The Trumpet Herald is a commentary on certain current events in the light of inspired prophecy.
The Grass Withereth, the Flower Fadeth . . .
The October 25, 1999 issue of U.S. News & World Report ran a cover article titled, "Is the Bible True?" (pp. 50-59). The story is subtitled on the cover: "New discoveries offer surprising support for key moments in the Scriptures."
The article highlights recent archeological discoveries which demonstrate the accuracy of key Bible. stories, such as inscriptions by foes of Israel which speak of the "House of David," evidence proving the existence of the Philistines, the unearthing of the tomb of Caiaphas, high priest in Jerusalem in Jesus' time, and a stone used by Pontius Pilate dedicating a temple to the Jews in Caesarea.
While the article continues to uphold various skeptical attacks on Scripture, such as theistic evolution and the denial of a universal Flood, the author noted in conclusion:
"Thanks to archeology, the Bible 'no longer appears as an absolutely isolated monument of the past, as a phenomenon without relation to its environment,' as the great American archeologist William Albright wrote at mid century" (p. 59).
Isaiah wrote long ago: "The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever" (Isaiah 40:8). The following inspired statement also comes to mind:
"God never asks us to believe, without giving sufficient evidence upon which to base our faith. His existence, His character, the truthfulness of His word, are all established by testimony that appeals to our reason, and this testimony is abundant" (Steps to Christ, p. 105).
New Catholic "Indulgence Manual"
On September 17, 1999, the Vatican released a new manual on how Catholics can earn indulgences, according to an Associated Press report released on the Internet the same day.
The Pope's proclamation last year of the "Great Jubilee of 2000" included the offering of indulgences, in accordance with a 700-year-old papal tradition. According to the report, indulgences can be gained byamong other thingsgiving up alcohol or tobacco for one day, or making the sign of the cross in the presence of factory workers telling off-color jokes.
The Cardinal in charge of indulgence policy, William Wakefield Baum, was asked if this new attention to indulgences could hurt the growing ecumenical ties between Catholics and Lutherans. In case some have forgotten, the Protestant Reformation began with Martin Luther's protest against the sale of indulgences.
Baum observed, "I'm convinced that exposition of true Catholic doctrine on indulgences is a great contribution to ecumenical dialogue."
Catholics and Lutherans are soon expected, according to the same report, to sign an agreement on the doctrine of justification by faith, the great issue at the heart of the Protestant Reformation.
The little horn of Daniel 7, which represents the papacy, is depicted in Scripture as speaking "great words against the Most High" (Dan. 7:25). Obviously these words continue to be spoken by the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church.
The absurdity and sacrilege of the indulgence trade requires no great elaboration in this context. But the most basic reason why such contrived methods of seeking God's forgiveness contradict the Bible is that according to Scripture, the forsaking of sin is essential in order for forgiveness to take place (Prov. 28:13; Isa. 55:7). The purchase of an indulgence means exactly the opposite of forsaking sin, it means sin will continue while God looks the other way.
Inspiration declares, "Let it be remembered, it is the boast of Rome that she never changes" (The Great Controversy, p. 581). More and more, this statement is being proven correct.
London Train Wreck
Early October witnessed the second rail disaster on the same line of a London commuter train which saw a similar tragedy only one year ago. This time the wreck cost nearly 30 lives, and the cause remains unknown as we go to press.
This disaster, like a similar one in India not long ago, calls to mind the following inspired statement concerning the last days:
"Disasters by rail will become more and more frequent; confusion, collision, and death without a moment's warning will occur on the great lines of travel. The end is near, probation is closing. Oh, let us seek God while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near!" (Messages to Young People, p. 90).
Natural Disasters Continue
October 1999 continued the parade of natural calamities which seem to multiply with each passing month. Flooding in central and southern Mexico has left a quarter of a million homeless, and over 300 dead. A third hurricane in two months has struck the Carolina coast with heavy rain and flooding. A 7.1 (Richter scale) earthquake hit southern California the morning of October 16, and wildfires the same weekend displaced thousands of residents and consumed thousands of acres in northern California. As we go to press, a volcano in Ecuador continues to spew ash, and a full eruption is anticipated.
Again we quote the prediction of God's end-time prophet regarding the days in which we live:
"Even now he [Satan] is at work. In accidents and calamities by sea and by land, in great conflagrations, in fierce tornadoes and terrific hailstorms, in tempests, floods, cyclones, tidal waves, and earthquakes, in every place and in a thousand forms, Satan is exercising his power. . . . These visitations are to become more and more frequent and disastrous" (The Great Controversy, pp. 589, 590).