Update 332


Nothing Will Be Impossible For Them

On February 23, 2008, Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, “Nothing Will Be Impossible For Them.”

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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The Curse of Divorce

by Rene Messier (Canada)

“Where’s the commitment?”, the new car ad asks. You don’t like your job–get another one. You don’t like your wife–get another one. Presumably, you will like the car they are selling you, and you will hold on to it. So, is a car more important to us than our job or our marriage?

Approximately 50% of current marriages in the Western world will end in divorce. Perhaps, the marriage vow should be changed to, “TILL DIVORCE DO YOU PART.” Recently, three young adults appeared on a daytime show confronting their parents over their divorce. The emotional trauma was very evident, as the children talked to both parents about their pain, suffering and utter devastation that the effect of the divorce had on their lives. The tears were flowing, and they were obviously distraught over an event that had happened several years previously.

On the same program, a woman in her forties was still suffering from the effects of the divorce of her parents. There were tears and anguish over that event that had taken place some twenty years earlier. The lady was still dealing with the detrimental effects it had on her; especially, since there was no closure in her mind. We know a lady who has been divorced for over twenty-five years. She has children with her new husband. Nevertheless, she explains that there is not a day that goes by, when she does not think about her first husband.

No matter how long ago a divorce took place, the destructive emotional trauma will continue to be felt by the spouses and the children alike. The damage will remain for a very long time. Even though God allows for divorce under certain circumstances, it is no wonder that God says that He utterly hates divorce–and for a good reason. Divorce is never a happy solution. Satan,the god of this world,is determined to destroy mankind, and he is using divorce very effectively towards that end. Divorce produces broken families, children without fathers or mothers, and other social curses. Satan hates marriage because it is a physical type of what and how the God Family functions–and will function for all eternity.

Thankfully, those who have received God’s Holy Spirit, can look forward to a marriage from which there will be no divorce. Christ will consummate His marriage with faithful members of His Church at His Return (Revelation 19:9). We can with zeal and anticipation look forward to this great event, which will not end in separation or divorce or pain or suffering or emotional trauma or tears (Revelation 20:4).

Let us strive and ensure that we remain true to our mates “till death do us part.” More importantly, let us make every effort to faithfully uphold our relationship with God the Father and Jesus Christ, our Bridegroom–moving forward towards the great and glorious future event of spiritually consummating our marriage with our Husband.

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Kosovo Declares Independence–But the Problems Are Just Beginning…

Der Spiegel Online wrote on February 18:

“The tortuous break-up of the former Yugoslavia that began in the 1990s produced another country on Sunday. Nine years after NATO troops forced Serbia out of the province, Kosovo has unilaterally declared independence. Many Western countries are now on the verge of recognizing Kosovo as Europe’s latest country [including the USA, Great Britain, France, Germany and Italy] but Serbia and its ally Russia [as well as China] regard the declaration as illegal. And many countries with their own separatist groups, from Spain to Sri Lanka, are reluctant to set a precedent by recognizing this new state.

“… at least six [European] member states — Cyprus, Greece, Slovakia, Spain, Bulgaria and Romania — have indicated they will not recognize Kosovo due to misgivings about their own separatist movements or because of close ties with Serbia…”

Addressing the German reaction, the magazine stated:

“Europe is often quick to base foreign policy decisions on rulings made by the United Nations Security Council. Should the EU recognize Kosovo, however, it will be directly countermanding UN Security Council Resolution 1244, adopted in 1999. The resolution explicitly reaffirms ‘the commitment of all member states to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the other states of the region.’…

“The financial daily Handelsblatt writes: ‘Given the current situation, Kosovo’s split from Serbia was unavoidable. But it is a further step on a dangerous path to the dissolution of the nation state…'”

The Associated Press reported on February 18:

“The U.S. and the European Union’s biggest powers quickly recognized Kosovo as an independent nation Monday, widening a split with Russia, China and some EU members strongly opposed to letting the territory break away from Serbia… the dispute is likely to worsen already strained relations between the West and Russia, which is a traditional ally of Serbia and seeks to restore its influence in former Soviet bloc states…

“The EU does not recognize nations, leaving that up to its individual members… Despite that divide, the EU foreign ministers issued a joint statement citing ‘the conflict of the 1990s’ in Kosovo as a justification for the independence declaration.”

AFP and Bild Online added on February 18 and 20, respectively, that Serbia recalled its ambassadors to Washington and Germany in protest.

The Associated Press reported on February 21 that “Serb rioters set fire to an office inside the U.S. Embassy Thursday and police clashed with protesters outside other embassy buildings after a large demonstration against Kosovo’s declaration of independence…  For several days, Kosovo’s Serbs have shown their anger by destroying U.N. and NATO property, setting off small bombs and staging noisy rallies. On Thursday, the neighboring Croatian Embassy also was targeted by the same group of protesters at the U.S. Embassy, and smaller groups attacked police posts outside the Turkish and British embassies in another part of the city but were beaten back… Groups also broke into a McDonald’s restaurant and demolished the interior…”

Bild Online added on February 21 that the German Embassy was attacked as well, after Germany had recognized Kosovo as an independent state on Wednesday.

Disunited Europe

Der Spiegel Online wrote on February 19:

“The European Union… is hopelessly divided when it comes to Kosovo. A majority of EU countries… is in favor of Kosovo independence. But a closer look reveals that the majority is far from overwhelming. Some 17 countries of the 27-member total are eager to recognize the new nation… But that leaves a large number of European countries who are either against Kosovo independence, or unsure…

“The European Commission has pledged €1 billion already, with a package of trade deals likely… The EU has agreed to send a mission including some 2,000 police, judiciary experts, and civil service experts to Kosovo to help the country get started… Just what the EU mission will do should violence arise between Kosovo’s ethnically Albanian majority and the Serbian minority hasn’t been mentioned. And what would be the EU’s position should the Serbian enclave north of Mitrovica declare independence and express a wish to be joined with Serbia? It’s hard to know.”

Europe Needs a President

UPI reported on February 13:

“For the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the next American president can expect to meet an equal — the first person to occupy the new post of president of the European Union. The new European Treaty, currently being ratified by the 27 member states, creates a president for this agglomeration of 500 million people with a GDP now significantly larger than that of the United States. The EU has 2 million troops under arms, two nuclear powers in France and Britain, two seats on the U.N. Security Council and four members of the G7. ‘The President of the European Council shall, at his level and in that capacity, ensure the external representation of the Union on issues concerning its common foreign and security policy,’ says the treaty. That means summits with the American and Russian presidents, with the leaders of India and China and others ‘at his level.’

“The president will be the permanent chairman of the EU Council, the body where the heads of all 27 national governments meet four times a year. The treaty says the new president shall ‘drive forward its work” and ‘shall ensure the preparation and continuity of the work of the European Council.’ In other words, the new president controls the agenda, the staff and the paper flow. This is real power. The term lasts for two and a half years and can be renewed… once…”

European Elite Defense Force?

The EUObserver wrote on February 15:

“French president Nicolas Sarkozy is spearheading an initiative to create an elite defence force made up of the six EU biggest states – France, Germany, the UK, Spain, Italy and Poland… It is envisaged that the six countries would adopt common rules for reinforced co-operation, such as spending a minimum of two percent of their GDP on defence, join a common defence equipment market and provide 10,000 troops for an intervention force. Moreover, the elite group would commit to carry out joint security anti-terrorism projects, as well as defence infrastructure programmes, such as missile defence or space and intelligence technology…

“Paris aims to launch the initiative in 2009, after the new EU Lisbon treaty has been ratified in all member states, as it contains a provision for ‘permanent structured co-operation’ which could establish a legal link for the core defence project to be set up. The provision was already included in the old EU constitution that the French and Dutch voters rejected in referendums in 2005…”

Report From the Munich Conference

On February 16, Newsmax.com published the following article by Christopher Ruddy:

“Last week I had the honor of joining the U.S. delegation to the Munich Conference on Security Policy, held in Munich, Germany… Today, Europe appears to have a mindset of accommodation and complacency. Appeasement might be too strong of a word, since there is no Hitler-like figure marching through European capitals to acquiesce to. A U.S. official with NATO told our delegation that throughout Europe, our allies are not making the connection between their own security and the alliance’s work to keep the Taliban out of power in Afghanistan…

“Europe has been moving toward a similar accommodational approach to Iran, a nation that has been developing weapons of mass destruction. Though there is little doubt that Iran, unless stopped, will acquire nuclear weapons, NATO is unwilling to aggressively tackle the threat. Iran already has the ballistic missile capability to strike Europe. And its leader, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has called Israel a ‘disgraceful blot’ that should be ‘wiped off the map,’ adding menacingly that the Jewish state is ‘heading toward annihilation.’ Sen. Lieberman told the conference that Iran must be reckoned with ‘before it is too late.’ He pleaded with European and U.N. member states to use their economic leverage over Iran to stop its nuclear weapons plans… ‘Military action to destroy or deter Iran’s nuclear arsenal is not an option we seek, but it is also not an option that we can eliminate,’ he said…

“Russia today is confident and cocky. But it was just over 15 years ago that the U.S. was airlifting food supplies to Russia. The economic situation there has improved dramatically. With skyrocketing oil and gas prices, Russia has developed a remarkable war chest. One U.S. general told me the Pentagon has been suspicious of Russia because no one knows what the nation plans to do with its vast wealth. He also noted that Russia is ‘unquestionably the nuclear superpower of the world,’ noting the vast arsenal it has maintained after the end of the Cold War.

“Russia’s deputy prime minister, Sergey Ivanov, bragged during his speech in Munich that in recent years Russia had acquired $500 billion in gold and cash reserves, with another $150 billion in a national welfare fund. To understand the vastness of these $650 billion in reserves, consider that China has about double this amount. But Russia has less than one-tenth the population of China…  But there’s no reason to worry, Ivanov assured the gathering, since… Russia had no intention of ‘establishing military blocs or engaging in open confrontation with our partners.’ Ivanov’s comments would be reassuring if Russia was truly a democracy and partner of ours. The facts suggest otherwise.”

Iran–Closer Than Expected?

Der Spiegel Online wrote on February 21:

“New simulations carried out by European Union experts come to an alarming conclusion: Iran could have enough highly enriched uranium to build an atomic bomb by the end of this year.”

German Viewpoint on Barack Obama

Der Spiegel Online reported on February 19:

“The rise of democratic frontrunner Barack Obama signifies an alarming victory of style over substance… his campaign promises more than he can deliver. The one thing his voters can count on is that they will ultimately be disappointed…

“Voters are hungry for change and for radical departure from a present they now perceive as mediocre, especially after seven meager years under the current president, George W. Bush. A man like Barack Obama is adept at taking advantage of this yearning. He utters beautiful sentences that massage the soul… Nevertheless, if Obama is elected he will eventually be forced to disappoint his voters…

“The future Obama is promising seems foggy and indistinct. He wants to change the rules of engagement in politics, but he neglects to explain how and in what direction. He wants to write a new page in the history books, but what handwriting does he plan to use to make his entry? He wants to drive out lobbyists, but if he does, who will champion the interests of union members, war veterans and chemical corporations? He wants to negotiate with the world’s dictators, but to what end, exactly?

“In fact, Obama’s most dangerous land mines are hidden in foreign policy. A quick withdrawal from Iraq? Sounds great. But the mistake of having started this war in the first place cannot be corrected by ending it in a mad rush to get out of Iraq. A rapid withdrawal of the US military would most likely be followed by a bloody civil war. Al-Qaida would manage to sink its teeth into Iraq once and for all. Iran would rejoice. And Osama bin Laden and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would be the real winners of the 2008 American presidential election.

“On top of all that, Obama, in an effort to show strength, has come up with a new, and in some ways exclusive, theater for the US armed forces. He talks about military operations in the nuclear power Pakistan, operations that he, as commander-in-chief, would order even without the approval of the United Nations. That is ‘the war we need to win,’ he says again and again.

“But in reality a military campaign in Pakistan would be lunacy, even if many in the American media have chosen to studiously ignore Obama’s comments. A comparison with President John F. Kennedy, who was 43 when he was elected, reveals that Kennedy was in fact unenthusiastic about going to war in Vietnam. It was a war the inexperienced President slid into, and if he was a war president, it was by accident and not design.

“But there is no room for thoughtfulness in the turbulent world of Obamania. Hillary Clinton, his rival in the fight for the Democratic nomination, suffers from the same problems as traditional companies in the automotive and engineering industries did when confronted with the hype of the New Economy. She is out of touch with his supporters. She uses language to explain, while Obama uses rhetoric to intoxicate. She tells voters what she is bringing to the table. He tells them what they can become. If Clinton is a solid stock, Obama is an option. If she’s a secure investment, he is speculation.

“When the New Economy reached its conclusion, people suddenly realized that their hopes were dashed and their cravings for quick riches left unfulfilled… If democracy functions only half as well as the market economy, the Obama bubble will burst. The burning question is: When? Will it happen before the Democratic nomination this August — or not until afterwards?”

John McCain Under Attack

Der Spiegel Online called it today “the dirty U.S. election campaign,” adding that the “mud match” has begun.  USA Today reported the following on February 21:

“John McCain on Thursday criticized a New York Times story alleging a questionable relationship with a female telecommunications lobbyist [in 2000], saying it’s ‘not true’ and that he was ‘very disappointed’ the newspaper relied on anonymous sources…  the McCain campaign… calls the story a smear campaign to destroy the Republican nominee-in-waiting.

“Robert Bennett, a Washington attorney representing McCain, told NBC’s Today show that McCain’s staff provided the Times with ‘approximately 12 instances where Senator McCain took positions adverse to this lobbyist’s clients and her public relations firm’s clients,’ but none of the examples were included in the paper’s story. ‘There is no evidence that John McCain ever breached the public trust and that is the issue and the only issue,’ said Bennett, who once represented former President Clinton, on Thursday.”

Fidel Castro Steps Down–But No Improvement Is Expected

The New York Times wrote on February 19:

“Cuban exiles in the United States reacted coolly on Tuesday to the overnight news that Fidel Castro was stepping down as president of Cuba, an island he has ruled with an iron fist for almost 50 years. With Mr. Castro’s younger brother Raúl, who has been running the country for a year and a half, seen as most likely to succeed him, many said they expect the system of communist central control to continue unchanged…

“’Fidel Castro’s stepping down is an essential first step, but it is sadly insufficient in bringing freedom to Cuba,’ Mr. Obama… said… ‘Cuba’s future should be determined by the Cuban people and not by an anti-democratic successor regime. The prompt release of prisoners on conscience wrongly jailed for standing up for the basic freedoms too long denied to the Cuban people would mark an important break with the past.’

“Senator McCain… said that despite Mr. Castro’s action, ‘freedom for Cuba is not yet at hand… We must press the Castro regime to release all political prisoners unconditionally, to legalize all political parties, labor union and free media, and to schedule internationally monitored elections’…

“Senator Clinton… said in her statement, ‘I would say to the new leadership, the people of the United States are ready to meet you if you move forward toward the path of democracy, with real, substantial reforms.’”

Elections in Pakistan

Der Spiegel Online wrote on February 19:

“Opposition parties seem to have dealt a crushing blow to the ruling party in Pakistan, winning enough seats to threaten the rule of President Pervez Musharraf…

“The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes: ‘This election is not a great leap forward for democracy, but at most a tiny step. Most voters stayed at home out of fears of attacks. The people in Pakistan are not to be envied. They have hardly any democratic alternatives… The parties function like dynasties. A few families have all the say and consider power to be a type of inheritance…’

“The Financial Times Deutschland writes: ‘… “Musharraf must end his dictatorship. This election is a small step on the long path toward achieving this.'”

The Associated Press reported on February 21 that “Pakistan’s two main opposition parties announced Thursday they would form a new government together after their victory over President Pervez Musharraf’s allies in elections this week…. The two party leaders did not make explicit whether they would push for Musharraf’s ouster.”

Has Austria Learned From the Past?

The Jerusalem Post wrote on February 17:

“When Hitler entered Austria in March 1938, he was welcomed by an extraordinarily large number of Austrians who advocated the ‘Anschluss’ with Germany. A disproportionate number of Austrians served the Nazi death machinery to carry out the ‘Final Solution’ to the ‘Jewish Question.’ Despite these facts, for more than 50 years Austria portrayed itself as the first victim of national-socialism. It took a new generation of historians and politicians to acknowledge – 30 years after the Eichmann trial – that Austrians were actually involved in mass murder.

“During the last decade Austria has worked to present itself as a country which has dealt with its past and drawn the appropriate historical lessons. But one has to ask: Which lessons have been learned? Certainly not the most crucial one: defending Israel’s right to exist. In April 2007 Austria’s partially state-owned oil company, OMV, signed an agreement with Iran on a joint natural gas project. The total investment amounts to 22 billion euros over the next 25 years. Experts believe that these revenues will be used to finance the Iranian nuclear weapons program and undermine present international sanctions. OMV is not just any company. It is the biggest oil corporation in central Europe. The state of Austria holds 31.5% of its shares.

“… this deal is backed by all parties represented in the Austrian parliament. Social Democrats, Conservatives, Greens and the far right have closed ranks against demands to cancel the negotiations with Iran. Ironically, Austrian Social Democratic Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer recently made it very clear that human rights have to be subordinated to business interests. His government has no intention of interfering despite the ongoing oppressions of the Iranian terror regime. Recent criticism from German chancellor Angela Merkel, who said that Austria was setting a dangerous precedent in establishing such a deal, was countered by insistence on the private nature of OMV – even though the state is the company’s largest shareholder… As Iranian Chamber of Commerce president Ali Naghi Khamoushi put it in November 2006, ‘Austria is the gate to the European Union for us.’…

“Austria must turn its moral rhetoric into tangible action if it wants to prove that it has learned its lessons. Stopping Iran from going nuclear by canceling the largest oil deal between a European company and the mullahs would set the tone and fill these words with content.”

Navy Scores Direct Hit on Spy Satellite

The Associated Press reported on February 21:

“A U.S. Navy cruiser blasted a disabled spy satellite with a pinpoint missile strike that achieved the main mission of exploding a tank of toxic fuel 130 miles above the Pacific Ocean, defense officials said. Destroying the satellite’s onboard tank of about 1,000 pounds of hydrazine fuel was the primary goal, and a senior defense official close to the mission said Thursday that it appears the tank was destroyed, and the strike with a specially designed missile was a complete success…

“The elaborate intercept may trigger worries from some international leaders, who could see it as a thinly disguised attempt to test an anti-satellite weapon—one that could take out other nation’s orbiting communications and spy spacecraft… While Pentagon officials stressed that the satellite strike was a one- time incident, it certainly will spin off massive amounts of data and research that can be studied by the military as it works to improve its missile defense technologies…

“Because the satellite was orbiting at a relatively low altitude at the time it was hit by the missile, debris will begin to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere immediately, the Pentagon statement said. ‘Nearly all of the debris will burn up on re-entry within 24-48 hours and the remaining debris should re-enter within 40 days,’ it said.”

Beef Scandal in California

The Associated Press reported on February 18:

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Sunday ordered the recall of 143 million pounds of frozen beef from a California slaughterhouse, the subject of an animal-abuse investigation, that provided meat to school lunch programs. Officials said it was the largest beef recall in the United States, surpassing a 1999 ban of 35 million pounds of ready-to-eat meats… The recall will affect beef products dating to Feb. 1, 2006…

“Federal officials suspended operations at Westland/Hallmark after an undercover video from the Humane Society of the United States surfaced showing crippled and sick animals being shoved with forklifts… Authorities said the video showed workers kicking, shocking and otherwise abusing ‘downer’ animals that were apparently too sick or injured to walk into the slaughterhouse… Federal regulations call for keeping downed cattle out of the food supply because they may pose a higher risk of contamination from E. coli, salmonella or mad cow disease because they typically wallow in feces and their immune systems are often weak…

“Upon learning about the recall, some legislators criticized the USDA, saying the federal agency should conduct more thorough inspections to ensure tainted beef doesn’t get to the public… Advocacy groups also weighed in, noting the problems at Westland wouldn’t have been revealed had it not been for animal right activists.”

How Man Destroys the Oceans…

BBC News reported on February 14:

“Only about 4% of the world’s oceans remain undamaged by human activity, according to the first detailed global map of human impacts on the seas. A study in Science journal says climate change, fishing, pollution and other human factors have exacted a heavy toll on almost half of the marine waters. Only remote icy areas near the poles are relatively pristine, but they face threats as ice sheets melt, it warns… Lead scientist, Dr Benjamin Halpern, of the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis in Santa Barbara, US, said humans were having a major impact on the oceans and the marine ecosystems within them…

“Co-author Dr Mark Spalding told BBC News that the map was the first attempt to describe and quantify the combined threats facing the world’s oceans from human factors, ranging from commercial shipping to over-fishing… Andrew Rosenberg, a professor of natural resources at the University of New Hampshire, US, who was not part of the study, said policymakers could no longer focus on fishing or pollution as if they were separate effects. ‘These human impacts overlap in space and time, and in far too many cases the magnitude is frighteningly high,’ he said.”

Magnitude 5 Earthquake at Tyre

The Associated Press reported on February 15:

“An earthquake shook parts of Lebanon and neighboring countries Friday… The U.S. Geological Survey said it was a magnitude 5 quake, which can cause considerable damage. Residents of Syria, Jordan, the West Bank and Israel also reported feeling the tremor. The earthquake was centered near the southern Lebanese port city of Tyre… In parts of Beirut, people left their apartments and went into the streets after the jolt at 12:37 p.m., which lasted a few seconds… Lebanese police said four people were slightly injured in the southern port city of Tyre when parts of a balcony fell on them. In the southern city of Sidon, a man was lightly injured when a cupboard in his home fell on him, police said.”

AFP reported on February 21 that “A strong 6.0-magnitude earthquake [others state that the magnitude was 6.3] struck a sparsely-populated region of northern Nevada on Thursday, damaging buildings and rupturing water and gas mains.”

Commercial Pet Cloning

The Guardian reported on February 15:

“The world’s first pet cloning service is to offer animal lovers the chance to recreate their dead companions… South Korean company RNL Bio will work alongside scientists who created the first cloned canine. A company spokeswoman said it was already working on its first order from an American who wanted a clone of her dead pit bull. The client… was very attached to the pet because it had saved her life during an attack by another dog… ear tissue from the dog had been preserved at a US biotech laboratory before its death. DNA from the sample could now be used in an attempt to create a clone… although the chances of success were about 25%. RNL Bio is charging customers $150,000… for the clones, which clients pay only after they receive their new pet… “

Man vs. Machine?

BBC News reported on February 18:

“Humanity is on the brink of advances that will see tiny robots implanted in people’s brains to make them more intelligent, said Ray Kurzweil. The engineer believes machines and humans will eventually merge through devices implanted in the body to boost intelligence and health… Machines were already doing hundreds of things humans used to do, at human levels of intelligence or better, in many different areas, he said. ‘I’ve made the case that we will have both the hardware and the software to achieve human level artificial intelligence… by 2029,’ he said…  Humans and machines would eventually merge, by means of devices embedded in people’s bodies to keep them healthy and improve their intelligence, predicted Mr Kurzweil.
“The nanobots, he said, would ‘make us smarter, remember things better…’ Mr Kurzweil is one of 18 influential thinkers chosen to identify the great technological challenges facing humanity in the 21st century by the US National Academy of Engineering.”

How Superstitious People Can Be Fooled…

AFP reported about interesting episodes involving lunar eclipses in ancient times–but one wonders whether “modern” people could not be equally fooled. The Bible predicts that they will be in the not-too-distant future, calling some of the events to occur “lying wonders.” For more information, please read our free booklets, “Europe in Prophecy” and “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.”

AFP wrote on February 18:

“The Moon will turn an eerie shade of red for people in the western hemisphere late Wednesday and early Thursday, recreating the eclipse that saved Christopher Columbus more than five centuries ago. In a lunar eclipse, the Sun, Earth and Moon are directly aligned and the Moon swings into the cone of shadow cast by the Earth…

“Lunar eclipses have long been associated with superstitions and signs of ill omen, especially in battle. The defeat of the Persian king Darius III by Alexander the Great in the Battle of Gaugamela in 331 BC was foretold by soothsayers when the Moon turned blood-red a few days earlier.

“And an eclipse is credited with saving the life of Christopher Columbus and his crew in 1504. Stranded on the coast of Jamaica, the explorers were running out of food and faced with increasingly hostile local inhabitants who were refusing to provide them with any more supplies. Columbus, looking at an astronomical almanac compiled by a German mathematician, realised that a total eclipse of the Moon would occur on February 29, 1504. He called the native leaders and warned them if they did not cooperate, he would make the Moon disappear from the sky the following night. The warning, of course, came true, prompting the terrified people to beg Columbus to restore the Moon — which he did, in return for as much food as his men needed. He and the crew were rescued on June 29, 1504.”

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Please explain the identity of the 144,000 in Revelation 7 and 14, the great multitude in Revelation 7, and the woman and the dragon in Revelation 12.

The question as to the exact identity of the 144,000 and the great multitude, as well as the woman and the dragon, has puzzled many over the decades and centuries.

1) The 144,000 and the Great Multitude in Revelation 7:

Revelation 7 describes an important event in the plan of God. Before God will pour out His wrath on unrepentant mankind during the coming Day of the Lord–a still future time beginning shortly before Christ’s return, when God commences to actively intervene in the affairs of humans–certain servants of God will be sealed to be protected (Revelation 7:1-3; compare Ezekiel 9:4; see also Revelation 9:4). First 144,000 will be sealed—12,000 out of each tribe of Israel (Revelation 7:4-8), excluding Dan (for a possible explanation as to why Dan might be excluded, compare Judges 18:30; Deuteronomy 29:17-20; and Genesis 49:16-18).

Lehmann Strauss, The Book of Revelation, copyright 1964, 1972, makes the following comments on pages 171-173 regarding the 144,000:

“Judgment is suspended till 144,000 Jews [better “Israelites”; Strauss makes the common mistake of equating the Israelites with the Jews] are sealed. If language means anything, these sealed ones are literal Israelites… not one Gentile is among them… Dan… is omitted because he was guilty of idolatry. God has warned His people that idolaters would be separated from the rest of the tribes…The 144,000 are sealed with ‘the seal of the living God.’ The seal is the mark of divine possession, protection, and preservation.”

After that event, John sees a great multitude which “no one could number,” from “all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues,” standing before the Lamb with white garments (Revelation 7:9). They “came out of the great tribulation…and washed their robes and made them white” (Revelation 7:14). If they came out of the Great Tribulation, then they must have been in it. While some Christians will be protected from the Great Tribulation (see the discussion in Section 5; compare also Revelation 3:10; 12:14; Luke 21:36; Proverbs 14:26), others will have to go through it, to be purified (Revelation 12:17; compare 1 Corinthians 11:32). But all true Christians who survive that time of trouble will be protected from God’s wrath to come.

Strauss comments on pages 175-178:

“The number … is beyond all counting, as far as man is concerned. The exact number is known to God (2 Timothy 2:19)… John saw ‘palms in their hands’ ([Revelation 7] verse 9)… the palms may be in celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles… palm branches express the joy of complete deliverance (John 12:12-13). They are celebrating the triumph of having been brought through the awful period of tribulation… ”

For an in-depth discussion of the 144,000 and the great multitude, please compare our Q&A in Update #123, titled, “Who Are the 144,000 Mentioned in Revelation 7?”

2) The 144,000 in Revelation 14:

144,000 servants of God are again mentioned in Revelation 14:1-5. They are depicted standing with Christ on Mount Zion, here on earth. The time setting is after Christ’s return. They sing a new song, which reaches God’s throne in heaven (verse 3), as our prayers do today (compare Revelation 5:8; 8:2-5). God has found no fault in them (Revelation 14:5). This description reminds us of Christ’s message to the angel of Philadelphia (compare Revelation 3:7-12). Both have the Father’s name written on their foreheads (Revelation 14:1; Revelation 3:12). Note, however, that Revelation 14 does not say that these 144,000 are the only ones who will be in the first resurrection. Revelation 14:4 points out that the 144,000 are “firstfruits,” but it does not say that they are “the” firstfruits or the “only” firstfruits.

The 144,000 in Revelation 14 might perhaps be the same group of 144,000 mentioned in Revelation 7. Most commentaries suggest this, and it appears that this has also been the understanding of the Church of God, under Herbert W. Armstrong. We should point out, however, that we cannot be totally certain.

Herbert Armstrong wrote the following in “The Key to the Book of Revelation,” seemingly equating the 144,000 in Revelation 7 with the group in Revelation 14:

“The 144,000 are 12,000 from each of the literal tribes of Israel. They are sealed by the Holy Spirit, IN their foreheads, and it is the FATHER’S NAME that is sealed there (Rev. 14:1). THE TIME OF THIS SEALING, THEN, IS YET FUTURE — AFTER THE TRIBULATION, AFTER THE HEAVENLY SIGNS… The innumerable multitude shall have COME OUT of THE Great Tribulation (Rev. 7:14… ) [emphasis in original and added].”

Note as well the following excerpts from other commentaries:

Strauss comments as follows on Revelation 14, on pages 260-263:

“The site of His appearing is ‘Mount Sion.’ This is an earthly scene, a picture of Christ’s return to reign, the selected place from which He shall rule gloriously… Mount Zion is Jerusalem, Israel’s earthly capital… the 144,000 in this chapter are the same group of 144,000 in chapter 7…”

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible states about the 144,000 in Revelation 14: “These are evidently the same persons that were seen in the vision recorded in Rev. 7:3-8…”

Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible adds: “‘And with him a hundred forty and four thousand’–Representing those who were converted to Christianity from among the Jews [better: Israelites]. See Rev. 7:4.”

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible points out: “and with him an hundred forty and four thousand; the same with those in Rev. 7:3…”

The New Bible Commentary: Revised, states: “The identity of the 144,000 seems determined by 7:1-8… John would hardly represent two different groups by such an extraordinary…. number, especially when he adds that both companies bear the mark of God in their foreheads…”

The Broadman Bible Commentary writes: “This group bears the mark as the 144,000 of 7:4-8 and is probably the same.”

Although it appears possible or even probable that the two groups of 144,000 in Revelation 7 and 14 are identical, we need to wait for God’s clear revelation to us as to who, exactly, the 144,000 in Revelation 14 will be.

3) The Dragon in Revelation 12:

Before Christ returns, other important events will have to take place, affecting the true Church of God. Revelation 12 begins by referring first to a very ancient event–the rebellion of Lucifer, the “dragon,” and his angels against God. This rebellion occurred prior to Genesis 1:2 and the creation of man, and it is stated that one-third of God’s holy angels followed Satan in this coup d’etat to dethrone God. Satan, who was originally called Lucifer, and his angels lost–they became known as demons (compare Isaiah 14; Ezekiel 28; Luke 10:18; Jude 6; 2 Peter 2:4). (For more information, please read our free booklets, “The Theory of Evolution–a Fairy Tale for Adults,” and “Angels, Demons and the Spirit World.”

Strauss comments on Satan’s rebellion, as follows, on page 230:

“There is a mass of evidence… which demonstrates beyond doubt that there was a long interval between the first creation, described in the first sublime sentence of the Bible and the chaos of the second verse. It was during this interval that the war in Heaven was begun by Lucifer’s rebellion. God’s next revealed move was the creation of man…”

4) The Woman in Revelation 12:

The account in Revelation 12 continues to describe the “woman” giving birth to a Child, and the dragon’s unsuccessful attempt to kill the Child.

The woman is pictured as being clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and with a garland of 12 stars on her head (Revelation 12:1). In Genesis 37:9-11, Jacob and his wife Rachel, Joseph’s mother, are symbolized as the sun and the moon, and Joseph’s brothers are symbolized as eleven stars, bowing down to Joseph. It appears therefore very plausible that the TWELVE stars in Revelation 12:1 refer to the TWELVE tribes of Israel (including Joseph).

Revelation 12: 2-5 refers to the fact that Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ and that Satan attempted unsuccessfully to kill Christ through King Herod (Revelation 12:4; Matthew 2:13, 16).

We understand that the woman is first symbolic for Eve (Genesis 3:15); then for the Old Testament Church which would develop from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and Jacob’s TWELVE sons, and which would become known as the church of Israel in the wilderness; then for Mary, the mother of Christ; and–subsequent to Christ’s ascension–for the New Testament Church of God (compare Matthew 25:1; Ephesians 5:22-32; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Galatians 4: 26).

Revelation 12:6 tells us that the woman–the New Testament Church–fled into the wilderness for 1,260 days. This has been understood as referring to prophetic days or YEARS. The Bible makes it clear that sometimes, a reference to days can refer to a corresponding number of years. The “day-for-a-year principle” is expressed, for example, in Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:6. The true Church of God continued to exist, but it was not greatly noticed by the world during that time of about 1,260 years.

5) The Dragon’s Future Fight Against the Woman

Commencing with Revelation 12:7, still future events at the time of the end are being described. A new war is depicted between Satan and God—another demonic attempt to dethrone God. But Satan will fail again, be cast back to the earth, and persecute the woman with “great wrath” (Revelation 12:7-13). While the woman has flown to her place of safety with two wings of a great eagle (compare Exodus 19:4; Deuteronomy 1:31; 32:11; Isaiah 63:9), to be nourished there for 3 ½ years (Revelation 12:14), Satan spews water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman. This might perhaps allude to an army or to a military force (compare Daniel 11:10; Jeremiah 47:2-3). The earth opens its mouth to help the woman (compare Numbers 16:31-32). As a consequence, Satan persecutes others within the Church who are not at the place of safety (those belonging to the prophetic “church of the Laodiceans,” compare Revelation 3:14-19, including 144,000 Israelites and the great multitude of Gentiles, mentioned earlier).

These terrible times, depicted in the book of Revelation, are drawing nearer and nearer. All of us will need God’s protection to survive. Let us strive to become worthy in the eyes of God to escape all these things which will surely come to pass, and to stand before Christ at the time of His Return.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

A new StandingWatch program (#157) has been posted on StandingWatch, Google Video and You Tube. It is titled, “Will Your Soul Go to Heaven?” In the program, Norbert Link explained that a famous bishop of the Church of England, N.T. “Tom” Wright, just published a book, claiming that Christians do not go to heaven when they die. Martin Luther and other Protestant Reformers, including English Bible translator and martyr William Tyndale, held the same view. They also questioned the concept of an immortal soul, which Wright upholds. Traditional Christianity believes in both; that is, that immortal souls of Christians will ascend to heaven after death. Who is right, according to the Bible?

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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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United Kingdom: Global Church of God, PO Box 44, MABLETHORPE, LN12 9AN, United Kingdom

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