“The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night: if you will inquire, inquire ye: return come.” (Isaiah 21:12)
We are in the Morning - the Millennial Day - but the night, the Time of Trouble precedes the blessings. Certainly, no one who has even a little understanding of the Truth, will deny that we are in the Time of Trouble. And it has escalated greatly during the past year. We had hoped the war in Iraq would be short and it was in the sense of the basic attack, but the peace and rebuilding is proving very elusive. Also, crime has increased, as well as suicide bombings in several countries, and protests and riots all over the world. There is no peace anywhere. We also have had the elements bombarding different parts of the world with hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, etc., not forgetting the blackouts in the U.S. and Europe and the devastating forest fires in California. And we do not have to mention the trouble in Israel, how it has become very critical. Screams of agony echo throughout the Land as terror attack follows terror attack.
We may rejoice that the blessed morning of the Millennial Kingdom is at hand, even though we must weep with the world also in this dark hour of trouble which precedes the sunburst of the Millennial Kingdom.
Our text says “inquire ye: return come.” We should inquire for more information, for the length of the night is hidden. But, “Thou shall not be afraid for the terror of night,” (Psa. 91:5) For we know that the Kingdom is near at hand.
2003 IN REVIEW:
- The U.S. invades Iraq and captures Saddam Hussein.
- Space shuttle breaks apart, kills seven astronauts.
- The outbreak of SARS in Asia kills 800 people worldwide.
- Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger elected California governor.
- A summer blackout hits Northeast, Midwest and Canada.
- Supreme Court strikes down bans on homosexual sex.
- Terror strikes Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Turkey and Indonesia.
- Michael Jackson arrested.
- Consecration of gay bishop divides the Anglican Church.
- President Bush’s tax cut.
- Death toll from earthquake in Iran surpasses 20,000.
“DEAD SEA IS FACING ITS OWN DEATH, STUDY FINDS: JERUSALEM - The Dead Sea is dying, and only a major engineering effort can save it, according to Israel’s Minister of the Environment.
“The Dead Sea gets its name from its heavy salt content, because no aquatic creatures can live in it. Now there is a new “death threat” - the Dead Sea is drying up and disappearing.
“An Israeli TV reporter, illustrating the government report issued Monday, stood on a spot where, just 20 years ago, water met land. Now that point is 2,000 feet of parched ground away, he said, as the sea gradually recedes.
“Because it is landlocked in a hot desert area, evaporation is high, accounting for the dense salt concentration that allows bathers to float on top of the water with no effort. The area is popular for spas and treatments, with luxury hotels on both sides.
“The Environment Ministry study said that to secure the sea’s future, engineers would have to develop a new infrastructure of bridges and roads leading to its shores.
“For millennia, the balance was maintained by the Dead Sea’s only water source, the Jordan River, pouring in from the north. In recent years, however, Israel and Jordan have been tapping in to irrigate big swaths of agricultural land along the narrow river that divides the two countries, robbing the Dead Sea of its replacement water.
“A five-year drought has added to the woes of the Dead Sea, which occupies the lowest point on Earth, 1,320 feet below sea level. The sea is about 38 miles long and about 11 miles wide.
“The Israeli study said that without an intensive engineering effort, the sea’s water level will continue to recede by as much as 3 feet a year, adjacent ground water will disappear, surrounding land will buckle and collapse, and nearby wildlife and vegetation will be lost.
“Environment Minister Yehudit Neot said she would ask the Israeli Cabinet to hold a detailed discussion on the study’s conclusions.
“‘If the conclusions are not implemented, there is a real danger to the future of the Dead Sea as a world-class natural resource,’ Neot said.”
(The Associated Press, November 5, 2003)
Comment: The Jordan River is the source of the Dead Sea. The name Jordan means “The Descender,” or “Judged down.” Therefore it is a type of the downward course of the human race and it reaches the Dead Sea, which represents the ultimate condition of mankind. It is aptly named for typing the dead world.
“REVELATION: A car crash in Chalmette, Louisiana, has revealed that a building thought to house a home improvement business was actually home to the New Christian Crusade Church, and headquarters for the Christian Defense League, both white supremacist organizations.
“Stacks of racist books and pamphlets, including Hitler’s Nazi manifesto, Mein Kampf, were discovered when the car smashed into the brick storefront. An investigation revealed the building’s owner as James Warner, a founder of the American Nazi Party and associate of former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard and one-time Republican gubernatorial candidate David Duke.”
(World Jewry, August 2003)
“ATTORNEYS FILE BRIEF REJECTING SUIT OVER SIGN: LEXINGTON, NC - Attorneys for the Davidson County commissioners rejected yesterday a claim that the “In God We Trust” sign on a county building is unconstitutional because of its size and prominent location.
“In a brief filed yesterday in U.S. district Court, the attorneys tried to counter the argument of two Thomasville men who have sued the county commissioners to have the sign taken down. The men claim that the sign is a government endorsement of religion in violation of the First Amendment, particularly because the sign’s context makes it imposing to anyone doing business in the county’s government building.
“The commissioners’ attorneys agreed yesterday that context is important to the sign’s constitutionality, but they pointed to the motto’s historical context. It has been the official motto of the United States since 1956 and was on U.S, coins as early as the Civil War.”
(Winston-Salem Journal Staff and Wire Report, October 1, 2003)
Comment: An alert citizen wrote in to the Editor thusly: “If God is going to destroy a nation, wouldn’t He first remove his Name completely from that country”? That motto is also on U.S. paper money, so a lot of erasing would have to be done.
FRANCE: “The staggering number of deaths in France due to the heat wave is finally drawing the nation’s attention to who died and how. The government estimates that the heat killed perhaps 5,000 people. The largest undertaker, General Funeral Services, said Wednesday that the number could be more than twice that. The victims were generally found inside apartments or houses or hotels. In virtually every case, there was no air conditioner.”
(International Herald Tribune, August 21, 2003)
“GENERAL STRIKE HITS ITALY: ROME - Post offices and schools were closed, flights were canceled, buses and trains were killed in Italy Friday as millions of workers stayed home to protest government plans to reform the pension system.
“The general strike was called by Italy’s three largest and most powerful unions, which also organized some 100 demonstrations in piazzas across the country. Big festive crowds gathered in Rome, Bologna and Naples, where rallies were headed by union calls to protest Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s resolve to overhaul Italy’s generous pension system by raising retirement ages and the number of years of work required.
“Hundreds of flights were canceled, most of them by Italy’s flagship airline Atialia, but foreign carriers also scrapped or rescheduled flights because Italian ground personnel were among the strikes. Among the airlines affected were Air France, Lufthansa, British Airways and KLM.”
(The Lexington, NC Dispatch, October 21, 2003)
“ITALIAN COURT ORDERS CRUCIFIX REMOVED FROM A CLASS ROOM: ROME - An Italian court has ordered a crucifix removed from a classroom - setting off a debate in a secular but culturally Catholic nation that is home to the Vatican and where a law still requires public schools to display a cross.
“The ruling Saturday highlights the country’s awkward relationship with its growing immigrant population, whose migrant population, whose presence belies the notion of Italy as solely a Christian nation.
“Islamic activist Adel Smith, an emigrant from Egypt whose father was Italian, filed suit challenging the legality of the cross in the elementary school attended by his two sons in the small town of Ofena, 90 miles northeast of Rome. ‘Above all, Italy is a secular country,’ Smith said.
“Judge Mario Montanaro ruled that the cross should be removed because ‘the presence of the crucifix in classrooms communicates an implicit adherence to values that, in reality, are not shared heritage of all citizens.’”
(The Associated Press, October 27, 2003)
“CORRUPTION AT HIGH LEVEL WORLDWIDE, SURVEY FINDS: LONDON - Rich countries should end their financial support for corrupt governments and blacklist companies that get caught paying bribes abroad, a watchdog group that monitors corruption in 133 nations said yesterday.
“Half of developing countries suffer from ‘a high level of corruption,’ and some wealthy nations fare little better, according to surveys of business people, academics and risk analysts by Transparency International.
“Bangladesh came in last, at 133, trailed by Nigeria and Haiti as the three most corrupt countries, according to the 2003 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index. Rated No. 1, or least corrupt, was Finland, followed by Iceland and in a tie for third, Denmark and New Zealand. The United States was 18 on the list, tied with Ireland.”
(Winston-Salem Journal wire report, October 8, 2003)
“D.C. CHARITY SUSPECTED OF FUNNELING MILLIONS TO TERRORIST: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security believes that the SAAR Network/SAFA Group, a net-work of charities and think tanks, has funneled at least U.S. $26 million to terrorist organizations including Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Al-Qaida, according to the Washington Post. According to the newspaper, most of the money came from Saudia Arabian donors. An attorney for those named in the DHS affidavit quoted by the Post denied the allegations and said that it was ‘rank speculation.’”
(The Media Line, October 19, 2003)
The economy seems to have been better in 2003 than in 2002. The tax breaks that the President pushed through in 2002 is helping the economy. Business spending has improved after three years of a timid spending for business.
It is predicted that spending by firms will gain a solid 10% in 2004, up from only 2.5% in 2003, as companies rebuild their inventories and buy new equipment to expand production. Business has learned how to produce with less people.
Job outlook may be brighter. Job creation is predicted to reach 1.8 million in 2004, a 12-fold increase over the net gain of 150,000 in 2003. But the unemployment rate won’t fall much because many previously discouraged jobless will look for work again. The job gain will buoy consumer spending. Even so, interest rates will remain low, and maybe prime rate will be up to 5% by midyear.
The threat of terrorism continues to loom, and there is fear of an attack on U.S. soil in the midst of a heated presidential campaign. The Iraq war has changed things. President Bush’s economic team said they would hold the line on Government spending in 2003, but the war changed this. The deficit will get worse in 2004 and again in 2005. This is because few voters care.
The economy is starting to grow, but the worry is Iraq. More people were killed at the World Trade Center than at Pearl Harbor at the start of World War II.
As a nation in 2002 in the USA, the stock market lost nearly a quarter of its value, as millions of people lost jobs, and as many others lost sleep worrying about terrorism and imminent war. Americans nonetheless gave a record $241 billion to charitable causes with ordinary American households, rich and poor, giving an average gift of $2,499, or more than 80 percent of the total given.
Gold prices should stay the same. Export growth will probably double aided by the weaker dollar.
Since we are in the Time of Trouble things change quickly. “O Lord, be gracious unto us; we have waited for thee: be thou our arm every morning, our salvation also in the time of trouble.” (Isa. 33:2)
“U.N. TREATY OPENS BANKS TO AN INCREASE IN SCRUTINY: MERIDA, MEXICO - The first worldwide and anti-corruption treaty was signed yesterday, a move that may open banks in money havens to more scrutiny and allow some poor countries to recover billions of looted dollars.
“U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and President Vicente Fox of Mexico were among the U.N. Convention Against Corruption, a pact that requires countries to aid in investigations of and return money to wherever it was stolen or embezzled from.
“The Convention, expected to be signed by more than 100 nations over the next three days, will put rich and poor nations on more equal footing when it comes to tracing and returning scandal-tainted money that often winds up in wealthy banking capitals.
“Corruption ‘is a tax on the poor,’ Ashcroft said in this colonial city, 620 miles east of Mexico City. ‘It steals from the needy to enrich the wealthy. Corruption must end.’
“Of most interest to the United States are provisions requiring other countries to open up money-laundering investigations, expedite extraditions and prevent the establishment of phantom banks with little legitimate business.
“Although the pact doesn’t require countries to repeal banking-secrecy laws or the immunity from prosecution granted to some politicians as part of their tenure in office, it does require safeguards so that politicians can be held accountable for their acts and banking records can be examined.
“U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a written statement that the pact will ‘provide more transparency and accountability of the international business community.’
“The treaty will take effect once ratified by the congresses of at least 30 signatory countries.”
(Associated Press, November 10, 2003)
“THREE NETHERLANDS CHURCHES APPROVE MERGER BY BIG MARGIN: AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - Three Dutch Protestant churches formally agreed yesterday to put aside their ideological differences and merge, the culmination of a process that began more than 40 years ago.
“The Dutch Reformed Church, the Calvinist Reformist Church and a small Lutheran Church will unite to form the Protestant Church of the Netherlands, together representing about 2.2 million churchgoers - about 24 percent of the population.
“The synods of the three churches approved the merger by large majorities at three separate meetings in the city of Utrecht, 30 miles southeast of Amsterdam, Dutch national television reported.”
(Wire Report, December 13, 2003)
“SHOWDOWN IN INDIANAPOLIS: Members of a neo-Nazi group hope to stir up a Hitler-like frenzy Sunday when they stage a white supremacist rally at the state capitol protesting the rapid influx of Hispanics and Latinos in Indianapolis.
“In response, religious and city government officials have planned a counter-event they hope will shine a light on the new racial diversity the city has experienced in recent years.
“‘This promises to be a wonderful opportunity to show what the city has become,’ said the Rev. Samuel Ruiz, head of the Lutheran Church Latino Outreach in Indianapolis. ‘We don’t need this hatred, these old ways.’”
(Orlando Sentinel, August 23, 2003)
“CHINESE SAID TO HAVE CLOSED CHRISTIAN GATHERING PLACES: BEIJING - Authorities in an east China province have sealed off 125 Christian gathering places since July, cutting off 3,000 believers from their places of worship, a human-rights organization said yesterday.
“The human-rights group, based in London, said that police and state-security officials have subjected inmates to shocks, beatings, whippings and other forms of abuse.”
(Winston-Salem Journal Wire Report, November 21, 2003)
“SCIENTISTS DATE CRUCIFIXION: Two Romanian astronomers claim to have pin-pointed the exact time and date of the Crucifixion of Jesus, the Internet news service Ananova has reported.
“According to Liviu Mircea and Tiberiu Oproiu of the Astronomic Observatory Institute in Cluj, Romania, Jesus died at 3 p.m. on Friday, April 3, A.D. 33.
“According to their reading of the New Testament data, Jesus was crucified on the day after the first night with a full moon after the vernal equinox.
“If the Crucifixion took place some time between the years 26 and 35, this could mean either Friday, April 7, 30, or Friday, April 3, 33.
“But it was only in the latter year that records show a solar eclipse as having occurred in Jerusalem (‘And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour,’ according to Mark 15:33).
“The two astronomers have also timed the Resurrection as having occurred at 4 a.m. on Sunday, April 5.”
(Orlando Sentinel, May 17, 2003)
CATHOLICS: “VATICAN INTERFAITH EFFORT: A top Vatican official last Tuesday urged Christians, Jews, and Muslims to forge deeper ties as a way to encourage peace while respecting their own religious identities.
“Cardinal Walter Kasper’s appeal came in a speech to mark the 38th anniversary of a groundbreaking Vatican document, ‘Nostra Aetate,’ which sought to end the church’s official anti-Semitism.
“‘For a future of peace it is necessary that each of us, thoroughly, be oneself; in the deep simplicity of one’s vocation, in the adhesion of that holiness that all of us, Jews, Christians and Muslims, maintain is the most essential response to the gift of God,’ Kasper said.”
(The Jerusalem Post, November 7, 2003)
Comment: “And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree.” (Isa. 34:4) It is quite evident that this does not mean the abode of the heavenly Father and other spirit beings. It refers to the ecclesiastical systems as they exist in the world today. “For while they be folden together as thorns, and while they are drunken as drunkards, they shall be devoured as stubble fully dry.” (Nahum 1:10)
“CHURCHES’ EFFORTS AT UNITY FACING ‘SERIOUS DIFFICULTIES,’ POPE WARNS: Anglican leader in Rome for talks with officials at Vatican. VATICAN CITY - Pope John Paul II warned the archbishop of Canterbury yesterday of ‘serious difficulties’ in efforts to unify the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches, pressing the Vatican’s case against the U.S. Episcopal Church’s election of its first openly gay bishop.
“The visit was the first to the Vatican by Archbishop Rowan Williams since his installation in February and came two weeks before an emergency meeting of the Anglican Communion’s 38 primates to discuss the controversial election of the openly gay V. Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire.
“Williams said that the pope’s view about the risks to Catholic-Anglican relations ‘weighs very heavily’ on his church going into the emergency meeting. ‘I hope none of what has been achieved in all these years will be lost,’ he said.
“The Vatican recently issued a new broad condemnation of homosexuality that urged Catholics and non-Catholics alike to unite to stem a trend toward granting legal recognition to same-sex unions. The document called homosexuality a ‘troubling moral and social phenomenon’ and repeated the Vatican’s position that homosexual acts were ‘intrinsically disordered.’
“Neither man made direct mention of the issue, but it was clear that the pope was referring to it as the two men exchanged speeches after 15 minutes of private talks.
“‘As we give thanks for the progress that has already been made, we must also recognize that new and serious difficulties have arisen on the path to unity,’ the pope said.
“‘These difficulties are not all of a merely disciplinary nature; some extend to essential matters of faith and morals.’
“With increasing secularism in the world, the pope continued, ‘the church must ensure that the deposit of faith is proclaimed in its integrity and preserved from erroneous and misguided interpretations.’
“The 83-year-old pope, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, read his speech with difficulty but completed the text.
“Since talks began, both sides have stressed the importance of theological efforts to overcome what John Paul called ‘the sad division’ between the churches.
“The Anglicans split from Rome when King Henry VIII bolted in 1534 over the pope’s refusal to grant him an annulment. The Episcopal Church is the U.S. branch of the 77 million-member Anglican Communion.”
(The Associated Press, October 5, 2003)
EPISCOPALIAN: “TWO EPISCOPAL VOTES INDICATE A WIDENING RIFT: The conservative dioceses’ measures came after the consecration of a gay bishop in New Hampshire. PITTSBURGH - Less than a week after the Episcopal Church consecrated its first openly gay bishop; two conservative dioceses approved measures Saturday indicating the split in the church has widened.
“The Diocese of Pittsburgh approved an amendment aimed at allowing the diocese to ignore some of the national church’s policies.
“The amendment says the diocese will prevail ‘in cases where the provisions of the constitution and canons of the Church of the Diocese of Pittsburgh speak to the contrary’ or where resolutions of the Episcopal Church are found ‘to be contrary to the historic faith and order of the one holy catholic and apostolic church.’
“In Texas, Fort Worth-area clergy and lay delegates passed a resolution Saturday repudiating New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson’s appointment as ‘a schismatic act.’ The resolution passed 160-34.
“Jack Iker, bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth, said the decision clearly represents a split in the church.
“We made it clear if they went ahead and did this, they’d split the church,’ he said in an interview after the meeting. ‘The only thing that’s holding us together now is we have the same name. But there’s been a radical break in our relationship with each other in the Episcopal Church.’ He said he doesn’t know what the next step will be.
“For the Pittsburgh measure, a second vote by clergy and parishioners at the diocese’s annual convention next year is required before the amendment can take effect.
“Church leaders in the Pittsburgh Diocese earlier approved resolutions declaring ‘null and void’ the national church’s decisions this summer both to consecrate Robinson and to approve the blessing of same-sex unions.
“Both that vote and the votes Saturday are part of a national drive among conservative dioceses and clergy seeking to distance themselves from the Episcopal Church for making moves they think go against the worldwide Anglican Communion.
“U.S. conservatives who believe gay sex violates Scripture have said they want Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the spiritual head of the Anglican Communion, to authorize a separate Anglican province for them in North America.”
(By Allison Schlesinger, The Associated Press, November 9, 2003)
LUTHERAN: “REMARKS RATTLE CHURCH: “‘There is no heavenly God, there is no eternal life, there is no resurrection,’ Thorkild Grosboel, a Lutheran pastor, told The Associated Press in a recent interview.
“The Danish priest was suspended Tuesday for those comments, which have baffled members of Denmark’s state-supported Evangelical Lutheran Church and raised questions over whether a pastor must profess a belief in God to serve the church.
“Despite strong reactions to Grosboel’s words within the church, the final decision over whether he should be defrocked falls to the Danish government’s Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs. Under Denmark’s Constitution, Lutheran priests are employed by the state and cannot be dismissed by bishops.”
(Orlando Sentinel, June 7, 2003)
“ELCA STANDS FIRM: The Church wide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has decided to stick with its timeline for considering sexuality matters, meaning the denomination will consider whether to bless same-sex unions at its meeting in 2005.
“By a vote of 687-278, the assembly meeting in Milwaukee commended the current ELCA Studies on Sexuality effort. The gathering rejected a request to delay decisions concerning same-sex unions and whether people in such relationships should be pastors in the denomination, the ELCA’s news service reported.
“In a separate vote, the assembly defeated a resolution to suspend the denomination’s full communion relationship with the Episcopal Church until after the decisions concerning sexuality had been made. The Episcopal Church recently approved its first openly gay bishop and recognized that some of its bishops permit same-sex blessings.”
(Orlando Sentinel, August 23, 2003)
BAPTIST: “BAPTISTS ON TERRORISM: Delegates to the biennial meeting of the American Baptist Churches USA adopted a statement on countering terrorism with pluralistic views.
“The statement responding to terrorism acknowledges that ‘hatred often uses religion as justification for violence’ and asks church members to foster interfaith dialogues and mutual respect.
“In other business, the denomination’s General Board gave final approval to the establishment of the Evergreen Baptist Association, which includes congregations in the northwestern United States that welcome gay and lesbian members.
“American Baptist Churches USA is a 1.4 million-member mainline denomination that embraces both evangelical theology and ecumenical relations.”
(Orlando Sentinel, July 12, 2003)
“MONEY WORRIES FOR BAPTISTS: The Southern Baptist Convention is facing ‘serious financial challenges’ that could lead to a crisis if giving does not increase, a new report states.
“For example, the Southern Baptist foreign mission agency has deferred missionary appointments and the domestic mission agency ‘has not met income projections four of the last five years,’ according to the report, which cites research from empty tomb inc., a Christian research organization in Illinois.
“‘The alarming fact is not just that the 2.03 percent giving average falls miserably short of the tithe [10 percent], but that the percentage has dropped dramatically in the last 30 years,’ the report reads.”
(Orlando Sentinel, October 4, 2003)
Many thanks and much appreciation for the beautiful Christmas cards received, with special thanks for the love and prayers expressed, which we heartily reciprocate. We wish all our readers a prosperous and Blessed New Year.
Announcement: The date of our Memorial is April 2, 2004, after six p.m.
“IN THE VALLEY OF THE SHADOW”
J. Douglas Williams, 39, entered into the “sleep in Jesus” on September 21, 2003. Douglas was the son of Leonard and Marjorie Williams. Most of our readers know that Marjorie is the main helper at the Bible house. Leonard is a helper, also, and Elder of the Bible Study class. Douglas attended the Study class also. He understood the Truth and had faith. He was also a worker at the Bible House. Douglas was a wonderful, cheerful, witty young man, with a pleasing word at all times. He will be greatly missed by family and friends, for he was a ray of sunshine in a dreary world.
We look forward to the Kingdom when:
“We shall meet to be parted no more
We shall meet on eternity’s shore.”