Update 287


Abomination of Desolation

On March 31, 2007, Norbert Link will use the time for the sermonette and announcements to emphasize, among other things, the need to examine ourselves, individually and collectively, prior to Passover.

Bill Grams will give the sermon, titled, “Abomination of Desolation.”

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.

On Sunday evening, April 1, 2007, is Passover.

On Monday evening, April 2, 2007, is the Night to Be Much Observed.

On Tuesday, April 3, 2007, is the First Day of Unleavened Bread. Dave Harris will give the sermon in the morning, titled, “Understand Why!” Norbert Link will give the sermon in the afternoon, titled, “How Do You Look At Sin?”

The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at 9:00 am and 2:00 pm Pacific Time (which is 11:00 am and 4:00 pm Central Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

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Prepare for Passover

by Norbert Link

Are you discouraged? Are you frustrated and doubtful–perhaps so much so that you–a baptized member of the Church–are wondering whether you should partake of the annual Passover service this year? Are you tempted to give up?

At the same time, do you neglect to analyze your life–how you are doing?

The few remaining days prior to Passover especially are a time of self-reflection and analysis. The letter to the Hebrews helps us in meeting this challenge. In that epistle, Paul gives all of us life-saving admonitions and encouragement. He begins in Hebrews 2:1, by uttering this sober warning: “Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.”

Paul cautions us not to take the truth of God for granted. Rather, we are to take great pains to retain and apply what we have been taught from God’s Word. It IS possible just to drift–to lose interest in God’s Way of Life–to find, instead, pleasure and excitement in what this world has to offer.

Paul asks us to consider very carefully our own persuasion and conviction, as well as the consequence of neglecting what we believe, know and understand, when he poses the question, “… how shall we escape if we NEGLECT so great a salvation?” (Hebrews 2:3). He warns us not to harden our hearts towards God’s teaching, especially during times of trial (Hebrews 3:8); not to “become weary and discouraged” (Hebrews 12:3); not to develop “an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God” (Hebrews 3:12); and not to “refuse Him who speaks” (Hebrews 12:25).

Because–it IS possible to neglect God’s Word; to begin to disobey Him and to reject the truth; and to depart from God. Unfortunately, MANY–over the centuries–have done just that; and Paul warns us not to follow their bad and deadly example. He encourages us to “be DILIGENT to enter that rest” of the Kingdom of God, “lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience” (Hebrews 4:11). He repeats the same warning and encouragement in Hebrews 6:11-12: “And we desire that each one of you show the same DILIGENCE to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish [or “lazy”]…”

Have you become sluggish or lazy, in studying God’s Word, applying what you understand, and obeying His voice? Or, are you diligently and continuously doing your job as a Christian? It is easy to become sluggish in respect to regular prayer, Bible study, meditation and occasional fasting. And the more we neglect these vital ingredients of a Christian life, the more we WILL develop a HABIT of neglect–until we might not be willing any more to listen to God’s Word, as explained to us by His ministers.

That is an awfully dangerous trap into which one can fall.

Paul admonishes us in Hebrews 10:35-36: “Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of ENDURANCE, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise.” He continues to encourage us in Hebrews 12:1: “… to lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with ENDURANCE the race that is set before us.”

Some brethren did not want to hear Paul’s admonition and warning, as some today may not want to read the words of this Editorial. But rather than refusing to hear, Paul encourages us today, as he encouraged the brethren at his time: “And I appeal to you, brethren, bear with the word of exhortation” (Hebrews 13:22).

We must examine ourselves to see whether our heart is right with God. And if it is, we can and will find help in times of need, as Paul clearly says: “… let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:22; compare Hebrews 4:16).

We can and should encourage each other in the process of our perfection (compare Hebrews 10:24-25). We should be “looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God” (Hebrews 12:15). And so, Paul was confident that “we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul” (Hebrews 10:39).

Some, however, did fall away during Paul’s time; many did over the centuries; and some will still fall away before Christ returns. Let us therefore examine ourselves truthfully and with brutal honesty. And after “having done all to stand” (Ephesians 6:13), let us eat the bread and drink the wine this Sunday evening, symbolizing the body and blood of Jesus Christ’s supreme Sacrifice. When we do, we come “to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel” (Hebrews 12:24); and we ask God the Father to make us complete, “who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant” (Hebrews 13:20).

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This past weekend, Europe celebrated its 50th anniversary in Germany’s capital, Berlin. Whether people hate or love it–ridicule or admire it–the world has never seen anything like it in recent history. Bible prophecy predicted thousands of years ago that we will experience in these last days a powerful European Union, ultimately consisting of 10 nations or GROUPS of nations.

All critics notwithstanding, this is PREDESTINED to happen. In fact, the Bible predicted that it would be the last or final revival of the ancient ROMAN Empire! We are seeing the BEGINNINGS of a modern unified continental Europe developing RIGHT NOW in front of our very eyes. The Bible also says that when these things occur, the RETURN OF JESUS CHRIST is fast approaching!

Incredible Achievements

On March 23, The Wall Street Journal published an article by Mr. Trichet, president of the European Central Bank:

“Is there today a better symbol of peaceful European unity than the single currency, the euro, shared by 13 countries, 317 million fellow citizens and a single market across the whole continent?… the most important milestone for European integration was the Treaty of Rome, signed 50 years ago this Sunday. The choice of Rome was symbolic. For a long time, the ‘Eternal City’ symbolized a united Europe… The Treaty of Rome was an unlikely achievement… Europe has achieved even more than the founding fathers of the Treaty of Rome could have hoped for… The Union has also moved into new areas, such as foreign policy, and police and judicial affairs.

“Europe has crowned its single market with a single currency… today our 317 million fellow citizens of the euro area walk around with a little piece of Europe in their pockets… We will never know how a Europe without the euro would have weathered events such as 9/11, the bursting of the high-tech bubble or the oil shock. Under the roof of the euro, we had no intra-European turbulence… Europe is both old and new. It has the wisdom of a 2,000-year experience and the energy of a 50-year entity, which is extremely young in historical terms… And I am confident Europe will surmount its present political difficulty as it has done in the past.”

European Unification will not stand still, nor will it be complacent with just economic progress. And as the following articles will show, it becomes more and more obvious–as predicted in the Holy Scriptures–that Germany will be leading the United Europe, and that Britain will NOT be a part of it.

A European Army

The Times wrote on March 24:

“Angela Merkel got Europe’s 50th birthday weekend off to a controversial start yesterday when she said that the creation of a European army should be a key goal in its next 50 years… Mrs Merkel said that peace could not be taken for granted despite Western Europe’s longest period without internal conflict and suggested that a common army could help to bind countries closer together. Her suggestion was shot down immediately by Britain.”

It is VERY unlikely that it will take Europe 50 years to create a European army. The Bible strongly indicates that a European army will be in existence much sooner than that.

Der Spiegel Online added in this regard, on March 23:

“The idea of a European military force is not a new one. Indeed, the EU has been attempting to intensify its cooperation on foreign policy for years. The EU constitution, which was torpedoed by France and the Netherlands in the spring of 2005, had envisioned creating the office of a European Minister for Foreign Affairs, and in autumn of 2006, Europe sent an EU force to help provide security for elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Still, the idea of European countries sending troops abroad as part of an EU force remains a controversial one.”

Was It Foreseeable?

Der Spiegel Online quoted Angela Merkel, as follows:

“Europe should also be proud that it offers ‘freedom, the rule of law, and security for almost 500 million people in Europe. Who would have predicted that, 50 years ago?'”

In fact, the BIBLE did predict this more than 2,000 years ago–and the Church of God, under its late Pastor General, Herbert W. Armstrong, has announced this very initial development for more than the last 50 years. However, the face of a peaceful Europe will change in due course. People did not listen in the past to God’s true ministers–will they listen now?

Britain Strongly Opposed

In spite of Tony Blair’s eggshell dance, opposition of the British people to a united Europe is well-known, and critical voices are increasing. On March 23, The Daily Mail published an article, titled: “50 years of surrender to the EU.” The British tabloid pointed out:

“The leaders of those six countries – Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands – who met in Rome 50 years ago were well aware that what they were setting in train was intended eventually to grow into something very much more than a mere ‘common market’. Even then, as we see from the documents of that time, they dreamed that it would be just the first step on the road to an eventual ‘European government’… Today’s European Union now has almost all the attributes of a fully-fledged state – its own flag, anthem and passport, its own ‘citizenship’ and currency, its own vast body of laws, governing almost every area of life. It is even on the way to establishing its own armed forces and police…

“For decades [the EU leaders] had been managing stealthily to take away the powers of national governments, without ever asking the peoples of Europe whether this was what they wanted… in no country, it appears, is the EU more unpopular than Britain… However unpopular the EU may have become, not just in Britain but all across Europe, we are stuck with this weird political construct, which now rules over our lives to a far greater extent than most people are aware of.

“One of the subtlest strategies employed by the EU, as it has gradually taken over more and more power from national governments, has been the way it has left each country’s national institutions in place. Monarchies and presidencies, national parliaments, civil services and legal systems have all been left standing, looking outwardly as if not very much has changed. Yet over the decades they have all been gradually hollowed out from within. Today, over vast areas of each country’s national life, the power to decide policies and make laws no longer lies in national capitals. It has been transferred to our new ‘supranational’ centre of government in Brussels. And the clever thing is how successfully most of this has been kept out of sight…

“Step by step we have seen our politicians handing over to this weird new system of government control over almost every aspect of our national life, from the power to decide who can come to live and work in Britain to the way our judges now have to interpret the law in our courts. What in fact we have witnessed over the past 50 years, has been in effect an immense, slow-motion coup d’etat. Our power to govern ourselves has been stealthily handed over to an entirely new kind of ‘supranational’ government, over which we no longer have any meaningful democratic say… Although half a century later it no longer enjoys the support of even half the 490 million people who must now live under it, it seems there is now nothing we can do to change it.”

Germany New Leader of Europe

In spite of criticism regarding the proposed EU Constitution, and even the “Berlin Declaration,” a two-page document about Europe’s success story, which was issued on Sunday, it has become clear that Angela Merkel and Germany have emerged as Europe’s leaders, expected to bring about further European unification. Bild Online wrote on March 25, “Merkel is now Miss Europe,” adding, “Europe listens to Merkel.”

The Herald Tribune wrote on March 25:

“Chancellor Angela Merkel took center stage of European politics Sunday, putting Germany back in the lead of European integration on a day that two of the bloc’s most controversial leaders probably attended their last EU summit meeting. Britain’s Tony Blair, an Atlanticist, is expected to leave office in May, and President Jacques Chirac of France, a Gaullist, announced last week that he would not be running for re-election when French voters elect a new president in two rounds of voting in April and May. Their exit from EU politics leaves Merkel as one of the few European leaders who might be able to bridge the differences between London and Paris that have divided the entire bloc. Over the past five years, Blair and Chirac have clashed bitterly over the U.S war in Iraq, the structure of the EU budget, particularly its large subsidies for agriculture, and the future shape of Europe. But together, they also advanced Europe’s defense policy…

“Merkel’s personal reminiscences, combined with a steely determination to make the EU more democratic, more efficient and united, confirm Germany’s rediscovery of its original role inside the EU. Fifty years ago, Merkel’s ideological mentor, Konrad Adenauer, was in Rome to sign the treaty. As Germany’s first chancellor after World War II, Adenauer embraced France to end the centuries of distrust that had so often proved destructive. It was no coincidence that throughout the public celebrations over the weekend – on Saturday night during a concert by the Berlin Philharmonic and Sunday during the signing of the Berlin Declaration – Chirac was seated beside Merkel.”

The Associated Press added on March 25:

“European leaders took a small but significant step Sunday toward overhauling the EU — and finally lifting the bloc out of two years of confusion and hand-wringing over its failed draft constitution. Politely but firmly nudged by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the assembled presidents and prime ministers vowed to seek a treaty establishing ‘a renewed common basis’ for the 27-member bloc before the next European Parliament elections in 2009. Merkel, who had made badgering phone calls right up to the end, urged… to quickly organize a conference that would come up with the treaty — whether a constitution or under some other name. She said leaders should agree [and ‘must decide’] on the terms of the conference at a June summit — before her six-month EU presidency ends.”

Europe’s Future Plans

AFP wrote on March 25:

“German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the current EU president, said it was time to plot the way forward after the knock-out blow Dutch and French voters dealt a draft constitution in referendums in 2005. ‘We (Germany) are going to do everything that we can to prepare a roadmap,’ charting the way out of the political impasse over the constitution, Merkel told reporters after signing the declaration. Such a move could allow Portugal, which takes over the EU’s six-month rotating presidency in July, to call a meeting of member states to start drawing up a new treaty by the end of the year, she said. The aim would be to implement it before the 2009 European Parliament elections, she added… in interviews with German television, Merkel warned of the consequences of a second failure for any proposed European constitution… If this hurdle was not crossed, she continued, decision on internal security and the fight against terrorism would have to be approved unanimously. ‘We would not even be able to say how many commissioners the next Commission will have — we would not be able to pursue a dynamic policy.'”

The EUObserver added on March 25:

“The EU has marked its 50th anniversary with the adoption of the Berlin declaration in a ceremony in the German capital which saw EU leaders solemnly rise to hear Europe’s semi-official anthem, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy. The anthem sounded through the German Historical Museum in Berlin which was packed with EU leaders, their wives and other EU VIPs on Sunday (25 March). The Berlin declaration was read out in a somewhat low-profile fashion by ex-German TV presenter Jo Brauner, while it was being signed by German chancellor Angela Merkel, current EU president, as well as European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso and European Parliament president Hans-Gert Poettering. All three signatories in their speeches used the occasion not only to look back on 50 years of ‘Europe’ since the 1957 Rome treaty – but also to give a clear political touch to the festive event by calling for a new EU treaty…

“Italy’s prime minister Romano Prodi, who spoke as the leader of the country where the Rome treaty was signed, gave the strongest pro-constitution speech. It was also in Rome where the disputed EU constitution was signed in 2004. ‘To continue building, we now need new rules, but not starting from zero,’ he said. ‘The treaty signed in Rome in October 2004 forms a very solid basis… a text signed by the 27 heads of state and ratified by 18 countries.'”

A United Europe–by the People for the People?

The Wall Street Journal wrote on March 26 about the methods which Europe uses to govern. The article pointed out:

“The trouble began with German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to draft the [Berlin] declaration in a style akin to classic 19th-century secret diplomacy. The Czech government complained that by Thursday it had seen just 40% of the text. Berlin’s covert operation contradicted the stated goal of producing a ‘people’s document,’ one that would be short and clear and express Europe’s common principles, values and challenges. Ms. Merkel eventually had to show her cards and it led to the usual compromises and obfuscations…

“In a newspaper interview last week, Ms. Merkel diagnosed a certain alienation between the EU and its citizens, the root cause of which she located in the people’s alleged impatience with the slow pace of decision making in Brussels. ‘To change that we need an EU constitutional treaty,’ she said. Come again? The chancellor wants to fight the citizens’ alienation by ignoring democratic votes that expressed that very alienation?

“The Dutch government, for one, didn’t think it was a good idea to defy its voters. And so the declaration was downgraded to say governments agreed to ‘placing the European Union on a renewed common basis before the European Parliament elections in 2009.’ So much for ‘short and clear.’ This is vague enough for both sides to claim victory. The constitution’s supporters will interpret the language as a coded go-ahead to push through the text within the next two years. For the skeptics, it is simply a reference to making institutional changes, such as streamlining voting procedures, that a larger EU requires.

“Absent, too, is any reference to further enlargement. The EU just expanded to 27 members and there is little appetite among some governments to let in more ‘foreigners.’ While Britain and Poland, for instance, would like to proceed, Germany and France are more wary, particularly of Turkey… the Berlin Declaration sounds more like a call for the kind of ‘privileged partnership’ Ms. Merkel is fond of offering to Turkey in lieu of full membership.

“Just like the moribund constitution, the Berlin Declaration remains a godless document, literally. Proposals for an Invocation Dei, most loudly advocated by Poland, were rejected in secular Europe. Not even a reference to Europe’s Judeo-Christian heritage was allowed, even though that wouldn’t have been so much a call for God or religion as a simple statement of fact about the Continent’s cultural roots.

“The topics that made it into the text were less controversial — the euro, the common market, social responsibility, human dignity, equal rights, resolving global conflicts peacefully, fighting poverty and climate change. Also — and unusual for such documents in Europe — ‘the people’ made it into the declaration.

“‘We the citizens of the European Union have united for the better,’ the document pronounced in a rare nod to the voters (and, without acknowledging it, the U.S. Constitution). Even so, the leaders who speak for Europe’s citizens technically weren’t even speaking for themselves. The original plan was for all 27 leaders to sign the declaration. In the end, only the hostess, Ms. Merkel, and the heads of the European Parliament and Commission put their names under the text. It’s not that there wasn’t enough space for all the signatures on the dotted line. It has more to do with plausible deniability. Even after all the haggling and compromising, many governments were still uncomfortable with the text. Without the signatures, the nonbinding birthday card is even more nonbinding.”

Europe’s Confidential Talks

The EUObserver reported on March 25:

“Angela Merkel has said she will continue to apply her strategy of reviving the EU constitution by holding confidential talks with national officials, despite criticism that the strategy impedes democratic debate… The Merkel strategy consists of holding limited consultations with so-called sherpas – member states officials holding behind-closed-doors talks with the German EU presidency… [Merkel said:] ‘What I want to avoid is that every time there is a draft document, and when one of the 27 [member states] makes a small amendment, there has to be a broad debate on every single little change, that it becomes a matter of prestige… The real issue will be implementation. It is not good enough to have 27 signatories on a paper that cannot be implemented,’ the chancellor stated…

“Meanwhile, eurosceptic and pro-democracy groups are gearing up to fight any rapid resurrection of the EU constitution without citizens having a say in it… Law professor Karl Albrecht Schachtschneider, himself a strong opponent of the constitution, in 2005 filed a lawsuit against the charter… before Germany’s national constitutional court in Karlsruhe. The court said last October it would not rule on whether the EU constitution was compatible with the German constitution until after a final decision had been taken on the overall fate of the document. This ruling has impeded German president Horst Koehler from signing the ratification bill which was passed by the German parliament, with the president’s signature necessary for final ratification.”

A Permanent European President

The Daily Express wrote on March 25:

“Tony Blair is secretly backing plans to create a permanent President of Europe, in a move that could see him go head to head for the job with bitter rival Jacques Chirac. Senior Brussels sources revealed that Mr Blair was backing the idea as European leaders gathered in Berlin last night to mark the European Union’s 50th anniversary… Kim Darroch, Mr Blair’s personal envoy to the EU, has been told to use the negotiations to press for a permanent EU president to replace the current system, in which the presidency rotates among the member states every six months.

“The Prime Minister would be one of the favourites for the job, which would go to a former EU leader. His main rival would be the outgoing French president Jacques Chirac, who has clashed with Mr Blair over the future of Europe many times during the past decade.

“Supporters of the idea claim that a permanent president would provide greater continuity than the current system. Critics claim it would create a powerbase for greater EU centralisation on issues like foreign policy and defence. The president would be appointed by other EU leaders, rather than being directly elected. Neil O’Brien, director of the independent think tank Open Europe, warned that the new president would inevitably gain more powers as time went on.

“Mr O’Brien said: ‘It is very hard to see how the president would be accountable to the people.'”

Britain–The Sick Family of Europe

The Daily Mail wrote on March 19:

“Social breakdown has turned Britain into the ‘sick family of Europe’ and promises to be the major battleground for the next election, David Cameron warned yesterday. Creaking public services, irresponsible parents and rampant crime have stretched society to breaking point, the Tory leader said… Recalling the criticisms levelled at Britain in the 1970s before Lady Thatcher took over, Mr Cameron said: ‘It’s not that Britain is the sick man of Europe. We’re becoming the sick family of Europe… We’ve got a tax system that doesn’t recognise marriage. A benefits system that does recognise marriage but penalises it. In fact it penalises any form of commitment between two people. What sort of system is it that pays people to live apart? It’s got to change.'”

The Pope Speaks Out

On March 26, The Vatican Information Service quoted Pope Benedict XVI, as follows:

“If, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, the governments of the EU wish to ‘get closer’ to their citizens, how can they exclude such an essential element of European identity as Christianity, in which a vast majority of that people continue to identify themselves?… it is becoming ever more indispensable for Europe to avoid the pragmatic approach, so widespread today, that systematically justifies compromise on essential human values, as if the acceptance of a supposedly lesser evil were inevitable… In such a context protection must be afforded to conscientious objection [in cases where] fundamental human rights are violated… I know how difficult it is for Christians to defend this truth. … But do not tire and do not be discouraged! You know your task is to contribute to building, with God’s help, a new Europe, realistic but not cynical, rich in ideals and free of naive illusions, inspired by the perennial and life-giving truth of the Gospel.”

In addition, The Times reported on March 27:

“Hell is a place where sinners really do burn in an everlasting fire, and not just a religious symbol designed to galvanise the faithful, the Pope has said.  Addressing a parish gathering in a northern suburb of Rome, Benedict XVI said that in the modern world many people, including some believers, had forgotten that if they failed to ‘admit blame and promise to sin no more’, they risked ‘eternal damnation — the Inferno’. Hell ‘really exists and is eternal, even if nobody talks about it much any more’, he said. “

For a true understanding on the existence or non-existence of hell and an “eternal inferno,” please read our free booklet, “Do We Have an Immortal Soul?”

The US War Over Iraq Intensifies

The Associated Press reported on March 29:

“Senate Democrats ignored a veto threat and pushed through a bill Thursday requiring President Bush to start withdrawing troops from ‘the civil war in Iraq,’ dealing a rare, sharp rebuke to a wartime commander in chief. In a mostly party line 51-47 vote, the Senate signed off on a bill providing $122 billion to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also orders Bush to begin withdrawing troops within 120 days of passage while setting a nonbinding goal of ending combat operations by March 31, 2008… The Senate vote marked its boldest challenge yet to the administration’s handling of a war, now in its fifth year, that has cost the lives of more than 3,200 American troops and more than $350 billion. In a show of support for the president, most Republicans opposed the measure, unwilling to back a troop withdrawal schedule despite the conflict’s widespread unpopularity…

“The House, also run by Democrats, narrowly passed similar legislation last week. Party leaders seem determined that the final bill negotiated between the two chambers will demand some sort of timetable for winding down the war — setting them on course for a veto showdown with the president… Democrats acknowledge they do not have enough support in Congress to override Bush’s veto, but say they will continue to ratchet up the pressure until he changes course.”

Ridiculous German Poll–USA More Dangerous Than Iran

On March 29, Der Spiegel Online published a biting and well-considered article, by Claus Christian Malzahn, the magazine’s Berlin bureau chief, about German hypocritical feelings of Anti-Americanism. The magazine advocated an immediate course of re-education of the German mind:

“Forty-eight percent of Germans think the United States is more dangerous than Iran, a new survey shows, with only 31 percent believing the opposite. Germans’ fundamental hypocrisy about the US suggests that it’s high time for a new bout of re-education.

“The Germans have believed in many things in the course of their recent history… they believed that Jews should be placed into ghettos and concentration camps because they were the enemies of the people. Then they believed… that the Third Reich would ultimately be victorious… They believed that the Berlin Wall would be there forever and that their pensions were safe… They even believed in a German victory at the soccer World Cup. Now they believe that the United States is a greater threat to world peace than Iran. This was the by-no-means-surprising result of a Forsa opinion poll commissioned by Stern magazine. Young Germans in particular — 57 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds, to be precise — said they considered the United States more dangerous than the religious regime in Iran.

“The German political establishment, which will no doubt loudly lament the result of the poll, is largely responsible for this wave of anti-Americanism. For years the country’s foreign ministers fed the Germans the fairy tale of what they called a ‘critical dialogue’ between Europe and Iran. It went something like this: If we are nice to the ayatollahs, cuddle up to them a bit and occasionally wag our fingers at them when they’ve been naughty, they’ll stop condemning their women to death for ‘unchaste behavior’ and they’ll stop building the atom bomb. That plan failed at some point — an outcome, incidentally, that Washington had long anticipated. Iran continues to work away unhindered on its nuclear program, and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reacts to UN demands with an ostentatious show of ignorance. The UN gets upset and drafts a resolution.

“Another item on the Iranian president’s wish list is the annihilation of Israel. But that will take a bit longer. In the meantime, just to make sure it doesn’t get out of practice, the regime had 15 British soldiers kidnapped a few days ago. But it’s still all the Americans’ fault — that much is obvious…  Anti-Americanism is the wonder drug of German politics… Anti-Americanism is hypocrisy at its finest… Not a day passes in Germany when someone isn’t making the wildest claims, hurling the vilest insults or spreading the most outlandish conspiracy theories about the United States. But there’s no risk involved and it all serves mainly to boost the German feeling of self-righteousness…

“Today, when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad talks about a world without Israel while dreaming of an atom bomb, it seems obvious that we — as Germans of all people — should be putting two and two together. Why shouldn’t Ahmadinejad mean what he says? But we Germans only know what we believe.”

Russia and China–A New Power Bloc

AFP reported on March 27:

“China and Russia signed four billion dollars’ worth of trade deals on Tuesday during a visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao… ‘For Russia, China has always been one of the most important economic partners in the world, and throughout recent years our business ties have steadily grown and strengthened,’ Putin said… The presidents oversaw the signing of 21 contracts, including an agreement by Russian state oil company Rosneft to supply jet fuel to China and long-term export contracts for Russian steel products… China’s chief interest in Russia, meanwhile, is securing more oil and gas to meet its huge energy needs. The Chinese president took a step in that direction on Monday by securing an agreement for increased deliveries of Russian oil by rail… Hu and Putin also talked up diplomatic ties between their countries, which have taken closely aligned positions in talks meant to end North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme and stem Iran’s nuclear ambitions. In a joint declaration on Monday, the two presidents said the standoff over Iran’s nuclear programme ‘should be resolved exclusively in a peaceful way,’ and welcomed the ‘positive dynamic’ in six-party talks aimed at curbing North Korea’s nuclear programme.”

Crisis With Iran Deepens

Reuters reported on March 29:

“The U.S. navy said on Thursday it had ordered an aircraft carrier to the Gulf to replace one of two patrolling the region, as the United States winds down naval war games on Iran’s doorstep. The Nimitz carrier strike group will sail from San Diego for the Gulf on Monday, a navy spokesman told Reuters, to replace the Dwight D. Eisenhower, as tensions mount between Iran and the West over captured British troops and Iran’s nuclear program… Strike groups typically include four or five frigates and destroyers and a submarine…

“The Eisenhower and fellow carrier John C. Stennis took part in this week’s U.S. war games, the largest in Gulf waters since 2003, when the U.S. led an invasion of Iraq… For the first time since the Iraq invasion four years ago, two U.S. aircraft carriers were deployed in the Gulf… Earlier in the day, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned the U.S. not to aggravate tensions with Iran with its naval presence in the Gulf… In February Iran said it had tested missiles that could ‘sink big warships’ in the Gulf. Britain, which maintains its 15 sailors were within Iraqi waters when captured by Iranian forces, wants U.N. Security Council members to endorse a statement that would ‘deplore’ their detention.”

The USA Is Pressing the Issue

AFP reported on March 23:

“The United States wants to reach an agreement by the end of the year on deploying anti-missile defences in eastern Europe, a senior US official said Friday, amid strenuous Russian objections to the plan… A total of 10 interceptor missiles and their accompanying radar would be deployed by about 2010… Washington says the system is aimed at guarding Europe against potential threats from states like Iran and North Korea.

“But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the US plan threatened Russia and would undermine cooperation in the United Nations… In Poland, opposition leader Donald Tusk accused the government of caving in to US demands and ‘following policies without a clear vision of the consequences.’ [Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Mark] Pekala responded that the threat from Iran was ‘real and quite urgent’ as the Islamic republic ‘could have medium or long-range missile capacity to deliver a significant payload to parts of Europe or much farther by 2010 or 2015.’… Pekala said the Czech Republic and Poland were ‘strongly in favor’ of the system and of holding negotiations on the proposed deployment.”

Ethiopia Back in the News

AFP reported on March 22:

“Somali troops backed by Ethiopian tanks Thursday exchanged heavy mortar and machine-gun fire with insurgents for a second straight day in Mogadishu, leaving a trail of casualties and violence showing no sign of let-up… The latest fighting, in which Ethiopian tanks swung into action, was sparked by a government crackdown on the insurgents, many of whom are believed to be Islamists who have returned to the capital after being driven out with the help of Ethiopian forces late last year…

“Western intelligence agencies believe numerous Al-Qaeda operatives are hiding within the ranks of the Somali Islamists, a charge the Islamists vehemently reject. Early this month an Islamist website released an audio-taped message attributed to Ayro, who called on Somalis to attack and kill Ethiopian troops in Somalia.”

AFP reported on March 29:

“Seven Ethiopian soldiers were killed in heavy fighting on Thursday in the south of Mogadishu, and two of their bodies were dragged through the streets… Dozens of men and women pulled the bodies of two soldiers in the street, shouting ‘We will kill the Ethiopian troops’, while five other bodies in Ethiopian uniforms lay on the ground in the southern district of Shirkole. Nearby an Ethiopian military vehicle burned in the street. Loudspeakers had earlier transmitted calls for residents to come out and fight the Ethiopian troops backing Somalia’s transitional government… Ethiopian helicopters earlier fired missiles on mainly southern Mogadishu as heavy fighting across the Somali capital left 15 people dead in an offensive against insurgent fighters. The Ethiopians spearheaded the offensive, deploying tanks in neighbourhoods that have witnessed the most intense insurgent activity in recent months.”

Ethiopia–Future “King of the South”?

Daniel 11:40 speaks of a “king of the South,” at the time of the end, attacking or “pushing at” the “king of the North–a European power bloc. As we pointed out before, it is possible that this prophecy has ALREADY been fulfilled in its FINAL application. On the other hand, it is also possible that this prophecy is dual and still awaiting an ultimate fulfillment. In that case, based on Biblical and historical evidence, the future “king of the South” would be Ethiopia. The concept, which is taught by some, that it would be a confederation of Arab leaders, or Iraq, or Iran, does not seem to have any biblical or historical support.

In light of this conclusion, the article, as set forth below, contains several interesting pieces of information:

Der Spiegel Online wrote on March 28:

“Ethiopia’s Orthodox Christians are among the oldest Christian communities in the world. Their hymns and prayers have been preserved and passed down over the ages. But with its numerous religious holidays, the Christian tradition also worsens the country’s grinding poverty… Some 40 percent of the 68 million Ethiopians are Orthodox Christians… In the middle of the 4th century, King Ezana decided to become baptized. Just a few years later Christianity was proclaimed the state religion. Despite this, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church was headed for centuries by a metropolitan who was appointed by the Coptic patriarch of Alexandria. It wasn’t until the middle of the past century that the Ethiopian church became AUTONOMOUS and appointed its own patriarch in Addis Ababa. Alongside the 17 eparchies in Ethiopia, bishoprics in Nubia and in Jerusalem now fall under his aegis…

“The churches in Lalibela were built by a king of the same name – a contemporary of Genghis Khan and Barbarossa. He wanted to create a new Jerusalem, which Saladin reclaimed from the crusaders in 1187; denied access to the Holy Land, pilgrims from Ethiopia and the small Christian states along the Nile would be able to worship there. The stream bubbling past the city was christened the Jordan, and the hill overlooking it Mount Tabor… For centuries, Islamic conquests in neighboring regions isolated Ethiopia from the Christian world. Nevertheless, its Christian heritage – the prayers, the hymns and the liturgical language Ge’ez – was successfully preserved for centuries.

“The full glory of the Orthodox Eucharist is tangible in the churches of Lalibela, above all during the Timkat Festival which commemorates Christ’s baptism in the Jordan. On the eve of the event, underground processions wend their way to and through the churches, accompanied by the sound of bells and horns. Priests and deacons cloaked in beaded, darkhued velvet lead the way. On their heads they bear tabots, wooden tablets symbolizing the Ark of the Covenant. These are then placed in a large tent, outside which the faithful congregate, waiting the entire night to embrace the holy powers they believe invested in the tabots. The ritual is no less solemn or impressive than the anointing of a cardinal in the Vatican…

“The Orthodox calendar lists more than 150 holidays and 180 days of fasting, on which Christians are banned from working and limited to one meal… And the SABBATH is still celebrated in rural areas – a relic of the Salomonic dynasty which ruled Ethiopia from the 13th century and adopted numerous JEWISH CUSTOMS. The clergy in Addis Ababa, the country’s capital since the end of the 19th century, may be slowly losing its authority, but the priests in the highlands ENFORCE THE HOLIDAYS with an iron fist. Punishment inexorably follows any failure to comply. Not to mention the prospect of ending up in hell.

“Moreover, the church still DEFINES THE CALENDAR. The Ethiopian year has 12 months lasting 30 days, each plus five or six additional days. The patriarchy refuses to countenance change. The government has sought to adopt the modern Western calendar on several occasions, only to be stymied by the clergy. In practice, the separation of church and state has yet to be implemented. Christianity is also responsible for another phenomenon in Ethiopia: racial arrogance. Viewing their faith as SUPERIOR to Africa’s natural religions, Orthodox Christians regard themselves as a chosen people. In their minds, the portrayal – in the illustrations of the sacred books – of lighter-skinned people as the rulers of the Promised Land and the blacks as their servants is evidence of God’s will…

“Although the Organization for African Unity maintained its headquarters in Addis Ababa for decades and the African Union is now based there, Ethiopians do not see themselves as Africans…

“The Rastafarians from Shashemene, a small city 150 miles south of the capital, have escaped this discrimination; despite their color, they enjoy the full respect of the Christians. The Rastafarians established their colony in the 1960s, and some members later joined Ethiopia’s Orthodox Christian community. Their name is derived from the birth name of the Ethiopian emperor, Haile Selassie: Ras Tafari Makonnen. They revered him as the REINCARNATION OF JESUS CHRIST.”

Human “Science”–Where Will It End?

The Mail reported on March 24:

“Scientists have created the world’s first human-sheep chimera – which has the body of a sheep and half-human organs. The sheep have 15 per cent human cells and 85 per cent animal cells – and their evolution brings the prospect of animal organs being transplanted into humans one step closer… The process would involve extracting stem cells from the donor’s bone marrow and injecting them into the peritoneum of a sheep’s foetus. When the lamb is born, two months later, it would have a liver, heart, lungs and brain that are partly human and available for transplant…

“But the development is likely to revive criticisms about scientists playing God, with the possibility of silent viruses, which are harmless in animals, being introduced into the human race… Animal rights activists fear that if the cells get mixed together, they could end up with cellular fusion, creating a hybrid which would have the features and characteristics of both man and sheep.”

What April Fool’s Day Hoaxes May Do to Some

On March 29, AFP wrote about the ten “best” April Fool’s Day hoaxes. The following is a quite interesting one, as it shows how gullible people not only believe the hoax, but also imagine things, based on the hoax, which are simply non-existent:

“Noted British astronomer Patrick Moore announced on the radio in 1976 that at 9:47 am, a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event, in which Pluto would pass behind Jupiter, would cause a gravitational alignment that would reduce the Earth’s gravity. Moore told listeners that if they jumped in the air at the exact moment of the planetary alignment, they would experience a floating sensation. Hundreds of people called in to report feeling the sensation.”

Incredible Interest in UFOs

The Associated Press reported on March 23, that “some 100,000 documents on supposed UFOs and sightings of other unexplained phenomena” are published on the Internet by the “French space agency.”

The article continued:

“France is the first country to put its entire weird sightings archive online… The first batch of archives went up on the agency’s Web site this week, drawing a server-busting wave of traffic… The archive includes police and expert reports, witness sketches (some are childlike doodlings), maps, photos and video and audio recordings. In all, the archive has some 1,650 cases on record and about 6,000 witness accounts… Only 9 percent of France’s strange phenomena have been fully explained… Experts found likely reasons for another 33 percent, and 30 percent could not be identified for lack of information. Other cases were impossible to crack…

“Among the unexplained cases, one of the most perplexing concerned a 1994 Air France flight. While flying over the Paris region, the crew noticed a large brown-red disk hovering on the horizon and constantly changing shape. The case ‘has never been explained to this day, and leaves the door open to all possible hypotheses,’ the agency wrote.”

It is possible that the false and demonically-inspired belief in the existence of intelligent alien life forms will influence the armies of this world to decide to fight the returning Jesus Christ (Revelation 19:11-21)–perhaps believing in the appearance of a hostile invader from outer space.

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Why do you teach that true Christians should not observe Christian holidays such as Easter and Christmas?

We have published several pieces of literature on this misunderstood topic, including a booklet, titled, “Don’t Keep Christmas,” and an Editorial, in Update #89, on the celebration of Easter.

In this Q&A, we would like to include several additional reasons, which clearly prove that it is absolutely WRONG for a true Christian to celebrate these holidays. These additional reasons are adopted from Professor Philippe Walter’s book, “Christianity–the Origins of a Pagan Religion,” copyright 2003, 2006. Walter is professor of medieval French literature, and has published numerous books on the Middle Ages. In his above-cited book, Walter makes several startling statements about the real origins of Easter and Christmas, as well as their customs.

It has been well-known that Halloween was originally referred to as “Samhain” (compare our Q&A on Halloween). It is celebrated today by the Roman Catholic Church on November 1 as “All Saints’ Day.” That is the time, according to pagan belief, “when the beings of the Otherworld have temporary permission to visit the living and is also the moment when the living gain furtive access to the Otherworld” (Walter, page 35). Walter explains that pagans believed in the Otherworld “as a place of choice for ghosts and is primarily the world of fairies” (page 36).

Less known, however, is the fact that certain rites and customs, which are celebrated on Christmas and Easter, have the same pagan origin of a supernatural belief in ghosts and fairies that leave the Otherworld on those days to visit the living.

Walter explains on page 52:

“For Christians, Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus… The commemoration of Christ’s birth on December 25 resulted from seasonal and mythological associations to pagan beliefs that are older than Christianity.”

Walter continues to explain the pagan belief that by the end of December and on “New Year’s Day” (January 1), “fairies… enter the homes of those who worship them… One must take pains to prepare the meal that should be offered to them in a clean and isolated room… the meal with fairies is also held at the birth of certain predestined children. This is why fairies show up on the night of the birth of heroes… Thus it seems entirely natural to fix the Nativity of Christ on this night of the Mothers (or night of the fairies) on which the birth of profane heroes was already celebrated. The setting of Christmas on December 25 seems a clear association with the pagan custom of attaching the fairy repast to the birth of an exceptional individual” (Walter, pages 55-56).

Walter asks the question whether “the Midnight Mass [which is celebrated on Christmas in the middle of the night] supplanted the pagan rite of a communion meal with beings from the Otherworld. The common presence of bread and wine both in the fairies’ meal and in the rite of Christian Communion serves to underscore a reference to the same sacred rite” (page 55).

Walter also points out the seeming incongruity between Judaism and orthodox Christianity, when Christians slaughter pigs and eat their flesh, including on Christmas. He states on pages 93-94: “… the saint [Saint Anthony] has always been depicted accompanied by one of these animals. It is indeed quite paradoxical to see a pig accompanying a saint of Paradise, for the Bible and the Koran have found no virtue in this animal and have saddled it with the most extreme taboos. As heir to the Hebrew scriptures, Christianity should have followed Judaism on this point, yet it did not… Merlin is accompanied by piglets, and these animals become the seer’s confidants… in making Saint Anthony a guardian of swineherds, Christianity was merely transferring the old beliefs of Indo-European paganism.”

Walter continues to explain, beginning on page 60, that “Santa Claus.. is simply the good natured avatar of a mythical figure… the beneficent… fairy figure from the Otherworld who periodically visits men to give them gifts.”

Regarding “Saint Nicholas,” whose day is sometimes celebrated on December 6, but who “merged” with Santa Claus into one personage, Walter states on page 67:

“The folklore of Santa Claus (who became Father Christmas) pushes to the forefront Saint Nicholas’s connection to the Otherworld. Indeed, Nicholas is a genie of passage.”

He concludes, on page 72: “Christmas clearly belongs to an enchanted time that allows the Otherworld to break into and enter the human world.”

Walter reaches the same conclusions regarding the celebration of Easter. He points out on pages 100-101:

“Easter can be understood as a date marking an intense circulation between the Otherworld and the human world… The Easter Bunny, for example, is a springtime reincarnation of [a mystical figure] and belongs among the host of magical animals that haunted the medieval imagination… its mystical role is much older than Christian civilization, for it can be found in ancient Buddhist and Chinese mythology. According to these myths, a rabbit lives on the moon, were he prepares food of immortality. Easter eggs seem analogous to this food… The druids of an earlier era also believed in the magical power of the egg…”

On page 122, Walter explains:

“Easter was thus a Christianized version of a double tradition: It constituted a Christian reply to the Jewish Passover and gave a Christian dimension to the great Celtic myths of passage to the Otherworld.”

The reasons, then, why true Christians must abstain from the observance of holidays such as Christmas and Easter, are manifold. Firstly, God told us not to worship Him in the way the pagans worshipped their gods, by adopting pagan customs and incorporating them in our worship. Deuteronomy 12:30-31 tells us:

“… take heed to yourself… that you do not inquire after their gods, saying, ‘How did these nations serve their gods? I also will do likewise.’ You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way; for every abomination to the LORD which He hates they have done to their gods…”

In addition, we have seen that many of those pagan customs are DIRECTLY related to the superstitious belief in spirits, ghosts, fairies and demons, who–according to that belief–leave the Otherworld and visit the living on certain days, including on the days of Christmas and Easter. These spirits are clearly demonical in nature, and Paul tells us that we must not have anything to do with demons and avoid them at all costs. He tells us NOT to observe religious rites, which are derived from pagan worship, so that we do not come in contact with demons. Note 1 Corinthians 10:20-22:

“… the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than He?”

This warning is far too serious than to be ignored!

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

A new booklet on God’s Fall Holy Days has entered the first review cycle.

A new StandingWatch program has been posted on the Web, titled, “50 Years of Europe–What’s Next?” In the program, Norbert Link discusses the fact that on March 24 and 25, 2007, Europe celebrated its 50th anniversary in Germany’s capital, Berlin. Even though Europe’s recent history has been an unparalleled story of success, many critics feel that Europe will never be able to unite totally. They don’t seem to realize that Europe is already a fully-fledged state–not unlike the USA. But Europe’s destiny is quite different from what many well-meaning European politicians might envision or desire.

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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.

Donations should be sent to the following addresses:

United States: Church of the Eternal God, P.O. Box 270519, San Diego, CA 92198

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