Tag Archives: Old Testament

RANDOM THOUGHTS ON RECENT EVENTS

24-storey apartment building in London on fire

I stayed up late a week ago to watch the British election results, broadcast live on BBC World’s television channel.   It soon became clear that Theresa May’s ruling Conservatives were not doing well. Mrs. May had called an early election to strengthen her position prior to the start of Brexit talks with the European Union.   Her gamble failed – she now finds herself leading a party that does not control over 50% of parliament.   To stay in office, she has had to enter a coalition with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the pro-British faction from Northern Ireland.

This is already being misinterpreted by Sinn Fein, the anti-British, pro-republican faction from Northern Ireland; it could easily lead to further violence in the province.

There’s another threat to the coalition. Mrs. May also relies on the Scottish Conservatives, who did extremely well in the election, increasing their parliamentary representation from one to thirteen seats.  Their leader, Ruth Davidson, who is married to her female partner, is a fervent supporter of same-sex marriage; while the Northern Irish conservatives are socially very traditional.

It’s going to be interesting to see how this all works out.

At the very least, it has weakened the government at a crucial time, as negotiations begin on Monday, with the most efficient and uncompromising bureaucracy on the face of the earth – the European Union.

An additional threat comes from the opposition Labour Party.   A prominent voice in the party is calling for one million people to take to the streets to bring down Mrs. May.   Sound familiar?

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.”  (Mark 3:25.)

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EUROPEAN LEADERS CHILDLESS

Talking of Europe, note the following, sent by a friend in New Zealand:

• Emmanuel Macron, the newly elected French president, has no             children.
•  German chancellor Angela Merkel has no children.
•  British prime minister Theresa May has no children.
•  Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni has no children.
•  Holland’s Mark Rutte, has no children.
•  Sweden’s Stefan Löfven, has no children.
•  Luxembourg’s Xavier Bettel, has no children.
•  Scotland’s Nicola Sturgeon has no children.
•  Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, has        no children.

So a grossly disproportionate number of the people making decisions about Europe’s future have no direct personal stake in that future.

Additionally, in the last few days, the Irish Republic has a new prime minister.   He also has no children.  The press has been full of the fact that he is the youngest prime minister ever.   He is also half-Indian and gay, neither of which is an issue.   (Serbia’s new prime minister is also gay, as is Luxembourg’s PM.)

At the very least, all the above are thinking short-term, wanting to win the next election.   When Europe was dominated by kings, at the very least the leaders wanted to preserve their thrones for their descendants;  this also meant ensuring the continuation of the nation-state.   Both of these factors no longer apply.

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THE RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS

Talking of kings, King Henry II got a mention in the US Congress a week ago.   Henry died long before the United States ever existed as a nation – even before America was “discovered” by Christopher Columbus.   He reigned from 1154-1189.

Note the following from Vanity Fair:

“The James Comey hearing has officially gone medieval.   A little less than two hours into the former FBI director’s highly watched testimony, Comey dropped a reference to Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury who was killed at the casual request of King Henry II in the year 1170.   The reference popped up when Senator Angus King was questioning Comey, asking him about Donald Trump’s seemingly casual but firm request to have Comey drop the FBI’s Michael Flynn investigation.  Though Trump did not demand outright that Comey drop the investigation, even his slightest requests come with an air of seriousness, King suggested.

“Do you take that as a directive?” King asked Comey of Trump’s question.

“Yes, yes,” Comey replied.   “It rings in my ears as kind of ‘Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?’”

Henry II was a very significant monarch.   James Comey learned a lesson from his reign.   Today’s British people, who have experienced three terrorist attacks in less than three months, could learn something else.   Note the following:

“Henry II, who is considered the father of the common law, promulgated the Assize of Arms in 1181. This required all (male) British citizens between 15 and 40 to purchase and keep arms.   The type of arms required varied with wealth; the wealthiest had to provide themselves with full armor, sword, dagger, and war horse, while even the poorest citizens, “the whole community of freemen,” must have leather armor, helmet and a lance.   Twice a year all citizens were to be inspected by the king’s officials to insure that they possessed the necessary arms.   Conversely, the English made it quite clear that the king was to be expected to depend exclusively upon his armed freemen.   When rebellious barons forced John I to sign the Magna Carta in 1215, they inserted in its prohibitions a requirement that he “expel from the kingdom all foreign knights, crossbowmen, sergeants, and mercenaries, who have come with horses and weapons to the harm of the realm.” (Historical Basis of the Right to keep and bear arms, by David P. Hardy, 1982)

During the recent terror attacks in England, on each occasion, one armed citizen could have made a significant difference and saved lives.  Medieval monarchs were very concerned that the people should be able to defend themselves against the French; today, the threat is Islamic extremists, but the principle remains the same.

Also note, in the quote above, that Henry’s second son, John, one of the worst monarchs in English history, was required by the people to “expel from the kingdom all foreign knights, crossbowmen, sergeants and mercenaries, who have come with horses and weapons to the harm of the realm.”

No prizes for guessing who should be expelled today!

It should be noted that King Henry did not introduce the right to bear arms; he simply restored an ancient right that went back to at least the reign of Alfred the Great, in the 9th century.  The Vikings were one of the problems at that time.  The threat changes, but a threat is always there.

With this in mind, I found the following interesting while studying this morning:   “The story of David and Goliath is helpful since “five smooth stones” and a “sling” are the closest equivalent to a handgun we can find in the Bible.   David seems to have been armed with his sling at all times.   There was no way he could run home to get his sling when a lion or a bear was about to attack his flock.   (1 Sam. 17:31-37, 41-54)

It’s possible that Jesus had the Old Testament case law in mind when He offered this injunction to His disciples:   “But be sure of this, if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into.”   (Matt 24:43) (“Jesus, Guns and Self-defence – what does the Bible say?”)

Christians should, of course, strive to live peaceably with all men. (Romans 12:18)   Jesus Christ said: “Blessed are the peacemakers.” (Matt 5:9)   He also told us to “turn the other cheek.”  (vs. 38-39)

With terrorism, we are dealing with a totally different mind-set from Jesus Christ, a religious belief system that encourages and celebrates killing en masse.   People have to be able to defend themselves. King Henry understood this.   Today’s leaders in countries like the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada need to address the issue, enabling people to defend themselves from acts of barbarism.   In contrast, Australia has just announced an amnesty calling on citizens to hand over illegal weapons.

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THE GREAT FIRE OF LONDON, 2017

The tragic apartment block fire in London dominated the news on Wednesday.   30 deaths have been confirmed, but scores of people are still missing.   There were also over sixty injured.   What started the fire is not known at this time, but a material used in construction appears to have helped the fire to quickly spread.   The Daily Express said Thursday that EU environmental directives could be the cause.

Most of the people in the apartment block seemed to have been from other countries in Africa and Asia.   Looking at the high-rise (24-storey) block of flats, as they are called in England, I wondered why people would leave their own countries to live in such an awful place.

My wife and I have spent many happy days in African villages.   I can truthfully say that I would rather live in one of those than in a high-rise apartment block in London, or any other major city.   Isaiah 5:8 warns against living too close to each other.   “Woe unto them that join house to house.”

What attracts people to move to the West varies for each individual. One of the established reasons in the UK is the generous welfare benefits.   Perhaps some of that money could be diverted to African villages to bring water and electricity to communities to improve their quality of life.   Together with the abolition of welfare for new arrivals, this would go some way to help solve the immigration crisis.

On BBC World this morning, interviews with survivors of the fire revealed a lot of understandable anger.   It’s also clear that many have an “entitlement mentality,” demanding that the government re-house them immediately, claiming that hotels are not good enough; they also dismissed Theresa May’s call for an independent inquiry – they want those responsible punished NOW.

Since writing the above, some residents and neighbors have stormed the local town hall, chanting their demands, blaming the fire on the Conservative government.   There was no logic – just a mob mentality. Scary and a sign of things to come. 


 

ISLAMIC EXTREMISTS

  • At the moment, the bar for taking extremists out of circulation is set ridiculously high.   People known for their own extremism that reaches pre-terrorist levels should not be walking the streets when they have expressed support for Islamic State (ISIS) or tried to head to Syria or called for the destruction of Britain and other democracies or allied themselves to people already in prison. Their demand for free speech or freedom of belief must never be elevated above the rights of citizens to live safely in their own towns and cities.   It is essential for parliament to lower the bar.
  • Is this to be the political landscape for the future, where groups of people demanding death and destruction are given the freedom of the streets whilst those wishing to hold a peaceful celebration are prevented from doing so?
  • To see extremist Islam as a “perversion” of Islam misses an important point.   The politically correct insistence that radical versions of Islam somehow pervert an essentially peaceful and tolerant faith forces policy-makers and legislators, church leaders, rabbis, interfaith workers and the public at large to leave to one side an important reality.   Flatly, Islam in its original and classic forms has everything to do with today’s radicals and the violence they commit.   The Qur’an is explicit in its hatred for pagans, Jews and Christians.   It calls for the fighting of holy war (jihad) to conquer the non-Muslim world, subdue it, and gradually bring it into the fold of Islam. Islam has been at war with Europe since the seventh century.

(“No tolerance for extremism, “ by Denis McMacEion, Gatestone Institute, 6/16).

 

HUBRIS WILL NOT DEFEAT THE ENEMY

Bill de Blasio                             Mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio

Yesterday (Monday) I read an article, which stated with great certainty that the US has been better at assimilating Muslims than European countries.   I also read a separate article in USA Today, which quoted the Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, claiming that “New York City has the strongest, most agile, best-trained first responders in the world.   They’re ready to protect us.”

These are just the latest examples of hubris, which is defined as “excessive pride, or self-confidence, arrogance.”

When it comes to assimilation, I am reminded of a conversation I witnessed on British television one Sunday morning a few years ago. People of African descent who had lived in both the United Kingdom and the United States were discussing this very issue.   All the participants said they felt more comfortable and more assimilated in the UK than the US.

This may or may not be true of Muslims.   My concern here is that Americans should be very careful in making such assumptions, that we cannot say for sure and that, really, it doesn’t make any difference.   We are just as threatened by Islamic terrorism as the Europeans.   Whether the US responders do a better job remains to be seen.   FWIW, France (and Canada) are the two countries that top the World Health Organization’s list of best medical systems.   The US ranks at #37.   When it comes to saving lives, Paris is one of the best places to be.

When it comes to fighting ISIS, there’s a great deal of hubris right now.   Once again, the entertainment industry is partly to blame – it’s not just James Bond that defeats the world’s greatest evils; Americans have been doing it for decades.

Or, have we?

More than fourteen years after 9-11, Al-Qaeda is still killing people.   The hotel attack in Bamako was perpetrated by an al-Qaeda affiliate.

The US has been in Afghanistan for the same length of time (longer than the Russians were there) and there is no end in sight.   In fact, the situation is worse in that ISIS now operates there, along with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

Iraq continues with daily conflict.   The immediate goal of overthrowing Saddam Hussein  was achieved by the western coalition, but the resultant mess just goes on and on.   The Iraqi conflict gave birth to ISIS, another problem that seems likely to go on and on.   And, if they are ever defeated, there will be other Islamic extremists to replace them.

Proverbs 16:18 says that:   “Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before a fall.”

I quoted Niall Ferguson a few days ago.   He showed the similarities between what is happening now and what happened to the Roman Empire in its last days – the barbarians are at the gates.   Indeed, they are within the gates thanks to the West having the most myopic immigration policies in the history of mankind.

The West has lived through a period that might be called the Pax Americana, a peace guaranteed by the United States since the end of World War II.

But the US has not had a decisive victory since World War II, when the global conflict was won by the three great powers, the British Empire (which fought the war from 1939-1945), the Soviet Union (which was forced into war six months before the US) and the United States.   The US could not have done it alone.

Korea ended up a stalemate, a burden still carried on the backs of the US tax-payer.   Vietnam was lost.   At the time, there was plenty of hubris.   Who would have thought, in 1965, that the US could lose to North Vietnam?

The next major conflict was the Persian Gulf War in 1990-91.   The immediate goal of driving Iraq out of Kuwait was achieved, but Saddam lived to fight another day, literally.   And, as I said, the mess goes on and on.

Americans are fond of saying that the US military is the best in the world and that the country spends ten times as much on its military as the next biggest spender.   That may be true, but it’s misleading.   In World War II, for every US soldier actually fighting, there were 60 people employed in support roles; for the British it was 45 to 1; for the Germans, 20 to 1.   Efficiency varies.

Additionally, US military personnel are paid more than those of other countries, so the dollar amount spent is not saying much.

Besides, the greatest threat now is Islamic terrorism, not a professional national army.   The “armies” that brought down Rome were barbaric, wild tribes, the Huns, the Vandals and, ultimately, the Arabs.   We’re faced with a similar enemy, but making it worse, our enemy is also “within.”   Let’s remember, the Babylonian Empire fell because two men betrayed it!   It only took two men to bring down the greatest empire in the world at that time.

The analogy with Babylon is apt in another way, too.   Babylon’s period of ascendancy lasted a little over seventy years, from the defeat of Assyria in 612 BC to its own defeat at the hands of the Persians in 539.   Super powers have great difficulty maintaining dominance over a longer period.   The Romans and the British were two exceptions, but countries simply burn out after 70 years.   The US is burning out, showing great reluctance to take on the growing threats to its own dominance.

It’s predecessor as global superpower number one was Great Britain.   Britain simply went broke.   The US is similarly broke, with a national debt of roughly 20 trillion dollars.   How much longer can the country lead the fight against anything?  ISIS is the wealthiest terror group ever, while the US is now penny pinching.

There’s a third lesson, too, from ancient Assyria and Babylon.   The former invaded the ten tribes of Israel, taking the people away as slaves.   The latter, Babylon, more than a century later, conquered the Jews and took them as slaves to Babylon.   The Old Testament prophets show that these nations were conquered because of their sins.

In a statement after the Paris terror attacks, ISIS said it attacked Paris because it’s a “sinful city, full of perversions.”   This does not mean that ISIS is made up of righteous people, any more than ancient Assyria or Babylon were.   But it does mean that many Muslims, appalled at the liberal values of the West, will naturally flock to ISIS.

In this sense, our own permissiveness works against us and is contributing to the violent acts being perpetrated by the terrorists.

But people in the West have hardened their hearts when it comes to God.   When the Church of England prepared a cinema ad promoting the Lord’s prayer, cinemas refused to show it; when the hashtag “#pray for Paris” appeared on Twitter following the Paris attacks, one French publication told people supporting the sentiment that their prayers were not welcome; that France doesn’t want religion!

Some asked where was God when Paris was attacked?   The answer can be found in Isaiah 59:2.   “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.”  Isaiah was preaching to a nation that had known God, but rejected Him.

There are similarities with the western world of today.   We should avoid hubris, clean up our act, and turn to the true God if we are to have any hope of defeating Islamic extremism.

 

LIES, FALSEHOODS AND MISTAKES

Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem
Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem

The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem claimed on Sunday that there was never a Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount.   He went so far as to claim that the “Al-Aqsa mosque was an Islamic mosque since the world was created . . . It was never anything other than a mosque.”

The Grand Mufti is the senior Islamic cleric in charge of Islamic holy places, including the al-Aqsa mosque.

A predecessor of his has also been in the news recently.   The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seemed to blame Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti at the time of World War II, for the Holocaust.   Al-Husseini fled to Germany in 1941 and met with Adolf Hitler, Heinrich Himmler, Joachim Von Ribbentrop and other Nazi leaders.   He wanted to persuade them to extend the Nazis’ anti-Jewish program to the Arab world.   The implication in what Netanyahu said is that Hitler simply wanted to expel the Jews (to Palestine), but the Grand Mufti said they should be destroyed.

However, the German government issued a statement claiming full responsibility for the Holocaust, although it’s good to remember that Adolf Hitler was an Austrian.

Anyway, over seventy years later, the Muslim leader of Jerusalem, having learned nothing from history, is claiming the Jews have no historical rights to Jerusalem or anything else in Palestine.

As it happens, I’ve been studying the Old Testament prophetic books of Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.   These three men prophesied to the Jews in the post-exilic period.   The Jews, you will remember, were taken into captivity by Babylon’s King Nebuchadnezzar at the end of the seventh century BC and remained there for seventy years.

In 539 BC, Babylon fell to the Persians, who let those who wanted to, return to the Promised Land.   There, they helped rebuild the 500-year-old Temple of Solomon.

Haggai was very precise in his writings. In chapter 1, verse 1, he writes “In the second year of King Darius, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month……”   Bible commentaries and marginal notes will tell you the exact day this was written, in our Roman calendar.   It was August 29th, 520 BC.

In the second chapter, again he was very exact.  ”In the seventh month, on the twenty-first of the month, the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet…”   This equates to October 17th of the same year, 520 BC.   Haggai then asks the “remnant of the people” (those who had returned from captivity):   “Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory?”   It is thought that Haggai himself remembered the temple prior to its partial destruction by Nebuchandnezzar’s conquering army.   He now appealed to the people to help rebuild it.

None of the above is likely to convince the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem that there was a Jewish Temple centuries ago.

However, it should be pointed out to him that, amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls found shortly after World War II, were fragments of Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.   All were dated from the second and first centuries Before Christ.

Islam did not come on the scene until the seventh century After Christ (A.D.)   Arabs took control of Jerusalem in 638 and built the Al-Aqsa Mosque in 705.

The claim that the Al-Aqsa mosque has been there since creation is ridiculous.   It’s also political – the real aim here is to “prove” the Jews have no historical claim to Jerusalem!

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It’s just been announced that Paul Ryan is to be the next Speaker of the House.   Except for one, all eight of the last speakers have been Catholics.   One, Newt Gingrich, converted to Catholicism after his period in office.   Mr. Ryan, aged 45 and the youngest speaker since 1869, takes his religion seriously – before accepting his new office, he wanted a commitment that his new responsibilities would not interfere with his family time.   He goes home every weekend to spend time with the family and to attend church.   He will be sworn in using his personal copy of the New American Standard Bible, which he reportedly uses at weekly Bible studies.   Others should follow his example! (see below)

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“If the public were paying attention, they probably wouldn’t care if Hillary Clinton lied about Benghazi or her emails.   The bar for honesty among politicians is so low that it is no longer news when politicians lie, only when they tell the truth.”  (“Clinton escapes again – with help of committee.”   Cal Thomas, Lansing State Journal, October 30th.)

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CNN International broadcasts “International Desk” every weekday from 10am Eastern time.   The program comes out of London.   Today’s anchorwoman twice referred to problems on the Slovenia-Australian border.   Who moved?  Slovenia or Australia?   The two mistakes were made either side of a commercial break.  You would think that somebody at CNN would have noticed the mistake and told her before she came back on air.   I can only conclude that nobody at CNN actually watches the channel.   This, of course, could be a very good thing!

Meanwhile, millions of people around the world are left unaware that there is a major problem involving refugees on the border of Slovenia and Austria!

CLUELESS CANADIANS . . . AND EVERYBODY ELSE

Canadian election day

In case you haven’t noticed, there’s an election going on – in Canada!

Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper called the election a couple of weeks ago, allowing 78 days of campaigning before the general election.   Many Canadians are not happy about the grueling eleven weeks of electioneering.  Normally, an election is held 35 days after being called.  They should try living in America – here, 78 days would seem merciful!

As with all elections, there are many issues to be discussed.   But one is national security and here the three main parties are very different.  Canada has already been attacked by al-Qaeda operatives and those inspired by ISIS – there was a threat to behead Mr. Harper himself, then last year an attack on parliament in Ottawa.   A Canadian soldier at the War Memorial in Ottawa was killed.   A few days earlier, two members of the Canadian Armed Forces were deliberately hit by a vehicle in Quebec, causing the death of one.

So, it’s not unsurprising that Mr. Harper takes national security seriously.  Even without these incidents, he might have done anyway, as he had already boosted the armed forces and committed Canada to further involvement in the wars on terror.

Sadly, the other two party leaders are clueless on this issue.

Tarek Fatah of the Middle East Forum wrote an article in the Toronto Sun August 11th, titled “Why Canada’s Left has lost my vote.”   Accompanying the article was a photo of New Democratic Party leader Thomas Mulcair.   His socialist party is now the main opposition party to the currently ruling Conservative party.   Mr. Mulcair believes that the war against ISIS “is not our fight.”

“This political cowardice within the Left, camouflaged in a burka of anti-war rhetoric, is visible right here in Canada.   Both New Democratic Party (NDP) Leader Thomas Mulcair and Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau have demonstrated the symptoms of appeasement,” writes Mr. Fatah, who is a Muslim.

In a televised debate, Mr. Mulcair also remarked that:  “(W)e know that a lot of the horrors that we are seeing are the direct result of the last misguided war (U.S invasion of Iraq).”

Fatah adds:  “Mr. Mulcair thinks it is America’s fault that ISIS beheads fellow Muslims, pushes homosexuals off roofs and enslaves women.”

In rejecting the idea that everything going on is America’s fault, Mr. Fatah’s most telling comment is follows:  “Nonsense, jihadis have been doing this since the dawn of Islam.”

The Liberals, in recent decades the dominant party in Canada, are also clearly out of touch with contemporary reality.   “As for that other man seeking to replace Stephen Harper, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s positions on Canada’s and the West’s national security reflect his fear of offending Islamofascists.

“When CBC’s Terry Milewski asked Trudeau, “If you don’t want to bomb a group as ghastly as ISIS, when would you ever support real military action?” Trudeau’s response was shocking. “That’s a nonsensical question,” he retorted.”

It seems that only Mr. Harper lives in the real world.

However, this does not mean his party will win the election.  The electorate throughout the western world is just as clueless as most Canadians.   It seems unlikely to change.

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In the neighboring land of never-ending elections, the term “War on Women” is not being applied to ISIS, but rather to the Republicans, whose leading candidate Donald Trump has made some very unwise and tactless comments on the female sex.   Conservative columnist Cal Thomas had this to say in today’s Lansing State Journal:

“The real war on women is an economy that has left a record 93 million people out of the labor force; 56 million of these non-workers are women, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“The war on women is also about the 56 million aborted babies who will never have a chance at life thanks to the lies Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers tell women about their babies.”

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The war on women continues to be vigorously pursued by ISIS.   Rape has become a recruiting tool.   It’s not surprising that ISIS keeps growing.

Meanwhile, from the UK comes the following report, sent to me by one of my brothers:

“Religious sectarianism is on the rise in Britain’s Muslim community and threatens to spill over into violent crime and terrorism, leading clerics warned yesterday.   An investigation by The Times has found a sharp but largely hidden rise in sectarian tensions between the minority Shia community and the dominant Sunni groups, driven by the long, bitter war in Syria.  Ill-feeling is being stoked by vitriolic preachers on both sides of the divide — including some who lecture at British universities — and incidents such as assaults, attacks on buildings and intimidation online.   Sayed Ammar Nakshwani, one of the world’s leading Shia clerics, revealed that he recently left Britain for the United States after enduring years of intimidation from hardline Sunnis who allegedly threatened his life, followed his parents and vandalised his car.”

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USA Today disclosed yesterday that there are 12,800 transgendered people serving in the US military.   Their treatment costs $5.6 million a year.   The number really surprised me.

This is clearly the age of sexual confusion, most probably the result of the breakdown of the family.

It brings to mind the last words in the Old Testament:

“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet
Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.
And he will turn
The hearts of the fathers to the children,
And the hearts of the children to their fathers,
Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”  (Malachi 4:5-6)

A father’s role is so important in the raising of children. Yet so many are not involved in the lives of their boys and girls.

I would like to think that we are close to the return of Jesus Christ. Certainly, world conditions, particularly in the Middle East, indicate this is the case.   However, I do not believe these two verses have been fulfilled yet – and that must come first.

Any thoughts?

(A big thank-you to those who have contributed to the costs of my blog in recent weeks. I really appreciate the support.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NETANYAHU’S ADDRESS HIGHLIGHTS DIVISIONS OVER ISLAMIC MILITANTS

Netanyahu

Prior to 9/11, most Americans were barely aware of the religion of Islam.

In the short time since that tragic day, Islam has established its presence in the country with mosques and schools in every sizeable community.   The president of the United States has even said that the country was founded on Judeo-Christian-Islamic principles.

One thing the religion has done is divide the country and other nations where there has been widespread immigration from Muslim lands, mostly in the Middle East.

At no time has that division been greater than now.

In France, it was the Charlie Hebdo killings that caused the division, between those on the right of the political spectrum who want an end to Islamization and the immigrants themselves, supported by those on the left who side with them.

In Germany, there is PEGIDA staging weekly demonstrations against the Islamization of Europe.   Critical of PEGIDA are the established political parties who bend over backwards to assure Muslims that there is a place for them in their societies.

Now division has come to the United States with the visit of the Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu.

Some would say the division is over Israel.   But the divide is also over how best to handle militant Islam.

The gulf between the two became clearer today when the Prime Minister addressed the US Congress in Washington.

The invitation to speak came from the Speaker of the House, John Boehner. The White House made it clear that it was opposed to Netanyahu speaking, claiming it was a breach of protocol so close to the Israel election.

Although most Democrats did listen to the speech, Nancy Pelosi, former Speaker of the House, was very critical almost immediately afterwards, claiming she was “near tears” throughout the speech and “saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States.” She was reportedly visibly agitated while Mr. Netanyahu was speaking.

The subject of the speech was Iran and the imminent deal between western allies with the Iranian regime over its nuclear program.   The deadline for this agreement is March 31st.   Mr. Netanyahu believes that the impending agreement will make it more likely that Iran will develop nuclear weapons – and soon.

The division is clear – and not just over Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.

The division is between those who see a serious threat from militant Islam and those who are in denial.   Iran is not the only threat but it was the focus of the prime minister’s address.   Iran with a nuclear weapon could annihilate Israel, a small country and near neighbor.   Indeed, Iran has threatened to annihilate “the world’s only Jewish state.”

The prime minister reminded his audience of the story of Esther, the Jewish queen married to a Persian king in the fifth century BC.   The Persian king at the time wanted to annihilate the Jews, just as today’s Iranian leadership does.   Tomorrow (Wednesday, March 4th) is the Feast of Purim, which commemorates the delivery of the Jews from total disaster.

More recently, the leader of Hezbollah, Iran’s chief terrorist proxy said:  “If all the Jews gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of chasing them down all over the world.”

Although Iran is not an Arab country and has traditionally been isolated as the only major Shi’ite Islamic nation, today it dominates four Arab capitals, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sana’a.   Mr. Netanyahu referenced Iran’s support against Sunni Islamic ISIS, claiming that their support against ISIS does not make them a friend of America.   It’s a case of “the enemy of your enemy is your enemy!”

“Both ISIS and Iran want to impose a militant Islamic empire,” he warned.

“The greatest danger facing our world is the marriage of militant Islam and nuclear weapons.”   This clearly would change everything in the Middle East and the wider world beyond.

Mr. Netanyahu’s address was impassioned.   We have not heard such a powerful speech from a politician in many years.   It is particularly impressive when we consider that English is not his first language.   Mr. Netanyahu and former British statesman Sir Winston Churchill are the only two world leaders who have addressed Congress on three occasions.   Following the speech, Netanyahu was compared on at least two news channels to Churchill, who spent the 1930’s warning of the impending threat from the Nazis, as Netanyahu warns of the increasing threat from militant Islam.   If the world had heeded Churchill, the Holocaust would not have happened. If the world listens to Netanyahu, a future holocaust may be averted.

Students of the Bible know that Jerusalem, Israel’s “eternal capital” will be the focus of major conflict in the near future.

The Old Testament prophet Zechariah, writing about events leading up to the Second Coming of the Messiah, prophesied that Jerusalem and Judah (Israel) will be at the center of the final conflict to confront mankind.

“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.”  (Zech 12:2-3.)

Zechariah 14:2 adds:   “For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem.”

Centuries later, Jesus Christ, answering a question about the “signs of His Coming,” said:   “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near.”

Mr. Netanyahu was right when he pointed out that “we share a common destiny.”   What happens over there will affect us over here – and all countries in between.

The day before he addressed the US Congress, Mr. Netanyahu spoke to AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), one of the most powerful lobby groups in the United States.   He said then that, whereas the President of the United States spends every day thinking about America’s security, as Israel’s prime minister, he spends every day thinking of Israel’s survival.

In that one sentence, he encapsulated the difference between the leaders of the two nations.   At the present time, militant Islam is a matter of national security to the United States.  If Mr. Netanyahu’s warning is not taken seriously, it could soon become a matter of national survival, as it is in Israel.

DEBT, DEBT AND MORE DEBT

debt

I heard a few days ago that there are twice as many Cash Advance outlets as Starbucks in the US.

Now, there are plenty of Starbucks stores around.   In fact, it seems that they are on every third or fourth block but, apparently, there are twice as many places lending people money at exorbitant rates of interest.

It shows that an increasing number of people are desperate.

When they have to pay a bill or borrow cash to buy a birthday gift for a loved one, they need to borrow the money.   They have no savings, no bank account and no credit card.   Sometimes they are simply maxed out, having borrowed and borrowed until they cannot borrow any more.

Borrowing from cash advance places does not improve a person’s financial condition in the long term.   The APR can be a staggeringly high 1800%, depending on how quickly the money is paid back. Sadly, most of those borrowing from such places have little understanding of how to handle money.

With this in mind, it’s encouraging to note that Croatia has become the first country in modern times to cancel the debts of its 60,000 poorest citizens.

When you think about it, this may be a quick and effective way of getting an economy moving again, assuming the 60,000 can be taught how to live within their means.   Further borrowing would only repeat a negative cycle.

Debt cancelation is not something new.   You can see evidence of it in the Old Testament.   Leviticus, chapter 25, commanded the cancellation of all debts every fifty years.   It was known as the Year of Jubilee and began on the Day of Atonement at the beginning of the 50th year.

Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants.   It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan.”  (verse 10)

In addition to what we read of ancient Israel, the Babylonians had a similar system of debt cancelation.

It’s arguably the best way to get western economies moving again.

At a higher level, it could even be applied to countries like Greece, who are overwhelmed with debt.   The problem, though, is that Greece has been guilty of reckless over-spending and does nothing about corruption.   These would have to be dealt with at the same time as canceling debt obligations.

But canceling debts may be the only way out of the fiscal mess the West is in.