“He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead and crushing the rulers of the whole earth.” (Psalms 110:6, NIV)
The year 2004 has been a terrible time, with war, terrorism, crime, etc., and the continued suicide bombings in Israel. None of the heads of states seem to be able to do anything about any of these troubles. He shall crush the heads of civil, social and ecclesiastical orders, as well as the rulers of nations, with the sword of truth. As the first world ended with an almost entire destruction of individual life, so national life is to be destroyed in the end of this world.
Does it mean that the rulers will be crushed, wounded literally? Isaiah 29:14, NIV answers that. “Therefore, once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.” In other words, wounded in their heads. The Statesman, College professors, Doctors of Divinity, and the best educated of Christendom have lost even their best worldly wisdom. None seem to know where to turn. They cannot make an informed and correct decision about the conditions of the world. Hence the Christian of low degree, through the instructions of the Bible, may know clearly things that the famous and learned in other wisdoms cannot know. Thus we should utterly lose confidence in worldly wisdom and the more firmly rely on the wisdom which cometh from above.
Not only do we, Bible Students, lose confidence in the wisdom of the rulers, etc., but the worldly citizens are also loosing confidence and that will bring on more trouble. But we are not cast down, for we know that the Lord is in control and all these troubles are for the destruction of the present nations in preparation for the Kingdom and His will to be done. “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” (Isa. 11:9)
“And they shall say, this land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited.” (Ezek. 36:35)
Besides the troubles mentioned above there have also been many natural disasters around the world such as hurricanes, tornados, floods, earthquakes, volcanoes, etc. (Matt. 24:7,8). We believe these have a purpose, too, in ordering the world for the climatic conditions in the Kingdom. The Garden of Eden was the original Paradise, but that was destroyed by what may be called a natural disaster, and it destroyed almost all individuals. But the natural disasters of today, and many have experienced them during the past year, will not destroy all individuals, but will destroy the nations as nations. God promised that a flood would not destroy the world again. Paradise will be restored. As we recall there had not been rain on the earth until the great deluge of Noah’s day. A mist that came up out of the ground watered the earth, and, we believe that it will be so again (Gen. 2:6).
The above Ezekiel scripture, of course, relates to Israel, but Israel is a type of the world, and through Abraham and his seed “all families shall be blessed.
2004 IN REVIEW:
(1) President Bush reelected.
(2) Terrorism remains a worldwide threat.
(3) Fighting continues in Iraq.
(4) Massachusetts legalizes gay marriage.
(5) Yasser Arafat dies.
(6) September 11 commission recommendations.
(7) Energy prices skyrocket.
(8) Martha Stewart sent to jail.
(9) Nuclear weapons in North Korea, Iran.
(10) Federal budget deficit.
“TSUNAMI DEATH TOLL RISES: BANDA ACEH, INDONESIA - The death toll from the epic tsunami that rocked 11 countries continues to rise, and food and supplies are pouring into the region, part of what the U.N. said would be the biggest relief effort the world has ever seen. Millions remained homeless.
“Rescuers struggled to reach remote locations where thousands more were likely killed by the deadliest tsunami in 120 years. Bodies, many of them children, filled beaches and choked hospital morgues, raising fears of disease across the region.”
(Excerpts from Andi Djatmiko, AP)
“RECORD 10TH TYPHOON LASHES JAPAN, KILLING AT LEAST 51: Heavy rains flooded the storm-battered nation, and 30 people were reported missing. TOKYO - For the 10th time this year, a typhoon struck land and churned across Japan on Wednesday night, killing at least 51 people, including a driver whose car was swallowed by a mudslide and a postal carrier who drowned while making his rounds.
“An additional 30 people were reported missing in what has become a record year for typhoons here: 10 of 23 have made landfall. City streets turned to muddy rivers and trees were uprooted, while high waves pounded Japan’s thousands of miles of coastline, sweeping several anglers out to sea.
“The unusually high number of typhoons and the wreckage they have left in their wake have dominated the national conversation here. Seventy-nine people have been killed in typhoon-related accidents this year.
“This latest storm, called Tokage - which means lizard in Japanese - lashed Japan on Wednesday with sustained winds of 56 mph and gusts of up to 140mph.
“One meteorological station measured 21.6 inches of rainfall during the storm. The winds and drenching rain shut down major transportation routes in this country of 126 million people. Bullet trains between Tokyo and Osaka were suspended for several hours and 981 flights were grounded, stranding about 127,000 passengers. Officials said it was the highest number of cancellations ever in one day.
“Some of the victims in the latest storm were killed trying to do quick repairs to roofs damaged by the storm. Five men were killed in a fishing port as they tried to bring boats ashore. And mudslides claimed other victims, including a family of three killed in their home.
“Thirty-seven bus passengers were caught when rising waters trapped their vehicle on a major road near Kyoto. They spent the night on the vehicle’s roof before being rescued.
“The repeated battering has left many Japanese reeling. ‘All the neighbors were just finishing repairs from the last typhoon; it’s been a double punch,’ said Kumiko Ueno, 54, Thursday morning as she surveyed damage from the second storm to flood her home this year. Ueno lives in Kurashiki, a town in western Japan known for its mild climate and sparse rainfall, a place where typhoons are almost unknown.”
(By Bruce Wallace, Los Angeles Times, October 21, 2004)
Comment: Not just in the U.S. and Japan have natural disaster occurred but all around the world. This agrees with what we said above about the changing climate of the world.
“DARWIN WILL BE SHARING A DESK: Science class to include ‘intelligent design.’ DOVER, PA - The way they used to teach the origin of the species to high school students in this town of 1,800 people in southern Pennsylvania, said school-board member Angie Yingling disapprovingly, was that ‘we come from chimpanzees and apes.’ Not anymore.
“The school board has ordered that biology teachers at Dover Area High School make students ‘aware of gaps/problems’ in the theory of evolution. Their ninth-grade curriculum must include the theory of ‘intelligent design,’ which posits that life is so complex and elaborate that some greater wisdom has to be behind it.
“The decision, passed last month by a 6-3 vote, makes the 3,600-student school district about 20 miles south of Harrisburg the first in the United States to mandate the teaching of ‘intelligent design’ in public schools.
“The principal and teachers contacted by the San Francisco Chronicle declined to comment. The idea of intelligent design was introduced by a small group of scientists to explain what they say are gaps in Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.
“On an intelligent-design Web site, the theory is described as ‘a scientific disagreement with the claim of evolutionary theory that natural phenomena are not designed.’
“Such critics as Eugenie Scott, the director of the National Center for Science Education, based in Oakland, Calif., say that the Dover school board’s decision is part of a trend.
“‘There’s a constant impetus by conservative evangelical Christians to bring religion back into the public schools,’ said Witold Walczak, the legal director of the Pennsylvania branch of the American Civil Liberties Union. ‘The end goal is to get rid of evolution. They view it as a threat to their religion.’
“The intelligent-design theory makes no reference to the Bible, and its proponents do not say who or what the greater force is behind the design. But Yingling, 46, who graduated from Dover High School in 1976, and other supporters of the new curriculum in this religiously conservative part of rural Pennsylvania say they know exactly who the intelligent designer is.
“‘There’s only one creator, and it has to be God,’ said Rebecca Cashman, 16, a sophomore at Dover High.
“Patricia Nason at the Institute for Creation Research, the world leader in creation science, said that her organization and other activist groups are encouraging people who share conservative religious beliefs to run for positions on local school boards.
“‘The movement is to get the truth out,’ Nason said by telephone from El Cajon (San Diego County). ‘We Christians have as much right to be involved in politics as evolutionists. We’ve been asleep for two generations, and its time for us to come back.’”
(Scripps Howard News Service, December 1, 2004)
“LOST ARK: A British television film crew is part of an expedition led by renowned explorer Fedor Konyukkov to search for evidence of Noah’s Ark, which, according to the Biblical Book of Genesis, survived a massive flood and came to rest on Mount Ararat, in what is today Turkey.
“According to legend, a 1917 Russian military expedition found the Ark, walked inside it and took measurements, pictures, and samples of wood, but the evidence was destroyed by Soviet authorities after the Russian Revolution.”
(Word Jewry, September-October 2004)
WORLD IN BRIEF: “Hamas Statement. The militant group Hamas will accept a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and a long-term truce with Israel.”
“Assassination plot foiled: Phone calls between Islamic radicals led German authorities to arrest three Iraqis suspected of planning to attack Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi.”
“At least 8 migrants die as boat flips near Puerto Rico.”
“Japan reportedly planning work on long-range missile.”
“America’s oldest person dies - Ohio woman was 114.”
“Testing uncovers chemicals in nations drinking water.”
George W. Bush is re-elected to a second term. Interest rate is on the rise after 2 years of low rates. President Bush’s first item on his agenda is making the recent tax cuts permanent; most tax breaks congress passed during Bush’s first term will lapse after 2010. The 15% top rate on dividends and capital gains ends in 2009 and complete repeal of the estate tax cut. Backers of permanent repeal of this tax are just shy of the votes needed to make this permanent. They needed 60 votes in 2002; they had 54.
High oil prices will be around for a while. Oil was $20.00 a barrel in the 80’s. Oil will stay above $40.00 a barrel through 2005. The economy is still growing but the threat of terrorism continues to grow. The Iraq War is still going on. The value of the dollar is dropping. The deficit is getting worse. People are worrying about terrorism striking again in this country.
Inflation is expected to rise on a year-over-year basis in 2005, as compensation patterns rise and productivity slows. These two developments are typical at this stage of the business cycle, and as a result, so does the outlook for inflation. As the economy moves into the mid-phase of the cycle, productivity slows down. With labor compensation gradually rising, unit labor costs begin to rise. These higher unit labor costs then feed into output prices and subsequently into inflation indicators.
Rising inflation fundamentals will also be reinforced by a fourth factor - a declining dollar. The U.S. trade deficit will keep widening in a record dollar terms over $600 billion next year. Gold prices should stay about the same. Gold prices and export growth will continue to increase because of the weaker dollar.
In these unsettled times it is hard to state categorically that the prospects stated for the coming year will be as expected. As we said in our opening remarks, none of the leaders of States, colleges or of churches, etc., know how to correct the problems of finance, as well as of other public sectors.
What we can do to be prepared in this Time of Trouble is to “watch and pray” (Mark 13:33) so that we will not be caught “unaware.” (Luke 21:34)
JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES AND THE LAYMENS HOME MISSIONARY MOVE-MENT: Both these groups are continuing in their ways. Both have invented a new false class that Pastor Russell never taught and which is not Scriptural. The JWs have long since invented “new doctrines” and have taken themselves out of a designation as a Truth group.
The LHMM has become more bold recently with their new class they call Consecrated Epiphany Campers. In their Summer 2004 Present Truth on page 35, column two they write about the Sons of Joel 2:28, in which they cite a reference from E-17-pp31-49. But in that reference on page 45 it says, “They have not been willing to follow in the Master’s footsteps (1 Peter 2:21), to make a full consecration of themselves to God…” On page 46 it says, “However, while they have not given themselves in consecration, they have nevertheless clung to a faith in the Ransom…” This is under the heading of “Your Sons,” as shown in page 42. Therefore to call them Consecrated Epiphany Campers is a false designation. We continue to believe that “your Sons,” of Joel 2:28 is converted Israel, as Brother Russell and Brother Johnson taught._(See_E-4-319,_par.5.)
“IRAQI MUSLIMS TARGET CHURCHES: Assailants triggered a coordinated series of explosions outside five churches in Baghdad and Mosul during evening services in August, killing 11 people and wounding more than 50 in the first major assault on Iraq’s Christian minority since the 15-month-old insurgency began.
“The unprecedented attacks against Iraq’s 750,000-member Christian minority seemed to confirm community members’ fears that they might be targeted as suspected collaborators with American forces amid a rising tide of Islamic fundamentalism.
“The Islamic world has been pairing and vilifying the ‘Crusader’ (Christian) forces of the United States and Britain and ‘Zionists’ (Israel) in their rhetoric across the Muslim world, since the beginning of the incursion into Iraq in the spring of 2003.
“Both Christians and Jews in the Middle East and around the Islamic world have been targeted for decades as fundamental Islam has begun to exert itself in its most recent jihad, or holy war, to spread its faith by force. Millions of Christians have been killed while Israel has been under constant pressure and vicious attack, both on the basis that they are ‘violating Islamic territory.’
“We urge the free world to recognize and assist the ‘war on terror,’ and continue their brave fight to protect Christians and Jews, ‘the people of the Book,’ around the world.”
(By Clarence H. Wagner, Dispatch From Jerusalem, September-October 2004)
“DRY BONES: Terror attacks on Christian churches in Iraq have raised as little anger in the west, as terrorist attacks on Jewish synagogues have, and we can’t blame it on anti-Semitism. (Same Dispatch as above)
Comment: Not only have the churches been attacked in Iraq and other countries, but they have also been attacked in the U.S. It is not terror attacks here but just plain disrespect for the churches. Some have been ransacked, robbed and set on fire. The time was when even the criminal would not touch a church for fear that he would be struck down for desecrating the house of God. But it seems that they do not believe that they are so sacred anymore.
“CONTENTION OVER COMMUNION: Debates affect not only the way believers view the sacrament marking the Last Supper, but also efforts toward ending liturgical disputes and promoting unity. WASHINGTON - Yet such discussions are important because they go to the heart of the Christian faith, say clergy and denominational officials. They affect the way believers perceive and take part in one of the most sacred events in Christian history: the meal Jesus shared with his disciples the night before his crucifixion. And they affect efforts to foster unity among Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox Christians and end theological and liturgical disputes that have created deep divisions in Christianly.
“For those with a goal of unity, success could be far in the future, with Communion practices becoming more diverse as congregations search for new ways to accommodate the lifestyles and sensibilities of their members.
“The United Methodist Church passed a resolution at its general conference in May urging congregations to shed generations of tradition by offering Communion weekly rather than monthly. The effort is to ‘reshape the focus on Communion by urging people to celebrate the Eucharist more often,’ said denomination spokesman Stephen Drachler.
“Moving toward weekly Communion also has been a goal of many Lutherans for more than 30 years, said the Rev. Michael Burk, director of worship for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. One reason was the adoption of a book of worship in 1978 that placed more emphasis on Communion.
“And the Presbyterian Church (USA) has been moving slowly from monthly to weekly Communion, said the Rev. Joseph Small, director of the church’s office of theology and worship.
“A more evident change among Presbyterians, whose Reformation forebears rejected many Catholic Communion practices, has been an increase in the number of congregations that prefer taking Communion at the altar rail rather than in the pews, Small said.
“One thing that hasn’t changed for most Protestants is their rejection of transubstantiation, the Catholic teaching that the elements - bread and wine - are transformed during the Eucharist into the body and blood of Jesus and remain so. In the Roman Catholic Church, any leftover wine must be consumed by the priest, and the leftover hosts or wafers must be kept in a receptacle known as a tabernacle.
“Burk said Evangelical Lutherans believe that the bread and wine are transformed into the body and blood of Jesus, but only for that meal. Any leftovers are ‘bread that was used in Holy Communion,’ not the body and blood of Jesus, he said.”
(Excerpts from Bill Broadway, The Washington Post, October 2, 2004)
“THE BIRTH OF JESUS: Like the Victorians, we live in an age of great belief and great doubt, and sometimes it seems as though we must choose between two extremes, the evangelical and the secular. ‘I don’t want to be too simplistic, but our faith is somewhat childlike,’ says the Rev. H. B. London, a vice president of James Dobson’s conservative Focus on the Family organization in Colorado Springs. ‘Though other people may question the historical validity of the virgin birth, and the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we don’t.’ London’s view has vast public support. A NEWSWEEK Poll found that 85 percent of American adults consider themselves Christians, and 82 percent see Jesus as God or the son of God. Seventy-nine percent say they believe in the virgin birth, and 67 percent think the Christmas story - from the angels’ appearance to the Star of Bethlehem - is historically accurate.”
(Excerpt from Jon Meacham, Newsweek, December 13, 2004)
CATHOLICS: “HOLY WARS: Greek Orthodox and Franciscan Priests got into a fist fight at Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Christianity’s holiest shrine, on September 27, after arguing over whether a door in the basilica should be closed during a procession.”
(The Jerusalem Report, October 18, 2004)
PRESBYTERIANS: “WHEN CHURCHES HEAD LEFT: America’s main-line protestant churches are in trouble. One sign is shrinking membership. Another is turning their political policymaking over to fringe leftists whose deepest instinct is to blame America and pummel Israel whenever possible. The latest disgrace is the Presbyterian Church’s plan for selective divestment in Israel - ending the church’s investment in multinational companies that the church believes bear particular responsibility for the sufferings of the Palestinian people. For example, the Presbyterians say they may divest themselves of Caterpillar stock, because bulldozers made by that company are used to level Palestinian homes in Israel’s antiterrorism campaign. Of course, these bulldozers can also be used to move debris after Palestinian suicide bombers have finished blowing up another round of women, children and other civilian bystanders in Israel.
“How do the Presbyterians go about adopting stances like this? Apparently they cast a stern moral glance around the world, look for possible abuses in China, North Korea, and Iran, and seeing nothing disturbing there, decide to focus once again on Israel. The conservative Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD) released a measured and devastating report on the human-rights efforts of mainline churches and groups - the United Methodist Church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Episcopal Church, and the Presbyterian Church (USA), plus the reliably leftist National Council of Churches and World Council of Churches. The report, covering the years 2000 to 2003, found that of 197 human-rights criticisms by mainline churches and groups, 37 percent were aimed at Israel and 32 percent at the United States. Only 19 percent of these criticisms were directed at nations listed as ‘unfree’ in Freedom House’s respected annual listing of free, partly free, and unfree nations. So Israel was twice as likely to be hammered by the mainliners as all the unfree authoritarian nations put together. The fixation on Israel left little time and inclination for these churches to notice the most dangerous violation of human rights around the world. Not one nation bordering Israel was criticized by a single mainline church or group, the IRD report says. No criticisms at all were leveled at China, Libya, Syria, or North Korea.
“Human-rights groups are normally accorded great respect for the work they do. But the rights work of the mainline churches is basically a one-sided expression of ideology - America is essentially viewed as a malignant force in the world, while Israel is seen as nothing more than a dangerous colonial implant of the West. The IRD report says the mainliners’ ‘pervasive anti-Americanism is demonstrated time and again in their public-policy advocacy, and one need not investigate far to find it.’ Later, the report says, ‘When U.S. policy cannot be blamed, the mainline denominations seem less interested in speaking up for the victims.’
“Knee-jerk: Anti-Americanism is an old story in the mainline church bureaucracies. During the 1970s and 1980s, these churches generally ignored human-rights abuses in the Soviet Union and focused instead on the United States as the primary source of abuse. One result was to scorn dissident movements, such as Solidarity in Poland, which were pressing Moscow for more freedom. The persistent folly of the World Council of Churches on this issue made news in July when its former president, Konrad Raiser, apologized for not supporting freedom movements during the Cold War. At this rate, a future president of the World Council might decide he’s finally ready to apologize for ignoring severe abuses in today’s vicious dictatorships, oh, sometime maybe around 2030.
“The Presbyterian divestment plan seems to be an obvious effort to get an anti-Israel bandwagon rolling among the churches. The Episcopalians quickly obliged, letting it be known that divestment in companies doing business with Israel is now up for discussion. A high-level group from the church recently toured the Middle East, meeting with Yasser Arafat but not with any Israeli officials. Par for the course. The divestment movement is a pretty big issue on some college campuses, supported by Muslim students and aging professors committed to blaming the West for all the world’s evils. As part of this effort, Israel is routinely equated with the apartheid regime in South Africa and, by implication, with the Nazi regime in Germany. Despite all the inflammatory and one-sided rhetoric, no university has ever come close to supporting divestment.
“Many Jews see the divestment movement as an instrument of anti-Semitism. Maybe it is, but the efforts of the woeful mainline churches are better seen as classic knee-jerk leftism, an expression of hardcore loathing for the United States and the West, with Israel as a stand-in for America. The mainline churches believe they still stand for high moral purpose in politics. They don’t. They can no longer be taken seriously on politics or human rights.
(By John Leo, U.S. News & World Report, October 18, 2004)
“THE STRANGE MORALITY OF PALESTINIAN SUFFERING: Drawing itself up on holier-than-thou righteousness, the Presbyterian Church USA has adopted a policy of divesture in companies that do business with Israel, and the Anglican Communion-Episcopalians appears to do the same.
“The idea is trendy on some college campuses, too. Is this the start of a fad? If so, it is a nasty business, conducted in the good name of relieving Palestinian suffering. That suffering is real all right, but is Israel its primary author?
“Israel was lawfully created when the United Nations partitioned the old Palestine Mandate. Israel accepted the compromise. Palestinians could have had their own nation right then, in 1947, but the Arab states forbade that and instead have since started three classic, over-the border wars in an attempt to destroy Israel and have supported endless terrorist attacks in the down times between and around wars.
“The partition and its aftermath created refugee populations of roughly the same size. Israel absorbed and integrated Jewish refugees from Arab states. The Arab states still maintain squalid Palestinian refugee camps, refusing the Palestinians acceptance and succor and preferring to keep them aggrieved and miserable as a useful political tool.
“Israel signed up decades ago for the land-for-peace formula proposed by U.N. resolutions, but it has never found Palestinian negotiating partners willing to strive realistically to carry out that process.
“Israel agreed in 2000 to a generous deal that would have created a viable Palestinian state, but Yasser Arafat flinched, insisting at the last minute upon a program that would have resulted in a majority Muslim population in Israel. Israel declined to commit suicide.
“Arafat returned to the West Bank to cheering throngs, winked a new terrorist war against Israel into bloody action and started smuggling illegal arms in by the shipload.
“Israel is not blameless, of course. Its settlements in Gaza and beyond defensible lines in the West Bank are obstacles to eventual peace. Its harsh retaliations have sometimes needlessly hurt innocents while suppressing and redressing Palestinian terror.
“But Israel has provided repeated earnests of its ability to accommodate to workable peace. It dismantled every Sinai settlement when a deal with Egypt opened. It stayed over-long and tried to politically overreach after clearing out a Palestinian terrorist infrastructure in southern Lebanon, but in the end Israel unilaterally withdrew.
“Even hard-line Prime Minister Ariel Sharon now acknowledges that the creation of a Palestinian state must be part of any final agreement, and Sharon is pulling Israel out of Gaza, again unilaterally.
“The Presbyterian and Episcopalian scolds offer Israel no safety beyond their good wishes for it. The Anglican delegation that toured the region proposes, for Israeli security, an interposed U.N. peacekeeping force, which, please be real, would have all the stopping power of a morning mist.
“At bottom, the Presbyterians and Anglicans essentially are saying that for refusing ever to accept Israel’s right to exist, for starting repeated wars against it, for rejecting realistic negotiations and substituting terrorism negotiations and substituting, the Arab states and Palestinians should be held harmless and Israel should be held to account.
“It is a strange morality that, rewarding political intransigence, futile war and terrorism, would encourage more of the same.
(By Tom Teepen, Cox News Service, October 5, 2004)
We have received many beautiful and inspiring Christmas cards, for which we are very grateful. We did not send out Christmas cards this year due to the fact that Sister Hoefle is unable to write cards, but she sends love and prayers to all who have sent cards. We wish for all our readers that they will grow in Grace and Knowledge of the Lord for a blessed New Year. “The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” (Prov. 4:18)
Announcement: The date of our Memorial is March 22, 2004, after six p.m.
“IN THE VALLEY O THE SHADOW”
With sadness we report that Brother Wycliff Mahoney of Crofts Hill, Jamaica, has left us. He died on October 4, 2004 at the age of 87. He was a wonderful and faithful Brother who gave us much encouragement and help for many years. We will miss his expertise on the Truth.