Commentary on world events that relate to Bible prophecy and on Rapture Ready issues world events.

Feb 13, 2012

Has America Become the Hotel California?

In 1979, the Eagles rock band released their most successful album, "Hotel California." When the title song became a huge success, evangelical Christians began wondering if the "Hotel California" referred to a San Francisco hotel purchased by Anton LaVey and converted into the Church of Satan. LaVey's hotel was located on California Street.

Over the years, the members of Eagles strongly denied any connection to satanism. However, many of their explanations conflicted with each other. The Eagles' manager, Larry Salter, spilled the beans in a February 28, 1982, Waco Tribune-Herald interview in which he admitted that the Eagles were involved with the church of Satan.

There are several clues in the lyrics of Hotel California that point to the dark side: "I was thinking to myself/this could be heaven or this could be hell," and "We are all just prisoners here, of our own device" are two that stand out. But the most chilling verses are the ones that end the song:

Relax, said the night man,
We are programmed to receive.
You can check out any time you like,
But you can never leave!

A series of recent events has started me wondering if America has become the Hotel California. When I was a kid, Ronald Reagan called the U.S. the "last stand for liberty." Today, I see a government that has an endless desire to manage my life, and it has me questioning how long the label "land of the free" can remain valid.

What made America free is the understanding that anyone can come and go as he or she pleases. We're now seeing signs that the door of free movement is starting to close.

The State Department has just made it harder for anyone seeking to become a full citizen of another nation. Under new consular fees, the cost of renouncing U.S. citizenship skyrocketed from $0 to $450.

It’s getting more expensive to have the right to visit other nations. The application fee for a passport is jumping by 27 percent, from $55 to $70, with a 100-percent increase, from $20 to $40, in the passport security surcharge. The State Department has also tacked new fees to have additional pages added to a U.S. passport. Before, this service was free.

For decades, there was a friendly border-crossing agreement between Canada and the United States. U.S. citizens were not required to present a passport to enter Canada. In 2004, the friendly border began closing. As of 2009, everyone going in or coming from Canada is required to have documentation.

You might be surprised to learn that the U.S. is the only nation on earth that taxes your entire worldwide income, regardless of where you live. The original intent of these laws was to get rich people with Swiss bank accounts. The IRS has now begun using these old laws to go after anyone who falls within their grasp. Anyone born with U.S. citizens for parents is a citizen and has to pay taxes, regardless of the fact that he or she has never lived here.

What is troubling about all these fees and requirements for documentation is that they can be used to restrict our movement. If the government raised the cost of renouncing your citizenship to $4,000 or demanded a six-month wait to get a passport, most people would be trapped by these hurdles.

The growing difficulty of leaving the U.S. is reminiscent of the methods used by the Nazis to block the movement of Jews in the days before WWII. At first, Jews were free to leave Germany, but it quickly became very expensive to emigrate. After 1934, Jews were only allowed to take ten marks with them. In the end, the government took away their passport, and required special exit permits for foreign travel. After August 1941, Jews were forbidden to leave Germany.

Most Christians find it very hard to imagine the day coming when they would wish to leave America. I've been involved in enough correspondence to know the general view that as the spirit of Antichrist will enslave nation after nation, America will be one of the last nations to fall to tyranny.

What puts America at greatest risk of losing our freedom is the fact that we have something the devil desperately wants--Jews. Before the mass exodus of Jews from Russia, there were more Jewish people living in the U.S. than in Israel. Our abundance of God's chosen people may doom us to replay the fate that befell Germany.

I would much rather be raptured from my home here in the U.S. than from a Christian enclave in some South American country. But I would hop on the next banana boat tomorrow if the government were to demand today that I choose between it and my God.

Freedom cannot be taken for granted. If we fail to maintain our liberty, we are doomed to lose it.


The Russian Prophetic Dynamic

We move ever deeper into these fleeting, prophetic hours. Each day adds detail, brings more clarity to the end-times portrait painted by, in particular, the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel. Russia is the brush observably at present moving across the last-days canvas.

Kremlin hegemony is on the ascent within the former Soviet Union’s vast geographical sphere of influence. Vladimir Putin appears to be the power behind the power. Russia’s interacting and meshing with two client-states in particular pose fascinating, biblically prophetic points of interest.

The week just past brought one of Bible prophecy’s most currently monitored issues into sharper focus. Russia, consistently a matter of such focus because of the generally accepted opinion that it is the chief candidate for the power that will lead the Gog-Magog attack of Ezekiel 38-39, asserted its previously mentioned influence over another of prophecy’s most focal nations.

Syria’s brutal regime, ruled by Bashar Al-Assad, has for the moment replaced Israel as the nation most under the microscope of castigation by the international community. At the center of dispensing that obloquy is the Arab conglomerate, led by Saudi Arabia.

The anxiety and anger are engendered by Assad’s defying the so-called Arab Spring by murdering more than 5,000 of Syria’s citizens to this point in time. It is quite the interesting development. The dictators of the Arab world want the successor to his father, Hafez Al-Assad, to abdicate so that the Muslim Brotherhood can see to it that another dictator of their choosing can be installed over the Syrian masses. This is desired, of course, under the guise of wanting to show the UN and all points west that democracy is spreading in the dark reaches of the Middle East.

The Western nations' leaderships and the world’s mainstream news media seem totally mesmerized by promises of this Islamist democratization–an oxymoron, if ever there was one. The Muslim Brotherhood, and all those influenced by Mohammed and Allah, wants anything but democracy. Egypt is an example to watch. The Brotherhood wants the Egyptian military–who removed Hosni Mubarak as dictator/president-to now get behind someone of the Brotherhood’s choosing and install that leader as president/dictator of Egypt. So, Assad is on the wrong side of the equation that is formulated to bring in the Arab Spring. The total, radical Islamization of the Middle East is underway, and Assad’s time as tyrant is limited. And, now, Russia finds itself on the wrong side of what is taking place to her south. The vote last week in the UN Security Council, in which Russia and China blocked action against the Syrian regime, has opened the proverbial can of worms, particularly for Russian leadership.

Moscow and Beijing were the only members of the 15-member U.N. Security Council to vote against the resolution backing an Arab League call for Assad to yield power and start a political transition. The double veto prompted unusually undiplomatic Western criticism, which [Sergei] Lavrov said verged on "hysteria." (Khaled Yacoub, "Russia's Lavrov Seeks Peace in Syria as Forces Bombard Homs, Oweis," Reuters, 2/7/12. Thanks to Jonathan Stettin and to Dana Neel for news sources.)

Kremlin powers that be realize, however, that it is a much more serious problem than criticism by the Western leaders that they must consider. One result of the vote was that protesters burned Russian and Chinese flags outside the Russian embassy in Beirut, Lebanon. That might be the mildest after-effects Russia will have to endure. And, the Russians were quick to begin cleaning up after themselves, in order to hope to assuage the anger that is bound to grow in the Muslim world.

The Russians quickly tried to diplomatically dance around their Security Council vote by undertaking a “mission” to Syria to talk to Bashar Al-Assad about his brutal treatment of his people. Some fancy verbal dancing was offered, too: "President Dmitry Medvedev ordered the mission, the statement said, because Russia ‘firmly intends to seek the swiftest stabilisation of the situation in Syria on the basis of the swiftest implementation of democratic reforms whose time has come'" ("Downing St.: Syria UN Vote 'Incomprehensible and Inexcusable,'" Telegraph, 2/6/12).

The miscalculation made in backing Assad, thus risking enraging the radical Islamists, was, it is thought in some circles, Vladimir’ Putin’s. The once and most likely future Russian president is thought to have decided to shore up Assad, because of the billions of dollars worth of contracts for Russian arms, and because Syria has a naval maintenance and supply facility on its Mediterranean coast that is Russia's only military base outside the territory that comprised the former Soviet Union.

Also, Putin’s reasons for backing Assad by voting against the Muslim Brotherhood types’ wishes might have been–it is thought—at least partly so he could demonstrate his leadership prowess to the West by preventing them from trying to impose their collective will on the nations within Russia’s sphere of influence.

Russia has declared that any attack on the Assad regime will be considered an attack on Russia, and would be met with retaliation that is appropriate.

All of this, of course, the observer of Bible prophecy must consider within the framework of the Isaiah 17:1 prophecy.

The second matter that is the subject of this commentary involves another major player the Bible indicates will be closely associated with the Russian who will be the leader of the Gog-Magog coalition against Israel. In this regard, there are some intriguing aspects to the Russia and Iran relationship, considering the foregoing Russian/Syrian things we have just reviewed.

One element of the association that interests me intensely is that surrounding the fear the Saudis have for Iranian apocalyptic fanaticism. The Iranian form of Islamist eschatology preaches belief--as often expressed by the likes of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad—that Armageddon must come to pass before the Twelfth Imam, whom he considers Islam’s messiah, can take over the world. The Iranian president, even his fellow Muslims fear, is intent on starting World War III, if it will summon forth the Mahdi.

Much of the Arab hordes in the regions fear Iran producing a nuclear weapons capability almost as much as do the Israelis. The fear is so great that it is pretty much a confirmed matter that the Saudi royals have given Israel permission to fly over Saudi air space if and when it becomes necessary to take out Iran’s nuclear production facilities.

Russia is again on the wrong side of the diplomatic equation regarding the leaders of most of Islam, in that the Russians have so much tied up in military assets and in other ways with a regime that seems near the lunatic fringe, even proclaiming publicly that when they get a nuclear weapon, they will use it against Israel. While the Russians seek to give the impression that they are backing Iran to the hilt in their nuclear program, many back-channel reports tell a different story. It seems there are fears in the Kremlin of an Iran with deliverable nuclear weapons.

On July 13, 2011, Russia made a proposal for a ‘step-by-step’ approach, according to which, Iran could address questions about its nuclear program and be rewarded with a gradual easing of sanctions.

The Iran Six, comprising Russia, the United States, China, Britain, France and Germany, have been trying since 2003 to convince Iran to halt its uranium enrichment program.

"Just like the West, Russia is worried that Iran can make a nuclear weapon, if necessary,"[former Iranian president Akbar] Rafsanjani said. (S. Isayev and T. Jafarov, "Russia-Iran Relations Are Fragile, Iran's Former President Says," 2/12/12, http://en.trend.az/regions/iran/1986722.html)

Now to some thoughts on prophetic application.

It should be clear to any Bible prophecy student who is an observer of these waning hours of the age, and who views prophecy as literal, that Russia is moving into position for fulfilling its part as given in Ezekiel 38-39. That nation is exactly where it should be, if it is to play its end-times role.

Russia is involved with Syria, the nation that sits at ground zero for fulfillment of one of the most stunning prophecies of catastrophe given in God’s Word--the destruction of Damascus in a single hour (Isaiah 17:1). Russia is front and center in dealing with Iran (ancient Persia), which has the most vocal of all the leaders of Israel’s enemies in declaring Israel will be wiped off the map.

At the same time, Russia is playing a middle-man role that seems to be trying to some extent to keep the hot passions of Islam from igniting the Middle East, thus, perhaps, World War III.

“Gog,” of Gog-Magog infamy, is said to be a demon-spirit that will one day inhabit a Russian leader and be instrumental (be used by God) in instigating an “evil thought” to attack Israel. The “prince” of Persia is apparently a fallen angel who is among the most powerful of the luciferic forces. Both demonic entities are doubtless active at this present hour, positioning their wards (humans who will serve them) for playing out their fiendish roles in the final act of human history this side of Christ’s return.

It is within the realm of reason to ask whether these Satanic minions— under Almighty God’s control—are plotting not to bring about World War III at this particular time, as so many who consider Bible prophecy fear. Rather, might they perhaps be plotting for a time when diplomacy might have economically and militarily denuded God’s chosen nation and the Western powers to the point the Russian-led coalition will, they will believe, have easy pickings when they finally attack?

Might we learn one day not too distant that rather than Israel having to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, thus bringing on an escalating war that would engulf the region, if not the whole world, in conflagration, the news will be that the Russians have brokered a deal whereby Iran gives up its nuclear ambitions? Such a scenario certainly more fits the Ezekiel 38-39 Gog-Magog profile than does a nuclear Iran.

Don’t get mad at me…just food for prophetic thought…