Are We Headed Toward a One-World Government?

The Bible does not use the phrase “one-world government” or “one-world currency” in referring to the end times. It does, however, provide ample evidence to enable us to draw the conclusion that both will exist under the rule of the Antichrist in the last days. One is cautioned though to assume too much from a literal interpretation of spiritual revelations.

In his apocalyptic vision in the Book of Revelation, the Apostle John sees the “beast,” also called the Antichrist, rising out of the sea having seven heads and ten horns (Revelation 13:1). Combining this vision with Daniel’s similar one (Daniel 7:16-24), we can conclude that some sort of world system will be inaugurated by the beast, the most powerful “horn,” who will defeat the other nine and will begin to wage war against Christians. The ten-nation confederacy is also seen in Daniel’s image of the statue in Daniel 2:41-42, where he pictures the final world government consisting of ten entities represented by the ten toes of the statue. Whoever the ten are and however they come to power, Scripture is clear that the beast will either destroy them or reduce their power to nothing more than figureheads. In the end, they will do his bidding.

John goes on to describe the ruler of this vast empire as having power and great authority, given to him by Satan himself (Revelation 13:2), being followed by and receiving worship from “all the world” (13:3-4), and having authority over “every tribe, people, language and nation” (13:7). From this description, it is logical to assume that this person is the leader of a one-world government which is recognized as sovereign over all other governments. It’s hard to imagine how such diverse systems of government as are in power today would willingly subjugate themselves to a single ruler, and there are many theories on the subject. A logical conclusion is that the disasters and plagues described in Revelation as the seal and trumpet judgments (chapters 6-11) will be so devastating and create such a monumental global crisis that people will embrace anything and anyone who promises to give them relief.

Once entrenched in power, the beast (Antichrist) and the power behind him (Satan) will move to establish absolute control over all peoples of the earth to accomplish their true end, the worship Satan has been seeking ever since being thrown out of heaven (Isaiah 14:12-14). One way they will accomplish this is by controlling all commerce, and this is where the idea of a one-world currency comes in. Revelation 13:16-17 describes some sort of satanic mark which will be required in order to buy and sell. This means anyone who refuses the mark will be unable to buy food, clothing or other necessities of life. No doubt the vast majority of people in the world will succumb to the mark simply to survive. Again, verse 16 makes it clear that this will be a universal system of control where everyone, rich and poor, great and small, will bear the mark on their hand or forehead. There is a great deal of speculation as to how exactly this mark will be affixed, but the technologies that are available right now could accomplish it very easily.

Those who are left behind after the Rapture of the Church will be faced with an excruciating choice—accept the mark of the beast in order to survive or face starvation and horrific persecution by the Antichrist and his followers. But those who come to Christ during this time, those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life (Revelation 13:8), will choose to endure, even to martyrdom.

Your Calledness. Yes, That Is a Word.

Years after hearing God’s call as a boy, Samuel became a prophet and a
judge, and the one God appointed to anoint Israel’s first king—Saul. Even
though the writers of this part of Israel’s history described Israel’s desire for
a king as a rejection of God (1 Samuel 8:7), God still worked with the
people to appoint and call their leader. This was a time of change for the
nation of Israel, and God left nothing to chance. In order to reassure Saul
that he was indeed chosen by God, Samuel described in great detail the
events that would happen in the next few days, and that would reveal
God’s activity and call in the life of Saul. This was a gracious gift of faith
that God gave to God’s chosen servant for the work that he would have to
face as king of God’s people.

Think about how God has called you—like Samuel and Nathaniel—to
participate in God’s saving work. If you have any doubts about your
‘calledness’ or your ability to contribute to God’s mission, think about the
times and places in your own life when you have been aware of God’s
activity, and when you have been able to make a difference—however
small—in someone else’s life. Allow this reflection to strengthen your faith
and inspire your gratitude and commitment to God.

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “All I have seen teaches me to trust the
Creator for all I have not seen.” Remembering and giving thanks builds our
faith because it keeps us mindful of what we have seen of God’s work.
Today, give thanks and affirm your faith in God whenever you remember
or become aware of God’s activity and presence in your life.

Thank you, Gracious God, for your presence and activity in my life and for
the gift of faith it brings.

What Ever It Takes

It is useless to give offerings to God while you are at enmity with your brother. Jesus said that His followers should be reconciled with anyone who has something against them. The world seeks reconciliation on limited terms. Christians are to be reconciled, whatever it takes.

You say, “But you don’t know how deeply he hurt me! It’s unreasonable to ask me to restore our relationship.” Or, “I tried but she would not be appeased.” Jesus did not include an exception clause for our reconciliation. If the person is an enemy, Jesus said to love him (Matt. 5:44). If he persecutes you, you are to pray for him (v. 44). If she publicly humiliates you, you are not to retaliate (v. 39). If someone takes advantage of you, you are to give even more than he asks (v. 41). The world preaches “Assert yourself.” Jesus taught, “Deny yourself.” The world warns that you will be constantly exploited. Jesus’ concern was not that His disciples be treated fairly but that they show unconditional love to others regardless of how they were treated. Men spat upon Jesus and nailed Him to a cross. His response was our model: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34).

If there were ever a command that is constantly disobeyed, it is this mandate to be reconciled. We comfort ourselves with the thought, “God knows that I tried to make things right, but my enemy refused.” God’s word does not say “Try to be reconciled,” but “Be reconciled.” Is there someone with whom you need to make peace? Then do what God tells you to do.

Riding the Second Wave of COVID

While many predicted a second wave of the COVID virus and related shutdowns, very few thought it would be this serious. At the same time, the impact is vastly different across the country. In some states, church is pretty much business as usual, while in places like Los Angeles (where I live) it’s becoming a ghost town.

Despite the stage of lockdowns in your area, chances are, this is getting old for you and your congregation. Even if you’ve weathered the storm pretty well, I imagine your finances are beginning to feel the strain. So when it comes to pushing through this final stage before the vaccine and herd immunity kicks in, here’s five important things to consider:

1) Hopefully, this has convinced you that live-streaming your services and other digital communication are here for good. The church lockdown has changed the way people do church, and I believe a significant number of people will be cutting back actual physical attendance by a Sunday or two a month. So don’t for a minute think your live-streaming days are over. In fact, I would use this opportunity to make it as strong and effective as possible for the future.

2) Keep telling the story of your mission and purpose. Show that during this virus, you’re still out there making a positive impact, and changing lives for the better. Show results. This is not the time to ask for money without showing how you’re using it. People are still hurting and concerned about how long their finances will last. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t people out there still passionate about your vision, and who want to help it be accomplished.

This is another reason why your communication and media team is so important right now. You should be telling your story on social media, email blasts, short videos, and on your live stream. Show people how their financial support is making a difference in your community.

3) Speaking of communication, hopefully, pastors and ministry leaders have learned the lesson that communication and media are just as important as missions, youth ministry, music, and more. One thing COVID has taught many pastors and ministry leaders is the critical importance of a skilled communication and media team. In a world where we’re forced to communicate online, understanding how to maximize that experience, keep your story out there, and stay connected with a congregation, donors, or supporters has become incredibly clear. Use this time to build a stronger team and get them the tools they need to share your message with the world.

4) Produce a seminar or class specifically designed to help your church members re-start their career, and get back on track financially. Think about it: who in your congregation has knowledge and skills to help teach a class on job hunting, preparing resumes, and conducting successful job interviews? Who can teach on networking, personal branding, or how to launch a new business?

When people get back to work, that transforms entire families. It alleviates stress and renews their purpose. Plus, it will help get your church finances back to normal as well. Start right now. Pinpoint the business leaders in your church who can lead the initiative. Make the classes in-person or Zoom. Sponsor a job fair. Partner with a local organization focused on helping people into the job market.

5) If you’ve ever thought about making serious changes in your church or ministry, this is the moment. Emerging from a crisis can be the best time to re-brand, re-think, or re-invent your organization, your career, and your life. Most of the time, people hate change, but after nearly a year of hearing phrases like “a new normal,” and “things are going to be different,” over and over, people are naturally assuming change is about to happen.

Nearly every pastor or ministry leader in the world wants to change something – what about you? The church name, organizational chart, order of service, branding, small groups, graphic design, music team, logo, staff, leaders – whatever it is, this is the time to do it. Right now, people understand that things will be different, and I believe the general public may never again be this open to change. So take advantage of it and make it happen – and soon.

While in some parts of the world, things are looking worse than ever, this can also be the moment for your greatest breakthrough. Re-read this list, and write down how you can adapt it to your team, your congregation, and your life.

The Christian and Astrology

The Bible has much to say about the stars. Most basic to our understanding of the stars is that God created them. They show His power and majesty. The heavens are God’s “handiwork” (Psalm 8:3; 19:1). He has all the stars numbered and named (Psalm 147:4).

The Bible also teaches that God arranged the stars into recognizable groups that we call constellations. The Bible mentions three of these: Orion, the Bear (Ursa Major), and “the crooked serpent” (most likely Draco) in Job 9:9; 26:13; 38:31-32; and Amos 5:8. The same passages also reference the star group Pleiades (the Seven Stars). God is the One Who “fastens the bands” of these constellations; He is the One who brings them forth, “each in its season.” In Job 38:32, God also points to the “Mazzaroth,” usually translated “constellations.” This is thought by many to be a reference to the twelve constellations of the zodiac.

The constellations have been tracked and studied for millennia. The Egyptians and Greeks knew of the zodiac and used it to measure the beginning of spring centuries before Christ. Much has been written of the meaning of the zodiacal constellations, including theories that they comprise an ancient display of God’s redemptive plan. For example, the constellation Leo can be seen as a celestial depiction of the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5), and Virgo could be a reminder of the virgin who bore Christ. However, the Bible does not indicate any “hidden meaning” for these or other constellations.

The Bible says that stars, along with the sun and moon, were given for “signs” and “seasons” (Genesis 1:14); that is, they were meant to mark time for us. They are also “signs” in the sense of navigational “indicators,” and all through history men have used the stars to chart their courses around the globe.

God used the stars as an illustration of His promise to give Abraham an innumerable seed (Genesis 15:5). Thus, every time Abraham looked up at the night sky, he had a reminder of God’s faithfulness and goodness. The final judgment of the earth will be accompanied by astronomical events relating to the stars (Isaiah 13:9-10; Joel 3:15; Matthew 24:29).

Astrology is the “interpretation” of an assumed influence the stars (and planets) exert on human destiny. According to astrology, the sign you were born under, Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, or Capricorn, impacts your destiny. This is a false belief. The royal astrologers of the Babylonian court were put to shame by God’s prophet Daniel (Daniel 1:20) and were powerless to interpret the king’s dream (Daniel 2:27). God specifies astrologers as among those who will be burned as stubble in God’s judgment (Isaiah 47:13-14). Astrology as a form of divination is expressly forbidden in Scripture (Deuteronomy 18:10-14). God forbade the children of Israel to worship or serve the “host of heaven” (Deuteronomy 4:19). Several times in their history, however, Israel fell into that very sin (2 Kings 17:16 is one example). Their worship of the stars brought God’s judgment each time.

The stars should awaken wonder at God’s power, wisdom, and infinitude. We should use the stars to keep track of time and place and to remind us of God’s faithful, covenant-keeping nature. All the while, we acknowledge the Creator of the heavens. Our wisdom comes from God, not the stars (James 1:5).

The Surprise of Wonder

Nathaniel got a big surprise when he met Jesus. Having heard where Jesus
was from, he had all sorts of prejudices that made him skeptical of Philip’s
recommendation. But then, when he met Jesus everything changed – not
because of anything he did, but because of the way Jesus revealed God’s
glory to him.

The image Jesus uses of the angels ascending and descending comes, of
course, from the ancient story of Jacob’s ladder (Genesis 28:10-22). The
trickster Jacob was on the run from his angry brother, whom he had tricked
one too many times. Then, one night as he slept, God revealed God’s glory
to him in a dream of angels ascending and descending on a stairway to
heaven. And with the vision came God’s promise, and God’s call for Jacob
to be God’s instrument of blessing to the nations. Now, with Nathaniel,
Jesus uses this image to show that He is the one who reveals God’s glory to
the world, and who offers a ‘stairway to heaven’—a way to encounter
God’s glory and be part of God’s purpose.

God’s glory is not as hidden as we may suppose. Usually when we miss
God’s glory the problem is not with God, but with our ability to see. The
best way to learn to recognize God’s presence all around us is to practice
the discipline of wonder. Today, try to slow down a little and look for the
wonder in the ordinary things around you—plants and animals, people and
circumstances.

May your glory fill my vision and my life, O God of Glory

Killing Is Not Curing

Lebensunwertes Leben is a chilling German phrase that means “life unworthy of life.” It was coined in 1920 by two German professors, Karl Binding and Alfred Hoche, who thought that people with congenital, mental, or developmental disabilities burden their families and the state while contributing nothing. Hoche described such people as “human ballast” and “empty shells of human beings.” These are lives unworthy of life, they argued, and it should be permissible to end them.

That argument was the seed that grew into the horrific fruit of the Holocaust. Before the Nazis built Auschwitz or perfected the gas chamber, there was Knauer, a baby born blind, missing a leg and part of an arm, and considered to be an “idiot.” When a family member requested a “mercy killing” for Knauer, Hitler and his personal physician, Karl Brandt, directed doctors at the University of Leipzig to end Knauer’s life.

And that is how the Nazi euthanasia program began. From 1939 to 1945, at least five thousand other children would be killed in German hospitals. From killing children, they progressed to killing adults, then prisoners, and finally Jews. Mass genocide was simply the logical conclusion following the premise that some human lives are unworthy of life.

Curing by Killing
It may seem hard to imagine living in such a barbaric society. The awful reality is that we already do. In the United States, 67–85 percent of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome are aborted. The numbers are similar for babies with anencephaly and spina bifida (83 percent and 63 percent, respectively).

In our “civilized” society, it is simply assumed that a prenatal diagnosis of lethal, life-limiting, or severely debilitating disorders justifies abortion. The medical euphemism used to describe those babies and their conditions is “incompatible with life.” That is our version of lebensunwertes leben.

How do doctors sworn to preserve life come to destroy life? According to Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, who personally interviewed German doctors involved in mass killings, the fundamental shift happened when doctors convinced themselves that killing was healing.

Today, we live in a society that similarly confuses the murder of unborn babies for medical care. In 2017, CBS News tweeted, “Iceland is on pace to virtually eliminate Down syndrome through abortion.” In 2019, a UK woman said, “I aborted my disabled baby girl after [the] 20-week scan to free her from a life of pain and suffering.” It sounds more civilized to reframe personal convenience as compassion, but killing babies with disabilities is not curing. “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20).

‘Wonderful Are Your Works’
A society shaped by atheistic materialism and Darwinian evolution can never account for the worth of persons with disabilities — because such a society does not account for God. Christians, however, are compelled to protect and care for babies with disabilities simply because they are humans made in the image of our God.

For me, this issue transcends stats or abstract moral dilemmas. I am the proud father of twin sons whose lives, in the judgment of many, would not be worth living. They were born with a condition called nemaline myopathy, which causes extreme muscle weakness. One passed away at the age of 3; the other is now 8. Caring for such weak and dependent children has deepened my understanding of the image of God.

In Psalm 139:13–14, David prays,

You formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.

Because of my sons’ condition, I’ve wrestled with the question, Can my son pray those words? Can he say to God, “You made me, and I am one of your wonderful works”? Or does his disability make him defective?

It’s one thing for armchair philosophers to contemplate such questions, but for wheelchair sufferers like my son, these are serious questions. And there are serious answers in accounting for God, and what it means for humans to be made in his image.

Peter Singer, a professor of bioethics at Princeton, believes that the value of human life depends on functions like rationality and autonomy. He openly says that disabled infants “lack these characteristics. Killing them, therefore, cannot be equated with killing normal human beings or any other self-aware beings” (Practical Ethics, 160). In Singer’s world, the most vulnerable among us are the most expendable.

But according to Scripture, the image of God is not something humans bear or possess; it is what we are as humans. The Dutch theologian Herman Bavinck said, “The essence of human nature is its being [created in] the image of God” (Reformed Dogmatics, 2:554). That is, to be human is to be in God’s image.

Our appearances, capabilities, and experiences vary, but the one thing each one of us shares in common with every other is our humanness. Again, Bavinck powerfully states the point:

It follows from the doctrine of human creation in the image of God that this image extends to the whole person. Nothing in a human being is excluded from the image of God. While all creatures display vestiges of God, only a human being is the image of God. And he is such totally, in soul and body, in all his faculties and powers, in all conditions and relations. (555)

That is gloriously true for my son and for all children with disabilities or life-limiting conditions, whether born or unborn. Christ is the image of God, and in him, we who were made in God’s image, and have sinned, are invited into redemption. To judge any human as unworthy of life is to defame the image of our God and his Son. To put them to death — even in the name of mercy or medicine — is to desecrate the glory of Christ.

Ryan Chase

Before You Knew How

Jesus, revealing himself, calls his servants to him. Nathanael’s response to that call is particularly poignant for people in our age of isolation who are seeking identity: “How do you know me?” The Fathers’ opinion of Nathanael as a learned man, versed in the Scriptures, cuts an even more striking parallel to modern people. Nathanael is famous for his skepticism of how the Messiah could come from Nazareth.

But far from making him out to be a doubter like Thomas, John Chrysostom (in his Homilies on the Gospel of St. John) praises Nathanael for not being taken in so easily. His inquiry of how anything good could come from Nazareth reveals his attentiveness to the Scriptures—since Bethlehem, not Nazareth, is named by the prophets as the homeland of the Messiah. But still he follows Phillip’s invitation to “come and see” for himself, revealing that he is not so blinkered as to think that nothing unexpected could be true. This is an invitation to intellectually inclined modern people, both to praise the use of their minds to search the Scriptures for the truth, but also an invitation to go and directly experience the risen Lord.

Jesus also reveals that he knew Nathanael even before he got up to follow him. St. Augustine saw the fig tree spread over Nathanael as a reference to the dominion of sin. Jesus’ selection of him shows how the Lord seeks us out, by prevenient grace, to turn us to him before we could even know how.

Nuts to COVID

Although it is the heart of winter, the Jewish calendar has now entered the month of Shvat, the month of Redemption. And this is the time we read the Book of Exodus, when G-d chooses the Jewish people to become His partners in saving the world.

Whereas the Book of Genesis was all about Creation and the forming of individuals – in Exodus the Jewish individuals which have become G-d’s chosen family slowly develop into a nation, a nation which will be become pioneers in more ways than one.

As I write, my daughter has sent a photo by WhatsApp of being inoculated against Covid in Israel. And a photo of my son-in-law who has also now been inoculated by another of the four Israeli health insurance companies.

The importance of gleaning, which Judaism taught the world through the Book of Ruth, has also not been forgotten in Israel. Anyone who queues up at the inoculation centers can get a dose – because throwing life-saving medicines away is not only a sin in Judaism, it is also a crime. And in fact, nurses have run out into the streets in order to find passers-by to offer the jabs to at the end of the day.

We celebrate the first appearance of the first almond, known in Hebrew as sh-k-d, an anagram for ‘holiness’ and also conveying the idea of watchfulness, with a connection to Jeremiah 1:11-12, where the tiny ‘almond’ becomes a ‘watch-word’.

Here is Rashi’s commentary on the ‘almond’ verse, which he wrote in northern France in around 1066, when fellow-Frenchmen were invading England and taking it over at the Battle of Hastings.

The almond is generally regarded as one of the most health-giving foods in existence – and one of its traits is that it is quite hard to crack, starts off with a bitter taste and then becomes sweeter as you get used to it.

This present Covid situation, which first started to be taken seriously in this country around Pesach (Passover) of last year, has everything to do with Exodus and almonds.

As early as Tu Bshvat last year, Israel started to make very difficult decisions in order to combat the oncoming plague. For instance, the spring Purim carnival, much loved by children, was cancelled. It is not yet known whether it will go ahead this year.

The month between Tu B’Shvat and Purim will be a seminal period when decisions will have to be made. Meanwhile all schools are still shut over there.

However, with people under 50 now being inoculated in Israel, it may be that the vast majority of adults will be inoculated by the end of February, just when Purim takes place, a month before Pesach (Passover).

So, during this festive time of plagues tempered with almonds and slavery tempered by liberation, who knows what the outcome will be. The only way forward is eternal vigilance – which has been the watchword of the Jewish people for 4,000 years.

Irene Lancaster

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