Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Matt 24 Watch, 96: Two revealing Christmas incidents

On Christmas day, there was an attempted airline bombing by a radicalised Nigerian Islamist terrorist, on a 300-passenger airline flight from Lagos to Detroit.

The good news is that the fuze did not work; thank God.

In one sense, it is good news that his Father, a prominent banker, had reported his son to the relevant authorities; unfortunately, they did not seem to have done enough with this vital information. As Cal Thomas observed (and asks), however:
. . . the detonator was not the only malfunction in this near-catastrophe. Government also broke down. The suspect, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, has been on a watch list for the last two years. That list contains names of people known to have extremist links.

British press reports say Abdulmutallab has been on MI5's radar but was deemed insufficiently threatening to warrant surveillance. Still, he was barred from returning to Britain earlier this year, according to the London Times . . . .

How did Abdulmutallab, whose father had recently warned State Department officials about his son's radical beliefs and extremist connections, get on a plane bound for Detroit? What good is it to report suspicious behavior, as the Department of Homeland Security repeatedly urges us to do, if those reports are not taken more seriously?

Did America's reluctance to profile contribute to this latest near-disaster? That question should be among many asked at a congressional hearing.

In short, something has gone specifically wrong with security in Lagos -- where he was apparently not properly searched (and this morning BBC News suggested that the issue may be preferential treatment of the wealthy there).

But also, that the USA did not act with the firmness the UK did came near to triggering a catastrophic terrorism incident on Christmas Day.

And, that that day on which we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace was chosen is no coincidence.

In short, the global Islamist Terrorist organisation, Al Qaeda has made plain just what they intend for the Christian Faith and its adherents by choosing that day for an attack.

But, this is just the first tidal wave that threatens our civilisation; the more obvious and obviously violently hostile, distinctly external one.

The second incident is in major respects more troubling, precisely because it is telling us about what is happening subtly, deep inside the gates of our civilisation. For, it reveals the second tidal wave in action: the radical secularist and/or neo-pagan and/or apostasy-driven de-christianisation predicted as a sign of the end times in 2 Peter 3.

That passage is important enough that we should pause to refresh our memory on it:
2 Peter 3: 3First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4They will say, "Where is this 'coming' he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation." 5But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

8But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.[a]

11Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.[b]That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. 13But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

14So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. (Cf an interesting exposition -- long but worth the read -- by a regional blog commenter here, at the Barbados Underground Blog.)
As our Lord in patience delays his return, men will come, mocking in order to feed their lusts driven by their lusts and by a vision of the world that looks no further than what the eye can see; practical or philosophical materialism.

To sustain that en-darkened view, they will reconstruct the past of our world on lines of projections into the distant past of the trends, patterns and speculative materialistic theories and philosophies of the present; willfully ignoring or dismissing the testimony of Scripture and the evidence of catastrophic judgement. Thus, in the words of Job 38, they darken counsel with words without knowledge, even daring to call such words, Knowledge [for that is what "Science" means.]

In such an age, men willfully exclude God from knowledge, and create a public pressure to censor God out.

So, since Christmas is a specifically Christian festive season, they are hostile to Christmas.

A measure of how far this has reached can be seen from a recent visit by the current president of the USA, Mr Obama, to the Boys and Girls Club in Washington DC.

For, as Chuck Norris' augmented transcript reveals:

THE PRESIDENT: I think one thing that's important to remember is that, you know, even though there's a lot of fun at Christmas ... especially when it's snowy like this, so it's pretty outside. You got the Christmas tree; you got the Christmas cookies; you've got presents. You know, I think that the most important thing is just to remember why we celebrate Christmas.

(CN: So far so good, Mr. President, but there's a child with his hand up right in front of you!)
CHILD: I know!

THE PRESIDENT: Do you know?

CHILD: The birth of baby Jesus.

(CN: Not exactly the response the president was looking for. If you can't see him in your mind's eye getting a little hot around the collar, check out the video version here.)

THE PRESIDENT: The birth of baby Jesus and what he symbolizes for people all around the world is the possibility of peace and people treating each other with respect. And so I just hope that spirit of giving that's so important at Christmas -- I hope all of you guys remember that, as well. ...

(CN: Where is Rep. Joe Wilson when you need him? Wrong, Mr. President! You didn't speak for the majority of Americans when you declared in Turkey last April that "we are not a Christian nation," and you don't speak for "people all around the world" about the birth of the baby Jesus, especially when you define him merely as a community coordinator and social reconciler. His main mission and message was as the Redeemer of mankind -- the savior with a self-confessed mission to "give his life as a ransom for many" to forgive all our sins and reconcile God and humans' relationship.)

THE PRESIDENT: ... You know, it's not just about getting gifts but it's also doing something for other people. So being nice to your mom and dad, grandma, aunties, showing respect to people -- that's really important, too; that's part of the Christmas spirit, don't you think? Do you agree with me?

(CN: Nothing like a little presidential social pressure to prompt an affirmative answer from children.)


THE PRESIDENT: You do? . . .

(CN: Then another child raises his hand, so the president leans over and asks him a question.)

. . . Do you have an interesting observation?

CHILD: I know why we give gifts to other people.

THE PRESIDENT: Why is that?

CHILD: Because the three wise men gave gifts to baby Jesus.

(CN: Could this get any better? Out of the mouths of babes! But you know there's some presidential spin coming, don't you?)

THE PRESIDENT: That's exactly right. But the three wise men -- the reason . . .

(CN: A sign literally falls off the wall. Sign from God? What timing!)

. . . -- uh-oh, I thought that was the cookies going down. We couldn't have that. You know, the three wise men -- if you think about it, here are these guys. They have all this money; they've got all this wealth and power, and yet they took a long trip to a manger just to see a little baby. And it just shows you that just because you're powerful or you're wealthy, that's not what's important. What's important is what's -- the kind of spirit you have.

(CN: The wise men traveled across the desert "just to see a little baby"? Let me quote from the Gospel according to Matthew 2:11: "And they bowed down and worshipped him" as the savior of the world. Why is it -- any chance Obama has to dive deeper into Christianity's creed? -- he rises to the surface and neuters the subject?)

THE PRESIDENT: So I hope everybody has a spirit of kindness and thoughtfulness and everybody is really thinking about how can they do for other people -- treating them well, because that's really the spirit of Christmas. Does everybody agree with that?


THE PRESIDENT: I agree with that. Well, you guys all seem like really sharp, sharp young people. And I'm very proud of you. And let me just ask you one last question. Is everybody here working pretty hard in school?


THE PRESIDENT: OK, because the thing that I want everybody to remember, the most important message I can leave is, is that you guys have so much potential; one of you could end up being president someday. But it's only going to happen if you stay focused and you work hard in school. And, you guys, there's nothing wrong with having fun and fooling around and playing sports and listening to rap music and all that stuff. But I want you guys to read and hit the books and do your math, because that's really what's going to determine how you do in the future. All right? That's the most important thing you can do.

(CN: "Most important message"? "Most important thing you can do"?)

Of course, the spontaneous actions of the children reflect the deeply Christian character of black American culture.

By deep contrast, the secularising words and attempted "corrective" actions of the president are troubling. And, it almost does not matter whether the President was reflecting his own seculasised views, or was being cautiously politically correct in light of the rolling video cameras and the sort of backlash he feared from the voices of influence in the American nation's media culture.

Twenty or thirty years ago, a sad scene like this would have been inconceivable.

But today, we can see the impact of that tidal wave of de-Christianisation, all too plainly manifestly constraining and/or shaping the views, actions and words the leader of the most powerful Western nation.

And that, in light of 2 Peter 3 and Matt 24, is a powerful sign of our times.

(Who would have thought that Christmas would become all but an unmentionable word? That the concept that our civilisation pauses at year-end to reflect on the Light who has enlightened the nations -- pausing to give gifts especially to children as once Wise men had given gifts to the Christ Child whom they took a two-year expedition in order that they might come to WORSHIP him -- would be an object of controversy; with a subtext of deep-seated hostility? And yet, that is exactly the prediction of Matt 24:1 - 14, that the gospel and its adherents would become the targets of hostility and eventually persecution as the world's chaos rushes to a climax at the Second Coming.)

So, as 2010 dawns, let us be about the true sign of the end:
. . . And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. [Matt 24:14]
By God's grace, let's roll! END

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