United Church of God, ia
Portland and Hood River Oregon

Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People

Signs of the Times

The Pharisees and Sadducees, intending to put Jesus on the spot by asking Him for a miraculous sign to prove He was who He said He was. His response, recorded in Matthew 16:2-3, wasn't what they expected.

He told them: "When it is evening you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red'; and in the morning, 'It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.' Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times" (emphasis added).

Jesus had already performed many great miracles, as they no doubt were aware. The evidence was already there, but they refused to accept it. And so Jesus called them what they were-hypocrites and pretenders. He then pointed out to them the result of their lack of belief. Their lack of spiritual understanding, Jesus told them, made them blind to what should've been obvious. The signs of the times were there, but they chose to remain oblivious to them.

Do Christ's words mean anything for us today? Could disbelief and lack of spiritual understanding leave individuals-or even an entire nation-blind to dangers that otherwise should be obvious? Are we ignoring warning signs that cry out for our attention?

Consider some indicators of America's national health and stability. The United States currently borrows 40 percent of what it spends. The 2012 US. federal budget was almost $3.8 trillion, a gargantuan number almost impossible to understand. This breaks down to the federal government spending:

Since 40 percent of these amounts is borrowed, the United States borrows and spends $48,000-an amount roughly equal to the median US. household income-every second.

In late 2011 the federal deficit officially overtook the nation's gross domestic product (GDP)-the total value of the nation's goods and services produced in the year. America's per-person share of debt is now higher than that of deeply troubled European nations like Greece that we hear so much about on the news!

America spends more than $400 billion annually just to pay interest on its debt, with about a quarter of that going to China. That interest alone is enough to fund China's entire military spending-a military that is aggressively catching up to and challenging US. forces in Asia and the Pacific. In effect, through irresponsible government spending, US. taxpayers are funding China's military buildup!

In spite of America's power, it's increasingly ineffectual on the world stage. Crowds gather in third-world nations to mock the United States and spit on its flag. In September Libyan terrorists murdered the US. ambassador with impunity-the first ambassador killed since 1979.

What's going on? What are these warning signs telling us? It's crucial that you understand the answers revealed in this issue, because they're reshaping not just the nation, but the entire world!

-Scott Ashley

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