|Live Services||"The Christian Soldier," and "Longsuffering"|
|Editorial||When Bitter Is Sweet…|
|Current Events||This Week in the News|
|Q&A||Would you please explain Revelation 5:8-10?|
|The Work||Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock|
"The Christian Soldier," and "Longsuffering"
On December 19, 2009, Kalon Mitchell and Michael Link will give split sermons, titled, respectively, “The Christian Soldier,” and “Longsuffering.”
When Bitter Is Sweet…
by Kalon Mitchell
In Proverbs 27: 7, King Solomon stated: “A satisfied soul loathes the honeycomb, But to a hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.”
This ancient proverb is very relevant today, even though its meaning may not be all that clear at first sight. The New Ungers Bible Dictionary explains that the word “honey” is used in the Bible to “denote sweet discourse,” and that the “Word of God is compared to honey and described as spiritually delectable.” Psalms 119:103-104 confirms this, saying, “How sweet are Your words to my taste, Sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way.”
But why would–and how could–a satisfied soul “loathe” honey? And more to the point, could we in the Church of God adopt an attitude of “loathing” the “Word of God”? The answer is simply “yes”–and this is so because of our “human nature.” God was aware of our tendency to forget Him and “loathe” His Word. He inspired Moses to write a warning for ancient Israel, which also applies today to the modern descendants of Israel and to spiritual Israel–the Church of God.
In Deuteronomy 8:11, He says through Moses: “Beware that you DO NOT FORGET the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today…” He continues in verses 14-19: “… when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God… who fed you in the wilderness… [and] you say in your heart, ‘MY power and the might of MY hand have gained me this wealth,’ [then] you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth… Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the LORD your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall perish.”
It is within human nature to forget God and His Word–to “loathe” His Way of life–and to return to sin. Solomon is warning us that it is possible to become so satisfied with our own accomplishments that we can become self-sufficient, instead of relying on God. In the end time, this tendency will be predominant in the church of the Laodiceans. In Revelation 3:16, Christ says that He will vomit luke-warm Church members out of His mouth. Continuing in verse 17, Christ describes the true nature and condition of the “satisfied” and “self-sufficient” soul which “loathes” the Word of God–without even realizing it: “Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’–and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked…” (Compare James 1:22-24).
But Solomon is not only warning those who “loathe” God and His Word, he is also giving encouragement and praise to those who do not fall into this trap. He continues to say in Proverbs 27:7: “…But to a hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.” When we are hungry for God and His Way of Life, we will consider even “bitter” experiences as “sweet” and necessary; realizing that they are happening to us to help us to become more and more perfect.
Notice how Christ continues with His strong reproof to the Laodiceans, in Revelation 3:18-19: “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. AS MANY AS I LOVE, I REBUKE AND CHASTEN. Therefore be zealous and repent.”
Job was self-righteous and thought that he could do no wrong. Without realizing it, he “loathed” and rejected God’s chastening. But after God allowed him to be “put in his place,” he came to comprehend how wrong he was. He had to go through severe tests. He had to reach the point where his soul was hungry for God’s chastisement in his life, understanding that it was necessary for his perfection.
We need to be careful not to exclude God from our lives. Christ is not “in the lives” of the Laodiceans; rather, He is standing outside–at the door; knocking; wanting to be let in (Revelation 3:20). We must never forget that “every good gift” –including tests and trials–comes from above. We need to keep in mind that the bitterness of God’s tests and trials is shaping our character and helping us to grow and to overcome. Revelation 3:21 contains this promise: “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”
Our future is right in front of us. Let us never think that we have no need for growth and spiritual perfection. Let us never “loathe” God’s Way and HIS Will for us, and let us embrace the “bitterness” of God’s trials, considering them as “sweet” and counting them as “joy” (James 1:2).
We begin with a few articles covering President Obama’s acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize. The Financial Times utters the opinion that the Nobel committee made fundamental misjudgments; the left-liberal Huffington Post chides the President for confusing war with peace in his acceptance speech; and the Israeli paper, Haaretz, strongly condemns the award and feels that the world needs a leader–but that it isn’t President Obama. (When one may think the decision regarding the Peace Nobel Prize was controversial enough, Time magazine just announced that they chose Mr. Bernanke as the “person of the year.” While Mr. Bernanke denied for over a year that we were in a recession, the editors of “Time” congratulate him for having averted a depression.)
The health-care debacle continues, with political maneuverings, changed positions and disappointed players. The Wall Street Journal wonders about the reasons for the Obama Administration’s disdain for Britain, while Britain angers Israel due to breached promises to repudiate an antiquated law. It also appears that the EU wants to accept a plan to establish East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state.
While Iran accelerates the production of powerful weapons and while the debate of the spread of Islam in Europe continues, the German paper, Die Tageszeitung, rejects the decision of Germany’s constitutional court to generally ban shopping on Sundays, and asks this pointed question: “How is it that Switzerland’s recent prohibition on minarets can be seen as an affront to religious freedom, but in Germany we allow churches rather than a democratically elected government [to] tell us what to do with our Sundays?” (We have posted a German StandingWatch program on the Web, Sonntagsverkauf unchristlich? discussing this decision and its ramifications; as well as the fact that Sunday is NOT the Biblically-commanded seventh day of rest, but an “invention” of the Roman Catholic Church, adopted from worship of pagan sungods.)
The Catholic Church is beginning to lay down the ground rules for non-Catholic priests [such as members of the Anglican clergy] to join the Church of Rome as priests, and the requirements are not as “liberal” as some might have thought. We also report on Germany’s tradition to celebrate “Nikolaus’ day” on December 6, and conclude with an article in the Daily Mail that Prince William–and not Prince Charles–could be the next King of England.
This Week in the News
The 2009 Nobel Peace Prize–“Fundamental Misjudgments”
The Financial Times wrote on December 10:
“When the Nobel committee awarded Barack Obama the annual Peace Prize a few months back, it made two fundamental misjudgments. First, it failed to recognise that there would be widespread dismay that the prize was being awarded to someone at the outset of his public journey, with little to show in terms of solid international achievement. Secondly, it failed to predict that Mr Obama would end up making his acceptance speech little more than [a] week after ordering a massive US troop uplift in the war in Afghanistan.
“To be fair to Mr Obama, his acceptance speech in Oslo recognises these points head on… while he may be winding down the war in Iraq, the conflict in Afghanistan is accelerating: ‘We are at war, and I am responsible for the deployment of thousands of young Americans to battle in a distant land. Some will kill. Some will be killed.’ As statements on war go, world leaders rarely get this blunt.
“Mr Obama’s frankness does not stop there, however. He keeps up this blunt approach before a Norwegian audience which, I suspect, must have wondered at times whether they’d chosen the right guy for the peace prize. For the major theme of Obama’s speech is his defence of the ‘just war,’ of the argument that nations are right at times to take military action…
“As ever with Obama, it all adds up to a finely crafted carefully balanced speech. Yet what stands out, when considering the audience before which he stands, is his justification of military action when necessary. Barack Obama must surely be the first Nobel peace laureate ever to turn up at the prize ceremony and confront a notably pacifist audience with such belligerence.”
“Mr. President, War Is Not Peace!”
The Huffington Post wrote on December 12:
“Eloquence in Oslo cannot change the realities of war… From President Obama, we hear that peace is the ultimate goal. But ‘peace’ is a fixture on a strategic horizon that keeps moving as the military keeps marching… War is not peace. It never has been. It never will be…
“In the name of pragmatism, Obama spoke of ‘the world as it is’ and threw a cloak of justification over the grisly escalation in Afghanistan by insisting that ‘war is sometimes necessary’ — but generalities do nothing to mitigate the horrors of war being endured by others. President Obama accepted the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize while delivering — to the world as it is — a pro-war speech. The context instantly turned the speech’s insights into flackery for more war.”
As Christians, we are not to participate in any war fought by humans. The Bible clearly prohibits this. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Should You Fight in War?” Also, please watch our most recent StandingWatch programs on the subject, “Lessons from the Afghan War,” and “Coming–Worldwide Nuclear War.”
“Obama Does Not Deserve the Peace Prize”
The Israeli paper, Haaretz, wrote on December 10:
“An American president who has not yet managed to make peace anywhere in the world will be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He will be awarded the prize even though he is personally responsible for scores of targeted killings and much slaughter of civilians in aerial bombardments. He will be awarded the prize even though he has just decided to escalate one of the two ineffectual wars he is conducting. He will be awarded the prize only because he is a Democrat, a liberal and a black man who defeated the Republicans and cast George W. Bush out of the White House.
“Oslo has provided us with many amusing jokes in recent decades. However, the joke of Obama as peace prize laureate is the funniest of all. It proves the absurdity of the lengths to which the self-righteous European culture of political correctness can go. Obama is not to blame for the Norwegians having decided to act foolishly. However, if he had any courage he would have refused to accept a Nobel [Peace Prize] prematurely. He would have asked the prize committee to judge him at the end of his term in office and not at its start.
“Obama hasn’t done so, and this isn’t surprising. Thus far the glamorous president has not shown courage on any issue or in any area. True, Obama is intelligent, articulate and charismatic. However, he hasn’t really done anything yet in the international arena. He has orchestrated neither confrontations nor reconciliations. He has neither won a victory nor made peace. He has not evinced willingness to pay any sort of price for any sort of achievement. In his first year as president of the world, Obama has not proved he has a backbone. He has not yet manifested himself as a leader.
“In 2010 the world will need a leader. From day to day, Iran is increasingly becoming a nuclear nightmare; Pakistan is a barrel of nuclear explosives and North Korea is a nuclear rogue. The Iranian-Pakistani-North Korean triangle makes clear what the challenge of the 21st century is: how to prevent turning the world into a nuclear jungle. How to maintain nuclear order and prevent nuclear chaos. How to get through the next half-century without a Hiroshima or Nagasaki.
“Obama’s Washington understands the challenge very well. So do Nicolas Sarkozy’s Paris, Angela Merkel’s Berlin and Gordon Brown’s London. Even Dmitry Medvedev’s Moscow is beginning to understand. But the general public in North America and Europe has not yet internalized what its leaders know. The media are indeed reporting on centrifuges, enrichment programs and warheads. Politicians and pundits are indeed paying lip service to the Iranian-Pakistani-North Korean nuclear triangle. But there is no fervor in the talk. There is no real sense of urgency. There is no committed discourse. International public opinion is still focused on global warming, not global nuclearization, as the most urgent issue on the agenda…”
The Bible clearly prophesies that in these end times, the world will be facing nuclear war–and that no human being would SURVIVE this terrible time soon to come, unless God was to intervene and cut those days short. For more information, please listen to our StandingWatch program, “Coming–Worldwide Nuclear War,” and read our free booklet, “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.”
The Ongoing Health-Care Debacle–Politics at its “Finest”…
ABC News reported on December 16:
“President Obama said he likes the Senate health care compromise and wants it passed by Christmas, but he faces a revolt from some liberals who say the health care bill has been gutted to appease insurance companies. ‘This is a bigger bailout for the insurance industry than AIG,’ former Democratic National Committee chairman and medical doctor Howard Dean [said]… ‘A very small number of people are going to get any insurance at all, until 2014, if the bill works… Dean sent shockwaves when he said Tuesday… that the removal of the Medicare buy-in means Democrats should just kill the health care bill and start over.”
ABC News added on December 16:
“[Joe] Lieberman has scrambled the politics of health care overhaul continually… His objections to including a public option were a main reason Democrats fashioned a compromise that would replace such a mechanism with a Medicare expansion, allowing people as young as 55 to buy into the system. Then, on Sunday, Lieberman seemed to reverse himself on that provision, notifying Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada that he couldn’t support the expansion in Medicare after all.
“That leaves Senate Democratic leaders, who can’t afford to lose a single vote on health care, poised to strip that out as well, with the White House’s acquiescence… Lieberman benefits from the simple fact that Democrats need him, even if many of them don’t like him. He might be among the few political figures who comes out of the grueling health care debate with a smile.”
The Associated Press reported on December 16:
“The Senate is in health care gridlock after a Republican senator forced the clerk to read aloud a 767-page amendment. GOP Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma had sought approval to require that any amendment considered by the Senate must be offered 72 hours in advance and with a full cost report. When he was rebuffed by Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, Coburn invoked his right to require that an amendment by another lawmaker be read aloud. That sent the Senate into limbo, since the amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, is 767 pages long.”
ABC News reported on December 16:
“President Obama told ABC News’ Charles Gibson in an interview that if Congress does not pass health care legislation that will bring down costs, the federal government ‘will go bankrupt.’”
At the same time, the Associated Press reported on December 16:
“President Barack Obama has signed into law a $1.1 trillion bill that increases the budgets in many areas of the government by about 10 percent, including health, law enforcement and veterans’ programs. Obama signed the bill privately at the White House on Wednesday after receiving the bill from Congress on Sunday… Most Republicans opposed the bill, citing runaway federal spending… Democrats said the spending would help the economy recover from the recession.”
Why the Disdain for Britain by Obama Administration?
The Wall Street Journal wrote on December 14:
“Britain is the only European country President Barack Obama can really count on to respond positively to his plea for NATO to provide extra forces for Afghanistan. So why is it, then, that the Obama administration can barely conceal its disdain for a nation that, by its deeds, time and again proves itself to be America’s staunchest and most reliable ally?…
“Before he became president it was said that Mr. Obama harbored a deep grudge against Britain for its colonialist past. It is alleged that his paternal grandfather, Hussein Onyango Obama, was tortured by the British during the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya in the 1950s, when it was controlled by Britain. In his autobiographical book “The Audacity of Hope,” Mr. Obama unflatteringly compares the British Empire to South Africa’s apartheid regime and the former Soviet Union.
“Soon after his inauguration, he sent back to the U.K. a bust of Sir Winston Churchill that had been loaned to President George W. Bush after the 9/11 attacks. The sculpture had enjoyed pride of place in the Oval Office.
“There is also an important ideological reason that Britain’s leading policy makers find themselves increasingly shunned by the U.S. Key foreign-policy advisers to Mr. Obama are keen advocates of a federal Europe, one in which the European Commission based in Brussels is the main center of power and influence, rather than the individual capitals, such as London, Paris and Berlin. In this context, Britain’s dogged attachment to a ‘special relationship’ with America is regarded as an embarrassing relic of a previous era.”
Britain Angers Israel
Deutsche Welle reported on December 14:
“Israel has slammed an arrest warrant issued by a British court against former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. The now opposition leader is under fire for her role in the offensive in the Gaza Strip one year ago… A statement released by the foreign ministry urged Britain to change the law to prevent such action from being taken in the future.
“The details of the warrant are currently unclear. British daily The Guardian reports that the warrant was issued on the weekend for Livni’s role in the war in the Gaza Strip almost a year ago. The warrant has now been withdrawn after it emerged that Livni had cancelled a planned visit to Britain…
“Several Israeli officials have previously called off trips to Britain as a result of efforts by Palestinians to prosecute Israelis in British courts. In September, pro-Palestinian activists tried to have Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak arrested for his role in the Gaza conflict but the attempt was rejected on the grounds of diplomatic immunity. Livni would not have enjoyed this immunity as she is no longer a government minister.”
The Jerusalem Post wrote on December 15:
“British Foreign Secretary David Miliband called Kadima head Tzipi Livni and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman Tuesday evening in an apparent effort to prevent the diplomatic crisis stemming from a British arrest warrant issued against Livni from spinning completely out of control. According to a statement put out by Livni’s office, Miliband expressed his ‘shock’ at the arrest warrant and promised to work immediately to ensure that a similar occurrence would not happen in the future against Livni or other Israeli leaders. Miliband told Lieberman that the warrant was ‘completely unacceptable.’
“While Israel has heard such promises numerous times over the last five years, there was a sense in Jerusalem Tuesday night that the wall-to-wall outrage in Israel that accompanied news of the warrant against Livni had registered in London. Britain’s outgoing ambassador Tom Phillips bore the brunt of Israeli anger over the matter, being summoned to the Foreign Ministry and having a conversation on the matter with National Security Council head Uzi Arad.
“Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office issued a statement saying he instructed Arad to deliver a ‘clear message’ to Phillips that Israel expected the British government to ‘act against this immoral phenomenon which is trying to impair Israel’s right to self-defense’…
“While in the past Israel did not press too hard on the issue, that policy seemed to change abruptly when the Foreign Ministry issuing a statement Tuesday morning, surprisingly harsh in the cautious world of diplomacy, saying that Israel rejected the ‘cynical’ move taken in the British courts at the behest of extremist elements in Britain and called on the British government ‘for once and for all’ to keep its promises and work to prevent the manipulation by anti-Israeli elements of the British legal system against Israel. ‘The lack of determined and immediate action to correct this distortion harms the relations between the two countries,’ the statement read. ‘If Israeli leaders cannot visit Britain in a dignified manner, it will naturally be a real obstacle to Britain’s desire to have an active role in the peace process in the Middle East’…
“The crisis comes at a time of already deteriorating relations between Israel and Britain, with Jerusalem frustrated at London for its abstention in the UN General Assembly on the Goldstone report, its support of the Swedish proposal that the EU recognize east Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state, and its guidelines to stores and retailers last week to label produce from the territories as either coming from Palestinians or the settlements.”
Britain’s conduct in this matter can only be described as outrageous, provocative, negligent, ignorant and stupid at the same time. As the Associated Press reported on December 16, “Livni’s office says the British premier phoned her Wednesday afternoon and said he intends to act to change a law that allows non-citizens to be brought before British courts.”
It added: “Britain is vowing to curtail a peculiar legal power that lets judges order the arrest of visiting politicians and generals — a threat currently focused on Israeli visitors that, one day, might be invoked against Barack Obama or Vladimir Putin. Lawyers working with Palestinian activists in recent years have sought the arrest of senior Israeli civilian and military figures under terms of ‘universal jurisdiction.’ This ill-defined legal concept empowers judges to issue arrest warrants for visiting officials accused of war crimes in a foreign conflict.”
The shameful truth is that the British government knew of this ridiculous law to empower political judges to issue offensive decisions, promised Israel to repeal this law, and did nothing to keep this promise. Britain must be careful that it does not find itself alienated from and abandoned by the rest of the world because of its own doing.
Is EU Backing East Jerusalem as Palestine Capital?
The EUobserver wrote on December 11:
“Palestine Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has said that the EU backs the establishment of East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state, fueling the dispute over a recent EU communique. Mr Fayyad on a visit to Brussels on Friday (11 December) said Tuesday’s EU statement on the Middle East makes a number of references to East Jerusalem that, ‘if added [together], in my reading, add up to nothing less than recognising East Jerusalem as the future capital of the state of Palestine’…
“Mr Fayyad’s remarks continue a dispute on what the EU really thinks about Palestine, which erupted two weeks ago when Israel first attacked a Swedish draft of the EU statement, which contained more explicit pro-Palestinian language. East Jerusalem – which is home to Muslims and Jewish settlers as well as some of the holiest sites in Islam and Judaism – lies at the heart of international efforts to bring peace to the region, with Israel claiming it as part of its own ‘indivisible’ capital…
“The [EU] commission is preparing to launch a new Action Plan for Palestinian relations that is to involve sending in more EU experts and ‘front-loading’ €158.5 million of aid in early 2010…”
The Bible states that Jerusalem will be “surrounded” by European armies [of the LAST resurrection of the ancient Roman Empire], and that it will become a stumbling block for ALL nations. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Europe in Prophecy.”
Iran’s Latest Advanced Missile
On December 16, the Associated Press reported the following:
“Iran on Wednesday test-fired an upgraded version of its most advanced missile, which is capable of hitting Israel and parts of Europe, in a new show of strength aimed at preventing any military strike against it amid the nuclear standoff with the West. The test stoked tensions between Iran and the West, which is pressing Tehran to rein in its nuclear program. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said it showed the need for tougher U.N. sanctions on Iran…
“Wednesday’s test was for the latest version of Iran’s longest-range missile, the Sajjil-2, with a range of about 1,200 miles (2,000 kilometers). That range places Israel, Iran’s sworn enemy, well within reach, as well as U.S. bases in the Gulf region and parts of southeastern Europe… Iran has repeatedly warned it will retaliate if Israel or the United States carries out military strikes against its nuclear facilities, at a time when the U.S. and its allies accuse Tehran of seeking to develop a nuclear weapon… Nuclear negotiations have been deadlocked for months…
“The name ‘Sajjil’ means ‘baked clay,’ a reference to a story in the Quran, Islam’s holy book, in which birds sent by God drive off an enemy army attacking the holy city of Mecca by pelting them with stones of baked clay… Solid-fuel missiles like the Sajjil-2 are more accurate than the liquid fuel missiles of similar range currently possessed by Iran. They are also a concern because they can be fueled in advance and moved or hidden in silos. Iran previously had a solid-fuel missile, the Fateh, with a far shorter range of 120 miles (200 kilometers).”
The Australian wrote on December 18:
“Israeli officials told Haaretz Mr Obama warned Chinese President Hu Jintao during the US President’s visit to Beijing a month ago as part of the US attempt to convince the Chinese to support strict sanctions on Tehran if it does not accept Western proposals for its nuclear program. The Israeli officials said the US had informed Israel about Mr Obama’s meetings in Beijing on Iran. They said Mr Obama made it clear to Mr Hu that at some point the US would no longer be able to prevent Israel from acting as it saw fit in response to the perceived Iranian threat, the report said.”
How Much Allah Can Europe Bear?
Der Spiegel Online wrote on December 11:
“The Swiss decision has shocked Europe and the world because its ramifications go far beyond the building of minarets — they also concern the identity of an entire continent. This was a referendum on Western society’s perception of Islam as a threat. The issue is generating intense debate: Just how much of Islam is predominantly Christian Europe prepared to accept? The decision by the otherwise so tolerant Alpine country reveals the deep-seated fear of an Islam that is becoming increasingly visible…
“Surveys last week revealed that 44 percent of Germans oppose the construction of minarets, followed by 41 percent of the French. Fifty-five percent of all Europeans see Islam as an intolerant religion. Does the Swiss vote reveal an attitude that a majority in Europe would also support if given the opportunity?…
“Can Europe still be Europe if, for instance, in 2050 most young people under the age of 15 in Austria are Muslims? And when Muhammad today is already the most common name for newborn boys in Brussels and Amsterdam, and the third most common in England?…
“Dealing with Islam is perhaps the greatest challenge facing Europe… sometimes fears are stronger than facts, and sometimes a ban on minarets has nothing to do with minarets…”
The Local reported on December 11:
“A poll… for [Germany’s] public broadcaster ARD showed a third of those asked expressed great concern that Islam was growing too quickly in Germany. Thirty-nine percent were… worried about Islam’s impact on society, but to a lesser degree. Only 22 percent said they had no problem with the religion.”
We will see more and more an increased influence of orthodox “Christianity” in Europe, which will ultimately not tolerate the existence of any non-“Christian” competitive religions or convictions.
“Thou Shalt Not Shop!”
Der Tagesspiegel wrote on December 3:
“It was just another Tuesday, but Germany’s Christian churches had a reason to let their bells toll this week. In the name of religious freedom, they won a major victory at the Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe against the heathen city of Berlin. It had to be Berlin – a godless place that has ditched compulsory religion classes for schoolchildren and would like to prohibit prayer in school buildings. But the churches now have it from the highest judicial authority in the country – Berlin’s secular push has gone too far. Advent Sundays in the run-up to Christmas are holy and shops must remain closed…
“How is it that Switzerland’s recent prohibition on minarets can be seen as an affront to religious freedom, but in Germany we allow churches rather than a democratically elected government tell us what to do with our Sundays? What happened to the religious freedom of those citizens who don’t believe in the Christian ideal of the Sabbath [the author means Sunday and wrongly identifies it with the Sabbath. The biblical Sabbath is not Sunday, but the time from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset] and would rather go to the shops than church?
“The place to go for answers from now on is Karlsruhe, home to the Constitutional Court. No-one should underestimate the legal gymnastics required to reach this decision. According to the constitution, Sunday is a day to rest and rejuvenate the soul. There’s not a single word about God or Christmas or even the birth of Jesus. And no wonder – Sunday was never holy to the German constitution, which is why no-one could claim it was in the name of religion.
“But that’s all changed now. The Constitutional Court’s decision refers directly to the Christian roots of resting on Sundays, constructing a legal precedent for the churches. If politicians from one of Germany’s 16 federal states want to re-think their retail shopping hours, it might now be a good idea to stop by the local bishop’s place to see if they have his blessing first. But how do you reconcile that with the right to a neutral, secular government? This is the real reason three Constitutional Court judges rejected the ruling. Had it been just one more, Berliners could have kept their Sunday shopping during Advent. The topic of store opening hours might be banal, but the court ruling fundamentally changes the state’s relationship between religion and law…”
The Roman Catholic Church will exert more and more power in Germany and continental Europe, to enforce Sunday worship on unsuspecting people. The Bible warns us of this. To learn more about the connection between Sunday worship and the “mark of the beast,” please read our free booklet, “Is That in The Bible?–The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation.”
“Joining Rome ‘Means Commitment'”
BBC News wrote on December 11:
“Discontented Anglicans who convert must not become a ‘sect’ within the Roman Catholic Church, a senior Catholic clergyman dealing with church unity has warned… Monsignor Andrew Faley, Assistant General Secretary of the English and Welsh Catholic bishops’ conference [said:]… ‘They become members of a Church which has the ministry of the successor of St Peter as its source of unity… unity for Catholics is central to their understanding of the Church’…
“A substantial number of married ex-Anglican priests are already Catholic priests, having crossed to Rome in the years following the ordination of women priests by the Church of England in the 1990s. But the overwhelming majority of Catholic priests in Britain are required to remain unmarried and celibate… But a man in the ordinariate who wishes to be considered as a priest ‘would be ordained as a celibate priest; he wouldn’t be allowed to marry.’ And a married man who has not been an Anglican priest, could he apply? ‘No,’ says Mgr Faley, ‘A married man within the Catholic tradition cannot be ordained; the norm is celibacy.'”
The Church of Rome will not just accept clergy from other churches, with different ideas, without insisting that these ideas will not be practiced, but abolished. It is the position of the Catholic Church that the pope speaks with godly authority and that he is Christ’s representative on earth. With this claim, it is obvious that those who want to become part of that church must submit in all points to that “authority.”
The Celebration of the German “Nikolaus”
The Local wrote on December 4:
“Each year on December 6, Germans remember the [mythological] death of Nicholas of Myra (now the Anatolia region of modern Turkey), who [supposedly] died on that day in 346. He was [allegedly] a Greek Christian bishop known for miracles and giving gifts secretly, and is now the patron saint of little children, sailors, merchants and students. Known as Nicholas the Wonderworker for his miracles, he is also identified with Santa Claus. Beliefs and traditions about Nikolaus were probably combined with German mythology, particularly regarding stories about the bearded pagan god Odin, who also had a beard and a bag to capture naughty children…
“According to the legend, Nikolaus comes in the middle of the night on a donkey or a horse and leaves little treats – like coins, chocolate, oranges and toys – for good children. What do naughty children get? This depends on different family traditions. Sometimes Nikolaus only leaves a switch in the boot, ostensibly for spankings, to show that the child doesn’t deserve a treat. In other families, a man disguised as St. Nicholas will visit the family or the child’s school alone or with his… sinister-looking alter ego Knecht Ruprecht [portrayed as a demon or the devil in many ancient pictures] to question the children about their behaviour.”
Nikolaus–or Santa Claus–and his alter-ego, the demonic “Knecht Ruprecht,” are clearly of pagan origin. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Don’t Keep Christmas.”
Who Will Be the Next King of England?
Mail On Line wrote on December 13:
“The Queen is to hand over a substantial part of her public duties to Prince William to help him prepare for the day when he becomes King, according to a confidential document obtained by The Mail on Sunday. Secret papers reveal that plans to ease the strain on the 83-year-old monarch and her 88-year-old husband, Prince Philip, are at an advanced stage. The disclosures come despite months of denials from the Palace that the Queen was planning to step back from her official work in favour of her 27-year-old grandson…
“The leak will add to speculation that the Queen believes William, rather than Charles, represents the best long-term interests of the monarchy… It is bound to lead to new speculation that when the Queen dies, the monarchy could skip a generation, with the Crown bypassing Charles and being handed straight to William, although Royal sources strongly discount this option… Significantly, William will undertake his first official overseas tour in January when he represents the Queen in New Zealand and Australia. He is also expected to attend the World Cup in South Africa.”
According to further press releases, Buckingham Palace denied as “a complete lie” the allegation that Prince Charles was intended to be circumvented by appointing Prince William as the next king.
The Bible shows that the end-time royal house of England will play a prophetic role in these last days. It is therefore interesting to see who will turn out to be the future king.
Would you please explain Revelation 5:8-10?
In the book of Revelation, John is transported “in the spirit” to God’s throne in heaven, from where he observes events which will take place shortly in heaven and on earth. The passage in Revelation 5:8-10 describes what John sees in heaven; it reads in the New King James Bible:
“(Verse 8) Now when He [the Lamb, Jesus Christ] had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. (Verse 9) And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For you were slain, And have redeemed us to God by your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, (Verse 10) And have made us kings and priests to our God, And we shall reign on the earth.'”
As we explain in our free booklets, “Angels, Demons and the Spirit World,” the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders are angelic beings in heaven:
“The Bible speaks about ‘four living creatures’ in the book of Revelation that appear before the throne of God. Although their description is, to an extent, similar to that of seraphim, there are nevertheless distinctions, implying that these angelic beings belong to a separate category or order. Revelation 4:6–9 explains that they have six wings, and that all of them look different. One looks like a lion, one looks like a calf, one looks like a flying eagle, and one has the face of a man. In addition, they have voices of thunder (Revelation 6:1) and they carry out God’s Will by directing other angels (compare Revelation 15:7)…
“The book of Revelation also speaks about twenty-four high-ranking spirit beings within the angelic realm, called the ‘twenty-four elders.’ They are in heaven, clothed in white robes, wearing crowns of gold on their heads and sitting on twenty-four thrones before the throne of God, whom they worship and serve (Revelation 4:4, 10–11). The high rank of the ‘four living creatures’ and the ‘twenty-four elders’ is expressed in Revelation 5:11: ‘Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne [of God and the Lamb, Jesus Christ], the living creatures, and the elders…’ (Compare, too, Revelation 7:11.).”
But are these angelic beings saying in Revelation 5:8-10 that Christ redeemed THEM by His blood, and that He made THEM kings and priests, and that THEY shall reign on earth?
If so, wouldn’t this statement contradict many other passages in the Bible? For instance, please note that God will not give the world tomorrow to angels, but to man. Hebrews 2:5-6 states: “For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. But one testified in a certain place, saying, ‘What is MAN that you are mindful of HIM…?'” In addition, we read that man will judge the world AND angels (1 Corinthians 6:2-3).
Finally, please remember that Christ did not die for angels, but for man, by becoming a human being (Hebrews 2:14-16). Since the penalty for man’s sins is death (Romans 6:23), Christ died for man and thereby paid the penalty of human sin. He became a man (John 1:14), to die for man’s sins, so that man could become members of the God Family (1 John 3:1-2; 1 Corinthians 15:49).
Angels are spirit beings who cannot die (Luke 20:35-36) –and since the penalty for the sin of rebellious angels (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6) is not eternal death, but first the “everlasting [Gehenna] fire” (compare Matthew 25:41; see also Revelation 20:10) and finally the “blackness of darkness forever” (Jude 13), Christ’s death as a man would not have paid for their sin, and His shed blood would not have redeemed them to God. In addition, there is no indication whatsoever that the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders had been SINNING angels and that they had to be REDEEMED by Christ–by His blood or otherwise.
There might be different explanations for the passage in Revelation 5:8-10. We must always recognize, to begin with, that the Bible does not contradict itself; so any apparent contradiction must be evaluated and understood in the light of the principle of harmonizing all Scriptures (John 10:35).
(1) The first possible explanation is that the passage in Revelation 5:8-10 was mistranslated.
Notice how the New International Version renders the passage, beginning with verse 9:
“(Verse 9) And they sang a new song: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased MEN for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. (Verse 10) You have made THEM to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and THEY will reign on the earth.'”
This translation is adopted by the overwhelming majority of renditions. Very similar are the renderings of the Revised Standard Version; the New Revised Standard Version; the Living Bible; the Revised English Bible; the New American Bible; the New Jerusalem Bible; the Amplified Bible; Phillips; the Moffatt Bible; and many German translations, including the German Elberfelder Bible; the German Neue Evangelische Uebertragung; the Zuercher Bible; the Menge Bible; the revised Luther Bible; and the German Schlachter Bible.
Following those translations, the answer to the potential conflict of Revelation 5:8-10 with other Scriptural passages would be obvious. There would not be any conflict at all. Rather, according to these renditions, the angelic beings sang a song to God, in which they reiterated the fact that Christ died for MAN to redeem THEM, and that redeemed and converted MEN made IMMORTAL–the “saints”–would rule on this earth as a kingdom of priests.
(2) Not everybody agrees with this alternate rendering.
(a) Some claim that even though in verse 10, the correct words are, “them” and “they,” rather than “us” and “we” (i.e., that Christ made THEM–MEN–kings and priests, and THEY shall reign on earth), they maintain that in verse 9, the correct translation is “us,” not “them” (stating that Christ redeemed “us”–ANGELS–to God, based on the understanding that the angels are singing the new song.) Translations which prefer these renderings are Lamsa; the Analytical Literal Translation; and the Margin of the New King James Bible.
However, several translations, including the annotation in the New Revised Standard Version; the Zuercher Bible; the Menge Bible and the Elberfelder Bible, maintain that the word “us” in verse 9 was supplied by the translator and is not found in the original; and that verses 9 and 10 should be rendered as follows (adopted from the New Revised Standard Version and its annotation):
“… by your blood you ransomed for God from every tribe and language and people and nation; you have made them to be a kingdom and priests serving our God, and they will reign on earth…”…” (Compare also Vincent’s Word Studies and the annotation by the Ryrie Study Bible).
(b) Other translations render the passage in Revelation 5:8-10 in the way, as quoted from the New King James Version at the beginning of this article; that is, that the message of the new song states in essence: “Christ has redeemed US with His blood, and WE will reign, as kings and priests, on the earth.” Additional translations which render the passage in such a way include the Authorized Version; the Englishman’s Greek New Testament, giving the Greek Text of Stephens 1550; and the old German Luther Bible.
(3) Although the overwhelming majority supports the view that the words should be rendered correctly in the “third,” and not in the “first” person, would the rendering in the first person, as used in the Authorized Version or the New King James Bible, among a few others, in fact contradict other Scriptural passages? There would be clearly a contradiction if (sinning) angels were saying of themselves that THEY were redeemed by the blood of Christ and that THEY would become kings and priests, ruling this earth; on the other hand, what if the rendering in the first person would be correct, but it would not be the angels that SING?
Notice carefully that Revelation 5:8 introduced the new song in the way that the angels (four living creatures and twenty-four elders) fell down before the Lamb, having a harp, and golden bowls of incense, “which are the prayers of the SAINTS.” Verse 9 continues: “And THEY sang a new song…” Grammatically and contextually (in the original Greek, there is no punctuation and segmentation into verses), the phrase, “They sang a new song,” at the beginning of verse 9, could refer to the end of verse 8; that is, to the “saints” in “… prayers of the saints.” Viewing it this way, it is the SAINTS–not the angels–who are singing this new song.
This understanding would also be in harmony with the fact that Revelation 14:1-5 speaks of 144,000 redeemed saints, who have harps and sing a new song. It says in Revelation 14:3 that these saints who were redeemed from among men (compare verse 4) are singing a new song before the four living creatures and the elders; in other words, before the same angelic beings that are mentioned in Revelation 5:8. We state the following about the 144,000 redeemed saints in chapter 17 of our booklet, “Is That in The Bible? The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation”:
“144,000 servants of God are mentioned in Revelation 14:1–5. They are depicted standing with Christ on Mount Zion, here on earth. The time setting is after Christ’s return. They sing a new song, a song that reaches God’s throne in heaven (verse 3), as do our prayers today (compare Revelation 5:8; 8:2–5). God has found no fault in them (Revelation 14:5). This description reminds us of Christ’s message to the angel of Philadelphia (compare Revelation 3:7–12).”
In conclusion, the Bible does not contradict itself. The teaching of the Holy Scriptures is clear: Christ died for man; it is men–not angels–who will inherit the kingdom of God; and men made immortal will rule on this earth as kings and priests.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
A new StandingWatch program was posted on StandingWatch and YouTube. It is titled, “Coming–Worldwide Nuclear War?” The following is discussed: The Pravda proposes that Europe must “get rid of America’s influence”; that the EU needs a powerful army; and that it should “join forces with Russia.” Time magazine claims that more than 200 thermonuclear bombs are stored in several European countries, and that “Dutch, Belgian, Italian and German pilots remain ready to engage in nuclear war.” Will those and other nuclear weapons be used soon?
Norbert Link’s new video-recorded sermon, “Answered Prayers,” has been posted on the Web.
A new German sermon, titled, “Du Sollst Nicht Luegen, Teil 1” (“You Shall Not Lie, Part 1”) was posted on the Web.
How This Work is Financed
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