As the situation in Syria intensifies and the United Nations reports that 93,000 civilians have been killed since 2011, the United States is taking increased action. With the deadly drama continuing to progress, it’s likely that some — especially considering Syria’s Biblical and geographical significance — will see End Times prophesy unfolding.
A silly suggestion to non-believers and others who disagree with conservative views on the Bible and an undeniable reality to others, the debate over signs and symbols associated with Jesus’ return presents ever-fascinating discussions. But while author Joel C. Rosenberg embraces prophetic notions, others, like “Bible Answer Man” Hank Hanegraaff reject these ideals.
TheBlaze spoke with both Rosenberg and Hanegraaff in an effort to better understand how Syria might fit into Christian theology and prophesy. The former, an author and communications expect who has been called a modern-day Nostradamus, has produced intriguing, yet eery, writings, as they often highlight and seemingly predict major world-wide events months before they actually occur. The latter, however, takes a more literal approach to the scriptures.
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Just possessing a Bible still can be cause for a death penalty in North Korea, so it’s no surprise that the hermit kingdom remains No. 1 on this year’s World Watch List of the world’s most notorious persecutors of Christians, a project assembled by Open Doors USA.
Persecution of believers also increased sharply across Africa, eight out of 10 worst offenders are ruled by Muslim theocracy and Egypt, under the Muslim Brotherhood, actually saw its ranking lowered, but not because of any improvement there. It was because of worsening conditions elsewhere, the report said.
In North Korea, a possible lesser penalty for someone having a Bible would be for the offender, and three generations of his or her family, to be sent to prison camps, where at estimated 50,000 to 70,000 people are held.
Open Doors’ Senior Communications Specialist Paul Estabrook says the reclusive communist dictatorship earned the ranking based on the group’s five criteria for evaluating a country.
“North Korea doesn’t allow Christians any freedom in any of the five spheres used in the process,” Estabrook said.
“We use five spheres, the private, family, community, congregational, and public. … North Korea doesn’t allow Christians any freedom,” Estabrook said.
In addition, the dictatorship maintains a gulag, he noted.
“North Korea is known to have somewhere between 50,000 to 70,000 Christians in forced labor camps. And they’re there for doing nothing except trying to worship the Lord,” Estabrook said.
That aligns with what WND reported in July, that under newly installed leader Kim Jong-un, the enigmatic nation of North Korea still has about 70,000 people in work camps.
Sources confirmed North Korea has eased or lifted a number of restrictions for citizens since Kim Jong-un succeeded his father, Kim Jong-il. Bans have been lifted on Western foods such as pizza and french fries, and restrictions on the number of cell phones have been loosened, for example, according to Ryan Morgan, an analyst with International Christian Concern Asia.
However, whatever secular benefits may have trickled down to residents of the isolated nation, there is no evidence of any improvement in the condition of the persecuted church there, he said.
“We have not heard any reports of improvement for Christians in the country and have no reason to believe anything has changed,” Morgan said. “The regime still has up to 70,000 Christians locked away in virtual concentration camps.”
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Lakhdar Brahimi, the international envoy to Syria, has warned that as many as 100,000 could die in the next year if a way cannot be found quickly to end the civil war.
Mr Brahimi, the UN-Arab League envoy for the Syrian crisis, told reporters in Cairo that if the crisis continues Syria will not be divided into states “like what happened in Yugoslavia” but will face “Somalisation, which means warlords, and the Syrian people will be persecuted by those who control their fate.”
Syrian rebels are fighting a 21-month-old revolt against President Bashar Assad’s regime. Activists say more than 40,000 people have been killed in the crisis, which began with pro-democracy protests but has morphed into a civil war.
Since starting his job in September, Mr Brahimi has sought to advance an international plan, reached in Geneva six months ago, that calls for an open-ended ceasefire between rebels and government troops and the formation of a transitional government to run the country until elections can be held.
Over the past week Brahimi went to Damascus where he met Mr Assad then flew to Moscow, one of Syria’s closest international allies, where he discussed ways of ending the country’s crisis.
“The situation in Syria is bad. Very, very bad,” Mr Brahimi said after meeting Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby. “It is getting worse and therefore if nearly 50,000 were killed in nearly two years if, God forbids, this crisis continues for another year, it will not only kill 25,000. It will kill 100,000. The situation is deteriorating.”
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U.S. Reps. Walter Jones, R-N.C., and Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., along with retired senior defense intelligence officer Col. Walter P. Lang and the Veterans for Peace today said Congress must be consulted before Barack Obama would send American troops into Syria.
At a press conference, Jones discussed his resolution to oppose American involvement in Syria without first consulting Congress.
His resolution, H.Con. Res. 107, expresses “the sense of Congress that the use of offensive military force by a president without prior and clear authorization of an Act of Congress constitutes an impeachable high crime and misdemeanor under article II, section 4 of the Constitution.”
Jones was responding to the growing potential for direct American involvement in Syria to support the opposition to President Bashar al-Assad.
Just as he was one of the few Republicans opposed to the war in Iraq, Jones again expressed his opposition to a war that would be conducted without the approval of Congress.
It is Congress, after all, that the Constitution entrusts to make a decision regarding war, he said.
His resolution comes at a time when America’s military presence in the region is rising. Just this week, U.S.-supplied Patriot missiles arrived in Turkey to protect it from the Syrian conflict that is spilling across borders.
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