The Push-Back :: By Matt Ward

Each successive weekend from late November all the way through December, the streets of Paris, France have been subject to violent protests. Initially against fuel tax rises and high living costs in France, these protests seem to have reached a point where they have now taken on a life of their own. This so-called “yellow vest” movement has wracked the French capital with violence each weekend for over a month and does not appear to be going away.

The initial cause of the protests was the steeply climbing price of fuel in France, hence the protesters wearing the yellow vests that are mandatory by law for every vehicle in France to carry. It has quickly moved on and morphed significantly from there.

French President Emmanuel Macron’s initial intransience in the face of these protests – that the fuel rises were necessary to fund investment in renewable fuel sources, so essentially the ordinary French family was just going to have to “take the hit” – was the final straw and proved to be the spark that lit a silent simmering resentment that has now ignited into what many fear will become a full-blown resistance movement in France. Certainly at the time of this writing, it seems unlikely to end anytime soon.

Talk of “revolution” is no mere hyperbole on the streets of Paris either. Protesters in the French capital are openly questioning whether this is the beginning of “another Revolution.” The memories of the brutal and bloody le Révolution Française of 1789 are still fresh and very much at the forefront of the minds of these modern-day protesters on the streets of Paris today.

These protesters believe that in this movement they are confronting not just what they deem to be wholly unfair governmental policies, which they see in part as favoring refugees and immigrants more than native French-born citizens, but that they are also protesting the rule of a man they have come to see as a “want-to-be dictator,” a man many in France have come to despise. They are protesting against a man many now regard as openly pandering to every want and desire of the globalists at the expense of normal French men and women, and very much to the wider detriment of the French nation. This man is Emmanuel Macron.

This golden boy has certainly lost his domestic shine. The crest of a wave that he rode so magnificently into power is but a mere distant memory now in France. The overwhelming majority of French people have come to loathe him. His popularity has crashed, and he has a lower approval rating at this point in his presidency than almost any other previous French president of modern times, with the exception only of Nicolas Sarkozy. (1)

Yet he has been, up until very recently, resolute and entirely intransient. It is exactly this, his perceived aloofness and intellectual arrogance, that has driven many French people onto the streets, and their perception that this man does not represent their own best interests, or even care. Many in France believe that Macron answers only to a globalist elite that does not answer to, or represent, the French electorate in any way.

And so the aims of this movement, initially protests over ever-rising fuel prices, have changed and morphed into an amalgamation of concerns that have the potential to blow France apart. Protesters on the streets are now calling for higher wages, lower taxes, better pensions and easier university entry requirements, and a head-on confrontation of immigration and the issues it brings with it. Their core aim, however, seems to be to highlight the economic frustration and political distrust among poorer French working families. It is a movement that has widespread support throughout France.

French authorities are so worried by these ever-increasing protests that they have publically admitted to preparing the use of a chemical weapon to potentially employ against their own people if these protests and riots go too far. Let me say that again; the French authorities have admitted that, in the wake of these riots, they have prepared chemical weapons to use against their own people should these protests continue to develop, grow and spread, and become increasingly lawless and violent. (2)

And the open dissent and chaos we are witness to in France is spreading.

In Germany, long-term Chancellor Angela Merkel, once regarded as the single most powerful woman in the world, is rapidly approaching the end of her tenure in power. She is a highly controversial figure, both in Germany and Europe, partly because of her controversial leadership of the European project, but mainly because of her reaction to the crisis of mass migration from the Middle East.

Merkel has effectively opened up the borders of Germany to any and all fleeing from the Syrian civil war, and this has profoundly changed the nature of life in many German towns and cities. All were allowed in, the good and the bad, with next to no vetting procedures. In 2015 alone, Merkel allowed over one million refugees from the Middle East and east Africa to resettle in Germany.

This has had a tremendous impact upon German society. Many Germans now speak about feeling like foreigners in their own country, and every fifth person in Germany in 2018 comes from an immigration background. (3)

What has further dismayed many ordinary Germans is that the conversation about immigration has been ruthlessly silenced. In Merkel’s tenure, anybody expressing concerns about the numbers of refugees entering the country has been automatically and uniformly labeled a xenophobe and a bigot, immediately killing any and all public conversation. Yet the resentment and the concerns about immigration have remained, now mulled over silently behind closed doors, ever growing, and becoming more and more pronounced with each passing year.

Despite this, Merkel’s attitude, like that of Macron’s, has remained intransient:

“That some countries refuse to accept any refugees is not on,” Merkel has said, referring to Central European states including Poland and Hungary that have refused to take migrants. “That contradicts the spirit of Europe. We’ll overcome that. It will take time and patience but we will succeed.” (4)

It is just this attitude that has alienated her from her core support. Many in Germany have genuinely come to believe that Merkel’s loyalty is to Europe and globalism more generally, not at all to Germany. Her immigration policy, flying in the face of what many Germans think is right or fair, has caused ongoing outrage among ethnic Germans. Merkel, like Macron in France, is widely viewed as being highly detached from the needs and struggles of ordinary Germans. She is viewed as being aloof, elitist and close-minded to the concerns of many of those who were responsible for propelling her and her CDU party into power in 2005.

This attitude has had real consequences. One, horrifically, is the resurgence of the far right in Germany. With memories of the appalling atrocities committed during the Second World War by those of the far right still all too fresh, the spectre of the far right returning in Germany is clearly something that must be prevented at all costs. Yet the imminent removal of Merkel will not accomplish this.

Ominously, Merkel’s ruling Christian Democratic Party (CDU) seems intent upon replacing Merkel when she retires with Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, a women referred to as “mini-Merkel,” or “Merkel 2.0,” because so many people view her to be an exact clone of Angela Merkel, in her attitude and her policies.

And now, as the year has drawn to a close and a new one has dawned, these feelings of resentment and alienation have advanced far and wide. The “yellow vest” movement is spreading. What began as small- scale demonstrations in Paris have now spread to other major French cities, in Toulouse, Bordeaux and Lyon. It has spread across national boundaries to Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Brussels has seen riots, as has Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague, Nijmegen, Maastricht, and Rome. All in the last few weeks. Yellow vests have even been protesting just last weekend on the streets of London.

It would seem that the ordinary man and woman feels utterly powerless and perhaps very scared by what is happening in western Europe right now. And this is turning into undisguised outrage. What is concerning is that this outrage is manifesting no longer as mass protests, but in violence, in mass looting and in acts of mass vandalism that have seen the major tourist attractions in European capitals closed for weeks now.

For a long time, I have sat back, watching and wondering if and when there would be some form of a push-back to the overtly globalist and multicultural aspirations of the current ruling Western elites. The Brexit vote and the election of Donald Trump were clearly democratic manifestations of this push-back in Britain and the United States. But I have wondered what, if anything, might happen in mainland Western Europe, where the European “dream” is much more tightly entrenched, and controlled.

Perhaps this so-called “yellow vest” movement is the start of this push-back. Whether it is or it isn’t remains to be seen, and only time will tell for sure. One thing that is for certain though, is that the unhappiness and discontent that has existed for quite some time, growing and bubbling just underneath the surface in Western European society, is now spilling out into the open as barely controlled rage.

From a biblical perspective, this is also not really a surprise. The fragmentation and collapse of traditional power structures or, at the very least, the significant undermining of them, must happen so that soon one unique individual, one charismatic, sophisticated, charming, intellectual man, who is a political, military and economic genius without compare, can come from seemingly nowhere and take hold of the fractured reins of powers, and unify Europe and the world’s power systems under his sole rule.

Before that can happen though, there needs to be chaos. I have spent my entire adult working life so far as a history teacher, and have studied countless wars and conflicts. I have seen the carnage and destruction wrought when nations fight against each other, and the utter destruction that often is left in its wake.

Yet despite this ruin, amongst the wreckage of destroyed cities and towns, after the slaughter has ended, when the dust settles and wars come to an end, the traditional power structures almost always without exception seem to remain in some shape or form. Government as a concept still remains. It is merely a different person that steps into the Prime Minister’s Office, or behind the presidential desk, when the chaos finally subsides.

The only thing, historically, that seems to sweep such power structures away is popular revolution and revolt.

I have heard many argue, quite persuasively, that when the rapture occurs it will bring many countries to their knees. Without question it will. But afterwards, when countries are picking themselves up, the pre-existent power structures that were in place pre-rapture will still remain in place post-rapture. And there will certainly still be people available and willing to step into the void left by those who are “snatched away.”

What we could be witness to now, and only time will tell if this is true, may be the beginning of an incendiary, longer-term process that begins to undermine traditional power structures themselves, especially in Europe, in preparation for that one single appalling individual who will ultimately come to unite all power and authority under and in himself.

The current multinational system will have to fall so that it can be replaced, and war never seems to quite do this. Mass societal chaos does.

I have to wonder how much the obvious push-back we are witness to today is a part of that process. Only time will tell. One thing that is a certainty though, is that 2019 – much like 2018 was – will be a time of significant change.

  1. France Yellow Vest Protests: Macron Promises Wage Rise
  2. France Prepares Last Resort Chemical Weapon
  3. Germany and Immigration: The Changing Face of the Country
  4. Angela Merkel Defends Open Border Migration Policy

wardmatt1977@gmail.com

 

 

Christmas Really is a Time of Hope :: By Matt Ward

Christmas Really is a Time of Hope
“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).

One of the most important messages ever given by Jesus before he ascended into heaven has brightened Christmas every year for centuries. It has given hope for two millennia. That message, sometimes lost today, is that Jesus is alive and He is coming again soon!

As the disciples stood gazing into the clouds after the resurrected Lord had ascended from the surface of the earth, rising higher and higher into the sky, two angels, like lightening, suddenly appeared with a vitally important message:

“Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).

There is a hope embedded into this message that one day Jesus will return for his own. Just a short time earlier, while Jesus was celebrating Passover with His disciples, he revealed to them,

“Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward” (John 13:36).

The disciples must have felt crushed. This was the Man most of them believed would usher in a new Messianic age, and here He is telling them that He is departing and leaving them in their greatest hour of need. The disciples must have been distraught, feeling as though the very ground they stood upon had been pulled out from underneath them.

But then Jesus reassured them:

“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1-3).

Jesus was departing from them with a specific purpose in mind, and he had a definite plan to return. He wasn’t intending to just leave them, but described a very real scenario through which they would once again be united to him and with him.

Jesus referred to a Jewish wedding to help His disciples understand. Using this imagery, Jesus attempted to convey not only the absolute certainty of his return, but the inexpressible joy that would accompany it.

In Jewish weddings after paying tribute to the bride’s father and establishing the marriage covenant with his father-in-law, the Jewish bridegroom would return home to his own father for a time to prepare a dwelling place in his own father’s house that was fit for his bride. This is where the Jewish bride and bridegroom would eventually live, in the father’s house.

After completing the dwelling place to his father’s satisfaction, and allowing for his fiancé to adjust to and prepare for married life, the father of the groom would indicate that it was time for the bridegroom to return for his beautiful bride. With a shout, the bridegroom would announce his arrival; and along with his trusted companions and friends, would take her away to her new home. The bride would leave her old home on hearing the voice of her new husband and immediately leave for her new home with her new husband.

This is the imagery that Jesus used to convey the meaning of His absence. This imagery perfectly fits the concept of the Rapture of the church when Jesus Christ, after leaving to prepare a place for his Bride would once again return so “…that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:3).

Later, Paul also describes how Christ “loved the church and gave Himself for her… that He might present her to Himself a glorious church” (Ephesians 5:25, 27).

The apostle John, in his Apocalypse, glimpsed this glorious future when he saw the Marriage Supper of the Lamb: “The Lamb [Christ] has come, and His wife has made herself ready… arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright” (Rev. 19:7-8). If you are a believer in Jesus Christ—this is your destiny.

From the first members of the bride of Christ, huddled together in the upper room during the final Passover celebration, to each member of the Church today, each one of us has now become members of a royal priesthood through Jesus Christ:

“You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:10).

We have become unique, a peculiar people:

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9).

This picture is foreshadowed in the Old Testament. As John Walvoord states:

“Some expositors have found, for instance, in the marriages of Isaac and Rebekah, Joseph and Asenath, Moses and Zipporah, and Boaz and Ruth a typical representation of the plan of God to present Christ with a bride, the church, composed largely of Gentiles. In each of these illustrations, the bride is non-Jewish, that is, not a descendant of Jacob.”

God is forming his Church from all the nations of the world. This has always been his plan.

“I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd” (John 10:16).

When Jesus departed, he emphasized that his purpose was to prepare a place for his Bride and that he would shortly return for them. The phrase…and if I go and prepare a place for you…conditionally links His departure with His return: “I will come again” (John 14:3).

In the Greek, the word translated “will come” is actually in the present tense. Jesus is literally saying, “I am coming,” which carries a future force…to emphasize the certainty of Jesus’ return for his disciples.

The analogy of the ancient Jewish wedding ceremony that Jesus uses guarantees Jesus’ return for his Church. Therefore, “Be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand” (James 5:8).

We are entering a time in history that the Bible speaks much about. Indeed, the Bible talks more about the events of this generation and Jesus’ Second Coming than it does His first appearance on this earth. We stand on the cusp of world-changing and momentous events.

In view of the change occurring daily, and the sheer pace of that change, no doubt the world will be a dramatically different place just twelve months from now. For some of us this may mean persecution is ahead – each and every passing day does seem to make this reality more of a certainty in my own mind, especially if the Lord tarries.

But we have a living, dynamic and real hope. We have Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Lord and Savior. Never will he leave us; never will he forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

Whatever the future may bring, we are servants of the King; and that fact alongside the very real promise Jesus made that He will come back at some point soon and take us to be with Him, that we may be where He is, should fill us with hope and give us peace.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

So keep looking up! Merry Christmas!

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt 28:20).

wardmatt1977@gmail.com