Update 383


"Lying–an Everyday Activity" and "The Sabbath"

On Saturday, February 28, 2009, Brian Gale and Rene Messier will give split sermons, titled, respectively, “Lying–an Everyday Activity,” and, “The Sabbath.”

The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org (12:30 pm Pacific Time; 1:30 pm Mountain Time; 2:30 pm Central Time; 3:30 pm Eastern Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

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Great Expectations

by Brian Gale (United Kingdom)

Charles Dickens, the famous 19th century English author, wrote a famous novel entitled “Great Expectations.” In this work, an orphan named Pip had a difficult early life but later enjoyed “great expectations” with the help of an unknown benefactor. 

In the recent American Presidential election, Mr. Barack Obama was elected to the office of President with “great expectations” from so many about the future of that great country. Euphoria gripped the USA perhaps as never before. However, within a matter of about three weeks, his popularity rating had plummeted by about 20%! Such are the expectations of so many today that if their leaders promises don’t immediately materialize, then criticism sets in.

Many others have “great expectations” of what they want to achieve in life for themselves and their family. Sometimes success may follow, but at other times such expectations may not be met.

But all true Christians should have “great expectations” for the future for themselves, their families and for all mankind. This is what really matters as we see the world engulfed by so many seemingly insurmountable problems. It is easy to become despondent in such a chaotic world, especially if our own situation is less than promising. But if we can grasp the vision – the big picture – of what God has in store for us and make this center stage in our lives, then we too can have “great expectations.” This is not built on what human leaders may or may not be able to achieve, but what God will do according to the promises in His Word.

Romans 8:18-19 states: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.” That’s the future for us. We should indeed have great expectations!

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For the first time, the Ebola virus has been found in pigs–outside monkeys. In some cases, the virus had jumped before from monkeys to humans.

In addition to this dangerous development for humans, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder (a close friend of Vladimir Putin) met with Iran’s President Ahmadinejad. Even though this controversial meeting was allegedly “cool and tense,” the fact THAT Schroeder even met with Ahmadinejad is remarkable in itself. Iran has reportedly produced now enough enriched uranium to create an atomic weapon.

At the same time, German anti-Semitism amongst Muslims is on the rise. This is equally remarkable, as the Bible prophesies that Edom (Jacob’s brother, and Turkey in prophecy) will collaborate with end-time Europe, against Judah. The final European revival of the ancient Roman Empire is clearly in the making, which is also underscored by new plans for a unified European army.

While Europe and the USA are facing an ever grimmer-looking economic future, Germany and most European nations will revive financially, while it is doubtful that the USA will. However, in the process, a very dangerous charismatic European personage will arrive on the scene to give “hope” to people in despair. We should not forget that Hitler came to power at a time of great economic and political upheaval. We can expect something similar to happen in Europe in the near future.

In his first speech to Congress, President Obama described America “at the crossroads,” claiming that “the Day of Reckoning has arrived.”  And finally, ongoing fighting between Israel and Palestinians belies the hope that the war in Gaza is over.

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Ebola Virus Found in Pigs

Reuters reported on February 23:

“The Philippines will slaughter 6,000 pigs at a hog farm north of the capital Manila to prevent the spread of the Ebola-Reston virus, health and farm officials said on Monday… The country has more than 13 million heads of swine… The government said 6,000 pigs would be killed, burned and buried as experts sought to determine the source of Ebola-Reston in pigs as well as pig-to-pig and from pig-to-human transmission…

“It is the first time the virus has been found outside monkeys and the first time it has been found in pigs. The virus had previously jumped from monkeys to humans but this was the first case of a jump from hogs.”

Former Chancellor Schroeder Meets with President Ahmadinejad

Deutsche Welle reported on February 22:

“Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder met with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after delivering a speech in Tehran criticizing the Iranian leader’s stance against Israel and his denial of the Holocaust.

“The meeting took place on Saturday, Feb. 21, behind closed doors in the president’s offices. A brief statement afterwards said the two had exchanged ideas about regional and international issues. Ahmadinejad also urged global cooperation to solve the world’s problems…

“In Tehran, Schroeder commented that Iran appeared to have good intentions for a new beginning in relations to the West, but developments had not gone as one had hoped…

“Eyewitnesses said the meeting took place in a tense and cool atmosphere… Schroeder, in Iran on a private visit, also met with Parliament President Ali Larijani and Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki. In contrast to the tense meeting with Ahmadinejad, Schroeder’s meeting with former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami — who plans to run against Ahmadinejad in the June elections — was congenial.

“The two politicians spoke German, which Khatami learned when he lived in Hamburg as a moderate cleric before the Islamic revolution in 1979. ‘We are good and old friends and when we were both in office, the countries had the best relations,’ Khatami told DPA news service after the meeting.

“Khatami said efforts were in gear to find a diplomatic solution in the conflict over Iran’s uranium enrichment program, which has produced more than 1,000 kilograms of low-enriched uranium… The amount, if subjected to further processing, would be enough to create an atomic weapon…

“In Germany, the general secretary of the Central Council of Jews Stephan Kramer criticized the Schroeder-Ahmadinejad meeting in an interview with the Hanover daily Neue Presse: ‘Mr. Schroeder is greatly damaging the reputation of Germany and the German government…’

“Iran’s ambassador in Berlin, Aliresa Sheikh-Attar, didn’t think Schroeder’s criticism of Ahmadinejad would damage ties between the two countries. ‘The relations between Teheran and Berlin are too important to be overshadowed by a subject such as the Holocaust,’ Attar said. During his time in office (1998-2005), Schroeder never visited Iran…”

Muslim Anti-Semitism in Germany

Netzeitung wrote on February 23:

“Germany should take anti-Semitic tendencies among its Muslim population seriously, Turkish-German Green party leader Cem Özdemir warned in an interview with daily Frankfurter Rundschau on Monday.

“‘We must unfortunately acknowledge that there are anti-Semitic mindsets not only in the right-wing or among the so-called left-wing anti-imperialists, but also in the Muslim community – particularly among male Arabic, Turkish and Kurdish youths,’ Özdemir, the country’s first leader of a major political party with Turkish roots, told the paper…

“A 2007 study by the Interior Ministry found that Muslim students were far more anti-Semitic than other students, the paper reported…”

A New Plan for a European Army

The Telegraph wrote on February 18:

“A security blueprint charting a path to a European Union army [was] agreed by Euro-MPs on Thursday. The plan, which has influential support in Germany and France, proposes to set up a ‘Synchronised Armed Forces Europe’, or Safe, as a first step towards a true European military force…

“Geoffrey Van Orden MEP, the Conservative European defence spokesman, warned that British ministers are ‘in denial’. He said: ‘They are sleepwalking towards a European army and seem to have little awareness of what is going on’…”

Dire Warning of Deutsche Bank

Netzeitung wrote on February 23:

“Germany’s gross domestic product will likely shrink by more than five percent in 2009, chief economist for Deutsche Bank Norbert Walter told daily Bild on Monday…

“Companies and politicians have sugarcoated the country’s economic situation, the head economist of Germany’s largest private bank said, adding that they are ‘ignoring the truth.'”

U.S. Economy Continues to Go Downward

On February 24, The New York Times published an article with the headline, “Fed Chief Says Recovery May Wait Until 2010 or Later.” In the article, it was pointed out:

“On Tuesday, two barometers of the housing market and consumer attitudes underscored the economy’s downward trajectory. Home prices in the United States plunged at the fastest pace on record in December… signaling that housing was likely to continue declining.

“Consumer confidence also… dropped to a new low of 25 in February, from 37.4 a month earlier, as people fretted about losing their jobs or earning less, and worsening prospects over the next six months.”

President Obama–“The Day of Reckoning Has Arrived… America at the Crossroads”

Bild Online wrote on February 25:

“Barack Obama insisted the ‘day of reckoning has arrived’ when he addressed Congress for the first time yesterday… Obama acknowledged the need for America to take charge on the issue of the global financial crisis: ‘As we stand at this crossroads of history, the eyes of all people in all nations are once again upon us – watching to see what we do with this moment, waiting for us to lead’…

“Obama promised support to the floundering American car industry, saying that the ‘nation that invented the automobile cannot walk away from it’… Leading US car manufacturers such as Chrysler and General Motors have already asked the government for billions of dollars in aid.

“Obama also offered help to the banking and finance sectors, warning that a rescue programme could cost more than expected. He stressed that the aim was to support the people not the banks…

“The US government is working on reducing the burden of financial debt that the country has found itself in, Obama insisted. He said that the budget deficit will be halved in the coming year. In order to save the money, he said he would ‘eliminate the no-bid contracts that have wasted billions in Iraq and reform our defence budget so that we’re not paying for Cold War-era weapons systems we don’t use’…

“And Obama referred to a new era in international politics: ‘… we know that America cannot meet the threats of this century alone, but the world cannot meet them without America.’”

Who Says the War in Gaza Is Over?

AFP reported on February 25:

“Israeli warplanes launched two air strikes along the Gaza Strip’s border with Egypt on Wednesday as delegates from three Palestinian factions were crossing at a nearby terminal, witnesses said. They said the two air strikes left large craters and caused damage to surrounding homes near the border, where smugglers operate a massive underground network of tunnels to supply goods to the besieged territory…

“An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed that two air strikes had been carried out in the area. Palestinian militants had earlier fired two crude homemade rockets into southern Israel without causing any casualties, according to the military.”

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Do you think that the Book of Enoch is inspired? Didn't Jude quote from it and gave it therefore canonical status?

The book of Enoch belongs to the so-called Pseudepigrapha books and was apparently written during the first century B.C.–even though some claim that it was written before then.

The term Pseudepigrapha was given to Jewish writings, which were attributed to authors who did not actually write them, but who misappropriated the names of famous people by pretending that they were the authors of those writings. Known “Pseudepigrapha books” include “the Apocalypse of Abraham,” which was probably written in the second century A.D.; “the Apocalypse of Adam,” which was perhaps written in the first or second century A.D.; the “Fourth Book of Ezra (2 Esdras),” which was probably written between 95 and 100 A.D.; and “the Testament of Moses” (or, “Assumption of Moses”), which was written in the first century A.D.

The Pseudepigrapha books also include the Book of Enoch, which is a compendium of four or five Jewish apocalypses, all of which were composed before the destruction of the Second Temple. The book of Enoch is now usually designated as I Enoch, to distinguish it from the later II Enoch, or the “Secrets of Enoch.” The book of Enoch was written by many different writers in different time periods. The whole book is found only in an Ethiopic language, but parts of it have been discovered in Greek and in Aramaic.

In addition, the Pseudepigrapha books include the book of the Secrets of Enoch (2 Enoch or Slavonic Enoch), which is a Jewish apocalypse from the time before the destruction of the Temple. Closely connected to it is the Books of Giants, a writing allegedly associated with Enoch, relating the deeds of the giants who were born by the daughters of men (descendants of Cain) to the sons of God (descendants of Seth, compare our Q&A on Genesis 6:1-4). It is known from fragments found at Qumran and was written before 100 B.C.

In a previous Q&A, we discussed the reasons why the Apocrypha are not to be considered as inspired. Similar reasons exist for the Pseudepigrapha books, including the book of Enoch. In addition, unlike the Apocrypha which are, to an extent, considered as inspired by the Catholic Church, none of the Pseudepigrapha books are considered inspired by either Protestants or Catholics.

From the evidence provided by the Dead Sea Scrolls, we see that this religious Jewish community located at Qumran had writings that included much of the Old Testament. However, other nonbiblical books were also discovered, and this included 1 Enoch along with Tobit, Ecclesiasticus and Baruch 6.

The book of Enoch was quoted in the apocryphal book of Baruch, and in several early writings, including the “epistle of Barnabas,” as well as by Tertullian and Clement of Alexandria. Some have speculated that Jude 14-15 is a quote from the book of Enoch and concluded that Jude regarded Enoch as inspired Scripture. The following two quotes compare Jude 14-15 to the suspected passage in the book of Enoch:

Jude 14-15 reads: “… Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”

Enoch 1:9 reads: “. . . Behold he comes with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon them, and destroy the wicked, and reprove all of flesh for every thing which the sinful and ungodly have done, and committed against him.”

Even though both passages are close, they are not identical. Jude says that God will “convict” all of the ungodly, but Enoch says that they will be “destroyed.” The rest of the two passages disagree in wording in minor ways.

Therefore, it is not compelling to conclude that Jude quoted from the book of Enoch. Even if he did, he would not have been particularly careful in quoting it verbatim. But apart from the inconsistencies between the letter of Jude and the book of Enoch, and assuming that Jude had quoted from the book of Enoch, this still does not mean that he felt that the entire book had to be inspired.

For an example, Paul quoted a Cretan prophet (whom scholars have identified as Epimenides) in Titus 1:12, but that does not mean that Paul considered the writings of that prophet as godly inspired, or that we should give any additional authority to his writings. Other New Testament quotations from, or allusions to, non-Biblical works include Paul’s quotations of some Greek poets in Acts 17:28 (one of those poets has been identified as Aratus).

In fact, both the Old and the New Testament mention quite a number of books which were not preserved, but which were known to the particular biblical author at the time of his writing. It is obvious that God did not see fit to preserve those books, and they never became part of the canonized Holy Scriptures.

For instance, Numbers 21:14-15 mentions “the Book of the Wars of the Lord.” Joshua 10:13 and 2 Samuel 1:18 refer to and quote from the “Book of Jasher.” 1 Kings 11:41 refers to the “book of the acts of Solomon.” 1 Chronicles 29:29 refers to the “book of Samuel the seer,” “the book of Nathan the prophet,” and “the book of Gad the seer.” 2 Chronicles 12:15 refers to “the book of Shemaiah the prophet” and of “Iddo the seer.” The “book of Jehu the son of Hanani” is mentioned in 2 Chronicles 20:34.

We can deduce from 1 Corinthians 5:9 that Paul wrote another letter to the Corinthians which was not preserved. There is also a reference by Paul to a letter which the Corinthians wrote to him, which is likewise not preserved (compare 1 Corinthians 7:1). Paul makes reference in Colossians 4:16 to an unpreserved “epistle from Laodicea,” which he even instructed the Church at Colossae to read. Luke makes reference to “many” who wrote down events pertaining to the life of Jesus (Luke 1:1-4).

The fact that reference is made in Scripture to some other book or a statement within another book does not mean that those writings were inspired. The same is true for Jude 14. Assuming that Jude quoted from Enoch 1:9, then this still does not indicate that he thought the entire book was inspired or true. All it means is that the particular quoted verse was true.

It is more likely, however, that Jude did not even quote from the book of Enoch. No scholar believes that the book of Enoch was written by the Enoch in the Bible. But it is obvious that the words of Enoch, as quoted by Jude, were something that the true Enoch prophesied. Jude related the prophecy of Enoch, as it had been preserved orally. Notice that Jude introduces Enoch’s words as follows, in verse 14: “Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, SAYING…'” This introduction is then followed by the exact wording of Enoch’s oral prophecy, as quoted in verses 14 and 15.

Note, too, that Jude is not even referring to the book of Enoch in the context. He is just making the point that Enoch had made an oral prophecy, under godly inspiration. That one of the authors of the book of Enoch wrote down the substance of Enoch’s prophecy (even though with slight changes) does not render the book of Enoch inspired.

Consider the additional fact that Moses is quoted in Deuteronomy 33:2, using a similar statement as that of Jude: “‘…The LORD came from Sinai, And dawned on them from Seir; He shone forth from Mount Paran, And He came with ten thousands of saints; From His right hand Came a fiery law for them.'”

While this quote does not reference Enoch, it does verify the same truth of what Jude wrote about.

We can safely say, then, that the Pseudepigrapha books, including the book of Enoch, are NOT inspired writings.

As is the case with the Apocrypha, the Jews never considered any of the Pseudepigrapha books inspired. And as we have pointed out in previous Q&A’s, God entrusted the Jews with preserving the “oracles of God,” including the INSPIRED Old Testament writings. In addition, many parts of the Pseudepigrapha contain heresies condemned in the Old Testament. Especially the book of Enoch preaches falsehood and doctrinal error; for instance, that allegedly angels married humans, and that the giants became evil spirits dwelling on earth (Book of Enoch, chapter 15, verses 8-10). Compare for more information Norbert Link’s sermon, titled, “When the Sons of God Saw the Daughters of Men…”

The Pseudepigrapha books also abound in even more historical errors than the Apocrypha.

Finally, the book of Enoch was never referred to by Jesus or any of the New Testament writers as Scripture, and the book was not included in the New Testament by the apostles. As we explained in a prior Q&A, the apostles Paul, Peter and John canonized the New Testament Scriptures, but the book of Enoch was not one of those books.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

A new StandingWatch program was posted on StandingWatch, Google Video or YouTube. It is titled, “Mr. Obama’s ‘Beginning of the End.'”

In the program, Norbert Link pointed out that without even reading it, Congress “approved” and rubber-stamped the new $800 billion stimulus package. When President Obama signed it into law, he declared that this was the “beginning of the end.” Considering that the USA is already $10 TRILLION in debt, and that the stimulus package and subsequent measures may very well DOUBLE or TRIPLE the national debt within the next few years, what exactly IS the “end” that we are beginning to see?

A new German program was recorded this week and will be posted soon on Google Video and our German Website (www.aufpostenstehen.de). The sermon discusses the three resurrections. It is titled, “Gibt es ein Leben nach dem Tode “(“Is there Life after death?”)

Our annual conference began today, Thursday, February 26, and will last until next Tuesday. Please continue to pray for successful and inspired sessions.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH for your prayers regarding a U.S. Feast site for 2009. We believe that God has provided an excellent Feast site for us, which is located in southern California. A contract with the establishment has been signed, and further announcements as to exact location and the procedure for individual hotel registrations by participants will be forthcoming.

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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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