This Week in the News

“Lord’s Prayer: Pope Francis Calls for Change”

The BBC wrote on December 8:

“Pope Francis has called for a translation of a phrase about temptation in the Lord’s Prayer to be changed. The current wording that says ‘lead us not into temptation’ is not a good translation because God does not lead humans to sin, he says. His suggestion is to use ‘do not let us fall into temptation’ instead, he told Italian TV on Wednesday night.

“The Lord’s Prayer is the best-known prayer in Christianity. The pontiff said France’s Roman Catholic Church was now using the new wording ‘do not let us fall into temptation’ as an alternative, and something similar should be used worldwide. ‘Do not let me fall into temptation because it is I who fall, it is not God who throws me into temptation and then sees how I fell,’ he told TV2000, an Italian Catholic TV channel…”

Bild Online added on December 8:

“The Lord’s Prayer is the most important and the most recited prayer of Christianity. Moreover, it is also the prayer that Jesus Christ himself taught to his disciples. From the believer’s perspective, to change it would be to correct the words of God 2000 years later… The current Lord’s Prayer is based on the New Testament, which was passed down in Greek…

“In France, the debate within the church has been decided… Since the first Sunday of Advent, in France the plea is now: ‘do not let us be tempted’.

“German-language theologians also think that an adjustment would make sense. Last week, however, the bishop of Regensburg, Rudolf Voderholzer, warned of ‘falsifying the words of Jesus’. The plea ‘do not lead us into temptation’ was passed down in exactly these words in the gospels of Matthew and Luke, said the former Professor of Dogmatics. ‘If we were to correct Jesus by saying “No, Jesus, you can’t have said that; we know better and will now correct you”, then we would soon end up with an entirely new bible based on our human ideas. The bible would no longer be the testimony of God’s revelation’, the diocese quotes one of the bishops’ earlier sermons. It is very likely that the German Bishops’ Conference will soon address Pope Francis’ criticism of the translation.”

On December 8, Fox News published a commentary by Scott Gunn, an Episcopal priest:

“Pope Francis has suggested that Catholics learn a new line when they say the Lord’s Prayer… This beloved prayer is said by nearly all Christians weekly, if not daily… No, the pope is not trying to put new words in Jesus’ mouth. Yes, I am grateful for what the pope is asking, even though I am not a Roman Catholic.

“There are two reasons I am grateful for the pope’s request to change ‘lead us not into temptation’ into ‘do not let us fall into temptation.’ First, these new words are actually closer to what Jesus said. Second, they offer better theology.

“Despite our ideas to the contrary, Jesus did not walk around speaking the English of the King James Bible…

“The English wording that we use when we pray the Lord’s Prayer comes from Wycliffe’s translation of the Bible from the late 1300s. Matthew 6:13, the newsworthy line, reads, ‘and leede us nat in to temptacioun.’ Starting in the later years of the 20th century, Bible scholars began offering better translations into English from the original languages of the Lord’s Prayer. The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible gives us Matthew 6:13 like this: ‘And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.’

“Why is this better? God does not create temptation for us… The Letter of James (1:13-14) in the New Testament puts it like this: ‘No one, when tempted, should say, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one. But one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it.’…

“… Jesus Christ took on human flesh and knew every aspect of human life except for sin. Jesus knew what it was like to be tempted, because he was tempted by Satan. So our God knows the pain and struggle of temptation and does not will it upon us. Pope Francis would have us pray ‘do not let us fall into temptation.’ It’s a subtle difference. But it is an important difference. In this better translation, we are praying for God’s guidance to keep us away from temptation.”

Actually, the comments by Pope Francis and also by Scott Gunn in the above-quoted article have merits. The suggestions are not to change Christ’s words, but to clarify His words. We discuss in great detail the words of the “Lord’s Prayer” in our free booklet, “Teach Us To Pray,” copyright 2006. When explaining from the Bible the meaning of the clause, “Lead Us Not into Temptation,” we also state this:

“The New Testament Greek word for ‘temptation’ (‘peirasmos’), and the Greek word for ‘to tempt’ (‘peirazo’), can also mean, ‘trial’ and ‘to test.’ The same is true for the Hebrew words in the Old Testament, ‘massah’ and ‘nasah,’ which can mean ‘temptation’ and ‘tempt,’ or, ‘trial’ and ‘test.’…”

At the end of that section, we give the following summary:

“When we ask God the Father to protect us from temptation, or serious and sore trials, we understand that God never tempts us to sin. Rather, temptation to sin comes through our own desires, the society around us, and Satan the devil. Christ tells us to ask the Father to protect us from the temptation to sin.

“We also understand that God tests us to get to know us better. His tests are for the purpose of strengthening us and enabling us not to sin. We should not ask God the Father to withhold tests from us, but rather, as Christ tells us, ask the Father not to allow the trials we go through to be too difficult for us to bear. Conversely, we should ask the Father for strength and wisdom not to test Him, by doubting Him and His powers, by limiting—in our minds—His ability to help us, by trying to force our will upon Him, and by even questioning His involvement in our lives.”

Please note our new StandingWatch program, “The Lord’s Prayer—Does Pope Francis Really Want to Change It?” 

“Weapons Sales Up Again Worldwide”

Deutsche Welle wrote on December 11:

“Arms sales are increasing around the world… the main beneficiaries are armaments groups in the US and Western Europe

“The global trade in arms and military services increased again in 2016, for the first time in five years. It was up 1.9 percent on the previous year — and 38 percent compared to 2002. These new figures are from the latest report on the international arms industry by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). It says that in 2016 the world’s 100 biggest armaments groups sold $374.8 billion (€317.7 billion) of weapons and weapons systems.

Particularly in the United States, armaments groups are producing and selling more weapons. According to the report, sales from US firms rose 4 percent in 2016, totaling $217.2 billion. This was not only because of the US’ own military deployments abroad: The figure was also boosted by the purchase of large weapons systems by other countries. The US group Lockheed Martin — the biggest weapons producer worldwide — did lucrative business selling its new F-35 to countries like Britain, Italy and Norway. Its biggest customer, though, is the United States Air Force.

“Big American players like Lockheed Martin make up the majority of the top 100 armaments groups researched by SIPRI’s experts. Once again, the report clearly shows that the majority of arms come from American companies — a total of 57.9 percent of all global arms sales. Western Europe takes second place in the list of the most important suppliers of arms, followed by Russia with 7.1 percent of arms sales around the world.

“The picture is more mixed in the Western European countries. While French and Italian firms are selling fewer arms, German and British groups — despite Brexit — increased their turnover. The German tank manufacturer Krauss-Maffei, for example, and Rheinmetall, which makes military vehicles, profited from the demand for their products in Europe, the Middle East and South-East Asia…

“The SIPRI researchers believe China may also be a top weapons manufacturer. The country does not, however, appear in their statistics, because the experts have no reliable data on the Chinese arms trade…

“There is no question but that wars prompt individual states to procure weapons. When crises threaten, countries spend more money on more modern arms: They buy new warships, fighter jets and tanks, and armaments groups sell more as a result. But according to SIPRI expert Fleurant, the majority of weapons are sold by arms manufacturers to the defense ministries of their own countries, not abroad. Thus the new SIPRI report not only provides information about who is selling and buying how many weapons: It also says something about how safe the world as a whole currently feels.”

Trying to find salvation in an arms race will never work. Actually, wealth gained through the sale of weapons for the purpose of fighting in war is ungodly.

“Nobel Peace Prize Winner: Nuclear War Is ‘One Tiny Tantrum Away’”

The Week wrote on December 11:

“While accepting the Nobel Peace Prize on Sunday, the director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) warned that ‘the deaths of millions may be one tiny tantrum away.’ During the ceremony in Oslo, Beatrice Fihn said the world has a choice to make — ‘the end of nuclear weapons or the end of us’ — and said the risk of using nuclear weapons is ‘greater now than during the Cold War.’

“As North Korea continues to test missiles, including some believed to be able to deliver a nuclear warhead to the continental U.S., and the war of words between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un continues to escalate, a ‘moment of panic’ could lead to ‘the destruction of cities and the deaths of millions of civilians,’ Fihn said.”

Sadly, this warning is so true and relevant.

“Military Assessment: Major Report Warns US ‘Will Lose the Next War’”

The website of nzherald published the following on December 11:

“The world is looking bleak. From the nuclear bluster of North Korea, China’s relentless power creep in Asia and Russia’s covert invasion of Ukraine, the international situation is as dire as at any time during the Cold War. So is the world’s self-proclaimed ‘policeman’, the United States, up to the challenge? A new in-depth report from strategic think-tank Rand Corporation thinks not…

“‘US forces today… are failing to keep pace with the modernising forces of great power adversaries, are poorly postured to meet key challenges in Europe and East Asia,’ the report reads… Projected combat scenarios in Europe and Asia both present grim outcomes, the report finds…”

“Czech Leader Slams EU ‘Cowards’ on Jerusalem Stance”

y-net wrote on December 10:

“Milos Zeman, president of [the] only European country to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital following [the] US announcement, says European Union states ‘are doing all they can so a pro-Palestinian terrorist movement can have supremacy over a pro-Israeli movement.’…

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu left Saturday evening on a two-day official visit to Paris and Brussels, vowing not to accept [a] ‘double standard’ from Europe on Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital…

“The Europeans’ objection to the move was so strong, that Israeli officials stress that Israel’s main problem is actually with Western European countries rather than with the Arab, central and Eastern European countries, whose reactions were predictable and measured. Israeli state officials blasted the ‘European hypocrisy,’ saying that while the European foreign ministers rushed to strongly condemn Trump’s announcement, they failed to condemn the rockets fired at the southern city of Sderot over the weekend…”

The Bible prophesies that ultimately, Europe will become Israel’s most dangerous enemy.

Netanyahu vs. Erdogan

y-net wrote on December 10:

“Speaking during a joint press conference with [the] French president in Paris, Netanyahu says he won’t take lectures on morality from a leader ‘who bombs Kurdish villagers in his native Turkey and who jails journalists’; [he] tells Macron ‘just as Paris is the capital of France, Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.’ Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel would ‘not take lectures’ from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who over the weekend issued a tirade against Israel, accusing it of being a ‘terrorist state that murders children’…

“Later on, Erdogan’s office issued a statement slamming Netanyahu’s remarks in Paris. ‘We condemn in the strongest possible terms Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s remarks targeting the Republic of Turkey and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan,’ a spokesperson said, adding that Israel, which disregards international law, has ‘occupied’ the Palestinian people’s hundreds-of-years-old homeland and systematically violates United Nations resolutions, must first account for its own actions.”

The relationship between Israel and Turkey will continue to deteriorate.

Burning of Israeli Flags in Berlin, Germany

The Local wrote on December 11:

“Israeli flags were burned at the Brandenburg Gate on Friday during a pro-Palestinian demonstration against US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Ten people were arrested and investigations were launched into the violation of a foreign state’s sovereign signs. On Sunday evening, an Israeli flag was also burned on the edge of a protest march from Berlin’s Neukölln district to Kreuzberg, which was attended by around 2,500 demonstrators.

“Government spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters that the government strongly condemned protests in German cities where ‘hatred’ of Israel and Jews was expressed. Seibert noted that Berlin had a ‘particular responsibility toward Israel and Jewish people in general’ because Nazi Germany slaughtered six million Jews in the Holocaust.”

Deutsche Welle wrote on December 11:

“German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday denounced the burning of Israeli flags to protest against the United States’ decision last Wednesday to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital…

“Germany’s interior minister [Thomas de Maziere] has also criticized the burning of Israeli national symbols in Berlin… German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel told Bild that despite understandable criticism of the US decision, ‘there is no right and also no justification to burn Israeli flags, incite hatred against Jews or question the right of Israel to exist.’… Justice Minister Heiko Maas also said there was no place for any sort of anti-Semitism.”

Anti-Semitism is again raising its ugly head all over the world. Note the next article as well.

Anti-Semitism Outbursts Across Europe

JTA wrote on December 10:

“On Saturday, protestors against the Jerusalem decision burned an Israeli flag in Stockholm…

“The Israeli-Jewish Congress… called on European governments not to allow the use of Trump’s declaration to serve as a ‘pretext’ for anti-Semitism… ‘It is unconscionable that Jews are under attack on the streets of Europe, whether by terrorists hurling Molotov cocktails or openly and brazenly calling for the mass murder of Jews in Malmo, Vienna and Paris,’ European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor said in a statement. ‘We call on European governments to take strong punitive action against those who perpetrated these acts and call for the immediate arrest of anyone… making murderous chants.’

“At other protest rallies about Jerusalem in Austria, France and Malmo, Sweden, participants chanted, respectively, in Arabic about an ancient massacre of Jews, freedom for Palestinian terrorists and shooting Jews.”

Peace Talks in Middle East… Where Is America?

Deutsche Welle wrote on December 11:

“French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Monday said that while Netanyahu has repeatedly announced a new US-led peace initiative, European diplomats have received no information on such a plan, even when US State Secretary Rex Tillerson was in Brussels last week. ‘They’ve announced to us some kind of American initiative. We’ve been waiting for several months. If it’s not the case, then perhaps the European Union should take the initiative, but it’s too early to say,’ said Le Drian while in Brussels.”

Der Spiegel Online wrote on December 8:

“The move [to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital] … disqualifies the United States as a mediator… That means that it is now up to us – the Europeans, the Germans – to come up with new ideas and new formats, as difficult as that may be. Wherever possible, those new ideas should be developed in cooperation with moderate Arab countries

“For German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who has been demanding that Germany be more courageous on foreign policy, the new situation in the Middle East presents a perfect opportunity. No other conflict should be as important to Europe as the one between the Israelis and the Palestinians…”

In light of America’s failure to be any credible broker, the EU WILL get involved.

No Role for the USA in Middle East Peace Talks

The Associated Press wrote on December 13:

The Palestinian president said Wednesday his people will not accept any role for the United States in the Mideast peace process ‘from now on,’ following President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Mahmoud Abbas spoke at a gathering of heads of state and top officials from Islamic nations at a summit in Turkey that is expected to forge a unified Muslim world’s stance against Trump’s move. Abbas called Trump’s decision a ‘crime’ that threatened world peace. He called on the United Nations to take charge of the peace process and create a new mechanism, arguing that Washington is no longer ‘fit’ for the task. The Palestinians are committed to a peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Abbas said, but after Trump’s seismic shift on Jerusalem, Washington is not accepted as a fair negotiator. The speech marked a significant shift in Abbas’ approach toward the United States, after years of focusing on courting U.S. goodwill because of Washington’s role as sole mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Immediately after Trump’s announcement last week, Abbas had said the U.S. effectively disqualified itself as a broker, but Wednesday’s speech was more sharply worded and delivered to a global audience. Last week, Abbas aides said the Palestinian leader would not meet with Mike Pence during the U.S. vice president’s planned visit to Israel and the West Bank next week. Abbas had initially planned to meet with Pence in the biblical West Bank town of Bethlehem, but two senior aides have said the meeting would not take place because of Trump’s pivot on Jerusalem. The Istanbul gathering of heads of state and top officials from the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation is also an opportunity for the Muslim world to offer its strongest response yet to Washington’s move. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan— the current president of the OIC — called on countries to urgently recognize the Palestinian state and Jerusalem as its capital

“Israel has considered Jerusalem its capital since the state’s establishment in 1948 and sees the city as the ancient capital of the Jewish people… The Palestinians equally lay claim to Jerusalem and want the eastern part of the city as capital of their future state… The Old City, located in east Jerusalem, is home to sites holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims. These include the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray, and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site.”

Does Trump Help in Building the Third Temple?

Newsweek wrote on December 11:

“Activists lobbying for the construction of a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem said Trump was playing a similar role to the Persian emperor Cyrus the Great, who allowed the Jews to return to Israel from exile. Jews also praised Cyrus for helping them build a second Jewish temple in the same place where the first had been destroyed.  Judaism’s First Temple stood from around 957 B.C. to around 586 B.C., and its Second Temple stood from around 515 B.C. to 70 A.D., according to the Hebrew Bible. Now, some Jews said Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital paved the way for the construction of a Third Jewish Temple in the same place the Second Temple had been before it was demolished.

“‘There have been amazing advances towards bringing the Temple this year. It was clear that Trump was part of that process, guided by Hashem [God],’ said Asaf Fried, official spokesman for the United Temple Movement, an association lobbying for the Third Temple’s construction on the Temple Mount. The Temple Mount is the elevated area above Jerusalem’s Western Wall that was once the site of Judaism’s two temples. The site is the third holiest place in Islam and has been the source of conflict between the two religions. It is currently under Israeli sovereignty but is administered by a Muslim religious trust. Jews are permitted to visit the site but are not allowed to pray there…

“The Temple Mount is believed to be the site where Abraham demonstrated his devotion to God by taking his son Isaac to be sacrificed… The Western Wall is all that is left of the Second Temple. Advocates for a Third Temple were supportive of Trump even before he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on Wednesday. Evangelical Christians, who are staunch supporters of Trump, believed that a Third Temple would be built before the ‘end times’ that would usher the second coming of Jesus Christ…”

It is interesting that May 14, 2018, will be 70 years since the founding of the State of Israel. It was after 70 years, following the return of the Jews from Babylonian captivity, that the command to rebuild the Temple became a point of urgency as the Books of Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi reveal.

The interspersing of end-time events in these prophecies in conjunction with rebuilding the Temple makes President Trump’s proclamation all the more interesting. His action has been describes as “defiant” and has found no support outside of Israel and America.

Germans Trust Russia More Than the USA

Deutsche Welle wrote on December 9:

“A new survey published by German public broadcaster ARD shows Germans trust Russia more than the US. America’s brand appears to have suffered considerably since the election of Donald Trump as US president last year. The poll… showed that 28 percent of respondents felt Moscow was a reliable partner, compared to 25 percent for Washington. The result is the first time the public’s trust in the US has fallen below Russia in over a decade

“More than 90 percent said Paris was a reliable partner, while more than 60 percent said Britain, which has been trying to exit the European Union (EU), was a reliable partner… Nearly 60 percent of Germans had a favorable view of the US when Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, left office. That dropped to 35 percent at the beginning of Trump’s presidency.

The decline in Germany has reflected a worldwide trend. ‘Attitudes have taken a dramatic turn for the worse, especially in Western Europe and Latin America,’ the surveyors said… the US’s favorability had only dramatically improved in one country: ‘Only in Russia has the image of the United States improved by a large margin.’”

As we said from the outset, the Presidency of Donald Trump will lead to an overall worldwide rejection of the USA (with perhaps a few exceptions such as, temporarily, Russia and Israel).

Germany’s Martin Schulz a European Radical?

Politico wrote on December 7:

Germany is rediscovering Europe. After a prolonged, conspicuous absence, Europe has reemerged in recent weeks at the top of Germany’s political agenda, renewing hopes in some quarters (and fanning fears in others) that the Continent is poised to take a great leap toward closer integration. ‘We want a United States of Europe, thundered Martin Schulz, seemingly out of nowhere, at the annual convention of his Social Democrats (SPD) on Thursday…

“Merkel’s failure to build an alliance with the Greens and liberals has left a grand coalition as Germany’s only hope to form a majority government… After vociferously ruling out a grand coalition both before and after Merkel’s attempt to build a three-way alliance collapsed, Schulz’s credibility is at stake. Nothing less than the pursuit of a United States of Europe, it seems, would justify such an about-face. Schulz, who was roundly criticized both inside and outside his party for not emphasizing his European credentials during the campaign, has now moved to the other extreme. If his call for a U.S. of E weren’t enough of a jaw dropper, Schulz added that any country that refused to jump on board by 2025 should be kicked out of the EU altogether.

“The reactions weren’t long in coming. Alexander Dobrindt, a leader of the Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party of Merkel’s Christian Democrats, called the SPD leader a ‘European radical.’”

Martin Schulz is a person who should be watched. And so are Sebastian Kurz andFPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache (see next article).

Austria Set to Have New Government Soon, while Germany Is Stalling

Deutsche Welle wrote on December 14:

“Set to become Europe’s youngest political leader, Sebastian Kurz has predicted a new government will be formed before Christmas. He said the far-right FPÖ has ensured the government will have a ‘pro-European’ stance…

“According to local media, the FPÖ [under FPÖ leader Heinz-Christian Strache]reportedly secured top positions in the foreign, defense and interior ministriesduring coalition talks and agreed to a ban on public referendums to leave the EU.

The far-right party also guaranteed support for EU sanctions against Russia despite its pro-Kremlin stance… If Kurz’s conservatives form a government with the FPÖ, it will mark the first time the party enters power in a decade.”

At the same time, coalition talks in Germany are proceeding rather slowly. As the Local reported on December 13, the “Social Democrats have been considering a third option [in addition to a Grand Coalition and new elections] – a ‘cooperation coalition’ or ‘KoKo’ – which could involve the SPD and the CDU/CSU forming an alliance and agreeing on some issues while leaving potentially conflict points to parliamentary debates… [believing] a ‘KoKo’ could free them up to oppose the CDU on issues such as social justice while working with them on Europe and digitalization. The SPD and CDU/CSU are moreover divided on issues such as health care and tax cuts.”

However, a “KoKo” does not seem to find much support in the German public.

EU Takes Over Global Trade Stage

Politico wrote on December 8:

“The international trading system created by the U.S. after the Second World War has a new leader — the European Union. The EU on Friday announced the conclusion of a landmark trade agreement with Japan — covering economies worth about 30 percent of the world’s GDP. That comes after scoring a trade deal with Vietnam in 2015 and Canada last year…

EU-linked trade agreements are piling up at the same time the U.S. is retreating from the world stage. U.S. President Donald Trump’s decisions to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement,  and to block the World Trade Organization’s dispute settlement system, along with his threats to hit China with tariffs, have raised the risks of a global trade war, for which there is little appetite elsewhere. That leaves the EU as the indispensable partner for world trade…”

Even in trade, the EU is taking the lead, while the USA is retreating.

“Twenty-Five EU States Sign PESCO Defense Pact”

Deutsche Welle wrote on December 11:

“European Union member states on Monday moved ever closer towards establishing a defense union, after the European Council adopted the creation of a new European defense and security cooperation network known as PESCO. The Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), which was first set out in the Lisbon Treaty, will allow members states to jointly develop military capabilities, invest in shared projects and enhance their respective armed forces…

“With 25 of the EU’s current 28 member states joining the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), there seems to be a great deal of consensus among member states but a few remain on the fence. The new defense union is expected to address immediate threats without having to rely on NATO for all of the EU’s defense needs… The countries that have chosen not to take part are Malta, Denmark – which has special opt-out status – and the UK (which is set to withdraw from the bloc in March 2019).

“Mogherini, described the move as ‘historic,’ while European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker hailed the move on Twitter, posting: ‘She is awake, the Sleeping Beauty of the Lisbon Treaty: Permanent Structured Cooperation is happening.’…”

This is just a first step towards the prophesied creation of a powerful EU army.

Brexit Deal?

Deutsche Welle wrote on December 8:

“The EU and UK have reached an initial agreement on Ireland, citizenship rights and a divorce bill… paving the way for the two sides to move onto the next phase of negotiations on the future relationship in the areas of trade, defense and security, pending final approval at next week’s EU summit.

“The EU had been calling for clarity on three key issues — the Irish border, a financial settlement and the rights of EU-UK citizens  — before any future trade talks. The EU and the UK have reached a tentative agreement on these issues, with the ‘caveat that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’ as part of a final Brexit deal…”

Alabama Earthquake–Jones Beats Moore

McClatchy wrote on December 12:

“The election of Democrat Doug Jones to the U.S. Senate complicates — and could all but doom — Republican efforts to score any big wins for President Donald Trump. The narrowing of the Senate Republicans’ already-slim majority represents a huge loss to the GOP, which failed this year to deliver on a campaign promise to repeal Obamacare and has struggled to pass spending legislation.  Yet Jones’ victory over Republican Roy Moore also comes as a relief to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. McConnell championed Moore’s primary opponent and called on the nominee to leave the race after several women came forward to complain that Moore had pursued them as teenagers.

“The GOP struggled throughout 2017 when it controlled 52 of the 100 seats in the Senate. Tuesday’s loss is sure to boost the influence of maverick Republican senators such as Susan Collins of Maine, who was one of three Republicans to oppose the Senate’s latest effort to repeal the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Collins has played a critical role in the current tax debate as well…

Moore would not necessarily have been a guaranteed Republican vote on anything. He railed against McConnell and establishment Republicans in the Alabama Republican primary and told Fox News in September that he wouldn’t have voted for the Republican health care plan…”

Defeat for Trump

Deutsche Welle wrote on December 13:

“The result is a blow to Trump… Jones becomes the first Democrat in a quarter of a century to win an Alabama Senate seat… A civil rights lawyer, Jones had never run for political office. He was best known for prosecuting two Ku Klux Klansmen who killed four black girls in Birmingham’s 1963 church bombing…

“The defeat of Moore, a 70-year-old controversial Christian conservative, spells trouble for US President Donald Trump and his political base, as well as shrinking the Republican majority in the Senate to 51-49, in turn making the passage of Trump’s legislative agenda on taxes, healthcare and security more problematic…

“Twice ousted as state Supreme Court chief justice… Moore was fighting [for] the seat vacated when Attorney General Jeff Sessions left to serve in Trump’s administration… Moore was removed from his position as state Supreme Court chief justice the first time after he refused to remove a boulder-sized Ten Commandments monument at the state court building. The second time he was permanently suspended was for urging state probate judges to refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples.”

Newsmax added on December 13:

“President Donald Trump said Wednesday he knew Roy Moore could never win the general election for the Senate seat from Alabama. In an early morning tweet Wednesday, Trump explained why he endorsed Sen. Luther Strange, R-Ala., over Moore in the Republican primary. ‘The reason I originally endorsed Luther Strange (and his numbers went up mightily), is that I said Roy Moore will not be able to win the General Election. I was right! Roy worked hard but the deck was stacked against him!’ In the general election, Trump endorsed Moore…”

A Day in the Life of Donald Trump

The New York Times wrote on December 9:

Around 5:30 each morning, President Trump wakes and tunes into the television in the White House’s master bedroom. He flips to CNN for news, moves to ‘Fox & Friends’ for comfort and messaging ideas, and sometimes watches MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe’ because, friends suspect, it fires him up for the day.

“Energized, infuriated — often a gumbo of both — Mr. Trump grabs his iPhone. Sometimes he tweets while propped on his pillow, according to aides. Other times he tweets from the den next door, watching another television

The ammunition for his Twitter war is television. No one touches the remote control except Mr. Trump and the technical support staff — at least that’s the rule. During meetings, the 60-inch screen mounted in the dining room may be muted, but Mr. Trump keeps an eye on scrolling headlines. What he misses he checks out later on what he calls his ‘Super TiVo,’ a state-of-the-art system that records cable news.

Watching cable, he shares thoughts with anyone in the room, even the household staff he summons via a button for lunch or for one of the dozen Diet Cokes he consumes each day.

“But he is leery of being seen as tube-glued… On his recent trip to Asia, the president was told of a list of 51 fact-checking questions for this article, including one about his prodigious television watching habits. Instead of responding through an aide, he delivered a broadside on his viewing habits to befuddled reporters from other outlets on Air Force One heading to Vietnam. ‘I do not watch much television,’ he insisted. “I know they like to say — people that don’t know me — they like to say I watch television. People with fake sources — you know, fake reporters, fake sources. But I don’t get to watch much television…’

“Mr. Trump spends at least four hours a day, and sometimes as much as twice that, in front of a television, sometimes with the volume muted, marinating in the no-holds-barred wars of cable news and eager to fire back… When the guests depart, the remote control comes back out. He is less likely to tweet at this hour, when the news he would react to is mostly recycled from hours earlier. But he watches Ms. Pirro and her fellow Fox News hosts Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, and sometimes ‘hate-watches’ CNN to get worked up, especially Don Lemon… From there it is off to bed for what usually amounts to five or six hours of sleep. Then the television will be blaring again, he will reach for his iPhone and the battle will begin anew.

Newsweek added on December 9:

“This is the same Trump who famously told reporters who asked him about Roy Moore allegations in November that he didn’t know about the allegations because he does ‘not watch much television… The truth doesn’t come as much of a surprise –– since he’s taken office, the president tweets frequently about the stories and escapades of various broadcast news corporations, often offering praise for Fox News or promoting its reports, while putting forth harsh criticism of liberal-leaning networks like CNN…”

Even before he became President, his main source of information being television was well known.

“Trump ‘Infuriated’ by Haley’s Comments on Sexual Allegations Against Him”

On December 11, Newsmax re-published the following article by the Associated Press:

“Donald Trump sailed past a raft of allegations of sexual misconduct in last year’s presidential election. Now the… spotlight is turning back to Trump and his past conduct…

“With each day seeming to bring new headlines that force men from positions of power, the movement to expose sexual harassment has forced an unwelcome conversation on the White House… But a Capitol Hill investigation into Trump’s conduct appears unlikely. The Senate and House Ethics Committees investigate members of Congress, not presidents, and Republican-led committees are not apt to investigate Trump on sexual misconduct unless there is some sort of connection to the ongoing Russia probe…

“The president’s advisers were stunned Sunday when one of the highest-ranking women in the Trump administration [Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations] broke with the White House line and said the accusers’ voices ‘should be heard.’…

Sixteen women have come forward with a range of accusations against Trump, many after the release of the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape last October in which Trump was caught on an open microphone bragging about groping women…”

Former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly interviewed four of these women on her show and stated afterward that, having practiced law for ten years, she felt that the case made against Donald Trump was credible.

Fires Continue to Rage in California

The Los Angeles Times wrote on December 14:

“Fire officials confirmed Thursday that a firefighter died while battling the Thomas fire, which ranks as the fourth-largest in the state’s modern history…

“Despite a couple of days of reduced winds and feverish efforts by firefighters to establish new containment lines, the 242,500-acre Thomas fire has surpassed the size of the Zaca fire, which scorched Santa Barbara County in 2007…

“Firefighters have taken advantage of a two-day lull in winds to increase fire containment to 30%. Those efforts could be tested soon, however, as forecasters predict a new blast of Santa Ana winds… and sundowner windsover Santa Barbara County

“In Thursday’s incident report, fire officials said they didn’t expect to reach full containment of the blaze until Jan. 7 — more than three weeks from now…

“The fire has destroyed more than 900 homes in Ventura and Santa Barbara counties since it began Dec. 4…”

Witchcraft on the Rise in the USA

CBS New York wrote on December 8:

“At a time when participation in traditional religions is declining among Americans, the practice of witchcraft is said to be on the rise… Nestled in the heart of the Hudson Valley is the Church of the Eternal Circle, the only legally recognized Wiccan Church in the state of New York… It’s estimated that as many as a million people identify as being a witch in the U.S. with 20 percent of that population said to be in New York.

“… members say witchcraft is actually grounded in love and spirituality… They say magic is simply the belief that you can make anything happen. ‘It’s kind of like prayer’… There is… a love for the goddess of creation and inspiration… A somber celebration marked the start of winter. Known as the night of souls, it’s when witches honor their ancestors…”


Acknowledgement and Disclaimer

These Current Events are compiled and commented on by Norbert Link. We gratefully acknowledge the many contributions of news articles from our readership. The publication of articles in this section is not to be viewed as an endorsement or approval as to contents or accuracy of the selected articles, but they are published for the purpose of pointing at worldwide developments in the light of biblical end-time prophecy and godly instruction. Our own comments are provided in italics.

Current Events

by Norbert Link

We begin with statements by Pope Francis regarding the wording of the “Lord’s Prayer,” as it pertains to “temptation.” In this regard, please note our new StandingWatch program, “The Lord’s Prayer—Does Pope Francis Really Want to Change It?” 

We continue with the insane increase of arms sales worldwide, and publish at the same time the dire warning of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner, stating that nuclear war is “one tiny tantrum away,” while a new report claims that the USA will lose its next war.

Focusing on the reaction to Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, we report on Czech Leader Milos Zeman, president of the only European country to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, slamming EU leaders as “cowards”; the ongoing nasty war of words between Israel’s President Netanyahu and Turkey’s President Erdogan; outbursts of Anti-Semitism across Europe; and the missing role of America in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. On the other hand, some feel that Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital will accelerate the building of the Third Temple on the Temple Mount.

We continue with speaking about the majority of Germans who trust Russia more than the USA; and Manfred Schulz who is described as a “radical European.”

We report on the EU being the new leader of the international trading system; the signing of the PESCO Defense Pact by twenty-five EU states; and a last minute Brexit “deal” which paves the way to move onto the next phase of negotiations regarding trade, defense and security.

We conclude with insightful articles about the consequences of the defeat of Republican Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate election; an average day of President Trump and numerous sexual harassment claims made against him;  and the rise of witchcraft in the USA.

Throughout this section, we have underlined pertinent statements in the quoted articles, for the convenience and quick overview of the reader.

Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

compiled by Dave Harris

A Tech Team meeting was conducted via SKYPE on last Sunday morning, December 10, 2017. Hosted by Eric Rank, special emphasis was given to discussing promo videos for booklets, live service broadcasts and a review of statistics for viewership of our webpage.

“The Lord’s Prayer—Does Pope Francis Really Want to Change It?” is the title of a new Standingwatch program, presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Also, this program is presented by Mr. Link in German: “Das Vaterunser—Will Papst Franziskus es wirklich ändern?” Here is a summary:

Pope Francis has called for a changed translation of the phrase, “Lead us not into temptation” in the Lord’s Prayer. The reaction of the Christian world is mixed. But what are media reports missing? What exactly DID Jesus mean?

A new Booklet Video, “Don’t Keep Christmas,” has been prepared by Michael Link.

“Zauberei, Hexerei, Magie und Aberglaube,” is the title of this Sabbath’s German sermon, presented by Norbert Link. Title in English: “Sorcery, Witchcraft, Magic and Superstition.”

“Delusions of Grandeur,” the sermonette presented last Sabbath by Kalon Mitchell, is now posted in audio.

“How (Not) To Be a Pharisee!” the sermon presented last Sabbath by Norbert Link, is now posted. Here is a summary:

Christ startled His disciples when He declared to them that they would not inherit the Kingdom of God if their righteousness was not to exceed the righteousness of the Pharisees.  The Pharisees were considered to be extremely righteous and law-abiding religious leaders, so how could anyone exceed their righteousness and their zeal for the law? What were the fundamental character flaws of the Pharisees? And how can we make sure that we do not fall into the same trap?

What Are the Correlations Between the Prince of Tyre and the King of Tyre, Found in Ezekiel 28?

Ezekiel 28 speaks of two individuals. The first personage is a physical human being who is described here as the “Prince of Tyre.” The second individual is the “King of Tyre.” As one reads through this chapter, one will find striking similarities between the two individuals, and some are confused about the meaning. We need to correctly understand who is being talked about; then we can start to see the types of similarities that these two individuals share; and finally, we will understand why they are important.

First of all, we should take note of chapters 26 and 27 which speak of the City of Tyre. It is referenced many times in the Bible and has played an interesting role in history. As is often the case, the Bible refers to this city as well in a dual role. The ancient city of Tyre is compared with the modern Babylonian system in Europe and the end-time city which is built on seven hills. And so we can already see the duality between the destruction of the city of Tyre and the city of Rome, and with it, the entire Babylonian system (Ezekiel 27:28-36; Revelation 18:9-21). Please read our bookletThe Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord,” specifically Part 3, entitled “Ancient and Modern ‘Tyre’ in Prophecy,” for more in depth and detailed information.

In chapter 28 and in verses 1-10, we are introduced to the Prince of Tyre.  This is not a reference to an ancient personage who was killed; but rather, the Bible reveals that this individual is an end-time man (verse 2) who will become exceedingly powerful, both in wisdom and in riches. He considers himself to be a god or God. But verses 18b-19 show us that this person will be killed and burned up in fire. He will turn to ashes. His rule will come to an end. This Prince of Tyre is then synonymous with being a ruler in the end-time Babylonian system or the European power bloc. He is also described in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 which prophecies about the man of sin who claims to be God. This fits hand in hand with the person mentioned in Ezekiel. Please read our Q&A, entitled, “Who or What Restrains or Holds Back the Manifestation of the Man of Sin?” 

This person then is the religious leader of the European Babylonian system (Revelation 17:3). We should realize that this religious leader will come to Jerusalem and rule from there with the beast power (Matthew 24:15; Daniel 8:11).  A few other names for this religious person and the religious system which he will lead include: “mystery of lawlessness” (2 Thessalonians 2:7); “lawless one” (2 Thessalonians 2:8); “the false prophet” (Revelation 19:20); the “abomination of desolation” (Matthew 24:15); “another beast” (Revelation 13:11); “the great harlot” (Revelation 17:1); “the woman” (Revelation 17:3); “MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH” (Revelation 17:5); “that great city” (Revelation 17:18); and “that mighty city” (Revelation 18:10).

The man of sin is the “Prince of Tyre”—the false prophet and the religious leader, whom Jesus Christ will destroy at His return. This man will be possessed by Satan or by extremely powerful demons to perform false signs and lying wonders.

In verses 11-18a of Ezekiel 28, another personage is described and referred to as the “King of Tyre”—no longer the “Prince of Tyre.” This individual is none other than Satan the devil—the real power behind the Prince of Tyre. Satan was originally known as Lucifer. He was perfect before God at his creation. He had immense wisdom, power and beauty. But he threw it all away by sinning. He wanted more and attempted to fight God. Lucifer who became Satan, along with fallen angels who became demons, were cast to the earth (Isaiah 14:12-15; Luke 10:18). Beginning with Ezekiel 28:18b, the Scripture reverts back to the human Prince of Tyre.

Now that we have some context, let us review the Scriptures once again and look at the similarities that these two personalities share in regard to things that they have done and will (attempt to) do.

Starting in verses 1-2 of Ezekiel 28, we see that this Prince of Tyre will exalt himself and act as if he was god; he may even think or at least proclaim that he is God (compare 2 Thessalonians 2:4). This is exactly what Satan wanted and wants—to become God and the ruler over the entire universe and the spirit realm. So just before this person will be trying to impersonate a god or God, Satan and his demons will have launched another attack on God (Revelation 12:1-13). They are both trying to accomplish the same end goal—the destruction of the God Family.

In verses 3-5 and in verse 11 of Ezekiel 28, we see that both have a type of wisdom.  When tempting Eve, Satan persuaded her with false logic and reasoning to trick her. He showed himself to be very deceptive and cunning. This type of wisdom is called out in James 3:13-16 as demonic and earthly.  The man of sin [the Prince of Tyre] is described as being wiser than Daniel (Ezekiel 28:3). Daniel was a prophet of God, who spoke and wrote down prophecy as God gave it to him, including prophecy about the end time events that will take place.

Revelation 13:11-16  shows that the false prophet will get his power from Satan and great will that power be. It may be possible that this false prophet, under the inspiration of Satan, will be able to accurately foretell the future in some instances (Deuteronomy 13:1–4; Acts 16:16–19). In 1 Samuel 28, King Saul participated in a séance, where a demon, impersonating the dead Samuel, foretold accurately the immediate future (verses 19; compare our free booklet, “Do We have an Immortal Soul?”).

Since demons are lying spirits, one would never know when they tell the truth, which would also be the case for the false prophet who will be under Satan’s influence.

Verses 16 and 18 of Ezekiel 28 speak of Satan’s abundance of trading. In fact, the first half of verse 18 points out that this trading was iniquity or sin, and verse 16 says that by “the abundance of [his] trading [he] became filled with violence within, and [he] sinned.” While the human King of Tyre “gained riches” for himself and “gathered gold and silver into [his] treasuries,” and by his “great wisdom in trade” he “increased [his] riches” (verses 4-5), the trade which Satan was engaged in did not refer to those kinds of physical treasures. While we don’t know exactly what was being traded by Satan, it is a possibility that he “traded” with the angels under his command by promising them great things, tempting and persuading them to join him in his plan of rebellion.  We know that ultimately Satan was able to draw a following of a third of the angels. This took time and effort on his part to get them to join him (Revelation 12:4).

The Prince of Tyre amasses great riches, which he acquires by his trade. This will cause great power to be able to be given to him. He also causes people to worship the beast and to accept his name and his number. This takes great beguiling and charm. As Satan was able to tempt those demons, so also will this individual be able to sway almost the entire world. Quite a powerful scene can be read about in Revelation 13:11-18.

Ultimately, the Prince of Tyre will be removed from his position of power.  Revelation 19:20 states: “Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.” This is ultimately Satan’s [temporary] exile as well. Revelation 20:10 states: “The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet [were, or had been cast into]. And they [Satan and his demons] will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

This speaks of the time after the 1,100 years of the Millennium and the Great White Throne Judgment. However, Satan and his demons will not be in that lake of fire for all eternity and without end, because that fire will be extinguished when there is nothing left to be burned, and when God will create new heavens and a new earth. Please see our Q&A, entitled, “What Does the Bible Mean when It Speaks of Eternal Concepts and Eternity?”  Please also read our Q&A, entitled, “Will Satan Deceive Man After the Millennium.” 

In both cases, the lake of fire will only be a temporary fate for the beast and the false prophet, as well as Satan and his demons. When referring to the ultimate fate of Satan and his demons, Jude 13 might give us an answer; and the lake of fire which the beast and the false prophet will be cast into at the time of Christ’s return is only a forerunner of the ultimate lake of fire, which will devour God’s adversaries in the Third Resurrection, which event will occur 1,100 years later.  The beast and the false prophet will still receive their chance for salvation in the Second Resurrection; of course, they will have to decide then whether to accept or reject God’s Way of Life.

One final comparison not found in Ezekiel 28, but rather in the book of Isaiah, is interesting when viewed from the following standpoint: Isaiah 14:3-11 speaks of the time when God will bring to pass what is pronounced in this proverb against the King of Babylon (Prince of Tyre). What is interesting to note is that this fall of the physical King of Babylon is once again intertwined with the description of the fall of Satan which we find described in verses 12–15, while the description of the fate of the human King of Babylon then continues with verse 16.

As we see the signs for end-time occurrences happening around us, we should take note of these events and be able to understand the fate of Satan and those who will be used to do his bidding. We must want NO part of sin or the system of sin that Satan has instituted and with which he enslaves the whole world.

Lead Writer: Kalon Mitchell

The Falling Away Comes First; Above and Beyond

On December 16, 2017, Norbert Link will present the sermonette, titled, “The Falling Away Comes First,” and Michael Link will present the sermon, titled, “Above and Beyond.”

The live services are available, over video and audio, at (12:30 pm Pacific Time; 1:30 pm Mountain Time; 2:30 pm Central Time; 3:30 pm Eastern Time; 8:30 pm Greenwich Mean Time; 9:30 pm Central European Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

Can You Believe It?

Well, actually, I can and I do.

During the Feast of Tabernacles just over a couple of months ago, a number of us went to see the Sachsenhausen Memorial and Museum close to Berlin, and were taken on a tour conducted by an American lady who was an expert on the Holocaust. This place was a Nazi concentration camp used primarily for political prisoners from 1936 to the end of the Third Reich in May 1945. Jews and those opposed to the Nazi regime were at the forefront of those who were killed.

The website states the following:

“Discover the brutal history of the facility that was primarily used for political prisoners but also the administrative center of the Nazi concentration camp system. Our informative guides expose the grim realities of life and death at Sachsenhausen. We will explain stories of tragedy and triumph. Explain how everyday life was in the camp, and some of the tactics used here. Although this is a very sobering and somber tour we also like to celebrate some of the strong personalities[,] survivors and victims that suffered here but whose actions bring inspiration to this day!”

It was, in fact, a very stark reminder of man’s inhumanity to man and how, it appears, people were just killed for the sake of being killed. We were told that some staff members were actually paid a bonus for killing someone.

We saw the places where they lived and the conditions and numbers would have been terrible. We saw places where they died. We saw the horrors that happen when demonic activity takes place. There is plenty of newsreel footage available to show what went on at that time and newspapers from that era confirm that such atrocities did occur. It did happen.

The website goes on to say: “Some 200,000 people were imprisoned here and subjected to systematic torture, starvation, forced labor and some of the worst living conditions. As you tour the memorial you will uncover the truths about the camp where 50,000 people were brutally murdered by the Nazi’s and 60,000 held captive until 1950 during the Soviet era. Today the Sachsenhausen Memorial stands as a reminder to the horrors of the 20th century.”

Incredibly, there are the Holocaust-deniers. Wikipedia defines this as follows: “Holocaust denial is the act of denying the genocide of Jews in the Holocaust during World War II. Holocaust denial often includes the following claims: that Nazi Germany’s Final Solution was aimed only at deporting Jews from the Reich, but that it did not include the extermination of Jews; that Nazi authorities did not use extermination camps and gas chambers to mass murder Jews; or that the actual number of Jews killed was significantly lower than the historically accepted figure of 5 to 6 million, typically around a tenth of that figure.”

Today, apart from Holocaust-deniers, we have other conspiracy theorists who believe that the moon landing was filmed in Hollywood, that the earth is flat, that there are aliens amongst us and, probably for some, that the moon is made of green cheese!

Unfortunately, I have known of Church members who seemed to be “big” on conspiracy theories.  It can become a religion all on its own and can be a dangerous distraction from the Truth that we have learned in the true Church of God.

In addition, denying that the Holocaust actually took place is divorcing oneself from reality.

Can you believe it?  Well, actually, I can and I do.   And the sobering thing is that these atrocities that were committed will again happen and, probably, in the fairly near future.  The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord will bring a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time” (Daniel 12:1).  This time will be even more barbaric than those events in the 1940’s and it will be the only way that God will be able to get the attention of rebellious mankind.

A visit to such a former concentration camp is a very sobering business and it is a reality check on how human beings can behave – and will behave again in the near future. We should pray, with increasing fervor, that we may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36).

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