Volume XXXIII Issue VII July 2014
Last Trumpet Ministries, PO Box 806, Beaver Dam, WI 53916
Fax: 920-887-2626 Internet: http://www.lasttrumpetministries.org
The Elusive Nature Of Peace In This Modern Age!
“They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the Lord. Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.”Jeremiah 6:14-16
“For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.”I Thessalonians 5:3-6
“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”John 14:27
In this issue of the Last Trumpet Newsletter, we will examine the recent chaotic events of our day which indicate that we are now living in a world which has been engulfed in corruption, confusion, and sin. It has always firmly been my belief that we, as Christian people, should embrace the truth despite the fact that at times the realities of this present world can be very unpleasant. Yet, there is great freedom in knowing the truth, for as Jesus told us in John 8:32, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” When we have the truth, we are firmly grounded in reality and God’s Spirit gives us the ability to discern the condition of our world and the direction it is heading in this modern age.
For those who dare to take an honest look at the present condition of this world, it is undeniable that the circumstances for the earth’s population at large are not improving. However, prominent figures, such as American President Barack Obama, would like us to believe that the world is becoming a better place each and every day. At a recent event which was held at the White House, Obama declared the following: “The truth of the matter is that for all the challenges we face, all the problems that we have, if you had to be – if you had to choose any moment to be born in human history, not knowing what your position was going to be, who you were going to be, you’d choose this time. The world is less violent than it has ever been. It is healthier than it has ever been. It is more tolerant than it has ever been. It is better fed than it’s ever been. It is more educated than it’s ever been.” (1) Are Obama’s assertions true? Is the world today really less violent than it has ever been? As we carefully examine the facts in this newsletter, I believe you will find that reality paints a far different picture than Barack Obama does.
Turmoil And Instability In Iraq!
The nation of Iraq has long been a volatile region of the world. This Middle Eastern country, which also played a pivotal role in Biblical history when it was known as the Babylonian Empire, has grown particularly unstable since the start of the Iraq War which began in 2003. At the time, former American President George W. Bush pledged to transform Iraq into a flourishing democracy; however, recent events indicate that the war-torn country is now facing what could soon become a brutal and bloody civil war. In May 2003 President Bush declared the following in a speech: “The transition from dictatorship to democracy will take time, but it is worth every effort. Our coalition will stay until our work is done and then we will leave and we will leave behind a free Iraq.” (2) Between the years of 2003 and 2011, nearly 4,500 American troops lost their lives, and almost one trillion dollars were spent in an attempt to establish a so-called “free Iraq.” (3) In 2011, Barack Obama withdrew the remaining American troops from Iraq and declared that the war was over. “It’s harder to end a war than begin one. Indeed, everything that American troops have done in Iraq – all the fighting and all the dying, the bleeding and the building, and the training and the partnering – all of it has led to this moment of success. Now, Iraq is not a perfect place. It has many challenges ahead. But we’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people. We’re building a new partnership between our nations. And we are ending a war not with a final battle, but with a final march toward home. This is an extraordinary achievement, nearly nine years in the making,” Obama declared. (4)
Since the withdrawal of American troops in 2011, a radical Islamic group, known as the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, has been wreaking havoc on Iraq and destabilizing the region. As of this writing, the group, which is sometimes referred to as a terrorist organization and at other times as a militia, has seized control of a large swathe of land in Iraq which stretches for more than 300 miles and includes the cities of Raqqa, Tel Afar, Mosul, Tikrit, and Fallujah. (5) Reports indicate that Mosul fell with little resistance as members of Iraqi security forces voluntarily removed their uniforms, abandoned their posts, and left behind their sophisticated weaponry, which had been provided by the United States government. Additionally, members of ISIS plundered a government vault and seized over 425 million dollars. As a consequence, ISIS is now using military gear which was intended for Iraqi troops, and they now have an estimated two billion dollars with which to fund their war. (6)
The present state of Iraq has become an astonishing mess. According to a report published in mid-June, 8,000 Iraqi refugees have now fled their country and about 480,000 have been driven from their homes since January 2014. (7) The current situation has also become perilous for the remaining Christians in Iraq who are under constant threat and unable to find safe places to live. “It is feared that this latest exodus could be the final death knell for the Christians in Iraq. Having previously sought refuge in Syria, this is no longer an option, and as ISIS violence threatens the stability of the wider region, Christians have very few places of safety to which to run,” stated Patrick Sookdheo, director of an organization known as Barnabas International. (8)
Will the conflict in Iraq pull the United States back into the war-torn region? To date, Obama has shown little interest in any significant military intervention, but this could change if the situation continues to deteriorate, which seems likely. So far, Obama has sent about 300 American troops to Iraq who are there to serve in an advisory position to the Iraqi government. (9) Additionally, a recent report published by the liberal think tank known as the Center for American Progress, or CAP, has recommended that the United States launch a series of air strikes against ISIS. “The nature of the strikes shouldn’t be broad and open ended, it should be targeted, precise, and principled. There is no win or lose in this type of conflict. The focus should be to degrade the capacity of ISIS and other groups that threaten the Iraqi state and U.S. national security,” declared Brian Katulis, a senior fellow at CAP. (10)
Oddly enough, officials in the nation of Iran have signaled that they might be willing to work alongside the United States to fight off ISIS in Iraq. “We can work with Americans to end the insurgency in the Middle East. We are very influential in Iraq, Syria, and many other countries,” stated an unnamed Iranian senior official. (11) The possibility of a collaboration between the United States and Iran has prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to express his distaste for such an idea. “What you’re seeing in the Middle East today in Iraq and in Syria is the stark hatred between radical Shiites – in this case led by Iran – and radical Sunnis led by al-Qaeda and ISIS and others. Now both of these camps are enemies of the United States, and when your enemies are fighting each other, don’t strengthen either one – weaken both,” Netanyahu opined. (12)
The present conflict in Iraq could cause significant changes in our present world. It is obvious that the group which is known as ISIS has larger ambitions than taking control of Iraq. In fact, the group has already seized control of the Turaibil border crossing, which is the only legal crossing point between the nations of Jordan and Iraq. (13) In any case, the Middle East continues to be a continual source of strife and hostility in our world despite a constant call for peace from prominent figures such as the Pope. I strongly believe that this trend will continue even until the return of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Obama’s Controversial Trade!
Throughout his presidency, Barack Obama has made a lot of unpopular decisions. Although this man was once portrayed as a modern day messiah who would save America and was affectionately referred to as “the one” by his supporters, Obama has done much to anger his opponents and even those who once supported him over the last six years since he has occupied the White House. This is evident in a recent poll conducted by Gallup which found that Obama’s favorability rating is the lowest of any living president. According to the results, 47 percent of respondents had a favorable opinion of Obama, 52 percent had an unfavorable opinion, and 1 percent had no opinion at all. Former presidents, Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton each ranked more favorable than Obama in the study. (14)
Among the many reasons for Obama’s low approval rating is a recent trade he orchestrated on May 31, 2014, wherein a captured American soldier by the name of Bowe Bergdahl was exchanged for five members of the Taliban who were being held at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. The names of the five men who were released are Mohammad Fazl, Mullah Norullah Noori, Mohammad Nabi, Khairullah Khairkhwa, and Abdul Haq Wasiq. (15) Speaking of this development, the supreme leader of the Taliban, Mullah Omar, declared the following: “I extend my heartfelt congratulations to the entire Afghan Muslim nation, all the mujahideen and to the families and relatives of the prisoners for this big victory.” (15)
However, not everyone was pleased to hear that this trade had transpired. In fact, American soldiers who had served alongside Bowe Bergdahl have made claims that Bergdahl was captured because he abandoned his post and walked off the American base where he was stationed in Afghanistan. “He walked off. He left his guard post. Nobody knows if he defected or he’s a traitor or was kidnapped. What I do know is, he was there to protect us, and instead he decided to defer from America and go and do his own thing,” declared former Pfc. Jose Baggett. (16) Former Army Sergeant Matt Vierkant, who was a member of Bergdahl’s platoon, also expressed his consternation. “I don’t understand why we’re trading prisoners at Gitmo (Guantanamo Bay) for somebody who deserted during a time of war, which is an act of treason,” Vierkant said. (17)
Reports have also surfaced indicating that Bowe Bergdahl may have been brainwashed by his captors and converted to Islam. (18) In fact, an anonymous Taliban commander spoke fondly of Bergdahl in an article published by Time Magazine. “We are fighting a war against each other, in which [the Americans] kill us and we kill them. But we did whatever we could to make [Bergdahl] happy,” the commander said. (19) Prior to his departure, Bergdahl was given a white tunic set and a woven scarf as a gift from the Taliban. “We wanted him to return home with good memories,” the aforementioned commander said. He later went on to say, “We returned our valued guest to his people and in return, they freed our five heroes held in Guantanamo Bay since 2002.” (20)
In another rather odd development, the soldier’s father, Robert Bergdahl, was invited to the White House after the announcement of his son’s release. The elder Bergdahl then took to the podium and uttered these words in Arabic, “bism allah alrahman alraheem,” which has been translated as “in the name of Allah, the merciful, the compassionate.” (21) These words were spoken while a smiling Barack Obama looked on. Obama has been known to speak fondly of Islam in the past, and even once declared during a speech, “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” (22) In an article published in March 2007 by the New York Times, Obama described the Islamic call to prayer as “one of the prettiest sounds on earth at sunset.” (23)
Clearly there is more to this development than meets the eye. A rational thinking person can easily see that the Bergdahl trade was an ill-advised maneuver, and Obama should have seen the backlash coming. The question then remains, why did he do it? I honestly cannot say for sure, but I do know that Obama has long talked about closing the prison facility at Guantanamo Bay. Given that he had this goal from the start of his presidency and could not achieve it, and considering his obvious sympathies to the Islamic cause, it becomes easier to theorize what his motivations may have been. The event also served as a distraction which took the eyes of the news media off the recently revealed Veteran’s Affairs Department scandal wherein poor healthcare and long waiting lists led to the death of numerous American military veterans. Even so, the Bergdahl trade has led to renewed vigor amongst Obama’s opponents, some of which are now calling for him to be removed from the office of the presidency by means of impeachment. In fact, on June 21, 2014, the South Dakota Republican Party passed a resolution which calls for Obama to be impeached, declaring that Obama has “violated his oath in numerous ways.” (24)
A Slow Transformation To A Cashless Society!
In recent decades it has been repeatedly theorized that a global cashless society would someday become a reality. Although people have a tendency to scoff at such a notion, there is now evidence on multiple fronts which indicate that numerous countries are now on the verge of abolishing cash. Obviously, a cashless society has dangerous implications in terms of privacy. If all of our monetary transactions are performed electronically, the government will easily be able to track every purchase or transaction we conduct. A purely cashless society would also make it easier to transform the world’s economies into one global system, and for those unwilling to capitulate, they could soon find themselves in a precarious situation wherein they are no longer able to buy or sell.
One area of the world that has seen a significant decline in the usage of cash is the United Kingdom. According to a survey conducted by the British Retail Consortium, one half of all retail sales conducted in the United Kingdom are now conducted with a debit card, which represents an increase of 11 percent over the last five years. (25) The usage of cash in general has dropped by 14 percent within the same time period. (26) This trend led to a recent experiment which took place on June 21, 2014, on Beech Road in South Manchester, England. Throughout the course of the day, many businesses on the aforementioned road declined to accept any cash at all, which forced customers to either use a debit card or credit card. The event, which had been dubbed “cashless day,” was conceived by a credit card payment processor known as Handepay. Regarding the prospect of a cashless society, product and innovation director Mark Latham of Handepay was quoted as saying, “We’re carrying less cash in our pockets than ever before and Britain is at the forefront of countries heading towards being cashless because the public are always eager to embrace new technology. The introduction of contactless technology has only accelerated this process as transactions are now as fast as the pace of our lives. There is now an expectation that card payment is available everywhere – it takes us aback as consumers if it isn’t.” (27) Experts are predicting that physical currency in the United Kingdom will disappear completely within the next 20 years. (28)
Meanwhile, the government in Israel is considering the enactment of new restrictions on cash which would eventually transform their country into a cashless society. The proposed restrictions were developed by a special committee headed by a man known as Harel Locker and are being presented as a means to make it more difficult for Israelis to evade taxes. If implemented, the new rules would ban all transactions over 15,000 shekels between individuals (about 4,300 American dollars) and limit transactions involving businesses to no more than 7,500 shekels. (29) In a statement explaining their rationale for these proposed new restrictions, an Israeli government cabinet was quoted as saying, “The use of cash has been recognized in Israel and around the world as a significant factor in the development of the ‘black economy’ in which citizens use cash to evade taxes.” The statement later went on to say, “Our intention is to explore and create incentives for the use of electronic debit cards which can be used to pay bills and make transactions, without having to pay commissions, like with credit cards. The substitute debit cards will be accessible to all Israelis via banks, as well as via the post office.” (30)
Other countries around the world are also close to going cashless. In fact, the nation of Sweden uses so little cash that it has now given homeless people in their country smartphones so that they are able to conduct electronic transactions. (31) In the nation of Belgium, only 7 percent of all transactions are conducted with cash. In France, that figure is only slightly higher, with 8 percent of transactions being made with cash. Canada has also seen a significant decline in the usage of cash, and at this point, only 10 percent of all transactions occurring there involve physical currency. (32) A similar trend has also emerged within the United States. According to a report published by CNBC in May 2014, nearly one in ten Americans no longer carry any cash at all, while 49 percent of respondents to a recent poll carry less than 20 dollars on a day-to-day basis. This trend prompted Greg McBride, the chief financial analyst at Bankrate.com to say, “If we move to a truly cashless society, it won’t be much of an adjustment for most Americans. The vast majority of Americans carry 50 dollars or less on a daily basis, which seems to indicate that it’s more out of necessity than a desire to pay with cash.” (33)
A One World Religion In The Making!
In yet another sign of the times, we are now seeing a renewed call for the religions of the world to join together for the cause of peace. At the forefront of this movement is none other than Pope Francis, a man who has made great effort to appeal to people of every belief system. The Pope has especially made an effort to join Christianity, Islam, and Judaism in recent weeks. This includes a meeting which occurred at the Vatican in June 2014 wherein Pope Francis, Shimon Peres of Israel, Palestinian Mahmoud Abbas, and Patriarch Bartholomew of the Orthodox Church met to discuss peace while a representative of each religion offered a prayer. This event was notable, because it was the first time in history that an Islamic prayer was spoken at the Vatican. Speaking of the event, Pope Francis was quoted as saying the gathering was a “great sign of brotherhood which you offer as children of Abraham.” He then went on to say, “More than once we have been on the verge of peace, but the evil one, employing a variety of means, has succeeded in blocking it.” (34) Incidentally, some might be surprised to learn that it is an official Catholic teaching that Catholics and Muslims worship the same god. This is according to an official declaration by the Second Vatican Council which declares, “The church regards with esteem also the Muslims. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in himself; merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even his inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God.” (35)
Another recent event at the Vatican was geared toward uniting mainstream Christianity with the Catholic Church. In early June 2014, a coalition of religious leaders and politicians met with Pope Francis at the Vatican, including Senator Mike Lee of Utah, former U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, pastor and author Tim Timmons from Newport Beach, California, and the famous pastor known as Joel Osteen from Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. The meeting with Pope Francis prompted Osteen to say, “I like the fact that this pope is trying to make the church larger, not smaller. He’s not pushing people out but making the church more inclusive. That resonated with me.” (36) Pope Francis has even attempted to appeal to atheists and advised them in 2013 “Just do good, and we’ll find a meeting point.” (37)
In another interesting development, plans are now being developed to build a new house of worship in Berlin, Germany. If completed, this unique building, which has been named The House of One will feature a church, mosque, and synagogue all under the same roof. “Under one roof: one synagogue, one mosque, one church. We want to use these rooms for our own traditions and prayers. And together we want to use the room in the middle for dialogue and discussion and also for people without faith. Berlin is a city where people come together from all over the world and we want to give a good example of togetherness.” (38)
As nice as these plans may sound to some people, this type of religious unity is not Biblical. In II Corinthians 6:14-18, we find the following warning from the Apostle Paul, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” We are not called to join hands with the religions of the world for the cause of peace and unity. As Christians we are called to be separate and set apart from the world. It is only through the Lord Jesus Christ that we can ever truly have genuine peace in our hearts. For as Jesus tells us in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” If you have not yet fully given your heart to God, I urge you to do so now. In so doing you can be a beneficiary of God’s perfect peace.
In closing, I wish to thank all of you for your generous support of this ministry. We have faced many challenges over the last few years, but we at Last Trumpet Ministries are determined to carry on for the cause of Christ for as long as the Lord enables us to do so. It is an honor and a privilege to serve you all, and I pray that God will strengthen and bless each and every one of you. If you have any prayer requests, please remember that we are here and ready to pray for you or whatever your needs may be. Grace and peace be unto you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.