Tag Archives: Lebanon

PROPHESIED EVENTS SPEEDING UP UNDER TRUMP

When President Trump was elected, many Christians thought this would mean a delay in prophesied end-time events, as America was “made great again”.

The opposite seems to be the case.

As Sky News put it following Mr. Trump’s announcement that the United States is pulling out of the Iran deal, the president’s proclamation sent an “earthquake” through the Middle East.

Rather than delaying prophesied events, Mr. Trump is speeding them up, laying the groundwork for rapid escalation.

Consider the following:

  1. The growing rift between Europe and America.   Less than a month after French President Emmanuel Macron paid a seemingly highly successful visit to Washington, DC, the French today condemned America over the re-imposition of sanctions on Iran, calling the decision “unacceptable.”   Earlier in the week, France, Germany and the UK all expressed support for the Iranian deal, refusing to support the US.

It should be emphasized that it is not Europe distancing itself from America; it’s America that keeps on making decisions that are taking the country down a new path of isolationism.

It’s America that is changing, not the rest of the world.   But changes decided in Washington are going to have a profound effect internationally.

Just today, European Union boss Jean-Claude Juncker is capitalizing on America’s decision to call once again for a United States of Europe with its own, single, unified military.

At some point, prophecy shows that ten nations in Europe will unite to form a formidable military, political and economic alliance.   You can read about this in Revelation, chapter 17.   “The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have received no kingdom as yet, but they receive authority for one hour as kings with the beast.” (Rev.  17:12-13)

  1.  Pressure from the US on Berlin to build up the German military.

After two world wars that were started by Germany, you would think nobody would want to rearm the country that lies at the heart of Europe.   And that has been the case with every Administration since World War II.   But now it’s changing, as President Trump feels that the Germans must spend more on the defense of the western alliance – which may not be an alliance much longer!   Building up its military will leave Germany in the perfect position to lead the ten nation revival of the Roman Empire.

  1. Moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem, thereby recognizing the city as the “eternal capital” of Israel.   No other major nation has followed America in this.   This is just one decision that has changed the Middle East dramatically.

The Old Testament Book of Zechariah is a Millennial prophecy, which speaks to us today.   It contains prophecies which could not have been fulfilled until the restoration of the Jewish nation exactly seventy years ago. Note chapter 12, verses 2 & 3.

 “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem.    And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.”

Judah is the biblical name for the modern nation of Israel, whose population is mostly Jewish, people who are descendants of the ancient tribe of Judah.

Given time, conflict around Jerusalem will involve more nations. Note Zech 14:2:  “ For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle.”

  1. US support for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has emboldened Israel to strike at Iran in Syria.   It’s worth remembering that it was Netanyahu who warned President George W Bush about weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq, calling on Washington to do something.   That did not work out well.   Could we see greater intervention by the United States in a rising conflict between Israel and Iran?   Iran this week attacked Israel for the first time.
  2. Add to this, the growing conflict between Shia and Sunni Islam, with the US clearly supporting Sunni Muslim countries (notably Saudi Arabia) against Shi’ite countries (Iran, Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon).
  3. The decision to tear up the climate change treaty, signed in Paris.   Mr. Macron tried to change President Trump’s mind, but failed.   People may criticize the US president for many things, but he’s certainly fulfilling his election promises, including this one.   The rest of the world remains committed to the treaty.
  4. Trade is another area of growing conflict, as President Trump puts “America First.”   Here certainly the US has many grievances on unfair trade practices, but, again, it adds to the growing sense of divergence, as the US moves in a different direction from the rest of the world.   Other nations continue to support globalization as a way to universal prosperity.

This growing trade war could even backfire on the US, if China decides to divest itself of US dollars. The result would be a serious downward pull on the greenback’s international value.

Even in less important areas, there has been significant change.   For the first time, royal wedding planners had to announce that no politicians will be invited to next week’s wedding.   This was the only way out of inviting the US president to a wedding where the bride is an American.   But the alternative was a massive demonstration outside the church, thereby giving the British a security headache.

It’s not that all the changes are wrong.   As an article headline in the Wall Street Journal put it:   “Everything about Trump is bad, except for all his policies.”   Rather, it’s the combined effect that all the changes are making that has sent an earthquake around the world. The aftershocks will be with us for some time.

Many Christians will no doubt continue to believe that Trump is going to reverse America’s fortunes and usher in a new glorious age, but it seems more likely that the radical departure from previous policies is only going to speed up the prophesied events that culminate in the return of Jesus Christ.

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CBS this morning showed a few minutes of an interview with the Pope, to be broadcast in its entirety on “60 Minutes” this Sunday.  This morning, the pope was talking about the Jewish seventh day sabbath being a day of rest.  He actually used the terms “seventh day” and “sabbath.”

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O JERUSALEM

Jerusalem is described in the biblical Book of Zechariah as “ a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples” (12:2).   The book is a Millennial prophecy about events now and in the future.

When people are drunk, they don’t think straight.   And we see that happening now, following President Trump’s announced intention to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, thereby recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Jerusalem has never been the capital of any Arab state.   It was not the capital under the Ottomans, who ruled over the city for four centuries.   When East Jerusalem was a part of the Kingdom of Jordan, it was not the capital.   The US will be moving its embassy to West Jerusalem, which is the Jewish part of the city, not East Jerusalem, where the Muslim population lives.   One third of the city’s people are Muslim.

It should also be noted that Jerusalem has not been of historic importance to the Palestinians, Arabs or Muslims. Only in recent years has it been turned into a political football in the never-ending negotiations known as the “peace process.”

It was Yasser Arafat’s uncle, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, who claimed that the Muslim prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven from the Dome of the Rock.   He also declared the Rock sacred, as the site where Abraham went to sacrifice Ishmael (not Isaac).   The intent behind these declarations was to stop the growing Jewish community from taking control of the city.

However, facts will not be allowed to interfere with anything from riots to war.   Any excuse to focus attention on the Palestinians and against Israel, supposedly the occupying power and supporters of apartheid.

“Peace talks” have gotten nowhere.   By recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Mr. Trump may be trying to force the Palestinians into real peace talks, which will require compromise on both sides.   Fear of losing Jerusalem may provoke them into concessions, though this is not likely historically. As Abba Eban, former Israeli diplomat and politician, said of Yasser Arafat: “he never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”   There’s no sign of this changing.

So, what might be the next step?   War?

Undoubtedly, there will be trouble on the West Bank and in Gaza.   A “day of rage” has been called for Friday, the Muslim day of prayer. Some are calling for a new intifada, a popular uprising that will go on indefinitely, tying down Israeli troops for months or years to come.

Right now, Israel is faced with war on three fronts.   Once the Syrian conflict is over, Hezbollah in Lebanon can turn its attention to Israel.   The Gaza Strip and the West Bank could be another two fronts, making it very difficult for Israel to cope.

The following verse, Zachariah 12:3 says that Jerusalem will become “a very heavy stone for all peoples.”   The marginal note in my NKJV Study Bible says on this verse: “  Jerusalem is compared to a heavy stone that brings injury to anyone who tries to remove it from its place.”    Nobody could ever physically move Jerusalem, but its status can theoretically be changed, as President Trump has done.   This verse may be saying that attempts to reverse the decision will only bring hurt to those advocating the change.

Israel Today asked the question this morning:   “Is this a fulfillment of prophecy?”

One thing does seem likely following Mr. Trump’s decision.   It is not likely that the US can continue to orchestrate peace talks now that the country has come out openly in favor of Israel.   The EU may claim to be the new honest broker in the peace process, though the German News channel DW is showing a definite anti-Israel / pro-Palestinian slant in its news coverage of the announcement.   (DW news is shown on many PBS channels across the United States. Times vary.)

The announcement made by President Trump is likely to be the most significant decision made by the new president in his first year in office.

THANKSGIVING AND BEYOND

Seated:  Brooklyn, Aubren, Elena and Hayden.  Standing:  Alyssa with Evan, Paris with Leeson, and Ethan.

We just survived four days of Thanksgiving with nine grandchildren!!!

Actually that’s not quite true.   All nine were only with us from Wednesday evening at 6pm until Thursday at 8pm.   The other seven were in our home for 97 hours and 38 minutes, to be exact.   But, who’s counting?  Delightful chaos!

It was fun – most of the time.   Except when the boys, all 5 except for our son who is 38 going on 5, were playing nerf wars; running around the house with toy guns shooting light plastic/foam bullets at each other.

Until Sunday afternoon, when the oldest “5” year old got hit in the eye and ended up in ER.  Twice.   After spending 2 hours and 30 minutes at the first ER, he had to go to the second ER because they didn’t have the necessary equipment to examine the eye at the first. Both hospitals are owned by the same company, so you would think that the second hospital would let him go to the front of the line.   No way.   He had to wait another 5 or 6 hours to get any attention.  It was eight hours before he arrived back at our home.   8 hours and a few hundred dollars, plus whatever his insurance company paid out on his behalf.

Waiting with him at the second hospital, I was observing what was going on.  I usually take something to read when I have to wait at doctors’ offices or hospitals, but I thought this visit would be brief. Not so.   After about three hours, our son wanted something to eat and walked into the main part of the hospital, which has a “Starbucks” – add another $20 to the cost of his eye injury.  (And another $10 for parking!)   He returned from the Starbucks exclaiming that it cost more than any Starbucks he had been to in any airport.   Hospitals are clearly big business!

It looks as if his eye will be ok, but he has to go see the eye doctor every day this week to see how it’s doing.

His nephews had a lot of fun, but we may just be playing “Snakes and Ladders” next time they visit.   No, I doubt it.   If there’s anything they all have, it’s plenty of energy.

It’s now Tuesday and they have all been gone for almost 48 hours. However, Diane and I are both still exhausted.  Even the house seems to be breathing a sigh of relief although three of the little delights live here.   Only the cat had any sense – he stayed away almost all the time our visitors were here.  For some reason, he’s taken to sleeping on my pillow, so if I want to take a nap, I have to fight him for the space.   I could always get my own back by eating his cat food!  Maybe not – it has turkey as one of the ingredients.   I don’t think I could consume any more turkey for at least a year.

Our youngest grandson, Hayden, 18 months old, enjoyed all the attention from his cousins, aunts and uncles.   He has a new tee-shirt with these words on it:   “If Mom says No, go ask Grandpa”!   I think he already knew that.

It was a great Thanksgiving and we have a lot to be thankful for, starting with the nine grandchildren (pictured above).   If I had to live my life all over again, I think I would go with grandchildren before children – they are so much easier.

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AVOID THIS COMPANY

One thing we are not thankful for is roof repair companies.  Or, at least one, the one we used in February to put a new roof over our bedroom.   The company we used was Hanson’s, who offered us the best deal, or so we thought.

A few weeks after their work, we saw a dark shadow over our ceiling in one corner.   And, some days later, the ceiling started caving in.   We then saw the mold that had developed in the attic since their work on the roof.   The mold had to be treated and the ceiling repaired.  The water leak also ruined the heating coils in our ceiling so that source of heat had to be terminated, therefore installation of an electric heater near the floor was necessary.

After sending their foreman to examine it, and him denying it had anything to do with their roof job, they blamed it on evidence of a former leak, which happened apparently before we bought the place.   Funny, it wasn’t wet up there before they gave us a new roof.  And that “evidence” was on the chimney, not the roof – it would be leaking down the chimney if it were leaking at all.  And it wasn’t.  I had called them in because there was what looked like a small leak in a totally different part of the room.

Well, their foreman and his supervisor came back and did a “water test” and said it didn’t leak until they lifted the hose up to the former repair job on the chimney.  Then they left saying it wasn’t their roof that was at fault.  Well, we redid the water test ourselves when they left because we didn’t believe it.   And when we just laid the hosepipe on the roof, water only going on their roof, it POURED in the ceiling.   We called them and when we told them what we did – they immediately offered to give us a new roof – no apparent intent to come back and see again for themselves.   So they “seemed” to accept their responsibility in this matter and I told them there were ceiling repairs and they said they would submit a claim to their insurance company.   We had that hole in our ceiling for almost 6 weeks.  No insurance adjuster was ever sent to see it.   So I got it repaired and sent them the bill.

We could have saved on postage.  They are now saying they will not pay.  Of course, the ceiling is fixed now so nobody else can come out and confirm that it was their fault.  They lied and that’s that.  They said we called them originally because of a leak in the spot that caved in.  Unbelievable!   And because we did not start out this business with Hanson’s assuming they were dishonest shysters and did not document things as we should have, we now have to come up with the $7,348 to repair the shoddy work that originally cost marginally less than that.  In effect, we will have to pay twice for the same work. No wonder America, with only 4% of the world’s population, has over 50% of all the world’s lawyers (which most can’t afford)!

This spoiled our Thanksgiving – their letter of refusal arrived on the Monday of Thanksgiving Week.

It led to the following thoughts.

I remember thirty years ago, when we lived in England, I needed a chiropractor and the nearest one was about 30 miles away, across meandering country roads.   Beautiful scenery, but a long drive.

I was surprised to find the chiropractor was an American.  I asked him why he was living in the UK.   His response was that business in America was crooked.  I came to America’s defense, pointing out that there were crooks in England, too.  “Yes,” he replied, “there are some crooked companies in England, but in America they are all crooked.”

A more authoritative comment comes from a PBS documentary shown about twenty years ago.  The program compared German business practices with American to see what made Germany such a successful exporting country.

.The conclusion was interesting.  When a German company makes a sale, they consider it the start of a beautiful relationship with the customer; in the US, the sale is the end of the relationship.  That’s certainly true of Hanson’s and of some others we have experienced over the years.

When we lived in Ghana, a local businessman there made a similar observation. He bought his veterinary products from Germany because every few months they would send somebody down to make sure everything was going right.   American companies, he said, won’t do that – once the sale is made, they just want to go home.

When PM Margaret Thatcher was once asked to stop foreign nations from selling their cars in the UK; her response was to encourage the foreign car companies, until British companies learned from them how to do better.

It’s all rather sobering, but I would not be doing Hanson’s, or their future clients, any favors by covering up their shoddy work and blatant lying!

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TOTAL MADNESS FROM BRITAIN AND AMERICA

Don’t call female pupils girls or ladies because it reminds them of their gender, head teachers are told

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5104579/Heads-warned-not-use-gendered-terms-schools.html

New York phases out ‘ladies and gentlemen’ greetings on the subway in favor of politically correct gender-neutral terms including ‘passengers’ and ‘riders’

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5070439/New-York-phases-ladies-gentlemen.html

Reminder:  “So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.”  (Genesis 1:27)

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Poland’s Christian [Catholic] Government Votes to Phase Out Sunday Shopping So Families Can Spend More Time Together        28 Nov 2017 * Breitbart

Poland’s parliament has voted to slowly begin the process of abolishing Sunday shopping to allow workers to spend more time with their families.

The law has been passed by the sejm — equivalent to the British House of Commons or the U.S. House of Representatives — but must be approved by the Senate and the president, both of which could veto the decision.   Although the major change — which reverses decades of movement on turning Sunday from a holy day of rest into an ordinary day of shopping and work — has been criticised as putting jobs at risk, the government hopes it will improve quality of life for ordinary Poles.

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TEHRAN IS WINNING THE WAR FOR CONTROL OF THE MIDDLE EASTJonathan Spyer, Middle East Forum 11/21

The confrontation between Saudi Arabia and Iran is taking place across a swath of the Middle East in which, over the last decade, states have partially ceased to function — Iraq and Lebanon — or collapsed completely, as in the case of Syria and Yemen.   A war over the ruins has taken place in each country, with Riyadh and Tehran arrayed on opposing sides in all of them.

Throughout the region, the advantage is very clearly with the Iranians.

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IRAN COMPLETES ITS LAND BRIDGE TO THE GOLAN         Jonathan Spyer, Middle East Forum, 11/18

In the east of Syria, the so-called race to Abu Kamal between the US-supported Syrian Democratic Forces and the forces of Iran, the Assad regime and Russia appears to be close to conclusion – in the latter’s favor.   Regime forces moved into the town last Thursday. They were then expelled by an unexpected Islamic State counterattack this week, and have now retreated to positions about two kilometers outside of Abu Kamal.

The Islamic State move, however, has the flavor of a last roll of the dice.   Clearly, the Sunni jihadis will lose the strategic border town in the days ahead.

The US-supported SDF fighters are covering ground rapidly to the north.   But the forward units of the mainly Kurdish force remain about 25 kilometers north of Abu Kamal, in the area of the Kishma oil field.

Hezbollah can now be reinforced by Iran’s other regional clients in a future conflict with Israel. 

Iran is a regional super-power in the Middle East.  Saudi Arabia is engaged in resisting Iran’s hegemony on a number of fronts.   Iran now dominates an arc of Shia Islam which includes Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon – an arc that covers the same territories as the biblical King of the North in Daniel 11.   This would not have been possible without US intervention in Iraq 14 years ago.   Note:  these nations have Russian support.   ISIS, a violent and reactionary force within Sunni Islam, is largely defeated, making the forces of Shia Islam even more powerful.   This poses a serious threat to Israel. MR

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Headline in the Times of Israel:  IRAN VOWS TO PUT EUROPE IN MISSILE RANGE IF THREATENED    (Times of Israel 11/26)

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FRANCE SUBMITS TO TERRORISM, MUSLIM ANTI-SEMITISM  Guy Milliere, Gatestone Institute, 11/28

  • In France, since 2012, more than 250 people were killed by Islamic terrorism -more than in all other European countries combined.
  • No other country in Europe has experienced so many attacks against Jews.   France is a country where Jews are murdered because they are Jews.
  • “Muslim believers know very well what is happening.   Only a minority is violent.   But as a whole, they do not ignore that their birthrate is such that one day, everything here will be theirs.” — Luc Ravel, Archbishop of Strasbourg

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TIME TO DRAIN THE SWAMP – ALSO IN EUROPE                            Geert Wilders, Dutch nationalist politician, 11/26

  • Our democracies in the Western half of Europe have been subverted.  Their goal is no longer to do what the people want.  On the contrary, our political elites often do exactly the opposite. Our parliaments promote open-door policies that the majority of the people reject.  Our governments sell out sovereignty to the EU against the will of the people.  Our rulers welcome ever more Islam, although the majority of the people oppose it.
  • Our democracies have become fake democracies.  They are multi-party dictatorships, ruled by groups of establishment parties…. The establishment parties control everything, not just the politicians in their pay, but also the top brass of the civil service, the mainstream media, even the courts…. They call us “populists” because we stand for what the people want.   They even drag us to court.
  • We need to show that Europe’s streets are our streets, that we want to stay who and what we are, and do not want to be colonized by Islam. Europe belongs to us!

“Next month, I will be visiting Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic.  I have been invited to speak to a group of Czech patriots. The Czechs are a freedom loving people.   In 2011, on the occasion of the 100th birthday of Ronald Reagan, they named a street in Prague after this great American president and freedom fighter.

“This fact reminded me of a shameful event in my home town of The Hague, the seat of the Dutch Parliament and the government of the Netherlands.   Look for a Ronald Reagan Street in The Hague and you will find none.   A proposal in 2011 to name a street in The Hague after Reagan ran into fierce political opposition.   Leftist parties, such as Labor, the Greens and the liberal D66 party, argued that naming a street in honor of Reagan would “do the image of the city no good.”   The whole affair ended in a disgraceful political compromise.   Last year, a short stretch of a local bicycle path was named the “Reagan and Gorbachev Lane.”

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UNBELIEVABLE                                                                                                            BBC

Zimbabwe has officially declared 21 February to be Robert Gabriel Mugabe National Youth Day, thereby making the former president’s birthday a public holiday, the Herald newspaper reports.

Mr. Mugabe was the President of Zimbabwe for over 37 years.  Under his period of rule, the country, once one of the most successful economies in Africa, collapsed economically.   The army forced him out of office last week.  Major change, badly needed, does not look likely.   MR

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TIMES HAVE CHANGED

In 1936, King Edward VIII abdicated, choosing the American woman he loved over the throne of what was then the British Empire.  The parliaments of the UK and the Commonwealth Dominions, did not want Edward to marry a woman who still had two living former husbands.   The King, titular Head of the Church of England, could not marry a divorcee.

In 1955, the Queen’s sister, Princess Margaret was not allowed to marry Group Captain Townsend, a divorced equerry in the royal household.

Sixty years later, Prince Harry is to marry another divorced American woman, Meghan Markle.   Nobody is ruffled at all by this.  She is also biracial and could, as Ebony magazine pointed out, give birth to a black baby.

Times have certainly changed.   Of course, Britain itself has changed, with one in ten cohabiting couples living with a member of a different ethnic group.

Divorce has become more common and more acceptable, even in the royal family.  Princess Margaret divorced her husband over forty years ago; Princess Anne followed.   Charles and Diana divorced more than twenty years ago.   He went on to marry a divorced woman, Camilla Parker-Bowles, though the wedding was a civil ceremony in a Registry Office.

Having said all the above, the new royal couple seem well suited and very happy.   Ms. Markle, who has been living in Toronto, seemed to understand the importance of the 53-nation Commonwealth and the royal family’s constitutional role within the organization.   This came out during a televised interview with the couple.

She will not carry the title “Princess” as she is not of royal blood.   As Prince William and his wife are the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, so Harry and Meghan will have a similar title.   The wedding is scheduled for May.  It will no doubt lift everybody’s spirits as they go through the challenging process of Brexit.

The latest news on that is the divorce bill.   55 billion euros is being offered by London, but is said to be too little by Brussels.   As the UK has been subsidizing the EU for decades, they shouldn’t have to pay one penny.   But the British government of Theresa May does not have the confidence to stand up to the Bullies of Brussels!

Fortunately, the wedding will not cost the tax-payer anything (except for police security) and should help boost the country’s income through tourism.

 

 

BERLIN TERROR ATTACK

A lorry ploughed into wooden booths selling mulled wine and sausages (Photo: REUTERS)
A lorry ploughed into wooden booths selling mulled wine and sausages   (Photo: REUTERS)

For over a decade she’s been called “the most powerful woman in the world”.   In recent weeks, she has received the accolade “Leader of the Free World” as many nations see America turning its back on its international role.

But she may not even be in power one year from now.

Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, generously allowed into the country one million asylum seekers in recent months.   On Monday, one of those migrants staged a terrorist attack in Berlin, killing twelve and seriously injuring almost 50.   The attacker stole a heavy goods vehicle and drove into Christmas shoppers in one of the capital’s famous Christmas markets.   The method copied the attack in Nice, France, which killed 84 people in July.

Many Berliners thought themselves immune from attack.  Their liberal city welcomed migrants.  Now, many Germans are doing a rethink.  The right-wing AfD (Alternative for Deutschland) party looks set to gain at the polls next year.   Their anti-immigrant policy is in stark contrast to their “conservative” Chancellor and other centrist parties.   Germans could easily follow British and American voters by turning away from the liberal immigration policies of the past.

“Everything has changed for Merkel after Berlin terror attack, says expert” was the headline Thursday morning in the British Daily Express.   ‘Angela Merkel’s open-door migrant policy will come slamming shut and Germany will become a Big Brother state after the Berlin Christmas market terror attack, a leading political commentator has warned.”  (Alix Culbertson)

The article continues:  “Josef Joffe said Germany has only had to deal with no or low victim lone-wolf attacks, unlike many other Western countries, until this year but after a spate of seven in 2016 the government will be forced to change the way the country is run.”

At the same time, there is concern across Europe about America’s commitment to the continent’s democracies.   Many are now looking to Germany and Angela Merkel to take over America’s seven decade leading role in western Europe.

“President-elect Donald Trump hasn’t taken the oath of office or outlined his administration’s plans for the nation’s foreign policy, but his election has already forced the United States’ European allies to contemplate a future where the United States might no longer underwrite Europe’s security.   Faced with an American president who has dismissed alliances such as NATO while denigrating liberal values, Germany will assume an increasingly consequential role as a leader in the turbulent transatlantic order while it takes gradual steps to shore up its lagging military capabilities.   But the prospect of nationalist victories in important European elections next year raises an under-discussed question: as the European project comes under unprecedented strain and prepares to face a President who promises to turn the United States away from the world, could a fractured and increasingly nationalistic Europe come to fear a more powerful Germany again?”

The following paragraph is of particular interest:   “In a profound twist of historical irony that is not yet appreciated widely, only 71 years after World War II, a sitting German chancellor has warned the next leader of the United States to respect the transatlantic order’s commitment to the rule of law and liberal values.”   (“Could Europe fear Germany again?” by Adam Twardowski, Small Wars Journal, December 19th.)

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Political Revolution Is Brewing in Europe

Geert Wilders, the Dutch politician who leads the anti-immigrant party, was found guilty this week of inflammatory language against Moroccan immigrants, all Muslims.   The following was written by Mr. Wilders and appeared in “The Gatestone Institute’s” newsletter:

  • The German authorities are dangerously underestimating the threat of Islam . . .   They have betrayed their own citizens.
  • Let no-one tell you that only the perpetrators of these crimes are to blame.   The politicians, who welcomed Islam into their country, are guilty as well.   And it is not just Frau Merkel in Germany, it is the entire political elite in Western Europe.
  • Out of political-correctness, they have deliberately turned a blind eye to Islam.  They have refused to inform themselves about its true nature.  They refuse to acknowledge that its all in the Koran: the permission to kill Jews and Christians (Surah 9:29), to terrorize non-Muslims (8:12), to rape young girls (65:4), to enslave people for sex (4:3), to lie about one’s true goals (3:54), and the command to make war on the infidels (9:123) and subjugate the entire world to Allah (9:33).
  • We will have to de-islamize our societies . . .   But it all begins with politicians with the courage to face and speak the truth.
  • More and more citizens are aware of that.   This is why a political revolution is brewing in Europe.   Patriotic parties are rapidly growing everywhere.   They are Europe’s only hope for a better future.

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Prince Charles warns against religious persecution

BBC

Prince Charles has spoken out about the danger of religious persecution, warning against a repeat of “the horrors of the past.” Delivering BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day, the Prince of Wales said the rise of populist groups “aggressive” to minority faiths had “deeply disturbing echoes of the dark days” of the 1930s.   The prince said the scale of religious persecution around the world was “not widely appreciated” and was not limited to Christians, but included many other minority faiths.   He went on:  “That, nearly seventy years later, we should still be seeing such evil persecution is, to me, beyond all belief.”   The Prince said:  “Whichever religious path we follow, the destination is the same – to value and respect the other person, accepting their right to live out their peaceful response to the love of God.”

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ANGLOS ON DECLINE

It may not be too serious yet, but a group of Californians has just opened an “embassy” in Moscow.   They are seeking international recognition for an independent California.

Don’t think it’s not possible.

Many Scots want independence from the United Kingdom, with a call this week for a second referendum within two years; many Australians want to sever the tie with the Crown after the Queen’s reign ends.

These three developments all have something in common – they reflect the decline of the Anglo-Saxons and the increasing presence of non-Anglo immigrants.   Watch for more fragmentation in the Anglosphere.   It’s inevitable considering the low Anglo-Saxon birthrate everywhere.   California, remember, is now a majority Spanish speaking state.

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THE FALL OF ALEPPO

I took the latest Economist magazine to a medical appointment yesterday, expecting to have to wait for some time.  The doctor commented on the depressing cover on “The Fall of Aleppo.”   I’m pleased to say that he did not ask: “What’s Aleppo?” You have to be a presidential candidate to be that ill-informed.   Rather, he asked me what the difference is between East and West Aleppo.

I started to explain that East Aleppo was the “rebel” side, made up mostly of Sunni Muslims; West is where the pro-government Shi’ites live.   The rebels have now been defeated, not by a few hundred Syrian troops, but by  Shia volunteers from Iraq, Iran, Lebanon and Afghanistan; together with Russian air power.

He jokingly asked what my solution would be to the 1,400-year-old Shia-Sunni conflict. We then joked about attempts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which goes back even longer.   It has been suggested that Donald Trump’s 35-year-old Jewish son-in-law could make a difference and resolve the conflict!

After I left, I remembered one of the funniest scenes in the movie “The Flintstones,” supposedly set in prehistoric times.   As the paperboy delivered the morning newspaper, if you look carefully you can see the headline from 3000+ years ago:   “Mideast peace talks fail.”

Nothing’s changed.

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One small change has taken place in the Middle East and that’s in Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, from where the BBC’s James Longman has been reporting to the world about the developments in Aleppo, 180 miles away.   Apparently, the 29-year-old, good-looking, athletic reporter has quite a female following.   Hundreds of thousands around the world who, until recently, thought Beirut was a root vegetable, an expensive perfume or a new wine at the local liquor store, are now becoming interested in Middle East affairs, so much so they eagerly turn to BBC World News first thing in the morning.

It is, however, having a negative affect on news channels.   Fox started it all by employing attractive blondes, seemingly a requirement for employment at the news channel.   Now even men on global news networks are being chosen according to their physical appearance.

Fortunately, Mr. Longman also knows his Middle East.   Born in England, he is fluent in both French and Arabic, which give him a distinct advantage in the region.   His reporting on the area is worth watching.

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The BBC, like other networks, does not give enough attention to the religious divisions that exist in the Middle East.   Religion is at the core of all the sectarian violence that afflicts the region.   It may be difficult for people raised in secular England to fully comprehend this.

The Jewish-Palestinian conflict has the potential to lead to World War III.   Increasingly, it seems that the Shia-Sunni conflict could do the same.

Some in the West think the solution is the end of religion.   Another solution is found in the Lord’s Prayer, in the words “Thy Kingdom Come.” (Matthew 6:10)

When that Kingdom comes, the Bible shows us that the true religion of the Messiah will be imposed over all the false religions.   You can read about this in the book of the Old Testament prophet, Zechariah, which looks to the future Millennial rule of Jesus Christ.

“And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.   And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, on them there will be no rain.   If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague with which the Lord strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.   This shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.” (Zech. 14:16-19)

Egypt is 90% Muslim, and is a country that is witnessing a continued decline in its Christian population, which has been persecuted and discriminated against for generations.   The latest outrage was a bomb going off in Cairo’s St Mark’s Cathedral.   This passage of scripture shows that the Egyptians will in the future be forced to change from the Islamic religion to the true religion.

Christians should also take note, especially at this time of the year. Christmas is not mentioned in this passage.   Rather, we see the biblical Feast of Tabernacles mentioned; once thought of as a Jewish festival, it will, in the future, be observed by everybody.   At the same time, we will see the end of all the sectarian violence that today is at the root of all the suffering and violence in the area.

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WE’VE COME A LONG WAY

PBS’s “The Hollow Crown” is taking us through Shakespeare’s historical plays and the last kings of the Plantagents, England’s bloodiest dynasty.   They reigned for over 300 years, from 1154 to 1485.   The last thirty years saw the Wars of the Roses, as the two royal houses of York and Lancaster battled for supremacy.

The series has inspired me to read Alison Weir’s “The Wars of the Roses,” first published in 1995.   The following paragraph should be of interest to all.

“Formal education was provided for boys only.   Women were seen as the inferior sex and regarded as the chattels of men.   The author of “The Goodman of Paris” (c. 1393) advised wives to behave like faithful dogs in order to please their husbands, and Margaret Paston of Norfolk referred to John Paston as “right worshipful husband” in her letters.   The husband was lord of his family as God reigned supreme over the universe.   The chief duty of a wife, therefore, was to be submissive.   If there was discord in a marriage, or infertility, people automatically assumed it was the wife’s fault.   Women had virtually no freedom beyond that which their fathers or husbands allowed them.   Within these confines, however, many managed businesses, shops, farms or noble estates, and proved themselves the equal to men.” (page 17)

 

WHAT’S ALEPPO?

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Gary Johnson is the leader of the Libertarian Party, a third party in the United States.   Polls showed the party had 9% support a few days ago – before Mr. Johnson made a big boo-boo on nationwide television.   When asked what he would do about Aleppo, he looked bewildered and asked the anchor:  “What’s Aleppo?”  Aleppo, you will remember, is Syria’s second biggest city and has been devastated in the country’s never-ending civil war.   Tens of thousands of refugees have been fleeing the city and the country, heading mostly for Europe.

It’s been big news – and Mr. Johnson was unaware of it!

Sadly, there will be many others in the country who are just as ignorant of the rest of the world.

I’m often amazed at how many people do not want to know what’s going on in the world.   Even Christians have a problem in this regard, despite what Jesus Christ said in Matthew 24:42:  “Watch therefore for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.”  The chapter answers the question from the disciples:  “Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be?  And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (verse 3)

From other scriptures we know that the Middle East and Europe play a key role in world events.   Christians especially should be aware of what is happening in these two areas of the world, but too often they are not.   Sadly, some just do not want to know.

“. . . and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.”  (Mark 4:19)

Mr. Johnson’s comment (or lack of comment) may have ended his presidential ambitions, which did not have much hope in the first place; but he’s not the only candidate aspiring to the presidency who is ignorant of international affairs.

Donald Trump’s comments on NATO could mean the end of an alliance that has guaranteed peace for the West since World War II; while Mrs. Clinton’s assurance that America is the “indispensable” nation overlooks the fact that America’s preeminence did not begin until after World War II.   Before that the world got along fine without the US and could do so again if the country pursued an isolationist course.

Next week, Jean Claude Juncker, the former prime minister of Luxembourg and now President of the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, lays out his plan for a European military.   The British were very much against this, seeing it as a threat to NATO.   But the British are no longer members of the EU. The remaining 27 members of the Union are now free to pursue their own combined military force, which has the potential to rival America’s.   The EU remains, even without the UK, the world’s biggest economy and, through trade, has greater economic power around the world than the US does.

Inevitably, an EU military force will be led by Germany, the most powerful economy in Europe.

While Americans remain preoccupied with their election, they may not have noticed a significant victory for the extreme right in last Sunday’s state election in Angela Merkel’s home state.   Her party came in third after the socialists and the fairly new anti-immigrant party known as the Alternative for Deutschland (AfD), which some claim is “neo-Nazi.”

“A nationalist, anti-immigration party performed strongly in a state election Sunday in the region where German Chancellor Angela Merkel has her political base, overtaking her conservatives to take second place amid discontent with her migrant policies.

The three-year-old Alternative for Germany, or AfD, won 20.8 percent of votes in the election for the state legislature in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. Merkel’s Christian Democrats polled 19 percent, their worst result yet in the state.

The center-left Social Democrats, who led the outgoing state government in a coalition with the conservatives, remained the strongest party with 30.6 percent support.” (ABC News website, 9th September)

The successful vote for Brexit in the UK in June was motivated partly by anti-immigrant feeling.   AfD’s success in Germany is due to the same problem.   Next year’s federal elections in Germany are likely to reinforce the trend. In France next year a victory is predicted for their anti-immigrant party.   The US may see the same in November.

Voters throughout the western world are waking up to the twin threats from globalization and immigration, which together threaten their way of life.

At the same time there are increasing fears of further terrorism from radical Islamists.   Europe is being invaded by hundreds of thousands of potential terrorists, mostly from ISIS areas of influence.  Could this be the push by the king of the South as described in Daniel 11?   The only way to stop this invasion may be for the new European Army to invade the Middle East and stabilize the failed states of Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, as the King of the North hits back.

The changes in Europe will affect the Middle East, the home countries of many of the recent refugees arriving at European borders.

The Visegrad Group is made up of four eastern European countries, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.  These four are against the massive immigration that has been favored by Angela Merkel.  The four are working together to prevent further invasion from the Mideast by Islamic “refugees,” many of whom, it turns out, are actually from west Africa.   Could these four countries be the nucleus of the eastern leg of the revived Roman Empire prophesied by the prophet Daniel in chapter two of the Book of Daniel?

The developments listed above all have two things in common – I have heard nothing about any of them on the main American television news programs.   They are not considered important.  The US election gets priority.  Secondly, they are all of significance when it comes to biblical prophesies relating to Europe.  Christians can be forgiven for being ignorant of them.

Having said that, Aleppo has received some attention on national news programs.   Clearly, not everyone wants to watch!

IRAQ WAR INQUIRY

iran-map-region

Further evidence that our leaders are out of touch with reality is not needed.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said yesterday that the world is a better place because of the Iraq War.

Perhaps he has stopped watching the news.  That would be understandable, considering that the ripple effect of the US-British invasion of Iraq in 2003 continues to this day.   On Sunday, 281 people were killed in a bomb blast at a shopping mall in Baghdad, the capital.

When I heard the news I thought of the period between the two world wars, after the Treaty of Paris created Iraq and Syria out of the rubble of the Ottoman Empire.   I remember reading a couple of novels by Agatha Christie titled “Murder in Mesopotamia” and “They came to Baghdad.”   The novels were set in Iraq, which Dame Agatha knew well – she had lived there for a few years with her husband, Max Mallowan, the famed archaeologist.  They first met in the ancient city of Ur in 1928 and lived in Mosul on and off when they were married.   Their association with the country continued until 1963.   They discovered many artifacts from ancient Nimrud, most of which were looted by the Assyrians when they invaded Lebanon and Syria. Agatha Christie used her face cream to clean these treasures. During this period of time, Iraq was at peace and the people lived under a fairly liberal constitutional monarchy.   It all changed after a revolution in 1958.   58 years later, it continues to get worse. Thankfully, Dame Agatha died in 1976, three years before Saddam came to power.   She did not live to see the disaster the country has become.

Mr. Blair’s press conference followed the publication of the Iraq War Inquiry, a six-year project chaired by Sir John Chilcot.   The Chilcot Report was scathing in its criticism of Mr. Blair and his role in the war.   Amongst other things, he was criticized for so readily going to war alongside the Americans, when peaceful options had not been exhausted.   In a memo to President Bush, Mr. Blair wrote he was with him “whatever.”   179 British men and women were killed and hundreds injured.   The invasion, which began in March, 2003, brought to the surface the 1,400 year struggle between Sunnis and Shi’ites – a conflict seemingly without end.

Sir John Chilcot finally published the report of the Iraq War Inquiry on Wednesday.   I’m surprised it got so little attention in the US as there are implications for former President George W. Bush.   There are calls in the United Kingdom, following the publication of the report, for former Prime Minister Tony Blair to be prosecuted as a war criminal.   Demonstrators yesterday carried signs with Blair’s name spelt “Bliar!”

To be fair, both Bush and Blair were presented with faulty intelligence that showed Saddam Hussein had “weapons of mass destruction.”  This turned out not to be the case.   Mr. Blair said yesterday that if he was presented with the same evidence today, he would make the same decision.

What is utterly amazing is Mr. Blair’s claim that the world is a better place following the removal of Saddam.

One Iraqi in Baghdad, asked to comment on BBC World News following the report, said that if he had the opportunity he would tell Mr. Blair, to his face, that “he is a criminal – and I would spit in his face!”  No doubt, feelings about George W. Bush are the same.   The invasion of Iraq will negatively affect relations with the West for decades to come.   It has already led directly to the creation of ISIS and the growth of Al-Qaeda (which did not exist in Iraq prior to the war).   These two terrorist movements seriously imperil the West.

One contributory factor to the war was the naivety of the two western leaders, believing that the overthrow of Saddam and the “introduction” of democracy, would bring regional stability as democracy would spread and, as we all know, democracies do not go to war, a fallacy in itself!

Perhaps all this had to happen.   The Middle East is the epicenter of the final apocalyptic events found in both the Christian Bible and in Islam. Thanks to the invasion of Iraq, we now have a Shia arc that embraces Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.  Over 2,300 years ago, following the death of Alexander the Great, this was the territory of his general Seleucus, the “King of the North” we read about in Daniel 11.   Some of the area was taken over by Rome in the first century BC.

A revived King of the North plays a major role in end-time events.

The decision to invade Iraq triggered off so many inter-factional conflicts, it’s impossible for western leaders to begin to comprehend it all.   That alone is a very good reason why we should never have got involved in the first place.

Unfortunately, the damage has been done and we will all have to live with the consequences.

UP TO DATE ON ISLAM

Islamic History Month

On 9-11, I felt for sure that this would wake Americans up to the serious threat posed by Islam.

It didn’t.

The attacks came on a Tuesday.  Three days later, the liberal Establishment had put together an inter-religious memorial service at the National Cathedral.  Not an inter-denominational service, but an inter-religious service that included a Muslim imam, a Hindu priest, a Buddhist monk and a Jewish rabbi, as well as a Catholic priest.

I also remember reading, a few months later, that sales of the Koran had jumped significantly.   Printing presses could not keep up with demand.

So it should not have come as a surprise that, seven years later, the country elected its first president with a Muslim name and definite Muslim connections.

The Obama Administration is staffed by a number of Muslims. Valerie Jarrett, the president’s chief adviser, is a Shi’ite Muslim from Iran; the head of the CIA, John Brennan, converted to Islam while in Saudi Arabia.  There are others, too, in highly influential positions.   It’s no wonder they are panicked at the thought of Donald Trump and his promise to suspend Islamic immigration.

Now, another seven years later, the same president has just declared that March every year will be Muslim History Month. Millions of dollars will be frivolously added to the national debt to pay for it.   In the years to come, we will be hearing many lies, witnessing a re-write of American history, as Muslims did not contribute anything to America for the first 350 years (from 1607).

It should be noted that Muslim History Month follows Black History Month.   Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam, that came to prominence in the 1960’s, would never have believed that this could happen.   But it is happening, right before our eyes.   The media will now follow with programs to show just how it was Islam, not protestant Europeans, that gave birth to this land and made it the most prosperous country in the world.

Fifteen years after James Town, the English settlers had less of a presence on American soil than Muslims do today, less than 15 years after 9-11.

Is there any wonder Americans are flocking to Trump?

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Muslims continue to dominate the news in other parts of the world.

Saudi Arabia has announced the creation of a 34-nation alliance of Sunni Muslims to fight terrorism.   Before you jump for joy, keep in mind that ISIS and Al-Qaeda are also both Sunni Muslims, the latter staging 9/11.   Members were heavily influenced by the Wahabbi sect of Islam, which is the official state religion of Saudi Arabia. They are the most extreme form of Islam.   When mosques are built in western countries, they are often paid for by Saudi Arabia; after completion the country will generously send a Saudi Wahabbi Imam to the mosque to spread the faith.   They also provide imams to work as chaplains in American prisons.   These men work at converting prisoners and are paid by the Federal government.

When the Saudis were criticized for not taking in Muslim refugees during the mass migration to western Europe last summer, they “generously” declared that they would help by building 200 mosques in Germany, once again dispatching the imams needed.

And so we see the progressive spread of Islam into western democracies.   Instead of embracing freedom, they will spread their pernicious religion, which means “submission” or “surrender,” the exact opposite of what America was.

Our children and our grandchildren will never forgive us!

Some Christians get excited about all this, believing that the Saudi led alliance is the prophesied “king of the south,” mentioned in Daniel chapter 11.   Verses 40-44 show that immediately prior to Christ’s return, the “king of the south” pushes at the “king of the north” and the Holy Land gets invaded.

Let’s not be too hasty here to jump to conclusions.

Firstly, we should remember that the old “king of the south,” the Ptolemaic dynasty of ancient Egypt, did not include Saudi Arabia or most of the other nations in alliance with Riyadh.   The kingdom was ruled from Alexandria, the capital of ancient Egypt.   Egypt is home to roughly 50% of all Arabs.  Egypt is more likely to be the leader of the king of the south.

Saudi Arabia is still a prominent player in the Middle East. Another is Iran.  These two countries are involved in proxy wars in both Yemen and Syria.  Whereas the Saudis are mostly Sunni Muslims, the Iranians are Shi’ites.   The two sects of Islam hate each other with a passion.  You would have to go back to the Thirty Years War (1618 to 1648) to see anything comparable in the Christian world.

At least one church organization that emphasizes Bible prophecy has been claiming dogmatically for over twenty years that Iran is the King of the South.  This is not very likely when you consider that Iran (formerly Persia) was a part of the King of the North prior to the Christian era.   The biblical king of the North was ruled from Antioch to the north of Jerusalem.

The two powers, the kings of the south and of the north, both born out of the rubble of Alexander’s empire, regularly came to blows. Each time they did, Jerusalem, the epicenter of Bible prophecy, was negatively affected.

It is also highly unlikely that Shi’ite Iran will lead a Sunni alliance.

So, who are the “kings of the north” and of the “south”?

Maps give you a good idea.

The following maps are of the two powers about 200 years before Christ, a little over a century after the death of Alexander and the division of his empire.

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Now look at this contemporary map, showing the worlds of Shia and Sunni Islam.  The red shows Shia Islam which is basically the old King of the North plus territory to the east.  Blue shows Sunni Islam which includes the territory once ruled by the King of the South.

October 15, 2015 by Rodrigo Silva
October 15, 2015 by Rodrigo Silva

The West has been caught up in a growing Shia-Sunni conflict.   We can’t be blamed for the animosity itself, as it began in the seventh century AD, but we must bear some responsibility for the rapid acceleration toward a major war between the two.   Western intervention in Iraq 13 years ago led to the downfall of Sunni ruled Iraq and its replacement with Shia Iraq.  This has led to the development of an arc of Shia Islam, comprising Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran.

The Shi’ites are now dominated by Iran.   President Assad’s Syria is also led by Shi’ites, who also dominate Lebanon.   This could all have been avoided if we’d known what we were doing, but we didn’t, so now we see the threat of major war between the two branches of Islam.

We still talk about democracy, but liberal democracy is irrelevant in the Middle East.   Only Israel has a real democratic system.

This conflict is only going to get worse.

So, are Shia and Sunni Islam the kings of the north and south?

That’s certainly a possibility.  But, in 60 BC, the King of the North fell to the Roman Empire. 29 years later, so did the King of the South when Cleopatra killed herself.   After those two conquests, Judea and Samaria were also conquered by the Romans.

The two powers ceased to exist and are not mentioned again until “the time of the end.”   Why do they suddenly appear again?

Remember that prophecy revolves around Israel.   There was no Jewish nation from the time of the Roman Empire until it was restored in 1948.   The lengthy prophecy in Daniel 11 is not about the kings of the north and south, so much as their impact on the Jewish people.   Now that the Jewish people have been restored by God to their ancient homeland, any major threat to them from the North or South, or both, has once again become very relevant.

The principal threat right now is from Shia Islam. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has regularly warned the West about the threat from Iran.   Events in Syria could also affect Israel.  Shi’ite Hizbollah in Lebanon remains a constant threat.

As the US has turned against Israel, the country has been seeking closer working relationships with Sunni Islamic nations, like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. (I wrote about this recently in a blogpost.)

The Saudi alliance is looking at getting involved in Syria, ostensibly against ISIS, but likely more against Assad.   A Saudi-led intervention there would partially fulfill the prophecy about the King of the South pushing against the King of the North. But it could also be a side-war, another proxy war between the two branches of Islam.

So, again, let’s not get too excited.   A lot could still happen before we see the fulfillment of Daniel 11: 40-44.

“At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through.  He shall also enter the Glorious Land, and many countries shall be overthrown; but these shall escape from his hand: Edom, Moab, and the prominent people of Ammon.   He shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape.   He shall have power over the treasures of gold and silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt; also the Libyans and Ethiopians shall follow at his heels.”   But news from the east and the north shall trouble him; therefore he shall go out with great fury to destroy and annihilate many.

One thing is for sure and that is the need to watch the Middle East, as events there are often far more important than the events that get reported on our national news programs.