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Prophetic Times: New Year's Resolutions?

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Prophetic Times

New Year's Resolutions?

Perspective

It is a new year, and this is the time when millions of people make resolutions, which, more often than not, they do not keep. How often do people set a resolution or commitment knowing they will ultimately procrastinate yet another year to do whatever change is needed?

When did making resolutions originate and celebrating the New Year become such a big deal? Not surprisingly, it is not an American holiday. It came about around four millennia ago. Babylonians rang in their new year with an eleven-day festival in March. The ancient Egyptians celebrated the beginning of the new calendar year during the Nile River's annual flood. By 46 B.C., the Roman emperor, Julius Caesar, had moved the onset of the new year to January first, in honor of the Roman god of beginnings, Janus, an idea that took some time to catch on. However, in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII brought the January first New Year back in vogue with the Gregorian calendar, a concept that endures to the present. The origin of making New Year's resolutions rests with the Babylonians, who reportedly made promises to the gods in hopes they would gain favor in the coming year.

Making resolutions is a common thing people do around the world every year. What about us? How should a Christian view this secular New Year’s resolutions tradition?

Did you know the celebration of New Years is never once commanded in the Bible? Neither Jesus or the apostles ever observed it. The concept of New Year’s celebrations and traditions originated in pagan Babylon and eventually ended up in Rome. The Romans called it “Saturnalia” in honor of the Roman god, Saturn. It was a time of reveling, drinking and orgies, and ended with a human sacrifice. The time of celebration was connected with the winter solstice and began in mid-December, ending on January first. “In its midst was December twenty-five, the day, as the Romans calculated, when the sun was at its lowest ebb” (4000 Years of Christmas, page 28, E.W. Count)

Does It Matter?

We must not say, “It doesn’t matter.” The Bible emphatically commands us not to learn the ways of the nations of this world (Jeremiah 10:1-2).

At first the church resisted the practices of Saturnalia, but because there were so many immigrants coming into the ranks of the Roman church, they found they were facing an invasion of pagan customs. Rather than resist these customs, the Catholic Church amalgamated them into their church, drawing and gaining those who hung on to these pagan practices. The habit of Saturnalia was too strong in the people, so they acquiesced (4000 Years of Christmas, page 31).

Typically, people promise to lose weight, get in better physical shape, get out of debt or be a better person. No one would fault someone for trying to do any of these things, as they are worthy goals. However, the reality is most do not keep the promises they make to themselves this one time at the beginning of the year.

The apostle James admonished the brethren: “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit;’ whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.’ But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil” (James 4:13-16).

Making promises to one’s self, which are not kept, only serves to tear down the character one wishes to build. Only with God’s help can we make meaningful changes in our lives, and that isn’t a once-a-year commitment, but an everyday promise to God.

A vow in the Hebrew is defined as a promise. King Solomon, with his special wisdom, gave instructions about making promises to God: “Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; therefore, let your words be few. For a dream comes through much activity, and a fool’s voice is known by his many words. When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; for He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed—better not to vow than to vow and not pay” (Ecclesiastes 5:2-5).

God’s people especially examine themselves around Passover time, but also throughout the year. Rather than making rash promises to God, how much better to simply set goals and work towards them all year long asking for God’s strength and help when tempted to not carry through. Overcoming for us is not a once-a-year resolution, but a lifetime of fighting daily battles.

This is my Perspective and the current issue of Prophetic Times follows:

Prophetic Times

US vows to defend space with Japan, deploy mobile Marines as China worries grow

January 12, 2023 spacewar.com reported:

The United States said Wednesday that attacks in space would invoke its defense treaty with Japan and announced the deployment of a more agile Marine unit on its ally's soil as alarm grows over China. Weeks after unveiling plans to ramp up security spending, Japan sent its defense and foreign ministers to Washington where the two countries issued a statement vowing to "modernize the alliance in order to address the increasingly severe security environment." The talks come two days before a visit by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who is touring Group of Seven nations to kick off Japan's leadership year of the elite club and earlier Wednesday in London also boosted defense ties with Britain. As China makes rapid advances in satellites, the United States and Japan warned in their statement that "attacks to, from or within space present a clear challenge to the security of the alliance" that could invoke Article Five of their mutual defense treaty, which considers an attack on one an attack on both. The talks finalized a plan by the United States to send a so-called Marine Littoral Regiment, a more agile unit that can operate defenses both by sea and air, to Okinawa, the southern Japanese island strategically close to Taiwan. US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the unit would be in place by 2025 from a reorganization of an existing artillery regiment. 

Top U.S. medical school says INFANTS can be ‘queer,’ ‘asexual’

January 12, 2023 wnd.com reported:

Did you know a newborn baby could be ‘queer’ right out of the womb? How about ‘asexual’ or ‘transgender’? A new College Fix report uncovers a reoccurring Harvard Medical School course that offers ‘clinical exposure and education’ focusing on ‘serving gender and sexual minority people across the lifespan, from infants to older adults.’ The course is offered at Massachusetts General Hospital, which offers ‘gender-affirming surgical procedures’ for ages 18 and up, according to the report. Translation: MGH performs transgender operations such as removing the healthy breasts of women who seek such mutilating ‘surgeries’ as part of their quest to live as ‘men,’ i.e., to match their perceived ‘gender identity.’ ‘This elective is a four-week multidisciplinary clinical-and-scholarly experience that trains students to provide high-quality, culturally responsive care for patients with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and sex development,’ reads the course description…” "This elective is a four-week multidisciplinary clinical-and-scholarly experience that trains students to provide high-quality, culturally responsive care for patients with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and sex development," The same description states that the course material is developed "by faculty at Harvard Medical School and its affiliates" as well as the Fenway Institute, an LGBT activist organization that has been opposed by Boston-area social conservative groups such as MassResistance for decades. reads the course description. 

Artillery sinks Russian warship in Dnipro River, says Ukraine

January 11, 2023 newsweek.com reported:

The Ukrainian military says that it destroyed a Russian barge carrying weapons, military equipment and troops in an embattled area of the Dnipro River. Ukraine's Operational Command South said in a Facebook post on Monday that a Russian barge attempting to move the troops and supplies across the river near the city of Nova Kakhovka had joined a growing Russian "underwater fleet" after being hit in a Ukrainian attack. Russian forces have been attempting to ferry weapons and equipment across the river due to multiple bridges, ammunition depots and bases being previously destroyed amid Ukraine's large and ongoing southern counteroffensive. "Attempts to set up an alternative ferry through the Dnipro, in the area of Nova Kakhovka and Kozatsky, were not successful," Operational Command South said. "The ferry failed to withstand fire control and stopped. A barge loaded with weapons, equipment and personnel, after being hit by fire, replenished the occupiers' underwater fleet." The reported sinking of the barge comes on the same day that a Ukrainian official claimed Russian forces had been trapped by the river due to the counteroffensive in the Kherson region, pushing them further south. Nataliya Humenyuk, head of the joint press center of Ukrainian Defense Forces of the South, said Monday on the Ukrainian parliament's television channel that the Russians had become "sandwiched" between Ukrainian forces and the river. 

NATO, EU eye ‘next level’ partnership in face of Russia threat

January 10, 2023 spacewar.com reported:

NATO and the EU are seeking to ramp up cooperation after Russia's invasion of Ukraine upended the European security order, a joint declaration seen by AFP on Monday said. The two Brussels-based organisations have been looking to improve coordination for years, despite fears in some quarters that efforts to bolster the EU's role in defence could undermine the US-led alliance. The invasion of Ukraine has spurred calls to better harness the combined clout of Europe's economic muscle and US military might to better protect the one billion citizens living in member states. "This is a key juncture for Euro-Atlantic security and stability, more than ever demonstrating the importance of the transatlantic bond, calling for closer EU-NATO cooperation," said the statement, which is to be released by top NATO and EU officials on Tuesday. "As the security threats and challenges, we are confronted with are evolving in scope and magnitude, we will take our partnership to the next level." The declaration points to tackling "growing geostrategic competition", protecting critical infrastructure, and dealing with threats from emerging technologies and in space as important areas for deeper cooperation. Twenty-one of the European Union's 27 member states are already in NATO, and Sweden and Finland are currently pushing to join

China Holds Large-Scale Joint Strike Drills Aimed at Taiwan

January 9, 2023 voanews.com reported:

The Chinese military held large-scale joint combat strike drills starting Sunday, sending war planes and navy vessels toward Taiwan, both the Chinese and Taiwanese defense ministries said. The exercises coincided with the visit of a group of German lawmakers who landed in Taiwan on Monday morning. Leading the delegation is the Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, who leads the German Parliament's Defense Committee. The German lawmakers will meet with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, as well as Taiwan's National Security Council head and the Mainland Affairs Council, which handles issues related to China. China has stepped up its pressure on Taiwan's military in recent years by sending warplanes or navy vessels on an almost-daily basis toward the self-ruled island. China claims sovereignty over the island, which split from the mainland in 1949 after a civil war. Sunday's exercises have continued into Monday, Taiwan's defense ministry said, monitoring Chinese warplanes and navy vessels on its missile systems.

Medvedev threatens US with hypersonic cruise missiles, likens US to Nazis

January 6, 2023 jpost.com reported:

Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev threatened the United States of America with hypersonic cruise missiles and compared the American government’s policies to that of Nazis in a Thursday Telegram post in response to a US embassy appeal to Russian citizens for peace. ‘The main gift of the New Year was the arsenal of Zircon missiles that went yesterday to the shores of NATO countries,’ said Medvedev, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin who currently serves as Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council. The nuclear warhead-capable Zircon missiles were reported by Reuters Wednesday to have been placed on the frigate Admiral Gorshkov to be deployed to the Indian and Atlantic oceans. ‘1000 km range with hypersonic Mach 9 and the ability to use any payload with a guarantee overcome any missile defense,’ threatened Medvedev. ‘Let it [Gorshkov] stand somewhere 100 miles from the coast, closer to the Potomac River.’ The Potomac flows through Washington DC, the capital of the United States. The Zircon is the latest hypersonic missile produced by Russia. Currently, only the maritime version is available to Kremlin, which was expedited over an air-launched variant, because Russia already has the Kinzhal hypersonic missile in service and fulfilling that role.