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The World Is Not Flat
"There is no new thing under the sun"
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November 28, 2008 - Audio, 12.00 MIN
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Western companies that have outsourced thousands of jobs to India were in a panic on Wednesday evening as terrorists struck Mumbai, the capital of commerce and tourism in India… surely a portend of increased instability in a region on which they have come to increasingly rely. Welcome to the November 28th, 2008 edition of Bible in the News. This is Glenn Abel reporting.

Jews Targeted in Terrorist Attacks in Mumbai

Mumbai (formerly Bombay) is known as the capital of commerce and tourism in India. This fact made it a particularly ripe target for Islamic terrorists.  At last count, there were over 140 killed and many more injured, as terrorists struck the luxury Taj Mahal Hotel, and other hotels, restaurants, and train stations.

In line with our comments last week, in addition to targeting American and British citizens, Jews were also targeted, with the “Chabad House” being the site of a dramatic hostage situation and raging gun battles between Indian forces and the terrorists. At the time this article was written, there were reports that several Israeli captives had been killed.

It is thought that the attackers are Islamic terrorist groups based in India, potentially with some degree of support from Pakistan. The attacks were obviously carefully planned and well-executed.
Analysts expect that a new India-Pakistan crisis will take shape, as India seeks to deflect blame for allowing this to happen as well as for the disorganized response  and will grasp for any reason to blame Pakistan.

The Global “Shell Game”

During the boom times of recent years, the idea that the world had fundamentally changed became popular in the mad rush to exploit the opportunities of globalization. The bestselling book “The World Is Flat,” written by Thomas Friedman, became a work of reference for those seeking to “stay relevant” in a changing world. India and China have been leading the way in the “flattening of the global economy” and are case examples in Mr. Friedman’s book. A world of collaboration and cooperation is depicted, where the only limitation is one’s imagination.

Unfortunately, this economic globalization has turned out to be nothing more than a “shell game”, where bits and pieces are moved around, shifting debt here and there. Then, at the same time, every nation “lifted their shell”… only to find there was nothing there!

The global economic collapse and rising instability in places like India are certainly signs that this theory is going the ways of its predecessors.

Nothing New Under the Sun

Whenever someone comes along and says the world has fundamentally changed, Bible students ought to cringe. For 1 John 2:16 tells us “… all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. “

Clearly, the problem of sin, whether it is manifested politically, militarily, economically, or ecclesiastically, is at the core. This is an “inconvenient truth” which will not change until the earth is transformed by an age of righteousness.

Scriptures warn us about getting caught up in the endless cycle of the “new new thing”.

Eph 4:14: “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive”

To be fair to Mr. Friedman, he recognized that his theory of globalization could be reversed: “To all the forces mentioned in the previous chapters that are still holding back the flattening of the world, or could actually reverse the process, one has to add a more traditional threat, and that is an outbreak of a good, old-fashioned, world-shaking, economy-destroying war”.

Bible students know where things are headed, for these things have been spoken “of old”, that the nations would be gathered against Israel.

Ezekiel 38:17: “Thus saith the Lord Yahweh; Art thou he of whom I have spoken in old time by my servants the prophets of Israel, which prophesied in those days many years that I would bring thee against them?”

How true are the words of Solomon in Ecclesiastes 1:9:

Ecclesiastes 1:9: “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.”

According to the prophets of Israel, like Ezekiel, Joel, Micah, and Zechariah, the nations who would come against Israel were identified “of old”, from a geographical perspective, an economic perspective, a political perspective, and an ecclesiastical perspective. Going right back to the days of Noah’s sons, when Yahweh separated the nations in Genesis 10.

See, God’s perspective is so much higher than man’s. The kingdom of men exists to him as a single entity, stretching back through time, to the days of Nimrod. And so, we expect the nations to behave in a predictable way – like the beasts. Why else would Yahweh inform Daniel (in Daniel 7) about the kingdom of men, in its various phases, describing them as “beasts”. Because that is how He sees them!

Russian Focus on “Human Capital”

On Tuesday, the Russian government published a strategic plan for the next 4 years, setting out goals for Russia’s ministries from an economic and social perspective. The plan acknowledges “The 2009-2012 period will determine the success of Russia in achieving its long-term objectives…” Sergei Sidorenko, who is deputy head of the Institute of Economy and Social Policy, said of the plan: “It puts human capital and Russian citizen at the forefront, acknowledging that this is what ultimately determines a country’s successful development”.

Since the days of the king of Sodom in Genesis  14:21, there has always been a premium placed on “Human Capital”.

Russia, like many countries, has been dealing with the realities of an aging population, where the death rate exceeds the birth rate.  A few years back, in June 2006, Vladimir Putin, (who was then president of Russia), attempted to address this issue by putting in place a “fast-track” naturalization program, that would “encourage Russian speakers living abroad to return to Russia”. When the program was announced the goal was to enroll 300,000 people in the program. Over two years later, the program has not lived up to expectations with only 7,760 settling in Russia under the program and 30,414 on the waiting list. So this week, the program has been expanded and modified to remove restrictions, offering various incentives to bring “compatriots” home.

Meanwhile, a report in the Jerusalem Post this week was titled “Who will win over the Russians?” not referring to Russians in Russia, but referring to the significant number of Russian speaking Jews in Israel. With the Israeli election process in full swing, it seems the disaffected Russian vote is in play this year, with the various political factions trying to figure out how they can appeal to them.

Bible students noted the “concern” the Russians expressed for “compatriots” in South Ossetia this past August and wondered if this “concern” would be expressed one day for Russian “compatriots” in Israel.  It certainly seems possible, as Russian MPs seem determined to fast-track Putin back to the presidency before the economic crisis harms his popularity.

The “Old-Fashioned” Way

We know one thing, when “so called” modern ideas and policies fail, there is always a fall-back to doing things the “old fashioned” way:

Zechariah 14:1-2: “Behold, the day of Yahweh cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. [2] For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity…”

So much for the “Flat Earth” theory that man can orchestrate a new age of global economic cooperation and prosperity.

So much for repatriation and immigration policies.

The Scriptures predict a return to the Assyrian way of doing business as the final manifestation of the kingdom of men assembles itself against the mountains of Israel, only to “come to his end”, for “none shall help him” (Dan 11:45).

Daniel 2:44: “And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.”

Heed the More Sure Word of Prophecy

If we view Bible prophecy as simply “predictions” of the future, we miss an important part of the message. Yahweh intends for us to “take heed” – in other words, in light of what is going to happen, what is our response now, during our days of opportunity?

The Apostle Peter writes in 2 Peter 1:19:

2 Peter 1:19: “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts”

Let us then, as students of God’s Holy Word, not be swayed by the headlines; but rather, turn to the more sure word of prophecy, which illuminates the machinations of the world for what they truly are, and assures us that God is in control.

Most importantly, let us be certain to “take heed”, by trimming our “lamps”, and keeping our “garments”, as we see the day of Messiah’s return approaching.

Even so, come Lord Jesus.

Join us again next week, for more Bible in the News.

Bible in the News provides a weekly analysis of world politics and events
in the light of Bible prophecy — the Bible in the News!