Volume XXX Issue IV April 2011
Last Trumpet Ministries, PO Box 806, Beaver Dam, WI 53916
Fax: 920-887-2626 Internet: http://www.lasttrumpetministries.org
Distress Of Nations In The Last Days!
"The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth."Isaiah 24:19-21
"And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened."Matthew 24:22
"And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh."Luke 21:25-28
In this issue of the Last Trumpet Newsletter, we will once again examine the current events of this modern age as we see astonishing events occurring all over the earth. While we watch many of the countries of the world erupt into chaos, it's becoming increasingly clear that we have never before seen days such as these. In the United States, there are high percentages of unemployment, massive amounts of debt, ever-rising food and fuel prices, a collapsed housing market, and increasing political hostility whilst proponents of competing conservative and liberal ideologies struggle for control over the nation. In Europe, several countries remain on the verge of bankruptcy and collapse as they line up to be bailed out by their neighbors with stronger economies. In the Middle East, protests have broken out in one nation after another as the people attempt to overthrow their reigning governments as the masses rage against high unemployment, food shortages, and other problems. In Asia, we have seen numerous earthquakes, including a horrifying earthquake and tsunami which struck Japan on March 11, 2011. Countries such as Iran and North Korea continue to issue threats against those they deem to be enemies while the rising nation of China continues its military buildup. We often hear of droughts in some countries and flooding in others. In Mexico, thousands upon thousands of people have been killed by drug cartels and gangs. Meanwhile, Australia continues to suffer from the effects of disastrous weather.
While the calamities we see engulfing the world seem shocking to most people, the Bible warned us long ago that the events we are seeing would come about in the last days. Our Lord Jesus described our time with dead-on pinpoint accuracy, insomuch that the Bible is more accurate than tomorrow's news headlines!
It is a sobering thought, but it's a sad and true fact, that thousands of people die every single day. While many people have difficulty believing that the world could actually end, the world ended, in a manner of speaking, for a multitude of people who were living in Japan in just one day. They are in eternity now, and tomorrow it could be us.
You and I and everyone else are all mortal human beings; yet it is easy and commonplace for us to forget just how fragile life is. None of us are promised tomorrow, but we do have the present. You at this very moment in time still have an opportunity to receive the salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ. I encourage all of you to examine your hearts and ensure that you are right with God. If there is sin in your life, repent and let it go. If you call upon the Lord right now; He will hear you, He will deliver you, and He will lead you through whatever trials, tribulations, and adversity you may face in the trying times we live in. For as the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 86:5, "For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee."
Unemployment And Government Manipulation!
If you have been following the news, you may have noticed that the media has been putting a positive spin on the economy lately. Economists have been giving optimistic statements, and the headlines in some cases are almost jubilant. Are things getting better? Is the recovery finally taking hold?
One thing I have noticed is that when one aspect of the economy seems to improve, other aspects seem to falter. It's also important to realize that the government and the media always like to massage the numbers to produce a more positive outlook even if it's not founded in reality. For example, we are now seeing stories in the media proclaiming that the unemployment rate is falling and jobs are now being created. What they don't like to tell us, however, is the fact that 49 percent of the jobs created over the last year are low-paying jobs found at such locations as retail shops and restaurants. By contrast, 40 percent of the jobs lost during the recession were higher-wage industry jobs, while only 14 percent of the jobs created over the last year fall into that category. (1)
The government also likes to manipulate the "official" unemployment rate. Whereas most people would simply define an unemployed person as someone who is not employed, the government defines a person as unemployed only if he or she is not working but actively seeking a job. Unfortunately, many Americans who have unsuccessfully sought employment for months or even years have now given up. The government does not consider these people "unemployed." In reality, the actual unemployment rate is always going to be significantly higher than the "official" government rate.
To make matters even more disheartening for those seeking employment, some companies are now refusing to hire people who do not currently hold a job. It is becoming increasingly common for job listings to include the disclaimer "unemployed applicants will not be considered" or "must be currently employed." (2)
Another startling statistic was recently brought to light in a report by CNBC. Government programs, such as Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment insurance, now account for over one-third of all wages and salaries amongst the U.S. population. This revelation was quite distressing to economist Madeline Schnapp who stated, "The U.S. economy has become alarmingly dependent on government stimulus. Consumption supported by wages and salaries is a much stronger foundation for economic growth than consumption based on social welfare benefits." (3) As we see more and more people becoming dependent on the government to survive, it is evident that the United States of America is not the prosperous nation it once was.
Volatile Fuel Prices And The Rising Cost Of Food!
While the United States continues to face problems such as high unemployment and an unstable housing market, these are not the extent of the issues facing Americans today. The cost of food and fuel has been soaring, and reports indicate these trends will continue for quite some time. Food prices are now at their highest levels in twenty years. (4) To make matters worse, the cost of many produce items in the United States spiked after the worst freeze in sixty years wiped out entire crops in northern Mexico and the southwestern states in the United States during the month of February 2011. (5) My father was always fond of the adage "Man plants and God grants." Considering the difficulties the United States and the rest of the world have been facing with food production, it would seem that God is not happy with mankind right now.
Gas prices in the United States have risen dramatically over the last month in the United States. In fact, over the span of my last three fuel purchases, I've seen the price of regular unleaded gasoline rise from $3.13 to $3.39 and finally to $3.49 per gallon. The price increases have been blamed on several factors, including unrest in the Middle East and competing demand for fuel from China. Unfortunately, as fuel costs rise, it causes a ripple effect in which the cost of goods and services rise too. So far, many businesses have been reluctant to raise their prices in any significant manner because the economy is still too weak. However, they may soon be left with no other recourse if the cost of fuel continues to increase, and that seems to be the most likely scenario according to many experts.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration, or EIA, estimates gasoline prices for 2011 will average about $3.56 per gallon, which would be an increase of 77 cents over the 2010 average. They also say there is a 25 percent chance that gasoline will exceed $4.00 this summer. Of course, the world is very volatile right now, and because of that there was a degree of uncertainty in the report. "Continuing unrest in Libya as well as other North African and Middle Eastern countries has led to highest crude prices since 2008. EIA expects continued tightening of world oil markets over the next two years, particularly in light of the recent events in North Africa and the Middle East, the world's largest oil producing region," the EIA report said. (6)
While some economists are predicting that gasoline prices will recede back to the $3.00 per gallon range, others are not as optimistic. "A supply crunch is coming. When it comes is difficult to predict, but at some point we are going back to where we were in 2008," said Kevin Norrish, a commodities analyst at Barclays in London. (7) Others are worried that if unrest should spread to Saudi Arabia or other major oil-producing nations, the price at the pump could exceed $7.00 per gallon. A trader from Hong Kong by the name of Selwyn Ortz stated, "If Saudi Arabia is subject to the same kind of demonstrations and riots that have taken place in Egypt and Libya, a $30 to $40-a-barrel increase, maybe $50, is very plausible. No one can say it can't happen because nobody knows, not in an era of revolutions. And if it does, $7 a gallon could be a low-ball forecast." (8)
America - Drowning In Debt!
According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, the White House is expecting the federal deficit for the current fiscal year to spike to 1.65 trillion dollars. (9) This is an unsustainable amount of debt. Yet, while there is much chatter amongst politicians over how to fix this problem, very little is actually being done to curtail government spending. If the ultimate goal was to waste as much money as possible, the government would be doing a fantastic job. For example, there are numerous redundant government agencies and programs that overlap in purpose and function. A report released in March 2011 by the Government Accountability Office, or GAO, indicates that there are fifteen different agencies overseeing food-safety laws, over twenty programs to help the homeless, eighty programs for economic development, eighty-two programs to improve teacher quality, eighty to help disadvantaged people with transportation, forty-seven for job training and employment, and fifty-six to help people understand finances. (10)
Sadly, we live in an era when national, state, and municipal debt in the United States is at its highest levels since World War II, and the amount of debt now exceeds the size of the entire economy. (11) As many states, counties, cities, and towns struggle over how to correct the situation, 760 of the nation's 3,142 counties are quietly fading away. Demographers refer to the problem as "natural decrease," which occurs when more people are dying than being born in a region. Kenneth Johnson, a sociology professor and demographer at the University of New Hampshire's Carsey Institute, was quoted as saying, "Natural decrease is an important but not widely appreciated demographic phenomenon that is reshaping our communities in both rural and urban cores of large metro areas. The downturn in the U.S. economy is only exacerbating the problem. In some cases, the only thing that can pull an area out is an influx of young Hispanic immigrants or new economic development." (12)
On the state level, budget deficits have become a very serious problem. In fact, the situation is so dire that some policymakers have called for the laws to be changed in a manner that would allow states to declare bankruptcy. (13) Here let it be noted that there are only four states in the United States of America claiming to be able to balance their budgets for the 2012 fiscal year. These states are North Dakota, Alaska, Arkansas, and Wyoming. Interestingly enough, the state of North Dakota has an unemployment rate of only 3.8 percent and a surplus of cash, according to the New York Times. (14)
Our day-to-day lives in this modern era of the twenty-first century can no longer function without debt. From the everyday consumer, such as you and I, to the cities and towns, to the state governments and the Federal government, there is debt as far as the eye can see. A report by the financial publication known as Main Street has revealed that approximately 4.4 trillion dollars of U.S. debt is now held by foreign governments. The rest of the debt, which totals nearly 10 trillion dollars, is held by private banks, according to the report. (15) The amount of debt in the United States which is held by Red China has now ballooned to 1.16 trillion dollars. (16)
Most people cannot even fully grasp how much a trillion is. To put things in perspective, one ambitious person actually did the math and presented a graphic representation of what a trillion dollars would look like. The project, which was posted online, determined that a trillion dollars in one-hundred dollar bills would be seven feet high and would cover about 2.2 acres of land. (17)
When I study the news and research the various factors affecting our economic system today, it becomes painfully clear that there is no hope for this system. Yes, the world is unfair. The economies of the world are based on unjust practices and controlled by evil men. Thankfully, we are the children of a gracious and loving God. I take great comfort in His promises, for I know that it is impossible for God to lie. He has promised that all of our needs will be met, and we will be taken care of as long as we seek His Kingdom first. As for those responsible for the corrupt systems in this world, they won't get away with their chicanery. In the end, every man and woman and child is subject to the judgment of God.
The Masses Under Surveillance!
We live in a world where much of the population is now watched and kept under surveillance every single day. Whereas previous generations held privacy in high regard, many people in this day and age are willing to sacrifice it if doing so benefits them in some way. For example, Google will spy on you as you perform searches online and then follow you all over the Internet and display ads based on your browsing history. Facebook also likes to track your activities on its website, and in some cases, it shares your personal sensitive information with third-parties. People allow these privacy intrusions because Google makes the Internet more convenient, and Facebook is addictive and fun. But the tracking of users Internet activity is really only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to privacy matters.
There are two schools in Anaheim, California, now using GPS devices to track students with a history of truancies. The devices are used to verify the location of the students, who are required to check in electronically five times per day. (18)
The Miami-Dade Police Department in Florida has purchased an unmanned aerial drone, similar to the ones used by the U.S. military, to hunt for Taliban bases in Afghanistan. The drone, which is known as a Micro Air Vehicle, or MAV, is radio-controlled, equipped with a camera system, and flies with the aid of small fans. (19)
Other types of drones are also in development by a southern California company known as AeroVironment. One of the drones in development, which they call the "Global Observer," can fly continuously for up to a week at an altitude anywhere from 55,000 to 65,000 feet. It is also claimed that the unmanned aircraft will be able to reach any point on earth within hours. (20) AeroVironment is also developing miniature drones disguised as hummingbirds and small insects. (21)
Progressive Insurance is now offering a discount in several states if you are willing to give up your privacy. Their new program is called "Snapshot," and insurance customers who sign up for the program are sent a palm-sized device that measures and records driving speed, braking, and the amount of time driven. The data is transmitted to Progressive in real-time, and if they determine through their surveillance that you have safe driving habits, you may be offered a discount up to 30 percent. In regards to the program, Chantelle Thompson, a manager at Mitchell Noel Insurance Agency in Ormond Beach, Florida, stated, "It might help the driving situation on interstates be more safe, because they know Big Brother is watching." (22)
As intrusive as "Big Brother" may be getting in the United States, the people of the United Kingdom may have it even worse. It has been reported that there are 1.85 million CCTV cameras in Britain, and that each person in the country is recorded on camera an average of seventy times per day. (23) While the United States does not have nearly as many cameras watching the streets, I am sure United States' government would love it if we did. According to a report by USA Today, Homeland Security spent millions of dollars on research for covert surveillance systems that could track pedestrians and check under their clothing with body scans without the people ever knowing it was happening. They also tested other systems designed to monitor and track individuals in a crowd. (24) Although Homeland Security claims they've dropped the research, there's no guarantee that they won't be revived in the future or that they're not working on other invasive projects.
More Blasphemy From Hollywood!
Despite the fact that a large portion of Hollywood's audience are people who profess Christianity, this has never prevented the makers of TV shows and movies from mocking God and those who follow Christ. In recent years, there have been such blasphemous films as "Saved!," "Religulous," and "The Invention of Lying." Now the ABC television network has recently announced plans to shoot a pilot for a television show tentatively called "Good Christian B------." (Dashes were used in place of an unprintable word.) According to the Hollywood Reporter, the program "follows a woman who moves back to her Dallas neighborhood after a divorce only to be become the center of salacious gossip from the community's churchgoing wives." (25)
Although it seems likely that the Disney-owned ABC network would change the title of the aforementioned program in the paragraph above if it should ever make it to the air, that wouldn't make the premise of the show any more acceptable in the eyes of God. This is just one more segment in a barrage of Hollywood blasphemy as they mock God while at the same time producing programming that puts homosexuality and abortion in a positive light. The executives, producers, directors, actors, and all those involved will have to answer to God someday. For as it says in Galatians 6:7, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."
Disruption, Unrest, And A New World Order!
As most of you probably know by now, these are incredibly tumultuous times in northern Africa and the Middle East. We have seen the people rise up in one nation after another starting first with Algeria, Tunisia, and Egypt. Unrest has since spread to Libya, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, and other countries. Thousands of people have died, and thousands more have been wounded throughout these regions of the world. The conflict in Libya has been especially bad with rebels fighting against the autocratic regime of Muammar Gaddafi in a conflict that has escalated beyond civil disobedience into something more like a civil war.
Meanwhile, some of the leaders in the Middle East are now referring to the uprisings as the beginning of a "new world order." A recent statement issued by the website of the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, reads as follows, "Currently, the formation of a new world order is of prime importance and it is upon the independent countries to prevent the same old oppressive order from insinuating itself in a new form." (26) Ibrahim Moussawi, the director of media relations for the Islamic militant group known as Hezbollah issued a similar statement, saying, "I believe a new regional world order is going to emerge and this is going to represent the will and determination of the people of the region, not the pro-American governments." (27)
For most of us, we are so far removed from the violence in the Middle East and other regions of the world, it can be easy to forget how real it all is. Sure, we can read about the conflicts in the newspaper or online and watch the news on television, but the ramifications of thousands of people dying often doesn't sink in. Yet, the recent protests in the American state of Wisconsin show us that such riotous behavior is not completely unthinkable in the United States. While the labor protests didn't result in any casualties, many death threats have been issued against at least eighteen Republican lawmakers since they passed an unpopular anti-union bill. (28) One threat issued to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Republican members of the Senate in the form of an anonymous email begins with the following statement, "I want to make this perfectly clear. Because of your actions today and in the past couple of weeks, I and the group of people that are working with me have decided that we've had enough. We feel that you and your republican (sic) dictators have to die." The threat also states an intent to shoot Republicans in the head and set off bombs in areas they frequent. (29)
The Earth Reeling To And Fro!
I have no doubt in my mind that we are living in the last days. One of the signs Jesus warned us to watch for is "earthquakes in divers places." We now live in a world where earthquakes occur every single day. Scientists tell us not to worry: earthquakes have always happened, and there is nothing out of the ordinary transpiring with all the quakes we are seeing on a daily basis. Meanwhile, the world continues to quake, and the intensity of the temblors only seems to be increasing. The world watched in shock and horror as an earthquake devastated the small nation of Haiti last year. A short time later, the South American nation of Chile was hit with an 8.8-magnitude quake.
On Friday, March 11, 2011, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake shook the nation of Japan. The massive earthquake then spawned a terrifying tsunami, which swept away boats, cars, homes and caused widespread fires to break out in the wake of its destruction. (30) As of this writing, the National Police Agency of Japan is reporting 5,692 people killed and another 9,522 missing. (31)
To make matters worse, Japan is facing the possibility of a meltdown at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The problem began when power outages caused the cooling systems of the power plant to fail, and the subsequent explosions, which followed as a result of the loss of power, caused some of the fuel rods to be destroyed. (32) The outcome of the nuclear crisis is yet to be determined as I write this, but a serious amount of radiation has already been released into the atmosphere. In response, U.S. officials have warned American citizens to consider leaving the stricken country of Japan. (33)
The earthquake which struck Japan was the fourth largest recorded since 1900. It was so powerful that it caused a rift below the sea floor 186 miles long and 93 miles wide. The force of the quake moved Japan 13 feet closer to North America, and it shifted the axis of the earth by 6.5 inches. As a result of the change in the axis of the earth, our days are now 1.6 microseconds shorter. It is interesting to note that the length of a day was also shortened in 2004 by the Sumatra quake and again last year when the 8.8-magitude earthquake struck Chile. (34) When I first heard that these quakes have literally been shortening our days, I couldn't help but think of the words of our Saviour who told us in Matthew 24:22, "And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened."
Sadly, the Japanese earthquake was not the only deadly rumbling we have seen in recent weeks. On February 21, 2011, a 6.3-magnitude tremor struck near Christchurch, New Zealand. (35) As of March 7, 2011, the body count from the quake is 166 with another 200 people still missing. (36) On March 10, 2011, an earthquake in China resulted in the death of 25 people, the injury of 250 more, and the displacement of more than 127,000. (37)
In closing, I know there is so much more that could be said about the times in which we live. We have seen many fearful sights, and many people are very afraid. Some people fear that the world may end in 2012. Others, especially in the scientific community, fear the earth is heading for a "mass extinction" if steps are not taken to save the environment. (38) Yet, despite all the trouble in the world, we have nothing to fear. If you should ever find that the cares of this life are bringing you down in worry, fear, and frustration, I urge you to remember the words of Jesus as recorded in John 14:1-3, "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."
Thank you to all who graciously support this ministry. As we move closer to the glorious return of our Saviour, we at Last Trumpet Ministries will work as hard as we can to keep you up-to-date on the latest current events in the United States and around the world. If you have any prayer requests, please do not hesitate to send them our way. Our intercessors will give each request individual attention, and carry your petition to the throne of the Almighty. Grace and peace be unto you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.Samuel David Meyer