the Antichrist, perhaps even in the near future.

Who Struck Who?

Another point that few Preterists seem to acknowledge is that unlike the descriptions of the prophecy, the Romans struck and killed Jesus, not the other way around. It will not be until Jesus returns that his victorious judgments will be executed against the pagan governments of the earth.

True Messianic Hope

In the perpetual cycle of increasingly frustrating and even outright depressing seasons of political elections, it is heartening to take note of the fact that when the Messiah comes, all corrupt, pagan, and ungodly politicians, governments and unrighteous leaders throughout the earth will be utterly, completely and finally judged and removed. Unlike the vague, partial, and perpetually drawn-out hope that is held-out by the Preterist vision of history (and the future), only Futurism provides us with a vision of the days to come that truly encourages our hearts with the incorruptible hope of a soon coming transition to truly righteous, humble and godly leadership throughout the whole earth. Maranatha! Source – Joel’s Trumpet.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4255

Archbishop tells UN we need World Government

The Vatican’s Chief Foreign-Policy official, Archbishop Dominque Mamberti ,tells the UN General Assembly that the world has lost confidence in the moral principals that sustain the organization.

The archbishop states that international problems and the economic fears is due to “a profound anthropological crisis—that is, a loss of a common understanding of what is truly human.” The Vatican official explained that “only an international community firmly anchored in authentic values consistent with human dignity can produce viable solutions to new types of conflicts.”

Referring to terrorism, Mamberti  said there needed to be a consensus of mortality  as an antidote  to “new types of conflicts initiated by transnational groups that spread a pseudo-religious ideology of contempt for human rights and civil peace.” He said that the problem is shown “most flagrantly by current developments in the Middle East, and in particular in Syria.”

The archbishop praised the UN’s work for world peace but felt the structure was lacking, stating the organization “deprived of the force of unity and persuasive power that it could legitimately have” because of the lack of a clear international accord on basic moral principles, such as those that were set forth earlier in fundamental international agreements on human rights.

 “How is it,” the archbishop questioned, “that in spite of universal acceptance of the UN charter and fundamental treaties, we cannot establish a real and equitable system of world government?”

Mamberti also mentioned the disparity between the rich and the poor and that “world wide action” is needed to quell the global financial crisis.

Source: catholicculture.org,

My Comment:

Anyone with eyes to see, can see the woman riding the beast. The Vatican is demanding quick action by the UN to bring in world government and a world currency.

It is clear the Vatican is getting impatient by basically asking “Now that you have world wide approval from the nations and everything is in place, why don’t we have world government yet?!”

The Vatican notes,that they will approve of this new world order as long as all of her doctrines and dogmas are accepted into the world religion to come with it.

After the murder of the USA ambassadors, Catholic  Bishop Giovanni Martinelli, the apostolic vicar of Tripoli, told Vatican Insider that Western countries should have the “courage” to ban “all blasphemous projects” and establish “a policy that is respectful of religion.”

This is the beginning of the world religion that will be implemented into the fast approaching world government. No one will be able to insult Islam or Catholicism or other world religions. Freedom of speech will be quelled because the true Gospel will be called hate speech.

The underground church will again resurface as we will join our brothers and sisters who worship in secret in many places around the world.

Revelation 17:1-2

 One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits by many waters. With her the kings of the earth committed adultery, and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.”

 

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4243

Ahmadinejad’s End-Times Speech At The UN Calls The Mahdi ‘The Ultimate Savior’ Who Is Coming ‘Soon’ To Rule The World

2 Thessalonians 2:1-4, “Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.”

With great anticipation, the Islamic world awaits a “savior.” They call him “The Mahdi.” They believe that he will unite the Muslim world together against all who refuse to submit to Islam, creating peace and lasting security by leading all nations into a new era of global Islamic “justice.” And today, at the annual United Nations General Assembly and in front of millions of people around the world, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has announced that we would soon witness a new “global management” ruled by the Mahdi and his deputy, “Jesus Christ.”

The world of Biblical eschatology has undergone a major shift over the past few years. Many discerning Christians now recognize immediately this “Islamic messiah” as a prime candidate for the Biblical Antichrist. But despite all that has happened and continues to happen in the Muslim world as of late, there are still many others who continue to resist any notion that Islam is the religious ideology of the Beast in Daniel and Revelation and that the Biblical Antichrist could be a Muslim or arise out of Islam. In their way of thinking, the argument always begins with the premiss that the Antichrist will be someone who will literally announce to the world that “I am God” and will then demand to be worshipped as God. Since no Muslim would ever dare claim to be God (under accusation of blasphemy and penalty of death) and since no Muslim would ever dare to worship a mere man who made such a claim (under accusation of blasphemy and penalty of death), Islam must, they believe, either be all but destroyed before a non-Islamic Antichrist comes to power or undergo a significant theological metamorphosis, making it virtually unrecognisable to the Islam that we have today. But there is something very significant that many are missing, and it involves the premisses upon which their conclusion is derived.

When someone assumes even one or two false premisses as true, the wrong conclusion will more often than not be the end result. The belief that the Antichrist must say “I am God” is one example in particular. In 2 Thessalonians 2:4 the Apostle Paul writes that the man of lawlessness “shows” or “proclaims” himself to be God. The Greek word is “apodeiknymi” and it means “to declare” or “exhibit” or “show” or “demonstrate”. The implication of “apodeiknymi”, therefore, is not that the he says “I am God” in any sort of a veracious verbal declaration, but rather that he displays himself as God through behaviour or action. But how?

According to Sunni and Shi’a Islam, the Mahdi or 12th Imam is believed to be “the infallible intercessor between Allah and faithful Muslims” [1]. The Iranian President even described the Mahdi today as ”The Ultimate Savior” of the world. The significance of this claim cannot be overstated. According to Scripture, there is only One who is the intercessor between man and God:

Romans 8:34, “Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.

And there is only One who is worthy to be called the Savior:

Isaiah 43:11, 46:9b, “I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior… I am God, and there is none like me.”

According to Biblical Scripture, anyone who would proclaim himself to be the “intercessor” between man and God or the “savior” of the world would be attributing to himself a title or position that is exclusive to God alone, therefore presenting himself as God. To the Islamic way of thinking, however, this is not the case at all. Their religious jurisprudence is based upon Islamic texts, not upon the Hebrew/Greek Scriptures. Since ”savior” is not one of the 99 names of Allah in the Qur’ancalling someone the “savior” or claiming to be the “savior” is therefore not an attribution or declaration of divinity in the Muslim mind. They will not view any such proclamation as making oneself equal to the Almighty.

One of the claims often pushed by Muslims against the Christian belief in the Deity of Christ is that Christ never said, “I am God” anywhere in Scripture. And they are right. Jesus never said to the Sanhedrin “I am God.” However, He showed Himself as God by accepting worship. He demonstrated it by forgiving sins. He proclaimed it when He declared to the Sanhedrin to be “I Am” and called God His father. And the Sanhedrin understood immediately the theological significance of His words and sought to kill Him because He was “making Himself equal with God” (cf. John 5:18) by attributing a title or function to Himself that can only be attributable to the Almighty or His office. If someone was present who did not know the Hebrew Scriptures as the Jews did, would they have understood the theological significance of what Jesus did or what He said? Of course not. Likewise, when Antichrist proclaims himself to be God, he will do so in such a way that Jews and Christians will recognize it immediately, but those who believe the lie will not. The elect will not be deceived (cf. Matthew 24:24). Proclaiming to be God does not therefore necessitate the words “I am God” in order to make the claim. In fact, while accepting the position or claiming to be the “savior” on one hand, he would deny the accusation that he is claiming to be God on the other. But in the eyes of the God of Israel, this is precisely what he would be doing.

Does The Prophet Daniel Tell Us That Antichrist Will Exalt Himself Above Every God, Including Allah?

One other argument against an Islamic Antichrist that is often raised involves Daniel 11:36-37:

Daniel 11:36-37, “And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done. Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.”

The argument asserts that the Antichrist could not be Muslim since Daniel tells us that he will “magnify himself above every god” and “will exalt himself above them all.” And since “every” must also include Allah, the Antichrist therefore cannot be a Muslim.  To address this concern, we should first be made aware that even though most translations incorporate the word “every” in verse 38, it is not included in the original Hebrew. For instance, the NCV renders Daniel 11:36 to say that Antichrist “will brag about himself and praise himself and think he is even better than a god.” Wycliffe’s translation says that “the king shall do by his will, and he shall be raised [up], and magnified against each god, and against God of gods he shall speak great things.” Moreover, the thrust of Daniel 11:36-37 will not be fully understood unless it is read in full light of the verses that follow it:

Daniel 11:38-39,But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things. Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge [and] increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain.”

Context is key. Daniel 11:36-39 is not only a perfect description of how Islam operates, but it is also a perfect description of what Islam is. An Islamic Antichrist will exalt himself over every faith and belief system that exists or has existed outside of his estate, outside of the religious ideology that the “seat of the beast” forces upon everyone under its control. Antichrist (and by direct implication the one whom he represents, Satan) will position himself against everything called god or considered God or divine, outside of his base/estate/office (H3653 ken — base, estate, office). He will exalt himself over Ayyavazhi. Over Buddhism. He will exalt himself over the gods of Hinduism and each and every single one of its sects or denominations. He will exalt himself over Manichaeism. Over Mithraism. Over Zoroastrianism. Over Confucianism. Over every Shinto sect and school of thought. Over every indigenous religion that exists or has existed in the Americas, in Eurasia, in Africa, in Oceania or elsewhere. He will even exalt himself over the One True God of gods — the God of his fathers — over Adonai, over Mashiach, over Ruach ha Qodesh. He exalts himself over them all. How? By calling himself the savior of humanity, and by definition declaring himself to be the God of gods. Daniel was clear to show us in verses 38-39 that “in his estate shall he honour the God of forces.” He honours “a god whom his fathers knew not,” one that would be familiar to him, but not one that would be familiar to his fathers Abraham and Ishmael.  He cannot honour his god and increase him with glory if he believes that he is his god [Allah] or that he is above him. That would be nonsensical.

Calling the Mahdi the savior makes this man to be “Christ.” (The word “anti” doesn’t just mean against. It also means “in place of”).  This is blatant idolatry and blasphemy in the eyes of God, making YHWH and His Messiah a liar, and is all a part of the deception that is Islam. Consider for a moment their behaviour and teachings in light of Biblical revelation. On one hand, Islam convinces Muslims that they must not worship idols, yet on the other hand it commands them to kill anyone who says or does anything negative to the Qur’an, and to be willing to die for it. It commands them to kill anyone who says anything negative about Mohammed, and to be willing to die for their prophet.  It causes them to bow down facing Mecca five times a day where the Black Stone (Kaaba) sits, even teaching them that touching the Kaaba absolves them of sin(!). They will gladly offer their lives for every one of these, each of which is blatant idolatry in the eyes of YHWH because it is worship of the Qur’an, of their “prophet”, of the Black Stone, of their “savior.” It is worshipping the image of the Beast.

What Does It All Mean?

Islam is directly influenced, controlled and is even being given its authority by Satan himself. I think most of us would agree. Lately, however, Islam has been strengthening considerably in its authoritative influence, and may even strengthen militarily if/when Iran reaches nuclear capability. But it is more than just a violent religion that hates everything outside of its ideology. It is Satan’s platform upon which he is attempting to exalt himself and become like the God of Heaven. It is a means to an end.

As the Prophet Isaiah tells us, Satan has explicitly declared his intention to rise above the stars of God and to become like Him:

Isaiah 14:12-14, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! [how] art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation … I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.”

It is no coincidence that this also happens to be the exact description of Antichrist as given to us by the Prophet Daniel. Isaiah exposes Satan’s own corrupted ambitions, to magnify himself above everything that is called god, above everything that is associated with the God of gods, to be like God Himself.  And the Ummah of Islam is how he intends to accomplish this. The “stars of God” may even be referring to the the people of God, His ekklesia:

Deuteronomy 1:8-11, “‘See, I have set the land before you; go in and possess the land which the LORD swore to your fathers–to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob–to give to them and their descendants after them.’ … ’The LORD your God has multiplied you, and here you [are] today, as the stars of heaven in multitude. ’May the LORD God of your fathers make you a thousand times more numerous than you are, and bless you as He has promised you”

The name of Satan in Isaiah 14:12 (Lucifer) is “heylel,” which means “light-bearer”. The Arabic equivalent of Satan’s name is “hilal,” which means “crescent moon.” Also consider the “Takbir” of Islam, the victory cry of “Allahu Akbar.” What are they saying? It doesn’t mean “God is great” as it is often translated in the West. It actually means “Allah is greater.” If it is Satan’s intention to be like the Most High and to exalt his throne above the stars of God and sit upon the mount of his own congregation, it only stands to reason that Satan will seek to accomplish these things and perform these blasphemies through Islam, through the system to which he has given power. After all, those who marvel and follow the Beast “worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast” (Rev 13:4), and Satan knows that when they are worshipping “Allah” and the image of the Beast, they are worshipping him. Satan is therefore working to exalt and magnify himself as the Prophet Isaiah described through the office of Antichrist, through the religious ideology of Islam that diametrically opposes everything that the Judeo-Christian faith represents and stands for. But although the enemy will try to destroy what God has created, he cannot and will not prevail against the ekklesia of God. All he can do is create his own corrupted version of God’s elect, to wage war against God’s elect, in an effort to replace God’s elect with one that is created in his own image:

Yahweh has the Ekklesia.
Satan has the Ummah.

Yahweh’s Ekklesia is “as a bride adorned for her husband” and filled with “the glory of God”.
Satan’s Ummah is a harlot “decked with gold and precious stones and pearls” filled with abominations.

Yahweh has given the Ekklesia His Word, the Bible.
Satan has given the Ummah its corruption, the Qur’an.

Yahweh’s Ekklesia is the multitude of the Lamb, whom they follow.
Satan’s Ummah is the multitude of a man, the “prophet” Muhammed, whom they follow.

Yahweh’s Ekklesia comes out of Great Tribulation.
Satan’s Ummah is responsible for it.

Yahweh’s Ekklesia receives the seal of God upon their foreheads and are redeemed.
Satan’s Ummah receives the Mark of the Beast upon their foreheads and are condemned.

Yahweh’s Ekklesia will be lead to springs of living waters.
Satan’s Ummah will drink of the wine of the wrath of God.

In the “theatre” of Biblical eschatology, the stage is now set for the final act.  All “props” are in position.  The “characters” are in full costume.  And the world is watching in attendance. Very soon we will witness the final act begin, and through Islam Satan will make his final stand against the Prince of princes.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4203

IRAN OFFICIAL: ‘BIG WAR’ MEANS MAHDI’S COMING

For the first time, Iran’s highest-ranking military official has tied the reappearance of the last Islamic messiah to the regime being prepared to go to a war based on ideology.

“With having the treasure of the Holy Defense, Valayat (Guardianship of the Jurist) and martyrs, we are ready for a big war,” Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said, according to Mashregh news, which is run by the Revolutionary Guards.

“Of course this confrontation has always continued; however, since we are in the era of The Coming, this war will be a significant war.”

Shi’ites believe that at the end of time great wars will take place, and Imam Mahdi, the Shi’ites’ 12th imam, will reappear and kill all the infidels, raising the flag of Islam in all corners of the world.

Vahidi became the Revolutionary Guards intelligence officer after the 1979 Islamic revolution and later was promoted to chief commander of the Quds Forces. He is on the Interpol most-wanted list for the Jewish community center bombing in Buenos Aires in 1994 that killed 85 and injured hundreds.

Vahidi also played a major role in the 1996 Khobar Tower bombing in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 U.S. servicemen.

Speaking at a mosque in remembrance of the martyrs who died in service to Iran, Vahidi stated that, “The Islamic republic is going to create a new environment on the world stage, and without a doubt victory awaits those who continue the path of martyrs. … we can defeat the enemy at its home and our nation is ready for jihad. Martyrdom has taught us to avoid wrong paths and return to the right path. Martyrdom is the right path, it’s the path to God.”

Vahidi said Iran’s enemies would have taken action in Syria in the past couple of years if they had the capability. Iran is a much more formidable power than Syria, he said, and concluded that Tehran can easily wipe out the “Zionist regime” of Israel.

Several U.S. officials, including Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have called the officials of the Islamic regime “rational actors.”

Meanwhile, a Revolutionary Guards report quoting the head of the Guards’ public relations, Ramezan Sharif, revealed that Iran has military assets in several countries.

The presence of Quds Forces in Syria and Lebanon, Sharif said, is with the goal of supporting the Islamic nations and for the special situations that exist in those countries.

Sharif said Iranian presence is based on international laws and that, “Currently the Revolutionary Guards has presence in 15 countries, among them Syria and Lebanon, while the Iranian military also has presence in some other countries.”

As revealed recently, terrorist assets of the Islamic regime have been put on high alert for attacks on Israeli and U.S. interests. This extends from the Middle East to Africa, Latin America and the United States.

In a report Thursday in the Washington Times, Kevin L. Perkins, deputy director of the FBI, told a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that the agency considered Iran’s assets a “serious threat.”

“Quds Forces, Hezbollah and others have shown they both have the capability and the willingness to extend beyond that (Middle East) region of the world and likely here into the homeland itself,” he testified.

Guard commanders have openly stated that they have recruited assets from Latin America and even some from European countries to avoid suspicion by intelligence agencies and will target America should it get involved militarily against Iran.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=4181

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

Daniel Greenfield: The Mega Mosques Boom, ‘A Center Of Subversion And Terrorism’

Revelation 17:5-6a, “And on her forehead a name [was] written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus …”

                        By Daniel Greenfield, FrontPage Mag – “Murfreesboro, a city in the heart of Tennessee, and, Marseille, France’s second-largest city and its largest city on the Mediterranean coast, have few things in common. The two cities are separated by nearly 5,000 miles, and by equally wide divisions of language and culture. And yet Murfreesboro and Marseille are connected by a common challenge. Both cities have struggled against the creeping rise of the mega mosques.

The mega mosque in Marseille has been the subject of an extended legal fight going back a decade. The one in Murfreesboro had a briefer history of being on the wrong side of the law. But in both cases elected officials did their best to aid the mega mosques while ignoring local residents and the law.

The mega mosque business is booming around the world. The Marseille mega mosque has a proposed capacity of 7,000 seats which would make it the largest mosque in France, overshadowing the Ervy mosque which has a mere 5,000 seats. Both of these French mega mosques would have been dwarfed by a proposed London mega mosque with 12,000 seats and usability targets as high as 40,000. If the London mosque is ever built, it will dominate the Mosque of Rome, currently the most mega of all the mega mosques of Western Europe.

The Ground Zero Mosque, located near the site of the most brutal Muslim atrocity inflicted on the West in centuries, had a more modest 2,000 seating capacity plan, but would be vertically taller than most of the mega-mosques with a proposed 100,000 square feet of space. This would make it larger than the Marseille mega mosque, the Murfreesboro mega mosque and the London mega mosque. But despite their differences in size, all four mega mosque projects have followed the same pattern of lawsuits, public protests, exposures of shady mosque backers and public officials eager to look the other way.

The Cologne mega mosque in Germany has also followed the same pattern and is set to become the biggest mosque in Germany. But big is never big enough. The Stockholm mega mosque was finished in the year 2000 and has a capacity of 2,000, but a decade later there was already a proposal to replace it with an even larger mega mosque. At its current size the Stockholm mega mosque had already managed to feature sermons in support of Islamic terrorism and serve as a recruitment center for Al-Qaeda. At several times the size the situation could only get worse.

In yet another common pattern of mega mosques, the Stockholm mega mosque was funded primarily by Sheikh Zayed, the ruler of the United Arab Emirates. The Cologne mega mosque was primarily funded by Turkey’s Islamist government. The Marseille mega mosque is being funded by a number of foreign Muslim governments.

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan has said, ‘The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers.’ The foreign funding of mega mosques has raised the question of whether Muslim governments aren’t constructing their own barracks and armies in the middle of European cities.

In some cases the militarization of the mega mosque is so overt that it might as well be a bayonet. One of the most blatant examples may be the Copenhagen mega mosque with a capacity of 3,000 which is being financed by Iran. Iran has already constructed another mega mosque in Helsinki and has similar plans all across Europe and the world.

The Copenhagen mega mosque’s Imam is Mohammed Mahdi Khademi who ran the ideology department of the Revolutionary Guard militia, an arm of the theocratic regime, which was designated a foreign terrorist organization by the United States. It would be hard to imagine a more explicit example of mega mosque militarization than a regime that sponsors acts of worldwide terror funding a mega mosque headed by the former Islamist political commissar of its terrorist wing.

Not to be left out the Sunnis are getting their own Copenhagen mega mosque funded by Saudi Arabia. This will involve an architectural ‘mountain’ across from the University of Copenhagen topped by two minarets, transforming the Sunni-Shiite rivalry into a competition to create the biggest Islamist eyesores in a city generally known for a quieter brand of architecture.

It’s not only in the West that the mega mosques are rising. In Moscow, Muslims have taken over entire streets to call for the construction of new mosques. And the Saudis have already offered to cover the cost.

In China, Saudi money has been transforming mosque designs from the Chinese pagoda to the dome and minaret favored by their new patrons. The more traditional Chinese look of the Great Mosque of Xi’an is making way for the Xiguan Mosque, a monstrous 3,000 capacity mega mosque which looks as if a chunk of Saudi Arabia had been dropped into the middle of Lanzhou.

In Argentina, a year after the bombing of the Jewish center by Muslim terrorists, President Carlos Menem, who has been accused of complicity in the attack, allotted 7.5 acres of public land to build the King Fahd Islamic Cultural Center, the largest mosque in Latin America. It overshadows the Caracas mega mosque in Venezuela which has a capacity of 3,500. Both mega mosques were built by the Saudi royal family.

For now the Islamic Center of America, located in sunny Dearborn, Michigan where Christians can expect to be stoned if they get too close, is the largest mega mosque in the United States. The Shiite mega mosque was already the target of a Sunni Islamic terrorist plot. Nearby is the Sunni Dearborn Mosque which claims the same capacity in an extension of the Sunni-Shiite rivalry. But so long as there’s oil money fueling the projects then the mega mosques will keep on growing.

From Markham in Canada down to New York City, and from the West Midlands in the United Kingdom to Sydney, Australia; cities around the world are facing the same threats to their communities. For Muslim states the mega mosque is a tool of power giving them the ability to centralize control of overseas Muslims with a single facility in a single city. For non-Muslim countries, the mega mosque is a center of subversion and terrorism.

As the mega mosque projects grow explosively across the country and the world, so does the resistance to the long shadows that they cast.” Source – FrontPageMag.com.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=3821