World Watch Today

Iran "Flare-up"

01 14 2018
Over the past 4 weeks we have seen Iran hit by a wave of protests. Students, middle class and the working class poor have demanded that the government do something about rising food prices and high unemployment. The protests have spread from the northeast part of the country to many villages and towns throughout the country. These protests are growing in size, and they are very difficult to control—the Iranian leadership is worried.

The demonstrations have turned increasingly hostile with protesters chanting anti-regime slogans such as “death to Khamenei,” “the Khamenei’s regime is illegitimate” and “free political prisoners.” The protests are driven by widespread observations that the ruling class (under the religious clerics) has become harsh, dishonest and self-serving, producing exhibiting apathy and discrimination—the government just doesn’t seem to care about the people.

Iranian leader Ayatollah Khamenei is now 78 and in poor health; meaning a fight is on the horizon over the selection of the next supreme leader. His death will open up divisions that already exist within the nation—Iran is a very divided nation; there are many different factions vying for power throughout the country. Also take note; that the international nuclear deal, aggravated rather than healed rifts between the reformist and conservative factions within the country.

Iran signed the nuclear deal because it hoped to lift sanctions and open the door to international investment in the country. The economy has improved, but not as much as hoped for. Also, few international companies have made significant investments in Iran; business people outside of Iran do not trust the Iranian regime, so are unwilling to risk large amounts of capital investment in building their business in the country.

When watching nations and geopolitical trends ALWAYS keep in mind that the spirit world is at toiling behind the scenes, often demons are motivating and influencing world leaders to make certain decisions. It reminds me of the lying spirit that swayed King Ahab as recorded in 1 Kings 22. In 1 Kings 22 we are told of a council of war between the kings of Israel and Judah. Treacherous King Ahab and the good Jewish King Jehoshaphat were planning war against Syria to regain land that Israel had lost. At the council, God’s prophet Micaiah was brought before the two kings, he revealed an perceptive vision from the throne of God and how the world of angels and demons can sway world leaders:

Micaiah viewed God sitting on His throne and the spiritual host of heaven around Him. “Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, and said, ‘I will persuade him [Ahab].’ The LORD said to him, ‘In what way?’ So he said, ‘I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets’” (verses 21-22). God was allowing Ahab to be persuaded by his advisors (influenced by a lying spirit) to engage in a battle that would lead to Ahab’s death.

The lesson for us is that at times lying demonic spirits work through government advisors [types of false prophets] to prevail upon leaders to make foolish decisions. How will the leaders of Iran deal with the protests—harsh crackdowns may not work? Economic trouble can quickly lead to massive unrest among Iranians. Will the protests grow or will they fade. We will watch this situation very closely.

Prime Minister Netanyahu on Jerusalem as the capital of Israel

Jerusalem at the Center

12 11 2017

Jerusalem is very important both historically and prophetically. Zechariah 12:3 asserts, Jerusalem will become “a very heavy stone for all peoples.” The marginal note in the NKJV Study Bible says on this verse: “ Jerusalem is compared to a heavy stone that brings injury to anyone who tries to remove it from its place.”

For years, US policy has been to avoid declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel in the absence of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal; remember the Palestinians also claim Jerusalem as their capital. For 68 years the State Department insisted on pretending that Israel has no capital. This position was a fundamental component of an overall US Middle East policy—this was done so as not to upset the Arab world. President Trump initiated a new course for US Middle East policy entrenched in reality for the first time since 1948.

Recognizing Jerusalem as the capital has also transferred the United States attention to relocating the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the move would be seen as buttressing Israeli sovereignty over the city.

Moving the embassy hazards setting off diplomatic chaos with Arab states (such as Saudi Arabia and Jordan), which could include far-reaching protests outside US diplomatic offices and embassies around the world. There was widespread condemnation from the Arab world after Trump’s decision was declared.

Approximately 852,000 people live in Jerusalem — 38% are Arab and 60% are Jewish; the Jewish population includes around 200,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews, with the rest split mostly between religious Zionist and secular Jews. Of the city’s Arab population, 96% is Muslim; the other 4% is Christian.

The US has never had its embassy in Jerusalem. It has always been in Tel Aviv, but in 1989, Israel began leasing to the America a plot of land in Jerusalem for a new embassy. To this day, the plot has not been developed, and it remains an empty field. The 99-year lease cost $1 per year. In 1995, the US Congress passed a law requiring America to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Supporters said the US should honor Israel’s choice of Jerusalem as its capital, and acknowledge it openly. So why have presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama refused to move the embassy; they were timid about upsetting the Arab world, so they never followed through with the intent. President Obama never seriously considered moving the embassy.

Palestinian leaders are enraged, claiming that an embassy move to Jerusalem would be a violation of international law, and a huge setback to peace prospects. President Mahmoud Abbas has turned to other world leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Jordan’s King Abdullah, to help pressure Trump to change his mind. The Palestine Liberation Organization has suggested it would cancel all agreements between Israelis and Palestinians, should the move take place.

We will be watching Jordan’s reaction to the announcement. Jordan, where Palestinians make up nearly half the population, will have to deal with the consequence from Jerusalem’s new status. Jordanians will take to the streets to try to force their king to break the country’s 1994 peace treaty with Israel. At the same time, the powerful Jordanian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood will exploit the President’s announcement to gather strength in Jordan’s parliament seeking to erode the monarchy’s political strength.

Jerusalem is described in the biblical Book of Zechariah as “ a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples” (12:2). This news story is a fire that will not die.

Saudi Arabia seeks to assert itself

11 17 2017

Mohammed bin Salman, the future King of Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is attempting to flex its muscle. Mohammed bin Salman has increased Saudi intervention in Yemen, with bombing strikes and air, land and sea blockades. He has tried to isolate Qatar, hoping to turn it into an obedient satellite state. He has apparently forced the Lebanese prime minister to resign, attempting to destabilize the Iranian backed Shiite-dominated government in Lebanon. All these are part of a struggle to fight back against Iran’s growing regional impact.

Of note internally is the fact that the Saudis have a large youth population – at least two-thirds of all citizens are under the age of 30. Unrest is mounting in this oil-rich country. Most of the unrest is coming from the young who see government corruption and religious extremism as holding back their future. The future king, Mohammed bin Salman, has been making unparalleled moves against the religious establishment as well as the royal family itself, including imposing social reforms (women can now drive), and ordering the arrests of dozens of princes and senior officials. And let’s not forget, the young future King certainly has enemies but as of yet they have not played their hand.

What we are seeing today is that Middle East Saudi stratagem is struggling. The war in Yemen has turned into a quagmire, creating a civil war on Saudi Arabia’s border (Yemen). Yemen (rebels there who are backed by Iran) is surging with fury against the Saudi Kingdom. Qatar refuses to give into Saudi Arabia—tensions are increasing between the two nations. And Lebanon could collapse into another vicious civil war. Don’t expect things to calm down soon.

Saudi Arabia has to spend a lot of money to keep up with its proxy war against Iran—its great enemy in the region. Remember Saudi Arabia is Sunni—Iran is Shiite. These nations do not fight each other directly but instead they wage expensive proxy conflicts throughout the region. When protests began in 2011 against the Iranian-backed regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, the Saudis used their oil wealth to back rebel groups that are anti-Iran. All of this costs money. The leadership in Iran believes Saudi Arabia will eventually collapse under the weight of its own internal power struggles, in the interim, the best thing Iran can do is engage Saudi Arabia in expensive and time-consuming proxy wars thus draining the Saudi treasury.

We must always keep in mind that Saudi Arabia is prophetically significant–We believe Saudi Arabia is home to the descendants of Ishmael: “He (Ishmael) will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.”—Genesis 16:12. That description continues to play out in real time even today.

Saudi Arabia is a big player in the Middle East—we need to watch this nation and its internal challenges more closely.

Amazing facts about Germany (updated):

11 05 2017

German Chancellor Angela Merkel

●For the past 5 years Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, has be voted the world’s most powerful woman.
●Angela Merkel is considered the 3rd most powerful leader in the world by Forbes magazine; President Putin of Russia is ranked #1, President Trump of the USA is ranked #2, and Angela Merkel of Germany is ranked #3.
●German companies employ over 730,000 people in the United States. The #1 German employer in America is Siemens, employing nearly 50,000 people. Siemens is a leading supplier of systems for power generation and transmission as well as medical diagnosis equipment.
●By a wide margin, Germany is the world’s #1 exporter of cars: Cars are the world’s number one export product, besting crude petroleum revenues which have been handicapped by tumbling oil prices. Last year’s 3 largest exporters of cars in dollar value were: Germany: US$151.9 billion (21.8% of total car exports), Japan: $91.9 billion (13.2%), the United States: $53.8 billion (7.7%).
●Famous American companies that are German owned: Trader Joes (popular California food store), T-Mobile, Bayer corporation (Bayer aspirin), Allianz Life Insurance, DHL Holdings (delivery company), Random House (publisher), Daimler Group (Daimler owns or has shares in a number of car, bus, truck and motorcycle brands including Mercedes-Benz).
●Germany export more goods in dollar terms to America than to any other nation, more than it exports to China.
●Germany is the world’s No. 3 arms exporter, after the United States and Russia-(most people are amazed at this stat)-Israel and Saudi Arabia, are among Germany’s elite customers. So are Algeria, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
●The Israeli Navy presently maintains a fleet of five state-of-the-art German underwater submarines of the Dolphin Class, which can be equipped with nuclear warheads, with a sixth due for delivery this year.  Germany makes some of the world’s most advanced high-tech submarines.
●Germany is the 2nd largest financial contributor to the Catholic Church; America ranks as the #1 contributor to the Catholic church.
Germany has one of the lowest birthrates in the world. There is a scarcity of children in Germany. Over the past 20 years nearly 2000 schools were closed in Germany due to a shortage of children in the country.
●There are approximately 117,000 Jews living in Germany today, compared with 475,000 Jews living in France.
●Deutsche Bank is Germany’s biggest bank, and the second-largest bank in Europe, Deutsche Bank is not doing well. This is fact is alarming. Deutsche Bank is one of the world’s 10 largest banks in terms of total assets– the International Monetary Fund has said it’s “the most important net contributor to systemic risks” to the global financial system. So, if Deutsche Bank gets into trouble, this will shake the world financial markets
●Germany has over 400 zoos, the most in the world.
●65% of the Autobahn (highway) has no speed limit.

Note that we are watching this closelyGermany is making moves on the military front. President Trump has hinted that the United States might refuse to protect members that fail to meet the NATO defense spending target of 2 percent of GDP. On Jan. 18, Germany’s defense minister announced that Berlin would boost its military budget this year by nearly 2 billion euros ($2.1 billion) to reach 37 billion euros. Germany has vowed to continue increasing defense expenditures over the next three years. Germany is almost forced to focus more of its attention on defense.

In the not too distant future-we are told that political chaos in Europe (Revelation 17), will lead to a newly formed confederation of states that will be beastlike (terribly destructive). We believe that Germany will play the leading role in the end-time beast system.  We are also told in the book of Daniel, that God often removes and sets up leaders according to His purpose and insights: Daniel 2:21- He controls the course of world events; He removes kings and sets up other kings…thus we watch Europe with this in mind, and with intense interest!

European leaders will eventually choose one single dictator, the prophesied “beast,” –he will set up a system that will be extremely brutal (Revelation 17 verses 12 and 13).  European extremism will return to European cities.  Jesus Christ himself will destroy this end-time empire; and then Christ will establish the Kingdom of God on earth, that Kingdom will rule the nations with justice and force.  Europe is important-we will continue to watch events in Europe, and we will monitor closely political change in Germany -doing so with a differentiating eye-Steven LeBlanc

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