North Atlantic Treaty Organisation leaders have traced the borders of “a new Europe by inviting Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary to join the Western Alliance… The United States President, Mr Clinton, prevailed over European allies who wanted a broader enlargement. He hailed the dawn of ‘a new Europe that is undivided, democratic and peaceful’.” A number of newspaper articles have focused on the recent NATO Summit during which three former Eastern Bloc countries were invited to join the NATO structure.

As usual, motives and objectives were mixed. US support for Polish entry particularly was suggested to have much to do with President Clinton’s desire to curry favour politically with the large Polish-American community. And United States arms manufacturers see a feast in store in updating the three East European countries’ military equipment to conform with NATO standards.

“European NATO members, particularly France and Germany, have pressed for a greater defence identity for Europe, distinct from the US. They have promoted the Western European Union, a quasi-defence body set up during the Cold War to take up this role; but Britain, with US and Canadian support has insisted NATO remains the bulwark of European defence.

“The summit will try to reconcile the divergent views by discussing a proposed ‘European Security and Defence Identity’ within NATO. This would, say the Europeans, allow European members to take action without the North American members, but using NATO assets.” The Australian July 7, 1997.

 How fascinating and exciting to watch these developments and to see that Magog and Gomer in Europe are continually in conflict with “the merchants of Tarshish with all the young lions thereof”.

NATO adopts Ukraine

 So began the headline in an article in The Australian further commenting on the NATO summit. “The day after they reached agreement to expand the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s borders to include Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, NATO leaders embraced Ukraine with a pact which offers the former Soviet republic a special relationship with the Western alliance.

“At a ceremony in Madrid, NATO secretarygeneral Javier Solana, Ukrainian president Leonid Kuchma and sixteen NATO heads of State signed the agreement officially known as the ‘Charter on a Distinctive Partnership Between NATO and Ukraine’.

“The agreement is not as encompassing as that signed in May between NATO and Russia which involved specific military commitments and stronger consultative powers, but is seen as an important step to bring Ukraine, a populous nation strategically placed between Russia and central Europe, closer into the Western fold.”

We, like Nebuchadnezzar, are watching a great image prepare to stand before a fearful world. Piece by piece the elements of its structure are being assembled, “part of potters clay and part of iron”, until soon it will be complete, “the form thereof… terrible”. We need daily to watch and keep our garments.

Palestinians Protest Porcine Parody

 Hebron erupted yet again in protest as the 400 Israeli settlers, it would seem, provoked the 120 000 strong Palestinian population with pictures posted overnight in some twenty shops near the Jewish enclave in Hebron’s old city. The Australian (30 June 1997) reported: “The picture that incensed Palestinians in Hebron showed an ink drawing of a pig wearing a Palestinian kaffeya scarf on its head with ‘Mohammed’ written on it in English and Arabic.

“The pig, considered the filthiest of animals in both Islam and Judaism , is shown with a pencil in its hoof writing a book labelled the Koran in the two languages… Shops near where the pictures were posted were spray-painted with the slogans ‘Death to Arabs’ and ‘The only good Arab is a dead Arab’ in Hebrew and signed by the outlawed Jewish racist group Kach, witnesses said.”

These episodes of hatred and provocation by both sides are fundamentally insoluble and will surely continue “until he come whose right it is: and I will give it him”.

Meanwhile in Jerusalem…

 “Another source of conflict”, reported The Australian, “was developing… in East Jerusalem, where a heavy handed Israeli campaign to collect taxes has provoked rumblings of revolt among Palestinians, who see it as the latest shot in a growing war for control of the holy city.

“In the past few days, Israeli tax collectors escorted by soldiers have forcibly collected the municipal tax, sometimes storming into Arab shops and seizing goods in kind… The East Jerusalem chamber of commerce called a strike yesterday and has turned its headquarters into an ‘operations room’ to co-ordinate resistance.”

Jerusalem remains a “burdensome stone” and there is little doubt that these sorts of conflict will continue and intensify into the final conflict of Armageddon.

Church Leaders Fail to Affirm Gay Belief

 This heading to a brief article in The Australian for July 10 should not lead us to suppose that the Uniting Church has, to the surprise of all, adopted a Biblical stance.

“The general secretary of the assembly (the Uniting Church’s National Assembly) the Reverend Gregory Henderson acknowledged ‘wide division within the membership and between church leaders’. However he said the ‘non-action’ would not change current church policy.

“Gay and lesbian people are welcome within the membership of the church and gay and lesbian people are eligible to remain ministers in the church.”

The wide acceptance over what seems an incredibly short space of time of the perverted lifestyle so condemnedBo in Scripture is quite amazing. The impact of social and moral decline affects us all even as we try to stand apart from it.

We live in a world which faces unknowingly and unheedingly the near return of our Lord to make things right. The reality of his return is scarcely more important now than the desperate need for it. “Watch ye therefore and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”