Thursday, February 18, 2021

False Prophets

 NYT - Christian Prophets Are on the Rise. What Happens When They’re Wrong?
The New York Times reports: "The desire to divine the future is a venerable one, fueling faith in figures from ancient Greek oracles to modern astrologists. Christianity in particular is a religion whose foundational text is filled with prophecies proven true by the end of the book. Whether the gift of prophecy continues into the present day has long been the subject of intense theological debate. But in recent years, self-described prophets have proliferated across the country, accelerating in stature over the course of the Trump era. They are stars within what is now one of the fastest-growing corners of Christianity: a loose but fervent movement led by hundreds of people who believe they can channel supernatural powers — and have special spiritual insights into world events."

Comment: This is an interesting news report that sheds light on the rise of a new class of prophets delving into the world of politics and getting it wrong. To most Christians, prophecy is not something to be made light of, it's serious business because of what it means. A prophet, in the Biblical sense, is someone who has been given a message from God about things that will come to pass. In this context, Bible prophecy is always correct. God knows that past, the present and the future. So when God reveals the "future" to us, it has already happened from the divine perspective. It is a message intended to remind us of the sovereign power of God as well as his mercy in preparing us for what will be. So, for a prophet to say, "hey, I just had an off day, got it wrong," just doesn't work. That's why in the Bible, the penalty for false prophets was execution. They didn't tolerate people running around saying God told them something and having it be wrong. It makes a mockery of God to tolerate that. I wonder if we should return to the Biblical standard for false prophets?

Friday, February 12, 2021

Pestilence

 NPR - 2nd Person Dies Of Ebola In Congo, Marking Virus's Return

NPR reports: "A second person who had contracted the Ebola virus died this week in the Democratic Republic of Congo, marking another outbreak just three months after the nation outlasted the virus's second-worst outbreak in history. [...] Ebola is a severe, often fatal illness, according to the WHO. It causes fever, fatigue and muscle pain at the start. Victims then suffer from vomiting, diarrhea, rash, and in some cases internal and external bleeding. [...] The resurgence of the illness now is not wholly unexpected, the WHO said on Feb. 7. Ebola is 'endemic' in Congo, and the virus remains in animal reservoirs in the region."

Comment: How amazing that this fearsome disease is now considered a fact of life (like seasonal flu) in that region of the world. While we all worry about coronavirus, it's important to remember that these other viruses are still out there.

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Rumors of War

ZDNet -  Hacker modified drinking water chemical levels in a US city

ZDNet reports: "An unidentified hacker has accessed the computer systems for the water treatment facility in the city of Oldsmar, Florida, and has modified chemical levels to dangerous parameters. [...] Oldsmar city staff said that no tainted water was delivered to local residents as the attack was caught in time before any lye levels could be deployed. According to Sheriff Gualtieri, the hacker disconnected as soon as they modified the lye levels, and a human operator set the chemical level back to normal right away. Officials didn't attribute the attack to any specific hacker group or entity."

 See also:
NYT - ‘Dangerous Stuff’: Hackers Tried to Poison Water Supply of Florida Town
This report has a good summary of the international context with a focus on Iran.

Comment: Here we have a report of a confirmed cyberattack by an unknown actor. This attack is noteworthy for being an example of an attack that not only penetrated a protected system and accessed information, but also changed system controls that altered hardware settings and could have impacted the health and welfare of the citizens in the city. The attack was detected, not by an automated system, but by a human operator. The attacker's changes were corrected and no one was hurt in the incident.While media reports are emphasizing that this could have been a local hacker, it should also be noted that this could well have been a foreign hacker or a state-sponsored attack. A municipal utility is low-hanging fruit and represents an attractive target for a range of bad actors to test vulnerabilities and demonstrate proof-of-concept attacks.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Merry Christmas




I'm off for my holiday break and wanted to wish you all a happy and joyous Christmas. I know that the news we link to here is often grim but I'm sure that most of you who visit this site are Christians who understand that beyond the headlines we know that God is sovereign and always in control. We know that this effort to be watchful has a purpose and a focus, and that focus is on Jesus Christ.

We watch the signs of His return, but this season is all about the First Coming and not the Second Coming, so as we turn to our families and friends to celebrate the holidays we offer thanks and praise to God and above all, celebrate Jesus as the reason for the season. I'd like to leave you with the lyrics to one of my favorite holiday carols. I like this one because the words share the Good News of salvation.  Merry Christmas!

Hark the Herald Angels Sing
lyrics by Charles Wesley

Hark the herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled"
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
"Christ is born in Bethlehem"
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Christ by highest heav'n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin's womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris'n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Gog Alliance

Turkey says will not reverse Russian S-400S purchase despite US sanctions - Reuters

Reuters reports: "Turkey will not reverse its purchase of Russian S-400 missile defence systems and will take reciprocal steps after evaluating U.S. sanctions imposed over the acquisition, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday. [...] The United States says the S-400s pose a threat to its F-35 fighter jets and to NATO’s broader defence systems. Turkey rejects this and says S-400s will not be integrated into NATO."

 

The long process of Turkey leaving the Western alliance and joining with Russia and Iran has been something we have been following for a long time. According to prophetic scripture, it is their destiny to join in an invasion of Israel in the future. Although that seems far off, the continued estrangement of Turkey from the rest of NATO is now starkly apparent. How much longer will the Western alliance allow Turkey to remain a member? 

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Covenant With Many

Israel and UAE agreement to be signed in Washington will be designated as "peace treaty" - Axios

Axios reports: "The agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, expected to be signed within the next two weeks in Washington, D.C., will be a "treaty of peace" with the same legal and diplomatic status as peace agreements Israel has previously signed with Egypt and Jordan, Israeli and U.S. officials tell me. [...] No date has been set for the signing ceremony in Washington, according to Israeli officials, but the event is expected to take place the week of Sept. 14. [...] The White House plans to invite ambassadors of Arab countries, including those who do not have diplomatic relations with Israel, officials say. In doing so, the White House hopes to show the U.S.-brokered Israel-UAE agreement has broad support in the Arab world."

Comment: This is a bit of diplomatic slight of hand. To call this a "peace treaty" is intentionally deceptive, since these countries are not at war. I was pondering this when I went back to the prophetic scripture and realized that peace treaty is not explicitly stated nor implicitly implied in Daniel 9:27. Might this be (or perhaps become) the Covenant with Many?

Friday, August 14, 2020

Covenant With Many - Gog Alliance

Turkey, Iran say Israeli-UAE deal 'shameful,' harmful to Palestinians

UPI reports: "NATO ally Turkey and U.S. foe Iran on Friday denounced the normalization of ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, both saying the Persian Gulf state has abandoned Palestinians in their fight for a homeland. [...] As part of the agreement, Israel agreed to suspend controversial and widely condemned plans to annex parts of West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had promised the annexation against the wishes of the Palestinians and much of the West. The annexation was also part of Trump's Middle East peace plan."

Comment: Have you heard that a new Mideast peace plan has been approved by the United States, Israel and the United Arab Emirates? It happened this week and the enemies of Israel are not happy. The above linked news report explains that Turkey, Iran and the Palestinians are the big losers in this deal while Israel and moderate Arab states are winners. As we watch the members of the Gog Alliance fall into line according to the prophecy in Ezekiel we should note the absence of Russia. What role will Russia play in all of this? 

Finally, is this development prophetically important? If we see it in light of an ascendant Israel making peace with moderate Arab states while avoiding the be-all-end-all pitfall of Palestinian peace, then yes, it is important. As one commentator put it, "The Palestinian veto power over Israel’s relationship with the Arab world has suffered a major blow." This portends an Israel growing in power and influence in the region, while malcontents like Turkey and Iran are further marginalized. In those countries, grudges will be nurtured, weapons will be purchased and peoples will be prepared for conflict down the road.

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Rumors of War - Kings of the East

At least 20 killed in India-China Himalayan border dispute - UPI.com
UPI reports: "A decades-long border dispute between China and India in the Himalayas has turned deadly for the first time in nearly a half-century. [...] The western Himalayan border, where both countries fought the Sino-Indian War in 1962, had not seen a deadly conflict there since 1975, 45 years ago. Indian officials said there were casualties on both sides."

North Korea to deploy troops to demilitarized areas, restart drills in latest provocations - UPI.com
UPI reports: "North Korea announced Wednesday it would deploy troops to the Kaesong Industrial Zone and Mt. Kumgang tourist area, locations that were once the sites of joint economic ventures with South Korea, as Pyongyang continued to ratchet up tensions a day after it demolished an inter-Korean liaison office. "

Comment: Two news reports that suggest things area heating up in the East. First, when two nuclear powered countries start shooting at each other, we should take note.  China and India have been at war in the past and both have nuclear weapons and now there are reports of deadly skirmishes along the Himalayan border. Although the circumstances are not clear, the bottom line is, Indian troops died, so some kind of counter-attack or revenge attack is expected. Second, North Korea is throwing a tantrum. Yes, this does happen from time to time, but that fact does nothing to diminish the danger. Keep watching!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Pestilence

U.S. COVID-19 death toll surpasses 100,000 milestone - UPI.com
UPI reports: "The death toll from COVID-19 in the United States surpassed 100,000 people as of Wednesday afternoon. The United States has the world's highest death toll, with 100,271 connected to the virus and also has the greatest number of confirmed cases at 1,697,459, according to figures by Johns Hopkins University."

What about the rest of the world? The New York Times reports: "Outbreaks have accelerated especially sharply in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, with caseloads doubling in some countries about every two weeks. On Tuesday, the World Health Organization said it considered the Americas to be the new epicenter of the pandemic. And although much of the Middle East seemed to avert early catastrophe even as the virus ravaged Iran, case counts have lately been swelling in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates."

Comment: While there are those who seek to make this a political issue to divide people, this remains primarily a threat to public health and welfare. Most people I know take this seriously and are doing what they can to stop the spread of the virus.