Friday, January 4, 2013

News: Israel falling off media's radar, woman dies mysteriously in flight, Damascus shredded, Miss. river low

Here is a news roundup for you of news I thought was interesting. I look at the trends of news articles and the language within news articles to spot patterns. In the past five years, more often than not, the media presents news articles with headlines that offer information about a record-breaking something. Lately records are constantly being broken: the deepest debt, the most tornadoes, the highest number of flu cases. And yet these records are broken again the next year and again the next month, spiraling ever higher. In my estimation, this has been especially true of weather events.

First, a refresher on the Tribulation and the rapture. Remember, the scriptures tell us implicitly and explicitly that the rapture of the born-again believers will occur prior to the unfolding of the events prophesied to occur in the 7-year Tribulation (AKA Time of Jacob's Trouble). Daniel 9:24 tells us the reasons for the Tribulation.

In that verse angel Gabriel lists for Daniel the 6 reasons God will enact the 7-year Tribulation. It is to bring wrath to the ungodly world, yes, but it is mainly for "your people and your holy city." God will be dealing with His people the Jews. Therefore we look to Israel to see what is happening so we can keep informed of the main prophecy marker. In his sermon, "The Day of the Lord, part 1" John MacArthur wrote, "Once the signs that precede the day of the Lord start to happen, a wise and informed person could know that it was coming soon but not know the day or the hour."

"Coming soon" was the mantra of Apostle Paul and it is our mantra today. Irrespective of the intervening years and centuries, the imminence of the second coming of Jesus Christ has always been present in the hearts of diligent and discerning Christians. Yet how much closer is His arrival today than yesterday? How much sooner will He arrive tomorrow than two thousand years ago? We look at the season, pray for His return, and continue going about our Father's business until the trumpet calls us home. So here is the news:

ISRAEL

Israel is definitely one of the major end times signs. When it was re-formed into a nation, it was a cultural miracle and historically unprecedented. The story of how the Hebrew language was revived after two thousand years of dormancy is equally amazing. The fact that aliyah (immigration back to Israel by Jews) is steadily on the rise is also a continual fulfillment of prophecy. (Zechariah 12 and Ezekiel 11:17).

Israel falling off the media's radar
"Major media outlets’ reviews of 2012 and predictions for big news stories in 2013 indicate that Israel finally may have to spend less time defending itself as the Palestinian Authority’s demands become old hat and pale in the shadows of events in Syria and Iran. The Council of Foreign Relations, considered to be the most influential American think tank, predicted that the Middle East is a major issue for the Obama administration but not because of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas."

Israel is having an election on January 22, 2013. It will be a Parliamentary election. They are not electing a President. However, after the election, the government of Netanyahu will have to forge a unity government with those who win, based on a complicated routine of percentage of seats won etc. This past tenure of the Netanyahu government was relatively stable and was able to overcome various political and national security related crises with no real threat from the opposition. His popularity has waxed and waned over these last years but has overall remained fairly high.

Source
Then came the Tal Law controversy- in which a challenge was made to the excusing of Haredi men from active military service. The Haredi are the ultra-orthodox Jews. The Law was enacted in 2002 and must be renewed every five years. 2012 was a renewal year. The High Court struck down the law based on its opinion that it was unconstitutional. Netanyahu is for allowing the Haredi men to serve, saying it would make military service in Israel more equitable and fair.

Photo: An IDF soldier guarding Haredi men near the grave of Eliezer Ben Aharon, in the northern West Bank.

Israel's elections- the Dividing Line
"ISRAEL'S elections, which are now two-and-a-half weeks away, are pitting hawks against doves in stark confrontation, despite the original determination of the two camps' leaders to blur their differences. The question now is whether this unintended deepening of the political divide will extend from the election campaign to the coalition-making process that inevitably follows. Will Binyamin Netanyahu be able to woo a moderate party into his new government? Or will he have to make do with the rightist and religious groups which he calls the 'natural allies' of his party, Likud?"

3,000 conscription notices go out to ultra-orthodox
"Roughly 3,000 ultra-Orthodox Israeli youths have been issued draft notices, and are set to be inducted into the Israeli Defense Forces in August 2013, according to the director of the IDF Personnel Directorate, Maj. Gen. Orna Barbivai, who spoke to Israel Radio on Thursday.  The 3,000 youths had previously been exempt from performing military service under the Tal Law, which granted exemptions to ultra-Orthodox men for religious reasons."

Ultimately, the government is in God's hands. He sets up rulers and He takes them down. It's always interesting for us who are watching what God does in government to see what happens when the power balance comes under an opportunity for a change. The next few weeks will be such a time for Israel.

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MIDDLE EAST

Syria--

Have you ever seen an American flag that has been on a post too long, and the ends of it are tattered and shredded, and the rest faded and thin? That's Syria. The two-year long civil war has shredded the nation and made it so tattered it is almost unrecognizable. It's hard to see how Dictator President Assad will hang on through 2013. I believe it has been God's decision and power holding him in place this last year. Photo, a bombed out gas station in Damascus.

We look at Syria, of course, because of the unfulfilled prophecy in Isaiah 17 that Damascus and environs will be completely destroyed.

Syria is now so tattered, they cannot be counted on to aid Iran in any foray against Israel. Ultimately, we know from the Ezekiel 38-39 prophecy that the alliance that surprise-attacks Israel in the last days does not include Syria as a participant. Perhaps this current shredding of the nation of Syria is part of God's goal to neutralize that nation, upon which so many dire prophecies are piled.

Damascus countdown: 60,000+ slaughtered in Syria…key Syrian general defects….what does the future hold?
"Tragically, the implosion of Syria continues unabated. The death toll continues to mount. The cruel Assad regime is slaughtering people without hesitation. The world is doing letting to help, but what would be the best way to help? Radical jihadists make up a significant portion of the rebel force fighting the Assad regime. Putting them in power could prove more dangerous to Israel, and to the region. ...  Bible prophecy indicates that God will bring judgment on Damascus for the evil its leaders have done."

Even Syria death toll of 60,000 unlikely to revolutionize world leaders into action
"Lacking international consensus on outside military intervention, and since opposition forces, political and military, also oppose foreign intervention, a resolution in Syria depends on the rebels' ability to seize key locations." [note, this article read its entirety requires a subscription]

Is the End Near in Damascus?
Modern Damascus, with the
Omayyad mosque illuminated in the centre
"Over the past several months, Bashar al-Assad's military position has become increasingly precarious. The regime's defensive capabilities have waned -- it has difficulty holding even the most advantageous positions, and all efforts to roll back opposition forces (using field artillery, airpower, and, most recently, Scud missiles) have failed. YouTube videos show regime forces looking and acting like a defeated army."

"Several trends have contributed to this deterioration. First, the rebels have significantly improved their combat capabilities since last winter, allowing them to reduce the regime's presence throughout the country and capture checkpoints, barriers, and police stations. In doing so, they have acquired more arms, ammunition, and combat experience while eroding Assad's ability to control the population. Currently, rebel forces control lines of communication in Idlib, Aleppo, and Raqqa and frequently isolate and harass regime airfields. They have defeated several regime units, contributing to their growing psychological dominance."

"Most significant, the rebels are now self-sustaining: they regularly seize antitank weapons, shoulder-fired missiles, rocket-propelled grenades, and other weapons from regime forces, and they appear to replace lost personnel with relative ease. They do not need much if any outside armament; the U.S. debate about whether to send them weapons seems to have been overtaken by events."

"Whatever the case, the regime appears to have only a few weeks left before it collapses...."

It seems so. But then again, God is in control.

Iran--

ISFAHAN

Isfahan is an Iranian city in which a large experimental nuclear plant exists. In November 2012, the Jerusalem Post reported a large explosion rocked the Isfahan plant and the nearby area. The explosion was heard throughout the city. The cause remained unknown. Or, unreported.

A week later, rumors surfaced that the plant at Isfahan was leaking radiation. The Iranian News agency, FARS, vehemently denied and dismissed all such rumors.

Then a few weeks after that, the BBC reported that the Iranian government gave n edict to evacuate Isfahan. This would mean 1.5 million people would have to leave. The government said that it was due to excessive air pollution, the BBC reported. Washington Free Beacon picked up on the story:

Iran to Citizens: Flee Isfahan
Iranian officials tell citizens to vacate city located near nuke site
"Iranian officials have instructed residents of Isfahan to leave the city, renewing concerns that a nearby nuclear site could be leaking radioactive material.  An edict issued Wednesday by Iranian authorities orders Isfahan’s one-and-a-half million people to leave the city “because pollution has now reached emergency levels,” the BBC reported.  However, outside observers suspect that the evacuation order may corroborate previous reports indicating that a uranium enrichment facility near Isfahan had been leaking radioactive material. Tehran went to great lengths in December to deny these reports, telling state-run media outlets that “the rumors about leaking and contamination at Isfahan’s [Uranium Conversion Facility] are not true at all.”

Iran Unveils Copycat Arsenal
"Iran’s newest gunship helicopter, unveiled Wednesday, might look awfully familiar to aviation historians. And it’s not unique in that regard. Almost all of Iran’s “new” weaponry — including jet fighters, ‘copters, warships, tanks, missiles and other equipment — is a copy of a much older American, British, Russian, Chinese or North Korean design. But that doesn’t mean all of Tehran’s weapons suck. Far from it. While some of the sillier Iranian gear is obviously meant mostly for fleeting propaganda purposes, the main hardware is grounded in experience and hardship. Driven by desperation and shaped by the isolation that comes with widening external sanctions, Tehran’s copycat arsenal could contain a few nasty surprises for the U.S. and its allies in the unlikely event that tensions over Iran’s nuclear program come to blows."

I want to unearth and bring to light something that many Americans hide in their heart. We have had been on top for so long we tend to dismiss the military capabilities of others, particularly those in the Middle East. Though many of those nations are poor, despite not having the advantage of more numerous armies or higher technology, they have a long history of cunning battle strategy. Just look to the bible for that. And 9/11. In addition, as the author of the article above says, "low-tech weapons force the users to fight creatively." The Americans in 1776 did that when strategically using guerrilla warfare against the more numerous and technologically advanced British army.

The alliance that Ezekiel 38 describes includes Turkey, Russia, Iran, Libya, Sudan, and Ethiopia (among a few others less clearly pinpointed). Turkey has the second largest army in NATO (after the US). Russia has long been a superpower with staying power. Even when seemingly defeated in the 1990s, she simply licked her wounds and bided her time. Russia is patient, like a hibernating bear, and also like a bear, she is fast and cunning.

Iran's elite are single-mindedly dedicated to Allah and wants to bring the final Imam back. This can only be accomplished by fomenting chaos and attacking her enemies as proof to a waiting deity that Iran means it. To that end, Iran has been pushing covertly and overtly for the weaponry and materiel she needs to accomplish this. A group in power allied with satan to defeat God's people is a powerful entity indeed.

The North African nations mentioned in the prophecy have long been allied with evil, and have served as a training place, practice place and conduit for money and materiel for their larger brothers. Don't look at these nations as they are today but rather their history as powerful allies of satan and covering huge geographic areas. As a matter of fact, Ham's son Cush settled in the area of today's Sudan, where the Blue and the White Nile meet. (Genesis 10). And the western boundary of Eden may have included parts of present day North Sudan, though this cannot be stated with any certainty whatsoever. (Genesis 2:10-14). I think it is evident that these lands have long been in God's heart. They have certainly been long in history, since the extreme beginning. His plans for them are coming to pass and will come to pass.

Ultimately we don't need a history lesson to confirm God's word. What Ezekiel reported will happen, will happen. But in this short essay I wanted you to see a bit of how and to remind us to look at the sweep and scope of Middle Eastern history from the perspective of the beginning rather than only through the lens of now.

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

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WEATHER

Weather.com reported last July on what, in their estimation, made 2012 so weird in terms of weather phenomenon to date. Since then we had Superstorm Sandy and a rare Christmas outbreak of tornadoes in the south, plus much more in other nations, but suffice to say, the weather is not getting curiouser and curiouser, but weirder and weirder.

This is because God controls the weather. The bible is not silent on the origin of weather phenomena. He either directly causes (Proverbs 30:4) or indirectly allows (via satan, as in Job 1:9-12, 19 or in general as from the Fall) to produce events which serve His plan.

The bible says that as we progress closer to the time of the end, the events taking place on earth will be as birth pangs, which increase as the event draws nigh. The pangs are more painful, too. We saw that this year in all kinds of secular spheres, but never more evident than in the area of weather.

A Wild 2012, So Far
"Tornadoes, heat, cold, wildfires, snowstorms, drought, flooding. These are phenomena you see in any year. What's made 2012 so strange? Two words: "timing" and "location". We've seen events occur much earlier in season than what's considered average. We've also seen weather events in locations you wouldn't expect. Finally, we've seen persistent "high-amplitude" weather patterns crank out impressive precipitation totals (rain and snow) and prolonged heat or cold."

Weather.com goes on to list as of last July the weirdest things that happened:

Most Destructive Wildfire in Colorado History
Alaska Snow Buries Towns
Strange Start to Hurricane Season
Florida's Exceptional Drought Erased in One Month
Exceptionally Long Late June/Early July Heat Wave
Europe Snow Buries Homes
March Warmer Than April
Daily Lows Setting New Record Highs
Mammoth Hail...in Hawaii

Weather.com followed up their midyear report with a year-end report, called Unforgettable: Reliving the Unusual 2012 weather

Strongest Hurricanes in an Unusual Places
Lack of Tornadoes After Mid-April-
see graph below for 2012 tornado activity
The Weather Channel

Erik Klemetti's volcano roundup can be found here in his essay announcing the 2012 Pliny Volcano of the Year award. Ecuador's Tungurahua had a mention, with Klemetti writing,

"Tungurahua had an especially active year, with some large explosive events that sent pyroclastic flows down the slopes of the volcano and ash across the region. The activity prompted repeated calls for evacuations around the volcano and significant damage to the crops that grow on the slopes of the Ecuadoran volcano."

He continued, "Guatemala's Fuego had one of its most active years in decades, with multiple large eruptions" along with Tongariro in New Zealand coming to life for the first time since 1896. But it was Tolbachik in Russia that won the informal volcano activity award this year. Tolbachik hadn't erupted in over 36 years, but one day simply did, erupting with a "fissure eruption that coalesced into singular vents with long -- and I mean long -- a'a lava flows."

January snow cover
"With 67 percent of the contiguous U.S. covered by snow, the first day of 2013 marked the widest coverage of snow the U.S. has seen on Jan. 1 in the past ten years."

Barge traffic stalls along drought-parched Mississippi River
"The boats had to stop while crews dredged downstream in a desperate attempt to keep the shipping channel open as the river approaches historically low levels. ... "looking out the wheelhouse windows in disbelief at sandbars and stone dikes that are usually deep underwater. "I've never seen it this low myself," said Cox, who's worked on Mississippi River towboats for nearly 14 years. "It's a lot more stressful right now." The drought that devastated crops throughout the Midwest over the summer has made the mighty Mississippi dangerously narrow and shallow, threatening to choke off a vital transportation artery that carries billions of dollars' worth of raw materials and commodities through the heart of the country."


From December 3, 2012:
Historic Low Mississippi River Levels Could Impact American Consumers
"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is bracing for what could be a historic low levels of water along the Mississippi River that likely would halt barge traffic in the heart of the storied river. Such a sudden stop would directly impact the American consumer. "The Mississippi River is the lifeblood of the Gulf and Midwest, so a shutdown of traffic on the river -- whether at the mouth, the middle, or the headwaters -- is a great concern," noted Rep. Jeff Landry, R-La., whose district sits in the lower portion of the river. "If we shut down the river to commerce, we will see higher prices in basic commodities such as food and electricity and fewer jobs for hard-working mariners." About $7 billion in commodities such as corn, grain, coal and petroleum are set to flow along the river in the months of December and January..."

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PESTILENCE

Of course, disease has always been with us. By itself, its existence is not an indicator of end time symptoms. However, we read in Revelation 6:8 that death will be loosed upon the world in the Tribulation, and one of the ways people will die is by "famine and plague." Those two go together in ways that Americans have largely escaped direct experience with, but that indeed are interrelated in ways that most of the rest of the world well knows. In a post called "Looking at the coming famine", I noted the biological process of starvation. Starvation begins with scarcity, and the effects on the body begin within one day. But because most people who aren't in a starvation pattern eat and/or drink within a reasonable time frame after the last meal, the effects of starvation that have already begun in the body are counteracted.

But famine begins with scarcity, and famine and plague go together. A body undergoing the dramatic effects of starvation cannot stave off disease. Remember, starvation really begins in the body within 24 hours of the last meal. When Mississippi barges cannot bring the food, it is a problem for the supply chain. Grocery stores typically carry only a three-day supply. In most cases of short-term disruption, stores in America get around that in other ways, or the items in short supply are forgone and consumers simply wait it out as an inconvenience rather than a life-threatening event. But just think if a long-term supply disruption occurs...which could happen easily via worse weather than described above, or an electromagnetic pulse, or a New Madrid quake destroying large swathes of highway or changed river courses. In those cases, food simply will not be able to be delivered for a long time. Hospital shelves would not be replenished with drugs, and disease breaks out.

If you're skeptical, just picture Superstorm Sandy. It wreaked havoc on a third of the nation, closed major cities, and stopped regular life for a week or more. Most people were prepared, and either stocked up or got out. But what if an event were to happen for which we had no preparation? Food ran out even for the people who had stocked up, there was no water (sanitation problems arise from lack of cleanliness and expiring food), the trash wasn't picked up...and boy did the rats come. I am not telling you this to scare you, but to tell you. Read Revelation 6:8 again.

Pakistan: Record child measles deaths in 2012 
Pakistan suffered record child measles deaths, jumping from 64 in 2011 to 306 in 2012.

Maine's whooping cough cases triple; worst in 50 years
"Reported cases of whooping cough in Maine more than tripled this year, in line with a national trend that resulted in the worst year of pertussis infection in the United States in more than 50 years.  Maine's increase from 202 cases in 2011 to 701 cases so far this year [as of December 20, 2012]"

Woman, 25, Dies On Texas-Bound Flight From Brazil
"An American Airlines flight from Brazil to Dallas was diverted to Houston on Wednesday after a 25-year-old passenger became ill and died aboard the aircraft, police said."

Well. Does that remind me of Charles Campion trying to outrun Captain Trips, or what? Autopsy results on the woman are still pending as of a moment ago.

Of this next article, I'm not a huge fan of WND, and the article's source is anonymous, after all (two strikes) but credible knowledge of North Korea and Syria's chemical and biological warfare strategies and capabilities are a fact. And the bible says that disease kills a fourth of mankind. So, biological warfare unleashed is a distinct probability. So I post the article and ask you to use your judgment in accepting all its premises.

8 deadly agents 'to bring U.S. to its knees'
"Iranian scientists, working under orders from the radicals running the Islamic regime, have genetically altered microbial agents in a nightmarish scheme to bring the West to its knees. According to a source in the Revolutionary Guards intelligence unit with knowledge of Iran’s microbial research and development, the scientists, with Russian and North Korean help, currently possess eight extremely dangerous microbial agents that, if unleashed, could kill millions of people."

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CONCLUSION

God is the author of all prophecy.

"Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Savior; there is none beside me." (Isaiah 45:21)

I was listening to a sermon by Dr. John MacArthur from 1985. That is 28 years ago. The title was "The Sufficiency of Scripture." He had briefly deviated from his usual approach of preaching on a verse of the bible in his verse by verse, chapter by chapter exposition to address a topic. He saw some devilish tings creeping into the church and into global Christianity that he felt burdened to make a lecture against. It was a sermon of contending for the faith.

In his talk, MacArthur said he believed that the influence of purpose driven thought, Mystical practices, and entertainment-driven sermons only beginning to encroach then were a devastatingly subtle attack on the word and will ultimately drive Christianity to a weakened and pagan position because all of that is an attack on the sufficiency of the Word of God.

He was right. Of course everything he said and warned about 28 years ago is happening now. He sounds rather like a prophet, doesn't he? However it is the WORD that is prophetic, not the man. It's prophetic in the sense that the entire word of God was given to us in the bible from a place that is outside of time. From a place that is infinite. From a place where what will happen has already happened and is still happening. The entire word of God is always prophetic. In its most general sense, it is foretelling from the beginning all that we need to know throughout all the ages and is applicable to every man who ever lived.

An illuminated bible shown to visitors
to one of the ancient cave churches near Lalibela, Ethiopia.
The script is probably Ge'ez, the old Semitic language still
used by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. Source

What MacArthur preached against and foresaw coming of and warned about seemed prophetic because everything God says is always applicable to us in every season. It is a more sure word! (2 Peter 1:19). The very fact of his sermon advocating the sufficiency of scripture through the lens of almost three decades of having correctly foreseen intervening satanic influences into the church is a very validation of just how sure the word is! You can never go wrong with a close walk with Jesus Christ, because He is the light, and His word shall light your way.

photo credit: Eileen Delhi via photopin cc

1 comment :

  1. One thing you might want to check out. It about Red Blood Moon. My friend was watching John Hagee about this study. NASA has information to back it too. Here is the summary of yearsw the moon was blood red. (1492,1948,1967) There are more coming which are during Jewish feast days in 2013 & 2014. Now ask yourself the historical significances of those first years mentioned. See the pattern? Like birth pains.

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