Current Events


From the, December 3, 2002, the following accounts from a report entitled “Saddam Hussein: Crimes and Human Rights Abuses,” which was released by Britain in a 23-page document:
“‘Fear is Saddam’s chosen method of staying in power,’ it says.”  Continuing, “To back up that claim, the report cites Saddam’s adoption of a series of decrees establishing severe penalties–amputation, branding, cutting off of ears or other forms of mutilation–for criminal offences.

“In mid-2000, Iraq approved amputation of the tongue as a new penalty for slander or abusive remarks about Saddam or his family.  The punishment has been inflicted on political dissidents and broadcast on state television as a warning to the public.

“Reports of women suffering psychological trauma after being raped in police custody are common, it says. ‘Raping female prisoners is part of the regime’s policy.’

“Iraqi officials have also recently taken to beheading women accused of prostitution.  In October, 2000, dozens of women were killed in this way, without recourse to any judicial process.

“Swordsmen, members of a special militia created by Uday Hussein, Saddam’s elder son, carried out the sentences in front of the victims’ homes and frequently in front of their families.”
Although this kind of brutality seldom receives the spotlight in our daily news, it is widespread among nations held in the grips of dictatorial powers.  The world’s immediate future portends an even more wide scale application of unspeakable cruelty when the predominant nations of this world are ruled by despots.  We will experience torture to such an extent as previously unknown to mankind (Matthew 24:21). In describing the soon-coming desolation of the city of Jerusalem, Zechariah 14:2 says, “The city shall be taken, The houses rifled, And the women ravished. Half of the city shall go into captivity.”
Those of God’s people who will not be protected at a special place on this earth (Revelation 12:13-14), will have to go through the great tribulation of unspeakable torture. Matthew 24:9 speaks of a time in our near future when ” ‘…they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.’ ”  Added to this stark warning is the statement in Revelation 20, verse 4: “…Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the witness to Jesus and for the word of God.” Notice, too, Revelation 6:9-11, “When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, ‘How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’ Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.”
Modern “Babylon the Great” (Revelation 17:5) has been, and is going to be, foremost responsible for the martyrdom of the saints and others. Revelation 17:6 explains, “I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.” We are also told that “in her was found the blood of prophets and saints, and of all who were slain on the earth.” (Revelation 18:24). When the city of modern Babylon, reigning over the kings of the earth (compare Revelation 17:18), has been destroyed by God, a loud voice of a great multitude will be heard, saying, “‘… true and righteous are His judgments, because He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication; and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her.'”
Keep these things in mind and pray even more fervently that we may be accounted worthy to escape all that will surely come to pass (Luke 21:36).


In a little-publicized move, Pope John Paul II confirmed on November 30 the election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (75) as the new Chairman of the body of (five) cardinals at the Vatican. The German Netzeitung commented, “He is now the most likely successor of John Paul II.”
Some disagree with this assessment, however. Insiders state that Ratzinger does not have the goal to become the next pope. He knows, according to some “experts,” that the next pope must not be even more conservative than the present one. At the same time, Ratzinger has been described in this way, “No German has influenced the Catholic Church that much since Martin Luther.”
Ratzinger recently commented that it might be a “nice token,” if the next pope would be an African. He also stated some time ago that he does not believe that “the Holy Spirit selects the pope — too many proofs to the contrary exist.”
The Netzeitung explained that Ratzinger  is now the Number Two within the Catholic hierarchy, pointing out that the particular body of cardinals advises the pope in doctrinal and other matters, and elects his successor after his death, or in case of resignation.
The German Cardinal Ratzinger is known for his extremely conservative stance within the Catholic Church. As we mentioned in our last Update of November 29 (under “World News Headlines”), he recently issued a paper stating that the Catholic Church is the only true church, the “mother church,” and that all the Protestant churches are daughters who left the mother in rebellion, and who need to return to, and come under the umbrella, of the mother church (Subsequently, due to sharp protests, the pope was forced to publicly distance himself somewhat from that paper).


Biblical Archeology Review reported that “an inscription has been found on an ancient bone box, called an ossuary, that reads, ‘James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.’… The Aramaic words etched on the box’s side show a cursive form of writing used only from about 10 to 70 AD… The ossuary has been dated to approximately 63 AD… The new find is also significant in that it corroborates the existence of Joseph, Jesus’ father, and James, Jesus’ brother and a leader of the early Christian church in Jerusalem. The family relationships contained on the new find helped experts ascertain that the inscription very likely refers to the Biblical James, brother of Jesus (see, for example, Matthew 13:55-56 and Galatians 1:18-19). Although all three names were common in ancient times, the statistical probability of their appearing in that combination is extremely slim. In addition, the mention of a brother is unusual — indicating that this Jesus must have been a well-known figure. Laboratory tests performed by the Geological Survey of Israel confirm that the box’s limestone comes from the Jerusalem area.”
Of course, as Der Spiegel Online reported, there have already been voices questioning the authenticity of the find. The implications would be too severe, otherwise. Bild Online pointed out that this “archeological sensation” would present the “first and earliest proof for the existence of Jesus outside the Bible.” It would also prove that Jesus had brothers and sisters — which is taught by the Bible and most Protestant churches, but which is rejected by the Catholic church, so as to uphold their teaching that Mary remained a virgin throughout her life.

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