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How Important Are You?
by Norbert Link
You might think this is a somewhat silly question. Me–important? Especially during times of personal trials and disappointment, frustration and feelings of failure and despair, you might perhaps conclude it would have been better for you and everyone around you if you had never been born–like James Stewart’s desperate character felt temporarily in his famous movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
However, you would be wrong! God created you for a purpose. And who is to count the many people you are influencing in your life–for good or for worse?
During my wife’s and my vacation in Yugoslavia during the first year of our marriage, we saved a young girl from drowning. We have never heard of her again, but sometimes wonder what happened to her. Did she marry and have children? What became of her children?
So many events and occurrences in our personal lives are interconnected. My father (who died several years ago at the age of 95) told me that he stared death in the face at least twice, when fighting at the Russian front during World War II. He was convinced that somehow, his life was spared in a way which cannot be explained naturally. I am very thankful that it was, because otherwise, he would not have married; would not have had children; and his son–yours truly–would not have come into existence; would not have married; would not have children; and our grown-up married daughter would not give birth to her first child in a very few days from now.
Do we see how our lives are important for the lives of others? And that is not only true in the most obvious sense!
Our way of living influences and affects others. King David said that he had never seen the children of a righteous person begging for bread. His son, King Solomon, explained that the children of a righteous person would have a sure place of safety. God said in the Ten Commandments that He would extend His mercy with a righteous person for a “thousand generations” (Deuteronomy 7:9). This is, at least in part, the case because a truly converted person will train his children in the way they should go, and his influence will be for their good. God said about Abraham that he would teach his children to obey God.
Sadly, the reverse is also true. In the same context of the Ten Commandments, God said that the iniquity of the fathers would be visited upon their children “to the third and fourth generation of those who hate” Him (Exodus 20:5). This shows us how lengthy and involved our negative influence can be on our descendants. This is even true for righteous parents, when they slip up. Abraham lied about his wife Sarah, saying that she was his sister, and his son Isaac would later repeat the same lie about his wife Rebekah.
But if God calls you today to understand and live His truth, then you are also very important in God’s eyes for additional reasons. God predestined you before the foundation of the earth to choose you in this day and age for salvation. Out of all the billions of people alive today, He foreknew and called you, requiring of you to answer His call and to stay faithful until the end of your life.
Some have been trying to run away from their calling. They may think that it is really not that important. Jonah tried to “flee from the presence of the LORD,” unwilling to fulfill His mission; Jeremiah attempted to refuse to do God’s Will for him, claiming he was too young; Moses was at first unwilling to obey God, alleging he was not a good speaker. Amos might have felt he was not qualified, seeing that he was “just” a sheepbreeder. But in every case, God showed them otherwise, and they came to understand the importance of their calling.
God tells you never to give up; never to surrender; never to throw in the towel; never to look back. Your calling today is far too important. And with your calling comes responsibility. You can either hasten or delay the very return of Jesus Christ. Yes, you! That’s how important you are in the eyes of God. Peter says in regard to Christ’s promise of His Second Coming: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us [or “you,” according to the NIV and the RSV], not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
Realize the importance of your way of living: Your refusal to repent at this time could delay the return of Christ! Think about that one. Do you feel as important about yourself as God does? At the same time, we can accelerate Christ’s coming. In the same context, Peter says: “… what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of the Lord…” (2 Peter 3:11-12).
God’s patience is not limitless. There will come a time when a tree which does not bear fruit, will be cut down and thrown into the fire, and when there “should be delay no longer” (Revelation 10:6). In the meantime, view yourself as an important future member of the Family of God, and realize that your life is not the product of “random chance.” God gave you your life for a reason! Never think that you don’t count, or that it is immaterial how you live. The potential fate of millions of people may be in your hands.
The tremendous damage and upheaval caused by the volcanic eruption in Iceland is still accumulating. As AFP pointed out on April 21, “Passengers from around the world dozed on floors and huddled in blankets at London’s Heathrow airport Wednesday, still waiting to get home after days of misery even after the flight ban was lifted.” Deutsche Welle added on April 22 that “since the start of the airport closures last Thursday, three million passengers have had their flights cancelled… With airports and airlines now open for business, it is estimated it could take days, or even weeks to clear the backlog of passengers.”
Der Spiegel points out that if weather conditions had been slightly different and if the weather had not “conspired against Europe,” none of the terrible consequences would have been felt in Europe. It is truly remarkable that just at the moment the volcano began to erupt, the wind changed directions and began to blow the ash cloud towards Europe. Given the fact that according to the Bible, spiritual forces influence and control the weather, we leave it to the reader to ponder whether this was mere “coincidence.” In addition, a real danger exists that two adjacent volcanoes might erupt as well.
Israel celebrated this week its “Remembrance Day” or “Memorial Day,” as well as its “Independence Day.” Congratulations from world leaders notwithstanding, articles point out that, according to the predominant thinking in Israel, the “war against the State of Israel and the Jewish people has no borders” and that “Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the State of Israel and that it will never be divided.”
In an interesting twist, Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi praised President Obama as a friend, stating that “regardless of his African belonging, he is of Arab Sudanese descent, of Muslim descent.” At the same time, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas told a House subcommittee that the U.S. Supreme Court is “evading” the issue of Barack Obama’s eligibility as President, while the Arizona House voted for a provision that would require Mr. Obama to show his birth certificate if he hopes to be on the state’s ballot when he runs for re-election.
We continue with a report on Germany’s ongoing Afghan debacle. Seven German soldiers were killed within the last two weeks, and the German public is becoming increasingly vocal against continued German participation in the war. The German media argues that the government is partly or mainly to be blamed, as it has never explained the reason for the mission which began in 2002. At the same time, it is being suggested that “a premature withdrawal” would damage Germany within the NATO alliance, and that “the warning that Germany may isolate itself must be taken very seriously.”
We report about a discussion on the future of the euro and demands for a fiscally and politically unified United States of Europe. The Bible shows indeed that such a unity of continental Europe will occur in the not-too-distant future. We conclude with German reactions to the resignation of German Bishop Mixa.
This Week in the News
No Crisis With Different Weather Conditions…
Der Spiegel Online wrote on April 17:
“The eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull has brought European aviation to a near-standstill in the worst disruptions since 9/11… But if the weather had only been a little different, the whole crisis might never have happened…
“One volcano achieved what hurricanes, terrorists and flu viruses never managed — Heathrow, Paris, Frankfurt, Schiphol and all of Europe’s other major hubs came to a standstill on Friday afternoon. Airlines cancelled 17,000 flights [just on Friday]… Losses for airlines are estimated at [1.3 billion euros ($1.7 billion), according to Deutsche Welle, April 22]…
“One factor exacerbating this eruption was the fact that the rising magma mixed with ice in the crater. As the blazing hot lava hit the 200-meter (650-foot) thick glacier, the ice turned explosively to steam… Weather also conspired against Europe. Just as the volcano was erupting, the North Atlantic jet stream was passing over Iceland from the northwest, carrying myriad sharp-edged particles on a collision course with Europe’s air fleets.
“‘It’s as if it’s jinxed,’ says Helmut Malewski, who is tracking the ash cloud at Germany’s National Meteorological Service’s central forecasting office. ‘The wind blew from the east all winter. But just now, when the volcano goes active, it blows from the northwest.’ Dryness was another factor. ‘One strong rainstorm over the North Sea would have washed out the ash and helped us dramatically,’ Malewski says…
“The Katla volcano, barely 25 kilometers to the east, has enormously higher explosive power. It also has a rather nasty habit of erupting shortly after Eyjafjallajökull. The last major eruption of Eyjafjallajökull lasted for two years, ending in 1823 when Katla erupted like a massive cannon… So far, Katla hasn’t reacted…
“But there’s still another fire-spewing giant in the area — Heckla. ‘That volcano erupts, with a regularity that astonishes geologists, every 10 years,’ says Thomas Walter of the German Research Center for Geosciences (GFZ) in Potsdam. ‘It is long overdue.’ Such chain reactions are not uncommon for volcanic mountain ranges, especially in Iceland…”
“Escape from Europe”– Wide-Ranging Consequences of Volcanic Eruption…
The Associated Press reported on April 19:
“Stranded travelers are piling into buses, trains and high-priced taxis in a frantic scramble to accomplish an increasingly tricky mission: Escape from Europe. Spain was becoming a dream destination not for its beaches and monuments but simply by virtue of the fact it’s one of the few European countries unaffected by the ash cloud…
“A German rental agency on Sunday was asking more than 1,000 euros — close to $1,400 — for a car one-way from Belgrade, Serbia, to Munich, while another firm demanded 1,850 euros ($2,500) for a Madrid to Brussels rental. In Stockholm… about 50 clients had willingly paid prices of up to 34,000 kronor — nearly $5,000 — to different European destinations from which they had a chance to fly home. Legions of other travelers were simply stranded…
“The ash also caused diplomatic headaches. President Barack Obama was forced to miss the Polish president’s weekend funeral… Iceland’s volcanic ash cloud also delayed bailout talks in Athens on Monday regarding Greece’s economy, leaving the country to watch its borrowing costs hit another record high…”
This shows how difficult it might become in the future to “escape” from dangerous areas. Today, we are talking about just ONE volcanic eruption. Just imagine the additional damage caused by coinciding big earthquakes with huge tidal waves, as well as volcanic eruptions by several volcanoes. Sadly, the Bible prophesies that terrible calamities will strike this planet very soon, combined with outright nuclear war between power blocs and nations having gone mad. Christ spoke of a coming “Great Tribulation”–an unparalleled time of devastation in man’s history or future. He said that if He were not to return, no human being would be saved alive. But He will return, in time, to destroy those who destroy the earth.
War Against Jews With No Borders
The Jerusalem Post wrote on April 19:
“Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak spoke at Remembrance Day ceremonies on Monday, comforting and commending the families of the fallen… President Shimon Peres, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and Chief Justice Dorit Beinish were also in attendance.
“Netanyahu opened his speech with a personal story of his time in the elite Sayeret Matkal unit. He described two young soldiers that served with him: ‘Zohar Link was a handsome and charismatic young man. He was a counselor in the Shomer Hatza’ir youth movement, played the harmonica, loved photography, loved nature. Who knows where he would have gone with his personality? David Ben-Hemo was an intelligent, handsome boy, an excellent athlete, curious, sensitive and modest. He captivated me from the moment I met him. I believe he had a bright future ahead of him.’
“Link and Ben-Hemo were wounded while preparing for a military operation… ‘[David] died in my arms, before we reached the hospital. Zohar died shortly after. I will never forget these moments; both of them remained 19 years old forever.’
“Netanyahu continued with the story of his brother, Yoni Netanyahu, who was killed in the famed 1975 Entebbe rescue operation, which he commanded… ‘We are a nation that seeks peace and prays for peace. Our one hand is outstretched towards peace, we all want peace in our hands, and the other holds the sword of David, in order to protect our nation against those who seek to harm us,’ Netanyahu said…
“Barak spoke concurrently with Netanyahu, at the Kiriat Shaul Military Cemetary in northern Tel Aviv. ‘We stand here, in front of this long row of tombstones, which are the tangible witnesses to the price you paid in blood, dear families, for our nation to live in its land…’ He continued: ‘22,684 fallen is the necessary price, that we did not want, the price of sovereignty in Israel, in this generation…’
“Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky led a ceremony in honor of the 200 Jews killed in anti-Semitic attacks around the world, since the establishment of the State of Israel. ‘Our enemies understand that our strength comes from the… entire Jewish people’s identification with the State of Israel,’ Sharansky said. ‘Therefore, the war against the State of Israel and the Jewish people has no borders. Our enemies attack us not only in Jerusalem and in Tel Aviv, but also in Argentina, France, England and Bombay.’”
Israel Celebrates 62nd Independence Day
Haaretz wrote on April 20:
“U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders sent Israel greetings and warm wishes on the occasion of the country’s 62nd Independence Day. The relationship between Israel and the U.S. ‘will only be strengthened in the months and years to come,’ Obama said in a special statement. ‘Minutes after David Ben-Gurion declared Israel’s independence, realizing the dream of a state for the Jewish people in their historic homeland, the United States became the first country to recognize Israel,’ Obama said… Obama also said his administration would continue to work toward a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict…
“Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, meanwhile, sent a letter to President Shimon Peres calling for a resumption of peace talks with the Palestinians and the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Other world leaders including Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, Russian President Dmitry Mevedev, German President Horst Koehler, the Netherlands’ Queen Beatrix, Mexican President Felipe Calderon… and Swedish King Carl XVI Gustaf also sent greetings to Israel for Independence Day.
“Turkish President Abdullah Gul also wrote to Peres, saying, ‘I would like to take this opportunity to repeat and confirm our desire to advance relations with Israel on a basis of mutual interests and by contributing to peace and stability in the Middle East.’ On Sunday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said… ‘The United States will continue to stand with you, sharing your risks and helping shoulder your burdens, as we face the future together…'”
Nice words, but reality paints a different picture. As we reported in recent Updates, including in Update #438, dated April 16, 2010, the United States of America, Europe and the rest of the world are distancing themselves more and more from the state of Israel. As the next article shows, some in Israel sense this danger, but they really do not have or offer any lasting solution. In fact, there ARE NO human solutions, but the Bible shows that it is GOD who must intervene, which He will.
Jerusalem the Eternal Capital of State of Israel
Haaretz wrote on April 20:
“Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Tuesday that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the State of Israel and that it will never be divided – ‘neither directly nor indirectly.’
“Addressing a group of foreign diplomats at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, the foreign minister quoted a speech made by former prime minister Menachem Begin, explaining that Begin’s remarks reflected the connection that Jews around the world feel toward Jerusalem – a connection that still exists today…
“The foreign minister also addressed reports of possible future demands on behalf of the U.S. administrations that Israel and the Palestinians make certain moves towards a peace settlement… In response to this, Lieberman said Tuesday that ‘any attempt to force a solution on us without building a foundation of trust between the two sides will only deepen the conflict. Peace can’t be forced – it must be built.’
“Lieberman’s remarks echoed the sentiments voiced by several officials who spoke about the capital in ceremonies marking Memorial Day and Independence Day on Monday and Tuesday. Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said during a ceremony in Jerusalem on Monday that ‘we won’t apologize for the building of Jerusalem our capital.’ Rivlin dedicated a significant portion of his speech to the ‘attack on Jerusalem’…”
The Bible prophesies that Jerusalem will be attacked–not only with words, but quite literally. Zechariah 12:2-3, 8-9 quotes God as saying: “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it… In that day the LORD will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem… It will be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.”
Gaddafi: “Obama of Arab Sudanese and Muslim Descent”
Israel National News reported on April 18:
“Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi blessed U.S. President Barack Obama as a ‘friend’ over the weekend in a speech published by the London-based al-Hayat newspaper, labeling him ‘an African from Arab descent, from Muslim descent’… The Libyan leader [said:] ‘He knows he is a son of Africa. Regardless of his African belonging, he is of Arab Sudanese descent, of Muslim descent…’
“’The Arabs hate America, there is no doubt. There is not an Arab that loves America,’ he admitted, ‘and even the leaders who the United States considers allies or friends, hate it. The external love is merely hypocrisy or pragmatism.’ Gaddafi blamed ‘Palestine’ for the hatred, saying ‘The Palestinians today are like the Jews of the past – dispersed in exile and persecuted. Now the Palestinians are at a point where they deserve to have the United States on their side and not on the side of the Israelis.’
“The Libyan leader has been campaigning for a one-state solution – to be called ‘Isratine’ – in which the so-called ‘Right of Return’ would be implemented for millions of foreign-born Arabs, descendants of those who fled the area during the 1948 War for Independence. The bi-national state that would be created in Gaddafi’s vision would be a democratic, nuclear-free country populated equally by Arabs and Jews, and would not be a Jewish nation. Israel, in its current form, would cease to exist.”
This is quite an interesting proposal, as it reflects the gist of a prophecy found in Psalm 83, relating to a confederacy of certain nations against Israel, with the goal, as verse 4 states, to “let us cast them off from being a nation, That the name of Israel may be remembered no more.”
U.S. Supreme Court Evades Issue of Obama Eligibility
WorldNetDaily reported on April 17, 2010:
“U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas told a House subcommittee that when it comes to determining whether a person born outside the 50 states can serve as U.S. president, the high court is ‘evading’ the issue. The comments came as part of Thomas’ testimony before a House appropriations panel discussing an increase in the Supreme Court’s budget earlier this week.
“Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., actually raised the question first amid a discussion on racial diversity in the judiciary. ‘I’m still waiting for the [court decision] on whether or not a Puerto Rican can run for president of the United States,’ said Serrano, who was born in the island territory…
“Yet after Serrano questioned him on whether or not the land’s highest court would be well-served by a justice who had never been a judge, Thomas not only answered in the affirmative, but also hinted that Serrano would be better off seeking a seat in the Supreme Court than a chair in the Oval Office.
“‘I’m glad to hear that you don’t think there has to be a judge on the Court,’ said Serrano, ‘because I’m not a judge; I’ve never been a judge.’ ‘And you don’t have to be born in the United States,’ said Thomas, referring to the Constitution, which requires the president to be a natural-born citizen but has no such clause for a Supreme Court justice, ‘so you never have to answer that question.’
“‘Oh really?’ asked Serrano. ‘So you haven’t answered the one about whether I can serve as president, but you answer this one?’ ‘We’re evading that one,’ answered Thomas, referring to questions of presidential eligibility and prompting laughter in the chamber…
“Justice Thomas had previously resurrected a case challenging Barack Obama’s eligibility to be president not based on his birthplace, but on whether Obama, a child born to a foreign national and admitting dual citizenship, would still be eligible under the Constitution’s Article 2, Section 1 ‘natural-born citizen’ requirement…
“Hints of division within the Supreme Court on the issue existed as far back as December 2008, as Justice David H. Souter had initially denied the case a hearing, but Justice Thomas agreed to bring it back for review. The case did not, however, obtain the required approval of four justices to move it forward to a full hearing. So far, the Supreme Court has not yet heard any case challenging Obama’s eligibility on any grounds.”
Arizona House Requires Obama’s Birth Certificate for Re-Election
The Associated Press reported on April 20:
“The Arizona House on Monday voted for a provision that would require President Barack Obama to show his birth certificate if he hopes to be on the state’s ballot when he runs for re-election. The House voted 31-22 to add the provision to a separate bill. The measure still faces a formal vote. It would require U.S. presidential candidates who want to appear on the ballot in Arizona to submit documents proving they meet the constitutional requirements to be president.”
The issue of President Obama’s eligibility will not go away, even though Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike wished it would, for different reasons. But as the pressure intensifies to get some clearance and closure, so will be the verbal attacks and scoffing remarks from politicians and newscasters from the left, the middle and the right, feeling very uncomfortable with the entire issue. Whatever the truth, it is becoming an embarrassing testimony to the world that the USA is not even able (or willing) to establish the eligibility of its own President.
Germany’s Afghan Dilemma
Der Spiegel Online wrote on April 19:
“The presence of German troops in Afghanistan has never been popular back home but with the deaths of seven soldiers in two weeks, public opposition to the mission looks likely to grow. Berlin is now facing increasing pressure to justify the eight-year deployment…
“Yet the German government is not only contending with the public’s distrust of the mission which began in 2002. There is also increased pressure on Germany from its NATO allies to become even more involved in Afghanistan…
“The Financial Times Deutschland writes: ‘With every dead German soldier in Afghanistan, the calls for an immediate withdrawal grow louder. This reflex shows that the German public is still not clear about the character of the mission. The politicians are largely to blame. Since the beginning of the mission eight years ago they suppressed a realistic description of the situation… Deaths, injuries, battles and heavy weaponry — none of these suit the picture that was painted back then…
“‘New heavy weaponry is unlikely to do much against the Taliban… They are too imprecise to use against insurgents who operate under the cover of the civilian population… These weapons increase the risk of civilian casualties. And that does not suit US Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s strategy of giving priority to the protection of the civilian population…
“‘There are very good grounds for arguing that the entire Afghanistan mission is wrong. However, those who decided to send soldiers have to equip and arm them adequately for such a mission. And anyone who backs McChrystal’s concept has to send more troops rather than howitzers. However, politicians find it easier to talk about war and send heavy weaponry than to actually explain what this is all about: a war-like situation, in which there will be a high number of casualties…’
“The left-leaning Berliner Zeitung writes: ‘Why are German soldiers in Afghanistan at all?… As the chancellor and her government are still sticking to the military mission there it is their duty to explain it. But she has failed to do so…’
“Former German government spokesman Thomas Steg, a member of the SPD, writes a guest editorial for the Handelsblatt business daily: ‘… The majority of Germans cannot see what the purpose of the mission is… A premature withdrawal would damage NATO credibility, and that of Germany within the alliance. The warning that Germany may isolate itself must be taken very seriously…'”
Deutsche Welle added on April 22, 2010:
“Defense Minister Guttenberg said… sacrifices would have to be made… ‘The new strategy is as dangerous and risky as the entire Afghanistan mission,’ he said… Guttenberg also confirmed that Germany would continue operating in a position of leadership in Afghanistan, adding that Berlin remained committed to the mission despite dwindling public support at home… With over 4,000 troops, Germany has the third largest military contingent in Afghanistan behind the United States and Great Britain.”
In a related article, Deutsche Welle reported on April 22 about Chancellor Merkel’s questionable and weak attempts to justify continued German participation in the Afghan war:
“Thursday’s plenary session in the Bundestag opened on a somber note, as tributes were paid to the 43 German soldiers who have been killed in Afghanistan… Chancellor Merkel… used her address to reiterate the importance of the German mission in Afghanistan. She said ‘no one was underestimating’ how dangerous this mission is for Germany’s soldiers… She urged the people and parliament to support the mission… The chancellor also said the mission conformed with both international law and the German constitution. She said to withdraw would be ‘irresponsible’ as Afghanistan would sink into chaos and anarchy…
“Chancellor Merkel said the German soldiers killed in Afghanistan had paid the ultimate price trying to bring democracy and security to the country. She called on parliamentarians to support their efforts, so that ‘girls can go to school, the streets are safe…That’s our mission in Afghanistan’…
“Merkel’s address was met with sporadic applause from her parliamentary colleagues, although several members shouted out dissent during the speech. This dissent in the chamber reflects the unpopularity of the war in Afghanistan. The government has been under increasing pressure to justify efforts in Afghanistan to a skeptical German public. In the most recent public opinion poll, 62 percent of those asked said they wanted Germany to withdraw troops from NATO’s Afghanistan campaign.”
Mainstream German politicians–excluding the extreme Left–support a continuation of German participation in the Afghan war, for fear that otherwise Germany might become isolated. But as Der Spiegel wrote on April 22, US General Stanley McChrystal, who was visiting Germany this week, “revealed a refreshingly realistic view of the Afghanistan conflict. His message: We can win the mission, but that’s not a given.”
In spite of this uncertainty and the lack of public support, German Defense Minister von Guttenberg has promised further equipment and weaponry (but not yet more troops), thereby pushing Germany further and further into continuing military engagement in foreign lands, and that not (just) for “defense” purposes. As the Bible prophesies, this development will backfire and it will have terrible repercussions for the entire world.
Demands for a United States of Europe
The Daily Mail and the EUObserver reported recently about two radically different imagined scenarios regarding the future of the euro.
The Daily Mail wrote on April 16:
“Germany may be poised to quit the euro to set up a smaller monetary union because of the Greek crisis, according to a leading City economist… Joachim Fels, co-chief global economist at investment bank Morgan Stanley in London, warned the Greek rescue proposal sets a ‘bad precedent’ for eurozone member states and makes it more likely that the euro area ‘degenerates into a zone of fiscal profligacy, currency weakness and higher inflationary pressures’. Mr Fels suggested Berlin may be ‘better off with a harder but smaller currency union’.”
However, the EUObserver, while pointing out the dangers regarding the survival of the euro, discussed a totally different scenario. The EUObserver wrote on April 21:
“A Citigroup note to clients has warned that the eurozone is likely to fall apart unless the European Union’s member states fuse both on the fiscal and political level. ‘Europe needs to stand up and decide if it is going to be a “United States of Europe” or a “patchwork quilt” of independent states,’ reads a note by Tom Fitzpatrick, chief technical analyst at Citigroup in New York.”
As the Bible prophesies that continental Europe–modern “Babylon”–will become for a while the most powerful economic bloc on earth, the common currency of the euro for entire Europe is necessary. The creation of a new additional and separate currency for ten European nations or groups of nations (which are described in Revelation 17 and Daniel 2), is just not feasible in the light of biblical prophecy. Consequently, the proposal, as discussed by the EUObserver, has some interesting and convincing merit; namely, that the present crisis pertaining to Greece and perhaps other European countries will FORCE Europe to totally unite as an economic and political (and military) power bloc.
German Bishop Mixa Tenders Resignation
On April 22, Der Spiegel reported about German media reactions to the announcement of German Bishop Walter Mixa’s resignation:
“Embattled German Bishop Walter Mixa submitted his offer to resign to the Vatican on Wednesday amid allegations that he physically abused children and misappropriated church funds… His move followed a highly publicized request from two German bishops, urging him to temporarily step down from his position until the investigations have run their course. In Thursday’s newspapers, German editorialists welcomed news of Mixa’s offer to resign, saying his role as a representative of the church had become untenable among the flurry of accusations.
“The conservative daily Die Welt writes: ‘Right now, Mixa is ill-suited to play the role of pastor and head of a large diocese. He has continued to refuse to give candid explanations, preferring to hide behind vague pleas for forgiveness for everything and nothing…’
“The center-left Berliner Zeitung writes: ‘These days, in real life, the word “Catholic” stands for physically abusive or lustful priests. People are leaving the church in droves…’
“The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes… ‘Finally. Finally, Walter Mixa, the bishop on the edge, is stepping down. He is clearly not resigning because he has realized that he cannot reasonably perform the duties of his office as long as it is unclear how violently he … struck children in his care and how deeply he dug into the coffers of the local orphanage foundation. Rather, he is stepping down because the pressure on him has become too great… That — and not his individual deeds — is the reason why Mixa is resigning. Anyone who thinks this way should not be a bishop.”
What will happen to the spirit in man of those who die the second death?
In our last Q&A (in Update #438, dated April 15, 2010), we explained that God gives every person, apparently at the time of conception, a “spirit,” which the Bible calls the “spirit in man.” This spirit is not a soul–the person is the soul–nor is it a conscious being. When the person or the soul dies, the spirit in man returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7). It is being stored in heaven until the time of that person’s resurrection.
We also explained that the spirit in man has recorded all there is about the person–including his appearance, his thoughts and his deeds. It can be compared with a video cassette or a DVD, which only comes “to life,” when placed in a VCR or a DVD player and when the play button is pushed. Following this analogy, God uses the spirit in man to resurrect or better recreate the body of the person at the time of his resurrection.
In the First Resurrection, the person, who during his lifetime had also received God’s Holy Spirit in addition to the human spirit, will be resurrected as an immortal spirit being. Those in the Second and Third Resurrections will be raised as physical beings, and it is again the “vehicle” of the spirit in man which God will use to create new physical bodies, based on what the human spirit has recorded and stored.
What, then, is going to happen to the human spirit of those who are going to be thrown in Gehenna fire to be burned up? We saw in the last Q&A that those are the ones who have committed the unpardonable sin. They will be destroyed and totally annihilated. It will be as if they had never existed. The soul that sins shall die (Ezekiel 18:4)–and unless the soul repents of its sins, it will die the second, final and eternal death.
We read in Revelation 21:4 that after the Third Resurrection, no more death will exist–that is, no physical human being will any longer exist who could die. By that time, those who qualified for the Kingdom of God (in the First and the Second Resurrections) have been changed into immortal Spirit beings, and those who disqualified themselves have been destroyed in the lake of fire.
Does this only refer to the body–the soul–of such a person who died the eternal death, or also to his human spirit? Will their human spirit go once again back to God in heaven, or will it, too, be destroyed and cease to exist?
In attempting to answer this question, we need to say from the outset that the Bible does not specifically state what will happen to the human spirit of those who will die the second and final death from which there is no resurrection. But there are some indications which we might want to look at.
As explained, God gives the human spirit to a person to bestow on him intellect and intelligence, distinguishing him from the animal world. It also records man’s appearance, personality and memories, to be used at the time of the resurrection.
Since there is no further resurrection for those who die the eternal death, and since the very being of those in the Third Resurrection is totally extinguished (with no memory of their prior existence remaining), we might ask why the human spirit would continue to exist even on an unconscious basis.
We read in Revelation 4:11 that God has created all things–visible and invisible–and that they exist and were created by His Will. Therefore, God could most certainly will to end the existence of whatever He has created, if He so chooses. The question is, will He?
We know that God will not do so in regard to angels. We read that God has created angels as immortal beings–they cannot die (compare Luke 20:36). The same is true for demons, as they are fallen angels. But this is talking about conscious beings–not something which is unconscious.
On the other hand, we have explained that Spirit beings and “spiritual things” cannot die. In that sense, “Spirit” is incorruptible. The question is whether the spirit in man would fall under the category of a “spiritual THING.”
Let us quote from our free booklet, “Angels, Demons and the Spirit World”:
“Romans 8:18-23 tells us very clearly what those invisible things will be: ‘For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption INTO the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption [sonship], the redemption of our body.’
“We saw in verse 21 that the creation will be delivered from corruption ‘into’ (‘eis’ in Greek) the glorious liberty of the children of God… The Revised Standard Version writes: ‘…the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and OBTAIN the glorious liberty of the children of God’…
“This physical creation, patterned after God’s spiritual creation, waits to be delivered from corruption to obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God. The glorious freedom, which the universe will receive, includes freedom from death. In that new universe, DEATH will be unknown, and so will decay and corruption.
“We will be changed into Spirit. Spirit endures. Spirit cannot die or decay. Spirit remains. Spirit is INCORRUPTIBLE. The universe will obtain that same freedom from decay, corruption and death. In order to obtain such freedom from death and corruption, this universe will have to be changed into SPIRIT, as we also will be changed into Spirit beings. In this way, the new heavens and the new earth will remain, for only the things that the human eye cannot see will remain…
“Every physical thing will have been destroyed in the all-encompassing fire that burns up the earth and dissolves the physical universe, as we read in 2 Peter 3:11. This will include those humans who have willfully refused to live God’s way of life…
“God will restore a condition that existed at the beginning of His creation when He first created spirit beings and spiritual things. Ultimately, all physical things, which have been patterned after things in the Spirit world, will be changed into spiritual things…”
The question is, do these “spiritual things” include the “spirit in man” (and “the spirit of animals,” see below)? If so, they could not cease to exist. In that case, the spirit of those who will be destroyed in the Third Resurrection would go again back to God, but it would have to be “empty.” It would have to be compared with a cassette or a DVD, the contents of which had been erased. Nothing that had been recorded would be left–no memory would remain of their personality, their thoughts, their ideas or actions, not even of their outward appearance. It would indeed be as if they had never existed.
But is this the way it will work?
Does the Bible tell us more about the “fate” of the spirit in man of those who die the eternal death in the Third Resurrection?
We need to realize that there are all kinds of spirits. There are Spirit BEINGS. God is a Spirit Being. And so, there is God’s Holy Spirit–emanating from both the Father and Jesus Christ. It is through the Holy Spirit of God that both the Father and the Son dwell in us (John 14:23). That Spirit, although not a person, is clearly eternal and immortal, because it emanates from GOD–and GOD is immortal and eternal. As God cannot die, so His Spirit cannot be extinguished. We read that we can quench the Holy Spirit WITHIN US (1 Thessalonians 5:19)–but that does not mean that somehow God’s Holy Spirit would cease to exist. This is just referring to the dwelling of His Holy Spirit IN US. When a person loses the Holy Spirit–that is, when God withdraws from that person by removing His Holy Spirit from such a person–then of course THAT portion of the Holy Spirit does not “die”–since it was part of GOD all along.
When we become immortal Spirit beings in the Family of God, we too–everything that we will be–will be eternal. That is, our “human” spirit will become eternal as will be our “bodies”–they will be spiritual or Spirit bodies–and we, as eternal beings, will have God’s eternal Holy Spirit abiding in us forever. We will be GOD–full-fledged members of God’s Family.
There are other spirit beings–angels and demons. And they too, possess a spirit. But again, their spirit is eternal, if you please, as THEY are immortal beings. They cannot die, and neither can their spirit, which is emanating from them, be destroyed .
Then there is the human spirit which distinguishes man from the animals (1 Corinthians 2:11). But there is also an animal spirit (compare Ecclesiastes 3:19). We explain in our free booklet, “The Theory of Evolution–a Fairy Tale for Adults,” that animals have a spirit, too, but it is NOT the same as the human spirit. Still, we read in Genesis 7:21-22 that all flesh outside Noah’s Ark died in the Flood–birds and cattle and beasts and every creeping thing, AND every man; that is, “ALL in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, all that was on dry land, died.”
But neither the spirit in man nor the animal spirit are conscious “entities,” nor are they the same as the Holy Spirit of God or the spirits of angels. And while the Bible DOES say that the spirit of man returns to God when man dies, at least in this time and age, prior to Christ’s return, the question regarding the “fate” of the animal spirit at the time of the death of the animal was purposefully left unanswered.
In order to address the question of what might happen to the human spirit of those who will die the second death, let us consider whether the Bible tells us WHEN God creates the human spirit.
Isaiah 42:5 says that God, after having created the heavens and the earth, gives breath to the people on it, and “spirit to those who walk on it.” But there is no breath in a particular person prior to his existence, and by extension, there would not be any spirit either. That is, neither the breath nor the spirit of man exist prior to the “creation” of that particular person. We also read in Zechariah 12:1 that God FORMS the spirit of man within him. Again, this seems to imply that God actually creates in man the human spirit when man comes into existence.
The connection between God’s breath and the spirit in man is also expressed in Job 32:8. The New Jerusalem Bible translates Job 32:8, “There is, you see, a spirit residing in humanity, the breath of God conferring intelligence.”
We also discussed in the last Q&A, when explaining the biblical concept of the soul, that Paul prayed that God would preserve blamelessly spirit and soul and body of a converted Christian (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Paul wished that God would preserve blameless the Christian’s human spirit, his temporary physical life and his physical flesh. All of these “components” are mentioned together, to describe the entire being. In addition, 1 Corinthians 5:5 says about a Christian who sinned gravely to “…deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”
But what if that spirit cannot be “saved”? The fact that Paul prayed to God to “preserve blameless” the body, soul AND spirit of a person shows that it is possible that body, soul AND spirit may not be preserved “blameless”–or not at all. And if they are not preserved, then they cease to exist.
Realize that the human spirit of the incorrigible sinners will still be in heaven at the time just prior to the Third Resurrection. This proves, in passing, and as will be explained more fully below, that there must be a Third Resurrection; otherwise, their spirit would remain in heaven, while those incorrigible sinners would stay buried in their graves. Some, who believe in the First and the Second Resurrections, have wondered why there should be an additional Third Resurrection and asked whether God could not just leave those who committed the unpardonable sin dead and buried in their graves.
However, Christ said in John 5:28-29 that ALL who are in their graves will come forward when they hear the voice of the Son of Man, and we read in Daniel 12:2 that some who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake to shame and everlasting contempt. We also read in 1 Corinthians 15:22 that all who died in Adam will be made alive in (or by) Jesus Christ.
In addition, there must be a final Third Resurrection to everlasting condemnation, when the spirit in man is placed back in the (newly created) physical body of the person here on earth, as otherwise, the spirit in man would remain in heaven, and with it the recording of the personalities and thoughts and memories.
A strong hint at the final fate of the spirit in man of those who are going to be destroyed in the Third Resurrection can be found in Isaiah 57:16. The New King James Bible translates: “For I will not contend forever, Nor will I always be angry; for the spirit would fail before Me, and the souls which I have made.”
The commentary of Jamieson, Fausset and Brown explains correctly that the “spirit” in the passage refers to the spirit in man–not the Holy Spirit of God. This should be evident as the Holy Spirit would never “fail”–whatever may be meant with that phrase. In referring to a passage of Numbers 16:22, where God is referred to as “the God of the spirits of all flesh,” the commentary states that the word “spirit” in Isaiah 57:16 refers to “the human spirit which went forth from Me (Numbers 16:22).”
Isaiah 57:16 implies, then, that the spirit in man could fail. But what is meant with the word, “fail”? Could it mean, “cease to exist”? If so, this would show that “spiritual things” do not include the spirit in man or in animals.
The Hebrew word is “ataph” and has a variety of meanings. According to Young’s Analytical Concordance to the Bible, it conveys the thought of “to be feeble” or “to be covered.” The Authorized Version translates this word at times also as, “to be overwhelmed,” or “to hide self.”
Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible states that the word actually means, “to shroud, i.e. to clothe… hence (from the idea of darkness) to languish–cover (over), fail, faint, feebler, hide self, be overwhelmed, swoon…”
It is obvious that very few of these meanings would make any sense in the context of the statement in Isaiah 57:16. After all, it is both the soul AND the spirit that could “fail” or “faint.” We know that the (incorrigible, corruptible) soul, when God contends forever, will die the eternal death and will be extinguished. But what about the spirit?
German translations point out that the word “ataph” can also mean “cease to exist, get destroyed, become annihilated.” For example, the German Luther Bible; the Elberfelder Bible; the Menge Bible; the Schlachter Bible and the Pattloch Bible all use the expression, “verschmachten,” which is a word describing the death of a person in the desert, who is dying of thirst.
Some English-speaking translations agree. The Amplified Bible renders Isaiah 57:16 as follows (brackets in the original):
“… for [where it not so] the spirit [of man] would faint and be consumed before Me, and [My purpose in] creating the souls of men would be frustrated.”
Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible comments regarding Isaiah 57:16:
“The simple meaning seems to be, that if God should continue in anger against people they would be consumed. The human soul could not endure a long-continued controversy with God. Its powers would fail; its strength decay; it must sink to destruction.”
If the concept of “dying” is conveyed in this passage in Isaiah 57:16, then it would indicate that not only the soul, but also the spirit in man CAN be extinguished and cease to exist; and if so, that would have to be the obvious “fate” of the human spirit of those in the Third Resurrection.
Lead Writer: Norbert Link
Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock
A new member letter was sent out this week and posted on the Web. In the letter, Rene Messier reminds us of the lessons from the Passover season and looks forward to the Day of Pentecost.
Our new booklet “The Authority of the Bible” has reached the second review cycle.
In addition to our advertisement campaign in the USA, offering our free booklet, “Do We Have an Immortal Soul?”, we have also begun running ads in Canada and Great Britain, offering our free booklet, “And Lawlessness Will Abound.”
A new German SW program was posted on the Internet and on our website, www.aufpostenstehen.de. It is titled “Turiner Grabtuch–Fälschung oder Wahrheit?” [“The Shroud of Turin–Forgery or Authentic?”].
A new German sermon was posted on the Web. It is the fourth (and last) part of the series on Sickness and Healing, and is titled, “Krankheit und Heilung, Teil 4” [“Sickness and Healing, Part 4”].
A Physical Reminder
by Connie Grade
In the physical preparation for the keeping of the recent Feast Days of Unleavened Bread, my husband and I tried diligently to physically remove any leaven we could find in our living quarters. We vacuumed our cars and our home, including the chairs, the couch and closets, removing any leavening agents we found. We made sure we had gone through all the kitchen cabinets, thoroughly cleaning the stove, the freezer and the refrigerator. As we cleaned, we attempted to read labels on containers that might contain leavening agents and throw away the items.
We felt pretty sure we had found and removed all leaven from our dwelling, and that we had emptied the vacuum sweeper bag.
On the day before the last Day of Unleavened Bread, we were cleaning up after having had breakfast. One of the brethren had stayed over with us and was helping with the clean-up. I had gone into another part of the house, and when I returned a few minutes later, my husband and our guest were standing in the kitchen, having just put everything away. I noticed that they had a strange look on their faces, and then I saw something sitting on the kitchen counter. To my horror there sat a jar of baking yeast!
I immediately asked, “Where did that come from?” They pointed to the refrigerator. I could not believe it! Apparently, when cleaning the refrigerator, I had removed everything from it in order to wipe it out and then sorted through everything making sure (or so I thought) that nothing with leaven was placed in it. Well, guess what? I put the jar of yeast back into the refrigerator as this is where I normally keep the yeast.
What a tremendous lesson for me to learn from this! It reminded me in my analysis that perhaps some sins can become such a part of my life that I don’t readily recognize them or that somehow I am able to just gloss over them because I have allowed myself to become “comfortable” with them. It was not only embarrassing for “someone else” to find my “physical” sin but to also realize how easily I could overlook the absolute obvious.
I had become comfortable with looking at that jar of yeast over the past few months and didn’t even recognize it when time came to put it out of our home. It just shows I am unable to become sinless without the help of our Great God. I was reminded that I have to ask Him to “show” me what needs to be removed from my life every day and to reveal to me what I cannot see.
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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