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1/1/2018 — From the "Forget Palestine!" Department...
Something noteworthy got started about three or four days ago, and it has to do with protests in Iran. It seems that what started out several days ago as localized protests about economic conditions within the country quickly metastasized into full-blown anti-government protests with a capital PRO.
With over a dozen dead, the violence has Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei quietly (and nervously) meeting with top political leaders to determine how best to clamp down on the protests. For starters, they have been quick to blame America and Israel for fomenting such anti-government sentiment.
One of the anti-government themes that has emerged is the people's anger and frustration with the country's staunch support of the Palestinian cause via Hamas and Hezbollah, anti-Israel puppets that the Iranian government is lavishly spending the country's money on to prop up and weaponize in its satanically inspired hatred for Israel.
Ayatollah Khamenei and other leaders are busily staging pro-government counter-protests in many cities around the country, complete with the usual anti-Zionist trappings people have come to expect from Iran: chants of "Death to America, death to Israel" and placards saying "Down with Israel," etc.
Unfortunately, these are unable to drown out the chants of "Forget Palestine!"
The bottom line is that the people of Iran have a message for the Ayatollah:
"H-e-l-l-o...hating Israel doesn't put food on the table, and weaponizing groups to threaten and attack them doesn't give us jobs."
From a prophetic standpoint, it will be interesting to see if these protests and the Iranian government's ham-fisted attempts to stop them result in an increase in the country's demonization of Israel (if that's possible) in order to lend strength to its anti-Zionist rhetoric and tactics, and if it will goad Iran into pulling the trigger sooner rather than later on its ill-fated plans to destroy the Jewish state.
But any way you look at it, it's a story to watch.
1/8/2018 — From the "One State or Two?" Department...
Although the Trump team has yet to announce the details of their proposed peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, the buzz on the street is increasingly leaning in the direction of a one-state solution in place of the usual two-state idea.
The concept of a one-state solution has been out there for a long time; but since all roads have seemingly led to the two-state version for the past several decades, it has never really come to the fore.
Until December 6, 2017.
That was the day President Trump announced America's official recognition of Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel, a political bombshell whose ramifications are still reverberating throughout both the political and religious worlds. To top it off, he also announced the United States' intention to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
From the viewpoint of the Palestinians, this could be translated as:
(a) Insert dagger. (b) Twist.
Since then, the Palestinians have been bawling and squalling and holding their breath until they turned blue, and have basically divorced themselves from the United States and any role they might play in future negotiations. Other regional Arab countries have done their best to pacify them with lollipops, but with marginal effect to date.
What is interesting from a prophetic standpoint, however, is that the type of one-state deal being whispered about behind closed doors would be a state that combines Israel and the Palestinians into, well, one single state. According to an article in the New York Times, those espousing the idea see it something like this:
"Palestinian supporters envision one state with equal rights for Palestinians and Jews. Palestinians would have proportionate political power and, given demographic trends, would before long be a majority, spelling the end of the Zionist project."
One state for both the Jews and the Palestinians, together. How nice.
One problem, scripturally speaking, is that it would effectively spell the end of Israel as a Jewish state. Perhaps not all at once, but over time, yes. Straight up—that will never happen.
A second problem is that the Bible says the land of Israel will be divided by a negotiated treaty in the last days, and this will lead to the judgments of the Tribulation. Joel 3:2, Isaiah 28:15, and other verses speak of this, and two things about this treaty are reasonably clear from Scripture: (a) It will be a negotiated treaty (not something shoved down Israel's throat by the UN), and (b) it will divide the land of Israel.
Many faithful prophecy watchers (this writer included) have long seen the deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians as The Treaty of Daniel 9:27, and we know that the Rapture occurs before its implementation.
But in my humble opinion, if some kind of one-state solution that does not divide Israel is proposed, it cannot be the The Treaty. I just don't see how it could be.
Logically, that means that either (a) it won't happen and a two-state solution that does divide Israel is still in the prophetic pipeline, or (b) the treaty of Daniel 9:27 could be further off than we believe.
I pray it's the first one.
1/15/2018 — From the "Same Old Song and Dance" Department...
...a-n-d jerk goes the knee.
To the surprise of no one, PA President Mahmoud Abbas is taking the Palestinian Statehood Dog and Pony Show on the road, hoping to find a more receptive and sympathetic audience in Europe.
Later this month, Abbas will visit the headquarters of the European Union in Brussels and intends to reach into his bag of tricks and pull out three demands that he hopes will bring the house down:
1. Support for Palestinian membership in the United Nations.
After President Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel last month, a UN Security Council resolution condemning such recognition was introduced and was supported by all member states of the EU, although it was vetoed by the United States. (A similar resolution went before the UN General Assembly, where five countries abstained.)
Abbas hopes to persuade these EU countries that were so quick to condemn Trump's recognition of the Israeli capital to turn their sentiments into substantive political action by supporting Palestine's membership in the UN.
2. More financial aid.
The United States has been the largest donor of financial aid to the Palestinians since the Oslo Accords in 1994, and currently forks over about $600 million annually. Since Trump's recognition of Jerusalem on December 6, however, the Palestinians have cursed the ground he walks on and have snidely dismissed the United States as a peace-broker (bite...hand...feeds).
Not only that, but they are all but openly advertising the fact that they will not hesitate to turn their noses up at whatever plans the Trump administration has to offer for any species of Israeli-Palestinian agreement from here on out.
Hence the road trip to Brussels.
In response, Trump has threatened to either dramatically reduce or cut off that financial aid, and he seems to have gotten it through to Abbas that he is the kind of man who is just unpredictable enough to do exactly what he says. Just to drive the point home, Trump recently tweeted:
"We pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect."
Emphasis his. So, when Mahmoud Abbas stands before the EU, it will be with his hand out because he knows Trump just might follow through on his intimations that the United States has better things to do with its taxpayers' money.
3. Recognition of a Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 borders.
The showstopper. Abbas wants the EU to recognize Palestine according to the Israeli borders that existed prior to the Six Day War in June of 1967, along with East Jerusalem as its capital. Abbas no doubt hopes that such recognition by the EU will be contagious enough to infect the UN.
Same old song and dance.
I said last week that some are entertaining the notion of a one-state solution; but as you can see, all—at least most—roads still lead to the two-state solution. It doesn't matter how much sense a one-state solution might make. It makes no difference how sensible or practical it might be in the minds of many people.
I believe the Bible calls for a two-state solution—one that divides Israel.
And if the actions of the Palestinians are any indication, that's still what we'll see when it's time for the curtain to come up for the final act.
1/22/2018 — From the "Dangerous" Department...
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is in Israel this week, and his presence has caused no small amount of turmoil among Arab members of the Knesset. Joint (Arab) List Leader Ayman Odeh (leader of Arab lawmakers in the Israeli government) called for a boycott of Pence's speech, purely out of a fit of pique over President Trump's December 6 announcement of America's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Rumor has it they're also miffed over Trump's suggestion that water flows downhill.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the Arab boycott as "a disgrace," and stated:
"We will all be there, and will give the Vice President the honor due to him."
Arab MKs boycotting an American leader's speech following Trump's recognition of Jerusalem is not exactly earth-shattering news, with the Palestinians still in full hissy-fit mode after Trump's announcement and still refusing to acknowledge America's role in any negotiations. It was the way Ayman Odeh characterized the vice president, however, that struck me:
"[Pence] is a dangerous man with a messianic vision that includes the destruction of the entire region."
Dangerous...destruction of the entire region. Whew...that's scary stuff. Of course, I can only speculate as to what Odeh's eschatological proclivities may be, if any, but this almost made me laugh.
And messianic. Calling Mike Pence (who is refreshingly forthright about being a born-again believer) "messianic" is a bit like calling the Palestinians "anti-Semitic." Ya think? To say otherwise is almost a contradiction in terms. But what about this idea of being "dangerous" and having a "messianic vision that includes the destruction of the entire region"?
OK, let me see if I've got this straight:
Mike Pence believes that following a period of purging and judgment, Jesus Christ will return to earth to establish a thousand-year period of virtual heaven on earth often referred to as the Millennial Kingdom, with Israel, rather than being destroyed, serving as the pre-eminent nation on earth and home to the King of kings and Lord of lords Himself.
On the other hand...
Since Ayman Odeh is a Muslim, I must assume he believes that it is the sacred duty of Islam to start a global conflagration focused on destroying Israel in order to usher in the Islamic "savior" known as the Mahdi, who will personally help finish the task of slaughtering all the Jews.
Conclusion: It's obvious, isn't it? Mike Pence is a dangerous man.
1/29/2018 — From the "The End Is Near" Department...
Catholic Cardinal Raymond Burke made an earth-shattering statement recently, tentatively positing an astounding possibility that is no doubt blowing the hair back of legions of the Catholic faithful:
Perhaps we have arrived at the end times.
Huh, imagine that.
The e-n-d t-i-m-e-s! The end is near! Woooooo! (Cue spooky music)
When my laughter finally subsided after reading the headline, the only thing I could say in response was:
"What was your first clue, Cardinal Holmes?"
Now, I admit that I've never made it a priority to study the eschatological beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church (not unlike most Catholics, as far as I can tell), but I'm reasonably certain they do not include the Rapture (of the biblical Church, not the RCC), followed by the seven-year Tribulation to purge out a believing remnant of Israel and judge the nations of the world for persecuting His people and rejecting His grace and mercy, followed by the return of Christ to the earth to establish the literal 1000-year Millennial Kingdom on earth (and I say "establish" because it's not here yet).
As far as I know, Roman Catholic dogma on eschatology is a porous hodgepodge of quasi-scriptural notions revolving around the fact that (a) the Roman Catholic Church is the New Israel (so who needs the Old Israel, right?), (b) Christians will go through some vaguely defined period of testing at some point in the future, (c) the kingdom is already here and we're supposed to be building it, (d) when we get the kingdom whipped into shape, Christ will return, and when He does, (e) Christians will do a glorified trampoline jump to meet Him in the clouds so they can properly welcome Him the rest of the way back down to good old terra firma.
Beyond that grand-sounding yet comfortingly vague scenario, Catholics don't talk much about the end times (because they don't know much about the end times). Well, except for the fact that they know dispensational teaching about the Rapture, the Millennial Kingdom, etc. is just, you know, wrong...because it disagrees with 1,500-year-old Roman Catholic dogma, you see.
But I confess that the joke was on me this time, because by the time I finished reading some of Cardinal Burke's comments, I wasn't laughing:
"In the present moment there is confusion and error about the most fundamental teachings of the Church, for example with regard to marriage and the family. For instance, the idea that people who are living in an irregular union [adultery] could receive the sacraments is a violation of the truth with regard both to the indissolubility of marriage and to the sanctity of the *Eucharist."
*That would be Communion, except Protestants don't believe the crackers and grape juice magically turn into the literal flesh and blood of Christ the moment we swallow them (or when the priest holds them over his head or whatever). Oh, and I fundamentally agree with what he said.
"St. Paul tells us in his First Letter to the Corinthians that before we approach to receive the Body of Christ, we have to examine ourselves, or we eat our condemnation by receiving the Eucharist in an unworthy way. Now the confusion in the Church is going even further than that, because there is today confusion as to whether there are acts which are intrinsically evil [such as homosexuality] and this, of course, is the foundation of the moral law. When this foundation begins to be questioned within the Church, then the whole order of human life and the order of the Church itself are endangered."
Hmm...I'm starting to like the way this guy thinks.
"So there is a feeling that in today’s world that is based on secularism with a completely anthropocentric approach, by which we think we can create our own meaning of life and meaning of the family and so on, the Church itself seems to be confused."
Yeah, preach it, brother...er, Father.
"In that sense one may have the feeling that the Church gives the appearance of being unwilling to obey the mandates of Our Lord. Then perhaps we have arrived at the End Times." (emphasis added)
Amen and amen. Glory to Jesus. All I can say is that when I hear a Catholic cardinal say stuff that makes this much biblical sense, I know the end is near.
2/5/2018 — From the "It Was Just a Matter of Time" Department...
I guess it was just a matter of time.
In one of the latest applications of a relatively new but rapidly growing field of technology, California-based Pastor D.J. Soto wants to invite you to the Virtual Reality Church.
Well, I suppose parking isn't a problem. The church's Facebook page boldly proclaims:
"Attend a real church in virtual reality."
Soto, who has been professionally involved in film production and virtual reality for a number of years, left his position as a pastor at a branch of a mega-church in Reading, Pennsylvania several years ago in order to get his idea off the ground and attract interest from others within the Church—interest that has apparently been slow in coming:
"It has been abysmal, to be honest, just trying to connect."
Soto openly wonders at times whether this was the biggest mistake of his life, having already sold his home and moved his family into a 30-foot trailer. Soto opined:
"We haven't stopped trying to connect with churches, but we are wondering if that type of support is further down the road. Maybe we need to do a radical tactical shift to support from outside the church and church planting organizations."
When I first read about this, part of me instinctively wanted to criticize it. Then part of me wanted to accept it. Then I read that according to Soto, virtual churches can significantly increase church attendance, especially among young people who are turned off by real churches. Wired.com added that...
"His VR mega-church is even attracting atheists."
Then part of me wanted to criticize it again.
Don't misunderstand me—I don't think there is anything wrong with incorporating various types of technology into the work of the Church. But when the technology replaces the Church? Hmmm...
Call me a stick in the mud, but somehow I have a difficult time imagining that this was what Paul had in mind when he wrote:
24And let us consider one another to provoke to love and to good works:25Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as you see the day approaching.
(Hebrews 10:24–25 AKJV / emphasis added)
Not only that, but if it is the Virtual Reality Church itself that is attracting atheists, it is not the Holy Spirit who is drawing them in response to the conviction of their sin, which is how it's supposed to work last time I checked.
That's all the Church needs—new toys to attract ever larger numbers of people who are looking for something novel and entertaining. Oh, and don't forget socially relevant.
And for the last time, since when is the primary goal to "increase church attendance"? I thought it was to train, edify, and equip the saints to...
10...be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
(Ephesians 6:10–12 AKJV)
This, as a rule, does not tend to attract atheists.
2/12/2018 — From the "New Trends in Tolerance" Department...
It would appear they have added some new courses to the curricula of state-supported universities since I was a college student. Now it seems you can sign up for some of the following classes at a university near you:
• Course name: "New Trends in Tolerance"
Description: Covers topics on why anything outside the parameters of the liberal left agenda must not be tolerated.
• Course name: "Amending the First Amendment"
Description: Introduction to the new free speech, and why it must agree with the left's free speech.
• Course name: "Right Wing Delusions"
Description: Survey of ways America has strayed from the shining liberal path (and why it's all Trump's fault).
• Course name: "The Ascendancy of the LGBT"
Description: An in-depth look at gay rights, and why they must be allowed to strip away everyone else's rights.
• Course name: "The Kooks of Kreationism"
Description: A study of the pathology of creationism. Course includes a lab section where brain scans of prominent creationists are studied to analyze their neural abnormalities.
(I'm kidding, but just barely.)
Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis and founder of the Ark Encounter and its associated Creation Museum, was formally invited to speak at the University of Central Oklahoma this coming March, and the topic he was planning to speak on was "Genesis and the State of the Culture."
But a vocal group of LGBT activists (read "bullies") had other ideas.
The university recently hosted a drag queen show and a "safe sex carnival" that featured fun games for the whole family, such as throwing dildos through holes in cardboard targets designed to look like vaginas. But a creationist?!
You mean to tell me they're actually going to expose innocent young minds to the dangerously loopy idea that God created the heavens and the earth in six days, just as the Bible teaches?! What is this world coming to?
After said LGBT activists sufficiently threatened and browbeat the president of the student government association, he made the decision to disinvite Mr. Ham and in effect tear up his signed contract to speak.
According to local pastor Paul Blair:
"I think this young man was bullied and intimidated. I think he succumbed to the bullying that these LGBTQ groups are known for. Those that scream out and demand tolerance are in actuality the least tolerant group of individuals on the planet."
A spokesperson for the University of Central Oklahoma released the following boilerplate:
"The UCO community is an inclusive environment that encourages the civil expression of diverse thoughts and ideas, while also keeping the safety of our students a top priority."
(Yeah, the safety of the president of the student government association who very nearly allowed a (gasp) creationist to speak at the campus!)
This is one of those times when there is scarcely any need for me to say anything more. Scripture says it all:
18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19because that which is known of God is revealed in them, for God revealed it to them. 20For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse. 21Because, knowing God, they didn't glorify him as God, neither gave thanks, but became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless heart was darkened.