Update 435


What Does This Feast Day Reveal? … As the Sin of Witchcraft


On Sunday evening, after sunset, March 28, 2010, is Passover, followed by the Night to Be Much Observed on Monday evening, March 29, after sunset.

For those of our scattered baptized brethren who need to partake of the Passover at home, we refer to pertinent information, which was published in Update #387 (dated March 26, 2009), under Feasts, and Update #238 for the week ending April 7, 2006.

On Tuesday, March 30, 2010, is the First Day of Unleavened Bread. Dave Harris will be giving the sermon in the morning from Oregon, titled, “What Does This Feast Day Reveal?,” and Norbert Link will give the sermon in the afternoon from California, titled, “… As the Sin of Witchcraft.”

The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at 10:00 am and 2:00 pm Pacific Time, respectively (which is 11:00 am Mountain Time; 12:00 pm Central Time; 1:00 pm Eastern Time for the morning service; and 3:00 pm Mountain Time; 4:00 pm Central Time; 5:00 pm Eastern Time for the afternoon service). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

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An Active Passover?

by Robb Harris

During this Passover season we are extolled to go to our brothers and sisters and be reconciled—addressing sins and grievances with one another (Matthew 5:24). The underlying concept in this passage—along with much of the Bible—is to take an active stance in addressing these concerns.  We are to take the attitude, “whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them” (Matthew 7:12). We cannot expect to glorify God if we refuse to actively pursue that goal. Simply existing with the knowledge of God—never putting it into practice—rewards us just as the servant who buried his talent.

Paul addressed this concept of active Christianity even deeper when he made the statement, “Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble” (1 Corinthians 8:13). He chose to act for, not simply exist with his Christian brethren. Paul was willing to change his life—drastically—so that a weaker brother would not perish. Paul didn’t let his liberty “become a stumbling block to those who are weak” (1 Corinthians 8:9). Instead, he was willing to actively change his life for the benefit of others.

Next week we will be removing leavening from our homes and lives. The simple identification of leavened products in our households does little to remove them from our property. Likewise, if we spend a week merely identifying our spiritual leavening, we have only taken the first step in spiritual change. We must remove what we find and be willing (even to the extent of a lifestyle change like Paul) to alter our way of life. In doing so, we turn the knowledge of God into the glorification of God—which is a Christian requirement. And lest we forget who we really are, Paul succinctly stated, “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:20).

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The U.S. House passage of sweeping health care legislation has by no means ended the political battle. Apart from the fact that some of the more critical changes won’t become effective for at least four or more years, Republicans have already announced that they will try to get the entire legislation repealed and that they are challenging major provisions in court. Der Spiegel argues that the continuing US health care debate may not be that positive for President Obama himself, and it may be very bad for the rest of the world. 

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a strong warning to Israel, while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ruled out halting settlement construction in the city of Jerusalem. Israel is facing total isolation. French President Sarkozy suffered a bruising defeat in regional elections, and the political upheaval surrounding German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg continued.

Finally, the pope’s letter of apology, strictly directed to the Irish church, was deeply disappointing–and no confidence was restored in the Vatican’s willingness to really deal with the mounting problems regarding their pedophile priests. Especially in Germany and Austria, the pope’s silence on the WORLDWIDE sex scandal was highly condemned. But even the reputation of the very person of the pope is at stake. As Die Tageszeitung wrote: “…the pope shies away from any debate about sexual morality in the church. And one can only hope that his public silence about the abuse cases in Germany, is not because the pope himself was unhappily involved in such a case when he was the archbishop of Munich…”

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Health Care–The Fight Is Just Beginning…

The Los Angeles Times wrote on March 21:

“Democrats may feel today as though they just fought — and won — the equivalent of a 100-year war. The House passage Sunday night of sweeping healthcare legislation ends months of caustic debate over the plan and the way it was enacted, marked by a steep decline in approval for Democrats almost everywhere. Now, they hope, the discussion will finally shift in their favor.

“President Obama was spared a devastating defeat, and squabbling lawmakers showed they could accomplish something epic and important in the face of unanimous GOP opposition. That should count for something, they hope, at a time when many voters had written off Washington as utterly dysfunctional…

“But in fact, the political battle is just beginning. The party now must live or die with its landmark legislation in hundreds of congressional districts across the country, in the most hostile midterm election climate Democrats have faced since the Republican landslide year of 1994…

“This year figured to be tough for Democrats, whatever happened Sunday. The party holding the presidency almost always loses House seats in the first midterm vote. Since World War II the average is 16. (It’s been pretty much a wash in Senate races.) Democrats would be thrilled if that were the outcome Nov. 2, but it seems highly unlikely…

“For Democrats, the next several months will be spent trying to hold down their losses, which makes passage of the gargantuan healthcare bill all the more audacious — especially when the chief animating force in politics today is a profound mistrust of Washington and anger over the expansive growth of government…”

USA Today wrote on March 22:

“Some Republicans have already promised to make repeal of the legislation a major theme of the 2010 campaign year, and beyond… Lawyers for both sides are gearing up. Legal challenges could focus on parts of the health care bill, such as its requirement that all Americans buy health insurance or face financial penalties…”

“US Health Care — Bad for the World”

Der Spiegel Online wrote on March 22:

“Obama has made history. His health care package is the most important reform America has seen in decades. But what is good for the US may not be a positive for the president himself — nor for the rest of the world…

“There is little doubt that the reform package, which guarantees health care coverage for 95 percent of Americans, is one for the history books. It was a scandal that the world’s richest country for so long offered its citizens such pitiful protection against illness or injury… Nevertheless, [Obama] cannot really celebrate the reform that he promised for so long… Insurance companies will get millions of new customers, but no real competition. Their shares are currently skyrocketing — they are the true winners of US health care reform.

“The president, in other words, won the moral debate, but he is paying a high price… One thing… seems clear: the debate over health care is far from over… Every other issue has become a sideshow, particularly those outside the borders of America. The Afghanistan mission: of marginal interest. Protecting the environment: postponed. Peace in the Middle East: off in the distance. Sanctions against Iran: delayed. Europe: not even worth a trip.

“The one remaining global superpower has succumbed to navel gazing. The nature of Obama’s hard-fought victory means little will change in the near future. On the contrary: Now he must explain to the country and to his own party why the entire health care journey, as all-encompassing as it turned out to be, was worth it in the end. He will have little time for anything else.”

The ongoing fight pertaining to health care reform will only contribute to America’s demise. For more information, please read our free booklet, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America.”

Obama the Antichrist?

Mail On Line wrote on March 24:

“Nearly a quarter of Republicans believe the Democrat president ‘may be the Antichrist’, according to a survey. An even greater number compared him to Hitler.

“Mr Obama was jubilant this week after securing his £626billion healthcare reform plan. But his triumph seems only to have inflamed his critics among the evangelical Christians from America’s heartland who kept George Bush in power for eight years and have demonised his successor.

“More than half of the Republicans… believed the president was secretly Muslim, something he has consistently denied. And 67 per cent of Republicans who responded believed Obama was a socialist, despite his central leanings.

“The startling results came as lawyers representing 14 U.S. states filed lawsuits yesterday challenging an overhaul of the country’s $2.5trillion healthcare system, minutes after President Barack Obama signed the landmark legislation. One joint lawsuit by a dozen Republican attorneys general and a Democrat claims the sweeping reforms violate state-government rights in the U.S. Constitution and will force massive new spending on hard-pressed state governments.

“Virginia went to court separately, while Missouri Republican Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder said he would like to join the suit. The joint suit, led by Florida, was filed with a federal court in Pensacola, according to the office of Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum. In addition to McCollum, the Republican attorneys general from Alabama, Colorado, Idaho, Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Washington joined the suit.

“The lawsuit says the law – which expands government health plans for the poor, imposes new taxes on the wealthy and requires insurers to cover people with pre-existing medical conditions – violates the Constitution’s commerce clause by requiring nearly all Americans to buy health insurance. Mr McCollum said: ‘It forces people to do something – in the sense of buying a healthcare policy or paying a penalty, a tax or a fine – that simply the Constitution does not allow Congress to do.’

“Mr McCollum, who is seeking the Republican nomination to run for Florida governor, said the healthcare reforms would add $1.6billion to Florida’s spending on the Medicaid health program for the poor. The Justice Department, which is responsible for defending U.S. law in court, pledged to vigorously fight any challenges to the new healthcare law… The White House agreed the suits would fail…

“But on the most historic occasion of his presidency so far, vice-president Joe Biden managed to put his foot in it. Gaffe-prone Mr Biden inadvertently broadcast the F-word to America after he introduced the President to sign his much vaunted health reform bill into law yesterday. After hugging Mr Obama at a…ceremony in the White House, Mr Biden leaned in and whispered in the President’s ear: ‘This is a big [omitted] deal.’

“The remark was caught on microphones recording the event that was shown live across the country. By last night, the clip was being replayed all over the internet.”

The idea that President Obama could be the “antichrist” is of course utter nonsense. For more information on the concept of the “antichrist,” please read our Q&A on the topic. Many confuse the idea of the “antichrist” with the prophesied “beast” and/or “the false prophet.” But President Obama is neither. For more information on these two future personalities, please read our free booklets, “Europe in Prophecy,” and “Is That in the Bible? — The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation.”

“Clinton Warns Israel”–Worst Crisis for Decades

BBC News reported on March 22:

“US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called on Israel to make ‘difficult but necessary choices’ if it wants a peace agreement with the Palestinians. Mrs Clinton warned that the status quo was ‘unsustainable’… Her comments come amid a dispute between the US and Israel over plans for 1,600 new homes in East Jerusalem. On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ruled out halting settlement construction in the city.”

Times On Line wrote on March 24:

“Two separate meetings between President Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, failed today to produce so much as an official photograph as a deep chill settled over US-Israeli relations and secrecy shrouded any efforts to repair them. The Israeli Prime Minister was due to fly home from Washington after three days marked by fierce Israeli defiance on the issue of settlements and an extraordinary silence maintained by both sides after his three-and-a-half hour visit to the White House.”

BBC added on March 24:

“Differences remain between Israel and the US, following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington, the White House has said. President Obama urged the Israeli PM to take steps to build confidence in the peace process, during ‘honest’ talks on Tuesday, spokesman Robert Gibbs said. Mr Gibbs added that the US was seeking ‘clarification’ of the latest plans to build homes in occupied East Jerusalem. Mr Netanyahu’s trip came amid the worst crisis in US-Israeli ties for decades.”

Reuters reported on March 24:

“In a move sure to anger Palestinians and frustrate Western proponents of a freeze on settlement construction, a city official said approval was given to develop a flashpoint neighborhood from which Palestinians were evicted last year. Word of the move came as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu completed an unusually low-profile meeting in Washington with U.S. President Barack Obama for fence-mending talks, after their open spat over East Jerusalem earlier this month.”

Jordan: “Israel Playing with Fire”

AFP wrote on March 25:

“Israel is ‘playing with fire’ in expanding Jewish settlements in annexed Arab east Jerusalem and attempting to alter the Holy City’s identity, Jordan’s King Abdullah II said on Thursday. ‘We have warned repeatedly that Israel is playing with fire, and Jordan rejects and condemns all measures aimed at changing the identity of Jerusalem and the displacement of its Christian and Muslim Arab population,’ the king said in an interview with Jordanian journalists.

“‘East Jerusalem must be the capital of an independent Palestinian state which should be established as soon as possible… Jerusalem belongs to the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel in 1967…’, the king added…

“Abdullah said Israel’s settlement policy risked damaging relations between Israel and Jordan, already ‘frosty’ because of Israeli actions that threatened to ‘destabilise the region and put all Middle East peace efforts at risk.'”

Israel in Isolation?

The Washington Post wrote on March 24:

“The two-week-old dispute between Israel and the United States over housing construction in East Jerusalem has exposed the limits of American power to pressure Israeli leaders to make decisions they consider politically untenable. But the blowup also shows that the relationship between the two allies is changing, in ways that are unsettling for Israel’s supporters.

“President Obama and his aides have cast the settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, not just the relationship with Israel, as a core U.S. national security interest…

“The cooling in the U.S.-Israel relationship coincides with an apparent deepening of Israel’s diplomatic isolation. Anger has grown in Europe in the wake of Israel’s suspected misuse of European passports to kill a Palestinian militant in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates. On Tuesday, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband announced the expulsion of a senior diplomat over the incident, an unusually drastic step for an ally. Relations with Turkey, a rare Muslim friend of Israel for decades, have hit a new low…

“Arab leaders have long said that a peace deal would be possible if the United States pressured Israel. But many experts say such hope is often misplaced. In the case of East Jerusalem, Netanyahu believes that a halt to construction represents political suicide for his coalition, so no amount of U.S. pressure will lead him to impose a freeze…”

The Bible predicts that in the near future, the state of Israel will find itself more and more alone–without any support from its allies. For more information, please read our free booklet, “The Book of Zechariah–Prophecies for Today!”

Sarkozy Suffers Bruising Defeat

The EUObserver wrote:

“President Nicolas Sarkozy suffered a bruising defeat in the last round of France’s regional elections on Sunday, with his centre-right party losing in all but one of the 22 mainland regions. Some cabinet ministers are likely to be reshuffled as a consequence. The Socialist Party, Greens and other left-wing allies took some 54 percent of the vote at a national level… leaving Mr Sarkozy’s Union du Mouvement Populaire (UMP) at just 36 percent, the centre-right’s worst showing in 50 years…

“Right-wing veteran Jean-Marie Le Pen… mounted something of a comeback, whose National Front party did well enough to stay in the race in 12 mainland regions, depriving Mr Sarkozy’s party of about 10 per cent of voters. His daughter Marine also won some 22 percent of the vote in her region, suggesting she may inherit the leadership of Mr Le Pen’s party once he retires.”

Will Guttenberg Resign?

Deutsche Welle reported on March 19:

“Members of the Green Party and the Social Democrats are saying that Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg should resign if he lied about being ill-informed regarding a fatal Afghanistan airstrike. ‘If Guttenberg is found to have lied in connection with a central leadership decision, his position as defense minister is no longer viable,’ Social Democratic Party whip Thomas Opperman told the Berliner Zeitung on Friday. The Greens’ spokesman for defense matters, Omid Nouripour, told the ARD television network that Guttenberg should step down if that is proven to be the case. But Nouripour added that he had not yet seen proof in that direction.

“Germany’s former top military officer, Wolfgang Schneiderhan, told the inquiry on Thursday that Guttenberg had been well briefed about the September 2009 airstrike, which killed as many as 142 Afghan civilians. That contradicts Guttenberg’s earlier claims that he was relying on incomplete information when he initially described the attack as ‘militarily appropriate.’ He later rescinded that statement. ‘Minister zu Guttenberg has up to now failed to explain in any way how he came to his mistaken evaluation and how he corrected it,’ Rainer Arnold, the Social Democrats’ expert on defense policy, told Deutsche Presse Agentur on Friday…

“Guttenberg was serving as economics minister when the incident occurred in September 2009. He became defense minister when Prime Minister Angela Merkel assembled her second cabinet last February. Guttenberg replaced fellow Christian Democrat Franz Josef Jung, who resigned in the scandal’s aftermath.  Jung will go before the committee next week. Guttenberg’s appearance is scheduled for April 22.”

Possible reconstitutions of the French and German governments might be revealing in light of biblical prophecy. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Is That in the Bible?–The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation.”

Vatican Silent on Catholic Sex Scandal in Germany

The Associated Press reported on March 20:

“Pope Benedict XVI rebuked Irish bishops Saturday for ‘grave errors of judgment’ in handling clerical sex abuse and ordered an investigation into the Irish church but did not mention any Vatican responsibility. In a letter to the Irish faithful read across Europe amid a growing, multination abuse scandal, the pope doled out no specific punishments to bishops blamed by victims, and Irish government-ordered investigations, for having covered up abuse of thousands of Irish children from the 1930s to the 1990s.

“Ireland’s main group of clerical-abuse victims, One in Four, said it was deeply disappointed by the letter because it failed to lay blame with the Vatican for what it called a ‘deliberate policy of the Catholic Church at the highest levels to protect sex offenders, thereby endangering children’…

“The letter directly addressed only Ireland, but the Vatican said it could be read as applying to other countries. Hundreds of new allegations of abuse have recently come to light across Europe, including in the pope’s native Germany, where he served as archbishop in a diocese where several victims have recently come forward. One priest suspected of molesting boys while the future pope was in charge was transferred to a job where he abused more children.

“While a cardinal at the Vatican, Joseph Ratzinger penned a letter instructing bishops around the world to report all cases of abuse to his office and keep them secret under threat of excommunication. Irish bishops have said the letter was widely understood to mean they shouldn’t report the cases to police.”

German Reaction to Benedict’s “Apology”

On March 22, Der Spiegel Online published reactions of the German press to Pope Benedict’s most recent “apology”:

“Though highly anticipated, the apology was not well received. Many slammed the letter for not including a requirement that Cardinal Sean Brady, head of the Irish church, step down. Requirements that other church leaders be punished were likewise missed by victims groups…

“In Germany… expectations that the pope might finally break his silence on the church abuse scandal that has shaken the country in recent weeks remain unfulfilled. Hundreds of people have come forward since the end of January with stories of sexual maltreatment perpetrated by priests and by teachers at Catholic boarding schools.

“Of particular concern are allegations that the pope, back when he was the Bishop of Munich in the 1980s, knew of one particular abusive priest from Essen, who had forced a young boy to perform oral sex before being transferred to Munich. According to SPIEGEL information, the pope, then called Joseph Ratzinger, was aware of the church’s decision not to turn the priest over to the police. Just weeks later, the abusive priest was once again working with children, a fact which Ratzinger may also have known about…

“Conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes: ‘The pope has done little to indicate the way forward for churches in Ireland or Germany, so that they may atone for past wrongs as well as avoid doing harm in the future…’

“Left-leaning Die Tageszeitung writes: ‘The central issues of the scandal will remain. Now, as before, and despite all his warm words for the victims, the pope shies away from any debate about sexual morality in the church. And one can only hope that his public silence about the abuse cases in Germany, is not because the pope himself was unhappily involved in such a case when he was the archbishop of Munich…’

“The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes: ‘… the letter is not going to rescue the church from the crisis it is currently enmeshed in. The letter will not do this because it is addressed to the Irish church only. The letter localizes a problem that actually affects the church throughout the world.”

“‘And the pope’s letter is also problematic when it tries to come to grips with the reasons for the abuse. Benedict XVI suggests that these problems arose because of a moral laxness in the clergy and church that arose after the reforms of the Second Vatican Council (eds note: the 1960s reforms that the church brought about in acknowledge[ment] of the changing modern world). The pope says these were mistakenly interpreted as a softening of moral standards. With respect, this is nonsense. Many of the cases from the more distant past, which are currently coming to light, demonstrate this…’

“The conservative daily Die Welt writes: ‘Had the pope actually said anything about the occurrences in his homeland, the letter’s impact on the church worldwide would doubtless have been greater. Even without that, the text is explosive. That bishops protected perpetrators, that camouflage and concealment were not exceptions: The head of the Catholic church has never been as clear about any of this before. His call for the church to be subject to the law of the land is an unmistakable instruction to all who abide by the church’s rules. But his pastoral letter will not dispel all of the dark clouds hovering over the Catholic church. Nor will it put to rest the debate over celibacy, that so many in the church find so troubling…'”

Even though the Catholic Church is under attack, it will play a prominent influential role in the near future. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Europe in Prophecy.”

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Would you please explain Revelation 12:17?

Reading Revelation 12:17 in context, it shows that in the future, just prior to Christ’s return, some in God’s Church will be protected from the Great Tribulation and Satan’s wrath, while other Christians will have to go through that terrible time of martyrdom.

Revelation 12:17 reads: “And the dragon [Satan the devil] was enraged with the woman [the Church of God], and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”

We begin our discussion of this passage by quoting from chapter 13 of our free booklet, “Is That in the Bible?–The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation“:

“Commencing with Revelation 12:7, events that will take place at the time of the end—still future—are being described. A new war is depicted between Satan and God—another demonic attempt to dethrone God. But Satan will fail again and will be cast back down to the earth, to subsequently persecute the woman with ‘great wrath’ (Revelation 12:7–13).

“While the woman has flown to her place of safety, here on earth, with two wings of a great eagle (compare Exodus 19:4; Deuteronomy 1:31; 32:11; Isaiah 63:9), to be nourished there for 3-½ years (Revelation 12:14), Satan will spew water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman. This might perhaps allude to an army or to a military force (compare Daniel 11:10; Jeremiah 47:2–3). The earth will open its mouth to help the woman (compare Numbers 16:31–32). All of this will happen on earth—not in heaven, as some who believe in the false concept of a secret rapture erroneously teach.

“Satan will proceed to persecute others within the Church who will not be at the place of safety here on earth (those belonging to the prophetic ‘church of the Laodiceans,’ compare Revelation 3:14–19, including 144,000 Israelites and the great multitude of Gentiles, mentioned earlier).”

For further information on the existence of the place of safety here on earth, and the protection of some of God’s people (the “Philadelphia” Christians, compare Revelation 3:7-13, especially verse 10), please read our Q&A on the subject.

But why does God not protect other members of the Church of God–even though they “keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ”?

First, it is obvious that not all true Christians will be protected at the place of safety. God has decreed that some will have an important responsibility to fulfill during the Great Tribulation. The Bible speaks of two witnesses who will preach during the time of the Great Tribulation, and who will be killed a few days prior to Christ’s return. It stands to reason, based on Scripture, that the two witnesses will be supported by other Christians who will not be at the place of safety–and some, if not many of them, might likewise have to endure martyrdom–not necessarily because of any character flaws, but because they were counted worthy to suffer for Christ’s sake and God’s glory (compare Revelation 6:9-11; John 21:17-19; Acts 5:40-41; 1 Peter 4:12-19).

It is also true, however, that many Christians described in the Bible as “Laodiceans” (compare Revelation 3:14-22), will have to go through the Great Tribulation. They are “lukewarm” Christians, thinking that they are rich and pure and righteous. They could be compared with the Pharisees who were spiritually blind, even though they were convinced that they were righteous and able to see. They kept the commandments of God, but not in the way that was pleasing to God. Rather than looking for God’s righteousness, they tried to establish their own righteousness.

Likewise, “Laodicean” Christians include people who are not really zealous in doing the Work of God, as well as those who think that they are, but they are not zealous in their self-examination to really see themselves as God does. They “keep” God’s commandments and “have” the testimony or the words or teachings of Christ–confessing Christ and claiming to be His true most dedicated followers–but they are not really willing to live God’s Word from the heart and with uncompromising and unwavering determination and conviction.

All of us are called upon to examine ourselves to see whether we are really in the faith–whether Christ really lives in us. Christ will tell those who did many miracles in His name and who preached the gospel in His name: “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” (Matthew 7:23). Christ never knew them to the extent that He could count on their unwavering and unconditional obedience. Even though they knew and perhaps even taught the commandments of God and the Words of Christ, they did not really live them–certainly not from the heart. They might have thought they were righteous–but they were not in God’s eyes.

Even though most commentators identify the persecuted Christians in Revelation 12:17 as dedicated, zealous and blameless followers of Christ, based on the fact that they “keep” the commandments and “have” the testimony, that understanding may not be correct.

The Elberfelder Bible comments that the word for “keep” can either convey the meaning of “to preserve” or “to do.” It does not have to mean both. God told the Israelites through Moses to “keep” and “do” the commandments (compare Deuteronomy 4:6. Authorized Version). The Elberfelder Bible translates: “to preserve and do them.” Generally speaking, the scribes and Pharisees “preserved” or “kept” the Law of God, but they most certainly did not “do” it (compare Matthew 23:1-3).

The Greek word for “keep” is “tereo,” and it includes the meaning of “watch over, preserve, keep, watch” (W. E. Vine, Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words). The passage in Revelation 12:17 could then be understood to say that they persevered or “watched” or “watched over” the commandments, but they were not really doing them. They called themselves Christians, but were not really conquered and led by God’s Holy Spirit.

But even if those who will not be protected at the place of safety keep the commandments and confess Christ in the sense that they will actually be obeying and doing them, they still might not have embraced them in the sense that they had become part of their nature–they would not have obeyed them from the heart; they would have not fully convinced themselves that they had to be kept; they would not have developed in themselves a LOVE for the truth.

The Great Tribulation will change all of this for many of them. In facing and experiencing martyrdom, many will come to the conviction that it is necessary, in the eyes of God, to embrace God’s Word wholeheartedly, as it defines His nature, and as true Christians are developing God’s divine nature within them. God would like to see this kind of unwavering commitment and conviction in His disciples now, in order to spare them from the terrible time to come–but for many, if not most Christians today, this goal will only be achieved through severe pain and suffering in the future.

In context with the annual Passover and the admonition to Christians to partake of it in a worthy manner, Paul warns us in 1 Corinthians 11:29-31:

“For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.”

God knows best what is needed for us to be able to enter His Kingdom. And when He calls someone to His truth in this day and age, He is not easily giving up on such a person. When Jonah tried to run away from his calling, God performed many miracles–some were very unpleasant for Jonah–to see to it that he would fulfill his task. Still, Jesus warns and admonishes all of us:

“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of life, and that Day come upon you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be COUNTED WORTHY TO ESCAPE all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:34-36)

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

A new StandingWatch program was posted on the Web, titled, “Europe’s Rise and Obama’s Fall” . In the program, Norbert Link explains that due to Greece’s problems, some suggest that the euro will be abandoned. However, the euro is here to stay. Germany is emerging as Europe’s leader, “calling the shots.” Germany has become the world’s third largest weapons dealer. While Europe is gaining power, Obama’s America is losing all support. German papers wrote: “The American president doesn’t have a single ally among European heads of state.” “Obama continues to stand alone on the world stage, seemingly without a goal… The Palestinians no longer trust him, and the Israelis don’t take him seriously.”

A new German StandingWatch program was posted on the Web dealing with the ongoing sex scandal of the Catholic church in Germany. The program is titled, “Der Zölibat Muss Weg!” [“Celibacy Must Go!”]

A new German sermon was posted on the Web, titled, “Alkohol–Segen oder Fluch? [“Alcohol–Blessing or Curse?”].

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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

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