Remember Saddam’s Nukes?

Remember Saddam’s Nukes?
Vol: 113 Issue: 28 Monday, February 28, 2011

In September 2007 Israeli Air Force bombers attacked and destroyed what was believed to be a Syrian nuclear reactor of North Korean design.  

Andrew Semmel, a senior US State Department official, said at the time that Syria might have obtained nuclear equipment from “secret suppliers”, and added that there were a “number of foreign technicians” in the country.

Damascus is not thought to have made serious efforts in the past to develop nuclear weapons, and those experts said it was unlikely that the Syrians could afford such a program or had the technical expertise to sustain it.

Asked if they could be North Korean, he replied: “There are North Korean people there. There’s no question about that.”

The 2007 target was identified as a northern Syrian facility that purported to be an agricultural research centre on the Euphrates River.  Israel had been monitoring it for some time, saying publicly that it was being used to extract uranium from phosphates.

It now seems far more likely that Syria already had several kilograms of plutonium, and it was involved in building a bomb factory.   It takes about four kilograms of fissionable to make one bomb.

Processing the plutonium and assembling the bomb require utmost caution, because plutonium is one of the most toxic and radioactive materials. One microgram can kill one person, and a gram is capable of killing a million people.

Handling it requires special lathes, but because of its lethal nature nobody is allowed to come into direct contact with plutonium or with the lathes. That is why there is a need to build labs containing dozens of glove boxes, which isolate and separate the worker from the material and the equipment.

What reinforces suspicions that the structure attacked in Syria was in fact a bomb assembly plant is the fact that the satellite photos taken after the bombing clearly show that the Syrians made an effort to bury the entire site under piles of earth. 

The Syrians buried it because of the lethal nature of whatever was in the structure and they refused to let the IAEA inspect the site and take samples for more than a year while they cleaned it up.

The German news magazine, Der Speigel, conducted an investigation of the 2007 airstrike in 2009:  

In September 2007, Israeli fighter jets destroyed a mysterious complex in the Syrian desert. The incident could have led to war, but it was hushed up by all sides. Was it a nuclear plant and who gave the orders for the strike?

The mighty Euphrates river is the subject of the prophecies in the Bible’s Book of Revelation, where it is written that the river will be the scene of the battle of Armageddon:

The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East.

I thought it an interesting choice of reference for a secular German news magazine.

Assessment:

The Israeli strike on Syria’s nuclear reactor was more than three years ago.  Nothing much has been said about it since. 

Syrian nuke program

It isn’t necessarily  because Syria has been so quiet.  It’s more a case of everybody else in the neighborhood being so loud.

And so while the rest of the world has been distracted by Iran and Ahmadinejad and by North Korea’s crazy little dictator Kim Jong-il’s existing nuclear stockpile, nobody seemed to be paying that much attention to Syria.

Probably should have been.   

It turns out that the Syrians had four other nuclear facilities besides the one at al-Kibar, according to the US Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS).

“The report, which was published alongside a report by the German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung, explains that Syria’s nuclear program was far more advanced than previously believed and included, in addition to the reactor destroyed at al-Kibar, a uranium conversion facility and three storage sites.

The conversion facility at Marj as-Sultan, according to the report, was apparently intended for processing uranium yellowcake into uranium tetrafluoride (UF4) for the al-Kibar reactor.

The facility’s current use is unknown, but the ISIS suspects that after the latter was bombed Syria attempted to disguise its operations. The institute cites commercial satellite images as proof of this.”

The city of Damascus remains the oldest, continuously inhabited city on the face of the earth. In all its long history, it has never been totally destroyed.

“The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap. . . And in that day it shall come to pass, that the glory of Jacob shall be made thin, and the fatness of his flesh shall wax lean.” (Isaiah 17:1,4)

Isaiah’s depiction of Damascus troubling Israel in the last days comes at a time when the ‘glory of Jacob (Israel) is made thin’ — if ‘Israel’s glory’ were any thinner, it would be transparent.   

Syria has long-range missiles armed with both chemical and biological warheads and aimed straight at Israel.  From this ISIS report, it appears at least possible that Assad either has, or is developing, nuclear warheads for use against Israel as well.

“And behold at eveningtide trouble; and before the morning he [Damascus] is not. This is the portion of them that spoil us, and the lot of them that rob us.” (Isaiah 17:14)

Israel is believed to have more than two hundred nuclear weapons that could fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy in about sixty seconds. 

Finally, the ISIS images show three facilities that ISIS says were probably ‘used for storage’ at Masyaf, Iskandariyah, and Marj as Sultan.

Three sites?   Just for storage?  Storage for what?  How much nuclear material could Syria have amassed without detection?

Some, maybe.  But it seems highly unlikely that the Syrians could have developed a nuclear program this advanced, even with North Korea’s help.   Where could it have all come from?

Remember Saddam’s nukes

The Third Beast

The Third Beast
Vol: 113 Issue: 26 Saturday, February 26, 2011

At least thirteen of the twenty-two states that make up the Arab League have been affected by the unrest in the Middle East: Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen.

And while every factor driving the populations to revolution in countries like Bahrain, Tunisia and Egypt is in play in the rest of the Arab League states, no state is more primed for revolution than the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Like Egypt’s Mubarak, King Abdullah has amassed a personal fortune in the billions while his country stagnates under pervasive under-employment.   Forty percent of workers between 20 and 24 are unemployed.

The gap between rich and poor is enormous now — and growing.

One in seven Saudis are illiterate – women are neither allowed to work or drive a car. Personal incomes are stagnant while the Saudi population continues to expand.

Society is tightly controlled and heavily censored. Police have absolute power.   The monarchy is absolute; officials are neither elected nor accountable to anyone except the King and corruption is rampant.

Saudi universities graduate 6,000 students a year with degrees in education to compete for 650 teaching jobs. 

In Saudi Arabia, there is no home team advantage.   Although a half million Saudis remain unemployed, some six million private sector jobs are held by foreigners.

King Abdullah recently returned from a three month hospital stay abroad specifically so that he could announce a $37 billion social welfare package aimed at staving off unrest.   

Noted one analysis of the Saudi powderkeg:

Sadek al-Ramadan, a human rights activist in al-Asha, Eastern Province, said: “People here are watching closely the protest movements across the region, which are tapping into long-held demands for reforms in Saudi Arabia.” Al-Ramadan said that there are “deep frustrations” in Saudi society over high levels of poverty, unemployment, poor housing and perceived widespread corruption among the rulers of the world’s top oil exporter whose gross domestic product last year is estimated at $622 billion.

In the coming weeks, the Saudi rulers face a difficult balancing act. Too little reform or too much repression could set off the kind of full-blown uprisings sweeping the Middle East. And there is a lot at stake for the kingdom’s rulers.

Up to 90 of the country’s oil production and processing is located in its restive Eastern Province, where the state-owned oil company Saudi Aramco has its headquarters in Dhahran.

If the House of Saud falls, what happens to all that oil? 

Assessment:

Much has been written about repressive governments and corrupt rulers and religious fanaticism and other social conditions that analysts say are driving the unrest. 

But Hosni Mubarak was in power for thirty-three years – he didn’t just get there.  Tunisia’s Ben Ali ruled for twenty three years before popular unrest forced him from office.   

Gadhaffi has ruled Libya since 1969.  The House of Saud has ruled the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia since it was declared in 1932. 

All of these governments richly deserved overthrow.  But none of them deserve it any more now than they did ten years ago.  They didn’t just start repressing their populations. 

If anything (with the exception of Libya) they had relaxed a bit.

They were all on the brink, but they had been for years.  What pushed them over?   

Two words.  Food security.  It all began with a street vendor selling vegetables without a license who set himself afire after his produce was confiscated by Tunisian police.

What seems clear is that surging food prices helped trigger both uprisings and protests elsewhere in North Africa. 

Food security is the new buzzword used to describe the looming global famine, brought on at least in part by the practice of converting food grains into auto fuel.

“It’s not a problem of supply and demand. If you look at FAO’s figures over the past 10 years you can see there is absolutely no relationship between the supply and demand prices. And we get very high prices sometimes when we have more than enough supply.”

With poverty and food prices among the key drivers of protests erupting across the Middle East and northern Africa, the issue of food security continues to pose serious challenges for both developed and developing nations.

Highlighting the recent revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, Holt-Gimenez said we could expect to see more political unrest if the hunger crisis was not addressed properly.

“This is global struggle for food sovereignty against the monopolization of our food system and it’s going to be very painful and probably going to be an extended struggle with very uneven results worldwide,” he told IPS.

“What we’re already seeing is profound political consequences for governments around the world, including in the global north.”

Especially in the north. The north is where we turn food into gasoline to prevent global warming.  (All you have to do to recognize the absurdity is just say it out loud.)

Food and economic analysts are warning that these governments are only first victims of the global food crisis.  How far could it reach?

I noted on today’s Drudge Report that gas prices in London, England are over nine dollars a gallon!   Nine dollars a gallon!

Everything not grown, manufactured or distributed within walking distance of your house required gasoline to get it there — especially food. 

“For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. (Matthew 24:7)

“And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand.  And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.” (Revelation 6:5-6)

“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28)

Tick . . tick . . tick 

The Liberty Incident

The Liberty Incident
Vol: 113 Issue: 25 Friday, February 25, 2011

To my way of thinking, one of the most bizarre and conclusive signs that we are now living in the last days is not so much the existence of Israel as it is the white-hot hatred of Israel and all things Israeli – and I have mused about it on more than one occasion.

Of course, that serves as an open invitation to start bombarding my email box with reasons for hating Israel,  as my correspondents see it, together with an invitation to refute the proffered evidence.  

The most commonly cited reason offered by my correspondents for getting me to join them in hating Israel is the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty that killed thirty-four American sailors in 1967.

The Liberty Incident isn’t a myth.  It really did happen. Given the potential for yet another war in the region that may involve the US Navy in the very near future, this may be a good time to revisit the Liberty incident.

The sequence of events is as follows. 

In early June of 1967, at the onset of the Six Day War, the Pentagon sent the USS Liberty from Spain into international waters off the coast of Gaza to monitor the progress of Israel’s attack on the Arab states.

The USS Liberty was a lightly-armed surveillance ship. Only hours after the Liberty arrived it was spotted by the Israeli military. The IDF sent out reconnaissance planes to identify the ship.

A few hours later more planes came. These were Israeli Mirage III fighters, armed with rockets and machine guns. The fighters then opened fire on the ship with rockets and machine guns.

A few minutes later a second wave of planes streaked overhead, French-built Mystere jets, which not only pelted the ship with gunfire but also with napalm bomblets, coating the deck with the flaming jelly. By now, the Liberty was on fire and dozens were wounded and killed.

The Liberty’s radio team tried to issue a distress call, but discovered the frequencies had been jammed by the Israeli planes with what one communications specialist called “a buzzsaw sound.”

Finally, an open channel was found and the Liberty got out a message it was under attack to the USS America, the Sixth Fleet’s large aircraft carrier.

Two F-4s left the carrier to come to the Liberty’s aid. Apparently, the jets were armed only with nuclear weapons. When word reached the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara became irate and ordered the jets to return.

Following the Israeli fighter jet attack, three Israeli attack boats approached the Liberty. Two torpedoes were launched at the Liberty. One tore a 40-foot wide hole in the hull, killing more than a dozen American sailors.

After more than two hours of unremitting assault, the Israelis abruptly halted their attack. One of the torpedo boats approached the Liberty. An officer asked in English over a bullhorn: “Do you need any help?”

The Liberty’s wounded commander reportedly replied with an unprintable expletive.

Within three weeks, the Navy put out a 700-page report, exonerating the Israelis, claiming the attack had been accidental and that the Israelis had pulled back as soon as they realized their mistake.

Was it?

Assessment:

The attack on the USS Liberty has been surrounded by myth and conspiracy theory for more than forty years.  According to my correspondents, the attack was no mistake. The Israelis knew they were attacking an American ship.

That raises a number of questions, not the least of which is ‘why?’  Why would Israel repeatedly attack an American vessel?

The only conspiracist argument that seemingly answered the ‘why’ question was that the Liberty was spying on Israel, and Israel tried to destroy it to keep whatever the Liberty found out a secret.

But since most of the Liberty’s crew survived, as did the ship itself, if the US had found out anything damaging about Israel, it seems logical that we’d know what it was.

Nobody, not even the crew, produced any evidence that Liberty’s mission was to spy on the Israelis. It was simply assumed to be true since it seemed to offer a partial answer to the ‘why’ questions.

In 2004 a newly declassified volume of historical papers from the Johnson Administration was released to the public, including files on the Liberty Incident.

Along with the release of the documents, the historian for the top-secret National Security Agency said the available evidence “strongly suggested” Israel did not know it was bombarding an American ship.

The US Navy reached that same conclusion in 1967, but the explanation was widely rejected by the conspiracist view as being ‘a coverup’.  

So, “Why would Israel attack a US ship?” we can add the question, “Why would the US Navy want to cover it up?”   The one conclusion that none of them seem to accept is the obvious one. 

It was an accident and there was no cover-up.  For the Jew-haters, that’s not an option

While the document dump  ddn’t reveal what the Liberty WAS doing in the area, they do reveal that the bulk of linguists on board spoke Arabic or Russian and the ship had no Hebrew translators to monitor Israeli communications in real time.

If the mission was to spy on Israel, it was poorly equipped for the job. On the other hand, the event has to be seen in its historical context.

The Russians were involved in arming the Arabs — the Cold War was at its height, and the Six Days War could conceivably have been the spark that launched a nuclear world war with the Russians.

Having Russian and Arabic translators aboard fits the known historical scenario.

The most significant documents, transcripts of tapes of communications between an Israeli air controller and helicopter pilots sent to rescue the wounded from the attack showed that the Israeli rescue pilots first identified the ship as Egyptian and gradually realized, after spotting a US flag, that the ship was American.

The editor of the declassified files, Harriet Schwar wrote in the executive summary of incident,

“A follow-up CIA memo on June 21st noted that the Liberty had been identified prior to the attacks but concluded that the Israelis were not aware at the time of the attack that they were attacking a US ship. It concluded that the attack was not made in malice, but was by mistake, representing gross negligence. The Defense Intelligence Agency reached a similar conclusion.”

David Hatch, the National Security Agency Historian, said of the intercepted communications of the rescue pilots:

“While falling short of proof, the intercepts to me suggest strongly the Israeli attackers did not know they were aiming deadly fire at a vessel belonging to the United States. The intercepted communications between the air controller at Hatzor and helicopters dispatched in the wake of the attack show a progressive reversal of perception on their part.”

There is also the sequence of events to consider. Earlier in the morning of June 8, the Israelis had surveyed and identified a ship in the area as the USS Liberty. A neutral green marker was placed on a model to represent the Liberty’s position.

Two hours later, the new documents reveal, the marker was removed since it was assumed that the ship’s position would have changed by then and a new senior Israeli official came on duty who was not informed of the Liberty’s presence in the area.

The removal of the marker, a miscalculation of the speed at which the Liberty was traveling that would have indicated it was not a warship, and a breakdown in communication between the Israeli Navy and Army were all clearly Israeli errors that contributed to orders to attack the ship.

In addition, there remains no credible motive for the Israelis to attack a United States vessel. As previously noted, Israel didn’t have a lot of friends apart from the US. It would have been an act of insanity for them to attack the US deliberately.

Why is a friendly fire incident still news after more than forty-four years?  Because it provides a good reason to hate Israel, for those who can’t find a reason on their own. 

It is hard to get Americans to hate Israel, since so many of its citizens are themselves American. But images of Israeli pilots ruthlessly strafing an American-flagged warship off the coast of Gaza will do it.

Israel’s existence in these last days is a constant reminder to this sin sick world that God is still in charge.  That is what the Chosen people were chosen for ­– to reveal God to the Gentile nations.

As an example to the heathen nations of the existence of God. Which also makes them a prime target for those who refuse to acknowledge Him and an excuse for hating anyone who does.

For two thousand years, the Jews have been hated and rejected by every nation in which they sought refuge. ‘The wandering Jew’ is a ‘proverb and a byword among all nations’, exactly as foretold by the Hebrew prophets.

The Jews were chosen by God to be the people from whom He would send His Redeemer, Jesus, but paradoxically, the Jews were also blinded to that fact by God Himself.

Paul says it was for us,the Gentiles,  so that salvation could be open to ALL mankind, Jew or Gentile.  Rather than hating Jews, Christians should understand the debt that imposes on us.

“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” Romans 11:25

After all, had the Jews accepted Jesus as Messiah at the First Advent, Daniel’s 70th Week would have been fulfilled 2000 years ago. There would have been no Church Age, nor a reason FOR a Church Age.  We would not be saved – we wouldn’t have even been born. 

Daniel’s 70th Week is called by Jeremiah “the time of Jacob’s Trouble”.  Zechariah says that in the last days, Israel will have no friends at all.

Zechariah 12:3 says that, by the end of the Tribulation Period, ALL the people of the world would be gathered against Israel and Jerusalem.

Did the Israelis deliberately attack the USS Liberty? There is no discernible reason why they would, neither is there any credible evidence that indicates that they did.

 But it does provide one more reason to hate Israel. And one more bit of proof that any excuse will do. Even one incident, forty-four years ago, in a war zone during the heat of battle.

Not that those already so inclined really need one.

“For when these things begin to come to pass . . .”

Maranatha!

Boldly Going Where No Man Likes To Think

Boldly Going Where No Man Likes To Think
Vol: 113 Issue: 24 Thursday, February 24, 2011

We recently covered as part of an overall roundup, the effort in San Francisco to ban male circumcision on anyone under the age of 18. Today we are going to boldly go where no man ever goes without cringing.

Circumcision is a central theme of Scripture in both the old and the New Testaments.  It appears in Scripture more than 100 times.  Forgive me if it is a little graphic, but if the Bible gives it that much attention, perhaps there is a reason.

Actually, there are many reasons, but before we get to that, let’s return to the San Francisco effort.  Proponents of the measure argue that circumcision is male ‘genital mutilation’ that provides no discernible medical benefit.

San Francisco resident Lloyd Schofield said Thursday he is “on track” to have enough  signatures to place his proposed measure on the November ballot that would make it illegal to “circumcise, excise, cut or mutilate the foreskin, testicle or penis of another person who has not attained the age of 18.”

Schofield said he became the proponent of the local ballot measure after being asked to champion a local bill during a July symposium on circumcision held at the UC Berkeley. Schofield said he was approached by those affiliated with a group pushing for a federal bill to “end male genital mutilation in the U.S.,” according to its website, mgmbill.org.

He said he thought about it for two weeks and then decided to do it. “I always knew this was something wrong to do to a child,” he said.

“We say: ‘Would you like to help protect the children from forced circumcision? This is a human-rights issue,’” Schofield said.

According to Schofield, circumcising a baby violates that baby’s human rights.  That circumcising a baby is immoral. 

If I understand it correctly, the argument is that it is wrong to circumcise an eight-day old baby, but that there would be no moral, legal, ethical or human rights issue had a doctor plunged a pair of scissors into that same baby’s skull nine days ago.

There are a few things most of us know about circumcision.  No doubt it hurts -it would have to, I’m thinking.  But I don’t recall if mine hurt or not.  (That’s why it’s done while they are babies).  

Study after study proves circumcision helps prevent the transfer of sexually transmitted disease.  There are some that argue that circumcision results in diminished sexual function.   (How would they know that, I’m wondering?)  

It is certain that circumcision prevents certain kinds of penile cancers.

And as far as I can tell, there is absolutely no identifiable medical benefit that comes from remaining uncircumcised.   Instead, it appears that circumcision helps fight AIDS because the foreskin is particularly susceptible to attack by HIV. It often develops cracks or tears that can be infected by viruses.

And diseases such as syphilis and chancroid, a bacterial infection more common in uncircumcised men, can provide a gateway for HIV.  In Swaziland, the government is conducting a circumcision drive to get men circumcised as a way of combating AIDS.

So what is the big deal in San Francisco?  Is it really about the health of uncircumcised babies?  Or is there something more?

Assessment:

Let me confess that I amused myself all day yesterday coming up with one-liners I can never use about the gayest city in America and its fixation with the male foreskin.   

Having gotten that off my chest, let’s turn to the issue of circumcision as it applies to Christianity. Circumcision was prescribed by the Law of Moses. Christians are not under the Law and are under no obligation to be physically circumcised.  

It is a matter of Western hygiene and health, not religious or Christian obligation.

Circumcision among Christians was not widely practiced until the end of the 19th century – and then as noted, for health reasons.  According to the World Health Organization, as of 2006 about one male in three worldwide was circumcised.  

According to Genesis, God told Abraham to circumcise himself, his household and his slaves as an everlasting covenant in their flesh. Those who were not circumcised were to be ‘cut off’ from their people (Genesis 17:10-14).

Note the connection between circumcision and slavery. Those to be circumcised were Abraham, his descendants and all those that were bought with their money.   All males of a household would have to be circumcised if one of them wanted to join Passover celebrations.

Circumcision only applied to the Jews and to the slaves of the Jews.  It was never applied to people outside the Jewish faith.  All others are described as the ‘uncircumcised’ – even if they practiced circumcision for health reasons, like the ancient Egyptians.

The Abrahamic Covenant is signified by circumcision.  In Greco-Roman culture, it was customary to brand a slave with a mark on the hand or forehead, chagra in Greek, signifying his slave status.

Slaves who refused manumission had their ears bored through with an awl.  That mutilation was permanent, and signified the slave’s permanent devotion to his master.

Circumcision denoted permanent, voluntary enslavement and devotion to God.  The Lord called circumcision a ‘token’ of their covenant.

Galatians 5:3 calls it a symbol of debt to the law because it is a physical token of submission to the Law of Moses.

Christians are no longer required to be physically circumcised because they have been made free from the Law. Christians enter into a New Covenant with Christ – a circumcision without hands:

“In Whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: (Colossians 2:11)

Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all. (Colossians 3:11)

Since there is no evidence that circumcision presents any health risk and reams of evidence favoring it, one wonders why the push, from San Francisco of all places, to ban it?     

“And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.”

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind to do those things which are not convenient.” (Romans 1:28-29)

(Reprobate: Gk adokimos which means, morally worthless) “(Convenient: katheko: becoming, or fit)

Circumcision symbolizes the invitation to mankind to enter into a covenant relationship with God. 

So it would stand to reason that it is offensive to those who would not like to retain God in their knowledge while they are doing those things which are not convenient.

The point is this.  No matter where one turns in this world, there is some reminder of God.  The enemy hates it.  But the harder he fights against the evidences of God, the more attention his efforts bring to them.  

It’s not the first time he’s overplayed his hand.

“Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” (1 Corinthians 2:8)

The time is getting short and the enemy knows it.  He is getting desperate.  So desperate that even a little thing like the symbolism of circumcision is enough to twist him up in knots.   

He can read the signs as well as we can. He knows the Lord is coming.  He knows that He is coming soon. And he doesn’t like it one bit. (But I sure do).

Maranatha!

A Cloudy Day

A Cloudy Day
Vol: 113 Issue: 23 Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The chaos continues to rage across the Middle East again this morning.  Today’s hot spot is still Libya, where more than one thousand demonstrators have been killed so far.  

First, some background: Gadhafi  (there are about thirty-two ways to spell his name – I like this one) has lost the eastern half of the country to demonstrators now unafraid to display the flag of the old monarchy publicly. 

Libya is the fourth largest country in Africa (by area) and ranks seventeenth largest in the world.  It is the tenth richest oil producing nation in the world.

Modern Libya was created out of three traditional parts, Cyrenaica, home of Simon the Cyrene,  Fezzan to the east, and Tripolitania on the northwest.Pre 20th Century Libya

All three were occupied by Italy until the end of World War II, when they were taken over by the French.  The French granted independence to the Kingdom of Libya under King Idris.  On September 1, 1969 King Idris was overthrown by Gadhafi.  

As to Gadhafi, he ranks number four on the list of the longest serving non-royal leaders in history — ahead of Stalin, ahead of Suharto, ahead of Tito, even ahead of Spanish fascist Generalissimo Francisco Franco. 

Gadhafi imported mercenaries from all over the region in the wake of the desertions and defection of many of his high-ranking military officers and pilots who refused to fire on civilians.  

“The Dubai-based al-Arabiya network says some of the guerrillas were Francophone mercenaries recruited by one of the sons of dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Qatar-based al-Jazeera detailed pamphlets circulated to mercenary recruits from Guinea and Nigeria, offering them $2,000 per day to crack down on the Libyan uprising. And, as further reports of defections from the Libyan military filter in, the cornered Gaddafi regime may turn more and more to hired guns from abroad. On television channels and Twitter, frantic rumors circulated about Gaddafi preparing for a mercenary-backed counteroffensive against his opponents.”

Gadhafi gave a long, rambling speech yesterday, the gist of which is that he will not step down.  He threatened to burn the country down with him, starting with the oilfields.

He said he would defy the US, superpowers, ”men with turbans and long beards” and anyone else who tried to end his revolution

‘Muammar Gaddafi is the leader of a revolution,” he shrieked. ”Muammar Gaddafi has no official position to resign from. He is the leader of the revolution forever. This is my country, my country.”

”I am a fighter, a revolutionary from the tents … I will die a martyr at the end.”

Yup.  Nutty as pan full of baklava.

Assessment:

“For the day is near, even the day of the LORD is near, a cloudy day; it shall be the time of the heathen.And the sword shall come upon Egypt, and great pain shall be in Ethiopia, when the slain shall fall in Egypt, and they shall take away her multitude, and her foundations shall be broken down. Ethiopia, and Libya, and Lydia, and all the mingled people, and Chub, and the men of the land that is in league, shall fall with them by the sword. (Ezekiel 30:3-5)

There is a principle in Bible prophecy called ‘dual-fulfillment’.   As my colleague Jack Kelly explains at his excellent website, GracethruFaithdual fulfillment means what it sounds like it means.

“The Abomination of Desolation occurred in 168 BC, not 70 AD, and the Seleucid (Greek) Emperor Antiochus Epiphanes was in charge.  It is a model of what will happen again, but that doesn’t mean life on Earth will be like it was in 168 BC.  It simply means that the event itself will be recognized because of its similarity to its first occurrence. That’s the purpose of dual fulfillment.  The first fulfillment is always incomplete and confirms the fact that another fulfillment is coming.  The first fulfillment is  called a partial fulfillment for that reason. There are a dozen or more prophecies that either have already had dual fulfillments or will have.”

Many of Ezekiel’s prophecies were fulfilled in his lifetime, many others only partially fulfilled. Some won’t find fulfillment until the Tribulation (Ezekiel 38) and still others not until well into the Millennial Kingdom (Ezekiel 39, Revelation 20:8).

Ezekiel 30 echoes the prophecies of Psalms 83, the minor Prophet Obadiah and the Burden of Damascus forecast by the Prophet Isaiah.   

The prophet describes it as a ‘cloudy day’ and ‘during the time of the heathen’ but describes a cascading collapse.

It begins in Egypt, followed by Libya, Lidya (Cyrenaica, Fezzan) Chub and all the mingled peoples, men of the land in league (mercenaries) and ‘they also that uphold Egypt’ (Muslim Brotherhood?).

Ezekiel 31 promises to bring “the Assyrian” (Syria, Assad?) down with Egypt;

“And strangers, the terrible of the nations, have cut him off, and have left him: upon the mountains and in all the valleys his branches are fallen, and his boughs are broken by all the rivers of the land; and all the people of the earth are gone down from his shadow, and have left him.”

“Upon his ruin shall all the fowls of the heaven remain, and all the beasts of the field shall be upon his branches:” (Ezekiel 31:12-13)

The paradigm shift taking place across the Middle East is taking place within a context and a framework. 

The context is that the leaders across the Middle East have gotten too cozy with the United States or Israel — or both.  The framework is revolution aimed at restoring the Islamic caliphate.  

The timing is the last days of the heathen.  

“For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” (Habbakuk 2:3)

It would appear that the waiting is almost over.  Maranatha!

The Bible and Matt Drudge

The Bible and Matt Drudge
Vol: 113 Issue: 22 Tuesday, February 22, 2011

“For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.” (Matthew 24:7)

What does it mean when you can find examples of every one of these signs in the headlines of one news page?

In Libya, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, (better known simply as ‘Gaddafi’s son’) was warning of ‘rivers of blood’ – a bit late, given that the Libyan military was using aircraft and live ammunition against protestors.  

Estimates of the number of killed are already in the hundreds.  Witnesses report bodies lying in the streets.

“This is an opposition movement, a separatist movement which threatens the unity of Libya,” thundered Gaddafi’s son.   “We will take up arms… we will fight to the last bullet,” he said. “We will destroy seditious elements. If everybody is armed, it is civil war, we will kill each other.”

“The armed forces are with him. Tens of thousands are heading here to be with him. We will fight until the last man, the last woman, the last bullet.”

In Egypt, the newly-returned spiritual leader of the ‘non-violent’ Muslim Brotherhood issued a fatwa calling on any Libyan soldier to ensure the last bullet is aimed at Gaddafi.    

After days of waffling back and forth, it appears that Egypt has allowed two Iranian warships to enter the Suez Canal enroute to Syria via the Mediterranean Sea.   

(I say it only appears that way because the AP report quotes an unnamed official on the condition of anonymity.  This must be the same guy they’ve been quoting since last Thursday.)

Once the warships have passed through the Suez, they will sail right past Israel’s coast on their way to either Beirut or Syria. 

That is the reason that Mubarak refused Iranian passage into the Med for thirty-two years.  That is why the Israelis were so horrified at the prospect of Mubarak’s fall. 

It is why they characterized Obama’s abandonment of Mubarak as a ‘betrayal.’ 

On the other side of the world.  Christchurch, New Zealand was shattered by its second major earthquake in six months, with early reports claiming nearly 100 deaths with many still buried under the rubble. 

The South Seas island nation was struck by a 7.1 temblor in September, with today’s 6.2 classified as part of the ‘aftershock sequence’.   

The Washington Post is reporting this morning that the North Koreans are starving and begging for food handouts.  

North Korea has endured its coldest winter in six decades, and farmers worry about below-average crop output. North Korea last week confirmed an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, with its state-run news agency saying that “more than 10,000 heads of draught oxen, milch cows and pigs have so far been infected with the diseases and thousands of them died.”

The Sun-Sentinel in Florida is reporting that pilots, boaters and others who rely on compass readings needs to make adjustments or updated charts because magnetic north is shifting position at the rate of forty miles per year.

“Magnetic north, the point at the top of the Earth that determines compass headings, is shifting its position at a rate of about 40 miles per year. In geologic terms, it’s racing from the Arctic Ocean near Canada toward Russia.”

If one wanted to stretch the definition of ‘pestilence’ just a bit – which I absolutely must so I can include this story, the City of San Francisco is considering a ballot measure aimed at – I’m not making it up, honest – banning circumcision for anyone under the age of eighteen.

 “If it passes, those caught cutting foreskins would face a fine of $1,000 and a year in prison. Only people over the age of 18 would be allowed to have their foreskins removed.”

Irony aside, California’s economy is collapsing – its citizens are fleeing the Golden State like Lot and his family fled Sodom.  The state is issuing IOUs for paychecks. 

But in San Franscisco, everything continues as it was.   

As crazy as it is, as scary as it is, this isn’t the Tribulation.  Even if you can find every sign predicted by Jesus for the last days in a single day’s headlines in a single electronic newspaper, this isn’t the Tribulation.

But this may well be the meltdown that precedes it. 

Assessment:

Stepping back to look at the Big Picture can be sobering and even scary.  That is one reason why subject of Bible prophecy has never been particularly popular among Christians. 

Bible prophecy is not simply predictions of future events, it is a detailed outline of how the endless variables come together to make those events come to be.

Genuine future-telling as coherently outlined in Bible prophecy is beyond the capacity of any human being, or group of human beings. It is history, written in reverse, a unfolding series of events that come together in the exact pattern necessary to bring about a particular outcome.

It deals, not just with the history of nations, but with obscure individual lives.

“Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done,” is how God describes it. (Isaiah 46:10)

The human writers of Scripture were kings, shepherds, drifters, slaves and sinners. They came from different parts of the world at different times, in an era when libraries were few and far between.

Yet each book fits cohesively into the next, cross referencing one another as if written by a single individual. 

Prophecies uttered by one prophet were confirmed by another, in some cases, without one knowing what the other had written. 

In every generation since the Bible was completed, there have been students, thinkers and philosophers as dedicated to the truth as any alive in this generation.

For two thousand years, the debate has raged over the truth of the Bible. 

In all those generations, among all those skeptics, in all those debates, with all those scholars, not one single point in Scripture has ever been disproved. 

If there were some thinker or philosopher of history who had conclusively disproved a single point in Scripture, he would have been the most famous thinker of all time.

He would have been the one who proved God does not exist, since everything we know of God comes from the Bible and the Bible says of itself that its seal of authenticity is its accuracy. 

“Every word of God is pure: He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him.” (Proverbs 30:5)

Bible prophecy is God’s signature. It is empirical evidence that God is real, and that He keeps His promises. 

“I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye Me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.” (Isaiah 45:19

Then God issues the following challenge;

“Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save. Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside Me.” (45:20-21)

Bible prophecy is given to us as a tool of apologetics — evidence directly from God for use in the practice of the defense of the faith. Too often, it becomes a kind of Christian ‘parlor trick’ — and I don’t mean that unkindly. 

It is easy to get caught up in the wonder of witnessing the fulfillment of Bible prophecy before our eyes — the ‘gee whiz’ factor is exciting stuff. But the purpose of Bible prophecy isn’t to amaze or entertain believers. It is to convict the lost of the certainty of accountability before a Living God and lead them to the Throne of Grace. 

Since it is impossible to prove a negative, God has provided us with positive evidence specifically designed for use by the generation to whom it was all addressed.

 “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” (Matthew 24:34

The generation that read this morning’s Drudge Report. 

Dodging (Yet Another) Cosmic Bullet

Dodging (Yet Another) Cosmic Bullet
Vol: 113 Issue: 21 Monday, February 21, 2011

I would think that everybody knows the children’s story about the boy who cried “Wolf!” just so he could see everyone come running to his rescue.  

After the first few times, the response grew less aggressive and finally, people stopped responding altogether.

Then the wolf showed up for real.  Nobody listened. And the wolf ate the little boy. (The first time I heard the story, I thought it served him right.)

I looked back through our archives and the first time I could find where we repeated a government warning of damaging solar storm activity was way back in October 2003.

Larry Combs, a forecaster with the NOAA Space Environment Center’s Space Weather Operations, said that this region has developed rapidly over the last three to four days. “It’s somewhat unusual to have this much activity when we’re approximately three-and-a-half years past solar maximum,” he said. “In fact, just last week, solar activity was very low with an almost spotless sun.”

Unusual was a good way to describe it.  The sun operates according to eleven year cycles that range from the self-explanatory solar minimum and maximum periods.

The solar minimum began in 2000 after a solar maximum period that began by knocking out the Quebec power grid in 1989. Solar storms fried orbiting satellites, disrupted communications and caused sporadic power interruptions in 1994, 1997 and 1998.

Another storm in July 2000 put several satellites temporarily out of contact and caused navigation problems in others.   But those were all during the solar maximum.  The October 2003 event was during a solar minimum — baffling astronomers.

The sun erupted three more times in less than 24 hours, bringing the number of major eruptions to nine in less than two weeks. Scientists have been monitoring the solar cycles since 1755. There has never been a string of activity like this.

Early Monday, Paal Brekke, deputy project manager of the SOHO spacecraft, was still digesting the significance of the three additional outbursts on top of two back-to-back monster flares Oct. 28 and 29.

“I think the last week will go into the history books as one of the most dramatic periods of solar activity we have seen in modern time,” Brekke told SPACE.com.

On Thursday, NASA issued warnings that the most powerful solar storm in four years was about to hit earth, with the potential to cause catastrophic damage to the terrestrial electrical grid.   But it came and went without major problems.

Despite its strength, Monday’s solar storm was a baby compared to several previous blasts, and it provides just a hint of what the sun is capable of. 

This past weekend’s event was nothing compared with the “Carrington Event” of 1859. 

The 1859 storm shorted out telegraph wires, causing fires in North America and Europe, and spawned spectacular auroras — the light shows visible near Earth’s poles — bright enough to read by, according to some accounts.

If the 1859 storm occurred these days, it would likely have devastating impacts, since our electrical and communications infrastructures are so much more developed. A recent report by the U.S National Academy of Sciences found that such a severe storm could cause up to $2 trillion in initial damages by crippling communications on Earth and fueling chaos around the world.

It might take up to 10 years for authorities to re-assert control and get everything fixed, the report concluded. For comparison, Hurricane Katrina likely inflicted somewhere between $80 billion and $125 billion in damage.

(Oh no! The Middle East is going up in flames, Iranian warships are in the Suez Canal and he’s going to talk about solar flares again?)

Umm, yes.  In terms of Bible prophecy, this is a very, very big deal.  Bigger than anything that might take place across the Middle East. 

It is potentially a bigger deal than if the United States defaulted on its national debt.  It is a bigger deal than an all-out war in the Middle East.  

It is potentially a bigger deal than any other threat that now faces Western civilization.   It is potentially a bigger deal than anything we’ve ever seen in terms of natural disasters.  It is a much bigger deal than even the most dire projections about global warming.

Even Al Gore couldn’t over-emphasize the danger.  

Assessment:

To my way of thinking, there are a number of major reasons why these solar events are among the most important prophetic signs that the Lord is about to return.  The first is the timing. 

It began during the last solar maximum of the sixth millennium.  Recall how Paul Brekke described the first solar minimum of the seventh millennium. 

“I think the last week will go into the history books as one of the most dramatic periods of solar activity we have seen in modern time.”

Then there is the issue of vulnerability.  At no time in the history of mankind from the time of Adam up to this day has the earth been more vulnerable to solar activity than it is today.  

It is estimated that a storm on the scale of the 1989 storm that knocked out the Quebec grid would be many times worse today, thanks to an infrastructure that is already overloaded.  

The length of the wires criss-crossing the country is some ten times what it was in 1989.  And the longer the wire, the more damage a solar-generated surge can do.

So we have the timing and we have the vulnerability issues.  Both are unique to this generation to the exclusion of all others.  

Nowhere near finally, but most importantly,  I think, is the fact that of all the various disasters and potential disasters that face humankind, this is totally beyond any human capacity to either predict or affect.

When the sun kicks out a big enough flare, there is nothing we can do about it.  Mankind can’t cause a solar flare.  If it is strong enough, we can’t shield ourselves from a solar flare.  

There is nothing we can really do to mitigate the damage once it has happened.   And there is nothing facing this planet that has a greater potential for casualties.

“And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;  Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.”  (Luke 21:25-26)

Of all the Bible prophecies for the last days, this is the most specific and the one for which there is absolutely no historical parallel.  It has never happened before and it can never happen again.

It is unique to THIS generation.

Never before has the entire world been this aware of both the threat and our vulnerability to it.  Not only are all our incredible technological advances useless in our defense, it is those technological advances that are responsible for our vulnerability.

It is terrifying. We are pretty much helpless.  But we’re not crying ‘Wolf’.  As NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco told Gizmodo over the weekend,

“This is not a matter of if, it’s simply a matter of when and how big.”

We are distressed and perplexed on a global basis.  The fear of those things coming upon the earth is almost palpable – it is literally the powers of heaven that are responsible for the threat.  

There has never been anything even remotely similar in the history of the human race.   

And it is only two verses later, when Jesus says:

“When THESE things begin to come to pass, then look up and lift up your heads for your redemption draws nigh.’ (Luke 21:28)

Maranatha!