Update 134


How To Observe God's Holy Days

On Saturday, March 13, 2004, Norbert Link will be giving the sermon, titled, “How To Observe God’s Holy Days.”

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

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Who Is Responsible for Christ's Death?


Recently Mel Gibson released one of the most controversial films of all time. The amount of publicity surrounding the movie “The Passion of Christ” has rarely been equalled if at all. One of the main issues being addressed, is that the movie will provoke anti-Semitism. This is due to the fact that the Jews are seen by many to be the ones that put Christ to death.

The Bible does indeed show that the Jews used a myriad of unjust methods to insure that Christ was put to death. From the beginning the Jews planned to use deceit (Mat 26:3-4) to bring down Jesus. They violated their own laws and procedures at every turn (for a good sermon on this very subject, listen to “The Trial of Jesus” at www.eternalgod.org/audio).

In the end the Jews caused an innocent Christ to be put to death at the hands of the Romans, one who could not be convicted by their laws or the law of God, because He was without sin. All this being said, does this make the Jews responsible for the death of Christ?

Christ had to die that we may live (Isaiah 53:6; 1 Peter 3:18; 1 John 3:16; 4:9-10). Christ HAD to die to pay for OUR sins… the sins of humanity. Christ had to die for each one of us individually, because we all have sinned (Romans 3:23).

The Jews were used as an instrument in the death of Christ. BUT as we approach Passover and the beginning of God’s Holy Day season, we need to be humbled by the realization that each one of us is personally responsible for the death of Jesus Christ while at the same time we take comfort and encouragement that we can have life everlasting through His resurrection.

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Euro and U.S. Dollar

As AFP reported on March 6, 2004, “the euro soared by over a cent to above the 1.23-dollar threshold after a keenly awaited US labour market report defied expectations with only a modest rise in employment.” The article continued that the rise of the euro occurred “after the US government said American businesses added a meager 21,000 jobs in February, dashing hopes for an end to a three-year jobs drought… Analysts say the world’s biggest economy must generate at least 200,000 jobs a month to make a real dent on a growing workforce.”

Christian Discrimination?

Fox News reported on February 26 that “the Hispanic Club, the Chess Club and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance are just some of the clubs that have displays in the hallways of Portland schools. But after the Bible Club at Marshall High School put a Bible and some other Christian books in a display case, some teachers complained to the principal. After a call to the district lawyer, the display was taken down. District officials said they felt the display gave the impression that the school was endorsing Christianity.” The article pointed out that with the support of the American Center for Law and Justice, the Bible Club leader filed a lawsuit in Federal Court, claiming that his right to free speech was violated, and that the school violated the Federal Equal Access Act.

We wait with interest for the ruling of the Federal Court in this matter.

Locust Plague in Middle East

WorldNetDaily reported on March 2, 2004, that a “Biblical locust plague threatens Mideast.” The article stated: “With the Passover celebration just weeks away, a locust plague of biblical proportions could threaten parts of the Middle East and Africa, according to a United Nations agency. An outbreak that potentially could darken the sky and consume everything in its path is ‘in progress on the Red Sea coast in Saudi Arabia where swarms are forming,’ the Rome-based U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said.”

Hell in Haiti

Bild Online wrote on March 4, 2004: “The Devil has a new address…. Haiti has become the most terrible place on earth, the hell of the Caribbean. Since Voodoo-President Jean Bertrand Aristide fled from the rebels, the mob reigns. The visitors take barbaric revenge… A witness: ‘They stone suspects to death… set them on fire. On the street…”

This is just another example of the terrible abuses of carnal human nature in a world cut off from God. Suppressed people become suppressors themselves, and more violence and murder is the result.

Russia and Europe

Itar-Tass reported on March 6, 2004, that Russia is “surprised at NATO plans to deploy bases in Baltic countries.” The article quoted Russia’s acting Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov as saying that “the intention to create new military bases in Europe doesn’t have any clear explanation,” making it clear that “Russia would retain its right to retaliate if NATO sets up bases in the Baltic countries.”

German President and the Pope

As Zenit reported on March 7, “German President Johannes Rau… thanked [John Paul II] for his contribution to [Germany’s] reunification.” The article pointed out, too, that “John Paul II spoke of Germany’s federal structure as a ‘model for a united Europe of nations.’… The Pope cited a need for greater commitment in politics by German Christians, saying that he hoped ‘the Christian heritage will be able to make more fruitful the society of Germany and the rest of the continent.'” The article also quoted a statement from the Vatican, as follows: “Catholics of Europe — around 80% of the total population — … want to see recognized the historical presence of Christianity in the life of the continent.”

Haider is back…

As the Herald Sun reported on March 8, “controversial right-wing politician Joerg Haider powered his party to a stunning win in his home province in Austria today, confounding pundits and strengthening the odds for a national comeback… While the voting was restricted to Carinthia, its significance extended beyond Austria’s southernmost province.”

Tiscali.europe added: “Winston Churchill said that the best argument against democracy is a ten minute conversation with your average voter. Events in Austria over the weekend would merely have confirmed his view. Joerg Haider brought his party a remarkable victory in his home province, defying pollsters and improving his chances of his national comeback despite or perhaps because of his anti-Jewish slurs and sympathies for the Nazi party.”

The article went on to explain:

“Austria has had a long standing attraction to far right politics but they are by no means alone. The Swiss, the French and the Italians are by no means immune… This is not a problem that should be under-estimated.”

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What are the origins of April Fool's Day? Should this day be observed by true Christians?

The origin and history of April Fool’s Day [also spelled as “April Fools’ Day”], also called “All Fools’ Day,” are not entirely clear. Many explanations have been advanced to explain its origin.
Most commentaries and researchers maintain that the modern celebrations of the day developed in 1582, in France. As the story goes, prior to that year, the New Year was celebrated for eight days, beginning on March 25. The celebration culminated on April 1. With the reform of the calendar under Charles IX, the Gregorian Calendar was introduced, and New Year’s Day was moved to January 1. In France, however, many people either refused to accept the new date, or did not learn about it, and continued to celebrate New Year’s Day on April 1. Other people began to make fun of these traditionalists, sending them on “fools’ errands” or trying to trick them into believing something false.

The French came to call April 1 “Poisson d’Avril,” or “April Fish.” An April fish is a young fish and thus, one which is easily caught. French children sometimes tape a picture of a fish on the back of their schoolmates, crying “Poisson d’Avril” when the prank is discovered. Traditionally, French pranks must include or at least relate to a fish. The nickname of “Poisson d’Avril” is said to have been acquired by Napoleon I when he married Marie-Louise of Austria on April 1, 1810.

April Fool’s Day was later introduced to the American colonies of both the English and the French.

In Scotland, April Fool’s Day is actually celebrated for two days. It is also known as “April Gowk,” “Gowkie Day” or “Hunt the Gowk.” “Gowk” is Scottish for “cuckoo” — an emblem of simpletons. The second day is also known as “Taily Day.”

Mexico’s counterpart of April Fool’s Day is actually observed on December 28. In Portugal, April Fool’s Day is celebrated on the Sunday and Monday prior to the Lenten Season, with the traditional trick being to throw flour at one’s friends.

In spite of the “modern” origins of the day, many historians agree that the day has clearly ancient roots. We are told that ancient cultures, including those as varied as the Romans and the Hindus, celebrated New Year’s Day on April 1. The Encyclopedia Britannica points out:

“What seems certain is that it is in some way or other a relic of those once universal festivities held at the vernal equinox, which, beginning on old New Year’s Day, the 25th of March, ended on the 1st of April. This view gains support from the fact that the exact counterpart of April-fooling is found to have been an immemorial custom in India. The festival of the spring equinox is there termed the feast of Huli, the last of which is the 31st of March, upon which the chief amusement is the befooling of people by sending them on fruitless errands.”

Other sources tell us that throughout antiquity, numerous festivals included celebrations of foolery and trickery. One source, “April Fool’s Day: Early Roots,” gives the following noteworthy report:

“The Saturnalia, a Roman winter festival observed at the end of December, was the most important of these [celebrations of trickery]. It involved dancing, drinking, and general merrymaking. People exchanged gifts, slaves were allowed to pretend that they ruled their masters, and a mock king, the Saturnalicius princeps (or Lord of Misrule), reigned for the day. By the fourth century AD the Saturnalia had been transformed into January 1 New Year’s Day celebration, and many of its traditions were incorporated into the observance of Christmas… Northern Europeans observed an ancient festival to honor Lud, a Celtic god of humor. And there were also popular Northern European customs that made sport of the hierarchy of the Druids… During the Middle Ages, a number of celebrations developed which served as direct predecessors to April Fool’s Day. The most important of these was the Festus Fatuorum (the Feast of Fools) which evolved out of the Saturnalia. On this day (mostly observed in France) celebrants elected a mock pope and parodied church rituals. The church, of course, did its best to discourage this holiday, but it lingered on until the sixteenth century. Following the suppression of the Feast of Fools merrymakers focused their attention on Mardi Gras and Carnival.”

The same source states this regarding the “modern” origin of “April Fool’s Day”:

“The calendar change hypothesis might provide a reason for why April 1st specifically became the date of the modern holiday. But it is clear that the idea of the springtime festival honoring misrule and mayhem had far more ancient roots. In addition, the process by which the observance of the day spread from France to Protestant countries such as Germany, Scotland, and England is left unexplained by this theory. These nations only adopted the calendar change during the eighteenth century, at a time when the tradition of April Foolery had already been well established throughout Europe. Finally, it is not clear what, if any, primary evidence (i.e. first-hand accounts written during the 16th and 17th centuries) supports the theory. The link between the calendar change and April 1st appears to be based on modern conjecture rather than archival research. Therefore, while the theory remains a possibility, it should not be treated as a fact.”

A German source, “Faz.Net,” points out that neither the Jews nor the Muslims participate in the custom of April Fool’s Day. Tagesschau.de wrote on April 1, 2002, that there are 800 theories regarding the origin of “April Fool’s Day,” and stated that the Catholic Church “has no problem” with its celebration. Dr. Manfred Becker-Huberti explained: “Even though the first April prank has only been recorded in Germany in 1631, the custom seems to be much older. It can be found amongst all Indo-Germanic tribes… One possible origin can be found in the Roman feast of Quirinalia, or of the Indian feast of Huli, during which fools cast out winter and demons. The best explanation is that it derives from a spring festival, like the German “Fastnacht” [“Fastnacht” is part of the German Carnival. The original “Fastnacht” was also celebrated for the purpose of casting out winter and demons]… In honor of [the Greek goddess] Venus, a feast of deception was celebrated in the spring. April 1 was her special day, and that is the reason why she was also called ‘Aprilis.’ The name of the Indian goddess of love, ‘Maja,’ has the meaning of ‘deception.'”

The Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, by James Hastings, points out:

“The origin of the practice is obscure… it was widely prevalent at the close of the 16th century. It seems difficult, therefore, to accept the theory that it was due to the transference of New Year’s Day from the First of April to the First of January… The similarity of the fooling in India and the Celtic lands of Western Europe, taken together with affinities in religion and folklore… points to a common origin in very early times… The First of April was kept in ancient Rome as the Feast of Venus and Fortuna Virilis… It is to some Celtic form of this worship of Venus on the First of April that the origin of All Fools’ Day must be traced… All Fools’ Day may therefore be the relic of a Spring Festival of Llew [a Sun-god of Celtic mythology].”

Even though the roots of April Fool’s Day may not be known precisely, the evidence strongly indicates that it is of pagan origin and that it was even celebrated as part of pagan worship services. We are told, however, in Jeremiah 10:2-3, that we are not to learn the ways of the Gentiles, as they are useless and in vain. In addition, God condemns foolish jesting in Ephesians 5:4, where we read, in the Authorized Version, that neither “foolish talking, nor jesting” should be named among us.

We are admonished in God’s Word not to behave like “fools.” Proverbs 10:23 reads, in the AV: “It is as sport to a fool to do mischief: but a man of understanding hath wisdom.”

An additional warning against participating in April Fool’s Day celebrations and activities can be found in Proverbs 26:18-19:

“Like a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death, Is the man who deceives his neighbor, And says, ‘I was only joking!'”

Considering all the evidence of the origin of April Fool’s Day, as it has become available to us, as well as the very nature of the celebrations and activities accompanying that Day, we must conclude that true Christians should refrain from participating in it.

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