As if we hadn’t already seen enough Biblical events this year, a plague of over 30 million locusts swarmed over Egypt’s cities and farms just three weeks before Passover begins. But put your apocalyptic fears to rest. This happens every year as part of the locusts’ natural migration pattern, though this year’s swarm is especially large. That doesn’t mean Egyptians aren’t freaked the heck out by millions of nasty bugs buzzing through the air at all hours of day and night, possibly descending upon the agriculture fields where they’re known to destroy entire crops, just like in the actual Passover story.
The crops are so far safe, Egyptian officials assured the public. As the plague made its way from the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia at the end of last week and this weekend, though, Egyptian Agricultural Minister Salah Abdel Moamen explained the situation to the country in a calmly worded statement. “The current inspection teams at areas targeted by locusts did not witness swarms damaging a single inch of crop,” said Moamen. He added that the locusts are “sexually immature and do not depend on plants for energy since they mainly rely on fat stores.”
That said, these plagues can be unpredictable. Egyptian officials didn’t expect the plague to pass by the country’s capital, until Sunday when the locusts unexpectedly arrived in Cairo. The government denied reports that the locusts had started devastating crops as well as a report from United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) that the Ministry of Agriculture cleared 11,000 hectares of land in an attempt to save the harvest. When they get hungry, a one-ton hoard of locusts can eat the same amount of food in one day as 2,500 humans, according to the UN. Egypt knows this too. Less than a decade ago, a plague of locusts nearly 40 miles wide swept over Egypt damaging crops at the majority of the country’s farms. That’s a picture of it, to the right.
Conflicting reports aside, Moamen insists that the government has everything under control. “Egyptian armed forces and the border guards are attempting to fight the swarm with the means at their disposal,” the agriculture minister said. “I ask the families living in the locust-plagued areas not to burn tires. This does not chase away the locusts, but only causes damage and could ignite large scale fires that would cost in lives.” Also, that smoke isn’t doing Egypt’s grandchildren any favors. Scientists anticipate that, as global warming worsens, plagues like this will also get worse.
STOCKHOLM, Sweden – February was packed with celestial events – notably the meteor that exploded over Russia – and some theological leaders and experts are convinced that God is trying to send a message.
Citing biblical passages about signs and wonders in the heavens, more than a few have been talking about whether biblical prophecies in Scripture are being fulfilled.
One incident that received widespread coverage, for example, was a lightning bolt that struck St. Peter’s Basilica just hours after Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation.
The meteor that shook Russia, along with numerous other meteors documented over the last month, also have believers and non-believers alike wondering where this all may be going.
A seeming surge in recent UFO sightings, corresponding with a deluge of coverage in the media and the entertainment industry over the last few years, plays a role as well, experts told WND.
“We know we’re in the last days,” Cahn said. “The signs are evident – Israel’s return to the land, the world’s focus on the Middle East, the increase in man’s powers, including that of self-destruction, the increase in immorality and a massive worldwide apostasy.”
Cahn, who also serves as president of Hope of the World ministries and the senior pastor and messianic rabbi of the Jerusalem Center/Beth Israel in New Jersey, said the evidence is becoming clear.
“In addition, there are very precise signs of biblical warning and judgment which have been manifesting, particularly in America,” he warned.
“These signs, recorded in ‘The Harbinger,’ are distinct warnings given to a nation in defiance and departure from God. Thus, we’re in a critical time of transition,” Cahn concluded. “As we watch the spiritual and physical decline of America, it only further sets the stage for what the Bible foretells of the last days.”
Signs and wonders in the Bible
As Bible readers know, there are numerous references to signs and wonders in the heavens found throughout Scripture.
Luke 21:25-26, for example, states: “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken.”
In the Old Testament, Joel 2:30-31 says: “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.”
The book of Revelation is known for its numerous references to signs and wonders in the heavens preceding the end of days.
Many other prophecies in both the New and Old testaments contain similar passages.
Russian meteor: A message from God?
On Feb. 15, the same day that a large asteroid passed some 18,000 miles from the Earth’s surface, an unrelated explosion above the Chelyabinsk region of Russian released an estimated 500 kilotons of energy – the force of about 30 Hiroshima atomic bombs, according to news reports.
The impact was detected by sensors operated by the nuclear-watchdog International Monitoring System as far as Antarctica, over 9,000 miles away.
Contrary to early reports of a meteor shower, Russian officials and scientists said the blast – the largest infrasound event recorded in history – was caused by a single 10,000-ton meteor burning up in the lower atmosphere.
After the massive explosion over the Ural Mountains region, at least 1,000 injuries were reported. Thousands of buildings were also reported damaged.
More than a century ago, a suspected asteroid leveled almost
1,000 square miles of forest in remote Siberia in what eventually became known
as the Tunguska event.
Still, Russians were suspicious of the official explanation.
A poll of readers published by the Noviye Izvestia newspaper
found that just half of respondents believed the government’s account.
Some thought it was a UFO or an alien invasion, while others,
including a Russian politician, claimed it was some sort of secret U.S.
“Our people remember the Soviet past, when news of disasters was
concealed or lied about,” Deputy Director Alexei Grazhdankin of the independent
Moscow polling agency Levada Center told reporters.
“A lot of our people just prefer not to accept the safe explanations
they were taught at school,” Grazhdankin added. “Even when all necessary
information is available, they don’t want to believe it.”
Despite all the talk of UFOs, alien invasions and U.S. weapons,
a Christian leader had a different explanation: The spectacular blast was a
message from God.
The Russian Orthodox bishop of Chelyabinsk and Zlatoust,
Metropolitan Feofan, urged locals “not to lose the strength of will.” He added
that the narrow escape from devastation should spark reflection on how often people
pray, as well as a reassessment of people’s lives through the prism of
“The Holy Bible says that God sends
us signs and warnings through natural calamities,” the Christian cleric said in
a widely quoted statement.
“The meteor shower seen last night was a reminder for residents of the Urals
and the rest of the world that we all live in a fragile and unpredictable
“We must be happy that God has saved us from a more severe
aftermath, and we must thank Him for this favor,” Metropolitan Feofan said.
“A natural phenomenon must not incite panic or despondency,” he
concluded. “No natural disaster, sickness or even death can separate us from
God. The only real evil in the world is sin.”
The Orthodox bishop was hardly alone in seeing the hand of God
behind the meteor.
Other meteors dazzle
On Feb. 16, the Associated Press,
citing state-run media outlets, reported
that Cuba experienced a similar, albeit smaller, meteor that also shook
buildings and left residents bewildered.
“On Tuesday we left home to fish around five in the afternoon,
and around 8:00 we saw a light in the heavens and then a big ball of fire,
bigger than the sun,” a local man said in the video cited by the AP.
A woman quoted in the report said her home “shook completely”
and that she “had never heard such a strange thing.”
Another major event happened over the skies of Southern
California on Feb. 22, when a giant streak of light prompted dozens of
eyewitness to file reports with the American Meteor Society.
Residents were apparently so concerned that government officials
even responded to the event.
“We are in routine operations,” the Los Angeles Fire Department
said on Twitter. “There are no emergencies in Los Angeles related to the
sighting of a bright light in our atmosphere.”
Video of the event captured by startled onlookers was run by
local media outlets.
“I was like, ‘Wow! That’s weird,’” West Palm Beach resident
Amanda Mayer, who obtained footage of the event, told the local NBC affiliate.
“I just started videotaping, and that’s when it happened. I was pretty sure it
was a meteor because of everything else that’s been happening.”
However, it is a hard question to answer, particularly since the
U.S. Department of Defense stopped sharing its data about the phenomena with
scientists in 2008.
“The number of meteor sightings filed with the AMS has been
increasing over the last few years and also the last few months,” Hankey said,
adding, however, that this could be due to a number of factors unrelated to the
actual frequency of events.
“At this point, we cannot in any way conclude that there is any
real increase in fireball rates,” he explained. “We can only conclude that more
people are filling out reports on our site.”
AMS is currently working on a statistical analysis of the data
to try to explain the increase, Hankey said, offering links to information
provided by other experts.
Starting Feb. 1, however, when a bright fireball soared over the
Dallas, Texas, area, NASA made some interesting conclusions.
“This month, some big space rocks
have been hitting Earth’s atmosphere,” Bill Cooke with NASA’s Meteoroid
Environment Office said
on the agency’s website. “There have been five or six notable fireballs
that might have dropped meteorites around the United States.”
What really has scientists and researches baffled, NASA said, is
the extraordinary appearance and trajectory of the recent meteor events.
“These fireballs are particularly slow and penetrating,”
explained meteor expert and University of Western Ontario physics Professor
“They hit the top of the atmosphere moving slower than 15
kilometers per second, decelerate rapidly, and make it to within 50 kilometers
of Earth’s surface,” he added.
Senior Pastor Carl Gallups with Hickory Hammock Baptist Church,
also a best-selling author and popular conservative talk-radio host, cautioned
against drawing any biblical conclusions based on a particular incident or
series of events.
“There is always a danger when we point to a specific thing and
say that this is a definitive sign from God — especially some type of natural
event,” the widely respect Christian leader told WND in a phone interview.
“However, it cannot be denied that we are living in biblically
prophetic times – some of the major signs being the fulfillment of Daniel
chapter 12; the increase in transportation and communication technology over
the last days; the prophecies of Ezekiel 38 and 39; Israel being surrounded by
enemies that are conspiring and plotting against them; the prophecy of Israel being
restored to the land in the last days, which was fulfilled in 1948; the
prophecy in Mathew 24:14 where Jesus declares that this Gospel of the Kingdom
shall be preached to all the earth and then the end shall come,” Gallups said.
“When Jesus uttered those words, the Gospel had not yet been
completed – He had not gone to the Cross, there was no empty tomb, the whole
world had not been discovered, and the technology to take the Gospel to the
whole world had not yet been invented,” he added. “We’re the only generation to
see that fulfillment, so when you look at the clear biblical signs, then you
add to it the seemingly increased activity of the heavenly signs and wonders,
then you could certainly say that these might very well be harbingers of
last-day prophetic events.”
Gallups noted that he would not consider the meteor in Russia, for example, as
proof that the world that the end times have arrived—after all, meteors have
always fallen. The same holds true for tsunamis and earthquakes, which have
also been around throughout human history.
“On the other hand, Jesus said that the very last days would be
accompanied by signs in the heavens and rumblings on the earth,” he explained.
“When you add all of these things together… I don’t think it can be denied that
we are getting very close to the return of the Lord.”
Unidentified Flying Object sightings
Pastor Gallup also offered WND his thoughts on the UFO
phenomenon, which appears to have become increasingly prominent in recent years
and especially over the last few weeks.
In Mexico, which has become a hot spot for these types of events
in recent years, at least two UFO sightings were documented in February over
the Popocatepetl volcano outside of the capital.
On Feb. 21 at around 2 a.m., a “cigar-shaped” UFO can be seen
clearly in video footage posted online that is making waves among researchers.
Analysts and researchers dealing with the subject claimed that
video shows UFOs as well.
The same day as the blast over Russia, for example, two
residents of Grants Pass in Oregon caught what they believe was a UFO on
“At first I was like what’s wrong
with that star? I thought, whoa, that’s kind of trippy. So I went to get him
and he’s like ‘whoa! What is that?’ And it started moving,” one of the
residents who captured the event on camera, Heather Scherffius, was quoted
as saying in major media reports.
Gregory Soldner, who also witnessed the event, was amazed as
well – even though he does not believe in UFOs.
“It looked like a metal disk of some sort. I’m not sure, but it
was metal and the way it moved was weird,” he said. “I mean, I don’t believe in
flying saucers, but I’ve never seen anything quite like this.”
A local news station added a special light filter to the video
footage, which helped reveal the bizarre phenomenon more clearly.
On Feb. 11, the Huffington Post and the International Business
Times also reported an alleged UFO sighting over Melbourne, Australia, that was
caught on video as well.
The bright lights in the sky are seen buzzing around and
aligning in a variety of formations. At one point, one of the objects speeds
off at a remarkable speed.
UFO researchers say the vast majority have a simple explanation:
birds, drones, airplanes, hot air balloons or natural phenomena. Many are
More than a few analysts believe government tests explain most,
if not all, of the purported UFOs.
However, in recent years, the number of apparently unexplained
UFO sightings documented by the mainstream media seems to have soared.
From Jerusalem and Moscow to Mexico City, Norway and all across
China, the number of bizarre flying objects and celestial events dazzling
witnesses without rational explanation is seemingly exploding.
The phenomenon has been getting quite a bit of attention in
major media, too, with Fox News, CNN, Russia Today offering coverage.
Government also is taking notice.
In September of 2010, for instance, the United Nations appointed
a so-called “alien ambassador” to be charged with coordinating Earth’s response
to a potential encounter with extraterrestrial life.
The entertainment industry, meanwhile, has also been focusing a
lot more attention on UFOs and fictional alien invasions, with more than a few
major shows and movies in recent years dealing with the subject.
Some Christian leaders who spoke with WND are suspicious about
the widespread, global interest in purported unexplained aerial phenomena.
Many suspect that, if real, the UFOs are not actually space
craft operated by extraterrestrial beings, despite the media hype.
Some Christian researchers believe UFOs and supposed “alien
abductions” are related to demons and fallen angels – possibly a part of
Satan’s great deception foretold in the Scriptures.
In this line of thinking, authorities may try to deceive the
public into believing absurdities and heresies related to UFOs and “aliens.”
“I think these UFO appearances are demonically related,” Senior
Pastor Gallups told WND, citing scientific and biblical research.
“Why would these supposed aliens come here for the sole purpose
of performing so-called sexual experiments, kidnappings, possessions, and
trashing the Gospel of Jesus Christ?” he wondered. “Every time you talk to
somebody who says they’ve had contact with an alien being, that’s what it’s
Like virtually every Christian researcher who has studied the
UFO phenomena, Gallups believes the devil is hard at work trying to deceive the
“My estimation is that this is all part of the last days
deceptions — the signs and wonders from the heavens,” he said, adding that
Satan and the Anti-Christ would likely use the phenomenon as part of their
effort to deceive the world with lies.
“I think the bottom line is that this is demonic,” continued
Gallups, who served as a law enforcement officer and continues to serve on the
Board of Regents for University of Mobile. “The whole thing is demonic and
we’re watching an outpouring of demonic appearances, demonic manifestations,
and demonic activity, because I think we’re living in the last days.
“Without putting a date on what I mean by the last days, I think
we’re living in the last days,” he noted, echoing an increasingly widespread
belief among Christians of all denominations.
“The only rational explanation is that this is a part of that
demonic outpouring — that delusion, that deception of the last days, part of
the signs and wonders in the heavens.”
Other Christian experts in the field who spoke with WND had
similar thoughts on the matter.
“These are signs preceding God’s judgment of the world, as the
Bible foretells,” said author Paradox Brown, who has written extensively on the
issue, including two books, “A Modern Guide to Demons and Fallen Angels” and
“The Bible, Physics, and the Abilities of Fallen Angels: The Alien Abduction
“The UFOs sightings and alien abduction reports today, in the
case of paranormal events taking place, are being orchestrated by Satan and his
fallen angels, as events leading up to this deception by Abaddon, as an
Antichrist claiming to be humanity’s god,” Brown told WND, citing multiple
passages in Scripture.
“There is a strong delusion coming, and people best get right
with God through Jesus Christ His Son now, before these events come to pass,”
More celestial events coming soon
reported last month, there will be more events in the sky to watch for
later this year, including Comet ISON, which is expected to pass near earth and
put on spectacular heavenly show by autumn.
“While the world did not end with the end of the Mayan calendar
last year, Comet ISON is considered by some to be another celestial sign of
things to come,” wrote Koinonia Institute Executive Research Analyst Steve
Elwart for WND, citing multiple passages from Scripture.
2 Thessalonians 2:9 ….whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
all – each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything
power – power for performing miracles
signs – a sign, prodigy, portent, i.e. an unusual occurrence, transcending the common course of nature
lying – conscious and intentional falsehood
wonders – miracle: performed by any one
Someone posted on the Blog they weren’t buying the so-called apparition of “mary.” The above link will take you to a better video. Check it out around the 35 second mark.
The above scripture warns of what will take place in the last days. It is a clear, concise, no-nonsense warning of what will come upon the earth in the end of days. We know The Fallen One will come with all signs and lying wonders. I believe it is a very sobering warning and it was written for such a time as this.
As I mentioned on Friday, the church sits and listens to preposterous stories, Mary and the virgin birth, Jesus turning water into wine, Peter getting two gold coins from the mouth of a fish, Moses parting the Red Sea, Talking Donkey’s, The Ark of the Covenant destroying Israel’s enemies, Moses receiving the 10 commandments from God, Prophecy of the Messiah’s death, as in Isaiah 53, Jonah being swallowed by a whale, The flood of Noah, and on and on it goes. Most of us believe all the stories, even though many of those listed above are fantastic!
The supernatural is real and is manifesting, and we are warned it would be so in the last days. So, why is the church asleep at the wheel? Why isn’t the church and the pastors warning of what is already here? The church teaches about the supernatural, but won’t discuss the supernatural manifesting in the world today…. go figure! Week after week we hear these seemingly absurd stories and we lap it up and accept it because we’re sitting in a building and some guy in a pulpit is telling us this happened. Do we realize how nuts this sounds? Virgin birth? Are you kidding me? Yet, we believe this happened, as Mary was overshadowed by the spirit of the living God and conceived. Yet, take two steps out of the church and God help you if you see something in the sky, like a disc or orb or unknown craft. Whatever you do, don’t say anything about it, keep it to yourself and repeat until your brain is numb: What I saw was swamp gas, reflecting the planet Venus in a weather balloon.
In closing todays Bun: We are warned in the book we hold so dear, that in the last days, the Fallen One would come with all signs and lying wonders. I believe we are in the window of time where we are seeing this prophecy fulfilled. UFOs are manifesting. The phenomenon is real and it’s not going away is it? Strange lights in the sky are seen everywhere, so-called Marian apparitions are seen as well. We need to understand that outside the four walls of the churches there is a cosmic war raging and it is beginning to spill out over into our world. At some point, when the Fallen One is cast out of his domain, all hell will break loose. It’s coming and we are seeing the beginnings of it. We can choose to ignore it at our own peril and “play” church, or we can seize the day, take up our armor and go to war. Wake up!
“I’d kill for a drink of water,” could be a military call-to-arms soon, as the planet’s most essential commodity is swallowed, evaporated, polluted, and utilized at unsustainable levels.
Earth contains a finite, unchanging amount of H2O. Usage has escalated dangerously, due to human population explosion (1.65 billion – 9 billion from 1900-2025) and the myriad cubic-acres of water demanded in mining, industry, agriculture, and recreation. One ton of wheat requires one thousand tons of water; watering the world’s golf courses requires 2.5 billion gallons per day, and 650 gallons only gets you either a pound of rice or one cotton shirt.)
Global warming also dwindles our freshwater: glaciers are vanishing, lakes, rivers, and aquifers are shriveling. Lake Chad has 95% of volume in the last 50 years. Lake Meade (water source for Las Vegas) could be dry n a decade. The Yellow River in China often fails to reach the ocean.
The Population Institute warns that the demand for fresh water already exceeds the supply by 17%. By 2030, 47% of the world’s population will be living in areas of high water stress, claims the OECD.
Will armies battle each other, as the cry for “blue gold” gets furious? Will “water wars” be as prevalent as conflict for the “black gold” of oil? Two documentary films have wetted public interest – Blue Gold: World Water Wars, and Last Call at the Oasis, and a dystopia novel – The Water Wars – warns of its imminence.
In actuality, history’s pages are already splashed with dozens of conflicts. In 2,450 B.C. the Sumerian cities of Lagash and Umma warred over Tigris-Euphrates water. More recently, Senegal and Mauritaniabattled in 1989 over grazing rights in the Senegal River Valley – hundreds were killed, 250,000 fled their homes. The Pacific Institute provides an excellent map and timeline of 225 water skirmishes.
In the future, here’s nine danger zones:
North Yemen vs. South Yemen – Hydrologists predict that the capital – Sana’a – of this impoverished area could run out of water by 2025, as private wells and aquifers dry up. (Primary usage? 40% of wateris used by farmers of khat, an addictive stimulant plant that’s the drug-of-choice for Somalia pirates, plus it’s suspected that it’s marketing is partly controlled by al-Qaeda.) The unstable region contains many armed operatives, several linked to al-Qaeda, who could mobilize to gain control of the dwindling water supply.
Egypt vs. Ethiopia – The Nile River is the life-blood of Egypt, with the vast majority of its 83 million population residing near its banks. But who does the water belong to? The Nile originates 4,000+ miles away, and travels through nine nations before it becomes “Egyptian.” Sources suggest that two ex-presidents, Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak, both threatened to blow up dam projects in Ethiopia. Tensions were renewed in 2011 when Ethiopia declared its intention to build the `Great Millennium Dam` – one of the biggest in Africa. An Al Jazeera report speculates that today’s unpopular Egyptian military might seek to distract its disgruntled citizenry by engaging in a conflict with the upstream competitor.
India vs. China – China has already constructed 10 dams on the 2,900 kilometer long Brahmaputra River, and another 18 are in progress. Repercussions in lower riparian NorthEast India and Bangladesh could be catastrophic. China is probably intent on damming 8-10 great rivers that flow from the Tibetan plateau, the world’s largest water tank. China seeks to nourish its drought-stricken central and eastern provinces; it’s expecting 25% water shortage by 2030. “Over 6,000 lakes in China are now dry. The Yellow River basin in the north is 30 per cent dead,” Sandeep Waslekar, president of Mumbai-based Strategic Foresight Group,told India Today.
Burkina Faso vs. Ghana – The Volta River flows from Burkina Faso (formerly named Upper Volta) to Ghana, with the two nations squabbling over how to share it. Ghana depends on the river to generate its huge hydroelectric Akosombo Dam that accounts for 80% of the nation’s electricity; this power is crucial in expanding the nation’s industry. Burkina Faso is damming upriver, to acquire irrigation water to combat the Sahel’s desertification. The region’s inhabitants suffer abysmal poverty, with 31% living on less than $1 per day. Exacerbating the problem is an estimate that the Volta Basin population will increase 80% in the next 25 years, while rainfall declines due to climate change that is making the region hotter and drier.
Thailand vs. Laos vs. Vietnam vs. Cambodia vs. China – Downriver Southeast Asian nations are irritated by their huge northern neighbor, due to eight massive Chinese dams built, or under construction, on the Upper Mekong. The SE Asian nations are also suspicious of each other, for the same reason. Voice of America reports that “41 large dams could be put on the Mekong and its tributaries by 2015, and 71 by 2030, with Laos following a development model similar to China.” Hydrodams are viewed in the region as key energy sources to power economic growth. There’s also mounting concern in the region about potential environmental damage to agriculture and fisheries.
India vs. Pakistan – Water from Kashmir is a major dispute in the decades-long animosity between the two largest subcontinental. The Indus Water Treaty (1960) divided six rivers – the Indus, the Jhelum and Chenab were given to Pakistan, while the Sutlej, the Beas and the Ravi were declared Indian. Semi-arid, drought-stricken, water-stressed Pakistan presently claims that India is illegally diverting river water to itself, via an upstream dam. 92% of Pakistan is is dependent on the Indus River system, and more than half the population is employed in agriculture.
Turkey vs. Syria vs. Iraq vs. Iran – The Tigris and Euphrates Rivers are still being argued over, 4,500 years after Sumer. Dams and irrigation in Turkey, Syria, and Iran aretroubling downstream Iraq, which is threatened by desertification. Iraq utilized the rivers to build its Fertile Crescent “cradle of civilization” but Syria and Turkey have emerged as dominating rivals for Iraq’s historical claim. Evaporation, sewage, and pesticide pollution have further water-stressed Iraq. Iraq and Syria nearly battled in 1975 when Syria filled Lake Assad behind its impressive Ath Thawrah Dam, reducing Euphrates flow, but today, Turkey is undoubtedly the most feared and vilified, because 98% of the Euphrates originates there. Turkey reportedly uncovered a Syrian plot to blow up the massive, mile-long Ataturk Dam, after it was completed in 1992.
Central Asia, i.e., Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan Conflicts in this dry region over water use from the Syr Daria and Amu Daria rivers have escalated since their freedom following glasnost in 1991. Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan want more water for their water-gluttonous crops of cotton, wheat and rice, while upstream, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan seek to extract hydropower. Rising populations in the region also demand more farmland. A report by the International Crises Group indicates that “the countries are now consuming 1.5 times what they should.” A sixth “stan” – Afghanistan, downstream on the Amu Daria – is is also demanding a fair water share.
Israel vs. Palestine – The Mountain Aquifer, which lies under both Israel and the West Bank, is the only water resource for the Palestinians, but is controlled by Israel, for “security reasons.” Observers note thatIsrael grants only 20% of the water to the West Bank, utilizing the remainder for their own purposes. Israeli monopolization of the aquifer would be jeopardized, of course, if Palestine was ever fully autonomous. Not unrelated, Ariel Sharon has said has said that the 1967 conflict with Syria, whereby the Golan Heights was obtained, wasn’t entirely about “security.” What was the real cause? 15% of Israel’s water now flows from the Golan.
Are parched throats, saber-rattling, and dead bodies inevitable in a water-desperate future? Diplomacy is obviously needed to avert the conflicts. Emerging technology can also be of great assistance – it can help quench humanity’s need for more H20 with innovations in filtration, irrigation, desalinization, and recycling.
“And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of
smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come” (Joel 2:30-31).
This is part II, completing my sermon from my previous article, “No Man Knoweth the Day or Hour.” If you have not read that article you must make it the foundation to build upon to understand the teaching presented here. I invite you to read the first part found on this site to prepare your understanding. In the first part, we established that Jesus was talking about a coming day that could point to the time of His coming to earth to take His church home. It was an “idiom” that any Jewish man living at the time would recognize immediately just what Jesus was talking about, when Jesus said these words: Matthew 24:36:
“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” The key words are, “no man knoweth the day or the hour.”
This “idiom” that Jesus was speaking of was also spoken of ONLY on one day on the Hebraic calendar known as the Feast of Trumpets. We studied the connection that Jesus spoke of to the God-appointed times of His plan for mankind and the prophetic rehearsals that signaled His first coming and His death and resurrection. It also points to His Second Coming at the end of the age of grace.
It would be logical and scriptural to assume that if God used these times for the redemption plan of salvation to be completed on the exact days of these feast days made by God, and knowing God doesn’t do anything by happenstance, we can look to the feasts that are still waiting to be fulfilled those that are observed in the fall with the first of these days known as the Feast of Trumpets, also known as, “The return of the King.”
But moving on to what I would like to focus on in this article: Is there anything that can be correlated to this feast day that would give us pause and wonder? Could this be the day? A word of caution is needed here. I am no Harold Camping and I am not so impudent to say that God has told me the exact day of His return. No, we look to the Scriptures to let the Word give us meaning to the coming days, as we see them approaching.
As I cautioned last time, take these words and line them up to your Bible and as a good Berean, see if these things are true and judge for yourself. Don’t believe me. Believe your Bible. There will be mockers and people who say that this has no meaning except it be seen from an example of Israel and something proclaimed by a rabbi. I am aware that Israel is the center of prophecy. God gives all His people warning of His closeness of return and it doesn’t take a rabbi in Israel to “sanctify” the Word of God. All born-again believers will understand through the direction of the Holy Spirit, as they are foolishness to the carnal man, but wisdom to those who are saved by grace, as they a spiritually discerned.
BLOOD MOON TETRADS
“And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken” (Luke 21:25-26).
Luke recorded the words of our Lord when the disciples came to Him and asked when the end of the age would happen and the signs of His coming. What are these signs Jesus was speaking of and do they have any significance to what we are studying? We will see that may be just the case. But notice further on in the chapter Jesus said this to them, and to us:
“And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.
For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Matthew 21:34-36)
We are to be ever alert and watchful as the signs of His appearing will be all around us. Signs in the heavens were present that announced Christ’s first visitation. Will there be signs that will be present at His Second Coming at the end of the age of grace?
“He [Jesus] answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signsof the times?” (Matthew 16:2-3)
As it was in the beginning found in Genesis chapter 1 that the sun, moon and stars would be signs in the heavens for season, signs, and years:
“And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years” (Genesis 1:14).
So it will be in the end, that God will use His creation to signal to His people the signs of His coming and the end of the age. Let us focus for a moment on the opening Scripture that is quoted from Joel. Joel writes that the sun will be “darkened.” Joel restates this very thing in a following verse in the third chapter:
“The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining” (Joel 3:15).
Looking to Strong’s Concordance, we find the meaning of the words, darkened or darkness. We see in one of the verses the Hebrew word “chosehek.” Strongs #2822 states: the dark, darkness, or figuratively, misery, destruction, death, ignorance, sorrow, night or obscurity. The other word is Strongs #6937 “qadar” to mean dark colored, sackcloth, be black, to make dark meaning no light.
Is there coming a day when the sun becomes black when no light falls anywhere and near a prophetic feast day, a day we have determined could be the day that the Lord says He would return? In the secular, they are called “solar eclipses” either partial or total. When the sun is covered either in part or total, the moon receiving its light from the sun turns reddish in color, depending on what part of the world you are viewing it from called a “blood moon.”
If we go to NASA, a secular authority that tracks these solar and lunar eclipses, we find that they have a complete listing of the eclipses that have happened and the ones that will be coming in the future. NASA identifies these as blood moon tetrads or four consecutive lunar eclipses that group together. There have only been two in the last century and they came on dates that are associated with prophetic events concerning Israel.
The first set of lunar eclipses happened in 1949 and 1950 and they are associated with the formation of Israel as a nation. Their birth was in 1948, but the government was not established until 1949. Those events happened in April and October of 1949, and April and September of 1950. The other event surrounded the recapturing of Jerusalem in 1967 or the Six Day War. Those eclipses were in April and October of each year of 1967 and 1968 also known as Passover and Feast of Tabernacles or Sukkoth. These can be viewed as prophetic markers in the sky that pointed to a completion of God’s promise to restore Israel and Jerusalem to the Jewish people.
How common are these blood moon tetrads, and the complete lunar eclipses of four in a row? Quite rare, as it had not happened in the past before 1949, except in 1493, and will happen only one other time in this century and will not happen again for 500 years. I would call that very rare.
BLOOD MOONING RISING, AGAIN
As we have learned there have been two blood moon tetrads in the last century. But notice that in our last lesson that Jesus made a clue that pointed to a possible feast day of His return. None of these last blood moon tetrads fell on what Jesus alluded to as the prophetic day in the Hebraic calendar, the time we have determined to possibly be the Feast of Trumpets and the Lord’s return. Is another total eclipse coming in the near future that does fall on these feast days? Yes, there is. According to NASA there will be another set of lunar eclipses coming up in 2014 and 2015. Why is this significant? In 2014 these eclipses fall on April and October 2014, which so happens to be Passover and Tabernacles (again) of that year. It will also happen in 2015 on yet another holy day of Passover and Tabernacles in April and September. But remember, Joel said that the Day of the Lord would happen after these signs are shown:
“The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come” (Joel 2:31), emphasis added).
So we know that the Lord can’t come in 2014 or 2015, as the signs or blood moon tetrads have not been completed. The next Feast of Trumpets will be August 31 through September 1, 2016; a possible sign of His return. This is also the end of a generation after Israel became a nation, and also the end of a 50-year Jubilee or the end of a generation as previously discussed.
But there’s more. There will also be a total eclipse on the beginning of the Hebrew calendar on March 20th, 2015, and again the very next year on March 9, 2016 which is also the beginning of the Hebrew calendar year. These are both on a new moon of both years and NASA says there will be total eclipses. Another point is that on the year of the Feast of Trumpets there will be a partial solar eclipse on the very day; a very rare occurrence to say the least.
What are the chances of this happening on these exact days in our past, and our future? The answer is: NEVER. It has never happened in the past, and it will never happen in our lifetime and won’t happen again at all for 100 years! Coincidence? I don’t think so. But remember, we observe that the Lord has completed His first advent on the exact feast days found in the spring, and it bears note that He will most likely follow suit to complete the fall observances, as well.
Could these signs in the sun, moon and the stars proclaim the coming of the Lord on a following Feast of Trumpets? It bears much study and prayer, waiting and watching for further signs. But again, I make no claim that these are facts indisputable and I am not infallible, but only reporting what God has shown me, and others, things that may be coming upon the earth.
DANIEL OPENS UP TO OUR UNDERSTANDING
When Daniel had revealed what was to come upon the earth, beginning in chapter 12, Daniel inquired of God when all this would come to pass. What did God say to the prophet?
“And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end” (Daniel 12:8-9).
These signs were quite disconcerting for the prophet and he inquired of their fulfillment and was told the signs of the times would be sealed until the time of the end. Knowing full well that the signs are all around us, I believe the signs are being opened up to us to understand. I’m amazed at how many ministers are becoming aware of these signs in the heavens that are possible precursors to the coming of our Lord. Do we get any of this wrong? None of us are infallible, but each minister takes his interpretation and prayerfully asks the Holy Spirit to lead them into all truth.
Do we all agree? Not on everything, as this minister believes that the coming signs point to a pre-Tribulation removal of the church before the beginning of Jacob’s trouble. Why do I say that? Some make a distinction of the Day of the Lord and the beginning of the Tribulation to be two separate events. Both have one thing in common and that is God’s wrath. But we are not the focus of God’s wrath, as God told Isaiah that He would punish the world for it’s wickedness but the people of God would be hidden away.
“Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.
Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.
For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain” (Isaiah 26:19-21).
TWO OR THREE WITNESSES CONFIRM A MATTER
“This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” (2 Corinthians 13:1).
There are more witnesses than even this, if we follow what the Bible tells us about the end of days.
Witness number one:
[Jesus said,] “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:34).
Taking our Lord literally, we know that a generation is 70 years for man, 80 by strength:
“The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength theybe fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away” (Psalm 90:10).
When Jesus was on earth He said that this generation would not pass, as noted in the above verses, but also identified in His Word that a generation is 70-80 years. I believe that time clock started ticking away again when Israel became a nation according to the parable of the fig tree.
“Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all thesethings, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 21:33-35).
As we have studied in the past, Israel is that fig tree and she bloomed once again, prophetically in 1948, when she became a nation as declared by David Ben-Gurion and ratified by the UN charter. That is when the 70-year time clock began once again to tick for the generation who would also see the Lord’s return.
Witness number two:
The liberation of Jerusalem in the Six Day War of 1967 began the countdown for the year of Jubilee. What is the year of Jubiliee? It is the definition of property rights and land ownership, the freeing of slaves but more important it is the beginning and end of the generation. I take you to the definition found in Strongs #1755 and the Hebrew word “dowr” which describes the meaning of the Jubliee as, “ period, generation, dwelling, age and habitation.” If you take the capture of Jerusalem as returned to the Jewish people and the nation of Israel from 1967-1968, adding 50 years, you come to the end of that generation — that is also the end of the length of a generation according to Psalm and they both fall in the year 2017.
Witness number three:
The last clue to the end of a generation is the coming Blood Moon Tetrads that fall on a Feast of Tabernacles on2014 and 2015. Can all these clues be pure coincidence? The possibility of this occurrence by chance is unfathomable. It is impossible in the human realm for all these clues to be colliding with one another.
LET’S REVIEW WHAT WE HAVE LEARNED
We have established the premise that Jesus was giving the disciples an “idiom” that pointed to His telling them that He would return on a future Feast Day of Trumpets some time in the next two thousand years which is our time. We have established that all things are connected to Israel and surround her as the key to prophetic events past, present and future, if you have been following any of my articles from the past.
We have established with witness after witness points to a generation being fulfilled in the year 2017-2018. And the cap on the stone is the signs of the sun and the moon that are signs in the heavens that Jesus said would be occurring just before the “Day of the Lord” We know that the day of the Lord begins in chapter 6 of Revelation, as this is when God’s wrath is falling about the heads of earth dwellers.
“And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great
earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.
And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;
And said to the mountains and rocks, fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” (Revelation 6:12-17)
This signals the beginning of the Day of Wrath, the Day of the Lord’s wrath upon the earth. It begins an awful time of gloom, death and destruction.
“That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness, A day of the trumpet and alarm against the fenced cities, and against the high towers. And I will bring distress upon men, that they shall walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the LORD: and their blood shall be poured out as dust, and their flesh as the dung” (Zephaniah 1:16-17).
This day begins with the opening of the first seal in chapter 6 and continues unabated until God sends His seventh angel with the vial or bowl judgment to pour out His vengeance from the cup of His indignation without mixture, meaning full-strength.
To bring this time of judgment, the church looks for a sign of hope, of blessings, and the fulfillment of God’s promise to His true church.
“Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown” (Revelation 3: 11).
Finally, brethren, take one last look at the coming signs that have been forecast and prophesied by men and by God respectively. Any of the following and what is addressed above does not mean that the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ will definitely occur in what I have taught here, as they are signs that show that the time is close, right at the door. But to pinpoint a date, as some have done is not in our knowledge. Only the Father knows for sure and it is in His authority to show it to His saints and His ministers. The above taken as a whole does show is a pattern of how God has been working up to this time and signs that are coming in the near future. If that is the case one could see the following table in conclusion:
1) The first Tetrad was in 1493-1494 and heralded the Jewish Dispersion from Spain and the Jews were scattered.
2) The Second Tetrad of 1949-1950 heralded the Israel becoming a nation and the re-gathering of the Jews to their homeland.
3) The Third Tetrad of 1967-1967 ushered in Israel regaining control of Jerusalem and recapturing the Temple Mount.
4) The Fourth Tetrad coming in 2014-2015 point to a major event for Israel. Could be connected to the restart of the Temple being built, and followed by Tribulation. Last, we have identified that 2016 and 2017 is the only date for another 500 years that will have this prophesied sign in the heavens to proclaim the coming of the Lord on the Feast of Trumpets.
A CALL TO REPENTANCE
My reader, you have been given the evidence. You can search the Internet and your Bible to prove what you have read is truth. God is speaking to all who will listen. But make no mistake about one thing — Jesus is coming, very soon. A wise man calling himself a Christian gets his house in order. Don’t let the Lord find you ashamed on that day or standing naked and caught unaware.
To the fence sitter and the unrepentant, today is the day of salvation. There may be no other chance for you in this life to do so.
“We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation)” (2 Corinthians 6:1-2).
Do not reject so great a salvation as to do so will condemn you for all eternity.
“To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:4-5).
Do not refuse the calling of the Holy Spirit, as He calls you today, even as you read this. Prove all things to yourself. Reach out to Him who is able to free you from this sinful world and bring you to a place where He wants to put your name and spend all eternity in the light of His glory.
A day is fast approaching, a day of gloom, darkness and incredible sadness for all who have rejected the free offering of His grace by accepting the sacrifice of His Son on a cruel Roman cross to be a substitution of the penalty that each of us deserve─death! But He wishes to make you alive in Christ Jesus.
Won’t you take that opportunity to accept that sacrifice right now? You are promised only today to live your life and tomorrow might be too late.
“And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better things than that of Abel. See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For
if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:
Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.
Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:24-29).
For COMING tomorrow, very soon is a day of redemption for all who believe in God’s only begotten Son, and to those who reject Him: A BLOOD MOON RISING AND THE DAY OF THE LORD!
(Reuters) – Pope Benedict asked the faithful to pray for him and for the next pope, in his penultimate Sunday address to a crowded St. Peter’s Square before becoming the first pontiff in centuries to resign.
The crowd chanted “Long live the pope!,” waved banners and broke into sustained applause as he spoke from his window. The 85-year-old Benedict, who will abdicate on February 28, thanked them in several languages.
Speaking in Spanish, he told the crowd which the Vatican said numbered more than 50,000: “I beg you to continue praying for me and for the next pope”.
It was not clear why the pope chose Spanish to make the only specific reference to his upcoming resignation in his Sunday address.
A number of cardinals have said they would be open to the possibility of a pope from the developing world, be it Latin America, Africa or Asia, as opposed to another from Europe, where the Church is crisis and polarized.
“I can imagine taking a step towards a black pope, an African pope or a Latin American pope,” Cardinal Kurt Koch, a Swiss Vatican official who will enter the conclave to choose the next pope, told Reuters in an interview.
After his address, the pope retired into the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace for a scheduled, week-long spiritual retreat and will not make any more public appearances until next Sunday.
Speaking in Italian in part of his address about Lent, the period when Christians reflect on their failings and seek guidance in prayer, the pope spoke of the difficulty of making important decisions.
“In decisive moments of life, or, on closer inspection, at every moment in life, we are at a crossroads: do we want to follow the ‘I’, or God? The individual interest, or the real good, that which is really good?” he said.
FOR THE GOOD OF THE CHURCH
The pope has said his physical and spiritual forces are no longer strong enough to sustain him in the job of leading the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics at a time of crisis for the Church in a fast-changing world.
Benedict’s papacy was rocked by crises over the sex abuse of children by priests in Europe and the United States, most of which preceded his time in office but came to light during it.
His reign also saw Muslim anger after he compared Islam to violence. Jews were upset over his rehabilitation of a Holocaust denier. During a scandal over the Church’s business dealings, his butler was convicted of leaking his private papers.
his shock announcement last Monday, the pope has said several times that he made the difficult decision to become the first pope in more than six centuries to resign for the good of the Church. Aides said he was at peace with himself.
“In a funny way he is even more peaceful now with this decision, unlike the rest of us, he is not somebody who gets choked up really easily,” said Greg Burke, a senior media advisor to the Vatican.
“I think that has a lot to do with his spiritual life and who he is and the fact he is such a prayerful man,” Burke told Reuters Television.
People in the crowd said the pope was a shadow of the man he was when elected on April 19, 2005.
“Like always, recently, he seemed tired, moved, perplexed, uncertain and insecure,” said Stefan Malabar, an Italian in St. Peter’s Square.
“It’s something that really has an effect on you because the pope should be a strong and authoritative figure but instead he seems very weak, and that really struck me,” he said.
The Vatican has said the conclave to choose his successor could start earlier than originally expected, giving the Roman Catholic Church a new leader by mid-March.
Some 117 cardinals under the age of 80 will be eligible to enter the secretive conclave which, according to Church rules, has to start between 15 and 20 days after the papacy becomes vacant, which it will on February 28.
But since the Church is now dealing with an announced resignation and not a sudden death, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said the Vatican would be “interpreting” the law to see if it could start earlier.
Cardinals around the world have already begun informal consultations by phone and email to construct a profile of the man they think would be best suited to lead the Church in a period of continuing crisis.
The Vatican appears to be aiming to have a new pope elected and then formally installed before Palm Sunday on March 24 so he can preside at Holy Week services leading to Easter.
New details emerged at the weekend about Benedict’s health.
Peter Seewald, a German journalist who wrote a book with the pope in 2010 in which Benedict first floated the possibility of resigning, visited him again about 10 weeks ago.
“His hearing had deteriorated. He couldn’t see with his left eye. His body had become so thin that the tailors had difficulty in keeping up with newly fitted clothes … I’d never seen him so exhausted-looking, so worn down,” Seewald said.
The pope will say one more Sunday noon prayer on February 24 and hold a final general audience on February 27.
The next day he will take a helicopter to the papal summer retreat at Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome, where he will stay for around two months before moving to a convent inside the Vatican where he will live out his remaining years.
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.
Jesus had this to say, and much more, to the religious leaders of His day.
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.” (Matthew 23:27)
I wonder what He would say to us today. My guess is He could use the same words and still be right on target.
Even as Christians, none of us are perfect, but just how many who are in leadership positions today are truly Christians? Let me put it this way. Knowing what we know about the scribes and Pharisees, were they saved? What did Jesus say concerning this?
“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” (John 8:44)
So Jesus cut right to the chase. With their attitude of self-righteousness, they were not saved. They were as lost as a feather in a strong wind out over the ocean. To get the full flavor of those Jesus was addressing, or dressing down, in Matthew 23, read the entire chapter. If these guys didn’t get their heart right before God through Jesus before they died, and some did, they must have a made a big splash when they landed in the fires of hell.
It is very tragic that today we too have church leaders who are playing church on their way to hell. Not only that, they are leading so many others along with them.
Satan is throwing every lie he can at people in these last days, because time is running out for him, and so many people are buying his false gospel. Apostasy seems to be growing rapidly in these final days before Christ’s return, as Jesus said it would.
Is it really easier to believe a lie than a truth? I suppose it is when that is what you really want to hear, and someone is pulling you in that direction, that someone being Satan’s henchmen of course.
Some denominations that were actually founded by strong Christians are now nothing more than spiritual graveyards pulling people away from God’s Truth. Schools of learning such as Harvard and Yale, once Biblically based are now nothing more than bastions of evil thought.
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6)
The airwaves are saturated with religious teachers, preachers, evangelists, and pastors, who are wolves in sheep’s clothing, bilking the life blood from innocent people who are searching for the Truth. What do they get in place of the Truth? Instead of steak and potatoes they get watered down worm infested soup not fit to feed to swine.
Are there any men and women of God left who stand with God? Are there any left who aren’t trying to fleece the innocent? Yes there are, but if you don’t know the original, you may very well be taken in by the counterfeit. I’m referring to God’s Word in comparison to man’s word of course.
Why isn’t there a fire in the soul of self-professing Christians? Could it be that they have accepted the teaching of those who are nothing more than white washed sepulchres?
“1This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. [Emphasis mine] 6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:1-7)
Notice verse five again in the above passage. If you don’t know the Word of God for yourself, you will in all likelihood be taken in by those false leaders who appear to be righteous, but are not.
According to Jesus, they have put on a veneer of righteousness that looks good and sounds good, but they are phony. They are rotten inside.
I was listening to a minister yesterday, not by choice, that was spewing some of the most outlandish dribble I’ve heard for a while, and out in his audience were those innocent souls soaking it all up. Why? They did so because very few Christians are like the Bereans of Paul’s day who searched the Scriptures daily.
“10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” (Acts 17:10-11)
Why are there so many white washed sepulchres with such large followings today? The answer lies in the laziness and gullibility of those who claim to be a Christian. All they can see is the glitter. They don’t have enough Biblical sense to discern real gold from fool’s gold. Again, why? They want to be spoon fed the Gospel and often accept a false gospel. I am convinced that the charlatans who prey upon others know this. They know that few will actually search the Scriptures for the Truth. Instead of reading and studying for themselves what God has to say, they depend on others to tell them. Bad idea!
Every Christian should have a “Berean” attitude about the Scriptures. When we have that attitude, we are blessed beyond measure because we actually get the Truth, not opinions of others or out-right lies. In addition, when we hear the false gospel of man, we smell the stench of “dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.”
Whether people gather in a small poorly constructed building on a country lane, or a grand cathedral on Main Street, they need to know that what they are hearing is the Truth. When you turn on your television or radio to listen to your favorite ministers, are they providing you with the Truth or their opinion or a lie? If searching God’s Word is not part of your day, you will never know.
Behind the pulpits, on the radio and by the television are God’s men who preach the Truth. These are usually the guys who will encourage you to check out what they say by comparing it with the Scriptures. Unfortunately, there are many, many more who will either lie to you or are just plain ignorant of the Word. How are you going to know which is which? How are you going to know that what you are hearing is the Truth?
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
There is no thrill like knowing God’s Word, the Bible, for yourself. It is a rich, rewarding and humbling experience. It is communication between you and the Lord that can’t be topped.
Watch out for the white washed sepulchres though. They are abundant. They look good. They sound good. They tell you just what you want to hear, and that’s fine, if it’s the Truth. Is it? Find out for yourself. Get in the Bible today.
Several years ago, Ludwig Schneider, a German-language scholar, discovered an amazing prophecy dating back to 1217 by a scholarly and highly respected rabbi by the name of Judah Ben Samuel.
He was quite famous in his time as the initiator of the Chassidic Ashkenaz, a movement of Jewish mysticism in Germany. He founded a yeshiva in Regensburg and secured many pupils. Legend has it that, as a young man, he was an excellent bowman but knew little or nothing about daily prayers. But once he got serious about his faith, legend has it that he performed many miracles. It is also reported that he was given a prophecy about the exact year of Israel’s rebirth as a nation and its redemption.
So renowned was his work, the Bishop of Salzburg asked him to serve as his personal seer.
Because most of his writings were published so long ago – before the invention of the printing press – and in German, few copies have survived. But Schneider has a copy of Judah Ben Samuel’s prophecy about the nation of Israel and the messianic era and has translated the highlights of it into English and other languages for the magazine Israel Today.
The prophecy involves the Jubilee Year cycle every 50 years. I should point out there’s much controversy about pinpointing Jubilee Years because they have been observed in Israel since ancient times, while no one is 100 percent certain about when they should occur on the modern Hebrew calendar.
However, in the year Judah Ben Samuel died in 1217, he prophesied that the Ottoman Turks would rule over the holy city of Jerusalem for eight Jubilees. Now, keep in mind, he made this prediction 300 years before the Turks seized control of Jerusalem in 1517. In fact, the Ottoman Empire, as it would become to be known, did not even really exist yet in 1217.
According to Judah Ben Samuel, 1217 was a Jubilee Year. If he was right, that would also make 1517 a Jubilee Year.
Exactly 400 years after the Ottoman Turks took control of Jerusalem in 1517, they were driven out of the city and the Holy Land in 1917 by the Allied forces under the command of Gen. George Allenby – on Hanukkah, by the way.
But it gets more interesting still.
The rabbi also prophesied that during the ninth Jubilee Jerusalem would be a “no-man’s land.” This is exactly what happened from 1917 to 1967, due to the fact that the Holy Land was placed under British Mandate in 1917 by the League of Nations and literally “belonged” to no nation. Even after Israel’s war of independence in 1948-49 Jerusalem was still divided by a strip of land running right through the heart of the city, with Jordan controlling the eastern part of the city and Israel controlling the western part of the city. That strip of land was considered and even called “no-man’s land” by both the Israelis and the Jordanians.
It was not until the Six Day War in 1967 when the entire west bank of the holy land was conquered by the Israeli army that the whole city of Jerusalem passed back into the possession of Israel. So once again the prophecy made by the rabbi 750 years previously was fulfilled to the letter.
It certainly would be significant if indeed both 1917 and 1967 were Jubilee years considering the significance of what happened in Jerusalem on those years. But it gets better.
The rabbi also prophesied that during the 10th Jubilee, Jerusalem would be under the control of the Jews and the Messianic “end times” would begin. The 10th Jubilee began in 1967 and will be concluded in – 2017.
What should we expect to happen in 2017? I will leave that to your imagination.
But one thing is certain: Judah Ben Samuel made some truly remarkable prophecies that came to pass. We’ll have to wait about four more years to see if his final prediction does as well.
What on earth is happening in the Middle East? It seems that all we hear about in the news from this region is another outburst of violence – or a threat of one.
In his address at the U.N. last month, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threatened once again to eliminate Israel. Also in a recent speech, he spoke of some Islamic “messiah,” as well as a new world order.
As we look at the attacks on our embassies around the world, and specifically the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, it is now clear that the war on terror has not been won.
When Osama bin Laden was killed, we hoped that might be the end of it. But after Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, were murdered in Libya, there were people rioting in the streets and burning American flags. As they waited for their close-ups from the American media, they chanted together to the cameras, “Take a picture, Obama! We are all Osama!” That pretty much says it all. The message of Osama bin Laden and the terrorists appears to be alive and well.
And what about the so-called Arab Spring? What some thought might be a hopeful sign, perhaps a surge of democracy in the Middle East, has not turned out so well. So what is the explanation of all of this chaos and confusion? What in the world is happening?
The short answer is that Bible prophecy is being lived out in real time before our very eyes. The Bible has predicted the things that are happening in this part of the world. Scripture is very clear in pointing out that the end of the world will be centered in the Middle East. And it has all been foretold in the only book that accurately predicts the future: the Bible.
Thousands of years ago, Hebrew prophets predicted the Jewish people would be scattered across the earth and then later regathered. Jesus, in fact, gave a very specific prediction when he said the temple in Jerusalem that was being rebuilt by Herod at the time would not only be destroyed, but also would be dismantled, stone by stone (see Matthew 24:1).
Did that prediction reach fulfillment? Yes, it did. Because all historians agree that in A.D. 70, Titus and the Roman legions marched into Jerusalem, slaughtered thousands of Jews and dismantled the temple. Why did they dismantle it? Because there was gold in the temple, which had been burned, and they had to dismantle it to extract the melted gold. This fulfilled, to the letter, the prophecy of Christ. Also at this time, the Jews were scattered.
Fast-forward many years to the Holocaust, when Hitler sought to eradicate the Jewish people from the face of the earth. Thankfully, the United States, Great Britain and their allies stopped the Nazi war machine. And what happened in the aftermath of the Holocaust was nothing short of amazing. The Jewish people began to return to their homeland. And on May 14, 1948, a modern miracle happened. The state of Israel was officially declared.
Here was a nation that had been dispersed for centuries, and then it was regathered. This has never happened again in history. And this was a super-sign that started the prophetic clock ticking. The people of Israel were back in their homeland again.
But there was still a problem. Israel did not have control of Jerusalem, and Jerusalem plays a key role in the end-times scenario. Although they had declared their statehood, Jordan was still controlling the old city of Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount and most of the historic sites. Then the Six Day War broke out in 1967, in which Israel was attacked. No one expected her to survive. Not only did Israel survive the attack, but she won the war and gained back a lot of the things she had lost, including the old city. And for the first time in more than 2,000 years, the city of Jerusalem was under Jewish control.
Yet to this present day, Jerusalem remains at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with Arab leaders worldwide insisting that Jerusalem and the entire West Bank are rightfully Palestinian territory and ultimately must be given back as a condition of peace.
Of course, I am going to side with God on this issue. God gave Jerusalem to Israel. He said to Abraham in Genesis 15:18, “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates. …” (NKJV). He gave that land to Israel, and the Israelis are not going to give up the city of Jerusalem.
The Bible predicts that the city of Jerusalem will be at the epicenter of it all, and the attention of the planet will be directed toward Israel and toward the city of Jerusalem.
Is this happening now? Yes, it is. All of this is happening just as the Bible predicted it would.
So let’s go over the chronology of events the Bible has predicted: Israel will be scattered. Has this happened? Yes. Israel will be regathered after her people are scattered. Has this happened? Again, yes. Israel will regain the city of Jerusalem. Has this happened? Yes. Israel will be isolated from the other nations of the world and basically will stand alone. Has that happened? Not quite, but it appears to be moving in that direction. Lastly, Israel will be attacked. Has that happened? Not yet, and not on the scale the Bible predicts. This is still in the future, but perhaps the near future.
Scripture specifically tells us that world history, as we know it, will culminate in this part of the world. Some people would assert that it is not important to study Bible prophecy, but I beg to differ. We must study Bible prophecy. The reason we should want to learn about the future is so we will be motivated to live rightly in the present.
Revelation 1:3 "Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near".
Watchman for Christ