Tag Archives: Justinian

#8

The body of a Palestinian baby who died of tear gas inhalation during protests, according to Gaza’s health ministry, is held by her mother at a Gaza City morgue on May 15, 2018 (AFP Photo/MAHMUD HAMS)

Last week, I posted an article showing how decisions made by the Trump Administration are inadvertently leading to the fulfillment of prophesied events.   I listed seven areas where this is happening, including the growing rift between Europe and the US; pressure on Germany to rearm; recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel; tearing up the Iran nuclear deal; and the imposition of tariffs that will harm global trade.   Additionally, attacking Syria adds to the growing Shia-Sunni conflict and pulling out of the climate change treaty is separating the US from the rest of the world.

Since I wrote, there have been two other developments.

Number 8 took place on Monday, with the opening of the new US Embassy in Jerusalem.  Sixty residents of Gaza were killed that day by Israeli troops.   The responsibility for their deaths cannot be blamed on Israel, which is what the world’s press is doing.  The blame goes to Hamas, the militant Palestinian group that runs Gaza. They stirred up the mob and sent people, including young people, to their deaths.

But what happened makes it next to impossible for the US to broker a peace deal between Palestinians and Israelis, as Washington is clearly not even-handed.

The peace process started over forty  years ago.   Since 2003, all efforts toward a “deal” have been based on the “two-state solution.” The American goal has been the eventual establishment of two nations, side by side, living in peace.

This almost happened in 1993 when leaders of Israel and the Palestinians talked peace in Oslo.   The Israelis offered generous terms to the Palestinians, but the process stalled, as it always does, when it became clear that the Palestinians would not recognize Israel, as a political entity.   They want to take over Israel, giving third generation Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, the “right to return” to the lands they occupied prior to the establishment of the nation of Israel.   The “Right of Return” has been a constant stumbling block.

Now that the US cannot be an honest broker in trying to resolve these issues, somebody else will have to do it – and fairly quickly as the situation is deteriorating.

Enter Europe.

Bible students are aware that there is to be a final revival of the Roman Empire, prior to Christ’s Second Coming.   This may sound incredible, but it’s important to understand that a revival of the Roman Empire has been a constant theme throughout European history.   Rome fell in 476.   Less than a century later, Justinian, the Emperor in the East, tried to restore the Empire. In 800, the Emperor Charlemagne established the Holy Roman Empire, which lasted over a thousand years.   It was Napoleon who abolished the H.R.E., but then he himself wanted to revive the Empire, crowning himself a new Caesar and naming his son “King of Rome.”

More recently, Italy’s leader, Benito Mussolini, proclaimed the restoration of the Roman Empire in 1922, while Hitler, a little over a decade later, declared that his Third Reich would last a thousand years, just like the First Reich of the Holy Roman Empire.

Even after these violent attempts to restore the Roman Empire, the dream never died.   Twelve years after the collapse of the Third Reich, the Treaty of Rome brought six European nations together to form what is now the 28-member European Union.   A final union of European nations is prophesied to come together, perhaps out of the rubble of the present EU.   It’s also possible there could be a peaceful transformation from the present conglomeration to something else.

Bible prophecy shows this union will get involved in the Middle East peace process.  This is prophesied in Daniel 9:27, at the end of the Seventy Weeks Prophecy, a prophecy about the future of the Jewish people, written by the prophet Daniel in the sixth century B.C.   The last few verses deal with the coming of the Messiah.   It is a remarkably accurate prophecy about His first coming, even down to the year His ministry would begin and the day on which He would be put to death.   As many Bible commentaries explain, “seventy weeks” equals 490 years (70 x 7 days in a week; each day representing one year).   This period of time began with Persian King Artaxerxes’ decree, authorizing the Jews to rebuild the Temple.

  • The fourth decree was also by Artaxerxes Longimanus, issued on March 5, 444 b.c. (Neh. 2:1-8).   On that occasion Artaxerxes granted the Jews specific authorization to rebuild Jerusalem’s city walls.   This decree is the one referred to in Daniel 9:25. (Old Testament prophecy, Royal decree).

“After the sixty-nine weeks (the 63 + 7), the Messiah would be “killed” (Dan 9:26), an apparent reference to his crucifixion, and “the city and the Temple” of Jerusalem would be destroyed.   The “armies” (9:26) were the Roman people, who destroyed Jerusalem and the temple in AD 70. There is evidence of a gap between the 69th and 70th week, for what is predicted in 9:27 has not yet taken place.  The “ruler” (9:26) is the Antichrist, who will rise out of what may possibly be a revived type of the Roman Empire (7:8, 24-26)”.   (Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary, Daniel 9:27, page 319.   Published in 1990.)

Note the following from the Expositor’s Bible Commentary, page 1389 (1994):

“If it was a ruler of the Roman people who was to destroy Jerusalem (in AD 70), then it would be a ruler of the Roman Empire – in its final phase, i.e. the ten-toes phase of chapter 2 and the ten-horned beast phase of ch. 7 – who will conclude this covenant.” “ . . . the latter day ruler over the “Roman” people will “confirm” a “covenant” with the believing Jews for a stipulated period of seven years, permitting them to carry on their religious practices.” (page 1390)

The next paragraph adds:   “After about three and one-half years, the world dictator will break his agreement with the Jews.   Possibly he will feel secure enough in his autocratic position to carry out his original, secret plan to impose an absolute dictatorship on all the peoples of his empire, especially the Jews.   All pretense of religious toleration will be dropped as he aspires to display himself as the incarnation of all divine authority on earth.”   (II Thess 2:4)

Tyndale adds:   “ In the middle of the “one set of seven” (9:27), or “week,” he will take control of the Jewish temple and put a stop to worship, demanding that he be worshipped (cf. Matt 24:15;  II Thess 2:4).   But he will be destroyed at Christ’s second coming.”  (Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary, Daniel 9:27, page 319, 1990).

Again, it should be noted that this revived Roman system will broker an agreement between the Jews and the Palestinians, solving what has seemed like an insoluble problem.   Of course, it won’t really be resolved, as it only lasts three and a half years.   Clearly, America’s role as honest broker is about to be replaced by active European involvement.

For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman.   And they shall not escape.” (I Thess 5:3)

Unger’s Bible Handbook (1966) says this about this time period: “The final week of seven years constitutes the climax of Jewish history prior to the establishment of the messianic kingdom, 27.   It is divided into two half periods (three and a half years each).   During the first half the “prince” (world ruler, “little horn” of 7:8, 24-25) will make a covenant with the Jews, who are restored in Palestine with a resumption of temple worship.   In the middle of the week the covenant is broken, worship for the Jews ceases (II Thess 2:3-4), and the time of Great Tribulation ensues.   The advent of Christ the Messiah consummates this period of desolation, bringing everlasting righteousness for Israel, 24, and judgment upon the “desolator,” the prince, and his hosts (Rev 19:20).”    (page 392)

US recognition of Jerusalem as the “eternal capital of Israel” was the catalyst for this.   Expect more violence, perhaps even threatening the very existence of Israel.   This will then force the Europeans to get involved, leading to “peace” which won’t last.

#9

Another development, on Thursday, may also be a significant development.

EU leaders, meeting in Sofia, Bulgaria, agreed that EU based companies will be prosecuted if they go along with the Trump Administration’s sanctions on Iran.   These sanctions follow Mr. Trump’s decision to tear up the Iran nuclear treaty that was agreed between the US, EU, Germany, France, the UK, Russia and China in 2015.

The 28-nation European Union is sending a clear signal that it will no longer be dictated to by the United States.

 

 

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ISTANBUL SUICIDE BOMBING

Turkey bomb

In my last post, I wrote about the fall of Constantinople.  In 1453 the city fell to the Muslim Turks and was soon renamed Istanbul.

This post begins with mention of Istanbul, one of the most interesting cities that I have ever visited.   Not only was it founded by Constantine the Great in 330, it was the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, Byzantium, for a thousand years.

When you walk around the old part of the city, you are walking on 1700 years of history.

No wonder so many tourists visit Istanbul.  Ten of them were killed this morning, eight of them Germans, when an ISIS suicide bomber from Syria blew himself up.   In a statement, ISIS said there would be more and bigger bombs.  This was the fourth ISIS attack in Turkey in six months.

Whether or not ISIS was deliberately targeting Germans is not known.  The attack was deliberately perpetrated in the tourist area of the old city, close to the Blue Mosque and not far from the Hagia Sophia, a 1500-year-old church built by the Eastern Emperor Justinian in the sixth century.   The church has survived a number of earthquakes and the fall of Justinian’s Empire – whether it will survive ISIS remains to be seen. Turkey is likely to see many more terror attacks.

Germany is also likely to suffer at the hands of terrorists, made more probable by Chancellor Merkel’s “open door” policy to Syrian refugees.   One million refugees arrived last year.   Things are not going well.

On New Year’s Eve, about a thousand Middle Eastern and North African men descended on the area around Cologne Cathedral. During the course of the evening, dozens of German women were sexually assaulted and a few were raped.   It turns out that, contrary to claims that almost all the refugees were women and children, in fact 80% were young men!

This has naturally led to greater demands for the refugees to be deported.   A big demonstration in Leipzig yesterday got out of hand, adding to Chancellor Merkel’s woes.   With more refugees set to arrive, the problem is set to get worse.

Meanwhile, Germany is dealing with foreign policy challenges that threaten the coherence of the European Union, of which Germany was a founder member and is the biggest economy.

German Foreign Policy reports:  “High-ranking German politicians are calling for punitive measures against Poland.   The Polish government’s measures neutralizing the country’s constitutional court as well as its new media laws are “in violation of European values,” according to Volker Kauder, Chair of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group.    The EU member states must now “have the courage to impose sanctions.” “

With the above problems, there may be little time to give any attention to Britain’s campaign for changes to the EU Treaty that would alleviate some of the financial burdens on the UK from its EU membership.

A report in the Guardian newspaper yesterday claimed the EU would play “hardball” with London, as they have nothing to lose.   If the UK leaves the EU, it could face punitive measures that would make it harder for the country to trade with its European neighbors.

The same article also pointed out that the Scots are not as keen on leaving the EU as their southern neighbors in England.

A withdrawal from the EU may be a setback for the project of European unity, but it could also lead to the breakup of the United Kingdom.

IS THIS TO BE THE FATE OF THE WESTERN WORLD?

SCAN0109

Michigan winters can be depressing, a real downer.   Add to that, the state of the world as 2016 begins and it’s amazing anyone can function.

A cartoon in yesterday’s paper showed half a dozen people nervously peeking into a dark room labeled “2016” – clearly, nobody wanted to go in.

Who knows what the year will bring?

Adding to my sense of foreboding has been a couple of books I’ve been reading.   Perhaps I should stop reading!   Then I could stop thinking and become like lots of other people.   It’s difficult, though, to watch hours of mindless drivel on television or at movie theaters when there are so many good books to read.

The books I’ve been reading are “The End of Byzantium” by Jonathan Harris  and “Isabella” by Kirstin Downey.   The latter is about the famous queen of Spain, but includes a long section on the fall of Byzantium and what followed.

Byzantium was the name of the Eastern Roman Empire, founded by Constantine the Great in the fourth century.   It survived the fall of the (western) Roman Empire by a thousand years.   Byzantium was the greatest power in Christendom during that period. Constantinople, its capital, was known as “the Queen of Cities.”

Yet it fell.

It fell to the Muslim Turks in 1453.   It’s fall was as dramatic and interesting as the fall of Babylon to Persia in 539 BC.   The consequences for both were dramatic.

Residents of both had considered their capitals impregnable.   Most Americans and Britons today would describe their own countries similarly.   After all, they have nuclear weapons.   The US has the greatest military on earth.

But, as the falls of Babylon and Constantinople show, it doesn’t mean a thing!  And, just as the “handwriting was on the wall” for Babylon (Daniel 5), so it is today for the West.

I went to see my primary doctor recently, shortly after San Bernardino.   He couldn’t understand why so many people brought up in the United States could become “radicalized.”   I know that Britons, Australians, Canadians and people in other western countries don’t understand this, either.

An article in yesterday’s Lansing State Journal called for more Muslim immigration into the US.   The reasoning was simple – the more people from the Middle East who come here, the better, because they either go back enthused about the American way of life, or they stay here committed to America.

This is naïve thinking at best.   At its worst, it’s downright dangerous.

Both my doctor and this writer represent 1960’s liberal thinking.   They believe that our western way of life is superior and that anybody who moves to the West will naturally see things that way given a short period of time to adjust.   And their children, naturally, will be just as committed to the American (or British) way of life as anybody else born here, embracing our liberal values.

This reasoning fails to understand that there is a major difference between Islam and the West – one means “submission” (or “surrender”), while the other believes in freedom.   These two cannot be reconciled.   Any child brought up in the former, while living in the latter, is inevitably going to be confused.

Why can’t people see that?

If they cannot grasp what is written above, then they can at least read some history and learn lessons from the past.

Note the following from “Isabella,” describing the fall of Christian Constantinople to the Muslim Turks.  Don’t think this can’t happen again – it’s happening right now in the Middle East as Christians are being driven out by Muslims.   After the fall of Byzantium, it happened to other European nations as the Muslims moved into the heart of Europe.   Again, hundreds of thousands have moved into central Europe in the last few months.

(When I was on a tour of Turkey a few years ago, I asked our tour guide three times what happened to all the Christians when Constantinople fell to the Muslims.   Three times, I failed to get an answer.)

“On the last day, a crowd of men, women, children, nuns and monks, “sought refuge” in Hagia Sophia . . . (the sixth century cathedral built by Justinian) . . . the Turks broke down the doors of the church with axes and dragged the congregants off to slavery.   The statues of the saints were smashed; church vessels were seized.   “Scenes of unimaginable horror ensued,” historian Franz Babinger writes.”

“The Turkish soldiers killed four thousand in the siege and enslaved almost the entire population of the city.   They plundered the churches, the imperial palace, and the homes of the rich, and they did considerable damage to much of the city’s fabled architecture . . . unique and rare classical manuscripts were torn apart for the value of their bindings and thrown into the garbage.” (“Isabella”, page 172, 2014)

“By the end of 1459, all of Serbia had fallen under their control.   About 200,000 Serbs were enslaved by the Turks…..Soon, he (Mehmed, the sultan) attacked the city of Gardiki, in Thessaly, killing all 6,000 inhabitants, including women and children.   He had accepted the surrender without struggle of the Genoese colony of Amasra, on the Black Sea coast, where he enslaved two-thirds of the population.” (p. 175)

ISIS continues to treat Christians the same way.   There was, and is, no respect for other religions.

In the fifth century, the Roman Empire was invaded by barbarians (non-Romans).   This is a reason they no longer exist.   Spain itself was overrun by Muslims in the eighth century, a reason why Isabella took the stand she did centuries later.   When the Holy Land fell to the Muslims, it was necessary for the West to intervene to enable pilgrims to travel there safely.   After Constantinople fell, the West was in shock, rather as it would be if the United States fell.

The historian Niall Ferguson wrote after Paris that the West has the feel of Rome about it, that we are in danger of falling the same way; conservative columnist Mark Steyn wrote that “the barbarians are at the gate, and there is no gate!” – a reference to the fact that Angela Merkel and others are welcoming the invaders.

There clearly are genuine and justified concerns about allowing more Muslims into western countries.  Just yesterday, the BBC has reported that Germany has been shocked by how many German women were sexually assaulted and even raped over New Years, a direct result of the recent surge in immigration from the Middle East and North Africa.

TV reporters and those who write for newspapers advocating more immigrants are clearly ignorant of history.   They endanger all of our lives.

Reporting right now is focused on the growing Saudi-Iranian conflict, a continuation of the 1400-year-old struggle between Sunni and Shia Islam.   Neither can respect the other.   They just want to kill those who believe differently from themselves.  We can see it clearly when looking at the two branches of Islam – why do the same reporters find it so difficult to see the threat Islam poses to Christians and secularists in the West?

Christians for centuries have prayed “Thy Kingdom Come” (Matt 6:10) as Jesus Christ taught us to do in His model prayer.   Never has the need for that kingdom been greater.  Only He can put an end to false religion and the religious confusion that threatens the end of our civilization.

POPE’S VISIT TO ISTANBUL

Pope in Turkey

What’s behind the Pope’s visit to Istanbul?

It should always be remembered that the Vatican is a country, with its own king, the Pope.   Historically, Vatican meddling in secular affairs has contributed greatly to human conflict. This is particularly true when it comes to the historic struggle between Islam and Christendom.   Popes have been instrumental in leading the West against Islam.

Pope Francis’ visit to Istanbul can hardly be described as pastoral, as there are only 35,000 Catholics in Turkey.   It’s therefore safe to assume the visit was political. What did the pope have in mind?

This visit was the fourth time a pope has visited Turkey. The first was Pope Paul VI in 1967. He caused quite an upset when he prayed in the Hagia Sophia, the sixth century church built by the Emperor Justinian. When Istanbul (then called Constantinople) fell to the Muslim Turks in 1453, the church was turned into a mosque. Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish Repubic, turned it into a secular museum 80 years ago.   Pope Francis was careful not to pray in the 1,500-year-old building, not wishing to provoke Muslim sensibilities.

The visit was intended to improve relations, firstly between the primary leader of Christendom and his equal, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, the 270th person to hold the title. Both churches go back a long way.   The historic schism between the two occurred almost a thousand years ago, in 1054.   Threatened by secularism and Islamic extremism, both leaders talk about unity, but, after a millennium, it’s not likely to happen.   This does not, however, mean they cannot work together.

The pope is also interested in establishing closer relationships with the Islamic world. Unlike the Orthodox Church, there is no primary leader in Islam, but the pope is concerned about the worsening situation in the Middle East. A century ago, most of the countries that are in turmoil today were ruled from Istanbul as regions of the Ottoman Empire, the same Turkish Empire that conquered Constantinople in the fifteenth century. Istanbul was, therefore, a good place to start to reach some sort of rapprochement with Islam.

The pope called on Islamic countries to roundly condemn ISIS and to protect religious minorities in their midst. The whole region has witnessed a great deal of persecution of Christians in recent decades, after centuries of fairly peaceful relations between the two major religions.

With the persecutions in mind, the pope should have asked the religiously conservative leader of Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, what happened to the Christians after the fall of Constantinople in 1453. The official answer is that their conqueror, Mehmed I, generously gave them the freedom to practice their religion, as evidenced by the presence of a small community today. Only 1% of the country now is Christian. One thousand years ago, almost all the people were Christians. I asked this question a number of times during a visit to Turkey but never got a truthful answer.   History shows that while some fled to Italy (and contributed to the Renaissance), most were killed, sold into slavery or forced to convert.

It’s what we can all expect if ISIS defeats the West.

Is the papacy once again going to lead the West against resurgent Islam?