Pope to Visit Israel
The "Great Jubilee of 2000," proclaimed by Pope John Paul II in November 1998, is to include a visit by the Pope to the Holy Land. Despite fears that recent conflict between Jews and Muslims in Nazareth, as well as renewed Arab-Israeli military conflict, might derail the trip, Archbishop Crescenzion Sepe of the Vatican has confirmed that the trip will take place.
Effie Ben-Matityahu, a spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, welcomed the papal announcement:
"We all hope that this visit is going to reinvigorate and support the spirit of peace and reconciliation between religions and the peoples of the Middle East."
According to a recent BBC News report, "the visit will take place at the end of March, and is expected to take in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Nazareth."
Inspiration declares that following the healing of the papacy's deadly wound, "all the world wondered after the beast" (Rev. 13:3). Inspiration also informs us that the second angel's message of Revelation 14 had not yet been fulfilled by 1911 (publication date of The Great Controversy) and observation tells us that it is yet to be completely fulfilled:
"Not yet, however, can it be said that 'Babylon is fallen . . . because she made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.' She has not yet made all nations do this" (The Great Controversy, p. 389).
The papal attempt to woo Israel into harmony with Catholic purposes surely represents a step in the direction of "all nations" eventually fulfilling this Bible prophecy. We can praise God, of course, that while many Jews may indeed accept papal sovereignty one day, others will be won to God's last message:
"When this gospel shall be presented in its fullness to the Jews, many will accept Christ as the Messiah. . . . Among the Jews are some who, like Saul of Tarsus, are mighty in the Scriptures, and these will proclaim with wonderful power the immutability of the law of God. The God of Israel will bring this to pass in our day" (Acts of the Apostles, pp. 380-381).
Salt in the Wound
February 14, 2000, Valentine's Day, witnessed yet another act of senseless violence two blocks from the campus of Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, as two students from the school were gunned down at a local Subway sandwich shop. Parents, students, teachers, and community members wonder aloud when the tears and tragedy will ever stop. The school's principal described the act as salt in a wound which as yet is far from healed.
Again we recall the predictions of Jesus regarding the world as it nears His return: "As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man" (Luke 17:26). The Bible tells us that in the days of Noah, "the earth was filled with violence" (Gen. 6:11). Speaking of this time, and of ours also, Inspiration declares:
"The land was filled with violence. War, crime, murder, was the order of the day. Just so it will be before Christ's second coming" (SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 1, p. 1090).
The rash of bizarre, unnatural weather continues. Ice storms in Georgia, the worst East Coast blizzards since 1927, drought from the American Southeast to the Midwest and Southwest (with even Arizona cactus wilting from the heat), the worst snowstorms in the Holy Land in 50 years, and most recently, tornadoes in Georgia killing 22 and injuring over 100 in the early morning of February 14. The Georgia twisters were described on the February 14 broadcast of the CBS Evening News as the worst in 47 years for that state.
It should be noted that tornadoes are not at all natural in the months of winter. The frequency and severity of these storms at such a time of year seems unprecedented by all counts.
Again, Inspiration writes regarding such events in the last days:
"The Spirit of God is being withdrawn. Disasters by sea and land follow one another in quick succession. How frequently we hear of earthquakes and tornadoes, of destruction by fire and flood, with great loss of life and property! Apparently these calamities are capricious outbreaks of disorganized, unregulated forces of nature, wholly beyond the control of man; but in them all, God's purpose may be read. They are among the agencies by which He seeks to arouse men and women of a sense of their danger" (Prophets and Kings, p. 277).
More on "Transgenic Animals"
The February 14 broadcast of the CBS Evening News also featured a story on the genetic engineering of fish in Canada, as a means of getting fish to grow bigger and thus produce more meat. Discussions about the right and wrong of such practices were featured in the reportbased on environmental, health, and other reasons. But the lure of biological tampering seems to continue unabated.
Again the words of Jesus are remembered: "As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man" (Luke 17:26). Again we note the inspired description of biological experimentation in Noah's time:
"But if there was one sin above another which caused the destruction of the race by the flood, it was the base crime of amalgamation of man and beast which defaced the image of God, and caused confusion everywhere. God purposed to destroy by a flood that powerful, long-lived race that had corrupted their ways before Him" (Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, p. 64).