Thursday, May 24, 2007



1-WORLD QUAKES LAST 2 DAYS. 2-Offshore oil and hurricanes: Deeper may mean riskier. 3-Two-speed Europe would solve constitution deadlock, Prodi says. 4-European Union Calls for Calm in Lebanon. 5-Fatah Al-Islam Explained. 6-Navy Stages Show of Force Off Iran Coast. 7-A Remarkable 40th Anniversary


MATTHEW 24:7-8
7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.

MARK 13:8
8 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom:(ETHNIC GROUP AGAINST ETHNIC GROUP) and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows.

LUKE 21:11
11 And great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven.


Update time = Thu May 24 10:00 PM EDT

MAY 24,07

MAY 23,07


LUKE 21:25-26
25 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;(MASS CONFUSION) the sea and the waves roaring;(FIERCE WINDS)
26 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.

Offshore oil and hurricanes: Deeper may mean riskier By Bruce Nichols
Wed May 23, 11:50 AM ET

HOUSTON (Reuters) - As oil companies working in the Gulf of Mexico prepare for an active hurricane season, experts say more drilling in deeper waters farther out to sea has made the United States more vulnerable to energy disruptions. Forecasters have predicted that as many as 17 named storms, five of which could be major hurricanes, will form this season in the Atlantic Basin, which includes the gulf. The season starts June 1 and runs through November 30.

Companies have shored up offshore rigs with additional mooring lines and higher decks and added sophisticated equipment to monitor operations during storms and immediately afterward.But experts say the quest for oil and natural gas in deeper waters has put more drilling rigs, producing platforms and pipelines in the path of storms intensified by the warm loop current in the middle of the Gulf.

The theory is that storms get over the warmer loop current and intensify -- not all of them, but some, said Andy Radford of the American Petroleum Institute. The problem is, as we have gone deeper into the Gulf, we're getting farther offshore, and we're feeling the effects.The Gulf of Mexico is the source of 30 percent of U.S. domestic oil production and 20 percent of its natural gas output. Refineries supplying the nation with fuel dot the Gulf Coast. Gas pipelines run from the Gulf across the country.

Seventy percent of the gulf's oil and 40 percent of its gas come from waters deeper than 1,000 feet, even though 1 percent of the 3,800 platforms are there, the U.S. Minerals Management Service says.

Thus, storm damage to one has a big impact.

In 2005, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita knocked out a quarter of U.S. crude and fuel production, toppling offshore platforms, destroying undersea pipelines, flooding coastal refineries and sending energy prices to then-record highs.This year, refining and pipeline companies have stocked up on generators, food and trailers to keep operations running in the event of a major storm.Offshore operators have increased the number of mooring lines on most mobile drilling rigs from eight to 12 to keep them from breaking free during a storm.Jackup rigs -- which float out, lower legs and stand on the bottom to drill -- are setting decks higher to avoid storm waves. And better planning is expected to keep them out of undersea mudslide areas and minimize risks to pipelines.


The first named storm of 2006, Andrea, formed in May, before the start of the season, boosting companies' concern.Having already seen a storm, they're working frantically to make sure everything is ready, BP Plc spokesman Neil Chapman said.Officials have put particular emphasis on keeping oil and gas flowing by using backup pipeline routes and barges or ships to move oil if pipelines break.

We're working with other operators to come up with options for flow assurance, said Shell spokesman Fred Palmer.To improve future preparedness, companies have installed more data-gathering equipment on rigs and platforms.When we see the next big storm, we'll have more data and will probably make more refinements to our standards, said API's Radford.

Meanwhile, the hope is to avoid the record disruptions of 2005, a season in which Katrina killed at least 1,300 people and did an estimated $81 billion in damage, a U.S. record. We feel pretty confident at this point, but you never know what could happen, said Bill Holbrook, spokesman for the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association.

Two-speed Europe would solve constitution deadlock, Prodi says
22.05.2007 - 17:43 CET | By Renata Goldirova

EUOBSERVER / STRASBOURG – In the run up to the decisive EU summit on finding a way out of the constitutional impasse, the pro-European camp has started to sound the drum, with Italy's prime minister calling to preserve as much as possible of the draft EU treaty. In the last two years, almost only eurosceptic views have been listened to. It is time to listen to those who ratified the 2004 treaty, Italian prime minister Romano Prodi told MEPs in Strasbourg on Tuesday (22 May). Mr Prodi –
claiming to speak on behalf of 18 EU states which have largely ratified the original text – rejected radical changes to the foreseen institutional reforms. He listed the EU foreign minister, a lengthier presidency, the extension of qualified majority voting, the union's legal personality and the abolition of its three-pillar structure as elements which must be preserved.If the compromise does not convince
us, we will not sign it, he warned, clearly stating that a multi-speed Europe could bring about the long-sought breakthrough on the controversial issue.

At this point, a vanguard of countries could…be the best way to proceed towards a more integrated union, on condition that door remains always open to those countries willing to join later, he said.

Referring to sceptical EU governments in Warsaw, London and The Hague which want the new text to be scaled down considerably - the former European Commission president added that he hoped this approach would overcome any temptation of veto.Going on to talk about the 21-22 June summit, the Italian politician said that EU leaders should agree a precise and selective mandate for the intergovernmental conference (IGC) that is supposed to hammer out the treaty in the second half of this year. If the negotiation terms for the IGC are too wide, he warned, there is unlikely to be an agreement within the strict timetable envisaged by the German EU presidency. With an open mandate, the conference can be hardly closed by late 2007, and the time necessary to pass the new agreement at national level would make it impossible to complete the process by early 2009, he said.

MEPs' red lines

Meanwhile, members of the European Parliament have also laid down their red lines, saying they will reject any outcome of the negotiations, which – if compared to the constitutional treaty – would lead to a diminution of the protection of the rights of citizens…as well as less democracy, transparency and efficiency in the functioning of the union.According to German conservative MEP Elmar Brok and Spanish socialist MEP Enrique Baron Crespo – both in charge of the constitutional dossier in the run up to the EU summit in June – the European Charter of Fundamental Rights, the legal personality for the bloc and a greater EU role in foreign policy are non-negotiable and must remain part of the compromise treaty.

The referendum should not be used as blackmail, Mr Brok said, referring to the UK's opposition to the rights charter, with London sometimes accused of hanging a Damocles sword over the rest of the EU by saying that a treaty that has too many elements will have to be put to a referendum - unlikely to be passed a sceptical British population.

A similar warning was issued to Warsaw which opposes the new system of voting in the rejected constitution. The word veto is not part of the treaty. We must negotiate in the best will, not use threats, said Mr Baron Crespo.

At the same time, MEPs hinted that Poland's hardline approach on the EU decision-making mechanism could come at a price, affecting Warsaw's call for an energy solidarity clause to be included in the constitution.Mr Crespo also suggested Warsaw focuses on the so-called Ioannina clause, a compromise adopted in the mid-1990s which suggests that if a decision is only narrowly reached by member states and others remain strongly opposed then the issue will continue to be discussed to try and find a compromise solution.This could be a way forward for Poland, he said.

European Union Calls for Calm in Lebanon
Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: MAY 23,07

Palestinians are protesting against the Lebanese army's action The EU's foreign policy chief has visited Lebanon, expressing his support for the government. Javier Solana said the EU wanted to help establish a political dialogue for the country once the bloodshed is halted.

In the latest international call for restraint from all sides in Lebanon, the European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, has appealed for a halt to the bloodshed.I am hoping very much for calm, Solana told a press conference after meeting Lebanon's Prime Minister Fuad Siniora late Tuesday in Beirut. He said political dialogue was necessary to solve the crisis.This is the only solution, Solana said.The Lebanese army had been locked in fierce fighting with extremists in the north since Sunday. But both sides agreed on a truce on Tuesday.

Solana defends Lebanese government's action

Solana said the fighting only involved some hundred extremists.Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Thousands of Palestinians are fleeing from the troubled region in the north. I don't think that there would be any difficulties from a military point of view for the Lebanese armed forces to control the situation, Solana said. He defended the military campaign and said the government was fighting a terrorist group. Yet he called on the Lebanese army to respect the safety of civilians. We hope that the actions of the army will be in conformity with the values and high standards of protecting civilians, Solana said.

EU to help Lebanon tackle the crisis

The EU official's visit, part of a regional tour, was meant to show support for the western-backed Siniora and his government, which have been locked in a months-long dispute with the Syrian-backed opposition.Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Solana says Lebanon can count on the EU's support Earlier, Solana had said the European Union wanted to help Lebanon resolve the crisis and tackle its economic woes once the bloodshed is halted.

We want to help calm the situation and see if its possible to move in establishing a political dialogue, he told reporters in Israel, the first stop of his tour.The visit comes as the UN Security Council works to impose the establishment of an international court to try suspects in the 2005 murder of former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri. A draft resolution has been circulated at the request of the Western-backed government despite resistance from the opposition.Solana continued to Cairo on Wednesday. After visiting Egypt, he will go to the Gaza Strip and then wind up his mission by returning to Israel.

Fatah Al-Islam Explained (By Ayman El-Masry) Wednesday , 23 May 2007

BEIRUT — The previously little known Fatah Al-Islam, a militant group battling the Lebanese army, is different from all other groups based in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. Unlike Palestinian groups it comprises a throng of wanted Syrian, Lebanese and people from the Gulf, a well-kept Palestinian figure in Lebanon told, requesting anonymity. Fatah al-Islam announced its creation last November after breaking away from Fatah Al-Intifada, a splinter group of the mainstream Fatah movement.In its foundation statement, it introduced itself as an Islamic group seeking to liberate Palestine and restore Muslim sanctities captured by Israel.Fatah al-Islam said it would fight Israelis and their supporters.

Experts believe the group is ideologically but not operationally linked to Al-Qaeda and is played by Lebanese and Arab parties to achieve political gains.Its leader Shaker Abssi, a Palestinian born in Areha in 1955, is a former colonel pilot.He joined Fatah Al-Intifada in Libya after its defection from the umbrella Fatah movement in 1983.He then moved to Damascus where he became close to Fatah Al-Intifada's no. 2 Abu Khaled Al-Omla.

Syrian authorities arrested Abssi in 2000 and sentenced him to three years in prison on charges of smuggling weapons, ammunition to Jordan and vice versa.No sooner had he been released than he went to Iraq following the US-led invasion.In Iraq, Abssi fought along with groups loyal to Al-Qaeda and made friends with a number of Al-Qaeda leaders there.He later returned to Syria where he once again hocked up with Omla who helped him relocate to Lebanon and set himself up in the headquarters of Fatah Al-Intifada in the village of Helwa, the Western Beqaa.


Abssi went to Lebanon in 2005 with a group of youths he met in Iraq and stayed there around a year before getting into trouble with the Lebanese army in May 2006.An armed clash with Lebanese soldiers and Abssi's small group in Western Beqaa led to the killing of one young Syrian wanted by Damascus for fighting in Iraq.Syrian intelligence services smelled a rat and summoned Omla to ask him about the nature of this small group led by Abssi.

The investigation unmasked the close coordination between Omla and Abssi which were kept from the pro-Damascus Secretary General of Fatah Al-Intifada, Abu Moussa, and consequently the Syrian authorities.Omla then ordered Abssi to leave the Western Beqaa, which is close to the borders with Syria, and head for refugee camps in northern Lebanon.In November 2006, the security committee in Al-Badawi refugee camp handed over two of Abssi's small group to the Lebanese military intelligence. Palestinian groups handle security inside the 12 refugees camps across Lebanon, where the country's over-stretched army of 40,000 may not enter under a 1969 Arab accord.An infuriated Abssi immediately decided to break up with Fatah Al-Intifada and establish his own Fatah Al-Islam group.

Al-Qaeda Ideology

The new splinter group seized the locations of Fatah Al-Intifada in Nahr Al-Bared camp.It attracted Lebanese and people from the Gulf who subscribe to Al-Qaeda ideologies.The Palestinian sources said Fatah Al-Islam is morally and financially supported by Jihadist groups in Lebanon.Experts agree that the group has no organizational link to Al-Qaeda but share its takfiri (calling others unbelievers)
and violent mindset.The group's members believe, for instance, that parliamentary or government work is unlawful under Islam.They rapped the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas for signing the Makkah agreement with Fatah last February, accusing Hamas of making concessions on Palestinian rights.The group further sent some of its fighters to Iraq to help establish the self-declared Islamic Republic of Iraq.Abssi has denied any organizational links to Al-Qaeda but recognized that both groups share the aim of fighting infidels.Abssi was sentenced to death in Jordan for killing a US diplomat in 2002.The slain leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, received a similar sentence for the same crime.


Experts believe that Fatah Al-Islam is nonetheless penetrated by Lebanese and Arab parties that use it as a front to achieve political gains.The Palestinian politician, who requested anonymity, said the Future movement of MP Saad Al-Hariri had tried in vain to buy the loyalty of the group in its power struggle with Shiite Hizbullah.But the director of the Lebanese Center for Information, Ahmed Al-Ayoubi, believes that a major section of Fatah Al-Islam is directed by the Syrian regime.The Syrian strategy to face UN Security Council Resolution 1701 is based either on provoking a Hizbullah-UNIFIL conflict, which is an unlikely scenario, or pitting an armed group against UNIFIEL troops or the Lebanese army, he told IOL.Ayoubi insists that the group picked Nahr Al-Bared camp as a stronghold because the coastal camp, according to him, is a haven for pro-Syria groups.Lebanese authorities have accused Fatah al-Islam of working for the Syrian intelligence services.

It said four Syrian members of Fatah Al-Islam confessed to bombing two buses in February in a Christian area near Beirut.The group had denied any involvement in the bombings and accused the government of framing it to justify a crackdown on Palestinian camps.Syria, which withdrew its troops from Lebanon in 2005 after an outcry over the assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri, has denied any links with Fatah Al-Islam.By Ayman El-Masry May 23, 2007 Islam Online

Navy Stages Show of Force Off Iran Coast
May 23, 10:31 AM (ET) By BARBARA SURK

(AP) This image provided by the US Navy shows (from top to bottom) the USS Nimitz (CVN 68), the USS..DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - The U.S. Navy staged its latest show of military force off the Iranian coastline on Wednesday, sending two aircraft carriers and landing ships packed with 17,000 U.S. Marines and sailors to carry out unannounced exercises in the Persian Gulf.

The carrier strike groups led by the USS John C. Stennis and USS Nimitz were joined by the amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard and its own strike group, which includes landing ships carrying members of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit.The Navy said nine U.S. warships passed through the narrow Strait of Hormuz on Wednesday. Merchant ships passing through the busy strait carry two-fifths of the world's oil exports.

Aircraft aboard the three carriers and the Bonhomme Richard were to conduct air training while the ships ran submarine, mine and other exercises.The maneuvers came just two months after a previous exercise in March when two U.S. carrier groups carried out two days of air and sea maneuvers off the Iranian coast.

Before the arrival of the Bonhomme Richard strike group, the Navy maintained around 20,000 U.S personnel at sea in the Gulf and neighboring waters.U.S. warships have frequently collided with merchant ships in the busy shipping lanes of the Gulf.

A Remarkable 40th Anniversary - By Gary Stearman MAY 24,07

On June 5, 1967, Israel entered perhaps the most significant war in its modern history. Egypt, Syria and other Arab countries were poised to attack. Israel pre-empted their move and won the day, capturing the Golan Heights, Gaza and all of Israel west of the Jordan. Israeli soldiers stood on the Holy Mountain. At this historic moment, Israel was charged with a great responsibility. Their miraculous victory gave them a sacred trust, in effect, a trial to determine whether they could keep that which the Lord had given them.Now, as we draw near the fortieth year of this great experiment, we watch an Israel that totters on the brink of catastrophe, surrounded by voracious predators who believe that Israel is within their grasp. It is no secret that their enemies' long-held wish is to bring Israel and the Jews to extinction. As we watch in suspense, we ask, Will Israel pass the test? In the Bible, the number forty carries a strong complex of meanings, both negative and positive.

Symbolically, it marks a period of immersion into the fast-flowing stream of God's will. When we compare the many instances of this span, we find that they offer us a strong interpretive tool in the study of prophecy.When forty occurs in connection with individuals, groups or nations, it suggests a time of testing. It also carries the idea of probation … a supervised period, during which the object of God's will is allowed to demonstrate spiritual maturity.For the past forty years -- since Israel's miraculous victory in the Six-Day War -- Christians have watched Israel with a mixture of hope, expectancy, curiosity and disappointment. We have witnessed victories, defeats, assassinations and spiritual milestones. Most of all, we have seen the building scenario that is quickly thrusting us into the end-time era so clearly expounded by the ancient prophets.

The view of modern Israel as God's prophetic timepiece is well understood by Christians who observe events in the Middle East through the lens of dispensational interpretation. Israel is now moving through a series of actions on a timetable that will lead it to a series of cataclysmic events, each of which is designed to restore the broken world system and place Israel at the head of the nations.Israel watchers are about to experience a most interesting confluence of dates, all clustered about this amazing number. At this time of the year, we have just passed through the spring festivals of the Jews … Passover, Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits. Now, in the month of May, Pentecost arrives, with its promise of spiritual renewal. The feasts commemorate transactions between God and Israel. Each of them is freighted with meaning.It is forty years since Israelis stood victorious upon their Temple Mount. Since we have arrived at such a significant epoch, it is well worthwhile to revisit the significance of the number forty.

Bullinger Defines Forty

In 1894, E. W. Bullinger wrote a groundbreaking book, entitled Number in Scripture. This book documents the statistical connection between biblical events and any numerical contexts that may appear with them. Concerning the number forty, he writes: Forty has long been universally recognized as an important number, both on account of the frequency of its occurrence, and the uniformity of its association with the period of probation, trial, and chastisement – (not judgment, like the number 9, which stands in connection with the punishment of enemies, but the chastisement of sons, and of a covenant people). It is the product of 5 and 8, and points to the action of grace (5), leading to and ending in revival and renewal (8). This is certainly the case where forty relates to a period of evident probation. But where it relates to enlarged dominion, or to renewed or extended rule, then it does so in virtue of its factors 4 and 10, and in harmony with their signification [p. 266].Four, the number of the kingdom and ten, the number of ordinal perfection, speak of the future period of Christ's rule on earth. Thanks to men like Bullinger and many who followed in his footsteps, it is common for us to look at forty as a period of testing that leads to failure. But many forget that in testing, there is grace.

An integral part of testing is renewal and enlargement. Thus, the final state of testing is the enhancement of the general spiritual condition. Notice, also, that Bullinger breaks the number forty down into the smaller numbers, which constitute its basic factors. He pioneered this method of analyzing Scripture and, to this day, it adds to the array of techniques that allow us to discern scriptural meaning. Before looking at the current example of forty, let us look at a few past illustrations.

Moses and the Great Test

At the top of Bullinger's list is the life of Moses. The last forty years of his life were spent guiding the twelve tribes through the wilderness. As he spoke to the people, he reminded them to remember the Law and the Lord's command to conquer Canaan. He also urged them to acknowledge all that the Lord had done for them. In so doing, he mentions the forty years and the fact that they were both a test and a blessing:All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers.

And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.

And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live.Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years.Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee (Deut. 8:1-5).

Here, Moses speaks to the new generation of the Lord's people near the end of their wilderness march. He reminds them of the forty-year challenge that God had laid before them, and that they are still to think of themselves as the inheritors of the Promised Land. He reminds them that God humbled them in order that they might examine themselves and confirm to themselves that their heart's motivation was pure.He repeats to them that which they already knew, that the Lord had fed them with heavenly food, in order that they might learn of His Word … more sustaining than mere physical food. And could it have been a surprise to them that even their clothing was preserved during the period of wandering? Finally, Moses reminds the people that the Lord chastens with love, as a Father chastens his son. In other words, testing is not designed to destroy the people, but strengthen them.
Forty years before, the generation that sinned heard quite a different message. Here, God speaks in judgment, promising death.

To them the forty years is a sentence, not a promise: Say unto them, As truly as I live, saith the LORD, as ye have spoken in mine ears, so will I do to you: Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me,Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun.But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised.But as for you, your carcases, they shall fall in this wilderness.And your children shall wander in the wilderness forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcases be wasted in the wilderness.After the number of the days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise.I the LORD have said, I will surely do it unto all this evil congregation, that are gathered together against me: in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die(Num. 14:28-35).Only a short while prior to this dark decree, twelve spies had been commissioned to investigate the Land, for the specific purpose of conquering it. As is well known, ten of them denied the possibility of defeating the Canaanites. Their faith was lost. Only Joshua and Caleb proclaimed that the Lord would bring them to their inheritance.

Significantly enough, the twelve scouted out the Land over a forty-day period! Once again, we see the solid and predictable biblical pattern. When the Lord commissions His people to accomplish something, forty is written upon their actions.

In this case, the spies' majority report was in the negative, ten to two. Doubting the Lord's power to bring them through, they failed the test. However, the two faithful men, Joshua and Caleb were rewarded and enlarged by their show of faith.Nor was this the only significant period of probation marked by forty days. Perhaps the most noteworthy example of this time span is found in the account of Moses' ascent into the smoke and fire of Mount Horeb. Twice, he climbed the mountain to receive the tables of the Law, each time for forty days.

Later, while recounting Israel's spiritual failures, Moses emphasizes the Lord's grace in not destroying the disobedient nation: Remember, and forget not, how thou provokedst the LORD thy God to wrath in the wilderness: from the day that thou didst depart out of the land of Egypt, until ye came unto this place, ye have been rebellious against the LORD (Deut. 9:7).Then, he recounts his two ascents of Horeb, both of which involved a forty-day period of time. Note in the following verses that Moses places himself in the narrative as an advocate for people gone tragically wrong.Also in Horeb ye provoked the LORD to wrath, so that the LORD was angry with you to have destroyed you.

When I was gone up into the mount to receive the tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant which the LORD made with you, then I abode in the mount forty days and forty nights, I neither did eat bread nor drink water:And the LORD delivered unto me two tables of stone written with the finger of God; and on them was written according to all the words, which the LORD spake with you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly.

And it came to pass at the end of forty days and forty nights, that the LORD gave me the two tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant.And the LORD said unto me, Arise, get thee down quickly from hence; for thy people which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt have corrupted themselves; they are quickly turned aside out of the way which I commanded them; they have made them a molten image.Furthermore the LORD spake unto me, saying, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people:Let me alone, that I may destroy them, and blot out their name from under heaven: and I will make of thee a nation mightier and greater than they (Deut. 9:8-14).

At this point, the account in Exodus 32 tells us that Moses argues Israel's case before the Lord, saying that the Egyptians would rejoice at a God who allowed Israel to escape from slavery, only to destroy them in the wilderness. Furthermore, he asks the Lord to remember His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that their seed would be multiplied, and that they would inherit the great land grant given to Israel.After that, Moses descended with the two tablets, only to smash them to pieces.So I turned and came down from the mount, and the mount burned with fire: and the two tables of the covenant were in my two hands.And I looked, and, behold, ye had sinned against the LORD your God, and had made you a molten calf: ye had turned aside quickly out of the way which the LORD had commanded you.And I took the two tables, and cast them out of my two hands, and brake them before your eyes (Deut. 9:15-17).

His action initiated yet another forty-day period, this time to fast and pray that the Israelites might be spared from absolute destruction.And I fell down before the LORD, as at the first, forty days and forty nights: I did neither eat bread, nor drink water, because of all your sins which ye sinned, in doing wickedly in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.For I was afraid of the anger and hot
displeasure, wherewith the LORD was wroth against you to destroy you. But the LORD hearkened unto me at that time also (Deut. 9:18,19).Lest we fail to make the point, Scripture pointedly repeats time and again the significance of the number forty. Rebellion and testing are specifically tied to it in a way that is unmistakable. God desires that His people be tested in order that they may prove themselves in the crucible of this world.Ye have been rebellious against the LORD from the day that I
knew you.

Thus I fell down before the LORD forty days and forty nights, as I fell down at the first; because the LORD had said he would destroy you.I prayed therefore unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, destroy not thy people and thine inheritance, which thou hast redeemed through thy greatness, which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand (Deut. 9:24-26).

Three Times Forty

Moses lived to be one hundred and twenty years of age, or three times forty. His life is an amazing illustration of the number forty, since it is divided into thirds, each of which involves a different test.

First, he was born in Egypt, under extraordinary circumstances -- a supreme test. Israel had fallen into slavery and Pharoah had ordered that all Israelite sons be killed at birth. In the famous narrative, Moses' parents placed him in a reed boat, where he providentially floated into the custody of Pharaoh's daughter. She raised him as her own.According to the history of Flavius Josephus, the royal household recognized the young Moses as an exceptional child, intelligent, athletic and handsome. As a young man, he demonstrated authority, and quickly rose to leadership in the Egyptian military. As it happened, the Ethiopians were regularly invading Egypt at the time. The Lord used these circumstances to bring Moses to the forefront.Josephus writes, The Egyptians, under this sad oppression, betook themselves to their oracles and prophecies: and when God had given them this counsel, to make use of Moses the Hebrew and take his assistance, the king commanded his daughter to produce him, that he might be the general of their army (Antiquities, II, x, 1).

General Moses led an avenging army into the land of the Ethiopians. There, he successfully led the Egyptian forces to victory. In the same campaign, the daughter of the Ethiopian monarch witnessed him in battle and was so impressed by his bearing that she fell in love with him. He returned a hero, who had developed valuable political liaisons with the Ethiopians. Still, because they discovered his Hebrew roots, the Egyptians feared and suspected him. Concerning this fact, Josephus writes, Now the Egyptians, after they had been preserved by Moses, entertained a hatred to him, and were very eager in compassing their designs against him, as suspecting that he would take occasion, from his good success to raise a sedition, and bring innovations into Egypt; and told the king he ought to be slain (Antiquities, II, xi, 1).Thus, in the opening segment of his life, Moses rose to prominence.

History shows that he was a rejected figure -- powerful, yet isolated and hated. It was under these circumstances that he slew the Egyptian slave-master whom he found cruelly abusing one of his Hebrew brethren. Here, his test was that of loyalty to his own people, rather than the wealth and power of the Egyptians.The second forty-year period of his life was spent in faraway Midian, where he was a shepherd in the desert country, today called Arabia. Now, he was truly isolated, but Divine Providence had sent him to the territory of the mountain of God, called Horeb. There, at the burning bush, he was commissioned by the Lord to return to Egypt. There, he would deliver his people from bondage.The third and final forty years of Moses' life brought him to leadership in the wilderness march with the twelve tribes of Israel. Though we don't often consider it, Moses became the subject of a great New Testament discourse.

Stephen's Sermon Upon Forty

Upon the occasion of his martyrdom, given in the book of Acts, Stephen gave one of the most powerful sermons in all history. The theme of his preaching was the repeated failure of the twelve tribes to obey God. He reviews their history from Abraham forward, recalling their pattern of repeated moral breakdowns. It is fascinating that he built the sermon around the number forty.In particular, he refers to the life of Moses, dividing it into three periods of forty years, each one featuring a specific test. There could not be a better illustration of how forty is used by the Lord as He deals with His chosen people. The first forty recalls the young Moses, leader of the people:And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel.And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian (Acts 7:22-24).

The climactic act of this first period was to avenge his enslaved people, even at the cost of losing his Egyptian wealth and power. As mentioned earlier, this was a test of loyalty that divided him from the royal house of Egypt. As Stephen relates the account, Moses is surprised to learn that even though he stood up for them, the Israelites still did not trust him. Without allies, he is forced to flee: For he
supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not.And the next day he shewed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another?

But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? Wilt thou kill me, as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday? Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Midian, where he begat two sons (Acts 7:25-29). In Midian, forty more years passed, where Moses lived as a simple shepherd, in the vicinity of Mt. Horeb, where the Law would soon be given. This, it turns out, was the location from which the Lord would speak to Moses on several occasions, beginning with the burning bush:And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sina an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush.

When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold it, the voice of the Lord came unto him (Acts 7:30, 31).

Now, the final forty-year period of Moses' life began with a test of faith that took him before Pharoah with a demand that has rung down through the ages as the rallying cry of the oppressed, Let my people go! After a slow start, Moses brought the ten plagues upon Egypt, and led the people into the wilderness:He brought them out, after that he had shewed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red sea, and in the wilderness forty years.This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear (Acts 7:36, 37) Stephen's powerful sermon is grounded in the principle that the Lord is patient and gracious concerning his people. Especially in the case of Moses, we find that not one, but three periods of forty years are laid out as an illustration of the way God plans key events. It is as natural as breathing to say that forty is the Lord's testing ground. Having used the life of Moses as the key element of his discourse, Stephen then mentions another forty-year period, this time quoting the prophet Amos:

Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness? (Acts 7:42).Amos was called to the dark task of calling down judgment upon Israel in the eighth century, B.C. Israel had fallen into the idolatry of astrology, worshipping the false gods of the heavens. He cites Israel's forty-year lapse as a test, which Israel had miserably failed.

From the Resurrection to A.D. 70

Now, just before he is stoned to death, Stephen calls down the same judgment upon the Pharisees and the Idumean kings who manipulated them like puppets. It is historically interesting that his death comes shortly after the ascension of Christ in A.D. 30. At this time, another forty-year period is being initiated.From Christ's crucifixion to the destruction of Herod's Temple and the city of Jerusalem was forty years! During this time, the Jerusalem church grew, even as sacrifices continued to be carried on at the Temple complex. Doubtless, the Jews believed that their normal pattern of events would continue on into the foreseeable future.As the fortieth year of this period drew closer, the book of Hebrews was penned. Most authorities date its authorship to A.D. 68, as the Romans' plans for conquest neared completion. Soon, as Jesus predicted, the Temple would be completely destroyed, right at the end of this forty-year period, a test that involved the relationship between the Jerusalem church and the Temple authorities. The third chapter of Hebrews warns the Jews not to turn back from Christian faith to the lure of Temple worship:Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness:When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years (Heb. 3:8,9).

Then, later in the same chapter, the writer to the Hebrews concluded his argument, likening his Hebrew contemporaries to the wilderness generation. Quite plainly, he is saying that it will not be long before judgment falls upon Jerusalem and Israel. And in A.D. 70, at the end of the forty-year period, those Jews who depended upon the old ways of festivals and priestly intercession, came to the end of their resources. Those who were not killed, fled into the far corners of the Roman Empire. There was no rest for them, only persecution and diaspora:But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it (Heb. 3:17-4:1).

Fast Forward:

The Twentieth Century

Since Israel's statehood on May 14, 1948, surrounding Arab nations continually agitated for the destruction of the new country, and of all the Twelve Tribes. Wars, insurrections and terrorism became a way of life for the Jews. After a period of relative peace in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Syria began to bombard Israel.In 1963, at the direction of the Arab League, Syria attempted to cut off the headwaters of the Jordan, leaving Israel without water resources.

In 1964, Israel replied with artillery, destroying Syrian earthmoving equipment. Hostilities between the two countries escalated. On May 24, 1966, Hafez Assad, then Syrian defense minister, stated, We shall never call for nor accept peace. We shall only accept war. We have resolved to drench this land with your blood, to oust your aggressors, to throw you into the sea.During the first half of 1967, Syria fired upon farming communities in northern Israel, and even planted mines there. Many settlers were seriously wounded and some were killed.At the same time, Egyptian forces mobilized on Israel's southern flank, along with Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq. In May of 1967, Israel had just over 250,000 troops, 800 tanks and 300 combat jets. Combined Arab forces had about 550,000 troops, 2,500 tanks and over 900 combat jets. Islamic forces felt that they had arrived at the historical moment of their dreams.

By the end of May, these forces had moved their troops to Israel's borders. Egypt launched a massive naval blockade. Cairo radio repeatedly announced that Israel was trapped, with no alternative but surrender. During the period of May 31 through June 1, Egypt added to the enemy strength by moving over 100,000 troops, 1,000 tanks and 500 artillery pieces into the so-called buffer zone of the Sinai Peninsula.On June 5, in a pre-emptive strike, Israel wiped out all these enemies in a miraculous six-day campaign. By June 10, Israel controlled the Sinai, Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights. Many books have commemorated the astonishing series of victories, won against such overwhelming odds that the Lord's intercession is the only way to explain them.On this date, Israel accepted the UN Security Council's demands for a cease-fire. Israel had captured East Jerusalem, including the Old City.This, of course, included the Temple Mount. Among religious Jews, there was exultation at the prospect of a united Jerusalem and plans for building the Third Temple. Sadly, this
lasted only about twenty-four hours.

Following World War II, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan was placed in charge of the Mount, its Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque. Through the Arab trust called the Waqf, they were the official caretakers and custodians of this area. Because of this, and pressure from certain rabbinic groups which believe that Jews should be forbidden access to the Mount because of its sacred nature, the Israeli Army, under General Moshe Dayan, quickly returned the Mount to Arab occupation. What a failure of steadfastness and faith! From that day to this, the Arabs have been busily engaged in a program to eradicate any trace of Jewish history on Mount Zion. They now officially deny that there ever was a Solomonic Temple there. Most infamously, the late Yasser Arafat boldly proclaimed that there never was a Jewish Temple of any kind there. Today, Islamists of every stripe shout this message from the housetops. Many have referred to their actions as Temple Denial.

Forty years have passed since that 1967 victory. We have taken the time to document the biblical perspective that is woven into and through this number. Given what we now know, we should examine the last forty years as yet another test of Israel's faith.

A Complex Fortieth Anniversary

This brings us to a series of dates that are now coming to our attention. As mentioned earlier, the war started on June 5, 1967. The fortieth anniversary of this event is obviously June 5, 2007. Likewise, the fortieth anniversary of the capture of Jerusalem will occur on June 10, 2007.At first glance, the anniversary would seem straightforward. That is, if we mark the moment when those Israeli troops first set foot on the Temple Mount, then June 10 of this year will mark the end of a forty-year test period for Israel.However, the picture is complicated, if we also consider the anniversary from the Jewish perspective, using the Jewish calendar. On this calendar, the Six-Day war began on the 26 of Iyar, 5727, and ended on the 2 of Sivan, 5727.On that same Jewish calendar, our current year is 5767.

This year, the 26 of Iyar and the 2 of Sivan arrive a little over three weeks earlier than the Gentile anniversary dates.To put it simply, the fortieth anniversary of the war comes about 22 days earlier on the Jewish calendar than it does on the Gentile calendar.

Pentecost: Awaiting a

New Dispensation

As the Bible clearly demonstrates, the fortieth year usually marks a radical departure from what has gone before. In the current case, Israel has repeatedly been tested on the issue of maintaining a unified Jerusalem, and a unified Israeli state. Having given up on custody of the Temple Mount, the Israelis provided Islamic forces a toehold, which has since been parlayed into a series of increasing demands for a Palestinian state.This, of course, would include a divided Jerusalem, with east Jerusalem becoming the capital of Palestine. The test has included two wars; one in 1973 and another in 2006. Israel has endured bombings and the continued onslaught of the two Intifadas (Arabic for uprising).

The first was in the 1980s, the second began in 2000, and has continued to the present. More correctly, these actions should be called terrorist insurgencies.Can we say that all this has been a forty-year test for Israel? This seems a logical conclusion, if not an obvious fact. The test is focused upon an ancient question: Can the modern leaders of Israel continue to maintain their presence in the Holy Land?

At the moment, their grip seems to be slipping. Gaza has been relinquished in a unilateral pull-out. After forty years, it has fallen into the hands of Fatah and Hamas, who are using it as a base of operations in their further attempts to wrest the entire Land from Israel. Ehud Olmert has demonstrated his reluctance to fight an effective battle to maintain Israel's borders. Last year, the rockets of Hezbollah showered all of northern Israel.The enemy was so effective (and Israel's military
leaders so ineffective) that heads rolled. Major General Yiftah Ron-Tal openly criticized Israel's military blunders, blaming Lieutenant General Halutz for Israel's weak response. Last October witnessed a significant shake-up in the Israeli military. As the test proceeds, Israel seems increasingly ineffectual in matters of security and national solidarity. It must also be added that they have succumbed to increasing pressure from the U.S. government for a Palestinian state.In a final note, we would point out that the two days of Pentecost are positioned between the Jewish and Gentile fortieth anniversary dates of the Six-Day War. On the Jewish calendar, the 2 of Sivan (May 19) falls four days prior to Pentecost, which falls on the 6 of Sivan (May 23). Eighteen days later on the Gentile calendar, we find the latter fortieth anniversary, on June 10.In the past, we have often pointed out the important meaning of Pentecost. To the Jews, it symbolizes the marriage contract between God and Israel at Sinai. On this date, Moses received the two tablets written in the Lord's own hand. This act initiated the Dispensation of Law. On Pentecost, religious Jews stay up all night studying Scripture, hoping for the blessing of a revelation from the Lord.

This is exactly what the Apostles did on that most famous of all Pentecosts. Early the next morning, their revelation came, marking the birth of the church and the coming of the new Dispensation of Grace:And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting (Acts 2:1,2).Since the initiation of the dispensations of Law and Grace are both celebrated on this date, it should not be a stretch of logic to expect that the next change of dispensation will fall on Pentecost, as well.Falling as it does on the fortieth anniversary of the Six-Day
War, this year's Pentecost may be the harbinger of great change. We should carefully observe this passing moment in history. It could well be of great importance.

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