Coexistence In The Middle-East (And Every Where else On Earth): Or Self Inflected Armageddon?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY  ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

Opinion

Coexistence Is the Last Chance to Avoid the Precipice

Last week, Egypt’s Coptic Christians cancelled Easter celebrations in mourning for those who were killed in two separate terrorist explosions targeting churches in the cities of Tanta and Alexandria.

In Iraq too, new maps are being drawn by sectarianism, while minorities shrink and ethno-religious fabric change under the violence perpetrated by Iran on one side and ISIS on another.

Likewise, we openly witness how shredded Syria has become, and under the eyes of the international community, it is well on the road of partition and population exchange– finally, the less said the better it is when the subject matter is ongoing events in occupied Palestinian territories.

Given this painful regional climate, the ongoing arguments about Lebanon’s future electoral system become a travesty, not much different from the ‘crowded’ field of Iran’s presidential elections where neither votes nor abundance of candidates mean a thing against what the Supreme Leader utters and the elitist Revolutionary Gaurd the (IRGC) dictates.

In Lebanon, the Middle East’s ‘democratic’ soft belly, the Lebanese’ daily bread and butter is endless and absurd arguments and counter-arguments about what the most appropriate electoral system should look like in upcoming parliamentary elections. This is not actually new. Moreover, true intentions behind what is going on have nothing to do with what is being said, whether the intention is escalation or hypocrisy.

The real problem is that the Lebanese are acutely divided on several basic issues regarding conditions of coexistence, political representation and even the meaning of democracy.

For a start, one must ask oneself whether the next elections – regardless of what system is adopted – are going to produce any change in the status quo? Is there any common Lebanese vision as to what the country’s identity is among the ostensible ‘allies’, let alone political adversaries and those dependent on foreign backing and sectarian hegemony?

Then, one may also ask – given defective mechanisms of governance – would ‘state institutions’ still be relevant and meaningful? Would any electoral law be effective in the light of accelerating disproportionate sectarian demographics, and the fact that one large religious sect enjoys a monopoly of military might outside the state’s umbrella, while still sharing what is underneath that umbrella?

The other day in his Easter sermon the Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Bechara Ra’i said “the (Lebanese) Christians are nobody’s bullied weaklings, but are rather indispensable (!)…”. This is tough talk indeed, but it too is not new.

From what is widely known about Cardinal Ra’i, even before assuming the Patriarchate, is that he is highly interested in politics, and that political views are as candid as they are decisive. On Syria, in particular, he has been among the first to warn the West against and dissuade its leaders from supporting the Syrian uprising; when he claimed during his visits – beginning with France – that any regime that may replace Bashar Al-Assad’s may be worse, and thus it would better to keep him in power.

The same path has been followed by current Lebanese president Michel Aoun, who was strongly backed by Hezbollah, to the extent that the latter forced a political vacuum on Lebanon lasting for over two years.

Of course, Hezbollah, in the meantime, had been imposing its hegemony over Lebanon, fighting for Al-Assad in Syria, and training the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen as part of Iran’s project of regional dominance. In promoting this ‘project’ globally, but particularly in the West, Iran has given it the themes of ‘fighting terrorism’ – meaning ‘Sunni Muslim terrorism’- and ‘protection of minorities’ within the framework of a tactical ‘coalition of the minorities’.

A few days ago Aoun said during an interview that “the aim behind what is taking place in the Orient is to empty it of Christians and partition the region into several states”. Again, this is not something new, as it used to be said on the murder and kidnapping road blocks during the dark days of the Lebanese War between 1975 and 1990. Those days the fears of uprooting were common and widespread; reaching the climax within the Christian community with rumors that the mission of American diplomat Dean Brown was to evacuate Lebanon’s Christians to Canada, and within the Druze community during ‘the Mountain War’ (1983-1984) that they would be expelled to southern Syria.

However, Aoun, as it seems, has not been quite aware of who was applying the final touches on population exchange, and drawing the map for the ‘future’ states he has been warning against. He has simply ignored the full picture, turning instead, to repeat old talk in order to justify temporary interests that are harmful if not fatal to minorities, rather than being beneficial and protective.

In this context, come the ‘try-to-be-smart’ attempts to impose a new electoral law in Lebanon as a means of blackmail, as if the country’s sectarian ‘tribal chieftains’ are naïve or debutants in the arena of sectarian politics. The latest has come from Gebran Bassil, the foreign minister and President Aoun’s son-in-law, when he expressed his “willingness to entertain the idea of a Senate, on the condition that it is headed by a Christian!”. This pre-condition was quickly rejected by the Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri on the basis that the presidency of a Senate, as approved in “Taif Agreement” – which is now part of Lebanon’s Constitution – was allocated to the Druze; and thus, what Bassil had suggested was unconstitutional.

It is worth mentioning here that all suggestions regarding the future electoral law have ignored the issue of a Senate. It was has also been obvious that another item in the “Taif Agreement” was being intentionally ignored too, which is adopting ‘Administrative De-Centralization’.

However, if some Lebanese parties feel uncomfortable with the idea of ‘De-Centralization’, more so as both Iraq and Syria seem to be on their way to actual partition, it is not possible anymore to separate Lebanon’s politics from its demographics.

The latter are now being affected by radical and everlasting demographic changes occurring across the country’s disintegrating eastern borders with Syria. These include what is being reported – without being refuted – about widespread settlement and naturalization activities in Damascus and its countryside. Furthermore, once the population exchange between Shi’ite ‘pockets’ of northern Syria and the Sunni majority population of the Barada River valley is completed, the new sectarian and demographic fabric of Damascus and its countryside would gain a strategic depth and merge with a similar fabric in eastern Lebanon.

This is a danger that Lebanese Christians, indeed, all Lebanese, Syrians, Iraqis and all Arabs, must be aware of and sincere about. The cost of ignoring facts on the ground is tragic, as blood begets blood, exclusion justifies exclusion, and marginalization undermines coexistence.

Nation-building is impossible in the absence of a free will to live together. It is impossible in a climate of lies, while those who think they are smart gamble on shifting regional and global balances of power.

Eyad Abu Shakra

Eyad Abu Shakra

Eyad Abu Shakra is the managing editor of Asharq Al-Awsat. He has been with the newspaper since 1978.

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Why do Christians keep inviting you to church?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

Why do Christians keep inviting you to church?

As Easter approaches, many churches are stepping up their outreach.

Story highlights

  • Christians who share their faith aren’t intolerant, Ed Stetzer says
  • It shows they believe what Jesus said and care about those around them, he says

Ed Stetzer holds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and is the executive director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. The views expressed in this column belong to him.

(CNN)“Hey, do you want to come to church with us on Easter?”

You may have heard this or something similar from a friend, co-worker or family member. Depending on where you live, perhaps you’ve already received a mailer or two about a local church service.
Maybe you’ve wondered why Christians like me won’t just leave you alone. I assure you, it’s not because we like imposing ourselves on others. In fact, for many of us, it’s just the opposite.
On a recent Sunday, I stood up at Moody Church, an evangelical church in Chicago where I am interim pastor, and encouraged people to invite their friends to our Easter services. I reminded the congregation that Christians should be committed to the task of evangelism, that Jesus commanded it.
But I also know that, to atheists or adherents of other faiths, it can be confusing to know how to respond to such outreach. Understanding our motivation may help.

The great commission

The fact is churches are gearing up for Easter like pizza places are for the Super Bowl. They know this will be the biggest Sunday attendance of the year, Christmas included. Many members will have brought guests, and pastors want to be sure to preach a compelling sermon.
For many churches, including mine, we actually prayed over cards with names on them — the names of people to whom our church members were reaching out — so they might have open hearts.
I imagine some react in horror to that statement thinking: How dare anyone try to convert someone to another religion?
That makes sense in a world where spirituality has been Oprah-fied, and in a culture that says it’s fine to believe what you want as long as you don’t try to convince anyone else to believe differently.
It works great, if not for one reality: the words of Jesus.
You see, Christianity is a missionary faith because of the life and teachings of Jesus. Sure, you probably know the teachings of Jesus that fit in our culture: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” for example. And the world would be a better place if we all did those things.
But Jesus had many other teachings as well — and they’re just as important. After his resurrection, but before his ascension to heaven Jesus said some things that explain why Christians are still evangelizing.
Christians call these commands commissions, and they include: “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19); “You will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8); and “As the father has sent me, I am sending you” (John 20:21).
These are the last earthly words of Jesus before his ascension. That gives them an even greater weight to many who believe his last words should be our first priority.

The ‘P’ word

Some people may think “proselytize” is a dirty word, but that depends on how you define and practice it. Proselytize means to convert someone to another belief or opinion. And the truth is, we all do it — or at least try to. We try to convince our buddies that our sports team is better, our wives that this restaurant serves tastier food, our children that smartphones aren’t actually as interesting as adults make them seem.
We proselytize because we deeply believe what we are sharing is important enough to expend our energy and enthusiasm. For Christians, they share because they truly believe the founder of the faith told them to, and that his message changes people.
And some people — even atheists — appreciate our efforts.
Comedian Penn Jillette, a well-known nonbeliever, explained how he responded to someone sharing a Bible with him:
“I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. If you believe that there’s a heaven and hell … and you think, ‘Well, it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward’… how much do you have to hate somebody not to proselytize?”
I get that Christians who are proselytizing seem out of step in modern, live-and-let-live America, but when you are a Christian, you don’t get to pick and choose which of his commandments to obey.
I understand that some non-Christians think Christians who share the good news are being intolerant.
Admittedly, some Christians have been intolerant at times throughout history, seeking conversions through unethical means. However, sharing our faith itself is not intolerant, but in fact is something that shows we really believe what Jesus said and we care about those around us.
Tolerance means more than acceptance of different people’s beliefs, sometimes it also means listening to them. And when a whole lot of people believe there was a guy who was dead on Friday, and alive on Sunday, that’s something worth explaining, particularly at Easter time.
So, please don’t be offended.
Your Christian friends, neighbors, family members or co-workers are mustering up some courage because they care enough to reach out to you. They believe they’ve seen lives changed and are following a person whom they believe guides them toward faith and good works.
Don’t be shocked that your friends think Jesus’ last words should be their first priority — particularly around Easter, the day when they believe he came back from the dead. Their sharing with you means they care enough to get uncomfortable.
Trust that it comes from a good place and take a moment to hear them out.

Iraqi Christians Return To Ransacked Town With Fear And Hope

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS)

Iraqi Christians return to ransacked town with fear and hope

A damaged statue of Jesus Christ is seen inside a church in the town of Qaraqosh, south of Mosul, Iraq, April 11, 2017. REUTERS/Marko Djurica SEARCH
By Ulf Laessing | QARAQOSH, IRAQ

With Islamic State expelled, Iraqi Christians are trickling back to the ransacked town of Qaraqosh, beset by anxiety for their security and yet hopeful they can live in friendship with Muslims of all persuasions.

The town, about 20 km (12 miles) from the battlefront with Islamic State in the northern city of Mosul, shows why Christians have mixed feelings about the future of their ancient community.

In the desecrated churches of Qaraqosh, Christians are busy removing graffiti daubed by the Sunni Muslim militants during two and a half years of control – only for new slogans to have appeared, scrawled by Shi’ite members of the Iraqi forces fighting street to street with the jihadists in Mosul.

But nearby a shopkeeper is doing a brisk trade selling Dutch beer, Greek ouzo and several whisky brands to Christians, Sunnis, Shi’ites and Kurds alike, with this kind of commerce perhaps offering a glimpse of how Iraq’s fractured communities could again live together peacefully.

Encouraged by security checkpoints and patrols by a volunteer force, up to 10 Christian families have returned to what used to be the minority’s biggest community in Iraq until Islamic State seized it in 2014.

Iraqi forces pushed the group out of Qaraqosh in October, part of a six-month offensive to retake Mosul. But residents are worried that the Shi’ite slogans signal a new kind of sectarian division.

“Oh Hussein” is daubed in red on the wall of a church torched earlier by Islamic State, praising the hero of Shi’ite Muslims who was martyred 1,300 years ago.

“We are afraid of this, of tensions,” said Girgis Youssif, a church worker. “We want to live in peace and demand security,” said Youssif, who returned after fleeing to Erbil, about 60 km away in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Shi’ites in the Iraqi government forces and paramilitary groups, mostly from further south in the country, have scribbled such slogans on buildings all over Mosul too.

Soldiers have also hoisted the flag of Ali in the city and on their on military vehicles. Shi’ites regard Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet Mohammed, and the prophet’s grandson Hussein as his true successors.

Two Shi’ite flags also fly over Qaraqosh.

Most Sunnis, who are the dominant community in Mosul, have shrugged off the Shi’ite slogans as the work of a handful of religious zealots but Christians take them as a signal that their future remains uncertain.

“Of course we are afraid of such signs,” said Matti Yashou Hatti, a photographer who still lives in Erbil with his family. “We need international protection.”

Those families who have returned to Qaraqosh – once home to 50,000 people – are trying to revive Christian life dating back two millennia. However, most stay only two or three days at a time to refurbish their looted and burnt homes.

“We want to come back but there is no water and power,” said Mazam Nesin, a Christian who works for a volunteer force based in Qaraqosh but has left his family behind in Erbil.

By contrast, displaced Muslims have been flocking back to markets in eastern Mosul since Islamic State’s ejection from that part of the city, despite the battle raging in the Old City across the Tigris river which is the militants’ last stronghold.

ALCOHOL SHOP

Numbers of Christians in Iraq have fallen from 1.5 million to a few hundred thousand since the violence which followed the 2003 toppling of Saddam Hussein. Many Baghdad residents who could not afford to go abroad went to Qaraqosh and other northern towns where security used to be better than in the capital, rocked by sectarian warfare after the U.S.-led invasion.

But with the arrival of Islamic State, residents abandoned their homes with some applying for asylum in Europe. Germany alone took in 130,000 Iraqis, among them many Christians, in 2015 and 2016. But most ended up in Erbil with relatives or in homes paid for by aid agencies.

Supermarkets and restaurants remain closed in Qaraqosh, with windows smashed and burnt furniture strewn across floors.

One of the few businesses to have reopened is Steve Ibrahim’s alcohol shop in the town center; in the absence of cafes it has become a meeting point for local people. “Business has been good so far. Everybody comes here to stock up,” said Ibrahim, who has just reopened the store with his father.

They lost everything when Islamic State, known by its enemies as Daesh, wrecked their business. Now they have invested about $400 to refurbish the shop – new tiles shine on the walls – and customers are coming from beyond the town and from across the communities.

“I sell drinks to Christians and Muslims alike,” he said. “Many people come from Mosul or other towns.”

Many of Ibrahim’s customers ignore Islam’s forbidding of alcohol consumption. While he was talking, a Sunni Muslim from eastern Mosul drove up to buy a bottle of whisky and four cans of beer, packed in a black plastic bag to hide his purchase from the eyes of more religiously observant Muslims.

“You couldn’t drink during Daesh. I am glad this shop is open again,” said the man who gave his name only as Mohammed, shaking hands with Christians enjoying an afternoon beer. “I still only drink at home.”

Later a Shi’ite from a village south of Mosul arrived to pick up drinks. “I come here twice a week. It’s the only shop in the area,” he said, asking not to be named, before driving off.

Even Ibrahim comes every day from Erbil, bringing by car supplies and fuel for the generator to power the fridges filled with cold beer. Then he drives back at night.

Whether more Christians can live permanently in Qaraqosh depends on whether the security forces win their trust.

Army and police have tried to ease fears by stationing soldiers in front of churches, and even helping Christian volunteers to set up a massive cross at the town’s entrance.

On Palm Sunday last weekend, soldiers escorted a procession in preparation for Easter, Christianity’s most important festival, and provided chairs for worshippers during Mass.

Some Christian policemen joined in, singing “Hallelujah” with civilians. But walking along rows of burnt out homes and supermarkets, others were still afraid.

“The security measures are not sufficient,” said Hatti, the photographer. “We want security to surround the town.”

(Click here, reut.rs/2ordbfj for a Photo essay on this story)

(Editing by David Stamp)

ISIS Video Threatens To Attack More Christians

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS)

Video had threatened Christians with more attacks

THE Islamic State group claimed responsibility for bombing two Egyptian churches as worshippers gathered to mark Palm Sunday, killing at least 43 people and injuring more than 100 in the deadliest attacks on the Coptic Christian minority in recent memory.

The attacks followed a Cairo church bombing in December and came weeks ahead of a planned visit by Catholic Pope Francis intended to show support for the country’s Christian minority.

The first bombing struck the Mar Girgis church in the city of Tanta north of Cairo, killing 27 people, the health ministry said.

Emergency services had scrambled to the scene when another bombing rocked the Saint Mark’s church in Alexandria where Coptic Pope Tawadros II had been leading a Palm Sunday service.

Sixteen people were killed in that attack, which the interior ministry said was caused by a suicide bomber. A church official said that Tawadros had left before the bombing.

At least 78 people were wounded in Tanta and another 41 wounded in Alexandria, the health ministry said.

Egyptian officials denounced the violence as an attempt to sow divisions in the country, while Francis sent his “deep condolences” to Tawadros.

Islamic State claimed that its “squads” carried out both attacks, in a statement by its self-styled Amaq news agency.

Images broadcast by private television stations showed bloodstains smearing the whitewashed walls of the church in Tanta next to shredded wooden benches.

“The explosion took place in the front rows, near the altar, during the mass,” General Tarek Atiya, the deputy to Egypt’s interior minister in charge of relations with the media, told reporters.

“I heard the blast and came running. I found people torn up … some people, only half of their bodies remained,” said Nabil Nader, whose resident is in front of the Tanta church.

The worshippers had been celebrating Palm Sunday, one of the holiest days of the Christian calendar, marking the triumphant entrance of Jesus to Jerusalem.

Pope Francis, who is due to visit Cairo on April 28-29, offered prayers for the victims.

“Let us pray for the victims of the attack unfortunately carried out today,” he said in an Angelus prayer.

“May the Lord convert the heart of those who sow terror, violence and death and also the heart of those who make weapons and trade in them.”

Copts, who make up about a 10th of Egypt’s population of more than 92 million and who celebrate Easter next weekend, have been targeted by several attacks in recent months.

Jihadists and Islamists accuse Copts of supporting the military overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in 2013, which ushered in a deadly crackdown on his supporters.

In December, a suicide bombing claimed by Islamic State killed 29 worshippers during Sunday mass in Cairo.

The group later released a video threatening Egypt’s Christians with more attacks.

The bombing of the church within a compound that also holds the seat of the Coptic papacy was the deadliest attack against the minority in recent memory.

A spate of jihadist-linked attacks in Egypt’s restive Sinai Peninsula, including the murder of a Copt in the city of El Arish whose house was also burned, have led some Coptic families to flee their homes.

About 250 Christians took refuge in the Suez Canal city of Ismailiya after Islamic State released a video in February calling for attacks on the religious minority.

Reacting before the second bombing in Alexandria, Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid called the attack in Tanta “a failed attempt against our unity.”

“Terrorism hits Egypt again, this time on Palm Sunday,” he tweeted. Prime Minister Sherif Ismail also condemned the attack, stressing Egypt’s determination to “eliminate terrorism.”

The Cairo-based Al-Azhar, an influential Sunni Muslim authority, said it aimed to “destabilize security and … the unity of Egyptians.”

Egypt’s Copts have endured successive attacks since Morsi was ousted in July 2013.

More than 40 churches were attacked nationwide in the two weeks after the deadly dispersal by security forces of two pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo on August 14, 2013, Human Rights Watch said.

Amnesty International later said more than 200 Christian-owned properties were attacked and 43 churches seriously damaged, adding that at least four people were killed.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who as then army chief helped remove Morsi, has defended his security forces and accused jihadists of attacking Copts in order to divide the country.

The Islamic Ambush That is Awaiting The American People

via The Islamic ambush awaiting us

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BRITTUS BLOG SITE)

Almost 50 years ago, a young Marine lieutenant led a combat patrol through a village in Vietnam. Having witnessed numerous patrols of this sort before, villagers continued about their daily routine.

After hearing a village elder say something to a fellow villager, the lieutenant immediately stopped his men. With new orders issued and weapons at the ready, the patrol quietly advanced, ultimately surprising an enemy force just outside the village that had been waiting to spring an ambush on the Marines.

The lieutenant never knew if the elder had intentionally tipped him off or simply did not know he spoke Vietnamese, overhearing an ambush lay ahead. Being able to speak the local language fortuitously saved American lives.

This story holds a lesson we need heed in view of a meeting President Donald Trump’s new national security adviser, Maj. Gen. H.R. McMaster, just held with his staff.

McMaster informed his people that linking terrorism to radical Islam – a message Trump conveyed during his presidential campaign, in his inaugural speech and ever since then – is not helpful, as such terrorists are “un-Islamic.”

An Iraq war veteran and student of history, McMaster is apparently taking a stand – similar to that espoused by former President Obama – not to suggest Islam itself is violent but that extremists have hijacked Islam, giving it a violent interpretation.

It will be interesting to see how this interpretation plays out with Trump and whether he decides to throttle back on his own assertion about Islam or has McMaster throttle back on his. In his Feb. 28 speech to Congress, Trump did not back off from linking terrorism to radical Islam. As to whom, between these two, has the better grasp on the religion, another story need be told.

To protect his identity, an Arabic translator working in a refugee center in Germany, dealing with hundreds of Muslim migrants daily, will be referred to as “X.” A secret X has kept from all who reside at the center is that he is a Christian. Revealing this at the center would be a death sentence for him.

Speaking the language, X understands exactly what refugees think about non-Muslims who have opened up their hearts to them: They seek to carve those hearts out!

X attests it is frightening to hear what is said within these centers. Having escaped death in their native lands, having been given food and shelter in a non-Muslim land, having been given access to welfare programs to help them get on their feet, these Muslim refugees are not appreciative. What Germans do for the refugees is expected of them in recognition of Islam’s religious superiority.

But, most frighteningly, while accepting Western generosity, these refugees conspire eventually to relieve their hosts of their lives and property. These refugee centers are transitioning into dens of iniquity.

A group known as “Open Doors Germany” is documenting how this mindset thrives among Muslim refugees. Refugees attend mosques where clerics deliver hate-filled sermons against all non-Muslims, including their German hosts.

This leads to the persecution of Christians at the refugee centers. Christian refugees in Rotenburg who dared attend a church service, returned to the center to find threatening graffiti on the walls of their room reading, “Cut the Christians’ heads off!”

Such threats have not lain idle. Christians find it difficult to sleep in the centers, knowing someone in the next room believes his faith mandates he kill them. Hundreds of attacks are recorded. Open Doors revealed how there have been “assaults, stabbings, life-threatening situations … (with) some refugees end(ing) up in the hospital.”

Muslims admonish Christian refugees as “unclean.” Males assert their right under Islam to rape Christian women. As Germany and many other European countries have borne witness, Muslim males believe this right extends to native Christian women as well. This is evidenced today by rape epidemics in many of these Western countries.

We are foolish not to accept the fact mosques, whether in Muslim-majority countries or not, feed Islam’s followers with hate messages for non-Muslims. So fed, some opt to radicalize and act on them; some do not. But we need understand terrorism emanates from such hate speech against non-Muslims. Because Islam’s foundation is built upon this hatred, it is not extremists who have hijacked Islam to give it a violent interpretation; it is moderates who have hijacked Islam to give it a non-violent one.

Interestingly, several Muslim countries recognize that a link does exist between Islam and terrorism and, therefore, refuse to accept Muslim refugees.

This brings us back to McMaster’s instruction to his staff not to couch terrorism in terms of radical Islam and the Marine lieutenant who led his patrol in Vietnam.

McMaster’s guidance to his staff seems to stem from concerns non-radical Muslims, offended by our linking terrorism to Islam, might become radicalized. What he dismisses by doing so, however, is that Muslims are already fully indoctrinated by their clerics and the Quran to hate non-Muslims. Such indoctrination leaves us not knowing whom among them might opt for radicalization. But the possibility Muslims so programmed with a hateful ideology might be motivated to act radically imposes a duty upon our leaders to forewarn us of the danger that an ambush may lay ahead.

If the lieutenant leading his patrol in Vietnam had not understood the language, he would have led his patrol into an ambush. Few Americans understand Arabic and, thus, what clerics teach in their mosques or Muslim refugees discuss in their centers. Efforts by Open Doors to reveal this is critical to avoid the ambush Islam plots for non-Muslims and which it hopes, through our continuing ignorance, we not know lies ahead.

We are way past the time our leaders need worry honestly about Islam’s hatred and intolerance for us might possibly radicalize Muslims to undertake acts of terrorism. That seed has already been implanted by Islam’s clerics into their followers’ collective psyche. It is time our leaders now be honest with us, educating the American people and acknowledging that Islam, indeed, promotes terrorism.

Copyright 2017 WND

Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2017/03/the-islamic-ambush-awaiting-us/#fWvu9iPoPH60audC.99

Israel: 100 Years Since The Balfour Declaration: British And International Decision To Restore Jewish Homeland And To Reestablish The Land To Israel

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘ICEJ’ NEWS)

A CENTURY TO CELEBRATE

Marking 100 Years since Balfour

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28 Nov 2016 (All day)

In the new year of 2017, we will pass several important milestones for Christians who support Israel. For instance, it has been 500 years since the start of the Protestant Reformation in October 1517, when Christians could read the Bible in their common languages once again and rediscovered that God still had plans for the Jewish people back in their ancient homeland. Meanwhile, it has been 100 years since the Balfour Declaration of November 1917 committed Great Britain to establishing a Jewish national home in Palestine. Finally, we will mark fifty years since the city of Jerusalem was reunited under Israeli rule during the Six-Day War of June 1967.

The anniversary of Balfour is especially significant for the state of Israel and her Christian friends. The Balfour Declaration, issued on the 2nd of November 1917, is a key document in modern Israel’s legal chain of title to the land. From this decree by the British cabinet flowed a series of international decisions to restore the Jewish nation, including the San Remo Conference of 1920, the League of Nation’s mandate over Palestine in 1922, the UN Partition Plan of 1947, Israel’s own Declaration of Independence in May 1948, and Israel’s admittance into the United Nations one year later.

The Balfour Declaration was the crowning achievement of the “Restorationist” movement in Great Britain. As early as the 1700s, leading Christian figures in England had advocated for a return of the Jews to the Land of Israel according to the divine promises of Scripture. This movement featured such noted clergymen as Charles and John Wesley, Charles H. Spurgeon, and Bishop Ryle of Liverpool, as well as prominent government leaders like William Wilberforce, Lord Palmerston and Lord Shaftesbury. As a result of their preaching and activism, restorationist had already become the prevailing view even within the Anglican Church by the time the Jewish Zionist movement was launched by Theodor Herzl in 1897.

When it became clear during World War I that Britain and its allies would be able to free the Middle East from Ottoman rule, the government of David Lloyd George recognized it as a historic moment to assist the Jewish Zionists in regaining their homeland. Six of the nine members of his war cabinet, including Foreign Secretary, Arthur James Balfour, were openly professing Christian Zionists and they seized the opportunity to issue the modern equivalent of the ancient decree by King Cyrus for Jews to return and rebuild their nation. Because of this solemn commitment, which came to be known as the Balfour Declaration, Britain was granted a mandate to help create a Jewish nation in the liberated province of Palestine.

So, we have much reason to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration this year. This coming November the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem will be sponsoring events and joining with Jewish and Christian friends to commemorate Balfour, including observances in London and Jerusalem.
Yet, not everyone will be hailing the centenary of the Balfour Declaration this year. In fact, Palestinian leaders will be using their internationally funded PR machinery to assail this “criminal injustice” against their people. They are demanding that Britain apologize for Balfour and are even threatening to bring a lawsuit against the United Kingdom for all the damages caused to the Palestinians ever since. Yet such moves would be untenable and even counterproductive.

The reason is that these actions against Israel would actually undermine the claims to statehood of numerous Arab nations in the region.
Britain’s motivations behind the Balfour Declaration have always been a subject of debate. Some say it was meant to win Jewish favour during the war, or to repay Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann for his valuable contributions to the war effort. Others say it was a gesture of remorse for centuries of Christian anti-Semitism, or simply an act of British expansionism.

The truth is that Balfour was a valid and noble expression of Christian sympathy for a just cause. It also was part of a series of decisions made by the victorious powers during and after the war to create trusteeship in the Middle East and elsewhere as a way of nation-building and granting self-determination to the native people’s of liberated lands. So, Balfour actually is a pivotal marker for the closing of the age of colonialism, a self-imposed end by the Western nations themselves.

One of the architects of this mandate strategy was Jan Smuts, an avowed Christian Zionist. Until that time, the European powers would have just claimed the vacated Ottoman territories of the Middle East as part of their own empires. But Smuts and others felt it was time to let native people’s rule over their own lands and that the role of Western nations was just to assist them on the way to independence. This new approach was inspired in part by American president Woodrow Wilson and his fourteen points for spreading democracy and securing the peace in the post-war era. But, Smuts also described the mandate system as a “sacred trust” meant to free various lands and people’s from foreign rule.

Thus, Britain was granted a temporary mandate in Palestine and Iraq, while France was to oversee nation-building in Lebanon and Syria. In fact every Arab nation in the Middle East today can trace its legal claim to independence back to some of the same documents and decisions which created modern Israel. This was not a case of creating a Jewish state out of nothing. The Jews, like the Arabs, were viewed as indigenous to the region and thus entitled to reconstitute their ancient nation. So, to undermine Israel’s legal chain of title by assailing the Balfour Declaration would also call into question the claims to sovereignty of all its surrounding Arab neighbors. That is not something the Palestinians should really be pursuing.

The Balfour Declaration of 2nd of November 1917 was a letter signed by Lord Balfour which conveyed to British Jewish community leader Baron Walter Rothschild the cabinet’s decision to support the Zionist cause. It stated:

“His Majesty’s government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”

Do The 3 Abrahamic Religions Pray To The Same God? That Answer Is Simple, No they Do Not!!!

 

Here in the U.S. I have heard people make the statement that all ‘these religions’ pray to the same God, they just call Him/Her by a different name, so why can’t they all just get along? This statement would be nice, if it were true, but it isn’t at all correct. Mostly the people I have heard say this nonsense have been the Hollywood types or talking heads from the NYC area. People who make this assumption tend to be people who have no knowledge of what the different religions teach and usually have no knowledge of even the teachings of one religion. I know that here in the U.S. that the majority of the population tend to say that they are Christians simply because they were brought up with their families who were or said they were. Here in the States there are a lot of different Christian religions. Religions where they say that Jesus Christ is whom they believe in, even if they have not stepped foot in any Church since they were children, or maybe even never. You hear the divisions of ‘Christ’s’ Church a lot here in the form of the questions like, are you a Christian or a Catholic? Or, Catholic or Protestant. As almost all of you know there are many divisions of Christian Churches like Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, Pentecostal and so on and on and on. Then there are the ‘Born Again’ Christians and groups like the Church of Christ, the Church of God and the Jehovah’s Witnesses, O, and let us not forget the Mormon Church. It is easy to see why people who have no religious upbringing or very little of it could think that all ‘Religions’ serve the same God. Even though the Catholic Church doesn’t teach exactly what I believe I honestly haven’t found a ‘Church group’ that does. Yet I am not going to stone any believers in Jesus Christ whether they are Protestant or Catholic. One of the many things I have never understood in life is how groups that believe that Jesus Christ is our Saviour and King can raise their weapons against another person who believes the same thing, in the name of Religion, in the name of Christ! This confusion isn’t just among Christian Churches, let God be the Judge, we are not qualified.

Now, let us go onto non-Christian Faiths for a moment. This article is about confusion and understanding, and hopefully, clarity. I know that this article is really going to upset some folks, that is not my intention. My intention is simply to speak the “Honestly Of God’s Truth” as I see it, understand it, and believe it, too you. The only real Truth is God’s Truth and His Truth is 100% pure Truth. Humans tend to dilute God’s Truth in an effort to make it fit what they want the Truth to be, that is why only God’s Truth is pure Truth, He doesn’t need to dilute anything.

I don’t know how much knowledge each person who is reading this has concerning Old Testament Scriptures so I will be as direct and short as I can in an effort to help people understand the connections. In the Old Testament (which was written as ‘The Law’ to the Hebrew/Jewish people) the first of the 3 ‘Founding Fathers’ of Israel was Abraham, then there was his son Isaac, and Isaac’s son Jacob. God would later change the name of Jacob to Israel. The 12 Tribes of Israel are named after Jacob’s/Israel’s 12 sons. Since the Book of Genesis but especially in the Books of Isaiah and Daniel the people of Israel are told of a Messiah/Christ/Redeemer/Saviour/Promised One, that will come and elevate Israel to the premier Nation on Earth and this Messiah/Christ will rule the Earth from a new Jerusalem that will come down from Heaven. It is believed that ‘The Christ’ will rule from His Throne upon The Temple Mount. I as a devout Christian believe this exact same thing. The big difference is that as a Christian I believe that the Hebrew/Jewish Messiah has already come in the form of Jesus (Yeshua) but the Jewish folks do not believe that Jesus was ‘The Christ’. You see, when Jesus came to the Earth in 4 B.C. to fulfill Scripture the Jewish people were looking for the ‘Messiah’ to come and remove the Roman Rulers from Israel and to set up His Kingdom then. When the people realised that Jesus was not here to do that many of the people turned on him. Jesus was simply here to fulfill what the Scriptures had to say about Him. Christians should not be at all mad at our Jewish brothers, sisters and friends for their ancestors killing Jesus as they did. First, God hardened their hearts so that they would do so and there is the reality that if Jesus had not done what He did and the people had not done what they did, none of us ‘Gentiles’ (anyone whom is not 100% of Hebrew blood) would have no chance of salvation at all. We would be no better than the dogs or pigs as far as salvation is concerned. (This is exactly what Islam does think of us Christians and Jews by the way.)

The Jewish faith and their beliefs are correct in that the Messiah will come from the skies and put an end to this corrupt and violent world that we all live in. Christians call this the ‘Second Advent of Christ’, in the Jewish faith they are looking for the Messiah to come for the first time. When Jesus comes for the Second time He will put an end to this sinful world and the ‘New Jerusalem’ will come down from Heaven and The Messiah will rule the whole World from the Temple Mount just as the Jewish people believe. The Jewish faith believes that all of us Christians are ‘lost’ and that we nor anyone else have any chance of salvation, only the Jewish people do. The Jewish faith does not believe that the ‘New Testament’ is the word of God. They believe in the Torah which are the first 5 books of the Old Testament that Moses authored and the rest of the Old Testament which is called the Books of the Prophets, some major Prophets, some minor.  The New Testament and the teachings of Jesus make it very plain that the ‘only way to the Father is through Him’ also that those who deny Him, deny the Father. As Christians we pray to The Father through Jesus and believe that this is the only way that our prayers have any chance of getting to the ears of The Father. Jewish folks do not believe in Jesus as the Messiah/Christ so they do not pray to Jesus and by New Testament teachings the Jewish people’s prayers have no chance of reaching The Father’s Ears. This would make the prayers of the non-believers of Christ worthless, just the same as someone who prays to Allah, Buddha or the Dali Lama, a dollar bill or as if a total atheist  prayed because they would have no faith in Jesus, nor do they believe in Him. Those statements are hard I know, but they are not meant to be hateful at all, they are just pointing out the honest differences. God has made it very plain that He will never ever abandon Israel nor His people. God is always looking out for the Nation of Israel and He always will. Salvation is to the Jew first, then to the Gentile. We as Christians as well as all other people of the Earth if they have any sense at all should always make sure to stand by Israel and Her people for they are sacred to God Himself.

The third of the Abrahamic Religions is the religion of Islam. As Abraham is the Father of the Jewish Nation and people he is also the Father of a boy called Ishmael through his Egyptian Servant woman Hagar. Abraham’s wife was barren until she was 100 years old so being Abraham had no heir his wife Sarah told him to lay with his Servant Hagar to obtain a son and heir. Not long after Ishmael was born God opened up the womb of Sarah and she had a son called Isaac. Sarah got jealous of Ishmael so she had Abraham chase him and his Mom away. Ishmael is the father of the Muslim people and he was of the loins of Abraham so yes, they are Abraham’s descendants. About 600 years after the death of Jesus in Jerusalem a man called Mohammad arose from the deserts of what is now Saudi Arabia and started a new religion in the cities of Medina and Mecca. Mohammad died in the city of Mecca in the year 632 A.D. but his teachings are the religion of Islam. The followers of Islam refer to God by the name of Allah. Do not be shocked that almost all religions other than Islam do not believe that the ‘Allah’ that they are praying to is actually ‘God’. Just as the Jewish believers believe that Christians are not praying to God when we pray to Jesus the Jewish people don’t believe that the Islamic people are praying to a ‘God’ when they are praying to Allah. Also, the Islamic believing people do not believe that the Christians or the Jews are praying to ‘God’ because they are not praying to Allah. Islam calls the Christian and Jewish people the ‘people of The Book’. In this they are correct, just as they know that Islam does not believe in the teachings of ‘The Book’ (The Bible). So folks, it is obvious that the people of the Islamic faith when they are praying to Allah that by the Christian and Jewish beliefs these people are just praying to the open air at best and at worst, they are praying to the Devil Himself. I am not trying to be hateful here in this article, I am just pointing out some very obvious truths between the three Abrahamic Religions where the issue is prayer.

Democracy Lebanon Style

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF AL-AWSAT NEWS AGENCY)

Opinion

Opinion: When Lebanese Democracy Talks

The controversy surrounding the election of Donald Trump as US president made many outside America have another look at how its electoral system works. However, controversy is surely not limited to America; it extends to Lebanon, a faraway small country that boasts being an ‘institutional democratic’ state built on consensus and entente.

Many pose questions about the logic behind the American political system which values the electoral votes of individual states more than the direct popular votes of the electorate. The fact is that the USA is a federal country, thus its political representation needs to reflect two fundamental principles without which no healthy democracy can survive:
-The first is simple direct democracy whereby the numerical majority has the advantage over the numerical minority; and this is embodied in the House of Representatives where each state is represented by a number of congressmen relative to its population.
-The second is respect for national unity in a diverse society, where an individual in a populous state must enjoy no advantage over another individual from a less populous state before the federal law which must treat all Americans equally. The principle of national unity is enshrined in the Senate where all states, regardless of population, are equally represented by two senators each.

This great vision has helped make the American political system as a whole, one of the fairest and most advanced in the world. It has sustained an ever growing and geographically expanding country since the 16th century, attracting wave after wave of immigration; and through the years each American state based on its topography, natural environment, and economic resources had specific attributes and qualities despite free and smooth inter-state movement.

Of course Lebanon is far too small compared to the USA. Its ‘democratic’ experience is also pretty modest to compare with that of America’s ‘Founding Fathers’ and the legislations and agreements they adopted, even though these legislations and agreements failed to prevent the American Civil war (1861-1865), some vestiges of which remain until today. In fact, Lebanon too had a civil war in 1860 that helped create its almost ‘independent’ status; and as in America’s case, the vestiges of the war remain, while its borders have changed.

Still, size and global influence aside, there is another major difference between the American and Lebanese examples, which is that the Americans have learnt from their experiences, respected their institutions, and stopped bluffing themselves, which is not the case with the Lebanese.

In the USA no less than five presidents trailed their opponents in the popular votes, but abiding by the Constitution, the process led them to the White House. Moreover, despite the huge diversity in a country of 320 million inhabitants, there remains a good deal of healthy co-existence. We don’t hear people calling every day for a new electoral law that enhances the share of his or her ethnicity or religious sect. Nor do we hear of people calling for foreign intervention in their favor in the light of changing international policies.

Lebanon’s case, however, is totally different. Here, even the Lebanese constitution does not deal with its people as citizens but rather as members of sectarian flocks. The constitution which recognizes 17 sects, has “permanently” allocated each sect what has been deemed as its fair share of governmental position although population changes are continuous as are political disagreements.

Another interesting fact is that any Lebanese may spend his/her lifetime within the confines of his/her sect without interacting with other sects, beginning with birth, death, inheritance and marriage registries, and ending with education, health and employment. Thus, religious sects in Lebanon are de facto quasi-independent ‘states’, that have their own leaders, political parties, schools, universities, hospitals, and even sport clubs!

Given this situation and bearing in mind the vestiges of the past, the Lebanese have two living obsessions: the first is the ‘unfairness’ lamented by the Muslims who believe they are the majority that is long prevented from enjoying what it deserved under the French Mandate (1920-1943); and the second is the ‘fear’ felt by the Christians towards the ‘sea of Muslims’ surrounding them. The latter, led at first to separating Mount Lebanon from its surrounding area in 1861 and giving it the status of an ‘autonomous district’, i.e. “Mutassarrifiyya”, under the joint rule of the Ottoman Government and the European Powers, in order to ensure the ‘protection’ of the Christians. Then in 1920, it led to the creation of the current Lebanon (Grand Liban) under a Christian president, and a 6 to 5 parliamentary representation in the Christians’ favour that lasted until the ‘Taif Agreement’ in 1989.

Now, after ending ‘the presidential vacuum’ and forming the new cabinet, all that remains is electing a new parliament to replace the current one. The latter ended its four year term in 2013, but due to ongoing disagreement the scheduled elections were cancelled and its term extended. Still, disagreements continue regarding under what electoral law the forthcoming elections should be conducted, noting that almost all political parties and blocs refuse to carry on under the current multiple seat constituency law, popularly known as ‘The 1960 Law’.

There are many alternatives being put forward by parties and blocs ranging from full ‘proportional representation’ as preferred by Hezbollah and followers – which is understandable given its virtual armed hegemony – to the ‘Greek Orthodox Law’ whereby each sect elects its own members of parliament, including different ‘mixed’ versions combining direct vote and PR.

One alternative, however, that seems to be intentionally and stubbornly dismissed is the one calling for a bi-cameral parliament comprising: A Senate or Upper House elected by each sect, whereby all religious sects are equally represented and enjoy a ‘veto’ on issues adversely affecting their interests; and a House of Deputies or Representative, elected with no sectarian quota, with Lebanon as a single constituency, thus encouraging proper issue-based political parties after ridding the country of the two obsessions, i.e. the Muslims with ‘unfairness’ and the Christians with ‘fear’!

Why the idea of a Senate looks like being rejected out of hand, is not really surprising, if one keeps in mind the Lebanese eternal gamble in external forces and changes of regional and international balance of power. This remains the case despite the fact that the Lebanese Constitution, as adopted in Taif, called clearly for ‘wide decentralization’ and a ‘senate’.

Indeed, it has become a habit of Lebanon’s factions to demand justice and fairness when they are the underdogs, but seek hegemony when they feel they are winning.

Given such a mentality, any authority devised to curtail the ambitions of the powerful and defended the rights of the weak, has no chance of being accepted; as every faction hopes one day to be powerful enough to monopolize the country, and obliterate the others. Even the one who may be weak today would rather hope for an opportune moment to gamble again, and settle old scores.

In short, this is ‘electoral democracy – Lebanese Style’!

Eyad Abu Shakra

Eyad Abu Shakra

Eyad Abu Shakra is the managing editor of Asharq Al-Awsat. He has been with the newspaper since 1978.

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Revelation Chapter #8 (The Seventh Seal)

 

As we open chapter #8 of the book of Revelation our Lord Jesus The Christ is opening the Seventh of the Seven Seals of the Sealed Book which He had been given. When the Seal is opened we are introduced to the seven Angels with the seven Trumpets. If you have noticed it, the number 7 is quite heavily used within the book of Revelation just as it is a very popular number throughout the Old and the New Testament. Here we have spoken of the 7 Seals and afterwards the pattern continues with three more sets of 7. Yet there is also the same pattern like with the Seals where six events are grouped together then after a break then comes the seventh event. What the Apostle John was showing us by writing in this format is that all of these events are intertwined one with the others, they are not separate unconnected events.

 

These events are very scary without a doubt, but I do have great news for you, there is a way that these events will not affect you personally. You see, these events are after the Rapture, if we are faithful followers of Jesus Christ (Yeshua) we will already be in Heaven so the events going on here on the Earth will have no hold on us. Did you notice in the last sentence that I used the term ‘faithful followers?’ You see we must all be more than just hearers of the ‘Word of God’ we must all be ‘doers’ of His Word. Also there is the fact that we must be faithful followers otherwise we are not followers for without faith it is impossible to please Him. Amongst the things that Scripture teaches us is that we must be diligent workers for Him, we are told not to ‘bury’ our talents but to use them to expand the brotherhood of Christ. We are all ‘witnesses’ either for or against Christ, we do this by our daily actions. If we say we are Christians (followers of Christ) the examples we show to the rest of the world lets everyone we come into contact with ‘see’ what ‘Christians’ behave like. Everyone is always setting examples whether we wish to or not. Think about this for a moment please, your family members, your neighbors, your coworkers, and the people we come into contact with each day, if they know you are a Christian, or even if you go around telling people that you are a Christian, these people see how you actually perform your daily life. If you act like a donkey’s behind then you are being a ‘lukewarm’ Christian and Jesus says He will vomit you out of His mouth. You see, lukewarm Christians help discourage young and or weak Christians and they turn away new people from becoming Christians by their bad examples.

 

Here in Revelation we have read about the Seven Seals, then the 7 Trumpets, then the 7 Personalities, then the 7 Bowls of Wrath that will be poured out upon the Earth. Once we get into this chapter we are told what takes place as Jesus opens the 7th of the 7 Seals. It reads “And when He (Jesus) opened the 7th Seal, there was silence in Heaven for the space of about a half of an hour.” Friends, this is the proverbial calm before the storm. Chapter #8 only contains a total of 13 verses. I am going to type these out for the purpose of helping those who are not able to get their hands on a Bible at this time.

 

“And I saw 7 Angels which stood before God and to them were given 7 Trumpets.”

“And another Angel came and stood at the Altar, having a golden censer and there was given to him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all the Saints upon the Golden Altar which was before the Throne.”

“And the smoke of the incense which was presented with the prayers of the Saints, ascended up before God out of the Angel’s hand.”

“And the Angel took the sensor and filled it with fire from the Altar and cast it onto the Earth and there were voices and thundering and lightning and an earthquake.”

“And the 7 Angels with the 7 Trumpets prepared themselves to sound their Trumpets.”

“The first Angel blew His Trumpet and there came hail and fire mingled with blood and they were cast upon the Earth and 1/3 of all the trees were burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.”

“Then the second Angel blew his Trumpet and there was a great mountain burning with fire and it was cast into the Sea and a 1/3 part of the Sea became blood.”

“And a 1/3 of the creatures which were in the Sea that had life died and 1/3 of the ships were destroyed.”

“And the third Angel sounded his Trumpet and there fell a great Star from Heaven, burning as if it were a torch and it fell upon 1/3 of the rivers and upon the fountains of waters.”

“And the name of the star is called Wormwood and many men died from drinking the waters because they were made bitter.”

“Then the 4th Angel sounded his Trumpet and a 1/3 of the Sun was smitten and also 1/3 of the Moon and 1/3 of the Stars; so as 1/3 part of them was darkened and the day shown not for 1/3 part of it and the night likewise.”

“Then I beheld and heard an Angel flying through the midst of Heaven, saying with a loud voice, woe, woe, woe, to the inhabitants of the Earth for reason of the other Voices of the Trumpets of the three Angels, which are yet to sound.”

 

These events that the Apostle John is telling us about are truly going to be the most horrible of times for anyone who is left here after the Rapture. It would be great if every human on the planet were performing their lives in the manner in which the Scriptures tells us we are to do. If this were the case then the only ones here on the face of the Earth would be Satan and His Angels, truly this would be a great case of left home alone. I know that there is no one on this planet that I hate enough that I would want them to be here when these events are unfolding, not even the man who killed my own Mom would I wish such evil upon. Friends, we as Christians must not be filled with hate toward anyone nor are we to be judges of others. Jesus is love, and it is only Jesus who will judge each and every one of us. Folks we all have an obligation to our family members, friends, neighbors and coworkers to be a shining light/example to them of being the best follower of Christ that we are able to. Please consider the words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 when he wrote “behold I shew you a mystery; we shall not all sleep (die) but we shall be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling (blink) of an eye, at the last Trumpet: for the Trumpet shall sound and the dead shall be raised incorruptible and we shall be changed.” Please consider another passage written by the Apostle Paul that I am choosing to close this message with to you tonight. “For the Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel and with the Trumpet of God and the dead in Christ shall rise first.” Every day when we wake up we all have a decision to make concerning how we will choose to live our life that day, we all either choose good, or bad, if we die today how do we really believe we will fare at our own judgement?

The Book Of Revelation: Chapter #6

 

Revelation: Chapter #6

Chapter #6, this is where the beginning of the ‘Great Tribulation’ period here on the Earth begins. When the Apostle John was in Heaven (in his Spirit) these are the events that he beheld. Now, as Jesus (Yeshua) broke each of the Seven Seals of the Book that had been bound in Heaven that no one else could break, John witnessed the events upon the Earth as each Seal was broken. There are only 17 verses in this chapter, so I am going to type them down for those who do not have access to a Bible. After we read these 17 verses we will then break down each of the events so that we can have a better understanding of what we are being told.

“And I (John) saw when the Lamb (Jesus) opened one of the Seals and I heard what was like the noise of thunder and one of the four Beasts said to me, come and see.”

“And I saw and beheld a White Horse, and He that sat on him had a bow; and a Crown was given to Him; and He went forth conquering and to conquer.”

“And when He had opened the Second Seal, I heard the second Beast say to me, come and see.”

“And there went out another Horse which was Red, and power was given to Him that sat upon this Horse to take peace from the Earth so that people would kill one another. And there was given to Him a great sword.”

“And when He had opened the Third Seal, I heard the third Beast say to me, come and see. And I beheld, and lo there was a Black Horse. And He that sat upon him had a pair of scales in His hand.”

“And I heard a voice in the midst of the four Beasts say, a measure (1 quart) of wheat for a penny (1 day’s wages). And three measures (3 quarts) of barley for a penny ( day’s wages). But see that you do no hurt to the oil or the wine.”

“And when He had opened the Fourth Seal, I heard the voice of the fourth Beast say to me, come and see.”

“And I looked and beheld a Pale Horse: and His name that sat upon him was Death, and Hell followed with Him. And power was given unto them over one-fourth part of the Earth, to kill with the sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with wild beasts of the Earth.”

“And when He had opened the Fifth Seal, I saw under the Altar the Souls of them that were slain for the Word of God and the testimony which they held.”

“And they cried with a loud voice, saying, how long, O Lord, Holy and True, until you judge and avenge our blood on those that dwell on the Earth?”

“And White Robes was given to every one of them. And it was said unto them that they should rest (be quiet) yet for a little season (while),  until their fellow Servants also and their Brethren, that would be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.”

“And I beheld when He had opened the Sixth Seal, and lo, there was a great earthquake; and the Sun became black as sackcloth hair and the Moon became as blood (turned red).”

“And the Stars of Heaven fell on to the Earth, even as a fig tree casts away her untimely figs, when she is shaken from a mighty wind.”

“And the Heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.”

“And the Kings of the Earth and the great men and the rich men and the Chief Captains (military leaders) and the mighty men and the bondmen (slaves) and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and under the rocks of the mountains.”

“And (these people) said to the mountains and the rocks, fall on us and hide us from the face of Him that sits upon the Throne (The Holy Father/Yahweh), and from the wrath of the Lamb (Jesus/Yeshua).

“For the great day of His wrath has come; and who will be able to stand?”

Okay friends, that is the 17 verses of this chapter. I will now do my best to point out the definitions of some of the things written in this chapter that might be stumping a few of you. Folks, chapter six is the dividing point within the book of Revelation. But before we get into this break down I would like you to look up something that the Apostle Peter wrote in the book of Second Peter chapter #1  verse # 20 “Knowing this first, that no Prophecy of the Scripture is of any interpretation.” I am no different from many millions of you in the reality that God’s Holy Spirit indwells me, as He does you. All Scripture is given by the Holy Spirit, we all form the “Body of Christ” and like any body, it has many parts, many different gifts. Peter is speaking that no one Prophecy stands as an island unto its own. All Prophecy is given by the Holy Spirit and all Biblical Prophecy stands together as one unit, they are all pieces that fit together as in one puzzle, or one Book. If you think back into the different Prophecies within the Old Testament they fall into place, Prophecy is about the things that are yet to happen, about the future. Prophecy is not about the past, that is simply called History. Revelation is a Book of Prophecy, we are being told what the final chapters of the Earth and humankind is. I want to make this point as clear as I can, in the Book of Revelation chapters 6 through 20 are about events that are yet to happen.

Now, let’s start with that First Seal. The rider of this White Horse is the Antichrist. He is a fake ‘Saviour’, the people will be begging for help from anywhere they think they can get it. Wanting to be rescued from all the bloodshed and famine they will want peace at any price and they will ‘elect’ their own destroyer. Right now this world we are living in is ripe for the Dictators who are being elected freely by the people themselves. Look at the current leadership in Turkey, the Philippines, the so-called democracies in the Arab World. What about the current situation here in the U.S.? Friends, there will be no peace here on this Earth because the powers that be, the super rich, the super powerful survive through the chaos they themselves create. When they just promote one of their own to the Throne of their countries, it is just the same evil for the people, just with a different face.

The Second Seal, the Red Horse of War. The fake peace that the Antichrist of the First Seal was just a ruse, we all know the story, a politician promises the people one thing, then they get hold of the reigns of power and what the people get is a ruthless power-hungry Dictator. In the first Book of the New Testament, the book of Matthew please read chapter 24 verse 2. This is where Jesus tell His Apostles that where they were at, the Temple in Jerusalem, that there will be a day when not one stone will be left upon another. A lot of folks believe that the destruction of the Temple happened when the Romans destroyed the Temple in  A.D. 72. Folks, the people who teach this are wrong, the event that the Lord was speaking of had nothing to do with the Romans. The reason I know this is simple, have you ever heard of the Wailing Wall or the West Wall which is at the Temple Mount? Friends, this is part of the West Wall of Solomon’s Temple, there are many stones, one upon another still in existence. The event that Jesus was referring to, has not happened yet. For your own thoughts, what is powerful enough to level Jerusalem and the Temple Mount to where there would not be one stone left upon another? To me, the answer is obvious, is it really a secret to you? I believe an event like Israel deciding to go ahead with the plan to build Synagogues on all four corners of the Temple Mount would infuriate the Arab World and if one of them has nukes (Iran), they would use them on Israel, this is the only thing I can think of that could cause the event of which Jesus spoke of. What kind of “peace” do you think the world will be in when this happens?

The Third Horseman, when Jesus broke the Third Seal the rider of the Black Horse came forth. The Black Horse represents ‘mourning’. There are a few paragraphs of Scripture I wish you to read so that you will understand better what I am saying. These Scriptures are Jeremiah 4:28 and Malachi 3:14. After the arrival of the Third Horseman there will be a world-wide famine. Please read Lamentations 4: 8-9 “There appearance is blacker than coal; they are not known in the streets (they look so bad they can’t be recognized): their skin clings to their bones; it is withered, it is become like a stick. Those that are killed with the sword are better off than those that will be slain with hunger. For these wither away, stricken through for want of fruits of the field.” Famine and disease will be the norm in these times. The wealthy will still have their wine and their oil in these times just as it has always been throughout human history. Those whom have the most will be the least, and the last affected, just as it has always been. Yet these events, will be on a global scale, every Nation on Earth will be infected.

The opening of the Fourth Seal: The Rider of the Pale Horse. The Pale Horse represents plague and pestilence. When Jesus was upon the Mount of Olivet He spoke what has become known as the Olivet Discourse. Please read Matthew chapter 24: 5-8. Please take the time to read and understand these words the Lord spoke about the four Events are the Horsemen. These events are about to happen with the opening of the Fourth Seal, these events folks will kill a full one-fourth of the whole world’s population. If you used the population of the Earth today as an example, that would be about one billion seven hundred million people would die. Remember the Lord’s words concerning this matter: “Except those days be shortened, there would be no flesh saved, but for the Elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” These “Elect” that the Lord is speaking of are the ones who have been left on Earth after the Rapture who have decided to turn to God/Jesus and believe in and to follow after the Lord and His teachings. Most people when they fall upon hard times and I do mean very hard times, tend to curse God and to turn their back on God and walk away from Him, a few do just the opposite, they turn to God in these times, these are the ones being spoken of here. If you honestly think about it, if the Rapture happened today, would even 10% of the people who say they are Christians be taken up with the Lord at that time? Do you remember in the “Left Behind” movie where even the ‘Preacher’ got left behind? If we do not have faith, it is impossible to please Him!

The opening of the Fifth Seal and the prayers of the martyred Saints. The Souls mentioned here that are under the Altar of God. These are the Souls of the people who have been murdered for their doing of God’s word, their teaching and living according to God’s word. These are those who lived during the time frame of the ‘Old Testament’. Please open your Bible to the Gospel of Luke and read chapter 11:50-51. Our Lord spoke on this matter “That the blood of all the Prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world may be required of this generation. From the blood of Able (Adam and Eve’s son) unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the Altar and the Temple. Verily I say unto you, it shall be required of this generation.”

With the opening of the Sixth Seal, the Lord’s ‘Day of Wrath’ has come. But the good thing is for those still upon the Earth, this is the beginning of the end of the Tribulation period. These events though are horrifying just in reading them. Please reread chapter 6 verses 12-14, also please read Revelation 20:11 and the Old Testament Prophet Nahum 1:5. Friends, it is easy to see how pathetic and weak humans are and will be upon the Lord’s return. Folks, the Demons and Satan Himself have already learned this horrible lesson but we humans have self-induced blindness toward the word of God. We humans are walking hand in hand with the very same Demons we have chosen to worship and to serve and those that do so will be their servants in Hell for ever and ever. Folks, what we don’t know can and will do more than just destroy us in this life.

The Seventh Seal does not get opened until the beginning of the eight chapter so for you who want to read ahead and have any questions, go ahead and do so. I am never ever going to tell a person to not read the Bible. I wish that all humans wanted to see, understand and believe in God’s teachings to us. I do believe that time is running short for the human race, for me personally I know that because of my health that my time left here is very short. We all very badly need to turn our lives over to God. We all have flaws, we all make mistakes, none of us are perfect and God knows these things about us. Our lives come down to faith, what do we put our faith in? If we put our faith in our Creator, if we live our lives according to His teachings of love then we have no need to fear the events that will happen to us after this life is over. Lord willing I will speak with you soon when I do my best to breakdown chapter seven. Shalom