Monday, January 29, 2007

WHY ISRAELIS ARE AFRAID

Why Israelis are afraid — very afraid - By Yossi Klein Halevi & Michael B. Oren

The Jewish State's worst nightmare

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The first reports from military intelligence about an Iranian nuclear program reached the desk of Yitzhak Rabin shortly after he became prime minister in May 1992. Rabin's conclusion was unequivocal: Only a nuclear Iran, he told aides, could pose an existential threat to which Israel would have no credible response. But, when he tried to warn the Clinton administration, he met with incredulity. The CIA's assessment — which wouldn't change until 1998 — was that Iran's nuclear program was civilian, not military. Israeli security officials felt that the CIA's judgment was influenced by internal U.S. politics and privately referred to the agency as the "cpia" — "P" for "politicized."

The indifference in Washington helped persuade Rabin that Israel needed to begin preparing for an eventual preemptive strike, so he ordered the purchase of long-range bombers capable of reaching Iran. And he made a fateful political decision: He reversed his ambivalence toward negotiating with the PLO and endorsed unofficial talks being conducted between Israeli left-wingers and PLO officials. Rabin's justification for this about-face was that Israel needed to neutralize what he defined as its "inner circle of threat" — the enemies along its borders — in order to focus on the coming confrontation with Iran, the far more dangerous "outer circle of threat." Rabin's strategy, then, was the exact opposite of the approach recently recommended by the Iraq Study Group: Where James Baker and Lee Hamilton want to engage Iran — even at the cost of downplaying its nuclear ambitions — in order to solve crises in the Arab world, Rabin wanted to make peace with the Arab world in order to prevent, at all costs, a nuclear Iran.

Now, more than a decade later, the worst-case scenario envisioned by Rabin is rapidly approaching. According to Israeli intelligence, Iran will be able to produce a nuclear bomb as soon as 2009. In Washington, fear is growing that either Israel or the Bush administration plans to order strikes against Iran. In Israel, however, there is fear of a different kind. Israelis worry not that the West will act rashly, but that it will fail to act at all. And, while strategists here differ over the relative efficacy of sanctions or a military strike, nearly everyone agrees on this point: Israel cannot live with a nuclear Iran.

For over two decades, since the era of former Prime Minister Menachem Begin, the Holocaust was rarely invoked, except on the extremes, in Israeli politics. In recent months, though, the Iranian threat has returned the Final Solution to the heart of Israeli discourse. Senior army commanders, who likely once regarded Holocaust analogies with the Middle East conflict as an affront to Zionist empowerment, now routinely speak of a "second Holocaust." Op-eds, written by left-wing as well as right-wing commentators, compare these times to the 1930s. Israelis recall how the international community reacted with indifference as a massively armed nation declared war against the Jewish people — and they sense a similar pattern today. Even though the United States and Europe have finally awakened to the Iranian nuclear threat, Iran's calls for the destruction of Israel tend to be dismissed as mere rhetoric by the Western news media. Yet, here in Israel, those pronouncements have reinforced Rabin's urgency in placing the Iran situation at the top of the strategic agenda.

One of the men most responsible for doing precisely that is Labor Party parliamentarian and current Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh, whom Rabin entrusted with his government's "Iran file." Like most in the defense establishment, Sneh doesn't believe Iran would immediately launch a nuclear attack against Israel. But, he adds, it won't have to actually use the bomb to cripple Israel. "They would be able to destroy the Zionist dream without pressing the button," he says.

In clipped tones that reveal his long military background, he outlines three repercussions of an Iranian bomb. To begin with, he notes, the era of peace negotiations will come to an end: "No Arab partner will be able to make concessions with a nuclear Iran standing over them." What's more, Israel will find its military options severely limited. An emboldened Iran could provide Hezbollah and Hamas with longer-range and deadlier rockets than their current stock of Katyushas and Qassams; yet, threatened with a nuclear response, Israel would have little defense against intensifying rocket fire on its northern and southern periphery, whose residents would have to be evacuated to the center. Israel already experienced a foretaste of mass uprooting in the Lebanon war last summer, when hundreds of thousands of Galilee residents were turned into temporary refugees. Finally, says Sneh, foreign investors will flee the country, and many Israelis will, too. In one recent poll, 27 percent of Israelis said they would consider leaving if Iran went nuclear. "Who will leave? Those with opportunities abroad — the elite," Sneh notes. The promise of Zionism to create a Jewish refuge will have failed, and, instead, Jews will see the diaspora as a more trustworthy option for both personal and collective survival. During the Lebanon war, Israeli television's preeminent satirical comedy, "O What a Wonderful Land," interviewed an Israeli claiming that "this" is the safest place for Jews — as the camera pulled back to reveal that "this" was London.

Even without the bomb, Iran's threat to Israel is growing. Working through Shia Hezbollah, Alawite Damascus, and Sunni Hamas, Tehran has extended its influence into Lebanon, Syria, and the Palestinian territories. As a result of Hezbollah's perceived victory in the Lebanon war and Hamas's ability to continue firing rockets at Israeli towns despite repeated army incursions into Gaza, Iran has proved it can attack Israel with near-impunity. Iranian newspapers are replete with stories gloating over the supposed erosion of Israel's will to fight and the imminent collapse of its "postmodern" army, as one recent article put it. Iran's self-confidence has been bolstered by Israel's failure to extract a price from Tehran for instigating the Lebanon war and for funding terrorist operations as far back as the early '90s, when Iran masterminded the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires and, two years later, that city's Jewish community headquarters. Nor has Israel — to say nothing of the U.N. peacekeeping forces — managed to prevent Hezbollah from rearming. And, if Iran manages to overcome U.S. threats and U.N. sanctions and achieve nuclear capability, it will be seen throughout the Muslim world as unstoppable.

A nuclear Iran will have devastating consequences for Sunni Arab states, too. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, and, most recently, Jordan have declared their interest in acquiring nuclear power; Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has stated explicitly that Egypt may feel the need to protect itself against Iran's nuclear threat. Other Sunni nations could follow — including Libya, whose enmity toward the Saudis may draw it back into the nuclear race if Riyadh tries to acquire a bomb. A nuclear free-for-all, then, is likely to seize the Middle East. In this crisis-ridden region, any flashpoint will become a potential nuclear flashpoint.

The reverberations of a nuclear Iran will reach far beyond the Middle East. Tehran could dictate the price of oil and even control much of its supply through the Straits of Hermuz. And Iran will be able to conduct terrorist operations through its proxies with greater immunity. Even without the nuclear threat, Iran succeeded in intimidating the Saudis into releasing Iranian suspects in the 1997 Khobar Towers bombing. Moreover, if Tehran goes nuclear, the pretense of an international community capable of enforcing world order would quickly unravel: After all, if a regime that has perpetrated terrorist attacks from Argentina to the Persian Gulf can flout sanctions and acquire nuclear weapons, how can the United Nations credibly stop anyone else from doing the same?


And these terrifying scenarios exclude the most terrifying scenario of all: Iran uses its bomb. In a poll, 66 percent of Israelis said they believed Iran would drop a nuclear weapon on the Jewish state. Though defense experts are divided over the likelihood of an Iranian nuclear attack, every strategist we spoke with for this article considered the scenario plausible. "No one knows if Iran would use the bomb or not," says Sneh. "But I can't take the chance."

The threat of a theologically motivated nuclear assault against Israel tends to be downplayed in the West; not so here. The former head of Israel's National Security Council, Giora Eiland, has warned that an apocalyptically driven Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would be willing to sacrifice half his country's population to obliterate the Jewish state. Military men suddenly sound like theologians when explaining the Iranian threat. Ahmadinejad, they argue, represents a new "activist" strain of Shiism, which holds that the faithful can hasten the return of the Hidden Imam, the Shia messiah, by destroying evil. Hebrew University Iranian scholar Eldad Pardo goes further, arguing that the ideology founded by Ayatollah Khomeini represents nothing less than a "new religion," combining Shia, Sunni, and Marxist beliefs and resembling Western messianic cults that have advocated mass suicide. And so Ahmadinejad's pronouncements about the imminent return of the Hidden Imam and the imminent destruction of Israel aren't regarded as merely calculated for domestic consumption; they are seen as glimpses into an apocalyptic game plan. Ahmadinejad has reportedly told his Cabinet that the Hidden Imam will reappear in 2009 — precisely the date when Israel estimates Iran will go nuclear. In a recent meeting with outgoing U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the Iranian president predicted that, while the United States and Great Britain won the last world war, Iran will win the next one. And, two weeks ago, an Iranian government website declared that the Hidden Imam would defeat his archenemy in a final battle in Jerusalem. Notes one former top-ranking Israeli defense official: "We may not yet have located a clear theological line connecting the dots, but there are a great many dots." At least one ayatollah, though, has made that theology explicit: In 2005, Hussein Nuri Hamdani declared that "the Jews should be fought against and forced to surrender to prepare the way for the coming of the Hidden Imam."

Defense experts readily acknowledge that Ahmadinejad is hardly all-powerful and must yield to the Council of Guardians. In recent elections, almost all the clerics allied with Ahmadinejad lost; and, in an unprecedented move, 150 Iranian parliamentarians signed a letter blaming the president for growing inflation and unemployment. But none of this reassures Israelis. That's because Ahmadinejad is hardly alone in conjuring doomsday scenarios. In February 2006, clerics in Qom issued a fatwa permitting nuclear war. And former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, speaking at a 2001 "Jerusalem Day" rally, declared: "If, one day, the Islamic world is also equipped with weapons like those that Israel possesses now, then the imperialists' strategy will reach a standstill, because the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroy everything. However, it will only harm the Islamic world. It is not irrational to contemplate such an eventuality."

Given these nightmarish scenarios, one would expect to find a mood of near-despair within the Israeli defense establishment. Yet senior officials believe that events are actually working in Israel's favor and that, one way or another, Iran's nuclear program can still be stopped. Partly, that is because Israel's assessments of Iran's intention to acquire nuclear weapons have finally been accepted not only by Washington but even by the Europeans. After years of isolation on the Iranian issue, Israelis are basking in a rare moment of international credibility.

As a result, some in the defense establishment are convinced that the military option can still be forestalled, even at this late date, by aggressive economic sanctions, forcing the Iranian regime to choose between its nuclear program and domestic stability. To be sure, even the most optimistic Israelis believe that the recent U.N. decision to impose minimal sanctions on Iran will prove ineffective. Indeed, those sanctions — intended to prevent nuclear materials and know-how from reaching Iran and to stop its nuclear program from becoming self-sufficient — are uniformly dismissed as coming at least two years too late, since Iran is rapidly approaching nuclear self-sufficiency and, some here believe, may have already reached that point.

But sanctions advocates do believe that, by formally placing Iran in the category of "threat to international peace," the United Nations has tacitly empowered the United States and its allies to pursue more aggressive sanctions that could trigger Iranian instability — such as the Bush administration's quiet efforts over the last year to force foreign banks out of Tehran. Combined with Iran's preexisting social and economic problems — massive hidden unemployment, widespread corruption, and growing drug addiction and prostitution — and hatred for the regime among students and the middle class, aggressive sanctions could, some Israelis believe, hasten regime change in Tehran by forcing the Iranian people to pay the price for their leaders' provocations. And, with regime change, of course, the threat posed by an Iranian bomb would ease: After all, the problem isn't the nuclearization of Iran but the nuclearization of this Iran. The very threat of additional sanctions has already led to drastic increases in food and housing prices in Tehran — and may have emboldened those parliamentarians who signed the recent protest letter to Ahmadinejad. "The Iranians are a very proud people," says one Israeli official with years of experience inside Iran. "They won't be able to bear being turned into pariahs, and that will increase their resentment toward the regime."

Along with sanctions, some Israeli officials call for a robust but nonviolent U.S. intervention in internal Iranian politics — funding the Iranian opposition, transforming U.S. broadcasts in Farsi into "Radio Free Iran," reaching Farsi audiences through the Internet, and more aggressively challenging the Iranian government on its human rights abuses. Israeli advocates of regime change have been pressing Washington to adopt these policies for years and can't understand why even the Bush administration has demurred. "No one is saying not to plan for military action," says the official with experience in Iran. "But, given the devastating consequences of a military strike, why aren't we giving this a chance?"

Skeptics of sanctions note that the time frame is too narrow and the stakes too high for Israel to place its hopes on long-term regime change. They insist that the international community is incapable of mounting effective sanctions, which would almost certainly be violated by Russia and China. Yes, they acknowledge, the ayatollahs' regime is in trouble and will eventually fall — but not soon enough. Indeed, optimists have been predicting imminent regime change for over a decade; and, when failed reformer Mohammed Khatami became president in 1997, some in the West declared that regime change had already begun. But Iran's leaders know how to defend themselves against opponents: When bus drivers organized a wildcat strike last year, the leader was arrested and his tongue was cut off.

For those Israelis who are skeptical of sanctions, there is the option of last resort: a military strike. Experts readily acknowledge the complexity of an attack against Iran's nuclear facilities, since they are scattered over dozens of sites, many heavily fortified and deep underground. But an attack on three key sites — especially the uranium-enrichment facility at Natanz — would set back Iranian plans by several years. It would not be necessary, the former top-ranking defense official says, to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities: By repeatedly hitting their entrances, the sites could be rendered inaccessible. At the same time, Israel would probably bomb key government installations, like Revolutionary Guard bases, to weaken the regime's ability to recover. While the Iranian people are likely to initially rally around the government, the combined effect of a military attack and economic sanctions could trigger an eventual uprising, suggests the former defense official. Periodic air strikes, he adds, would impede attempts to rebuild the nuclear sites.

Defense experts downplay the possibility of secret facilities unknown to Western intelligence agencies. "If we can locate a suicide bomber as he moves from place to place, then we know how to locate static targets, even deep underground," says the former defense official. Nor are those facilities as impenetrable as some foreign news reports suggest. Noted Yuval Steinitz, former chairman of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee: "The Iranians are signaling us that the nuclear project is vulnerable. Whoever spends several billion dollars just for anti-aircraft systems around nuclear sites is saying that those sites are vulnerable. There would be no need to invest those sums if their bunkers were deep enough [to avoid an air strike]."

The Israeli air force has been actively preparing for an attack since 1993, enhancing the range of its bombers and acquiring the requisite bunker-busting ordnance. "Technically, we have the ability" to strike key facilities, a former commander of the air force told us. While the army's reputation was battered during the Lebanon war, the air force, by contrast, performed well, routinely destroying Hezbollah's long-range missile sites within less than five minutes following a launch.

Despite a recent report in the London Sunday Times that Israel is planning a tactical nuclear attack on Iran's nuclear sites, Israel will almost certainly not introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East battlefield. The story, likely planted and then promptly denied, was probably part of an ongoing Israeli attempt to accomplish two objectives: to warn the international community that, if it fails to stop Iran through sanctions, then "crazy Israel" will be unleashed; and to prevent the Iranian crisis from turning into an Israeli issue alone.

An Israeli assault could only delay Iran's nuclear program, not eliminate it. That's because Israel cannot sustain an air campaign against such remote targets for days on end. This can only be accomplished by the United States, perhaps together with nato allies, by mounting an ongoing series of air strikes similar to the "shock and awe" campaign conducted against Iraq at the beginning of the war. Israelis, though, are divided over the likelihood of U.S. military action. Some experts believe President Bush will attack, if only to prevent being recorded by history as a leader who fought the wrong war while failing to fight the right one. Others speculate that a politically devastated Bush will leave the resolution of the Iranian crisis to his successor.

If Israel is forced, by default, to strike, it is likely to happen within the next 18 months. An attack needs to take place before the nuclear facilities become radioactive; waiting too long could result in massive civilian casualties. Still, Israel will almost certainly wait until it becomes clear that sanctions have failed and that the United States or nato won't strike. The toughest decision, then, will be timing: determining that delicate moment when it becomes clear that the international community has failed but before the facilities turn lethal.

Israel will alert Washington before a strike: "We won't surprise the Americans, given the likelihood of Iranian reprisals against American troops in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East," says an analyst close to the intelligence community. U.S. permission will be needed if Israel chooses to send its planes over Iraqi air space — and the expectation here is that permission would be granted. (Israel has two other possible attack routes, both problematic: over Turkish air space and along the Saudi-Iraqi border to the Persian Gulf.) Still, according to the former air force commander, if Israel decides to act, "We will act alone, not as emissaries of anyone else."

Regardless of whether Israeli or other Western forces carry out the strike, Iran will almost certainly retaliate against the Jewish state. Experts disagree, though, about the extent of the Iranian onslaught and Israel's ability to withstand it. Some say that, though Iranian missiles will strike Israeli cities and Hezbollah Katyushas and Hamas Qassams will fall in massive numbers, Israel's anti-ballistic and civil defense systems, combined with its retaliatory capability, will suffice to contain the threat. Optimists also downplay Iran's ability to mount terrorist attacks in the West: September 11 has produced an unprecedented level of cooperation among Western intelligence services, and they are monitoring sleeper cells as well as Iranian diplomats, who are believed to have used their privileged access to smuggle explosives.

The pessimists' scenario, though, is daunting. Not only could Iranian missiles — perhaps carrying chemical warheads — devastate Israeli cities, but, if the Syrians join in, then thousands of additional long-range missiles will fall, too. And, if Israel retaliates by bombing Damascus, that could trigger public demands in other Arab countries to join the war against Israel. The result could be a conventional threat to Israel's existence.

That scenario leads some in the security establishment to call for renewed peace talks with Syria, aimed at removing it from the pro-Iranian front. The growing debate over Syria positions the Mossad — which says it's no longer possible to separate Damascus from Tehran — against military intelligence, which believes that President Bashar Assad wants negotiations with Israel, if only to divert the threat of sanctions against Damascus for its alleged role in murdering Lebanese leaders.

There is no debate among Israelis, however, about the wisdom of negotiations between the West and Iran. That, defense officials agree, would be the worst of all options. Negotiations that took place now would be happening at a time when Iran feels ascendant: The time to have negotiated with Iran, some say, was immediately after the initial U.S. triumph in Iraq, not now, when the United States is losing the war. Under these circumstances, negotiations would only buy the regime time to continue its nuclear program. Talks would create baseless hope, undermining the urgency of sanctions. And resuming negotiations with the Iranian regime — despite its repeated bad faith in previous talks over its nuclear program — would send the wrong message to the Iranian people: that the regime has international legitimacy and that resisting it is futile.

Hovering over Israeli discourse about a nuclear Iran is the recent Holocaust-denial conference in Tehran — and what Israelis regard as the scandalously inadequate international response. While the conference was condemned in the West, Israelis expected the international community to treat it as something more than a bizarre sideshow. Indeed, for Israelis, the conference offered the clearest warning yet on the true nature of the Iranian threat to the Jewish state.

In denying the Holocaust, Ahmadinejad aims to undermine what he believes to be the sole justification for Israel's existence. In the years before World War II, Nazi propagandists prepared Europe for the Final Solution by dehumanizing the Jews; now, Ahmadinejad is preparing the Muslim world for the destruction of the Jewish state by delegitimizing its history. And not just the Muslim world: Holocaust denial is also aimed at the West, which many Muslims believe supports Israel only because of Holocaust guilt. Strip away that guilt, and Israel is defenseless. "The resolution of the Holocaust issue will end in the destruction of Israel," commented Mohammad Ali Ramin, head of a new Iranian government institute devoted to Holocaust denial.

The French philosopher André Glucksmann has noted that, by threatening to destroy Israel and by attaining the means to do so, Iran violates the twin taboos on which the post-World War II order was built: never again Auschwitz; never again Hiroshima. The international community now has an opportunity to uphold that order. If it fails, then Israel will have no choice but to uphold its role as refuge of the Jewish people. A Jewish state that allows itself to be threatened with nuclear weapons — by a country that denies the genocide against Europe's six million Jews while threatening Israel's six million Jews — will forfeit its right to speak in the name of Jewish history. Fortunately, even the government of Ehud Olmert, widely criticized as incompetent and corrupt, seems to understand that, on this issue at least, it cannot fail.
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Thursday, January 18, 2007

DOOMESDAY CLOCK MOVES FORWARD

World Closer Than Ever To Nuclear Armageddon - Scientists Added: Jan 17th, 2007 9:21 AM



By Rupert Cornwell in Washington

Today the Doomsday Clock, devised by the Chicago-based Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in 1947 at the dawn of the nuclear age, will make official what most thinking citizens feel in their bones - that the world has edged closer to nuclear Armageddon than at any time since the most precarious moments of the Cold War in the early 1980s.

At 2.30pm, simultaneous events will take place in London and Washington at which the symbolic clock will be moved forward from its present seven minutes to midnight, where it has stood since 2002.

The reasons for the time being advanced five years ago were crumbling arms control treaties and a terrorist threat brought into shattering relief by 9/11. At the start of 2007, not only is the picture darker on both those scores.

The nuclear threat has also acquired an added and unquantifiable dimension, thanks to global warming - prompting the Bulletin to warn of a "Second Nuclear Age". The existing dangers could not be more obvious: the problem is where to start.

What about Iran's quest for nuclear weapons, and the thinly veiled warnings from the undeclared but assumed nuclear power Israel that it will strike first to remove what it sees as an existentialist threat comparable to the Holocaust? Or the nuclear test last year by North Korea, a member of George Bush's "axis of evil", which could have neighbouring Japan and South Korea seeking protection with nuclear weapons of their own?

Or the nuclear arsenal of unstable Pakistan, where Islamic extremists have staged several assassination attempts against President Pervez Musharraf?Or - perhaps the greatest danger of all - that having visited conventional terror on an unprecedented scale upon New York City on 11 September 2001, al Qaeda or some similar organisation will either get hold of a ready-made nuclear device or build one of its own, and then use it? And why not?

Grave doubts surround Russia's ability to secure its nuclear materials, many of them dating from the Soviet era, and to prevent its nuclear scientists from selling their skills to the highest bidder. If a terrorist group did explode even a crude dirty bomb (and the US claims to have disrupted such plots) the taboo that has prevented states from using nuclear weapons in anger since 1945, might be broken.

And in this new nuclear age, the deterrence doctrine of "mutually assured destruction", or MAD, that kept the Cold War cold, would not apply. The US and Russia may have 2,000 launch-ready weapons between them - but these would be of no more use against an amorphous terrorist group than Israel's nuclear arsenal against the Palestinians.

Even so, a threshold would have been crossed and a regional, even generalised nuclear war, would become conceivable. In 1947, the Doomsday Clock was first set at seven minutes to midnight, exactly where it has stood since 2002. On the Bulletin's reckoning, the planet's closest brush thus far with Armageddon came in 1953, when the clock's hand moved to two minutes to midnight after the US and the Soviet Union testedhydrogen bombs within nine months of each other.

Thereafter the clock has tracked the chills and thaws of the Cold War, and the successive arrival of Britain, France, China, India and Pakistan as recognised nuclear powers. The hand reached its "safest" point - 17 minutes to Armageddon - in 1991 when the US and the soon-to-disappear Soviet Union signed the START treaty, and that year's Gulf War, driving Saddam Hussein from Kuwait, seemed to herald an era when the great powers could work together under the auspices of the UN.

The 2003 Iraq invasion destroyed any such illusions. Once there were five proven nuclear powers. Now there are nine.

Global warming, argues the Bulletin, indirectly increases this risk. Civil nuclear power, which directly produces no greenhouse gases, is back in fashion and hundreds of nuclear reactors will be built soon, to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Yet enriched uranium, to power them, and plutonium are also the vital raw materials for nuclear weapons.

In this Second Nuclear Age, there will be more of these deadly commodities around. Small wonder the hand on the Doomsday Clock will move towards midnight. The only question is, how close will it get?
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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

MT.HERMON:GATE OF FALLEN ANGELS

Mount Hermon: Gate of the Fallen Angels - by J. R. Church - www.prophecyinthenews.com

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, Hermon means "Forbidden Place." Jerome (4th-century translator of the Latin Vulgate Bible) interpreted Hermon as "anathema." Mount Hermon was the port of entry for a group of wicked angels, who corrupted the human race in the days of Noah. Moses wrote: "The sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose …. There were giants in the earth in those days, and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown" (Gen. 6:1-4).

We have discussed these "Nephilim" in previous issues, but in this article, I want to add some things that you may not have heard before. For example, there is a rabbinical remark about this story in an ancient Jewish commentary, in which two rabbis add the following insight:

"Rabbi Jose says, following a tradition, that these [Nephilim] were Uzza and Azazel, whom, God deprived of their supernal sanctity. How, it may be asked, can they exist in this world? Rabbi Hiya answers, that they were of a class of spirits referred to in the words, 'and birds which fly on the earth' (Gen 1:20), and these, as we have said, appear to men in the form of human beings. If it is asked, how can they transform themselves? The answer is, that they do, in fact, transform themselves into all kinds of shapes, because when they come down from heaven they become as concrete as air and take human shape. These are Uzza and Azazel, who rebelled in heaven, and were cast down by God, and became corporeal on the earth and remained on it, not being able to divest themselves of their earthly form. Subsequently, they went astray after women, and up to this day they exist and teach men the arts of magic. They begat children whom they called Anakim (giants), while the Nephilim themselves were called 'sons of God'" (Zohar, vol. 1, p. 186).

Note that one rabbi alluded to a class of spirits described as "birds" in Genesis 1:20. Perhaps this was the origin of the story that angels had bird-like wings. To this day, white Doves are symbolic of good, while black crows are typical of evil. It should also be noted that birds seem to have a reptilian connection. The Phoenix was depicted as an eagle in the West, but in the East, it was a winged dragon. From ancient lore, Satan was thought to be somewhat of a gargoyle with bat-like wings.

The Book of Enoch

The apocryphal Book of Enoch enlarges upon the story of the Nephilim. First, let me give you a little background on this mysterious book. Scholars have traced its origin back past the first century:

"In the early literature of the church there is a whole chain of evidences to this effect. Nearly all of the church [leaders] knew of an apocryphal Book of Enoch. Among the Apostolic [leaders], the Epistle of Barnabas refers to such a work. From that time on to about the seventh-century, Christian literature produces ample proof of the constant use and high standing of this book. The early theologians Justin Martyr, Clemens of Alexandria, Origen, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Eusebius, Jerome, Hilary, Epiphanius, Augustine, and others refer to and use it … following the example of Jude, whose citation is taken from Enoch 1:9. They all, with possibly the one dissenting voice of Tertullian, deny the canonicity of this book, and properly regard it as apocryphal; some going even so far as to deny the canonicity of Jude because he had dared to quote an apocryphal work" (George H. Schodde, Nov. 21, 1881, General Introduction to the Book of Enoch).

The following is quoted from the Book of Enoch:

"And it came to pass, after the children of men had increased in those days, beautiful and comely daughters were born to them. "And the angels, the sons of the heavens, saw and lusted after them, and said one to another: 'Behold, we will choose for ourselves wives from among the children of men, and will beget for ourselves children.'

"And they descended on Ardîs, which is the summit of Mount Hermon; and they called it Mount Hermon, because they had sworn on it and bound themselves mutually by a curse" (Enoch 6:1-6).

Of all places on this planet where angels could have descended, it was on the northern border of the Promised Land. Perhaps knowing something about God's future plans to give territory to Abraham's descendants, these angels plotted their strategy to introduce "the seed of the serpent" into the human race. Also, Mount Hermon lay in the territory where Ham and his family migrated after God's judgment at the Tower of Babel. According to Genesis 10:6, Ham had four sons: "And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan" (Gen. 10:6).

Canaan settled in the area of Mount Hermon and southward into the territory that was to become Abraham's Promised Land. This is why the Promised Land was called "Canaan" in the days of Moses and Joshua. Mizraim continued to move southward into Egypt. Coincidentally, Mount Hermon has three peaks, and Ham's family encountered another set of "three peaks" that had been built before the Flood (those being three great pyramids). Evidently, Mizraim was fascinated by the pyramids and developed a system of worship based on those ancient structures. Cush and Phut continued the family migration southward and settled in Ethiopia and parts of Southern Africa.

To this day, Mount Hermon is still the place where evil continually rains down upon Israel. It is the area of the Syrians, and Hezbollah. The Book of Enoch continues:

"And they took unto themselves wives, and each chose for himself one, and they began to go in to them, and mixed with them, and taught them charms and conjurations, and made them acquainted with the cutting of roots and of woods. And they became pregnant and brought forth great giants whose stature was three thousand ells. These devoured all the acquisitions of mankind till men were unable to sustain themselves. And the giants turned themselves against mankind in order to devour them" (Enoch 7:1-4).

It seems that these fallen angels (the Nephilim) contaminated almost all life on earth. We do not know how many people were contaminated, but we are told that at least Noah's family remained genetically pure. For that reason, God destroyed the world with a Flood. Had it not been for Noah and his three sons, those fallen angels might have brought an end to all life on the planet. Noah, Shem, Ham and Japheth helped save the animals and repopulate the earth.

God Judged the Angels

Both Peter and Jude added further insight about these fallen angels. Peter said, "God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; and spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly" (II Peter 2:4,5).

Jude put it this way: "The angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day" (Jude 6). Both passages tell of severe punishment upon the Nephilim. Yet, Moses said that "sons of God" reappeared after the Flood (Gen. 6:4). How can this be? Well, the Book of Enoch only mentioned 200 angels, and Satan was not among them. Bear in mind, Satan's forces were much larger then a mere 200. Perhaps the original group of Nephilim were scouts for a much larger force of demonic angels who, under the leadership of Satan, came to earth after the Flood. It seems to me that the Tower of Babel (meaning "Gate to God") may have been built in an effort to contact these dark forces and forge a defense against the threat of another judgment. As noted in the Zohar (above) Rabbi Hiya said, "… to this day they exist and teach men the arts of magic."

As noted above, Genesis 6:4 adds, "… and after that" — meaning that more Nephilim returned to this area after the Flood and established what Joshua called the "land of giants." Moses and Joshua conquered those giants, of whom, Og was king. Moses wrote that Og's bed was almost 15 feet long! (Deut. 3:11-13). Og reigned in Mount Hermon. Joshua wrote:

"And the coast of Og king of Bashan, which was of the remnant of the giants, that dwelt at Ashtaroth and at Edrei, "And reigned in mount Hermon, and in Salcah, and in all Bashan, unto the border of the Geshurites and the Maachathites, and half Gilead, the border of Sihon king of Heshbon. "Them did Moses the servant of the LORD and the children of Israel smite" (Joshua 12:4-6).

The tribe of Dan moved to this area during the days of the Judges, and adopted the Canaanite worship of these angels. It was an ancient idolatry that opposed the worship of Jehovah. In fact, Baal and Ashtaroth were Canaanite deities, whose origin was Mount Hermon! The book of Judges even calls Mount Hermon "Baalhermon," saying: "Namely, five lords of the Philistines, and all the Canaanites, and the Sidonians, and the Hivites that dwelt in mount Lebanon, from mount Baalhermon unto the entering in of Hamath" (Judges 3:3).

Furthermore, the fallen angels living on and around Mount Hermon adopted a biblical name for the mountain. They had the audacity to plagiarize a name that God had given to Mount Moriah — Mount Sion! Moses wrote:

"And they possessed his [Sihon's] land, and the land of Og king of Bashan, two kings of the Amorites, which were on this side Jordan toward the sun rising; From Aroer, which is by the bank of the river Arnon, even unto Mount Sion, which is Hermon" (Deut. 4:47,48).

Sion means "lofty," whereas, Zion means "stronghold." It is evident that Satan was pushing for a counterfeit of God's plan for man's redemption. The devil was determined to replace the "seed" of the woman with the "seed" of the serpent.

In a book entitled, The Gods of the Lodge, author Reginald C. Haupt, Jr., described what he found during his trip to Mount Hermon: "In the excavations of Baalbek, renamed Heliopolis by the Greeks, temples were uncovered honoring Baal and Bachus. The same is true of the site at Sidon. The Temple there is named the Temple of Baal of Sidon. But by far, of greater importance was the temple of Baal found on Mt. Hermon. Perhaps it would be more meaningful to you if I [Reginald Haupt] quote direct from my source. In the 1982 edition of the Thompson Chain Reference Bible (Fourth Improved Edition), the archaeological supplement was provided by G. Fredrick Owen, D.D., Ed.D. Dr. Owen wrote on page 376 of his supplement the following: "Mount Hermon, the 'chief' of the mountains of Palestine is five miles wide and twenty miles long. It has three peaks, the tallest of which is 9,166 feet above the Mediterranean Sea. For centuries before Abraham's time, the mountain had been venerated in connection with Baal.

"Baal worship was the leading religion of Canaan. On most of the high peaks of the country were shrines known as 'high places,' the higher the holier. Here groves were planted and shrines erected for worship. Since Mount Hermon towered above all the other mountains in the region, it was the chief high place, the shrine of shrines. Canaanites looked to Mount Hermon much as the Moslems face Mecca when they pray.

"During the summer of 1934, Dr. Stewart Crawford and this writer [Reginald Haupt] led a small expedition, in which we studied the ancient Baal shrines surrounding Mount Hermon. We located many ruins and in each case the shrine was so oriented that when the priests and the devotees were at the altar, they faced the chief Baal sanctuary, or Quibla, located on the highest of the three peaks of Hermon.

"We then ascended the mountain and found the ruined temple of Baal, constructed of Herodian masonry, which dated it to just previous to and during the early Christian era. In a low place near the northwest corner of the temple, we excavated and found loads of ash and burnt bone, which had been dumped there as a refuse from sacrifices" (Reginald C. Haupt, Jr., The Gods of the Lodge, p. 126). During the ministry of Jesus, He and His disciples visited Caesarea Philippi (see cover photo) where the Jordan River springs forth from the slopes of Mount Hermon. In the cover photo, one can see the grotto and cave where Baal worship was in full swing. While observing these shrines, Jesus posed the question: "Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?" (Matt. 16:13). Jesus was standing in the territory of His great enemy, Satan, and his idolatrous Nephilim. It was the area out of which the Antichrist would arise.

The French Connection

In 1666, Louis XIV of France, authorized the building of an observatory in Paris to measure longitude. This was the beginning of the Paris Zero Meridian. Believe it or not, according to the "Paris Zero Meridian" Mount Hermon (and the ancient territory of Dan) is located at the 33 degrees east of the Paris Zero Meridian (longitude), and 33 degrees north of the Equator (latitude)! The 33rd degree became an important part of Freemasonry, probably due to a history that dates back to the Knights Templar, the French Merovingian Dynasty, and their family ties to the Danites (see our chapter on Dan in Guardians of the Grail).

However, the British would not be outdone. In 1675, England's first Astronomer Royal, Sir Flamsteed, established a Prime Meridian in London to rival the one in Paris. In 1725, Edmund Halley, the second Astronomer Royal established a second Meridian. In the mid-18th century, another Astronomer Royal, James Bradley, established a third. And in 1851, another Astronomer Royal, Sir George Airy, set up new measuring equipment in a room alongside Bradley's original equipment (just 19 feet away), which eventually became the basis for international time.

It soon became clear that the world needed to adopt a worldwide standard for the Zero Meridian, so in 1884, 25 countries met in Washington, DC, and voted to accept Airy's meridian at London's Greenwich Observatory as the Prime Meridian. France abstained from the vote. The French held to the Paris Zero Meridian as a rival to Greenwich until 1911 for timekeeping purposes and 1914 for navigation. To this day, French cartographers continue to indicate the Paris Meridian on some maps.

In the opening years of the twentieth century, a booklet appeared in Russia by the title, "The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Sion." It was touted as the exposure of a Jewish plot to rule the world. However, its Masonic connection is obvious. The booklet ends with the statement: "Signed by the representatives of Sion of the 33rd Degree" (Michael Baigent, Holy Blood Holy Grail, p. 193). Note that the name "Sion" is spelled with an "S" rather than a "Z." The connection with Mount Hermon is obvious.

The Tribe of Dan

Jacob prophesied that Dan would be "a serpent by the way, an adder in the path" (Gen. 49:17), and Moses prophesied, "Dan is a lion's whelp: he shall leap from Bashan" (Deut. 33:22). These two prophecies are remarkable, in that they connect Dan with the "seed of the serpent," from which the Antichrist will emerge to claim the title "lion of Judah."

In the book of Judges the Danites relocated to the northern reaches of the Promised Land. They settled at the foot of Mount Hermon in the territory of Bashan, and adopted the idolatrous Canaanite religion of Baal and Ashtaroth. Eventually, they left for parts unknown and became the proverbial "Lost Tribe."

However, the Danaans (i.e., Spartans) of the Greece, established the same religious practices that the Danites had developed on Mount Hermon. Greek Mythology is an elaborate reinvention of the Danite religion. The Spartans invented a "messenger of the gods" and called him Hermes (a variation of Hermon), whom the Romans called Mercury. Supposedly, Hermes had a son named Pan. The name "Pan" could be a corruption of the name "Dan." Today, the Arabs call Caesarea Philippi "Banias," but that is because there is no "P" sound in Arabic. The older form was "Paneas" (meaning "city of Pan") from "Paneion." The name comes from Pan, the pagan god who was worshiped there. Niches for Pan's statues can still be seen. Observe the niches and cave/grotto in the cover photo. In 4 B.C., this area became the tetrarchy of Herod's son Philippus, who renamed Paneas as Caesarea Philippi. This name continued until the reign of Nero. The name Pan means "All things, all gods, or all life." Therefore, when the Romans built a domed temple to commemorate all their gods, they named it the "Pantheon." It is a combination of two root words, "Pan," standing for the son of Hermes (Mercury) and "theo" meaning "gods." It is clear that Mount Hermon, with its infamous "fallen angels" found its way into the mythologies of many ancient cultures.

Solomon also had something remarkable to say about Mount Hermon: "Come with me from Lebanon, my spouse, with me from Lebanon: look from the top of Amana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon, from the lions' dens, from the mountains of the leopards" (Song of Solomon 4:8).

Here, Solomon mentioned a "lion's den" and "the mountains of the leopards." This may be a reference to the prophecy made by Moses, calling Dan a "lion's whelp" (Deut. 33:22). It seems that Solomon was aware of the Danite connection to Mount Hermon and used the metaphor of the Danite "lion's den." When the Danites first arrived in Northern Israel, they conquered the village of Laish (meaning "lion") and renamed it "Dan." The book of Judges reports: "And they called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father, who was born unto Israel: howbeit the name of the city was Laish at the first" (Judges 18:29).

Furthermore, Solomon mentioned the Mount Hermon in connection with "leopards." It is said that Ham's grandson, Nimrod, wore a Leopard skin as a symbol of his kingship. Also, there are paintings of Egyptian Pharaohs adorned with leopard skins. Even some medieval European royals wore leopard skins. An ancient Jewish commentary connected Nimrod's Leopard skins with the coats of skin belonging to Adam and Eve:

"Truly he was a man of might, because he was clad in the garments of Adam, and was able by means of them to lay snares for mankind and beguile them. Rabbi Eleazar said: 'Nimrod used to entice people into idolatrous worship by means of those garments, which enabled him to conquer the world and proclaim himself its ruler, so that mankind offered him worship. He was called Nimrod for the reason that he rebelled against the most high King above, against the higher angels and against the lower angels.'

"Rabbi Simeon said: 'Our colleagues are acquainted with a profound mystery concerning these garments.'" (Zohar, vol. 1, p. 250). In Daniel 7 and Revelation 13, the Antichrist seems to be connected to the metaphoric leopard.

We cannot say with certainty that Adam and Eve wore leopard skins, but there are a number of sources that suggest Nimrod wore a leopard skin. Among them was Alexander Hislop, in his work, The Two Babylons:

"This custom of taming the leopard, and pressing it into the service of man in this way, is traced up to the earliest times of primitive antiquity. In the works of Sir William Jones, we find it stated from the Persian legends, that Hoshang (i.e., Nimrod), the father of Tahmurs, who built Babylon, was the 'first who bred dogs and leopards for hunting.' As Tahmurs, who built Babylon, could be none other than Nimrod, this legend only attributes to his father what, as his name imports, he got the fame of doing himself.

"Now, as the classic god bearing the lion's skin is recognized by that sign as Hercules, the slayer of the Nemean lion, so in like manner, the god clothed in the leopard's skin would naturally be marked out as Nimrod, the "leopard-subduer." That this leopard skin, as appertaining to the Egyptian god, was no occasional thing, we have clearest evidence.

"Wilkinson tells us, that on all high occasions when the Egyptian high priest was called to officiate, it was indispensable that he should do so wearing, as his robe of office, the leopard's skin. "As it is a universal principle in all idolatries that the high priest wears the insignia of the god he serves, this indicates the importance which the spotted skin must have had attached to it as a symbol of the god himself" (Alexander Hislop, The Two Babylons).

The Danite Antichrist

In recent articles, we covered the teaching of the early church theologians, Irenaeus and Hippolytus, who said that the Antichrist would come from the tribe of Dan, based upon Jeremiah 8:16: "The snorting of his horses was heard from Dan: the whole land trembled at the sound of the neighing of his strong ones." We discussed the fact that the Greek king, Alexander the Great, claimed to be born of the "seed of the serpent." And we have discussed the possibility that the Roman Emperor Nero could have descended from the Danites. Well, when Nero ruled the Roman Empire, he renamed Caesarea Philippi in honor of himself. For a while, the site of the ancient Danite city (seen in the cover photo) was called "Neronias" (meaning "city of Nero") (Encyclopedia Judaica, "Banias," p. 162).

Finally, an ancient Jewish Midrash likens Samson to their expected messiah, saying, "Samson in some respects was considered a forerunner of the Messiah who will come from Judah but his mother, according to the Midrash will be of the tribe of Dan" (Yair Davidy, "Dan").

Amazing! The Jews are looking for a messiah whose father is from the royal family of Judah, but whose mother will be from the tribe of Dan!

Those fallen angels who descended to Mount Hermon introduced the "seed of the serpent" into the human race. Evidently, after the Flood, they consorted with members of the tribe of Dan, mixing the "seed of the serpent" into the human genome once again. The first time it happened, God judged the world with water. The next time, it will be by fire.
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Saturday, January 06, 2007

POPE FURTHERS UNION OF WORLD RELIGIONS

Prophecy in the Making: Pope Furthers Union of World Religions - Dr. Robert Congdon

A "'turning point' in relations between Christianity and Islam" is how one commentator described Pope Benedict's recent four-day trip to Turkey.[1] Another saw it as a defining moment "in the papacy of Benedict XVI."[2] While the world's press concentrated on the Pope's attempts to reduce tension between the Muslim world and the Roman Church following his derogatory remarks made in Germany regarding Islam, three "defining' events of lesser note occurred: events that just possibly are forwarding the unification of major religions of the world. Bible prophecy indicates that this latter-day union will guide and direct a one-world government. This unification is symbolized in the book of Revelation by a woman riding a scarlet colored beast (Rev. 17:1-3).

The first defining event occurred when the Pope visited the ancient Biblical city of Ephesus. With the exception of Jerusalem, the New Testament mentions no other city more than Ephesus. It was here that the apostle John ministered to the local church and cared for Mary, the mother of Jesus (John 19:26, 27). As members of the Ephesian church, Aquila and Priscilla helped Apollos to acquire a more complete understanding of the Gospel (Acts 18:24-28); and here the Apostle Paul also ministered, emphasizing the Kingdom of God (Acts 19:8). In later years, Paul wrote to Timothy, the pastor of the church of Ephesus, stressing the need to teach all Scripture.

Paul's warning certainly included those prophecies regarding the Lord's appearing in the air for the Church at the Rapture followed by His Second Coming to earth to establish His future earthly kingdom. He said that in the last days "perilous times shall come." These times will be the days when people will turn to a false religion that offers not only a false hope but also "a form of godliness" while "denying the power thereof." In contrast, those individuals who "love His appearing," will be looking for the Rapture and the future crown of reward that is promised to all believers who "love his appearing" (2 Timothy 4:8). Sadly, a mere thirty years later, God warned the church at Ephesus that they had lost their first love, their zeal for the Lord and the anticipation of seeing Him. Apparently they had turned to false teachers who denied Christ's appearing at the Rapture (Rev. 2:4). This warning is strikingly appropriate today, as many churches are turning from the truths of prophecy.

The Pope's visit to Ephesus was not to emphasize the return of Christ, but to pay homage to the "holy site" where Mary traditionally lived out her last days. He also hoped to strengthen the bond that Roman Catholics share with Muslims regarding Mary, for although many are unaware of it, Islam holds the Virgin Mary in high esteem. It was from Ephesus that Mary supposedly ascended to heaven and here, too, she is said to have appeared to a German nun. The shrine in Ephesus that was built to honor Mary sees "tens of thousands of Christians and Muslims" visiting it each year.[3]

Throughout the world, apparitions of the Roman Catholic Virgin Mary are increasing. Islam and Roman Catholicism are drawing closer together through her shrines and ongoing "appearances." The Marian shrine in Fatima, Portugal, is an ecumenical gathering place for religions from the East as well as the West. Fatima was Mohammad's favorite daughter and of her he said that she is the most honored of women after Mary.[4] Over 4.5 million people of many faiths come to Fatima each year to share a common worship experience, centered upon the mother/child shrine to Mary. This response should not surprise us, for the Bible indicates that in the end times, the focus of the world's religions will be upon a female deity.

Revelation 17 labels this latter-day false goddess "Mystery Babylon the Great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth." Many Bible students hold that the latter-day false religion will be based on a mother/child counterfeit of the promised woman and her seed described in Genesis 3:15. Historical records indicate that through Nimrod at Babel, Satan first introduced Semiramis and her son as the promised "seed." It was here that humanity first turned from the true God and sought to unite world government and religion (Gen. 11). From that day to this, worship of the mother-goddess, first called the "Queen of Heaven," has appeared in many cultures under many different names. The Samarians worshipped her as Ishtar, the Egyptians as Isis, the Greeks as Artemis, and the Romans as Diana. Even Israel fell for the queen of heaven's allurement (Jeremiah 44:17-19, 25).

In Roman times, Ephesus was the center of Artemis/Diana worship.[5] The Ephesians believed that it was here that the "mother goddess of the earth was born."[6] Standing before the people of this city, the Apostle Paul confronted this false mother-goddess worship by using the power of the Word of God; and many turned to the true and living Savior, Jesus Christ (Acts 19:26). The spiritual conflict of that day has not ended, for in today's modern world many worship a Mary that is contrary to the Mary described in the Scriptures. This false Mary may become a new version of the mother-goddess, taking form as a "Global Mary." She may become the catalyst that unites the world's religions into a "supra," one-world religion that will eventually follow the Antichrist. In this role she would fulfill the prophecy regarding "Mystery Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth," found in Revelation 17.

The second defining event of the Pope's journey took place in Istanbul (Constantinople), former capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. It was here, on the holiest day of the Eastern Orthodox calendar, that he held a Mass with Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church. His declared purpose was to "patch an age-old rift between the churches."[7] The split between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches occurred 1000 years ago. The reunification of these two religions would begin the process of re-establishing the "Christian" religion of the ancient Roman Empire. Students of the Bible would recognize this unification as a significant step toward setting the stage for fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. Summarizing the meeting, Bartholomew said: "We can truly say that this Thursday we lived a historic dayÉhistoric for ecumenical dialogueÉhistoric for the relationship between cultures and religions."[8]

The third defining event occurred near Hagia Sofia, a 6th Century Eastern Roman Empire church that was converted to a mosque in 1453 and is now a museum. Only 500 yards from this historical landmark is the functioning Islamic Blue Mosque. Pope Benedict XVI furthered his cause for the reunion of faiths by entering the mosque where, alongside an imam, he boldly turned to face Mecca (the spiritual center of Islam) and prayed silently, thereby winning the praise of many Muslims. The Mufti of Istanbul noted that this two-minute prayer was "even more meaningful than an apology."[9] This event is only the second time in history that a Roman Pope has entered a Muslim house of worship. These three defining events of his trip emphasize Pope Benedict XVI's desire to reconcile three major world religions, Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Islam.

Lastly the Pope made a prophetically significant, though little noticed, statement when he urged the European Union to admit Turkey into EU membership. He described Turkey as being the bridge between Europe and Asia. After first stating that the Vatican has no political power to influence the EU, he urged "Turkey's integration into Europe."[10] Although there may be no official connections between the Vatican and the EU, there are many unofficial ones. These comments by the Pope were intended to counter the EU's rejection of Turkey, based largely on the perceived fear of Islamic terrorism.

The Bible indicates that mankind's final kingdom will arise from the revived Roman Empire, which included the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea (Daniel 2:42). Hence, Turkey's admission would mark the first of many Middle East countries to join the European Union, possibly fulfilling this prophecy. The Vatican's approval could help to overcome the resistance to Turkey's membership. As the world moves toward a one-world government united with a one-world religion, it is important to realize that the details as to just how this union will be accomplished are insignificant when compared to the absolute promise of God that it will indeed happen, for His Word is truthful and trustworthy.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

SEVEN MAJOR PROPHETIC SIGNS OF THE SECOND COMING

Seven Major Prophetic Signs Of The Second Coming (Part 2) - Jack Kelley - www.gracethrufaith.com

4. The Ancient Roman Empire Will Re-Emerge As A Political Force... Rev 17:9-10

"This calls for a mind with wisdom. The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits. They are also seven kings. Five have fallen, one is, the other has not yet come; but when he does come, he must remain for a little while." (This one is a little obscure if you don't know your history. When John was writing this, about 95AD, there had been five great world powers; Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, and Greece. All were conquered and absorbed. The current power was Rome, which was never really conquered and will re-emerge at the end of the age, according to Daniel 9:26.)

Daniel 2:36-45 describes Gentile Dominion from Daniel's time forward (Egypt and Assyria had already fallen) in the form of a giant statue. Read it carefully and you'll find some interesting things in the description of the feet of iron mixed with clay, representing the revived Roman Empire of our time. In the first place the two don't mix. We can imagine sticky clay serving as glue sticking pieces of iron together, but the language describes a clay that's made of dust and already baked... hard and brittle like shards of pottery. You can't make random pieces of iron and pottery adhere. They'll keep falling apart.

In 2005 the EU constitution vote was defeated as one more example of how the EU has had trouble sticking together just as Daniel prophesied. Half-hearted efforts to revive it in 2006 bore no fruit. When Germany takes over the EU Presidency in 2007, look for another, more serious attempt to get the constitution passed. Remember the common currency issue a few years ago? Each one of these controversial steps has nearly driven the EU to its knees, but each time it has recovered. One day soon the EU will assume its destiny as the leading world power for the End of the Age.

In the mean time the Western European Union (WEU) a 10 nation confederacy of the only permanent and fully vested members of the EU has assumed responsibility for creating its military arm, based on its Recommendation 666, passed earlier. And in January 2007 the EU's European Neighborhood Plan (ENP) takes effect. It's a seven-year treaty that brings 12 Middle Eastern countries including Israel and the Palestinian Authority into economic cooperation with the EU. The EU's Javier Solana has been fighting to get this program off the ground for years, and its coming implementation has made him the current favorite among those looking for the anti-Christ.

5. The World Will Embrace A Single Religion... Rev 13:8

All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast--all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.

The one world religion idea has been around for most of our generation, often under the guise of ecumenism. As the liberal denominations continue watering down their theology there are fewer things keeping them apart. Now some Evangelical leaders are questioning whether Jesus is really the only way to salvation. The flirtation between certain Evangelical groups and the Catholic Church is interesting, as is the dialog between the Pope and Leaders of Islam, and their common devotion to Mary. The Catholic Church is one of the richest organizations on the planet with over 1 billion members on 6 continents, and clearly thinks of itself as the world's dominant religious group. It's no secret that the Catholic church is posturing itself to be a major player in End times events.

But make no mistake about it. The rise of radical Islam is the chief threat to world peace today and their goal is nothing less than world domination. Their god is not the God of the Bible, and their fight with Jews and Christians actually began in the 7th Century AD when the Jews rejected Mohammed's offer of consolidation. Prior to that time he had counseled his followers to respect and befriend the Jewish people, but when they refused to join his religion, he declared jihad (holy war) against them. Christians were included 400 years later as a result of the Crusades.

Currently nearly one out of five inhabitants of the world is Moslem, and like most Christians and Jews don't really know what they believe or why. Ignorance and misinformation are primary tools of the devil so I would urge all thinking people to really study the origin and goals of Islam. It will soon be the world's most popular religion, and after the removal of Evangelical Christians in the Rapture could easily be the foundation on which the one world religion is built.

In 2 Thes. 2:7 Paul wrote that the secret power of lawlessness was already at work in the world but that the One who holds it back would continue to do so until He is taken out of the way (out of the midst). Understand that Paul wasn't referring to man's disregard for the law here, but rather to his refusal to accept the truth. In New Testament Greek the word for unbelief is also translated disobedience. God's view is that there's just too much clear evidence of His existence for anyone not to believe in Him. Therefore so-called unbelievers are really disobeying by refusing to believe.

In 1 Tim 4:1 Paul warned us of the doctrines of demons and in 2 Tim 4:3-4 of the growing popularity of mythology as being part and parcel of this end times religion. This is the lawlessness Paul was writing about. Having rejected the truth, those left after the Rapture will be ripe for the Great Lie of 2 Thes 2:9 to fill the need every man has to believe in something greater than himself. All it will take is for a charismatic religious leader to emerge, a leader powerful enough to bring all those who are left behind into one counterfeit religion.

Much has been written this year about al Mahdi, a manifestation of Moslem prophecy that is strikingly similar to Christian prophecies of the anti-Christ. Both come on the scene during a time of great turmoil on Earth, both come claiming a desire to restore peace, both have a seven year reign, both head a one world religion and one world government, both claim supernatural origins, and both reigns end in a battle between good and evil that brings about Earth's final judgment. Some students of prophecy remind us that the Roman Empire had an Eastern component composed of the very countries whose people are the most militant advocates of Islam today, and that the anti-Christ could easily come from there.

Islam is the world's fastest growing religion and is second only to Christianity in number of adherents. But the true Church will soon be gone in the Rapture. The remnant, with its celebration of pluralism and its inclusive view of the way to salvation will be ripe for conversion. Add the widely held but incorrect beliefs that God and Allah are the same, and that Islam is a religion of peace, and you can see how Islam could be the straw that a world on the verge of chaos grasps for survival.

6. The World Will Accept A Single Government... Rev 13:3

The whole world was astonished and followed the beast. Earlier, I stated my view that a decline in US strength would be necessary to permit the Battle of Ezekiel to take place. This is also a necessary precursor to the emergence of a one world government.

Last year I said that unless something happened to fracture us again, Evangelicals would become an increasingly powerful voting block as viewpoints become more polarized over conflicting moral values. I also said that the voting power of Evangelicals would, more than any other factor, keep America strong and independent. Well, something did happen. Partly because of media distortion, and partly because of the constant meddling by Iran and Syria, the war in Iraq has become so unpopular that it's driven public opinion to devastating levels of dissatisfaction with the way the current administration is running it. As a result both houses of Congress have changed hands and 2007 could very well see the beginning of our departure from the Middle East entirely.

And a successful attack on the strength of the dollar could eventually sideline us from world affairs entirely. This year the five year old Euro became the most popular currency in circulation, surpassing the dollar for the first time. It still has a long way to go before it takes the lead as a reserve currency, but breaking the dollar's monopoly on oil transactions will provide a substantial boost. Iran, China, Russia, and Venezuela have teamed up with the intention of doing just that.

The Rapture of the Church would be the final and fatal blow to US supremacy, paving the way for the 10 Nation Confederacy of Bible prophecy to consolidate its hold on world affairs.

7. Babylon Will Re-Emerge As A Prominent City In World Affairs... Rev 18:2-3

With a mighty voice he shouted: "Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird. For all the nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries."

Babylon is still a ways away from accepting its destiny as a city of power in the end times. It's just a ceremonial city right now, but 15 years ago nobody even knew it existed at all. One of the shocks of Gulf War 1 was the discovery of Babylon standing there on the banks of the Euphrates again.

You may think that being little more than a giant museum is a far cry from being a center of world power, but some of Iraq's new political leaders are calling for their nation's capital to be moved to Babylon. The logic behind this is that Baghdad was Saddam's capital, and the new Iraq needs a new capital, more consistent with its heritage. Babylon fills the bill, and becoming the capital of Iraq would be a giant first step toward achieving its transformation into a center of power.

Because of Babylon's current lack of importance in the world, some students of prophecy search for an allegorical fulfillment of Rev. 18, and of course many see the USA or some city therein as a logical candidate.

But remember, even though in Revelation 17:9 John describes "mystery Babylon" as seated on seven hills (meaning Rome), a prophecy in Zechariah 5:5-11 shows it being moved "to the plains of Shinar" a reference to ancient Mesopotamia called Iraq today. We can't switch from literal to allegorical interpretations of Scripture without clear direction, and where Babylon is concerned no such direction exists. In fact the opposite is true.

Other Signs

You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.

"Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matt. 24:6-14)

Then he said to them: "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven. (Luke 21:10-11)

"There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." (Luke 21:25-28)

WARS AND RUMORS OF WARS ... Depending upon whose intelligence reports you read somewhere between 30 and 50 wars are currently being fought around the world, with a substantial number of additional disputes threatening to erupt into war at any time.

THE INCREASE OF NATURAL DISASTERS ... More frequent and more severe hurricanes, more frequent and more intense earthquakes. Killer storms and quakes continue to dot the news, although 2006 didn't achieve the record levels of devastation caused in 2005

SIGNS IN THE SUN, MOON, AND STARS ... The magnetic polar reversal, predicted by computer model for 2012 is gaining more attention since its likelihood was first announced. Having moved several hundred miles across Canada the Magnetic North Pole is currently headed for Siberia. While the effects of a Magnetic Polar Reversal have never been observed by mankind, it has apparently happened in the distant past. What's unique this time is that the Sun is due for a polar reversal at the same time. I've speculated that the effects of the polar reversal could fulfill Revelation 6 and if the projected time of 2012 is correct, it fits nicely into the End Times prophecy window we opened above.

PESTILENCE... Not only new diseases like HIV and SARS but also the return of old ones like Whooping cough. But the big news again this year is the likely spread of Avian Influenza (Bird Flu). A few cases among humans have lead to fears that the virus has mutated to thrive in a human host. Dire predictions are placing possible deaths from this pandemic in the millions

THE LOVE OF MOST WILL GROW COLD ... 3500 people die every day in defense of the Christian faith. Run away crime, children being abused and murdered by their parents, children killing children. Murder trials as public entertainment soon to be followed by televised executions. Ethnic cleansing, rape and forced pregnancy, pedophilia, random shootings, the incidence of disrespect is enough to make you sick.

THIS GOSPEL WILL BE PREACHED IN ALL NATIONS ... Looking at the state of the world, it's hard to be encouraged. But as world news gets worse and worse, more people are turning to the Lord for solace. According to some reports as many as 175,000 new believers are born again every day, mostly in Africa, China, and India. Reports of these conversions are accompanied by accounts of miracles, people receiving supernatural healings and even being raised from the dead. Just as He did at the beginning of the church Age the Holy Spirit is moving mightily at its End. I believe the Lord is issuing a giant "last call" before He suddenly takes the church out of here to begin the End Times judgments.

The above are given as indicators in the Olivet Discourse (Matt 24, Mark 13, Luke 21) and we'll continue to bring you periodic information on these as well.

As you know most of the signs in the Olivet Discourse are progressive and all are described as happening well before the end. Their main interest to us is found in the phrase "beginning of birth pangs." Natural disasters, the tendency toward war as a tool of diplomacy, famine amidst plenty (35,000 children die each day of starvation and related diseases) and pestilence are described as being common to the era but increasing in frequency and intensity as the end approaches. This was certainly the case in 2005 and is an indicator of how close we are to the end.

It's true that for over 100 years folks have been saying, "how much worse can it get?" Sadly, the answer now as it was then is, "Much!" It seems man's depravity knows no limits. But take heart. Though we are in the world, we are not of the world. We don't belong here, being citizens of heaven. And one day soon our long awaited King will return to take us there. Maranatha!
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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

SEVEN MAJOR PROPHETIC SIGNS OF THE SECOND COMING

Seven Major Prophetic Signs Of The Second Coming - Jack Kelley - www.gracethrufaith.com

There are seven major prophetic signs of the Second Coming, and for the first time in history all seven are in some stage of fulfillment. As in years past, I'll list the seven with their primary biblical references and offer commentary from current events.

1. Israel Will Be In The Land... Ezekiel 38:8

After many days you will be called to arms. In future years you will invade a land that has recovered from war, whose people were gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate. They had been brought out from the nations, and now all of them live in safety.

In 1948, when Israel took its place among the nations of the world again for the first time in nearly 2000 years, students of prophecy recognized the fulfillment of the primary sign that the end of the age was upon us. Jesus had said that the generation being born when that happened would still be alive when He returned (Matt. 24:34).

The fulfillment of this prophecy caused another reaction as well. Satan reads prophecy too, and began exerting his influence on world leaders in his continuing effort to thwart the plan of God. As a result, Israel has fought six major wars in the last 58 years, each of them an attempt to erase the Jewish Homeland from the face of the Earth. And it's clear that this effort will continue, with the biggest battle of all looming on the horizon, foretold by Ezekiel in chapters 38-39. Israel's enemies, both physical and spiritual, won't let up until they've either succeeded (their view) or been destroyed (God's view).

But in abandoning their Gaza settlements last year, and with their inconclusive performance against Hezbollah this summer, it seems to many as if the Israelis have become their own worst enemy. In Gaza, the plan was to free the military from having to protect the settlements (a major commitment) while maintaining control of their borders. But turning part of their border security over to Egypt has been a disaster, permitting the Palestinians to smuggle in tons of weapons, ammunition and explosives from the Sinai (courtesy of Syria and Iran) and fire more mortars and missiles into Israel than ever before.

Although US and Israeli leaders promised that abandoning Gaza would improve the nation's security, the opposite has happened. And as those opposed to the abandonment predicted, Gaza has become a major center for terrorist activity. When Hamas won the Palestinian elections they quickly turned Gaza into an armed camp. Now Hamas appears to be just as dangerous a threat as Hezbollah and Israel seems to be caught between two forces powerful enough to make defeat a distinct possibility.

But the God of Israel sees a different outcome. "I will bring back my exiled people Israel; they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them," says the LORD your God. (Amos 9:14-15)

2. Jerusalem Will Be In Jewish Hands... Luke 21:24

They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.

The Lord prophesied that the reunification of Jerusalem as a Jewish City would be a sign that foreign (gentile) influence over His land, and indeed the world, was about to end. When this happened in 1967, prophecy experts saw it as another major sign fulfilled. The almost world wide effort to take the city apart again is in essence a battle of wills; the Will of God vs. the will of man. Until recently every Israeli politician has stood firmly on a pledge to keep Jerusalem united forever as Israel's capital.

But then former Prime Minister Sharon said that if re-elected he'd consider abandoning parts of the suburbs to achieve peace. His stroke-induced coma ended his political career, but his hand picked successor, Ehud Olmert, has hinted at following through on Sharon's proposals. Olmert's poor performance in the war against Hezbollah has robbed him of the political strength to follow through for now. And God said that when He re-gathered His people in the land for the 2nd time (the first was after Babylon) they'd never be dispersed again, and so far it looks like He meant it. (Amos 9:15)

The fulfillment of these two major prophecies concerning Israel has caused confusion in the minds of some commentators. It centers around an incorrect interpretation of Matt. 24:34, that all end times prophecies are to be fulfilled within a generation, nominally 40 years, of Israel's re-gathering in 1948. That error made 1988 seem like the likely time for the End. But when 1988 came and went scholars focused on the Jerusalem date, 1967, and began adding 40 years to that, advancing their predictions to 2007. The rationale for this is that the timing of the First Coming prophecies in Daniel 9:24-27 keyed off the rebuilt city, not off the return to the Land.

But the Lord didn't promise that all end times prophecies would be fulfilled within a generation of their beginning, only that the generation being born at the time of the first of the signs would still be alive to see their completion. According to Psalm 90:10 a Biblical life span is 70 years, so predicting the approximate time of the End requires the addition of 70 years to either 1948 or 1967, not 40.

There are good arguments in favor of either date, so the safest bet is to construct a window of time opening in 2018 and extending to 2037 for the fulfillment of all End Time Prophecies. And remember, the culmination of End Times prophecies is the Second Coming, not the Rapture of the Church, which precedes it by at least 7 years. As the time draws nearer, the timing of the 2nd Coming will become more and more obvious. Those people around when a treaty is enforced permitting the Jews to build their Temple in Israel will know that it's seven years away. Those who witness the anti Christ standing in that Temple proclaiming himself to be God will know there are only 1260 days left until the end of the Great Tribulation, and the 2nd Coming happens right after that. As Paul so clearly put it, only those in darkness will be taken by surprise. But at this point in time, the 19-year range I've given above offers a minimally speculative period within which it could all come to pass.

3. A Moslem Coalition Armed And Led By Russia Will Attack The Holy Land... Ezek. 38:2-6

"Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal; prophesy against him. This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, O Gog, chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks in your jaws and bring you out with your whole army--your horses, your horsemen fully armed, and a great horde with large and small shields, all of them brandishing their swords. Persia, Cush and Put will be with them, all with shields and helmets, also Gomer with all its troops, and Beth Togarmah from the far north with all its troops--the many nations with you."

(For a more detailed explanation of the modern equivalents to these biblical names, read "An In Depth Look At The Modern Equivalent To Biblical Names in Ezek.38)

Over 130 historical references make it plain that Magog stands for modern Russia, and the other countries named here form a coalition based on their common religion, Islam. (Today Russia is 30% Moslem and growing.) Among them are Iran, several North African countries, Eastern European countries along the Danube, and the Turkic nations of Asia Minor. A quick look at a world map will reveal that these areas are home to some of the most violent Islamic terrorist groups. The Russians are already a major supplier of arms for the Moslem coalition, just as Ezekiel prophesied, and will be drawn into joining in this battle by God Himself. Russia's barely disguised policy of becoming the major outside force in the Middle East is playing right into the Lord's hands. Iran and Russia are well into the implementation of a $50 billion deal to provide Iran with nuclear power. The 10 reactors called for in the deal are supposedly for electrical power generation, but most western leaders suspect they'll be used to build bombs, too. Iranian Pres. Ahmadinejad says he'll proclaim Iran to be a nuclear power right after the New Year, but most experts think a bomb is still a ways off. Israel has again vowed to prevent that ever happening, but the US seems to be backing off its similar promise.

Recently, to offset the loss of Iraq as their primary mid-east asset, Russia has formed commercial and military alliances with Turkey and Syria, becoming Turkey's 2nd largest trading partner after Germany. Turkey's inability to resolve the issue they have with Greece over Cypress will likely torpedo their attempt to join the EU. Recent polls also show a dramatic decrease in public support among Turks for EU membership. From an initial high of nearly 90%, less than half of all Turks now favor joining. Russia is quickly moving to bring Turkey under its influence, a shift that could cause Turkey to abandon the West and line up with the Moslem coalition as Ezekiel foretold.

Russia has also sold Damascus a state of the art anti-air defense system along with their latest generation missiles and anti-tank rockets and plan to construct a major military seaport in northern Syria, moving components of their Black Sea fleet there. As this is being written Syrian Pres. Assad is in Russia with $500 million Iranian dollars shopping for more weapons. In Lebanon, Russian Military Intelligence has just about taken over the town of Sidon, spying on Israel for Iran and Syria. Iran has taken delivery of a Russian air defense system too, to protect its Bushier reactor site.

Iran seems to be preparing its people for war with Israel and even the US, making the most outlandish claims in an effort to whip their people into a frenzy not seen since the days of the US embassy kidnapping of the 70's. This inflammatory ranting has included a Holocaust denial seminar attended by 30 countries, and a promise to wipe Israel off the face of the map. Former Israeli PM Netanyahu has said that it's like 1938 all over again. (He has also said that Iran is only 1000 days from achieving its goal of nuclear weaponry.)

The major obstacle to an early fulfillment of this prophecy is the reference to its occurrence at a time when Israel is "peaceful and unsuspecting" (Ezekiel 38:11). I believe that the removal of the US as Israel's powerful ally is necessary to create this condition. I don't think the Moslem coalition will attack until they're sure the US won't retaliate. It's no accident that Iran has led a charge against the US dollar, causing a major weakening in world markets and setting the stage for an end to the monopoly the dollar has enjoyed in international oil markets. Iran is also the primary force behind the instability in Iraq. The cost of this war is creating unsustainable deficits for the US, and with the dollar weakening, the US may be forced to vacate the Middle East soon. The coming change in government will be an interesting addition to this mix, but the bottom line is that either the US or some other entity (the UN?) has to make a toothless agreement to protect Israel to set them up for this battle.

As we begin 2007, the Middle East is in the most volatile situation of our generation. The Palestinian Territories, Iraq and Lebanon could all erupt into civil war this year. Syria and Israel are at each other's throats with some predicting a spring war, and both Hamas and Hezbollah are itching to jump into the fray. The US is building up forces off the coast of Iran, and Israel has said it will not allow Iran to go nuclear. Surely one of these powder kegs will explode and could even start a chain reaction.

I believe that once these issues are resolved, either by warfare or negotiation or both, a false peace will come to Israel very suddenly and unexpectedly, like the collapse of the Soviet Union, and Israel will be set up for Ezekiel 38 by its supposed peace partners.

When the time is right, having recently taken His church to Heaven, the Lord will use this battle to orchestrate His reconciliation with Israel, and on its heels the anti Christ will emerge with a peace plan that includes a Jewish Temple. So once this battle takes place, end times prophecy will go on fast forward.