The Coming Intervention of Jesus


“For thus says the Lord of hosts: Once more (it is a little while) I will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations, and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts. The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the Lord of hosts.” (Haggai 2:6-9)


Stop Signs and Road Blocks Ahead

 
       

The economy world-wide is in big trouble and world population is soaring.

A terrible collapse in the entire world economic system is coming soon as described in Revelation 18

At the time of the Flood of Noah, about 5500 years ago, God reduced the number of people in the world from perhaps 9 billion (or so) down to only 8 persons—Noah and his wife, their sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth and their wives.

The date of the Flood is fairly well known.

It should be evident that we are earthlings are overdue for another pruning.

If the rapture were to happen today, the next population reduction, by God or by man, will surely involve horrific violence in terms of war, decapitation of all new followers of Jesus, mass suicides, abortions, murders, famine, disease. Several huge prunings are clearly indicated in the book of Revelation Chapters 6-12.

Remember God loves everyone and wishes none to perish. But we are without excuse. He will be turning up the heat to get our attention. Millions will come to know Jesus, but be martyred. Thank God, Jesus is in charge, not us!

God must intervene in radical ways very soon to save us from self destructing.

What is the desirable population of the earth during the Millennial rule of Jesus? There will be optimum conditions on earth with strong central government by Jesus (Revelation 20). God knows and we aren’t given all the specifics about Earth’s coming Golden Age.

One Thousand Years of Peace by Ray Stedman.

Certain secular groups today agree that the planet is overpopulated and must be pruned down by government edict. The ruling elite must decide who lives and who dies. Such a pruning is conceivable based on what we know about the coming world government of the Antichrist (Daniel 9, Revelation 13). “One world government is our only option” it is claimed, and the current Pope agrees.

Voluntary population control has never worked!

For the greater good, it has been suggested that all power must be given to a global government, and two-thirds of humans must be eliminated. Let’s begin with the elderly, who are a non-productive drain on the system anyway. Then the rural rubes who don’t have the good sense to agree with us in the big cities. Then consider those persons who we can’t afford to keep alive: ones with birth defects, chronic medical conditions, dire poverty with no prospect of improvements…

According to these planners, soon we’ll get the total number humans on the planet down to manageable numbers. But there is an unintended consequence. The planners must survive. After all they know more than anyone else.

There will then be so much to enjoy in life for us privileged few at the top of the socialist empire of the NWO (New World Order)!

What we call Man's power over Nature turns out to be a power exercised by some men over other men with Nature as its instrument.
― C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man

It has been pointed out by some that the number of people living on the planet is not the problem but the equitable distribution of resources is the bigger issue.

The “Malthusian Catastrophe” is well known, and still ominous, but way out of date:

Those in power will try to impose their own solutions as the end of the age draws near. This has always involved changes in government and politics which ignore God! God is a God of order—He has always known best the best kind of government we would best flourish under. It’s not communism or socialism, or democracy for that matter. We’ll do best under a benevolent monarch. Trouble is only Jesus Christ qualifies and He will come to power shortly(if only to save us from ourselves.

A huge reduction of the world population is described in the book of the Revelation after the Rapture of the church.

Population Decrease Ahead

God is the active agent working through powerful angels. He takes personal responsibility for who lives and who dies. This is too important to be left to a committee! Actually all authority has alresdy been delegated to Jesus, the Son of God.

Jesus holds the title deed to the earth now.

In Revelation 6 executive orders from God call for a world population reduction by one fourth. (This is nested among with other horrific end-time judgments issuing from the throne room).

“When He (Jesus) opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come and see.” So I looked, and behold, a pale horse. And the name of him who sat on it was Death, and Hades followed with him. And power was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, with hunger, with death, and by the beasts of the earth.” (Revelation 6:7-9)

Assuming a starting population of 7.7 billion, the survivors of this one minor onslaught from heaven could number about 5.8 billion persons.

In Revelation Chapter 9:25-18 an angel is sent to kill one third of mankind. Assuming 5.8 billion live on the earth at the time, that would be a reduction in world population down to about 3.9 billion (50%).

“Then the fifth angel sounded: And I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. To him was given the key to the bottomless pit. And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. So the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit. Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. And they were not given authority to kill them, but to torment them for five months. Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man. In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them.

The shape of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle. On their heads were crowns of something like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men. They had hair like women’s hair, and their teeth were like lions’ teeth. And they had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots with many horses running into battle. They had tails like scorpions, and there were stings in their tails. Their power was to hurt men five months. And they had as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, but in Greek he has the name Apollyon.

One woe is past. Behold, still two more woes are coming after these things.

Then the sixth angel sounded: And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar which is before God, saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.” So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released

to kill a third of mankind.

Now the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million; I heard the number of them. And thus I saw the horses in the vision: those who sat on them had breastplates of fiery red, hyacinth blue, and sulfur yellow; and the heads of the horses were like the heads of lions; and out of their mouths came fire, smoke, and brimstone. By these three plagues a third of mankind was killed—by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which came out of their mouths. For their power is in their mouth and in their tails; for their tails are like serpents, having heads; and with them they do harm.

Note that many will refuse to change their minds, turn around, and not give Jesus permission to enter their lives and save them.

But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk. And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts.

Ray Stedman taught that the judgments in the end time will not follow in a strict linear time sequence since all judgments come to completion in the same great earthquake. The judgments actually cascade in sequence, the next judgment is linked to the previous (usually between #6 and #7 of its predecessor). Revelation Commentary. See also Earthquakes and the Bible,

In our age of vast Biblical Illiteracy, there is much uncertainly in the church and in the world concerning the character of God and His fidelity in keeping all His promises.

This gives us every reason to silence the background music, shut off the damned TV and stop surfing the net.

Reading of good books is an extinct practice now and the Bible is at the top of the list. We have many reasons to fear Almighty God.

But God!

“Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.

Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Please consider that God wants no one to be eternally lost.

The carnage coming soon at the end of the age does not mean billions of “innocents” will end up in hell. Of course there are no innocents on the planet. Anyone, anywhere who cries out to God will be brought into a saving relationship with Jesus whether or not they have heard the exact message called “the gospel.” (1 Corinthians 15). There is much deception in visions and dreams for sure. Jesus is to be found by all who seek Him.

Isaiah 55


“Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
Come to the waters;
And you who have no money,
Come, buy and eat.
Yes, come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without price.
Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?

Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
And let your soul delight itself in abundance.
Incline your ear, and come to Me.
Hear, and your soul shall live;
And I will make an everlasting covenant with you—
The sure mercies of David.
Indeed I have given him as a witness to the people,
A leader and commander for the people.
Surely you shall call a nation you do not know,
And nations who do not know you shall run to you,
Because of the Lord your God,
And the Holy One of Israel;
For He has glorified you.”

Seek the Lord while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
Let him return to the Lord,
And He will have mercy on him;
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.

“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

“For you shall go out with joy,
And be led out with peace;
The mountains and the hills
Shall break forth into singing before you,
And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree,
And instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree;
And it shall be to the Lord for a name,
For an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”


All Who Will May Enter


In Athens the Apostle Paul assured the intellectuals in town that...

“...the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you: God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things. And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising. Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17:23-31)


We are each admonished to make our call and election sure. Truth be told, vast numbers of professing Christians are actually still lost!

“Brothers, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.

For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.” (Philippians 3:17-21)

We have been given an ominous warning by Jesus Himself:

“Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

“But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

And so it was, when Jesus had ended these sayings, that the people were astonished at His teaching.” (Matthew 7:21-28)

What matters is knowing Jesus personally and intimately!

The end of the violence and horrors of the impending Tribulation period is clearly stated in Revelation. It’s a done deal! Why should YOU be “left behind” or “left out?”



The Seventh Trumpet: The Kingdom Proclaimed


Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying:
“We give You thanks, O Lord God Almighty,
The One who is and who was and who is to come,

Because You Jesus) have taken Your great power and reigned.
The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come,
And the time of the dead, that they should be judged,
And that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints,
And those who fear Your name, small and great,
And should destroy those who destroy the earth.”

Then the temple of God was opened in heaven, and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple. And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail.”
(Revelation 11:15-19)


Footnotes

To Israel God says,

“As I live,” says the Lord God, “surely with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out, I will rule over you. I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out. And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will plead My case with you face to face. Just as I pleaded My case with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will plead My case with you,” says the Lord God.

“I will make you pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant; I will purge the rebels from among you, and those who transgress against Me; I will bring them out of the country where they dwell, but they shall not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the Lord.

“As for you, O house of Israel,” thus says the Lord God: “Go, serve every one of you his idols—and hereafter—if you will not obey Me; but profane My holy name no more with your gifts and your idols. For on My holy mountain, on the mountain height of Israel,” says the Lord God, “there all the house of Israel, all of them in the land, shall serve Me; there I will accept them, and there I will require your offerings and the firstfruits of your sacrifices, together with all your holy things. I will accept you as a sweet aroma when I bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you have been scattered; and I will be hallowed in you before the Gentiles. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I bring you into the land of Israel, into the country for which I raised My hand in an oath to give to your fathers. And there you shall remember your ways and all your doings with which you were defiled; and you shall loathe yourselves in your own sight because of all the evils that you have committed. Then you shall know that I am the Lord, when I have dealt with you for My name’s sake, not according to your wicked ways nor according to your corrupt doings, O house of Israel,” says the Lord God.’ ” (Ezekiel 20:33-44)

Incidentally the number of Jews on earth is presently about 18 million or about 0.2 percent of the total. When Jesus returns, two thirds will perish but one third will survive (Zechariah 12:8-9) and the third will repopulate Israel after that last great world war. Israel will have much more land then since her borders will extend to the Euphrates (in the North) to the “River of Egypt” (the Wadi al Arish).

Wail, for the day of the Lord is at hand!
It will come as destruction from the Almighty.
Therefore all hands will be limp,
Every man’s heart will melt,
And they will be afraid.
Pangs and sorrows will take hold of them;
They will be in pain as a woman in childbirth;
They will be amazed at one another;
Their faces will be like flames.

Behold, the day of the Lord comes,
Cruel, with both wrath and fierce anger,
To lay the land desolate;
And He will destroy its sinners from it.
For the stars of heaven and their constellations
Will not give their light;
The sun will be darkened in its going forth,
And the moon will not cause its light to shine.

“I will punish the world for its evil,
And the wicked for their iniquity;
I will halt the arrogance of the proud,
And will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.
I will make a mortal more rare than fine gold,
A man more than the golden wedge of Ophir.
Therefore I will shake the heavens,
And the earth will move out of her place,
In the wrath of the Lord of hosts
And in the day of His fierce anger.
It shall be as the hunted gazelle,
And as a sheep that no man takes up;
Every man will turn to his own people,
And everyone will flee to his own land.
Everyone who is found will be thrust through,
And everyone who is captured will fall by the sword.
(Isaiah 13)


Population Growth in Israel

A recent article in The Times of Israel discusses Israel’s trends in population growth and how that nation will cope. I found the article insightful especially for us gentiles! By Sue Surkes 26 Jun 2019, 11:10 am

With its population set to double in 30 years, how will Israel cope? The government plans to build 1.5 million new homes by 2040, mostly in the crowded center, but critics say housing without infrastructure won’t work, call to develop Negev, Galilee

Under government plans to meet population growth with denser residential building in urban areas, tall apartment buildings like these in north Tel Aviv, photographed in December 2, 2016, will change the skyline of many cities. (Gili Yaari /Flash90)
Planet Earth, currently home to 7.7 billion people, will have to cope with an extra two billion souls by 2050 and a total of up to around 11 billion by the end of the century, according to a UN report published Sunday.

Within the same 2050 time frame, Israel’s population — the fastest-growing in the developed world, increasing by two percent annually — is set to almost double from the current nine million to 17.6 million, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics. And that’s in a dot of a country, just a little bigger than New Jersey in the US or Wales in the UK, that already has one of the highest population densities in the West and rapidly depleting open space.

Like many countries facing exponential growth, the Jewish state is trying to grapple with the implications and, following massive social protests in 2011 over the cost of living, of housing in particular, the government has been focusing on the need for a massive number of new homes.

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In 2017, having set up a new bureaucracy to fast-track planning and cut red tape, it approved the construction of 1.5 million housing units by 2040.

Residential towers in the central Israeli city of Petah Tikva, June 24, 2015. (Nati Shohat/FLASH90)
Critics — among them many mayors — say the government’s overriding focus on massive residential construction fails to take sufficient account of the need for capital investment in additional infrastructure such as roads, sewers, public transportation, schools and hospitals. Increased congestion on roads and crowding of public services will only lower quality of life, they warn.

The building obsession also overlooks the ability of local authorities to finance services for rapidly increasing populations on an ongoing basis, they charge.

Civil society and environmental groups, furthermore, bemoan the draconian powers awarded to a new planning body which, contrary to government declarations about the importance of preserving the country’s rapidly diminishing open space, currently envisions much of the new housing being built on green areas bordering cities and on agricultural land rezoned for residential construction.

Top-down government approach

Following the 2011 social protests, which at their height brought 400,000 Israelis out to the streets, the government established a ministerial committee for planning and construction that became known as the “housing cabinet.” The cabinet’s role is to declare “preferred [priority] sites for housing,” 108 of which had been announced by the end of last year, for the building of 386,000 apartments.

To speedily approve plans for large-scale building on these preferred sites, the government then created in 2014 a temporary Committee for Preferred Housing Sites, known by its Hebrew initials as Vatmal, whose term has already been extended and will come up for Knesset renewal again in August.

Running parallel to the regular tiers of local, district and national planning committees, the Vatmal has since 2014 approved a third of all housing units green-lighted for construction.

The Vatmal is based in the Finance Ministry, where minister Moshe Kahlon has staked his reputation on bringing housing prices down. It has the authority to override all but one existing national plans. A large majority of its 18 members are drawn from government departments. Public objections can be lodged but are rarely accepted, and there is no right of appeal against its decisions.

In February 2017, the government approved a nationwide target of 1.5 million new units to be approved by all planning bodies, including the Vatmal, and to be built by 2040, of which more than a million are to be in Tel Aviv and the center of the country, where demand is high. The planning targets for the various regions actually add up to a total of 2.6 million units to take account of the fact that not all plans reach fruition.

Vatmal’s annual report for 2018 states that plots for 34,500 apartments were in the process of being marketed, with plans for a further 27,000 apartments being advanced within the context of demolishing old buildings in inner cities and building new, bigger ones.

Four years on from the Vatmal’s establishment, earthworks and building are in progress at a small number of sites.

It’s all about the money

But while central government dictates the preferred housing sites and the Vatmal approves the plans, many mayors are in no hurry to issue building permits for two main reasons, both of which come down to money.

As the director general of the Interior Ministry, Mordechai Cohen, told a Tel Aviv real estate conference organized by the business daily The Marker, on Monday, widespread local authority opposition to massive new building could be averted by changes to what he called a “distorted” local tax system.

To date, local councils have focused on boosting commercial development because commercial rates are higher than residential ones. The latter go nowhere near helping to cover the costs of municipal services.

To alter the balance and try to encourage the councils to look more favorably upon major apartment construction, the government introduced “umbrella agreements” (known in Hebrew as “roof” agreements). Around 30 cities have signed such umbrella agreements so far. These are contracts signed between local authorities, the Finance and Housing ministries and the Israel Land Administration.

The agreements allow the state to sell to one or more developers land that it owns within the boundaries of a particular local authority. The developers buy the land in the knowledge that the council has committed to building a certain number of apartments. The deal, usually for several high towers, is attractive to the building companies because of the profits to be made from the sale of so many units. The council benefits because the government transfers to it some of the earnings from the sale of the land to allow for the creation of new infrastructure. Everyone wins. Or do they?

Some mayors think that the money is not sufficient or that government promises cannot be relied on, even if signed into contracts.

Earlier this month, after the municipality of coastal Herzliya approved replacing 570 apartments in old buildings with 1,843 units in 15 new residential towers, up to 30 stories high, Mayor Moshe Fadlon announced that he would not back further urban renewal because the water available to the city would not supply more than an additional 22 apartments.

According to the Globes business daily, he called on other mayors to follow suit and slammed the government, saying that it did not stand by its commitments and that there was “no policy.” He warned, “No infrastructure, no urban renewal.”

A Herzliya council spokesperson told The Times of Israel, “The mayor has announced that he will not allow any new building in areas such as north Herzliya without a solution to national infrastructure [needs] in areas such as transportation, water, drainage and electricity.”

According to Yoni Weizman, deputy director general responsible for the development and construction division at the Israel Builders Association, which represents around 6,000 active builders across the country, nearly 60% of the price of every apartment sold goes to the government in taxes, providing a pool of money that could be used to help local authorities initiate urban renewal projects with appropriate infrastructure, without incurring massive debt.

Earthquake protection

The Vatmal deals with large-scale new building and with inner city projects to demolish complexes of old structures and build new ones.

A second track for urban renewal, which runs through the standard planning committees, is provided via National Outline Plan 38, better known by its Hebrew acronym, Tama 38. The government introduced Tama 38 in 2005 to speed up the strengthening or replacement of buildings constructed before earthquake regulations were introduced in 1980 and to do so within the framework of the private sector.

Regular building plans can take many years to reach fruition. Because Israel is located on the Syrian-African rift earthquake zone and the danger could be imminent, Tama 38 cuts through the bureaucracy. As it already constitutes a plan that has been approved nationally, all that contractors have to do is to request a building permit from the local authority.

A building that has undergone refurbishment and expansion through Tama 38 next to a building that has not. (YouTube screenshot)
Like the umbrella agreements, Tama 38 was framed to offer a win-win opportunity, in this case to builders and residents. Builders are allowed to add up to 2.5 stories to create apartments which they can sell to make a profit while also covering the money they invest in strengthening or replacing the existing old apartment buildings. Residents get a refurbished or new building, without having to spend a dime, along with apartments that are 25 meters (82 square feet) larger than their original ones thanks to the addition of a bomb-proof room and a balcony.

Ramat Gan, near Tel Aviv, was an early poster child for Tama 38. Buildings completed or going through the process of Tama can be seen on every other street.

But at the end of April, the municipality, whose mayor changed in local elections in October, announced that it would henceforth only grant building permits for Tama 38 in exceptional circumstances.

The new mayor, former Likud MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen, opined at a conference this month at Tel Aviv University, “The government opted for a bad plan which has no planning vision and is clearly mistaken.” Economic incentives are not tools of planning, he told the event, organized by Life and Environment, which represents more than 120 environmental NGOs.

Shama-Hacohen, who previously served as Israel’s envoy to the OECD, UNESCO and the Council of Europe, said, “Here, people know that they’re going to get a new, bigger home. But they’re banging their heads against a concrete wall. They don’t think of the implications for infrastructure, quality of life, for the council’s regular and capital development budgets.”

Ramat Gan city engineer Sigal Horesh later explained to The Times of Israel, “The problem with Tama 38 is that to incentivize developers and residents to strengthen old buildings, it exempts both from certain taxes and in so doing deprives the city of millions of shekels that could be used for general development.”

Ramat Gan, she added, was currently in talks with the Vatmal to sign umbrella deals for priority housing sites.

But the city’s sudden reversal of policy threatens to leave builders in Ramat Gan high and dry, says the Israel Builders Association, which went to court earlier this month against Ramat Gan’s decision, seeing it as a test case requiring a court ruling as well as clarification by the attorney general, who is named as a respondent in its petition to the Tel Aviv District Court.

Putting builders out of business

The association’s Yoni Weizman told The Times of Israel that 180 Tama 38 projects were moving along the planning process in Ramat Gan. Without a transition period, such a sudden cancellation could bankrupt many of the small and medium-sized builders who have already laid out considerable amounts of money.

Contractors have to advance millions of shekels on architects, consultants, coordinators of tenants and other items in order to secure a building permit for Tama 38 in a process that can take as long as five years. Then they have to renovate or rebuild the old apartment buildings before they can add stories and create their own apartments to sell to recoup their investment.

Although originally conceived as a solution for buildings in danger of earthquake damage, Tama 38 has come to be seen as a relatively quick-to-implement plank in the national plan to build an average of 65,000 housing units each year — and that, according to Weizman, is before making up for an existing shortfall of 150,000 apartments countrywide.

“At a time when you need to build, you’re going to lose thousands of apartments [by blocking Tama 38 in Ramat Gan], with the result that housing prices in a high-demand city such as Ramat Gan will rise,” Weizman said.

Tama 38 has been a flop in peripheral areas, which, ironically, are the most exposed to earthquake danger due to their location, because low apartment sale prices make the investment uneconomical for developers. Even within more central cities and towns, strengthening or rebuilding under Tama may only be profitable in wealthier neighborhoods where the market value of every square meter is high.

In its report for 2018, the government’s Urban Renewal Authority said that just 3,800 apartments were sold through Tama projects, representing 14% of all new apartments sold during that year. This hardly makes a dent in the target of 65,000 housing units annually.

On Monday, Dalit Zilber, head of the national planning committee (as opposed to the Vatmal), told The Marker’s real estate conference that Tama 38’s time had probably come to an end.

Don’t touch our open spaces

Critics such as the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel say that in the rush to build, environmental considerations are set aside and too many construction plans are approved for virgin or rezoned agricultural land. With a little more effort and research, it argues, space for more intensive building within city boundaries can be found.

The endangered mountain gazelle. (Wikimedia Commons/Bassem18)
Of the target 1.5 million units planned by 2040, 386,000 have landed in the Vatmal’s court so far. Of these, the Vatmal has already approved 164,000 within the framework of 52 plans.

In its fourth annual report on the Vatmal’s work, published in Hebrew in March, the SPNI found that of these 164,000 units, just seven percent were for inner city demolition and building, with most of the preferred housing sites located on the outskirts of cities on open and agricultural land.

The SPNI report calls on the government to strengthen the existing planning hierarchy, which is far more responsive to the public, rather than imposing building targets in a top-down manner, and to look more carefully at existing inventories held by local councils of inner city buildings that can be replaced or enlarged and at empty plots that can be built upon.

Housing stock should be increased as much as possible within cities, the organization says; not only is this much cheaper because of the additional need for infrastructure in green belt areas, but in order to preserve crucial ecological systems upon which this and future generations will depend.

Limiting births

Attending the same conference as Shama-Hacohen earlier this month was Prof. Alon Tal, a veteran environmental campaigner, head of the department of public policy at Tel Aviv University and founder of Adam Teva V’Din — the Israel Union for Environmental Defense.

Prof. Alon Tal, pictured with his book, ‘The Land is Full.’ (Facebook)
“Everything that we’re are talking about” — including environmental degradation, and massive building plans — “are symptoms,” he said. “We all know that Israel is growing by two percent a year. It’s very difficult to provide over 60,000 housing units annually without harming citizens’ rights, environmental quality, nature, and our quality of life.”

Tal recently founded another NGO — Zafuf (which means “crowded” in Hebrew): The Israel Forum for Population, Environment, and Society.

In 2016, Yale University Press published his book, “The Land is Full: Addressing Overpopulation in Israel.”

In the book, Tal singles out the two populations most responsible for the country’s galloping population growth; ultra-Orthodox Jews and Bedouin Arabs.

The former, according to a Central Bureau of Statistics report issued May 2017, accounted for 11 percent of the total population in Israel in 2015. By 2040, that figure was predicted to reach 20%, rising to 32% by 2065. Subtracting Arab citizens, this rises to 40% by 2065, with one in two of all non-Arab children being ultra-Orthodox and one in four being of working age. At present, only around half of Haredim work, with men preferring to study holy works instead. (The percentage of Arabs in the population is predicted to remain constant at around 21% until 2065 and then to begin to fall.)

Population growth vs quality of life

“You can always cram in more and more people,” Tal told the conference. “The question is, ‘What sort of life do we want to lead? When does the figure start to harm our quality of life?’ We have to start talking about limiting births.”

Speaking to The Times of Israel on the conference sidelines, Tal elaborated, “It’s a small country. At the end of the day, it’s going to need more than 1.5 million more housing units, it’s going to need 20 million, because you’re growing all the time. We all know that in a closed system, infinite growth is impossible.”

Tal said the way to reduce population growth was to remove government incentives to have more children, which start with grants for each birth and continue with various payments for each child.

“People say to me, ‘Alon, how can you ethically justify the government coming into our bedrooms and telling us what to do?’ And I say, ‘I want to get the government out of our bedrooms! Right now, the government comes in and hands out money and says ‘have kids, have kids, have kids!’ That is lunacy!

“We have the most crowded country in the Western world and it’s doubling in size every 30 years and we have to realize that the ethos and the axioms that have characterized the planning system are outdated, inappropriate and ecologically disastrous.”

Ray of hope?

Maybe hope will come from the Israel 2048 group, which is devoted to developing the full potential of the still sparsely populated Negev and Galilee regions of the country so that they can accommodate a total of seven million people by 2048, instead of the predicted four million, providing the same level of services and employment opportunities as Israel’s overstretched center.

Bringing together government ministries, the National Economic Council, the Israel Builders Association, local authorities in the Negev and the Galilee, students and academic experts, the award-winning organization is working toward reducing the expected population in the central region by actively increasing that in the peripheral north and south of the country.

It has already established new communities and helped to strengthen existing ones, and has raised funds to create more than 80 infrastructure projects.

“By the year 2048, Israel will likely be home to more than 17 million residents,” says the organization’s website. “Only four million of those people are expected to live in the Negev and Galilee. That’s 75% of Israel’s territory, with just 25% of the population. Meanwhile, 12 million people will live in the small area between Nazareth and Kiryat Gat. The entire country will depend on a single, crowded and unaffordable, economic center. This scenario will destroy the quality of life for Israel’s residents, and exacerbate the already growing socioeconomic gaps.

“We can sit back and watch the crisis unfold,” it argues, “or we can stand up and build a strong, sustainable Israel.”

 


God Keeps His Promises

“...knowing this first: that skeptics will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (2 Peter 3:3-13)


Homework Assignment

World Population

Population of the PreFlood World

The Great Flood of Noah

The New Testament and the Flood

The Elements of the World

If the Rapture Happened Today

Everlasting Destruction

The 144,000

The Seventy

The Excluded Ones

The Wife of God and the Bride of Christ

Is God Angry?

Famine in the Land

The Time of the End by Ray Stedman

The Wasted Years

Signs of the Times or Signs of the End?

The Left Behind

The Royal Road to Wholeness

The Exchanged Life


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July 1, 2019