Update 112


"The Warning" and "Make Your Calling Sure"

On Saturday, September 27, 2003, Holy Day services for the Feast of Trumpets will be broadcast live from Colorado and San Diego. Dave Harris will give the sermon in the morning, at 9:00 a.m. Pacific time. The title is, “The Warning!” Edwin Pope will give the sermon in the afternoon, at 1:30 pm Pacific time. His sermon is titled, “Make Your Calling Sure!”

The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at the appropriate time, just click on “Connect to Live Stream.”


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"Will We Be Grateful?"

by Edwin Pope

One thing that God hates is a rebellious house — a rebellious people — a people who have been taught truth, but refuse to follow that truth. God spoke to Ezekiel and said to him, “Son of man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, which has eyes to see but does not see, and ears to hear but does not hear; for they are a rebellious house” (Ezekiel 12:2).

One of the major problems in Israel at that time was that the prophets of Israel, whose responsibility it was to relay God’s message to the people, followed their own spirit instead of the Spirit of God (Ezekiel 13:1-3). They had “… not gone up into the gaps to build a wall for the house of Israel to stand in battle on the day of the Lord” (verse 5). They had not stood for God’s truth before the people. They prophesied, but God stated He had not sent them with the message they proclaimed (verse 6). He said that what they were doing was futile (verse 7).

God had a desire for a people who would stand for His way of life. He has not changed in that desire, and desires such a people, today!

We see in the 22nd chapter of Ezekiel, verses 23-30, that God hated what was being done by His people, by virtue of their rebellious acts. He says that His people were devoured and His holy things profaned, all because the priests did not make known the difference between the clean and the unclean (verse 26). They even hid their eyes from His Sabbaths! How clear that these same problems have existed in recent years among the people of God.

And so, in verse 30, God states that at that time, He “… sought a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap…” before Him, “on behalf of the land,” that He should not destroy it. And yet, He was unable to find such a man to do that.

We have seen down through the history of God’s people, many of those who have been faithful to God, and who have stood firmly for God’s truth and His way. Noah was such a man, as were Abraham and Moses. God’s way was taught in their words and in their actions. Of course Jesus Christ is the prime example of One Who stood in the Gap for God’s way, even to His death! The apostles, except for one, were firm in their stand for God and were promised tremendous future blessings because of their loyalty to God (Matthew 19:27-29).

You and I have been called at this time, brethren, to stand in the gap for God’s way. Will we be faithful? Let us pray for one another for the strength, the power, not to let down at this critical time in history; but to be a light in this world of darkness as Satan is taking every opportunity to see that we fail in this wonderful calling we have received from Almighty God.


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Germany and the United States

On September 22, 2003, Der Spiegel Online published a very insightful lengthy article on the German-American relationship. The article was titled, “Schroeder’s New Center,” discussing the German Chancellor’s search for a “German direction” in foreign policy. The article, which was published only days before Mr. Schroeder’s visit with President Bush, pointed out the following:

“There is hardly a region that escapes [German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s] interest, particularly as German troops are currently serving in EIGHT countries… So far no consistent foreign policy discernible to the man on the street has emerged from the loose ends of Schröder’s various activities. Unlike former Chancellor Konrad Adenauer with his connection to the West, Willy Brandt with his reconciliation with the East, or Helmut Kohl, who was a clear proponent of Germany unity, the current German head of state is still searching for solid ground… Although Schröder wishes to embody a ‘self-confidence without arrogance’ to serve the interests of an enlarged Germany, his approach so far has been characterized by questions:

“Just how much of a friendship with France can the German-American relationship tolerate? Could the close ties within Europe that Schröder currently values so highly isolate him worldwide as well as on the continent?
“What will become of German-British relations, as difficult as they are important? In light of growing British skepticism about the Euro and a pronounced anti-war mood in Germany, where does future common ground lie? Should the expansion of the European court system be advanced without London, given the fact that every EU convention only serves to widen the rift between the continent and the island kingdom?

“Added to all of this is the complicated relationship with the United States, that stubborn and often self-loving world power, without which neither NATO nor the UN can survive. Even Schröder knows that the cool relations of the recent past cannot be allowed to continue. However, a return to the old German-American friendship is also UNLIKELY… [About] 60 percent of the EU population feels that the UN and NATO represent the strongest guarantees of German security – well ahead of the United States, which only 38 percent of respondents felt was capable of guaranteeing German security… Germans are essentially in favor of a course diverging from that taken by Washington… [Two-thirds] were even in favor of Europe becoming a ‘counterweight’ to America…

“A German delegation visiting the White House heard Condoleeza Rice, the President’s powerful National Security Advisor, utter a sentence they had not expected to hear for some time: ‘OUR RELATIONS WITH GERMANY ARE OUR CENTRAL RELATIONS WITH EUROPE.’… Schröder, until recently an unwelcome guest in Washington, seems to be making an effort to tone down his cockiness. He knows that his sudden popularity is not a result of his own performance, but rather of the poor fortunes of the Americans, who have managed to get themselves into an untenable situation in Iraq and are now desperately seeking partners… [In] Berlin last Thursday, Chirac loudly and enthusiastically proclaimed that the GERMAN-FRENCH PARTNERSHIP represents ‘the FUTURE of our people and OF EUROPE,’ then promptly moved closer to his German partner…”

Before addressing the United Nations and meeting with Gerhard Schroeder, President Bush stated that he understands the German resistance to the war with Iraq, since the “Germans are fundamentally pacifists” (Der Spiegel Online, September 23, 2003; Die Welt, September 24, 2003). This questionable assessment, judging by the long history of the German peoples, was undoubtedly prompted by Mr. Bush’s wish to normalize the American-German relationship and to gain support from Mr. Schroeder. Before meeting with Mr. Schroeder, President Bush spoke on September 23, 2003, to the United Nations, following U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s address, who had “criticized Bush’s ‘pre-emptive’ attack on Iraq” (USA Today, September 24, 2003). Reactions to President Bush’s speech were overwhelmingly negative — both in the U.S. and abroad.

The “Tages-Anzeiger” in Switzerland commented, “The United Sates are not able to stabilize Iraq. Bush wants financial and military help from the world community. At the same time, he does not want to… admit mistakes… Under those conditions, he will not get much support.”

The “Financial Times” in London stated that President Bush did not show an inkling of repentance, when talking about the right of the US to act alone. The paper also pointed out that he did not clarify that he would not go alone again — and that is what the world fears the most.

“de Volkskrant” in The Netherlands commented that Mr. Bush “presented a picture of a powerful president over a powerful country, who is standing more and more alone.”

The “Washington Post” pointed out that President Bush missed an important chance to gather international support in a decisive matter.

After his speech, President Bush and Chancellor Schroeder met for 45 minutes on September 24 — the first meeting between the two leaders in 16 months. They were accompanied by Colin Powell and Joschka Fischer. After the meeting, both leaders declared that they had left any differences behind, and that they both wanted to look into the future together. These declarations should not prompt one to think that from now on, everything will be fine between the two countries. Der Spiegel Online stated on September 24, 2003, that there was little agreement between the two leaders in regard to the issues. “Schroeder continues to consider Bush’s Iraq policy as wrong,” the magazine pointed out.

After the meeting with President Bush, Chancellor Schroeder addressed the United Nations. Reuters reports:

“German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder appealed Wednesday for a DECISIVE ROLE FOR THE UNITED NATIONS in the reconstruction of Iraq but softened past differences with the United States…. Schroeder said Germany was prepared to provide humanitarian, technical and economic aid and train the Iraqi security forces. Berlin has ruled out sending its own troops… [Schroeder] warned against states going it alone in crises and said the United Nations’ monopoly on the use of force must be strengthened… Schroeder also said the International Criminal Court, which the United States strongly opposes, was an important instrument of global justice against war crimes… Schroeder spelled out Germany’s ambition to win a permanent seat on the Security Council… ‘On behalf of Germany, I repeat that we are prepared to take on more responsibility in the framework of such a reform,’ he said.”

He who has ears to hear, let him hear…

The Jesus Box–Fact or Fake?

The scientific discussion regarding the genuineness of the “Jesus Box” continues. Christianity Today published in its October 2003 (Vol. 47, No. 10, page 42) edition an insightful article by Ben Witherington, professor of the New Testament, titled, “Bones of Contention — Why I still think the James bone box is likely to be authentic.”

In the lengthy article, the following was stated:
“The press conference of the Israeli Antiquities Authority was announced with much fanfare, and headlines went out around the world — JAMES OSSUARY DECLARED HOAX, INSCRIPTION SAID TO BE CERTAINLY A MODERN FORGERY… Two months later, as I am writing this, only a summary of the findings has been released (though it is called a ‘final report’). One must wonder why the IAA is holding back the data, when the commission finished its work nearly three months ago… Something is rotten in Jerusalem, and this whole investigation begins to look more and more political… No internationally known scholars on this commission were from anywhere outside Israel. Nor were there any Christian scholars on this commission, even though some outstanding ones live in Jerusalem. Christian participation would have assured us that theological agendas were not at play…

“There are serious problems with a self-chosen body like the IAA commission, especially when several of the members on the commission spoke publicly against the authenticity of the ossuary inscription before they conducted scientific tests on it… it is simply mind-boggling that the IAA can be so confident that the inscription cuts through the patina on the ossuary, when the Toronto team (which also examined the letters carefully under electron microscope) says it does not… There are some glaring omissions in the summary report… Why has the IAA ignored the data presented by other scholars?… I am still convinced the inscription is likely to be genuine, and will be vindicated as even further study and testing is done. In the meantime, let the scholarly debate continue, and let no one think that the IAA report is anything like the definitive word on this issue….”

Canadian Christians Accused of Hate Crimes?

Christianity Today published an article on September 15, 2002, reporting that the Canadian House of Commons “passed a bill adding sexual orientation to the country’s hate-propaganda law.” The bill must still pass the Canadian Senate and be given royal assent. The article continued, “‘Canadians who are speaking out against the redefinition of marriage are already being accused of “hate” speech by homosexual activists,’ Canada Family Action Coalition executive director Brian Rushfeldt told The Vancouver Sun. ‘[Under C-250,] the activists will begin to insist on prosecution to silence their critics with criminal sanctions.’… Under the law, promotion of hatred is punishable by up to five years in prison.”

Saudi Arabia and Nuclear Weapons

“Saudis consider nuclear bomb,” according to the headline of an article published by The Guardian in the U.K., dated September 18. The article pointed out, “Saudi Arabia, in response to the current upheaval in the Middle East, has embarked on a strategic review that includes acquiring nuclear weapons, the Guardian has learned. This new threat of proliferation in one of the most dangerous regions of the world comes on top of a crisis over Iran’s alleged nuclear programme.”

These and similar announcements serve as a reminder that we will yet see a mighty and unified power bloc emerge as described in the Bible as the King of the South. This will happen despite all the good intentions of the US and its allies to “fix” the Middle East with Western Democracy.

The Vatican and the World

Zenit reported on September 21 that “the Holy See would be prepared to become a full member of the United Nations, says the Vatican’s secretary of state [Cardinal Angelo Sodano]… Currently, the Holy See is a permanent observer of the United Nations, which allows it to address meetings called by that organization. But it has no voting power. Since 1978, the Holy See has established diplomatic relations with 82 countries, INCREASING THE TOTAL NUMBER TO 174… ‘Papal sovereignty in the international realm is not determined by its temporal power,’ [Sodano] said.”

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Could you explain which day was the "last day, that great day of the feast," as spoken of in John 7:37? Some say that this was a reference to the "seventh day" of the Feast of Tabernacles, while others claim that it was the "eighth day."

A: We read in John 7:37-39, “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, [which] those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

We read in verse 2 that the Holy Days that were celebrated at that time evolved around “the Feast of Tabernacles.”

Several commentators feel that the reference to the “last day, that great day of the feast,” applies to the seventh day of the Feast of Tabernacles. For instance, Edward Chumney, “The Seven Festivals of the Messiah,” points out the following on pp. 173-174:

“‘Hoshana Rabbah (literally, the great hosanna or the numerous hosannas) is the seventh day of sukkot (Tabernacles)… It has some special rituals and customs that make the day more like a full festival day than any of the intermediate days… On the seventh day of the feast, the people circled the altar seven times… Yeshua’s [Jesus’] statement in John (Yochanan) 7:37-39 was said on Hoshana Rabbah.”

Other commentaries state that Christ spoke those words on the eighth day, the last day of the Tabernacles season. The eighth day is an annual Holy Day, a special Sabbath, and is mentioned, for instance, in Leviticus 23:36 and in Numbers 29:35. This day is also referred to as “Shemini Atzeret (the eighth day of assembly)” and was treated by the rabbis as “an independent festival” (Chumney, p. 187).

Unger’s Bible Handbook, 1967, states on page 553: “The last day of Tabernacles (Lev. 23:36) was the most solemn and climactic of the entire festival cycle. It was the eighth day of rest and holy assembly. During the seven days prefiguring their wilderness wandering, water was drawn from the pool of Siloam and then poured out, commemorating the water supplied Israel in the desert. The eighth day signified the enjoyment of the springs of the land itself and no water was poured out.”

The Ryrie Study Bible concurs: “Though it is not mentioned in the O.T., the Jews had a ceremony of carrying water from the Pool of Siloam and pouring it into a silver basin by the altar of burnt offering each day for the first seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles. On the eighth day this was not done, making Christ’s offer of the water of eternal life from Himself even more startling.”

Further insight is given by William Henry Green, “The Hebrew Feasts,” copyright 1885, pp. 281 and 292:

“… at Tabernacles they remained not only through the full term of seven days, but an eighth day was added at the end, which in later times at least was reckoned ‘the great day of the feast,’ John 7:37… This eighth day is particularly mentioned in the observance of the feast by Ezra and Nehemiah, Neh. 8:18, and from the increasing concourse of pilgrims, it had risen to great consequence in the time of our Lord, John 7:37.”

Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, Commentary on the Whole Bible, 1961, also say that the reference to the “last day, that great day of the feast,” in John 7:37, applies to the “eighth (Lev. 23:39). It was a sabbath, the last feast day of the year…”

The Worldwide Church of God under Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong taught that Christ spoke the above-quoted words on the eighth day, the Last Great Day, and not during the seventh day of the feast. The Church of the Eternal God and its affiliates in Canada and Great Britain have also concluded that Christ spoke these words on the Last Great Day of the Feast — the eighth day (compare “God’s Commanded Holy Days,” page 32). John 8:1 shows that these words were spoken in the evening — at the beginning of the eighth day.

It is important to note what Christ said. He pointed out that the time would arrive when EVERYONE who thirsts could come to Him to receive from Him the gift of living waters — the Holy Spirit. That promise will not be fulfilled until the Great White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-12) — AFTER the Millennium (Revelation 20:4, 6). While the Feast of Tabernacles pictures the Millennium, the Great White Throne Judgment is pictured by the Last Great Day or the EIGHTH Day. When THAT time has arrived, all persons who had not been called before will be resurrected to physical life and will then be given their first real opportunity to accept God’s calling. Christ’s words in John 7:37-39 speak of a time when God’s Spirit will be offered to all, for at that time, all will be CALLED to salvation.

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

We have placed another Standing Watch program on our website, titled, “Who and What is God?”

Our current member letter, addressing the Feast of Tabernacles, which you can find at: http://www.eternalgod.org/lit/letters/brethren-20030929.pdf, will be sent out this Monday.

The Global Church of God in the UK has by now received in excess of 1,200 responses to our ad campaign, offering “God’s Commanded Holy Days” and “Don’t Keep Christmas.”

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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

Our activities and literature, including booklets, weekly updates, sermons on CD, and video and audio broadcasts, are provided free of charge. They are made possible by the tithes, offerings and contributions of Church members and others who have elected to support this Work.

While we do not solicit the general public for funds, contributions are gratefully welcomed and are tax-deductible in the U.S. and Canada.

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