Update 131


The Trial of Jesus

On Saturday, February 21, 2004, Norbert Link will be presenting the sermon from Oregon, titled, “The Trial of Jesus.”

The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at 12:30 p.m. Pacific Time (which is 2:30 p.m. Central Time). Just click on “Connect to Live Stream.”

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How to Overcome Depression!

by Norbert Link

A recent article in a German magazine pointed out that five to ten percent of all people in the Western World suffer depression. In Germany alone, 12,000 people commit suicide each year because of depression, and 250,000 people are hospitalized because of depression-related suicide attempts (Online Focus, February 15, 2004).

Clinical depression is the end result of a development beginning with feelings of temporary frustration and self-pity. Rather than fighting and overcoming those feelings, affected people are often times being told by medical “experts” to concentrate on their own selves — to develop feelings to booster and inflate their “Ego” — to try to feel better about themselves and to develop a better “self-esteem,” while at the same time blaming others for their condition, including parents, friends, relatives, or just the society as a whole. THAT, however, is the surest way NOT to overcome depression.

The feeling of self-pity — the “woe-is-me” -syndrome — may even lead to suicide, if not overcome in time. Judas committed suicide when he realized what he had done. Rather than truly repenting in a godly way, rather than seeking help from GOD to continue, he did not want to live anymore — his grief for himself was just too much for him to bear (compare Matthew 27:3-5).

Paul, on the other hand, also had a lot to be sorry about. As Saul, he caused true Christians to be killed. But he repented in a godly way, and although he never forgot what he had done, he did not blame others for his deeds. Rather, he looked to God for mercy and forgiveness and began to live a new life (compare Acts 26:9-18).

We all have sinned (compare Ecclesiastes 7:20). We all have done things in our lives of which we are not proud. We all could find fault in others, blaming them for what we became and what we are today. But such conduct is not productive and healthy. We are what we are, and we all must change — and continue to change — to become better persons. To do that, we must look to God for help and to develop a love for others. Christ said that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). When we concentrate on others, and how we can help them, we are less concerned about and occupied with ourselves — what WE are, and what WE can get from others. When we are “more blessed,” then we are happier persons. Christ is telling us that it is more rewarding, more profitable, more important, more healthy and productive, to try to make others happy, than it is to try to make ourselves happy. The seeming paradox is, that if we concentrate on others and how we can help them, we WILL become happier persons ourselves. This is the godly way of how we can overcome depression. It includes forgiving others — what they might have done to us, knowing that we have done wrong things to others as well (compare Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13). It includes an understanding that true love “covers all sins” (Proverbs 10:12).

God does not become depressed. He is a very happy Personage, because HE IS LOVE (1 John 4:16). And love — true godly love — is outflowing. It shares, and it is concerned about the welfare and benefit of others — how to make others happy.

If you don’t want to overcome depression and frustration, all you have to do is to blame others for your present condition. Concentrate on yourself, live with self-pity and hate for others and for society as a whole. Justify your wrongs, by pointing the finger at injustices that you might have had to endure. Blame your bad luck, your upbringing, your heritage, or maybe even God for being unfair. Dwell on the mistakes others have made and how they have hurt you.

On the other hand, if you are depressed and want to overcome depression, and if you want to become a happier person, you need to first of all admit that YOU have done wrong things — as everybody else has. Rather than concentrating on the sins of others, examine yourself (compare 2 Corinthians 13:5). Admit that you were wrong, that you did wrong, and repent of the wrong. In leaving behind what is in the past (compare Philippians 3:13), you need to begin a new life of hope and trust in God — realizing that God knows what He is doing.

You will soon find that feelings of depression and frustration will leave you. That there is hope for your future (Jeremiah 31:17). That you can love yourself, by loving others (Matthew 19:19). That an interest for others can become your new way of life, including praying for your enemies (Matthew 5:44). Realize that Christ died for you when you were still His enemy (Romans 5:1; Colossians 1:21). You will soon realize that your happiness and joy will be the result, and that feelings of frustration and hopelessness will belong to the past.

Depression originates from Satan. We are told to resist Satan, and he — with his destructive feelings — will flee from us (James 4:7). We must submit to God, and He will lift us up (James 4:7-10) — that is, He will give us comfort, consolation, happiness and hope for the future. Christ showed us how to do it. When Satan tempted Him to sin, to give up the purpose for His First Coming, Christ told him: “Away with you, Satan!” (Matthew 4:10). As a consequence, Satan had to leave, and God’s angels came to serve Christ (Matthew 4:11). Later, in the garden of Gethsemane, Christ prayed to God the Father for spiritual help, and an angel appeared to strengthen Him (Luke 22:41-44). All the time, Christ had His great purpose in mind — that He had come to give His life for OTHERS, so that OTHERS could live (compare John 10:10; 17:4; Matthew 16:21-23). God the Father and Jesus Christ loved us so much, that they were willing to bring this supreme sacrifice — for YOU and for me (John 3:16-17; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 5:2). Christ never allowed Satan’s feelings of frustration, hopelessness and depression to find a place in His mind. Satan offered Him the kingdoms of this world, and he tried to bring Christ to the point where He would feel more important than was fitting (Compare Matthew 4:5-9). “Prove to me that YOU are the Son of God!”, Satan said, in effect. “You don’t have to go through all these trials set before you — all you need to do is to worship me, and all will be yours! Take the easy way out!”

But Christ rejected all of those feelings and temptations, which could have led to depression and frustration. Christ always upheld and maintained His love for God and man, thereby resisting the devil. He did not blame others for His situation, justifying thereby to choose “the easy way out.” He had come to die for us, because of His great love for us. He came to share His love with us, so that we could overcome depression and become happier persons — and ultimately enter the very Kingdom of God — a kingdom of unspeakable happiness and joy (Matthew 25:21; Psalm 16:11). And so, the devil had to depart from Him. We must act the same. And when we do, happy are we!

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Vatican City 75th Anniversary

As Zenit reported on February 10, 2004, “Vatican City this week celebrate[d] its 75th anniversary as a sovereign city.” The article continued: “Wednesday [February 11, 2004] marks the anniversary of the signing of the Lateran Pacts [better: Treaties] in 1929. Signed in the Lateran Palace by Benito Mussolini, the representative of the king of Italy, and by Cardinal Pietro Gasbarri, the secretary of the state of Pope Pius XI, the pacts [treaties] were a triple agreement: a political treaty, a financial convention and a concordat.” The article also explained:

“Among other things, the Lateran Pacts [Treaties] established the sovereign Vatican City State, made Catholicism the official religion of Italy, and regulated Church-state relations… The 1929 pacts [treaties] also established the international character of the Holy See. It is the Holy See which is recognized in international law and which carries on diplomatic relations with other nations.”

This glowing description from Zenit, an official organ of the Catholic Church, is contrasted by the very critical report by Der Stern Online, of February 10. The magazine entitled its article: “The Pact with the Devil.” It explained:

“The Treaties served as a signal for Adolph Hitler, who signed four years later a Concordat with the Catholic Church.” The article pointed out that both the Catholic Church and Mussolini’s Fascist Government profited from the Treaty, and that the Catholic Church “supported the Fascist propaganda.” Applying a statement by Pope Pius XI about Mussolini, the Fascist labeled Mussolini as “the man of predestination.” The magazine quoted an expert on German Fascism, Lutz Klinkhammer, who is presently teaching in Rome. He stated: “One can say that the Lateran Treaties have ‘catholizised’ Fascism and ‘fascismized’ Catholicism.”

To become, as a Church organization, a sovereign state and to entertain diplomatic relations with other governments and nations of this world constitutes a gross misunderstanding of Biblical teaching. As true Christians, we are not to involve ourselves with the political and governmental affairs of this world. For more information, please read our Q&A in Update #76, titled, “Voting in Governmental Elections?”

Collaboration Between Germany and the Vatican

Zenit reported on February 8, 2004, that “Germany and Vatican City State plan to issue jointly a special stamp to celebrate the 20th World Youth Day, to be held in Cologne next year. A spokeswoman of the Finance Ministry in Berlin confirmed the news Thursday.”

While such an endeavor would be unthinkable under the U.S. constitution, demanding strict separation between Church and state, the German government is obviously less restricted from such collaboration with the Catholic Church, although it CLAIMS to be a secular state.

Could Many of the Jews Have Been Saved?

On February 13, 2004, Der Spiegel Online published a disturbing article discussing whether or not the Allies could have saved many of the Jews from extermination by the Nazis. The truth is that they decided not to intervene, although they knew of the mass executions. The magazine stated: “During the last months of the war the Nazis murdered thousands of Jews in Auschwitz. The British and the Americans did not intervene, although they knew about it.” The magazine pointed out that photographs were taken by the British Airforce on August 23, 1944, clearly revealing how thousands of Jewish corpses were burned under open sky.

When former Minister President of Israel, Benjamin Netanjahu, visited Auschwitz in 1988, he stated publicly: “All what needed to be done was to bomb the railways.” He echoed a demand by Jewish organizations in 1944, that had been directed to Washington and London at that time.

Evidence shows that Washington and London knew of the Nazi murders as early as August or November of 1942. The British paper, “The Guardian,” even speculated that through the failure of Washington and Britain to intervene, hundreds of thousands of lives were taken.

Der Spiegel Online took a much more differentiated view in its article. It pointed out that an attack on Auschwitz would not have been easy. Although the concept of “precision bombing” was known, it was very imprecise at that point in time. The magazine conceded that attacks on railways would have been a possibility, but “in doing so, the Allies would have risked many victims among the Jewish prisoners…. Such a scenario was not to the liking of US President Franklin D. Roosevelt.” He did not want to be seen as the person killing innocent Jews while attempting to free them, according to the magazine article.

The magazine then stated that Russia could have stopped the mass murder of the Jews much easier than the Americans and the British. When the above-mentioned picture was taken on August 23, 1944, the Red Army was only 160 kilometers away from Auschwitz. Stalin COULD HAVE STOPPED the mass murder, if he had wanted to, but he did not want to, according to the magazine. Since Stalin was a full-fledged Anti-Semite, he had no interest in saving the Jews. His interests were to destroy Hitler and Fascism, in order to bring to Europe another form of totalitarianism — that of Russian Communism.

Der Spiegel Online summarized its findings with this remarkable statement: “Whether Stalin would have tried to even prevent his Western Allies from helping the Jews remains speculation. One thing seems to be certain, however: The great war of the [Russian Motherland] was never a war to help the Jews.”

Anti-Semitism Rising

From www.voanews.com, “European Union officials meet Thursday (2/19/04) in Belgium with prominent Jewish leaders at a one-day conference on fighting anti-Semitism in Europe.” This meeting comes about as growing incidents of attacks on Jewish owned property in Europe and real or perceived threats to Jews have increased. Although, as this article points out, “young Muslims have played a large role in a reported recent rise in anti-Jewish attacks in Europe,” the incidents involve a more widespread mood. Especially in France, Jewish leaders are alarmed at the steady emergence of anti-Semitism within this key nation of the European Union.

Some Jewish leaders have stated that they now are experiencing “fear” in much the same way that existed before World War II.

Conditions in the Middle East have not helped ease these emerging tensions. Biblical prophecy unambiguously reveals that real anti-Semitism will once again sweep through the coming power-bloc now arising in central Europe!

Haider vs. Bush?

Several newspapers reported on February 13, 2004, that Joerg Haider of Austria compared, indirectly, U.S. President George W. Bush with Adolph Hitler. When asked whether he would still compare Saddam Hussein with President Bush, he answered in the affirmative and added: “Hitler, too, was democratically elected.” Subsequently, however, it was reported that Haider denied having indirectly compared Bush with Hitler. He stated that he had been misinterpreted and that he had just meant to say the opposite.

Excellent Relationships Between Germany and Austria

As NEWS-Networld reported this week, the Austrian government described the relationship between Germany and Austria as “excellent.” The article pointed out that there “exist many similarities and close contacts.”

Although this does not come as a surprise, it is still important to realize that Biblical prophecy strongly suggests a very close relationship between Germany and Austria in the years to come. Such strong relationships have of course existed in the past, and from all the Biblical evidence available to us, they will exist again in the future.

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Does the Bible prohibit eating a mixture of milk and meat?

It does not. However, there are some who believe and teach that certain Scriptures prohibit such a practice. They mainly turn to Exodus 23:19, which states: “The first of the firstfruits of your land you shall bring into the house of the LORD your God. You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.”

The identical prohibition is repeated in Exodus 34:26. We also find the following prohibition in Deuteronomy 14:21:

“You shall not eat anything that dies of itself; you may give it to the alien who is within your gates, that he may eat it, or you may sell it to a foreigner; for you are a holy people to the LORD your God. You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.”

In commenting on Exodus 23:19, the Hebrew Soncino Commentary points out:

“Thou shalt not seethe a kid. In the term kid the calf and lamb are included since it denotes any young animal… The prohibition occurs three times… to signify that the eating, cooking and deriving any benefit whatever from a mixture of milk and meat are forbidden. Goats are rich in milk and it was customary among the surrounding nations to boil the young animal in its mother’s milk. The Torah considered this a gluttonous way of eating and so prohibited it. On the three festivals many animals were slaughtered; therefore the Torah took the opportunity of repeating the prohibition to express disapproval of the evil practice. The law applies not only to the meat of the kid, but to every mixture of milk and meat.”

Following this interpretation, orthodox Jews today don’t eat a mixture of milk and meat. We should realize, however, that the Scripture itself does not prohibit the consumption of meat and milk per se; it only refers to the boiling of a young goat in its MOTHER’S milk. We find, for instance, that Abraham served his three guests — the LORD and two angels — “butter and milk and the calf which he had prepared, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree as they ATE” (Genesis 18:8). Abraham, a man who obeyed God’s statutes, obviously did not think that there was a prohibition against eating a mixture of milk and meat, and God and His angels did not choose to “reveal” to him such a prohibition, as it did not exist.

Others have suggested that this command prohibits boiling and eating an UNWEANED kid. In this case, the Hebrew preposition would have to be translated “on” instead of “in” the mother’s milk. This interpretation is incorrect. The verbatim translation of the Hebrew is: “You shall not boil a kid in the milk of its mother.” The key is the phrase, “in the milk of ITS mother,” or, “in ITS mother’s milk,” referring to the relationship between the kid and ITS mother — not just any mother.

Some have claimed that Exodus 23:19 may refer to an incorrect practice of proper tithing. The Israelites counted animals as they went under the rod, and to remove a young goat for food would mean that incorrect tithing was taking place, that is, tithing on reduced numbers.

Most commentaries agree, however, that the command against seething or boiling a kid in its mother’s milk was given because of pagan worship practices that Israel was prohibited from adopting (Deuteronomy 12:28-32). We should note that the command in Exodus 23:19 and 34:26 is clearly given in the context of God’s annual Holy Days. The Ryrie Study Bible points out:

“Leaven was a symbol of corruption and evil (cf. Matt. 16:6). Boiling a kid in its mother’s milk was a common Canaanite ritual involving magic spells.”

The Nelson Study Bible adds, in discussing Exodus 23:19:

“You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk is a command that forbade the Israelites to imitate the cruel sacrifices of their pagan neighbors.”

Regarding Deut.14:21, the commentary includes these additional statements: “Unlike the Canaanites who boiled young goats alive in the milk of their mothers as a sacrifice to fertility gods, Israel was to practice a more humane method of animal sacrifice. Israel was to be different from its neighbors — that is, holy.”

The New Bible Commentary: Revised, agrees with that understanding and adds, in regard to Exodus 23:19: “The firstfruits are to be offered to God, for He gave them. The heathen practice referred to in 19b [i.e., verse 19, second sentence] was a vain attempt to increase fertility and productivity by magical arts.” The following comment was added regarding Deut. 14:21: “This unnatural custom was practiced superstitiously by the Canaanites, perhaps to promote fecundity.”

Matthew Henry’s Commentary points out, on page 98, that the Israelites “must not think to receive benefit by that superstitious usage of some of the Gentiles, who, it is said, at the end of their harvest, seethed a kid in the dam’s milk, and sprinkled that milk-potage, in a magical way, upon their gardens and fields, to make them more fruitful next year.”

The same is expressed, in effect, by Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, Commentary on the Whole Bible, and by Peake’s Commentary.

A very insightful explanation can also be found in The Broadman Bible Commentary, vol. 1, p. 412, as follows:

“The interpretation of this rather strange prohibition against boiling a kid in its mother’s milk illustrates the manner in which archeological discovery illuminated Ancient Near Eastern cultural practices… Following the discovery and interpretation of the Ras Shamra literature, dating to approximately the fourteenth century B.C., this verse quite often has been interpreted as the prohibition of the Canaanite ritual in which a kid was boiled in its mother’s milk: ‘Over the fire seven times the sacrificers cook a kid in milk… [and] mint… in butter and over the cauldron seven times fresh water… is poured.'”

The commentary adds the following statements in vol. 2, on page 244, discussing Deut. 14:21: “The prohibition on boiling a kid in its mother’s milk has long been a riddle for the interpreter. It occurs in Exodus 23:19 and 34:26 as well. Ugaritic texts have revealed a proscribed ritual of this kind related to ‘milk magic.’ This law, like the others, prohibits Israel’s participation in rites of the heathen.”

From the foregoing, we can see that the practice of boiling a kid in its mother’s milk was associated with fertility rites, magic and pagan sacrifices, apparently associated with the belief that through magic and the intervention of demonic gods, the next harvest would be bountiful. God was clear that such pagan customs were not to be followed, pointing out, instead, how He was to be worshipped. This connection can be clearly seen in Exodus 23:18-19 and 34:25-26, where God speaks of His sacrifice (in Ex. 34:25, the sacrifice is identified as the Passover Sacrifice), the bringing of the “first of the firstfruits” into the house of God, and the command against boiling of a young goat in its mother’s milk. The connection in Deuteronomy 14:21 might not be all that obvious, as the previous verses discuss the prohibition of eating unclean meat. However, the very next verse (verse 22) begins to state God’s instructions regarding tithing principles related to God’s annual Festival of the Feast of Tabernacles.

In any event, we can safely say that the Bible does not prohibit the consumption of a mixture of milk and meat, EXCEPT that we should not boil a kid in its mother’s milk, as the Scriptures clearly say. This unusual custom is still practiced in some parts of the world today. James Hastings, Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, Vol. 8, p. 635, relates the following in this context: “Among the Arabs flesh seethed in milk is still a common dish, yet the Hebrews were prohibited from boiling a kid in its mother’s milk.” Hastings also explains how milk, all by itself, played an important role in superstitious pagan sacrifices. On page 634, it is even stated: “In the Christian Church it [milk] was substituted for wine in the elements of the communion. This was afterwards prohibited by canon law…, but it may be surmised that it originated as one of the surviving rites of ancient pagan religion.”

“Boiling a young goat in its mother’s milk” was clearly, then, a pagan practice to worship pagan gods, and it was therefore prohibited by God. We should take the Scripture for what it says, rather than adding to its meaning by prohibiting the consumption of a mixture of milk and meat (except for the boiling and subsequently eating a young goat boiled in its mother’s milk).

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Standing Watch and Member Letter

A new StandingWatch program, titled, “What the World Needs Now…”, has been posted on the Web.

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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.

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