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Wars and Rumors of Wars – Part 1

By Pastor Hal Mayer

Wars and Rumors of Wars – Part 1 [1]

This is Pastor Hal Mayer, bringing you another vital message to help you understand the times in which we live, so you can prepare for the coming of Jesus.

My Dear Friends, My message this month is a very sobering message. The words of Jesus concerning the destruction of the world are about to be fulfilled. A great crisis for the whole world is coming very soon. Please listen very carefully as the message unfolds. You will hear of incredible things, yet these are only the beginning of sorrows. Jesus promises that not one of his faithful followers will be lost and he promises to sustain us in the coming chaos.

Before we begin, let us pray. Our Heavenly father, as we look into the things of God, I pray that your Holy Spirit will warn us of the things to come and of the necessary preparation that we must make to be ready. Help us to understand the words of Jesus more clearly, and may we get a clearer glimpse of His love and power. The whole world will face a fearful time, and it is just around the corner. Yet Jesus promises His faithful followers that He will be with them. Please Lord, help us understand this more fully. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Please turn with me in your bibles to the 24th chapter of Matthew, beginning with verse six through verse eight. Jesus is talking with His disciples. He is answering a question that was bothering them. They thought it was nearly time for Jesus to manifest Himself in power and great glory and take over the temporal rule of the earth. But they were mistaken. Jesus mercifully warned them of the times to come before they would see Him in the clouds of glory. Likewise, these words are a warning to us who live at the end of time. We should tremble when we read the media concerning what is coming upon this earth in a short time. It is exactly as Jesus predicted it would be in general terms, but the details are shocking. Many thinking people are watching with bated breath, trying to deal with the implications of what they see coming. They stand in awe at the unfolding events, anxiously wondering what is going to happen next.

Jesus said “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.”

My friends the troubles that are coming upon this world in the very near future are only the beginning of sorrows. The people of this world are going to be thrown into a most troublous time that will cause the rejectors of God’s truth great sorrow, perhaps the greatest agony and misery this world has ever known. People in the western world are used to comforts and conveniences that make them soft. They have a lifestyle that is making them unprepared for the stark conditions that will come upon them. Those in less developed nations have a better training for the difficulties of the very last days.

As mindful men and women gaze into the perplexing future, they see threatenings and forebodings on the world political stage. What can they do? Will they ever see peace? Will international tensions ever be solved? I wonder how many of us really understand Jesus’ words. Jesus was predicting a terrible time of earthly tumult and trouble.

Wars and rumors of wars are something that we read about daily. Right now there are many wars going on. There is the high profile conventional war in Iraq. There is a war in Sudan, Congo and Nigeria, Chechnya and many more. There are rumors that North Korea and Iran are building up their nuclear war arsenals. And there are other nations that are trying to do the same. There is terrorism in Egypt, London, Riyadh, Casablanca, Istanbul, Madrid, and the United States along with many other places. Terrorism is a war with unconventional armies and with unconventional tactics. The terror war is not one-sided. There are two or more sides, planning and strategizing. The focus has been largely on al-Qaida, though there are many, many terrorists groups around the world. Terrorism is just as much a war as any other.

Terrorist networks are becoming widely dispersed and highly decentralized. On July 24, 2005 The New York Times reported the comments of Mr. Paul R. Pillar, who is the national intelligence officer responsible for the Near East and South Asia. He wrote last year that, “the looser the operational connections become and the less Islamist terrorism is instigated by a single figure, the harder it will be to uncover exploitable links and the more likely that the instigators of future terrorist attacks will escape the notice of US intelligence… In a more decentralized network, these individuals will go unnoticed not because data on analysts’ screens are misinterpreted but because they will never appear on those screens in the first place.”

It is al-Qaida that takes the grand stage in this war because they have the capabilities and the will power to do significant damage to the United States and to the rest of the world. And they intend to do it possibly with a chemical or biological weapon, or a so-called dirty bomb which is a relatively small nuclear device.

Listen to this from the book Education pg, 179. “The present is a time of overwhelming interest to all living. Rulers and statesmen, men who occupy positions of trust and authority, thinking men and women of all classes, have their attention fixed upon the events taking place about us. They are watching the strained, restless relations that exist among the nations. They observe the intensity that is taking possession of every earthly element, and they recognize that something great and decisive is about to take place—that the world is on the verge of a stupendous crisis.”

Do these things interest you? They should be very interesting to every faithful Seventh-day Adventist. Remember, these world problems are part of the fulfilling prophecies. I wonder how many Seventh-day Adventists are watching these things and paying attention? How many good SDAs are ready to take the message of the soon coming world chaos and Jesus return to these worried, perplexed and anxious souls, and teach them how to escape? Too few of our members are even paying attention, let alone preparing to give the trumpet a very certain sound.

Recently a fearful article was published concerning the nuclear devastation that is planned by al-Qaida. Al-Qaida, according to a Worldnetdaily report on July 18, 2005, has developed plans for a nuclear attack on the United States. The plan came to light shortly after the September 11 attacks in 2001. Al-Qaida plans to attack the nine U.S. cities with the highest Jewish populations, according to captured leaders and documents. Osama bin Laden is planning what he calls an “American Hiroshima.” Imagine that! An “American Hiroshima.”

Think for a moment what happened to Hiroshima. The following information was gleaned from the Avalon Project at Yale Law School (www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/abomb/mp07.htm), from the A-Bomb Museum (www.csi.ad.jp/ABOMB), Time Magazine, August 17, 1981 and July 24, 2005, and from personal survivor and rescuer accounts (all available on the web).

When the Enola Gay B-29 Bomber dropped the first atomic bomb on August 6, 1945 high above Hiroshima, an industrial city in Japan, the bomb took about 1 minute to reach its explosion altitude of 1900 feet. A brilliant flash of yellow light filled the sky as the bomb exploded and rained fire and destruction down upon the city. Earthquake resistant buildings were instantly flattened by the shock waves. But what the bomb didn’t crush, the firestorm that instantly engulfed the city destroyed. The intense heat reached millions of degrees near the blast point, incinerating everything in its path.

An ordinary bomb would damage only a part of a large building and the damage would generally be limited to the area where the explosion occurred. It would take many, perhaps thousands of ordinary bombs to level a large city like Hiroshima. But the atomic bomb exploded above the city with such enormous firepower that it engulfed the whole city to a range of 10,000 to 12,000 feet from the epi-center (or between 2-3 miles). The whole city was reduced to ruin in an instant. Hardly a building remained standing.

The human toll was enormous. In an instant 70,000 to 100,000 people lost their lives, and many thousands more died of wounds and radiation through the next three to four weeks. People were burned nearly 2 miles away from the blast area. Their clothing was torn off of them. Their insides ripped out. Near ground zero, mangled chard bodies mingled with mangled chard buildings. People on their way to work, or in their offices were burned alive or crushed under falling debris. Whole families were annihilated. It was horrible.

Confusion reigned everywhere. It was impossible for fire engines to get to the fires. The medical supplies were exhausted very quickly and many people died simply because they could not get treatment. In one instance, at a prison near the center of the blast, some large pieces of a wall were flung 80 feet, and many have gone 30 feet in the air before falling. Imagine what would have happened to the people in the blast area. It is almost incomprehensible. The survivors didn’t know what to do. They were helpless and eventually began to leave the city carrying or dragging the injured with them. There was little help available anywhere. Hospitals were destroyed or damaged. Other medical facilities were almost non-existent. The whole infrastructure of the city was nearly destroyed. Three days later similar damage was done to Nagasaki in the second atomic attack.

One week later Time magazine wrote, “In an instant, without warning, the present had become the unthinkable future.” After Hiroshima it was the United States and the Soviet Union that built the most nuclear devices, thousands of them. The peace was an uneasy peace, known as the cold war. Both sides knew that using their nuclear arsenal would mean a nuclear holocaust that would destroy themselves as well. The nuclear devices became ever more sophisticated and powerful. By today’s thermonuclear standards the bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were primitive and rather mild in their capabilities. Now, much smaller, lighter and more powerful devices exist that dwarf the effect of the bombs dropped on Japan.

But time has gone on still farther. The Soviet Union is no more. Yet those bombs and other nuclear devices are still out there. Even though Russia and the United States are committed to reducing the number of nuclear devices in their possession, there are questions about where some of them are, particularly in the former Soviet States. Some nations want to acquire them for strategic political reasons, or perhaps even more malevolent purposes. There are even greater questions that face the people of this world. What happens when some of this ordinance gets into the hands of those that are really malevolent — such as al-Qaida, who would indeed use them on their declared enemies.

Nuclear devices are far more powerful than they were at time of WWII. And today they are not dependent on aircraft to deliver them. They can be delivered by hand. And with the rise of the global black market in expertise and materials, nuclear bomb devices are increasingly attainable. It is only a matter of time until they are used by terrorists.

Former Democratic senator Sam Nunn was quoted by Time Magazine July 24, 2005 as saying, “The terrorist threat is, to me, the most likely use of a nuclear weapon.” While the challenge of preventing nuclear proliferation has always been with us since Hiroshima, it is now an enormous and impending crisis. Even though there have recently been agreements to curtail the spread of nukes, and even though the Bush administration has unilaterally decided to cut the total nuclear arsenal of the U.S. by more than half of the current 5,000 warheads, the threat of nuclear holocaust has become much more sinister and far more real than ever before. Even as the Bush administration is reducing its conventional nuclear missile warheads, it is “determined,” according to Time Magazine, “not just to modernize its aging arsenal but also to develop a new type of bomb, the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator — known as the “bunker buster.”

The scripture says that “nation shall rise against nation.” What could be the purpose of a nuclear “bunker buster” if not to go to war? But the more terrifying reality is not because of international brinkmanship of one nation against another, but because of the accessibility of nukes by individuals and groups such as al-Qaida.

Now let us return to the report on al-Qaida. What Osama Bin Laden envisions for the United States of America and perhaps other nations of the western world is horrific. His goal is not just to destroy one or two cities. He plans to destroy many cities killing more than 4 million people in the initial attack. The most shocking part of the report is that it stated that “at least two fully assembled and operational nuclear weapons are believed to be hidden in the United States already. Think about it. Nukes already hidden in the U.S. awaiting the signal. Many people sit back and expect the government to protect them. They will of course, blame the government when it happens. But in the end, the only protection will come from the God of heaven.

Al-Qaida’s prime target cities are New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Boston and Washington DC. The two on top of that list are New York and Washington DC.

Such an attack would devastate America and have an enormous effect on the rest of the world. Even one nuclear suitcase bomb would be devastating, but al-Qaida plans more than one, simultaneously, and in broad daylight so that mushroom cloud images will be seen around the world. Apparently, “al-Qaida already has at least 40 nuclear weapons from the former Soviet Union,” reported Worldnetdaily on July 11, 2005, “including suitcase nukes, nuclear mines, artillery shells and even some missile warheads. In addition al-Qaida had plans to assemble its own nuclear weapons with fissile material it purchased on the black market.”

How did some of these nuclear weapons get inside the United States? While The Department of Homeland Security has focused mostly on aviation security, the border between Mexico and the United States has been left wide open. Many news reports in the last several years have documented the open sieve along the border and how that it isn’t just Mexicans that are crossing. Al-Qaida has apparently been using smuggling rings to get the weapons across the border and to deploy “sleeper agents” in the US, where they await the timing required for a major multi-pronged attack.

Here is what the report from Worldnetdaily actually said, “There is virtually no doubt among intelligence analysts al-Qaida has obtained fully assembled nuclear weapons… The only question is how many. Estimates range between a dozen and 70. The breathtaking news is that an undetermined number of these weapons, including suitcase bombs, mines and crude tactical nuclear weapons, have already been smuggled into the U.S. — at least some across the U.S.-Mexico border.”

This report is shocking even to those paying attention to world events. While US resources are being deployed in Iraq, our borders have been left unprotected, setting up the U.S. for further devastation as prophesied by Jesus Himself.

Notice His solemn and freighting words in Matthew 24:21. “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those day shall be shortened.”

Do you understand what Jesus said? He said that there will be such terrible trouble that no flesh shall be saved unless the days are shortened! That is amazing. Where is most flesh living these days? They are living in cities large and small. It is the cities that are the objects of terrorism and it is the cities that get bombed or attacked in most conventional wars. It is the cities that end up being the prime targets of the wrath of God including natural disasters and other judgments that God may bring upon them. Is it any wonder that God’s counsel to His people is to leave the cities? Why then do some think that it is in their best interests to stay in the cities? They do so at their own temporal and eternal peril. Why do some theologians recommend that we can safely ignore Ellen White’s counsel which is in reality the counsel of the Lord and leave our colleges and other institutions in or close to major cities?

My friends, it is time to get our families out of the cities. It is time to heed the counsel of the Lord. “Escape for thy life” is the message of the angels to us today just like it was to Lot. The cities are like Sodom and Gomorrah. Why should we stay in them? They aren’t helping our spiritual life. Too often we become addicted to their entertainment, to their business opportunities or to their cultural advantages, and like Lot’s family, we don’t want to leave. But God’s mercy will only last so long. While it is true that al-Qaida cannot attack the United States until the angels holding back the winds of strife allow them, it is nevertheless, vitally important that God’s people get out now while they still can.

Here is God’s counsel. It is found in Adventist Home, page 139. “Let it be your study to select and make your homes as far from Sodom and Gomorrah as you can. Keep out of the large cities. If possible make your homes in the quiet retirement of the country, even if you can never become wealthy by so doing. Locate where there is the best influence.”

Notice this statement from the Review and Herald, September 10, 1903. “Transgression has almost reached its limit. Confusion fills the world, and a great terror is soon to come upon human beings. The end is very near. We who know the truth should be preparing for what is soon to break upon the world as an overwhelming surprise.”

Note that a “great terror is soon to come upon human beings.” Do you think Ellen White knew about Terrorism? Perhaps she didn’t know about all the details, but she believed the word of God and she no doubt saw in vision that men’s hearts would fail them for fear and for terror. Terrorism and war are indiscriminate. Many innocent lives are lost, whether they be old or young, man or woman. But more importantly, your eternal destiny is at stake. If you live in or near a large city, get out now! Not just because you are afraid of terrorism, but because you need to get serious about your eternal destiny and the destiny of your family.

Terrorism is expanding at a dramatic rate right now. Jihad is just as much a war as is a conventional battle between nation states. The world may not have known about nuclear bombs in the days of Ellen White, but perhaps Ellen White saw them in vision. Listen to this statement from 8th volume of the Testimonies, page 49. This statement was written in 1900 and essentially predicts communism and the nuclear bomb.

“The Lord is removing His restrictions from the earth, and soon there will be death and destruction, increasing crime, and cruel, evil working against the rich who have exalted themselves against the poor. Those who are without God’s protection will find no safety in any place or position. Human agents are being trained and are using their inventive power to put in operation the most powerful machinery to wound and to kill.” {8T 49.3}

The buildup of nuclear arms is clearly a fulfillment of prophecy. But the acquisition of these arms by terrorists groups and the usage that is going to be made of them is frightening to them that know not the Lord Jesus Christ. In Luke 21:25-26 Jesus predicts the time just ahead of us. Listen. “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.

If there ever was a time when men’s hearts will fail them for fear, it will be the coming nuclear conflagrations in America and on other parts of the world. But this scripture implies that it will be even worse. For the powers of heaven shall be shaken. The elements of nature will attack human habitations. We saw a tiny glimpse of the devastation that is to come upon the cities of the earth in the wake of the earthquake last year in December near Sumatra and the resulting roaring Tsunami waves. We need to understand that these things are only tokens of the destruction that is going to be heaped upon a world that is in rebellion to the God of heaven. Many are being troubled by the events taking place in this world. The Holy Spirit is trying to reach many hearts that are thinking deeply about them.

The horror and shock that most of us saw during the terrorist attacks on the world trade center and the pentagon are only a small token of what is going to take place in the near future. There is no time to waste. Now is the time to work. Now is the time to share your faith. Now is the time to explain to the people around you what you know, otherwise they will blame you for their own loss after the close of probation.

Listen to the words of God’s prophet found in Evangelism, page 29. “O that God’s people had a sense of the impending destruction of thousands of cities, now almost given to idolatry.— Review and Herald, Sept. 10, 1903.

Think about it. Thousands of cities! That’s a lot of people. One way this will happen is through war, whether it is Jihad or conventional war. Another way is natural disaster. But the preparations for war that are developing in this world are leading up to the final war, the battle of Armageddon. We are going to see much more war of a conventional nature in the near future but we are also going to see a dramatic increase in terrorism as well.

Why do you think we have not yet seen more war and destruction than we have so far? Here is the reason. Listen to God’s prophet Ellen White. This is from Manuscript Release 117, 1908.

“We are standing on the threshold of great and solemn events. Prophecies are fulfilling. Strange and eventful history is being recorded in the books of heaven—events which it was declared should shortly precede the great day of God. Everything in the world is in an unsettled state. The nations are angry, and great preparations for war are being made. Nation is plotting against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. The great day of God is hastening greatly. But although the nations are mustering their forces for war and bloodshed, the command to the angels is still in force that they hold the four winds until the servants of God are sealed in their foreheads.”

I am so thankful that so far the angels are still holding the winds of strife. But that is only going to last so long. It is only going to last as long as there are still servants of God being sealed in their foreheads. Are you a servant of God? Are you being sealed in your forehead? When that work is completed, then there will be such strife and bloodshed like never seen before in this world. Not even Hiroshima and Nagasaki will compare but in the faintest way. We need to get ready. We need to be praying for the sealing in our minds and hearts.

Turn with me to Ezekiel 9. Listen to the words of the prophet beginning with verse four. “And the LORD said unto him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.”

Notice that those that are sealed are church members who “sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof.” In the midst of what? In the midst of the church. This is not sighing and crying for the abominations that are going on in the earth, though certainly we should be agonizing for lost souls. But the angels of destruction of Ezekiel 9 that go out and that are told to wait until the sealing is finished are waiting until God’s servants are sealed precisely because they cry and sigh for the glory of God that is so dishonored among His own people.

It is the church that is holding up the sealing process. While we are swinging and swaying, while we are miming and clowning, while we are patting ourselves on the back for all of our accomplishments, God is looking upon us, penetrating our superficial spirituality and with pity and patience He still holds back the winds of strife. He is instructing His destroying angels to wait until His servants sigh and cry for the abominations that are done in the midst of the church.

Listen to the voice of God’s prophet to the last generation. This is found in the third volume of the Testimonies, page 267. “Who are standing in the counsel of God at this time? Is it those who virtually excuse wrongs among the professed people of God and who murmur in their hearts, if not openly, against those who would reprove sin? Is it those who take their stand against them and sympathize with those who commit wrong? No, indeed! Unless they repent, and leave the work of Satan in oppressing those who have the burden of the work, and [stop] holding up the hands of sinners in Zion, they will never receive the mark of God’s sealing approval. They will fall in the general destruction of the wicked, represented by the work of the five men bearing slaughter weapons. Mark this point with care: Those who receive the pure mark of truth, wrought in them by the power of the Holy Ghost, represented by a mark by the man in linen, are those “that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done” in the church. Their love for purity and the honor and glory of God is such, and they have so clear a view of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, that they are represented as being in agony, even sighing and crying. Read the ninth chapter of Ezekiel.”

Are you holding up the hands of sinners in Zion by opposing those who would reprove sin? Are you virtually excusing wrongs among the professed people of God whether leaders or laymen? Or are you faithfully doing your duty to reprove sin and exalt righteousness?

Here is another statement from Evangelism page 194. “There are many who do not understand the prophecies relating to these days, and they must be enlightened. It is the duty of both watchmen and laymen to give the trumpet a certain sound. Be in earnest, “cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.”—Letter 1, 1875. Ellen White is speaking of the church, brothers and sisters, as well as those that are God’s people in the world.

I say this kindly and because I love all of God’s people and I want to see them saved in the kingdom. We must give the trumpet a certain sound. We must give the warning to God’s people lest they be lost. We must reprove sin and wrong in the church as well as in the world, whether they will hear or whether they will forebear.

Friends, we are near the end. Great confusion and terrible calamities are coming upon this earth. Souls are at stake. Now is the time to get ready spiritually, mentally and physically. Here is one more statement that I would like to share with you. It is from the first volume of the Testimonies, page 268. “I was shown the inhabitants of the earth in the utmost confusion. War, bloodshed, privation, want, famine, and pestilence were abroad in the land. . . . My attention was then called from the scene. There seemed to be a little time of peace. Once more the inhabitants of the earth were presented before me; and again everything was in the utmost confusion. Strife, war, and bloodshed, with famine and pestilence, raged everywhere. Other nations were engaged in this war and confusion. War caused famine. Want and bloodshed caused pestilence. And then men’s hearts failed them for fear, ‘and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth.’”

There is safety in only one place. The secret place of the most high. Let me read it to you from Psalm 91. “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Where is the secret place of the most high? That is the Most Holy Place in the heavenly sanctuary. It is where only those that know Jesus and have followed him there in their hearts and minds that will abide there with Him.

“I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.

Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;” That is talking about terrorism and war. Jesus is promising that He will protect His faithful followers so that they will not unnecessarily shed their blood in fruitless wars.

“Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.” Isn’t that wonderful? Jesus promises that you don’t have to worry about these terrible things coming upon the world. He promises that you will see the reward of the wicked only with your eyes. Thousands upon thousands shall fall right next to you, but you will be safe.

“Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.” What wonderful promises!

Now listen to the next part. It is Jesus’ voice speaking directly to your soul. “Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation.”

Jesus is telling you how to avoid the gargantuan destruction that is coming upon the world. You can have these promises fulfilled in your life if you trust Him fully.

And lastly, Isaiah 54:14 says “In righteousness shalt thou be established: thou shalt be far from oppression; for thou shalt not fear: and from terror; for it shall not come near thee.”

Our Father in Heaven, What terrible times are coming upon this earth. What terrible confusion and bloodshed will be the lot of those that reject your mercy. Lord we want to be in the secret place of the most high. We want to be controlled by the Holy Spirit. Please help us to overcome our sins so that we may be accounted as part of those who will be sealed. Please help us to plead with you for souls. Please help us to be faithful watchmen even if others will not listen. And thank you for your promises. They mean so much. In Jesus name, amen.

The following is a current events update of interest to those that love the appearing of Jesus Christ and are watching the fulfilling prophecies. This part of the program is only available on CD and on our website. We can see the signs of the times telling us that we are nearing the world’s great crisis. May the Lord find us faithful.

Our first item this month is about a landmark trial in London. For the first time in history, Britain has tried, convicted and sentenced a foreign national for crimes committed, not in Britain, but in his own country. Faryadi Zardad, an alien living in south London under asylum was convicted by a jury in a retrial related to his reign of fear at Afghan checkpoints between 1991 and 1996. His crimes include terrorism, hostage-taking, torture and murder.

Zardad may well have committed terrible and brutal crimes against civilians, but that does not make him subject to the British justice system unless he committed those crimes in Britain or against British citizens. Not so, says Britain’s attorney general, Lord Goldsmith. “An international convention and English law allow the trial in England of anyone who has committed torture or hostage-taking, irrespective of where those crimes were committed.” He said.

After a lengthy and expensive investigation costing British taxpayers at least GBP 3 million (approximately $6 million) in which the British government pursued information on crimes that had nothing to do with British law, Zardad was tried, but the jury could not agree. He was then tried again, this time with more success.

“One of the key legal issues was to show that although Zardad did not necessarily administer torture himself, he was still responsible through the men he controlled at his checkpoints,” the BBC reported on July 18, 2005. Britain’s attorney general explained why Britain decided to try the case. He argued that Zardad’s crimes were so “merciless” and such “an affront to justice” that they could be tried in any country.

Now here is the problem. It is a problem of jurisdiction. No doubt Mr. Zardad was a bad man and needed to be tried and punished. But he should have been tried in Afghanistan, not in Britain. Britain should have extradited him to Afghanistan. What this case does is set legal precedent for nations to arraign citizens of other nations and try them in court for things that had nothing to do with their own laws or citizens. In the increasingly globalized justice system, we are likely to see more and more of this kind of action. Under new global terrorism laws, traditional legal boundaries are being swept away in the name of the war on terror. But Mr. Zardad’s actions cannot be classed as international terrorism. They were brutal and despicable, but they were local. This case sets an amazing precedent, in which there is ominous overtones. Mr. Zardad’s cruel behavior is revolting, and the conviction will not generate much negative reaction. It is being used to establish a precedent without protest, which can then be applied to other “serious” crimes against humanity. As definitions broaden, what happens if your faith becomes a serious crime against humanity through the blasphemy laws of one nation or another, and you are tried in courts that have no jurisdiction over you? If your beliefs become an affront to human laws, as they likely will, according to prophecy, will you be subject to legal maneuvers, or global jurisdiction in a similar way?

Also note that the defendant was not convicted in the first trial because the jury couldn’t agree, but the retrial resulted in the conviction. I wondered what was different about the second trial. Was there a different jury? Was the defendant presented differently, perhaps more villainously than the first trial? Perhaps we will never know, but the British government, for whatever reasons, was so determined to get a conviction and thereby set international precedent that they insisted on a retrial.

Our next item involves Britain again. The UK is planning to copy the United States and establish a list of extremists who will not be permitted into the country. But the new law appears to go beyond the U.S. in its scope. The Home Secretary Mr. Charles Clarke said that the database would list “unacceptable behaviour” such as “radical preaching, websites and writing articles intended to foment terrorism,” The BBC reported on July 20, 2005. “Individuals’ presence on the list means they may face exclusion from the UK,” the news agency reported.

“Mr Clarke told MPs he wanted to apply more widely the home secretary’s powers to exclude an individual from the UK if their presence is deemed ‘not conducive to the public interest.”

Imagine that! “not conducive to the public interest.” Will there ever come a time when preaching the truth will be deemed by governments, as not conducive to the public interest?

It is also interesting to note that the unacceptable behaviors include “radical preaching.” In this day of ecumenical enthusiasm, is it possible that the preaching of the truth concerning Bible prophecy, antichrist and other distinctive doctrines will be considered too radical and therefore unacceptable?

The BBC also reported that the new powers would authorize the Home Secretary to exclude those who were involved in “indirect incitement to terrorism” in addition to “direct incitement.”

Mr. Clarke said the new offence “targets those who, while not directly inciting, glorify and condone terrorist acts knowing full well that the effect on their listeners will be to encourage them to turn to terrorism.”

This legal concept is also troubling. It is a harbinger of legal restrictions on those who will preach the truth that will perhaps be accused of inciting hatred or bigotry against other religions even though they are simply preaching Bible truth.

The BBC also reported that Mr. Tony Blair, the prime minister of Britain stated that he was looking at holding an international conference for countries concerned about, or affected by Islamic extremism. He said the aim was “to try and take concerted action across the world to try to root out this type of extremist teaching.” He also said, “though the terrorists will use all sorts of issues to justify what they do , the roots of it do go deep, they are often not found in this country alone therefore international action is necessary.”

The implications of this are troubling too, especially to God’s faithful people who will one day be painted as extremists and radicals because they won’t go along with the new world order religion, or because they teach Bible concepts that are now considered to be extreme.

In the end, God’s people will have no place to hide. They will be hunted internationally. They will be restricted and proscribed. Their faithful witness will end them up in jail and eventually executed because they refuse to abide by laws that they cannot conscientiously keep.

Our next item is concerning the ecumenical agenda of Benedict XVI. The Christian Post on June 24, 2005 wrote that “Pope Benedict XVI met Thursday with Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, the leader of the World Council of Churches, in an effort to improve relations between the Roman Catholic and Protestant churches.

Benedict said he is “eager to continue cooperation” with the WCC, and that “The commitment of the Catholic Church to the search for Christian unity is irreversible,” reported the Post.

Kobia invited the Pope to the WCC’s headquarters in Geneva “as yet one more concrete step in our long journey towards visible unity”, the Post reported. It is interesting to note that the WCC is working toward visible unity, not just warm feelings and a happy exchange of dialog between churches. Visible unity is a feature of the thinking of Benedict XVI and his predecessor John Paul II.

The Christian Post article continued by saying that, “Kobia, in an interview with the AP, explained that some Protestant members of the WCC were “vexed” by a 2000 document from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, which framed the role of the Catholic Church in human salvation in an exclusive manner. The document, “Dominus Iesus,” which the pope signed and headed when he was a cardinal, suggested that non-Catholic “ecclesiastical communities” were “not churches in a proper sense.’”

The Catholic Church has always viewed itself as the exclusive means of salvation. By definition that means that all other churches cannot be valid means of gaining eternal life. The term “ecclesiastical communities” was no doubt invented to be a nicer sounding term to downplay the dogma of the exclusively RC church. But the distinction was not lost on many Protestant churches who complained about the wording of the document.

Yet Kobia is willing to brush this important matter aside. “He said he wasn’t looking for Benedict to renounce the 2000 document, but said he hoped the two sides could “move beyond it.” In other words, the WCC is willing to overlook this rather important distinction in its quest to drink of the wine of Babylon. The irreversibility of the ecumenical process is one of the keys to understanding the future, for prophecy makes it very clear that all the world will wonder after the beast, and all that dwell upon the earth shall worship the beast according to Revelation 13. To accomplish that, there has to be a willingness on the part of Protestantism to accept Rome as the spiritual head of the Christian faith.

Our Next item is also about the Papacy and its continuing emphasis on Sunday. On May 30, 2005, the London Guardian made the following comment about the Popes visit to Bari, Italy to conclude the 24th Italian National Eucharistic Congress. “Pope Benedict XVI, in his first trip outside Rome since being elected, was greeted by enthusiastic crowds in the southern Italian city of Bari yesterday.

At an outdoor mass attended by an estimated 200,000 people, he called for the rediscovery of the religious meaning of Sundays as an antidote to the ‘rampant consumerism and religious indifference’ that was making the modern world a spiritual desert.”

His comments (which can be found on the Vatican website) centered on the theme chosen for the congress which was “Without Sunday we cannot live,” which emphasized that, “Sunday, the Lord’s Day, is a favourable opportunity to draw strength from him, the Lord of life.”

The Pope emphasized Sunday throughout his homily. ”Dear friends… we must rediscover the joy of Christian Sundays… Christ’s Resurrection happened on the first day of the week, which in the Scriptures is the day of the world’s creation. For this very reason Sunday was considered by the early Christian community as the day on which the new world began, the one on which, with Christ’s victory over death, the new creation began.”

Though many claim that Benedict XVI is a great theologian, he is actually a great distorter of the truth. First of all Sunday is only the beginning of creation. It is the Sabbath on the seventh day that memorialized the creation. To say that there is a parallel between the Sunday 0f creation and the Sunday of the resurrection and thereby linking the two and justifying Sunday observance in defiance of the observance of the holy Sabbath is very poor theology indeed. Obeying the Word of God is the only way to have good theology.

The Pope concluded his remarks by saying that the declaration that we cannot live without Sunday, “gives rise to our prayer: that we too, Christians of today, will rediscover an awareness of the crucial importance of the Sunday Celebration and will know how to draw from participation in the Eucharist the necessary dynamism for a new commitment to proclaiming to the world Christ “our peace” (Eph 2: 14). Amen!

Benedict XVI linked the theme of peace with Sunday observance, and in particular participation in the Eucharist which is the Catholic substitution for the salvation offered in the death of Christ itself. Expect more of this kind of rhetoric in the future as Benedict XVI presses for Sunday legislation.

More on Sunday legislation?

Now to freedom of the Press. Freedom of the Press is vital to a free society and to holding governments accountable for their actions. Without confidential sources, journalists have few alternatives to addressing the issues that government leaders would rather keep secret. Confidentiality of sources is important to the public interest because it keeps government more accountable.

Recently Time Magazine released the confidential notes of Matthew Cooper, one of its journalists, to the Justice Department that is doing a criminal investigation concerning one of his stories which involved revealing the identity of an important CIA operative. He and Time refused to release the notes until the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Justice Department. Mr. Cooper narrowly missed going to jail,” reported the New York Times on June 20, 2005, “while Judith Miller of the New York Times did go to jail for refusing to release her confidential sources in the same investigation.

The seriousness of this is underscored by the almost immediate attempt in Congress to pass a “shield” law to protect journalists from prosecution for not releasing confidential sources. “Compelling reporters to testify and, in particular, forcing them to reveal the identity of their confidential sources without extraordinary circumstances, hurts the public interest,” said Senator Richard G. Lugar, Republican of Indiana and the bill’s Senate sponsor. “The result will be that many whistle-blowers will refuse to come forward and reporters will be unable to provide our constituents with information they have a right to know.”

Time magazine’s editor in chief Norman Pearlstine said that the Supreme Court’s decision “has already resulted in several valuable confidential sources refusing to cooperate again with Time magazine.” The implications of this are obvious. If the Justice Department of the United States can demand the sources of reporters information, then the information flow on really important matters will dry up largely.

But the Justice Department opposes the shield legislation in Congress on the grounds that it would limit or prevent investigations into the public’s health or safety or national security. It is amazing how many freedoms are jeopardized in the name of national security. The proposed legislation actually addresses the Justice Department’s concerns and provides for journalist subpoenas in the event of an imminent threat to national security. But the Justice Department wants wide authority to subpoena journalists, and called the legislation “bad public policy.” Having essentially unbridled access to reporter’s sources would be counterproductive to a free society because it would make it easier for governmental leaders to hide information that the public should know. If alternative sources of information are not available through confidential sources, government power will increase substantially simply by controlling the flow of information.

Representative Mike Pence, a Republican of Indiana, who is working the bill through the house said “the founding fathers thought the only check on government power in real time was a free and independent press.” We will be keeping an eye on this issue in the future. America is steadily moving toward a much more centralized and controlling government, mostly in the name of national security.

Until next month, may God bless and keep you faithful.