Sunday, 9 June 2013

13 End-time Prophetic Events—in Exact Sequence

13 End-time Prophetic Events—in Exact Sequence

A previous Real Truth article covered the failed prophecy of a radio preacher about May 21, 2011, and his prediction about an October 21, 2011 doomsday. It addressed how to know false prophets from God’s servants, and much more.
But what is the truth of Bible prophecy?
Jesus Christ, along with Old Testament prophets and other New Testament writers, spoke about specific events and trends that would precede His Return. There are about 70 that occur in sequence, culminating in the Return of Christ. Some are larger than others—but all are provable. The purpose of this unique Personal is to simply and briefly reveal in sequential order the first of 13 major events. They form a foundation to understand the answers to the most crucial questions about the future!
I will be plain about what is coming! To defeat widespread confusion, no punches can be pulled.
Many sense the world is hurtling toward calamity. Mankind is overwhelmed with every kind of trouble, evil and ill—terrorism, violence of every kind, pollution, overpopulation, political upheaval, religious confusion and tremendous economic turmoil and decline, which suggests an even worse Great Depression is ahead.
New diseases keep emerging and old ones are re-emerging. Famine is decimating entire segments of local populations. And incomprehensibly lethal weapons of mass destruction now threaten humanity.
Hundreds of millions live in abject poverty, ignorance and oppression. Add rampant and worsening immorality and perversion across the world—and the never-ending cycle of hatred and unrest growing ever worse in the Middle East—and earthquakes, volcanoes and frightening weather patterns across the world—and devastating fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, droughts and floods occurring more often and in more places. Headlines scream daily of seemingly endless problems. World conditions, events and trends speak in frightening terms about how things could quickly turn in the wrong direction.

Source of Answers

Most do not know where or how to look within God’s Word to get correct understanding of how events will play out, sequentially, within God’s Master Plan for the end of the age. And, instead of examining the hundreds of verses on prophecy themselves for proof, many are content to trust supposed experts.
One-third of the Bible is prophecy—history written in advance. Over 80 percent of this future history is unfulfilled. Many major events must yet occur. God wants His servants to understand them. He has provided clues—necessary vital keys!—to understanding what lies ahead for the world.
The prophet Isaiah explained that God’s Word is written, “…precept upon preceptline upon linehere a little, and there a little…” (28:10). Nowhere is this Bible pattern more true than with prophecy. And another great Bible truth is that this Book interprets itself.
Millions are wondering about the course of events, and whether the world is on the brink of destruction. Jesus’ disciples asked Him about final events. Notice: “The disciples came…saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? And what shall be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the world [meaning age]?” (Matt. 24:3).
The idea of the world ending has been a subject of discussion and speculation, but also ridicule, for almost 2,000 years. Is the world nearing Christ’s Return—are these the end times? Can we know?
Now begins examination of 13 events or conditions—in sequence—that precede Christ’s Return. We will count forward from the present.

NUMBER 1: The worldwide breakdown of character

The apostle Paul warned, “In the last days perilous [or dangerous] times shall come…” (II Tim. 3:1). Here is what he describes: “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God” (vs. 2-4). This time has come!—and it is worsening!
Look around. People’s conduct is changing. More authority figures are sounding the alarm that human nature is running wild—and conditions are exploding out of control! No thinking person can disagree.
Matthew 24, Luke 21 and Mark 13 are parallel accounts of what is called the Olivet Prophecy. This crucial prophecy works in combination with the books of Revelation and Daniel, and puts in sequential order events that span the entire period from Christ’s First Coming until His Return 2,000 years later. Jesus explained exactly what would occur—what the serious observer should be looking for—and expect. He presented, in plain, clear language, all key events and trends. These parallel Revelation 6 precisely. Matthew 24 provides clues, which explain the symbols we will study in Revelation. You will see Jesus gives a direct answer to a direct question.
Paul’s last-days description culminates with, “Evil men and seducers shall wax [grow] worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” (II Tim. 3:13).

NUMBER 2: False Christianity grows much worse

First, Jesus told His disciples, “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in My name, saying, I [Jesus] am Christ; and shall deceive many” (Matt. 24:4-5). Jesus goes straight to the problem that would exist—there would be many deceivers at work. Christ warned that the many would be deceived by those claiming to represent Him—not the few. Are you concerned about this?
The number of false teachers and false prophets is exploding, exactly as Jesus warned three times (just in Matthew 24) would occur. Most are unaware of this deception—and its impact throughout Christianity.
Now let’s read the exact parallel in the first seal of Revelation 6. Understand that what the apostle John records is written in symbols, not plain language. He introduces the infamous Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: “The Lamb [Jesus] opened one of the seals…behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer” (Rev. 6:1-2). The white horse represents false Christianity. The rider is a counterfeit of the true Christ and a counterfeit of His Second Coming, described in Revelation 19:11-16. There, the real Christ wields a sharp two-edged sword, while the false christ is carrying a bow. Do not overlook this critical difference!
Since false teachers, ministers and false prophets have been plying their trade for centuries, Jesus’ warning for the end of the age must involve a big increase in the power, prevalence and influence of false Christianity.

NUMBER 3: War grows much worse

Following false Christianity, Jesus states, “You shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that you be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Matt. 24:6-7).
This requires no interpretation. In fact, it is Jesus’ interpretation of Revelation 6. As we read the remaining seals, we have Jesus telling us in advance what we are viewing—what the symbols mean. All mystery disappears.
When the second seal opens, a red horse appears: “When He had opened the second seal…there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth,
and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword” (Rev. 6:3-4).
The same Jesus Christ would not give two different versions of what happens immediately before His Return. He would not tell one thing to His disciples of the first century, and another to those of the 21st century! This should be obvious.
The sword of Revelation 6 is shown as an instrument of war and killing. This horse and rider take peace from the earth. When peace leaves, war remains—what Christ described in Matthew 24:6.
Wars have continued and grown steadily worse since the time of Christ’s prophecy. This part of John’s astounding vision has the gravest implications for all alive on Earth today. This horseman represents the dreadful destruction of world war. By the end of the age, the potential for devastation in war has become so great it holds the power to take peace not just from two or more nations, but “from the earth.”
Only in the modern age have weapons of mass destruction been available. The 20th century saw the two most devastating wars in history, with WWII far more destructive than WWI. We are in the last intermission preceding the truly greatest war, foretold to exceed anything before it. A sinning, rebellious humanity is reaching the end of its rope, when war’s potential cannot grow worse, because it can erase all life from Earth in one last blast of total destruction—if Christ did not intervene and cut events “short” (Matt. 24:22).

NUMBER 4: Wars and commotions

Jesus added this in Luke 21: “When you shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by [or yet]” (vs. 9). The Greek word for “commotions” means disorder, confusion and tumult. An expanded definition could include acts and effects of terrorism, such as bombings, but also demonstrations, protests and riots. These things have almost arrived full force. But civil disobedience and related acts, including violence, will grow far worse than today’s mere front edge.

NUMBER 5: Famine

The pattern of history is that famine always follows war. In Matthew 24, Christ also said, “There shall be famines…” (vs. 7). This is reiterated in Revelation 6—when the black horse appears. Notice: “He…opened the third seal…and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice…say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see you hurt not the oil and the wine” (vs. 5-6).
This pictures extreme worldwide famine—a widespread lack of food beyond anything civilization has seen. This condition is seen to seize the entire world in a terrible way. Famines are increasing now. They are now far worse than most imagine. Around 24,000 people on Earth starve to death every day—with this number steadily rising!
All nations are poised for a never-before-seen global food crisis. Drastic changes will soon come to an interconnected modern world. No more will supermarket shelves brim with abundance. No more vast exports. No more wealthy nations able to assist countries stricken with drought and famine. Articles every day declare that the black horse is just over the horizon for all nations! Believe this!

NUMBER 6: Troubles

Mark’s account of Jesus’ list adds a word not found in Matthew or Luke: “There shall be famines and troubles...” (13:8). The Greek word translated troubles means “disturbance, that is, (of water) roiling, or (of a mob) sedition: trouble.” While this brings to mind riots, civil uprisings, protests, violent crime and gang war—and these are connected to commotions—it also includes a range of difficulties that would come from floods, tremendous hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons, and other severe storms—all forms of “roiling water.” Mark’s gospel indicates that these things will also grow worse. Make yourself see what is already happening.

NUMBER 7: Disease

If war leads to famine, and it does—the resulting malnutrition invites a host of diseases. Jesus next said, “There shall be…pestilences [or diseases]…” (Matt. 24:7). The fourth seal reveals a pale horse: “When He had opened the fourth seal…behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth [one in every four people], to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth” (Rev. 6:7-8).
This horse is depicted as pale because it is sickly. It obviously represents disease—pestilence! The pale horseman’s arrival portends that hundreds of millions—and not just in poor, underdeveloped countries—will perish through terrifying disease epidemics. The reference to “Death”—the end result of disease—and “Hell”—hades, meaning the grave—make this clear. The death toll now from disease around the world is staggering—82,000 lives lost every day, 30 million a year—and growing!
Disease will soon alter the course of history in a profound way. Horrific epidemics, the likes of which have never been seen, will strike the world’s wealthiest nations. And coming pandemics will dwarf all that preceded them. The ensuing chaos will affect you, and all of your loved ones. Everything around you will change for the worse.

NUMBER 8: Animal attacks

Revelation describes “beasts of the earth.” The prophet Ezekiel recorded, “The sword is without, and the pestilence and the famine within: he that is in the field shall die with the sword; and he that is in the city, famine and pestilence shall devour him” (Eze. 7:15). First, notice the similarity to Matthew 24 and Revelation 6. When one allows the Bible to interpret itself, a clear picture emerges every time.
Ezekiel continues, “Thus says the Lord God; As I live, surely they that are in the wastes shall fall by the sword, and him that is in the open field will I give to the beasts to be devoured, and they that be in the forts and in the caves shall die of the pestilence” (33:27). The picture painted is almost too horrifying to contemplate.
There is seen to be no way out! God permits no escape for those who will not turn to Him! Many will try to flee, but will be unable. Death will literally pursue them like a tracker an outlaw. In fact, you saw one fourth of all human beings will die from the horsemen and wild animals—and this is before things get much worse.
Revelation 6:8 becomes one of the Bible’s most powerful single passages—or what might be called a summary statement—on the entire subject of prophecy. Grasp the sheer awesome magnitude of the message here.

NUMBER 9: Earthquakes and volcanic activity

Earthquakes and volcanoes have become regular in the news. The greatest period of activity in history is now underway. Jesus warned, “There shall be...earthquakes in [various] places” (Matt. 24:7).
Jesus says earthquakes would be here and there—but also that they would increase in frequency and intensity before His Return. Luke adds “great earthquakes” (21:11). The word translated “great” is megas, meaning “big,” “great,” “high, large, loud, mighty,” and “strong.” Believe Christ’s words. Mega-earthquakes—of awesome magnitude, resulting in tremendous, widespread destruction. This sets apart the time when earthquakes come more often and with more destruction from less frequent relatively “average” quakes in previous periods of history. The same would be true of volcanic activity.
A second point is seen by comparing Luke and Mark to Matthew. The latter lists earthquakes at the end of war, famine and disease. Luke and Mark list them before these things. The point is obvious. They will occur throughout the final years when false Christianity, war, famine and disease have grown worse.
Grasp what you have learned! In effect, Jesus has given an advance newscast—or the headlines—of events and conditions that are all around us and will grow much worse.
Remember, it is not my purpose here to prove every detail of every prophecy. We can only examine summaries of the most crucial events to come. The serious reader will want detail—and that detail is available. The purpose here is to give the briefest thumbnail—a powerful overview—of what is happening.

NUMBER 10: True gospel is preached

Jesus foretold that a worldwide effort to preach the true gospel would occur before the end! Notice: “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matt. 24:14). This means someone is preaching the gospel of the kingdom today, in our present age, because the end—close as it now is—has not yet come!
Delivering the only true gospel to the world—the good news of the coming kingdom of God!—is the Work of God’s Church! While this commission began with the original apostles, The Restored Church of God continues it. The message and goal are the same—only the methods differ. Today, God’s truth is available as never before. Vast thousands the world over are learning sound principles, straight from their Bibles, helping them to live happier lives.
The Restored Church of God offers more material—more truth in writing and in video and audio form—than at any time in the history of God working with mankind. Check this for yourself. And we offer it all without cost on our websites. We are the largest (most extensive) religious publishing operation in the world—now or ever.
Our websites, collectively—, and—are also the most extensive religious websites of any kind in the world—now or ever!

NUMBER 11: The world is warned

This event works alongside number 10. The world does not know God. It is unaware of the Plan and Purpose He is working out. Worldwide disobedience to His laws, and rejection of His truths, will cause horrible plagues to be poured out on a God-rejecting humanity. But the God of the Bible is a loving God. Before punishment, He always makes certain His “watchman” sounds the alarm to those in harm’s way. Notice: “Son of man, I have set you a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear the word at My mouth, and warn them from Me. When I say to the wicked, O wicked man, you shall surely die; if you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity [lawlessness]; but his blood will I require at your hand. Nevertheless, if you warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul [your life]” (Ezek. 33:7-9). Also read verses 30-33.
God wants no one to have an excuse, to say, “I didn’t know” or “Why didn’t you tell me?”
It becomes our responsibility to warn all who will take heed of the seriousness and meaning behind world-shaking events and calamities, soon to come on a sleepy, unsuspecting world. The prophet Isaiah wrote, “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up your voice like a trumpet, and show My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins” (58:1). The job of The Real Truth magazine is to issue this warning while there is still time.
Jesus makes a special promise in Revelation 3: “Behold, I have set before you [His Church, in context] an open door, and no man can shut it” (3:8). This door refers to the Work God’s Church must carry out and complete.
My book The Bible’s Greatest Prophecies Unlocked! – A Voice Cries Out is unlike anything you have ever read. Many have and are reading it. Even greater numbers soon will. I urge you to read this book. It goes far beyond what is covered in this Personal.

NUMBER 12: The Holy Roman Empire is resurrected

Revelation 17:8-9 describes a Beast that ascends out of a bottomless pit and is ridden by a “woman.” Verse 12 shows that this Beast involves 10 kings who shall receive power and unite to bequeath it to a leader who will take the role of the Beast.
Comparing Revelation 13 and 17, with Daniel 2 and 7, brings full understanding of this Beast, and the system it represents. Numerous Old Testament scriptures also refer to this system, but these are the most critical chapters to understand. Combined, they explain a staggering—and deeply sobering!—prophecy about latter-day events that will affect all peoples in your lifetime!
This seventh, final, short-lived resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire is arising now in the heart of Europe! A United Europe is coming—and lies just ahead. When it appears, the entire world will stand in shocked amazement.
Revelation 13 describes a symbolic Beast with seven heads, 10 horns and 10 crowns, as well as a second beast with two horns. The first Beast represents the Roman Empire—a political kingdom. The two-horned beast represents the headquarters of an influential, prophetic woman, or church, that controls the first Beast. Revelation 13 also describes the “image” and the “mark” of this Beast. The prophet Daniel explained that the “ten horns” of Revelation 13 were 10 successive governments, which arose out of the Roman Empire and continue until Christ’s Second Coming. Daniel states, “The ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings [or governments] that shall arise” (7:24). Who are these 10 kings? Start by recognizing they must be successive, not simultaneous because they span a period from AD 476 until Christ’s Return. Obviously, no man can live this long and neither has any single government, empowered by Rome, lasted this long.
Briefly, beginning in AD 554, the Roman Empire became known as the Holy Roman Empire. Historians almost universally acknowledge that the pope’s crowning of Justinian signaled this change. Over the centuries, new rulers appeared and were crowned—Charlemagne (AD 800)—Otto the Great (962)—the Hapsburg Dynasty of Charles V (1520)—then Napoleon (1805)—with the sixth head being Garibaldi’s united Italian head from 1870-1945! This revival of the Holy Roman Empire culminated in the defeat of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. Mussolini, after signing a secret agreement with the Vatican in 1929, united Ethiopia, Eritrea and Italian Somaliland back to Italy in 1935. He declared this to be the Roman Empire re-established!
But there is another figure who appears on the world scene during this period of end-time events.

NUMBER 13: The False Prophet appears

This event could easily be exchanged with number 12 because these appear at or about the same time. The Revelation 17 “woman” riding the Beast is a great false church—and the evidence of this is overwhelming. This explains the “Holy” attached to “Roman Empire.” Like one who rides a horse, camel or elephant, the woman directs, controls and guides the animal to go where she wants and do what she wants. This church is led by a leader the Bible calls the “False Prophet.” The Beast and False Prophet will combine to rebuild and lead a powerful religious-governmental system. Many verses show that demons will bring the power to work miracles through this system.
The False Prophet is also called the “Man of Sin,” among other names. Paul wrote, “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day [the day of Christ] shall not come, except there come a falling away first [a prophecy fulfilled in the late 20th century among God’s people], and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (II Thes. 2:3-4). This religious figure will be revealed some time before God’s Work is over.
This final, world-charming False Prophet will lead all nations to worship the Beast! The deception will be so widespread that these men will actually deceive all mankind into fighting Christ at His Return (Rev. 16:9, 13-16; 17:13-14).
A regathering of power—under two men—is foretold to happen one more time!
Look for the final 13 events, culminating in Christ’s Second Coming, in an upcoming Real Truth issue.
For much more about what will happen in your lifetime, read my vital book The Bible’s Greatest Prophecies Unlocked! – A Voice Cries Out.

End Time Events

End-Time Timeline 
This generation stands upon the precipice of the wrap-up of human history. We can say this upon a platform of certainty. Our end-time stage is built upon a solid structure of knowledge. It provides strength of understanding from which no other generation of human beings could have spoken.
The prophet Daniel predicted precisely this time on God's prophetic timeline, I am convinced: "But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased" (Dan. 12:4).
The Book Opened
Those who studied Bible prophecy throughout the decades since the close of the second century did so in the dark, from the point of history not shedding much illumination on how God's prophetic Word would unfold. The angel had told Daniel the prophet that this would be the case--that the book (the understanding of end things) would remained closed until the time of the very end was reached.
Bible prophecy was then put on the back burner, for the most part, as far as any endeavors into understanding end-times matters was concerned. The Catholic Church in its various manifestations, then the Reformation church derivatives of Martin Luther and the others, drifted far from the early church fathers' devotion to studying the part of the Scriptures that dealt with prophecy yet future. It was, in my view, intellectual and spiritual laziness, as much as luciferian influence, that caused this callous disregard for prophecy to infect the Body of Christ.
Some would say that this must have been the way God wanted it. He must have desired for believers to not have understanding, so doused the light of understanding during this long period -longer even than the 400-plus year drought of prophetic activity just prior to Christ's first advent. That's one way of looking at the dearth of prophetic enlightenment during the almost 2,000 years since Christ's resurrection. However, I believe the words of the angel to Daniel telling the old prophet to "shut up the book" was more akin to the Bible's telling about Abraham, David, and Solomon having multiple wives, and even concubines. God reported these things, but He did not cause them to happen. Nor did God approve of these goings on. The Lord used reports of these sins to show His children down through the ages the folly, even deadly consequences, of disobeying their heavenly Father. The lessons of these sinful activities of even the greatest of the Bible heroes is that we are fallen, and without staying close to the Creator "our Father" we, too, can and will slip into egregious activities that push us away from God's loving, directing hand.
This disobedience, He is telling us through such reportage, causes severe repercussions and ramifications. There is no better example of those repercussions and ramifications than what has happened since Abraham and Sarah decided to get ahead of God's will when Sarah sent her handmaid, Hagar, into her husband to produce an heir. And, this is where that disobedience and prophecy yet future converge and merge. The whole world faces the consequences of that sin today in the hate-filled conflict between Arabs and Jews that is gushing humanity toward man's final conflagration - Armageddon. So, the angel's instruction to Daniel to "close up the book" (of understanding end-time things) was God's reporting, in my view, the deliberate intellectual and spiritual slothfulness - even callous disregard - that would clutch the minds of even God's best Bible students until the very end of days. God was reporting this dearth of His people being able to ascertain end-time matters. God did not cause the book of understanding to be closed so they would't comprehend.
The vital, glorious thing to see is that now that book has, I'm convinced it is overwhelmingly obvious, been open, and each and every hour seems to bring increased understanding. Knowledge is indeed increasing, and at an exponential rate!
Timeline Issues and Events
Signals that we are in the end times are so ubiquitous, and at the same time proliferating at such a profound pace, that it is sometimes difficult even for those of us who watch diligently to fully gather within our eschatological radar scopes all that is occurring. But Jesus, right after giving those signals that would be prevalent leading up to His second coming, concluded, as reported in the book of Mark: "And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch" (Mk. 13:37).
It is therefore incumbent upon us "all Christians" to discern the signs of the times. We will look at them, trying to put them in the order given us by Jesus and the prophets as they foretold these end-time things. Those who consider such things calculate that about 27 percent of God's Word is given to prophecy. Roughly half, those who figure these things believe, has been fulfilled. Therefore about 14 percent of Bible prophecy is yet to be fulfilled. Careful study of the historical record validates Bible prophets as 100 percent accurate, in considering prophecies already fulfilled. We can, through application of human rationale, therefore, think the rest of prophecy will likely be fulfilled. Christians should trust, without reservation, that their Lord, the "Word" (John 1:1-2), will accomplish fulfillment of the remaining prophecies - those yet future.
Those who read this article following the disappearance of millions of people, the rapture of all believers in Jesus Christ, are urged to examine the history of these matters. Those who read this post-rapture will have considerable, and quite recent, history to look to and consider whether God's Word is true, about end-times matters.
As this is written, the world stands on God's prophetic timeline facing the apocalyptic storm in the distance while it approaches. If you are reading this following the rapture, you are likely actually in the early stages of that prophesied storm of evil - the last seven years of human history that lead to the second coming of Jesus Christ to Planet Earth.
There are no prophecies yet to be fulfilled before the rapture of Christ's Church. That is not to say prophecies yet future will NOT be fulfilled before the rapture, just that none are given that MUST BE fulfilled before that stunning event.
We will not address here all of the many geophysical and even societal and cultural "perilous times" signals we see all around us in this generation. We will look at specific major events scheduled to unfold. However, it is unavoidable to think of the birth-pang like convulsions of earthquakes, record hurricanes, and the upheavals of violence that seems to fill the whole earth, while thinking on the following.
Israel: Prophecy Fulfilled
Many of us who carefully study these matters believe that Israel's once again being a nation in its ancient homeland, and with its ancient language, Hebrew, is a fulfillment of prophecy. I don't see how it can be otherwise. Israel has to be back in the land for the final prophecies to roll out as foretold. That nation is at the very heart of end-times things to come. The most profound prophecy in that regard is the fact that the Messiah - the returning Lord of Lords and King of Kings will set His throne atop Zion once He returns. That will be a dramatic topographically changed Mt. Moriah, with Christ's millennial temple set high above the city of Jerusalem.
But, before that happens, Israel will have to endure the time of "Jacob's trouble" (Jer. 30:7). It will be the worst time ever in history for that people, according to Jesus, himself. As a matter of fact, His prophecy indicates the same degree of horror for the whole world at that time. He said: "For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be" (Matt. 24:21). Zechariah the prophet foretold there would be an Israel and a Jerusalem during that period of tribulation. God spoke the following through His prophet: "And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it" (Zech. 12:3).
Israel today is already the center of attention, and of much scorn from its neighbors and the rest of the world. As I often say when interviewed, no matter which way the news microphones and cameras turn to capture other stories, they always swing right back to Israel, Jerusalem, and the surrounding areas. That is because that region offers the greatest threat to spark thermonuclear conflagration. The Bible foretells that it WILL host the most horrific conflict of human history - Armageddon!
End-Times Order of Things To Come
With that framework --that Israel is back in the land, which is surely a fulfilling of prophecy-- let us look at where things unfold from here on God's end-Times timeline.
Rapture - While the storm clouds of apocalypse gather and approach, Christians attuned to God's whole word should watch, according to the Lord Jesus Christ. They should be aware of the elements of that approaching storm of tribulation. Things of society, cultures, in every endeavor of life, will, at the same time, seem to be business as usual. Times will be like the days of Noah and Lot at the moment of His next intervention into the affairs of humanity, according to Jesus. (Read Luke 17: 26-30.) It will be a catastrophic intervention. Jesus will step out on the clouds of glory and shout "Come up here!" (Rev. 4:1-2). All Christians - those who accept Christ's blood atonement for salvation (born-again believers) will instantly be with Jesus above the earth. (Read 1 Cor. 15: 51-55 and 1 Thes. 4:13-18.) Millions of people (those raptured) will vanish, will disappear from the planet before the astonished eyes of those left behind. Those who have gone to be with the Lord will be taken back to heaven, where He has prepared a place of eternal dwelling for them (Jn. 14:1-3). The bema judgment (to give rewards for service to the Lord while on earth) will take place. Crowns will be handed out to God's family. The marriage supper of the Lamb will occur (Christ's Bride made ready for the wedding), then the Wedding Feast (Revelation 19:9). Things on Planet Earth will be gearing up for the great end-time storm. God, the Holy Spirit, according to 2 Thessalonians, chapter 2, will remove as restrainer during the times following the rapture.
World Leader Comes Forth - The nations of earth will be in chaos. The turmoil will cause severe ramifications while governments seek to restore civil order and regain governmental and economic equilibrium. Profound shifts of power will likely take place, with the EU becoming the new superpower, absorbing America's power and authority, the U.S. having lost the most people in key places, thus having suffered the most loss of control. According to prophecy, one man will step forward to proffer a plan to quell the fears of war in the Middle East (Daniel 9:27). This prophecy correlates to Revelation 6: 2, with the rider on the white horse riding forth.
Peace Covenant Confirmed - The great world leader will arrive just in time to look to be the shining knight on the white horse. He will have the answer to the looming all-out war in the Middle East. He will be able to sell a seven-year peace plan that is already available, apparently. Israel will agree to the covenant, as will her enemies, and, in effect, the whole world will accept the European leader's masterful sales pitch. But Israel's acceptance will fly in the face of God. This "covenant made with death and Hell," as it is called in Isaiah, chapter 28, will cause God's judgmental wrath to begin to fall.
Attack upon Israel - The Gog-Magog attack prophesied by Ezekiel is one that is controversial, so far as to where it will fit into the end-times timeline is concerned. Some has the event just before or in conjunction with the rapture, while others believe it will happen right after the rapture or nearer the mid-point of the seven-year tribulation period. Russia is destined to present some of the most fearsome trials and tribulations for Israel. Gog, "chief prince of Rosh," is the leader of Russia described in Ezekiel 38 and 39. In ancient language, Gog means "leader." "Rosh" is the ancient name for the land of Russia. In the last days, Russia will be the leading nation of the Gog-Magog coalition of nations that will make a move against Israel and be defeated by a supernatural act of God. Persia (Iran) comes right along beside Russia, in prophetic parlance. According to Ezekiel 38:5, Iran will aid Russia in attacking Israel before or during the tribulation. Even now, Iran acts as a destabilizing force in the world.
144,000 Evangelists - The Lord will not allow the dark, satanic realm to go unchallenged. God will seal (protect from Satan and his minions) 144,000 Jewish men with the gospel message of Jesus Christ, the only way to salvation, redemption, and reconciliation to God, the Father. (Read Rev. 7: 3-8.) These will proclaim the gospel message throughout the world. Millions upon millions of people will hear the message and become Christians of the tribulation period.
Two Old Testament-Type Prophets Preach - Two Jewish men will be placed during this period for preaching then Gospel, and for pointing the finger of judgment if repentance isn't forthcoming. No one knows for sure who these men will be, but there seems good evidence that at least one of them will be Elijah, the Old Testament prophet whom God took up from earth in a fiery whirlwind. The Satanic governmental regime will seek to kill these men, but will not be able to do so until God allows. Anyone who tries to kill them will, in like manner, be killed, according to the prophetic Word. Finally, the regime will be able to kill them. There dead bodies will lie in the streets of Jerusalem for three days, then they will be resurrected to life, and will lift into the sky before the astonished eyes of their murderers and of the whole world.
Antichrist Revealed - The great world leader , who confirmed the seven-year peace covenant, convincing Israel and its enemies to rely on him and his regime to keep the peace, will be struck with a deadly head wound. But, he will resurrect, supposedly, from death. He will, following this, in what I believe will be a false resurrection (possibly following the defeat of the Gog-Magog forces), suddenly walk into the Jewish temple atop Mt. Moriah at Jerusalem and declare himself to be God. He will demand worship from all of the world's inhabitants. (Read 2 Thes. Chapter 2 and Revelation, chapter 13.) He is then revealed as Antichrist, the son of perdition, the man of sin. He will cause all to accept his mark or be cut out of the economic system - all buying and selling. He will order all killed, who will not worship him. The chief method of death dealing will be beheading. His partner in the satanic duo will point all worship to the beast - Antichrist. The false prophet will be AntiChrist's John the Baptist figure.
Jews Flee - Jesus forewarned the Jews who will occupy Jerusalem at the time of AntiChrist's revelation to flee to the mountains. (Read Matthew chapter 24, and Revelation, chapter 12.) This era, the mid-way point of the seven-year tribulation era, will begin the time of Jacob's trouble (Jer. 30: 7) - a time Jesus says will be the worst time of all history (Matt 24: 21). Antichrist will begin the greatest genocide ever to be visited upon the planet.
Antichrist Institutes Regime - AntiChrist's regime will cause all to give worship to the beast, the Revelation 13 term for Antichrist. He will apparently set up some sort of idol, before which all must bow. This will likely be done by the image of himself being telecast in some way to all the world. (Read Revelation chapter 13.) His regime will consist of 10 kingdoms, whose newly crowned kings (political leaders of the region) will give all of their authority and power to Antichrist. We might be seeing the formative months and years of the formation of this 10-kingdom development with the various trading blocs beginning to form. The European Union seems to be the prototype for those that will follow. The North American Union (NAU) that seems to be underway in development, bringing America, Canada, and Mexico together in an economic trading bloc, appears to be one such "kingdom" in the making. Antichrist will bring together one world government, one world economy, and one world religion, to some extent - for a brief time, at least. This is a Babylonian-type system that will all but enslave the entire world.
Babylon System of Religion, Economy, Government Rules - The Babylonian system will actually be an extension of the revived Roman Empire. This was prophesied in Daniel, chapters 2, 7, 9, and 11, as well as in Revelation, chapter 13. Ancient Babylon's and the ancient Roman Empire's influence upon this end-time regime of hell on earth are described in Revelation, chapters 17 and 18. God will completely destroy the chief city of the end time Babylon in one hour, the Bible prophesies in Revelation, chapter 18.
Kings of East Threaten, then Move - China, today, is a growing economic and military behemoth. It exerts hegemony over its neighbors of the Orient. The Bible predicts a day during the tribulation when the "kings of the east" will march across the dried-up Euphrates River to do battle at Armageddon.This juggernaut will consist of 200 million troops, all, prophecy seems to indicate, demon possessed, while they cross the area of the Euphrates. (Read Revelation, Chapters 9 and 16.) All Meet at Armageddon - The kings of the east march toward a rendezvous with all other nations of the world. God says this about this meeting: "For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land" (Joel 3: 10-2). (Also, read Rev. 16:16, and Rev. 19: 17-18.)
Christ Returns - Just as the battle is becoming so violent that it threatens the end of all people and animals on earth, the black clouds of apocalypse unroll like a scroll, and brilliant light from heaven's core breaks through, revealing the King of kings and His armies and myriads of angelic hosts. "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God" (Rev. 19:11-15).
Christ Judges Nations - The conquering Creator of all things will establish His earthly throne atop Mt. Moriah, which will be supernaturally reconfigured from topographical renovations made for the millennium. All the nations of the world will come before the Lord Jesus Christ. (Read about the sheep-goats judgment in Matthew, chapter 25.) Those people who have made it alive through the seven-year tribulation will either be believers or unbelievers. Believers will be ushered into Christ's 1,000-year reign on earth, while unbelievers will be cast into everlasting darkness, the Scripture prophesies.
Christ Sets Up Millennial Kingdom - The millennial reign of Christ will begin, a time during which the false prophet and the beast (Antichrist), the first to be thrown into the lake of fire, will begin to serve their eternal sentences. Satan will be confined in the bottomless pit, and there will be none of his minions to torment and tempt the millennial earth-dwellers. It will be a time much like the times of Eden, with the earth restored to its pristine beauty. (Read Rev. 20-10.) After the 1,000 years, the devil will be released from the pit for a short space of time. He will lead millions of those who have been born during the millennium in an assault on Christ at Jerusalem. God will send down fire and consume them all. Satan will be cast into the lake of fire. The lost dead will be resurrected (their eternal bodies joined to their souls), and all will stand before the great white throne of Christ to be judged. All will be cast into the lake of fire for eternity. (Read Rev. 20:10-15.) God "Jesus Christ" will remake the heavens and the earth in preparation for everlasting, ever-growing ecstasy in God's presence. (Read Rev. 20:16-22: 16.)

World current events, trends, signs of the end times and Bible prophecy

The great tribulation with the Antichrist is almost upon us and like the almost prophetic song by Barry McGuire said, you see these things, "but you tell me over and over and over again my friend, Ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction".
Don Koenig has written 25 detailed articles below about world trends, world current events and signs of the end times that all correlate to indicate that the world is on the eve of destruction. The judgment on the earth spoken about in end time Bible prophecy is now imminent.

(Read about these many world trends and signs of the end times so that the coming great tribulation and great deception or strong delusion will not come on you unaware. You can escape the great trial and great tribulation that is coming on this prophetic generation by developing a personal relationship with Jesus! Christ! Yeshua! Jehovah! YHWH! the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!)

World current events, trends and signs of the end times

Fulfillment of end time Bible prophecy was not possible until Israel once again became a nation dwelling in her promised land with Jerusalem as her capitol. The restoration of Jews to their promised land is one of the prophetic signs of the end times but there are many other world current events, world trends and signs of the end times that indicate that the fulfillment of Bible prophecy is now at hand. Many in the world will find out too late that they are on the eve of destruction after the rapture of faithful Christians is followed by the arrival of the great tribulation, the great deception, and the Beast Antichrist.
The book of Daniel tells us that seventy sevens of years (490 years) will be upon Israel and the Holy City to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up the vision and prophecy and to anoint the most Holy. Thus far, 483 years (69 weeks of years) have been historically completed. After the 483rd year Daniel tells us that the Messiah would be cut off (Jesus). We know that the last seven years of this prophecy were never historically fulfilled because there was no restoration in the land of Israel or judgments as the prophets clearly declared. Therefore, we now should understand that the fulfillment of the last seven years for the Jewish people comes after the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled (Luk 21:24).
The times of the Gentiles is the age of God's grace to all nations who come to the Messiah through their trust in Jesus. After the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled there still remains the final seven years of transgression for the nation of Israel after which she will be restored to her rightful place as head of the nations. The prophetic scriptures indicate that toward the end of this tribulation period she will repent, call on the name of her true Messiah and at that time He will come to rescue her from the Beast Antichrist and establish the promised Jewish kingdom on earth.
Daniel, also tells us that the last seven years begins when Israel signs or confirms a covenant with a world leader that scripture identifies as the Beast (Antichrist). Jeremiah, in his prophecy, calls this time the time of "Jacob's trouble" (Israel's trouble). Daniel, Jesus and John in Revelation speak of 1260 days of great tribulation just before Israel's restoration. During this period true Israel accepts Jesus Christ as her true Messiah and at the end of the 1260 days Jesus comes to earth in great power and glory and destroys all of the armies of the world that the Beast Antichrist deceived to come against Israel. The Beast Antichrist and his False Prophet will be cast alive into the Lake of Fire. Jesus will then set up the promised kingdom age of peace and justice on earth ruled from Jerusalem for one thousand years
The 1260 day period, also known as the "great tribulation" and the "day of the Lord", will begin when the Beast Antichrist enters the rebuilt Jewish temple and claims to be God. He and his false prophet will deceive the whole world. Jesus warned in in His Olivet discourse that this event would mark the time of the worst destruction on the earth that it will ever know. Jesus said if He did not shorten the days of this destruction no flesh would survive.
Jesus will remove His faithful Church sometime prior to these 1260 days of great tribulation and great deception or strong delusion. Those that remain and go through this end time turmoil on the earth will ultimately have to make a choice. Those that remain in the world will either choose to worship the Beast Antichrist that will appear in the image of Satan as the counterfeit god of this world, or else they will choose the true image of God and the true Creator of this world (Jesus). Most that will not worship the Beast Antichrist counterfeit god will lose their physical lives but in losing their lives for faithfulness to Jesus their eternal souls will be saved.
I believe most people living in the world today will see the fulfillment of these end time Bible prophecy events. Most world trends, church trends, world current events and prophetic signs of the end times indicate that the world is now on the eve of destruction and near the great deception that was foretold in the Bible

With no update on Mandela's condition, friend urges: 'It's time to let him go'

From Faith Karimi and Robyn Curnow, CNN

Nelson Mandela, now 94, endured 27 years in prison before becoming South Africa's first president from 1994 to 1999. Pictured, Mandela in Mmabatho for an election rally on March 15, 1994. Nelson Mandela, now 94, endured 27 years in prison before becoming South Africa's first president from 1994 to 1999. Pictured, Mandela in Mmabatho for an election rally on March 15, 1994.
Johannesburg (CNN) -- South Africans offered prayers at church services while the rest of the world awaited word Sunday on Nelson Mandela's condition, a day after the ailing civil rights icon was rushed to the hospital yet again.
The office hasn't offered a new update since informing the world Saturday that Mandela was in "serious but stable condition" at a Pretoria hospital with a recurring lung infection.
Visitors to the website of the South African president's office got error messages Sunday.
Reached via e-mail Sunday, presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj told CNN he did not have an update to offer.
Mandela, 94, has become increasingly frail, and has been in and out of hospitals in recent years.
Each time he has done so, he has sparked concerns worldwide.
'We will release him'
On Sunday, the front page of South Africa's Sunday Times read, "It's time to let him go."
The paper quoted Mandela's longtime friend Andrew Mlangeni as saying that the time may have come for South Africans to say goodbye to the beloved icon.
"You have been coming to the hospital too many times. Quite clearly you are not well and there is a possibility you might not be well again," Mlangeni told the paper.
"Once the family releases him, the people of South Africa will follow. We will say thank you, God, you have given us this man, and we will release him too," Mlangeni said.
Lawmaker invites ire
While lawmakers in South Africa and abroad tweeted their well wishes, Nick Griffin, the head of the far-right British National Party invited the anger of Twitter users when he called Mandela "a murdering old terrorist."
"Saint #nelsonmandela on last legs it seems. Make sure to avoid BBC when the murdering old terrorist croaks. It'll be nauseating," he posted on Twitter on Saturday.
Mandela was hospitalized early Saturday after the state of his health deteriorated in the last few days, Maharaj said earlier.
Mandela was breathing on his own, Maharaj said.
Mandela's wife, Graca Machel, is at the hospital with him, sources told CNN. She canceled her plans to attend the Hunger Summit meeting in London on Saturday.
History of ailments
South Africa's first black president gets round-the-clock care, and his house is retrofitted with medical equipment that mirrors that of an intensive care unit.
His history of lung problems dates to when he was a political prisoner on Robben Island during apartheid, and he has battled respiratory infections over the years.
Last year, he spent Christmas holidays undergoing treatment for a lung infection and gallstones, one of his longest hospital stays since his release from prison in 1990.
Considered the founding father of South Africa's democracy, Mandela became an international figure while enduring 27 years in prison for fighting against apartheid, the country's system of racial segregation.
"He has taught us ... that we enhance our own humanity when we serve and make a difference to other people's lives," Maharaj said. "It's easy to serve oneself, own interests, but serving the interests of others, making their lives better changes the quality of all humanity."
In 1993, Mandela and then-South African President F.W. de Klerk jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize.
Hero of democracy
The iconic leader was elected the nation's first black president a year later, serving only one term, as he had promised.
He has not appeared in public since South Africa hosted the World Cup in 2010.
But despite rare public appearances in recent years, he retains his popularity and is considered a hero of democracy in the nation. Last year, South Africa launched a new batch of banknotes with a picture of a smiling Mandela on the front, a testament to his iconic status.
Mandela's impact extends far beyond South African borders. After he left office, he mediated conflicts from Africa to the Middle East

Steyn unlikely for Pakistan clash

South Africa's bowling resources further depleted with fast bowler likely to miss Champions Trophy game.


Steyn’s pace will be missed by the Proteas, who have also lost Morne Morkel after he picked up a leg injury in their opener against India [GALLO/GETTY]
South Africa are set to be without Dale Steyn once again at the Champions Trophy when they face Pakistan at Edgbaston on Monday.
Steyn, widely regarded as the best fast bowler currently in world cricket, missed the Proteas' opening 26-run Group B defeat by India in Cardiff on Thursday with a side strain.
And South Africa captain AB de Villiers, speaking to reporters at Edgbaston on Sunday, was pessimistic about Steyn's chances of facing Pakistan.
"The final decision hasn't been made yet, but it's not looking good," de Villiers said. "The chances are he'll only be ready for the last one (South Africa's final group match against the West Indies in Cardiff on June 14).
"We are still hanging on to that last little bit of hope he could wake up tomorrow (Monday) morning and do a bit of a fitness test and look good for the game, but it's not looking good at all."
Morkel out
South Africa's fast bowling resources were further depleted when Morne Morkel, who limped off while bowling his seventh over against India, was ruled out of the tournament with a leg injury.
India capitalised to pile up 331 for seven but South Africa gave them a scare before falling short in a daunting chase.
The Proteas have called up Chris Morris, a 26-year-old seamer who has played two Twenty20 matches for South Africa, but has yet to appear in a one-day international, as Morkel's replacement.
And de Villiers, having seen the way in which England beat Australia by 48 runs in a Group A encounter at Edgbaston on Sunday, reckoned pace was still the way forward.
"It looked a similar kind of wicket to the one we'll be playing on. The one spinner for England, (James) Tredwell bowled really well but it was the seamers, who started reversing the ball, who really restricted the batters and made them look like they can't get it off the square."
The wicketkeeper-batsman added now was the not the time for the Proteas to change tactics.
"We are not going to change too much. I very well remember the 2007 World Cup (in the West Indies) where we played Australia in the semi-finals and tried to change strategy.
"We tried to take it to them and the next minute we were 20 for five.
"We are going to stick to our game plans. We believe if we play to our full potential, we believe we can beat any team here."
Monday's match is effectively a must-win encounter for both sides after Pakistan suffered a two-wicket defeat in a low-scoring clash with the West Indies at The Oval on Friday.
Despite being dismissed for just 170, Pakistan's bowlers nearly guided their side to an improbable win in south London.
"We are well aware of the Pakistani bowling attack, they are a very good bowling attack.
"We are up against a very good team who can beat any team in this tournament. But we are playing some good cricket and we are confident we can beat them tomorrow," insisted de Villiers.

Serena has no plans to retire

Retirement not on the agenda for the 16-time Grand Slam winner who looks stronger than ever after French Open triumph.


French champion in 2002 and 2013: The 31-year-old American became the oldest woman to win a major title since Martina Navratilova won Wimbledon in 1990 aged 33 [AFP]
Serena Williams warned her punchdrunk rivals that she is still to realise her potential and that retirement is not on her agenda as she targets adding to her 16 Grand Slam titles.
The 31-year-old American world number one defeated defending champion Maria Sharapova 6-4, 6-4 to capture her second Roland Garros on Saturday, 11 years after her first.
But if her flagging rivals on the tour were desperately hoping that Williams was contemplating quitting, then she told them to think again.
Was she pondering following the example of Greta Garbo, another American diva of a different age and culture who quit Hollywood at the age of 35, at the peak of her powers?
"Wow, what an analogy, me and Greta Garbo. I definitely want to go out in my peak. That's my goal. But have I peaked yet?," Williams teased her audience.
The evidence suggests that as long as she remains fit and motivated into her third decade on the tour, the likes of Sharapova and world number three Victoria Azarenka, the only two who can match the American for power, will continue to have their work cut out.
I'm really relaxed. I really enjoy every moment that I'm out there. I always said that I felt like I have never played my best tennis
Serena Williams,
"I'm really relaxed. I really enjoy every moment that I'm out there. I always said that I felt like I have never played my best tennis," added Williams, the oldest winner in Paris in the Open era.
"I have said that for years, that I feel like I can always do better and play better and I have always wanted to reach that level. Maybe I'm just trying to get there."
Chasing records
She is now just two majors behind the 18 won by Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova and four back from the 22 racked up by Steffi Graf.
The record 24 won by Margaret Court may be out of the question.
"I really believe age is a number at this point, because I have never felt so fit. I feel great. I look great," she said.
"If I see someone that's 31, I'm like, You're old. Then I'm like, I'm 31. But I don't feel it at all."
The statistics back up Williams' confidence concerning her future prospects.
Since her shock first round defeat to Virginie Razzano in Paris last year, she has won 74 of 77 matches on tour with further titles in 2012 at Wimbledon, the Olympics and the US Open.
In 2013, she has won 43 out of 45 matches, sweeping to victory in Brisbane, Miami, Charleston, Madrid, Rome and now in Paris.
"I'm just trying to go up and up. Today when I won I was trying to win the French Open. I wasn't trying to get to No. 16 (Grand Slam titles). I think it's really special.
"I feel like I definitely want to continue my journey to get a few more."
Her coach, Frenchman Patrick Mouratoglou, has no doubt whatsoever that Williams will continue to add to her Grand Slam collection.
"When she is in that kind of spirit, there is no-one who can stop her," he said.
"People always speak about her strength and power but she knows how to do a lot more things on the court. She is an exceptionally complete champion."
He also backed her to chase down the 18 majors of Evert and Navratilova, starting at Wimbledon later this month where she has already triumphed five times.
"I think she is going to go looking for them. If she keeps this mentality, then the appetite will be there. When she is winning, you don't want to see her stop.
"Only if her motivation drops can I see her stopping. At this moment, she is in her best tennis and physical shape."

Iniesta: Mourinho 'damaged' Spanish football

Barcelona midfielder claims former Real Madrid coach did more harm than good to Spanish football during his tenure.


Portuguese Mourinho quit Real Madrid three years before the end of his contract after a 2012-13 campaign without major silverware and has returned to former club Chelsea [GALLO/GETTY]
Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta has joined teammate Xavi Hernandez in criticising Jose Mourinho's time in charge as Real Madrid manager.
Mourinho's three-year spell in Spain came to an end last week and after Xavi said on Saturday his style of play had not left a lasting legacy at Los Blancos, Iniesta claimed he did more damage to Spanish football than good during his time at Madrid.
"I refer to the facts," Iniesta told Spanish newspaper El Pais on Sunday.
"Yes, he has done damage to Spanish football, in general more bad things than good, but it doesn't appeal to me at all to talk about this character."
Unfair criticism
Iniesta also touched upon the current situation at Barca and the Spanish national team and fiercely denied that after a period of phenomenal success over the past five years both could be approaching the end of an era.
Despite reclaiming the Primera Division title from Madrid with a club record 100 points, Barca's season was blemished by a 7-0 aggregate hammering at the hands of Bayern Munich in the Champions League, but the 29-year-old believes it is grossly unfair to write off the Catalans due to just one bad tie.
"I know that there are many people wishing that our era will end, but we are still going. An era is many years achieving things and this era is lasting a long time.
"We will try to extend it because we know that when it ends it won't feel good and it will be difficult to start over.
"You can't throw what we have achieved into the bin due to one tie when we didn't arrive in the best conditions."
And Iniesta, who scored the only goal in Spain's 2010 World Cup final win over Holland, also insisted the presence of two German sides in the Champions League final also doesn't automatically make them favourites for next year's World Cup in Brazil.
"Germany have to win it if they want to take away our crown. Germany, Brazil, Argentina or whoever it is and with what it has cost us to achieve it, we will not make it easy for them.
"We have done very well, the model continues being a valid one, we are convinced of that. We continue to be competitive and when you win, you are doing things well.
"We continue to be a world reference, but it is evident that we have to improve, to grow, because the rivals also improve."
Before concentrating on the World Cup though, Spain have a dress rehearsal in Brazil later this month in the Confederations Cup and Iniesta's enthusiasm for the tournament has been boosted by missing out when it was held in South Africa four years ago due to injury.
"For me it is always very important to be with the national team. It means having the opportunity to play in a tournament in which I have never participated and in a country I have never played in. Moreover, this isn't just any other country in the history of football."

The return to Iqrit

Iqrit, Israel - A dream long nurtured by hundreds of thousands of Palestinians made refugees during the establishment of the state of Israel has become a concrete reality at a small makeshift camp atop a windswept hill.
A dozen young men have set up the camp at a site in the Upper Galilee from which their grandparents were expelled more than six decades ago.
Today, all that remains of the village of Iqrit, close to Israel's border with Lebanon, is a Catholic church on the hill's brow. But in 1948, the village was home to 600 Christian Palestinians.
Walaa Sbeit, one of the camp's leaders, said the group had been inspired by a vision of rebuilding their village.
"We never lost the connection to this place," he said. "Every summer we hold a summer school here for the children to learn about the village and their past. And once a month the villagers hold a service at the church. For us, this was always our real home."
The nakba
In 1948, some 750,000 Palestinians were expelled from more than 400 villages as the new state of Israel was declared on a large part of their homeland - an event known to Palestinians as the nakba, or "catastrophe". The refugees - mostly descendants of those driven from their homes - now number around five million, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.
Until we moved in, the only way back to our village was in a coffin.
Walaa Sbeit, music teacher
Nearly all the emptied villages were later destroyed by the Israeli army to prevent the inhabitants, and the generations which would follow them, from ever returning home.
"Until we moved in, the only way back to our village was in a coffin," said Sbeit, a 26-year-old music teacher in Haifa, 50km away. "We have the right to bury our dead in the village cemetery, but not to rebuild the homes that were taken from us."
Sbeit and his friends have been staying at Iqrit in shifts since August, living in an improvised annex to the church that houses a sitting area and kitchen.
They have tin shacks nearby serving as a toilet and shower, and two donkeys. Saplings they planted and a chicken coop were destroyed by the police, Sbeit added, as he perched on the edge of one of the outdoor beds the group have been using since the winter rains ended.
The villagers of Iqrit belong to Israel's minority of 1.4 million Palestinian citizens, a quarter of whom were displaced from their orginal homes in 1948. Today, the Palestinian minority live in more than 100 Palestinian communities that survived the Israeli army's advance.
Iqrit was once home to some 600 Palestinians
[Photo of
archive picture by Jonathan Cook/Al Jazeera]
A practical plan
Sbeit and his companions are at the forefront of a movement among the refugees inside Israel to turn the right of return from an what has sounded like an increasingly empty slogan into a practical plan of action.
Although Iqrit's 80 homes are long gone, a residents' committee is due to publish a master plan for the village in the summer, showing how it would be possible to build a modern community of 450 homes, including a school, for the villagers-in-exile, who today number 1,500.
The plan has been drawn up by a professional planner from the Technion, Israel's leading technical university.
Iqrit's refugees are also involved in a pilot project to work out the practicalities of implementing the right of return, understanding the legal, technical and psychological problems facing the refugees.
"This really is a historic moment for the Palestinian community," said Mohammed Zeidan, head of the Nazareth-based Human Rights Association, which has been helping to organise the project. "For the first time, we are acting rather than just talking.
"The villagers are not waiting for Israel to respond to their grievance, they are actively showing Israel what the return would look like."
Broken promises
It is not entirely surprising that Iqrit should be leading the way on the refugee issue.
Iqrit's inhabitants were neither expelled nor forced into flight, as happened in most other villages. They surrendered in November 1948.
We were told we would be allowed to return within 15 days... We're still waiting.
Lutfallah Atallah, former Iqrit resident
According to 70-year-old Lutfallah Atallah, the villagers agreed to leave Iqrit after receiving a promise that they would be allowed to return when the army had completed its operations in the area. Shortly afterwards their village was declared a closed military area.
"We were put in army vehicles and driven to the village of Rama, and told we would be allowed to return within 15 days," said Atallah. "We're still waiting."
Israel does not deny that the promise was made, and the villagers' right to return was backed by the country's supreme court in 1951. Six months later, the army blew up the houses in a move designed to stop the ruling being enforced.
Shadia Sbeit, coordinator for the Iqrit residents' committee, said that in the early 1990s, under growing pressure to honour its pledge to the villagers, a government panel agreed to set aside a small area for Iqrit to be rebuilt. The deal fell through when the prime minister of the time, Yitzhak Rabin, was assassinated.
A later prime minister, Ariel Sharon, decided in 2002 that the promise to the villagers of Iqrit and another village, Biram, could not be implemented because it would set a precedent for the return of other refugees and threaten Israel's Jewish majority.
Zeidan called that reasoning "nonsensical".
"The refugees from Iqrit are all Israeli citizens," he said. "Letting them back will not make Israel any less 'Jewish'."
Ethnic cleansing?
The villagers' push to recreate Iqrit comes as Israel's treatment of the refugees from 1948 is under renewed scrutiny, particularly in relation to the circumstances in which the refugees abandoned their homes - and whether Israel's leaders ordered a program of ethnic cleansing.
Documents recently unearthed by an Israeli researcher, Shay Hazkani, confirm suspicions that a historical claim Israel has used as its chief justification for denying the refugees' right of return to their homes was invented by Israeli officials.
The files, located in the state archives, reveal that David Ben Gurion, Israel's prime minister in 1948 and for many years afterwards, set up a research unit in the early 1960s to try to prove that Arab leaders had ordered the Palestinian villagers to leave.
Israel's move was a response to growing pressure from the United States president of the time, John F Kennedy, that it allow several hundred thousand refugees to return to their lands.
According to Nur Masalha, author of several books on Palestinian refugees, Ben Gurion believed Israel would win greater international acceptance of its rejectionist stance if it could show that the villagers left under orders from neighbouring Arab leaders, rather than because of mass expulsions.
Other documents have shown that the Israeli army physically expelled Palestinians from at least 120 villages, while in most other cases the inhabitants fled in terror as their village - or neighbouring ones - were attacked.
Minutes of a meeting in 1961 reveal Ben Gurion telling defence officials that Israel must prove the refugees left "of their own free will, because they were told the country would soon be conquered and [that] 'you will return to be its lord and masters and not just return to your homes'".
Israeli scholars were recruited to produce a report making Israel's case at the UN. They were given access to secret documents, including those captured from British and Arab sources, most of which were subsequently burnt.
There was no mention [in the archives] of the local Arab leaders urging the Arabs to flee, that they 'pushed them', as we claimed in our hasbara [propaganda]. I saw nothing like that.
Rony Gabbay, Israeli researcher
The director of the unit, Rony Gabbay, conceded to the Israeli newspaper Haraetz in an interview in May that there was no evidence for the claims made in the report Israel later published.
"There was no mention [in the archives] of the local Arab leaders urging the Arabs to flee, that they 'pushed them', as we claimed in our hasbara [propaganda]. I saw nothing like that."
Israel has been equally embarrassed by other recent disclosures that have challenged its version of the 1948 war.
Earlier this year, an Israeli magazine published a lengthy interview with Yerachmiel Kahanovich, a former soldier, who admitted he had helped to engineer expulsions from two Palestinian cities, Lod and Ramle, in 1948, shooting shells into a mosque where people had sought sanctuary. He and other soldiers then executed refugees as they fled.
"Sometimes we had to shoot one or two, and then the rest got the message and left on their own. You need to understand: if you didn’t destroy the Arab's home, he will always want to come back. When there is no home, no village, there is nowhere to return," he told Yedioth Hakibbutz.
In addition, Israeli historian Tom Segev publicised in March the minutes of a cabinet meeting from September 1948, a few weeks before Iqrit was captured.
According to the transcript, part of which is redacted, Ben Gurion believed efforts to provoke a renewal of hostilities could be used as a pretext to expel the 100,000 Palestinians still residing in the Galilee, designated part of the Arab state in an earlier United Nations partition plan.
"If war breaks out throughout the entire country, this would be advantageous for us as far as the Galilee is concerned because … we could empty the Galilee completely," he told his ministers.
The statement comes close to suggesting that Ben Gurion planned the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians inside the expanded borders of the new state of Israel, a claim long and vehemently denied by Israeli officials.
That interpretation was supported the same month by Derek Penslar, the first professor of Israel studies at Oxford University, who told Britain's Jewish Chronicle newspaper that Israel had committed "ethnic cleansing" of the Palestinians during the nakba.
Back in Iqrit, Walaa Sbeit pointed to a cluster of houses in the distance, just visible over the border in Lebanon, a country hosting more than 400,000 Palestinians in its refugee camps.
The justice of the refugees' cause should never have been in doubt, he said.
"It is long past the time when the world should have corrected the wrong that was done to us," said Sbeit. "Now we are acting for ourselves."
Al Jazeera
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