This week in our Signs of the Times commentary, we begin with a brief comment on the weather before we move to the major story of the week. In the US there were no significant or catastrophic weather events, but drought conditions continued in Texas and in California, Kansas and Oklahoma. Something we now see cropping up is the specter of multi-day dust storms due to the excessively dry conditions. Parts of Kansas experienced a two day dust storm; last month Lubbock, Texas had a three day dust storm. People are beginning to compare conditions to the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s, mentioning the creation of the “Great American Desert” across Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, real “Grapes of Wrath” type conditions. Given the severity of some of our weather events over the past few months, it is a blessing that America is not involved in Middle Eastern peace negotiations at present.
Middle East – The major story this past week has been the visit of Pope Francis to the Middle East. It was a trip viewed as quite significant and had much symbolism. It can also be seen as being an event which moves end times prophetical events further along:
- Pope Francis began his trip in Palestinian controlled territory, signaling his sympathy and support for the Palestinian cause
- He hugged and kissed the head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, who recently signed a unity agreement with the terror group Hamas; he referred to Muslims as dear brothers
- The Pope publicly called for a “State of Palestine” which would be within the biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria. He used the term “State of Palestine” several times at differing locations as he spoke across the Middle East; even using it in his Bethlehem homily, showing both his own church and the Muslims that he favors creation of such a state in the Promised Land of Israel
- The Pope invited Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinean President Mahmoud Abbas to a prayer summit at the Vatican in early June
Through all of his trip, the Pope spoke:
- As if Muslims worship the same God as Christians and Jews.
- Emphasizing that the birthplace of Judaism, Christianity and Islam is the Holy Land.
- Noting that the Dome of the Rock reminds him of the three great faiths — Christianity, Islam and Judaism.
- Noting that Jews, Christians and Muslims all believe they were created by God and are destined for eternal life.
In doing these things, Pope Francis is showing he has been influenced by the views of many Middle Eastern Catholic bishops who deny Israel’s right to the land and is fueling the anti-Semitism that exists within the Roman Catholic Church. We are seeing the blending of politics and religion in the region that the End Times prophetical events will come to pass. We see the move toward a one world religion, and it clearly appears that the unification of world religions is an agenda topic of Pope Francis.
While the Pope was visiting the Holy Land, there were other signs of the coming one world religion. Bishop Tony Palmer, the man who delivered “the protest is over” message to Kenneth Copland is continuing to call for the unification of all “Christian” denominations, calling for all Protestant denominations to sign the 1999 Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, which is supposed to be the official end of the protest. He calls for a new day of Christianity, effectively calling for Protestants to live in a post-Protestant world. And you know who expects to be the head of this unified church. This is all part of the growing pressure on evangelical Christians to embrace Catholicism as one more Christian denomination in an attempt to make ecumenicism within Christianity one of the driving forces behind a move to a one world religion.
The American State – Tolerance continues to go down a bifurcated path in American society. President Obama makes a speech at West Point this past week, citing terrorism as the number one threat to our country, stating it repeatedly, but refusing to name the source of the threat or its ideological roots. Once more, a pattern of refusing to acknowledge or allow discussion of jihad or Islam and the connection to terrorism. Meanwhile, Stacey Dash, an actress of African-American and Mexican descent, known for her support of Mitt Romney in the last presidential election, was hired by Fox News to provide cultural analysis and commentary. Dash, well known for her conservative views, is savagely attacked on social media sites by liberals and members of the black community; being called crazy, a turncoat, self-hating and useless. Apparently, your race does matter to your politics among the tolerant left in America.
On the economic front, the U.S. gross domestic product dropped 1% in the first quarter of 2014, many economic analysts felt it would have dropped 2% without all the increased spending on Obamacare, raising concerns in some of another recession being upon us. But many mainstream economists shrugged the drop off, calling for 3 to 4 % growth in the second quarter with no real reasoning behind these claims, blaming the current reports on a severe winter. All this while exports dropped around 6% in the first quarter, there are growing concerns of stagnant retail sales (in a country that has 3 to 8 times the retail space per capita of anyone else), we have a reported unemployment rate of just over 6%, yet 1 in 5 households have no one working, and many cities have rates in the mid-teens. Does this make sense to anyone?
Domestically, the Secretary of Veteran Affairs Eric Shinseki resigned under the pressure of the scandal of delayed care for veterans as a result of enrollment practices for benefits. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney resigned as well, one can imagine the toll it takes on a person having to defend the administration’s position on all sorts of scandals.
On the foreign policy front, the President’s announcement that troops in Afghanistan will be reduced to 9,800 by the end of 2014, and to zero by end of 2016 signals the end of about 15 years of war and demonstrates another American foreign policy failure, one of which four American presidential administrations can share in. A speech yesterday by Defense Secretary Hagel that China was a destabilizing influence with its territorial ambitions was met with harsh criticism and condemnation by Chinese officials, demonstrating the strained relationships with China that mirror the strain between the US and Russia. We make speeches, while others lay claim to more and more territory in outright defiance to the US, and seemingly, little intention to curb their territorial appetite based on the wishes of the United States.
As you think of the fact that America has no place in Biblical prophecy in the End Times, why should it be a surprise that we as a nation have leaders who refuse to acknowledge and address what is going on in this country. We will continue our slide from importance into irrelevance in the course of world events in the prophetical stage now being set.
Russia/Ukraine –A top Kremlin adviser accused the US of trying create a military conflict between Russia and Europe over the Ukraine, stepping up the war of words between the US and Russia over the Ukrainian situation. He called the situation in the Ukraine chaotic, and a de facto war. Pro-Russian separatists shot down a Ukrainian army helicopter killing 14. Meanwhile, US Defense Department officials are claiming that Russia troops are pulling back from the Ukrainian border, while we also denied US mercenaries are operating in the Ukraine. They accuse us of war mongering, we accuse them of retreating. Sounds like we are dealing from weakness once again.
European Union –European Union leaders are meeting to determine how to stay in power in the wake of European Parliament elections that have been described as a drubbing for the mainstream parties. The number of members of the parliament that are from “Eurosceptic” parties (United Kingdom Independence Party and National Front in France) has doubled. The power of Brussels (home of EU) is bothersome to many, especially in the UK, led by Prime Minister David Cameron. But calls for “less Europe” will be hard to realize, and many of the leaders (Merkel of Germany, Hollande of France and Renzi of Italy) believe the movement will lose force when the economy improves and unemployment drops.
The world is turning, but the world does seem to be tilting a little more each day. Yet, as the True Church we know these things (or at least events in general) must move inn this direction, the world must slide towards the abyss and get to the point that only the return of Jesus Christ can save humanity from itself, from its since and defiance of a most holy God. Stand your ground, stand firm for your beliefs, preach Christ, and Him crucified, and take heart. Because we know that…
Jesus is coming soon!