He has slashed the state budget, frozen government contracts and reduced the pay of civil employees, all part of drastic austerity measures as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is buffeted by low oil prices.
But last year, Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s deputy crown prince, saw a yacht he couldn’t resist.
While vacationing in the south of France, Prince bin Salman spotted a 440-foot yacht floating off the coast. He dispatched an aide to buy the ship, the Serene, which was owned by Yuri Shefler, a Russian vodka tycoon. The deal was done within hours, at a price of approximately 500 million euros (roughly $550 million today), according to an associate of Mr. Shefler and a Saudi close to the royal family. The Russian moved off the yacht the same day.
It is the paradox of the brash, 31-year-old Prince bin Salman: a man who is trying to overturn tradition, reinvent the economy and consolidate power — while holding tight to his royal privilege. In less than two years, he has emerged as the most dynamic royal in the Arab world’s wealthiest nation, setting up a potential rivalry for the throne.
The rise of Prince bin Salman has shattered decades of tradition in the royal family, where respect for seniority and power-sharing among branches are time-honored traditions. Never before in Saudi history has so much power been wielded by the deputy crown prince, who is second in line to the throne. That centralization of authority has angered many of his relatives.
His seemingly boundless ambitions have led many Saudis and foreign officials to suspect that his ultimate goal is not just to transform the kingdom, but also to shove aside the current crown prince, his 57-year-old cousin, Mohammed bin Nayef, to become the next king. Such a move could further upset his relatives and — if successful — give the country what it has never seen: a young king who could rule the kingdom for many decades.
Crown Prince bin Nayef, the interior minister and longtime counterterrorism czar, has deep ties to Washington and the support of many of the older royals. Deciphering the dynamics of the family can be like trying to navigate a hall of mirrors, but many Saudi and American officials say Prince bin Salman has made moves aimed at reaching into Prince bin Nayef’s portfolios and weakening him.
This has left officials in Washington hedging their bets by building relationships with both men, unsure who will end up on top. The White House got an early sign of the ascent of the young prince in late 2015, when — breaking protocol — Prince bin Salman delivered a soliloquy about the failures of American foreign policy during a meeting between his father, King Salman, and President Obama.
Many young Saudis admire him as an energetic representative of their generation who has addressed some of the country’s problems with uncommon bluntness. The kingdom’s news media have built his image as a hardworking, businesslike leader less concerned than his predecessors with the trappings of royalty.
Others see him as a power-hungry upstart who is risking instability by changing too much, too fast.
Months of interviews with Saudi and American officials, members of the royal family and their associates, and diplomats focused on Saudi affairs reveal a portrait of a prince in a hurry to prove that he can transform Saudi Arabia. Prince bin Salman declined multiple interview requests for this article.
But the question many raise — and cannot yet answer — is whether the energetic leader will succeed in charting a new path for the kingdom, or whether his impulsiveness and inexperience will destabilize the Arab world’s largest economy at a time of turbulence in the Middle East.
Tension at the Top
Early this year, Crown Prince bin Nayef left the kingdom for his family’s villa in Algeria, a sprawling compound an hour’s drive north of Algiers. Although he has long taken annual hunting vacations there, many who know him said that this year was different. He stayed away for weeks, largely incommunicado and often refusing to respond to messages from Saudi officials and close associates in Washington. Even John O. Brennan, the C.I.A. director, whom he has known for decades, had difficulty reaching him.
The crown prince has diabetes, and suffers from the lingering effects of an assassination attempt in 2009 by a jihadist who detonated a bomb he had hidden in his rectum.
But his lengthy absence at a time of low oil prices, turmoil in the Middle East and a foundering Saudi-led war in Yemen led several American officials to conclude that the crown prince was fleeing frictions with his younger cousin and that the prince was worried his chance to ascend the throne was in jeopardy.
Since King Salman ascended to the throne in January 2015, new powers had been flowing to his son, some of them undermining the authority of the crown prince. King Salman collapsed the crown prince’s court into his own, giving Prince bin Salman control over access to the king. Prince bin Salman also hastily announced the formation of a military alliance of Islamic countries to fight terrorism. Counterterrorism had long been the domain of Prince bin Nayef, but the new plan gave no role to him or his powerful Interior Ministry.
The exact personal relationship between the two men is unclear, fueling discussion in Saudi Arabia and in foreign capitals about who is ascendant. Obscuring the picture are the stark differences in the men’s public profiles. Prince bin Nayef has largely stayed in the shadows, although he did visit New York last month to address the United Nations General Assembly before heading to Turkey for a state visit.
His younger cousin, meanwhile, has worked to remain in the spotlight, touring world capitals, speaking with foreign journalists, being photographed with the Facebook chairman Mark Zuckerberg and presenting himself as a face of a new Saudi Arabia.
“There is no topic that is more important than succession matters, especially now,” said Joseph A. Kechichian, a senior fellow at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies in Riyadh, who has extensive contacts in the Saudi royal family. “This matters for monarchy, for the regional allies and for the kingdom’s international partners.”
Among the most concrete initiatives so far of Prince bin Salman, who serves as minister of defense, is the Saudi-led war in Yemen, which since it was begun last year has failed to dislodge the Shiite Houthi rebels and their allies from the Yemeni capital. The war has driven much of Yemen toward famine and killed thousands of civilians while costing the Saudi government tens of billions of dollars.
The prosecution of the war by a prince with no military experience has exacerbated tensions between him and his older cousins, according to American officials and members of the royal family. Three of Saudi Arabia’s main security services are run by princes. Although all agreed that the kingdom had to respond when the Houthis seized the Yemeni capital and forced the government into exile, Prince bin Salman took the lead, launching the war in March 2015 without full coordination across the security services.
The head of the National Guard, Prince Mutaib bin Abdullah, had not been informed and was out of the country when the first strikes were carried out, according to a senior National Guard officer.
The National Guard is now holding much of the Yemeni border.
American officials, too, were put off when, just as the Yemen campaign was escalating, Prince bin Salman took a vacation in the Maldives, the island archipelago off the coast of India. Several American officials said Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter had trouble reaching him for days during one part of the trip.
The prolonged war has also heightened tensions between Prince bin Salman and Prince bin Nayef, who won the respect of Saudis and American officials for dismantling Al Qaeda in the kingdom nearly a decade ago and now sees it taking advantage of chaos in Yemen, according to several American officials and analysts.
“If Mohammed bin Nayef wanted to be seen as a big supporter of this war, he’s had a year and a half to do it,” said Bruce Riedel, a former Middle East analyst at the C.I.A. and a fellow at the Brookings Institution.
Near the start of the war, Prince bin Salman was a forceful public advocate for the campaign and was often photographed visiting troops and meeting with military leaders. But as the campaign has stalemated, such appearances have grown rare.
The war underlines the plans of Prince bin Salman for a brawny foreign policy for the kingdom, one less reliant on Western powers like the United States for its security. He has criticized the thawing of America’s relations with Iran and comments by Mr. Obama during an interview this year that Saudi Arabia must “share the neighborhood” with Iran.
This is part of what analysts say is Prince bin Salman’s attempt to foster a sense of Saudi national identity that has not existed since the kingdom’s founding in 1932.
“There has been a surge of Saudi nationalism since the campaign in Yemen began, with the sense that Saudi Arabia is taking independent collective action,” said Andrew Bowen, a Saudi expert at the Wilson Center in Washington.
Still, Mr. Bowen said support among younger Saudis could diminish the longer the conflict dragged on. Diplomats say the death toll for Saudi troops is higher than the government has publicly acknowledged, and a recent deadly airstrike on a funeral in the Yemeni capital has renewed calls by human rights groups and some American lawmakers to block or delay weapons sales to the kingdom.
People who have met Prince bin Salman said he insisted that Saudi Arabia must be more assertive in shaping events in the Middle East and confronting Iran’s influence in the region — whether in Yemen, Syria, Iraq or Lebanon.
Brian Katulis, a Middle East expert at the Center for American Progress in Washington, who met the prince this year in Riyadh, said his agenda was clear.
“His main message is that Saudi Arabia is a force to be reckoned with,” Mr. Katulis said.
A Swift Ascent
Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s few remaining absolute monarchies, which means that Prince bin Salman was given all of his powers by a vote of one: his own father.
The prince’s rise began in early 2015, after King Abdullah died of lung cancer and King Salman ascended to the throne. In a series of royal decrees, the new king restructured the government and shook up the order of succession in the royal family in ways that invested tremendous power in his son.
He was named defense minister and head of a powerful new council to oversee the Saudi economy as well as put in charge of the governing body ofSaudi Aramco, the state oil company and the primary engine of the Saudi economy.
More important, the king decreed a new order of succession, overturning the wishes of King Abdullah and replacing his designated crown prince, Muqrin bin Abdulaziz, with Prince bin Nayef.
While all previous Saudi kings and crown princes had been sons of the kingdom’s founder, Prince bin Nayef was the first of the founder’s grandsons to be put in line. Many hailed the move because of the prince’s success at fighting Al Qaeda and because he has only daughters, leading many to hope he would choose a successor based on merit rather than paternity.
The bigger surprise was that the king named Prince bin Salman deputy crown prince. He was 29 years old at the time and virtually unknown to the kingdom’s closest allies.
This effectively scrapped the political aspirations of his older relatives, many of whom had decades of experience in public life and in key sectors like defense and oil policy. Some are still angry — although only in private, out of deference to the 80-year-old king.
Since then, Prince bin Salman has moved quickly to build his public profile and market himself to other nations as the point man for the kingdom.
Domestically, his focus has been on an ambitious plan for the future of the kingdom, called Vision 2030. The plan, released in April, seeks to transform Saudi life by diversifying its economy away from oil, increasing Saudi employment and improving education, health and other government services. A National Transformation Plan, laying out targets for improving government ministries, came shortly after.
Read in one way, the documents are an ambitious blueprint to change the Saudi way of life. Read in another, they are a scathing indictment of how poorly the kingdom has been run by Prince bin Salman’s elders.
Official government development plans going back decades have called for reducing the dependence on oil and increasing Saudi employment — to little effect. And in calling for transparency and accountability, the plan acknowledges that both have been in short supply. Diplomats and economists say much about the Saudi economy remains opaque, including the cost of generous perks and stipends for members of the royal family.
The need for change is greater now, with global oil prices less than half of what they were in 2014 and hundreds of thousands of young Saudis entering the job market yearly. Prince bin Salman has called for a new era of fiscal responsibility, and over the last year, fuel, water and electricity prices have gone up while the take-home pay of some public sector employees has been cut — squeezing the budgets of average Saudis. He has also said the government will sell shares of Saudi Aramco, believed to be the world’s most valuable company.
Many Saudis say his age and ambition are benefits at a time when old ways of thinking must be changed.
“He is speaking in the language of the youth,” said Hoda al-Helaissi, a member of the kingdom’s advisory Shura Council, which is appointed by the king. “The country for too long has been looking through the lenses of the older generation, and we need to look at who is going to carry the torch to the next generation.”
Some of his initiatives have appeared ham-handed. In December, he held his first news conference to announce the formation of a military alliance of Islamic countries to fight terrorism. But a number of countries that he said were involved soon responded that they knew nothing about it or were still waiting for information before deciding whether to join.
Others have been popular. After Prince bin Salman called for more entertainment options for families and young people, who often flee the country on their vacations, the cabinet passed regulations restricting the powers of the religious police. An Entertainment Authority he established has planned its first activities, which include comedy shows, pro wrestling events and monster truck rallies.
The prince has kept his distance from the Council of Senior Scholars, the mostly elderly clerics who set official religious policy and often release religious opinions that young Saudis mock as being out of touch with modern life.
Instead, he has sought the favor of younger clerics who boast millions of followers on social media. After the release of Vision 2030, Prince bin Salman held a reception for Saudi journalists and academics that included a number of younger, tech-savvy clerics who have gone forth to praise the plan.
Prince bin Salman’s prominence today was difficult to predict during his early years, spent largely below the radar of Western officials who keep track of young Saudi royals who might one day rule the kingdom.
Several of King Salman’s other sons, who studied overseas to perfect foreign languages and earn advanced degrees, built impressive résumés. One became the first Arab astronaut, another a deputy oil minister, yet another the governor of Medina Province.
Prince bin Salman stayed in Saudi Arabia and does not speak fluent English, although he appears to understand it. After a private school education, he studied law at King Saud University in Riyadh, reportedly graduating fourth in his class. Another prince of the same generation said he had gotten to know him during high school, when one of their uncles hosted regular dinners for the younger princes at his palace. He recalled Prince bin Salman being one of the crowd, saying he liked to play bridge and admired Margaret Thatcher.
King Salman is said to see himself in his favorite son, the latest in the lineage of a family that has ruled most of the Arabian Peninsula for eight decades.
In 2007, when the United States ambassador dropped in on King Salman, then a prince and the governor of Riyadh Province, to say farewell at the end of his posting, the governor asked for help circumventing America’s stringent visa procedures. His wife could not get a visa to see her doctor, and although his other children were willing to submit to the visa hurdles, “his son, Prince Mohammed, refused to go to the U.S. Embassy to be fingerprinted ‘like some criminal,’” according to a State Department cable at the time.
Prince bin Salman graduated from the university that year and continued to work for his father, who was named defense minister in 2011, while dabbling in real estate and business.
Many members of the royal family remain wary of the young prince’s projects and ultimate ambitions. Some mock him as the “Prince of the Vision” and complain about his army of well-paid foreign consultants and image-makers.
Other are annoyed by the media cell he created inside the royal court to promote his initiatives, both foreign and domestic. Called the Center for Studies and Media Affairs, the group has focused on promoting a positive story about the Yemen war in Washington and has hired numerous Washington lobbying and public affairs firms to assist in the effort.
Inside the kingdom, the government has largely succeeded in keeping criticism — and even open discussion — of the prince and his projects out of the public sphere. His family holds sway over the parent company of many Saudi newspapers, which have breathlessly covered his initiatives, and prominent Saudi editors and journalists who have accompanied him on foreign trips have been given up to $100,000 in cash, according to two people who have traveled with the prince’s delegation.
Meanwhile, Saudi journalists deemed too critical have been quietly silenced through phone calls informing them that they are barred from publishing, and sometimes from traveling abroad.
In June, a Saudi journalist, Sultan al-Saad al-Qahtani, published an article in Arabic on his website, The Riyadh Post, in which he addressed the lack of discussion about Prince bin Salman’s rise.
“You can buy tens of newspapers and hundreds of journalists, but you can’t buy the history that will be written about you,” he wrote.
He said that the prince’s popularity among Saudis was based on a “sweeping desire for great change” and that they loved him based on the hope that he would “turn their dreams into reality.”
In that lay the risk, Mr. Qahtani wrote: “If you fail, this love withers quickly, as if it never existed, and is replaced by a deep feeling of frustration and hatred.”
The site was blocked the next day, Mr. Qahtani said, for the third time in 13 months. (It is now back up, at a new address.)
As sweeping and long-term as Prince bin Salman’s initiatives are, they may hang by the tenuous thread of his link to his father, who has memory lapses, according to foreign officials who have met with him. Even the prince’s supporters acknowledge that they are not sure he will retain his current roles after his father dies.
In the meantime, he is racing against time to establish his reputation and cement his place in the kingdom’s power structure.
His fast ascent, and his well-publicized foreign trips to Washington, Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere in Asia, have led senior Obama administration officials to consider the prospect that he could step over Prince bin Nayef and become Saudi Arabia’s next king.
This has led to a balancing act for American officials who want to build a relationship with him while not being used as leverage in any rivalry with Prince bin Nayef. Obama administration officials say relations with Prince bin Salman have generally improved, but only after a rocky start when he would routinely lecture senior Americans — even the president.
In November, during a Group of 20 summit meeting at a luxury resort on the Turkish coast, Prince bin Salman gave what American officials described as a lengthy speech about what he saw as the failure of American foreign policy in the Middle East — from the Obama administration’s restraint in Syria to its efforts to improve relations with Iran, Saudi Arabia’s bitter enemy.
Personal relationships have long been the bedrock of American-Saudi relations, yet the Obama administration has struggled to find someone to develop a rapport with the prince. The job has largely fallen to Secretary of State John Kerry, who has hosted the prince several times at his home in Georgetown. In June, the two men shared an iftar dinner, breaking the Ramadan fast. In September 2015, dinner at Mr. Kerry’s house ended with Prince bin Salman playing Beethoven on the piano for the secretary of state and the other guests.
In May, the prince invited Mr. Kerry for a meeting on the Serene, the luxury yacht he bought from the Russian billionaire.
His desire to reimagine the Saudi state is reflected in his admiration — some even call it envy — for the kingdom’s more modern and progressive neighbor in the Persian Gulf, the United Arab Emirates.
He has influential supporters in this effort, particularly the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who for more than a year has been promoting Prince bin Salman in the Middle East and in Washington.
Crown Prince bin Zayed, the United Arab Emirates’ de facto ruler, is a favorite among Obama administration officials, who view him as a reliable ally and a respected voice in the Sunni world. But he also has a history of personal antipathy toward Prince bin Nayef, adding a particular urgency to his support for the chief rival of the Saudi crown prince.
In April of last year, Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, Susan E. Rice, led a small delegation of top White House officials to visit Prince bin Zayed at his home in McLean, Va. During the meeting, according to several officials who attended, the prince urged the Americans to develop a relationship with Prince bin Salman.
But all questions about Prince bin Salman’s future are likely to depend on how long his father lives, according to diplomats who track Saudi Arabia.
If he died soon, Prince bin Nayef would become king and could dismiss his younger cousin as a gesture to his fellow royals. In fact, it was King Salman who set the precedent for such moves by dismissing the crown prince named by his predecessor.
“If the king’s health starts to deteriorate, Mohammed bin Salman is very likely to try to get Mohammed bin Nayef out of the picture,” said Mr. Riedel, the former C.I.A. analyst.
But the longer King Salman reigns, foreign officials said, the longer the young prince has to consolidate his power — or to convince Prince bin Nayef that he is worth keeping around if Prince bin Nayef becomes king.
Most Saudi watchers do not expect any struggles within the family to spill into the open, as all the royals understand how much they have to lose from such fissures becoming public or destabilizing their grip on the kingdom.
“I am persuaded as someone who focuses on this topic that the ruling family of Saudi Arabia above all else puts the interest of the family first and foremost,” said Mr. Kechichian, the analyst who knows many royals.
“Not a single member of the family will do anything to hurt the family.”
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Jonah is the Prophet of the God of Israel that is know in most children’s stories as the man who got swallowed by a big fish and was spit out three days later. The issue here was that God gave him a directive to do something that he did not want to do so he got on a ship going in the opposite direction of where he was order to go. This event happened in about the year 759-758 BC. God had directed Jonah to go to the city on Nineveh and proclaim a message to them that if they did not repent of their evil ways and change their ways that they and their whole city would be destroyed my God in 40 days hence. The issue here is that Jonah hated the people of Nineveh and he did not want them to repent, he wanted God to destroy them instead. Nineveh was a huge and powerful city that was known far and wide as a ruthless people and basic logic would have said that Jonah was probably a bit afraid of going there. This event would have occurred during the reign of Nineveh’s King Ashurdan the third (773-755 BC).
Jonah was born in the town of Gath-hepher which was about 3 miles north of Nazareth in lower Galilee. This would have made him a Prophet of the Northern Kingdom. This fact also meant that the religious leaders of Jesus time the (Pharisees) were wrong when they said about Jesus in (John 7:52) search (the Scriptures) and look; for out of Galilee there has come no Prophets. There is a Jewish tradition that Jonah was the son of the boy who Elijah raised from the dead. You can find this story in the book of (1 Kings 17 8-24). Jesus Himself did support the historical accuracy of this book in (Matthew 12: 39-41). In this Scripture is the only time where Jesus ever likened Himself to a Prophet when Jesus spoke of Jonah being in the belly of the whale for three days and that He would also be in the heart of the Earth for three days.
Being that Jonah was in northern Israel when God told him to go to Nineveh which was to his north-east Jonah thought he could run from God and His directive by getting on a ship and sailing west to Tarshish (Spain). While Jonah was on that ship a huge storm came up and the men on board who were very superstitious started looking around to find out who might have angered “the God’s”. Jonah stepped up and admitted what he had done so he told the men to throw him overboard so that they could be saved, they did and the storm calmed down. When Jonah hit the water a huge fish (probably a whale) swallowed him whole. Jonah survived in the belly of the fish for three days. During this time Jonah came to grips with his situation and repented of his sin and the fish spit him out onto dry land apx 20 miles from Nineveh.
If you were a citizen of Nineveh think of this scenario for a moment please. From 20 miles to the south of your city a man whom would be physically quite pink from the acids of the whales belly walks through your city and out the north end while proclaiming one sentence over and over, “40 days and Nineveh shall be overthrown.” Much to Jonah’s irritation the King and all the people sat in sackcloth and ashes while praying to the Lord for mercy. After Jonah had walked through the city he found himself a good viewing spot on top of a hill to where he could see if God would destroy the city and these evil people, or not.
While Jonah sat there waiting God planted a gourd that grew quickly which gave Jonah shade from the heat and the hot winds. Yet early the next morning God made a worm that ate the gourd killing it. Jonah soon passed out from the heat beating down on him. Once he woke up he was very mad about the gourd dying. God used this event as a teaching moment for Jonah. God asked Jonah why it was that he was so upset about a plant dying especially one that he had not planted or nourished in any way. Yet he (Jonah) wanted God to destroy this huge city and all of its inhabitants? To make a long story short God did not destroy Nineveh at that time because the King and all the people repented. Two generations after this event God did destroy the city as the ancestors of the people reverted to their old violent ways. I believe that a lesson to us all is that we need to try to look at life and at other people in our lives through the eyes of the Holy Spirit. All Christians are a tabernacle in which the Spirit of God resides and we should always try to see through His eyes, not through the eyes of humans.
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Yesterday I read a couple of different news articles on-line where the President of the Palestinian Authority Mr. Abbas said that “the Palestinian people will not settle for anything less than an independent state with East Jerusalem as their capital.” He also said that Israel would “have to return to the 1967 borders that existed before the “6 day war”. Considering that Israel made a huge mistake in letting these people have the Gaza Strip and the West Bank in August of 2005 in what was dubbed by PM Areal Sharon of Israel as a ‘land for peace’ deal with the Palestinian people was and is a disaster for the people of Israel. On August 10th of 2005 after he had resigned from the government then private citizen Netanyahu called this deal, and I quote “evil”. If a person had any knowledge of the Middle-East and the situation on the ground they would have to have known that all that the then government of Israel had done was to give the people who hate them closer locations in which to continue their attacks upon Israel’s citizens. I wrote at that time that what PM Sharon had done was pure evil because no one and I do mean no one had the authority to give away the land that God Himself had given to the people of Israel. I also wrote at that time that God Himself would punish Mr. Sharon for this evil and that he would pay a terrible price for what he had done. In January of 2006 the PM suffered a massive stroke where he stayed in a coma for 8 years until his death on January 11th, 2014.
Shortly after America elected our current Shiite President in January of 2009 Mr. Obama on his first visit to Israel as our President, without clearing his proclamation with the government of Israel stated publicly that Israel would go back to the borders of the pre six-day war of 1967. President/King Obama was then told by the government of Israel that this was not going to happen thus overtly setting off his hatred for Israels PM and their government that has only grown more intense throughout his 8 yrs in office. In June of 2007 Hamas started a war with the PA and ran them out of the Gaza Strip. Now Israel is having to deal with both the PA in the West Bank and with Hamas in the Gaza Strip everyday. The Obama administration and the U.N. call Israel “the Occupiers” saying that Israel is occupying Palestinian land because of the ground Israel “re-took” in the 6 day war of 1967.
No, the truth is that the Palestinian people and the people of Hamas are on ground that is still owned by Israel and will always be owned by Israel, they are only there by the ignorance of former PM Sharon. Giving land to the people who hate you and want nothing more than for you and all of your people to die is pure insanity. Israel is not ever going to go back to the pre 1967 borders because this land has been the property of Israel since God Himself gave it to them about 3,500 yrs ago when they came up out of Egypt. In the 7th century A.D. the believers of a new religion of hate called Islam butchered their way into domination of all the Middle-East including Israel. In 1948 A.D. by a U.N. agreement the Nation of Israel was reborn although with only a very small sliver of the land that was Biblical Israel. In the 6 day war of 1967 Israel took back another small piece of their land yet they gave a lot of this land to Egypt in 1972 in a deal for peace with Egypt and even this caused the death of Egypt’s President Mr. Sadat by his own military. Folks, there is no such thing as ‘land for peace’ with the PA or with Hamas. I have said for years now that when President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are no longer in office as of January 20th, 2017 that they and all of their families should be forced to spend their next eight years living along the border with Hamas being they love them so much. They keep telling the world how safe it is for the people of Israel to live there, they should have to live there to prove that point.
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Tonight I am going to write this article to you about and of the word yoke. I am going to speak to you of the literal and of the spiritual forms of this word. In Mr. Websters Dictionary you find the definition written as “A wooden bar put across the necks of two animals to hold them together to plow. A bond or tie, to put on a yoke, to couple, unite.” In my King James version (KJV) of the Bible, in its index the word yoke is used figuratively in a few places also. There are seven examples given that I would like to touch on. In the book of Deuteronomy 28:47-49 God spoke to the people of Israel through His servant Moses because they had refused to follow the commandments that God had already given them. Please consider God’s words to the people of Israel. “Because you have not served the Lord you God with joyfulness and with gladness of heart for the abundance of all your things. Therefore you shall serve your enemies which I shall send against you. I shall send a nation against you. You shall be hungry and thirsty and naked and in want of all things: And he shall put a yoke of iron upon your neck until he has destroyed you. I shall bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as swift as an eagle fly’s: A nation whose language you will not understand.” Now, readers if you do not believe that the Lord is capable of anger and fury upon the nation of Israel who are ‘His chosen people’ then please read on through verse 63. If you can picture these horrific conditions in your mind’s eye. For those of you whom do not believe that God would pour out His wrath upon His creatures that He has made simply do not know what the Scriptures say, or they simply do not choose to believe that the Bible is God’s word. Please read, learn and understand your Creator a little better. Ignorance is not beautiful and ignorance will cost you your own life twice.
In the book of First Kings 12: 4-14 you find another type of yoke, the type that a King or government can put upon their own people and some of the consequences there of. After the death of King Solomon who was the son of King David had died his son Rehoboam was made King of Israel. The people of Israel came to their new king and asked that the physical and financial burden lightened from that which his dad had placed upon them. The new king consulted with the older men whom had been consultants for his dad and they told him that it would be a good idea to listen to the people and lighten his yoke upon them. Unfortunately the new king also consulted his friends that he grew up with and they told him that he should instead greatly increase their burdens. When the people came back to hear what the king had to say they were told that un-wisdom of his young friends. The people then told the king that they would no longer have anything to do with the ‘House of David’ and left. Jerusalem is located in the tribal land of Judah which is in southern Israel so the ten northern tribes removed themselves from the alliance with the only other of the twelve tribes staying loyal to the new king was the tribe of Benjamin. Cause and effect folks, for each action there tends to be a reaction. In the book of Jeremiah 27:8 you see the term yoke used in regard to one Nation upon another Nation because of them not following the Lords will.
In the book of Lamentations 1: 12-19 you see where the Lord laid a horrible yoke upon Judah and Jerusalem because they had turned their back on the Lord and His commandments and chose instead to serve sin. In a very real sense the Bible is a history book for all people to learn from because if we do not learn from our ignorance and stupidity, we do tend to repeat those errors again and again. We humans refuse to learn then we sit and wonder why our Lord is allowing us to be treated so badly. This is a truth that isn’t exclusive to 3,000 years ago, if we choose to act evil and stupid God does place burdens upon us today that if we preformed our lives in a more Godly manner we would not be having to face. If a father or mother will not chasten and correct their own child then they do not love the child.
In Galatians 5: 1 the Apostle Paul wrote “stand fast therefore in the liberty wherein Christ has made us free and do not get entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” You see, the Old Testament is the ‘old law’ to the house of Israel. This Law is of the commandment’s that the people of Israel had to obey just like what a government or police agency does today. A person before the time of the resurrection of Christ could be saved from Hell’s fire and torment if they simply obeyed the commandments so in a sense, he could save himself as long as he did as told. In the first century A.D. the Christian religion was against the law of the Roman Empire and because they were being drug out of their homes and killed there were many of the Jewish converts that wanted to go back to the old law so that they would not be killed by the Jewish authorities and the Romans. Paul was telling them that they could not go back to the old ‘yoke’ of Judaism and still be saved from the second death which is Hell, the separation from God is the second death. We are all saved by the law of the Grace of God since Christ arose from the dead. Just obeying the commandment’s of God is not enough any longer because if we do not love God and have faith in Him, we are dead already.
During the ‘Old Law’ the Hebrew people were forbidden to marry outside the ‘House of Israel’. In the book of 2nd Corinthians 6: 14 the Apostle Paul spoke of the yoke of hardship that is placed upon a Christian who marries outside the Christian faith but he nor God disallowed it any longer. We are also told that if you are married to a non-Christian and that person chooses to leave you to just let them go. This is their sin and their sin is not going to be held against you but we are all commanded to act in a Christian manner in our marriage even when we are not married to a Christian.
I am going to close this post tonight with something that I have never done in any of my posts before. These words you will be able to find in the book of Matthew 11: 28-30. These are words from Jesus/Yahshua (the Hebrew translation) to everyone whom would ever be on Earth from that moment forward. “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me: for I am meek and lowly in heart and you shall find rest unto your Souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” With these words, the words of the Savior of the whole world, our Lord and your Lord Jesus Christ, I bid you goodnight.
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When King Solomon was this stupid, what chance do the rest of us have?
If you are a person who believes the stories that are written in the Bible to be truthful, then we humans are in a world of poop. By what the Bible says and what Jewish history says then there once was a King in Israel called Solomon the son of King David. It is said that God granted the young King Solomon a wish and instead of Solomon asking for riches and long life he instead asked for the wisdom that he would need to rule over the House of Israel. This is when it is said that God granted him a level of wisdom beyond that of any human ever. If you are this young man and you absolutely believe in God, you are granted all of this wisdom, you become the wealthiest human that has ever lived, you should also be the happiest person that has ever lived, wouldn’t you? God has granted you everything on a silver, excuse me, a gold platter, God has even granted you the long life and riches you didn’t ask for. What more could one human being ask for? O, yes, he should have requested enough blood to be running through his veins to operate both of his heads.
God did warn Solomon about taking wives from other lands whom worshiped other “gods”. I believe the number quoted in Scripture was that in Solomon’s latter years he had 300 wives and 700 secondary wives. Many of these 300 wives were like “treaty” wives. These were daughters of other rulers from around the known world. You know how it is supposed to work, you marry one of my daughters so now we both know that we won’t attack the other, that we will now be allies. One of the issues in this type of system is the reality that these women would bring their customs and their “gods” into Solomon’s Castle. These women would and did turn Solomon’s heart away from the God he knew existed toward some of the “other gods” his favorite wives served. Simply put guys, the wisest human being (man) that has ever lived couldn’t control his lustful human side. Friends, this is discouraging to say the least. If the wisest person who ever lived couldn’t control his sexual urges even when he had at least 1,000 women he could bed at any time he chose to, then what chance do us other poor blokes have of keeping it in our pants, or robes, and staying out of divorce court, a thousand times?
I am not going to lie to you, between my two marriages I was with several ladies, but not during my two marriages. Was I wrong in having sex outside of marriage, by Scripture, yes. Was I sinning, yes? Am I perfect, no, of course not. But, during my two marriages I have not once cheated, not even to the point of touching another woman at all. My first wife did not have a problem with spreading herself around, that marriage lasted less that two years. The young lady that I am hitched to now (17 yrs) has been faithful and true as I have been to her. For me I chose not to mess around on my first wife even though she showed me no such courtesy. I chose not to because I was taught that those actions was by faith and by love things a person would not/should not ever do. My current wife and I have never ever cheated on the other, for the same reasons, Scripture forbids me and because I love her and I know that me cheating would be a deal breaker that would crush her, and I refuse to treat her like that. These are the two reasons that I am wiser that the wisest man who has ever lived, well okay, on this one issue, maybe. The wisest man who has ever lived was a huge screw up, thank you Lord for your Grace because it is very obvious we humans tend to have a major case of stupid going on.
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