Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Suburbia - Parasise Lost?

I have been reading the Long Emergency by James Kunstler. Here are some quotes.

The American way of life is synonymous with suburbia.

America has invested its wealth in a living arrangement –suburban sprawl- that has not future.

The state of the art mega-suburbs have of recent decades produced horrendous levels of alienation, loneliness, anomie, anxiety and depression and we may be better of without them.
What has suburbia done to the church?

Kunstler believes that the coming oil crisis will kill surburbia. Will it kill the megachurch too? Can the church redeem suburbia?

These are questions that I am thinking about.

Islam Resurgent (6) The Lion and the Eagle

Daniel saw something like this.

I saw a lion, which had grabbed hold of the wings of an eagle. I watched until the lion tore off the eagle’s wings. The eagle was then lifted up from the ground to stand like a man, and given a human heart.
If this was what Daniel saw, then the beast was a lion that was struggling with an eagle. The lion is the king of the animals and the eagle is the king of the birds, so Daniel was seeing a struggle between two immensely powerful nations. A lion is the symbol of Iran, being part of its national flag. A lion is strong, ferocious, brave, greedy and roars loudly (Jud 14:18; Job 10:16; Ps 17:12; 22:13; Prov 28:1). It is an appropriate symbol for Iran, or the growth of Islam that Iran spearheads. This renaissance of Islam is also described in Rev 6:2.

The animal that symbolises the United States is the bald eagle. When I first studied this vision in the early nineteen-eighties, the United States hostage crisis was underway. An attempt by the military to rescue the American hostages held in Iran ended in disaster in the desert. It seemed that the Iranian government had a strong hold over the United States. It could be said that the Iranian lion had the American eagle by the wings. At one stage during the crisis, television news items were given before a backdrop with a lion on one side and an eagle on the other. Daniel may have seen something similar. (A political commentator wrote a book called The Eagle and The Lion: The Tragedy of American-Iranian Relations.)

The United States power comes from two sources; its great wealth and military power. The military strength and economic power are the two wings that enable it to fly. On 9/11 two planes crashed into the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. The World Trade Centre is the headquarters of several large corporations so it symbolises economic power. The Pentagon houses the Defence department, so it represents military power. The two wings on which the United States flies were attacked

9/11 brought a radical change in attitudes in the United States. Daniel saw this change of heart in the United States. The eagle was "lifted up from the ground". It "stood on two feet like a man", a reference to the statue of a man that is described in Daniel 2. This statue represented the empires, from Babylon to Rome that dominated the world in Old Testament times. The statue’s legs of iron represented the Roman Empire. Daniel’s vision of the eagle standing like a man on two feet is a description of the United States becoming a new empire in the style of the Roman empire.

The eagle was give the "heart of a man". The United States was once a godly nation, but it has now become a centre, from which humanism is spreading through the earth. In 2001, the United States was not kept safe by God, so now it is trusting in military power to maintain its peace. The nation has a new heart, but it is not a heart for God.

More here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Islam Resurgent (5) - Butting to the South

Daniel saw the ram (Iran) charging to the west, the north and the south.

I watched the ram as he charged toward the west and the north and the south. No animal could stand against him, and none could rescue from his power. He did as he pleased and became great (Dan 8:4).

The first two of these charges have already taken place. To the west of Iran is the nation of Iraq. In 1980 Iraq invaded Iran, and military strategists said that Iran would soon have to surrender. To their surprise the Iranian troops forced the invading army back across their border. Iran then attempted to invade Iraq and topple its Baathist socialist government of Saddam Hussein. (He was a client of the US back then, before he was bitten by the hand that fed him).

More recently, since the US invasion of Iraq, the Iranians have been supporting the Shiite people in Iraq.

The nations to the north of Iran are Syria and Lebanon. There are already strong links between Iran and Syria, and Iranian power has been influential in Lebanon. Iran also established Hezbollah, which led the resistance against Israel's invasion of Lebanon.

The butting to the north and the west is easy to understand, but I have never got what Daniel meant by butting to the south. There is nothing to the south of Iran but sea. Recently I have realised that this is Daniel's point.

To the south of Iran are the Strait of Hormuz, which mark the entrance to the Persian gulf. The Strait of Homruz is about twenty miles wide at its narrowest point. Most of the oil from Iraq and Saudi Arabia is carried through this narrow gap in massive supertankers. This is about twenty percent of the total supply of oil available. This means that if Iran "buts to the south" and closes this waterway, the United States will powerless to prevent it. The price of oil could shoot up to $200 a barrel.

George Bush shuld be careful before having a go at Iran. He might bite off more than he can chew.

More here.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Islam Resurgent (4) - Powerful Iran

Daniel saw a ruler in Iran who would become great and do just as he pleases.

I watched the ram as he charged toward the west and the north and the south. No animal could stand against him, and none could rescue from his power. He did as he pleased and became great (Dan 8:4).
This would be a good description of recent leadership in Iran. More interesting still, Daniel says that no nation would be able to "rescue from his power".

When the Islamic revolution took place, over one hundred American hostages were held in their embassy. The United States, which is the greatest military power in the world, devised a plan called "Eagle’s Claw" to rescue them. Despite elaborate planning and the best equipment that modern technology could provide, the rescue attempt ended in disaster. Helicopters encountered unprecedented head winds and unexpected dust storms. A helicopter crashed into a plane during refueling in the Iranian desert and eight servicemen were killed. The United States was not strong enough to rescue its people from Iran, and had to beg for their return (see Desert One.

Before having a go at Iran, George Bush should think about Daniel's words and what happened to Jimmy Carter.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Islam Resurgent (3) - Iran

George Bush and his cheerleader John Hagee are getting stirred up about Iran. What they do not understand is that God has raised up the nation of Iran for a purpose. God sometimes uses a heathen nation to do his work. He used Babylon to take the Jews into exile. He used Darius the Mede to get the Jews back from exile. Now God is using Iran to fulfil his purposes in this time. If that is the case, Bush and Hagee might find themselves fighting against God.

Daniel had a vision of a Ram beside the river Euphrates. After the vision the angel Gabriel appeared to explain its meaning to him. When Gabriel drew near, Daniel fell to the ground in fear, but the angel stood him on his feet and encouraged him. Gabriel first explained the timing of the vision’s fulfilment.

Understand that the vision concerns the time of the end…I am going to tell you what will happen later in the time of wrath, because the vision concerns the appointed time of the end. Dan 8:17,19
Gabriel makes it clear that the vision is not to be fulfilled in Daniel’s time. It concerns the time of the end, and will be fulfilled in the later "time of wrath". Daniel 8 has not yet been fulfilled, but we seem to be seeing its fulfilment in our time.

The first part of the vision is described in Daniel 8:3,4.

I looked up, and there before me was a ram with two horns, standing beside the canal, and the horns were long. One of the horns was longer than the other but grew up later. I watched the ram as he charged toward the west and the north and the south. No animal could stand against him, and none could rescue from his power. He did as he pleased and became great.
This is what Daniel saw and the interpretation is given in verse 20. The two horned ram represents the kings of Media and Persia. The people of Media and Persia now make up the nation of Iran. Daniel saw a future ruler of Iran, who would rise to power.

Daniel was seeing the 1978 Islamic revolution in Iran culminated in the overthrow of the Shah of Iran, and the rise to power of Ayatollah Khomeini. The smaller horn on the goat is the Islamic Republic led by Ayatollah Khomeini. The larger horn is probably the current regime.

Iran has become a key player in the Middle East. Maybe this is part of God's plan for these times.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Islam Resurgent (2) - Why?

The advance of Islam raises an interesting question. Jesus is still his only way of salvation, so why has God allowed a false religion to have such a powerful resurgence.

Zechariah provides the answer. He saw the white horse advancing to the west (Zech 6:6). This could be a description of the advance of Islam in the western world. In Britain 450 churches have been changed into mosques and the largest mosque in the world is in Regent Park. In Rome there is a mosque with a minaret taller than the spire of St Peters. In South Africa thousands of blacks have converted to Islam. Some observers are suggesting that France may eventually have more Moslems than Catholics.

The alternative interpretation is that Zechariah is describing Islamic military attacks against the west.

The important point is that the horsemen are sent in judgement against sinful activity. This means that the advance of Islam is a judgement against the nations of the West. The advance of the Kingdom of God in the West has been hindered by the pursuit of pleasure and comfort. God will use Islam to bring that indulgence to an end.

Many Christians in the West are keen to go to war against Islam. They should be careful, because they could be resisting the purpose of God. Resisting judgement always produces more pain. Repentance is the only way to turn away judgement.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Islam Resurgent (1)

Over the last few decades, a renaissance of Islam has been evident all over the world. Observers have been surprised by the advance of Islam. Many Christians are fearful.

What few people realise is that the resurgence of Islam was prophesied by God nearly 2000 years ago. We should not be afraid, because this is part of his plan and purpose for this world. John recorded the following vision.

I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, "Come!" I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest (Revelation 6:1,2).
Some commentators see it as a picture of Jesus Christ, and the victories of the gospel. The problem is that this horseman is armed with a bow, and there is no other place in the prophetic books where the Messiah is pictured as being armed with a bow. Bowmen are usually the enemies of God (Psalm 46:9).

The rider on the white horse probably represents a false messiah or a false religion. He looks like Jesus and could be mistaken for him, because he rides on a white horse. But the fact that he has a bow shows that he is really an enemy of God. Thus John has given a picture of a false messiah or a false religion making a powerful advance. It goes forth "conquering and to conquer".

In the Old Testament a number of nations are referred to as bowmen. In Jeremiah 49:344-39 the nation of Elam is described as being armed with a bow (cf Is 22:6). Elam was situated in the western part of modern Iran. The Persian army which came from the same area is also described as being armed with bows (Jeremiah 50:14,29,42). Iran is the leader of the Islamic renaissance which is taking place throughout the world.

There are bowmen in Arabia (Is 21:13-16). Libya and Turkey are all countries in which the religion of Islam is strong. Ishmael was an archer (Gen 21:20). He is the father of the Arab nations, where Islam is strong.

Islam claims to be based on the Bible. Mohammed is a false prophet who claimed to be a successor to Jesus. Thus a bowman on a white horse is a good description of the Islamic religion. It has certainly been conquering in recent times.

More here

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Climate Change (20) - Wasted Opportunity

When Christian historians look back on the sixty years following the end of the second World War, they will see that time as a wasted opportunity for the Kingdom of God. They will see a time of relative peace when travel round the world was never easier. The power of communications was immense. Christians had more vastly more wealth than at any time in history. I suspect that historians will look back and see this as an opportunity that was frittered away by Christians. The greatest opportunity that has ever existed for the advance of the kingdom of God became a time when the gospel slipped backwards.

The sad thing is that these wonderful conditions for spreading of the gospel and expanding of the Kingdom of God are coming to an end. The properity will disappear. The freedom to travel will be gone. Many forms of communication will be come more difficult. A long time will pass before we have such a good time again.

This full series can be found here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Climate Change (19) - Change is Inevitable

The message of the book or Revelation is that God is going to bring to an end the lifestyle based on materialism and consumerism. The rulers of the earth will weep and mourn as they watch the life of luxury disappear.

The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes any more (Rev 18:11).
God’s judgment will destroy the consumer lifestyle that has been so popular in many parts of the world. People will have no choice, but will be forced into a simpler lifestyle. Suburbia will change from a refuge into a prison.

Forced change is always unpleasant. In a crisis, authority flows to those who are prepared. Christians, who change their lifestyle now in response to the leading of the Holy Sprit, will be better placed to cope and lead, when the whole world is being forced to change.

The best way to prepare for global climate change is to learn to live the lifestyle described by Paul.
I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want (Phil 4:11,12).
If we can learn to be content in a world that is obsessed with plenty, we will continue to be content in a world that is being forced into a different lifestyle.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Climate Change (18) - What Must We Do?

Well, there is one thing we must not do. Looking to governments to solve the eliminate climate change is a mistake. The will have a good go at building a tower of Babel, but will fail in their objectives. A core purpose of the book of Revelation is to condemn the increasing the power of the state. Therefore, trusting government organisations or international organisations to deal with global climate change is just swapping one sin for another.

The biblical response to judgment is repentance. The Christian response to a warning of judgement should be a change of lifestyle. If we have joined in the binge of consumption that has swept the western world, we need to change to a simpler lifestyle. In every aspect of the way we live, we should start acting as good stewards of the earth that God has entrusted to us. That will change many of the decisions we make about what we use and consume.

For example, Christians have debated the issue of what vehicle Jesus would drive. This is the wrong question. We should be asking what will advance the Kingdom of God. “Do I need a motor vehicle to advance the kingdom of God?” “Do I need and SUV to advance the Kingdom of God or to steward the part of the earth for which I am responsible” “Do I need a V8 grunter to advance the Kingdom of God?"

I can’t say how other people need to change their lifestyle. I do know that the Holy Spirit is constantly showing me how I need to change the way I live.

In the end, it does not matter whether our materialism is the causing global warming or not. It is still idolatry, and we still need to repent of all sin.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Climate Change (17) - Christians Joined the Party

Consumerism is a natural response for those who have no God. The strange thing is that Christians have joined the party with almost as much zeal. In terms of possessions and consumer behaviour, Christians in the west are almost indistinguishable from those who have no faith in God. Maybe this is partly the consequence of the lukewarmness described towards the beginning of the book of Revelation.

I suspect that a “Jesus-is coming-at-any-moment theology” has also sucked Christians into a negative attitude towards this earth. We have become so obsessed with heaven and escape from this world, that we have forgotten that God might have a longer term purpose for this earth. As we have lost the vision for the Kingdom of God, we have also forgotten our responsibility to be stewards of God’s earth.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Climate Change (16) - Live for Now

When people turn away from God, they start to live for the present. Without God, the eternal dimension to life disappears and people focus on what they can get now. This is one reason why the modern world is so obsessed with consuming more and more stuff. Paul made this clear when writing about life after death.

If the dead are not raised,
“Let us eat and drink,
for tomorrow we die (1 Cor 15:32).
Putting it another way, if there is no God, the future is uncertain, so we might as well party now. The modern world understands Paul’s message very well. It has got on with eating and drinking and consuming as if there were no tomorrow. To sustain these high levels of consumption, we have used up more than half of the oil in the world in less than a century. Very little thought has been given to leaving an inheritance to our children.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Climate Change (15) - Caused by Disobedience

What human disobedience causes God to allow a judgment that does so much harm to the earth? The events described in Revelation are caused by three main sins. Firstly, the church is lukewarm and lacking in zeal (Rev 2,3). This translates into a variety of false religions and idolatry. Secondly, human rebellion manifests itself through enormous growth in political power. The people of the world reject the kingdom of God and choose to build the kingdom of man. The kingdom of man eventually morphs into a world empire.

The third area of disobedience that brings the judgment described in Revelation is a lifestyle that uses the earth that God placed in our care as a tool for human pleasure. God gave us dominion over the earth, so we could work with him to establish and expand his kingdom throughout this earth. Instead of accepting this challenge, we have used the earth for human plans and pleasure.

The events described in the book of Revelation happen during a time when consumerism is rampant and global trade is important to sustain it. Here is a paraphrase of parts of Revelation 18.

The people glorified themselves and lived luxuriously. The merchants of the earth became rich through the abundance of their comfort. They produced consumer goods that you would not dream about: gold and silver, designer jewellery, stylish clothing, delicate and delicious foods, fashionable furniture, trendy electronics, opulent cars, magnificent SUVs, air travel, exclusive holidays. Some merchants even trafficked in human lives.

People are dressed in the latest fashions and adorned with the finest jewellery. They dine in delicate and delectable luxury.
This passage is a good description of life in our part of the world over the past century. This lifestyle was not part of God’s plan, but is the outworking of life without him.

Materialism and consumerism are the sins that bring the judgment of global climate change to the earth. In a sense the meteorologists are right in saying that human lifestyles have had a negative effect on the world that God has entrusted to us. Their only mistake is in not tracing this behaviour back to rejection of God.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Climate Change (14) - Who is Responsible

I have shown that global climate change was prophesied in the book of Revelation. This will lead some readers to conclude that they are not responsible and do not need to worry about the problem. However, the fact that global climate change fits with of God’s purposes on earth does not absolve us for from responsibility. The opposite is true. The book of Revelation describes global climate change as a judgment upon human action. Climate change is not part of God’s perfect plan; it is his response to irresponsible human behaviour on earth.

God created mankind to be steward over this earth, after saying:

Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth (Gen 1:28).
Humans are responsible for everything that goes wrong on this earth, so we are responsible for global climate change. We have either caused it directly by our behaviour on earth, or God has to allow it as a judgment to turn us back to his ways. Either way we are responsible.

I am not certain of the direct cause of global warming. It might be our cars, it might be volcanoes, or changing weather patterns, or it might be the work of the evil one. It does not really matter which. God gave us responsibility for the earth, so we are responsible for what happens here.

When God brings judgment on human action, he generally does not need to initiate the judgement. Usually the judgment is just the natural outworking of wrong choices and actions. The reality is that when we reject God’s way, things go wrong. I suspect that global climate change is the natural consequence of human disobedience to God.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Climate Change (13) - Unknown Israelites

Israel in Revelation 7 is not just the nation of Israel, as it exists today. The Jews living in modern Israel are mostly descendants of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, who made up the southern Kingdom that emerged after Israel was split between Solomon’s two sons. Jeroboam ruled the northern half of the Kingdom and Rehoboam ruled the southern half of the Kingdom called Judah (1 Kings 12).

The people of the Northern Kingdom were sent into exile by the king of Assyria. They were replaced by people from Assyria and never returned to their home in Israel (1 Kings 17:23,24). The people of the southern kingdom were exiled to Babylon many years later. However, they returned to the promised land in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. The Jews living in Israel today are mostly descendants of the people who returned from exile in Babylon. However, because records have been lost over time, they are not able to trace their genealogies back to those who returned from Babylon.

The consequence of these events is that many descendants of the other tribes of Israel are scattered throughout the earth, not even knowing that they are descendants of Israel. Some of these live in the Middle East, but many are in other parts of the world. When God pours out his Spirit on all of Israel, these people will come to faith in Christ. Many will want to return to Israel when that happens. A remnant may already have come to know him.

Recently something strange has happened all over the world. A few Christians have become really passionate about the nation of Israel. Some are almost obsessive about this issue. I believe that many of these people are actually descendants of one of the twelve tribes of Israel, without knowing it. (Gene is probably one?) They have already been sealed by the holy angel, who is sealing the 144,000. The stirring up or their love for Israel is the consequence and proof of this sealing.

If this interpretation is correct, then the angel holding the seal of God has already gone forward into the earth (Rev 7:3). I am not sure if he has completed marking all of those from the twelve tribes of Israel who will come to faith in Jesus. He could have completed the task, even if most of those who have been sealed do not understand it. This means that the time for releasing the four angels with power to harm the earth might be close, or already have arrived. The global climate change that John warned about may have already begun.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Climate Change (12) - Sealing of Israel

The second indication of the timing of the four angels that affect global weather patterns is in Rev 7:3.

Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.
This is a clear promise that God will not allow these things to happen until he has sealed the foreheads of the servants of God. Conversely the sealing of the servants is a sign that dramatic climate change is close, so we need to understand the meaning of this event.

John was told the identity and number of the servants who were sealed.
Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.
From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed,
from the tribe of Reuben 12,000,
from the tribe of Gad 12,000
…….. (Rev 7:4-8).
John saw 12,000 people from each of the twelve tribes of Israel being sealed by the angel. The number 12,000 should not be taken literally. Twelve is a number symbolising Israel. One thousand is number symbolising completeness. The sealing of the 144,000 points to a time when all the children of Israel return to peace with God through faith in Jesus, as prophesied by Paul.
I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved (Rom 11:25,26).
God will pour out his Spirit on the earth and most of the children of Israel will come to salvation. This will bring great blessing to the earth.

A seal marks ownership and protects the contents. Sealing of the children of Israel does not mean that they immediately come to faith in Jesus. It just means that God has put a wall of protection around them, so that they will not come to harm. The sealing means that the Holy Sprit is at work in their lives. It also means that he has begun to draw them to Jesus.

A person can only be sealed if they are alive. This means that the descendents of Israel who will come to faith in Jesus must be living on earth before the time when the four angels of global warming begin to strike the earth.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Climate Change (11) - When?

<The first four trumpets in Revelation 8 parallel the four angels with power to harm the land in sea described in Revelation 7. Together they describe the catastrophic effect of global climate change. The next important question is when these things happen.

We need to be clear about one issue. Global warming is not a sign of the second coming. The book of revelation is not a book of signs for the second coming. The book is a description of the rise and fall human kingdoms and the advance of the Kingdom of God. A key step towards the Kingdom of God is the Calling of the Jews. This is the next major event in human history. The release of the four angels is a sign that the Calling of the Jews is near. It is not a sign of the second coming.

There are two indications of when these things will take place. Firstly, the seven trumpets are listed after the seven seals. The two series of events are not necessarily sequential. The seven trumpets may start before the seven seals are complete, but the trumpets cannot not start sounding before at least some of the seven seals have been opened.

I believe that we have already seen the first two of the seven seals opened: Islamic revival and ethnic wars. We may be close to the third seal: economic crisis. As we progress through the seven seals, the first of the seven trumpets will sound. This indicates that the time for angels of global climate change is getting close.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Climate Change (10) - Governments and Councils

The fourth trumpet affects the sun, the moon and the stars.

The fourth angel sounded his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of them turned dark. A third of the day was without light, and also a third of the night (Rev 8:12).
This is another change from the atmosphere. However John is not referring to a literal darkening of the sun, moon and stars. For the Old Testament prophets, the heavenly bodies represent kings and political rulers. The sun and moon being darkened symbolised the collapse of a king or emperor. One example is in Ezekiel 32:7,

When I snuff you out, I will cover the heavens and darken their stars; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon will not give its light.
Ezekiel is speaking about the defeat of Egypt by Babylon. His words give a graphic description of the collapse of Egypt before a greater power. They were not fulfilled literally, but in a prophetic sense they were fulfilled.

The fourth trumpet is a warning that global warming will cause enormous problems for political rulers. Some kings and governments will collapse under stresses that overwhelm them. All the stars will be turned to darkness at the same time. This suggests that all the local government will also be seriously affected by global climate change. City, county and regional councils will struggle to deal with the problems caused by changes in global weather patterns. National and local politicians who have been elected because they promised to solve all problems will prove to be powerless.

This full series can be found here.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Climate Change (9) - Rivers and Springs

When the third trumpets sounds the rivers and springs will be affected.

The third angel sounded his trumpet, and a great star, blazing like a torch, fell from the sky on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water— the name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters turned bitter, and many people died from the waters that had become bitter (Rev 8:10,11).
A blazing star falls from the sky onto the rivers and springs. This problem, like the weather, came out of the atmosphere. Blazing like a torch suggests excessive heat, which points to global warming. This change from the atmosphere causes much of the water on earth to be undrinkable.

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Battle of Passchendaele

The battle of Passchendaele, one of the bloodiest battles in World War 1 began ninety years ago. In the second assault on 12 October 1917, 845 New Zealanders were killed, many were missing and hundreds died later from their wound’s. More than 2000 New Zealanders died in the two assaults.

The battle was a total failure. The troops were bombarded by their own artillery before they attacked. The planned artillery barrage failed to cut a path through the barbed wire. Enemy machine guns placed on the high ground slaughtered the soldiers as they advanced through the mud and the rain. The attack was a shambles that turned into a total disaster.

Memorial services are currently being held at the cemeteries near Passchendaele. I do not understand why the politicians and generals always turn up for these events. The entire First World War was a betrayal of ordinary people by their political leaders. The young men who died at Passchendaele were mostly volunteers. They had volunteered because their leaders had persuaded them that they were serving their God and their country. Well, God has no interest in this war. And our country did not benefit either. No country benefited from the First World War. The entire war was a competition between the political leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Britain to see who has the biggest ego. The American politicians joined in at the to prove that their ego was bigger still.

The politicians always try to put a good spin on the war by saying that those who died are heroes. If dying bravely on the other side of the world in a pointless war makes you a hero, I suppose they were. However they were heroes that died for nothing; not for God, not for their country, not even for their comrades. These heroes were really fools because they trusted the lies of their political leaders. Passchendaele is proof of the infallibility of the politicians.

Then there were the generals. Their decisions during the First World War were abysmal. They wasted the lives of thousands, maybe millions, of soldiers. At Passchendaele, soldiers were made to climb up out of their trenches through the mud and the rain straight into the teeth of enemy machine guns. Over an over again the generals decided on assaults that were doomed to fail. The waste of lives was enormous.

Now the general turn up at Passchendaele and bask in the glory of those they call heroes. They might have been heroes, but they were also fools to have trusted in such foolish and incompetent leaders.

I can never understand why we need to celebrate these events. I am embarrassed that so many lives were wasted in such a foolish war. Why do we have this need to put a positive spin on an event that was shameful in every way? Why do we pretend that these men died for a noble cause? They actually died because political leaders got it wrong, as usual. There is nothing noble about being deceived by those you should not trust. Why do we have this need to pretend?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Climate Change (8) - Seas and Oceans

The second trumpet affects the sea.

The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed (Rev 8:8,9).
Something as large as a mountain signifies a really huge impact. This “something” is ablaze which suggests heat. This could be the impact of global climate change causing many fish to die. I am not sure of the significance of the ships being destroyed. It could refer to the fishing industry being severely damaged, or to ships being destroyed by more frequent severe storms.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Climate Change (7) - Vegetation

Each of the trumpets affects a different part of the creation. When the first angel sounds the trumpet, the trees and grass are affected.

The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down upon the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up (Rev 8:7).
This is not literal. Hail and fire are destructive. Blood symbolises death. This vision is a picture of events that bring destruction and harm to trees and the grass. Much of the vegetation on the earth is ruined by excessive heat and drought. The destruction comes from the atmosphere.

The harm is limited to one third, so the destruction is not total. God is merciful and does not let us experience all that we deserve. Even in the worst judgment, he sets limits, and though he humbles, he does not totally destroy.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Climate Change (6) - Angels and Trumpets

The seven angels are holding trumpets.

For the world, trumpets are a warning of judgment. Amos said that the trumpet would sound when disaster was coming (Amos 3:6). The angels will sound the trumpet when evil has increased upon the earth. This disobedience leads to disasters and troubles. As the trumpets are sounded judgement is released on the earth. Prophetic warnings turn disasters into judgments. (I am not aware of any modern prophet prophesying global warning).

For God’s people, trumpets are a call to action. During the Exodus, Moses used two silver trumpets to call the community together and when the camp marched out. After the Exodus, trumpets were used to call God’s people to action (Num 10:8,9). The trumpets of the seven angels are not a signal of trouble for God’s people, but a call for us to rise up and do his will.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Climate Change (5) - Prayer and Angels

The four angels are described more fully in Revelation 8:2-6.

And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets.

Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel's hand. Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake. Then the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to sound them.
This passage also contrasts the enormous difference in power between the angel of God and the angels of evil. John saw seven angels that would bring terrible troubles to the earth. The first four of these angels are those with power to bring the global climate change described in the previous chapter. However, none of these angels can act until they are released by the angel with the golden censor. God is always in control. Even evil angels cannot act without his permission.

We also see the authority of the saints. God’s angel contains a bowl of incense that represents the prayers of the saints. This angel can only act when the prayers of God’s people are complete. It is like all our prayers for the coming Kingdom of God are poured into a large bowl. They do not get presented to God until this bowl is full.

When the prayers of the saints are complete, the angel fills the censor with fire from the altar and throws fire down upon the earth. Fire is a symbol of judgment. The prayers of the saints release the angel who releases judgement upon the earth. Fire also symbolises heat. The fire being released on the earth is a warning that excessive heat will be released on the earth. God’s angel releases the angels that bring global warming.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Mourning and Disappointment

New Zealand is in mourning. This morning our rugby team, the All Blacks, got beaten by the French in the quarter final of the Rugby World Cup. And listening to the news media, you would think that the world had ended.

It has been a bad year. Beaten in the semi-final of the Cricket World Cup, and before that, beaten in the final of the Yachting Cup by the Swiss. Most people in the world do not care about these events, but the people of New Zealand have this curious obsession with winning international sporting events. For a nation of 4 million people this obsession is always bound to end in disappointment.

The world stage seems to be on our hearts, but for the wrong reason. What most people do not know is that God will use New Zealand to impact the world. In 1982 David Pawson shared this burden for our nation.

God wants New Zealand back.
He wants New Zealand back as
a nation that will be a model to the nations
of a people who are living under the government of GOD.
God intends New Zealand to be one of those nations
where he demonstrates his Kingdom.
This is goal more worthy than sporting success. This is how we will have an impact on the world stage. Until we seek God’s purpose for this nation, we will just have disappointment after disappointment.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Climate Change (4) - Four Angels

My search for references to climate change and global warming brought me to Revelation 7:1-3.

After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: "Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God."
The images in this passage were probably familiar to John’s listeners, but they are not part of our modern language. The “corners of the earth” is an expression describing the entire earth. The modern equivalent of the four corners is the word “global”

The four winds are a description of the “weather system”. Therefore the four winds from the corners of the earth represent the “global weather system”. John was describing changes in the global weather system. The actions of the four angels will bring about change that harms the land, the sea and the trees. A change in global weather patterns would bring about such far reaching effect.

The four angels have evil intent, but they are not fullly free. They cannot act until they are released by another angel, the one carrying the seal of God. This is important. Four evil angels are no match for one of God’s angels. Although these evil angels will eventually accomplish the harm they have been sent to do, they cannot act until God allows them to move. God is still in control and he will use what they intended for harm to accomplish his purposes. We should not fear these four angels, because God will turn their harm into good for his people.

John’s vision describes global climate change that will harm the earth, the trees and the sea.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Climate Change (3) - Human Capability

God is the creator of the earth and the weather system. He designed a weather system that is sufficiently robust to accomplish his purposes on the earth. The belief that mankind can destroy what God has accomplished is quite arrogant. So if global warming has occurred, I am more inclined to believe that this is part of God’s plan and purpose than just the unexpected result of human activities. Rather than searching through the bowels of computer programs, we should dig into God’s word to find the answers.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Climate Change (2) - Computer Models

The global weather system is incredibly complex. Scientists build computer models that attempt to represent the weather system, but these models by definition must be simplifications of reality.

I do not understand these models of the global weather system, but I am familiar with the computer models developed by economists to represent the economy of a nation. These economic modellers face the same problems as meteorologists. The economic behaviour of people and businesses is so complex that they cannot be fully represented in a computer model. Numerous simplifying assumptions have to be applied to get a model simple enough for a computer can handle.

The consequence of this simplification is that the results produced by an economic model are partly determined by the set of assumptions chosen. A different set of assumptions will produce a different set of results. This leaves the modeller in a position where they determine the results that there computer model produces. This is not very satisfactory for reaching the truth about the functioning of the economic systems.

Differing assumptions are one reason why economists frequently disagree with each other. They reach different conclusions by starting from a different place. This is also the reason why the predictions of economists are so often wrong. A factor that that is left out, or incorrectly specified in the model can have a greater effect than expected, causing some of the predictions of the model to be incorrect.

I am sure that the scientists attempting to model the global weather system face exactly the same problems. The results predicted by their models will vary according to the assumptions built into their models. The global weather system is far more complex that even the most complex economy, so their task is even hard. Most people understand that the predictions of economists are usually wrong. We should apply the same level of caution to the global predictions of the meteorologists.

Measuring the change in global temperatures is difficult enough. Determining the cause of changes is virtually impossible. Deciding what actions would reverse the change in temperature is well behond limited human capability.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Climate Change (1)

Serious floods and storms are being blamed on climate change or global warming. The evidence that the earth is warming now seems to be quite strong. Records show that average temperatures were rising through most of the twentieth century. However, the cause of this rise in temperature is more difficult to be ascertain.

Many scientists argue that the warming is the result of human activity. They identify carbon emissions from motor vehicles and industrial activity as the cause. Others claim that the current warming is part of the normal warming and cooling that always occurs on planet earth. Getting an answer from science will be extremely difficult.

In the next few posts I will see if we can get a clearer answer from the scriputures. The full series can be found here

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Over half of all the oil in the world has been used up in less than a century. This natural resource has been used up at an amazing speed with little thought for the future. And it has been sold amazingly cheaply. I am always amazed that a litre of petrol is still cheaper than a litre of bottled water.

I wonder if part of the reason is that most of the oil fields in the world are effectively owned by the state. Politicians have very short time horizons. They only look as far as the next election. Dictators only look to the end of their reign. Therefore, politicians want to see as much oil pumped as soon as quickly as possible. They have not interest in conserving their asset for later generations.

Maybe it would have been different if the oil fields were owned by families. I suspect that they want to keep more of their oil as an asset for their familes future. Maybe the price of oil would have been higher and this resource not used so quickly, if it were not in the hands of politicians.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Babel State

Gen 11:4 describes the thinking behind the Tower of Babel.

Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth."
At first glance this seems like a statement of the “general will”, as per Rousseau. The reality was probably different. No doubt a few powerful leaders said, “Let us build ourselves a tower that reaches to the heavens”. Most of the people would sucked in to go along. Many would have had to work as slaves on the project, as that is the only way it could have been built.

The Tower of Babel is a probably the first example of a grandiose state. A few people have a “big idea”, and the rest of the population were conned or forced into making it happen.