Benedict Demands Respect from Muslims
Enthroned before an audience of Islamic notebles, the pope lays out the rules.
Thursday, September 28, 2006
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This is The Bible in the News with Paul Billington. This last week we have heard the pope tell Muslim diplomats and ambassadors that he was misunderstood over his remarks made in Germany two weeks ago, and while not offering a personal apology (as had been demanded), he actually re-enforced his earlier position by saying that religion cannot be spread through violence. Saying that he "esteems" Islam, he called for a "sincere and respectful" dialogue.
What the pope did in fact, was to use the controversy as an occasion to renew the Vatican's insistence that the Muslim world respect Christianity (alias Catholicism). This message was also reflected in the seating arrangements for the occasion. The Islamic diplomats were seated around the room while the pope himself sat on a throne at the head of the gathering--see the photo on our print edition this week. Clearly the pope was THE religious leader; he was the dominant figure and was there to tell the Muslims that he wanted "respect and dialogue with reciprocity in all spheres."
Now all this underlines the fact that Scripture teaches us the identity of THE dominant religious power at the time of the end. The Roman system with its Vatican is the ecclesiastical power that says "in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow"--Revelation 18:7. This is THE false Prophet of Revelation 16:13 and chapter 19:20. The False Prophet, or false teacher, is the power that will oppose Christ when he comes. He will, through the teaching that goes forth out of his mouth, lead the nations to war against Israel--and so against God Almighty. Among those who he will influence and lead to war are to be several Islamic nations--and as we know from Ezekiel 38:5, Persia (that is Iran) will be among them. Not a difficult scene to imagine is it?
The other interesting piece of news this last week comes from a speech made by Britain's Tony Blair at the Labour Party annual Conference. He says he will soon leave office, but that fighting terrorism would remain a tough challenge for Britain, and that it was crucial for Britain to stay close to the United States. He warned: "Distance this country and you may find it's a long way back."
Blair has made these statements in the full knowledge of where Europe is heading, and what that will mean for Britain. It will be interesting to watch events in this area, bearing in mind the prophecy concerning the alliance of trading nations in the latter days. Britain will ultimately have to choose between her relationship with Europe and her alliance with the U.S. Making that choice--when the times comes--will not be straight forward, and may well involve serious civil discord. We know what the eventual outcome will be, but it may not be an easy road to get there.
The False Prophet will try to influence Britain just as he will all nations, but the purpose of God will stand in these nations as in all things. As we read in the prophecy of Isaiah:
"Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure" (Isaiah 46:9-10).
Talk with you again next week, God willing.
Printed: Thursday, September 28, 2006
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