Update 480


Dreams and Visions

On February 19, 2011, Dave Harris will give the sermon, titled, “Dreams and Visions.”

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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Always Someone Worse Off…

by Brian Gale (United Kingdom)

Whenever we have a problem, whether large or small, the expression that “there is always someone worse off than you” can often be mentioned.   Of course, it will always be true for everyone except for that poor soul who is at the bottom of the pile!   However, it can be a way of inferring, without actually saying it, that we should count our blessings and not complain.

In December last year, my wife and I visited family in Thailand and, whilst we were there, we decided that my wife should stay on for a few more weeks to spend time with our two very young grandsons – and to help out with babysitting duties!   I returned home in late December, on my own, to find our home flooded with water.   We had had two different leaks in the extremely cold weather that the UK had been experiencing at that time, and many others had suffered the same fate!   I also had had quite a fall, either bruising or cracking some ribs.   There were other problems too that I was experiencing and dealing with, and I don’t always count it joy, as we are admonished, when such a profusion of events pile up!

My insurance company sorted out accommodation for me, and whilst I was feeling sorry for myself at the discouraging turn of events, an employee at the hotel where I was temporarily staying told me that he was going to the hospital that afternoon, as he was in pain from the bowel cancer that he was suffering from.   He was very positive about fighting that dreaded disease but also mentioned that, not long ago, his wife had been in a car accident where she had lost the lower part of one of her legs.

Oops.   I was being taught a lesson by a non-church member who, at that particular moment, was much more positive than I was, and his problems were far greater than mine.   Indeed, he and his wife were certainly much worse off than I was.

The timing was perfect.   It shook me up.   How many times have those from outside the church taught us lessons when we should have known better?   I would hazard a guess that, at times, we have all fallen short in this area! It was time to do better and, hopefully, from that moment on, I improved. We can all learn from others, and non-church members can be helpful, at times, in assisting us to see our faults and what we need to do. There is always someone worse off!

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We begin with the ongoing disconcerting developments in Egypt, even after Hosni Mubarak resigned and left Cairo. After a military putsch or coup, the generals are in control, but are they willing to fulfill their promise to conduct free elections in September, thereby running the risk of losing all their privileges which they enjoy—including tax exemption, possession of free land and high salaries?

Even though the military is respected in the country—much more so than any of the political candidates who have emerged so far and the Muslim Brotherhood—many of the demonstrations were held for the express purpose of establishing a civil government. The additional fear is, of course, that the Muslim Brotherhood—the only organized opposition to the former Mubarak regime—will try to hijack the freedom movement.

We are also reporting on the ongoing turmoil in other Middle Eastern countries.

In other news, we are focusing on equally earth-shaking events in Europe (even though the media has largely ignored those in lieu of the events in the Middle East). We are seeing the emergence of a core or two-speed Europe, under German leadership (as prophesied in Scripture) and, at the same time, a widening rift between Britain and the euro-zone (which is also prophesied to occur). At the same time, more and more European leaders state that multiculturalism has failed, and while people are looking for spiritual help in all the wrong places, we are told about the biggest solar flare in years (compare Luke 21:25), and, as an unpleasant reminder that no country or area is exempt, we report about a rare sizeable earthquake that struck Germany on Monday (compare Matthew 24:7-8).

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Egypt and the Middle East in the News

We are publishing quite a few articles on the developments in Egypt and in the Middle East, to establish a few facts: Firstly, it is far from certain that the highly privileged army, which gained control through a putsch, will give up their power; secondly, the West has been a rather helpless bystander in the Egyptian developments and is still being viewed as loser, and it is also being blamed (especially the USA) for the political vacuum in the Middle East and the potential chaos or a (military or perhaps even radical Muslim) dictatorship which might arise, while many Western leaders seem to be willing to ignore the real dangers of the radical Muslim Brotherhood organization; and thirdly, Israel is on high alert and “ready” for all eventualities, realizing that it might end up in total isolation in the Middle East.

In the light of biblical prophecy, we also know this: Egypt will become hostile towards the state of Israel; Israel will be receiving a “wound” (a military defeat, Hosea 5:13) in a coming war; Europe, under German leadership, will enter into a confederation with some Arab nations against Israel, but Egypt is not listed as one of those allies (Psalm 83); Israel (modern descendants of the ancient house of Israel, including the USA and Great Britain; as well as modern descendants of the house of Judah, i.e. the Jewish people) and Egypt will ultimately be conquered by the core nations of a United States of Europe; and at the time of Christ’s return, descendants of the ancient house of Israel will be found as enslaved captives in Europe and (among other nations) especially Germany, while Jews will be found as enslaved captives mainly in the land of Egypt (Deuteronomy 28:68; Hosea 9:3; 11:10-11; Isaiah 11:11-12; 27:13). For more information, please read our free booklet, “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.” )

For additional biblical proof, please listen to Norbert Link’s half-hour video-recorded lecture,  “The Future of Egypt.”

Egypt’s “Misguided Quest for Democracy”

Reuters reported on February 12:

“Hosni Mubarak had harsh words for the United States and what he described as its misguided quest for democracy in the Middle East in a telephone call with an Israeli lawmaker a day before he quit as Egypt’s president… ‘He had very tough things to say about the United States,’ said Ben-Eliezer, a member of the Labor Party…

“‘He gave me a lesson in democracy and said: “We see the democracy the United States spearheaded in Iran and with Hamas, in Gaza, and that’s the fate of the Middle East,'” Ben-Eliezer said.

“‘They may be talking about democracy but they don’t know what they’re talking about and the result will be extremism and radical Islam,'” he quoted Mubarak as saying.

“U.S. support for pro-democracy elements in Iran has not led to regime change in the Islamic Republic, and Hamas, a group Washington considers to be a terrorist organization, won a 2006 Palestinian election promoted by the United States. Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 after a coalition government it formed with Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas collapsed in a power struggle.

“Ben-Eliezer said Mubarak expanded in the telephone call on what he expects will happen in the Middle East after his fall. He contended the snowball (of civil unrest) won’t stop in Egypt and it wouldn’t skip any Arab country in the Middle East and in the Gulf. He said ‘I won’t be surprised if in the future you see more extremism and radical Islam and more disturbances — dramatic changes and upheavals,’ Ben-Eliezer added.”

Mubarak might be quite right with his assessments.

The West and Israel Lost an Important Ally

Der Spiegel Online wrote on February 11:

“In the end, the refusal of pro-democracy protesters to back down sealed his fate. The people on the streets of Egypt insisted that Mubarak leave. But the West stood by the leader almost to the end, despite the fact that the despot had turned his country into a police state and plundered its economy… Mubarak was valuable to the West… US presidents, French heads of state, British prime ministers — all maintained close relationships with the Egyptian president. He was a welcome guest in Germany too and met with almost all of Berlin’s top politicians. Indeed, Germany had even been mentioned as a possible place of exile for Mubarak, before he put such speculation to rest.

“When then-German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher visited Cairo in 1982, Mubarak extravagantly praised the politician, ‘in the name of Allah the Merciful,’ as ‘my dear brother.’… The Mubaraks had a high opinion of Germany. In 2004, the University of Stuttgart awarded ‘honorary citizenship’ of the university to the president’s wife, Suzanne Mubarak, for her social commitment and her dedication to the rights of children and women. When the Egyptian president was treated for a slipped disk in a Munich hospital that same year, he was visited by a number of prominent politicians, including Bavarian Governor Edmund Stoiber, Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer and Chancellor Gerhard Schröder… In March 2010, he was received by Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, ahead of having a gall bladder operation in Heidelberg… Berlin never made genuine demands for reform. Instead, Mubarak was seen as a bulwark in the struggle against radical Islam…

“In Egypt, Mubarak has long been considered a tyrant. The country was under a perpetual state of emergency. Mubarak kept his grip on power using anti-terror laws and elections that were obviously rigged. He turned his country into a police state… It was Egypt’s economic decline, however, that fuelled the greatest anger… Reforms undertaken that were intended to consolidate the national budget largely benefitted the middle and upper classes. The suffering of the poor merely continued to grow — and with it, the rage… The Mubarak family’s riches are said to be worth around $40 billion, wealth accumulated through, for example, commissions received through defense contracts. Arab media outlets report that the money has been securely invested abroad.

“… many have never forgiven Mubarak for declaring peace between Israel and the Arabs as ‘his mission.’ All across the Arab world, some still continued to disparage Mubarak as a ‘Zionist’ or ‘lackey of the West’ right up to his resignation. Pious Muslims also considered him to be their enemy because of the repression of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.”

A Vacuum in the Middle East

The Washington Post wrote on February 12:

“President Hosni Mubarak’s decision to step down Friday after three decades in power presents the Obama administration with a political vacuum where a stalwart ally once stood, shaking up the Middle East in ways that present as much peril as promise for U.S. interests in the region… Mubarak leaves behind the rigid institutions and laws of a police state… and a powerful army with a large stake in who leads the country.”

Historic Shift in the Middle East

The Wall Street Journal wrote on February 12:

“The fall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak marks a historic shift in the Middle East, away from the power structure America has leaned on for the past three decades and toward a new one still being shaped by a demographic and technological wave that the U.S. and its allies haven’t learned to control… the emergence of a Western-style civilian government is far from certain… Certainly in the short term, until the nature of the new Egyptian government becomes more clear, both the U.S. and its friends in the region face a set of problems and uncertainties.

“America’s Arab allies in the Persian Gulf, alarmed at the idea that Mr. Mubarak’s friendship with America wasn’t enough to save him and angry that the Obama administration didn’t do more to stand by him, may step back a bit from the U.S. Less friendly governments, such as Syria’s, are likely to conclude that one of Mr. Mubarak’s problems was that he was too close to Washington to satisfy those in the streets of Cairo, and become even less susceptible to overtures from the U.S.

“In Israel, which sees the Mubarak departure as a blow to the foundation of Arab-Israeli peace, hawkish parties skeptical of the peace process are likely to rise in power by stressing the unreliability of Arab partners. Israel’s willingness to take chances for peace with Palestinians is likely to diminish further amid the uncertain climate.

“One of the wild cards now is Iran. Its theocratic leaders may well read the Egyptian upheaval as a sign that the tides of history are moving in their direction—away from the U.S. and toward revolution. That could make them even more recalcitrant in the face of international demands that Iran curb its nuclear program and its support for radical forces… Ironically, Mr. Mubarak left power on the day Iran marked the 32nd anniversary of its own, quite different revolution.

“Indeed, in the long run, much of American foreign policy depends on how states in the region—friends as well as foes—handle the powerful new forces demography and technology have unleashed.”

The fact that Mubarak’s resignation occurred on the 32nd anniversary of the Iranian revolution is no “coincidence.” God is in control and He has a time table.

Israel’s Bleak Future

The New York Times wrote on February 12:

“As the streets of Gaza exploded with celebration on Friday night with masked Hamas militants marching defiantly to cheer the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Israelis reacted with quiet and deep concern because the regional leader on whom they had relied most was suddenly gone…

“’We don’t know who will be running things in the coming months in Egypt, but we have to keep two things in mind,’ one top official said. ‘The first is that the only example we have of this kind of thing in the region is Iran in 1979… The second is that if Egypt pulls back in any way from its peace with Israel, it will discourage anyone else in the region, including the Palestinians, from stepping forward…’

“Earlier this week, Mr. Netanyahu did speak publicly in Jerusalem about Egypt before the European Friends of Israel. He laid out three possible situations if Mr. Mubarak quit… ‘First, Egyptians may choose to embrace the model of a secular reformist state with a prominent role for the military. There is a second possibility that the Islamists exploit the influence to gradually take the country into a reverse direction — not towards modernity and reform but backward. And there’s still a third possibility — that Egypt would go the way of Iran, where calls for progress would be silenced by a dark and violent despotism that subjugates its own people and threatens everyone else’…

“Eli Shaked, a former ambassador to Cairo for Israel, gave a bleak analysis of Egypt’s prospects, saying by telephone that it had too few institutions, educated people and political parties to move to a democratic system…”

Israel Soon in Isolation?

Newsmax reported on February 11:

“George Birnbaum, an international political consultant who once served as chief of staff to former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is warning that a domino-style collapse of moderate Arab regimes could lead Israel to war. Birnbaum, an expert in global politics, cited Friday’s collapse of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and the growing turmoil in nearby Jordan as ominous signs for Israel…

“‘If that country [Jordan] goes, and in Bahrain and other countries, suddenly you’re going to find Israel in a similar position it was in 1948, where it’ll be isolated, surrounded by Islamic countries looking to see its destruction — with the one exception that Israel has the ability to defend itself this time. But that creates another problem,’ he added, ‘which is a regional if not greater war that the world will have to face.’ Birnbaum said Israel could be ‘in great danger.’”

Israeli Military Ready for All Eventualities?

AFP wrote on February 14:

“The Israeli military is ‘ready for all eventualities’ as the Arab and Muslim world undergoes ‘an earthquake,’ Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday just days after Egypt’s regime collapsed.

“‘An earthquake is shaking the whole Arab world and a large part of the Muslim world and we don’t yet know how these things will turn out,’ the premier said at a swearing-in ceremony for new army chief Major General Benny Gantz. ‘We are ready for all eventualities because we know that the foundation of our existence, and our capacity to convince our neighbours to live in peace with us, is based on the Israeli army,’ he said during a ceremony at his Jerusalem office.”

This kind of misguided trust is one cause for the biblically-prophesied fact that Israel will be defeated in a soon-coming war. The foundation of the peaceful and lasting existence of ANY country must be in God—not in an army. For more information, please read our free booklet, “Should YOU Fight in War?”

Egypt’s Military Coup

The Associated Press wrote on February 12:

“It was the people who forced President Hosni Mubarak from power, but it is the generals who are in charge now. Egypt’s 18-day uprising produced a military coup that crept into being over many days… ‘This is in fact the military taking over power,’ said political analyst Diaa Rashwan…

“The military was clearly torn between its loyalty to the regime and the millions of protesters. Mubarak is one of their own, a former air force commander and a hero of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. But as the president continued to defy the growing crowds and cling to power, the Egyptian army moved more definitively toward seizing control for the first time in some 60 years.”

Growing Concern Over Egyptian Army’s Goals

Deutsche Welle reported on February 13:

“The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces – a body of some 20 generals – is now Egypt’s executive body… The statement also confirmed Defense Minister Hussein Tantawi as Egypt’s de facto head of state…

“Protesters have demanded the immediate release of political prisoners, the lifting of a state of emergency used by Mubarak to crush opposition, the closure of military courts, fair elections and a swift handover of power to civilians. An army source said the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces will ban meetings by labor unions or professional syndicates, effectively forbidding strikes, and tell people to get back to work.“

Reuters wrote on February 14:

“About 2,000 people gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Monday, halting traffic only hours after military police and soldiers had cleared the last few dozen pro-democracy activists from the area… The army had appeared to be in full control of the square… Then hundreds of police marched through, unhindered by troops, saying they wanted to show solidarity with the revolution… ‘We and the people are one,’ chanted the policemen.”

The Independent wrote on February 14:

“Two days after millions of Egyptians won their revolution against the regime of Hosni Mubarak, the country’s army – led by Mubarak’s lifelong friend, General Mohamed el-Tantawi – further consolidated its power over Egypt yesterday, dissolving parliament and suspending the constitution…

“[There is] a growing concern among those who overthrew Mubarak that the fruits of their victory may be gobbled up by an army largely composed of generals who achieved their power and privilege under Mubarak himself… But a clear divergence is emerging between the demands of the young men and women who brought down the Mubarak regime and the concessions – if that is what they are – that the army appears willing to grant them… The army has promised to drop the emergency legislation ‘at the right opportunity’, but as long as it remains in force, it gives the military as much power to ban all protests and demonstrations as Mubarak possessed…

“As for the freeing of political prisoners, the military has remained suspiciously silent. Is this because there are prisoners who know too much about the army’s involvement in the previous regime? Or because escaped and newly liberated prisoners are returning to Cairo and Alexandria from desert camps with terrible stories of torture and executions by – so they say – military personnel…

“Now, of course, it is Egypt’s turn to watch the effects of its own revolution on its neighbours. Scarcely a family in Egypt was unaware yesterday of the third day of protests against the president in Yemen and the police violence which accompanied them. And it is remarkable that just as Arab protesters mimic their successful counterparts in Egypt, the state security apparatus of each Arab regime faithfully follows the failed tactics of Mubarak’s thugs.

“Another irony has dawned on Egyptians. Those Arab dictators which claim to represent their people – Algeria comes to mind, and Libya, and Morocco – have signally failed to represent their people by not congratulating Egypt on its successful democratic revolution. To do so, needless to say, would be to saw off the legs of their own thrones.”

Doubts About Army’s Direction

Der Spiegel wrote on February 14:

“With Hosni Mubarak out of power and the generals temporarily at the helm, Egypt appears to be on a path to democracy… German commentators have doubts about the army’s commitment to true change…

“The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes: ‘The generals of Cairo have been part of the Mubarak regime for 30 years: draped with medals and rewarded with privileges… The military owns land, its factories produce food, televisions and kitchen furniture. It is obvious that part of the income flows into the pockets of the men in uniform. And now these men are supposed to selflessly dismantle a regime in which they flourished?’

“Conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes: ‘Unlike in Central and Eastern Europe in 1989, the regimes of Arabia are too different, they aren’t united by a common ideology…’

“The business daily Financial Times Deutschland writes: ‘The demonstrators have welcomed the cold military putsch, they even demanded it, and the generals were all too happy to meet that request. But it’s unclear whether they will also stick to the second part of the deal and hold elections in half a year — a glance at history shows that that isn’t very likely…’

“Conservative Die Welt writes: ‘Much of the army’s leadership was trained in the Soviet Union and will hardly be able to act as a convincing agent of change.’”

Open Defiance Against Egyptian Army

Haaretz reported on February 17:

“Millions of Egyptian cell phone users on Tuesday evening received the following text message from the ‘Armed Forces’: ‘The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces urges honest citizens to take part in efforts to reach a [safe] haven.’ This was a poetic way of warning the public against continuing to strike, continuing to close the country’s bank and stock market, and continuing slowdowns in industrial production.

“Despite these warnings, workers in key industries continued to stage strikes Wednesday. Some 18,000 workers in leading textile factories went on strike, as did maintenance and customs employees at Cairo’s airport. Because of the airport strike, 11 flights were canceled, news agencies reported. The demands of striking workers range from higher wages to the dismissal of senior executives over corruption charges…

“In an open act of defiance against the army, 31 human rights organizations issued a joint statement asserting that the committee appointed by the military council to change the constitution appears to include a coalition of members of the old regime and the Muslim Brotherhood. They also criticized the fact that not a single woman serves on this committee.”

Egypt No Safe Place for Women

The Associated Press wrote on February 17:

“Now the reported attack on a senior U.S. television correspondent during the final night of the 18-day revolt has shown that the threat of violence against women in Egypt remains very real. CBS has said its chief foreign correspondent, Lara Logan, went through a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating by a frenzied mob in the square during Friday’s celebrations of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster… Logan was released from a U.S. hospital and was recovering Wednesday in her Washington-area home, as her story raised issues often left unaddressed in the Middle East.

“An Egyptian security official said he was unaware of any investigation into the attack on Logan…

“Women in Egypt – and in many areas of the Arab world – are still afraid to report sexual assault or harassment, fearing they and their families will be stigmatized… Only rarely do women come forward. The killing of women by male relatives for perceived violations of a strict moral code are often either covered up by the families or the assailants, if prosecuted, face light sentences.

“Sexual harassment remains widespread in Egypt, and even women covered up by veils and long robes in strict Islamic dress say they are not immune. A 2008 survey by the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights found that 83 percent of Egyptian women and 98 percent of foreign women in Cairo said they had been harassed…

“Police witnessing harassment have a history of not interfering or even joining in, going after female political activists in particular… A proposed law banning sexual harassment and outlining criminal punishment was never put to a vote to parliament. It’s unlikely to see any action during Egypt’s ongoing political turmoil, with parliament dissolved and elections not expected for several more months.”

Unfortunately, as CNN’s Piers Morgan reported on February 15, the same hostile anti-women environment is not only limited to the Middle East, but it also seems to be prevalent in the U.S. Army. It was claimed that the Army is engaging in a systematic cover-up, and sexually harassed female soldiers and officers are basically prevented from successfully claiming sexual harassment, including rape.

Ill-Advised Ideas

The Local wrote on February 14:

“The German government wants to help Egypt develop democratic institutions as it prepares for free elections, a senior official in the Foreign Ministry…

“‘This entire process should and must remain in the hands of Egyptians themselves, but we are ready to offer any help that might be desired,’ said Hoyer, a minister of state at the Foreign Ministry and member of the Free Democrats… He suggested sending election monitors to the country soon so that they could observe the process from the very beginning. According to him, election fraud often begins as early as the creation of voter rolls.

“Hoyer called on western nations to engage the Muslim Brotherhood in dialogue and said he had never understood the fear that many have of the organization. In addition, he added, a group that could get 20 to 30 percent of the vote in an election cannot simply be ignored.”

On February 15, Der Spiegel Online wrote the following about the “father figure” of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood:

“He is a hypermarket of dogma, dispensing advice on subjects ranging from mother’s milk to suicide bombing. But few have as much influence on Sunni Muslims as the Muslim televangelist Youssef al-Qaradawi. He says what the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt thinks — and he provides clues to how they might act… Qaradawi is the father figure of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s best-organized opposition group. The Brotherhood is sure to play a part in deciding what path Egypt will now take…

“Qaradawi advocates establishing a ‘United Muslim Nations’ as a contemporary form of the caliphate and the only alternative to the hegemony of the West. He hates Israel and would love to take up arms himself. In one of his sermons, he asked God ‘to kill the Jewish Zionists, every last one of them.’ In January 2009, he said: ‘Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the [Jews] people who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by [Adolf] Hitler’… the mufti isn’t opposed to 100 lashes for gays and lesbians if that is the punishment imposed by a Sharia judge…”

In light of these facts, the words of former US President Jimmy Carter—as the ones of German senior official in the Foreign Ministry, Hoyer–are nothing short of shocking. Jimmy Carter, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, but who has also been described as the worst president of the USA in recent times, said, according to The Statesman, dated February 15:

“‘I think the Muslim Brotherhood is not anything to be afraid of in the upcoming (Egyptian) political situation and the evolution I see as most likely,’ Carter said. ‘They will be subsumed in the overwhelming demonstration of desire for freedom and true democracy.’”

Some simply do not understand, as the next article proves as well.

Civil War in US Government?

Newsmax reported on February 13:

“Is a civil war brewing between the Obama White House and Hillary Clinton’s State Department? A New York Times story published this weekend suggests one may have erupted already.

“On Saturday, the Times, quoting numerous White House sources, sought to explain the Obama administration’s erratic policy statements during the Egyptian crisis. The paper reported that Obama was ‘seething’ over State Department officials’ statement suggesting that the administration did not want a quick transition of power in Egypt, with President Hosni Mubarak stepping down from his office immediately. Obama felt that the State Department ‘made it look as if the administration were protecting a dictator and ignoring the pleas of the youths of Cairo.’

“As Secretary Clinton and her special envoy Frank Wisner repeatedly called for an orderly transition that would include President Mubarak remaining in office for at least a period of time, Obama and his team studiously sought to undermine the State Department stance. The Times states that Mr. Obama ‘was furious’ about Clinton’s and Wisner’s statements, ‘as Mr. Obama was demanding that change in Egypt begin right away.’

“Secretary Clinton was not the only figure who opposed Obama’s view. Clinton was joined by Vice President Joe Biden and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who also were advocating that Obama adhere to a cautious and more traditional foreign policy approach toward the situation in Egypt… According to the Times, the Obama White House even recruited Democratic Sen. John Kerry to appear on ‘Meet the Press’ last Sunday to contradict Wisner’s statements that reflected Secretary Clinton’s views. Wisner’s comments ‘just don’t reflect where the administration has been from day one,’ Kerry said on the program.”

Confusion abounds, and America might be digging its own political grave…

Israel and USA Main Losers?

Haaretz wrote on February 12:

“The Muslim Brotherhood movement in Jordan, the country’s main opposition group, described Saturday the downfall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak as a ‘historic victory’ with the United States and Israel as the main losers.”

Libya’s Gaddafi: Muslims Should Join Against the West

Haaretz reported on February 13:

“Palestinian refugees should capitalize on the wave of popular revolts in the Middle East by massing peacefully on the borders of Israel until it gives in to their demands, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi said on Sunday. Gaddafi is respected in many parts of the Arab world for his uncompromising criticism of Israel and Arab leaders who have dealings with Israel…

“Gaddafi also issued a call to Muslim countries to join forces against Western powers. He said the world was divided into white, denoting the United States, Europe and their allies, and green for the Muslim world. ‘The white color has decided to get rid of the green color,’ Gaddafi said. ‘These countries should be united against the white color because all of these white countries are the enemies of Islam.’”

Libya is another country to watch. Historically, there have been strong alliances between Egypt, Libya and Ethiopia, and it is indicated in Scripture that a similar configuration could happen again compare Ezekiel 30:1-5; Jeremiah 46:1-2, 8-10).

Protests in Libya, Bahrain and Yemen as Unrest Sweeps Arab World

Haaretz reported on February 16:

“Inspired by revolts that have toppled Arab rulers in Tunisia and Egypt, protesters in Bahrain, Libya and Yemen have taken to the streets to demand the resignations of their own heads of state.

“Protesters in Bahrain poured into the Gulf kingdom’s capital on Wednesday to mourn a demonstrator killed in clashes with security forces. Over a thousand joined a funeral procession for the man, who was shot dead Tuesday when fighting broke out at the burial of another protester… Bahrain is considered the most vulnerable among Gulf Arab states to popular unrest… [Bahrain is home to the US Navy’s 5th Fleet.]

“Hundreds of Libyan protesters took to the streets of the country’s second largest city on Wednesday demanding that the government be ousted, in a sign that the unrest of the region has spread to the North African Arab nation…

“Government loyalists wielding batons and daggers clashed with anti-government protesters in the Yemeni capital on Wednesday. Police were unable to keep the two sides apart… The threat of turmoil in Yemen, which is struggling to quash a resurgent wing of al-Qaida and keep rebellions at bay in its north and south, pushed [President Ali Abdullah] Saleh to promise to step down in 2013 and offer dialogue with the opposition… Many say any uprising in Yemen would unfold slowly and with more bloodshed, in a country where one in two people own guns… Of the 23 million people in Yemen, often close to collapsing into a failed state, 40 percent live on less than $2 a day and a third suffer from chronic hunger.”

Iran’s Dictators–Afraid and Aggressive

The New York Times wrote on February 15:

“A day after the most significant street protests in Iran since the end of the 2009 uprising there, members of the Iranian Parliament called on Tuesday for the two most prominent opposition leaders to be prosecuted and sentenced to death for stirring unrest.

“The call came as confrontations between government authorities and protesters inspired by the Tunisia and Egypt revolutions continued to unfold elsewhere in the region, with violent clashes in Bahrain and Yemen.

“The protests in Tehran and other Iranian cities on Monday brought thousands onto the streets, defying an official prohibition and reviving memories of the mass protests that convulsed Iran after the disputed presidential election in 2009… Initial reports said one person died in the clashes.

“The Parliament speaker, Ali Larijani, accused the United States and its allies of providing support to the opposition following uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt…

“The size of the protests in Iran was unclear. Witness accounts and news reports from inside the country suggested that perhaps 20,000 to 30,000 demonstrators in several cities defied strong warnings and took to the streets.

“The unrest was an acute embarrassment for Iranian leaders, who had sought to portray the toppling of two secular rulers, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, as a triumph of popular support for Islam in the Arab world…

“The Iranian authorities have shown that they will not hesitate to crush demonstrations with deadly force. Other governments across the Middle East and the Persian Gulf also moved aggressively to stamp out protests on Monday.”

Deutsche Welle reported on February 16:

“The German government has condemned the Iranian regime for its crackdown on opposition protesters, calling it ‘especially worrying and disturbing.’… The regime has called a rally in Tehran for Friday to express ‘hatred’ against the opposition. Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert added that Germany was offering its full support for the protesters.

“US President Barack Obama… had harsh words for the Iranian regime, saying that unlike in Egypt, Iran’s response to protests has been ‘to shoot people, beat people and arrest people.'”

Haaretz wrote on February 17:

“The United States said Wednesday that it is monitoring two Iranian ships in the Red Sea which Israel said earlier in the day were set to cross the Suez Canal. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told American Jewish leaders in Jerusalem on Wednesday that two Iranian warships planned to sail through the Suez Canal en route to Syria. He called the move the latest ‘provocation’ by Tehran and hinted at an Israeli response.”

The Unwanted Consequences of the Middle Eastern “Revolution”

Der Spiegel Online wrote on February 15:

“The mass influx of migrants to Italy’s Lampedusa island following the popular uprising in Tunisia is fast becoming a problem for all of Europe… On Tuesday, the Italian government formally requested €100 million ($135 million) in aid from the European Union to help cope with what it has called a humanitarian crisis on the Mediterranean island…

“The left-wing Die Tageszeitung writes: ‘… Tens of thousands of people from the nations of North Africa, and tens of thousands more from sub-Saharan Africa who may use the Mediterranean countries as transit states, could soon make their way to Europe…’”

New York City Capital of Diseases

The New York Times wrote on February 10:

“When New York City’s health department revealed last weekend that three people had contracted cholera, it was a reminder that the city is not just a world capital of arts, business and the like — but also of exotic diseases. If a disease has cropped up in the world, there is a good chance it will eventually find its way to New York City through the diverse travelers who cross the city’s borders… In 2002, bubonic plague, more commonly associated with the 14th century, found its way to New York City through two travelers who came from a ranch in New Mexico, where the disease is endemic in flea-bitten wild animals like prairie dogs…

“Malaria is a steady presence in New York City, with about 200 cases a year — a far greater incidence than that of another mosquito-borne disease, West Nile, which infected 42 New Yorkers.” Christ warned that because of our sins, our cities will be plagued with disease (Deuteronomy 28:27, 35, 61).

Attack on USA with WMDs Certain

Newsmax reported on February 15:

“The probability that the U.S. will be hit with a weapons of mass destruction attack at some point is 100 percent, Dr. Vahid Majidi, the FBI’s assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate, tells Newsmax. Such an attack could be launched by foreign terrorists, lone wolves who are terrorists, or even by criminal elements, Majidi says. It would most likely employ chemical, biological, or radiological weapons…”

Germany Takes Over…

As we reported in our last Update (No. 479), Deutsche Boerse and NYSE Euronext are planning a merger. The following articles say more about this outstanding and extraordinary endeavor:

The New York Times wrote on February 15:

“NYSE Euronext and Deutsche Börse agreed on Tuesday to a $10 billion all-stock merger, combining two of the world’s biggest stock exchanges into a trans-Atlantic powerhouse. The union of the operators of the New York Stock Exchange and the Frankfurt Stock Exchange is the biggest example of consolidation among exchanges, as established players contend with smaller electronic markets that have seized market share… But the deal has stoked fears that New York and its iconic Big Board are ceding prominence as a major financial capital… Mr. Francioni of Deutsche Börse will be chairman of the combined company, while Mr. Niederauer of NYSE Euronext will be chief executive. Deutsche Börse will hold 10 seats on the 17-seat board of the combined company, because its shareholders own about 60 percent of the merged exchange operator’s shares… One of the biggest remaining questions is government approval…  The deal is expected to close by the end of the year.”

On February 15, the German mass tabloid Bild wrote with glowing praise: “Deutsche Boerse takes over power at Wall Street.”  It continued: “Under German leadership, the new Number 1 in the world is forming.” It also said that “the Americans are afraid of the German take-over.” They said that some American papers had the headlines, “The Germans Are Coming.”

Der Spiegel Online added on February 15: “The Germans are playing the role of the senior partner and want to dominate the world market in the future…”

Deutsche Welle wrote on February 16:

“Many traders on the New York Stock Exchange were taken by surprise last week when the news ticker announced that Wall Street was planning to merge with the operator of the Frankfurt stock exchange, Deutsche Börse. At first, many traders thought the New Yorkers would be buying up the Germans. When they found out it would be the other way around, more than a few turned a little pale… ‘Wall Street is… an American icon that’s going to be taken over by the Europeans,’” one trader said.

The article continued:

“The Blue Room, one of the trading areas, is tipped to become the ‘Hofbräuhaus’ beer hall. In the cafeteria, the beloved pastrami sandwiches are rumored to be about to give way to wiener schnitzel. People are joking that they had better sign up for German language classes… The stock exchange in New York has been in existence since 1792. It was under a Buttonwood tree not far from ‘Wall Street’ that the first traders signed an agreement and began to trade commercial paper. Two centuries later, New York is still considered the finance capital of the world, although it’s not sitting on its throne [as] confidently as it once did.”

Euro Will Rise, and Dollar Will Devalue Fast

International Business Times wrote on February 7:

“While many on Wall Street are quite pessimistic about the prospects of the euro currency, [Douglas Borthwick, head of trading at Faros Trading, a foreign exchange advisory and execution firm] thinks there are fundamental reasons to believe the dollar will devalue even faster. Below are the five points of his long-euro/short-dollar thesis.

“1. The US is in a weaker fiscal shape than Europe. 
“2. There is still plenty of ‘flight to quality’ remaining in the dollar.
“3. The value of the euro is being talked down by officials from core Europe.
“4. There is more to the story of Latin American/Asian central banks buying the dollar to devalue their currencies.
“5.  The natural course of action for the US to take is to devalue the dollar.”

A Two-Speed Europe…

AFP wrote on February 11:

“A Franco-German pact for closer economic policy coordination in the eurozone must not lead to the creation of a ‘two-speed’ Europe, the EU’s budget commissioner Janusz Lewandowski warned Friday. ‘Now we are almost on the crossroads towards a two-speed Europe,’ Lewandowski said, referring to plans by Germany and France for unified, cross-border policies in a bid to start governing the 17-nation eurozone economy as one.

“Non-euro members, such as Bulgaria, Poland and others ‘should try to keep the door open, to be part of the decision-making machinery and the future of the eurozone,’ said the Polish-born commissioner. ‘We should not allow — after being “in”– to be “out” again because the eurozone is constructing a sort of internal European Union,’ he said.

“Germany and France have recently drawn up a six-point programme covering a wide range of topics from wages, corporation tax to bank bailouts, to help start governing the 17 economies that share the single currency as one… Leaders of the 17-nation eurozone are to hold a special summit in mid-March to discuss ways of avoiding a replay of the debt crises that shook the single currency last year. Non-euro countries have not been invited to attend.”

The EU Is at a Turning Point…

The Economist wrote on February 10:

“When Germany and France disagree, everybody complains about paralysis in Europe. When they agree, the protest is about unacceptable diktats. So when Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy pushed an EU summit in Brussels to approve their ‘competitiveness pact’, which calls for closer co-ordination of economic policies among countries using the euro, an outcry was only to be expected. Yet its vehemence took them aback.

“Over a long and bad-tempered lunch, almost every other EU leader railed against something. Ireland rejected the idea of aligning EU corporate taxes (or at least the tax base) as a danger to its low-tax growth model. Belgium and Luxembourg resisted calls to abolish their system of index-linked wages. The Baltics said they should not raise their pension age as fast as west Europeans because their people tend to die younger. Poland denounced plans for separate summits of euro-zone leaders for being divisive. From Stettin to Trieste, many easterners feel, a curtain is descending again. This time it bears the symbol of the euro…

“Whatever the details, one thing is clear: the EU is at a turning-point. The debt crisis is forcing the 17 euro-zone countries to pool economic sovereignty to a degree that was unthinkable before. And their relationship with the ten non-euro outsiders, ranging from eurosceptical Britain to east Europeans who are keen to join the single currency, has been thrown into doubt…

“In a different era, all this might have caused great worry in Britain and, as a result, generated even more tension within the EU. But the new British government, deeply hostile to further EU integration, seems content to stand aside even as the euro zone binds itself closer. If that means a two-speed Europe, so be it: Britain thinks its outer lane, presently inhabited by the likes of Poland and Sweden, is faster.

“By tradition Germany is strongly pro-European… By her own history, as a daughter of East Germany, Mrs Merkel is averse to division within Europe… Mrs Merkel will not allow the euro to collapse… Germany will make itself heard—at a time of crisis, the euro zone needs its biggest creditor. But to be followed, Germany still needs the support of France. Mrs Merkel has yielded to Mr Sarkozy on matters of form, even if the substance is mostly German. For domestic reasons, both leaders want to show they can lead Europe, and even to dictate terms… Some complaints from fellow Europeans may be a necessary part of saving the euro and leading its members towards greater integration…”

The Bible shows that out of the EU, ten nations or groups of nations (“core Europe”) will emerge (Revelation 17:12-13; Daniel 2:41-43). These will in all likelihood be composed of nations which have adopted the euro, while those outside the eurozone will not be part of it. This is not to say that all nations presently within the eurozone will constitute the ten groups of nations; nor, that all the current eurozone members will remain in the eurozone. Also, we can expect more bickering going on even within the current and future eurozone countries, as the ten leading nations or groups of nations are described as partly strong and partly fragile (compare again Daniel 2:42). But they will be united in their fight against the returning Jesus Christ (Daniel 2:34, 44; Revelation 17:14).

The Financial Times reported on February 14:

“David Cameron, Britain’s prime minister, has been warned by his coalition allies that he risks sidelining Britain in a two-speed Europe if he adopts an ‘empty chair’ policy while eurozone countries led by France and Germany take key economic decision.”

Based on Scripture, we believe that Great Britain will not join the eurozone and that it will adopt an “empty chair.” We don’t foresee that Britain will ultimately even remain to be a part of the EU, and hostility will develop between continental Europe (especially core Europe) and Great Britain. In this regard, the next article is very interesting.

Britain Stands Up to Europe

The Daily Mail wrote on February 14 about the “Day we stood up to Europe: In an unprecedented move, MPs reject European court’s ruling that prisoners must get the vote.” It continued:

“MPs mounted an historic defence of Britain’s sovereign right to make its own decisions last night by defying demands from the European courts to hand prisoners the vote. They voted overwhelmingly to maintain a 140-year-old ban on convicts ¬taking part in elections because, they said, those who commit a crime have ‘broken their contract with society’.

“The decisive stance plunged Parliament into an unprecedented stand-off against the European Court of Human Rights… After six hours of impassioned debate, MPs voted by 234 to 22… to defy a ruling from the ECHR that the ban must be overturned. Dozens of Conservative backbenchers lined up to insist that after decades of toeing the line, the time has come for Britain to tell unelected Strasbourg judges that they have overstepped their authority.

“Experts said the vote left Britain’s relationship with the European court in ‘uncharted territory’. It places the Prime Minister under intense pressure to launch a defining challenge against Strasbourg…

“Britain’s Parliament, for too long supine in the face of the erosion of its powers and prerogatives by European institutions, has finally struck back… Britain has taken a small but significant step towards regaining control of her destiny.”

Multiculturalism Has Failed

The Telegraph reported on February 11:

“French president Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday declared that multiculturalism had failed, joining a growing number of world leaders or ex-leaders who have condemned it. ‘We have been too concerned about the identity of the person who was arriving and not enough about the identity of the country that was receiving him,’ he said in a television interview in which he declared the concept a ‘failure’.

“Prime Minister David Cameron last month pronounced his country’s long-standing policy of multiculturalism a failure, calling for better integration of young Muslims to combat home-grown extremism. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Australia’s former prime minister John Howard and former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar have also in recent months said multicultural policies have not successfully integrated immigrants.”

As a consequence, the struggles between “Christian” Europe (especially Catholic Europe) and Islam (especially radical Islamists) will continue.

Mother Durga or Mother Mary?

On February 17, The Huffington Post published the following interesting article. The parallels between Mother Durga and Mother Mary are unmistakable. Of course, the Bible prohibits worship or adoration of either one:

“The Devi Mahatmya or the Great Glory of the Goddess is a 5th century myth that offers potent teachings relevant to this day and age. The heroine of this story about the victory of good over evil is Durga, Goddess of Divine Justice, Invincible Power, and Impenetrable Compassion. Her name, Durga, means fortress, and speaks to the unassailable essence of our inherent nature. Durga is also known as the Remover of Fear and Difficulty for she always comes to the aid of any who call on her in distress…

“Goddess Durga… is the impenetrable place of calm within our hearts from which we can choose actions that promote harmony and unity rather than selfish harmful acts… Mother Durga promises to return whenever any of her children are in distress. As we face crises on both a personal and planetary level, might we call on this ancient divine female force of compassion and courage to help us confront and transform that which threatens the wellbeing and contentment of all beings on this planet?

“The Devi Mahatmya teaches that the grace of goddess is unconditional and will never be withheld from anyone… We need only invoke Durga to help us remember our true nature and that divine love conquers all.”

Rather than worshipping the true and merciful loving God of the Bible, many are looking for “compassionate” substitutes—such as the “Virgin Mary” or Far Eastern “goddesses.”

Biggest Solar Flare in Years

CBS reported on February 16:

“… after years of relative quiet on our nearest star, activity has picked up as of late, resulting in a solar flare that marks the strongest since 2006… After the initial blast of radiation accompanying the coronal mass ejection (CME) — the first of its magnitude to occur in the new solar cycle of activity — a huge cloud of charged particles is headed toward Earth…  meteorological officials say the flare has disrupted radio communications in southern China. Scientists have pointed out that activity on the sun is now ramping up ahead of an expected solar maximum around 2013.”

Rare Earthquake in Germany

The Local wrote on February 14:

“An earthquake measuring at least 4.4 on the Richter scale shook the Rhine-Main region on Monday. According to local authorities, earthquakes of such magnitude are rare in Germany… The epicenter of the quake, which struck at 1:43 pm and lasted several seconds, was located near the town of Nassau an der Lahn, some 28 km east of Koblenz. Some stations were reporting the earthquake at 4.8 on the Richter scale.

“No damage has been reported although the trembler did set off several alarms and gave people far into the neighbouring state of Hesse a good shaking… The area lies along a seismically active zone associated with the Rhine Rift Valley, which stretches from Basel in Switzerland to the Benelux countries.

“Serious earthquakes are rare in Germany, though blasting in coal mining areas of Saarland is known to trigger tremors. A quake measuring 4.0 on the Richter scale in Saarwellingen in 2008 reportedly knocked over chimneys and caused power outages, sparking protests against coal mining.”

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Was Jesus a homeless vagabond or a hippie, wandering around, without a place to live in?

Sadly, many have a totally wrong concept as to how Jesus Christ lived when He was here on earth. They might have read Scriptures saying that even though He was rich, He became poor (2 Corinthians 8:9), not realizing that Paul is using a comparison between the richness of the immortal God who owns everything, and, in contrast, the poverty of man whose insignificant riches might be here today and gone tomorrow (compare Proverbs 23:4-5).

But Jesus Christ was by no means a vagabond or a hippy. Even though some claim, for instance, that He wore long hair, the Bible is very clear that He did not (compare 1 Corinthians 11:14). [For more information, please read our Q&A, Did Jesus Wear Long Hair?].

He was the son of a carpenter—Joseph—and as Jewish custom of the time dictated, He, as the firstborn, would have been taught in that occupation and He would have continued in it after Joseph’s death (Joseph might have died sometime after the episode of the twelve-year old Jesus in the temple, as he is not mentioned anymore afterwards in Scripture as still being alive).

The carpenter’s occupation included that of an architect, who would build houses. It is therefore very likely that Joseph built a house for himself and his family, and that Jesus, as the carpenter’s son, would also have been engaged in building houses. It was customary for sons and daughters to remain in their parents’ home until marriage, and as the firstborn son, He would have had the right and responsibility of inheriting the home and carrying on the family business that was operated from it. But it is also very likely that, as the firstborn son of a carpenter and having become a carpenter Himself, He would have built His own house or houses.

There are numerous passages indicating that Jesus owned His own house—or perhaps even more than one. He grew up in Nazareth, but He later lived or “dwelt” in Capernaum (Matthew 4:13), “His own city” (Matthew 9:1). Luke makes this possible distinction when referring to Nazareth as the city where Jesus “had been brought up” (Luke 4:16). It appears that at some point in time, then, Jesus made His adult home in Capernaum. We read that when in Capernaum, Jesus would go into “THE” house, and that people would visit Him there when they found out that He was in the house (compare Matthew 13:1, 36). Many commentaries say that this is a reference to Peter’s house in Capernaum, but it would be strange that in a few passages, it is specifically said that He entered “Peter’s house” (Matthew 8:14), while in most cases, it is only stated that He was in THE house. It was obviously a dwelling place which was well known to the people—they knew where to go when they heard that He was in THE house. The strong indication is that it was actually Christ’s house where He would live, when He was dwelling in Capernaum, and when He was not on a missionary journey.

For instance, in Mark 2:1, some commentaries feel that the phrase, “He was in the house,” should be rendered, according to the original Greek, as “He was at home”—which would strongly indicate that Christ either owned a house in Capernaum, or that He was renting one, still showing that this was “His home.”

Later, when Jesus went up from Capernaum to Nazareth, we read His words in Matthew 13:57, which could refer to His relatives and/or to visitors in His own house: “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country [or: hometown, compare New American Standard Bible] and in his own house.” And so, He did not do many works in His hometown where He had grown up, “because of their unbelief” (verse 58).

Some have claimed that Joseph and Mary were poor and could not afford to have and live in a house in Nazareth because Christ was born in a manger. But we must realize that Joseph and Mary, who was pregnant, had to travel to Bethlehem to be registered there, because that was the location where Joseph had been born; but even then, we find that later they were no longer in a manger (Luke 2:7), but in a house (Matthew 2:11)—perhaps a house which was owned by Joseph’s relatives. We point this out to show that it was not unusual for people at that time to own houses. We must also recognize that Joseph and Mary were betrothed to get married—that is, they were already called husband and wife (Matthew 1:18-19, 24), but they had not yet consummated their marriage–and Joseph, as a just man who might not even have been anymore in his “teenage years,” had certainly financially prepared for his marriage with Mary (compare Proverbs 24:27; 27:23-27).

We read that Jesus said that foxes have holes and birds have nests but that the Son of Man had no place to lay His head. Some commentaries claim that this proves that Jesus could not have owned a house—and that He was pretty much homeless. However, we must look at the context. While Matthew 8:20 is not as specific as to the timing, the parallel passage in Luke 9:58 is given in the context of when He was on a journey with His disciples, and the Samaritans refused to grant them shelter (compare Luke 9:51-56; note verse 57: “NOW it happened as they journeyed on the road…”). There were times when Christ and His disciples did not encounter hospitality, while they were on their missionary journeys, and it was that fact which Jesus stressed when He spoke about the sacrifices one must be willing to make when he or she wants to follow Christ (compare verses 57-58).

In this context, also note what Peter said of himself and the other apostles: “Then Peter answered and said to Him, ‘See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?'” (Matthew 19:27; compare Mark 10:28). Notice Jesus’ answer in Mark 10:29-30: “So Jesus answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.’”

However, we also know that Peter and many of the other apostles had wives and that they did not leave them, but they continued their responsibilities as husbands (compare 1 Corinthians 9:5; the reference to “Cephas” is the Aramaic name for Peter). What both Jesus and His disciples gave up was their daily jobs–the work they had been trained in. Some left their family business (compare Matthew 4:20, 22; Mark 1:18, 20; Luke 5:27-28). Provision was made for them by the support of others (compare Luke 8:1-3).

We should also recognize that the soldiers did not want to cut Jesus’ garments and clothing, when He was hanging on the cross (or better, stake), but they cast lots to determine who should receive them (Matthew 27:35). Even though their conduct was in fulfillment of a prophecy, it is also worthwhile to mention that His garments and clothing were apparently not “cheap,” but of such a quality and value that the soldiers were willing to cast lots for them.

The fact that Jesus told John in His final hours to take care of His mother Mary, and that John took her into his own house (John 19:25-27), does not contradict the concept that Jesus might have owned a house. Rather, Jesus wanted John to take care of His mother, having the greatest confidence that John–the disciple whom He loved–would be the best person to carry out that heavy responsibility.

We might also take note of the fact that James, the half-brother of Jesus Christ, evidently lived in or near Jerusalem following Christ’s death and resurrection. He did so in order to fulfill his responsibilities in administering the Headquarters Church from Jerusalem (compare Acts 12:17, 15:13; 21:18; 1 Corinthians 15:3-8; Galatians 1:18-19).

Some critics claim that in passages such as Matthew 19:21, Mark 10:21, and Luke 18:22, Jesus told His followers to dispose of all their possessions; yet, He Himself owned a house. They conclude that Christ was a hypocrite and that His teachings must be rejected. However, any HONEST view of these Scriptures forces us to conclude that Jesus spoke to one particular rich man who had made a god out of his riches. He was not willing to give up his idol to follow Christ. Christ, knowing His heart, told the young man that he needed to overcome his idolatry, and it was in that particular case that He told him to sell whatever he had (note, these passages do not even single out the possession of houses). It is true that Christ made clear to all of us that we must forsake everything—whatever it may be—IF those (physical) things would prevent us from building a right relationship with God and to follow Him completely. Of course, whatever physical possessions Christ might have had, they NEVER induced Him to make that mistake which He warned others about.

Scriptures seem to indicate that Christ did own a house—and perhaps even more than one. But ultimately, it is not of great importance whether Jesus owned or rented a house or whether He dwelled with His disciples in their houses—as long as we understand that Jesus was not a homeless vagabond or a hippie. He was a living example of God’s Way of Life, and the Bible tells us that God wants us to prosper in all things (3 John 2). Scriptures also tell us that when we obey God (and Christ always obeyed Him, not sinning once), God would bless us financially (compare Malachi 3:8-10). David even said that he was young and grew old, and he never saw the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread (Psalm 37:25).

In this Q&A, we are not taking any position on whether or not it is wise or unwise to buy a house in the present financial climate. This is a personal decision which everyone must make, based on his or her individual circumstances. Some may feel that they can afford buying a house, while others have bought houses with far-too-high mortgages and with little or no equity, and because of the collapse of the housing market and the recent great recession or depression, banks foreclosed on them and they lost or walked away from their houses, as they were unable to pay their mortgages.

We know that terrible and “expensive” times are ahead of us, but we also know that when we seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, God will give us all the physical things that we need, including food, clothing and shelter. God the Father did most certainly do this for Christ—the prime example of Someone who did seek first in His life God’s Kingdom and His righteousness. Christ’s mission was to preach the gospel and to finish the Work which the Father had given Him to do, and when He died, He exclaimed: “It is finished.” Christ’s disciples are to follow that example today.

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, “Bible Prophecy in the News.” While the focus on Egypt is continuing, other important events are occurring in Iran, the USA and Europe. All of these prophesied developments, taken together, signal the imminent return of Jesus Christ.

Norbert Link’s video-recorded sermon, “Paul’s Letter to the Philippians, Part 3,” was posted on the Web.

A new German sermon was placed on the Web. It is titled, “Im Anfang… Teil 1” [“In the Beginning, Part 1”]. The sermon is the first part of a series which will deal with the first few chapters of the book of Genesis.

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Do Hard Things!

by Simon Akl

I am currently in a transition year as I begin a new stage in my life. I have moved on from an undergraduate college and am now in the first year of medical school. It has not come without its challenges. This spring semester I took a class which really challenged me, to the point where I started doubting whether I would be able to face the academic obstacles. I struggled at times, not necessarily because of the difficulty of the knowledge but more so due to the knowledge overload taught in such a short time span. There was a point where I took a step back and wondered why I had chosen to put myself through all this. This period of self-reflection allowed me to gain the confidence and faith that as long as I do my part God will take care of the rest.

I concluded that it is very important to do hard things in this lifetime. It is much easier for me to sit back and take the easy way out, which is reflective of my human nature. However, doing the hard things in life, whether for school, work or even when it comes to relationships with family and friends, are what I believe help me develop a Godly character. I believe the journey is just as important as the final result. A difficult journey with bumps here and there allows me to gain the experience and satisfaction that with God’s help I was able to do something productive and meaningful. It is also important to challenge myself in difficult tasks to be an example to others, a way of letting my light shine–hopefully not for reasons of pride but to demonstrate to others God’s glory and what He was able to accomplish through me. Being carnal will lead to times where I might fall back into a doubtful way of thinking. This is why I continually try to remind myself that through God ALL things are possible.

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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

©2024 Church of the Eternal God