April 12, 2019 – Israel
April, this year, is a significant time for the modern-day nation of Israel.
As widely reported by the media, Israel’s national elections were held on April 9, 2019. The Likud party won; and most expect her to-the-right leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to retain his position.
The Jerusalem Post and other news sources posted an April 12, 2019 Reuters article, “Explainer: Israeli Election–With the Final Count In, Who Won and Who Loss?” It clarified the role of President Reuven Rivlin of Israel in the election process. The article explained that,
“Next week Israel’s president consults with the leaders of each party about their preference for prime minister. He then names the person who he believes has the best chance of putting together a government.”
Less well known is the news reported by Israel’s Temple Institute that two more “red heifers” were born the first week of April. Their arrival was announced on its Temple Radio program on Nisan 1 — the beginning of the year on the Hebrew calendar. On the calendar used in the Western world the date was April 6, 2019.
These two join another heifer candidate born in August 2018. The Temple Institute said the three are at “an undisclosed location in the Golan Heights”. For the part a red heifer will play future events, see our January 02, 2019 article, Jerusalem Sacrificial Altar.
All are part of the Temple Institute’s Raise a Red Heifer in Israel program. The ashes from the oldest of them, if she remains qualified, could be ready as early as Autumn 2020 — or by 2021, if the religious authorities involved conclude that the red heifer has to be no younger than three years old.
Photo Credits: President by Alan Kotok, License: CC BY 2.0; Calendar date courtesy of Danny Sandinoff and Michael J. Radwin of HebCal.
March 22, 2019 — Brexit or Brake It Part Three
The sand in the Brexit hour glass has almost run out. Or has it?
A couple of years ago, UK’s parliament quickly agreed to invoke Article 50 for her to leave the EU. However, as has been said before, “the devil is in the details”. Many in both the EU and in the UK see the drawn-out Brexit process as a complete mess.
Some Brits in UK’s parliament, and on the street, said “Just get on with it”; others complained they were being bullied into accepting a bad deal.
UK’s March Madness
With the original deadline of Friday March 29th mere days away, here are the latest developments.
The week of March 10th, UK’s House of Commons voted against both exiting the EU without a deal or having a 2nd referendum on Brexit before the March deadline. The parliament did, however, vote in favor of requesting a delay.
At that time, an extension was thought to be far from certain. The other EU 27 member states had to unanimously agreed, and not all were not convinced more time would make a difference.
The upcoming EU’s parliamentary election also significantly complicated the timing. The European Union wanted UK’s membership in the EU settled before May 23rd.
In a BBC article on March 14, 2019, titled, “Four Brexits and a Divorce: What do MPs want?” BBC said,
“The basic choice facing MPs has always been the same: If they don’t want the UK to leave without a deal … they must either pass a withdrawal agreement, revoke Article 50 or ask the EU for an extension.”
The Prime Minister planned to call for a revote on the Brexit Deal before the deadline. But, on Monday March 18, House of Commons Speaker, John Bercow, made a surprise announcement. Citing precedent, he said the withdrawal agreement could not be reconsidered unless it was significantly changed.
As the prime minister scrambled to figure out what to do next, some Britains hoped that the EU would be more inclined to grant the UK additional time after the speaker’s statement.
On March 20th, Roger Casale, former UK MP (member of Parliament) remarked,
“It’s a great irony that in 2016 one of the reasons that many people said they voted to leave was to take back control. Well, tonight control is with the European Union … “
Mr. Casale sent a letter in early February to both the EU and UK government proposing a compromise solution. Essentially, it included 3 key points. These were a short extension, as well as a second referendum, plus acceptance of the withdrawal plan — the EU deal, obviously, would only go into effect if the public voted for the Brexit measure again.
Some MPs now view his proposal as the way forward.
The UK was granted more time. But, it’s conditional.
According to euronews, on Thursday March 22nd, the EU offered the UK two options: One, if it ratifies the deal next week, is an extension until May 22, the day before the start of its parliamentary elections. But if the current deal is not accepted, the UK will have only until April 12th to decide whether to crash out with no deal or choose to vote in the EU elections and have a chance at more time to explore other actions.
The EU also offered extra assurance to the UK that should the backstop be needed, it will only be temporary. It is called the Strasbourg Agreement.
The Prime Minister has only five working days left to secure the needed UK MP votes for a motion that’s been modified enough to be introduced. Technically, the terms of the deal can’t be changed. Perhaps, however, the EU’s Strasbourg agreement and extension clauses can be added, so it qualifies as something new. But under the circumstances, can PM May deliver the goods?
Breaking News 03-29-2019: The EU Withdrawal Agreement was not passed. So, as of today, the deadline is extended to April 12th.
Update 04-13-19: Deadline moved to October 31, 2019
Photo Credits: EU Summit Courtesy of European Union; Hour glass by Clker-Free-Vector-Images, License: CC0; Flags by Christoph Scholz, License: CC BY-SA 2.0.
Related reading: Brexit and Modern-Day Ephraim
February 01, 2019 — Valentine’s Day
Did you know that in America more cards will be bought for Valentine’s Day, February the 14th, than for any other holiday except for Christmas? And, were you aware it began as a time to honor a religious figure? Well, it did.
History.com has quite a bit to say about how this day came to be. Mid-February was the time for a “raucous Roman fertility festival called Lupercalia.” It was dedicated to a Roman god as well as Rome’s founders, Romulus and Remus. And centuries later, the Roman Catholic Church moved “to Christianize the popular celebration”.
In 5 CE, the church’s head declared February 14th as a day to honor a man revered as Saint Valentine. It’s a bit murky as to who is this individual was; but, as the story goes, he is considered a religious martyr. The Time Magazine website commented,
“There are multiple legends of Saint Valentine, and different reliquaries in the Czech Republic, Ireland, Scotland, England and France all claim to have bones attributed to a Saint Valentine.”
By the 15th century, Valentine’s Day had openly become re-associated with romance ostensibly because the 14th of February was the day people thought was the beginning of a bird’s mating season.
It’s no secret that most major holidays celebrated today are traceable back to Roman, Greek, and Babylonian ways of worshiping. But then, does it really matter?
More than once in the Bible, God himself has plainly stated how he feels about that sort of thing. To learn what He has to say, see Cliff Veal’s message titled, “Christmas”.
Photo Credit: Cards photo by Stephalicious, License: C BY-NC 2.0.
January 11, 2019 — Brexit or Brake-it Part Two
UK’s Sky News TV and others see the nearly two-year-old Brexit as a matter that has deeply divided the United Kingdom. And after the latest events, the split between people in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales now is, if anything, worse.
The UK parliamentary vote expected on December 11th did not take place.
The media explained that the vote to ratify the deal reached between the EU and the UK was delayed because sure defeat had been predicted. Prime Minister Theresa May hoped an extension to mid-January would provide the time needed to induce more members of parliament to approve the deal.
Go or Stay?
Those who are in favor of leaving the European Union, called the Brexiteers, or the Leavers, predict horrible consequences if the EU-UK deal is not approved. At the same time, people who want to stay, the Remainders, predict dire things will happen but only if the UK leaves.
Remainders have been pushing hard for a second referendum vote on whether to exit the EU. As 2018 ended, some felt they were making real progress toward achieving that goal.
For Brexiteers, a big sticking point has been what to do about the border between Northern Ireland, a part of the UK, and Southern Ireland, a member of the EU. The possibility of a hard crash, meaning an unratified deal, and need for a “backstop” of some sort were increasingly considered as the mid-January vote neared.
BBC in a December 13, 2018 article titled, Q&A: The Irish border Brexit backstop, defined the term for people not familiar with it.
“The backstop is a position of last resort, to maintain an open border on the island of Ireland in the event that the UK leaves the EU without securing an all-encompassing deal.”
Another informative BBC article, written on December 17, 2018, is titled, Brexit: All you need to know about the UK leaving the EU.
Brexit or Brake-it Part One was published on November 29. 2018.
Parliament’s crucial vote has been scheduled for Tuesday January 15, 2019. If the deal is not ratified, new general elections or other rumored moves won’t be far behind. However, no matter what transpires in the weeks after the decision, it will not alter the overall reality of what’s ahead for the British Isles and for others.
The Bible foretold the British people’s rise and fall and the reason for it. Read Brian Orchard’s January 11, 2019 Blog to see how the present situation in the UK fits with biblical prophecies.
Photo Credits: Brexit Graphic, License: CC Zero; Brexiteers by David Holt, License: CC BY 2.0; Empire Map, License: CC Zero.
January 02, 2019 — Jerusalem Sacrificial Altar
On Monday December 10th, 2018 the Jerusalem Post reported that,
“On the last day of Hanukkah – which literally means “dedication” – a new altar … was unveiled and nominally dedicated for use in the yet-to-be built Third Temple …”
In 2018, this festival began the night of December 2nd and eight days later ended on December 10th at sunset.
Referenced in Jewish history and the Bible, in John 10:22, it’s a non-sacred time Jews worldwide still observe. This winter festival commemorates Judah’s rededication of the Second Temple and its sacrificial altar in Jerusalem. The historical event occurred after the Maccabean Revolt of the 2nd century BCE.
The book of Daniel talks about daily sacrifices being halted in the future in conjunction with other prophecies. Clearly, to be halted they must have started. And, an altar for them is required.
Not for Real Yet
Even though the article indicated the portable altar was dedicated this year, a March 17, 2015 “Temple Institute Press Release” stated the altar was actually completed in 2014 and shown to the public during that year’s Hanukkah festival. The press release is posted on its Facebook page.
The altar had been used since then for “practice” re-enactments like the one in December that used a symbolic lamb part.
Professor Hillel Weiss spearheaded the altar initiative. The Jerusalem Post reported that Weiss said,
“he and the Temple activists and organizations would begin animal sacrifices immediately if the state allowed them to bring their altar to the requisite spot on the Temple Mount.”
The word “immediately” brings up a question. What about the ashes of a red heifer to be used in purifying the altar? Despite earlier news on the Temple Institute site about the birth of a potentially suitable red heifer on August 28, 2018, could the ashes referred to in Numbers 19 already be on hand?
It’s a matter of speculation because the Levitical priesthood would not consider any calf ready until it is two years old, at the earliest, and only if it still met all the other requirements as well.
The Where Controversy
The Jerusalem Post said the 2018 “dedication” took place “outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem”. It added,
“Although the Passover and daily sacrifices do not require a full temple, they must be done … at the appropriate spot on the Temple Mount, believed to be several meters east of the Islamic Dome of the Rock shrine.”
The conclusion about a completed Temple not being a prerequisite was based on what is found in Ezra 3.
To learn more about the red heifer and renewed animal sacrifices, read our article dated September 1, 2015. And, read our August 25, 2014 article. It also explains the difference in Jewish and Islamic views about the Messiah and the end of this age.
Photo credits: Hanukkah candles by Bart, License: CC BY-NC 2.0; Red Cattle by Matthew Gerrard, License: CC Zero