Update 407


To the Galatians

On August 15, 2009, Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, “To the Galatians.”

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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Spiritual Immune System


God created us with the ability to develop an immune system. Beginning at birth, a child is not fully equipped to fight off the onslaught of germs, though the mother is able to immediately aid in this by nursing. As we grow older, we grow stronger and more resistant to the common infectious agents that attack us.

When God calls us into a new way of life, He implements an additional system, as it were. As babes in the church, He infuses us with a small amount of His Holy Spirit. Initially and to a large extent, we are nurtured (1 Peter 2:2) by the mother of us all, which is the church (Galatians 4:26). This enables us to fight the spiritual diseases that bombard our system and seek to destroy us (1 Peter 5:8). As we grow along the Way (2 Peter 3:18), our spiritual immunity becomes robust and resilient. The ills that used to plague us, no longer do, because we have matured and overcome them.

To ensure that we continue to stay in good spiritual health, we should make every effort to maintain the best spiritual immune system possible. We can facilitate this by eating right (John 6:48), exercising (1 Timothy 4:7) and getting plenty of rest (Hebrews 4:9; Matthew 11:28-29).

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Even though some overly optimistic voices in the US and overseas have pronounced that the recession might be coming to an end or is already over, based on highly questionable statistics, this is only wishful and unrealistic thinking. The same “experts” who make such pronouncements tried to keep the public in the dark for a long time, denying for over a year that the US was in a recession. A biting commentary in Der Stern, dated August 13, pointed out that the positive figures are “deceitful” and that “the worst is still to come.” The EUObserver wrote on August 13 that “Europe’s industrial production fell in June after a mild improvement in May, making economists wonder if the long-awaited recovery is actually that close.” The Associated Press added on August 13 that “Retail sales [in the US] disappointed in July and the number of newly laid-off workers filing claims for unemployment benefits rose UNEXPECTEDLY last week.”

In the midst of an ONGOING recession, US House lawmakers are prepared to spend $550 million for eight unnecessary passenger jets for use of governmental officials. But frankly, this would only be a drop in the bucket of US “handling” or better “mishandling” of its economic situation. Irresponsible overseas US spending is also highlighted in an article by the Washington Post, discussing Mr. Obama’s ambitions to continue the unsuccessful but highly expensive war in Afghanistan–which could cost the country even more than Mr. Bush’s unsuccessful war in Iraq. The Associated Press reported on August 12 that “The federal deficit climbed higher into record territory in July, hitting $1.27 trillion with two months remaining in the budget year… The Obama administration is projecting that when the current budget year ends on Sept. 30, the imbalance will total $1.84 trillion, more than four times last year’s record-high.”

And so, it is not surprising that, according to the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll, the approval rate for President Obama’s performance has reached an all-time low. According to the Rasmussen Reports, dated August 13, “47% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the President’s performance. That’s the lowest level of total approval yet recorded. The President’s ratings first fell below 50% just a few weeks ago on July 25. Fifty-two percent (52%) now disapprove.”

While the United States and Arab countries try to pressure Israel to freeze West Bank settlements, Germany’s Defense Minister will be proposing a constitutional amendment to allow German armed forces to play a more active role in domestic and foreign affairs. This is highly remarkable, also in light of Europe’s united stance against Iran’s provocations and the realization that somehow the Muslim influx in Europe needs to be dealt with, as–according to biblical prophecy–European military, under German leadership, will invade the Middle East in the near future. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Europe in Prophecy.”

In other news, even though the Internet is playing an important role in Europe, almost one-third of Europeans don’t use it at all. And while some bizarre measures are proposed, which are being developed by RIVAL (!) US and British scientists, to fight global warming–such as the use of “cloud ships” to change the climate–the war of words between pro- and con- global warming proponents is ongoing. An interesting poll suggests that an increasing number of Americans believe now that the media exaggerated global warming, and that no effects of global warming have started to occur.

A British research report warns against giving antiviral drugs to children for swine flu, which have little or no effect, but which are causing dangerous side effects. For more information on healing and health, please read our free booklet, “Sickness and Healing–What the Bible Tells Us”.

And finally, did you think that there is no compulsory service in the United States? Think again and consider jury duty. But while religious convictions against compulsory service in the military have been recognized even during the time of the draft, our court systems are systemically trying to undermine, violate and ignore our constitutional rights of being exempted from compulsory service of jury duty because of sincere religious convictions.

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Incredible–$550 Million for Additional Government Passenger Jets!

The Wall Street Journal wrote on August 10:

“Bipartisan opposition is emerging in the Senate to a plan by House lawmakers to spend $550 million for [eight] additional passenger jets for senior government officials… The plan to upgrade the fleet of government jets… has also sparked criticism from the Pentagon, which has said it doesn’t need half of the new jets.

“‘The whole thing kind of makes me sick to my stomach,’ said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.) in an interview Sunday. ‘It is evidence that some of the cynicism about Washington is well placed — that people get out of touch and they spend money like it’s Monopoly money.’ Several other senators said they share the concerns and will work to oppose the funding for the jets when the legislation is taken up by the Senate in September…

“The tension over the jets is erupting just as lawmakers embark on the high season for government travel. Traditionally, August is the busiest travel period of the year, since Congress usually recesses for a month. Since 1995, House lawmakers have disclosed a total of $6.2 million in travel expenses for all the months of August…”

The Ongoing Expensive Afghan War

The Washington Post wrote on August 9:

“As the Obama administration expands U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, military experts are warning that the United States is taking on security and political commitments that will last at least a decade and a cost that will probably eclipse that of the Iraq war. Since the invasion of Afghanistan eight years ago, the United States has spent $223 billion on war-related funding for that country… The costs are almost certain to keep growing…

“‘We will need a large combat presence for many years to come, and we will probably need a large financial commitment longer than that,’ said Stephen Biddle, a senior fellow for defense policy at the Council on Foreign Relations… The expansion of the Afghan security force that the general will recommend to secure the country ‘will inevitably cost much more than any imaginable Afghan government is going to be able to afford on its own,’ Biddle added…

“The task that the United States has taken on in Afghanistan is in many ways more difficult than the one it has encountered in Iraq, where the U.S. government has spent $684 billion in war-related funding… Unlike in Iraq, where Obama has established a timeline for U.S. involvement, the president has not said when he would like to see troops withdrawn from Afghanistan.”

USA and Arabs vs. Israel

Reuters reported on August 6:

“The United States has asked Israel to freeze West Bank settlement for a year to prod Arab countries to take steps towards normalising relations with the Jewish state… The issue has opened the widest rift in US-Israeli relations in a decade and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has said peace negotiations with Israel, suspended since December, cannot resume until settlement activity ceases.

“Kuwait and Jordan said last week in Washington that Israel should fulfil its obligations before peace talks can resume. Saudi Arabia accused the Jewish state of not being serious about peace with the Palestinians…”

The Effect of Europe’s Moslems on Europe’s Policy

Israel National News wrote on August 10:

“A high birth rate among Muslim immigrants to Europe will make followers of the religion a majority of the population in many European Union countries in less than 40 years… Previous forecasts of population changes already have proven to be too low, and the baby boom already is changing the face of European society…

“Europe’s Muslim population has more than doubled since 1980 and will double again in less than six years… The high population numbers are the result of Europe’s open immigration policies that have attracted Muslims from poorer countries and whose birth rate is far higher than those of European non-Muslims… The number of Muslims in Europe today is far above 15 million and may be as many as 25 million…

“Long-term effects of the growing Muslim population may be felt in foreign relations, particularly with the United States, but immediate changes have been implemented in areas concerning Islamic law, known as Sharia. Last year, the British government quietly allowed Muslim religion courts to rule on Muslim civil cases concerning divorces, financial disputes and domestic violence, creating fears that Muslims will establish a legal system parallel and with equal authority as the British legal system. Muslim clerics responded that Jewish courts also are allowed to operate.”

More Powers for the German Army?

Deutsche Welle wrote on August 9:

“[German Defense Minister] Franz Josef Jung has called for a constitutional amendment giving the German armed forces an enhanced role in operations to release hostages. Under existing law, German police are responsible for hostage situations…

“The minister cited the recent episode involving German container ship the Hansa Stavanger, which was hijacked with 24 crew on board, including five Germans, off the coast of Somalia four months ago. He said that in the time it took a German police team to deploy to the Horn of Africa the situation had worsened. Only five pirates had boarded the ship initially, but their numbers eventually swelled to around 35, he noted…

“Jung said the amendment should not only apply to international operations but also to certain domestic cases in which the German armed forces were better suited to handle a situation. The Hansa Stavanger was eventually released four months after being captured when the Hamburg-based shipping company that owns the ship paid a 1.9-million-euro ransom.”

Europe Condemns Iran’s Show Trials

The EUObserver wrote on August 10:

“Sweden’s EU presidency has criticised Iran for putting on trial British and French embassy staff… Relations between the EU and Tehran have deteriorated following the protests, with the Iranian government accusing European diplomats of secretly helping opposition activists.

“In reaction to Saturday’s events, Stockholm expressed ‘concern over the ongoing trial in Tehran in the aftermath of the elections, including against two EU Member State embassy employees and one EU citizen. Actions against one EU country – citizen or embassy staff – is considered an action against all of EU, and will be treated accordingly. The EU will closely follow the trial and demand that the persons will be released promptly,’ it said.

“London and Paris also spoke out against the trial. British foreign minister David Miliband criticised the ‘unjustified charges’ against a member of embassy staff… [He] said the trial in Tehran was the ‘latest Iranian provocation’ which ‘only brings further discredit on the Iranian regime’… The trial on Saturday was the second judiciary proceeding against the protesters. Last week, more than 100 people, including leading reformers, appeared in court in Tehran on charges including conspiracy…”

Internet of Low Interest for Many Elderly or Unemployed Europeans

The EUObserver wrote on August 5:

“Almost half of Europeans [43 %] use the internet every day but one third – mainly the elderly, the unemployed or people in rural areas – have never used the web… seventy five percent use it… at least once a week…

“With 114 million subscribers, the EU is the largest world market for fixed broadband access. Half of European households and more than 80 percent of European businesses have a fixed broadband connection… But while broadband is technically available to 90 percent of EU households only 50 percent use it in practice, with mainly low-income families opting out. Low usage rates are also seen among the 65 to 74 age group, economically inactive people and people with low levels of education.”

From a Science Fiction Novel–Cloud Ships to Change Climate???

On August 7, The Telegraph wrote the following:

“The ‘cloud ships’ are favoured among a series of schemes aimed at altering the climate… The project, which is being worked on by rival US and UK scientists, would see 1,900 wind-powered ships ply the oceans sucking up seawater and spraying minuscule droplets of it out through tall funnels to create large white clouds. These clouds, it is predicted, would reflect around one or two per cent of the sunlight that would otherwise warm the ocean, thereby cancelling out the greenhouse effect caused by Carbon Dioxide emissions. The unmanned ships would be directed by satellite to areas with the best conditions for increasing cloud cover, mainly in the Pacific and far enough away from land so as not to affect normal rainfall patterns…

“The Royal Society is expected to announce that the decade-old cloud ship plan is one of the most promising. The Copenhagen Consensus Centre… examined the various plans and found the cloud ships to be the most cost-effective. They would cost $9 billion (£5.3 billion) to test and launch within 25 years, compared to the $250 billion that the world’s leading nations are considering spending each year to cut CO2 emissions, and the $395 trillion it would cost to launch mirrors into space. At present, British and American teams are seeking funding to launch sea trials…

“Another scheme considered by the Copenhagen Consensus Centre is one to mimic the effects of volcanic eruptions in shielding the sun’s rays with a chemical haze and creating a global cooling effect that can last for over a year… However, the scheme would cost $230 billion and could not be reversed, unlike the cloud ships scheme.”

Global Warming–Con…

The Las Vegas Review Journal wrote August 9:

“… as leaders including former President Bill Clinton, former Vice President Al Gore and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger encourage investments in alternative energy, their policy prescriptions could face serious headwinds from changing public opinions. Recent surveys show Americans cooling to global warming, and they’re even less keen on environmental policies they believe might raise power bills or imperil jobs…

“The number of Americans who say the media have exaggerated global warming jumped to a record 41 percent in 2009, up from 35 percent a year ago. The most marked increase came among political independents, whose ranks of doubters swelled from 33 percent to 44 percent. Republican doubters grew from 59 percent to 66 percent, while Democratic skeptics stayed at around 20 percent.

“What’s more, fewer Americans believe the effects of global warming have started to occur: 53 percent see signs of a hotter planet, down from 61 percent in 2008. Global warming placed last among eight environmental concerns Gallup asked respondents to rank, with water pollution landing the top spot.”

… and Pro…

Deutsche Welle wrote on August 10:

“Delegations from 192 countries are meeting in Bonn to continue negotiations towards a global climate deal, which is to be finalised at a much-anticipated UN meeting in Copenhagen in December. At the recent G-8 summit in the earthquake-devastated Italian town of L’Aquila, developed nations, including the US, promised to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius by 2050. However, climate experts and environmental groups say even two degrees is far too high and would have cataclysmic consequences…

“Despite the hundreds of pages of suggestions, solid commitments from UN member nations have not been forthcoming. Disputes continue about who should do what and in what time frame. There are also questions about who should provide financing for developing nations so that they can also combat the effects of climate change… Developed nations have been reluctant to agree to concrete commitments without the support of developing nations, especially China and India…”

Dangerous Antiviral Drugs to Children for Swine Flu

BBC News reported on August 10:

“Research has cast doubt on the policy of giving antiviral drugs to children for swine flu. Work in the British Medical Journal shows Tamiflu and Relenza rarely prevent complications in children with seasonal flu, yet carry side effects…

“While the latest study shows that antivirals can shorten the duration of normal seasonal flu in children by up to a day and a half, it also shows that they have little or no effect on asthma flare-ups, ear infections or the likelihood of children needing antibiotics. But the drugs can cause unpleasant side effects, such as vomiting with Tamiflu. There is also the risk that widespread use of the drugs will mean the flu virus will develop resistance to them.

“For most children aged between 1 and 12, the risks associated with taking the drugs may well outweigh any benefits, say the researchers. They say parents with sick children should make sure they get lots of rest and enough fluids and that they should contact their doctor if the child’s condition gets worse. In most cases, swine flu is a relatively mild disease…

“Co-researcher Dr Carl Heneghan, a GP and clinical lecturer at Oxford University, said the current policy of giving Tamiflu for mild illness was an ‘inappropriate strategy.’ He said: ‘The downside of the harms outweigh the one-day reduction in symptomatic benefits’…

“A Department of Health spokesman said: ‘Whilst there is doubt about how swine flu affects children, we believe a safety-first approach of offering antivirals to everyone remains a sensible and responsible way forward. However, we will keep this policy under review as we learn more about the virus and its effects…'”

Jury Duty–America’s Compulsory Service

The Daily Herald wrote on August 10:

“‘Jurors are defending the very cornerstone of our justice system,’ said Sam Amirante, a former Cook County Circuit Court judge now in private practice in Palatine. ‘Their duty is no less important than those soldiers who are dying in Afghanistan to protect our freedom.’ Since Congress abolished the military draft more than 30 years ago, jury service remains the country’s only remaining compulsory service. ‘Jury duty is the one occasion today when an American can be drafted into service,’ said attorney Clarence Burch…

“Yet, most people treat a jury summons like the onset of flu season: hoping the bug passes them by… Prospective jurors typically cite a medical condition, role as a primary caregiver for a child or economic hardship when they’re looking to get out of jury duty… and the law allows the courts to excuse people for those reasons…

“Any juror who advocates the death penalty in all circumstances likely would be excluded for cause… The same would hold for a juror who refuses to impose the death penalty under any circumstances…

“Experts say there’s no such thing as a prosecutor’s or a defense’s juror. Moreover, stereotypes related to gender, education level, economic status, residence, political affiliation, religion don’t necessarily hold…

“Judges and attorneys can do their part by adhering to a reasonable schedule, stipulating to certain facts or issues, keeping sidebars to a minimum, ruling on controversial issues in advance and streamlining cross examination…”

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Why was there slavery in the Old Testament? Why didn't the early apostles condemn slavery? Will there be slavery in the Millennium?

We can safely say that it was never God’s intent for man to engage in the kind of slavery which has brought so much misery and pain on others. We can also say that it was never God’s original intent that there should be any form of slavery. And we conclude that it will be very unlikely that there will be any slavery in the Millennium.

To give an overview of the ORIGIN of slavery in the Bible, let us quote from The Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, by James Hastings:

“The causes of slavery are at first sight manifold. It may be the result of capture in war; it may be the punishment for crime or debt; or a man who is starving may sell himself or his children to buy food. But, the more we examine the subject, the more we find that the primary cause is capture in war, particularly when the war is between different races…”

As to the primary reason for slavery–capture in war–this concept won’t exist anymore in the Millennium as there will be no more wars in the Millennium (Isaiah 2:1-4). Also, since all will live in prosperity and there will be no more poverty, that reason for slavery won’t exist anymore, either (Micah 4:1-4; Zechariah 3:10). Finally, “slavery” for punishment of crime or debt in the Millennium might likewise be non-existent, as people might not be allowed to actually carry out crimes or go into debt, necessitating that kind of punishment or treatment (compare Isaiah 30:20-21).

We should also mention that it was never God’s original intent that men should be poor in the first place (Deuteronomy 15:1-6). Nor was it God’s original intent that men should go to war, as we explain in detail in our free booklet, “Should You Fight in War?” It was only when man decided that he wanted to fight, that God gave laws which regulated warfare and its consequences–mostly to prevent the kind of terrible abuses which were so prevalent in other ancient societies and which are still so prevalent today.

The Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, by James Hastings, continues:

“Slavery existed among the Hebrews, as among all the peoples of antiquity, but it appears in milder forms and was inspired by a more humane spirit than in either Greece or Rome…”

The Nelson Study Bible adds:

“… the Jews practiced slavery… A Jewish slave belonged to the family of the owner and had certain religious and social rights. If the slave was a Hebrew, the term of slavery was limited to six years… But even if the slave was a Gentile, the owner’s power was limited… If a master punished and injured a slave in his possession, the slave was to be set free. If the punishment resulted in the slave’s death, then the master was to be punished. The slave was viewed as a person and was to be treated fairly, which differed from the Roman system of slavery…”

It is indeed correct that the kind of “slavery,” as described in Old Testament passages, cannot be remotely compared with the terrible curse of slavery which had been adopted by other cultures in ancient antiquity or which was later practiced and carried out by other cultures, including those of the “Christian” Western societies.

We are setting forth below several examples showing the “humane spirit” of the ancient biblical concept of slavery, while remembering that God had never intended that slavery should exist at all. Still, God saw to it that slaves would have rights and privileges:

As mentioned above, the Bible prohibited the abuse of slaves and required the punishment of the master or the freedom of the slaves in case of physical abuse (Exodus 21:20, 26-27).

Deuteronomy 21:10-14 described the rights of a female slave who had been captured in war.

Deuteronomy 23:16 expressly prohibited that an escaped slave would be returned to his cruel master.

In 1 Chronicles 2:34-35, we find that an Egyptian slave became the son-in-law of his master.

Slaves could even become heirs to the property of their masters (compare Genesis 15:2-3).

Slaves were included in God’s command of rest on the Sabbath, and they were exempted from forced labor on that day (Exodus 20:10).

Slaves were allowed to participate in the Passover, after they were circumcised (Exodus 12:44).

Slaves of priests were allowed to eat the food dedicated to the priests (Leviticus 22:11).

And in Job 31:13-15, we find Job’s exclamation that a godly master would respect the rights and causes of his male or female slave, pointing out that God had made them as well as Job.

In this light, we need to examine why we don’t find explicit condemnation of the concept of slavery in the New Testament.

The Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, by James Hastings, writes:

“There is no explicit condemnation of slavery in the teaching of our Lord. It would even be difficult to say how much He refers to it, as the Greek can mean ‘slave,’ ‘bond servant,’ or ‘servant.’… it is in the Epistle to Philemon that St. Paul’s teaching is most clear. Onesimus was a runaway slave whom the apostle was sending back to his master Philemon… there is no condemnation of slavery…”

The Nelson Study Bible writes:

“At that time [when Paul wrote the letter to Philemon], the slave-master relationship was as common as the employee-employer relationship is today… In his letters the apostle Paul did not approve of slavery, but he also did not condemn it. He exhorted slaves to demonstrate Christian obedience and humility even to their masters… In turn, Christian masters were to treat their slaves fairly… Yet at the same time, Paul declared the equality of both slaves and free persons before Christ [compare Galatians 3:28; Colossians 3:11; 1 Corinthians 12:13], a principle that would eventually undermine the institution of slavery… The letter [to Philemon] is basically an earnest plea for a Christian love that would confront the cruelty and hatred embodied in the cultural institutions of that day…”

It might appear that Paul’s approach seemed to have been in opposition to the explicit command in Deuteronomy 23:16, not to return a slave to his master. But this is only the case at first glance. If we review these passages more carefully, we find that Deuteronomy 23:16 prohibits the return of an abused slave against the slave’s will. In the case of Paul, the escaped slave Onesimus [the Bible does not tell us WHY Onesimus ran away] perfectly agreed to return to his master Philemon, as Paul encouraged Philemon to receive his slave back with Christian love and to treat him as a brother in the faith.

In trying to explain Paul’s approach, we find the following comments in The New Bible Commentary:Revised:

“Although slaves are mentioned in several Pauline Epistles, in none does slavery appear so vividly as in [the letter to Philemon], since the whole Epistle revolves around a runaway slave. The question arises why Paul did not take the opportunity of pointing out in a more direct manner the evils of the whole system. Certain factors must be borne in mind before an answer is suggested. Slavery was so integral a part in the social system that a direct confrontation with the State to abolish it, even if it had been possible for the Christian church to embark on such a crusade, would have resulted in nothing short of revolution. Paul was certainly no revolutionary…

“Although the Christian could not have hoped to make abolition of slavery a political platform, they could set an example to the world at large concerning the way in which Christianity… could mitigate its evils. This brief letter is a notable example of such an approach in that Paul argues that a new relationship must develop between Philemon and Onesimus, since both master and slave were now Christians…”

We must remember that Paul included several striking passages about “slaves” in New Testament times. Even though he demanded that Christian “slaves” work obediently and sincerely for their Christian or non-Christian masters (Ephesians 6:5-8), while exhorting those masters to treat their “slaves” fairly (Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 4:1), he did encourage slaves to sever the master-slave relationship, if that could be done (compare 1 Corinthians 7:21).

Paul also prohibited Christians from becoming voluntarily slaves of men (verse 22). These prohibitions also apply to us today in our “free” Western societies, even though the concept of “slavery” might not be that obvious at first sight–for instance, a true Christian should not volunteer to join the military and thereby become a slave of man.

Apart from these Christian principles regulating a master-slave relationship, we must understand that it has never been the role, function and responsibility of the Church of God to change the world now, or to undermine the systems and governments of this world. True Christians don’t participate in the wars of this world, nor do they vote in governmental elections nor participate in any attempts to overthrow the government. As explained in our free booklet, “Should You Fight in War?,” Christians are ambassadors of Christ and representatives of a better world–the heavenly kingdom–to be set up on this earth within a few years from now.

Focusing on these facts, we might understand better WHY the New Testament or the apostle Paul did not condemn or even address the concept of slavery per se: This is NOT God’s world, but Satan’s (compare Matthew 4:8-9); Christians are not here for the purpose of “improving” Satan’s rotten evil world (Galatians 1:4)–of trying to make this evil world a better world. They know that this world will be REPLACED by a better world (Daniel 2:44; Revelation 11:15-18)–attempts to IMPROVE or change THIS Satan-ruled world for the better are doomed to fail. However, Christians are to live in this world and its numerous systems as lights, showing as Christ’s ambassadors how they CAN live as Christians in this world, without becoming a part of it, regardless of what circumstance they might find themselves in. Even when they were imprisoned, Joseph or Paul continued to live as true Christians.

Paul was not trying to change the system. He taught that we are to obey our governmental leaders (Romans 13:1-7), except when their laws or directives contradict God’s commands (Acts 5:29; 4:19). His letter to Philemon shows how one can live in the world and within its systems, and still be a Christian.

Based on the foregoing, we feel that it is highly unlikely that there will exist any slavery in the Millennium. But how are we to understand a Scripture like Isaiah 14:1-2, which deals with the Millennium and might suggest the existence of some form of slavery? The passage reads:

“For the LORD will have mercy on Jacob, and will still choose Israel, and settle them in their own land. The strangers will be joined with them, and they will cling to the house of Jacob. Then people will take them and bring them to their place, and the house of Israel will possess them for servants and maids in the land of the LORD; they will take them captive whose captives they were, and rule over their oppressors.”

Upon closer examination, this passage does not seem to teach that men will enslave others in the Millennium. Note how some commentaries explain this Scripture.

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible writes:

“‘And they shall take them captive…’ — That is, they shall induce them to become proselytes; to be willing to accompany them to their own homes, and to become their servants there. It does not mean that they would subdue them by force; but they would be able, by their influence there, to disarm their opposition; and to induce them to become the friends of their religion… This is one instance where the people of God would show that they could disarm their oppressors by a mild and winning demeanour, and in which they would be able to induce others to join with them. Such would be the force of their example and conduct, of their conversation and of their deportment…”

The commentary of Jamieson, Fausset and Brown adds: “‘captives’ — not by physical, but by moral might; the force of love, and regard to Israel’s God [compare Isaiah 60:14].”

Finally, John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible states:

“… this will have… accomplishment in the latter day, when the Gentiles shall bring their sons and daughters in their arms, and on their shoulders, and on horses, and in chariots, to Jerusalem [Isaiah 49:21-23]… [They will choose] rather to be servants and handmaids to them, than to return to their own land, and who were a kind of inheritance or possession to the [Israelites]… It may be understood of Gentile converts…, who would willingly and cheerfully engage in the service of the church of God, and by love serve his people, and one another [Isaiah 61:5]…”

In conclusion, it was never God’s intent that there should be any kind of slavery in the first place–had mankind chosen to OBEY God. It is highly unlikely that God will use men to enslave others in the Millennium. This is not to say, however, that God won’t deal with uncompromising power and authority regarding individuals and nations who refuse to obey God, until they yield to God’s rule (compare Revelation 2:27; Zechariah 14:11–20; Ezekiel 38:18-23; 39:1-16).

In the meantime, Christians have to strive to live within the laws of man–whatever they might be–unless they contradict the laws of God. No matter what circumstance we might find ourselves in, we still can and should continue to live the way of God.

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

A new StandingWatch program was posted on Standingwatch and YouTube. It is titled, “Coming–The Third Jerusalem Temple?” In the program, Norbert Link points out that a poll was released on the saddest day on the Hebrew calendar–the fasting day of Tisha B’Av–revealing that nearly two-thirds of Israelis say the time is right to rebuild the Jerusalem Temple — “an idea politically unthinkable in Israel just 10 years ago.” What does the Bible say about future daily sacrifices and the building of a Third Temple just prior to the return of the Messiah? What is the abomination of desolation, referred to by Daniel and Jesus?

A new German sermon was posted this week on the Web. It is titled “Die Verwandten Jesu Christi, Teil 1” (“Jesus Christ’s Relatives, Part 1”).

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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

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