Update 473


Common Misconceptions

On January 1, 2011, Michael Link will give the sermon, titled, “Common Misconceptions.”

The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org (12:30 pm Pacific Time; 1:30 pm Mountain Time; 2:30 pm Central Time; 3:30 pm Eastern Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

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Associations and Affiliations


John the Baptist had some scathing words for the Pharisees and Sadducees as they approached him while he was baptizing people in the Jordan. Among other things, he chastised them for their misplaced reliance on their affiliation to Abraham (Matthew 3:9). These groups had come to put too much weight on this and had neglected the more important matters.

Paul admonished the Corinthians for nearly the same thing — their gloating about their associations. They were saying, ‘”I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,…”‘ (1 Corinthians 1:12) and ignoring the real issue at hand.

When aligning ourselves with a person, a minister, an organization or even with a church, we can often feel safe because of numbers, past reputation or espoused doctrine. We can believe that by virtue of our alliance with them, we are justified in our current state and position.

But note the admonitions by John and Paul regarding those that were resting on the laurels of others: John the Baptist told the Jews that they needed to repent (Matthew 3:8); Paul goes on to direct those at Corinth, “that, as it is written, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the LORD’” (1 Corinthians 1:31). In other words, we cannot become complacent with our current condition, and we must continue to change it by looking to the Example who is “the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2).

There have been many, even in our recent history, that have failed to remain on guard, thinking they were in the right place or that they could ride the coattails of another. “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:12-13).

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We begin with a remarkable article in the British paper, Mail On Line, about Hitler’s Christmas observance, identifying it accurately as the pagan celebration of the “winter solstice,” and we conclude with a funny, but telling cartoon on the origins of Christmas, which was circulated on the Internet this week, as well as an eye-opening article on New Year’s celebrations.

An interesting article warns against the consumption of pork, and several reports deal with the West’s gradual unconditional acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle. While a popular evangelist chastises the U.S. army, even liberals begin to wonder why President Obama refuses to publish his birth certificate.

In the light of our unprecedented weather conditions, we publish an article which wonders whether we are observing global warming or the beginning of a mini ice age.

We also learn that 2010 was the worst year for US Bank failures since 1992.

Focusing on the violent history and present developments in Asia, we also report on the current scandalous conduct of totalitarian Russia and the timid, meaningless and inconsequential objections from the West.

While peace in the Middle East is becoming more and more elusive, an insightful article in Deutsche Welle shows how post-war Germany is being drawn into militaristic activities, and that even against the present will of the majority of the people.

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Hitler Correctly Identified Origins of Christmas

Mail On Line reported on December 24:

“… the Nazi Christmas [as celebrated by Hitler and other Nazi officials on December 18, 1941] was far from traditional. Hitler believed religion had no place in his 1,000-year Reich, so he replaced the Christian figure of Saint Nicholas with the Norse god Odin and urged Germans to celebrate the season as a holiday of the ‘winter solstice’, rather than Christmas… at the top of the tree… was a swastika instead of an angel, and many of the baubles carried runic symbols and iron cross motifs…

“In 1944-1945, the Nazis tried to reinvent Christmas once again as a day to commemorate the dead, in particular fallen soldiers – by that time Germany had lost almost four million men in the war. But while many Germans baked biscuits and cakes in the shape of swastikas and adorned their trees with the symbols of the Nazi regime, most still called the festival Christmas.”

It may perhaps be surprising to some, but Hitler did not replace the “Christian figure of Saint Nicholas with the Norse god Odin.” Rather, he quite accurately identified Saint Nicholas as the pagan god Odin; and he went back to the real foundations of Christmas, which originated in the heathen “winter solstice.” For more information on the incredible transition from a pagan festival to a presumably “Christian” holiday, please read our free and eye-opening booklet, “Don’t Keep Christmas.”

Why Not to Eat Pork

The Huffington Post wrote on December 24:

“Last week the Humane Society of the United States released a grisly report and undercover video on the disgusting treatment of pregnant sows at one of its industrial swine facilities in Virginia. And this week, Russia announced it will not buy pork products from the company’s Smithfield, VA plant, because they are tainted with ‘residue and pathogen issues’…

“Smithfield produced 27% of all US pork products in 2007… The animal you are eating could well have been born in a windowless piglet factory, where his mother was held prisoner in a tiny metal crate during pregnancy, then grief stricken as her still-nursing young were yanked away, before she was artificially impregnated once again.

“Your young pig was then transferred to a nursery facility — another sealed off building crammed with thousands of animals — before ending up at a ‘finishing operation,’ where he was raised on concrete slats over pits filled with ammonia emitting excrement, and supplied a steady diet of drugs, heavy metals and other unnatural feed additives that accelerate growth and stave off disease long enough to get him to market weight…

“I eat very little pork. Pigs are smart and… Aztec nobles once informed their nauseated Spanish captors that pork tastes just like people. They couldn’t get enough of the stuff.”

The Bible prohibits the consumption of pork, calling such consumption an “abomination.” Those who laugh at God’s law–“Christians” and non-Christians alike–are warned that they will have to give account to God for their gross disobedience in this regard. The time of reckoning IS coming. For more information, please read our free booklet, “And Lawlessness Will Abound.”

National Support for “Gay Marriages” Inevitable

The MacClatchy Newspaper wrote on December 24:

“Attitudes toward same-sex marriage are ‘evolving,’ and a national consensus for gay marriage is inevitable, Vice President Joe Biden said… Biden cited the administration’s successful push to repeal the military’s 17-year-old ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ policy toward gays as a sign of the change in public attitudes. He saw the trend as leading to support of same-sex marriage…

“58 percent of Marines and 48 percent of Army respondents [were] saying that ending the ban would have negative consequences. And a sizable minority said repeal could affect morale and training and whether they would stay in the military. Marines voiced the loudest opposition…

“… a Pew Research Center poll of the American public [in December] found 59 percent of the public favored allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly… A Pew survey released in October… found that 48 percent opposed allowing gays and lesbians to legally marry, while 42 percent were in favor. Still, a Pew analysis noted, ‘for the first time in 15 years, fewer than half oppose same-sex marriage… Notably, pluralities of white mainline Protestants and white Catholics now favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally…’”

Vice President Biden, a practicing Catholic, has found himself in disfavor with the Catholic hierarchy over his stance on abortion, so that communion was refused to him. His latest stance on same-sex marriages, which is apparently supported by many white Catholics, will certainly create further controversies with the Church of Rome.

The Next Trend?

The Daily Mail reported on December 28:

“Elton John and his civil partner David Furnish have announced they are proud parents to a healthy baby boy… He was born via a surrogate mother in California on Christmas Day… Sir Elton, 62, married Furnish, 48, in 2005 after 12 years together…

“They first attempted to adopt an HIV positive child from the Ukraine last year, but were rejected because of Sir Elton’s age and the fact that the country did not recognise civil marriages…”

Evangelist Graham Chastises U.S. Military

Newsmax wrote on December 24:

“Franklin Graham… the noted evangelist and son of world-renowned preacher Billy Graham…strongly chastised the U.S. military, which has restricted Christian displays of faith.

“‘Chaplains in the United States military are not allowed to pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Isn’t that a shame that a chaplain in the Christian faith is not allowed to pray in the name of Christ? So yes, there is a war, no question about it.’

“Franklin Graham himself has felt the sting of the hostility, when Pentagon officials excluded him from participation in this year’s National Day of Prayer event, citing his controversial comments about the dangers of radical Islam.”

Even Liberals Want to See President Obama’s Birth Certificate

Real Clear Politics reported on December 27 about some surprising statements by liberal MSNBC television host, Chris Matthews:

“On Monday night’s edition of ‘Hardball,’ host Chris Matthews talked about putting the birth certificate controversy surrounding President Obama to rest. ‘Why has the president himself not demanded they put out the original documents?’ Matthews wonders. ‘If it exists, why not put it out?’ Chris Matthews asks.”

Newsmax added on December 29:

“Even MSNBC’s pro-Obama host Chris Matthews has joined the crowd calling on the president to release his long-form birth certificate to settle the controversy surrounding his birthplace once and for all…  Matthews has been critical of the so-called ‘birthers’ who insist that Obama was not born in the United States and therefore is ineligible to be president…

“The majority of Americans discount that conspiracy theory… Still, many find it interesting that Obama has continued to refuse to release his long-form birth certificate, and Obama joins just a handful of presidents who have no declared place of birth as a significant national landmark…

“’I am not a birther,’ Matthews declared. ‘I am an enemy of the birthers.’ But he held up the long-form birth certificate of someone who was born the day before Obama, and compared it with the shorter version Obama has released… ‘Why has the president himself not demanded that they put out the official document?’ Matthews said… ‘ Why doesn’t the president just say, send me a copy right now?… The department out there just said the… original document of his birth is available. They have it in storage, they said. And if it exists, why not put it out? Will there be any harm done by releasing the original document?’”

Monster Storm in the USA

USA Today reported on December 27:

“The effects of a blizzard that pummeled the Northeast continued to wreak havoc Monday on the plans of thousands of holiday travelers, many of whom may not reach their final destination for days… Snow continued to snarl traffic, flights were delayed, trains sold out, cars got stuck by the side of the road, and air passengers tried frantically to book a spare seat…

“There were roughly 3,000 flights canceled Sunday and another 3,000 were likely to be canceled Monday… New York’s LaGuardia and JFK airports closed Sunday in the midst of the storm, began to slowly reopen Monday. So did Philadelphia’s airport. Newark wasn’t scheduled to open for arrivals until 6 a.m. Tuesday…

“In New Jersey, hundreds of people were stranded Sunday night on hilly highways that became clogged with disabled vehicles, says the state’s Commissioner of Transportation Jim Simpson… ‘We had people driving in their pajamas, people out shopping after-Christmas sales, or people out for fun … to see the snow,’ he says. ‘No one was prepared.’”

The Associated Press reported on December 26:

“The monster storm is the result of a low pressure system off the North Carolina coast… The white Christmas in the South was one for the record books. Columbia, S.C., had its first significant Christmas snow since weather records were first kept in 1887. Atlanta had just over an inch of snow—the first measurable accumulation on Christmas Day since the 1880s…”

In addition, The Daily Star wrote on December 30 that Britain’s winter might end up to be the coldest winter since 1683 and close to being the chilliest in nearly 1,000 years.

Global Warming or Mini Ice Age?

Investors.com wrote on December 22:

“Nothing makes fools of more people than trying to predict the weather. Whether in Los Angeles or London, recent predictions have gone crazily awry. Global warming? How about mini ice age?

“The sight of confused and angry travelers stuck in airports across Europe because of an arctic freeze that has settled across the continent isn’t funny. Sadly, they’ve been told for more than a decade now that such a thing was an impossibility — that global warming was inevitable, and couldn’t be reversed.

“This is a big problem for those who see human-caused global warming as an irreversible result of the Industrial Revolution’s reliance on carbon-based fuels. Based on global warming theory — and according to official weather forecasts made earlier in the year — this winter should be warm and dry. It’s anything but. Ice and snow cover vast parts of both Europe and North America, in one of the coldest Decembers in history…

“Prognosticators who wrote the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, global warming report in 2007 predicted an inevitable, century-long rise in global temperatures of two degrees or more. Only higher temperatures were foreseen. Moderate or even lower temperatures, as we’re experiencing now, weren’t even listed as a possibility. Since at least 1998, however, no significant warming trend has been noticeable…

“Unfortunately, the prophets of climate doom violate this idea. No matter what happens, it always confirms their basic premise that the world is getting hotter. The weather turns cold and wet? It’s global warming, they say. Weather turns hot? Global warming. No change? Global warming. More hurricanes? Global warming. No hurricanes? You guessed it.

“Nothing can disprove their thesis. Not even the extraordinarily frigid weather now creating havoc across most of the Northern Hemisphere…”

What can be said for sure is that our weather conditions have become unusually extreme. Since God is in control of the weather, this should perhaps tell us something.

2010 Worst Year for US Bank Failures Since 1992

The Washington Post wrote on December 28:

“More banks failed in the United States this year than in any year since 1992, during the savings-and-loan crisis… Amid high unemployment, a struggling economy and a still-devastated real estate market, the nation is closing out the year with 157 bank failures, up from 140 in 2009. As recently as 2006, before the bubble burst, there were none. Now, there are more on the horizon. The FDIC’s list of ‘problem’ banks – those whose weaknesses ‘threaten their continued financial viability’- stood at 860 as of Sept. 30, the highest since 1993. Historically, about a fifth of banks on the watch list end up failing…

“About half of the 2010 failures involved banks headquartered in four states: California, Florida, Georgia and Illinois. As of Sept. 30, the FDIC insurance fund for bank deposits had a balance of negative $8 billion. But that doesn’t include reserves such as premiums collected in advance from the banking industry. Also, as of the third quarter, the agency was predicting that bank failures would cost $52 billion through 2014…”

Asia—the Historic Battlefield

The International News reported on December 25:

“Since after the World War II, Asia’s geopolitical landscape has gone through a sea change in terms of its emerging political, economic and strategic problems and priorities. In the post-World War II era, the real Cold War was enacted on Asian soils which witnessed some of the most violent eruptions of the East-West struggle, and even some of the longest wars of the last century. These include the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the conflicts in Laos and Cambodia, the Arab-Israeli wars, the three India-Pakistan wars, the Iran-Iraq War, the Afghan War, the Gulf War, the Iraq War, and now the ongoing US war in Afghanistan…

“Asia is a vast region, home to nearly two-thirds of the world’s population, covering almost one-third of the earth’s landmass and comprising… the poverty-stricken and tension-ridden South Asia, the resource-rich yet politically unstable Central Asia, the economically pulsating East Asia, the volatile Middle East and the oil-rich Persian Gulf…

“Asia’s major regions continue to be a global hotspot. The long-standing Asian issues include the Palestine question, the Kashmir issue, the tensions on the Korean Peninsula and across the Strait of Taiwan and the triangular relations among Japan, the US and China, or in an expanded regional context, pentagonal relations among these three powers plus Russia and India.

“The ramifications of endless tensions and instability in some parts of Asia for global peace and security are immense. Some of the sources of current tensions and conflicts in Asia include America’s yet-to-end wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, its growing military and nuclear cooperation with India, the Iranian nuclear crisis, North Korea’s worrisome nuclear and ICBM capability, the deadlocked six-party talks on this issue, and other unresolved territorial disputes in the region, including those between Japan and Russia, China and South Korea.

“The new unipolarity has created serious imbalance of global power… What aggravates this scenario is the growing inability of the international community to respond to these challenges with unity of purpose. Iraq is still simmering. Afghanistan has yet to have peace. Kashmir is disillusioned. Palestine has given up. Germany has been reunited but the Korean Peninsula remains artificially divided…

“This year, China has had high-level visits and exchanges with almost all Asian countries including India and Pakistan. Next year, Pakistan and China will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations…

“For Asia, the real challenge in the 21st century is to capitalise on its own resources and assert its role as a balancing factor in the unipolar world by carving out a new niche for itself in the global geopolitical matrix. It has the power and the clout to do so as one of the largest geographical groups at the UN where it must now decisively stake a claim for an additional Asian permanent seat in the Security Council for a criteria-based rotation among the important Asian states.

“India must cede its regional hegemonic ambitions to a larger regional cause. Asian states must rise above sub-regional mode and concentrate on a common Asian cause by concerting their policies on issues of global relevance while also addressing Asia’s interstate and intraregional issues in an appropriate manner.”

The Bible shows that most Asian nations will unite under Chinese and Russian leadership. And while this unification will perhaps at first appear to be peaceful and in fragile harmony with Europe (as the next articles might suggest), it will ultimately lead to a terrible war between an Asian confederacy and united Europe. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Is That in the Bible? The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation.”

China to Europe’s Rescue…?

Reuters reported on December 23:

“China is willing to help countries in the euro zone return to economic health and will support the International Monetary Fund element of a bailout package for the bloc, … Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu [said. She] also told a regular news conference in Beijing that the euro zone was one of the most important areas for China’s foreign exchange investments, following reports that Beijing could step in to shore up European finances…
“The Financial Times reported on Wednesday that China had offered to take more ‘concerted action’ to support European financial stabilization.”

… Or Not?…

The Telegraph wrote on December 29:

“’In the coming five years, our military will push forward preparations for military conflict in every strategic direction,’ said [Chinese defense minister] Liang Guanglie… ‘We may be living in peaceful times, but we can never forget war, never send the horses south or put the bayonets and guns away,’ Mr Liang added.”

Western World “Condemns” Russia

Deutsche Welle reported on December 27:

“Germany and other Western countries have condemned the guilty verdict pronounced by a Russian court against jailed tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky on new fraud charges. In a statement, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle called the verdict ‘a step backward’ for Russia. Westerwelle said that the way the trial was conducted was ‘very dubious’ and called on Russia to ‘stand up for the rule of law, democracy and human rights.’

“German Human Rights Commissioner Markus Loening found even stronger words to condemn the verdict, telling the dpa news agency that he was ‘outraged.’ ‘The judgment throws no good light on circumstances in Russia,’ he said…

“Chief European Union diplomat Catherine Ashton called on Russia ‘to respect its international commitments in the field of human rights and the rule of law.’ She said the EU would ‘continue to follow developments very closely, including the forthcoming announcement of the sentence.’

“Across the Atlantic, United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the verdict raised ‘serious questions about selective prosecution – and about the rule of law being overshadowed by political considerations.’ Clinton also warned in a statement that ‘this and similar cases have a negative impact on Russia’s reputation for fulfilling its international human rights obligations and improving its investment climate’…

“Khodorkovsky is currently serving an eight-year prison sentence for tax evasion. His release was scheduled for 2011. Sentencing in the current case is expected in the next few days. The prosecution is seeking a six-year jail term…’

“Khodorkovsky and his lawyers say the [embezzlement] charges against him are politically motivated. The tycoon has been an outspoken opponent of former president and current prime minister Vladimir Putin, openly funding opposition parties ahead of 2003 parliamentary elections. Khodorkovsky’s original trial in 2003 was widely seen as having been orchestrated by Putin. If Khodorkovsky remains in jail through 2012, it will prevent him from wielding his influence ahead of the election scheduled in that year.

“The current case has been seen as a test of the independence of the Russian justice system. But Monday’s conviction sheds grave doubts on President Dmitry Medvedev’s vows to modernize Russia and take it out of Putin’s shadow.”

The International News gave the following additional shocking details in its report, dated December 27:

“Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the former head of Russia’s largest oil company and once its richest man, has been found guilty of embezzlement. His supporters say his real crime was daring to oppose the country’s prime minister, Vladimir Putin.

“Former oil tycoon and billionaire Mihkail Khodorkovsky, nearing the end of a first sentence of hard labour at a Siberian prison camp, was again judged guilty Monday by a judge deliberating on new charges of theft and money laundering at a second trial… The entire case has been called by many a personal vendetta by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Russia’s most powerful politician, against a once-potential rival… For many observers, the verdict of the trial was a foregone conclusion – and one that calls into question the credibility of Russia’s legal system.”

Many observers also feel that Russia is ruled by a repressive and totalitarian regime, and that the conviction of Khodorkovsky, at the instigation and manipulation of Vladimir Putin, formerly a spy in East Germany who worked for the despicable STASI, was political and unjust. Is the West interested in the rule of law and personal liberty and freedom in Russia and Asia? Will it be intimidated by Russia’s objections (see next article)?  Or does the West’s real interest lie in lucrative economic deals with rich Asian countries? If so, lip services of condemnation (note the pitiful and meaningless statement by Catherine Ashton, as quoted above), will not convince anyone.

Totalitarian Russia Reacts and Accuses…

Predictably, Russia complained about the complaints from the West. The New York Times wrote on December 28:

“…  the Russian Foreign Ministry released a statement accusing other countries of trying to interfere with a domestic judicial matter… Mr. Khodorkovsky is the country’s best-known prisoner, and his treatment has been cited by the Kremlin’s opponents as evidence that justice here is readily manipulated by those in power. Supporters of Mr. Khodorkovsky contend officials pressed new charges against him to make sure that he would stay in prison at least through presidential elections in 2012…

“As the session began, [Khodorkovsky and another defendant] were hustled into the courtroom by a squad of black-clad commandos. The judge entered with a stack of what appeared to be several hundred typewritten pages… Outside, a few hundred people gathered in an impromptu protest… But the protest soon ended with the sounds of sirens, screams and cursing, as the riot police dragged people into police vans… Mr. Khodorkovsky’s lawyers called the new charges absurd and politically motivated. Even some government officials said they had a hard time understanding exactly what Mr. Khodorkovsky had done wrong.”

All of this brings to mind the abominable history of Stalin’s murderous conduct, and the criminal methods of Hitler’s Gestapo during Nazi Germany…

… And Does Not Care About Meaningless Criticism!

The BBC News reported on December 30:

“Imprisoned former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, once Russia’s richest man, has been sentenced to six more years in jail for fraud [the maximum penalty for such “accusations”]. With his current sentence due to expire next year, Khodorkovsky, 47, now faces imprisonment until 2017. He could ‘only be reformed by being isolated from society’, the judge said…

“After the sentencing, US state department spokesman Mark Toner said Washington was concerned by the apparent ‘abusive use of the legal system for improper ends…’ German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was ‘disappointed’ by the sentence. ‘The impression remains that political motives played a role in the trial,’ she said in a statement… As sentence was passed, Khodorkovsky’s mother shouted at the judge: ‘May you and your offspring be damned!’… Defence lawyer Yury Shmidt told reporters that the sentence amounted to ‘lawlessness’.”

Lawlessness is not only symptomatic for Russia, but it is, sadly, a worldwide phenomenon. For more information, please read our free booklet, “And Lawlessness Will Abound.”

In addition, an interesting comment was posted in The Local, dated December 30:

“Viktor and Marina Kalashnikov, now thought to be poisoned by mercury here in Berlin, Alexander Litvinenko murdered by radioactive poisoning in London, and Mikhail Khodorkovsky is jailed for another 6 years, all have become victims of Mr. Putin.  All have one thing in common, they were critical of the Kremlin. I can understand why Germany might have some reservations about the Russian government.”

But here is the clincher. As The Local states in its main article, “Russia and Germany have a lucrative trade relationship. Russian exports to Germany reached €25 billion ($33 billion) in 2009 while Germany exported nearly €21 billion in goods and services to Russia.”

No Peace in the Middle East

The Associated Press reported on December 26:

“Israel’s foreign minister [Avigdor Lieberman] said Sunday a peace deal with the Palestinians is impossible under current conditions… After days of accelerated Palestinian rocket attacks on southern Israel and Israeli airstrikes in response, Israeli soldiers killed two Palestinians on the border early Sunday… ‘It’s not only that it is impossible’ to reach an overall agreement, [Lieberman] said. ‘It is simply forbidden.’

“Lieberman said the West Bank Palestinian Authority — with whom Israel has pledged to negotiate — is ‘not legitimate’ because it has postponed elections. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas remains in office though his term expired almost a year ago, and there is no date for a new election… A statement from [President] Netanyahu’s office said Lieberman’s comments reflect ‘his personal positions,’ not those of the government.

“Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority broke down in September after an Israeli freeze on settlement construction expired. The Palestinians say they will not negotiate as long as Israel builds homes for Jews in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, lands the Palestinians claim for a future state…

“Israeli Cabinet Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer warned Sunday that if peace talks fail, ‘the whole world’ is likely to recognize a sovereign Palestinian state–a development Israel would not welcome. ‘Within a year, we will find ourselves in a situation where the whole world — and I wouldn’t be surprised if even the United States — would support a Palestinian state,’ he said.”

The Bible shows that the whole world WILL turn against the state of Israel. For  more information as to what is predicted to happen soon, please read our free booklet, “The Book of Zechariah—Prophecies for Today!”

Germany’s Move from Peace to War

Deutsche Welle reported on December 28:

“In memory of the atrocities committed under the Third Reich, democratic West Germany foreswore war as an instrument of its foreign policy. Its military served a single purpose: To help defend the NATO allies in Western Europe and North America from a Soviet attack. But when the Berlin Wall fell, the world changed, as did Germany’s role within it. The government of Chancellor Helmut Kohl had just finalized German reunification when a series of conflicts erupted in the Persian Gulf, Yugoslavia and Somalia.

“As the international community intervened to contain these conflicts, Germans faced a historically uncomfortable question: Should a reunited and fully sovereign Germany become a military power capable of using force on the world stage?… As the US and its coalition partners launched air strikes to eject the Iraqi military from Kuwait in January 1991, the streets of Germany’s major cities filled with 250,000 protestors who opposed the US-led war against Saddam Hussein. The protests expressed a deep-seated national aversion to war and militarism. After living at the epicenter of international conflict for an entire century, German society had lost its taste for political violence…

“But the Germans’ rejection of the American-led coalition, and a UN-sanctioned military campaign that targeted an aggressive dictator, left Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s government in a deeply uncomfortable position… Instead of sending troops to the Persian Gulf, Bonn wrote the coalition partners a check for 17 billion marks ($12 billion, or 8 billion euros) and supplied logistical support…

“The Kohl government had been politically and legally boxed into a corner. On top of vehement public opposition, the government faced a constitution that sanctioned war only in self-defense. And since Saddam Hussein had neither attacked Germany nor the NATO allies, direct German military participation in the conflict was off-limits.

“In an effort to reconcile Germany’s laws with its international obligations, the center-right Christian Democratic Union called for the “clarification” of two conflicting constitutional articles. Article 87 gave Germany the right to field an army for national defense. But Article 24 also permitted Germany to join collective security organizations to preserve world peace. Many conservatives argued that Article 24 sanctioned German participation in multilateral military operations – with or without a UN mandate – that were not directly related to territorial defense…

“But world events overshadowed the partisan debate in Germany. The dust had hardly settled in the Persian Gulf when devastating civil wars broke out in Yugoslavia and Somalia. In an attempt to contain violence in Southeastern Europe, NATO and the West European Union – a European defense organization – imposed a sea and air blockade on Yugoslavia. NATO deployed AWACS radar planes to patrol the skies of the Balkan war zone. With Germans serving in the multinational crews that manned these aircraft, participation in the blockade was a foregone conclusion…

“While NATO tried to stem the tide of violence in Yugoslavia, the UN sanctioned a US-led peacekeeping mission to stabilize Somalia… With the political parties still in gridlock over the constitutional question, the Kohl government decided to act without parliamentary approval. Kohl deployed ships and aircraft to Yugoslavia and more than 1,000 soldiers to Somalia…  the Federal Constitutional Court ruled that Germany could participate in UN, NATO and WEU military operations worldwide. But there was an important caveat: These operations had to be approved by a simple parliamentary majority.” 

This article showed how a nation can be drawn into war—sometimes even against the will of the majority of the people. The Bible prophesies that Germany will become the leading nation of a European military alliance, and that that confederation will engage in a worldwide war in the not-too-distant future. For more information, please read our free booklets, “Europe in Prophecy” and “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.”

“Franco-German Exhibition Highlights Napoleon’s Ambiguous Glory”

Deutsche Welle reported on December 29:

“A world of opinions exists about Napoleon and his time, and that has always been the case. In 1806, Hegel described him as an iconic ‘world-soul,’ and even his enemies could not quite shake off the fascination for the emperor who at first seemed to be invincible. But poets and artists of his time also portrayed Napoleon as a heartless warmonger, a ridiculous caricature, and even as Satan’s eldest son.

“In ‘Napoleon and Europe, Dream and Trauma’ the Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany takes on Napoleon in the context of his time… The historic exhibition was done in cooperation with the Musee de l’Armee in Paris, where it will be shown in the spring of 2012… ‘Up to now in France, it’s been quite impossible to have a reasonable point of view about Napoleon,’ Robert Bresse, director of the Musee de l’Armee, told Deutsche Welle…

“His ambitious plans to unify Europe under his command resulted in strategic triumphs, such as the Battle of the Three Emperors in 1805. But they also led to his disastrous defeat and eventual downfall after the Battle of Waterloo in 1815… Other exhibitions have dealt thoroughly with the millions of victims who were killed in the Napoleonic wars…

“Napoleon’s influence remains a part of Europe up to the present day. The exhibit shows how he implemented new standards like the metric system, connected European cities through a system of roads and telegraph lines, and, of course, introduced the Napoleonic Code, the civil rights opus still applied in France. But Napoleon’s impact on the face of Europe was dark as well… [and was] as controversial as Napoleon himself.”

Under Napoleon, who was apparently of Italian (not French) descent, the eighth revival of the ancient Roman Empire occurred. The ninth revival happened under Mussolini and Hitler, and we are observing right now in Europe the beginning of the final and last revival of ancient Rome. For more information, please watch or listen to Norbert Link’s recent sermon, “Rome’s Revivals”.

The True Origin of Christmas

The following was circulated this week on the Internet:

Pagan Christmas


Origin of New Year’s Celebrations

The Local wrote on December 30:

“Silvester is the German name for New Year’s Eve – owing to the fourth century Pope Sylvester I. Eventually made a saint by the Catholic Church, his feast day is observed on December 31… But despite the holiday’s Christian name, many German New Year’s traditions can be traced back to the pagan Rauhnächte practices of heathen Germanic tribes, which took place at the end of December and beginning of January.

“Instead of recognizing a single day as the winter solstice, the Germanic tribes observed twelve Rauhnächte – hairy nights, so called due to the furry forms of the deep winter demons – or Rauchnächte – smoky nights, due to the practice of smoking the spirits out of one’s house on January 5. Bringing very little sun to the northern regions, the twelve Rauhnächte were considered days outside of time, when the solar and lunar years were allowed to re-synchronise. Silvester took place right in the middle of the twelve Rauhnächte and was the night of the god Wotan’s wild hunt, a time of particular commotion and celebration.

“As in many other countries, the Germans celebrate Silvester with fireworks, champagne, and boisterous social gatherings. Making noise is key: the ruckus of fireworks, firecrackers, drums, whip-cracking and banging kitchen utensils has been driving away evil winter spirits since the days of the Germanic Teutons…

“Besides being a fun spectacle, the light of pyrotechnic displays also provides a surrogate sun during the dark Silvester night. Suffering the winter bleakness in their northern regions more than anyone, the Teutons feared that the sun, which they thought of as a wheel that rolled around the earth, was slowing to a stop during the darkest days of winter. Perhaps as a sign of protest, they lit wooden wheels on fire and sent them rolling down mountains and clubbed trees with flaming cudgels. These practices are likely forerunners to the Silvester firework tradition.

“The belief that the sun was slowing to a stop also led to the German tradition of doing no work on New Year’s Eve: everything should stand just as still on earth. Above all no one should do any laundry, because the god Wotan made his rounds with his army of devils for a wild hunt during Silvester and would be terribly angry if he got caught in any clotheslines.

“Because the twelve Rauhnächte – now associated with the twelve days of Christmas…  – were days outside of time, all manner of supernatural events were possible. Spirits of all sorts charged through the night, either embodying the horror of winter or chasing it away…

“The Rauhnächte were also a time when the future for the New Year could be divined. Silvester in Germany still calls for oracle traditions, which often take the form of party games. Bleigießen (lead pouring) is the most popular Silvester fortune-telling tradition. Party-goers melt small lead forms with a candle in an old spoon and pour them into cold water. The lead hardens into a shape that supposedly bears a certain meaning for the New Year. An eagle, for example, indicates career success, while a flower foretells that new friendships will develop.

“Other oracle traditions on Silvester include swinging a pendulous object, such as a necklace or watch, and asking it a yes-or-no question. If the pendulum swings in a circle, the answer is ‘yes,’ if it swings vertically, the answer is ‘no,’ and if it swings horizontally, the answer is uncertain. Bibelstechen involves opening the Bible to a random page, closing one’s eyes and pointing to a random verse. The verse should provide some information or advice for the coming year.”

For more information on the pagan origins of Christmas and New Year’s, please read our free booklet, “Is That in the Bible? Man’s Holidays and God’s Holy Days.”

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Why do you teach that God consists of two Persons when the Bible says in Deuteronomy 6:4 that there is only one God?

First, we need to understand from the context what is meant with “one.” Christ said that the Father and He are ONE (John 10:30). Christ was not saying that the Father and He were one being. Rather, He addressed the concept of complete unity between the Father and Him. There was and always will be total harmony between the two members of the God Family. In fact, Christ won a legal argument with the Pharisees by proving that the Father and He, although “one,” were TWO beings (John 8:17–18).

Christ prayed to the Father that His disciples should become “one” (John 17:20–23). He did not pray that they should all become one being, but that they should become totally unified. We also read that Adam and Eve were to become “one” flesh (Genesis 2:24). Again, they were not to become one being. We can learn from these examples that Christ’s disciples, or Adam and Eve, were to reach, or achieve, oneness in mindset, in purpose, and in action.

Some claim that Scriptures like Deuteronomy 6:4 reject the concept that God is more than one being. However, this is not the case.

We are quoting from our free booklet, God Is A Family:

“Deuteronomy 6:4 reads: ‘Hear, O Israel, The LORD [‘Yahweh’] our God, the LORD [‘Yahweh’] is one!’ Many perceive that this Scripture teaches monotheism—that is, the existence of only one God. And indeed, it does. There is only one God. But… God is a Family, consisting of more than one being. Since God does not contradict Himself in His Word, what can we learn from Deuteronomy 6:4? ‘Yahweh’ is one being. The being who dealt directly with Israel was Jesus Christ. He was called ‘Yahweh’—He was and is one being. So, it is true that ‘Yahweh’—Jesus Christ—is one being.

“In addition, ‘Yahweh’ refers to the Father as well—and the Father is, of course, also one being. Thirdly, since ‘Yahweh’ refers to both the Father and the Son, they are also ‘one’—one in purpose, goal, mindset, willpower and determination. They are unified. There is no division in the God Family…

“Further, many commentaries, including the Jewish Bible or Tanakh, feel that the passage in Deuteronomy 6:4 should be translated, ‘The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.’ This would make sense too, given the fact that both God the Father and Jesus Christ are referred to as ‘LORD’ or ‘Yahweh’ in Scripture. In this sense, the prohibition is against worshipping other gods. Deuteronomy 6:4 definitively DOES NOT teach that there is only one God being, as this would contradict all the other Scriptures in the Bible that establish a duality in the Godhead.”

To elaborate, let us review several commentaries to see how they understand this passage, based on the original Hebrew. Bear in mind, however, that the commentaries that we will quote believe in the false concept of the Trinity—one God in three persons—whereas the Bible teaches that God is a Family, consisting of TWO persons, not three (The Holy Spirit is not a person, but the power of God, emanating from the Father and the Son).

Still, the following commentaries do understand that there is a PLURALITY in the Godhead and that Deuteronomy 6:4 actually teaches this plurality, rather than the concept that the God Family is just one BEING.

For instance, the Jamieson, Fausset and Brown commentary states:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord—or, as the words may perhaps be better translated, ‘Hear, O Israel: Jehovah [our comment: Yahweh is the better rendition of the Hebrew YHWH than Jehovah] is our God (Elohim, plural), Jehovah alone’… The basis of their religion was an acknowledgment of the UNITY of God… it is observable that a belief in the UNITY of God was a fundamental principle not of their faith only, but of their political constitution. The social fabric in all other contemporary nations rested upon the assumed truth of polytheism…”

The New Unger’s Bible Handbook adds:

“This is the most significant verse for orthodox Jews, who call it Shema after the first word, ‘Hear!’ ‘The Lord [YHWH] our God, the Lord is ONE,’ the one, ‘ehad,’ expressing COMPOUND UNITY not ‘yahid,’ meaning a single one, thus not supporting Jewish and Unitarian denial of the Trinity [better, the duality in the Godhead]…”

Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible states:

“Hear, O Israel… shema Yisrael, Yehovah Eloheinu, Yehovah achad… Many think that Moses teaches in these words the doctrine of the Trinity [better: duality] in Unity. It may be so; but if so, it is not more clearly done than in the first verse of Genesis [where we read that God–“elohim” in Hebrew–created the heavens and the earth]… When this passage occurs in the Sabbath readings in the synagogue, the whole congregation repeat the last word… achad for several minutes together with the loudest vociferations… but all their skill… can never prove that there is not a plurality expressed in the word… Eloheinu, which is translated our God… it would apply more forcibly in the way of conviction to the Jews of the plurality of persons in the Godhead, than the word achad, of one… some Christians have joined the Jews against this doctrine, and some have even outdone them, and have put themselves to extraordinary pains to prove that… Elohim is a noun of the singular number! This has not yet been proved. It would be as easy to prove that there is no plural in language.”

Gill’s Exposition of the Bible states:

“These are the words of Moses, stirring up the people to an attention to what he was about to say of this great and momentous article, the UNITY of God, to prevent their going into polytheism and idolatry… they no ways [i.e., in no way] contradict the doctrine of a trinity [better: duality] of persons in the unity of the divine essence, the Father [and the] Word… which [two] are one; the one God, the one Jehovah, as here expressed…”

Deuteronomy 6:4 does not teach that there is only one God BEING, as this would contradict the myriads of Scriptures proving the opposite. Rather, Jesus Christ, the God of the Old Testament, in expressing the direct mandate from God the Father, warned the Israelites not to practice idolatry and polytheism, but to recognize and worship the one true God who led them out of the land of Egypt (compare Exodus 20:2-3). It is true that at that time, most Israelites did not even understand that God is a Family, and they falsely believed that Jesus—the God being dealing directly with them–was God the Father. Jesus came later to reveal the existence of the Father to them (Matthew 11:27; compare also John 1:18; 5:37; 6:46).

One might ask, why would God the Father have allowed the Israelites to worship and pray to the Word, Jesus Christ, erroneously thinking that they were worshipping God the Father? This was all part of God’s great plan. When Adam and Eve sinned, they cut themselves off (and man in general) from God the Father. It would be Jesus Christ who was to deal directly with the ancients and the nation of Israel in Old Testament times. Though some of the ancients understood that God is a Family, consisting of the Father and the Son, most did not. But even those who understood dealt directly with Christ—as mentioned above, none of them has ever heard the voice of the Father or has seen His form. However, there is, always has been, and always will be complete love, unity and harmony within the Godhead, and God the Father was in no way “jealous” of His Son, when Israel worshipped Christ instead of Him.

Christ came to this earth to teach very clearly that His disciples are to worship God the FATHER in spirit and in truth, and that they are to pray to Him, but they are told to do so in Christ’s name. Christ made it clear that the Father is the highest Personage within the God Family. Again, there is no jealousy within the God Family, and Christ is most certainly not jealous of the Father that it had to be revealed that He, rather than Christ, must be prayed to. Christ will always recognize His Father as the Highest, but remember, God is one. The members of the God Family live without any jealousy towards each other. They live in love, harmony and complete unity with each other.

Deuteronomy 6:4 does not negate the existence of two beings within the God Family, but it emphasizes the UNITY of the true God. It also includes the timeless prohibition against a belief in polytheism (consisting many times of pagan gods fighting each other) and against the worship of other gods beside or instead of the one true God (Family).

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, “Christmas Traditions and the Bible.” What do we know about the “three wise kings” from the East? Were they magicians? How many were they, according to the Bible? When did they visit Christ? What do we know about the star leading them? When was Jesus born? Why do we celebrate His birth with a Christmas tree, and why do we exchange gifts? How did Christmas become one of the most important festivals in orthodox Christianity?

The German version, titled, “Weihnachtsbräuche und die Bibel,” was posted on the Web as well.

A new German sermon was posted on the Web, titled, “The World of Demons, Part 1.”

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How This Work is Financed

This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.

Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson

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:

United States: Church of the Eternal God, P.O. Box 270519, San Diego, CA 92198

Canada: Church of God, ACF, Box 1480, Summerland, B.C. V0H 1Z0

United Kingdom: Global Church of God, PO Box 44, MABLETHORPE, LN12 9AN, United Kingdom

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