Update 144


The Truth – Part II

On Saturday, May 22, 2004, Edwin Pope will be giving the sermon, titled, “The Truth – Part II”.

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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What's Wrong?

by Dave Harris

Do you ever get the sense that something is wrong?

Many parents have that peculiar talent to know when their kids are up to something. When we were very young, we often did things that we should not have done. Inevitably, Mom and Dad seemed to find out, and we got caught. As we grew, we became a little more adroit at doing things our way, but even then our parents, friends, teachers and others could generally read us. If we were willing to listen, we often found the help we needed to solve our problems.

Many husbands and wives become so attuned to one another that they seem to spontaneously recognize when one or the other is even a little bit preoccupied with stressful problems. The conversation usually goes, “what’s wrong?”–the answer too often is, “nothing!” However, in good marriages, that thin, self-isolating veneer often vanishes when one mate sincerely engages the other in loving concern.

It is comforting to have people in our lives who care deeply about us and who can tell when we are troubled–when something IS wrong. In fact these relationships in both early and adult life teach us to rely on the wisdom and counsel of others. That is what Christians must do as well! When things go wrong or when we face overwhelming circumstances, we can turn to God for His mercy and His guidance.

Christians are called upon to live their lives as shining examples in a world in which so much is wrong. We are called upon to be peacemakers in a world that is at war with itself. Vile, unspeakable acts of violence have filled the world in this generation. Even among those nations which enjoy some modicum of stability, it seems that morality is now being overrun with cancerous depravity from within.

Long ago, God caused to be recorded this evaluation of His people, Israel: “…everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). God has also spoken of our time, today: “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: for men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away” (2 Timothy 3:1-5)!

All along, God has told mankind what’s wrong! He has gone a step further by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to show us how we should live. Added to that, God has given–to those who repent of their sins and are baptized–His Holy Spirit. If we who are Christians avail ourselves of God’s great love, we can overcome the wrong, and we can live, more and more, in a way that is right–that is, righteously!

God is very interested in each one of us. So closely and intimately does He watch over us that He knows our needs even before we do (Compare Matthew 6:25-32). He knows when something is wrong with us.

Peter understood that Christians in this age of Satan’s reign would suffer: “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you” (1 Peter 4:12). He continues with this most important reminder for when we find ourselves in this kind of tough situation: “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (5:6-7).

Paul adds this perspective for us: “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us” (Romans 8:31)?

Sometimes, things do go wrong, and all of us must deal with these personal tests. If we have been building our spiritual house well, then we not only will have friends and family, but we also will have loving brethren in the Church of God to help in times of need. Most importantly, we do have our Father and our elder Brother, Jesus, to help us.

Let’s all make sure that we allow others to help us when they can, and, especially, we must seek the sure help that is always available to those called according to God’s will: “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

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Reuters reported on May 14, 2004:

“The Vatican warned Catholic women on Friday to think hard before marrying a Muslim and urged Muslims to show more respect for human rights, gender equality and democracy. Calling women ‘the least protected member of the Muslim family,’ it spoke of the ‘bitter experience’ western Catholics had with Muslim husbands, especially if they married outside the Islamic world and later moved to his country of origin. The comments in a document about migrants around the world… said the Church discouraged marriages between believers in traditionally Catholic countries and non-Christian migrants.

“It hoped Muslims would show ‘a growing awareness that fundamental liberties, the inviolable rights of the person, the equal dignity of man and woman, the democratic principle of government and the healthy lay character of the state are principles that cannot be surrendered.’ When a Catholic woman and Muslim man wanted to marry, it said, ‘bitter experience teaches us that a particularly careful and in-depth preparation is called for.’ It said one possible problem was with Muslim in-laws and advised future mothers that they must insist on Church policy that children born of a mixed marriage be baptized and brought up as Catholics.”

The article continued:

“Pope John Paul has broken ground in dialogue with Muslims and even prayed in a mosque in Damascus. He won plaudits in the Muslim world for his strong opposition to the Iraq war. But Vatican officials and leading Catholic prelates have expressed increasingly critical views about the spread of Islam and the challenge this poses for Catholicism.”


According to an article by the Associated Press on Friday, May 14, 2004, “Austrians Praise Schwarzenegger in U.S.”
The article stated: “When Austrians vent about the United States, the key word nowadays is ‘no’ to things American, with only a few exceptions — including praise of Arnold Schwarzenegger. ‘Except for Arnie, that country has a real problem,’ says Robert Biber, echoing sentiments across Austria roused by images of U.S. soldiers abusing Iraqi prisoners. ‘How can anyone ever believe them again when they say they are the guardians of democracy and fairness?’

“With its foreign policy and pop culture clout, the United States’ overwhelming world presence has left Austrians and other Europeans dependent on — but mildly resentful of — their trans-Atlantic ally for decades. The invasion of Iraq and perceptions of a blatantly pro-Israeli Middle East policy heightened that unease over the past year. But it took the prisoner abuse scandal to turn the love-hate relationship into outright anti-American sentiment.

The article continued: “The Republican governor’s father was a member of the Nazi party, but the bodybuilder-turned-actor-turned-politician has always distanced himself from that part of his background. On a recent visit to Israel, he described Austria as ‘a country where we have seen a history of prejudice that resulted in terrible atrocities.’ Official Austria has turned in the past two decades from depicting itself as a victim of Hitler to acknowledging its major role in the Holocaust.”


As the San Diego Union Tribune reported on May 14, 2004, “The Roman Catholic bishop of Colorado Springs has issued a pastoral letter saying that Catholic Americans should not receive Communion if they vote for politicians who defy church teachings by supporting abortion rights, same-sex marriage, euthanasia or stem-cell research. Several U.S. bishops have warned that they will deny Communion to Catholic politicians [such as Senator John Kerry, a Catholic who has consistently favored abortion rights] who fail to stand with the church, but Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs is believed to be the first to say he would extend the ban to Catholic voters.”


Der Spiegel Online, Bild Online and Focus Online published very disturbing articles to the effect that American and British soldiers might have tortured Iraqi prisoners to death. Focus Online stated that the information has been obtained from Amnesty International, and that at least four Iraqis were tortured to death. Der Spiegel Online conducted its own investigation and broadcast its findings on Sunday, May 16, on German television (over RTL). The 10 minute report has been posted, in German, on the Website of Der Spiegel Online. The report showed pictures of an Iraqi prisoner who died in American custody. The pictures appeared to show drastic signs of torture. The reporter interviewed an Iraqi who claimed to have been a witness of the alleged torture. Der Spiegel Online stated in its report that they had asked the Pentagon for comments, but that the Pentagon did not respond.

Focus Online stated in its article that the reputation of President Bush has reached an all-time low in Germany. According to a national poll, 75% of all Germans have little or no confidence in President Bush. In addition, only 12% have a positive impression of the United States, while 44% have a negative impression. 69% think that U.S. influence on German politics, economy and culture is too high, while only 4% think that the influence is appropriate. 47% feel that the American torture of Iraqi prisoners is the main reason for the negative German impression of America.


The Scotsman reported on May 15, 2004:

“British troops in southern Iraq are braced for a fresh wave of suicide bombings after the country’s holiest Shia shrine was damaged in fierce fighting between United States troops and supporters of the rebel cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in the city of Najaf. Sadr’s representative in Basra, Sheikh Abdul-Sattar al-Bahadli, said he would form suicide squads to carry out attacks against coalition forces, and urged residents to register for the squads. In the British-run city of Amarah, a Sadr representative, Farqad al-Mousawi, warned Iraqi police and civil defence corps members that they risked assassination if they helped coalition soldiers fight the cleric’s Mahdi militia. Fighting erupted in the heart of Najaf early yesterday morning as US commanders finally lost patience with Sadr and ordered troops backed by tanks and helicopter gunships to assault his stronghold in the Iraqi holy city. Despite weeks of warnings from British commanders that an attack on the shrine of Imam Ali, Shiite Muslims’ most sacred site, could trigger widespread unrest throughout southern Iraq, the golden dome of the mosque was hit several times as US forces and militia traded fire.”

On May 17, 2004, it was reported that the chief of the Iraqi Governing Council was assassinated in a homicide car bombing Monday near a U.S. checkpoint in central Baghdad. Six other people apparently died in the blast; one of them apparently the bomber, according to a doctor at Yarmouk Hospital. Six Iraqis and two U.S. soldiers were injured in the explosion near the U.S.-led coalition headquarters, according to Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt. Three cars waiting in line at the headquarters were destroyed. Meanwhile, fighting between coalition troops and insurgents — particularly those who are part of radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s army — continued in the southern cities of Nasiriyah, Karbala and Najaf, according to Fox News. The news agency stated: “Meanwhile, fighting persisted the Shiite heartland in southern Iraq, where American jets bombed militia positions in the city of Nasiriyah early Monday after fighters loyal to al-Sadr, the radical cleric, drove Italian forces out of a base there. Residents said seven fighters were killed in overnight battles.”


On May 14, 2004, nationalreview.com published an interesting editorial by Rich Lowry, titled, “The Other Prison Outrage.” In it, he stated: “If we insist on having an orgy of self-flagellation about the prison abuses at Abu Ghraib, we might as well gain something from it. That something [should be] reform of the ongoing scandal that is the U.S. prison system… Our prisons… tend to be pits of sexual violence, madness, and drug abuse. They are at once too brutal and too lax. Fixing them is not something we owe the international community or anyone else — besides ourselves… How do we improve our prisons? The most important change has to be in our attitude… A message should be sent from the very top, i.e. governors, that the abuse of prisoners, by fellow inmates or by guards, will not be tolerated. It is especially important that… acts of abuse by guards be punished, even if powerful look-the-other-way prison-guard unions don’t like it. Overcrowding, which overwhelms guards… should be alleviated. Meanwhile, as criminal-justice expert Eli Lehrer argues, while prisoners are under our control we might as well try to do some good for them. Work programs in prison can get prisoners in the habit of working and reduce recidivism. More than ten percent of prisoners test positive for drugs at any given time. Coercive treatment programs should attempt to wean them of addiction. Finally, prisoners tend to be simply dumped on the streets when they are released. More intensive post-prison monitoring can help keep them from going back. It is understandable that Abu Ghraib has raised such an outcry. The abuses there will get more American soldiers killed. But there is something odd about a country that gets more exited about the treatment of foreign prisoners than the treatment of its own.”


On May 15, 2004, WorldNetDaily published an article about the terrible school system in many public schools in the United States, titled, “U.S. Public Schools: Where Rebellion Rules.” In the article, it was pointed out:

“This past week, a nationwide survey was released showing how rowdy and undisciplined students are interrupting the learning environment in many public schools… Yet, what makes this situation in today’s public schools different from the previous classroom environments in American history is how parents are now supporting the behavior of their unruly children… Yet, discipline is required! In a proper learning environment, students must be disciplined. For a teenager especially, they need to hear who’s boss. When teachers let up, the classroom transforms from a learning environment into a rowdy circus… Adding to these problems is a society that exalts rebellion. Teens pick this up in the lyrics streaming through speakers, the tube in the living room and the flicks projected onto the wide screen. America’s young people also pick this up from uninvolved parents. The very reason some teens are unruly is because their parents aren’t involved. More than that, because their parents are not involved, many don’t want to deal with the punishment, so they allow their kids to continue. The key aspect of this breakdown is how some parents will back their unruly kids up with litigation — which is setting precedents that will begin to turn schools into completely unproductive institutions… Whatever the case, the exaltation of rebellion in the life of an average teen, the teachers who won’t or can’t discipline, the uninvolved parents and the legal support of disruptive students are all breaking down American schools. When will it end?”

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Did the Pharaoh of the time of the Exodus drown in the Red Sea?

Several have asked this question, especially in light of inconsistent teachings of the Church of God in the past on this matter. First of all, let us try to determine who the Pharaoh of the Exodus was. Some believe that the Exodus took place around 1290 B.C. and have concluded that Ramses the Great was the Pharaoh who resisted Moses. However, Ramses ruled a full century and a half later than the Exodus occurred.

Quoting from a Good News article of the March-April 1988 edition:

“A careful consideration of all biblical and extra-biblical evidence reveals that the Exodus occurred in the middle of the 15th century B.C. — specifically, in the year 1443, during the reign of Amenhotep II, whose tomb Loret excavated. He was the pharaoh who ruled… when the Egyptians would not let Israel go. This year — 1443 — was 430 years after the covenant with Abraham, made in the spring of 1873 B.C. (Genesis 17:1, Exodus 12:40-41, Galatians 3:17). And it was in the 480th year before the laying of the foundation of the Temple in Solomon’s fourth year (964 B.C.), as required by I Kings 6:1… Moses (born in 1523) was brought up as a prince of this ruling family [of Dynasty XVIII, inaugurated by Pharaoh Ahmose about 1570 B.C. Amenhotep II — a descendant of Ahmose — was the sixth pharaoh of this dynasty.] The ‘daughter of Pharaoh’ (Exodus 2:5) [was] Hatshepsut. She was the daughter of Pharaoh Thutmose I, a son-in-law of Ahmose… Thutmose — perhaps the greatest of the pharaohs of ancient Egypt — would therefore be the biblical ‘pharaoh of the oppression.’ In 1483 B.C., Moses was exiled from Egypt by this Thutmose upon the death of Hatshepsut, Moses’ foster mother and protector… Upon the death of Thutmose in 1450, Amenhotep II assumed the sole leadership of the country.”

According to the Good News article, it was Amenhotep II who was the Pharaoh of the Exodus. It was stated that Egyptian history reveals that he himself was not a firstborn. Likewise, his son and successor, Thutmose IV, was not Amenhotep’s firstborn son, either.

The Good News article continued: “Contrary to the common notion about the Pharaoh of the Exodus, Amenhotep II did not drown in the Red Sea with his army. Read carefully Exodus 14:23-32. Ancient records reveal that Amenhotep II’s reign lasted no less than into his 26th year… Sixteen of those 26 years followed the Exodus. Upon Amenhotep’s death in 1425, he was interred like his ancestors in the Valley of the Kings. There he lay undisturbed until Loret’s discovery in 1898.”

The concept that the Pharaoh of the Exodus did not drown is in conflict with the Church of God’s earlier teaching. In the original “The Bible Story,” published in 1962 by the Radio Church of God, it is stated in Volume 2, on page 86, that Pharaoh perished in the Red Sea. It was stated that he shouted a command to his soldiers “from the floor of the Red Sea,” which “was one of the last sentences Pharaoh uttered.” On page 87, it is stated that “This was the abrupt end of the man who had planned to wipe out the people God had chosen for a special task in His plan for things to come.” We note that in the revised version of “The Bible Story,” published in 1982 by the Worldwide Church of God, all these statements were omitted, and the statement of the “abrupt end of the man” had been altered, as follows: “Thus was the sudden end of the army of the man who had schemed to wipe out a people God had chosen for a special task in His plan for the future” (Vol. 1, p. 171).

Upon a careful examination of the Good News article, which had been published in 1988, we must conclude that it does not stand up to Biblical scrutiny. If we just look at Exodus 14, it is true that it is not stated expressly that Pharaoh drowned. We read that God “will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, his chariots, and his horsemen” (verse 18); that God looked down on “the army of the Egyptians,” and that He “troubled the army of the Egyptians” (verse 24); that the LORD “overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea (verse 27); and that “the waters returned and covered the chariots, the horsemen, and all the army of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them. Not so much as one of them remained” (verse 28).

Although the implication is certainly conveyed in Exodus 14, that Pharaoh drowned with his army, the passage does not say so expressly. However, there are additional Scriptures to consider. We read, for example, in Psalm 136:13-15: “To Him who divided the Red Sea in two, For His mercy endures forever; And made Israel pass through the midst of it, For His mercy endures forever; But overthrew PHARAOH AND HIS ARMY [not just Pharaoh’s army] in the Red Sea, For His mercy endures forever.”

Some claim that the Hebrew word for “overthrew” (“naar”) means “shook off” and that, therefore, it does not prove that Pharaoh actually drowned. This observation is without merit. The same word is used in Exodus 14:27, where we read, “So the Lord overthrew (in Hebrew, “naar”) the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.” As the Egyptians in the midst of the sea clearly drowned, when God overthrew them, and “none of them remained” (verse 28), it is illogical to say that somehow Pharaoh did not drown when God overthrew him. Please note, too, that Psalm 136:15 states that God overthrew Pharaoh AND HIS ARMY in the Red Sea — so, to make a distinction here between Pharaoh and his army is just a human attempt to reinterpret Scripture. The word “naar” is an unusual word and conveys the analogy of “a contemptuous rejection of a reptile” (Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, “Commentary on the Whole Bible,” comment on Psalm 136:15).

The clear intent of Psalm 136:15 has also been understood by many other translators. For instance, the New International Version says: “…but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea.” (Similar the Revised English Bible and the New American Bible). The New Jerusalem Bible states: “And drowned Pharaoh and all his army.” Moffat puts it this way: “and drowned the Pharaoh and his host.” Virtually all German translations clearly convey the meaning that God killed or drowned Pharaoh and his army, by throwing them into the Red Sea (Luther; Elberfelder; Menge; Zuecher; Pattloch). Any honest reading of this passage will have to agree with this. The Broadman Bible commentary says: “He is the one who cleaved the Red Sea in two, brought Israel through it, then pushed Pharaoh and his army into it.”

Psalm 136:15 does not give any room for the assumption that the Pharaoh of the Exodus did not drown.

IF, therefore, the conclusion is correct that Amenhotep II WAS the Pharaoh of the Exodus, we are faced with the question why his tomb could be discovered in the Valley of the Kings. The answer to that question is rather easy. We read in Exodus 14:30: “Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashores.” Based on this observation, we could conclude that Pharaoh’s dead body was washed to the seashore and that Egyptians buried him in the Valley of the Kings.

Another question is raised by the statement that Amenhotep II ruled for another 16 years after the Exodus, before he died. However, the Scriptures cannot be broken, that is, we cannot use “historical records,” that are in apparent contradiction with God’s Word, to reinterpret or change God’s Word, to make it fit with those records. The Bible is clear that the Pharaoh of the Exodus drowned. This means that, either, Amenhotep II was NOT the Pharaoh of the Exodus, OR, that he did NOT continue to rule for 16 years AFTER the Exodus. The Good News article, quoted above, only states, without giving any source material, that “ancient records reveal that Amenhotep II’s reign lasted no less than into his 26th year (This has been corroborated by a wine jar docket dated in his 26th year that was discovered in Egypt near the beginning of this century.).”

We are not told what those ancient records are, and whether they are precise in their dating, and whether this dating corresponds with the years, as we would count them today. Further, the accuracy of a precise dating of a jar docket must also be questioned. Recent discoveries have established, for example, that the methods used for dating, are many times rather imprecise, and cannot possibly be considered as absolutely accurate, when talking about a 20 year time span of more than 3,400 years ago.

In conclusion, the Biblical record establishes that the Pharaoh of the Exodus drowned in the Red Sea.

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