|Special / They Who Overcome the World
|Prophetic Predictions for 2023
|This Week in the News
|Is the New Testament Divinely Inspired? – Part 2
|Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
Special / They Who Overcome the World
On January 7, 2023, Eric Rank will present the sermonette, titled, “Special,” and Dave Harris will present the sermon, titled, “They Who Overcome the World.”
The live services are available, over video and audio, at http://eternalgod.org/live-services/ (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.
Prophetic Predictions for 2023
by Norbert Link
When considering all that happened in 2022, one can hardly believe that it could even get much worse in 2023. But it surely will. At the same time, we must be careful with premature predictions, only because we would love them to happen so that the return of Jesus Christ can occur sooner rather than later.
In its article of December 31, 2022, Politico listed numerous false predictions which were made in 2022, including that Russia would NOT invade the Ukraine; that there would be a strong defeat of the Democratic Party during midterm elections through a “red wave” or even a “red tsunami”; that a federal indictment of Donald Trump in 2022 was imminent; and the most outrageous one of them all, that “gas prices in the U.S. will average $2.88 per gallon in 2022.” This false and preposterous statement, divorced from any reality, was made by the U.S. Energy Information Administration on December 7, 2021.
Politico listed three main reasons for false predictions: (1) You might misread events “because you missed something that proved important”; (2) you engage in “wishcasting” by basing a prediction less on a sober reading of what is likely to happen than on what you’d personally like to happen; and (3) even though you are aware that what you’re publicly predicting is quite unlikely, but are in a position of leadership and feel the need to project confidence, lest your supporters lose enthusiasm. In regard to this last reason for false predictions, Politico quoted Nancy Pelosi proclaiming in October that Democrats would not only hold the House, but expand their majority.
These cautionary remarks are not limited to political predictions. They apply to religious predictions too. To make those predictions are tempting, and we all have had our share of doing them. The reason being, we know the general framework of events which are prophesied to happen, but we may not know the exact timing or the identity of individuals who would fulfill certain prophesied events. However, in our desire to see prophetic events occur, we may prematurely declare what we expect to happen.
I dare to say that true ministers of God do not make any prediction which they know is false. They are sincere, but they might be sincerely mistaken. Think of the many times when we felt strongly that Christ would come back in a particular year. We looked at events which seemed to convince us of a certain conclusion, looking at the parable of the fig tree, but the predicted year came and went, and Christ had still not returned. It should not have surprised us when considering that not even the Son of God knows the time of His return.
Or think of the times when we were just about certain as to who the beast had to be. Some of these candidates have died in the meantime; others are still alive, but it does not seem that many of them would qualify for that prophesied “position.” When the beast manifests himself on the world scene, God’s people will know… but not necessarily before then.
Now, former Pope Benedict XVI has died. He had become the first pope, in 2013, to resign since Gregory XII in 1415. As BBC News wrote, “there had been speculation that Pope Francis, who himself has been suffering ill health, had been contemplating stepping down, but was reluctant to do so if it meant there would be three popes in Rome.” Now, predictions are being made that Pope Francis will resign as well, and another pope will take his place. Surely, so the predictions go, this pope must be the last one. To add to this, “prophecies” by Nostradamus are being circulated claiming that 2023 will witness the resignation of the current pope and the arrival of a bad pope or a kind of “antichrist.”
Other “prophets” have declared that the last pope will be black and adopt the name of Peter. We need to be careful not to jump on these “predictions.” First of all, Nostradamus’ proclamations were extremely vague and many times wrong. Furthermore, Nostradamus and other “prophets” were in no way godly inspired; if there was any inspiration, it would have been Satanic. And demons, even though they might know the future, are lying spirits—one can never be sure when they lie or when they, on occasion, tell the truth.
What God’s Church needs to do is watch. In due time, God’s people will understand exactly when and how prophesied events will unfold, and who the key players are. God might also give some of His servants special insight into prophetic events and details, which might not be specifically mentioned in Scripture, but which would be in line with prophecies contained in the Bible (Compare Amos 3:7-8; Isaiah 44:26; Revelation 19:10). But we must wait for God, and don’t act hastily and fall into the trap of prematurely proclaiming what is going to happen, let’s say in 2023, even though the Bible may be less than clear on a given point. It is not wrong to speculate, in light of biblical prophecy, but it is important to emphasize that it is speculation, and nothing more.
As some of you will recall, I was certain that Donald Trump would be reelected and occupy the White House in 2020, and I said so publicly. I should not have done that because even though all indications pointed to that outcome, events occurred which were unexpected. I did not foresee the strong possibility of a rigged election; the involvement of the FBI and the mass media to suppress the truth about the Hunter Biden laptop scandal which, if it had been released, would most certainly have prevented Joe Biden from becoming elected, and some other factors. But this shows that unexpected developments can alter what seems to be so clear and certain.
On December 29, Newsmax published the following article by Dick Morris, former presidential adviser to Bill Clinton for 20 years, and political strategist:
“Two serendipitous things happened and just dumped into Trump’s lap issues that will make him president again. First, the Twitter Files exposé is one of the most shocking examples of government censorship and collusion with the FBI and Big Media ever. Second, there’s the big spending, budget-busting omnibus bill Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., backed, effectively castrating the new Republican House majority… So Donald Trump has two great issues to ride: free speech and fighting McConnell… This is Donald Trump’s fight — one he’ll win, and with it, the White House in 2024.”
This sounds pretty persuasive, but let us not forget that some of Dick Morris’ past predictions turned out to be awfully wrong. He predicted that Mitt Romney would win the 2012 election in a “landslide”; that Hillary Clinton would win against Barack Obama in 2008; and that Obama would not run again in 2012. When it comes to Trump’s predicted victory in 2024, we just need to wait and see.
One thing is certain. God cannot lie. He has told us in general and specific terms what IS going to happen… but He did not tell us the exact time or specifically and in detail, how certain events would come to pass. And don’t forget, God can delay and accelerate prophesied events. The wisest course of action for anyone is this: Live as if you had your entire life still ahead of you, and live as if the end of your life and the end of the world were to occur tonight. And don’t waste too much time with studying and uttering “predictions” for 2023 which may or may not come to pass.
by Norbert Link
When we thought we had finally heard enough about COVID restrictions and other worldwide “pandemics,” here we go again. In this issue, we are publishing four articles dealing with or touching upon related developments.
We also report on the most recent violence in Germany; the debacle of Germany’s Defense Minister; and we take some time reporting on interesting news and opinions regarding Donald Trump, including his fight for the presidency in 2024; the publication of his tax returns for the years of 2015 until 2020; Trump’s highly controversial statements about pro-life Republicans; and the unique and unprecedented challenges which Attorney General Merrick Garland is facing.
We continue with the precarious situation Israel finds itself in, including Jordan’s warning; Ben Gvir’s visit to the Temple Mount; attempts by the UN and Europe to fight and isolate Israel; and Israel’s strike of Syria’s airport in Damascus.
We point out worldwide financial losses in stocks and bonds in 2022; and report on Brazil’s current grim economic situation under its new left-wing leadership.
We conclude with the death of former Pope Benedict XVI who was praised by some while others spoke of him as a controversial figure and a lightning rod. In this regard, please view our new StandingWatch program, titled “Is There Prophetic Meaning to the Death of Pope Benedict?”
This Week in the News
COVID Restrictions… Here We Go Again!!!
Deutsche Welle wrote on December 30:
“The United Kingdom and France are set to require negative COVID-19 tests for travelers arriving from China… Travelers on airplanes arriving from France will have to wear masks… Spain, South Korea and Israel announced earlier Friday they would introduce COVID test requirements for Chinese travelers too. Malaysia on Friday [said] it would screen all international arrivals from China for fever as well.
“China is easing travel restrictions that it had since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic despite a surge in cases. Beijing’s move prompted the US, Italy, Japan and other countries to impose checks on arrivals from China…
“Italy has called for EU-wide checks, but the bloc’s health agency said it saw such measures as unjustified arguing that the situation in China was unlikely to affect Europe with its high levels of immunization.
“China had said it would no longer release an official daily COVID death toll. The country also stopped mass testing and reporting asymptomatic cases, sparking concerns that the official data is likely not an accurate representation of the situation…
“Chinese state media… have criticized the growing number of countries requiring negative COVID tests from travelers from China… Global Times called the restrictions ‘unfounded’ and ‘discriminatory.’
“Until now, China has required all passengers arriving from abroad, including Chinese nationals, to quarantine for five days at a hotel, followed by three days at home. The country of 1.4 billion people reported on Thursday one death linked to the coronavirus. But a UK-based health data firm, Airfinity, estimated around 9,000 people in China were likely dying each day of COVID.”
Express added on December 30:
“UK arrivals from China will have to provide a negative Covid test before they can enter the country from next week… the policy change will come into effect from January 5… In addition to the negative test requirement, the UK Health Security Agency… will also launch surveillance from January 8. This will see a sample of passengers arriving from China tested for the virus in a bid to monitor the development of any new variants.”
It is feared that these developments, true or not, may cause governments around the world to reinstitute sweeping coronavirus restrictions.
“What Went Well in Germany in 2022”—Really?
Deutsche Welle wrote on December 30:
“Among the steady stream of bleak news of war, crisis and recession, news of positive developments almost got sidetracked this year. Here’s what Germany can look back at.
“Since the beginning of Russia’s war against Ukraine, millions of people have fled Ukraine, many of them to Germany. The Central Register of Foreigners listed about 1 million Ukrainian refugees by the end of October. People in Germany were immensely willing to help… The willingness to help has dropped off somewhat since the war started in February, but it was still at a high level months later…
“Germany’s major DAX companies are looking at a pretty good year… Mercedes, Volkswagen and Siemens were listed as the companies with the biggest profits. Anyone who might have expected a slump in business was wrong, said Henrik Ahlers of EY. ‘Sales and profits are rising, and business is booming for the majority of DAX companies,’ he added…
“Christian Drosten, Germany’s preeminent virologist, said we have reached the end of the coronavirus pandemic. Immunity in the population will be so widespread and resilient after this winter that the virus will hardly be able to spread in the summer, the head of virology at Berlin’s Charite hospital said…”
Realistically, there are not too many positive developments, and even those which are quoted in this article are subject to interpretation. The arrival of many Ukrainian refugees has also been described as a problem for Germany; the success of German companies does not match the misery of the average German customer; and the “end of the coronavirus pandemic” has now been questioned due to the latest resurgence of restrictions due to alleged developments in China. Regarding refugees and immigration, note the next article.
Violence in Germany
Breitbart wrote on January 4:
“Young migrants were allegedly involved in much of the violence across the country [of Germany] on New Year’s Eve, according to local witnesses, police and firefighters, with one incident seeing a man with an Albanian flag fire a flare gun at a police vehicle.
“Although it has taken until now for more solid information about the nature of the violence to emerge, even at the time Germany’s Bild hinted at the circumstances when it reported on New Year’s Day that the violence in Berlin had been concentrated in migrant ‘hot spot’ neighbourhoods. Now Die Welt reports 18 nationalities were arrested on the night, with just 45 of 145 arrested holding German citizenship. The largest groups otherwise of those arrested include Afghans and Syrians, the report said.
“German journalist Frank Schneider lamented the trend for delaying or suppressing the reporting of the influence of immigration in crime in an opinion article for the tabloid Bild, stating that ‘Politicians prefer to call for a general ban on firecrackers than to clearly name the perpetrators. No outcry from the upright in defence of the rule of law. People are afraid of being considered racist.’
“According to Schneider, police and government officials are afraid to acknowledge the links between migration and the violence on New Year’s Eve due to such rhetoric being used by populist politicians and political parties. ‘Citizens are noticing that more and more is slipping. In times of growing economic problems, it is extremely dangerous if there is also the feeling that certain problems are deliberately concealed. Or played down,’ he wrote.”
The Debacle of German Minister of Defense Lambrecht
bobrtimes wrote on January 2:
“Already weakened by blunders, the German Minister of Defense, Christine Lambrecht, was again criticized on Monday after the broadcast of her wishes [in a video].
“The video is only a minute long, but was deemed so unsuccessful that the social-democratic minister is again targeted by calls for [her] resignation… ‘A war is raging in the middle of Europe. I was able to draw many particular impressions from it’, … the minister [said] about the Russian invasion, evoking ‘many, many meetings with interesting and formidable people’. ‘For that, I say a big thank you.’
“‘Doubts about her suitability for this position have been around for a long time. It is now time for the Chancellor to draw the consequences’, lambasted the Berlin daily Tagesspiegel on Monday. ‘The New Year’s speech recorded by mobile phone and barely comprehensible due to firework flares and the absence of a microphone on a Berlin sidewalk would already have been embarrassing for a volunteer village mayor – for a Minister of Defense and a member of NATO, it is simply shameful,’ complains Bild, the country’s most read daily…
“The minister accumulated disappointments in 2022, regularly attracting ridicule and criticism, such as when she announced the sending of thousands of helmets to Ukrainians who were instead expecting deliveries of heavy weapons from Germany. Ms. Lambrecht also embodied, in the eyes of the Ukrainian regime, but also of the Germans, the shortcomings of an army whose equipment is obsolete. In mid-December, Berlin thus had to suspend new orders for Puma armored vehicles after a series of breakdowns affecting armored vehicles already in use by the army…
“For the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, the minister’s repeated errors ‘constitute a huge [liability]’ for an army that is supposed to modernize and regain strategic importance in times of war.”
Germany is plagued by one debacle after the other.
Do COVID Vaccinations Cause Sickness?
The Wall Street Journal wrote on January 1:
“Public-health experts are sounding the alarm about a new Omicron variant dubbed XBB that is rapidly spreading across the Northeast U.S. Some studies suggest it is as different from the original Covid strain from Wuhan as the 2003 SARS virus. Should Americans be worried?
“It isn’t clear that XBB is any more lethal than other variants, but its mutations enable it to evade antibodies from prior infection and vaccines as well as existing monoclonal antibody treatments. Growing evidence also suggests that repeated vaccinations may make people more susceptible to XBB and could be fueling the virus’s rapid evolution.”
California’s New Crazy (and Dangerous) Laws
Breitbart wrote on January 1:
“California will see several radical laws go into effect on Sunday, January 1…The ‘COVID Misinformation’ law… requires California’s medical licensing boards to take disciplinary action against doctors who are involved with the dissemination of misinformation or disinformation related to… ‘COVID-19’. The law does not take into account the fact that authorities like Dr. Anthony Fauci changed their recommendations over time…
“The ‘Freedom to Walk Act’ presumes that jaywalking is a racist crime because it is supposedly enforced unevenly — by the nation’s most left-wing state — in ‘communities of color’ where people supposedly cannot afford to pay the fines…
“[Another] law attempts to expand access to abortion by allowing qualified nurses to perform certain abortion procedures in the first trimester of pregnancy without the supervision of a doctor. This new law will take effect alongside a new provision in the California constitution, passed by a referendum in 2022, guaranteeing the right to abortion and contraception…
“Newsom has signed several other radical laws that go into effect in future years. He is currently thought to be mulling a run for president, and is establishing a national reputation as a left-wing leader on cultural issues.”
In regard to the “COVID Misinformation” law, Twitter and many other outlets determined what was “misinformation” and as a consequence, censored and banned articles and statements which turned out to be absolutely correct. California is now going much further by REQUIRING medical licensing boards to take disciplinary action regarding statements which THEY determine to be misinformation… even though, as the past has shown, those doctors making such statements might be absolutely correct. This is indeed a terrible development, endangering once again freedom of speech and potentially suppressing the TRUTH, while catering to Big Pharma and doctors acting on their behest, including for fear that they otherwise might be disciplined.
A Simulation of the Next Plandemic?
Rumble published the following article by Clayton Morris, a former Fox News anchor, on December 26:
“Bill Gates and the WHO have ran a simulation of the next plandemic, coming soon to a government near you in 2025.
“Coincidentally, a video of Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), back in January 2017, warned members of the incoming Trump administration about the inevitability of a ‘surprise outbreak’ of a new disease. He said at the time that the United States needed to do more to prepare… According to Forbes magazine: ‘In 2014, President Barack Obama’s Administration enacted a federal funding pause for what was termed “gain-of-function” research.’
“It turns out, through waivers and pause exemptions, Anthony Fauci’s institute was funding many of the very scientists doing the potentially risky virus, bio-weapons research. Anthony Fauci’s NIAID quietly restarted funding, with guidance, for what was then termed ‘enhanced potential pandemic pathogens.’ News of the funding restart surprised many in the scientific community.
“The Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation conducted another plandemic tabletop exercise in Brussels, Belgium, on October 23, 2022. The phenomenon is dubbed SEERS, Severe Epidemic Enterovirus Respiratory Syndrome 2025.”
“Trump Just Won the ’24 Election”
On December 29, Newsmax published the following article by Dick Morris, former presidential adviser to Bill Clinton for 20 years, and political strategist:
“Two serendipitous things happened and just dumped into Trump’s lap issues that will make him president again.
“First, the Twitter Files exposé is one of the most shocking examples of government censorship and collusion with the FBI and Big Media ever.
“Second, there’s the big spending, budget-busting omnibus bill Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., backed, effectively castrating the new Republican House majority… So Donald Trump has two great issues to ride: free speech and fighting McConnell…
“The Twitter-FBI censorship issue gives Trump the unique status of victim-in-chief… When the FBI and Twitter suppressed and discredited evidence from Hunter’s laptop — in a direct effort to sway the 2020 election — this was one of the most dangerous governmental efforts to interfere in an election ever… Had this information been shared widely by the media just weeks before the 2020 election, there is no way Biden could have won…
“While many admire DeSantis, I believe he has no role to play in this war against Big Tech/Big Media and the Swamp. This is Donald Trump’s fight — one he’ll win, and with it, the White House in 2024.”
Please read this week’s Editorial in regard to this article.
Trump’s Tax Returns Made Public
Breitbart wrote on December 30:
“Democrats in control of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee released six years of former President Donald Trump’s tax returns on Friday, an unprecedented intrusion that revealed nothing in particular. The release marked the first time Congress had ever obtained and published the tax returns of any individual.
“… Trump resisted the committee’s efforts in the courts, until finally losing at the Supreme Court, which allowed the Committee to compel the IRS to turn over the tax returns of Trump, now a private citizen.
“The House Ways and Means Committee released the returns just days before Democrats formally lose their majority in the House of Representatives — and, with it, majority control of the various House committees. The six years of newly-released returns, covering the years 2015 through 2020, show that Trump paid a total of $4.4 million in federal income taxes over that period, with an adjusted gross income of -$53.2 million…
“… there appeared to be few bombshells. In a statement on Truth Social, his social media platform, the former president said the returns showed ‘how proudly successful I have been’ and warned that ‘the Democrats should never have done it.’ Republicans echoed the latter sentiment, saying the release of the tax returns seemed to have a purely political motive, and opened the door for Republicans to do the same in future.”
There can be no doubt that Democrats acted because of a purely political motive.
CNN published the following opinion piece on December 30:
“… we have long known the basic story. Trump is a bad businessman who seems to lose money on everything from casinos to golf clubs, with steaks and vodka and even a so-called university in between. So the main reason he often pays so little, if any, in taxes, is that he often reports a loss. He also lost other people’s money and got big tax breaks for that.
“Trump has benefitted from the huge head start given to him by his father Fred Trump, which continued to pay dividends with large capital gains from the sale of inherited property in 2018 (leading to Trump paying some taxes that year – just under $1 million)… Friday’s release has already shown, for example, that Trump did not donate his presidential salary to charities in 2020, as he had promised – he made no charitable gifts at all in 2020, when he paid no taxes…
“Given his massive and mysterious income tax refund of nearly $73 million in 2010, Trump may not have paid net positive income taxes in his life. And he is not alone. Many billionaires pay no income tax, and many do so perfectly legally.”
Obviously, something is terribly wrong with our tax system, and the employment of hundreds of IRS agents will only acerbate the problem by going mainly after the average hard-working tax-paying American citizen.
Trump Blames Pro-Life Republicans for Midterm Loss
Fox News wrote on January 2, 2023:
“Trump faced heavy criticism following midterm elections after Trump-endorsed candidates lost key close races across the country. Many commentators argued Trump had forced the party to put up bad candidates, but Trump now argues it was the fault of staunchly pro-life Republicans… ‘It was the “abortion issue,” poorly handled by many Republicans, especially those that firmly insisted on No Exceptions, even in the case of rape, incest or life of the mother, that lost large numbers of voters.’…
“Trump’s attack on pro-life voters comes as support for his 2024 presidential run has plummeted in the polls. Prior to the midterms, Trump was the overwhelming favorite to be the Republican nominee, regularly winning primary polls with upward of 50% of the vote. Support has surged for Trump’s perceived rivals since the midterm losses of his handpicked candidates like Herschel Walker in Georgia, Kari Lake in Arizona and Dr. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania.
“A Wall Street Journal poll of Republican primary voters found last month that Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis leads Trump by double digits for the GOP nomination.”
Abortion for any reason is murder in the eyes of God. To allow for “exceptions” in order to gain more votes is shameful and appalling. One should not forget that Trump was a pro-choice supporter at one time. His remarks now bring back sad memories and pose the question as to what Trump is really convinced of.
AG Garland’s Unique Challenge
The Hill published the following opinion piece on January 2:
“[Attorney General] Merrick Garland will face two unprecedented scenarios: He could become the first attorney general in American history to indict a former president, as well as the first attorney general to be impeached by Congress.
“For months, Garland has faced the unenviable prospect of having to eventually decide whether or not to prosecute Donald Trump. There are two ongoing federal investigations into the former president: One involving his possible mishandling of classified documents and presidential records, and the other concerning his role in the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol…
“Seeking political insulation, the attorney general appointed an independent special counsel, Jack Smith, to handle the DOJ’s active investigations into Trump after he announced his intention to seek the presidency again in 2024. But regardless of what Smith recommends, Garland will have the ultimate say in bringing an indictment, as the attorney general has the full power to override a special counsel’s recommendation.
“Appointing a special counsel does not offer Garland any real degree of political absolution, and he will personally bear the consequences of the department’s eventual decision…
“That being said, we cannot ignore this reality: An opposing party bringing criminal charges against a former president — who is again running for office — would set a dangerous and divisive precedent in the United States, and could turn the justice department into a perpetual political weapon… an indictment could embolden far more nefarious actors in the future to prosecute their political opponents with much less evidence of criminality.
“It is not an exaggeration to suggest that this could trigger a constitutional crisis, a civil war — or both…
“As damaging as an indictment would be to the country, an even greater threat to the republic would be if Garland makes the decision not to prosecute Trump if there is clear and unequivocal evidence that he committed a serious federal crime or multiple. That could jeopardize America’s endurance, stability and place in the world…
“But there is no denying that Merrick Garland, as the chief law enforcement officer in the United States, will face an unprecedented set of challenges in ultimately determining where that line is.”
It will be interesting to see what Garland is going to do.
Jordan Ready for Conflict With Israel
Israel 365 News wrote on December 29:
“Jordanian King Abdullah II on Wednesday said he was ready for a conflict should Israel’s incoming government violate ‘red lines’ by changing the status quo governing relations at Jerusalem’s holy sites… Jordan has since 1967 been the custodian of holy sites in the Israeli capital’s Old City, including the Al Aqsa Mosque that sits atop the Temple Mount, Judaism’s most sacred place.
“While Muslims are allowed to freely visit and worship at the mosque, Jews are severely restricted from accessing the site where two biblical temples stood and are banned from praying there, although the latter stringency has been relaxed in recent years.
“Abdullah also warned that the Palestinians could launch another terror war. ‘We have to be concerned about a next intifada,’ he said, adding: ‘If that happens, that’s a complete breakdown of law and order and one that neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians will benefit from…’
“A spokesman for Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday said the incoming Israeli government’s policy agenda constituted a ‘dangerous escalation.’ Nabil Abu Rudeineh issued a veiled warning that there would be ongoing violence unless a Palestinian state was created…”
The Middle East will never experience peace prior to Christ’s return.
Ben Gvir’s Visit to the Temple Mount
The Times of Israel wrote on January 2:
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir on Monday about the latter’s stated intention to visit the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, which has drawn condemnations from the opposition and threats from the Gaza-ruling Hamas terror group.
“The content of the conversation was not made public, but Hebrew media reports indicated that the two agreed that Ben Gvir would hold off on visiting the flashpoint site. A statement issued by Ben Gvir’s office said he would visit the Temple Mount as a minister ‘in the upcoming weeks,’ and not this week as reportedly planned.
“Unnamed associates of Ben Gvir who were cited by the Walla news site said the prime minister did not ask him to nix the visit altogether. According to the Ynet news site, Ben Gvir told Netanyahu, ‘We mustn’t cave to Hamas,’ after the terror group warned against the visit [stating it] would ‘blow up the situation.’”
Ben Gvir had announced that he intended to visit the Temple Mount on Tuesday, January 3, which is the tenth day of Tevet, a fast day commemorating the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar that led to the destruction of the Temple. However, Ben Gvir went ahead with his original plan. Note the next article.
Ben Gvir Did Go Ahead With His Visit on Tuesday!
Deutsche Welle wrote on January 3:
“Israel’s new national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, on Tuesday visited a Jerusalem flashpoint holy site known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. ‘The Temple Mount is open to all,’ the ultranationalist politician said afterward on Twitter…
“Ben-Gvir previously stated his intent to visit the site. This drew threats from the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas. The group runs Gaza and is recognized as a terrorist organization by the German government, the EU, the US and some Arab states… ‘Itamar Ben-Gvir must not go up to Temple Mount,’ opposition leader and former Prime Minister Yair Lapid was quoted as saying… ‘It is a deliberate provocation that will put lives in danger and cost lives.’
“The paper reported earlier that Ben-Gvir had agreed to hold off on the visit after speaking with Netanyahu later that day. However, on Tuesday, Ben-Gvir went ahead with the visit, saying that the Israeli government ‘will not surrender to the threats of Hamas.’
“The Palestinian Authority’s Foreign Ministry said it ‘strongly condemns the storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque by the extremist minister Ben-Gvir and views it as unprecedented provocation and a dangerous escalation of the conflict.’… Jordan, which acts as custodian of the contested shrine, condemned Ben-Gvir’s visit ‘in the strongest terms.’’
“Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt also condemned what they described as the ‘storming’ of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.”
Storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound? Ridiculous, but it shows the unified hate by Arabs towards Israel.
BBC News reported on January 3:
“Jordan… summoned Israel’s ambassador in protest… Mr Ben-Gvir sent a message of defiance to Hamas, declaring: ‘No Israeli government that I’m a member of is going to bow to a despicable and murderous terror organisation… and if Hamas thinks that I’ll be deterred by its threats, it needs to accept that times have changed and that there’s a government in Jerusalem.’”
It is somewhat unclear whether Netanyahu ultimately gave his approval for the visit.
UN and EU vs. Israel
Israel 365 News reported on January 1, 2023:
“Israel’s prime minister on Saturday described as ‘disgraceful’ a United Nations General Assembly resolution calling on the International Court of Justice to render an opinion on the legal status of Judea and Samaria. ‘Just like the hundreds of distorted U.N. General Assembly resolutions against Israel over the years, today’s disgraceful resolution will not obligate the government of Israel,’ Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. ‘The Jewish people is not occupying its land and is not occupying its eternal capital Jerusalem. No U.N. resolution can distort this historical truth,’ he added…
“Prof. Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor, told JNS that the UNGA resolution ‘represents another stage in the political war against Israel, based on the cynical use of U.N. and international legal bodies.’ Behind the scenes, he said, ‘There is a network of European-funded NGOs who are driving the absurd campaign to isolate Israel as South Africa was under apartheid, and eventually seek the prosecution of Israeli officials at the International Criminal Court.’”
Israel Strikes Syrian Airport
The New York Post wrote on January 2, 2023:
“Israel’s military fired missiles toward the international airport of Syria’s capital [Damascus] early Monday, putting it out of service and killing two soldiers and wounding two others, the Syrian army said…
“Israel has targeted airports and ports in government-held parts of Syria in an apparent attempt to prevent arms shipments from Iran to militant groups backed by Tehran, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah…
“Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes on targets inside government-controlled parts of Syria in recent years, but rarely acknowledges or discusses such operations. Israel has acknowledged, however, that it targets bases of Iran-allied militant groups, such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah, which has sent thousands of fighters to support Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces…
“Israel says an Iranian presence on its northern frontier is a red line that justifies its strikes on facilities and weapons inside Syria.”
For further information on the future of Syria and the city of Damascus, read our free booklet, “Middle Eastern and African Nations in Bible Prophecy”
The Financial Times wrote on December 30:
“Global stocks and bonds lost more than $30tn for 2022 after inflation, interest rate rises and the war in Ukraine triggered the heaviest losses in asset markets since the global financial crisis [in 2008]… with shares from Wall Street to Shanghai and Frankfurt all notching up significant falls… The market value of companies traded across all global stock exchanges tumbled by $25tn…”
CNBC added on December 30:
“Friday marked the final day of trading in what has been a painful year for stocks. All three of the major averages suffered their worst year since 2008… As the calendar turns to a new year, some investors think the pain is far from over. They expect the bear market to persist until a recession hits or the Fed pivots [that is, until the Fed completely changes its way which, sadly, cannot be expected]. Some also project stocks will hit new lows…”
The Bible speaks of perilous or “expensive” times which will confront us in the last days.
Brazil’s Current Economic Outlook
Aljazeera wrote on January 1:
“Compared with [Brazil’s new President] Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s [known as Lula’s] first two terms in office, from 2003-2010, the current economic outlook is gloomy. Inflation is hovering at 6 percent despite the central bank’s decision to raise interest rates to 13.75 percent in August, extending an 18-month tightening cycle.
“High borrowing costs look set to constrain investment and consumption, just as concerns over an impending global recession have started to undercut commodity markets…
“Today, the country’s debt-to-GDP ratio is almost 90 percent…
“The upshot is that Lula will not be able to ride on the coattails of a 2000s-era growth spurt. He is also facing growing pressure to de-carbonise Brazil’s growth model and to reassert greater government control over Petrobras, the state-backed energy company. In short, he faces enormous challenges.”
It was suggested that left-wing “socialist” Lula may be forced to move more towards center, which would anger left-wing supporters.
Death of Former Pope Benedict XVI
BBC News wrote on December 31:
“He led the Catholic Church for fewer than eight years until, in 2013, he became the first Pope to resign since Gregory XII in 1415… Joe Biden – only the second Catholic to serve as US president – said Pope Benedict ‘will be remembered as a renowned theologian, with a lifetime of devotion to the Church, guided by his principles and faith’…
“Russian President Vladimir Putin praised Pope Benedict as a ‘defender of traditional Christian values,’ in his New Year address to the nation…
“In recent years… the Pope Emeritus became something of a lightning rod for some opposed to the new Pope. There had been speculation that Pope Francis, who himself has been suffering ill health, had been contemplating stepping down, but was reluctant to do so if it meant there would be three popes in Rome…
“Born Joseph Ratzinger in Germany, Benedict was 78 when in 2005 he became one of the oldest popes ever elected. For much of his papacy, the Catholic Church faced allegations, legal claims and official reports into decades of child abuse by priests….”
The Daily Mail added on December 31:
“He was elected pope on April 19, 2005 to succeed the widely popular Pope John Paul II, who reigned for 27 years… The first German pope in 1,000 years, Benedict himself acknowledged that he was a weak administrator…”
Now, After Benedict’s Death…
The Wall Street Journal wrote on January 4:
“Pope Francis has been the leader of the Catholic Church for almost 10 years, but he has been the only pope in the Vatican just since Saturday.
“The death of Pope Benedict XVI after a decade in retirement has ended an extraordinary arrangement that helped define the current pontificate. While Francis has already taken a markedly different tack than his predecessor, he may feel even freer to do so now…
“According to Cardinal Joseph Zen, a former bishop of Hong Kong… Pope Benedict was a restraining influence on Pope Francis on more than one occasion. In particular, he cites the decision by Pope Francis in 2020 not to make it easier to ordain married men as priests… ‘a Pope Emeritus, like every bishop and cardinal as long as he has breath and is of sound mind, must fulfill his duty as Successor of the Apostles to defend the sound tradition of the Church,’ Cardinal Zen wrote on his personal website on Tuesday…
“Already, one of the late pope’s closest confidants [Archbishop Georg Gänswein] has confirmed that Benedict privately disapproved of Francis’ 2021 decision to impose restrictions on the use of the traditional Latin Mass, which largely undid Benedict’s lifting of restrictions in 2007.”
Benedict—a Highly Controversial Figure
AFP wrote on December 31:
“He had previously served as the Church’s chief doctrinal enforcer, earning the nickname ‘God’s Rottweiler’ [“Panzerkardinal”] and a reputation as a generally conservative thinker on theological issues…
“He made waves during a 2009 trip to the Holy Land, where he called for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“He… staunchly defended traditional Catholic teaching [against] abortion, euthanasia and gay marriage. Benedict rejected the ordination of women and marriage for priests and described same-sex relationships as destroying the essence of the human creature, drawing criticism for making the Church look out of touch.
“He angered the Muslim world with a speech in 2006 in which he appeared to endorse the view that Islam is inherently violent, sparking deadly protests in several countries as well as attacks on Christians. In 2009, he offended Jews by lifting the excommunication of a Holocaust-denying bishop…
“AIDS activists were angered when, on a trip to Africa, Benedict said condom use could be aggravating the crisis. However, he later became the first pope to sanction their use under certain circumstances to prevent HIV infection.
“… he failed to stamp his authority on the Curia, the Church’s governing body, and also appeared to have lost control of his household. In 2012, his butler Paolo Gabriele leaked secret papers to the media, an act of betrayal which profoundly saddened the pontiff. His papacy was also marred by a money-laundering scandal at the Vatican bank, which exposed infighting among Benedict’s closest allies.”
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.
Is the New Testament Divinely Inspired? – Part 2
In the first instalment of this two-part series, we looked at quite a number of Scriptures that clearly show that the New Testament writings were considered part of God’s Word by those disciples living in the New Testament, and that God had approved their writings.
It could be said by critics that the New Testament writers were making grandiose claims personally by reflecting that their words carried the approval of God as part of the inspiration of the written Word of God.
However, two arguments countering that claim are as follows:
- We believe that God inspired the whole of the Bible which includes both the Old and New Testaments, and
- The consistency of the whole of the Bible. We read on the website “scripturesubjects” the following: “The Bible was written over a span of 1,500 years by 40 authors living on three continents speaking three different languages with diverse educational and cultural backgrounds—yet it reads as one cohesive story from Genesis through Revelation. All 66 books of the Bible [in the way English Bibles order and count those books] are perfectly harmonious and consistent in their message, especially when answering and addressing life’s essential questions, ‘Where did we come from, and why are we here? Do we have a purpose? Does God exist, and if so, what is He like? Why is there suffering, evil, and trouble in the world? Is there life after death, and if so, where do we go and why?’
“If a survey were taken of twenty people from the same generation with similar backgrounds asking them these crucial questions, their responses would be diverse. Yet, the biblical writers’ content and doctrines are entirely coherent and congruent, fitting together within a logical framework. This fact is one powerful evidence of its divine origin.”
Therefore, it is entirely correct to embrace ALL Scripture, both Old Testament and New Testament, as approved by the great Creator God, given mercifully for our learning and understanding which leads to eternal life for all those called into His Church at this time and in previous generations, and for others to be given that same opportunity at a later time.
In our booklet “The Authority of the Bible” we read the following on pages 28 and 29 under the heading “The True Author and Preserver”:
“Beyond the rather blurry record that marks the transition of the early Christian faith into history’s background and the subsequent emergence of the Roman Catholic Church, another factor supersedes in accounting for WHO preserved the New Testament. The real AUTHOR of the inspired writings of the New Testament has also sustained His written Word throughout the ages. The proof of this statement is found in the words of Jesus Christ, when He said, ‘Sanctify them [set them apart] by Your truth, Your word is truth’ (John 17:17); and, ‘Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away’ (Matthew 24:35; also, compare parallel statements in 1 Peter 1:23, 25).
“These Scriptures, along with many others, point to the fact that the New Testament record would be preserved. Another quote from Jesus shows that His teachings would come before all men in all generations: ‘He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day’ (John 12:48).
“Consider one final answer as to who preserved the New Testament. The teachings of Christianity became a way of life for those who embraced what they learned! Note this statement by Paul: ‘For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe’ (1 Thessalonians 2:13; also, compare a parallel statement in 1 John 2:5).
“By taking to heart their calling to salvation, the faithful ones of countless generations have helped sustain and preserve a true understanding of the written Word of God. That same responsibility now falls upon us. We, too, must endeavor to uphold the teachings we have been given, just as those before us helped preserve the New Testament: ‘I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, HAVE KEPT MY WORD, and have not denied My name’ (Revelation 3:8).”
We further read in this booklet the following on pages 34-35 under the heading “God’s Word Endures Forever”:
“Jesus Christ Himself promised that God would ensure that His Word would be preserved for all eternity. He said in Matthew 5:18: ‘… one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.’
“Peter explained that ‘the word of the LORD endures forever’ (1 Peter 1:25). Paul instructed Titus to only ordain an elder if he would hold ‘fast the faithful word as he has been taught’ (Titus 1:9), expecting, of course, that ‘the word’ would be preserved. Jude challenged the brethren to ‘contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints’ (Jude 3). Again, true brethren were asked to stand up for the faith which had been taught and preserved in the sacred writings.
“We read that God’s end-time disciples would keep His Word (Revelation 3:8)—which requires that God’s Word had been preserved and would be available in the end time. In fact, some living in the end time would even be killed for keeping the Word of God (Revelation 20:4).
“Jesus is the personified Word of God (Revelation 19:13; John 1:1, 14; 1 John 1:1). As He is still alive today, so He made sure that His written Word—the entire Bible—would stay ALIVE as well. After all, the Word of God is ‘LIVING and powerful’ (Hebrews 4:12).
“Who canonized the New Testament? It was God, but He inspired His apostles Paul, Peter and John to pronounce the decision which books and letters should be considered as sacred and infallible. And so, God ultimately used the apostle John to canonize the writings of the New Testament.”
From the website “the banner,” we read the following observations.
“So then, can we trust the New Testament?
“The answer is a resounding ‘Yes!’
“The New Testament manuscript copies we have were written relatively close to their originals, and we possess more manuscript copies than any other document of antiquity. Fewer than 1% of its variants are meaningful, and it has both Christian and non-Christian sources that affirm the events of the biblical account. If we are to question the reliability of the New Testament, I argue we should then question every other historical work, too, because the New Testament surpasses in authenticity any other work of antiquity.”
If we ignore any part of the Bible, then we can’t have the full picture of what God is trying to achieve in our lives. We must use ALL of the Word of God.
Lead Writer: Brian Gale (United Kingdom)
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
compiled by Dave Harris
“Is There Prophetic Meaning to the Death of Pope Benedict? is the title of a new StandingWatch program, presented by Evangelist Norbert Link. Here is a summary:
Former Pope Benedict XVI (95) died on December 31, 2022. He became the first pope to resign since Gregory XII in 1415 and he was the first German pope in 1,000 years. The Wall Street Journal wrote that “his death, after a decade in retirement, has ended an extraordinary arrangement” with Pope Francis and that Francis “might feel freer to act”, as Pope Emeritus Benedict has been described as a restraining influence on Pope Francis. Others proclaim and “prophesy” that Pope Francis will also resign soon, and another pope will take his place. What does it all mean?
“God the Father Is the Highest,” written by Evangelist Norbert Link, is our newest booklet and has entered the first review cycle in preparation for printing.
“Ist es wirklich notwendig, für das Heil zu leiden?” is the title of this Sabbath’s German split sermon, presented by Michael Link. Title in English: “Is It Really Necessary to Suffer for Salvation?”
“Satan der Schmarotzer,” the sermonette presented last Sabbath in Germany by Johann Schell, is now posted. Title in English: “Satan the Parasite.”
“I Wouldn’t Have Done That,” the sermonette presented last Sabbath by Brian Gale, is now posted. Here is a summary:
The expression “I wouldn’t have done that” can often be made with the advantage of hindsight. We can sit in judgment when we may not know all the facts or have been in the position that others may have found themselves in.
“True Repentance,” the sermon presented last Sabbath by Eric Rank, is now posted. Here is a summary:
At the heart of Christianity is the doctrine that as human beings we need forgiveness of our sins to obtain salvation, and inherit eternal life. A naïve prescription for becoming forgiven instructs people that all they need to do is to believe in Christ to be saved. While this is a necessary condition for receiving forgiveness, merely believing is not independently sufficient. We need to begin by understanding our sins and turning away from them. This is the act of true repentance.
How This Work is Financed
This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.
Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson
Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank
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