Update 409


Beware of False Prophecies!

by Norbert Link

For many, prophecy is an intriguing subject–and it seems that every wind of speculation finds its itching ears in those who want to hear “something new” (Acts 17:21). But only God’s Spirit of prophecy (Revelation 19:10) can show us what truly lies ahead (John 16:13). Unless men are speaking under the inspiration of God’s Spirit, their prognostications are useless–nothing more than wild imaginations and fairy tales (2 Peter 1:20).

Recently, more and more wrong concepts have been circulated on the Internet. A popular new book claims that the “Antichrist” will be a Muslim. Biblically, this idea is absurd. First of all, the Bible does not even mention once “THE” Antichrist (see our Q&A on that subject). But the Bible does talk about the “beast” and the “false prophet”–a coming military leader as well as a future religious leader. However, neither will be a Muslim. The true Church of God under the late Herbert W. Armstrong has proclaimed correctly for almost a century that these personages will be part of the last revival of the ancient Roman Empire. But it seems that now, even some in diverse Church of God organizations have lost focus.

There are those who claim that the woman and the beast in Revelation 17 are America and Europe–an absolutely preposterous concept. As history and the biblical records reveal, the woman is the Catholic Church which was prophesied to sit on the last seven revivals of the Roman Empire. America has never played any role in any of the last six revivals which have already occurred–and it won’t do so in the last one, either, which is already beginning to occur in Europe before our very eyes.

(All of this is clearly explained in many of our free booklets, including, “Europe in Prophecy“; “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord“; “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America“; “Is That in the Bible?–The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation!”; and “The Book of Zechariah–Prophecies for Today!” )

Then there are those who question the biblical teaching that God will protect many of His loyal disciples at a place of safety here on earth. Others falsely believe that God will secretly rapture His saints to heaven and protect them there for several months or years, prior to Christ’s return to rule all nations.

Some–in misinterpreting a passage in Daniel 9–erroneously claim that Europe will make a covenant with the state of Israel for seven years, which will be broken after 3 1/2 years–even though the true Church of God never taught this in the past, while it correctly understood and explained for decades that, according to Scripture, Europe will be in a confederation with Arab nations AGAINST Israel. (See our Q&A on that subject)

Others insist that an end-time “king of the south,” still to come, will consist of numerous Arab nations rising against Europe–a concept contradicting the biblical fact that Europe and Arab nations will be united against Israel. The true Church of God has consistently taught that IF there is still a king of the south yet to arrive on the world scene just prior to Christ’s return, it would have to be Ethiopia. (See our Q&As on that subject, and also note an interesting news report in this week’s “Current Events.”)

Some, if not many, are determined to somehow figure out the “approximate” year of Christ’s return–sometimes quoting Scriptures out of context to “prove” their case–even though Christ has told us that ONLY God the Father knows the exact time. [One “minister,” claiming to be part of the Church of God, has said that Christ will return on Saturday, May 26, 2012, and that he and his wife are the two witnesses. What incredible nonsense and deception!] We are warned NOT to try to determine the year or the month or the day of Christ’s Second Coming (Matthew 24:36, 42, 44).

The list of false prophetic pronouncements seems to be endless and ever-growing. Hardly a week goes by without someone raising his (or her) voice to proclaim some newly “revealed” special prophetic knowledge regarding end-time events.

The right understanding of prophecy MUST be taught in God’s Church. It must not be ignored. Prophecy is indeed very helpful, good and important, if it is understood correctly and used wisely and properly–not for the purpose of wanting to be someone with insightful knowledge, upon whom God has placed His “stamp of approval,” but as a motivation and an incentive to qualify and to be counted worthy for the kingdom of God (Luke 21:34-36; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11).

Don’t be deceived! It’s easy, perhaps, to become uncertain of the truth when even some of those who claim to be a part of the body of Christ begin to teach false doctrines and to disseminate wrong prophetic “speculations.” Christ says to watch and pray so that we don’t fall into temptation–because it is prophesied that many will be deceived by wrong teachers and the love of many–including for the truth–will grow cold (Matthew 24:11-12; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12) .

Stick to the trunk of the tree–and don’t become obsessed with some leaves which, upon closer scrutiny, might have fallen off the tree–or which were not even part of the tree in the first place.

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In our lead segment, we are reporting on the death of Senator Edward Kennedy. Whether considered to be a friend or a foe, his death ends a legacy of about 50 years, and his decisive and influential role in politics will leave a void that may change considerably Washington’s future and dealing with other countries, such as Israel.  

Next, we take note of the ever-growing controversy pertaining to Scotland’s release of a convicted terrorist and mass murderer, after it was revealed that Gordon Brown and Muammar Gaddafi had struck a deal ahead of time. But while Brown wanted the release to be kept low key, Gaddafi used the occasion for a festive celebration. This matter has extremely angered the United States and might have severe economic repercussions on US-British relationships.

For the fourth time, Germany’s Angela Merkel has been judged as the world’s most powerful woman–whereas US Secretary of State Clinton was not perceived to belong to the leading group. And Merkel is willing to exert her role–as shown in her meeting with Israel’s Netanyahu. In view of upcoming elections, radical Islamists have attacked Germany over the Internet in an unprecedented scope, and the German government is taking threats of a “Holy War” against the country quite seriously.

While some are expecting the rise of a future “king of the south” in all the wrong places, history and the Bible show that IF there is still a king of the south to manifest himself on the world scene (compare Daniel 11:40), he will reveal himself in Ethiopia. The report on comments by Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and the push of African leaders from the capital of Ethiopia–the African Union Headquarters (!)–for an insane amount of money linked to global warming is quite interesting in that regard.

Turning to social issues in the USA, we are publishing reports which show the total lack of sound biblical understanding, including the permission of the Lutheran Church to allow practicing homosexuals within their clergy; a campaign for unprecedented massive “voluntary” and incredibly costly swine flu vaccinations (without a full comprehension as to how to administer those vaccinations and their potential dangerous side effects); a recommendation for circumcision to enable people to continue engaging in illicit sex; and scientists’ attempts to “prove” the improvable concept of the fairy tale of evolution.

A thought-provoking article about the West’s “culture of death” discusses, among others, the concepts of “just war,” abortion and suicide. All of these concepts are wrong in God’s eyes. God never intended that man should fight in war–or take human life through abortion or suicide. Instead, He had intended to use hornets to drive out Israel’s enemies. An article about hornets in France shows how powerful such a “weapon” could be. For more information on this vital, but largely misunderstood topic, please read our free booklet, “Should You Fight in War?”

We end with a continuation of reports on the terrible economic situation in the USA, with more banks failing and the FDIC’s insurance fund shrinking to historically low levels, leaving the government with few and limited options, including that of increasing its national debt and printing more and more money (causing a deflation of the dollar); raising taxes (even though President Obama had promised not to do that) or cutting entitlements to US citizens, including social security or Medicare payments.

Please make sure to watch our new StandingWatch program, titled, “FDIC’s Fund Almost Empty.” It is posted on StandingWatch and YouTube.

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The Death of Senator Edward Kennedy

The Financial Times wrote on August 26:

“Edward Kennedy, who died on Tuesday night from the consequences of a brain tumour at the age of 77, surely found political and personal redemption in the end. He did not fulfil the ambitions of his dynastic family by becoming president of the United States, as one brother did and as another might have, both victims of the assassin’s bullets, but he became a lion of the US Senate, liked and admired by friend and foe alike.

“His legislative record, touching domestic subjects as vital as immigration, healthcare and education, was second to none. As the country drifted to the right over the past 30 years, his was the distinctive and loudest voice of the liberalism born in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. Yet, as politics became more bitterly partisan, he worked across party lines, forming alliances with the most improbable opponents…

“His hand appeared to be in virtually every piece of legislation, aided by a staff that was, and is, widely reckoned to be unmatched in talent on Capitol Hill. His principal causes remained immigration, lifting the minimum wage, healthcare, education, the environment and everything to do with the administration of justice.

“And for all his reputation as the leading liberal, he made practical friendships and relationships across the aisle – with Senator John McCain of Arizona on immigration reform and with the staunchly conservative Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah on judicial matters. He even helped steer President Bush’s ‘no child left behind’ education act through the Senate, though he subsequently became critical of its implementation and, in his view, under-funding. That apart, he had little truck with the administration’s overall policies, voting against authorising the war in Iraq and frequently eviscerating everything the justice department did, especially when Alberto Gonzales was attorney general.

“… when Ted Kennedy endorsed Mr Obama, not Hillary Clinton, for the Democratic presidential nomination in the early spring of 2008, there was clearly the sense of the passing of the liberal torch…”

Haaretz wrote on August 26:

“President Shimon Peres on Wednesday expressed deep sorrow on behalf of Israel at the death of U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy… Peres said that… ‘Kennedy was a clear friend of Israel the whole way, and in every place that he could help us he did help’… Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman also expressed his condolences, calling Kennedy a great friend of Israel and the Jewish people. He added that Kennedy protected human rights, and was the son of a distinguished family who stood by Israel, even in difficult times, during his many years of service in the Senate…

“During his nearly half century in the chamber, Kennedy became known as one of Washington’s most effective senators, crafting legislation by working with lawmakers and presidents of both parties, and finding unlikely allies. At the same time, he held fast to liberal causes deemed anachronistic by the centrist ‘New Democrats,’ and was a lightning rod for conservative ire. He helped enact measures to protect civil and labor rights, expand healthcare, upgrade schools, increase student aid and contain the spread of nuclear weapons.”

Bild Online wrote on August 26:

“US Senator Edward Kennedy… served in the senate for 47 years and his passing has left a massive hole in Washington’s political life. ‘Time’ magazine wrote in 2006 that Ted Kennedy had affected the life of every American… He was branded a socialist by his political enemies, and feared for his enormous influence in Washington. To his allies he was a figurehead and torchbearer of liberalism and respected by all…

“At the start of his Senate career he was badly injured in a plane crash and was forced to recover on the sidelines for six months. He later said that his experiences of the American health system after the crash led him to fight for universal healthcare…”

The Wall Street Journal added on August 26:

“The death of Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts is not only a personal loss for many of his Senate colleagues, but it also leaves Democrats short a key vote as they attempt to pass major legislation in the coming months, including a health care overhaul. Before his death, Kennedy wrote a letter to Massachusetts political leaders asking them to change the succession rules so as not to have a prolonged vacancy until a special election can be held early next year…

“In his request, Kennedy asked state leaders to give Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick the authority to appoint a temporary seat-filler until the election can be held… Initially, the request was met with a lukewarm response and none of the key lawmakers publicly embraced the plan. But on Tuesday, Senate President Therese Murray signaled… that she is now open to such a request.”

Brown’s Deal With Gaddafi Over Release of Convicted Libyan Terrorist

The Guardian wrote on August 23:

“Gordon Brown faced fresh questions tonight after it emerged that he discussed with Colonel Gaddafi detailed conditions for the Lockerbie bomber’s return nearly six weeks ago, while senior Labour figures warned of an economic backlash from angry Americans ‘costing our country dear’.

“Downing Street released the text of a cordial letter sent to the Libyan leader on the day that Abdulbaset al-Megrahi was released, asking that the event be kept low key because a ‘high-profile’ ceremony would distress his victims and their families. But critically the letter also refers to a meeting between the two leaders six weeks earlier at the G8 summit in Italy, adding that ‘when we met [there] I stressed that, should the Scottish executive decide that Megrahi can return to Libya, this should be a purely private family occasion’ rather than a public celebration.

“… the new letter, addressed to ‘Dear Muammar’ and signed off by wishing him a happy Ramadan, suggests that the decision was well enough advanced and Brown well enough briefed to set terms for a homecoming – albeit unsuccessfully. A jubilant Libyan crowd, some waving Scottish flags, greeted Megrahi at the airport…

“Tonight the shadow foreign secretary, William Hague, redoubled calls for the government to release official records of conversations about the release, as Gaddafi increased the embarrassment by publicly thanking ‘my friend Brown, his government, the Queen of Britain, Elizabeth, and Prince Andrew who all contributed to encouraging the Scottish government to take this historic and courageous decision’.

“The scale of fury in America was laid bare in a vitriolic letter from the director of the FBI, Robert Mueller – who as a justice department lawyer led the investigation into the bombing – describing the release in a scathing letter to [Scottish justice minister]MacAskill as a ‘mockery of the rule of law’ and of the victims’ grief.

“… public anger at scenes of the convicted bomber receiving a hero’s welcome has prompted demands from ordinary Americans for economic reprisals… Senior Scottish Labour figures say that MacAskill’s references in his original statement last week to the compassion of Scotland’s people had turned the entire country, which earns £260m a year through American tourists, into an economic target…”

Merkel World’s Most Powerful Woman

The Netzeitung reported on August 20:

“German Chancellor Angela Merkel was named the world’s most powerful woman for the fourth year running in a report released on Thursday by US business magazine Forbes… The ranking is based on influence and economic clout… As the head of Europe’s largest economy, Merkel excels in both of these areas.

“‘Merkel is the only woman at the head of a G8 economy, so she is a big power in Europe and has a big GDP at her disposal,’ commented Mary Ellen Egan, Executive Managing Editor… ‘She makes the top because she is the highest ranking woman according to office, and also because of the amount of money she controls. She is very well-regarded as a leader,’ added Egan… Merkel has been instrumental in cementing relations with Russia, and promoting the Nord Stream gas pipeline project to carry Russian gas to Europe under the Baltic Sea, the magazine said.

“There was no change in the top three this year, with Sheila Bair, US Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Chairman in second place again, followed by last year’s 3rd-placed woman, PepsiCo Chief Executive Indra Nooyi.”

Netanyahu in Germany

Deutsche Welle reported on August 27:

“The construction of Jewish settlements on Palestinian lands must be stopped, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a meeting in Berlin… while Merkel expressed a willingness to consider the sanctions [against Israel], she also reiterated calls from the Palestinians and US President Barack Obama to halt the construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem… But Netanyahu told reporters that ‘no decision has been made.'”

Islamist “Holy War” Against Germany?

The Netzeitung reported on August 21:

“With just over a month to go before Germany’s general election, daily newspaper Die Welt reported on Friday that an unprecedented number of Islamist videos encouraging holy war against the country have flooded the internet. Most recently, two Moroccan brothers from Bonn have appeared in terrorist propaganda videos online. The two men… are thought to be currently in hiding on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan…

“The latest wave of propaganda attacks began in January with videos published by another German of Moroccan origin… The newspaper reported that the 31-year-old… appears on a video announcing in German that he would ‘blow himself up for Allah.’ His appearance in an al-Qaida video… has reportedly caused concern for the German security services. In it he makes a specific reference to September’s election as the point when the German people will decide their own fate.

“‘Recently, more people have been travelling from Germany to “terror camps”,’ Deputy Interior Minister August Hanning told the newspaper. He said this trend poses a threat not only to the German armed forces stationed in Afghanistan ‘but also for us in Germany.'”

Ten African Leaders Meeting in Ethiopia Push Against West

Reuters wrote on August 24:

“African leaders will ask rich nations for $67 billion PER YEAR to mitigate the impact of global warming on the world’s poorest continent… Ten leaders are holding talks at AFRICAN UNION (AU) HEADQUARTERS IN THE ETHIOPIAN CAPITAL to try to agree a common stance…

“Earlier this year, Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi called on rich countries to compensate Africa for warming, arguing that pollution in the northern hemisphere may have caused his country’s ruinous famines in the 1980s…

“Africa is the region most at risk from warming and is home to 15 of the 20 most vulnerable countries [according to a report]… Developing nations accuse the rich of failing to take the lead in setting deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, and say they are trying to get the poor to shoulder more of the burden of emission curbs without providing aid and technology. A new climate treaty is due to be agreed” at a U.N. summit on climate change in Copenhagen in December.

… and Now — Practicing Homosexuals as Lutheran Ministers…

USA Today wrote on August 22:

“Leaders of the nation’s largest Lutheran church voted Friday to allow sexually active gays and lesbians in committed relationships to serve as clergy. Gays and lesbians are currently allowed to serve as ministers in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America only if they remain celibate. The proposal to change that passed with 68% approval…

“The final decision on whether to hire gay clergy in committed relationships will lie with individual congregations. Some critics of the proposal have predicted its passage could cause individual congregations to split off from the ELCA, as has been the case with other Christian denominations, including the Episcopal Church…

“Katrina Foster, a pastor in the Metropolitan New York Synod, pointed out that the church has ordained women and divorced people in violation of a literal interpretation of scripture.”

So, rather than correcting a wrong, the Lutherans felt it was more expedient to add insult to injury in allowing for additional wrongs.

Unprecedented Dangerous Expensive “Voluntary” Massive Swine Flu Vaccinations

The Washington Post wrote on August 23:

“Government health officials are mobilizing to launch a massive swine flu vaccination campaign this fall that is unprecedented in its scope — and in the POTENTIAL FOR COMPLICATIONS. The campaign aims to vaccinate at least half the country’s population within months. Although more people have been inoculated against diseases such as smallpox and polio over a period of years, the United States has never tried to immunize so many so quickly.

“But even as scientists rush to test the vaccine to ensure it is safe and effective, the campaign is lagging. Officials say only about a third as much vaccine as they had been expecting by mid-October is likely to arrive by then, when a new wave of infections could be peaking. Among the unknowns: how many shots people will need, what the correct dosage should be, and how to avoid confusing the public with an overlapping effort to combat the regular seasonal flu…

“‘This is potentially the largest mass-vaccination program in human history,’ said Howard Markel, a professor of medical history at the University of Michigan…

“The vaccine effort carries political risks for the Obama administration… The campaign is haunted by memories of the government’s ill-fated 1976 effort to vaccinate against swine flu. The epidemic fizzled, but the vaccine was given to 40 million people and blamed for causing a rare paralyzing disorder known as Guillain-Barré Syndrome…

“‘This is an overreaction,’ said Barbara Loe Fisher of the National Vaccine Information Center, which OPPOSES MANY VACCINE POLICIES. ‘There is no national security threat here. Why are we operating like this? This is not polio. This is not smallpox’…

“Authorities are adamant that vaccination will be VOLUNTARY… To address concerns of pregnant women and parents with young children, some vaccine is being produced without a MERCURY ADDITIVE… Schools considering giving shots to children are making plans to get PERMISSION FROM PARENTS…

“The federal government has spent close to $2 billion to buy up to 195 million doses of vaccine AND ADJUVANT, including the standard shots and the newer FluMist nasal spray vaccine… The government is prepared to buy enough to vaccinate EVERY PERSON — 600 million doses all together — if the pandemic or demand warrants it. That could increase the cost to $5 BILLION FOR THE VACCINE alone. It would cost at least $9 BILLION to ADMINISTER the vaccine to the ENTIRE POPULATION…

“Experts also worry the swine flu will divert attention from the seasonal flu, which can cause serious illness. Officials will launch the seasonal flu vaccine campaign Sept. 10 — about a month early in the hopes of vaccinating as many people as possible before the swine flu campaign. The more people who get both vaccines, the less likely the swine flu virus will mingle with one of the others to produce a more dangerous mutant…”

Backwards Approach on Circumcision

The New York Times wrote on August 24:

“Public health officials are considering promoting routine circumcision for all baby boys born in the United States to reduce the spread of H.I.V., the virus that causes AIDS… Experts are also considering whether the surgery should be offered to adult heterosexual men whose sexual practices put them at high risk of infection. But they acknowledge that a circumcision drive in the United States would be unlikely to have a drastic impact: the procedure does not seem to protect those at greatest risk here, men who have sex with men.

“Recently, studies showed that in African countries hit hard by AIDS, men who were circumcised reduced their infection risk by half. But the clinical trials in Africa focused on heterosexual men who are at risk of getting H.I.V. from infected female partners… There is little to no evidence that circumcision protects men who have sex with men from infection.

“Observational studies have found that uncircumcised men have higher rates of other sexually transmitted diseases like herpes and syphilis, and a recent study in Baltimore found that heterosexual men were less likely to have become infected with H.I.V. from infected partners if they were circumcised.”

Rather than not engaging in illicit sex, public health officials recommend circumcision instead, so people can continue engaging in illicit sex. We need to understand that circumcision was never a health law–otherwise it would still be in effect today and God would have enforced it for Gentiles, which He did not. The New Testament makes it very clear that Christians are no longer required to be circumcised or to circumcise their children–even though they ARE required to abide by real health laws, such as refraining from eating pork, fat or blood. 

How Evolutionists Justify Their Ignorance

The Times wrote on August 22:

“While most non-fundamentalist Christian traditions have largely accepted evolution, Islam was still much more hostile, [Professor Richard Dawkins] said [who is a strong believer in and supporter of the evolution hypothesis]. ‘It’s the fact that Islam teaches the Koran is the literal word of God, unlike most Christian sects, which say the Bible is LARGELY SYMBOLIC. That could well be the cause’…

“Professor Dawkins’ new book, The Greatest Show on Earth, brings together the scientific evidence that shows the theory of evolution to be true. He hopes to convince those who espouse creationism because they are IGNORANT OF SCIENCE…”

The West–A Culture of Death

The following article was written from a Greek/Russian Orthodox Church perspective. Even though clearly subjective and biased, it includes interesting facts and thoughts worthy of consideration.

The Pravda wrote on August 20:

“From the early 1800s, the West, in an affront to God, has moved ever more rapidly into a culture of death and destruction, away from the teachings of Christ… The foundation of this was laid by the Augustinian theories of Just War. This created an atmosphere that condoned murder, even if under strict circumstances.

“… the wars that the Orthodox peoples [following the teachings of the Greek/Orthodox Church] have fought have always been viewed AS A SIN, as the shedding of human blood is a grave sin… To that end, an Orthodox soldier who has shed blood is UNCLEAN and thus must cleanse himself through prayer and fasting, seeking the FORGIVENESS OF GOD for what was done…

“The range of who should die was widened. Starting in the 1800s and reaching full strength in the first half of the 1900s was the eugenics movements, out to breed the perfect human being…  Abortion… the murder of God’s most precious gift, became a standard…

“Homosexuality, too, was brought in as an affront to God, destroying the traditional family, mutating the moral standings of children and breeding a hedonistic, self destructive life style…

“Suicide is self murder… In Russian, our word for suicide is… quite literally: self-murder. We do not have the right to terminate the gift of life that God gave us. Just because we live in pain does not mean that we do not live to fulfill some aspect of God’s plan. The pain is a test of our faith in God, something to work through and to continue to seek to serve God. As such, suicide, self-murder, is an escape of our responsibilities before God…

“Many of these concepts are alien to our cultures, many others were imported with the Marxist revolution and we are still suffering their ill effects. On abortion, Russia, which still allows it, has curtailed it to the first 12 weeks and there is much pressure to end this murder fully. Euthanasia is illegal in Russia. Eugenics is also something that never took root…”

France’s Plague of Bee-Eating Hornets

The Telegraph wrote on August 19:

“The bee-eating hornets, instantly recognisable by their yellow feet, are rapidly spreading round France and entomologists fear that they will eventually cross the Channel and arrive in Britain. Hundreds of the insects attacked a mother on a stroll with her five-month-old baby in… southwestern France… They then pursued two passers by and two Dutch tourists on bikes. The victims were treated in hospital for multiple stings, which are said to be as painful as a hot nail piercing the skin…

“The Vespa velutina, which grow up to an inch in length, is thought to have arrived in France from the Far East in a consignment of Chinese pottery in late 2004… Denis Thiery, an Asian hornet specialist at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research, said there was nothing to halt their spread. ‘From one nest discovered in 2004, there were 2,000 in the Bordeaux area in 2007. Today there are probably several thousand in surrounding departments,’ he said. ‘According to our studies, they are able to settle in 50 per cent of the country. The European hornet is no match for them, with only a few hundred individuals per nest compared to several thousand for the yellow-footed hornets…’

“Besides the risk to humans, the hornets have decimated France’s already dwindling bee population. Squadrons of the insects hover over hives and pick off hapless honeybees in mid-air. A handful can destroy a nest of 30,000 bees in just a couple of hours… Beekeepers suspect that the creatures are also massacring other indigenous insect species….”

The US Economy

More US Banks Fail… Shrinking the FDIC’s Fund Even More…

The Associated Press reported on August 22:

“Guaranty Bank became the second-largest U.S. bank to fail this year after the Texas lender was shut down by regulators and most of its operations sold at a loss of billions of dollars for the U.S. government to a major Spanish bank. The transaction approved by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. marked the first time a foreign bank has bought a failed U.S. bank. The bank failure, the 10th largest in U.S. history, is expected to cost the deposit insurance fund an estimated $3 billion…

“The FDIC also announced Friday the closures of Internet-based ebank, located in Atlanta… First Coweta, based in Newnan, Ga… and CapitalSouth Bank, based in Birmingham, Ala… Those failures are expected to cost the insurance fund an estimated $63 million for ebank, $48 million for First Coweta and $151 million for CapitalSouth Bank.”

Another sign of the times–foreign banks take over US banks, and in light of the figures in the article above, the FDIC’s insurance fund would only be at a level of about $3.4 billion.

Raising Taxes…

Reuters reported on August 21:

“The Obama administration will raise its 10-year budget deficit projection to approximately $9 trillion from $7.108 trillion… The White House budget office will also lower its deficit forecast for this fiscal year, which ends September 30, to $1.58 trillion from $1.84 trillion next week AFTER REMOVING $250 BILLION SET ASIDE FOR BANK BAILOUTS…

“Politically, the deficit has been an albatross for Obama… who is pushing forward with plans to overhaul the U.S. healthcare industry — an initiative that could cost up to $1 trillion over 10 years… Many economists think it is unlikely the government can curtail spending, which means TAXES WOULD HAVE TO GO UP to cover the rising costs of providing retirement and healthcare benefits to aging Americans… Obama has promised not to raise taxes on Americans making less than $250,000 a year.”

… Or Cutting Entitlements

The Financial Times wrote on August 21:

“The US government… must finance spending this year that will be almost double tax receipts, while reassuring buyers of Treasuries that PRINTING DOLLARS is only a temporary measure… retaining the confidence of debt buyers worried about unsustainable borrowing will require CUTTING ENTITLEMENTS to Social Security and healthcare for America’s ageing population…”

On August 23, The Associated Press confirmed fears that the government will cut, somehow, social security benefits:

“Millions of older people face shrinking Social Security checks next year, the first time in a generation that payments would not rise. The trustees who oversee Social Security are projecting there won’t be a cost of living adjustment (COLA) for the next two years. That hasn’t happened since automatic increases were adopted in 1975.

“By law, Social Security benefits cannot go down. Nevertheless, monthly payments would drop for millions of people in the Medicare prescription drug program because the premiums, which often are deducted from Social Security payments, are scheduled to go up slightly.”

More Bad Economic News–“Deeper” Recession Ahead

Bloomberg wrote on August 25:

“U.S. unemployment will surge to 10 percent this year and the budget deficit will widen to $1.5 trillion next year, reflecting a ‘deeper recession’ than previously expected, White House budget chief Peter Orszag said. The Office of Management and Budget also forecasts that the U.S. economy will shrink 2.8 percent this year…

The Financial Times added on August 25:

“Tuesday’s sharply upgraded forecasts for growth in US national debt over the [next] decade could hardly have come at a worse time for Barack Obama… fears of the Great Depression have receded only to be replaced by mounting concern over the country’s long-term creditworthiness… In particular, prospects for enacting Mr Obama’s proposed $1,000bn (€700bn, £610bn) 10-year expansion in healthcare coverage this autumn are beginning to look dicey given the projected rise in the national debt of more than $9,000bn in the next decade…

“David Walker, head of the Peterson Foundation and former head of the General Accountability Office…  is among a growing body of observers who believe America’s deteriorating debt position could have consequences for the country’s national security – even compromising its superpower status…”

The Uncertain Future of the US Dollar

The Wall Street Journal wrote on August 26:

“On Tuesday, the Obama administration added fuel to concerns about the dollar, saying the U.S. will run a cumulative budget deficit of $9 trillion over the next 10 years, $2 trillion more than it had previously projected.

“‘That’s going to be negative for the dollar,’ says Adam Boyton, a currency analyst at Deutsche Bank AG in New York. President Barack Obama also reappointed Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, whose efforts to rescue the economy have… entailed pumping large amounts of freshly created dollars into the financial system…”

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In John 2:13-16 Jesus drove the money changers out of the Temple. Isn’t this an example when violent civil disobedience is acceptable?

First of all, let us read these verses in the book of John:

“Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, ‘Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!’”

Christ spoke with authority! It is obvious from other passages that Jesus, who was recognized as a Rabbi, had authority. In John 3:1-2 we read: “There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, ‘Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.'” Here Nicodemus addressed Jesus as Rabbi which is translated “Teacher” (compare Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible) or “Master” (which is an official title of honor – compare Strong’s Hebrew & Greek Dictionaries).

Therefore, even within the Jewish establishment, Jesus was not just some ordinary Jew of that time, taking things into His own hands, but someone who had the right to exercise authority in the Temple which was their place of worship. We note in Luke 4:16-19 that Jesus “went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day and stood up to read” which shows that He did have authority to take such action.

When Jesus drove out the money changers, He was driving out all of the commercialism and business that had permeated a place of worship – and He had the authority to take such action. Not only human authority, of course–as the Son of God He represented God the Father who was the Owner of the Temple.

Did the authorities try and put a stop to this action that Jesus took? The Jewish authorities were afraid to stop Jesus because they knew that He had this authority and they knew that the law of God was on His side.

The New Bible Commentary observes that “He (Jesus) visits the Temple and finds that within the sacred enclosure in the court of the Gentiles a market has been established for the sale of animals required for the sacrifices. The money changers sit there changing Roman currency into Jewish. Jesus is stirred in His soul and is moved with flaming indignation at such profanation of the temple of God. The wrath of the Lamb is a reality.”

We read the following in the KJV Commentary: “Christ found in the court of the Gentiles a terrible scene. The Sanhedrin was permitting the selling of sacrificial animals at exorbitant prices and permitting the changing of foreign currency into Jewish money, which was required for the temple tax. Christ makes a whip and drives out both the animals and the wicked merchants. [We might want to interject here that Christ only beats the animals, not the people.] He overturns the tables and scatters the coins across the floor. He commands the dove owners, Take these things hence. Christ then justifies this striking action, make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise (Malachi 3:1–3). Again, the failure of Judaism is emphasized. The disciples recall that this is the fulfillment of prophecy (Psalm 69:9). In verse 18, the Jews, who have been shocked by the action of Christ, demand a sign to substantiate His authority and conduct. However, this was a ridiculous request since the cleansing in itself was a sign (Malachi 3:1–3).”

Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible has this to say about Christ’s actions: “… he did it without the resistance of any of his enemies, either the market-people themselves, or the chief priests that gave them their licences, and had the posse templi—temple force, at their command. But the corruption was too plain to be justified; sinners’ own consciences are reformers’ best friends; yet that was not all, there was a divine power put forth herein, a power over the spirits of men; and in this non-resistance of theirs that scripture was fulfilled (Mal. 3:2, 3)…”

And so we can see that Christ had the authority for His actions and He spoke with authority. But what about us – does that give us the right to fight against the authorities today if we consider it necessary and feel that such action is justified?

In Romans 13, we see that we are to be subject to the powers that be, to man’s laws which is our commitment to an orderly society, so long as there is no conflict with the law of God. Verses 1 and 2 state that “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.”

As Jesus Himself taught, we are to render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s (compare Matthew 22:15-22; Mark 12:13-17; Luke 20:20-26), thus showing that He was subject to man’s law so long as there was no conflict with God’s law. And that applies to us today.

In Titus 3:1 Titus is instructed by Paul to “Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work.”

In 1 Peter 2:13-17, the same principle is repeated: “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men – as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.”

In Acts 4:18, Peter and John were “commanded… not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.” But in verses 19-21 we read: “But Peter and John answered and said to them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.’ So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done.”

In this instance, they defied the secular authorities so that they could do the Will of God and no punishment was forthcoming. Shortly thereafter, in order to follow God’s command which had been communicated to them by an angel, they again had to disobey the secular authorities and were severely punished as a consequence (Acts 5:17-32, 40). But in spite of their punishment and the ongoing threats of the government, the apostles defied the order of the civil counsel, “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name” (verse 41). And they continued to disobey the orders of the government while obeying God’s explicit instructions (verse 42).

In short, our submission to governing authorities does not mean uncritical obedience, as our highest authority is God. Laws that are contrary to the law of God must not be obeyed, but in such situations we must be willing to accept the consequences of our actions and submit to the penalties inflicted upon us, without resorting to violent civil disobedience.

Lead Writer: Brian Gale

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

A new StandingWatch program was posted on StandingWatch and YouTube. It is titled, “FDIC’s Fund Almost Empty.” Norbert Link discusses the fact that more and more banks are failing, but the worst is far from over. 74 federally insured banks have failed so far in 2009, but the number of additional banks on the FDIC’s list of problem institutions leaped to 305. At the same time, the FDIC’s insurance fund is running out of money. It stands at its lowest level since 1993. What will depositors do when their banks fail and the government is unable to help them out?

Norbert Link’s new video-recorded sermon, “To the Galatians, Part 2,” has been posted on the Web.

Norbert Link’s new German sermon, titled, “Liegt Alles Nur an Zeit und Glück?” (“Is It Just a Matter of Time and Chance?”) was posted on the Web.

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Raising the Bar

by Cali Harris

A “baseline” is defined as a base for measurements, or a point of reference. The word is a common term, used in sports, marketing, real estate, law, design, and medicine.

I see baselines at work in most parts of my life: in work requirements and performance, earning grades at school, progressing to more advanced levels of dance, and even in expectations of friendships. There is a starting point or basis for measurement in nearly everything I do, and these baselines affect my thoughts, words and actions.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the baselines that exist in my spiritual life. As I consider the Bible to be my fundamental point of reference, my knowledge can expand based on my spiritual growth. Whenever I’m blessed with increased understanding, I have a “new” baseline; my point of reference gets bumped up to a higher level.

I recently typed in “decision” to the church website to search for sermons that dealt with decision-making, because I have been faced with making important choices about school and work. I listened to several sermons, and was reminded that I should place my hard decisions in God’s hands, while using the opportunity to grow… and increase my baseline.

I’ve thought about my spiritual baseline in regard to the responsibility to help others—as a light in this world today and in an eternal role in the future. I am excited that every bit of growth makes me a better example; it raises the bar. I’m trying to regularly ask myself, “What is my baseline today?” The point of reference to measure myself—my baseline—should grow continuously.

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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:

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