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This page contains all Commentary entries for 2013. Use the text links provided at the beginning of each month to navigate throughout the page. The menu below will take you to similar pages for previous years.

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09/15/2013 — From the "I Couldn't Make This Stuff Up" Department...

Pope Francis says you don't have to believe in God to go to heaven! That's right, you lucky devils, you. It seems that the Roman Catholic Religious Organization (I'm sorry, I just have too much respect for the word "church") is, uhm, slightly modifying the criterion to get into heaven. Just a tad.

And it's been DEFCON 1 for Vatican spin doctors ever since, who have been frantically backpedaling and trying to "explain" what the pope really meant.

Apparently the new party line is that in order to go to heaven, all you have to do is obey your conscience...and hey, even atheists can do that!

So what a bunch of dopes we've been, huh? Carping about that "whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish" business. Well, that's a load off.

All wisecracks aside, however, let's think this through. The upshot is that the pope is affirming the idea that each person has God inside them, in the form of their conscience—one's inner sense of right and wrong. The idea is that your conscience is essentially your little piece of God that is nestled cozily inside you, and so if you believe you have a conscience (which we all do, with the exception of drooling psychotics and certain members of the Obama administration), then it's kinda the same as believing in God. And so if you obey your conscience, it's kinda the same as obeying God. And if you obey God, He's gotta let you through those pearly turnstiles, right?

But here's the part that the pope, in all his man-made religious and philosophical wisdom, doesn't understand. And it is critical. Yes, you have a conscience. But God's Word says it is disconnected from God and infested with sin because you have a sin nature. It has a gaping hole in it shaped like God that only God can fill, and He can only fill it when you come to the realization that you are a sinner, believe in faith that His Son's death and resurrection paid the penalty for your sin, satisfied the Father's justice on your behalf, and has given you the free gift of eternal life in heaven. And there is no other way.

And as you can see, it requires faith in the atoning work of Jesus Christ, not obedience to your sin-infested conscience.

Prophetic significance? Easy. Can you say "one world religion"?

09/22/2013 — In an article in the Jerusalem Post, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas claimed he was "serious" about reaching a peace deal with Israel. He also said that there would be no Israel between Palestine and Jordan, since the border of Palestine would run from the Dead Sea up through the Jordan Valley up to Beit She'an.

Translation: As soon as you agree to give us everything we want, we will agree to start negotiating.

In case you don't happen to have a map of Israel handy, this essentially translates to the pre-1967 borders, which translates to the 1948 borders, which translates to an Israel that is pinched into two indefensible pieces, which translates to a Middle East without Israel within a matter of months.

The Palestinians do have a plan—but it has precious little to do with peace. The only one who will bring peace to the Middle East is the Prince of Peace.

And when He does, the world will be shocked to discover what the expression "pre-1967 borders" really means.

09/29/2013 — Ah, love is in the air...at least it is at the United Nations. An article in the New York Times describes how the overtures the West (read the Obama administration) is making toward Iran and their new president Hassan Rouhani are leaving Israel in a position to either reluctantly go along with what is viewed by many Israelis as continued Iranian charades meant to buy time, or risk enhancing their growing reputation as a regional spoilsport.

Rouhani is embarking on a charm offensive to lure the U.S. into "negotiations" in regard to Iran's nuclear program, and Obama is falling all over himself to take the bait. Obama's humiliating failure and staggering lack of leadership in Syria extinguished any lingering embers of faith that Israel had in Obama's assurances that he "has their back," and if this was in need of an exclamation point, the current Iranian lovefest serves the purpose quite nicely.

It puts Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an incredibly awkward position, because he (for one) knows Iran cannot be negotiated with in good faith. He knows Iran seeks to destroy Israel, and a change of leadership in Tehran changes nothing. Most Israelis (sadly, not all) know that Rouhani is nothing but a wolf in sheep's clothing taking over for a wolf in wolf's clothing.

Yet if Netanyahu acts in Israel's best interest (and as prudence would dictate), he risks further isolating Israel in the eyes of the world as a warmongering misfit who just can't work and play well with others—which is precisely the way the world will see Israel during the Tribulation.

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10/06/2013 — How bad could the situation at Fukushima become? You may be sorry you asked after reading this article at the Times of Israel.

Hint: How does 15,000 times worse than Hiroshima grab you?

No? How about all of humanity being threatened for thousands of years?

Apparently there are thousands of fuel rods that must be removed from the crippled nuclear reactor, and it must be done with extreme precision. Precision that TEPCO is arguably not capable of.

You know, every time I read an update concerning Fukushima, I recall the following verse from Revelation:

8The second angel sounded, and something like a great burning mountain was thrown into the sea. One third of the sea became blood, and 9one third of the living creatures which were in the sea died. One third of the ships were destroyed.

(Revelation 8:8–9 / emphasis added)

There may be no connection between the two, but it does make you stop and think.

10/13/2013 — With the so-called government "shutdown" hogging the headlines, here's a news item that has scarcely seen the light of day (surprise, surprise). Senior investigative reporter and Jerusalem bureau chief for World Net Daily Aaron Klein reports that the Obama administration is twisting Israel's arm out of its socket to surrender and vacate the Jordan Valley in the interest of reaching an agreement with the Palestinians. Secretary of State John Kerry is pushing every available button—and pushing it hard—for an "all-encompassing final status deal" on the Jordan Valley, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Temple Mount.

This story will no doubt be popping up from time to time in my Commentary section during the coming months, because this is huge. From the perspective of Bible prophecy, this is pretty much the story to keep an eye on. In fact, I have a feeling that so many Americans would disapprove of the arm-twisting that the Obama administration is applying to Israel that it wouldn't surprise me a bit if all these shutdown/default histrionics are being used as a diversion to distract the public's attention. Why not? They've done it before—it works.

I don't want to crawl too far out on the proverbial limb here, but I'll share with you what I see coming out of this. By establishing a nine-month time frame for a two-state deal (a time frame which, interestingly enough, ends right around Passover 2014), the Obama administration has painted itself into a corner—they cannot come away empty-handed. They must come away in the spring with something, even if it's nothing more than a piece of paper that would make a better paper airplane than peace agreement. It may actually accomplish nothing, and will probably just be an interim agreement. Remember the phrase "interim agreement"—you will hear it again. Trust me.

Daniel 9:27 says the Antichrist will confirm or strengthen a seven-year treaty with Israel, and that will formally initiate Daniel's 70th Week, or the Tribulation. It doesn't say he will simply negotiate and/or sign an agreement. The Hebrew makes it clear that He will enforce it—implement it—and the implication seems to be that it will be a treaty that already exists at the time. I believe it is entirely possible that this will turn out to be that agreement, which apparently will be negotiated and signed by the spring of 2014 (again, probably as an interim agreement) and will be in place for the Antichrist—whoever he may be—to enforce or implement at some point in the future in fulfillment of Daniel 9:27.

(Of course, there's always the chance that this could be the real deal and we could be months—or weeks—away from the Rapture. That'll work, too.)

If you believe in the pre-tribulation Rapture (which I absolutely do), you have reason to be in a state of, shall we say, guarded anticipation.

10/20/2013 — According to an article at the Times of Israel, Egypt may be ready to look to Russia for military aid and support in the wake of the Obama administration's recent decision to cut most of the $1.5 billion worth of aid it had been providing Egypt each year for the past several decades.

Apparently Obama is dissatisfied with Egypt's progress toward a stable democratic government, and has decided the best way to deal with the situation is to cut off military aid from the world's foremost democracy. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told Obama point blank and in no uncertain terms that this is a strategic error, and rightly so.

What is clear to Netanyahu but seemingly lost on Obama is the fact that if the United States drastically cuts military aid to Egypt, they will get it elsewhere—and in this case "elsewhere" is spelled R-u-s-s-i-a. The more the West (read Obama) stiff-arms Egypt, the more they will be drawn into Russia's ever expanding sphere of influence.

OK, so why is this significant?

That brings us to the prophetic aspect of all this.

There is a popular theory that has taken Bible prophecy circles by storm over the last several years, popularized in the best-selling book Israelestine: The Ancient Blueprints of the Future Middle East by a man named Bill Salus. In a nutshell, the Salus scenario has countries and groups immediately surrounding Israel—the so-called "inner-ring" countries including Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Palestinians, Iraq, and Egypt—attacking the Jewish state, but being resoundingly defeated by Israel's superior military forces in the battle of Psalm 83. This supposedly gives Israel a false sense of peace and security, and then the outer-ring countries—Russia, Iran, Turkey, Libya, Sudan, Ethiopia, Algeria, etc.—will come against Israel, only this time they will be defeated by divine intervention as God shows the world that He fights for Israel.

The inspiration for Mr. Salus's rather speculative scenario revolves around the observation that the players of Psalm 83 do not appear to be mentioned in Ezekiel 38–39, which, given their maniacal hatred for and desire to destroy Israel, seems a bit surprising. This little personal flash of insight led him to conclude that Psalm 83 must be a separate war that precedes the invasion of Ezekiel 38–39. Then he wrote a book and built a ministry around it.

Others, however (this writer included), disagree with Mr. Salus. I could write an entire article about it (in fact, I just might), but the Salus scenario is not without serious problems. For one thing, there are solid biblical reasons to question whether or not Psalm 83 is even a future prophecy to begin with. And even if you assume it is, when you place Psalm 83 and Ezekiel 38–39 side by side, you find that the similarities are striking and the apparent differences are easily reconciled. As a result, many believe they describe the same battle.

Which brings us back to the above news article. If Egypt (one of the inner-ring countries supposedly involved in Psalm 83) starts getting chummy with Russia in a military way, it would seem to lend support to the idea that Egypt will in fact be part of the Ezekiel 38–39 coalition.

That is, it suggests that Salus's speculative scenario is just that: speculation.

Best-selling speculation, but speculation nonetheless.

No one should be dogmatic about this, since Mr. Salus could still conceivably turn out to be right. But whichever view you take, Egypt getting into bed with Russia is clearly another step toward the fulfillment of the battle of Gog of Magog outlined in Ezekiel 38–39, an event that may well be one of the last things the Church witnesses.

Assuming we are still here.

10/27/2013 — There is ominous news in an article in the Daily Mail. According to Dr. Arjun Srinivasan, associate director of the CDC (the Center for Disease Control and Prevention), the "age of antibiotics is over."

According to Dr. Srinivasan, people and animals have been so overmedicated by so-called "miracle drugs" that antibacterial resistance has reached a critical threshold. About 10 years ago, outbreaks of MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) infections began to occur and now doctors are routinely seeing patients with infections that could have easily been treated just five years ago, but which can no longer be treated.

This fits right in with what Jesus told His disciples in the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24, where He is giving four of His closest disciples an inside briefing in response to their questions about His return to establish His kingdom (i.e., the Second Coming...not the Rapture). In describing conditions that will characterize the Tribulation, Jesus makes reference to the spread of disease:

6You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you aren't troubled, for all this must happen, but the end is not yet. 7For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there will be famines, plagues, and earthquakes in various places.

(Matthew 24:6–7 / emphasis added)

This also ties in with Revelation 6, which describes the first part of the Tribulation and parallels Matthew 24:

7When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the fourth living creature saying, "Come and see!" 8And behold, a pale horse, and he who sat on it, his name was Death. Hades followed with him. Authority over one fourth of the earth, to kill with the sword, with famine, with death, and by the wild animals of the earth was given to him.

(Revelation 6:7–8)

One thing to note is that many people believe that when Jesus mentioned general conditions such as wars and rumors of wars, famines, plagues or pestilences, earthquakes, and so on, He was talking about the Tribulation, not the entire period of the last two thousand years. In other words, He wasn't talking about just any old run-of-the-mill famines, plagues, or earthquakes—He was talking about those famines, plagues, and earthquakes that would occur during the Tribulation.

I mention this because there are many people who mock and criticize those who take an active interest in what the Bible has to say about the end times for trying to read prophecy into every news headline (sometimes disparagingly referred to as "newspaper exegesis"). Sometimes well-meaning believers err in their exuberance by claiming that every famine, earthquake, war, or epidemic that comes along is the fulfillment of Bible prophecy.

The problem is that this is simply not so. This attitude weakens the impact of real fulfilled prophecy because it makes it easy for unbelievers to ridicule Bible-believing Christians, basically saying:

Bible prophecy? Get outta here. There have always been famines, earthquakes, wars, and epidemics. Big deal.

And they have a point.

Many Bible prophecy teachers believe that the general signs Jesus mentions in Matthew 24 apply specifically to the Tribulation because they parallel Revelation 6, which is clearly after the Tribulation has begun.

So, there's good news and bad news.

The good news is that the Tribulation hasn't started yet.

The bad news is that when it does, it will be worse than anything the world has ever seen.

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11/03/2013 — From the "Why Am I Not Surprised" Department...

Turkey and Iran BFF?? OK, maybe "Best Friends Forever" is overstating it just a tad, but according to an article from Yahoo News Canada, it seems the historically cool relationship between Turkey and Iran is beginning to thaw a bit over the situation in Syria (of all things).

Iran has been one of beleaguered Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's strongest supporters, while Turkey has been one of his harshest critics during Syria's nearly three-year civil war. As a result, Turkey and Iran have found themselves on opposite sides of the Syrian conflict.

Now, both countries are ready to try and put their differences aside and come together in a mutual effort to contain and hopefully resolve the sectarian conflict that has engulfed Syria, and see their ability to work together as a key to stability in the region.

Well, isn't that special.

So, why exactly doesn't this surprise me?

In Ezekiel 38:1–6, the ancient tribal names are listed of a Russian-led coalition that comes against Israel in the general time frame of the Tribulation—a coalition that is destroyed by the supernatural intervention of God Himself. Although the precise timing of this invasion (often simply referred to as "Gog Magog") with respect to the seven-year Tribulation has long been one of the most hotly debated topics in Bible prophecy circles, one thing that is not hotly debated is the fact the list of players clearly includes—you guessed it—both Turkey and Iran.

When the time comes, and that time may be sooner than many think, whatever divides these countries will recede into the shadow of what unites them: a hatred of and desire to destroy Israel. The fact that fences are being mended between Turkey and Iran even now should be a wake-up call to students of Bible prophecy.

Are you awake yet?

11/10/2013 — Forget the Bad Deal (uh, Brain-Dead Deal?) the U.S. seems to be on the brink of signing with Iran that will allow them to continue their inexorable march toward a nuclear weapon while accommodating them with greatly relaxed sanctions.

Forget the ongoing nightmare at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan that threatens the world and its marine life.

Forget Lady Gaga's newest album.

This is really scary.

According to an article in the Independent, genetic researchers have announced what is being hailed as a historic breakthrough in the technology of gene manipulation.

A new technique known as Crispr allows geneticists to edit the genome with a degree of ease and precision that has been the stuff of science fiction since the discovery of DNA. Unlike previous techniques, which are highly inaccurate and can be risky, the Crispr technique allows geneticists to edit any sequence on the genome with 100 percent accuracy, and is being described as simple and safe.

Dr. Craig Mello, professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and co-recipient of the Nobel Prize for medicine in 2006 for his research in genetics, described it as "jaw-dropping."

If there is such a thing as the Holy Grail of genetics, this is it.

And I can just hear people now:

Wow, that's terrific! So what's scary about technology that could eradicate all kinds of terrible diseases? What is it with all you paranoid prophecy whackos?!

Well, here's what it means to this particular paranoid prophecy whacko:

The book of Revelation describes how the False Prophet will cause people to worship the Antichrist, and to receive a mark in their hands or foreheads in order to be able to buy or sell: the so-called mark of the beast. This mark, whatever form it takes, will represent nothing less than full allegiance to the Antichrist (as God) and full participation in his world system. An angelic messenger goes around the world warning people that if they take the mark, they will suffer the wrath of God without recourse.

16He causes all, the small and the great, the rich and the poor, and the free and the slave, to be given marks on their right hands, or on their foreheads; 17and that no one would be able to buy or to sell, unless he has that mark, the name of the beast or the number of his name.

9Another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a great voice, "If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead, or on his hand, 10he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is prepared unmixed in the cup of his anger. He will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb."

(Revelation 13:16–17; 14:9–10 / emphasis added)

Clearly, this is no ordinary mark—this will be something unlike anything the world has ever seen. Whatever it is, people will apparently be deceived into taking it in spite of angelic warnings. Later, with horrific judgments befalling them, people who have taken the mark are still unwilling (unable?) to repent.

For a number of years, this has led some prophecy buffs to speculate that this mark might somehow incorporate or be combined with technology that would alter people's DNA. But that's crazy talk...that's sci-fi, lunatic fringe stuff, right?

After reading this story, I'm beginning to wonder. Notice in the above passage of Scripture that it doesn't say people are forced to take the mark—they have a choice. They may be deceived, but they are not forced. So, what if this mark actually did involve receiving some kind of DNA upgrade? Some type of sophisticated genetic modification? How does more than tripling your lifespan sound? Just think of it:

Be part of the New World Order!
Register for the Mark today!
Live to the age of 300, disease free!

You think people would want that? You think people would worship a leader who promised them something like that?

Remember: Satan has an inferior counterfeit that appeals to the flesh for everything God does. Christ offers eternal life in a glorified body. Maybe the Antichrist will offer 300 years in a disease-free human body—if people just worship him as God and take his mark.

The bad news is that many deceived people will ignore the warnings and jump at the chance to take it.

The "good" news is that it will probably be a lot easier to sign up for than Obamacare.

11/17/2013 — Scientology is in the news this week, and I am happy to report that it has nothing to do with Tom Cruise.

According to an article in the Daily Mail, the Church of Scientology is set to cut the ribbon on a massive new complex called the Flag Building in Clearwater, Florida which, among other things, will house the organization's "Super Power" training program. Details are sketchy, but a promotional blurb from the organization accompanying the article claims something to the effect that the Super Power program will increase and enhance an individual's senses and thought processes through a series of rigorous mental and physical challenges.

In other words, it promises to help you become superhuman the Scientology way.

I won't bore you with the history of Scientology, but I believe it is instructive for Bible-believing Christians to note what some of their core beliefs are. To that end, I took the liberty of grabbing a few quotes from the organization's website at scientology.org:

"Man is an immortal spiritual being."

"His experience extends well beyond a single lifetime."

"His capabilities are unlimited, even if not presently realized."

"Man is basically good."

"He is seeking to Survive."

"His survival depends upon himself and upon his fellows and his attainment of brotherhood with the Universe."

This could effectively be summed up in one sentence:

You will be like God.

Hmm, I think I remember reading that somewhere...

4The serpent said to the woman, "You won't surely die, 5for God knows that in the day you eat it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.

(Genesis 3:4–5 / emphasis added)

Since the general thrust of this mixture of truth and lies blatantly contradicts Scripture (man is basically sinful, and his survival depends on the realizing that and availing himself of the grace of a holy God), this is pretty much all born-again believers need to know about Scientology. It's nothing but a repackaging of the same old spiel about how we can be as gods—the same spiel Satan used to captivate Eve back in the Garden of Eden.

Same old lie, same old liar.

It has never changed and it never will, because it works every single time on sinful, unregenerate men who refuse to seek the one true, living God and refuse to accept the incontrovertible fact that they will be held accountable to Him one day.

The hype and hoopla surrounding the grand opening of Scientology's Flag Building and its Super Power program makes this event a salient and sobering reminder of how Paul characterized the last days before the return of Christ:

1But know this, that in the last days, grievous times will come. 2For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3without natural affection, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, no lovers of good, 4traitors, headstrong, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; 5holding a form of godliness, but having denied its power. Turn away from these, also.

(2 Timothy 3:1–5 / emphasis added)

Scientology certainly has a form of godliness, and that god is you. And forget about God's power—it's the Super Power program that you need to develop it (for about a thousand bucks an hour).

But hey, who knows...you might get to meet Tom Cruise.

11/24/2013 — OK, so...lots of people don't believe the Bible is the Word of God. Fine. That's their right. I get that. But Costco recently took things to a new level, according to an article that appeared this past week on the Fox News website.

A pastor in Southern California was shopping for a gift for his wife in the book section of a Simi Valley Costco recently, and noticed that all the Bibles had a price sticker affixed to their plastic wrapping labeling them as "fiction."

Fiction.

Not "religion."

Not "spirituality."

Not "inspiration."

Not even "philosophy" or "self-improvement."

Fiction.

The pastor, Rev. Caleb Kaltenbach, was understandably shocked and upset—and unable to get a satisfactory answer from a Costco employee. So, he contacted Todd Starnes of Fox News, who ultimately wrote the article.

Once Fox News got involved, Costco quickly regrouped and responded that it was the result of "human error at a warehouse." Costco also wasted no time in issuing a boilerplate apology, something along the lines of "We're sure sorry about this little mix-up and didn't mean to offend anyone and it's all fixed now, yada yada yada. So...thank you for shopping at Costco."

Right.

You know, I might actually believe them if the Bibles had been labeled as "dinnerware" or "camping accessories."

Although this pastor was shocked, nothing about this surprises me in the least. I actually came across a different article on a different website about this same incident, only it was a website where people could leave comments on articles. Oh, and the raucous deluge of vicious anti-God, anti-Bible, anti-Christian mockery that the article prompted in the comment section?

Nothing about that surprises me in the least, either. You may as well get used to seeing this passage of Scripture in my Commentary section, because it's going to pop up again and again. No way around it.

1But know this, that in the last days, grievous times will come. 2For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3without natural affection, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, no lovers of good, 4traitors, headstrong, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God...7always learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.

(2 Timothy 3:1–4, 7 / emphasis added)

Most of the commenters were having a grand old time, making clever remarks about how a book with talking snakes and seas that magically part on cue had finally been correctly labeled.

Is it just me, or does anyone else appreciate the exquisite irony of the fact that when people mock and dismiss the Bible as fiction, they unwittingly prove the exact opposite?

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12/1/2013 — From the "With Enemies Like That, Who Needs Friends?" Department...

In a brilliant display of their razor-sharp negotiating skills in tense diplomatic standoffs, President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry really put the screws to Iran over the rogue nation's relentless, maniacal drive to develop nuclear weapons.

No doubt still sore from all the intense arm-twisting he endured at the hands of the Americans (or maybe the group hug at the wrap-up), President Hassan Rouhani of Iran smugly announced in an interview with the Financial Times that Iran will not dismantle one single nuclear facility. An article on Ynetnews reports that under the terms of the deal, there will be a major rollback of economic sanctions (the same sanctions that forced Iran to the negotiating table in the first place because they were working), and about the most substantial thing Iran agreed to do in return is meet again to continue talking in six months.

OK, let's review: Iran gets exactly what it wants and desperately needs—relief from crippling economic sanctions, and in return the Iranians don't have to do anything. According to the details of the agreement, they are not required to so much as slow down a single centrifuge, much less dismantle anything.

Any questions? Oh, and by the way, this is an absolute naked betrayal of Israel, whose leadership has openly stated they will not honor any such deal. So, those nuclear facilities that will not be dismantled? Well, now they are likelier than ever to be destroyed, because Israel may be all but forced into a unilateral military strike. Thank you, President Obama, for making the world an unsafer place.

Iranian leaders then had the effrontery to rebuff Secretary of State Kerry, who apparently was under the false impression that the details of the deal would be finalized in six months. Iran was kind enough to point out that the agreement actually stated that they would begin talking again in six months, with the aim of actually implementing any agreed upon terms within one year...to which Secretary of State Kerry replied, "Yeah, yeah, whatever."

But there's something about Iran's reaction to this deal that unnerves me—and it's not the fact that the Iranian negotiators so artfully exposed Barack Obama and John Kerry as gullible nitwits (because they are gullible nitwits).

It's the fact that Iran is gloating.

I mean, they can scarcely contain themselves. They are high-fiving each other, doing a victory dance, and waving their diplomatic coup in the face of the inept Obama administration like a winning sweepstakes ticket. The message coming from Iran now is essentially this:

YESSS!! We did it! Nyah nyah nyah...s-u-c-k-e-r-s!

"OK, so they're gloating," you say. "Why shouldn't they?" you ask. "They just made the Obama administration look like a bunch of naive imbeciles," you observe with resignation.

Fair enough, but ask yourself:

Why would the Iranians act this way? Why would they apparently be unable to stifle their desire to glory in their humiliation of the West? That doesn't seem very diplomatic. You'd think they would at least maintain the facade of wanting to cultivate a more moderate and peaceful relationship with the West based on mutual trust and respect and all that politically correct jazz, wouldn't you?

After all, when a con man has a fish on the line, he wants to string him along for all he's worth without blowing the con, right?

What actually unnerves me is not so much Iran's reaction, but the fact that I can only think of one logical explanation for it:

Maybe the Iranians don't give a rat's patootie what the West does in six months or a year, because they figure that's all the time they need.

You know, I keep hoping to see signs that the situation in the Middle East might cool off and play out for a few more years—signs that the Gog Magog invasion of Ezekiel 38–39 might not be quite as close as it seems.

But then stuff like this happens.

12/8/2013 — According to an article at the Times of Israel, President Obama admitted in a speech given at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. that Iran could ultimately end up with limited uranium enrichment capabilities for peaceful purposes, while simultaneously claiming that there was nothing in the interim agreement reached with Iran over its nuclear weapons program that allowed Iran to enrich uranium.

Uh, excuse me? Well, can they or can't they?

Oh, wait...there seems to be a link on that very same page to another news article from Reuters. Hmm, now that's odd...it seems that Iran is pressing ahead with uranium enrichment technology, and that it has completed the testing of a new generation of sophisticated centrifuges.

Wait a second, I'm a little confused. So which is it, Mr. President: can Iran enrich uranium or can't they?

Luckily we don't have to wait for an answer to that one, because obviously Iran is enriching uranium—and is clearly signaling to the world that it has absolutely no intention whatsoever of stopping. Or even slowing down.

I guess Iran didn't get the memo. Or maybe they didn't get to hear Mr. Obama's swell speech.

As far as speeches go, Obama was in top form, peppering his address with some thunderingly profound observations.

For example, he pointed out that Iran doesn't need to have a fortified underground facility like the one in Fordo to have a peaceful nuclear program.

(But they've got it, and they're gonna keep it.)

He also noted that they don't need to have a heavy water reactor at Arak.

(Got that...and I don't see 'em giving that up, either.)

Nor does Iran need the advanced centrifuges that they have in order to pursue a limited, peaceful nuclear program, the President sagaciously observed.

(Got 'em. Keepin' 'em.)

The President also astutely pointed out that Iran's technical advances hinted at a desire to be able to develop a nuclear weapon.

(Hinted. Believe it or not, he actually used the word "hinted.")

Obama used his signature puff-'n'-fluff to glowingly defend the agreement reached in Geneva, and also used the opportunity to openly mock and deride Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as being "unrealistic" and a "wistful dreamer" for demanding an all-or-nothing approach to stopping Iran's drive for nuclear weapons. At one point, the president quipped that such an approach was comparable to him expecting Congress to pass every single one of his bills (a remark that drew laughter from the audience, according to the article).

But for Israel, stopping Iran from getting a nuclear weapon is an all-or-nothing proposition, and any level of uranium enrichment is no laughing matter: it leaves Iran with their breakout capabilities intact and thus constitutes an existential threat to Israel. That is the fact that Obama simply either refuses to acknowledge or fails to understand.

So, even after being duped into a disastrous joke of an agreement that accomplishes nothing (a reality that is amply supported by cold, hard facts), Obama still naively believes the Iranians can be trusted to negotiate in good faith in regard to relinquishing their openly stated goal of destroying both Israel (the Little Satan) and the United States (the Great Satan) as soon as they reach their goal of developing a nuclear weapon...a goal that is varying numbers of months away, depending on who you ask.

And yet President Obama calls Benjamin Netanyahu—who is simply trying to protect his country from a real and present danger posed by genocidal extremists in his backyard—an unrealistic, wistful dreamer.

No, you are the one who is doing the dreaming, Mr. Obama, and we can only pray that you wake up before it's too late.

Assuming it's not too late already.

12/15/2013 — Is the Cold War heating up again? You'd think so, judging from the message coming from Moscow. In an article posted on the RT (Russia Today) website, Russian President Vladimir Putin flatly declared that he would never allow any country to achieve military superiority over Russia.

Tough talk—but apparently he's got $700 billion to back it up.

Not only that, but he plans to spend it all by the end of the decade on all kinds of cool toys, like new nuclear strategic missiles and launch systems, nuclear-powered submarines, strategic bombers, and an integrated space-based system for global real-time reconnaissance and targeting.

(Wow, now I know what I want for Christmas.)

One thing Vladimir Putin has made abundantly clear over the last few years is that he misses the old days—those days not so long ago when the world trembled at the might of the Soviet Union, and he dreams of restoring Mother Russia to her former glory.

And maybe just a tad more.

Putin isn't shy about wanting to make Russia the biggest, baddest dog on the block—with him as its master. And he seems to be daring anyone to try and put a muzzle on that dog.

None of this should come as any surprise to students of Bible prophecy, however. It is Russia that will lead a coalition that includes Iran and other Arab countries against Israel in the battle described in Ezekiel 38–39, and this military spending spree is yet another clear signal of Russia's desire to assume a more aggressive leadership role in regional affairs.

But when Russia and her cohorts do come against Israel, the LORD Himself will teach that dog to sit up and beg.

And then to roll over and play dead.

12/22/2013 — From the "Whose Side Are You On?" Department...

Phil Robertson, patriarch of the family featured in the hit reality TV show Duck Dynasty, has been suspended from the show indefinitely by A&E network. According to an article posted on the Yahoo News website, Mr. Robertson has been placed on a "hiatus" by the network after doing an interview for the January issue of GQ magazine in which he expressed his views of homosexuality.

Unless you've been living on another planet for the past several years, you are probably aware that the reality show Duck Dynasty centers around a family in Louisiana who owns a company that specializes in duck calls and various other types of hunting equipment, accessories, and related novelty items.

Each episode of Duck Dynasty generally features a lighthearted mixture of offbeat antics interspersed with the down-to-earth, homespun wisdom of the various family members, and over the last couple of years the show has become a monstrous hit with the American public.

And 67-year-old Phil Robertson, patriarch of the Robertson clan, just happens to be a Bible-believing Christian.

In the interview, Mr. Robertson was asked what constituted sinful behavior (which is why I suspect the whole affair was a setup)—and the floodgates were opened. Quoting Scripture, he went on to openly and plainly declare that the Bible teaches that homosexual behavior is sinful (which it does, and about as clearly as it teaches anything else I can think of).

As a result, the machinery of über-liberal, hyper-intolerant pro-gay groups such as GLAAD (the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) went into attack mode, forcing the knee-jerk reaction from A&E.

Now, admittedly, Mr. Robertson went on to use some somewhat crude, graphic language during the course of the interview. I mean, he's a good man, but he's not exactly the most polished individual on cable television. But don't be deceived—this has nothing to do with any crude, graphic language he may have used. Are you kidding? With the deluge of filth and vulgarity that passes virtually unnoticed in today's entertainment?

No, no, no. This firestorm centers around one little three-letter word: s-i-n.

For simply stating the fact that the Bible condemns homosexual behavior as sin, Mr. Robertson is being viciously attacked by the liberal left, whose tolerance extends only to those who agree with their agenda. They are demonizing him for his so-called hate-filled, homophobic rant.

But that's where they are wrong.

Last time I checked a dictionary, the word "homophobic" meant "characterized by irrational fear or hatred of homosexuality and homosexuals." Stating that the Bible calls homosexual behavior a sin is not a hate-filled, homophobic rant. It's a fact.

Now, if Mr. Robertson had said something along the lines of "I despise &$#! faggots with every fiber of my being! I wanna blow their &$#! brains out with my shotgun," that would have qualified as a hate-filled, homophobic rant.

But let's get to the real point. The Bible indicates that in the last days lines will be drawn. Sides will be chosen: Team God and Team Satan.

17Therefore, "Come out from among them, and be separate," says the Lord. "Touch no unclean thing. I will receive you."

(2 Corinthians 6:17)

Whose side are you gonna play for?

12/29/2013 — According to an article posted on The Truth, an ostensibly Christian website, although one that may be a little too "out there" for some tastes), an angel showed up on stage and was caught on film at a recent meeting of the Evangelical men's group Promise Keepers in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Naturally, the pastor who took the photo, which appears to show a bright but indistinct figure on stage, swears to the authenticity of the photo and sincerely disavows any trickery. (I mean, if you can't trust a minister, who can you trust, right?)

There has been an uptick in this kind of thing in the last few years, and some reported incidents are far wilder than a mere photo of an alleged angel (which is actually fairly tame by current standards). But no matter how you slice it, it's clear that the world has a rapidly growing appetite for the supernatural, and there has been a corresponding increase in alleged miracles and supernatural events to whet it—many complete with photos and YouTube videos.

So is that really an angel in the photo taken at that Promise Keepers meeting?

I don't know.

But more importantly, I don't care.

What I'm about to say applies to any kind of alleged miracles, healings, or supernatural phenomena of any kind:

Even real miracles ultimately don't increase people's faith.

Much less fake ones.

In Matthew 16, a group of Jewish religious leaders confronted Jesus and demanded to see a sign. They wanted to see Jesus do a miracle so they might believe He was the Messiah, but Jesus knew their hearts. Jesus had been performing miracles left and right in every single place He went, and it still wasn't enough for them. Jesus knew that no matter how many or what types of miracles He performed, it would not increase their faith.

He knew they would always want more. The flesh always does.

Jesus denounced them, saying the only sign they would receive would be the sign of Jonah, which was a reference to His death and subsequent resurrection. And He performed that sign exactly as He said.

Certainly that must have increased their faith, right? Nope. They still rejected Him.

We are warned in several places in the New Testament that in the last days many would be deceived by false miracles, and the kind of thing presented in the above article may be the warmup for such deception.

17So faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

(Romans 10:17)

Bottom line: If you need a miracle to increase your faith, what you really need is to find out what's wrong with your faith.

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Credits for Graphics:
1. Deriv. of "Sunset Over Grass Field" © AOosthuizen at CanStock Photo

Scripture Quotations:
All Scripture is taken from the World English Bible, unless annotated as KJV (King James Version) or AKJV (American King James Version).