ISLAM’S INVASION OF THE WESTERN WORLD – PART 2

0 ISLAM INVATION

In 2018, Robert Spencer published a remarkable book, called “The History of Jihad: From Muhammad to ISIS.” In one of the chapters (chapter 10), he discussed the matter of how the Western world caved into Islam’s demands. In this series, we look at some highlights from this chapter.

THE WEST LOSES THE
WILL TO LIVE

Obama in Cairo

It is no surprise that when President Barack Obama made his outreach speech to the Muslim world from Cairo on June 4, 2009, he included fulsome praise of Islam that played fast and loose with the historical record:

“As a student of history, I also know civilization’s debt to Islam. It was Islam…, paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment. It was innovation in Muslim communities that developed the order of algebra; our magnetic compass and tools of navigation; our mastery of pens and printing; our understanding of how disease spreads and how it can be healed. Islamic culture has given us majestic arches and soaring spires; timeless poetry and cherished music; elegant calligraphy and places of peaceful contemplation. And throughout history, Islam has demonstrated through words and deeds the possibilities of religious tolerance and racial equality.

I also know that Islam has always been a part of America’s story… American Muslims have enriched the United States. They have fought in our wars, they have served in our government, they have stood for civil rights, they have started businesses, they have taught at our universities, they’ve excelled in our sports arenas, they’ve won Nobel Prizes, built our tallest building, and lit the Olympic Torch. And when the first Muslim American was recently elected to Congress, he took the oath to defend our Constitution using the same Holy Koran that one of our Founding Fathers—Thomas Jefferson—kept in his personal library…

So I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed. That experience guides my conviction that partnership between America and Islam must be based on what Islam is, not what it isn’t. And I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear.”

Where this executive duty to defend Islam appeared in the Constitution, he did not explain.

In September 2012 at the United Nations, in the wake of the jihad massacre of four Americans by al-Qaeda operatives in Benghazi in Libya, which key members of his administration falsely and repeatedly attributed to a spontaneous demonstration arising over a video criticizing Muhammad on YouTube, Obama went even farther, saying: “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” The specter of the leader of the free world vowing to enforce Islamic blasphemy laws was not just rhetoric. The idea that Islam in America was beset by negative stereotypes that same year helped to defeat an attempt to investigate Muslim Brotherhood influence within the United States government.

Efforts to Investigate Infiltration

In 2012, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) tried to call attention to this influence, asking for an investigation into Muslim Brotherhood infiltration into the U.S. government. She accused the first Muslim member of Congress, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) of having a “long record of being associated” with CAIR and the Muslim Brotherhood.

In response, Ellison accused Bachmann of religious bigotry. Yet he really did have a “long record of being associated” with Hamas-linked CAIR and the Muslim Brotherhood. As long ago as 2006, Ellison’s closeness to CAIR’s cofounder and National Executive Director Nihad Awad was a matter of public record. Awad, who notoriously said in 1994 that he was “in support of the Hamas movement,” spoke at fundraisers for Ellison, raising considerable sums for his first congressional race. Ellison has appeared frequently at CAIR events since then.

Multiple statements made by federal prosecutors identify Awad as one of the attendees at a 1993 meeting of US Muslim Brotherhood Palestine Committee leaders in Philadelphia that was wiretapped by the FBI under a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant. The topic of discussion during that 1993 meeting was how to help Hamas by working in the U.S. to help sabotage the Oslo Peace Accords. But none of that fazed Ellison. Nor has he ever expressed any concern over the fact that CAIR is also linked to the Muslim Brotherhood through its parent group, the Islamic Association for Palestine (IAP).

Ellison’s ties to the Muslim Brotherhood were also more direct. In 2008, Ellison accepted 13,350 dollars from the Muslim American Society (MAS) to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca. As we have seen, the Muslim American Society is the principal arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States.

Egypt’s Rose El-Youssef magazine asserted in a December 2012 article that six highly placed Muslim Brotherhood infiltrators within the Obama Administration had transformed the United States “from a position hostile to Islamic groups and organizations in the world to the largest and most important supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood.”

The article said that “the six named people include: Arif Alikhan, assistant secretary of Homeland Security for policy development; Mohammed Elibiary, a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council; Rashad Hussain, the U.S. special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference [OIC]; Salam al-Marayati, co-founder of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC); Imam Mohamed Magid, president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA); and Eboo Patel, a member of President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships.”75

And so the Egyptian article stood as vindication of Bachmann’s concerns, and showed that her request for an investigation to be opened of the Muslim Brotherhood’s infiltration was entirely reasonable and not a manifestation of “bigotry,” “racism,” or “McCarthyism”—contrary to the hysterical (and formulaic) claims of her leftist detractors. Bachmann’s concerns were justified, as the Muslim Brotherhood had indeed penetrated the highest levels of the U.S. government.

Gehad El-Haddad, a top Muslim Brotherhood official in Egypt, was for five years employed with the Clinton Foundation. The Clinton Foundation, of course, is not a government agency, but his involvement with it afforded El-Haddad access to a former president of the United States and his associates, including present and former government officials. In September 2013, Egypt’s military government arrested El-Haddad for his Muslim Brotherhood activities.

For all of the furor over Bachmann’s call for an investigation of Muslim Brotherhood influence in Washington, nothing caused as much controversy as her naming Huma Abedin, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s closest personal assistant and adviser. Abedin is an observant Muslim who lived in Saudi Arabia as a child; her brother Hassan works “as a fellow and partner with a number of Muslim Brotherhood members.” Her mother, Saleha Mahmoud Abedin, is a professor in Saudi Arabia and a member of the Brotherhood’s woman’s division, the Muslim Sisterhood.80 Her father, Syed Z. Abedin, was a professor in Saudi Arabia who founded the Institute for Muslim Minority Affairs, an organization supported by the Muslim World League, a Brotherhood organization.81

Despite this evidence, there was no investigation. Yet, former U.S. prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy listed a great many strange collaborations between the State Department of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and Muslim Brotherhood organizations, of which some including:

  • Secretary Clinton personally intervened to reverse a Bush-administration ruling that barred Tariq Ramadan, grandson of the Brotherhood’s founder and son of one of its most influential early leaders, from entering the United States.
  • The State Department collaborated with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, a bloc of governments heavily influenced by the Brotherhood, in seeking to restrict American free-speech rights in deference to Sharia proscriptions against negative criticism of Islam.
  • The State Department excluded Israel, the world’s leading target of terrorism, from its “Global Counterterrorism Forum,” a group that brings the United States together with several Islamist governments. At the forum’s kickoff, Secretary Clinton decried various terrorist attacks and groups, but she did not mention Hamas or attacks against Israel—in transparent deference to the Islamist governments, which echo the Brotherhood’s position that Hamas is not a terrorist organization and that attacks against Israel are not terrorism.
  • The State Department and the Obama administration waived congressional restrictions in order to transfer millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinian territories, notwithstanding that Gaza is ruled by the terrorist organization Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch.

During the Bush and Obama administrations, it became socially and politically unacceptable even to raise questions about Muslim Brotherhood influence, or to express any skepticism about the politically correct dogmas regarding Islam and jihad. For in Abedin’s case, it certainly was not that the evidence was lacking. It was that the political elites had forbidden any examination or discussion of it.

Stigmatizing Resistance to Jihad

The crowning victory in the effort to stigmatize resistance to jihad terror and Islamic supremacism came in February 2012, when the Obama administration purged more than a thousand documents and presentations from counterterror training materials for the FBI and other agencies. This material was discarded at the demand of Muslim groups, which had deemed it inaccurate (by their own account) or offensive to Muslims.

This triumph was several years in the making. The movement towards it began in earnest in August 2010, when a presentation on Islam and jihad was given to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. The far-left journalist Spencer Ackerman took the FBI to task for training material that spoke forthrightly and truthfully about the nature and magnitude of the jihad threat. Ackerman reported that “the FBI is teaching its counterterrorism agents that ‘main stream’ [sic] American Muslims are likely to be terrorist sympathizers; that the Prophet Mohammed was a ‘cult leader’; and that the Islamic practice of giving charity is no more than a ‘funding mechanism for combat.’

Unfortunately for Ackerman, there was considerable evidence that what this FBI training material asserted was true. Nonetheless, in the face of Ackerman’s reports, the FBI went into full retreat: in September 2011, it announced that it was dropping one of the programs that Ackerman had zeroed in on.

The Islamic supremacists didn’t rest on their laurels. On October 19, 2011, Salam al-Marayati of the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) took this campaign to the mainstream media, writing in the Los Angeles Times that “a disturbing string of training material used by the FBI and a U.S. attorney’s office came to light beginning in late July that reveals a deep anti-Muslim sentiment within the U.S. government.” Al-Marayati warned that “if this matter is not immediately addressed, it will undermine the relationship between law enforcement and the Muslim American community.”

The same day that al-Marayati’s op-ed was published, Farhana Khera of Muslim Advocates, who had complained for years about supposed Muslim profiling and entrapment, wrote a letter to John Brennan, who was then the assistant to the president on national security for homeland security and counterterrorism. The letter was signed not just by Khera but by the leaders of virtually all the significant Islamic groups in the United States: fifty-seven Muslim, Arab, and South Asian organizations, including many with ties to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, including CAIR, ISNA, MAS, the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), Islamic Relief USA, and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC).

The letter denounced what it characterized as U.S. government agencies’ “use of biased, false and highly offensive training materials about Muslims and Islam,” and emphasized that they regarded this as an issue of the utmost importance: “The seriousness of this issue cannot be overstated, and we request that the White House immediately create an interagency task force to address this problem, with a fair and transparent mechanism for input from the Muslim, Arab, and South Asian communities, including civil rights lawyers, religious leaders, and law enforcement experts.”

This was needed because “while recent news reports have highlighted the FBI’s use of biased experts and training materials, we have learned that this problem extends far beyond the FBI and has infected other government agencies, including the U.S. Attorney’s Anti-Terrorism Advisory Councils, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Army. Furthermore, by the FBI’s own admission, the use of bigoted and distorted materials in its trainings has not been an isolated occurrence. Since last year, reports have surfaced that the FBI, and other federal agencies, are using or supporting the use of biased trainers and materials in presentations to law enforcement officials.”

In a November 3, 2011, response to Khera, that was written on White House stationery, John O. Brennan, assistant to the president for Homeland Security accepted Khera’s criticisms without a murmur of protest and assured her of his readiness to comply.

Brennan assured Khera that all her demands would be met: “Your letter requests that ‘the White House immediately create an interagency task force to address this problem,’ and we agree that this is necessary.” He then detailed the specific actions being undertaken to ensure this, including “collecting all training materials that contain cultural or religious content, including information related to Islam or Muslims.”93 This material wouldn’t just be “collected”; it would be purged of anything that Farhana Khera and others like her found offensive—that is, any honest discussion of how Islamic jihadists used Islamic teachings to justify violence.

Not only were numerous books and presentations that presented a perfectly accurate view of Islam and jihad purged, but Brennan was complying with demands from quarters that could hardly be considered authentically moderate. America was going to war against jihadists while forbidding itself to understand jihad.

Brennan also attempted to distance Islam and the concept of jihad from contemporary Islamic terrorism long before he told Farhana Khera that he would give her everything she wanted. On May 26, 2010, in an address at the Center for Strategic and International Studies he said: “Nor do we describe our enemies as jihadists or Islamists because jihad is a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam meaning to purify oneself or one’s community.” In a press release the next day, CAIR “expressed appreciation” for Brennan’s remarks.

Brennan was instrumental in the Obama administration’s recasting of the defense against terror as a localized struggle against al-Qaeda.

ISLAM’S INVASION OF THE WESTERN WORLD – PART 1

0 ISLAM INVATION

In 2018, Robert Spencer published a remarkable book, called “The History of Jihad: From Muhammad to ISIS.” In one of the chapters (chapter 10), he discussed the matter of how the Western world caved into Islam’s demands. In this series, we look at some highlights from this chapter.

“THE WEST LOSES THE
WILL TO LIVE”

ISLAM’S INVASION OF THE WESTERN WORLD – PART 1

SEPTEMBER 11

On September 11, 2001, al-Qaeda initiated a new phase of the jihad against the United States, and the free world in general, only to find that the traditional foes of the warriors of jihad were no longer interested in fighting.

On that day, al-Qaeda operatives hijacked jetliners and flew them into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. Passengers resisted on a fourth jet and managed to bring it down in rural Pennsylvania, far from its intended Washington target, which may have been the White House or the Capitol building. Nearly three thousand people were killed.

This was jihad, but it was markedly different from jihad attacks that the West had faced before. The free world was not facing a state that had declared jihad against it, but an international organization operating in the name of Islam. Yet this was not a “hijacking” of Islam either, as was widely claimed at the time; the underlying principles of jihad remained the same.

Osama bin Laden explained in a 2004 interview that al-Qaeda’s overall objective was to drain the United States economically, a shrewd jihad objective to bring down an enemy many times stronger than the jihad force: “We are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy. Allah willing, and nothing is too great for Allah.… We, alongside the mujahedeen, bled Russia for 10 years until it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw in defeat.”1 He further said, “So the war went ahead, the death toll rose, the American economy bled, and Bush became embroiled in the swamps of Iraq that threaten his future.”3

The war against the United States would only end with the submission of the United States to the warriors of jihad, as bin Laden stated succinctly: “The first thing that we are calling you to is Islam.”

Other al-Qaeda plotters involved in planning the September 11 attacks, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, issued a statement in 2009 that explicitly grounded their actions in Islamic religious terms: “Many thanks to God,” they wrote about the attacks, “for his kind gesture, and choosing us to perform the act of Jihad for his cause and to defend Islam and Muslims. Therefore, killing you and fighting you, destroying you and terrorizing you, responding back to your attacks, are all considered to be great legitimate duty in our religion. These actions are our offerings to God. In addition, it is the imposed reality on Muslims in Palestine, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq, in the land of the two holy sites [Mecca and Medina, Saudi Arabia], and in the rest of the world, where Muslims are suffering from your brutality, terrorism, killing of the innocent, and occupying their lands and their holy sites.”

Denial

On September 17, 2001, U.S. President George W. Bush appeared at the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C., in the company of several prominent Muslim leaders, and said: ”These acts of violence against innocents violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith. And it’s important for my fellow Americans to understand that…. The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don’t represent peace. They represent evil and war. When we think of Islam we think of a faith that brings comfort to a billion people around the world. Billions of people find comfort and solace and peace. And that’s made brothers and sisters out of every race—out of every race.”

As Americans still searched the smoking ruins of the World Trade Center for the remains of their loved ones, President Bush cautioned Americans against thinking ill of Muslims, as if the 9/11 attacks had been perpetrated by Americans targeting Muslims:

“America counts millions of Muslims amongst our citizens, and Muslims make an incredibly valuable contribution to our country… . And they need to be treated with respect. In our anger and emotion, our fellow Americans must treat each other with respect… Those who feel like they can intimidate our fellow citizens to take out their anger don’t represent the best of America, they represent the worst of humankind, and they should be ashamed of that kind of behavior.”

Political leaders all over the West echoed his words about Islam’s being a religion of peace, having nothing to do with terrorism. After September 11, this became a commonplace of the Western political discourse, rejected only by a small minority, who were quickly stigmatized as cranks.

The Saudi Involvement in 9 / 11

The best explanation why Bush turned so quickly after the September 11 attacks remains Saudi influence in Washington, including within his administration itself. For many years this involvement was concealed. The 28-page section of the 9/11 report detailing Saudi involvement in the September 11, 2001 jihad attacks was finally released in July 2016 (albeit with substantial portions redacted), and made it clear why one president who held hands with the Saudi king (George W. Bush) and another who bowed to him (Barack Obama) worked so hard for so many years to keep these pages secret. They confirmed that the 9/11 jihad murderers received significant help from people at the highest levels of the Saudi government.

The Saudi ambassador to the United States was Prince Bandar, about whom The New York Times later noted: “No foreign diplomat has been closer or had more access to President Bush, his family and his administration than the magnetic and fabulously wealthy Prince Bandar bin Sultan of Saudi Arabia.”

Bassnan “spoke of Bin Laden ‘as if he were a god.’ He also stated to an FBI asset that he heard that the U.S. government had stopped approving visas for foreign students. He considered such measures to be insufficient as there are already enough Muslims in the United States to destroy the United States and make it “an Islamic state within ten to fifteen years.”

David D. Aufhauser, a former Treasury Department general counsel, told a Senate committee in June 2004 that estimates of how much money the Saudis had spent worldwide since the 1970s to promote Wahhabism (an Islamic doctrine and religious movement founded by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab) went “north of seventy-five billion dollars.” The money went to mosques, Islamic centers, Islamic schools, Islamic preachers, and the printing of hundreds of millions of copies of the Qur’an and other Islamic religious books.29

Terrorism expert Yehudit Barsky noted in 2005: “The people now in control of teaching religion [to American Muslims] are extremists… Eighty percent of the infrastructure is controlled by these extremists.” Nor was this happening in the United States alone. In December 2015, German vice chancellor Sigmar Gabriel declared: “We have to make clear to the Saudis that the time of looking away is over. Wahhabi mosques all over the world are financed by Saudi Arabia. Many Islamists who are a threat to public safety come from these communities in Germany.”

Seven years after the September 11 attacks, a U.S. government cable noted: “Government and non-governmental sources claimed that financial support estimated at nearly 100 million USD annually was making its way to Deobandi and Ahl-e-Hadith clerics in the region from ‘missionary’ and ‘Islamic charitable’ organizations in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates ostensibly with the direct support of those governments.” The Deobandi was a Sunni revivalist movement found primarily in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh; the Ahl-e-Hadith was another revivalist movement based in India. As we have seen throughout Islamic history, revivalist movements quite frequently resort to jihad.

The following year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s office noted: “While the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) takes seriously the threat of terrorism within Saudi Arabia, it has been an ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist financing emanating from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority… Still, donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide… “

But there was still no hint of a rift in the U.S.–Saudi alliance. It was a tough analytical problem because the United States, even as it faced a comprehensive jihad challenge, was politically and economically entangled with one of the chief financiers of the jihad.

And when there was a regime change in Washington and Donald Trump became president of the United States, he did the sword dance in Riyadh with Saudi royals.

The Iranian Involvement in 9/11

Less noted but no less significant is the Islamic Republic of Iran’s role in the September 11 attacks—also a subject of U.S. government cover-up attempts.

On December 22, 2011, U.S. District judge George B. Daniels ruled in Havlish, et al. v. bin Laden, et al., that Iran and Hizballah were liable for damages to be paid to relatives of the victims of the September 11, 2001, jihad attacks in New York and Washington, as both the Islamic Republic and its Lebanese proxy had actively aided al-Qaeda in planning and executing those attacks.

Daniels found that Iran and Hizballah had cooperated and collaborated with al-Qaeda before 9/11 and continued to do so after the attacks.

Former operative Abolghasem Mesbahi, a defector from Iran, testified that during the summer of 2001, he received messages from Iranian government officials regarding a plan for unconventional warfare against the U.S., entitled “Shaitan dar Atash” (“Satan in Flames”).

“Satan in Flames” was the elaborate plot to hijack three passenger jets, each packed full of people, and crash them into American landmarks: the World Trade Center, which jihadis took to be the center of American commerce; the Pentagon, the center of America’s military apparatus; and the White House.

A classified National Security Agency analysis referred to in the 9/11 Commission report reveals that eight to ten of the 9/11 hijackers traveled to Iran repeatedly in late 2000 and early 2001. The 9/11 Commission called for a U.S. government investigation into Iran’s role in 9/11, but none was ever undertaken.

The Ayatollah Khamenei knew about the plot. During the summer of 2001, he instructed Iranian agents to be careful to conceal their tracks and told them to communicate only with al-Qaeda’s second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and Imad Mughniyah of Hizballah.

Mughniyah was Iran’s key player in the 9/11 “Satan in Flames” plot. During the Havlish trial, former CIA agents Clare M. Lopez and Bruce D. Tefft submitted an affidavit stating that “Imad Mughniyah, the most notable and notorious world terrorist of his time, an agent of Iran and a senior operative of Hizballah, facilitated the international travel of certain 9/11 hijackers to and from Iran, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan, and perhaps various other locations for the purpose of executing the events of September 11, 2001.

The Obama-era CIA went to great pains to try to ensure that information about Iran’s role in 9/11 did not come out in the Havlish case.

Judge Daniels determined that Iran, Hizballah, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence and Security, and other Iranian government departments, as well as the Ayatollah Khamenei himself and former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani were all directly implicated in Iranian efforts to aid al-Qaeda in its 9/11 plot.

Confirming all of this was the revelation in November 2017 of a document captured in the May 2, 2011, American raid on Osama bin Laden’s hideout in Pakistan. It details a mutual agreement between al-Qaeda and the Islamic Republic of Iran to strike American interests in “Saudi Arabia and the Gulf”; the Iranians agreed to supply al-Qaeda “money, arms,” and “training in Hizbollah camps in Lebanon.”

 Infiltration

Standing with President Bush in the mosque in September 2001 was Abdurrahman Alamoudi, who was then one of the most prominent Muslim leaders in the United States. During the presidency of Bill Clinton, Alamoudi served as a State Department “goodwill ambassador” to Muslim lands. In June 2001, he attended a White House briefing on George W. Bush’s faith-based initiative program.

Even though it was universally taken for granted that Alamoudi was a “moderate,” he never bothered to conceal his true allegiances. In 1994 he declared his support for the jihad terror group Hamas. He claimed that “Hamas is not a terrorist group” and that it did “good work.”

At a rally in October 2000, he encouraged those in the crowd to show their support for Hamas and Hizballah. As the crowd cheered, Alamoudi shouted: “I have been labeled by the media in New York to be a supporter of Hamas. Anybody supports Hamas here?” As the crowd cheered, “Yes,” Alamoudi asked the same question again, and then added: “Hear that, Bill Clinton, we are all supporters of Hamas, Allahu akbar.” But even that did not raise any concern among those in Washington who were confident that he was a sterling and reliable “moderate Muslim.” And so, in January 2001, the year he was invited to the Bush White House, Alamoudi traveled to Beirut to attend a conference with leaders of al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hizballah, and Islamic Jihad.

Then, in September 2003, Alamoudi was arrested in London’s Heathrow Airport while carrying three hundred and forty thousand dollars in cash—money that, as it turned out, he had received from Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi in order to finance an al-Qaeda plot to murder the Saudi crown prince, the future King Abdullah.58 Indicted on numerous charges, Alamoudi was found to have funneled over one million dollars to al-Qaeda; he pled guilty to being a senior al-Qaeda financier and was sentenced in October 2004 to twenty-three years in prison. In 2011, the Obama administration reduced Alamoudi’s sentence by six years, without making public its reasons for doing so.

So, as he proclaimed that Islam was a religion of peace that had no connection to the September 11 attacks, George W. Bush was standing in the company of a financier of the organization that was responsible for those attacks.

That denial made the American response to 9/11 curious and wrongheaded in numerous ways. The war went ahead in both Iraq and Afghanistan, both rather off the point if the United States really wanted to confront the sources of jihad activity worldwide. The invasion of Afghanistan made some sense, since the Taliban government was cooperating with al-Qaeda and allowing it to operate training camps on its soil. The invasion of Iraq, however, was based on allegations of cooperation between bin Laden and Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein that were much more tenuous. Operations in both Afghanistan and Iraq became quagmires, immense drains on American personnel, money, and materiel, with little to no upside.

This may have been attributable to Muslim Brotherhood influence in the United States government. The Muslim Brotherhood spelled out its goals for the United States in an internal document seized by the FBI in 2005 in the Northern Virginia headquarters of an Islamic charity, the Holy Land Foundation. The Holy Land Foundation, once the largest Islamic charity in the United States, was shut down for sending charitable contributions to Hamas. The captured document was entitled, “An Explanatory Memorandum on the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America.”62

In it, Muslim Brotherhood members were told that the Brotherhood was working on presenting Islam as a “civilizational alternative” to non-Islamic forms of society and governance, and supporting “the global Islamic state wherever it is.” In working to establish that Islamic state, Muslim Brotherhood members in the United States: “must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and Allah’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”64

The Muslim Brotherhood has been active in the United States for decades, and is the moving force behind virtually all of the mainstream Muslim organizations in America: the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), the Muslim American Society (MAS), the Muslim Students Association (MSA), the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), the International Institute for Islamic Thought (IIIT), and many others.

DEALING WITH FEAR AND ANXIETY (PART 6)

FEAR

6

DEALING WITH PROBLEM PEOPLE

In Part 5, we saw how others can help us in our fight against anxiety. Here, however, we are going to do a reality check, for Christians don’t claim for a moment that they or the church is perfect. The church is full of problems because it is full of problem people. Everyone in it is a sinner, albeit saved by grace, but nonetheless influenced by unredeemed human flesh. The church grows spiritually in direct proportion to how well we deal with anxiety and other sins in our midst.

The apostle Paul said: “We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted [the anxious], help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people” (1 Thess. 5:14–15).

Group number one is “the unruly.” Let’s call them the wayward. They’re never in step. “Get with the program” is something they hear often. When everyone else is moving ahead, they’re going backward. Out of either apathy or rebellion, they’ve gone spiritually AWOL, and they’re not interested in learning or serving.

Group number two is “the fainthearted”—the worriers. They fear the unknown. They hate change; they love tradition; they want no risk. All the issues of life seem far more than they can bear. They’re usually sad, perpetually worried, sometimes in despair, and often depressed or discouraged.

The third group is “the weak.” These believers are spiritually and morally weak. Because of weak self-discipline, they tend to fall into the same sins over and over. You barely get them up on their feet and dust them off when suddenly, they’re back in the same hole again. They find it hard to do God’s will consistently. They embarrass themselves, their church, and their Lord. Thus they require a lot of attention.

The fourth group could be called “the wearisome.” Paul said to “be patient with everyone.” Some people we encounter require an extra degree of patience. You can pour your energy into them, and when you look to see how close they might be to the overall goal of Christ-likeness (Phil. 3:12–15), they seem further away. Everything distracts them—they are not focused individuals. They’re very exasperating because you make the maximum effort and get the minimum return. They don’t grow at a normal pace.

Group five is “the outright wicked.” Even though Paul was addressing Christians, he found it necessary to say, “See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another” (1 Thess. 5:15). There are, sad to say, Christians who commit sins against other Christians. They break up marriages. They defile daughters. They steal. They gossip. They slander. They falsely accuse.

If a church or a fellowship group is to grow, it must minister to all five groups. The Lord would have you understand these groups of people so that you might use your spiritual gifts to help them. Then they, in turn, will be able to help others. Help a worrier not to worry, and your own worries disappear in the process. That is an effective way to attack anxiety.

The Wayward

Perhaps their way of sitting on the bench is moving farther back in the pews, hanging out on the fringes. They’re the first to cut out when the service ends. Either out of apathy or rebellion, they resist involvement. They are unwilling to go beyond an audience mentality.

Scripture says to admonish the wayward. If you know believers who are not doing their duty—not using their gifts, not being supportive of the team effort—come alongside them and try to put some sense into their heads. One way to do that is to speak softly and say, “I’ve noticed you you’re not involved in a ministry, and you tend to criticize the church and / or fellow believers. You do realize that if you continue on that path, there are spiritual consequences, and I do not want you to experience them.”

When you truly love someone, you don’t hesitate to warn him or her. It’s not because of some agenda, but because you don’t want them to have to deal with the inevitable consequences of being spiritually aloof. We want them and everyone else in the church or group to know the fullness of God’s blessing.

This confrontation is often necessary. It’s all abour fellowship; it’s being involved in the lives of fellow believers—including the troublesome ones.

The Fainthearted

These individuals aren’t on the fringes; they’re huddled in the middle. They don’t want to get near the edge—it’s too scary! They need encouragement from God’s Word, which is the solution to anxiety.

Paul described these anxious believers as “the fainthearted” (Gk., oligopsuchos). That term comes from two words meaning “small” and “soul.” Challenges threaten such individuals. Since they like what is familiar, they tend to cling to traditions. They are reluctant to do anything that hasn’t been done before; they love what is safe. They want a risk-free life with absolute security.

Since absolute security is impossible in this life, they’re usually depressed. They lack the strength to move out with the church or fellowship group and try new ministries. Because they fear persecution, they find it difficult to share the gospel. Instead of rising above their problems, they sink under everything. They seem to have a great weight upon them. Consequently, they themselves are like weights that the church or fellowship group needs to drag around. They lack vision and fear failure.

Often they admire courage and a sense of adventure, but rather than learning to cultivate those virtues, they find it much easier to fall into familiar patterns of anxiety.

Paul said simply to encourage them. If you know someone who’s fearful, worried, melancholy, depressed, or despairing, the Lord wants you to come alongside and develop a friendly relationship with him or her. If you tend to be that way yourself, develop friendships with godly people who will console, comfort, strengthen, reassure, cheer, refresh, and soothe you from God’s Word. You will be a different person because such relationships bring relief from anxiety.

What kinds of encouragement bring the most relief? The encouragement of prayer to the God of all encouragement, the encouragement of a secure salvation, the encouragement of our sovereign God working out everything for the believer’s good, the encouragement of the love of Christ, the encouragement of the final resurrection and the righting of all wrongs. All that and more help the worried to participate in the adventure of life.

The Weak

Paul said to “help the weak” (1 Thess. 5:14). Being weak in faith is one aspect of this problem. It characterizes believers who are so hypersensitive to sin that they see things as sin that aren’t really sin at all. Paul described such people as weaker brothers in his letters to the Roman and Corinthian Christians (Rom. 14—15; 1 Cor. 8). He implored these churches to be sensitive to their concerns.

Often these individuals come to Christ out of a particularly sinful lifestyle. They fear that anything associated with that lifestyle might drag them back into their old habits. They are susceptible to a wounded conscience that could lead them into more sin and more weakness. Therefore, they must not be pushed into doing anything they don’t think is right, even though Scripture gives no definitive yes or no about it. With help, largely in the form of patient instruction, they will understand the Word of God more perfectly over time (see Acts 18:24– 28).

Another group of people who could be classified as weak is those who keep falling into the same sins over and over again. They are morally weak. Probably, James had them in mind when he said, “Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders of the church and they are to pray over him” (James 5:14). The word translated “sick” is the same one translated “weak” in 1 Thessalonians 5:14. When you’re feeling weak spiritually and morally, seek out those who are strong in the faith and ask for their prayer support.

In addition to prayer, the weak need “help” (1 Thess. 5:14). Paul used a Greek term that means “to hold tightly to,” “cling to,” “support,” and “hold up.” Here’s what it looks like in action: “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:1–2). We help the weak by picking them up and then holding them up.

How do we do that? Again, intimacy in the fellowship is required. The church or fellowship group grows when the sheep help take care of the sheep—when we care enough to admonish the wayward, encourage the worried, and help the weak. That type of ministry necessitates involvement in people’s lives.

The Wearisome

“Be patient with everyone,” Paul said. It’s easy to get frustrated, angry, and exasperated with some people. You can give so much and receive so little in return. That’s especially common in discipleship relationships. If you’ve discipled people over the years, you know what it is like to have a major disappointment.

No one knew that better than Jesus. You can almost hear the exasperation in His voice when He said, “Oh you of little faith!” You’ll find that exclamation many times in the Gospels. It’s as if Jesus was saying to His disciples, “When are you guys gonna get what I’ve been trying to tell you all this time?” But He was patient with them, and in time they blossomed.

Whether you’re a pastor or not, how would the Lord have you respond to wearisome people? By being patient with them. How patient? More patient than you’ve been. Think how patient God has been with you. In fact, God describes Himself as “compassionate and gracious, slow to anger” (Ex. 34:6). Patience is a communicable attribute of God, which means it should also characterize His children.

Recall this interchange between Peter and Jesus: “‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven’” (Matt. 18:21–22). Such compassion and personal love change people—even the wearisome.

The Wicked

This group has a whole verse dedicated to it: “See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people” (1 Thess. 5:15). It is the most difficult circumstance we as Christians face—when we suffer painful treatment and abuse not from the world, but from our own brothers and sisters in Christ. It can cause the deepest pain, but our Christian faith must work at this level too.

Be prepared: There are people in the church or your fellowship group who will hurt you. They’ll harm you directly by attacking you face-to-face with wicked words. They’ll harm you indirectly by gossiping and slandering you behind your back. They might eliminate you from their social circle or keep you out of a ministry because of jealousy, bitterness, or anger. They might even break up your marriage, or influence one of your children toward sin. This is malicious harm we’re talking about here!

Believers who could even contemplate doing such terrible things to other believers must consider this sober warning:

“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it is better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes! … See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 18:6–7, 10)

The context of the passage makes it clear that these “little ones” are believers —children of God—not just children in general. Nonetheless, some believers will have the audacity to do just that. How are we to respond when we are on the receiving end of their wickedness? Paul said, “See that no one repays another with evil for evil” (1 Thess. 5:15). Don’t retaliate.

Only God has the right to retaliate. A text that closely parallels our passage in 1 Thessalonians 5 states this:

“Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Rom. 12:17–21)

Perhaps you’ve thought of a text elsewhere that appears to contradict this teaching. Doesn’t the Old Testament grant the right to demand an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and a life for a life? Yes, but that was a governmental mandate for punishment to fit the crime. It was never a license for personal vengeance. Jesus addressed that misapplication of the governmental mandate, saying essentially, “You’ve perverted the law of God to the point of thinking you’re supposed to hate your enemy. I’m here to tell you God wants you to love your enemy and do good to those who do evil to you” (see Matt. 5:43–45).

Obey Jesus by saying to yourself, “These believers ought to know better, but in spite of how wickedly they’ve treated me, I’m going to return their hostility with goodness.” That applies not only to believers but also to all who mistreat us. As Paul said it, “Always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people” (1 Thess. 5:15). He expanded on the same concept to the Galatians: “While we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith” (Gal. 6:10).

The church or fellowship group does well as a whole when the shepherds and the sheep bond together to correct the wayward, encourage the worried, hold up the weak, be patient with the wearisome, and repay the wicked with love. That is the bigger picture on attacking anxiety.

THE VERY BASICS OF END TIME PROPHECY PART 11

BASIC PROPHECY

END OF THE GREAT TRIBULATION

Two great events will bring the Tribulation to a close—the War of Armageddon and the second coming of Christ. As the Antichrist leads the armies of the world against Israel with genocidal intent, Jesus Christ will return to earth, accompanied by the armies of heaven.

Jesus will seize the Antichrist and the false prophet and cast them alive into the lake of fire. At the Second Coming, the Old Testament saints and believers who died during the Tribulation will be resurrected.

After the Tribulation, in Matthew 24:29, the second coming of Christ is presented. He describes the signs in the heavens that will indicate that the Son of Man is coming, and finally the gathering of His chosen ones from around the world.

THE WAR OF ARMAGEDDON

The word Armageddon is found only one time in the Bible (Revelation 16:16), yet this one word is probably the most familiar biblical term from end times prophecy.

The word Armageddon is made up of two words in Hebrew: Har (mountain) and Megiddo (a city in the northern part of ancient Israel). The ancient city of Megiddo was built on a hill, and it is therefore called the mountain of Megiddo—Armageddon. The city of Megiddo overlooks a beautiful, large valley known as the Plain of Esdraelon. The armies of the earth will gather here in the last days and face total defeat by the returning King from heaven (Revelation 16:12-16; 19:19-21).

Armageddon is also often equated with the last battle or war on earth, but this is not the case. The last war in history will be the final revolt of Satan in Revelation 20:7-11 called Gog and Magog (not to be confused with the Gog and Magog invasion at the beginning of the tribulation). This war occurs one thousand years after Armageddon.

Armageddon is the climactic war of the Great Tribulation when all the armies of the earth gather to attack Israel and attempt to finally eradicate the Jewish people. They will capture Jerusalem, but then Jesus Christ will return to destroy the invading armies and deliver the faithful Jewish remnant.

The War of Armageddon is the subject of many biblical passages. Here are ten key Scriptures:

  1. Psalm 2
  2. Isaiah 34:1-16
  3. Isaiah 63:1-6
  4. Joel 3:1-17
  5. Zechariah 12:1-9
  6. Zechariah 14:1-15
  7. Malachi 4:1-5
  8. Revelation 14:14-20
  9. Revelation 16:12-16
  10. Revelation 19:19-21

The most vivid description of the severity and brutality of Armageddon is found in Revelation 14:17-20. The Lord is saying that at Armageddon He is going to throw all the nations into His great winepress and that His intense, blood-splattering judgment will extend throughout Israel from Megiddo to Bozrah.

Some believe they will gather from all over the world to challenge the Antichrist. After all, by the end of the Tribulation, with all God’s judgments pouring forth, the world will be in terrible shape. The nations may view the Antichrist as the source of the trouble and want to destroy him. Others believe that the armies are gathered to finally eradicate the Jewish people. The latter makes more sense because Revelation 16:13-16 indicates that the unclean spirits (demons) that gather the armies together will emanate from Satan, the Antichrist, and the false prophet. It doesn’t make sense that the Antichrist would gather the armies together to destroy himself.

Phase 1 – The Euphrates River dries up, preparing the way for the kings of the east (Revelation 16:12).

Phase 2 – The Antichrist’s allies assemble (Revelation 16:12-16). The armies assemble to annihilate the Jews once and for all.

Phase 3 – The armies attack Jerusalem, and it falls (Zechariah 14:1-3).

Phase 4 – Jesus Christ returns personally to the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4).

Phase 5 – Christ and the armies of the Lord destroy the armies gathered against Jerusalem in the Valley of Jehoshaphat (Joel 3:9-17; Zechariah 12:1-9; Zechariah 14:3).

Phase 6 – Christ descends upon Bozrah/Edom—in modern Jordan—to destroy its inhabitants and to deliver the Jewish remnant (Isaiah 34:1-7; 63:1-5; Joel 3:19). Earlier, when the Antichrist breaks his covenant with Israel and sets up the abomination of desolation, one-third of the Jewish people will flee into the hills and the wilderness, where they will be supernaturally protected by God for 3½ years from the ravages of the Antichrist and Satan (Revelation 12:6, 14). The Scriptures seem to indicate that they will hide in the rock city of Petra in the southern part of modern Jordan (Micah 2:12-13; Daniel 11:41).

Phase 7 – The armies at Armageddon are destroyed (Revelation 16:16; 19:19-21). At Armageddon, the Antichrist will rally the remaining troops to fight against the Lord Jesus and His army (Revelation 19:19). Jesus won’t have to lift a finger. The sword of His word will smite the nations (Revelation 19:15).

First is the great bird supper (Matthew 24:28; Luke 17:37; Revelation 19:17-21): carcasses will fill the entire region; the birds of the air will gather to feed on the carnage. Second, the Antichrist and the false prophet will be cast alive into the lake of fire forever (Revelation 19:20). These two pawns of Satan will be the first two occupants of the lake of fire. Thus ends the campaign of Armageddon. There will be no more war on earth for one thousand years.

THE SECOND COMING – REVELATION 19:11-13 MATTHEW 24:27-30

Jesus will return to the earth from the same place He left—the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4). He will be accompanied by a great crowd. This crowd will follow in His entourage as He splits the clouds riding on a white stallion. This crowd will be made up of both angels and redeemed human beings. All believers in Christ have a roundtrip ticket. All who have been raptured will return to the earth with Jesus at His second coming, the climax of the Tribulation. (Zechariah 14:5, 1 Thessalonians 3:13, Jude 1:14, Revelation 19:11, 14)

The coming of Christ to earth will fulfill the numerous promises that He will come again (Zechariah 14:4; Matthew 25:31; Acts 1:9-11). Christ Is Coming to defeat the Antichrist and his armies (Revelation 19:19-21). Christ is also coming to regather and restore faithful Israel and to judge the living.

When Christ returns, all the Gentiles who survived the Tribulation will appear before Him. He will determine if they can enter His Kingdom (Matthew 25:31-46). This judgment is called the judgment of the “sheep and the goats.”

After the Second Coming (Revelation 19:11-21), one of the next events is the resurrection of Old Testament and Tribulation believers to reign with Christ (Revelation 20:4-6; Daniel 12:1-4).

Lastly, Christ is coming to bind the devil (Revelation 20:1-3) and to establish Himself as King (Revelation 19:16). He will return as King of kings and Lord of lords! He will sit on His glorious throne and reign over the earth (Isaiah 9:6-7; Daniel 2:44; Matthew 19:28; Luke 1:32-33).

Acts 1:11 says, “This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven” (NASB).

His coming will not be hidden but will be visible to all the world. Matthew 24:23-27 describes His coming.

Suddenly As the lightning flashes in the east and shines to the west, so it will be when the Son of Man comes. (Matthew 24:27, Revelation 3:3)

Immediately after the anguish of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will give no light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. (Matthew 24:29)

Gloriously (Matthew 24:30) Jesus will return as King of kings and Lord of lords. Every creature will bow before Him and be subject to His authority (Philippians 2:11).

SEVENTY-FIVE DAYS TO GLORY

There seems to be an interval of time between the second coming of Christ and the official inauguration of the millennial kingdom. Daniel 12:1-3 describes the time of coming Tribulation for Israel and then the resurrection of Old Testament saints. The Tribulation for Israel will last 1,260 days, which is 3½ years (Daniel 12:7). This is the latter half of the seven-year Tribulation. Then, after these great events we read the enigmatic words in Daniel 12:11-12: “From the time the daily sacrifice is stopped and the sacrilegious object that causes desecration is set up to be worshiped, there will be 1,290 days. And blessed are those who wait and remain until the end of the 1,335 days!”

The 1,260 days is not too difficult since this time period is frequently set forth in Daniel and Revelation as the final 3½ years of the Tribulation. The 1,290 days is thirty days beyond the end of the Tribulation, and the 1,335 days is another forty-five days beyond that. These time periods describe an interval of time between the end of the Tribulation and Christ’s second coming and the beginning of the Millennium.

While we cannot be certain about everything that will transpire during this time, it is safe to say that during this time period Christ will remove the abomination of desolation, cast the Antichrist and the false prophet into the lake of fire (Revelation 19:20), throw Satan into the abyss (Revelation 20:1-3), judge those living on the earth (Matthew 25:31-46), resurrect and reward Old Testament and Tribulation saints (Daniel 12:1-3), and assign responsibilities for the administration of His Kingdom. During this interval, the celebration of the marriage supper will begin on the earth (Revelation 19:7-10), and possibly the construction of the millennial Temple will commence as well (Ezekiel 40–48).

The fact that those who make it to the 1,335 days are blessed means that they have made it to the beginning of the millennial kingdom (Daniel 12:12). They have come through the judgments and are allowed to enter the kingdom.

IMPRISONMENT OF SATAN

Both amillennialists and postmillennialists contend that the binding of Satan occurred at the first coming of Christ and that Satan is bound right now during this present age. They often view the casting of Satan from heaven in Revelation 12:7-9 as parallel with Luke 10:18-19. They point to Mark 3:27 and Matthew 12:25-29 as the fulfillment of the binding of Satan during the earthly ministry of Christ. For them, Satan’s activity and power are restricted during this present age. However, this contradicts the way Satan is pictured in the New Testament. Satan is called “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30), “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), “an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14), “the commander of the powers in the unseen world” (Ephesians 2:2), and he is “like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). The devil schemes against believers (2 Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 6:11), hinders us (1 Thessalonians 2:18), accuses us (Revelation 12:10), and blinds the minds of the lost (2 Corinthians 4:4). Satan is anything but bound today. He is aggressively opposing the work of God. As someone once said, “If Satan is bound today he must have an awfully long chain.” Satan is characterized as the arch-deceiver in the New Testament. Yet, Revelation 20:3 says that when he is bound Satan will “not deceive the nations anymore.” This does not fit the current situation. It demands a later time after the Lord’s coming.

Revelation 20:1-3 is very precise and specific in its description of Satan’s binding. It describes four distinct actions by the angel who binds him. Satan is “laid hold of,” “bound,” “[thrown] into the abyss,” and the abyss is “shut and sealed over him” (NASB). The language is very compelling and clear. Nothing even similar to this happened at the first coming of Christ. But it will happen when Christ returns, after which Christ will reign for a thousand years (Revelation 20:4-6).

Amillennialists and postmillennialists have a serious problem explaining Satan’s release at the end of the one thousand years, which they take to be the present age. Revelation 20:1-7 specifically mentions “a thousand years” six times. Whenever John mentions a time period that is general or nonspecific, he identifies it as such by phrases like “a little longer” (Revelation 6:11) or “little time” (12:12). Revelation 20:3 says that at the end of the one thousand years Satan will be released for “a little while.”

RESURRECTION IN REVELATION 20:1-6

Premillennialists maintain that the resurrection in Revelation 20:5 refers to physical, bodily resurrection at the end of history. The Millennium must occur after the return of Christ and the resurrection of the dead.

DEALING WITH FEAR AND ANXIETY (PART 5)

FEAR

5

KNOWING OTHERS ARE LOOKING OUT FOR YOU

Fellow Believers at Your Service

One of the best ways we can be helped in our struggle with anxiety is when we serve one another with the same diligence as the angels serve us. Does that sound impossible? It’s not. The same God who equips the angels to serve us also equips us to serve one another. Paul said, “There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God who worketh all in all” (1 Cor. 12:4–6 SCO). God has given a variety of gifts to His church.

Using Our Gifts

Some of the gifts were of a temporary nature; others were and are permanent. The permanent ones are these:

  • Prophecy (Rom. 12:6; 1 Cor. 14:3), the ability to preach or proclaim God’s truth to others for their growth, correction, and comfort.
  • Teaching (Rom. 12:7), the ability to teach the truths of God’s Word.
  • Faith (1 Cor. 12:9), the ability to trust God without doubt or disturbance, regardless of one’s circumstances. People who are especially prone to anxiety would do well to get to know individuals gifted in this way and follow their example.
  • Wisdom (1 Cor. 12:8), the ability to apply spiritual truth to life. Believers gifted this way are also good models for the anxious.
  • Knowledge (1 Cor. 12:8), the ability to understand facts. It is the academic side of comprehending biblical truth.
  • Discernment (1 Cor. 12:10), the ability to distinguish truth from error —to discern what is of God and what is satanic deception.
  • Mercy (Rom. 12:8), the ability to demonstrate Christ’s love in acts of
  • Exhortation (Rom. 12:8), the ability to encourage, counsel, and comfort others with biblical truth and Christian love. Those prone to anxiety need to be humble enough to listen and value what these gifted individuals have to say.
  • Giving (Rom. 12:8), the ability to provide for the Lord’s work and for others who have difficulty meeting their own material needs. It flows from a decision to commit all earthly possessions to the Lord.
  • Administration (Rom. 12:8; 1 Cor. 12:28), the ability to organize and lead in spiritual endeavors. It is also known as the gift of ruling or government.
  • Helps (Rom. 12:7; 1 Cor. 12:28), the ability to serve faithfully behind the scenes, assisting the work of the ministry in practical ways.

All spiritual gifts are designed for the good of the church (1 Cor. 14:26 NIV). My gifts are not for my benefit, and your gifts are not for your benefit. We must build up and assist one another “until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13).

Fellowship is an interchange of mutual care and concern through the agency of our spiritual gifts. Some of the ways that interchange manifests itself are when we:

  • Confess our faults to one another (James 5:16).
  • Edify one another (1 Thess. 5:11; Rom. 14:19).
  • Bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2).
  • Pray for one another (James 5:16).
  • Are kind to one another (Eph. 4:32).
  • Submit to one another (Eph. 5:21).
  • Show hospitality to one another (1 Peter 4:9).
  • Serve one another (Gal. 5:13; 1 Peter 4:10).
  • Comfort one another (1 Thess. 4:18).
  • Restore one another (Gal. 6:1).
  • Forgive one another (2 Cor. 2:7; Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:13).
  • Admonish one another (Rom. 15:14; Col. 3:16).
  • Teach one another (Col. 3:16).
  • Exhort one another (Heb. 3:13; 10:25).
  • Love one another (Rom. 13:8; 1 Thess. 3:12; 4:9; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11).

Love is the key to effective ministry. Where love exists there is true humility, which is an essential ingredient in mutual ministries and freedom from anxiety. Pride and anxiety focus on self, whereas humility focuses on others.

If pride is hindering your ministry, concentrate on knowing Christ more intimately through prayer and Bible study. The more you understand His power and glory, the more humble you will be. Then you will give yourself more readily to others as Christ gave Himself to you.

Sharing Our Love

As a human body has connected tissues, muscles, bones, ligaments, and organs, the body of Christ is composed of members who are responsible to one another. No member exists detached from the rest of the body any more than lungs can lie on the floor in the next room and keep a person breathing. The health of the body, its witness, and its testimony are dependent on all members faithfully ministering to one another.

The church was never intended to be only a building—a place where lonely people walk in, listen, and walk out still alone—but a place of fellowship. In his book Dare to Live Now! Bruce Larson said,

“The neighborhood bar is possibly the best counterfeit there is to the fellowship Christ wants to give His Church. It’s an imitation, dispensing liquor instead of grace, escape rather than reality. But it is a permissive, accepting, and inclusive fellowship. It is unshockable, it is democratic. You can tell people secrets and they usually don’t tell others, or want to. The bar flourishes not because most people are alcoholics, but because God has put into the human heart the desire to know and be known, to love, and be loved, and so many seek a counterfeit at the price of a few beers. “

This need for fellowship is not met simply by attending the Sunday services, whether they be small groups where everyone is known or large congregations where that is not the case. A desperate need for personal, intimate fellowship exists in the church today. And this fellowship, like the gifts, is intrinsic to exhibiting practical unity. Finding a good church fellowship is no small matter in our onslaught against anxiety.

In true fellowship Christians don’t judge one another; they don’t bite and devour each other; they don’t provoke, envy, lie to one another, speak evil, or grumble about one another. Since true fellowship builds up, the godly will receive one another and be kind and tenderhearted toward one another. They will bear with and forgive one another, serve one another, practice hospitality ungrudgingly to one another, correct, instruct, submit to one another, and comfort one another. That is the true fellowship of Christ’s body—life touching life to bring blessing and spiritual growth.

Too often Christians place themselves inside little glass bubbles and try to look like super saints, as if they hadn’t a problem or worry in the world. They aren’t willing to share openly and expose their sins to a fellow believer. They don’t know what it is to have another believer say, “That’s the same thing I’m going through. Let’s pray for each other.”

Confessing our sins to one another results in a purer fellowship of people who know and love one another—who understand one another’s needs, anxieties, and temptations. What strength resides in such a community!

Here is a key principle that all Christian communities should operate by: “If a Christian is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help him back onto the right path, remembering that next time it might be one of you who is in the wrong” (Gal. 6:1 TLB). Pick him or her up and say, “Let me show you from the Word of God what is going on. Let’s pray together. Let’s walk on the right track together.” That is restorative care. We as Christians haven’t done our duty if we only rebuke. We need to come alongside and restore —in love.

That verse is perhaps the clearest example from Scripture of how we as believers are to look out for one another. In attacking anxiety, be encouraged to know that angels are looking out for you, but also make a point of knowing and being known by mature believers in a context of ministering to each other. The responsibility of finding such a fellowship is yours. Never underestimate the power of godly fellowship in bearing the burden of your anxieties.

THE VERY BASICS OF END TIME PROPHECY PART 10

BASIC PROPHECY

END OF THE GREAT TRIBULATION

Two great events will bring the Tribulation to a close—the War of Armageddon and the second coming of Christ. As the Antichrist leads the armies of the world against Israel with genocidal intent, Jesus Christ will return to earth, accompanied by the armies of heaven.

Jesus will seize the Antichrist and the false prophet and cast them alive into the lake of fire. At the Second Coming, the Old Testament saints and believers who died during the Tribulation will be resurrected.

After the Tribulation, in Matthew 24:29, the second coming of Christ is presented. He describes the signs in the heavens that will indicate that the Son of Man is coming, and finally the gathering of His chosen ones from around the world.

THE WAR OF ARMAGEDDON

The word Armageddon is found only one time in the Bible (Revelation 16:16), yet this one word is probably the most familiar biblical term from end times prophecy.

The word Armageddon is made up of two words in Hebrew: Har (mountain) and Megiddo (a city in the northern part of ancient Israel). The ancient city of Megiddo was built on a hill, and it is therefore called the mountain of Megiddo—Armageddon. The city of Megiddo overlooks a beautiful, large valley known as the Plain of Esdraelon. The armies of the earth will gather here in the last days and face total defeat by the returning King from heaven (Revelation 16:12-16; 19:19-21).

Armageddon is also often equated with the last battle or war on earth, but this is not the case. The last war in history will be the final revolt of Satan in Revelation 20:7-11 called Gog and Magog (not to be confused with the Gog and Magog invasion at the beginning of the tribulation). This war occurs one thousand years after Armageddon.

Armageddon is the climactic war of the Great Tribulation when all the armies of the earth gather to attack Israel and attempt to finally eradicate the Jewish people. They will capture Jerusalem, but then Jesus Christ will return to destroy the invading armies and deliver the faithful Jewish remnant.

The War of Armageddon is the subject of many biblical passages. Here are ten key Scriptures:

  1. Psalm 2
  2. Isaiah 34:1-16
  3. Isaiah 63:1-6
  4. Joel 3:1-17
  5. Zechariah 12:1-9
  6. Zechariah 14:1-15
  7. Malachi 4:1-5
  8. Revelation 14:14-20
  9. Revelation 16:12-16
  10. Revelation 19:19-21

The most vivid description of the severity and brutality of Armageddon is found in Revelation 14:17-20. The Lord is saying that at Armageddon He is going to throw all the nations into His great winepress and that His intense, blood-splattering judgment will extend throughout Israel from Megiddo to Bozrah.

Some believe they will gather from all over the world to challenge the Antichrist. After all, by the end of the Tribulation, with all God’s judgments pouring forth, the world will be in terrible shape. The nations may view the Antichrist as the source of the trouble and want to destroy him. Others believe that the armies are gathered to finally eradicate the Jewish people. The latter makes more sense because Revelation 16:13-16 indicates that the unclean spirits (demons) that gather the armies together will emanate from Satan, the Antichrist, and the false prophet. It doesn’t make sense that the Antichrist would gather the armies together to destroy himself.

Phase 1 – The Euphrates River dries up, preparing the way for the kings of the east (Revelation 16:12).

Phase 2 – The Antichrist’s allies assemble (Revelation 16:12-16). The armies assemble to annihilate the Jews once and for all.

Phase 3 – The armies attack Jerusalem, and it falls (Zechariah 14:1-3).

Phase 4 – Jesus Christ returns personally to the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4).

Phase 5 – Christ and the armies of the Lord destroy the armies gathered against Jerusalem in the Valley of Jehoshaphat (Joel 3:9-17; Zechariah 12:1-9; Zechariah 14:3).

Phase 6 – Christ descends upon Bozrah/Edom—in modern Jordan—to destroy its inhabitants and to deliver the Jewish remnant (Isaiah 34:1-7; 63:1-5; Joel 3:19). Earlier, when the Antichrist breaks his covenant with Israel and sets up the abomination of desolation, one-third of the Jewish people will flee into the hills and the wilderness, where they will be supernaturally protected by God for 3½ years from the ravages of the Antichrist and Satan (Revelation 12:6, 14). The Scriptures seem to indicate that they will hide in the rock city of Petra in the southern part of modern Jordan (Micah 2:12-13; Daniel 11:41).

Phase 7 – The armies at Armageddon are destroyed (Revelation 16:16; 19:19-21). At Armageddon, the Antichrist will rally the remaining troops to fight against the Lord Jesus and His army (Revelation 19:19). Jesus won’t have to lift a finger. The sword of His word will smite the nations (Revelation 19:15).

First is the great bird supper (Matthew 24:28; Luke 17:37; Revelation 19:17-21): carcasses will fill the entire region; the birds of the air will gather to feed on the carnage. Second, the Antichrist and the false prophet will be cast alive into the lake of fire forever (Revelation 19:20). These two pawns of Satan will be the first two occupants of the lake of fire. Thus ends the campaign of Armageddon. There will be no more war on earth for one thousand years.

THE SECOND COMING – REVELATION 19:11-13 MATTHEW 24:27-30

Jesus will return to the earth from the same place He left—the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4). He will be accompanied by a great crowd. This crowd will follow in His entourage as He splits the clouds riding on a white stallion. This crowd will be made up of both angels and redeemed human beings. All believers in Christ have a roundtrip ticket. All who have been raptured will return to the earth with Jesus at His second coming, the climax of the Tribulation. (Zechariah 14:5, 1 Thessalonians 3:13, Jude 1:14, Revelation 19:11, 14)

The coming of Christ to earth will fulfill the numerous promises that He will come again (Zechariah 14:4; Matthew 25:31; Acts 1:9-11). Christ Is Coming to defeat the Antichrist and his armies (Revelation 19:19-21). Christ is also coming to regather and restore faithful Israel and to judge the living.

When Christ returns, all the Gentiles who survived the Tribulation will appear before Him. He will determine if they can enter His Kingdom (Matthew 25:31-46). This judgment is called the judgment of the “sheep and the goats.”

After the Second Coming (Revelation 19:11-21), one of the next events is the resurrection of Old Testament and Tribulation believers to reign with Christ (Revelation 20:4-6; Daniel 12:1-4).

Lastly, Christ is coming to bind the devil (Revelation 20:1-3) and to establish Himself as King (Revelation 19:16). He will return as King of kings and Lord of lords! He will sit on His glorious throne and reign over the earth (Isaiah 9:6-7; Daniel 2:44; Matthew 19:28; Luke 1:32-33).

Acts 1:11 says, “This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven” (NASB).

His coming will not be hidden but will be visible to all the world. Matthew 24:23-27 describes His coming.

Suddenly As the lightning flashes in the east and shines to the west, so it will be when the Son of Man comes. (Matthew 24:27, Revelation 3:3)

Immediately after the anguish of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will give no light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. (Matthew 24:29)

Gloriously (Matthew 24:30) Jesus will return as King of kings and Lord of lords. Every creature will bow before Him and be subject to His authority (Philippians 2:11).

SEVENTY-FIVE DAYS TO GLORY

There seems to be an interval of time between the second coming of Christ and the official inauguration of the millennial kingdom. Daniel 12:1-3 describes the time of coming Tribulation for Israel and then the resurrection of Old Testament saints. The Tribulation for Israel will last 1,260 days, which is 3½ years (Daniel 12:7). This is the latter half of the seven-year Tribulation. Then, after these great events we read the enigmatic words in Daniel 12:11-12: “From the time the daily sacrifice is stopped and the sacrilegious object that causes desecration is set up to be worshiped, there will be 1,290 days. And blessed are those who wait and remain until the end of the 1,335 days!”

The 1,260 days is not too difficult since this time period is frequently set forth in Daniel and Revelation as the final 3½ years of the Tribulation. The 1,290 days is thirty days beyond the end of the Tribulation, and the 1,335 days is another forty-five days beyond that. These time periods describe an interval of time between the end of the Tribulation and Christ’s second coming and the beginning of the Millennium.

While we cannot be certain about everything that will transpire during this time, it is safe to say that during this time period Christ will remove the abomination of desolation, cast the Antichrist and the false prophet into the lake of fire (Revelation 19:20), throw Satan into the abyss (Revelation 20:1-3), judge those living on the earth (Matthew 25:31-46), resurrect and reward Old Testament and Tribulation saints (Daniel 12:1-3), and assign responsibilities for the administration of His Kingdom. During this interval, the celebration of the marriage supper will begin on the earth (Revelation 19:7-10), and possibly the construction of the millennial Temple will commence as well (Ezekiel 40–48).

The fact that those who make it to the 1,335 days are blessed means that they have made it to the beginning of the millennial kingdom (Daniel 12:12). They have come through the judgments and are allowed to enter the kingdom.

IMPRISONMENT OF SATAN

Both amillennialists and postmillennialists contend that the binding of Satan occurred at the first coming of Christ and that Satan is bound right now during this present age. They often view the casting of Satan from heaven in Revelation 12:7-9 as parallel with Luke 10:18-19. They point to Mark 3:27 and Matthew 12:25-29 as the fulfillment of the binding of Satan during the earthly ministry of Christ. For them, Satan’s activity and power are restricted during this present age. However, this contradicts the way Satan is pictured in the New Testament. Satan is called “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30), “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), “an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14), “the commander of the powers in the unseen world” (Ephesians 2:2), and he is “like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). The devil schemes against believers (2 Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 6:11), hinders us (1 Thessalonians 2:18), accuses us (Revelation 12:10), and blinds the minds of the lost (2 Corinthians 4:4). Satan is anything but bound today. He is aggressively opposing the work of God. As someone once said, “If Satan is bound today he must have an awfully long chain.” Satan is characterized as the arch-deceiver in the New Testament. Yet, Revelation 20:3 says that when he is bound Satan will “not deceive the nations anymore.” This does not fit the current situation. It demands a later time after the Lord’s coming.

Revelation 20:1-3 is very precise and specific in its description of Satan’s binding. It describes four distinct actions by the angel who binds him. Satan is “laid hold of,” “bound,” “[thrown] into the abyss,” and the abyss is “shut and sealed over him” (NASB). The language is very compelling and clear. Nothing even similar to this happened at the first coming of Christ. But it will happen when Christ returns, after which Christ will reign for a thousand years (Revelation 20:4-6).

Amillennialists and postmillennialists have a serious problem explaining Satan’s release at the end of the one thousand years, which they take to be the present age. Revelation 20:1-7 specifically mentions “a thousand years” six times. Whenever John mentions a time period that is general or nonspecific, he identifies it as such by phrases like “a little longer” (Revelation 6:11) or “little time” (12:12). Revelation 20:3 says that at the end of the one thousand years Satan will be released for “a little while.”

RESURRECTION IN REVELATION 20:1-6

Premillennialists maintain that the resurrection in Revelation 20:5 refers to physical, bodily resurrection at the end of history. The Millennium must occur after the return of Christ and the resurrection of the dead.

DEALING WITH FEAR AND ANXIETY (PART 4)

FEAR

4

LIVING A LIFE OF FAITH AND TRUST

George Müller was a well-known Christian evangelist and the director of the Ashley Down orphanage in Bristol. Unlike many today who say they “live by faith,” the Müllers never told anyone but God of their need for funds. He always abundantly provided through their thankful prayers and humble waiting on Him. George Müller said, “Where faith begins, anxiety ends; where anxiety begins, faith ends.”

Hebrews 11 and 12 can basically be called the “faith” chapters of the Bible. Chapter 11 gives a general definition of faith and a slew of Old Testament examples. Chapter 12 sums up the principles of living by faith. As we will see, there’s much more to it than the contemporary sense that limits it to handling one’s personal finances.

Lay Aside Any Encumbrance

The writer of Hebrews said to “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1). The effective runner gets rid of the bulk and runs with the bare minimum.

Similarly, in the race of faith we need to strip off anything that will hold us back. Many things can weigh us down and hold us back in the Christian life: Materialism, sexual immorality, and excessive ambition are just a few that are common in our society. One of the things the writer of Hebrews probably had in mind was legalism. He was writing to a predominantly Jewish audience that struggled with that issue. They were trying to run the race with all their Jewish ceremonies, rituals, and rites. In essence, this writer said, “Get rid of all of that and run the race of faith. Live by faith, not Jewish works.”

Many Christians still live by works. They believe if they do certain things, God is obliged to keep score and say, “That’s wonderful: You went to a Bible study, had a quiet time in the Word today, did something nice for your neighbor, and went to church.” If those things are done in the overflow of one’s love for Jesus Christ as acts of devotion, that’s great. But there are many Christians who think they are meriting God’s favor that way. Instead of Jewish legalism, it’s Christian legalism.

Another weight or sin that “so easily entangles us” is doubt. A believer may strongly sense in his or her heart the truth of Philippians 4:19—“God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus”—but become filled with anxiety when financial trouble comes. When we worry, we are doubting that God can keep His promises, and that dishonors Him.

What is our protection against doubt? Paul said that above all, take “up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Eph. 6:16). When Satan fires his temptations, we stop them with the shield of faith. It’s arming ourselves with an attitude that says, “Satan, you’re a big liar. Nothing you say is true, but everything God says is true, so I’m going to believe God.”

Look to Jesus

The writer of Hebrews also said we’re to be “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). Jesus is the greatest example of faith who ever lived because He had the most to lose.

He came into the world as a man, bore the sins of the world, and died in the confidence that He would be raised by the Father and exalted once again. His act of faith remains forever unsurpassed. Our Lord Jesus Christ endured unimaginable suffering, but in believing God, He was victorious. That is why we’re to focus on Him.

The phrase “fixing our eyes on Jesus” is literally translated “looking away to Jesus.” Having the right focus is essential to completing any goal successfully. Your focal point must be beyond yourself. In fact, the sooner you take your eyes off yourself the better off you will be. When you run in a race, you shouldn’t look at your feet. You shouldn’t even look too intently at the other runners, comparing yourself too readily with other believers and jealously desire their faith or experiences.

What awaits us at the finish line of the race of faith? Joy and triumph. Jesus endured the cross “for the joy set before Him” (Heb. 12:2). For Jesus it was the joy of again being seated “at the right hand of the throne of God” (v. 2).

Ultimately, our real joy and reward as believers is to be in heaven with Christ, but here and now we can experience a great sense of triumph when we have victory over temptation. As you know, there are plenty of temptations to face. Here are some familiar voices, perhaps one being your own: “It’s not easy being a Christian. I’m ridiculed at work.… They short me on my office supplies.… My philosophy teacher attacks my beliefs in class.… My spouse makes our home life difficult.… It’s getting harder and harder to be a Christian in our society because we’re getting close to the end times.”

On that last point, more than ever I hear believers say, “We’re worried about what’s happening in the world. If things don’t change in our country real fast, we’re finished.” Christians shouldn’t live that way. We don’t live by the news; we live by faith in God.

The author of Hebrews was keenly aware that many such concerns in running the Christian marathon would plague us. Therefore, this is what he said to do: “Consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin” (Heb. 12:3–4). In other words, “I don’t see any of you bleeding. It may be a little rough at work, you may get hassled in class, and you probably won’t get preferential treatment by the government or anyone else, but you haven’t been crucified like Someone I know.”

When you start thinking it’s too tough to live the Christian life, consider One who endured such hostility that He went as far as death—and realize you haven’t gone that far yet. Having that in mind has a way of keeping your anxieties in check. When you grow weary in the race, focus that much more on Jesus. Remember that His life of faith led to joy and triumph, and yours will too.

Praise God Now

As mentioned earlier, the Christian’s joy isn’t relegated only to the future. A great part of our future will be devoted to joyfully praising God, and that’s something we can begin doing now. Proud people don’t praise God; they’re too consumed with themselves. Humble people are in awe of Him; thankful praise pours naturally from their hearts. The benefits of humility and thankful prayer join as one in praise, which in turn provides us with an awesome weapon in our growing arsenal for attacking anxious thoughts and feelings.

The Example of the Psalms

The point, as the author of Hebrews would say, is to get our focus off ourselves and onto God. Anxiety cannot survive in an environment of praise to God.

Praise is so much a part of God’s pattern for His people that He left us with a hymnbook filled with it. The Psalms are great hymns that the people of Israel sang and spoke. God wanted them—and us—to continually offer Him the praise of which He is so worthy. “It is good to give thanks to the LORD and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; to declare Your lovingkindness in the morning and Your faithfulness by night” (Ps. 92:1–2). Praising the Lord morning and night sets the tone for our lives.

Aspects of Praise

What exactly does it mean to praise God? Some think it is singing a song. Some think it is saying, “Praise the Lord! Hallelujah!” Some think it is waving your hands in the air. Some think it is silent prayer. What is the right answer? How do we praise the Lord? According to the Bible, true praise involves two things:

Reciting God’s Attributes

One great reason to study the Old Testament is that it powerfully reveals the character of God, enabling us to praise Him better.

For example, Habakkuk praised God for His character—that He is a holy, almighty, eternal, covenant-keeping God (Hab. 1:12–13)—and that praise solved a great problem in his own heart. He didn’t understand why God was going to judge Israel by sending the evil Chaldeans to conquer them (vv. 6–11). Habakkuk wanted God to revive and restore His people, but they had overstepped the limit of His patience.

In the midst of his confusion, Habakkuk remembered this: God is holy—He doesn’t make mistakes. God is a covenant-keeping God—He doesn’t break His promises. God is eternal—He is outside the flux of history. Following his praise, Habakkuk affirmed what we have been learning throughout this chapter, that “the righteous will live by his faith” (Hab. 2:4).

He felt better even though his circumstances hadn’t changed. God did allow the Chaldeans to overrun Israel for a time, but Habakkuk knew his God was strong enough to handle any circumstances.

Instead of worrying about problems we cannot solve, we should say, “Lord, You are bigger than history. You own everything in the entire universe. You can do anything You want to do. You love me and promise I will never be without the things I need. You said You would take care of me as You take care of the birds and the flowers. You have promised that Your character and power are at my disposal.” That kind of praise glorifies God.

Reciting God’s Works

God’s attributes are displayed in His works. The Psalms are filled with lists of the great things God has done for His people. They praise Him for parting the Red Sea, making water flow from a rock, feeding His people with manna in the wilderness, destroying their enemies, making the walls of Jericho fall, and many other powerful works.

After re-evaluating his problem, Habakkuk began to praise God for His works, trembling at the power displayed in them (Hab. 3:16). He affirmed that he would rejoice in the Lord, even if everything crumbled around him (vv. 17–18). Why? Because God had proved Himself in the past. That’s why the Old Testament contains such an extensive history of God’s works—so we can know specifically how God has proved faithful.

If you have a problem facing you that you don’t know how to solve, remember to praise God. Say to Him, “Lord, You are the God who put the stars and planets into space. You are the God who formed the earth and separated the land from the sea. Then You made humanity and everything else that lives. Although humanity fell, You planned our redemption. You are the God who carved out a nation for Yourself and preserved it through history, performing wonder after wonder for that nation. You are the God who came into this world in human form and then rose from the dead.” When we praise God like that, our problems pale in comparison to all He has done.

Remembering who God is and what He has done glorifies Him and strengthens our faith. To help you do that, read through the Psalms the next time you’re tempted to worry.