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 Bible Magazine Winter 2016-17

What a remarkable year it has turned out to be! A time of political and physical earthquakes! For many the shock result of the Brexit vote, leading to the resignation of David Cameron as Prime Minister, turned out to be but an initial shake, compared to the blood-bath among UK politicians that followed. Donald Trump’s victory in the US elections has caused much angst at the prospect of a quite a different style and policy which, it is feared, threatens world stability. Greece gave a severe wobble and nearly unseated the Government; Italy’s recent referendum on economic reforms was rejected, leading to the Italian PM resigning. In the run-up to the 2017 French elections, former President Nicolas Sarkozy was rejected as the candidate for the Republican Party and stepped down from politics, leaving François Fillon as the candidate, who has been described as a “reformist liberal” and “anti-EU”. He represents another threat to the EU’s stability. The world’s oldest bank is based in Italy and faces bankruptcy, putting pressure on the already weak euro. Even Chancellor Merkel’s Germany seems shaky, and no clear policy has been put forward to hold the EU together post Britain’s eventual Brexit. Russia continues to pound Syria and re-enforce her foothold.

In the natural world, there have been several strong earthquakes, especially relevant were those in New Zealand in places that we had visited a few weeks before. The pictures from around Kiakoura were startling. Roads we had traversed had disappeared. Sea and land levels abruptly realigned. Awesome power which left man powerless before God’s forces of nature.

“What is the world coming to?”

Many are saying “What is the world coming to?”

These are quite amazing happenings, yet behind them all we see the Hand of God. Man’s plans are brought to naught. He ensures that, against the odds, the person that can move forward His Purpose has been prepared and is in the right place at the right time! Think what planning that takes; leaders aren’t formed in a moment. Angelic hands ensure the right training to ensure a successful outcome.

It is not for us to query God’s choices! Our Bible study confirms that sometimes, base men are required to move forward an aspect of God’s Plan.

Our part is to watch and be ready for the signal that our lives are about to be changed for ever! The Lord Jesus warned his disciples of the time of trouble which would be associated with the destruction of the Mosaic World by the Romans in AD 70.

For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows. Mar. 13:8

The word the Master chose—sorrows—is the word used of birth-pangs, or labour pains. They get stronger and stronger and more frequent and urgent as the birth approaches. I think we can truly say we are living in astonishing times. There are so many indications that our Master is at the door. True we have been saying this as a community for over 170 years and the call still has not come. It may not for us, but it has for previous generations, in the sense that their next conscious moment will be the experience of the resurrection.

Yet when we reflect upon the scope and the frequency of matters that are clearly moving things forwards, we have to confess that never, in my life time, has there been so much happening all at the same time. This would indicate that the Times of the Gentiles is about to reach its grand finale and the oppression of Zion is about to cease with the coming of Israel’s Messiah and King.

As the Apostle Paul wrote so long ago:

For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.

But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 1 The. 5:3,4

What have we seen in the past few months? Increasing anxiety. Yet, despite people being aghast at the ever-changing political scene which threatens chaos, the world seemingly carries on. The doom and gloom predicted if Britain went the Brexit route, has turned out to be greatly exaggerated. True, currency costs have risen for those in the UK with the falling value of the pound hitting importers and holidaymakers. As much of Britain’s food and goods are imported, this has led to rising prices. But while the battle for working out just how to sever the links with the EU continues to rage, the support for Britain to proceed with this new course has increased.

Britain’s Middle East role

Things are proceeding along pathways that our community has historically anticipated! It makes for exciting times. Britain is seeking to re-establish herself back in the Middle East. Her ties with Israel are increasing. The young lions have been cooperating and are very much involved with Israel and the Middle East. The UK government is recognising the need for a stronger navy, and is taking steps to strengthen both the Merchant and Royal Navies. A further strand to Brexit is the rebuilding of Commonwealth links. It is quite amazing that today so many of the Commonwealth countries operate in the Middle East and with Israel. If ever there was a time to revisit our historic understanding of the role of Britain and her “young lions” working in the Middle East, it surely is now, when things are proceeding apace along the lines expected.

Christadelphian teaching 90 years ago

Bro. C. C. Walker pulled together what was then 80 years of Christadelphian teaching in a series of public lectures which were published as a 50-page booklet in 1926.

This lust of dominion, of national imperialism, has no respect for God and His purposes; and so, Russia invades the land, intent only on taking the spoil, conquering the world, and setting up a Holy Russian Empire!

A power to the South objects to that. That introduces our own power. How could Britain endure that policy, and the carrying out thereof? We turn to the 13th and 14th verses of Ezekiel 38 and read:

Sheba and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoil?

As much as to say: “You will not do that if we can prevent it”. What power is this? British power. Let us make our enquiry in the Scriptures and in history as to the identity of Sheba and Dedan. Enquire in the 10th chapter of Genesis into the genealogy of the sons of Noah. There is first the line of Ham, of whom Sheba and Dedan come. They settled and took the South Euphratean and Arabian districts. In the Semitic line, and in the Nile country, the Upper Nile, the Ishmaelite Sheba and Dedan settled (1 Chron. 1:32). In both countries, you will find British power. True there is now a “King” in Egypt, but the power behind the throne is still British.

Then let us take the phrase, “the merchants of Tarshish”. First of all, “merchants”. Who does not know that this British power is founded on merchandise! Study history, and wherever you go, you will find British merchandise established—from Europe across to the north-west, to the Dominion of Canada, where you find in “The Hudson Bay Company” the hand of this enterprising maritime power. You look across to the East, to the Indian Empire, where you find it in “The East India Company”. You look southward into Africa, and you see it in “The South Africa Company”. Look across to Australia and New Zealand. Is it not the trade of the Empire that has developed those outlying dominions? Indeed, a generation ago it used to be a continental reproach that we were but “a nation of shopkeepers”.

People may have said that in the time of the Tyrian power of old, of Tarshish. This is a geographical enquiry. Again enquire of that early chapter of Genesis, and you will find that this power traded on the seaboard of Asia Minor, and gradually there comes the name Tarshish—the dominion and “ships of Tarshish”, the leading maritime power of the world.

There were eastern and western countries corresponding to this term, for in the Book of Jonah we read that Jonah went down to Joppa, and found a ship and paid the fare to go to Tarshish to flee from the presence of the Lord This must have been westward, the Straits of Gibraltar or beyond. There are some who think our own country corresponds to “Tarshish”, especially in regard to the Cornish mines supplying the Tyrian markets with the “silver, copper, tin, lead”—the Cornish metals. Then we read of the “navy of Tarshish” that went eastward and brought back the Eastern products, “gold and silver, ivory, apes and peacocks”. Peacocks were traced to the island of Ceylon. And, however we look, we find in both directions Britain, corresponding to the words used, and especially to the phrase “ships of Tarshish”.

Another remarkable thing is that this power is friendly to Israel in “the latter days”. “Surely the isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to brings thy sons (0 Zion) from far, their silver and their gold with them, unto the name of the Lord thy God.” (Isa. 60:9). It is well known everywhere that Britain, almost alone among all the nations, is the friend of the Jews. We have in Parliament many Jewish members. We have had a Jewish Prime Minister. Since the days of Palmerston there sprang in this country a friendship for the Jews, which, alas! is now almost the only example in the world. So that on all these counts the term “Tarshish” corresponds to British power.

Now go one step further. The prophet spoke of “the young lions thereof”. Then Tarshish is the old lion. I suppose we are entitled to consider the lion the most respectable beast of all the animals, and the Spirit of God called the British people a lion, and the figure is employed everywhere. If Britain be the old lion, who are “the young lions”? Why, the dominions, of course! These merchant-prince-dominions of over-seas. During the war we had this matter advertised on the walls in the recruiting posters—the old lion standing on a rock calling to his whelps, while up from the foreground came the figures of the young lions—the dominions of South Africa, Canada, Australia and New Zealand—responding to the call of the old lion to assist him against his continental enemies.

This is but a brief touching of the surface of this subject, but gives us a sufficient flavour of what was being proclaimed 90 years ago. Here we are, in changed circumstances, but still finding Britain irresistibly drawn back to an important region of her past Empire.

Theresa May’s support for Israel

It was heart-warming to read of the UK’s government’s support of Israel in a speech given 12-Dec-16 to an audience of 800 at a Conservative Friends of Israel luncheon. The UK’s Prime Minister received a standing ovation for her words.

As the UK forges “a new role for itself on the world stage,” in the wake of its decision to leave the European Union, May said it would seek to be “open, outward-looking, optimistic” and that “Israel will be crucial to us as we do that.” This, she said, was “because I believe our two countries have a great deal in common. As the (Israeli) ambassador Mark Regev said, we have common values; we work together, on health, counterterrorism, cybersecurity, technology; and we can help each other achieve our aims.”

May firmly rebutted the so-called BDS movement against Israel, declaring: “I couldn’t be clearer: The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is wrong, it is unacceptable, and this party and this government will have no truck with those who subscribe to it.”

She said she planned to “take our trading and investing relationship with Israel to the next level,” and noted that several ministers would visit Israel in the coming year.

Ahead of 2017’s centenary of the Balfour Declaration, which paved the way for the establishment of modern Israel, May said the UK was entering a “special time,” and highlighted that the Declaration was signed by a Conservative foreign secretary, Arthur James Balfour. “It is one of the most important letters in history,” she declared. “It demonstrates Britain’s vital role in creating a homeland for the Jewish people. And it is an anniversary we will be marking with pride.” Times of Israel 12-Dec-16

A few days earlier, Mrs May was in Bahrain, addressing the Gulf Cooperation Council.

The Gulf Cooperation Council is a regional intergovernmental political and economic union consisting of all Arab states of the Persian Gulf, except for Iraq. Its member states are Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Wikipedia

These are all monarchies, and so have kinship to Britain.

Britain in Bahrain – ancient Dedan

They gathered at Bahrain which was very significant. Quoting from Milestones 2014 p. 69:

Bahrain, an island in the Persian Gulf which we identify as the probable home of Dedan There were at least two separate sets of Shebas and Dedans in scripture. One pair were grandsons of Cush (Gen. 10:7), the other, grandsons of Abraham through Keturah. (Gen. 25:1-3) The Dedan from Cush is linked with the Persian Gulf area.

Dedan, the place where they resided, is believed to be identical with the Daden of the Middle Ages, now called Bahrein, in Arabia Deserts, an island on the western shores of the Persian Gulf. Castell’s Illustrated Bible Dict.

This would also fit with the description of the Dedan traders described in Ezekiel 27:15 who seemed to have traded with India—the source of ebony and elephants.

The men of Dedan were thy merchants; many isles were the merchandise of thine hand: they brought thee for a present horns of ivory and ebony.

It is here that the British have been given a naval base, courtesy of the Bahraini king, at a cost of £15m, which was completed this November and officially opened by Prince Charles.

Today on his trip to Bahrain, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales has opened a new Naval Support Facility in Manama. It is a fitting way to mark the 200th anniversary of Anglo-Bahraini cooperation but, more importantly, it is a reaffirmation of the UK’s commitment to the Gulf, and to Bahrain in particular.

With the region continuing to face difficult times, the British return to East of Suez is a reassuring sign that our countries remain steadfast friends and allies, with strong diplomatic, military and trade relations.

At the end of last month His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa visited London, where he met Her Majesty the Queen, the Prime Minister, the Ambassadors of Gulf States to the United Kingdom, and a number of parliamentarians.

During the visit, His Majesty extended an invitation to Theresa May to attend the 37th Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit being hosted in Manama next month. His Majesty, as the summit’s president, also outlined the Council’s interest in a free trade agreement between the UK and the GCC, which would significantly increase the UK’s access to the GCC’s £1.3 trillion market; a market estimated to grow by a further £400 billion by 2020.

Bilateral trade between Bahrain and the UK generated £432 million in 2015 alone, an increase of 35 per cent on the previous year. And the Kingdom is firmly committed to expanding these mutually beneficial trade relations. Relative to its size, Bahrain already hosts a large number of British companies: 500 British brands, 90 British company branches, and 350 Bahraini-British business partnerships. These businesses operate in some of Bahrain’s key sectors, including banking, accounting, law and industry.

Bahrain is building on its long-standing status as the gateway to the GCC’s rapidly expanding market, leveraging our highly-educated workforce and liberal business environment – which offers a low tax regime and some of the lowest business costs in the region – to attract international investors.

In this post-Brexit world, these long-standing trade ties provide the perfect platform to deepen and expand trading links with the entire region. Daily Telegraph 10-Nov-16

A remarkable speech delivered in Bahrain

So it was in ancient Dedan that Mrs Theresa May’s stood to address the leaders of the GCC. There were two remarkable firsts! She was not only the first British PM, but the first woman, to address this annual gathering of the GCC. Her speech was thrilling to Bible students. One can download it in full at www.gov.uk/government/speeches/prime-ministers-speech-to-the-gulf-co-operation-council-2016 Her speech emphasised the long links between the UK and the Gulf and the firm commitment that Britain was taking to support her Middle East friends of the Gulf Cooperation Council. [My emphasis.]

The UK stands here today seeking not just to reaffirm a relationship that is of great historic value but to renew a partnership that is absolutely fundamental to our shared future.

Not just to offer a message of continuity, but to begin to build a bold new chapter in our co-operation; not to develop a transactional relationship but rather to forge a strategic relationship, a relationship based on true partnership and an enduring commitment between our countries and our peoples;

But as part of the renewed relationship that I want to forge with you, the United Kingdom will make a more permanent and more enduring commitment to the long-term security of the Gulf.

We will invest in hard power, with over £3 billion of defence spending in the region over the next decade, spending more on defence in the Gulf than in any other region of the world.

Through the construction of HMS Jufair, and thanks to the generosity of the Kingdom of Bahrain, we will create a permanent presence in the region, the first such facility east of Suez since 1971, with more British warships, aircraft and personnel deployed on operations in the Gulf than in any other part of the world.

At the same time, a regional land training hub in Oman is establishing a permanent British army presence in the region.

We will also go further in deepening our defence co-operation through a new Strategic Partnership between the UK and the GCC, supporting the development of your defence capacity and capability, including for humanitarian operations and crisis response planning.

As part of this we will establish a new British Defence Staff in Dubai to co-ordinate our regional activities and, here in Bahrain, we will embed a dedicated military officer with the Ministry of Interior bomb disposal unit to provide bomb scene management support and training.

…. So I will continue the work that the UK has been leading over the past 3 years to make London one of the great capitals of Islamic finance anywhere in the world. And as Britain leaves the European Union so we intend to take a leap forward, to look outwards and seek to become the most committed and most passionate advocate of free trade in the world.

I believe there has never been a more important moment for us to get this right. And under my leadership, Britain will play its full part in delivering on that vision. Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street 07-Dec-16

Young lions working in the region

The fascinating thing is that it is not just Britain who is working in the Gulf region and will be prepared to stand up in defence of Israel. Many of her young lions are following in her footsteps. Australia and New Zealand have a long association with Israel. The Australian PM, Malcolm Turnbill is a staunch supporter of Israel and has Jewish ancestry on his mother’s side. The New Zealand PM has just resigned, his mother was an Austrian Jewess. John Key’s successor, Bill English has only taken over today, so we await to see! Canada’s former Premier Harper was an outstanding friend of Israel, his successor Justin Trudeau stresses his governments support for Israel. The Hindu PM of India, Narendra Modi is also a great friend of Israel! They are all involved in trading with the Gulf States. Australian bilateral trade with Gulf States amounted to some AS$12bn in 2015. India’s links with the area go back to Bible times. Today, some 7 million Indians work in the region and India’s trade with the GCC amounted to some US$46bn in the year 2014-5. Saudi Arabia ranks No 14 for Canada’s exports.

Rebuilding her merchant power

In November, the UK maritime leaders met with the UK Secretary of State for Transport to emphasise the importance of shipping to the UK.

“In light of the decision to leave the EU, the UK must now, more than ever, capitalise on our global reputation as a world-class maritime nation, embrace trade opportunities and deliver prosperity across the country.

“Today’s roundtable with Ministers from right across government demonstrates the crucial role that our sector plays in enabling trade with the rest of the world, and of the close partnership industry now has with government to ensure the UK strengthens its position as a world-class maritime centre.” Chairman of Maritime UK, David Dingle, CBE 17-Nov-16

Parker Review: Blueprint for a strong naval shipbuilding sector

Also at the end of November came the recommendations of Sir John Parker as to Britain’s shipping needs. This was in preparation for the publication of the UK government’s National Shipbuilding Strategy in the spring of 2017.

Sir John Parker’s Independent Report into naval shipbuilding published today (29 November) sets out far-reaching recommendations to transform the United Kingdom’s shipbuilding industry and boost the prosperity of shipyards and supply chains across the country.

Based on extensive consultation with government, industry, and trades unions, it will inform the government’s National Shipbuilding Strategy to be published in the spring.

Sir John’s report is a fundamental reappraisal of how we undertake naval shipbuilding in the UK with the aim of placing it on a sustainable long-term footing. It enables the foundations to be laid for a modern, efficient, and competitive sector capable of meeting the country’s future defence and security needs.

The report identifies key areas where government and industry must invest in order for UK shipbuilding to thrive:

One of the opportunities that Sir John identifies is the way Scotland’s cutting edge technology can allow for Modular Construction, in which ship components are produced across the UK before being assembled at a central Hub. The build of the Royal Navy’s largest ever warships, the Queen Elizabeth Class Aircraft Carriers, has already demonstrated the success of such an approach, with multiple shipyards and hundreds of companies across the UK working together and benefiting from the aircraft carrier build.

Sir John’s vision means maintaining Britain’s naval prowess to ensure its role in the world. It also means using the opportunities of Britain’s shipbuilding expertise to become a leading producer of ships for export.

There is already a vibrant shipbuilding and marine engineering sector across the UK. Around 15,000 people are directly employed in UK shipbuilding and repair, with an additional 10,000 jobs indirectly supported through the wider supply chain in the UK. The government is committed to seeing that grow even stronger, with a new focus on exports.

Backed by a rising defence budget, the government is investing billions in a growing Royal Navy building two new aircraft carriers, new Type 26 Global Combat Ships, Dreadnought and Astute class submarines, and offshore patrol vessels. We are also developing a new class of General Purpose Frigate so that by the 2030s we can grow the size of the fleet. This major programme of investment will increase the power and reach of our Royal Navy. Ministry of Defence 29-Nov-16

Britain’s increasing economic growth

As we saw last time, the predicted doom that would engulf Britain if she dared to go down the withdrawal path has not materialised. In fact, it is the EU that is suffering economic hardships, with even Germany’s economy stuttering.

The Italian government has fallen because of opposition to the reforms needed to root out the deep-seated corruption and inefficiencies. Italy’s oldest bank—and the world’s first bank—is in desperate need of a bailout, which the EU has refused to countenance.

But Britain seems to be benefiting from her decision to break free from Europe!

It’s time for the City to move on from the gloom

Oops: another good thing we were told had now become impossible has just happened. And another, and another.

In fact, it sometimes feels as if we are seeing several impossible things every day before breakfast, and not just when it comes to global geopolitics. There has been an avalanche of positive business stories over the past few weeks, with company after company announcing a new investment or a fresh job-creating initiative.

In most cases, these were the kind of projects we were told would no longer be possible after the Brexit vote.

Take commercial property, the one sector that even I was worried about in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote. Yet the City of London has just given the green light to One Undershaft, which will become the Square Mile’s tallest building and London’s second-tallest after the Shard. It is backed by Singapore’s Aroland Holdings.

Next door, the Pinnacle at 22 Bishopsgate, which had been dormant for years, seeming permanently stuck at the foundations, is now shooting up again: it will be the City’s second-tallest building. The developer – French firm Axa – hesitated briefly before and after the referendum but has decided to press on.

Further East, the Chinese are opening their pocketbooks: Greenland, a developer, is building Europe’s tallest residential tower, Spire London, in Canary Wharf, and another consortium wants to redevelop the still largely derelict Royal Albert Dock, just next to City Airport and the Excel centre.

ABP London and Citic Group want to turn the area into a major new business hub: they want to erect low-rise blocks intended for Chinese firms seeking European or global headquarters, in what would be a major boost for UK-Asian trade ties. The developers have just signed up four major Chinese banks to finance the first stage of the £1.7bn plan and say that demand is high.

But it is clear that investors are as bullish about the UK and London as they have always been and that is great news. The same is true of the big US tech firms: Amazon, Google and Apple are all hiring and spending in London. Apple’s new headquarters in Battersea will anchor that scheme; Google is helping to build the new King’s Cross business district; and Amazon is also expanding dramatically. Daily Telegraph 29-Nov-16

This last item was amplified in another article:

How London became Silicon Valley’s second home

The tried and tested cliché about London buses – you wait ages for one and then two turn up at once – turns to also apply to major American technology companies, who have been lining up in recent weeks to express their commitment to Britain.

Two weeks ago, Google announced plans to hire 3,000 new people in London over the next five years, in one of the internet giant’s biggest investments outside the US. A matter of days later, Facebook, never one that likes to be outshone by its Silicon Valley rival, said it would increase its British workforce 50pc by the end of next year, hiring 500 more people.

The announcements, which add to recent commitments made by Apple and Amazon since Britain voted to leave the EU in June, have been seized upon as a vote of confidence in the UK after the Brexit vote. No surprise in that, perhaps: there is no better PR opportunity for politicians than being photographed alongside a trendy tech boss.

But there is also a growing feeling that the UK has now established itself as Silicon Valley’s home away from home. Many of the US technology industry’s biggest names now have multiple bases in Britain. Cambridge, Reading and Edinburgh have all established themselves as clusters for foreign tech investment, and this has seemingly been unaffected by the referendum result, despite warnings that Brexit would lead to an exodus of talent.

London’s mayor, Sadiq Khan, says: “London is the tech capital of Europe, we’re on the shoulders of New York and I think we can catch up to Silicon Valley.”

In fact, one of the major catalysts of London’s growth in recent years has been the rising cost of employing tech workers around the San Francisco area, according to Brynne Herbert, the chief executive of Move Guides, a start-up that helps multinational companies move staff around the world and counts many major internet companies among its customers.

“Costs in San Francisco are very high, it’s difficult to scale engineering in San Francisco so companies are increasingly looking to new hubs,” she says. “The other dynamic that you’re seeing is that the pound is falling significantly. It’s cheaper than ever for companies to employ people in the UK.”

Herbert estimates that even before sterling’s post-referendum drop, it was between 20pc and 40pc cheaper to hire a developer in London than in San Francisco, and for US companies that make much of their money in dollars, it may now be more than 50pc.

She also attributes much of the interest in Britain to a more vibrant start-up scene, catalysed by growing levels of venture capital funding. Herbert praises the previous government, which provided tax credits and other incentives to investors. “I think George Osborne and David Cameron did a phenomenal job,” she says. Sunday Telegraph 27-Nov-16

Triggering Article 50

For the first time in the EU’s history, an “escape” clause was incorporated into what became the Lisbon Treaty in 2007. Perhaps it was seen that there might be a time when reluctant Britain might want to leave, and it would be better to allow a mechanism for the removal of a petulant member.


Once this formal application has been triggered, the two-year countdown begins. The UK government is finding that the web of legislation that needs unpicking is enormous and is anxious that it has a clear idea of where it wants to go before firing the starting pistol. One of the problems is that Mrs May is anxious not to reveal her negotiating hand prior to the start of the talks. The EU equally doesn’t want to reveal how far they are prepared to go! Mrs May has said that she wants to trigger Article 50 in March 2017. No other nation has followed this path before, so will two years be sufficient for the process? Will other circumstances—such as a euro crisis—have overwhelmed Europe that they will seek to terminate Britain’s membership as quickly as possible, or will they seek to set an example to other Members to deter them from taking the same step? With elections due in 2017 in Italy, France, Germany and probably Greece, what will be the EU that Britain has to negotiate with?

A side issue has arisen as to whether the government has a sufficient mandate to trigger Article 50, or whether in needs a majority vote by the UK Parliament. The matter has just been considered by the highest judiciary of the land and a verdict is expected early in 2017. In the meantime, Parliament itself voted by an overwhelming majority to the triggering of Article 50, so although further legal challenges are being made by those who don’t want to see Britain withdraw, it is doubtful they will carry much weight. Even die-hard ‘remainers’ have come out publicly and said they were wrong and now agree that coming out would be good for Britain!

‘I was wrong about Brexit!’

One of the country’s most influential historians yesterday admitted he had been wrong to endorse the Remain campaign – and should have backed Brexit.

Before the referendum, Professor Niall Ferguson had been one of the most vociferous supporters of Britain staying in the European Union.

He had warned that leaving the EU would be ‘the ultimate divorce’, dubbing its supporters ‘happy morons’ and ‘Anglo-loonies’ who ignored the serious damage that would be done to the economy.

But yesterday, in an astonishing reversal, he said he had been wrong and admitted he – and the rest of the elite – had failed to listen to voters concerned about immigration. Brexit, he said, was the ‘revolt’ of provincial England.

The 52-year-old, who is a professor at Harvard in the US, also issued a scathing critique of the EU, which he said ‘deserved Brexit’ after failing on ‘monetary union, foreign policy, migration policy, radical Islam policy’. Daily Mail 07-Dec-16

EU unveils new £300m ‘Space Egg’ HQ – the ‘Europa’ in Brussels

Typical of the EU’s grandiose schemes is its latest extravagance—a new HQ for the European Council which was unveiled in December. The European Council is made up of the heads of state or government of the member states, a President, together with the President of the European Commission. They meet at least four times a year for “EU summits”. It is due to host the next summit meeting in March. This futuristic building was criticised by David Cameron at its inception in 2011, as a “gilded cage” at a time of austerity cuts.

The EU unveiled its futuristic new 321-million-euro headquarters on Wednesday, saying it symbolised ‘joy’ at a time of rising populist anger against Brussels that helped lead to Brexit.

A glass lantern-shaped structure inside a cube made of recycled window frames sourced from across the 28-nation bloc, the Europa building has been dubbed the “Space Egg” because of its otherworldly appearance.

At its heart is a huge room decked out in psychedelic rainbow carpets and ceiling tiles where European Union leaders will hold their summit meetings on the multiple crises that beset the bloc. Daily Telegraph 08-Dec-16

Israel and energy

In conclusion, let’s turn to Israel and her growing prosperity. The Tamar gas field has been supplying gas since April 2013 and is now running at the maximum the connecting pipework can take to shore—10 BCM/yr. The pipework is being upgraded to allow a 22% increase for 2017 and another upgrade to boost that a further 25%. Israel uses all the gas that Tamar can supply. The government’s revenues from fees and royalties amounted to NIS411m in the first half of 2016. (US$108m; £85m) There is also a substantial saving on coal and oil imports to fuel Israel’s power stations, which are being converted to run on gas, a much cleaner fuel.

Preparation is starting on the initial work to develop the huge Leviathan gas field. At the moment, it looks as if its owners, Nobel Energy, Delek Drilling, Avner Oil Exploration and Ratio Oil Exploration are funding its development, although, according to the Australian 19-Oct-16, the Russian gas firm Gazprom will also be involved, following talks between Putin and Netanyahu. Gas is planned to come on stream in Q4 2019.

“The increase in natural gas royalties significantly bolsters Israel’s economy. Revenues are expected to rise even further in the next few years, among other things because of the development of the Leviathan field and the opening of the sea to further gas and oil exploration.” Globes 16-Aug-16

Already, some of the Leviathan gas has been contracted to go to Jordan, an Israeli oil refinery and an Israeli power station which has yet to be built. This gives Leviathan’s owners the confidence to go ahead with their investments (as at 13th Dec still awaiting approval from the board of Nobel Energy, expected shortly). There will be gas to export too and there is much discussion on how this can be exported to Europe. The scheme backed by Israel and Russia is a pipeline connecting potential sources in Egypt, Israel and Cyprus to Greece and then on into Europe. This scheme is supported by the EU. The alternative is a much shorter pipeline to Turkey which would necessitate Turkey and Greece resolving their dispute over Cyprus. A matter which has been the subject of intensive talks recently, but failed to come to a resolution that would heal the divided country.

The Euro-Asia Interconnector which is a scheme to share electricity between Israel, Cyprus and Greece is also looking promising. The sea-bed route for this cable is currently being surveyed to find the best route, and work is anticipated to lay the cable in 2017. Upon the successful development of Leviathan and Aphrodite (Cyprus) gas fields (British Gas has a 35% share in it), both Israel and Cyprus would use some of their surplus gas to generate electricity to supply to Europe.

Israel ablaze

Toward the end of November, Israel suffered extensive damage in hundreds of fires following a very dry season. The situation was not helped by arsonists. She was much more prepared than in 2010, the last time such an event happened and it was heartening to see the help that Israel received from many countries to tackle the blazes. Cyprus, Russia, Croatia, Italy, Turkey, Greece, Jordan, Egypt, Azerbaijan, France, Spain and Ukraine sent aircraft and other equipment to help fight the fires. Even the Palestinian Authority sent 8 firefighting crews. This time there was no loss of life.

So as 2016 comes to a close, we take great encouragement from the numerous signs that abound that our Master is at hand. May 2017 bring our Lord’s return.

Brother Don Pearce

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