Muslim pilgrims descend on Mecca for haj, Saudis warn against politics

Muslims pray at the Grand Mosque during the annual Haj pilgrimage in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia August 6, 2019. REUTERS/Umit Bektas

By Ahmad Elhamy

MECCA, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) – Hundreds of thousands of white-clad pilgrims, many gripping umbrellas to ward off Saudi Arabia’s blistering summer sun, descended on Mecca this week ahead of the annual haj.

Saudi officials asked Muslims to focus on rituals of worship, warning against politicizing the rite as wars rage on in the region and at a time of heightened tensions between Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Muslim adversary Iran.

“Haj…is not a place for political conflicts or to raise sectarian slogans that divide Muslims,” Abdulrahman al-Sudais, imam of the Grand Mosque of Mecca, told reporters.

Mecca Governor Prince Khalid al-Faisal asked worshippers earlier this week to “leave all other matters in your countries to discuss when you are back”.

Saudi Arabia stakes its reputation on its guardianship of Islam’s holiest sites and organizing a peaceful haj, which has been marred in the past by deadly stampedes, fires and riots.

Authorities said more than 1.8 million pilgrims had so far arrived in the kingdom for the world’s largest annual Muslim gathering, which retraces the route the Prophet Mohammad took 14 centuries ago.

Outside the Grand Mosque, the world’s largest, temperatures topped 40 degrees Celsius as industrial fans sprayed water.

“All of this is for the sake of the haj,” 43-year-old Fatima Sayed from Giza, Egypt, said of the searing heat. “We applied twice before but God didn’t permit it, and, thank God, it was a very big surprise that He ordained it for me this year.”

Every able-bodied Muslim who has the means should perform the haj at least once in their lifetime under a quota system.

Saudi Arabia has made use of technology to manage the flow of millions at the same place at the same time. This includes electronic identification bracelets, connected to GPS, that were introduced after a 2015 crush killed hundreds of people.

A new highspeed railway linking Mecca and Medina, Islam’s second most sacred site, is being used during the haj season for the first time after its inauguration last September.

The pilgrimage is the backbone of a plan to expand tourism under a drive to diversify the Saudi economy away from oil. The haj and the umrah, the year-round lesser pilgrimage, generate billions of dollars in revenues from worshippers’ lodging, transport, fees and gifts.

Amjad Khan, a pharmacist from Manchester in Britain, said the new measures made the pilgrimage a smoother experience.

“Here in the company of our brothers from all over the world, it’s a very good feeling,” Khan, 36, said.

(Reporting by Ahmad Elhamy; Writing by Eric Knecht; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

2012 Arrives Amid Great Confusion

Here we go into a new year!  This is not just any new year, but 2012, which I believe is a pivotal year in the “Beginning of Sorrows.”  This year could be our last full year to get our houses in order.  God has spoken to me that this will be a year of great CONFUSION in the world.  God needs His Church to be in full force for what is coming!

These are the days of 2012, they have arrived with all the ominous warnings of ancient prophets, contemporary watchmen and Biblical prophecies of being prepared (spiritually and physically) for the months ahead.  People have been talking about 2012 for centuries, and now it is upon us.  We’re not on the precipice or the verge or the brink.  We are there!

“What does it all mean?  Can somebody please break it down?”

This week on your TV, Rabbi Jonathan Cahn and I will be discussing his new book, The Harbinger.  You can also view these broadcasts in the Video Archive section of our website. I want everyone who can to tune in – this is  one of the most important series I’ve ever done and I don’t want you to miss it.  Time is very short and unless we are fully aware and spiritually tuned to prophetic events, even those who have been in the Church all their lives might miss the signposts of the most important time in the history of the world.

The word “harbinger” means a sign, omen, warning, herald of something to come.  Rabbi Cahn unravels the prophetic events surrounding the great 9/11 calamity and warns us of what is coming next.  He left most of us speechless with his teachings regarding the judgments of God upon this nation.

The World Trade Center bombing on 9/11 was a warning from God.  That warning went unheeded, and for the most part, it was responded to with prideful defiance and a powerful denial of its purpose.  Why does God send his judgment as a warning to a nation?  It is for one reason and one reason only – so that they will repent, turn around, and honor Him.

I remember the outrage of the world and especially of some in the Christian community, when anyone dared suggest that perhaps God was warning this nation through the devastation of 9/11.  “Why God wouldn’t do that!  He’s a Good God!”  Yes, God would and God did…  BECAUSE He is good and He doesn’t want any to perish in their sin, not even one.

Though this nation was founded upon Godly principles, we have turned away from His ways and now we must turn back – or we will receive the full wages of our sins (Romans 6:23).  I believe even at this eleventh hour, if we put 2 Chronicles 7:14 into radical action, we could stay the hand of God in His righteous judgment of this nation, and lessen the misery of the consequences of our rebellion.

“Then if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, if they will pray and seek me and stop their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven. I will forgive their sin, and I will heal their land.”

At this time, however, the prophetic clock is still ticking away and the events preceding the Second Coming of Jesus will happen (are happening), just as it says and is foretold in Matthew 24, Luke 21, countless other Old and New Testament passages, and especially in the Revelation.  We are not going to change the prophetic unfolding of End Time events, but we can change what judgments are meted out and we have a choice how God deals with us individually and as a nation, based upon our responses to His warnings.

The economies and the governments of this nation and the world are falling apart, natural disasters are at an all-time high, and the whole of humanity is ready to plunge right into the doomsday scenario that is presented in the Book of Revelation.  Food could disappear off grocery shelves in a matter of hours.  Electricity and gasoline may be completely unavailable.  The world is on the brink of World War III.   Iran and Israel are  poised to unleash weapons of mass destruction at each other, not to mention the U.S., Russia, China, and others. THE STAGE IS NOW SET for the arrival of the antichrist.  We are on the very threshold of more calamity than the world has ever seen before.

The antichrist will use everything in his power to try to get Christians to deny Christ and renounce their faith.  Some people think we, as Christians, won’t have to go through that part of the tribulation – that God will take us all out of here before it comes down to that.  But what if He doesn’t?  What if we are so dull in our spiritual senses that we’re like that proverbial frog in the pot – you back off a little at a time from God’s standards and before you know it, you’re in hot water.  Could we even recognize our spiritual condition that has been so compromised with the world that it feels normal?

You can if you stay in God’s Word!

How then, should we try to live?  When the world comes apart, people everywhere will flock to the churches for answers.  There will be a last great awakening – a last great harvest of the ages.  We need to have ourselves ready spiritually and physically, and be ready to show others our faith in Jesus, the One that purchased life eternal for us on the Cross over 2,000 years ago.  That requires some practical preparations like food and water so that we will be able to minister the Gospel and help to bring souls into the Kingdom for all eternity.

As Christians, we sometimes forget that this life is but a vapor (James 4:14) and there’s an eternal life that quickly follows.  Eternal means everlasting, unending, perpetual, endless, ceaseless, and timeless.  That’s the life that God wants to spend with you, not just this life only.

You can’t go wrong serving God with all your heart, all your mind, all your strength.

Get into the Word!  Know God’s Word!  Be ready to recognize the enemy’s movement and his tactics.  Know what righteousness is.  “Be ye Holy as I am Holy!”  (1 Peter 13-16)  We have made far too much of ‘religion’ and far too little of ‘holiness’.

There will be a lot of people running “to and fro” in the church world too – Confusion – and that means in a spiritual sense as well as a natural sense.  Don’t be confused.  Know what God says! (2 Timothy 4:3)

Some might say “well, if it gets that difficult, I’d rather just go be with Jesus.”  Do I need to remind you of Luke 12:47 or any of the other parables that deal with this kind of attitude?  “And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes… for to whom much is given, much is required.”

You don’t have to store food, but it will be easier for you to avoid entering an antichrist system if you do.  You don’t have to get as healthy as possible by eating right and exercising, but you can minister to more people in the Times of Trouble if you do.  You don’t have to have survival plans and equipment, but what good are you to a dying world if you’re dead too?!  “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.”  Matthew 9:37 NAS

There is also a dangerous philosophy of waiting until the last minute to get right with God and to get prepared – not only by the world but by Christians.  The twinkling of an eye is not much time, people!  It’s faster than you can snap your fingers!

So, get ready for the ride of your life!  We are about to enter a time when you need to be rock solid about your priorities, and nothing will deter you or cause you to waver, or even be distracted.  I’ve been telling people about the CONFUSION the enemy is going to throw at us this year.  It will take all of our resolve and great faith, coupled with God’s Amazing Grace to get us through.  If I could break it down to the simplest of terms, here is what I am endeavouring to do and I hope you will too:

  1. Get yourself still so you don’t have so many distractions
  2. Study your Bible
  3. Hear from God
  4. Do what God says!

Join us on TV this week too, if it’s at all possible.  Rabbi Cahn will take our world’s events and break it all down for you.  I’m confident this series of shows will leave you as speechless as it did all of us at Morningside when we taped them on Grace Street – but it will leave us more aware than ever before.

Love,

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One Day Soon

It may surprise some of  you, but the reality is that we are already in a war, a spiritual war, right here on Earth.  The kingdom of God is being viciously opposed by the forces of evil.  This war is real with very high stakes – the salvation of men, women, boys and girls all over the world.   As the Church, we are new soldiers in this very old war.

Every day we are moving closer and closer to the time of Jesus’ return.    This is not a time to sit on the sidelines and watch as a spectator.  We are entering a season of acceleration. Continue reading