Pastoral Bible Institute News

New Booklet

We are pleased to offer the new booklet This Land is Mine. It examines the claims of both Jew and Arab to the most hotly-contested piece of real estate on the globe today—the land of Israel. Relevant biblical texts describing the land given by God are considered. God’s promises to the Arabs as well as the Jews are reviewed and the prophecies predicting a resolution to this difficult problem in the near future are explained.

The book was produced by the Chicago Bible Students. Use the back of the usual insert sheet found in every issue of this magazine to order your copy.

New Promotion

The Institute is placing a full-page, four-color advertisement in the winter edition of Christian History. The ad offers a one-year subscription to The Herald and a copy of the video "For This Cause" for just $10 on a send-no-money basis. If the requestor does not like the magazine, he may keep the video and cancel his subscription without charge.

Current subscribers may wish to take advantage of this promotion and send both the video and a one-year subscription of The Herald to friends as a gift. Video tapes are available only in the VHS-USA format and will be shipped with the January-February issue in mid-December. A card announcing your gift will be enclosed.

Letters

I just received the convention book of the Miskolc, Hungary, convention. It warmed my heart and I praise the Lord for such a beautiful work. How great to see the unity in the Lord’s people to put it together. I will follow the program as I do with the local conventions when I cannot attend. I’m there in spirit. The feet members are really busy doing the Lord’s work. God bless all that have a part in this endeavor to please the Lord. I am 89. I have opportunities to preach the gospel [because] I correspond with many people. God be with you.

Eva Morgan, Ohio

I received my very first Herald magazine with a lot of gratitude. Thank you for extending such a favour to me. I also read the magazine more than once and was very blessed. The teachings go very deep and are well researched and presented. I was wondering whether it is possible to receive magazines from the recent past, say, from the beginning of this year. The message does not go stale. It is the word of God. I sincerely remain grateful to you and my prayer is that God may uplift you even more. May God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit bless you abundantly.

Moses Kibe Kihiko, Kenya

Around the World

Western experts quoted in the US media have voiced concern that the Russian economic crisis could result in the illegal sale by unpaid, desperate military employees of nuclear weapons technology to terror groups or terror-supporting states. Joseph Cirincione, director of the Non-Proliferation Project at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told the San Francisco Examiner that Russia "has 22,000 nuclear weapons. 10,000 to 15,000 of them are in storage and are guarded not by elite forces but by regular troops" whose trustworthiness is less certain. "You’ve got to be a little concerned . . . about how vulnerable those weapons might be to sale or theft. And those concerns are certainly increased by the economic situation." The research director of the Nuclear Control Institute in Washington, Steven Dolley, said he was "less worried about ‘loose nukes’ until the Russian situation became decidedly worse."

—International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, 9/3/98

Growing worries towards Rwanda and Uganda underlie the new dimension in the Congolese conflict that threatens to shake Africa to its foundations. The fragmentation that has haunted western powers since the UN intervened to prevent Katanga’s secession from the Congo in 1960 has produced a source of continual problems. Zimbabwe and Angola’s dispatch of forces to the Democratic Republic of Congo, in open defiance of South African President Nelson Mandela, raises the prospect of Rwandan and Ugandan troops clashing with southern African soldiers. It also deals a body blow to hopes entertained by the 14-nation Southern African Development Community of presenting itself as a credible regional security organization and undermines western dreams of an African continent capable of policing itself. A protracted conflict in the Congo could bring to the forefront questions held in abeyance during 32 years of Mobutu rule: whether a country twice the size of France and Germany, embracing hundreds of tribes and ethnic languages, can hope to function as a nation state. For the southern and eastern African countries which have been sucked into the war, it could herald a new era of destabilizing regional rivalries.

—Financial Times, 9/1/98

Israel

Israel said Monday that it has agreed in principle to turn over an additional 13% of West Bank land to the Palestinians, the figure specified in a months-old U.S. peace initiative. The government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which had said it could not accept the 13% figure without endangering Israeli security, has told U.S. mediators that Israel is now prepared to withdraw from that amount of land if other conditions are met, an Israeli spokesman said. The U.S. initiative has not been officially announced, but details of it are widely known. The proposal calls on Israel to withdraw in three stages over a 12-week period from 13% more of the West Bank. In exchange, the Palestinians would give Israel a detailed plan for combating terrorism and take other security measures.

—Los Angeles Times, 8/25/98

Israel is preparing for a possible new wave of Russian Jewish immigrants. Israeli officials in Russia say there has been a flurry of inquiries in recent days about immigration visas. The reports came as Jewish leaders said they were concerned about the possible ramifications the current instability in Russia could have on the country’s Jewish community. One of Russia’s leading businessmen, a Jew, said anti-Semitism prevents him from taking part in a future government. "A Jew cannot run for top posts in Russia at the moment," said Boris Berezovsky.

—Israeli News Wire Service, 9/3/98

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, speaking about the August 27 terrorist bombing in Tel-Aviv which injured 21 people, said "the bombings which took place in Tel-Aviv are the natural result of the torpedoing of the peace process in the Middle East since the coming to power of the Likud government headed by Netanyahu. Such explosions will continue so long as the current government adopts a position which is opposed to peace and so long as the land is not returned to its Palestinian owners." Mubarak’s comments were reported in the official Egyptian newspaper Al-Gomhouriya on August 28.

—Israel Wire, IMRA, 9/3/98

Islam

Pakistan, the world’s newest nuclear power, now faces the greatest knock-on threat of Afghanistan’s Islamist and tribal instability. "We’re in a difficult position," says Abida Hussain, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US and now minister of population, welfare, science and technology. "Iran is mad at us because of the Taliban. India is mad at us over Kashmir. The US is mad at us because we detonated nuclear weapons. And we’ve got these obscurantist friends, who have overrun Afghanistan." Pakistan, which officially supports the Taliban, has become intimately bound up in the fate of Afghanistan. It is in the religious "madrassah" schools of Pakistan that refugee children became indoctrinated with the Taliban’s classless, ultra-fundamentalist brand of Sunni Islam. And Pakistan’s population along the permeable border with Afghanistan is mostly Pushtun, the same tribe that dominates Afghanistan and the Taliban. An appeal to Islamic solidarity is the only way to keep together Pakistan’s unruly mix of peoples.

—Wall Street Journal, 8/25/98

With municipal elections just down the road, the Islamic Movement is making steady inroads in carefully targeted cities throughout Israel. "The Islamic Movement is the new, fresh, well-organized force in Israeli-Arab politics," said Prof. Elie Rekhess, head of Tel Aviv University’s Arab political studies program, sponsored by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation. "It has a strong social message, and the potential to fill the vacuum left by [the declining appeal of] Hadash." Noting that the movement has not incited to violence, called for the overthrow of the Zionist state or given Israeli authorities any excuse at all to crack down on it, Rekhess continued: "Clearly the Islamic Movement is not actively plotting to realize any maximalist goals. But the $64,000 question is: If and when this growing force gathers more and more strength, will it be transformed into a strategic threat?" The answer, Rekhess said, depends largely on whether the state, representing the Jewish majority, ends its traditional policy of "disastrous neglect of the Arab sector and its refusal to recognize that while Israel is a Jewish state, it is not exclusively Jewish."

—Jerusalem Post, 8/21/98

Christendom

The newly appointed Archbishop [Mouallem] of the Galilee for the Greek Catholic Church finds himself at the center of the most serious crisis between Israel and the Vatican since the two states established diplomatic relations in 1994. Accused of having ties to extremist PLO elements and to Syrian intelligence, Mouallem almost was denied an entry visa by the government. Government officials say that the struggle for control of the Greek Catholic Church mirrors a similar process taking place in other local churches —including the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran—where bishops much more sympathetic to the Palestinian cause have been appointed in recent years. In the Palestinian Authority, numerous reports have surfaced of Christians being persecuted by the ruling Moslem majority, sparking an exodus of Christians from the region. Those who remain do not feel as free to criticize the government of Yasser Arafat as they do to attack Israeli policy. The Vatican, which has far more followers and interests in the Arab world than in Israel, has similar concerns, an Israeli spokesperson says. "This shows that the influence of the PLO now is so strong at the Vatican, that it completely overshadows our influence."

—Jerusalem Post, 8/31/98

Economics

The West is now watching Russia’s economic collapse with a quiet and helpless desperation matched only by that of the long-suffering Russian people themselves. Unpaid wages on a massive scale have reduced many workers to virtual slave laborers. Mass unemployment in big rust-belt cities, a free-falling ruble and climbing prices have left millions of Russians without a kopec in their pockets and forced to survive on their wits and on bartering for essential items. A report yesterday that thousands of new Russian companies are actually run by criminals will do little to hold at bay Russians’ anger at the robber capitalism that has replaced robber Communism in their country. The present system offers nothing but despair. Male life expectancy in Russia has plunged to a shocking 58 years. Russia manufactures nothing the world wants to buy, the government has no income. Russia has collapsed, as many wise experts predicted it would, because its foundations were so rotten they might be made of decayed wood. A Western system [has] poured in billions of dollars to shore up Boris Yeltsin and his anti-Communist reformers. Now the reformers have gone down the drain along with the Western dollars they squandered, and, at the moment when it most needs a powerful leader, Russia has none.

— Jerusalem Post, 9/6/98

The financial firestorm that has been scorching economies around the globe is intensifying into one of the world’s worst—and most baffling—currency crises since the system of fixed exchange rates crumbled a quarter of a century ago. Frightened investors and quick-moving speculators in markets as far apart and different as Brazil and Hong Kong, Canada and Russia, Japan and Venezuela are scurrying to exchange local currencies for the US dollar. What makes the crisis so unnerving is that there is no clear solution in sight—no financial firebreak that governments or international financial institutions can construct to slow the spread. Hopes that the crisis, ignited by the July 1997 devaluation of the Thai baht, would soon burn itself out have been dashed by devaluation and default in Russia, record lows for the Mexican peso and the Canadian dollar, and the Venezuelan central banks’ decision to give the bolivar more room to fall.

— Wall Street Journal, 8/24/98

Japan’s crisis is slow-burning. Its neighbors, such as South Korea, might have crashed last year but Japan’s deterioration has lasted the entire decade. The value of land—a key component of family wealth—has crumbled for seven years. Furthermore, pain is still being deferred. For the most part, companies are extremely reluctant to make their workers redundant, even when they are heavily in debt.

—Financial Times, 9/1/98

Science

The direct conversion of solar radiation into energy, photovoltaics, is gaining more and more significance as an alternative environmentally friendly source of energy. "If development continues at its current pace, in 30 years we will be able to replace the world’s current production of nuclear power with solar energy," said Professor Juergen Schmid of the Institute of Solar Energy in Kassel, addressing the Second World Conference on Photovoltaic Solar Energy Conversion in Vienna. In a scenario presented by Shell Oil, which has recently elevated renewable energy to a new and separate branch of its business, 50 per cent of the energy will be delivered by alternative forms of energy in the year 2050.

—Deutsche Press Agentur (DPA), 8/5/98

The United Nations said Wednesday that the growth rate of the world population is slowing. In its annual world population report, the U.N. said that although the population will continue to expand for several decades, the growth rate has fallen to 1.4% a year from 2% in 1960. The world population is increasing by more than 80 million a year and, at the current rate, will rise to 9.4 billion in 2050 from 6 billion in mid-1999.

—Los Angeles Times, 9/3/98

With almost one-third of Americans using alternative therapies, a majority of US medical schools now offer their students such classes, a new study shows. Researchers from Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center found at least 60 percent of the 125 medical schools in the US offer classes in alternative medicine. The courses, electives at most schools, include chiropractic, acupuncture, homeopathy, herbal therapies, massage and other mind-body techniques. "Medical educators increasingly realize that it is not a question of whether to address these issues in the education of future physicians but rather how to respond to this relentless challenge to evolve," said the researchers. The study appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

—Bloomberg News, 9/1/98

If all movement of Earth’s tectonic plates—the large land masses floating on the planet’s molten interior—stopped, Earth would become a very different place, according to seismologist Kerry Sieh of Caltech, although it might take a long time for some effects to become apparent. There would be far fewer earthquakes because most of them are caused by stresses resulting from plate movements. The volcanoes of the Pacific "Ring of Fire" would all shut down, and the steady southeastern movement of volcanic activity along the Hawaiian Islands would also stop. New mountains would no longer be formed, and erosion from wind and rain would eventually level those now in existence, so Earth’s surface would become much flatter. Finally, the motion of tectonic plates absorbs some of Earth’s internal heat. If the plates stopped moving, Sieh said, the planet would have to find a new and efficient way to blow off that heat, and it is not clear what it would be.

—Los Angeles Times, 8/27/98

Book Review

The Gifts of the Jews, Thomas Cahill, Doubleday, 1998, 291 pages.

Historian Cahill looks back to ancient times and sees a world where events are perceived as an endless cycle of birth and death, where time is a wheel that never alters its course. That notion was to forever change when Abraham heard The Voice saying, "Go forth." The future need not be like the past. It can be altered. Abraham did "go forth" and the conventional world view was forever changed. This is one of the gifts the Jews have given the world.

The giving of the ten "words" at Sinai is another example. Cahill suggests that the commandments were received by the people as reasonable, even unalterable because they were always there within the human heart. He asks the unbeliever which commandments concerning man would he drop, which missing one would he add. Certainly if we would keep these commandments, the world would be an entirely different place. Yet for all our collective resourcefulness, we have never managed to do it.

Jewish law favors the powerless in their poverty not the powerful and their possessions. It presumes that all people, even slaves, are human and that human lives are sacred. This ran counter to the laws of the ancient world and constitutes yet another gift to our world today.

At the death of Moses Joshua tells the people as they are about to enter the promised land to follow the ark of the covenant because they have never been here before. (Joshua 3:3,4) In Cahill’s words, "This is the great moment, the moment of maximum anticipation—to go the way one has never gone before, and yet to go home." The parallel to the Christian’s experience is not articulated, but is obvious.

It is stimulating to have a non-Jew examine Jewish history and describe it in a new way. Some of this book seems speculative and some conclusions may be a stretch. Yet Cahill forces even those to whom the Bible has nothing to say to see ancient history in a new way. God’s hand and voice did reach down and touch a people, and through that "touch," the world has been changed.

—Michael Nekora